Phone Tips for Conferences

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my phone lately, and I am about to attend several blog conferences (a place where I am going to rely on my phone to keep me from missing out!). It hasn’t been holding battery and is barely connecting to my home WiFi, so I’m using tons of data when I really need it for my trip. The plan is to follow these phone tips for conferences that I’m about to give you. Stay tuned on social media to see how it’s going.

phone tips for conferences

Let’s start with the important thing – having power for your cell phone. You don’t want to miss out on a tweet that you won a grand prize, right? To maximize your battery power:

  • Turn your phone off at night for charging. Your brain will constantly be in “what am I missing out on” mode and want to check it all night long if you leave it on. You’ll need the rest, so let your body and phone sleep. What? You use your phone as an alarm? Me too. But there’s this brilliant invention that hotels have…an alarm clock OR a wakeup call. Use ’em.
  • Switch to a black background. It’s just a few days, and your phone will use a lot less power.
  • Turn off the WiFi. Sure, it’s free, but there are going to be so many of us trying to get that signal that it’s not going to be easy to get a chunk of it. Searching will drain your battery fast! Same with Bluetooth.
  • Know what apps drain the most. I can only speak to Android / Samsung, but if you go to your settings, check out “Battery” and see what apps are draining your battery. Turn them off, or consider removing them during the conference. Always close apps when you are done.
  • Consider Power Saving Mode. I have yet to use this, but likely will be.
  • Consider an alternative method of connecting. It’s going to be really hard for me to not be nose in phone, but I plan on having a notebook (old fashioned pen and paper) for making connections in person. I’ll jot down the things I need to tweet (like contest entries) then sneak away for some quiet time to schedule these on my social outlets. If I am not relying on my phone for everything, it will stay charged a lot longer.
  • Take advantage of charging stations. There are several throughout the conference floors. Don’t hog all the juice, and tell your fellow phone addicts where they are so that you have good battery karma.

And how about that data? We’ve turned off WiFi, so you’ll want to be sure you are connected and not going over your data. What do you do?

  • Set a limit on data usage. I plan to set a limit each day so that I don’t go over my monthly allowance. My phone will alert me when I’m close. If you share a plan with your family, ask them to do the same. (This is a phone setting that is based on an estimation, your cell provider will have the exact, so just be cautious and generous to yourself.)
  • Turn off notifications. Limit apps with push notifications. I’ll probably not only be turning off notifications but completely uninstalling apps that I won’t need during conference. (Keep a list of the ones to re-install.) Yes, that means email push, too. Manually sync up with your mail accounts. Related? NO STREAMING. This means turning off the games, videos (there’s a setting in your Facebook app to stop this), Maps, even the app store.
  • Be Social. Be social in real life – hug, squeal, talk with the people you interact with online. If you are social online, you’re likely 1) missing out on IRL connections, 2) making your followers who aren’t with you jealous, and 3) draining your data usage because you turned off your WiFi. There’s plenty of time to tweet and snap after conference – take it all in and enjoy.
  • Brave? Turn off the cellular data! This will definitely ensure you aren’t going over limits. I’ve been known to set my phone to Airplane Mode just to be able to use my camera and access my Memo app. It’s a lesson in what you really need.

Even braver? Don’t use your phone at all! Crutch step would be to carry a tablet device with you, but you’ll likely have a ton of swag to tote around, so you don’t want something big weighing you down. Bottom line? Be realistic with your phone usage during these conferences and truly invest in yourself. You’ll be thankful you did.

Tech Tuesday: DVR

My kids will never know the glory of “Be Kind, Rewind”, so I considered talking about the DVR as a quick Tech Tuesday feature.

Being able to record live television is a pretty nice convenience. When I am working evenings or when sports conflict with other programming, we love to go to our DVR to record the shows we want to watch.

