Friday, June 24, 2011

Loving (and Hating) Our Smartphones

By the time I was due for an upgrade on my wireless plan, I felt like everyone around me was with the times with their smartphones, while I was stuck with my dinosaur of a phone, T9 texting and all. I was ecstatic to go and buy myself my new phone, especially since I knew exactly what I wanted: a brand new iPhone 4. I get that with smartphones, especially with Android and iPhones, you either love a phone or hate it. But I had my reasons for wanting that phone, just like everyone else has their reasons.
With this in mind, I decided to go around and ask my coworkers at Accessory Genie what phones they have and how they feel about them. Surprisingly, many of my coworkers were like me, and had upgraded to their first smartphone.
Julie was one of these. She had an LG Vu, which was incredibly outdated and difficult to deal with. So one day while shopping at Costco, she decided to stop by the cell phone booth and check out her options, and decided to go with the Samsung Captivate. Why did this phone stick out the most to her? "It was free," she says, with the updated plan, of course.

For the most part, she loves her phone. She was especially sold when the salesperson compared its screen to that of a Samsung TV, in terms of resolution. She doesn't like that her phone will randomly turn off on its own, or that the buttons don't work like she wants them to all of the time. "Sometimes the buttons don't work when I press them, and sometimes they're too sensitive," she explains.

Having more of an interest in the technical qualities of the phone, Kyle upgraded to his Palm Pre primarily because of the promise that the phone would eventually have Flash, and is very disappointed that promise was never fulfilled. But a plus from his phone is that it's easy to program. "I've been able to install programs that I've created," he says. He also likes the keyboard aspect because he hates the idea of typing on a touch screen.

Like Kyle, Rachael was convinced that she would hate using an all-touch screen phone. "I loved my BlackBerry and wanted to upgrade to a Torch but was talked out of it by the salespeople," she explains. Instead she was talked into getting a HTC Inspire, and she says it was a great decision. She loves how big the screen is and how easy the phone is to navigate through. It's also really fast, which is great for all the fun apps I use." The negatives? According to her, the phone doesn't have the best battery life, and the speaker volume when on calls isn't very loud. But overall, Rachael says, "I'm obsessed with my phone."

Like Rachael, I couldn't be happier with my purchase. I love everything about my iPhone 4 and really believe that it is worth every penny I spent on it. We all have preferences, and when the time comes to upgrade again, who knows what phone I'll be interested in next.

Whatever phone you are proud to have, keep in mind that Accessory Genie has the accessories you need!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Less Distractions and More Entertainment With Accessory Genie

We've all seen it, and probably done it ourselves: Distracted driving. Each one of us has either seen or been the person eating a burger, reading a text message, typing in an address to the GPS system, putting on lip gloss, or just not paying attention to the road. Sometimes, we are fully aware that what we are doing is dangerous, but other times, do we realize just how distracted we are?

I know that I am guilty of distracted driving. But I think my biggest issue is not realizing just how distracted I am. I've even been so caught up in my own thoughts that I space out while driving, even though I try to make it a point to pay attention to the road and nothing else.

As far as I know, someone has yet to have invented a car that feeds you or does your makeup while you drive. But there are tools available to help drivers pay more attention to their driving and less to their devices.

Accessory Genie has several different devices compatible with your favorite smartphone to keep you less distracted and more entertained on the road. Whether you are listening to music or talking on the phone, these FM transmitters are great for helping you stay focused when driving.
The GOGroove FlexSMART-4i FM Transmitter is one of my favorites. Powered by a DC port, the FlexSMART-4i will securely hold and display your phone while you play audio through the 30-pin connector at the base of the unit. If you connect the phone to audio jack on the unit you can even route your calls through it and the music will fade out automatically. I especially love using the FlexSMART-4i when I'm using my GPS application on my iPhone because it'll play the step by step directions through my car speakers and display the map if I need a visual of where I am going.

The GOGroove FlexSMART X2 is also another personal favorite because it connects to my phone through Bluetooth, taking away the necessity for me to rummage through my things and physically plug my phone into a transmitter. Another plus is that when my phone's battery is running low, I have the option of plugging in my charger to the USB port on the device and charging up my phone. The FlexSMART X2 is definitely a good option if you have multiple Bluetooth devices because you can easily sync all of them up to it.

