Sustainable Living: 5 Best Ways To Beat The Heat And Spare Your Wallet

Heat like the sort the East Coast has been experiencing has many different effects but perhaps the most ubiquitous is just how lazy it makes us.  No one wants to tackle insulating the attic when its 100 degrees outside, even if it would make your home significantly cooler.  So let’s take it slow.  Here are our top five small, simple steps you can take to beat the heat: guaranteed to make a difference you can fell but the environment and your bank account won’t even notice!

1. Got AC?  Let it sit around 78 degrees.  While you might be tempted to set it to “arctic”- running your unit at temperatures lower than 78 will not cool things down any faster or more effectively.  What it will do however, is force the system to work harder, use more energy and force you to pay up more at the end of the month.  Think of your AC as a baseline tool to be used in conjunction with other tricks.
2. Fan of a good fan?  Try placing one or two frozen water bottles in front of your fan, it is effective, low-cost and low impact.  But the best part?  You’ll never have that panic-stricken moment of “did I leave the AC blasting at home?”  Frozen water bottles aren’t just low maintenance, they’re no maintenance.
3. Sheets to the wind. This is one old wives’ tale that you can trust.  Plus, we love it because its so simple; just hang a damp sheet in front of your window and the sheet will cool air entering your home.  It is also a great way to dry your sheets when they come out of the wash as using the dryer heats up small homes quickly. Which leads us to…
4. Unplug your life.  Turn off any heat-generating devices: the dryer, the iron, the hairdryer, the toaster and oven.  Even small electronics, like laptops, when used frequently can generate heat that you may not notice to the touch but contribute to rising indoor temperatures.  A great excuse to put down the tablets and phones and head out to a barbeque!
5.  Spice. Hydrate. Repeat.  We all know that body temperature can also be changed from the inside out.  Heatwaves are a great excuse to order delivery (you can’t use the oven after all) from your favorite Thai, Indian or Ethiopian place.  It is no coincidence that cultures originating from sizzling parts of the globe typically have equally sizzling native cuisines.  The wisdom in spicing up your insides is that it generates sweat – activating the body’s natural cooling system. In terms of your liquids it is also important to keep very well hydrated and drink much more water than you normally would.  A simple glass of ice water might be the most effective coolant of all, though a cold beer with your spicy Mexican food is also advisable!

Cheers to staying cool this summer.

Green Tech: Unlocking the Power of Play

Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman are on a mission to show the world that the value of play can not only be measured in smiles but in very real economic and social terms.  Both Harvard students had volunteered traveled extensively in Africa and also shared a passion for soccer: the continent’s (and the world’s) most popular game.  In an engineering class they got the chance to marry these two passions, capitalizing on an opportunity to improve living conditions in African through the continent’s love of soccer.
What does such an ambitious project look like?  A sOccket, a small generator cleverly disguised as a soccer ball that charges as you play with it!  Three hours of LED illumination is stored in the sOccket per every half hour of playtime.  It can also charge small electronic devices like a cell phone.

This ingenious solution isn’t just making an economic impact by delivering renewable light energy to many rural areas.  There are important health benefits as well because most of the developing world still relies on on kerosene lamps that pose huge safety hazards: the fumes inhaled by children in kerosene-light homes is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

The sOccett vs. huge public health threats is been a game that’s garnered the attention of an international audience.
Today there are more than 6,000 sOcckets “kicking around”, literally, from Africa to Mexico to Brazil.  Uncharted Play, the organization founded by Matthews and Silverman to distribute their product received overwhelming support from corporate sponsors principally because of how easily and effectively the tool integrates into daily life.  As Matthews explained, “Why don’t we give you something that you already like to do and get what you need.”

And sOccket has yet another a new fan, President Obama.  During his recent trip to Africa his team set to work distributing the item to many African nations and on a tour of a facility that manufacturers the ball he even showed off some of his soccer skills! A huge goal for the two Harvard girls who knew just how powerful play could be.

