Friday, August 29, 2014

10 Reasons Why I Love the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 in my favorite case.
by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

I'm a techie girl at heart. If it's a computer, portable music player, e-reader, or just a tech gadget in general, I can tell you in advance that I love it. My primary passion though is cell phones, and my absolute favorite at the moment is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Here are my top 10 reasons why I love this phone:
  1. Operating system (OS). The Galaxy Note 3 is an Android phone, and Android powers phones to do just what I need them to do.
  2. Huge screen. At 5.7" the screen is the perfect size for over-50 eyes and for fingers used to speed typing on a standard-size keyboard.
  3. Stylus. This is what truly sets this phone apart from its competitors. It's not just that you can use it as a pen to type in text. The power is that you can use it as a controller to command the phone to do actual tasks.
  4. Battery life. Although I've received decent battery life from some of the phones that I've had in the past, the Galaxy Note 3 is a beast in this area. I'm a power user, constantly checking email, social media, and sending and receiving texts during the day, yet by the end of the evening I still have at least 20% left on a charge. This is even taking into account the fact that I like a bright screen, so I don't set mine on auto; I have it geared up to its full brightness.
  5. Memory. Again, I'm a power user, and one of the things that I like about this phone is that it multitasks. Multitasking requires a higher reserve of memory, and with 3 GB of RAM it handles anything that I throw at it efficiently.
  6. Computer in my pocket. The Note 3 is the next best thing to carrying around a computer in your pocket. Almost anything that I do on my desktop or laptop I can do on this phone. Don't get me wrong; it will never replace my computers, but it certainly enhances my ability to be more mobile with less poundage.
  7. Ergonomics. I love the way that the Galaxy Note 3 fits in my hand. It just feels right, and it's comfortable. It's large enough where I'm not always wary about dropping it, yet small enough that I don't feel that I'm toting a full-size tablet around.
  8. Customizations. I make this phone uniquely me. If I don't like the keyboard, I change it. If I don't like the wallpaper, I choose one that's more reflective of my personality. I can arrange the apps on my home screens in a format that's intuitive for me.
  9. Notification light. As a past Blackberry user, one of the things that I liked about that phone was the notification light -- something that I missed in my subsequent phones. With the Galaxy Note 3, the notification light is back! I can tell at a glance by the color whether I have email, texts, or other types of messages.
  10. Camera. The rear-facing camera is awesome. At 13MP my photos and videos come out with superb clarity. They've also really improved the auto-focus, minimizing blurriness and fuzziness.
These are only a few of my reasons. All in all, if you're looking for a powerhouse productivity and creativity device, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I don't think that you'll be disappointed.

*Note: Rumor has it that the Galaxy Note 4 is scheduled for release in Fall 2014.

Personal experience
*Photo: (c) Angela Lane Woods
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/15/2014 (no longer published there).]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Know Thyself: A Prerequisite to Dating

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

There once was a time when the art of dating boiled down to the parents of a man and the parents of a woman getting together and deciding that the couple would be 'compatible.' The woman's family would receive a dowry and then a public ceremony would take place to validate their union.

This, however, is 2014, and, thankfully, the rules have totally changed. Despite this relationship dynamics tend to be more challenged than ever. With bestselling titles alluding to the metaphor that men are from Mars and women from Venus, it is clear that men and women lack a basic fundamental understanding of how to communicate with each other and to make a relationship work.

Couples tend to put the cart before the horse and date with the intention of getting to know each other before they even have an insightful understanding of their own selves and what they are looking for and need in a relationship.

The strongest relationships are built on a premise of self awareness. Taking some inventory of one's own expectations, past history, beliefs, and fundamental values is the best filter for being able to assess if a potential partner might be a good fit.

A strong relationship requires a strong foundation. Take the steps to ensure that you are building such a foundation by beginning with yourself so that in the final analysis you can achieve a partnership that will endure and be a lasting source of satisfaction and happiness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Work at Home Tip: Get a Comfortable Chair

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

At the time of this writing, I've been working from home for at least 25 years, and I truly love it. I've tried going back into office work a couple of times, but it just didn't agree with me. Most people who work from home tend to have sedentary jobs. In these kinds of circumstances, an important work-at-home tip is that you get a comfortable chair.

As I sit here and type this article I'm fumbling and fidgeting and writhing in pain. The reason why is that I decided to work from my kitchen table this evening instead of up in my home office - where I do indeed have a comfortable chair. The chair that I'm sitting in right now is all wood with just an excuse of a cushion on it. I can feel the discomfort in my back, my legs, my thighs, and even my neck.

