Five of the Coolest Winter Technologies for Smartphone Users

It’s time to gear up as the winter season approaches. How do you check your business phone for important calls if your fingers are freezing? How do you keep the snow out of your precious iPhone? Shovel off your winter worries. Smartphone users will find these technologies oh-so-cool and useful on the upcoming -berrrrr days.

Nest: Control your nest egg from anywhere

NestBuilt by the former VP of Apple’s iPod and iPhone division, Tony Fadell, the Nest is a next-generation thermostat that programs itself and saves energy. You can easily install the Nest in 30 minutes or less. Afterward, Nest will remember the temperatures you like at different times of the day and will automatically adjust settings based on your schedule. With its “auto-away” feature, this nifty gadget also senses when you leave home so it can turn the system down. Simply installing Nest (without applying its energy-saving features) will already let you save an average of $173 a year. You can even track your overall savings with Nest’s monthly energy report to get some tips on how to save more. So what does this have to do with smartphones? Let’s say that you’re getting home earlier than expected; simply connect via the Nest mobile app in your smartphone and change the temperature even while you’re on the road. For making us feel comfortably cozy, this cool piece of tech deserves top spot.

RingCentral: Prepare your office for extreme weather conditions

RingCentralIt should be business as usual despite snowstorms or other weather hassles. During extreme weather conditions and other disasters, cloud services can aid in recovery and get your company up and running again. RingCentral cloud PBX demonstrated this when it moved its services from the east to the west coast in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that its clients could still access RingCentral services despite the storms. RingCentral VoIP services can also be set up, managed, and accessed directly from your mobile devices. This ensures that your team members can still access phone services in case they can’t travel to their offices or even if your entire office building becomes unavailable.

Nokia Lumia 920: Use it with gloves

Nokia Lumia 920For those who don’t experience real winter, Nokia’s marketing of the Nokia Lumia 920’s “supersensitive touchscreen” must have been a big bore. But there were also quite a few Nokia fans out there who appreciated this practical feature. The Lumia 920’s screen is responsive even if you’re wearing gloves in the cold wintry months. You can even navigate it using your nails or car keys. Of course, its 8.7 MP PureView Camera, 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 32 GB internal storage, 4G LTE technology, and wireless charging capabilities also make the Nokia Lumia 920 one of the best smartphones out on the market at present.

BEARTek: Bluetooth control gloves for your smartphone

BEARTek width=If you don’t want to switch phones just for a supersensitive touchscreen, then BEARTek’s Bluetooth gloves might be one of the best solutions for you. No need to fumble with your smartphone while wearing gloves if you have a pair of these. Wear the gloves like you would wear any other gloves and be able to use your smartphone without even taking it out of your pocket! Using Bluetooth and BEARTek technologies, you can control your phone functions and music apps by touching your thumb to corresponding touchpoints on your finger. If you want these gloves, support the creators on Kickstarter.

LifeProof: Snowproof your iPhone

LifeProofCaught in a snowstorm or love cross-country skiing? There’s no need to worry about your iPhone getting damaged with LifeProof’s iPhone 4/4S case. Not only do you get to tote your phone in the snow, but you also protect it from water, dirt, and shock. LifeProof cases have an IP-68 rating, which means they are dust-tight and protected against complete continuous water submersion. Secure your phone from icy mishaps with LifeProof.

How do you keep Jack Frost from nipping at your patience (and pocketbook) when you’re trying to cope with your smartphone during the winter months? Drop us a comment below and share your thoughts with us!

Winter Preparedness (For Geeks)

I grew up in the Midwest, so I’m used to harsh winters (sub-zero temperatures and all). Snow and ice are par for the course if you grew up anywhere in the US other than the Southwest. I’d much rather be chilly than sweaty! Still, being the great indoorsman that I am, controlled climates are preferred year-round. Yes, even when Jack Frost is nipping at my nose.

