Archive for month: March 2018

Instagram Is Working On How It Organizes Feeds

Instagram Is Working On How It Organizes Feeds

Instagram is now planning to make users’ feeds arrange a little differently than they have been. Instagram announced in a blog post that they’ll be changing a couple different aspects of peoples’ feeds.

The social media and photo app has made quite a few changes to their service over the past months. One major change that Instagram implemented back in December focused on what kinds of posts would be shown in feeds. As I wrote in my article, recommended posts were added to Instagram. These recommended posts are displayed in feeds based on whether a user’s friend has liked them. This was a pretty huge change for some people, since it allowed unfamiliar content to show up in feeds.

Now Instagram is working on changing feeds to improve them and address other user concerns. In their blog post, these upcoming changes are explained. One major change to Instagram feeds will be the emphasis on newer posts. Right now, posts are fairly mixed up. Older posts (from days ago) can be mixed in with posts from just minutes earlier. With Instagram’s planned change, though, newer posts would be more likely to show up at the top of someone’s feed. Though Instagram isn’t announcing a completely chronological feed, this change will be a welcome step to having posts feel more current.

They also note another change to feeds: no more forced automatic refreshing. Currently, users might open the app and have the page suddenly refresh without any way to stop it. So if you see a post you’re interested in, you might suddenly be taken away from it. Instagram is going to address this by adding a “New Posts” button. This will give users the option to refresh if they want to. If you use the button you’ll jump up to the top of your feed.

The “New Posts” button is testing now, according to Instagram, and they currently plan to continue to improve how feeds work.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Hello again! It’s time for my Tech Spotlight. In this series, I scout out great tech-related finds and share them. Each week brings three new tech products you can find on Amazon right now. This week, I’m talking about a device for cyclists, a wireless keyboard, and a wi-fi enabled Roomba vacuum.

Have a look at this week’s items before heading over to Amazon for a closer look!

Beeline – Smart Compass Navigation for Bikes

Beeline is a product meant to make routes easier and more fun for cyclists. If you ride a bicycle, Beeline can improve your experience.

This item is a GPS device that helps you find routes and get from one point to another using one of its navigation styles. Cyclists can use Beeline to get a bicycle-friendly route to their destination. They can also choose to input their destination and use the device as a compass, letting it point cyclists in the right direction and find their own unique path.

Beeline attaches easily to a bike’s handlebar. It’s made to resist water and shocks, be easy to view in sunlight, and last quite a while on one charge (up to 30 hours when being used or a month when not in use). This means you can ride in just about any elements without worrying about the device.

This device works through its accompanying app. In the app, you can track rides and distance, add places to your favorites, share your information with other people, and more.

Beeline makes it easier to navigate on a bike with its small and easy to use device. If you bike, take a closer look at the details on Amazon!

UHURU Wireless Full-size Keyboard and Cordless Mouse

This keyboard and mouse from UHURU offers a different design and an easy, wireless way to use your device.

The keyboard does not feature the typical square or rectangular keys. Instead it uses rounded keys that are clearly separated from one another, making them comfortable and easy to use. They also make the keyboard look vaguely vintage, like old typewriters with rounded keys. And there are a dozen hotkeys for you to easily navigate to things you use regularly. The mouse is designed to be soft and comfortable while also lasting a significant length of time. It can also be used just fine without a mousepad, eliminating the need for one on your desk.

This keyboard and mouse use AA and AAA batteries. Battery life is extended through the product’s power-saving design that allows a year or more of use before needing new batteries. And the keyboard and mouse work with many different devices, including Macs and PCs.

If you’re in the market for a new or better keyboard and mouse, consider this pair from UHURU!

iRobot Roomba 690 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity

If you’ve heard of Roomba, you likely already know quite a bit about how these small, roving vacuums work. But you might not know you can use wi-fi to control the vacuum from anywhere at any time.

This Roomba is designed to vacuum up all kinds of different things on your floors. It doesn’t just pick up small debris, it can also pick up larger things. It can tell when an area is especially dirty, as well, and go over the area more thoroughly. It works on carpets and hard flooring, and it even has a special brush to knock debris away from walls.

