On A Mission: Playing the Ingress App Game (and getting powered up at Duane Reade)

Ingress Android App

I was recruited into a top-secret mission, and it involved a new Android App called Ingress and Duane Reade.  Sounds bizarre right?  But this is NYC and anything and everything can happen.  Here are the details behind my mission, and the highly addictive Ingress Game:

A team of scientists in Europe has unearthed a mysterious energy called Exotic Matter (XM). The origin and purpose of this force is unknown, but some researchers believe it is influencing the way we think. Our future is at stake. And we must choose a side.

“The Enlightened” seek to embrace the power that this energy may bestow upon us.

“The Resistance” struggle to defend, and protect what’s left of our humanity.
Once they have picked a side, players will have to move through the real world using their Android
device and the Ingress app to discover and tap sources of this mysterious energy. They will be able
to acquire objects to aid in their quest, deploy tech to capture territory, and ally with other players to advance the cause of the Enlightened or the Resistance.
The struggle is being played out globally. Players will be able to track the progress of other players around the world, plan their next steps, and communicate with others using an Intelligence map.
An Investigation Board (http://www.nianticproject.com) filled with cryptic clues and secret codes
awaits. The story evolves everyday. Powerful secrets and game tech are there to be unlocked.
The struggle to save the planet spans the entire world. Cooperation across neighborhoods, cities, and countries will be needed to achieve the ultimate victory.
For the first time in history,the World becomes the Game!

Like any good secret agent the first thing I had to do was set up my code name.  Sorry, I am not going to reveal it here. The Ingress App looks cool, futuristic, and immediately makes you feel like you are truly on an undercover mission, but it is also tracking your location continuously in order for you to be able to find clues and compete.

That has an upside – great immersive game play, and a downside – you are literally being tracked. As a woman, I’m not entirely comfortable with that.

Still, I was up for trying the game, incognito.  I had no idea what to expect, but set out on my first mission to Duane Reade.  On the lookout for a special window cling that let me know there was something special relating to Ingress in the store, I set out to my nearest Duane Reade…

And there it was.  The sign I was looking for.

Ingress window cling

Of course the next trick was figuring out where the actual game tag was inside Duane Reade.  Turns out it’s right in the section I would normally avoid – the ICE CREAM and frozen meal freezer!!  Seriously.

IMG_0848

I have a suspicion that my children were in on the placement of this tag.

The game is very addictive.  I can see how using this all over the city would be really interesting and could allow for amazing scavenger hunts and other branded tie ins.  I somehow resisted buying ice cream during this trip to Duane Reade, but I see the potential for both companies that participate and the players to connect in this virtual game space that allows for real life interaction.  This is not a game for kids.  Location tracking is on all the time, and the tie-in to consumerism wouldn’t be great either.  But for an adult who wants the experience of gaming that meshes the real and virtual – and has the potential to add a dimensional twist into their every day walks, drives and shopping – it can be very, very fun.

Check out my full Google + album of my Ingress adventure (and shopping spree for Valentine’s Day goodies)

There are a lot of bloggers out trying the game.  You can follow Duane Reade on YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter using the hashtag #IngressDR to see all the fun tweets, posts and insights into the game.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™, but all opinions are my own. #CBias #SocialFabric

#2013CES – The Best in Tech for Tweens and Parents

The KidzVuz Team headed out to Las Vegas for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show at CES to cover the best of tech and electronics for tweens and their parents.  Connected Smart TVs and OLED TVs from Samsung wowed us.  Cool Android Cameras from Samsung and Poloroid sent our inner shutterbugs buzzing.  And we saw tons of cool cases, accessories, tablets and headphones that we know every tween would want.  Not to mention portable speakers for iPods that will definitely be seen again on our Camp Guide this Spring.  Check out the cool stuff and let me know what you’d like to own!

