This IT pilot fish and his co-workers have spent a week in heated discussions with the networking group. The subject: some major network problems between two particular sites. Why heated? Networking swears it can’t see any problems on the lines, so the problem must be with IT’s servers.
But fish and friends know better; at some points, the line between the two sites is dropping out completely.
It’s impossible to know how long the impasse might have lasted if someone at one of the sites hadn’t asked the networking people the right question: “Are we running on the emergency standby route?”
The reply: “Err, yes; shall we switch you back to the primary route now?”
Turns out that two weeks before, while the networking group was improving the link between the two sites, the sites were switched to the standby route. The improvements were completed, the network tested out perfectly — and no one remembered to switch the sites back to the original route.
“Every time we complained about the network fault,” sighs fish, “they were checking the primary route, which was saying everything was fine — especially since it had no traffic on it.”
After making the switch, the networking group checked the standby route, fish reports — and found a fault.”
When you’re shopping online for clothes and accessories, you can usually make a decent guess at what fits best due to sizing charts and knowing your own measurements. But what if you’re shopping online for other things? How do you ensure that you’ll get exactly what you need?
A start-up called Findation wants to help you find the right foundation color when you’re searching for makeup. They are an incredibly useful tool.
Here’s everything you need to know about the company and how to use its website.
Findation allows you to use the company’s website to find foundation colors that will look great on your skin. It does this by pulling color matches to the cosmetic brands that you already have on hand, using data that you enter through a series of dropdown menus.
They also have a merchant-only side to their service that specifically helps retailers foundation-match for their clients.
Note: Findation was an active start-up in the early 2010s, but their online activity on Facebook and Twitter has wound down significantly. The risk of outdated makeup information is higher.
2. Sign Up to Findation
When you use Findation, you don’t need to sign up for anything.
If you’re just looking to try out the service to see how it works, or you want to get a one-time recommendation on what foundations to buy, simply open the website and go from there. Findation’s handy dropdown list on the main page will help you find your foundation ASAP.
If you’re unsure of your choices, however, or you want to save your results, you can log into Findation using Twitter or Facebook to save your recommendations in Findation’s system.
Note: If you log out, you’ll need to start the selection process of narrowing down your foundation matches all over again.
3. Find Your Best Foundation Shade
To find your foundation matches, Findation will first ask you to enter the brand of foundation or concealer that you currently wear.
To locate your brand, you can either scroll through Findation’s massive list, or you can use the Search function.
I use Missha, but “M” is far down the list. I typed the name of my cosmetic brand into the search bar to quickly pull it up instead.
Note: If your favorite brands are not on the list, you can let Findation know that it needs to be added. Otherwise, it’s likely that in the hundreds of brands offered, you’ll find at least one or two that you’ve used before.
After you pick out your brand, Findation is going to ask you for the specific name of your concealer or foundation. Once again, you can scroll through the list, or use the search bar to quickly pull up your product.
I typically use various types of BB Cream, so I typed in “BB” to find my product. They didn’t have my current favorite, but they did have a product that I’ve tried out before and really enjoyed: M Signature Real Complete BB Cream.
It’s not perfect, but it’ll do. I added it as a close alternative for this article.
Once you pick out your individual product, Findation will ask you to name the shade of the product that you use.
This part is important, as it will help you find your foundation color match with more accuracy. After all, there’s no point in using this service if it gives you a recommendation that is wildly different from your own skin tone. It just won’t work.
When you pick your shade, Findation will automatically take you to a screen where it will tell you that it’s “calculated your matches based on what you’re currently using.” Underneath that, it will tell you the name of the product that it’s drawing the data from.
Tips on Finding the Right Color Match
For best results, Findation recommends that you add as many different products as you can, provided they are all a good match for your skin, and you’ve entered the details correctly.
If you want to add another product, click on Add another match.
If you don’t want to add another product, click on Find my matches anyway. It will take you to the results.
If you don’t know the details of your product, such as its specific shade, don’t guess. Makeup is expensive, so it’s better to read the label first.
Don’t enter details for a foundation or concealer that wasn’t right for your skin. If you wouldn’t buy the product again, the data is irrelevant.
If you’re only entering details for foundations that are sheer or tinted moisturizers, you won’t be able to get a good result for a full-coverage foundation.
Make sure you enter at least one full-coverage foundation to your list.
For people who use a different foundation shade in the summer or winter, it’s recommended that you choose a product that works best for you year-round.
4. Your Findation Results
Once you’ve entered at least two to three foundations, Findation will be able to make a good recommendation about which foundation shades will suit you. Each result in the list will have:
The brand name.
The product name.
A picture of the product.
While you’re on the results page, you can find a specific brand faster by clicking on Look for a match in a specific product. If you’re contemplating a particular product and just trying to narrow down the shade you should buy, this option is ideal for you.
On the right side of each search result, you’ll see a button that says Tried It?
If you’ve tried this product before and either loved it or hated it, you can improve further matches for everyone by clicking on the text and giving Findation your feedback.
Explore Product Details
Under each search result, there will also be a blue button where it will tell you if your product is available. If you click on this button, you will be taken to the product’s individual page. There, you’ll find out more about it.
Here, you can see a picture of the product and an excerpt on what it’s for. You’ll also see a list of locations where you can buy the product if it’s still available. That list of locations is at the bottom of the page.
