Verizon Tech provided me with products for the purpose of testing and sharing my experience. All opinions expressed in thispost are 100% my own.
If you are planning a spring (or summer) getaway, what are you packing as you plan your travel adventure? I absolutely must pack technology even when vacations are a time to get away from it all. There’s always a plan to blog more (especially now that I have a second blog), so I do usually bring my computer, but the technology I must bring along is usually geared toward making the trip a bit more hassle-free and fun, bonus points if it’s an active trip!
Spring into Travel Adventures with Verizon Tech
I’m not alone in my desire to be active on vacation – Verizon shared with me that the American Society of Travel Agents found we are moving away from “fly-and-flop” trips and looking for adventure! Verizon Tech offers a few pieces of technology that can make those active adventures a bit more fun.
Here are some of the technologies they suggest for spring travel adventures:
· For road trips, jam out with the UE Wonderboom 2 — portable, loud and waterproof speakers for big sounds on the go.
· Whether traveling by plane or on the road, JBL Freewireless in-ear headphones provide a great sound and added bonus: they are splash-proof.
· Track all the walking you will do while sightseeing with the Fitbit Alta HR.
· Charge both Apple and micro USB devices — and do it without having to carry around multiple cables with the mophie powerstation.
· From sandy and wet beaches to rough, rocky hikes or the ski slopes, this LifeProof Fre case will protect your phone from the elements.
· Use your Tile Sport for luggage, passport holders, wallets, purses, bags, and more.
Travel Technology and the Kiddos
I got the opportunity to test out the Tile Sport, mophie powerstation, and JBL Free headphones. My more detailed review on these technologies and how I’m personally using them can be found here, but I found ways to use each with the kids, too!
Add a Tile to your child’s must-have toy just in case it gets left behind- we have paid $48 (not kidding) to get a favorite lovie shipped back from a hotel. (We didn’t know it would cost that and just told the hotel “send it”.) This way, if it happens to you, you can see where the lovie is and not have to stress on your ride home.
For the car ride to your destination, let the kids us the mophie to keep their gadgets charged and ready to go!
When you need some quiet time, give the kids your phone and a good playlist then have each take one of the JBL Free headphones and jam away (note – with four kids, this only worked for the older two).
What ways do you integrate technology into your travels?
Enter disclaimer text This post is brought to you by KidloLand, makers of an app for your smart devices.
Screen time. I know. Before you start mom bashing because I let my kids have screentime, hear me out. Being a mom of four, you sometimes have to call on your village. My village just happens to include the iPad, phones, and (yes) TV. Frankly, my parents let me watch a healthy amount of popular kids’ TV shows that I let the kids watch still today – and not to boast, but I don’t feel harmed by it at all. That’s just part of why I am perfectly fine with the time our kids get in front of a screen.
Especially when that time is focused on educational activities. With apps like KidloLand, I am confident that the girls (and even sometimes the Bigs) are getting valuable learning experiences. All it took to get me to sign up for a trial of this specific app was this description:
KidloLand is loved by kids under 5 years. Kids can learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more with the help of 800+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories and educational activities.
800+? Yup. There will be no “I’m bored” with this app. New content is added every month and you can try the app for free before you buy (a one-year subscription is $39.99).
For the twins, their favorites are the nursery rhymes because they love to dance to the beat of the music and point out things they recognize (like dogs and apples) as the videos play. Ava is keyed in on the number activities while Isla likes to play with the letters. No surprise there!
Now, to be completely honest, I had to wipe the iPad of our videos and photos in order to get the extra features to download. Try preaching patience to 21-month-olds while you do that. (You have to download the activities in the app which makes sense since there are so many. The download speed at the point in our house furthest away from the internet was max 30 seconds an activity – and I promise you our internet is super slow there.)
Check out the girls playing “Tasty Alphabets” – a fun ABC puzzle game with friendly monsters to gobble up the letters.
To give KidloLand a try, use the link that best matches your smart device of choice:
Enter disclaimer text This Tech Tuesday post is brought to you by Kanex.
