On Insecurity

Social Media Pillows

“So someone got into my checking and savings account today and wiped me out. They left $300. I’m glad it isn’t the first of the month with rent and other bills due. They did this from the UK with a few phone calls. They drafted thousands of dollars out, changed the password to my account and all.” This was the call I got from a close friend. Thankfully his bank is making him whole again. It scared the hell out of me.

As financial institutions look for ways to make our money, which we entrust, safer, gaping holes remain. Think about the security questions you’re asked to set up.

– “What is your mother’s maiden name?”
– “What city were you born in?”
– “What was the name of your high school mascot?”

Are these questions as secure and as secretive as you once believed? What if your mother has passed away and there’s an obituary? Didn’t you join your high school’s facebook fan page based off the millionth request you got from friends you don’t really like to join the reunion you don’t want to attend?

I brought these issues up to @AmericanExpress today and they told me that they have extra questions if you don’t call from a phone number they recognize. What if the bad guys use one of the free apps or websites that can spoof the Caller ID?

If it’s digital, sooner or later it can get hacked. The good news is that you can do things to make your account more of a pain for thieves, in hopes that they’ll go find an easier target. Here are some ideas:

Instead of using one of the default security questions, ask your bank and credit card company if you can use either a password, instead of a simple security question or a PIN. Speaking of a PIN, don’t use the same one you always use. Try a random number generator to have it pick a number that’s typically not associated with you. While you’re at it, ask them for a new debit and credit card with a smart chip. They’re much more difficult to steal and you’re going to get one anyway between now and 2016, guaranteed.

For your logins, use multi-factor authentication when available. Some instances require you to enter your user name and password into the site you’re trying to log into, then the additional step happens when the site sends you a short code via text to enter as well. This additional step takes a few moments, is not a perfect fix, but makes it much more difficult for someone to compromise your account. Don’t just do this for your financial parts of your life, do it for everything that will allow. Especially your email and social media. If someone else attempts to gain access to your account and wants to send a password reset, it’s going to your email. Wouldn’t you like a jump on that with a quick text making sure it’s you? @Lifehacker has a nice list of places to enable multi-factor/two-factor authentication.

Make some changes to the way you secure your online data, it’s a small pain that will save you the nightmare of having to cancel everything and start over if your accounts get deeply compromised. Sadly, it can happen to any one of us.

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

The new @UltimateEars 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones come beautifully packaged, it’s Apple-esque. The 900s come with a quad armature (four speakers per ear) that have been tuned to have more bass than their predecessors, the UE900. It would be unfair to consider these bass heavy at all, the sound gets rounded out beautifully. Further, the highs will make your ears bleed if you turn up the jams too loud. Ultimate Ears includes a huge assortment of ear gels and @ComplyFoam tips to ensure these fit your ears. Not only are they included, but check out the photo below, they are sized! Ultimate Ears also includes extras in case one of your ears has a larger opening than the other. You can also choose one of two different cables. The blue cable includes remote controls to allow you to turn the volume up and down, play/pause your music and a microphone is included on the back to catch a quick call between tracks. The black cable is a standard cable without remote feature or a mic, in case you’re a purist in listening to music. Drop me a line in the comments if you have questions.

If you’re looking to upgrade your headphones from your bundled Apple EarPods, check out Ultimate Ears line. Already have the perfect earphones? Grab a pack of Comply Foam Tips to maximize the noise isolation.

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Ultimate Ears 900s Noise-Isolating Earphones Unboxing

Photos captured with the @SamsungCameraUS NX30 and the delicious 85mm lens.

Get Time Warner Cable Wifi Free for Your Customers

Ampersand Made of Metal

Sharing. It’s the worst. Especially when it comes to internet speeds and having to do so with strangers. I guess it’s a little bit better when those strangers are people who pay you money. I think those are called customers. Nonetheless, slow internet speeds are grounds for breakups and civil wars. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not anymore.

Time Warner Cable has done something friendly. I know, many of you are shocked, but it’s true! If you’re a Time Warner Cable Business Class subscriber, you can get another hotspot, for free, that gives your customers a separate bunch of bandwidth to suck down while you and your team members cruise along unencumbered by that one clown that has to get on his VPN with his RSA pocket calculator thing.

Time Warner will provide the hardware and service for free. They will also give you marketing materials and provide free support for the device and service. You can even customize the sign on page with your company logo, messaging and a website landing page. You also get free access at over 250,000 hotspots nationwide and a free business listing on TWC WiFi and partner WiFi coverage maps and apps. The device also lets you set how long a person can stay connected to your network, just in case you find you have a few customers wearing out their welcome.

If you’re interested in doing this for your business, then hit the link and get in touch with your internet overlord and ask for more internet porridge. You’ll submit a form to have a representative get in touch with you to get started. If you know your rep, feel free to give them a ring. This offer is new, so they might not yet be familiar. One thing is for sure, your customers will thank you. Your employees probably will as well…as long as you’re not a jerk about this whole thing.

Give me free customer internet with TWC Wifi! (the link is hit or miss in Chrome, you might try a different browser)

How To Get Free Boingo Wireless Internet Access

How to connect to a Boingo Wireless Wi-Fi Hotspot for free without paying.

Sutro Tower Sitting in an airport, wishing you had a faster connection to the internet via that Boingo hotspot that’s promising you sweet sweet network goodness? Maybe you’re about to go underground in the New York City subway system and you know that your cell phone signal is about to be slapped down by those feet of concrete. Never fear! Many companies have set up roaming agreements with Boingo Wifi to help you continue your Spotify streaming in those pesky dead zones, you just need to know how to get them set up and how to find them.

If you have Time Warner Cable, connect to any of these networks: Boingo or TWCWifi or TWCWiFi-Passpoint (provides WPA2 secure connection) and use your account username and password to gain access to the networks. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

For Boingo:
Look for the Boingo Hotspot network name on your device, or check which network names (SSIDs) are available on our partner hotspots in our TWC WiFi® Coverage Map or WiFi Finder app.

To sign in to Boingo Hotspots:
1. Select the Boingo Hotspot network name on your device.
2. Open your browser.
3. On the Boingo WiFi sign in page, select Time Warner Cable from the dropdown list of Internet service providers.
4. Click Log In.
5. Enter your TWC ID and password and log in.

For TWC WiFi® Hotspots:

1. Be sure WiFi is enabled on your device.
2. Select the “TWCWiFi” network name from the list of your device’s available wireless networks.
3. Open you browser and navigate to a webpage.
4. The TWC sign in portal will appear.
5. Enter your TWC ID and password.
6. Accept the Terms of Service.
7. Click Sign in to finalize the connection.

If you have a different cable carrier as your home internet provider, you can check CableWifi‘s website to find what roaming hotspots are available in your neck of the woods while you travel. Happy connecting to all the things!

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 http://bit.ly 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.

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: http://bit.ly/fullfacebook 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.

How to Pack for a Two Week Trip To Europe

The best travel tips when traveling to Europe for two weeks.

London - October 2012

Cell Phone
Get an unlocked device or unlock your phone. Determine if your phone uses a sim, micro-sim or nano sim. Reeview your contacts to ensure that their phone numbers start with +1 or else numbers will look incorrect and might not work smoothly, especially with iMessage. A number should read like this: +1 (210) 555-1212 instead of just (210) 555-1212. Check this wiki for information on carrier options in each country. Set APN information on your device. If you’re using an iPhone, check this site from your iPhone and it can set the information for you. Buy the sim in the country you’re visiting. In some countries, they will ship the SIM to a local address in the country you’re visiting. Mobile Vikings, who was great in Belgium, did this. I inserted the SIM and activated it and was up and running in minutes. Orange France’s Mobicarte is miserably slow in activating a new sim – it can take 48 hours. At least they tell you upfront that it will take this long. Three UK’s Pay As You Go 15 was a great deal with unlimited data and it provided a local number and texting.

Although the people in Europe are full sized, their hotel rooms, elevators, washrooms and cars are not. Packing giant luggage for a tiny room is a surefire way of angering your travel partner and likely carrying heavy bags up and down stairs. I travel with three pieces of luggage. A bulletproof Kirkland Signature carryon from Costco, a Patagonia Lightwire backpack (model no longer available, so pick a new one) for my laptop and gadgets and a Patagonia Atom day bag with bonus Gypsy strap. Gypsy strap is not an official Patagonia term. It’s what I call the secondary strap that wraps around your body to prevent someone from flipping your bag over the back of your head and absconding with your gear, as I witnessed in Prague. Packing so little requires some planning, but makes lost bags due to the airline nearly impossible. If you lose your bags on the flight over, at least you tried your best. Space is now at a premium so pack wisely. Oh, you want to know what I pack? Follow me.

What to Pack
Sure, my mom made me start washing my own clothes at 15 because I changed three times a day. I like fresh clothes. In Europe, it’s best to get over it and recycle. Before any gear goes in the suitcase, I Camp Dry it. Camp Dry is a silicone spray used for tents and outdoor gear to keep them dry in the rain. Buy a couple of bottles online or in the Target shoe department. I coat my hat, scarf, jacket, shoes, pants and bags. If you get caught in a small shower, you’ll be able to wipe the water off your clothes and gear. Camp Dry also prevents stains if you opt to wear a meal.