Next to the product being listed, there will be a collection of related products that you might be interested in. You can buy them through Amazon.
Finding new glasses that fit your face is a chore and a half, and often an expensive one. Even though a large percentage of the population has to wear glasses, finding the right frames can remain frustratingly tough.
Fortunately, there has been a rise in online “frame finder” services that allow you to add glasses to your photo. The purpose of these virtual booths? To help you pick out your eyewear for free.
Here’s a list of the best websites that allow you to find picture-perfect glasses.
In truth, this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about finding sunglass photo editors. Back in 2009, we wrote about FrameFinder: an online application that lets you browse through glasses and virtually try them on.
If you were planning to buy eyeglasses or sunglasses and you weren’t sure if they fit, FrameFinder had a solution. The website was simple to use: first, you created an account, then you uploaded your picture.
After that, you followed step-by-step instructions to put sunglasses on a picture.
FrameFinder is currently unavailable, but in its place, we’ve found newer sites like Vint and York. Vint and York is a New York-based company. It has a “Virtual try-on” feature that works in a similar manner.
Vint and York’s try-on feature is easy to use. To add glasses to a photo, go to the website. From there:
Click Try on frames to browse through the catalog.
Find a pair of glasses that you like.
Press View Details on the individual pair of glasses.
Click the Virtual try-on button.
You can either take a picture of yourself with your webcam or upload a picture of yourself from your device:
Note: Not all frames will be available for a Virtual try-on. The website lets you know which ones are available and which ones aren’t.
Vint and York has a ton of great reviews, and you can browse for glasses by filtering through product lines, your face shape, style of glasses, or color.
The company also has a men’s and women’s look book, where you can draw inspiration for your own style.
Under the Customer Care section, Vint and York has detailed instructions on how it handles shipping and returns.
There is also a general FAQ on the company’s products and the materials they use.
The cool thing about this website? Vint and York specializes in “vintage-inspired and retro eyeglasses and sunglasses.” So if you’re looking for a pair of frames that are stylish, this website is a great place to start.
Like Vint and York, EyeBuyDirect is another retail store that lets you add glasses to your photo online. The company takes great pride in the fact that the entire manufacturing line is done in-house.
EyeBuyDirect’s ultimate goal is to make shopping for glasses as easy as possible. This is especially true if it’s from the comfort of your own home.
If we’re talking style, the company does its best to create glasses with a “sleek, modern look.”
Using EyeBuyDirect as a glasses or sunglasses photo editor online is very easy. After you pick the frames that you like, click the Try On button when you move your cursor over the glasses on-screen.
Once you click it, you can import a photo of yourself.
Make sure the picture has your head at a fairly level angle, and that you’re not looking away from the camera. This makes the glasses match as closely as possible to your face.
Once you upload your photo, make sure the “crosses” are properly positioned over your eyes to place the glasses. After that, try on the frames!
EyeBuyDirect will help you find a frame style that looks good on your face.
It has an amazing Buy 1 Give 1 program that donates glasses to people who can’t afford them.
EyeBuyDirect’s 365-Day Product Guarantee also allows customers to get a replacement pair of glasses within a 12 month period if there are “clear defects in material and workmanship.”
GlassesUSA is a massive website that offers thousands of spec styles, ranging from no-name sunglasses and daily eyewear to designer brands.
To meet this demand for failing vision, GlassesUSA has created a budget-friendly, easy-to-use service that can be quickly accessed online. It’s the perfect way to find a glasses photo editor if you ever need it.
Alongside its regular retail features, the company has a virtual booth to help you pick out the best frames for your face.
After you find the frames that you like, click the Try On button. Then upload a picture from your device. Follow the in-house instructions to adjust the frames.
While I was trying out this service, I loved how many different styles of glasses the website had to offer. It was also nice to see how closely the glasses mapped to my face.
The instructions for adding glasses to your picture were easy to follow. If you like the look of the frames—and you have your prescription on hand—you can buy the glasses then and there.
Don’t get tricked into spending hours on treats. Whether you’re seeking spooky sweets or savory snacks, we’ve got 10 things you can throw together fast. And they’re all perfect for that Halloween party you forgot all about.
Maybe it’s Thursday evening, and you just found a flyer in your son’s backpack that says he needs to bring thirty Halloween-themed treats to school on Friday. Or perhaps you forgot you told your neighbor you’d be in charge of snacks at this year’s block party.
Whatever the case, fall is a busy time of year, and there’s no shame in running out of time for homemade candied apples or from-scratch pumpkin pies.
With so many easy treat ideas floating around, you can put together a creepy culinary creation in less time than it takes to wrap a toilet-paper mummy. We’ve put together our 10 favorite ideas to make Halloween yummies in a hurry.
So, don’t worry about that party you forgot. Stop stressing over the fifty marshmallow spiderwebs you planned to prepare. Instead, use our handy list to create some simple, spooky snacks—fast!
Nothing starts a party off right like a solid selection of finger foods. These grab-and-go options are sure to delight adults and children alike, and they don’t take more than 10 minutes to make.
Pumpkin Pie Dip: Save the chips and salsa for summer and make this festive take on chips and dip, instead. Ready in just five minutes, it’s perfect for a last-minute gathering.
