Friday, December 9, 2016

LadyMarry is a pocket wedding planner

When our daughter announced she had found Mr. Right and was ready to get married, she kicked off an eight-month planning process that included flow charts, databases and a massive ring binder. It’s too bad we didn’t have the LadyMarry Wedding Planner app to help carry the load.

LadyMarry is a mobile project management app created by people who found a great match between technology and romance.

It contains personalized timetables, checklists and to-do items that help a moms and other nuptial organizers keep track of important tasks and hit their delivery dates.

The app tells you when to order and mail invitations, book the venue and caterer, select the wedding party and the myriad other details that come with the big production. The program works with Thumbtack, an online platform that lets people find and, hire and rate service providers such as photographers, limos and other local vendors.

More important, the app works across platforms to let friends and family members share notes and help with tasks whether they have an iOS or Android device or prefer to use a web browser.

LadyMarry is a free app available on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store. There are more details on the LadyMarry website and you can get share tips and ideas @GetLadyMarry on Twitter.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Here's a cure for coffeemaker spills

At the company where I worked for many years, there was a coffee maker in the IT area because, you know, nothing gets coded without coffee.

I was a frequent visitor to the coffee station, but I wasn’t allowed to make a fresh pot. I got banned after a couple of disasters that left large puddles of hot java sloshed across the counter top.

I’m apparently not the only person who can’t always effectively move coffee from the brewer to the pot.

A company called Just In Case Deck has developed and patented a device that will capture the coffee overflow from a clogged brewing machine before it becomes a mess.

The Just In Case Deck serves as a platform for an electric coffeemaker. It has a tapered top with open slots that will let any liquid that escapes from the machine drop safely into a collection chamber. The chamber is large enough to capture more than the full contents of a typical 14-cup coffee maker.

The desk keeps spills away from the coffee machine’s electrical components and away from napkins, papers or anything else in the potential puddle zone. The deck will also collect moisture and liquids from other sources such as humidifiers or house plants.

The Just In Case Deck sells for 29.95 at the Just In Case Deck website. You can see deck in action in the video below and follow the company @JustInCaseDeck on Twitter.

MindMajix can has 300+ tech training courses

My son recently landed a new job with a tech startup company in California. He’s not a programmer or an engineer, but he made himself attractive to tech companies by taking online courses on topics such as project management and agile software development.

Companies like Mindmajix Technologies are helping employees and job-seekers broaden their skill sets through training courses delivered over the Internet.

The company offers more than 300 courses that are led by live instructors. The course catalog includes training on high-demand software such as Oracle and SAP and hot topics such as Big Data, cloud computing and mobile app development.

Each course description includes the time commitment required, an extensive description of the curriculum and details on certification options. The listings also include ratings and comments posted by students.

Details on all of the courses are available on the MindMajix website. The site offers free demo sessions and a query form where visitors can submit questions about any of the courses.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wordspeller app untangles words that sound alike

Metal, mettle, meddle, medal and sometimes even middle. Five words that sound very much alike but each one has its own unique meaning.

They’re called homophones, two or more words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins and, in most cases, spelling.

We probably heard about words like that in our high school English class but, like so much from high school, most of us forgot all about them.

But not Diane Frank. She spent years compiling the American Wordspeller and Phonetic Dictionary. It’s a collection of some 68,000 words that have sound-alike siblings compiled into a mobile app. It’s based on the phonetic dictionary that Frank wrote in 1998.

The app is one that anyone who writes should keep close at hand, especially if they write memos, reports or even emails for work. Nothing makes me cringe more that seeing someone who should no better mix up “its” and “it’s” or write “there” when they really meant to say “their.”

A lot of common homophones are easy to master. Search homophones on Google and you’ll find lists or charts of 10 or 20 common words that sound alike. But Wordspeller goes way beyond the basics.

For example, it’s the only dictionary that offers all available prefixes for a word and spells them out for you. Bring up the word “satisfy” and along with a definition, the app will refer you to prefixes dissatisfy and unsatisfied and suffixes such as satisfying, satisfaction and satisfactory. The app displays suffixes spelled out and prefixes spelled out.

Wordspeller is also useful for cross referencing words that sound alike. It’s primary talent is its ability to find words even when you don’t know how they are spelled. Just start trying and the after two or three letters, Wordspeller will will present a list of possible matches.

I entered T-H-A-I-R and Wordspeller quickly determined where I was headed. It offered a list that included there, their and they’re, with a short definition for each word.

