Category Archives: Education

Track Your Day with Apps

Track Your Day with Apps

For some people, there’s so much to do in a day that it’s hard to keep up with everything. By the end of the day, you might not be sure what you even did over the past 12 hours. Or you might not be incredibly busy, but you just don’t remember to stop and think about specific aspects of your life.

If this is the case for you, you might benefit from an app like the ones in this article. There’s an app for nearly everything, and of course there are apps that can track most areas of your daily life.

Why track your day?

You might have realized you want to keep up with what you’re eating, or maybe it dawned on you that you’re not sure when you last spent time with your friends without looking at your phone. Maybe you’ve been forgetting to budget for travel expenses or grocery costs. Whatever it may be, there’s a way to track it.

Tracking certain parts of your day can make it much easier to evaluate what you’ve been doing. It can make it possible to understand certain issues in your life, and it can show you things you’ve been doing well (and things you didn’t know you needed to improve on). If you don’t know what to fix, then you won’t know how to fix it. By tracking how much you exercise, how much time you spend on your tablet, or how big your environmental footprint is, then you’ll have a starting point for change.

What can you track?

Here are just some ways you can track your personal life. There are apps listed for each area. Of course, these are just some of the apps you might want to try. The app store on your phone will likely have even more to choose from. So if one of these doesn’t appeal to you, take a look around to see if there are other options that fit you better.

Track your food

There are many different apps you can use to track your food throughout the day. Most of them will let you set goals (like how many calories you can have, how much sugar you can consume, etc.) You can often set a weight goal, as well, and get food intake suggestions. Here are a few apps to try:

  • Your device’s built-in app: Depending on which phone you have, you might already have a food tracker on your device. For instance, there’s Samsung Health, which offers quite a few health tracking features.
  • MyFitnessPal (Android & iOS): MyFitnessPal is an app from Under Armour. It lets you track your food intake, find out nutritional facts, add your own recipes, find food from restaurants, scan barcodes to look up products, and more.
  • Lose It! (Android & iOS): Lose It! is specifically designed for weight loss, but you can of course just use it to track what you eat. You can use it to set and meet goals. It lets you input and track your eating every day, take part in challenges, plan meals, and more.

Track your exercise

If you’re not sure you’re exercising enough, you can always try keeping track of your fitness regimen. You can log how long you’re exercising, what kinds of exercises you’re doing, and more. Most apps will give you an idea of how many calories you may have burned during the day, as well. Here are a couple apps to check out:

  • Your device’s built-in app: Like above, some phones have a built-in health app that offers useful features. Using Samsung Health as an example again, you can choose from different exercises (like push ups and jumping jacks), then log how long you did them.
  • JEFIT (Android & iOS): With JEFIT, you can track your training and your progress, as well as set and meet goals. Along with all the instructional features and its social aspect, you can log your workouts in the app.
  • HeavySet (iOS): With this app, you can track your weightlifting and other equally intense workouts. It’s specifically designed for logging exercise. It also tells you when you set personal bests and lets you look back on past time periods to see trends.

Track your gas costs

If you commute to work, like to go on road trips, or are just worried about the current cost of gas, then you can try tracking your transportation costs. Gas prices have been soaring, and it could be a good time to figure out just how much you’re spending. You may make decent money at your job, but if you commute to work, your gas costs might make a huge dent. Or you might have gone on a trip but then forgotten to calculate how much you spent fueling up. Here are a couple apps that can help you keep a log of how much you’re spending at the gas pumps.

  • Fuelio (Android): With this app, you can track basically everything related to your auto costs. You can track how much you’ve spent filling up your tank, how many miles you’ve put on your car, how much you’ve spent servicing your car, and more.
  • Fuel (iOS): Fuel, like Fuelio, lets you log how much you spend at the gas pumps. It also lets you input other car expenses, include more than one car, and look at clear charts showing your spending.

Track daily costs

If you find yourself running low on money before each paycheck, it might be useful to start figuring out where most of your money is going. Using an app, you can track how much you’re spending on your shopping trips, then look for any trends, places you can cut back, or things you can actually spend more on. These are just a couple of your options:

  • Wally Lite (iOS): With this app, you can scan receipts, manually input spending, set a budget, and track where you’ve been spending your money.
  • Mint: Mint is a popular multi-purpose finance service. It can help you track your bills, set a budget, and get a visual of your spending, along with many other features.

