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3 Reasons To Bring Your Mom to DWC

If you or a loved one is struggling to master technology, there are classes at the Digital Workshop Center that can help. Ask your doctor if DWC is right for you.

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10 Great Apps to Boost Your Productivity: Part II

A few weeks ago, we introduced 5 out of 10 of our favorite apps in Part I. And we promised we’d give you 5 more. In case you need a little extra productivity boost, here they are!   6. Stayfocused This is a handy little app for any of us who log onto our computers with the intention of working only to find ourselves scrolling through Facebook or Buzzfeed. Living in the era of incessant distraction makes it difficult to accomplish our tasks, whether that be creating reports, designing a logo for a client, or writing the first chapter of our novel. Well, here comes an application that can eliminate those nagging notifications and streamline your noble efforts. Stayfocused is an application that plugs into your Chrome browser or Android phone and will hide any non-productive content for a set amount of time. Its highly customizable settings allow you to block access to specific websites, search terms, or content such as videos and games for however long you like. It can also use timers to remind you to take healthy work breaks, or remind you when you’ve spent too long reading your RSS feeds. If you find yourself having a hard time staying focused, then Stayfocused is just the thing for you!   7. MindNode For the more out-of-the-box and visual thinkers among you, traditional lists and notes may not be the best representations of your brains. Enter MindNode, a planning and creating app that is based on the idea that thoughts are not linear, but spherical. Begin with one simple word or idea and quickly you’ll notice things branching off in multiple directions. This app will help you map and capture it all. MindNode has a clean and visual approach to brainstorming, putting your thoughts and images into single related streams, and is even smart enough to rearrange itself over time. These “mind maps” are formed and saved as image files which can easily be uploaded to cloud drives and Dropbox, shared on social media, and sent to friends and coworkers. MindNode is $9.99 for iPhone and iPad, and $19.99 for the Mac desktop Pro version. If you’re a writer, artist, or innovator, it’s a small price to pay to literally see your trains of thought! 8. Dragon Sick and tired of fumbling with your keyboard or trying to type on a tiny phone screen? Dragon dictation products are here to save the day! This technology uses advanced methods to translate your natural speaking voice into text, whether that is in email, word documents, or text messages. Dragon apps are available for iOS (Dragon Dictation, Dragon Go!), Blackberry (Dragon For E-mail), and Android (Dragon, Swype, Dragon Mobile Assistant), and all harness the same basic voice-to-text idea. These apps make it a breeze to communicate with your friends and family, write blog posts, and email like a tech wizard…and they’re free! Dragon also makes full-scale software programs for desktop computers (both Mac and PC) starting at $149.99. These integrate with your operating systems to bring you a seamless and keyboard-less online life. When you’ve cut your writing time in half with Dragon, you’ll never go back! 9. Pocket I know it’s tempting to click on that video or article that popped up on your social media or the personality quiz your friend emailed you- but those distractions seriously cut into your productive time. It’s hard to remember something that came up on your Facebook feed an hour ago, which is why most of us give into that instant gratification of reading or watching right away. But there’s a better...

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10 Great Apps to Boost Your Productivity: Part I

These days, there is such an abundance of technology that it’s nearly impossible to organize and accomplish tasks- seems counterintuitive, right? Between multiple email accounts, social media sites, and work-related applications, think about how much time you waste just wading through the constant stream of documents and browser tabs. Wouldn’t it be great to streamline your workflow? Employ a set of simple tools to make your days more efficient and user friendly? Well, luckily there are applications out there that can make this possible- you just have to know where to look. And even more luckily, I’ve done it for you! This is Part I of my top ten must-have apps for a clean, organized, and productive life. Look out for the last 5 apps in my next post!   1. Dropbox If you don’t already use this gem, it’s about time that you do. Dropbox allows you to access your files from any computer, anywhere in the world, even from your phone or tablet. You also have the ability to share some or all of your folders with friends, coworkers, and family, making it easy to send those pesky large documents to anyone with a Dropbox account. Got a batch of photos to send to Grandma? Don’t waste your time emailing them! Just upload the entire set to Dropbox, share it with Grandma, and it automatically appears on her computer! Accounts are free for up to 16GB (taking advantage of referral perks) and they offer “pro” and “business” accounts with much more storage starting at $9.99/mo and $15/mo per user, respectively. DropBox is compatible with both Windows and Mac, as well as iOS, Android, Blackberry, Linux, and the iPad.   2. Google Drive The workhorse of the Google app empire makes it a cinch to share documents, collaborate on projects, and access your files remotely. All you need is a Gmail account, and you can easily sync your folders to be opened from anywhere- laptop, phone, tablet, you name it. Plus, it’s great for teamwork, since each user can make changes to spreadsheets and presentations, and with Drive saving your work in real-time, you feel good knowing you aren’t going to accidentally erase this quarter’s budget report! What’s even better is that Drive has a built-in search engine, image and word recognition, and allows users to open any type of file (such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop documents). It’s free to use and is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android platforms.   3. Any.Do This app has garnered an armful of awards, and for good reason. Any.Do is a task and to-do list master, with a sleek interface and easy to use features like voice-to-text conversion, and location and time based reminders. This app syncs perfectly with your computer to shuttle shopping lists, chore lists, and agendas between your devices, so you never miss an important meeting or forget something at the store. Any.do helps you plan your day by prompting you to create to-do lists and reminding you of upcoming events. Any.Do is actually broken down into two separate apps, “Task and To-Do Lists” and “Cal”, but I wanted to lump them together since they really operate best in tandem. Any.Do Cal syncs with your existing calendar apps (Google, Mac, Facebook, etc…) and expands on them, allowing you to view date/time details, make dinner reservations, and alert friends to an important day- all from one screen!   4. Evernote The all-around work and household manager app, Evernote, has gathered a large and dedicated following for its comprehensive and concise platform. Available for desktop and smart phones,...

