Why You Should Use Flipboard As Soon As Possible

If you haven’t heard of Flipboard, get yourself a cup of coffee, sit down in a comfortable chair and keep reading. I’m about to make your life simpler. Thanks to Scott Biddulph over at Two Drops of Ink, I took his advice and checked out Flipboard. I have fallen in love with this app, and I know you will too.

Flipboard provides a free format for reading and collecting information. Think of this as a Pinterest for magazine articles. Instead of creating boards, you create magazines.

The app was originally created for mobile readers, but now there is a desktop version. In 2015 there were 34,000 topics and 21 million magazines; I can’t imagine what the statistics are now. If you can’t find something you like, you’re not trying hard enough.

Imagine a newspaper or magazine delivered to your door that was custom written for you. You no longer have to browse through every page looking for the articles that piques your interest. Now everything is interesting, and you don’t have to feel taken because you forked out $5 for a magazine stuffed with those annoying stuffers.

First step is to sign up for Flipboard. Then let the fun begin. You get to tell Flipboard what you want to read.

Up in the right hand corner, click on the button that says “What’s your passion?” Scroll through the list and find the main topics that interest you. Many of these will have subtopics. I love American history, so I clicked on the topic. Under it were over 25 subtopics providing an opportunity to narrow my passion.

If you’re interested in something that is not listed, go up to the magnifying glass and type it in to see what’s available. Choosing a passion signals Flipboard to automatically create a magazine.

When you start choosing your list of passions, resist the urge to go crazy. I’ve created thirteen so far and receive more than enough articles delivered to me. Think of the Smart Magazines as individual magazines divided up by genre. If you’re into cooking, you’ll get all the cooking magazines dumped into your smart magazine. You’re probably not going to read every article. I’m already thinking of deleting a few because of over information overload.

Besides topics, you can also search for specific people or publications you would like to follow. Make sure you choose the real deal, though. Some people might title a magazine the name of the publication or person you happen to be looking for.

You can stop here and let Flipboard do all the work going on your merry way reading and discarding. But I doubt you’ll be happy stopping here. There will be articles, videos, and pictures that you’ll want to save. Now you’ll need a magazine or two, or ten to organize your gems. I don’t know if there is a limit, but if there is, I doubt you’ll reach it.

I currently have eight magazines. Among the eight I created three magazines to coincide with my website: Simple, Smart, and Sassy. Here is where I put my blog posts. I can also collect other articles that have subject matter similar to mine and put them into these magazines. Besides these three magazines, I also created magazines on topics that I would collect and store.

Think of this as your own magazine rack. For example, when I find an article on writing, I’ll save it to my “Writing Well” magazine. This magazine also includes my articles from Two Drops of Ink. Flipboard allows for self-promotion, so take advantage of it.

I would recommend a magazine to collect articles that you may not have time to read right away. I call mine “Read Later.” Brilliant, I know.

There is also a profile section if you want to share some background information. Since I use Flipboard as another social media outlet for my website, I completed the profile to coincide with my writing website.

Remember, the magazines you create will only have the articles you put into them. The Smart Magazines have information that changes based on your interactions and interests. Flipboard users will only see the magazines you create.

You can also decide to make a magazine private or public. Click on the magazine and look in the lower right corner for the edit button. Click and you’ll come to this page.

Under settings you’ll have the option to set your privacy. I have a few magazines that don’t coincide with my website, so I keep these private. If one of my friends wants to see one of these private magazines, I can add her to the share list.

If you enjoyed an article, like it by clicking the heart. This tells Flipboard that you want to read more articles like that one. You can also comment if you so desire. These are strictly Flipboard comments which means only fellow Flipboard users will see them.

If you find that you’re receiving too much information, or the information you’re receiving you don’t like, delete the magazine. This is easy to do once you figure out how, so pay attention so you don’t waste as much time as I did.

Click on the magazine that you want to delete. You’ll see three dots after the title.


Click on the dots. You’ll see three options:

  1. Delete from home
  2. Personalize, or
  3. Delete. Clicking “delete” will remove the magazine completely.

As you become an active Flipboard user, you’ll see articles in your daily feed that come from sources you don’t like or trust. You can tell Flipboard to mute the source. I couldn’t find this option on the computer version, so do it on your phone. In the bottom right corner will be three dots. Click on the dots and find “mute” in the listing.

What happens if you find an article or blog that you want to flip but you’re not reading it in Flipboard? I have an answer, and it’s simple. Find the Flipboard extension and add it to your Google Chrome.

