Archive for Mobile


There’s a new grocery delivery service in Birmingham. I love it.  It’s called Shipt.

When I lived in Chicago, I was a big fan of delivery services of all kinds.  I’m not just talking take out Indian food.  There were several services that did other things.  For example, there was a service called Kozmo that would deliver as little or as much as you wanted.  I could order a DVD, a magazine and a Diet Coke and they would deliver it to my door in sub-zero temperatures.  I could drop the DVD off at work the next day in a special box (this was before the days of streaming). Kozmo didn’t last very long.  I wasn’t sure how that business model would work. It didn’t.

More successful was Peapod, a grocery delivery service. I believe it started as a software program (library geeks… think Grateful Med), but eventually became web-based. That’s when I occasionally used it. I especially loved it when I had a really bad fall, twisted an ankle, and was on crutches for a few weeks. I lived on the third floor of a walk-up building. They charged a delivery fee and you usually had to order your delivery a day in advance.

Shipt is a relatively new service to Birmingham. Somehow, I received a promotion code to be an “early adopter” and the fee was half price.  The service hadn’t started yet, but I took a leap of faith because I had visions of someone else carrying those 20 pound boxes of cat litter up my 17 steps.  I’ve used the service and have been very pleased.

Key points:

  • Price is currently $99 a year or $14 a month.  No delivery fee for orders over $35.
  • I wouldn’t do the monthly.
  • They don’t expect you to tip (although I usually try to with mixed success).
  • They currently shop at Publix.
  • You download the app to your device. It’s very easy to use.
  • I’m not sure if they have every item in the store. Produce and meat are both available, but I didn’t see that wild Alaskan salmon when it was in season. I have stuck to other items so far. They do have the BOGO items if that’s your thing.
  • You can schedule a delivery window that is an hour long. I usually do it a couple of hours in advance, but I think you can say ASAP and it is within an hour.  You won’t have to wait a full day unless it’s after hours.
  • If your personal shopper can’t find an item on your list, they text you with other options. I love this. They also text you when they’re on the way.
  • Here’s their FAQ:
  • They have a cute logo.

I really hope this succeeds, but I wonder if the business model is sustainable. I’m not sure I would have done it for $99 until the company had a proven track record, but so far so good. It has expanded to other cities.

For the record, I have no vested interest in the company. I just like cat litter delivered to my door.


Shamba Shape Up

Reality TV shows of the home improvement and restaurant/bar business makeover variety have become a popular entertainment staple in the United States recently. Media for Education and Development, in partnership with global extension, health and international aid agencies, have taken this expert “rescue” concept and applied it to help struggling farmers in rural East Africa with the “Shamba Shape Up” series. (“Shamba” is a Swahili term for farm.) Instead of a renowned chef helping a struggling restaurant owner identify the flaws in his or her menu or staff, the Shamba Shape Up features their media team as well as invited experts in veterinary medicine, for instance, or beekeeping or pest control visiting small farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to help them address specific farming problems that may be affecting their crops or farm animals. Show hosts and experts are from the region, and their recommendations reflect the culture of East African countries and practices.


The program estimates that in its first seasons the uptake of the evidence-based agricultural practices from the show resulted in an increase of over $24 million (US) net gain for just two of the farming enterprises, dairy and maize. The audience is estimated at over 10 million farmers.


The program is available on television and radio. A special “iShamba” text messaging service is available to receive farming tips from the show specific to the subscribers’ crops, livestock and location. Full episodes and clips are available on the Shamba Shape Up web site. Viewers of the series are also encouraged to text requests for relevant informational leaflets or download them from the site.

The World Bank recognized Shamba Shape Up during its Harvest Nutrition Contest in 2013.

Loyalty and Rewards Cards-Go Virtual with Key Ring

I have many rewards cards, but never with me when I need them.  I don’t carry keys, so the little cards that attach on the keyring don’t solve the problem.  When I recently signed up for the Plenti program, I was nudged towards needing a solution.  When I needed my Hilton HHonors info to get free wi-fi recently, push became shove!

