Monday, April 13, 2015

We've moved!

This is the last update I'll be making over here on the blogger site!

ParentingGeekly 2.0 now lives at:

http://www.ParentingGeekly.com 
(the url was just redirected here up until now).

You can follow me on twitter here: http://www.twitter.com/ParentingGeekly

And on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ParentingGeekly

This is the last update I'll be making over here on the Blogger site!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Convention Tips and Etiquette


Last week I had a chance to participate in a Seattle AntiFreeze Event at the Museum of History and Industry.  This fun monthly event features people from different Seattle communities sharing some of the things that makes Seattle special. I am on the Board of GeekGirlCon and I presented with Board President, Kristine Hassell.  We talked about what makes GGC special and how Seattle, with it's plethora of conventions, is a great place to be a geek!

Emerald City Comicon, is coming up soon and it kicks off the start of Seattle's Con Season.   Between now and November there is at least one con a month including SakuraCon, PAX. Norwescon, Jet City Comic Show as well as some smaller more specialized offerings (Supernatural Con, anyone?)

I am a seasoned con-goer at this point and one the most frequently asked questions ParentingGeeky gets is "What can I expect at my first con?"  So, whether you are new to cons or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you make the most of your con experience!

What to Wear

Deodorant - It may be a cliche that cons can get stinky, but with a lot of people crammed into relatively small spaces it’s bound to happen. Do your part by wearing deodorant! Conversely, many people are sensitive to strong smells, skip the body sprays and perfumes.
Comfortable shoes - This is not the time to try out your sweet new stilettos. You will be on your feet for hours, take care of them! Even if your cosplay requires fancy feet, bring something comfy to change into.
LayersGoing from a stuffy a exhibition hall to an overly air conditioned auditorium can make staying comfortable tricky. Dress in layers so you are prepared for any situation.
Sun Protection - At bigger cons like San Diego ComicCon and PAX, you will be traveling between multiple buildings and may even have to stand in line outside. Even at ECCC, which is mostly in one building, you may wish to venture out to a nearby restaurant or sit in the attached park. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses can be a lifesaver.

What to Bring:

Hand sanitizer/Disinfectant Wipes - Cons are germy places. Hand sanitizer can be used before and after shaking hands, though it isn't a substitute for frequent hand washing. Wipes can be used on communal game controllers, pens, etc.
Snacks and Water - Con food is expensive and sometimes hard to come by. Tidy snacks like jerky, granola bars, and trail mix can stave off low blood sugar. You can refill water bottles in sinks and water fountains for free.
Sharpies - Always good to have your own supply for signings.
Folder, backing board, poster tube - For keeping new purchases from getting rumpled.
Patience - Lines are long, sometimes even moving through the crowd in the expo halls can take a long time. Be patient and kind, even when everyone else isn’t.
Line Entertainment - Especially important if you have kids. Books, tablets, a Gameboy all help lines go faster.
WiFi Hotspot - If you have one, bring it. Con wifi is notoriously slow, if it’s even available. Even 4G data can get pretty clogged with so many users in one place, so keep expectations low and download entertainment before hand rather than counting on streaming while there.
Money (and a budget) - Cons are expensive! Make a loop around the whole vendor area before you spend. Otherwise you might blow your whole budget before you've even seen everything.
A backpack, but not a BACKPACK - I appreciate the convenience of toting my stuff around in a backpack, but can’t tell you how many times I've been hit in face by a tall person who swings around suddenly with a huge, fully extended pack on them. Try to take up as small a footprint as you can, and be mindful of the people around you.

How to approach guests, speakers, creators, etc.

Those you know and admire
If they are sitting at their table or another public area of the con where they are clearly working: say hi! Keep interactions short, especially if there is a line. Don’t get too personal. Respect personal space and any rules posted about autographs and photos; at many cons pictures are not allowed at tables because there is a professional photographer to buy photos from. If no rules or prices are posted, ask before taking photos. It is a surprise to many first time con-goers that media guests and celebrities frequently charge for an autograph.  These fees can range from $15 to hundreds of dollars (Sylvester Stallone notoriously charged $395 at NYCC in 2013)  - though prices usually cap off around $100 for event the biggest celebrities.

