Another New Fancy Phone For the Win

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Sprint. I received a sample device to facilitate my review.

2014-12-28 15.31.01

So I’m really loving the Sharp AQUOS Crystal that I received from my friends at Influence-Central and Sprint. This beautiful fancy phone has a stylish look and runs on the Sprint Spark network, which gives it a one-up when it comes to watching videos, so watching Netflix was fantastic! I spent some quality time with this phone on the train watching some of my favorite shows, playing a game or two and just enjoying everything that the AQUOS had to offer.  This phone also comes equipped with Google Mobile services that I use regularly, including Google Search, Google Maps, Google Navigation, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google+ and YouTube, so I can get all my Google on in one place. Sharp AQUOS Crystal

It comes pre-loaded with lots of apps with which to play

I love the style of the phone. The sleek AQUOS is thin, and the screen kicks serious butt with a five-inch, edge-to-edge HD design. The screen is clear and bright, and I think it’s awesome. My brother recently cracked his current phone’s screen and called dibs on this piece of tech that he oohed and ahhed over.

Sharp AQUOS Crystal

I love how thin the phone is

I wanted to show you the camera features, but I’m not a very talented photographer. There are a lot of sweet options to make this camera stellar, if you’re really good with a camera. I know that with a little more time, I could get to know the features better and my pics would look magnificent. So here’s what I was able to capture.

 

Sloth and Lillian Connelly artPhoto captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

I thought I’d take a picture of my new sloth buddy, Ebenezer hanging next to my Lillian Connelly print. Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Olive penguin photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Olive penguin photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Backyard Photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal

Backyard photo captured with Sharp AQUOS Crystal in the 50-degree Chicago December

The Sharp AQUOS is only available through Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. As a Sprint Ambassador, I have been given complimentary services on both Sprint and Boost networks, but I’m also an eleven-year Sprint account holder with a family plan that I do pay full-price for. We recently switched my mom over to Boost, and she’s enjoying services with them, as well.

Overall, I was a huge fan of this phone. The design, the HD quality, and the Sprint Spark bonus makes this a sure bet for this girl. If I wasn’t giving it to my brother, I’d be switching my service over to this puppy in a heartbeat.

What features do you look for in a mobile device? What about in a mobile carrier?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I May Have Accidentally Given Someone My Password. Again.

I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Another quick cautionary story about passwords (because my first password fail wasn’t enough). Last week, the day I posted about my password fail, I was G-chatting one of my girlfriends while doing some stuff. I went to type an important password into the password pop-up box…and clicked enter. Thus sharing my BRILLIANT but top-secret password to my friend. And now I can never use that password again. Not that I don’t trust her or anything, but what if her e-mail gets hacked? So now I have to come up with yet another BRILLIANT and top-secret password.

Bummer.

We’ve all got passwords. Some of us (cough me cough) use variations of the same general password across a bazillion different platforms. And can never seem to remember the right combination of usernames/passwords…

Others are organized and efficient and (Um. Can you come to my computer and help me sort this stuff out?) really good with passwords. I recently started using F-Secure KEY to track my usernames and passwords – and yes…I’m STILL inputting them (stop laughing) because I’ve had to change passwords and have e-mail reminders sent left and right (no, really, stop laughing).

This handy-dandy infographic is actually SUPER helpful for creating passwords. I never would have thought of personalizing passwords for the different sites, but that’s a pretty neat idea.

Password Safety

Which of these tips do you think is the most useful?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tell Me Your Password And No One Gets Hurt…

The following story about password security is true and real and SCARY. So listen up. Don’t do what I did.

While we’re here, I figured I should mention that I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Password Safety KEY app

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

A story about giving away my password

A while back, I committed the ultimate password sin. My then-boss called me on my personal cell phone, while I was at lunch. “Quick! What’s your work password?!” The panic in his voice and the anxiety in my system (which gets even more GAAAHHH! when I’m put on the spot) responded immediately and completely stupidly. I gave him my password.

Not only did I give him my password, I clued him into the type of password I was, at the time, prone to using. THANKFULLY it wasn’t the password that I was using at the time for anything but my work log-in, but it was MY password. The password that I’m not supposed to give to ANYONE.

Even worse? I found out later that he was on speakerphone.

Now, he didn’t think twice of it as something he was doing wrong. He genuinely did need my password to get into a computer for something. But he should have waited the 10-15 minutes it would have taken me to return and input my own password without giving it out.

After the chaos, I politely sent my boss an e-mail explaining how uncomfortable his request made me and that I felt it was a little inappropriate, and I would prefer not to be put on the spot like that ever again. It was then that he realized what he had done, and he did apologize profusely, promising not to compromise my personal security again.

