Weekly Round Up 3/31



She’s gonna make it after all…
These are the 5 Best Cities for women in tech.

I take my job as a fur baby parent very seriously.

How to Use Technology to Outsource Pet Care

I’m gonna file this under “Duh!”
Russia used tech, fake news to influence US election, expert tells Senate Intelligence committee.

Tesla Roof for the win!

Best tech gadgets in March 2017

This is why we can’t have nice things.

U.S. Senate Votes To Repeal Obama-Era Internet Privacy Rules

I’m posting this subject twice to emphasize my outrage at our representatives selling our privacy and data to the highest bidder. Karma’s a b*tch and I cannot wait to see how she evens the score with them.

Congress Votes to Allow Broadband Providers to Sell Your Data Without Your Permission

App of the Week – 11 Spring Cleaning Apps to Motivate You to *Actually* Get Organized


I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy the Brit&Co. website. Everytime I visit, I feel like they looked into my head and wrote down what I was thinking. This week’s App Spotlight beautifully illustrates this point. If you are a clean freak like me, then these Apps will totally speak to your clutter free hearts. I’m especially fond of Think Dirty and Decluttr. Let me know which one’s are your favorites in the comments below.


by Ashley Macey of Brit&Co.

It’s that time of year again, folks. No matter how much we would love to avoid spring cleaning forever, we’ve decided to put our adulting hats on and just get it done (mostly to make room for all the gorgeous spring goodies at Anthropologie and Target, TBH). So treat yourself to a springtime cup from Starbucks, put on your most motivational playlist, and download these amazing cleaning and organizing apps for the easiest spring cleaning sesh *ever.*

1. Think Dirty: Your closet isn’t the only thing that needs a refresh this spring. This cool app is a great free way to learn about the potentially toxic ingredients lurking in your makeup bag. Simply scan the barcode of your beauty products and the Think Dirty app will give you easy-to-understand info on your product and a unique dirty meter ranking. They’ll even shop for cleaner alternatives to help keep your skin healthier.

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

2. FlyCleaners: There’s nothing worse than spending a Saturday evening trapped underneath a monster pile of laundry. That’s why we’re leaving it to the professionals this spring. FlyCleaners will pick up and deliver your laundry directly to your front door between 6am and midnight, seven days a week.

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

3. Rooomy: After you finished the grunt work of actually cleaning your apartment, it’s always a fun idea to give your space a tiny makeover. This futuristic app combines 3D models of real estate listings with real-life home furnishing products (also in 3D), so you can easily tell what will look good in your space — plus, you can *totally* shop for your dream home at the same time.

DL It: Free on iOS

4. Centriq: Homeowners, this one is for you. This nifty app provides users with an owner’s manual for practically anything with an “on switch” in their home — appliances, electronics, furnaces, you name it. Just scan the model number of the product and the app will provide you with all sorts of useful stuff to make homeowner life just a tad easier.

DL It: Free on iOS

5. Decluttr: Instead of taking your gently used items to the dump after you’re finished spring cleaning, you may want to use this app to make a quick buck. All you have to do is scan the barcodes of your electronics, books, and other items and Decluttr will give you an instant offer price. Then once you’re finished, ship your items to them for FREE and they’ll pay you the day after they receive your stuff.

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

6. Snupps: Whether you’re looking for organization advice on your personal shoe collection or just want to browse beautiful photos from other organized ladies, this app is awesome for getting motivated to start spring cleaning. You can add your collection to virtual shelves via snapshots, get feedback from the Snupps community on your stash, and follow other interest groups for instant motivation to live your most organized life.

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

7. Our Home: Give your family planner a techy facelift with this must-download family planning app. Our Home is a new way to connect your entire household on one app (we’re talking grocery lists, family calendars, chore charts, and more).

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

8. ThredUp: This app is perfect for the lady who needs a little extra motivation to clean out her closet. Not only can you earn a little extra cash from donating your gently used garments to this awesome company, but you can easily shop for items from fan favorites like Anthropologie and Kate Spade for up to 90 percent off too (hey, we deserve a few springy statement pieces!).

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

9. Letgo: What makes this used-goods selling platform stand apart from its competitors is the tens of millions of people already using it (AKA way more people will stumble across your awesome spring cleaning items). We also love that you can post an item for sale in just a few seconds and chat with other buyers and sellers right inside the app.

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

10. Handy: Let’s be honest; there’s always a point during our annual spring cleaning marathon where we just want to give up and polish off the movies in our Netflix queue. But instead of throwing in the towel, why not call a professional cleaner or handy-person to help finish the job for you using this convenient app. You can pay the background-checked professional right from your phone and rest assured with their money-back guarantee.

DL It: Free on Android and iOS

11. KonMari: If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying up by now, it’s definitely time to get in on the life-changing trend. This official app of Konverts is packed with features to help you tidy and organize your entire life by providing tips, tricks, and progress reports on how decluttering your home will spark joy in your life.

DL It: Free on iOS

Have you started spring cleaning yet? Tweet me by mentioning @theblondebyte16 and or @BritandCo.

How to: record live TV without a cable subscription using Plex DVR



Cord cutters, you too can record your favorite live TV shows and watch them whenever you want, thanks to Plex DVR!