  1. Open a Chrome browser.
  2. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the tool bar.
  3. Scroll to More tools.
  4. Click on Extensions
  5. Click on Get more extensions.
  6. In the search window, type in +Flip it
  7. Click on the blue box where it says Add to Chrome.
  8. You’ll see the icon in your toolbar. Make sure that you enable the extension.

When you want to save your article to one of your magazines, click on the F icon. Choose which magazine to put it in, and you’re done.

I’ve covered the basics that will get you started on your information junkie journey. We are surrounded and inundated with information on a daily basis, and here is a simple tool to help you harness that information and only receive what you want to. Flipboard is your filter and your siphon for the information overload we encounter every day.

I encourage you to check out my magazines and if you see something you like, follow the magazine. Or, if you find me extraordinary or exceptionally interesting, feel free to follow all of me. I promise not to think you’re a stalker.

Let me know how you like Flipboard and how you plan to use it. If you have a question or problem, let me know. I’ll try to help.

Thumbs Up or Down for Google Home?

I received a Google Home for Christmas last year. It sits in the living room listening to our every word, watching the TV with us, quietly and patiently waiting for us to ask it a question. Half the time we get the standard, “I don’t know how to answer that,” answer. Then my husband will say snidely that you have to learn to ask it the right way.

For the last five months, we’ve asked Google maybe fifty questions. What year was this movie released? When did so and so die? Is so and so alive? We’ve also used the timer a dozen times and played a few ballet tunes so we could watch our granddaughter dance. I knew that we weren’t getting our money’s worth, so I decided to research and find out what this hot little cone can do.

First stop was the Google Home Help features page.

I looked at all the features to see if anything would make my life simpler, or at least more fun with as little hassle as possible. Listed on the page were about 40 features broken up in various categories. A few sounded fun, searching for a You Tube video and playing it on your TV and controlling your lights and thermostat, but I knew those were way way too involved with what I wanted to do.

You could check flight schedules. Big deal.  I don’t fly. You could check traffic. Big deal. I don’t commute. You could find recipes. No thanks. My husband does the cooking, so none of these features appealed to me.

This little device is capable of incredible things, but the power comes with the add-ons. In order to play the You Tube videos and sync your Netflix with Google Home, you need Chromecast, a streaming device you plug into your TV after purchasing for $35.

Although Chromecast sounded like a fun toy to use by itself, I wasn’t going to purchase it to use with my Google Home. I didn’t need to make my TV work by voice activation. Half the fun of sitting down to watch television is surfing the channels to see what’s on and what you’re missing.

On to another feature. IFTTT, which stands for “If this then that.” There are hundreds listed, but you need to look through them to find the ones that work with Google Assistant.

Google Assistant is the app you’ll need on your phone that syncs with Google Home.

You have to sign up for IFTTT account to get started. Once you’ve signed up, search under Google Assistant so you’ll be looking at applets that you can use with the Google Home. I scrolled through the possibilities and found three that I could see myself using, creating a note in Evernote (include links), texting, and find your phone.

I tried configuring all three apps and had luck with only one, find your phone. This is a handy app when you’re searching for your phone. We’ve all misplaced our phone and how often have we asked someone to call our phone so we can find it. Now you don’t have to rely on another person. Google Home will do it for you. Just ask Google to find your phone. Simple to set up and simple to use. My kind of app.

The texting feature is now available on Google Home but alas doesn’t work for me. All I get is “I can’t text at this time.” Again, the point is to not waste a lot of time trying to get these applets to work. It defeats the purpose of leading the simple life we’re striving for. The other drawback to this applet is that it is person specific because you have to configure the applet to a specific phone number. If you have one person you text a lot and feel that Google Home would come in handy, then by all means play around and see if you can get the applet to work.

Finally, I decided to try the Evernote applet one more time. While searching for answers about why this wouldn’t work, a little window popped up to chat with a Google rep. I had a few minutes, so I decided to ask if the problem was that my Evernote account used a different email.  Being first in the queue it only took a few minutes for the rep to contact me.

Try using the Google chat.

She answered that the email was not the issue and that she would like to help me solve my problem. Ninety minutes later she did it. I was impressed that she stuck it out that long. I was ready to give up, but decided to see it through. At least I would have an answer and more information to report back to you.

Instead of using one of the available applets, she led me through the process of creating my own applet. Once we figured out what we were doing wrong, the process was easy. Maybe there’s a problem with using the available applet. I’m going to try creating my own applet for texting my husband to see if this works. If not, I’m done.

I’m so glad that I spent time with the Google rep because she showed me possibilities. If you find yourself repeating a task that Google Home could do, create your own applet. You are only limited by your imagination. And it’s free.

Smart Apps is another feature used with Google Home. These are what you’ll need to adjust thermostat and lights for example. You’ll also need the lights and thermostat that work with this feature, plus money and more time. This one is not for me.