This wi-fi capable vacuum also connects well with smart devices. You can use the connected app to control the Roomba whenever you’d like. If you’re away from home and need to run the vacuum, you can do it right from your phone. You can also learn more about your Roomba’s activities through the app. And if you have a smart assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can start the Roomba using a voice command.

The Roomba is a well-known and popular vacuum choice. Take a look at this wi-fi connected model on Amazon!

‘Files Go’ From Google Has Been Updated

‘Files Go’ From Google Has Been Updated

Google has now updated their device management app and implemented some useful new changes.

Files Go is Google’s app that helps people manage their devices. The app was released last year as a beta after the app was accidentally leaked during testing. Because it was leaked, Google released it earlier than planned. With the Files Go app, users can see how much storage space they’re using, tap and scroll through the different areas and folders in their phones, get tips about ways they can clear up space, share files without an internet connection, and more. Files Go is part of the line of apps from Google that focus on making their content more accessible for people with less advanced phones or difficulties accessing the internet or a mobile network regularly. (Other apps include YouTube Go and Gmail Go.)

Google has now announced in a blog post that Files Go has been updated with some welcome changes. The post outlines three specific new changes that all focus on ease of use and better performance. Firstly, and perhaps most helpfully, app users will now be able to search through their files. Google is, of course, best known for its search engine. The lack of a search function in Files Go was notable because of this. Google mentions you’ll be able to get “instant results,” look at a history of your searches, see auto-completed search terms, and more. And like most of its other features, you won’t have to be connected to the internet to use it.

The other two newly announced features center on file removal. Files Go previously showed users any duplicate files on their device. However, now things will be clearer thanks to Files Go showing where the duplicates are located. In addition to this, people who use Google Photos to upload their photos to the cloud will be able to quickly save space. After files are backed up, Files Go will automatically let you know and give you a chance to remove the backed up files.

These changes will make Files Go an even more useful device management app for everyone. Google is asking that users go ahead and give the features a try, then leave feedback on the changes.

Snapchat Adding New ‘Map Explore’ Feature

Snapchat Adding New ‘Map Explore’ Feature

Snapchat is adding a feature to its app. The new feature being added to Snapchat, called Map Explore, brings an interesting new way to keep up with (and locate) your friends.

The Verge is reporting that Map Explore has now been introduced. Map Explore, according to The Verge, lets users find out where their friends are, see where some breaking news is happening, and more.

Snap Map, the maps feature on Snapchat, was introduced last summer. With Snap Map, people could move around and see Snaps that were being posted in various locations. This included being able to see your friends’ Snaps on the map. Though Snap Map is a popular feature, it’s important to point out that users can choose to hide their location. So if you’re someone with privacy concerns (and who might not have gotten around to noticing Snap Map yet), no worries—location sharing is optional with Snapchat’s map feature.

If you don’t mind sharing your location and checking out where other people are, Map Explore could improve your Snapchat experience. With Map Explore, The Verge explains, you can be alerted to what’s happening on the Snap Map. Snap is quoted as saying that this update was introduced because users previously had to search around to find things. This update will make it easier to find interesting Snaps instead of wondering where to look. Alerts about updates will be based on your friends doing something (posting a Snap or a Story, for instance) with location turned on. After 8 hours of inactivity, their location won’t be shown on the map anymore.

Breaking news and other interesting happenings will also be easier to find. Users will be able to get updates about Our Story content. This means you’ll be able to find out quickly when interesting things are happening anywhere in the world (as long as someone is Snapping it).

The Verge mentions that the new update will be arriving for people through the coming weeks. So if you don’t have the update yet, don’t panic—it will be coming soon.

Facebook and Its Data Scandal

Facebook and Its Data Scandal

Facebook has been in the news quite a lot recently, and not necessarily for good reasons.

The social media service appears in the news on a regular basis any given week, but for the past week, a lot of focus has been on their data scandal and what will come of it. During that news, Facebook has announced some upcoming changes to its service.

Here’s what you might have missed over the past week or so, including a brief recap of Facebook’s data issues!

