Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category


Get An iPhone

In Accessories,Apple,Emerging Technology,Opinion,Tips & Tricks on December 1, 2011 by

First photo I took with original iPhone in 2007. Kitchen of our new home.

After having a late lunch at Olive Garden on July 1, 2007, I walked over to the AT&T store and bought my first iPhone. All that was left from the biggest launch in Apple’s history was a 4GB model and I took it. (No waiting, no lines)

I must admit, my friend Andy twisted my arm to give it a chance.  I have to thank him for pushing me to try it.  Who knows, I might have given Android a chance like most of my other friends avidly use & recommend. Yuk!

I was undecided at the time because I didn’t want to give up, of all things, the QWERTY keyboard on my Blackberry Curve. Can you believe that? Makes me chuckle everytime I reminisce about it.

Needless to say, the iPhone was the best electronic device I’ve owned by far!   I’ve kept my original iPhone thinking it will some day be a collector’s item.  I have it on display in my living room, since it is the most expensive art piece I own.  Well, other than the other Apple products in my home.

I have been upgrading every two years to the latest model.  I currently own a 32GB iPhone 4 running iOS 5.0.1 with 1,709 songs, 10,273 photos and 91 apps.  Waiting for upgrade eligibility in Feb. 2012 for the 4S.

I won’t make this into a post of why I believe the iPhone is simply the best choice out there.  There’s about 90 million iPhone users and countless stories on the web to convice you of that. 

It’s about a question I’m asked from time to time:  What phone do you recommend?  I simply say, “Get an iPhone”  and it usually results in one of two things:

1) A follow-up visit a few months later thanking me for the recommendation and them sharing their favorite features they didn’t know a phone could do. (Demonstration included)


2) A text message asking me to guess what phone they just bought.  This is my favorite of the two. Since iOS 5, it’s been a pleasant surprise to receive that first iMessage from someone who just switched to an iPhone. It’s made it easier to identify the switch.

By my count, the number of converts is at 15 and rising.  Their ages range from 17 – 58 years of age.  The list includes friends, family, married couples, college students, teachers & my mom.

Thanks to subsidies, owning an iPhone has become fairly affordable.  For those new to the iPhone, there was no such thing when the original came out.  It was either $499 or $599 cash money! Also, it’s now available on all relevant carriers with a variety of plans to suit every need.

So if you’re in the market for a new smart phone, just get an iPhone! I’ll see you or reply to your first iMessage soon.



How To Make Shorter URL’s

In Helpful Websites,Laundry Room,Online Services,Tips & Tricks on December 3, 2009 by Media Specialist Tagged: ,

What is a URL? A URL is the address of a webpage in the world wide web or internet. It’s short for Uniform Resource Locator. No need to go into what that means.

For example, to get to Pueblo High School’s website you have to type the URL in the web address box in your browser.

Example of a URL in address box. (Circled in red)

It’s a short and simple address so that our visitors can memorize it easily and return to our website.

From time to time we are on a website we would like to share with our students or colleagues that unfortunately looks like this:,-95.677068&sspn=38.22949,61.787109&ie=UTF8&hq=Pueblo+Magnet+High+School&hnear=Pueblo+Magnet+High+School,+Tucson,+AZ+85713&ll=32.186945,-110.978994&spn=0.039952,0.060339&t=h&z=14&iwloc=A

That’s the web address for driving directions to Pueblo. What you normally do is copy and paste the URL into an email or document. Unless they all have photographic memories, they will not be able to memorize that URL for future reference. That’s where URL Shortening comes in handy.

What basically happens is that these online services assign a shorter, easier to remember URL to the long and complicated like the one above. I personally use for most of my needs, but what I like about is that I can personalize my own name to the address.

Screenshot of the website

I went ahead and copied the long URL above and pasted into since I wanted to personalize it and this is what it looks like now:


What a difference huh?

This comes in handy when you want your students to visit a specific URL on any given assignment or when you want to share a web address that you want them to easily remember.

There are many online website that offer this service for free and offer additional paid features that you don’t need. Here’s a few:

Here’s a link to the Top Ten with a nice breakdown of the services they offer.


How To Add Signature In Microsoft Outlook

In Procedures,Tips & Tricks,Windows on November 2, 2009 by Media Specialist Tagged: ,

If you are tired of typing your contact information in Outlook everytime you type up an email, here is a tip that will help you with that. I’m using Outlook 2007 as an example and it’s basically the same for all versions of Outlook.

Once logged in to Outlook, go to Tools in the Top Menu & select Options.

In the Options panel, click on the tab labeled Mail Format and select the box that says Signatures. Your panel should now look like this:

Signature Panel

Example of Signature Panel

You will be clicking on New to add a signature on the panel above. It will ask you to name it. If you see in my example above, I created two signatures.

One is my MAIN signature which goes on every new email I send.

The second is a REPLY signature that is used whenever I reply to an email.

I do this because I don’t want my main signature every time I reply. My reply signature has only my name on it. It’s good email etiquette, you don’t want you main signature all over the place. Especially on those emails you go back and forth with the sender. It can make it difficult to read.

You have the options of adding a picture, a link and to format the text as you wish. Always remember that simple is better.

Make sure to set your defaults on the right side as shown on the example. Those options designate which signatures you want Outlook to use for the specific tasks I mentioned above.

