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Holiday #Gift Ideas At @MicrosoftStore #Sponsored

Microsoft Store Holiday Gift GuideAfter countless experiences of giving my kids gifts they were asking for (even begging for), that they then abandoned after a short time – I pledged to try to buy gifts that last. During the holidays some of my favorite gift ideas (that last throughout the year) are technology devices and accessories. I was excited when SocialMoms and Microsoft asked me to participate in a sponsored blogging program to discuss holiday gift ideas at the Microsoft Store because they have such a wide range of technology devices and accessories gift ideas under one roof!

Here is a video that shows my fun adventure at the Microsoft Store checking out gifts that satisfies everyone from tech beginners to tech savvy, gamers, fashionistas, busy professionals, students and technology for the whole family.

Some of the great gifts I checked out at the store you can also check out online first, then head to the Microsoft Store to have your gift in hand for the holidays. If you don’t know exactly what they want, you can get gift cards for the Microsoft Store, XBox  or Skype. But there are also a range of phones, unique family touch enabled All-in-One desktops like the Sprout by HP, laptops like the Lenovo Yoga 2 in 1, tablets like the Surface Pro 3 Bundle or HP Stream 7 tablet (currently only $99!).
Microsoft Surface 3 Pro Bundle

 

 

All types of cases like  Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag , Greene & Gray Device Purse  or the Knomo Foley Device Cross Body Sleeve.

 

Knomo Foley  Cross Body Device Sleeve

 

 

Wearables are another hot gift idea such as FitBit and stylish Misfit Shine that monitor activity, calories and sleep. But there are also many other app-enabled accessories to choose from!

 

Misfit Shine and Sport Band

 

Entertainment gifts such as the Jawbone Mini wireless speaker, XBox One Plus Kinect  and maybe a stocking stuffer of a new XBox Wireless controller.  “Makers” may want the gift of MakerBot-Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer that can inspire all types of creative projects or the Go Pro HERO3 to unleash video creativity on the go.  I know that my kids are asking for some new video games but I also have some on my list including the Nike + Kinect Training and Just Dance 2014!

 

Xbox 360 Chrome Series Wireless Controller

 

Don’t forget tech toys such as the remote controlled aircraft like the Parrot AR Drone2.0 that performs smartphone-controlled acrobatic tricks.

 

Parrot MiniDrones Rolling Spide

 

 

 

What are you shopping for this holiday?

 

 

Disclosure: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Microsoft blogging program #MSFTHoliday . The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

 

 

 

Give gift of Time and Organization with OneNote for Mother’s Day!

Disclosure: Sponsored Post

 

Mother's Day Gift Time

On Mother’s Day, the gift options for that special Mom in your life are endless. One of my favorites is the gift of time with my family, friends and myself. Both organization and automation are essential to freeing-up that valuable time and Microsoft OneNote really helps.

 

New updates to OneNote are pretty exciting and I shared several in my last blog post. It’s available across my wide variety of family devices, and the perfect way to help get better control of my time. Better yet, my family helps by organizing their lists as well on OneNote so we ALL have more time!

 

Here are some of the ways you can give the gift of time and organization to your Mom (or if you are a Mom, suggest to your family!)

 

CREATE/UPDATE FAMILY PHOTO ALBUMS: Scan and organize old family photos into a OneNote notebook to create family albums. OneNote’s integration with apps like Office Lens (for Windows Phone) and Genius Scan (for iPhone, iPad and Android) give you a OneNote scanner in your pocket, so getting your family photos into OneNote is a snap!

 

ORGANIZE WEEKLY RECIPES: Have the whole family find recipes they want to “help” cook for dinner and scan those or save the online links into a OneNote Notebook. Then save in a “special occasion” notebook some fun recipes to cook for Mother’s day or other events. You can even download this customizable OneNote recipe book!

 

MOTHER’S DAY CARD: Have your family create their own pictures as well as find special memento’s or photos to scan for a Mother’s Day OneNote Notebook.

 

GROCERY LIST: Have the family help create a weekly Grocery list on OneNote that can be shared across devices so the family can all help with shopping! Even kids can read OneNote shopping lists on their parents’ phone to help find items at the store!