Some of Facebook’s newest announcements have come now that Zuckerberg has apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Zuckerberg issued an apology for what happened with their recent data scandal. According to CNN Money, Zuckerberg issued the apology during a TV interview on CNN. In his interview, he mentions the policy changes that have been put in place since the incident and notes that these policies should have been in place sooner. He also spoke about his regret that people weren’t informed about the issue sooner.

Facebook’s data scandal revolves around how some Facebook user data was accessed by an app (which is typical) and then, against Facebook policy, shared with a third party.

According Zuckerberg in his CNN interview, users will be notified if their information was shared during the incident. And The Verge writes that Facebook will be changing how developers can access Facebook users’ data.

Amid all of this negative press, one WhatsApp founder has said to delete Facebook. One of the founders of the popular messaging app has called out Facebook during their scandal concerning user data.

Brian Acton, who helped create WhatsApp before it was sold to Facebook, is now warning people that they should leave Facebook. The Independent reports that Acton tweeted that it was “time” to stop using the social media giant. He doesn’t specifically discuss the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but the timing of his tweet suggests his tweet was referencing Facebook’s current data issues.

You may remember that earlier this year Acton gave Signal (a secure messaging service) millions of dollars, which I wrote about back in February.

With Zuckerberg’s recent apology, it’s clear that Facebook is making a point to address this data issue and reassure users. Whether current users will jump ship due to the scandal and Acton’s call to leave Facebook remains to be seen.

Plan Your Meals Online

Plan Your Meals Online

Over the years, current technology has made many different areas of our lives more convenient. We can use an app to keep up with our schedules, chat with customer service online, call a ride with the push of a button, and more. For some people, these conveniences brought on by technological advances and new ideas are part of our everyday lives.

Thankfully, meal planning has also become easier as apps and online services have grown in number. For some years now, food subscription boxes have been one of the most popular ways for people to plan their meals. Just signing up and paying online makes it possible to nearly forget about what you’ll be eating. Shipments of planned meals can be sent to your home on a regular basis, eliminating stress from a daily task. And there are many different meal kit subscriptions a click away, so there are plenty of options

But it’s important to note that signing up for a meal planning kit online isn’t the only option. Though these boxes have become more and more popular, there are still other ways current technology can make figuring out what to eat for dinner less difficult.

Some of the other tech-related options you might consider for meal planning include the following:

  • Meal planning apps
  • Online meal planning services
  • Grocery delivery through online orders

Meal planning boxes may be popular, and ultimately, one may be right for you. However, it’s important to consider your options. There could be a site or app out there that doesn’t necessarily send all the ingredients to you but that still offers a convenient (and likely inexpensive) service.

What you might think about

There are a number of things to consider when choosing how to plan your meals. Take a look at these questions and think about what you personally need.

How much does it cost?
Price is a major consideration when meal planning through an app, site, or subscription. Some apps and other services might be free (or have free versions), but many meal planning options can be costly. And when it comes to subscription meal kits specifically, the different subscriptions can range greatly in price. Also, you’ll want to consider how much money it’s worth to make things a little more convenient. Some meal kits do cost more than you would need to spend if you just went to the store yourself, but it might be worth it since you’ll get to skip a trip to the market.

Is time saving important?
Continuing what I mentioned above, time is a huge factor in your choice. If you’re typically short on time and you can afford it, a meal kit subscription could be incredibly useful. But if you can spare more time (for a trip to the store or to look over recipes), you might make up for it by saving money.

Does your choice fit your nutritional needs?
Some meal kits are wildly popular and seem like the right choice, but if you have specific needs, like a special diet, you’ll want to either skip the subscription meal kit or make sure you find one that can consistently meet your dietary and nutritional needs. Some focus on a more general diet, while some cater to a specific crowd. Don’t just go with a subscription because it’s well reviewedconsider using a different type of service (an app or site) if meal kits don’t offer the food you need.

Is the service enjoyable?
It’s important to make sure you actually enjoy your meal planning service. When it comes to an app or site, if it’s designed in a way that’s frustrating or stressful, then it’s not right for you. With subscription kits, you’ll also need to make sure you actually like the food. If the portions are too small or don’t taste good, or if you just find yourself not enjoying your food, you’ll want to try something else.

Apps, programs, and websites

There are plenty of apps and other services that you can use to make meal planning easier. Here are just some of your options!

