Category: Tech CMP-Style

If an amazing storybook married a computer this would be their love child

I know a lot of parents aren’t into letting their kids play on the computer when they’re younger, but I have to confess I believe using computers is an incredibly effective way to teach children everything from colors to calculus. For better, or worse, our kids live in a electronics culture, and if you choose wisely your kids can really benefit from the range of products out there.  Made In Me was founded by a Dad to both educate and to help his children think creatively. I recently downloaded the free software and was blown away by what I...

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As close to being Harry Potter we’ll ever get

My children would give just about anything to apparate inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. The early reviews (and word from CMP Editor Liz who worked with Universal early on in the development) make it look so cool, it almost makes me want to brave the crowds. But alas, we are mere muggles and need things like vacation time and money, not magic, to get us there. Until we gather enough knuts for the trip, we have a new game that will make the waiting a little more fun. The cool new LEGO Harry...

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Technology is getting smaller; your chance of winning some, kind of big.

In case you missed it, you’ve still got until tomorrow, Sunday, to enter to win the super fabulous new HP Mini 210 netbook and the utterly adorable HP V5040u Camcorder. No, seriously. You can win both of them. Would we kid? (Well, maybe. But not about this.) For all the details, check our original post. And don’t forget, if you’re a Blogher conference goer this weekend, you’ve got one extra chance to...

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One thing that gets smaller on a mom – her technology

I love small things. I do. Crazy about little things. So when HP offered up the new HP Mini 210 and the utterly adorable HP V5040u Camcorder to review, we leaped at the chance to see if they were as fabulous as they looked. The answer: Yes! The purse-sized HP Mini 210 is drool-worthy in colors including Preppy Pink and Pacific Blue.  This is the perfect PC for moms on the go like me, small enough that you can pop it into an average sized purse or even your diaper bag. (Just keep away from leaky sippy cups!)  It...

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Collage on the quick at Photovisi

It was a mystery. Suddenly, they were popping up all over Facebook. And now I know where everyone created those adorable collages of their kids. The website is called Photovisi, but I think of it as “Photocollages for Dummies”– definitely including myself in the category. It’s so easy, my grandmother could do it. And you don’t have to download any software or commit to a name-brand photo site–two of my pet peeves–because the photos come straight from your computer. You simply select from over 20 templates, choose to add photos from your computer or from a webcam, and add...

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Like an audio scrapbook of awesomeness

Ever been the person in charge of a group gift, and discovered that special circle of purgatory that involves trying to contact large numbers of people and keep track of who’s done what and who still needs to contribute? Yeah. Not fun. And then there’s the icing on the cake, which is deciding whose names to put on the finished product even if not everyone participated. Well, SpeakSake offers a unique and very personal way to make a gift for one from many say, for a retiring teacher, Grandma’s 90th birthday, or a great germ-free way for everyone to...

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Free books from Borders. Yes, free.

They say you don’t get something for nothing but today, that’s not quite the case. Because Borders Books has got a special deal going right now when you download one of the Borders eReader apps, which are also free.  Downloads are for both Mac and PC, plus BlackBerry, Android, iPhone and iPads so you pretty much have no excuse not to try it out–unless you’re like our associate editor Delilah who’s using duct tape and bubble gum to hold together her relic of a cell phone. And the books aren’t bad either – while you won’t quite get the...

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Finally, the digital camera that makes your kids smile.

Getting my four year old daughter to smile for the camera is harder than you can imagine. She doesn’t like sitting still, much less actually looking at the camera and posing for a picture. Sound familiar? That’s why I was so happy to get the chance to check out the Samsung TL205 DualView Camera. This is a nice, slim point-and-shoot camera that offers something I haven’t seen on any other camera — an LCD display on the front. Yes, the front. This front LCD display is activated separately from the one on the back, and simply turning it on...

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A new app that teaches kids Chinese? Xie Xie! (Thank you!)

Yesterday my son had a playdate with a little Chinese girl, coincidentally the same day I downloaded Chinese for Munchkins to my iPhone. The amazed look on her face when I asked them if they had seen a hóu zi or a lóng (a monkey or a dragon) at school was priceless. The look on my son’s face was decidedly more, Woman, what are you doing!? Stop being a dork! Chinese for Munchkins is an adorable app to teach words for animals and numbers to kids, or frankly anyone who wants to learn a little bit about a language...

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Congratulations! You now have $170k in college loan debt and a Flip Cam

If you’re still scrounging for a cool graduation gift for the high school/college set, the new line of graduation themed Class of 2010 Flip Cams are so clever. The Year of the Tiger skin would have been awesome back when I graduated high school (go MHS Tigers!) but I think my favorite is El Diablo Graduated, shown here. But definitely look beyond the grad category, for designs that pack the conceptual punch you’re looking for, like a simply happy face emoticon. They start at $199 like all Flip Cams. The advice from you to be careful uploading drunken post-grad...

