The WoodTones Earbuds with Control Mic by Griffin Technology are a more organic-looking alternative to the Apple Earpods for for iPhone, Android or tablet. They feature real wood enclosures engraved with the Griffin logo and a choice of soft rubber tips. The earbuds have an inline mic/ controller to allow you to answer calls on your iPhone and change music tracks.
I’ve been testing these earbuds out for a couple of months and they have become my preferred everyday earbuds for listening to music and answering calls when out walking. I take my dog out for walks everyday and use these to keep up on phone calls whilst I walk, and to listen to music when I’m not on the phone.
They work very well for taking phone calls – I can hear the other person clearly and get no complaints about call quality at the other end, if the music is playing when a call comes in it stops whilst I take the call and restarts afterwards. If you press and hold the mic button it will activate Siri.
The earbuds come with a hemp fiber drawstring carrying pouch, which is useful for storage, and 2 extra pairs of soft rubber tips in different sizes. I used the standard tips that came installed on the earbuds and find them comfortable and stay in place well in my ears.
For listening to music the sound is crisp and clear with no crackles, obviously they don’t have the same depth of sound as a $200 over the ear headphone, but the sound quality is very good for the price point. With the earbuds properly fitted they do a good job of cutting out ambient noise. The in-line mic can be used to pause the music or change track, but there is no in-line volume control.
The WoodTones Earbuds are a great alternative to Apple Earpods – they are comfortable, look and sound good and make a great pair of everyday earbuds.
Available in Beech or Sapele Wood RRP $29.99 from GriffinTechnology.com, a version without inline mic/ control is also available for $19.99.
- 8 mm moving coil neodymium magnet drivers for powerful sound
- In-line control mic works with Siri and many other voice control systems
- Impedance: 16 ohms ± 15%
- Sensitivity: 103 dB ± 3 dB
- Frequency response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
- 4 foot TPE-jacketed cable with gold-plated 1/8″ (3.5 mm) plug
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
When I was asked to write a piece about autism for The iMums, given that I’m not autistic I decided to share with you the only thing I am an expert on – what it’s like to parent my children.
A couple of points to note first. Autism is a developmental disability and as a non-disabled person, the challenges I tackle from time to time are nowhere near as significant as the hurdles my children face daily. Secondly, I have never once wished my children were not autistic; I adore and accept them exactly the way they are.
Bearing those caveats in mind, here are some of the things I’ve found hardest to manage:
- The administration. In order to get the accommodations, services and supports my kids need, I have had to fill in more forms, attend more meetings, appointments and workshops, do more research and learn more things than I ever imagined possible.
- The isolation. There’s a counterpoint to this so make sure you read on, but I do sometimes wish I had someone I could call and have a cup of tea with. There are parent support groups but even if I didn’t have to do a 3 hour round trip to attend one, I still wouldn’t want to sit and listen to people talking about how much autism sucks. Friends whose kids are typically developing seem to fall into two camps. First there’s the pity crowd who are “so sorry” about my boys’ diagnosis. I’m not sorry, my kids are awesome. Then there are the folks who breezily declare, “well all parents have to deal with that.” Yes, given that my children are people and not dolphins, obviously there are many things that we have in common but honestly, it’s not the same.
- Fear for their future. All parents know this feeling but autistic adults (even when compared to other disabled individuals) are much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than their non-autistic peers. I worry about my boys growing up in a society that focuses solely on their deficits and differences. I want them to live in a world that values diversity and sees their strengths.
- When I don’t understand my kids. My non-speaking son is incredibly adept at communicating what he wants and this continues to improve as he uses AAC (augmentative and alternative communication). My other son, Oliver, is verbal but highly echolalic. I know that behaviour is communication but sometimes I struggle mightily to understand what Oliver’s behaviour means. Not having the same neurology as my children can be frustrating and painful at times.