Cook Smarts: This service helps you plan your meals, try new recipes, make grocery lists, and more. With their meal planning service, you get meal plans based on your specific needs. This can include things like special diets and certain portion sizes. Their meal planning includes suggesting how to prep certain things over the weekend so you don’t have to do it during the week. They also let you create shopping lists, reduce waste, and more. You can try Cook Smarts for free, after which it costs $6 to $8/mo. depending on the plan you choose.

eMeals: With eMeals, you can get meal plans and grocery lists based on a number of different needs. You can choose from many different categories, including clean eating, low-carb, paleo, vegan, budget friendly, gluten free, diabetic, and more. Once you choose your recipes and build your meal plan, you can get a grocery list and even transfer the list to services that deliver (including AmazonFresh and Walmart Grocery). You can try eMeals free for two weeks, and then you can subscribe for $5 to $10/mo. depending on the plan you choose.

FoodPrint (for Android or iOS): This app is a particularly useful meal planning app for people who are dieting. You can input your specific information, like whether you’re trying to lose weight (and how much), allergies, special diets (including vegan and vegetarian), and more. Then FoodPrint will suggest many different things for you, not just meal plans. With the meal plans, the app will offer personalized ideas for each meal and even for snacks. It will also suggest meals you can get at restaurants near you. The app is free, but a full subscription with all the features is $3.33 to $7.99/mo. depending on which plan you choose.

Mealime (for Android or iOS): Mealime is a popular meal planning app that creates personalized meal plans based on your information. It also creates shopping lists based on your planned meals. Its recipes are intended to show you how to cook your meals in a short period of time, even if you’re not a pro in the kitchen. You can get meals suggested based on things like a special diet, numerous different allergies, and ingredients you want to avoid. The app also works to reduce wasting food by trying to use up all of your ingredients that would otherwise go bad. The app is free, but for extra features, you can upgrade for $5.99/mo. or $49.99/yr.

Paprika (for most devices, including Android & iOS): Paprika is not just a mobile app, it’s also available to download for other devices. It’s a recipe finder, grocery list creator, and meal planner all in one. Using Paprika, you can find recipes you’ll like, add them to your meal plan, and use the grocery list to easily find what you need. You can also add your own recipes, as well as input what ingredients you already have so you won’t accidentally buy unnecessary things at the store. You can try Paprika for free for 30 days on some devices, at which point you can buy it for varying prices ($4.99 to $29.99, depending on the device).

Pepperplate (for most devices, including Android & iOS): This service offers features that make meal planning easier. You can add recipes, create shopping lists, make menus, and schedule your meals. When planning your meals, you can change the scale of the recipe to make the amount of food right for you. You can also share recipes with other people and customize how your shopping list is arranged, along with other features. This service is free.

Yummly (for Android & iOS): This app focuses heavily on offering access to recipes. With Yummly, you can find over a million recipes. You can save recipes and create grocery lists based on them. Yummly will also learn your needs, like dietary restrictions and taste, and then suggest recipes for you. This app can make it easier to figure out what you should cook for any meal. This app is free.

Meal subscription services

Meal kits can be particularly convenient. If you do decide a meal kit subscription is right for you, here are some popular (and varied) options you might consider:

  • Blue Apron—Focuses on ingredients from sources that use sustainable practices and that avoid GMOs as well as hormones and antibiotics. Cost depends on how many meals you want and for how many people (it can range from $47.95/wk. to $143.84/wk.)
  • Freshly—Focuses on natural, gluten-free ingredients and healthy, fully-prepared meals that take 3 minutes for subscribers to get ready. Cost depends on how many meals you want (it can range from $49.99/wk. to $107.99/wk.)
  • Green Chef—Focuses on organic, GMO-free, sustainable ingredients that are fully prepped for your meals. Cost varies between the different plans and depending on how many people the meals are for (plans include vegetarian, gluten free, omnivore, keto, and more)
  • Hello Fresh—Focuses on a variety of different meal plans and recipes based on your dietary needs (including low-calorie, vegetarian, and more). Cost depends on how many meals you want and for how many people (it can range from $8.74 to $9.99/serving)
  • Plated—Focuses on meal plans for different dietary preferences and with season-appropriate ingredients that come from responsible, sustainable sources. Cost depends on how many meals you want and for how many people (it can range from $47.80/wk. to $159.20/wk.)
  • Purple Carrot—Focuses on plant-based meals for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone who wants to go plant-free a few times a week. Cost depends on the plan (from $72 to $78/wk.)
  • Sun Basket—Focuses on clean eating by using organic and responsibly sourced ingredients in their various different meal plans which include paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, and pescaterian options. Cost depends on how many meals you want and for how many people (it can range from $10.99 to $11.99/serving)

