Using Your Smartphone After a Stroke

Using Your Smartphone After a Stroke

downloadSome of you may already know this, but on June 8, 2015 at about 1:30pm, I had a stroke.

Oh, I’ve made all the arguments. I’m too young. I just lost 40 pounds. I eat right. I’m healthy.

Guess what, it didn’t matter. I had two things running against me, heredity and diabetes, which went undiagnosed and untreated for some time before it appeared… in the emergency room.

Luckily I caught it soon, was able to contact my wife, and made it to the hospital where the “reversal drug,” or TPA, was administered quickly. I walked out of the hospital two days later, was back working part time a week later, and back DJ’ing weddings less than two weeks after the stroke. All miracles made possible by hospital technology and the wonderful staff at Sanford Medical in Bismarck.

But now what? As I move along the rehab and other processes related to strokes and other similar issues I hear about a wide range of results ranging from my experience of a short hospital stay, to permanent nursing home stays. There’s also a huge range of technology experience, ranging from a tech guy like me, to someone who dabbles, like my dad, to totally inexperienced.

So, knowing that those who have suffered strokes and who may be assisting these folks might be needing some assistance in finding mobile resources, I’ve assembled some mobile and online resources to help cope with strokes, diabetes and other health issues. Many of the apps below are available for both Android and iOS devices, but the links go to the Google Play store.

  • Weight and Health Management : One of the biggest things for me was the fact that I had lost nearly 50 pounds before I had my stroke. I was already eating decent, was already watching my weight, and was already participating in a healthy lifestyle prior to my event. After my stroke and diabetic diagnosis, tracking meals, weight and other data points became extremely important. Some of the Android-based tools I’ve used are :
    • My Fitness Pal – A great mobile app to track your food, keep a list of your exercise, and even challenge your friends. The app will connect to other info like Fitbit and Jawbone Up, which is valuable if you don’t like keeping track of exercise seperately.
    • Google Fit – If you are a Google user and like to keep your stuff inside the Google universe, this app will do it all. This app can help you track your weight, your daily activity and specifically the daily heart healthy activity. Best of all, if you have a Google watch it can sync up using the same app on the watch.
    • Diabetes Tracker – Need a way to keep track of your insulin intake and your sugar levels. This app does that and more.
    • Google Drive – Like to track some of this info on your own by building a spreadsheet… like me? Build it inside Google Drive so you can access it on multiple devices and even share with our significant other and doctors. I also have a document that contains all of my test results gathered from individual emails, just to make it easy to find in one place.
  • Communication Apps : Since I now work from home, there was some thought of signing up for a system like Life Alert, but the cost and the length of time commitment was a barrier to entry. I looked for some alternatives, and thankfully there are a few out there.
    • Help Me! – This app promises to send a text message with your GPS info as well, which could come in very handy in certain situations.
    • Contact Widget – Add a widget that will contact anyone to your home screen. This will call and/or text anyone you add to this individual widget.
  • Miscellaneous Apps : There are a few other things I’ve used to track and maintain my healthy lifestyle for the last few months. I don’t know if they will prevent you from a life-altering event like a stroke or diabetic diagnosis, but it can’t hurt!
    • Healthcare App – Many of the larger healthcare systems have apps, or at least an online presence that you can access. Sanford Medical has their My Sanford Chart app which shows communication with healthcare professionals, your upcoming appointments, your bill, and more. Look for your particular healthcare system to see if they have something you can put on your phone or tablet.
    • MediSafe Meds and Pill Reminder – Right away, I was placed on a TON of medication to fight both a repeat stroke, and to get my diabetes under control. Remembering to take everything, especially with a brain injury, can be tough, so anything that can remind you a particular times to take particular medications is useful.
    • Lumosity – One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m a bit slower at a few things since my stroke. I’m getting significantly better at these items, and feel that I primarily owe my progress to Lumosity brain training. The daily brain exercises challenge you to get better each time you play, and it takes only about 15 minutes. The experience is best on a PC, but are available on phones and tablets.

There you have it. Some of the best things you can do if you or someone you love has been unfortunate enough to have suffered a life-altering event like stroke, diabetes or others. I’m fortunate that this was a “minor” event, which I hate to even say, but compared to many who have been through this I am very lucky.

Do you have an app or story to share about technology you use to fight strokes, diabetes or another health issue. Leave them in the comments below, or send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter.

