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Speck MacBook Cases Save You a Trip to the Genius Bar

speck case oneSpawning a raft of competitors, patent rivals and legal action, Apple Computers has done a remarkable job for itself in the history of technology and humanity at large.

It has also prompted the design and development of better computer casings than ever before.

Not only do we have to worry about what we transport the damn things in -- especially now that tablets, smart phones and laptops are nearly ubiquitous -- we have to fret about the bangs, scrapes, occasional floor crashes and things bouncing off touch pads or the keyboards.

So while everyone else is agog over their iPad, iPhone, or even the MacBooks Air or Pro (or the Android equivalent), I wish for the better multi-terabyte hard drive and, ultimately, solid state systems -- without moveable parts. 

As the technology keeps humming along, there are mega-storage devices for big business enterprises that can contain all our past, present and, possibly, future. Solid State/Mag drive hybrids that manage more data in a second than all the computers in the world did 20 years ago.

But for us lowly consumers we still have to carry our lives around in a metal-encased machine which houses the magic mechanisms that pull from the ether our knowledge and lifeblood.

So now we are aghast at the cracked screen proliferation seen more and more frequently as we drag these devices everywhere, risking life and limb in subways, cars, at street corners texting, talking and etching away...

It’s almost a special club now -- “I have a phone even more fucked up than yours and it still works.” 

Well that’s one of the great success of the touchscreen phone -- I see so many iPhones and some of the Androids -- like my G-Phone 2 which still runs fine even in its glorious cracked-screen state.

Though they do work -- and maybe a cracked screen is not just a reverse status symbol, but a way to ward off theft as well -- it’s still better to protect them. There are some good cases, skins, containers, bags or whatever that can offer defense against all our abuse.

And that’s why the protection of these ever-shrinking slabs and tabs has become even more critical than ever.

As a writer, my adventures take me to various tech showcases where I see demos of new tools and accessories. Sometimes, though not always, I am graced with a freebie or two that does more than take up apartment space waiting for me to test its strengths and weaknesses.

At one of those events, I will forever appreciate getting one of Speck’s line of durable plastic skins for my 13”MacBook Pro. Though I am not sure whether it was a CEA line show or a Pepcom or maybe both, they provided a valuable opportunity to encase both my Mac and Android.

That hardened translucent plastic accouterment has protected this darn device from moments of near-death and destruction. Thanks to carrying it into every air conditioned Starbucks, subway train and irate girlfriends’ apartments, my console of memory has endured abuse but not the need to see the Genius Bar.

This royal blue Speck case embracing my MacBook Pro has really kept my Mac from many a calamity. It seems to provide an air cushion between the aluminum Mac frame and it’s own surface insuring a buffer against my battering.

Speck case two

The only downside: when the Mac-perts had to do a look/see inside my baby’s innards to replace a logic board it was tough to pull my protector away. When I went to remove the skin, one of the little plastic latches that held it in place cracked away. But nonetheless it has held up and held on sans latch. It still offers a buffer against damage.

Apparently Speck entered the fray as an early entry into this accessories market. Since then competitors have slid into place -- InCase now being a dominating player with a wider range of variants-- all to be found on J&R’s website. 

Though Speck still offers the best value -- their prices seem to be about $4.00 cheaper than InCase’s similar styled products -- these competitors offer some a wider range of options from a metalized version to a hard rubberized one.

As for protecting my wounded G-2, it’s been harder to get the right service provider for that. I looked at Lifeproof and Armored shells -- all look good and multi-environmentally sound. But looks like until I adopt a Samsung Galaxy 3S --which I am hoping will appear in my mail box any day now-- I will have to want for the better wrap.

Electric Friends Play Music From Your iPod and Gaze into Your Soul

electric friendsLike the unholy spawn of Teddy Ruxpin and Hello Kitty, it’s Electric Friends! Touted as the “perfect companions at home or on-the-go”, Electric Friends act as docks and speakers for iPods and iPhones, and they scare the crap out of me.

Now, usually, I’m pretty okay with toys. I don’t look at a doll and think Talking Tina or Chucky are gonna sneak up behind me and strangle me, and I keep a few toys from the Alien films on my desk, but something about these Electric Friends give me the heebbie jeebies in a way that H.R. Giger’s xenomorph, a Freudian nightmare from beyond the stars, doesn't.

Something about their wide-eyed vacant stare and their posture that looks as if they’re getting up off the ground conjures an image in my head of that scene in Dawn of the Dead when Roger rises out of his bed after becoming a zombie. Though unlike a re-animated corpse, the Electric Friend comes with “3.5mm stereo auxiliary input to connect other audio devices” and “Touch controls located on the ears adjust volume level,” according to the press release.

