Things That I Like

I have been wanting to do a post for some time now highlighting a few relatively inexpensive (Nothing more than $60) things that make living with technology easier and more fun. These are all things that I have bought myself and that I think are worth the money being charged for them. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make for a much more enjoyable time with your devices. In no particular order here are five of my favorite things that I have bought in the last year.

cordies

1. Quirky Cordies – If you are like me, you probably do a lot of charging of your devices at night on your nightstand. It’s very convenient to charge things overnight. I have no less than four or five cables at all times on my nightstand. One source of frustration with this setup however is that my cables were always sliding off my nightstand and falling on the floor. That’s where the Quirky Cordies come in handy. It has a good weight to it so it itself won’t slide off and you simply set it on your table and run your charging cables through it. You can fit 8-10 cables easily if you stack them through the four openings. Now all of my cables are not only always on my nightstand, but they also are much more organized as well. Buy now on amazon – $12.99

mountek

2. Mountek nGroove Universal CD Slot Mount – I have always liked the idea of a mounted cell phone in the car. You can see who’s calling you, follow GPS instructions, & see your notifications easily and hands free, which is great. I don’t however like the typical windshield suction cup type mounts. Every suction cup mount I have used has to be re-applied every few days because it loses suction.The last thing you want to happen is for your iPhone to fall onto your dashboard or car floor and shatter its screen. Also in the Texas heat that I live in, phones can get extremely hot when they are exposed to the sunlight coming through the windshield, especially when using GPS. All of these reasons are why I absolutely love the Mountek nGroove mount. This mount comes in the box completely assembled, requires no tools, nor any modification to your car. There are no adhesives, screws, or suction cups to mess with. You simply slide it into your car’s cd drive, tighten up the little knob & you’re done! It is a very secure tight fit and it doesn’t seem to loosen at all over time. It also is very adjustable as to the size of your phone. you simply press the button on the top of it to open the sides to their widest, then just squeeze both sides until your device is snug. I like that it is a universal mount and that it works with so many different phones whether they have a case on them or not. It also swivels pretty well so you can have it face one side or the other of your car & can turn to have your phone held vertically or horizontally. Lastly it has a hole in the bottom where the phone rests for connecting a charging cable. One note, this mount does make the cd drive in your car kind of useless. As someone who never uses the cd drive in my car, I am more than happy to give it up for this mount. If you still listen to a lot of cds, this mount is supposed to work in a horizontal crack in your dashboard as well. I have not tested this out but I find no reason not to believe them. This is probably the thing that I am the most happy I found over all of the other items in this post. Buy now on amazon -$24.36

flipblade

3. Belkin Flip Blade Stand – If you have an iPhone or more likely an iPad you have probably wanted a stand for it. iPads specifically seem to benefit from some type of stand, especially for photo slideshows or watching a movie. My previous favorite stand was the twelve south Compass . It is a beautifully designed stand, very high quality, & very portable. Unfortunately, the legs that hold up the iPad are too far apart on the Compass for my new iPad mini. I really like this Belkin stand because not only does it hold the iPad mini extremely well, it also works great holding my iPhone. It also folds down very flat making it great for travel just like the Compass stand I had been using. Note. there is a newer version of this stand, the Belkin FlipBlade Adjust Stand which is tablet specific and lets you adjust the tilt of your device. I went with the older model stand because I like how I can use it with my iPhone as well. If you just want a stand for your tablet though, the FlipBlade adjust is probably the one to get. Buy now on amazon – $19.95

belkinbluetooth

4. Belkin Bluetooth Car Hands-Free Kit – I have a 2006 Chevrolet HHR. It has an auxiliary input, which is the sole way to get music from my iPhone through my speakers(not counting one of those terrible FM radio transmitters). I used to be jealous of people with newer and nicer cars with built in USB ports & Bluetooth. I no longer have to be. I purchased the Belkin Bluetooth car kit and I couldn’t be happier. Setup is simple. It is one button device. You mount the big button onto your dash somewhere where your voice can travel easily to as you can use it for voice calls. Then you have 2 things coming from the button, a cigarette lighter adapter & an auxiliary cable. You plug the cigarette lighter adapter into your cars cigarette lighter as well as the auxiliary cable into your cars aux jack. You then do the initial pairing of the Bluetooth to your phone and you are set. Now any music or sounds from your phone are going through your car’s speakers and you can easily take and make phone calls completely wireless. When you start your car the button will be red. Simply press the button once and it will connect to your phone, turn blue, and start playing your music. If you receive a call you press the button to answer, it will automatically pause whatever you were listening to. Press it again to hang up, and your music will begin playing again. Use the same button to play a song, pause it, or double tap it to skip to the next one. You can even use Siri by holding the button for a couple of seconds. Another nice touch is that the cigarette adapter has a USB port built in so that you can charge your phone while in the car. I chose this thing over replacing my cars radio with a new deck for a few reasons. One, I like how my stock radio looks. Two, I can take this thing very easily into another car and use it there. Three, it is a lot cheaper than replacing my stereo. It is amazing to me how affordable it is to have Bluetooth hands-free calling as well as music streaming in your existing vehicle (provided that your car does have an auxiliary input). Buy now on amazon  – $54.99

