Organize Holiday Gifts and Black Friday Shopping With the LifeTopix App

With just about a month away from the holidays, this is a great time for getting your holiday gift lists together. Whether you have a whole house of elves to buy for or if you’re just making a few purchases, the LifeTopix app can help you get it all organized. The end result? A magical holiday that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. And if you’re braving the Black Friday crowds, no time is better than today to pick up the LifeTopix personal organization app at the App Store, while it’s promotionally priced at 99 cents.

This post was created using the next update of LifeTopix that will be available within the next few weeks. It gives you a sneak peek into our enhanced shopping features; however, the LifeTopix Shopping topic provides great value today for creating shopping lists, creating gift lists, and tracking received gifts — all in context with everything else you do in your life.

Configuring Sellers in LifeTopix

Before you get started creating your holiday shopping lists, you should configure a few sellers in LifeTopix from where you frequently purchase items. LifeTopix works with your iOS Contacts so I recommend starting there. If you’re using iOS 6, a quick way to add your favorite stores is to go to your iOS Maps app, and then enter the name of the store in the search field. When the store is found and displayed, tap it. And after the store’s page displays, tap Add to Contacts as shown in the following illustration.

Contacts

This way, all the location information is saved, and LifeTopix can leverage it for shopping when you add a seller via Shopping -> Configure Sellers in LifeTopix. You can see the information for sellers in LifeTopix by viewing the illustration below.

Configure Sellers

Once your sellers are configured, you’ll be able to associate them to shopping items in LifeTopix. This will be convenient when you’re planning your shopping trips.

Configuring Products in LifeTopix

One you’ve configured your sellers, you can start adding the products that you frequently buy or that you’ll be planning to buy during the holiday season. Take note —  you can select multiple sellers for a product, allowing you to choose the best seller depending on location or other factors. To configure products, go to Shopping -> Configure Products, and then click the Plus Sign. An example of a product is shown in the following illustration. 

Configure LifeTopix Seller

Associating bookmarks and photos is especially helpful for products. You can link websites with product information or photos of the gifts you wish to purchase.

Organizing Gifts for Others

A master gift list with the gift recipients; the products you want to buy; the prices for each gift; and also any tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, and files (such as photos) is essential for the organized gift giver. LifeTopix makes creating these master lists simple. To get started, go to Shopping -> Gifts for Others, and then click the Plus Sign. From there, you can set this information as shown in the following illustrations.

LifeTopix Gift

Once you’ve set this information, it’s added to your master gift list and each of these items can be automatically added as shopping items by using the green down arrow and tapping Create Shopping Item as shown in the following illustration.

LifeTopix Shopping Item

After you’ve finished your master list, and you’re ready to start shopping, you might wish to create a shopping list because it will provide a total cost and also show you the stores in a map view, which will help you plan your shopping trips. Moreover, you can collaborate on these shopping lists with your friends or family via email or social meda.

Creating Shopping Lists and Wish Lists

Shopping lists have always been a key component of LifeTopix. They help you keep track of the things that you buy at the supermarket, hardware store, or any other retail establishment. When the holiday season arrives, shopping lists are even more important to keep you organized and sane. In the following example, I’ve created two shopping lists. The first one is my “Christmas List,” which includes the gifts I’m planning to purchase for others. The second list is my “My Christmas Wish List,” which includes the items that I would like purchased for me. Creating shopping lists and wish lists is a great way to ensure all your family members and friends get what they really want. And collaborating with others ensures you don’t buy the same gift for Sally or Uncle Joe.

LifeTopix Shopping Lists

In the upcoming update, we’ve introduced a split screen for adding your shopping items to your lists, as shown in the following illustration. This makes adding items even easier than before.

LifeTopix Shopping List

Also take note that you can view the total cost of all your items if you configure the cost for your shopping list items, as shown in the following illustration.

LifeTopix Shopping Lists

Keep in mind, in LifeTopix these lists can be shared via email and then opened on the recipients’ iOS devices and used within LifeTopix. Encourage your family members to use the sharing capabilities shown in the following illustration to share their wish lists with you. You can open the lists directly from your email in LifeTopix by tapping and holding the attachment in the email message, and then tapping Open in LifeTopix.

LifeTopix Share Gift List

Because LifeTopix Shopping is one of 12 connected life topics, you can see your shopping trips on your master calendar if you’ve set a due date. This will help you plan accordingly, depending on the other commitments that you might have.

