Posts from the ‘Blog’ category

App Review: Felt

Review date: June 18, 2020

This app makes it possible to send #IRL cards (and some gifts) via snail mail, using your phone. 🙌

Apple App Store Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.8)*
Created by: Felt, LLC
Available on: iOS, and Android
Price: Price varies $4 to $7 per card; subscription-based pricing also available

screenshot of felt app

Img. source: Apple App Store


Official description: “Felt is the highest quality, most personal way to send real, handwritten cards and photos to friends and loved ones. Your handwriting is 100% authentic, like you wrote it with pen and paper. It’s personal mail for the modern world: beautiful, fun and couldn’t be simpler.”

I love receiving cards in the mail. Maybe it’s because a lot of my friends are artists; or, because I grew up in the days of dial-up internet and in the summers, my friends and I would write long letters to each other. Plus, there are times when real- or snail-mail is the only suitable option. It appears that mail has been making a strong comeback in the past few months. Now, most of us equate email with work or bills; 10–15 years ago, it was the opposite.

Felt is an app that enables you to send actual cards, personalized with your own handwriting, through the mail. I think this app is a perfect pairing of the analog and digital worlds. You can add in things like confetti,  actual cash (“just like grandma used to”), candy, and other small gifts.

My Review

Overall, I find the app straightforward, easy to use, and convenient. The quality of the cards is nice, too. The types of cards on there are the style of graphics I usually prefer anyway, so bonus points for that; there are options for mutli-panel cards.

Below, you’ll find a video overview/demo of how I typically use the app. For test purposes, I made up addresses. (Pardon the quality of graphics at certain points, this was my first time using Premiere Rush on iOS).

Queen of Apps – App Review – Felt from Gloria Shin on Vimeo.

*At the time of writing.

Have you tried this app? What did you like or dislike about it? Comment below and consider sharing this post with a friend.

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My Ultimate WFH Setup

Ideal home workstation setup for a creative professional

Well, “ultimate” is a matter of opinion, I guess. But, after spending a year working from the living room couch and having a sore neck and back, I knew I needed to up my game; I’ve found that this setup works well for me. My personal recommendations, details, and links can be found below. I hope that some of these suggestions will help improve your current COVID-19-work-from-home-life!

My current setup:

Gloria's Home Office Setup - Workstation - Numbered Chart

Click on image to enlarge ⬈

Photo color key:

  • Orange dots: Recommended (but not required) gear to protect the company laptop from dings, scratches, smudges, crumbs in the keyboard, etc.
  • Blue/cyan: Just for fun
  • Purple: Critical items
  • Green: Ergonomic items

List of gear with links:

All links are from Amazon unless noted otherwise.

  1. MacBook Pro 15 Case ⬈
    An easy snap-on hardshell case to protect your precious MacBook. I think this is essential particularly for company-provided laptops. (Plus, it’s pretty!) Make sure to get the right size for your laptop, though. It comes with a keyboard cover/protector as well, but I prefer to use #2 (below).
  2. UPPERCASE GhostCover Premium Ultra Thin Keyboard Protector ⬈
    An easy-to-install and -use keyboard cover for your MacBook. It helps keep the keyboard area dust- and crumb-free.
  3. UPPERCASE Premium Palm Rest Protector Skin Cover Set for MacBook Pro ⬈
    Protect your MacBook Pro against abrasion (jewelry, watch, etc.), dirt, grime, grease, and sweat.”
  4. Nulaxy Ergonomic Laptop Stand ⬈
    This handy stand brings up your laptop to eye-level, so you’re not hunching over Quasimoto-style. When I use my laptop on its own, it helps me from said-hunching; when I use my laptop as a second monitor, it brings up the screen to the same level as my main external monitor. (Side note: Check out the Mayo Clinic’s “Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide”).
  5. Darice Large Jar Warmer
    Keeps your coffee or tea warm, effectively and cheaply. (If you want a more expensive and high-tech version, check out Ember. To each their own, but I can’t bring myself to pay over $100 for a coffee warmer.)
  6. External Display
    This is an absolute essential, especially for creatives. In general, if you have a MacBook, it plays best with Mac displays. But, if you have the right cables and adapters, you can usually connect a non-Mac display. In the past, I’ve successfully used HP and Dell displays. Currently, to save on costs, I’ve been using my old iMac as my external display, but here are a couple of highly-recommended options for your external display.

