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Sphero Ollie: Getting In Touch with your Rollie Pollie Dark Side

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Opinion, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Drones and wirelessly controlled robots WILL be the rage this holiday season. In fact, I’m guessing these fun gadgets will be hot any time, with kids and their childish parents alike, myself included. What’s not fun about flying something through the sky or racing around on the floor. In fact, I thought that the new Sphero Ollie (the “Darkside” version) would even be fun for my little dog to chase around. Well, I was wrong about our dog who pretty much ignores the Ollie Darkside, but my kids and I actually like it quite a lot.

HTD Sphere Ollie Darkside

A few years ago, Sphero came out with their rolling ball, called the Sphero (now on version 2.0) which my kids and I also played with a lot. What’s not to like about a ball that lights up in a variety of colors, all being controlled via bluetooth on a smart phone. Well, the engineers and developers at Sphero have taken much of the same fun and repackaged it as a two-wheeled contraption that has flashing, multi-colored lights and a variety of tricks. And, it too is controlled via a smartphone app, complete with tricks and sound effects.

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PSA: Watch Out for United States Treasury Telephone Scam

In General, How To, HTD Tech Tip, Opinion, Safety, Security by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Have you received a phone call recently from (202) 754-8175 or (518) 861-9598 or perhaps some other seemingly normal looking phone number claiming to be from a person named “David” from the United States Treasury or other government organization? I received two calls that went to voicemail from the two numbers listed above but with the exact same message (which actually repeats a few times). Watch out! It’s a telephone scam!

HTD Telephone Scam - United States Treasury

Unfortunately, the government-run Do Not Call lists don’t apply to telephone scammers, and it seems that many companies or sales callers seem to be flat out ignoring these Do Not Call lists. This database is supposed to be checked by telemarketers and, ideally, should prevent you from being bombarded with telemarketing or sales calls. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work and companies move around it regularly. If you haven’t registered your land line or mobile phone number, you definitely should take some time to register those numbers.

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Touch of Modern: Exclusive Gear & Gadgets for Guys

In Consumer Electronics, Event, Gadgets, General by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

With so many online shopping destinations on the Internet, how do you cut through the clutter and differentiate yourself and carve out a niche while providing a unique and somewhat exclusive buying experience? Well, the team at Touch of Modern seem to have figured it out. Having just surpassed $100M in annual recurring revenue and having recently logged their millionth, yes, that’s 1 million, order, Touch of Modern seems to be well on their way to success.

Last night, my wife and I attended a celebration party for these two important milestones. Held at the infamous Phoenix Hotel, known more in my younger years as Miss Pearls Jam House (ok, I’m dating myself a bit but did attend a few events there), it was the perfect venue to showcase some of their more popular products, all of which can be bought from their online store. But as I found, some of the exclusive products really move quickly and can sell out.

Case in point, I was being shown a variety of fancy, shiny and unique men’s watches, pristinely displayed in a case that I was told, held over $500,000 worth of watches.

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Review: Schlage Sense Secures your Door without Keys

In Apple, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, iOS, Opinion, Review, Security, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Home automation is all of the rage right now. From being able to remotely control your home’s temperature to turning on the lights to opening your garage door to even remote video monitoring, the connected home adds security and convenience to any home environment. About 5 years ago, I installed the SchlageLINK connected front-door lock. It was great being able to give members of my family their own entry code, track the entries, and more, but that capability came with a monthly cost, something I wasn’t too keen about. Fast forward to today and we have the Schlage Sense which is easier to use and program, has fairly tight integration with Apple’s HomeKit and doesn’t have a monthly cost. And one of the coolest things is just telling Siri to lock or unlock the door.

HTD Schlage Sense - In the box

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Before I dive into the installation, usage and other details of the Schlage Sense, I am giving away one (1) Schlage Sense AND a matching door handle to a lucky reader. Scroll to the end of the article for entry instructions (or click here to jump to it). Do note, there is a short time to enter so be sure you do it. Update: the giveaway is completed but please read on for the review of the Schlage Sense.

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NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 WiFi Router Review: Fast Inside & Out

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Opinion, Review, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

I have been lucky to have been a NETGEAR Ambassador for the past year which has allowed me to receive (for free) and test several NETGEAR devices, in exchange for my unbiased and honest reviews. The latest of these is the NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 which also goes by the names of the AC5300 and model R8500. Having tested both the X4 and X6, I have become quite accustomed to the user interface, the performance and the interworking of each of these WiFi routers. In my opinion, this latest edition to the Nighthawk family truly sets the gold standard for WiFi routers. In fact, the Nighthawk X8, which is a premium WiFi router, seems to be nicely positioned at the top of the premium WiFi router marketplace.

HTD NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 - Front View

   NETGEAR Badge
Disclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.