Calendars

Planning Your Shopping Trips

After you’ve created your shopping lists, and you’re ready to start shopping, location services can help you maximize the time that you have. If you’ve set an address for your sellers as described above, you’ll see the sellers on your map and the products shown in a list below the map. This will help you plan the most efficient route for your holiday shopping trip.

We hope this helps you get started with the shopping season. Good luck and happy holidays!

A Superior Home Theater Network for 1080p Media Streaming

Getting my home theater network organized and running like a well-oiled machine is critical for me because when I have downtime, I want the best experience possible, instead of constantly rebooting devices to avoid buffering. I wanted to share how I got a rock solid and fast home network set up with three goals:

  1. High quality streaming of 1080p content from online services like Vudu, Netflix and iTUnes Movies on Apple TV.
  2. Streaming from in-home media servers (DLNA)
  3. Super-fast downloads of updates and content on media devices like the PS3

Solid Inter-room Networking

Of course the best solution for this is a house that is wired with gigabit ethernet  to all relevant rooms. Our house is older and like is the case with most folks, is not wired with ethernet (gigabit or otherwise) across all rooms. So the first challenge was how to reliably get high bandwidth network connections between rooms. The three things I tried:

  1. INFERIOR. First, I tried to connect each device (that supported it) via wireless to the home wireless router. The streaming was just not rock-solid and high bandwidth enough for 1080p. Bandwidth reported by TV and PS3 was in the range of 1.5 – 5 Mbps in my case. Just not enough.
  2. DECENT. I then tried using a router in “ethernet client” mode  – where it connects to the home network via wireless N, then provides four local ethernet ports, with the TV, PS3, Roku etc. connected by wire. Again, the streaming was just not rock-solid and high bandwidth enough for 1080p. Bandwidth reported by TV and PS3 was in the range of 3.5 – 10 Mbps in my case, a slight improvement, because positioning one device (the reverse wireless client device) is easier than trying to give multiple devices (PS3, Roku etc.) better wireless exposure via positioning. The device I had tried: SMCWEB-N  EZ Connect™ N Pro Draft 11n Wireless Access Point/Ethernet Client.
  3. SUPERIOR. I finally discovered powerline adaptors. The performance of these vary from house to house, room to room, but here’s what I got: rock-steady bandwidth of 200-300 Mbps, with much lower latencies. My device of choice: Netgear XAVB5001 Powerline Network Adapter Kit (XAVB5001). I tried various wall sockets (close to where I needed it) and checked bandwidth with a laptop in find which one gave the best performance. Wasn’t much variation for me.

Reliable Broadband Solution

Even though I am not a fan of cable TV (we use DirecTV for live TV today, waiting for the day when live TV is totally internet based – oh how I wish Google TV was available in Austin, Texas), I am a HUGE fan of cable modem for broadband from personal experience. We have Time Warner’s DOCSIS 3.0 based wideband service: 50Mbps down, 5bps up – it is ALWAYS at that level, barring an occasional service disruption (once a year or so). If you have something similar with fiber or otherwise that is at least a constant 20Mbps and rock-steady, you’ll be fine for 1080p streaming from the internet.

Services and Devices for Superior 1080p Quality

Below are my personal observations and preferences.

  • Vudu HDX – available on Samsung TV, and on the PS3. Do not use this anymore as Apple TV 1080p movies are a buck cheaper.
  • Netflix: available on Samsung TV, PS3, Apple TV, Roku 2 XS – I have discovered that the picture quality is best on the PS3. Apple TV and Roku are similar.
  • iTunes Movies: available on Apple TV – I use for all my paid content: movies, and TV show season passes or single episodes.
  • Amazon VOD – does not seem to be 1080p, although Prime has some things that Netflix does not. Actively use Prime from time to time, but not for paid content.
  • Hulu Plus – does not seem to be 1080p, and I dislike ads on a paid service. Canceled this promptly.
  • DLNA client for media streaming: I use the PS3 for this.
  • DLNA server: I use a Windows 7 laptop for this, with an attached 3TB USB harddrive.
  • Youtube on the PS3, and movie trailers on the Apple TV.

My Network Hardware List

Here’s the “parts list” of my home network (relevant to home theater and media streaming), including model numbers of things I actively use, by room.

Study (Internet access)

Cable modem: Ubee DDW3611 DOCSIS 3.0 (8×4) Wireless (802.11n) Cable Modem Gateway:  I have it configured as a cable modem only (disabled wireless and DHCP).

Wireless Router: ASUS ASUS RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router.

