08 1 / 2013
With CES 2013 officially underway, it is time to see all the latest and greatest gadgets that each company has to unveil. While many of them are similar to last years model, with just a new tweak or a spec upgrade, but Scosche unveiled something pretty sweet.
The latest addition to the Scosche line up is their boomBottle, a Bluetooth speaker designed for those who spend lots of time on their bikes. Traditionally while out peddling around you had to pop some headphones in and ride away but that is not ideal for everyone. The boomBottle holds a 10 hour charge, and fits right where your water bottle would normally go. This will allow you to listen to your favorite tunes without any wires, or any other annoyances.
Beyond being just a speaker, it has a built in microphone which allows it to double as a speakerphone, which could definitely come in handy. If you don’t ride with a device that utilizes Bluetooth there is also a 3.5mm headphone jack to plug in external sources. Unfortunately pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but this is definitely something to look forward to.
07 1 / 2013
If you haven’t noticed, the latest craze is definitely activity tracking in the form of a bracelet. Jawbone has done it, Nike is doing it, and now the folks at Fitbit are going to take their stab at it. The Fitbit Flex is their newest offering, having only just been announced, and it is sure to appeal to many. Right off the bat you will notice the colors, unlike the other options this one comes in some great colors right at launch. The bands are a one size fits all option, which makes it easier for purchasing, but harder for fitment in my experiences.
For those unfamiliar with Fitbit and what they do, they make activity trackers that help monitor how many steps you’ve taken, how many flights of stairs you have climbed, overall distance, and even how you sleep. Previous Fitbit units have all been equipped with small displays that give users their stats quickly, but that has changed with the Flex. For users to see how many steps they have taken or how long they slept they will have to sync the unit with either their phone or the computer.
Unfortunately for many, at this point in time the Fitbit trackers only sync with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (5th gen) and 3rd Gen iPad. While sync is on its way to Android devices, it will only hit for limited devices to start. This is all important because without the display, and the lack of sync, it will be hard to tell your progress as the day goes by. There are a few LED’s to help know where you stand, roughly, but that is far less motivating then seeing it is 5PM and you have only taken 900 steps that day. Additionally, since there are no buttons on the Fitbit Flex, in order to start or end your sleep for the day you will need to go to the mobile web, or mobile app (if your device supports syncing) and begin / end it that way.
Overall the Flex is a step in a great direction for the team at Fitbit, and I am definitely interested to see how users feel about it once it ships in Spring 2013. For more information be sure to head over to their site, and if you feel so inclined place your order today!
31 12 / 2012
For anyone who may “know” me, virtually or in real life, you probably have seen the amount of times I have switched devices. It is actually a bit ridiculous when you think about it, and I have realized that I need to slow down with all of that. Previously I had jumped between Android, iOS and BlackBerry, never knowing where to settle in and commit to a platform. I had an iPhone 4, and in a moment of anger I smashed it on the pavement. This left me in a situation where I needed to figure out what I was going to do, and commit to a device for an upgrade.
After comparing values, and devices I ended up with a 64GB iPhone 4S for $249. Sure, it wasn’t the newest phone at the time, but it was all I needed and something I can be content with for two years. As the days passed, I wanted a larger screen, not like 4 inches of the iPhone 5, but something to read on, browse easier, etc. My wife has an iPad 2, and I used it very rarely. The iPad Mini has been around for a little bit now, and I have read mixed reviews. Some rag on the display for not being “retina” and others say it is the best thing and they have ditched all their previous iPads for it.
The decision was not an easy one, I bounced back and forth between convincing myself the iPad Mini was the greatest thing ever and I needed one to thinking that my BlackBerry PlayBook was good enough and that I could pass on the Mini. Well, after a few weeks of debates, reading other peoples use cases, and some thinking, I decided to take the plunge.
Last Friday I walked into the local Apple store to take a look at the iPad Mini’s again, and to see if it was what I really wanted. After about five minutes of messing with it I wanted one. The decision between black and white was a tough one, and I am not even sure why it took me so long. Did I want to match my white iPhone 4S, or switch it up and have the nice dark bezel on the black? Well, I went with a 16GB black one, and I love it.
While I am still on the hunt for apps to fill it up with, and more use cases in my daily life, I can already see this is something I will use regularly. So far I am already using it to log in my Day One journal app, to organize my Dropbox folder, to read websites that I normally would be annoyed at trying to load on the iPhone, and anything else that happens to come to mind.
