Barkings! | The SmallDog Apple Blog

A blog about our business, our industry, and our lives. You'll find posts from everyone at Small Dog and if the dogs could blog, they'd be here too!


We’ve asked a few of our employees what their favorite gifts are this season – either to get or to give, of course – and we have highlighted a few of the best!

Don, President and Top Dog:

  • The Nest smart thermostat is a great holiday gift! I use them in my home and am saving money daily as the Nest learns my habits, turns the heat (or AC) down when I am away and back up when I get home. It learns that I like it cool when I sleep and warm in the morning. It reduces your carbon footprint by only providing heat or cooling when you need it. While it is super easy to install and operate, Small Dog Electronics can come to your home to help with the installation, too! The Nest thermostat is a thoughtful gift and keeps giving.

Hapy, President and CFO:

  • I would recommend the EZQuest battery backup charger for iPhone and iPad (and most other USB devices). This sleek battery can charge your iPhone and your iPad at the same time if needed, and can store multiple charges. Never be left without a charge on your phone ever again! This has saved my bacon numerous times. Be sure to purchase an extra lightning cable to go with it (the 6-inch Belkin cable is ideal).

  • Secondarily, I always recommend the Kensington Slimblade trackball to anyone who uses a desktop machine and has a messy desk like mine, or just can’t stand the mouse. The trackball allows pin point accuracy and lightning fast scrolling combined with customizable buttons to get work done without any wrist strain and takes up minimal space on your desktop. It does take a little while to get used to a trackball, but once you do, your productivity will skyrocket and you can say goodbye to your aching mouse wrist.

Rob, Business Solutions Manager:

  • This year we added the Sonos line to our offering and I picked up a few speakers for my house and they are awesome! If you’re not familiar, Sonos is wireless speaker system that you connect through your wireless network that allows you to stream music to any room in your house from an iPad, iPhone, computer, and more. You can have reggae in the kitchen, jazz in the den, and blues jamming in the garage. It allows you to access your music streaming services like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Rhapsody as well as giving you access to radio stations around the world. If you’re like me and have a large music collection stored on an external drive you can access all that music as well. The best thing about Sonos is not the speakers themselves, but the app and how simply it brings all your music into one simple control panel. If you like the idea of using this app and already have a nice speaker setup, you can add the Sonos connect which connects your existing stereo system to your Wi-Fi network. Available for purchase in our retail stores only.

Will, Product Manager:

  • My favorite product this Christmas to gift is the Goal Zero Torch 250, which is simply great for anyone who spends their winter in VT. It is a flashlight and floodlight, a backup battery, and includes a solar panel for recharging if the sun were ever to shine through. We’ve already had gnarly driving conditions and power outages…and it is only December. The best is yet to come! This is a great backup to have in the car, at home, or in your Y2KMayan cataclysm…zombie apocalypse shelter. 

  • Then it comes to what gift I would get for myself…never an easy question to answer. I think it would have to be the Olloclip for the iPhone 6. I bought my first iPhone for many reasons but the biggest being that I would always have an amazing camera with me. The Olloclip 4-in-1 lens kit for iPhone 6 includes wide angle, fisheye, and two macro lenses at 10x and 15x…a great addition for those that love to take photos! For me the fisheye plus the new 240fps slo-mo feature makes for a great video camera. I can only expect more likes on my Instagram account. 

Morgan Director of IT & Development:

  • I had a well-loved pair of Urbanears Medis that finally succumbed to years of wear and tear that I’d love to have replaced. Not only was the sound quality exceptional, and the design simple, but they were very comfortable. I’ve tried numerous in-ear headphones over the years and the ones that fit into your ear canal become uncomfortable after a short period of time and most that just “sit” in your ear tend to fall out of mine. The Medis are unique in that they have special “EarClick” technology (replaceable rubber pieces) that hold it at rest—sort of suspended—in your ear and it can’t fall out. Better yet, since most people’s ears aren’t all the same size or necessarily symmetrical, they come with a few differently sized sets of the rubber bits so you can customize them for comfort in your ears. An added bonus for comfort and audio quality is that the cords are wrapped in cloth. You’re probably thinking, “Audio quality?!”. Yes, there’s a fair amount of vibration transmitted along headphone cords that interferes with what you hear, but that is absorbed and muted by the cloth.

Jim, Phone and Web Sales

  • On my holiday wish list this year is the iON Air Pro 3 Waterproof Camera. With 1080p video and 12 megapixel still photography, the picture quality is unbelievable and the housing is waterproof for up to forty-nine feet deep. Great for the trips with the pups to the dog friendly beaches down south, or for hitting the slopes up north!


For more holiday gift ideas and specials, visit smalldog.com/macthehalls or come into one of our retail stores. Our South Burlington store is offering extended hours now through Christmas eve.

No matter what you’re getting or giving this holiday season, be sure to share it with family and friends!

We’ve asked a few of our employees what their favorite gifts are this season – either to get or to give, of course – and we have highlighted a few of the best!

