Monthly Archives: May 2012

Creative Ways to Repurpose Your Old Smart Phone

Old Smart Phone

Image Credit: denharsh

Let’s face it, we all have them. Some of us even have two, or more! I’m talking about your old cell phone – you know the one that’s hidden away in a drawer or box somewhere?

Why not put your old cell phone to good use? Here is a list of creative ways you can repurpose your old smart phone, giving your old device a new life.

Donate to Someone in Need

Donating your old cell phone, of any type, to someone in need is one of the best things you can do (outside of recycling, that is). There are many organizations that collect old cell phones of all types to help those in need, like senior citizens, women’s shelters, and even the military.

Here is a list of ways you can donate or recycle your old cell phone.

Clock / Alarm Clock

Your old phone doesn’t even need wi-fi access to be used as a clock. Simply plug it in, and prop it up on your desk or nightstand. Change your home screen to a large clock and weather widget or app of your choosing, and then update your display settings to never turn off or sleep. Your phone can easily be used as an alarm too.


Turn your old cell phone into a dedicated e-reader. There are plenty of places to get free eBooks, including your local library. Download a bunch of books, and read away. Or, use an e-reader app to purchase and download books.

MP3 Player

If your old smart phone has a sim card or other storage capacity, why not load it up with MP3’s and make it a dedicated MP3 player? You could plug it into the car, or use it while exercising, or cleaning the house.

Secondary Phone

Emergency Phone

All cell phones can dial 911, even if they aren’t activated. Keep the phone charged and then keep it in the car, just in case an emergency arises.

Travel Phone

Before traveling, have your cell phone carrier activate your phone line on your old spare. Now you don’t have to worry about anything happening to your phone on your travels, because it’s only your backup phone. When you return home have your carrier re-activate your regular phone.

Touchscreen Remote Control

There are apps that allow you to turn your old smartphone into a slick remote for your TV, cable box, stereo, Blue-Ray player, computer, media player, and other similar devices.


Use your old cell phone as a webcam or remote camera. As long as your phone has a camera and can download apps, you can use your phone to as a webcam/ remote camera to watch your dog while you’re at work, look in on your house while you’re on vacation, or use the webcam for any other reason you can dream up. Check your app store / market to see what webcam apps are available for your phone.

Got a creative use for an old smart phone? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help you have fun with your technology. Email:

The Dirty Secret About Tech Support

A Wild Question

Image Credit: f-oxymoron

There’s a secret about tech support that is rarely talked about, but which could help you greatly – that is, you only get out of it what you put in.

A technician’s job is to help you resolve your computer problems. They want to help. That’s what they are there for. But, they can only go by the information that you give them. When you are vague, are aggravated, or don’t report problems, it makes it very difficult for the tech to do their job and help you.

With tech support, communication is key. What you say and how you say it affects how the tech diagnoses your problem.

Below are a few things to help you better communicate your needs, allowing you to have more productive conversations with tech support.

Remain Calm

It’s understandable that you are frustrated. Your computer isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, and is impacting your ability to work. However, your energy affects others, and your frazzled nature could frazzle your technician as well.

That’s why it’s important to calm down and relax before you call tech support. When you are more relaxed, you are better equipped to communicate your needs, and more likely to remember more about the situation.

Before you pick up the phone and call, take three long, deep breaths. Calm and center yourself. Visualize a pleasant experience; visualize your computer working and your issue resolved.

Call once you are calm and able to clearly communicate your needs. Use the suggestions recommended below before you call to help gather the information needed for tech support.

Recall Small Details

When talking to tech support, it’s important to tell them exactly what happened. This includes everything you were doing at the time, down to the smallest detail. It may seem insignificant to you, but it could be a vital clue for your technician.

What happened? What programs were open when it happened? Did you download something before that point? Did you do something else immediately before that point? What did you do after it happened?

The more details you reveal surrounding the event, the better equipped your technician is to fix your problem. So go ahead, bother them with all the gory details.

Recap the Facts

When the problem occurred, did you get a specific message? If yes, write it down word for word when possible. Most error messages will remain on the screen until you click okay, so before you just hastily click the button, jot down the entire error message.

If the message flashes on and off the screen, try to determine what it looked like. For example, details like “the screen was blue with white writing, and then my computer rebooted” helps your tech diagnose the problem.

These are just a few ways to help your conversations with tech support be more productive. Remember, technicians want to help! That’s why they’re technicians. By remaining calm and telling them exactly what happened, you can help reduce your downtime and frustration. You may even find that calling tech support is a pleasurable experience. (We think it should be.)

Got a tip for talking to tech support? Leave us a comment!

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who wants to help you get the most out of your conversations with tech support. Email:

How to Share Your Screen for Free Using Join.Me

Multiple Monitors

Image Credit: mrceviz

Have you ever wanted to share your screen with someone who wasn’t in the room with you? When this happened, what did you do? Did you use a fancy utility, or did you just shrug it off and not share anything because you didn’t know what to do?

Next time you need to share your screen, you won’t have to worry about this situation. That’s because the makers of LogMeIn (remote desktop access software) have created a new tool –, an easy to use, free app which makes screen sharing quick and easy. is a screen sharing utility which follows the belief that sharing shouldn’t be hard. With this concept in mind, they have made their tool as simple as possible so that you can get right down to business, without having to figure out complicated software.

To begin using their app, go to and download and install the free desktop app. They also have a free mobile app for both iPhone and Android phones.

Setup the app, and then click “share” to share your screen with others.

You will be given a nine digit code to share with participants. All they have to do is go to (either the website or the app), enter the code, and they can now see your screen.

While sharing, you have the ability to pause your screens to give participants a static view. You can also talk with participants via the included chat program or through internet calling.

The free features of are quite robust, and include the ability to share control of the screen, switch between multiple monitors, send

files, and use internet calling, amongst other features.

Additionally, you can pay for the service, which gives you additional features such as unified audio, presenter swap, meeting scheduler, user management, and more.

Don’t be left in the lurch next time you need to share something important with a remote employee or viewer. Instead, turn to this handy tool to get the job done quickly and easily.

What do you use for a screen sharing solution? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who delights in helping you enjoy new technology. Email: