Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Google has a new tool to check your website to see if it is mobile-friendly. Just click the link and enter your site"s url into the box and view the results.

This example shows that my blog is mobile-friendly.

What happens if your site isn"t mobile-friendly? Your site won"t get listed at the top in google search results which means less visitors. Contact your website designer and let them know. If you need a website designer, let me know and I can put you in touch with my friends and colleagues in the business.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Add A New Chrome Search Widget

Hey there Information Junkies, this one's for you!

Got Chrome installed on your iPhone?
(if not tap on this App Store icon to install first)

Swipe down from the top of your iPhone screen to reveal the Today View and Notifications. Now you can add a handy-dandy search tool using the Chrome widget where you can either type or speak your query!

Here's how to get it to show up there:

Look for Chrome in the list then tap the "+" to add it to your widgets. Long-press then push with your finger to rearrange the order in which they appear when you pull down in the Today View.

When you tap the Voice Search button, it's initially configured to speak the results. If you want to turn off the audio, tap the little "i" icon for more information.

Look to the bottom to slide off "Speak answers back"

If you don't have the Chrome app, get it here:

Happy Searching!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ditch Annoying Ads In Safari on iPhone

Did you ever go to read an article on a website using your iPhone only to feel completely frustrated when an advertisement hijacks your screen and takes you somewhere else because you accidentally tapped an ad while scrolling?

Don't put up with that! Use Reader View!

Not all sites support it and if they don't, shame on them! When a site supports Reader View, it will briefly display it in the same place where the URL or website address appears before returning back to the website name. If you miss it, don't worry, just look for the little icon located in the far left of that website address field. It will look like the symbol for a paragraph.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What's On My iPhone

People always ask me what apps they should install on their iPhone or iPad. I've been wanting to make a mini catalog like this for a long time and I finally started to scratch the itch. I've created a "What's On My iPhone" Pinterest board. I've embedded it below using a script. If for some reason it doesn't load properly, just click this link. For each pin I've included a short and sweet reason for why I chose to install the app and what purpose it serves. I started getting punchy after pinning for a while so some of them are a little silly. Several of them I wrote as if my great aunt were asking me about apps on her very first smartphone.

I'm hoping I can use it as a point of reference because I get asked this question so many times and I always feel like it's more of a needs-based answer. This way the viewer can just skim through and see what might apply to them or maybe find something they hadn't even considered.

Follow Melissa Davis's board What's On My iPhone on Pinterest.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How To Make an iPhone Wallet

It's 7:38 AM and I'm tired, haven't yet brushed my teeth, the kids are fighting over a toy and dragging their feet trying to get out the door to go to school on time. I'm rushing to get organized while throwing on something that resembles clothes and I'm lucky if I manage to slip on some matching shoes because thank goodness I only need to look presentable from the waist up during the morning drive-and-drop-off at my eldest son's school. Do you know this dance?

I'm here to tell you that rushing out the door to run errands without grabbing a purse now is so liberating! My iPhone in its new case is now my new wallet and it's the only thing besides my water bottle and keys that I grab while dashing out the door. It's rugged, durable, stylish, and convenient now that it's protected by the NewerTech NuGuard KX combined with a Kena Kai iROO phone pouch on the back. I get so many compliments on this case and pouch combo.

I love buying my computer parts and accessories from Other World Computing and always recommend them to friends, family and clients. When they asked me to review one of their cases, I couldn't say no. They provided me with this NewerTech NuGuard KX case along with the KXs Screen Armor to put through the paces. When I saw what a rugged case it was, I knew it would be my new full-time case. I had already been using a regular TPU case with a pouch on the back, but wasn't wild about the color combo. When they sent me this case in the Darkness color, I just had to get another iROO pouch for the back in the same black color and now I have the most awesome iPhone wallet!

The NewerTech NuGuard KX iPhone case by itself is some serious protection for your iPhone. Add to it the KXs Screen Armor (screen protector) and you've got something really rugged that even the kids can play on without fear of having your precious iPhone damaged.
Here is a description from the manufacturer: "Unlike common military-impact test grade iPhone® case materials, the NuGuard KX uses state-of-the-art X-Orbing gel technology to absorb and evenly distribute kinetic energy. This revolutionary technology is then engineered into an effective one-piece design that's available in eight attractive color combinations."
Here is a photo of the two products I combined to make my perfect "iPhone Wallet."