Those months just before a phone upgrade seem to drag, don’t they? When you’re spending hours in the car, listening to audio books and trying to navigate the best commute, those months drag even longer. This time around, I’m lucky enough to be backed up with two products from Kanex to make them just a little shorter.
GoBuddy I’m using this keychain for more than keeping my keys together. It’s got a micro USB (lightning, Apple certified!) to connect my phone to my computer. This is a quick and easy way to make sure I’ve always got a charging cable with me and double bonus, it works with my iPad. How fun is the bottle opener?
GoPower Reality is that being connected to a computer or outlet isn’t always ideal (like last week at Girl Scouts in a pavillion). The Kanex GoPower holds two charges (one for me, one for him, or both for me if I’m not in a sharing mood, ha) for your smaller micro USB devices or the iPad once.
For charging at your desk, kick out the stand:
I have the midsized 6000 mAh, which is compact enough to travel in my bag daily or in my hand with my phone while I’m wandering around. I love the LED lights that indicate how much charge time is left, too.
If you’re interested in grabbing up these devices, you can find all the specifics on the Kanex website. Pin this post on your gift ideas board for those “have everything” people, too!
Tell me…When could your day have been saved because of one of these devices?
Enter disclaimer text This post is a partnership with Picture Keeper Connect.
As many times as I am “connected” to my phone, I am not connected enough. That became clear when I learned about Picture Keeper Connect at Blogger Bash in July. I’d just gotten a new phone because my old one was overheating. During the event, I had plans to share pictures with some of the brands, but alas, I didn’t have the pictures because new phone, so I was a bit devastated.
I was lucky – when I got home, I realized I’d backed them up via my cloud and most where double backed up on an external hard drive; however, it could have been really bad. This is where the Picture Keeper Connect comes into play.
What is Picture Keeper Connect?
This is a device that’s used to backup photos, videos, and contacts from your phone. It plugs directly into your device in the charging port (if you have an iDevice) or via a USB connector (if you are Android, like me). It puts your important memories right on the device (paired with the Picture Keeper Connect App) as a means of backing up your photos. I’ll stress, you should always double back up, so my suggestion is the PKC and a cloud storage solution, like Photos.
Why do I need Picture Keeper Connect?
Stuff happens. Right? This is a great device to keep on hand because it is:
Convenient (plug in when you want to back it up, have the app remind you when it is time!)
Easy to use (just get the free App and plug in the USB)
Secure to hold your memories
A way to free up space on your phone of 16, 32, or 64 GB worth of memories
Those are pretty good-to-have features when it comes to the tech that’s going to keep your memories at hand, aren’t they? I love it because I am really bad about remembering to hook my phone up to the computer and get the pictures off (see what happened to me in July). This makes it so simple, a busy mom could do it! Kidding aside, it really is simple and fast.
Lesson learned: Have your phone fully charged if this is your first backup. Over 1200 photos in (of 1300), my phone shut down because I started with a tiny percent of battery. Yes, I read the instructions. No, I didn’t listen, hence I am warning you!
What do I once I have one?
Use it. Back up your photos! Once you have, your photos are on a USB which you can connect to other devices to access once your device of choice bites the dust or you move on up. Take the Connect to a photo kiosk and print your favorite photos. Grab another one because you take way too many photos (like me, hint).
What do I need to do to get one?
One, enter my giveaway below. The folks at Picture Keeper want to be sure you’re connecting, so they offered to provide one of you with a Connect. (Awesome, right?!?!) This giveaway runs for two weeks through August 23 at 11:59 PM and is open to US Residents.
Aren’t into giveaways or missed this post until it was too late? Check out Picture Keeper’s online shop to get the Connect starting at $79.99 for the 16GB that I tested out, and use my promo code, lilburghers20, to save 20% and get FREE shipping by shopping here.
Enter disclaimer text This post is part of the Xfinity Moms program and is brought to you by Comcast and Xfinity.
I am a modern mom, so when Dana asked me to join her and four other mom bloggers from Pittsburgh at Comcast’s McCandless Crossing Xfinity store, it was an obvious YES. Sure, I had 500 other things going on that week, but I knew this event (about ways to connect your family with technology) was going to make it all worth it. And oh, did it.