So, how can we geeks (and nerds, I suppose) better prepare for the impending season of winter? I’m assuming you’ll do anything to avoid non-essential activities which require more-than-minimum physical exertion, too. “Making snow angels” is about as extreme a winter sport as I might suggest.

Personally, I love leisure activities which better engage my mind. Viewing a movie might count, but only if that flick is of the documentarial variety. I’m not sure “documentarial” is a word yet, but it seems cromulent. Watching television might count as a brain-building activity, too — but not when you’re watching “reality” shows. Reading a book? Sure, but I’d recommend doing it with some kind of battery-powered screen involved. Pages are so 15th century!

You might muster the patience to master a game at some point during the winter season. That might take several months, weeks, or minutes (depending on how smart you are). I’d prefer to find myself face-to-face with a pile of plastic LEGO bricks from any given set, though. In fact, before I could get to it, my girlfriend happily assembled the Star Wars Hoth Wampa Cave in my home office:

A Wampa would certainly come in handy the next time I have to shovel my driveway. After uploading our lighthearted Star Wars LEGO review, I asked the community to complete this sentence: “To prepare for winter, geeks and nerds should…” These were my favorite responses:

  • Ionian Blue: “Buy USB powered heated underpants.”
  • Chris Hayes: “Continue to stay indoors.”
  • Rich Gilberto: “Dedicate a Linux box to run a Yule log screensaver.”
  • Gabe Pavlica “Uninstall their CPU’s cooling fan.”
  • Caleb Honeycutt “Hibernate. Simple as that.”
  • Jack Fear: “Roast Zuckerberg on Google+.”
  • Brian Omv: “Stock up on Hot Pockets and Xena Tapes.”
  • Jorge Cerda: “Get tons of ramen and make sure to pay the Internet / Netflix bills.”
  • Nicholas Roberts: “Continue to live out their entire existence indoors.”
  • Joe Bolin: “Buy a fuzzy logic coat.”
  • Nate Jay: “Keep a steady drip of data flowing so their pipe doesn’t freeze.”
  • Mike Dubisch: “Switch into the wool Spider-Man costume.”
  • Phil Hord: “Forage for content.”

Might you have anything to add to this list of preparedness possibilities? I came up with a few ideas on my own:

  • Queue up inane new “Holiday” flavor combinations to tweet to @Starbucks.
  • Design an Arduino-driven, Android-controlled snowplow.
  • Assemble a sled from old software boxes.
  • Collect dead batteries to use for constructing action figure dioramas.
  • Cut up old electronics to recycle as Christmas tree ornaments.
  • Study semaphore in case power lines are iced-over and fallen.
  • Write carol parodies.
  • Start using Citrix products (sponsored) to connect with co-workers and colleagues.
  • Train your dogs to play werewolf.
  • Suspend snail mail delivery until next June.
  • Ask your community to help you compile lists for impending blog posts.

All kidding aside, you should be doing your part to help make this winter a safer one for you and those you happen to live with. Even if you’re not at the head of your household, suggestions should always be warranted when they’re made in the name of safety and security. Stocking up on extra food, water, and life-sustaining supplies is a timeless tradition that shouldn’t be eschewed.

If you’re looking for a slightly more serious set of geeky winter preparedness tips, I won’t leave you hanging:

  • Before hitting the road, check current street conditions with an app (or two).
  • When you travel anywhere by car, bring along a fully-charged GPS.
  • Pick up a hand-crank powered emergency flashlight / radio and put it in your car’s trunk.
  • If you can have Internet-ordered goods delivered to you at a minimal additional cost, do it.
  • Install electronic carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
  • Let others know where you are, when you plan on traveling, and if plans change.

With proper winter preparedness, you might be saving a life beyond your own.

I hesitate to end this article on such a somber note, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t relate to you a tale of tragedy which befell an old colleague — no stranger to gadgets and geekiness, he ultimately became a victim of winter’s bitter pinch. James Kim, former contributor to several tech productions, succumbed to hypothermia while seeking rescue for his family in the remote woodlands of Oregon a few years back.