The NuGuard KX is very tough, but not too thick and bulky. It feels good in your hand and has a great grip to it. It has a tire-tread look to it on the back. At first I thought it a bit masculine for my own tastes, but in a color like Darkness, it's actually very unisex. I also like to think of it like that little black dress mother tells you that should always remain in your closet. I so rarely wear dresses much anymore, but with a little black iPhone case, I feel like I'm stylin!

Normally I like purple, but I'm very picky about the shade of purple. Black makes it easier and it always looks great no matter what you're wearing — if you're fashion-conscious. I suck at fashion, so this really is the best color for me because it just goes with everything. The other really great thing about this case is that when I upgrade to the next iPhone, my husband will get this one and he's already excited about this case and pouch combo.

One of the design features I really appreciate is the lip around the front perimeter. I was quite surprised at how it doesn't get in the way when trying to move apps around like a lot of cases I've seen. I have been using this case for over a month now and love it. It has been drop-tested by accident several times now by both the kids and I and it holds up wonderfully.

Having my iPhone dropped is one less thing I panic about because of this case. It has landed straight onto the glass on hard surfaces with absolutely no damage whatsoever. The NuGuard KX case is totally mom-approved! 

Of course, I wouldn't recommend testing this for yourself, so just take it from me — I've taken one for the team here several times over! This is important for parents who let their little ones play with their iPhones. Let's admit it, this happens to us all and maybe more than we'd like at times. This would be a great iPhone case for a kid's phone if they're old enough to have one of their own. It's so rugged, just watch this video of an iPhone inside this case being drop-tested from a wind turbine! My son LOVES this video and it's all he would talk about when I first started using this case.

The ports are all accessible and I have no issues plugging things into the bottom.
One of my biggest areas of concern when it comes to cases is the camera cut-out. I always worry about flash halo. Shiny plastic too close to the flash can result in a funky halo or ghosted edges on your photos because of how the light bounces off the inside edge. This case does not present that problem at all. As you can see here, there is plenty of room around the camera while still protecting that area because of how it's raised up. My one and only critique here is that I only wish they could have designed it so that there were just a few more millimeters of space to the left of the camera hole so that I could still use my magnetic lenses and ring set. If there were just a teeny bit more space, I could have kept the metallic ring affixed and still be able to attach my macro lens without needing to remove the case. Luckily the case does remove easily enough so I can clip on my top-loading 3-in-1 lens kit to take creative shots.

I hope this review of the NewerTech NuGuard KX iPhone case is helpful when you're looking for a protective case for your iPhone 5 or 5s. They come in several colors besides Darkness, including: Roulette Red, Midnight, Rose, Trooper, Eagle Shield, Buzz, and Nubar Forest.

Although this is primarily a review for the iPhone case, I highly recommend getting the iROO pouch and putting these two products together. It has suited my needs really well and is a winning combination. Let me know if it works for you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Adorable Little App: Baby Tweets

Little language learners will find Baby Tweets by Creative Lamas fun to use no matter what language is native to them. When I first launched this app, my initial impression was that my 4-year old is a little too advanced in development to benefit from an app such as Baby Tweets. Then I tried the different languages and noticed how he was still engaged and trying to make the same sounds. I took French in high school, so it was fun to try and remember some of basic words I had forgotten. Keagan's little cousins on the other side of the country are learning Hebrew and Russian in addition to English, so it will be fun to share this with my sister-in-law and maybe next time they FaceTime with each other, they'll have new words to share.

The app is universal so it works on all iOS devices (iPhone, iPad or iPod touch). Some of the icons look a little stretched out on the smaller screen iPhone version, but it looks great on iPad. The app voice has a slight English accent which is fine with me as I prefer to hear it. (US English compared to UK English.) The buttons or target areas for tapping are large and responsive.

