Posts Tagged ‘ google ’

My Travel Bucket List

Imagine this – a dazzling pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Nearby, an outdoor ampitheater where you can watch the bright orange-red orb dunk into the night sky. It’s a stunning image – your internet browsing has yielded visual gold. You tell yourself, remember this place, you want to visit this some day….you might even add it to your hundreds of bookmarks.

Tomorrow you won’t be able to find it again.

Not me.

Did you know that you can create custom maps with Google Maps? I have several, but my most favorite is my Bucket Travel Map. Every time I stumble across some amazing destination I quickly search the address and save it to my Travel Bucket Map within Google Maps. If you’re feeling organized or have a few moments to spare, you can even edit it to add a photo or website link. For me, this means I have an annotated, central map of all the amazing, wondrous places I stumble across while on my deep, dark, internetting holes.

My Travel Bucket List looks something like this (click “View Larger Map” below to see all my annotations on this map):

In the end, it’s pretty simple. Any time you have a location pop-up on Google Maps there’s this little selection, “Save to map”:


It will allow you to create a new map or save to an existing map. I have several maps saved up. My Travel Bucket List, The Places I Have Gone (obviously want to move as many from the first map to the second as possible), Niagara Wine Tour….to any vacation I could possibly plan or have been on. This is how I track the amazing places I see and find – so I can eventually go visit them. When I’m ready to plan my next exotic trip, I’ve already a road map all laid out.

So, what map are you going to make?

The Power of Social Search: Bing or Google?

I’m a Google Girl, I happen to enjoy all things Google. I almost exclusively use Google for searches, but I know that technology changes and it’s a good idea to challenge your conceptions from time to time. Reading about Bing’s integration with Facebook, I decided to give a Bing a try.

*Note I did this little experiment about 2 months ago, before I closed my Facebook account.

My experiment: I linked Bing to Facebook and searched “andromeda” in both search engines.

First, Bing made me complete a captcha! Shut. The. Front. Door.

Once completed, I was able to retrieve my search results. The Facebook plugin put a ticker on the right side of my screen. It was reminiscent of the ticker found within Facebook and I found it made my screen feel cluttered and claustrophobic. However, collapsing this ticker defeats the purpose of evaluating the new social search features.

My top search results: Wiki article on the Andromeda Galaxy, two scientific articles and a male infertility clinic followed by a preview of an image search. Wedged between my search results and the social plugin was a list of advertisements and a list of related searches. The social plugin? It just provides me with a list of Bing searches that my friends have posted on Facebook. None of this list pertained to my actual search. Instead it was a complete distraction and provided me with nothing useful.

Bing Results

On to Le Goog:

With Google, the “personal” or social search results were interspersed with the regular results. A toggle allows me to view just the personal results if I prefer. My top results were a bit less varied in that it suggested Wiki articles on both Andromeda Galaxy and the television show, as well as an IMDB link. On the side it suggested related searches to expand the search range and below was a quick preview to an image search.

On the landing page there is also a list of search tools that include limiting your search to a particular time frame, dictionary results, reading level, translated pages. While my main landing page has a little less variety, it seems laid out in a more intuitive way. The main search topics are more thoroughly covered but there is also easier access to more complex searches.

Google Results

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.

The “personal” results brought up a search results of all public posts within my Google Plus sphere, but not just any old post – only the ones pertinent to my search. My Googleverse has just been blown out of the water. With a vague recollection that a friend shared an article about Andromeda, I can use the personal results to quickly locate their original post. This search is far more, well, personal.

Google Personal

Sorry Bing, you’re just not there yet. Like Facebook, I feel like I’m being broadcast at rather than customized to. And if you’re out there still wondering how Google Plus can be useful for you? Go circle up a group of people who post on topics that interest you. Your search results will thank  you.

A Simple Idea That Simply Changed Everything

Today is YouTube’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday YouTube!

What an amazingly simple idea, start a website where people can upload and share videos publicly and freely. 7 years ago who could have possibly imagined how deeply this simple idea could permeate and change modern daily life?

Today we use YouTube in most aspects of our lives: entertainment, business, personal and educational. Movies host theatrical trailers both on their website and on a YouTube channel. Businesses create marketing campaigns using viral and quirky videos.  A business can create informational content about who they are, their products and industry specific topics.

Now, more than ever, information is just a few simple clicks away. Just this month, YouTube showed me how to change the camera lens cover on my cell phone (bye-bye scratchy photos) and guided my son on how to sync our Xbox remote to a friend’s console.

For some, the YouTube effect is stronger than others. With millions of views per video, Maru, a playful, mischievous Scottish White Fold seduces the internet on a regular basis. I’m sure his owner is more than a little pleased with his success.  If you don’t know Maru, let me educate you now:


As a mom, I share home videos of my children with my grandparents who live across the country. I’m able to find funny jokes, inspiring stories and an army of artistic movies, shorts and videos. From my phone, I can privately upload my sons humiliating themselves in dance and karaoke while publicly posting my parents’ little pocket beagle ferociously attacking a feather. And let me tell you, the feather usually wins. Just this weekend I grabbed this little altercation between them:


The growing vlogging community is an incredible artistic outlet. YouTube has become a display case for home animation, video rants, home produced films, fan fiction, cooking lessons, college applications and creative resumes.

As features are added and the technology evolves, I can’t help but ponder about where this is headed. The integration of Google, YouTube and Google Plus allows us to seamlessly share and explore things from all areas of our lives. With Hangouts on Air I could broadcast and record family events that distant relatives can’t attend. Weddings, soccer games, birthday parties – suddenly distance is not such a large hurdle for keeping families and friends connected to each other.