It might sound simple, but this technology has come in handy quite often for our busy family. Take for instance last night when the Pirates for their first playoff berth in 20 years. I was at a work event, and Evan was full of tantrum fun at bedtime. With DVR, we were able to fast forward through commercial breaks and catch up with the action in time to be live with the rest of the city as we watched our team clinch a seed. Better yet, we got to Rewind and listen to the Jordy Mercer laugh over and over.

Kids,  you are lucky to have this digital technology in your lives and not have to know about yards of tangled vhs tape and taping over other shows or family memories. DVR will likely change by the time you have kids, but when you get the equivalent of How I Met Your Mother and a playoff clincher conflict mod child tantrum, you will be glad to have this technology. Trust me.

Tech Tuesday: Give Me a Break

Usually on Tuesdays I have been featuring technology that has made our lives easier. This week, my Tech Tuesday piece is inspired by the ways technology has beat me this week.

* My Outlook 2010 is the lifeblood of my work day. In the last seven days, it has crashed a good 20 times. Once, it even deleted 7 emails in my Outbox, including one that took me 45 minutes and multiple saves to write. Any associated emails (replies) were also deleted in the loss. My .ost file became corrupt yesterday. And before you say, sounds like you need to call IT, I work for IT, in the Help Desk, in fact. Outlook and I are just in a rough patch.

* As is my BlackBerry. It wouldn’t take my personal device password and it wiped my phone after four tries. I will reboot it soon, as switching back to my old phone introduced more problems than I have cared to share, too.

* My cousin’s GPS navigates just fine, until it gets all snarky on us when we clearly say “no” to the question “do you want to reroute?”…and then it takes us down roads that are one lane construction zones with no idea if oncoming traffic must stop.

* The kids have learned to get on Candy Crush and music on the iPad. While a won for them, a loss for me…the kids are outsmarting me and a piece of technology.

* Both of my running apps have given me issues. This morning, Nike crashed three times until I uninstalled and reinstalled it. Endomondo froze a good 2 minutes last week, stalling my run by a good .2 miles lost on the app (although the time moved post freeze).

Here’s to hoping a have a better technology week. Now I need a coffee. Will be back later today with a coffee treat to share. What has been your biggest tech hangup this week?


Oh yah. I was out of gas on my ride home last week, too. Odds are, it happens today too. Just wait for it. Coffee, please!!!

Tech Tuesday: How Do You Stay Organized?

Today’s Tech Tuesday post is inspired by a question a fellow Pittsburgh Blogger posted on our Facebook group. I invite you to share your tips here, too! How Do You Stay Organized?

Yesterday, I filled in a calendar for our family. Pink for me, orange for Greg, purple for Arianna, bright green for Evan, and teal for family activities. We’ve tried various ways to stay organized, but since we (Greg and I) do not have the same organizational habits, it’s tough to expect technology to always come through. I am sure I am not alone in having a paper calendar, right?

Alas, technology sure is amazing to keep us organized. Here are the top five things I use to stay organized (on my BlackBerry z10, of course!):

1. “Remember” – This BlackBerry App syncs not only my Evernote, but also my notes from my work version of Microsoft Outlook Notes. Everything is all in one place! (There has to be a way to sync up my One Note, but I haven’t mastered that yet. If you know, shout at me.)

2. Google Calendar – I have found a way to use the calendar to make a family version (that syncs to both of our Gmail accounts) and to include my blogging editoral calendar. I even enter tasks for myself that sync to the date I assign as due.

3. Google Drive – Although I fully rely on my bank’s app to handle the in and out of money, I cling to Google Drive to hold my details on the account. Budgeting is key.

4. Pinterest – This may sound crazy, but Pinterest keeps me sane. All the boards for ALL THE THINGS. Need I say more? Okay, check my boards out to see what I mean.

5. Flickr – All copies of the photos we take is kept on an external hard drive, but I back up the ones I like most on Flickr. All the albums make it easy to think about what to print and when. Also, it makes sharing photos to Facebook and Twitter easy — I only have to upload it to one place and then share. Easy! (Check out our sets.)

