Checking In for Cocktails

There’s a little known thing in Atlanta called traffic. I’m not sure, but Atlanta may or may not be ranked in the Top 10 Cities of Worst Traffic Ever. Until recently my office was one mile away from home and now it’s just down a flight of stairs at home. When I’m stuck in traffic I hear the angels sing when I realize my commute doesn’t involve hundreds of thousands of cars.

Not long ago I was sitting still on I-85 North when I heard the familiar ping notifying me of a text on my phone. I looked at my phone (remember, the car was stopped and I wasn’t texting!) and saw a note from the BFF, Carol, “BUSTED! I see you’re on I-85 RIGHT BY MY HOUSE and you’re not stopping for a drink? Seriously?”

It was true. I was alone in the car, and not doing carpool, so why wasn’t I stopping by her house for a drink? That is a question I now ask myself each time I’m approaching her exit, where my second home resides.

On the Life360 app, my family is defined as myself, my husband, my two kids and Carol. We are family the five of us. She likes to know that I can see where she is and vice versa. She is the one who uses the “Check-in” feature the most and I love that because even though I see her weekly it’s good to know she’s checking in on us. I especially like it when she is thinking about having me over for a cocktail. Like, I don’t know, sangria.

I am not sure that the team at Life360 team has added a “Share Cocktail Recipe” function (I’ll get on development about that) so I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way and provide a link to Pinterest, for this amazing White Strawberry-Lemon Sangria.

sangriaWhite Strawberry-Lemon Sangria

  • 1 Apple
  • 4 Cups of Lemon-lime Soda
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Cup Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup Rum, White
  • 1 750 ml Bottle White Wine

It is listed for six servings. Is that possible when there are only two of us drinking? I mean, she has a spare room with my name on it, so I can always stay overnight. You think Carol will have that pitcher of sangria ready next time I’m stuck in traffic and take a detour to her house?

I just need to go Check In with her first. That’s easy enough.

Cell phones and young teens

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 6.56.58 AMMy sons, now in their twenties, didn’t care what kind of phone they had in their early teen years. Smartphones weren’t the norm, and they weren’t big on texting. A standard flip phone fit their phone needs perfectly.

It’s different now with my daughters, who are 13 and 15. Smartphones are pretty much standard issue for kids even younger than they are. Before buying a phone for your children, make some determinations about what they really need.

Giving your child a smart phone puts the world in their hands, but it also puts them in the world’s hands. Help prepare your kids to be smart and safe.

Know Your Apps

Will they be able to load apps without your permission? Talking about your family’s rules in advance will help set healthy boundaries for what’s on their phone and how they use it.

Due to bullying or potentially inappropriate content, decide what social media apps you are comfortable with your kids using. If they’re on it, you need to be on it. You don’t have to stalk them, but you should know how their social media platforms work.

For games, are there in-app purchases? Who will be responsible for additional charges? If they go over data limits, will they be cut off for the month or pay for the overage out of allowance or with additional chores?

Be Clear with Your Boundaries

I have restrictions on phone usage during set times and during certain activities. Before you have kids texting non-stop during Thanksgiving dinner, communicate your standards for phone etiquette.

Off after ten? Put away during family game night? These are things to figure out and talk about before it’s a point of conflict.

A Right or a Privilege?

When the homework is undone, if the grades drop, because of a discipline issue—will the phone be something you take away or restrict? Although a lot of cell phone activity is optional, these days having a phone while you are away from the house can be a necessity.

Last year we decided it was time to buy our youngest child a phone after we were separated in a theme park and had no way to contact her. After that experience, we felt a phone was now a necessity for her.

Keeping Up with Family

Apps like Life360 help keep your family connected—effortlessly! And with Premium, you get the additional feature of being able to locate up to six misplaced non-smartphones. While losing a phone is only an everyday occurrence in my house, it can give you peace of mind with your kids’ first phones.

And if a phone is not lost, but stolen? Premium will cover up to $100 for a qualified claim.

Getting that first phone is an exciting modern rite of passage. Set your kids up for success by knowing what you’re in for and by planning for the bumps you’ll encounter along the way.

