February 2010

In this tenth episode of the Cast of Dads podcast we discussed a very important topic that all parents should seriously be considering, that of educating your children about the various social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. This is particularly personal to me as my oldest daughter (a “tweenager” – pre-teen) is starting to ask more about various social networking sites, AND, has pointed out that many of her 5th grade friends are already on Facebook. This is even despite the fact that Facebook and other social networking sites state that users MUST be 13 years old or older to have an account. Children are introduced to other types of social networks at a very early age through virtual worlds like Webkins or Club Penguin so it is only natural that the more “adult” oriented “worlds” like Facebook or MySpace have a strong appeal. They want to “grow up” fast, but this is truly a scary concept, especially if you allow your children to do this without some sort of education or monitoring from the parents’ side.

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However, before I go into the details of the contents of this important podcast, I wanted to mention an announcement that appears at the beginning of the podcast. It’s a promo for The Boom Effect which is an auction and fundraiser for another dad and one of the founding members of the podcasting community, Tee Morris, who recently lost his wife and will be raising his little girl known as “Sonic Boom” on his own. We encourage you to donate, spread awareness and help in any way you can for this important cause. So far, over $20,000 has been raised for this cause!

In this 10th episode of Cast of Dads, we really dive into our thoughts on how to educate and protect your kids in their online adventures. This podcast isn’t just for the dads, it is for ALL parents out there who are struggling with how to work with their children and their online actions. Topics covered include:

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When I first hooked up the iLive IT319B 3.1 Channel Home Music System, plugged in my iPod and turned up the volume a bit, I was literally floored at how LOUD it was! Event at 1/3 volume (does it go up to 11?) it was shaking the room with thunderous bass and crisp and clean highs. Turning it up a bit more to almost painful volumes produced barely any distortion (that I could measure with my untrained ear), yet still had more power ready to throw out into the environment. Instantly, my kitchen table (where I do many video product reviews and testing) became a disco as my kids rushed in from their rooms to find out where the party was.

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Seriously though, I have tested a variety of iPod sound systems, most of them the shelf top type, and the iLive was probably the loudest and most powerful one of them all. And it’s not just a speaker for an iPod. It has a built-in DVD play and many connectivity options to make it potentially your primary speaker system (plus DVD player) for any home entertainment system.

Highlights of Features

While I only tested the IT319B for a few hours and did not run it through all of the options under the hood, I did perform a fairly close inspection and some rudimentary iPod connectivity tests. Some highlights of its capabilities that I found important are:

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If you are a parent of a tween (a pre-teenager), you have probably hit the stage of your child wanting a cell phone. My wife and I broke down (or were gradually worn down) about a year ago with our oldest and she got hers when she was about 10. She wasn’t (and still isn’t) allowed to take it to school and only carries it with her when she goes to her after school activities (although she looks for any excuse possible to carry it!). It’s one of those “coming of age” things.

My view of cell phones and children is a bit disjointed, verging on schizophrenic. For starters, if it isn’t obvious already, I’m a big of a gadget nut. So there is one side of me that wants my kids to get the latest and greatest cell phone. But on the flip side is the responsible parent in me that wants to protect my child from distractions, aggressive texting and handheld gaming (they already do that enough with their Nintendo DS’s). But somewhere in the middle is where I ended up, where my wife and I view my daughter’s cell phone as a utilitarian device, there for emergencies only. But how long with that truly last?

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We ended up blocking a lot of the “fun” stuff on the cell phone we decided upon. And this post isn’t really about a product in particular but more so about some things that you can do to protect your child when using a cell phone as well as how to safely extend your care-giving leash a bit further than just within eyesight. After this quick product write up, I have some thoughts on being overly restrictive on texting, internet browsing, application purchases and so on. And also provide some information about other family safety services that you can purchase from your wireless provider so be sure to read on.

The Samsung Propel

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I must admit, I am WAY behind on writing about The Neat Company, NeatCo, for short. I received some of their products last year to do an “extended” review of sorts. The idea was that I would integrate their NeatDesk (Mac & PC) and NeatReceipts (Mac & PC) products into my lifestyle. Unfortunately, I think I was a bit overly ambitious and perhaps a bit frightened about having to scan in ALL of my receipts and bills that are currently piled in a box on the floor.

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But all excuses aside, I made sure that I scheduled an appointment at the MacWorld Expo to talk with NeatCo’s CMO, Kevin Garton, about their product line and upcoming release of their management software. Kevin does a great job walking through the hardware and software that they have produced. So without further ado, here’s my interview with Kevin:

Starting with the obvious, here are some things that you can use a scanning & digital filing system for:

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HyperMac Dazzles with Vibrant Colored Battery Assortment to Charge iPods, iPhones, iPads & other Devices

February 18, 2010

A few months ago, I did a review of a HyperMac battery for charging and powering MacBooks, MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros. I found it to be an extremely useful device to give you an extra hour or so of “away from the plug” time. So, I figured that I would drop by the HyperMac […]

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Charge Your Gadgets Even When the Power is Out with the Scosche solBAT II Solar Charger

February 17, 2010

I spent a few hours at the MacWorld Expo 2010 and I saw a lot of innovative and cool products. But many of those devices were really only the “nice to have” kind. However, one device in particular stood out in my mind as something that every household should have: the Scosche solBAT II which […]

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Cast of Dads: Podcast #9 – “Valentine’s Day” (Massacre?)

February 16, 2010

So it is pretty obvious to me that I’m not the only guy who struggles during the romantic times of Valentine’s Day. For Episode #9 of Cast of Dads, we decided that it would be appropriate to record our podcast on Valentine’s Day itself. Well, it proved to be an interesting podcast filled with awkward […]

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Hands-on Video: Parrot’s AR.drone – iPhone Controlled Quadrocopter Compliments their Vision

February 12, 2010

MacWorld Expo 2010 kicked off yesterday but even before the Expo exhibit hall opened, I was having fun with a gadget that got a lot of hype at CES 2010 – the Parrot AR.drone, an iPhone-controlled, Augmented Reality “quadrocopter”. While not actually a part of MacWorld, the Parrot team was just down the street from […]

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