Find Tech Lifestyle on Google+

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Awesome Solution for a Smartphone Car Mount

In a recent post about iOS apps that I like, I mentioned that I use the social GPS app Waze for navigation in my car. For those that may have been wondering how I go about using an iPhone while driving, this post is for you.

When first looking for a iPhone car mount, I searched long and hard to find a good one. I frequently came back frustrated. Either the mount didn't fit the iPhone correctly, or the mount relied on the ridiculously unstable suction cup method of adhering to my windshield or dash. Some may have had luck with suction cup mounts, but in the cold winters of my home state, I’ve frequently had to lunge to grab my old GPS units as they came loose and went flying across the car. 

In the past, I used Garmin GPS units along with their excellent dashboard friction mounts and was very disappointed to see that I couldn't find another manufacturer that made a nice dashboard friction mount. My solution? I created a Frankensteinian hybrid of the three products below.

Fetal Doppler: A Must Have for any Expecting Parent

I promise this post will be shorter than my last posts! This article will pertain to anyone that intends to have a child in the near future or knows someone that might.

It wasn't until my wife got pregnant with our first child that I first realized the type of worry my parents always felt with me, and further realized that I was in for a lifetime of worrying about my own children. A piece of tech that really helped alleviate some of the worry that arose from some pregnancy complications (everything turned out fine) was our Fetal Doppler from BellyBeats. It can pick up the sound of your child’s heartbeat in the womb as early as 8 weeks, and displays the heart rate on a digital screen.

I can’t describe in words how wonderful it is to hear the sound of your unborn child’s heartbeat. Instead, hear for yourself the sound of my then 12 week old son's heartbeat.  Ultimately, it was worth the $400 we paid to purchase the unit and use it during both of our pregnancies. If you'd rather rent than buy, numerous rental packages are available.

Since we purchased this device, I’ve seen a number of really cheap imitations crop up on eBay. I can assure you though, this isn't a cheap device. It really feels hospital-grade. I didn't realize just how hospital-grade it was until my wife’s OBGYN pulled out what looked like the very same thing during one of her prenatal checkups. Not only did they use the same device, but they used the very same ultrasound gel that we purchased from Amazon.

My prediction for the future? One day people will be able to rent home ultrasound machines that are as tiny as this doppler. Remember, you read it here!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Tale of Two Drives

Well other than an attempt at being witty, this post won’t be so much of a “tale”, but more of a short story of two drives. This past week saw the release of two “new” entries into the cloud storage space. I place emphasis on “new” as both offerings aren't really new, but both have added the additional feature of a desktop app that dramatically increases their usefulness.

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about the Google Drive and SkyDrive announcements. Both services have existed for quite some time now, but both have also required that you log in to their respective websites to upload and access files. With the release of their new desktop apps, they are now contenders against my cloud storage favorite, Dropbox. I mentioned recently that it would take a pretty sweet offer to draw me away from Dropbox. Well fear not Dropbox, this isn't a Dear John letter. Rather, I’d like to let you know that I’ve got some new friends joining our cloud party.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

iPad, iPhone, and the Apps of iOS

You’ll often hear the phrase “You must have been living in a cave for the past 5 years if you haven’t heard of (insert subject here).” Personally I think that phrase is a bit of an insult to cave dwellers around the world that choose a more modest and laid-back lifestyle. Instead, I’ll be kind and say that you must prefer a tech-free lifestyle if you haven’t heard of the iPhone or the iPad by now. Since it’s unlikely that you’d be reading this blog if you had chosen to live the aforementioned lifestyle, I’ll dispense with the explanations of what these two pieces of tech are. Rather, I’ll simply give you a brief overview of why I like these gadgets and then focus more on what makes them shine: The Apps!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dropbox, I Heart You

This is the first in a series of posts where I will take you through the technology I use every day and explain why it’s important to me. I’m starting things off with a service rather than a gadget, and the picture above does a good job of conveying how I feel about the cloud-based file storage service, Dropbox

It isn’t often that I feel an emotional attachment to a product or service. Typically, I view any company with a wary eye, and wonder if a scam to trick me out of my money is just around the corner. Dropbox, on the other hand, has somehow managed to make me fiercely loyal and actually evangelize their product for them.

What is Dropbox?