 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE: Have the family create a weekly schedule in OneNote that can even include screen shots of school lunch schedules, after school activities, scanned calendars and online links. A family that plans together has MORE TIME together! The schedule can also include TODO’s for the week so no one will forget to practice guitar, baseball, tennis or coding (hint hint to my kids!)

 

VACATION LIST: Create the family vacation “wish list”: A OneNote Notebook with vacation idea pictures, links and information so the family can plan special places to visit. After you’ve decided on your destination, download this OneNote travel planning template. Once all your research and planning details are in this OneNote, it’s easy to recall a particular detail at any given moment. You can even use Instant Search in the bar on the top right to recall anything you’ve ever put in OneNote.

 

GIFTS: Have the family create a OneNote notebook recording the gifts everyone wants for special occasions. Add a section detailing ways to earn rewards by completing homework and household chores. For example, if my kids want toys outside of holiday’s or birthdays, they need to create a plan to earn them!

 

ENTERTAINING: Our family realized that we have not been entertaining family and friends as much as we would like so we decided to create a OneNote Notebook with a list of who we want to invite over and meal ideas.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. I am an Office Champion and have received sponsorship and products. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

OneNote And Office Updates: iPad, Feedly, IFTTT and more

I am excited to participate as one of the Office Champions because Microsoft Office was already my go-to productivity tool for work and home management. I was also interested to keep updated on the new product releases, lately there have been exciting announcements! While we have many PC’s in our house, my teen uses a MAC. Because of our Microsoft Office 365 subscription he uses Office on the MAC. He also uses OneNote on his iPhone. So the recent announcements will offer him more ways to use Office and OneNote. I also can’t wait to try the new productivity features of OneNote that will help my day including the ability to send blogs and news articles directly to OneNote via Weave, News360 and Feedly. I can also connect to OneNote through IFTTT rules, send scanned documents using printers, scanners and apps as well as sending handwritten notes on paper with a Livescribe Pen. Here are the fun details below.

 

ONE NOTE FOR MAC

PRESS UPDATE: ” OneNote for Mac is now available for the first time, and for Free. Now, you can use OneNote on all the platforms you love including PC, Mac, Windows Tablets, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android and Web (phew!) We are also offering a freemium version for these platforms—so even if you don’t have an Office 365 subscription, you can enjoy OneNote anywhere and everywhere.”

 

 

OneNote for Mac

 

NEW FEATURES FOR ONE NOTE:

 

Along with the update was information on OneNote were also recently released new features related to note-taking, travel planning and organizing (three things busy families always could always use digital help with!):

 

  • Web clipper lets you quickly save web pages to your OneNote notebook.
  • me@onenote.com service lets you email notes directly to your notebook.
  • Office Lens lets you capture documents and whiteboards with ease using your phone. It even flattens the image (even if taken at an angle) so it’s easier to read, and makes the text searchable so you can find it later!”

 

 
OneNote

 

 

The press update also included the below information on the partnerships that add new digital note-taking functionality to OneNote:

 

 

 

 

 

To keep the new announcements going, yesterday Office announced Office for the iPad. Here are details on Office from iPad from the Office blog:

“you can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad from the App Store.  The apps have the robust capabilities and familiar look and feel that is unmistakably Office, while offering a fantastic touch experience built from the ground up for iPad.  With the free versions of the apps, you can read your Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Your documents will look as good as they do on your PC and Mac®, and better than ever on your iPad.  With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad. When you edit a document, you can be sure that content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone. And, you always have access to your up-to-date documents in OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.”

 

 

How does your family stay productive?

 

 

Disclosure: I am an Office Champion and have received sponsorship and products. This is NOT a paid post, it is a press update. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

Office 365 Anniversary: One Year, Lots of Productivity

*sponsored series

 

It has been one year since I went to NYC to celebrate the launch of Office 365 Home Premium and shared the key features in my post. Now Office 365 Home Premium has more than 3.5 million subscribers!

 

Felicity Huffman sharing her productivity tips with TechMama at the Office 365 Home Premium Launch.

Felicity Huffman sharing her productivity tips with TechMama at the Office 365 Home Premium Launch.