Packing socks and underwear for a few weeks eats up space faster than phonebooks in landfills. Instead, grab travel underwear from ExOfficio. It’s anti-microbial and fast drying. Pick up two or three so you can have a fresh pair, while another pair is drying after you hand washed in the shower or sink. They’ll be dry in an hour, I promise. Even in the winter. When it comes to socks, grab a few pair of SmartWool socks. These are also anti-microbial and will keep your feet padded and warm on a cold day. If it heats up, the wool stays cool. They have magic in the threading. Those suckers will stay fresh longer than Will Smith.

When it comes to shirts, I opt for polyester long sleeve shirts. Everyone makes them. Adidas calls them ClimaCool, Nike makes DriFit. Pick your favorites. You can wash these in the sink or shower as well and they dry fast. Wearing black or gray always looks clean and people can’t tell that you’re recycling clothes in the photos. While you’re at it, bring a pair or two of long underwear, too, if it’s the right season. Get the polyester version of those. Again, easy to wash, fast to dry.

With shoes, I wear running shoes. I walk close to 12 miles a day, so I’m looking for comfort. I also suggest that you bring one with a decent sole. The Brooks Ghost running shoes were perfect to cruise over the cobblestones and uneven ground of Europe. I also brought a second pair of shoes, black leather Ecco shoes that were good for walking, too. Since the Brooks are fabric, with enough rain, water will get through. If you get in a multi-day rain, you’ll want to have some shoes that will keep your feet dry. You’re a world traveler, rain won’t keep you indoors! Of course, if you choose to buy new shoes for your trip, I’d suggest a comfortable pair ready for rain. Solomon makes some great shoes.

If you’ve not lived in the north, pay attention. A scarf and a hat will save your bacon on those chilly nights. Have at least one of each with you. I thought scarves were stupid. Turns out, I was an idiot. The night I wrapped a scarf around my neck in Prague, it felt like a warm hug. I was sold. Go buy a scarf already. Oh yeah, if it starts raining and you lost your hat and forgot an umbrella, you can use the scarf on your head. You Camp Dry’d that thing, remember?

Bring snacks with you. Instead of forking over for crap food, bring hearty snacks like trail mix and low sugar, high protein bars. You’ll save cash, you can keep moving without cueing behind tourists for a churro or kebab. Save your cash to enjoy the local fair and a local brew later. Speaking of food and your belly, you should also bring vitamins and probiotics. Start taking them weeks before you travel. You want to be healthy on your adventure, there’s a ton to see! The probiotics will keep your tummy feeling good when you try new foods, especially if you don’t have the stomach of a billy goat. Eating the local yogurt will put the local probiotics in your system, too. Do that. Before you drink the water, check online to see if the water is safe to drink. If you’re smack dab in the European Union (ie France, Germany, Austria, etc) you’re good. Just in case, pack Pepto and carry it in your day bag. Even if not for you, you can help save some other tourist that’s not having a great day. There are also dissolving tabs that will prevent vomiting, but you’ll have to talk to your doc. Good news – the generics are cheap and they work.

Most of your gadgets are ready for 110 and 220 volt, especially if they can charge via USB. Be smart and look on the plug to ensure voltage compatibility. Beyond voltage compatibility, you will need plug converters. Your hotel might have some to loan you, but I like coming prepared. T-Tech makes a sweet plug that works in most of the world thanks to the flexible plug situation built in. It provides one power outlet and one USB outlet.

Take a knee. Pack a camera. Your memories deserve better than the awful pictures you’ll shoot on an iPad. Also, you look ridiculous shooting pictures with an iPad. Read your camera manual so you understand how it works. You’re going to see beautiful landscapes, buildings and people that you’ll want to photograph. If you don’t know why your camera isn’t giving you what you see, blame yourself. I’m telling you, read the damn manual. After you’ve read the manual, learn how to shoot. Don’t just use Instagram to shoot, the resolution of those photos is pathetically low. If you decide you want to print one for later, it is going to look like you printed it in 1998 on an inkjet. People barely want to see your travel photos. Do your friends and family a favor and make them good, ok?

Do you need help packing? I’ve got you sorted out there, too. I prefer the bundle wrapping method. It’s so awesome, a TSA agent in Kansas City fist bumped me after checking my bag. A security agent at London Heathrow told me my bag was packed very efficiently after having a look. When people who see thousands of bags take notice, you know you’re doing it right.

One More Thing
When you are traveling in a new country, especially in public transportation, take your headphones out. Sure, it can be for safety, but it’s bigger than that. I love listening to music. Probably more than most. Taking your headphones out exposes you to the world. It is an opportunity to pay attention to the needs of others and offer assistance if someone is lost and you know how to read a map. You become available for conversations that will enrich your life and make your travel more memorable. Save the music for later and make yourself available. It adds to the tapestry of your trip.

2014 Addition – Here’s a fun and cool packing checklist tool that is printable from Budget Direct in Australia.

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