Netflix changed the game. Hulu stepped up next and cord cutting became the next big thing. I sort of evolved my viewing habits out of scheduling necessity for my work without even realizing it. A few years ago I realized I was watching all of my favorite programs on the internet the day after it broadcast or I’d wait until the season was over and binge the entire thing. And speaking of binging, Netflix smartly releases the entire season of it’s shows at once for fuel the binge hunger of people like me. I discovered the genius of the Plex Media Server a while ago and have since cut the cord in my life. For those of you who are still on the live broadcast bandwagon, this article is for you. It could save you up to $200 a month in cable fees if you decide to make the switch, so, it’s worth the read…


By Lory Gil of iMore


I’m always looking for ways to maximize my TV watching experience. That’s why Plex DVR is a fantastic service for cord cutters like me. Combined with HDHomeRun and an HDTV antenna, I can record live broadcast television and watch it at my leisure, just like my cable subscribing friends do with their DVR. You can too. Here’s how.

  • What you need
  • How to set up Plex DVR on your Mac or PC
  • How to record your favorite live TV shows
  • How to watch your recorded live TV on Plex

What you need

Plex is a media server that you can load your movies, music, and photos onto. You can then watch, listen to, or view that content across any supported device with the Plex app. Plex DVR is a feature in the Plex Pass subscription that lets you record and watch free digital broadcast channels so you can also watch TV any time across your supported devices. You’ll need a few things before you can set up Plex DVR:

  • An HDHomeRun device with an HDTV antenna set up in your home
  • Plex Media Player on your Mac
  • A Plex Pass subscription
  • A hard drive with enough space to record your shows

Make sure you have your HDHomeRun set up and the Plex Media Server on your Mac before you try to use Plex DVR to scan for channels in your home.


How to set up Plex DVR on your Mac

Once you have everything you need, you’ll have to connect your HDHomeRun transmitter to your Plex so it can scan your channels and create a program guide for you.
1 Launch the Plex Media Server on your Mac.
2 Sign in to your account.
3 Click on Settings in the menu on the left.
4 Click on DVR(Beta) in the menu on the left.



5 Click on DVR Setup.
6 Select your HDHomeRun when it appears in the setup window.


7 Click Continue.
8 Click Continue after Plex scans your digital channels. If some channels are missing, you can scan for channels again.
9 Enter your language preference.
10 Enter your postal/zip code (for the purpose of adding a program guide).
11 Click Continue. You will be presented with a list of every channel available for you to watch live TV with.
12 De-select any channels you don’t want to add to Plex and then click Continue.



How to record your favorite live TV shows

After Plex DVR is finished creating your programming guide, you can begin scheduling and recording shows.
1 Launch the Plex Media Server on your Mac.
2 Sign in to your account.
3 Click on Program Guide in the menu on the left.
4 Click on a TV show episode or movie you want to record.


5 Click Record from the item’s summary page.
6 Click the red record button right on the image to record an entire season of a show. This will trigger a window to pop out.
7 Select All Episodes from the drop down menu under Record.

Continue this process until you have scheduled recordings for every movie or TV show you want to watch at your leisure.

How to watch your recorded live TV on Plex

Once a TV show or movie is finished recording, it will automatically appear in your Plex library. From the Plex app on any of your devices, you can log in and select the recorded content from your Movies or TV Shows library. It’s simple!


Any questions?
Do you have any questions about how to set up Plex DVR and record live TV shows and movies to watch at your leisure? Put them in the comments and I’ll help you out!



20 Secret iPhone Tips And Hacks That You Didn’t Know About




There are some great tips in this article for iPhone users. I knew about most of them, but was never sure anyone besides me would find them useful. Until I read this article. Time to share the wealth… Happy Weekend!

The iPhone tricks that will change how you use your handset

By Luke Johnson and Justin Mahboubian-Jones of Esquire

Sure, there’s plenty your trusty iPhone can already do, even if you’ve not upgraded to the shiny new iPhone 7 yet. It can help you find your way home, settle pub debates and, heck, even make the odd phone call or two. At a pinch you could probably serve small canapés off it. But this pocketable box of wonder isn’t just a pretty vessel into the world of internet joy and messaging madness. Oh no.
There are dozens of cool iPhone features hidden beneath the surface that you probably weren’t even aware of – and not just the knowledge that cat litter can bring your phone back from a watery death. These are some of the best iPhone hacks you didn’t know about, and exactly how you can find them.

Tired of waiting for your phone to recharge? Well, there is a way to speed up the re-juicing process, and it’s surprisingly simple – just engage Flight Safe mode. By knocking out all your phone’s Wi-Fi-searching, data-draining communication skills, it takes the strain off your battery while it’s being powered up. Not hugely, true – but if you’re pressed for time and looking to eke out every bit of juice, that extra 4% you’ll add in 30 minutes connected to the mains could make all the difference.

When it comes to finding out the footy scores or proving a point, getting where you need to go on the internet is all about speed and precision – something missing when you’re forced to knock out type-heavy web addresses. So save time by holding down the full stop icon whilst typing out an address to bring up a short-cut series of URL suffixes. From the classics (.com, .co.uk) to the less used (.edu, .ie), there are quick hit shortcuts for all.

