Tag Archives: Technology

This app makes a game out of what to wear

If ever there was a first-world problem, it would having so many pieces of clothing in your closet, you don’t even know all you own.

IMG_2952That’s where an app like Stylebook comes in.

Stylebook is the ultimate closet assistant, helping you inventory your clothing, track your outfits and make packing lists.

I downloaded Stylebook in December, and I have been keeping track of what I wear every day since New Year’s. To do this, I’ve been forced to inventory every top, every pair of pants, every pair of shoes, every accessory. I’ve done it a little at a time, each day, and it’s like a game for me now.

If you’re a clothes horse like me, you’ll love it, too. You can see how often you wear a particular piece of clothing which is especially helpful is you find yourself wearing the same thing over and over. Last year at this time, I was wearing the same sweatshirt, same jeans and same work boots every day as we worked on making an old church into our home, but this year, with my new closet putting all my clothes that were in storage on full display, I’m inspired to wear something different every day of the month.

Here’s how April looks for me:


I can drill down to each individual day and take notes, which help me avoid wearing the same outfit out to dinner or to church, for example. Here’s a look at today:


Among the really useful features:

  • Inventory by item type: Having an inventory of what I own right on my phone helps when I’m shopping. No more buying another pink blouse or black camisole, because I can see instantly what I already own. And I can see what shoes I have that might coordinate with the dress I’m considering. I can also see that if I want to upgrade, I maybe should give away my old navy suit jacket because I don’t really need two of them.
  • Packing lists: I can design each day’s look in advance, add the look to a packing list, and then see all the pieces I need to pack. I used to do this by hand drawing pictures of outfits for each day of a trip. Now it’s automated.
  • Item value: By tracking the cost of an item and how often it’s worn, I can see instantly the cost-per-wear, which helps me determine belts have a lot more value than fancy dresses. (It also shows I have a lot of money invested in clothes but, hey, there are worse addictions.)
  • Outfit Shuffle™: This function is awesome! I can choose any piece of clothing I already own, add a few other categories, and the app produces 10 ideas for outfits. Some of them are terrible, but it’s come up with some creative ideas I wouldn’t have considered without it.

I invested $3.99 to download Stylebook, which is $3.99 more than I usually spend, but it was worth every penny and more. If you like clothes and fashion, you might think so, too.



Time for some peace and quiet

“You know, I’ve always thought that technology could solve almost any problem. It enhances the quality of our lives. Lets us to travel across the galaxy. It even gave me my vision. But sometimes, you just have to turn it all off. Even the gypsy violins.”

Uttered by Lt. Geordi LaForge in one of my favorite all-time favorite episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation, “Booby Trap.” Because sometimes the best offense is just letting go.

[Thanks, BBC America, for that Saturday night distraction.]

Please standby … we are experiencing technical difficulties

full moon

The full moon is wreaking havoc with our technology this week.

We move 168 miles and poof, nothing works like it did yesterday.

I was reminded of a similar moment in 2009 when phone calls to service providers (can you hear me now, Comcast?) caused more headaches than solutions. …

Where, oh where, has my internet gone?

Sorry about not having an entry yesterday. We can thank Mediacom for that.

Mediacom is my “dependable” internet provider. They have some sort of monopoly on Hampshire. There are other options apparently, but they provide even spottier service.

It’s crazy how dependent I am on something that didn’t even exist 15 or 20 years ago!

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Philosophical grab bag

Friday potpourri …

  • “I can’t wait until my moustache touches my beard,” said my Adored stepson who, at nearly 20, is still obsessed with his body hair.
  • Speaking of being overvalued: OpenTable, the online restaurant booking business, is worth $2.6 billion? With a B? Does that strike anyone else as excessive? Apparently Priceline is making a lot of money helping travelers save theirs because it’s paying $2.6 billion in cash for OpenTable. Every time I hear about another tech company valuation, I scoff. I mean really, are those stupid Facebook ads actually selling anything other than page likes?
  • Talk about expensive. Did you know Tostitos Hint of Lime tortilla chips have 150 calories per serving? And that a serving is six — yes, only six! — chips? We’re a nutrition-label obsessed household right now; Adored stepson is counting protein grams in order to support his weight-lifting regimen. Of course, my guacamole grew irresistibly tastier when I realized how few corn chips I could allow myself.
  • Here’s the real scandal: Women in India are risking their lives when they have a bowel movement because some maniac is raping and murdering them by attacking them when they are pooping in an open field, according to a story I heard on National Public Radio this week. Why are they defecating in a field? They don’t have a toilet at home. In fact, one of every 2 people in India defecates out in the open, the highest rate in the world. Makes you appreciate the four bathrooms in your home on your list to clean, huh?
  • As long as we’re counting our blessings … I wore a necklace I haven’t worn in a long time today. I have enough necklaces that I could wear a different one every day of the month, but I got to this one in my rotation today. It is adorned with tiny cubic zirconias, set in such as way as to see both the pointy bottom and the flat top of the stone. Curious question: Why is the flat top of a diamond the top? Why isn’t the pointy bottom featured (as it is in this necklace)?” Is this true of our good blessings in life, too? Are there “unattractive bottoms” that would be just as appreciated if only they were on display?

