The Ultimate Entertainment Package

Today I’m reviewing my ultimate entertainment package – a list of my must have services to keep you going while you wait, when you’re in between tasks or just when you need something to do! There are a lot of things I could have added, one-offs like TED Talks, but this list includes only things I do on a very regularly bases. In no particular order:

InstagramTHE best place to view (pretty) pictures. I mostly follow people who buy/display pretty things: handbags, shoes, jewelry, other accounts that post funny videos and travel-related things. I’m not on it to gain followers or friends. I also don’t care about likes.

TwitterMy goto for trending topics. At any given moment I can see the top 10 things the country/world is talking about. I also regularly use it when I’m watching shows/sporting events to see what other people are saying about the topic.

SpotifyMust have music streaming service. The music industry is becoming more and more fragmented everyday. From Beyonce (Tidal) to Drake (Apple Music), Chance the Rapper (Apple Music), Kanye (Tidal) and others – artists are striking deals that make their music available solely on one music service and not the others. But be patient grasshoppers, eventually their music will be available on your preferred music streaming service (usually ~2 weeks later) and you’ll be able to freely partake without spending more $. Until then, there’s always YouTube and VEVO. BTW: Mondays are for DiscoverWeekly and always Spotify while you shower.

Netflix – THE best movie streaming service. House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and MANY more. There’s not much more to say other than it’s awesome. (I also have access to Amazon Prime Video; but that’s only an added bonus of my Prime membership).

Overcast – This one is fairly new for me; but, I’m loving it! It’s the very best way to listen to podcasts on your iPhone. So far I’m into: The Read, Keepin it 1600 and Watching Thrones. I’m sure I’ll add others over time. Listen while you cook, clean, work or commute!

HBO – I love HBO. OMG, I can’t tell you how many great shows, (original) series and documentaries they have. Game of Thrones, Real Time with Bill Mahr, Silicon Valley, …. I could go on and on! In the past few days I’ve even been thinking about buying some stock. 🤑

Feedly – I’ve told you about this one before. It’s basically a news aggregator of things I like to read. Instead of having multiple sites (Lifehacker, The Every Girl, Mashable, etc.) flood your inbox with emails everyday, you can subscribe to their articles/posts and read them using the Feedly app – on/at your own time. Feedly creates of a pull situation – I have to physically go retrieve items when I want to read them – vs. a push situation where you are automatically notified/sent updates. Now, I do like the push approach for music i.e. when artists I follow release a new album, just not for news.

I know some of you may be thinking Snapchat, Periscope and Facebook are missing but honestly I’m just not into those that much. I do use them, just not on a regular basis. Also chat services like GroupMe and What’s App are not on my list. Yes, I have accounts with those an the apps are on my phone; but, I honestly don’t use them that much and I’m NOT a fan of group texts. I also sometimes will check Pinterest and We Heart It but those have also worn off over time… do what works for you!

So, here’s the thing: all of the services on my list are super convenient, easy to access and very affordable. Feedly, Overcast, Instagram and Twitter are free and you can get Spotify, Netflix and HBO for about $10-$15/month each$35/month gets you all in. I’d never have cable if my husband didn’t pay for it. Actually the extent of my relationship with Comcast would be internet service (that is, until Google Fiber comes to town). Happy Entertaining!!!

My Home Screen = Most Important Screen


Master Computer (or Life) Filter

Let me warn you: this is not meant to be an informative-like post; but, rather a rant. So buckle your seat belts…. Every day when I log into Twitter, Facebook, Feedly and other social media sites I see great articles and things I like to read every day. Sometimes I get frustrated, like tonight and think to myself, “Why is everybody posting about these stupid things I’d rather not see/hear about??”

button deleteWhy can’t I create a Google-like search for my ENTIRE computer that filters OUT content from EVERY site I log into, based on my preferences. How would this work? I’m glad you ask! When you perform a normal Google search, you would typically type something like “mustang”. You can FILTER OUT the types of mustangs you DON’T want to see by typing this EXACT text this in the search box: “mustang -red”. The “-red” is what narrows the search results and ELIMINATES red mustangs. Think of a Venn Diagram: the largest circle is the master set (or universe) – it contains all mustangs: black, white, pink, red, orange purple, you name it. Within that circle there are smaller of circles: one with all pink mustangs in it, one for the red mustangs, etc. You’re not sure what color mustang you want but you know red is out of the question. So you search for exactly that: mustang -red (more Google search tips here) Maybe something good is coming out of this post after all.

Anyway, I think you get my drift. This is what I want for my computer – or actually for my life entire would be even better – I want to create a master Google-like search on my computer for stuff that I never want to hear or see. It would look something like this:

SHOW ALL -kanye -oscars -taylorswift -kardashian -justinbieber

filter_dataApple are you listening? Maybe there’s a solution already out there – one for Chrome, one for Facebook, Instagram, Feedly, etc. That’s not what I’m asking for. I want one MASSIVE and MASTER filter that would work on my entire computer (or life if you’re ambitious) and I want it now, please (see, I can be polite) Besides, who has time to install a separate filter, plugin or extension for each app, site or service they use.

