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26 November 2013

New app: Eggy Numbers to 100

Yesterday ABC Reading Eggs released another wonderful app for your iPad and iPhone.  Aimed at children aged 6 to 8, Eggy Numbers to 100 teaches number skills - counting, addition, estimation, and multiples – in a fun way, through six interactive games, with fun sounds and animations.



The games use tap and ‘touch and drag’ functions – drag numbers to the right spot to arrange them in order; burst balloons to identify the correct addition answers; match number dot to dots then ‘paint’ the resulting picture; identify number multiples by zapping space bugs, and more.  Each game progresses through 2-3 levels of difficulty, with each level using higher numbers, earning cute ‘Mashies’ rewards along the way. 



As well as having the instructions for each game displayed on the screen before the game starts, those instructions are also spoken to your child – so they can easily understand what to do.  You can also choose the voice you prefer – Australian, US or British.

Eggy Numbers to 100 is available from the App Store for $2.99

If you have a younger child, ABC Reading Eggs also has Eggy Numbers 1-10 for $1.99. 

If you've been following this blog for a while you’ll know that ABC Reading Eggs creates my favourite educational apps.  You can read what I've written about some of their other wonderful apps below










25 November 2013

Christmas Cards - Techie Alternatives


Every November I plan to write out all my Christmas cards and post them off to all my relatives and friends so they receive them early in December.  That’s the plan!  However, the reality is I usually get around to it in the second week of December and then usually in batches a few days apart.  I hate it when I haven’t sent my cards and I start receiving them.  Every year it gets later and later – or should I say, harder and harder to write out all those cards!


One of my cousins has emailed all her usual Christmas card recipients to tell them they will not be receiving cards this year – instead they are donating to the Philippines Typhoon appeal in the names of all those who they normally send cards to, and they have requested that we don’t send them cards too.  I like the sound of that. 

I have noticed that more Christmas cards are arriving in my inbox instead of my letterbox, so I thought I might investigate some alternatives this year too.  So, here’s what my research has produced – my favourite techie alternatives to the traditional Christmas card…..


Farm Africa 

Farm Africa is a charity working directly with farmers to pioneer techniques to boost harvests and reduce poverty. Send an e-card and each one you send will help African farmers provide for their families.  Just create an account, select your card, buy credits, personalise you card with a message and send it to one person or your entire email address book.  You can send from one card (GBP1), up to 50 cards (GBP20).


Red Stamp

Red Stamp allows you to create modern cards, notes, announcements and invitations for any occasion from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.  There are 600+ designs to choose from, each with multiple colour schemes, and you’ll never be stuck for what to say with prompts written by etiquette experts.  Many of the designs will allow you to upload a photo from your camera roll or take a picture and add it from within the app.  Once you’ve created your card you can email it, save it to your Camera Roll, text it, share it on Facebook or Tweet it.  The basic version is free, with in-app purchases for premium features.






Appygraph eCards

Another free iOS app, with over 100 designs and regular new additions, you can add photos directly from your camera roll, personalise with your message, then email, save to your camera roll, or share via AirDrop, Facebook or Twitter. 










Greeting Card Maker

This great app is for iOS and Android phones and tablets.  You can create a custom card - Select your background, choose from over 500 images and clips, or draw your own, choose your font and font colour for your message, and you’re done. Or you can choose a readymade card.  Your card can be emailed, saved, or shared via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  It’s free, but with in-app purchase of add-on card packs.
Available at the Play Store or App Store 



Touchnote – Christmas Edition 

If you’d like to send real Christmas cards this is the app for you.  Use your own photos to create beautiful Christmas postcards or greeting cards.  Christmas postcards can be sent almost anywhere in the world (Christmas deadline for most is 17 December) for $1.49 or less.  The post cards are printed and sent from the USA, Australia, UK and Germany.  You can send Christmas cards too, but they are printed and sent from the UK, so they take a lot longer to arrive (deadline 3 December) for $2.28 or less.
You can also use Touchnote on your computer – www.touchnote.com
Free for Android from the Play Store and iOS from the App Store



Jacquie Lawson e-cards 


This is what I've decided to go with.  For an annual fee of AUD12 I can send unlimited animated e-cards throughout the year, and they really are beautiful.  There are cards for every occasion and the hardest part will be choosing which one.  You can even create an address book so all your email addresses are stored for birthdays, anniversaries etc. 




Especially for Christmas they have a gorgeous animated Edwardian advent calendar.  This isn't an e-card, but a software download and every day from 1st to 25th December a new animated story or interactive game becomes available to view.  The advent calendar is free for you with the normal subscription – but you can also give it as a gift for $2 each for 10 or more copies.  I think that would make a beautiful gift that I think would more than makeup for not getting an actual Christmas card.  Take a look at the advent calendar here.

Do you still send real Christmas cards?  If you don't what do you use?


