It was my birthday this weekend. I received wonderful gifts from my friends and family that show that they know what I like. I am sharing those two gadgets because I feel that they could be useful for you.
Cord Wrap by Bobino
It happens to me all the time. Each time that I answer a call with your iPhone, I need to ask the caller to wait while I untangle my iPhone earbuds. My Cord Warp designed by Bobino, and distributed by Kikkerland, solves this problem without taking space in my bag. The Cord Wrap comes in three sizes: the small one is for earbuds, a medium size organizes most of your usb computer cables while the larger size is designed for slightly longer and thicker cords such as your laptop cable. Continue Reading
In my case, you can’t totally blame it on the Mad Men effect since I bought my original Ericofon long time ago. It was a splurge when I moved to my first apartment. I adored how it looks then and I still do.
Sadly, my cobra telephone passed more time in boxes since nobody around me appreciates it. It’s true that this plastic one-piece telephone becomes heavy if you are having long conversation. And yes, a rotary dialer is cumbersome. But, I don’t make many phone calls anyway. Now it is back in my life. It sits nicely on my mid-century office desk. Finding my old Ericofon last week when I sorted my boxes during my Spring cleaning put a big smile on my face. I was relieved since I was afraid that I gave it away. I won’t make that same mistake again. Continue Reading
Technology seems to be a recurring theme today. This time, I like to talk a cool project that was funded via Kickstarter. ATOMS Express Toys is a new electronics construction set that enable kids to make all sorts of cool stuff within 5 minutes of taking ATOMS out of the box. As a parent, I prefer activities that help develop creative ideas and enable children to learn as they play. The ATOMS “plug and play” smart blocks are designed to do that. Continue Reading
Our smartphone touches more and more aspect of our life. Manufacturers use the technology to help us control appliances in our house. I already told you about how everyone in my home use their iPhone or iPad to control the music playing from our Sonos music system across my home.
We are all familiar with the connected home. A simpler idea is for the garage door. Liftmaster — which desperately needs to bring his Web site to this century — lets you open or close your garage door from anywhere with your smartphone.
Samsung is not the first company you play with the idea of Internet for your fridge. Now, they are bringing the idea to the laundry room. Samsung launched the WF457 washer and dryer series that is equipped with smartphone control. What it means for me is more freedom. When you are playing in the yard with your kids and you are not sure if you select the right water temperature or you want to know if you have time to go for an ice cream cone before the end of a cycle you can check/do it from your iPhone instead of running to your laundry room. Where I see the most value is that Smart Care detects and diagnoses errors and sends an immediate alert to your smartphone. No time is wasted. I would like that my dishwasher alerts me on my smartphone when one item blocks a spray arm.
There is also the alarm clock. When mine broke a few years ago, I did not replace it. Instead, I switched to the embedded alarm clock. App developers tried to improve on it. Most of them do it by integrating the weather report. Alam Clock Pro is one of the most like apps in that category.
But I want an app that can do more that tells what is the weather today. I wish for more innovative ideas. I found one with Winter Wake-up. Living in a cold climate, I plan to use it this winter. For days where the roads are icy or when it snowed all night, this alarm clock app will wake you earlier than usual to give you time to defrost your car windows or showel the snow.
I see many ways where smartphone apps can make our life easier. What about you? Have you seen a cool home tech app lately? Which apps do you use to simplify your daily chores? Which one do you wish for?
Most kids don’t have any difficulty finding their way around tech devices, yet we probably wouldn’t let them out of sight with our phones or tablets.
Handcrafted from non-toxic wood and materials in Germany, this modern music box – hörbert – has all the functionality of an MP3 player combined with the charm of a vintage toy, yet it’s tough enough to withstand life with kids.
Since small children can’t read, 9 buttons on the front encourage them to explore different sounds and content via color. Old school switch and volume controls are easy for small fingers to grasp.
A secure back panel houses a 2 GB memory card, batteries and any necessary wiring – no cords or cables for little hands to disconnect, or little mouths to chew on.
hörbert can also be personalized for gift giving with custom wood engraving on the front, and is a lovely way to promote some music appreciation among the little ones in your life.
Today, I want to share my new music set up. For months, I lived almost without music and it was getting boring in my house. It all changed when the PR agency of SONOS sent me a free Play:3 Hi-Fi speaker system with a bridge. I got rid of my updated sound system one year ago because I found that the components took too much space. I do not use CDs anymore and I rarely listen to commercial radios. Therefore, I did not see the point of keeping a full sound system in my living room. I had to listen to music on my laptop or from the TV; none of which was ideal. Now, I have a wireless music system that truly fits my lifestyle.
