An Apple A Day Keeps The Journalist At Bay

What does it take to be a successful college student? Balancing school, extracurricular activities and a social life can be one of the most demanding thing you face in your everyday life.

You may say that “Oh I do it fine! I have it all down! I may have a B- average on the brink of breaking into the C’s but psh! I got it down!” OR you may say that “With grad schools and my double majors, who has time for socializing.” OR my absolute favorite, “Forget school, I’m here to party! *GULP* *GULP*.”

For my three years in Fredonia, I have met a wide range of people, each with their own different ways of going about daily life.

My own way, for example, is controlling the amount of time I “goof off” to the amount of work I actually accomplish. First and foremost, work is top priority. I thank the world everyday for the advances that technology gives us the opportunity to get work done almost anywhere.

Working on homework is easy when computers aren’t the size of most science textbooks, weighing 7-8 pounds and contributing to back problems later on in life. My Macbook Air is slim, light and powerful. Great things come in small packages right? Well if we are talking about this computer, then you couldn’t be more right.

The great thing about all Apple products, is their connection between any and all of them. For example, I need one textbook. Out of all my classes, only one requires a physical textbook. Rather than pay for a $70 physical copy, I opted for a $40 digital copy that I could use on my iPad. My question after I got it…”Why have I not done this sooner?

Immediately, I noticed the benefits. No more squeezing things into my backpack, over packing and then lugging an insanely heavy backpack around campus. Now, I am able to use my Under Armour Fredonia sack pack, with my computer and my iPad on it.

Another great benefit, thanks to the Apple products being so connected, I can start a chapter on my iPad, move to my Macbook and then if I head to class I can read it on my iPhone. Basically, Apple is doing something right!

I love how I can just seamlessly move from one device to another. When I had my PC, Google Chrome somewhat integrated the moving of devices, I could look at certain sites on my computer, and then when I have to go somewhere I would just open Chrome on my phone and Poof! those sites were open and at the same spot I was at. Subtract my PC, introduce my Mac and things get even easier. I can type notes on any device, and have it right there if I need to reference anything.

It’s really something like an Iron Man movie. Starting with something, finishing on another, The technology is here, it’s constantly getting tweaked and updated. I’m even upset I didn’t switch sooner, or even bought a mac as my first computer.

I get it, people have their opinion and I respect it entirely. As a journalist, you should do what works for you, whatever makes writing or broadcasting just a tad easier, I urge you to do what is simple and comfortable. Otherwise, you may be slamming jack and cokes instead of coffee.

Macbook and iPhone or PC and Android, do what suits you best.



Music Makes The Whole World Go ‘Round….Right?

Typically, when walking around campus, the majority of students who don’t walk to class with anyone, have headphones in, playing some sort of music that they like, or just running Spotify or Pandora,  going with whatever pops up and letting the music flow.

My preference? I like my personal playlists.ipod

I love Pandora and Spotify. Spotify is a great streaming service to listen to almost anything that exists out there in today’s music world and Pandora has the ease and accessibility of radio right in our smartphones, computers or tablets. But something about making my own playlist, of my music that I chose to play a specific reason, just makes getting through the day just a bit easier. Shutting out my walk from class to my office, or back to my dorm, is just a routine “recharge” for my daily life.

Everybody is different, I get that. So here is what I choose to lead my playlist, feel free to copy it, alter it, ignore it or do whatever it is you want with it.

First I start with something very lively and upbeat, something to shake the cobwebs off each morning and get the pistons firing. This week I actually changed it up a bit (FYI: the music I listen to does swear and is very aggressive, so listeners BEWARE).

Starting it off, I am a huge fan of MGK (Machine Gun Kelly), so I kick start my morning with a little bit of Warning Shot (feat. Cassie), Pe$o (feat Pusha T and Meek Mills) and Invincible (feat. Ester Dean). But that is just starting out.

I like having a mix between rap/hip-hop and then some rock thrown in to break it up.

Never Let Me Down by Kanye West followed by Ten Thousand Fists by Disturbed has definitely woken me out of sleep. The soft beats with lyrical flow and the slam poetry at the end is contrasted by the heavy drums and energy from David Draiman (lead singer of Disturbed). These are only a few songs on my morning playlist.

To me, anything thats lively is a great choice.

I consider music and playlists a form of life hacking because music has been proven to increase the workflow of some people, others may not be able to work to music in the background, but if you aren’t one of those people, this might be the post for you.

Why do I consider music a lifehack? It’s not a physical hack, but instead a mental one. I find it that my work, not only decreases in the amount of time something takes, but also the quality. Personally, I use music as inspiration, on homework, chores or just daily life. When I’m in the car, my radio is on, playing whatever shuffle brings up or a selected playlist that makes me feel alive and upbeat. Isn’t that what a lifehack is? Something designed or thought of to make daily life just a tad easier? That’s why music is a perfect lifehack.

How To Hack 101

Just what is a life hack? Basically they are little tips and tricks using everyday items.

Some of my favorites include:

sponge ice shirts paper clips

Who would have thought that some of these items, could in turn be used as something else.

Drawing from personal experiences, I have used all of these, some more than others. I used to use the clips to organize the cables off of the side of my desk, never thinking it would in fact work at all, to my surprise, it helped….A LOT.

Working in a summer day camp, kids would fall and scrap their knees, or get hit with something, instead of forking over tons and tons of money to buy ice packs, I discovered the great use of sponges as ice packs. Both the sponges and plastic bags are cheap, throw some water on them, put them into the freezer, and BOOM! you have a inexpensive ice pack that does the trick!

