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Cheap tech haul: $66 worth of cheap tech stuff

tech haul

Cheap tech haul – Bargain tech shopping

We hit a Family Dollar store to see what kind of tech stuff we could find for a buck or two… or 13. Well, mostly we went to a Family Dollar store to break up the two-hour drive from Charlottesville, VA to Dulles Airport but the point stands.

The original idea was for a $1 tech haul but in the end, we had to set our sights a little higher. We found headphones and chargers, smartphone camera helpers and even a decent HDTV-ready antenna. Here’s all the stuff we snagged, along with the total price of our tech haul at the end.

Using smart text selection in Oreo for Android

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

Navigation in Android just got smarter

smart text selectionOne of the most practical new features in Android’s Oreo OS is smart text selection. Smart text recognizes when you need to call a phone number, look up an address (and more) and prompts you to jump from text into the most relevant app.

Smart text can make for a truly seamless navigation experience. Gone are the days of clumsily copying and pasting phone numbers and addresses into the right apps. With Google smart text selection navigating the day-to-day is so much easier.

We found it most useful and practical in Gmail. We’ll show you how it works.

Use picture-in-picture mode when you video chat with Android Oreo

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

Picture-in-picture lets you multitask while video chatting

picture-in-pictureIf you video chat often, you might find sticking to one video screen cumbersome, especially if you receive an important message while you’re on a call.

Oreo has a feature that can be incredibly helpful for multitasking while video chatting. Picture-in-Picture mode is made for video playback. For instance, with PIP you can keep YouTube open in a smaller window while you send a text, check your email and surf the web.

A helpful implementation of PIP is the ability to video chat and keep using your phone without losing the visual part of a video chat. Using PIP won’t disrupt your call or change the viewing experience for the person you’re chatting with.

Halloween emoji stickers for spooky texting

Emoji stickers to bring in All Hallows’ Eve

This October, sprinkle your messages with some spooky downloadable Halloween emoji stickers. Cause for celebration? Send a Halloween cupcake. Feeling sleepy? Say it with a zombie. Cooking up a storm? A cauldron should do the trick.

emoji stickersWe’ve got fun Halloween sticker options for iOS and Android.

Plus, some good news for Android users, the latest Gboard update supports downloadable stickers. You can add Bitmoji to your messages right from your keyboard. Other apps, that don’t account for this Gboard update, can only be added the old fashioned way. Copy and paste.

 

 


Bitmoji

So far, Bitmoji offers a couple creepy versions of your avatar. Just search Halloween to find them. Here’s zombie Christine and vampire Christine.

emoji stickersemoji stickers

TIL: There are metal detector apps for smartphones… and they actually work

Metal Detector app

Your smartphone is a metal detector

Today I learned that modern smartphones make pretty good metal detectors.

I’m not suggesting you mount your smartphone to a stick and go sweeping the sands for buried loot. Instead, maybe just file this under “nice to know” and recall it should the need ever arise.

Here’s what happened.

The City of Toronto requires homeowners to have their water meters updated from the old cast brass analog dial sporting sort to a new digital “Smart Meter.”

Insert some joke about Rob Ford here. I’ve got nothing… but given that this was a plumbing project, there were definitely pipes and propane torches involved.

What could easily turn into a very long story made short, the installer needed to turn off the main water valve. That valve lives somewhere near the bottom of my driveway. The rub: The weather here has been less than pleasant and, despite my best shoveling efforts, the bottom of the driveway was a sheet of compacted snow and ice.

As we searched around, trying to chip up the ice on the driveway, said installer mentioned something about an app he’d heard about. One that turns your phone into a metal detector.

No way, said I.

Yes indeed, said he.

To the Play Store.

metal detectorFiring up my newly installed Metal Detector app, I started sweeping my phone over the general vicinity of where I recall seeing the water valve in the warmer summer months.

After several broad passes, the on-screen meter spiked and my phone chirped as I narrowed in on something metallic, hidden beneath the snow and ice. I grabbed a chisel and went to work.

Sure enough, there it was: The main water shut off for my house.

I was surprised the metal detector app worked at all and very surprised that it worked so well.

Having had a smartphone since smartphones became a thing, it’s nice to still find the occasional surprise.

An app for every… application

When explaining the many benefits of having a smartphone to fence sitters, apps are the feature I call attention to. I suggest the unconvinced try thinking of it this way: If you can dream up a use for the tiny computer in your pocket, chances are you can find an app to do just that. No matter how niche the idea may seem, someone else has likely seen the need and made an app to fill it.

There are, after all, over 1 million apps in the Google Play Store.

If you have a hard time waking up in the morning. If you need to record measurements of a room before you go out furniture or hardware shopping. If you want to find out when the next bus is coming, how many hits your website is getting right this second or who’s knocking at your door, there’s an app to help.

Want to judge the size of a screw so you know whether to grab a #2 or #3 Phillips screwdriver? Or if the threaded metal slug you’re holding is a lag or carriage bolt?

Nuts & Bolts

Want to see if your current couch placement makes for a good Feng Shui flow in your home? Or if the plugin water fountain should go on the north or south side of the room?

Feng Shui Compass

Want to find a metal valve because the meter installer is here and needs to shut the water off so he can do the job he’s under contract by the city to complete but said valve is hidden and you can’t quite remember where the damned thing is but you really need to find out in a hurry though there’s no way even a heavy metal shovel is going to clear that solid sheet of compacted snow and ice?

Well.

Let’s get lazy with Google Assistant

Ting tip

Quick tips to get the most from your phone, your favorite apps and your Ting service. No fluff. Just the tips.

Google Assistant

Do more with Google Assistant so you can do less

Today’s tip covers native Assistant, the one that comes with the latest Android smartphones and can open apps, send messages on your behalf, brief you with the news and more.

Google Assistant is available natively on Android and in the App Store for iOS. It’s also available inside Allo, Google’s latest messaging app, where it aims to help you with daily tasks based on what you’re chatting about.

A slight catch for iOS users – the Google Assistant app will not have the Always listening feature that’s available on Android. The quickest way to prompt Google Assistant on iOS is by adding it to your list of widgets so it’s never far from reach. You can also talk and type your requests directly inside the Google Assistant app (and through Allo).

We’re going to show you our favorite tips for making the most of Google Assistant. Put up your feet and let Google’s AI get to work. Maybe toss in a little please and thank you every now and then. We still don’t know how this whole Assistant thing is going to turn out (and if it turns out for the worst, may our robot overlords be merciful).