If you bump into them in a con area restaurant, shop or a bathroom, or roaming the con as an attendee: A simple smile and nod is appropriate. Notables need some downtime to recharge, be polite and let them have it.

People you are unfamiliar with: Ask them what they are working on! Most people are there to share their passion or a current project and will be happy to tell you all about it. No need to be shy! A simple “I’m unfamiliar with your work, what is your current project” will get the ball rolling!


As a parent who frequently has my geeklings in tow, I also wrote a guide to bringing them to conventions:  http://bit.ly/kidsatcons

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is it Worth Your Allowance?: Grow Home

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Is a weekly column written by 14 year old Nate. Nate reviews inexpensive games and lets your geeklings know if it's worth spending their hard earned allowance on. Have a game to suggest? You can email Nate here.

Game: Grow Home 
Genre: sandbox, climbing, adventure, casual
Cost: $7.99



Grow Home is a game where you play as B.U.D. (botanical utility droid) who is a small red wobbly robot made to grow and climb star plants. Your objective is to grow a star plant into space. Along the way the star plant will create a tangled web of branches that you bring all the way up to your mothership. 

The artstyle is very colorful and charming. Its low poly count creates a blocky look, but makes for a smooth game play experience, because there is less strain on the hardware. The game is easy to play but still challenging. At any second you could fall off of a mile high floating island and either have climb back up or use one of the teleporters scattered around the map. But if you do fall you can die, though the only punishment is that you’ll have to climb up again, this can be prevented by using things like your jet pack or glide leaf or fall flower (giant daisy that acts like a parachute). I like that you can go out of your way to collect energy crystals and have a different experience than if you didn't, because when you collect enough crystals you get upgrades. I have a lot of fun using the glide leaf and the jet pack together to fly around the web of branches that I have made. I recomend this game for ages 8 and up.
Overall, my final rating for this game is 8/10 and I definitely think it’s worth your allowance.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Parent Guide to Cinderella: Can I bring my 5 year old to Cinderella?

I have had four family members ask me this weekend if Cinderella is okay for their kids.  Here is a my quick review and parent guide.



This new live-action version of Cinderella from Disney doesn't stray too far from the source material, which in this case is the animated Disney version from 1950.  It stars a wide-eyed Lily James (familiar as Cousin Rose to Downton Abbey fans) as Ella, the beloved daughter of a beautiful mother and a merchant father.  Ella's mother teaches her that above all else, it is important to have courage and be kind (apparently very important, as this mantra is repeated about 20 times in the film).  After the death of her mother, her father marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who along with her bratty daughters make life miserable for Ella right from the get-go.  After Ella's father dies, the abuse at the hands of her stepfamily gets worse, and after dirtying herself in the fireplace, she is bestowed the new name "Cinder-Ella".  

One of the aspects that I enjoyed in this film was that with it's longer running length than it's animated source, they delve into the backstories of the characters a bit more. Lady Tremaine is still an awful person, but at least we are given a reason for her cold heartedness.  Even the prince has a backstory, which certainly makes him more sympathetic than the cartoon version, but there is still the pesky "love at first sight" plot which I don't love.

Should you bring your kids to Cinderella?  There isn't much that's objectionable here.  There is no bad language, no sex, no explosions or violence, no drug references.  The characters of Lady Tremaine and the Stepsisters are overtly mean - even cruel - to Cinderella, which may be a good talking point. Other talking points:  Why does Cinderella stay?  How are her mother's words "Have courage brave and be kind" important?

I think kids under five may be bored.  There is not as much comedic relief from talking mice (Cinderella's live action mouse friends are bit less adorable), and it's a dialogue driven film.  On that same note, 14 year old Nate was also pretty bored.  His review of the movie was that it was nothing new. Granted, teenaged boys are probably not the target audience, but if you are picking a movie for the whole family it's definitely something to keep in mind. 

Cinderella is playing in theaters now.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Is it Worth Your Allowance? - Beseige

Is it Worth Your Allowance? is a new column where my 15 year old geekling reviews video games that cost about 10 dollars. He will give a run down on all the relevant information, a short review, and will let *your* geekling know if it's a game that's worth their allowance.

