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Author Archive for Janet Cloninger

Why buy three accessories when one smartBandStand will do everything?


The smartBandStand is an indiegogo project.  It’s an impact-resistant smartphone case with connector button, a fully-adjustable stand with tilt-screen feature, and an armband with Velcro or bungee-hook closure in one.  It will be available to fit various iPhone, Samsung, HTC, and LG smart phones; standard colors are black, white, or red.  It can stand on a tabletop or dashboard or hang from the AC vent in your car, or you can wear it on your arm while you jog, fish, or do other outdoor activities.  It comes with a case with a connector button that snaps into the stand, or you can get a connector button to use with your own favorite phone case.  Funding continues through May 04, 2014 (11:59pm PT), but it’s a flexible funding account, which means it will receive all pledged funds even if goals aren’t met.  A pledge of $30 nets you one smartBandStand with case.  Estimated delivery is in September, 2014.

Limited edition silicone Quasar watch from Tokyoflash Japan


The latest offering from Tokyoflash Japan is the Limited Edition Kisai Quasar Silicone Watch.  The Quasar watch shows time as either a normal numeric format or as a pattern mode.  It has a silicone band and body with a inner metal casing.  It also has date and alarm modes, stop watch function, animation, and an electroluminescent backlight.  It’s available with a black or white band/case and your choice of blue, green, red, or mirror LCD face.  The Kisai Quasar Silicone Watch is $99 at Tokyoflash Japan.

Get your ears on, old school


Instead of a Bluetooth headset or one of those old-fashioned telephone handsets, attach the CB Radio iPhone Handset to your smart phone for some Smokey and the Bandit fun.  It has a mute button that silences the other side like a real CB radio handset, so it’s not going to qualify as a hands-free device and probably won’t be legal to use while driving in all states.  There’s a microphone built into the cord, and a dial on the side to turn it on/off and adjust the volume.  The handset also works as a speaker for listening to music.  It’s battery powered, so it won’t drain your phone’s battery.  Although it specifies iPhone in the name, it will actually work with any phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack.  (The answer and hangup button won’t work with all phones.)  It’s currently on sale for $9.99 at ThinkGeek – a 50% savings.

Save your MacBook charger with a Juiceboxx


If you have a MacBook, you know the chargers have built-in cord winders.  The problem with the winder is that it can put a lot of stress on the thin cable where it attaches to the charger.  This stress leads to broken cables, which leads to purchasing an expensive replacement charger.  The folks at Juiceboxx Inc. were tired of buying expensive replacements and decided to come up with a way to protect the cable’s end while still corralling the charger’s cable.  They designed the Juiceboxx, a plastic case that fits over the MacBook charger and guides the cable up through a silo that prevents it from being bent and stressed while still allowing the cable to be wrapped for neat storage.  Funding for this Kickstarter project is continuing through Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 11:59 PM EDT, and they still have a way to go to meet their goal.  A pledge of $20 will get you one Juiceboxx in a translucent color; a $60 pledge is required for the limited-edition Kickstarter green version.  If funding is met, shipping should start in November 2014.

Clocks don’t come much more minimal than this


The Wyzer Wall Clock is just a pair of hands – no numbers, no markers, and no face.  It’s made of PET plastic, and it measures 23.6″ in diameter.  It requires a AA battery to power the German movement, and you’ll have to provide your own battery.  You can use it as it is, with just the wall for the background, or you could even create your own artful clock with colored balls, decals, tiny pictures, or other items as your number markers.  It’s $99.00 at the Dwell Store.

This gear bag goes from day to night


Levenger is having a sale this week on their Carezza Day-to-Night Clutch.  Like the other bags that Levenger sells, these bags look like regular handbags, but they function like gear bags.  You can use this bag as a strapless clutch bag, or you can add the strap (25.5″ drop) and carry it as a cross-body bag.  You can carry a wallet, keys, and phone inside, or you can fit a smart phone in the gusseted pocket and an iPad mini or similarly-sized tablet in the main body.  The back of the bag has a zippered pocket and a hand strap.  The bag measures 9.75″ X 6″ X 1.5″ and weighs 8 ounces.  It’s available in black or purple.  Normal price is $149, but it’s on sale at Levenger for $75 until Sunday, April 20.

Charge all your portable devices with this Lumsing battery pack


With the Lumsing 11000mAh 5 x USB External Battery Pack, you can charge up to five phones or two tablets simultaneously.  The 11000mAh lithium-ion battery holds more than enough power to keep a gear bag full of mobile devices going during your longest trip.  The five 5V USB ports output between 0.6A up to 2.1A.  The integrated LED power-status indicator shows you how much power the battery pack still holds.  It has multiple security protections to guard against overcharge, overvoltage, overcurrent, and short-circuits to safeguard your gear.  At 3.70″ X 3.15″ X 1.10″, it will easily fit into your gear bag until you need it.  It’s $25.99 and eligible for free Prime shipping at Amazon.