Powerline Adaptor: Netgear XAVB5001 Powerline Network Adapter Kit (XAVB5001): one side installed in the study, from wireless router to powerline device plugged directly into wall socket.

Living Room (Main home theater)

Powerline Adaptor: Other end of Netgear XAVB5001 device plugged directly into wall socket behind home theater.

Gigabit switch: D-Link 8-Port Gigabit 16 Gbps Desktop Switch (DGS-1008G): Connected to powerline adaptor, and connects my TV, Apple TV, PS3, DirecTV HD DVR (via DIRECTV DECA Broadband Adapter).

Master Bedroom (2nd media room)

Powerline Adaptor: Single unit Netgear XAV5001 Powerline Network Adapter (XAV5001) device plugged directly into wall socket.

Gigabit switch: D-Link 5-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch (DGS-1005G): Connects TV and Roku 2 XS.

Sunroom (3rd media room)

Powerline Adaptor: Single unit Netgear XAV5001 Powerline Network Adapter (XAV5001) device plugged directly into wall socket.

Gigabit switch: D-Link 5-Port Gigabit Desktop Switch (DGS-1005G): Connects TV, Windows HTPC (DLNA server, USB drive with movies), Slingbox HD (connected to DirecTV receiver).

 

Feel free to share your experiences with setting up a home network!

LifeTopix Tips for Managing Your Weight During the Holidays

LifeTopix ScaleThe Holidays are a joyful time with parties, family gatherings, buffets, and other festivities. And, of course, during these get-togethers, there’s plenty of goodies that might end up on your waistline. According to Dr. Oz, “Americans gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. More than half will put on two pounds and 10 percent will put on five pounds or more. Most people generally don’t lose the weight they gain, he said.”

There are a lot of factors that lead to weight gain during the holidays including stress; no time to exercise; less time being active outside because of cooler weather; holiday buffets and parties; more alcohol; and lack of meal planning due to busy schedules. To help you out, we’ve shared some tips to help you through the holidays so you’re not thinking about damage control when January arrives.

Make Good Food Choices During the Holidays

We know making food choices can be difficult — especially during the holidays. To help you get started off right, below we’ve included a list of popular holiday foods and the number of calories and fat for each. We’ve included healthy alternatives to consider when preparing holiday meals.

  • Deep Fried Turkey (3.5 ounces) – 190 calories and 11 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Skinless roasted turkey breast (1 serving) – 140 calories and 3.5 grams of fat
  • Pumpkin Pie (1 slice) – 320 calories and 17 grams of fat
    • Better choice: 2 chocolate covered strawberries – 68 and 8 grams of fat
  • Mashed Potatoes with whole milk and butter (1 cup) – 237 calories and 9 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Mashed Potatoes with skim milk and light butter – 148 calories and 8 grams of fat
  • Stuffing with Sausage (1 serving) – 345 calories and 26.1 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Quinoa (1 cup) – 222 calories and 3.6 grams of fat
  • Irish Cream (100 ml) – 327 calories and 13 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Dry Chardonnay (6 oz) – 114 calories and 0 grams of fat
  • French’s® Green Bean Casserole (1/2 cup) – 148 calories and 8 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Green Beans (1 cup) – 34 calories and 0.1 grams of fat
  • Eggnog (1 cup) – 343 calories and 19 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Chai latte with skim milk (16 ounces) – 210 calories and 0 grams of fat
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows (1 cup): 875 calories and 41 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Mashed Sweet Potatoes (1 cup) – 220 calories and 2 grams of fat
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake (1 slice) – 680 calories and 45 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Brie, fruit, and crackers – 200 calories and 5 grams of fat
  • Shredded Beef Tamales (1 tamale) – 347 Calories and 24.4 grams of fat
    • Better choice: Chicken Fajitas with corn tortillas (1 serving) – 251.4 calories and 5.2 grams of fat

Log Your Nutrition Stats

Researchers have found that those who record their food and drink intake lose more weight — hands down. When there’s visibility to the calories and fat that we consume, and we’re accountable for it, then we’re more likely to refrain from unhealthy eating habits. With LifeTopix, you can track what you consume through Nutrition Log forms.

In the following example, I’ve created a custom form that I named “Calories,” which includes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and two snacks. This allows me to log the number of calories that I consume at each meal, every day.

