ooh, sexy!

spectre_saf_gallery_zoom1 spectre_saf_gallery_zoom2 spectre_saf_gallery_zoom3I’m a MAC girl. Always been one. Most likely, always will be. But I gotta admit, this HP Spectre is damn sexy with its black carbon finish and copper accents.

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oh, my aching back

71dewojfsml-_sx522_This little machine is the best $40, ever spent! Have you ever been to the chiropractor and wanted to take home their electrode based massaging machine? Well, now you can have a simple version of it all for yourself at less than the price of an office visit.

witouch1Sold under the brand names Aleve by Bayer (blue) or WiTouch (green), regardless the brand, the machine is exactly the same little battery powered contraption that in 30 minutes offers amazing relief. While not as high powered or multi-armed as the fancy doctor’s office machine, it’s two pads sit either side of the spine and provides varied pulse sensations in a pre-programmed rhythm and is adjustable from low to medium intensity. If you suffer from lower back pain it is well worth a try.

Tip: 

The WiTouch replacement gel pads, required for each use (usually lasting 2-5 uses each) are much less expensive than the Aleve branded pads. And since the machines are exactly the same, go for the cheaper option.

available at drugstores or Amazon.com

another new beauty

hellodysonDyson has introduced their answer to the hairdryer and it is a looker!  Always on the cutting edge of technology and design, Dyson is great at making great looking things. I’m not a fan of their vacuums (because I prefer a bag to bagless) but this little beauty might be worth a shot.

dysondyson-attachmentsWith two colorways and three magnetic attachments, it looks like a hand held version of their room fans. Reviews are thus far positive owing to the balance that shifts the weight to the handle, those easy to use magnetic attachments, quietness and descent amount of power. At $400 it is priced like a professional model so before you jump, maybe see if the pros adopt it as a tool of choice.

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have you seen this?

juicero-cold-press-juicer-1This sleek wi-fi enabled contraption is the latest invention in the cold pressed juice craze. No longer do you need to lug umpteen heavy bottles of juice home from the store — and when you’re juicing that’s 6 bottles a day mind you. Or ship a maximum 3 day supply from a cross-country juicery. No more nasty cleaning of a traditional juicer that removes all the good stuff anyway. This handy dandy machine is a sleek, clean, easy to use counter top version of a high pressure juice pressery, previously only available for commercial use.

OK, it’s expensive at $700. But it’s brand new, heavily VC funded and will come down in price eventually (she says hopefully). Just buy the machine, download the app, order juice packs that range from $5-7 each and come in 8 juice combinations, use the app to verify the freshness of the pack via QR code (the machine won’t juice if the pack is out of date), insert the pack and within 2 minutes you have fresh cold pressed juice. Simply throw the pack away (or rinse and return for recycling), no need for clean up.

I’m thinking it’s actually not all that bad a deal.  if you juice regularly and spend $200 plus $25 shipping for 3 days of juice, the machine will pay for itself eventually. OK better if it were $400 then it’s in the range of your stand mixer price, that you maybe use once in a blue moon while this beauty would get used every day — and look great on your counter top too!

The Juicero, currently only available in California but expanding to a state near you one day soon.

living with alexa

EchoWay back in December I answered an unsolicited invite to purchase the new Amazon Echo for just $99 (well down from the future list price of $199). Why not? It seemed kinda cool in a Star Trek talking computer kind of way.

My new Echo arrived just yesterday, 6 months later. Out of the well designed box it took all of 2 minutes to set up — download the app to my iPhone, connect to wi-fi and I was up and running. Now, I am an Apple girl at heart. But I do love my Kindle. And I despise Siri whom I have used less than a handful of times in several years.

Alexa (the voice of Echo) on the other hand is pleasant and helpful and really does sound like the computer from Star Trek. Only she is not that smart just yet. However, for my simple needs, so far I like her. She tells me the time. She tells me the weather. She keeps a grocery list for me that shows up on my iPhone. She plays my local NPR station. She gives me news updates and answers silly fact-based questions with ease. No pushing of buttons, no need to stand close, no need to repeat myself 18 times. I just ask in my normal voice from anywhere in my large loft-like apartment, “Alexa, what time is it?” Echo 2Other things Alexa can do with the drop of a question:  Play music from Amazon Prime, Pandora and iHeartRadio play lists. Turn off and on lights using select connected technology. Set a timer or alarm. Buys things from Amazon (of course!). Tell you what’s on your Google calendar (if you have one). And she vows to get smarter as time goes on.

Echo as an object is basically a speaker. The technology lives in the cloud. So as Amazon adds more partnerships and features, Alexa will be come even more helpful. Is she the be all and end all. No. But I’m using her so that’s a good sign. I only wish I could change her name from  “Alexa” to “Computer”. Then I’d really feel like I was living in an episode of Star Trek!

guy gifts

guy gifts 20141. What guy doesn’t like photos of naked girls. This artsy collection is by Australian photographer Russell James  $1992. The label on this wine is cooler than cool and the wine ain’t half bad either $16.99 3. An ingenious little cardboard box that projects iPhone images up to 8 times their size $39.99 4. The man who has everything does not have this stunning music box that plays Mozart with the twist of a key $90 5. A world clock — just roll to find a new timezone. Watch the video. You’ll be amazed. $49 6. A five pound supply of gummy green army men. You’re going down soldier!  $15

Click on highlighted numbers to shop

beauty isn’t everything

misfit shineI really wanted to love my Misfit Shine fitness tracker when i wrote about it back in mid-September (here). At that time I had just used it a few weeks. It was beautiful and novel and had potential — potential for me to go electronic. But I am sad to say this little beauty has been a huge disappointment. So before you spend your dollars read on . . .

