Get ready to geek out over this wishlist of tech toys for the holidays! In this episode of The Digital Edge, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway share their complete list of picks for the best new technology — some serious and some just plain fun. From a PhoneSoap sanitizer to a Marvel Thor’s Hammer tool set, there’s something for everyone on your list!
Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNow, Scorpion, Answer1, and Clio.
The Digital Edge
‘Tis the Season: Tech Toys for the Holidays 2018
Intro: Welcome to The Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway, your hosts, both legal technologists, authors and lecturers, invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome to the 131st edition of The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology. We are glad to have you with us.
I am Sharon Nelson, President of Sensei Enterprises, an information technology, cybersecurity and digital forensics firm in Fairfax, Virginia.
Jim Calloway: And I am Jim Calloway, Director of The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program. Today we are doing our favorite podcast of the year, ‘Tech Toys for the Holidays’ in which Sharon and I offer up some of our favorite tech toys, some serious and some not so serious.
Sharon D. Nelson: Before we get started we would like to thank our sponsors.
Thanks to our sponsor Clio. Clio’s cloud-based practice management software makes it easy to manage your law firm from intake to invoice. Try it for free at clio.com. That’s clio.com.
Thank you to Answer1, a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800 Answer 1 or online at www.answer1.com.
Jim Calloway: Thanks to Scorpion. Scorpion sets the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website and ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit scorpionlegal.com/podcast.
Thanks to ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit serve-now.com to learn more.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, what do you say? Shall we get started, Jim?
Jim Calloway: Let’s go.
Sharon D. Nelson: All right. Well, my first holiday tech toy is the PhoneSoap 3, the new edition. Do you remember when we first heard about PhoneSoap, Jim?
Jim Calloway: I remember when we heard about it, but no, I don’t, Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: That for years has been Debbie Foster’s tip. But the last time she gave tips, she didn’t have the PhoneSoap, 3 and I know she will pick it up now because it not only sanitizes your phone with UV rays, but now it’s also a universal cell phone charger.
So, you can clean and charge your phone at the same time, and of course, we always like to be efficient with our time, so that sounds great. You can get it for $59.95 from Amazon. It was seen on Shark Tank and its science was proven by the Discovery Channel, and it kills 99.99% of bacteria.
As you know, our phones are petri dishes in our pockets, it’s kind of the third hand that we never wash. So with the PhoneSoap 3, you can actually charge a second device such as a smart watch at the same time. In fact, you can clean whatever fits, so you could put a baby’s pacifier or a smart watch, headphones, credit cards, keys anything like that. And so that is my first tip.
So let’s go on to something you noticed Jim was heavy this year and that is the Echo Auto. There is everything Echo. So you hear everything Siri, everything for all of our voice digital assistance, but the Echo Auto is $2,499 at least currently, I am not sure that will less because it’s an introductory offer, where you get 50% off for a limited time by invitation only. So, you have to click on a button on Amazon that says, Give me an invitation.
So it connects to Alexa using your phone, it’s ready in seconds, and it plays through your car speakers, it includes the Echo Auto Dash Mount. It has eight microphones and far-field technology so it can hear you over the music, the air-conditioning, and the road noise.
You can use your voice to play music, check the news, open the garage door, find the nearest gas station, and much more. Naturally, you can play audible books and stream podcasts, and of course, you can use any of Alexa’s 50,000 skills. You can set location-based routines like having Alexa start a particular thing when you leave the office or get home because of course you are connected through Alexa to all your Internet devices in your home. I mean that makes perfect sense.
Oh my goodness, you can also with location-based features, Echo Auto helps you get where you are going, Alexa will connect you to apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps or Ways on your phone. So, it really works with thousands of compatible smart home devices, so you can manage your household on the go.
So if you are in a rush to get to work, just ask Alexa when you get in the car to turn off the lights in your house or turn down the thermostat. Pretty cool.
Jim Calloway: That is pretty cool. My first tech toy is the Garmin Speak Plus with a Built-in Dash Cam. This is somewhat similar to the Echo Auto but adds a built-in dash cam. So you have Alexa plus Garmin navigation. You can stream your music over your car’s stereo, use your play list and whatever you have with Alexa, but you can also use Garmin to get visual and spoken turn by turn directions.