With Wordspeller, no spelling rules are required. Just type in what you think you heard and in most cases the app will figure it out. And it will work completely offline. It doesn’t need an Internet connection to do its job.

American Wordspeller has also been cited as a useful tool to help children or adults deal with dyslexia and other spelling problems.

The app is available for $2.99 in the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and for .99 cents for Androids in the Google Play Store. If English is your second language, there’s also ESL versions for iPhones and Androids at the same prices in both stores.

For more details, check out the Wordspeller website and for more on words, phonetics and how the app can help people with dyslexia, follow @wordspeller on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why an explainer video is a key marketing tool

When business owners and entrepreneurs ask me how they can promote their company or themselves in this digital age, I tell them the first thing they need is a responsive website, one that looks great on all platforms, especially mobile phones.

The next thing they need is a video that explains who they are and what they do. Why a video? I like the explanation offered by marketer Derek Halpern:

No matter how hard you try, some people will never feel like they know the “real” you until they see you on video.

And while a video featuring real people can can make a connection between a business and potential customers, animated video can often tell a complicated story in a in simple terms. For example, am animated video produced by Again Studios explains how tax-savings investment work and why certain mutual funds can offer more savings than some other options.

The studio has been producing animated explainer videos for more than six years for clients in business and government explain their products, services, causes and philosophies.

You can browse a portfolio of their work and request a free price quote at the Again Studios website. Check their blog for ideas about how an explainer video can help grow a business and spread the word and you can follow the company @AgainStudios on Twitter.

Explainer Video Demo Reel from Again Studios on Vimeo.

App puts parents in charge of devices

When my children were young, one of our concerns was telephone time. We tried to monitor who they talked to and how long they were on the phone.

Today’s world of Internet-connected phones and tablets makes a parent’s job far more difficult. But technology can help.

An app called Switch Off allows users to control how long their children can use their phone or tablet and which apps they can use when the device is in their hands.

The app is designed to limit screen time for children and to make room for other activities, such as playing outdoors or doing their homework. And it can give parents the peace of mind that comes from knowing they won’t be wandering into the darker corners of the Internet.

The app works on Android phones and tablets. The adult in charge sets an access timer and determines which apps are on or off.

The app is available for .99 cents in the Google Play Store. To get a closer look at the app, check out the Switch Off website, which will display in 14 different languages, and watch the video below.

You can also follow @switchoff_app on Twitter and visit the company’s Facebook page.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Currency Converter puts exchange rates in your pocket

The hardest thing I had to do when I visited Japan wasn’t riding the subway or ordering from a restaurant menu. It was keeping track of how much I was spending

A tasty bowl of udon served at an ordinary restaurant might be listed at 420 yen and a soft drink from a vending machine - which are plentiful in Tokyo and other cities - might be marked 100 yen.

That might sound like a lot of money, but it turns out that, at current exchange rates, that lunch would cost less than $5. I know that because I consulted Currency Converter, a free app created by Amdoren.

The app offers speedy currency conversions for more than 150 currencies. If you’re traveling with a multi-national group, as I was, you could price noodles for everyone and show costs in Euros, Pounds or Pesos.

The free version of Currency Converter shows two currencies at exchange rates that are updated every 12 hours. A premium version displays up to five currencies with rates updated when the app is launched.

Currency Converter is available for Android devices in the Google Play Store. The premium versions a one-time price tag of $1.99, or about 128 Russian rubles.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

These computers are built to go to war

Some years back, I was allowed to tag along with a US Army unit during combat training in the Mojave Desert at Fort Irwin, the Army’s National Training Center.

Long before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the NTC was the place the Army brought its troops, weapons and computers to see how they could perform in an environment of intense heat and persistent dust.

I’m guessing that the NTC is also the kind of environment the people at Chassis Plans have in mind when they build the company’s line of rack-mount computers and servers.  

Chassis Plans says its computers use aircraft grade aluminum to provide the optimum ruggedness with minimal weight. The systems also incorporate their SysCool Intelligent Adaptive Fan Control System for “optimum environmental performance and minimize fan noise.”

The US-built computers use motherboards or backplanes containing a variety of chip sets and processors including Core i5/i7 and 4/6/8/10/12 Core single and dual Xeon processors.

To get a closer look at their lineup of rugged computers, displays and keyboards, visit the Chassis Plans website.


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