As a Comcast customer, I thought I knew a lot about the services available. Apparently, I was living under a rock and not as modern as I thought because there was so much good information. Several of you have already asked me for more info in person, and for those of you who haven’t but are wondering, here are four awesome takeaways I got from meeting with the incredible team at Comcast.
Reason One: The X1 Platform is No Extra Fee
You’re sitting at home watching your local team win their home opener (YES!) and it’s fuzzy. What do you do? A) Call Customer Service. B) Don’t call because surely it will mean more money out of your pocket each month. The answer is A, my friends.
X1 is a cable TV platform that will revolutionize your TV watching experience. As I watched Greg Wells (of Comcast) demonstrate how to use it to find what you like to watch, connect with other shows that are similar in taste, or watch what is trending on Twitter, I KNEW that I had to go home and tell my husband we needed the upgrade. I sat there dreading the fee, but then Greg said it was no extra cost. I believed him, but had to see it for myself.
After the event, I headed to the customer service counter and walked out of the store with a brand new HD DVR box that was on X1 and a service order to send my old box back. Why? Because there was no extra fee (compared to what we were already paying // HD and DVR are each additional charges, as are extra boxes for other rooms).
With that new box, we’ve been watching more TV this weekend than we had in the past year and 5 months of being customers. Totally sounding lazy, but that’s to say that our cable was used for about 5 hours the last three days. I can’t think of the last time we actually watched cable. All those months of paying for it and not using it are gone.
What’s included that wow’ed me?
Xfinity Remote with Voice Control – fun and easy way to search for networks, shows, and movies
Specially Tailored-for-TV apps – our favorite is the weather app that you can pop open on top of whatever you are watching but still see the show you were on
X1 DVR with cloud technology – this means you can stream recordings and live television on your devices.
Reason Two: Kids Zone
I basically melted into a pool of drool when the team showed off Kids Zone. My kids are IN LOVE which I am so thankful for. I’m able to give them a secure place to watch THEIR shows (no more pranksters and that guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea – because I can even block kid shows in Kids Zone!). They explore on their own and I have no worries. Well, until they learn my pin.
Greg Wells (of Comcast) calls it “Parental Controls on Steroids”.
Reason Three: Xfinity Home
My husband is super security focused, so I’m kind of surprised he hadn’t told me about how Comcast’s home security, control, and energy management platform could help us stay connected to home when we aren’t there. (You can find out more here: Xfinity Home)
Johnyne Hoyes was able to show us live camera feeds of her house while she was on the job telling us about how we could do the same. She knew her family were home from their daily outings and was able to turn the lights in the kitchen on and off right there in the store. Some call it “simple control at your fingertips” while others, like Johnyne, call it “Mommy’s always watching!”.
THIS makes me happy and makes me want to spend the extra dollars a month (and likely then save on energy and insurance). Not that I don’t trust my husband as a Stay At Home Dad to do all the things on our honey do list…but I can check in and make sure things are going just right OR we could have some extra comfort knowing that my parents aren’t trying to go up the stairs with both girls in their arms (a feat only twin parents should attempt). Even better? It’s secure. Comcast has AWESOME team members in their IT department and they’ve not been hacked.
Some fun things you can do with Xfinity Home:
Turn on your coffee pot in the morning when you’re just about done getting dressed
Set a rule to send a photo via text between 3 – 6 PM when your front door opens (no teens sneaking friends in after school!)
Adjust the temperate of your home when you forget because you’re rushing out the door to catch a flight to vacation and forgot to turn the AC down
Watch the kids in the backyard while you work on dinner in the kitchen
Reason Four: FREE Apps to Stay Connected on the Go
Admittedly, my phone is like the 7th member of our family. It goes everywhere I go, because as a modern mom I am always connected. With the suite of eight apps from Xfinity, this is just going to get even better.
Xfinity customers can add Xfinity Apps on their mobile devices to share photos and videos securely, enjoy their favorite shows while away from home, monitor home activity (see above about Xfinity Home), and more.
One of my favorite free apps, Xfinity WiFi, was highlighted by Comcast’s Zac Gault. He showed us a map of Pittsburgh and were all the free WiFi hotspots in the area were. There are so many free WiFi spots throughout our city that you can start saving on your cellular data, too. “Get all the hotspots out there,” Zac said.
