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Using TomTom GO GPS to #GetHomeFaster

Disclosure: Sponsored post

 

The combination of being a busy mom driving my kids around with visiting clients and going to press events in San Francisco mean that I spend lots of time driving in my car.  When I drive across town with all of the traffic in Silicon Valley it can sometimes take as long as it does to drive to San Francisco (one hour)! With traffic it can be even a much longer commute (2 hours or more). Additional traffic challenges can happen due to holiday traffic, like the rush to head to the beach, parks or vacation areas this weekend for July 4th. The map apps on my phone don’t always work and at times have caused me major traffic issues. When TomTom (innovators in navigation technology) contacted me to about the new TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS, I was excited to not only give it a try but also learn more from their press information.

 

TomTom GO Portable GPS #GetHomeFaster

 

First I set out to learn more about the TomTom GO Portable GPS Device from the press documentation:

 

TomTom GO Portable Vehicle GPS has been redesigned with real time TomTom Traffic, alternate routes pinpoint exactly where delays start and end so you know fastest route, 3D Maps that show building, Speak & Go to control device with your voice, and landmarks and interactive maps that allow you to zoom in and out to explore the map with your fingertips. TomTom has one of the world’s largest databases, covering 99.9% of the roads, with real-time traffic intelligence with the most up-to-date, accurate information on traffic anytime, anywhere so you can truly get to your destination faster. Routes can be planned ahead with the new MyDrive technology to be ready to hit the road as soon as she gets in the car. The TomTom Go is the only navigation device which allows you to start navigating in two taps and has “Jam Ahead” warning for traffic incidents”.

 

 

TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS

Photo Credit: TomTom

 

 

Then I wanted to learn how it works:

 

“TomTom Traffic crowd-sources real time data from over 150 million vehicles and devices in the US. Their process combines community probe data with many other trusted sources to create accurate traffic data.  This data can pinpoint where delays start and end, how long delays will last and how fast traffic is moving.  TomTom chooses the fastest route through traffic because it knows the traffic conditions on all roads. Every pixel of the screen is utilized to provide rich map that distinguishes between primary, secondary and tertiary roads.  Every icon on the map is interactive

 

The TomTom GO 500 has GPS receiver chips that looks for satellites in the air. Once it finds 4 satellites it triangulates the location. The TomTom comes with preloaded maps that has details such as speed limits etc and Route IQ that incorporates historical data.  If you are driving in an area that does not have cellular service, TomTom can still give you directions because it uses satellite information and the downloaded maps that are updated 4 times a year. All of the GO products include lifetime map updates. The downloaded maps, combined with the real time map updates from the TomTom MyDrive app, provide fully accurate traffic information.  The MyDrive app is available on iOS and Android.

 

The press release also shared what’s new and the features of the TomTom Go 500 (or 600):

 

What’s New:

 

  • Lifetime “real-time” TomTom Traffic (Click here to view TomTom’s live traffic portal)
  • 3D Maps
  • Pinch to Zoom Interactive Map
  • Tap & Go to instantly get a route
  • Quick search to find destinations
  • My Places to see your favorite locations on the map
  • Route Bar for essential traffic and travel information
  • Speak & Go to control device with sound of your voice.

 

 

TomTom GO 500 TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS

Photo Credit: TomTom

 

Features:

 

  • 5” (GO 500) or 6” (GO 600) Capacitive Touch Screen
  • Pre-installed with map of US, CAN & MEX
  • Lifetime map updates
  • Free daily map changes from the TomTom map share community
  • Advanced Lane Guidance
  • Spoken Street Names
  • Click & Go Mount
  • IQ Routes
  • Quick GPSfix

 

In the box with either the TomTom GO 500 or 600 is click & go mount, adhesive disk, car charger, USB cable for computer and quick start guide.

 

The screen has a Route Bar on both sides which shows lots of information in one place. The Route Bar shows estimated time of arrival, distance to destination, delay in current route, upcoming speed limits, road work, speed camera alert, traffic on route and speed and distance to next event. The screen also shows parking with “P” icon. When in San Francisco and busy areas, showing parking on the map is essential for finding parking near destinations. There are even notifications about speed limits and when you are going over them.

