Technology

Comment: Memories of Technological Advancements

On the recommendation of a friend who attended the True North tech conference in Waterloo a couple of months ago, I listened to the book Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations written by Thomas L. Friedman who was a speaker at the conference. The book was interesting. In it, Friedman talks about the intersection of three major forces affecting current and future generations: globalization, technology, and climate change. The book has made me think about how I use technology every day, how I wish I could use it, how I avoid it, and what I may experience in the future. 

Things, as we know, change rapidly these days. Just a few weeks ago, I ran into an issue with my DVD player…as in, I hadn’t used my DVD player for 6 years, so when I tried to use it to watch DVDs I took out from the library, I couldn’t because I didn’t have any cords to connect the DVD player to my TV. Cords? Wires? This felt like an ancient set-up! A friend lent me a bunch of cords and in this pile, I found the one I needed. Colour-coded pieces of plastic on either end of the cords…one set to hook into my DVD player, the other set for my TV. It felt like an unncessary challenge even though not too long ago, this was our only option to watch movies at home. 

More recently, when I was cleaning up my office, I came across one of my first ever cassette tapes – The Minipops – and I thought, what am I going to do with a cassette now? I don’t have any way to play it! So did I get rid of it? No, of course not. How could I get rid of The Minipops? I’m holding on to this tape for nostalgic purposes.

So Friedman’s book, combined with these two recent experiences, has had me reflecting on other defining memories of technology in my life.

In elementary school, I remember when my dad brought home an electric typewriter. I actually remember its arrival into our home. It was white and grey. Typing seemed to go at lightening speed! I typed short stories and reports for school on that thing. I felt so fancy. I think it may still be in my parents’ basement. I wonder if it’ll feel fast if I go type on it now.

If you lived in Canada in the 1980s, and you banked at Canada Trust, then you may remember the roll out of the Johnny Cash machine…an automated teller. I remember the Johnny Cash machine because my mom worked at the bank at the time, and talked all about the Johnny Cash machine and how it was going to change the work of tellers. I remember her talking about setting up, using, restocking, reconciling the “Johnny Cash”. Oh my goodness, just thinking about it makes me laugh. Watch this Johnny Cash machine commercial for a walk down memory lane.

In Grade 13, I remember sitting in computer class (not typing class, but actual coding class) and my teacher was teaching us about the world wide web. We explored Yahoo. During that same year, I had a friend who was quite tech savvy and taught me about ICQ, which was an online space for chatting. At night, when we were at home, instead of calling, we’d meet on ICQ. It would take what felt like hours to get the computer and modem in my parents’ basement up and running. And then my friend and I would be on ICQ chatting about nothing in particular. No phone calls. Just online chats about homework and such.

When I was graduating and applying to universities, I applied to computer science programs, just barely knowing what computer science was all about. My sister’s friend was finishing her degree in computer science, and everyone told me that there would be so many jobs if I had a computer science degree. I took computer science in my first year at university, and I remember learning computer coding like JAVA to get little worms to move across the screen. I remember spending hours in the computer lab trying to figure out code. I liked it, but didn’t love the non-social aspect of my program, so I dropped it and continued on with French, which had always been my major. Coding now? Kids can do it on apps! Oh, how things have changed!

When I was studied in France in my third year of university, I walked down the street to the Internet café or public library to send emails home. It was part of my daily or weekly routine. I sent letters, too, at the time, but emails were immediate, so by the time anyone received my mailed letters, they were full of old news. I remember creating a new email address just to categorize the stories from France. My parents printed every email I sent. Every single email. They gave me the stack of emails on my return. Printed emails. Can you imagine? Now my parents are more into texting on WhatsApp and using FaceTime than they are into emails.

It was also in France that I got my first cell phone. It was dirt cheap to buy and maintain. I’m not sure if it was because I was in Europe, but text messaging at the time was called SMS (which stands for short message service). People would say, Envoie moi un SMS (Send me an SMS). I loved my little portable (cell phone). It was blue, and the buttons were squishy. I think I still have it stored away in my parents’ house. I should really find the little blue cell phone and store it alongside my old cassette tapes.