Spring Clean Your Mobile Devices

iPhone Full StorageAs daffodils, tulips and purple crocuses emerge from the ground, we’re on a tear to clean out our homes and yards to start the warm summer months off in a clean, fresh environment. It’s a perfect time to assess our mobile devices to clean up our apps and photos to free up memory, speed up processing, and organize our on-the-go lives. Here’s some tips to spring clean your mobile device:

Back up or delete photos and videos

A picture here, a video there, and the next thing you know you have gigabytes worth of photos and video that have accumulated space without you being aware. Before you go ahead and back up everything, consider flipping through your photos first to see if they’re worth keeping. It’s so easy to take multiple shots of the same scene to get that “perfect” picture, but you never delete the ones that didn’t make the cut. There could be hundreds of photos sitting on your phone that you don’t even WANT to keep, let alone back up. You could reclaim space doing this, and then if there’s still photos that you want to keep and quickly access, go ahead and back them up to your computer or even in the cloud. (By the way, you know all those photos you’ve texted your spouse, family, significant other? They’re likely taking up a healthy amount of space on your phone as well. Consider skimming through all those text messages and deleting the ones that have attachments.)

Clear the app clutter

Take a look at the apps on your device. Are you using all of them regularly? Are there a few that you haven’t touched since downloading them a year ago? Delete the apps you no longer use and you’ll free up memory space (for more photos and videos, of course!) and maybe increase your processing speed.

Clear your cache – and that includes your mailbox

Just like on your desktop, the web browser on your phone stores files to help speed up download time by having commonly used pieces of webpages stored locally. Over time that cache builds up and you may have a healthy amount of space being occupied by these files (that you may not really need anymore).

Separately, if you use email on your phone, sending messages – especially with attachments – or downloading attachments sent to you may be taking up more space than you know. While it’s not an ideal option, you may want to consider deleting your email account, setting it up again and let the email repopulate on your phone without having all those files weighing you down.

Wipe off the device

We’re talking here about physically wiping down your device, as in with a soft cloth to remove dirt build-up or a disinfectant wipe for the back of your phone. This is a good thing to do on a regular basis anyway, because the reality is these days, people take their phones everywhere (use your imagination here), and who knows what’s living on your device. Ick.

Get a new case

Brighten your day and must-have accessory with a new device case. If you fancy a fashionable on-trend phone case, check out the spring designs from Kate Spade, Tory Burch, and Michael Kors at Nordstrom. Or check out Shutterfly to create a custom photo case.  The traveler in me loves the state pride phone cases from Swanky Press. Of course, if rugged durability matters the most to you, my phones have always been well protected with the Otterbox and LifeProof cases.

Be sure to check with your individual phone maker (iPhone, Android, or Windows) as there may be specific directions that you’ll need to follow to spring clean your mobile device based on the type of phone that you have.

Simplifying life with a teenager and a spouse who travels

medium_263909727When Life360 reached out to me about being an ambassador, I didn’t hesitate saying yes. I’m the parent of a 13 year old with a lot of afterschool activities and a husband whose work frequently takes him away from home.

Why Life360? It’s pretty simple. I don’t have to ask “Where are you?” or text “Will you check in with me?” Not that I’m a helicopter parent, but when it’s been an extended period of time and I’ve not heard from them, I can check on my family and go about my business.

Life360 is especially helpful when commuting. While traffic in the Charlotte region is not like other large metropolitan areas, if there is an accident, the interstate will shut down with very few exits and backups for miles on end. Since my husband gets home at a certain time, if he’s more than 15 minutes late, I grab my phone and check Life360. This is preferable for both of us. He hates receiving calls in the car and I don’t like talking on the phone while I’m in the car as it’s a huge factor in distracted driving accidents.

We’re most looking forward to using Life360 for is my upcoming travel. I’m in the middle of writing a book which is going to see me traveling thousands of miles for research and interviews. Sometimes my family will be me, but most of the time I’ll be solo road tripping. Not only will I be on the road, but I’ll be in places I’m not familiar with and my phone will be a huge distraction. While there are other tools I use to send text messages back to people who are calling or texting me, my primary use for Life360 is so others in my Circles can see where I am.

