How To Collect Responses With A Google Form

While working on my Zero To Launch course work, I reached out to some friends and family members to try and find out what I’m good at.

Here’s the form I sent out:
http://goo.gl/qY6q8Z

Some folks asked for help making their own Google Form, so here it is.

All you need is a Gmail account, so that you can access Google Drive (formerly Docs).

1. Log in to Google Drive

From your Gmail account you access Drive in a couple of clicks. Click on the dots near the top right corner and then select ‘Drive’
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2. Create a new form

Once you’re inside your Google Drive, click on the ‘Create’ button and then select Form
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3. Give your form a name and select your template

The templates aren’t great, but at least it’s not all plain black and white :)
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4. Open up your form to the public (for Google Apps users)

If you’re a Google Apps user, you’ll have the option to keep this form private to users of your domain. Since we want the whole world to be able to submit a response, uncheck this option.
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5. Add your questions

This is the obvious part. Just ask people what you want to know. On my form I included some examples as well. Try and keep these as short and direct as possible to elicit honest answers.Google offers you a couple of different question types, ranging from simple text to multiple choice and even dates.

 

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6. Set up Responses in a spreadsheet

After you’ve sent out your form, Google Forms will begin collecting the responses you receive. You’ll be asked to choose how you’d like to store these responses. (Note: You can make this choice at any time while editing your form by clicking the Choose response destination button in the toolbar.)

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7. Create a shortlink (optional)

Google Drive links are long and ugly by default, so I use Goo.gl and bit.ly to make the link a little friendlier to share via email and IM<

Make Chrome faster on your Android and Desktop with just two clicks

NOTE: Don’t try this if your computer or phone a) doesn’t have a lot of RAM (4gb+) or b) stutters or struggles right now with the memory it does have. Same goes for phones, but 2GB RAM for mobiles.

1. Open this address inside Chrome:

chrome://flags/#max-tiles-for-interest-area

2. Here you can edit the max tile count. This essentially controls how much memory Chrome has access to. If you’re confident that you have lots of RAM, go for 512, otherwise do 256. You can always change it later.

 

Change Max tiles in Chrome to increase ram access

 

3. Relaunch Chrome

4. Monitor your memory usage
Make chrome faster

I’ve done this on both my Windows Desktop and my Galaxy Note 2 and so far the results have been great. It’s like a whole new browser!

Clear your Dropbox cache to free up space on your Android device

While listening to music on my Galaxy Note 2 I received a very weird error message – my device was almost out of space. I thought this odd since I have the 16GB version and a 64GB card as well.

So, I launched the Application Manager and saw that Dropbox was taking up almost 1GB by itself. This was even more confusing since I don’t have any files marked as favourites on my Android, so technnically Dropbox shouldn’t be taking up much space.

It turns out Dropbox creates a local cache of files that you open. My cache was almost a gig, but once I cleared it out, it was back down to 0.

Here’s How Clear Your Dropbox cache and free up space on your Android device.

1. Open Dropbox App
2. Click ‘Settings’
3. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and select “Clear Cache”

That’s all there is to it. Now you should have a bunch of free space available again.

How to charge your Android phone battery in hboot

The situation was grim. My HTC One X was stuck at the hboot screen. The bootloader was re-locked (I was trying to flash a new RUU) so I couldn’t get to CWM Recovery. The battery was dying. Things did not look good.

I had ignored the advice on the xda forum and was messing around on a low battery charge…

At this point, I would usually just flash the Unlock_code.bin file and reopen the bootloader, except I couldn’t – the battery was too low. And the battery can’t charge in hboot, it can only charge in CWM recovery. But I couldn’t get to CWM because the bootloader was relocked. Oh, what a frustrating paradox.

Using the fastboot getvar battery-voltage command I could see that there was an ever so small change in voltage when I charged, but not enough. I needed 3680mV in order to be able to flash the unlock token.

Luckily, I found this amazing ingenious trick on the XDA forums: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1658084&nocache=1

 

[infobox]

@echo off
:start
fastboot getvar battery-voltage

fastboot reboot-bootloader

ping /n 6 localhost >nul

goto start

[/infobox]

 

How to run the script when in USB Fastboot mode

  1. Open a text editor and paste in the code above
  2. Save as a .bat file. I saved mine as loop.bat – make sure it is in the same folder as fastboot and adb
  3. Connect phone to computer by usb and check to that Fastboot can see it (‘fastboot devices’)
  4. Start the batch in command prompt ‘start loop.bat’
  5. Get hyponitised by the slow, steady progress
  6. Once you reach the required 3680mV type ‘stop’
  7. Flash your unlock token by executing ‘ fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin’
  8. Cross your fingers

What this does is reboot the bootloader repeatedly. Which each reboot, the charge moves up incrementally, maybe 1 or 2 mV; and sometimes even down.