- My boys are autistic in very different ways so when their needs come into conflict – when Oliver’s sensory seeking behaviour triggers Owen’s sensory sensitivities, for example – it’s extremely hard to come up with solutions where everyone’s needs get met.
Having said all that, there are some terrific benefits that I would never have experienced if my children weren’t autistic. Here’s some of them:
- An online support network. I have so many friends who, even if they can’t be with me in person, are incredibly understanding and supportive. I especially value the input of autistic adults who can often interpret my children for me in ways that make it easier for me to understand them.
- I’m a better person and I’m pretty sure, a better parent than I otherwise would have been. Trying to understand my children and balance their competing needs does have an upside. I’ve read books and articles, met people, written things, had to get my head around concepts and generally followed a path I would not otherwise have taken. I’ve had to exercise my powers of deduction and imagination – both in understanding my kids and coming up with creative solutions for some of the issues they face. There’s nothing more satisfying than making your child’s life easier, better or happier.
- It’s much easier to raise my children to be themselves. My kids get to focus on things they enjoy. They are allowed to leverage their special interests and areas of strength in order to develop new skills. Their education is individualized to suit them, they don’t have the same pressure to conform and they aren’t forced to wear the straitjacket of a standardized education.
- In many ways my boys are so easy to parent. They enjoy their own company so I’m not forced to feel that I always should be with, play with or talk with them. Their lives are relaxed and not over-scheduled with play groups, school clubs or ludicrous amounts of homework. They have freedom to just ‘be’ which in turn makes being a solo parent much less stressful for me.
I clearly can’t claim that this is what life’s like for all parents of all autistic children but I hope I’ve given you an idea of what it’s like for me – and that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It can be very frustrating to live in an area with poor cell reception, where dropped calls, internet connection issues and slow data upload and download times can lead to a lot of frustration and wasted time. We had this problem at my home for many years until a new cellphone tower was recently built nearby, and it has been a huge relief to now have good service; but I do spend quite a lot of time in an area in the Sierra Nevada mountains that still has these issues. I was happy to have the opportunity to test out the DT4G™ Cellular Signal Booster by Wilson Electronics to see if it could help.
Wilson Electronics are a company who specialize in products that boost your cellular reception. They have a wide range of cellphone signal boosters available, including options for the car, home and office. The DT4G™ is their newest home and office cell booster and works to boost 4G, 3G, and 2G data downloads. It works for subscribers of all US cellphone network providers except Clearwire. I tested it with AT&T.
The DT4G™ is a multi-part system – it has an external antenna, an internal antenna, and a cellphone booster all connected by coaxial cable (similar to one you would use for cable TV). The kit includes everything you need for DIY installation, but this isn’t a 5 minute job, it does take a while to work out the best place for installation and to securely install the outside antenna.
Before starting I would recommend reading the instructions carefully and watching the installation video on the Wilson Electronics website. The system basically acts like a megaphone amplifying your incoming signal, so to get the best results you need to position the outside antenna where it gets the best signal. If you are unsure where the cellphone towers and antenna are in your area I’d recommend going to antennasearch.com to see the locations and help you find the best spot. Once you know roughly what direction the nearest cellphone tower(s) are in, you can put your phone in field test mode to confirm. For an iPhone if you dial 3001#12345#* the phone will then enter field test mode. Simply put it displays your signal strength numerically instead of in bars. The number will be negative and the closer to zero it is the stronger the signal. At the home where I was testing the DT4G™ the un-boosted signal is typically 1 bar and -100 to -110 which is really, really bad! Walking around the outside of the house and testing the signal in different locations I found that location where signal appeared strongest was southwest side of the house, which was consistent with the direction of the nearest antenna I had found in my online search.
The outside antenna can be mounted in 3 ways – 1) on the roof 2) high up on a sidewall of the house or 3) stuck to the inside of a window. The installation kit includes mounting brackets for all 3 options, 1 is best; 3 the least effective option, but simplest installation. I tested both 1 and 3. For all 3 options the same general rules apply: point it in the direction of the strongest signal, place it as high as possible, separate the internal antenna from it by at least 20 feet (horizontal and or vertical separation), point the internal antenna away from both the external antenna and the booster.
