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The world of Alexa is still somewhat foreign to me as our family does not yet have an Alexa enabled device. For those that do, however, there's some fun new content - particularly if you have kids who are Disney fans. Launched this week, Disney Dailies is a new kids skill for FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa with jokes, fun facts, and all-new sketches set in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ award-winning film ZootopiaDisney Dailies delivers new content every day, building an amazing collection of voice-enabled experiences. Kids will hear knee-slapping jokes with Mickey Mouse and Daisy Duck, learn brain-teasing fun facts that intertwine Disney stories with science, art, and history, and will be treated to a huge suite of all-new sketches and stories that show kids “What’s up?” with their favorite characters. But that's not all...

Vacationing is one of the greatest aspects of adulting. After working tirelessly for months at a time, spending a week or a long weekend at a tropical paradise can be just what someone needs to replenish and relax. However, for a variety of reasons, millennials aren't using their vacation days as much as other generations, leaving an estimated $1.3 trillion worth of wasted vacation on the table each year.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface.

Rube Goldberg Machine ContestIf you've ever seen Back to the Future, played a game of Mouse Trap or watched a recent OK Go video (particularly "This Too Shall Pass"), then you've seen a Rube Goldberg Machine. These creations are elaborate, generally ridiculous machines that are crafted for the purpose of accomplishing a mundane task... like brewing a cup of coffee or feeding your dog. Rube Goldberg has been called "the grandfather of S.T.E.M." due to the enduring legacy of his iconic illustrations. Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning engineer and cartoonist, and his "invention cartoons" were the blueprint for countless contraptions that now bear his name. In 1988, things became official with the start of the RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE CONTEST®, originally as a college competition. Three decades later, the annual contest encourages student inventors from across the country to create the best machines that they can, and for the 30th Anniversary, the 2018 contest came to a conclusion in Chicago.

I'm not exactly the most fashionable guy, and that's something that I've been known to admit on an increasingly frequent occasion. When it comes to just about anything, I'm more interested in solving a problem... accomplishing a task and making sure that things do what they claim to do. I get pitched a lot of products here at Rock Father HQ and what you see in the midst of these virtual pages is just a tiny percentage of what comes in. Tech and fashion share a lot in common in that a lot of the pitches that come in just don't serve any real purpose - they're just more... stuff. And when it comes to the ever-growing world of phone accessories, much like fashion designers always seem to be borrowing "inspiration" from someone or somewhere else, I don't see a lot of innovation and that bores me to the point of losing interest, hence I don't cover a lot of it. There are exceptions, and one recent product that arrived here for review and cut through the clutter is Monet. So what exactly is a Monet? 

With two little girls here at Rock Father™ HQ, my wife and I have purchased more than a few pairs of "kid-safe" headphones over the past few years, and frankly, most of them are garbage. From expensive ones that the kids find uncomfortable to the cool-looking, yet terrible-sounding licensed variety sold for cheap at retailers like Five Below, I've checked out a bunch and had never found any that I could really be excited about until now. At New York Toy Fair, I came across something unexpected while browsing the latest offerings from the crew over at Wicked Cool Toys. They've recently partnered with Halo Acoustic to help bring CozyPhones to a wider audience, and after bringing a couple of pairs back to Illinois, they're an immediate hit. CozyPhones are a 3-in-1 combo of headphones, sleep mask and a stylish headband.

