Using Siri to get location-based reminders
Q. I've used several different to-do list apps on my iPhone. They work great, but I never remember to actually check the list. How can I set up reminders to get my errands done?
A. Since you have an iPhone, you can use Siri to give you reminders without using any apps. Tell Siri, "Remind me to buy milk at the grocery store when I leave work" and she will. However, you need to make sure the address of the grocery store is saved as a contact. Do this by saying "Find grocery store (or the name of the location)." When the map pops up, click on the red pin and save it as a contact. You will also need to make sure you have location services turned on. Do this by going to Settings>>Privacy Location Services and turn on Location Services.
Don't waste your time online
Q. My productivity has spiraled out of control. I can't stay focused and I'm spending way too much time on Facebook. What can I do to block these programs and get back on track?
A. The productivity program Rescue Time runs in the background of your computer and quietly monitors what you do, online and offline. At the end of the day, you can see a detailed report of where your time is spent. Spending too much time on Facebook? Rescue Time will let you know. Facebook, Web games and YouTube videos are hard to avoid. If Rescue Time tells you that you're spending too much time watching cat videos, you can block them with a browser add-on like LeechBlock.
Buying the best sound bar for your home entertainment center
Q. I recently bought a new HDTV and I want the audio to sound as good as the picture looks. What is the best sound bar for music and TV?
A. Sound bars are a huge a hit with HDTV owners because they look great and cut down on clutter. You don't have to run speaker wires from one side of the room to the other! As with all speakers, you get what you pay for, but remember that the technology's always improving and, for most big-name brands, basic models today were the pricey ones just a few years ago. If money is no object, go to a high-end outlet and bring along as much as $2,000. For modest budgets, the Sony HT-CT150 ($200) is a good bet. Its slender cabinet houses three 50-watt speakers. The system includes a separate wired subwoofer. Three HDMI inputs let you plug in your TV, DVD/Blu-Ray player and a gaming console.
Use your phone for translations
Q. I'm traveling to Mexico for spring break and my Spanish is a little bit rusty. Are there any good apps to translate English to Spanish on my phone? I also would prefer that it works without Internet connection, because I will be in a few remote locations.
A. There are several translation apps that can help you out. For Androids, try Google Translate. It can translate from text, image voice or writing. For offline use, you can download language packs under Settings>>Manage Offline Languages. Google translate however won't translate offline in iOS, so Apple users will want to try Jibbigo, or the Languages app ($3) for iOS, which includes 12 complete language dictionaries. Finally, there's Word Lens which translates signs and other text using the smartphone's camera in real time. You can even use it offline.
Blocking weirdos on Facebook
Q. I found a fake Facebook account that has been sharing photos of me and my family and I have no idea who he is. How can I block this user and keep everything private?
A. Having a Facebook account is great for sharing, but not always good for privacy. Something you post could end up in the hands of stalkers, hackers or identity thieves if you aren't careful.
Meanwhile, go to that stalker's page, click on the big "Friends" button and select Report/Block. Make sure your spouse and kids aren't connected with him either!