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New and Improved AYMB Coming Soon!

As I near my 2 year blogiversary, I felt it was time to make some changes at the House of AYMB. So the Dude and I (OK, mostly the Dude) have been working on a new design and interface for this blog. I will be unveiling the new and improved AYMB later this month, but here is a little sneak peak:


In the meantime, I will be attending Blog Her ’11 this weekend (if you’re also attending, please let me know!) and working on fresh new blog posts for your reading pleasure.

Thanks for sticking with me during this transition and I’ll see you back here real soon.


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New Microsoft Store Opening Soon in Costa Mesa, CA

imagesOn Thursday March 24th, Microsoft is opening its doors at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA!

Microsoft is kicking off the grand opening by giving the Orange County community a chance to vote for local non-profit organizations to receive up to $1,000,000 in software grants! The community can vote for either two of the following organizations:

  • Help Girls Incorporated of Orange County provide year-round tween programs for girls in 7th, 8th and 9th grades and inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.
  • Support efforts of Project Tomorrow, one of the nation’s leading education non-profits, ensure that today’s students are well prepared to be tomorrow’s innovators, leaders and engaged citizens of the world.

You can vote for these wonderful organizations on the “local giving” section of the Microsoft Store Facebook Page.

The schedule for the grand opening on March 24th is as follows: (continues…)

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Guest Post: Parent-Archivist (Thoughts and Tips from a Shutterbug)

Shooting Monkeys

The Dude photographs monkeys of all kinds.

One Sunday morning at the beginning of last year, I read this piece in the New York Times Magazine, which postulates that parenting today is defined by the process of archiving digital media of our children.  More morosely, it explains that

American children in 2010 have a bright, clear reason for being. They exist to furnish subjects for digital photographs that can be corrected, cropped, captioned, organized, categorized, albumized, broadcast, turned into screen savers and brandished on online social networks.

Tongue even more firmly in cheek, the article describes the initiation process into digital parenthood:

The marching orders come immediately, with the newborn photo, which must be e-mailed to friends before a baby has left the maternity ward. A conscientious father . . . must snap dozens of shots of the modestly wrapped newborn. . . . Back at a laptop, he uploads the haul, scrutinizing pixels. . . . He selects a becoming one. The mother signs off, often via e-mail, from her hospital bed. . . . Thus a parent is minted.

Indeed.  And it doesn’t stop at the hospital. We all take virtual piles of pictures now that digital cameras have become nearly disposable in price and cameraphones ubiquitious.  But for all of the advantages of digital media — immediacy, bottomless storage, etc. — there is one serious disadvantage: It takes but a small computer problem to lose it all.  Anyone who’s experienced a hard drive crash can attest to just how many precious memories can be lost in an instant.  And, disaster aside, I think we’ve all grown a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of files and sources of our digital media.

So, given my role as Archivist-in-Chief in our household, Aimee thought I might be able to give AYMB readers some helpful advice by describing what we do in terms of documenting the Monkey, how we archive/curate it all, and how we secure and back it up.  But first, some background.


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Sharper Image Literati E-Reader: Review & Give-Away!


(entry for the Literati giveaway is now closed)

I have been waiting to get an e-reader ever since I first learned of their existence. However, I really didn’t want to spend money on an expensive e-reader that didn’t have color. So I waited.

And waited.

Until now…

The new Literati e-reader by Sharper Image is here. And it’s in color!

Why do I care so much about color? Because I want to read my magazines in color. I want to see the pictures in my cookbooks in color.  But, most importantly, I want to read my son’s favorite children’s books with him in color. Most e-readers are black and white because they use e-ink technology, which also means there is no back-lighting. The Sharper Image Literati uses a back-lit LCD screen, which not only means it can display color content but that you can also read in the dark.  There will be no need for a book-light! This is good news for any late-night readers that don’t want to disturb their partner while they sleep (*raises hand*).

I like my gadgets to not only work well, but to be stylish and easy to carry around. The Literati is sleek and small enough to throw into my purse. What I also love is that the Literati comes with a simple, but effective, free case. I always hate buying an expensive gadget and then have to go out and buy a separate case to protect it.

The Literati is also simple and easy to use. Unlike other e-readers that are really more like tablet computers, this one seems purposely simple. What that means is that when you turn it on, you get a bookshelf.  Period.  You don’t get a set of icons and unnecessary features. Another bonus is that this device synchronizes with your other devices. As described in the 4th video on this page , if you’re reading a book on your Literati and stop on page 20 you can start reading on your smart-phone right where you left off. (continues…)

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Ruckus Media Group iPhone/iPad Apps for Children – Review and Giveaway!

RUCKUSMOBILEMEDIAFINALLOGOIf you’re a regular reader of AYMB, then you already know how much I appreciate kid-friendly iPhone apps for my toddler.  The use of educational yet entertaining iPhone applications for children can be such a fantastic teaching tool and I strongly believe in their value. It goes without saying that I’m always on the lookout for great new apps, which is why I was very excited when Ruckus Media Group contacted me about reviewing a few of their new story apps for children.

Ruckus Media Group, a global mobile family entertainment company, has just released it’s first animated children’s story applications for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. These classic stories include:

Tom Thumb and the Knights of the Round Table, told by John Cleese, illustrated by Tim Gabor, music by Elvis Costello

The Velveteen Rabbit, told by Meryl Streep, illustrated by Dave Jorgenson, music by George Winston


The Velveteen Rabbit (image courtesy of Ruckus Media Group)

Johnny Appleseed, told by Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Stan Olson, music by Mark O’Connor

Pecos Bill, told by Robin Williams, illustrated by Tim Raglin, music by Ry Cooder

John Henry, told by Denzel Washington, illustrated by Barry Jackson, music by B.B. King


Pecos Bill (image courtesy of Ruckus Media Group)

I was given the opportunity to sample The Velveteen Rabbit, as told by Meryl Streep, and Pecos Bill, as told by Robin Williams. With all five story apps, you have the option to watch the video narrated by the actors, read the story yourself, or even read and record the story.

The Velveteen Rabbit

Meryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses and to hear her dramatization of The Velveteen Rabbit story was an absolute pleasure. In a lilting British accent, Ms. Streep brings a wonderful tone to this classic story. The images, drawn by Dave Jorgensen, were visually stunning and rich and the music by George Winston was soothingly gorgeous. The story is the perfect way to end a day and calm a child for sleep. It’s also the perfect story app to have in time for the upcoming holiday season. (continues…)

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