The app is free with the ability to upgrade to the full version which unlocks the remainder of the screens. There are just enough screens offered in the free version to give you an idea of whether or not you'd like to advance to more content. I appreciate how the parental controls section is clever in that if the baby or child were to tap on the "Full Version" button, it asks you to "Please insert your year of birth" before continuing. There are no annoying ads and it does not nag you to upgrade. These features are crucial for me as a parent when selecting an app for my children. Ads get in the way of learning and accidental purchases are frustrating for parents. This app has none of that which is why I was happy to review it for my blog when the developer offered me a promo code for the full version.

What I like most about this app is how easy it is to switch between the different languages without needing to speak that language natively. You just tap on the country flag icon and from there the screens continue on in the language you've selected. It's a fun way even for an adult to learn some basics of a new language! Here is some additional information directly from the developer and I encourage you to check out their app available from my affiliate links here:

Baby Tweets
First Words app for toddlers
This application has more than 70 word exercises to enrich the child’s vocabulary. With beautiful art, engaging feedback and lots of surprises it is an app that both the baby and the parent will appreciate! The toddler, from about one to two years, is encouraged to identify objects in a picture, showing a number of objects familiar to him. When he touches the correct picture he receives positive reinforcement. In the event he chooses incorrectly he will hear the correct name of the object sought and in this way will enlarge his vocabulary. Infants from the age of one and a half to two years old, is capable of learning new words every day. The Baby Tweets application is designed to aid the parent to expose the infant to a variety of words thus improve his language skills.

· From 1+ years.
· Free from advertisements.
· Free to install and to play on 4 screens· $1.99 for 8 additional levels.
· Designed for web, iOS and Android.
· Easy navigation.· Languages: English, French, Russian and Hebrew
· Developer: Eran Lesser, Creative Lamas

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Don't Let Your iPhone Spill The Beans

I have experienced iPhone theft twice. The first time was with iOS 6 and we recovered it within 24 hours with police assistance. The second time on iOS 7, not so lucky. This is life. My hope in revealing this experience is that our loss will be your gain and maybe you'll have a better outcome.

Update: I published this piece in April when our second iPhone had been stolen by a student in a classroom several months prior. I am happy to report that I have successfully recovered the stolen iPhone! I did keep pinging it, meaning using Lost Mode to send a message to the screen, and finally someone decided to text me and tell me they "found" it. Long story short, the iPhone was allegedly "purchased from a friend" and the person's girlfriend tried to restore it and discovered the message. We had to "pay off" this individual for a small sum of money, but we got the phone back and no data was lost of compromised. I will write more about this story in another post because I learned a lot more about the recovery process. Stay tuned!

Here are my experiences with the Find My iPhone process

I really, really wish Apple would require a passcode or fingerprint ID in order to disable connectivity from Control Center so that a thief can not do it by enabling Airplane Mode and/or disabling Wi-Fi, but sadly, that is not the case and it does not bode well for us.

I believe we were able to recover the first iPhone because the thief couldn't take it offline unless he powered it off, let the battery die or went to a location with no coverage. Control Center was not a feature in iOS 6 at that time. Lucky for us, he chose to plug it in and charge it so it remained locked and online. (We know he tried to hack it, because we got it back without its Otterbox case.)

When you suspect your iPhone has been stolen, you should immediately report the theft to police so you can be issued a police report number. Once you have that number, if you can track the phone to get a location on a map, you can call 911 (they told me it's ok) and a police officer will meet you at the location to offer assistance. They will ask you on the phone how accurate the GPS signal is and you can tell them within 10 feet of the suspect. You will need to tell them cross streets or landmarks. I found it helpful to take screen shots (command-shift-4) and note the location on the iCloud map then plug that information into Google Maps because from there, you can look up "what's here" and get local landmarks or businesses. We were able to meet the police officer at a nearby 7/11 to retrieve our phone. After this first incident, I realized how handy it was to have our family photo or something with a picture of the phone's owner on the lock screen because this way, the police officer took one look at us, knew the phone belonged to us and handed it over with no additional paperwork.

