Archive for the ‘mom tech talk’ Category

ASUS Video Phone

January 19, 2010
Gossip With The Grandparents

Hear them, See them, Share your children’s life with them!


The ASUS Touch Video Phone!



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Talk about a great way to keep up with the grandparents?

The ASUS touch video phone is very cool, and looks all Jetsons.
And the bottom line:

  • It’s easy to set up.
  • Easy to get your Skype on!
  • And WIRELESS!
  • (Or connects to standard Ether Net).

My kids were especially keen to try it out.. ‘Hurry! Call grandma, I want to tell her about the Chinese Language program I just got into!’ OR from the 5yrold: ‘Can we call our cousin? I want to see what he got for Christmas!’

I’m talking super simple.
One button to turn it on. And then tap the screen: find your contacts, click to call with or without video and baby… YOU ARE SKYPING!

This is great for the non-computer savvy. You do have to have an internet connection: techy or not. Let’s imagine you have recently moved a few states away from the grandparents. And you are feeling a bit sad that they are missing some high points in your toddler’s life? Or your oldest just got braces… Maybe your middle kid broke his arm and needs some cheering up?

Who do you turn to? Grandma and Grandpa right? And wouldn’t it be awesome to chat with them via Skype where you can SEE them and they can SEE you?? Cool huh? The only thing is… although they have a computer and an internet connection you can barely get them to turn the dang thing on!

Seriously. They can figure this out.

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Photobucket Cost: $200-249.00

Photobucket YGWYPF: {yougetwhatyoupayfor}
That’s a pretty high price- I realize, but it’s also a much better web cam than on any laptop I’ve ever seen. And it’s hard to put a price on sharing moments with family members that you other wise would have to share over the phone or with emailed photos. I think this would make a great mother’s day present? I’d go in on it with my sister in fact!

*This GoodNCrazy Test Drive is brought to you by Kaplow and ASUS.

Science For Christmas??

November 28, 2009
What do Diet Coke and Mentos have in common?

Watch this video and find out!

NOTE the 24 second mark or you’ll miss the action!!
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I keep raving about how much my little boy is all over anything hands on. He wants project books for Christmas. He begs to look up project ideas online. He won’t let me check out picture books from the library anymore!

Well guess what?
I’ve found the perfect gift idea for my little science geek.


Review: Steve Spangler Science Kits
Price: $4.95 – $19.95 and up
Size: Small… from test tubes to small canisters to 4″x5″ boxes
Mess Factor: can be high, but with supervision nothing 5yrolds can’t handle

PhotobucketAha Factor: What’s NOT surprising and fun here? A Diet Coke Bottle Eruption!!? The teeny tiny frog robot kit (Robotikits) worked great! And look how cute this is? Hop Hop Hop… we found out it doesn’t work through windows only outside. Great observations to be made.

robotikits Frog solar powered steve spangler

robotikits steve spangler science

Something else we loved playing with was the ‘Insta Snow‘. Talk about fun to watch, fun to play with and if you put it in a big enough bowl it wasn’t messy either. And hey if you order any product today from SteveSpangler.com you get a container of Fake Snow free!

The last thing we had a ball playing with were the test tubes full of growing polymer experiments. From color changing beads to growing orbs, to a tiny alligater that GROWS! All with instructions and explanations and ideas for how to chart your ‘projects’. Was my little boy in Heaven?? OH YEAH.

PhotobucketThumbs Down Thoughts: The frog kit was seriously hard to put together. Partly because the parts were so small. The instructions were good, but no way even my 12yrold could have done this kit. Plus there were no extra parts, and at one point we lost a little screw… had to use a magnet to find it! (extra science lesson there huh?) The rest of our experments were easy and fast and though slightly messy, FUN for my kids!

