Monday, June 29, 2015

Enjoy Television Shows & Movies On Your Own Schedule With Xfinity TV Go App

**Disclaimer** I have been provided a complimentary subscription to the Xfinity TV Go app and access to the Comcast cable programming lineup as part of the Xfinity blogger reviewer program. Opinions expressed are my own. #Xfinityreviewer


The days of having to sit in front of your living room television at a dictated time to make sure you didn't miss your favorite TV show are long gone!  With the TV Go app customers of Comcast #Xfinity service can watch the television shows and movies available through their subscription package whenever and wherever they want via a mobile device.  I tested out the Xfinity TV Go app the last few months and it was so nice and convenient to be able to enjoy television shows and movies on my own schedule.


To get a parking space when picking up my kids from elementary school ( our district eliminated busing to balance its budget and our kids live more than 2 miles away from the building ) you really need to arrive a half hour early before classes are dismissed.  I often pulled out my iPhone while waiting for their class to get out during the school year to catch up on television shows I missed when they originally aired.  Streaming on T-Mobile worked great providing  a crystal clear picture without any data loading hiccups.  I have an unlimited data plan with my smart phone plan so I wasn't concerned about the cost of streaming; but I'd recommend you understand your own plan's limitations before using this app because data charges may apply for accessing Xfinity content through your mobile phone company depending on the service agreement you have with them.  Another nice feature about using this option in my car was that through bluetooth connectivity I was able to project shows' audio through my vehicle's speakers to enjoy a great sound experience while watching them.  I didn't mind hanging around in the parking lot waiting for my kids to get out of school so much thanks to the Xfinity TV Go app to help me pass the time.


When using the app around the house we used our home wi-fi which tended to work just as well as streaming through our phone service's data plan. We don't have a television in our master bedroom and my wife spent some time recently recovering from having her tonsils removed so she used the app quite a bit for awhile.  The TV Go app was really great in keeping her from going stir crazy while she was bed ridden for a few days.  I have to admit enjoying some shows and movies myself from the comfort of bed too when I was feeling too tuckered out to want to stay up and see them from our living room couch. After giving the kids a bath and putting them to bed did I really want to go back downstairs on a Sunday night to watch "Game of Thrones?" Thanks to TV Go that wasn't a decision I had to fumble around with during Season 5.


Convenience really is where this app comes in handy.  I've used it a lot as an outside television via my iPad on the backyard deck.  The kids and I have really enjoyed watching Detroit Tigers games on nice warm summer evenings.


I've also enjoyed coming home from work for lunch on a nice afternoon to eat on the back deck while watching an episode of one of my favorite shows American Pickers.



During March Madness, I had the basketball games on my iPad in the kitchen while helping my wife out with making family dinners and cleaning up so I wouldn't miss a minute of action.



You can select to watch shows LIVE that are available on your Xfinity channel package or anything that is viewable via On Demand whenever it is convenient for your own schedule.  Going on a summer family trip and want to have accessibility to your Xfinity programming to keep yourself or your kids amused on a rained out day or during a long car or plane ride? Another nice option is you can download TV episodes and movies through the app onto your phone or tablet so they can be viewed later without being dependent on wi-fi or a cell signal.  For those times when you are looking for a quick way to keep children occupied there is also a nifty feature that provides a tab in the menu options which provides a directory of some of the most popular Xfinity programming that is "family friendly" and suitable for viewing by young children.  For extra protection you can create a pass code and enable parental protections that block content you don't want your kids to get access to.



The TV Go app is available for Android and iOS devices and is a benefit of being a Comcast Xfinity subscriber.  This service gets A Geek Daddy nod of approval for its accessibility, convenience and dependability.  For more information on Comcast Xfinity's products and services please visit www.xfinity.com.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Care Bears Roar Onto The Comic Scene



After a 25 year lapse, the Care Bears are returning to the pages of a comic book series.  Roar Comics, the young readers imprint of St. Louis-based publisher Lion Forge Comics, has announced it will be bringing the popular characters from the '80s back to life in their own comic book that will be debuting in a digital format this year and in print next year.  Readers will be able to download an app that will feature the new Care Bears series as digital single issues along with interactive educational content.  That will be followed up by a print collection of the digital issues that is scheduled to be available in May 2016.

