Top 8 Smart Apps for the Task Mistress

Photo courtesy of http://womenonthefence.com

I’m the tech-geek in the family. My 3-year old daughter is a close second.

Therefore, it didn’t surprise anyone when I upped and bought the new iPad, replacing my first generation tablet. I’ve come to love apps. There’s an app for everything – and people don’t just say that, it’s true! With home, work, school and life, I’ve come to depend on quite a few apps. ‘Top 8 iPhone apps for busy women‘ in Forbes.com identified some interesting apps but I’m not just busy. I’m a task mistress so here are my top 8 smart apps:

1. CloudWord
This app is fantastic as it helps me create editable documents, with formatting. It saves it in the ‘cloud’ such that I can pick it up anywhere and it doesn’t take up space on my pad. Also, I can email the document as a jpg, PDF, png and so on. It really keeps me working on my dissertation on the fly. Plus, it’s free – as are most of these.

2. iThoughtsHD
I discovered this app a few months ago when I was looking for something for mind mapping. It’s expensive but I use it a lot to join my ideas together in order to arrive at something coherent. I’m not sure where I’d be mentally without this beloved app.

3. DocScan
At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I came across this free app. It actually scans documents such as receipts, business cards etc and saves them. Scans can be sent as emails. It’s great for scanned business cards (in case I lose them), the kids’ party invites (again in case I lose them) and so on. I’m basically a walking talking scanner!

4. WordPress
This post is written with my WordPress app. It is a must-have for me if I’m going to inject life into my blog at any sensible frequency. I can upload photos, and files – editing on the fly. If I had to wait till I was in front of a PC and steaming with ideas at the same to write a post, posts would be bi-annual.

5. SudokuBook
One of my hobbies is numbers so Sudoku is right up my alley. I own volumes of sudoku workbooks but this app is a good option. Actually, it’s a great time waster. Waiting is not my strong point so it helps me focus my brain on something else while I wait for the next challenge. It’s great in queues, public transport, banks and school pick-ups. Not that I’m anti-social or anything…

6. Evernote
I recently downloaded this free app. I feel as if I’ve been thrown into an endless garden. A creative junkie’s amusement park, in short. I’m still discovering the many abilities of Evernote. It’s been talked about a lot and even featured in the article I’ve mentioned on Forbes.com. I can pour my ideas down with words, photos, audio, amazing. And I can send my thoughts to any computer or device! I can finally trap these thoughts in one place….forEvernote.

7. Audio Memo
It’s no wonder I’m into audio, thanks to Evernote. I also need to interview folks for my dissertation so I’m loving this app. Before I discovered it, I was on eBay hunting for a tape recorder! (I thought you said you were techy???) This app helps me capture an interview with a lot of cool features such as marking the beginning of each question. This app has a free version that has a reasonable amount of capability but the cool feature that I mentioned comes at a cost. Still, it beats the tape recorder idea.

8. Angry Birds
I haven’t come across statistics about whether men play this game more than women (if it’s not out there, I’m sure it will soon be). But I play this a lot. In fact, my son, my daughter and I play this, and we basically get in an orderly (rarely) line and take turns. Another time waster but great fun! It’s not as subtle as Sudoku so I tend not to play it in the parking lot or on queues (I can’t make it look like I’m texting like I can with Sudoku).

So there you have it. 8 apps any woman who calls herself a task mistress should have.

Thanks for reading.

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Examining the “fire brigade” approach

Some of you may have heard of this but for those who haven’t, let me enlighten you.

You know that colleague who rushes to you the instant you step foot in the office, when you haven’t even dropped your bag? Yes, the one that asks you for a document in a mad panic. EVERYTHING seems to be an emergency with this person. Well, that’s the fire brigade approach. And it can be lethally annoying!

Photo courtesy of http://isntlifeterrible.com

The first thing I’m thinking is: Take a deep breath. Ask yourselves some keys questions like, ‘Is it life-threatening?’ Usually, it isn’t but it doesn’t stop the fire brigade.

Recently, I bought a phone from eBay. The moment I became the highest bidder, he sent me an email asking whether I was “real” and that he had had some bad experiences so he was just checking. I was fine with this, I understood perfectly so I replied saying I was real. Then as soon as I won the auction (literally 10 minutes later), the seller emailed me again to say that if I paid that day, he would post it the next morning with special delivery. ‘Great,’ I thought as I sat in the cinema watching ‘I don’t know how she does it.’ As I left the cinema 2 hours later, I noticed another email! This time, the seller said since I didn’t pay that he could no longer send it the next day and I’d have to wait till the day after.

This person was giving me a headache. It was standard fire brigade behaviour. The problem with this approach is that I react strangely to it. I generally slow down (the opposite of what they want me to do) and start watching the person intently, looking for signs of mental illness or anti-social tendencies. I admit that I usually just see a person that is impatient and in a hurry. I have not found evidence that links this to mental illness – yet.

Since I could not watch this seller intently, and I really wanted the phone sooner rather than later, I went on PayPal and paid. Then I sent an email to say I had and casually asked what the mad rush was about, AND to please still send the phone as I couldn’t see why not – after all, it was still today!

Can you sense how exhausting this approach can be for all parties involved? There are times when this approach works – like when there’s imminent danger. But I really wish everyone would calm down. I have used this approach in the past, you’d be surprised to know but I always got a bad vibe from the recipient. And as you know, I’m very perceptive so I deliberately watched out for when the behaviour was coming and I stopped it. So if you are a fire brigade junkie, try these top 5 tips:

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Consider if there’s any real cause for alarm e.g. is it murder or is it life threatening or will lives be lost?
  3. Does your victim look like they are in the mood to be hassled?
  4. Is your victim holding a weapon? If so, back off.
  5. Could you perhaps come back later when they have had their morning coffee and done emails?