Window Mounted External Antenna
With an un-boosted signal at this location in the living room I have just enough cellphone signal to get email, I can usually connect to the web in parts of the living room but the signal is weak enough that I can’t watch videos or use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. In the bedroom the situation is even worse – it often won’t connect at all in there. I first set up the external antenna on the inside of a window facing the strongest signal area, and set up the interior antenna in an adjacent room so that there was at least 20ft separation. The external antenna was mounted to the inside of the window using a bracket with suction cups. Although I did have cable running between the rooms it was quick and easy to set up.I found that the signal was much better as long as I was close to the internal antenna – within approximately 4-5 feet I could browse the internet, watch videos and use my iPhone as an mobile hotspot.
Roof Mounted External Antenna
For this option I sent my husband on the roof and he mounted the antenna to a pole on the roof, and I connected the internal antenna. I had him move the angle of the antennae approximately 22 degrees at a time, whilst I was using my iPhone in field test mode to check signal strength. Once we found the optimum position we kept it in that spot and tried the reception in different places. The internal antennae is in the bedroom (where we had next to no signal before) and now I can surf the internet, watch videos and use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot. The signal was good enough that I was able to connect multiple laptops to the iPhone and have them both connected to the web. I could also simultaneously download mail, surf the web and play a Youtube video, which would have been totally impossible before. With the roof mounted option I also found I had a useable signal over a much bigger area – I can watch videos and use the iPhone as a hotspot from the living room, which is 20 ft or so from the internal antenna. I now typically get 3 -4 bars, instead of 1 bar, numerically the signal varies but it is at times as good as -79 – much better than -110.
Download and upload speeds
I did use the OOKLA Speed test app to test the download and upload speeds with the boosted and un-boosted signal as I planned to be very scientific and show the results in several different locations with and without the booster. What I found was there was a huge moment to moment fluctuation in the speeds, both with the signal boosted and un-boosted. So you really couldn’t compare single readings at any location boosted v un-boosted, but instead could look at trends. Overall, the boosted signal speeds were noticeably better, but there was a lot of scatter – spurious reading both bad and good in boosted and un-boosted.
In the worst signal location the test was failing un-boosted, and boosted signal download speeds were about 2-3mbps. In other places the download speed was typically about 2x as fast boosted vs un-boosted, upload times were better overall too, but by a smaller % – closer to a 50% improvement.
The most important question for me is does the DT4G™ noticeably improve the performance of my cellphone ? The answer in my testing is definitely yes. Even though I still have a variable signal after boosting (which I suspect is due to location and not having a big tower nearby) it is much, much more useable. I can now consistently have enough signal strength to use my iPhone as a mobile hotspot, watch online videos and be able to download apps and pictures, all of which were impossible 95% of the time before.
The DT4G™ Cellular Signal Booster by Wilson Electronics has an RRP of $399 and is available from many retailers and online, find your local suppliers here.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.
Guest Post by Lisa Domican developer of Grace App.
When Liam was small and we didn’t yet know he had autism he used to get rampant tonsillitis.
I would take him to the Doctor, get the antibiotics and then fail hopelessly at getting Liam to take them (because he was so sensitive to taste and smell) so the infection would escalate into something even stronger and more painful.
Even with this septic mess of a throat, Liam would continue to run around and play until suddenly he would go pale and listless.
I would take him back to the Doctor only to see him CRINGE as he examined the tonsils and say
“They are VERY infected” then look at me like I was the worst mother in the world, write a new prescription and say firmly “complete the course” as if I was deliberately neglectful. I eventually found a way to get him to take his medicine (wrapped up in a towel like a cat) but it took a bit longer for me to realise that our kids do not know how to “act sick”
Everybody has a different pain threshold, and Autistic people feel pain to the same degree as anyone else. But they can be incredibly stoic and they need to be taught, step by step to ‘act” like they are in pain.