Mark your baked goods with your name


You work hard to make beautiful, tasty pie crusts, cookies, and other pastries, so you should be proud to have everyone know you made them.  With a Personalized rolling pin from ValekRollingPins on Etsy, you can have a rolling pin custom engraved with your name.  The rolling pins are made of beech, and they are 16.5″ long with a 2.4″ diameter.  The rolling pins are made in Poland, and they ship worldwide.  They are $57.04 from ValekRollingPins.  Other pins are available with geometric, food, or animal shapes for $42.78.

Sunscreen for your laptop


If you use your laptop outdoors for work or recreation, you may find it’s impossible to see your screen on bright, sunny days.  Throw a Pixel Sunscreen V2.0 in your gear bag, and you’ll be able to work outdoors, no matter how sunny the day is.  It’s made of polyurethane-coated nylon and ripstop taffeta, and it completely blocks peripheral light; it even has a pullover head cover for extreme conditions.  It works with 12″ – 17″ laptops, and it has openings so you can route cables for power or to attach peripherals.  The Pixel Sunscreen is sold as an accessory for photographers who need to check their shots while working outdoors, but it would be a great accessory for anyone who works outdoors.  It’s available for $84.75 at Think Tank Photo.

Keep your phone in your pocket – even while you sleep


I use my iPhone as my only alarm clock these days.  Combine being blind as a bat, early-morning grogginess, and not remembering exactly where I put my iPhone on my night table before falling asleep, and I have to do some serious fumbling to find the phone and shut off the alarm in the morning.  It would be nice to have a place to always put my phone so I’ll know just where it is.  It would be nice if there was enough room for the TV remotes that I can never find, too.  These 230tc Percale Pocket Sheets have a pocket sewn on the fitted sheet just to hold things like your phone and remotes.  They’re made of 100% cotton and have a 230 thread count.  The fitted sheet fits up to a 12″ thick mattress.  A flat sheet and a pillow case complete the set.  They’re available in red, gray, blue, pink, and orange.  Unfortunately, I won’t be getting a set of these sheets for my bed, because they only come in Twin and Twin XL sizes.  You can find them at JC Penney for $90 a set, but Costco members can get them at a bargain price of $29.99.

An emergency kit for electronic musicians


If you are a musician using amplified instruments, a DJ, or the tech guy who sets the equipment up, you’ll want to have the Electronic Musician’s Emergency Adapters kit in your gear.  The kit includes a variety of adapters – male audio plugs, female audio jacks, and couplers in 1/4″ and 1/8″ sizes, cables, XLR jacks and plugs, and more.  Everything is stored in a red drawstring bag.  You’ll also get a card detailing all the adapters and a small LED flashlight to help you find the adapter you need to set up equipment on a dark stage.  The Electronic Musician’s Emergency Adapters kit is $30 at fractalspin.

Charge up to four devices simultaneously with this USB wall charger


The Sabrent 4-Port Compact USB Wall Charger can charge smart phones, tablets, and other USB-chargeable devices.  One port is rated for up to 2.4A to charge tablets quickly.  When you have multiple devices plugged in, the charger will balance power output at each port to keep the total load to 12.5 watts.  Has built-in over-current protection and supports fast charging that is compatible with most mobile devices.  It measures only 2.4″ X 1.6″ X 3.4″ and weighs only 3.2 ounces, so you’ll never notice it’s been added to your gear bag – but you’ll probably notice the load is lighter because you can leave all those individual device chargers at home.  The Sabrent 4-Port Compact USB Wall Charger is $14.99 and is eligible for Amazon Prime shipping.

Timbuk2 and TerraCycle join forces to create this messenger bag


Timbuk2 bags have been featured on The Gadgeteer.  They make great bags to carry your gear or even your pets, and they’ll even allow you to customize your bag with special fabrics or color combinations.  For this new offering, they’ve joined forces with TerraCycle (a New Jersey-based business that makes consumer products from pre- and post-consumer waste) to create this great looking, limited-edition messenger bags.  TerraCycle hand-picked the best US Postal Service mail bags used in domestic USPS facilities from 1960 – 1990, and Timbuk2 turned them into small and medium Messenger Bags.  The exterior fabric is from “extremely durable but worn and laundered US Postal Service nylon mail bags”, and the bags have a waterproof TPU interior.  They have all the other organizational and structural features you expect from a Timbuk2 bag.  They are available in natural or in a vegetable-dyed brown.  The small bags are $99.00; the medium bags are $109.00 from Timbuk2, while supplies last.

mophie’s keychain power reserve for iPhone and iPod


I reviewed the mophie juice pack air case for my iPhone 5 recently, and I liked it a lot.  If you’d prefer to use your iPhone case-less but want to keep a backup power source at hand, you should check out mophie’s power reserve.  mophie packs 1350mAh of reserve power in a package only 1.50″ X 2.84″ X 0.56″ and weighing about 2 ounces.  It’s the perfect size for a keychain fob, and it even comes complete with a key ring.  There’s a Lightning cable built in, so you have everything you need to give your iPhone or iPod a power infusion (up to 50% additional).  It’s available to ship now in black; white and red versions will be available later this month (April 2014).  The mophie  power reserve is $49.95.

