Last-Minute Holiday Gifts 2015

14 December, 2015 Life No comments
Last-Minute Holiday Gifts 2015

Once again the holidays are here, and once again millions will be on the hunt for last-minute gifts. Luckily, as ever, we’ve got you covered in terms of great ideas from high-tech gear to fashion accessories, automotive options to grooming gear, that should prove instant crowd-pleasers for just about anyone on your list. We’ve teamed up with a few great companies to help with this year’s tech picks – here are some awesome gift ideas for all of your holiday shopping needs.

For example: Just about everyone has a smartphone these days, so accessories like phone cases will work for just about everyone on your list. You probably know OtterBox for their critically-acclaimed protective cases and with their new Symmetry Series of slim protective cases, they’ll soon be known for their sleek styling too. The slim case is great for the inevitable drops and dings, which makes it the perfect gift for all the smartphone owners out there. As an added bonus, you can also find it in a variety of colors and designer patterns, plus it’s available for Apple, Samsung, and Motorola devices and more.

One gift guys can always use too is grooming tools, and Wahl is definitely the way to go. Their latest and greatest are the Elite Pro Clipper and Lithium Ion+ Trimmer. They cover it all, from hair cutting to facial hair trimming, and are the most powerful in their class. Both feature patented ground blades for a smooth and even cut every time. A lot of guys can be very particular about grooming tools, but they’ll certainly dig these—and they’re sold at major stores nationwide, as well as online at Wahlgrooming.com, making shopping even easier.

You can also send recipients on your gift-giving list from the couch to riding a motorcycle in just a few days with Harley-Davidson’s Riding Academy. Call your local Harley dealership for details. Or, you can also shift gears and give the ultimate gift in the new Iron 883 motorcycle, part of Harley’s most powerful cruiser line up ever. Rider or not, Harley-Davidson has something this holiday season for everyone including great gift ideas like trendy leather jackets and accessories like bags, toolkits, even rocks glasses for entertaining. Most gifts are under $100, and dozens are under $50. See it all at www.H-D.com/holiday.

3D printers are all the rage too. If you’re in the market for one, be sure to have a look at the Dremel 3D Idea Builder! It’s a fast, easy-to-use 3D printer you can operate right out of the box. It’s great for encouraging creativity and problem-based learning for students of all kinds. With a broad assortment of free, print-ready models downloadable from Dremel3D.com or around the web, you can create endless possibilities for your projects with 3D printing. This is such an exciting technology that inspires critical thinking and gives you the option to turn all sorts of fun ideas into tangible physical objects.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of amazing presents to pick from in 2015 and beyond. Be sure to check back frequently for more top gift ideas!

Best Travel Apps of All Time

Best Travel Apps of All Time

Oh how we love technology! Thanks to the efficiencies smartphones, tablets and other devices offer, business travel has never been more seamless for today’s working professional – especially during peak vacation season when your mind may be traveling to things outside of work. Just recently when we were on business in Chicago, for example, I stayed at the Hyatt Place Chicago/River North and experienced their high-tech hotel rooms. It just took a quick recharge on a nearby USB port, connection to the free Wi-Fi network and tap of a finger to quickly access files. Today it’s unbelievably easy to stay up-to-date and in touch!

As the Hyatt Place Seamless Travel Series’ Tech-spert, I was recently asked “what are the best apps to help you travel more smoothly” during a Twitter party with #TravelSkills. With hundreds of free or cost-affordable apps available for download now, you can almost manage the whole travel process from your phone. From booking your hotel room and dinner reservations to your scheduling your next flight and car service pickup, it’s important to know the best ones to utilize. For your convenience and entertainment, here are some of my favorite travel apps of all time, designed to help road warriors make the most of every trip:

Worldmate

www.worldmate.com

No matter how complex your travel itinerary gets, you can easily manage it with this tool from most smartphones and tablets. You can track and organize your flight schedules, hotel bookings and car reservations, or pull up weather forecasts, maps and more. For business travelers, you can even use it to juggle appointments, so you don’t end up at showing up at the right time at the wrong client’s office.

Evernote

www.evernote.com

Need to create a to-do list, share audio clips and images, or simply want to clip and save an interesting article you spotted for reading later? Try Evernote, an online organization app that lets you save notes, files, images, and websites you’ve bookmarked, then synchronize them across devices and access the information from anywhere. Among the best ways to keep current projects, it plays the role of virtual assistant, helping you cut through the clutter and more effectively manage your digital life.

