Brandi Bleak


The Chat

You should know about these CES gadgets!

Gadgets, Technology, The ChatBrandi BleakComment

This year's Consumer Electronic Show is much different from their first event, 50 years ago. Instead of showcasing black and white TVs and transistor radios, I'll show you things that caught my eye at the show. We've come a long, innovative way!


I'll also find the most futuristic but beautifully designed concept car and add it to the top of my list.  I don't know much about traditional cars, but the idea of self driving smart car with Artificial Intelligence is right up my alley. The new Toyota Concept-i is smart enough to learn your driving habits, and know when it might be smart to takeover the drive home. Sign me up!


Next up, I chose from several options, and picked out the cutest robot I saw at CES. Kuri, which you can preorder for $699, is not only adorable, but is stated to be a companion, as well as a robot that can greet you when you arrive home from work. Kuri can listen to commands, play your favorite tunes or audiobooks, read stories to the little ones, and even watch your home and alert you if noises are heard while you're away. When Kuri needs to charge, she simply moves back to her charging station, no effort needed.

I had to include Lego Boost. Not the usual blocks my generation is used to though. Now, you will be able to purchase a kit, download the app, and create code that prompts your Legos to move! You can play a song on your guitar or make your robot dance. 

I love that I found a breast pump on my search for innovative finds at the show The Willow Breast Pump is unique because it has no cords and works alongside an app that keeps your schedule for you, but a few moms I chatted with were concerned with a couple of things. The proprietary bags seem to be in a weird shape. The idea of washing the device in the dishwasher seems convenient, but you would also need to clean it more often than the dishwasher is ran. Although a benefit is that you can simply place it in your bra and go about your business (no need to find a private area unless you want one), I'm not sure most have much rooms in their bra for anything extra when this device is usually needed. I'm curious about the practical use of this, but so excited about the concept!

My next pick may not be the most innovative gadgets, but it's good for those who want the option to have a touchscreen laptop without buying a brand new machine. The AirBar allows you to plug the USB into one of the few MacBooks it currently works with and then presto! You can now control your computer with your fingers, a stylus or anything else! Great for creatives or accessibility features. At only $50, seems like a easy solution. 

Black Friday Tech Deals

Gadgets, The Chat, TechnologyBrandi BleakComment

Nintendo Classic $59

This one isn't a black Friday deal, but if you can find one - buy it! They’re adding stock daily and still sold out everywhere. I'd love an actual original console, but this will do!

Apple Watch Series 1

Starting at $198 (save $71.99 on Black Friday) at Target

 I've had this watch since day 1, and I still love it and wear it almost every day. This original version doesn’t have GPS and isn't waterproof, but it is great for being aware of your health and offers many convenient options to stay connected. To compare the Series 2 starts at $369.

To compare, the Series 2 starts at $369.

Fun Bonus! Apple recently offered an Activity Challenge:
This Thanksgiving Day, earn a special achievement by completing a walk, run or wheelchair workout of at least 5K (3.1 mi)."

Everyone who knows me is aware that I'm a pretty loyal Apple fan, so I'll first you recommend looking into the iPads that are available at a slightly lower price this holiday season. If you're looking to get your first tablet, take a look at this basic tablet available at a very reasonable price.

Amazon Fire 7

The original cost is only $49, but it will be even lower this Black Friday. Amazon, Target, Best Buy and Staples will offer the Amazon Fire 7 for only $33.33. The tablet is the definition of entry-level, but has a 7” screen, 8BG space, available in multiple colors.

If you're a Prime Member, you also get unlimited access to a broad selection of songs, books, videos and more. Prime Memberships are being offered at a discounted rate of $79 per year (Originally $99).

Microsoft Office 365 Home

You can get a 1-year subscription to the Personal version of Office 365 for only $59 at Walmart (originally $99). Along with OneDrive cloud storage space, you will also have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Skype. 

Faculty, staff and students of FSCJ receive Microsoft Office 365 for free on up to 5 devices. 

Samsung Gear VR

Save $40 on this gadget that allows users to get a taste of virtual reality, my favorite innovative technology. The Samsung Gear VR works with the Galaxy S7 family of phones is usually $59.99, will be on sale this Black Friday. 

Check it out here:

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone with 2.7K HD Video Camera

The camera is reliable and better than some of the higher end models. The Phantom 3 Standard has GPS automated flight and most of the features you’d find in drones that cost three times as much.  The DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone will be on sale for Black Friday for between $369-399, depending on features. 

