Monday, April 29, 2013

Mail Call Monday- The Tech Chicks

I am on this thing called twitter (I know that I never talk about that) So, a couple of years ago I came across The Tech Chicks Podcast  Helen and Anna are some AMAZING tech.. well.. as their name says Tech Chicks.  I remember I had a chance to meet them at TCEA a few months after I found them online... and I am sure that they thought I was crazy when I ran up to them (thank goodness they were wearing Tech Chick Shirts) and introduced myself. I have had the opportunity to catch up with them virtually through their twitter Helen and Anna and through their Tech Chick Tips Facebook page, but also in person.  These ladies are pretty amazing!

So, thanks guys for being my guest bloggers today!


I’m Anna and I’m Helen, and we...have a problem. Well, WE don’t necessarily consider it a problem, but some might. We love gadgets. No, see...you don’t understand...we LOVE gadgets. We can’t really pass up a nifty gadget--you know, those little somethings that make the magic happen, that make the ordinary extraordinary, the tedious easier, and the mundane awesome. And if we were going to be completely honest, even our gadgets have gadgets. And we even have gadgets that support our gadgets. And bags to hold our gadgets. We love to share our gadgets - well, not literally. We WILL share, but we feel a sad pull when we’re separated from them even for a little bit. But what we mean is, we like to share ABOUT our gadgets and encourage others to spend money on gadgets as well. It’s about the economy really. We’re trying to do our part.

So when Andrea asked us to do this guest post, we couldn’t wait to share some of our favorite gadgets and the gadgets that support our gadgets. What started as a few paragraphs turned into more of a booklet than a blog post, so we are going to keep it to our three most-reached-for favorites (maybe a few more if we manage to sneak them in)!

First, a disclaimer...there is nothing to “disclaim.” We are not associated with, nor have we received compensation in any form from any of the vendors we are about to discuss. We just happen to like and use their products. Now, if they WANT to give us anything, who are we to refuse? If that were to happen, we’d add a disclaimer.

So let’s get started. Our favorite gadgets, of course, are our iPads. Or maybe our iPhones or iPad minis or...we’ll just go with iOS devices. That goes without saying for us, so we won’t dwell on why iOS over Android and just talk about the gadgets that support our iOS devices.

One of the things we like about devices in general is that they almost all come with a camera now. We don’t go anywhere without the ability to capture our world. We may not win any awards for our photos, but we sure enjoy the neat things we can do. Our current favorite lens add-on is the Mobi-Lens (http://mobi-lens.com/). This little clip offers a wide angle, fish-eye and macro lens, and it’s not device specific! You can clip it to your iPhone, iPod, iPad or those other devices with cameras. Heck, it will even work with a built-in laptop webcam. You don’t even have to take a device out of its case. We do wish they had a telephoto lens option, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it’s just a matter of time.

We both definitely like to use the iPad over a laptop as much as possible. While the virtual keyboard is great, when we’re taking a lot of notes or doing a lot of typing, we want a good external keyboard. Our preferences differ here. Helen like a case/keyboard combo from ZAGG.
I’ve used and liked both the one for the iPad 3rd and 4th gen (http://www.zagg.com/keyboard-cases/index.php#zaggkeys-profolio+ipad-3) and the one for the iPad mini (http://www.zagg.com/keyboard-cases/index.php#zaggkeys-mini-9+ipad-mini). I like the idea of having a case and keyboard combo when I need it. The case is protective and having the keyboard attached increases my productivity on the iPad for tasks that require a lot of text entry. These are one of the few iOS keyboards that have a natural feel and a true QWERTY keyboard layout. The cases also serve to protect the keyboards when I take my iPads out to use them with something else (I lost keys on my first keyboard that didn’t have a protective case).

Anna likes a separate keyboard. I don’t like the extra bulk and weight with my iPad and don’t do nearly as many text-heavy tasks as Helen does. Also, my iPad gets swiped by my kids a lot. When I used a combo case, they would take it off because of the added bulk. Then the iPad would be completely unprotected. I’ve been very happy with a separate keyboard. I use two regularly. I have a a Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad (http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/tablet-keyboard-ipad?WT.ac=ps|8275). They actually make one for the OTHER platform if that’s your preference. It’s a full-size keyboard so no cramped fingers and no keys in weird places. It fits in a little case that doubles as a stand to lean your iPad against. So if I need a keyboard, I have it, but it’s not attached all of the time.