Celery Snails and Caterpillars: These little guys are a hit with younger ghouls and goblins, but we guarantee older spirits will enjoy them, as well. They just celery and peanut butter, but we can’t get enough of these cute creepy-crawlies.
Halloween is all about the sweets. Brownies and bakes are fun, but we love these super-speedy ideas even better.
Spider Oreo Pops: You use store-bought cookies for this treat, so it comes together faster than a spider spins its web. They’re super-quick to make, but they’ll disappear from the treat table even faster.
Halloween Owls: These are almost too cute to eat—but not quite. This sweet fall treat works for any autumn-themed festival or event, but it’s also perfect for Halloween. We don’t know “who” they’re looking for, but you have to admit, the question’s a little eerie.
Everyone loves the friend who liberally brings libations to the party. Trust us: punch, cider, and hot chocolate are easy to prepare and always welcome at a monster mash.
Spooky Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate: So, yes, this one takes two hours to make, but it’s only five minutes of work. If you can, just take the slow cooker with you to the party. Plug it in on the treat table, and then let your cauldron boil and bubble until this dessert is ready.
Spooky Halloween Party Punch: With a little forethought, you can really “punch up” this punch. Freeze some water in plastic gloves, and then float the frozen, skeletal hands in this sweet, fizzy punch. Will anyone be brave enough to steal a sip?
If you forgot about a party, or you’re just too busy to devote much time to making treats, try one of our 10 tasty, last-minute options for Halloween. They’re guaranteed to please every monster at the mash or every spirit at the seance.
Smart locks are a great addition to the smarthome. But they usually require a hub for remote access and often that even means a full smarthome system. The Schlage Encode smart lock changes all that. Anyone can use it.
Here’s What We Like
Easy to install
Quieter than other locks
No hub required
And What We Don’t
No scheduled locking
Satin numbers are hard to see
Google Assistant commands lacking
I’ve been using a Schlage Z-wave Connect deadbolt for years. It’s reliable, works well, and super convenient to have. I don’t even carry around house keys anymore because I don’t need them. The keypad means I can unlock the door even when my hands are full, and scheduling features let me stay in bed without worrying if I remembered to lock up.
But it’s not a perfect lock. For one, it’s bulky and loud. And for two, it requires a Z-wave hub for any remote capability. That’s fine for me, a smarthome expert, but not great for any of my friends or family who aren’t ready to jump in the deep end of smarthomes just yet.
The Schlage Encode fixes all of that. It’s smaller, quieter, easier to install, and doesn’t require any other smarthome tech to work. The thing is darn near perfect. How near? I already recommended it to my in-laws who don’t like smarthome tech, and they love it too.
Smaller and Easier to Install
Smart locks have two components that make them mildly more challenging to install than a standard lock. The keypad on the front, which requires running power cables through the lock cavity. And the battery and circuitry box, which goes on the inside of your door. What’s impressive about the Schlage Encode is how much smaller it is than the Z-Wave Connect. And that size makes the install easier.
I’ve installed quite a few smart locks over the years. For the most part, they’re not much more challenging to install than a standard door lock. The hardest part is keeping the pieces in place while you’re driving screws that attach the lock to the door. Usually, the components are so heavy they want to fall out. That leaves you trying to awkwardly clamp it with one hand while driving screws with the other. It’s not impossible, but it’s awkward and mildly frustrating.
The Schlage Encode doesn’t have that problem at all. It just sticks in place while you work on getting everything centered and aligned. That made installing the lock so easy I finished in less than ten minutes. When I recommended the Encode to my sister-in-law, my wife put in the lock for her. She’s never installed a smart lock (or any lock) before and came away impressed with how simple it was.
Unlike a lot of other locks, you don’t need to install a bridge or Wi-Fi adapter for remote access. Nor do you need to pair to a smarthome hub. The lock contains everything you need, and that makes the entire setup process far easier.
One thing that stood out to me is how quiet this lock is. Smart locks work by using a motor to turn the lock components. With the older Schlage Connect, the sound of the motor is loud and jarring. I have a scheduled routine that locks the door at 10 P.M. every night, and it always startles me (my front door leads to my living room). The Encode is quiet. I can still hear it, but it’s nowhere near as distracting or disruptive.
I also appreciate that the keypad has a dedicated lock button and Home button. With the older Connect lock, I need to press the Schlage logo to either light up the keypad (if the door is locked) or lock the door. That’s unintuitive, and it was ages before I figured it out. On the newer model, the Home button lights up the keypad if you’re trying to unlock the door in the dark and the lock button, unsurprisingly, locks the door. That’s much more intuitive.
That’s because the app is very well put together. When you open the app after pairing, the first thing you see is a big lock symbol you can push to lock and unlock the door. That’s the main to reason to open the app, so having it right there is perfect.
But Schlage didn’t stop there; the app gives you some great controls. When you dig into the settings, you can create and name lock codes to hand out to friends and family. And when you create a lock code, you can set it to expire automatically or specific times when it will work. That feature is great if you have a cleaning service, or you don’t want to give your extended family access to the home at all hours of the day.
The app comes with notifications that let you know when the door is locked and unlocked, and whether it was by turning the latch or using code, including the name you gave it.
Between the built-in Wi-Fi and the fantastic app, this lock has everything you need to install it in your home, even if you don’t have any other smarthome devices. And that’s great for people who don’t want a voice assistant like Alexa or Google in their homes or want to mess around with complicated smarthome hubs.
