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Friday, September 28, 2012

Shop Till You Drop or Till You Loose Internet Connection


The Internet has changed the music business in a major way, ruined the newspaper industry, and took down major retailers with massive retail stores. Does anyone remember Blockbuster, where you could rent videos, or Borders where you would buy books? These are both major businesses that are gone. We all now know the names Netflix and Amazon.

Shopping online is such an advantage to a busy mom or a career woman who has little time. Although shopping until you drop has the advantage of burning calories; clicking your buy button is easy and convenient.



The growth of online retail shopping is stunning. Each year more and more consumers venture online to do their shopping.  We are lured by websites and smart phone apps that make it easier than ever before to spot deals, compare prices, research products, and ultimately make a purchase while on the go or from the comfort of your own home.
Personally, I still do shop the “old way” visiting retail stores, trying things on, comparing different products, and enjoying a Starbucks while strolling down isles. We all obviously still shop the way we always have in the past.  I just don't do it as frequently as I once did. I think that a lot of us are trading in some of these ventures for a shopping experience online. Last year I found that I changed some of my buying habits to avoid the craziness at the stores during the holiday season. Yes I said holiday season, hard to believe but the thoughts of Christmas shopping are starting to creep back into my mind. Last year, not only did I buy more Christmas presents than ever online, I also enjoyed the convenience of staying home while the products shipped to my door. I have to say; I enjoyed mixing my shopping up to include more online shopping and avoiding the lines.
That all being said, in my opinion, just because more people shop online doesn't mean they'll stop shopping at stores completely. None of us know what the future holds in 20 years from now. I do know that online buying is easy and is increasing as a percentage of purchases made every year. I also know I do enjoy trying things on, the experience of shopping in retail stores, etc. I do not think the store is dead by any means. I just feel that shopping online with shipping to your door helps you. Shop without the drop!.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fun: iPads In The Classroom and Contest Winners

If you do a Google search for iPads in schools, it will return all sorts of articles about schools purchasing and using iPads in the classroom.  There is an iPad pilot program in every state (for schools and Universities). It’s been a little over 2 years since the iPad was first introduced and in that short amount of time Apple has sold at least 64 million iPads!  I read an article that said the iPad has sold the most units of any item ever sold in a 2 year timeframe.  (iPhone5 might beat that record though.) Considering the price is around $400 that’s pretty amazing. 
It makes perfect sense that iPads would be used in schools.  Cost-wise it’s cheaper to buy an iPad than a desktop computer—less money for schools to have to put out for technology.  They are also small and portable.  Instead of kids having to go to the computer lab they can have the “lab” right at their desk or in group work on the floor or even take them home! 
I think in the long run iPads would make part of teacher’s job easier.  They don’t have to take home 35 papers to grade; they can just download them from student’s iPad and grade them on their computer.  There’s learning benefits when working on an iPad.  Some classrooms are having students create apps related to the subject they are studying.   Say for example, in math the students create an app that quizzes them on math facts—studies show students actually remember more of what they are learning if they are part of the “creating” process.  Plus students get a 2 for 1 in that not only are they learning the subject but they are also learning computer programming.  Going forward, that’s a valuable skill for.
I won’t be long and your back to school shopping list will no longer include paper and pens.  Actually I hope that’s not true.  Although I think iPads are great and support the use of them in school there’s a piece of me that says “hang on!”  I still want my kids to read and write by using pencils, paper and books. 
 
The other day my mom was showing me her Dick and Jane book. Back in the day everyone would learn to read by using the Dick and Jane readers. There’s something very sweet about her pulling the book out of its protected storage box, opening it up, and showing me how she used to learn to read.   I think about a generation from now; when they grow up will they be pulling out their iPad that they learned to read on and showing their grandkids?  It just doesn’t have the same nostalgic feel!  It’s great that kids can write papers and draw pictures on iPad.  And yes, less paper coming home from school would be more environmentally friendly.  But—I can’t really put the iPad on the fridge to show off my boy’s artwork or put the iPad in a scrapbook!   Herein lie my mixed emotions.   As with all things in life there are pros and cons.  However; having kids do their homework on ipads does eliminate the age old excuse……
I don’t think teachers will believe “the dog ate my iPad!”


