Kindle FreeTime is Awesome*

January 23, 2014 in Reviews

*with some glaring, super frustrating, but seemingly easy to fix flaws.

Kindle FreeTime

** DISCLAIMER ** If you are offended by using technology as a babysitting device, you can skip this article. While I do see how these things can be abused, I think, used properly, they are a huge advancement in education and parental sanity.

This year, the Little Read Mom and I got each other new Kindles for Christmas. She wanted the Paper White and I opted for the Kindle Fire HDX. I had the original Kindle Fire (which sadly was left on a train and never returned) and was looking to upgrade anyway (we already purchased the HDX when I lost mine. I didn’t “lose” it to get a new one).

I was super excited for the HDX for many reasons, the main one being Kinde FreeTime. For those of you who don’t know, Kindle FreeTime is an app that runs on the Kindle Fire HD or HDX that essentially puts the device into “Kid Mode”. You set up profiles for each child and select which books, videos and apps they can have access to. The child cannot get out of this mode without a parent, so there is no worry of them doing something like deleting your personal stuff or purchasing expensive apps. It also allows you to control what they have access to.

You can also sign up for Kindle’s FreeTime Unlimited, which is a monthly subscription service that delivers age and gender appropriate books, videos and apps to the device. These items are “free” to download and view.

Many might bemoan this as more babysitting through devices. They would not be wrong. However, where FreeTime really distinguishes itself is through the parental control. You can control how much time is dedicated to each area. You can also set learning goals, so a child must spend 30 minutes reading books before they can unlock the videos and apps.

For example, I have two children; a 2 year old and a 5 year old. The 5 year old is learning to read, so he must complete 15 minutes of reading before he can get to the apps and videos. There are many “reader” books available to him through the FreeTime Unlimited, but you can also purchase books and grant access. My two year old does not have this restriction. I have also limited each of them to a certain amount of time for videos and apps. Genius! Now each has their own environment to learn, explore and play.

You may be asking yourself, “But Little Read Dad, you said it has some, ‘glaring, super frustrating, but seemingly easy to fix flaws.’” Yes. Sadly, it does.

The first flaw is the organization. I don’t know how someone at Amazon has not looked at Netflix to see how to organize content. Seriously. It’s not alphabetical. It’s not by released date. They don’t even keep multiple seasons of the same show together. You may see Sesame Street Season 40 followed by six other shows and then Sesame Street Season 41. Why would you not just have Sesame Street and then you click on it and you see all the seasons? It’s infuriating. It’s chaotic. It seems like it should be really easy to fix.

The second flaw, and this is not as bad as the first, but still frustrating, is that the content provided with FreeTime Unlimited is age, and I assume, gender appropriate. That’s great. I like that. Except you cannot go outside these parameters. For instance, my two year old has access to all the Toca Boca apps (the hair cutting, the cooking one, a train one) that my five year old does not. Now, they may be a bit below his age, but he enjoys playing them and there is no way to move them over! There is no long press, select “Make Available to Other Account” option. Again, seems like it should be easy to fix and it’s SUPER annoying, especially since now my five year old will go into his sister’s account to play.

In the end it is a great App/Product/Idea that I hope they continue to refine. If you have a Kindle Fire HD or HDX, and children, I highly recommend it. If you are looking for a tablet/reader and you have children, get a Kindle Fire HD or HDX.

Even if you don’t have kids, I really like this device. The biggest non-kids selling point: you can download certain free prime movies for 30 days so you don’t need an internet connection to take advantage of the Amazon Prime Videos. COOL!

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Evaporative Humidifiers and Bacteriostatic Water Treatment

November 30, 2012 in Reviews

As we have entered the colder months, the time has come again to dust off the humidifiers. Like most people, we use the standard evaporative system in our house. In years past we tend to go through a wick about every 3-4 weeks. If we start using our two humidifiers in October, and use them through February, we use about 10 wicks for the season. Even in finding the best price we’re looking at about $10/filter on average. That means we spend about $100 a season on humidifier wicks.

And there is no choice. You have to change them. They get nasty. Just smelly and horrible.

So this year, as I sat down to place my order for the season, I decided to see if there was anything I could do to not spend so much money. That is when I stumbled across a post from someone praising a bacteriostatic water treatment. It’s a solution that you pour into the water of your humidifier that slows the growth of bacteria and algae. This makes it not only safer, but eliminates the odors as well.

Our filters are now going on three months and show minimal discoloration and no odor. THREE MONTHS!

If you have a evaporative humidifier in your house, you should definitely invest in a bacteriostatic treatment. I got a bottle for less than $10 and it has already saved me $40 in new filters.

Little Read Father tested… Little Read Father approved!

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Little Read Florida Trip – 2012

July 9, 2012 in Vacations

Its been quite a long time since I posted anything of value on the site, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to tell the Little Read World about my recent experience in Disney World.

The Little Read Family headed down South for our annual Florida vacation. This year we decided to go back to Disney. We picked the week of July 4th because it would mean we would have to take less time off from work and we would be in the park for a holiday. What could possibly be wrong with that. As it turns out… a lot.

This trip had been planned since November of last year to ensure good prices on flights and whatnot. I didn’t actually start doing any research about the trip itself until about a week before. So, as is my custom, I headed to the Internet to see what kinds of things Walt Disney has in store for people visiting the park on Independence Day.

