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New decade, new possibilities

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 by Amber

It's been a long, wonderful year here at Byte-Sized. We had a bunch of great giveaways (more to come in mid-Jan.!), reviewed some pretty amazing products, and covered the heck out of the biggest stories of 2009 (can you say 'Kindle explosion'?)!

Last year at this time, I waxed philosophic for a few hundred words about the power we as geek wield over the economic and technological future of mankind -- and I meant it then just as much as I want to reinforce that message to you today, on the eve of the eve of a new decade.

The 2000s ushered in a new wave of personal gadgets most of us would consider absolutely necessary today. MP3 players, smartphones, ereaders ... if I left the house without any one of these things, I'd be a lunatic for the day. They are literally as essential to my morning pack-up-for-work routine as slipping on my glasses ... though truth be told I've worked a few days with the specs just to see if I could. Splitting headaches say I can't, btw.

Anyways I'm trying to illustrate for you more than the smartness of the world's human populace. The most exciting thing about the past decade isn't all of the wonderful, amazing things we would have never in million years thought about in the 90s -- it's the possibilities history has for the future.

What will happen in the '10s? Will we all be watching 3D TVs? Will our coffee tables actually be entertainment centers/tablet computers? These are very real possibilities that I invite all of you, dear beloved geeks, to think about for a few minutes as the new decade dawns.

I said it last year -- but geeks will save the world. How, well .. that's really up to you, isn't it?

Have a wonderful, happy New Year from all of us at Byte-Sized! We'll be taking the rest of the week off to ring it in in style, so we'll see you back here Monday morning for the top headlines in the world of sci-tech, pop-tech, sci-pop and everything in between!

PS -- Be sure to check out this TOP 100 MOVIES OF THE DECADE LIST by Kid Frank! He's pretty spot on, if you ask me ... with the exception of 'Start Trek,' but I'll forgive him the occasional obvious oversight :)










Bring out your inner 007!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 by Amber

I’m doing my own bit of spy work today and slipping the 12th Day of Geek-mas in with the 11th, just so I don’t have to leave my nice warm bed tomorrow morning until absolutely necessary.

Have a wonderful, merry and bright Christmas from all of us here at Byte-Sized! Stay safe, recycle what wrapping paper you can, and hey: Be a kid again for a few hours, OK? :)

So, on the last day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me:

Awesome Secret Spy Stuff!
Buy now at: http://www.thinkgeek.com/ (or click here) http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/security/

Do you have a wanna-be spy in your life, or are you just looking for that great gift for the person who has absolutely everything (and apparently isn’t having their Christmas party until next week, given that nothing shipped today will reach your house in time for St. Nick)?

The 007 music is already playing in my head. I mean, let’s be honest here: A guy who sneaks around in the middle of the night on an important mission with global implications, and lives in a secluded hidden location at the top of the world? Santa is, like, the ultimate spy!

Check out these awesome spy accessories to sneak in Christmas at the last minute!

Hidden Wall Safe ($7.99)
You know that outlet in your house – the one that hooks up to absolutely nothing no matter how many lights you flick on and off in testing? Make it useful with this hidden wall safe. It’s as smart as it is secure – provided you can keep it secret and not show everyone your awesome hiding place.

Night Vision Digital Video Camera ($99)
Are you searching for ghosts or evading capture? Either way, this camera just makes you want to find a dark room and spend some time sneaking around. Just watch out for those flying bricks and low-hanging beams!

Micro Camcorder Pro ($99)
He did what? Record it all with this teensy little camcorder –the smallest in the world. No one will look twice at it hanging off your belt, and the video quality is actually pretty good. It’s got a memory card with 2 gigs of storage, which translates to about 90 minutes – more than my Flip Mino!

USB 8G Flash Drive Lighter ($39.99)
We here at Byte-Sized are big fans of USB drives that pretend to be something else. This one has me geeking out: It’s a *real* lighter that has a monster USB storage capacity hidden inside! The lighter end is refillable, and the fire and electronics actually play nicely inside the shiny metal case!

Baby’s First MP3 Player,

… a Scottevest Fleece 5.0 Jacket,

… a Zeo Personal Sleep Coach ,

LogiTech’s Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote,

Nextar’s 43LT Navigation System,

... Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds,

... a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!