Reviewed by Nate

Besiege
Genre: building, physics
Cost: $6.99
Developer: Spiderling Studios
If you’re interested in buying this game go to this link http://store.steampowered.com/app/346010/

Besiege is a game where you build medieval siege machines to complete a given objective. I recomend this game for people ages 10 and up because it has cartoon violence and minor gore (you can burn or run over people, though it’s not realistic). 

The games allows you to make almost anything from the wide variety of given parts. It has 15 levels for you to go through with challenges ranging from destroying buildings to moving boulders. The developers are still adding content like levels and building materials. 

I dislike that the camera is always manually controlled, but that isn't really a problem - more of a preference. This is an early access game which means that it isn't 100 percent finished, but the game is completely playable and the devs are still adding and changing things. 

The most impressive machine I built was an airship that had 7 flamethrowers on the bottom, which  I used in a challenge to kill sheep. My airship is nothing compared to the things the community has built, like transformers and giant walkers.

Overall, my final rating for this game is 8/10 and I definitely think it’s worth your allowance.


Have an idea for an inexpensive, teen friendly game Nate should review?  Email him here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bellevue Staycation Part 2: John Howie Steak.

This is the second part of my Bellevue Staycation wrap up!  Read the first part here.



I  have been ruined. After the amazing anniversary dinner we had at John Howie Steak, I don't know if I'll  ever want to eat "normal" food again.  I dream of the delicious food we served that night, and I am a little hesitant to even share it with you, lest you suffer my fate.  But, it's kind of my job to share with you, so I will.

When we first started thinking about where to celebrate our 15th Anniversary, many friends suggested iconic Seattle restaurant Canlis.  We loved the idea of eating at a premier high-end restaurant, but Canlis is a pretty dressy-uppy place (they actually won't seat you near a window if you aren't wearing a jacket) and while I love to get dolled up, it's not Super-Dad's thing.  One of our favorite parts of dining at John Howie was its "come as you are" attitude.  I was wearing a causal dress, and SD had on dark jeans and a sweater.  We were totally comfortable and didn't feel at all out of place.  Looking around we saw many other couples dressed like us, a party really dressed to the nines and one couple who was very casual with the lady in a tank top.  Everyone was treated with the same fantastic service.  It is hard to enjoy yourself if you feel like everyone is judging you, so John Howie Steak's welcoming atmosphere was definitely a highlight

We were comfortable at John Howie, and it just added to the magnificent experience, but don't get me wrong, John Howie is FANCY.  White table cloths, the waiters wear white coats and bow ties.  In between courses they cleared the table with a crumb scraper; I didn't even think those were real things any more.  When we arrived our awesome waiter brought us a great selection of bread and crackers and an amuse bouche of soup.  I had a taste of the creamy crab and smoked salmon chowder, Super-Dad is gluten free, and they accommodated him with a taste of tomato soup.  We were each a little jealous, salmon chowder is one of his favorites, and I love tomato soup.  I was able to taste his, but thanks to his Celiac Disease, I couldn't share the chowder  (Darn, more for me!).

We started our meal with a spinach salad prepared tableside.  It was so fun to watch one of the waitstaff  "captains" prepare salad. We watched him sautee the bacon and shallots, made the vinaigrette and tossed the whole thing together with some Marcona Almonds, the whole thing was topped off with perfectly fried quail eggs, which made a unctuous sauce with its yolk.  The salad was
delicious, with just the perfect amount of wilt on the spinach.  He cooked over a single piece of charcoal, which was much cooler than the sterno or hot plate we've seen at other restaurants.

Then it was time for my favorite thing to eat: meat. Look, we know beef.  Super-Dad's parents own a cattle ranch in Washington's Skagit Valley.  We're not talking a giant, commercial farm here.  Hemlock Highlands is a boutique ranch that raises a small herd of Scottish Highland Cattle for beef.  Their beef is aged for 21 days, an artisanal process that most big farms that supply restaurants don't have time to devote to. This is why seeing that John Howie offers steaks aged for 28, 35 or an astonishing 42 days  blew our minds.  Most restaurants are more concerned about getting their product to the customer as quickly as possible, John Howie cares about quality, and it shows.