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received the HTC One M9 and with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Best Android Fishing Apps

Best Android Fishing Apps

fishing-454367_640The ice has finally melted off the lakes and rivers of the north, and while a good many of you are waiting for fishing season to open, we’re already heading out on the water up here in North Dakota!

Since I’m part of the Verizon #VZWBUZZ Lifestyle team and being addicted to mobile technology it only seemed logical to grab my trusty Motorola Droid Turbo, jump online and find some apps to enhance the fishing experience.  So below are the eight best Android apps I could find to help you catch fish, enjoy the day, and be as safe as possible on the water.

  • Knots Lite – Many a fish tale has been spun over that trophy that got off right at the boat due to a poorly tied knot. Well “knot” anymore (see what I did there? I crack myself up sometimes)! Knots Lite shows you how to tie dozens of great knots to ensure that lure stays on the light when hooked up in that big walleye or bass. Knots Lite is FREE on Google Play.
  • My Fishing Advisor – Knowledge is power, and knowing when the fish are going to be biting can mean the difference between that fishing trip being a lot of fun catching fish and a lot of fun drinking beer. Somehow those two scenarios don’t seem so bad, do they? Anyways, My Fishing Advisor uses the SoLunar tables to determine when the best feeding and activity times for fish are based on your location, the moon phases, weather conditions and more. The solunar tables used to be the first thing I would read in Field & Stream. My Fishing Advisor does cost $4.99, but well worth it if you want to see what time you should be heading out on the water.  And don’t forget the beer.
  • Fishing Mobile – want to track what you caught, when, how and with what? Fishing Mobile will do that and more. Now you can instantly record the conditions, gear, speed and everything else in one place so the next time you’re wondering what to use that info is at your fingertips. Another free app available at the app store.
  • Rain Alarm – Who doesn’t like to be on a boat when it’s sunny, 75-80°, no wind? But throw some clouds and rain into that and most of us are heading for the dock. Know it’s coming before the other guys with the Rain Alarm. It will alert you when rain is in the area, how severe and what percentage of the area will be hit. Great for picnics, baseball games, motorcycling and tons of other outdoor activities.
  • American Red Cross First Aid – Sharp hooks, knives, sharp sticks, boat seats, open water… fishing has a lot of easy ways to get hurt. Be prepared (I was a Boy Scout once) with the American Red Cross First Aid app and fix those little boo boos so you can get back to staring at your fishing rod all day.
  • Fish Recipes – You caught it, now it’s time to enjoy the rewards with a new recipe. Fish Recipes contains hundreds of new ways to cook and enjoy your catch.
  • Google Maps – You can’t fish if you can’t find the fishing hole. Use Google Maps to look up, pinpoint and navigate to your favorite or new fishing site.

There are so many more, but I hope this list wets your appetite and gets you navigated towards fishing success. And don’t forget to share those photos and stories on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and everywhere else! I’m sure I missed some of your favorites, so leave them in the comments below, or better yet, shout at me @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Stay safe on the water, get licensed up, and take a kid fishing!

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I receive devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Logitech k480 Bluetooth Keyboard

Logitech k480 Bluetooth Keyboard

2015-03-18 10.56.10Yesterday I was on the fence on whether I should buy a Chromebook or not. For those of you not familiar with Chromebooks, they are cheap, laptop-like devices running Google’s Chrome OS. They have very little onboard memory, HD screens, similar ports to commercial laptops, and depend greatly on internet cloud services for hosting files and work. Some even come with LTE connectivity.

I have a laptop and also a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition, but the laptop, while powerful and work-friendly, is large and battery life is “ok.” The Note 10.1 is an awesome tool for email, following social media and viewing the web, digital books, entertainment and file viewing.

The Chromebook was to fill the void between the two because of these features:

  • Smaller than the laptop but larger than the tablet.
  • Full keyboard to make typing easier.
  • Wonderful battery life.
  • Great connectivity to cloud-based file storage like Google Drive, Dropbox and others.

So as I’m researching the Chromebooks from Asus, HP, Toshiba and Samsung, I stumbled upon another solution. What if I found a keyboard that was easy to use, full-featured, and could work on multiple devices when I inevitably upgrade from the Note 10.1?

About an hour later after a trip to Best Buy I had my solution in-hand, the Logitech k480 Bluetooth Keyboard.

The k480 has a ton of features that make this perfect.