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PhotobucketYGWYPF: (yougetwhatyoupayfor) I think the experiments are priced well. You do have to go buy your own Diet Coke, but the Mentos and tube are provided and $5 is a great stocking stuffer price. The frog solar robot is $14 and so far still working and entertaining us. The Insta-Snow is $10 for a small container but it’s big enough for a LOT of fun, and perfect for stocking stuffing too!


PhotobucketWho is Steve Spanger?
Nobody has more fun teaching science than Steve Spangler. He earned his credentials as a science author, teacher, professional speaker, toy designer and an Emmy award-winning television personality. But, he remains a big kid at heart as he teaches people how to launch potatoes, whip up the perfect batch of slime and turn an ordinary bottle of soda into an erupting geyser of fun. His best-selling science kits and educational toys help to get kids excited about science at home…. (and he) demonstrate his true passion for making learning fun. —SteveSpangler.com website

Disclosure: Product provided by SteveSpangler.com

Kid Science Projects

November 22, 2009
My little boy LOVES the library.


Shocker huh? I’m sure a lot of little boys love the library. My girls certainly still do. But the thing is: He never leaves the little kid NON-fiction area.

IMG00391.jpg

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He calls it the ‘projects’ area.
And we nearly have the whole section memorized. Rocks and Mineral books are over here on the right. The planet and space books are up there on the left. The Monster Truck drawing books are down at the end. But oh my goodness the ones we MUST have, as in have checked out twice and thrice and more? They are right there in the middle. THE PROJECT BOOKS.

Photobucket

He is in love with anything science. He doesn’t allow me to check out picture books for him anymore. Our most recent trip scored 2 Magic School Bus Videos and possibly one of the best ‘project’ books we have yet to find. Gizmos and Gadgets! (Translation, the projects inside are easy to do, short lived and work with literally the household items we have on hand at home…) I hate when a project includes: run to the store buy $14 of weird stuff you will never use again, go home & make a huge messy project, ending with mom turning into a monster at the end of the day.

Two of our favorite projects from this book are: Creating a sling shot airplane (above) and a Friction Robot (see the video)!


My Friend Barb showed me the wonder of Steve Spangler Science Kits… And YAY! Can you say 5yrold HEAVEN (Or Christmas presents and stocking stuffers!) I’ll show some of the kits next week…

Photoshop Actions! How Fun….

November 7, 2009

I am an unrepentant Photoshop Elements fan.geek.user.
As in addicted.
I refuse to stop.
I am self taught.. if Youtube counts as self mastery…
Then whatever.

SOOC (My friend’s baby….)

After I boosted the levels and saturation and schtuff in Elements 6.

I aspire to big boy Adobe Photoshop CS. But on a blogger’s salary, (I know you’re laughing) $600 isn’t even a possibility. So. Instead I push my ugly-step-sister Elements 6 to the limit. (Yes I know 8 has already been released. Bite me.)

Things I’ve mastered in Photoshop Elements:
Layers… pretty much if you don’t get layers, you really can’t use the program.
Levels… I didn’t say I knew what it all meant, but I love playing with levels, the whole 256 light values and all that.
Hue/Saturation… The color stuff above.
The bandaid thingy… (no way am I leaving in all my zits!)
Burn/Dodge/Sponge… basically I use these when I think I’m creating ‘drama’ around the edges of the photos…

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I need you to understand. 2 years ago when I first brought home my baby Elements, I was glued to Youtube tutorials, wasted money on bought books, and basically stole whole library sections on digital photography to teach myself. In fact still, one of my favorite newsletters is from Sue Chastain from About.com, she shares her Adobe knowledge and her *free stuff* too! (PS @AdobeElements is on twitter if you want to tell them I’d love to ‘test-drive’ photoshop… I’d give it back…)

Early on I realized the one big limitation of Elements as opposed to Big Boy Photoshop… is the inability to run actions. Well fine. {I was a bit peeved.} Because do you know what ACTIONS can do?