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'No, don't touch mommy's Zune!'

by Amber

... on the 10th day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ...

Baby’s First MP3 Player
Buy now at: http://www.thinkgeek.com/ (or click here)
Price: $49.99

Mommies, daddies, aunties and uncles: What can you give those little geeklets-in-training? Gift them with their very first MP3 player! This model is made of durable, chewable plastic, with a handle for tiny toddler hands to carry their tunes with them!

Fill it up with ‘The Wiggles’ or, if they’re my kids, Rascal Flatt’s ‘Life is a Highway’ and ‘Bounce’ from System of a Down. Whatever your babies fancy, this seriously kid-friendly player has big buttons to give the munchkins control over their playlist, but hides the special grown-up buttons like volume.

And, at $50, it’s a cheaper way to give the kids something better to toss around than your Zune or iPod.

… a Scottevest Fleece 5.0 Jacket,

… a Zeo Personal Sleep Coach ,

LogiTech’s Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote,

Nextar’s 43LT Navigation System,

... Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds,

... a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!










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A gadget-friendly way to stay warm out there, kiddos!

Monday, December 21, 2009 by Amber

On the ninth day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ...

Scottevest Fleece 5.0 Jacket
Buy at http://www.scottevest.com/ (or click here)
Price: $140

I originally had something else on tap for today, but that gift idea got bumped to tomorrow in favor of showing you all how to keep yourself warm and cozy after torrential winter storms dump 2 feet of powder snow into your driveway. And, please, we all know that shovelling goes by much faster when you're listening to music!

So, I give you the Scottevest Fleece 5.0 -- it's got 24 pockets for every personal communications and music gadget you could possibly own. No chargers inside the garment at all, but there are more perks other than pockets! Say you're shovelling, as mentioned before, and you start overheating. Well, nothing it more dangerous when it's cold outside than to sweat (for real), and this jacket has *removable sleeves* to keep you temperate, aside from the breathable microfiber inside to wick away the excess warmth and let your body breathe!

The Scottevest comes in multiple colors and styles, and in separate cuts made to hug a woman's curves and cover a guy's shoulders without all your gadgets bulging out of your pockets and making you look like, well, someone whose carrying too many things hidden all over his/her body.

Don't let the snow get you down, people! This vest, while it can't melt the white stuff, will help you at least enjoy it more.

… a Zeo Personal Sleep Coach ,

LogiTech’s Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote,

Nextar’s 43LT Navigation System,

... Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds,

... a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!











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The gift of a great night's sleep!

Friday, December 18, 2009 by Amber

... on the eighth day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ...

Zeo Personal Sleep Coach
Buy now at: http://www.myzeo.com/ (or click here)

Price: $249.99

OK, so this gift is a little expensive for your Geek-mas list, but I couldn’t resist! I recently got some great info on the Zeo Sleep Coach, and if the testimonials, reviews, expert opinions, trials and recommendations can be believed (and we’re hedging our bets that many people can’t be wrong), it’s a must-have for those of you who have trouble sleeping.

Grrranted, this product isn’t for the occasional bout of insomnia: It’s garnered international acclaim as a integral tool in medical sleep studies. The kit includes a soft headband to measure your brainwaves (yeah, told you this thing isn’t kidding around), a bedside alarm clock/display, a data card to record, monitor and track your sleep patterns online, and a beginning guide to understanding how sleep coaching can help your awake time feel better.

The Zeo is a hard-core gadget that totally gets that you don’t sleep the recommended time every night, and it helps you increase the quality of the sleep you get. Have you ever woken up a few minutes before your alarm goes off, only to fall back asleep and wake up groggy? Yeah, Zeo monitors your brainwaves and will help you wake up during that more natural rouse than with the jarring alarm 10 minutes later. Seriously.

This Big Poppy of alarm clocks is the real deal. It’s pricey, but if your days are spend irritable and your night are spent tossing and turning, it just may be worth it to take the plunge.

LogiTech’s Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote,

Nextar’s 43LT Navigation System,

... Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds,

... a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!











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One-stop for the best TV entertainment!

Thursday, December 17, 2009 by Amber

... on the seventh day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me, programmed and set up ...