The Care Bears series is being written by Georgia Ball (My Little Pony, Scooby Doo) with illustrations by Melanie Gillman (As the Crow Flies).  The publisher is promising that this new series will have the same emotion-driven cheerful adventure stories that first made the Care Bears franchise a global phenomenon in the 1980s.  Care Bears started as a line of greeting cards in 1981 and quickly became a smash hit children's entertainment franchise with a series of animated films and television cartoons along with a blockbuster-selling toy line.  The new comics will launch ahead of a new animated series, Care Bears & Cousins, set to debut on Netflix in 2016.

"The best thing about writing Care Bears is that each of the core characters has a distinct personality and a role to play that take them on exciting adventures to new places," writer Georgia Ball relayed to A Geek Daddy blog via email.  "I've worked with American Greetings on comic books before and loved every minute of it; I'm thrilled to be writing with them again on a property that was such a major part of my childhood.  Melanie Gillman's art is just terrific -- cheery and bright, just like Care-A-Lot itself. Kids are going to love it."

Roar Comics plans to provide more information on the new series plus release artwork samples  during the big Comic Con convention in San Diego.  The publisher also announced during the American Library Association's recent annual conference that the company's full catalog of e-book releases will be available via Follett's digital lending platform for access by library patrons across the country.  If you have a library card, you may want to check out what e-books and digital comics you may have access to.  I know that's a service our family doesn't take as much benefit from as we probably could.

"Getting comics into the hands of kids everywhere is crucial to Lion Forge's mission of making comics for everyone," Lion Forge CEO Dave Steward noted before attendees at the American Library Association's Annual Conference.  "We want our books - especially great new series like Care Bears - available to librarians and their patrons on any platform and medium they choose."

Those are words I like to hear!   Keep an eye out for more information about the Care Bears comic books as their app becomes available on digital platforms, the printed books hit retail shelves next year, and hopefully the digital and print versions will be available soon at your local public library.  I'm pretty sure a lot of children (and their parents who were kids in the 80s) are going to be excited by this new comic book series.

Keep Your Kids Amused & Learning Over the Summer Break Through A Library Reading Program

While lazy summer days may be fun they can also really set kids behind when it comes time to return back to school.  A good way to keep children amused during the break is to check with your local library to see if they are offering a summer children's program.  Libraries across the United States often participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program which is a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children and teens.  This year's theme is "EVERY HERO HAS A STORY" which participating libraries can base activities and programs around to entertain and educate children throughout the summer.  It is important to keep children reading throughout their summer break to maintain proficiency so they don't start the new school year with diminished academic skills.  While some library programs focus on just reading others also include programs that promote math, science, history, and an appreciation for learning in general.  These programs primarily take place during the month of July so now is a good time to check into them and get your kids enrolled.

My kids started off their summer with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle day at the library which involved doing various feats around the children's section like a bean bag toss, bucket stacking competition, and scavenger hunt to get them familiar with visiting the library.

Other activities taking place throughout June/July include reading to a therapy dog, competing in a LEGO building block challenge, doing experiments at a science fair, enjoying a magic show, attending a safety presentation with police/fire departments and participating in a program called "Be a Math Hero."  Most of these activities are an hour long and they are sprinkled throughout the month so children still have plenty of time to enjoy just being a kid during the summer.  Plus these programs tend to be somewhat entertaining for the kids as well as educational which is always a plus for me from my parenting perspective.

In addition to the activities and programs offered, my kids also are challenged to submit a list of books they've read each week to the library for a chance to win prizes.  Also every kids who participates in the reading challenge gets some FREE books from the library at the end of the year.  Our librarian has told me that they've received a donation of Kohls Cares books so that every child participating is guaranteed a good quality new book to take home as a reward for their participation. I'm sure this varies from library to library but we appreciate seeing Kohl's being involved in the community with our local public library, especially because our family does a lot of shopping there.


