MOVING UP IN THE WORLD

We’re moving to the highest floor in our apartment building. There’s less storage space but a great view. Do we want to take 300 CDs with us? No way!

 We’ll use MusicShifter.com to digitize them. We hardly ever play CDs anymore anyway, because we’re too lazy to look through them. It’s easier to say, “Alexa, play Benny Goodman.” But that’s a shame because we’ve got lots of CDs worth playing. When was the last time we played the soundtrack for the movie “The Imposters” for example? Far too long ago. Digitizing solves that problem.

 MusicShifter.com will digitize all your CDs onto a thumb drive for 69 cents a CD. When you get your drive back, full of music, there are many options. You could plug it into your computer and play music there. Or you could use the free Google Play Music Manager. We’ve used it before to upload our music to the Internet, which makes the music playable from any of our gadgets, including our phone. The limit is 50,000 songs. If we click on a music file in the manager, then click the “cast” button, it casts the music to our Google Home speaker in the living room or to our TV. Amazon Prime Music is similar and also lets you cast music to another device.

 One nice thing about MusicShifter is their free trial. Send 10 CDs to them and they’ll digitize them for free. They even pay for postage, sending you a free shipping kit with a pre-paid shipping label along with packing materials. Alternatively, you can digitize your own music, just by starting up Windows Media Player, popping a CD into the CD drive of your computer and letting it rip. But this is time consuming if you have a big collection. At eight minutes per CD, it would take us about 40 hours to do the whole shebang.

Music in the Car

 A self-described “old coot” (we like old coots) asked for our help with “Garmin Speak,” a rival to Amazon’s “Echo Auto.” Both devices plug into your car’s power outlet to let you talk to Alexa to play music, get answers to questions and find your way around. But the reader just wants to play music offline through the car stereo on his older-model car.

 We suggested using the $17 “Nulaxy Car FM Transmitter.” You can either put hundreds of songs on a memory stick and insert it into the transmitter, or use a Bluetooth connection to connect to the songs on your phone. We tried it and it worked fine. First we plugged the Nulaxy into the cigarette lighter. (The last time we called it that a reader said: “Do you guys have a 1950s auto?”). Then we turned the dial on the Nulaxy to the same unused radio station that the car radio was tuned to. Voila! It worked for anything we’d downloaded first: Amazon Prime Music, (which has free downloads for Prime members), the Economist Magazine, audio books and podcasts. Using the free app Spotify, we played our favorite classical playlist offline.

Grab the Headlines

 Start.me is a quick way to see a lot of headlines. It’s a website that lets you create your own page full of links to websites like Marketwatch, NPR, CNN, and Fox.

 They call it a bookmark manager and it’s free forever. There’s nothing to install, and no experience is necessary. We started by clicking “start” and then “create new page” to add what they call widgets from categories like entertainment, technology, lifestyle, and sports. A widget gives you a list of headlines from the sites you choose. If you hover over a headline, you get the first paragraph. The widget refills itself with new headlines every day. If you want them to refill sooner than that, it’s $20 a year.

 We chose a quote-of-the day widget to get quotes from nine different people every day. We can hover over a name to get a quote, or click it to get a dozen more from the same person, like this one from Woody Allen: “Organized crime in America takes in over $40 billion a year and spends very little on office supplies.” The quotes change every day without our doing a thing.

 We also added the NPR (National Public Radio) Technology widget. This makes it easy to see the latest tech news. If those nine headlines don’t satisfy us, we can get a new nine. In short, this is a fun way to start your web browsing. Click the “share” button to email your page to a friend.

 Best Fitness Wearable

 Joy’s sister’s Garmin fitness tracker popped out of its band and was run over by a car. It was a hit and run. She asked Joy what she should buy to replace it. Joy suggested replacing it with the same one, Garmin’s $50 VivoFit 3, with one addition.

 The VivoFit 3 band has a very poor clasp and the tracker pops out all the time. But you can get a band with a buckle from Amazon, such as the ones from Mosstek (three for $11). Even though the VivoFit 3 is not a new product, we like it because it’s simpler.

 You can swim with, though it doesn’t distinguish between laps and walks. It gives your a red line when you’ve been sitting longer than an hour, prompting her to move around for two minutes. Its battery only needs changing every couple of years if you don’t bother syncing it to your phone. With some other trackers, you can end up recharging them every few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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