Technology for North Chamber Leadership Lab

Thank you for allowing me to present to such a wonderful audience. Below, you’ll find the apps we discussed during the presentation. Feel free to reach out with any questions. If you liked the Google Glass song in the video, you can listen here:

Tripit (Free | $49/year) – Send Tripit your confirmation emails for your hotel, transportation, flights and even Eventbrite emails to build out an itinerary in the app that pushes to your calendar. Upgrade to Tripit Pro for $49 per year and get notified to price drops in airfare, flight delays and cancellations.

Cardmunch (Free) – Stop collecting business cards. Use Cardmunch by Linkedin to take a photo of the card, have it scanned in, matched with Linkedin and spit back to you for quick saving to your iPhone.

Linkedin Contacts (Free) – Are you interested in sorting through your Linkedin contacts and having their data updated in your phone when they move or getting notified of an anniversary? Check out the free Linkedin Contacts app.

Scout (Free | $24.99/year) – Scout is a GPS navigation app that not only does GPS but ties into your calendar and will if you want to be routed to your next appointment with one swipe. The $24.99 price will upgrade the app with downloadable maps so you know where you’re going, even without service.

Square (Free | 2.75% per swipe) – If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to collect credit card payments for goods and services, check out Square. It’s dead simple to use and you’re charged a flat fee of 2.75% with a monthly option if you do a higher volume.

Clear ($2.99) – Clear is a simple list application that is beautiful. It’s quick and spectacular as a keeper for your top 3 daily priorities.

Concur (Free) – If you need an app to track expenses, file expense reports, expense mileage and approve reports.

Foursquare (Free) – Foursquare might be a location based game, but it also has turned into a fierce competitor to Yelp, providing insightful tips. Locals will leave messages to try items that are off menu or the secret passcode to a speakeasy.

Contact Monkey (Free) – Sometimes you don’t want to carry around business cards or you’re fresh out. Create a Contact Monkey and add it to your signature in your email address. For extra ease, use to create a short link.

Over ($1.99) – Have a little fun with Over, where you can add gorgeous type to your pretty pictures. Does it have anything to do with work? Not really. But you deserve to have a little fun in your life, don’t you?

One last thing…baby modeling.

Underwater iPhone 5 Case Photo Comparison – Seidio, LifeProof, OtterBox

As more manufacturers crank out durable cases, the designs become confusing to differentiate. Here’s a side-by-side size comparison between the three. I don’t have any user experience regarding audio quality nor durability. These photos are strictly to show off the rugged good looks of the Seidio OBEX, LifeProof fre and OtterBox Armor Series and help you see the size differences. All the photos are clickable for super-sized fun.

Cases - Front

Cases - Back

Cases - Top (stack)

Cases - Bottom

Cases - Right

Cases - Left

Cases - Top (separate)

Cases - Bottom (separate)

The links above are my Amazon affiliate links. OtterBox provided the case, while the Seidio and LifeProof were prizes from CES.

How to Unfollow Post on Facebook Mobile

Here’s how to unfollow post on facebook’s app. If you want to stop receiving notifications on facebook mobile, check out this post.

UPDATE: @mrcippy from @cnet shows us how to unfollow a post from the Facebook Mobile App.

You made the mistake again. You’ve commented on some jerk’s status update that is getting a gazillion responses or you wrote “Congratulations!” after someone posted their first baby photo (you’ll be bored of their baby pictures in a week). Now you’re stuck because your stupid phone is exploding from all the follow up congratulatory nonsense making you regret your decision, but you’re away from a computer. As you watch your battery drain from the beating it’s taking from Facebook notifications, you swear that you’ll NEVER.COMMENT.AGAIN. I’m here to save your (battery) life.

Facebook offers the option to “Unfollow Post” so you stop getting harassed with follow up notifications you don’t care about on their website. It’s easy to do on your computer but it hasn’t been integrated into the mobile site yet.
Unfollow Post On Facebook

Good news! There’s a magical link that Facebook stashes away deep deep in the internet that lets you access the full desktop version of Facebook from your phone. It works on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and probably anything else. Except Symbian. Even Jesus hates Symbian. Save this link on your phone or tablet for full desktop access of Facebook: Hitting this link on your computer is just going to take you to Facebook, there won’t be anything special. Be sure you do this on your phone.

When you need to unfollow a facebook post or untag a stupid photo that your terrible friend tagged you in, hit the link above from your mobile device and correct the situation. Share this with your friends and happy facebooking.

What’s In Your Bag 2012 – World Edition

What's In Your Bag - World Edition

One against seven is never a fair fight. The body blows from seven time zones are iced when I tote my Passport. I darken tight doorways with a purposefully packed backpack and carryon.

My MacBook Air is ready to glamorize photos of abbeys. The microfiber cloth makes the glass sparkle. Splenda gives the perfect sweetness to the corner bistro’s cappuccino. A pounding headache and the aftermath of eating a few closed mussels from Brussels can be fixed with the white container. Be smart – if cooked shellfish didn’t open during cooking, don’t eat it.