ACTIONS make you look like the pros. Not just pretend (like me). Not just run the basics like levels and hue/saturation… oh no. My friends if you thought the image above looks great from the teeny tiny bit of photoshop lurve I can muster…

Wait til you see what professional actions can do. I just found out it was all a big fat lie. And the person who showed me the light… is Marcel Walker from MyPhotographica.com. She walked me through the process and made Action download magic with my Elements. Sexy huh?

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I give you: Honey Daze

Boom baby!
See what I mean?
Oh my freaking baby face beauty.

And Zoom Zoom:

I’m thinking this action will be awesome on a landscape, yes?

And Tea Time:

How absolutely amazing is that?
And PEOPLE this is a one. step. process. Numero UNO!
You heard me.
Beep boop bop.
Done.
Gorgeous.


Marcel Sells groupings of these professional style Action sets on her site: MyPhotographica.com
There are 24 actions for sale plus some great freebie stuff: actions, textures.. you’ll love it! And if you ask her real nice she’ll make sure you figure out how to run your actions too!

Enjoy!

I think I get to say that Marcel ‘traded’ me these action sets for some fun bloggy advice. Does that count as a disclosure?

Won’t You Join My Qlubb?

October 5, 2009

Please meet some of my BEST pals!

Tech Mom Playdate!


I was asked to test out Qlubb.com.

And at first I didn’t get what it was for?
Here’s their tagline:

“Qlubb: for organizing groups anything else is chaos”

Hmmm? I was intrigued. I dug deeper.
How can I better organize my group or club?

They ask:

Are you a Soccer mom?
Do you run your school’s PTA?
Are you a class mom?
Or do you Run a Women’s group?

Or… a Bookclub…?

Oh now we’re talkin’. We have been trying to get our local bookclub organized better for months I even tried opening a google group email account. But none of the moms replied to the invite…(it went to spam?) and I couldn’t figure out how to manually add them??

I gave Qlubb.com a shot.

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Dude. It was unbelievably easy.
Like three steps of easy:

1. Register for an account.
Think up a name that will double as both your group’s private website URL, AND your group’s joint email address. It will look like:

http://YOURGROUP.Qlubb.com
and
YOURgroup@Qlubb.com

Plus your group will have it’s own password protection, so come up with something everyone will be able to remember! {I chose the title of one of the books we all loved last year.}

2. Send a quick email invite to all the members in your group.
(And if the moms in your group are not tech savvy like some in mine weren‘t… you can create each member’s account and get them set up for receiving group emails). A very cool part is that they do not have to interact with the website if they don’t want to. Several of the moms in my bookclub only wanted to have emails sent to them, not have to worry about ‘posting’ to the site or anything. Which is totally fine!

3. Customize your new Qlubb..Club!
Lots of options, and they came with quick easy instructions:

  • There is a group calendar (by FAR my favorite part of the whole site).
  • An update area called ‘Blurbs’. This is like a wall…{if you get facebook then you will understand how the update area works}.
  • The picture upload is really popular with my group.
  • I like seeing the list of messages that have gone out to or from the group all in one place as well.

So far this has worked out really fabulously. The person in charge of scheduling the dates and homes for the next 6 months was able to go in and create an event in the calendar for all those book nights. Plus she set them to remind everyone a week before the date is coming! LOVE THAT!

And even better— there have been several other uses for our Qlubb site that weren’t immediately obvious… for example: I recently helped put on a MaxMom Fundraiser event partnering with OfficeMax. And I was able to add the party to the calendar and send out an invite to everyone in the ‘Qlubb‘. Plus we often jump into ad hoc park playdates or quick runs to the lake or the library. And now a quick email dashed off to our GROUP@qlubb.com email address means everyone in the group has a heads up {if they check their email daily.. like I do that is}!

If you’d like more organization and less chaos for your group or club? Go ahead, make yours an organized Qlubb!

Qlubb.com was created by Sophie Chiang and get this, her twitter username is: @OphieSay! I thought that was totally clever! By referring others to Qlubb.com you could win a CitizenPip Lunch System! Happy Qlubbing!