The issues:

  • syncing is a challenge. While it is supposed to sync automatically when near your iPhone’s open app, it only does so when it damn well feels like it. Manual syncing can take 6-7 attempts before it is successful.
  • often it doesn’t differentiate days and puts all my activity together on one day, even though it might have occurred over successive days.
  • customer service is slow and poor — after an app update, I just couldn’t get my misfit to sync so I contacted customer service through the app. 3 weeks later I got a response saying sometimes it just takes time to sync. After several days, the function did start working again.
  • the beta system for alternate exercises is very hit or miss. I chose this fitness tracker over others because it can track swimming. You are supposed to tap 3 times before starting so it recognizes you are doing your chosen alternate activity. Only there is no indication that it has recognized your taps and is a 50/50 shot whether it tracks the activity at all. And some of those times, it just tracks swimming as walking instead.
  • adding manual tracking (just for the above situation) was a welcome update recently. But unfortunately whatever you track manually doesn’t count towards your daily total. So what’s the point? If I forget to wear the tracker or it doesn’t record my activity due to a glitch, my day can look like a big goose egg.
  • the battery is supposed to last 3-4 months. I barely got 2 months out of my first battery.

so back to paper and pencil for me. I hear the newer cheaper version is a bit more responsive to touch so may sync or track alternate activities with more success. If you are eager to try, I’d try one of those. Not as pretty but you can’t have everything.

favorite apps

The things you can do from your iPhone these days still amaze me. From navigating through a foreign land, to hailing a cab, to paying for lunch. It’s all so easy and still gives me a thrill each and every day. Maybe I’m just of that age where the technology was introduced just late enough that I remember life before a little too clearly. But boy, I like it! Here are my current top 10 favorite apps that get a regular workout on my phone these days:

PostmatesPostmates — if you’re a regular reader you’ll no doubt remember that Postmates offered free ice cream delivered to your door on National Ice Cream day. That freebie is indicative of the types of regular promotions this service offers in addition to delivery of just about anything your heart desires, especially food from your favorite restaurant that doesn’t normally deliver. Charges are based on distance and no cash changes hands (except for tips). Available in most major cities.

mobile nowMobile Now! — you don’t need coins for a parking meter anymore, or annoying $2-3 charges on your credit card. Simply type in the space number on your meter and you’re all set to park. Stop your session at any time or get a text reminder that your time is about to expire. Top up your account to any amount you like and it automatically refills when you hit zero. This app has saved me from parking tickets more than once. Not all cities use this app but they should!

NPRKCRW — Simply the best NPR station in the country. You can listen to what’s live on air or choose from a series of taped shows. Makes me a little less homesick for LA.

 

 

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Nat Mall DCThe National Mall by Bluebrain — Music composed for your interaction with The National Mall in Washington, DC. Just launch the app, don headphones and the music plays and seamlessly transitions according to your location. I also have a similar app for Central Park in NYC but that no longer seems available for download. A truly wonderful location based experience, the brainchild of two local composer brothers.

tripcaseTripcase — If you like to travel, this app will keep you organized. Make a reservation of any kind — airplane, train, hotel, air bnb, car rental, etc . . . and simply forward the confirmation email to the provided address and it loads all the details to your profile by trip. It keeps up with you as your trip unfolds and provides up to the minute gate information (even before it hits the airport displays), alerts you to delays, indicates alternate flights (just in case), gives directions and even has a direct link to Uber. Travel made simple

silver carSilver Car — all Audi A4 rentals, all the time with no lines, no hassle. Free Wi-Fi and GPS with every car. Simply deplane, proceed to your car, use your iPhone to unlock and go. Return with the push of a button and your receipt is emailed to you. Couldn’t be simpler when you need decent wheels. Limited cities currently (LA, Dallas, Phoenix, Austin, Miami, Denver, San Francisco). Cars rent at approx. $80/day, include unlimited miles, and fair pricing gas (local price plus $5 fee) so no need to stop and fill up in a sketchy neighborhood on your way to the airport.

Melbourne PTPublic Transport Victoria — my time in Melbourne wouldn’t be as easy without this handy app. It tells me the best way to get to anywhere by tram, bus or train. Simply type in the address where you want to go and you get door to door instructions with available times for your public transport method. I used a similar app in Auckland and made it far and wide across that city without fail. So the lesson is your local public transport authority usually has the best solution for free. Wi-fi or 4G required.

WellsFargoBanking Apps — check deposit by app has changed my life. I can’t recall the last time i went to an ATM or into an actual bank. But should you need to, with the push of a button the closest location will reveal itself. Pay Bills, transfer funds, check balances, deposit checks. Now if only it could dispense cash and life would be really good — but I assume that soon, we will be a cashless society so no worries there.

 

FandangoFandango — I keep all my favorite theaters listed so I can check out what’s playing near me and show times. For a small fee, you can even buy advance tickets, usually saving time and long lines at the theater. Also provides reviews, trailers and probably a million other movie-biz tid-bits I never even bother with. I’m just in it for the convenience.

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PinterestPinterest — I am not a game girl. So to keep me occupied while waiting idly somewhere, I turn to Pinterest. It’s all the visual stimulation I need.