Apple vs. Samsung: Week 3 of 8

For the next few weeks I will be posting one #ApplevsSamsung review from my perspective. I’m not a tech blogger but I am a writer and blogger who relies heavily on tech and my connections to social media. With that in mind, I’ll be focusing on things like one-handed typing to photo, editing, and sharing quality to battery-life and, of course, the snazzy Penny from Inspector Gadget like Galaxy Gear Watch, itself. Check out my previous posts here and here.

When I’m done, I will confidently climb to the top of the highest mountain and declare my loyalty to one. Or maybe the other. Or maybe I’ll just write a blog post and post it on Twitter because that’s easier.


I'm a bit behind on my Samsung series, but life (and mostly Latina Magazine deadlines) tend to get in the way sometimes. Now that I'm in the clear for a bit, it's back to business as usual.

Before I say more, though, I want to make one thing clear in the purpose of these reviews. I am a long-time Apple user and happens to be married to an Android Devotee. I like to call it an InterTech marriage. He hates Apple with a passion and cannot wait for me to cross over to the Other Side. While I love my little iPhone and all it allows me to do in my work with social media, I am not blind to the fact that Team Android has a thing or two up it's sleeve. Namely, picture quality (and that's something I can't ignore.)

I am not a tech blogger. I am a writer and a blogger who lives through social media. I sit down at the laptop to write. Everything else doesn't tend to happen unless I've got a phone in my bra.

That being said, this series may make the Actual Tech Blogger's eyes roll, but they aren't my audience. I'm writing this for the social media user with the iPhone who might be wondering if the humongous Note 3 may be worth dumping Apple over. And I know there's a few of us out there.

It's been a few weeks now since I started shocking the locals here in Northern Maine while I trek around town with two phones in hand. I'll be honest in saying that while the size of the Note 3 is a bit on the crazy side when compared to my iPhone 5 S, I recognize how much I've come to depend on it since FedEx showed up on my porch. I'm not ready to break it off with Apple quite yet, but I am able to say that I'm seriously considering it.

Here are my favorite Samsung Note 3 features right now:

*The Samsung Action Memo: Think of it as the Post-It Notes you can't lose. You can access the app then removing the S-Pen from the Note 3. I use ot to manage my Daily To-Do list and for handwriting a new name and phone number, which alone is fabulous because I'm famous for never remembering to add a new contact (which means I'm still getting texts from phone numbers I don't recognize until I can place the ongoing conversation on the iPhone.) Even better is that my ADHD brain doesn't have the chance to blink and be distracted by something shiny before adding the information to my phone's contact list. All I have to do is highlight the name and number with the S-Pen and tap "contact" and boom: I now know who the hell is texting or calling me me.

*The S-Pen: I admit to being terrified of losing this little pen within moments of taking the Note 3 out of the box. But Samsung seems to have thought of everything. If the S-Pen is disconnected for too long, a message pops up reminding you to reconnect it before leaving wherever you happen to be at the time. There's even a safeguard built in alerting you to if the S-Pen somehow ends up out of range from the Note 3. It works, too. The fact that I haven't had to drop $30 on a replacement yet is pretty solid proof.

*The Galaxy Gear Watch: There's a lot more this fancy little watch offers than I am going to mention today, and I'll touch on some of my favorite features in the coming weeks. For now, I want to thank Samsung for saving my ass and both of my phones by once again paying attention to how the average person uses their smartphone. Even if you happen to keep both the iPhone you still own and the Note 3 on silent because the constant notifications would drive a saint to swear, it's entirely possible to find your Note 3 remotely with the Galaxy Gear. How? Go to the aptly named "Find Your Gear" option on the Gear and when you tap that little lifesaver, your phone gets its volume turned on for you and won't stop ringing until you find it and tell the Gear that you found it. I'm eternally grateful to Samsung for helping me not donate the iPhone and the Note 3 to the Salvation Army (along with the pile of old clothes they got bagged up with.)