Track environmental impact

There are many things we do every day that can be wasteful or otherwise bad for the environment. With an app, we can remind ourselves to make environmentally-conscious decisions. We can also see a visual representation of the environmentally sound things we did that day, as well as learn about other little things we could be doing better. Here are a couple apps that can help:

  • JouleBug (Android & iOS): With JouleBug, you’re inspired to take note of what you do every day to try to be a little more green. The app offers suggestions on how to be more environmentally friendly, then gives you points and achievements when you actually do Earth-friendly things. Your points are a great indication of how environmentally sound you’re being each week.
  • Oroeco (Android & iOS): Oroeco is an app that encourages you to be environmentally friendly and then rewards you when you make an effort to do so. You can earn rewards when you do green things, and you’re given suggestions for ways to be kinder to the environment.

Track your mood

Keeping up with how you feel throughout a day can be difficult. You might not even know when you’re in a bad mood or if you’re experiencing mood swings. Keeping an eye on your mood can give you an indication of what the underlying causes might be (whether it’s something as basic as stress or something more serious). The following apps can help you track your mood throughout each day:

  • Realife Change (iOS): This app is a motivational app that offers a “virtual coach.” You can track your moods and various different emotions and thoughts throughout your day, then receive advice based on what you logged. You can also track your moods using hashtags.
  • iMoodJournal (Android & iOS): iMoodJournal lets you log your moods throughout the day (including hashtags), then look back at charts showing your trends. You can even include extras (like photos), and you can track other things, like energy level and stress.

Track screen time

If you’re like most people with access to tech, you probably spend a lot of your day looking at a screen. Phones, computers, tablets, TVs—there are screens everywhere. Some screen time is unavoidable, and realistically, it would be difficult to cut it out completely. But it is possible to learn how much time you’re really spending on it and then set goals to cut back. These are just two of the apps that you can try:

  • Moment (iOS): Moment is an app for iOS users who want to know how much time they’re spending on their iOS devices. It tracks screen time automatically. You can then see how much you’ve used all your devices (and you can include your family’s devices, too) and set daily limits.
  • AntiSocial (Android): This app runs in the background of your device and then provides reports on how much screen time you’ve used. You can use it to set limits and block access to certain apps, as well.

Nest Announces New ‘Power Project’

Nest Announces New ‘Power Project’

Nest has announced their new ‘Power Project’ to correspond with Earth Day this year. Their Power Project will focus on energy efficiency and bringing energy efficient devices to families that might not be able to afford them without help.

According to the Nest website, the Power Project hopes to address energy usage. Energy inefficient homes can cost far more to maintain and contribute to environmental issues. And many people are struggling specifically with these high costs at home. Nest notes at the top of their Power Project page that 1 in 5 families are spending at least 20% of their income just on energy costs. This is a significant chunk of a family’s money. For families that are already struggling financially, it can just make things worse. And it also makes it difficult to spend the money on energy efficient devices.

A major part of Nest’s new Project is their announcement that they’ll be working with other organizations (including energy companies and non-profits) to place their thermostats in homes. They pledge to place one million thermostats in the homes of people who need them the most. They say they’ll do so by selling their devices to agencies at a special low cost so that the agencies can then give them to people in need for either a very low cost or no cost at all.

The website for the Power Project illustrates another part of Nest’s campaign: education. They hope to teach people about the importance of energy efficiency. They also hope to promote useful tips for creating an energy efficient home. After describing how important it is to become energy efficient, they give tips for weatherizing homes. Their tips describe all the areas that should be checked, and they also note how to fix problems in easy, straightforward, and often inexpensive ways.

People can also get involved with the Project. On Nest’s website, there’s an area to “Give Help.” You can enter your zip code and be directed to the organizations in your area that currently help people maintain energy efficient homes. And if you need help yourself, you can click “Get Help,” enter your zip code, and see which organizations in the area might be able to help.

Nest’s Power Project website is live now. To see more about the Project, visit Nest’s website.