After leaving the bat file to run for an hour, I finally made it 3680mV and flashed the Unluck token. The stretch between 3660mV and 3680mV is the most agonizing, with change happening suuuuuuper slooooooowly.

Once you can get to CWM recovery, let your phone charge for a few hours, so that you can install your ROM or RUU without fear. As and aside, the ‘Mount USB’ commend does not work for the HTC One X on the build I tried (5.8.4) of Clockword Mod Recovery Touch, but it does work in the regular version, so if you still need to copy your rom to your USB, don’t use Touch. Although, it is easier just to flash using fastboot flash rom zip nameofrom.zip

9. Breathe a sigh of relief

Create A Personal Knowledge Base To Save Time When Solving Problems

I love to tinker with my tech, and many times I’ll end up either breaking something or setting it up incorrectly. At this point it’s usually off to Google to find a solution to my problem.

Some problems I run in to repeatedly and I have to dig around to find the results again which is a waste of time. Problems I run in to repeatedly include trouble when rooting an Android phone, how to fix a WordPress site that fails an update, installing php on a new server and how to reboot my Cisco Router; to name but a few.

With this in mind, I started a personal knowledge base to store all of the solutions I’ve found. So far, it’s been very useful and saved me lots of time. The internet is great for looking up things – it has all sorts of information available. The problem is often sifting through the tons of crap in order to find the one quality solution that actually works. This is where a Knowledge Base is very useful – you can save the information that is valuable to you in a way that is easily accessible.

Create a Personal Knowledge base in Bento

Right now my KB is stored inside Bento, but I’ve also tried a WordPress wiki and some free knowledge base software. I switched over to Bento because the others seemed like more work to maintain that in was worth. I can also easily access Bento on my iPad. In addition to this, I also have a bunch of text files with step by step instructions for complex tasks that I need to repeat often. I usually keep this on my desktop for the sake of easy access.

Personal Knowledge Base

It doesn’t matter how simple or complex your system is, having information you use often easily at hand is a great time-saver. Keeping a personal Knowledge Base is a good way to not only store your solutions, but also to understand them better; after all, when you write/ type something you have a better shot at retaining the information you’re dealing with.

Keep essential meds, tabs and capsules handy in an Altoids tin

I work in an office with a busted aircon. And I have a high stress job. And I love spicy food.

All of this means that at any point in my day I may need either some flu meds, some painkillers for my headache or an Alka seltzer to counter the Tabasco sauce I had with my chili.

I’ve found that an easy for me to keep these items handy, is to use an Altoids tin. The small size and the ability to snap nicely shut and stay out of way, make it perfect for me.  And if I’m honest, I love little Altoids tin projects in any way shape or form.

Store Your Meds in an Altoids Tin

Use an Altoids tin to keep meds handy

Here’s what I have inside my little tin:

  • 2 x Alka Seltzer
  • 2 x Tabcin cold and flu caps
  • 2 x Panadol painkillers
  • 1 x Panadol PM (useful when travelling)
  • 2 x Hydroxycut caps (in case of gym)
  • 1 x Centrum

It’s hand to stick a post-it on the inside of the tin with a list of what you keep inside. This makes it easy to refill your little kit, since you’ll always know what to put in your Altoids tin project.

How to listen to audio on a Bluetooth Headset (the mono kind) on an Android Phone

Bluetooth headsets have many drawbacks

  1. They make you look like a tool
  2. They’re often fussy, with short ranges and dropped connections
  3.  The audio isn’t that great, often bordering on crap

They do however, have their advantages:

  • They help you not to die while calling and driving
  • There are no wires

Considering point 3 above, why would you want listen to audio on a bluetooth headset? For me the answer is twofold:

First- audiobooks.  I listen to lots of them all of the time, and it’s nice to be able to do so without any wires.  It’s also nice not to be clutching my phone while walking around listening to my book,  I feel better having is nice and safe in my pocket.