In order to be productive (translation: productivity=$$$), I have to be able to stay in my chair for extended periods of time, and this just isn't going to cut it. I feel pretty certain that many of you have had this same experience.

Purchasing an office chair meant for prolonged sitting doesn't have to send your wallet into a tailspin. As long as you follow a few basic guidelines you can get creative with the 'where' of where you're going to get your new chair and take steps during the buying process that will allow you to shave a little money off of your purchase.

According to, the most important factors to consider in purchasing a chair are height, width and depth, backrest, seat material, arm rests, and swivel. Click on the link for more specifics on how to make your selection.

A simple clue is that you should not be slumping in any way as you work on your computer. Your body should be positioned in an almost straight line with your head tilted slightly forward. If you're feeling any discomfort at all, then you don't have the right chair.

Sitting in a chair not designed for comfort for long periods of time can wreak havoc on the body that may not show up right away, but, trust, the negative effects of such will show up with a vengeance way on down the road.

Have any of you ever had to suffer the torture of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for 8+-hours a day? How did you solve it? What kind of chair were you able to find that ended your discomfort? Did you have any ill effects from having endured it for so long?

Share your experience with us in the comments box below.

Sources: Office Chair: Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair
Personal experience
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices (no longer published there).]

Monday, August 25, 2014

Is SiriusXM Worth the Money?

With the purchase of my last three vehicles I received a free yearly subscription to a satellite music service by the name of SiriusXM. Initially I wasn't impressed. I mean, why did I need radio stations that I would eventually have to pay for when AM and FM were free and had served me well for many years? Eventually the renewal date loomed and I had to make the decision of whether or not I wanted to continue the service on a paid basis; thus, the question: is SiriusXM worth the money?

Here are a few reasons that I decided to keep the service and why it might be a good choice for you too:

More stations

At last site update, SiriusXM boasted of including 165+ channels in their top-tier subscription package: AllAccess. Programming extends across a variety of genres - classical, rock, Christian, talk shows, sports, traffic and weather, comedy, etc. There's a little something for every listening preference here.

No commercials

Blessed peace! This area alone makes it well worth the money for me. On free radio, the commercials sometimes can drag on for minutes and DJs can talk incessantly. Having sales propaganda forced in your ear on a continuous basis gets old after a while.

Portability across platforms

The top-tier program offers something that diehard musicphiles will absolutely love - you have one account where you can preset your favorites and listen to across a variety of platforms. Whether you want to listen in your car, on your computer, on your smartphone or even your tablet, you can take your favorite stations with you everywhere you go.

Great reception

The reception is phenomenal. Rarely, if ever, do you encounter any dead spots. Stations are, after all, powered by satellites. This coupled with a high-end listening system makes for a breathtaking musical experience. You literally can listen to your favorite station just about anywhere you go in the world with complete and absolute clarity.

Online management

SiriusXM makes everything so convenient. You can manage your account online and also research new stations and manage the ones that you already have added to your favorites list via the Web.


There are different subscription pricing tiers that are suitable for a variety of budgets. If you can get past the idea of actually having to pay to listen to the radio, you should be able to afford this service.

What about you? Any SiriusXM subscribers out there? What has been your experience with the service? Sound off in the comments box below.

Personal experience

*Photo: ...some guy via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices (no longer published there).]

Friday, August 15, 2014

I Dream of Vacationing in an RV

Call me silly, but I've always had the lifelong dream of one day renting an RV (recreational vehicle) and going on an extended road trip with family and close friends. I can envision us bonding, laughing, and loving life together. And it seems that I'm not alone in this dream. There's a whole subculture of retirees, independently wealthy folks, and curiosity seekers who make it their business to travel the country in a "motorized home on wheels."

What are some of the reasons that one might want to travel this way?

Control of your time

When you travel by RV you and you alone are in control of your time. The world is a big-screen TV and your steering wheel is the remote.


Have you seen the latest generation of RVs? They're absolutely fabulous. Some of them are even luxurious. I've even seen some RVs that would make me walk off and leave my house and never look back.


Although gas prices are sky high right now, when you take your "home" with you on vacation you have a tighter control over the cost of your trip. It's your place of lodging. You can cook while on the road and don't have to scuffle with moving luggage from place to place.


What kid wouldn't love an adventure like this: seeing the world from a large moving vehicle where they can hunker down and get comfortable. They still can even have access to their TV, video games, and whatever forms of recreation they get a kick out of.


Think about it. You, your family, your closest friends. Traveling together, enjoying each other. The road would open up many opportunities for bonding and strengthening your relationships.