LogiTech’s Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote
Buy now at: www.logitech.com (or click here)
Price: $99.99

I know you. You’re the geek with an audio receiver, a DVR and/or HD cable box, and at least two video game systems fighting for the scant HDMI ports on the back of your mondo LCD HD TV, which may or may not be wall-mounted over your living room fireplace. I also know your daily woes: too many freaking remotes to deal with. I’ve got the ingenious solution made especially for you: the Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote. And trust me, this is *not* your average, old-school universal.

Program the ‘clicker’ (as we call it in our house) with the included software CD, and you’ll never have to fiddle with another remote again. Once all your current device info is loaded on (it doesn’t take long to find your make and model in the vast library on the software), you’re literally one click away from a quiet living room to watching ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ on the PS3’s Blu-ray.

The best feature on this remote is the ‘Help’ button. If something goes awry in switching between DirectTV and the Xbox, the help button will try to auto-correct your TV or audio feed, then will walk you through a simple troubleshooting menu until everything is tuned properly.

Really, really a must-have gift for all year round, but especially sweet to give around the holidays. You’ll be the hit of the household, and the lucky recipients will be singing your praise when they no longer have to search under couch cushions and the coffee table to locate all the remotes.

Nextar’s 43LT Navigation System,

... Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds,

... a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!











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Navigate your way to a great gift

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by Amber

... on the 6th day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ... no, really, he did ...

Nextar’s 43LT Navigation System
Buy now at: http://www.bestbuy.com/ (or click here)
Price: $139.99

Husband and I named ours ‘Elsa’ – because when you have such a cool GPS system who talks to you in the car, it’s rude not to talk back or thank her.

This portable GPS system, with its delightfully pleasant female voice, features a touchscreen display and live traffic support to help you navigate through the tough spots during your daily commute. The screen is easy to see, simple to set up and cake to hook up. The maps are simple and the directions are clear and direct – if a tad redundant in her effort to get you to your destination perfectly. Added bonuses (boni?) are that you can listen to your mp3 player through the plugged-in device, you can upload additional maps via a secure side port, and you can tell ‘Elsa’ to stop at different points in your journey – called multidestination route planning.

I know there are a lot of GPS systems on the market – and I don’t purport to have tried and tested them all – but this one is a keeper for sure. If you don’t have one built into your car already, I highly recommend ‘Elsa.’ Husband does, too, since she lives in his car.

... Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds,

... a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!










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Fiiiiiive wooooden earbuuuuuuds!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 by Amber

... on the 5th day of Geek-Mas, my true love gave to me:

Skullcandy’s Wooden Earbuds
Buy now at: http://www.anthropologie.com/ (or click here)
Price: $98
I’m biased: Anthropologie is by far my favorite store/site ever, so anything from here is a dynamite gift in my eyes. The store is the paradise for shabby-chic, and these earbuds from Skullcandy agree wholeheartedly.

Sometimes the perfect gift is the simple one with a flair for the original – that’s exactly what you give with these earbuds. With a rustic, old-school vibe and fantastic tones, they exude a classic beauty that won’t fluctuate through the style seasons, and the case is a gift in itself. And, wood has fantastic natural acoustics, and the grain is lovely.

Buy one for the music lover to go with their new Zune HD, or for you mom, who is a little scared of technology. Both will approve of the smooth lines and charm of the Skullcandy Wooden Earbuds.

Oh, and while you’re at Anthropologie, get yourself something special. Their clothes are the ultimate personal indulgence, and I’ll recommend them over anything else. Always.

... and a Strong Caffeine Buzz,

… and a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... and an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!












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Byte-Sized '12 Days of Geek-mas' continues with a jolly jolt!

Monday, December 14, 2009 by Amber

On the fourth day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ...

Caffeinate Your Life
Buy these products at: http://www.thinkgeek.com/ (or click here)

OK, I’m addicted – but so are you. Does that mean I need a fix 24-7? No, but in case you’re strung out and need a hit, try these caffeinated products heralded to boost your pep and perk up your morning, noon, night and every time in between.