Secondly, it’s great for Skype calls. A lot of handsets won’t allow Skype(or any other VOIP client) to access the bluetooth call functionality since it reserves this feature for the phone dialler. Finding a way to stream audio to your headset will allow you to use your bluetooth headset for making VOIP calls with Skype.

By default, Android will not stream audio to your mono bluetooth headset. It saves the audio streaming goodness for the A2DP stereo headphones.

Enter the BTHeadset app.

Listen To Audio On A Bluetooth Headset With The BTHeadset App

When I got my Sennheiser EZX60, I fired up the app and that was it. Nice and simple. You can download the BTHeadset App from the Google Play Store with this link:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.AngelOfMors.BTHeadSet

 

Now I can listen to my audiobooks or any other source (like webinars or navigation) audio through my bluetooth headset on my Android phone.

I also tried another app called BT Mono, but when I did a sound test, BTHeadSet provided better sound quality than the BT Mono app.

Caveat:

This service actively runs in the background on your device, so it will consume your battery. I have not used it for long enough to know what kind of impact this will have over a long period of time.

Do you know of any other apps that help you listen to audio on bluetooth headset?

How To Check Your WDCMA settings on Android

My girlfriend was having trouble getting the 3G connection on her Android phone to work at full speed and while on a support chat with her telco, she needed to find her WCDMA status (Samsung Galaxy Captivate i897; Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1). She asked me how to find the information, so I figured I would share.

How to find your Android WCDMA settings

In your phone dialer, enter the following string:
*#*#4636#*#*

This will open up your phone’s testing menu.

In this menu, select “Phone info”

Your WCMDA information is near the bottom ofthe screen.

 

“What the hell is a WCDMA?” I hear you ask?

The technical explanation involves lots of talk about radios and frequencies, but I’ll try and keep it English.

Essentially, if you select GSM only, you’ll have access to 2G and 2.5G. This mean you’ll see GPRS or Edge on your phone’s connection.

But since it ain’t nothing but a 3G thang, we don’t want that.

WCDMA let’s you access 3G networks via either normal 3G or HSDPA. Which means you can read this blog post faster, and that’s a good thing.

As a general rule, leave your settings at WCDMA Automatic, which means that your phone will be able to switch between these frequencies whenever they are available.

TIP: If your Android loses 3G connectivity and it won’t re-connect. Turn off your data connection for ten seconds, and then turn it back on. This is a variation of the Airplane Mode trick, because it turns the 3G radio itself off and then back on, forcing it to hunt for the connection.

 

Android WCDMA Settings

Trigger Torrent Downloads by email in Mac OSX with Dropbox and IFTTT

This is a nifty little recipe for triggering a torrent download using Dropbox, Transmission and IFTTT on Mac OSX.

It’s useful if you find a torrent you want to download but you’re not at your computer. Combined with the new Power Nap feature which can keep one eye open on your apps in the background even when your Mac is asleep, this formula for Transmission Remote downloads is a great little Mac trick.

1.Set Up Transmission to Watch A Dropbox Folder

Enable Transmission Watch Folders

This will allow Transmission to keep an eye on a folder that you specify. When a new torrent file is added to the folder you choose, Transmission will automatically start downloading the torrent.

  • Open Transmission Preferences
  • Click ‘Transfers’ and select ‘Adding’
  • Enable ‘Start transfers when added’

This means that the transfer will download as soon as you add the torrent file, without the need to confirm the location or any other settings.

Tip: It’s useful to set up some filters for different file types. e.g. I have a rule that automatically stores any file with an avi extension in the Movies directly on my secondary drive. I also have my torrent files set to delete after completion, so the Torrents folder stays nice and clean.

If you need a Dropbox account, you can create a free account here:

Enable ‘Auto Add’

This will allow Transmission monitor a folder that you specify. If a torrent file is added to this folder, Transmission will automatically start downloading the file (assuming the computer is a) powered on and b) connected to the internet).

I created a folder called ‘Torrents’ in my Dropbox folder and set Transmission to watch it. Now, no matter where I am I can upload a torrent file to Dropbox and my computer at home will start the transfer.

Tip: You might want to set a threshold for seeding if bandwidth is an issue. I have mine set to 1:1. Sharing is caring after all.

 

2. Email files to Dropbox using IFTTT

  • For this to work, you will need an account with IFTTT. You can create one here – www.ifttt.com

Once your account is open, you will need to enable Dropbox as a ‘Channel.’ Click on Channels, then select Dropbox and complete the authentication process.