Do you know any fire brigade junkies or are you one yourself? Come on, everyone knows at least one person that behaves like this. I’ll try not to judge :-).

How do I cover my butt in this dress?

I bought a Charas one-shoulder dress a few weeks ago. From the picture on the website, I couldn’t tell how short it was – honestly, it looked like normal length with the model riding it up. See the picture below. 

My brother-in-law is getting married in Chicago next month and this looked like the perfect dress. It was a nice bright colour (I can get away with brights) and it was rather edgy too. But alas, the dress came in the post and I was dumb enough not to try it on for the next one and a half weeks. Well, finally I try it on and guess what? It turns out the model isn’t riding it up herself to keep things steamy. The dress is really short on one side! Goodness, she’s probably hiding her butt from the camera with that right hand. So here I am with a dress that is a little more edgy than I wanted. I left it too long to try on and missed the standard return/refund timeframe. I’ve bought a more modest dress now and tried to get rid of this one through my office sales bulletin board but they aren’t any takers. My penultimate option is you.

How can I carry off this dress in the event that I can’t get rid of it? Can I wear a pair of tights with it? Leggings? Jeans? Perhaps I can take it to a tailor to attach some material to the exposed “regions”. What do you think? Is it a lost cause? I say, ‘penultimate option’ because the option of eBay still remains. I do love this dress – but I don’t think I’ll get away with my butt hanging loose when I bend over to pick up my 2-year old for instance.

Can someone suggest how I can keep my butt covered in this?

Photo credits to: http://charasdesignerwear.co.uk

Another Apple a day is just too many

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There’s a whole bunch of them now, isn’t there? There’s the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iMac and I guarantee there’ll be more where that came from. I started out with the iPod (I LOVE music but more on that in another post) and now I’m sucked in. I have the lot (except the iMac) but I have finally come to my senses. I need to get rid of one of them and I have nominated my iPhone (sniff, sniff). Don’t get me wrong. I do like the iPhone but I prefer blackberries. I like the iPhone because:

  1. It’s amazing to look at; eye candy.
  2. I love the way I can scroll through documents in Word or PDF and it’s like reading it on a desktop
  3. There are thousands of fancy phone cases for it
  4. The very cool apps can be irresistible
  5. Sometimes, the iPhone google map is more accurate than my Sat Nav

I’m sure there’s more awesome things about the iPhone that my tech-savvy friends may care to point out. But the iPhone also really annoys me because:

  1. It’s a phone for goodness sake. So why do I have to sync it with iTunes?
  2. The apps store is gonna lead me to bankruptcy if I continue to keep 3 or more app-hungry devices around the house
  3. I have to PAY for an app to chat with my blackberry friends (and my husband uses a BB)
  4. If I wait for the charge to go completely, it can take hours for the phone to resurrect (while on charge). It actually DIES and then has to be resuscitated. Or is my iPhone just faulty?
  5. And the most infuriating thing? It’s awkward enough that I have to touch the screen so much but when I write a text or email, I touch and touch but I can’t get the cursor in the right place! I have had to delete whole sentences just to correct a typo…. Blamey! This is a real irritation because I’m a big texter. I’m told that if I leave my finger on the spot long enough, I can edit the word. I say, ‘Bring back the BACK button!’

So that’s it. I’m leaning towards a blackberry. At least, I can text like mad and hopefully curb the apps store habit before I go bankrupt. I still have to ‘feed’ my iPod and iPad so I guess I’ll let you know how it goes.

Three cities, one country: The people & places series (3)

The Dixie Cups at the New Orleans Jazz & Herit...

The Dixie Cups at the Jazz Festival (2006) in New Orleans, Image via Wikipedia

We try to go to Disneyland, Florida every other year. The first year we went, my son was a year old so the trip was really for his dad. Every other trip since then has become better and better for father and son. I’m not a thrillseeker and I absolutely HATE rollcoasters. Call me a control freak but I just can’t cope with that speed and no hand breaks. I’m sweating just thinking about it. My head kept telling me, ‘Jump! Save yourself!’ And I have to untell it and say, ‘No! Stay! Save yourself!’ Oh dear.

Last year though, we took a chance and went to three cities in the US. It was a big risk because with two young children, I expected to have a headache, a backache and a cracked voice by the end of it all. But I really enjoyed it! We went to Florida, New York and New Orleans. Each city was special and gave me a real insight into people, life and the art of holidaymaking. Finally we had gone on a holiday that was a winner for father, mother and the kids. I describe each city in a few lines.

New Orleans

The most delicious food in the world! Incredibly tasting. We attended the Jazz fest as well- it was like music to my ears. The strangest thing I’ve ever seen is here too- Graves above the ground and ghost-like trees hanging over them. I’m told that the ground is so water-logged, dead bodies will float away with the sea if buried in the ground. Eek!

New York

I loved the style and energy in this city (a little too expensive for me though). The history of hardwork and film was rich. And taking a tour through Broadway? Priceless. Seeing the excitement and smiles on my husband’s face was enough to make it one of the best trips ever.

Florida

Even though I’m not into rollcoasters, I did enjoy the 3D shows and watching my kids laugh and play. But most of all, I LOVE to shop in Florida. Fantastic shopping exists at Florida Mall and Prime outlet. So. it’s credit card heaven. After hiding my money in New York, I happily used it up in Florida. No regrets…..until I got home to the UK and found the exchange rates had skyrocketed (sweat sweat)!!

This marks the end of my People & Places series, which was a joy to write. Thanks for reading!

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