Another Successful Oscar Party

Thank you Steve Greenberg and Williams Lucena for a wonderful Academy Awards party. The company was great, the food was delicious and the prizes were outrageous. Some of us went home with all kinds of gadgets that only the Innovation Insider could provide:  adjustable reading glasses, laptop trays with fans to cool off your computer, cell phone cases,  wireless speakers, and fitness monitors. Who could ask for anything more? 





Robin Raskin

I tried to write this piece about Robin Raskin, CEO and Founder of Living In Digital Times, many times. There were just too many facets to this Wonder Woman. I didn’t know where to start. I’m also not sure I know where to end. Robin’s personal and work life just keeps changing for the better all the time. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have difficult challenges too, it’s just that she chooses to focus on the brighter side of things.

Kayaking in Key West


Kayaking in Hudson Valley


Robin has the type of personality that can figure out a way to take advantage of opportunities. She admits she got her positive energy from her late father, a lawyer, who would shake her hand every morning and say, “Shake it off. Shake off everything that bothered you yesterday and start fresh today.” 

Those handshakes gave Robin the impetus to be one of the major reasons why CES is wildly successful today. Approximately five years ago, she noticed that a number of the big manufacturers were pulling out of CES because of various reasons.

Robin asked Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, if she could sell some of the unclaimed exhibit space to emerging and innovative technology companies in various fields that CES never went after before. Robin wanted the newbies to be grouped in categories on the show floor.

After Gary said yes, she started with Kids@play and then expanded to  
Digital Health Summit, Digital Money Forum, FitnessTech, Baby Tech, Family Tech Summit, TransformingEDU, MommyTech TV, Beauty Tech, Wearables and FashionWare runway show, Mobile Apps Showdown, Last Gadget Standing, Robots on the Runway and the KAPi Awards. 

Today, Robin’s company is responsible for 80,000 square feet of exhibit space at CES. The most amazing thing is that Robin’s vision has had a huge rub-off on CES in general. The show is now known as one of the biggest innovative exhibitions in the world. In fact, the parent company, changed its name from the Consumer Electronics Association to Consumer Technology  Association. 

Outdoor activities are a great escape for Robin.


Not many people know this but Robin was a rock n roll groupie. She, and her then boyfriend, travelled with the Rolling Stones and Elton John.

Robin has had a rich history in technology. She began writing about tech in the 1980s when she was raising her three kids. At first no one would hire her because of her lack of experience. Then after sending a few editors free and unsolicited articles about how technology was going to empower women forever, she secured a gig as a frequent contributor to Family Computing. She later became a contributor to PC Magazine and finally Senior Editor at PC Magazine. She then went on to become Editor in Chief of FamilyPC Magazine.  

Robin and her adoring husband

Robin is a true pioneer in the CE business. She will definitely be written up in the history books. She is the kind of gal who is ageless and has worlds yet to conquer.

Her advice to seniors who want to work. “Try to start something on your own. That’s the best way to be a part of the work force. Once you get the engine going, people will look at you for your current accomplishments rather than your age. If you want it, you can do it.” 

Blurring Out YouTube Videos


I love YouTube. I love learning new things about this amazing video platform. I was astonished to learn that, as of the other day, I can now blur out moving objects, as well as people, on my videos. 

This is huge news for people like me who are always getting nudged by others to edit out of my shoots some private items, such as notes, signs, and paintings. 

I’m very happy that I can still keep my original videos and now add the edited videos to my channel mix. If I promise someone that I will eliminate the original one, I will do so. YouTube has now given me lots of options.

One catch. Google, the owners of YouTube, are only offering the “blur out” capable feature on desktops. Smartphones will be made capable in a few months.  

If you want a detailed description on how to make the necessary edit, read the CNET story.

Good Neighbors, Great Authors

We are fortunate to have Trisha and Gerald Posner as our neighbors, South of Fifth, in South Beach. They are NY Times best selling authors with exciting news. Both Gerald and Trisha just received new book deals with fantastic publishing houses. 

I was thrilled to be a part of the announcement process. It used to be the power of the pen. Now it’s the power of emails and texts. I have learned to take the art of the spoken word and turn it into a powerful digital pitch. 

Now I get to watch this happily married couple work together on some days and separately on others. I may even get to help in the research.


 My favorite digital sign for today.


Wi-Fi Challenges 

I used to think that I was the only one with Wi-Fi problems. No one ever complained about their connection to  me. It didn’t matter if I was home, at someone else’s house, a restaurant, or a hotel, the Wi-Fi was always faulty. 

I have to admit that my wireless connections at home have been much better in the last year or two. That’s  because we have boosters all over the place. I don’t want to be reminded of all of the aggravation I went through to finally be able to work without interruption. 

Much to my surprise, other folks have been suffering too. They just didn’t want to admit it. The reason why I finally know is because leading tech journalists are celebrating the birth of Eero, a new system that uses mesh-networking technology to cover every inch of a home. The writers finally admitted their wireless frustrations. 

Both Re/code and Mashable did extensive stories on this new breakthough. All you have to do is click here for Re/code and here for Mashable.

And now in Miami Beach….

  Photos by Eliot Hess 

Miami Beach unveiled four new lifeguard stands this week. They are spread out from South Pointe Drive to 87th St. These lifeguard stations are considered landmarks. That’s why this is big news.

Eliot and I took a long walk on the beach yesterday to see one of the new structures. We found one on 4th St. Pretty, isn’t it? 

It was a gorgeous day at the beach.

Then we came across these birds in formation, kind of like Beyoncé’s half-time performance at the Super Bowl. 

This is a side view


This is a front shot.

That’s all for now.

A Bit Of This And That 




Cousins Irene and Allen came to visit us in Miami


Bill and Melinda Gates on Jimmy Fallon announcing Gates Notes. 