Tech Tips: 5 Way To Maximize Your iPhone’s Battery

Dim Things Down

One of the simplest ways to maximize battery life without compromising user experience is to dim down the brightness of the screen light: the lower the light the more effectively you are using your device.  Just use the handy slider to test out different degrees of light intensity.

Settings – Brightness – Wallpaper

Skip the Bluetooth

Wireless transmission of data really puts a drain on your battery, especially during large chunks of the day when you may not need this feature (like when you aren’t using your headset/earpiece or are using your computer/tablet or primary device).  By switching Bluetooth off you can extend your battery life significantly.

Setting – Bluetooth – Off

The DIY Approach

Your iPhone is programmed, by default, to fetch data automatically (this is called “Push” in apple terms).  While this is perfect for getting email instantly, it is no always necessary and uses a lot of battery power.  By fetching your emails manually, you can receive mail only when you want to read it and enjoy a much longer battery life.  This approach is a user favorite and has made a big difference for many iPhone users.  Checking your mail manually on an iPhone 5 is even easier than tapping “refresh”: simply pull down the top of the browser and the page updates!

Settings – Mail – Contacts – Calenders – Fetch New Data. Here, you can turn off Push completely, schedule it for intervals of your choice or, select “Manual”.

Curb Your 3G Use

If you have an iPhone 3G or later model you know the joys of a very fast 3G of 4G LTE network connection.  But this faster browse-ability comes at a battery cost.  If you are in a bind and not trying to load webpages turning off your 3G/4G LTE connection will help you avoid that that red battery icon no one likes to see.

Settings – General – Slide Enable 3G to “Off” on some models or Enable LTE to “Off” on the iPhone 5 or newer

Bring Airplane Mode Down to Earth

Contrary to popular belief, Airplane Mode isn’t only for jet-setting, it is a setting that can save your battery!  Remember, this mode disables all data services, translation: no calls, texts or data. So its really best if you are just saving enough juice of a quick call in the near future.

Setting – Airplane Mode “On”

5 Tech Resolutions for the New Year

Posted on January 02, 2013 | Apps, cell phone, ExchangeMyPhone tips, phone, tablet, Tech tips

New year’s resolutions traditionally seem to revolve around drinking, smoking, eating and exercising. More of some and less of others. On January 1st they are conscientiously begun and, by the middle of the year, they have been almost entirely forgotten.

new years resolutions

So we have come up with something a little different: 5 tech resolutions that are easy to start and require very little willpower to maintain throughout the year:

1) Change your passwords. If you haven’t done it in the past 4 months, it’s a great idea to change all those passwords you use online. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes and you’ll feel incredibly responsible afterwards, safe in the knowledge that you have secured all your personal information. If possible, try and do it at least 3 times this year. If you’re worried about keeping track of all those passwords, look into storing them in a password vault.
2) Back up your data. We have all seen those Facebook status updates from friends (or perhaps we’ve posted them ourselves) saying that their phone was stolen and/or broken and they’ve lost all of their contacts. We all know how important it is to back up our data but it is one of those jobs that always gets pushed to the bottom of our to-do lists. Why not bite the bullet and set up an online backup service or invest in an external hard drive? If you have an apple device, it couldn’t be easier, just make sure your iCloud backup is turned on throughout the year.
3) Go through all your emails. This may take a little longer than the first two, but it is well worth the effort. There is something deeply gratifying about tidying up your inbox, deleting old messages, putting important emails away in folders and unsubscribing from those email newsletters that you never read. Plus, it will make opening your emails every morning much easier and far less time consuming.
4) Delete apps you’re not using. This is a great and easy way to clean your devices and create new space. Go through your phone and computer and delete any apps and files you haven’t used in a couple months.
5) Take tech breaks. Spending time on our laptops, cell phones and tablets can become addictive, and not always in a good way. Step away from your gadgets and make the time to take a walk, have a coffee with an old friend and read a great book. Sometimes disconnecting for a while can be just the ticket to regaining some energy and perspective.

 

Do you have any tech resolutions for the new year that you’re excited to start?