Duolingo Gets an Update

Duolingo Gets an Update

Duolingo, the popular service for learning new languages, is adding new ways to continue learning a language even more fully.

Users of the service who may previously have completed all of the levels in a language and couldn’t really advance higher will now be able to go even further with their new Crown Levels, reports The Verge. When working their way through a language, the update will allow users to level up after each section. This will allow language learners an opportunity to work on even more advanced skills.

According to The Verge, there are now five difficulty levels. You can either continue on to the Crown Levels after each section, or go through all the sections and come back later to complete the more advanced levels. Because you have this option, you’ll now be able to decide whether you want to learn casually or study intensely. And for users who already felt like they’d gotten everything they could from Duolingo, they will now have a reason to come back and continue their learning.

Duolingo has been a popular service for those learning new languages. Hundreds of millions of people have registered to use the service since it first came out less than a decade ago. English speakers currently can choose from 31 different languages to learn. It’s free, so it’s a useful tool for everyone who can access the service.

Duolingo was also in the news recently when they added an interesting language to its lineup: Klingon. As Space.com reported, Duolingo users can now learn how to speak the fictional language by just practicing 5 minutes every day. You can learn phrases that fit with the lore of the Klingons from Star Trek.

Whether you’re learning Klingon or Spanish, Duolingo’s new Crown Levels will make it possible for you to progress even further in your language learning. The new update is available in all of the service’s formats, so take a look at the new content available in your app or on the website.

10 Podcasts to Make Your Week More Interesting

10 Podcasts to Make Your Week More Interesting

Podcasts may not be a new discovery or some secret section of the internet. But in past years, podcasts stopped being discussed quite as often as they had been before. This has led some to believe they’ve mostly stopped being made and that there aren’t really any worthwhile podcasts out there.

While the format certainly isn’t new, there are some new (or new-ish) podcasts in existence that are quite different from what you might expect. And there are some podcasts still going strong for a decade or more. When someone mentions podcasts these days, some people think they’re talking about podcasts made up of political discussions and news stories. But there’s much more out there to subscribe to and enjoy.

What’s so great about podcasts?

Podcasts might not be quite as widely discussed or followed as they were not too long ago. But there are a lot of reasons to download or stream some podcasts. Here are a few things that are great about podcasts:

  • They can cover a wide variety of topics and be made in a number of different formats
  • You can find fun, interesting, or highly knowledgable hosts
  • You can listen to new content regularly (sometimes monthly, often weekly)
  • You can subscribe using music platforms you probably already use (like iTunes and Spotify)
  • There’s a lot to choose from because creators have so many outlets
  • You can listen to your podcasts during trips and your work commute
  • You can listen on many different devices, including smartphones, computers, and smart speakers

Where can you find podcasts?

There are a number of places to find new podcasts you may want to listen to. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • iTunes: Podcasts have been available on iTunes for many years now.
  • Spotify: Spotify listeners can stream quite a few podcasts and scroll through the podcasts they’re currently following.
  • Listen Notes: This website is a search engine devoted specifically to finding podcasts.
  • Stitcher: This site hosts many different podcasts (some of which you’ll see below).

Before you listen to these podcasts…

Keep in mind that the podcasts listed in this article may include some mature content. We can’t guarantee that they’ll be safe for work or that the content will always be clean or inoffensive. Always make sure to visit a podcast’s page and read its description before subscribing!

10 interesting podcasts

The following podcasts are all fairly different from one another. Take a look at each one to learn a little more about it, then click the podcast’s link to find out more!

Answer Me This
Answer Me This is a comedy podcast devoted to answering odd or interesting questions. Each episode description features a long list of topics discussed in the podcast (like “goldfish as gifts” and “Dothraki grammar”). Episode descriptions also feature a suggestion of how mature that specific episode’s content is (though the tone here is humorous just like everything else on the podcast). Episodes are bi-weekly.

Criminal
This podcast taps into peoples’ interest in true stories about shocking and compelling crimes. It attempts to actually look deeper into an understanding of the crimes instead of simply describing what happened. It’s been going for several years and puts out two episodes each month. Episodes feature a variety of different types of crimes. Some recent episode titles include “Willie Bosket,” “Secrets and Séances,” “A Bump in the Night,” and “Vanish.”

