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Welcome! My health problems add craziness to my life. Here I post ideas I've tried, also questions I'm still asking. I have an electrolyte disorder. So I have crazy neuro stuff like complicated migraines, alkalosis, loosing my speech and paralysis. (including legs and hands) Little by little, foods had to go, they affected my brain and immune system. So I avoid like the plague: soy, dairy, gluten, nightshades, and try to avoid refined sugar. My body requires pink salt and electrolytes. I now use a speedy red wheelchair that I love. I've craved a simpler life, but how do you do that with crazy health stuff? I've already had a fire and flood, so I really don't value possessions. I value people and experiences. I am not compensated for any posts, just my opinions.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Audio emails, when typing is hard

I love emailing with people. I get lots of emails asking about family history things, answering questions I posted on message boards, commenting on things in my tree or blogs. I want to thank people. I want to answer their questions. I want to keep in touch...but my hands and eyes often don't work very well. Sometimes these episodes last a week or two. Often my eyes can't handle looking at electronics for more than a few minutes then I need a long break from it. I have special filters and coatings on my glasses. If my answer took a bit of thought, it often took a month to send, then I'm apologizing too. Taking so long REALLY bothers me, (and stresses me out) that I can't keep up. Its something I want to do. My Google dashboard shows I average 800-900 emails per month. That's a big crazy number to keep up with! This has been my challenge and dilemma for awhile.

I subscribe to a few simplicity and minimalism blogs. I have lots of pictures and art on my colorful walls, because they make me happy and relaxed. Most of my art was done by my father in law. My pictures are often old family pictures it was hard to find, and they tell a story. Minimalism isn't about an almost empty house or deprivation. It's about getting rid of what you don't need, so you can have time for what is important to you. So that looks and feels different to everyone. Different phases in life need different things. Thinking about how I spend my time feels important to me, because I take longer to do things being handicapped, so I want my time spent on worthwhile things. I've had a lot of trouble with emails, and wish I didn't.

Then I saw a post in October that really helped me from the site "No Sidebar". http://nosidebar.com/simplifying-digital-life/ They talked about trying audio files for email replies. Just that week, my brother sent me an audio reply in a message on Facebook. I loved it, because he lives halfway across the country, I don't see him much, and it was really great to hear his voice. I decided to start experimenting. I've been asked by people I tested this with to share specifics on what I did and used:

First I just looked to see what I already had.  I use a Logitech headset for Skype calls. So I just started using that for recordings. It costed me about 30$ five years ago. Here's the one I use, on Amazon: (The Logitech headset I use) I use Windows 7, and there was a microphone in my program files. I just clicked on the microphone icon (using my headset) and it started recording. I saved files to the desk top, then attached them to emails, as if I was attaching a picture or document. I asked my friends to give feedback and tell me if it worked. First 6 people said it worked great and they loved hearing my voice. Then I got 3 replies saying it didn't work. Turns out the ones it didn't work had Apple things. I went to check the file types and realized then that the files I made were WMA files, meaning "Windows Media Files." Oops!

The next plan was to try to make MP3 files. I tested various programs. I found a free program that I like and regularly use now. It is called Apowersoft (Apowersoft program here) I sent it to Windows, iPhone, and Android users. Everyone I tested told me my files were working. I got my emails all caught up in 2 days! The Facebook recorder I believe is 60 seconds limit. You can do multiple audio files there if you want to talk more than 60 seconds. The Apowersoft doesn't limit like that. But too long a recording will be too big for email. I also am a huge fan of Evernote and love that you can do audio clips, pictures, etc all in one note. Then tag it, share it and always find it easily. I use a Motorola Android phone. I love that I can hold my phone with my Gmail open and speak into it while looking at my computer. So I read emails on my computer and answer them into my phone. The speech to text works great. I did look at some friends' iPhones and showed them they had the same option. The microphone is located in the corner of the keyboard. That's what I had mostly done that last several months to keep up a little better. But the audio clips in email is the fastest and easiest way for me to try to keep up with emails. If typing is a challenge for you (time or physically), try experimenting with audio clips!


PS. I am not affiliated with any of these products listed. I was just looking for a solution, Googled ideas, tried them and liked them.

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