Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – July 28, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – July 28, 2015

Gregg Ellman brings you tech reviews of the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick, GE Bright Stik 60-watt replacement LED bulb and Sound Rise Plaid Freaq wireless desktop speaker/alarm clock.

SanDisk-Connect-Wireless-StickSanDisk Connect Wireless Stick

A few years ago I thought so much of SanDisk wireless flash drive that I named it my coveted 2013 gadget of the year. To this day when I’m using it, someone asks what it is and when told, the response is always, “I gotta get one of those.”

Now SanDisk has given the great product an upgrade with the launch of the SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick.

The wireless flash drive works with iOS and Android devices, along with Mac and Windows computers with the free SanDisk Connect app.

Once the app is ready, turn the flash drive on and make a wireless connection to it, just like you would to a WiFi network. It’s worth mentioning here that after the app is downloaded you do not need an Internet connection for the flash drive to work.

After you make a connection, go to the SanDisk Connect app and you can choose whatever you loaded on the flash drive; videos, digital images, documents or music. You also have the option to make the flash drive password-protected.

It’s that easy.

As for the new model, it’s still the size of a typical flash drive, has a power button and an internal battery good for up to 4.5-hours, which charges from most any USB port.

While the original model had a slider to expose the USB port, the new one is more traditional with an end cap.

SanDisk said it went to a new design based on feedback gathered from the original wireless connect product. They “aimed to design a slim, simple and elegant device that could be extremely portable and easily accessed when plugged into a computer, while not blocking additional USB ports,” according to a company representative.

The main difference from the old to the new is the storage along with a more modern look. The original had a microSD card slot, enabling unlimited expandable storage.

New is the capacity when purchased. SanDisk felt users weren’t choosing to have multiple microSD cards so they eliminated the option.

Either old or new, the SanDisk wireless flash drive is an incredibly easy and inexpensive way to expand the storage capacity on a smartphone or tablet.

In my world, streaming movies while traveling has never been so easy.

Cost: $29.99-$99.99, available in 16, 32, 64 and 128GB capacities


GE Bright Stik LED

GE Bright Stik 60-watt replacement LEDIt’s kind of crazy that the light bulb has been around for so long but the past few years have introduced a load of new designs and lighting features.

The latest I’ve seen is the reasonably priced GE Bright Stik 60-watt replacement LED bulb.

A three-pack of the non-dimmable bulbs typically costs around $10 and, according to GE, it should cost about 10 cents per month to operate based on three hours a day of use at the electricity rate of 11 cents per kWh of power. They have a lifetime rating of 15,000 hours, 13.7 years and give off 760 lumens, a measure of brightness.

These bugs have a different appearance from most others with a slender, slime, sleek design.

It was designed with a size of 4.25 in x 1.25 round to fit in more sockets and fixtures compared to general tradition purpose bulbs, which I found to be true right off.

While the body of the bulb is different, the standard screw-in connection is the same so there’s no need to get new lamps to use the bulbs.

I’m not going to take out a color meter to test the lighting but I’ve been a believer in the LED lighting for a while and these new choices are great additions. The light they shine is great and you have your choice of soft white and daylight.


Sound Rise Plaid Freaq

Soundfreaq along with the Novogratz husband-and-wife design team have launched the limited edition Sound Rise Plaid Freaq.

The wireless desktop speaker/alarm clock (5.2 x 5.6 x 3.3-inches) has the features of the original Sound Rise along with a new design.

Sound Rise wireless speaker alarm clock

It’s packed with features including Bluetooth 4.0 streaming, amazing sounding audio, an adjustable display (extra bright to total blackout), a line in 3.5 mm input port and a USB powered port for charging.

The dual alarm system features weekday and weekend settings, which also have the option for gradually increasing volume to help avoid that loud panic wakeup, which I’ve experienced.

On the outside is the new great looking plaid design giving it a modern look.

Cost: $99


Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman
2015, Gregg Ellman.

Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – June 29, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – June 29, 2015

By Gregg Ellman

Tech reviews of the ThinkGeek Tactical Chef Apron, Grill Daddy, Glendale outdoor wireless Bluetooth speaker, Scosche boomBOTTLE H20 and Bracketron SmartLantern.

ThinkGeek Tactical Chef Apron

Tactical-Chef-ApronYou’ll be in full control of your 4th of July cookout while wearing the ThinkGeek Tactical Chef Apron.