An added bonus with the premium plan is the 24/7 Live Advisor who can direct emergency responders to your exact location. For the amount of miles I’m going to be ticking off on my Honda Accord, this, to me, is an essential added feature. There’s also emergency roadside assistance. Which means I’m now double covered on the road.

For me, Life360 was a good choice when thinking about what I’m doing professionally. I use it in conjunction with other great travel tools and feel more secure and confident while on the road. That’s something we all can get behind.

Photo credit: lasgalletas cc

Using my smart watch to keep tabs on family.

galaxy gear life360Having not worn a watch for many years, wearing the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch took some getting used to. But now it’s indispensable. Yes, I can check the time, be alerted of incoming texts, take and make phone calls on it, and even take pictures and video on it.

But recently, one app has become available on the Galaxy Gear that has proved to be an incredible convenience. I downloaded the Life 360 app onto my smartphone and absolutely love it.

husband life360

Is he OK?

Life360 has been a great app to keep tabs on my family. My husband is a Deacon at our church and once a month they have a meeting at church that can run late…really late. With Life360, I can check on my phone to know where he is. But now with the Life360 app on my Galaxy Gear smartwatch, I don’t have to get up to go to my phone. I can just check my watch. Love it!

quick notes life360

Quick Notes

The Quick Notes feature is so handy. I have experienced a number of times where I would love to send my husband a status quick note before I began driving, but I don’t want to take the time. Now, I can just pull up Quick Notes and select “On my Way” or Running late” to alert him of my status. Love it!

check in panic life360

Check-in/Panic

Life 360 updates my family members every so often, but sometimes it helps to give it some extra help. I like that I can check-in on my Galaxy Gear so that when I travel, my husband will know that I arrived to my destination safely. No need to text. I can also click the Panic button to alert my husband of any scary situation I may be in.

live advisor life360

Live Advisor

Now this is cool. With the Premium version of Life360, you have immediate access to a live person…right on your wrist. Calling the Live Advisor can get me help with medical emergencies, auto accidents, help with a tow truck, missing family members, and more.

If I’m in a crisis situation, the last thing I will think of is to grab my phone and open up my Life360 app. But with the app on my wrist, I can get help immediately. And better yet, the Live Advisor will have my exact GPS tracking info. and can provide my location to emergency personnel, tow trucks, etc.

The free Galaxy Gear app shows me that Life360 is committed to innovative ways to help you keep track of your family in convenient ways to make your life a little smoother. You can find the Life360 Galaxy Gear app here.

Family travel with Life360

Hi there! So pleased have an ambassadorship with Life360. Even though my career as a blogger and writer is all about technology, my personal life is rather Luddite-ish. I am not one of those people who lives and breathes apps, using one for grocery shopping and another for meal planning. Rather, I like to get in and get out (so to speak) when it comes to my personal smart phone. The exception for me is Life360. My blog’s tagline is “doing it all; some of it well” and Life360 is one of those tools that helps me do things well. I look forward to sharing the ways I use it as well as other tips on simplifying your life with tech.

Even though our twins, who are only seven, are too young for smart phones. We use Life360 as a way of keeping track of them when we can’t be with them. Take the girls and I’s recent trip to my home state of Texas. The recovery from the ten hour drive has been rough. But wow was it great to slough off responsibility and only worry about myself for a bit.

Untitled-1

Well a parent never really stops worrying do they? To put my mind at ease I lojacked my parents with Life360. So for every spoiling trip to the toy store, third fro-yo trip of the day, and late bedtime I was along for the ride. And yes I realize that sounds a little creepy.

But if you can’t stalk your family, who can you stalk? And it came in handy when I didn’t want my kids stalking me. Even in a big city like Dallas, we tend to run in the same small circle of town. So it was useful to know to wait a few minutes before heading into the store. And I could hide my own location in case my parents were tempted to hand off the terror twins. There was no tagging in on this trip!

