About Beth Blecherman
Beth Blecherman started her career in application development then Senior Manager, Computer Process Integrity, for Deloitte. After senior management she took on family management blogging as her career 2.0. She is a Co-Founder of the Silicon Valley Moms Group, a collaborative of mom blogs across the country, and their first international blog Canada Moms Blog.
Blecherman founded her personal blog, TechMamas.com, as a platform to discuss technology and gadgets for families. Beth vlogs with other female tech bloggers at Gadgetspin.com. She also consults with companies on blogger outreach and social media strategies and speaks at conferences on parenting, social media and technology. TechMamas.com was chosen as one of the Nielson Power Mom 50 influencers. On Twitter as @TechMama she was chosen as one of the 25 Influential Moms to Follow on Twitter and BizTechDay’s 25 Influential Business Women in the Bay Area. Beth is on the Board of Advisors for MommyTech at CES.
Latest Posts by Beth Blecherman
Heading out the door to catch a plane, like many busy women, I stopped on the front steps and went through my mental packing checklist. Airplane tickets were in my briefcase, as was my trusty little technology bag. Arriving at the airport 45 minutes later, I discovered one of my most important travel tools was missing. Public and hotel Wi-Fi can be unreliable and lack proper security. Time for Plan B.
I decided to jot down some notes and write the blog post later at the hotel. Arriving at my destination several hours later, the slow and spotty hotel Wi-Fi forced another change of plans. I quickly acknowledged that my writing, like many day-to-day tasks, depends on access to online research and I was starting to hyperventilate, thinking of missed work deadlines due to poor quality connectivity. I longed for my mobile Wi-Fi device on my desk back home, realizing just how dependent I am on that small piece of electronics and how confident I felt with it in my briefcase.
Whether I am heading out to work, meetings or business trips I review my technology travel list before heading out the door. Here’s my technology travel list – what on your list?
1. Tech Devices: I usually bring my laptop with me on business trips but powerful tablets may change that habit. I also bring other devices such as a video or digital camera depending on the event.
2. Smartphone: It’s like one of the family.
3. Backup charger: My favorite is a universal charger that works for both my laptop and my smartphone.
4. Mobile WiFi: Uninterrupted work on the go requires connectivity. The AT&T Unite (powered by Netgear) not only gives me a secure network but it also has a battery life up to 10 hours, which is enough to get me through my day.
5. Travel Cases: Keeping technology like chargers, cords and memory organized is essential. I have a stash of different zip cases and travel bags with zippers to store technology within my laptop bag and stay organized on the go. One case contains power cords, another has my smartphone, mobile Wi-Fi, backup battery and digital camera. A final small case holds my extra business cards. In my purse I also have items separated in zip cases. One case contains my lipsticks and face powder. Another case holds odds and ends like mints, pens, bandages, pain relievers and basic travel items. For trips require a large amount of technology (such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas), I put my devices in separate cases with their chargers and accessories. Or sometimes I put all of my technology accessories in a few cases of their own.
6. Travel Documents: As a backup, I have paper printouts of key travel and work information I need on the business including hotel reservations, driving directions and meeting agendas.
7. Memory: Even though I store my documents in the cloud, I like to bring an extra flash memory cards (if I bring a camera) and USB Flash drive. Having a second copy of my presentation on a flash drive gives the comfort that if something goes wrong I always have a backup copy. But there is something ironic about having “memory” as a step in my checklist to remember what to bring to business trips.
8. Power Plug: I find that many hotels do not have enough plugs to charge up my tech each night. So I travel with a plug that has three outlets and two USB slots and that plugs into one wall outlet. Of course, if I am traveling in a different country, I bring the international plug.
Over the next few weeks I will be covering new phones that I think offer great features for busy travelers. The first is the new Moto X by Motorola.
I was invited to a media event at Google a few weeks ago to learn about the Moto X.