A Few Flaws
While the Schlage Encode is very close to perfect, it just misses the mark. For instance, it’s disappointing that the app doesn’t have scheduled locking (say, lock the door every morning at 8 A.M). You can set an auto-lock to lock the door automatically after a specific set of time (30 seconds up to 4 minutes)—but that’s not quite the same.
I walk my son to the bus in the morning, so I don’t want the door to lock when I know I’m coming back in ten minutes. But I do want it to lock automatically every night. I reached out to Schlage, and the company let me know it’s considering adding that capability in the future. I hope the company does, as this feels like a significant missing feature.
I did find that if you have Alexa paired to the Wi-Fi-powered Schlage Encode you can set up a routine to lock the door on a scheduled basis. Unfortunately, Google Assistant routines won’t let you lock the door currently, nor can you ask it to unlock the door.
Schlage tells me that Google doesn’t provide APIs for those commands, and it’s up to the company to create them from scratch. Although Schlage wouldn’t give me a date, it did assure me that adding those features to Google Assistant pairing was in the works. None of that helps you if you don’t want a voice assistant in your home.
It’s worth mentioning that the older Z-wave powered Schlage Connect lock does have scheduling features, through the connected hub you use with it.
Finally, my wife doesn’t like the keypad on this lock. The numbers are a very soft grey and set against an almost white background. She says when the sun is shining directly on the keypad, the numbers are hard to see. I don’t have the issue, but I have 20/20 vision. If you think that might be a problem for you Schlage also sells the lock in a dark bronze color scheme.
Great If You Don’t Own a Smarthome (or Even If You Do)
I’m am an admitted smarthome loving geek. And my very first smarthome device was a Z-wave smart lock (and a Wink hub to make it work). I think smart locks are a great way to get into smarthomes that have immediately tangible benefits. But until now, that did require a desire to own a smarthome.
My sister-in-law, on the other hand, does not care for smarthome tech. She absolutely will not install Alexa or Google speakers in her home. And until recently, she would mute them when she came to stay with us.
Despite that, she saw the benefits to a smart lock. It does nearly everything she needs and doesn’t require any other smarthome devices. Overall she’s happy with the lock, and that’s high praise coming from someone who typically shuns smart gadgets. Her only complaint is the lack of scheduled locking.
Even as a full smarthome user, I’m pretty happy with the lock. Thanks to Alexa, I can do everything with it, including scheduling, that I could with my Z-wave lock. And my hub doesn’t have an option for temporary codes that only work during certain hours, so the Encode does more!
Add in that it’s smaller, quieter, and easier to install, and you can call this a nearly perfect smart lock. And the fact that I’m willing to recommend this to family, knowing I’m the resident tech guy who will be called on when something goes wrong, should tell you everything you need to know.
If you’re a guitarist who longs for the perfect practice rig, you need to do yourself a favor and look at the iRig Micro Amp by IK Multimedia. It’s an ultra-portable solid-state amp that packs a big punch.
Here’s What We Like
Sounds excellent for its tiny size
Can be powered by an adapter or with AA batteries for maximum portability
Amp sims make it incredibly versatile
And What We Don’t
Build quality feels less than sturdy
AC Adapter isn’t included
Little Amp, Big Sound
The iRig Micro Amp is a tiny little thing, measuring just 5x8x6.5 inches in its entirety. It has a 4-inch speaker and 15 watts of total power when powered by an optional 9-volt power supply or 7 watts of power with six AA batteries. Either way you go, the power is on you—neither the batteries nor the power adapter is included. The good news is that I was able to use a regular power adapter from a pedal to juice it up, which is convenient. For what it’s worth, it also worked fine with the power supply on my pedalboard.
On its own, the Micro Amp has three channels—clean, drive, and lead—along with a shared three-band EQ (bass, mid, treble) and dedicated volume and gain controls. Like most little amps, it features AUX-in for playing along with external sources and a headphone out for late-night jam sessions. Oh, and get this—it has a cab out on the back. Yeah, you can hook this little bastard up to a full 4×12 cabinet (or any other cab) if you want. That’s nuts!
The iRig Micro’s speaker out, AC input, and battery bay.
Much to my surprise, all three channels sound good right out of the box. The cleans are very glassy and smooth (even with normally harsh pickups), the drive channel offers very usable dirty tones for gritty rock rhythms, and the lead channel boosts the gain to provide a metal tone that I honestly wasn’t expecting. With the gain knob at about 3 o’clock, you can get some pretty devastating tone (for a 4-inch speaker, anyway) that should be able to hang with the heaviest stuff you want to play, especially just for practice.
Amp Sims Provide Maximum Versatility
The excellent bundled tone is really just a bonus because the Micro Amp’s real benefit is the fact that it pairs up with an iOS device, Mac computer, or Windows PC to leverage popular amp sims like Amplitube or Jamup. Once connected to an outside source, the onboard controls are totally disabled, save for volume.
And that’s where the Micro Amp really shines. When paired up with an external source running whatever amp sim you prefer (IK Multimedia designed the Micro Amp with Amplitube in mind, but it works fine with other apps) the sky is pretty much the limit. If you already have a bunch of custom amps and presets designed in your amp sim, you can break them out of the headphones or monitors and easily take them with you wherever you want. Theoretically, I guess you could even gig with it using the Micro Amp’s cab out, though I’m not sure anyone would really want to do that. (I’m sure someone does.)