Joe, Key West Retail Store Manager

My favorite product is the Chill Pill Chillbox. It has great sound from its aluminum case and is so portable and lightweight. The battery seems to never die and the price is hard to beat. Every member of my family has one and I feel this gift would be great for anyone. And right now as part of our Mac The Halls holiday sale you get a free Chillbox with the purchase of any MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or iMac with AppleCare.

Lonnie, Inventory Controller

I play a ton of games on my iPhone and my iPad, and every once in awhile I think to myself, “It’d be pretty awesome to play this game with a controller.” Only problem is that most controllers need to be physically connected to your iOS device, and I’m not a huge fan of attaching a bulky case to my phone just to have a controller with buttons on it. So that’s why I would like the Steelseries Stratus controller. It’s small, light, and connects to your iOS devices via Bluetooth, so if you have a case you’re attached to you don’t need to remove it. The battery lasts 10 hours between charges and can be recharged through USB. It’s compatible with a number of games, from Bastion, to Badlands, to Metal Slug 3, and the list continues to grow. So if you’re really into iOS gaming, what are you waiting for? The perfect controller is here!

Tony, Business Solutions

Last spring I purchased a new iPhone 5S and prior to making the purchase I looked at all of the available protective case options on the market. I’m an avid outdoor enthusiast and am often found hiking in the rain, backcountry skiing in wet snow and riding my fat tire mountain bike in sub-freezing conditions during the winter months. I settled on the LifeProof fre iPhone Case which has received thorough testing in all types of weather conditions that would have destroyed an unprotected iPhone. My phone, on the other hand, still looks and operates as if brand new. This case is thin, lightweight and I highly recommend it.

Scott, Developer

I think the Belkin NetCam HD WiFi Camera with Night Vision is pretty awesome. I’d like one to monitor the home while away. They are easy to set up, provide quality pictures, and I really like that it can be used with WeMo switches. You can get an instant e-mail when motion is sensed. I would feel safe leaving my home this holiday season, and this camera is on sale now, for $30 off the original price.

Jamie, Rutland Retail Store Sales Associate

I would like a pair of the Urbanear Plattan Headphones because they produce great sound and come in many different colors. They also are very portable and fit nicely on your head. Thanks to the remote control built into the cable you are able to pick up calls and fast forward or rewind your music. These headphones really have it all, and through the month of December are $15 off!

For more holiday gift ideas and specials, visit smaldog.com/macthehalls.

No matter what you’re getting or giving this holiday season, be sure to share it with family and friends!

I wanted to first start by saying thank you to those who responded to my first article; I always enjoy hearing from our customers. Please continue to let us know how you use your iPhone in the car.

Now, on to more iPhone-compatible solutions in the car. Today, I want to cover the AUX/Cassette/Adaptor/FM Transmitters. As I said last time, AUX doesn’t allow for hands-free, but this doesn’t mean it’s not a great option for music enthusiasts. I also may have found a trick that works to adapt your AUX-enabled car with Bluetooth. And finally, those FM Transmitters, with which most of us have had a love-hate relationship.

The AUX, easily one of the greatest and most versatile features car companies have utilized during the digital music era, doesn’t require you have an Apple, Android, Windows or whatever device but rather a female 1/8-inch hole. Even one of those awesome portable CD players you have would work. The easiest way to know if your car has AUX is if it has a button on your radio. Then, it’s just a matter of finding where they hide the actual port (could be in the glove box, center console etc.). We sell some great AUX cables in a variety of lengths (1ft, 3ft, and 6ft), from StarTech, which all have a slim input to accommodate your case. But alas, you can’t speak through an AUX input…or can you?

In comes the Outdoor Tech Adapt. Scott (part of our awesome IT department) and I tested this one out. We simply plugged the Adapt into the AUX port in my car. The Adapt is a Bluetooth headphone adapter allowing for play/pause, volume up/down, and back/next functions, as well as a mic for calls. Spotify came through right away and sounded great — I even placed a call and sure enough, they said they could hear me. Holding the play/pause, answer/hang up button activated Siri, allowing me to text hands-free as well.

For those of you with AUX ports and no Bluetooth, you must check out the Outdoor Tech Adapt. We also carry two great AUX stands: Griffin’s Tune Flex and Belkin’s TuneBase AUX Hands-Free. I’m partial to the Belkin model, as it has lightning charger built-in and creates a great stand for the iPhone 5/5s/5c.

Now, briefly a look at the Griffin Direct Deck. Yes, this is actually a cassette adapter. Great for classic cars that still have a cassette deck and are keeping the stock look or for the pickup that it’s just not worth upgrading the stereo in. Either way, this is a great piece of technology. Simply slide the DirectDeck in, and plug the 1/8th jack into your phone. In doing so, you’ll notice the great feature of the direct deck is it has a mic built-in to the 1/8th inch connection. This allows you to take calls while using the cassette adapter. That’s right, you’re pumping jams from a streaming service like Pandora through a cassette player and placing and receiving calls. And they thought the cassette was dead!

I still remember the first FM transmitter we produced and I used — the CarTune. It was a great product with a simple design plugged into the power port and connected to my iPod via 30-pin connector. It was nice if you lived here in rural Vermont where we have a number of open FM stations to choose from. However, this was a little tougher on my first trip to Boston. I look back and realized it was more dangerous than helpful as I kept changing the CarTune FM dial to find a station that would work.

