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Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category


The new connected appliances from Whirlpool.

It’s been more than a month since I returned from Las Vegas and the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. And while many a techno geek is still probably fantasizing about the cool new super thin, super crisp TV’s (and the booth babes who displayed them), I can’t get my mind off something else.  Though I am loathe to admit it, the (not even so) new crop of smart appliances are haunting my dreams.

Part of it is my own, sorry set of appliances, none of which are manufactured by companies that even exist anymore.  My 15 year old refrigerator, by the so under the radar you’d think is was defunct Amana, is starting to go both physically (falling shelves), and functionally (everything in the fruit and veggie drawers freezes!).  My Stove is by Magic Chef, a company that doesn’t even manufacture stoves anymore.  It no longer heats up all that well – so many’s the time I’ve called everyone in for dinner only to find out the chicken was still a bright, bloody pink!

So imagine how I felt, looking at the beautiful new Whirlpool White Ice appliances.  Sleek. Beautiful.  Presumably NOT freezing everything and properly cooking everything.  Just seeing them got me thinking that Stainless Appliance are just so…aughts.  Plus, some Whirlpool® Appliances have 6th Sense Live, which let you manage your refrigerator temperature, lock your dishwasher control console or know when your cycle is done. They can even help you save on energy costs, just by tracking usage.

The gas range in the collection offers super-fast pre-heating (mine takes forever), a big giant window to see what’s cooking without disturbing temperature (not that I need that option, since my current oven is never at the proper temperature anyway), and a built in convection option, for even faster cooking and better browning (I got nothing.).

(more…)

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Yes, it’s true. I am a Windows Phone geek.  the HTC Windows Phone 8X is my all -time favorite.  I love that operating system.

I love an operating system. How weird and geeky and sad.

But geekdom has it’s benefits:  HTC recently sent me its new Droid DNA to review, and while it doesn’t turn me away from my Windows Phone obsession, it does tempt me.  And that’s saying a lot. (more…)

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Comes in tons of cool colors, too.

Comes in tons of cool colors, too.

I love my HTC Windows Phone 8X.  Only it’s not mine.  It’s a loaner, given (lent) to me by HTC so I could review it.

Only I don’t want to give it back. Really, I don’t.

It’s no surprise that I love Windows Phone.  I love it so much that even though the only model Sprint carried with the operating system was the super heavy, super clunky HTC Arrive, I still paid my own actual money to get one.

I never liked that phone.  The camera was eh, the thing weighed at least 150 pounds, but the OS?  That Windows 7 sleek, intuitive, easy to use interface?  The real Word Docs, the Excel spreadsheets, the syncing between my Sky Drive and my phone.  That part I loved.

And then it broke. I mean really , really, broke. And guess what?  Sprint no longer carries Windows Phones. (or HTC phones for that matter….really?) So I was faced with a dilemma.  Do I switch to a non-windows phone, or switch to another carrier?  Since my contract with Sprint isn’t up until forever, switching will cost me $350. And since I’ve been with Sprint for forever, we have a pretty good deal.  So I was stuck.

And yet I still couldn’t bring myself to get an Android or (ugh) iOS devise.

Enter HTC, with an offer for a one-month loaner of their Windows Phone 8x.  Surely in a month, I’d figure out how to deal with my Sprint/No Windows Phones/No way out of my contract dilemma in a month.

Evidently not.

Instead, what’s happened is, I’ve fallen madly in love with my super sleek, super slim, super light, fabulously camera-ed, beats audio-ed Windows phone.  And I don’t want to give it back.

Ever.

Why do I love it? (more…)

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We’ve all done it.  Signed in to the WiFi at Starbucks, at the bookstore, even in public parks.  We want our online access, and we don’t want to give up our minutes to get it.

But  there is a risk.  And every time you sign onto a public WiFi network you take it.  Here’s how the FTC describes it:

“If you use an unsecured network to log in to an unencrypted site – or a site that uses encryption only on the sign-in page – other users on the network can see what you see and what you send. They could hijack your session and log in as you. New hacking tools – available for free online – make this easy, even for users with limited technical know-how. Your personal information, private documents, contacts, family photos, and even your login credentials could be up for grabs.”

