Are you an over scheduled mom with little time to figure out technology? Or are you a technology guru who loves sharing tips with others?
We cover different ways to make technology work for you without spending hours researching and learning how to do it on your own.
Tankless water heaters have been all the rage these past five years or so. They take up less room in your garage, use less water, and heat the water faster. But is it worth it to replace your current water heater? Don’t you just replace the lesser cost of your water bill with the higher cost on your electricity bill?
I went through this process a couple of years ago and researched as many facts as I could to
1.) understand the difference between a water heater and a tankless heater and
2.) make a decision about which one was the best one for our household.
I ended up choosing the Eternal hybrid water heater, which is mostly electric with a small cylinder of heated water (2-3 gal) in the middle of it. As I have only been in my house for a year, I cannot tell you whether my electricity has gone up or remained the same. But I can tell you that it was worked well for us with the exception of when the electricity goes out. Nonetheless, we are happy with our choice.
Tripit.com is a travel planning site that makes traveling easier by storing all your travel details in one central place. I remember two years ago when I reserved a room in a hotel close to the convention center in Las Vegas. I booked 6 months early because I knew most of the city rooms would be booked due to the Consumer Electronics Show. The day before the convention, I showed up at my hotel only to find that I had booked my hotel stay to begin the night before, which of course, I missed and they charged me for and canceled the rest of the reservation. And because of the Consumer Electronics Show, there were no more rooms available! Aghhhh! Not only was I out my money and no room for the night, but I would be forced to find a hotel last minute…at of course…top prices! What a disaster. Fortunately, a good friend of mine offered up his hotel room and he found a hotel further out, which wasn’t a problem because he had a car. He saved me that week.
Apparently, my email-based way of saving travel confirmations was not the best way to organize my travel. I needed a better system. I began using TripIt this past year and have found it very helpful in planning and in traveling. When I book a flight, the day of my flight, TripIt alerts me by text that the flight is on time (or not) and tells me which gate the flight departs from. TripIt also reminds me to check-in with the airline the day before. I often forget to do this until it’s rather late, which is a bummer if I’m flying on Southwest.
Although I have not checked my bag yet when using TripIt Pro, apparently it will send you a text to alert you which baggage claim your bag will be at. It’s like having a personal travel assistant watching over your trip for you. TripIt explains it best in this fun short video:
TripIt makes it simple to make travel plans. Once you hook up your Gmail to your TripIt account, it will automatically scan for travel confirmations and send the details over to TripIt. You can easily send confirmations it doesn’t find to your TripIt account by forwarding the plans to email@example.com and your plans will be filed under the appropriate trip. Likewise, if you do not use Gmail, you can send all travel plans to this address to build on your travel plans. You may be planning several trips at one time, but if the city name is on there, it will know which trip to send the confirmations to.
The graphic above shows what part of my itinerary looks like for attending BlogHer in July. It lists the hotel info. and TripIt automatically added a map of where the hotel is located, making it easier to get directions on how to get to the hotel as well as see what else is around my hotel. As I book airfare and restaurant reservations, I will add them here. As there are a number of events to attend surrounding BlogHer at different venues, I will add the event details and addresses to TripIt, to make it easier to know where to go and at what time.
TripIt is free to everyone and you get a lot of bang for no buck. You can also upgrade to the Pro version for more involved help with your planning.
Free Basic TripIt:
Automatically creates your trip itinerary for you by forwarding (if you have Gmail) or allowing you to send travel details to TripIt.com
Easily add maps, directions, notes, tips etc. to your itinerary
Shows local weather in the cities you’re traveling to
Free app to review travel plans on any smartphone or tablet
Automatically publish your trip details to your calendar to see upcoming travel/arrangements
Easily publish your trip details to Facebook, LinkedIn, and others to possibly uncover recommendations from friends and associates
TripIt Pro includes:
Receive text or email alerts for changes in your flights and even baggage claim info.
