Friday, September 30, 2011

Bluetooth - Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device

I've always thought of myself as a problem solver. I don't like problems, and I will not rest until they are solved. Kind of a downfall really, since I've lost hours of sleep on issues or situations that any other person would never have encountered or thought of in the first place.

It's nice when I encounter situations that are easy to resolve. Problem: I'm having trouble docking my
phone on its speakers system because the case is too thick. Solution: buy a new case. Great! I feel accomplished without spending restless nights concerned about docking my phone.

Unfortunately, the problems that I encounter are rarely this quick and easy to solve. Being from out of state, I still enjoy listening to radio stations from home, and like streaming the stations live from my computer. The problem isn't that my computers aren't loud enough (because my SideStream computer speakers are AMAZING). The problem that I constantly encounter is that it's hard listening to the streaming radio stations when my computer is immobile and I'm working in every part of the house other than the office.

Like I said, to anyone else, this isn't a situation worth losing sleep over. But every Saturday morning when I would work in the yard, tidy up the kitchen, or clean the living room, it was a little frustrating to not be able to listen to the music I wanted to. Especially when I knew there was a solution to my problem that I had been avoiding trying to discover.

I began to wonder whether there was a solution to my problem or if I was never going to listen to music from my computer in rooms other than the office. Alas, my friends at Accessory Genie came to my rescue once again!
The GOgroove BlueBar Clip-On Wireless Bluetooth Adapter was the most simple and inexpensive solution to my dilemma! Through a Bluetooth connection, the BlueBar can connect to any Bluetooth enabled device, like a computer. Through the 3.5mm plug, I can then listen to audio from my computer or any other device without having to be near it!

Unfortunately, my ancient computer isn't Bluetooth enabled, which did present another roadblock. But I was easily able to purchase a Bluetooth dongle from Amazon for a couple bucks!

Not only can I now listen to my favorite stations, or anything else playing on my computer, but I can also connect wirelessly to my phone and listen to music through my earbuds or my Koala Pal without having to cart my phone around.

Looking forward to enjoying a nice Saturday filled with yard work and my hometown's radio station!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Feminine Style in a Tech World

In a world of black, grey, and occasionally white smartphones, the HTC Rhyme, announced earlier this week, is a welcomed feminine addition to what many would think of as a man's world. Aside from being purple, the new HTC also comes with several accessories, including a charm that plugs into the Rhyme's headphone jack and glows when it receives calls and texts - perfect for noticing an incoming call or text when the phone is tucked away in a purse and the vibrations or ringtones are unnoticeable.
As a girl very much involved in the tech world, I sometimes get frustrated with the lack of feminine products available and can definitely appreciate when a product is specially geared towards women. For a moment, I considered switching to Verizon Wireless just so I could have a purple phone with a fantastic little charm attached to it, among the other accessories it comes with. Only for a moment though, until I realized that aside from the girly-ness of the phone, it wasn't worth the cost.

I realize that being more prone to purchasing items with a feminine feel can be a dangerous habit to have. And I know that not all women are like this. But its nice when electronic devices and accessories are designed and manufactured to fit a woman's needs (even if it does only look good.) This is why I'm such a fan of the new Renee Michelle PADfolio.

Before purchasing this case for my iPad, it was being kept safe in a plain black sleeve while a debated whether $100 was worth spending on a designer iPad folio case. Even though the case was beautiful, I went back and forth for a month whether I could justify spending that much money on something that would simply hold my tablet.
Then I saw the PADfolio, and the debate was over! The PADfolio provides a very secure and stylish home for my iPad. It comes in ivory or black with metallic accents, making my iPad fun to carry around, and making me look less like a nerd. The chic design easily goes from meetings at the office, to joining friends for dinner or drinks after work.

What's also great about the PADfolio is that it completely replaces my purse and/or briefcase most days. A small pouch located on the left hand side is great for storing my reading glasses, pens and pencils, my keys, and of course the occasional lip gloss. It also has a document slot that holds any papers or notebooks I need. The PADfolio comes in two sizes, which are compatible with the Apple iPad, iPad 2, HP TouchPad, Motorola XOOM, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and other tablets and e-readers.

Had tablets been around while I was in college, it would have been perfect for class taking to class as well.  However, I love using it for work, and it comes especially handy when I'm on travel, making my carry-on less bulky and much easier (and cuter) to carry.

Now if only I could get my hands on the HTC Rhyme's charm...


Friday, September 16, 2011

Are You Prepared? Emergency Preparedness for the Unpredictable (and Inevitable)

The initial reaction I get when I'm visiting out of state is how lucky I am to live in California... Lucky? I guess. Sure, I live in a place where I can soak my feet at the beach and simultaneously look up at the mountains and see snow. And the Kardashians live about 20 minutes away from Accessory Genie headquarters. And we don't have to deal with hurricanes or tornados. Okay, I guess you could say that California is a pretty cool place to call home.

But when it comes to natural disasters, I personally wouldn't consider dealing with unpredictable earthquakes a plus to living in California. Sure we all take certain measures to prepare as much as possible. But when the earth underneath your feet starts shaking uncontrollably and with no fair warning, it's not exactly a good time.

As uncomfortable as it may be, us Californians think it's a small price to pay for living in such a great place. So to prepare ourselves as much as we can for the unpredictable and inevitable, we have emergency preparedness kits to use in the event of a strong earthquake.

My emergency kit is pretty basic. But from personal experience, sometimes the most basic items are the most useful after an earthquake. For starters, I have a pair of running shoes unlaced and ready to be put on. Walking around barefoot (if I'm at home) or in heels (when I'm at work) post-earthquake is never a smart idea because of all the debris that is most likely all over the floor.

