Techie Traveling

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Ahh, technology.  In many ways, it’s made our lives easier.  From our mobile devices, without ever talking to a real person, we can now accomplish tasks such as making airline reservations, checking the weather, monitoring our heart rate, and most importantly – we can even order a pizza.  It’s amazing stuff, and all indications are that we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg.

Our family of six has just returned from our annual January pilgrimage to Disney World in Florida (I’m freezing right now), and I thought it’d be fun to talk about a little of the technology that definitely made our lives easier as we navigated the friendly skies.  For all of you moms and dads out there, I think you’ll agree – whatever can help make our lives easier, is of great interest!IMG_0019_2

So the day before we were scheduled to leave out of Chicago O’Hare, I received an email from United, saying that our aircraft was part of their “Personal Device Entertainment” program.  The techie side of me, and the dad side of me rejoiced in the possibilities that this might offer for in-flight distractions for 2.5 hours.  I saved the email, made sure our devices met the minimum requirements (more on that in a minute), and prepared for the following day’s flight.

We boarded the plane, and second on my priority list was figuring this entertainment thing out (first on the list was making sure all four of our boys made it on the plane).  So once we made it to our seats, and stowed our carry-on bags, I fired up my iPad, and … nothing happened.  This wasn’t exactly the experience I was hoping for, and I later realized that the service doesn’t become active until the aircraft is airborne.  Probably a good idea.

IMG_0021But once we got connected, and understood how to work things, this system was really cool.  The amount of content is pretty impressive, and there seemed to be a little something for everybody (including kids) available for viewing.  A few things to note before you stream movies on United to your heart’s content:

  • Make sure you download the latest version of the United app to your smartphone or tablet.  This was clearly stated in the directions, and somehow I totally missed that.  Without the app, you’re stuck with nothing but a complimentary beverage and a bag of peanuts to entertain you during your flight.
  • Right now, this service is limited to those with laptops, or iOS devices.  According to United, full support for Android and “other devices” is coming soon.

So there you have it.  United’s got a great system, and if you read the directions (don’t follow my example), you’ll be in good shape.

As a quick follow-up, I recently flew on Southwest Airlines back to Florida (I told you I was cold), and they have a similar system, with a few differences.  Southwest makes you pay to watch a movie; 5 dollars to be exact, which is reasonable, but a bummer.  On the positive side, though, they give you about 10 channels or so of free live TV!  Watching a live college basketball game was a great way to pass the time, while my co-traveller caught some shut eye.

Got a great techie travel story?  We’d love to hear about it!

Take Charge of Your Heart

With the AliveCor Heart Monitor.

The other day we were talking with a customer who has a diagnosed heart condition, atrial fibrillation, or AFib. They were sharing with us how terrifying it was when their heart would beat so fast it felt like they had just completed a marathon, while resting on the couch. Which led to the topic of inconvenient doctor visits (as this customer is a world-traveller), but now due to the AliveCor Heart Monitor, their AFib has been much more manageable.

AFib occurs when the heart’s electrical signals don’t travel through the heart in a normal way. Disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s two upper chambers (called the atria) to fibrillate, or contract quickly and irregularly. Blood will then pool in the atria as it doesn’t get completely pumped into the heart’s two lower chambers (called the ventricles). As a result the chambers don’t work together as they should. Some people with AFib may not feel symptoms, but it can be detected through an electrocardiogram (ECG) or also known as an EKG.

AliveCor Heart Monitor

Up until recently, those with AFib were required to meet with a physician to get an ECG reading, but today, they can do this anywhere at anytime right from their Apple iOS or Android OS device. Our customer was ecstatic that they could attach the AliveCor Heart Monitor to their phone (taking the place of a normal case), download the free AliveECG app from the Apple Store, and immediately begin recording their ECGs by holding it, automatically sharing results with their physician. The Android app can be downloaded at Google Play.

In addition to tracking and saving ECGs, the app then allows you to save medications, track symptoms like palpitations/shortness of breath and habits like caffeine/alcohol consumption, as well as activities like exercise/sleep.

Clinical studies have shown that the accuracy of AliveCor is comparable to readings from Lead 1 of standard ECG machines, but at a fraction of the cost. Studies also show the monitor is highly accurate, enabling easy and effective detection of irregular heart rhythms by your physician.

In fact, AliveCor just came out with a brand new 3rd generation heart monitor yesterday in addition to the case for the iPhone 5/5s and one for veterinary use.

Take charge of your heart! Our customer did and couldn’t be happier.

Forgot your garage door opener?

On more than one occasion, my car gets parked in the driveway for the night. By the time I pull up to the garage door, get out of my car to open it, get back in my car to pull in, and then get back out of my car to close it; opening the garage door just becomes an inconvenience. Yes, I have a garage door opener, but half the time certain family members ‘borrow’ it in their own vehicles. I never see it again.

This happens to you too?

Not for much longer. MyDoorOpener was developed so this wouldn’t happen to anyone ever again. It’s an iPhone app that allows you to open and close your garage door from anywhere at any time using an Arduino controller. So if you forget to close your garage door and remember at work, one swipe will get it closed.

MyDoorOpener application works over the internet, accessing your home network allowing you to operate any number of doors from as many devices as you’d like to program. It’s password protected preventing signal theft and unauthorized entry, and can also be programmed to notify you when there’s any door activity.

MyDoorOpener

Interested? Read on!

After building and assembling the hardware, download and install the Arduino IDE on your computer. Then download and extract the MyDoorOpener controller application. Configure to suit your needs using the Arduino IDE, and upload to your Arduino controller via your computer’s USB port. Connect your Arduino controller to your home network router and configure you home router to have a specific port forwarded to the Arduino’s IP address. Download and install MyDoorOpener iPhone application from the Apple App Store. After launching the app on your phone, go to Settings and adjust the parameters to match your controller configuration. And wa-lah, you now have an iPhone operated garage door opener!

Android user? The iSmartGate app is for you. It’s very similar to MyDoorOpener.

And just like that, opening the garage door is no longer an inconvenience.

What are your thoughts on this mobile-friendly garage door opener? Oh and if you happen to crush your phone under the garage door, we can fix it! 🙂

We’re expanding our product line

That’s right — Right in time for the holiday season! We are so excited to announce that as of today we now stock Belkin Lightning to USB Cable.

Lightning to USB Cable

This four foot cable can be used for iPhone 5/5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini. They can be purchased for $18 plus tax, which is considerably cheaper than any of our competitors.

And they make great stocking stuffers!

How to safely wipe your Apple devices

We’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding how to wipe your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch of all data when selling or giving away your iOS device. We know there is an enormous amount of conflicting information out there, so today we want to set the record straight.

Before you sell or give away your iOS device, make sure that you’ve removed all of your personal information by getting back to the factory default state. The following steps will guide you through the process:

1. Back up your device.
2. Go to Settings > General > Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings.
-This will completely erase your device and turn off iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, Game Center, and other services.
-If you’re using iOS 7 or later and have Find My iPhone turned on, your Apple ID and password will be required. After you provide your password, the device will be erased and removed from your account so that the next owner can activate it.
3. Contact your carrier for guidance on transferring service to the new owner.

When the device is turned on for the first time by the new owner, Setup Assistant will guide them through the setup process.

Please note: If you manually delete contacts, calendars, reminders, documents, photo streams, or any other iCloud data while signed in to your iCloud account, the content will also be deleted from the iCloud servers and all of your iCloud devices. Don’t do it.

Also, if you’re in the market for a new mobile device or looking to sell yours, we highly recommend swappa.com. Swappa doesn’t allow any junk devices as they verify all listings and there are no seller fees making it cheaper to buy and sell.

What other questions do you guys have regarding these topics?

Apple Pants

By now most everyone who wanted needed the iPhone 6 and/or the iPhone 6 Plus have already received them and have nestled them perfectly inside their pocket for quick, immediate access.

Or have they?

It may come as no surprise that the iPhone 6 Plus and the pocket aren’t necessarily friends.

We like to joke around the office that there really is no difference in size between the iPhone 6 Plus and our iPad mini’s we rock. With that said, try as we may we can not fit that iPhone 6 Plus in our pockets. The entire apple sticks out!

Then we stumbled upon this.

But seriously American Eagle, Levi’s, L.L. Bean, J. Crew, and Lee Jeans are just a few fashion brands that are reportedly designing larger pockets to accommodate these larger phones.

So, what do you think? You think bigger pockets are the answer? Or, are you not really a pocket person?

The top 5 things you need to know about The Tile App

It’s Monday morning. You’ve overslept. And you’re out of coffee.

To make matters worse, you can’t find your car keys anywhere. You know you just had them, but they’ve seemed to grow legs and walk away. You’re growing more and more agitated by the minute.

Sound familiar? What if I told you those days are all but a memory? Well the lost car keys anyway.

As many of you may know we, at 815 Media, pride ourselves in being on the cutting edge of anything technological and today is no different. Today, we’d like to help you find those lost car keys made possible through The Tile App.

Here are five things you need to know about The Tile App:

Notice the simple design of the tile allowing it to fit with any of your favorite items.

Notice the simple design of the tile allowing it to fit with any of your favorite items.

  1. This app was created with YOU in mind! Developed a few months ago by Tile Inc., the tile is a trendy little attachment designed to fit on any of your favorite items including key rings, purses, and/or wallets.
  2. You can have up to eight tiles that are tethered to any of your Apple products starting with the iPhone 4S (as long as you’re running iOS 7 or 8), iPhone 6, a 3rd generation iPad, a 5th generation iPod Touch, or the iPad mini. And coming soon is the tile app for android devices as Tile Inc. are currently expanding their compatibilities for other devices with Bluetooth LE capabilities.
  3. Each tile casts a signal across a 100-foot radius and automatically records the last place your phone, or any other phone with the app open, saw your tile.
  4. As you begin searching for your lost items, the app’s tracking circle begins to fill in letting you know how close you are, while the tile begins beeping making it easier to locate.
  5. The Tile App can be downloaded for free here and tiles can be purchased beginning at $20 for one or $60 for four.

And wa-lah! Your life has now been made easier. Thoughts? Do you use these tiles? If not, is there a similar app you use instead?