You can manage all the smart home devices and create list by phone, just what you need to do while you are driving, plus the built-in dash cam records your drive and provides driver assistance feature such as foreign collision and lane departure warnings.
When that other driver cuts you off, you can share video evidence on social media or if there is a collision, you have real evidence, Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: Yeah, I can just see this in the cases. We’ll see it in the future.
Jim Calloway: We will. Only a $199.99. My next tech toy is the Portal Plus from Facebook. Here we have the perfect gadget for those of us who haven’t given Facebook enough control over our lives. The device comes in two sizes at $199 and $349 but for most of us, the 10-inch portal is not nearly so functional as the 15-inch portal that has pivoting 15-inch display with a resolution of 1920×1080.
Because of the screen pivot, you can have chats in both landscape and portrait mode unlike the mere portal which is designed to sit in landscape mode only. The good, you may have already the TV commercials, from the commercials and reviews, this product is an amazing video calling tool, non-tech savvy, consumers like some grandparents, present company excluded Sharon, will love its ease-of-use of chat.
It has a smart camera that will follow you around and zoom in and zoom out if you want to demonstrate yoga poses, for example, like they have on TV commercials and it expands automatically if other show up at your side. That’s really very cool. The bad, it’s a part of Facebook.
The claim was that Facebook doesn’t listen to view or keep the contents of your portal video calls and they said they are encrypted, stay between you and who you are calling. But after some prodding from the legal tech industry, they did admit the portal voice calling is built into the messenger infrastructure. So, when you make a video call on portal, we do collect information about your data usage, length of calls, frequency of calls like we do on other messenger-enabled devices.
And of course, this data is going to be used to target ads. They admitted that other general usage of data such as aggregate of other apps may feed in the information that Facebook uses to serve up ads. They admitted all this after been a bit coy. Now, surely it was about to disable the device and a physical camera guard, but this is from Facebook and Digital Edge listeners know what that means.
So, don’t blame us if some day you see an ad on Facebook saying, this jacket would look great with that outfit you had on your videoconference call yesterday.
Sharon D. Nelson: Yeah, I think this might be a Christmas gift I would refuse. All right, my next tech tip is from our friend Ben Schorr at Microsoft and he turned me onto the Microsoft Precision Mouse, which is his personal favorite. It’s $99 from Amazon, designed for exceptional accuracy, comfort and control.
It helps you stay in your flow with flawless scrolling, beautiful ergonomic design, and three programmable buttons. It was created for long hours of work with thoughtful details including side grips, a thumb rest and an elegant curve shape that conforms to your hand. I’ve never seen Microsoft be so poetic here.
It gives you more multitasking power by allowing you to pair with and work seamlessly across up to three computers and it supports both Bluetooth and wired USB connections. I really like that because I have a wireless mouse at work and it dies all the time at the most inconvenient times. So I would enjoy this mouse I think.
My next tip is the Meeting Owl, a 360° videoconference camera, which is $799, from Amazon of course. It looks kind of like an owl, it really does. It’s a 360° smart videoconferencing camera and it automatically highlights and shifts focus to different people in the room when they are talking.
So, you know, what’s happening kind of almost like you were there. So it combines a mic, a camera and speaker into one device which sits in the center of the table and the 360° shows the whole rooms while eight microphones pick up everyone within 12 feet. It’s quick and easy to set up, you plug in the power in USB, load up your favorite videoconferencing platform and start your meeting. No downloads or installs. Pretty cool.
Jim Calloway: That sounds pretty nifty, hope the owl is of the wisest thing at the meeting, right, Sharon?
Sharon D. Nelson: You know our machines are often so much smarter than the people that run them.
Jim Calloway: Okay, we are going to geek out on this next one. For the tricky single life this is a cool $48.99 gift from ThinkGeek, a Star Trek Next Generation ComBadge that connects to your phone or device via Bluetooth and has built-in microphone for hands-free calling.
Once connected one touch answers and ends the calls, plays or pauses audio. You can also use this to access Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and of course a touch also plays that classic chirping communicator sound effect from Star Trek.
So Admiral Nelson, Commander Calloway maybe calling on one of these ComBadges soon.