You can find Electric Friends at retailers like Staples and JR, but don’t come crying to me if they pop up in your nightmares too.

You can learn more about them at 

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2012

stetsonIt is impossible to properly thank the man who most shaped your life but Father’s Day is a time to show appreciation. Here are some gift ideas for all budgets.

Getting dad a tie for the big day is a hoary cliche but there are plenty of other clothing ideas that are far more creative.

Lands End and Old Navy have plenty of summer pants, jackets and shirts that take their inspiration from when JFK and his family would spend summers at Hyannis Port.

Tommy Bahama, with its line of wild Hawaiian shirts, and Sub 70 with its colorful golf shirts and pants, are other fun summer clothing options.

If dad likes preppy footwear pick up a pair of Sebago docksiders. Neat Feat Zori and Vineyard Vines both make flip-flops with arch support that dad will enjoy wearing at the beach or by the pool.

If pop is a Beau Brummel, or you simply wish that he would dress a bit more stylishly, you can’t go wrong with shirts and sport jackets from Armani Exchange or American Eagle Outfitters. Sure we are heading into summer but fall and winter are inevitably going to come.

Columbia Sportswear and Eddie Bauer, and LL Bean all have winter jackets and coats that keep you warm without the bulk and so do a pair of newcomers to the market, Salence and Bouclier. Auri Footwear and the Fitzwell line from offer stylish dress shoes that are surprisingly comfortable to wear.

There is a cowboy lurking in nearly every guy. Stetson makes great belts, boots, and western hats like the kind Clint Eastwood wore in all of those 1960s spaghetti westerns.

Every man wants to feel a bit like Playboy founder Hugh Hefner at times. Luxor Linens ( makes plush Egyptian cotton robes that will make anyone feel like Hef whose passion for robes and pajamas is legendary.

Exercise is a key to both longevity and feeling younger than your age. Nike and New Balance both have running shoes in all styles and prices but if you’re willing to go off the beaten path, check out the shoes from Spira Footwear that have metal springs in the heels to reduce shock when striking the ground while Ahnu also makes a lightweight athletic shoe.

You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to appreciate bike riding along the Long Beach and Rockaways boardwalks or through Flushing Meadow Park. Cannondale, Schwinn, Raleigh, and Paul Frank all make bikes for riders ranging from beginners to serious enthusiasts.

Sunglasses provide invaluable protection from harmful ultraviolet rays and they have become an in-demand fashion accessory as well. Carrera is still deservedly the king of aviators while Oakley is the emperor of pricey wraparounds. Newer optical companies that are gaining market share by making quality sunglasses at moderate price points are Zeal Optics and ICU Eyewear.

Watches are the most popular form of jewelry for guys. If you are a member of the one per cent (to use Occupy Wall Street lingo) then by all means select a Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega or Longines. T

The good news is that Timex, Fossil and Long Island City-based Armitron all make watches that look fancy, keep time accurately, and are very moderately priced.

When I was growing up men would never admit to being concerned with skin care, smelling good, or even the remotest notion of being pampered. Thankfully times have changed. Shiseido, which just celebrated its 140th anniversary, makes a moisturizer that prevents both wrinkles and dry itchy skin. The Body Shop’s Maca line has face scrubs, body washes, and shaving cream at very affordable prices.

If your father is a Yankees fan, picking a cologne is fairly easy. Cloudbreak’s NY Yankees Fragrance is sold at the stadium as well as at Macy’s and Lord & Taylor. Bronx Bombers centerfielder Curtis Granderson is a spokesman for Cloudbreak and he has made appearances at both stores.

Not to be outdone, Avon still produces Derek Jeter’s Driven lines of cologne and skin care items.

The Mets have not entered the fragrance market yet but die-hard fans of the Amazin’s may want to support longtime season ticketholder and die-hard fan Mark Crames, whose company, Demeter Fragrances, makes humorous-scented colognes as bubble gum, apple pie, clean windows, chocolate chip cookie, creme brulee, and yes, dirt.

Muscles inevitably get tense and the resulting knots can be painful. Dad will be appreciative if you purchase a massage session. The Oasis Day Spa, Spa Martier, Red Door Spa, Spa Merge and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Spa all offer a wide array of massages and other spa treatments. If you want to know the best spa deals at a given moment, log onto

Many men are sensitive on the topic of hair loss. If your father is not uptight about trying products that purport to stimulate follicle growth here are some suggestions aside from Monoxidil. Grande HAIR is a spray that you apply on your scalp after showering that makes one’s follicles appear thicker.