Slightly sinisterly, your iPhone is always gathering data on you in the background – be it the apps you’re using the most, how much data you’re churning through… or even, most creepily, where you are. To see what we mean, head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations. Here you can see not just where you’ve been, but how long you’ve spent in each place. Big Brother really is watching…

You’ve probably filed away the Compass app alongside the Stocks and Find Friends apps in a folder entitled ‘Crap I can’t delete’. You should pull it back out, though – as it’s got a secret second function that will help with your DIY duties. No: not using your iPhone to hammer in nails (although it can – briefly – do that too). Instead, swiping left in the Compass app brings up a very useful spirit level – a digital bubble gauge than can check if that shelf really is level. (Spoiler: it isn’t.)

We all know that tapping the screen while taking a photo will set the camera’s point of focus, right? Good. Annoyingly though, every time you move the camera after picking a focal point, it disappears. Well, no more. Instead of just tapping the screen, press for a second or two until an ‘AF Locked’ box pops up. Now you can twist, turn and swing the thing around without losing focus.

Ever wished you could tell who’s calling just by how your phone feels buzzing against your leg? Now you can: In Contacts, select your person of choice and hit Edit. Here you’ll see a Vibration option. Selecting this will give you plenty of options, including the Create New Vibration tool. Making your bespoke buzz is as simple as tapping the screen to the beat of your choice.

Siri’s a bit of a smug know-it-all – so there’s nothing better than calling it on its cock ups. Like when it mispronounces peoples’ names like an ignorant Brit abroad. So if Siri says something wrong, just tell it. Following up a mistake by saying “That’s not how you pronounce…” will see Siri ask for the correct pronunciation then let you check it’s got things right. Because we all know it’s Levi-O-sa, not Levi-o-SAR.

It’s not just pictures and web pages that support multi-finger gestures. You can throw additional digits into clearing up your iPhone clutter too. If you need to shut multiple applications in a hurry – for totally innocent, not hiding anything, honest reasons – you can drag three fingers up on the multitasking menu to cull the clutter quicker. Which means your phone should be snappier in double-quick time.

Enjoy listening to a little soothing background music as you drift off to the Land of Nod? Then you’re probably all too familiar with waking up at 3am to some unwanted tunes. Unless, of course, you set your music to turn off on a timer. In the Clock app, slide along to the Timer options. Here under the ‘When Time Ends’ tag, you can switch out the alarm option for a ‘Stop Playing’ tag. This will turn off the tunes, be it through Apple Music or Spotify, when the timer hits zero.

An oldie but a goodie iPhone hack is using your volume control buttons to capture a snap – thus saving your meaty paw blocking the screen as you attempt to hit the touchscreen controls. But if you prefer to be even further removed from your photo-capturing shutter controls? Hitting the volume button on a pair of compatible, connected headphones will have the same effect.

Related: Best iPhone 7 cases and covers
You’re just a third of the way through the month, and your 2GB data allowance is already starting to look a little stretched. You don’t have to cut back on your on-the-go Netflix viewing though. Instead, select which apps get demoted to the Wi-Fi-only B-list. Go to Settings > Mobile Data where you can make the big decisions one app at a time.

Spotlight, Apple’s connected quick-access for key data and services, is great for offering instant access to the latest breaking news, sports scores and social update. But that much stuff going on in the background can eat your battery life whole. Unless you turn off Spotlight features for certain apps to eke out more life per charge, that is. ‘How?’ we hear you cry? Just go Settings > General > Spotlight Search and limit what’s pulling in data behind your back.

No need to hang out of a first floor window trying to discover where your iPhone’s connection is best. Type *3001#12345#* into your iPhone’s dialler and hit call to launch the hidden Field Mode tool. This sub-surface menu turns your bar chart-based signal indicator into a far more straightforward numerical-based signal signifier. Got a score of -50? Then you’ll be enjoying HD video streams on the move. Down around -120, though, and you’ll struggle to send a text. Just follow the numbers to better signals.

You might have already stumbled across this one in a fit of rage, but like your childhood etch-a-sketch, your recent iPhone activities can be erased simply by giving the thing a good ol’ shake. Perfect for the plump of finger and poor of spelling, who want to skip the endless backspace bashing with a firm handset rattle. And if you’re shivering rather than shaking? Don’t worry: a pop-up will ensure you want to delete before erasing your typing.

We’ve all been there: endlessly rechecking our phones for a text reply, wondering how long it’s been since we sent our message of love/ ransom demand. There’s an easy way to find out, though – simply swipe in from the right-hand side of the screen when in a messaging thread, to show precise delivery times for every message sent and received. True: it’s not as morale-beating as WhatsApp’s blue ticks, but it will still give you a complex over why it’s taking over 42 minutes for your other half to reply. Do affairs really take that long?

Does referring to your parents by their given name make you feel awkward? Then teach Siri to know who you’re chatting about. Ask Siri to call your dad and the digital PA should ask who your father is. Once a contact has been assigned to the parental moniker, every time you ask for pops moving forward, you’ll be backed up by simple, fuss-free calling.

For iPhone-owning Android converts, living without a dedicated back button can be a difficult adjustment to make. While the iPhone might not have an ever-present command to put things in reverse, there is a simple way to head in the wrong direction. Within a number of apps – from Safari to Mail, via Messages – swiping from left to right on the screen will send you back to the previous page or menu. Who needs a dedicated button when you’ve got a more elegant solution?

You may not have realised that Home button of the iPhone 7 isn’t really a button. That’s right, it’s a fraud. Haptic feedback gives the impression of a depression, but none actually occurs, making it totally useless for a hard-reset when your phone crashes. Instead, hold down the power button and the volume down button at the same time. Your phone should reset and spring back into life.