Guy Kawasaki opened the event, starting with a few opening remarks followed a presentation by Rick Osterloh, the SVP of Product at Motorola Mobility. I must admit, I had arrived on the Google campus curious how Motorola could differentiate a new smart phone from the really good Android phones already available. Well, the presentation helped me appreciate some new features that are perfect for busy travelers and parents (and everyone else!).
The unique features of the Moto X were discussed during the media event. Listed below are some of the key points. I will update my blog when I have a chance to spend more time using the phone.
Touchless Control: The Moto X responds to your voice (there is a 3 step training process) and is always on listening mode. To engage the controls, you just need to say “OK, Google Now” (for example “Google Now, navigate to 1234 Smith Drive, Mountain View CA”). Even when the screen is off, the phone is still in listening mode. The architecture of the phone allows it to be in listening mode without draining the battery.
Quick Capture: With the Moto X, it only takes a few seconds to take a picture. With two twists of your wrist when holding the phone, the phone goes right into one-hand operation camera mode. Then press anywhere on the screen to take photo or video. The quick shutter speed is perfect for catching kids on the move. During the demo, the pictures appeared very clear on the phone’s screen.
Active Display: A feature called “Active Notifications” allows you to turn the phone over and see texts, calls and other content on the screen without going into the specific app. Another convenience is that you can listen to recent calls on your desktop using the Chrome Extension.
Hands Free Authentication: Devices that are authenticated can be connected to your phone without typing in a password.
Fits in your hand: Motorola did studies to find a form factor that fits nicely in your hand.
Assembled in the US: Always great to bring more jobs to the USA.
Custom Colors: Here are details from the Motorola press release “Through our online studio, Moto Maker, you choose the colors, and decide on the details: front, back, accents, memory, wallpapers, even add a name or a short message. When you’re done, we assemble your Moto X right here in the USA and ship it to you for free in 4 days or less (*Subject to parts availability).” I am happy that the colors include my favorite TechMama Turquoise (well that is the name I call it at least)..
Lots of Accessories: I was trying to take quick notes during the media event, but there is an extensive list of accessories available from brands including: Belkin, Sol Republic, Speck, Incipio, Lifeproof, Otterbox, Casemate, Griffin, Powersupport, M4DE, So-earphones & deck bluetooth, JAX headhpones and speakers….
Price/Timing: Check carriers for specific pricing, but the Motorola press release stated price of $199 for the Moto X with a 2 year contract. Moto X will be available in the US, Canada and Latin America starting in late August/early September.
I’ll be posting additional information on the Moto X after a trial run with the phone. I’m excited by the opportunity to have a smartphone that actually listens to me. Maybe my kids will take notice and follow the phone’s example, responding obediently to the verbal command, “OK Kids Now”. What do you think?
Disclosure: This was a media event.
Time goes by so fast, and as a Mom and the family historian I want to make sure I am keeping track and sharing family memories. The first step in this effort was learning to copy all digital pictures from numerous cameras to my PC in a timely manner. Next was the challenge of sharing photos and movies with family and friends.
A big time-saver in this content management exercise, with multiple devices taking pictures and offering quick connection with cell or WiFi access, is to send pictures directly to the cloud. I store my digital photos and documents all in one place in the cloud using SkyDrive, which allows me to send a link to these great memories if I want to share. I not only have SkyDrive on my PC, but also have the SkyDrive app on my phone to enable photo loading to the cloud no matter where I am!
Skype compliments SkyDrive in family archiving. Video calls with family and friends are just a click away, and if I want to give them a peek at the kids’ homework, art work or class projects, Skype easily allows screen sharing.
Both sets of Grandparents know that the only way they will be able to keep up on what is going on in our busy lives is with regular Skype chats while viewing our family SkyDrive digital photo albums at the same time.