Yikes.  I don’t even want to think about that happening. Some lunatic spamming my friends is the least of it. So what can you do to protect your information? Here are a few tips – adapted from the FTC website: (more…)

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app splash Drum roll please!!!

Today we are officially announcing the launch of the KidzVuz app, the only video submission app designed especially for tweens.

I’m beyond excited.  Why?  So glad you asked! (more…)

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Western Digital TV Live HD

Western Digital TV Live HD (Photo credit: Tolbxela)

Oh, the life of a blogger — you have to go to press junkets where Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway answer your questions.  You’re forced to check out hip salons like Blow (thanks MomTrends) where they absolutely make you get your hair done, fix your makeup, and serve you cocktails. And you have to be connected while you do it.

What’s a blogger to do?

Get some tech, of course.

Several months ago, just as my home network was starting to fizzle, I was lucky enough to get a WD My Net N900 wireless router at an event sponsored by Techlicious.  What does that mean in non-tech speak?  It means I got a pretty awesome wireless hub for my home network.  It’s faster than my old (Apple) router, and setting it up was easy even for me.  And when I did hit a snag – while the online help is less than spectacular – the human help was superb.  Seriously.  I kept getting bumped off the network – something to do with having two different portals – who knows?  They talked me through it right away.  And then they called me back the next day to see how everything was going.  Wow.  It was like when you get a tooth pulled and the dentist calls to check on you the next day.  Only not painful.

One of the super cool things about the router (you know you’re a geek when you type the words “super cool” and “router” in such close proximity) was a feature called FasTrack.  Fastrack can tell one kind of streaming from another, and it knows which one to prioritize.  In other words, if one computer on your network is checking emails now and then, or being used as an ebook, and another is streaming a movie — FasTrack knows that the computer streaming the movie needs more oomph (I think that’s the technical term), and gives that signal priority.

That means waaaaay less buffering.

Which is good and bad, because now my son, the streaming king, doesn’t get frustrated, give up, and go read a book.  His Netflix just streams like it’s nothing.

Damn you technology!

I also got a WD TV Live – which brings Netflix, facebook, Hulu, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, VuDu and more to your TV.  Yep.  Any TV.  And it set up like nothing.  Seriously.  I can even make it tap into my shared network (tip – you have to enable sharing on the computer side of things too) and watch my bazillions of photo stream by on my TV screen like nothing.  Awesome at family events.  Seriously. (Because face it, no one but your family wants to see all of your pictures.)  I think it’s supposed to be able to play videos on my network, too — but so far, I haven’t been able to figure that one out.

For less than $100, it’s a pretty amazing little gizmo.  And I do mean little.  It’s about the size of a lunch plate…if you have square lunch plates, that is.

The final piece of my WD  Suite is perhaps the least technically exciting, but the one that I like the best: My Book Live.  It’s your own personal cloud. The thing holds up to 3 terabytes (I didn’t even know there was such a thing) of videos, movies, music, etc. and let’s you access it all from anywhere.  Just like “the cloud,’ only this cloud sits in your own home.  At first, I thought it would take the place of Carbonite — backing up all of my data.  But then I thought – if the cloud is in my home, and home gets damaged or robbed, I’ll lose everything.  So I still have to have offsite back-up, but with My Book Live, I can also have everything I want in a not “where the hell is the cloud anyway” kind of place.

There’s something reassuring about that.

The Best part is, all three items work in sync – I store the movies and pictures I have on The My Book Live, I play them on the WD Live TV, and it’s all made possible by the MY Net N900.

Not bad for a non-techie tech person.

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Recently, I saw a local news broadcast about “The Hidden Dangers in Your Child’s Cell Phone!!!!!” (Exclamation points, theirs.) The story was about how, when you take a picture from your phone and posts it to a social networking site, the GPS location function of their phone can pinpoint  – for anyone who cares to look – your exact location.