Speaking of haptic feedback on the iPhone 7 Home button, it’s also possible to customise the vibration via the iPhone’s settings. Just go to Settings > General > Home button and you can select the level of feedback that feels right to you.

It happens all the time: someone calls and you can’t answer. iOS comes with a few stock text responses which can be sent with a single tap, but it’s actually possible to create your own. Go to Settings > Phone > Respond With Text to create your own message.

Weekly Round Up – 3/24



In other words, Snap out of it!

Uber manager told female engineer that ‘sexism is systemic in tech’

The Mother of all Bad ideas.
White House adds a tech adviser

Somebody schedule me an intervention.

Tech Bigwigs Know How Addictive Their Products Are.


Give’em hell, Ladies!
Yes, there’s sexism in tech. Women should go into it anyway.


Remember when they were the same size as your sofa?
How speakers went from statement furniture to unseen tech.

This is not good.

Tech Roundup: A Senate Vote Is Not the Final Word on Internet Privacy.


Please be true.Please be true.Please be true.
Tech Roundup: Will Robots Replace Lawyers?

Tales From The Orchard – No Knowledge, No Service.



Have you ever asked for help from somebody and they do their best and are very nice, but they really don’t know what they’re doing, you get more and more frustrated and then you end up fixing the problem yourself? I’m sure we’ve all been there, right? Well, this past weekend, it happened to me and my mind was blown away by the irony of the situation. Follow…

One of the things I had always admired about The Orchard was the emphasis they strove to put on knowledge and training. It didn’t matter if you had prior knowledge of their products or services because they would train you and fill in the gaps. It was promoted as rights of passage for each achievement, which anyone can tell you is a complete 180 degree turn from the retail business model. From entry level sales positions to the coveted Genius role, all positions in the store had a specific training regimen that had to be completed before starting them. One of my fondest memories of my time there was being sent to “The Mothership” in Cupertino for weeks at a time for specialized training courses. Mingling with the higher ups of the company, meeting new friends and even spotting my hero, Steve Jobs, across the company cafeteria are memories I’ll never forget. I truly loved and respected a company who always encouraged it’s employees to keep learning because having egg on your face in front of a customer when you didn’t have an answer was frowned upon.

Now, not everyone excelled with the training. There were the few employees who simply couldn’t keep up with the knowledge. A few “bad apples” who’d sell a mouse with an iPad and wonder what they did wrong. But for the most part, knowledge was embraced and yearned for.

Until Steve died.

Then, slowly, the priorities for the stores shifted. No longer were training and knowledge the emphasis for upper management. They were only interested in numbers. Sales numbers, service numbers, time, inventory, customer survey scores etc. became our day to day. Internal employee surveys often showed a demand for more training as the shift was happening but was never really met with any certainty. They’d try one method of training for existing employees for a quarter and then drop it. The following quarter would be something else they’d try and inevitably it would fail too. Those of us that happen been a part of the Orchard when Steve was alive saw the writing on the wall. Knowledge takes training and training is expensive. The heads of retail couldn’t quantify knowledge because it didn’t add up on a spreadsheet. Therefore, it had no value.

So, cut to last weekend. I ordered a lightning to 3.5 mm adapter for my iPhone because I lost mine. I placed the order using my iPhone, the Apple Store app, and Apple Pay. It was quick and easy and I was really impressed with how seamlessly it all worked. A few days later, I got an email from the Apple online store saying my package would be delivered that afternoon. I was surprised and delighted it was 2 days before the shipping date I was given. Then, I realized my package was being delivered to my old address in Los Angeles and I was currently in Charlotte, NC. Frustrated that I had screwed this up somehow, I clicked the link in the email for support and looked for the return policy. All of a sudden, a chat screen pops up and a girl named “Nikki” asked if she could help me out. Pretty Cool, right?!

I told her about the address discrepancy and she said she could take care of it, but first she needed me to answer a few security questions to verify it was really me she was talking to. I gave her what I thought was the right info and she tells me the phone number didn’t match what she had on file. That was confusing because I have only 1 phone number and I’ve had it for 10 years. We tried it again and got the same result. (And to answer the somewhat obvious question, No, I did not identify myself as an ex Orchard employee. There is no real advantage and It wouldn’t have mattered in this case anyway.)

The next 20 minutes was spent trying reset the information my Apple Store account. It seemed to be caught in a loop. I couldn’t change the information on that order because that order was still in process and I couldn’t change the info in my account settings because I had an order pending. (I’m pretty sure that’s what my version of Hell will be like) So then, my helper sighs into the phone and says, “You’ll just have to dispute it with your bank.”


I said, “Were you seriously trained to dump your customer’s problems onto another company?”

“I’m not sure what else we can do.” She says, “Apple ID issues aren’t my area.”

How and when did the conversation change to Apple ID?

“There’s nothing wrong with my Apple ID.” I told her as I quickly went into iTunes on my computer and verified my Apple ID settings. All the information was correct. I told her I made it a point to make sure all that information was up to date right after my move. I even had her hold on while I checked the info on my phone and it too was correct.

