Reviewing Remote Work Locations (in Tracy, CA)

In August 2007 (several lifetimes ago in the technology world), I went around to three locations in Tracy, CA to see how the new fangled WiFi hot spots worked, and, if they also worked with videoconferencing.  The experiment went rather well.  Fast forward 7.5 years to 2015 and videoconferencing is ubiquitous, there are remote workers EVERYWHERE, and WiFi is commonplace in public areas (still not everywhere, but, getting there).  Over the next few months, TechyMike will re-visit my old blog and visit several locations (including two of the originals since my beloved Barnes & Noble skipped town) around Tracy, CA to review their environment with respect to remote work.

There will be only one essential requirement:  Free access to the Internet. Everything else is wide open, for example, can I work remotely in the Transit Station as effectively as Baristas or Starbucks or McDonalds or the Mall or Coworking or the ACE train, or ?????.

Among the items I will rate include, but are not limited to:

  • Ease of connecting to the Wifi
  • Staying connected to the WiFi
  • Speed of the WiFi as per the SpeakEasy Speed Test (http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/)
  • Noise level (I downloaded a noise level measurement app for my Samsung Galaxy Note 4)
  • Ambiance of the location (I will disregard home this time around)
  • Desk, or table space, availability
  • Availability of power
  • Availability of accessories (printer, conf room, etc)
  • Managements tolerance of remote workers staying for the day
  • Hours of operation or use that remote workers can gain access

Summary

Starting in January 2015, I will randomly pop-in at remote work locations around Tracy, CA and attempt to get some work done. While I am there I will gather information for this blog, and leave a card.

If you have a favorite location in Tracy, CA to remote work, let me know by commenting below!  I will check it out!!  :-)  

 

Adding an Audio Track to Your YouTube Video

In the old days I took my chances adding country songs to my YouTube videos. And I always got caught. Fast forward a bunch of years and now you can add royalty free music / audio tracks to your videos.

Here is how you do it:

Once you upload the video, go to “Creator Studio” and then to “Video Manager”, select the video you want to add Audio to, then pull down the edit menu and click on “Audio”.  See Figure 1

adding audio track to youtube video
Figure 1: Finding How To Add Audio

 

Once you click “Audio” you will see the following (figure 2).  Pull down the menu labeled “Top Tracks” to pick the lesser tracks (haha).  Once you find your genre, click on it.

choose a music genre
Figure 2: Selecting Genre

 

Figure 3 shows my “Country & Folk” selection and the run times for the tracks.  You can click on each one to find the track you like.

country and folk
Figure 3: Picking a Track

 

When I did the 360 degree video, I was not too picky on the audio run time and let YouTube fit it to the video once I picked a catchy tune.  You can do the same, but, I think you can also adjust the run time using the following shown in Figure 4 (?  give it a try and comment below):

position audio
Figure 4: Adjusting the Track Position

 

If you want, you can search a very large library of audio tracks….have fun!

search lots of tracks
Figure 5: Searching 150,000 Audio Tracks

 

Here is the video featured in this blog post….enjoy!

Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office

As a small business owner, purchasing office productivity software from Microsoft can be painful.

Luckily, there are free options available that work REALLY well.  I will look at two here:  Open Office and Google Docs.  But first, here is a list of what I think the free options need to fulfill to be a viable option for the small business owner:

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word.
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format.
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products)

Open Office (OpenOffice.org)

open office logo

I started using Open Office many years ago and still use it today (even though I am drifting more and more to the cloud).

The latest versions of Open Office are very robust and easily interface with the world of Microsoft.   I use Open Office daily for invoices and spreadsheets for income vs expenses for JBB Cleaning Services.

Here is a screenshot of the features offered by Open Office taken from their web site:

open office description

So let’s see how Open Office stacks up to my feature criteria for a free office suite:

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word. (Writer)
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel (Calc)
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio (Draw)
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint (Impress)
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format. (Yes)
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products) (Yes)

Open Office meets all of my feature requirements.  And the price is right….FREE.  :-)

Google Docs (Use your Google log in)

google logo sort of

In my old business (which I will hand over to the new owner on Dec 31, 2014), and as TechyMike, I have used, and will continue to use, Google Docs almost exclusively (having switched from Open Office slowly over the past few years).

My invoices, drawings, signs, documents, presentations, and collaborations are all done via one or more of the Google Docs programs and stored on Google Drive.  And the BEST thing (other than not worrying about backing up my work) is that I can continue to work, and collaborate, from my SmartPhone using the Google apps for Docs, Sheets, Slides, and, Drive.

Awesome!

Enough with unbridled enthusiasm……How does Google stack up to my more objective feature requirements?

  1. A word processor similar to Microsoft Word. (Docs)
  2. A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel (Sheets)
  3. A drawing program similar to Microsoft Visio (Drawings)
  4. A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint (Slides)
  5. The ability to save documents in PDF format (Yes)
  6. The ability to save documents in Microsoft format and read Microsoft formatted files (optional for me, but, essential for those in the corporate world or with collaborators who use Microsoft products) (Yes)

Per #6…Google Docs translates Microsoft documents to Google Docs format, but, does not translate Open Office documents.

google works with word

Summary

Small businesses need to save money.  Using free office suite software makes a lot of sense so you, as a small business owner, can use the money saved for marketing and advertising.

TechyMike bc snip

Build Your Own App for Android or IOS

apps

Originally published on ForCarol.com one year ago.  I will be publishing new stuff soon, life has just gotten in the way.