Now that I am back home, I no longer need to track my parents (ha! I bet I am one of the few Life360 users who is using it that way!) But honestly, it’s tempting to still circle them in and see what they have been up to. And oh, I don’t know, maybe message them to pick me up some peppermint Jo-Jo’s when I see that they are at Trader Joe’s.

It’s good to have my stalking ways out in the open. And now that I have confessed, I am looking forward to talking about the everyday ways Life360 simplifies family communication. Because when my husband and I are not stalking our parents, that’s how we get stuff done these days. Looking forward to going into detail next month!

Head of Platform Management

Nebo is responsible for developing business partnerships and third-party platform integration. Nebo spent 3 years in management consulting and 11 years in Automotive Telematics with GM / OnStar where he held several management positions including overseeing Location-based Services. Nebo received an MBA from INSEAD, MS from Stanford and a BS from Northeastern. Nebo holds 2 patents and speaks 4 languages.

Life360 + IFTTT = Lots of possibilities

Hi everyone!

We are excited to announce our channel partnership with IFTTT. IFTTT is an Internet of Things platform that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: “If This Then That.”

With this partnership, you can now make your connected home “family smart.” For example, Life360 knows when the last person leaves home and can automatically turn off the lights. Not only can you save energy, but you can enjoy peace of mind by locking the door automatically as well.

Your kids may also get a kick out of seeing flashing rainbow lights on their Philips Hue system to announce mom’s arrival at home. Or maybe even better when mom leaves home. :)

You can also stay in touch with your teen’s car, via a connected car dongle and get a family circle notification when the check engine light goes on.

To get you started, we created few recipes for you to try:

IFTTT Recipe: When I arrive Home, let my family know with a color loop connects life360 to philips-hue

IFTTT Recipe: Send a message to a Life360 Circle when UP wakes up connects up-by-jawbone to life360 IFTTT Recipe: When last family member leaves Home, send me a reminder to lower my thermostat connects life360 to sms

IFTTT Recipe: When I check in on Foursquare in an area, send message to my Life360 Circle connects foursquare to life360

In addition, we are excited to take our private beta API on the road. Our integration with IFTTT was completed by using our public API set – just as a third party developer would use it. We are looking forward to opening our API set to the broader developer community by the end of the year.

In the meantime, head over to IFTTT to mix and match your recipes with Life360.

The possibilities are endless. Best of all, you are in the driver’s seat.

Have fun!

Nebo Nedeljkovic, Head of Platform Management

Social Media & Community Manager

Lizz turned a 7 year blogging "hobby" into a career doing what she loves, combining her love of all things social with the exciting environment of a startup. As a member of the marketing team, she is the person behind our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Lizz is a designer, photographer, social media geek, mom, wife and baker (but not necessarily in that order.) As a last word of warning, Lizz is taller in real life than she appears on the internet.

Introducing Life360′s 2014 Blog Ambassadors

I am excited to introduce the first generation of Life360 blog ambassadors! This is a group of bloggers who will be providing content for you here, on our blog, and they will also be sharing exciting Life360 updates on their own blogs.

These ladies have been chosen for specific reasons; they each bring their own unique voice and experiences and will be sharing them with you in the coming months. They’ll be talking more than just tech; from family communication, to easy recipes, to general parenting tips, they’ve got lots of exciting content to come!

These are some great writers and lovely people, and we are thrilled to be working with them and having them share their words here… their posts will be starting later this week, so be sure to keep an eye on here and on our Facebook page to stay in the loop/

So without further ado, please meet the bloggers!

anneAnne Parris is a tired mother of four and perhaps the world’s worst part-time vegan. She is one of the founders of Midlife Boulevard, an on-line magazine for women in midlife. Also, she writes on her own blog Not A Supermom, a rather typical mom blog about parenting, laundry, and tricking her kids into eating vegetables.

