TIME

This Is the Quickest Way to Add Events to Google Calendar

You can text them to yourself using this trick

If you’ve ever fumbled around with your phone while trying to add an upcoming event to your calendar, this tip should be a lifesaver.

If This Then That, a popular trigger-based service, can help you add events to Google Calendar by sending a text message to a dedicated number. This was incredibly useful before Google released a dedicated iOS Calendar app, but it can still be easier than opening that app on its own.

First, go to My Recipes on the top bar of IFTTT. Then select Create a Recipe. You’ll be prompted to set up your trigger. In this case, select SMS. You’ll then be asked to active your phone, and IFTTT will send your phone an activation pin from a designated number (think of this as your digital butler’s number).

IFTTT will then ask you to set up a trigger phrase. For this purpose, you should select something like GCal, which means every time you text #Gcal to this number, you’ll be setting off the Gcal trigger you’re about to set up.

Then you’ll be asked to pick your Then trigger, for which you’ll select the Google Calendar thumbnail. IFTTT will ask to access your Google account, which you should activate. Once this trigger is good to go, you can text any jumbled phrase, like “#Gcal Dinner with Anna May 7 8pm,” and IFTTT will put the event into your Google Calendar.

Read more: How to Automatically Post Instagram Photos to Twitter

TIME Web

The Best Websites to Help You Fall Asleep

woman-sleeping-bed
Getty Images

These mobile and desktop options will help create your perfect atmosphere for sleep

The science of sound can help you in many aspects of your life, from increasing concentration to creating the right atmosphere for a better night’s rest. The trick is to know which kind of sound will do the trick and the easiest way to access it. Fortunately, there are plenty of websites and apps that do just that.

Pink noise generators for better sleep

Do you notice that you sleep better when the rain falls steadily outside or the wind blows gently through the trees? That’s what researchers call pink noise, a combination of sounds that contain all of the frequencies that people can hear, with volume decreasing in high frequencies. This kind of pink noise “has significant effect on reducing brain wave complexity and inducing more stable sleep time to improve sleep quality of individuals,” according to the Journal of Theoretical Biology study. In comparison, white noise keeps the volume consistent across all frequencies and most people don’t find it as restful.

There are many apps that offer noise generation for better sleep, but be sure to only use the features that provide a steady, consistent sound, not intermittent noise.

Lightning Bug

Lightning Bug provides relaxing nature sounds that will help you sleep better at night. Make sure to enable plug-ins and download the free White Noise pack. In the pack, you can choose from white noise and pink noise. Bonus: it also comes with an alarm, snooze button and sleep timer.

Price: Free with premium plug-ins available at Google Play

Sleep Fan

Similar to falling rain, the noise of an electric fan also helps many get a better night’s sleep. This app, a favorite here at Techlicious, generates that exact sound for you. You can play a fan sound at low, medium or high speed and also set a time for how long you want the noise to play. It even plays as a background app, allowing your phone to go into sleep mode but still play fan sound through the night.

Price: $1.99 on iTunes

WhiteNoise

If you don’t like fan noises, try WhiteNoise. It has pink noise, brown noise (low frequency sound masking) and many more soothing sound. Plus, it gives you great flexibility for painting your own soundscape, mixing up to five sounds at once. Pay a little extra to get a recorder and generator to create your own sounds.

Price: $1.99 on iTunes and free on Google Play

Chroma Doze

This highly-rated, Android-only app generates white noise based an algorithm that you can control. Tweak the sound wave curve to get just the right kind of noise to help you sleep. The app is free, has no ads and will run in the background on your phone.

Price: Free on Google Play

Finally, if you are looking for an all-around effective noise generator, not just an app or sound file that mimics sounds, we highly recommend the Marpac DOHM-DS Natural White Noise Sound Machine ($47.95 on Amazon). It creates a soothing sound that helps block other sounds in your environment that may be distracting you.

Sound for better focus and concentration

No matter how many times experts remind us to turn off the distractions when we’re trying to get things done, most of us enjoy listening to music on the job. A little bit of whistle-while-you-work can boost flagging energy and bolster creativity — but too much of a good thing is a definite no-no.

What you need is the right noise for the job: ambient sound for creative focus, white noise for tight concentration or more relaxed soundscapes for calm efficiency or relaxation. If you’ve always suspected you do better and more rewarding work when you cart your laptop down to the local shop, research is on your side. When you’re trying to coax creativity out of hiding, moderate levels of ambient noise can provide just enough of a distraction to free the rest of your brain for broader thought.

