Cool Stuff that Siri can do for You

June 12, 2013 at 12:48 pm (Apple, How-to, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, Productivity) (, , , , )

You may already be a seasoned professional when it comes to using Siri, but there are always more goodies you can add to your bag of tricks. When Siri first became available on the iPhone, one of the first things I asked was “What can you do for me?” and Siri tossed up a handful of suggestions. Back then, they were fairly simple things like calling people, sending texts, and setting reminders. Siri has evolved in the nearly two years that we have been using her assistance. There are a lot more things you can outsource Siri to do for you now. 

Here are just a few:

Say/Ask This:                                          To Do This:

Call (Mike / my brother)               Call a person (by name or relationship)

Launch ‘Facebook’                        Launch (app of choice)

Tell Malissa I’m on my way           Sends text to (person) with your message

Set up a meeting at 9am              Adds a meeting onto your schedule

Did the Broncos win today?         Checks and reports team scores 

Give me directions to Selmer       Gives directions to any named place

Tweet a message                          Tweets a message to post to Twitte

What movies are playing?            Tells what movies are playing nearby

Play brandi carlile                          Plays (singer) or (playlist) that you request

Remind me to pay bills                 Sets a reminder based on your request

Email Nik about the trip                 Sends email to (person) about (subject)

What’s today’s weather?                Tells you the weather forecast 

What’s apple’s stock price             Tells you company’s stock price

Wake me tomorrow at 9am           Sets an alarm for 9am 

What’s Nancy’s address?               Gets (person’s) address

Note that i need to buy milk          Adds a note to buy milk

Search the web for xxx                  Searches web for (chosen topic)

Define (word)                                  Looks up and gives definition of (word)

Find a good Sushi place                Lists nearby Sushi (or other) restaurants

In addition to the above commands, you can also have Siri help with punctuation and a few emoticons (oh, come on. You knew it was only a matter of time). 😉  Speaking punctuation such as “new paragraph”,  “new line”, “cap”, “period”, “full stop”,  or “(other desired punctuation mark)”,  will get the desired results most of the time.  Some emoticons  work, such as “smiley” or “smiley face”, “frowny” or “frowny face”,  and “wink face”. 

There is occasionally a glitch if Siri doesn’t understand you.  Get some practice by speaking normally, being sure to enunciate your words properly.  The more you use it, the more accurate your results will be.

Most of those listed above are, believe it or not, fairly basic uses of Siri.  She has evolved quite a bit in the past couple of years.  Some of the even more impressive tasks Siri can help you manage now include the following:  search other web browsers (Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia) for information; update your social network status on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ via SMS (must set up ahead of time);  see and set calendar appointments for a certain day;  tell you what actors were in a particular movie; set or delete alarms; list flight times;  restart springboard/finder;  and more.  Calculations and other “fact-type” questions are searched using Wolfram Alpha. It is also integrated with Remember the Milk and other applications, to make those apps even easier to use. 

Many folks are aware that Siri also has some nifty little Easter Eggs, as well as a rather wicked (programmed) sense of humor.  There are at least a few blogs dedicated to these chuckle-inducing experiences, along with some dedicated to funny “oops” moments when a word is misspelled or misunderstood, yielding some unpredictable and often hilarious results. 

I tried a few questions early on, several of them the same that many others have also tossed at our able silicon-based assistant. Just a few samples:

Siri StarWars 2

Q:  “What can you tell me about ‘Star Wars (1977)’?”  
A:   “It’s about a couple of really nice robots who get mixed up in a silly intergalactic war”.  

Q:  “Define supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”  
A:   “The sound of that is something quite atrocious”.

Q:  “Who is on first?”
A:   “Correct. Who is on first.”  

 Q:  “What is the meaning of life?” 
 A:  “All evidence to date points to chocolate” (“42” is another hilarious answer).

These are just the tip of the iceberg regarding things that Siri can help you do these days.  I suspect that with iOS 7, that list will increase exponentially. I love having Siri help me make quick work of my tasks.  That gives me that much more time to spend on things that are really important.  Those are just a few that I’ve asked, and I’ve heard of or read many dozens more.  I’m glad the programmers made it a bit humorous. It makes me think they thought even more of their end user. 

What are your favorite things about Siri?  Have you had any humorous interactions with her? What would you like to see in iOS 7?  Let me know in the comments.   

