Tech Tuesday: Spring into Travel Adventures with Verizon Tech

Verizon Tech provided me with products for the purpose of testing and sharing my experience. All opinions expressed in this post 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 Free wireless 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?

Ripple Safety Device

Disclaimer: I received product/service in exchange for this post about the Ripple safety device. All opinions are 100% my own.

When I first was told about the Ripple Safety Device, my mind went straight to where most of my focus has been lately – to running. I even blogged about it over on mrsgregwillis the other day with that exact focus. But in thinking more about it, Ripple isn’t just for keeping runners safe, it’s great for anyone who needs to feel safe and could be a great device to give your kids as you start letting them “have some wings”.

Ripple Safety Device

Here’s what Ripple Safety shared with me that made me say yes, this is something I want with me:

Ripple is not another panic button safety device. It is personal safety for the modern world – solving both emergencies and uncomfortable situations. Unlike all other personal safety devices on the market, Ripple is a tiny (size of a dime), discreet button linked to the user’s smartphone, which can be accessed without anyone noticing. The device connects users to a live, personal backup team so, instead of calling for help, the help calls you.

Trained Ripple professionals handle alerts 24/7. Click the wearable device, and the user will immediately receive a call from the Ripple monitoring team to his or her smartphone. They know who and where the user is, and have resources to immediately dispatch emergency services if the user needs it. If a user requires emergency help, but can’t talk on the phone, he or she can click three times and the monitoring team will  send first responders directly to their location.

How Might Parents Use the Ripple Safety Device?

As a parent of kids who are starting to ask to walk to their friends’ homes, I see so many good things about the Ripple Safety device. While in my experience testing out the product they did accidentally call the service once, it was quick and easy to explain what happened. What I don’t know, because I’m not ready to completely give them freedom, is what happens if Ripple support gets a click from a child and they are not right with their parent? My guess is that they’ll be able to help the parent locate the child. (Or maybe the parents who do this are even more freeing than me and their kid has a phone that Ripple Support would call then escalate to mom and dad if needed?) Lots of thinking, but really loving the option!

Intriguied? You can get Ripple Safety device with one-month of support for less than $20 with Amazon Prime. Click here to add to your cart!

Don’t just take my word for it! Here is a personal testimony about Ripple from another mom.

About Ripple
Ripple Network Technologies, Inc. was co-founded in 2015 by Rees Gillespie, the creator of Ripple, and his lifelong friend, Jaime Gomez. Rees was inspired to create Ripple after his mother, a real estate agent, continuously asked him to call and check on her while attending showings with unknown clients. Inspired by wanting to ensure that everyone had instant access to a support network that can be utilized anytime, anywhere, Rees set out to create a trusted safety solution service that empowers users to live their lives knowing someone always has their back. To learn more about Ripple, visit Ripple Support or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

You can purchase Ripple Safety on Amazon!

Xfinity Moms

*articles may contain affiliate links* This post is part of the Xfinity Moms program and is brought to you by Comcast and Xfinity.

Xfinity Moms
Me and the Pittsburgh Xfinity Moms

 

Xfinity Moms

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).

Check out the cool visual guide!
Check out the cool visual guide

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.
Xfinity
Emily demonstrated watching something else on an iPad while the kids are watching the big screen!

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
Xfinity Home
Xfinity Home Equipment options

If you aren’t ready to jump all in yet – we’re not quite ready – take a look at these tips to keep your home internet network safe (from Comcast’s Voices Blog). 

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.

Xfinity Apps

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?

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Xfinity
I literally was stunned at how small the 2nd Receiver box is!

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!!!)

xfinity
Goodbye, old box! Time for us to enjoy some shows and football! 🙂

 

Nhere

Disclaimer: Posts on this blog may contain reviews or affiliate links. All opinions are 100% my own. Today’s post is sponsored by Nhere.

Nhere. It’s what is near + here! As a small business owner and over sharer and proud community member, I am so excited to tell to about this app.

A few weeks ago, I got to meet the Nhere team at a Grow Strong (Armstrong County Small Business) networking event. After hearing about the app, I was sold. Nhere helps you find out “what’s close by and get an in-depth look at what’s local, whether you’re looking for a restaurant to eat at, a bar to drink at, a museum to visit, or a park to relax in“. With a familiar feel to some of today’s top social media tools, sharing quickly becomes addictive. {Bonus points that the app is a product of Pittsburgh!}

How am I using Nhere?
For now, I’ve focused my use of Nhere around building up info about my local community. As I have events for my business, I will be posting promotions.