The end of paper

The end of paper is coming, and even the dinosaurs have to admit it.

I was a denier for a long time. My argument was that as long as we have hands and eyes, we’ll have paper. The tactile appeal would overwhelm the power of  the computer, I maintained adamantly.

Then came along the iPad. No longer do I have to sit in front of my computer. I can bring my iPad anywhere and read it in any position. Tablets are getting slimmer, and it won’t be long until they’re as light and versatile as, well, as a piece of paper.

For an interview earlier this week, my potential client requested I bring my portfolio.


“Portfolio”? Huh? I haven’t had a portfolio for 20 years. I pulled all the news stories I wrote while working at my college newspaper out of the binder I used to get my first and second jobs and then refilled the binder with printouts of blog posts and e-newsletters I’ve created. I put a paper version of my resume (how positively ancient) in the front.

I used to write in my diary. Now I write blog posts. Memos are now emails. Love notes have been replaced by text messages. Insurance forms are PDFs. Cookbooks have been replaced by Google. Even dollar bills and checks are so yesterday, unceremoniously replaced by plastic.

On NPR’s Science Friday today, Verge reporter Ellis Hamburger predicted monthly bank and credit card statements someday will be replaced with something else that is not so much “monthly” or “statement” as it is “instant” and “app.”

It’s weird, frankly, to be a paperphile in this strange new world.

I literally have made my living in paper. I used to work for newspapers. Now I read my newspaper on my iPad. I once worked for a scrapbooking company. Now no one prints out their photos anymore. I write books (and I love my bookshelves of paperbacks). But now I write ebooks, too.

I’m still making my living on paper: Among other feats of wonder, I organize people’s old printed photographs in boxes. But I do this so people can scan those photos to save and share them digitally.

I think writers and editors will be around for the foreseeable future. But I’m not sure. Facebook, for one example, does a pretty good job of culling all the news of interest to me and presenting it on my personalized Newsfeed.

What will I do with all my manila folders? My shelves of photo albums? My backache from lugging books everywhere I go?

What a brave, new world.

Happiness: A moving target

Where are you most happy?

Being outdoors, near the sea, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon is the perfect spot to experience happiness, according to researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The study, conducted last year, compiled data from people who used the Mappiness smart phone app. The app beeps users daily to record their levels of happiness and uses global positioning system software to determine their locations.

Even if users weren’t by the sea, those who were in natural environments anywhere reported being happier than those in urban settings. The study also found women and older people appreciated being outside at even higher levels.

No wonder we’ve all been so grumpy this winter. We’ve been cooped up way too long.

Not today though. The skies were clear and the temperatures in the 60s here in northern Illinois. While I would consider myself generally to be an indoors girl, I appreciate nature more as I age. I so enjoy being able to run outside or to take my dog for a walk, and I am so happy to see the grass in my yard turning green.

Today, we hired some energetic boys to apply mulch in strategic places in the yard. I, meanwhile, started a new furniture makeover project in the garage (with the door open). I think I’ve found a new hobby! The process of applying paint to beat-up furnishings is oddly satisfying (I’ll share the results of my work next week).

Wherever you are, here’s wishing you happiness.

99 and counting

Browsing my Facebook News Feed early this morning, I was astounded to see my cousin Paula wishing my grandmother happy birthday.

“Darn!” I thought (keeping it clean here — this is the family section).

Grandma turned 99 today. While I was enjoying the sunshine and spring training baseball here in Florida, my father’s mother added another notch in the years-on-the-planet belt. How did it get to be March 8 so fast?! (Time marches quickly when the skies are clear and the temps are in the 70s.)

Cousin Paula, with whom I’m competing for Second Favorite Granddaughter honors, had posted the news. She was more on top of things than me. Neither of us will ever claim the title of Most Favorite Granddaughter; that one belongs to Cousin Cheri, who was first grandchild overall and lives within 10 minutes of Grandma’s apartment. I add accolades every time I send a letter from some far-flung location; Grandma loves mail. But Paula is the Only Daughter’s Only Daughter, she’s delivered two great-grandchildren and she’s percolating a third, so we’re in a close (ha!) race for Second Favorite (get in line, Kay, Betsy and Mollie).