 

A single subscription to Office 365 Home Premium allows the use of Office on up to 5 PCs or Macs shared among all users in the home and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher. Upgrades are now automatic. Subscribers also have flexibility to change their 5 devices at any time. This subscription also includes 60 minutes of Skype world calling per month and 20 GB in the cloud storage site called OneDrive, formerly known as SkyDrive, in addition to the 7GB every Microsoft Account holder gets for free. Subscribers can stream full Office apps to any Internet-connected Windows 7 or 8 PC with Office on Demand. With Office Web apps you can view, create and edit Office files on virtually any device, enabling sharing and collaboration. Office 365 Home Premium applications allow the flexibility of writing, typing or using touch.

 

Tech For Modern Parenting

 

Since then, I’ve enjoyed incorporating many of these key features into my workflow. As the family technology manager, I am in charge of setting up new computers and tech devices. With the Office 365 Home Premium subscription, I just log into my Microsoft account and it installs Office 365 on new computers within our house.  Even if I am not at a computer that has Office 365, I can use Office on Demand to stream full Office apps to any device I am using.  I can also install it on a total of 5 mobile devices (including iPhone and Android), so it is easy to use on the go as well.  Office 365 has all of the tools needed for me to manage family projects and more!

 

The OneNote app on my mobile phone is a great tool to keep my notes, research and information organized on the go. I sync my OneNote app with OneDrive so I can have access to my OneNote notebooks across devices. We also store Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in OneDrive to have access across devices. This allows me to be productive on the go during open slivers of free time. As busy parents know, you need all the tools possible to utilize those free “slivers” of time to stay on track.

 

To start writing this post, I had one hour of free time while my kids were at their sports lesson and was disappointed I forgot my laptop. Then I realized that I had the OneNote app on my phone and started jotting down my key points. When I got home I opened my laptop and via OneDrive I accessed my OneNote notebook to finalize the post. I also use Word, PowerPoint and Excel for my work, and my kids use them for all types of homework assignments.

 

To truly test out the ease of using Office 365 Home Premium subscription, I went through the renewal process after a year. I received the notification to update my subscription, let the date pass by accident, then logged in and received a renewal note. It was as easy as going to the Office 365 Home Premium website to renewal under my Microsoft Account.  When I logged in again I was all set to access the Office suite on my 5 devices.  I also decided to set up auto renewal which would make renewing even easier!

 

Office 365 Home Premium (digital subscription) has made it easy to be productive with a big family like mine juggling two busy parents, three active boys and multiples of tech devices to keep track of! Now if I could only find an easier way to keep track of my boys.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am excited to be one of the Office Champions. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Tech Tour of Microsoft: Windows 8.1, One Note, 3D, Xbox One and More

 I previously shared the top 5 ways I use Microsoft Office 365 to #GetItDone and explained that I am excited to be an Office Champion. Last month fellow Champions and I had the opportunity to learn lots of new information at the Champions Summit up at the Microsoft Campus in Seattle. Here are some of the fun highlights and I will be sharing more during the coming months.

 

 

Here are a few of us getting ready to start the tour!!!

 

 

The features of Office 365 Home Premium, Windows 8 (8.1) and Windows devices enable me to be so productive. At the Champions Summit I  took notes using Microsoft OneNote,  which synced across my smartphone and Windows laptop via SkyDrive. I used a Windows Phone for pictures, SkyDrive to store them and OneNote, Word and PowerPoint to create my blog post. Best of all, I was able to embed my PowerPoint presentation showing the highlights of the event into this blog post via SkyDrive and the PowerPoint Web App:

Listed below is a summary of information covered at the Champions Summit. But there were so many great tidbits, that I will also be sharing more in future blog posts!

 

WINDOWS 8.1

 

We started with a demo of Windows 8.1, the news update to Windows. I have already updated the family desktop, but laptop was still running Winows 8. What I like about Windows 8 (now 8.1) is that no matter what Windows device I am logged into with my Microsoft account – I see my same “desktop” with my live tiles configured consistently. While Windows “tiles” are similar to what people know as “app” icons, they differ in that they are constantly updated with the most current information.

 

Windows 8.1 has many new and exciting features resulting in a fast and more fluid experience:

  • Swipe from the right to pull up the date and Windows charms.
  • Swipe from the left to see the other current apps/information open on your desktop, then drag the screen (app) next to another open screen (app) to create a  split screen. Then drag it down to close.
  • When you are in an app, swipe from the bottom to see additional functionality.
  • Pinch in and you can move around whole sections at same time.
  • Additional new  capabilities include the ability to customize groups of apps to sort by different categories and to purchase Microsoft app gift cards.
  • One more feature I enjoy using is the Bing Smart Search. My standard technical benchmark for search is to type “Ryan Gosling” and check if all the information I need is in one, easy to view location. Seriously, it’s a great topic to test the quality of Internet search.