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ExchangeMyPhone Holiday Gift Guide: From Our Staff, With Love

At ExchangeMyPhone we know when it comes to gift giving it can be a jungle out there!  Which is why we have been busy putting our heads together to make things a little easier and take some of the guess work out of gift giving.  Whether you are shopping for the entrepreneur, the environmentalist, the creator or the tech type on your list, our gift guide is EMP-employee-certified to bring smiles all round.

Jeremy’s Pick
Jeremy - the Lean Startup

A few business books stand out as actually changing the way that we do things at ExchangeMyPhone. The Lean Startup was one of the books that I turned to again and again (it still takes pride of place on the shelf next to my desk). Eric Ries’ tome was given to me as a Christmas present years ago and I have always been so grateful for my family’s insight in giving it.

The book is a great gift for any budding entrepreneur and, even better, it could be given in combo with one of the business classes taught by those who have been in the trenches, or are still there. Skillshare is one of our favorite places to take and teach classes and we think Rafael Balbi’s class on Lean Startup style entrepreneurship would make an incredibly thoughtful gift to anyone on your list who has dreams of launching and developing a business in 2013.

Katherine’s Pick
Katherine - Brook's Green Silences sneakers

We are passionate about keeping toxic materials out of the landfill and we’re always excited to come across other companies who share our commitment. With New Year’s resolutions creeping up on us, we know a few people on our holiday list who would love a new pair of running shoes to kick off a healthy 2013. Problem is, running shoes are typically built of tenacious materials. So we did our research and found an amazing biodegradable alternative: meet the Brooks Green Silence sneakers.

Made with roughly half as many parts as comparable shoes, each piece of these performance racing flats has a sustainable element. In fact, their biodegradable components degrade 50 times faster than standard shoes in anaerobic conditions and are predicted to save 29.9 million pounds of landfill waste in roughly 20 to 25 years. All in all, these sneakers make the perfect sustainable gift for anyone who is trying to start a great new habit in 2013.

Maggie’s Pick
Maggie - Brooklyn makers

At ExchangeMyPhone we love our Brooklyn community. Though none of us are Brooklyn natives, it is definitely what we mean when we say home. From biking to our favorite pizza spots in Bushwick to townhouse admiring in Carroll Gardens to getting lost in Prospect Park, we are grateful to live and work in a beautiful place full of so many interesting people doing interesting things.

Brooklyn Makers by blogger, photographer and breakfast aficionado Jennifer Causey is a celebration of Brooklyn’s unique creativity and takes you inside the workshops of 30 of the borough’s artisans. From chocolate making to metal work to pottery and whiskey distilling there is something for everyone! Plus, each profile is complete with beautiful photographs and an in-depth Q and A. This homage to handcrafts is perfect for any maker on your list, not to mention the Brooklynites or those you are convincing to come for a visit!

Seth’s Pick
Seth - AR.Drone2.0

Tech gadgets make great gifts during the holidays and at ExchangeMyPhone we are definitely into technology. One of the coolest devices we’ve come across is the AR.Drone2.0. The AR.Drone2.0 is a drone quadcopter (a helicopter with four blades) that can be controlled remotely by your iPhone or Android device. The drone has an HD camera and can do some impressive aerial maneuvering.

However, what makes the AR.Drone2.0 so interesting is that users can reprogram the device to fly by itself. Controlling a helicopter with your iPad is cool- but programing a helicopter to fly circles around the cat is *awesome*.

The AD.Drone2.0 is the perfect gift for someone who is interested in hacking or a parent who wants to give their children a really exciting technical opportunity.

Use your old phones to help those hit hardest by Sandy!

Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast on Monday, leaving towns and cities flooded and millions without power.

Here in New York, we’ve been humbled and awed by the city’s response – everyone has been doing their bit to help by offering shelter, food, transport and volunteering around the city.

Want to help? Wherever you are in the country, we have one easy way that you can support those in need:

Donate the value of your old phones to one of our featured charities, Team Rubicon, and support their efforts to serve those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Your donation to Team Rubicon will help them purchase supplies, such as chainsaws and gasoline, so that response teams can save those who are stranded and clear debris.

How does it work?