It’s designed with a MOLLE system (modular lightweight load-carry equipment, the same system used for the military) to hold all the tools in five built-in pouches.

ThinkGeek describes the apron as badass for outdoor chefs and a system for holding everything a grill sergeant needs. It’s well made with solid stitching and 100 percent cotton fabric.

Once you load it with grilling utensils, spices, condiments and even a smartphone or a Bluetooth speaker, you’ll be the commander of your bash.

There’s also a removable Velcro chef patch on the front and back along with an adjustable side strap to fit most any size chef.

Cost: $29.99


Grill Daddy

GrillDaddyThe Grill Daddy is a 6-in-1 heavy-duty stainless steal grill set for the backyard chef who cooks just about everything.

It’s a complete system travel-ready in the included folding case.

The main feature is an ergonomically designed heat-shielding handle with a cleverly designed winging metal shield to protect your hand from the heat.

The shield pivots to protect your hand when reaching into the grill in any angle, since the shield is weighted and balanced.

The modular system lets you add any of the six different full-size grilling tools. They include a fork, handle extension, spatula, spoon, tong attachment and a tong jaw.

Everything is interchangeable, enabling grill nuts to form combinations such as a tong/fork or a spatula/spoon or just use each tool as needed.

Cost: $39.99


Glendale Outdoor Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Glendale outdoor wireless Bluetooth speakerAcoustic Research’s new Glendale outdoor wireless Bluetooth speaker is designed to blend into any outdoor environment.

When you first see the speaker, you might think it’s a hanging outdoor light or even a bug zapper, but when you crank it up the secret is revealed.

Inside the attractive design is a midrange driver, tweeter and booming passive rear subwoofer, which combine to deliver 10 watts of sound.

And if you get two of them, they can both pair to the same media source for a wireless stereo sound that your neighbors will be sure to hear loud and clear.

An included AC adapter will power the speaker, and if you want to truly cut the cords, it will run off of 8-AA batteries for up to 12 hours of sound.

The Glendale is built with an IPX weather resistant case to withstand an unexpected rainfall.

Cost: $119.99


Scosche boomBOTTLE H20

boomBOTTLE H20

The durable Scosche boomBOTTLE H20 is built to play your music on land or poolside while taking a quick dip to cool off.

It’s probably one of the most rugged Bluetooth (4.0) speakers I’ve seen. It’s built with an IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating, which enables it to float and not only get soaked or splashed but it can also be submerged in a 3.2 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.

Inside is a 50mm speaker and passive subwoofer for crystal clear sound at any volume. It measures 2.8 inches in diameter with a 4.5-inch length.

The internal rechargeable battery is good for about 8 hours and is charged with the included cable. A flashing red LED will let you know when the battery is about to fade.

A carabiner is attached to the side to help prevent the speaker from floating away.

Cost: $99.99


Bracketron SmartLantern

Bracketron SmartLanternBracketron SmartLantern is the perfect outdoor 3-in-1 gadget.

Packed into the hand-held device is a portable USB charger, lantern and flashlight making it perfect for everyday use or an untimely emergency.

Inside the device is a 7800Ah rechargeable battery. This powers the built-in 2.1A USB port for charging most portable electronic gadgets including cameras, cellphones and tablets.

If you need light, the battery will power up the flashlight or lantern illumination for up to 48 hours.

To switch from the lantern mode to flashlight, all you do is slide down the lantern globe for the more direct flashlight lighting.

It measures 3 7/8 x 1.75 inches and is built with an impact-resistant, fireproof housing.

Cost: $79.99


Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman
2015, Gregg Ellman.


The Business of Online Complaining

The following is a blog article from MarCom Awards winner John P. David.

Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” – From “Annie Hall” (1977)

Turns out that complaining has become big business, particularly online. Back when Woody Allen made Annie Hall, we only had a few ways to complain about products, retailers, or customer service. We could call a company’s customer service department, ask to speak to the manager at a store, or, if we were really upset, write a letter (yeah, on paper) to the president of a company.

Today, making a complaint can be done in a matter of clicks and even before we leave a retail establishment, restaurant, or hotel. We can contact a company directly through its website or via e-mail, send a tweet to that same company’s president, or post a complaint on a consumer complaint website.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for good customer service and accountability in business. The ability to communicate more directly with companies about their products and services certainly keeps businesses on their toes. However, it has also made consumer complaint websites very powerful, opening the door for misinformation, competitor bashing, and unreasonable complaints.

