Google made big news this week when they bought Waze, a crowdsourced navigation app (iOS and Android) that completely rocks.
When Apple and Google were fighting over the #1 spot for mobile map apps, Waze drove up and charmed us all. Like its mainstream competitors, Waze offers turn-by-turn navigation to get you where you want to go, but instead of relying on a database of maps and official traffic reports, Waze lets its members report real-time delays, speed traps, accidents and other road hazards.
If I had someplace to commute to, I’d use Waze every day. When you program in your home and work, the community of users will help you avoid traffic and trouble. Waze encourages chattiness and helpfulness with a point system, plus it connects with your social networks to let you and your friends keep tabs on one another. I like the feature that allows you to send anyone a trackable update on your ETA. Of course, if you’re at the cupcake store and don’t want anyone to know, you should turn this feature off.
Like GasBuddy, Waze helps you find the lowest prices on gas in your area, with data available from other members as well as Yelp, FourSquare and more. And the service also lets you collect coupons and specials from participating merchants during your travels.
If you’re looking for a Waze-type guide for public transportation, Moovit is an international resource for real-time updates from fellow passengers. In 2013 Moovit is available in select cities in about a dozen countries and growing.
Ooohhhh, I cannot believe how funny this is! Abbott and Costello buy a computer. Read the dialog below, and if you’ve ever heard their “Who’s on First?” routine, you’ll hear their voices in your head. Or just scroll down to watch the spoof video. (Original author: Tom King)
Costello calls and wants to buy a computer from Abbott…
ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: Hi. Yes, I’m setting up an office in my den, and I’m thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name’s Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don’t own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name’s Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with windows?
COSTELLO: I don’t know. What will I see when I look in the windows?
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What have you got?
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend office with windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office and it has windows! OK, lets just say, I’m sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue “W.”
COSTELLO: I’m going to click your blue “w” if you don’t start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?
ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One.
COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!
ABBOTT: Real One.
COSTELLO: If it’s a long movie I also want to see reel 2,3&4. Can I watch them?
ABBOTT: Of course.
COSTELLO: Great, with what?
ABBOTT: Real One.
COSTELLO: OK, I’m at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?
ABBOTT: You click the blue “1.”
COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?
ABBOTT: The blue “1.”
COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?
ABBOTT: The blue 1 is Real One and the blue W is Word.
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: But there’s three words in “office for windows”!
ABBOTT: No, just one. but its the most popular Word in the world.
COSTELLO: It is?
ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren’t many other Words left. It’s pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.
COSTELLO: And that Word is the real one?
ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn’t even part of Office.
COSTELLO: Stop! Don’t start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?
COSTELLO: That’s right. What do you have?
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What’s bundled to my computer?
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn’t it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
A 2012 survey found that more than half of us spend 10-20 minutes on hold every week, which adds up to 13 hours a year and 43 days in a lifetime. How irritating is that? You can save time and sanity by using a service that will sit on hold for you.
You can also visit the very helpful GetHuman site, which lists the phone numbers and secret pathways to a live operator. GetHuman also works with Lucyphone for the callback service, plus it connects you directly with live chat systems and offers the best email address for getting results.
TalkTo is an almost unnerving site. You can find any business — and I mean any business — even my old freelance writing biz was listed — and send a text or online question. Somehow, some way, TalkTo finds someone to answer your question. Then you can get the response via email, text or online. TalkTo operators act as conduits, and it’s a little strange because the TalkTo rep — not the company — will respond, but they do it in first person as if the company was talking directly to you. Still, it’s an amazing way to find out if your local bakery has red velvet cupcakes without picking up the phone.
How would YOU use a Fancy Hands assistant this week? Fancy Hands is one of my very favorite and most helpful small business resources. They offer freelance assistants to do small tasks for you for five bucks each or less.
I have the biggest package (25 tasks for $65/month), and I will share five tasks with you (they expire May 30).
Just leave a comment below on what you would do with a personal assistant, and you may win! I’ll pick my favorite tasks to give five people a hand next week. I even assigned a task to Fancy Hands to have an actual assistant chime in with real feedback about the task ideas.
Make sure you leave your email so I can reward you. All entries must be received by Friday at 2 p.m. Pacific!
You should watch this video to see what Fancy Hands can do!
WE HAVE WINNERS! Read below to see what Fancy Hands had to say about the best types of tasks for their service:
I would have them research the best storage system for digital photographs. I have almost completely filled my hard drive with hundreds of gigabytes of digital images. I need input as to the best resource for either online storage, or what kind of system I should set up for back up and storage. Being a Realtor and photographer, I have loads of photos I work with. This would solve a huge problem I have right now. Thanks!