Where should I start on all the positive things that I can say about the SONOS wireless music system? As a mom, what I need is to be able to control the system from anywhere in the house. SONOS uses my iPad or my iPhone as a controller. It also works on Android. We even installed the easy to use SONOS app on the iPhone of our babysitter. When she takes care of my son, she can access our iTunes music library or stream music from local radio stations or from the music services that we subscribe to. She loves it! SONOS is simple to setup and to operate. It delivers good quality sound and gives me access to the music I like when and where I want it.
The true power of SONOS comes from its multi-room capability. For that to work, you would need multiple speakers and the bridge. In return, you can play the same music in multiple rooms or your family can enjoy different tracks in every room. You decide how to group the rooms on the spot. Their sync function is awesome. You can add or drop rooms from your room grouping and still be in sync. I can use my iPhone to start playing and my husband can use his iPad to shut it down.
You can save your own playlists and build listening queue as you go. I like that I can replace the queue with one button. Playlists can be assign to room or room groups. A cool thing is that you can save playlists that mix your own music with tunes from music services. Another thing that I like is that you control the sound level per room or you adjust it for the room group.
The Play:3 speakers are powerful enough for an urban dwelling and regular size rooms. If you need more power, you can opt for the Play:5. I can hear the Play:3 speaker located in the living room when I am cooking. But I felt that adding a second speaker in our open kitchen/dining room would deliver a better sound experience. And it did! My husband listens to my wish and bought me one Play:3 for Christmas for our kitchen/dining area. You can say that SONOS really simplifies his Christmas shopping by sending me a sample. If we had two more speakers — one for the master bedroom and another for my son’s bedroom — I could claim that I have the ultimate wireless music system.
It took the brains of designer Angela Jansen and the mechanical and electrical engineer Ger Jansen to create the lamps of the future. They really mix the old with the new. The old comes from the classic lamp shapes. The new emerges from the technology used and displayed.
If you pay close attention to these table lamps, you will notice that their top is floating. Yes, you read correctly: the top part levitates due to a special technology that they developed. If you are looking for a true conversation piece to add to your living room or your home office desk, these two lamps will do it.
The standard universal power adaptor has a EU two pins power plug, but you can order an US power adaptor. You will find more details about their LED floating lamp collection here.
For the Star Wars fans in your life, here is a collection of USB flash drives with their favorite characters. One neat feature is that a face is revealed by removing their helmet.
Like in video games, some models carry an Easter egg. For example, one of 6 Darth Vader flash drives reveals the classic Anakin pale face. A limited edition of 500 units each provides Stormtrooper Han or Stormtrooper Luke with an extra cap. You have the choice to show the character shows their hair or the Stormtrooper helmet.
To reminisce a famous scene of the movie, have a look at this cute video featuring the Mimobot USB drives.
At last, my iPhone app is available to everyone for free. The app gives you access to the latest posts from At Home with Kim Vallee. You can search our old articles, tweet a post, share a story on Facebook or email it to a friend.I invite you to download my iPhone app on iTunes. And tell me what you think.
Earlier this summer, I got an iPad. My husband uses his iPad mostly to interact with friends on social networks and to read books with the Kindle application. I use my iPad to read magazines and do research for my blog. Why we have two is because an iPad is designed to be a personal device where you put your own content and subscribe to the content that interests you. we tried to share one and it was not practical. Plus, we would often want to use it at the same time.
Reading Magazines on the iPad
I read many international magazines. By subscribing to the digital version with Zinio, I save trees, I could save money (the price varies a lot from one publication to the next) but more important for an editor, I get fresher news. I just read the October 2010 issue of Living etc. It’s a huge advantage since the October print version of Living etc will hit the stores in Montreal in about month and a half. Finally, I save time since I do not need to wait in line to grab my magazines every month.
I can also read the magazine on my computer; Zinio supports Mac and PC. The nicer experience is definitely on the iPad. Once you downloaded an issue, you do not need to be connected to the Web to read the magazines. Therefore, it means that I can read the magazines anytime and anywhere.
So far, I went all digital for reading Dwell, Garden Design, Living etc, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur and Style at Home. I plan to add new ones as they become available.
Speakers usually won’t make the cut on my blog except that I could not resists this birdcage inspired speakers. designed by the Japanese brand Nendo, Music Cage is a wireless speaker that allows you to listen to music from a computer or Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone.I think it is charming.
Each speaker can be hanged on the ceiling or rest on a table like a lamp. For power, you either attach it to a ceiling-mounted electrical socket for light fixtures or plug it to a wall socket.