I had heard of Key Ring in one of the sessions on handy akeyring2pps I attended (and Pat mentioned it in an earlier Tech Lister blog post), so I went to the Play Store and grabbed it for my phone.  I gathered as many of the rewards cards as I could easily put my hands on, and went to work.

The app is straightforward-you hit the big “+” to add a card, make shopping lists, or follow a store.


When you add a card, the camera on the phone opens to take a picture of the barcode; either snap the picture or select “no barcode” to set up cards without one.  You can also take pictures of the front and back of the card if so desired.

Turning on locatikeyring3 bluron services allows the app to find stores near you.  You also have the option to mark favorites that will appear towards the top of your list of cards.  The stores you choose to follow will also appear in the list.  When you click an entry, you can see sale flyers, coupons, and other savings information.

You can edit the barcodes and descriptions once you add them to the app. But what if I need passwords that go along with a loyalty program?  I found via trial and error that you can add notes to card entries via the web version of Key Ring (, but only there for some reason.  You use the same login and password to log in to this version of Key Ring.  In the example below, I entered “the password goes here” in the notes field, to see how it shows up in the app-it is available in the lower part of the screen, but can’t be edited.

bn edit


I’ve got the cards in, now I need to add passwords and I’ll be ready to go.  The info you put in Key Ring can be shared, so I’ll send them to my husband’s phone, too, so he can benefit as well.  I already made use of the app in the first week, when I booked a hotel room and had my reward number handy.  I will find out if there are problems with scanning the barcodes from the phone when I’m shopping; in those cases, the number has to be entered manually.  I’m looking forward to having all this info in one place, we’ll see how it goes!

Is there an app for cancer?

The combination of terms, “games” and “cancer” seems incongruous to most. However, recent trends in health education and care are promoting games and online gaming as a means of encouraging patient engagement, support and learning even – or especially – in remote and rural areas.


A notable contribution to this realm of serious gaming apps includes the introduction this year of iManageCancer, an online gaming and interactive monitoring module sponsored by the European Union. Young people especially can find social support and encouragement through this platform via their mobile phones, although the system is intended for all ages. The gaming components allow cancer patients to address the emotions surrounding their diagnosis and treatment. For instance, a game for children with cancer might involve the ability to “shoot” cancer cells, thus increasing the child’s sense of empowerment. In addition, a monitoring component which tracks therapeutic side effects among other things allows for individualized coping strategies for the patient while alerting the health care team to any serious physical or psychological reactions.

iManageCancer is still in the pilot phase according to company press releases. The hope is that if this project is successful, it can pave the way for apps for conditions where patient empowerment is key to successful management – which would include most conditions, right?

Keeping a Remote Eye on Things, (Fairly) Easily and (Fairly) Inexpensively

I had been mildly interested in wi-fi cameras and other minimal web-enabled security/automation items for a while-besides keeping a lookout while away, how much fun might it be to spy on the cat??  I had looked at Iris and Smarthome components when I was browsing the area DIY box stores.  A turn-key system had a lot more appeal, rather than building something from scratch. Iris looked the most intriguing, but the reviews at that time were mediocre and you had to pay a monthly fee to get the most out of it.

Then last fall Costco made me an offer I couldn’t refuse-a starter kit from Insteon that had the basics of what I needed, at a great price.  This kit included the network hub, a wi-fi camera, a couple of control switches for outlets, a motion detector, and a couple of open/close sensors.  I didn’t really want to be so connected that everything turned on and off as I left a room, adjusted the atmosphere, or cooked dinner for me while I was at work, and I didn’t want to have something with ongoing costs associated.  The reviews were decent, there is no ongoing fee,and so we were off.

The hub was quite easy to hook up to my home network,insteon4 and all the components connected effortlessly except the wi-fi camera.  Since you want to have more interaction with it and be able to view video, it is more complicated-more on that later.  Insteon has apps for iOS, Android, and Windows which allow you to control your devices and group them together in “scenes”, where they work together to accomplish a desired task.  There is a PC interface available as well.