Why? Because I know how it is to fill up storage with digital pics! Plus we have gurus here that can definitely help with that.
I’m planning a big trip in a few weeks through Minneapolis and Chicago and would love help tracking down the best places eat and explore!
I want to find out the best item to buy that would allow me to work on my laptop and my ipad outside during the summer months. The sun is too bright for me to be able to see what’s on the screen. There has to be some type of gadget I could use to take the glare off the screen. (Yes, I could go in the shade; but I really prefer to be basking in the sun!)
I completely agree! (To be perfectly honest, if we find that product, I’ll be snagging one up to!)
I have a business trip to Copenhagen coming up the first week in June. I’ve never been there and still haven’t researched the destination at all! Although I won’t have a lot of free time while I’m there, it would be a huge help if someone could research public transportation, a couple of reasonable places to eat, and just 1 or 2 not-to-miss things to do. Thanks!
Again, we are great with helping planning trips and this is right up our alley.
I love all the requests for house cleaning. I’d be a member of Fancy Hands myself if we offered house cleaning!
I’m so proud of Anne Lupkoski, the certification chair for the Central Canada Division of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. She asked for my recommendations to create an online booklet with testimonials. I advised that she use PowerPoint to create a PDF and upload it to Issuu, a site that turns your documents into online magazines. Voila! A masterpiece is born.
Bonus tool! Check out how Anne used a Tagxedo word cloud on page 51 to capture the spirit of the certification.
When you’re traveling in a foreign country, reading signs and printed material can be tough, even if you have a basic understanding of the language. That’s why I love the Word Lens app. You just launch the app on your iOS or Android device, look at the foreign text through the viewfinder, and presto! The words change into a language you can read right before your eyes.
It’s five bucks for every language pack — well worth it.
I’m infatuated with drag-and-drop online and app tools that help you create posters and more without having the software.
For an instant poster, try the Phoster app (iOS), which lets you add your own pictures and text to their templates for printable and shareable posters for events, ads and more. As of this writing, their templates were pretty rigid, but they can be great for a quick sign. You can also use Checkthis, a site and app that create “social posters” you can share online. I also like an app called Over, which lets you artfully arrange words over a picture for a modern poster look.
A hidden online template resource comes from printing sites, such as Brother Creative Center, Tweak, MyCreativeShop and the ubiquitous Vistaprint. All have a plethora of designs you can personalize online. Brother offers the service for free in hopes that you’ll use a Brother printer to print it. Tweak is free, but the PDF download has very robust and obtrusive watermarks, so the only thing you can do with it is print it through Tweak.
Like Tweak, Vistaprint lets you design for free and download a watermarked PDF (for which they charge you $1.99). I’d definitely go for Tweak over Vistaprint since the latter’s designs are incredibly generic and definitely not a step up for your professional look. MyCreativeShop also wants you to print with them, but they charge 20 bucks a month for their design software so you can download high-quality documents and use them how you wish. Both include access to a large library of stock photography, which helps you avoid the cost of buying images.
Are you one of those people who just has to keep your password written down? PasswordCard can take that scrap of paper to a whole other level of security with a super secret password system.
Both the site and the mobile apps (Android and iOS) generate a complex card with random password characters. To create a password, you simply choose a row then a column to start, and then count the number of characters you need.
Let’s say I needed a 10-character password for Facebook. I’d make up some kind of mnemonic phrase such as, “Facebook says it’s gonna rain March 3″ so I can remember to look in the umbrella column and the third row. Then I’d count 10 characters over, and there’s my password, accessible from the printed card or electronically via the app or website.
To get the true picture of PasswordCard, simply watch this short video.
Do you sometimes find yourself in need of a quick headline or word graphic with a little flair, but you don’t necessarily want to download a new font that you’ll only use once?
Don’t worry! It’s Jing to the rescue again. My favorite solution for this challenge is to visit Dafont.com, a repository of approximately a kabillion fonts. Then I enter the phrase I want to capture in a graphic, then use Jing to cut it out and save. Then I have a graphic I can use in a Word doc, on the web or anywhere else. This also solves the challenge of using an unusual font that would convert into something vanilla like Arial if you shared it in a document that others open.
Another hint… if you want more than a black-and-white graphic, go ahead and download the font, format the word the way you want, then do the screencapture from your own document. And if you want to do more with screencaptures, try Snagit, Jing’s awesome big brother.