Spring Cleaning: How to Clean Your Gadgets

How to Clean Your Gadgets

Spring is in the air! It’s time to wipe away the dust of winter and refresh your tech. While you’re likely thinking of a few big projects to clean, you may be overlooking some of the most important tasks right under your nose, tasks that should be done on a regular basis.

According to research by the Wall Street Journal, the average smartphone is teeming with bacteria. The same goes for tablets, computer keyboards and mice, gaming controllers, TV remote controls and headphones or ear buds. Yikes! Read on to learn how to safely and quickly clean your gadgets.

Clean the Screen

The best way to clean the screen on any gadget, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, computer monitors and even TVs, is to use a soft lint-free or microfiber cloth. Don’t use paper towels; they can leave unsightly scratches. You also want to avoid harsh chemicals or window cleaners, and never spray anything directly onto the screen, as some devices have a special coating that could get wiped away. If your screen is covered with fingerprints from the kids, create a mixture of 50/50 distilled water and white vinegar, dampen a soft cloth and gently wipe the screen.

Headphone Sockets and Speaker Grilles

As you may have noticed, every little nook and cranny on your device eventually builds a nice collection of gunk. To clean the headphone sockets, ports and speaker grilles, use a keyboard vacuum with a brush attachment to stir up and remove any dirt. Don’t use a regular vacuum, as it has too much suction and could damage your gadgets.

While it may be tempting to use spray air, this could blow dirt into the device and cause damage. If you accidentally blew dust into a headphone socket, it could block the micro switch that lets the device know when headphones are plugged in. Additionally, some manufacturers place water sensors near the headphone socket, and blowing air could push moisture onto the sensor and void your warranty. Remember to power off your devices before cleaning!

Headphones and Earbuds

Over time, headphones and earbuds accumulate a collection of dust, sweat and earwax. To keep them clean, add a little mild dish detergent to a bowl of warm water. Then slightly dampen a cloth and wipe down the headset. If your headphones have removable covers, take them off and use an old toothbrush to give them a good clean. If your earbuds are really gunky, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean them.

Keyboards and Mice

First, power off your keyboard and mouse before cleaning. To clean the keyboard, first turn it over and bang it lightly on your desk a few times to remove crumbs, dirt and dust. Then blow some compressed air between the keys to get rid of stubborn dirt. If the keys themselves are dirty, use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to remove dirt and oil. To clean your mouse, turn it over and clean the rubber pads with a dampened cotton swab. To clean the buttons, use the same process you used to clean the keyboard.

Gaming Controllers and Remote Controls

These can be cleaned in much the same way as you’d clean your mouse. Use a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol, making sure to remove oil and grime from thumb sticks and buttons. As always, power these devices off or remove their batteries before cleaning.

If you follow these tips, your gadgets should now be squeaky clean, relatively germ-free and perhaps even more durable. To keep them that way, remember to add “clean gadgets” to the top of your spring cleaning checklist. Of course, now that you know exactly how dirty your smartphone and other gadgets can get, you’ll probably be doing it more often than once a year.

Do you have a particular routine for cleaning your gadgets? If so, leave us a note in the comments section!

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National Nutrition Month: Apps to Help Keep your Health on Track

National Nutrition App

March is National Nutrition Month, and it’s the perfect time to focus on leading a healthy lifestyle, particularly when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Unfortunately, the average diet in America includes way too many foods that may taste great but are bad for your health and your waistline. According to the American Heart Association, nearly 70% of American adult and more than 30% of American children are either overweight or obese. It’s time we use technology to help us make better choices, and in recognition of National Nutrition Month 2015, we have put together a list of five apps that can help you achieve a healthy lifestyle. Read on to find some popular health tracking apps.

1. Coach Alba

If you’re watching what you eat, you probably find yourself wishing for treats you’re supposed to be avoiding. Coach Alba is a text messaging app that can help you get through those moments of temptation when you find yourself standing in front of the freezer at midnight with a pint of rocky road in your hand. You can customize the service to text you at certain times, or you can text Coach Alba at any time for a little diet encouragement. This app is available to anyone who has an SMS-enabled phone or smartphone.

