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Review

Accessory Review: Case Studio customizable iPad case
February 25, 2015 | 10:25 am

case studio customizable ipad caseI've never been a big one for customizable swag, but when the folks at Case Studio offered me a coupon code to create my own iPad case, I admit I was intrigued. There's so many options that no two cases would ever look alike. From uploading a custom photo to selecting one of many designs and adding a short message or monogram, the options are endless. I spent close to half an hour on my case. While I was tempted by uploading a gorgeous piece of Dean Winchester fan art (completely safe for work, in case you were wondering), I finally decided...

Review: Steampunk LEGO by Guy Himber
February 23, 2015 | 10:25 am

steampunk legoI got a package in the mail this week---a gorgeous hardcover book from No Starch Press! When I wrote earlier about this publisher, I mentioned that one of the things which intrigued me about them was their print-plus-eBook bundles. They graciously agreed to let me try one out, and while I was able to download the PDF copy of [easyazon-link asin="1593275285" locale="us"]Steampunk LEGO[/easyazon-link] right away, I wanted to wait to write the review until I had the paper copy for comparison. Well...it's here! And is a beautiful book. Even the Beloved, who is not particularly a book fan in either format, remarked...

App Review: Sunrise Calendar
February 20, 2015 | 2:25 pm

sunrise calendarSomeone I follow on Twitter routinely shares roundup posts of productivity apps and after I'd seen Sunrise Calendar on so many posts, I decided it was time to try it out. I'm glad I did because it has become my new go-to calendar app. It's available on Android, iOS, and there's a browser-based version for a computer. To borrow a phrase, it's everywhere you'd want it to be. I love the interface on my Android phone, with a scrolling display of upcoming events and quick weather forecast items right there on the calendar. The display on the iPhone may be similar,...

Accessory Review: Inatek iPad Sleeves
February 17, 2015 | 6:25 pm

Inatek iPad SleevesThe folks at Inatek were kind enough to send me two of their iPad sleeves to review---a matching pair for my iPad Air and my iPad Mini. The sleeves are both made of a very nice felted material and are a great choice for on-the-go protection. Their offer came at a perfect time for me because I had been using a keyboard case for my old iPad, which I liked, but I was not happy with the updated model of it which was available for the iPad Air. I had downgraded to Apple's 'smart cover' and found that while it did...

App Review: Smart AudioBook Player for Android
January 26, 2015 | 11:11 am

smart audiobook playerIt finally dawned on me late last year that Overdrive MP3 audio books are DRM-free. Yes, I'd known that fact on some level, but I still listened to the books in the Overdrive app, which is okay but not great. Plus it often takes me longer than three weeks to finish an audiobook, so I was only checking out short ones (less than 10 hours). Once I processed the implications of DRM-free audio books (Hooray! I can check out long books!), I started looking for an audiobook player app and found Smart AudioBook Player. It has great reviews and offers a...

Review: The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley
January 16, 2015 | 4:25 pm

the smartest kids in the world[easyazon-link asin="1451654421" locale="us"]The Smartest Kids in the World[/easyazon-link] is my first almost-five-star read of the year! This engaging and well-written book follows three American teenagers who, as part of Ripley's research into the best education systems in the world, go on year-long exchanges to three of the 'top' countries. The narratives of Tom in Poland, Kim in Finland and Eric in South Korea frame Ripley's thoughts on what makes a good teacher or school, the importance (or not) of standardized testing, and what really is the most vital component of a good education. I was impressed by the breadth of research Ripley...

Review: iPad Air
December 27, 2014 | 12:18 pm

ipad airIt has been the season for tech upgrading in our house! My iPad and Macbook both got replaced, and we got a second Apple TV for the main television. I don't love doing all of this. It is nice to have new things, but I always cringe at spending the money! Thanks to a well-timed sale of my previous iPad and some other tech has-beens, some holiday gift cards and a some teacher discounts, I managed to get the whole kit for under $1000, which is pretty impressive considering the sticker prices. So, here are the first of my reviews: the...

Review: RAVPower RP-PB 19 External Battery
December 7, 2014 | 10:25 am

RP-PB 19I've got so many external batteries lying around the house now that I joke with my husband we can keep our Kindles running for months in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse. But of course I was willing to accept one more when the folks from RAVPower offered to send me their [easyazon-link asin="B00MQSMEEE" locale="us"]RP-PB 19[/easyazon-link] to review. The RAVPower RP-PB 19 is a 15000mAh external battery. I've been using a 14000mAh version for some months now, and it will charge my iPad 4 to a full charge from about 20%. This one will manage pretty close to a full charge. As...

Review: Inateck Bluetooth Keyboard
December 1, 2014 | 10:25 am

inateck bluetooth keyboardI've been perfectly happy with my [easyazon-link asin="B005EOWBKE" locale="us"]AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard[/easyazon-link] for well over a year now. However, when Inateck asked me to try their keyboard,  I was more than willing to give it a go. I received the one optimized for Apple devices, but I'm confident their other model will work similarly. Other than the color, the biggest difference between the Amazon and Inateck keyboards is the size. My Amazon keyboard fits in my Amazon Basics laptop sleeve, along with my iPad. The Inateck keyboard is just a bit too long to fit. It fits fine in my Targus messenger bag, though, so, sadly,...

Review: 1 Voice Bluetooth Ear Warmers
November 26, 2014 | 2:25 pm

bluethooth ear warmersYou know how sometimes that thing you wanted without even realizing you wanted it comes along? That was my reaction when I received the email from 1 Voice about their new Bluetooth ear warmers. They sent me a sample, and I was eager to try them out, especially since temperatures have been dropping, and I wanted to continue my morning walks with an audiobook. How perfect would that walk be without worrying about ear buds? Unfortunately, although the product works exactly as advertised, they don't fit well on my head. However, they might be perfect for you. Let's start with the basics....

Review: Inateck Kindle Paperwhite Case
November 20, 2014 | 4:25 pm

inateck kindle paperwhite caseIt's getting to be that time of year when people will be deciding on gifts to give for the holiday. With the Kindle Paperwhite now being marketed as the mid-range offering in Amazon's eInk reader line up, I'm betting there will be a number of them wrapped in colorful paper soon. However, if you've owned such a device in the past, you know that it's not enough to buy the reader. You also want to protect the reader, and the folks at Inateck recently sent me a case to review. Gotta say, I love it. The [easyazon-link asin="B00JP7R7DC" locale="us"]Inateck Compact Kindle...

Cash for reviews: a slippery slope
November 14, 2014 | 4:25 pm

cash for reviewsI recently purchased some teaching products via Amazon.com. The order arrived last week and everything was fine, so I didn't pay too much attention to it, and did not realize it had come from a third-party seller until I got a curious email from them this week. The email said that their records indicated my order should have arrived by now, they hoped I found everything satisfactory, and they suggested that if I indeed did find it so, perhaps I could leave them a review for it. Fair enough so far, I guess. But then I got to this little clincher: "If...