Category Archives: Tech

Fresh Take 5’s Friday Favorites 5.8.15

Here are my favorites for this week. Enjoy!

Fresh Take 5’s Friday Favorites for 5.8.15:

I love the idea of potentially teaching your child yoga to deal with frustration and other overwhelming emotions.

Tried this chicken marinade over the weekend and loved it with a couple of modifications. I used a pinch of dried thyme instead of the fresh, skipped the fresh rosemary and went heavy on the pepper. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to keep fresh herbs on hand for weeknight meals.

Oh parenthood. I’m feeling these tweets now that I’ve got two toddlers.

Are you a reader? How many of these books can you check off?

This new technology seems awesome. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 2 Update

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

The wife is traveling this week on a much-needed vacation, so I’ll take over the weekly 40 Bags post. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong, but whatever.

I haven’t been able to actually accomplish anything this week, so here are three organization tips I’ve come up with in the past:


1 – Make a consistent system for backing up photos

Photos are the one thing I can’t stand to think of losing, but I’ve never been interested in managed cloud storage. When all the photos I took were on a single camera, this was easier to manage. Now, our photos and videos are usually scattered across the mobile devices and a camera. So, here’s what I do:

  • Once a month (put it on your calendar, or you’ll forget), gather all the devices you take photos or video on, and all their cords.
  • Copy all of the last month photos to a single folder labeled with the month. I like to use a yyyymmdd format so that they show up in order automatically. If you’re copying off an iPhone, don’t bother with iTunes, just pull the image files off like a external hard drive.
  • Delete the photos you just copied to your computer. You don’t have to do this if you like to keep a lot of photos on your phone, but it does help make it clear what you’ve backed up. My wife’s phone is always out of file space, so she usually doesn’t have a choice.
  • For extra safety, I bought two external hard drives and rotate them back and forth to work with the entire photo library on them. That way, if something happened to the house, I’d still have all our photos.


2 – Use a Password Vault

I think that most people have agreed that using varied, somewhat complex, long passwords and changing them occasionally is pretty good practice. That’s basically impossible if you want to actually remember your passwords.

Originally I used a USB-stick password vault (Keepass). That worked fairly well, until I lost the USB stick.

I think by far the best answer is a browser-embedded password vault. I use LastPass. You install a plug-in to your browser, put in a single master password, and it keeps track of any new logins you use, and automatically populates login information when you got to log in.

If you’re on a public computer, you can just go to the LastPass website and access your vault to look up or copy your password.


3 – Use a cloud-based note system

I don’t know how many times a day I need a private place to put notes, pictures, reminders, links to webpages that I don’t need right now but probably will someday, etc.

This includes my favorite, taking pictures of labels or documents that’ll I’ll certainly misplace or forget about but will probably need later.

I’ve tried a few, but Evernote has been the easiest for me to use consistently. They offer a free PC/Mac based program, browser interface, or mobile app, and they all update seamlessly.

As with anything like this, the more you use it the more useful it becomes, so you really have to try to commit to it.

How to Create Digital Christmas Cards In 5 Easy Steps

How To Create a Digital Christmas Card-Freshtake5

Did you wait until the last minute to order Christmas cards because you wanted the perfect picture? Or maybe you just decided it wasn’t in the budget for Christmas this year. Either way, digital christmas cards are a great way to send holiday greetings to family and friends and save yourself the printing and mailing costs.

I tend to create digital Christmas cards even if I order a few paper ones. That way I can save money by just sending cards to grandparents and others who I know just don’t use the internet. And then I also have a digital Christmas card to send to international friends and family (hola to my Guatemalan family!).

How to Create Digital Christmas Cards in 5 Easy Steps

1. Choose a picture or pictures

Make sure you choose a picture that is in focus and that you love it. I recommend that you chose at least one picture that has the whole family (yes- people want to see you too, not just the kids).

For example, here is a cute one of my kids from last year.

digital christmas cards - original

2. Edit the picture to include your holiday greeting

I am a photoshop user, but it is an expensive editing software that not everyone needs. Try using a free service like PicMonkey to achieve the look you want.  (Hint: Click the “Edit for free” link in the upper right and you don’t even have to create a user.)

digital christmas cards - finsihed card

If you need some inspiration, check out our pinterest board of easy to recreate digital Christmas cards here.

3. Compile your recipient list

I like to send my digital Christmas cards via email. To me it just seems a little more personal than posting it to Facebook or Instagram, but don’t let that stop you if that is your prefered method of contacting friends and family.