Most of these programs are aimed at children from preschool to fifth grade.  If you have some kids in that age range that don't have a whole lot planned to do for the summer, I encourage you to contact the libraries in your area and see what they have going on.  To search for public libraries near you, visit  publiclibraries.com

JULY FIRST MARKS THE RETURN OF MICKEY MOUSE TO THE PAGES OF COMIC BOOKS

After being on hiatus since 2011, Mickey Mouse is returning to the pages of comic books on July 1, 2015 when IDW Publishing begins a monthly serial titled WALT DISNEY'S MICKEY MOUSE that will feature the beloved character in brand new adventures.  Mickey Mouse first appeared in his own comic book story in 1941 and over the years his stories have continued through a variety of publishers which all maintained continuity with issue numbering until the series culminated with Boom! Studios' Mickey Mouse #309.  In 2011 after acquiring Marvel, Disney opted not to renew its licensing agreement with Boom! Studios as it was determining how it was going to merge its new acquisition into its corporate family.  So there has been a void in comic books featuring Disney's Mickey Mouse and friends characters until this year when IDW Publishing picked up the license to bring them back to life in print.

The first issue of IDW's MICKEY MOUSE will hit stores on July 1, 2015 and will have duel numbering on its cover being billed as #1 (#310) highlighting the beginning of the series with the new publisher but maintaining the legacy of the overall continuation of stories featuring the character since the 1940s.  This new issue will feature Mickey Mouse in a jungle trek as he travels "The Lost Explorers' Trail" and has a run in with the daredevil Eurasia Toft during the adventure.  The comic book will be 48 pages, retail for $3.99 and be available in a primary jungle themed cover plus a variant one that celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Disney Land amusement park.


Mickey Mouse will be joining Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, and Walt Disney's Comics & Stories as  Disney themed comic book series.  For more information, visit www.idwpublishing.com/disney-comics


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Make Sure First Car Moments Are Memorable Rather Than Regretable Times

I have partnered with Life of Dad and Michelin for this promotion.  I have received compensation for my participation, but my first car memories are my own. 



Do you remember the moment someone first handed you the keys to your very own car?  My #FirstCarMoment was saving up enough money from summer and part-time jobs to purchase a Buick Skyhawk my Senior year of High School.  Oh the freedom and adventures I had soaring around in my very own ride.  First Car Moments aren't always limited to teens and young adults though as I recently had a #FirstCarMoment when our family purchased and started driving a mini-van, which must be a parenting rite of passage.  We've had a lot of fun and adventures in our new ride, but it is also important to keep safety in mind when you are hauling around valuable cargo like children.

Many parents take a lot of care in making sure children are buckled up properly in a vehicle but don't think much about the safety of the tires they are riding around on.  Michelin encourages drivers to make sure that tires stay in good condition to keep you safe.  To get the most out of your tires - maximum mileage, safety and wear - it is important to properly maintain them.

 

How often do you you check your tire pressure?  Did you know that tires can lose up to 1psi (pounds per square inch) every month? Underinflation not only reduces your vehicle's gas mileage but could jeopardize the integrity of the tire creating a safety hazard.  Michelin recommends checking your tire pressure every month.  It's easy - here's how to do it:
  • Purchase a tire pressure gauge you can trust - we keep both an old school pencil popper gauge and a newer digital one in our vehicles.
  • Check your tires "cold" before you've driven or at least three hours after you've driven.
  • Insert your tire pressure gauge into the valve stem on your tire (If using a digital reader it should begin reading air pressure immediately.  For the pencil style tire gauges, the gauge will pop out and show a measured number.  When you hear a "pssst" sound that is air escaping the tire which shouldn't affect your tire pressure unless you hold down the air pressure gauge for an extended period.
  • Compare the measured psi to the psi found on the sticker inside the driver's door of your vehicle or in its owner's manual.  Don't compare to the psi printed on your tire's sidewall.
  • If your psi is above the number, let air out until it matches. If below add air until it reaches the proper number.
While doing your monthly air pressure check you may also want to test out the tread on your tires.  Not having enough tread creates safety problems by not allowing for enough grip on the road or increasing the chance of a blow out. We always keep a few pennies in our cars so we can check for wear with some help from Honest Abe.  Here's how:
  • Take a penny and hold Abe's body between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Select a point on your tire where tread appears the lowest and place Lincoln's head into one of the grooves.
  • If any part of Lincoln's head is covered by tread you're driving with a legal and safe amount of tread.  If your tread gets below that (approximately 2/32 of an inch) your vehicle's ability to grip the road in adverse conditions is greatly reduced and really increases the odds of getting into an accident.



