42 posts categorized "Home Technology"

December 25, 2011

RockSmith Video Game: Finally A Game That Uses Real Guitars!

image from i1137.photobucket.comWhen Clever Girls Collective/Ubisoft asked if I was interested in trying out Rocksmith with my tween son and his rocker friends (who are in a band), I jumped at the chance. Rocksmith is the first video game where you can connect real electric guitars with a standard 1/4” input jack with a Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3 entertainment system. There is also a Rocksmith bundle that includes a guitar.

image from i1137.photobucket.com
The game has a helpful tuning process and difficulty settings that automatically adapt to your experience level. Experts can play songs from memory, experiened guitar players can play from notes on the screen and a beginner like me can follow easy color-coded strings on the screen.

image from i1137.photobucket.com

Feel like a real rockstar with different backgrounds including a concert theme.

image from i1137.photobucket.com

There are also mini-games and what the Rocksmith website explains as the ability to: "Turn your console into an amplifier and play with loads of in-game effects pedals, amplifiers, and cabinets. String pedals together with nearly infinite combinations and tweak your sound until you're satisfied."

image from i1137.photobucket.com

Some of the tracks include  David Bowie – Rebel Rebel, Eric Clapton – Run Back To Your Side, Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama, Radiohead – High And Dry, The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry and The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

 Here are some details from the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO – October 18, 2011 – Today, Ubisoft® announces that Rocksmith™ is now available at retail throughout North America.  The standard edition of the game, available for $79.99, will include the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable™, a unique 1/4” to USB cable that is the first of its kind, developed exclusively for Rocksmith.  This revolutionary cable turns the guitar’s signal from analog to digital, allowing it to be recognized and played through video game consoles for the first time.  The guitar bundle will provide a quality entry-level option for people that have always wanted to play but don’t own a guitar. The bundle, available for $199.99, includes an Epiphone Les Paul Jr guitar, along with the Rocksmith Real Tone Cable.  Rocksmith is rated “T” for Teen.  
For more information on Rocksmith, please visit www.rocksmith.com, and follow Rocksmith on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rocksmithgame

But what did my tween son's friends - who happen to play in a band - think about Rocksmith?

Continue reading "RockSmith Video Game: Finally A Game That Uses Real Guitars! " »

December 13, 2011

Holiday Gifts=Time to Upgrade Tech: TV's

image from i1137.photobucket.comSpending all year writing about technology leaves me little time to focus on my own household tech. My preference is to have home technology that is not only low maintenance but also high quality. Looking around the house, I realized that the fully functional 12 year-old family TV no longer remotely qualified as “top of the line”. Not to mention the glares my tween son's friends gave me when they came over and realized we have a (shriek and face plant) TV with "tubes" in it.

So this holiday season I joined the world of high definition and purchased a new HDTV. Because our 12 year old TV Sony TV lasted so long and offered us a great viewing experience - I wanted to purchase another Sony television. At the local Sony Style store I reviewed the different models and received great information from the sales team. I also talked to friends of the family who are Home Electronic Concierges (Intuitive Environments). They sent me an article from PC Mag on how to buy an HDTV. If I were not a technology writer, I would have hired them because to help save money and time. But being a tech geek - I wanted to have the full experience of uprgading the TV on my own. I also checked CNET for reviews and Decide.com to get an idea of what price I should looking for.

Continue reading "Holiday Gifts=Time to Upgrade Tech: TV's" »

December 07, 2011

On 12/7 - Join Twitter TechMamas.com & Decide.com To Chat about Holiday Tech Shopping Tips

image from i1137.photobucket.comI have been covering holiday shopping tech tips throught the holiday season, including my tips for a no regrets holiday shopping experience. December (NOW) has some of the best tech prices of the year - so time to shop! To keep the conversation going, please join me and Decide.com this Thursday 12/7 10am pst for a Twitter chat on holiday tech shopping.