14 November 2013

An Android 'iPod'




I first posted this in December 2012, but it is still such a great idea that it deserves a second run..... with a little updating.  





My youngest son has asked for an iPod Touch for Christmas.  I know quite a few of his friends have them and I don’t really have a problem with him having one, except for the price.  Close to $300 is a bit much when he won't be happy if that’s the only present he gets, and I don’t want Santa getting the credit for giving him his favourite present!

So, I came up with a solution which will make us both happy.  I bought a new Android smart phone with a prepaid account on the same network that I use.  I didn't activate the phone and I didn't need to use the SIM card that came with it.  I just inserted the SIM from my phone, which worked immediately, to set up the phone and link to my Google Play account.  Once that was set up I removed the SIM.  With the phone connected to our home Wi-Fi I downloaded the games my son wants (Angry Birds Star Wars, Bad Piggies etc) from Google Play.  New games can be added whenever we like, but I still have control over what is downloaded because I have to enter my Google password as authorisation.



I had already downloaded the music my son wanted to my computer (I use Bandit.fm for music), so I connected the phone via USB to my computer and transferred the music to his new phone. 

Now my son will get what he wants for Christmas at a fraction of the cost of an iPod.  I paid $79 ($50 off the normal price) for a new Android 4.0 smart phone with a 3.5 inch screen, FM radio, MP3 player and as many games as he wants.  Without the SIM card it cannot be used as a phone and the only internet connection is at home when it can connect to our Wi-Fi (although I'm not going to let him know that).  Of course, when my son needs a phone in the next year or two I just need a new prepaid SIM card – he already has the phone.

If you’re upgrading your phone, your old phone can be a great boredom buster for your child – just download their favourite games and music - no SIM card required.  However, depending on the phone brand, if you don’t have access to Wi-Fi you’ll need to leave the SIM in the phone while you download the games so you can use Bluetooth to connect to Google Play.  Once the games are downloaded you can remove the SIM card. 

Unlike iPhones, you can buy Android phones with older versions of the Android operating system.  Make sure you buy one with Android 4.0 and higher, otherwise you'll find that a lot of games won't be able to run on the phone.  

Also, buy the highest capacity micro-SD card you can get, that way you can move the games over to the SD card and off the phone - Android phones are notorious for their lack of internal storage.

11 November 2013

Eve's Power Bank winner




Thank you to everyone who entered the Eve’s Power Bank giveaway.

We have a winner – Lisa!

Lisa, could you please email me your address and I will post your pearl white Power Bank to you straight away.

Keep following my Christmas Techie Gift Guide for more ideas for presents and more giveaways.

If you missed this post you can read all about this wonderful device here

07 November 2013

The perfect 'first' keyboard



Here’s the perfect first keyboard for young children. 




The Jenkins Junior Early Learning keyboard is a standard QWERTY keyboard but with some added features to help young children become familiar with a keyboard. 

The keys are grouped by colour to differentiate the different parts of the keyboard and get them used to where the keys are located.  For example, all the numbers, both along the top of the keyboard and on the numeric keypad are red.




The vowels and consonants are different colours to help them find the letter they’re after.

The keyboard also features nine smaller hot keys along the top of the keyboard to enable multimedia controls and internet navigation. 

It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7, and Mac OS X 10.5 or later, connecting via a USB port.

THE PRICE?

All Officeworks stores in Australia are currently selling this keyboard for $7   
There is only limited stock and you’ll find it in the clearance boxes near the registers.  It isn’t available through Officeworks online, only in store.  My local Officeworks – Mona Vale NSW - had about 20 yesterday morning.


If you'd like your child to learn how to type, I recommend BBC Dance Mat Typing - you can read my review here


06 November 2013

A techie way to send a traditional postcard

Here’s a clever way to combine the modern with the traditional.  Not that long ago, if you were travelling you would buy a postcard and send it to your family and friends back home to make them feel jealous/keep in touch while you are away!

Now there’s a techie way to do the same thing.  The Postcards app from Australia Post lets you use a photo taken with your iPhone, iPad or iPod and convert it into an actual postcard, which will then be delivered within Australia or overseas.  The message on the back of your postcard will even be converted into a handwritten-style font.  This would be perfect for keeping in touch with the non-techie or elderly relations back home.






It costs $1.99 to deliver anywhere in Australia (even if you’re sending it from overseas), and $2.99 to any international address.  You can pay with MasterCard, Visa or PayPal.


The Postcards app can be downloaded for free from the App Store.  If you are downloading to an iPad look for it under the iPhone apps.

04 November 2013

Eve's Power Bank



Today is the start of my 2013 Christmas Techie Gift Guide.  Twice each week until Christmas I will be reviewing and writing about products that I consider would make good Christmas presents - with a techie flavour.