Lexington International’s HairMax LaserComb claims that it will stimulate new hair growth from dormant follicles. Lexington says that it has the approval of the Food & Drug Administration to make that statement.

Cigars and spirits go together for special occasions. Even Mayor Bloomberg, who is as arguably the biggest health advocate in the history of elected officials, agrees that there is no harm in moderate enjoyment of most things. Camacho and Macanudo have long been popular brands with cigar aficionados.

When it comes to premium liquor you can’t go wrong with top shelf icons as Johnny Walker Black Label Whisky, Macallan Scotch, and Beluga Vodka which is making inroads against well-regarded rivals Stolichnaya and Grey Goose.

Red wine reportedly possesses cardiac benefits and there is no shortage of quality reds at all price points. I have long been a fan of Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest and Oregon’s Benton-Lane Pinot Noir has long my favorite and can be purchased for under $25.

Cameron Hughes Meritage is a good reasonably priced Napa Valley red. Believe it or not, Virginia is becoming the Napa and Sonoma Valleys of the east as evidenced by the full-bodied and mild Kluge Estate New World Red Wine that hails from the commonwealth.

If dad is a connoisseur and is partial to Italian wine pick up either Luce or Lucente, red blends from the Luce della Vite estate located just outside of Florence.

Granted, this is the computer age, and there is even a TV commercial that pokes fun at someone using a pen and pad at an office meeting, but there is still something special about a fine writing instrument.

Parker Pen has long been the leader of the field and the company continues to prove that calligraphy isn’t dead.

Of course if you really feel you dad a lot you can give him a weekend vacation [see related piece].

But you can’t enjoy a vacation unless you have decent luggage. Lands End’s Flight Time is perfect for long trips as is Briggs & Riley’s (they were the first company to put wheels on a suitcase back in 1970) Expandable Uprights and Spinners.

There's a lot of choices for things you can buy this Father's Day, but there's one thing you can't buy: a tired cliche that is still more or less true. Love.

So go out there and tell your dad you give damn about him.

Oakley Unveils New Sunglasses For 2012 Olympics

The Summer Olympics are returning --to London, England, this time -- and you know what that means, the return of sponsored clothing and accessories that date themselves!


While journalists, bloggers and the like may not be Olympic-level caliber, Fitness Magazine nonetheless recently hosted a Blogger Meet and Tweet event where non-athletes (aka couch potatoes) could see the latest innovations in athletic gear. 

Sunglasses giant, Oakley Inc. Eyeware  -- the official sponsors of Team USA’s eyewear for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games -- unveiled its new official Team USA eyeware collection at the event.

One of the sunglasses tested was the Oakley Overtime, specially made for women. Lightweight, yet durable with clear peripheral vision, not only do these sunglasses have all the high-tech performance features that Oakley eyewear is known for, but also an innovative patented hydrophilic Unobtainium® earpads and nosepads that ensure your sunglasses stay in place.

Oakley-Overtime-Womens-Active-SunglassesOakley urges you to: "Help cheer on the US team, whether you’re there in person, in London or at your favorite sports bar, with the special limited edition collection."

Each of the designs will feature the US Olympic Team colors and are laser-etched with the Team USA mark at the corner of the lens. Oakley’s limited edition will be worn by the US 2012 Olympic team, and by anyone who wants top performance and style.

In addition to the 2012 Olympic sunglass line, Oakley unveiled its global Beyond Reason campaign which includes a number of Beyond Reason events worldwide. An April launch in the flagship Oakley NYC Soho store (113 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012, 212-673-7700) featured 2008 Olympic gold medalist decathlete Bryan Clay and artist Natalie Frank.  

Both were on hand to highlight the Beyond Reason collaboration between high performance athletes with artists for a specially-commissioned Beyond Reason art piece to showcase creatively how elite athletes approach their performance through a distinct, personal lens.   

Featured athletes include:

  • U.S. sprinter Lolo Jones
  • U.S. beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh
  • British cyclist Mark Cavendish
  • South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius
  • Australian cyclist Cadel Evans
  • Spanish triathlete Javier Gomez 

The campaign culminates in a grand finale to be held at the London Design Museum (28 Shad Thames) on July 26, 2012, the night before the opening ceremonies.

The art pieces inspired by each athlete’s Beyond Reason vision will be fully unveiled at this special gala to celebrate Beyond Reason and the Oakley athletes competing in the 2012 Olympics.

For more info go to:

Beyond Reason Finale
July 26

The Design Museum London
28 Shad Thames
London SE1 2YD
United Kingdom
020 7403 6933

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