Multiple cameras can be added to the system.  If you don’t insteon3want your cameras to end up linked on one of those sites where you can click and see inside peoples’ houses, be sure and change all the passwords from the defaults.  Set up involves adding ports in your wireless router configuration, and if you want to have the highest level of remote control through the web, you can forward the port and establish a URL for your system.  This was the most involved part of the process for me, and some was trial and error.  After a few months using the system, I felt that the external URL wasn’t useful to me and I discontinued this option.

At this point, I am making the most use of the camera.  The camera can be set to send an alert upon sound and/or motion, and it can be scheduled to react at the times you desire.  It also has audio capability that can work in both directions.  I also like to have lamps on timers, and open/close sensors on remote doors and windows.  I haven’t really explored making a lot of scenes to this point, where components interact with each other. Insteon defines a “scene” as multiple devices responding to memorized states.  For example, a dinner time scene turns on the dining table light, dims the kitchen lights to 10%, backyard lights turn off and the thermostat adjusts to 72º. Since a component can be part of only one “scene”, I can’t have the same light go on at a certain time of day, and also be triggered by the motion sensor at night, for example, so there are some limitations.


Insteon has an increasing variety of components you can add to your system, including locks, thermostats, LED light bulbs, wired wall switches, and outside cameras.  Several kits are available so you can choose a bundle that meets your needs.  You can tailor the system to be as simple or complex as meets your needs.  They are also working on increased interoperability with other systems, per this recent article on cnet.

The website has helpful videos and documentation, and I’ve read good reviews of the telephone support.

So if you are looking to dabble in home automation and security, without spending a fortune, Insteon lets you start small and add on as needed.  There is a lot of information available at, and several helpful articles a

Have you tried Canva?

My favorite new tool is Canva, a graphic design tool that makes it super easy to create images for social media, flyers for sharing, and cards for printing. You can choose from free or $1.00 templates, photos, or icons to create images or PDF’s that you can download or save in your design stream.  Check out some of the images that I have created to publicize our Pet Therapy Study Break, Afternoon Tea, & other messages for Twitter and Facebook posts. One nice feature of Canva is that you can choose the size of your image to fit perfectly into posts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram as well as headers for social media and email. Canva also offers helpful tutorials on design plus inspiration from cool designers to follow on Instagram. Join the over 2 million members on Canva and start creating your own super designs.


GOOD LUCK2sunshinegood luckMolly3

Safe Pregnancy & Birth App for Remote Health Workers

Mobile health or “mHealth” applications featuring targeted text or video messages to frontline health workers and patients in resource-poor countries have had mixed success so far owing mostly to the limitations of the technology and economics in scaling up pilot projects. The mHIFA Working Group recently updated a review of existing projects, highlighting some of the more successful ones.

Foremost among them is the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app from Hesperian Health Guides. As judged by the Working Group’s criteria of “Significance of the Health Problem,” “Appropriateness of the Targeting,” “Value of the Information,” “Ease of Assimilation of the Information,” “Availability of the Application,” and “Technological Accessibility of the Application,” the Safe Pregnancy and Birth app provides short, easy to follow, step by step instructions (illustrated by simple drawings) of pregnancy and birth health issues.


For example a lay birth attendant in a remote location can get simple instructions on how to check the baby’s position in the womb or non-medical techniques for strengthening labor.


The app is freely downloadable to iPhones (or iPads and other Apple products) as well as Android devices. For now, the information is available only in English or Spanish, but the producers welcome offers to translate the information into other languages. The Working Group noted the app’s focus on action-oriented instructions and ease of navigation.

Mobile health applications are still proving their worth, but apps such as this one definitely help to make the case for continuing the effort.

Meet Browzine™ Turn your tablet into your e-reader!

Keep up to date with your scholarly reading with Browzine™, a new way of browsing and reading your favorite journals from many major publishers on your iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, Android Tablet or Android phone. BrowZine is free. All licensed content is provided via UAB Libraries.



