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Automatic Car Accessory

I drive a lot — two hours a day covering a total of 100 miles. This week, I was shown this cool little device by a coworker and was immediately intrigued.

Automatic is a tiny device you plug into your car’s data port and links to your iPhone or Android (download at Google Play) through an app. It provides all sorts of fun information about your driving and your car. At first I thought my 2007 VW Rabbit wouldn’t be smart enough to contain the proper hardware to make this work, but Automatic actually works with most cars that have sold in the US since 1996.

The Automatic Link gives you useful information such as gas consumption, time it takes to get to and from places, driving style and car maintenance. It’ll also keep track of where you park, which can be helpful in certain situations (I may or may have not lost my car in Brooklyn a few weeks ago…).

Automatic learns your driving style and gives you the appropriate feedback to improve things like wasting gas from accelerating too fast or slamming on the breaks too often. Every week you’ll get a driving score to help you improve. They even claim that a high score could save you hundreds on gas every year.

Automatic is priced at $100 and does not have subscription fees. My other car-enthused coworker may just invest in one of these in the near future. I think I may wait to hear his feedback before rushing out to grab one myself, but I think that this could provide some really cool information as well as improve my (sometimes crazed) driving.

Have one yourself? Tell me about it!

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Dog Days of Summer Specials

We have so many deals this month, we don’t have room for them!

Click here to view our double-sided flyer with all of the specials you’ll need to see before heading back to school.

Special In-Store Financing

Go to any retail location to apply — the application process takes less than five minutes!

  • 6 month offer (no required amount)
  • 12 month offer (purchases of $499 or more)
  • 18 month offer (purchases of $999 or more)

Conditions apply; note that required Minimum Monthly Payments may or may not pay off purchase before the end of promotional period. See store for details and to apply.

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iPhone's Mysterious "Other" Data

If you’ve ever filled your iPhone to capacity, you may have suddenly noticed a gray section of stored data titled “Other” in iTunes. What could this mysterious data be?

Well, there could be a couple things that could be contributing to it, but the most likely culprits are your apps. More specifically, one culprit: iMessage. You’re probably not aware of this, but every time you send or receive a file within an iMessage — whether it’s photos or various documents — your iPhone stores that data. If you are like millions of other users who enjoy sending silly photos to friends and family (or inappropriate ones if you’re into that sort of thing), that data can accumulate very quickly over time.

On the rare occasion, restoring the iOS on your iPhone can resolve this issue, but the less invasive solution is to locate problematic apps on your phone that could be taking up space.

To free up that space, follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure your phone and apps are synced in iTunes.
  2. If possible, make sure you have backed up or copied off any documents or data you might need, as you will lose it. A lot of apps allow you to email documents and data.
  3. On the phone, go to Settings/General/Usage. You should find a list of all the apps.
  4. On the right hand side is a list of the total storage space each app is using, including the app itself. The list is also handily listed in descending order of size. If you tap on on one of the apps on the list, it shows you how much space is being used by documents and data. You also have the option to delete the app.
  5. To delete the app, simply tap on “Delete App.” The app is deleted, and so is the data stored in the ‘other’ area. Repeat for other apps if necessary.
  6. To re-install the app(s), plug it in to your iTunes and re-sync your phone. The app(s) are re-installed with no data taken up in the ‘Other’ area.

If you want a visual representation of your data, the third party app iExplorer is very easy to use and available as a temporary demo. You can also buy it if you want.

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Small Dog Ballpark Bingo at the Lake Monsters

Local Vermonters, we encourage you to head out to Centennial Field tonight for some baseball and Ballpark Bingo with the Lake Monsters! We’re sponsors of Friday Night Ballpark Bingo, and it’s your chance to try your luck and win some great prizes.

Tonight, you’ll have a chance to win a Chill Pill Audio Chill Box ($100 value) and the first 500 kids into the stadium get a free Lake Monsters baseball!

Check out the schedule here and enjoy a nice summer night at the park!

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Testimony | Steelie Car Mount

Recently, I’ve written about RokForm, the Just Mobile Deluxe Car Kit and Belkin’s Car Tune in Kibbles & Bytes as solutions to mount your iPhone in the car. However, I found that like most accessories, it’s all about what fits the user and in this case, your vehicle.

While manufacturers list most accessories as being universally compatible, we all know with the way cars are set up, that just isn’t the case. Some cars’ cigarette/DC power ports are no longer openly accessible, but rather, tucked away in the center console. The suction cup on the Just Mobile is great, but not for use on all windshields or dashboards. Side note: A friend of mine forgot his phone in it one summer day and it overheated, disabling the phone until it cooled back down (if you’ve had this happen, there’s a specific “temperature” screen that appears).

As a product manager, I have to know all this, and in turn, find a solution for everyone. I tried the Nite Ize Steelie Car Kit and I was skeptical at first — a magnet and my iPhone? Hmm… Well, go figure; it is one of the best iPhone accessories I’ve ever used, and not just for the car, but everyday use. The car kit comes with two pieces: a metal ball that mounts to your car and a magnet that mounts to your iPhone (or a to the case on your iPhone).

Mounting the ball is simple; just use the included alcohol wipe to clean the spot where you want it, dry the surface, and mount the metal ball. This metal ball is what the iPhone will attach to, ensuring you can use the iPhone at any angle or tilt, in landscape or portrait view. I mounted mine pretty high since I mainly use it for GPS. If you mainly use your phone for music or hands-free calling via Bluetooth, I suggest mounting it more out of the way. Next, attach the magnet to the center of your iPhone. I will admit that I didn’t center mine and I regret it; luckily, you can buy replacement pieces if needed. Once you have attached both pieces via their 3M sticky, you’re ready to go.

The phone easily attaches to the metal ball and allows for great viewing at several angles. It’s very secure (well tested on our VT dirt roads), and looks stylish when not in use. I’ve taken a few car trips using the GPS and it’s great; in line view so you don’t take your eyes off the road, and easily removed when you get out of the car. Now here’s the best part: there is a magnet on your phone, so it can now stick to any metal surface.

So why do I need a magnet on my iPhone? Think about it — in the kitchen, we need a timer or recipe up, so slap it on the fridge! In the garage, you may want to look at directions, so slap it on the tool chest out, of harm’s way. Working on the car? You guessed it, slap it on the car and watch the YouTube video on how to change your oil. It’s fantastic!

I understand that you may not want this magnet on your phone all the time, so we’re going to give you a free sample case to stick it on if you prefer, and you’ll get free shipping on both! Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

SPECIAL: Get a free Lake Monsters slim case for iPhone 5/5s when you purchase a Steelie Car Mount. See it here.


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