Brooks leather tool bag for bicyclists


The Brooks Saddles Challenge Tool Bag was first designed and patented in 1896, and it’s been keeping bicyclists’ tools handy since then.  These gorgeous leather bags attach to the saddle of your bike with leather straps; the buckles of the straps are located inside the bag for greater security.  The strap that buckles the Tool Bag closed also wraps around the tools inside, to hold them securely and prevent them from rattling while you ride.  The bags are made of vegetable-tanned leather by Brooks England, but Amazon makes them available in the US.  They measure 6.9″ X 3.1″ X 1.8″ and weigh 4.5 ounces.  Amazon has the Brooks Saddles Challenge Tool Bag in a variety of colors – from aged tan to black to red to apple green and more.  Prices vary from about $71 to $90, depending on color. Most colors are eligible for Amazon Prime shipping.

Keep your personal information safe with a Fellowes shredder

This post brought to you by Fellowes, Inc. . All opinions are 100% mine.

Fellowes Shredder 2 photo Fellowes-323_4x6_zpsa1fc7e97.jpg

In the past couple of years, I’ve read stories about two medical clinics in my area dumping patient records.  They didn’t shred them; they just set boxes of records full of patients’ personal and medical information out by the dumpster behind the building.  It boggles the mind that anyone would expose themselves to a lawsuit for such inept handling of private information that was entrusted to their business.  Read More →

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5/5s review


I tend to keep my iPhone 5 charged, but both my husband and daughter tend to let their batteries die.  I’m tired of paying cell phone bills for phones that aren’t even available to call part of the time, so I decided to do something about it.  I couldn’t get a separate battery pack, because I know they wouldn’t get charged.  The solution had to be something that didn’t require any extra steps.  I had reviewed a mophie juice pack for my 2nd-gen iPod touch when I first started writing for The Gadgeteer, so I thought that a mophie case would be the way to go for our cell phones.  (I say “our cell phones”, because I can’t be the only one who doesn’t get a new case!)  Luckily, mophie offers the juice pack air for iPhone 5/5s in four colors, so I ordered three cases in different colors directly from mophie. Read More →

Pamper your dry, itchy skin


My hands are always drier than the desert, and the skin on my knuckles is usually cracked and often bleeding.  This used to happen to me only in the winter, but it’s a year-round thing for me now.  I slather on lotion, but it’s cold and stings.  The Heated Lotion Dispenser from Sharper Image will heat up your lotion, so it will feel much more soothing to your dry, thirsty skin.  It holds 16 ounces of any lotion, and it heats it up to a soothing temperature in two minutes.  It plugs into an outlet, so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries.  The Heated Lotion Dispenser is $39.99 at Sharper Image.

Elgato announces their new Thunderbolt Dock


If, like my husband, you have a laptop that you plug into a monitor, connect to WiFi, and maybe attach a couple of USB peripherals, you’ll find connecting and disconnecting everything to be a pain.  At work, Butch plugs in a monitor, network, and a disk; when he needs to work from home, he only plugs up to a Thunderbolt monitor.  Although he doesn’t use a ton of peripherals at either location, plugging and unplugging each day gets old.  If he had one of the new Thunderbolt Docks from Elgato at work, he’d only have to plug in one Thunderbolt cable to be connected to everything.

Although the dock is encased in a sleek aluminum chassis that complements the Apple laptops, it works with either Macs (OS X 10.9 or later, Thunderbolt port) or Windows PC (Windows 8.1 or later, Thunderbolt port).  The dock adds:

  • 2x Thunderbolt ports (10 Gb/s, bi-directional Input/Output)
  • 1x HDMI 1.4 Output (up to 2560 X 1600 pixels resolution, HDCP compliant)
  • 1x RJ45 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3x USB 3.0 (5 Gb/s, support for bus-powered devices, UASP & USB 2.0 compatible)
  • 1x 3.5mm Audio Output (analog stereo, via built-in DAC)
  • 1x 3.5mm Microphone Input (mono, via built-in DAC)
  • 1x Power Input (DC 12V 5A)
  • Free Elgato Thunderbolt™ Dock Utility (installs a Status Menu that makes it easy to eject all storage devices at once and see at a glance when it’s safe to unplug your Elgato Thunderbolt™ Dock)

Not that the Thunderbolt dock is powered, so you can charge tablets and smart phones from the USB ports.  It’s $229.95, and it includes an Elgato Thunderbolt cable.  Read more at the Elgato website.