Hello from the Magic Tavern
Hello from the Magic Tavern is a comedy podcast that features the fictional Arnie, a man from our world who accidentally fell into another world (through a portal behind a Burger King) and ended up in a place called Foon. Arnie hosts each podcast in the Vermillion Minotaur, his new land’s local tavern, and he includes co-hosts (a wizard and a talking badger). He typically brings people of interest from the land of Foon onto the show and interviews them. This podcast has been running for several years and will appeal to both comedy and fantasy fans.

How Did This Get Made?
This podcast features funny conversations about bad films. The hosts (including Paul Scheer), based on recommendations, watch bad movies with their guests and then discuss them. Some past guests have included Patton Oswalt, James Franco, Seth Rogen, John Mulaney, Anna Faris, Kevin Smith, and many more. New episodes come out every other week.

Important If True
Important If True is a somewhat new podcast (which started last year). The hosts discuss various interesting topics and do it with a sense of humor. They often talk about future technology, science, and life in general. They often go off on tangents describing funny imagined scenarios, and it’s never a boring or dry discussion. Some episode titles include “Alexa, Destroy Me,” “The Terrible Power of Knowledge,” and “Untethered From Reality.” It’s posted weekly (though at the time of writing this article, episodes may be released less frequently).

Stuff You Missed in History Class
This podcast is from How Stuff Works. It features interesting historical topics that you probably didn’t learn about and that will catch your interest. Some recent podcasts are titled “Ignaz Semmelweis and the War on Handwashing” and “Hawaii’s Legend of the Menehune.” Podcasts can be sorted and looked through by topic or by the century the information is set in.

Stuff You Should Know
This is another podcast brought to you by How Stuff Works. The concept of this podcast is that there are a lot of things you might not know about, including some basic information. Each podcast covers a different subject you could benefit from knowing more about. There are podcasts focused on topics like landmines, the evolution of language, trickle down economics, hoarding, crime scene cleanup, and much more. You can sort and look through podcasts by topic.

They Walk Among Us
This podcast is not for the faint of heart. True crime shows are highly popular entertainment these days, and this podcast fits the bill. They Walk Among Us is a true crime podcast that features real events set in the UK. They have episodes on subjects like “Wearside Jack,” Alan Turing, missing persons, and more.

Thrilling Adventure Hour
This now-ended podcast is set like an old radio program. It features fictional stories read by the cast in front of an actual audience. There’s music, humor, and some interesting tales. It ended a couple of years ago, but the good news is you can still listen to the old recordings, and they’re worth going back to listen to even knowing there’s not more to come. Since they were created to have an old-timey feel anyway, it doesn’t matter that the episodes are a few years old.

You Must Remember This
This podcast is a work of creative nonfiction that features the host (Karina Longworth) telling true stories set in Hollywood during the classic era. Each episode is carefully researched, put together, and hosted by Longworth. There have been stories about Bela Lugosi, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Charles Manson’s connections to Hollywood, and much more. It’s currently on break, and the new season is scheduled to begin this July. In the meantime, you can listen to previous episodes in the show’s archive.

Tech For Your Pets

Tech For Your Pets

If you’re like me (and all the other pet owners I know), you probably care a lot about taking good care of your furry friends. You feed them well, walk them (or leave them alone, depending on the pet you have), and dote on them.

What’s great is there’s plenty of tech out there ready and waiting to make your pet’s life a little bit nicer. Here are just a few of the cool things you can get for your pets (and for your own peace of mind)!

Petcube Bites Pet Camera

This device is a fun, multipurpose bit of tech that is designed to be fun for pets while also being useful for pet owners. Using the Petcube app, you can watch a stream of the device’s camera, enabling you to check in on your pets while you’re away. It captures moments for you using its motion and sound detector, and you can even “talk” with your pets through its two-way audio. Plus you can brag about your pets by sharing video clips with others.

What makes it different is that it’s a camera and a treat dispenser. Using the Petcube app, you can have the device throw a treat to your pet whenever you want. You can use the sample treats that come with the device, then get some of your own (keeping in mind you’ll want to get a certain size of treat for the dispenser). So while you’re out, you can not only look in on your beloved pets, you can even reward them for good behavior (or just spoil them). You can find this device on Amazon.