These have come a long way, and most recently Belkin released the new Lightning TuneBase Hands-Free FM with ClearCast. This FM Transmitter goes above and beyond my old CarTune. It has a sturdy stand which docks your iPhone with Lightning connector allowing it to charge and accommodates for either portrait or landscape view if you’re using Maps, which I found to be very useful. The base, which plugs into the car charging port, has the FM tuner function built-in, so that you can use ClearCast and find the best FM station to broadcast over. Unlike other FM transmitters, this one allows for easy hands-free calling. A large button at the bottom of the phone lets you answer and hang up calls and activate Siri. Check it out.

As always, I hope this information was helpful and continue to encourage you to reach out to me with your solutions for hands-free iPhone connectivity.

Otherwise known as “‘Bout time! Patch those OS’s, people!” Last Friday, Apple released an update for iOS 7, and then followed with an update for OS 10.9 Mavericks this week. Both address critical vulnerabilities that the operating systems had, not the least of which included the potential for hackers to access encrypted data (meaning they could potentially grab usernames, passwords, location data and more).

iOS 7.0.6 Update
It was largely kept under wraps, but many have speculated that the security flaw in iOS 7 was one of the largest in Apple history. iPod touch, iPad and iPhone users were vulnerable to hacking via the installed mobile browser(s) — Safari et al. However, as these issues became known, Apple acted quickly, and the release fixes the outlying problem.

If you’re running iOS 7 and you haven’t updated yet, please do so now.

Either plug in your device and update via iTunes, or navigate to your Settings app (you may have noticed that red number badge — don’t ignore that bad boy!) and tap Software Update. Click “Download to Install”, agree to the Terms, and start downloading. Note: I recommend plugging in as a preferred method so that you can back up your data before updating!

OS 10.9.2 Mavericks Update
Mavericks was found to have the same security flaws, as well as bugs within Mail and Calendar that Apple wanted to address. The update primarily “prevents the validation of encryption certificates from supposedly secure servers” so you’ll want to make sure you update immediately. Additionally, the security fixes affect Mail, Calendar, iCloud and other apps on your Mac.

If you’re running Mavericks, do this update immediately after you run a backup!

Among other things, this update:

  • Adds the ability to make FaceTime audio calls
  • Fixes and issue that may cause VPN to disconnect
  • Improves Autofill compatibility
  • Resolves a Mail issue that prevented new messages from certain providers
  • Improves accuracy of unread counts in Mail

For the whole list, click here.
For detailed info about the security content, click here.

It’s important to note that this update is fairly substantial in size and what it covers, so definitely back up your important data first. Mail will re-index once the update is installed, but that should finish quickly enough (I have a loooot of mail — tens of thousands across seven accounts — and it indexed in about 3 minutes, so it’s not too bad).

On both my Macs, I had to manually run Software Update — it didn’t appear in the list right away. Under the Apple menu, select Software Update, and it should then pop up in the list of available updates. There is also an iTunes update available that you’ll want to run that fixes app crashing problems.

Additional Sources: NY Times, Engadget

Comment

I’ll be honest here, I am not a huge Super Bowl fan. Last year, when the power went out during Beyonce’s performance (yeah Bey!) I took that as a sign and opportunity to leave the party I was at and head on home. But if feels wrong not to write something about the Super Bowl. So I confided in our office football enthusiast, Matty, to point me in the right direction of all of the essentials for game day.

Here’s his list of must-haves:

Chicken wings

If you plan on watching the big game without some finger-licking chicken wings, then you are “wicked weird!” Therefore, my recommendation will be to download the app Foodie Recipes. This month, they’ve chosen 40 different options for the ultimate game day foods. If you already have this app, make sure you update to the latest version to gain access to the 40 different Super Bowl recipes.

Beer

Well, duh! Food and drink is probably the best part (for me) of the Super Bowl. Check out Beer Hunt which is an app you can use to track beer, discover new types, rate it, find recommendations, and have competitions with your friends. Just remember to always drink responsibly, folks!

Super Bowl App

Right from the National Football League themselves, introducing the Official Super Bowl XLVIII Interactive Game Program! Everything you need to know about the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. Enjoy animated starting lineups and stadium renderings, Twitter and Instagram feeds, and quickly-updated photos and video from the game. Pretty much everything you need to stay on top of things during the game — all in one app!

Or, if you aren’t super into the Super Bowl, but you are into PUPPIES, check out the famous Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. This year marks the tenth consecutive year, not quite 48, but still impressive.

“Puppy Bowl X brings viewers a lovable lineup that’s itching to play in a winning combination of terrier tackles, touchdowns, puppy penalties, fumbles and Fido first downs. This year’s big game is sure to be a tail-wagger. From barking beagles and spunky spaniels to everything in between, we’ve got the cutest players taking the field on the most action-packed Sunday of the year.”

The puppy bowl kicks off on February 2 @ 3pm.

So, which “Bowl” will you be watching? Puppy or Super?

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