At this point, you can damn near make the Micro Amp do what you want out of it—tweak your tone in the software, and the amp will respond accordingly. I mean, it’s just working as a speaker at that point anyway. But that’s really what I think is cool about the Micro Amp: sure, it’s just the speaker being driven by software, but it’s a well-tuned speaker for this sort of application. It just sounds so damn good for such a bitty little thing.
For comparison, I have Boss Katana head (which is such a killer modeling head on its own) that has a pair of four-inch speakers for standalone use, and the Micro Amp absolutely crushes it in terms of sound quality. The Katana is a monster through my 2×12 cab but sounds like crap on its own. I originally got it so I could use the head as a standalone practice setup at night, but I hate the tone of the tiny speakers so much I never use it without the cab. The Micro Amp is the perfect solution for practice—it’s small and not incredibly loud, but most importantly, it sounds great. I don’t care if I’m just practicing—I don’t want to play with garbage tone. Ever.
Probably Don’t Use it For Gigging Though
For giggles, I decided to try the cabinet output on the Micro Amp. I paired it up to my Avatar 2×12 (with Vintage 30s) to see what it could do. The built-in tones offered more of the same—usable tones, albeit with more oomph than the 4-inch speaker could provide. When paired up with the iPad, however, well, the experience wasn’t as great. Things sound fantastic from the little 4-incher (again, recognizing the fact that this is a four-inch speaker and has limitations) but when pushed through the 2×12 cabinet, it just sounds…bad. It’s very distant and tiny sounding, almost like it’s coated in layers of reverb then pushed through an AM filter. But whatever, I can’t think of a practical use for this, so it was mostly just for fun.
Really, the Micro Amp isn’t about getting massive tones through a cabinet (so I’m honestly not sure why there’s a cab out in the first place?), it’s about what it is: a micro amp. It’s a portable, powerful practice rig that is just as at home on your desk as it is on vacation.
But that’s the other thing: if you take one on vacation, you’ll probably want to be careful with it. While I wouldn’t call it “fragile” by any means, it’s pretty clear that this little amp isn’t designed to take a beating—the plastic shell feels like it could get broken pretty easily if you, I dunno, get too into your jams and kick it down a flight of stairs or whatever. It should be fine if you don’t throw it around (it’s tiny, so that’s tempting), but I figured it’s worth noting that it doesn’t feel super robust.
But Yeah, This is My New Favorite Practice Rig
I’m a “bedroom guitarist” (well, I play in my office, but whatever) most of the time, but I still love my head and 2×12 cab. Sure, it’s overkill most of the time, but it sounds so good. It’s also loud as hell, so it limits my playing hours. I’ve tried a bunch of different practice amps and pretty much hated them all. Little amps—especially modelers—sound like crap most of the time.
That’s what makes the iRig Micro Amp so impressive. It’s a killer little rig on its own, but once you pair it up with your favorite amp sim, it’s one of the best little practice amps around. With the right software, there’s almost nothing it can’t do.
Here’s What We Like
Sounds excellent for its tiny size
Can be powered by an adapter or with AA batteries for maximum portability
Planning a wedding is stressful. After all, it is one of the biggest events of your life, and it doesn’t come cheap. You have to pay for a venue, party favors, vendors, decorations, a wedding dress, and a tuxedo.
Instead of hiring a pricey planner to organize your wedding for you, why not take matters into your own hands? The following wedding planner apps can help you in all aspects of planning your big day.
1. The Knot
The Knot is a wedding planner that fits in the palm of your hands. It allows you to plan even the most finite details of your wedding, including a website, budget, and registry.
When you first open the app, The Knot will ask you several questions to help personalize your experience. Add a wedding location, the day you got engaged, and the expected wedding date.
From there, The Knot directs you to a dashboard that provides you with a checklist and suggested reception venues (if you haven’t chosen one yet). Want to make sure your wedding stays on track? Take advantage of the app’s built-in schedule to ensure your wedding goes smoothly.
Like The Knot, LadyMarry will ask you a set of preliminary questions once you sign up. It provides a wedding countdown timer to get you even more excited as the big day draws closer. It immediately creates a wedding checklist that encourages you to book a venue, start inviting guests, figure out wedding photographer, purchase outfits, and choose flowers.
If you opt to book any services through LadyMarry, it will redirect you to a third-party website like Thumbtack or Yelp. As you go through the planning process, the app also provides you with helpful tips and tricks for your wedding.
MyWed offers a more straightforward approach to planning your wedding. It doesn’t come with a built-in ability to find vendors, but it still allows you to contact them through the app once you input their information. Basically, it functions as a virtual address book.
The app also helps you keep track of your budget. Just input any expenses, along with how much you’ve already paid and an estimate of the amount you might spend. Additionally, MyWed gives you an easy-to-follow checklist to make sure you plan out your wedding essentials (like a bachelor party and a bridal shower) before the date of the wedding.
Download: MyWed Wedding Planner for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
4. Wedding Planner
Wedding Planner’s user-friendly design makes it simple to add any events you need to get done, along with expenses, vendor contacts, and guests. If you don’t feel like adding every single event to your checklist, Wedding Planner adds defaults. Thus you won’t have to create events for your engagement party or budget research; you’ll just have to adjust the due dates.