Adventures are more fun when reading adventures first on a Kindle. My photos are 48% less boring when I hang the magnetic Joby Gorillapod from a street sign. Until the future arrives, gear will not charge itself. Thankfully, Tumi Tech’s universal plug rocks plugs for the UK, Europe, Asia and it bonuses with a USB port. The sunrise over the centuries old plaza is captured magically through the f/1.8 lens of the Sony RX100. Waking for the sunrise shoot is soothed by hits through the X-Mini travel speaker. What good are the photos of the worn streets if you can’t share? Sprint’s International Hot Spot with an unlocked SIM slot will do the trick for my four closest companions and me. Dead batteries are for suckers, so the ibattz with two removal batteries should do the trick.

But, if the ibattz isn’t enough, the MyCharge 5000 will finish the day out. Untested unlocked devices are never a sure bet. A Nokia Lumia 800 is Plan C if the iPhone and International Hot Spot are a bust. With the tiny MacBook Air minimizing outlets, the Apple USB to Ethernet dongle provides wired connectivity in hotels stuck in 1999. International travel requires forms when you’re drowsy and your seat mates are asleep, so I bring my own pen. USB charging is simple with the Western Europe dongle. Escaping airplane dry mouth is easiest with gum and keeps you in the good graces of your seat mate.

Time for my soles hit the cobblestone.

LifeProof, Seidio, PureGear & Speck iPhone Case Review

Review of the LifeProof Gen 2, Seidio Active X, Speck PixelSkin HD, PureGear Kickstand Case iPhone 4S Cases.

CES proved there was a sea of iPhone cases available with varying levels of protection, girth and additional useful benefits. Depending on how you use your phone and how abusive/careless you choose to be with your device, one of these cases could be worth your hard earned money. Note that none of these cases includes a screen protector, so if that is important to you, you’ll have to pick one up separately.

Let’s take a look at the following four cases:

LifeProof Gen2
PureGear Kickstand Case
Seidio Active X
Speck PixelSkin HD

LifeProof Gen 2

iPhone Cases

LifeProof spent over two years and two million dollars developing this case. They claim that it is water, dirt, snow and shock proof (to certain limits). What impressed me about the LifeProof was the level of protection in exchange for the size of the case. The thickness is nearly the same as the Seidio Active X, while being a bit taller to accomodate the specialized protection of the headphone port on top and the 30-pin connection on the bottom.

Screen Protection

The LifeProof has the ultimate screen protection. It lays a sealed piece of plastic over the front of the phone, necessary to keep the elements on the outside of the case. LifeProof recommends that you remove any screen protector you have on the device to maximize the usefulness of the touchscreen. In my quick test, I found that the screen loses a bit of sensitivity when you keep the screen protector on, especially when trying to access the screen with water running over it.

Button & Port Accessibility

All of the buttons and ports are usable with the LifeProof on but you must make the proper accomodations to access the 30 pin port and the microphone. To access the 30 pin port, flip the cover open to access the port. The phone will not be dockable with the case on. The microphone audio quality obviously diminishes when used under water. The rocker switch is accessible by a covered piece of plasic that allows you to toggle the option.

Overall Protection Level

Out of the four cases, the LifeProoof is the most protective case, no question. The ability to be submerged is amazing. It prevents dust and moisture. You do have some tradeoffs with the LifeProof. Your touchscreen experience is lacking because of the protective plastic that resides on top of your screen. You have a screw in piece for the headphone port to keep water out and the dock has a flap. These are not knocks on the LifeProof case, just things to consider that you trade in exchange for this incredible level of protection.

To test out the case, I ran my phone under water.

PureGear Kickstand Case

PureGear Kickstand iPhone Case

PureGear is one of those companies that we found tucked away during CES in the North Hall. Their Kickstand Case looks like most other black iPhone cases but adds a handy stand on the back of it. This makes it great for FaceTime or Skype – great for video chats without having to hold your phone. The kickstand works well in both portrait and landscape modes. The back of the case has an interesting pattern that encourages your touch. It’s grippy but it slides out of your pocket easily enough.

Screen Protection

The screen protection of this case is minimal. The phone clicks into the case and the sides are nearly flush with the screen. If screen protection is a major concern, this is not the case for you, unless you use the optional holster. But then, you know, you’re using a holster. (Sorry, dad)

Button & Port Accessibility

The case has a wide open top and bottom so you shouldn’t have any trouble accessing the ports and potentially docking the iPhone while keeping it in this case. The left side has a large slot for both the ringer switch and the volume buttons which make them easily accessible. It doesn’t get much more open than this.

Overall Protection Level

This case will help absorb the impact if your phone is dropped and lands on its sides or back. If it goes face down or lands on the top or bottom of the phone, it will likely be cringeworthy. There is no felt or other impact absorbing material other than this soft touch plastic.

Seidio Active X

Seidio Active X iPhone Case

Seidio is a company based out of Houston that prides itself in making high quality after market gear for a number of different phones. Their accessories line runs deep with cases, batteries, chargers and other goodies for all brands. The Active X is a two piece case made up of a silicone base layer that wraps the phone first, which is reinforced by an exoskeleton.