4. Insert your edited photo

If you are a gmail user, here is a little trick to embed the photo rather than have it be an attachment. Choose the “Insert photo” button (looks like a mountain landscape) rather than “Attach files” button.

insert photo

5. Send!

Push send. You’re done. Pour a glass a wine and sit back and enjoy your holiday season! I usually get a few replies to my cards which is always a nice perk of digital Christmas cards over paper.

Are you a sender of digital Christmas cards? How do you create them?

Gadget Gifts for Dad 2014

Are you looking for gadget gifts for dad for Christmas?

I’m sorry, but 99% of the “gadget gift guides” online contain nothing but useless iPhone accessories, headphones, and speakers. Here’s some other gadget gifts to get Dad in 2014:

2014 Christmas Gift List - Tech for Dad

1 – Arduino Kit

Don’t know what he’d do with this? It doesn’t matter. It’s like the science kit you got as a kid. Learn to design circuits, write code. Plenty of neat project ideas online as well.

2 – Tile

If he’s anything like me, he wishes the “Find my iPhone” app would work with everything he owns. Well, it can. Unfortunately, he will now be unable to keep track of anything without one of these attached to it.

3 – A good kitchen scale

A scale is an essential tool in the kitchen. From mixing drinks, baking, to brewing coffee, it’s a great time saver.

4 – Aeropress

Much discussed by all coffee snobs, some love it, some hate it. Honestly, if you have any desire to brew your coffee without a conventional brewer, this is the easiest (and arguably best) way.

5 – Raspberry Pi

Similar to the Arduino, but an entire Linux-based computer on a tiny circuit board. Build your own music server, tiny web browser, etc.

Did you like our Gadget Gifts for Dad 2014? Looking for technology gifts for mom? Check out our gift guide here.

Serial Podcast and 4 Other Must-Listen Podcasts

Are you as obsessed with the Serial podcast as I am?

I have loved the This American Life podcast for years. It has been my my go-to in the car listening. For me it is the best available podcast option for longer car trips, but now I am suddenly obsessed with the Serial podcast, a podcast spin-off if you will, from the This American Life creators and hosted by Sara Koenig.


My 5 Favorite Podcasts:

serial podcast

1. Serial

Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it.”

The first season of the Serial podcast follows the story of the murder of Hae Min Lee and her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed who was convicted of her murder.


this american life

2. This American Life

“There’s a theme to each episode of This American Life, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe.”

If you are new to This American Life, I recommend starting here.


radio lab

3. Radiolab

“Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.”

Radiolab is awesome for people who love the application of science and sound to everyday life.


planet money

4. Planet Money

“Imagine you could call up a friend and say, “Meet me at the bar and tell me what’s going on with the economy.” Now imagine that’s actually a fun evening. That’s what we’re going for at Planet Money.”

I would add that you should also imagine your friend is brilliant and an amazing teacher.


freakanomics radio

5. Freakonomics Radio

Did you ever read the book Freakonomics? It’s a great, quick read that makes economics relevant to the everyday person. The authors created the podcast in 2010 for more fun.


The Best Baby-Cams

I’m not usually intimidated by a little bit of an IT challenge, so I started with this one (Foscam, $60):


Cons: There is considerable finicky router setup, and most of the information is in a message-board style format. My guess is that this product came out of the do-it-yourself home security market, so there is considerable flexibility, but also a lot of settings that take quite a bit of research to understand.

Pros: There isn’t much you can’t do with this camera, if you have enough IT know-how to set it up right. You can pan it and toggle the IR lights from a web browser, and set up to view from outside your home network if you know how to deal with port forwarding.

Conclusion: It’s a bit more on the “open-source” side of the spectrum. If you want total control over what it does, this is your camera. However, I found that this is the last item that I want to messing around with while the kids are sleeping.

So, I moved on to this one (Belkin, $63):


Cons: No remote pan/tilt, and very little ability to mess with any settings (which turns about to be a Pro, actually). So, on to the Pros.

Pros: The set up and use is idiot-proof. You set the camera up with your free iPhone app on your home wi-fi network (no trying to find an extra Ethernet cable!) and you’re good to go. Belkin hosts the video stream, so now you can view the camera from anywhere with internet access.

Conclusion: This is the last item you want to try to get fancy with. Keep it simple.

Christmas Wish List – Technology For Mom

It’s that time of the year to really start thinking about all the people you have to buy Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) presents for. Mom is always hard to buy for so here is a list of technology must haves for your Mama.

Tech for Mom

We have and love the Anker Portable Battery Charger, the Kindle Paperwhite and Apple TV. I highly recommend all these items.

I am dying to try out the new Go Pro Hero4 and  the FitBit Flex Activity Tracker is perfect for the upcoming New Year’s Resolutions.