Once authentication is done, select this recipe  – https://ifttt.com/recipes/68867 – and add it to your Recipes.

Now, whenever you send an email to triggers@ifttt.com with the tag #dropbox in the subject line, it will add whatever file you have attached to the Torrents directory in your Dropbox account (or any other directory you choose for that matter).

And since Transmission is watching this folder, it will start the download for you.

 

Email files to Dropbox IFTTT recipe

 

 

I know that if you’re attaching a file to your dropbox, you may as well just log in to Dropbox and upload it that way, but I like doing it this way for two reasons

  1. It’s cool, and it got me thinking of other ways I can use this (e.g. I have a nifty recipe which allows me to email in any audio file and Dropbox will convert it to an MP3. Way cool)
  2. You might not always want to log in to my Dropbox account, e.g. if you are at work. But you could, for argument’s sake have a rule that forwards any mail from your work with the tag #dropbox to triggers@ifttt.com. So that way you can DL a torrent file at the office, mail it to yourself and kick off the torrent back home, without even having to open your personal email account.

How the internet lets me stay awake 24 hours a day. Sort of.

Right now, I am asleep. And it’s not even today. Right now, it’s actually last week, which is when I wrote this post.

You see, this is a scheduled post, which means I wrote it, set a posting date and then went along my business (probably writing another post). But what about the Facebook post and the Tweet I sent out about this post? Also scheduled, so that they would go out after the article was published. I was, in fact having a sandwhich at the time.

How does it work?

I run my blog on WordPress, which I consider one of the best bloggin platforms around. Whenever I write my blog posts (usually on Sundays) I schedule them to be posted at different times and dates using the built in scheduling option. There’s not much to it, and anyone can learn how to schedule wordpress posts in just three steps

How To Schedule WordPress Posts

how to schedule a wordpress post

  1. Write your post
  2. Click on the Publish date and set it to whatever you want
  3. Click ‘Publish’ et voila.

You will receive a confirmation message above the post editor that let’s you know when your post will be published.

“Post scheduled for: Jun 22, 2012 @ 6:00”

That really is all there is to it

Tip #1 – WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin.

Sometimes looking at all your upcoming posts in list view can be a little disorientating – you don’t get a clear sense of what is posted when. To solve this problem, I use a plugin called WordPress Editorial Calendar to show me exactly when my posts will be sent out.

Have a look – each of these is scheduled to be posted at around 2-3pm South African time, which is when I get the best response to content I post.

Wordpress Editorial Calendar Plugin
You can download the plugin here

Tip #2 – Posting to Facebook and Twitter in the Future

To help me schedule my Status updates and Tweets I use Buffer. It works by allowing you to set a time window for your content to be published. Most of the traffic to this blog comes from South Africa, which is why my posts are set to go out between 10am and 4pm SA time. That’s 2am to 8am my time. And I’m still fast asleep.

Buffer App for Social Media

Status updates and Tweets are intentionally scheduled to go out later than blog posts and not at the same time. I learned the hard way that it’s better to give it a little while (caching, daylight savings time, whatever).

buffer-time-setting

You can create a free Buffer account here

Using these two simple tools, I’m able to post content, comments,status updates and tweets pretty much around the clock. Which in my opinion is pretty cool.

Go ahead, try it for yourself – it’s easier than you think and people will think that you are somehow magically awake all the time.

Img Src: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bootcoot/4802606550/in/faves-joeshlabotnik/

Feedly – How To Stay on Top Of Your World With RSS feeds

A lot of people ask me how I manage to stay current and up to date with things going on in the world. With so much happening every second of every day, it’s hard to stay up to date. In the past I would subscribe to dozens of email newsletters, but that soon became a nightmare. Later, I started using RSS feeds, but even that became too hard to handle (I know now that it was down the way Google made me read the feeds – very hard)

My secret weapon is the way I use my RSS feeds now – with Feedly.

www.feedly.com

I subscribe to about 100 or so blogs via RSS and they generate a ton of new content. Trying to keep up with all of this in Google Reader is impossible.

Good Reader looks overwhelming

 

Feedly displays the content I love in an easy read manner – it makes it look like a magazie. Great design, cool themes and a nice layout make the content instantly easier to consume. The fact that I only see a few articles at a time also means that I don’t feel overwhelmed and compelled to close it down because it’s all just too much.