Oh and one more thing: I refuse to call the Note 3 a phablet. And you can't make me.


Not-So-Fine Print: While I was supplied with the Samsung Note 3, a case for the phone, and the Galaxy Gear Watch, I am in no way obligated to provide anything other than my own opinion on this blog, any of my social media channels, or in any words attached to my name anywhere, ever. But I think you already knew that.

Apple Vs. Samsung: Week 2 of 8

For the next few weeks I will be posting one #ApplevsSamsung review from my perspective. I’m not a tech blogger but I am a writer and blogger who relies heavily on tech and my connections to social media. With that in mind, I’ll be focusing on things like one-handed typing to photo, editing, and sharing quality to battery-life and, of course, the snazzy Penny from Inspector Gadget like Galaxy Gear Watch, itself. When I’m done, I will confidently climb to the top of the highest mountain and declare my loyalty to one. Or maybe the other. Or maybe I’ll just write a blog post and post it on Twitter because that’s easier.



This week's focus: Size Matters

I can't fit it in my bra.

There. I said it. Even if I decided I was on Team Samsung at the end of Apple/Samsung comparison experiment, the obvious must be stated. Especially when every single phone I've tried in the last decade had to pass the Bra Test before I even considered buying it. It's not too much to ask, I be able to slide the phone in my bra for safe-keeping without worrying that I look like I'm smuggling movie theater sized boxes of Raisinettes everywhere I go.

This is what I'm thinking when the Samsung Note 3 arrives at my door. It's pretty, but it's gigantic. How the hell am I going to carry this phone around with me all day? I resp0nd to emails in between loads of laundry for both work and social media, so portability is obviously going to play a huge part in my final decision. And don't tell me to put it in my back pocket. That might work for you, but I don't always were jeans and my current favorite pair isn't phone-pocket friendly, so that's out.

That, my friends, is a problem. My iPhone seemed to taunt the Samung Note 3 as I slid the iPhone into my bra to get myself accustomed to its competition. And then I remembered that Android phones tend to intimidate me. I decided to wait for The Husband to come home and asked him to set up both the phone and the Galaxy Gear for me. He even paired the two for me. I can't help but think how much longer a simple request like that would have been wasted just on hold waiting for AppleCare to fix an issue. Seeing as The Husband despises Apple and knows his way around an Android, I've got built-in tech support right here, which is pretty fabulous.

But it's freaking huge.

If you set the iPhone on top of the Samsung, it looks like the Samsung had a baby and named it after Gwynwth Paltrow's offspring. GizMag even has a review dedicated to comparing the two (and a hefty portion is dedicated to the size difference alone.) Typing one handed isn't as intuitive on the Note 3 as it is on the 5s, but it is doable, even when set on full-screen mode. (Note: There is an option for one-handed typing, which essentially shrinks the keyboard to about the size of an iPhone, but I hate it. I think it's because my hand knows I'm holding something way bigger than the one-handed screen option.)

And how the hell do I carry it with me throughout my day?

At home, I have resorted to bra-carries when no one in public can see the weird giant rectangle growth on my breast. When out and about, it's in my coat pocket or my purse. The iPhone 5s still has shotgun in my bra.

I've been told by a few people I know that while the size of the Note 3 took some getting used to, they can't see themselves giving it up solely based on size. I'll try to be open-minded on this particular point, but I'd at least suggest Samsung (or an after-market retailer) come up with a stylish Note 3 sized cross-body pouch to placate the Attached to Their Phones crowed. Or maybe a hip belt similar to the one Fiona wears in Burn Notice. If I'd had one of those, the iPhone 5s may not have won this first round.

Score 1: Apple; Samsung-0


Not-So-Fine Print: While I was supplied with the Samung Note 3, a case for the phone, and the Galaxy Gear Watch, I am in no way obligated to provide anything other than my own opinion on this blog, any of my social media channels, or in any words attached to my name anywhere, ever. But I think you already knew that.