Sites such as Ripoff Report,,,, and have learned that complaints and negative posts can track high on search results. The concept is a game changer that turns complaints into money-making machines:

  • Users create content for a site by posting complaints.
  • The bigger the site grows, the greater its authority with search engines.
  • More visitors from searches means more complaints, more ad revenues, and so on and so on.

Not Just about Consumer Protection

Yet these sites are not just about consumer protection; in fact, many of them only mildly address such values. The sites are generally open forums that enable anyone to say whatever he or she wants, without any policing or commitment to accuracy. The first amendment and the laws of the digital land protect them from defamation lawsuits.

Many of these sites go to great lengths to explain why they are protected from legal claims regarding content posted on their sites., for example, lists the legal cases that back their position of allowing anyone to post without care for accuracy. explains that it is not responsible for verifying the validity of consumer complaints, providing responses, or notifying those on the receiving end of complaints. It also says that it will only remove a posted complaint if ordered to by a court. And here’s a great little nugget of effrontery: the complaint site says that it assumes that the writers of complaints have positive intents.

All Comes Down to Google

Given all this, it still all comes down to Google. Online complaint sites remain in business because their complaints rank quickly and highly on search results on Google and other search engines. In fact, on, they crow about it:

Often, a single complaint posted to about a business appears higher in the search result rankings than the home page of the business that is the subject of that complaint. Posting complaints to helps get the word out on your complaint and helps businesses take notice of your complaint!

To its credit, has policies in place that enable some complaints to be removed. For example, the author of the complaint can edit and even delete a complaint. Most other online complaint sites leave the complaints or posts up, even if the original authors want to take them down. and are proponents of this policy. On one hand, it’s freedom of speech at its best. On the other, it’s opening the door for anyone to say whatever he or she wants, without any responsibility from the site.

Mother of all Online Complaint Sites

But the mother of all complaint sites is Claiming more than one million pages of content, it has tremendous authority with search engines and is the bane of online reputation management firms the world over. The site is run by Ed Magedson, who, if you believe this article on lives a fearful life in a fortified compound in an undisclosed location in Arizona. Why? lets anyone post negative information about people or businesses, and Magedson will never take it down.  He has many enemies.

On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly featured Ripoff Report as one of the worst websites in America:

Ripoff Report Bill O'Reilly

The site mints money while making the subjects of its reports miserable, and its “victims” get so pissed off that they—again, if you believe Magedson and Forbes—would kill him if they passed him on the street.

Google Conspiracy?

So these complaint sites seem to have limited overall value for the general public, right? Anyone can say whatever he or she wants with no devotion to truth or accuracy. Why would Google continue to give them value on search results? If you ask Australian online expert Michael Roberts, he will say it is all about advertising. Complaint sites serve as Google’s advertising partners and drive traffic to Google sponsored ads. So, despite the common assertion that Google advertising has nothing to do with search results, Roberts says otherwise.

For victims of disparaging complaints and reviews on consumer complaint sites, options exist to either have negative complaints removed or de-listed from search results. Some require a legal approach, while others can be handled with a digital forensic approach. We offer some of theses services at Either way, just as complaining in general isn’t going anywhere, neither are complaint sites.

This article was originally published on and has been republished with permission. 


Public Relations Crisis Management Begins Online

Online Crisis ManagementThe following is a blog article from MarCom Awards winner John P. David.

A friend called me recently in a bit of a panic. One of her college-aged children was tangentially involved with a crisis at her university, and my friend and some of the other parents were wondering if it would be beneficial to engage a public relations expert. Should they reach out to the media or not? How might their kids be perceived? They had many questions.

Before we dug into the details of the incident, I told my friend that the very first thing that needed to be done was to ensure that the students did not say anything about the incident that might end up online. I cautioned: Don’t post anything about it on Facebook, don’t tweet about it, and absolutely do not speak to anyone from the media. I told her that the most important thing was to guarantee that her child’s name was in no way associated online with this situation. She needed to keep her kid’s name shielded from this crisis, so the student would not be associated with it in any way – pro, con, or indifferent.

We are in a whole new world of public relations crisis management because the Internet is now king.

I say this because I have been seeing more and more situations where people are literally in the wrong place at the wrong time and end up being crucified online. They find themselves with a massive problem that they are in no position to solve.