We should have more control over Control Center

While you'd think it's just as easy for a thief to power the phone off, where's the fun in that? Maybe they want an extra flashlight, timer or calculator in their pocket or they want to take selfies with the camera in case you do get your phone back so you can see all the fun you missed while your phone was away. All of those features are still available from iOS 7's Control Center while the phone is locked and offline so their friends will think they're cool. I think Apple should also make it so that the phone can not be powered off while in Lock Mode. Again, this is not currently the case, but I hope that changes in a future update!

Punks, thugs and middle-schoolers steal iPhones for the thrill of it. It's like a bug to a cat. First they pluck its legs off so it can't go anywhere and then they just bat at it to torture it.

All it takes is a quick swipe up from the bottom, a tap on the airplane icon and now you can probably get away with wiping it and restoring it if the owner wasn't smart enough to enable Find My iPhone. By the time you realize it's been stolen, it may be too late.

I think you should have a choice of what shows up in Control Center. I am not a frequent flyer and I'm fine with unlocking the phone and going to Settings to enable Airplane Mode. I mean, how hard is it? I get that it's a convenience and encourages more people on planes to disable connectivity easily, but leaving it available to disarm the wonderful security features of Find My iPhone? Is the convenience really worth the security risk? I'd like to see the ability to customize that area or disable the connectivity icons for Airplane and Wi-Fi altogether. Of course, having Bluetooth there has come in very handy for me, so I'd like to see that stay. I just think that disabling settings which compromise security should be passcode or fingerprint Touch ID protected. Make it a choice and I'll choose it.

If you swipe down from the top, you get the handy, dandy Notification Center. Check it out for yourself. What kinds of revealing information would your iPhone's thief be able to mine from the lock screen before it goes into Lock Mode? Saucy text messages? Your next appointments? Just something to keep in mind if you and your device become separated. I've heard people say they don't care much about their phone if it goes missing — it's just a thing, right? Ok, but this thing has a lot of bells and whistles turned on by default for your convenience and I'm here to tell you to take a closer look at this thing.

You may refer to me as Mistress Protector of The Experience and heed my advice or else pay the price. Muwahahahaha! (Ok, someone seriously needs to make me a new avatar now.)

Even though lack of connectivity creates a pressing problem, it's still incredibly important to set up Find My iPhone because of Activation Lock — available only in iOS 7. While your iPhone is offline, you will not be able to track it, but at least you'll know your data is safe. You can access this app by logging in on another trusted iPhone, iPad or iPod touch that has it installed or any computer where you can log in to and click the Find My iPhone web app. I've even had a trusting family member on the other side of the country ask me to log in on their behalf to track their device when they had no other alternative at the time. The commands you issue will show as pending and if your lost or stolen iPhone ever resumes connectivity, it will receive the command and complete the action such as enabling Lost Mode or sounding a audible signal. Of course for ultimate, added protection, I encourage everyone to use a password manager and never store their passwords in the browser (Safari). I've said it before and I'll say it again, 1Password is good for this plus it even has a built-in browser.

Find My iPhone in the iOS App Store

It is crucial to get your iPhone into Lost Mode immediately

Siri from the lock screen is an awesome, awesome feature and I really miss using it that way, but there were some disturbing revelations during my testing. To see what I mean, try these little exercises while imagining you are the thief who has your iPhone in their hot little hands. While your screen is locked, press and hold the Home Button, wait for the 'beep beep' then ask,

"Siri, where do I live?"
If the thief gets a guilty conscience, they can always drive to your home in the middle of the night and put your phone in your mailbox, right? Um. Yeah.

If you use Find My Friends and have locations enabled:
"Siri, where is my spouse/husband/wife/child/_____?"
Now the thief knows both where you live AND that you may be home alone and for kicks, they can go stalk your spouse/child/other in the parking lot. at night.

Even if you don't use Find My Friends:
"Siri, who is my spouse/husband/wife/child/_____?"
Now the thief has the contact information for that individual if you've made the connections in your Contacts under Related Names. Of course it's not too hard once they figure out your name to start poking around in your Contacts using Siri to rat you out.

Siri will only work if there is an internet connection. Lost Mode disables Siri!

