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Tuesday, May 7: Social Events & Celebrations

Social Events & Celebrations

When:  Tuesday, May 7, 2018
8:00 – 9:00 pm ET
5:00 – 6:00 pm PT
Join host Lara DiPaola (@dipaolamomma) and the #VZMilitaryMom team at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) on Tuesday, May 7 as we chat about Social Events & Celebrations!
Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are all just around the corner! Join us as we honor our moms and military, and share tips on how to use our mobile devices to make the most of these special occasions and other upcoming social events and celebrations!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a brand new iPad!
Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. (You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)
To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: VZMilitaryMom) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2ZPp4hk
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#VZMilitaryMom) on Tuesday, May 7 between 8:00 – 9:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

Thursday, May 9: Smartphone Photography Workshop

Smartphone Photography Workshop

When:  Thursday, May 9, 2018
8:00 – 9:00 pm ET
5:00 – 6:00 pm PT
Join hosts @RickGriffin @SandiMcKenna and the #Verizon55Plus team at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) on Thursday, May 9 for a live Smartphone Photography Workshop!
As most of us know only too well, better smartphone cameras don’t always result in better photos. Join Rick and Sandi on Thursday, May 9 as we share some tips and tricks than can improve our photography skills and help create photos to be proud of!
(Get your best pictures ready to share as we learn from each other!)
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a brand new iPad!
Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. (You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)
To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: Verizon55Plus) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2ZxJI5B
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#Verizon55Plus) on Thursday, May 9 between 8:00 – 9:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

Friday, December 28: New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions!

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When:  Friday, December 28, 2018
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
Join host @DianeNassy and the #MobileLiving team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) TODAY, Friday, December 28 as we chat about New Year’s Resolutions!
Making New Year resolutions is the easy part; keeping them is a whole lot harder! Join us as we share our goals for 2019, swap tips on how to stay the course, and discover how your mobile lifestyle can lend a helping hand!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a Fitbit Charge 3 Activity Tracker or a Bose SoundLink Color 2 Bluetooth Speaker!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: MobileLiving) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2EPh5sB
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#MobileLiving) on Friday, December 28 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

Friday, December 21: Last-Minute Madness

LAST-MINUTE MADNESS!

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When:  Friday, December 21, 2018
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
Join host @RickGriffin and the #MobileLiving team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) on Friday, December 21 as we offer a wealth of last-minute Holiday shopping ideas!
Calling all procrastinators!
Still got gifts to buy? Cards to send? Decorations to hang? Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
We can’t write those cards for you but we can definitely help with some great gift ideas. Join Rick and the team this Friday as we indulge in a little Last-Minute Madness!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a JBL Flip 4 Bluetooth speaker or a brand new iPad!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: MobileLiving) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2BrdjCp 
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#MobileLiving) on Friday, December 21 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

Friday, December 14: Fun for Foodies

FUN FOR FOODIES!

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When:  Friday, December 14, 2018
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
Join host @RickGriffin and the #MobileLiving team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) on Friday, December 14 as we chat about Fun for Foodies!
We talk about it, we plan our days around it, we photograph it, and sometimes we even eat it! Yes, it’s everyone’s favorite topic – food!
Join us as we share our favorite dishes, restaurants and more, and explore how mobile technology and social media have turned us into a nation of foodies!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or a Google Home Hub!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: MobileLiving) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2rAepY6
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#MobileLiving) on Friday, December 14 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

Friday, December 7: Holiday Entertainment

HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT

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When:  Friday, December 7, 2018
3:00 – 4:00 pm ET
12:00 – 1:00 pm PT
Join host @RickGriffin and the #MobileLiving team at 3 pm ET (12 noon PT) on Friday, December 7 as we chat about Holiday Entertainment!
Looking for holiday entertainment ideas? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Join us we share our favorite movies, shows and games, and explore how mobile devices can be a welcome addition to the holiday entertainment mix!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or a Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth portable speaker!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

To RSVP:
  1. Email RSVP@theonlinemom.com (subject line: MobileLiving) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed: https://bit.ly/2KYYJGH 
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#MobileLiving) on Friday, December 7 between 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

How To Manage Holiday Stress

By Tracey Dowdy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, unless spending time with family means days filled with conflict and tension. Or, your children have wish lists that read more like a ransom note. Or, you’re already well over-budget, and it’s not even December yet.

