Ion iPics to Go Review

Left: Originally a regular 4x6 image. Right: Originally a 35mm Negative / Images: Dakster Sullivan
(Left): Originally a regular 4×6 image. (Right): Originally a 35mm Negative / Images: Dakster Sullivan

Ion’s iPics 2 Go gives iPhone users (3GS to 4S) the ability to take their cherished photo memories from paper to digital. With the help of a free app and a little black box, you can transfer your hard copy memories into digital treasures.

When I opened the box and saw how simple this device was, I started to have my doubts. You can’t get much simpler than this.

The box itself just a simple black box with a spot to place your iPhone and a slit in the bottom to slip either a 3×5 photo, 4×6 photo or 35mm negative slides. The light in the box runs off of AA batteries (included) which allows you to work anywhere, without needing a power strip to turn it on.

I really appreciate this feature because I like to work in the middle of my bedroom floor and having power cables stretched over the floor is a safety hazard with my son running around.

After downloading the free app, I did some digging and found a few baby pictures of my son that needed transferring and got to work. To start, choose the photo you want to scan and place it in the corresponding plastic frame, slide it into the box, in the app, select the type of media you are converting and then hit the camera button to take the picture. The app can fix some of the quality issues on its own, but you may need a stronger program to do more extensive repairs.

The quality wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen either. I decided to chalk it up to the quality of the negatives and pictures, instead of blaming the device itself. For the price ($49.99), it’s not a bad little iPhone accessory. If you want to catalog all of your 4×6 photos or negatives onto Facebook, this should do you just fine.

Being the picture hog that I am though, I’m not ready to use it as a means to get rid of all my paper photos just yet.

You can purchase Ion iPics 2 Go on Amazon and select retailers nationwide.

Side note: Since the iPhone 5 is going to have a taller screen, this device will not work with any iPhone model above the 4s. 

In exchange for my time and efforts in  reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

Braven 625s Bluetooth Speaker Review

Avengers Assemble! This is one mean speaker.  Image: Dakster Sullivan
Avengers Assemble! This is one mean speaker. Image: Dakster Sullivan

I might be an Apple junkie, but I’ve never been fond of wireless speakers. To be honest, I never saw the point in them. They all seemed like one more thing to keep track of and, inevitably, keep charged. But that was before I was given the chance to try out the Braven 625s Bluetooth 3.0 speaker. Now I can’t imagine listening to my music any other way. Between the ease of setting it up on my devices and the clarity of the sound coming from it, I am sold.

When I first got the speaker, I wasn’t that excited. Since I have an Apple TV, I don’t usually use my iPod or iPhone for music while at home. Instead, I stream it from my computer directly to my TV. The day the speaker arrived, I sett up on my iPhone just to experiment. Once assembled, I turned off my TV and started up my “Strength in Myself” playlist. Right off the bat, I knew something was different. When the music started playing, I was immediately surprised at the sound quality. Later, I received a phone call, and instead of talking on my iPhone, I let the call come over the speakers. I was able to hear the caller and have them hear me without any issues.

Side View  Image:
Side View Image:

Even though it will never see the outdoors, this speaker was built for the adventurer. The outside is padded with a shock absorbing material and it has its own little USB flashlight that you can attach.

By holding down the up and down volume buttons you can go forward or backwards in your playlist. If a call comes in and you want the speaker to answer it, just press the phone button and the speaker takes care of it. Pretty simple.

One of my favorite features is the battery light. When it blinks white the device is telling you that it’s at 100%; blue  means it’s at 50% and Red means 10%.  This is handy because some of my other wireless devices wait until they are almost dead to tell me they need charging. The different colored lights on the speaker will keep me from going without it when I really want to use it.

Continue reading Braven 625s Bluetooth Speaker Review

iHome iP76 Color Changing Speaker Tower Review

Last week, iHome released the newest addition to its line of Apple products: the iHome iP76 color changing speaker tower. The system comes complete with Bluetooth capability, remote, and a wide range of color changing choices to play with. I was given the opportunity to receive a review sample, the day before they were released into stores.

iP76 with my living room blinds closed / Image: Dakster Sullivan
iP76 with my living room blinds closed / Image: Dakster Sullivan

Being the Apple junkie that I am, I was really excited about my new iHome tower. Something that surprised me from the get-go was the weight and feel of the tower. Physically, the device is light and easy to move around the house. I wouldn’t say the feel of it is cheap, but it’s not as “expensive feeling” as some other audio equipment I have handled in the past.