Congratulations to the winners of this weeks giveaways: Tracey Decencio-Lance won the iPhone Battery Backup Speaker Case and Christian Henningsen won the iPhone Wallet. 
Thank you to everyone who participated and stay tuned for another Doorstep Genius giveaway coming up soon!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Often Do You Find Your iPhone Without a Charge?


Since battery life is not a feature the iPhone is known for, and it seems like a daily battle for my iPhone to remain charged till the end of the day, I decided I needed something to extend my battery life.  A friend told me about this cover and said many of her friends were using it. Ever since she got it she can now make it through the day without being in a lurch due to no iPhone juice.




Detail about the Case:

From my perspective this is not your average cover. It offers so many benefits on a day-to-day basis by providing a battery-backup for your phone combined with a speaker that amplifies sound. Now you can have a cover that allows you to get that extra battery life plus it gives you that additional speaker sound to assist you when you watch videos, show others videos, listen to music, drive hands free, and much more!

You are in luck because today you can find this case on SharingSpree.com for only $34; an $80 value. We are also going to give one away, all you have to do is like our Doorstep Genius Facebook page and post the Sharing Spree deal on your timeline. We will announce the winner on our blog this Friday. 

We are also giving away the iPhone Wallet Case. If you want the iPhone wallet case like our Facebook post for the iPhone wallet giveaway and post the iPhone Wallet case picture on your Timeline.


Monday, September 17, 2012

I Just Might Be In Love


If you are reading this blog you, like me, are probably addicted to your iPhone. I would have to argue that it is not a bad addiction since I have shared in a previous post how the iPhone can make you a better mom and CEO of your household. All I mean by addict is it is such an indispensable part of your life that you can’t live without it. Accessibility is the most essential thing to an iPhone addict because when you need it, you need it. So with those things in mind I set out to find an accessory to keep me from losing my most vital home and life management tool; my iPhone.

In my search I found this great wallet for my iPhone. I have to say when I saw it I was infatuated but once I used it I was in love! If you’re like me, you are a woman on the run. It seems I am always running to the grocery store or on an errand and I hate carrying a purse. My iPhone wallet carries all my essentials: driver’s license, debit card and my iPhone. Also I can slip my iPhone wallet right into my purse or diaper bag. Now when my phone rings I know right where to find it. When I need my iPhone I no longer have to dig through all of my junk. You would be surprised how much time that saves me!

The Ultra Thin, Leather Wallet for iPhone 4/4S holds your iPhone and keeps all of your important stuff protected and organized. The folio design flips open to reveal your multi-touch display and closes like a book for privacy and protection. Card slots and a cash flap hold your ID, bank cards and bills, keeping paper and plastic separated. I love the purple inside but it is available with multiple inside colors. Outside colors are black or white.




This case makes life easier whether I want to travel light or when I am lugging around all of my stuff in a big purse. As a bonus, it is also fashionable, which every girl wants! I love it so much that we are now selling it on our site doorstepgenius.com. Since I love it so much, I thought what could be better than a giveaway? 

To enter the giveaway like our Facebook page and share this blog post on your timeline. We will announce the winner on our blog at the end of the week. Stay tuned for more giveaways this week on great iPhone accessories that keep you organized and efficient. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Can Technology Make You a Better Mom?


Did you ever think you might say technology makes you a better mom? In my mind, mom and technology seemed like an oxymoron. I always saw technology as so unnatural and distracting when it came to family and household responsibilities. When I was a kid I had very little access to technology. That being said; I naturally thought of household management as being calendars hung on the fridge, chore lists, family reading time, or board games before bed.

Today women are taking another look at their role as mom; redefining it from a household management task to viewing it as more of a CEO of a business, a title that I call the Household CEO. Let’s take a look at the similarities between mom and the corporate CEO.

A CEO is expected to define the company vision and provide any and all guidance necessary to turn that vision into reality; in other words, the corporate CEO decides where the company is going and how it’s going to get there.

Now how does that compare to the job description for the household CEO?  Well, when they are not cooking dinner, taking the kids to and from school, changing poopy diapers, doing the grocery shopping, putting in a 12-hour work day at the office, mowing the lawn, or fixing the family car, the humble household CEO performs much the same role as the corporate CEO — without pay and perks, of course.