LifeTopix-Calories-Log-Form

LifeTopix Calories Log Form

I’ve set a target value or threshold for each meal to ensure I don’t surpass the number of calories that I believe are acceptable for my lunch. Setting target values is completely defined by you, and you can base it on many types of items and units. For example, you can limit yourself to two sodas a day, one bottle of wine a week, or 5 desserts a month – it’s completely up to you. You can see this target value by observing the dotted line in the following graph:

LifeTopix Threshhold

LifeTopix Lunch Calorie Threshhold

You can also view the complete picture of your eating habits over time, as I’ve shown in the following graph:

LifeTopix Nutrition Tracking

LifeTopix Nutrition Log Form

To help you stick to your targets, you might also consider some of the following strategies:

  • When attending a party, spend less time by the buffet table and more time socializing.
  • Don’t attend a party when you’re famished. Make sure to eat a light snack first.
  • Replace sodas and alcoholic beverages with sparkling water.
  • When grazing at the buffet, fill your plate with proteins, fruits, vegetables, and salads.
  • Avoid the office breakroom. Pack fruits and vegetables so you’re not tempted by caramel corn, cookies, and other high-calorie snacks.

Keep Moving and Track Your Progress

Often times during the holidays we believe we’re too busy to continue our regular exercise routine, and we postpone it until the new year begins. The holidays are a busy time, so you might need to scale back, but it’s never a good idea to stop completely. This time of year many fitness clubs offer special challenges or competitions that might also keep you motivated.

We recommend that you track your fitness goals with LifeTopix. Seeing the fruit of your efforts through a workout log and weight tracker will keep you motivated when you’re busy and short on time. Keeping track of your exercise in LifeTopix is very similar to tracking your nutrition. You can set up log forms that work for you, and also set up target values. For example, I’ve set up a log form that includes my common activities as shown below: cycling, strength training, walking, and horseback riding. You can customize your form with the activities that work for you. The target miles, minutes, reps, or other units are completely customizable.

LifeTopix Fitness Log Form

LifeTopix Fitness Log Form

Tracking your stress level, weight, and other statistics through LifeTopix Quick Add also helps you to see if you need to make any modifications to your diet, exercise, or routine.

LifeTopix Weight Health Tracker

LifeTopix Health Statistics

To help you stick to your targets, you might also consider some of the following strategies:

  • Schedule your workouts on your calendar. Block out the time on shared calendars.
  • If you usually work out in the evening, switch to the morning because it gets dark early. It’s difficult to work out when it feels like bedtime.
  • Find a holiday workout buddy.
  • Add some variety. Try new classes or hire a personal trainer.
  • When you reach a goal, treat yourself with new workout gear, a massage, or a manicure and pedicure.

Manage Your Stress Levels

Consider the extra stress during the holidays from holiday shopping crowds, arguments with family, and financial obligations. All of these add up to cortisol production, which is known to cause weight gain. To manage your stress levels over the holidays, we recommend the following strategies:

  • Create to-do lists: Use the What’s Next view in LifeTopix to create a daily checklist. This will help to you accomplish more, and to also feel in control of your tasks. Place the highest priority tasks at the top of your to-do list. If some to-dos aren’t important, don’t be afraid to let them slide.
  • Delegate: Don’t try to do everything yourself. Ask your spouse, kids, or partner to help. Use LifeTopix Discuss options to send checklists to family members.
LifeTopix-Share-todo

Sharing a To-do List in LifeTopix

  • Use your calendar: Use your LifeTopix Calendar to schedule all of your appointments and meetings. This will prevent you from getting overbooked and it will also prevent last-minute scrambling to attend appointments and meetings.
  • Plan gift giving: Treat gift giving like a project — build a plan, a schedule, and a budget. Use “Gifts for Others” in the LifeTopix shopping topic to plan your gift giving. You can record gift descriptions, products, price, and dates.
LifeTopix-gift-giving

LifeTopix Gift List

  • Avoid the Malls: Traffic, crowds, and long lines can take a toll on your stress level and health — and can also take your precious time. If you get started early, you can order most items online.

The LightArrow team sincerely wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season. Don’t hesitate to comment or to contact us if you have any questions about how LifeTopix can help you stay on track through the holidays. Cheers!

Guide to Going Paperless for Educators

Teachers and other educators are constantly required to work with an enormous amount of paper, files, notes, and digital media. They’re also tasked with managing an abundance of data for their students. Organizing this information can become more and more challenging and unwieldy. A solution for this problem is going paperless. This solution reduces the cost of paper production, reduces the negative impact of paper use to the environment, and it also increases the efficiency of educators.