 

 

 

Lori

Lori is a Family Digital Lifestyle expert and the founder of the Well Connected Mom. The WellConnectedMom reviews and discusses a myriad of technology products to find those which relate most to day’s families. An avid technology lover from her youth (can you say ATARI and Commodore 64?), Lori continues to delve into the latest and greatest technologies for families. Self-dubbed the “touchscreen Queen,” Lori investigates touchscreens from phones to computers to wearables and more to help navigate families through the abundance of devices on the market. Lori has a master’s degree from University of Southern California (USC) in Communications Management (Technology) and a BS from University of California Riverside in Business (marketing). She worked for Nestle USA for twelve years in sales, brand marketing, IT, and e-business marketing consulting before having children and deciding to work out of her home.

 

lisaLisa M. Frame is a whirling dervish based in Charlotte, NC. Blogging since 2002, she’s seen pretty much everything in the blogging world, and you’ll currently find her at A Daily Pinch. Lisa is an experienced community manager who specializes in building brand voice for digital properties. A wife and mother fueled by coffee and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Lisa is currently working on a book about women and Southern culture.

 

 

 

kristiKristi Trimmer is a full-time travel and fitness blogger at KristiTrimmer.com. One day she packed up her car and started the #GirlOnTheRun adventure traveling for 202 Days over 38 States and ran 10 Half Marathons. Kristi is currently on a trek to Alaska running along the way as she blog about fitness tech, eating soy free, and enjoying good craft beers and yummy wines. She uses Life360 so her family can know where she is at in the world at all times.

 

 

kateKate Canterbury has been online since the day of list servs. And kind of misses them. You can find her writing about technology, food, beer, and her twins on her blog The Guavalicious Life. Find her on EVERY social media outlet possible posting under the nom de plume guavalicious. She doesn’t like guavas.

 

 

 

 

kadiKadi Prescott, founder of Social Media Moms and mother of seven, began connecting with other parents online (what is now known as social media,) back in 2001. Three years later, Kadi decided to start sharing her parenting journey via a public blog, Our Seven Seeds. This quickly became an obsession for her; a way to feel not so alone as a very young, sleep deprived, unsure mom of many. Her once very lonely life as a stay at home mom, blossomed into a world of connection, socialization and friendship. Thanks to a little Blogspot address, Kadi had found her purpose and her people. Over the past 13 years, she has served many roles within social media, from speaker and blogging mentor, to brand ambassador and community manager. Kadi feels fortunate to have had some great mentors in the marketing industry. From both their guidance and her own experiences, she learned how to marry traditional marketing with social media. Although Kadi works mainly on the B2B side of things these days, creating social marketing strategy, she still loves to share her parenting stories because she feels that it is important for other moms to know that it is okay not to fit the June Cleaver mold.

 

JuliaJulia Roberts married into the name. In case you didn’t know, (the famous) Julia Roberts will not call your establishment to make her appointment. A geneticist’s dream,she and husband Julian (yeah, she knows, it’s a bit much for them too) produced two cute kids with a (super) rare syndrome that includes a vision disorder and kidney and liver diseases. She and Julian live in Atlanta, and own a marketing firm together. Learning to laugh at her life and their kids – which the grandparents find especially annoying – has helped her survive. That and Diet Coke. She runs Support for Special Needs And blogged for nine years at Kidneys & Eyes, before shutting it down. You can find her on twitter as @juliaroberts1 and TheOtherJuliaRoberts.com.

 

JenJen Lee Reeves is the Founder of Born Just Right, a community that focuses on supporting families of children born with limb differences. She is also a social communications strategist and trainer for a large non-profit. She has two children, 8-year-old Jordan and 12-year-old Cameron. She recently allowed Cam to use a phone but only if he has the @Life360 app so she has peace of mind when she travels for work. Jen is also married to a television news manager and they all love taking care of their new puppy, Bailey.

