The Extra Mighell - May 1, 2020

Technology and Assorted News, Among Other Things

Welcome to issue #3 of The Extra Mighell! A quick explanation for new readers - my last name is pronounced “Mile,” so hopefully the title makes more sense now.

The links here represent the stories of the past week that I found interesting or noteworthy but had no time to cover on the blog - that’s why they’re “extra.” Enjoy!

On to the news….

This Week in Coronavirus

Spotify is doing its part to keep us sane and happy while stuck at home, by introducing the Daily Wellness playlist, which provides a mix of self-care podcasts and music that refreshes twice a day. [Engadget]

Online Meetings

It didn’t take long for Zoom “add-on” technologies to pop up. Here are some tools that will add value to your Zoom experience:

  • Fireflies.ai integrates with more than a dozen web conferencing tools, and allows you to record, transcribe, and search your meetings.

  • Otter is another AI tool that will provide live transcription and collaborative note-taking, but for Zoom users only.

  • Want to create a live event using Zoom? Stream will create a website to promote your virtual event, and even lets you charge admission to the event.

For those of you who are using Microsoft Teams, the folks in Redmond are starting to offer the most popular features of Zoom, starting with…..custom backgrounds! Oh, and here’s a complete guide to getting started. [Android Soul]

Productivity

I don’t know about you, but I happen to create a lot of Excel spreadsheets that contain a lot of text. It’s good to know that Excel has a Trim function that will remove all spaces from text, in case you copy and paste some irregularly formatted text into the spreadsheet. [Microsoft]

Mobile

If you have an Android phone and Windows, you really need to try out Microsoft’s Your Phone app, which continues to add features. I have used it for a while now to view and send SMS messages from my computer desktop; it’s really handy when I’m working and I want to send a text message to someone without leaving the desktop. Just this week, you can use the Your Phone app to:

New Gadgets of the Week

Two new phones this week, neither of them worth a serious look, unless you are a longtime Motorola fan. The Verge describes the new Motorola Edge Plus as “a contender, not a champion;” on the other hand, the Oppo Find X2 Pro gets a pretty good review. [The Verge]

And in New Future Gadgets of the Week, if you are waiting to get your hands on the iPhone 12 this year, you’re going to have to wait….an extra month. [The Verge]

I mentioned on Twitter this week that I was trying to find a way to justify buying the new DJI Mavic Air 2 drone, but I’m just not sure I can record my video meetings with it. In the meantime, it’s really cool to see UPS and CVS team up to begin drone delivery of prescription drugs. [The Verge]

New Apps/Tools

(each week I’ll feature some brand-new apps for your consideration - some will make it big, some will fail big, but you could say you were there when they debuted!)

Neither Facebook nor Google Photos are new, but what is new is that now you can easily transfer your Facebook photos to Google Photos, which is awesome. It’s rolling out now, and may not be available to you for a few weeks.

Super Auto Refresh Plus may not be new, but it’s new to me. Install this Chrome extension and use it to auto-refresh any page that you need to reload on a regular basis. Set the refresh anywhere between 2 seconds and 60 minutes!

Would you rather join your video meeting with an avatar instead of your working-from-home face? Check out LoomieLive, which works with nine conference services. (The Windows version isn’t completely ready yet, but they say “just a few days away.”

Fun and Games

I can spend hours exploring the live cams of Explore.org, where you can watch puppies, donkeys, elephants, or just a relaxing picture of a beach in Hawaii.

If you have a few hours to kill, check out Citizen DJ, a new project from the Library of Congress where you can listen to sounds curated by the library, remix them in a sick beat, and then download them to use for your own purposes. Because why not?

Although it’s a great way to give parents a break, I’m just not sure that babysitting by Zoom can be very successful after say, 15 minutes. [Washington Post]

Meeting tip: if you’re on Zoom or any other video meeting at home, don’t - under any circumstances - throw your cat across the room. Actually, just don’t throw your cat. Ever.

See you next week!
— Tom