When talking to teachers, it’s interesting to understand how they organize their data. It ranges from paper filing systems to full-blown digital solutions. But nearly all educators agree that they’re looking for the best solution to help them get organized and stay that way. This post is intended to give teachers, tutors, homeschool parents, and other educators tips and tricks for getting their information organized and easily accessible.

Cloud_ComputingTeachers and other educators typically look for solutions to manage the following types of items:

  • Assignments, textbooks (ebooks), and lesson plans
  • Student profiles or portfolios
  • Progress reports and notes
  • Meeting notes from conferences and staff meetings
  • Attendance
  • State-required documents, particularly for homeschooling

Tools that educators can use to get this information in a digital format and organized into a central location include Dropbox, Google Drive/Docs, Evernote, and LifeTopix. Keep reading to learn how to leverage the power of these tools.

Storing Assignments, Textbooks, Lesson Plans, and Other Files

Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive/Docs are all great tools for storing and accessing documents in many types of formats. All of these tools can store documents, photos, and other files “in the cloud” and allow access from a personal computer or mobile device. When data is stored in the cloud, it means that it’s managed and backed up remotely and made available over the Internet, instead of locally on a computer. The advantage of storing files in the cloud is there’s no worries about hard drive crashes, computer theft, or migrating data to new computers. However, these tools are not exactly the same, and this post will help you understand what makes each one appropriate for different types of uses.

Dropbox

Dropbox is really handy software for storing and retrieving large files such as textbooks. Files can be private or shared with invited users. Dropbox is free up to a designated amount of storage, and provides software for personal computers and mobile devices. The file structure works seamlessly with OS X and Windows operating systems as shown in the following screenshot.

Dropbox

The Dropbox app is available on the iPhone or iPad, which allows complete mobility, such as moving around the classroom while accessing students’ files. There’s also the capability to connect an iPad to a television or projector to share any files with a class or student.

Take note that Dropbox allows file sharing; however, it does not allow simultaneous file editing with others (Google Docs/Drive offers this functionality). With Dropbox, the servers first sync the file to their web servers, and then they’re synced to all computers that are connected via shared folders.

Evernote

Evernote is considered best-in-class for note taking, but it provides more than just creation of online notes, which makes it suitable for a variety of scenarios. Think of Evernote as a digital filing system. Educators and students are always creating content — whether it’s tests, report cards, typed notes, audio files, images, or projects. Educators need a way to organize this information and to easily share it. Evernote allows note creation, and it also supports almost any type of file imaginable. It also includes advanced searching and tagging so it’s easy to quickly find files and notes.

Evernote provides great information about how it can be used for schools at Evernote for Schools. It works with a variety of computers and mobile devices — there’s a free web application, desktop client, and mobile app so educators can use it anywhere. The basic service is free, and there’s options to upgrade to the Evernote Premium For Schools version.

One typical scenario for the classroom would be to create an Evernote login for each student so each student would have access to their homework and projects. All their projects and homework would be included within these folders. An Evernote-compliant scanner for the classroom allows the students to store everything digitally. Imagine how this scenario would simplify parent/teacher conferences. For example, all the students’ work could be included within the student’s profile — and shared in real time with the students and their parents via computers or mobile devices.

Google Docs/Drive

Like Dropbox and Evernote, Google Drive includes free storage in the cloud. What’s different about Google Drive is it becomes the central place for managing Google Docs. Google Docs is free web-based software for creating and updating spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and more. And with Google Docs, more than one student can edit files simultaneously, which makes collaborating on projects easy. The basic service is free, and there’s an upgrade to Google Apps for Education.

Google Docs/Drive is an excellent tool for both educators and students. Educators can keep track of attendance via spreadsheets; create seating charts via presentation or drawing tools; build presentations for students, parents, and faculty; or create homework assignments that can be accessed at home or in class —  the possibilities are endless. Students can collaborate easily on projects and always have access to their assignment lists and homework — which increases visibility for parents. And as iPads and other mobile devices become mainstream in the classroom, it’s important to note that Google Drive is available through the Apple App Store for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Bringing It All Together with LifeTopix

An increasing number of schools have started pilot programs using the iPad, and they’re seeing great potential. As iPads and other tablets become more popular in schools, apps that bring all this information together will be of utmost importance.  There’s no need to wait — educators have options now for organizing all this information into one place via their mobile devices. Imagine showing up for school without a backpack, laptop bag, heavy books, and piles of papers. With the right tools, educators and students can lighten their load significantly.