And where the corporate CEO is concerned with earnings reports, sales projections, inventory information, and a plethora of other technical and financial data necessary for monitoring the health of his or her company, the household CEO is armed with not much more than a pile of bills, bank statements, and paycheck stubs.  Finally, corporate CEOs usually have an army of corporate advisers and executive vice presidents to council them on all matters big and small.  The humble household CEO is usually left alone to figure things out.
So what exactly does a household CEO do being that she has a large amount of responsibilities with no employees to help manage the work-load?  In short, the six primary tasks of every household CEO are:
1.    Audit household spending habits
2.    Record household expenses and categorize them into wants and needs
3.    Create a strategic plan and an associated budget
4.    Communicate the vision and plan to the household
5.    Ensure the household sticks to the plan
6.    Refine the strategic plan as needed to address changing conditions
The solution for me to tackle all these tasks with no staff is to turn to the ultimate leverage for a Household CEO--that leverage is technology! Think about it, why wouldn’t you want to use as much technology as possible to make your family more successful just like the corporate world does to reach success?
Here are some examples of the technology I have embraced in my role as household CEO. The technology I list below can be found on websites or apps.
Google Calendar

I love using Google Calendar for all our household and family scheduling. It is easy to synch to include my husband’s schedule and important dates and deadlines. In this manner we make sure that we know each other’s schedule as it is easily accessible from our phones. It’s nice to have my schedule on my phone at all times to refer to especially when I am out and about.
All Recipes Pro

I find nearly all my recipes and new inspiration for crafting my own recipes from Allrecipes.com. Whenever I desire to make something new, I use allrecipes.com because every recipe is thoroughly reviewed! They recently released the All Recipes Dinner Spinner Pro app and it is awesome. I can find a wealth of quality recipes with a simple search, check out the awesome amount of reviews, and add my favorites to my recipe box within the application. It can also make you an instant shopping list with the ingredients found in your choice of recipes. Well worth the $2.99!
Grocery IQ


Grocery IQ is an intuitive shopping that allows you to build new lists quickly with features like predictive search and barcode scanning. It customizes the arrangement of categories within your list so you can check off items in an orderly fashion as you navigate the store. I love that you can set your list up to sort by aisle; it makes grocery shopping more efficient. I also love that I can share my list if someone else is going to do the shopping for me.

Reminders on my iPhone: Reminders are the best way to do to-dos.



Reminders on iPhone help you remember everything you have to do. Reminders make sure you get all your tasks completed in a timely fashion. No matter what you’ve got going on, this app makes it easy to remember it all. Organize everything you have to do by deadline, priority, location, or custom-made lists. And as a due date gets closer, Reminders sends you an alert so you stay on track.
Siri, your personal assistant, can do it too. Just say, “Remind me to make a dentist appointment Monday morning when I get to the office,” then consider it done. Reminders and Siri work with Location Services so you’ll get an alert as soon as you arrive at work. I love the alert feature. A great example of why I love the alert feature is something I did just the other day. I told Siri to remind me to get milk at the grocery store and the next time I entered the grocery store she reminded me. Not only did I love this but my kids did too when they wanted their cereal the next day.

Instagram


80 million users love Instagram! It's a free, fun, and simple way to make and share gorgeous photos on your iPhone. 
Pick from one of several gorgeous filtered effects or tilt-shift blur to breathe a new life into your mobile photos. Transform everyday moments into works of art you'll want to share with friends and family. Share your photos in a simple photo stream with friends to see - and follow your friends' photos with the click of a single button. Every day that you open up Instagram, you'll see new photos from your closest friends and creative people from around the world.

Shop Savvy

A must-have for bargain hunting, the Shop Savvy app lets you compare prices and deals on the go. Just scan the barcode of any item and in an instant you have a list that compares best prices online versus the local store — plus access to customer reviews, tips about coupon codes, and more. You can even share shopping lists via email, Facebook or Twitter, in case you want to encourage someone to buy that perfect something for you. I love this app when I am birthday or Christmas shopping as I can search for the things I need and find the best price without running all over town.


