December 8, 2016

Bluetooth Tracking Device

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Slightech and includes affiliate links. If you purchase using my affiliate link I will earn a small commission.

One of the great things about tech is how it can help us in our daily lives. Bluetooth trackers are one of those small things that can make a big difference. Especially if you spend time looking for things like your keys, your phone, where you parked your car, your kid’s jacket, or even a purse or backpack.

There is so much stuff that we need to keep track of, it’s no wonder we walk out of the house without things. I’ve been a fan of bluetooth tracking devices since I first found them on crowdfunding sites a few years ago. Most though, are utilitarian and the size and design aesthetic is much more industrial than I’d like sometimes.

Recently, I was contacted by Slightech, the maker of the Mynt bluetooth tracker and offered one to tech drive. Because I’m a tech junkie and I was heading out of town for about 3 weeks I felt it would be a great time to check it out in comparison to the other trackers I use.

I’ll jump to the recommendation first and just say, GET ONE! Well, get more than one. While I like the others I have, the Mynt is nicer looking and doesn’t scream “I’m a tracker!”. For about 20 bucks you have such peace of mind of knowing where your stuff is at.

Mynt bills itself as a more than just a tracker. It’s an anti-loss device with finder capabilities, but it can also work as a remote for your smartphone camera shutter or as a “clicker” for music on your smartphone or, how cool is this, a remote for slide presentations on your Mac. And while the tracking is what I was focused on, it’s kind of nice that it’s capable of more than just that one thing.

The top things I liked about the Mynt bluetooth tracker that has me recommending this device:

  • Mynt BatteryReplaceable battery – seems like a little thing, but it’s nice to have that flexibility if you’re attaching it to your child’s lovey, tucking it into your luggage, or storing it in your car’s glove box. It’s an environmentally friendly aspect of this tracking device that doesn’t exist in others.
  • Size and design – it’s very flat  and is a smooth oval shape.  While I love my Tile Slim, which is flatter than the Mynt, the overall size moves the Mynt to my top choice. The design is well thought out too. It has the option of attaching to a key ring or other more permanent connector, you can stick it on with (provided) sticky dots, or you can use the low profile easy-attach string to keep the bulkiness to a minimum.
  • Color options – this is more of a preference and has nothing to do with functionality, but it’s nice to have choices. The blue device that I have is a very cool slate-like dark blue. When I show it to people I get lots of compliments on the color. If you want a color that will be more noticeable, you can get the gold one. If all  your tech is silver, grab a matching Mynt.
  • Alerts – if you’ve ever walked out of a movie or restaurant or dressing room at a store and a few minutes later realized you didn’t have your phone, you know that panic feeling that comes over you. But imagine being able to attach one to your child’s favorite toy or blanket so it’s not left on the plane. Or your keys. Replacing car or house keys is expensive! Being notified when you are separated from your tracker can keep the panic to a minimum and allow you to recover your valuables quickly. Almost a year ago my car key fell out of my purse on a flight and I didn’t realize it until I returned home and couldn’t get into my car. What I wouldn’t do to go back and attach a Mynt on my key fob. (In case you’re wondering, replacing electronic key fobs is expensive. Like designer shoes expensive!)

So, you need a bunch of these, right? I thought so! Because so do I. Recently BabyGirl was trying on dresses for her recital and left her phone on the bench in the little room. Luckily it was a week day at a smaller store and the associate cleared out the room and found the phone while we were still in the store. As a teen, I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds before BabyGirl noticed her phone was not on her. But had it not worked out so well, having the ability to check the Mynt app to find the phone would have kept the stress in check.

Mynt locatorIt was my Mynt that eased my mind when I nearly missed my connection because of a delayed flight. I was able to log into the app when we landed to see my bags were in DC at the airport, too. YAY! It was also Mynt that allowed me to keep an eye on my bags that arrived hours before me because I took a voluntary detour on a recent trip home from Washington.

