EASILY DONE

 

easily-doWe’re using a new email application that keeps you organized through the holidays and beyond. It’s called “Email by Easily Do,” and it’s free for iPhones and iPads from easilydomail.com. As you would expect, an Android version is in the works.

Here’s what we like: It automatically tidies your email, giving you a new inbox with multiple categories. Travel plans, such as airline notifications about your flight, automatically land in one spot. Bills and receipts are in another. Events and entertainment have their own slot. So do subscriptions. We instantly saw all our Amazon receipts going back five months. And it tells you when to expect any packages you ordered and provides their tracking numbers.

As many people do these days, we’ve put ourselves on too many lists. For example, Easily Do unsubscribed us from 75 newsletters in a minute, as we tripped down a list tapping the “unsubscribe” button. There were lots of publications and shopping alerts we had no idea we were signed up for. Some companies must sign you up for these things because you went to their web site and they captured your email address.

Search is lightning fast, which is handy if you misplaced an email. Example: Tap the “trash” category and confine your search to that. Or tap “attachments,” and search there.

To tackle an avalanche of mail, do what all the pros do, including us, (or at least one of us). Create a new email account at one of the many free services, such as AOL, Yahoo, or Gmail. Give that email address to any merchant who asks for it, and you will confine their messages to that address; also give it to people you really don’t want to hear from. Joy has a separate AOL account for this purpose, but it used to be a hassle to have to sign out of Gmail and go to AOL.com to view it; with Easily Do, we see AOL mail when we tap on its tab, but can ignore it otherwise.

Goodbye Cable TV

tv-watchingYet another reader is getting ready to drop her cable TV subscription but wonders about getting sports. We discovered the best: It’s called “Playstation Vue,” and you don’t need a Playstation game machine to use it.

You can use the service with a Roku stick, which is now $30, or the much-more expensive Apple TV, or a Playstation 3 or 4. We’ve just been trying it out on our old Roku stick, and it’s a marvel.

Playstation Vue (or “PS Vue”) is $40 a month, but we think it’s worth it if you no longer use cable TV. Unlike using a plain antenna to catch local channels, it can record shows for later playback.  (The shows are saved on the Internet for 28 days.) The basic service comes with dozens of the most popular channels, including some semi-obscure ones like “Chiller” and “Oxygen.” It’s much easier to find a show with PS Vue than on cable TV. With cable TV and its hundreds of channels, Joy usually gives up and hands the remote to Bob.

“Sling” TV is another way to get sports on TV without a cable subscription and it’s only $20 a month. But we’ve found it to be a frustrating, 1990s-ish experience, full of stutters and stops. Furthermore, it doesn’t record shows. You can only watch live TV. For a comparison between Sling and Playstation Vue, go to GroundedReason.com and click “how to cut cable” in the upper right. There are links to many helpful articles.

With either service, you don’t have to buy a TV antenna. As long as your TV has an Internet connection, you’re fine.  Or, you can buy an adapter, such as the “HDMI to Composite AV Converter for Amazon Fire Streaming Stick.” (How’s that for being specific?) It’s $40 at Amazon. The Amazon Fire Stick, sold separately, comes with its own remote and gives you a variety of Internet channels, similar to the Roku.

Internuts

  • FreeDocumentaries.org has hundreds of documentaries, all free. In the “fact-checked films” category, there’s a” video about farm-raised fish, another about weather, one about the pagan roots of Christmas, and many more. “The 11th Hour,” about the environment, was created and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. Lots of thought-provoking stuff here.
  • flash-mobWant to spend an entertaining time on the web? Search on “flash mob” at YouTube.com to see an amazing variety of music and dance as surprise performances in public places. One called “Christmas Food Court Flash Mob,” has over 48 million views. Once you start one going, they’ll continue in succession. From Irish airports to Hong Kong, they’re dancing and singing.
  • 18 Secrets to Make Your Food Healthier Without Even Trying.” Search on that phrase to turn up a Reader’s Digest article with great tips. Who knew that poking holes in a broccoli bag will give you 125 percent more antioxidants than a tightly sealed bag? You get more lycopene when you thoroughly chew your grapefruit. And try baking with avocados for oil instead of butter.

 Numbers Report

The fastest-growing categories for online jobs, according to Freelancer.com, are photography, German fluency, and video editing. Those are all up between 19 and 22 percent this quarter. After that comes virtual assistant jobs, “branding,” blog installation, fashion design, photo editing, Amazon web services and Google Adwords. Ja, das ist gut.

To look for work on Freelancer.com, sign up for a free account and then tap the “Work” category at the top of the page. You can browse by category, or look only at jobs that meet your skills. After clicking “projects,” we noticed that this is really a buyer’s market. Employers sometimes pay as little as $20 for a job. However, we saw some photography jobs for $700. Still, it’s almost all home work.

 Books

scratch-programmingScratch Programming Playground,” $25 from NoStarch.com, and “Coding in Scratch: Projects,” $6, are two books for kids who want to learn how to be programmers.

Instead of esoteric lines of code, kids using Scratch drag colorful blocks into place. A block might ask a tiger to turn around. Another might make him walk three steps. As they get more complex, a child creates games and stories. In “Scratch Programming Playground,” kids make games like Fruit Slicer, Asteroids, Snake, and a kind of Super Mario Brothers.

Kids can play around in Scratch without these books, but they’re helpful. To program in Scratch online for free, go to scratch.mit.edu. To work offline, go to scratch.mit.edu/scratch2download.

 

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