  1. Hang ten! Check out the surfboard mount from @sonyelectronics in their action camera. #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/FUMFIaD5
  2. Ooh- @poloroid Fotobars are opening around the country this year. Print in metal, bamboo-cool #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/080XhkxN
  3. Hi-def sports video camera @poloroid only $69-199! So awesome for skiing, boarding, sports loving kids. #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/goOzgNS1
  4. Still love the instant gratification of instant film. @poloroid #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/Z7ab20qK
  5. Love the @poloroid android camera with interchangeable lenses #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/7yssylPk
  6. Love the $149 @poloroid kids tablet. Lots of fun preloaded game apps and kids age browser. http://pic.twitter.com/674LYIf3
  7. Check out the MobiTour Bluetooth speakers at @iluv_world #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/P4KESAQZ
  8. Loving the super cute neon earbuds at @iluv_world and new ReF headphones. #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/SQfGkwQ6
  9. Fun new products from @radioshack including this cool glass shield for mobile phones. At @techlicious #techtea http://pic.twitter.com/tGgFpniY
  10. Super high tech garbage cans. Solar powered compactor that tells the collector when it’s full. #vzwbuzz #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/UvG5D7gD
  11. Checking out all the smart connected health devices @verizonwireless. #vzwbuzz #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/TMseNgzt
  12. Does your kid play football? Or bike? New @vzwbuzz helmets keep track of the impact.
  13. Mustaches are officially out and sunglasses are in. You heard it here first. #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/zTbPqriX
  14. Who lives in a pineapple/iphone under the sea? @griffintech #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/uCUD1MoN
  15. OMG! Every tween girl’s dream! A blingable case for your phone. DYI! @blingmything. Fantastic. #2013CES http://twitpic.com/btn4wc
  16. Loving this laser cut iPad case from @bosign Gorgeous! http://twitpic.com/btn3x2
  17. Perfect portable speakers for camp and only $10! Love. @jamspeaker http://pic.twitter.com/DgnJHmPX
  18. Love rockin’ out in the shower. Check out the @jamspeaker splash http://pic.twitter.com/LTjkOY2c
  19. Pic of the @jamspeaker drop proof (kid proof) speakers. http://twitpic.com/btmqgv
  20. Cameras that let you project videos right from the camera. Or from your other devices. Cool. @sonyelectronics http://twitpic.com/bu3iis
  21. Even your dog cam take awesome action shots. @SONYELECTRONICS #2013CES http://twitpic.com/bu3i2d
  22. Ooh @Hip2Housewife is being indoctrinated into the future at @verizonwireless #vzwbuzz #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/e6XjJGvl
  23. Ultimate media and data monitoring for parents. Whoa. #vzwbuzz #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/PR0DXYT9
  24. A fireplace of light. Built in to the table top, keeping food and drinks hot or cold – and even cooking. #whirlpool2020 http://pic.twitter.com/bQDqBign
  25. The craziest, weirdest, totally unexpected, funnest thing at #CES2013 so far: bit.ly/ZrzDQh
  26. These are oven hoods. Seriously gorgeous. #whirlpool2020 #2013ces http://pic.twitter.com/K28ilULX
  27. Get social with your @samsung smart hub TV. So cool. #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/LSsLIhmD
  28. Galaxy Note II so great. Still think its a great all in one device. @samsung #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/b2Y3K3oc
  29. So in love with the @samsung Galaxy Camera. So perfect for shutterbug bloggers and parents. #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/r72T637B
  30. @SamsungMobile debuted a cool bendy screen prototype phone at this weeks #CES2013. Would you buy one..? http://pic.twitter.com/w3dcSuYd
  31. Check out this touch table from @Samsungtweets. It reacts to over 50 points of contact. Pretty cool IMO. bit.ly/VXuI8y
  32. Microsoft and Samsung demos ‘shapeshifting’ display, fills room with images – engt.co/WtG2bQ #EngadgetCES
  33. The lower right corner of this @Samsungtweets fridge can change from freezer to fridge whenever you need it! http://lockerz.com/s/275891505
  34. Our revamped Social Hub is easy to navigate. smsn.us/6011Vqnh It’s even easier with Voice Recognition and Gesture controls. #CES2013
  35. [PHOTO] See the Galaxy Camera, close-up at the #SamsungCES booth. http://smsn.us/6011VoCD See more. http://pic.twitter.com/X1bghOqu
  36. Kindle Touch updated with new UI, Whipersync for Voice and comic book navigation – engt.co/UOjw2Q #EngadgetCES
  37. Playing virtual air hockey with @Lenovo Horizon Table PC #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/sKV12fwc
  38. Checked out @gibsonguitar booth #2013CES and learned about their new auto tune tech! http://pic.twitter.com/lwDkcaBD
  39. . @MHEducation has smartbook – worlds first adaptive ebook #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/owa9ep1A
  40. Ibitz Uses Your Child’s Physical Activity To Power Games, Earn TV Privileges on.mash.to/RDmXXJ #CES #2013CES
  41. . @FisherPriceNews – Imaginex apptivity fortress (&figure line )- interacts w/ iPad app #2013CES #pepcomces http://pic.twitter.com/8cToaIZU
  42. Ckecking out @sonyelectronics PlayStation Book of Spells. Controller turns into Wand! #sonyCES #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/S1Z7bAdR
  43. Fully immersive multi-player gaming (each has own view via glasses) via @sonyelectronics XBR -84X900 #sonyCES #2013CES http://pic.twitter.com/rfRykgvO
  44. New RC racers controlled by android or ios! Add to our kids’ wish list. @griffintech #CES2013 http://pic.twitter.com/npb7qo0h
  45. @PanasonicUSA you can edit photos on your tv with touch pen. Swipe & share lets you view content on your tv #ces2013 http://pic.twitter.com/HYWGgCPo

Turn Your Kid into a Citizen Reporter and Reviewer With the New KidzVuz App!

appshot

I am super excited to announce the launch of the first and only video creation and sharing app for kids!  After months of hard work with a team of fabulous developers, our KidzVuz app has hit the iTunes App Store!