The feature is brought to you in collaboration between Blackboard™ and The Rock Father™

For a guy whose entire life revolves around a digital presence, I tend to be notoriously old-school when it comes to my tools of the trade. In an age where many work on tablets and multi-purpose screens, I still prefer to do the majority of my work from a desktop pc with a mechanical keyboard them emulates the typewriters of old. Sure, I use a laptop for working on-the-go, and I've got an arsenal of tablets in both iOS and Android flavors, but for me nothing beats being in my office, in the chair, ready to work within my comfort zone. Even here, there were some very non-digital quirks until recently - in fact, until the summer of 2017, I kept my monthly calendar on a dry-erase whiteboard (I finally switched to Google Calendar at my wife's urging), and was apprehensive of cloud storage for my backups, my habits remaining in a physical world. Likewise, I've always had an attachment to writing - actual writing - in a true form, and until recently, there was no way to bring that into a digital world... but that changed. A product I didn't even know I needed came my way - Blackboard™ by Boogie Board - and now old-school meets new-school in a way that just feels right. It's Liquid Crystal Paper™, and there's nothing else like it.

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

It's been more than eight years since my wife and I first became parents, and despite writing about gaming often, it wasn't until this year that I finally got to start spending some real time blowing up some pixels again. I upgraded from the Xbox 360 (which I still have) to the Xbox One S, promptly jumping right back into the kind of military-themed action I used to enjoy. After all, when it comes to fall, that means Call of Duty Season is open, but when I bought my system it came with Battlefield 1. Thing is, it's difficult to blow stuff up good when there's two little girls and a wife sleeping upstairs, and that means headphones. For the task at hand, I've got the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

Updated 10/23/17 - We're in day four of the #TwitterLocked situation, with more and more users coming forward with similar tales...

Original Story: It began on Friday, October 20th - hot on the heels of an announcement that Twitter had unveiled a new timeline for its efforts to combat online trolls, bots and stifle abuse on their platform. Unsuspecting users - potentially thousands of them - woke up to find their accounts locked out for "exhibiting automated behavior that violates the twitter rules." After resetting via a code on the app, they would immediately be locked out again, at which time twitter would make an automated phone call to provide another code. Once the account was unlocked, users reported losing some of their followers, but more concerning - they had lost the complete list of who they were following... a complete reset to zero. Most of the users affected did not appear to be breaking any rules, nor were they posting any offensive materials. Many of those who found their accounts locked were bloggers and members of the media. I know about this first-hand, as I was one of them.

It's not too early to be thinking about the holidays, and when it comes to gift-giving for tech-savvy kids, the folks at KD Interactive have a full suite of products that are worth of a look! Join The Toy Insider this Friday, August 4, for the #KDInteractive Twitter Party taking place from 11am-12pm ET for a chance to win some of the hottest new kid's tech! The Kurio Watch 2.0 Smartwatch, Kurio Snap Camera, Kurio Next Tablet and Aura Drone will all be featured as The Toy Insider shares information on each, along with serving-up chances to win! You must RSVP to participate: http://bit.ly/KDIntRSVP

Presented in collaboration between The Rock Father, BOSEbuild and Life of Dad

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “summer slump” - that mid-year break between the end of one school year and the beginning of another. While I’ve long-said that kids don’t have enough of a summer break, even a matter of weeks is enough to break the cycle of learning, and that can be troubling. As parents, it’s up to us to make sure that those curious young minds are still learning during the summer months, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities are a great tool to have. For those with kids curious in how things work, BOSEbuild has just the project - and it’s so much more than simply “building a speaker.”

Thursday, February 23 2017 07:07

Home Surveillance: Catching Mischief in the Act!

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The Rock Father™ has partnered with EZVIZ and Life of Dad for this feature.

There’s that old saying about “getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar.” Well, in 2017, I don’t actually know too many people that actually have a cookie jar that holds cookies (there are some cool display pieces out there), but there are certain ways to interpret that, both literal and figuratively. Let’s just go with the fridge, for example. My wife and I have reached a point with The Rock Daughters™ where they collaborate on shady endeavors - the kind of mischief that is apparently normal for kids rapidly approaching the ages of five and eight. One such habit is swiping food, and it tends to be yogurt (not cookies) that’s the object of desire. They sneak into the kitchen like little grifters - an “Ocean’s Two” of sorts, checking to see if the coast is clear before cracking the fridge. Thing is, if daddy spies on them, it becomes a little more difficult.

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