A study in The Journal of Consumer Research shows that background noise as mundane as the hum of a coffee shop in full swing or the muffled chatter of a television in the other room can enhance performance. Apply that knowledge with discretion: Higher noise levels are too distracting, and tasks that require concentration and focus on detail are better performed in a quiet environment.

If your surroundings are already littered with distracting sounds and conversations, you might need white noise to mask the chaos. Be careful about playing these sounds too loudly, too close to you or for too long. A recent study shows that white noise used to keep babies drifting in a peaceful slumber could in fact damage their hearing.

Laptop, desktop and mobile browsers options

Ready to download some sound apps to help tune up your life? Not so fast. Our favorite sources for ambient sound, white noise, meditation gongs and calming music aren’t apps at all — they’re free websites you pull up right in your browser.

Coffitivity

Here’s the hottest spot to find that coffee shop ambience — what Coffitivity calls a “combination of calm and commotion” that inspires and supports creativity. Choose from several different vibes: “Morning Murmur” gives you the traditional hustle and bustle of the corner café; “Lunchtime Lounge” carries a little more energy; and “University Undertones” soothes you with the calmer sounds of a campus café.

Price: Free at coffitivity.com or for Mac desktop at iTunes; Coffivitity app free at Google Play and iTunes

Noisli

This ambient sound generator plays to maximum advantage on a second monitor because it includes a color generator that helps set the mood. Research also backs the role of color in influencing productivity. Using a blue desktop background, for example, can enhance creative performance, while red helps you attack and focus on nitty-gritty details. Noisli lets you toggle and layer as many sounds as you like to create your own tapestry of sound. Choose among coffee shop chatter, three types of white noise and nature sounds including rain, thunderstorms, waves, crackling fire and more. Still distracted? There’s also a text editor for distraction-free writing.

Price: Free at noisli.com or $1.99 on iTunes

myNoise.net

Here’s some serious noise. “Welcome to the convergence of serious audio engineering, creative sound design and the scientific understanding of human hearing,” reads myNoise’s introductory text. “The site you are about to enter is not just another of those soundscape websites but a serious tool oriented toward the needs of hearing professionals, sound therapists and people interested in noise machines in general.”

At myNoise, choose from sounds designed specifically for noise blocking, healthcare, sound therapy, meditation and tonal sound. The site allows you to calibrate much of the sounds to your own computer and hearing. Because the website is so robust, playing the noise generators from Mobile Safari (iOS) requires the larger RAM sizes of the newer iPads and iPhones; on Android tablets, Firefox 22 has been confirmed to play well.

Price: Free at myNoise.net and free with $0.99 for upgrade sounds on iTunes

App options for mobile productivity

If you’d prefer an app for your mobile device, you have plenty to choose from. Just remember to use earbuds or headphones if you’re going to use an ambient sound or white noise app on a mobile device; you’re seeking immersion in sound that surrounds you, after all.

Ambiance

For your iPhone or iPad, we like the capacious sound library of Ambiance. With this polished app, you get more than 2,500 free sounds, from ambient and urban environment (the traditional coffee shop mix plus many alternatives), binaural beats and more. You can mix multiple sounds to blend just the right custom sound.

Price: $2.99 plus $0.99 for premium sounds on iTunes

Naturespace

While the whole idea of these apps and tools is immersion, if you’re really committed to going deep, go Naturespace. Naturespace attempts to reproduce soundscapes in a 3-D environment; you hear the birds in the trees above you as well as what’s before and behind you. This is some of the best sound quality out there.

Price: Free with limited previews or purchases from $0.99 and up on iTunes and Google Play

White Noise Box

Looking for something free? White Noise Box is the ticket. You get all the basic sounds and features you need and expect.

Price: Free or $0.99 for premium (removes ads and pointer to the store) on iTunes and Google Play

If what you really need is pure, sweet silence, try a pair of noise-cancelling headphones; our guide shows you the best.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME People

Read Sheryl Sandberg’s Emotional Tribute to Her Late Husband David Goldberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and husband Dave Goldberg attending the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 9, 2014 in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and husband Dave Goldberg attending the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 9, 2014 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

"Dave was my rock"

Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook executive whose husband died suddenly on May 2, posted a moving tribute Tuesday to her late husband.