I am excited to share that on Tuesday, February 26th the documentary called “MAKERS: Women Who Make America” is debuting on PBS (check local listings) and includes a powerful list of inspiring women that are “groundbreakers who have sparked change, been firsts-in-their-fields, and paved the way for those who followed“. I had the opportunity to attend a press event months ago where they had some of the amazing Makers Women in attendance (including Gloria Steinem and our own local Lisa Stone of BlogHer ) while they showed us some clips from the documentary.F
Along with the ones I mentioned above, some others highlighted in the documentary are Katie Couric, Linda Alvarado, Brenda Berkman, Judy Blume, Carol Burnett, Ursula Burns, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Geraldine Ferraro, Theresa Kane, Billie Jean King, Maya Lin, Susan Love, Marissa Mayer, Robin Morgan, Sandra Day O’Connor, Maria Pepe, Michelle Rhee, Condoleezza Rice, Faith Ringgold, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Zainab Salbi, Sheryl Sandberg, Phyllis Schlafly, Barbara Smith, Martha Stewart, Kathrine Switzer, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Barbara Walters. The Makers.com program description from the PBS website explains: “Review the story of how women have helped shape America over the last 50 years through one of the most sweeping social revolutions in our country’s history, in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy. The documentary builds on the unprecedented multi-platform video experience from PBS and AOL: MAKERS.com.”
The red-carpet premiere event in NYC was star studded and included interviews with many of the amazing women in the documentary:
The press release also had a quote from one of my inspirations “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” ~ MAKER, Gloria Steinem.
Having the opportunity to meet Gloria Steinem at the press event even inspired me even more to do my part to contribute to the movement. To start, I will be watching MAKERS: Women Who Make America on Feb. 26 on PBS !
Disclosure: This is a press update.
Earlier this month, I had the fun and fabulous opportunity to accompany Author and Producer Nicholas Sparks and Co-Star Josh Duhamel of the movie “Safe Haven” as they toured some local SF Bay Area tech companies. I’m a fan of Josh Duhamel movies, where he delivers great performances as a romantic lead actor, and I also look forward to movies made from Nicholas Spark’s romantic books. While comedies and action thrillers have their place, I can’t resist a good romantic movie in a beautiful setting where the main characters sizzle, experiencing romance and transformation through a suspenseful story line.
A private screening of “Safe Haven” that day helped me realize that the movie delivers on all of that (and more!!). Here is information about the movie Safe Haven from Nicholas Sparks website: “When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller.”
The movie is inspired by Nicholas Spark’s book of the same name “Safe Haven”. Both Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough brought their characters alive with that special chemistry that makes you root for them being together.
Josh’s and Nicholas’ onscreen work is very entertaining. Would they be as engaging offscreen in real life interaction with their fans? To my delight, they delivered – and much more. Social media professionals appreciate the importance of engaging with the online community. I am thrilled every time I meet someone in real life who follows my online tech parenting columns and social media updates.
From what I witnessed, Nicholas Sparks and Josh Duhamel were authentically excited to meet with fans throughout the day and greeted each and every one with the same enthusiasm, even though the line at some locations to take pictures with them was very long (such as the stop at Popsugar). They laughed, talked and made everyone feel at ease, even the gal at one of the tour stops who cried (of joy) when she saw Josh Duhamel.
Disclosure: This is a press update.
One of the top tech categories I planned to look into at CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Show) was new kitchen concepts. I was excited to find some fantastic new kitchen concepts that will not only simplify, add more style, save energy, add new options to listen to music but also change the process of buying and storing food in the home.
While at the Whirlpool CES Booth, I had the opportunity to learn about exciting new concepts. The first is something I would call “Fireplace 2.0! The Whirlpool website explained that “The Fireplace concept which seeks to center people around a new central heart of the home with a common area for relaxing and sharing real experiences around food and fire“. I find this concept the most fascinating of all because it takes the experience of socializing around a fireplace or campfire to the kitchen table. The surface could keep food warm or cold, as well as an air circulation system in the hood. Because the kitchen table is the one place many families gather each day, adding new features to it adds value to home design and enhances family time. The new technology would also enable new social eating experiences, such as fondue to smores, right from your kitchen table.