For example, I recently spoke with a young man who, while in college, worked as an assistant manager for one of the university shops. While he worked there, the full-time head of the shop passed away unexpectedly. A subsequent audit found that money was missing, and the police were called to investigate the embezzlement.

As part of the investigation, they questioned the young man. It’s important to note that he was questioned, not arrested. He complied with the police, and even turned over his laptop for their review. After they checked him out, the cops determined he had no connection to the missing money, and he was completely cleared.

Meanwhile, the university newspaper wrote a story about the embezzlement and mentioned that the young man was questioned by police. The online version of the story now appears on the first page of search engine results when you search for his name.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and the guy is now out of school and trying to get a job, but he can’t. He’s in finance, and whenever he applies for a job, he is researched online and prospective employers see his name associated with an embezzlement case. The guy is screwed.

If you were a human resources manager, would you give this guy a fair shake? All things being equal among candidates, which applicant is more likely to get an interview: an applicant with a spotless resume or one who was questioned about embezzlement? What if you are quickly trying to vet dozens of candidates?

The young man has a communications crisis on his hands, and it is nothing like any of the classic case studies covered in a PR course syllabus.

The well-known tenets of crisis communications haven’t completely caught up with the Internet:

  • Don’t stonewall.
  • Be as transparent as possible.
  • Speak with one voice.

I believe we need to add “Assess the potential for long-term online damage” to the list. Online reputation management vaults to the front of the line.

When we encounter a crisis, we quickly need to determine what the online legacy will be, and then develop a strategy to prevent negative coverage from the onset. Understanding that something stated online (whether true or not) can be damning for years to come is absolutely critical.

This concept should be part of every organization’s media policy and ingrained in public relations and communications pros, both young and old.

Negative online articles and stories can be mitigated and, in some instances, completely removed; but this process is more expensive after the fact and not always possible. Knowing your online vulnerabilities at the beginning of a crisis can save companies from lost revenue and individuals from lost career opportunities and other heartache.

The big takeaway is that if you are associated with a crisis, either directly, indirectly, or just by accident, the online reporting of it can affect you for years to come — and this must be managed as quickly as possible.

Not only has the Internet redefined the public relations crisis, it has become judge, jury, and reputation executioner.

Please share your thoughts on my original blog post here. I would be happy to hear from you.

This article was originally published on and has been republished with permission. 

Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – May 18, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – May 18, 2015

By Gregg Ellman

Tech product reviews of SkylinkNet home alarm system kit, Boogie Board Sync 9.7 eWriter and Kensington’s BlackBelt 2nd Degree Rugged Case for iPads.

SkylinkNet Alarm System Kit for Homes


The SkylinkNet alarm system kit is nothing fancy but it’s easy to set up and works well for a simple home security system.

Like any other smart-home system, it has to be connected to a home Internet system and works with an iPhone or Android smartphone (not included).

What is included in the kit is an Internet hub, motion sensor, keychain remote and a pair of window/door sensors.

Where you connect the sensors is your choice; there’s no right or wrong. The kit is designed to start off with the basics and then add on from there.

Window, door or garage sensors, cameras for indoor or outdoor security, water sensors for detecting leaks and even a telephone dialer can be purchased and added on.



Hermes Creative Awards
today announced winners for the 2015 international awards competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional and emerging media. Hermes Creative Awards recognizes outstanding work in the industry while promoting the philanthropic nature of marketing and communication professionals.

There were over 6,000 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries in the Hermes Creative Awards 2015 competition. Entries came from corporate marketing and communication departments, advertising agencies, PR firms, design shops, production companies and freelancers.

statuette and box2Hermes Creative Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The international organization consists of several thousand marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, media production and free-lance professionals. AMCP oversees awards and recognition programs, provides judges and rewards outstanding achievement and service to the profession.

As part of its mission, AMCP fosters and supports the efforts of creative professionals who contribute their unique talents to public service and charitable organizations. Hermes entrants are not charged entry fees to enter work they produced pro bono. In addition, the efforts of generous marketing and communication professionals are acknowledged through grants and special recognition.

AMCP judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry. Winners were selected from 195 categories grouped under advertising, publications, marketing/branding, integrated marketing, public relations/communications, electronic media and pro bono. About 15% of the entries won the Platinum Award- the organization’s top honor. 22% won the Gold Award. A list of Platinum and Gold Winners can be found on the Hermes Creative Awards website, here.