I plugged in my iPod and started up one of my favorite playlists. The sound quality was pretty good. When it comes to the bass, I didn’t notice much. Since I don’t care for a lot of bass anyway, this doesn’t bother me at all.

The device has several great features including auxiliary output. It’s also compatible with most iPod devices. This part helps me out a lot because I have an older iPod that I like to use sometimes.

Continue reading iHome iP76 Color Changing Speaker Tower Review

Easily Charge Devices at Home or On the Go With Idapt

The Idapt i4 Universal Charger. Image: Idapt

These days, most of us have several electronic devices that have specialized charging cables. Keeping track of them, and remembering to bring them when we travel, can sometimes be a challenge. One solution to this problem is to use a specialized charger that can charge multiple devices at once.

The Idapt i4 Universal Charger is one good example. It is extremely easy to use and is lightweight. You just plug the necessary adapters into the three spots in which you’ll charge your devices, plug in the i4 unit, and then plug in your devices. The lights for each spot are green when nothing is plugged in, but turn to an orange-y red when their devices are charging. This changes back to green when the devices are fully charged. When you’re not using it, you can turn off the unit, saving electricity.

miniUSB tip. Image: Idapt

The i4 came with six different tips including an iPod/iPad tip (though I’m not sure I’d balance my iPad on the thing), a miniUSB, two microUSBs, a Samsung 4, and a Nokia 2. You can also order additional tips for other devices from their website, for $9.99 and up. There are many to choose from including one the charges AA batteries. Since almost all of our devices plug into the iPod/iPad tip, they were fighting for real estate, having to take turns. But we could order two additional iPod/iPad tips and then charge three iThings at once.

Since everyone has a different set of electronics, you can customize your collection of tips based on your charging needs. It is compatible with over 4,000 devices, which you can look up on their Device Compatibility Check list. Additionally, there is a USB charging port on the side, which allows you to charge a fourth device at the same time.

The Idapt i4 Universal Charger retails for $59.99. It is very easy to bring instead of multiple chargers when you’re going somewhere, or if you want an extra location in your house to charge things, perhaps on your bedside table. It is also good for when you don’t want to deal with multiple cables, or for when your friends come over and forgot their own charger.

Note: I received an Idapt i4 Universal Charger for the purposes of this review.

Enhanced by Zemanta

iCade Mobile — Lets Play!

Hey Bumblebee! Give me that back!! Image: Dakster Sullivan
Hey Bumblebee! Give me that back!! Image: Dakster Sullivan

The iCade mobile is the newest addition to the iCade line. Designed for iPhone / iPod touch devices, this little guy is a nice addition to my pile of iDevice accessories.

One of my geeky obsessions is anything that says it will work with my iPhone / iPod. From the moment it first arrived, I was eager to try it out. The iCade is only compatible with certain games, so I checked out their website to decide what to play.  From the list of compatible games, I was happy to see a familiar title…Frogger Decades. This game has been pretty popular on the app store and my six-year old son, Brandon, has been playing it for months.

The first thing I had to do was to get it to sync with my iPod via bluetooth. After that was over with, I ran into a slight problem…the device recognizes the iCade as a keyboard, so if you need to go to the app store to download games, you will need to turn the iCade off while you do it. Otherwise you wont be able to search for games or enter your password to install them.

I finally had some games downloaded and started to play. After a few minutes of game time, it felt like I had someone watching over my shoulder. I looked up and saw Brandon eagerly waiting for his inevitable turn. He was convinced that after watching me for a few minutes that he could play without any instruction. The funny thing is that after I handed it over to him, I discovered  he was right. He didn’t need any help  at all. He was excited to see some new games on the iPod, but he wasnt that interested in them. His focus was all on Frogger.

After playing with it for a little bit, we noticed he had made some significant progress in the game. Brandon was doing well with Frogger Decades before the iCade mobile, but he made some lengthy progress while playing with it.

I wish it would work on games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Megaman, but maybe that’s something they can work on for a future update. I can’t say anything about the battery power since we haven’t fully drained it yet. So far, its holding its own after being played with for thirty to forty-five minutes at a time.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with the iCade Mobile. I’m not sure how much it lives up to its big brother, the iCade, but for a little guy, it packs a nice little punch.

The iCade Mobile is available from ThinkGeek, Amazon, Best Buy, Target and various other retailers. For a complete list, check out ION Audio’s website.