From what we’ve seen over the last few years, educators are using a variety of tools for per­sonal and col­lab­o­ra­tive notes, doc­u­ments, and files. We’ve embraced the con­cept of get­ting more value from notes, files, and doc­u­ments by allow­ing these items to be used in context within LifeTopix. Hence, LifeTopix was developed to be compatible with Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive/Docs. It’s an extremely flexible app via its 12 connected topics, which allows educators to manage all parts of their lives — their own way.

I’ll show you a few scenarios of how educators would use LifeTopix to organize their education-related data for the classroom. The following screenshots show how to create a LifeTopix project (which organizes the classroom data), and then create student profiles associated with each class through LifeTopix.

In the LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic, projects contain all of the data associated with a class as shown in the following screenshot. There’s the ability to include a description of the class, start and end dates, tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, files, audio, photos, videos, notes, expenses, services, and shopping items.

Education Project

In the LifeTopix Notes + Files topic, there’s the capability to create an entry for each student as shown below. These notes are associated with the Project above.

Students in LifeTopix

Once an entry for each student is created, the associated tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, and files (both local and online from Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive/Docs) can be added. This data can be kept private or shared within one tap via email with parents and students. The following screenshot shows an example of a student profile.

LifeTopix Student Profile

Imagine the types of items that can be associated with the students’ profile. It’s possible to set up conferences and view them on a calendar; attach a photo of the student; access online homework folders; update attendance spreadsheets in Google Docs; set reminders specific to students; and anything else that’s important for students.

And for students, it’s important to note that the LifeTopix Education topic allows students to track assign­ments and related doc­u­ments and resources for school, work, or per­sonal growth sub­ject areas. And it’s inte­grated with other top­ics from LifeTopix so students can, for exam­ple, directly access local and online learn­ing resources that are defined in Life­Topix Info + Docs right from within the Life­Topix Edu­ca­tion topic. To learn more about LifeTopix for students, refer to 7 Tips to Get Organized for Back to School.

We hope this helps you learn how hardware and software can help you make the move to a paperless classroom. Please comment with any questions or ideas of how you’ve gone paperless.

Download LifeTopix:

A Super App that Shines on the Dock

When we set out to build LifeTopix, we were not trying to build yet another task app. Or list app. Or notes app. Or shopping app. There are lots of those. Some of them are very, very good. A huge number of people find those apps sufficient for their needs, and many are in fact delighted with them.

But at LightArrow, we look at organization and productivity differently. Most users store their personal information through a heterogeneous set of software tools. For example, they might use: Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and Docs, etc. to manage their life information. They collaborate in multiple ways — Email, Facebook, Twitter, Messaging, etc. They track things they need to do in different ways. For example, they use Google Calendar, Toodledo, Google Tasks, other online calendars, and other tools. Moreover, they have a lot of data, files, media, apps, etc. on their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Working directly with our users to understand how they get things done, we’ve built LifeTopix to be the “superapp” — or “one app to rule them all.” This allows our users to use the software they love — and we went miles further by putting everything in context for them. This gives them an organizational paradigm that goes across several relevant topics in their lives — beyond anything any other app even attempts to do.

LifeTopix Shines on the Dock

We believe our “super app” shines on the dock of the device. In fact, most of our users see it as a gateway to organization, on the device and in the cloud. An app that removes the need to be constantly hopping between other apps does rightfully belong on the dock — used multiple times every day, just like the email app or the phone app itself.

Users want to accomplish much more with the apps they invest their time into. We have raised the bar, and our users agree. See our Testimonials to learn more.

LifeTopix 5.1 Guided Tour

Team LightAr­row is very excited about our new 5.1 update of Life­Topix, which includes several new features and usability improvements. LifeTopix 5.1 is available immediately from the Apple App Store as a free update for any­one with previous Life­Topix versions. If you’re new to LifeTopix, it’s avail­able for a lim­ited time at a spe­cial price of 99 cents. As a uni­ver­sal app, a sin­gle pur­chase enti­tles you to use it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

We’re happy to give you a quick tour of the exciting new LifeTopix features, and help you to understand how to take full advantage of the significant changes.

Checklists (To-do Lists)

At LightArrow, we understand that your to-do lists are an important tool for getting things done. That’s why we’ve beefed up this functionality — eliminating the need for you to use a different app for to-do lists. In LifeTopix, checklists and to-do lists are synonymous. For example, when I refer to a to-do list, it’s essentially a checklist in LifeTopix.