You can observe this regularly when flu goes through your house. Mums will grab a box of tissues, take a decongestant and get on with all the chores they usually do. Whereas men tend to develop the dreaded “man-flu” and take to their beds or the couch where we must bring them things until they recover. Acting sick when you are sick gets you attention and help. Not acting sick means you often get sicker. So we have to teach our kids with autism that it is rewarding to tell us when they are in pain.
You must do this in context, when they are actually feeling pain. For ethical reasons you have to wait until they trip over or get a bump that you know is painful.
DO NOT TRIP THEM OVER ON PURPOSE! Okay?
When they do, you go and comfort them immediately with a hug while pointing to the place that hurts. Say clearly “Sore knee” or “Sore Elbow, owie!
This works really well with kids that are able to imitate speech. I did this with my son Liam who learned very quickly to repeat what I said, and to tell me whenever he was hurt. In fact Liam will demand an ambulance if he gets a hangnail. I encourage this because I know when he gets a tummy ache or an ear ache, he can tell me and we can go and see the Doctor before it gets worse.
For non-speaking kids it is much harder. My daughter was a picture communicator from an early age and I struggled with teaching her to tell me when she was hurt using the same steps, so I made a visual “pain chart” with pecs pictures. As I said, you have to do this IN CONTEXT, when she actually feels the hurt. and the pain chart was a laminated A4 page with slightly gross pictures of body parts, too big to carry around. So, when she did get hurt I had to make a choice, do I run and comfort my daughter or do I try and find where I left the stupid pain chart?
Gracie had a lot of anxiety and behavioural issues as a result of her autism. But sometimes I wondered whether it wasn’t just “autism” but a real pain like a toothache or earache. I had no way of knowing and it really tormented me. Until I created Grace App.
Because, while you may have left the picture cards in a drawer at home, you always have your phone, so I made sure during the development of Grace App to include a section called “My Body”
When the pain happens, I grab the phone and select “My Body” Hand over Hand so the child is selecting the category picture with you
Then prompt them to choose “Sore”and “knee”
And give them a lot of care and attention around that poor sore knee. Saying “Sore Knee” and pointing to the pictures and the actual knee, a lot.
In a separate exercise; (when they are no longer in pain) you teach all the other body parts using flashcards or standard picture exchange requests.
How do you request a body part? Try using our friend Mr Potato Head as a 3D teaching tool.
Set up a mirror and the potato man and keep hold of the body parts. They can request “I want nose” and “I want eyes” using the phone.
At the same time do a little “show me your eyes” and prompt a nice point at eyes looking in the mirror together. So it is real, not abstract.
They will associate the picture of “eyes” on the phone with their eyes.
We often play drawing games on the iPad (or use a piece of paper and some coloured markers)
Gracie requests a favourite Muppet using her App. I prompt her to ask for each part by colour and then draw it for her. At the same time I get her to point at her own body parts and name them.
In school they make puzzles of her favourite characters and she requests each piece using the app. It is a great way to keep her interest while making sure she learns in context.
Being able to describe pain and get relief is a basic human right. Unfortunately we do not prioritise it enough for the non-speaking and our health services need to address this. My goal is to make this easier, so that everyone regardless of whether they have a voice or not, is able to say how they feel.
Lisa Domican is a mother of two autistic teenagers. An excellent communicator herself, she saw the importance of giving the power of communication to others who needed it and set about creating the Grace App in early 2010, she has since set up her own company to promote and expand it. According to Lisa ‘My goal is to engage and inform as many educators, therapists, parents, carers and service providers about the importance of independent expression. Everyone should have the right to say what they want. My aim is for them to get it! You can find more of her writing at her Living with Autism Blog.