 

The Microsoft website has lots of information about upgrading to Windows 8.1, including tutorials such as this post on upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8..1 My tip is before you do any upgrades make sure your Windows updates are current,  which is usually automatic.

 

ONE NOTE

 

 

Picture credit: Microsoft

Next, we discussed One Note, which is a note taking app used for jotting down ideas, information, adding pictures, audio, video, web – a true digital scrapbook. You can place things anywhere in a page. The concept is similar to a three ring binder with sections on top and pages underneath (you can create as many pages as you want). I use One Note for so many things, and for this conference I used One Note to organize my travel information and keep track of the day’s discussions. All notes were automatically synced via Skydrive to all of my devices.

 

One Note came in really handy when I decided to finally upgrade my laptop to Windows 8.1 during the conference. I was able to have the software upgrade running on my laptop and take notes on the smartphone One Note app – picking up exactly where I left off in my notes. Before, (comma inserted) I used to jot down some handwritten notes on paper notebooks and then type other notes. Unfortunately, it always seemed like I lost the notes or forgot the file name. Now, (comma inserted) with One Note, I have “notebooks” for different events with all of my notes, research and important information (such as travel information) filed and labeled appropriately. The search feature in One Note is also powerful enough to sort through all the text in my notes just in case I forget the location of specific information.

 

Here are some of the key features we discussed:

 

  • So Many Uses: Use OneNote for work, home, school projects or class notes, to-do’s, recipes, flight, hotel, schedule, documents, people, map and more. You can TAG info to be searchable. Or search by keyword in the search box. If you have recipe book with lots of recipes  – you can search for what is in your fridge and it will bring up recipes with those ingredients (i.e. spinach, chicken). Important documents such as a passport with the associated travel information can be kept in One Note and accessed anywhere in the world with an internet connection (via SkyDrive). One Note can be the place to store household paperwork to live a paperless life.
  • Digital Clipping: You can add screen clippings (insert tab), pictures from SkyDrive or locally, images found using Bing, scanned images and recorded audio and video. Choose “screen clipping”, go to internet page and then click and drag to drop clipping into a section. Put all your information in one place. If you just want to include reminder it will include a URL for reference so you can go back.
  • Storage: OneNote/ SkyDrive offers 7GB of content for free. Evernote limits to 60 MB per month for free. If you have Office 365 you have 20 GB plus the 7GB.
  • Co-Authoring and Sharing: With One Note you can have simultaneous co-authoring for free. Evernote Premimium does not support simultaneous edit. One Note Notebooks can be shared so that everyone can edit and view, seeing not only the changes but also who made them and even share with people who don’t have OneNote.
  • Online and Offline: No internet, no problem: Office access  offline is included for free. This is premium feature for Evernote.
  • Across devices and platforms: ” OneNote comes with Office 2010 and 2013, and Office 365 for PCs. OneNote is also available for free on the Web, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and as a Windows 8 application for tablets.” One Note also works with the rest of office, so I can even insert PowerPoint presentations or other Office documents and then annotate it!
  • Value Proposition: Office 365 Home Premium is $99 per year, and is a full suite of products, delivering a better value than Evernote Premium at the price of $45..

 

*NEW* ONE NOTE FEATURES

 

I really enjoyed the demo of the now announced update to the touch enabled One Note app in the Windows Store.  Here are some of the key details covered in the  One Note update announcement: “Capture it all: Capture your screen with the share charm and capture documents, magazines and whiteboards with camera scan, Browse and find your notes easier than ever: Search for text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition and find your notes faster than ever before with recent notes and page previews, Annotate and take your own notes on the things you’ve captured: Write better with ink and see your notes in full screen! “

 

With Windows 8.1 you can capture and send it to One Note using the “Share Charm” . It’s  exciting that I can use the camera in my touch enabled device to take a picture of the screen, documents, whiteboard or other important information and then “scan” it to One Note using the camera scan function. Here is a video:

 

 

Even better, after I use that camera scan feature (with a receipt for example) I can then use the text recognition capability to search text in One Note (and then find it later when I need it!).