Checklists are easier than ever before to create and view. The most significant enhancement is the ability to add a checklist directly from the What’s Next section in the Home view on the fly. This means that within one or two taps upon launching LifeTopix, you can add a to-do list. You can see an example of the What’s Next view below. Notice the new section, “To do lists.” This is where you can add, view, and choose checklists. You’ll also notice that now in the What’s Next section that the next item on your agenda is highlighted with a light green shade (see Carpool below).

To do lists

We’ve also added the ability for you to create a reusable to-do list. For example, perhaps you have to-dos that you need to complete every day. You can create a checklist, such as “Daily Checklist,” and you can re-use this checklist each day for the to-dos you wish to complete. Reordering of items can be accomplished by tapping Reorder and holding down on the icon to the right and dragging the item to a new location. We’ve also added the ability to clear all the items so you can re-create the items in your checklist each day, if necessary. The following screenshot highlights these changes.

LifeTopix Checklists To Do Lists

We understand that your to-do lists need to flexible. Therefore, you can now copy entire checklists, copy checklist items within checklists, copy checklist items into different checklists, and move checklist items.

To do lists copy

As before, you can share your checklists through Facebook, Twitter, Email, or Text. This allows you to share your checklist with others. For example, perhaps you’ve hired a babysitter for the evening, and your child has an evening routine that you record through your checklist. You can easily share this checklist with the babysitter through these collaboration methods.

Siri and Reminders Integration

At LightArrow, we understand that you need to add reminders easily and quickly so we’ve integrated with the iOS Reminders app. If you’re using Siri, you can now simply tell Siri what you want to be reminded about. For example you can say, “Remind me to pick up Timmy from Soccer practice at 9:30 p.m. today.” Siri launches the Reminder app and requests confirmation. With the LifeTopix integration, you can automatically view your reminders in the LifeTopix Home view (What’s Next), My Calendar view, and the Events Calendar. And you can open the Reminders app directly from LifeTopix to edit your reminders or to mark them as complete. You can also create new entries in the Reminders app from the LifeTopix Events topic.

Siri Reminder

LifeTopix Siri

For the LifeTopix integration with Siri and the Reminders app to work, you must have an iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad with Retina display, iPad mini, or iPod touch (5th generation). You must also have updated your device to iOS 6.

Calendar Enhancements

The LifeTopix calendar has been updated with several enhancements. It now includes a new, improved look and feel for better visibility of calendar items. A new Week view has been added, which supplements the standard Day, Month, and Year views. As an enhancement to the Finances topic, you can now see bill pay­ment amounts on LifeTopix calendar views — helping you to better organize your finances. Items from device calendars are color coded, and a new legend in the Calendar filter, as shown below, identifies the colors that are used for each type of device calendar.

LifeTopix Calendar Legend

Also, if you’ve installed the Facebook app and you’ve allowed access to your calendar through IOS 6.0, you can view all birthdays and events recorded in Facebook in the LifeTopix calendar — so you’ll never miss a birthday or event again. For example, in your device’s settings, locate Facebook, and tap it to access the settings, as shown in the following example. Turn the Calendar setting “ON” to allow Facebook to use your calendar.

LifeTopix Facebook

Badge Changes

Previously, badges only included items that were expired. Now, items that are expired and items that are due today, such as tasks, shopping list items, and other items are included within the icon count. This includes items on the same day, as shown in the following example.

LifeTopix Badge

Simplification of the Events Topic

Previously under the Events topic, the events, appointments (including device calendar items), reminders, and occasion reminders were separate views. By popular demand, they are now consolidated into a view called “Events, Appointments, Reminders”. The view also now includes iOS Reminder app’s items.

LifeTopix_Event_Calendar

New Way to Securely View Username and Password for Bookmarks

If your username and password are stored in the Bookmark’s detail view, when a bookmark is launched for viewing, the login information is now conveniently accessible via an (i) button on the toolbar.

We hope this helps you understand how to leverage the new features in 5.1. Enjoy!

Can Your Cute Little List App Do This?

Lists are easy. But managing a real life project using a list or notes app is like showing up to perform at a jazz festival with a rubber band.

Let’s take a typical kitchen renovation project. From the main contractor’s perspective:

  • There are initial client meetings, planning, quotes, budget, and a statement of work.
  • Major parts of the project are coordinated with other service providers: plumbers, electricians, flooring, drywall, and cabinet guys.
  • Appliances are selected and purchased, with complex scheduling between cabinet, countertop, plumbing and appliance installers.
  • Shopping lists are managed, tasks are performed in coordination with the service providers, expenses are tracked, and payments are made to sub-contractors.
  • Cleanup, inspections, and touchups are scheduled and performed to the client’s satisfaction.

