Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Some Thoughts for the coming year" - December 30, 2016

Don’t we all start the New Year with optimism?  It is the time of the year the gyms fill up, only to dwindle back to normal traffic by late February.

And while our thoughts today may go to parties, soon practical thoughts intrude. Like getting ready to do our taxes, paying off those Christmas bills and organizing ourselves a little bit better the coming year.

I started using an app lately that helps me keep things straight.  It is a journaling app. There are any number in the Google Play and Apple App stores. I have not looked at many.  The one I’m using is not syncing right, so I’ll find another.  Even so, I’ve been impressed with its usefulness.

With it I can jot a quick note. If I choose, it also records my location and the current weather. Soon after I started using it, I had my once-every-10-years lower back spasm. I tracked when I took pain meds with it.

I also track significant events in my day so that I can jog my memory to them later on.

You could use it as a journal is meant to be used, pouring out your heart for only yourself to read. While that might be hard on a phone, there is a website for the one I started using—although, as I said--not all the entries I made on the phone are showing up in the web version.

My mother made notes on a monthly calendar not only of appointments but significant events. She kept those calendars for years. They helped years later when we had to track certain events.

You could also keep a note titled “Journal for Jan. 2016” on Google Keep and add to it every day.  At least I know it syncs well.  And then start a new note for each month. 

Keep is one of my use-every-day apps. It is my grocery list and jot pad for information I will likely move to another app later on.

It is totally free and works with your Google account.  I cannot recommend it more highly.

My other everyday use app is of course Evernote. I’ve written ad nauseam about my online file cabinet. It now has over 25,000 notes in it. Anything I see I think I should keep a copy of, like receipts or web pages I may want to see again, I capture to Evernote. Again, it is free for a basic level of service, and affordable for the premium level.

Another new app from Google could be a godsend for worrying parents.  It is called Trusted Contacts and is now only for Android but soon for iPhone too.

If Dad and child both have it installed for example, and have accepted each other as a trusted contact, Dad can ping the child through the app with “Where are you?” The child can choose to decline to give the information or let the app provide it.  If the child does not respond for five minutes, the app automatically sends Dad the location.

One person can also proactively send their location if they feel they are in a dangerous place.

This app is not unlike ones some college campuses are using to help students be safe on those late-night walks across campus.  If you have a loved one at college, ask them if their school has one and if they use it.

Looking for a way to cut down on your Google Play expenditures?  Download Google’s App Google Opinions Rewards.  Every couple of days it will pop up with a short survey. Generally they ask if you’ve been in a certain business recently and what you thought of them. In exchange they pay you anywhere from 10 to 45 cents. Sometimes zero, but that is rare.

Don’t lie to them. Sometimes the business they ask about is non-existent; the question is to test your reliability. And too, if you have location services turned on, they know where you’ve been.

It's not for those who covet their privacy, but for those of us knowing the amount of data already collected about us. At least it lets us get some monetary value for sharing information.  I’ve made almost $60 and used some to buy apps and rent streamable movies.

Stop now and think about how you might like to better organize your life in 2017, and how that powerful computer in your pocket might help.

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