Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jun 1, 2015
I have some pretty good friends. In this case, my friend and fellow consultant Jesan Sorrells introduced me to Flipboard… even if it took me a couple of months to go back to. I’m not sure why I was curious, but eventually I was, and man, I’m glad I went to the site, set up my account, and them added it to both my smartphone and my Nook.
In essence, Flipboard is kind of a news aggregator and RSS feed reader. When you sign up, it already has a couple of things for you to look at, such as news stories. You get to select specific subjects, some which the program will recommend to you once you select a couple of things, and then you’re pretty much ready to go.
Once you start reading different stories, if you want to share them in different social media formats you can set up your devices with your usernames and passwords to those sites you want to share to. If you use an alternative application to access those sites, you have the option of selecting them without having to worry about signing in (I use different apps to access Twitter for instance), but you can go either route. After that, the process is easy to do.
For the longest time, that’s all I was using it for. Then I was talking to my buddy Yasmin Shiraz, and she clued me in on many other uses for the program.
For instance, the RSS part. I now follow a few blogs, including my own (I want to see what others see), because you can add the RSS feed on either your devices or the Flipboard website. If you wish, you can also comment via the platform, although when you’re done you’ll have to back up a couple of times to get back to Flipboard if you’re on your device. No biggie there.
It’s the magazines feature that makes you a publisher of another kind. Not only can you decide on subjects you want to read, but you can decide to create what they call “magazines”, which are categories of things you’re interested in that you either want to share with others or save for yourself to access whenever and wherever you wish. You can always delete what you decide you don’t want anymore, which is a handy feature if you put it into the wrong magazine. You can also leave a note on whatever you save in a magazine. Why would you want to do that?
Because you can subscribe to other people’s magazines, and they can subscribe to yours. That’s the fascinating part if you ask me. I’ve subscribed to Yasmin and Jesan so far, and as I find other people I’ll probably subscribe to them as well. If you look to the right —-> you’ll see where you can subscribe to my magazine. That gives you access to any magazines I’ve created, and then you can set up your own magazines as well.
You can also comment on whatever I share on my magazine, which is pretty cool, which includes my own blog posts if I happen to pop something in one of my magazines. I won’t abuse it, and so far I haven’t seen many other people abusing it also by putting all their own content into a category. But I will do it from time to time; after all, I write most posts about things I’m interested in, so why not share more right? 🙂
One last thing to share is a link to a browser plugin they call Flip It, which gives you the ability to add any article you see to your magazines by clicking on an app that you can have located on your toolbar. I believe it works for all browsers, but you can check it for yourself; it works great on mine, as I’m on Firefox.
The best way to show you how this stuff works is to share a couple of videos with you. The first is a very brief introduction of what it’s all about:
The second is how to create and use magazines:
Trust me, this is pretty cool. Now I have something to do if I’m away from home and have some time to kill. Check it out, check me out, and create your own magazines.
By the way, you didn’t think I was going to forget to pimp my latest book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy did you? If you haven’t heard about it, check out the link. If you have, check out the link and think about buying the package… 😉
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 21, 2015
Okay, I’ll own up to this; I have a massive password file on my computer. Sure, we’re not supposed to do that but come on, how the heck am I supposed to remember every single password from just about 20 years on the internet?
Smartphones are a bit different though. Sure, I could upload my password file via either Evernote or Dropbox, but I’m not quite that trusting of it. Not only that, but I don’t need every single password on my phone. I do need certain passwords though, such as when I go to restaurants that have wi-fi and I don’t want to keep asking them what the password is.
Keeper is a smartphone app for, I believe, every type of smartphone that’s out there. What it allows you to do is put all of your passwords in it and then you only have to memorize one overall password to open the program up. If you pay for it, which is only $9 or so a year, you can add the application to any of your other laptops, tablets or computers and sync the information so that no matter what you’re carrying around with you, so that you can use each item to add passwords.
I have to admit that I think it’s pretty fantastic, but there are a couple of small downsides. For one, you must, and I stress MUST, remember your password to Keeper. If you forget that you only get 5 shots at getting in. At that point it disables your account and erases everything; ouch!