Wedding Planner also gives you a rundown of your actual wedding day. While you can always customize it, the schedule comes pre-loaded with events for the whole day, starting from the moment you wake up to the second you cut the cake.
, flowers, cakes, and rings. The app even gives you the opportunity to talk with other engaged couples in the process of planning.
When you’re ready to start making a budget, WeddingWire allows you to set up an estimated cost, as well as the prices of any services you’re using. You can even add guests, establish a registry, keep track of vendors, create a wedding website, and invite your fiancé to the app in order to help you plan.
Bridebook helps you plan your wedding months in advance. It automatically gives you detailed tasks to complete each month before the wedding date. Bridebook prompts you to check off assignments like inviting guests, picking a venue, and choosing bridesmaid dresses. This way, you won’t forget about any wedding essentials.
You can also use Bridebook as a budgeting tool. Once you add your target budget, input the number of guests, determine the season of your wedding, and decide whether to purchase extra wedding services, Bridebook will generate the amount you should spend on each aspect. This tool can definitely help you prevent overspending or underspending on certain items, all while maintaining your budget.
With Zola, you can create both a wedding registry and a website. Zola gives you several amazing website design options, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of making one yourself.
You can also use Zola to add gifts to your registry. The app lets you shop around for kitchen goods, home essentials, travel accessories, gift cards, furniture, and bathroom basics. Once you find an item you like, you can add that specific product directly to your registry.
Like the other apps on this list, Zola allows you to plan out your entire wedding. You can add events, view a wedding to-do list, and even plan your honeymoon.
As soon as you add your planned wedding date into the app, WeddingHappy automatically generates tasks for you to complete beforehand. In addition to its comprehensive to-do list, WeddingHappy also helps you track your payments and set a budget.
If you haven’t booked any vendors yet, use WeddingHappy to do so. Simply enter your wedding’s location and view nearby florists, photographers, bands, venues, and more. WeddingHappy lets you get other people involved in the planning process as well—add them via email to keep them updated on your progress.
Download: WeddingHappy for iOS | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Become Your Own Wedding Planner
You don’t need to hire a professional wedding planner when you use one of these apps. A wedding planner app can guide you through the entire planning process, even if you don’t know where to begin.
A journal app is not just a place to put down your personal thoughts at the end of the day. It’s an efficient work planner in disguise, and you can use it to boost your professional or personal productivity with our starter tips below.
1. Use the Calendar to Plan Ahead and Stay Focused
A good journal app is sure to come with an in-built calendar, and you can use that to visualize your day, week, month, or even the entire year easily. (We recommend using an app that lets you create entries in the future.)
The default journal that goes with each date can hold a basic to-do list or a list of your MITs (Most Important Tasks). If you fill it up for the entire week or month, you can jump to any date for that phase and get a clear picture of your priorities on any given day.
You’ll find that the calendar setup keeps your focus on the here and now, and ensures that you take things one day at a time.
Some apps add markers to distinguish between days with and without journal entries. You can use this feature to track your productivity by deleting the entries for days on which you haven’t met your goals. (Move the corresponding notes to a different location.) This approach helps if visual cues motivate you to do better.
2. Set Up a Journal Template for Your Daily To-Do List
Planning ahead is necessary, but so is making room for the reality of ever-changing tasks and priorities. That’s where the daily to-do list plays an important role. It helps you revise your plans for tomorrow while taking into account what has gone on today.
For your daily planner, you might want to start with a journal template to save time.
Typical journal templates prompt you with questions about how you spent your day. But here, we suggest starting with a template that focuses on how you want to spend your day. A custom template works best.
You can get specific with your planning and use prompts like:
What is THE ONE THING that I absolutely need to accomplish today?
My top three tasks in order of priority:
What primary goal will I work towards today?
If you prefer a fluid approach, outline your tasks as you envision them. In other words, capture the work-related conversation you’re having with yourself inside your head. If you’re not sure how to proceed with this, take a cue from Cal Newport’s weekly plan. Feel free to add affirmations or inspiring quotes and images to liven up your plans for the day.
Be sure to work on each day’s to-do list entry the day before, so you don’t waste time in the morning deciding what to work on next. To turn this planning task into a habit, use the reminder feature of your journal app for a timely alert.
3. Create Multiple Journals to Stay Organized
If you go with an app that supports multiple journals and tags, it can double up as a proper notes app. Look for a solution with advanced formatting options, Markdown support, writing stats, etc. depending on the kind of note-taking you plan to do.
Multiple entries will make it easy to sort your thought processes into logical boxes. One journal can hold your task lists and another, say, the main idea, draft, report, and such that you’re working on.
You can also create a separate journal to use as a dedicated scratchpad. Store useful text snippets, email drafts, the odd brain wave, etc. in this journal during the course of the day. If you want, a single journal entry can work as the scratchpad for the entire month. Be sure to move its contents to your regular note-taking app at the end of the day.
4. Record Your Completed Tasks
Wrap up each day with a “Done” list, which contains only those tasks that you have completed or made progress on during the day. It’s a positive way to look at your workday, without berating yourself for tasks you’ve left undone.
You can add relevant files or snapshots of your work to your “Done” list to serve as reminders about your capabilities in future moments of self-doubt.