 

There is a free TomTom GO MyDrive mobile app – connects to smartphone via bluetooth. Note: your smartphone must be compatible, and include a data plan. Extra costs may apply. For more information, visit TomTom.com/Connect.

 

When you first turn on the device it will ask you if you want to set up MyDrive. To do that you plug the TomTom GO it into your computer. MyDrive checks server then downloads maps through Internet to PC and then to device. When you get into your car the first time (before you start driving), just turn on Bluetooth on your smartphone (set to discoverability). Then log into the MyDrive app with the same credentials you use for online.

 

From your computer you can type address on MyDrive and it will send to your device which connects to phone and syncs up to cloud platform. The cloud sync also takes all favorite addresses and backs them up. If you had to reset device you have favorites online.

 

The 500/600 has microphone and voice control (Speak & Go).  You can speak an address (such as “Go Home” and even set your own wakeup word out of the box (Hello Tom Tom, Go home”). Voice commands can also change brightness, settings and wakeup words.

 

The voice prompts provides audio reminders when close to exiting such as “exit in 2 miles, get in right lane”. If you have multiple turns in a row the voice prompt will keep speaking to you “say right” “stay left” – both visually and audio.  Backroads are different – it depends on class on the road.  Another key feature is that you can use your phone and still get voice navigation. If you have a conference call then you won’t need to worry about navigation speaking over the call.

 

TomTom shared information to confirm how much parents drive their kids around: “A 2013 study said that the average mom drives her children around for 1,248 miles per year, or the equivalent of two weeks “.  Saving any time on the road is an important issue!

 

 

***GIVEAWAY****

 

How much time do you spend on the road and what would you do with the time you would have not stuck in traffic? Do you live in the any of the Top Most Congested Areas below? Sadly, I live in the second most congested city area (San Francisco Bay Area)!   Share your thoughts for a chance to win a TomTom GO 500/600. To win, enter below on Rafflecopter. Contest will run from July 1, 3pm PST to July 6, 3pm PST.

*Giveaway is over and winner has been notified.
TOP MOST CONGESTED CITIES

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Francisco
  3. Honolulu
  4. New York
  5. Seattle
  6. San Jose
  7. Miami
  8. Chicago
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Portland, Washington

Check out TomTom on Facebook and TomTom on Twitter.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. Products were supplied for review purposes.

 

 

 

How To: Mobile Photo Printing and MyPrintly.com Photo Crafts

I have always open about the dichotomy of being equally tech savvy and craft challenged. Even looking at the beautiful crafts on Pinterest makes me hyper ventilate..When I took the time to understand what caused my advanced state of craft issues, I realized that I just need simple steps to follow. Of course, when those steps involve technology that helps automate some steps, even better! When I was asked by MyPrintly.com (disclosure: my client) to create some videos with steps on how to use the HP Envy Printer to print from iOS and Android mobile devices, I jumped at the chance. Not only would I get the opportunity to do what I love (figuring out how to use technology) but also give myself the challenge of using the technology to do crafts..

 

Photo Crafts MyPrintly.com and Mobile Printing HP Printer

 

Well, not only did it help me start enjoying the art of crafting – but I can’t wait to create more photo crafts (I can’t believe I said that)..  

 

Below are video’s that show how to print from an iOS and Android device to an HP Printer  I used this amazing videographer and editor (my son Ben Blecherman). The videos include the steps we did to create our own version of the Photo Balloon Party Decoration craft I found on MyPrintly.com.

 

Step 1: Get Supplies:

MyPrintly.com Photo CraftsTo gather supplies I went to my local party supply store for balloons, a fun weight for the balloons (I picked a blue metallic party box style) and place card holder that I could put into the balloon weight. It does not really matter what the bottom looks like because it will be placed in the balloon weight.  I could only find heart place card holders in the wedding area of my supply shop, so I used them. Bigger party stores and online party sites may have basic place card holders that you can buy in packs of 6 or 12 at a time (to save money).  We made sure the balloon ribbons where long enough to also tape pictures onto the strings. The last supply was HP 4×6 Photo paper that we found at our local office supply store (but that can also be ordered online).