I also like to use my Auto Air Vent Mount in conjunction with the FlexSmart X2 when I'd like to see the display on my phone, like when I'm using a GPS system on my phone, which comfortably mounts my phone from an AC air vent in my car.
FM transmitters and device mounts like these and many others available at are compatible with many different smartphone brands and models, and work with MP3 players as well. If you're like me and use your phone in many different ways, like to listen to music or to navigate from location to location, you'll appreciate how much safer and simpler these devices will make your drive.

Safe travels!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Preventing Hack Attacks: Tips for Protecting Yourself From Hackers

I'm not exactly the savviest person when it comes to the internet and computers. I don't know how the Internet works, I just know that somehow I put in a URL and it takes me from point A to point B in seconds.

With the recent hackings of so many big name companies and organizations, I started to question whether my ignorance was really bliss. At the very least, I feel like I should be concerned about my personal information when the programs of companies and organizations like Amazon, Sony, Bank of America, Voice of America and CitiBank (among many others) are being hacked. How (or why) are hackers hacking into what I would expect to be secure networks? How safe is my information, really?

Of course, there's only so much a person could do to protect their information. But I've always been a firm believer that doing something, even something small, is better than doing anything. So I asked with some of the people in the Accessory Genie IT department.

Updating your security software on your computer is always a good first step.  Good software companies update on a relatively frequent basis to make sure you're protected as much as possible from the latest emerging threats.

Also, when you're going to a website that contains sensitive information, make sure you are using a wired or, if necessary, a trusted wireless network as often as possible. Public wireless connections are very vulnerable to hackers.

Although you would think this goes without saying, use strong passwords and not something easy and simple like 12345 (yes, people do this.) Add in numbers and lower and upper case letters when possible, with the goal of making your password easy for you to remember and difficult for others to guess. Also, don't use the same password for important data, like your banking account, for other things like Facebook or your email. Most experts also recommend changing your passwords every six months. There are also a number of programs available that help you manage your passwords, and are also a great extra layer of protection from keylogging viruses.

Monitoring your accounts daily for suspicious activity is also important. If you feel like your account may have been hacked, change your account information immediately to something unrelated to your original password.

Last but not least, make it a point to educate yourself. Like I mentioned earlier, I don't know much when it comes to hackers and the Internet. But the more you know, the better you are able to protect yourself from getting hacked.

Food for thought


Friday, June 3, 2011

Get Bluetooth, Not Radiation

I would be the first to admit that I have an addiction to my cell phone. I do everything on it. Aside from the usual phone calls and text messages most everyone makes with their cell phones, I also maintain my schedule, check out my Facebook Wall, browse the Internet, check and reply to emails, write my shopping and grocery lists, and check the weather, not to mention many other tasks and pastimes for which I use my cell phone.

When the World Health Organization announced earlier this week the possibility that radio frequency electromagnetic fields caused by billions of cell phones worldwide may raise the risk of developing cancer, I became worried. And I'm sure many other people around the world felt the same.
In the past when something was announced to not be healthy for me, I kicked whatever habit it was. Cigarettes cause cancer? No more for me. Coffee causes cancer? Hot tea, it is. But could I really give up my cell phone?

I would even be surprised if I could find someone over the age of 15 that didn't have a cell phone. Most of my acquaintances primarily use their cell phones over landlines. And some have even done away with their landlines all together. I couldn't help but imagine billions of people suffering from cancer a few years down the line. But after hearing an interview with NPR's health blogger Eliza Barclay on NPR, my fears were calmed.

In the interview, Barclay recommended that cell phone users use wireless headsets so that the antenna wouldn't be close to your head, but near other parts of your body. Thankfully, I am the cell phone user that rarely has her cell phone to the ear.

When I'm in my car, I use my Flexsmart X2 FM Transmitter to answer and make phone calls, as well as to listen to music from my phone. In fact, I rarely take my cell phone out of my purse when in the car.

When I'm at home, I use the Apple headphones with the microphone to talk on the phone, primarily because I'm always busy cooking, doing laundry or something else where I need my hands to be free.
When I'm in the mood for a wireless headset, I use my AudioACTIVE headset, which also works out great for working out and exercising.

Although scientists have yet to provide solid facts of this warning being fact, I understand the concern that the announcement may have raised. If you're like me and would like to take extra precautions just in case, Bluetooth headsets and connections are a great option to getting rid of your cell phone (or in my case, my life line).