At Home with Tech

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Tag: E-ZPass

Use these 7 Tech Tricks to Free Up Time

Tick tock. That’s the sound of your day not being spent the way you want. Here are 7 ways to reverse that soul-sucking trend.

I don’t know about you, but there never seems to be quite enough time to get it all done. Sure, we’ve all got the typical obligations that come with 21st century life. But there are also so many “electives” to explore.

Time is still a finite commodity.
(As far as I know)

So, the trick is finding ways to be more efficient with it. Yes, there are countless folks talking about this very topic, but I’d like to just zero in on how technology can be your friend and help you squeeze some precious minutes back into your day.

Think you know it all? Well, to be sure…
Here are 7 tech tips to help you focus more of your life into your happy zone:

#1
Order Stamps Online
Why would you ever choose to waste a fraction of your existence in the post office buying stamps?
The lines are endless. It’s like Purgatory in there.
Even the stamp-dispensing square autobot will drain your life force.
Why not simply purchase your stamps from your home computer?
It’s wicked quick…

#2
Withdraw More Cash from the ATM
Yes, there was a time before time when there wasn’t easy money on almost every corner. But today’s 24/7 access to an ATM is a mixed blessing. Who wants to always be thinking about where the nearest one is when you need twenty bucks?

I know this idea may not appear like a fiscally responsible suggestion, but if you can control your spending urges, I think you should withdraw more cash than you think you want.

Here’s the trick:

  • For those of you who haven’t fully embraced our cashless society yet, try visiting your favorite ‘magic money box ‘ less frequently… say once a week. Take out enough cash to get you through this interval and pledge not to return for another seven days.
    Rationing the use of this tech will save you time and can prevent you from going to the well more than your budget dictates.

#3
Shop for Your Groceries Online
I know… it goes against your hunting-gathering instincts.
And there’s a delivery fee.
But not having to go to the supermarket,
then not struggling with that damaged cart,
and not having to wait on a long line at the checkout…
Isn’t that worth a few bucks?

#4
Avoid Greeting Card Aisles
Stop feeling like you have to troll for greeting cards at the local CVS or Walgreens.
You know what I mean… searching up and down that forest of disorganized generic thoughts. Finding that perfect card, only to realize there’s no matching envelope, and having to start all over again.
It’s no longer a badge of honor to say to your loved one… “I spent an hour looking for the perfect card!”
(My mom used to like to say that.)
There’s got to be a better way!
Well, of course there is…

Go to Touchnote, Paper Culture, or even Hallmark online.
These websites contain virtually all the greeting cards you could ever want.
Plus they’ll mail them for you!
Whoah…. Now that’s really a paradigm shift.

#5
Don’t Wait On Line to Pay for Parking. Go Online!
Remember how you felt right after you missed that train, because you first had to wait online to pay for parking?
Let’s erase that recurring stomachache from your life.
Use an app and pay on your smartphone.

I use PayByPhone.
Brilliant…

#6
E-ZPass or Bust
All right, who here doesn’t have E-ZPass yet?
Please stand up and walk upstairs.
Now go to bed…. There’s no dinner for you.
And the rest of you should go get a good night’s sleep too!

Before you start your snooze, you should probably check in on your E-ZPass account just to make sure it’s current.
You don’t want E-ZPass to list the car you owned a decade ago.

#7
Greenlight Your Own Reruns
If you’re a blogger, repurpose ideas from older and underperforming posts for the other 7 billion people who didn’t read it the first time around.
(What? You hadn’t noticed?)

Now, you’ve suddenly got time to prepare to go skiing with your family!

See ya…!

Technology Killed the Tollbooth

Nobody likes to wait on a tollbooth line. And even with E-ZPass, you’ve got to slow down. But bridges like the Tappan Zee have a little surprise for you…

Nobody likes to wait on a tollbooth line. And even with E-ZPass, you’ve got to slow down. But bridges like the Tappan Zee have a little surprise for you…

I commute over the Tappan Zee Bridge on many days, and I’ve been marveling at the day-by-day construction on the New NY Bridge project for the past year. It’s really cool to see this bridge going up over the Hudson River north of New York City.

The New NY Bridge Going Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Age of the Camera Gantry Begins
Some months back while I was driving home, I noticed a strange grid-based overhead structure going up on the Rockland County side of the southbound New York State Thruway. I could see multiple cameras on the top as cars whooshed by below.

Then, one day the Tarrytown toll plaza on the Westchester side just closed up shop.
(What?)

I thought for a moment,

So no more tollbooths?
(Manned or unmanned)

Did that also mean no more tolls?!
(No, that couldn’t possibly be true…)

The toll collection process of course was continuing…
What had happened is the giant gantry on the other side of the river had quietly been ‘activated,’ turning all of lanes into cashless toll lanes on steroids.

Now, it’s not like there wasn’t cashless tolling before at the old toll plaza via E-ZPass, but you still had to slow down while passing through.

With the new giant gantry peering at every car overhead, now you are free to maintain normal highway speeds.
(Eliminating the toll ‘slow-down dance’ will save drivers up to nine hours a year!)