Don’t forget…

Whichever option you choose, make sure you evaluate how well it’s meeting your dietary needs and how much you enjoy the service! Some services may not be right for everyone.

The Week in Microsoft News

The Week in Microsoft News

Microsoft has been in the news quite a bit over the past week! Here’s your chance to catch up. Microsoft owns many different well-known services, including XBOX and SwiftKey, many of which were recently updated or will be updated soon.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the Microsoft news you might have missed recently!

XBOX Live avatars will soon offer more options

More player avatars will be coming to XBOX Live in April. The Verge is reporting that these avatars will include a host of new options, making it easier for everyone to build an avatar that suits them.

The Verge specifically notes that there is a focus on diversity with the upcoming avatar options. For instance, there are options for prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs. Aside from these options, there will be more to choose from when customizing an avatar’s body shape, clothing, accessories, and more.

Windows 10 update coming in April

Speaking of April, more updates are coming to Windows next month. Also reported by The Verge, the next big update to Windows 10 is coming in April. The update will very likely be called the “Spring Creators Update,” and it will have a number of new features. The Verge mentions new features like Timeline. According to Windows Central, Timeline compiles your activity on your computer into a timeline that goes back up to 30 days. Using Timeline, you’ll be able to jump right back in where you left off in a program or app. Windows Central also notes how useful it is to be able to use Timeline across different devices. Aside from Timeline, there will also be other improvements to the operating system in the upcoming update.

SwiftKey has been updated

SwiftKey, the keyboard app run by Microsoft, has received an update. GeekWire is reporting that there are many new features in the SwiftKey update. One new feature includes the new Toolbar for quicker customization of the keyboard. The update also includes a bigger focus on different visuals. For instance, the app page on Google Play notes that you can now create your own stickers in the app. This update is a fairly notable one for the app that has been downloaded millions of times and is a top contender in the third-party keyboard app field.

Do You Know Your Family History?

Do You Know Your Family History?

Over the years, more options have become available for people to learn about their family histories. In the past, people often had to search through physical records if they wanted to find out about their family tree. If someone was interested in learning more about their family’s past, they would likely find themselves spending a lot of time in the local archives building or at the library.

Since then, many well-known websites have made it easier to trace a family’s history. Anyone can take just a little bit of time and hop onto a website (or websites) to get whatever information they wanted.

In recent years, genealogy websites have been joined by websites offering DNA kits for even more opportunities to learn. Instead of just looking at a family tree, DNA kits let people get a little more involved and find out specifics about their ancestors.

Do they work?

As these services have grown over the years, there have naturally been some questions about how accurate the information is. Many people have wondered what the likelihood is for mistakes or misinformation.

Though it’s still a topic of discussion, there is some evidence suggesting DNA kits are the real deal. For example, Today tested three popular DNA kits by having triplets take the test. The three DNA kits (AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, and 23andMe) all came back with the same (or at least incredibly similar) results.

As for genealogy sites, it seems that they can typically be trusted, as long as you’re using a credible one. The most respected and well-known genealogy sites provide information from legitimate sources. This means information gathered on a family tree site isn’t just hearsay added by anyone. It’s not made up of family stories that were mixed up or exaggerated over the years. The information is taken from official documents, like marriage licenses, land deeds, and the like.

Of course, it’s possible that mistakes could be made somewhere along the line, and it’s possible for information to be misinterpreted or misunderstood. If something found on an ancestry site seems wildly dramatic, it could be a good idea to verify it through different means. But generally speaking, an ancestry site can be a reliable way to gather information about a family’s history.

What can you learn about?

