Monday, December 28, 2015

2016 New Year's Tech Resolutions

It's New Year's Resolution time! This is the perfect time to work on some good tech habits. I have 5 resolutions for you to try in 2016.

  1. Keep your devices clean
  2. Update your software
  3. Clean up your inbox
  4. Manage those passwords
  5. Put the phone down
1. Keep your devices clean:
'Tis the season of the flu and other germs. To keep your devices clean and relatively germ free you will need:
  • Microfiber cloth
  • iKlear or other specialty tech cleaning solution (
  • Small Spray bottle 
  • Water 
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Soft brush (like a makeup brush)
For disinfecting, I use a mix of 1:1 rubbing alcohol and distilled water in a small spray bottle. Spray the microfiber cloth to dampen and wipe down touch screens. Don't do this too often as too much alcohol can ruin the treated glass. iKlear or distilled water are my favorite everyday cleaners for touch screens, and these have no alcohol.
A soft brush works great on keyboards to clean the crumbs and dust out from between keys.
I also use parts from a kit that I purchased for my Canon DSLR camera. (

2. Update your software:
Updates are additions to software that can help prevent or fix problems, or enhance and improve how your device works.
Your devices at work are updated for you, but don't forget to update your personal devices as well.
With this in mind, it is important to remember to regularly check for updates to your apps and software (including Windows, Microsoft Office) for a variety of reasons:
  • Security
  • New or enhanced features
  • Improved performance of the software and computer
3. Clean up your Inbox:
Subscribe to your favorite blogs and news feeds, and before your know it, your inbox is overwhelming. I learned about a free service called at a conference earlier this year, and it has made my email life much easier! consolidates the emails I want to stay subscribed to in a daily digest, unsubscribes me from the ones I no longer need, and reminds me when I have new subscriptions to manage.

To sign up:

4. Manage those passwords:
For years I kept my passwords in Evernote or Onenote. Bad idea. I finally cleaned up my act and moved them to a secure password manager. After researching several, I knew that I needed a password manager that I could use across multiple devices and platforms, and would allow me to share my home passwords with my husband. I decided to use LastPass. I figure the $12/year price tag is well worth protecting my passwords. PC Magazine has a nice chart of password managers to help you decide what would work best for you:

5.Put the phone down:
Last summer, we were camping with friends. The fire was perfect, the food amazing, and everyone around the campfire was busy looking at their smartphones! That was a definite "aha" moment for me. It's a tough habit to break, but resolve to put the phone down, look your loved ones in the eye, and have a conversation. Play a board game instead of Trivia Crack. You won't regret it! 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Last Minute Techie Gifts

Looking for some last minute tech gifts? Being a huge gadget fan myself, I found the ultimate list of techie gifts at Tom's Guide.

The list of 100 items is nicely organized for every budget. You are sure to find something for even the toughest people to buy for on your list!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Converting PDFs to Google Docs

Trying to edit a PDF? Google Drive can help! You can convert the pdf into a Google Doc by uploading to Drive and then click "Open in Docs." Yes, its as simple as that.  Alice Keeler of Teacher Tech has step by step directions here:

Teacher Tech by Alice Keeler

If you prefer a video demo of the process:

Bonus! Want a more powerful alternative? Try PDFEscape. This free Chrome extension allows you to edit PDFs and fill out PDF forms online!

Click here to add the free extension to Chrome.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Creating Columns in Google Docs

I know many people are frustrated that there is no columns feature in Google Docs. To be fair to the folks at Google, Microsoft Word Online doesn't offer columns either, so there may be more to adding that feature to an online word processing product than we know. While we wait for Google to figure this feature out, here is a work around for creating columns in Google Docs. 

Basic Instructions for creating columns in Google Docs:

Step 1: Create table in google docs
Step 2: Make sample text
Step 3: Go to table properties under the tab of table
Step 4: Change color to white

This short video tutorial will explain how to create columns in Google using a Google Doc: