Hanukkah Apps, Videos, and Favorite Tech Gifts

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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Sara

5 Awesome Tech Gifts For the Procrastinating Gift Giver

Tech Gifts GuideFTC Disclosure

When December rolls around I like to think I’m completely on top of all the gifting needs that will come up. But, to be honest, there are always last minute tech gifts that need to be purchased. And, well, if I’m being totally honest, there are some bigger gifts, too, that I put off because I’m not really sure if those are the gifts I want to give. Together, this leaves me a little stressed out.

In November, as part of the Verizon Insider team, I attended an event at the Verizon headquarters to learn about some new tech, meet some of their great partners, as well as get a sneak-peek on a few of the holiday tech gift promotions that were planned. This gave me some very helpful information for those who, like me, may be needing a few gifts as the clock ticks away.

5 Last Minute Tech Gifts That Will Make You Look Like You Didn’t Procrastinate

UE SpeakersUltimate Ears Speakers – Whether it’s the UE Boom, UE Roll, or the DJ-worthy MegaBoom if you have a music lover on your list you can’t go wrong with any of the UE speakers. The Boom and MegaBoom are great for campus-living, the home office, small businesses, apartment dwellers, and anywhere your DJ skills could come in handy. And the UE Roll is the ultimate in portability.

Mophie External ChargerMophie – While devices have improved their battery life, having portable charging options is a must for anyone with an active lifestyle. I’ve had Mophie charges for years and they make so many different type that you’re sure to find one that will work for anyone on your list. Whether it’s a slim size, attaches as a powered case, supports a cause, or is waterproof you can’t go wrong with the quality of a Mophie charger.

Moto 360 Gen 2 Watch WomensMoto360 2nd Gen. Watch – Powered by Android Wear, it’s much more than a watch. Wearable tech is one of the top gifts for any occasion, and while these range from #299 and up a gift like this is perfect for the tech geek on your list. What’s awesome is that no matter which color combo you buy they can customize it with new bands and download watch faces that suit them.

Nest Smoke DetectorNest Home Products – As tech becomes more integrated at home, it’s easier than ever to add on a home protection device like a camera, thermostat, or smoke alarm. Perfect for renters and homeowners alike, these devices bring a new level of protection and information. If you’ve got a new homeowner, college student moving off-campus, or a senior family member on your list, Nest home products are designed to make managing things at home a little easier.

Motorola Droid Turbo 2 phoneDroid Turbo 2 Smartphone – I know. It’s not often you want to get someone a phone as a holiday gift. But, if your teen or college-aged child has been bugging you for a new phone this is one of the hottest devices to come out this year and can be customized in an array of colors and textures, something like over 1,000 different combinations. CycleGuy has been using his since Mid-November and likes that it has a unique look to it and isn’t like every other phone sitting on the conference table at meetings. Together with the shatterproof screen and the ability to charge the device in about 15 minutes, the Droid Turbo 2 is perfect for most anyone on your list who needs a new phone.

I’m a Verizon customer and have been for years, long before I started working with them to share about how my family and I use tech. So, for last minute tech gifts I know I can stop in to one of their stores and get any of these and be on my way. A nice gift bag and tissue paper and I get to keep my princess of tech tiara another year. Why settle for a gift card when cool gifts like this are so easy to get!

Sara

How To Recover Restrictions Passcode on iPhone, iPad, and iPod

Recover Restrictions Passcode

I am a member of the Verizon Influencer team. While I am sharing this post as part of my relationship with The Online Mom and Verizon, these are solely my thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Online Mom Media or Verizon.

Shortly after updating my iPhone to iOS 9 I wanted to remove a few apps. Only I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t know how. Removing apps is pretty easy. That is, if you don’t have a Restrictions Passcode set on your phone. Or, if you do that you remember the Restrictions Passcode.

To access Restrictions, go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

What is the Restrictions Passcode? By default, Restrictions is disabled. If it is enabled, for all iOS devices it is a 4-digit number that is something akin to Parental Controls. If Restrictions are enabled you need this 4-digit number to allow you to do things, like make in-app purchases, disable apps or features of the device, prevent download of movies with certain ratings. So, your typical Parental Control features. But since it’s more than just a way for parents to control what their kids see or use, Apple changed it to Restrictions.

But what if you don’t remember setting up Restrictions? What if you don’t remember that 4-digit number? Or, in my case, what if the iOS update caused a glitch and now Restrictions thinks it’s enabled? So, thinking may be I did set up a Restrictions Passcode I entered what I thought it would be. First failed attempt. Well, let’s try another. Then another. Then another. 19 failed attempts and now I’m locked out of my phone for 543 minutes! Fun times.

After searching and reading, and reading and searching, all I could find was that I’d have to do a factory reset on my iPhone. Right. Erase everything on my phone and pretend I just got it. Well, if that’s what it would take I guess that’s what I had to do. And since I had just backed up my phone the day before at least I had something that would restore my device to pretty much the same place.

But as I kept reading I found out that if I were to do a backup, it’s likely that the Restrictions feature would still be enabled with this unknown Passcode since the backup is after the iOS update. Sigh! By this time I’d spent over 3 hours trying to figure this out. And now I’m going to explain to you how to do it in about 30 minutes.

How To Retrieve Your iOS Restrictions Passcode Without Resetting Your Device

1. Backup your phone.Backup Screen

 

2. Download the iPhone Backup Extractor.

3. Open iPhone Backup Extractor, Click Read Backups in lower left.

iPhone Backup Extractor

4. In the new window select the backup you want. Likely it’s the top one since you just did a backup. Click Choose.

Choose Device

5. Now, scroll all the way down to iOS Files. Click Extract. I saved the file to my Desktop so it would be easy to find. Save it somewhere easy for your to find it in the next steps. Depending on how much stuff is on your phone it could take up to an hour to extract all the files from the backup.

Choose iOS Files

6. Once the files are extracted, go to the file. You’re looking for Library > Preferences > com.apple.restrictionspassword.plist

Restriction Password

7. Right click on com.apple.restrictionspassword.plist and open with Text Editor.

Open Restriction with Text Editor

8. In text editor, you’re looking for RestrictionsPasswordKey and RestrictionsPasswordSalt. Under each one you’ll see random letters and numbers.

Restriction Password File

9. Open the iOS Restrictions Passcode Cracker website.

Restrictions Passcode Cracker

10. Enter the string of numbers for RestrictionsPasswordKey and RestrictionsPasswordSalt. Cut them from the Text Editor and paste them into the Passcode Cracker website so you know they’re correct.

11. Now click “Search for Code” and let it do its thing. Depending on the number it’s looking for it could take awhile.

12. Once the number is found, enter that number on your device for the Restrictions Passcode and it should unlock the device.

It took me hours to figure this out, so I hope you find this and are able to get your passcode easily and open your Resrictions. Now you don’t have to restore your phone to factory settings and hope your backup won’t override the default and set the Restrictions Passcode again. Let me know how it worked, ok?

 

 

Sara

8 Words: Why I Never Text and Drive

8 Words Texting and Driving

I am a member of the Online Mom Influencer Group. This post is part of a lifestyle experience of sharing about mobile technology.

I’ve watched so many texting and driving videos I could probably identify them from the opening image. For years we, adults, have been bombarded with the “don’t text and drive” message. It makes sense given the increase in texting-related accidents and fatalities that were seen in the early part of the decade. Something needed to be done to reduce these accidents.

As the second decade of the 2000s came around, parents found their teens asking for their own phone. A relatively new phenomenon at the time, many parents were not aware how their kids were using these new devices. The first iPhone was introduced in mid-2007. By 2010, this new smartphone device was the standard for teens and adults. For those who were new drivers, many spent a few years watching their parents text and drive.

Our kids learn from us. Fortunately for the majority of us, and our kids, there were few consequences. But then, kids started hearing about texting and driving awareness programs at school and in ad campaigns. Those advocacy groups knew if they could get to the kids they could get to the parents. I don’t blame them, I’d do the same thing too.

I can’t say that I was a texting and driving type, but there definitely were times when I did it. Luckily nothing ever happened. Well, other than a few honking horns because I didn’t see the light change or a fellow driver screaming at me while they drive next to me like a crazy person telling me not to text and drive.

But it took just 8 words from BabyGirl to forever change my decision about texting and driving. We were at a stop light and I picked up my phone because it had been making sounds indicating I had a text message. As I was reading the message, a little voice from the back seat said “Mommy, it scares me when you do that.Those 8 words were all it took to put down my phone and commit to not text and drive.

In our conversation, BabyGirl, while buckled in her car seat, explained that seeing me with my phone when I drive scares her and makes her nervous. That she worries. Ugh! Parenting guilt began to build and I promised her I’d never put her at risk. Then she asked about me. Would I put myself at risk? Of course not, or so I thought. Alone in the car I still think I’m in control, but we all know the truths about texting and driving.

Prior to that day I had watched a number of those horrific and scary texting while driving videos thinking it could never happen to me. I watched them and would recall those films about stopping on railroad track I watched in my driving class as a teen. Lots of flying glass, crunching metal, and blood. But just like I’d never get stuck on train tracks, I thought those ads were more of a scare tactic. But the reality of texting and driving? Oh, the intoxicating sound of a text notification or the phone ringing.

I feel lucky, though, because my 8 words didn’t involve a phone call telling me my husband was injured or dead. My 8 words were not a call to my husband telling him he was a widower or he’d be burying his child. My 8 words were a wake-up call that no awareness program or dramatic video could match. My child said that my texting and driving scared her. I was hurting my daughter.

Every day we make a number of choices, especially when we drive. As a parent, our actions are scrutinized by our kids. They learn from our actions, just as much, if not more than the words we speak. Many of us tell our kids one thing but we do the opposite. And, in a number of situations the “because we’re adults” is a good enough reason to justify the different treatment.

When it comes to texting and driving, though, nothing really justifies the different treatment. Although she doesn’t yet drive, when it comes time I can’t expect her to put down her phone and focus on her safety and the safety of her passengers if I’m not willing to make that same decision myself. I can’t show her a few videos and hope she realizes the risks posed by texting and driving if I’m watching those same videos with her and yet I’m not heeding their warnings.

In this ever-connected world and the constant fear of missing out on things, our smartphone are now able to help us by creating automated replies to text messages when we’re driving. No need for us to text that we’re driving and can’t text.  There are apps and built-in options from all the major carriers. And while there is bluetooth technology so we can talk hands-free while driving, anything that distracts us can be a problem.

It seems crazy that we can’t even drive 20 minutes without needing to pick up our phone to like something on Facebook, text someone something that most likely can wait, or just scroll through photos. I honestly can’t think of anything I need to do on my phone that can’t wait until I’m not driving. Can you?

 

Image Credit: Schmitee

 

Sara

Must Have Tech For 2015

Must Have Tech Gadgets

VZW Disclosure

As 2014 comes to an end and the gift giving events make way for talk about the big game or getting fit for summer, there’s still gift cards to spend and deals to be made. Regardless of whether you unwrapped one or a pile, chance are you may not have received some things you really wanted. Or maybe you got gift cards because you’re “hard to buy for” or “it’s easier to send you money”. So now you’re faced with how to spend that loot and what better way than to make sure you have the must have tech gear to make the most of your smartphone or tablet. You may have some ideas of what you want but I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tech gadgets to jump start 2015.

bluetooth headphones1. A good pair of headphones. Whether you like the over-ear, in-ear, or on-ear models, there are so many options. Quality headphones are a must these days, but which one you choose will depend a lot on your lifestyle and how you use them. For active lifestyles you might like the Plantronics Backbeat Fit bluetooth in-ear headphones. The Jawbone ERA is a great low-profile bluetooth headset, especially if you want something a little more discreet and professional-looking. The ERA is the one CycleGuy uses mostly for business. For gaming or watching movies, there are great options from Beats by Dre and Sol Republic. I have different headphones for different uses, so it’s not uncommon to have several pairs of headphones.

portable mini speaker2. A wireless portable speaker. As a child of the 80s, portable speakers have been a very important part of my life. Now, though, they’re not the size of a small TV. Gone are the “boombox” days of lugging around 20-pound stereo systems. We’ve got an entire music library in our purse or pocket. The problem is that sometimes you want to share it and your only options are putting your device in a bowl and cranking up the volume with the hopes it will broadcast. With tiny portable speakers that easily fit in a purse, backpack, carry-on luggage, or in the glove box of a car the mobile DJ in you can come out wherever you are. The Mini Jambox from Jawbone (I really do love their products!) comes in a variety of fun colors and can be used in both casual and professional settings. I’ve heard of them being used at business events and parties when people need big sound in a compact space.

3. Apps to improve your productivity. And by productivity I don’t mean just business-type stuff. With apps to help stimulate your brain and wellness apps, or even must-have apps that aren’t on every “top apps” list you have the ability to customize each device so that you’re getting the most out of it when you’re on it. Sometimes the best productivity app is Spotify or Pandora because you just need some good music to help you get motivated. Other times, maybe you need a great list app or top news and media apps. There are tens of thousands of apps out there in iOS, Android, and Windows that you’re likely to find just the right apps to help you get more out of your smartphone or tablet so you can be more productive.

4. A fitness tracker. I was able to check out the Microsoft Band the day it came out and it was quite impressive with its many features that integrated into smartphones. CycleGuy has the JawboneUP 24 and likes how it integrates with his cycling and food-tracking apps. I have a JawboneUP and even though it’s very basic it gives me a lot of helpful information. Even though it would be cool to have one of the high-end models, there are quality fitness trackers for every budget.