DNA kits and genealogy sites offer various different types of information. Which site or service you use might just depend on what kind of information you’re interested in. Here are just some of the things you can learn about:

  • Migration patterns
  • Health histories
  • Living relatives
  • Lifestyles of your ancestors
  • Countries of origin
  • Interesting events in the family tree

The different DNA kits offer at least some (if not all) of these features. Genealogy sites typically only offer some of them. When choosing whether to pay for a DNA kit, subscribe to a genealogy site, or just gather some information from a free service, think about which features you’ll enjoy having the most.

Genealogy sites and apps

There are a number of genealogy sites and apps since it’s such a popular service. Among the many sites, there are some that are especially popular, useful, and respected. Here are just some of the sites and apps you can check out to learn about your family tree! (plus its app)— is likely the most well-known genealogy site around. Using, you can start building your family tree. After putting in as much information as you can, the site will offer suggestions about other people who may also fit in your family tree. You can then choose to add that information to your tree if it’s accurate. does charge for its service (between $19.99 and $44.99 a month, depending on which service you choose). However, you can use its 14-day trial to see if it’s the service you want.—The National Archives offer plenty of information and tips for genealogists. Their records can be helpful when building a family tree. Their page on genealogy is particularly helpful, because it shows how to use their website to search for family history. Depending on which resources you click on, much of the information is free. (with the Memories and Family Tree apps)— lets you build your family tree, which you can then view in different ways. They also let you include “Memories,” including photos, documents, audio, and more. After you’ve built your tree, you can make a booklet about your family so you have something physical to look at. The accompanying app, Memories, lets you look at all your memories easily on the go, and the Family Tree app is an easier way to work on your tree on a mobile device. offers a free service.

Find a Grave (plus its app)—This site lets you search through their database to find graves. You can search using a person’s name or date of birth or death, and you can also just search specific cemeteries. Many of the results include photos of the gravestones, and they can include added information like obituary newspaper clippings and information on family members. The accompanying app makes it easier to search while away from the computer.

Findmypast—Findmypast focuses specifically on finding family history information traced back to Britain and Ireland. They claim to have a larger collection of British and Irish documents than any other site. You can build a family tree and learn more about your ancestors. The service is $19.95 a month, but you can try it free for 14 days.

GenealogyBank—This site lets you search through their database of records to find information on your family’s past. It focuses on its collection of newspapers. It has thousands of newspapers archived, including newspapers from every state in the US. The service is $19.95 a month, but you can try it free for 30 days.

MyHeritage Genealogy (plus its app)—MyHeritage is another very popular genealogy site. You can build a family tree by putting in all of the information you know. MyHeritage will alert you when they’ve found something that might fit in your tree. You can also add extra things to your tree, like stories and pictures. The accompanying app offers their service in a format that’s smoother on a mobile device. MyHeritage offers a limited service for free, and if you want to use all the features, you can pay a monthly fee.

DNA kits

Many different DNA kits are available for purchase these days. These kits vary in how the information is gathered, how much they cost, and what features they offer. Before spending your money on one, make sure you learn what you’ll be getting, since they’re not exactly the same. Here are some of the most talked-about DNA kits available now!

23andMe—This DNA kit costs $79 to $159 depending on which service you buy. With the $159 Health + Ancestry package, you get a number of features. You can find out about potential health risks, conditions you may be able to pass on, your physical traits, the composition of your ancestors, and who your relatives are. These are just some of the features from 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry service.

AncestryDNA—AncestryDNA costs $99 regularly (though it’s sometimes on sale). With this kit, you can learn your ethnicity, find living relatives, and learn about the migration history of your family.

Family Tree DNA—This DNA testing service has a number of different kits that focus on different things. Their most inexpensive kit (normally $79) gives percentages of your ethnicity and finds family members. Their other more expensive kits can trace back family lines and let you access more genealogical services.

Living DNA—Living DNA offers a kit that’s currently discounted at $99. It can show where your ancestors came from, your family line, and where your family was located over the years. They plan to offer a DNA matching service soon that will also help you find family members.

MyHeritage DNA—MyHeritage DNA is typically $99, but it’s currently on sale for $69. With MyHeritage, you learn your ethnicity and find your relatives. MyHeritage also offers a family tree service.

