Control Your Computer Using RemoteMouse

How do you control your computer when you are on the other side of the classroom? Do you depend on a clicker to advance slides or to point to an item displayed on the projector? There’s a better, easier option called RemoteMouse that allows you to control your computer using an app on your phone.




You can use RemoteMouse on your Mac or PC, and the app is available for iPhone and Android. Cost: FREE! You can download the app to your phone and to your computer here:


Check out this video I found on YouTube that shows it in action.

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Backup Your Phone Photos Automatically Using Google Photos

Recently I wrote a post about backing up your cell phone photos using Dropbox Carousel. I am a lover of all things Dropbox and was very happy with this solution…until I received the dreaded news that Dropbox Carousel is shutting down in March 2016. I cried many proverbial tears over my phone then realized that the backup ability isn’t going away, just the dedicated app. You can still automatically backup your photos using the Dropbox app!

Before I realized that backup ability was still available with Dropbox, I had already set out on a hunt for an alternative and found Google Photos. After spending some time playing with Google Photos, I believe it’s a better option than Dropbox for automatic photo backup, so I have made the switch!

Google Photos logo

Here’s what you need to know…

Download the Google Photos app to your phone. It’s available on Android devices and on iPhone/iPad. Let the app run to backup all of your photos! That’s it! Easy, right?

I love the features in Google Photos! Some of them are intuitive and expected, and others are little extras that just make me happy!

For example, open the app and your newest cell phone photos automatically start downloading. There’s a button to tap in Settings that will delete all of your phone photos after you have backed them up. I love this feature for those times when I am nearing the cap on my phone storage!

Also, all photos are automatically organized and searchable. Their website says: “See all your photos organized by people, places, and things. Search by what you remember about a photo, no description needed.” I don’t have to tag or arrange my photos anymore? Yes, thankyouverymuch!

Google Photos automatically organized and searchable  Google Photos easily edit


I played with this feature a little bit, and it worked just as I imagined it would. I labeled my daughter’s name in one picture of her, and suddenly, all of the pictures with her face in them were labeled with her name too!

The app has an Assistant who shares fun creations with you based on your photo uploads. One day I opened the app and found, the assistant had made me a collage of my daughter. It was ready to upload to Facebook and Instagram. I didn’t have to create a thing! The next day, the app compiled several pictures I had taken of my daughter in a row to make a little animation. Once again, there was no action on my part. I just took the pictures and let them upload into Google Photos!

A few more things to note: If you choose regular quality of images, your space is unlimited! There’s even an app for your desktop/laptop that you can install and upload all of your old pictures that you are already storing elsewhere!

Tell me what you love about Google Photos if you are already an experienced user! I’m still just learning so I’m sure there are more little nuggets of gold that I haven’t even found yet!

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Secure Internet Access While on Vacation or at the Coffee Shop

I recently went out of the country for a vacation. I am teaching an online class that was ongoing during the trip, so I needed secure Internet access in the airport and in our hotel.PIA

After researching several companies with the help of Lifehacker, I decided on Private Internet Access and was very happy with their service. The service costs $6.95 per month (or $39.95 per year) with no contract. There’s an app that you can install on your phone or computer to make the setup process easy. You can use it on up to 5 devices simultaneously. So my husband and I both used it on our phones and on my laptop…with a couple more still available.

The service stayed connected, and I had confidence that no one was snooping on me while I worked away from home.

If you have a vacation planned or if you often work away from your home network and on an open wifi connection, I recommend using VPN access!

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Get to know your neighbors using the Nextdoor app


I live in a little neighborhood that’s a part of a big city. I want to get to know more of my neighbors, but with busy schedules, it’s often difficult. I found an app a few months ago that I love! I’m learning more of my neighbors’ names and have found some great information about my neighborhood along the way.

Enter the Nextdoor app. Nextdoor is a private social network for you and your neighbors. Join the site and enter your address. You decide how much information you want your neighbors to know about you. Setup your profile so that it will tell you when people post in your area. Here’s a sampling of topics that people discuss in my neighborhood:

  • Share neighborhood activities and events
  • Report crime
  • Locate a handyman or other specialized service nearby
  • Request help finding a lost pet
  • Sell items
  • Ask questions of your neighbors (like where to buy a fishing license or who sells Pampered Chef)

The site has a host of options to customize your experience. Turn on/off notifications to your phone. Receive emails instantly/daily. Mute discussions that don’t interest you. Invite neighbors by sending postcards or print your own invitations and distribute them yourself.

Take some time this week to get to know more of your neighbors. Say hi, invite them to dinner, and invite them to join Nextdoor too!

Access Nextdoor via a web interface, an iOS app, and an Android app.



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How to Scan Anything From Your Phone Using the Scannable App

Evernote recently released an app called Scannable so that you can quickly scan items and upload them or share them in seconds! It’s really just as easy as it sounds!

scannable 1scannable 2

I have been using the app for a couple months now, and I am still blown away with how well it scans documents, receipts, books, pictures, anything really! One of my favorite features is its ability to adjust a book page that is skewed (because I took a picture with the book open but not laying flat).

