Long Commutes

During the month of July I expect to have long commutes one day a week. Of course my OCD-like behavior (as well the well-known dreadful Atlanta traffic  conditions) has me researching how to best maximize my travel time to/from work. There are lots of services available out there that seek to capture and keep your attention, so how do you pick which services/features to pay attention to? How do you know where to start? Keep reading below for my recommendations!

Since the obvious goal during a long to commute is to get home as quickly and safely as possible, we MUST start with a travel app. There are many available including Google Maps, Apple Maps, Mapquest (yes… that still exists 😳) and Waze. I’ll just jump ahead and tell you right now that Waze wins and will be at the center of my long commutes. Not because it’s such a great app (it is! users report crashes, cop sightings, slowdowns, etc.); but, more so because Waze plays nice with others.

Let me explain. Yes, I will be commuting; but, I also want to do other things to help the time go by faster and ease the pain. I want to do things like listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts. When I say Waze plays nice with others I mean it seamlessly integrates with other apps or services. For music, it’s Spotify. For Podcasts, Stitcher and for books, Audiobooks. These tight integrations or hook ins allow you to select songs/playlists/books right from within the Waze app itself. There’s no need to leave the Waze app itself to start listening to another service.

(By the way, this post is a great synopsis of what I do for a living… software and process integration. I spend my days focusing on optimizing user experience for the software we use to run our business for things like taking orders, billing customers, etc. and automating those processes. I identify opportunities for integration/automation, lead projects to implement them and also streamline (or lean) complex processes to make them simpler #techie 💁🏽‍♀️)

WHAT IS LEAN SIX SIGMA

Now, you may prefer Apple Music over Spotify; but, for me the days of tech giants producing great isolated products/services are over. Partnerships (or tightly integrating with others) will always prevail and Apple is not so good at that part yet. Waze, on the other hand, makes integrating easy. Because Waze will be at the center of my long commutes and I value integration, I choose the following:

Now, don’t get me wrong. All of these services are great and honestly, any one in isolation will do the trick; but, if you want MORE, go with services that tightly integrate with other services/features you also value. Your life will be easier because of it!

5 reasons you’ll use Waze over Google Maps


 

https://www

What is https and why should you care? That’s the topic for today’s post!

HTTPS is a protocol for secure communication, widely used on the Internet. When you enter data into  website (i.e name, address, credit card number), the owner of the website has to “send” this information somewhere for processing. HTTP on the other hand is a unsecure protocol for communication.

Let’s use an analogy to illustrate: if an armed guard needs to transfer money from his truck to a bank, he could simply put the money in a paper bag that anyone can open (think HTTP), or he can put the cash in a safe that only the bank has the combination to unlock (think HTTPS).

HTTPS is the protection of exchanged data while in transit. wikipedia

HTTPS is not 100% foolproof because keys/combinations can always be hacked; but, when you see this designation on a website you can be a little more sure protection in is place.

Feel smarter? If you know to look for HTTPS before entering personal data into a website, I’d say you are!

 

Spotify + Hulu

If you’re into streaming your entertainment, Spotify has a new trick up it’s sleeve. Now, instead of paying $9.99/month for access to its’ library of 30 million+ songs, Spotify is also including a free subscription to Hulu (on-demand video/tv streaming service), a savings of $5.99/month. The Hulu subscription will include ads; but, if you are into streaming tv shows/movies and especially if you are already a Spotify subscriber, I say definitely sign up here!

Once you do sign up, be sure to log into your Spotify account and activate your Hulu subscription – this won’t happen automatically. One other note: adding networks like Showtime or HBO is not allowed ☹️. The offer is valid until June 10th, 2019, or while supplies last.

You can also add live tv streaming to your Hulu subscription for $44.99/month…. 🤔👎🏽

Here is a list of tv channels currently available on Hulu:

Spotify and Hulu are available for download on all your (mobile) devices.

Who is Zo?

Before we get to who Zo is, let’s talk about the app she resides in, GroupMe.

GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft, similar to What’s App or a simple group chat on your phone; but, only a little more sophisticated with features like creating events or polls. Zo is a social AI (artificial intelligence) chat bot (or robot of sorts) that is automatically added to your contact list by Microsoft.

When added to a group, Zo will have access to your display name, messages, and any other content you and other members of the group share. GroupMe

Did you get that??? It’s a “person” who can read everything that you or others in your group chat post. You can remove this “spy” using the following steps:

  1. Open the GroupMe app on your phone.
  2. Click the menu bar at the top left of the app (it looks like 3 horizontal lines)
  3. Select Contacts.
  4. Search for “Zo” or scroll down to locate her.
  5. Click on her name.
  6. Select Block. The contact should then look like the screenshot below.

Remember, somebody is always watching… 👀👀👀 especially in FREE apps/services!

iPhone Clutter

Does your phone look like this? Did you know iPhone clutter is a real thing? I can’t imagine how people function with all the extra “stuff” on page 1, page 2, page 3 …. 😳🤔

There are a couple of principles I operate by phone by: 1) No clutter and 2) My iPhone will not dictate my actions. How does this work you might ask? First, I don’t keep apps on my phone that I don’t regularly use (the Internet icon still works for one-off tasks) and secondly, alerts/notifications/badges are kept to a BARE minimum. I don’t want to pick up my phone and be given “directives” (i.e. check your email, respond to this notification or that notification). There are a couple I do allow: phone rings (obviously) and calendar alerts (THAT’s IT! no, not even text messages!)  Note: My default response for all notifications is “No”. This is important because if I’m bored and pick up my phone, I get to decide what to do (i.e. read a book, watch a video, check my email).

My main page is kept very simple and each app is intentionally placed with the things I want to encourage myself to do. Some are entertainment-related, most are not. You’ll notice a simple black background (makes it easier to identify apps) and NO directives. These are all applications I use on a daily basis so they warrant “home screen” placement. Please note, it’s not full…. this is intentional. Similarly, my lock screen is a simple white background. I can easily see the time and date which is usually what I need to see quickly (if I’m not wearing my Apple watch). Another screen I use often is widgets (swipe left). My chosen info is weather, calendar and activity.

HOW TO TURN OFF IPHONE NOTIFICATIONS

Now, I have exactly two screens of apps to flip through. The main page above and a second page with nice to have apps that I do use pretty frequently. These apps are placed into folders to further reduce clutter. I intentionally made the image below as big as possible so you can see the “no clutter” principle still being applied to this page…

It’s almost Spring – start your cleaning routine by decluttering your phone!