5. Add Personal Notes
Your days are as much about your ideas, thoughts, and emotions as they are about your work. So adding a personal touch to your work journal wouldn’t be amiss.
Feel free to create a dedicated journal entry to list highlights from your personal life, express your gratitude, or to reflect on your day. If your journal app supports audio input, your personal diary can be a series of oral recordings instead of textual entries.
For all you know, you might stumble upon a solution to a work problem when you’re making these personal entries. That’s how your brain works after all—connecting dots in the most bizarre ways when you aren’t looking.
How to Use Evernote as a Bullet Journal There are many ways to use calendars and to-do apps. Take Evernote, a journaling system called the Bullet Journal, and no coding experience whatsoever, to create a completely tailored organization system for yourself. Read More
If the color on your display doesn’t look quite right, it might not be your eyes. Many displays need to be adjusted, which is a process called calibration. The SpyderX Pro from datacolor makes calibration easy!
Here’s What We Like
Easy to use
Gives the most accurate color the display is capable of
Works with multiple monitors and PCs
Provides before and after calibration comparisons
And What We Don’t
Operating system or graphics card calibration is usually enough for most displays
That’s Not the Right Color!
Most of us have looked at a photo on a monitor and thought, “There’s something a bit off with the color.” It’s especially frustrating when you’ve spent serious money on your monitor and expect near-perfect color reproduction.
While manufacturers have a general idea of the way its monitors display colors, your particular monitor might not conform exactly to the vendor’s profile. This can be because of manufacturing tolerances, or just because the monitor’s response changes as the display and its internal components age.
But how do you know if your monitor is displaying the colors in your file correctly? And if it isn’t, how do you fix it? I tested one solution—the SpyderX Pro calibration tool from datacolor.
Bridge the Gap
Without getting technical, there are times when the software expects the monitor to display a particular color, and the monitor misinterprets that color and displays something close to it. This makes the image appear a bit “off.” Or, the monitor might think it’s displaying the color, but because of the factors detailed above, it’s not. There’s a disconnect between the color values in the file you’re working on, and what you see on the display.
The industry became aware of this pretty early on and developed a method of tweaking the display file, so it aligned better with the actual image file. This was done under the auspices of the International Color Consortium (ICC), and the results are called ICC Profiles. An ICC Profile adjusts a graphic file to the known characteristics of a peripheral device, such as your monitor.
For most people, the ICC display profile supplied by the monitor vendor is sufficient to give you acceptable images. You might not need a more specialized device to get acceptable color.
But if you want the best color output possible from your display, you can create your own display profile. And one of the best (and easiest to use) tools for that is datacolor’s SpyderX Pro.
Another Piece of Hardware?
The SpyderX Calibration tool comes in two models—I tested the more reasonably priced Pro version. But if you really want to fine-tune your display to its absolute best, there’s a SpyderX Elite that’s about $100 more. The only difference between the two models is the software—the calibration tool is the same for both.
The Elite model is marketed toward photographers and other graphics professionals. The Pro model is more of a “prosumer” device, for the serious designer or photographer who doesn’t need all the advanced features of the Elite. It’s available for both Mac and Windows computers.
The calibrator hangs over your monitor, and the software displays test colors. The sensor in the calibrator interprets the test colors. The software then computes the difference between what the color frequency should be and what is displayed. An ICC Profile is created to make the conversion, so each of the basic primary colors (Red, Blue, Green) displays correctly. The custom profile then installs on your computer, and you’re good to go!
Perform a Calibration
After you install and launch the software, it’s time to position the calibration tool. The small, semi-triangular sensor hangs in front of the screen. It has a lens cover that—when removed—becomes a counterweight for the sensor, so it remains stationary on the screen throughout the calibration process.
The software shows you where to hang the sensor to begin the calibration process, which takes you through a series of operations.
As you get started, the software displays a flowchart on the left, which shows where you are in the process. The steps that perform the calibration are in the center, and interactive help is available on the right.
You can run a new calibration, a recalibration, or a check to see if you even need to calibrate. Once you’re familiar with it, the entire calibration process only takes about two minutes. So, you’ll probably recalibrate the monitor every time you use the SpyderX Pro.
The sensor measures the light level of the room and walks you through how to use the monitor’s controls to set the brightness. The rest of the calibration consists of a series of screens that flash different levels of the three primary colors. This is the actual process of calibration. The software measures the difference between what your monitor displays and the actual color values.
After the software flashes all its test screens, it computes and creates a new custom profile for your display in just a few seconds. The software notifies you after it completes the new profile and automatically installs it. Your display is now calibrated and produces much more accurate color.
The screenshots below show examples of colors before the calibration and after.
There’s a subtle, but noticeable, difference in the way some colors are displayed. In the uncalibrated display on the left, the reds and oranges appear muted; they’re noticeably brighter in the calibrated display.
It’s the same in the color panels in the four corners of the color matrix images. If you’ve gotten used to the slightly “off” colors, you might think the calibrated display looks oversaturated at first. It might take some time to get used to the new display response.
Once the display is calibrated, you can see a graphic of the display’s color gamut. This graph shows which colors are in the color space, and which of these the monitor can display, both before and after the calibration. Note that a more expensive ($500-plus) IPS monitor performs much better and usually has a larger color space than a cheap one from a big box store.