Sharon D. Nelson: I’ll be sure did, sir.
Jim Calloway: This next one sounds really interesting. I think for those of you with children you might actually pay attention to this, it is a real gift, it gets really great reviews, the CINEMOOD Portable Movie Theater. It’s small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. It is a half pound three-inch cube that will project an image on to a wall or screen up to 12 feet in diameter with 1280P resolution.
The CINEMOOD Digital Library includes 40 Disney e-books, 25 safety videos and stories, plus episodes of other fun cartoons with your favorite Disney characters. But it can also be used to stream or download to a 16 GB of internal memory; Netflix, Amazon Prime videos and YouTube. You can also upload your own videos just like the old days and show your home movies with this portable movie theater. Really not a bad deal at $299 and it has a five-hour rechargeable battery.
Sharon D. Nelson: That sounds pretty cool. I am up for that one.
Jim Calloway: Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.
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Sharon D. Nelson: Well, welcome back to Tech Toys for the Holidays, and I would like to recommend to you something that Jim actually recommended to me. As you’ve already heard he likes to call me “grandma”, he is not that much younger by the way, but he did give me a very good tip and I am a grandma, so he gave me the tip about an LED Space Fleece Blanket from ThinkGeek, $39.99, so not very expensive. And the blanket shows an astronaut in the foreground, a blue planet reflected in the helmet, and across the purple star-spangled sky there are 18 stars which flash on and off intermittently. It’s perfect for your own geeky self or for your children or grandchildren.
Before warned that it does not include the three AA batteries and the dimension is 45×60 and I have no doubt that that would freak out my little girl, my little beagle who sleeps in my lap at night. So, I am not going to get it for me. But maybe for the grandchildren.
And my next tip is the Ember Temperature Control Ceramic Mug. It is expensive, it’s $79.95 at Amazon. So you are treating yourself a little bit. But you can remotely adjust it to your ideal temperature. It’s for Android and for iOS as well.
You can select your own personalized LED color, you can choose and save your presets for different drinks and it’s designed to keep the heat for a whole hour when you pour water in hot at a temperature of 130°F. So, I think that’s great because every time I have a cup of hot tea and I get involved in doing something on my computer, the next thing I know my tea is cold and I am drinking cold tea. So, this might be a good investment, Jim.
Jim Calloway: I think it sounds like something that should be under your Christmas tree, Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: Thank you, Jim.
Jim Calloway: Okay. My next one is going to be a bit more serious. It’s the Google Titan Security Key bundle, but I would also like to mention the YubiKey 5C, either one of these cost $50. I am going to mainly discuss the Google Titan but I wanted to mention that YubiKey just is another option.
All of our listeners understand the importance of two factor authentication, I am sure. If some person obtains your password, they still cannot get into your system without that second factor, commonly referred to something you know, something you have, or something you are.
Inside the Titan Security Key Bundle is not one device but two, a slim USB key and a Bluetooth-powered key fob. Both are cast and sleek white plastic and have a pleasant sturdy feel to them. Both the Bluetooth and the USB keys are compliant with the FIDO Universal two-factor standard, and this covers a lot of other sites besides Google like Dropbox, Facebook and Twitter.
To simplify the USB key is for computers and the Bluetooth for mobile devices, but the main reason they have too is they have a backup.
Google also has the advanced protection program that requires a security key but the bottom line instead of your two-factor authentication texting things to your phone you just have it on your keychain to either plug it and or connect with Bluetooth. This is perhaps a new concept for many of our listeners, but I think these devices may evolve into common use for lawyers sooner than you think. Not necessarily did they because the FIDO is as standard as I understand it, far from universal.
But I do like the idea of a keychain for those of us who don’t have an IT department to support it to use for our two-factor authentication.
My next tech toy is actually a serious toy as well, the Logitech Circle 2 Indoor/Outdoor Wired Home Security Camera. At only $149.99 this has been named various versions of best security camera for consumers by Wirecutter, Gizmodo and Business Insider. That’s a pretty impressive list. It works with Alexa, HomeKit and Google, it’s a 1080P resolution, 180° wide angle. It has night vision, two-way talk, alerts, free 24 hours video storage, motion-activated, and one really cool feature is the 32nd time lapse of video recapping the most important moments of the day while you were gone. So, you just don’t have to spend half of your day watching what happened while you were gone.