Cashless Tolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tolls by Mail
The arrival of the giant gantry also ushered in a back to the future moment for drivers… the U.S. Postal Service.

If you don’t have E-ZPass, no problem…
One of those cameras living on the gantry will snap a photo of your license plate, and then you’ll get a bill in the mail.
(How quaint)

Sign for E-ZPass or Toll Billed by Mail

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can pay on New York State’s website or the old fashioned way with a stamp.

The Phantom Tollbooth
About 50 million vehicles drive over the Tappan Zee every year, and about 80% already use E-ZPass.

As for all the others, welcome to Tolls by Mail.
(That’s a lot of stamps!)

Or they can sign up for E-ZPass.
(Hint, hint)

Does the cashless tolling gantry foretell the end of the manned tollbooth?

Looks like it… eventually.
(This technology is already in use elsewhere around the country.)

And with it terminates the need to develop the mighty skill set of the ‘quarter throw.’
(My father was a master at winging quarters at toll baskets when I was a kid.)

Look at me, getting all nostalgic.
Then, I remember all those blasted toll lines in the pre E-ZPass days.
(Shudder)

Resistance is Futile
I think it’s also important to recognize we’re passing through another ‘big brother’ moment brought to life by technology.

Cameras for Cashless Tolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other gantries will be erected on highways to help speed your travel, but it’s another example of more patterns of your life being integrated into the ‘Borg collective.’

Is that a problem or just progress?

A conversation for another day…

Six Tech Tips to Save You Time

Every second of your day counts.  Especially when you want to collect additional minutes to do more of what really matters.  Wait… did you hear that?  Yes… technology to the rescue!

Every second of your day counts. Especially when you want to collect additional minutes to do more of what really matters. Wait… did you hear that? Yes… technology to the rescue!

I don’t know about you, but there never seems to be enough time.
Maybe it’s simply because I’m a busy parent of a four year old.
Perhaps I should also acknowledge that maintaining a blog can be a time suck. (writer’s choice)

Time for regular TV viewing?
Ha!
I barely touch the national average of 2.8 hours/day.
(according to a recent American Time Use Survey)

I’m lucky to squeeze in an episode of “Mad Men.”

But remember what Ferris Bueller said…
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Really, you do want to protect your available free time, especially those ‘quality’ moments. And thankfully, technology can help you squeeze precious minutes back into this favorite bucket of your day.

So here are six tech tips to help you focus more of your life into that happy zone:

#1
Order Stamps Online
Why would you ever choose to waste a fraction of your existence in the post office buying stamps?
The lines are endless. It’s like Purgatory in there.
Even the stamp-dispensing square autobot will drain your life force.
Why not simply purchase your stamps from your home computer?
It’s wicked quick…

#2
Withdraw More Cash from the ATM
Yes, there was a time before time when there wasn’t easy money on almost every corner. But today’s 24/7 access to an ATM is a mixed blessing.
Who wants to always be thinking about where the nearest one is when you need twenty bucks?

I know this idea may not appear like a fiscally responsible suggestion, but if you can control your spending urges, I think you should withdraw more cash than you think you want.

Here’s the trick:

  • Visit your favorite ‘magic money box ‘ less frequently… say once a week. Take out enough cash to get you through this interval and pledge not to return for another seven days.

Rationing the use of this tech will save you time and can prevent you from going to the well more than your budget dictates.

#3
Shop for Your Groceries Online
I know… it goes against your hunting-gathering instincts.
And there’s a delivery fee.
But not having to go to the supermarket,
then not struggling with that damaged cart,
and not having to wait on a long line at the checkout…
Isn’t that worth a few bucks?

#4
Avoid Greeting Card Aisles
You shouldn’t feel anymore like you have to troll for greeting cards at the local CVS or Walgreens.
You know what I mean… searching up and down that forest of disorganized generic thoughts. Finding that perfect card, only to realize there’s no matching envelope, and having to start all over again.

It’s no longer a badge of honor to say to your loved one… “I spent an hour looking for the perfect card!”
(My mom used to like to say that.)

There’s got to be a better way!
Well, of course there is…
Go to Touchnote, Paper Culture, or even Hallmark online.

These websites contain virtually all the greeting cards you could ever want.
Plus they’ll mail them for you!
Whoah…. Now that’s really a paradigm shift.

#5
Don’t Wait On Line to Pay for Parking. Go Online!
Remember how you felt right after you missed that train, because you first had to wait online to pay for parking?
Let’s erase that recurring stomachache from your life.
Use an app and pay on your smartphone.
I use PayByPhone.
Brilliant…

#6
E-ZPass or Bust
All right, who here doesn’t have E-ZPass yet?
Please stand up and walk upstairs.
Now go to bed…. There’s no dinner for you.

And the rest of you should go get a good night’s sleep too!
Before you start your snooze, you should probably check in on your E-ZPass account just to make sure it’s current.
You don’t want E-ZPass to list the car you owned a decade ago.

Bonus Summertime Tech Tip
Repurpose ideas from your old blog posts to quickly generate a new list of tech tips to share.
(You hadn’t noticed?)

Now, you’ve got time to prepare to go camping with your family!

See ya…!

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