There is a “circle” which pulls up a map with photos “near + here”. Most of the Kittanning ones are mine and from the event a few weeks ago, so I am eager to change that with plenty more posts about my town. 😉

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With the camera feature, it’s easy to take a photo and tag it geographically so others know where to find the local gem you are sharing. For instance, the Ford Cliff VFD has a GREAT Fish Fry on Fridays in Lent so I shared their flyer as I was heading out (all full of fish, of course).

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See how the location is on my post? And others can favorite and/or up/down vote it too!

Speaking of voting, I snapped this photo of my local YMCA’s latest campaign:

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I’m excited to watch Nhere grow their business bug even more to see how it helps grow local businesses, too.

You can download Nhere for free on iTunes and Google Play (scroll down if all you see is games!). Promotions for area over a mile have a minimal fee.

You can find out more about Nhere by visiting their website or following them on Twitter @theNhere_app.

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More details from their app listing:

*Edit photos with in-app filters
*Search the GPS map for other cities and countries
*edit videos and add music from your device’s library
*follow other users and view their posts on your feed
*Upvote and Downvote posts
*Comment on posts from other users
*Gain Points for every vote, post, and comment
*Post to followers, directly to someone, or anonymously
*Add categories to your post like: food, bars, scenic, shops, entertainment, active, culture or art
*Tag friends and family in your posts
*Promote your post beyond a mile radius for less than a dollar

Gadget Grab

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If you are like me and rely on your phone or tablet to view your favorite recipes or serve as a second screen while you blog (or work your business), the Gadget Grab™ just might be a tool for you.

This tool is handy for holding your devices so you can be hands free (at home – I wouldn’t recommend it in the car). There are two sizes, one for phones and one for tablets. The Gadget Grab is available online at getgadgetgrab.com or in US retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond (find more on their Facebook page)

So, what does this “solution for trying to balance your tablet or phone” really do for a busy technology-addict mom like me?

  • Holds my phone (without the cover – I couldn’t get it to stick with my case) while I cook healthy recipes that I’ve pinned
  • Holds the iPad (we have a Mini) in a position that the babies can watch videos while I do bedtime with the big kids (again, without the cover – the “sticky” part of Gadget Grab apparently doesn’t like the ridgy surfaces of our cases).
  • Works horizontally or vertically — so I can read books and the kids can watch movies

I was skeptical at first when the cases wouldn’t stick to the grab, but there’s definitely a benefit to using the Gadget Grab from time to time.

Here it is, holding our (dirty, omg!) iPad:

20150925_180847

If you’d like to try one out, I’ve been given the opportunity to give one away. Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Adventures with Digital Media Academy

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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!

Digital Media Academy
Source: US Family Guide

 

Digital Media Academy: Geared for Girls

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As a mom who works in technology AND has three girls, I am super excited to share with you an extension on the information about Digital Media Academy last week. They have a program made specifically for girls to help close the gender gap in the technology industry. I feel it, and I hope by the time my daughters are ready to enter the workforce it will be a non-issue.

Digital Media Academy

According to Digital Media Academy (www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org), there is a challenge to be met:

Despite being one of the fastest growing fields, Computer Science has one of the highest rates of gender disparity. Researchers believe that the impact of social expectations and lack of mentors for girls contributes to underrepresentation of women in tech.

This means women are missing from a field that typically compensates women 33 percent higher than other industries and is growing at more than double the rate. The Department of Labor predicts that by the time girls in middle school make it to college, there will be one million Computer Science-related jobs without qualified workers.

Digital Media Academy’s Project based classes put girls in charge. They foster leadership via collaboration. Both of these things have proven vital in my success as a woman in technology, so I am glad to hear the Made for Girls program at Digital Media Academy is dedicated to this effort. You can find out more about this effort on their website, www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org.

Source: US Family Guide

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And if you have ‘lil guys in your life, don’t fear. There are programs for both genders starting at age 6 through adult. Check out my first post about Digital Media Academy for more information.