The easiest way to find a pet-friendly facility for housing your pet while on vacation is to take him with you while traveling in an RV. He can get comfortable and get settled. You can take all of his needs right along with you and establish a special place just for him in the vehicle.

These are just a few of the reasons why traveling in an RV would be the perfect trip for me.

Have any of you ever traveled in an RV? Please share your experiences below. I'd love to hear them. Let me live vicariously through you until I can get my own trip together.


*Photo: Commodore Gandalf Cunningham via
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 07/02/2014 (no longer published there).]

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why Seniors Should Join AARP

One of the first things that I did when I turned 50 was to join AARP. For those of you who haven't heard of them before, AARP is an organization for people, ages 50 and up, that offers a ton of membership benefits for only $16 a year. In my opinion, every person should join this organization once they turn 50.

AARP states that they are a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people in this age range improve the quality of their lives.

Some of the benefits offered include discounts on everyday services, such as car rental, auto insurance, prescriptions, tickets to various venues, health products, technology, and financial services.

This organization also acts as an advocate in Washington for older people in the areas of housing, income, and hunger in addition to healthcare, retirement, and employment.

They put out a variety of informative publications throughout the course of the month addressing issues that affect people in the age category mentioned.

I've found my membership to be well worth the price. I've been able to whip out my AARP card in many places and receive discounts. I'm also able to keep up to date on issues that may affect my life.
AARP even has employment opportunities available in their local offices.

AARP was one of the very first organizations to provide relevant, accurate information on the ACA (Affordable Care Act), and they continue to keep members updated on this program.
They promote recreational activities, networking, and diversity.

Joining AARP has almost become a rite of passage among the over-50 crowd. They've been around in different incarnations since 1958 and have steadily evolved over the years, even to the point of becoming a powerful lobbying influence. The website boasts a membership of over 37 million strong - and growing.

Members receive benefits and access to information and opportunities that literally affect every area of their lives.

If you have finally qualified for entry into the 'sassy silver club' and are interested in joining an organization that works tirelessly on your behalf and whose activities affect every facet of your life, I would suggest that at the very least you peruse the website and see if there is anything there that appeals to you. Even First Lady Michelle Obama applied for, and received, her membership.

I've referred a number of people to AARP, and of the many that have joined all have agreed that it was well worth the cost of membership and they renew year after year.

So, what are you waiting for? Click the link below and do your own research.


*Photo: Mike Licht via
[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices (no longer published there).]

Saturday, August 2, 2014

'Reign': What Does the Future Hold for Bash and Kenna?

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

New show a surprising success

One of the hottest new shows to hit the TV waves is the breakout success, "Reign." Although there have been many plot twists and turns during this first season, very few fans foresaw one of the greatest manipulations of them all: that King Henry's mistress Kenna would be forced to marry his illegitimate son Bash. As viewers impatiently wait for the new season to debut the question continues to arise: what does the future hold for Bash and Kenna?

'Benna' begins

Despite having a slight disdain for one another during the initial episodes of the show the pair exhibited a fiery chemistry when they finally acquiesced to the harsh reality of their marriage. They consummated their union by mutual agreement and have worked cooperatively to subtly intervene in both matters of the royal Court and in the rescue of a young man slated to be the successor of the malevolent Darkness.

'Til death do them part

Can relationships birthed in the fire of crisis survive over the long term after the crisis has passed? King Henry is now dead and so no coercions outside of societal mores bind these two together -- or is there something solid and real there?

The couple seems to have committed to a lifelong relationship and to loving each other out of a sheer act of the will fueled by mutual respect, desire, and thwarted romance. Bash exhibits a tenderness and protectiveness towards Kenna that can't be counterfeited, and Kenna reciprocates with an air of affection and solicitation.

The question remains

Though a significant segment of fans rooted for a reunion between Bash and Mary, history cannot support this as a credible circumstance in the story line. Indeed, there really exists no historical evidence that Bash even existed, much less was wed to one of the young Scottish queen's ladies-in-waiting, one who also just happened to be his father's mistress.

So in the context of a popular TV show one can only speculate based on basic patterns of human behavior and the predictability (or not) of commercial scriptwriting whether or not Bash and Kenna will endure the test of time and go down in the annals of TV viewing as one of the most popular, and least expected, pairings in television land.

Sound off in the comments below. Are Bash and Kenna sealed together by their vows and growing love or will the pressures of Court life and remnant influences of past love tear them apart?


[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/29/2014 (no longer published there).]