The other keyboard I use is the Logitech Easy Switch (http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/illuminated-keyboard-for-mac-ipad-iphone?crid=26). OMG! This pretty much stays at my desk at work. My MacBook Pro is propped on a stand with this keyboard in front of it. There are three buttons that allow you to instantly switch your pairing between three different devices. I have my iPad propped up on a stand next to my laptop and my iPhone charging on the other side. I get a text from someone on the OTHER platform that I have to answer on my iPhone since I can’t use iMessage with those, so I quickly toggle the keyboard and --
voil√† 
-- I’m typing on the iPhone. And then I’m using an app on the iPad and need to enter user information, so I toggle the keyboard and, voil√†, I’m typing on the iPad! If you’ve ever had to pair and re-pair among multiple devices, you will appreciate the toggles. I LOVE this keyboard! It would be my travel one if it had a case and stand.

Finally, we can’t do without our New Trent everythings. We each have several of their battery chargers and can’t imagine going anywhere without one. The iCarrier (http://www.newtrent.com/store/ipad-external-battery/imp120d-portable-iphone-battery-pack-newtrent-icarrier.html)  is a nice compact size, but a little on the heavy side. It holds a lot of charge--12,000 mAh and features two USB ports; one even powerful enough for the iPad. It’s little brother, the iGeek (http://www.newtrent.com/store/ipad-external-battery/newtrent-igeek-imp99d-portable-battery-pack.html) is a wee bit lighter and carries a wee bit less charge (9,900 mAh). Both of these have special places in our bags and backpacks so that we’ll never be without a good charge when we need it. They also have a svelte baby sister which is much lighter. The actual model we use is no longer available, but the EasyPak (http://www.newtrent.com/store/iphone-external-battery-iphone-portable-battery/newtrent-easypak-nt70t-external-battery-ipad-battery-pack.html) is close. This is a good one for the purse or the bag you always have with you for emergencies. What we like about New Trent over the other brands we’ve tried is the power button. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s our best guess that this is why the New Trent devices seem to hold their charges so much longer than any of the other brands we’ve used. Even when it’s been a good month since we’ve had to reach for the iGeek or iCarrier, it’s still packing a full or nearly full charge. Whether it’s long days at work, play or travel, we never worry about being without our devices because the battery has died.

We could certainly go on and on about our gadgets and the gadgets for the gadgets and the gadgets we wish we had and the gadgets we wish existed, but we’ll spare you the ramble. We thought it better to share those go-to items we don’t like to ever be without. Thinking back to our initial point, let’s not think of it as a problem. Let’s think of it as celebrating inventiveness, inspiring creativity, and supporting the economy. Jump on the gadget wagon and share your favorite, can’t-live-without, go-to gadgets!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Magnificent- #Quest2Matter and Movie-Spring Cleaning Monday!


Magnificent Monday is all about Choosing 2 Matter!  I have had the opportunity to guest blog for Tim Holt.  I of course had to talk about International Dot Day and #Choose2Matter.  I so agree that it is so very important to remind those around us that they are important, but also continue students and adults alike to make their mark in this world.  Angela Maiers is on another mission and this one is MAGNIFICENT!


Quest2Matter

 "The Quest2Matter will spread the "You Matter" message to millions of students around the world   and inspire them to act to change our world." from the Student Launcher Quest2Matter site
As I look around at the students that I come into contact with from teaching, Destination ImagiNation, Girl Scouts and the various other activities I am involved in... I hope that I have taught them one very important thing.  That is to have manners.  Not just please and thank you, but manners of being kind to one another and reminding others they are important.  I think this is why #Choose2Matter and #DotDay hit such a chord in my heart (and have for some time now)  Each one of us is faced with so many hardships.. ones that might not be a hardship to others.. but a hardship none the less.  We all need encouragement.  #Quest2Matter is giving students the opportunity to share with others that They Matter.
"The Quest2Matter is a five-week, student-focused initiative that seeks to inspire students to tackle problems that break their heart. This is an unprecedented opportunity to unlock the potential of students to think entrepreneurially and innovatively and use modern tools to solve problems that break their heart."
As the website says, it is a beginning.. but not an ending.  The world is hard, and it is only going to get harder.  If we can remind others that they are important, but also encourage students to make a change. It doesn't matter what age you want to change the world.. you just need to do it!  Thank you Angela for sharing something so very important and encouraging others to do the same- #YouMatter

Want to know more? Introducing Quest2Matter
How can you help? Check out the Student Launcher Page
Want to be a student intern? Quest2Matter

Have you reminded anyone lately that they matter? Do you know a student that this would be perfect for?


I couldn't miss a movie Monday! This week is all about spring cleaning. You can find more information on my upcoming blog for the Follett Software Company.  You can also check out some of my other blogs while you are there.

This week my movie is over Spring Cleaning!  Our school is going through renovation this summer, so we have to have everything moved out by the day after the last day of school!  I am an organizer anyway, but what better motivation to clean and your organize your room than moving.

Are you spring cleaning?  What are your tips?