While I got my Mynt bluetooth tracker free to facilitate my tech drive, I’ve since purchased them to give to a few people. These little gems have a great design and are great for people who travel with musical instruments, to toss into your suitcase like I did, to attach to your backpack or handbag (I do this!), or to anything you don’t want to worry about losing (even kids or grandma! Grandma would not have gotten run over by a reindeer if she had one of these!).

Works on Android, iOS, and Mac OSX desktop, and cost about $20. Available from the Sleightech store or on Amazon. Perfect for gift giving any time!

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Sara

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November 27, 2016

Hanukkah Apps

This post is part of an ongoing series of lifestyle tech as a participant in the Verizon Insider influencer group. I’m thrilled to be part of this group for the past several years and I hope you enjoy my unique perspective on tech for families and entrepreneurs. There are affiliate links in this post, which help me to run this site and buy cool tech I think you’d love to know about.

This year Hanukkah starts on December 24th. This is so exciting! No only do I have something fun to do on December 25th but I get to take advantage of all the sales. And though Hanukkah is a festival holiday and, traditionally, not a big gift-giving holiday, it’s become more and more a celebration that includes gifts. Gifts go well with latkes and pear sauce, right?

What I love about tech is that it allows everyone to get in on the games and fun smartphone apps. Even songs, lots of Hanukkah songs! So I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite Hanukkah tech, from apps to videos to small gifts to things that may qualify as ‘the big gift’ this year.

Fun Hanukkah Apps

Light My Fire (iOS, Andriod) – Created by The Jewish Museum in New York, this app allows you to select one of the many exquisite Hanukkiah from their collection. I love this, especially for college kids and young adults who may not be able to light actual candles where they live. It’s also great for little kids so they can participate in lighting candles. I think it would be a great option for seniors who may not feel comfortable with open flames in their homes or senior living apartments and for parents of kids with special needs that may not be able to light candles in a traditional way.

Menorah (iOS, Android) – This is a nice app, with music by Mo Kiss, that lets you light the candles and sing along. Again, great for those in need of a virtual menorah.

The Chanukkah App (iOS, Android) – With a virtual menorah, some history, and a virtual dreidel game it’s a mobile party! This app features the blessings in 7 languages as well as incorporates social sharing so you can celebrate with your friends all over the world.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah (iOS, Android) – An extension of the 2012 musical album of the same name, this app brings lots of fun holiday music to your smartphone with an epic musical battle between Christmas and the Festival of Lights. Something new and fun to give a tech/music spin to your celebration.

Match 8 Hanukkah Game (iOS, Android) – Tired of playing dreidel? Who isn’t! Here’s a fun little game to distract you from whatever it is you need distracting. This candle lighting game will test your skills at speed lighting. A great app for kids of all abilities to get involved in playing Hanukkah games.

Chai on Chanukkah (iOS) – A top app among Jewish families with special needs kids, everyone gets in on the festival fun!

Hanukkah Match Games (iOS, Android) – A Hanukkah twist on the traditional game of matching tiles. Fun for young kids and helps them make a Jewish connection.

Festive YouTube Videos

The Chanukah SongAdam Sandler Chanukah Song (3:55) – The original by Adam Sandler. In 1994, Adam Sandler wrote a Hanukkah song for SNL’s Weekend Update and it’s become a classic. Before this there really weren’t very many non-traditional Chanukah songs, so this is really the one by which all modern songs are measured. Most are parodies, but The Chanukah Song and it’s subsequent versions are all classics. Sandler’s Chanukah Song Part 4 was released in 2015, at a fundraiser with Judd Apatow. (Image Source: NBC)

Sesame Street: Hanukkah With Veronica Monica (2:43) – if your kids love Sesame Street, this is a fun little video of the Hanukkah story. If you like this one, check out Shalom Sesame.