This means a thief has from the time they pilfer your phone until you initiate Lost Mode to mine your sensitive information by getting Siri to spill the beans on you. If the thief disables connectivity by enabling Airplane Mode or disabling Wi-Fi or both, then Siri from the lock screen will no longer work, but your iPhone will show as offline when you try to track it. At this point, you better hope the thief hasn't taken notes.

I still love using Siri for these features and I rely on Find My Friends a lot, but from now on I'll be doing so only after unlocking my iPhone with my fingerprint Touch ID! It's almost as fast anyhow on an iPhone 5s. (You'll still need a PIN or passcode on older models.)

Find Friends in the iOS App Store

A note on the audible signal

This Find My iPhone feature comes in really handy when you suspect your iOS device is lost somewhere near by like a sofa, under the bed or in a child's room. You can hear the sound even if the volume has been muted or turned all the way down. The signal will sound until one of two things happens: (1) someone presses the volume button to stop the sound or (2) you unlock your phone with your code. Um, you do have your iPhone locked with at least a PIN, right? Do it RIGHT NOW if not! Tsk. Tsk. I mention this because I don't want you to be under the impression that some thief could have your phone and it will just keep wailing and dinging because, unfortunately that's not the case! Again! It's easy to just press the sleep or volume button and it will silence the annoyance. I think the damn thing should just ding incessantly until it's been unlocked so that if a thief does have it, it's obvious like that dye in pools that follows you around if you pee in it! (so I've been told)

Remote Wipe

If you think your phone is just lost, you might want to give it a little time, but if you know it's been stolen and have no hope of getting it back, then you should probably wipe it remotely using Find My iPhone. Just know that if you do this, there's no hope of ever recovering your phone using the hi-tech methods currently at your disposal. Unless you are in clear and present danger, the police will not track your phone or trace phone numbers coming from people claiming to have your phone. (I asked when I filed the police report.) They will assist you to go retrieve the phone and it is ok to call 911 for that reason. I prefer to hold out hope and try to ping it every so often in hopes it will come back online at some point. Maybe, just maybe the message will get across while I'm obsessing over something else in life.

So, of course, the answer for now is to just disable all of this stuff from showing up on your lock screen or from being accessible from Notification Center or Control Center or Siri while locked. And welcome back to iOS version 6 something or other.

If you do choose to keep these features enabled for convenience, then you had better be the type of person who treats their iPhone as an appendage and never leave it out of your sight. Only you can decide where that balance between convenience and security lies and I hope my experience, time and report here helps you make a more informed decision.

Label It

One more tip and surprise, surprise, it's something low-tech. Get or borrow a label maker and label your devices — all of them! Of course it probably won't do much good to put your cell phone number on your iPhone's label if you lose it since you won't be able to answer it right away! Put a different phone number on that label, like your spouse's mobile or your landline or even a Google Voice number that will ring or text your replacement cell or that of a friend you trust. This way, if a good samaritan finds your dead iPhone months later, they can call you or text you on a number where you can be reached. I think cell phones are best because they can receive a text in case it's someone who can't figure out that they need to tap the green number on the screen.

Here's a label maker I love. You can get thin, transparent tape for it and it looks really nice on along the side of your iPhone or on the back of your iPad — almost as good as an engraving. You could even put it on the side that has the SIM card port to deter a thief from removing it. I chose to put mine along the side with the volume buttons in hopes someone will see it there. I keep a transparent case on my phone, so this is visible through it, but I removed it here for the photo to give you a better idea. The labels are pretty strong and hard to peel off.

Do yourself a favor: stalk yourself!

To test all of this, I simulated different scenarios with and without connectivity. I disabled my home router and enabled Airplane Mode. I was able to play around with the features in the lock screen before putting the phone into Lost Mode then I could see what would happen and what wouldn't. I encourage you to do the same with your own phone. Test out these features now so that if it ever happens to you, you'll be better prepared.

 #YaMightLearnSomethin #PSA #Rant #Security #LessonsLearnedTheHardWay

Bonus Points if you got Rickrolled by reading Apple's knowledge base article on Control Center

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