In about 2006 or so, I was doing my masters and one of my friends introduced me to this thing called Facebook. At the time, it was a messaging system that was only for university students to communicate with other university students. It was such a closed community! He told me about “some guy” who started Facebook in the United States, and it was only now being rolled out into Canadian institutions. I think I felt privileged to be a student, so I could have access to it. It was during my PhD, about seven years after I first joined Facebook, that I deleted it completely. I have been without Facebook for about seven years now, and I don’t miss it.

I remember when my friend Johanne started Fashion in Motion, a fashion blog, in about 2007 or so. She posted about her blog on Facebook at the time, and I was intrigued, but confused. I remember having coffee with her somewhere in Toronto where she explained to me what a blog was. I thought it was so interesting. An online platform to share ideas. I ended up writing a weekly column on Fashion in Motion, which then gave me the confidence and know-how to start White Cabana in 2010.

Most recently, just a few months ago actually, Kitchener-Waterloo launched the region’s light rail – the ION. This has been a major piece of news for the Waterloo region for years. I feel that the ION has made our region modern, efficient, and ready for future growth. Unlike Canada Trust all those years ago who hired Johnny Cash to be the face of the automatic teller machine (ATM, by the way!), the ION did not launch with a celebrity. It may have been fun if Justin Bieber came back to the region as the face of the ION. Imagine!

These are some of the strong memories I have of the impact of technology in my own life. I know it’s cliché, but it really is hard to believe how fast technology changes. It does not seem so long ago that I was playing The Minipops on my yellow Sony sport walkman!

Two For Tuesday: Headphones

Are you into mini or large headphones? For what purposes?

Apple Airpods, $219 CAD, Best Buy

Bose headphones, $269.99 CAD, Best Buy

I use the set that came with my iPhone – usually when I’m driving – and another set for my iPod when I (sometimes) use it. I have yet to try sound-proofing headphones for travel even though I know they’re a popular option.

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Marketplace: Rowenta Humidifier Review

Unfortunately, winter is still here. Some mornings, I wake up hopeful that spring has arrived. But I should know better. Winter will likely last for the remainder of this month. Ugh.

And with winter weather comes dry air. Dry skin. Stuffy noses. For me, at least. How do I combat the dry air in my home?

With a humidifier, of course!

I have used a humidifier during winter months for just about 10 years now, and I have always noticed an improvement in how my skin feels. My old humidifier stopped working a couple of months, and the replacement that I bought was useless. Returned it a day after I used it – or tried to use it – it didn’t work. I had spent just under $100 for the humidifier, so it certainly wasn’t top of the line, but it wasn’t one of those $20 versions either.

And here’s where the story takes a happy turn – in comes Rowenta to save the day! I reached out to Rowenta to inquire about their humidifiers. I have always heard great things about their irons (that’s on my wish list, too, by the way…do you know how many white shirts I wear each week!?), so I thought they might know a thing or two about steam!

Rowenta sent over the HU5120HO Aqua Control humidifier. My first impression was that it was a super sleek machine. Clean lines, compact design, and less bulky than my last humidifier.

But looks are only part of the story, right? (p.s. I would have preferred the water tank to be clear instead of blue.) How has it been working for me? Let me do a bit of a play-by-play for you.

Night 1

I had gotten home so late on the day that the humidifier arrived, so I didn’t give it much more than a quick look. I poured Brita water into it (because I was aiming for the best possible water quality – that only lasted for night 1, by the way), waited 10 minutes for the water to settle/regulate (I didn’t know I was supposed to do this, but there was a quick set-up guide that I scanned), plugged it in, pressed the power button, an auto button, and went to bed.

The blue display light was on, and since I was zombie-like, I didn’t even notice that there was a light-off button. Instead, I stuck a black bag in front of the light so I wouldn’t notice it while I slept. Ha ha. Such a zombie! I need more sleep!