1) Collect old cell phones from your home, co-workers, family, friends etc

2) Get an instant price quote on our website (you can also call us up on (212) 804-7270 or email us at hello@exchangemyphone.com to arrange sending in a large collection).

3) At checkout choose to donate the value of your cell phones to Team Rubicon.

100% of your donations will go to supporting Team Rubicon’s six response teams stretching from D.C. to New York.

Want to know more about Team Rubicon?

Team Rubicon bridges the critical time gap between large humanitarian disasters and conventional aid response. They provide vanguard medical care by fielding small, self-sustaining, mobile teams of military veterans and medical professionals. Since its creation in January 2010, TR has saved and helped thousands of lives in Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, Sudan and here in the US. TR reaches victims outside the scope of traditional aid organizations, victims on the fringe. One of our favorite parts about Team Rubicon is that 100% of every dollar you donate goes directly to their missions – no salaries, no overhead, no exceptions! We’re proud to support them.

Turn your cell phones into vehicles for good and donate to support the Hurricane Sandy relief effort today!

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Startup Office Envy: The West Coast Edition

Simply being located on the West Coast of the United States is enough to incite envy among East Coasters as we bundle up for another fall and winter.  However, these awesome tech startup offices don”t stop there and, fair warning, they will probably have you updating your LinkedIn profile and checking out flight fares to San Fran and LAX.  Here are ExchangeMyPhone‘s top picks for the most enviable tech office spaces the Pacific coast has to offer, where innovation thrives inside and out.

west coast map

AirBnB
If you haven’t already heard, AirBnB is the online matchmaker for travelers and residents that lets people rent out their homes or extra rooms to their peers for short-term stays. Seeing as this is the start-up that ‘started up’ a revolution in travel accommodation it only makes sense that their own digs would reflect their passion for that “home away from home” feel.  And AirBnB does not disappoint.  Hands down the coolest thing about their San Francisco office is, rather than take office inspiration from outside sources, they took it from their own listings! So when AirBnB staffers go to work they go to offices modeled after one Berlin artist’s pad, a Soho loft, a Hong Kong bachelor pad and our personal favorite: a rural mushroom cabin in Aptos, California.  And, ever a stickler for the details, the AirBnB designers even worked with the apartment owners to make sure the smallest touches were true to the original listings.  So, should we have this meeting in the Parisian garotte or the Swiss chalet?

AirBnB west coast office

Zynga
This San Francisco office is sort of like stepping inside a disco ball, but seeing as the company is one of the largest providers of social game services, it is only fitting. You enter the work space through a neon glowing tunnel and the lobby is complete with sequined decorations and a vintage Winnebago they fondly call the Zyngabago. In the basement they even have a game room where Mafia Wars is king. But the best part? Employees are actually encouraged to bring their pooches to work with them and the entire office is totally K9 friendly.

Zynga startup office

StumbleUpon
You may have squandered innumerable hours in the black-hole of procrastination that is StumbleUpon but there is no wasting time, or efficiency, in their office.  In their San Francisco home, the center piece is definitely innovation. Even the conference rooms are named after great inventors: for instance, the  Pasteur room is fully equipped with beautiful and fully-functional vintage microscopes.

StumbleUpon startup office

But StumbleUpon isn’t just a pretty face, they also take into great consideration the well-being of their employees.  Check out these perks: catered breakfast and lunch daily, $100 of Uber credit for transport at month, visits with the massage therapist who stops by twice a month, and a chance to win a new iPad for Hack Week, an annual event in which employees work together on “out of the box” ideas for StumbleUpon and one idea is chosen to be implemented.

Urban Airship
Urban Airship (provider of easy, affordable way for mobile publishers and developers to deliver real-time push notifications and in-app purchase content to their app users on multiple platforms), is all about transparency when it comes to their brand identity and their office space.  They began, like many start-up boot-strappers in a shared, incubator-like, office and loved the open feel.  So, even a lot of success and their own stuffing office later, they don’t have any private offices and it’s one of the reasons they moved into the wide-open space of their current office last year.