ASPCA—Emergency Pet Safety

This app is a very useful way to make sure you and your pets are ready for an emergency. This app from the ASPCA is meant to help pet owners prepare for and recover from major storms. It shows people how to get ready for a storm, even letting you enter your pet’s health information for safekeeping in the app. It can then inform people of what to do to find a missing pet, even letting them design a lost pet flyer they can share. If you live anywhere that is prone to major storms, this app can give you peace of mind.

CleverPet Hub

There’s a lot to consider when caring for a pet. Sometimes people forget how important it is to give their pets proper exercise. The CleverPet Hub is one way to take care of that. It stimulates pets’ minds and gives them exercise. Pets are able to solve puzzles and get food rewards as they finish challenges. You can create a schedule for your pets, as well as track what your pet is up to using the connected app. And since the Hub is designed to be durable and stationary, it can withstand a lot of use (even if you have a very energetic pet). You can find this device on Amazon.

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor

We like to track our own activity, so it seems only natural we’d like to track our pets’ activity, too. With this tracker, you can keep up with what your pet has been doing. You simply attach it to your pet’s collar and harness, then set it up using your WiFi. You can create a “Place” your pet is meant to be, then receive an alert if your pet leaves that location. You can also see where your pet went over the course of the day. And, of course, it tracks other aspects of their activity, like their level of activity and the amount of rest they’re getting. All of these features make it possible to keep up with your pet’s health even if you’re away from home for a large part of the day. You can find this device on Amazon.

Dog Walk

With this app, you can track your pets while you’re with them. This app lets you keep track of the walks you take with your dogs. It tracks where you are, as well as how far and how long you walked. It shows you your route on a map so you can see where you went. And if you love taking millions of pictures of your pet (I know I do), you can use the built in camera. Also, you can track where and when your dog is relieving itself by adding the information in the app as you walk. This app is available for Android and iOS.

Find a Job Using the Web

Find a Job Using the Web

Finding a job can seem difficult these days. There’s a lot to consider during a job search, especially if you’re looking for jobs that ask for resumes and cover letters, require a clean online presence, and have a lengthy vetting process.

For a long time now, job search sites have been growing online. Popular sites like Monster have been heavily advertised, offering job searchers access to listings from employers. However, some aspects of looking for a job online can seem daunting or confusing.

In this article, we’ll take a look at just some of the help you can find online. If you’re looking for a new job, these ideas should get you started on your path!

What can you find online?

The answer is, of course, pretty much everything. Whatever your job search entails, you can almost certainly find resources online. Job search sites like Monster and Indeed are well-known, but there are other services that do important things, as well. You can find resources for the following (and more):

  • Figuring out which job is right for you
  • Finding job listings
  • Creating resumes and cover letters
  • Maintaining your online presence
  • Preparing for interviews

Find the right job

When starting a job search, you might feel a little lost. What kind of job should you look for? Maybe you haven’t had many jobs, or maybe you want to leave your current job because you realized you were in the wrong field. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you start looking.

The following sites are just two options you can try out. Both will help you figure out what kind of job might be best suited for you specifically.

O*NET Interest Profiler—The O*NET Interest Profile on the My Next Move website can take your responses to their survey and match you with the jobs that you’ll be most likely to succeed at. You’ll be asked about certain activities and how you feel about doing them, then given suggestions for career paths.

Time.com—Time’s website can help you figure out which job best fits your personality and interests. After you’ve taken their quiz, you’ll be presented with the job that suits you the most. It chooses from almost a thousand possible job choices.

Search for open positions

If you know what you want to do, or if you’re open to just about any job, there are plenty of sites out there that have a vast array of job listings. Many listings even let you apply right on the job search site. Here are some of the popular sites used to find available jobs!

CareerBuilder—With this site, you can find jobs using things like certain skills, location, and salary. You can create a CareerBuilder resume and apply to some jobs right through the website.

Glassdoor—Glassdoor is perhaps best known for its extensive database of business reviews. However, you can also search for job openings. You can filter results by things like keyword, location, and salary range. Once you’ve found a job you’d like, you can look at Glassdoor’s reviews from past employees.