Since that day, I’ve come to adopt a system of creating new passwords for different log-ins to ensure that I’m keeping myself digitally protected.

F-Secure KEY

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s talk about F-Secure. I’ve been using the app for about a week and a half, and I still haven’t integrated all of my passwords yet. But I’m getting there. And oh-my-God, I’ve had to change 3 passwords already so that I could input them into KEY – but I’ll never have to change them because I forgot them again! Obviously, I’ll need to change them every 6 months or so, but with KEY, I’ll have access to all the up-to-date passwords without a whole heck of a lot of effort. THAT’S what I’m talking about.

I’m not going to lie, you guys. This app? Totally not sexy. Although I’m AM a huge fan of the delicious purple color. But what this app does? TOTALLY important. One might say necessary, depending on how many times you have to key in your password before you get it right…which for me is often quite a few. KEY stores all of your passwords in ONE place, so you never have to remember the 27 billion passwords for all the sites you utilize. With the free KEY app, you can store your passwords on a single device, but with KEY Premium, you can use the app on ALL your devices, whether you’re a PC/Mac/Android/Little i. You won’t have to try to remember all the passwords, as the app will keep them for you. You’ll only need to remember your KEY password.

So who needs another flashy app when the function is what keeps you safe?

Just for you, I’ve got a code to try KEY Premium for two months, so you can see if less than $2/month is worth it to keep your passwords safe across all your devices. Download the KEY app and use the code PREMIUMKEYOFFER14 to check it out.  And even better? A giveaway.

Free KEY Premium for a year & iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi Giveaway

Oh look! The lovely people at F-Secure want to share their wisdom (and give you another device for storing your passwords)! All you have to do is enter, and we’ll do the rest. The Giveaway Tools form below will be open until September 30 at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. Good luck!

Blog Friends, have you ever accidentally given out your password to someone? How would you have handled the situation if your boss asked for your password?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Get Where You’re Getting With Curb

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Curb. I received a promotional code to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I love it when an app makes my life easier. I love it even more when it involves me not having to walk a mile in my shoes or anyone else’s.

Curb_RGB

In case you were unaware, I live in suburbia and work in downtown Chicago. The Loop. Smack dab in the middle of everything awesome. And about a mile away from the train that brings me in and out of this beautiful city.

Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, is a super useful app that helps you get a cab when you need it. I’ve been using Curb, and their network of more than 4,000 taxis in Chicago, for several weeks and I’m never looking back. The drivers are licensed, commercially insured and have all completed thorough background checks. That’s a program I can stand behind.

In the past, I would hope and pray a taxi would show up where I needed it, when I needed it, and more often than not, cabs driving by were already full with people (the perks of working two blocks away from one of the biggest Chicago tourist traps – Millennium Park). When I’m in a hurry, I want to know that a cab is going to be there when I need it. Especially if I’m trying to make a train. Cue Curb, where I can order a cab to pick me up now or plan for later! The process is simple and made my life so. much. easier.

App_Map

Recent occurrences when Curb has been a lifesaver or just plain convenient:

  • When my train was 30 minutes late getting into the city. I was only 15 minutes late for work.
  • When I left work just a few minutes late. (I have my walk time scheduled to a TEE. Any later, and I’m usually out of luck.)
  • When I met Brian for drinks in River North after work.
  • When Brian and I left the aforementioned bar and went to an event hosted by my website host. I love them.

I have yet to plan my next Curb adventure in advance, but I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. As if you didn’t already know. You can get started with Curb, and as an added bonus for you, my lovely readers, you can get $15 dollars off your first ride! Just use the code: CurbMom14 To use this code, download the Curb app on your Android or iOS phone. Then, follow these instructions:

  • Open the Curb app
  • Tap the gear symbol in the top right corner
  • Tap “Promos and Credits” on the dropdown menu
  • Enter your code and tap the “enter” key on your keyboard
  • After entering the code, $15 will appear on your “Promos and Credits” screen.
  • Full details on using the Curb coupon code can be found here:http://bit.ly/1CnLGVc 

Do you take cabs anywhere? When? How do you call for cabs? Have you used Curb or as its previous name, TaxiMagic? Will you? Tell me all your secrets.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

WTF Wednesday: You Are Exactly the Same As You Used to Be

The only difference
That I see
Is you are exactly the same
As you used to be
 

17 years ago this coming summer, my mom took me, and my three best friends, to see the Wallflowers and the Counting Crows at The Midwest Bank Amphitheater Tweeter Center New World Music Theater concert venue in Tinley Park, IL that has changed its name so many times in 17 years, that I don’t even remember what it was called back then. We were 13. Yes, 13. Our very first concert. My 8th grade graduation present. Because my mom had taken my then-sister, now-estranged-sister Deven to Bon Jovi when she was 13. I used that as leverage. And besides, my mom was rockin’ out to Jakob Dylan with the rest of us.