In exchange for my time and efforts in  reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

Charge On The Go With myCharge Portable Power Bank 6000

myCharge Portable Power Bank 6000, Image: myCharge

It’s a problem when you have one device running low on batteries, but it’s even more difficult when you have two or three all in need of a little juice. I’ve run into this on road trips with my family. We’ve each got a gadget but the car only has two outlets so that means a spiderweb of wires and splitters. It also means we’re all searching for outlets at hotel stops and then trying not to leave anything behind the next day. The myCharge Portable Power Bank 6000 is an easy solution to this problem.

Continue reading Charge On The Go With myCharge Portable Power Bank 6000

Fathers Day Gift Guide – For the Kid at Heart

Stormtrooper and Son
Image: Copyright Kristina Alexanderson

I’m lucky to have a husband who is a kid at heart because it makes shopping for him easy and fun. Most of the time, I can get his presents at my local toy store or comic book shop. It was this unique trait that inspired me to put together the ultimate Father’s Day gift guide for the kid at heart.  So, without further ado, I give you the gift guide for the dad who prefers Transformers over ties and Lego bricks over soap on a rope.

Optimus Prime Image: Hasbro
Optimus Prime Image: Hasbro

Hasbro Transformers Prime Line
If there’s one thing that is always on the top of my husbands list, it’s Transformers. The latest addition to the Transformers toy line is based off the latest animated series, Transformers Prime. If your children like them as well, I would suggest you get them the new Bot Shots so that dad can have his transformer all to himself on Father’s Day.

Hasbro Battleship / Hasbro Game of Life zAPPED
Give dad the gift of family time with Hasbro Battleship and Game of Life zAPPED Edition. These games are sure to get the family together again and again.

LEGO Deathstar
For the Star Wars dad, check out the Lego Deathstar. A fellow 501st Legionnaire and Father requested that I put this on the guide as a hint to his own children.

The Infinity Gauntlet Image Copyright Marvel Comics
The Infinity Gauntlet Image Copyright Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics Infinity Gauntlet Graphic Novel
Considered to be one of the Marvel’s best sagas, The Infinity Gauntlet holds its place in Marvel history. Most recently the main villain, Thanos, was seen during the end credits of The Avengers. If you paid attention in Thor, you might have also caught a glimpse of his famous gauntlet. For the Dad that’s fan of the Avengers, make sure you pick this up for him. He wont be disappointed.

Continue reading Fathers Day Gift Guide – For the Kid at Heart

Survivor iPod Touch Case: Rugged, Yes, But Kid Friendly? Not So Much.

Griffin Survivor iPod Touch Case, Image: Amazon

My kids saved their pennies for months to buy their own iPod Touches. They even made charts to keep track of their progress and see how close they were to heading down to the Apple store. It was a big day when they finally had enough money, and they happily came home with two bright shiny pieces of tech in their little hands. This was a nearly $200 purchase once you added in the case, so we admonished them to be very, very careful.

We warned that if they were careless and broke these, we were not going to turn around and just buy new ones. I have to say, I was pretty impressed because they did treat their iPod touches like precious cargo. Then one day my almost 10-year-old came to me nearly hysterical. Her elbows and knees were bleeding and tears were streaming down her cheeks. And clutched in her hand was an iPod touch with a completely smashed screen.

Continue reading Survivor iPod Touch Case: Rugged, Yes, But Kid Friendly? Not So Much.

Disney’s “It’s a Small World” Interactive iOS App

Loading Screen of the "It's a Small World" App © Disney
Loading Screen of the “It’s a Small World” App © Disney

Anybody who knows me personally will know that I am an enormous Disney geek. Interestingly, for me it is not so much about the films as it is the theme parks. There are paintings all over our house of the parks, I have a collection of plates and collectables and several boards full of trading pins. The best present I received this Christmas was a surprise from my husband, a set of figures based on characters who appear only (or mostly) in the parks, the yeti from the Matterhorn, Figment from EPCOT and a Ghost from the Haunted Mansion were included amongst others. So when I heard that Disney were releasing a story app based on one of their most beloved (or possibly infamous) rides, “It’s a Small World” – I absolutely had to try it out.