Indeed—This is one of the most popular job search sites today. With Indeed, you can search for jobs by keyword, experience level, location, and more. You can create an Indeed Resume and apply for some jobs through Indeed. You can also get notifications when more jobs are added with the keywords you’ve searched for.

Monster—This site is one of the most well-known in the job search field. You can search for jobs by keyword, experience level, location, and more. You can also find career search tips, business reviews, and more.

Polish your resumes and cover letters

Once you’ve found the jobs you’re interested in, it’s time to apply. Some jobs simply ask you to fill out an application and perhaps take an online assessment. However, many jobs ask for resumes and, less frequently, cover letters. These are an important part of how you present yourself to a future employer. It’s not enough to create one resume and use it over and over for every job.

To make sure you’re creating the right resume and cover letter, take a look at these sites!

CareerOneStop—This site offers a number of resources for building and perfecting a resume. You can find out how to plan your resume, write it, format it, and more. You can also find out how to get connected to face-to-face resources for resume writing.

Monster—This site is, as mentioned above, a popular site for finding jobs. However, you can also get help with your resume on Monster. You can upload your resume, and after about two days, you’ll get the results of Monster’s assessment of the document. (They use scanning technology to assess resumes, not real people.) You can also pay to have an actual person work on your resume and cover letter. If you’d rather not pay, you can also look through Monster’s resume tips.

The National Resume Writers’ Association—Using the NRWA’s website, you can search for professional resume writers near you. Some of them are certified by the association, making them even more trustworthy. Be sure, though, to carefully research and consider someone before hiring them to help you with your resume.

Maintain your online presence

Depending on the job you’re in the market for, your online presence might be something important to consider. With some employers, it looks better if you have a profile on professional networking sites. And when it comes to the rest of your information, you may need to keep watch on what employers might find if they search for you. As you’re applying to jobs, you should find out how to keep your online appearance professional and free of any red flags (like old Facebook posts that cast you in a bad light).

The following sites can help you set up and maintain a clean online presence!

BrandYourself—This service searches you online and figures out what might give potential employers second thoughts about hiring you. It finds search results, social media posts, and more.

Consumer Reports—If you don’t want to have someone else fix your online appearance for you, you can find tips on the Consumer Reports website. This article details, step-by-step, how to find your search results, clean out your social media profiles, and more. The process may be somewhat tedious, but their tips are solid and could help you look better during your job search.

Linkedin—Linkedin is probably the most commonly used professional profile site. You can add a lot of relevant information to your profile, like your job history, skills, resume, certifications, and more. You can connect with others in your field, get updates about job openings, share articles, and just connect with the business world.

Prepare for interviews

Once you’ve applied to your (many, many) potential jobs, you’ll start setting up interviews with potential employers. Even if you’ve interviewed before, you should always dust off your skills and make sure you’re up to date with current interview practices. Here are just some ways you can get ready for an interview!

LinkedIn ProFinder—Linkedin doesn’t just let you find jobs. You can also get connected with someone who can help you practice and perfect your interview technique. Answer some quick questions about what you’re looking for, then make your “Project” go live. You’ll be connected with someone who can help as soon as someone matches your preferences.

Princeton—The Princeton website has a great section all about getting ready for your big interview. They offer an interview prep plan, a list of common interview questions, details on what you should wear to interviews, and more. They also go over what you should do after you’ve gone to an interview.

Barnes & Noble’s New Book Recommendation App

Barnes & Noble’s New Book Recommendation App

Bookworms rejoice! Barnes and Noble, the popular bookseller, has released a new app for finding new book recommendations and connecting with other readers.

Barnes and Noble’s new app is called Browsery, and it’s intended to help readers discover books to read in a more personal way than some other apps. The bookseller is calling the app “[t]he first app that talks about books the way you do.”

Instead of adding books to a shelf and having other titles automatically suggested to you based on algorithms, users of the Browsery app will join a community of readers. When you use the app, you can ask specific questions looking for recommendations. Then the other people using the app can offer book recommendations. Once a recommendation has been posted, others can say whether they agree with the recommendation, making it easier to verify that a book really does fit the criteria. You can also, of course, offer recommendations to other users yourself. You can talk about the recommendations and even follow them. And as you use the app, you create a list of books you’ve read, helping you keep track of what you’ve found through the app so far.