Here is info on the Decide.com/TechMamas Twitter Chat:

Are you a smart holiday electronics shopper? Do you know how to score that perfect deal on all the gadgets on your family’s holiday wish list? Join Decide.com and Techmamas founder Beth Blecherman for a Twitter chat this Thursday, December 7, 2011 at 10:00-11:00 am PT/1:00- 2:00pm ET to test your tech holiday shopping savvy, share tips and learn where and when to find the best deal on electronics for your family this holiday season. (Click HERE for more info).

At the Twitter chat - I will discuss my adventures in shopping for a new TV and other tech devices. You will have to join in to see what I ended up purchasing - but here is a picture of the 12 year old TV that it replaced. Yes, the TV still had tubes in it and was very heavy.

image from i1137.photobucket.com

As you can imagine, my tween son did not think our TV with Tubes  was cool (even thought the picture quality was still great). He is so excited to join the modern world with a new TV! Goodbye old TV...We enjoyed our time together...

Disclosure:  This post is in partnership with Decide.com.

November 17, 2011

Tips for No Regrets Holiday Electronics Shopping

image from i1137.photobucket.comThe winter holidays are around the corner, with time split between two of my favorite things: family and shopping. The pressure to find “just the right gift” can change shopping for the worse, causing people to shop impulsively and not look for the right deal. When it comes to consumer electronics, prices may look great on “Black Friday” but waiting for the price drops of early December may be an even better deal.

So what is a bargain hunting consumer to do? I am excited to be partnering with Decide.com, a company that empowers consumers to make smart electronic decisions with a 60 terabyte historical pricing database, 8 billion price observations and growing. Decide.com's shopping service predicts when to buy consumer electronics with no regrets by providing information such as price comparison, average release cycle, last release, device’s age, average rating and product details. Their just announced Decide.com mobile app for iPhone and iPod touch will enable consumers to have the power of prediction in the palm of their hands while shopping. Here are my no regrets shopping tips to make sure consumers are armed with the right information to make the best decisions.

  1. Don't be a sale chaser – while it's true that a few select products go on sale in the wee hours of the morning, you’ll likely regret rushing out to fight the crowds at 5am only to discover there were only 5 TVs available at that price. Spending hours chasing down a special holiday deal can be a big cause of buyer’s remorse. Do your homework and find the real holiday sales.
  2. Stock up and save on electronics for the family – wait for the holiday season to upgrade on the latest gadgets and electronics for her family. For practical and smart gift giving, holiday is a great time to stock up on those items that your family needs – a family computer, TV, other devices for family – and save big.
  3. Don't be fooled – buying an older product model at a fire sale price is not necessarily cheaper. For example, by doing a search on cameras I realized that some of the newer models have better pricing then the models they replaced.
  4. Arm yourself at the moment of purchase: With Decide's new prediction app for iPhone, when you're shopping in the store this holiday, you can know if that product is a deal or not by simply scanning the barcode for an instant prediction.  You don’t need to give up on finding a deal even if you are making a spontaneous purchase (like we all do).

Disclosure:  This post is in partnership with Decide.com.

Win a $5K Shopping Spree Contest: Download and install the Decide.com App for iPhone and iPod touch for your chance to win an American Express gift card for $5,000. Contest ends December 25th, 2011. More information on the contest can be found on the Decide.com blog.

June 15, 2011

Test Drive: Using VoIP for My Home Business Solution

IStock_000007395743XSmall Many work at home moms use their home or cell phones for their business calls. I just recently had the chance to review another alternative for work at home communications (or for any businesses): VoIP. VoIP is not a word many recognize, but it simply means a communications protocol over the Internet. So when using VoIP, instead of make calls using a cell services, an internet connection is used.

Alteva is a cloud (or internet) based communications solution. The phone I am testing is a wireless business phone that will be using the Alteva solution. I am excited to try it for a couple of reasons.

Continue reading "Test Drive: Using VoIP for My Home Business Solution" »

September 07, 2010

Lifescoop Blog: Kid Desk 2.0 Upgrade - Enter to win $250

The ever so clever Clever Girls Collective invited me (@TechMama) to participate in a back to school challenge on the My Life Scoop blog (powered by Intel). It was great timing because I was in the middle of a challenge of my own: how do I redesign my 11 year old's kid desk to get ready for middle school and to have enough room to hold his technology AND projects?