I will first answer the question that every single person familiar to that ride is currently asking, yes it does include the song. However this is a version of the song that has been toned down to more instrumental and melodic background music, rather than the invasive song well known to Disney park patrons. The music hums away in the background and provides a perfect score to the story without being intrusive. That’s until you get to the very end when the chorus of the original song pipes up on repeat until you hit the menu button and you’re stuck with it in your head for the rest of the day.

All the scenes are beautifully drawn & use vivid colours © Disney
All the scenes are beautifully drawn & use vivid colours © Disney

The story itself is based on the lyrics and take the reader on a journey through a series of beautiful settings based on different countries and cultures. Each scene is accompanied by a single line from the song and features a variety of interactive elements that can be activated by clicking on parts of the image. Clicking an animal might cause it to make a noise, a boat might sail off across the sea or a child might laugh and blow a kiss. The app automatically pans across the image, however you can use your finger to drag the image back and revisit parts of it. All sorts of countries and cultures are represented from the Arctic to Africa, Japan to London.

The menu screen with spinning wheel to select a scene © Disney
The menu screen with spinning wheel to select a scene © Disney

Inbetween scenes a hot air balloon sails onto the screen to take you on the next stage of the journey as the scene loads. If left alone, the app will automatically work its way through each line/scene of the song, however the menu does give you the option to jump to any you choose through a nicely designed animated scrolling wheel. This can be accessed at any time throughout your journey and also allows you to return to the home page.

The day after I received this app, I switched it on and handed my phone over to my two year old. Despite the app being rated 4+, my son found it easy to get to grips with; he was quickly poking at things and getting dogs barking and bagpipes playing (in case it isn’t obvious – this is NOT a quiet app.) I do have to admit that the app hasn’t held his attention for long, however I can honestly say that I think this is simply a phase he is going through as none of his previously favoured apps have been left running very long lately either. Because of the auto scrolling, he was able to move through the different screens without needing my help and if his attention span was longer, he could easily have worked through the full app.

The word "laugh" appears as you tap a laughing girl © Disney
The word “laugh” appears as you tap a laughing girl © Disney

The app would also work well as a simple short story book for an older child, each line is spoken aloud so no reading skills are required, however the words are printed on screen for those learning to read. Do remember however that as this story is based on song lyrics, there are not that many lines so the app’s value as a “learning to read” tool is limited. Certain characters also produce a written word that relates to the action they are performing when they are tapped, these are simple words such as “give” and “laugh.” The app contains one other small feature, a karaoke screen which sings the chorus with the words up on screen and a traditional karaoke bouncing along on top of them. This is the same screen that appears at the end of the story but it can be accessed directly from the main menu. I suggest you don’t tell your kids about it if you ever want to get the song out of your head.

As a Disney park enthusiast, I thoroughly enjoyed this app and would happily sit and watch the story unfold even by myself. I would love to see a range of these interactive story apps based on other Disney park rides – the Haunted Mansion being my number one desire – and if this is the quality benchmark then I’d be very happy indeed. If you’re not a Disney fan this app won’t win you over, however given the subject I feel that an app like this was always aimed at existing enthusiasts rather than a more casual market. All together this is a beautiful looking app with a simple interface and lots of fun to be had within, please make more Disney.

“It’s a Small World” is available for iPhone and iPad for $3.99/£2.49. A copy of this app was provided free for review.


Go ahead… Chew on my iPhone!


The iSkin saves my iPhone once again!

I find myself constantly rescuing my electronics from the teething mouth of my 10 month old son. He has been around Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads, etc., since he was born. He is constantly climbing over his 2.5 year old brother, his dad, and me to get to whatever piece of electronics is lit up or being used at that exact moment. He has a bad habit of sticking the aforementioned electronic right into his mouth… I’ve even had former Apple store employees tell me that they would give their little one an iPhone or iPod to play with if it weren’t for the drool ruining it.

Anyways, as you might be able to tell I’ve been on the hunt for covers for all of our devices to keep them safe from little fingers (and mouths), in addition to being stylish and utilitarian. I’ve tried many cases and for the most part they get the job done, but they get dirty or broken, or they have removable parts that are too small for kids or they are down right ugly. So when the makers of the iSkin products introduced their Microban® technology in their covers, I was intrigued. Since Microban® inhibits the growth of odor-, fungus- and stain-causing bacteria on whatever product it is embedded on, I figured it might be a solution to my case problem.

