Category Archives: Gadgets

My Favorite (Android) Phone Apps

If you’re anything like me, you use your smartphone a lot. Maybe you check Facebook and hang out on Instagram, maybe you make some phone calls here and there, maybe you text like crazy, or maybe that little handheld device runs your whole life – I think the latter is how it is for me!

It seems like everyone is aware of the big name apps like Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Candy Crush Saga, Google Maps,  Pinterest,  Angry Birds, Gmail, etc but what about those other apps that you use a lot that aren’t necessarily the same apps everyone and their grandma is using? I know I have have several apps that I find incredibly useful that no one else seems to have heard of and I’m sure you do too!

So let’s all geek out and help one another be more productive (or maybe less productive in some cases LOL) and share your favorite non-mainstream phone apps via the linky or in the comments.

Link Up Next Week

I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S4 and some of my favorite apps are as follows:

TinyCam Monitor (link)- This app, combined with several wireless cameras in my house lets me see what’s going on in my house at any moment, night and day. Waaay cheaper than the $250 baby monitor systems, I can watch Mason, my dogs, or my garage with the click of a button, pan and zoom around the room, hear what’s going on, and even speak through my phone and out the camera. Super cool and very useful. I’ll never let a friend buy an expensive baby monitor again.

Fuel Log  (link)- I use this to track my gas mileage and trip expenses. I log my odometer reading and gas purchases with every fill up and it calculates my miles per gallon, average cost per day of driving my car, average fuel consumption, basically everything I’d want to know and compares it to previous data. I could also log oil changes etc if I really wanted to.

MediSafe (link)- I am totally mis-using this app but that’s okay. It’s made for reminding you to take your medication but I use it as a reminder program for my entire life! A pop up reminder reminds me to water my plants twice a week, give my cat his meds, do chores around the house on a weekly or every other week basis, scoop the cat box every other day, all sorts of little things that I was constantly forgetting. I can snooze the reminder if I’m in the middle of doing something else and that works way better than something other apps where I’d click close and forget all about it.

Feedly (link)- probably not obscure, but this is how I read blogs. I have it on my computer, my Kindle, and on my phone and thus, no matter where I’m reading from, it knows which posts I have and haven’t read. I’ve also got them sorted by blogs I gotta read every single day vs everything else. Love Feedly!

Amazon Cloud Drive (link)- After having my phone go missing on several occasions, as well as drowning in the rain once, I know the heartbreak losing hundreds of irreplaceable photos and videos. It’s an awful feeling. Now, thanks to Amazon Cloud, as soon as I’m anywhere near wi-fi, all of my pictures and videos are automatically backed up onto the cloud, which I can then access from anywhere I have internet access. I can also transfer them to another phone if need be. The peace of mind is awesome.

So, there you have it! What are your favorite apps these days? They don’t have to be  overly useful or time saving like mine, they can be the newest game you’re addicted to or the way you follow your favorite actors – if you find an app worthwhile, please share!

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for anything said in this post – none of these companies/apps even know I exist. I just find them useful and think you might too!

Share Your Favorite Apps – Linky Next Week

The other day, I was thinking about doing a post about all of my favorite “non-traditional” aps. You know, everyone is using Facebook and Instagram, but I wanted to talk about what are the NOT so common apps that I use every day!

Then, just like she was reading my mind, Christa posted a question on Twitter asking what everyone’s favorite non-traditional apps are. Much to my surprise, she had never heard of any of the ones that I found so useful and an idea was born!

Link Up Next Week

Please join me next week, on Wednesday, February 26th and write a post about your favorite “non-traditional” phone aps. So no Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Angry Birds, Skype, Pandora, SnapChat, Google Maps, FlappyBird, Vine, YouTube, and any other app that is on everyone on Earth’s smartphone, but anything else goes!

Being the geek I am, I look forward to sharing my favorite apps with you and also learning about a whole bunch of cool apps that I’m not currently using but should be! See you next Wednesday

We’re on Instagram!

Well, we’ve finally joined the 21st century and are on Instagram!

I have seriously been toying with the idea of buying an iPhone for months, entirely just to join all of my favorite bloggers in the Instagram craze and then they FINALLY rolled out an app for Android. Figures, my phone didn’t have enough, well, enough anything to run it, so on Friday I got a shiny new phone (a Samsung Galaxy II Epic Touch for those geeks out there) and the first thing I downloaded was Instagram!