Hyatt Hotels

www.hyatthotels.hyatt.com/mobile

Hunting for a hotel while on the road? Hyatt’s multilingual mobile app for Android and iPhone devices lets you book stays at hundreds of Hyatt hotels, including my personal favorite – Hyatt Place, which offers free Wi-Fi, USB recharging stations and a comfy work areas in roomy rooms specifically designed for business travelers. You can also manage reservations right from the app and access local maps or driving directions, and you can even handle check-ins and checkouts right from your pocket.

Dragon Dictation

www.nuance.com

Great for getting work done while sprinting between appointments, this handy speech recognition app translates your voice into text, so you can speak your texts or emails for later use in seconds. This is also a handy way to get ideas and thoughts down on virtual paper. The next time you’re sitting at the airport and inspiration strikes, try rattling it off before you forget – you may be surprised at how brilliant a solution you’ve come up with later.

Snap One

www.snapone.com

If you’re a working parent, you know how difficult it can be to stay on top of everyone’s schedule, especially while traveling. Snap One’s suite of cloud (online) apps helps solve the problem by letting you securely and privately share contacts and calendars with your family, as well as bring your files, photos, videos and documents wherever you travel. You can essentially bring your desktop along on any trip and send snapshots and videos to family back home.

TOTALe

www.totale.rosettastone.com

Need to pickup a few common phrases for a trip overseas (Where’s the bathroom? orWhere can I find the best local restaurant?)? Rosetta Stone’s travel-friendly app helps you brush up on various languages to easily translate dialogue or practice your pronunciation. There’s also a desktop version that offers live chats and group activities so you can quickly go from flustered to fluent.

Skype

www.skype.com

Numerous apps from FaceTime to Google Hangouts make it possible to easily videoconference with clients and colleaguesfrom a variety of gadgets. But Skype remains among the most widely popular solutions for mobile meetings or phoning back home to say helloin realtime. Suitable for both personal and professional use, it provides a free and seamless solution for video chats, so you can enjoy some face-to-face time with clients and coworkers, and – wherever you travel – be there to tuck your kids in and say goodnight.

This post was sponsored by Hyatt Place as part of its Seamless Travel Series. The opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Family Cloud Computing Tips: 5 Ways to Get Connected

Family Cloud Computing Tips: 5 Ways to Get Connected

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

Adapt to survive and thrive! That’s the motto of today’s tech-centric world, and families can heed that advice by taking advantage of the latest digital solutions available. After all, technology hasn’t just transformed the way we communicate, educate and entertain ourselves. It’s also opened up a world of connectivity and convenience for today’s family.

Luckily for those managing a modern household (wait: when did the four year-old learn to use our smartphone?), balancing both real and digital life doesn’t have to be difficult either. All you have to do is tap into the power of the cloud – a.k.a. online services and solutions – to stay on top of your day and everyone’s schedule.

Case in point: A variety of new high-tech tools make it easy to connect the pixilated dots by putting everything you need, from photos to calendars and phone numbers, in one place and synchronizing data across all of your family’s devices. Using these cloud services – accessible from virtually any Internet-connected gadget – you can easily login and share contacts and calendars with loved ones, or access songs, snapshots or videos nearly anytime, anywhere. But the beauty here isn’t just the ability to keep everyone on the same page, or easily share all your favorite stuff with friends and family. It’s that you can use cloud services in unexpected ways to keep in touch with loved ones, and keep up with life’s thrilling twists and turns. In essence, wherever you travel, your family travels with you – and so does all of your favorite stuff.

What makes these online software applications so handy, especially for those of us on the go, isn’t just their versatility. (You can securely store and pull down everything from chart-topping tunes to book reports to home videos from Internet-connected devices on-demand.) It’s the fact that as a parent, you can also backup everything in one secure spot where it’s easy to grab and share, and  manage and monitor family life online.

For example, Snap One provides a handy method for sharing contacts and calendars or storing all of the stuff that matters most to you online, so you can easily grab it as needed or get it back if lost. The cloud service’s apps also provide a helpful way to stay on top of kids’ comings and goings, protect your family’s privacy, and enjoy greater peace of mind.

Looking to provide your family with a convenient way to stay organized, safe, and stay up to date? Maybe it’s time you put your head in the cloud. Here are a few handy tips that can help you start putting the best that this technology has to offer to work for you and your children- and putting your increasingly hectic schedule back together.

