Doxie Portable Scanner Mini-Review

December 28, 2012

I received the Doxie Go portable scanner (with EyeFi Wi-Fi SD Card) for Christmas and here’s my quick review.

I wanted a scanner for scanning in receipts and documents for printing and archiving, and the occasional photos. I also wanted something that was easy to use with my iMac desktop system. In the past I’ve been using an 3-in-one HP scanner/printer combo but using it wirelessly with my iMac is a real pain after Apple came out with the latest Mountain Lion OS update.

It seems that the Doxie Go portable scanner will do the trick. It’s relatively compact and can scan color images at 300 dpi and 600 dpi, and does so very quickly (much quicker than my HP scanner/printer!). It takes about 8 seconds to warm up, then it’s ready to accept 8-1/2″ wide documents for scanning. It has a built-in rechargeable battery and it stores scanned images in its internal flash storage or on an inserted SD card, so it can be completely portable and doesn’t require a computer to operate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Constant Windows Updates!

December 26, 2012

One think I hated about using a Microsoft Windows PC is the contant updates you needed to install. It seemed that every week you had to install 1 or more updates for security or for updating some Windows component on your system. More often than not, you needed to do a full reboot of your system after installing such updates. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t see updates for my iMac, but they are much more infrequent and in most cases it doesn’t require a system reboot.

I bring this up because whenever I start up my Windows 7 desktop machine to convert a video file (using Handbrake) or search for a pdf file or document I’m always asked to install some kind of Windows Update. Almost every time– never fails. Man, I’m glad I’m using an iMac as my main desktop computer system!


Short Films on YouTube

December 26, 2012

imgresIt seems that with low-cost computer technology and a little bit of creativity, people  can make some really good independent films. Some are really low-budget yet the creators can product near-Hollywood quality movies. One subculture are the “Fan-Based Films” which are written, acted, filmed, and produced by fans themselves. For example, there’s several Star Trek-based and Star Wars-based fan films available on the Internet. For the most part, these fan-based films are really cheeezy with horrible stories and very poor performances by non-actors. One such fan-based production is Star Trek: Phase II, which started out as truly a “fan production” with horrible acting, however, over time each film/episode has improved dramatically. Definitely worth watching to see the amount of effort that is put into these productions.

There’a also some really great Independent films which I imagine are created by upcoming directors, actors, and producers on a shoestring budget. For example, below are some really good films you can check out on the Internet:

L5 (2912) – Excellent Sci-Fi short film with great sets, special effects, and good acting. The film is very high-quality overall, and in a lot of cases better than some TV Shows today. Very, very good film and I hope this group continues with more online episodes to continue the story.

1945A – This is one of my favorite Sci-Fi short films made on a $2000 budget. Very good acting and excellent special effects.

Best Sci-Fi Short Films – Here’s a web link to several very good short stories made in film format. Excellent filming, acting, etc. Definitely worth checking out to view some creative filming.


Apple iPod Nano Mini-Review

December 25, 2012

One of my Christmas gifts this year is the new 2012 Apple iPod Nano (7th Generation), so here’s my mini-review after playing around with it for a few hours. First, this media player looks almost exactly like a miniature version of the new Apple iPhone 5; being retangular in shape with a touch screen that takes up much of the front surface of the device with a round “home” button at the bottom center. This iPod Nano is much smaller than what you might imagine based on photos (actually, close to the height of a credit card but about 3/4th the width). On a full charge the advertised battery life is about 3 hours for music playing.

This model syncs with iTunes on my iMac Desktop computer, where all my existing music is easily transferred to the iPod. You can also sync videos, audio books, and audio podcasts if you like (all of which should be organized in iTunes on your Mac/PC system).

The power/sync connector is the newest “Lightning” connector which is standard for the new iPhone 5 and iPad 3 devices. The iPod Nano also comes with the new “Earpods” earphones (which doesn’t have a built-in volume/skip control or microphone). So far as apps, there’s a Nike Fitness app for tracking running, a clock/timer app, and the iPod also has a FM Radio app. Note, the iPod Nano has bluetooth but doesn’t have traditional WiFi capability.