I don’t even know what setting I had it on the first night, but when I woke up in the morning, I definitely noticed that the air in my bedroom was “fresh.” I wasn’t as stuffed up.  My skin was okay. Not perfect, but definitely an improvement.

Night 2

Once again, I had little time to read about the features of the humidifier, so I pressed a couple of buttons and hoped for the best. I’m making it sound like this humidifier is complicated to use, but it’s not. I have just been working like crazy that by the time I’m ready for bed, I just really go to sleep. And deeply, too!

On night 2, I did learn that the light button controls the display light as well as the blue light from the water tank. Awesome! No more blue light reflecting on my white walls!

I used the medium steam setting, and it worked well. I slept soundly, and my skin felt less dry when I woke up in the morning. Again, the air felt fresh.

Night 3

Okay. On night 3, I had about 5 minutes to look at the buttons more closely before I fell asleep (are you noticing a pattern?). I was thrilled to discover the different automated settings – auto, baby, and night. I opted for night which meant that no lights were on. And the system would shut-off once ideal humidity was reached. Genius! I set the humidifier to night mode and fell asleep. Good to go.

Night 4 and Beyond

So that’s just a quick recap of my first three nights with the Rowenta humidifier. I’ve been using it nightly, and I absolutely notice the difference in air quality, my sleeping, and how I feel in the morning. I’ve tried a few of the settings, but I most often use the night mode. It’s easy.

I honestly didn’t expect to see such a difference in the quality between my previous humidifiers and the Rowenta, but there is a difference. I thought the higher price point (about $230CAD) was for the name brand, but it isn’t. This humidifier is sleek, well-designed, and has multiple features and settings. It is a major improvement over my previous humidifiers and I’m very happy with it.

Beyond what I’ve shared, here are some additional features of the humidifier:

  • cool-mist
  • 3 steam settings
  • automatic humidity regulation
  • 3 modes – auto, baby, and night
  • timer
  • up to 18 hours of run time
  • covers 500sq feet
  • humidity control setting

Finally, a couple of people asked me some questions on this Instagram post, so I thought I’d include my answers here:

  1. Is it suitable for work? Yes, if you have your own office. The different modes, timer, and steam settings allow for good control of the steam. The cool mist is office-friendly, I’d say. If you work in an open space, then the humidifier’s mist will spread, so be sure to ask your office mates if they’re okay with it.
  2. How does your skin feel? Definitely, definitely, definitely better. I was pretty annoyed with waking up with dry skin. After a few nights, I noticed an improvement. It’s been working well for a couple of weeks now.
  3. Do you notice a difference in the moisture level when I enter the room? I keep the humidifier in my bedroom, and I only run it during the night. When I wake up in the morning, I certainly notice a difference in the moisture level. The best way I seem to be able to describe it as is “fresh.” I really should have it on during the day, too. Maybe this weekend!
  4. What are the settings and is it a cool mist? There are several settings. My old humidifier had two – high and low. This one has three modes, a timer, programmable humidity levels, three steam power options. The highest steam setting emits the most noise, but I don’t find this bothersome. It’s soothing, actually.

And before I leave you for today, I should just note that the recommended humidity level is between 50% and 60%. The screen on my humidifier reads 25% when I first plug it in.

Learn more about the Rowenta HU5120 humidifier if you’d like.

Thanks to Rowenta for sponsoring this post. All photos, thoughts, and opinions are my own.

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Two for Tuesday: Dyson Design Duo

My parents recently gifted me a Dyson vacuum cleaner, and, oh my goodness, I ADORE it! I didn’t think I could actually like vacuuming. The Dyson is incredible. It sucks everything up, it’s easy to maneuver, and it’s lightweight to carry up and down the stairs. Beyond this, it is so smartly constructed. The extension hose hides away in the handle area/back spine of the vacuum, and the container empties with a simple push of the button. How have I never owned one of these? Living in a house that has wall-to-wall carpet – gosh, it is changing the way I feel about my most disliked chore!

DC66Animal_Content_378x420_Hero

Dyson DC66 vacuum

Dyson has recently launched its first hair dryer. I want it. I don’t know much about it, but I want it. I just feel that it would make my hair look so darn good!