  • Order your Logitech k480 today!Full featured keyboard including a selector to choose between a PC/Android layout and iOS.
  • Can connect to up to three difference devices using the numbered dial.
  • Rubberized cradle to securely holding your tablet or phone (or both in portrait mode!)

Now, I can use my tablet as my laptop/Chromebook clone. Android now has a full Microsoft Office version to create and edit documents and presentations. The 10″ screen is more than enough to work on WordPress in my browser, making blogging easy. I was worried about the charging port being on the bottom, but with a screen rotator app I can flip it 180 degrees and plug in on the “top” of the tablet. The channel even allows headphones to be plugged in with the device upside down.

Want to hear the best part? This keyboard is only around $50! Order one up on Amazon right now and turn that Android, Windows or iOS tablet into an even more powerful work device.

What are your thoughts on Chromebooks or the Logitech k480 keyboard? Let me know in the comments below, or just give a shout out on Twitter @BeBizzy!

2015-03-18 10.58.18  2015-03-18 10.56.23  2015-03-18 10.56.42

 

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I receive devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Pocket Casts – Mobile Podcast Player

Pocket Casts – Mobile Podcast Player

2phones-logoThose who follow this blog know I love to listen to podcasts while I work. It’s great subliminal noise while I am punching through Excel sheets or building another WordPress site.

And to listen to and manage all of these podcasts I’ve tried several apps on computers, tablets and phone. Most recently I was using Doggcatcher on my Samsung Note 10.1 (2014 edition). But yesterday I was introduced to a wonderful new option, Pocket Casts.

Pocket Casts is available for Android and iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and is availble for a small charge ($3.99 from the Google Play Store, and $4.99 from iTunes), but the small cost is well worth it. Here’s some of the features:

  • Syncing between devices. This will be a lifesaver! The account makes it easy to subscribe to podcasts on one device and have it sync with an unlimited number of other devices regardless of operating system. I even have it sync’d with my PC by running an android emulator on my computer.
  • Speed control. Only have 45 minutes to listen to a 60-minute podcast? Speed up the playback and get all the info just a bit faster (I top out on 1.3x speed. Anything else is just too distractingly fast).
  • Automatic sync – Set up any or all podcasts in your library to automatically update or download to a particular device. This is handy in case your tablet has more memory than your phone, or you have a primary device. There’s also settings on how often the app should check for new releases of podcast.
  • Filters. Want to see which video podcasts are available? Want a list of unplayed podcasts by date?

Another feature I noticed right away was better access to podcasts that I previously I couldn’t find in iTunes or Doggcatcher.

So if you like to listen to podcasts while you work, drive or workout, take a look at Pocket Casts on your android or iOS device. Let me know what you think in the comments below or @BeBizzy on Twitter!

Below is a quick video of Pocket Casts. Enjoy!

Microsoft Office Available for Android Tablets

Microsoft Office Available for Android Tablets

androidofficeReally the only downside for using an Android tablet for your primary business device was the fact Office was not available.  Sure, you could force the Office Mobile app to work or use an alternative application to open and edit Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents, but each of those solutions had some drawbacks.

Yesterday, January 29, 2015, Microsoft officially released each app separately for Android tablets after a three-month test phase (which I missed for signup, bummer). The apps will be free for one month, then will require an subscription to Office 365.

As I mentioned, each of the office apps are available separately from the Play Store. So you will have to download Word, Excel and PowerPoint directly.

One thing that surprised me was integration not only into OneDrive by default (included in Office 365), but also into DropBox so sharing and collaborating on files becomes extremely easy.

According to C|Net, these apps word on 7″ or larger tablets running at least Android KitKat 4.4. Microsoft is not “officially” support Lollipop yet but the apps should run on the OS.

Office Mobile has been available for Android Phones and iOS devices for several months and will continue to be supported.

So rejoice Android Tablet users! Leave that laptop at the office and start using your tablet to be more productive anywhere.

 

Back Up Your Mobile Photos (before it’s too late!)

Back Up Your Mobile Photos (before it’s too late!)

Touch screen mobile phoneIf you’re like many mobile phone users you spent much of 2014, especially during the holidays, taking dozens, maybe hundreds of photos on your mobile device. Have you ever thought what would happen if your phone simply stopped working, or worse, if you lost your phone?