The blog of Bill Gates …. Become a Gates Notes Insider for access to exclusive content and personalized reading.

Click here to find out about this new communications newsletter. 





Cruise Lines Offer Combo Vacations + Volunteering  


Image provided by PR Newswire

I picked this story off of PR Newswire, a news agency that distributes electronic press releases. If you don’t have a PR agency and you do have $1,500 plus to spare, PR Newswire will do the work for you.

I have the agency’s app and can basically read everything that is issued. I was perusing the service today and came across a story that I thought would interest you. 

The beauty of spelling it out to you is that I’m allowed to use the press release in its entirety right on my blog. Companies that issue press releases love you to use their words.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details but I think it’s important for people our age to know that cruise ships are combining vacations with volunteering. There are many people in our demographic that feel that life is not complete unless you are helping others. 

Michelle Sutter is a long-time volunteer in such activities as mentoring single mother refugees from Africa and now a staffer for the new social impact-focused cruise line Fathom from Carnival Corporation. “Fun is an understatement. The experience of volunteering feeds your soul.”

Straight from the press reiease…

“Fathom is a cruise line created specifically for people who love to travel and want to make a difference in the world. On the 704-passenger Adonia, set to debut on cruises from Miami to the Dominican Republic in April, passengers will have opportunity to spend up to three days helping locals. And starting May 1, Carnival Corporation is planning to launch Fathom cruises to Cuba with guests participating in specially designed cultural exchange activities.

“Included are on-the-ship seminars and organized experiences on land. In the Dominican Republic, for instance, Fathom travelers will volunteer to teach conversational English to kids in nearby schools, assist local entrepreneurs at, for instance, a chocolate cooperative, and make water filters out of locally sourced clay and other materials, help with forestation projects and participate in other one-on-one activities – with time, if a traveler chooses, to spend on the beach or in cultural pursuits.”

Seabourn offers tours of  “UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the World of Gaudi (including Sagrada Familia Cathedral) in Barcelona, and the line will make a small donation on your behalf to the UNESCO World Heritage Fund.

“In Germany, AIDA Cruises passengers can participate in New Year’s Eve fundraising raffles to raise money for the German-based SOS Children’s Villages, in support of refugee and disaster relief. Through the non-profit Association of AIDA Friends of the Ocean, guests and cruise line employees also have opportunity to assist environmental and marine conservation efforts including beach cleanups.

“The “Born to Knit” program on P&O Cruises Australia ships encourages socializing as a group while they knit blankets for newborn babies on the island nation of Vanuatu, one of the destinations the line’s ships visit. For $10, passengers can purchase a knitting kit and instructions. Hundreds of blankets have been completed and donated to the maternity ward of the Vila Central Hospital in Port Vila, Vanuatu.”

There are other options. Read the entire press reiease here

Stella Austi Gutenplan 

Stella Austi Gutenplan

I wrote the following story for a group on Facebook that is dedicated to paying tribute to the pioneers of the consumer electronics industry.

The one woman who is not mentioned often enough is Stella Austi. She was one of the top executives at the famous, but now defunct, Stereo Warehouse of New York City and Rabsons Audio Video. It’s difficult and upsetting to believe that she died 10 years ago. She was a 35-year industry veteran.

While most women were afraid to enter the work force, or felt they couldn’t compete with male counterparts, Stella was building a thriving retail business in the consumer electronics industry. Marty Gutenplan, the owner of the entire company, would often tell me she was the reason he was so successful. 

In fact, when Marty recommended Donna Austi, as a future account executive at my agency, HWH PR, he said , “If Donna contributes 10 per cent of what her mother did for me, your business will forever thrive.” Donna went on to work at HWH PR for 12 years. She now does specialty PR work for the Consumer Technology Association. 

Donna and her daughter Alex

Her brother Paul, owns Audio Video Crafts, the super successful custom installer to the stars.

Paul Austi and Eli Manning

Stella was a single mother raising two children, but no one ever thought of her as anything but a highly-spirited and serious career woman.

She started at a low level administration job at Stereo Warehouse and rose to the top. It wasn’t till late in her career that she ended up marrying Marty. After working side-by-side with him for many years, they found romance. He told me a number of times that they were both as surprised to realize their attraction to each other as the rest of the industry was to learn about it. 

Franklin Karp, Marty’s son-in-law, and now COO at the prestigious and highly-regarded Audio Video Systems, said, “Without peer, Stella was the most astute consumer electronics retail buyers in the United States. She understood the need for the most popular inventory, at the best possible pricing, better than most. She negotiated till she got the best deal. Everyone was in awe of her. The CE manufacturers and reps loved her even though they knew she would get what she wanted.”

Franklin worked at Stereo Warehouse for 19 years before he went on to become President /CEO of Harvey Electronics. 

“There is no question about it. I learned a tremendous amount from working with Stella. Many people did. Those were great years watching Dave Pardo, buyer at Crazy Eddie, compete against Stella, and vice versa. Those were the true days of entrepreneurship.”

I was lucky enough to witness those days. I sure miss them. 

Not Your Parents Miami Beach  

Just another day in South Beach. Fashion models from all of the agencies came out in droves to play quasi naked volleyball. The official name was Miami Model Volleyball Tournament. It was a photo opportunity dream. 


Personal Workouts Without A Gym

I’m going to take this workout app, called Sworkit, very seriously. I have been looking for something to get me started in the comfort of my home. I heard about it tonight on Shark Tank and immediately downloaded it. Shark Mark Cuban invested $1.5  million in the app that offers five to 60 minutes workouts in strength, cardio, yoga and stretching. Video trainers tell you exactly what to do!  I’m starting in the AM. For the first time, I feel I have a choice of the type of exercise I need and the time I want to devote to it. Good luck to me.