While these aren’t crazy, out of the box ideas, they are sources I have found that work. What apps or websites do you use to stay sane in this world of everything moving at a mile a minute? 

IMG_0847 (Copy)
Random Photo of my Evan who stays organized in old fashioned form, with a map!

Tech Tuesday: Speakaboos

Today’s Tech Tuesday post is about an app our kids have quickly fallen in love with, Speakaboos! A few weeks ago, I shared my love of it on Life With Levi and thought you’d all enjoy reading about it here, too.

Disclaimer: The following post includes a review of a product that I received in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Although my kids are not going to Kindergarten this year, it’s never too early to get ready. (August is National Kindergarten Readiness Month, by the way.) Our family is getting ready by integrating as many learning opportunities into the day as we can. Speakaboos has been our nighttime go-to for the past few weeks.


The Speakaboos application works on most digital devices (I say most because I couldn’t download the app to my Blackberry) and is full of interactive stories, songs, and videos. With multiple reading modes, my kids can read the stories (once they learn) or have them read to them. This is what we’ve been doing for bedtime. (Mom and Dad are taking it easy, shh.)

When you purchase a subscription to Speakaboos, your children will have access to over 150 stories sorted by themes. Our kids love the Animals and Princess themes best, so far.

Source: Speakaboos

The pages actually flip like a book, which is pretty fun. (Sound included.) Once a theme is selected, there are many choices within the theme. By the way, the ones shown above are not all the themes, just a selection. Classic stories as well as some new ones are included, too.

My kids have been captivated by the songs, too. Every night has ended with a rousing round of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.

If you want to check them out before you buy, you can get a free trial in the app that allows you to read three stories:

The Speakaboos app is free to download in the App Store and comes with three free stories that users can keep forever.  Families can subscribe for as little as $4.99 per month or annually for $49.99 giving them access anywhere, anytime and on any device to the full Speakaboos library.  Android and iPhone applications will be released in upcoming months.

Just make sure your kid understands that in the free trial if you click a story or song you didn’t mean to, it’s “too bad, so sad”. Arianna learned this the hard way as she selected a short song none of us knew. Drama ensued. 

For our family, we look forward to plugging the app onto the devices our kids use for traveling and popping in some headphones for a peaceful roadtrip. With the subscription, they’ll have unlimited access and we won’t have to worry about them making an in-app purchase or crying because they don’t have a certain story. Yes, this happens. Once you have a login/subscription, you can use it on any of your devices which is a good thing for families with kids who don’t agree.

My kids love begging for the iPad so they can get their Speakaboos fix in, day and night. Yours will most likely agree. (By the way, as I am writing this, Evan jumped on my lap, saw the screenshot and begged for the iPad. He and Arianna are listening over and over to a story in Spanish. You never know what they might pick up from this!)


Update since posting on Life With Levi: The kids love picking out one, two, or three stories before bed followed by one or two songs. As of late, one song must be “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (wonder why? ::wink::). I’ve re-learned songs and stories I totally forgot about, like “Six Little Ducks” and “Beauty and the Beast”. Thanks to Speakaboos, my kids have an app that fills the gap that this busy mom’s brain has neglected. Thank you, Speakaboos!

And now for the official info on Speakaboos:

Speakaboos is an award-winning subscription service that delivers educational, entertaining, interactive picture books to children 2 – 6 years old. Speakaboos features one of the largest catalogs of children’s interactive picture books developed in partnership with leading publishers such as The Jim Henson Company, ABRAMS, DK, Orca and Charlesbridge. Speakaboos is enjoyed on computers, tablets, and mobile devices and is used by thousands of students in hundreds of homes, classrooms and libraries worldwide. Speakaboos educational value has been recognized by the American Library Association, Education World, the Aspen Institute and O’Reilly Media. For more information, please visit