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NETGEAR Nighthawk X8 – AC5300 Tri-Band Quad-Stream Wi-Fi Router (R8500)

The Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart Wi-Fi Router is the next wave in Wi-Fi. With Tri-Band Quad Stream performance, delivers combined wireless speeds of up to 5.3 Gbps. Four external Active Antennas combined with four internal antennas amplify and maximize Wi-Fi range. X8’s Powerful 1.4GHz Dual Core Processor gives you a high-performance networking engine for faster connections. Aggregate 2 of the 6 Gigabit ports to double your wired speeds to network attached storage. Quad-Stream with MU-MIMO support allows you to enjoy simultaneous streaming to your devices for speeds up to 4x faster than traditional Wi-Fi.
New From: $299.99 USD In Stock
Release date October 10, 2015.

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Think Beyond Traditional Content to Make your Users Smile: the Bug Fix List

In Android, Apple, Content Strategy, General, Opinion by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Content producers should always be looking for other avenues to engage their audiences. While content strategists often say that engagement is one of the most important measurements of successful content, sometimes it is the intangible that can produce a favorable result. How, in fact, do you measure a smile or a laugh? Often a positive feeling is not measured immediately. But the elicitation of a positive emotion from written content can actually do wonders for your brand, product or service. And sometimes, you must look beyond traditional content to get these reactions.

One example of this non-traditional content is right under your fingers. If you have a smartphone and regularly download applications, you are already engaging in that content. No, I’m not talking about the apps themselves, those are the product or service which is shared and marketed regularly already (hopefully). What I would rather focus your attention on is the fact that these apps are buggy and often need to be updated. Therein lies a non-traditional content source that often goes overlooked. If you or your developers produce perfect code, then this content source is probably not for you. However, to err is human so bugs exist, and your users must be notified. And these notifications are content. This content must be living and updated frequently to keep the attention of your audience or customers. If you create a blog, you must regularly feed it content in order for it to be effective. If you launch an application, you must regularly fix bugs and release new features to ensure that your users remain happy.

I’m not going to dive into how you should develop and release your smartphone apps. I am, however, going to make a small recommendation around the content your produce when you DO release an update or bug fix. Unfortunately, many users simply install app updates without looking at what had been changed, fixed, updated or added to the apps. (Or, there are plenty of people who simply ignore updates until they really must upgrade them.) But there are those of us, myself included, who actually take time to look at the few lines of content added to the app update, specifically, the bug fix list.

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12 Ways the Apple Watch Helps You Be a More Efficient Parent

In Apple, Consumer Electronics, Family, Gadgets, General, Hardware, How To, Opinion, Parenting, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

As a parent or guardian of a child or children, you hold a lot of roles: housekeeper, cook, driver, project manager, janitor, psychologist and much more. Back in 2007, I wrote about figuring out the salary of stay-at-home moms and dads. Parents in general, whether they work or not, are overworked and faced with juggling many tasks, projects and activities all at once. We have to do it without missing a beat and still manage to get a little bit of sleep. With advances in technology and online services, we all, hopefully, have become a little more efficient and a lot less frantic. But the reality is, life is complicated regardless of whether it is now, 5, 50 or 500 years ago. The nice thing is, though, technology does have a way of taking the edge off a bit.

HTD Apple Watch for Parents - watch

When I started using the Apple Watch (having moved from a Pebble), I was ready for all sorts of efficiencies to become immediately apparent and my life to become smooth as silk. After a few months of use, I now know that life remains complicated. I guess that is a fact of life – life is complicated. But I also learned that the Apple Watch can act as a Mommy or Daddy’s little helper. And I wanted to share a few tidbits of things that I have learned through day-to-day usage.

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Don’t Restrict Your Child’s Smartphone, Instead Discover via Monitoring with AT&T Smart Limits

In Cellular, Family, General, How To, HTD Tech Tip, Mobile, Opinion, Parenting, Safety, Security, Social Media, Social Networking, Software, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

We all know that texting is dangerous (especially when driving). And we have been told that texting (and “sexting”) can be very dangerous for tweens and teens. In fact, we probably have been bombarded by stats and case studies and examples to the point of where we, as parents, all simply start ignoring or tuning it all out. We really shouldn’t, you know, because so much communication happens between tweens and teens via smart phones now. And as good parents, you really should be involved, or at least “have a clue” as to what is going on in your child’s digital life. And while there are many types of apps and services now available for parents to block access to certain contacts, prevent texting at certain times and simply see smart phone activity, I believe that being overly restrictive can actually be counter-productive when it comes to the digital life of kids. But these software tools and services ARE beneficial. Here’s why.

HTD AT&T Smart Limits - summary screen

AT&T Smart Limits – Summary Screen

Let me preface everything by saying whatever you choose to do regarding your child’s smartphone and online activities is your prerogative. It depends on you as a person, your values and your beliefs. It also depends on your child, their personality, and their strengths or weaknesses. If blocking apps, numbers or activities works for you, then that is the strategy you should use. All of the recommendations in this article are my thoughts and opinions and what works for me, my wife and my family, might not work for yours or even be appropriate. But I do have one overall recommendation, having a dialog with your child or children about online safety and messaging is a good place to start. A dialog is 2-way and you need to listen as part of the process. Otherwise it becomes a lecture and trust me, kids tune out lectures completely. Save your words if you are going to do that.

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