Store More

Want to put all of your favorite files at your fingertips wherever you travel, so no one “accidentally” leaves homework lying around, misplaces the babysitter’s phone number, or forgets to bring grandma those photos she keeps asking for? Cloud storage solutions (which can archive data online so it’s accessible anytime, anywhere) make it easy to take contacts, calendars and files wherever you go. Back-up your data to the cloud and not only are secure copies readily available to be enjoyed and shared with friends and family on-demand, they’re also available to berestored in minutes if data should ever get corrupted, or should you ever lose your smartphone or tablet. Inside tip: setting devices to automatically back-up information, especially at times when you’re not using them (e.g. overnight), can help ensure that your data is always up-to-date, and that it’s always nestled safely in the cloud. Oh, and if you’re headed somewhere sunny this Spring? For fun, try setting up your devices to send vacation snapshots up to an online private area that you can share with friends and family, so they can keep up with all your travels.

Get it Together

The average high-tech household owns nearlya dozen different devices – and we’re all using an increasing variety of mobile and desktop solutions to connect. To stay organized and on top of your digital life, consider using a cloud solution, which can unite your family’s favorite files and information in one handy spot. (And that are easily visited whether you’re using a tablet, PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android or Windows Phone device.) That way, you can synchronize contacts, calendars and files across a full range of gadgets, and provide your family with access to all of your favorite photos, songs and videos in one convenient online hub.

A great way to start Spring-cleaning this season: Organize documents, photos, phone numbers and more online, then watch as clutter quickly clears across your family’s full range of devices. If you’re a parent, you’ll especially want to consider personal clouds, e.g. those Snap One provides, designed specifically for families.

To get more from solutions like these, try using them not just to manage your family’s data, but also track kids’ real-world comings and goings, and/or browsing habits.

Connect Safely

As increasingly mobile and connected as today’s kids are, many parents are looking to technology to provide greater peace of mind. Be sure to take advantage of the parental controls built into Internet-connected devices and operating systemsto keep tabs on kids’ online activity, filter out inappropriate content, and block unwanted calls. Naturally, you’ll also find them built into many popular cloud applications as well. These tools can help you keep track of where kids are at in real-life, and where they’re hanging out online, without having to helicopter over them.

Using the parental controls built into family-oriented cloud solutions like Snap Secure (which offers many handy safeguards) doesn’t just provide the ability to monitor call and text history, track Internet browsing and block specific phone numbers either. It also allows you to pinpoint your children’s location at any given moment, receive alerts when kids step out of preset safety zones, and setup quick response calls in case there’s an emergency. Spring break is a fun time, but if you’re a parent, it pays to make sure your kids are enjoying they’re time in Orlando as agreed, not Cancun.

Disinfect Yourself

Viruses and malware are among today’s fastest-growing online threats on mobile and desktop devices and are a huge concern for Android users in particular. Actively guard against them by being careful about what you click on, which sites you browse, and not opening attachments from unknown or unexpected sources. Worried that a pesky infection may be going around? Be sure to setup automatic antivirus software scans – and to keep your software safeguards up to date on the latest updates (i.e. defenses). Cloud solutions such as SnapSecure, which employs the #1 ranked Bitdefender antivirus solution, help provide a further line of defense, letting you remotely schedule virus scans from your smartphone, or even wipe data from lost devices.

Of course, it’s also important to keep your personal information private. Always be careful of what you share with others online, and don’t assume privacy settings are set by default. The nice part about personal clouds, which we discussed earlier: you can quickly and easily set them up to provide access to those you trust – and prevent access by those you don’t.

Rock On

To get the most from the cloud, don’t forget to enjoy the freedom (and fun) it brings. Clearly, online apps can help us be safer and more productive, but did you know that these solutions can also entertain (and soothe the savage toddler) as well? Just one example: Using streaming media solutions such as Snap Play, which let you store and access your music library or enjoy custom playlists from virtually anywhere, it’s easy to bring the party with you wherever you go. (You can even listen to all your iTunes music on an Android device.) Put your favorite albums and songs in the cloud, and not only can you save storage space on your computer or smartphone,you can beam your favorite tunes down on-demand, and enjoy them whenever, wherever, no matter if you’re at a picnic or out for a afternoon jog. Plus, there’s always the added bonus of being able to pull up a movie for Mom and Dad as needed – or a cartoon, if a little peace and quiet is even more needed instead.

As you can see, cloud services provide a great complement to the technology and devices you already know and love. So why worry about whose turn it is to pick up the kids (you did remember to get them from school today, right?), when you can put all your family’s calendars, contacts and most important files just a click or tap away?

Get the whole family connected on a cloud solution to stay connected, organized and safe!