 

Here is another video of the recognize and search text:

 

 

For more information, check out OneNote.com.

 

OFFICE 365 HOME PREMIUM

 

We also discussed what is included with Office 365 Home Premium and the top ten features.

Here’s some information from the press release fact sheet highlighting key features:

:

“Top 10 Features of Office 365 Home Premium:

  1. If you are reading, not writing or editing, click or tap View, then Read Mode in Word to hide the writing tools and menus.
  2. On your Windows device, re-open a document or presentation and keep reading right where you left off with Resume reading in Word and PowerPoint.
  3. Like a data assistant that finishes your work for you, Flash Fill in Excel detects what you want to do and enters the rest of your data in one fell swoop, following patterns in your data.
  4. Dress up your data with conditional formatting such as bars and color scales through the Quick Analysis Lens in Excel.
  5. Tired of trying to precisely match the colors of shapes and pictures in PowerPoint? Let Eyedropper in PowerPoint do the work for you.
  6. With an improved Presenter view in PowerPoint, the audience views your slides on a main screen, while you control the show on another screen that only you can see.
  7. Inline replies in Outlook allow you to reply with one click by typing your response right in the Reading Pane.
  8. Grab a quick glance at your schedule, an appointment or your to-do list with peeks in Outlook, without having to switch from email to calendar or other modes.
  9. If the sound of typing is distracting, you can handwrite notes in OneNote instead of typing them. This is also useful if you’re faster at writing than at typing.
  10. Instead of re-typing information or relying on links to documents, feel free to embed files in OneNote to keep them handy online or offline.”

 

 

MICROSOFT ENVISIONING CENTER

 

Next was a fascinating tour of the Microsoft Envisioning Center. We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but luckily there is information on the Microsoft Website about the Envisioning Center..

 

We were not allowed to bring our cameras, but luckily there is some information about this research center on the Microsoft Website.

All I can say – is that I want the kitchen of the future NOW… But really, everything covered in the Envisioning Center tour was the perfect match of technology, home and community working together in a much more efficient way than we do it now. Luckily, the future is not too far away.

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The new Envisioning Center explores how technology will transform the way we live, work and play in the future.
Envisioning Center – March 01, 2013. The new Envisioning Center explores how technology will transform the way we live, work and play in the future.

 

 

 

MICROSOFT’S 3D BUILDER APP

 

 

Then if I was not already excited enough about the technology in the Envisioning Center, we had a demo on 3D Printing and learned about the newly released Microsoft 3D Printing app. The Windows blog post explains more about the 3D Builder coming to Windows 8.1: “A few months ago, you may have heard that Windows 8.1 makes 3D printing possible because it is native to the operating system, meaning the OS offers plug-and-play support for printers, understands 3D file formats, and connects lots of apps with lots of hardware to deliver offering a seamless printing experience for customers. Now, with the 3D Builder app, we’ve made it even easier for people to create and print objects in 3D” .

 

What I find interesting is that while 3D printing used to seem like some sci-fi fantasy, now it is not only becoming more accessible with all types of 3D printers hitting the consumer market but is also includes 3D apps (such as Microsoft 3D Builder) that help design objects. With Microsoft partners such as 3D Systems, Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, MakerBot, netfabb, Materialise, Stratasys, Tiertime (PP3DP) and  even MakerBot at the Microsoft retail store – I am getting closer to soon seeing a 3D printer in our family workspace soon.  Of course I started thinking about all the cool things I could create with my kids. Especially after seeing this 3D printed version of a DNA. Now that would be a science project my boys could be extra proud to bring to school!

 

 

Our last stop was techie heaven for me, located in a conference area that had selection of Microsoft Devices to demo.  The tour included a product and technical deep dive into the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, which packs many features making them very productive tablets.

 

 

We also had *drumroll* a demo of the Xbox One that just became available to the public. While I have not given one a test drive just yet, it is tops on our list, especially for our Xbox gamer sons! I can’t wait to play with the new capabilities of the  Xbox One, especially the advanced voice and gesture commands, entertainment options and innovative features that will really make it an all-in-one device.

 

 

What new technology are you looking forward to trying (or just started using)?

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.