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US Family Guide asked me to share with you some savings for Digital Media Academy: Save $75 off summer camps at Digital Media Academy with code TECHSUMMER at www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org. Sign up for multiple weeks and save big! Campers save $125 for each additional course they register for. Register by May 31 to #CreateTheNext best-selling app this summer!

Questions? Call 1(866)656-3342 to speak with a Guest Service Representative or email info@digitalmediaacademy.org and mention the US Family Guide Special Offer.

Digital Media Academy (Promo)

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Digital Media Academy

Are you like us and looking for something for your school-aged kids to do this summer? Perhaps Digital Media Academy is the answer for your ‘lil ones! Founded at Stanford University, Digital Media Academy (DMA) is ranked as one of the ten best summer camps in the world.

According to US Family Guide, the camps allow your kids to “learn computer programming, app development, 3D modeling, robotics, graphic design, filmmaking, and much more. DMA summer camps are one or multiple week experiences taught by industry experts and tech professionals. Campers get hands-on experience creating projects using the latest hardware and software from Apple, Canon, Adobe, and more.”

The DMA Experience from Digital Media Academy on Vimeo.

As a kid, I went to something similar with my church, and today I work in Information Technology and run a blog. To say I’m geeked out by this opportunity is an understatement! If only we lived a little closer to the Pennsylvania locations, I wouldn’t think twice and would be enrolling Arianna. (You can find the locations and courses near you here).

Source: US Family Guide

 

US Family Guide asked me to share with you some savings for Digital Media Academy: Save $75 off summer camps at Digital Media Academy with code TECHSUMMER at www.DigitalMediaAcademy.org. Sign up for multiple weeks and save big! Campers save $125 for each additional course they register for. Register by May 31 to #CreateTheNext best-selling app this summer!

Deal Alert: Speck the Halls

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.

For example, here’s what you’ve missed if you haven’t been heading over to speckproducts.com or following them on Twitter (@speckproducts)…

(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 the Halls
Source: Speck Products

 

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We’re Speck

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.

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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.

Protect with Speck

*articles may contain affiliate links*

Just in time for Father’s Day, Speck Products has some options to protect your guy’s mobile devices while on the go.

As a stay-at-home dad, Greg typically keeps his iPad Mini handy for the meltdown moments that might happen while out and about with Evan and Ari. And let’s be for real – he likes to have it for trips, too. While I love the man, he’s dropped his share of devices (hence why he didn’t have a smartphone until recent). (And he is not alone…more on that below.)

When I was asked to check out Speck’s products for iPads, I knew Greg would love the DuraFolio which is available for the iPad Air and mini. It provides military grade protection and doesn’t add the bulk. So, while I don’t want him dropping his iPad, I know if he does, it’s safe. The fact that it is a slim case (almost like a wrap!) means that it won’t take up much more space than it would out of the box. We’ve both enjoyed the built-in stand, too. With this kick-stand style stand, we’ve been able to prop the iPad up on the kitchen counter and keep tabs on the baseball games while cooking dinner.

DuraFolio from Speck
Source: Speck Products

If your guy is particular about colors, there are several options including blacks, blues, slates, and reds. (Moms, there is even a pink one for you.) We got the “Deep Sea” (shown above) and it’s a perfect fit with my summer bag patterns…and my Galaxy case (which you can see if you click here then click “Caribbean Blue / Deep Sea Blue”). (Even moms like me have a habit of dropping phones!) *wink*

Luckily, the only features we’ve been able to really, truly test are the fit and the stand – no dropping so far! I trust that this case will keep Greg’s iPad Mini nice and safe. 

The DuraFolio is available for iPad Air for $69.95 and iPad mini for $59.95 at  speckproducts.com.

If a day to day case isn’t quite what you are looking for and you want to give the dad in your life a tool to help keep the kids busy in the backseat, consider the ShowFolio. This is Speck’s first in-car folio case. “It frees the user to take their iPad more places and provides multiple benefits due to the seamless shift in functionality from in-car viewing mount to folio.”

ShowFolio Speck
Source: Speck Products

The ShowFolio is available at Target and speck speckproducts.com in two colors for $69.95.

And for the techie in your life that doesn’t have an iPad? Speck Products has plenty of tools to keep your technologies protected. Bonuses? Free Shipping. One Year Warranty. Super engaged social communities (trust me – they tweeted me and engaged on Instagram!). Go check them out at http://www.speckproducts.com/ today!