 

 

 

Step 2: Print Photos and Assemble Photo Craft:
 
I used the wireless features of my HP Envy Printer and my smartphone to send photos to the printer. Then we just placed the photos in the place card holder and taped photos the ribbons of the balloon.  Printing from my mobile phone saved time and enabled me to have more flexibility on the location of where I was printing. The video’s below show how to do the photo craft and mobile printing from an iOS or Android phone.  There is also a guest surprise appearance from our lovable Henry the Hamster.. Of course, he was the star of the show!

 

Mobile Printing with Harry the Hamster TechMamas.com

 

How To: Mobile Printing from iOS Device to HP Printer

 

 

 

How To: Mobile Printing from Android Device to HP Printer

 
 

 

What photo crafts do you want to try?

 

For more photo craft ideas check out MyPrintly.com   Here is the link to the for Photo Balloon Party Decoration craft found on MyPrintly.com.

 

Disclosure: MyPrintly sponsored the videos. Products were supplied for video production. This post is NOT sponsored, I am just sharing the crafting fun….

 

 

 

Device Theft Recovery Solutions: Absolute Software

*Disclosure: Sponsored post

 

smartphone laptop theftSecurity of data and computer devices is one of the most important technology issues for families. One example that I have been exploring for some time now is technology that allows you to locate your phone after it has been lost or stolen. “Find my phone” apps are very handy to find a misplaced device in your house but not as effective a solution when it comes to theft. I read stories of people tracking down their own stolen devices, with some ambitious folks even some showing up at the thief’s house, a very dangerous plan.

 

 

Device theft continues to become more frequent, with regular stories in the news and social media of phones being stolen in public places or just grabbed out of people’s hands while they walk down the street. Thieves can now easily wipe smartphones clean and then sell them on the black market. More valuable than the phone itself is the personal data stored on our phones, especially now that many people use their devices for online payment and banking.

 

 

Smartphone Security InfoGraphic

 

 

That is why why I jumped at the chance to work with Absolute Software (disclosure *sponsored campaign*) and learn more about their device theft recovery solutions. The first step was receiving some press information about the solutions (which I shared below).  Absolute Software solutions enable device location tracking, locking it against unauthorized users and permanently erasing files from remote locations. The two product names are called Absolute Data Protect and Absolute LoJack.

 

Here’s some product information I summarized from the website and from press briefings:

 

Absolute Data Protect Product Features:

 

Locate

Locate your device (laptops, phones, and tablets) using GPS, Wi-Fi or IP geolocation giving you the tools to see the last location in the event that it goes missing.

 

Lock

Device Lock prevents anyone from accessing your personal information on laptops, phones, and tablets. You can also add a customized message to your device lock screen.

 

Delete

Activating the delete feature permanently erases files protecting your personal information and preventing identity theft.

 

Absolute LoJack product features:

 

Absolute LoJack Locates, Locks & Deletes then also offers recovery and guarantee:

Absolute LoJack

 

 

Recovery:

 

When a device is reported stolen, first to law enforcement and then on the user’s account (https://my.absolute.com/),  Absolute’s Investigation Team springs into action building a case and then presenting it to law enforcement. The Theft teams knows who to talk with in regards to Law Enforcement so it takes the pressure of of individuals trying to navigate the process on their own while also dealing with the emotions behind the loss. The website explained: “Absolute’s Investigations team is the only one of its kind in the security software industry. More than 30,000 stolen devices in 100 countries have been recovered through the efforts of the Investigations team and in conjunction with law enforcement worldwide. The team consists of former military servicemen, government intelligence personnel and law enforcement officers. They’re experts in Internet investigations, computer forensics and cyber-crime and are highly experienced in device tracking and recovery.

 

Guarantee:

 

Absolute LoJack also has a Service Guarantee to help pay for a replacement.

 

Here are some recovery stories: http://lojack.absolute.com/en/investigations-team/recovery-stories

 

Note: Theft reporting and recovery services are not available for the Absolute Data Protect product

 

 

System Requirements:

 

The Absolute LoJack website has a listing of current system PC/Mac and mobile system requirements.

 

Absolute persistence technology:

 

Devices that have Absolute persistance technology enabled get an extra level of security.  The website explained that “Absolute persistence technology is built into the BIOS or firmware of a device during the manufacturing process.” Once activated, customers who purchase these devices benefit from that extra level of security which wipes data from devices to factory settings and offers the ability to display message (this is a stolen computer). It even deletes down to file level.