AMCP’s Award Manufacturer Creates New Award for The Academy of Country Music

Society Awards, manufacturer of the Hermes Creative Award, MarCom Award and AVA Digital Award recently utilized the skills of famed craftsman David Yurman to create a special award for seven country music greats.

Sometimes we tell our clients, “We’re more than an awards company.”  Here’s an example of what we mean:

The Academy of Country Music marked a major milestone this past weekend, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the ACM Awards. “Go big or go home” as they say, ACM partnered with Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys to take the awards show to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. As part of the grand celebration, ACM created a new award, the prestigious 50th Anniversary Milestone Award, to honor seven country superstars for their impact on country music.

About a year ago, knowing of the upcoming anniversary, we saw an opportunity for collaboration. Following a discussion with the ACM on the benefits of bringing a brand partner to design a special Anniversary award, we engaged our sister marketing agency Viceroy Creative to approach David Yurman with this idea for the first ever brand-name designed, limited edition televised trophy for ACM’s 50thAnniversary. Having worked with David Yurman previously, we knew they were the perfect partner for the project given the brands iconic look, edginess and that they were generally awesome to work with and loved to make shiny things (so do we!). The popularity of the brand within the world of country music was an electrifying element.  History served up on a silver platter.

David Yurman personally designed the 50th Anniversary Milestone Award trophy out of more than 1,010 grams of sterling silver, his iconic cable motif proudly sculpted through the statue. The original country music fan beloved ACM cowboy hat is encrusted with 4.16 carats of black diamonds and an 18kt gold band, representative of David’s love for mixing metals and materials. A black onyx signature Albion® gemstone with the numeral 50 inlaid in 18k gold rests in the center of the hat. A solid silver plate on the back of the base is engraved with the winners name and David Yurman logo.  We also created, along with Viceroy and Yurman, a solid wood luxury chest to hold the awards.

The final trophies were awarded live this past Sunday at the 50th Anniversary Awards Show.

Tech ReviewsThis Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 14, 2015

This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 14, 2015

By Gregg Ellman

Tech product reviews of the SXories Weye Feye tool for DSLRs, Tylt VU wireless charging car mount and the BuQu Tech PowerArmour iPhone case.

SXories Weye Feye

The SXories Weye Feye is a small piece of hardware that makes a whole lot of work simple for DSLR photographers.

It connects to your digital camera and creates its own WiFi network so the camera can be fired wirelessly with a free app (iOS and Android) on a smartphone.


hermes header2015 Hermes Final Deadline TODAY

2015 Hermes Final Deadline TODAY

Are you marketing yourself and your company as well as you market your client? Winning a Hermes Creative Award is an inexpensive way to distinguish your work from your competition.


Enter online and fill in a URL or upload a file. In most cases, the work speaks for itself. No long, time-consuming essays.

Our judges have been reviewing entries for over a month. Winners will be announced in three weeks.

Per entry fees are $65 or $150 for campaigns and programs.

With 195 categories, there is a category that fits what you do.

Engage with your followers. Share news of your wins and awards on social networks like Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. Select winners are featured on the AMCP blog (with permission).

Hermes recognition proves to bosses and clients that you are producing great work that is appreciated within the industry.

Only judges see entries unless you give Hermes permission to display your work on our social media outlets.

enter now button

merchantcantos-hermes-award2015 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: MerchantCantos

2015 Hermes Creative Awards Spotlight: MerchantCantos

While the winners for the 2015 Hermes Creative Awards won’t be announced until May 1, we’re showcasing select entries that stand out. Keep checking back to see if your work will be highlighted. Haven’t entered yet? There’s still time!

Hermes Creative Awards Company: MerchantCantos
Location: New York, New York
Client: Philips
Title of Entry: “Illumination and Beyond”
Category: 156. Corporate Image Video


Corporate image videos come in many shapes and sizes, but most employ soaring music and a “voice of god” narrative over pretty pictures. That is one way to tell a story; MerchantCantos found a different approach.

MerchantCantos is a communications agency with offices in New York, London, Dubai and Hong Kong. It has an impressive list of clients including Philips Lighting. Recently the agency was tasked with producing a video highlighting Philips’ advanced lighting systems.

The creative team went with a light touch instead of a heavy hand.  Using a “day in the life” format, the video follows a woman from sunup through darkness to illustrate the role lighting plays in not just her life but everyone’s. The clever technique allows the producers to pull back the curtain to take a peek behind the scenes.

Visit the MerchantCantos website to watch the video>>

Philips Advance Lighting Video