At Home with Tech

It’s time to maximize the potential of all your gadgets.

Category: photography

Pair a Bluetooth Keyboard to your Smartphone for your Next Zoom Meeting

If you need to take copious notes on your smartphone during a Zoom meeting, here’s why you may want to add a physical keyboard to the equation.

It’s easy to forget the power and flexibility of our smartphones; often the only limiting factor is the compact size. Yes, the smaller screen is sometimes difficult to work with compared to a laptop. But for me, it’s the miniature keyboard that can be infuriating. It’s simply really hard to type fast.

Recently, I flew to the West Coast on a business trip, and for an hour on one evening, I needed to step away and jump on a personal Zoom call and take notes for the community group.

My first thought was to pack my personal laptop or iPad for the task. But then I looked at my iPhone and wondered if it could actually handle the exercise.

Of course, the Zoom meeting part was easy. It was the simultaneous note taking that would be the challenge. So I tested it out…

Working with Zoom and Microsoft OneNote Simultaneously
I used the Microsoft OneNote app on my iPhone for the note-taking part, and it interfaced just fine with the Zoom app. I simply swiped out of the Zoom meeting and then worked in OneNote. (The Zoom meeting still shows up in a small window.)

Yes, I could tap…tap…tap my notes. But it was not nearly as fast as I knew I would need.

I required a real keyboard. And then it came to me… What about a Bluetooth keyboard?

A Multiversal Solution?
Using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad is common, but trying the same trick with a tiny iPhone feels somewhat absurd. Who have you ever seen do that???

Though you might have spotted it while traveling through some other part of the multiverse, some crazy old-school blogger in this reality was now going to give it a try.

Logitech Keys-to-Go Bluetooth Keyboard
While there are a few choices out there, I ended up going with the Logitech Keys-to-Go Bluetooth Keyboard… mostly because it’s featured on Apple’s website. I figured it must work properly if Apple is pushing it, right? (Spoiler alert: The two devices pair just fine, though you do have to push a little harder on the Logitech’s keys.)

At the time of this post, this keyboard was on sale
at Logitech’s website for $49.99.

It’s also on Amazon for the same price.

Click.

A Few Optional Accessories
When it was time to do my Zoom meeting in the field with my new keyboard, I must admit, I had also brought along a little more gear to facilitate a smoother experience.

  • I had my small Joby tripod with smartphone grip to mount my iPhone a little higher up. ( I didn’t want the shot pointing up my nose.) The taller positioning also made it easier to read the screen as I typed away.
  • To ensure I wouldn’t run out of juice, I plugged my iPhone into a little portable power (my Anker battery), as a wall plug wasn’t nearby.
  • And of course, I wore my Apple AirPods.
  • My multitasking iPhone stunt went off without a hitch, but if you strip away the optional tech, just the iPhone and Bluetooth keyboard will certainly get the job done.

Add this Technological Distinctiveness to your Own
Not having to pack an extra computer when flying is a game changer. A slim Bluetooth keyboard is hardly a noticeable add to your carry-on luggage, and it’s not an expensive piece of tech you have to worry about being stolen.

It may not be an intuitive pairing, and the tech form factor certainly looks clunky and somewhat absurd (“Star Trek” Borg-like).

That said, adding a physical keyboard to the much smaller iPhone does facilitate much faster typing speeds. So give your thumbs a rest!

I have now happily assimilated this technological distinctiveness.

Borg Barrett transmission ends now.

Finding the Bright Spots Past Peak Foliage

If you’re late this year embarking on your weekend leaf-peeping excursion, all is not lost. Here’s how to modify your expectations and still find some of the color you seek.

Suddenly the brilliant colors of fall in New England are gone. It happens faster than you may think. Another year you’ve missed peak foliage? Another opportunity lost? Not necessarily.

My family and I went for a hike this past weekend in Collis P. Huntington State Park in Redding, Connecticut. As we entered the forest, it felt like I had time-traveled forward several weeks. Almost all of the leaves were already on the ground.

“What?! This is not how the trees looked driving in.”

I gripped my little Panasonic Lumix LX-10. I looked up and around. I felt like I had entirely missed this year’s fall season.

But then I looked down and peered closer. Fall wasn’t done yet. No, not by a long shot.

The colors were still all there. They just weren’t displayed en masse any longer. I simply had to bend a knee and tighten my focus.

So that’s what I did, and here’s some of what I saw.

Individual results may vary, but no matter what time of year you spend time in nature, satisfaction guaranteed.

9 Tricks to Eject Unwelcome Ghosts in the Machine

Do you sometimes get spooked by your tech’s unexpected glitches? Here are a few of the ways I chase away the unwanted ghosts in my gear.

A good day is when all of your tech behaves and operates properly. While it’s sometimes fun to get a little scared during the Halloween season, that feeling should never kick in, simply because your gear starts glitching out on you.

Here are my 9 tricks to help your tech treat you right.

#1
Remove the Pocket Lint from your Smartphone’s Port
Is your smartphone misbehaving and not charging when you plug it in? Or do you have to wiggle the connection until the juice starts flowing? The culprit is likely a fuzzy pocket-lint mass that’s collected inside the phone’s port. Here’s the fix.

#2
Adjust your Camera’s Internal Clock
If maintaining the chronological sequence of your vacation photos is important, and you’re using a second camera on top of your smartphone’s camera, both clocks had better be synced. Otherwise your vacation photos will end up being displayed out of order.

#3
Turn off Portrait Orientation Lock on your iPhone
If you’re trying to watch a video, and your iPhone won’t play it full screen when you rotate it horizontally, the problem is likely the Portrait Orientation Lock. Here’s how to turn it off.

#4
Delete Downloaded Podcasts You’ve Already Listened to
Is your smartphone almost out of storage? Of course it is. Here’s one big way I like to free up badly-needed memory on my iPhone.

#5
Back Up All of your iPad’s Data
Last year, I lost a lot of my son’s photos and videos on our family iPad when we took it to an Apple Store for maintenance. I was devastated by my rookie mistake of not setting up the iPad’s iCloud backup properly.

My son was annoyed, but he quickly moved on and simply took more photos. (And I’m still writing about it.)

#6
Stop your Email Program from Suggesting Old Addresses
Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody had one email address assigned at birth, and that was it for life? How simple would that be? Then, you could easily keep track of all your contacts. No more old email addresses that don’t work.

Until that happens, here’s an easy way to clear out old email addresses from ‘Auto-Complete.’

#7
Do your Software Updates
Keeping all of your digital gear current with software updates is an endless process that requires a fair amount of effort and organization. And following an auto-update strategy can sometimes lead to updates that aren’t ready for prime time. I think it’s best to have your tech remind you about the updates, and then you can manually install them.

#8
Reorganize the Apps on your Smartphone
If you’ve been having difficulty finding certain apps on your smartphone or they’re not where you thought you left them, it’s time to take a few minutes and do a little reorganizing. That can include placing some of your apps into topic folders and perhaps pruning others you haven’t used for a while. (You can always reload them!)

Losing a few long-forgotten apps will also free up memory on your device.

#9
Make Sure You have Enough Wi-Fi Bandwidth at Home
When you’re presenting during a Zoom meeting from your home office, the last thing you want is for someone to interrupt and report that you’ve frozen up. While there’s no bulletproof way to prevent that, you can certainly upgrade your internet plan to improve your odds.

Going old-school and hardwiring your computer to your router may also result in faster streaming speeds.

Boo!
Hopefully these tricks will help prevent your tech from acting naughty and spooking you out!

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