You can select which color space you generally work in from the four choices on the right. Most likely, only professional photographers or graphic designers will have much use for this information.
Does Calibration Matter?
Not everyone needs to calibrate their display to the extent offered by the datacolor SpyderX Pro. If you have a cheaper monitor, and you rarely edit images or do any graphic design, this device is probably overkill. The built-in calibration capabilities of your operating system or graphics card will probably serve you well.
But if you’ve spent hundreds (or even $1,000) on a high-end display, you owe it to yourself to make sure it’s functioning as perfectly as possible. Even if you’re not a professional, and you just want the best, most accurate images on your display, the SpyderX Pro is an excellent way to do that.
Here’s What We Like
Easy to use
Gives the most accurate color the display is capable of
Works with multiple monitors and PCs
Provides before and after calibration comparisons
And What We Don’t
Operating system or graphics card calibration is usually enough for most displays
The tickler file is an oddly named filing system that dates back to the early 20th century but is still an incredibly useful organizational tool today. Here’s how to set one up.
What’s a Tickler File?
If you’re looking to simplify your life and keep on top of daily tasks, we suggest creating a tickler system, often referred to as a tickler file. The name is a play on words of sorts, as you use the system to send reminders to your future self and “tickle” your memory.
The system itself, which we’ll examine in detail in a moment, is incredibly trivial to set up as it’s merely a collection of physical folders with labels. You place things (like bills you need to pay, concert tickets, a form for your child’s field trip, or any other date-sensitive materials) in the folders and attend to them at the approach time—all thanks to the reminder the system provides. Basically, you save your brain the work of stressing about a specific detail that needs to happen in the future. You also reduce the chances that you’ll forget important tasks, or that the reminder will get lost in the digital ether.
In today’s high-tech world, with access to a wide array of apps and calendar reminders, using a tickler system seems almost archaic. But believe us, having a visual filing system, with handwritten notes and papers to touch, activates your brain in a highly effective way.
How to Create a Tickler File
You need at least 43 filing folders to get started, as well as a way to hold those files. We suggest using an open box or hanging rack—don’t use a traditional filing drawer as out-of-sight often means out-of-mind. Keep your tickler system within reach, and visible!
The folders need to be labeled 1-31, accounting for each day of the month. Then you label the remaining folders for the months, January through December. Using brightly colored folders will help grab your attention.
You need to position the folders with the upcoming days first, followed by the upcoming months. For example, if today is August 10, place that folder at the front, with 11-31 directly behind it. Then the months would be filed behind the numbered days.
As you lift today’s folder, open the contents, and complete the items inside. At the end of the day, move today’s folder to the back of the stack. If your to-do list requires tasks to be done months from now, you can file them in the appropriate month’s folder. Then at the start of each month, you can split up all the contents into the designated days. So, for example, anything related to Halloween should be put in October, but then when October arrives, you can organize the Halloween items into the various day folders accordingly leading up to the holiday.
Some people like to create extra folders for specific categories, such as “bills to pay,” “vacation ideas,” “gifts to buy,” and so on—but it’s easy to dilute the simple power of the tickler system with too many folders, so we suggest keeping it simple until you have the basic routine down.
For regularly occurring events, write them out on index cards or Post-It notes. For example, if your child has to bring in a snack to preschool once a week, then write it out on a card, moving it along to the following week after you’ve completed it. Make sure to place it in a folder a couple of days before it needs to be completed, so you allow enough time to go grocery shopping.
You can also create labels for days of the weeks, attaching them to the first seven folders.
Once your tickler system is all in place and ready to go, the hardest part is making sure you check it every day. Here are a few keys for success.
Place it near your work station: Make sure to set up your tickler system right next to your work desk. We don’t recommend storing it in a pull-out filing system or tucking it away in a closet. Visibility is key here.
Use digital reminders: Even though the tickler system works because it’s a paper system, you may need to set digital reminders in the beginning. Set up a daily reminder on your phone, email, or whatever works for you saying, “Check Tickler Box!” And don’t worry; over time, it’ll become part of your daily routine, eliminating the need for digital reminders.
Add in rewards: Sometimes a to-do system can be overwhelming, making us inadvertently avoid it because we’re feeling overwhelmed or burnt out (or are merely procrastinating). But if you sprinkle in some rewards throughout the month, you’ll feel a little excited to see what each day’s folder brings. It could be something as simple as “Spend 10 minutes guilt-free on Facebook” or even putting a small piece of chocolate in there.
Don’t dump a bunch of chores into one day: Try to spread out your tasks, making sure your entire week’s to-do list doesn’t land in one day’s folder. Keep life manageable with bite-sized tasks.
Stick to date-sensitive tasks: The beauty of the tickler file is that it is intimately married to the date. If something isn’t date-sensitive (it can be done whenever you have time, but doesn’t need to be done the first week of September or even in September at all) resist the urge to put it in the tickler. You want to train your brain to understand that if something is in the tickler file, it needs to be done now and not bumped perpetually forward.
The most important thing, like when using a calendar or a to-do list, is to check it religiously. A tickler system works magic, but only if you look in the folders every day.
Staying organized in today’s busy world is a challenge! But once you get your tickler system underway, it should help relieve your brain from all the buzz and stress of trying to remember everything. Just file it away, confident that you’ll deal with it at the right time thanks to the file.