mediabridge

5. Mediabridge Portable Surge Protector – A must have for the road warrior. This thing is really quite simple to explain. It turns 1 outlet into 3 as well as adding two high powered USB ports for charging, as well as being a surge protector for everything plugged into it. Also, the plug part of it folds flat for easy travel in your bag or backpack. This thing will make you very popular at the coffee shop, airport, or wherever there are a shortage of outlets. It’s just a really great product. Buy now on amazon – $19.95

   

How To Add My Blog To your Home Screen

I wanted to quickly show you how to add my blog to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch home screen. I do this with some of the blogs I follow and thought I would post a quick tutorial. It is pretty straightforward. Here are the steps on how to do it –

1. Go to http://www.ibmacin.com on your safari browser and let my blog load.

2. Tap the share button at the middle of the bottom of your screen.

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3. Tap the icon in the middle that says add to home screen.

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4. Name your new icon whatever you would like, then press the Add button in the upper right corner.

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5. You now should have a shiny new ibmacin icon on your home screen!

The Daily

ipad-the-daily I have been wanting to give my thoughts on the topic of newspapers & magazines for the iPad. This is a very interesting topic to me, for a couple of reasons. 1. I love to read news, always have. 2. I believe that the iPad is an excellent way to consume news. The iPad completely changed the way that I consume news. In my teenage years, before everybody had smartphones and nobody had tablets, I read my local newspaper every day, including weekends. I also read 4 or 5 magazines every month. This is how I got the vast majority of my news. Fast forward to today and I haven’t regularly read a paper magazine or my local newspaper in several years. Between my iPhone & iPad I just no longer have the need. I was an early adopter of the original iPad & from the very start I found several news apps (USA Today, The New York Times, etc.) that I really liked. But I got very excited when on February 2nd, 2011 Apple held a press event for a brand new iPad only newspaper called The Daily. It was made by News Corp, & it was to be like no other newspaper before it. It would be rich with video, real time weather, your favorite sport team’s scores, & could be updated throughout the day. Needless to say I was pretty stoked. It was available for free for around a month or so & I immediately downloaded it. It was definitely neat but it wasn’t without it’s problems. The daily issues themselves were very large files that took a long time to download before you could even start reading, it crashed a lot, and the articles, while definitely passable, never really got in depth as much as I would have liked. Even with these shortcomings, I stuck with it. It was still put together really well. I kept reading all the way through the free trial period and onward. It was $39.99 a year to subscribe & I happily paid it. That was a bargain compared to a subscription for my local newspaper. Time moved on and while they made significant improvements over the next few months, (Downloading the issues in the morning so it would be ready for you when you woke up, making the issues retina quality, etc.) it just wasn’t as good as it could have been I felt. It still regularly crashes on me to this day. So I wasn’t too surprised when on December 3rd, 2012 News Corp announced that they were ceasing operations for The Daily, with the last issue coming out on December 15th. The main reason that The Daily is being shutdown is not because of the few minor gripes I had with it, it’s that is was a huge money hole. The Daily had over 100,000 paying subscribers, yet was losing an estimated 30 million dollars annually. That is crazy. In a world where news is constantly changing and most major stories show up on Twitter within minutes of happening, I’m just not sure that a paid iPad only daily newspaper with 150 highly paid employees and  a 25 million dollar annual cost is the answer. People don’t wait for the news anymore. It’s out there on the internet for free immediately. So while I enjoyed my time with The Daily, I understand that it couldn’t last. That said I still hate to see it go. I have grown very accustomed to reading it every morning when I wake up. So what do I do for news now? I’m not sure that I will ever just have one main source for news anymore. I think I will just use a combination of apps, websites, and social networks from here on out. On the app front I really like USA Today for the basic news. I use ESPN Scorecenter for most of my sports. I also really like Flipboard, both the iPad & the iPhone versions are fantastic. I use Google Reader, Reddit, Buzzfeed, and of course Twitter on the web, & I subscribe to the NextDraft & the Now I Know newsletters, which are both great. I do think that a paid news magazine can make it on the iPad. I look to the excellent The Magazine from Instapaper founder Marco Arment as a good example. New issues are delivered every two weeks. It has a certain target audience that it caters to, is designed extremely well, new issues are tiny file sizes which download in seconds, & it’s only $1.99 a month. It has been very successful and profitable so far. So I do think that certain types of news or magazine apps can be very successful on the iPad. They just need to be realistic with their budgets and (I think) need to have a specific audience in mind. Anyway those are my thoughts on the subject and I would be happy to hear of any other good news sources out there that I could check out.