Samsung Galaxy s4 Active vs iPhone 4s: On Getting Places

** Fine Print = Full Disclosure: Samsung Mobile has provided me with a Samung Galaxy s4 Active and a phone line with the understanding that I will be doing exactly as I stated above. While the device has been provided to me free of charge, my opinion is always my own. Which is good, because I suck at lying and would make a pretty shitty used car salesman. I also don’t play poker because The Husband says I’m not allowed. The iPhone is mine and I’ll let you know if Apple decides I’m Important Enough to send me the new one when it’s released because really, they totally should because my therapist says I am a nice person. Also I like apples and taking really good pictures of them to post in Instagram and right now? The Samung is WINNING which makes my iPhone a little sad. The End.

Second Hand Happiness

I'm not really here right now. In fact, I'm actually sitting at Detroit Metro Airport, probably reading on my Nook, wasting time on Twitter, and counting down the moments until I can climb into my own bed. I imagine I'll also be trying to come up with brand new ideas for becoming unfamous enough for a book deal (selling my soul for a reality TV show is currently in the lead) because that's still a thing for me, you know. In a few hours I'll be landing in Phoenix, driving to Tucson, and climbing into my own bed for the first time in 14 days. Until then, here's a little something I've been saving for you.


Second-Hand Happiness with

There's this awesome little children's consignment shop out here in Tucson that Buttercup and I like to stop by. She calls it the Trade-In Store because every time she hands over willingly donated outgrown toys and too-small clothes, she gets a coupon telling us how much store credit she just earned. The rule is simple: she gets to pick one toy and then I use the rest on clothes two sizes too big. And when we get home, I sort the clothes. What she can wear now, usually cotton dresses, goes into the wash. The rest goes into the box in her closet containing the rest of the clearance sale and second-hand goodies we've found.

Gymboree. Gap. Garnet Hill. We've got it. We just didn't pay full price for it..

The only drawback is the distance between our Trade-In Store and our house. It's  good 35 minutes and by the time you figure in the obligatory Starbucks stop and the gas back and forth at the bare minimum, the savings tend to get a bit lost in the fifty bucks for a half tank of gas craziness going on in my head.

That's where ThredUp comes in. Forget the fine print, people. Here it is in regular size so everyone can see it: I was offered a $20 coupon and free shipping to shop for Buttercup, review the experience, and then offer you the chance to save on your first ThredUp shopping experience if I walked away a happy customer. I said yes, obviously. And I'm glad.

ThredUp is easy to navigate with search options that allow you to only see size 8 dresses or size 2 boys T-shirts, depending on your needs. There are no item descriptions but each article of clothing approved for sale by ThredUp is individually photographed so you can see what you're buying before you get it.

Buttercup's loving her new Gymboree dress and the capri leggings we selected from ThredUp, or that Trade-In Site, as I like to call it now. Because the next time we have a new box of too-small clothes, I'll be starting the computer up and logging on to ThredUp. My car keys can stay in my purse until I make up a reason to drive to Target just so I can feed my Starbucks addiction. Again.

Aspiring Mama readers are welcome to take advantage of a 10% discount off of their first order from Just use discount code TU10 during checkout! Happy second-hand shopping to you and a big thank you to ThredUp for giving me the chance to participate. 

We Have a Winner

Remember that air purifier giveaway sponsored by aer1? We have a winner, thanks to and a certain person who goes by the online name of "Wolcraaft" is about to have a little help getting through allergy season. The email has already been sent, Wolcraaft has already selected his/her air purifier, and aer1 was good enough to make sure Woolcraft was breathing easier in no time. Thanks to everyone who entered and thank you to aer1 for the chance to host this giveaway.

Have a good one, y'all. I'm on my way to my second doctor's appointment this week on the other side of town. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that I'm pretty sure sky-diving would probably make for a more relaxing hobby. And I promise to keep you posted whenever the stars properly align themselves for me to score more Things You May Like for contests that relate to the blog. Until then, Happy Tuesday, y'all.