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Beginning Photographers: Simple DoF Calculator App

Apps for photographers are great tools to add to your kit as they are more and more functional these days. A few of our favorites include: Simple DoF Calculator: Great for calculating depth of field for your camera and lens! The Photographer’s Ephemeris: Get the lighting just right…This app is helpful for determining the time and angle of the sunrise for a given date and location Snapseed: Don’t forget the final touches with this easy to use photo editor For now, let’s take a closer look at the Simple DoF Calculator. The Simple DoF Calculator is very useful when calculating depth of field for your camera and lens. Depth of field refers to the distance between the nearest and farthest points that are in focus in a photograph. The points are more specifically known as the near focus limit and the far focus limit. To visualize this, take a look at the image above. The branch in the foreground is out of focus most of the way into the image. The point where it becomes clear is the near focus limit. The depth of field incorporates the foliage that is in focus. Behind the bright green leaves, the far focus limit is reached; at this point elements further back are out of focus again. This draws the eye in and helps the viewer see exactly what’s of interest! Would the same scene with everything in focus have a similar feel? It’s very insightful to know what capabilities your camera and lens will have for depth of field. This is where Simple DoF Calculator comes in handy. There are several apps similar to this one; however, the DoF Calculator is easy to use and demonstrates the key concepts well. Let’s give it a try! Using the Simple DoF Calculator App When you begin using the app, step one is to set your camera model.  At the top of the main screen you’ll see something like this: Tap the arrow icon on the far right in order to choose your camera from the list of available options. After selecting your camera, you are returned to the main screen. Three more steps and you’re on your way to determining your depth of field! 1. Choose the length of your lens by swiping the numbers to scroll up or down. 2. Select the f/stop that your lens supports and is ideal for capturing your image Note: Smaller f/stops like f/1.8 let more light into the camera and will yield a shorter depth of field. Larger f/stops like f/22 will let less light in and create a longer depth of field. To makes sense of this, imagine staring at one leaf on a branch with your eyes wide open compared to blinking your eyes to see the same scene. Your focus will change in each case, as it will in the photograph. 3. Set the focus distance to center the viewer’s attention. Put it to the Test We put our settings to the test by taking a photograph of an arrowhead amongst several rocks. For this image our input parameters to the Simple DoF Calculator were as follows: Camera: Nikon D7100 Lens: 35mm f/stop: 1.8 Focus distance: 8 inches The camera was then held 8 inches from the scene.  Can you see how the arrowhead is in focus while the rest of the rocks in the photograph are blurred? This implies the near focus limit is before the arrowhead and the far focus limit lies behind it. This draws the viewer’s eye to the arrowhead because of the crisp lines composing it compared to those...

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Smartphone Gadgets that Continue to Change the Game

Every few months, I like to research the latest smartphone trends and see what best fits my business and me. Recently, I came across a few interesting gadgets that I thought were fun and practical and wanted to share. If you’ve made the move to a smartphone but prefer the old-school feel of a traditional phone while working from your home or office, there’s a gadget for you. The POP DESK by Native Union allows you to transform your smartphone into a more traditional phone with a handset and a slick, modern stand. The $50 stand allows you to use all your mobile phone’s features while giving it the feel of your trusty desktop phone. Another useful smartphone gadget is also good for the environment. The Solio Bolt is a solar-powered phone charger perfect for those on the go, especially in remote areas. Imagine a scenario where you work in the field extensively and use your smartphone for various tasks, such as navigation, the calendar and listening to music. All these tasks drain your phone’s battery, and — unless you have an electric car — you’d have to run your car’s engine to get a power source to recharge the phone. The Bolt allows you to tap into Colorado’s abundant sunshine to keep your phone running for as long as you need it. The $70 Bolt comes with a help guide and a cable to connect to your phone or micro USB device. One more exciting smartphone gadget under development is the Occipital Structure Sensor. This gadget can connect to any smartphone and allows individuals to capture an object in its three-dimensional sense. It’s great for contractors or those who need to build maps, industrial design, or fields where it’s imperative that you understand an object’s dimensions. This will be a perfect tool for those who need to quickly assess the size of a room, such as in construction or real estate. After collecting the data with the OSS, the information can then be easily sent to a computer or co-worker for analysis. Every day there are more smartphone and tablet gadgets released onto the market. If you have any you would like to share, please leave your suggestions in the comments below! If you would like to try any of these handy gadgets but need help using your smartphone, check out our iPhone/iPad 101 class. We’d be happy to help you get started! [Originally published in the Coloradoan on...

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