For me the size of the iPad Mini is far better than the size of the regular iPad. I own a 13 inch MacBook, so this fits perfectly in between the size of my phone, and the size of my computer. This small package will allow me to easily carry it with me almost anywhere I decide to go, and that is a huge benefit.
In all honesty the screen resolution has yet to bother me one bit, and it is something that was over-hyped. People are always feeling the need to have “the best” but in this case good enough is fine by me. The choice of going with the smallest storage space was knowing that I don’t travel much, and since I have moved much of my stuff to Dropbox, I am basically only adding apps to the device.
So far I have purchased a Project(RED) Smart Cover for the iPad Mini, and I think that I am going to look for something to protect the back. Sure, it is brand new, and the novelty will soon wear off, I have always been one for keeping my stuff in good shape.
The iPad Mini may not be for everyone, but right now it is the tablet for me.
31 12 / 2012
For a long time now I have been a huge fan of Dropbox. The thing about Dropbox for me was that I never felt as though I leveraged the potential enough, but lately that has changed. I find myself using it more, finding new apps that integrate, and new ways to simplify my life because of it.
Some of this new found desire to put Dropbox to the challenge came after reading a post by Seth Clifford about how he uses Dropbox, and then I realized I was not tapping the potential. With uses ranging from backing up personal files, to application installers for computer programs, I realized quickly that Dropbox could easily replace my computer hard drive, and that was something that I wanted to do.
When everyone first started moving to the cloud I thought that having an external hard drive would be a better option, but I seemed to forget that would mean I had to carry it around with me. Everywhere. What a silly idea this was, but that wouldn’t prove itself immediately. So, back to Dropbox and how it has improved my life thus far.
The folks at Dropbox have been working at updating their mobile applications, implementing new features and cleaning up the overall look and feel, and it has paid off. Recently they introduced the ability to have your photos automatically upload right from your smartphone, and this is huge for me. Since not always on or around a computer, this means there is no excuse not to upload the pictures that I took. My main gripe here is that ALL the images upload to a Cameras Upload folder, which quickly gets messy.
After a bit of thought I decided to make a folder for the year 2012 and organize pictures from that Camera Uploads folder into various folders based on each major event that happened. This took a few hours to organize, but well worth it. Since 2013 is almost here, I have started that folder and will organize as I go, instead of waiting so long. To simplify things even further I shared the main folder with my wife, so she can add pictures that she takes as well.
Aside from just pictures, I have downloaded and set up Day One, an amazing iOS application that is essentially a digital journal. While I am not using it to keep my most secret thoughts, or something corny like that I am using it to keep track of various events, different things that take place, and memories that I want to keep dated. This is great because by syncing with Dropbox, my entries are automatically on both my iPhone and iPad at all times.
I have also stored some documents that I want to be able to access at any time, and while on the go I am using iA Writer for document creation and editing. While not an ideal solution for everyone due to the limited file types, for me it works out perfectly.
Since I am quite clumsy when it comes to receipts, and tend to misplace them frequently, I will begin documenting receipts by uploading images of them. This will allow me to have the information a store may need to do a return or exchange. Exactly which application I will end up using I am not sure, and if you have any suggestions I am open to hearing them.
Beyond this I tend to store files that I want to easily transfer to friends, or something that I think I may need at a later time. Having the information just a log-in away is a good feeling, and I will continue to look for ways to further integrate Dropbox into my daily routines.
12 12 / 2012
So if you are anything like myself, you are probably looking for ways to cut the costs of living, reduce bills, and keep more of your hard earned money for yourself. Currently, I pay Verizon almost $1,500 a year to give me internet, and television. That $1,500 would be MUCH better in my bank account, or spent on a vacation, but how can I do that?
FreedomPop. Today they announced the preorder of their Freedom Hub Burst, their amazing solution to home internet. With this device you will receive a guaranteed 1GB of data per month, which may not seem like a lot but it’s free, and holds no contract with it. Additionally you can earn unlimited data beyond that 1GB by participating in surveys, and a variety of other things.
For my internet usage, this set up is one that I think is going to be ideal, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Would you drop your home internet bill for a solution like this?
For more information, and to preorder a unit be sure to head here.
10 12 / 2012
Back in February when I was with the Mobile Nations team we had a fitness month. For me it was a huge success, I was down 10 pounds, running on a regular basis, and feeling great. Then things started downhill, my fiance(now wife) had to have surgery, we had a ton of wedding planning still to do, and basically I let excuses get the best of me.