So to summarize, being an Xfinity Mom that’s in the know about all of the cool things Comcast is bringing to Pittsburgh is going to help me stay connected with my home and family, save money, and keep me relaxed while I enjoy my favorite shows. Sounds like exactly what this busy mom of four needs, right?
If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, head over to any of the local stores and check out the services and packages I’ve mentioned. You can talk about your current services, like I did with Mike, and get exactly what you need. (Mike was even able to help me save when he realized we hadn’t been using a rented modem because we had bought our own. We said goodbye to that piece of equipment and saved money by doing so.)
Greg and I are so happy we decided to say goodbye to our old Digital Economy basic box and say hello to X1! (In the spirit of honesty – we had a small mix-up with the device I grabbed at the store not being compatible with our service area, but after an AWESOME experience with a technician installation on Friday – less than 24 hours after I called in – we had beautiful picture and fully functioning service! Comcast Customer Service win!!!)
Enter disclaimer text This post is sponsored by Speck Products.
Are you like us and live without an alarm clock? A land line? If so, you probably know the feeling I had this morning when I forgot to plug in my phone before bed. As I rolled over to tame the beeping beside me, I realized my alarm was going off literally seconds before my phone battery was dead. At 1%, I was somehow saved by my phone.
There would have been no phone call from my boss asking where I was. The kids would eventually have woken me, but who knows when. And if Greg hadn’t set his alarms, who knows when the two of us (recovering from mancold, a cough, and a nursing side effect) would have come out of hibernation. We totally rely on our cell phones.
In some cases…we even rely on them as our wallets. Before I got my pretty Speck phone case, I was using one of those sticker pockets that held my ID and Debit card. It was a nice convenience, so you can imagine transitioning was a little difficult (but it is SO pretty!). It’s ok though, because I passed the convenience on to Greg.
As the dad who often has to juggle a diaper bag and two car seats while corraling two big kids, it is nice to be able to carry less. His cell phone case, also from Speck, helps him do just that. This S4 case, the SmartFlex Card, has a slick built-in slot for cards (up to 3) and has a flat back (something my pocket didn’t provide). Beyond that, you can rest assured you have Speck’s Military Grade protection (in case you seem to think carrying less now means you can carry more and you drop your phone).
Some more about the SmartFlex Card Samsung Galaxy S4 Case from Speck Products:
Card and wallet case. Securely hold up to 3 cards (or folded bills) in this Galaxy S4 cover’s side-loading slot. Military-grade drop tested. Meets or exceeds MIL-STD-810G standards. Drop tested onto a hard, unrelenting surface with phone retaining full functionality and no damage to screen or buttons. Easy on, easy off. Flexible construction provides protection that’s durable, yet pops on and off in a snap. Detailed to defend. Raised bezel protects screen from impact and adds grip so your phone can lie face down on tables or dashboards without sliding. Rubberized covers shield volume and power buttons while keeping them fully accessible.
Greg had been using my old Speck case which lasted us combined almost 2.5 years with very little wear and tear. He’s expecting this case will live up to the same expectations, but that he can upgrade his phone and eventually case, too. (Yes, you can get this case for newer phone models.) The alarm and volume are not impacted by the extra protective features or by carrying your cards and cash along with you.
Forgetting to plug your phone in, does however impact that. We’re thankful that our phones can save us from time to time…and that by protecting with Speck we have returned the love to our phones.
Until end of day DECEMBER 15, 2015 ONLY: Save 25% on all Speck Products, site-wide, by shopping at SpeckProducts.com! Last day for Christmas shipping is December 16!
Speck creates award-winning cases designed to make an impact – and take one. Since 2001, we’ve been making distinctive products for the world’s top smartphones, tablets, laptops, watches, and backpacks. We deliver a balance of artful design and military-grade protection, for a difference you can see and feel. Our roots are in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the intersection of design and technology, inspiring us to craft masterfully engineered products. We believe that excellence is in the details, which is why we create cases that enable you to go more places and enjoy more from your mobile devices. Get to know us at speckproducts.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my phone lately, and I am about to attend several blog conferences (a place where I am going to rely on my phone to keep me from missing out!). It hasn’t been holding battery and is barely connecting to my home WiFi, so I’m using tons of data when I really need it for my trip. The plan is to follow these phone tips for conferences that I’m about to give you. Stay tuned on social media to see how it’s going.