We are not exempt from Mother Nature’s wrath — and we’d be wise to remember that when the weather turns foul in any season. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of attention; preparing for the worst may very well keep us alive long enough to see the best. Technology can help you, but only if you take the time to let it help you.

What can you do today to make this winter a safer one? Before you finish this paragraph, you should open a separate browser tab to Amazon (there, I made it easy for you to do). Search for items designed to keep you happy and healthy through winter weeks for years to come.

All Power America APG3301C 1,200 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator

There should be an image here!Need a CARB-compliant generator to get you through the winter months ahead with secure peace of mind? The All Power America APG3301C 1,200 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator features:

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  • 1-120 volt AC outlet, 1-12 volt DC outlet

All Power America APG3301C 1,200 Watt 4-Stroke Gas Powered Portable Generator

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LockerGnome Pillow

There should be an image here!Have you ever felt like somebody is watching you? Enter Chris Pirillo, Geek Lord extraordinaire. Like all deities, the mighty Pirillo must receive tribute. Thus, the Pirillow was born. This pillow is extra-soft 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Keep it geeky and get your LockerGnome “Pirillow” Pillow before it says “e-ya later!”

  • Hand crafted
  • Filled with polyester fibers
  • 100% fleece
  • Measures roughly 10″ x 14″

When you buy a LockerGnome pillow, 20% of your purchase will be donated to the Seattle Humane Society on behalf of Chris Pirillo.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Our home has been attacked by the Grinch – an eight foot tall Grinch, at that. Who knew he’d turn out to be so big? He’s mean, green, and standing in one of our windows right now (teathered to the wall, actually). It’s one of those inflatable vinyl characters that seem to be all the rage this time of year; he’s an indoor / outdoor Grinch, but we’re trying to keep him water-free – so inside he’ll stay. If you’re a Christmas Grinch, then it’s likely you don’t give a flock (unless you don’t celebrate Christmas or believe that the Grinch actually exists). The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is very real. But don’t worry, Christmas fans – I’ll keep him right here throughout the holiday season so that he won’t hit your Whotown. BTW, he’s the Boris Karloff Grinch (not the Jim Carrey Grinch). And just in case you need incontrovertible proof, I’ve uploaded a couple of photos. Certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, eh? And while we’re on the subject…
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Geek Hibernation Mode

All of a sudden it’s starting to feel like winter is finally on its way. Chris wrote about Seattle’s dusting of snow yesterday. The great northeast megalopolis got its first tantalizing taste of the white stuff back on Thanksgiving day. Reality sets in. The turn of weather has me thinking how to survive the season in my annual geek hibernation mode. When the roads ice up, I lock myself in with the computers…

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Working in a Winter Wonderland

Winter is upon us, and there are only 24 more shopping days until Christmas. How many wish lists have you fulfilled? I haven’t even compiled mine yet, and I have no idea what I’m going to be getting everybody (including Ponzi, whose specific materialistic desires are as elusive as the end of the rainbow). I’m happy to be wearing hoodies again – it’s very cold up here this time of year, ya know? Cold enough to want to stay inside all day long. We ruined our bedroom fireplace late last night (a story which will hopefully be posted in audio soon). I’ve already got one item to return – a Christmas gift that was purchased for me out of love, if only I didn’t already own a copy of it. The scent of pine is in the air, but I think it’s from the candle or air freshener down the hall. Better than nothing, I suppose – since we haven’t yet ordered our Christmas tree.
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Crank Up The Space Heater

My kingdom for a new space heater! Just yesterday, it seemed like the warm weather might last a few more weeks. But here I am, shivering in my home office, wrapped in blankets, with my feet resplendent in hideous non-matching down booties. If only I had the mechanical engineering smarts to create a PC-cooling device that doubled as a space heaters, I’d shut my noisy PC up and keep my feet warm…

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