The Anti-Smartwatch Approach

September 6, 2014

The big electronic trend now seems to be “Smart Watches”, which are usually running the Android operating system. These smart watches appear to be an extension of their smartphone counterparts, in fact, in most cases you NEED a smartphone to make full use of these smart watches. A whole slew of these new smart watches were revealed earlier this week by Motorola, Samsung, LG, and ASUS at a tech conference; all of them had one thing in common: they are really BIG!

From the photos I’ve seen, all of these watches are ridiculously large for even the largest man’s wrist. They look like miniature smartphones, which in fact they practically are. Being a geek I considered getting such a smart watch, but I came to the conclusion that such devices are too costly, unnecessary, and obtrusive. Also, they need to be charged at least once a day (in fact, the “Moto 360” watch has been noted by some early adopters needing to be charged twice a day!).

Because I was in the market for getting a new wrist watch, I decided to go in the opposite direction. Bucking the system, I opted to go with a watch that was not digital. In fact, the watch I chose didn’t even have a battery. I ended up purchasing the Seiko 5 Automatic Watch, which is a self winding watch. This means, the motion of my arm moves a small weighted pendulum in the watch which winds a coil spring. So long as I move the watch during the day, it will stay winded up and function.

Since there is no battery, there is no backlight for night-time viewing. The watch uses old-fashion luminous paint on the hour and minute hands which glow in the dark (just like the old days!). I think it’s really cool to have such a retro watch, when everyone is clamoring for the latest smart watch technology. Who knows, maybe I’ll dump my smartphone calendar app and go with an old DayTimer paper system!

Dump Your Wall Chargers!

August 2, 2014

My family has tons of electronic gear, all of which use some sort of USB wall charger device. Often times, these “wall warts” are somewhat bulky and don’t alway fit too well side-by-side with another wall wart or AC plug. This was the case in my bedroom and family room, so I replace those two outlets with a new one which has two built-in USB ports (see below):

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 6.26.11 PM

Swapping out the old outlet for this new one was a breeze, only taking me 15 minutes (be sure to turn off the power first!). The only thing to note, is that this new outlet is deeper than a standard outlet, so you need to make sure to push the stiff wires all the way to the back of the box to get the new outlet to fit inside it. Also, this particular outlet didn’t come with a cover plate, so I needed to buy one separately (around $1.00 US).

The two USB ports output 2.1 Amps, which is plenty to charge up two iPads. You can also use the two other AC outlets at the same time if needed. I bought this outlet from my local Lowe’s Home Improvement store, but you can get the same one off for the same price of $24.95.

It was a great weekend project that took under an hour to do, and I now don’t need to worry about charging adapters every again!

Amazon ordering strangeness

June 10, 2012

I’ve ordered through many, many times in the past because I trust my purchased order will be shipped promptly and arrive on my doorstep in good shape. I know that will guarantee most of the shipped products if Amazon is the “fulfillment” entity.

Recently, I ordered a $10 case for my new Sprint EVO LTE smartphone from Diztronic which the product is fulfilled by Since I’m an Amazon Prime member, the case was shipped free for 2-day delivery. After seeing online that my order wasn’t making any progress after 4 days, I contacted via their online chat and was told that they couldn’t ship me a new one for some reason and all they could do was refund my purchase price and have me re-order it.

It seems that in some cases they screw up and the product that you order from them doesn’t get shipped. I did indeed re-order it online, and the case showed being shipped almost immediately. So be prepared and check your online orders with because in some cases it may be stuck in limbo!

Prometheus movie

June 10, 2012

I just saw Ridley Scott’s new SciFi movie Prometheus, which is a prequel to the first Alien movie. The special effects were great, and most of the story followed along with the previous Alien movies. I did like the beginning of the movie and it’s premise, to search out for our makers (or “Engineers” as they called them in the movie). The actor who played the android in the movie (named, “David’) was very good, however, the movie seemed to fall apart at the end. The finale of the movie does set the scene for the 1st Alien movie, so that was a nice surprise.

Taking Forums with a grain of salt…

June 1, 2012

I love reading postings in tech forums, and I learn alot of cool tips and tricks. However, you really need to be careful with what you read and believe (or disbelieve). For example, I love reading postings at which has great news on Android Smartphones and Tablets. Recently, I’ve been lurking around the HTC EVO LTE specific forums to get info on when the EVO phone would be available (which ended up being June 2nd, tomorrow). Some people got their EVOs early through pre-ordering, so there was some feedback on first impressions, usage, issues, etc.