Also, living in a college dorm, space is a limited thing. To do so, you have to condense and consolidate as much of your space as possible to be comfortable. Hence why the drawer organization life hack was crucial. Simply put, instead of folding your clothes and stacking them on top of each other, fold them into a square, fold that square in half and stack the clothes vertically. It works great because it cuts space and it also shows more of what is in your drawers, cutting down on having to tear through your dresser to find something. A two-in-one hack if you want to call it that.

pants button

This one is a particularly special one because it comes with a funny story. Getting ready to head out with some friends along with my girlfriend, she put on a pair of pants, but the zipper would not stay up. She was upset due to it being pants that she liked. In her dismay, I had a plan.

I reached for my keys. The many dangling keys, key chains and rings for more served as my tool belt for such a simple “hack” to solve her dilemma. Taking an extra ring that I had hanging there, I looped it onto the hole of the zipper, pulled the zipper up and looped it around the button. Then I had her button her pants and voila! it worked. When the pants are buttoned up, the key ring is completely hidden and her pants are fixed!

So how exactly do you hack? Well it’s as simple as counting or reciting the alphabet. Everyday objects, while being great at whatever they may have to do, can also double, or maybe even triple in what they can do.

A normal binder clip like the one above, normally used to hold large stacks of paper together, I would have never guessed to clip them to a desk or table to organize and hold cables right there to be used at any moment. Never thought of it.

To hack, you just need a general mindset of tinkering with things, or a thought process of how can I make my life just a bit easier?

Maybe you already do! Do you have any little tips and tricks that serve multiple purposes, even when you never thought of how crazy it is?

Confessions Of A Coffee Junkie

So every morning, I go through a ritual.

I have my first alarm go off 5-10 minutes before I plan to get out of bed. Just so I am awake, coherent or not is a completely different story, and I can at least bum around for a bit, lay around, scroll through Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, and get my morning coffee. This is of course right before I set off to start another day.beans1

First things first, how do I get my morning started? The short answer, rough.

Depending on how I sleep, my morning ritual can vary slightly. If I slept awkwardly, sometimes a quick cup of coffee s almost mandatory to kick me up from a drowsy stumble. Scratch that, completely mandatory. being a journalist, being a coffee junkie kind of goes hand in hand. Long story short, I get my fair share of coffee throughout the day and night.

Enter, Keurig.

Probably one of the best gifts I have received in a long time, because it has the most practicality and usefulness on cold winter mornings that grace the campus of SUNY Fredonia. Let me be honest, if my Keurig was a person, I would instantly be charge with assault, simply because of me constantly running it day and night. The simple concept of a K-cup makes my life incredibly easier, in my dorm room B.K. (Before Keurig) I would go through all of the motions of a normal coffee pot; Open, remove, and place the filters in the top part of the brewer, open and scoop coffee into the filter, fill with water, and press brew.

After waiting the normal 10-15 minutes, my sluggishness and impatience has slowly grown into a larger ball of stress, not a good start to the day. Luckily, if time was too short to make coffee, but long enough to take a walk to the godsend that I call Tim Horton’s, then Timmy Ho’s was sure to be visited on my walk to class. I know, my coffee pot has an auto brew, but that still never helped considering I just had to repeat the steps, but instead of pressing the brew button then, I fumbled through the options, constantly confusing myself as I dragged myself into bed after a long day.

Many times have I done something wrong, and that has either made coffee at 3 A.M. or it just simply doesn’t brew. When I come home from classes at 7 or 8 at night, my coffee pot is at full brew, great that I have coffee to support my late-night homework runs, or trying to meet a deadline on the numerous different sites/paper I work on, but I still needed it for the morning, and that’s why I finally needed the Keurig.

Ever hear someone come into work or some other place, looking like their morning has been rough? Only to hear them say, “I haven’t had my coffee yet this morning.” That’s me, in a nutshell.

keurigWhen I received my Keurig, it changed my life. Stupid I know, but honestly, this thing has been a life saver in disguise. No longer do I fumble with the filters, grounds, trying to set a time to brew and still have it not work. Instead I pour water into the top, pop in a K-Cup and press brew. In two minutes, I have piping hot coffee to shake me out of a deep sleep. Am I advertising for them? Sure. But I’m not saying go out and drop 200-300 dollars on a large scale one, mines the compact type that still works wonders and I have not had a single issue with. Minus the fact that it is so easy to make a great cup of a coffee, I find myself blowing through 4-5 cups in one sitting…and I do A LOT of sitting.

What is my ritual now? Before I go to bed I pour the water into my Keurig, load the cup, and leave the case open. I now get up an hour before class/work, turn on the machine, close the case, press brew and head off to shower. After a 5-10 minute shower (depending on if I take a small nap standing up), I have a cup already brewed and sitting there. I put on my headphones, place my phone in my pocket, and get ready for the day.

That’s why I decided upon this blog, designed to help bring to light the things that make my life just a bit easier. Everyone is looking to just make their lives a bit easier, whether it’s life hacks, appliances/tech that make something easier/smoother or even routine, or just some helpful hints to living a life even better than you could have imagined. Before something as simple as my Keurig and iPhone, getting through the day was a bit of  a struggle. So keep coming back, I’ll be witty, funny, and I might just be able to teach you a thing or two.