David Goldberg, the 47-year-old CEO of SurveyMonkey, died after suffering severe head trauma while exercising at a resort in Punta Mita, a state official in Mexico said this week, the Associated Press reports. He was found next to a treadmill in a pool of blood and later died at a hospital.

“We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine,” Sandberg wrote of Goldberg. See the full post here:

Read next: Dave Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg’s Unlikely Love Story

TIME Uber

Uber Is Not in Kansas Anymore

After lawmakers overrode the Governor's veto of a restrictive new bill

Uber shut down its operations in Kansas on Tuesday after state lawmakers overrode Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill that would impose new rules on ride-sharing services.

The Republican-held Senate and House both had more than a two-thirds majority to override the veto of the bill, which would require drivers undergo Kansas Bureau of Investigation background checks and enhance its auto insurance, the Associated Press reports.

“We’re saddened by the loss of hundreds of jobs, safe rides and transportation choice for consumers in Kansas,” Uber spokeswoman Lauren Altmin said in a statement, the Kansas City Star reports. On Tuesday afternoon, users in Kansas were prompted with this message:

Only last month, Uber was celebrating an agreement with the city council in Kansas City and the continuation of its operations there. A main competitor, Lyft, has not operated in the city since the fall.

TIME 2016 presidential election

Carly Fiorina Says She Would ‘Roll Back’ Net Neutrality Rules

Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina speaks at TechCrunchÕs Disrupt conference on May 5, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina speaks at TechCrunchÕs Disrupt conference on May 5, 2015 in New York City.

And she wants the government to use technology to "re-engage" people

Carly Fiorina said Tuesday in her first public appearance since announcing her candidacy for the GOP nomination that she would “roll back” the new rules on net neutrality.

The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, arguably the presidential candidate with the most experience in the tech industry, came out swinging against the regulations in a talk at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event in New York City. “You don’t manage innovation, you let innovation flourish,” she said. “Regulation over innovation is a really bad role for government.”

Other Republican hopefuls have also come out in recent months against net neutrality—or the idea that all web content is treated equally—perhaps in opposition to Obama or in order to protect campaign donations, despite the fact that 85% of Republican voters say they oppose the creation of Internet “fast lanes.”

MORE: Why 2016 Republicans Oppose Net Neutrality

At other points during the talk, Fiorina pointed to her experience in the tech industry as a qualification for the Oval Office. “It is important to have someone in the White House who has a fundamental understanding of technology, and a fundamental vision of how technology could be used,” she said, adding that she hopes to use technology to “re-engage” people in politics.

Fiorina also addressed the industry’s inequalities for women, noting that they are “caricatured differently, criticized differently, scrutinized differently, because we’re still different.” To that end, she noted that she was pleased Hillary Clinton is also running for the Democratic nomination. “Obviously I’m running to beat Hillary Clinton, but I think It’s great there there are women on both sides of the aisle running for the highest office in the land.”

When the interviewer, a female journalist, asked Fiorina if she would consider a Vice Presidential slot, she bristled and replied: “Would you ever ask a man that question?”

In the past, male presidential candidates like former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson have been asked whether they’re running for VP, and the idea has also been posed for former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a presumed Democratic candidate. After the journalist responded that she would, the candidate said, “I’m not running for something else, I’m running because I want this job, and I think I can do this job.”

Read next: Carly Fiorina Calls Foul on Vice President Quesion

TIME Video Games

Star Wars Is Coming to Disney Infinity

Even characters from The Force Awakens will make it to the game

Toy-game wonks, listen up: Disney’s Infinity video game series will, as rumored, mark its third outing by packing Luke, Han, Leia, Darth Vader and many more into all new Star Wars-themed play sets when version 3.0 arrives for all the current and last-gen consoles, PC and mobile (iOS, Android) platforms this fall. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuting this December, I’m sure you’re totally surprised!

Disney, which harbors some of the world’s most iconic entertainment franchises (Star Wars, The Muppets, Marvel, and of course all the core Disney IP), announced Tuesday that Disney Infinity 3.0 will hit this fall. The Star Wars: The Clone Wars-focused starter pack, which includes a “Twilight of the Republic” play set, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, will set you back $64.99. That’s a little lower than its typical asking price, says Disney, and all of the 1.0 and 2.0 figures and power discs will be compatible with 3.0.