It’s a total geek thing, harkening back to the up-all-night days of Jolt Cola and Crank-2-O. And, they’d make great gag gifts/stocking stuffers : )

Shower Shock ($6.99 per bar, or $19.99 for 5 bars)
First things first: Did you know caffeine can be absorbed through your skin? Work the soap into a wicked lather and give it a minute to do its work. 200 mg of the good stuff later, you’re a live wire. Maybe you should skip the trip to the doughnut shop on your way to work – this soap kind-of scares me, in the good way.

Spazzstick Lip Balm ($2.99)
Because when you’re kissing someone, the first thing you need is super-soft, yummy lips – and the last thing you need is to fall asleep mid-snog.

Magic’ Brownie Mix ($13.99)
Hmm, what now? Nothing makes chocolate taste more like chocolate than coffee. These fudgy delicious babies have four different sources of the good stuff: smashed coffee beans, coffee, guarana and straight caffeine. Each of the 18 serving in the sheet pan contains the jolt of a cup of gourmet coffee-shop goodness. You have to make them yourself, but this adds a whole new level of deliciousness to licking the batter bowl clean.

Caffeine Molecule Stainless Travel Mug ($12.99)
Forget all these candies and tricks – you’re a purist. Dare I call you, a snob? You like your joe hot and your accessories smart. This travel mug is for you. Emblazoned with the chemical compound that is caffeine, only other purists will decipher the code and understand your coolness. We know our own.

… and a Sonic Fabric Necktie,

... and an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!










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Rubik's TouchCube Winners and the 3rd Day of Geek-mas!

Friday, December 11, 2009 by Amber

Good morning! The winners of the Rubik's TouchCube (courtesy of our wonderful friends at http://www.rubikstouchcube.com/) have been notified, and here they are:

Congratulations to Kevin from NY, Mary from Brooklyn and Daniel from Melrose, MA!

Everyone else -- thank you so much for entering our giveaway! We'll have another for you real soon, so stay tuned.

And now ... on the 3rd Day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ...

Sonic Fabric Neckties
Buy now at: http://www.sonicfabric.com/ (or click here)
Price: $90

I’m a child of the 80s. Back when the Bangles and Michael Jackson rocked my little world, and the New Kids on the Block were the best, all your audio fixes came on *tapes.* We’re come far, my young Padawan.

These ties are made with fabric that recycles the crinkly tapes of yore with cotton fibers (a 50-50 mix) – talk about a conversation starter! And, not only would these be super funny to give to a new dad on Father’s Day, but imagine your fiancé/husband’s wide-eyed curiosity at opening up one of these come (insert religious holiday of your choice) morning!

Of course, you could just go the normal, unimaginative route of picking out a tie at the mall department store, but why not up the ante a little? Make giving a tie cool again.

... and an iGo Green Laptop Charger,

... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!










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Day 2 of the ‘12 Days of Geek-mas’

Thursday, December 10, 2009 by Amber

On the second day of Geek-mas, my true love gave to me ....

iGo Green Laptop Charger
Buy at: http://www.igo.com/ (or click here)
Price: $100

Show those energy vampires – chargers that suck your electricity and hard-earned dollars – the door!

This environmentally friendly alternative uses 85% less standby power (which is what the leeches suck out when they’re plugged in and you’re *not* charging anything). The device is made specifically for laptops (we’re told it works with most popular models) but the included USB can hook up cell phones, bluetooths, mp3 players, etc.

From a Byte-Sized standpoint, we recognize this is pricey, but the charger will pay for itself – and fast. It’s a great gift for the green member of your social network/family to help them lessen the guilt they feel for leaving the house humming.

I personally have two BlackBerry chargers, three Zune chargers, two laptop chargers and three DVRs/LCD TVs plugged in at all times. Hint hint, honey.

.... and a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag!





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Byte-Sized ‘12 Days of Geek-mas’ Holiday Gift Guide!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by Amber

Happy Holiday, folks! If you’re following along at home, today marks the beginning of the infamous ‘12 Days of Christmas,’ and with Hanukkah starting this Friday night (Kwanzaa doesn’t start ‘til Dec. 26, btw).

So, in honor of one of my favorite holiday songs (and absolute favorite parody, ‘The 12 Pains of Christmas’ – hollah if you’re from New England! ‘Get a flashlight, I blew a fuse!’ – we are launching our 2nd annual Byte-Sized ‘12 Days of Geek-mas’ Holiday Gift Guide!