For our entree we had a terrible time deciding which cuts of meat to order, everything sounded so good.  We decided that since it was an anniversary dinner we would go with a Tableside for Two choice.  We chose the 36 oz. Prime Bone-in Rib Eye Steak. In case your math is bad, that's two and quarter pounds of steak! It came out looking like something from the Flintstones, just a huge, beautiful cut of meat with a big bone sticking out of it. It's served with roasted vegetables and a Bordelaise sauce that the chef specially prepared to be gluten free.  The tableside service means that this perfectly  medium rare beauty was sliced and plated right in front of us.  It was so, so good.  SD ate all of his steak, the vegetables and the side of wild mushrooms we ordered.  I ate as much of mine as I could and (probably a bit more), and I still had enough leftovers to make an amazing meal the next day.

We almost passed up dessert, but we just can't say no to creme brulee, and this was the best creme brulee we had ever had.  It was perfectly smooth, without a hint of graininess, and just a touch of sweet vanilla.  It was served with a cute heart shaped candle in honor of anniversary.  SD accompanied his with what he called an "awesome" Irish Coffee, and I had an expertly crafted latte.

We left with a few truffles, very full bellies, a wonderful Anniversary memory  and plans to return (they have a Sunday Family Dinner that I bet my geeklings would love)!  The service was impeccable, we especially appreciated the care with which they accommodated Super-Dad's dietary restriction.  The atmosphere was elegant but comfortable, and the food was some of the best we've enjoyed.  Thanks, John Howie Steak for hosting our Anniversary dinner!

For more information and reservations: https://www.johnhowiesteak.com/

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Join ParentingGeekly at SAM Remix on March 13




Hey Seattle Area geeks! I am jazzed to be one of Seattle Art Museum's guest tweeters for their SAM Remix party on March 13th, in celebration of their Indigenous Beauty exhibit. I will be taking over the @iheartsam twitter handle for an hour (Exact time TBA) and will be live tweeting the rest of the event from my twitter handle - @ParentingGeekly.


From SAM:
Choose your own adventure from this fabulous late night of performances, activities, dancing, and more with Indigenous Beauty: Masterworks of American Indian Art from the Diker Collection and SAM’s fantastic collection. No two #SAMRemix events are the same!
Tickets and more info can be found here: http://www.seattleartmuseum.org/visit/calendar/events?EventId=30724

This is a fun way to experience the museum in a non-museum like setting (DJs! Irreverent tours! Rube Goldberg machine making!) and I would love to see some blog readers there. ParentingGeekly readers can get $5 off the ticket price by using the code twitterremix0313 during checkout.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our Anniversary Staycation: The Awesomeness of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue



I am not usually a fan of cutesy portmanteaus: frenemy, vaguebooking, they kind of drive me crazy. There is one exception to this rule: Staycation. A staycation can come in several forms. It can simply mean taking some time off and staying home, but my favorite kind of staycation is the kind where you play tourist in your own town. Super-Dad and I recently had a chance to have a very luxurious staycation to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary. 

We headed over to Bellevue, WA, a short 15 minute drive from our Seattle house. Bellevue is where is Super-Dad grew up, and there was a time not that long ago that taking any kind of trip to Bellevue would have been laughable. It was known for it’s giant shopping mall and wealthy suburbanites, but that’s about it. In the past few years, Bellevue has had a geek renaissance. Microsoft has a huge presence there, T-Mobile is there, Valve (and Steam) are headquartered there. Expedia, Clearwire, Bungie, 5th Cell - all have Bellevue offices. It’s the age of the geek, and Bellevue is the place to be. No longer just Seattle’s dorky neighbor, it’s become a destination all on it’s own. We set out to experience it like tourists, and we had our expectations blown away. 

A particular quirk of downtown Bellevue is that many of the buildings are connected. You never have to leave the indoors and you can even cross streets using a series of skybridges. I had been to the Hyatt Regency Bellevue’s lobby before on a couple of occasions. It opens to a retail area on the lower floor where I’ve met clients for a coffee meeting. I also attended a fantastic event all about holiday tech hosted by the people over at Techlicious in one of the hotel’s spacious meeting spaces. During that event, the Hyatt Regency Bellevue showed off some of it’s cool tech (which I will highlight later), food, rooms and service. It was also at that event that I was gifted a night’s stay at the hotel. 