Here is a picture of the Whirlpool “Fireplace” Concept.
Kimberley Clayton Blaine aka TheGoToMom and I could already see how the fun it would be to socialize around the Fireplace concept table.
I had the opportunity to join in Fireside chats in the Fireplace concept area of the Whirlpool booth with other social media moms and Tanu Grewal, Senior Brand Manager from Whirlpool. We were all so comfortable, we did not want to leave even after the chat was over!
When I saw the Fresh Connect from Whirlpool section of the CES2013 Whirlpool booth, I realized it could not only help families keep food fresher but also change food storage as a whole. What if you could have separate units to store food, each paired with other food that requires the same temperatures (no more frozen lettuce)? We can already order food from our mobile devices, but what if we had a system at home that let us order food that would be delivered in bags that would keep it fresh until we got home? The Fresh Connect concept would help create “a seamless shopping experience from the palm of your hand to the foot of your door.. and streamlined access to a select network of food suppliers“.
Here is picture of the Whirlpool Fresh Connect concept flow:
Food is not only organized by the temperature needs, but also in a modern style that could take food storage out of the kitchen into any room in the house. My sons would love to have food storage of their snacks in the family room!
This concept could also create spaces to grow herbs from inside the house. This would enable us to finally grow herbs without the little critters that live outside from eating it!
Containers would store fruit in a temperature that would let it ripen but keep it fresh. This concept would enable me to buy more fruit without worrying about it going bad (and my boys eat lots of fruit!).
Apps could be used from any mobile device to order and manage the food in your house. This would enable a process for me to schedule food delivery and plan meals.
Another concept that enables families to manage their home from anywhere is the Whirlpool® Appliances with 6th Sense Live™. Families can manage things such as “refrigerator temperature, locking your dishwasher control console, knowing when your cycle is done and managing energy costs“. I would be able to save energy costs by using the mobile app to run the appliances during off peak times even if I was not at home. Or when my kids leave the refrigerator door open (like they do daily), I will get an alert even if I am not at home. This would enable a future where I don’t have to worry about coming into my kitchen and noticing that the freezer door is open and ice cream is now in liquid form!
Anyone looking to create add beautiful art and modern, streamlined style to their kitchen will want to take a look at the Whirlpool Art Gallery Collection (stove) Hoods. There is a selection of 12 hood panels with original graphics themes that are easy to install. I especially appreciate incorporating art into appliances because I have a small kitchen.
Another new concept that helps streamline kitchens by adding new features to appliances is the CoolVox refrigerator concept. This new concept utilizes Bluetooth technology to play music directly through the refrigerator from an app on an iPhone/tablet/etc. Families can use any music or MP3 recordings from their device players, so this means I could even listen to recipe podcasts while cooking. Or my 10 year old son who loves to cook can rock out to his favorite tunes.
What do you see in the kitchen of the future? I see new features and appliances that will help me save time, simplify household processes and have more flexibility around how I manage my home. I can also see a future where mufti-function appliances allow me to save space, add style to my kitchen and create new social environments to enjoy my family time.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. My words are my own.
Of course I could not wait to start personalizing my start up screen with Windows 8 apps. Luckily the HP Envy 23 TouchSmart AiO comes with some basic Windows 8 apps loaded but there are many you can add depending on what your interests are.
Some of the apps I installed are music apps including I heart Radio and Slacker Radio (rocking out thanks to the HP Beats Audio), games including Angry Birds Space, puzzles and even archery , watching movies on apps such as Netflix, search such as Bing, Educational apps such as Kahn Academy, news apps such as News Bento, Reading books with apps such as Kindle. recipe apps such as Foodily and many apps to create content and communication.
In the video below I discussed some of the Windows 8 apps I was able to use because of the HP Envy 23 TouchSmart’s high resolution screen, 10 point touch, Beats Audio speakers and processing power that makes those Angry Birds fly.