It’s just such a simple concept, create a space where people can share their videos. It’s astonishing how simply this idea has changed the way we do business, entertain ourselves and archive our personal lives. Tell me, how has YouTube affected your life?


A Single Mom’s Tech Survival Guide: Tips & Tools for Busy Parents

As a busy, connected single parent it can be hard to keep track of all the things in my life and my family’s life. Doctor appointments and dentist appointments for 3 people, birthday and holiday gift wishes, important documents are hard enough to track solo. Add in the mix of coordinating with a parent in a separate household and BAM!

These are a few simple and free applications I’ve started using the past year. There are more eloquent systems out there; these are just the first, simplest and easiest ones I found. If you’ve found more advanced and comprehensive solutions, please comment below and share!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say again, sometimes the simple things escape me.

For managing life, think cloud.

This was the first hurdle for me to overcome. I had always saved my contacts and calendar directly to my phone. It took me several months to grasp that saving my contacts and my calendar to my Google account presented me with several simple, productive tools:

  1. Losing or resetting my phone does not mean loss of data. Also, for longer edits I can use the web interface and full keyboard from my computer.
  2. With Google Calendar, I can schedule and share appointments easily with my ex-husband. Adding him as a “Guest” to the event sends him an email invitation. When he accepts, the appointment and all pertinent information (address, reminders) are also added to his calendar. I cannot express how much simpler it is to coordinate schedules through shared calendars.
  3. Tools like Google Docs and Dropbox are simply amazing for storing and sharing school projects, important family documents and even sharing photos. With Google Docs, students can collaborate on group projects and track changes.  With Dropbox we can keep a synced family folder of any file type: scanned report cards, family photos, important school documents and access it anywhere from a web browser or phone app.

Time for some fun! Recently, I’m in love with Amazon.

  1. I can link all of our family devices and share books, movies and music between them. My older son is beginning to explore my extensive science fiction collection and we no longer have to dig through the boxes in the garage to pull out treasured old friends.
  2. The Wish Lists function allows me to create gift lists for myself and each child. When family members ask what the kids want for birthdays and holidays I can simply share the list with them. It’s an ongoing gift registry, but it helps me keep track of which boy wants what and when! A simple tool, but very effective for busy moms and dads – especially in separate households.
  3. Although not free, the $79 annual Amazon Prime account has been worth the upgrade fee. With this account we enjoy free 2nd day shipping (OH NO! The birthday party is THIS weekend?!) and a good library of free movie and book rentals. My son currently has the 2nd installment from the Hunger Games checked out. Three months through the year I calculate I’ve already come close to breaking even.

Hey, a girl’s gotta work….

Finally, here’s a couple of easy tricks that help me look like a rock star at the office. My coworkers have remarked more than once about how “on top of things” I am. They just don’t have all my secrets:

  1. I take advantage of the scheduling tools available within Outlook and my phone. A simple step to set reminders on emails keeps an on-going “To Do” list. When I’m on vacation, I set a reminder on my phone to turn off my work auto-responder at 5pm on my last day off. This saves me that embarrassing “out of office” message when I’m already back in the office.
  2. The Traffic Widget that runs of Google Maps. With the Traffic Widget, I can glance at my phone in the morning to see how long my commute will take. Sometimes, just a little warning of traffic problems is all you need to get a jump start on the day.

And finally….

Google Alerts. Essentially, Google Alerts is nothing more than a saved search that Google runs for you at a designated interval (daily, weekly) and then emails you any new results since the last search. Being able to identify news on important clients and competitors before my boss reads about it shows that I’m thinking, proactive and taking initiative.

What easy, free solutions do you use? What works for your family?

Down the Rabbit Hole




My phone notifications were insistently dinging at me. My hand hovered over my phone as I stopped myself short. I was driving and – immediate safety issues aside – I wanted to model good behavior for my children. When they start driving, I want them to have an example of someone who ignores their phone while the car is in motion.

This thought sent me down quite a mental rabbit hole!

My older son will be driving in 6 years and I wondered just how much technology would be different. Looking back at my life 6 years ago, I can see an incredible evolution. In 2006 I had just delivered a baby. My cell phone was only used for phone calls. I did not use it to text, take pictures, browse the internet or check email. My phone did not connect to any other devices, and while Bluetooth was out there – it wasn’t widely used among my circles.

Today, my phone connects me to my entire life. Email, photography, text, chat, video calls, Google searches, navigation, streaming video. Many new cars today are equipped to integrated with your phone for music, remote start, navigation and a variety of services. I can dial, text and compose thoughts through voice commands on my phone and I’m glued to my Bluetooth headset while driving.

So where will we be in another 6 years? Personally, I think the entire problem of texting and driving will be eliminated by then. I have no access to the secret labs at Apple, Microsoft or Google. It’s pure speculation. The speed of technology evolution is amazing.

Further down the rabbit hole I go….

Will our future look like the Cybermen upgrades found in Doctor Who? Will it be more like the implanted data chips found in Johnny Mnemonic? How about “enhanced reality” leaving a permanent virtual layer over our eyes? Further down the road do you see a Matrix-like submission into virtually-created worlds or a Terminator-like automated intelligence dominance? How about a society without currency, like in Star Trek? What type of future do you see?

Last year I shared this video with friends. One told me he felt this reality was far, far off and cost prohibitive to implement. I told him that this reality is far closer than he can possibly imagine. Today, I think we’re 75% there in retail implementation. There really is an app for almost anything and the cost of computing power has come down so far that “smart appliances” are working their way into the American retail market.


Where do you think we’re headed? What type of future do you see? Better yet, what’s the next game changer, industry revolutionizer? I have trouble imagining the next simple idea that will completely change the way we think and how we live our lives. But I know it’s out there.

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