In case you’re interested, Our upcoming books:

  • Movie Night: Secret Life Of Bees

  • Eragon—Christopher Paolini
  • Bride Most Begrudging—Deeanne Gist
  • Ophelia—Lisa Klein
  • Hamlet—Shakespeare
  • The Book Thief—Markus Zusac
  • The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

Disclaimer: I was asked to review Qlubb.com, and received a citizenpip lunch box as compensation.

GoodNCrazy Blogs a List!

September 12, 2009
My bloglist

computer laptop keyboard HP Pavilion Entertainment PC

In No Particular Order…
…or… in the order I found them…

This list is incomplete. A work in progress if you will…
But it’s a start… and ya gotta start somewhere!
If you think your blog should be listed here PLEASE let me know!

Of course if you want to check out my friends in the bloggy world—how awesome! But remember I have no control over their world— as always, read at your own risk!

Keyboard Shortcut Keys I Use

August 18, 2009
Keyboard shortcut keys

I can’t live without these babies.
Keyboard Shortcuts for Firefox and Internet in general:

1) There are times when nothing will do but a heart.
Not the word. The icon: i♥u.
alt + 3. {Easy huh? ♥♥♥}

2) I open my pictures folder ALL. THE. TIME. Here’s a tutorial on how to create a keyboard shortcut to open your pictures folder.

3) My new favorite (this is thanks to the fabulous @ErinJeany who promised a tutorial complete with screenshots so-go-bug-her-about-that-eh?) is to download the FireFox Add-on called: InFormEnter. It helps with all that blog-commenting-form-entering especially helpful if you have a long blog title!!

4) F5, I swear the twitter world kept this secret from me! F5 is ‘refresh‘. As in when you are on your replies page in Twitter: F5 will refresh your replies! (And any other webpage.)

5) F6, I just found this one too. Jumps you up to the http:// box when you are in a webpage. I LOVE that!

6) M-dash. What? You know that longish dash thing? Like this—… {alt + 0151}

7) á: alt + 0225 { Voilá!}

8) è: alt + 0232 {When you must type Renèe}

These are some more common ones you might already know, but just in case:

Control T: Opens new tab
Control+shift+T: Opens recently closed tab (need this ALL the time!)
Control W: Closes the 26 open tabs I find opened and I don’t always know how?!
(Would love to be able to highlight and close more than one at a time tho??)
Control A: Select all
Control C: Copy selected
Control V: Paste Selected
Control F: Open Search Bar
Control J: Open downloads box (good when you need to revisit a recent download)
Control K: Switch to google search bar
Escape button: Stops loading a page
And a whole slew more @: Arnold’s Site.

*UPDATE
Jenn from You Know That Blog has added some more ‘alt codes‘ (I didn’t even know they were called that!)

© alt+0169
° degree alt+176
¢ alt+0162

Here is a list of more ‘alt codes‘.


Does anyone know how to get blogger.com to create a shortcut for entering a link? {It’s control-K in word?}

Photo Credit: Kathryn_Rotondo

My New Camera. My New View On Life.

August 11, 2009

Nikon: Luv At First Shot, First Snap, First Zoom… You get the picture…!


You know how a digital camera if used pretty heavily (like mine is) kind of poops out at about the 2 year mark? Well my Kodak Point and Shoot is well over 4 years old. But how well loved is this camera?! How I have pushed it to it’s limit! How it’s battery runs out so quickly!
A Kodak Z7590:

5megapixels (more than enough for a point and shoot)
Plenty of custom modes: like flower, fireworks, nighttime portrait to name a few of my favorites
Fabulous Optical Zoom (although the digital “extra” zoom was useless)
Easy control of flash: off, fill-flash, red-eye, auto
Video Camera: great for catching those hard to catch moments

Bottom line, I’ll be keeping my Kodak: it’s big enough to do the job and small enough to fit in my purse and not worry too much about it. (Plus the hubster says he might try figuring it out a bit more.. so there!)

