American Genius’ preferred productivity tool
Trello is one of our favorite productivity tools. It organizes thoughts, projects, and collaborations effortlessly onto boards. If you haven’t tried Trello, it is one tool I really recommend to anyone and everyone who happens to ask me what my favorite app is as a freelance writer.
Create a card by dragging a URL
If you’re a seasoned Trello user, however, you know it’s a great tool, but did you know there are some wonderful tips and tricks that can streamline your Trello use? The first one is probably the one I use most often on my own board: you can drag URLs over to a Trello board and a card is created with the relevant data including a description and image.
This is so much easier than copying and pasting these components individually.
The same process works with Airbnb listings and Slack conversations as well. You can also create a new Trello card from a spreadsheet. Simply copy and paste any spreadsheet list onto a card and Trello will list items as separate cards.
Rearrange your cards with your keyboard
The rest of these tips will deal with helping you manage, organize, and prioritize the cards you have already created. If you need to rearrange your cards, you can drag and drop them in new locations, but you can also add the “^” symbols and a number after a card to move it to a new position.
If you need to move it to a different list, use the “^” symbol then the name of your list (instead of a number); once you get used to using this method it’s a super fast way to rearrange your cards.
Attach files from your Google Drive, Dropbox, or e-mail
You can also attach files from your Google Drive and Dropbox easily: click “attach file” in the sidebar and then select what you need. If the information you need isn’t in the cloud, but rather is in your email, Trello has a hack for this too. Each of your Trello boards has a unique email address which can be found in the sidebar menu. When you email to your board, the subject of the email will become the card title and the body will be the card description; another super easy way to organize your information.
Tag team members on important cards
Another one of my favorite hacks is the ability to tag team members. So many times when you’re collaborating on a project you miss something that you need to address simply because of constant notifications and information overload. To get someone’s attention, simply use Trello’s “@mentions.” This works just like Twitter and Instagram: use the “@” along with the person’s username and you can tag the person you need. Once they’re tagged, they will receive and alert and will know they need to address something on the Trello board.
Enable desktop notifications
A great way to keep up with those alerts is by enabling desktop notifications. On the notifications menu, select “enable desktop notifications” and you’ll receive updates no matter what tab you’re currently using. You can also save time by color coding and customizing Trello card labels. You can select a specific color for items that are “in progress,” “on hold,” and “high priority.” This way you can clearly see what needs to be completed first without reading the card; just look for the colored labels.
Finally, if you need faster hacks, Trello has a set of one-key shortcuts. From your Trello board you can press the “?” key at any time to see a list of these shortcuts, but here’s a couple of my favorites.
You can assign or unassign yourself to any card by pressing the space bar. The “q” key will show you a list of all the card currently assigned to you. The “n” key allows you quickly add a new card and you can archive old cards with the “c” key.
Give the hacks a try
If you haven’t given Trello a try, you definitely need to take a look. It’s one of the easiest productivity tools I’ve found and with these additional hacks, Trello has never been easier to use. Have you tried any of these hacks? If so, which one is your favorite?
Extend your smart home to the mailbox with the Ring Mailbox Sensor
(TECH NEWS) With the rise of the smart home and mail theft, Amazon’s new Ring product is the perfect addition to protect your letters and packages.
Pop the wireless, battery-powered motion sensor in your mailbox, and it will alert you when someone opens the lid or door. You can get a notification in the Ring app on your smartphone and, because Ring is an Amazon company, through any Alexa-enabled device. (So your Ecobee thermostat can tell you you’ve got mail. Cool.)
The sensor’s biggest benefit: You can immediately collect your mail when you get an alert that it’s been delivered. If you’re home.
There’s no camera with live view or speaker for yelling at the thief to drop your stuff, although you can do that with any microphone-enabled cameras near your mailbox.
But if you’ve ringed your home with Ring products, you can set the sensor to turn on Smart Lights or to make the video doorbell or security cameras start recording. If your mailbox is near your front door, however, that will probably already be happening after those devices detect motion. The sensor could be very useful for mailboxes at the end of a long driveway and out of sight of any cameras.
You can preorder the Mailbox Sensor ($29.99) at Ring.com and Amazon.com starting on Oct. 8. To connect the sensor with the doorbell, smart lights, and Alexa devices, you’ll need the Ring Bridge ($49.99).
You may want to keep an eye on Amazon’s new Sidewalk technology, however. Sidewalk is designed to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network. It siphons off a small part of your bandwidth, and that of your neighbors with Amazon-related devices, to create a crowd-sourced neighborhood network.
Amazon has released a list of devices – mostly Echoes and cameras – that will act as bridges themselves, and it’s not yet clear how the Mailbox Sensor will interact with all of that in the future. By the way, if privacy concerns were the first thing that popped into your head when you read that, check out Amazon’s Sidewalk white paper on privacy.
FYI: If your mail is stolen, You should report to the USPS, using their online form. You could report to the police via 311 but know that it’s unlikely officers will pursue the crime.