There are as many reasons the holidays can be stressful as there are reasons your great-aunt Esther needs to be reminded you can’t believe everything you read on Facebook. An American Psychological Association study found women experience more holiday stress than men. Just 25% of women say they get a chance to relax during the holidays, and 44 percent report higher stress levels between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And according to an online survey of 1000 adults by Pure Profile, men spend 53 hours preparing for the holidays, while women spend even more at a whopping 83 hours. “Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday celebrations, particularly the tasks related to preparing meals and decorating the home. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season. In addition, they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.”

Janet Hibbs, therapist and coauthor of  “Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage” puts it this way, “Women’s holiday stress often represents the pressure of creating holiday magic for their children, partners, and the real and imagined audiences of their own parents,” says B.. “Childhood memories of gingerbread houses, decorations, wrapped presents, special foods, as well as familial and religious traditions pose unconscious expectations.”

So how do we avoid falling into this trap? Well, Dr. John A Call, psychologist and president of Crisis Management Consultants recommends that you start by determining what stresses you out. “Is it a certain situation, a particular person, or that long list of things to do? Realizing what gives you stress is the first step to managing it.”

The next step is to think about how you manage your stress. Be careful of unhealthy behaviors like turning to alcohol or stress-related eating and instead find healthier responses like exercise or talking with your partner or friends.

Should you determine that your coping mechanisms are unhealthy, don’t beat yourself up – you’re trying to reduce stress, remember? Instead, give yourself grace and make a better choice next time. One of the best things you can do for yourself is simply put yourself to bed. According to the American Psychological Association, “Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Many are willing to help but don’t know how to ask or what to offer. Conversely, many of us want help but don’t know how to delegate. Be honest, be humble, and don’t be afraid to reach out.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, learn to say “No.” There’ll be a thousand demands placed on you in the coming weeks. Many of them will be good things, but learn to separate the good from the great. Determining where your priorities lie and determining to keep them first allows you the freedom to say no, even to family and friends. Whenever possible, use these magic words, “Let me get back to you,” if asked to take on another project, volunteer opportunity or accept an invitation. It’s like hitting the pause button – it gives you time to check your calendar, talk to your partner, and may prompt the person asking to look for alternatives in case you decline the request.

If you say no, you’re of course under no obligation to offer a reason, but having an honest answer as simple as, “It doesn’t work with my schedule this year,” softens your response. It’s also a softer answer than a hard, “No,” and like the proverb says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Apple Music vs Spotify

By Tracey Dowdy

Coke or Pepsi? McDonalds or Burger King? Dunkin or Starbucks? DC Comics or Marvel?

In our market driven economy, no successful company exists for long without fierce competition from a rival. For some, it’s a matter of preference: for others, it’s the quality of the product or service.

Which brings us to Apple Music and Spotify. Both are successful music-streaming services with millions of users, though Apple’s current total of 50 million is far behind Spotify’s 75 million. Apple is determined to catch up and it seems to be working – Spotify subscriptions are increasing at a monthly rate of 2%, while Apple’s growth rate is 5%.

So what are the differences? Are either worth the price tag? The following should help you decide:

Content

Spotify has an impressive 30 million-plus song catalog with 20,000 new songs being added daily, compared to Apple’s 40 million. Apple secured many more exclusives than all its competition – Tidal, Amazon Music, and Spotify – largely because it doesn’t offer a free tier.

Another advantage is that Apple allows you to integrate your music library with its catalog. Any music you have – whether previously purchased via the iTunes Store, uploaded to iTunes Match or ripped from a CD – will appear in your Apple Music library, so users can browse their own music alongside Apple’s catalog. Spotify does allow users a similar function, though local music files are under a separate tab, and you can’t access your local music via broad searches as you can with Apple Music.