Disney says it plans to release three Star Wars play sets, the first (above) set during Episodes I-III, the second during the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) and the third, available a bit later this winter, based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In addition to those, expect new 3.0 play sets that tie into Infinity‘s previous Pixar- and Marvel-angled installments, a few tweaks to Toy Box mode (new gameplay types, including racing, platforming and farming) and new characters, including Ultron (The Avengers: Age of Ultron), Sam Flynn and Quorra (Tron: Legacy), Mulan (Mulan) and Olaf (Frozen).

Back to Star Wars, because that’s why you’re here, Disney says that in addition to the Clone Wars-themed “Twilight of the Republic” play set, another dubbed “Rise of the Empire” will check various original trilogy boxes, letting you play as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca and Vader, pilot X-Wings or the Millennium Falcon in space battles, or poke around planets like Tatooine, Hoth and–wait, sorry, not a planet–Endor.

And that’s just for starters. Disney says to expect more figure and play set announcements in the lead up to the game’s release.

TIME Transportation

How Smart Traffic Lights Could Transform Your Commute

Using data to make cities run smoother

The traffic signals along Factoria Boulevard in Bellevue, Wash., generally don’t flash the same stretch of green twice in a row, especially at rush hour. At 9:30 a.m., the full red/yellow/green signal cycle might be 140 seconds. By 9:33 a.m, a burst of additional traffic might push it to 145 seconds. Less traffic at 9:37 a.m. could push it down to 135. Just like the traffic itself, the timing of the signals fluctuates.

That’s by design. Bellevue, a fast-growing city of more than 130,000 just east of Seattle, utilizes a system that is gaining popularity around the U.S.: intersection signals that can adjust in real-time to traffic conditions. City officials say that these lights, known as adaptive signals, have led to significant declines in both the hassle and cost of commuting.

“Adaptive signals make sure that inefficiencies never happen,” says Alex Stevanovic, director of the Laboratory for Adaptive Traffic Operations & Management at Florida Atlantic University. “They can make sure that the traffic demand that is there is being addressed.”

As city leaders increasingly turn to data for insight into running their metros more efficiently, adaptive signals have emerged as a 21st century strategy to chip away at a longstanding scourge. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 11 million Americans commute more than an hour each way to their job while 600,000 U.S. residents have one-way “megacommutes” of at least 90 minutes or 50 miles.

And all that time on the roads costs money. The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that U.S. commuters lost $124 billion in 2013 due to the cost of fuel, the value of time wasted in traffic, and the increased cost of doing business. CEBR predicts those costs will rise 50% by 2030.

Only 3% of the nation’s traffic signals are currently adaptive, but the number of smart signals in the U.S. has jumped from 4,500 in 2009 to 6,500 in 2014, according to Stevanovic, who tracks the signals’ installation around the U.S.

The largest concentration of adaptive signals is in Los Angeles, a city that has long struggled with congestion. Nearby Orange County, Calif. has the second largest, followed by Utah, where about 80% of the state’s traffic signals are adaptive. But the frontier of adaptive traffic management may be in Bellevue, according to transportation policy experts. The city’s overhaul began in 2010 when it began implementing a system called SCATS (Sydney Coordinative Adaptive Traffic System, which was first developed and used in Sydney, Australia). Currently, 174 of Bellevue’s intersections have been outfitted with the new technology with plans for all 197 intersections to use adaptive signals by the end of the year.

The system uses a series of wires embedded in city streets that tell the signals how much traffic is moving through the intersection. When traffic is heavier, the green lights stay on longer. Less traffic means shorter greens. During peak traffic periods, nearby intersections sync their lights to allow long stretches of green. When there are fewer cars on the road, those intersections revert to their own cycles. Mark Poch, the Bellevue Transportation Department’s traffic engineering manager, says uncoupled intersections work more efficiently when there are fewer cars on the road because they can better respond to specific situations at that cross street.

Along Factoria, one of Bellevue’s main downtown arteries, travel times have decreased by 36% during peak rush hour since adaptive lights were installed, according to city transportation officials. Along NE 8th Street, another heavily trafficked street, travel times are down 43% from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Those decreased delays appear to add up to real savings for drivers: Bellevue officials say the $5.5 million system saves drivers $9 million to $12 million annually (they estimate that a driver’s time is worth $15 an hour).

For all of Bellevue’s success, adaptive signals are not a panacea for clogged roadways. Kevin Balke, a research engineer at the Texas A&M University Transportation Institute, says that while smart lights can be particularly beneficial for some cities, others are so congested that only a drastic reduction in the number of cars on the road will make a meaningful difference. “It’s not going to fix everything, but adaptive has some benefits for a smaller city with a particular corridor on the verge of breaking down,” he says.