You could get rid of that fear by using one of many simple, and FREE apps and processes to backup all of you photos. And not only will you be protecting your photos from loss, you will also make them available on other devices at the same time. So let’s get started!

  • Verizon Cloud – If you are a Verizon customer, your device most likely already has access to Verizon Cloud. This application will not only back up photos and videos, it will also back up music, documents, call logs and text messages. And to top it off, you can manage your data online at VerizonWireless.com.
  • Google+ Photos – Not ideal, since you’re basically backing up photos to a social network. But Google+ Photos actually send them to Google Drive.  Turning this feature on will back up more than just the photos you take with your phone. It will back up any photos your download, save through other apps or even receive in text messages through Hangouts. Check out the Google Help page for instructions on how to turn this feature on.
  • Dropbox – My personal favorite backup is Dropbox. It’s a simple process to turn on the Camera Upload on all/some of your devices, and then they will appear anywhere your Dropbox account is automatically sync’d. In many ways this makes it easier to edit the library by accessing on your computer or tablet.
  • OneDrive – Similar to Dropbox, if you have an Office365 account it’s incredibly easy to back up your photos and video to Microsoft’s OneDrive.
  • IFTTT – This one’s a bit more complicated but much more powerful and flexible. If Then Then That (IFTTT) has dozens of “recipes” that can be implemented to automatically back up your Instagram or Facebook photos, save videos you upload to YouTube, and much, much more. It may take a bit to figure out, but once you master IFTTT you will use it for many, many things besides backing up photos.

There are lots of other methods to keep your photos safe so choose one, or more, and make sure you don’t lose all of those precious moments. You’ll only have it happen one time before you do everything in your power to ensure it will not happen again.

For more tips, join the #VZWBUZZ gang on Friday, February 6th at 2pm Central during our Twitter chat where we will discuss Smartphone Photography. The chat will feature more tips on backing up your photos, as well as taking better photos, editing your pictures and more.

And now that you’re on a backup kick, get on the computer and back up all of your other important documents like tax returns, address books, business documents and more. Again, there are plenty of services that will back up and encrypt this data, so do some research and secure your data!

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I receive devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Five Ways to Protect Yourself Online

Five Ways to Protect Yourself Online

11407095883_c29ebc0949_zThis week’s #VZWBUZZ Twitter chat will be focusing on how to keep your online profile safe, as well as protecting yourself from scams and other harmful activity. With all the various security breaches at large companies and government organizations it’s important to do all you can to maintain the security of your identity. Below are five easy tips to protect yourself out on the web.

(Note : for more info on joining the chat and how to register for prizes, see the bottom of this post)

  1. Change Passwords Frequently – If there’s one thing you should do to keep yourself relatively safe, it’s changing passwords frequently. This ensures that even if you’re information is compromised, you can limit the frequency of the invasion when the password is changed. When you are changing the passwords, make sure you are using a unique, secure password that contains a variety of characters, does NOT contain common (to you) words like kids, pets, birth dates, etc. There are tools that will do this for you, such as LastPass and 1Password by generating and storing secure passwords automatically.The single most important password to maintain is your primary email address. Why? Most of your important applications like your bank, financial institutions and other accounts will notify you at this address when other changes are made or reports are issued. If someone gets access to your email, they can intercept any transmissions or even change the email password, locking you out for good. Change this password often, and to something secure immediately!
  2. Claim Your Name on Social Media Platforms – This one seems odd, but it makes sense to claim your name on as many social media platforms as possible. This will keep impostors from posing, and posting, as you and social engineering their way through friends and family into your identity. You don’t have to be active on these platforms, but securing your name’s domain, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages will make sure YOU, not someone else, owns them. Most of these sites rise to the top of search results, keeping unwanted information down on deeper search pages (see #3 below).
  3. Search Yourself Often – Got a few seconds while screwing around on your break? Google your name and see what shows up. With luck, it’s your Facebook page, some news articles about your achievements and your wedding announcement. If you’re unlucky, it could be any sort of negative info like bad reviews of your business, slanderous posts on websites, or even incorrect or private photos leaked online. Google provides a great tool to do this automatically called Google Alerts if you just want an email sent to your inbox.
  4. Assume “PRIVATE” Doesn’t Mean Private – 2014 proved that nothing is private posted online even if trusted to large companies like Apple. When you do post something to a site, phone app or other platform be prepared when, not if, that information becomes public. Some sites, like Carbonite and others do a decent job of encrypting this data, but still, use some caution when posting anything, anywhere.
  5. Assume Everything’s a Scam – Last week I received a call from a nice young man (initially) claiming to work for Microsoft and that my PC was crashing the Microsoft “server” because I had a virus. The only way to fix it, was to have his Senior Technicians log into my machine and clean the virus out. This was an obvious scam to me, and experienced computer user/technician, but to a general user this could have been catastrophic when this “senior technician” put some software on the machine that tracked every keystroke, took every document from “My Documents,” and even took down the machine. Microsoft will never call you asking for money to fix a problem. Your bank will never email you asking for to verify your account number, social security number, or anything else. And Bill Gates will not send you $5000 for clicking this link and forwarding the email. Assume everything too good, or bad, to be true is a scam. Ask questions, get contact information if possible, then check online or with experts and law enforcement to see if this is valid.