An anniversary card signed by the hotel staff!
I contacted the hotel a few days before we were planning on visiting to let them know that I would be coming, that I wanted to write it up as a part of this staycation piece, and that Super-Dad and I would be using the opportunity to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. From that point on, we felt like rock stars. The hotel sent us maps,info on local hot spots and information about making our reservation at the hotel’s restaurant, Eques (not only for hotel guests, it’s one of the most popular brunches in Bellevue).

When we arrived, we were delighted to find that we were upgraded to the Kemper Suite, a gorgeous huge suite on the top floor. The room was awesome. Standing in the middle of two seating areas, a dining table that seats 8 and a kitchenette, we decided that when we renew our wedding vows in a few years we will throw a dinner party in the Kemper suite! There was a big TV, and a desktop computer ready to access the internet. Hyatt did a beautiful job of making a room that was both business friendly and luxe. We would have been as comfortable hosting a meeting as we were celebrating a weekend away.

The bedroom had an amazing king poster bed with some of the nicest linens we’ve ever experienced. Seriously, after staying there, Super-Dad suggested that we get new sheets for our king-sized bed, the flannel and t-shirt knit sheets are no longer cutting it. The Kemper Suite has a big soaking tub that is positioned kind of halfway in the bathroom and halfway into the bedroom which was fun because it gave me a view of the TV while I soaked. 

I have a real problem with people who greedily snatch up all the hotel toiletries upon leaving a room. Like, how many tiny bottles of shampoo could you possibly need? It has always seemed so greedy and unnecessary to me - until now. The Hyatt Regency stocks KenetMD bath products, and I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that we pocketed them all. I fell in LOVE with a minty pulse point oil that I swear has given me a little extra pep and patience when I need it. Super-Dad loved a combo linen/facial mist that had a light, spicy (cardamom maybe?) scent. I think we are going to have to go back and stay another night, because we’re both running low.

I could go on and on….we visited the Regency Club for some hors d'oeuvres and a cocktail, lounged some more in our room with a bottle of Hyatt’s exclusive Canvas wine, and enjoyed an early morning room service breakfast (before hitting up the Regency Club again for our mid-morning snack, before hitting up Eques for brunch -we legit ate like Hobbits on this trip). But I know the readers of this blog, and you want to know geeky details. 


What sets the Hyatt Regency Bellevue apart for geeks? It’s at this point that I have to mention the bedroom TV. Super-Dad and I love to settle into bed and watch TV. We have a 42 inch TV in our home bedroom (yes, we know it’s not ideal for sleep hygiene), so we were a bit disappointed that there was no television in the bedroom. As I was about to get into the bath, Super-Dad noticed a remote on the footboard of the bed. It only had buttons for up and down. SD pushed the up button and lo and behold, a TV rose out of the bottom of the bed - turns out it was a motorized TV console positioned to look like a footboard. The TV rotated in all directions, allowing us to watch in the tub, on the sofa facing the bed and in the bed. The TV WAS A TRANSFORMER, you guys! This was probably our favorite part of the room, because we are dorks.

Another favorite feature? Text based concierge. You can text the front desk to ask questions, have toiletries delivered, and arrange transportation or entertainment. The key cards are RFID enabled, so after that bottle of red we didn’t have to worry about sticking key cards in slots the right way, you just touch the key to the door. The lobby has two huge Surface coffee tables. We played a little piano and had a game of chess while hanging out in the lobby.

In case you can’t tell, we love, love, loved staying at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. It’s right in the middle of everything (look for upcoming stories on the food we ate at John Howie Steak and the games we played at Lucky Strike - both within walking distance). Not only was it great for a relaxing couples’ weekend, but with a pool, the fun coffee tables, and the almost continuous availability of snacks in the Regency club, our kids would be totally at home as well.

I also want to take this opportunity to give a shout out the amazing staff. Every single person we dealt with from check in to check out seemed genuinely excited to work with us. It’s was a real delight to work with such competent, lovely people and it made our stay even more delightful.

If you would like to stay at the Hyatt Regency you can find them online here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Barbie finally gets a Superhero Alter-Ego



Okay, so she's still a princess for whatever reason, but I feel about this much like I feel about pink Lego. If this is what gets an otherwise uninterested kid into super heroes (especially female ones!) I'm down. My own daughter likes Barbie AND superheroes, so it's great to see the folks at Barbie embrace that you can be a girly girl and like to take down the villains too!