The only drawback that I have found is that it Scannable is currently only available on iOS products. I’m sure Android is coming soon though.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use Scannable so far:

  • RECIPES: Scan my favorite recipes from my favorite cookbooks and upload into Evernote. The text is searchable by Evernote when I’m looking for the recipe later.
  • QUOTES: Scan a page of a book that I’m reading that has a quote I want to remember.
  • SERIAL NUMBERS: Scan serial numbers, Wifi passwords, and other lengthy codes for future use.
  • DOCUMENTS: Scan documents that come by mail that I may need later. Scannable scans multiple pages surprisingly fast! Then shred the original document and rest easy knowing you have saved the scan to Evernote, Dropbox, email, wherever you keep your important documents online.
  • RECEIPTS: Scan receipts for items that I might need to return later. Less paper cluttering the house! For the win!
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How to Download Full-Sized Instagram Photos

Update January 2016: There’s now an extra step to get a working link, shown in italics below.


Have you ever found a picture on Instagram and wanted to download it to use or print?

Here’s an easy way to download Instagram images:

Instagram Inspect Element

  • Right click on image and select Inspect Element.
  • Find the address of the image.
  • When you copy and paste the link, change =2 to a colon (:) and change =1 to a period (.) for it to work correctly.
  • Copy it and paste it into a new browser tab.
  • Right click on that image. Save Image As…

Copyright Note: Do not repost or print items from others’ Instagram accounts unless you have their permission. I use this method to download and print my friends’ and family members’ photos who have given me permission to do so. Additionally, you can read Instagram’s Copyright Policy.

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Backup Your iPhone Photos Automatically Using Dropbox Carousel

UPDATE: Dropbox Carousel is shutting down March 31, 2016, and Dropbox is returning photos into the Dropbox app. The same automatic backup functionality is available through the Dropbox mobile app on iOS or Android. However, I now recommend Google Photos for automatic backup of your phone photos.

I need unlimited storage on my phone so that I can store my hundreds (no, thousands!) of pictures that I take on my phone and like to have available at a moment’s notice. While I wait for Apple to get going on that special new iPhone, I am using Dropbox Carousel to backup my photos.
Here’s a quick review on why I love Carousel:
  • Carousel has an option like TimeHop that will show you photos you took this week in past years. I LOVE this feature. It’s a fun trip down memory lane to see what I was doing 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 years ago.
  • Carousel automatically backs up your photos to your Dropbox. It’s just as easy as it sounds. Login to your Dropbox account using the Carousel app, and your photos will be uploaded to your Dropbox account without a second thought!
  • If you find you are running low on space on your iPhone, click the Free Up iPhone Space link in Carousel. (Make sure to empty your Recently Deleted folder in your Photos app or the space isn’t really free yet.) This is the most useful part for me. I often run low on space on my iPhone, so this helps me to minimize the space taken by photos.
Give Carousel a try this week, and let me know what you think!
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How to Identify a Building Before There’s a Sign

Have you ever been driving and noticed a new construction site and thought, “What is that going to be?” Or perhaps one of your favorite stores closed, and now there’s remodeling in process but there’s no sign. How do you find out what business will be there?

I have a two-part method for identifying new businesses where I live and work. Let’s get started:

Step 1: Identify the address of the business and Google it. 

This is a fairly easy task of the location already exists, and a store has recently closed. Let’s say a Target recently closed in your city called Anytown, TX. Do a Google search for: Target Anytown Tx. This search leads you to the address: 1000 Main Street, Anytown Tx. Now do another Google search for: 1000 Main Street Anytown TX -Target. This Google search will give you a list of sites that mention this address but do not have the word Target in them. Now we’re getting closer to the information you want! In some cases, this Google search alone will reveal a blog post or news article that reveals the new business name! Jackpot! But in other cases, a little more research is required.

If the business is a new construction, you may not know an address. Keep your eyes wide open as you drive past the construction site. The address is often displayed somewhere on the site. If not, find the location on Google Maps then right click. Choose Directions from Here. After you have found the address, search Google as explained above.

Step 2: Setup a Google Alert 

Setup a Google Alert for the address you found above in step 1 to be notified automatically if an article is posted online. Wait (im)patiently for new information about the business!


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Get notified when a website changes

Change Detection is one of the little websites that’s a workhorse. It has no frills, no fancy formatting, just one great feature that’s free and invaluable. Enter a website address and your email address. Anytime that website changes, Change Detection will email you. That’s it.

A few examples for how you might use it:

  • Keep track of the weekly menu of your favorite food truck.
  • Monitor your favorite blog anonymously
  • Find out when a leader board changes in an online competition
  • Learn about new hires at a company by watching the page that includes a list of key employees

Now that you know, how will you use Change Detection to get notified when a website changes?

change detection

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Use Google Alerts to Monitor What People Say About You (and Your School) Online

Google AlertsGoogle Alerts is a tool that searches the web for recent content on a topic of your choosing. You don’t have remember to Google yourself. Google googles yourself for you. (Say that a few times fast.)
Here are some examples of things you might use Google Alerts for:
  • Your name, but only if you have a rather unique name
  • Your phone number
  • Your employer
  • Your favorite celebrity, author, recording artist
  • A particular event (like an upcoming conference)

I have a Google Alert for the name of my employer, and I have caught some worthwhile news articles that no one would have even known about, if not for Google Alerts.

Setup a few alerts today!


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