The iPod Touch 2G Duo case was the main reason for doing this review. My 2.5 year old son has an iPod Touch that we allow him to watch either in the car or other occasions when he needs a few chill out moments. He uses it to watch movies, play games, do flash cards, and so many other things. We bought it refurbished because we knew he would put it through the ringer. I am happy to say I love this case for him. On numerous occasions he has managed to smear the entire case with peanut butter and jelly, and all I have to do is wipe it down with a wet wipe, and it is good as new. If I don’t catch it in time, and the food dries on, I can just pop off the cover and scrub it down in the sink. The iPod Touch cover is easy to hold on to, and has nice padded corners and edges for those oh-so-frequent “drops” across the room. The case comes with a screen protector film which is pretty similar to any other screen protector film on the market. It also comes with a snap on-off plastic cover to protect the screen if it gets thrown in a purse or a diaper bag. I love the idea (and it would probably be great for adults), but the fact that it isn’t actually attached to the case means that my little guy figured out how to take it off and toss it away in a matter of seconds. Another thing that I love about this case is that it is tight on the phone.  Some silicon cases are easily taken off, and they stretch over time. This case is tight and isn’t easy for little fingers to get off.

The iPad Duo case is nearly identical to the iPod case. Its just as durable and can easily be washed. It is perfect for kids of any age, and has completely won over my husband. He thought he would miss having a stand feature built in to the case, but he doesn’t. The case stays SO much cleaner then when he had his faux-suede cover on, and it looks cool! It is nice that the case leave enough room to properly fit a docking cable without interference. If I had one complaint, it would be that the imprint for the locking button needs to be more defined because it is not easy to find by touch, and it is a button you are generally looking for quickly.

The iPhone 4 Solo case provides all of the same features as the iPod case, however, it doesn’t have a plastic cover. I have to say I love using this case when I go to the gym to work out. The silicone is sticky enough to stay on the treadmill where I put it, and I don’t need to worry about getting sweat on it, since I can just pull it off and scrub it down when it gets gross.

I also love the earTones with the MicroBan® technology for the same reason, I don’t have to worry about them getting too disgusting, and I can just gently wipe them down after a hard workout. I love the sound from these earbuds, and especially like that they have a built in microphone and remote, so I don’t have to stop my workout to take a call. Oh, and if a friend forgets their ear buds, lend them these, since they have the MicroBan®, you don’t have to worry about spreading germs.

One last thing that is particularly useful when you have kids is a keyboard cover for your laptop. I can’t tell you how many times a day I have little fingers work their way over my keyboard (even while I am typing). The ProTouch FX covers can be scrubbed down like all of the other products and they don’t retain germs because of the MicroBan® embedded in them. That is a great relief after learning that Mythbusters found more germs on keyboards then on toilet seats. I can also say from experience that the cover is very good at protecting your computer from Apple juice spills and drool. Oh and check out the keyboard cover at night, it glows in the dark!



As you can see we are a family who not only uses our Apple devices, but we abuse them (lovingly of course!). I can’t recommend the iSkin line of products enough to keep our devices safe, our bodies healthy, and our minds worry free!


Reading Toy Story with his Daddy's iSkin covered iPad

Free Audio Storybooks: Get an Educational Tales2Go Subscription by January 15!

Image: Tales2Go

Tales2Go, an audiobook and audio stories company, is offering free subscriptions for the spring term for schools and educational programs, including homeschoolers. (Homeschoolers: Just enter “homeschool” under school name.) They offer a wide variety of stories, of all lengths, to entertain you and your children on road trips, in the classroom, or for daily storytime. They have won several awards including being a Parents’ Choice Award Winner.

If you’ve got some kind of educational connection, visit the Tales2Go website for more information and download their free app for your iPod, iPhone, or iPad today. You only have a couple of weeks left!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Remembrance of Things Past

Photo credit: "Magnavox Astrosonic" by .:Ruby Tuesday:.

I have had a love/hate relationship with end-of-year “Top Music” lists. At their best, they’re insightful, helping me save time and money by sorting through the morass of music out there and singling out the experiences I might enjoy most. At their worst, though, they are akin to a retelling of someone else’s dreams: abstract, solipsistic…

Too, these lists remind me of time’s petty pace, are beginning to highlight how the physical experience of listening to music has changed for me. I grew up listening to 45s and LPs. There were sounds and rituals involved in listening to vinyl that surprise me now when I remember them–as if they’ve emerged from some other person’s memories: the shoosh of an album as it slipped from its wrapper;  the slight wobble of a diamond-headed stylus as it skimmed like an ocean bird just above a spinning disk; and the rhythmic, popping white noise of a needle circling in a redundant widow’s walk after the music had gone silent at the end of an album side. I once lived and relived these small moments regularly, but like solitude or liner notes they are no longer a part of my normal experience–and I am suddenly sad that they have passed without a more appreciative recognition of how they helped form me.