I told her from my perspective, this was an Apple Store app problem since my information was correct everywhere else. She said that may well be the case but until I could verify the phone number she had in front of her, she couldn’t help me. I’m not going to tell you what I said next because it wasn’t very ladylike.
While I was cursing a blue streak, I had a mini-epiphany. Apple Pay. I paid with Apple Pay. The answer had to be there. I went into the Apple Pay Settings on my phone and sure enough, the wrong street address, state, zip code and phone number were listed as contact information. All of that data was from my Los Angeles home, including a Google Voice phone number I used once. I quickly read that phone number to her and she verified it being the right one and continued to process my re-order. As we were finishing up the chat session, I asked her why Apple Pay wasn’t connected to my Apple ID?

It took her a full 2 minutes to come back to me and she said, “It ’s security thing. So, if your phone is stolen they can’t get your banking information.”

I was really happy I was in a texting session and not a live call because I laughed out loud at her ridiculous answer.

Instead, I typed, “Isn’t that what the fingerprint scanner is for?”

Another 2 or 3 minutes go by and she comes back asks if there was anything else she could help me with? I let her off the hook and thanked her for her help.
As I signed off of the chat session, I shook my head. It’s wasn’t her fault she didn’t know why Apple Pay and my Apple ID don’t work in tandem. It’s really wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know how the security features of Apple’s biggest selling product work because I’m betting she was never trained on that information. I blame The Orchard’s retail honchos who have no appreciation of knowledge and don’t care if the underlings doing all their grunt work are properly equipped for their jobs.

Which brings me to my next point. There is a rumor floating around that The Orchard is phasing out the Offsite Training courses for the Genius role. The premise of which is highly disturbing to me. Not only are they phasing out a huge morale boosting rite of passage for employees, but the idea of watching a video tutorial on taking a computer apart is as beneficial as a hands on classroom experience is absurd. You’d think Betsey DeVos had re-invented The Orchard’s training curriculum. Several of my ex-colleagues who are still with The Orchard have told me they think the higher ups care more about renovating stores that don’t really need renovation to appease the ego of the VP of Retail. That, by her eliminating the cost of certain training programs, she can pour that money into frivolous undertakings that don’t benefit the customer experience or the employees.

This is heartbreaking to me. The Orchard used to stand for knowledge, high end customer service, and employee engagement. I truly feel that without Steve’s vision and leadership The Orchard is a rudderless boat drifting in circles.

Let me summarize my thoughts like this; Would you leave your car in the care of a mechanic who had been self taught by video tutorials and practice simulations?

Because that’s what The Orchard will soon be asking us all to do with our computers.

WIT: Marissa Mayer Calls Out Media For Sexist Coverage


Marissa Mayer tenure as Yahoo CEO has been met with mixed reviews. I respect the fact she has the job at all and is reputed to be a genuinely nice person. I hope the higher up’s at Verizon recognize her worth because we need more Marissa Mayers in Silicon Valley.

By Emily Peck of Huffington Post

With little left to lose, Yahoo’s CEO gets real.

Sure, Marissa Mayer made it through the glass ceiling, landing the top spot at Yahoo in 2012, but waiting for her on the other side was a never-ending stream of gender-fueled criticism and commentary. 
Until Monday, she’s never really addressed it.

In interviews, Mayer ― who is one of only a handful of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 ―  would typically say gender wasn’t a problem for her, or in tech generally, an odd remark considering the industry stats that show tech to be a male-dominated place that’s often unfriendly to women.

Then, on Monday, after it was announced that Verizon was paying $4.83 billion for Yahoo and that Mayer’s future as leader of the company was a question mark, she finally cracked. In an interview with the Financial Times, she called out the media for its sexist coverage. (Verizon also owns The Huffington Post.)

“I’ve tried to be gender blind and believe tech is a gender neutral zone but do think there has been gender-charged reporting,” she told the Financial Times. “We all see the things that only plague women leaders, like articles that focus on their appearance, like Hillary Clinton sporting a new pantsuit. I think all women are aware of that, but I had hoped in 2015 and 2016 that I would see fewer articles like that. It’s a shame.”

We needn’t feel too sorry for Mayer, who stands to earn $57 million in severance if she leaves Yahoo. (Falling off the glass cliff has never looked so comfortable.) Still, other women in tech read that coverage, too ― and if tech truly wants to welcome more of them into the upper ranks, the industry needs to figure out how to deal with a female CEO.

But it wasn’t just the media that viewed Mayer through the gender lens.

Shareholders, analysts, professors, other women, pundits ― all focused on Mayer in a way we simply don’t see happen with men who are CEOs. Do you know how much time Bill Gates took off from work when his kids arrived on the scene? Has anyone ever interrupted a shareholder meeting to call Warren Buffett hot, or accused a guy of only keeping his job because he was expecting twins?

From the relentless coverage of her pregnancies and her capabilities as a mother to the constant attention to her looks, Mayer was always a woman CEO. 

“I’m a dirty old man and you look attractive,” one shareholder told Mayer at a meeting in 2013. A business school professor told Bloomberg the only reason Mayer didn’t get fired in 2015 was because she was pregnant.

One analyst dropped a 99-page presentation arguing Mayer should be fired ― just days after she gave birth to twins, an especially difficult time for her to respond to such criticism. Considering the amount of time it takes to draft such a long document, it would seem that the timing was a bit curious.

Some criticized her laugh, others called her out for micromanaging. (Sure, a few people called Steve Jobs a micromanager, but the broader story was that he was a genius who was obsessed with the details.)

And then there was an endless stream of commentary on Mayer’s decision not to take a long maternity leave. She was expected, for better or worse, to be a role model for all the women in tech. 