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It’s true, fish really is brain food

So it’s become pretty clear that iPhone apps can be God’s technological gift to parents wanting to avoid toddler meltdowns in restaurants and pediatrician offices. Some of my favorite apps for the younger set come courtesy of Duck Duck Moose, which is slowly taking over the “educational app” category with their graphically clever learning games. When your 2-4 year old is ready to take those Sesame Street concepts a little further, they’ll love Fish School which uses funny little fishies, humorous sound effects, positive reinforcement, and an incredibly simple interface to help teach letters, numbers, shapes and more. The...

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Bugaboo + iPhone = Conspicuous consumerism at its most practical

When I found out Bugaboo had come out with an iPhone holder accessory my first thought was to roll my eyes. What, we can’t stand the idea of being out of reach of our precious phones for the time it takes to fish it out of our jacket pockets in the park? But then I realized, wait, phones aren’t just phones anymore – they’re our MP3 players, our cameras, our maps, our breastfeeding trackers, and even our public bathroom with a changing table finders. So yeah, maybe an iPhone holder for that Chameleon handle is a fine idea after...

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Yep, they can hear you now

I gave up on my Bluetooth headset for my mobile phone a while back; I was always forgetting to charge it, and on the rare occasions when I didn’t, I had trouble getting it to stay in my ear, and the sound quality was terrible. So despite all the hype about Jawbone’s new line of ICON headsets for mobile phones — which, I have to admit, are pretty cool-looking, with an option to suit just about any style — I wasn’t sure I’d actually, you know, use it. This is one of those occasions when I’m delighted to have...

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Mother’s Day is about making your mom cry, right? In a good way?

If you are lucky enough to not only be a mom, but still have a mom around to guide you through your turbulent mothering moments (or in my mom’s case, laugh at me), then you probably have witnessed the power that the perfect picture of your children has over her. She tears up, she awws, she gets that it really was worth raising this daughter of mine now that she’s given me these adorable babies to fuss over look of satisfaction. I put my mother over the top recently with a mini photo book, new from self-publishing mavens Lulu.com....

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The digital clutch is the new designer purse

I am a pretty practical mom who would rather carry my stuff in a classic black handbag over my shoulder that I can use for years, but that doesn’t stop me from adoring the stylish digital clutch netbooks that are starting to crop up in the tech world. Designer Vivienne Tam partnered with HP to bring a little high fashion to high tech with the HP Mini Vivienne Tam edition Notebook that is so gorgeous, it was literally introduced on the runways. It enables me to stay connected on the go, not miss a moment of drama on my...

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Hipstamatic – A photography blast from the past

I’m far from a photography expert, and admittedly, the only camera I use anymore is my iPhone.  While every now and then I get a great picture with it, I often feel bad that the only pictures of my kids are taken with the sub-par quality of a camera phone. That is, until I discovered Hipstamatic. I first stumbled upon it while perusing uber mom-blog Dooce, and admired Heather Armstrong’s photos thinking they were taken with some fancy pants camera. But then when I found out it was an iPhone application, I definitely had to check it out. This...

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Practicing safe electronics

My beloved new MacBook is now as much a part of my kitchen table as the napkin stand but, in such a high-traffic spot, my laptop is in constant danger of a small person dribbling a juice box over the keys. Instead of constantly playing defense, I now use protection with iSkin.    Despite its brand name — second only to the iPad in its unfortunate mental imagery — iSkin makes a smart ProTouch Keyboard Protector that should make computer-loving moms jump for joy. This thin silicone covering lays across a laptop’s keys, with raised key for easier typing and...

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An iPhone application you can’t turn your nose up at

Of all the iPhone apps we’ve reviewed lately, this one is definitely giving us the biggest chuckle: Virtual Nose Job: Children’s Edition. It’s the brainchild of a top Palm Beach plastic surgeon, who realized that when his patients’ daughters hit about six or seven, they often notice that their mommies have different, more appealing noses, which can lead to serious self-esteem problems. The application was designed to offer hope that their noses can in fact be changed. Sometimes earlier than you think. The interface is easy for even a young child to use all on her own – just...

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Lego my jpg-o

I am still in the lowly iPhone-less margins of society, although I’m fortunate to have plenty of friends who show me all the coolest new apps I’m missing. Take the free LEGO Photo app, for instance: It will take a regular .jpg photo and turn it into a mosaic of Lego bricks. Hold it up, show it to everyone around you, rinse, repeat. My brother-in-law even figured out how to print out LEGO-fied pictures of my three kids. Up close, they don’t look like much, but back up a bit and the photo comes into view and looks pretty...

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Make your picture worth more than a thousand words

It’s all well and good when I shoot a picture or two off to my parents from my phone while the kids are at an event, but then sometimes I forget (or don’t have time) to type in a complete explanation. Later, my dad calls me up and says, That was great, but what the heck was it? But now that I can either visit the free Fotobabble photosharing website or load up the Fotobabble iPhone app, I’ve got everything I need to make sure that each picture can tell its story. Just load in a picture, record a...

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Oh, The Pictures You’ll Take!

