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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

See How To Train Your Dragon 2 In IMAX

Looking for an action-packed weekend of fun for the whole family? Head to your local IMAX® Theater for the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2!
Starting this Friday, June 13th, the second chapter of DreamWorks Animation's beloved How to Train Your Dragon franchise is soaring to all IMAX theatres domestically in select engagements. The IMAX 3D release will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience®, creating a unique environment that will make audiences feel as though they are flying alongside heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon, Toothless.

Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig reprise their respective voice roles, joined this time by Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou and Kit Harington.

This information has been provided by IMAX.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

102 Ways To Save For & At Walt Disney World: A Book Review

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a complimentary digital copy of 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World by Lou Mongello for the purpose of this review.

Walt Disney World is truly a magical place. I visited with my family for the first time in 20 years back in 2011 and we enjoyed it so much that we've returned each year since. And while a Disney vacation is always a lot of fun, it is definitely not inexpensive. As the cost of a Walt Disney World vacation continues to increase, there has never been a better time for a book dedicated solely to the goal of saving money for and at Walt Disney World. Lou Mongello, author of the Walt Disney World Trivia Books Volume 1 & 2, host of the insanely popular online radio show WDW Radio and Disney World expert has delivered with 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World.

102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World is the definitive money-saving manual for anyone planning a trip to Walt Disney World. Packed with tips on how to keep more money in your pocket, the book also includes fun trivia facts, gorgeous photography and countless links to additional resources. Whether you've been there dozens of times or are planning your first trip (especially if you're planning your first trip!), this book will help you stretch your budget so that you can make the most of your Disney vacation.

In the book, Lou brings it all together. His 102 tips span all aspects of a Disney vacation. From how to save before you go (where you can find free money to put toward your trip) to saving when you buy your park tickets (stay longer pay less?); from deciding when to go (save money by turning the page on your calendar) to stretching your dollars at the park (planning ahead really helps) 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World covers it all. Sure, you can find some of these tips scattered around online but this book is a compendium of money-saving resources that can't be rivaled. With 102 Ways to Save Money For & At Walt Disney World it's all in the palm of your hand.

And, as if the 102 tips were not enough, Lou provides a bonus: 40 free things to do, get, see, eat and collect! Even a three-year running Disney vet like me didn't realize there were 40 free things to do at Walt Disney World. Just by reading this section of the book, I've been enlightened with some new ideas for our next family trip to the World. Lou even provides a money back guarantee on his book. If you can't save at least the price of the book on your next Disney World vacation, he will refund the purchase price.

Whether you're an experienced Disney World traveler who thinks he knows every trick in the book to saving money (you probably don't) or a first-timer who is getting ready to immerse herself in the magic of a Disney World vacation, 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World is a must read. 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World is available on as a paperback or a kindle book and at

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chamberlain MyQ Garage & HD930EV Belt Drive Garage Door Opener

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a complimentary MyQ Garage Controller and a complimentary HD930EV Garage Door Opener courtesy of Chamberlain for the purpose of this review.

The Chamberlain MyQ Garage Universal Smartphone Garage Door Controller is THE gadget for anyone who wants to monitor and control their garage door from anywhere. Are you miles away from your house and worried that you left your garage door open? The MyQ lets you see, via an app on your smart phone, whether or not you did and it gives you the ability to close it from wherever you may be. The MyQ means no more calls to neighbors asking them to check your garage door and more peace of mind for you knowing that you’re in control.

The MyQ Garage Controller is billed to work with most garage door openers manufactured after 1993, so there’s a great chance that it will work with your opener. (Check this list of compatible openers to see if yours will work.) However, for me it was not that simple. I owned an All Star MVP opener which was originally installed in 2002. Unfortunately, after several fruitless attempts and a call to Chamberlain technical support, I learned that I happened to have one of the post-1993 openers that the MyQ is not compatible with. This does not render the MyQ unusable, however. Though it won’t be possible to control the garage door with the smart phone app, it’s still possible to monitor the door status (open or closed) using the smart phone app. So essentially, if I did leave my garage door open, the app would tell me but I’d still have to contact my neighbor to ask them to shut it. I was hoping for a better scenario.

I reached out to Chamberlain to let them know of my situation – that I was not able to fully utilize the MyQ Garage system. Chamberlain decided that in order for me to be able to fully try out the MyQ, that they would send me a new garage door opener – a belt drive HD930EV unit with battery backup – all we had to do was have it installed. A few days after receiving the new opener, I had it installed in place of my All Star MVP and proceeded to connect the MyQ Garage Controller to the new Chamberlain opener. Despite the fact that the HD930EV came with a MyQ Internet Gateway that connected directly to my router, I decided to use the MyQ Wireless Gateway that came with the MyQ Garage Controller because, after all, that was the device I wanted to test.

