Category Archives: Tech Stuff

Driver-Mom Lifesavers: CDR King Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad

So, Basti started school yesterday. It’s still the adjustment period, so the class is still shortened to about an hour before going full schedule into 3 hours a day, which won’t happen till a couple of weeks from now. He was fine in the beginning, and I was happily making chika with my co-parents outside the classroom when I heard a child go, “Mamaaaaaaaaa!” And oh yes, it was mine.

But even with the shortened schedule, I already had an inkling of what my life will be like for the next 10 months. It will be an everyday trek and an everyday 3-hour wait for Basti. I already scouted the area for things I can do to spend the time: facials, mani-pedis, restaurants, supermarket, banks, gyms. But we’re talking 5 days a week here. I will eventually run out of things to do, not to mention how expensive it will be if that’s all I’ll do.

So hey, I thought, I could just spend the time blogging. I will pull a Samantha Sotto and use the time waiting to write. No, I’m not aiming to be the next great novelist. I just want to blog more, which is something I’ve been promising myself I’d do in the past few months. (A resolve which I am taking care of – do you guys notice I’ve been trying to post more often?) But here’s the dilemma – I am not a laptop user. Not only that, I am a Mac-only user. So, ibig sabihin kailangan Macbook Air pa talaga ang bibilin ko diba? #siraanngwallet

I do have an iPad, but I’m the type who can’t write without a keyboard. Well, a side trip to CDR King yesterday solved my problem.

O diba? Problem solved. Blogging continues. This is a Bluetooth keyboard and power bank in one. You can even charge your cellphone! Laptop ang effect! Win na win! This will do until I get megabucks to buy myself a Macbook Air. As to the matter of how long it will last, we shall see. For the cost, I’m willing to give it a chance.

Want one? The CDR King Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad at any CDR-King branch for PhP 1,880.00.

Nostalgia Time: Full Circle

Now allow me to tell you a story of me and my first “baby.”

Once upon a time, I had a little girl named Faith. This is her:

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Check out my firewire-connected vintage iPod, y’all. My desktop wallpaper is a poster of Alias, the TV show. I loved Alias so much back then that my username on PhilMUG is “freelancer”, which is one of Sydney Bristow’s codenames. People thought it was because I was a freelancer. Which I was. But that’s not the point.

After a couple of years, I got Layla and I sold Faith to my friend Monica. This is them turning over files to each other.

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Before you think I’m crazy, any die-hard Mac user will tell you going sentimental over their Apple products is perfectly normal. You’re the weird one if you don’t think so.

Since Faith I’ve had 2 more iBooks and 2 iMacs. This was the one I lost to Ondoy. Sigh.

New baby
My iMac now is a heaven-sent gift from my very wise choice of a Twitter name in 2006 that paid off in 2009. I’ll tell you that story in private if you’re curious because I heard that what happened for me to get that expected windfall is, apparently, not allowed anymore.

Years and years later, this arrives on my doorstep.

My baby came back home! Monica upgraded her Mac years ago but never sold Faith. The good friend she is, she thought it would be nice to just send her back to her original owner.

Thank you Monica for returning her. You and I will be the only ones who know the meaning of Faith coming back home to me. She’s old and practically useless, but she’ll always be my first baby. It’s good to have her back home.

Internet for the (Little) People: The Cisco Linksys E1000 Router

I don’t know about you guys, but for my household, an internet connection is not a luxury, but a necessity. Almost everything is done online these days. Twitter is my newsfeed, email is my preferred mode of communication, and people who know me can attest to the fact that it’s easier to get in touch with through chat than a regular text message. When WiFi was invented, I thought I was going to cry.

But with the availability of information at your fingertips also come the dangers. It has become way too easy to access anything online, and that includes stuff you don’t really want your kids to see.

So it was with eagerness that I received an invitation to test and review the Cisco Linksys E1000 Router. Marketed specifically to the home-user, it boasts ease-of-use and parental controls, making it a supposedly friendly choice for even the not-so-techie mom. (There’s a bit of a goodie after the review, so scroll down!)

At this point of my internet life, I’ve begun to say, “a router is a router is a router”. I have a regular household that doesn’t require anything special from a router except that it sufficiently supplies internet in every corner I want it in my house. Having said that, I have to admit, the Linksys E1000 had a few nifty features. So here’s what I liked.

