Technology

Privacy.com Review – Unique Credit Card Numbers for Online Shopping

Online shopping is everywhere but safe online shopping isn’t. In one year, I replaced nearly every credit or debit card due to hacking.

Even the most cautious internet shopper is defenseless when hackers steal information from websites that store your payment information.

What if there was a way to have a unique credit card number for every website you used? Then, if (read: when) you get hacked, you only need to shut down that card number. You wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of contacting your bank and getting a new credit card, followed by the pain of re-entering your payment on every single site online.

Enter an online shopper’s best friend: Privacy.com.

privacy.com review website screenshot

Privacy connects to your checking account and allows you, via a website or app, to create unique credit card numbers for each merchant you use. You can set cards for recurring or one-time use and you can attach weekly, monthly, yearly or per charge dollar limits to them as well. Setting limits can keep you from breaking your Amazon.com budget. It also prevents companies from jacking up the price of your subscription without you noticing. (I’m looking at you, cable companies / internet providers). You can only use each card with one merchant. Privacy locks cards to one store or website to keep someone from using your card somewhere else.

When to Use Privacy

Maybe this sounds neat but you’re not quite sure how you’d use it. Let me share a few of my favorite use cases.

  • Websites I’ve never used before and inherently don’t trust. Using Privacy significantly lowers my risk, especially if I use a one-time use burner card that can only be charged a single time.
  • Websites that make it difficult to cancel your subscription. I’m looking at you Beachbody.com. Let it be known that your ridiculous “phone-in-72-hours-before-your-plan-expires” policy to cancel an online video subscription is anathema. You’re the worst.
  • Places where I have to give my number over the phone. If you are calling a florist or spa to buy a gift for someone and have to give out a credit card number over the phone. No worries that the flower lady will do something suspicious with your card. (No offense, flower lady).
  • Websites with trial subscriptions I might forget to cancel. Hi, Spotify!

Recently we ordered a stroller adapter online and later got a notification that it was on backorder. In the meantime, I found the adapter somewhere else and ordered it so that it would arrive sooner. The original website wouldn’t let me login to cancel the order (!), so I just shutdown the Privacy card for that account. I got an email that my payment didn’t process and just ignored it. I knew Privacy had my back.

Other Great Features

I really appreciate being able to create a burner card for one-time use. If you know you’re only going to use a card one time (like in the florist example above), you can set the card as a burner. With a burner card, once a single payment is processed, another transaction can’t go through. This is the best option for websites you don’t trust and probably won’t order from again.

You can also pause cards without canceling them, in case you want to save a merchant to use for later, but don’t want any fishy charges potentially showing up in the meantime. You can set Privacy to alert you when a transaction is attempted. That way you’re always on top of what’s happening with your card.

There are credit card companies like Final that are doing the same thing, but then you need to sign up for a new credit card, and Final has foreign transaction fees. If you’re addicted to getting points with your credit card purchases, Privacy will likely disappoint you since it’s linked to your checking account and there isn’t a rewards program.

I don’t use Privacy for every website or merchant, but I love using it for subscriptions, giving a card number over the phone, and on websites I probably won’t order from again. Power to the consumer, baby.

You can search your cards to find the one you need to shutdown via the handy iOS app or on the website.

Click this link and you get $5 just for signing up (and I do too). Not a bad deal to keep your bank accounts safe online.

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Technology

Goodreads: My New Favorite Social Network

I didn’t think I needed another medium to connect with my online “friends.” Between life updates on Facebook, pithy posts on Twitter and too-good-to-be-unfiltered pictures on Instagram, I see and share more than enough of life online.

But! Even with all of these social networks, I’ve come across a new-to-me service1Goodreads is over 10 years old that’s quickly become my favorite: Goodreads.

At its core, Goodreads is an app to manage books you’ve read, are reading, or hope to read. The premise of Goodreads is personal reading management with a twist–you can see what your friends are reading too.

Goodreads encourages you to rate what you’ve read on a five-star scale, and after you rate 20 books, it starts suggesting other books in similar genres that you may enjoy.

It’s highly integrated with Amazon reviews and syncs with your Kindle highlights too, thanks to its acquisition by our favorite online retailer in 2013.

A Simple System for Sorting (and Discovering) Books

I don’t care what all of the popular books are on Amazon, but I am curious to see the most popular books among my friends. Most of us are far more likely to watch a movie, buy a product, or try a new restaurant because of a personal recommendation rather than just pursuing what’s popular for the masses. That’s what makes Goodreads fantastic–I can see what my friends are reading, read their reviews, and even comment or message and ask questions right inside the app.