Drones: Small, Medium & Impressive Options

Gadgets, The ChatBrandi BleakComment

Husband Q4 & Estes Proto X Nano Quadcopters

If you want something to play around with, and possibly fly indoors, you'll want to take a look at the Husband Q4 Nano Quadcopter for under $20 or the Estes Proto X Nano Quadcopter for about $30. The Estes Proto can be found in local stores, while the other option can easily be purchased online. Both options are available in multiple colors. 

Disclaimer: Cheap quadcopter can be frustrating and hard to fly if you have high expectations. Unlike a larger drone with GPS, cheap copters aren’t stable and it’s a matter of time before you get hurt, break them or lose them! 

Syma X5C Quadcopter with Camera

The next option for buying a drone this year is the Syma X5C Quadcopter with Camera for slightly more than the above options, at $55. The X5C is the standard outdoor quadcopter under $100. Although the camera isn’t high quality, it is a neat feature to use. A friend who uses this one says it even survived an incident with a pool!

DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone

The camera is reliable and better than some of the higher end models. The Phantom 3 Standard has GPS automated flight and most of the features you’d find in drones that cost three times as much.  The DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone will be on sale for Black Friday for between $369-399, depending on features. 

Thanks to Michael Smith, my friend and 'drone expert', for
recommendations and opinions on each of these. 

Technology for Turkey Day

Apps, The Chat, TechnologyBrandi BleakComment

Build Excitement

Paperless Post

  • Stunning designs for easy online invitations and cards.

Prepping the Meal


  • My pick for best app for planning your meal & getting creative
  • Ideas for a Fabulous Friendsgiving, Vegetarian Thanksgiving, & Pancake inspired Cocktails

Spotify's Turkey Timer

  • Serve up the perfect Thanksgiving playlist while your bird cooks.
  • Enter how much your bird weighs and whether its stuffed or unstuffed.
  • Choose from one of six genres, including "Club Kitchen" and "Freshly Baked."


  • Set a separate timer for each dish.
  • ave favorites timers for events that occur used regularly.

Entertain Your Guests


  • Dancing game for 2 players
  • Choreography by the Dutch National Ballet
  • Twist and twirl elegantly, or get entangled with a friend.


SketchParty TV for Apple TV

  • From the new Apple TV App Store (or via AirPlay Mirroring).
  • Turn your HDTV into a Wifi drawing canvas.

A Few Hurricane Worthy Apps

Apps, The ChatBrandi BleakComment

Although I coincidentally managed to be out of town during Hurricane Matthew, I asked my friends and colleagues which apps they found to be most useful and reviewed them this week on The Chat. Watch the segment and find my list below so you're even more prepared in the future.

The Weather Channel
This app, along with your preferred local news app for live streaming and up-to-date radar information.


JSO kept readers aware of up-to-date info on this social media app.

Facebook Safety Check

This is a great way to let others know you're safe.


Explains how to prepare ahead of the storm and allows users to submit photos of damage afterward.


You can listen to the local radio here, which provided great coverage during the storm.

Hotel Tonight

If you needed to evacuate during the storm, this app was helpful in finding availability of last minute rooms in a specific area. 


Discover which nearby restaurants will deliver and if they were open after Matthew made it's way through the area.

FSCJ Safe App

This app has so many useful features, including Emergency Contacts, Friend Walk, Virtual Walkhome, Campus Maps and Alerts. 


The app provides public and private communications that work without Internet access or cellular data,  which is perfect during natural disasters, massive events, historical elections, or even large festivals.

Most Recommended by those asked:

From Emergency Preparedness Division and Information Technologies Division of the City of Jax, this app assists users in monitoring weather threats and plan for evacuation in their specific location. It also provides access to current threat levels, weather reports, and wildfire updates. 

Could a Robot Take Over Your Job?

Apps, Health, Technology, The Chat, ProductivityBrandi BleakComment

Experts have warned that jobs will be lost because of AI. Which jobs will be lost? Read on to see my picks for the uses of artificial intelligence that I see having the possibility of taking over, or improving the roles in our future. 

The Grid

Job that it will replace: Web Designer

The Grid is currently sold out, however since they are a just beginning to offer their services, I envision that the AI will be available to everyone soon. I found a price of $96 per year, which is very reasonable compared to the options currently available. 

I have used several website services in the past. I've probably had my own website for a decade (at least) now. The site you're reading this on, as well as a few others I own or manage, are created on a template site that's extremely easy to use. Squarespace has been my favorite site to showcase my content because of it's easy drag-and-drop use. However, The Grid takes web design just a step further. 