Making Allergy Season Suck Less

If you've been reading the blog for more than five minutes, you already know that I've generally held out on reviewing or mentioning anything other than books and writers since I hit publish for the first time. Mainly because of my years on the newsroom and the knee-jerk reaction to not allow The Big Bad Advertiser to take precedent over The Words That Matter. I know...this isn't a newspaper. But I do use this space for Words That Matter.

That being said, I didn't automatically hit delete when I saw an email from aer1™ filter brand, a new line of portable filter technology which can be paired with their Holmes and Bionaire line of air purifiers.. You see, unless it's a product I truly need and can speak to honestly, I'm not going to waste anyone's time. Mainly....mine.

Have I mentioned my severe mesquite allergy? Or the fact that Buttercup is also so sensitive to mesquite that she has to use an inhaler before going outside to play? Or my allergy induced asthma that suddenly appeared after moving here? Living in Tucson kind of sucks when I'm allergic to a tree I can't walk two feet without tripping over. Even staying home bra-less and in my jammies -- cuz it's classy -- when the pollen count is high doesn't work because I'm suffering through 10 minute sneezing fits and watery, burning eyes before I even get out of bed.

And yes, I'm perfectly aware that allergy meds exist. Only problem is I'm allergic to an ingredient used in so many allergy medications that it's safer for me not to take any and just suffer.

Note to self: Contact Alanis Morisette and ask if she's interested in updating the lyrics to "Ironic."

So long story not so short, the Aer1 Brand sent me a fancy schmancy air purifier and a filter and asked me to try it out for a few weeks and then tell you how I liked it.

I can do that.


The Aer1 Brand sent me a fancy schmancy air purifier and a filter and I tried it out for a few weeks and I liked it.

I might have relied on just keeping my windows closed and cranking the air all summer long out here in the desert as a way to limit exposure to pollutant and allergens, but it turns out the level of indoor pollutants can be up to 100 times higher than in my own backyard.


Must be. Because in the time I've had my Bionaire air purifier and the allergy filter,  life has sucked much less. I can breathe again. My sneezing fits are fewer and farther between.

As long as I stay inside, that is.

Click here for a $20 coupon off of any aer1 ready air purifier. Or you can keep reading for a giveaway that can literally help you breathe easier.



The aeri1 filter brand has generously offered one Aspiring Mama reader the chance at their own air purifier and filter. To enter, simply do one of the following (or more for extra entries!) Each counts for it’s own entry, so be sure to leave me one comment letting me know what you did so I can add up points! Also make sure I have a way to contact you.

To enter:

*Simply leave a comment on this post for one entry.

* Tweet this for one entry and leave a comment : Allergy season sucks. Check out @aspiringmama for a chance at an aeir1 brand air purifier.

*Sign up for the AspiringMama RSS for one entry.

*Like my AspiringMama Facebook page for one entry.

*Keep track of your families allergy symptoms (sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, etc) and what triggers them. Come back in a few days and leave a comment telling the aeri1 brand what those symptoms are. This counts as its own entry.

* Comments will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Wednesday, April 18. Remember that for all of your entries to count, each has to be included in its own separate comment.

* One winner will be selected via and will be able to select one of these air purifiers along with a filter set of their choice (allergy, smoke, total air, etc). The winner will be announced here on Aspiring Mama shortly thereafter.






Not-so-fine-print: I received promotional consideration such as gifts, samples, content, or other incentives related to a product, service in exchange for writing about this product. Translation? They sent me the air purifier and told me I could keep it if I wrote a review. Either way, what I wrote is all my own opinion. But you already knew that.




I Blame the Valium

I once dropped my phone out of my back pocket as it was flushing as I was pulling my pants back up. It was our first week in our brand new house after getting married, my mother and mother-in-law were over helping to paint over the hideousness that was left by the previous owner we still refer to as Captain Half-Ass, and my shiny new husband had to take a break from whatever he was working on to unscrew the toilet from the floor and turn it upside down in the bathtub so he could fish my phone out.

We ended up having to get me a new phone. Obviously.