Like anything, you have to take what you read with a grain-of-salt. There seems to be the 6 stages of “New Device-itis”:

  1. The announcement of a new device gets everyone in a tizzy, as the excitement level increases while people wait for the product’s release.
  2. The product is released, and people are madly trying to get their hands on one. Those that can’t get one freak out and drive hundreds of miles to search for their jewel device.
  3. People that do purchase this coveted device marvel at how great it is, saying things like, “it’s so sexy”, or it “runs buttery smooth”. From all that is said by these early adopters, this device is worth it’s weight in gold and is the greatest thing on the planet.
  4. Once the excitement wears off, you begin reading forum postings with people nitpicking small thing with their not-so-wonderful device.
  5. After more time has lapsed, people really dive in and post comments like, “the battery life sucks”, “this device reboots itself constantly”, “the text is too small on the screen”, etc.
  6. Finally, the device is deemed horrible and unusable, and the person moves on to the next wonder device coming down the pipe.

I’ve seen this behavior time after time. People go nuts over a new device and claim it’s so great, and later that same device is a piece of junk. Just human nature, I guess. As such, you really need to be wary of what you read in forum postings and ultimately make up your own decision to whether to buy this new device or not. Don’t get too bogged down with what other people say, and just take it easy as it’s just a hunk of hardware!

This was a bit Techie week….

January 8, 2011

With the Consumer Electronics Show ending this week, there was a lot of cool high tech stuff being presented to the public. Lots and Lots of Tablet devices apparently about to be released, and nearly all of them running the Android OS. From what I’ve heard, the current incarnation of Android is designed for phone-devices and doesn’t work very well with the larger tablet devices. So, I’m not sure how successful the new batch of tablets will be in the hands of the consumer. Also, most of these tablets are prices fairly steeply in my opinion ( around $500-700) which seems too high. At those prices, I would definitely get the proven Apple iPad.

Lots of smartphones also being announced at CES, along with the Apple iPhone for the Verizon network rumored to be announced on Tuesday by Verizon. That rumor is pretty much a sure thing, and that will open up the iPhone for many, many more users. AT&T will certainly take a big hit in iPhone sales, while Verizon will be selling them like hotcakes.

On the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 front, it appears that Sprint and Verizon users will need to wait until June 2011 before the WP7 phones are available on those networks. That’s a big bummer for me, as I’m an existing Sprint user and am waiting for the WP7 phones. So another 5 months of waiting… maybe by that time the iPhone will be available on Sprint as well? 🙂

iPod Touch– The new PDA?

November 9, 2010

Remember those PDAs (Personal Data Assistant) that came out about 10 years ago? Apple had the Newton which ultimately died off and then Palm came out with the highly successful Palm Pilot device. Following that, Microsoft had the Palm PC and later the Pocket PC devices that were around for about 6 years. Then, smartphones began to appear and they then slowly acquired the many features of the PDA devices.

I remember using my iPAQ Pocket PC (and later Dell X51v) for my calendar, email, web browsing, and running various apps and games. These PDAs were later outfitted with WiFi so they could then access the Internet from the limited hotspots available.

As I was using my recently acquired Apple iPod Touch, I was having a bit of Deja Vu as it reminded me of using my old iPAQ Pocket PC device. Calendar, Email, and Web Browsing was all there, including different apps and games (with WiFi). The only big difference was that I was using my finger with swipe gestures instead of a stylus to tap. So it seems that what started off as a Music Media Player has now matured into a full music/video media device with all the features and functions of the old PDAs.

Actually, it seems that the smartphones are the new all-in-one device which can serve as a phone, PDA, and media player. Currently, I use a Palm Pixi as my smartphone but I still use my new iPod Touch for music and videos. However, I can see a day coming up soon where I do everything on a single device (my smartphone) and do those activities quite well…

Computer component organization for a neat freak

October 23, 2010

I’m a bit of a neat freak and don’t like clutter around my house and especially in my home office. I can’t control what my kids, dog, and wife do with most of the rooms in our house, but my home office space is my personal kingdom. As such, I don’t like all the wires, cables, power outlets, etc. that come along with all the various computer components and gadgets that I have currently in my office. I was able to reduce much of this by switching to a fully integrated iMac Desktop system, but I still have the following components to deal with:

  1. External backup hard drive (for use with Apple Time Machine Software)
  2. Comcast digital set top box
  3. EyeTV HD video recording device
  4. Touchstone charger with USB cable
  5. Work Laptop charger

Considering that my office has basically a single desk (floating in the center of the room) and a small side-board cabinet just off to my left side, I don’t have a lot of space for electronic accessories. Of course, I could put the  mentioned components inside my side cabinet, however, I didn’t want to purchase extension cables and have them run from the side cabinet over to my iMac system sitting on my main desk. Thus, I designed a method to store all of my components under my main desk.

What I did, was buy a pegboard (normally used for hanging up tools in a garage) and cut it down to a 2-ft by 4-ft piece. Using three small hinges, I attached one end of the pegboard to the bottom front side of my desk so that it could swing up and under my desk. This way, I could easily attach the three previous mentioned computer components to the pegboard using plastic zip ties and swing it up and out of the way under my main desk surface. What is nice, is that I could also neatly wrap and tie all the associated power adapters, cables, and wires to the pegboard so that everything is out of sight. I also included a powerstrip so that all these accessories could be conveniently plugged in under my desk as well.

Now if you walked into my home office you wouldn’t notice any of these extra components connected to my iMac (sans the few USB cables coming from the back of my iMac disappearing around the underside of my desk). If I ever need to check any of these components or add something else, I just swing it down and viola I have instant and easy access.

The under-the-desk trick should work for anyone who has a desk with a reasonably hiding area beneath it. I highly recommend using pegboard as it has pre-drilled holes which the plastic zip ties can conveniently wrap around. And if you’re a super-neat freak you could also strap in a small light which you can turn on to actually see what you have under your desk! 🙂

On the road and staying connected

September 22, 2010

I’m currently on a business trip to Phoenix, and with the great tools available on the Internet I’m able to stay connected and operate efficiently. For example, I’ve got my Palm Pixi WebOS smartphone which has an app called Flight Predictor that helps me monitor any delays on return flight to Seattle this evening. I also can check my emails from different accounts and read up on news, weather reports, and Engadget tidbits (my favorite) all from my Palm phone.

I also have been using the LogMeIn Ignition application on my laptop which allows me to connect to my iMac at my home via the Internet. It seems to work very well, all though the screen updates are a little bit slow due to the slow hotel Internet connection. But, it is certainly usable for running applications and checking emails on my home iMac system remotely.

I also use the DropBox service which allows me to sync files between the cloud and all my computer systems. So certain important files on my home systems are automatically synced and made available on my Netbook system.

Whenever I have some downtime between meetings, I can duck into a local Starbucks and use my laptop or netbook to check my email or do a bit of work using their free WiFi connection. As a backup, I can always use my Verizon USB Wireless Adapter to connect my laptop/netbook to the Internet if WiFi is not available.

Of course, with all these electronic gadgets I need to bring along various charging adapters and cables to stay up and running. It can be challenging to find power outlets while on the go, so I keep my phone and laptop charging whenever I get a chance.

I definitely rely on my Palm Pixi smartphone as my main traveling tool. I use it to find places to eat, nearby Starbucks, gas stations, etc. which is very handy. The Sprint Navigation app is also a valuable asset, as I don’t need to bring along my dedicated GPS navigation device. After using these connected tools for a while, it sure would be hard to not have them!

Great site for travelers

September 11, 2010

Most of my traveling is for business, where I might take a trip 8 times a year. Not a lot, but frequent enough to plan ahead for my travels. For example, I want to make sure I pick out a good, clean, safe hotel when going to a new town and also one that has good restaurants nearby. I happened upon a really good web site called which has reviews made by different travelers who were willing to post their comments.

Reviews on hotels, restaurants, vacation spots, etc. are all on this site. Of course, you need to weed through the anal people who complain about every little thing about a hotel and/or restaurant, but there’s lots of good information to be found. I, personally have posted some of my reviews of hotels and restaurants (good and bad) to help support the community. These postings also offer good advice when appropriate on lots of other travel details with regards to hotels or city activities.

One nice thing for me, is that there’s a Palm WebOS app specifically designed to work with TripAdvisor. So on-the-fly while I’m traveling I can quickly check reviews on nearby hotels and eateries to get the latest information.