As someone who doesn't carry a wallet, I'm always thankful when I find a retailer that accepts credit card payments through my phone.

Such businesses are difficult to find, so my iPhone is inside a small case that opens to hold only three cards: my driver's license, a debit card and a credit card. No, it's not a man purse. It's the size of my phone, but about twice as thick. For me, it beats carrying around both a phone and a wallet.

But even with just one credit card on me, it's tempting to leave it at home and only carry my phone with me.

When I go to a business with a mobile card reader, I'm looking for one that uses Bluetooth technology to connect my mobile phone to its credit card reader so that the credit card stored on my phone can be seamlessly and securely used.

I'm looking for Bluetooth for two reasons: So I don't have to carry a physical credit card with me, and so I don't have to use the chip in the card and spend an inordinate amount of time at the cashier.

There's also a third reason, which I really did't think about much until I went to Europe last summer for vacation: High merchant fees for using a credit card.

The mobile card reader from SumUp seems to solve all of these problems. Here's how: ...continue reading

streaming servicesWith rising prices and lowered quality, many people are taking the leap from cable services to online streaming services.

Studies have shown that around 25% of American households no longer have cable, and instead use online streaming services to watch their favorite shows and movies. So what are the best streaming services that will help you replace your cable?

Start streaming services with Netflix

Netflix is the "holy grail" streaming service that many people already have, whether they're using it in conjunction with their cable or using it with other streaming services. At $7.99 for the cheapest plan (for use on one screen at a time), Netflix is an affordable option for those looking to venture into online streaming services.

Pros with Netflix include the release of new movies fairly quickly, many popular shows and Netflix originals (some being critically acclaimed), and many shows having all of their seasons all in one place.

A few cons to note are that Netflix typically releases seasons all at once.So, You may not be able to watch your favorite show right away. Also, Netflix is known for raises its prices every few years or so. In fact, they just announced they would be raising prices again (with the middle plan starting at $11 instead of $10). ...continue reading

Technology is an integral part of daily life. People use social media sites, online networking, and technology for everything from staying connected with family and friends to career advancement.

The benefits are extending to the classroom with innovative technology used in the classroom and for schools and teachers to connect with students, parents, and communities. Living Tree is an innovate private social network for schools that leverages technology to enhance communication, collaboration, and partnerships in the context of K-12 education.

Creating a private social network offers advantages for family communication with each other, teachers, schools, and community organizations. Teachers, schools, and school districts have implemented technology in various ways to increase family engagement in education technology for the benefit of students. Check to learn how easy it is to create your own private social network.

Backed by Research

Research has been conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project on how technology is being used to engage families in the education of their children. The research shows several positive results of implementing technology to engage families. The researchers found that using technology to engage families helps them become more involved in education, which offers advantages for student achievement, such as better grades in elementary and high school, higher graduation rates, better attendance, and a higher rate of students going on to higher education.

The United Way has implemented projects that are designed to support communities in improving education and reducing dropout rates using technology. Their projects utilize technologies that include text messaging and online data systems to facilitate communication between families, students, and schools.

Technology has been used in high school classrooms for several years with great success. In recent years, the use of technology has expanded, with teachers, schools, and entire school districts now using this idea to support academic performance and family involvement from Pre-Kindergarten through high school graduation.

How Technology is Used in Schools

Online data systems have been used for a number of years by school districts across the country. A username and password are supplied to parents to log in to the online data system. This enables parents to keep track of how their students are doing in school, check upcoming assignments and tests, attendance, and other details.

Parent groups, sports teams, and organizations have created their own pages and groups on social media sites for the purpose of communication and collaboration. However, privacy issues prevent many from making this leap. A private social network offers enhanced security that social media cannot guarantee. Private social networks are used by families to stay organized and communicate with teachers, schools, and sports teams. Schools and community organizations can use the network for event planning, volunteer signups, and communication. Teachers are able to engage more effectively with their students and families. 

Increasingly, people are using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets to access the internet, send emails, and keep track of schedules and activities. A family engagement app allows parents to receive notifications and communicate with the network using a smartphone or tablet, so notifications are received and everyone gets where they need to be on time.