2. Fooducate

Did you know that a barcode can tell you more about a food’s nutritional value than a food label? With Fooducate, you can scan a barcode and find out the quality of calories in the food. The app will also give you a list of similar, but healthier products to help you make good choices at the grocery store. You can also use Fooducate to track your calorie intake and exercise. This app is available on iOS and Android, so it runs on almost every smartphone and tablet.

3. Lose It

If you’re trying to lose weight, Lose It helps you log exercise and count calories. It’s especially useful if you eat a lot of packaged foods. This app has been around for a long time and has a large community of users, many of whom are happy to jump in with encouragement when needed. It’s also compatible with many other fitness apps and devices such as the Fitbit line of trackers, Runkeeper, Jawbone UP and MapMyFitness so that you can import your data quickly and easily. This app is available on iOS and Android.

4. Argus

If you’re looking for an all-purpose health tracking app, Argus may be the one for you. This app tracks everything, all the time. Argus continually processes your routine, tracking every step you take, the length of your stride, everything you eat, your sleep patterns and much more. It then produces informative charts so you can do a data dive and figure out what you need to do to reach your nutrition and health goals. This app is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

5. CarrotFit

Not everyone responds to the cheer leading type of encouragement. If you find you’re more motivated by bribes, threats and even ridicule, CarrotFit may be the tracker for you. This app is a “judgmental” weight tracker that’s simple to use. It makes use of motivational sarcasm and bribery to motivate you to get up and exercise, and you’re rewarded with new workout tips for every pound you lose. This app is currently only available on iOS.

Regardless of whether you need to lose weight, exercise more or improve your overall health, there are plenty of health tracking apps available to help you reach your goals. Why not use National Nutrition Month as inspiration to start on your journey to a healthier you?

Do you have a favorite health tracking app? If so, we’d love to hear about why you like it and how well it’s worked for you! If not, tell us which app you will plan on trying or why this isn’t a solution for you and you could win a FitBit fitness tracker! We’ll choose a winner from all eligible comments.

Click here to read the Official Rules.

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Women’s History Month: Celebrating Inspiring Women in Tech 2015

women's history month: celebrating inspiring women in tech 2015
March is National Women’s History Month, a time when we celebrate female empowerment, pay tribute to some of the inspirational women in history and recognize today’s most influential female figures. This is an exciting time in tech because there are more women innovating in major areas of the industry including computing , mobile and  gaming. Read on to help us celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing some of the most inspiring women in tech for 2015.

1. Danae Ringlemann, Co-founder of Indiegogo

Danae began her career in finance, primarily keeping tabs on entertainment businesses such as Lionsgate and Pixar. However, she noticed that independent filmmakers, artists and theater productions experienced a lot of problems finding investors to fund their ideas.She also spent her childhood watching her parents struggle to find capital to keep their small business afloat, and these factors inspired Danae to come up with the concept for Indiegogo. A platform where anyone can raise money for a project or idea. Indiegogo has hosted more than 250,000 campaigns in over 220 countries and territories, and its name has become synonymous with crowdfunding.

2. Grace Woo, Founder of Pixels.io

Grace is another who will go down in the books as a successful woman in history. She developed video response codes, a technology that uses VR codes (a more useful version of a QR code) to turn any screen into an offline interactive experience. These codes are transmitted into the light emitted from a screen, and that enables them to be embedded into any digital surface and send information regardless of whether the device is online or not.

3. Genevieve Bell, VP of User Experience Research at Intel

For the past 15 years, Australian anthropologist Genevieve has been leading a team of 100 researchers, designers and scientists at Intel who spend their time studying how technology is used in the real world, by real people. Her findings help make sure Intel’s product development process is heading in the right direction, and are often shared with companies that use Intel processors in their products. Bell is an Intel fellow, which is the highest technical rank in the company. She holds numerous patents for consumer electronics innovations, and the author of numerous articles and papers. She is a highly respected industry expert and in-demand speaker on the topic of intersection of technology and culture.

4. Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer at Cisco

Padmasree’s career in technology began on a whim when she filled out an application for Motorola to kill time while waiting for a friend at a job fair. She then worked her way up through the Motorola ranks to CTO and moved to Cisco a few years ago. She now spends her time identifying technologies Cisco should invest in and companies it should acquire, such as the recent acquisition of cloud collaboration startup Assemblage, and private cloud provider, Metacloud.

5. Danika Laszuk, VP of Marketing at Jawbone

If you have been an iPhone fan since its first release, it may be because of Danika. She designed the original marketing campaigns that made the smartphone so popular. However, in 2011 she left Apple behind and started working at Jawbone, a company that makes smart gadgets such as wristbands and Bluetooth speakers. The biggest seller is the UP24, a wristband that helps to improve your way of life by tracking everything from your sleep patterns to exercise and calorie intake.

Every one of these ladies will be remembered as successful women in history as they pave the way for future generations of women in technology. Have you found inspiration from a successful woman, either past or present? If so, please share your story in the comments section below.

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CowBoom Jack-o’-Lantern #JackoBoomContest

DealCow Says… Boo! In celebration of Halloween CowBoom is hosting a jack-o’-lantern contest! Put your pumpkin carving skills to use and you could win a $75, $175 or $250 Best Buy® Gift Card!


Share your original jack-o’-lantern creation including  the special hashtag #JackoBoomContest on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram starting today October 3, 2014 through October 30, 2014 at 2 p.m. CDT. Entries to the #JackoBoomContest will be judged on originality/creativity (50%), overall appeal (30%) and level of difficulty (20%). Three winners will be announced shortly thereafter.

In addition to the judging criteria above, follow these submission requirements to ensure your photo will be eligible to win:

  • Don’t submit someone else’s photo from the web (we’ll be checking!). Photo must be your own original work.
  • Don’t include the names, trademarks, logos or slogans or images of any 3rd parties (companies, movies, cartoon characters, etc.)
  • Meet all photo requirements provided in the Official Rules.

We look forward to seeing what creations our CowBoomers come up with! Happy Halloween!


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What Cable do I Need?

When purchasing a pre-owned device you may find yourself in a situation where you’ll need a cable to connect. With all of the devices on the market, it can get pretty confusing as to what will work for your item. Check out this quick guide to find out what type of cable you need to get connected and enjoy your like-new gadget.

HDMI_HDMI – All  HDTV’s have an HDMI or High-Definition Multimedia Interface connection. This port gives you the ability to enjoy the highest quality connection available. Keep in mind that if you’re trying to connect your HDTV and laptop you will likely need an adapter to complete the process as many laptops do not have an HDMI port. Instead, they have connect via a DVI port.

DISPLAY_DISPLAY PORT/HDMI – This adapter delivers 1080p from your laptop to your HDTV. This port was originally developed by Apple but now also comes on various PC laptops.



DVID_HDMI_DVI-D to HDMI –  Connect HDMI enabled home theater components such as your Apple TV, DVD player/recoder, HD cable/satellite box and gaming console to the DVI port of your AV receiver or HDTV. It can also connect your DVI-enabled components to the HDMI port of your AV receiver or HDTV. You will need a separate audio cable unless you get the DVI-I to HDMI which supports both audio and video.


DVI_VGA_DVI to VGA – This adapter is typically used to connect an older computer monitor with  a PC. It is also commonly used to connect projectors as well as to set up dual monitors.



OPT_DIGITAL OPTICAL CABLE – When an  HDMI connection isn’t available, an optical cable is a good alternative. Almost all HDTV’s have an optical jack to send Dolby Digital audio to your receiver. Optical jacks are also found on CD Players, cable/satellite boxes, DVD players and home theater receivers.


S_VID_S-VIDEO CABLE – The separate video cable transmits the black and white coloring signals separately to achieve better image quality. These cables can connect to many devices including TV’s, camcorders, computers and DVD recorders. Keep in mind you will need a separate audio cable if you want sound.


Click here to shop for incredibly great deals on cables and adapters. Please leave any questions in the comments below!


