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  • Writer's pictureSusan Gable

5 New-to-Me Geek Glee Tech Tools

  1. Google Docs/Sheets/Drive (Apps and online access - Free)

I've know about the Google apps for a while, and have dabbled with them here and there, but it's only recently that I've fully embraced using them, and they're making my life - and my writing - so much easier.

I'm actually wiring this post in Docs now, lying in my bed, on my cell phone. The beauty of this is I can access it from any device. I can move to my desktop, my tablet, whatever device, and simply pick up where I've left off. Think how convenient that is for a WIP. You have an appointment somewhere, you didn't think you'd be waiting too long, and you find yourself sitting in the waiting room for an hour. You didn't bring your laptop because you weren't going to be long. With the Docs app on your phone, you can spend that time productively.

At a recent conference I attended, I didn't bother with either my laptop or tablet. I used my cell phone, a Bluetooth keyboard, and Docs to take notes at workshops. Then I could share my notes easily with critique partners, friends, even with you! Check out my notes from the Author Branding workshop given by Robin Covington. The ease of sharing like that makes critiquing and collaboration easier, too.

For those of you who use or want to try out dictating your work, Google Docs’ speech-to-text capabilities are really awesome. In fact, I've shifted to using it now. This may very well speed up your productivity. It will require some cleaning up afterwards, but hey, that's what we do with editing, right?

For those of you who say I can't write on a cell phone screen because I can't see enough of the text, well that would be exactly the point. When you're drafting it's much better to not see too much of the text. That way you're not tempted to go back and edit or treat. It's kind of like the old Alphasmart that only let you see a few lines of text. Honestly I can view more on my Galaxy 5 screen than I could on that.

Give it a try. I think you'll like it.

2. Duolingo (App - Free)

Have you wanted to learn or improve your foreign language skills? Then you need to check out Duolingo. This free app is a powerhouse! It makes learning a language fun and easy. It incorporates reading, speaking and listening all at the same time. The app uses the microphone on your phone to have you repeat sentences and words to it, then evaluates your pronunciation. You get instant feedback.

It currently offers around 25 languages for native English speakers to learn. (In more Geek Glee, they're working on Klingon. I think that might be a little beyond me.) They're offering Spanish, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Vietnamese, and many more.

Check it out. Learning a language is good for your brain, and this makes it easy and fun.

3. Videostudio (Software - Purchased from Amazon, around $60)

It seems like everything is all about video these days. Social media loves video. For me, this is another fun area to play with. I started making videos by using PowerPoint and creating presentations that I turned into video. Then I progressed to using Movie Maker on my PC. But that didn't give me the flexibility that I wanted. So I recently bought VideoStudio, which is a piece of software from Corel. Since I'd already been using Movie Maker it wasn't that steep of a learning curve and there are lots of great tutorial videos online to show you how to use it.

If you're looking at getting into video, check it out. And I'll probably be making some tutorials about how to make video soon.

4. Wegmans (App - Free)

If you don't have a Wegmans grocery store near you, I'm very sorry. Those of us who have them love them.

Wegmans has the most amazing app. In it, I can create a shopping list that will include the aisle and the price of the products. So if I'm particularly organized I can have an entire grocery list and know how much I'm going to spend before I get to the store. Sometimes I use the app for comparison shopping if I'm out in another store. I can simply add a product to my list and see what it's costing at Wegmans and decide if I'm going to buy it where I am or buy it at Wegmans later on.

I can add products from previous shopping lists, I can scan the barcode of a product, or I can type a word into their search feature. I can pull up a list of all my recent trips to Wegmans. Wegmans will even offer suggestions if I want, of what should go on my lists based on past purchases.

Now that may seem creepy. The app needs access to your camera for the barcode thing. And it will recommend stuff to me? They know all that stuff about me ? Yes, folks, this is information they already have about you if you're using a shoppers card, so why shouldn't you have access to that information as well? This is about letting technology make your life easier. You can even refill prescriptions from a link provided inside the app.

If you love Wegmans and you're not using their app, give it a try.

5. Wix (Websites. Free and Paid options.)

If you're looking for a really easy to use, good looking, highly functional website tool, I can't recommend Wix highly enough.

Despite only average tech abilities, I've always done my own website. It's not just because I'm part control freak, but that plays in. I want to be able to update it, change it, whenever I want. I don't want to wait for someone to do it for me.

Wix is very easy to use. They even offer a free option, so if you're looking to create a small website, say for a wedding or family reunion, etc., the free option might be all you need. I'm using a paid option, and finding it well worth it.

I’ll share more cool tech apps as I find them.

Geek Glee! Tech fun. We do love our cool toys.

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