I’m having so much fun taking pictures with a phone that doesn’t have a 20 second delay between when I press the button and when it snaps the picture AND I am also taking advantage of a little boy who has learned to say “Cheese!” and loves seeing pictures of himself.

So, if you’re on instagram, follow us under the same name we use on twitter – weemasonsmom

I can’t wait to Insta-Stalk you all :o)

This time last year – Moody Mason / Babies & Penguins vs The Wind / Obsessed

Two years ago – Mason’s 1st Cookout / First Real Bath

Cell Phone Hiding Places

If you were a 15 month old, where would you hide a phone? My cell phone has been missing since yesterday afternoon and we have literally searched for it for HOURS. I know it’s in my house and I know the exact 15 minute window where it went missing, but that hasn’t helped find it at all.

Here are the places that have been checked

  • Down the stairs
  • In the cupboards
  • In the couch
  • Under the couch
  • In all the shoes
  • In every garbage
  • Under every bed
  • IN the beds
  • In the toilet (even though Mason hasn’t discovered that trick yet)
  • In the fridge and freezer
  • In the toyboxes
  • In the shower
  • In the bookcases
  • In the laundry
  • In both closets
  • In Mason’s shopping cart

And everywhere in between. I keep my phone on silent when I’m home because the constant beeping and chiming from texts, e-mails, and tweets is enough to drive anyone insane. Some time around 7 last night, the battery must have died entirely because if you call it, it goes right to voicemail. There went all hope of seeing it’s little green “new message” light flashing in the dark.

I swore up and down that the second I found it I’m putting one of those “Where’s my phone?!” aps on it that overrides the settings and rings until you find it. Except I’m starting to think I’m not GOING to find it anytime soon. Where could it possibly be?!

This Time Last Year – Mason Does the Farmer’s Market / Busy Days

New Spare Carseat

While the Britax is a WONDERFUL car seat, it’s definitely not a breeze to get in and out of the car (at least my car) so we needed a second car seat for SuperDad’s truck. Other than the two minute drive to daycare or occasionally the short drive to the doctor’s, Mason rarely rides in SuperDad’s truck, so I had zero desire to spend $200+ on a carseat that will get used a few times a month. Enter, the Cosco Serena. $40 at Wal-mart. Normally, I would run screaming away from something like that, BUT it has excellent ratings in Consumer Reports, Consumer Digest, and great reviews online. It’s surprisingly well built for it’s price tag. And Mason? He loves it!

 
 
No more pictures please!
 
One Year Ago  – Full Time Daddy

Obsessed

Some day, it will be pretty girls and fast cars, but for now, Mason’s obsessesions are a little bit tamer… but strange.

His number one love in life? Our uber expensive Harmony remote control. Within moments of entering the room, he can just SENSE if the remote is anywhere where he can reach and he beelines right to it. Such as the other day – he was on a mission before I even got his coat off!

“Ohh, I see it up there!!”

“Nothing to see here, Momma, move along….”

“Are you STILL watching me!?”

“Heh heh heh, success is mine….”

He totally knows how to change the channels and often records random things (This weekend, he recorded the Masters LOL) The only time he ever shows any interest in what is going on on the TV is when he is making it change channels or bounce around on TV menus.
As cute as it is, I live in fear of him deleting my TV shows or taking it for a swim in the dog bowl, so we’re constantly battling over whether or not he can play with it. Good times!

One Year Ago – Mason’s Fan Club


New Carseat

For those of you who have been around for a while, you know I’ve been debating what car seat to get Mason for months and months. Heck, if I debate and research forever over a $100 electronics item, I’m definitely going to do the same with a $200+ car seat that protects my kid’s life and that’s going to be around hopefully for many many years. As most of you know, my only real huge soapbox topic around here is extended rear-facing. I believe every child should be rear facing until they are at least 2 years old. So a carseat that realistically could make that happen for us had to have a rear facing weight of 40 lbs (hopefully more) and a decent height as well.

So after endless debate, a fellow mommy’s rave reviews, and more endless debate, we decided on the Sunshine Radian XTSL. Steel body, 45 pound rear facing limit, and the ONLY negative reviews I read anywhere were that it was insanely hard to install….

