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Archive for the ‘tech’ tag

December 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Cool Tech Gift Ideas for the Holidays

perfect giftHere we are again. Shopping for the holidays. Trying to find just the right gift for everyone on your list is enough to cause an outbreak of hives. I’m always looking for creative and useful ideas so I’m an easy target for all the “best of” lists. So from a tech mom perspective, I’ll pass on a few of the best ones I’ve found. The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune to give tech!

Have a look at This unique site is a mecca for fun and quirky items that celebrate the uniqueness of their love of say, zombies and bacon.

Want to give an experience rather than a thing? Check out and see what kind of unique opportunities exist in your region. Some of them are rather pricey but there are options for everything from flying to fly fishing for all budgets.

Looking for a way to get more from your TV? Stream videos and internet content with Google’s Chromecast. At $35 and the size of a USB drive, simply plug it in to your HDTV (wifi required) and watch movies, TV shows, videos or listen to music on the big screen, all controlled by your smartphone or computer.

For the music lover, portable Bluetooth speakers that let you hear your digital tunes wirelessly are a terrific idea. At the higher end are Jawbone, Sonos, and Bose options but there are many other lower cost options too.

Flash drives are a great stocking stuffer. And there are tons of novelty models out there from sushi, cartoon characters and my favorite, a rubber thumb.

WiFi SD cards are another great gift. Use these cards in your camera to enable automatic uploading to your PC or the web. Nice!

How about turning your iPad into an air hockey game? What? Yes, for under $15, iPieces is an app that does just that. Check it out at Pressman Toys.

And for that personalized gift, how about a custom iPhone case from Casetagram? Turn a favorite photo into a canvas work of art or a dozen adorable photos into a monthly calendar for the grandparents. Sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish and CafePress offer many options for turning photos into creative gifts.  Sure beats a tie or yet another scarf.

May your holidays be merry and bright. And your gift giving a joy!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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June 4th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Let Your Voice Do The Typing with Google Conversational Search

First there was search. Really, can you even remember where we got our info before search engines? How incredibly useful to be able to just type in anything and get links to all the information related to that topic you could want (or not).

Then came the ability to speak to your computer and enter your search topic verbally. Just click on the handy dandy microphone icon in the search box and ask away. Depending on the specific question, the Google lady will answer you. How handy is that?

Now, Google has taken verbal search one step further with Conversational Search in their Chrome browser. Ask a question, like “What’s the temperature in Miami?” The Google lady will answer, “It’s 80 degrees in Miami right now.” But if you wanted a little more info about Miami right now, you could phrase the next question “is it raining there?”

With conversational search, the response will be “ Yes (or No) it is (not) raining in Miami right now”. Notice the second question did not mention Miami, but since the original question was about Miami, the search engine will relate the raining “there” to the prior question and continue giving you information about Miami. Sort of like how humans can carry on a conversation. Your computer just got a little more human!

I’ve tried this out and had mixed results. Sometimes it works great and my jaw drops a little. Other times the connection is lost between the first and second question. But you and I both know that Google software geeks are hard at work making this concept a reality.

When they do get it right, there’s going to be a lot more talking than typing going on between us and our computers. Yeah, it’s a little scary, but imagine having all that search capability not just at your fingertips, but just by asking.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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