The MyQ Garage Controller was fairly easy to set up this time. Once you create your MyQ account, you follow the instructions on the app to connect the door sensor and the wireless gateway to both your wireless network and the opener and boom! – the opener can be controlled by the smart phone app. Not only can I monitor the status of the door but I can open or close it with the tap of the screen. This is the control I was looking for! Have someone stopping by the house for a repair? Open the door from afar without giving anyone the entry code. Is your child coming home and you want to know when they arrive? Set up an alert to let you know when the door has been opened. The MyQ Garage (with accompanying app) is exactly what I was hoping it would be. So, then I did what any techie would do: I decided to put it through some additional testing.

Having no issues opening the door via the app while on Wi-Fi in my house, I attempted to open the door via 3G from afar. This function worked well most of the time but sometimes the app would have trouble connecting to the wireless hub and therefore I couldn’t control the door. On some occasions, and despite a strong WiFi signal in my garage, the hub would completely disconnect from my router preventing the app from communicating in any way. Also, if I open or close the door and then attempt to open or close again immediately, the connection may fail but then return moments later. (Certainly this is not how you would typically use the system but for testing purposes it’s worth noting that this happens.) These infrequent but concerning failures initially suggested that the MyQ Garage Controller is inconsistent with regard to its reliability – and for me that’s a major drawback. An item like this HAS to be consistent otherwise, what good is it? A system that only works some of the time is no better than a homeowner who is usually right about whether or not he left his garage door open.

To continue the testing I downloaded the MyQ app to my wife’s iPhone 4S. We found that we had to use the same account to log in on both devices – we could not each have our own MyQ account. Having set up the initial account with my email address, we decided that instead of using my email, we’d prefer to use a family email address. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to change email addresses within the account. To use a different email address, we were required to delete our account and create a new one. That also required us to set up the MyQ Wireless Gateway again – starting from scratch. This task wound up taking quite a while, as we had to reset the wireless hub, reconnect it to our wireless network and add the device (the garage door opener) to each of our smart phones yet again. It wound up taking several attempts before we had each of our smart phones controlling the garage door again. However, once we got everything set up again, things started working very, very well. The open and close functions of the MyQ Garage Controller worked as expected from miles away, and on 3G. We tested several times, even as recent as the day of this post, and the MyQ is now proving to be very reliable. As I had previously noted: a product like this HAS to be reliable otherwise, why even use it? So far, after an admittedly bumpy start, the MyQ seems to be operating quite nicely and the wireless connection to the router has not dropped out for some time.

The Chamberlain HD930EV 1 ¼ HPS Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Battery Backup proved to be a very nice upgrade from our All Star MVP. It comes with two remote openers, a back-lit digital Smart Control Panel and a wireless garage access keypad. Having battery back-up on this opener gives us peace of mind knowing that if (when) we lose power, our garage door will still be operational for up to two days without AC power. The Smart Control Panel conveniently displays the time, temperature and is the place to adjust the remote lock-out, motion sensing lights and time-to-close features of the opener. The overhead lights on this opener are very bright and we love that they go on at the first sense of motion. The belt drive is very quiet, the remote opener range is excellent and, despite the fact that the opener is a little bit slower than our previous one, we like it quite well and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new or replacement opener.

My wife and I agree that there are a couple of notable quirks that we encountered while setting up and using these two devices. We feel that while the separate MyQ Garage product is great for owners of non-Chamberlain garage door openers, it would be much more convenient and a lot less labor intensive (during set up) if the wireless gateway was built-in as part of the Chamberlain garage door opener. Essentially, combine the MyQ Garage Controller with the opener itself in one self-contained unit. Then, there’s no question about whether or not the MyQ is programmed to operate that opener and there would be the potential for a lot fewer connection issues during set up. Also, when we tried to set up Homelink control for our two vehicles, we found that the HD930EV opener was not compatible with Homelink and in order to make it so would require the purchase of a repeater unit (around $25). My car is a 2011 Toyota Camry and my wife’s is a 2006 Toyota Sienna. It seems a bit strange to me that this opener would be designed with Homelink that’s not compatible with cars that are as new as ours. Having used both ceiling plugs already (one for my opener and one for the MyQ wireless gateway), I’m out of open plugs for a repeater anyway. It appears that we will have to make due with the provided remote openers.

The MyQ Garage Controller is a very good product that has definite benefits for the homeowner. Set up requires some patience and a strong wireless signal is required for optimal operation but once it’s working it’s a great addition to your home automation system. Over the past week, we’ve opened and closed the door from miles away, on both 3G and Wi-Fi and it’s worked flawlessly. That’s what we had hoped and that’s the great benefit that the MyQ Garage Controller provides. The price of the MyQ is around $129, available direct from Chamberlain, Amazon, and other stores and its money well spent for those of us who want to monitor / control our garage doors. I think there’s room for improvement on this product (as previously mentioned) but it’s a great start. Despite the lack of compatible Homelink for our vehicles, the Chamberlain HD930EV 1 ¼ HPS Belt Drive Garage Door Opener with Battery Backup is a very nice opener that delivers quiet operation with a full-featured digital control panel. It sells for around $250 and is available direct from Chamberlain, Home Depot and other stores.

Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a complimentary MyQ Garage Controller and a complimentary HD930EV Garage Door Opener courtesy of Chamberlain for the purpose of this review.