Monday’s comments seem to indicate that Mayer’s view on women in tech has evolved. 

Back in 2015 she told Steven Levy: “I never play the gender card. …The moment you play into that, it’s an issue.” She even said: “In technology we live at a rare, fast-moving pace. There are probably industries where gender is more of an issue, but our industry is not one where I think that’s relevant.”

Perhaps she’s feeling more emboldened to talk now that her mission to turn around Yahoo is closing out. Mayer might have more to say, and certainly we’ll be listening. With so few female CEOs in the industry, her words could have real impact. Let’s hope she keeps talking.

App of the Week: BusyCal 3: The better Mac calendar experience, now on iOS.



This week’s App is my favorite calendar App of all time, BusyCal. BusyCal has been my go to for my calendar needs since 2007. I absolutely love it! From integrated weather forecasts to the ability to add images on special dates, it is the perfect digital calendar for my needs. Everytime a new calendar app was released over the last few years, I’d try it out for a few weeks but, in the end, I’d go right back to BusyCal. I was thrilled when they released BusyCal for iOS last fall and it works seamlessly with my computers. This article is a review of the desktop and mobile versions of BusyCal and it speaks to it’s strength; (even though the author still prefers Fantasical.) I highly recommend it for gals like me, who live and die by their calendar. Try it for free here.

By J. R. Bookwalter of Macworld

A flexible third-party calendar app for macOS and iOS that works with all leading cloud services.

Critics and users alike love to throw shade at those built-in macOS and iOS apps—Mail is often panned for being out of date, most of us don’t want (or need) Stocks, and Maps still can’t hold a candle to Google Maps, four years after the latter was unceremoniously evicted from iOS 6.

For me, Calendar is the weakest of Apple’s built-in apps (with Reminders a close second). While the Mac version is passable enough, the iPhone app is borderline useless, even with split-screen month and list view enabled.


Get busy

After initially cozying up to the iOS-only Calendars 5 ($7 on the iTunes Store), I eventually settled on Fantastical 2 ($3 on the iTunes Store, despite initial reservations about the lack of a good month view on iPhone. Occasional bugs with recurring to-dos aside, I’ve never looked back.

That is, until the recent release of BusyCal 3, a sequel four years in the making. Back in 2012, OS X Mountain Lion 10 and iOS 6 were the latest and greatest Apple had to offer, and BusyCal 2 was a refreshing change of pace from the now widely-scorned skeuomorphic look and feel of Cupertino’s gaudy Calendar apps.

At $50, I didn’t pay much attention to BusyCal at the time, although Macworld sang its praises in a review, calling the integration of Calendar and Reminders “far superior” to Apple’s dual-application approach. And while that’s still true today, the folks at BusyMac had their work cut out for them catching up to younger rivals like Fantastical.

For the most part, they’ve succeeded: BusyCal 3 has been overhauled with a modern user interface that ironically takes more than a few design cues from the Calendar in OS X El Capitan, aside from the Info panel along the right-hand side, the two applications could almost be mistaken for one another.


Back to Mac


With version 3.0, BusyCal ($50 from BusyMac) plays a bit of catch-up, most notably adding travel time, a feature Apple introduced in the OS X Mavericks edition of Calendar three years ago. If you’ve used it before, the implementation here is identical: While adding location-based events, BusyCal displays how long it takes to drive or walk there, then uses current traffic conditions to alert you when it’s time to leave the house.

This “me too” feature aside, BusyCal 3 delivers impressive enhancements in other areas, such as smooth infinite scrolling for trackpad owners (Calendar now seems downright creaky by comparison), and a revamped Info panel which integrates synced Apple Reminders as a to-do list. To-dos can be assigned specific times or dates, and now appear in the main calendar view alongside regular events.

My favorite feature is the forecast powered by Weather Underground, which displays high and low temperatures for the next 10 days, along with moon phases adjacent to the date. This data is acquired by manually entering a city, ZIP code, or using your current location, and really helps when trying to plan outdoor activities for the week ahead.

Last but not least, BusyCal 3’s menu bar app has received a makeover, adding a mini-month calendar perched atop a scrolling event list. While it’s a welcome improvement, the menu bar is mostly for show and nowhere near as functional as Fantastical, where you can not only add but also edit events without ever opening the main application.

Going mobile

The return of BusyCal is reason enough to celebrate, but this time it’s not alone. For the first time, there’s now an iOS version as well ($3 on the iTunes Store. That means Mac users can finally have the same experience across platforms, rather than being forced to use a different calendar on mobile.

For the most part, the iOS app is a faithful port of the desktop edition, so there’s no steep learning curve. However, it’s lacking a Today widget, 3D Touch, and sharing extension support, so it doesn’t feel quite feature-complete yet. You also can’t sync accounts or settings, a minor inconvenience for those of us with multiple devices.

After missing a good month view on Fantastical, I was quite happy to see one in BusyCal 3, although it feels a little cramped even on my iPhone 6s Plus. Rotating into landscape mode helps, but it’s strictly for viewing; you can’t add or edit events with the iPhone held this way. I had the opposite problem on my iPad Pro; text is too small and there’s a lot of excess white space, but no settings to compensate for either.

There are a few fun flourishes to be found: Emoji and icons added from the Mac’s Graphics panel show up on iOS (but you can’t add new ones from mobile); when adding a new event, BusyCal 3 conveniently scrolls that date to the top of the calendar for better visibility, briefly animating with a subtle confirmation.