The anchors appeared shocked – simply shocked! They gravely thanked the reporter  for exposing this terrifying fact.

What the story didn’t explain, was that it’s incredibly easy to turn off the Geo-locator function. But I guess,  had they done that, they wouldn’t have had a story.

But what the story did point out to me, is how little people know – or even think about – mobile safety.  Especially parents. (more…)

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My 12 year old daughter was recently approached inappropriately  by an older man, and I couldn’t be happier.

Yup, you read that right.

Why would that make me happy?  Because she was approached by a virtual man on a virtual dance floor in a virtual world.  Only virtual harm done. (more…)

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That’s what Ben (The PC Guy) Rudolph (looking skinnier than ever) calls CES, the 150,000 person, 8 football fields big Consumer Electronic Show held in Las Vegas every year.

I also heard someone call it The Consumer Exhaustion Show.

I agree with both.  Although the “best week” part can be hard to agree with sometimes.  What with the crowds, the jacked up prices, the long lines, the Japanese businessmen overly buoyant as they slip the bellman a $20 bill to put them and their bevy of hookers to the front of the taxi line.

And then there’s the tech.  Miles and miles and miles of it. 1.861 million square feet, to be exact.  So you don’t get to see everything..to say the least.  But here were a few of my favorites:

The refrigerator of my dreams, from LG.  I live in an apartment, and my kitchen is a classic NYC galley style.  That means, thatLG door in door French Door Fridge when I open the refrigerator door, I completely block the back door. Not THAT big a deal, but annoying.  This LG French door fridge just looked awesome. With a very cool feature that puts bottles of juice or water at kid level, and accessible through a door-in-door feature that means you don’t have to open the whole fridge just to grab a drink. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I also really liked the wireless Wi Drive from Kingston that I got at the Clever Girls Ladies Who Tech party. It’s a wireless USB drive that allows multiple devices to access it at the same time. That means you can watch a grown up movie on your computer while your kids watch something else on the iPad.  All without wires.

Verizon showed off a new in-store giant wall that makes shopping easier.  It’s a touch screen wall that doesn’t just help you with Verizon shopping, but helps you find restaurants, stores…whatever in a super-cool interface with circles of proximity and connections. Could it be that they’ve found a way to make going to a Verizon store less than horrifying?

I saw wireless TV’s that you can move from room to room. The latest trend in cameras – both video and non- is that they are WiFi enabled. I got a SONY WiFi Bloggie camera (also from the fabulous and wonderful Clever Girls) that lets you post your video to Facebook, an email address, a blog…whatever, right after you take it – wirelessly.  It can live stream too.  And even though it’s no bigger than a cell phone, it can hold up to 3 hours of HD video. I would have liked it to have a reversible screen – or a front screen -so it would be useful for vlogging as well.  But I guess that’s why they call it a Bloggie, and not a vloggie.

The cases you can get now for all your devices are amazing.  From custom DIY versions, and adorable wearable purse-type ones from Case Mate (here’s the wall of their booth.  Covered entirely with cases!), to blinged out versions from just about everyone,to this one from Griffin Tech that @beccasara called The Mr. Potatohead of Iphone Cases. So cute!

Much of what people talked about was the Cloud – and being able to use things across all your devices. It doesn’t make for exciting blogging, but it could make our lives even more seamlessly connected.

Want to know more about my trip to CES 2012? Take a listen to the Blogging Angels podcasts we made while we were there.

One with Ben the PC Guy. (though he really ought to change his name to Ben the  Windows Phone Guy)

And the other with Beth Blecherman of TechMamas.  And she is the Tech Mama!

But I leave you with this – lest you think CES is all high level gadgetry:

Butt and Boob Mouse pad

Because Who Doesn't Want to Rest Their Wrist on a Boob or Butt Cheek Whilst Typing?

Yes, it’s a mouse pad.  And those? Those are the wrist rests.  You gotta love CES.

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