What can kids do on the KidzVuz app?

First of all it’s awesome for travel.  No more eye-rolling or saying, “I’m bored.”  Now kids can create travel videos instantaneously, engaging and empowering them to be a part of the trip – and share their tips with other kids.

Got a budding foodie?  Instead of zoning out at the table with a game, let them make food reviews from the restaurant – who doesn’t want to know what’s beyond the kids’ menu?

And of course it’s great for movie, theater, sports, toy, tech, book and fashion reviews too.  (not to mention showing off music, dance and athletic skills)

Anywhere your kids goes they now have the ability to have their say on the go!

Plus, they can check out what other kids have to say BEFORE they buy something.  And so can their parents.

It’s totally monitored and moderated just like our main KidzVuz.com site and it’s FREE!

So, what are you waiting for?  It’s made for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.  Download the app right now and please rate and review it in the iTunes store!  Have fun and have your say!

 

 

 

The Digital Family Summit: A Weekend Devoted to Tech, Video, Social Media for Tweens and Teens!

At KidzVuz we believe that technology is not the enemy, and that our kids need the right tools and knowledge to become creative, responsible digital citizens.  That’s why we are so excited to be part of the first ever Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia from June 29th-July 1st.  The Digital Family Summit is an interactive, hands-on conference for teen and tween digital media creators and their families.  If you or your kid is interested in blogging, entrepreneurship, creating videos, games or animations this conference will help build skills and make connections that will take him or her to the next level.

We also believe that the Digital Family Summit is the perfect way to kick off your family’s summer so that your kids can apply the amazing skills they learn over the weekend all summer long, and have a technological leg up starting the new school year.  Plus, we hope that your kids will take this new-found video making and editing savvy and become a member of KidzVuz.com where they can safely create and share their videos with other like-minded kids from all over the country!  We will certainly be looking for future star reviewers in this fabulous crowd.

Now the fun part.  You can get a 25% discount on a family pass right now using code KIDZVUZ at checkout.  Even more exciting, we are giving away a Digital Family Summit Family Pass for you and your kids to attend!  Just click on over to KidzVuz Parents Blog and enter to win!

Is that a Browser in Your Pocket? The Kingston urDrive Review and Giveaway


Thank you to Kingston for sponsoring this review. Please click here to learn more about Kingston. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own – as always.

I have a lot of projects to juggle.  Between Beccarama, the Blogging Angels and KidzVuz I have files all over the place, browser bookmarks that make my head spin and audio and video files mucking up various clouds, desktops and inboxes.  Keeping track of all of it is not easy.  But, worse is when I’m somewhere without my computer and all of my saved preferences and bookmarks at my fingertips.  Is there anything worse than being on a foreign computer and not being able to access the files you need?  No.

So, I was excited to try out the Kingston urDrive Data Traveler and see if this itty-bitty USB drive could really help me sort this all out and give me some miniature portability for all of these projects.  First, I should mention, that it only works on a PC.  Second – it’s tiny. Really tiny.  But, it fits on a key chain so you can easily have it with you at all times.  The urDrive is a free, pre-loaded application for organizing and exploring apps, games, and music. It transforms Kingston USB drives into active storage devices– rather than the “old school” device used only to store and transfer data. It has some interesting programs and apps like Facebook, twitter, YouTube and a whole kids section called Fooz Kids which allows for all sorts of parental controls and games.  Now, picture this – you get to your in-laws’ house and instead of getting on their PC and having to use their version of IE or Firefox you plug in your urDrive and it launches your personal browser – with your Twitter and Facebook accounts so you never leave a password or username behind. You aren’t being cookied on their browser or leaving an internet history behind.  Cool right?

Or better yet – your kids go over to grandma’s house and who knows what they’ll get up to on her computer – but instead they can plug in the urDRive and have their kids’ sites already there – plus photos and videos they want to share with grandma.  All on the little drive, easily organized and easy to use.  The urDrive is really perfect for sharing with family when you’re traveling since it’s all stored on one small drive, and you have your personalized features too.

There is definitely some time you have to spend on the set-up.  Like all new devices, the more time you put into personalization the better it will work for you.  The kids section is for younger kids – older than 8 will most likely find it too restrictive and babyish – but for younger kids it’s a great piece of mind when they use other people’s computers that most likely have no parental controls set up at all.  Now you want one right?

Win a 5-pack of Kingston urDrives. They’re such an obvious stocking stuffer for family and friends too! 

To enter:

Mandatory entry: leave a comment below telling me how you currently share photos and videos with friends and family.