Take a look at my post on My Life Scoop blog titled "Contest: Kid Desk 2.0 Upgrade - Be In It To Win It": the winning comment/solution will be awarded $250.00 gift card.

I am in need of a kid desk upgrade 2.0 - please share your ideas and enter the contest!

Disclosure: I am being compensated to write the post on My Life Scoop - but am in desperate need of a desk for my tween so I can't wait to read the comments!

July 24, 2010

Sunset Dream House: Fireplace 2.0, Internet TV, HP Media Server and ePrinters

Show_photo_single.php I am a big fan of Sunset Magazine, They always present recipes, trips and decorating tips that I aspire to. I have also toured Sunset Dream Houses (houses where Sunset works with the developers to design and decorate the house) and always leave with great ideas. But, while I have a healthy dose of the "geek" gene, I don't have the "decorator" gene - even if I do have an eye for knowing what looks good. So I like to leave decorating to the professionals.

That is why I was thrilled when HP offered me a chance to tour a local Sunset Dream house before it opened to the public. The Sunset Dream House I toured is in Los Gatos, CA and it is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting today (July 23) through August 15, 2010. I suggest everyone stop by because it is not only a beautiful remodel, but also a house that has something pushing TechMama into a techy frenzy: Family Media 2.0.

When I arrived at the house I was greeted by Kathi McCalligan (Sunset Home programs Director), Gordon Van Zuiden of cyberManor and Josh Schoonmaker  from HP. Josh is involved with the HP Smart Home program. I originally became fascinated with HP's vision of the home after seeing the HP technology at the Disneyland Innoventions Dream Home. I appreciate that Ann Finnie from HP supports my smarthome obsession and was kind enough to invite me to the tour. 

We all sat down to discuss the house design and technology. Of course, I asked for all the details and here are some highlights from our discussion:
  • The Sunset Dream Home was designed as a seamless integration of technology and design. 
  • Technology, now part of the tools needed for school, social, entertainment and more, should be a seamless experience in the home. 
  • There are sophisticated technology systems in more expensive homes, but there are also more budget friendly options providing enormous value in smaller spaces.
  • Sunset brought together traditional and new technology, connecting TV to the network and antique photos with digital photo frames. 
  • Technology is presented with a "real family lives here" vision rather than as science fiction.

Here are the schematics  (below, implemented by cyberManor) of the technology behind the Sunset Dream House in Los Gatos and a description of the technology from the cyberManor website.

"cyberManor integrated and deployed the HP (www.hp.com) and Control4 (www.control4.com) family of hardware and software products to provide a seamless, reliable, and easy to use method for the control of the electronic home entertainment, lighting and comfort equipment from several in wall keypads, touchscreens and universal remote controls."

    Sunset House Schematic 20100719

Continue reading "Sunset Dream House: Fireplace 2.0, Internet TV, HP Media Server and ePrinters" »

April 07, 2010

Fed Up With Dropped Calls, Excited To Hear About AT&T's At-Home Cell Tower

My morning routine after I drop my kids off at school is to come home to my "home office" (a.k.a tiny desk at a corner of my bedroom next to piles of unfolded laundry) and make my morning business calls.

No matter what type of fancy smartphones or headsets I have tested, nothing can overcome something that is worse then the "blue screen of death". And that is the plague of the dropped calls caused by (shriek) dead cell zones. So far this morning EVERY call I made included a call back to the person I was talking to because of a dropped call. My cell service is AT&T and while it worked great while in Paris, for some reason cell coverage in my sunny California house is not so sunny - in fact it is "the big grey cloud" of my day. While AT&T prepares for a battle to improve their poor coverage, I am:

  • Sweating through conference calls wondering if I will drop off.
  • Losing time because conversations are broken off while in the middle of discussing important subjects.
  • Wondering: While being interviewed by reporters as "a technical savvy mom resource", I wonder if there are thinking that I must have a phone from 1999 because the calls keep dropping.