The months following the wedding life has been crazy, and I finally put my foot down and decided that a change needs to be made again. Getting back into a routine is hands-down the hardest part of it all. I can take the pain from running, I can stand to be hungry at times while I avoid certain snacks, but getting into that routine is rough.
To start I spoke with some friends, got their support, and set a goal for myself. I am currently using both RunKeeper and Nike+ on my iPhone to track what I am doing. I have also set goals with the applications that help me keep pushing forward. RunKeeper offers some great free workout plans and I chose the 5K plan to start. The plans have you doing workouts every other day, which feels like a great pace so far.
This months goal is 20 miles of running, and currently I sit at 11.1 miles on the month. Some progress has been made already, but there is still a ton more to be made. Follow along here for updates and some of my favorite accessories that help me along the way.
05 12 / 2012
If there is one electronic in my house that I love more than any other it is probably my Sonos system. For those unfamiliar with Sonos, they are an awesome company that has wireless speaker systems that are can be controlled by your mobile device of preference. They currently have Android, iOS, and desktop applications, and these applications allow you to take full control of your music.
Previously if you wanted to play music from your device you had to have a dock, which ran ~ $100 (which I purchased) and then the unit had to be docked in order to select the music from that. All of that changed today with a HUGE update to the application, bringing a feature that many of us Sonos owners have dreamed of. No longer do you need to have the dock, instead if you have an iOS device running iOS 6, you can access the songs on your device right from the application now.
While it kind of makes the dock that I have obsolete, I can cope with that based on the fact that in our house we no longer need to swap our iPhones in the dock if we want to listen to something that is on the other phone. This convenience makes the Sonos system that much better, and something that I will continue to push to everyone I know!
If you have a Sonos system, be sure to grab the update, and if you don’t have one, check them out today, and ask for one this holiday season!
05 12 / 2012
For years I have jumped between platforms, starting with Windows Mobile, then BlackBerry, Android, and now iOS. While there are many things about iOS I absolutely loved, the email experience was not always one of them. To me there were, and still are many key features missing from the experience, but Google’s recent release of Gmail 2.0 for the iPhone and iPad have filled many of the gaps for me.
Starting with the looks of the app, Google has overhauled the design, and in my opinion they have done a stellar job with it. While the white look is a bright one, that not everyone will enjoy, I do like it a lot. Second they have added multiple account log-ins now. This means that if you manage more than one email account you can have them all, in the same place, with the same beautiful design. While flipping between accounts isn’t the quickest of processes, and I wish there was a unified inbox, there is still nothing overly worthy of complaining about.
The ability to quickly and easily view various labels, move and archive mail, view threads and get notified of new mail is extremely important. For the past couple of weeks I have dabbled the thought of purchasing an Android device because the Gmail experience was just that much better, but now Gmail 2.0 has found a home in my dock, and my void has been filled.
If you have yet to check out Gmail 2.0 on your iOS device, you should do so now, simply click this link and download it for free!
23 8 / 2012
Let’s just start this off by me saying I love social networks. I have always enjoyed talking to people, whether I know them or now, and this gives me the chance to do that without even having to leave the house. Thinking back over the years much has changed in the social networking scene, and it is moving in directions that I am not sure that I really like.
Starting back in the MySpace days people wanted to have as many friends as possible, everyone had to know everyone, and you were a nobody if you weren’t in that persons top 8 friends. MySpace was great, my friends were all there, you could post in public or send private messages, bands could post music, it was easy. Then along came Facebook and stole the glory.
20 8 / 2012
Think back a few years — back to the times when walking around with a smartphone meant that you were likely someone important, someone who needed to be connected at all times. Most of us were still rocking basic flip phones, heck half of us still had a Motorola RAZR, and now everyone is moving towards smartphones. The ability to be connected at all times is great, what a luxury it is to be able to pull up movie times on the go, or find the address of the restaurant you are on your way to, but is it necessary?
While smartphones have added plenty of value to our lives, they are slowing taking away our ability to interact with people while in the real world as well. Just a few years back you could walk into a bar not knowing anyone, and walk out being friends with everyone, but now you are lucky to get a hello from someone you don’t know. In public people are often too busy checking their Facebook or Twitter, or checking in on foursquare to engage in conversation, which is likely to lead to larger problems down the road.