Before I get further into why I LOVE this service, I should probably explain what it is in case you aren't familiar with it. Dropbox is a very simple program that takes files placed in the “Dropbox” on your PC (Windows, Mac, or Linux) and creates a copy of those files online, or in other words, the “cloud.” Once in the cloud, you can access your files from any web browser in the world, from the Dropbox app on another PC, or through the Dropbox app on an iOS, Android, or BlackBerry device. Dropbox does a good job of explaining their service further in their online and colorfully illustrated tour.

Geekbit: (tidbit for geeks) The online storage used by the Dropbox service is really a series of data centers across the US that are operated by Amazon Simple Storage Solutions (AmazonS3).

While Dropbox could be simply be used as a solution for backing up files on your PC, its real killer feature is the ability to generate a URL for any individual file or folder in your Dropbox that you can share with any of your friends or colleagues. For example, here is a picture of a very young me (16) after having just completed my first solo flight, and here is different type of shareable link to the image you see at the top of this post. Both images are stored on the hard drive of my PC, but both are also duplicated  in the cloud and thus accessible to you with a simple link. The beauty of this becomes evident when you need to send a file to someone that is far larger than e-mail can handle.

Dropbox also differentiates itself from other basic online backup solutions in that files are synchronized between any PC that I have installed the application on. If I transfer a picture from my digital camera to my desktop, it is automatically uploaded to Dropbox, and downloaded to my laptop, my wife’s laptop, and the media center PC attached to our TV. Other backup solutions such as Mozy, Carbonite, Backblaze and CrashPlan (more on CrashPlan later) simply copy files from your PC to the cloud. They don’t permit multiple PCs to share access to the same files.

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Is Where It All Begins

Well, here it is, post 1. Ground zero, the alpha post, the big bang if you will. The post that started them all. One day you’ll look back and say “I knew him then.”

Yes, I’m being overly dramatic. I do that sometimes when I write, so my apologies in advance. Hey, it’s my blog so deal with it ;-) !

If you are reading this shortly after it was posted, then chances are that you already know me, but allow me to introduce myself to the gaggle of future readers that I'll have (I can only hope right?).  My name is Emmanuel Canaan and I’ve spent the past ten years working in various technology-related roles (many of those years spent in the technical support field). Prior to that, I worked in an operations role for a regional airline. I've had many years of experience working with gadgets of all kinds, and they are most definitely one of my passions in life. I once had the opportunity to seek out and recommend gadgets for the executives at my company that liked to try out bleeding-edge technology. The thing about that part of my job was that it wasn't work at all. It was fun! I did the same type of gadget research for work as I did in my spare time.

That brings me to why I’m writing this blog. I’m doing this in my spare time. My job isn't requiring this of me; I’m doing it because it's fun. Talking about gadgets and new technology isn't work for me. Those things are an integral part of my life. I should mention though that this blog won’t just be about gadget or service reviews. While you’ll certainly find that type of content here, you’ll also find stories and anecdotes on how a given technology can be used to improve our lives, as well as posts of interest to any technology aficionado.  Technology has become an inevitable part of everyone’s life, but some choose to seek it out. For them it’s a lifestyle choice, as it is for me.   

I plan to start things off after this with a series of posts called MyTech. I’ll take you through all the technology that I integrate tightly with my daily life. These won’t be a way of saying that those are the best examples of the respective technologies (I’m a long ways away from affording the best). Rather, those posts will serve to show you what I look for in technology and why I like the things I do. My hope is that some of you will learn about tech you didn't know about, or that you’ll at least pick up some tips on what to look for when selecting your own tech.

In the future you may see me post other articles on tips for earning frequent flyer miles without setting foot on a plane, or for getting large cash back rewards from credit cards. Why would I write about that here? Well it’s a bit of a maniacal hobby I’ve picked up which has allowed me to earn nearly 800,000 frequent flyer miles, and $1700 cash in about a year and a half. I love to travel, and that hobby will save me a ton of money someday (if my two young boys ever allow me to travel again). What will I do with all that extra cash I save? Well buy more tech of course (yes, yes I know…AND save money for my boys' college fund) . I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the readers of this blog will like tech too, so if you like to travel and you like tech, those posts will be for you.  

Are you into Photography? If so, then I’ll have some posts for you there as well. It's a stupidly expensive hobby that I decided to take up right when my first son was born. I’ve only learned about 5% of what there is to know, and my current skill level/knowledge doesn't hold a candle to a professional photographer, but hopefully I’ll be able to pass some useful tidbits along.

So, that said, please keep an eye on this space for future posts, and I genuinely hope you enjoy them.  Also, please don’t hesitate to pass requests and suggestions to me through the comments section of the posts, or by dropping me a note at