You also need to make sure that, if you’re deciding to change email addresses, you get in there and update the email address before you change up. It’s not something most people would think about since, once you have the app on your smartphone, you’d ever have to deal with. So far I’m lucky to still be able to get into my app without it asking me for an email address; whew!
Anyway, not only do I recommend this app for your phone, but look, I can write a short post! 🙂
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 25, 2014
As many new visitors to the site have noticed (at least those who are real), they’re not getting a message mentioning their lack of a gravatar, and some of them are going straight into the spam filter. What’s going on?
The title of this post tells it all. It’s the new addition to my plugins called Anti-Backlink, and it’s a free download available to anyone who’s purchased the CommentLuv Premium plugin from Andy Bailey. It adds way more functionality to trying to reduce the amount of spam blogs get while trying to encourage more people to take the time to go get a gravatar, or avatar for the uninitiated. If you’re going to be online and participating on blogs it’s a must.
Of course the plugin does so much more. Something you can do, that I don’t do, is set how many comments one has to have approved before they start getting CommentLuv link automatically. You can also make the determination that certain people’s posts you want to screen first, thus putting them on a moderated list via their email address. I like this one because there are a few people whose comments seem to vacillate between being okay and being horrible. Sometimes you just don’t know, and as much as I’m against initial moderation, I do believe if someone stops by and they seem slightly dodgy this isn’t such a bad idea.
You can also decide to whitelist email addresses so that they’ll never pass through moderation… as long as they pass any other rules you’ve set up on your blog, since mine has a hold on any comments with a link on them. However, it seems that whitelisting doesn’t take care of those few folks who keep using a particular browser that sends them to spam for whatever reason. lol
One other thing I activated, which will put a stop to something that’s irked me to no end for years, that some bloggers have recommended people do that’s sneaky, is to shut down folks who put more than just the root URL of their blog into the main area when they’re commenting.
Some folks try to get two links to articles on their site by being sneaky. What they’ll do is start off with the regular link, wait until the CommentLuv link comes up, then add a second article link. This plugin catches that and automatically holds that comment in reserve so that we can decide whether to remove it or blacklist the comment in its entirety.
The only minor problem I encountered while testing is that sometimes what it perceives is a sneaky backlink is actually where the blog is. For instance, my business blog is on my main business site, so after the link I have to add /Mitchblog for the link to the blog.
The real test? I used to have comments closed after 180 days, basically six months. Using this plugin along with the GASP pugin, also by Andy, I decided to see what happened if I opened it up to 365 days. Using both plugins, the amount of spam increased very little; almost everything else is being bounced so I’m not seeing it at all. Matter of fact, I just opened it up to 500 days as a further test.
Soon, the faceless will be less prominent here. At least I’ll still accept some folks if their comments are pretty good; not everyone is as nice. 🙂
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 21, 2014
Back on July 25th I mentioned that I had downloaded the Myfitnesspal app to my phone in an attempt to start addressing some of my health issues. I figured it was time to talk about it since as of last Wednesday I’d been using it for 4 weeks.
For those who aren’t in the know, Myfitnesspal is an app that one can use to help keep track of what you’re eating. In a video I did many months ago I talked about a different app called, appropriately enough, Food Diary, and it was a nice little piece of software that, in the long run, was more complicated in some ways and offered less than this app does.
If you want more detail on why I decided to use this app, check out this video:
Suffice it to say for everyone else, I had a health scare over one weekend while out of town and that told me it was time to get a bit more serious about my health and diet. My doctor had recommended I download this sucker and, me being me, I wasn’t going to do it. But I did, and now I’m glad I did.
Basically, this sucker makes you aware of what you’re eating, as well as tracks calories you’re putting away and other nutritional items. The other app just tracked food but this bad boy tracks the nutritional values, offers a way to scan food that have barcodes and tells you what’s in stuff, does all the calculations on a daily basis and, if you put in a goal, gives you a guide as to how much you’re putting away with everything you eat so that you know when to cut back and are more cognizant about what you’re eating.
In my case it was a real eye opener from the beginning. I started to learn that foods I thought were healthy weren’t close to being healthy. I can’t believe how many times I’ve eaten twice the amount of sodium in a day that’s recommended. I was stunned to see how much fat there is in a regular piece of bacon. And desserts… sniff!