The first site I came to listed the week of July 4th as the busiest week of the year. Great. its going to be Florida hot and crowded. Ugh. Okay, fine, we’ll deal. Well, not okay, I was COMPLETELY panicked about this trip now. The Little Read Son is not the most patient person when it comes to lines and amusement parks, and the Little Read Daughter is going to be stuck in a stroller all day. Recipe for disaster.

But I pushed aside my fears and soldiered on. We were staying at the Swan hotel… which is very very nice. Its not on the Monorail, and its not themed, so you make up on the price, but it certainly was not a cut rate place. Quite the contrary, it was actually really nice. There is a shuttle bus that runs every 15-20 minutes or so that takes you to the parks. The trip to the Magic Kingdom takes about 20 minutes or so. The pool and facilities are nice and the staff was very friendly.

The Little Read Mother and I devised a plan: we would divide the park into 2 halves (we were staying 3 days with 2 days at the Park); get to the Park as soon as it opened; Fast Pass whichever ride had the longest wait time and then hit the others. We would then eat lunch and head back to the hotel for some napping (HA!) and relaxing and regrouping. Ready? BREAK!

For the busiest week of the year, the park was a breeze to get through in the morning. Wait times never broke 20 minutes and we hit everything we wanted to do before lunch… WOW! Back to the hotel, sat around, relaxed and then back to the Park. By this time the crowds had come. Wait times were exceptionally long for most rides. But it didn’t matter to us since we hit everything we wanted to already. We Fast Passed a couple of rides and before we knew it, the Little Read Children were ready to sleep… and so were we.

The next day was more of the same. We blasted through the park with astonishing speed, hitting every ride we wanted to. Then we hit lunch. Hotel. Back to the park and then fireworks. This is where the story takes a turn for the worse…

We had heard that after New Years, the Fourth of July fireworks are the best Disney has to offer. Fortunately we had spoken to some employees about the best place to watch the fireworks with small children. We got the best advice we could have asked for:

WATCH THE FIREWORKS FROM OUTSIDE THE PARK

We were told that if you watch inside, it could take up to 3 hours to get out of the park… 3 HOURS! If you watch outside you can still see everything since the fireworks are 95% in the air and you will be perfectly positioned to get in the buses back to the hotels. I cannot stress how great this was, because at 7:45 the crowds for the fireworks were already causing havoc in the park. Staff members were forming human lanes to keep foot traffic moving. It took us 30 minutes to get from statue of Walt and Mickey to the exit. INSANE!

Needless to say, we had a great view of the fireworks and we were the first on the bus back to the hotel. Did we miss seeing Cinderella’s castle as the backdrop? Sure. Was it worth it to get right out of the park? Absolutely!

if this site does NOTHING else in its existence, it will do this: let every father know, if you are going to Disney on one of the most popular weeks or days follow this advice…

        • Divide and conquer
        • Go early
        • Regroup at the hotel in the middle of the day
        • Make use of Fast Pass (I swear it feels like cheating)
        • Watch the fireworks from outside the park

It was a completely successful trip and I would have no hesitation about going at the same time next year!

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Happy Father’s Day – Year 2

June 17, 2012 in Being a Dad, Site News, Spread the Word

First and foremost… Happy Father’s Day!

I hope all the dads had a good Father’s Day. The Little Read Dad had a GREAT day with his family. We had brunch at our place with my Dad and his wife and my in-laws. Mmmmm… brunch. Then we had a relaxing afternoon by the pool and in the apartment. Ended it with some delicious rigatoni carbonara and will soon be enjoying some bourbon. Got some great gifts from the family as well, including my favorite gift; a card from my son that said he loves going to work with me.

I took him to my office one day a few weeks ago. We rode the train into Manhattan and went to my office. He ate oatmeal and watched Thomas on my laptop. On the way home we got cupcakes. Sounds like the perfect day to me.

So, one year ago I launched this site with the grandiose plans of sparking a revolution for fathers. Building a place where dads from all walks of life, from all over the world, would come together to share ideas, get help, vent, share touching stories, etc. One year later we have a handful of members and little to no site activity.

I openly admit, most of this is my fault. I kind of fell out of touch and stopped posting and pushing the site. But all that is the past. Time to look to the future.

Let’s do this! Or at least get to a point where it looks like we did it!

Thanks,

The Little Read Dad

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Little Read Wedding Officiant?

June 6, 2012 in Site News

That’s right, the Little Read Dad is now a Little Read Wedding Officiant! I have become a licensed Minister with the Universal Life Church and can perform wedding ceremonies. I have even registered with the City of New York to be able to perform ceremonies in NYC.

Recently, some friends of mine asked me if I would perform their wedding ceremony. I immediately jumped at their offer. Their reasoning was sincere, and their invitation was humbling.

After doing some research, and getting my Minister’s license, I put together a simple ceremony for them. The day of the ceremony I was very nervous. But everything went off without a hitch and I received so many compliments that I decided to try my hand at this for others.

Really, it was my wife’s idea, but I did all the legwork!

And with that, I am please to announce the official site for The NY Wedding Officiant…

www.theNYweddingofficiant.com

Also on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/theNYweddingofficiant

And Twitter:

www.twitter.com/theNYofficiant

Check it out and keep the Little Read Dad in mind for ALL your wedding officiating needs!

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