WebMD



WebMD helps you with your decision-making and health improvement efforts by providing mobile access 24/7 to mobile-optimized health information and decision-support tools including WebMD’s Symptom Checker, Drugs & Treatments, First Aid Information and Local Health Listings. I love being able to check symptoms on the go. With four kids I am always wondering about some sort of symptoms. It seems like I am always trying to figure out a rash and I love that I can look at pictures to compare what it is they have.  Of course this is never the substitute for taking them to the doctor.
WebMD also gives you access to first aid information without having to be connected wirelessly – critical if you don’t have Internet access in the time of need. This is great for when you are on a hike or camping and an emergency come up.  I also like the feature that allows you to find the closest pharmacy, hospital or doctor based on your current location or zip code because you never know when you may need it.

iReward Chart




If you are like me you are always looking for a way to motivate your kids. I found this app and love it!  iReward Chart is very easy to use even kids can do it. This app brings the traditional reward chart onto your mobile device, with a customizable, interactive interface. iRewardChart looks to help parents keep track of their child’s good behavior and reward them appropriately.


Mint Money

All your balances and transactions can be seen in one place; on the web or your phone. Mint automatically pulls all your financial information into one place so you can finally get the entire picture
Instead of tediously entering your transactions (because you have time to burn, right?) this app gives you all-in-one money management for cards, bank accounts, investments, budgeting, income and expenditures. Mint automatically syncs up with your financial institutions and delivers all the info to you. One-click security keeps your info private plus deactivation is easy online if you lose your phone. Mint automatically updates and categorizes your information and suggests ways to help you save. It can even send automatic alerts—like bill reminders—to your mobile phone or email.
There are more than 10 million Mint users who know their information is always secure because they use 128-bit SSL encryption – the same security that banks use – and all data is protected and validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe.
The graphs and charts are one of my favorite features because it helps track spending, income, net worth, account balances over
time, and even compares your spending year-to-year or month-to-month. You can even track your progress on individual goals.


If you're out of town, you might have no idea where to take the kids for some age-appropriate fun. When we were out of town over the summer that is exactly what happened and luckily I stumbled across this app and love it! The app has more than 24,000 kid-focused locations in metro areas and utilizes your GPS functionality to get you there. You can help make the app even more robust by contributing to the database.
To summarize, in today’s world, mom’s, are becoming increasingly busy and are facing a fast pace world that makes it almost impossible to manage day to day tasks without help from some sort of leverage.  That leverage, which as described above, can be technology. The new mom is now what I call the “Household CEO” who has to look at the household as a business and utilize every resource possible. In my opinion, if you just started with a couple of these apps today, if you are not currently utilizing them, you would see some huge benefits concerning your ability to get tasks completed on a daily basis. Just take for example, the iPhone reminder feature along with Grocery IQ you would be able to be more efficient by not forgetting things on your list; basically not having to back track during your day and you would save time in the grocery store by not having to search for items over and over again. In my opinion, technology is going to be more and more important to help manage this world from now and in the future, so let’s embrace it. Cheers to all of you who have the most important job in the world--managing a household.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Has Pinterest changed your life?

Source: pcmag.com via Bryan on Pinterest


Pinterest is a pinboard style website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, 're-pin' images to their own collections or 'like' photos. It is being used by individuals and business to tell people more about who they are and what they like.

Essentially, If you like something or dream of something, you can now post wonderful pictures that can open up your imagination to visualize those dreams and might just inspire you enough to make those visions a reality. Whether it is the wonderful vacation by the sea you used to dream about only in your mind or that creative way to make pies you may have thought of a long time ago, you now can enter a world of pictures that may help you get into action to accomplish these “locked up dreams.” Pinterest truly captures a popular saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Here is to a beautiful life full of imagination and inspiration- cheers…

 
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Friday, September 7, 2012

A Lighter Load Thanks to My iPhone!


                I have to admit; when iPhones first came out I said I would never get one.  I had a semi-smart phone—that’s kind of like semi-sweet chocolate.  I was able to text, get email, surf the web and I thought that was all I would ever need in a phone. I tend to resist following the crowd so that also had something to do with my assuredness of never getting into the “I” family (iPad, iPod, iPhone…..).  I think it was when our oldest boy got an iPhone that I started to think; hmm….maybe I should rethink this never getting an iPhone thing.  Fast forward to today and I would like to say I can’t imagine life without my iPhone.  Now of course I could live without it—it’s not critical to my existence but my phone has sure made lots of thing easier. 