Bottom line

While I remain partial to Fantastical 2 for its full-featured menu bar app alone, BusyCal 3 is a winning combination for anyone looking to make a break from Apple’s underwhelming built-in apps.

How to: get Siri to read articles and other text on iOS and macOS



Over the weekend, I published an article about the cool features built into The Amazon Echo and their A.I., Alexa. I didn’t want fans of Apple’s A.I. Siri to fell left out, so, I’m sharing this piece on one of Siri’s coolest features. Who needs audiobooks? Not me and not Siri..

By Greg Barbosa-Cult of Mac

While Siri may not be the perfect companion some wish it was, the personal assistant’s voice can lend itself to our lives in a variety of helpful ways. For the past few months I’ve been using Siri to read all the text I want to read but don’t actually need to read. Having the personal assistant read articles to me means I can focus on other activities while essentially turning my reading lists and emails into a personalized podcast.

Withings Body Wi-Fi Scale

Having Siri read your content can be quite a liberating feeling. It allows you to consume all the reading material you like, but with the added benefit of not having to have your face buried in a screen. Enabling this feature also means you can even navigate between apps, and Siri will continue to read the content you initiated!


To get Siri to start speaking to you on iOS, we’ll have to enable an Accessibility feature. To do so, head into your iOS Settings → General → Accessibility → Speech section.

From here you’ll see two options: Speak Selection and Speak Screen. Enabling the first allows you to select a group of text and have Siri read that specific group back to you. Selecting the second allows you have Siri read everything that is visible on your screen. Personally, I’ve enabled both features.

Tip: While in this section, enable the Highlight Content option as well. Enabling it allows you to visually follow along with what is being read onscreen.

Both Speech features are powerful in different ways, but the Speak Screen option is one I’ve found myself using much more often on iOS. I use the Speak Selection feature to have her pronounce unknown words to me, and the latter to have her read large amounts of text. To activate Speak Screen use two-fingers to swipe down over the iOS Status Bar. A small opaque window will appear and begin reading the content aloud. I usually enable Speak Screen whenever I’m going through emails or my reading list.

That window has a few controls to assist in the speech while the content is being read. If you want to speed up Siri’s reading rate tap the bunny, and to slow it down tap the turtle. Tapping the forward and backward options will jump through to the next major break in a group of text (usually paragraphs or user interface elements). Pressing Pause will pause the speech.

Tip: You may notice when text is being read that Siri will pronounce things incorrectly. You can edit a word’s specific pronunciation under Settings → General → Accessibility → Speech → Pronunciations.


On macOS, the process is slightly different than iOS. Launch System Preferences and navigate to Accessibility → Speech and enable Speak selected text when the key is pressed.

The difference here is that on macOS, this feature works better when it’s treated more like the Speak Selection feature on iOS. If you were to hit the configured keys while just looking at any screen, you may find that Siri reads back what is seemingly random text. I’ve found that the best way to have Siri read the text back to you on macOS is to highlight the group of text you want read and then to hit the configured key command. At least in this manner you know was it being read aloud.

Tip: Both iOS and macOS feature a Voices section under their Speech features. You can change the voice that is heard when text is read to find a more fitting one for your taste. I’ve chosen Alex as he sounds more natural than some of the other voices.

Over the past few years Apple’s commitment to integrating accessibility features into its software has become a highlight of its products. While many users may not need the accessibility features iOS and macOS provides, we can still benefit from the powers they hold. We’ve covered using the low light filter to lower iOS brightness even further, and hope you’ll find using Siri to read text useful as well.

Have you found yourself using any of iOS or macOS’ accessibility features? Let us know in the comments.

Amazon Echo tips and tricks: Getting a grip on Alexa



This is the coolest gadget for the home right now and Alexa is like Siri on steroids. Anyone who ones an Echo can tell you how much fun it can be and how surprisingly helpful it is to have around. If this is a preview of the “Smart Home” future, Sign.Me.Up!

By ELYSE BETTERS of Pocket lint

The Amazon Echo almost needs no introduction, that gateway to a world of connected fun. Posing as a cylindrical speaker, the Amazon Echo is likely to be one of the hottest gadgets of 2016, with Alexa getting in on the action as your new helpful AI assistant.

The Amazon Echo can make to-do lists, set alarms, stream podcasts, play audiobooks, read PDFs, provide weather forecasts, warn you of traffic, answer trivia, and serve up other information in real-time. 

We’ve been living with the Echo, Dot and Alexa for some time and here’s how to get the most out of this cool smart home accessory.

Amazon Echo: How does Echo work? 

The magic of the Amazon Echo comes from its connection. After a quick set-up process, which involves plugging it in, taking control of it via the Alexa app (Android, iPhone, Desktop) and connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network, Alexa will listen to your voice and respond accordingly, either returning information found online, or through a number of partners that work with the Amazon Echo.

You need to be online to use the Amazon Echo, but it’s simply a case of asking questions and issuing commands.

Amazon Echo: How many Echo models are there?
There are three different versions of the Amazon Echo:
Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon Echo Tap

The Echo is the full-sized speaker, the Dot provides the microphones and Bluetooth or physical connection to existing features and the Tap is a portable Bluetooth speaker (not available in the UK). 

We’ve broken down the different skills of these devices in a separate feature, explaining all the pros and cons if you need to know more.