Urban Airship startup office

Added perks? Friday happy hour (from their in-house keg), a celebratory, engraved bell for the sales team to ring after big deals are made, and finally, no vacation policy! This is a technique that the founders credit Netflix for; you take the time that you need when you need to take it, and you put it on the shared calendar for the entire company to see. People know when you’re going to be gone and can plan accordingly around gaps and releases. As for now, no one has abused the policy.  And why would you? With a homey office, scavenger hunts around Portland and flexible vacays its not a place you’d want to avoid.

Pinterest
Pinterest is synonymous with beauty.  It is basically all about a feast for the eyes but, oddly enough, their Palo Alto pad is a bit of a contradiction.  Tucked away on a suburban block in an unmarked building, these guys have no time for frills and fancy break rooms: namely because they can’t take breaks.  With a staff of only 25 people, Pinterest has exploded in the past year and now drives more online traffic than Google+, Youtube and LinkedIn combined! Understandably, that leaves no time for decor. But ExchangeMyPhone predicts that this will be an office to keep your eye on, with the sort to gigantic success they are seeing we don’t think they won’t have a fold-out snack table for too much longer.

Pinterest startup office

How to setup your new iPhone 5 like a pro

You got a new iPhone 5. You’ve done the celebratory dance and ripped open the packaging, but now what?

From the looks of things, the bulk of this year’s iPhone buyers are converts who have switched over from Android or BlackBerry. So we have put together this guide to get the newbies started, and give a few tips and tricks to the Apple veterans out there:

1. Email setup

This couldn’t be easier. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. From there, you can add several accounts. The process is automated for each different email provider, you just have to enter your username, password, and a label for that mailbox that only you can see (personal, work etc).

If you want to save battery power, select Fetch. This means that your iPhone will scan for new emails at regular intervals. If you choose Manually, your new email will only load when you touch the Mail app. If you’re an email junkie and need to stay in touch every minute, select Push. This means that new emails will automatically load on your iPhone as soon as they arrive.

2. If you only install one app…

…make it Find My Phone. We have all been known to drop our phone down the sofa cushions, leave it in a cab or worry that someone has nicked it. When you set up your phone make sure you create an iCloud account. Once you have that ready, the Find My Phone app can track your phone to a cross street at all times. You just go online at icloud.com to locate and retrieve it.

3. Safeguard your privacy

First things first, you should set a password. Go to Settings > General and select Passcode Lock. Second, if you don’t want advertisers spying on your iPhone activity go into Settings > About > Advertising and switch Limit Ad Tracking to the On position. This way advertisers will no longer be able to bombard you with targeted ads and you won’t sending advertisers information about your movements and smartphone usage.

4. Back up, reset and wipe your old iPhone

If you are selling your old phone, you will want to back up everything you have and then wipe all your personal data (rest assured every phone sent to ExchangeMyPhone is double-checked and wiped of all personal data during the inspection process).

Backup: Connect your iPhone to your computer via Apple’s USB sync cable. Launch iTunes and right click your iPhone in the left panel. Select “Back Up” from the right-click menu.

Reset and wipe: Remove your SIM card, if you have one. If you’ve got a Verizon or Sprint iPhone, call them up or go to their website to deactivate the phone. Go to Settings > Messages > iMessage and turn off iMessage. This will stop your messages from going to your old phone even after you have erased and started using a new phone. Finally, go to Settings > General > Reset and select Erase All Content and Settings. This erases all of your content so you can safely sell your device, or give away as a gift.

This guide is by no means exhaustive (for a full rundown go to Apple’s website) but we hope you found it helpful in getting accustomed to your new iPhone.

Don’t forget, if you just upgraded to the new iPhone 5 you can sell your old iPhone at ExchangeMyPhone and make your week even better.

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Super Smart Smartphone: Will the iPhone 5 Rock the GDP?

With election time getting close and the eyes of America glued to the economy, the most noticeable economic boost might be delivered from an unexpected source: the iPhone 5. So while the hopes of Apple fans are dizzyingly high for today’s scheduled unveiling of the smartphone family’s fifth addition, economists are paying attention for a different reason. The folks at JPMorgan recently released a report called “Can One Little Phone Impact the GDP?” Their conclusions were optimistic.