The sketch below describes what a real-life home improvement project looks like. Good luck doing this with a list or notes app!

When your cool little list app is just not enough, you need a super app. This is where LifeTopix excels — a true organization, management and productivity app for professionals, small business, organized parents, and productivity heroes.

LifeTopix: Managing a Real Project

 

Tips for Using Technology to Prepare for Disasters

With the recent destruction across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as a result of Hurricane Sandy, we’re reminded of how important it is to be prepared for a disaster. As of October 31, it is estimated that this storm claimed at least 51 lives and caused nearly $20 billion in damage. According to Huff Post Tech, “Hurricane Sandy power outages have hit millions of people and businesses along the East Coast.”  Many people will be facing challenges during the next few weeks as they attempt to resume business, recover losses, and reconnect with friends, colleagues, and family.

Protect your Home

This disaster prompted us to write this post to help you understand how the LifeTopix app and other tools can be very useful for disaster preparation and recovery. Our advice is to be proactive, not reactive. You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to find important documents and stock up on supplies. Disasters, such as earthquakes, fire, or tornadoes can be unpredictable, and supplies can run out quickly when bad weather is predicted.

Make Sure Your Devices Have Power

When disaster strikes, widespread power outages normally occur. It is essential that you have backup power for your smartphones and tablets. One way to ensure your mobile device is powered up is through the Mophie Juice Pack. Mophie includes several models that also act as protective covers. Some have even been tested using international standards for water resistance and dust. Of course, you will need power to charge the Juice Pack, but your battery life will be extended. There are also solar-powered chargers available from other manufacturers in case no power can be found. In addition, normally you would be able to charge your devices via your car charger so it’s important to keep one on hand if you own a vehicle. You can also conserve your battery by putting your smartphone into airplane mode, shutting it down when not in use, and closing apps that you aren’t using.

Go Paperless – Keep Emergency Information in the Cloud

Cloud-based services such as Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive allow you to store documents, photos, videos, and other files. When data is stored “in the cloud,” it means that it’s managed and backed up remotely and made available over the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. If you’ve been displaced or your property has been destroyed, all this vital information is backed up elsewhere so you don’t need to worry about its loss.

You can also scan documents directly to the cloud for software such as Evernote, Google Docs, Salesforce Chatter, SugarSync, and Sharepoint by using a compatible scanner. Also, keep in mind that LifeTopix works with Evernote, Google Docs, and Dropbox so all files are easily accessible — directly through LifeTopix — within context of the topic to which they’re associated.

For example, you might want to store files such as:

  • insurance policies and cards
  • tax returns
  • warranties
  • children’s artwork
  • photos
  • wills
  • property deeds and titles to cars, boats, and trailers
  • account numbers
  • id cards, passports, and drivers licenses
  • social security cards
  • credit card numbers
  • marriage licenses and certificates
  • prescriptions
  • receipts
  • college transcripts and report cards
  • addresses and phone numbers of friends and family

If you’re concerned about the security of these systems, refer to their websites to learn about how security is handled. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of storing this information in the cloud.

Take an Inventory of Assets

Keep­ing track of what you own is very important in order for you to file insurance claims and recover losses from your insurance company. It’s also helpful to understand the total replacement cost for your assets. With LifeTopix, you can track the description, seller, purchase date, cost, current value, manufacturer, model, SKU, and serial or VIN numbers for each asset. In addition, you should take video or photos of the item or property. By using the Home + Assets topic in LifeTopix, you can track these purchases and assets, as shown in the following screenshot.

It’s a good idea to keep your list up-to-date and occasionally add new items, re-evaluate, and delete items that you no longer own. Take new photos and videos, and keep values up to date as items depreciate.

Create “In Case of Emergency” Checklists

In case of an emergency, you should create a checklist of items that you would need when disaster strikes. FEMA is a good resource when creating a master list of these items. By using LifeTopix, you can manage checklists as part of a project or shopping list. For example, you could create a Project called “In Case of Emergency” and create an associated checklist that includes the supplies that you believe are essential. You can see an example in the following screenshot.

If you live in areas prone to earthquakes, tornadoes, fire, and hurricanes it is imperative that you prepare, early and often. And lessons have been learned by those who were not fully prepared for the Hurricane Sandy superstorm. No matter where you live, being prepared can be crucial for your future, and in some cases — your survival.