My favourite Feedly feature is the fact that it is available on Mac and PC (as a Chrome extension), on Android and iOs. So I can read anywhere I am. And when I mark an article as read in one place, it’s marked as read everywhere.

Feedly for Chrome
Feedly for Firefox
Feedly for Android
Feedly for iOS

Feedly allows me to categorise my feeds into groups, so when I feel like reading about Gadgets, I click the Gadget category. This kind of organization also helps me decide what to read. I always read my Alerts first, then my Marketing feeds, etc.

If you need to monitor lots of content or just want to make your existing feeds nicer to look at, try Feedly.

Make Chrome even better with Awesome New Tab page

I use Chrome as my default browser on my Mac and Pc, and it is a fantastic browser. Fantastic as it it, there are a few ways to make it even better. Most of these improvements come in the way of a Chrome extension, which are available in the Chrome web store

My new favourite extension is the aptly named Awesome New Tab Page.
This one does what it says on the tin – whenever you open a new tab in Chrome, this makes it worthy of awe. Or at least a blog post.

Awesome New Tab Page For Chrome
You can configure a number of Metro style tiles to be shortcuts to whatever you like. These can be your browser favourites or some of the widgets that this extension offers. I am using the Gmail widget as well as the Open Tabs widget.

After spending about 5 minutes with this extension, I have my new tab page set up just the way I like in order to help me find my most used web pages and tools. You can even set the colour on each tile as well as the icon it displays.

You can download the Chrome extension from the Chrome Web store

Use a business card holder as a phone cradle for your desk – today’s #lifehack

I’ve been having a really hard time finding a dock for my phone in Costa Rica. The Samsung Galaxy was never officially sold here, so accessories are understandably hard to come by.

A few months ago I also got a new desk, which meant it was time for new stationery. I went out and got myself one of those “I’m a productive person” all in one sets, and one of the included times was a business card holder.

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As soon. I saw it I realized that this was the phone cradle I had been looking for. Now my phone rest comfortably on my desk either in portrait or landscape, I had to bend the metal a little bit to get the angle just right, but now it’s perfect.

20120426-192042.jpg

 

Sound Manger Android app stops your phone from waking you in the middle of the night

In the past I had a problem where my phone notifications would wake me if I got one in the middle of the night. This is especially a problem when receiving email from clients in different time zones.

Now I use sound manager to create a sound schedule – my notifications are silenced at 11pm and then reactivated at 6am so I can sleep through the night.

During this time my ringer and message tones still work, in case something important comes in. But at least now I don’t get woken up every time I get a retweet in a different time zone.

  

You can set up as many schedules as you need and you can control your ringer, message tone and notifications , so this is a very flexible app. It also has a great price – FREE.

Get it now on the Google Play Market
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.roozen.SoundManagerv2&hl=en

Create a strong exoskeleton for your laptop backpack with a cheap in tray

I’m paranoid when it comes to my gadgets, especially my Macbook. I spend a fair amount of time lugging it around in my backpack, and from time to time I put the backpack down a little too hard or bump against something.

Now I use a cheap in metal in tray to protect my Macbook.

1. Buy a cheap metal ‘in’ tray.

Make sure that it’s just a little larger than your laptop so that you get good coverage. I found one with a curved lip at the end, which is better for easily sliding your laptop in and out of your backpack.

laptop-exoskeleton-1

2.Check that your laptop fits in the tay

My laptop lives in a pouch, so I measured it while in the pouch, it fit just fine.laptop-exoskeleton-2

 

3. Insert the tray in to your backpack’s laptop compartment

With my Targus backpack, the tray slid right in with no issues, I’m showing it peeking out here, but the tray is fully concealed in side the compartment. Make sure that the back of the tray is facing the back of the pack.

laptop-exoskeleton-3

4.Slide your laptop in to your new exoskeleton

laptop-exoskeleton-4

Now that I have this in my backpack, the bottom of my laptop is protect by the bottom of the tray, so if I do put the back down too hard, the tray will take the hit. The back is also protected. This isn’t an issue when you’re wearing your pack, but it can be a lifesaver when your pack tips over or someone accidentally kicks your pack when it’s on the floor (it’s happened, it was ugly).

Overall, the in tray hack doesn’t add much weight to my backpack, and what little weight is does add, I’m more than happy to live with when I consider the added peace of mind this little lifehack affords me.