Category: Research (Page 1 of 2)

What’s That Song They’re Playing?

What's That Song They're Playing?

It happens to everyone, eventually: You’ll be watching a commercial, sitting down at a stadium or strolling through the grocery. And that song playing overhead will stop you in your tracks. You know this tune, but the name will elude you. What’s that song they’re playing? You’ve just got to know!

Good thing you have a smartphone on you. It should be able to tell you immediately what song is playing in the vicinity.

Android Users

Go to Settings -> Sound & Vibration -> Now Playing. In here, you’ll find options to turn this function on and have it show on your Lock Screen. When you want to identify a song, the Lock Screen will give you the info or a button to press to identify whatever it hears.

If your Google-based phone doesn’t offer this under Settings, then your next option would be to try out the Shazam app. Free to download through the Google Play Store, Shazam can be called upon to identify music at any time.

Apple iOS users

On iPhones and the like, Shazam technology is built-in for identifying audio. Just ask Siri: “What’s the name of this song?” or tell her to “Shazam this song!”. She’ll think about it for several seconds and then pop-up the info you want.

There are a lot of advanced settings available for this on your iDevice. Check out this Apple article and you can learn how to create a Shazam button, buy the music you’ve heard and more.

Download Maps for Offline Use

Many of us use our cellphones for mapping, exploring and generally finding our way around. But there are times when you can’t or won’t be able to rely on your cellular connection for pulling up instant GPS directions. In certain situations, you’ll want to plan ahead and download maps for offline use.

Before you leave home, you’ll want to open your maps-app of choice, and load up the region that you plan on travelling to. Your app will have the ability to pre-download all the mapping info for that territory, while you are on your Wi-Fi or connected to regular cellular signal. Later, while travelling, your GPS directions will work using the data stored on your phone.

Apple has instructions for their Maps app, under iOS, here. And if you are using Google Maps, check out this article.

There are a variety of reasons you might want to proactively download your maps in this way:

  • You are going to travel through a region with poor cellular signal.
  • Your cellular plan has a very low data allowance and you are trying to avoid going over and incurring fees.
  • Your trip is taking you through a country where your plan may not allow you data usage.

Big Tech Status Websites

Even the biggest tech companies have outages and service failures. If your email or website is on the fritz, it may not be your fault. If iCloud or MS Teams won’t load, it could be their problem to fix. Bookmark this post or any of the Big Tech Status Websites below, so that you can check them at the first sign of trouble.

Microsoft Service Health – relevant to, Teams, OneDrive, Skype and more

Apple System Status – ranging from iCloud to AppleTV+, from Siri to MacOS Updates and many, many more

Google Workspace Status Dashboard – pertaining to Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs and various other consumer apps

Meta Status and Outages – covering Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and related APIs

As I find other useful big tech status websites, I’ll add them to this post.

Checking the Air Quality Index

Our government has created a great resource for checking the Air Quality Index. AirNow was created by the EPA, NOAA, CDC and other government agencies, and is a simple information tool, without advertisements. Visit at any time for local AQI info. And feel free to scroll down for more info on forest fires, AQI webcams and more.

But even better, we now have an AirNow app. This, too, is free and shows no ads! So for the ultimate in convenience, throw this app on your Android or Apple smartphone, so you can check the AQI on the fly.

Landlord Lookup Tools

It may seem like, in a rental relationship, the landlord has all the power. But before you sign on the line for an apartment, check out some of these sites:

Rate the Landlord



These websites offer reviews on landlords. You can look up a person or company you are thinking of renting from. You can also leave a review, after you’ve exited a rental agreement. You may not find every landlord on these sites, but the more that people use them, the more informative they become.

Also, some states offer extra tools to help renters, but you may have to search online or call the local government to learn more. For example, Washington DC’s government will help you run a background check on a given landlord. But NYC offers a different type of aid, reporting annually on their 100 worst landlords.

In any case, be careful and consider some due diligence before signing that rental contract!

Free Apps for Identifying Animals

Much like the plant-ID apps I’ve blogged about, there are plenty of free apps for identifying animals. There’s no need to crowdsource your answer from Facebook. Take a pic or recording and send it up to the experts. You can have an AI or website give you the answer immediately. And for free!

Free Apps for Identifying Animals

Got a snake in your garden? First, be careful! Take a pic and use these apps, only if you are at a safe distance from the creature:

Looking to ID a bird in the yard? Upload a pic or a recording of its birdsong, and these apps will give you the info:

If you’re just out in nature and wanting to identify animals & plants in general, give these apps a spin:

If you use other free apps for identifying animals, please drop me a line about them. I’ll test them out and add them to this post!

Santa Tracking

This time of year, some of you want to keep tabs on the Big Guy. If anyone in your house absolutely needs to know his status, check out these Santa Tracking sites:

  • NORAD Tracks Santa – this is the classic program, started by NORAD in the 50’s. Also check this site for links to all their social media pages.
  • Google Santa Tracker – if you want something with more bells and whistles, Google has you covered. Besides a live map of Santa’s whereabouts, there’s games, music, stories and activities for your smol person to enjoy.
santa tracking

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Time Zone Converter Tools

time zone converter tools

Need to figure out what time it is in a different part of the world? Don’t strain your brain; use one of these time zone converter tools at the following websites:

Time and Date


Dateful Time Zone Converter

World Time Buddy


I find myself using these more and more, as I schedule with clients across the country and the ocean. I’d be mortified if I called someone at the wrong time, due to time zone ignorance!

Some of these sites are extra-nice, because they allow you to create a login and save your setup info. If you are frequently scheduling meetings with people in specific time zones, maybe this will help streamline your efforts.

PS: it is possible to do this sort of thing in the World Time section of the Clock app of your Windows or Mac computer. But check them all out and you may find that one works better for you. Each of these time zone converter tools has a certain look and customization level. Bookmark or shortcut your favorite for easy reuse! helps you find places that don’t charge to use their automobile air pump. gives you a map of locations near you (or a specific address or zip code) where you can fill your tires for free.

This site is powered by user-submitted info. If you know of a store offering free use of an air pump, but it doesn’t show on the FreeAirPump map, make sure to send it in!

The Google Dictionary Browser Extension

The Google Dictionary browser extension makes it easier than ever to learn word definitions. Once you’ve installed this freebie, you can simply double-click any plain-text word on the internet, and immediately see its definition.

I’m sure that this tool is going to save you many clicks and help keep up your reading comprehension. No more opening a second tab, just to go to!

This extension is free to install into Google Chrome on any computer. And now that Microsoft Edge is built on Chromium, it should install in that browser, as well. Get it free here.

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