Santa apps for Christmas 2014

Christmas is right around the corner and if you have young ones, chances are the excitement is at a fever pitch. You can tap into that and have a lot of fun watching the sparkle in your children’s eyes through some fun apps and holiday websites. I have some suggestions.

Santa apps for Christmas 2014

The perennial favorite Christmas site is NORAD’s Santa Tracker, an all platform app and website that lets kids check up on Christmas Eve planning before the deliveries start and then on the 24th, to track and monitor Santa’s around the world travels.

To keep the kids amused for hours, check out Northpole.com, a site that has all sorts of games an places to visit at the north pole, from the weather station to the mailroom, where kids can send a letter and receive a card back from Santa, to the Reindeer bar to check up on on preparations for Christmas Eve.

And… there are a bunch of apps to talk to Santa. Parents Calling Santa for the iPhone has three different messages you can select for your child to hear. There’s also a bunch of similar apps for Android smartphones. Most of the calling apps cost a buck or two.

PC Mike Techcast: Managing your life on a smartphone

Can our smartphones really make us smarter? That’s the major topic we explore this week as we begin our new PC Mike Techcast – a weekly podcast that talks about  the latest in personal technology and gadgets with no “geek speak.”

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Our main interview is with Rey Brown, of the Smartphones Made Easy blog and podcast.

I’m really excited about this podcast. It is a lot of fun to do and there are so many great folks to talk to, including you. Just click the “Leave Voicemail” link on the right side of your screen to record your comments and questions by using the built in microphone on your computer, tablet or smartphone. I love to feature listener calls on the podcast, as you can hear in this episode.

Please take a listen:

Listen to the Episode Below

Best monitor deal I’ve seen

Picked up a MacMini today. It’s a terrific little computer. I got the 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, which sells for $694. I’ll dedicate it to be used for Quickbooks and a couple of other programs. With a terabyte of storage and 8 Gigs of RAM, it will serve us well.

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But what really has me excited is the awesome monitor I’m using with it: The 28-inch ViewSonic VX2858Sml. At $249 it is an amazing deal. Especially since I was seriously considering a 27-inch Apple Cinema Display. That baby costs just under $1,000.

Cyber Monday beats Black Friday

So you thought Black Friday was big. Consider it just the start of Cyber Monday.

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Yeah there were lines in stores.

But consider this: An estimated 40 percent of all retail transactions from Black Friday to Cyber Monday are come from smartphones and tablets. On Thanksgiving Day alone, online sales rose an estimated  27% this year to hit $1.33  billion, in large part thanks to the earlier store openings and better co-ordination of e-commerce with store activity by retailers. By Black Friday itself, online sales over the two days reached $3.73 billion. The online surge actually started the day after Thanksgiving. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 28, $32 billion has been spent online, up 14 percent from 2013, according to Adobe.

Going paperless: The best in scanners

The dream for many is to go paperless and thanks to advances in scanner technology, it’s a lot closer to reality now than ever before. I have some recommendations that can help you digitize that mountain of paper that surrounds you.

Going paperless: The best in scanners

There’s always something in real life that we want to bring into our digital life and that’s the reason there are scanners – but wait – aren’t scanners just a funny kind of cameras and don’t we already have a camera in the smart phone? So why not just use the smart phone to grab a snapshot of the page or whatever – why bother with a scanner at all?