My daughter loves Dr. Seuss. She also loves the camera on my iPhone. Put these together and you have a four year old in Seussian snap happy heaven, and a mother who can’t check her e-mail or play Words With Friends when her kid is around. The Dr. Seuss Camera, Cat In The Hat Edition employs the same structure as the previous Grinch incarnation that was released before the holidays and, yes, was entirely addictive and ensured that all of our virtual Christmas cards were Grinch-themed. It’s so simple that a four year old can mash up your iPhone...

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Want Your Enfant To Passez La Baguette? There’s An App For That

I have this fantasy of one day living in Paris, in some old, sunwashed apartment on one of the old arrondissements. Trouble is, although I read French – a hangover from graduate studies – I don’t speak much of it, and what little of it I do speak is sloppily Canadian. If I’m going to live there, I’m going to need a translator, which is why I enrolled my daughter in French immersion kindergarten. It’s also why I downloaded the Little Pim language learning application for my iPhone. My daughter loves playing games on my phone, especially word-based games,...

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An app that makes living in NYC even cooler, if that’s possible

Ironically, in a city that seems to have more of everything, any NYC parent or visiting tourist will tell your horror stories of being unable to find a changing table or a way to get from the uptown subway platform to the crosstown one without dragging a sleeping toddler down a flight of crowded stairs. Well, you guessed it, there’s an app for that. iKidNY is an incredibly comprehensive, interactive database of not just where to find baby-ready bathrooms and subways with elevators, but, by using Google Maps, it can help you locate indoor and outdoor activities, nearby playgrounds...

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iPlay’n Learn – They should’ve named it iDistract’n Calm

A few weeks ago I had some friends over to the house, and one of them brought her three-year-old, who immediately commenced leaping around on the furniture like a chimp on crack. Given that my children are past that phase (or can be reigned in with a simple, Knock it off!), I began to fret about his safety — and my upholstery — a bit. But then, a miracle occurred: My friend whipped out her iPhone and handed it to her tot, and for the next twenty minutes he happily busied himself with iPlay’n Learn, a new app from...

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Trusting your teen? There’s an app for that!

It seems impossible to me that I’ll one day have a teen or two whom I’ll allow to roam the world somewhat freely, but the truth is that teenagerhood will be entering my house very, very soon. Hold me. Vanessa Van Petten has been helping parents communicate with their teens since she herself was one, and it’s no surprise that iCurfew comes from her excellent resource site for parents from a kid’s POV, Radical Parenting. iCurfew is the best of all possible worlds; it allows teens to check in with parents easily (a couple of clicks and your location...

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The perfect little gift for the tween who has everything. (And don’t they all?)

Got a tween girl on your list this year? I don’t, I confess. But if I did, I totally know what I’d get her. (See, isn’t that always the way? Now if only I could trade this great tween gift idea with someone who knows the perfect thing for a 62-year-old man, my holiday shopping would be taken care of.) My own gift-giving woes aside, these little Ladybug Earbuds at The Conran Shop are so cute I could eat them. They’re compatible with any 3.5 mm headphone socket so her iPod touch, MP3, computer and whatever else she can...

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A new iPhone App that even the Grinch would love

I have to admit I’m a bit of an iPhone app addict, but even though the number of smart phone apps are growing into the hundreds of thousands I generally think that there are only a dozen or two that are worthwhile. The Dr. Seuss Camera–Grinch Edition iPhone app is totally one of those. Select a card and use your built in camera to add yourself, or loved one to the picture. It’s incredibly fun and easy. My son instantly became The Grinch and my husband the put-upon pup, Max. Then you can choose a funky “Seussian” border treatment...

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iPhone cases for the terminally hip

I could count the many ways in which I am completely obsessed with Threadless, the original crowdsourcing art-to-product site, but who has that kind of time? Suffice it to say that the whole family enjoys their t-shirts, and I dream of rooms festooned with their Blik decals. But with this, their latest, my life may just be complete–Threadless has teamed up with Griffin to make cool iPhone cases. Catch me; I’m swooning. Now sadly, they don’t fit my geriatric first-generation iPhone, but for you 3G and beyond folks, have at it. So far you can choose from either Clouds...

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XBox 360 makes holidays more fun for everyone. Including those who need it most.

Deep down, I’m a 13 year-old boy with a thing for video games, as any of my friends who have ever seen my “drum face” when playing Rock Band will tell you. So I am totally coveting the new Microsoft Xbox 360 which I had a chance to try out at the recent launch of Beatles: Rock Band–although all too briefly. Now of course the Beatles game – well, it rocks. It’s as beautiful as everything you’ve read says it is, and the attention to detail in the recordings is spectacular. You can even get more friends or family...

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A new iPhone app that will make your kids beg for a long check out line at the supermarket

It seems like App-mania is sweeping the nation and our neighbors to the north are responsible for a fantastic new one called NFB Film, as in National Film Board of Canada. Best of all, it’s free. The NFB App is packed with channels of easy to download, Canadian-made short movies and documentaries including an amazing channel of kids’ cartoons. They’re mostly only a few minutes long, and honestly how long is a 6-year-old’s attention span? You can even pre-load and store a bunch of material to distract your kids for a less rushed meal, to make a long wait...

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