No one is going to help you stay safe online. Unscrupulous marketers, thieves and pranksters are always looking for a way to harvest your information to be used in a negative way. Take some steps to keep your data safe.

Then, join the #VZWBUZZ discussion on Friday, January 23 at 2pm Central to learn some other ways to keep yourself, your data and maybe even your family safe online and off.

If you want to be in the running for prizes, RSVP with The Online Mom. Stay safe, and I’ll see you on Twitter on Friday! And don’t forget to follow @Bebizzy on Twitter for more great tips!

Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I receive devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.

You are HERE – Google Maps Alternative (Android)

You are HERE – Google Maps Alternative (Android)

Here logo 2012You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who uses anything other than Google Maps for most location tasks.  It’s installed on all Android devices, is the standard when you do a desktop search, and has pretty up-to-date information.

A competitor has emerged, and it’s HERE.  No, that’s the name, HERE.

It works pretty much like Google Maps, but one feature that is going to be very helpful is the ability to download maps and do turn-by-turn navigation offline.

That might not seem like a big deal to all of you urban dwellers except when you’re in an area that can’t get a signal, but to rural travelers this is a big deal.  Oh, Maps can show you where you are… on a big white screen.  But HERE allows you to download the map in advance and see your location on the map, signal or not.

Traffic and businesses are easy to look up and overlay on the screen.  It works great in portrait or landscape mode.  And it allows storage of itineraries for future use.

This great app is free on Android, with an iOS version promised in early 2015.  Go HERE and get it!

As usual, here’s the promo video:

Winter Travel with Your Smartphone

Winter Travel with Your Smartphone

winterdrivingWinter travel in a car always has some risks, especially for younger, inexperienced drivers.  Roadways are unevenly covered with ice, snow, slush and water making otherwise normal driving hazardous and unnerving.  Driving across the northern part of the United States can take you from a seemingly beautiful late-fall/early-winter day into a white-knuckle whiteout where speeds above 30mph are impossible.

While you can’t control the roads, or the weather, or even the other guy behind the wheel who isn’t as careful or experienced in driving in winter conditions, you can prepare a bit with some smartphone apps and accessories to make things a bit more safe.

First of all, I should mention that 1) driving in stormy winter conditions is not advised so delay travel whenever possible, 2) you should NOT use mobile phone while driving, and 3) you should always carry a winter survival kit.

There are also some basic maintenance items you should do to your vehicles to minimize the chances of a mechanical failure.  And for some basic tips and other information on winter driving, check out IcyRoadSafety.com. (more…)

Android or iOS? Utility vs. Luxury.

Android or iOS? Utility vs. Luxury.

IMAG0058Fall is my favorite time of year.  The weather is a bit cooler.  The leaves and surrounding farmlands take on rich, earthy colors.  And it’s a time for many of us here in North Dakota to drive out into rural North Dakota (yes, we have cities here) in pursuit of hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

As you might imagine, many of the roads away from the pavement are in less than perfect condition, often requiring 4WD vehicles, or at least a brave soul strong enough to dig other vehicles out when they get stuck.

These drivers of 4WD vehicles come in many shapes and sizes.  Some choose luxury vehicles like Cadillac Escalades and Lincoln Navigators.  These guys usually stay on fairly well-groomed roads and drive right up to their hunting area with much exploring.  Then there’s the rest of us.  We drive old Ford pickups, beat up Jeeps, and in my case, a 1994 Chevy Suburban, and we occasionally take the road less traveled (that’s me, stuck in the picture). (more…)