I remember the first iPod commercial with a clarity most people reserve for successful assassinations. Or their first kiss. I had a visceral, immediate reaction to the image of that modest-looking techie exploding into pulsating dance: I WANT TO BE THAT GUY! I wanted to experience music THAT WAY. I didn’t care about iTunes or understand what people smarter than me meant when they said, “The device is cool but the real game changer is going to be the iTunes software.” I didn’t foresee the demise of the music store or know to expect a loss afterward.  I was happy to move beyond my CD changer, my boombox, my turntable. Delighted. I adore my iPod still, but it does not yet seem to be the communal memory-maker my older, clunkier sound systems were.

When my grandfather downsized to a modular home near the Jersey Shore, my dad inherited his phonograph player: a credenza-sized, rosewood-embedded console that clicked and whirred with a cantankerous mind of its own whenever I leaned into its belly to coax music from it. Sometimes I would have to beg for whole minutes before it deigned to play a record–with each attempt, the stylus would hover teasingly over my album and slooooowly begin its descent…only to jerk back and click off peremptorily.

“That thing is haunted,” my younger sister would cry out in annoyance after each fruitless exchange with the machine.

“Or…it just doesn’t like Duran Duran,” I’d reply helpfully.

In my memory, there is no sound as beautiful as my dad playing Walk, Don’t Run at full volume through the speakers of that console and out our back porch, late on sun-slanted summer afternoons.

My mom would fuss: “Dammit, Jack! The neighbors! They’ll complain!”

My tax-accountant dad, normally the peacekeeper, would shrug and just say, “Let ’em. What are they gonna do?  Call the police?”

Rock. And. Roll.

This is somewhat morbid…but I keep a list of moments that I believe will flash in my head when I die (decades hence, I hope). One favorite is of me playing on my mother-in-law’s expansive lawn with my children. I am lying flat and the earth is radiating heat upwards through the velvety grass into my back, the boys are tumbling like puppies over and around me, and the sky overhead is the most-amazing deep blue. Everyone is laughing and safe and Joni Mitchell is playing from a boombox. Nothing significant occurs in this moment (or in most of the others in my list)–it is simply a perfect moment where I am fully present, encased in a beautiful song.

Most of my cherished memories are tied to songs, actually–and I am probably not unique in that regard. That is why “Best Of” lists have merit, I guess, why we revisit the idea waning year after waning year. Their value is not as aesthetic barometers but as reminders of moments we have had and as promises paid forward on moments that haven’t yet occurred.

12 Days of Awesomely Geeky Gifts: The DryDoc Waterproof Cases

A little peace of mind goes a long way. Sure, I let my kid play with a wide array of gadgets. And that’s the way it should be. I find that the more he plays and values the gadgets the less likely he is to destroy them. However, when he was younger that was not so much the case. He dunked a cell phone of mine in water — twice — and spilled an entire glass of water on my netbook.

Now, there’s no such thing as 100% foolproof when it comes to your gadgets and potential destruction. But there are some things you can do to help prevent the worst-case scenario. For instance, there are DryDocs. The first year my husband took his beloved iPod to the beach, he put it in a Ziploc bag and trailed the earbuds out of it, lest some sand get into the gentle inner workings. It’s a good idea, but not exactly environmentally friendly; those little baggies only last so long. But the makers of DryDocs saw the cleverness in easy hacks such as these. With a thick, non-BPA plastic (which is puncture and slash-proof) they created a durable little case meant for any manner of gadget.

The best part? You can still use it when it’s in the bag. The plastic doesn’t hinder general use — not even talking (though if you’re an artist composing on the iPhone, it might get a little tricky).  Not to mention it’s wonderfully inexpensive, in most cases under $10. That’s not a high price for peace of mind!

You can find DryDocs at REI. A fantastic stocking stuffer or last-minute present!