Here is the synopsis from Universal Home Entertainment:

SYNOPSIS Barbie Princess Power: Barbie™ stars as Kara™, a modern-day princess with an everyday life. One day, after being kissed by a magical butterfly, Kara™ soon discovers she has super powers allowing her to transform into Super Sparkle™, her secret, crime-fighting alter ego who flies around the kingdom ready to save the day! But it’s not long before her jealous cousin catches the butterfly and also transforms – this time into Dark Sparkle™, her nemesis. Their rivalry takes to the skies, but when they discover the kingdom’s true enemy, can they put aside their differences to form one super team? Soar to new heights and discover that there’s no greater power than the power of friendship!


The movie is released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 3rd. Want a copy? Universal Studios Home Entertainment has offered me FIVE(!) copies of the blu-ray to give to ParentingGeekly readers. Enter for your chance below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 19, 2015

More Wearables! G G Watch R and Martian Notifier




I LOVE Wearable technology. Love, love, love it. It combines some of my favorite things; the ability to be always connected, metrics and data, and shiny jewelry and tech. Team Feliciano has tried tons of wearables, and we love getting the opportunity to try out more.

Recently AT&T Seattle loaned me some watch style wearables to try. For the past month or so we have been giving the Martian Notifier and LG G Watch R a go. Here’s what we thought:

LG G Watch R
This is a sexy watch. I loved the way it looked, especially it’s circular face with a true circular display (the Moto 360, a watch with a similar look and round face, still had a weirdly rectangular display that showed its bottom edge). It looks, for the most part, like a watch. Unlike every other smart watch we’ve tried, this one has a real leather band, which can be swapped with any appropriately sized watch band of your choosing. This is a neat feature that not only allows you to personalize the watch, but helps extend the life. The drawback here is that the watch face is pretty darn big. This is definitely sized like a men’s watch. I have very petite wrists and It was pretty uncomfortable for me to wear. Nate, at age 14, has wrists a bit bigger than me, found it to be just fine. After I deemed the watch too uncomfortable, he wore it for the most of the month.

The G Watch R is also a “Pure” Android device. it runs Google’s Android Wear, as opposed to a watch like the Samsung Gear, which runs proprietary software over the Android framework. This seemed to make the watch a bit more zippy, with virtually no lag. Coming off the Samsung experience, there was a bit of a learning curve with the interface. Not surprisingly, Nate was the first to really get it, and once he did he found it very easy to navigate.

Nate’s favorite features were the pedometer and the heart rate monitor. He really liked that there are many watch faces to choose from, and his favorite looked like a regular watch that had subtle dials for steps taken and current heart rate. We have offered him wearables that were simply for step tracking, but he has never really been interested. I think that the fact that the G Watch R looks like a cool watch, but has the ability to show steps discreetly makes this a health tracking device that even an image conscious teenager can get behind.

The charging situation with smart watches has been a problem since their introduction, and I don’t think that any of the ones we have tried have really solved that yet, and this is no exception. The charging cradle has the benefit of a magnet, which only slightly mitigates the awkward cradle fit.

It has a nice, crisp OLED display. The battery conserving properties of the OLED allows the G Watch R to have an “always on” mode that always shows the time, just another step towards smart watches actually working like a traditional watch.


Nate got about 3 - 4 days of battery life when the watch wasn’t connected to his phone (to honestly use it as a watch and not a “device” at school, it was better for him to sync it at home). When it was constantly connected via bluetooth, the battery life was about 2 days, which is pretty respectable, and a small improvement over other smart watches we’ve tried.

Nate was upset when I told him our review period was over and he’d have to give the watch back. This is the first piece of tech that I’ve brought home that has really gotten him excited. WIth a $300 price tag, I’m not sure that it’s in the budget as a gift for a teen. This is totally a contender for me to buy for myself once my current smart watch bites the dust, though.