Or at least I would like to think that it is my Angry Birds skill that makes them fly!
My next fun projects to test out will be the camera app to make videos, photo apps to edit photos and using the Skype app with the HP TrueVision HD Webcam to video chat with the grandparents. I was having so much fun I forgot about loading my social networking apps to take advantage of the people hub and calender apps.
***Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a program on behalf of HP and received an ENVY 23 TouchSmart AiO as a thank you for participation. All my words are my own.
Windows 8 is out. I will be heading to my local Microsoft Store to check out the new devices and have seen Windows 8 demos but not had a chance to review the new devices (which I look forward to in the future). But yesterday I did have the chance to watch the NYC Windows 8 launch webinar. These are my notes from the launch presentation covering what I thought were the key items discussed:
The (Windows 8) concept is gives you “access to what you use more frequently, websites you like and people you want to connect with. Glance and you will know what is going on in world – Windows 8 keeps you connected to all stuff in the cloud.
It is natural experience (a new look)– log in just once (lights up with your life). See all of your friends on social networks, co-works on outlook, photos , docs from Skydrive, Music, Video – will all be there”.
“Everything and everybody that you care about – in 231 markets and 109 languages around the world…. 1,000 systems approved for Windows 8 that are thinner, boot ½ time, 1/3 weight, 3x faster. The new Windows 8 tablets and computers have improved features such as longer battery life, are power efficient, touch optimized and have security...
All Windows 8 users can access new apps and there are developer friendly terms of Windows 8 store. Difference is that it runs apps from window store, which are easy to acquire, remove and to upgrade applications….”.
“Many new Windows 8 devices are touch enabled – but also work with keyboard, mouse and stylus. Along with touch controls, you can use the trackpad to move tiles to zoom in and out (options to get around Windows). And when mouse is pointed to corner, you get to the start screen – right click to system tools. Pricing options include affordable (Touch PC’s that starts at $499) to high end ... Brought together PC and tablet – for work and play. One device carries best of PC and tablet experiences. Are these new designed PC’s? Yes. Are these newly designed tablets? Yes.. Some flip, convert etc.. The best of PC’s and tablets in one form factor.”
There are three Windows versions: Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows PRO.
The webinar also included mention of the many hardware partners including Dell, Acer, Samsung, Asus, Toshiba, Lenovo, Sony, Microsoft and the new chip ( processor) options.
The other concept discussed is that “Microsoft is all in one – bringing together Microsoft Office, Bing, Internet Explorer, Outlook, Skydrive, Skype and XBox. Win 8 comes with mail, calenders, photos and browser. With Excel 2013, you can side by side run excel and apps at same time. You can put apps with your favorite websites on the start screen. Redesigned MSN – first website full set up for touch in win8 world. Launched outlook.com – works seamlessly on web and PC. Skydrive for storage and new Skype app (always on and immersive, easy to use). Windows 8 has a built in Bing search and re-designed Bing search app“.
“The new apps are designed to keep you up to date on everything going on the web (Bing Travel, Bing weather, Bing sports ,etc – from top media partners).”
“XBox Music creates playlists from global catalog, new features with XBox video and XBox games also launched. For example “ with XBox Video you can select movie from win 8 tablet and can play on Xbox – when you watch movie it serves up relevant info on what you are watching – like info about actors etc.”
There will also be brand new Windows 8 phones coming out this month. The concept is that when “people choose Windows 8 there is phone that works in similar way: access same data, share same info, uses live tiles and same Microsoft account from access playlist in Xbox music and documents in Skydrive”.
Disclosure: This is a press update. The information provided are my notes of what I thought were the key points from the webinar and not directly a transcript. This is not a paid post. I am a Windows Champions blogger and I received loan of a laptop and may receive awards (in the future) from Microsoft to post my opinions about Microsoft products.