The easiest way to set up a family calendar on your smartphone (and how to avoid those “but I didn’t know you’d organised something for tonight” moments)

Calendar: Month View
Calendar: Month View (Photo credit: pouwerkerk)

One of my favourite things about owning a smartphone is that I no longer need to remember anything, ever. I simply put a reminder in my phone’s calendar and keep my phone within earshot.
One of the downsides unfortunately, was I tended to forget to inform the other half of events he was supposed to go to too.. Since I have an iPhone and he has a Samsung it took me a while to work out how to set up a joint calendar. Six months ago I did and seriously, it really works well!
There are loads of ways to do this but here’s how we did it:

1. I set up a new gmail account

2. I registered that account on both our phones (in the same way you set up your personal email account). You don’t need to use that account for emails, just make sure you have “calendars” switched to “on” when you set up the account on your phones.

3.When I put an event in my calendar I can choose to put it in my personal calendar (if it’s just a reminder for me) or the new gmail calendar. When it’s something we both need to know about I select the new calendar. It appears  and behaves exactly the same as any other event/reminder in my calendar.

4. Et Voila! It magically appears in my husband’s phone’s calendar too and we both get reminded about it.

Now we are changed people, incredibly organised and forward planning.  The old “but you never told me…” has been replaced with “Well, I had the girls/boys night out in the calendar weeks ago..”.  Much harder to argue with 🙂

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App of the Week: InstaStitch – an easy photo collage maker

Why InstaStitch?

I have finally started using a journal app to record special moments with my family – something I’ve been planning to do for a long time.  I’m trying to stick to just one picture per day, but sometimes I need more than one photo to properly capture a moment, or can’t decide which photo is best – which is where this app come in handy!

What does it do?

You can very easily create a photo collage with up to 5 photos per collage, 38 different layouts, customised borders and 20 lovely photo effects.

How does it work?

1. Select a layout

2. Pick photos from your camera roll

3. Apply filters (each photo in your layout can have a different filter) and adjust borders

4. Save to your camera roll

Cost?

Free!!

The Verdict

Love it!  Really easy to use and a lovely way to capture multiple special moments in one picture.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anything else?

I used InstaStitch on my iPhone 4 3G running iOS6.0.1.

The pictures in the slideshow were created by my kids using the Balloonimals app 🙂

I’m trying out the TinyBeans journal app – really liking it so far too. I know some of the other journal apps have photo collage functionality built in – but for some reason I’m finding the InstaStitch/TinyBeans combo is working for me.

Any other great photo or journal apps out there worth trying?

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Top 5 Apps Your Kids Will Love This Week

See on Scoop.itUseful Apps

Chris Crowell is a veteran kindergarten teacher and contributing editor to Children’s Technology Review, a web-based archive of articles and reviews on apps, technology toys and video games. Download a free issue of CTR …

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5 essentials Microsoft Surface must get right (IMHO)

 

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18:  The Microsoft tabl...
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 18: The Microsoft tablet Surface (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

There’s a lot of talk about what the new Microsoft surface tablet will do – call me skeptical, but I want to actually use it before I get too excited.  I have a Windows 7 tablet that I thought would be a cross over device (both laptop and tablet), just like Windows Surface. As it is, I have 5 major peeves with it, and these are 5 things that the Surface must do well (not just “do”) before I’ll buy it.

Background

I have an Asus EP 121 Slate and have a love hate relationship with it. Mainly because I tried to use it as my primary device for about 6 months (when my laptop died) which accentuated it’s drawbacks.  I absolutely love the concept of the cross over device and have high hopes for Surface.

ASUS Eee Pad Slate
ASUS Eee Pad Slate (Photo credit: Masaru Kamikura)

Microsoft Surface Top 5 “Must Haves” 

1. A built in kick stand that works:  Why is this my #1?  Because my Slate just would not stand up properly, period.  What seemed at the start to be a minor inconvenience very quickly became a major issue.  I Skype my folks back home with the kids twice a week and the cover/stand just would not support it properly, especially if the kids so much as breathed on it.  My folks spent quite a bit of time talking to the ceiling, a nice decorative ceiling, but they would have preferred to see their grandkids.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18:  The Microsoft tabl...
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 18: The Microsoft tablet Surface is unveiled during a news conference at Milk Studios on June 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

2. A great integrated keyboard: The keyboard that came with the Slate was always somewhere else.  Not the manufacturers fault you would think, but it was quite big relative to the Slate so would be stored in a cupboard somewhere random and unfindable.  I also found the onscreen keyboard really difficult to use accurately, which is strange considering I can easily type emails on my iPhone. That, combined with the Slate constantly falling over, meant I used my iPhone as my primary emailing device for most of the 6 months I was without a laptop. I can’t wait to find out if the keyboard cover for the Surface works well, it certainly looks fantastic.

3. Light and Truly Portable: The Slate is officially 1.16kg (2.6lbs) but feels much heavier. In fact, it’s 1.57kg (3.5lbs) with battery and case according to my kitchen scales. It’s got a 12.1 inch display and is 312 x 207.2 x 16.95 mm (WxDxH) overall.  This combined with the weight means it’s not small and light enough to carry around in my handbag and use as a truly portable device. Surface promises to be 0.7-0.9kgs (1.5 – 2lbs) and 9-13mm thick, almost half the weight and thickness of my Slate.

4. Long Battery Life:  The Slate officially had 4.5 hours but didn’t seem to last that long. It will be interesting to see how Surface fares.  Good battery life on a portable device is obviously essential.

5.  Great Windows 8 touch screen experience: I cannot wait to try out Windows 8 (I did try to upgrade to the pre release but had some issues). Everyone knows that Windows 7 doesn’t provide the best touch screen experience but it’s worth mentioning here as it contributed to my overall underwhelming experience.

So there you have it.  If you have been lucky enough to get close to a Surface tablet and can comment on any of the above, please do!

Anything else you think Surface must do before you’d buy it?

You might also like to read : 10 reasons I can’t wait to get a Microsoft Surface Tablet by Debra Littlejohn Shinder at TechRepublic

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App of the Week: Readability

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Why Readability?

Last week I wrote this post on how many of us are using tablets as reading/consuming devices on the move and leaving our laptops at home. Readability is making it really easy for me to save articles to read later on the train.

What does it do?

You can save links to your reading list or send them to your Kindle –  “Read Later”.  You can also change the font size etc. to make a web page easier to read – “Read now”.

Readability
Chrome browser extension

How does it work?

1. Set up a Readability account

2. Install the Readability app on your iPhone/tablet

3. Install a Readbility browser add-on on your PC

4. Add the Readability bookmarketlet to Safari  on your iPhone/Tablet

5.  Start building your reading list!

Cost?

Free!!

The Verdict

Brilliant!!  Really easy to set up and use. I used to clog up my Favourites with articles to read later and email links to myself to read on the train – no more!

There are a few similar apps out there, this is a good article by Allyson Kazmucha at www.imore.com which compares the different offerings.

Anything else?

I used Google Chrome on my Windows 7 laptop and Safari on my iPhone when trying this app out. Multiple browsers and operating systems are supported, including Android – see http://www.readability.com for more details.

Do you use Readability (or one of the other similar apps) already? If so, do you like it? Have you any other apps you’d like to recommend?  I’m always on the look out for good ones..

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