Martian Notifier Smartwatch




We took this one out, and Kitty summarized all of our feelings about it pretty well. “PopPop would like that”. This is a smartwatch that is first and foremost a watch. It, once again, was too big for my tiny wrists (c’mon smartwatch designers, ladies like gadgets, too!). The face was a bit more comfortable for me than the G Watch R, but the rather large rubbery watch band once again made this look more like a man’s watch than a unisex time piece. The face size shouldn't be too much of an issue on this one, a majority of the face is an actual, analog watch with just a small sliver along the bottom for the screen. Hopefully Martian will be able to offer a Ladies’ Notifier in the future. Currently the Notifier comes in red, white or black. AS with the G Watch R, the straps are interchangeable with any watch band, and the Martian also offers “quick change” watchbands in nine colors ($20) that can be swapped out without using tools.

If subtlety is your game, this is the smart watch for you. I can imagine this being used by anyone who wants to discreetly stay connected without the flash of a OLED, touch screen, and speaker equipped mini-computer. It syncs with both Android and iOS devices, making it one of the few options out there for Apple devotees. It will sync with almost any app that can push notifications to your phone. You can change the watch’s settings to vibrate differently for each app, a helpful feature for knowing which of your notifications need your immediate attention (waiting for an important text or email?) and allowing you to ignore notifications that can be saved for later (SportsCenter, Facebook, and Clash of Clans, all apps that can be set up to send notifications).

I love that you can set up the Notifier as a “leash”, it will tell you when your phone is out of range; and you can have the Notifier make your phone ring if you've ever misplaced it. It’s one of the valuable features for me, as I seem to misplace my phone multiple times a day.

There are a few detractors here, even when taking it’s purposely limited scope into consideration.

The Martian Notifier is *this* close to having the charging system I want to see in wearables. It has a port right on the side of the watch, and you just plug it in, which is awesome. The downside? The micro USB port is set really deeply into the side of the watch, meaning it needs a ridiculously long proprietary USB connector that seems really delicate to me. I didn’t have any problems when I used it, but being in an active household with two kids, I was constantly concerned that it would snap off the cord. The charging port on the watch requires a cover to be snapped into place to keep the splash resistant qualities intact. Yes, it’s splash resistant and not water proof, which seems a step in the wrong direction considering all of the other current smart watches are water proof. You could wear the Notifier while washing your hands, but you’ll have to take it off if you’re going to take a shower. It doesn’t have an onboard speaker, which is probably fine as I would imagine anyone opting for this aesthetic would feel pretty silly talking into their wrist anyway.

Two other points in the Martian Notifier’s favor? This is an affordable piece of tech at $130 MSRP. I also loved the five day battery life and the fact that when that battery does die it still works as...a watch.

Both of these devices are available from AT&T retail stores, your carrier or online.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Win a Red Boom Swimmer Speaker - A perfect Geeky Valentine's Gift

We are media obsessed here, and with our Samsung Galaxy S 5s, we have taken to streaming shows while we shower.  The shower can be pretty loud, and having a waterproof Bluetooth speaker is a necessity.


I suppose you could also play some sweet, sexy tunes and run your Valentine a bath with, like, flowers or whatever, but if you're a reader of this blog you're just as likely to want to watch Game of Thrones during that bath.  Either way, AT&T has your back.  Their “Sweet Heart Sale” happening Feb. 6-19: Get 2 Boom Swimmer speakers (any color - though the red is especially Valentines-y) for $99. (save $31).

The Boom Swimmer Speakers are especially cool because they have a little bendable "tail" that allows you to hang it in a bunch of ways, and attach it to multiple things or coil it into a stand.  It also has a suction cup, for sticking to the shower wall.

Check out the Boom Swimmer Speaker and AT&T's other gift suggestions at http://www.celebrateyoursweetheart.com/

Want to win a red Boom Swimmer Speaker, courtesy of AT&T Seattle?  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What's coming up?

Hey Geeky Parents!  Thought I'd do an quick a post to let you know what you can expect here soon!

My lovely Grandmom Theresa died a few weeks ago.  I traveled back to the mother land (Philadelphia) to attend her services and spend some time with my parents.   While there my dad and I did a bit of genealogy research, and found some very cool ephemera from my family's history. I hope to wrap that project up and share some of that info (and how we found it) soon.

My obsession with wearables continues.  We've been testing out the LG G watch R and the Martian Notifier, and will have those reviews up at the end of this week.