The Nikon Love Story Unfolds….

I’ve been researching Digital SLR cameras for a long time now. (2 years!) The ability to press the shutter and have it TAKE the picture right then! I don’t think I can say enough about how much I’ve been ready for that! Yes I want more megapixels.. who doesn’t! But even more, I’m ready for a camera that I can control the zoom and focus point. I’m all about using the macro (little flower icon) mode lately, and choosing to focus on a blade of grass or my niece’s face is where it’s at!

My Dad got a Nikon D60 for Christmas, and when he was in town I played and played with it. I’m no expert and figuring out how to set all the manual settings proved to be too much for me.. I don’t have the patience to set the F-stop and the shutter speed and all that?? I still need some serious help there… plus it has no video camera, and you can’t use the LCD screen to take pictures, and there were only a couple built in camera modes, but it did have the macro mode? And oh my joy it takes the most beautiful pictures!

Every time I saw a friend with either a Canon or a Nikon I’d beg them to let me shoot with it. And I’m afraid I was suffering from the sin of ‘I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT THAT’.

Over Mother’s Day we marched into a Costco while on vacation in Phoenix. We had every intent to buy the Nikon D60. But… we decided 1) the box was huge and we had to fly home with it and 2) there is no sales tax in Oregon saving us over $50 buying at our own Costco.

Only.. the next time we got to Costco, THEY didn’t have it?? What?? I’m THIS close and they DON’T have it!? I looked online. Nope. No Nikon Luv for me. And worse? It was decided that my daughter needed her first installment in the orthodontic breakthebank/we-have-no-ortho insurance/palate expander. The exact same cost as the camera. Que the sad music. It’s a very nice metal piece in her mouth, but not really satifying to take pictures with, maybe as a radio antenna?

Fast forward a few months. We are at the family reunion. My dad has a Nikon. My sister has a Nikon, even my BIL has NIKON! I picked up my sister’s camera and after talking to her realized she knows absolutely nothing about the thing!? HUH? She’s so not worthy of it’s majesty. I took some shots with it, and then some more, and… then I filled her whole memory card! Babies, cousins, grandma’s flowers, 4wheelin’, river raftin’ (no not ON the river with it! give me some credit!). And I was getting pretty good with it. The main thing I couldn’t figure out was how to turn the fill flash on so it will fire regardless of light?

Anyway… this longer than we’ve ever been on a family vacation, was about 2/3rds over. And the mom and the dad left the kids with the grandparents (oh how grateful we were to them!) to fly off to Seattle and celebrate their 15th anniversary, (yes we’re THAT happy together!). How cute is this? We spent our honeymoon in Seattle, so this was like our reunion tour… except.. this time we could afford to stay in a nicer hotel, one that didn’t have a pocket door for a bathroom, didn’t have bugs and didn’t smell. Why am I telling you all this?

Because there was a package waiting for us at the hotel upon check-in?? Huh? You’re kidding me, the hubby had his office ship out some of his documents and such so he could work on them while on our Second Honeymoon?! Well, no. Turns out, he made ME open the box. And in it.. was a wrapped gift. With an anniversary card on it. And.. it was wrapped a second time. With a Mother’s day card on it. And… it was wrapped a THIRD time! With a birthday card on it…

You already know don’t you?

THIS was inside.

A Nikon!
A Nikon D5000.
Huh? Haven’t I been blubbering over the D60?

The D5000 has a live view screen!
The D5000 has a video camera!
The D5000 has 12(freakin’)MEGApixels!
The D5000 has EXTRA shooting modes!
The D5000 has…

a really large price tag…!

Ahhhhh, now I get it. This gift.. ?
Is my birthday/mother’s day/anniversary present for the next 15 years!

I say. It’s a deal! Worth my new view on life! Thanks to my husband of 15 years. For all the fun, worth taking pictures. For all the crazy, DEFINITELY worth taking pictures. For all the Luv, and all that’s still to come.