The best defense against thieves is still a locked mailbox. It’s not fool-proof, of course, but it can make thieves take longer to get at your mail. But if they take the sensor with your mail, or even your whole mailbox, Ring will replace the Mailbox Sensor for free.
You can find out more about the Mailbox Sensor in Ring’s support FAQ.
Degree holders are shifting tech hubs and affordability
(TECH NEWS) Tech hubs are shifting as degree holders move, but it’s causing some other issues and raising some interesting questions about the future of jobs.
Bloomberg recently announced their annual “Brain” Indexes. The indexes are an annual reckoning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs and degree holders. The “Brain Concentration Index” approximates the number of people working full time in computer, engineering, and science jobs (including math and architecture.) It measures the median earnings for people in those jobs. It also counts how many people have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field, or an advanced degree of any kind. It blends those things together to determine how “brainy” a city is.
Since they started in 2016, Boulder, CO has been at the top of the list. This year it’s followed by San Jose, CA, which many people might expect to be at the top. Many of the more surprising cities, like Ann Arbor, MI, Ithaca, NY, and even Lawrence, KS, are bolstered by the presence of a strong university.
It’s an interesting methodology. It’s worth noting that anyone with an advanced degree, whether it’s an MBA, a law degree, or a Ph.D. in literature, contributes to which city is a “tech hub.” It’s also worth noting how expensive many of these places are to live.
If you follow this kind of national data collection at all, you may also know that Boulder is one of the least-affordable cities in the country. So is the San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara metro area, with a median home price of 1.25 million dollars and a median household income of $117,474. (That means that the average mortgage is more than half of the average paycheck). However many people tech hubs like San Jose and San Francisco attract, they’re also hemorrhaging talent. Every day, 8 Californians move to Austin. Of the people who stay, more than half are thinking of moving.
They aren’t doing that for fun. As much flak as Californians get for gentrifying places like Austin, they’re being megagentrified out of their own homes. As salaries rise and CEO gigs attract the wealthy (and turn them into the Uberwealthy), the people who wait on tables or teach their children can’t afford to stay there anymore.
Speaking of people leaving, Bloomberg also measured what they call “brain drain,” the flow of advanced degree holders out of cities. They pair that with a decline in white-collar jobs and a decline in STEM pay to come up with their annual list. It includes places like Lebanon, PA and Kahului, HI.
All in all, it’s interesting information. But there are other factors at work that it can’t speak to. What does wage stagnation in the U.S. mean for the flow of education workers? If San Jose and San Francisco can be tech hubs based on the number of people with degrees, but people are still fleeing, what does that say about rankings like these? What human stories get lost in the shuffle? And is “tech hub” even something a city wants to be if that means running out of teachers (or making them sleep in garages)? Where does the next generation of tech hub workers come from?
Knowing the people behind the numbers makes it clear just what a mixed bag this is. Maybe we need more tech hubs like Lawrence, Kansas. Or maybe we need rent control. Or maybe we need to embrace remote work. Maybe there are no answers. As interesting as data like this is, there’s something sort of wistful about it, too.
New Apple Watch is awesome, but past watches could be just as good for cheaper
(TECH NEWS) The Apple Watch Series 6 is a ridiculous display of self-flattery—but that doesn’t mean people won’t line up to buy it in droves.
The Apple Watch has been the subject of everything from speculation to ridicule during its relatively short tenure on this planet. While most have nothing but praise for the most recent iteration, that praise comes at a cost: The Apple Watch’s ghost of Christmas past.
Or, to put it more literally, the fact that the Apple Watch’s prior version and accompanying variations are too good—and, at this point, too comparatively cheap—to warrant buying the most recent (and expensive) option.
Sure, the Apple Watch Series 6 has a bevy of health features—a sensor that can take an ECG and a blood oxygen test, to name a couple—but the Series 5 has almost everything else that makes the Apple Watch Series 6 “notable.” According to Gear Patrol, even the Series 4 is comparable if you don’t mind forgoing the option to have the Apple Watch’s screen on all of the time.
More pressingly, Gear Patrol points out, is the availability of discount options from Apple. The Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are, at this point, budget options that still do the job for smart watch enthusiasts.
Not to mention any Apple Watch can run updates can utilize Apple’s Fitness Plus subscription—another selling point that, despite its lucrative potential, doesn’t justify buying a $400 watch when a cheaper option is present.
It’s worth noting that Apple is no stranger to outdoing themselves retroactively. Every year, Apple’s “new” MacBook, iPhone, and iPad models are subjected to extensive benchmarking by every tech goatee around. And the conclusion is usually that buying a generation or two behind is fine—and, from a financial perspective, smart.
And yet, as the holidays roll around or the initial drop date of a new product arrives, Apple invariably goes through inventory like a tabby cat through unattended butter.
The Apple Watch is already a parody of itself, yet its immense popularity and subtle innovation has promoted it through several generations and a few spin-off iterations. And that’s not even including the massive Apple-specific watch band market that appears to have popped up as a result.
Say what you will about the Series 6; when the chips are on the table, my money’s on the consumers making the same decisions they always make.
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