                My husband is still figuring out his iPhone—he probably won’t ever use it to its fullest potential.  We went camping with family over Labor Day weekend and, yes, I did take my iPhone.  It was actually kind of comical because we had a whole little charging station set up for everyone’s iPhones.  My husband looked at me as I was checking out my phone and rolled his eyes.  He thinks when I am looking at my phone I am either emailing or texting.  I felt the need to explain that it’s not just a phone. 
                I started thinking of all the ways I use my iPhone, and how much I don’t have to cart around, because I can access everything in one place.  I created this little clip art compilation to show how many items I don’t have to pack or bring along when I go places.  The very first thing I started using my iPhone for was loading Safeway coupons.  I’m thrilled not to have to walk around with the weekly ad and my coupon book.   That’s the inspiration for the shopping cart.   Everything piled in the cart I don’t necessarily need now.  When we went camping I used my iPhone for directions, as a flashlight, to help find constellations, to wake me up in the morning, and to identify birds as we hiked.   (See we still enjoyed nature!)
                My iPhone is my camera, video recorder, stereo system and calculator. My iPhone keeps me entertained with all the games I have downloaded and can even help my youngest practice his math facts.  I can read the news online and I can keep my calendar, address book, and to do list all right there.  I also use my iPhone as a recipe book—there’s all sort of cooking and menu apps or I search online if I need a particular recipe.  I topped off my cart with a movie screen.  I know that iPhone has helped many a mom be able to shop longer when they play a movie for them in the store.  Although the screen says ‘The End” I have only scratched the surface how we use iPhones to make life easier.                
             
               Speaking of scratched—I always keep my iPhone in one of the many protective cases we have at Doorstep Genius!  ;) 
                What does your iPhone replace?  What apps do you use to keep yourself organized?
               
               


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Are your kid's constantly playing games on their iTouch, iPhone or iPad?

I have young kids and it seems like they are always wanting to play on the iPad. I get so frustrated with seeing them on the dang thing. So I decided to find some fun, educational, games that they could play and get something out of it.


Founded in 1999, BrainPOP creates animated, curricular content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement. Their award-winning online educational resources include BrainPOP Jr.(K-3), BrainPOP, BrainPOP EspaƱol, and for English language learners, BrainPOP ESL. BrainPOP is also home to GameUp, a new, free educational games portal for the classroom.

In traditional, blended, and "flipped" learning settings, BrainPOP supports individual, team, and whole-class learning. At school and in informal learning environments, their characters help introduce new topics and illustrate complex concepts. A great fit for mobile learning and BYOD classrooms, BrainPOP’s educational apps have been downloaded nearly 1.5 million times and lauded in countless reviews.




Grammar Jammers Primary Edition - Grammar Jammers animations will have you tapping your toes to the beat while learning grammar usage and mechanics. Each animation unlocks a quiz. Answer all the quiz questions for all the Grammar Jammers topics and unlock an interactive reward. This app includes quiz questions on: adjectives, contractions, nouns, pronouns, punctuation, sentences, and verbs.


In Math Bumpies you choose a character to take you around Math Island. I chose Mister Chickenpants simply because he has an awesome name.  Next you choose your level, easy medium or hard. You also choose whether you want to play with addition facts, subtraction or both. And now you’re ready to journey around the island. You begin at Easy Street. The idea is to tilt your iPhone and roll your character from left to right. As you travel along you’ll see math problems in the sky. Solve the math problem and then tap on the screen when your character is under the correct answer. If you bump the right one you’ll score some points. When you reach the finish line you’re given your final score based on correct answers and the time it took you to finish. Then you’re off to the next round. The app allows you to create more than one player profile and you will select your level of difficulty and area of focus each time. This means that kids with different sill levels can all share the app and as they improve their skills they can continue to challenge themselves with more difficult questions. Math Bumpies also has a leader board that will keep track of individual player stats and high scores. 


So now I do not feel so bad when they are playing on their iPad!