12 Days of Awesomely Geeky Gifts: Behold, the iPod Nano (Plus iPod Shuffle Giveaway!)

Personally, I find gifts that you can share to be the most satisfying. I’ve never been the kind of mom to cling to gadgets and keep them from my kid; heck, he’s got to learn somehow. Sure, things can be expensive, I understand that. But gadgets — even the coolest ones — when used with supervision, can be gateways into learning and creative expression. While I’m not letting my son run around like a crazy person with my Droid X, I still make sure I give him plenty of time to cozy up to it.

That said, the iPod Nano is a perfect gateway gadget for kids. And it’s a perfect gadget for moms. Let’s address the kids, first.

Music is important. Nay, essential, to life. And I believe giving kids the chance to explore music on their own terms helps with their development. Granted, parents need to be involved. But one of the things I’ve enjoyed with my son is watching as he decides which music he likes best (so far he loves Steve Miller Band and Tom Petty). And the Nano is great for him for a number of reasons. It’s got volume control, so little ears are protected from loudness. It’s got an iPod-like navigation screen (so little and adorable) that shows album art and can even display photos. It’s small enough for their hands, but super responsive, too. It’s also reasonably priced.

For moms, the Nano goes beyond just music. It’s got a pedometer, a radio tuner, and all those photos and interactive multi-touch features are great for us, too. A splendid companion for working out, it’s so much more portable than the full-sized iPods that it actually makes a jog feasible. Now if only the Nano could also also act as a time-bending device, I might actually have enough hours in the day to go for a run.

At any rate, you can get the iPod Nano just about anywhere. In my opinion it’s an excellent gift for anyone on your list.

And while I don’t have an iPod Nano to give away, I do have a beautiful blue iPod Shuffle that’s looking for a new home. What do you have to do to get this delightful piece of technology? Just tell me what song you will never tire of, and I’ll choose a winner at random. U.S. residents only; you have until Friday!

… go!

GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #6: Grown-Ups

HolidayLogoIIRegardless of what holidays you celebrate, the end-of-year festivities are right around the corner. If you choose to purchase gifts online, you need to order then in advance to allow for shipping time, backorders, and comparison shopping. We at GeekMom are here to help you with ideas for anyone on your gift list, from babies to grownups. This is the final post in our series of gift guides for 2010. Many of our writers have contributed to our series of gift guides, so the ideas run the gamut from popular bestsellers to more obscure, interesting gifts with which you may not be familiar. Chances are there will be something that appeals to you. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below.

This week’s guide is targeted at the grownups out there. And remember to visit our other gift guides that have already run: Week #1: Books, Week #2: Games, Week #3: Small Kids, Week #4: Larger Kids, and Week #5: Toys For Most Any Age, Including Grown-Ups. Happy Holidays to all!

GeekParent Wear
Show off your parental geek pride by sporting a GeekMom Tshirt from ThinkGeek, or a GeekDad Tshirt for any geeky fathers you know. There is also a GeekDad mug and GeekDad ornament available!

Shades of Milk and Honey
Mix Jane Austen with a generous helping of magic and fantasy, and you get Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. Ms. Kowal is an accomplished writer as well as amazing puppeteer, and was one of the puppeteers on the show LazyTown.

Damp Squid and How to Read a Word
If you’re interested in words, their history, and their usage, these two books will fascinate you. From the Oxford University Press, both of these books will take you on a journey of where our words come from, what constitutes a word, and how to learn more about words that fascinate you. (Photos: Oxford University Press)

This puzzle/game activity isn’t strictly for grownups, but it had to be included. Play by yourself, or in a group, and finding where all the pieces go can get as fun or as difficult as you let it.

Asus Eee PC
If you’re looking for a netbook to tote around, the Asus Eee PC is a very good option. With Windows 7, an excellent keyboard, and a very light weight, it is as useful as it is attractive. Read GeekMom’s reviews of the Asus Eee PC: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Apple App Magnets
Know someone who’s crazy about iPad and iPhone aps? These clever fridge magnets are the perfect gift. They look just like the ones on your iPhone or iPod and are just as functional, holding up scrap notes and grocery lists in style. Order a set for every app lover on your list. Eighteen magnets retail for $12.99.

