Tech For Independence Day
Published July 1, 2020
Updated July 4, 2020

By: William Sikkens
Host, User Friendly 2.0 Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

This week we celebrate Independence Day.  While this year will be different for many of us, there are still many ways to celebrate.  Even if you can’t get out to the big fireworks display (many are cancelled this year), there are still many things you can do.   And there is technology to help.  These are some suggestions from GeekWire.

If you are watching fireworks, even from home, it’s fun to take pictures.

Instead of a Facebook or Instagram page of grainy fireworks, here are a few tips to set you apart from your friends.

(1) Turn off the flash
(2) Stabilize your camera with a stand or by resting your arms on a steady surface.
(3) Don’t zoom or change the camera’s exposure.
(4) If your phone or camera has a burst mode set it to capture 10 photos per second.

It’s Independence Day – Snap a Patriotic Pose. 

Services like Snapchat have a number of filters to give you a patriotic background or frame.  If you want a challenge create your own.  Don’t forget, it’s a good idea to back up your pictures.  Perhaps an online service will suit your needs.  You know, just in case something should happen to your phone.

If you run out of party favors, fret not with Drizly.

You never know if you’re going to have enough supplies.  Just in case you should run out, you may not be able to run out for more.   Drizly is an app where you can have beer, wine, and other types of liquor delivered from a nearby store right to your doorstep.  Who wants to leave the party anyway?!  All the best goodies may be gone by the time you come back.

Need help cooking or with the BBQ?  Look to Yummly, Tasty, and Forks Over Knives.

With more than a million smartphone apps there really is “an app for that”.  Both Android and Apple’s app stores offer a number of cooking apps.  Yummly and Tasty, both free, offer “how to”s on cooking.  If you’re ready to step up to a paid app, Forks Over Knives can be yours for $5 and takes cooking to the next level.

If you are driving, then beat the traffic with Waze.

Most modern cars and phones have navigation with traffic alerts but Waze still ranks as one of the best.   Using this app will allow you to route around traffic jams and busy places.   This app is quick and easy to use and will give you a shortcut to get from point A to point B.

Use Nextdoor to find out what’s going on around you.

If you can safely join a crowd this year, Nextdoor is a great app to find out what’s going on locally.  Nextdoor allows you to sign up and get what’s relevant in your neighborhood.  Many businesses post specials through social media, and it’s a great place to find out what people nearby are doing.  You can also give your neighbors a “heads up” if you are planning a noisy get together.

Lyft and Uber are there if you are wobbly.

And remember if you have a few too many, there are many safe ways you can get home.  Remember to stay safe this holiday and get a ride if you need one.   The inconvenience of getting your car on the 5th of July from your friends house is nothing compared to that of having to be bailed out of jail on Monday due to a DUI.

Don’t forget your pets with PawBoost and Finding Rover.

Currently, there are no apps to help your pets deal with the fun noisy chaos of the Fourth of July, but you can make sure they are  less likely to have a bad evening.  Make sure your pets have a quiet safe place inside your home to shelter out the excitement.  If your pets are normally outdoor animals, then put them in a bathroom with food, water, toys, pet blankets so that those little accidents are easier to clean up.  Maybe even put soothing music on for them from one of the many music apps like Pandora.

If you do find a pet wondering about trying to find their parents or if you have lost a pet, apps like PawBoost can help.  Online resources from the ASPCA and your local Humane Society are also places to be able to find your missing family member.

Finding Rover brings facial recognition technology to lost pets.  This app has been successful in matching photos and videos of pets and can scan a growing database of over a million of our furry friends.

From the entire team at User Friendly Media Group have a safe and fun 4th Of July!

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

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Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw or @1userfriendly