  7. Adapter(s)
    Depending on your laptop and external display, you will need the right adapter(s). Apple’s support page suggests that you “check the ports on your Mac to find out whether you need an adapter.”
  8. USB C Hub, 9-in-1 USB C Adapter ⬈
    There is a running joke that “Apple is now officially a dongle company that happens to make smartphones and computers.” On their newer MacBooks (post-2015), you won’t find a USB port. You’ll need a dongle. Or maybe two or three. Save yourself the headache and get one of these all-in-ones.
  9. MAD GIGA Monitor Stand Riser, Computer Monitor Stand with Adjustable Width and Storage Organizer Drawer ⬈
    This monitor stand brings your external display to eye-level and frees up some desk space. Plus, it has storage and the height is adjustable.
  10. Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad (Apple) ⬈
    You can use any compatible keyboard, but this is the one I prefer. A brand-new version will cost you about $100, but you can find an older model and/or used for cheaper. (I have an older generation wired-USB version). I haven’t tried Logictech’s version of the Magic Keyboard, but it may be worth checking out.
  11. Kensington Wrist Pillow Foam Rest (Staples) ⬈
    It is recommended that “your keyboard set-up should let you work with your wrists in a relaxed, straight, neutral position.” Having a wrist pillow/rest, like this one, helps.
  12. A Focused Task Light/Desk Lamp
    Having the right lighting is so important, as it helps mitigate the blue light strain on your eyes. The one I have pictured is an old IKEA halogen lamp that has lasted years, but halogen has given way to more energy-efficient LEDs.

  13. Magic Mouse 2 (Apple) ⬈
    The second generation is a much-improved version of the first. This generation features longer battery life and you no longer need to have a stockpile of AA batteries.
  14. Mousepad ( ⬈
    Most modern mice use optical technology and can benefit from having a mousepad, which helps move things smoothly along. Channel your 1990s-self, listen to that dial-up tone, and get yourself a mousepad that represents your mood or style.
  15. IMAK Cushion Ergobeads Wrist Rest (Staples) ⬈
    If your mousepad doesn’t come with a wrist-rest built-in, you should get one to prevent wrist strain.

Have you tried any of these products? What are your best tips? Comment below and consider sharing this post with a friend.

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App Review: A Soft Murmur

Review date: April 7, 2020

This app provides the perfect blend of ambient noise, which helps me stay focused and sane while working from home.

Apple App Store Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5)*
Created by: Gabriel Brady
Available on: Desktop (at, iOS, and Android
Price: Free (But Offers In-App Purchases)

Screenshot of

Image source:


Official description: “Find the perfect mix of background noise to help you relax, study, work or sleep. A Soft Murmur is the ideal productivity app to help you wash away distractions.”

I am lucky to have a job that allows me to work from home regularly a few times a week (i.e., before COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders). The biggest plus is that I don’t have to spend time and money commuting the 30 miles or so downtown. (At heart, I’m a city gal, but due to various reasons, I currently live in a Washington, D.C. exurb). Overall, I’ve found that I really enjoy the 50/50 mix of working from home and going into the office. But, there are some days where my home office or living room gets a little too quiet, and I seek the refuge of working from a coworking space or coffee shop. (As an “extroverted-introvert”, I love being around people, but not necessarily having to interact with them). In particular, I find that the coffee shop’s ambient/background noise helps me focus.

But in our current situation, of course, all the coffee shops or coworking spaces are closed. So I’ve found the next best thing — making my home office sound and smell like a coffee shop! (If you haven’t figured out already, I’m a bonafide coffee addict and coffee snob, and kind of obsessed with local/non-Starbucks coffee shops).

My Review

On A Soft Murmur, you can create your own custom mix of sounds. I particularly like the “Coffee Shop” and “White Noise” options for when I’m working. Also using A Soft Murmur helps provide a small layer of privacy through my thin walls, as it helps muffle conference calls. The app itself is very easy-to-use and straightforward. On an iPhone, a nice plus is that it saves the sounds locally.