Keep Wil Wheaton at the TableTop


You know Wil Wheaton, right?  He’s an actor famous for playing Gordie in Stand by Me, Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and many more, including a slightly evil(er?) version of himself on The Big Bang Theory.  He’s also a writer and a gamer, and the host and co-creator of a web show called TableTop.  If you enjoy playing board games, you probably already know about this show that’s published on Felicia Day’s YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry.  They’ve produced two seasons of TableTop, and they’re looking to take the production of the show independent for season 3.  They are raising funds on Indiegogo until May 10, 2014 (11:59pm PT), and they’ve already reached about 60% of their original goal of $500,000 to produce a 15-episode season.  If they reach $750,000, they’ll produce five more episodes for season 3; reaching $1,000,000 will allow them to produce a second show featuring a season-long campaign in an RPG, played by Wil and some of his friends.  A pledge of only $15 grants you access to a backers-only video diary of the filming of the third season; $300 gets you a shout-out from either Felicia Day or Wil filmed on the TableTop set; $750 nets you a poster from each episode, signed by Wil and the cast; and $10,000 gets you a day hanging out with the cast and crew during filming of an episode.  There are many other pledging levels, but some of them have limited numbers of slots, and some of those have been completely claimed.  Learn more about how you can help get TableTop Season 3 created on the Indiegogo site.

Cut like a caveman


The Primative Stainless Steel Knife brings the flint flake tool of prehistoric time into the present.  This 8.7″ handleless knife is made of a single piece of stainless steel.  The top has a ridge for gripping, and the shape tapers to the front and bottom to form a sharp edge for precise cutting.  It comes with its own pebble-shaped stand.  The Primative Stainless Steel Knife may look like a Stone-Age tool, but it’s a great gift for the modern cook.  The normal price is $169.99, but it’s currently on sale at ThinkGeek for $89.99.

Micro Field Bag for iPhone


Pad and Quill has a line of leather and canvas gear bags to hold your laptop and tablets, and they realized they had forgotten a gear bag for one very important item – the iPhone.  The Micro Field Bag for iPhone is made of full grain leather, 18-oz waxed canvas, and stitched with thread that is used in parachutes.  It’s sized to fit your iPhone, a few credit cards, and some cash.  For a $70 pledge at Kickstarter, you’ll receive a Micro Field Bag for iPhone in your choice of blue, green, or gray canvas with whiskey leather.  Funding continues through Wed, April 30, 2014 at 10:13pm EDT;  if successful, shipping is expected in June, 2014.

Turn your favorite speakers into a wireless Bluetooth system


With the new Bluetooth Audio Adapter from Logitech, you’ll be able to convert any powered speakers, like PC speakers, home stereo systems, or A/V receivers, into Bluetooth-enabled speakers.  You can pair the adapter with both your smart phone and a tablet and stream music from one of them.  Once you’ve paired the adapter with a device, it will automatically re-connect.  You can connect any speakers with either a 3.5mm audio cable or RCA plugs to the Logitech adapter.  Logitech says “the Bluetooth Audio Adapter is tuned at Logitech labs to deliver high-quality acoustics.”  And with the extended wireless range, you’ll be able to stream and control your music from up to 50 feet way.  The Bluetooth Audio Adapter is available at Logitech for $39.99.

Forget carrying individual device chargers


Having to carry individual AC chargers for each of your mobile devices can take up a lot of room and add a lot of weight to your gear bag.  With the Aluratek 6-port USB Charging Station with Surge Protection, you can charge up to six USB-chargeable devices simultaneously.  Each of the six ports can produce 2.1A for charging, and the total draw for charging multiple devices simultaneously is 7.5A.  The Aluratek charging station includes a surge protector, with built-in fireproof circuit protection.  You’ll have to supply your own charging cables.  The 6-port USB Charging Station with Surge Protection is $49.99 at Aluratek.

Here’s the solution for when you can’t quite see your iPhone screen


Okay, I recently reviewed my new Satechi ReadMate LED Desktop Magnifier, which I bought to help my aging eyes see small details, but I’m not ready to admit I need this magnifier.  The iPhone5-compliant Magnifier from THANKO, also called the Raku Raku Magnifier,  slides over your iPhone 5 to magnify the screen.  Although it specifies the iPhone 5, there’s an adjustment screw for the clamp to fit it to smart phones between 0.31″ (8mm) to 0.39″ (10mm) thick.  The legs can be moved to adjust the focus for your eyes, and you could fold it flat so you can stick the phone in your pocket or bag.  The magnifier is $15.80 at THANKO.