Amazon Echo: Echo tips and tricks

Mute the “Alexa” wake word

Amazon Echo is always listening for the word “Alexa”. Whenever you say it, the Echo will listen, consider what you’re saying and respond. But if you don’t want the Echo to wake and respond, there’s a mute button on the top of the speaker that you can press to mute Alexa.
Press it again to unmute her. Simples.

Change Echo the wake word

If you happen to have someone in your house called “Alex” or similar, then you’ll find the Echo responds when you say that name too. You can choose another word, either Amazon or Echo. 

Head into the Alexa app > settings > select your Echo > Wake Word and pick a new word from the list.

How to control Amazon Echo through your browser
There are a couple ways you can control your Echo, as well as your to-do and shopping lists. The first, as we mentioned, is through the Alexa app. The second way is through the web. Just visit this site in your browser: http://echo.amazon.com and you’ll be able to log-in and control your device without needing a phone.

Change the default music service
The Echo is compatible with a range of music services, not only Amazon’s own. If you’d rather use Spotify, head into the Alexa app > Settings > Music & Media.
In this section you can link music accounts and pick the default. Then, when you say “Alexa, play Phil Collins” it will use Spotify rather than Amazon music, for example.

Add skills to Alexa

There are lots of things that the Echo will do by default, but sometimes you’ll have to enable a particular feature to get more. These are called skills, and basically give Alexa access to particular information. In the Alexa app head into Skills and you’ll find a range of compatible apps and features. It’s here you can enable control of your Hive heating or access to your BMW Connected app, for example. 

Setup Household Profiles
From the Amazon website you can link your family Prime accounts. With a feature called Household Profiles, you can add another adult to your Amazon Household to listen to either his or her content (for instance, music and audiobooks) and manage shared features (like lists).

Go to Settings, scroll down the page, and set up your Household. Shared members will have to download the Echo app and agree to join the household. You can also the app to setup your household too. More information about Household Profiles is at this support page.

Switch Amazon account profiles
Thanks to Household Profiles, Amazon Echo can be synced with more than one Amazon account. To find out which profile you’re currently using, say “Alexa, which profile am I using?” To switch profiles, say either “Alexa, switch profile” (moves to the next profile) or “Alexa, switch to David’s profile” (moves to the profile you named). More information about Household Profiles is at this support page.

Control a smart home device
You can control some smart home devices with Alexa (see a list of compatible devices here).
After you say “Discover my devices”, or use the Alexa app to discover and pair smart home devices, you can ask Alexa to do things like “Turn on/off [smart home device name]” or “Dim the light to [##] per cent” (see a list of commands here).
You can also setup groups (see here) so that saying “house lights” turns on/off several lamps. Alexa works with many common connected devices, like Philips Hue.

Force software updates
Amazon Echo has a CPU and software running it that needs updating. The speaker looks for updates every night, but if you want to force an update, just hit that same mute button we discussed earlier, then let Echo sit for at least 30 minutes, and the speaker will update.

Amazon Echo: What can you say to Alexa?
Here are some examples of things you can do with Echo/Alexa, along with links to their relevant Amazon support pages:
• Ask questions
• Check your calendar
• Control media playback on Bluetooth devices
• Control music with your voice
• Control smart home devices
• Discover and buy music
• Find local businesses and restaurants
• Find traffic information
• Get updates on the weather
• Go to the movies
• Hear the news
• Keep up with your favorite sports teams
• Keep track of important tasks and items to purchase
• Listen to audiobooks
• Listen to Prime Music
• Listen to stations, shows and more
• Read Kindle books
• Reorder products from Amazon
• Request music
• Set up alarms and timers

Amazon Echo: Are there any Easter eggs?
Alexa responds to a wide number of fun Easter eggs.
This Reddit thread aggregates several interesting commands you can issue to Alexa. We’ve picked out a few of the more interesting ones and listed them below, but not all will work in all locations:
“Simon says…”:
You can get Alexa to repeat anything you say if use the command “Alexa, Simon says…”
“Alexa, play Bingo”:
Look up and download some free printable bingo cards, and ask Alexa to start a Bingo game with you.
“Alexa, ask Word Master to play a game”:
This is like Geography. Alexa says a word, then you have to follow with a word that starts with the last letter of the word she said.
“Alexa, start Animal Game/Capital Quiz”:
This lets you play 20 questions about animals or geography.
“Alexa, start Star Wars quiz”
“Alexa, play Jeopardy”
Trivia geeks will love these game-show style questions. Don’t forget to answer in the form of a question.
“Alexa, roll the dice”
Missing the di to your board game? She’ll roll 6-sided, 10-sided, 20-sided, and other dice as well.
“Alexa, open the Wayne Investigation”
This starts a chose-your-own-adventure game that immerses you into the world of Gotham.

Amazon Echo: What are some funny questions to ask?

Ask Alexa these questions and we promise you’ll love her responses:

“Alexa, what does WTF stand for?”
• “Alexa, Up Up, Down Down, Left Right, Left Right, B, A, Start”
• “Alexa, how much is that doggy in the window?”
• “Alexa, Is Santa real?”
• “Alexa, do you know Hal?”
• “Alexa, Who shot first?”
• “Alexa, which came first: the chicken or the egg?”
• “Alexa, what is love?”

This website
 suggests more hilarious questions you can ask. 

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