Now, every time you type up a new message your customized signature will automatically appear.


I Jailbroke My iPhone 3G

In Apple,Procedures,Reviews,Tips & Tricks on March 10, 2009 by Media Specialist Tagged: , , ,

After much internal debate on whether I should Jailbrake my iPhone 3G or not, I took the plunge on Sunday. You may wonder why I had not done it already? I don’t know if it’s just me, but every set of instructions I read were to complicated or risky. Simply not worth the hassle. When I’m unsure of something technical, I usually just wait.

A friend of mine emailed me the Gizmodo Post on instructions on how to do this. I read them over and they were the first instructions that seemed simple enough to make me do it.

It took me a few downloads and restarts on my iMac and I was ready to run QuickPwn for Mac OS X. After about 10 minutes the iPhone rebooted and I started loading programs on Cydia. A weird feeling of betrayal comes over you for a second. Then you start using programs you’ve been missing and you feel like Neo from The Matrix. Jailbrake = Unplugged! Why has Apple or AT&T decided to keep us from these basic features you find on every other phone?

The final process of the Jailbrake process

The final process of the Jailbrake

The #1 reason I Jailbroke my iPhone was for video capabilities. (Come on Apple! Probably AT&T…) The first programs I installed were Qik and Cycorder. Both programs are just what I was missing from my iPhone. Instant satisfaction!

I played around with other applications like Snapture, which I will purchase, and Winterboard. I like some of the features of Winterboard but I don’t want my iPhone looking like a MySpace page. So I kept my default Springboard.

I also tried the Cut & Paste application called Clippy. Although it’s in Beta, it works remarkably well. (Again, Come on Apple!)

This comic describes how I feel about my improved iPhone:


Before you start passing judgment, I also Jailbroke my wife’s iPhone and she loves that she can now play her childhood’s favorite game Mario Bros and record her dog Cochi playing around.

For now I am happy with the 4 apps on my Jailbroken iPhone. I haven’t seen any lag or experienced any crashes on my iPhone. If you are debating whether to Jailbrake or not, the Gizmodo post is easy and harmless. I encourage you to try it. In keeping with the Matrix theme, Morpheus compares it “to trying to free your mind.”

Make sure you run a new back-up on iTunes of your iPhone before trying this. Worst comes to worse, you can ALWAYS RESTORE.

Thanks for the URL himess33.


Typing Final Exam Tips

In Copy Room,Laundry Room,Tips & Tricks on December 8, 2008 by Media Specialist Tagged: , ,

It’s that time of the year again! Many of you will start typing your final exams & study guides soon and I just thought I’d share some tips on how to save paper and maybe some of your valuable time.

1) Make good use of the paper by adjusting your margins and making it double sided. Microsoft Word has a default setting that DOES NOT make good use of each piece of paper. Here’s a video tutorial on how to do that. Your font size should be no bigger than 12.

2) Create an answer sheet and use with a class set of copies of the exam. I know some of you won’t be able to do this because you require writing or an essay on the test, but most can. Running a set of 35 is better than 150, agree? Scantron Sheets are available depending on your department. Some purchase them, some don’t. They do save time during the grading process, ask the Science department.

Example of Scantron Answer Sheet

Example of Scantron Answer Sheet

3) Align your multiple choice questions horizontally not vertically. Can you see the difference in paper use between Question #1 & #2?

1) What year did the Laundry Master graduate from Pueblo High School?

A) 1956

B) 1991

C) 1995

D) He Did Not Graduate

2) Does the Laundry Room Blog help you in any way?

A) Yes   B) No   C) Needs improvement   D)  Never seen it

Try to use the format of Question #2. Using this tip can cut your test size in HALF!

4) Put two sheets of paper in one. Some teachers do this already and like it. The number one complaint is that the text is too small, but let the students be the judge.  If it doesn’t work for you on the test, would it work at least for your study guides? Again, this cuts your test or study guide size in half.

If you can do one or all of these tips as you type your final exam, you will be helping save a tree! : )


Google Earth Great Teaching Tool

In Education,Emerging Technology,Helpful Websites,Online Services,Tips & Tricks,Web Features on October 27, 2008 by Media Specialist Tagged: , ,

The song lyrics, “he’s got the whole world in his hands” become a virtual reality with Google Earth! I’ve been using it since 2006 when it was called Earth Viewer. It’s quite amazing to be able to ‘fly’ to any spot in the world and get hi-resolution imagery on your computer/projector screen. It’s almost like being there, believe me.

You can add many layers to the virtual map such as terrain, roads, 3D buildings and images. It’s getting better and better with the addition of 3D renderings of The Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Red Square and many more. You have to see them to appreciate them. Here’s an example of how Downtown Tucson, AZ looks with the 3D buildings layer turned on:

Downtown Tucson in 3D

Downtown Tucson in 3D

It’s a very simple program to use and the best part is that it’s a free download available for Windows and Mac. Here’s how to install it: 

1. Visit to download the program free.

2. Complete install and you are set.

3. Visit the brief video tutorials site that helps you get going. Here’s a sample:

That’s it! You can really use this as a teaching tool to transport your class to the destination on the globe you may be talking about, including Antarctica! I use it all the time, even more so now that it’s available for the iPhone & iTouch. See it in action as it zooms in to Pueblo:

Forget my hands, now I can have the whole world in my pocket!