Dyson-Hair-Dryer

Dyson Supersonic hair dryer

Technology: Back in Action with the MacBook Air

My apologies for the surprise inconsistent posting on the blog last week. I experienced a bit of a blogging hiccup.

You see, my MacBook decided to quit on me last weekend after an unfortunate run-in with a few drops of coffee. Grr…

I researched the pros/cons of the various MacBook laptops for a week and finally opted for the Air. It’s been just a few days, but I’m already pleased with my purchase. The keyboard is very nice for typing, the screen is clear, and it’s so darn light. Yes, I know that this is one of its highly desirable features, but I didn’t really realize how great it was until now.

Here’s a snapshot of the unboxing:

White-Cabana-Macbook AirThe neatly organized package has my heart!

Technology: My Life with TomTom

TomTom has entered my life…and has become my new BFF. Before I left for Florida, TomTom generously sent over two items for my trip: the Runner Cardio watch and the GO 500. I have previously written about my experience with the Runner Cardio watch, but I haven’t yet reviewed the GO 500. Well, folks, today is the day.

White-Cabana-TomTom-GO500-1the TomTom Go500 unboxed

I am generally good with directions, and I have been loyal to paper maps ever since I started driving at age 16. Heading into this recent vacation, however, I knew I wanted to explore a bit more of Florida than just the beach, and I had a feeling that the TomTom would allow me to do so easily.

In the 3 weeks that I was in Florida, I felt so free with the TomTom. I felt like I could drive without stress because I knew I would never get lost. My friend and I put the TomTom to very good use to explore Tampa and Orlando, and it was amazing. It chose the fastest routes, quickly recalibrated if we hit construction, and spoke to use clearly and at ideal times (e.g., before upcoming turns).

Features that I am really enjoying in the GO500 include:
– list of voice selection (mine is currently set to American Richard)
– large clear screen with good contrast levels between image and background (worked great for both daytime and nighttime driving)
– alternate route options with time estimations (I used this quite a bit if I hit traffic or I wanted a break from highway driving)
– speed of search
– easy to use touch screen and keyboard
– zoom options for maps (I generally liked the close up version of the streets, but I also used the overview quite a bit to help me get a sense of the area)
– volume control (driving during rainstorms was loud, so increasing the volume was useful and easy to do)
– safety camera alert
– lane guidance images (to visually show what lane you’re supposed to be in)

White-Cabana-TomTom-GO500-4TomTom’s screen and menu screen

The TomTom took my friend and I to Tampa, Orlando, and around St. Petersburg, and it never let us down. It was ridiculously convenient to throw it (gently) into the car and head out to discover new places in unknown (to us) parts of Florida.

White-Cabana-TomTom-GO500-3heading into Orlando with the TomTom guiding every turn

White-Cabana-TomTom-GO500-2the TomTom can be recharged even when it is in its windshield holder (I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t discover this for quite some time…oops)

I don’t know how many times I said “I love my TomTom” and “Why did I wait so long to get one?” over the course of the past couple of months. Honestly. For a traveler like me, it’s sort of unbelieveable that I only got one now. The TomTom makes me feel safe, and it’s going to come in very handy in the months ahead as well as I continue to take road trips near and far.

Many thanks to Meaghan B. and TomTom for providing me with these items. All opinions are my own.

Technology: The TomTom Runner Cardio Watch

Fitness. I don’t know about you, but every time I hear the word fitness, this song comes to mind (and the lyrics…I be up in the gym just working on my fitness). These days, I get my fitness routine in through my walks to/from work, to/from the grocery store, to/from Uptown Waterloo…well, you get the idea…I walk quite a bit here in Waterloo!

I have run quite a bit in the past, but in recent years, I’ve gotten out of the running circuit (for no particular reason besides the usual excuse of lack of time).

And I’ve never been a fan of the gym.

Now that I’m in Florida for a couple of weeks, I’m finding it really easy to work on my fitness. The beach just calls my name, and going for walks along the shore is really a major highlight of my time here (and year, actually). The beach goes on forever, and as long as my legs will take me places, I’ll keep on walking!