National Geographic Geno 2.0—NatGeo’s DNA kit is $99.95. With their kit, you can learn your ancestry, where your ancestors came from, your family’s migration, and historical information that relates to your results.

Gathering and saving information

Aside from these sites and apps, it can be helpful to use other services for keeping track of your family history. Here are some tips to make sure your family’s history is available for a long time!

  • Take notes—Use a document on your computer or an app on your phone to keep notes about anything interesting you find as you research
  • Create a calendar—Use a calendar app to add important events from your family’s past
  • Save photos and documents—Scan documents and photos, then back them up on an external drive and in cloud storage so you’ll be sure not to lose them if there’s a fire or flood
  • Interview your family—Your living family members can be a useful source of information, so consider using an audio recorder app to interview your family about its history.

Accessibility Updates—Google & Airbnb in the News

Accessibility Updates—Google & Airbnb in the News

Accessibility is an important focus in tech, and Google & Airbnb both reinforced that idea in recent announcements. Both Google and Airbnb will be updating their services to make them accessible for more people.

CNET is reporting that Google is working to make things more accessible in their transit maps. Now Google Maps will be able to show routes that are specifically accessible to people in wheelchairs. The update is live and available to use now. As CNET notes, it’s currently only available in six places, including London, New York, and Sydney, with more cities planned for the future.

If the feature is available in your city, you can access the wheelchair-accessible routes in the Google Maps app. After you’ve entered your destination and are looking at your directions, you simply choose the public transportation feature, then go to options and choose “wheelchair accessible” under routes.

In Google’s blog post, they illustrate how the routes work and how they were put together. Google was helped in building the feature by using meetups with guides to compile the information needed for their accessible routes. They’ve also updated Street View to make public transport more visible before actually getting there. In their blog post, they mention plans for expansion to other areas “in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, Airbnb has made their service more accessible, as well. Last year I wrote about Airbnb acquiring Accomable, an Airbnb-type service that focused on accessible locations. At that time, some basic accessibility search features were available on Airbnb’s website, but now there are almost two dozen search filters available to focus on accessible listings.

In Airbnb’s blog post, they outline the new search filters. According to Airbnb, people will now be able to search for listings based on a variety of different needs. They can find listings with “step-free access,” wide doorways and hallways, elevators, shower chairs, disabled parking spots, and more. Airbnb notes they’ll be focusing on making their filters better in the future, even expanding them.

With these updates to Google Maps and Airbnb, hopefully traveling will become easier for those concerned about accessibility.

Nest Now Offering a Temperature Sensor

Nest Now Offering a Temperature Sensor

Nest, the popular smart device company, is now releasing a temperature sensor.

Nest has been well-known in the smart home arena for some time now. They offer a variety of smart home products. They have smart thermostats, smart cameras, smart doorbells, smart security systems, smart locks, and more. Their focus is on offering products that can combine to make one well-connected smart home for easy security and control.

Nest’s devices are quite popular, with their products regularly showing up in articles featuring the top smart products on the market. The Nest Thermostat is particularly popular. Their thermostats are designed to save energy and make controlling your home’s temperature more convenient. You can control the thermostat from your mobile device, set it to turn down when you’re not home, and more. With the pricier models, you can even let your thermostat learn what temperature you like at certain times of day so that it can adjust itself automatically.

Now Nest is releasing the Nest Temperature Sensor to work with their smart thermostats. Using the Temperature Sensor, you can help your Nest Thermostat keep track of the temperature in specific rooms. You can set the sensor in a room (or attach it to the wall) and make sure that room’s temperature is regulated the way you want.

Nest’s website mentions using multiple Nest Temperature Sensors to keep track of different rooms. You can then decide which rooms are most important to keep regulated and at what times. This means if you want to make sure your living room is a certain temperature while you’re home during the day, but you also want to make sure your child’s room is a certain temperature while they’re sleeping at night, you could use multiple sensors to plan your temperature schedule.

The Nest Temperature Sensor is currently available for pre-order. One sensor costs $39, while you can get three sensors for $99. You can learn more about the new Temperature Sensor on Nest’s website.