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GeoWoodstock X: 10th Anniversary back where it all began

May 30, 2012 at 5:46 am (Geocaching) (, , , )

Us with Signal

I began geocaching on August 6, 2010. My misadventure started in a wooded area just a few blocks from our house. We were looking for the ubiquitous “ammo can in the woods”.  Little did I know at the time how difficult that would prove to be to a total newcomer to the game.  I won’t bore you with all the details, except to say that I chose badly for my first attempt.  I spent about an hour in a dense wooded area, trees so thick it seemed to be nearing sunset by mid-afternoon. Also, if you know anything about the South, you’ll know that August in the woods is not exactly a pleasant walk in the park. There were several contributing factors: actual temperature greater than 100ºF, humidity greater than 65%, no trails, mosquitoes so thick, they looked like dark, hovering clouds, a few sightings of slithery things, and too many spiders to mention.  Then, there were the souvenirs: the ticks. There were dozens of ticks. Even three days later, I was still finding a wayward tick that had climbed from my hiking shoes or my cap or somewhere. Oh, and I didn’t find the cache. Yet.

I deepened my resolve, did a little bit of reading about searching for ones first cache, then set my sights on more realistic beginning caches. My first find was at the site of a small electrical transformer. There was a fence around the transformer, and the corners of the fence had those silver dome-shaped caps like you see on playgrounds and athletic fields. I lifted one of the caps, looked under it, and found my first cache: a film canister had been attached to the cap with velcro. Inside the canister was the cache log. I signed it, then logged my find online when I got home.  I was hooked.  Incidentally, ten days after my initial attempt, I went back to the woods and found the ammo can.

For a bit of background, geocaching began on May 3, 2000, when a cache was hidden in the hills outside Portland, Oregon.  This occurred the day after selective availability was turned off, which allowed civilians to make use of satellites that had previously only been used by the military, NASA, and others with specific needs. In one day, GPS devices were suddenly ten times more accurate.  A paint bucket filled with rewards was hidden and those finding it signed the log.  Within a few days, several people had found it, and geocaching was born. Fast-forward a decade, and after hearing about the sport for some time, decided to give it a go myself. 

I’m happy to report that, after my first minor misstep, the rest of my caching attempts were much more successful. I’ve found some incredibly creative caches over the past couple of years.  Some of the more memorable ones include a tiny tube glued to a penny and buried into the ground (so unless you picked up the penny, you would miss the cache), a tiny canister the size of an acorn, stuffed into one of a bunch of grapes and hidden in wisteria covering an arbor, and a large rectangular box that appeared to be a university study of a bat house — it was pure genius!

After going to an Earth Day event at a local park, we found out about an upcoming event, GeoWoodstock X.  It was to be a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the sport of geocaching. The event was to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, where the first GeoWoodstock event was held ten years prior. This day-long event cache, with workshops, music, and other caching-related activities, has become the world’s largest geocaching-related event.  We decided to go, and, in spite of the over-100ºF temperatures while we were there, we had a great time.  We saw a large number of creative caches, learned a lot about the sport, and met some great folks.

If you’ve never gone geocaching, try it.  The really great thing about it is that it can be done anywhere, city or country, urban or rural. All you need is a GPS unit, either a standalone version or a smartphone with a GPS using a geocaching app. I generally use my iPhone 4S running the official Geocaching app, but I also have a Magellan Explorist GC that I’m learning to use.  We came home energized, ready to put into practice all we had learned at the event. I have even started making some creative caches of my own that I plan to hide soon, but that is another story. To learn more about geocaching, go to www.geocaching.com

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You’ve Purchased HOW Many Apps???

June 18, 2011 at 1:45 am (Apple, Applications, Humor, iDevices, iPhone/iPod Touch, shareware) (, , , , , )

I stumbled across this Mac application recently after seeing one of my friends, @chartier, tweet about it and thought I’d share it with you so we can all be staggering around in disbelief at the sheer number of apps that we have purchased (and how much we’ve spent on them!). I’d been trying to find a program like this after a friend and I were discussing how many apps we’d purchased for our iDevices. After seeing David’s tweet, I decided to download it and give it a go.

The application, by WetFish Software, is called App Store Expense Monitor. It’s a free app (donations accepted).  It’s just a straightforward zip file for your Mac. Run it, and the program finds all the apps in your iTunes Mobile Applications folder. It tells you the App, Developer, Category, and Price of the apps you’ve downloaded.

AppStoreExpensesInfo

It shows the current price of the app, although you can edit the price to reflect what you actually paid for it — good for those that might have been free or that even (gasp!) cost more when you purchased it than they do now.

It can be exported as a CSV or XML file.  I did have to change the path so my Mobile Apps folder could be located, as it wasn’t quite in the standard spot. However, this was easy enough to do, as it just involved choosing the desired path and selecting it in the options.

Try it and see what you think.  You can download from their website here:  http://wetfish.de/software/osx/app-store-expense-monitor/ . I have 342 apps totaling $593.57.  Leave me a comment below and let’s compare purchases.

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