  • I have a problem with my CD-Drive, so I couldn’t install the software from the included disc. I had to find my way to the Linksys support page and download the software from there. It was SO EASY, unlike a certain brand’s technical support page that gave me headaches just to look for the correct drivers. The entire process was a dropdown-box-and-a-click.
  • Once you’ve got the Cisco Connect software installed, set up is a breeze. Other routers would require you to log-in to the setup page by entering the IP address on the browser toolbar – a set of numbers I always never remember right. With Cisco Connect, all you need is to fire it up and you’re there. It’s quite easy and breezy.

Click on Router Settings, and it opens up into this window, where you can set up your router’s name, password and even do a speed test. There’s also an option to go to the more advanced settings, if you’re the type to go crazy on DNS settings and all that. (I must confess I do)
  • Feature I Love: Guest Access. There’s nothing I hate more than WiFi leechers. Apart from slowing down your connection, it’s just plain rude, don’t you think? I always feel weird giving out our WiFi password to occasional visitors, and I know that for security’s sake, I should change the password now and then. With Guest Access, your visitors can surf and use your network without giving out your main access password and you can change it as often as you like. Useful for deterring the occasional bad egg who will go to great lengths to park in front of your house for free WiFi. Rocks in the sky, the one who gets hit should not get mad. #somethingsshouldneverbetranslated

  • The parental controls are great. My iMac has built-in parental controls also, but this takes it a step further by allowing you to individually set the limits on EACH DEVICE that connects to your WiFi network. It has time limits that can be set for different devices, as well as an area to specify any sites you want banned on each device. For example, you can limit the time on weekdays and be a little lenient on weekends. You may allow Facebook on your own desktop but not on your son’s iPad. It allows you to have some control over your children’s internet use without intruding on their personal digital space. (Knowing these kids, they’ll figure out a workaround on the computer settings anyway!)

So if you’re a parent and concerned about internet security and your children’s online usage, the Linksys E1000 is a good choice. Now, Cisco Linksys is asking for a few moments of your time to answer the survey below. If we get enough responses on this blog, anyone who takes the survey goes into a pot for a chance to win their very own Linksys E1000 router! It is a contest of sorts for the bloggers who are featuring the router on their own blogs, so I’m crossing my fingers that this blog gets the most answers and the winner will be one of you guys! If my blog gets the most number of responses, I get a special prize too. Someone in my household will be very Apple-happy this Christmas if I do win, hehe!
Giveaway notes:
  • Open to all survey respondents in NCR.
  • Cisco Linksys will be responsible for shipping the product to your shipping address.
  • The winner of the contest will be announced on Mommy Mundo’s website.
Thanks in advance to everyone who answers the survey! (If you can’t see the form below, click here)

Scary Saturdays

I see a lot of bloggers who these themed-post days for entries. There’s stuff like Foodie Friday and Family Friday, Sunday Specials, whatever. Well, I’m going to be gaya-gaya and do my own. I’m doing Scary Saturdays. Every time I feel like it Saturday, I’ll try and post something that scared me.

Today’s Scary Saturday item is in line with my search for more educational apps for Basti’s iPad time. I was looking for English flashcards because Basti responds more to Chinese than English or Filipino because he is obsessed with this app I have.

So I download this English flashcard app and this is the crap they show my son:

Fear Factor: SHOKOT LEVELS. (Shokot = takot = fear/afraid in Bekinese) P.S. I haven’t seen Zombadings. Have you?

My Son, The Techie: Basti’s Favorite Apps

There are so many parenting blogs and articles online that go by the way of “organic parenting” as I call it. You know, the no-tv-wooden-toys-only kind.

Well, this blog isn’t one of them. Not by a mile.

Sure I also dabbled with thoughts of not exposing Basti to technology early in life. But how could I? I have an internet love affair. Literally, a love affair with the internet and all things tech.

I have been online for as long as I can remember internet being available in this country. I started with a measly 14.4kbps modem tied up to my Pentium PC, and had a dedicated phone line installed so I could avail of the unlimited log-in time of my then-internet service provider. There was a certain comfort to hearing the modem dial-up, hiss, pop and whistle until that unmistakeable moment of connection.

I met lots of friends from my IRC days. I became an op of some channels, attended EBs, the works. Some of them are still my friends to this very day. I even found a way to incorporate my internet addiction into my college thesis. It was titled, “Internet Relay Chat: Defining A Sub-Culture.” I was lauded for introducing new research techniques to the Psychology Department (read: Yahoo! search) and no one could understand what I was talking about because my professor or any of the members of the panel of peers even had an email address. I got an A.