A first aid kit is an essential I had to include in my emergency kit. Mine is small and simple, with only the essentials, like gauzes, athletic tape, bandages, antibiotic cream, etc.

Of course, in case of an emergency, I prefer to be able to stay in contact with friends and family, which can be an obstacle when the power is out. My Solar ReStore comes especially in handy for this, as I can charge my cell phone without having to plug it into a power outlet. I simply plug my phone into the Solar ReStore, and it automatically charges it using power from the internal battery. When the Solar ReStore's battery is running low, I expose it to the sun, allowing it to charge using solar energy. In addition, the Solar ReStore also works as my emergency flashlight, having a side-loaded flexible LED light.

In addition to these supplies, I also maintain a bag of canned food and water, checking my supply twice a year to throw out anything that is old or expired and replacing it with new cans. By keeping an emergency kit, I can feel slightly more at ease about earthquakes.

I strongly encourage people who live in other parts of the country and suffer from other natural disasters to maintain their own emergency kits. You never know when an earthquake will hit the east coast, or when a tornado will touch down on the west.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Jazzin' Up the Workplace With GOgroove SideStream

When it comes to productivity, putting on a good song in the background has always been a favored solution. Although many people ask me how I get any work done while listening to music, I'm much more productive when I'm listening to Michael Buble than listening to the sound of someone's keyboard four cubicles away.
Up until recently, I was using an old pair of clunky computer speakers I found in my garage that I hadn't used in over seven years. With money tight, I knew that I couldn't justify to myself spending money on a pair of computer speakers when I had a "perfectly good set" to use.

I thought they worked fine -- not really. But they got the job done, and that's what mattered. My office wasn't as desolate as before the speakers, where the silence was so loud that it was difficult to get any work done at all.

As much as I appreciated having sound in my office, I started noticing minor details from my speakers that made me appreciate them less and less. I hated that they took up such an obnoxious amount of space on my desk. And I began noticing how awful the sound quality was. Worst of all, the speakers would randomly completely turn off by themselves, and I was forced to wiggle wires behind until I heard sound again. Over time, my frustration with the old speakers continuously increased, as did my urge to toss them out the window.

One day my speakers decided to increase in volume, on their own. The more I tried turning down the sound, the higher the music blared, distracting the whole office. I finally waved my white flag and muted my computer completely while unplugging the old speakers and tossing them in to the electronics recycling bin.

I was on a mission for new computer speakers. But if I was going to spend the money, I was going to buy a pair that would at least meet my needs without breaking the bank. I wanted speakers that had good sound and on-board volume controls, had a unique look or style, and didn't take up too much space on my desk.

I remembered that we had recently received an order of the GOgroove SideStream clip-on speakers, so I decided to try them out for myself. These computer speakers are exactly what I was looking for! They connect to my computer through a USB cable and clip on to my computer screen, leaving plenty of space on my desk for all of the other clutter! The SideStream speakers can be divided and clipped on to each side of your screen, or connect to form one full speaker!

Best of all, these speakers sound amazing. I didn't realize the sound quality I was missing out on until I tried these out! The built-in amp and subwoofers generate great sound that makes listening to audio a much more enjoyable experience. The on-board volume and power controls are also very helpful when I need to quickly turn down the volume when my boss walks into the office, or to turn up on Friday afternoons for an office dance party.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Creating My Own "Car of the Future"

Earlier this week, I read an article about the Ford Evos, a car that Mashable called the "Social Networking Vehicle of the Future." What does it take to earn this title? The idea of the Ford Evos is for it to always be connected to a cloud and understand the driver's wants needs and interests. It'll keep tabs on traffic and weather that is relevant to where the driver needs to be, know the work schedule, etc. It will also monitor the driver's physical state and will adjust temperature controls and handing to better accommodate them. 
After reading only the title, I couldn't understand why a person would feel the need to send a Tweet or write on a friend's Facebook Wall while driving. Why can't they just wait until they arrive at their destination to be "social"?

But after reading the article, I was much more intrigued by the concept. A car that could work with me to be where I need to be when I need to be there, all the while keeping me comfortable and complacent... Sounds pretty amazing, especially for those of us living in Los Angeles, where getting to somewhere on time is a constant struggle.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Ford Evos will be coming out any time soon, if at all. With no Evos in my near future, I decided to take my car and some Accessory Genie products, and make my own "car of the future."

I started off with the FlexSmart X2, a wireless FM transmitter that connects to your car through Bluetooth. Aside from playing music wirelessly through your car's speakers, it also enables you to make hands-free phone calls. I also use it with my navigation app to get step by step directions through my speakers.

When I want to easily see my smartphone's screen, I mount my phone on the USA Gear Ventmount to look at my screen quickly without taking my eyes off the road for too long. My Ventmount also rotates horizontal to fit my TomTom Navigation system, which I use when I want to avoid as much traffic as possible.

To entertain any company I may have in my backseat, I set up my USA Gear TabGRAB, a tablet mount that easily attaches to my headrest and adjusts to securely display my tablet. When I wirelessly connect my tablet to the FlexSmart X2, my nieces and nephews will watch shows and movies with what I like to call "surround sound", and I'm left peacefully driving without any fighting coming from the back of my car.

 With a few products from Accessory Genie, I have my own "car of the future!" Okay, maybe it still doesn't compare to the Evos. But these products do make my daily commute significantly more tolerable. And in L.A., that's really all that matters.

Oh, and we're still working on a product that does climate control...