Uncle Sam iPhone 5

How can this be you ask? Well, much of this prediction is derived from the fact that the majority of the products that make up an iPhone are domestically manufactured. Though the amount of press Apple has received this past year regarding their presence in China might have given a different impression, just under 70% of the value of each iPhone will contribute directly to the US market. This means that every iPhone5 sold at $600 is worth $400 for the the U.S. economy. Not too shabby when you consider that Apple could sell as many as 8 million units, for a whopping total of more than $3 billion dollars, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate. Experts predict that such a scenario would raise fourth-quarter profits by one-third of a percent, conservatively. JP Morgan is betting it could go as high as half a point.

apple jobs created

But not so fast. The study also warns against unbridled iDolization of the superpower strength set to be unleashed later today. According the Huffington Post’s Dino Grandoni, JP Morgan’s analysis failed to “take into account forgone sales of alternative phones — that is, sales of other cell phones that would surely happen if the iPhone 5 weren’t on the market. Those foregone sales should be subtracted from the GDP boost.”

So, what’s your vote on “the Apple stimulus package”?

iPhone 5

Smartphone apps: Let your phone lead the way this Labor Day

Summer is officially sliding into fall, our white trousers are making their final few outings and we have one last three day weekend to celebrate before the new school year kicks off in earnest. However you plan to celebrate, we have five smartphone apps and phone gadgets to help you make the most of the weekend:

Last-minute Travel

If you are planning a getaway this Friday, and haven’t yet found a great place to stay, download the Airbnb app on your smartphone. The free Airbnb app links you up to more than 200,000 rental spaces worldwide and gives you the opportunity to live like a local wherever you go. You can book a hip apartment in New York, a tree house in Vermont or even a castle in Italy.  If you are feeling really adventurous, or perhaps just really strapped for cash, you can rent out your own apartment while you’re away to cover the cost of your mini-break.

Airbnb smartphone app

Capturing the best holiday snaps possible

Our phones have become so much more than just the devices we use to chat with our friends or answer emails. With their high-resolution specs, they often become our favorite camera as well. Phone-photography has improved in leaps and bounds, but sometimes you need a little hardware to capture the perfect moment. Whether you need a steady hand for a video or want to jump in the picture with your friends, a tiny tripod is often the way to go. Of all the models out there, the Gorillamobile flexible tripod is our favorite. It can stand anywhere and works with nearly every phone.

Gorilla mobile tripod

Home Decorating

With September promising cooler nights and the start of a new season, you may be keen to get a head start on some home improvement projects this weekend.  If you are tempted by a bit of a home makeover, there are some great mobile tools to get you started. You can browse Houzz for inspiration, pick paints with Benjamin Moore’s Color Capture or test out those colors on your own, virtual walls at Home Decorator.

houzz smartphone app

Treasure Hunting

If you’re anything like us, you can think of no better way to spend a weekend morning than exploring yard sales and stoop sales in your neighborhood. It is a great way to get to know your neighbors and you can often find some hidden gems that need a new home. Any yard sale expert (aka our CEO) will tell you that you need to arrive early to snag the best treasures, but how do you know when and where the nearest yard sales are going down? Gone are the days or having to read chalk signs on the pavement, or scour the trees and telephone poles for signs, you can download the Yard Sale Mapper on to your iPhone and easily find out where and when there are yard sales happening throughout the country.

Yard Sale Mapper smartphone app

Staying in the city

While everyone else flees the city for the weekend, do you love to stay put and revel in the fact that you have the place largely to yourself? It is a well known secret, particularly amongst New Yorkers, that holiday weekends are the best time to stay in the city. The crowds thin out for a couple days and, most importantly, you don’t have to wait for hours for a table at your favorite restaurant. Why not take the opportunity of the three day weekend to explore the perfect dining experience? Yelp and Zagat have pretty great smartphone apps, but our favorite is LocalEats. Only $0.99 on the iPhone, the LocalEats app serves up the top 100 restaurants in 50 major cities, as selected by professional foodies.

LocalEats smartphone app

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