Mophie portable charger5. A portable charger. This should probably be #1 on the list of must have tech gear. I carry the Mophie Powerstation with me. It’s compact and lightweight so it doesn’t add bulk to my purse. And since I have both iOS and Android devices I usually keep cables for several different devices in the car so if I’m out and a friend is running low on power I can lend them my charger. When my daughter went on an out-of-town school field trip, I sent my New Trent Power Pack and iSound Power Max so the chaperones would have power on the 10+ hour drive should there be an emergency. We’re on our phones so much, especially on long trips where you don’t always have access to a plug, that draining our devices is not just a possibility. We’ve all be out and had our phone die with no real options to power it up. Now, you carry the power with you! And for under $100 it’s a great way to be prepared when the power goes out.

If you have these, then you’re good to go! If you have friend or family that don’t have these, then consider them as gifts because they’d probably be happy to get these. I know that many of the apps are free, but consider buying the paid version of an app you love and if you need to give someone a gift they’d probably love the “pro” version too.

What are your “go to” or “must have” tech items that you can’t live without?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Influencer team and share information about technology. This post was not required or edited by a third-party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sara

3 Stargazing Apps For Every Smartphone

VZW DisclosureStargazing App

Summer is a time to relax and put the schedule aside. It doesn’t always work that way, though. And at the end of the day your mind goes over the 872 things you did that day and the odometer on the car that seems to spin like you’re looking for the $1.00 space at The Price Is Right showcase. And then night falls. And the quiet settles in and you’re thinking of heading outside to just sit and look at the stars.

Here in Phoenix, being out during the day is the last thing we want to do in the summer. We all do our best to manage it, but it’s just the reality here. Come nightfall though, we’re ready to go. Even though it doesn’t get dark until well after many kids’ bed time, sometimes you just need to stay up late and look up at the sky. With days upon days of cloudless skies and no school the next day, why not see what’s going on up in the dark sky?

Having spent time with professional stargazers and their expensive equipment, it spoils you. But we all can’t run out and buy a $10,000 telescope. What we can do, though, is download a few apps, look up at the stars and see what people have been look at for thousands of years.

1. Star Chart

What’s better than point and go when it comes to looking at stars that look like a bunch of little white dots in the sky? This augmented reality app is a top educational resource and will wow kids and adults alike. You can look at the sky visible to you or anywhere in the world as you turn your phone.

Available FREE on: iOS | Android | WindowsPhone

2. Sky Map

Another “point and look” app, Sky Map has over 11,000 star points and can pinpoint your location using GPS. While this app has the same name on all three mobile platforms, each is made by a different developer. Nonetheless, it’s a top app that works anywhere in the world day or night.

Available FREE on: iOS | Android | WindowsPhone

3. ISS Locator

Have you ever seen the International Space Station zip by? During an astronomy lesson I chaperoned for my daughter’s class we not only got to see the ISS fly by, but it was releasing a cargo pack and we should see that trailing behind as well. No fancy equipment was needed to see these. If you knew what you were looking for. Luckily, there are apps for all mobile platforms that will help you spot it no matter where you are in the world. Depending on where you live you may be able to see the ISS several times a week!

Available FREE on: iOS | Android | WindowsPhone | Web

So, get your phone, download these apps, and head outside after the sun goes down and re-live those times at camp when you’d stare up at the sky and wonder if the man in the moon really existed. Doesn’t matter if you have kids, if you’re a kid at heart, or just love checking out what’s up there in the dark of night these apps will surely make you popular at home or even at those summer evening garden parties.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Insider team. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

30 Ways Smartphones and Mobile Devices Have Changed the Way We Live

 

30 Ways Smartphones

VZW Disclosure

According to the Pew Research Center, as of January 2014, 90% of American adults have a cell phone. Of that 58% of American adults have a smartphone. Add in tablet ownership and we’ve got a lot of people using mobile devices in the US. And when it comes to the ways these devices can help us be better global stewards, it seems like the options are endless.

Just 5 years ago most of us were tossing yellow page books into the recycling bin without even bringing them in the house. Now, we don’t even get phone books because internet access is making them obsolete. With mobile devices, we can get that same information even if we’re not home. Think about all the trees saved with this change in how we access this information.