This is a fairly different concept when compared to other bookshelf-building apps. Other apps typically let you do more to build a shelf of all the books you’ve owned and read (which Browsery doesn’t particularly focus on), but they also aren’t usually built around getting personalized suggestions. They often just suggest books based on what you’ve already read.

Barnes and Noble actually lists some examples of questions people might ask when looking for recommendations. Recommendation requests can center on pretty much anything you’d like. You might ask for a favorite children’s book on a particular topic, a book everyone should read before they die, a book that foreshadowed modern times, or anything else that piques your interest.

Browsery is now available on Android and iOS. Head over to the Barnes and Noble website to find out more.

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!

Ancestry.com (plus its app)—Ancestry.com is likely the most well-known genealogy site around. Using Ancestry.com, 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. Ancestry.com 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.

Archives.gov—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.

FamilySearch.org (with the Memories and Family Tree apps)—FamilySearch.org 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. FamilySearch.org 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.

Apps & Devices For Better Health

Apps & Devices For Better Health

It’s important to keep up with your health and make sure you’re living well. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps and devices that can help you monitor your health, get help, and learn healthy habits.

You may already know about Fitbit, but there are plenty of other health devices available with great features. And though you really shouldn’t skip going to the doctor altogether, did you know you can get advice from a doctor right from your phone?

Always remember to make regular visits to your doctor. However, you have plenty you can do between visits. Here are some really useful apps and devices you can try to better keep up with your health!

Manage your doctor visits

  • Doctor on Demand (Android & iOS)—This app lets you connect with real doctors using live video. You can get prescriptions and advice for things like colds and anxiety.
  • HealthTap (Android & iOS)—Using HealthTap, you can get help from doctors in-app. You can search for answers in their database, or you can pay to talk with a doctor personally though either text or video, getting advice, prescriptions, and more.
  • ZocDoc (Android & iOS)—With this app, you can search for and find your next doctor to go to. You can even set up an appointment and get reminders right in the app.

Keep track

  • Your smartphone’s health app—Depending on which smartphone you have, you likely have a health app pre-installed or ready to easily connect with your account once installed. For Apple devices, you can use the iOS Health app to track your activity, monitor your sleep, log your eating habits, and more. If you have a Samsung device, Samsung Health offers the same kinds of features. These apps can be incredibly useful and may make it unnecessary for you to download anything else. Take a look at your phone and see which health apps might already be available specifically for your device.
  • Fooducate (Android & iOS)—Fooducate helps you keep track of your eating habits so you can learn to eat healthier. It not only helps you log and track your habits, it also provides information on healthy eating. This means you can not only keep track of what you eat, you can also learn along the way.
  • Lose It! (Android & iOS)—Using Lose It! is another way to focus specifically on your weight. It’s a weight loss program, so it works to help you meet your weight goals. You input and track your eating every day, take part in challenges, plan meals, and more.
  • MyFitnessPal (Android & iOS)—This app is offered by Under Armour. You can track what you eat, learn about your nutrition, add recipes, include meals from restaurants, and even add foods using a barcode scanner for more convenience.
  • Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (Android & iOS)—The Sleep Cycle alarm clock contributes to a healthier lifestyle by focusing on an important (but often overlooked) area of health: your sleep habits. It listens to the sounds of your sleeping, learns your habits, and figures out the best time to wake you up (during a window of time that you choose). This way you’ll wake up at the right time and feel as though you’ve gotten a better night of sleep.

Use a device

Wearables—There are many wearables available to purchase. Fitbit is extremely popular, but there are other options, as well.

  • Fitbit does have many different options, so you can choose to buy a more pricey but full-featured watch, or you can spend less and get just the features you need. One of their lowest priced wristbands is around $60.
  • Garmin also offers a line of activity trackers. They can track your activity and things like your heart rate, and some have GPS built in. They even have some wristbands designed specifically for kids. One of their least expensive devices is around $70.
  • Moov Now also offers a wearable device to track activity. Their device is designed to be especially light and unobtrusive. It also includes an app with plenty of detailed information on your activity, as well as “real time coaching” so you can learn how to improve what you’re doing. This tracker is about $60.
  • Samsung offers a way to track activity, as well, with their Gear Fit series. Their wristbands use GPS to follow your activity, and they can detect what kind of activity you’re doing. It also has things like a heart monitor and different displays, as well as plenty of options in the connected apps.