Another tire maintenance tip to keep in mind is to regularly rotate your tires.  This involves having every tire and wheel removed from your vehicle and moved to a different position so that all the tires wear evenly and last longer.  Making it a regular routine like changing your oil helps preserve the durability and safety of the tire. Michelin recommends tires should be rotated every six months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

 Most First Car Moments though don't involve 40 year old dads with mini vans but rather teens who don't have a lot of experience and can sometimes be lacking common sense when it comes to driving on the road.  Summer is a critical time to remind drivers of the importance of tire safety because the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers, based upon accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Safety Council.  The cold hard reality is that automobile accidents are the number one killer of teens in America resulting in five thousand deaths per year.  There are also 2.2 million accidents that occur each year in the United States involving inexperienced drivers with 12% of those being the result of tire-related issues (26% are attributed to low tread depth; 32% attributed to improper tire pressure).



Michelin's #FirstCarMoment campaign is designed to create a conversation about the milestone and connect it to the importance of safe tires on that first car - or any car.  For experienced drivers we should use these First Car Moment reflections to remember the importance of taking car of our vehicle's tires and this is a chance to reinforce with new and inexperienced drivers the importance of tire safety.  Reducing the accidents due to improper tire maintenance are preventable and by following the simple tips listed above people can help reduce these accidents and save lives.

I cringe a bit when looking back at some of the trouble I could have gotten into racing around in that Skyhawk as a teen so it really is important for us as adults to reinforce with young and inexperienced drivers the importance of not just driving safely but maintaining a car properly too!


Remembering to check your tire pressure and tread monthly will get you a thumbs up from the Michelin Man for helping to reduce the roughly 264,000 crashes with inexperienced drivers that occur annually due to tire-related issues.





Are your tires ready for summer? Check out this informative video that reinforces the tips that I mentioned above. For more safety tips from Michelin please CLICK HERE.

 

DISCLAIMER:  It is not recommended to drive wearing a Darth Vader mask or anything that would obstruct your vision.  The photographs used in this post were staged for effect and the publisher never drives while wearing such apparel. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keep Your Romance Sparked With A Movie Date Night


Do you remember the moment you met the love of your life?  For me an attractive blonde caught my eye standing outside a restaurant where I was headed to meet some friends for dinner as I drove past heading to the public parking lot on the block.  I swear our eyes locked and she gave me a smile.  When I arrived at the restaurant there she was at our table as one of our mutual friends had also invited her to join the group for the evening.  She smiled at me and said "didn't I just see you outside as I was coming in here?"  We dated for two years and this year will be our 11th wedding anniversary.

With busy professional lives and the parenting responsibilities for 6 year old twins it can be hard to make time for one another.  With the cost of babysitters, not much family close by to conveniently watch the kids, and young children that suffer from life threatening food allergies which can make others watching them tricky to put it simply getting away for a date night can be just plain tough. Sometimes though you just need to take a drive to dump the kids off with grandma and grandpa for awhile or put them to bed early to have a date night that may be as simple as watching a movie at home together to keep the stresses of life from tearing your relationship apart and to enjoy being with your special someone.  So while we love having Family Movie Nights it is also important to make time for some Couple Movie Date Nights as well to help keep the spark alive.


Since our Family Movie Nights with our kids are dominated by animated movies and when we go to the theater my wife normally lets me pick out an action or sci-fi flick for us to see when it comes to picking the dvd or digital download we're going to see for our in-home Date Nights I leave that selection to my lovely bride.  She likes the work of Nicholas Sparks and so we've had quite a few Date Night watching movies like A Walk To Remember, The Notebook, The Best of Me, and Safe Haven.  I'm sure there will be a Date Night for us coming up soon because a new Nicholas Sparks movie The Longest Ride will be available soon to bring home with the digital download available to purchase on June 26, 2015 and the Blu-ray/DVD being released on July 14th.