Normally I use my HTC EVO LTE for streaming my music (via Google Music and Pandora) and podcasts via Podkicker while driving in my car (which has the Ford Sync option), but I plan to use this iPod Nano when I work out at the gym or when I’m in a situation where I don’t want to risk damaging my EVO smartphone.

My biggest concern is losing this device, since it’s so tiny! But having the earpods tethered to the iPod Nano will make it easier to keep track of the small device.


Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 24, 2012

It’s Christmas eve, and I just finished baking a batch of cookies so my son can leave one out tonight as a snack for hard-working Santa. In a few hours my son will be asleep, and my wife and I will act as “Santa’s Helpers” to bring out our son’s big gift (a Playstation Vita handheld game). Tomorrow will be a relaxing and fun filled day of eating hot muffins, drinking coffee, watching our son rip into his presents, and taking lots of pictures. Later that evening, we’ll have a delicious pot roast dinner with homemade mud pie for dessert. Can’t get any better than that for Christmas day!

Hope everyone gets what they wished for, and have a safe and wonderful Christmas.


Recommended Android Apps

December 22, 2012

imgresHere’s my list of recently Android apps which I’ve installed on my various Android devices, which I think are cool:

Any.DO – For the last year I’ve been using an Android app called Wunderlist which has worked great for my needs. I have it running on my Android smartphone and tablets, as well as companion app running on my iMac desktop system. There’s also a Web interface you can use online when you don’t have or want to pull out your phone or tablet. But, recently I came across something that seems cleaner and better meets my needs– an app called Any.DO.

With this app you can specify different “folders” or lists and associate items to that list. You can easily add items to your list (and have an option to do so using voice texting), and cross them off by simply sliding your finger across the item. List items can be moved around via drag-n-drop, and you can easily move an item from one list to another. Like with Wunderlist, you can also share lists with other people. What I especially like, is the Chrome Browser extension that’s available that allows me to access my synced lists directly from my browser. Very, very cool!

Any.DO is a free app with no ads, so I highly recommend it if you like using lists to stay organized and want something that will easily sync between your Android, iOS, and Desktop devices.

Cozy Magnifier – This is an Android app that will use a smartphone’s camera to magnify whatever you put in viewing range. I use it for reading very small print (being over 40, your eyes start failing) and it has lots of cool features like pinch-n-zoom and the ability to turn on the camera’s light. At 99 cents, it is a bargain and lifesaver!

Flipboard – This app has been on the iOS scene for quite a while, and it finally made it to the Android platform. Flipboard is a news aggregate which combines news articles on various chosen topics on your device. It has a cool flip page feature where you can swipe right-to-left to switch pages. This app works great on my EVO LTE smartphone as well as my Android 7″ and 10″ tablets. It displays lots and lots of news articles that get updated daily (or even hourly). It’s free, and I highly recommend it.


Outlook.com – The new Gmail?

December 16, 2012

Screenshot 2012-12-16 at 12.39.55 PMMicrosoft has quietly introduced the cloud based system called outlook.com, which is basically designed to compete with Google’s Gmail online system. As it turns out, it seems that outlook.com isn’t really new, but rather a renamed version of Microsoft’s Hotmail online product. In the user community, the Hotmail name has a negative connotation and as such it doesn’t surprise anyone that Microsoft chose to rename it as Outlook.com since almost everyone in the business world uses Outlook as their main productivity application.

Since getting an account with Outlook.com is free, I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. First, the email interface was very user friendly and clean. It sports the new “metro” look that Microsoft is moving towards with their phones, tablets, and PC operating systems. What’s especially nice for Android users, is that you can access your Outlook.com email as a Microsoft Exchange Server and get push email (like you can do with Gmail).

Outlook.com also has a calendar system that’s comparable to Google Calendar (and through Exchange you can sync your calendar events also with your Android device). The ecosystem is also tied to Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which allows you to create and edit Word/Excel/Powerpoint documents. I was particularly impressed with how well the online version of Excel worked in a browser, much better than Google’s Sheets.

So will I switch from Google Gmail and Calendar over to Outlook.com’s– the jury is still out. I haven’t decided to go through the steps of making the conversion, but I will keep an eye on Microsoft’s new system just in case it has some new features I can’t live without!