Let’s start with the important thing – having power for your cell phone. You don’t want to miss out on a tweet that you won a grand prize, right? To maximize your battery power:
Turn your phone off at night for charging. Your brain will constantly be in “what am I missing out on” mode and want to check it all night long if you leave it on. You’ll need the rest, so let your body and phone sleep. What? You use your phone as an alarm? Me too. But there’s this brilliant invention that hotels have…an alarm clock OR a wakeup call. Use ’em.
Switch to a black background. It’s just a few days, and your phone will use a lot less power.
Turn off the WiFi. Sure, it’s free, but there are going to be so many of us trying to get that signal that it’s not going to be easy to get a chunk of it. Searching will drain your battery fast! Same with Bluetooth.
Know what apps drain the most. I can only speak to Android / Samsung, but if you go to your settings, check out “Battery” and see what apps are draining your battery. Turn them off, or consider removing them during the conference. Always close apps when you are done.
Consider Power Saving Mode. I have yet to use this, but likely will be.
Consider an alternative method of connecting. It’s going to be really hard for me to not be nose in phone, but I plan on having a notebook (old fashioned pen and paper) for making connections in person. I’ll jot down the things I need to tweet (like contest entries) then sneak away for some quiet time to schedule these on my social outlets. If I am not relying on my phone for everything, it will stay charged a lot longer.
Take advantage of charging stations. There are several throughout the conference floors. Don’t hog all the juice, and tell your fellow phone addicts where they are so that you have good battery karma.
And how about that data? We’ve turned off WiFi, so you’ll want to be sure you are connected and not going over your data. What do you do?
Set a limit on data usage. I plan to set a limit each day so that I don’t go over my monthly allowance. My phone will alert me when I’m close. If you share a plan with your family, ask them to do the same. (This is a phone setting that is based on an estimation, your cell provider will have the exact, so just be cautious and generous to yourself.)
Turn off notifications. Limit apps with push notifications. I’ll probably not only be turning off notifications but completely uninstalling apps that I won’t need during conference. (Keep a list of the ones to re-install.) Yes, that means email push, too. Manually sync up with your mail accounts. Related? NO STREAMING. This means turning off the games, videos (there’s a setting in your Facebook app to stop this), Maps, even the app store.
Be Social. Be social in real life – hug, squeal, talk with the people you interact with online. If you are social online, you’re likely 1) missing out on IRL connections, 2) making your followers who aren’t with you jealous, and 3) draining your data usage because you turned off your WiFi. There’s plenty of time to tweet and snap after conference – take it all in and enjoy.
Brave? Turn off the cellular data! This will definitely ensure you aren’t going over limits. I’ve been known to set my phone to Airplane Mode just to be able to use my camera and access my Memo app. It’s a lesson in what you really need.
Even braver? Don’t use your phone at all! Crutch step would be to carry a tablet device with you, but you’ll likely have a ton of swag to tote around, so you don’t want something big weighing you down. Bottom line? Be realistic with your phone usage during these conferences and truly invest in yourself. You’ll be thankful you did.
On the surface, one might think that I’m a mama who has it all together. You might think that I make getting four kids, a husband, and myself out the door look easy.
Yes, we do work well as a team. But what you see on the surface isn’t the full truth.
It’s not easy trying to manage the schedules of six people and two dogs. Someone is always hungry. Someone is always tired. Someone always needs a coffee (and no, not just mama…and daddy doesn’t like coffee…).
On the surface, you see smiling faces and put together moments. Most of the time, yeah, that’s us. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that we are just like you all.
For those moments when you need to move beyond the surface of your own lives, perhaps you could use some electronic therapy. “Moms Affiliate” asked me to share this giveaway with you.