There are tons of other goodies inside of Goodreads. A few of my favorite features include:

  • Tracking start and finish dates for books you’re reading
  • Auto-updating your progress based on where you left off in Kindle books (if you want)
  • Setting a reading challenge for a calendar year and helping you track your goal
  • Following your favorite authors

Maybe these features sound interesting, but a joining another social network doesn’t seem worth it and adding all of your books is overwhelming. But you can start small and still enjoy the benefits of Goodreads.

Getting Started

My encouragement is to start by rating books you loved and those you hated. That’ll help Goodreads get a feel for other books you may enjoy and the genres you dabble in. I’d shoot for hitting 20 books so that you can start receiving automatic recommendations.

I highly encourage linking your Amazon and Facebook accounts to your Goodreads account to quickly sync books and add friends. You can add all of your Facebook friends en masse, but I don’t recommend that since lots of people have a dormant Goodreads account. 2Being friends with those people means you just see their new friendships in your feed and not book updates, which is my least favorite part of the app. On the Home tab of the app, you can see what your friends are reading or have recently rated and then tap to add those books to your lists too.

The Goodreads app is simple and makes adding books a breeze. You can scan a barcode of a physical book you’re reading or just search for it and add it to one of your three default shelves–read, currently reading, and to-read. You can add more shelves if you want, but I like the simplicity of the defaults. If you’re a particular person (that’s me, I get you), Goodreads even shows you all the different editions of a book, so the cover and page numbers match the book you’re actually reading.

The mobile app is great, but the desktop website version has additional features including:

  • Displaying how many books ahead or behind you are on your yearly reading challenge
  • Seeing your most read authors
  • Finding duplicate listings of books on your shelves
  • Comparing books read with your friends

The last feature, comparing books, is probably my favorite. To see how your reading list compares to a friends, navigate over to Goodreads.com and click on a friend. On your friend’s profile you can click compare books and see what you have both read or hope to read and compare ratings too. Goodreads will even tell you how similar your tastes are in books.

Wrapping Up

I know I’m late to this reader’s social paradise, but maybe you tried Goodreads and gave up or haven’t given it a shot yet. I think you should check it out. I’ve read more because of Goodreads, and it’s proven a whole lot more edifying than most of my time on social media.

One final suggestion: take time to write a simple review–even just a few sentences–on why you liked or disliked a book. Leaving a short review forces me to personally process what I thought about a book. I’m also more inclined to start reading a book that a friend reviewed.

You can find me on Goodreads here.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Goodreads is over 10 years old
2.Being friends with those people means you just see their new friendships in your feed and not book updates, which is my least favorite part of the app.
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Technology

My Favorite Apps on Sale for Black Friday

I love apps and I love finding a good deal. When those two things intersect, I can hardly resist.

Here’s a quick roundup of my favorite apps that are on sale for Black Friday first for iOS, then for the Mac.

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iOS

Due (an alert wizard with natural language input)

For tasks that have to be done at a certain time (putting out trash cans for weekly pick up, reminding someone of something at a certain date or time) and recurring reminders, there’s nothing better or simpler than Due.

I’ve spent a whole blog post convincing you of how amazing this app is, and with a 40% discount, it’s irresistible.

Universal app for iPhone and iPad, normally $4.99 on sale for $2.99.

Drafts (pushing anything you type wherever you want it to go)

One of my most used apps and so beloved that it resides in the dock of my iPhone. I use this app multiple times every single day, and the magic you can perform with text through this app is unreal.

I called it the point guard of my iPhone, and I can’t imagine not having this little Kyrie Irving on hand.

This isn’t a Black Friday deal, but the price has been lowered from $9.99 to $4.99 and is a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

LongScreen (the extended screenshot tool you need for iOS)

Have you ever wanted to screenshot an entire webpage but ended up snapping a dozen different photos and creating a mess on your iOS device?

LongScreen is here to save the day. It enables saving an entire webpage as a screenshot, all stitched together, panorama style.

I don’t use it often, but whenever I need it, I’m glad it’s there.

Normally $2.99, on sale for $0.99 as a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

Paprika (an amazing recipe manager)

I’m married to true kitchen maestro, and she saves all of our family favorite recipes in Paprika. If you ever cook (really, ever) and want to save recipes, this is the place where your best Pinterest finds belong. Tags, search, favoriting, rating and more comes along with this recipe manager.

We use the grocery feature daily, which syncs perfectly and quickly across devices, so when my wife adds to the list, it shows up on my phone. You can even choose a recipe and have it add whatever ingredients you’re missing to your list automagically.