In Bellevue, the switch to adaptive has been a lesson in the value of embracing new approaches. In the past, Poch says, there was often a knee-jerk reaction to dealing with increased traffic: just widen the lanes. Now he hopes that other cities will consider making their streets run smarter instead of just making them bigger.

“It’s been a slow change,” Poch says. “It’s easy to think the way to get out of it is to widen the road. However, as we move toward being better stewards of our resources and more sensitive to environmental issues, let’s take what we have and operate it better. I think that’s a more prevailing thought now, and I think it makes sense.”

TIME Apple watch

These May Be the Most Absurd Apple Watch Accessories Yet

Golden Dreams Apple Watch in 18ct rose gold
Courtsey of Golden Dreams The Golden Dreams Apple Watch in 18-karat rose gold.

Jewelers are gold-plating and diamond-studding Apple Watch faces and bands

Third-party jewelers are continuing to show off what may be Apple Watch’s most ridiculous accessories yet — everything from gold plates to diamond-studded bands. Some are way cheaper than the $10,000 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition; others are ten times as expensive.

One gold plate accessory is being offered by Watch Plate, which promises to affordably gold-plate your Apple Watch for $399, as 9to5Mac points out. All you have to do is drop off your Apple Watch at FedEx, and within three business days you’ll get your device back “looking like a million bucks (well, more like $10,000),” according to the site.

Other jewelers are also offering cheaper gold Apple Watches, though you’ll have to buy the watch custom-made. Swiss company Golden Dreams, for example, is accepting pre-orders a range of personalized yellow, pink and white gold Apple Watches for around $3,500.

And then there are a few jewelers who are going all out — as in six-figure Apple Watches covered in diamonds. That’s the story at luxury design firm Brikk, which is taking pre-orders for its Lux Watch models, whose watch faces come in titanium, yellow gold or pink gold, all studded with diamonds ranging from 2-karat to 12-karat.

Of course, the best option for those seeking an easy gold Apple Watch might just be to make a knockoff. As shown by popular YouTuber Casey Neistat, all it takes is some good-quality gold spray paint, tape and cutting tools to turn your watch into a counterfeit Apple Watch Edition that many people might just think is real.

Read next: 7 Most Surprising Things About Owning an Apple Watch

TIME Apple watch

Third-Party Apple Watch Bands Are About to Be a Huge Thing

Apple Watch Goes On Sale At Handful Of Boutiques Around The World
Chris McGrath—Getty Images Shimada shows off his newly purchased Apple Watch outside boutique store, Dover Street Market Ginza on April 24, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan.

Apple launched an official program for strap makers

Third-party Apple Watch bands were on the market even before the smartwatch launched last month — but now Apple is pulling in strap makers with a new developers’ program.

Apple launched the “Made for Apple Watch” initiative on Monday, which provides third-party accessory developers with precise smartwatch specifications, according to the program’s new website.

Like the similar “Made for” programs for iPhone, iPad and iPod (“MFi”), the Apple Watch specifications are intended to ensure the accessories comply with Apple performance standards. For Apple Watch bands, that means using the appropriate sizes and materials compatible with its features and environmental regulations. It also means following the company’s ban on integrated magnetic chargers.

There’s no mention of integrating accessories with Apple Watch’s hidden diagnostic port, a possibility many developers are hoping will be added in the future. That could allow faster charging or even battery straps, though other developers argue that the port is hidden for a reason.

Read next: 7 Most Surprising Things About Owning an Apple Watch

TIME Gadgets

Apple Is About to Totally Reinvent Something We Use Every Day

Control your TV by swiping a touch pad, rather than pressing a button

The humble television remote may soon be getting a makeover. Apple is planning to add a touch pad to the next iteration of its Apple TV remote, according to an anonymous company employee cited by the New York Times. The remote will feature just two buttons in addition to the touch pad. The current Apple TV remote has only three buttons, which is a far cry from the dozens on a typical television remote.

Right now Apple TV is a set-top box that people can use to stream video content from services such as Netflix and Hulu. However, Apple is rumored to have plans to launch its own pay-TV service that would stream live TV channels over the Internet. The service, which could be announced as soon as June, is expected to be cheaper than a traditional cable subscription with a smaller bundle of channels.

[NYT]

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