(Grandma doesn’t have favorites. I’m only kidding. This is a race only in my mind.)

Within seconds of my announcement that I’d missed sending a card to Grandma for her birthday, my Beloved was on Google finding the florist nearest to her. He called and asked if he could have flowers delivered today to a woman in town who was turning 99.

I swear. That’s all he said. No name. No address. He provided his credit card and contact info, and a beautiful bouquet was on its way with an enclosure that said “Love, Monica.”

I rock.

Or at least my Beloved rocks. To-may-to, to-mah-to. The point is, Grandma lives in a town smallest enough to be the only resident turning 99 today. Or she’s that awesome.

She’s that awesome.


Happy birthday, Grandma!

Shuffling off this mortal coil

Mortality confronted me at every turn today.

In its least encounter, an important memory disk failed me at a crucial moment this afternoon.

This line from “Aliens”echoed quietly in my ears: “You have 15 minutes to reach minimum safe distance.”

See, mortality has no power without a deadline. But that’s why they call them deadlines, I guess: This moment in time marks death.

Deadlines for some functions are clearly defined. If, for example, you don’t pay your taxes by April 15, you’re in trouble. Big trouble.

But the really important deadlines, like the lifetime of your memory disk or your own lifetime (not necessarily listed in order of importance), are not clearly stated in terms of time. Machinery — man-made or God created — always fails at some point. There are limits. In the words of “Star Trek’s” Montgomery Scott, “I cannae change the laws of physics!”

It is simply a question of when.

One app to drop, one to adopt

Wunderlist is so last year, and Yelp is my new digital obsession

I used to love Wunderlist to keep track of everything I had to do, but Wunderlist 2 is a mess, and I can’t make it work on my laptop. I give up. Anyone got a better online list program to recommend?

Yelp is my latest go-to app for finding good restaurants. I love that I can read reviews on my phone, iPad or laptop (not that I need more to read on my iPad). I’ve taken to writing reviews now, too. I’m trying to get that hang of balancing clever with useful. If you eat out often, try Yelp (friend me if you like). Yelp reviews other businesses, too; have you consulted Yelp on other topics?

If you can wade through the rant against the White Sox, you’ll be rewarded with news you can use. Promise.

The mailbox will have to be fumigated after this unwelcome intrusion.

Look what I got in the mail today.


Part of my profile for this blog clearly states I root for the Minnesota Twins and any team playing against the White Sox. “The Ultimate White Sox Experience” for me would include a thorough butt-kicking of the Sox by the Twins, followed by a fireworks show celebrating the Twins division championship.

Alas, that’s not going to happen this year. But the last thing I need is the White Sox rubbing salt into the wound. Ouch. (I managed to catch the end of the Twins game on Tuesday when they beat the Indians in extra innings. In front of an almost empty stadium. It was that or Oprah Radio at that time of night. That’s the high point of Twins games lately.)

But I have recourse!

It’s a cool app called MailStop.

Pick up your cell phone and look for it now.

I’ll wait. It’s that cool. Go ahead.

It’s free. You really have no excuse.

Got it?

With this app, all you have to do is take a picture of the mailing portion of your junk mail, and MailStop — via Catalog Choice — will automatically notify the sender that you don’t want to receive their junk anymore!

Amazing, huh?

I downloaded it and set up an account a couple weeks ago in order to stop the increasing influx of baby-related mail addressed to my Beloved (he loves his adult children, but he doesn’t want any more of them!). Somehow last summer, Someone Who Knows got tipped off that my husband was [looking side to side for eavesdroppers] expecting. We started getting fliers from Best Baby Registry and magazine from Baby Talk. I wrote about this surprising and somewhat disturbing development here.

Let me emphasize: My husband is not pregnant.

And neither am I.

And we have no intention of taking that step.


So when I heard about MailStop, I seized on the opportunity to end the flow of car seat- and lactation-related mailings to my house.

And I got my first email today from Catalog Choice, a forwarded message from Carter’s, “the makers of clothing essentials for children”:

Thank you for contacting us about your mailing list information.  We’ve updated your record as you requested, but you may receive a few more emails/mailings from us until the change goes into effect.  If we can be of any further assistance, please let us know.  Thank you!

Is that a clever app or what? Less annoying junk mail. And all it takes is a few seconds to take a picture before you pitch it away.

I can hardly wait for the White Sox to send me a deferential email about removing me from their mailing list. Keep your smug winning record to yourself, thank you.