(Why only twelve? Because there are twelve business days left until the big day, and I don’t want to work on the weekends when I could be shopping. Do you?)

From now until Christmas Day, we’ll feature one must-have gift every business day for everyone on your list – and a few for you to add to your own! I’m keeping the price around $100 per item because that’s my family’s Secret Santa spending limit every year.

Culled from my favorite sites, this is like my own personal shopping list for the technophile and geek. I’ve left off the obvious MUST HAVES like Amazon.com’s Kindle 2, the Xbox 360 and the Zune HD … those are sure-bet winners, no doubt. But, I wanted to dig a little deeper for you this year … really make sure you’re hitting the mark without all the glitz of commercialism and rampant overspending.

Kicking off the list today, the 1st day of Geek-mas, is ...

The Tauntaun Sleeping Bag
Buy at: www.ThinkGeek.com (or click here)
Price: $99
TaunTaun SLeeping BagThe fresh corpse of a Tauntaun might be a little ripe, but at least it’s warm.

This hilarious, adult-sized sleeping bag is made of plush material and features the detailed exterior of the beast with the bulging innards just wear they belong: nestling your body in their squishy heat! Look closely and you’ll recognize the zipper pull is a light saber – the infamous one that sliced the creature open during the frigid Hoth night when Han and Luke were stuck outside the rebel base!

I’ve already ordered one – if you are a geek or know a geek, this is the perfect gift. It is backordered, but ThinkGeek knows they’ve struck a gold mine and are working overtime on sacrificing more of the stinky Tauntauns for the cause.

Can I get mine with a life-sized Han Solo body pillow? Please?

Tune in tomorrow to see the next item on the 2nd annual Byte-Sized ‘12 Days of Geek-mas’ Holiday Gift Guide!!


PS -- This is the last day to sign up for our holiday giveaway of the Rubik's TouchCube, thanks to our friends at Rubik's!! Send your last-minute e-mails to bytesized@captivate.com -- or bypass the whole contest and order your own TouchCube directly at http://www.rubikstouchcube.com!!/











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Holiday Giveaway!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 by Amber


Good morning! Let’s get right to the goods, shall we?

Today marks the opening day of the 2nd Annual Byte-Sized Holiday Giveaway! (Cheering…) And, the gift of the year is: The Rubik’s TouchCube!

This is exactly what it sounds like: Your favorite Rubik’s Cube – and my arch nemesis – with a techno slant that brings it up-to-date and really makes it slick! Touch the 6-sided game surface, drag your fingers to make the color rows move, and even query the cube for hints on what to do next!

Now, the Rubik’s TouchCube is no slouch – at $150 a pop, this is the most expensive giveaway we’ve ever featured on Byte-Sized, so enter early for this giveaway at bytesized@captivate.com.

I know what you’re thinking: Who in their right mind would pay $150 for a single game that doesn’t come with a video game console? But, I can assure, this really is everything you (and your kids, mother, brother, etc.) need for hours of intelligent fun!

(Not that video games aren’t intelligent – don’t get me wrong: I love video games, it’s just the Rubik’ Cube is my intellectual nemesis. So are first-person shooters – if I had those to give away, I would totally call out ‘Modern Warfare 2,’ too. BTW, check out Captivate’s Gamer’s Edge’s review of ‘MW2’ here.)

We’ll post a review in a few days, but for now, here is the deal:

Send us your name, address and contact info to bytesized@captivate.com anytime from now until midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 9. We’ll draw 3 winners Dec. 10 and announce them on this blog Friday, Dec. 11.

I’m not Santa or Amazon.com, so I can’t guarantee Christmas delivery, but I’ll have them in the mail by EOD… So as long as you’re not in Alaska or the Himalayas, it should be there in a week or so, which is perfect time to either take it and brag at your friend’s holiday party or give it away to a deserving, happy new home : )

Of course, if you want to bypass the giveaway and make sure you have one under the tree, visit http://www.rubiktstouchcube.com/.

So, let the balloting begin! Catch you on the flip side for more reviews, headlines and the Byte-Sized Gadget Gift Guide, starting next week!











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