The Maccabeats – Candlelight – Hanukkah (3:41) – Candlelight is a Jewish parody of Taio Cruz’s Dynamite. With over 11 million views, I find myself singing this all year ’round. Funny thing is that when this song came out BabyGirl had never heard Dynamite and months later when she did she thought it was a parody of Candlelight. True story!

The Maccabeat – All About That Nais (2:55) – Not as popular, but still fun, this parody of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass is a nice little story about latkes, dreidels, bubbies, and presents.

Six13 – Chanukah (Shake It Off) (4:34) – New to the Jewish a Capella scene a few years ago, Six13 puts together a Festival of Lights parody of TayTays Shake It Off. It’s a fun little ditty!

The Story of Hanukkah (2:15) – This is a storybook video of the story of Hanukkah geared to help young readers. Perfect for kids!

Favorite Hanukkah Tech

OK, so there isn’t really such a thing as Hanukkah tech (other than the cool electronic Hanukah menorahs) but when it comes to gift giving, Chanukkah can present more challenges than just how to spell Channukkah. Since Hanukah is a festival holiday, many of us grew up with little emphasis on the gift-giving  part of the celebration. Some small gifts for each night (candy, puzzles, games, etc.) or maybe one “big” gift (a bike, designer jeans), but gift giving has only recently become associated with Hanukkah so it can be difficult to figure out the ‘right’ gift. And that’s why I’m taking the stress out of your holiday and giving you some suggestions for gift options for your Hanukkah-celebrating friends and family. [Note: Chanukah begins on Dec. 24th this year, so waiting for those after-Christmas sales is highly encouraged!]

Bluetooth Trackers – These little devices that attach to your keys, slide into your wallet, fit nicely in your center console of the car, attach to a zipper in your luggage, or connect to your child’s backpack, are awesome gifts. I’ve used the Tile, Tile Slim, and Mynt trackers and all have saved me from what could have been stressful moments. When I switched planes (and airports) to allow for a family to stay together, my Mynt tracker gave me peace of mind when I saw that my luggage had arrived to my destination. The Tile tracker was with me on a three week trip to DC this summer and when I left my luggage with the concierge I could see it was safe. And when I can’t find my phone, these little devices let me get an audible tracker even when my phone is on silent. Retail: about $20 each

Portable Speaker – When we went to Israel, we took the UE Boom with us so we could easily listen to music. We take it with us when we travel because it’s so easy to use and doesn’t take up much space. CycleGuy loves it for taking business calls because it turns his smartphone into a real speakerphone. The UE Boom 2 is shockproof and waterproof, making it even more versatile. The UE Roll is small, lightweight, and so easy to use for those with active lifestyles. These range in price, but are well worth the money!

External Smartphone Battery – Let’s face it, we’re busy people and don’t have time to worry about our smartphone running low. Sure, we can get a car charger or connect at home. But, with music and games, social media, and all the photos, those long-life batteries don’t always sync with our busy lives. I have 7 or 8 different powerbanks, each for different purposes. I have the ultra-thin charger for those times I’m going out and have a small evening bag. My original Mophie is always in my purse and CycleGuy has one in his messenger bag. I have a few larger Limefuel chargers with multiple ports so BabyGirl can always plug in with friends.

Multi-Port USB Charger – Seriously, you need one! Instead of plugging in all over the house or fighting for outlets at a hotel, a multi-port USB charger is a dream. I have three of these and they are the best! We have 7 smartphones, a Nexus, two iPads, wireless headphones, CycleGuy’s bike light, and quite a few other things that need to be charged and we can do it with such ease and convenience. A few brands I like are Anker, this value-priced Sabrent 4-port hub, this Photive 6-port rapid charger, as well as the more permanent option of changing out your outlet to a Top Greener Dual USB wall outlet.

Of course, who wouldn’t love a new phone? Sometimes that’s a very personal decision, but if you’re looking for a smartphone that is unique and has really cool add-on options, check out my experience with the Motorola Moto Z Force Droid. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge either.

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Moana Review: Familiar and New At the Same Time

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