A Soft Murmur’s Privacy Score

The terms of service screens are long and difficult to read; often, we just click “OK” and hope for the best. Unfortunately, these days, that’s not the wisest choice. Luckily, the experts at have done the work for us by analyzing and assigning each app a “privacy grade.”

PrivacyScore Screenshot

Image source: gave A Soft Murmur an “A” rating.

Check out A Soft Murmur on their website or in your device’s app store.

*At the time of writing.

Have you tried this app? What did you like or dislike about it? Comment below and consider sharing this post with a friend.

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Welcome to My New Tech Blog, “The Queen of Apps”

Queen of Apps Blog Banner

Hi everyone!

I’m delving back into the blogosphere with this new blog. Before sites like Medium came around, for years, I had a Tumblr blog called “Learn.Think.Act.”, which was focused on political and social issues, activism, and frankly, my unfiltered political opinions of a given moment. (By the way, do you remember Tumblr? It seems to have started to go down the path of Live Journal.) But, now there’s Twitter for that (i.e., endless political rantings and musings); microblogs seem to have lost their relevance.

Getting to the Point

From now on, I’ll be shifting gears from writing about politics to one of my first loves, tech. Specifically, I’ll be writing about and reviewing apps and how they can help improve people’s lives. (I think we take for granted that little supercomputer in our pockets called smartphones!)

About the Name

My husband, jokingly, always calls me the “queen of apps” because I am constantly and almost-obsessively trying out new apps to #lifehack my life.

So, again, welcome and stay tuned.

Thank you,

App Review: LastPass

Review date: April 2, 2020

LastPass provides an easy way for you to create, maintain and use secure passwords.

Apple App Store Rating: ⭐ (4.6)*
Founded by Joe Siegrist in 2008; acquired by LogMeIn in 2015.
Available on: Desktop (as browser extensions for all major browsers, including Chrome and Firefox), iOS, and Android
Price: Free (But Offers In-App Purchases)

Image source:


We are now living in a brave new work-from-home world. Although necessary and convenient, working from home has inherent risks.

One of the most fundamental and important parts of minimizing your cyber risk is passwords. We all know that we should use strong, complex, and unique passwords for every website we visit and that we should change those passwords more often than we do. But, our memories can only take so much. So what ends up happening? We end up using the same passwords across multiple websites. The solution? Password managers like LastPass.

“LastPass is a freemium password manager that stores encrypted passwords online. The standard version of LastPass comes with a web interface, but also includes plugins for various web browsers and apps for many smartphones. It also includes support for bookmarklets” (Wikipedia).

My Review

I have been a LastPass user since 2013. (I’d like to think of myself as an early adopter; I started using LastPass long before password managers became the norm). I like that it’s easy-to-use across all my devices, utilizes two-factor authentication, and does its main job as a password manager very well. Another plus is that in the most recent versions, it seamlessly integrates with iOS, so I don’t have to open the LastPass app separately when I’m in Safari or Chrome on my phone to look up my password for a particular website.

The most common concern I hear from others is that they don’t feel safe using LastPass (or another password manager), because what if they get hacked? Then the hacker will have all my passwords! I understand where this is coming from, but the benefits outweigh the risk.

Beyond creating unique passwords, LastPass is set up in a way that is very secure. In its history, LastPass has only had one major security incident in 2015; in that case, their systems worked as designed. In 2019, there was an incident (most likely related to browser extensions) where certain users were put at risk, but this bug was quickly patched.

Around the time of the 2019 incident, ethical hacker John Opdenakker was quoted in Forbes, “Although password managers like any other software have flaws, the benefits of using one far outweigh the risks. It’s far more likely that your accounts will get compromised by attacks that exploit poor passwords, such as through credential reuse, than by attacks against password managers themselves.”

LastPass’ Privacy Score

PrivacyScore Screenshot

Image source:

Often the “terms of service” pages are long and difficult to read; often, we just click “OK” and hope for the best. Unfortunately, these days, that’s not the wisest choice. Luckily, the experts at have done the work for us by analyzing and assigning each app a “privacy grade.” gave LastPass an “A” rating.

Check out LastPass on their website or in your device’s app store.

*At the time of writing.

Have you tried this app? What did you like or dislike about it? Comment below and consider sharing this post with a friend.

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