In the future, websites may just design themselves, allowing the creator to focus on content over design. The Grid uses the power of artificial intelligence to take content, media, and anything else you throw at it, and automatically creates a custom website for you. There's not a template, but instead a layout filter that adjusts based around your purpose and content. Want to sell a product? Get more followers? State your site's purpose and watch The Grid redesign to place your action at the forefront of your site. It uses algorithms to analyze your content, then applies a color palette that compliments your look. It can quickly redesign your site if you want to present yourself as more casual, or more professional. Just say the word. 

The feature I'm most curious about is the ability for people to follow your website. Not follow your business on social media, not subscribe, but follow your website. And you can view changes in other site's changes. I'm simply curious how this could effect how people will stay updated on their favorite site's content in the future. 


Job that it will replace: Doctor

Although this app is currently available in the UK and a few surrounding areas, I cannot WAIT until we have something similar (or hopefully it expands to the US). The company's purpose, which I adore, is to, "Democratise healthcare by putting an accessible and affordable health service into the hands of every person on earth."

Many people Google their symptoms, but the answers you get are often not relevant. Artificial intelligence is used to assist in predicting the future of your health just from utilizing information already gathered on your phone or wearable, like health rate. I find it amazing that were living in a time that technology has the ability to assist in preventing issues, as well as help fix them.

The app also provides advice from doctors, therapists & medical specialists about your health concerns or the AI "doctor" can decode your symptoms for a recommendation. Although the app won't prescribe any medication, it can remind you when to take it.

The features are free for the first 30 days, then it's priced at £4.99 a month for 7-days-a-week access to their pool of human doctors over video chat. Nearly 60 businesses, including some health insurance companies, offer its services to employees. Seems like it would be a great way to  promote health!

Here are a few more features this app will provide:

•    Video or phone consultations with top doctors in minutes
•    Text health-related questions using the Ask service
•    Check a symptom service
•    Access to clinical records
•    Medical monitoring
•    Specialist referrals
•    Order tests and kits
•    Medication delivery service


Job that she will replace: Office Manager

Britain’s first robotic office manager will see how well she can integrate with staff. Included in her duties are greeting guests, sending an alert if a fire-door is left open, taking note of items that are out of place, and monitoring temperature and noise levels for a comfortable work environment. Betty will also notice employees who are working late so that security are aware there are still people in the building. 

Her cameras and scanners create a map of the office area so she knows where she can move, and if an unfamiliar object is in her regular path, she will take a photograph, then email a picture to a member of staff asking for it to be identified. Unsure of the privacy issues, among others, that could arise, the creators went through endless amounts of ethics committees to get to this point. There will be no spying in Betty's office. 

Richard Susskind, an Oxford professor, said: “It’s no longer science fiction. It’s no longer the distant future. In our view a lot of these technologies will be coming through in the 2020s. We’re not saying that doctors are going to be replaced overnight ... but we are saying that the practical impact of artificial intelligence research coming out of research laboratories is remarkable. The current professions and the current work of professionals will gradually erode over time because more tasks will be taken over by machines.”


Content originally found at Venture Beat.

Rio 2016 - Olympic Technology: The App

Apps, Technology, The ChatBrandi BleakComment
I'm writing this blog while watching the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic Team Trials, in amazement at the skill and dedication it takes to simply be considered for the team. These ladies just a few of the nearly 10,000 athletes that will compete at Rio 2016. While you're watching to see who takes home the gold this summer, take a moment to consider the amount of planning, practice, and technology that's involved in the biggest sporting event in the world.

Technology is integrated into our lives in many ways, so it makes sense that it’s also in nearly every part of the Olympic Games. When considering this topic for The Chat, I was initially doubtful that technology had very much to do with the Olympics. My first thought was just to download the app and see what useful information I could gain from having it on my phone. Since that's where I started this journey of Olympic Technology, that's where I'll start my post as well. 

You can download the free app and start browsing through the available features pretty easily. With history, location details, and a real-time update on which of the 300 cities the torch is in leading up to the opening ceremonies. Be sure to check the app often for schedule details to be sure you don't miss your favorite sporting event once the games begin. 

So, I continued my research. I Googled 'technology' and 'Olympics' and what I found intrigued me. This will be the first of many posts where I'll be delving into the most impressive uses of technology at this year's Olympic games. Some of the implementations are simple, common sense ways to use technology to enhance the games. Then others are creative solutions that make people’s roles easier and push this year’s Olympics in a way they have yet to be able to.

On my upcoming tech segments on The Chat, I will review the various uses of technology within the sporting events, ways to see the venues as if you were there, and efficient, innovative uses like how technology can make paying for purchases while at the games easy as wearing a bracelet! Tune in to see which initiatives make my list!