 

 

To really understand what it would be like to go without my device and valuable data, I am taking the Absolute LoJack #DigitallyDark Challenge tomorrow (6/15 from 10am to 10pm!) and go without my devices (shriek of terror!).  Then when I am back online I will talk about what it was like to be without my devices. Even though many people backup their phone and computer data in the cloud, it’s still a big disruption to have your device stolen and I anticipate a very unsettling but educational day tomorrow.

 

 

What do you think about the dangers of device theft?

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Must Have Mobile Tech: AT&T Unite Pro

 *sponsored series

 

Must Have Mobile TechAs I checked into Treasure Island for CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2014, I was excited to have found a reasonably priced hotel in a central location. I was sharing my room with an east-coast blogger friend and looking forward to seeing her and other tech press friends. One benefit of Treasure Island is the optional “resort fee”, an extra added to the hotel bill which covers internet, health club use, morning newspaper and other amenities. This is great for those like me taking a business trip on a budget.

 

 

However, I was interested in paying for daily in-room Internet access. When they told me it was “20 dollars PER DAY” I was so excited to say “no thank-you” because I remembered I had my new AT&T Unite Pro mobile WiFi device with me. Considering that I would be staying at the hotel for 5 days, I saved $100 on the spot.

 

 

Working with NETGEAR (disclosure) to share information about the new AT&T Unite Pro was great because mobile WiFi is an important tool for my busy lifestyle.  The more time I spend with my own mobile WiFi, the more I realize how it frees me to work on the go no matter where I am. As a busy working parent who also travels, working on the go is essential to being productive each day.

 

My CES roommate was excited to share my mobile WiFi and not pay the daily $20 internet fee! In addition to the security benefit of using our own WiFi, it was great to know we had a reliable WiFi connection to complete our work at the hotel.  I was able to take the device with me to use on the go during the conference; this is a great benefit because I store most of my documents and media in the cloud.  With the AT&T Unite Pro BatteryBoost feature, I was also able to keep my smartphone charged, enabling me to keep my social media updates flowing to my fans without the dreaded “phone dead” syndrome some of my other tech press friends experienced.

 

 

The AT&T Unite Pro is an update from the AT&T Unite which I covered in my first blog post. Here are some of the key features of the AT&T Unite Pro:

 

AT&T Unite Pro

AT&T Unite Pro

 

 

  • Up to 16 hours of battery (all day!)
  • Internet access for up to 15 devices.
  • 2.4  inch Intuitive Touchscreen with keyboard.
  • Password protection and guest WiFi.
  • Advanced  LTE support. First mobile hotspot to offer Dual-Band WiFi which lets you maximize speed and reliability of your data connection.
  • Internationally compatible.
  • BatteryBoost: BatteryBoost lets you share the AT&T Unite Pro’s powerful battery to keep your smartphone going. Just plug-in the special boosting cable provided and connect your smartphone charging cord.

 

Having mobile WiFi also enables me to share connectivity with my kids so they can do homework on the go and reach their productivity goals each day.  In fact, when my teen brought the AT&T Unite Mobile WiFi to his study group, he realized that having a mobile WiFi that offered access to his friend’s devices saved the day by enabling everyone in the group to get their online research done. This also allows me to help one of my twin sons finish a class project while the other twin is at baseball practice. This reduces the logistical difficulty when my twins participate in different sports. Who knew that a mobile WiFi device would help support my twin’s transition into independent paths in life!

 

Pricing and availability:

The AT&T Unite Pro is $49.99 with a 2 year contract and AT&T offers other Unite models from $1 to $99.  There are several flexible and affordable monthly data plans as well.  Any of the Unite products can be added to an AT&T Mobile Share plan for only $20 a month.  Or if you want a stand alone plan, there is a $50 for 5GB monthly option available.  Visit www.att.com/data  for more information.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.

 

Check out the full line of AT&T Unite mobile hotspots from NETGEAR, including Unite Pro, Unite and Unite prepaid, at www.att.com/unitepro or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at WiFiFamily.