This summer, TomTom kindly sent over its RunnerCardio watch for me to test out, and the timing could not have been more perfect.

Here it is in white:

tomtom-watch-runner-cardio-2tomtom-watch-runner-cardio-3 tomtom-watch-runner-cardio-1I’ve been wearing the watch for a few weeks now to track my walks. It’s a sleek little thing that is very comfortable to wear, and it tracks my distance, progress, calories burned, pace, and heart beat rate. Yes, even heart beat! I love that feature.

White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-1 White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-4 White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-3 White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-2unboxing my TomTom Runner Cardio (not yet charged)

White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-7walking and tracking

White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-10paused for a jump

White-Cabana-TomTom-RunnerCardio-9blooper jump

I’m still learning about all its features. It seems like every day I learn something new about this little sleek watch. If you have any advice, please let me know!

Pop Up! The Waterlogue App

Have you heard about the Waterlogue app? It turns any photograph into a watercolour-like image. I first learned about Waterlogue from one of my mom’s favourite blogs, The Enchanted Home. Before I spent the $2.99 on the app, I sent it to Corie and she downloaded it and tested it out for the both of us. Today she’s sharing some of the photos she took and Waterlogued this past weekend.

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Here’s the Plaza hotel.

Painted in Waterlogue

The dresses are from Anthropologie’s new bridal collection.

Painted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in Waterlogue

Here’s Giselle – the boys put a pink duckie in her crib – they’re so excited to have a baby sister in the house!

Painted in Waterlogue

And here’s YOUR living room.

Painted in Waterlogue

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Are you sold? I am!

Photos & Waterlogue transformations by Corie.

*Corie stops by the blog every so often in her Pop Up! series. She hasn’t been on the blog for a while, but we forgive her because she’s been busy with her four sweet kids. The littlest arrived this summer! Corie, thanks for testing the Waterlogue app and sending these images my way! I always love seeing photos from NYC!

20 Below: Tablet Case

How hooked up to tech are you? I’m fairly attached to my MacBook and my iPhone, but that’s about it. I don’t have a tablet, Kindle, Kobo, or iPad. Am I missing out on something amazing?

I guess if I do end up getting some other techy gadget, it would give me an excuse to get a cool case for it. It’s all about the accessories, right?

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Tech-Ray vision tablet case, $5.99 (on sale), ModCloth

3D sound

Happy new year everyone!

Just as I was thinking over the holidays, Yes, 3D printers would be great for creating vinyl records, TA-DA!

3D printed record by Amanda Ghassaei

Amanda Ghassaei has been tinkering with a 3D printer and created a method for converting digital audio files into printable 3D vinyl records. You can read more about her research and process via the link above.

Although the sound quality is not quite right yet, Amanda’s work is really good news for us audiophiles who have gone back to vinyl after a few detoured decades via cassette tapes and CDs. It’s about time I hear of a use for 3D printers that doesn’t feel bizarre!

What’s your take on 3D printing?

No more tears

My surprise at seeing the new washable Logitech keyboard advertisements is probably as what you’re thinking right now:

All clean after a thorough soaking

This photo of the Logitech washable keyboard freaks me out

Years of spill fears have kept my keyboards generally safe but for two spillcidents: the first with water, the second with tea, and in both cases the laptop survived and the keys (and data) were fine. When it’s a laptop, the worst part of the exercise its abrupt suspended use over two days of stressful upside down drying, hoping that everything will be okay and strategizing on what to do if all is lost.

This one’s an external keyboard, so it won’t prevent anyone from ruining a laptop.

The Logitech keyboard not only resists the occasional spill but it welcomes a full-on soaking to clean out all the dirt and whatnot that might have lodged itself within. I think it’s a great idea for a keyboard that is visited by many hands during the day – especially post-bake sale sticky fingers.

Does anyone take lunch breaks anymore? This keyboard seems like a great idea to keep the keys from telling the story of donuts with sprinkles.

Available at Amazon.