Smart speakers—Any smart speaker can be a useful tool when taking care of your health. Most smart assistants can answer many of the health questions you may have, and there are skills and services available to personalize things further. Google Home can easily give information on how many calories are in a certain food and what nutrition is offered. Using your Amazon Echo, you can enable skills like Virtual Nurse, Fitbit (to link with your device), and Nutritionix. Just ask your smart speaker and see what health information is available.

**Editors Update**

After this article was published we came across some really great information on how to make sure your sleep cycle is optimized, and how important your sleep cycle is to your overall health. Health Ambition, a site full of great resources and information on living a healthy lifestyle, recently published an article on resetting and optimizing your sleep schedule, and if you enjoyed this article and are serious about improving your health then check out this article.

Spring Cleaning? There Are Apps (& Sites) For That

Spring Cleaning? There Are Apps (& Sites) For That

It’s very nearly spring, and for some, the urge to start spring cleaning has already hit. (It definitely has for me—I went for “late winter cleaning” instead.) Spring arrives on the 20th of this month. So if you’re about ready to get started cleaning out your garage or your messy closet, you should know there are some great and super helpful apps out there.

Here are just some of the ways you can improve your spring cleaning with apps!

Get organized

  • Any.do (Android & iOS): Any.do is a to-do list, calendar, and more. You can get reminders and schedule times for you to accomplish whichever spring cleaning tasks you want. You can even share your to-do list and set up certain tasks for certain people, and there are many more helpful features.
  • BrightNest (Android & iOS): BrightNest lets you plan your cleaning schedule and get tips on how to accomplish tasks. You can get reminders, and you can look through their tips for cleaning and organizing, among other useful features.
  • OurHome (Android & iOS): If you’re spring cleaning with other people in your home, OurHome can help. You can assign different tasks to different people, set up rewards, get reminders, view progress, and more.
  • Sortly (Android & iOS): Sortly is a great way to set up an organized system as you finish spring cleaning a section of your home. With this app, you can take photos of your stuff and then tag them, add notes, put them in different folders, keep track of who you loaned items to, and more. Using this app throughout the year could make spring cleaning even easier next time around.
  • Spring Cleaning Checklist (Android): With this app, you can create a helpful checklist for getting all your tasks done. You can organize your checklists by different areas of the home. There are also videos that give tips for cleaning, and you can listen to a playlist while cleaning.
  • Wunderlist (Android & iOS): With Wunderlist, you can create different lists and keep up with your tasks. You can share lists, add photos, discuss tasks, set reminders, and more.

Make it fun

  • EpicWin (Android & iOS): EpicWin can make completing your tasks a little more fun. It’s a to-do list in the form of an RPG. Instead of just checking off tasks as you complete them, you have a character that can gain XP and develop. There are “animated battles” as you complete tasks, you can find loot, and more. There are also some typical features, like reminders.
  • Habitica (Android & iOS): With Habitica, you can treat your tasks like a game. Finishing tasks allows you to level up your avatar. You can go on quests, fight with your friends (helping you stay accountable and on track), and gain rewards as you progress.

Clean efficiently

There are plenty of websites that offer tips for effective and safe cleaning! Here are just a few sites you can check out.

Get rid of unwanted stuff

Once you’ve cleaned out your closets and under your bed, you’ll likely have some items you don’t need anymore.

For those things that aren’t really worth anything and that you couldn’t sell, you should look into recycling. One app for this is iRecycle. This app is available for Android and iOS. Using this app, you can use your location to find recycling centers near you. After choosing which type of item you’re wanting to recycle, the correct recycling centers will be suggested for you.

If you have items someone might want to purchase, selling online is much simpler than it once was. You can sell through a site like eBay, an app like LetGo, or a service like Facebook’s Marketplace.

For help getting rid of your stuff, check out my article about selling online!