Thanks to our friends at Fox Home Entertainment, one lucky A GEEK DADDY blog reader will win a free DVD/Digital HD Download of The Longest Ride so he or she can enjoy an in-home date night with a spouse or significant other. Must be a U.S. or Canadian resident over 18 years old and submit one or all of the following entry methods to earn up to 3 entries prior to 11:59 pm EST on Friday July 17, 2015:

E-mail thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com your name and mailing address with the story of the moment you first met your spouse or significant other. Email subject line should be DATE NIGHT SPARKS. (1 ENTRY)

Visit our Facebook page and on the contest post leave a comment telling us about the moment you first your spouse or significant other (2 ENTRIES)

 **By submitting your story you grant permission for it to be published on this blog or via A Geek Daddy's social media accounts as part of the #InsidersLongestRide promotional campaign** 

All valid entries will be assigned a number in the order they are received and one number will be  selected to determine the winner using random.org.  E-mails will only be used to contact the winner and deleted following the selection of a winner.

Based on the bestselling novel by master storyteller Nicholas Sparks, The Longest Ride centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia, a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City's art world.  As conflicting paths and ideals test their relationship, Sophia and Luke make an unexpected connection with Ira, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire the young couple.  Spanning generations and two intertwining love stories, The Longest Ride explores the challenges and infinite rewards of enduring love.

video

DISCLAIMER:  A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but Fox Home Entertainment is responsible for fulfillment and delivery of the prize.  By participating in this contest you waive any liability towards A Geek Daddy Blog or its publisher that may arise from your involvement with this promotion.  If you win this prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Prize will be delivered by UPS or FedEx so no P.O. Boxes are allowed as mailing addresses. A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any financial compensation but did receive a review DVD for the blog and the prize that is being awarded to one of our readers for this contest.  A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this contest as a benefit to our readers. Any opinions in this post are my own.  #InsidersLongestRide

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nickelodeon is going to the dogs with premiere of new series Mutt & Stuff

Programming on Nickelodeon is going to the dogs, and I'm not talking about the Pups of PAW Patrol which my kids adore, with the addition of a brand new television series in which will feature Cesar Millan, star of Nat Geo WILD's Cesar 911 and former star of Dog Whisperer, and his son Calvin interacting with a cast of real dogs and puppets at a canine school called Mutt & Stuff.  This series, also called Mutt & Stuff, will balance teaching puppies to behave and perform tricks with lessons for children to help with identifying and managing their emotions, building interpersonal awareness, and developing social skills.  Additionally the show will carry a message promoting pet adoptions and responsible pet ownership based upon Cesar Millan's philosophies.

Mutt & Stuff will premiere on Friday, July 10, 2015 at 10 am (ET/PT), joining Nickelodeon's regular weekly morning preschool lineup of content that includes the popular shows PAW Patrol and Blaze and the Monster Machines.  Sid and Marty Krofft, the creators of two of my favorite TV shows when I was a youngster H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost, are serving as executive producers along with Cesar Millan on bringing this show to life on Nickelodeon.


The focus of the show will be on following 16 year old Calvin Millan and his best friend Stuff, a larger-than-life dog with a personality to match as they take viewers inside the doors of Mutt & Stuff.  Each episode will feature fun tricks, training lessons, and some doggy humor with the help of 15 playful puppies and some charismatic puppets.  Cesar will join in on showing Calvin and Stuff how dogs should be guided and highlighting the benefits that the friendship and loyalty of puppies can bring to a family.

Calvin began working with his father at the age of eight when he appeared on the Dog Whisperer helping to train small dogs.  In 2012, he toured Asia and Canada with his dad appearing in the show CESAR MILLAN LIVE.  Cesar of course is well known for his time as the host of the Dog Whisperer television series and more recently as the star of Nat Geo WILD's Cesar 911.  He is also a best-selling author, frequent public speaker, and a pet care product designer.

In addition to Mutt & Stuff being broadcast on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr cable networks, NickJr.com and the Nick Jr. App will feature Mutt & Stuff content and clips.  The series premiere episode will also be available to view via NickJr.com, the Nick Jr. App and on Nick Video On Demand beginning July 11.

CLICK HERE for more information about this new Nickelodeon television series.