Fracture: Photos Printed on Glass
Custom framing can be a drag. Literally. You drag your family portrait to the frame shop, pick out mat and frame styles, then wait for weeks, hoping the frame shop doesn’t lose your photo in the back room. After you lug the finished product home, you need to indulge in some cleansing breaths just to forget about the cost before you can hang and enjoy your portrait. Couldn’t technology save us from this fate? As a matter of fact, it can. A startup company called Fracture has figured out how to print your precious portraits – up to 11 x 14 – right onto shatter-resistant glass. Upload your jpg image to, choose any border design you like (including none), and they ship it to your home, fasteners included. Brilliant! Prints start at $8.

iPod Touch (4th generation)
The newest iPod Touch version has two built-in cameras allowing you to use FaceTime and record HD video. And it has a retina display. These are improvements over the 3rd generation version. If you can’t afford the monthly fee of an iPhone, and iPod Touch is an excellent option. Now you can have everything you can have on an iPhone, without the actual phone part (or the 3G connectivity, or the contract headaches).

iPod nano
The stylish, new iPod nanos are square instead of oblong, and they’ll clip right on to wherever you need them. Wear them on your wrist and they’ll double as a watch! But mostly, they’ll play your music for you, including FM radio. Sensitive to movement, you can shake them to shuffle to the next song.

An excellent gift idea for this year, the iPad is more than just a large iPhone or iPod Touch. Because of its generous size, it is much easier to use to play certain things, such as chess or checkers, or to do work, such as editing documents or writing email. Use it for play, for work, or for education.

Marian Call CDs
Marian Call, geek musician lady extraordinaire, is extremely talented with a beautiful voice. Her 49>50 Tour has taken her to 49 out of the 50 states so far, with just Hawaii left to conquer. If you love music about geeks, Firefly, Alaska, or Battlestar Galactica, give Marian a listen.

Ultimate Geek Pen
There’s really no such thing as “ultimate” to a geek, since the next best gadget is sure to be more appealing. But the Ultimate Geek Pen is pretty handy. It’s a ballpoint pen, a stylus tip, and a laser pointer. But wait, there’s more. It’s also a flexible flashlight and UV light.

Have a great holiday season!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Review: MathGirl Addition House iPhone App

There are many basic math apps out there, but most leave you wanting more. Doing math problem after math problem without levels to clear, goals to reach, or any extras to enjoy can get boring pretty quickly.

Enter MathGirlGames and their fantastic apps. The first in the series of their math games for girls was MathGirl Addition House, which I reviewed on GeekDad in August. It helps you learn to recognize number patterns quickly, and any child who knows how to count can play. The second, and newest, game in the series is called MathGirl Addition House. It takes the number pattern skills previously practiced and uses that as a basis for addition problems.

Addition House uses the same number patterns that you are used to seeing in Number Garden. You count the first number pattern shown and touch the applicable number. Then it gives you the second number and joins that number of flowers to the original pattern. You then touch the number of all of the flowers in the pattern together. The screen shows both the flowers—with each addend’s flowers being a different color—and the number sentence. Tap the final answer to complete the math problem. I like the animations of the flowers swooshing on to the screen. I find it easier to complete the addition problems while looking at the numbers than while looking at the flowers, but of course I’m not a new learner.

There are 15 levels to Addition House. They range from “Add to 5” all the way to “Speed Round to 99.” As with Number Garden, you have to unlock levels as you go, and can’t play a higher level until you have played the lower one at least once. If, while you’re playing a level, you need to pause, just tap the pause button.

For each problem you solve, you earn hearts. The faster you answer a question correctly, the more hearts you earn. Save up hearts to decorate your Addition House!

Once you’ve completed a level, you have the option to visit your Addition House. The more levels you play, the more items you unlock with which to decorate your house. Item prices vary, but they go up with the sophistication of the item. You can also sell back your items at half the purchase price. Some of the objects you can use to decorate include: house paint, doors, windows, roof colors, flowers, animals, a castle tower, and a mailbox. The house decorating, level unlocking, and heart earning keep kids playing the game.

If you have both Number Garden and Addition House, your world can be combined into one if you use the same profile name on each app. To do this, when viewing your Addition House, turn your iDevice to landscape mode, and scroll to the left. There you have the option to add your Number Garden. On subsequent plays, click “Update Your Garden” only if you’ve made changes to your garden in Number Garden. The view combining the garden and house is seamless. To get back to the controls, just turn the iDevice back to portrait mode.

Stay tuned, because a MathGirl Multiplication app is next!

MathGirl Addition House costs $1.99 in the iTunes store. It is a lot of fun for kids of a variety of ages, especially those that like to unlock levels and create and design their own world. While this is intended for girls, many boys will also enjoy it.

Note: I received a code with which to review this app.

Enhanced by Zemanta