Here’s the thing though. Not counting the first couple of days of working with the app, I’ve only gone over my daily allotted number of calories 4 times. Even by messing up sodium, potassium a few times, fat and sugar once or twice, this bad boy tracks calories and I’ve been able to modify my eating habits so that I stay under the calories. Also, you can earn calories back by exercising which, for me, involves walking, something I’d do more often if my back wasn’t hurting but something I’ve been doing more of, in small chunks, when the weather cooperates; I even walked on the treadmill one night. 🙂
Let’s get back to those calories for a minute. One of the things you should do with the app is set a goal, either a weight loss goal (this is for most of us) or a weight gain goal. You tell it where you are and where you want to go, and how fast you want to get there. I initially told the thing I wanted to lose a pound and a half a week, and realized there was no way I could eat that little amount of food and come close to sticking with it. Instead, I went with a pound a week, told it what I weighed now and the weight I wanted to get to and off I went.
Let’s talk progress, because I have some. At this point I’ve lost 2 1/2 pounds; that’s not bad. Some might not think it’s great but weight loss is always a good thing. However, the two biggest changes have been how I’ve decided to eat and my glucose levels. Let’s take these separately.
For the most part I really haven’t given up anything I’ve wanted, but I have given up some stuff I thought I wanted. For instance, maybe 2 times a week I’ll stop and get an Egg McMuffin at McD’s; instead, I’ll eat 2 pieces of toast or an English muffin, with the comparisons being the McMuffin comes in at 450 calories whereas, depending on type, the muffin or toast comes in around 200 calories. I’ve learned that for the most part I can eat less in the morning so that I can have a better dinner and still have dessert; that suits me just fine.
For lunch, shocking as it may be, turns out a Whopper has less calories than a grilled chicken Caesar salad at Wendy’s; that was a shocker. However, for the same amount of calories I can get a McD’s fish sandwich and a small fries. One offers more food if I start feeling the hunger because I didn’t eat enough breakfast; see how this works?
Dinner has been interesting. I eat some meals in the hotel room but most of the time I go out. If I go to a chain restaurant or a restaurant that’s popular in a certain area it’s easy to track (oh yeah, they have a massive database of foods and information; all you have to do is search for them during a particular meal).
If you go elsewhere you have to go into the search function and find something close to it. For instance, I go to this particular Japanese restaurant and I had to search separately for grilled chicken and grilled shrimp to add to the rice I get, and it turns out that steamed rice is very low in calories; I don’t do it all the time but most of the time I’m good with it.
If I’m measuring things well, I always have room for dessert. However, I’ve had shocks both good and bad. The good is that the calorie count in something like a Reese’s peanut butter cup or a Snickers isn’t all that bad at night. The bad is that serving sizes can be underwhelming. There’s this particular cake I like in the town I’m working in that turns out to have 530 calories per serving, and when I did the calculations it came out that the piece of cake I got was considered to be 3 servings; ouch! So, I had to cut it into 3 pieces to stay under. However, I learned that I could handle that dessert in small doses pretty well; always good to find out good things about yourself.
Now, the glucose levels. I’ve mentioned it here often that I’m diabetic. Well, my glucose levels were really out of hand I have to admit. My last eye appointment the doctor said it was starting to show up in my eyes; that’s never a good thing. My last doctor appointment, my overall numbers were down but not my much, and there was no other medications to take, and I was almost at the highest level of insulin one could take before moving into the next stage. In four weeks my glucose level has dropped from a monthly average of 230 (that’s extremely bad) to a level calculated on Wednesday of 129; that’s normal! I haven’t averaged normal since the first year I was diagnosed with diabetes; wow!
Am I happy with what this bad boy had done for me? Absolutely! If I hadn’t lost any weight I’d still be pretty happy. But there’s more.
First, you can add the app to all of your electronics, including your desktop or laptop computers, and all the information syncs whenever you update anything. As I mentioned earlier, if you have a problem with something like sodium you can track that, but you can also alter the numbers to suit you. I have a problem with potassium and unfortunately that one doesn’t always work because the government doesn’t make anyone tell you that, so many times they don’t tell you.
