Category Archives: Picks

Tech Gift Ideas for Dads & Grads

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cobra. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m not the best driver in the world, but I’m also not the worst. I’m okay with calling myself an average driver with average needs.

I stick to the posted speed limit, I yield to pedestrians, and I stay within the lines (not just in driving, but in coloring books as well).

There are certain features I wish my car carried with it – not the least of which is a warning light that would illuminate whenever I was about to obey the law and incite a fellow driver’s road rage. They’re probably working on that in a lab indirectly somewhere right now (along with edible turn signals since drivers don’t seem to use them for anything else).

Heading out with the family? Heading back to school? Dads (and grads) could use better tools to further enhance our driving experiences, but we’re not necessarily the kind who will pull over and ask for directions. Sometimes, you have to gift us with technology before we will accept it into our lives.

I was sent an Escort Max 360 radar detector, and my immediate thought was: “I’ve never felt like I needed one before, so how will this tool actually help me as a driving dad?” Then I saw the “Posted Speed Limit Data” feature and got very excited. Yes, this device knows the posted speed limit in your location and will warn you (unlike your car) when you’re going over.

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I’ve wanted something like that for the longest time, and I can’t tell you (as someone who respects the law) how genuinely excited I was to see this. Yes, it’s a system with dual front & rear detection, arrow indicators to point out the source of a radar, GPS-powered for rejecting false alerts, and lightning-fast data detection – but all of that intelligence means nothing if you’re playing fast and loose with the rules.

Yes, I’m a stickler – but that’s what keeps me (and others) safe on the road.

I also like planning ahead, so my trunk has a tiny kit with all sorts of emergency accessories in it. As soon as I saw the Cobra JumPack – Tiny but Mighty, I knew it would be a permanent part of my prevention pack. With it, you can not just rapid-charge your favorite mobile devices, but actually jump start your car multiple times (on a single JumPack charge). And it has a little LED flashlight built-in!

Okay, the smallest things often get me the most excited. Does your portable battery pack have an LED flashlight built-in? Didn’t think so. Oh, and it also comes with jumper cables – without any worry about needing another vehicle to help you start moving again.

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You don’t need to wait for a specific occasion to gift a dad or grad the right tech tools – they may not know that these experiences exist, so why wait another day to enable them to become a better-prepared driver?

I wouldn’t recommend waiting too much longer – because they probably needed these tech tools last week at some point.

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The First Pen I Ever Loved

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BIC 4 Color for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

As a child, I was an odd duck (though some would contend that I maintain a similar level of peculiarity).

I couldn’t stand sports, I didn’t really enjoy playing in the outdoors, and I wanted a BIC® 4-Color™ pen. I wanted other things, too (like Star Wars figures) – but, for some unknown reason, this writing instrument captured my attention.

BIC Vader

The pen was different… then again, so was I (at least, in comparison to everybody else in my neighborhood or school). There were 4 Inseparable Colors in 1 Pen!

I remember thinking about what my life was like if – and when – I had this pen in my possession. Why, at a moment’s notice, I could go from red to green without wasting time to pick up a separate stylus. How cool would that be? And, you might recall, I was also the kid who couldn’t eat any of his chocolate-coated candies until they were first separated into color piles. Had I known about ROYGBIV back in the day, I would have taken my idiosyncrasies to an entirely new level.

Well, this was a pen for me. Different. Fun. Full of four colors. It was certainly something that would help me make every one of my assignments even more awesome (even though we weren’t really allowed to use red ink on our paperwork). Yes, I fantasized about how to better organize my notes.

You think I’m joking, don’t you?

Go ahead, laugh. I’ll wait.

But I had the last laugh, because once I finally had my hands on a BIC® 4-Color™ pen… my outlines were award-winning (if they gave awards for such things). Each level was written in a different color code, helping me further visually organize the information I had scrawled. Mind you, this was long before “word processor” was a common term. Actually, I was my own word processor.

No fancy fonts. No printer jams. Just original handwriting and a variety of usable colors for common paper types. While I cut my teeth (and fingertips) on white wide rule, I wound up preferring “college” rule because I was able to use more lines on a single sheet. Eventually, yellow legal pads won my heart… and the BIC 4-color pen’s ink.

Even today, I much prefer keeping most actionable / to-do notes for myself on some form of physical media (as in, something that doesn’t crash and has an adhesive on part of one side). Of course, I have pens aplenty… but none of them have ever been THIS pen.

I mean, what kind of kid actually dreams of owning a particular pen?! It’s been more than a dream come true for me, really – and it’s something I still treasure after all these years. Its magic will never dissipate.

We click, I think.