For additional entries:

Follow me on Twitter (click the widget) and let me know you did with a comment below.

Like the KidzVuz Facebook Page: Just click on the widget in my right sidebar, and let me know you did!

Only open to US residents, 18 years or older.  Giveaway ends on 11/20/2011 at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be chosen by random.org and has 2 business days to respond and verify their eligibility.  Kingston is the sponsor of this giveaway.  Beccarama will in no way be held legally responsible for any disputes, claims, unreceived shipments or other legal issues arising from this giveaway.

Thinking Different: The Real Legacy of Steve Jobs

The first computer our family ever owned was an Apple IIc.  I was around 12 years old when the white box appeared in our home, and truth be told we didn’t use it much.  Other than typing up school papers once in a while and printing them on the rickety printer with its perforated-edged paper it wasn’t quite clear why we needed a computer in our home.  After all, my math teacher at the time still insisted that we do all of our homework with carbon paper so we could keep a copy.  But there was something about that Apple with the little rainbow Apple logo there on the monitor that was accessible, friendly, even then.

When I went to college there were only a few students with their own computers.  Big, chunky, heavy monitors that took up an entire dorm sized desk and ran MS-DOS.  But, when I bought my own computer my sophomore year with the money I had “inherited” from my Great Aunt ($1,000) when she passed away I knew right away I wanted the Mac Classic.  Right out of the box a Mac worked as soon as you plugged it in.  The little Mac OS smile popped up and even on that tiny black and white screen you felt connected – not to the net – there was no real public internet yet – but to the computer itself.  I named it R2D2.  Yes I really did.  And I was not alone.  Everyone who owned a Mac named their computers, felt protective and connected in a way that PC owners did not.

But something else was true and that was that choosing to buy an Apple Computer made you different.  It was for “creative” types (non-Apple people didn’t say that as a good thing), you were not a serious person – a person meant for, or was in, business.  Of course those people spent hours trying to locate their files on some god-forsaken directory, or spent hours installing and figuring out how to set up their computers from the get go.  But still, that perception lingered.

When my boyfriend (now my husband) went to buy his first computer I went with him to make sure he bought a Mac Powerbook.  In color!  That’s how I knew I could marry him.  (Also, he looks a lot like Steve Jobs – A LOT – but I’m assuming that was just subliminal.)  And so it went.  Got the iMac G3 in Strawberry when that came out, a PowerBook G4 (again with inherited money when my grandfather died.  Again $1000), then another iMac, a MacBook and now a MacBook Pro.  And for most of that time people still looked down at the Mac.  Mac people were a “cult”; artists, writers, etc.  And Mac people came to embrace that.  When Apple launched their Think Different campaign they embraced that too.  I used to love walking by that giant billboard in SoHo of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog with the Apple logo and the Think Different slogan.  When you owned a Mac you really did feel different – in all the best ways.

Then of course the rest of the world caught up with Apple.   The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad started making converts of so many.  Apple offered even the most conservative of computer users a way to embrace the connectivity and personalization of our new world.  People who for years interrogated me about my choice to use a Mac are now toting around a Mac Air or an iPad like it’s an extension of their body.  I’ll never forget the one family member who bought his daughter a Macbook a few years ago – the first Apple computer they had EVER owned – and he said to me with a look of total shock, “You know you just plug it in and it’s ready to go?” Yes, of course I knew that – I also knew that those who are the “creators” – the big thinkers, the ones who push limits or turn things inside out and backwards – finally started to feel vindicated.

There are so many people speculating about what Apple will look like without Steve Jobs‘ incredible vision and brilliance.  And it’s a real worry of course.  But I also think about how he turned so many ordinary people into daring creators through the ease and accessibility of the iPad and the Mac – how the iTunes store has given little ol’ me the power to podcast to thousands of listeners – or anyone the ability to record, edit and create films and music with ease – or entertain or just participate through an app on the iPad.  He has enabled and empowered kids to become the next visionaries through his products and design.  An entire generation of kids who are pushed to think differently – that’s the legacy I most want to see fulfilled.

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KidzVuz 2.0 A Site is (re) Born

Consider this a sonogram of sorts.  A sneak peek at what is about to launch on to the web on Monday, October 3rd.  You can see our current version of KidzVuz now.  But, here’s a Wordless Wednesday of what’s about to launch.

KidzVuz is a site exclusively for kids ages 7-12 where they can create reviews about tech, toys, books, movies and with the new site – travel, food, pets and sports.  So, basically everything a kid would ever want to talk about.  It’s anonymous – user names only – safe and completely moderated.  Also, IT’S REALLY COOL!!!

So get ready for the big launch on Monday and join us for our Twitter launch party on October 5th at 10pm where we will be hosting awesome giveaways and talking about kids using technology to get creative.  Let’s empower our kids through tech, rather than scaring them!