I bought a book on programming a few months back.  But….I decided I was just too damn old to learn all this stuff again.

I wished they had an app maker that was easy to use that worked well and did not require detailed programming knowledge.

Maybe one exists…or more than one.  As I was surfing the Internet today, I ran across this list on MASHABLE.  I will copy the first three (I hope they don’t mind…), then you have to visit the web site to see the rest.

I may give one or more a try….below is the article.  

Go HERE for the rest…of the list.

If you’ve ever wanted to build an app for your business, blog, product or service, but the heavy investment of both time and money put you off, you’re not alone.The good news is that entering the mobile market no longer necessarily requires thousands of dollars and months of work. There are many mobile platforms available to help you build an app on a budget — quickly, and with no coding knowledge required.With a small investment, you can create and manage your mobile site or application using one of the platforms listed below, and start reaping the advantages of offering your customers a dedicated mobile experience, including increased awareness, engagement and revenue.

  • 1. Appery

    1-appery

    Appery is a cloud-based mobile app builder that you can use to create apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and includes Apache Cordova (Phone Gap) with access to its built-in components.

    Since the builder runs in the cloud, there’s nothing to install or download, and it’s easy to get started quickly. It includes a visual editor using drag and drop components to build the UI. You can connect to any REST API and use it in your app, and instantly add a cloud database and backend to your app if you need to store data.

    You can add powerful functionality with the Appery plugin catalog, or create your own custom private plugins to use in your apps. Collaboration is simple, allowing you to share your mobile project with development teams, business users and customers in real time.

    Price: Plans start at Free and go up to $180 per month for Premium

    IMAGE: APPERY
  • 2. Mobile Roadie

    2-mobileroadie

    Mobile Roadie is an app creator that allows anyone to create and manage their own iOS or Android app. The platform supports all media types, with automatic importing of RSS, Twitter or Google News keywords, and an auto-refreshing fan wall through which users can chat with each other in real time.

    You can use the free Mobile Roadie Connect app to preview your app accurately, just as your users would on their devices. The app also guides you through the submission process, with Mobile Roadie checking the quality and appropriateness of your content.

    You can push content straight to your app and pull content from it to your own site or blog. The API is language agnostic, so you can pull data in a variety of formats, including XML, JSON, PHP, CSV and HTML. You can easily craft a custom look and feel for your app and apply that to all platforms, and use the suite of marketing tools once your app is launched.

    Price: Plans start at $125 per month (Core) and go up to $667 per month (Pro).

3. TheAppBuilder

3-appbuilder

TheAppBuilder provides a suite of apps to suit employees, clients, events and brochures, with two different approaches available. You can build the app using the online toolkit, and either the training provided or TheAppBuilder itself will work with you to define and build the structure of the app and populate it with initial content.

Using the dedicated AppLibrary, you can provide your users with a window into multiple apps and even customize it with your own branding. You can protect both public and private apps with usernames and passwords, and distribute them via the app store, making use of TheAppBuilder’s Active Directory integration to enable login with existing credentials and user groups.

Updating the structure and content of your apps is easy, even after you go live, because you can make unlimited updates and publish on multiple mobile platforms in one click. The platform supports native iPhone, iPad and Android, with updates going live within 60 seconds of submitting a change.

Price: Pricing available upon request

GEEK Christmas Gifts 2014

Happy GEEKmas 2014 

This year I will link to some really cool GEEK stuff on Amazon Smile as well as other places.

If you purchase your GEEKmas gift on Amazon Smile you can help ForCarol.com spread the word about safe driving and help us provide college scholarships for Tracy, CA scholars. Select ForCarol.com as your charity of choice!

Frozen Elsa Doll

For the GEEK who is smart enough to please the little ones in their lives, and hey, Frozen is big this year!  Brrrrr….once upon a time there was…..

Frozen

 

 The World of Ice & Fire

The UNTOLD history of Westeros.  I have read every book and am anxiously awaiting the next one to see what happens to those who still live!  VERY COOL….or HOT!

untold history of westeros

 Wearable Health Care Devices

This year I have seen huge interest in wearable health care devices.  The coming years will see more and more.  For now, visit this page and see what is available now.

wearable health care devices

 Engenear Engineer T-Shirt

I had an old IEEE (if you need to ask….) T-Shirt that said “I always wanted to be an Engineer, now I are one”.   This t-shirt is almost as cool.

engineeeer

R2-D2 USB Car Charger

Star Wars lives at ThinkGeek.com.

r2d2 charger

 

Technical specifications:

r2d2 technical specifications

 Harry Potter Deluminator

Dumbledore’s deluminator (or…..luminator?) is reborn in this neat LED flashlight at ThinkGeek.com

hp deluminator

Delicious T-Shirt

Geeks out there will understand…..

i ate t shirt

 

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 3D Color Printers

The time is almost here for you to be able to print almost anything you can imagine in 3D.  Already NASA is testing 3D printing on the Space Station and there are plans to 3D print supplies and parts on Mars (or where-ever Capt’s Kirk and Picard will take us).

cube 3d color printer yoda 3d printed

Take a peek at 3DPandoras Kickstarter page, and Solid Concepts web page where I learned A LOT about 3D printing (and grabbed the picture of Yoda).

Solar Powered Phone Charger

What Geek does not need something like this?  If only just to experiment with…..

solar phone charger

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More Geek stuff to follow……comment below with your favorite and put a link…Share the Geek!