And now I can click with the BIC® on social, too – they’re on Twitter, Facebook, and have even created a few videos to further highlight the personalties of this pen. Of course, I’ve always liked the color red – and now that I’m no longer in school, I use red ink without fear of reprisal.

Each color has a personality – but you can only use one at a time (though, I’m quite guilty of doing the thing that’s surfaced in the “Crammed” video). Given that red is my favorite color, I’m happy to see that the red personality is in line with how I’d want to express myself with the pen.

Blue likes himself. Green is the jealous type. Black (although he doesn’t like to talk about it) is actually a blonde. Red likes it when things are correct.

I think you should know why I like red now.

Seems like an understatement to call this gadget simply a “pen.” It’s more like an awesomesauce instrument that’s capable of channeling your needs – no matter which color personality you feel like using at the time.

Get the BIC® 4-Color™ pretty much anywhere awesome pens are sold (like Amazon or Staples).

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I Hate Doing Reviews; The Future?

I Hate Doing Reviews; The Future?I hate doing reviews. Hate them.

Yet, they’re expected to be done — not by me, but by others who want to know how I feel about any given product.

Inevitably, you miss something in a review — or someone watching (or reading) expects you to cover something you didn’t think about or care to dive deeply into.

So it was my idea to trudge through a Samsung Galaxy S5 review last night after a few Russian Imperial Stouts. Great idea.

I also hate editing video. Hate.

So I tried to shoot something live-to-tape and (in my usual self-editing live style) I felt like I was just wasting my time with the “review” and wanted to quit. I decided to quit for the night, and went to bed.

I’m not quite sure I want to bother with doing a full-on Samsung Galaxy S5 review; I’ve tried coming up with a simple rubric to follow, but inevitably feel like I’m not doing it “right.”

When you force yourself to do something you hate, you actually hate it even more.

Perhaps if I do decide to publish reviews in the future, I don’t know if they’ll be done in video (certainly, not the way I’ve done it before). And, despite reviews being traffic drivers, I don’t know if I’ll be publishing any of my future reviews for the public to digest (perhaps making them viewable by patrons only).

It’s possible that with a production team around me, I’ll revisit the idea of doing reviews for the public in one way or another. Maybe I’ll just scribble out my thoughts and find a decent narrator, video editor person, or animator to superimpose those bits atop “epic” product visuals?

Maybe. Eventually.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: the S5 is a fine product that has been marred by Samsung’s sloppiness and apparent apathy in executing a cohesive user experience.

BedBug Detective Sniffs Out Critters

Even the cleanest of homes, hotel rooms and movie theaters could have a bedbug problem. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about them is enough to make my skin literally crawl. I’ve seen reports of even upscale hotels having an issue with the lovely little creatures. I happen to travel a lot, and would love to be able to quickly detect whether or not my room was infested. Thanks to the new BedBug Detective, I could be able to do just that.

This little handheld device – which should retail for about two hundred bucks – promises to detect the critters even if there is a small concentration of them in the room. Sweep it over bedding, furniture and walls. An alarm will sound when it sniffs the bedbug’s specific pheromones at 200 parts per million in the air. That tiny of a concentration is purportedly able to be picked up by the gadget.

No more worries about creepy-crawlies in your hotel room bed! The BedBug Detective should be released later this year, and will be marketed to exterminators, business and individuals.

Don’t forget to stop by our software site today.

Angry Birds Valentine’s Edition Ready to Perch on Your Device

Not only will you unlock new love-themed levels with this Angry Birds update, you can also send an Angry Birds Valentine to your friends and loved ones! Connect the game with Facebook to send the missives or use the new Facebook application.

This update brings you fifteen new levels featuring the usual types of challenges and offering up three golden eggs. Special Bing integration will add in-game links to web searches giving out information, tips and tricks to help complete the game.

Don’t forget to stop by our software center today.

How to Get Rid of Old Electronics

Over on Lockergnome, a user was wondering what is the best way to get rid of old, unwanted electronics and devices. Several people chimed in with suggestions, most of which are excellent ideas. The problem is that while getting some cash back is tempting, most e-waste recyclers aren’t compliant with healthy & safe recycling practices. There are, thankfully, several reputable – and excellent – organizations out there.

InterConnection is right here in Seattle, and donates your old computers to organizations who may not otherwise have any. Electronic Recyclers International is in the process of becoming certified. There are any number of clubs, assisted-living complexes and companies right in your hometown who could put your old machine to good use, as well.

Be smart, and make sure you properly erase all of the information off of your device before handing it over to anyone.

Don’t forget to stop by our software center to find all of the applications you could possibly need.