30 Ways Smartphones and Mobile Devices Have Changed the Way We Live

  1. Many of us no longer use paper for our lists because we’re using apps like Wunderlist or Evernote.
  2. We take fewer trips to the store because we can take a photo of what we need or want someone else to get.
  3. We photograph EVERYTHING yet rarely print anything.
  4. We (usually) don’t get lost when driving.
  5. Checking a map is less embarrassing than it used to be just a few years ago.
  6. There are apps to remind us to exercise. And drink water.
  7. Carpooling or car sharing is easier than ever with apps like CarpoolSchool, ZimRide, and KarPooler.
  8. We can downsize more easily by recycling or find new things by upcycling.
  9. Need help finding a recycling center for anything, there’s an app for that too. Actually, there are two great recycling apps.
  10. Our phones double as a flashlight, level, compass, and calculator.
  11. Music doesn’t need a separate device (sigh, Say Anything, sigh).
  12. Be prepared for medical emergencies with a First Aid app.
  13. Order food from virtually anywhere.
  14. Stay in constant contact with people even when you’re not with them.
  15. Share your travel photos with the world.
  16. We can read books, magazines, newspapers, journal articles, user manuals, and so much more without holding a piece of paper.
  17. Documenting history is no longer just for journalists.
  18. Kids can do homework or parents help kids with homework from anywhere.
  19. Asking questions of experts is a few taps away. And so is being an expert and answering a question someone else has.
  20. We watch TV differently than we did when we were growing up.
  21. And we document our lives in ways our parents never imagined.
  22. But it’s not all roses, because now we can’t just say “I wasn’t home”.
  23. Sometimes we’re more engaged with the conversation on our device than the one in front of us.
  24. We’re more likely document abuse and violence rather than just walk away not wanting to get involved.
  25. We shop differently, and those storied of “hanging out at the mall” no longer resonate with kids.
  26. Many of us don’t wear watches or own separate alarm clocks.
  27. Writing checks and mailing our bills is, for many, a thing of the past.
  28. We’re more informed consumers.
  29. We can wait less because of apps that help manage time at various events or attractions.
  30. Saving money has never been easier than with the plethora of apps and websites to help us.

I can go on to list more things, but these are a good start. We can do more with less and in many ways decrease our impact on the environment. Yes, these devices bring with them special considerations when they are discarded. But with all mobile carriers offering recycling programs it’s not difficult to dispose of them properly. And, I know there are drawback of having mobile devices connected to us 24/7. The point I’m trying to make is that mobile devices have changed the way we live and doing so in ways that can improve our lives, the lives of others, and the world.

How is your phone helping you reduce your carbon footprint?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Insider team. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara

Nomad ChargeKey Review: Portable Charging Just Got Smaller

 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary ChargeKey after attending CES.

No matter where I go, I always carry a portable charger for the many mobile devices I, and my family, carry. I usually have at least two phones on me because I’m always testing out new devices as a Verizon Insider. My daughter doesn’t leave the house without her mobile device, for fear she may be stuck somewhere without reading material. Nomad ChargeKey Review

Heading to a conference, gathering, or event just amps up the need to never run out of power. All the apps running tax the battery. You’ve been there, I know you have. You look down at your phone and the battery is red or you get the pop-up you only have 20% battery life remaining.

So, if you’re like me, you grab the 3-foot cord and plug in to your mobile charger. That’s after you untangle it like you’re doing some kind of Houdini magic. And then you hope not to strangle yourself or trip over the same cord dangling.

That’s why having a ChargeKey from Nomad (retail: $29) is my new go-to “cable”. I use cable in quotes because it’s not really a cable in the traditional sense. About 2.5 inches long, the black, flexible charger has a USB at one end and either a Lightning (for iPhone 5/5c/5s) or mini-USB (most Android devices) at the other depending on which one you purchase. The cable is flexible but sturdy, and easily attaches to a key ring so you can have it with you at all times. For vehicles with USB ports, these are very handy and won’t junk up your car!

ChargeKey-iPhone5

ChargeKey-Micro-USB

I like the compact size because it doesn’t take up much room, especially if I’m only carrying a small charger. It’s sleek, black and easily attached to your keys, which makes it easy to have both an iPhone and micro-USB compatible ChargeKey on you if you’re like me and have both types of devices. It’s definitely much more practical than a several foot charging cable. And much more discreet. Oh, and just an added bonus is all the people you’ll meet who will want to be your new BFF or propose marriage because you’ve just saved the day!

These make great gifts, and for kids who’ll be heading off to college or camp having something that won’t take up much space will be welcomed. And for busy parents who worry little hands will reach up and grab cables off a counter causing the device to tumble to the ground, this will save your sanity!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product after attending CES. This article was not reviewed or edited by a third-party. All thoughts and opinions are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Sara