Get started in two EASY steps:

1.  Download the free Browzine app for your device.

2. When installed, choose University of Alabama at Birmingham as your university library. Use your Blazer ID/password when prompted.


Why use Browzine?

  • to scan the complete tables of contents of scholarly journals and read articles optimized for mobile devices
  •  to get one-click from journal tables of content to the PDFs of the articles you want to read
    • save specific articles for later reference and offline reading
    • create a bookshelf of your favorite journals for easy, fast access
  • to receive on screen notifications when new issues of your favorite journals are published

Other features:BrowZine_Article_Export_Options_iOS

  • Find journals by searching or browsing a title list, or by using a Browzine bookshelf chosen by subject.
  • Annotate or print articles by opening them in your favorite apps like Good Reader or iAnnotate.



Pushbullet is a great, free app designed to allow you to easily move items between your computer and mobile devices.











As promised, it is very easy to get started:

pushbullet get started
















I downloaded the app to my iPhone and iPad and added the Chrome extension to my computer.  I logged in with my Gmail account and that was it.  I could then use the app on my mobile devices to push items such as photos, files, and links to my computer.  I sent a couple of things from home and when I got to work the next morning there was a pop-up on my computer with the information.  Computer does need to be on though, when I sent one over the holiday it didn’t go through and I couldn’t easily resend it.

I did the same thing from my computer, using the Pushbullet icon in Chrome and instantly pushed files or links from one to the other.

Now I do have other options for moving things between devices but this is so fast and easy I likely will never use the other options again.  As I don’t have an Android phone I don’t have all the options (yet) but still find this FREE app to be a great time saver.

There are also some great IFTTT recipes for Pushbullet.

Apparently this app has been around for a while, I just missed it somehow.  If you have been using it and have suggestions on how to make the most of it, let us know in the comments.


When I heard that ZipList was closing down earlier this month, I panicked. As mentioned in my post about ZipList earlier this year, this is one of the top few apps I use on a daily basis. The discontinuation of this app comes at a very bad time of year, so I’ve quickly had to do my research to find a replacement! And since I raved about ZipList and may have even lead some to start using it themselves, I feel the need to direct you all to another shopping list solution!

After reading about and considering a few other shopping list apps (Shopper, GroceryIQ, Grocery Gadget, and others) I have ended up with OurGroceries. (Available for both iOS and Android as well as via most PC web browsers.)

Our Groceries ListOur Groceries List 















So far, am really liking it. As I confessed in my ZipList post, I am not a grocery shopper. I go only when I must. My role is the list maker; my husband’s role is the store-goer. So the ability to share shopping lists in real time, is key. I like to sneak one or two more items on the list while he’s actually at the store!

In addition to list sharing, other shopping list app features I require include the ability to:

  • sign up for an account without linking to Facebook. (This was the deal breaker for Shopper. I did not see a way to share my lists without registering with my Facebook login and like others, I’m still suspicious of “anonymous login.”)
  • make lists for multiple stores: Publix, Target, Home Depot, Beth, Bath, & Beyond, etc.
  • categorize items by type of product and/or aisle in store

I didn’t find myself using ZipList to search for recipes and then automatically add recipe ingredients to my shopping list, so for those who like the sound of that, OurGroceries is probably not for you. You can store recipe names and ingredients but must manually enter that information. There is no place to store the actual recipe instructions. To me, the recipe part of the app is pretty worthless. I guess just having a list of recipe names might be helpful if you’re at a loss for what to cook and need to skim a list.

Some features OurGroceries doesn’t have (or not yet) that some of the other similar apps have include barcode scanning, price tracking, coupon integration, and photos of products. For now at least, I’m enjoying the simplicity of OurGroceries.

There is a free version of OurGroceries, which includes ads. So far, the ads have not been too much of a nuisance to me. For $4.99 (in-app purchase), though, you can upgrade to OurGroceries+ and go ad-free.