Also? I was high on Valium at the time. Comes with the territory after getting a major breast reduction. And while I blame the Valium for my serious lack of judgement in placing my cell phone in my back pocket before going to pee, The Husband likes to argue I'm just an idiot and Valium had nothing to do with it because Valium cannot explain away every dropped phone, broken screen, and I Left it in My Back Pocket AGAIN incident between then and now. I think he's being way too factual.

So when I finally got my pretty iPhone 4S after getting tired of pretending to not want to be one of the mindless masses of Apple lovers, The Husband naturally insisted on every warranty and protection option possible. This baby wasn't cheap and I happen to have a penchant for forgetting I've got a phone sitting on top of my purse because I just sent a tweet when standing up to get out of the Yukon and hoping like hell he doesn't notice me bending down to pick up the phone that landed on the pavement.

We tried the Otterbox Commuter, which was my tried and true for my past loves -- blackberry and Droid -- but after three cases cracked in the exact same spot, The Husband made the executive decision to try something else. He's in law enforcement and I'm a former newsroom reporter, so we usually research like hell before narrowing our pool and then comparing reviews and price-checking various online sources for the best deal. But since I had noticed the third Otterbox had a cracked corner when I tried putting it in my bra and scratching my boob while we were out shopping and there was no way in hell The Husband was going to trust me with an unprotected iPhone. So we hightailed it to Best Buy before heading home.

All the pretty plastic cases were easily dismissed. Anything that didn't require following directions to put on the iPhone and another set to remove the case from the iPhone also was dismissed. That pretty much left us with the Lifeproof. It's water, shock, snow, and dirt proof, which in Swahili, directly translates into PaulineProof, so The Huband didn't even blink when it was time to pony up the $79.99.

I got the pink case.

And after The Husband filled a pot with water and weighed the empty case down for an hour and a half to test it before installing it on the iPhone and I tested it out by sending a text message from the shower just because I could, I asked Buttercup's swim teacher to get a shot of my little mermaid in the pool.

I can't blame the Valium, but if I drop my phone in the toilet again, at least I know the only part The Husband will be bitching about is the having to fish it out part. And that, people, is totally worth eighty bucks.

My Kingdom for a...Book

First let me say that if procrastination were an Olympic sport, I'd be bringing home the gold. Why? Because I was approached to review The Reading Kingdom program ages ago and after shouting out an enthusiastic YES! I just let it fall on the back burner. Not because the program isn't incredible. It was more to do with the fact that we started Buttercup a little early and I wanted to give her a chance to master a few of the skills before giving my thoughts. That, and I'm just really really good at that procrastination thing.

The Reading Kingdom is a program designed to get children ages 4-10 reading and writing at a third grade level. Obviously, Buttercup isn't there yet, but I love the fact that she is the one who comes to me asking if she can play her "Birdie Reading Game" on my laptop without me bribing her with cookies. (She's referring to the cute owl you'll see on the site and in the program lessons.)

Because the program customizes itself to your child's individual learning needs, there's no need to worry about information learned not being absorbed. Buttercup has been at the same level for months now, but that's okay with me. I'm not trying to get her to pick up Harry Potter tomorrow. I just want to give my four-year-old a literacy boost since I myself didn't even know how to write my name until I was six. She enjoys learning and I love programs like this that allow for me to help foster that love.

You just need a computer with a mouse and the program does the rest. A 30-day free trial gets you and your kid going and then if you like what you see, it's basically about 50 cents a day to get your kid on the happy path to learning.

For more information on The Reading Kingdom, check out their website and blog, follow them on twitter, or like their Facebook page.

But before you go, check out this cute interview I attempted with Buttercup on her point of view about The Reading Kingdom.

*The Not So Fine Print: I was offered the opportunity to try out The Reading Kingdom at no cost to myself. But this is my blog and my sandbox which means I only write about what I want to and my opinions are my own. That being said, thank you to The Reading Kingdom for your patience and understanding and for this incredible learning opportunity for Buttercup.