I highly recommend the iPhone and iPad versions, but the Mac version is killer too 1I just don’t like ingredients finding their way into the innards of my computer in the kitchen..

iPhone version normally $4.99, on sale for $2.99, iPad version normally $4.99, on sale for $2.99 and the Mac version normally $19.99 on sale for $9.99.

PDF Expert (a PDF wrangling extraordinaire)

If you ever do anything with PDFs, you can’t go wrong with PDF Expert. You can highlight, reorder, sign, organize, sync to Dropbox and other cloud services and edit PDFs in a way iBooks simply can’t.

If you need a better way to organize and edit PDFs, this app is a lifesaver.

Universal app for iPhone and iPad, normally $9.99, on sale for $4.99.

Mac

DaisyDisk (the prettiest way to see what’s taking up your precious hard drive space)

Ever wonder what exactly is hogging all that space on your Mac? DaisyDisk is the app you’ve been searching for.

DaisyDisk scans your hard drive and tells you exactly what is sucking up space and where you need to go to remove it.

It’s beautifully designed and incredibly helpful, especially if you’ve got a tiny drive to manage.

Normally $9.99 on sale for $4.99 on the Mac App Store.

TextExpander (the fastest way to type a little and get a lot)

I’ve gushed about my love of text expanders in general in the past, and TextExpander (proper) is my favorite app of the bunch. It allows you to sync across devices and has, to date, saved me from typing over 120,000 characters and five hours of typing time. That makes my fingers very happy.

I’m not a fan of the subscription model, but you can snag 20% off a full license without subscription with the code MDM20.

TripMode (a tethering data saver)

If you ever use the hotspot on your phone to connect your computer to the internet, TripMode is absolutely clutch. It allows you to pick the apps that can connect to the internet so you’re not burning through your limited tethering data by backing up with Backblaze or syncing massive files to Dropbox.

Right now it’s 33% off with the code SAVEDATA. The $5.27 you’ll spend is nothing compared to an overpriced data charge on from your wireless provider.

Blockbuster Kit 2017

I snagged the precursor to this kit in 2016, and I can’t recommend these four apps highly enough. $60 is a chunk of change, but for these apps alone you’re saving $40 off of sticker price, and a few other apps are tossed in as well.

Beamer 3

If you want to stream movies from your Mac to your AppleTV, using Airplay leaves you with laggy videos and out-of-sync audio.

I don’t know how it works, but Beamer is able to send perfectly synced videos across your Apple devices.

Should an app like this be necessary? Absolutely not. But it’s a beauty when it just works.

Let’s hope and pray Apple buys this app and integrates it into future versions of macOS.

Boom 2

If the sound coming out of your Mac speakers has disappointed you, Boom is the app you need.

Boom does some voodoo magic and allows your speakers to pump out significantly more sound. Be careful, because there’s a possibility of doing damage to your speakers if you crank them too high, but for increased sound, you Boom brings the noise.

WALTR 2

If you think iTunes on your Mac is more of a bloated mess than your stomach after Thanksgiving dinner, WALTR is the solution you’re looking for.

WALTR allows you to sync songs, music, PDFs and more wirelessly to your iPhone or iPad. It works so simply it’s unbelievable. And it loads instantly, so you’re not waiting for iTunes to boot up and then tell you an update is available.

If you ever wrestled with iTunes and lost, WALTR is the teammate you want to tag in.

YouTube Converter

Want to snag a YouTube video to use during a presentation? Want to save a video for on the go (and with the wonders of WALTR sling it into your iOS device)?

YouTube Converter beats the socks off any online option out there. I’m not advocating for stealing videos, but when you need to save videos for future Internet-lacking areas, this is the tool you should turn to.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.I just don’t like ingredients finding their way into the innards of my computer in the kitchen.
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Technology

Two Simple Resources for Tracking Bible Reading

Maybe you started the year with a plan to read through the Bible. By now, maybe you’ve fallen behind or you’re contemplating giving up.

Here are a couple resources to make things just a tiny bit easier to follow through on one of the most worthwhile things you can do this year.

1 – Tracking a Reading Plan Across Your iOS Devices

Reading Plan is a free, simple app for starting a bible reading plan. You can customize:

  • the plan you’re using
  • when you started your plan
  • which app the passage will open up in on your device
  • alerts and reminders for reading

 reading plan app 
It’s not the prettiest app, but it gets the job done. 

There are hundreds of plans available to download through the application.