Super-Dad and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on Thursday!   I will have a feature on our anniversary "staycation"  on the blog soon!

Finally, I am reading "Orbital Perspective"  by Astronaut Ron Garand.   I got to speak with Garand while he was orbiting the earth on the ISS a few years ago (how lucky am I!?)  so I'm excited to read his insights!

In my personal life we are getting ready to celebrate Kitty's eighth birthday tomorrow (Eight! She was just a tiny little five pound baby yesterday, I swear!)  and Nate tours our neighborhood high school and alternative school this week in preparation for next year!  High school! What? I'm so old.

For the most frequent info from me follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ant-Man Trailer

Disney released the first (human sized!) trailer for Ant-Man last night during the premiere of Agent Carter.


We get a good look at Scott Lang and Hank Pym, and a brief glance of Hope Van Dyne.  I'm not super duper familiar with the Scott Lang story line, when I think of Ant-Man I think of foul tempered domestic abuser Hank.  No doubt the affable Paul Rudd as Lang will be a bit more sympathetic. I do know that in the Scott Lang storyline in the comics Lang steals the suit (or Pym Particles or something) and that in this trailer he seems to be gifted them by Hank, which again was probably to make the character more likeable.

The screenplay was written by Adam McKay, who is known for Anchorman, Talladega Nights and The Other Guys.  So this should be pretty funny, though you wouldn't really know it from this teaser.

Are you excited for Ant-Man?  It'll be released right around my birthday in July, so I'm pretty pysched!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Why I'm Thankful for our Christmas Flu



For the first time in years I procrastinated in getting our family flu shots.  Guess what?  For the first time in years, we got the flu.  It was a bad one.  Kitty and I were the first to go down with fevers and sore throats.  That happened on December 18th.  The next time we were able to leave the house for anything other than a doctor's appointment was January 3rd.   We were really sick. We had to cancel all of our holiday plans.  We didn't get to go to Grandma's, we didn't get to see Aunt Karen visiting from Alaska, we barely got the kids' presents wrapped.  We sat wrapped in blankets, watching Netflix.

It sounds pretty terrible, huh?  It was. It sucked.  I have to say, though that I am thankful for our Christmas flu.

No, the fever did not affect my brain (though it did reach a kinda scary 104.2!),  I'm not glad we were sick, but I can find the silver lining.  It made us stop.  Any shopping that wasn't done by December 18th didn't get done.  You know what?  There were still plenty of gifts.  All of the last minute things that I usually worry about getting were unnecessary and definitely not missed.   I think the kids appreciated the gifts more; not because there were fewer things, but because the gifts that were there were all the good stuff.  There were no filler gifts for the sake of having even piles or just having more to open.  The most thoughtful gifts were there and it was totally enough!

I wasn't able to stand in line at the post office to ensure timely delivery of gifts for nieces and nephews.  Those boxes are still in my bedroom.  They will go out this week, and my niblings will have new gifts to open during that rough first week back to school, which will be a treat! No one missed our gifts during the onslaught of stuff on Christmas Day, and now they will be able to really appreciate the gifts we send.

We couldn't go anywhere on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  It made me realize that while I love seeing our extended family, there was something magical about just the four of us cuddling and taking care of each other.  We didn't have to worry about rushing through our family time in order to be dressed and ready to get somewhere in time for a 4 o'clock dinner (seriously, why do we eat so early on holidays?).  I managed enough strength to put a pork shoulder in the crock pot, which no one ate, but made the house smell nice. We all had popsicles and watched Die Hard.  It was a very Feliciano Christmas, and it was kind of awesome.

I had to ask for help. It's always hard to ask for help, but I did it.  When we were totally out of Gatorade and popsicles (the only thing we were eating) I took friends up on their offers of grocery delivery.  It made us feel so loved and cared for, and so appreciative of the family we have created through friendships here in Seattle.

We are better now (well, I have some lingering complications from a ruptured ear drum, but we are mostly better) and I've learned from this flu.  I've learned that it's okay to slow down, that what you have is usually enough and that nothing is better than being with the people you love the most.  All that learned, and I only had to clean up a little puke.

Also:  Get your flu shot.  It's not too late.  All this silver-lining stuff is nice, but the flu can kill you.

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