Screen Protection

The Active X has silicone that wraps around the screen of the phone completely and the exoskeleton of the case covers it in six points – the corners and the mid section to keep everything tight. The case design does a great job of protecting the screen by recessing a bit under the silicone. If the phone were to drop face down, you’d reduce your chances of scratching/destroying your screen. The protection can make reaching buttons close to the edge a bit more challenging.

Button & Port Accessibility

The top headphone port is cut open for easy accessibility with headphones, while the power button is covered with silicone, as are the volume buttons. The ringer switch has an acceptable size opening that shouldn’t be a problem unless you have hands like a caveman. The bottom has cutouts for the speaker, mic and 30-pin port. Don’t bother trying to use an HDMI dongle with the phone, though, it won’t fit.

Overall Protection Level

The Seidio Active X has a strong level of protection against drops and bumps. The silicone is thick for strong impact absorbption further bolstered by the protection of the Exoskeleton.

Speck PixelSkin HD

iPhone Cases

Speck is famous for making a fleet of different iPhone cases. They’ve been doing it for generations of the device and their offerings are wide with anything from a wildly lightweight case to the heavy duty. Here we’ll check out the new PixelSkin HD. This case just begs to be used because of the texture on the back. It’s a slim and semi-rigid case.

Screen Protection

The PixelSkin HD and the Seidio have a similar lip that covers the perimeter of the iPhone. While the Seidio opts for the chunkier silicone, the Speck uses a thinner plastic. The PixelSkin HD would help the screen from touching a surface if slid face down, preventing it from getting scratched.

Button & Port Accessibility

The top has a hearty cut out for the headphone port where most any headphones should plug in with ease and the power button is covered with plastic and easily accessed. The left side has a full cut out for the ringer switch, while the volume buttons are covered by the plastic and easily accessed. The bottom has a cut out for the microphone, 30-pin connector and speaker. An HDMI dongle can fit into the cut out with a little wiggle.

Overall Protection Level

The Speck PixelSkin HD has a great feel to it and it will provide a decent level of protection from drops and scrapes. It’s a solid step up from running around with a naked phone.

Wrap Up:

Each of these cases can work for you depending upon how you use your phone. If you’re not going to use the Jonathan Ive case (no case), as my friend Davis calls it, one of these might be a good fit. Here’s what you might like:

If you jump out of planes and are interested in an active outdoor lifestyle and you want to film the action along the way, check out the LifeProof case. The cases are even compatible with GoPro Camera mounts.

For those of you that use your phone to watch videos or do quite a bit of video Skype work, the PureGear Kickstand Case will be a life saver thanks to its built in stand.

To blend a desire of robust protection while keeping a slim case, check out the Seidio Active X. It will take a beating and still look good doing so.

For the minimalist that wants to reduce scratches and provide some protection for the infrequent drop, the Speck is for you. It will work sliding out of a pair of jeans or out of a sport coat.

First published on MySA.

Wilson Electronics Directional Antenna Installation & Sleek

If you caught the previous post about the Wilson Electronics dB Pro installation, you know that we were able to get service in a place with no prior service. It was a huge benefit for our family. To ratchet the signal up more, we opted to switch the antenna out from an omnidirectional antenna to a directional antenna. The change resulted in a boost of 6 dB for us, which is significant – double the power, actually. Check out photos and video of the install below. A big thank you to my dad for running the tractor safely, @chocov for the heavy lifting and @smithflys23 for the cameo and tool handling.

Signal test with the dB Pro and the omnidirectional antenna: -104 dB
Wilson Electronics dB Pro Installation

Wilson Electronics’ Directional Antenna
Wilson Electronics dB Pro Installation

Removal of the Wilson Electronics Omnidirectional Antenna
Wilson Electronics dB Pro Installation

Preparing the Wilson Electronics Directional Antenna
Wilson Electronics dB Pro Installation

Wilson Electronics Directional Antenna Mounted and Aimed
Wilson Electronics dB Pro Installation

Signal test with the dB Pro and the Directional antenna: -98 dB
Wilson Electronics dB Pro Installation

Check out the video. Shot with a @GoPro_News Hero 2 Motorsport.

It’s not enough to have service inside the house when you’re out at the ranch, so we fired up a Wilson Electronics Sleek. It comes with an antenna, an expandable cradle to fit even the widest of phones or devices and a cigarette lighter adapter. Even out at the feeder on the outskirts of the ranch, we were able to place a call.

Without the Sleek – no service
Wilson Electronics Sleek

Wilson Electronics Sleek Antenna
Wilson Electronics Sleek Antenna

Wilson Electronics Sleek Cradle
Wilson Electronics Sleek

With the Sleek – -97 dB Signal
Wilson Electronics Sleek

@chocov testing out the service with the Sleek
Wilson Electronics Sleek

If you’re out in the country or in a place with poor service, check out the Wilson Electronics kits. They really do work!

Wilson Electronics dB Pro Kit on Amazon
Wilson Electronics Sleek on Amazon