The music lover should check out Google Play.

If you are a music lover, then I would recommend setting up your music in Google Play and learning how to use it on your Home. Under Google Play you can create music stations and then “cast” whatever station you want to listen to.

Home will not play any music that you transferred from CD to you Google music library. You’ll have to play those on a CD player. You can also ask Home to play the specific music station you created as long as you give it the correct name, or just ask for a specific genre and it will choose for you.

This casting feature will also work with anything you’re listening to on your phone, for example, a podcast. Go to you Google Home app and under settings, select cast. I’m listening to history lectures from a Hillsdale College course and found that I can cast these to my Google Home device.

Now that I know about all these features, I’ll be on the look out for ways that Google Home can make my life simpler. I know that I’ve only expanded my Google Home use a little, but it’s a start. I began with the basics, asking a few questions and setting a timer for my cat to enjoy the winter weather. Now I can listen to my music stations, put a note in Evernote and cast my history lectures.

I’m closer to giving Google Home a thumbs up. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what you use your Google Home for and how it makes your life simpler.

Before You Use the “N” Word, Read This

On May 5th the United States and Great Britain celebrated V-E Day, Victory in Europe Day. On this day in 1945 the Allied forces defeated the Nazis in Western Europe.

Adolph Hitler and his Nazi war machine represented the most heinous type of evil that I can think of. How did this man acquire the power to commit these demonic acts and almost get away with it? If we look at history we see how Hitler manipulated Germany’s predicament after WWI to distribute his propaganda and work his way into the Chancellor position.

In 1919 the German Worker’s Party was founded. Hitler became a member in that year and because of his magnetism and oratory skills rose to lead the party. He soon renamed the party the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi).

The party organized for a number of reasons. They opposed the concessions that Germany made in the Treaty of Versailles after WWI, they called for the expansion of German territory and they established their anti-Semitic rhetoric.

The Treaty forced Germany to pay reparations for the destruction of WWI. This put Germany into a depression, and by 1923 Hitler thought the time was right to stage a coup on the Bavarian state government. The Beer Hall Putsch was unsuccessful and Hitler was sent to prison, but it brought attention to his cause.

When in prison he wrote his famous treatise, Mein Kampf, meaning “My Struggle.” This book became the bible of the Nazi party. Hitler outlined his belief in a superior Aryan race.

Hitler didn’t just target Jews.

Hitler’s primary target in creating a pure German race was to discriminate against the Jews. He blamed the Jews for losing WWI, and he saw them as capitalists controlling the German economy or communists seeking to enslave Germans. His discrimination crossed over to intellectuals, artists, gypsies, mentally and physically handicapped and homosexuals.

After getting out of prison Hitler decided to re-build the party legally by winning elections. By 1929, the party’s membership had grown to 180,000 using gauleiters (“district leaders”) to contest local, state and federal elections.

Hitler’s Nazi Party used the Great Depression to its advantage, exploiting the joblessness of the German people. With increased membership comes increased voting strength. In 1933, Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolph Hitler chancellor.

A dictator was born.

Elections continued to be further “influenced” by Nazi-Party tactics and in March, 1933 the Enabling Act was passed, allowing Hitler to issue decrees independent of the Reichstag and the presidency. A dictator was born, and before long the only party allowed to exist was the Nazis.

In 1935, Hitler enacted the Nuremberg laws, stripping Jews of their citizenship. Germans could no longer work for Jews, Jewish doctors could not treat Germans, and marriage between Germans and Jews was forbidden. “Jews Not Welcome” signs were put up making it difficult for Jews to buy food and medicine.

Once Hitler invaded Poland, his anti-Jewish policies escalated. Troops shot thousands of Polish Jews, confined them to ghettos and forced many into slave labor. Finally, the last phase was to exterminate the Jews by hauling them off to death camps. Over 6 million Jews had died by the time WWII was over.

The characteristics of Fascism.

Today, we hear the term Nazi being thrown around whenever some group doesn’t like what the other group is doing or saying. I hear it from both the Left and Right. I have a problem with this. Nothing that is happening today compares with what happened 70 years ago.

There is a popular grammar website called “Grammar Nazi” that I will not visit because of the name, and they use the swastika. Why would you want to associate your brand with such an evil and heinous time of history?

Before you decide to flippantly use this term, I would caution you to think again.

Remember what the Nazi Party represented and what it accomplished. Is what you’re comparing to the Nazis really that bad? I highly doubt it.

References:

  1. Nazi Party. Encyclopaedia Britannica. http://www.britannica.com/topic/Nazi-Party
  2. Nazi Party. History Channel. http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/nazi-party
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