Here’s to 15 more!

(Vancouver Stanley Park.. is this amazing.. taken from a trolley bus!)

Technical Difficulties: The Re-Install

August 7, 2009

  • Step One: Pray for a safe return
  • Step Two: Back up EVERYTHING on Mozy Digital Backup System.
  • Step Three: Pray my Photos are safe.
  • Step Four: …. um.. now what? How do I start over anyway?

Gonna be a long weekend. The plan is to have the hard drive re-installed and some additional RAM added?

And if that fails?
Time to go hunting for some computer deals!

Please Send Internet Karma My Way?

Thanks.

~~~

Update:

The Re-Install was successful.
The wireless driver that was the problem in the first place?
Apparently that was a common promlem on my type of laptop and they were replacing them up until APRIL of this year. So if yours fell apart AFTER APRIL of this year?? Too bad, that will cost $400 to replace the mother board.
Good Night. I need to take a break from pain in the butt computers for a weekend. Ugh.

~~~~

Update: Update:

Okay. You can buy an ‘external’ wireless driver thingy (looks like a flash/thumb drive) plugs into a usb port. Cost: $39.
Now for the memory update. For $35 I purchased two 1GB RAM Memory sticks AND installed them both (BY. MY. SELF.—pats on back) after watching a YouTube video. Am I awesome or what? Ready to re-install Photoshop Elements version 6 and see if we rock with our extra RAM…?

~~~

So far total cost $74 (and one very annoying weekend).

~~~

last one…
We’re back… all my photos are safe and sound and all tucked in..
Thank you and good night.

Your Camera Wants You To, Seriously!

July 24, 2009

Do you ever take a look around a photography blog and wish you could take dreamy pictures like they do? Here’s a quick explanation about lighting from Bonnie who is the professional photographer behind the lens at Bonnie Loves Pictures Photography.
Let her show you the light…

Auto or manual settings…
What’s the difference anyway?

—Photos and post by Bonnie of BonnieLovesPicturesPhotography and blog.

My hubby works from noon to 10:00 pm. When he comes home at night, I’m usually on the computer editing pictures and our three-year-old son is asleep on our bed (I know, but it’s the only place he’ll sleep, okay!) Usually I have the closet light on and it shines just enough light on my son stopping the whining about how dark it is in my room. Just so you know, when he doesn’t stop whining, I bribe him by telling him if he sleeps in his own room, I’ll buy him a HUGE Spiderman night light. —It never works, btw.

On this particular night, my son fell asleep with his Darth Vader costume on, INCLUDING the hard, plastic mask. My husband and I had a good laugh and then a picture of course!

  • Exposure: 1/8 sec
  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • ISO speed: 1600
  • Focal length: 50 mm

I have no idea why the only way he could sleep was with this costume on, but look, I’m tired, I’m busy, and if he wants to wear a costume to sleep, I’m all for it! This first picture is interesting because I was able to:

  • control the amount of light entering my camera (aperture)
  • determine how long my camera sensor was exposed to light (shutter speed)
  • choose the camera sensor for the light available (ISO speed)

I was able to capture a shot that truly looks like it was taken in the dark, with just a little closet light shining on my son. Let me show you the exact picture, with my camera on Auto.

It looks like I hauled my bed outside in broad daylight, forced my poor child to lay on it and pretend to be asleep, all so I could take a picture for this blog post. I didn’t, I promise. I had my camera on Auto and the on-camera flash went off. Good thing my son didn’t wake up, I tell ya.

If you have a camera that came with a good sized manual in the box, you probably have a camera that has different settings and modes. If you already know this and do this on a regular basis, then let’s get your photog on!

Now if you have a camera with these different settings, but you’ve never dared try them out or learn what your camera can do, I ask you to go and learn! Discover what beautiful things you and your camera can capture when the two of you know each other better.

Your camera wants you to, seriously.