So, that’s all I have. Yes, it’s a rant – I don’t do many of these – but I did tell you that from the beginning. If you’re still reading, thanks for listening. At least you can enjoy the video below and get a few more tips on filtering your Google search results. #TheFilterGirl

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 7.59.50 PM

Periscope – A New Way to Live Stream

1-sn55t-Ktzj4-N9Q4JUFR5gA new app from Twitter, Periscope, has 10 million users and it’s only been available (iOS only) for 10 days! That’s an average of 1 million users per day. Periscope, is an app that allows you to beam live-stream video to all of your Twitter followers just a touch of a button. While the video below shows a man in a hospital getting a stem cell transplant, you can also use it for weddings, graduations, baby christenings, board meetings and more! Now, if Twitter can only figure out a way to monetize this app to keep it’s stock from tanking, they may be on to something!


Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

It’s been a while since we’ve tackled a heavy technical topic. Two-factor Authentication, a form of security (more important than ever in a Post-Snowden world), has been in the news lately (think celebrity iCloud photo leak), so let’s get right to it!

Close up of an internet log in screenWithout 2FA, you enter in your username and password, and then you’re done. The password is your single factor of authentication and is not the safest route? Why, because if you use your birthday, pet’s name or street address, someone can easily guess your password, pretend to be you and log into your account, accessing all of your personal information (no bueno). This way of authenticating a user is most common today but that is also why websites encourage using STRONG, less-common combinations for your passwords and sometimes even force you to do this, though it can be painful. (While we’re on the topic, check this list of the 25 worst passwords and steer away!)

imgresNow, what if, in addition to asking you your username and password (single factor), a website, app or service asks you an additional question (second factor). That is exactly the topic of this article: Two-Factor authentication or 2FA. We already use this in our daily lives. For example, when you go to an ATM, you swipe the card (factor #1, physical) and enter your pin number (factor #2, knowledge). You’ve also probably experienced 2FA when dealing with your bank. If you try to access your account from a new computer or different browser, the bank requires you to enter your username & password (factor #1, knowledge) AND they will often send a 4-6 digit security code to your cell phone (factor #2, physical), that you then need to enter along with your username and password to authenticate yourself. 2FA, although not bullet-proof is safer and more secure that one-factor authentication.

Two (2) of the following criteria must be met/validated in 2FA:

  1. Something you know, such as a Personal Identification Number (PIN), password, or a pattern

  2. Something you have, such as an ATM card, phone, or fob

  3. Something you are, such as a biometric like a fingerprint or voice print

You can enable 2FA for yourself! Start with email. Both Gmail and iCloud provide this service and they’re super easy to setup. You can also enable 2FA on Facebook, LastPass (password service) and Dropbox (file sharing). For a complete list, check here.


News My Way

malcolm-x-quote-newspapersI’m done with traditional news outlets: local and national. The BeFreeProject recently reinforced my skill to learn to say no without explaining myself and I’m doing just that! In case you haven’t learned, I love to read and do it daily! So when it comes specifically to news, what do I read? Depends.

  • Live Updates: When I know to know about things happening on the ground, my go-to is Twitter. It becomes a news station by the people. You get all sides, uncoated and you get to decide for yourself! Search using specific keywords or hashtags (to stay up-to date on the latest. You’ll quickly find sources that you trust and give great overviews of what’s happening on the ground.

  • General/National News: VICE. This site is amazing and I absolutely love the show on HBO. But they also report regularly on a wide range go (global) topics. This source will definitely expand your knowledge of what most national news agencies would characterize as “less-important.”

  • Finance/Economy: Armstrong Economics. This guy has great general knowledge and always presents current events with a historic context. He shoots it to you straight and challenges your every assumption. You may not always agree but he does present the facts in an unbiased way. That’s what we want from news, right? 

  • Black People’s News: I recently told my husband, “Black people get the award for inclusiveness. Meanwhile, we are losing.” I won’t apologize for seeking out and tuning in to news from people who look like me. To that extent, I will watch local and national news that is being reported by people who look like I look. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything they may say, the key is that they tend to care about what I care about (“our issues”) and most often will present both sides of an argument. Ironically, most of these shows are on MSBNC: Melissa Harris-Perry Show, The Reid Report, Politics Nation (less often) and News One Now (I can only take so much of the host’s “personality”)

All these sites/shows have websites, Twitter, YouTube accounts and live feeds. Even if you don’t have cable, you can get most of it for free (online). Do a quick search (or click the links above) and you’ll be well on your way.