Well, to make a long story short, ordered it, got it, and after over 5 hours of trying, we can’t get the thing to work safely in my Lumina. It won’t fit in an outboard position and the center lapbelt can not get tight enough to make the seat work properly. So, so much for all of my hard work and research *sigh*

But, being that we were starting to feel like Mason’s car seat straps were going to turn him into a hunchback, I didn’t have another 5 months to spend researching carseats, so I went with our number two choice. Mason would like to introduce you to his new friend.


“Actually, this is pretty cozy!”

“I like it, I like it a lot!”

“Look daddy, I already fell asleep in it!”

“Just kidding! Off to daycare for me in my swell new Britax Boulevard 70! Have a great day everyone!”

Photography/Editing HELP!

80% of the pictures on my blog come from my crappy camera phone. It’s easy, it’s convenient, and it’s always nearby. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing, except for one fact… I own a Canon Rebel XT and I’m scared to use it. To make things worse, I’ve had it for more than two years. SuperDad shoots with it (that’s where Mason’s MonthDay photos and basically all of his “nice” looking photos comes from) but me? I’m way intimidated. I even took an internet class a few years back about shooting in manual and it bored me to pieces. Maybe because I didn’t actually HAVE a camera with a manual mode then or maybe because taking pictures of my sleeping dogs is so much easier than of a kid, but I’m now wishing I would have paid better attention.

So blog readers, give me a hand! How did you learn to shoot in manual? What are some of your favorite books or online tutorials? Maybe your favorite tips?

And since I know editing photos is half the battle, what software do you use and how did you learn to use it? Right now, I use paint.net and other than cropping, resizing, and turning to black and white, I do no edits. And you can tell!

So help a girl out. Links, suggestions, you got it, I want it!!


Please Rear Face Your Babies!

I had hoped to get through the winter with Mason in his infant carseat since he’s not yet 20 pounds and it goes up to 22 pounds, but I realized the other day that the height limit is 29 inches and he’s a tad over 28 inches, so that’s not going happen.

We’ve been debating between the Graco MyRide65 ($140 on sale) and the Britax seats ($230 on sale) and I’m no closer to making a decision than I was when I started researching 9 months ago! They both rear face up to 35+ pounds which is a key feature for me, but I read mixed reviews on both (Just like Chevy vs Ford, some love them and some hate them) and I’m trying to figure out if the extra $100 is warranted or just a brand name thing. I’d happily spend the extra money, especially when we’re looking at using this seat for the next 8 years (I think that’s what the law is now??) but I also don’t want to spend an extra $100 just to buy a name, you know? I love that they both are usable seats up to 65 pounds and they both have a nice looking design as well. Anyone have any feedback here?

I am always shocked by the number of people I’ve met who have no idea why they should rear face their kids EVER and think that turning them around is some great glorious thing that they are counting down the days towards. People seem to not have any idea how much SAFER it is for little people to ride rear facing!

In case you’re one of those people, here is what CPSafety.com has to say

“When a child is in a forward-facing seat, there is tremendous stress put on the child’s neck, which must hold the large head back. The mass of the head of a small child is about 25% of the body mass whereas the mass of the adult head is only 6%! A small child’s neck sustains massive amounts of force in a crash. The body is held back by the straps while the head is thrown forward – stressing, stretching or even breaking the spinal cord. The child’s head is at greater risk in a forward-facing seat as well. In a crash, the head is thrown outside the confines of the seat and can make dangerous contact with other occupants, vehicle structures, and even intruding objects, like trees or other vehicles. Rear-facing seats do a phenomenal job of protecting children because there is little or no force applied to the head, neck and spine. When a child is in a rear-facing seat, the head, neck and spine are all kept fully aligned and the child is allowed to “ride down” the crash while the back of the child restraint absorbs the bulk of the crash force. The head is contained within the restraint, and the child is much less likely to come into contact with anything that might cause head injury.”

And in case you skimmed that and went blah blah blah, here is a video to illustrate the point:

A few months ago I got into an argument with one of the other March Mommies because she turned her 7 month old twins around because she couldn’t find “cute” enough rear facing car seats for them. Seriously?!!?

According to the CDC, vehicular accidents are the number one cause of death for children in the US. In Sweden, rear facing is required by law until the age of 5. And guess what? There was only 9 children who died in car accidents between 1992 and 1997. In contrast? 1,335 children died in car accidents in the US in 2005 alone. Seriously, don’t these stats speak for themselves?!

Okay, stepping off my soapbox now. Please guys, rear face those babies as long as you can. To me, it’s just as common sense as the car seat and the seat belt!