Eve's Power Bank

Our smartphones and tablets have now eliminated so many other things that used to fill up our handbags – notepad, diary, address book, camera, MP3 player, books; and we rely on them for so many tasks – our phones are no longer just for making calls and sending texts.  There is one glitch in our reliance on our mobile devices – battery power.  If we forget to charge them occasionally we can be ‘stranded’ – out of touch & out of reach.  Even if you do remember to plug it in to charge; have you ever left the house without your phone because you forgot it was plugged in charging?   I do it all the time, I mean – I DID it all the time – but not anymore.  Look what now lives in my handbag! 

This is an Eve’s Power Bank – how cute is it? 



Eve’s Power Bank is a portable charger for your smartphone, tablet and most other mobile devices.  It has its own internal battery that can be drawn from to top up the power in your devices. 

The Power Bank can be charged up by plugging it into mains power using its cable connected to the USB port on a power plug (from one of my phones’ charging cables), or you can charge it by connecting it to a USB port on your computer.  Once it’s charged, pop it into your bag and you’re ready for the next time the battery in your devices gets a bit low.

Eve’s Power Bank comes beautifully packaged in a little box, which includes a collection of 10 swappable connector tips for just about everything you could possibly want to charge.  However, if there happens to be a device that there isn't a connector for, you can just use the cable that came with that device to connect it to the USB port on your Power Bank. 



To charge your devices you just connect it to your Power Bank and press down on the leaf on top to turn it on.  Then you’ll see what I think is one of the best features of this device – four lights indicate how much charge is left. 

Along the bottom edge, you’ll find three ports – one normal USB, one micro-USB and a special USB port for iPads.  Having more than one port means that you can charge more than one device at the same time.  With a full charge, my Eve’s Power Bank fully charged my LG phone, and my son’s completely flat Huawei at the same time, and there was still enough charge to top up my husband’s Samsung phone.  That was with the standard 3200 mAh capacity Power Bank, but if you carry a lot of devices, you might prefer the high capacity 6400 mAh. 

Eve’s Power Bank is very light, only 90 grams, and compact – just the right size to not get lost in your bag.  It also comes in six gorgeous colours – hot pink, pink, apple green, lime, sky blue and pearl white.  The higher capacity Power Bank is slightly heavier and a little thicker.




I've lost track of the number of times my little apple has come to my (and my family’s) rescue over the last few weeks.  No more hoping a phone will last until it can be plugged in – you’re not restricted to a mains power for charging when you have a Power Bank.  My sons are always using my iPad, which means I usually grab it on the way out the door and find that the power is about to run out.  Now I can just leave it connected to my Power Bank in my bag and give it a power top up.

Eve’s Power Bank is from Roaming Connections; an Australian owned and operated company who source stylish, practical and innovative technology solutions, including the largest range of power banks in Australia.  You can buy your Eve’s Power Bank from their website for $44.95 for the standard 3200 mAh, or $69.95 for the higher capacity 6400 mAh.  

This would be a great Christmas presents for anyone who uses mobile devices – so, ANYONE!

If you run a business, this could also be a great idea for a corporate gift – they can be personalised with your business logo, and it only takes about four weeks for custom printing, so there’s still plenty of time before Christmas.



A GIVEAWAY


Roaming Connections have very kindly provided an Eve’s Power Bank for one of you to win.  To enter you just have to 
  • Like the Roaming Connections Facebook Page here 
  • Like Techie Mum on Facebook if you don’t already
  • Tell me, in the comments on the blog, which Techie related gift you would like to receive for Christmas



In addition to the prize, Roaming Connections would also like to offer my readers a very special deal.  Just use the promo code TECHIEMUM and you will receive a free iPhone5 to USB cable with any purchase from the Roaming Connections website.  Just click on the link below to be taken straight to the site and see the range



Disclosure: 

Roaming Connections provided me with one Eve’s Power Bank that I could trial and review, and one as a giveaway for my readers.   I will never promote a product on Techie Mum that I don’t really like.


Giveaway Terms & Conditions

  • This competition is a game of chance.
  • Submit your entry in a comment at the bottom of this post.  You don’t need a Google account.  Just sign in as anonymous and leave your email address.
  • Like Techie Mum on Facebook here – if you don’t already.
  • Like Roaming Connections on Facebook here
  • This competition is open to Australian Residents only.  
  • The competition is open for six days – from Monday 4 November 2013 to Saturday 9 November 2013. 
  • The winner will be randomly chosen from those who have entered on Sunday 10 November 2013.
  • The winner will be announced on Monday 11 November on the Techie Mum blog, Facebook page, and Twitter. 
  • The winner will be contacted via the email address provided.  The winner has four days to reply; otherwise the prize will be redrawn.

This giveaway has now closed and a winner has been selected.  Make sure you follow Techie Mum on Facebook so you don't miss any future giveaways.

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