Price

Both Spotify Premium and Apple Music costs the industry-standard $10 per month. (So does Tidal Premium, Pandora’s on-demand service, and Amazon Music Unlimited, though it’s $8 with an Amazon Prime subscription). However, Spotify offers a free, ad-based tier and Apple does not, though both offer special family packs that allow customers to add up to six individual accounts for just $15 per month. Current Apple Music users can get a year’s worth of service for $99 with a three-month free trial for all subscribers.

New music

Spotify definitely has the advantage here, with dozens of base genres to choose from, and intuitive playlists like Monday’s “Discover Weekly” become more tailored to your tastes the more you listen. (It was so successful Google copied the feature!) Others, like Release Radar and New Music Friday, enable subscribers to find new music from artists they may never have stumbled across on their own, and a series called Secret Genius allows pop music fans to hear from the songwriters behind some of their favorite hits. Spotify also allows you to create, share, and follow playlists of any kind — including those shared by your friends — with a simple click, along with curated playlists for any mood or genre.

When you create an Apple Music account, users are prompted to choose their favorite artists, so the service can determine your music taste. The interface is a digital ball pit, with each ball representing an artist. Users click on specific balls, indicating which artists they prefer. Once your preferences are complete, Apple’s “team of experts” curate and create lists based on your choices. Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio function offers live radio 24/7 and is a primary source for music discovery.

Social Features

Spotify allows subscribers to follow their friends, see what they listen to and who they follow. It also provides users the option to share or recommend playlists and publish their listening history to Facebook, so friends can Like or Comment on their activity.

Apple Music’s primary social feature is the Connect function, designed to bring artists and fans closer together. Connect more or less serves as an all-access pass to favorite artists and bands, and allows artists to share exclusive insight and information with fans. These can be shared on Facebook and Twitter, along with individual songs and albums.

Offline Downloads

Spotify allows a total offline download up to 10,000 songs across five devices, while Apple Music lets you download unlimited music across 10 different devices. Technically, they cap downloads at 100,000 songs, but it’s unlikely you will hit that unless you download pretty much every album you see.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

How To Protect Your Home Wi-Fi

By Tracey Dowdy

If your Wi-Fi at home is slow, there are a number of possible reasons, including where your router is located, wireless interference and “noise” from other electronics, overlap with the neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal, or even what other users in your house are doing online.

I live in an older home with very thick walls, and I’m convinced it was a bunker at some point in its history. Because there’s so much concrete and metal in the structure, even though my house isn’t overly large, I need a Wi-Fi extender to have internet access upstairs.

Another possible reason is that it’s possible that someone is using your Wi-Fi without your permission.

It could be a neighbor or bad code running on a device, but either way, you’ll want to put a stop to it.

Here’s how.

The first step is to check to see what’s connected to your internet. Most newer routers like Linksys Smart Wi-Fi, Netgear Genie, and the TP Link Tether have a companion app that expands their functionality and enables you to see exactly what’s going on. Open the app and look for “Connected Devices.” Even if you have an older router, you can still see a list of connected devices through the router’s web portal. Check your manual for access instructions. If you see a device you know isn’t yours, e.g., a MacBook when your family has only PC and Android devices, disable or disconnect it.

If your Wi-Fi isn’t password protected, you’ve left the door wide open to the world. Set up a secure password immediately. You should always implement the current and highest possible level of security protocols – that means using WPA2.

If the router is older, it may be time to replace it. Newer routers come with better security protocols, faster speeds, parental controls, and can eliminate “dead zones” in your home.

If you do upgrade, here are five basic settings to reconfigure:

  • Change the network name and password, or better yet, use a passphrase.
  • Choose a security mode – experts recommend WPA2 (often listed as WPA2-PSK/AES) for the most protection.
  • Check network mode and bands – you’ll want to broadcast on both frequencies: 5GHz and 2.4GHz. The 2.4GHz band is more congested because it’s the frequency common household electronics use, but it allows older devices to connect to the internet. The 5GHz band is faster and less crowded but has a shorter range. Using both ensures there are no gaps in service.
  • Enable parental controls.
  • Consider setting up a “Guest Network” to prevent others from accessing shared computers and files on your network.

There’s a little work on the front end, but once set and secured, the peace of mind – and faster speeds – make it all worth it.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.