There are also extra subscription features that enhance your security and provide more long-term storage. But I have been shopping this market for a while, Sharon. This seems to be a good value with great reviews from some sites I really trust.
Sharon D. Nelson: It does sound like a good value, but I don’t know if I want to look forward to watching 30 seconds of prime video when I get home, Jim. Engage their won, if that’s your entertainment, have at it.
So, let’s move to my next tip which is the Surface Go, which has gotten a lot of good reviews and of course a lot of people are really fond of the Microsoft Service line and so the Go has become very popular. If you buy it on Amazon and you buy the device only, it’s $540.93. I don’t know how they come up with 93 cents, and if you buy it with the black type cover or there are other colors as well, then it moves to $689.90.
So, you can actually — on Amazon they allow you to configure the device the way you wanted with storage, etc., etc., so you can do a personalized version of the Go. Of course it has a high-res 10 inch PixelSense display. This is the lightest Surface yet, starting at 1.15 pounds and they call it an all-day battery life because that is they are assuming your day is no more than nine hours of unplugged power which it will run that long, and it’s pretty slick. I think it’s something you might want to look at. It is certainly very light, very modern and you can — that would be a nice thing to have under the tree. Don’t you think, Jim?
Jim Calloway: I think that sounds very nice.
Sharon D. Nelson: Then my next tip is the Bose Noise-Masking Sleepbuds, and these are expensive, but I’ll tell you, I’ve ever bought anything from this company that I haven’t really liked. So, yeah, they are $249, which is a big price for a little thing. But these sleepbuds are the latest Bose innovation, they used engineered soothing sounds to cover up unwanted noise.
So, if the guy next to you is snoring or there’s a baby screaming behind you, you can fall asleep. They look like tiny headphones but they just don’t stream music, they just have those preloaded soothing sounds and they stay comfortably in place all night long, even if you’re sleeping on your side next to somebody who is snoring, they should stay in for you. And they have three included ear-tip sizes for the best fit. So I think you better take over, Jim. I’m starting to feel sleepy.
Jim Calloway: Well, before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.
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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network. Today our subject is ‘Tech Toys for the Holidays’. And Jim and I are ready with everything but the spiked eggnog.
Jim Calloway: Well, there is a lot of talk about being more environmentally responsible and using sustainable power. So I am going to talk about the Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel.
This device unfolds into a four panel solar charging device for your phone, tablet or other USB-powered device. It features an easy-to-read LED indicator indicating the strength of the sunlight, Sharon, so it gives you feedback on how long it’s going to take to charge things.
It’s waterproof and has modular rugged constructions and has a removable kickstand that lets you set it at the optimum angle placement toward the sun. At $247.99, this is not cheap, but for the camping enthusiast, it may ultimately be cheaper than running your car to charge your phones.
And for the prepper in the family, who wants to play games on their mobile device after the Apocalypse, it will be greatly appreciated. I don’t know why people will need phones, but some may.
My next tech toy for the holiday is the Canon IVY Wireless Bluetooth Mobile, Portable, Mini Photo Printer. Okay, this one just makes the list for being cute and fun. It is a tiny little printer that prints tiny little photos, 2’x3’ with peel and stick backing. In fact, it’s more like you are printing stickers.
It’s only a $129 if you don’t want the paper, but I will recommend paying a $153.70 to get the 50 sheets of paper pack included. No ink is required just the photo paper refills. Reviews are a bit mixed, with the most being very positive. But hey, we are printing stickers from android and iOS devices, folks. You shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations, and I understand the app even has photo editing software. So if you want to print some stickers for Christmas, this looks like your fun toy.
Sharon D. Nelson: I think my grandchildren would like that too, Jim.
Okay, my next tip is Cold Turkey Plus, which you go to the URL is getcoldturkey.com. A basic version of this software is free but there is a pro for a $25 payment, just a one-time payment and it does do a lot of things. One of the seminars and this has really surprised me that I am now most frequently requested to teach these days, is called a Digital Detox Boot Camp for Lawyers.