In reality, different cell companies have different areas where their coverage is strong and their coverage is weak. A friend of mine that has a cell coverage from a different company gets *no* coverage at all in his house - but full coverage if he walks out his front door. So the real question is "What really causes bad cell coverage quality?" Is it the service provide or is it relative to how close you are to a cell tower? This is something I have been thinking about for some time.

This morning I saw an article in the New York Times that made me think there is hope for my home cell coverage. The article was titled "Bringing You a Signal You’re Already Paying For" about the news that AT&T is to offer at-Home Mini-Tower. I wonder if this is what I need to improve my cell coverage?

Here is more information about the AT&T Mini-Tower (called the AT&T 3G MicroCell™):

"The size of a couple of decks of cards, these mini-towers act and look like Wi-Fi hot spots at cafes, and redirect cellphone calls from congested cell towers to home Web connections."

 AT&T-mini-cell-tower

Picture credit: New York Times via Associated Press

Link to more information about the AT&T 3G MicroCell™

Update: After bringing this topic up on Twitter, one of my followers (John L Painter) discussed the Wi-Ex zBoost as a good product to improve home cell coverage quality in Maine.

April 05, 2010

Forget About the iPad, I Want the Clothes Folding Robot

I was reading Guy Kawasaki's Twitter stream today and what do I see on one of his posts?

Hark - it is something I have been waiting for ever since I became a mom....Yes, A Robot that folds clothes!

Here is the link to the post from Alltop - Holy Kaw (that saw the video on Geekologie.)

Forget about the iPad, I want one of these:

January 30, 2010

More on the Apple iPad Debate, Why Moms Should Demand Open Web Standards

It is finally a beautiful sunny day so why I am online right now? It is that geeky side of me that has been glued to the online tech sites since the release of the Apple iPad. But not because of the iPad. I posted about the Apple iPad features which I think are a great fit for those using Apple gadgets and software already. My son has a Apple MACBook and iPod so the iPad would make a great addition, allowing him to enjoy the media he has on his iTunes, start finally reading eBooks, web browsing on the go and subscribing to online newspapers to read the news.

But what I have not seen discussed much by family bloggers is the Apple iPad's lack of flash support. I posted with my thoughts on the Apple iPad features including the lack of Adobe Flash support. To get some feedback I also tweeted ( TechMama ) about it - hearing that others were also confused. JessWeiss replied back to me with "I find the omission odd, anti-web-ish myself ". From a mom's perspective, the lack of Adobe Flash support on the Apple iPad means that there will be online content my son would not be able to access - including some of his favorite YouTube videos, CNN videos that he is now watching for news, online gaming sites and more.

I am Not so upset about him not being able to access some of the sites that the Wired Gadget Lab post pointed out. But kids can access inappropriate sites in many ways, Flash or no Flash. Internet Safety education and controls will still be an important step before any child uses any device with Internet access.

This all leads to the answer of why I am sneaking some time online while my kids are busy playing on this sunny weekend afternoon. The lack of Adobe Flash support on the Apple iPad has brought on a very interesting discussion about open web standards by the top tech minds, summarized nicely on TechMeme. For me, this is better then celebrity gossip and may even top my obsession with celebrity red carpet dresses..

Ok, I am a real geek..

Talk about geeks - Robert Scoble wrote a post today titled "Can Flash Be Saved?" on his blog Scobleizer that summed up the debate: "Adobe’s best hope is to get Android to support Flash and Adobe’s best hope is that developers ignore the iPad and ignore the iPhone, or, at least, build better experiences on the Android and Google Chrome platforms that include Flash". Click HERE to ready the whole post on Scobleizer, it provides a developer perspective to the current debate. He is a dad that seems to be spending his sunny weekend day the same way I am.

As a mom who is a PC user that also supports a household with numerous Apple products, I just wish everyone would stop going off in their corners and using applications with different web standards. I am tired of broken links.

I am giving tech companies a time out; You are leaving your customers confused and backing them into cyber walls. Please just adopt some open web standards already! Let gadgets communicate with  applications across the web. I will be happy and thrilled to pay for content over the web - as long as I can just get some open standards already.

Continue reading "More on the Apple iPad Debate, Why Moms Should Demand Open Web Standards" »

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