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#HappyDealCow Sweepstakes

DealCow Says… Don’t Worry, Be Happy! This fall we’re celebrating what makes you happy. DealCow style! Snap a pic of your CowBoom DealCow doing what makes you happy. Hanging with friends, riding roller coasters, afternoon tea. Whatever it is that makes YOU happy!

The CowBoom DealCows have roamed far and wide. You may have received one in your recent CowBoom order, or perhaps you won a DealCow from one of our previous giveaways. If not, you can download our Digital DealCow here.

Enter the CowBoom #HappyDealCow Sweepstakes through September 30, 2014 for a chance to win 1 of 3 $150 Best Buy Gift Cards. Submit a photo of  “What Makes You Happy” including your DealCow in the photo and a caption with the hashtag #HappyDealCow. To enter through Instagram or Twitter upload your photo, tag us at @CowBoom and use the same hashtag. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Click here to read the official rules.

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Summertime Sweepstakes 2014

403x403-AnnounceSummer is finally here! Nothing beats some R&R on a beautiful summer day. Except maybe enjoying it with some awesome new gadgets! We’ve partnered with our friends from SlickDeals to give one lucky CowBoomer a summertime prize pack! Enter to win a 16GB iPod Nano 5th Gen Mp3 Player, Beats by Dre Headphones, an Amazon Kindle and Nikon CoolPix Camera by liking CowBoom on Facebook and filling out the registration form and/or following @CowBoom on Twitter and Retweeting our Sweepstakes tweet. It’s that simple! We’ll announce the winner on or about 8/1.

Click here to read the official rules.

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Save the Date! Earth Day Twitter Party 2014

Twitter-Party-EarthDayDealCow Says… Save the Date! In celebration of Earth Day we’re hosting a special Twitter Party! We’ll be playing a fun game of eco trivia. Plus we’ll have earth friendly tips and of course an array of fabulous prizes! The grand prize trivia winner will receive a 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD! We’ll also have other fun items up for grabs including DealCows and CowBoom Cash! Simply follow @CowBoom on Twitter and join us at 4 p.m. CT on 4/22 and be ready to party!

Click here to read the Official Rules.

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CowBoom and the Heartbleed Bug

hearbleedAs news continues to spread about the Heartbleed bug we wanted to take a moment to explain what it is and how it relates to your experience using CowBoom.

The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness compromised the security of private information across the internet. You can learn more about the bug directly from the Heartbleed website.

CowBoom took action immediately after learning about the potential vulnerability and there is no evidence to date that any information was exploited during this time. While there is no threat to your security on CowBoom, we recommend changing your password. Changing your password every 90 days is widely considered an industry best practice and a good precautionary measure in times like these. Your privacy is always a top priority and we perform regular security audits to ensure that your information is safe.

Your feedback is important to us. Please let us know if you have any questions we can help answer.

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Earth Day Giveaway 2014

403x403-EarthDay-AnnounceIt’s CowBoom’s most favorite time of the year! April 22 is Earth Day but don’t let that stop you from celebrating our fine planet all year long! One of the best ways we can protect our earth from unnecessary waste and production is by reusing things. Either finding new uses for items we already own or by reusing something that someone else no longer wants or needs. It’s no surprise that we celebrate this fact considering we sold 45 tons of pre-owned and refurbished electronics in 2013! That’s the equivalent of 283,500 garbage trucks full of trash! Don’t forget that somebody’s trash is likely someone else’s treasure the next time you upgrade your smart phone or tablet. There’s someone else out there that will value it! Anytime you’re ready to upgrade check out Best Buy’s Trade In program for awesome savings towards your next purchase at Best Buy. And now for the goods! We’re giving away one Pre-Loved 32GB Samsung Galaxy Note in celebration of Earth Day. Simply click over to CowBoom’s Facebook Page and enter or Re-Tweet our Giveaway Tweet on Twitter! Remember, we all have a part in making our earth a place we’ll want to live and for our future generations. Let’s keep it clean. Happy Earth Day!


Click here to read the Official Rules.

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