 

 

Heidi

Heidi Leder chronicles family travel adventures and technology experiences at Coast To Coast Mom and is formerly the editor of Techlicious Moms, a technology lifestyle site for women. Heidi is a leading source for kids’ and family-friendly focused technology and has contributed to segments on the Katie Couric Show along with appearing on the tech channel of the Today Show website, and has appeared on and moderated panels about women and technology. When she’s not writing, she consults on consumer tech outreach, including hosting in-person, virtual, and online technology workshops for women across the country, and has been a brand ambassador for several major consumer electronics companies. Heidi is a former Silicon Valley PR pro, and was one of PR News’ “15 under 30 to Watch.” Heidi was raised in Michigan, has lived in Silicon Valley, Chicago, and finally in the NYC area, where she currently lives with her husband and son.

robyn

Robyn Wright has been a geek and foodie for as long as she can remember. Starting in the early 90s she was online and has had various websites over the years. Her current blog, RobynsOnlineWorld.com, was started in 2008. Robyn passed along her geek qualities to her son, 19, who was raised in a digital world. Along with writing on her own blog, Robyn writes for several other blogs and works with major technology and food brands. You should also note that Robyn loves garlic and is easily amused!

Head of Infrastructure

Scaling is hard, *and* worth it.

Hi friends!

My name is Matt Lanier (my friends call me m@), and I’m the Head of Infrastructure for Life360. It’s the job of the Infrastructure team to make sure that whenever you want to send a message to your spouse, see if your friends are nearby, make sure your kid has made it to school, or know that your parent is safe, you can. My wife, children, and I use Life360 every day so she can know when I’m coming home late from the office (which has been happening a lot lately) or to tell us that the kids are on the bus coming home from school. Life360 makes our lives better by keeping us in closer communication.

Each day we are breaking records at Life360, with more users and more engaged users of our continually updated application. While we’re not ready to share publicly the number of requests that we’re dealing with at a detailed level, I can say that each second of the day our servers process more location checkins, panic requests, and other application traffic from your mobile devices than they were processing the day before. At our peak time around 3pm, you can feel the rumble as our production service engine roars to life, with storage engines that are pushing logical limits and transactional engines that have to do their job in microseconds. If you’re a DevOps person like me and get a thrill from watching log files scroll by at top speed full of HTTP 200s, you know how it feels when the engine is working. We feel like Scotty from Star Trek, pushing the Enterprise through deep space at high warp.

And then there are the days when the engine doesn’t work as well as it should. It starts with an alert from our monitoring system showing requests that should be taking a fraction of a second are taking a few seconds instead. It’s followed by a wave of HTTP 502 from our application servers as they say, in effect, “send reinforcements!”, and then by our data storage and caching servers telling us that they can’t read and write data as fast as our users need. On those days, we feel like the crew of Galaxy Quest looking for beryllium spheres after a battle so that we can limp home.

So when I get that text message from my wife asking “Hey Matt, is Life360 having service problems again?”, it’s not just an academic thing for me, it’s personal. I hang my head for a moment and respond back with “yes my love; we’re growing so quickly we can’t add servers fast enough.” Have we in Life360 Infrastructure failed a few times recently as we grow? Yes we have, and we know it’s probably happened right when you needed to know where a loved one was. Mea Culpa. Seriously, we’re sorry, and take responsibility for making it better so that you can continue relying on us.

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Here in Infrastructure Engineering, we are rethinking everything we do with the understanding that our #1 priority is to make sure that you can stay in touch with those you care about through LIfe360. That involves executing on industry standard capacity planning, implementing fault tolerance at all levels of our infrastructure, and pivoting our existing architecture from what got us here to what’s going to bring us to 100x our current size. Scaling is hard work, *and* worth it to maintain your trust.

We are incredibly grateful to you, our customers, for continuing to trust us and recommending us to your friends and family. As we grow together, please continue telling us how we’re doing and how we can help you stay in touch with those you care about the most.

Thanks- m@ matt.lanier@life360.com

Updating to iOS 7.1 – Step-by-Step

facebook_updategraphic

Happily, the recent release of Apple’s iOS 7.1 update has addressed some of the location issues that were introduced with iOS 7 last fall.

Here is a step-by-step guide ofr how to update your iPhone, if you haven’t already.

Find the “Settings” option on your phone.

update1 Once you’re in “Settings,” tap “General”

update2 You’ll see “Software Update” as one of the options there.

update3

If you have not yet updated to iOS 7.1, it will look like this. If you’ve already updated, it will instead say “iOS 7.1 Your software is up to date.”

update4Tap the update to install it. And you’re done!