Remember how I told you that Katie used to wear band tee shirts? The Wallflowers and Bon Jovi were the only two band tee-shirts that I had. And I wore them with pride. (Side note: If I can dig up the shirt, I’ll snap a picture of it later today when I stop by my parents house.)

So when Brian came home two weeks ago (during a pretty rough week) and said, “Guess who’s going to be at the Tivoli (small OLD amazing theater in downtown Downers Grove)?” and I couldn’t guess right anyways…he told me, “The Wallflowers.”

And I was all, “That was my first concert.”

And he was like, “I know, that’s why you should be excited! Because we’re totally going. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.”

The Wallflowers

So last night, we had an evening with the Wallflowers. It was like a jam session. It was fucking awesome. Jakob Dylan sings better in a studio, but they rocked out the instruments like motherfucking rockstars.

The only other bands/musicians that I’ve seen more than once  were Bon Jovi and The Backstreet Boys (stop it. Stop judging me. You know you loved boy bands a good decade ago…)But last night was different. Because I started noticing things. And they weren’t good things. While Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers were “exactly the same as they used to be,” the crowd…the crowd was not.

The Difference 17 Years Makes

The Wallflowers

Not the world’s greatest picture, but I was busy watching a concert. Just saying…

Sure, there were still people who had gotten super stoned…There was still that woman who did a little coke before entering the theater and obnoxiously jumped up and down while everyone else was sitting…And I was still the youngest person at the venue…But the crowd (myself included) had aged significantly. WHY DOESN’T JACOB DYLAN LOOK OLD?!

No one threw their bras at Jakob Dylan…

I remember being 13, and watching bras flying on stage, thinking to myself, I would TOTALLY do that…you know, if it wasn’t a 13-year-old’s bra. That’d be a little awkward.

Most people were sitting down…

I mean it was a nice theater. The seats were comfy. It was more of a jam session that a crazy pumpin’ concert. And I got old. And kinda liked it.

No one had lighters anymore…

Back in the day, you may not remember this, but people used to hold up lighters when a great song was playing. No one carries lighters around anymore…It’s a lost tradition that our children and their children will probably never know. I remember a few years later, people would hold up their cell phones with the lights glowing…but now that doesn’t even happen. Because the cell phones are now cameras…which leads us to my most important point…

Half of the crowd was NOT watching the show…

Because they were too busy trying to capture it on film. You’ll note that I have one picture from inside the theater. ONE. No videos. No crazy awesome snapshots. Because I enjoyed the concert. I swayed to the music. I danced to my favorite songs. I took everything in. Including the fact that HALF of the people in the audience were too busy videotaping the show with their phones to actually appreciate the concert. It was worse when songs like One Headlight were playing or super awesome instrumental solos were happening.

What The Fuck?

Calendar After Tuesday WTF

What the fuck, people? When did we worry more about capturing things in life than actually living live? Stop for a minute. And just let life happen. My friend over at the B(itch)log wrote a post about a self-imposed technology strike and how people are all about capturing everything on film and it really resonated with me. (If you don’t read her, you fucking should. She’s awesome.)

I watched as all of these people were watching the LIVE concert through their tiny cell phones and tiny cameras, blocking the views of the people behind them, so worried about getting the right angle for the shot, that they must have forgotten where they were.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of snapping shots of my food. I want to show the world the delicious things I eat. Because, really, you need to understand why I’m a chubby kid, right? But I try really hard to live my life, and only capture on film what I need to. We take hundreds of pictures on vacation, but the really candid stuff? The things that happen that you just WISH you had taken a picture of? Those are truly the best moments. Because we remember them in our hearts and in our minds.

Another friend of mine is taking a social media break. FOR LENT. 6 weeks without Facebook. Or Twitter. Or cat memes. She’s blogging about her experience without social media, so you should ALSO check out her blog, Grass Oil. Instead of living life through Facebook and Twitter, she’s just living life.

So go out there, friends, and LIVE LIFE. Stop trying to capture it all on tape. Unless it’s some momentous occasion, like when I dreamed (two nights ago) that I was in Paris with Vince Vaughn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Nero, Matt Damon, and David Tennant…and you know what? I still didn’t manage to get my picture taken with any of them!

What was your first concert? What’s changed since then?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!