We are all addicted, some more and some less but Cold Turkey Plus is one way to help stop us from wasting time, when we need to get things done. And most people waste time on the Internet, they are moving around to Facebook, they are checking that out, they are checking out may be the politics of the day.
So you can block specific websites, you can block all websites, you can white list websites, there’s all kinds of ways to work this. You can block the entire Internet by using wildcards and you can make some exceptions, and you can start a timer so you can say, okay, I want to block access to whatever it is for a certain period of time, but the timer will then lock down unless you have configured it not to.
So once you said, I’m going to be good, and gosh darn it, I am going to write this brief and I am going to finish it in the next four hours. So, if you say, four hours off and you haven’t configured it to let you interrupted, it will not let you back in and that could be a good thing.
Jim Calloway: But what if you need research for that brief?
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, those are things I would not necessarily block. But you could block all games, you could block e-mail, although most people can’t do that, and it actually has statistics to keep track of your biggest time-wasters. I don’t even want to know and none of the data collected is sent off of your computer, only you will know what you are wasting time on, like we don’t know, Jim.
Jim Calloway: That’s right.
Sharon D. Nelson: And then my final tip is and I think it’s pronounced because I listen to the videos, watch the videos, Temi, The Personal Robot. Well, Temi is kind of cool but not of course, inexpensive, Temi is $1,499 with free shipping and not quite available yet, but very soon apparently. So you can order now.
But it will allow you to connect to your friends, your smart devices, media and video communications only with the power of your voice, totally hands-free. Temi is a self-navigating AI robot and he is just 26 pounds and a little over 3 feet high. Temi will learn your preferences, has face recognition and detects emotions.
He has a 10-inch display and a powerful sound system. You can be in two places at once, you can hop into your robot from anywhere in the world using your Temi app, which is kind of amazing. And so Temi can do whatever you remotely ask Temi to do.
He can take photos and videos, play music, read to you. So, I don’t know, this Temi sounds pretty good to me, but I’m kind of thinking that if I had this robot, it would drive my beagles crazy and I’m not sure I can take that much bang, Jim.
Jim Calloway: I will tell our listeners that they should go watch the video, it’s really pretty entertaining.
Sharon D. Nelson: Yes, it is. It’s very entertaining.
Jim Calloway: And keeping with our theme, there are so many voice-activated devices. When it’s just too much work to touch your toe to the kitchen trash can to open it, it’s time to buy the Simplehuman Voice-Activated Trash Can. You just say, “Open Trash Can” or waive your hand over it and the trash can opens. Surely, that’s worth the price tag of a $199.87, but it’s probably not recommended if you have a toddler in the house, Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: Yeah, I think not, for many reasons.
Jim Calloway: My final tech toy is the Marvel Thor Hammer Tool Set. Okay, who wouldn’t want their hammer just like the one carried by Thor, the God of Thunder? Well, may this one isn’t exactly like his but I can virtually vouch for this, I can personally vouch for the Thor Hammer Tool Set because I purchased one at the door price for the Oklahoma solo and small firm conference this summer.
Sharon D. Nelson: You didn’t really?
Jim Calloway: I did, it was great. This is perfect for a law office that’s always misplacing the pliers or the screwdrivers because the molded case like Thor’s hammer opens up to reveal a [Music]-piece toolset with a ratchet set, tape measure, level and many other tools.
So the next time you need to do a minor repair, you too can thunder at work or home, bring me Thor’s Hammer.
Sharon D. Nelson: I don’t know if I need the Thor Hammer Tool Set but it sounds wonderful.
Jim Calloway: Well, Sharon, I have really enjoyed this podcast, it’s a great way to close out our year and it’s probably, as I understand, one of our most listened to podcast. I just want to wish all of our listeners happy holidays and thank you for another great year of podcasting.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, it’s always fun, Jim. Thank you too. We always have a good time together and I think our listeners get that. So I too wish them happy holidays to everybody and a peaceful and happy time. And that does it for this edition of The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology.
And remember, you can subscribe to all of the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on Apple Podcasts. And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us in Apple Podcasts.
Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us. Goodbye Ms. Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Digital Edge, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway for their next podcast covering the latest topic related to Lawyers and Technology. Subscribe to the RSS feed on legaltalknetwork.com or in iTunes.
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