Monitors all flights books and notifies you if the price drops
Tracks your frequent flyer points for you – on many – but not all programs
Can automatically alert others of your trip plans/changes for those in your designated “inner circle”
Includes a one year membership to Hertz #1 Club Gold and Regus Business World Gold
Notifies you if your flight is eligible for a refund
The TripIt Pro version costs $49/year.
TripIt now has over 7 million users and has been recently listed by Bloomberg Business Week as one of the best free travel apps, as well as many other top lists from popular websites. The Today Show rated TripIt as one of the 6 best smartphone apps for 2013, out of 700,000 apps.
It’s hard to believe that TripIt is free! It is such a useful app and really helps to put your trip into an understandable, well organized itinerary. And with TripIt Pro, I can keep track of many of my frequent flier memberships. At just a glance, I see an up-to-date balance of points earned for each frequent flier account. This is an extremely handy features when planning a trip and deciding which airline or hotel to use. Unfortunately, for some reason, TripIt does not have partnerships with the top US Airlines like Delta, United, American Airlines, etc. But most of the top hotels are a part of this program.
I love the fact that I don’t have to remember to look online anymore as to whether my flight is on time. TripIt Pro sends me an email to reassure or alert me of my flight’s scheduled departure. TripIt Pro certainly has some nice advantages, but the Free version is definitely worth it, it will save you time and frustration You can access your info. online at TripIt.com or on the free TripIt App, as the info. is synced through the cloud and available wherever you have a connection to the Internet.
How about you? How do you manage all of your family’s travel plans?
* I was given a free one year subscription to TripIt Pro in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions are still my own.
While at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, I ran across a very simple but very handy solution for helping you to use your phone in the car hands-free. It’s called Stick it Where? and the product itself is an industrial strength more intelligent type of Velcro that mounts to your car and to the back of your phone. Each packet of Stick It Where? comes with four mounting squares, about 1 x 1 inches big and in 3 colors – 2 black squares, a gray one, and a tan one. The different colors account for the interior color of your car.
To install your Stick It Where? squares, you simply use the enclosed alcohol wipe to clean both the area on your car dash as well as the back of your phone case. Then you take off the sticker on each of the squares and apply one on your car and one on your phone. I used the gray square for my car and a black one for my phone case. That’s it, all you need for installation.
The Stick It Where? mounting pads are meant to last a long time, especially with as often as we enter our cars, stick our phone to the mounting square, and release our phones. And with two extra mounting squares in the package, you are all set if you get another car or another phone/case.
I especially find Stick It Where? useful for:
Using INRIX - which helps me keep track of the traffic patterns around Los Angeles
Receiving phone calls…with speakerphone of course!
Keeping track of my phone, as it often slips onto the passenger side floor
I particularly like the fact that the small mounting square matches with my car’s interior and is not obtrusive, like most black mounting devices you see. And of course, because of its small size and concise use of materials, the cost is so much lower than these mounting devices.
Stick It Where? also gives you the flexibility to hold your cellphone vertically or horizontally, which is helpful when in GPS mode.
I remember once I had my one week new cellphone on my lap as I drove around town. Unfortunately, I forgot it was there and when I got out of my car, the cellphone went crashing to the pavement, putting tons of cracks throughout my beautiful new screen. Arghhh! I was very bummed. I, like many others, continued on for the next several months with a cracked screen, resulting in chastisement and the all too familiar comment, “ewww so glad that hasn’t happened to me.” I know that comment well because I’ve thought it before when I saw other people’s cracked screens. The Stick It Where? solution will help deter the tragic fall from my lap incident again.
I had the opportunity to meet the innovator behind Stick It Where? at the Consumer Electronics Show. He has a driving teenager and saw the opportunity to find an inexpensive, flexible way for his son to drive hands-free without the hassle of fumbling for his cellphone while he drives. Stick It Where? is an inexpensive way to give parents just a little extra piece of mind while your child is on the road as well as a helpful solution for your hands-free cellphone hassles.
How would you use Stick It Where?
* A sample of Stick It Where was provided to me in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.