My favorite features are:

  • the ability to mark all days before today as read (great if you’re using the app to track a plan you already started or have been reading but forgot to mark it complete)
  • auto scrolling to the last place you left off

The syncing across iOS devices isn’t speedy, but it works. I’ve used other trackers that have lost my progress and been a pain overall, but Reading Plan has been solid.

2 – Additional Ribbons for Marking Your Physical Bible

I’ve been using the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan for the last few years. It’s a 4-chapter per day plan, and each chapter is in a different part of the Bible. I love getting to spend time in different genres and sections of the Word, but it’s a hassle to always flip around in my paper Bible.

Fortunately, I have a smart friend named Big Al who googled “how to add extra ribbons to your bible” and made me an aftermarket ribbon marker and now my Bible looks like this.

 bible with ribbons 
Here’s what you need to make your own:

  • a Bible with a binding (i. e. leather is ideal, but basically not a paperback)
  • ribbon (3 colors, assuming your bible already has 1 ribbon)
  • scotch / clear tape
  • scissors
  • a business card or piece of cardstock paper
  • bonus: a lighter if you’re into fire
  1. Measure your ribbons against your Bible and make them at least 6 inches longer.
  2. Cut the business card to be about 2 inches tall and 1 inch wide.
  3. Tape the ribbons close together / overlapping and side by side, using about an inch worth of tape vertically for extra hold.
  4. Open your Bible and insert the card with ribbons in between the pages and the outer binding, at the spine of the book. You may need to trim your card to get it to fit. You’ll want it to be just smaller than the gap so it doesn’t slide too much.
  5. Stuff the card into that gap, pushing it down at least an inch or two
  6. Cut ribbons to length
  7. Use a lighter to burn the ends of the ribbons so they don’t fray. Use a wet rag to put out the flame if you don’t want to burn your fingers (don’t use the wet rag if you do want to burn your fingers). 

    Here’s a shot of the card sliding into the binding.

      
    Anything I can do to reduce the friction of actually opening up my Bible is worth that effort.

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    Technology

    The Simplest Way to Create a Graphic With Text Overlay on iOS

    At some point, nearly everyone needs to make a graphic. There are countless tools for adding text to an image. Photoshop and Pixelmator give you tons of options and range in difficulty of use, but for an on-the-go, simple app, Typorama is unbeatable.

    typorama logo

    In fact, I own multiple design programs but often reach for Typorama because it’s so fast and simple. It creates images as good or better than what I would on a computer in less time.

    When you open the app, you’re brought to the main screen which prompts you to choose a background and displays free-to-use images (using Pixabay as a database) along with a search bar. You can peruse the near-endless list of images by scrolling down, or you can search for an image type of your choice.

    typorama main screen

    If you aren’t looking for a specific image to put your text over, scrolling is a great start. These images seem to be curated based on the quality and popularity.

    You can also import your own images and slap some text on it.

    Here’s what I love about that app that sets it apart from others:

    • free-to-use, integrated image search
    • custom options for sizes optimized for Instagram, Facebook, iPhone wallpapers, and more
    • 30+ included text / font styles for overlaying on your image
    • fine tuning tools for image adjustments–filters, overlays, color enhancements and every color you’d hope for with a color picker for text
    • Text tools to easily 3D rotate the text to have it align with an object in the photo to create a multi-dimensioned look
    • An eraser feature to make it look like the text is behind a portion of the image

    Here’s an example of one of my favorite uses of Typorama, utilizing the eraser tool for added depth.

    berries

    Check out their Instagram feed to see the magic people are creating with Typorama.

    What makes Typorama special is that it’s simple, speedy, and makes a person without design skills look like a pro.

    With font options like Cutesy, the app doesn’t exactly scream masculinity, but there are plenty of options for whatever style of image you want to create.

    I sometimes use Typorama in conjunction with another design program. I’ll create the text overlay using the transparent option (the first option when you open the app), save it, and email it to myself to do more design work on my computer.

    My biggest gripe is that there isn’t a way to save images and go back and edit the text style later. Once you leave the image you’re working on to go to another, you can’t go back and tweak the text–you’re stuck recreating from scratch.

    A quick tip: each font or text style has multiple options for how it will display, so each time you click on the same font, you’ll get a slightly different design style.

    I’d love to be able to fine tune the styles more, but simplicity beats customization here.

    I most commonly use the app to create lock screens with verses on it. My wife designed the first image and the second I slapped together in less than a minute.
    vereses

    The app is free but displays a Typorama watermark without an in-app purchase of $2.99. That in-app purchase unlocks all text styles and the watermark designer.

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