Microsoft – Surface 3 – 10.8″ – Intel Atom – 64GB $499.99
With the integrated Kickstand, the ability to run desktop software and touch apps, and a full-size USB port, Surface 3 is a perfect mix of innovation and practicality. As thin and light as it is, you’ll be amazed at all you can achieve with this device.
10.8″ ClearType Full HD Plus Display – Makes navigation simple and presents media in rich detail. Windows 8.1 – Allows you to stay connected and productive. 64GB storage capacity – Offers room for pictures, videos, music and more. Quad-core processor – Intel® Atom™ processor with 1.6GHz processor speed, up to 2.4GHz Burst speed and 2GB RAM for efficient performance. Wi-Fi – Allows you to connect to the Web while within range of an available wireless network. Bluetooth interface – Lets you wirelessly link with compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices. 8.0MP rear-facing and 3.5MP front-facing cameras – Enable you to capture important moments to share with your loved ones. USB 3.0 port – Makes it easy to connect peripheral devices. Integrated kickstand – Allows you to prop up the tablet for a clear view of displayed content. Magnesium body – Creates a lightweight, yet durable, design.
“NO PURCHASE NECESSARY” 18+ US only! Contest starts 04/23/2015 and Ends 07/22/2015 11.59pm EASTERN. Entry options: Join Bing Rewards. Prize: Microsoft – Surface 3 – 10.8″ – Intel Atom – 64GB. “The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.” Winners have 7 days to claim their prize. If potential Prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, at the advertisers sole discretion. All prizes will be awarded.
Are you still looking for a summer camp for your kids? There are several adventures with Digital Media Academy that your ‘lil learners just might be interested in. If my kids were the right age, I’d love for them to take part in any of the following camps this summer (all information from https://digitalmediaacademy.org):
Adventures in Game Design: Make your own video game: learn concepts like game planning, character movement, collision detection, level design, in-game dialogue, playability and more.
Programming and App Development for iPhone® and iPad®: Learn iOS programming basics, while discovering how to create and program an app for an Apple® mobile device. Camp features Apple’s new programming language, Swift™.
Adventures in Music and Beat Production: Explore music creation. Campers get interactive, hands-on demos that teach basic music theory. They they use a MIDI keyboard to create different types of sounds and songs.
All three of these Adventures Camps with Digital Media Academy are for kids ages 8-12 and give them the chance to learn computer programming, app development, 3D modeling, robotics, graphic design, filmmaking, and much more.
Check out this video for more on the adventures with Digital Media Academy.
Camps at Digital Media Academy are one or multiple week hands-on experiences. Students will create projects and be taught by industry experts and tech professionals. (Information from US Family Guide.)
Interested in sending your kids to one of the adventures with Digital Media Academy? Save $75 off summer camps at Digital Media Academy with code TECHSUMMER at https://digitalmediaacademy.org. Sign up for multiple weeks and save big! Campers save $125 for each additional course they register for. Register by June 30th to #CreateTheNext best-selling app this summer!
You probably know I am kinda addicted to my cell phone, and Greg is addicted to saving money. The two worlds are colliding this month as Speck Products is bringing month-long holiday deals our way with their Speck the Halls promotion.
(Sorry I can’t spill all the beans, but use this list as a guide to prompt you to check them out daily between now and January 1 so you don’t miss out on deals to protect your Samsung or on iPad Accessories!)
I will tell you that if you happen to know what phone I have, you’ll want to head to Speck tomorrow! *Wink*
Speck is an award-winning leader of mighty slim protective cases for the world’s top smartphones, tablets, and laptops. From iPad cases and iPhone cases to Samsung Galaxy cases and everything in between, we design cases that are slim, good looking and most importantly, the most effective protection possible.
Our roots are in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the intersection of design and technology, inspiring forward-thinking innovation to craft masterfully engineered and patented designs. Our design philosophy delivers the best looking and most effective slim protection because we believe protection doesn’t need to be ugly, nor bulky. It’s all in the details; we create our cases to enable you to go more places and enjoy more from your mobile devices. Get to know us at speckproducts.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Disclaimer: I was asked to review the item or service above in exchange for compensation and/or free items. All opinions, however, are 100% my own.