My switch from PC to Mac brought my addiction to a whole new level. It was around the same time DSL residential lines became available, and I was brought into the world of e-groups, chat and user forums. I was fiercely active in the Philippine Macintosh Users Group or PhilMUG, even getting on the board of directors. Yes, there is such a thing.

The internet became my lifeline when I lived in China. Inspite of The Great Firewall, it connected me to my family, friends and the outside world (thank you proxy servers). When I got back, it seemed like no time passed at all.

Going through baby blues, Twitter became my shrink, Facebook, my connection to the outside world and my blog, my sanctuary. Dr. Google was helpful for times of extreme paranoia, and through my blog, found like-minded mothers who share the same passions as I do.

Basti spent a good portion of his days as a newborn worn in a sling while I was in front of my Mac. Now at close to 1.5 years old, he likes to play with my keyboard and mouse (I got him his own so he doesn’t accidentally send a gibberish email to my boss), and he can unlock my iPhone and play music. He can also take Hipstamatic pictures, sometimes much better than I do.

Now that I have an iPad (droool), Basti’s got a ton of stuff to play with. In case you are in the same boat as I am, here are a few of Basti’s favorite apps and activities. If you have any of your favorites to share, please do!

1. The Wheels On The Bus

“The Wheels On The Bus” is high up on Gymboree’s most-requested songs, with its interactive lyrics and fun melody. This app is Basti’s ultimate favorite and I had to get it right away when OC Mom In Manila used it to keep him still while we had our nails done. It features interactive elements, the music in several languages and a record feature so you can have your baby listen to your own voice singing “The Wheels On The Bus” as they play the game. The bubbles go pop pop pop, the people jump up and down, birds hop and sing, dogs bark, at the touch of your child’s poke-poke-poke. So cute! Available for both iPhone and iPad.

2. Phone4kids

Why is it that no matter how many toy phones you buy, they always want the real thing? Basti loved using the call and text messaging functions of my phone that someone actually wanted to be textmates. This app builds on that curiosity and creates similar environments and other fun stuff without accidental calls to your client or boss.

It’s got a phone with the matching tones:

It’s also got a compass, fake SMS center, a function for learning letters, and a drawing palette. If you make the in-app purchase, you’ll also get a few more fun things for your kid to enjoy. The free version though, is more than enough to keep your toddler occupied. Available for both iPhone and iPad, though the app on the iPad makes it look like a giant phone. Hehe.

3. Toy Story Read-Along Interactive Book

Toy Story is Basti’s favorite Pixar film. This interactive book is so jampacked with features, I can’t believe it’s free!

You can choose between the built-in read-along feature (with the original voices from the movie) or you can record your voice! Some of the pages also transform into coloring sheets. I wanna get the others too, but they’re not free. I have to stop myself from purchasing all these apps.

4. I Hear Ewe

We Filipinos love this: “Baby what’s the sound of the dog? Of the cat? Of the alligator? Of the hedgehog?” Well here’s the perfect animal sound learning app.

Sound and image recognition, with another page for transportation sounds like car, firetruck and ambulance.

5. Any Piano app. We use this one.

We’re not married to it. Anything that generates the piano sound is good enough for Basti. I don’t think he’s going to play a Concerto soon. Unless I turn into Tiger Mother tomorrow.

6. My Drawing Book and My Coloring Book

These are free apps, but have in-app purchases for extra tools and drawing sheets.

The free version is enough for Basti while he's still getting a grip on his fine motor skills. Cute, kid-friendly interface and they're not skimpy with the color selection, even at the free version.

 

I have to give a special shout-out to Frances and Vince Sales, who allowed me to get their extra Dodo case for my iPad. It makes my tablet look like a Moleskine.

Photo courtesy of www.dodocase.com

Love it!!! Thanks guys!!

 

 

Packages Are L-O-V-E

A few days before Christmas, I got a package from Paula Loot.

Basti's Bear and Paola's Package

In it were the most wonderful lactation cookies. They’re filled with “love, flaxseed, fenugreek, oats, and brewer’s yeast”!

Yum yum!

I’ll blog more about Paola’s yummy (and effective!!) lactation cookies on another post.

Today, I got this from Mr. 2Go.

Good morning Mr. 2Go! (yawn)

And I peek inside… Oooooh…

Gasp! Could it be???

After 10 million years, it’s here.

It’s about time mommy had a new toy to play with.