Wednesday, December 25, 2013

GigaOM: Windows Phone 8 and the Mac: Surprisingly compatible

In this article for GigaOM/TheAppleBlog, I look at how to make a Windows Phone 8 sync with a Mac

Software Review: MacBreakZ

Like many computer users, I tend to sit hours at a time working on projects without taking healthy breaks.  If an interruption occurs that’s about the only time I remember to stop typing, look away or simply take a break.  MacBreakZ is a welcome product to make sure I don’t suffer injury.

First, MacBreakZ watches your computer usage via keyboard and mouse/trackpad usage and suggests microbreaks after a certain amount of activity (this can be adjusted).  It also gives you a timer and a color code in the menu bar to know when your next break is needed and how excessive your usage is.  Typing really fast for a long period of time?  Take a microbreak.  If you are staring and watching a video, it’s more likely to leave you alone (it will bother you though so best to turn it off during a presentation or a video)

Let me say this:  the product is terribly annoying but that’s a good thing.  I’ll be working right along at a project and “in the zone” and that stupid window pops up asking me to take a deep breath and look away.  I’m way to busy for that- but in reality that’s the point.  I don’t want to feel exhausted, I need to take breaks so that way my hands don’t cramp up or my eyes start bothering me.  Once I accept the importance of taking breaks I really do feel more productive.  The Microbreak shows up as a transparent windows so it can be ignored if you want to, but I warn you it will start annoying you more the more you ignore it.  It’s bothersome without being intrusive.  It nags but doesn’t pester.

Besides the Microbreaks, MacBreakZ also offers tips for stretches throughout the day for various body parts that tend to get fatigued after extended computer usage.

Initially I balked at the price of $25 for a program that simply told me to take a break, but this is really so much more as it adapts to your usage and offers direct suggestions of how to take a break to prevent repetitive stress injury.

If you use your computer for an extended period of time and don’t have the discipline to take a break and stretch, this program is a lifesaver

Pros:  tells you how and when to take a break
Confs: pricing may seem a bit high

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Raspberry Pi Cookbook

I'll admit that I've always wondered about the Raspberry Pi: the tiny little computer that can do so many things. I wasn't sure where to start since I’ve never used one before.This book was heavy on the ideas and specific ways of utilizing device in a high level technical format.The book jumps right in and ignores the handholding and step by steps I often find in other books and goes right into Python and using GPIO. This isn't a complaint, but these recipes were a bit intimidating.

The middle section of the book was the most interesting:what can you actually do with a PI such as setup a webcam or a game emulator.I would have liked more expansion in this area rather than the heavy programming and hardware interfaces (dip switches and jumpers scare me!)

If you are programer wanting to get into Pi then this is a great book for you, but if you are a hobbyist wanting to simply play with a Pi and see what it can do for you, this may not be the best book

Four out of Five

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In this post for GigaOM/TheAppleBlog, I review Garmin's new Head Up Display (HUD)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hardware Review: MyCharge Amp 2000

The Mycharge Amp2000 is a small convenient cylindrical battery pack that has the right balance of portable and power.  Measuring in at 1.3 x 1 x 3.9 inches and a soft rubberized finish on the outside this charger fits just about anywhere:  your pocket, your glove compartment or your carry on giving you that extra boost of power with it’s 2000 mAh battery that can provide up to 9 hours of extra talk time.

The package includes a micro usb cord for charging and the device has a standard USB Output of 1.0A for charging (bring your own charging cable).  Also included is a lanyard that you can use to wear around your neck although I’m not sure why you’d want to do that.
A nice easy power boost to get you through the day or an emergency!

Pros:  small, cylindrical, just enough power
Cons:  none

Five out of Five Dogcows

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right.