Second, if you’re of the mindset to do it there’s an entire community you can join to talk to people about the app, weight loss, health stuff and more. You can also hook up with someone to let them see what you’re eating and, if you create your own meals with the nutritional information they, and others can tap into it. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to do that yet; I want to drop way more weight first. lol
I’m not sure I can do a lot more justice to talking about this thing except to say that if you’re having any problems whatsoever that are related to eating habits, I’d recommend trying this bad boy in a heartbeat. I’ve even got my wife saying she’s going to start using it once she’s home from her conference; never good to start an eating plan when you’re leaving town for such a thing. 😉
That’s all I have. Any questions or comments… I’m ready to entertain them all.
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 28, 2014
I’ve been home for the past few days, taking time off for the holiday before heading back out of town. Before I came home, my wife called and asked if we should purchase one of those systems where you can turn your lights on and off no matter where you are in the country. Seems you buy those things from your cellphone carrier, and ours is Verizon. It sounded good to me, so she bought it before I came home.
As I talked about when I wrote about my Franklin Planner, I do well with lists. When I got home I put together a list of all the things I had to get done before I left town. This item wasn’t on my list, but luckily my wife had put it on her list. So, Monday night her alarm went off and it was time to load this sucker.
The first step involved deciding which 3 rooms we’d hook this thing up in. In 3 boxes were these big plug things (aren’t I descriptive?) that you put into the socket and then plugged a light into it. We decided to try 2 rooms first, since the other lamp she wanted to use needed a new bulb. That part went pretty smooth and the lights were turned on.
The next part involved downloading some software to our phones called WeMo by Belkin. The instructions in the box said to download the software, or app, and just follow the instructions.
The instructions were pretty simple. I downloaded the app, then went to my settings to see if each unit was showing under the WiFi area, and they were. All you do after that is open the app, put in your router password, and it would do the rest.
Unfortunately, the rest never came. My phone kept trying to find the server… actually that’s not quite accurate. It kept trying to load one of the things we’d plugged into the wall as the server. And it was failing miserably. I tried it on my wife’s phone; nothing doing. I thought maybe if I did one plug at a time that maybe it would work better, but not only didn’t that work, it still saw both units even after unplugging one.
And that’s not all. After trying to get this thing working for maybe 30 minutes I decided to take a break from it and, noticing that someone had sent me a message on Instagram, wanted to check that out. However, the phone was telling me I had no internet connection. When I went into my settings I saw that this WeMo thing had overridden my settings and made itself the primary router over my real primary router. When I tried to change it… I thought I heard an evil laugh as it refused to acquiesce to my demands.
Eventually I remembered how to get into all apps, find that bad boy, and disable it so it wouldn’t bother me the rest of the night. Tuesday afternoon my wife and I trouped up to the Verizon store to see if we did anything wrong. The guy we got said that it can be tricky and that it had taken him almost an hour to figure out how to get it working; really? He said he couldn’t do anything in the store because it had to be activated where the lights were, and to try it one more time. We left unsatisfied, but what can you do?
We got back home and I decided to start from scratch and uninstalled the program. Before reloading it however, I finally looked at the ratings, only to see that it averaged less than 2 1/2 stars; that’s not good. After reading a few of the reviews I called my wife into my office and read many of them to her. We both decided it wasn’t worth the grief, I uninstalled it from her phone, and we took those plugs back Tuesday late afternoon for a full refund; just to let you know, the plugs were $50 each.
Of course the recommendation is to always look at the stars and read through reviews of things before you download them to your smartphone, just like you should before you download programs to your computer. In this case, since it went through Verizon, my wife and I thought it had to be legitimate because, after all, they’re a large company.
As we left the store last evening I remembered that probably half the apps in both the Google Play store and Apple’s store are bad and haven’t been checked by anyone because of the volume. Had I been with my wife when she bought the thing I’d have hoped I would have asked questions beforehand and checked it out online so we could have made a better decision earlier; it certainly would have saved a lot of time.
How many of you have made purchases of things that you should have checked out before you did so? What about bad apps on your phones that gave you grief? I know I’m not alone; go ahead, admit it. 😉