Can a $60 Audio-Technica ATR2100 Microphone Compare to a $350 Heil PR-40?

atr2100 I’m a member of a Google Plus Community called Podcasting Technology Resources which is super active with nearly 2000 members. It’s a great place to talk about gear and tools. Many early podcasters ask me what mic they should get, and that question gets asked really often in the Podcasting G+ community as well. The answer is almost always the Audio-Technica ATR2100. Once one person recommends it, a lot more people chime in also recommending this mic.

There are a couple of remarkable things about the ATR2100. First of all, it’s listed for only $55 right now on Amazon. Second of all it supports both XLR and USB. If you have a fancy pants mixer, you can use the ATR2100, but if you just want to plug it right into your computer, you can do that via USB. Those two things make it attractive, and when you combine that with the masses in the Podcasting community also endorsing it, I had to try one out.

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HISY Wireless Remote Shutter for iPhone

his round disk as describedMy mother-in-law has a tough job trying to find gifts for Steve and me. She knows we love tech stuff but what are the chances that she could find something cool that we don’t already have? Well this year she found something that maybe I don’t need but is still pretty cool. It’s called the HISY Wireless Smartphone Camera Remote without App. Yup, it’s got that long of a name.

Stepping back, what problem are we trying to solve? You’re trying to take a selfie but you have to be back far enough that you have to prop the camera up on something and now how do you actually take the photo?

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Undead iPad

screen showing a nearly empty battery with a red line, and suggesting plugging in the lightning cableAbout a week and a half ago I was about to plug my iPad in to charge for the night, when I noticed it was indicating that the battery was completely drained. This is indicated by a black screen with a battery symbol showing a red line for how full it is (not very) and a visual invitation to plug in your USB cable. I thought this was an odd sight, as my iPad normally has about 35-45% left when I plug it in at night. I figured, no big deal, I’ll just plug it in and all will be sorted in the morning. Unfortunately I awoke to the same symbol on screen.

I tried the usual stuff, holding down the power button, the home button, both buttons, holding them long and holding them short and nothing would kick me out of that mode or even turn the device off. I went to the Googles and read about how you can do a full firmware restore to your iDevice, called a DFU restore, or Device Firmware Update. It’s a dance you do where you hold down the home button while plugging into your computer and launching iTunes with your other three hands.

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#503 Gas Cubby, Yota-phone, CuBox-i2ex, Elusive 1s and 0s, TTT Part 26 DHCP

Steven Goetz (aka Goatman) sent in a review of Gas Cubby Free, Allister came through with an unsolicited testimonial for Hover, Knightwise reviews the inventive and interesting Yota-Phone, Door tells about the CuBox-i2ex and in Dumb Question Corner, Steve answers Timo from Finland’s question about 1s and 0s. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart takes us through Taming the Terminal Part 26 of n all about DHCP.


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#502 Mountain, Moom, Night Before Christmas, State of Android with Door

My latest screencast is up at Don McAllister’s ScreenCasts Online where I teach how to use Art Text 2 from BeLight Software. Manage your external volumes with Mountain from appgineers.de. I successfully moved one of my domains to Hover, check out the show for 10% off domains this month only. Control your OS X windows with Moom from manytricks.com. Steve reads us his annual tradition, the Night Before Christmas with an Ever So Slight Macintosh Bias. On Chit Chat Across the Pond we’re joined for the first time by Door to Door Geek from the Podnutz network to talk about the state of Android today.


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Control Your OS X Windows with Moom

icon for the Moom applicationMy daughter Lindsay (you know her as Jibblies in the chat room) told me the other day that there’s one thing she misses from Windows 7 on the Mac, and that’s the ability to have a window snap to the left or right half of the screen (or top/bottom half). She loves throwing things out to me like this because she knows that I’ll either know the answer for her or I’ll find it.

Here’s another problem to be solved. You’re making a screencast (say, when you’re standing in for Don McAllister on ScreenCasts Online) and you know you’re going to be working on it over the course of a couple of days so you need the windows to always be in the same position even if you disconnect your external monitor or change screen resolutions between sessions. Imagine you’re watching a video screencasts and the window is on the left and suddenly jumps to the right a half an inch. Even a few pixels jump is really jarring so you need something to precisely place the windows in a predictable and pleasing location on screen.

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Manage Your External Volumes with Mountain

Mountain logo. silver disk with an eject/mount iconBack in July I wrote a blog post entitled “Top 5 Menu Bar Apps” in response to Tammy’s question of what my favorite apps were. In my top 5 was a menu bar app called Jettison, and I sang its virtues for letting me very quickly eject external drives and put my Mac to sleep in a single gesture. I was very enamored with Jettison but it has gotten flaky on me in that it won’t launch at login every time. So imagine the value drop when you have to launch an app in order to eject and sleep? Not really very useful. To be fair, I never contacted the Jettison folks to see if they had a fix.

I bring all this up because last October, I got a comment on that blog post suggesting an alternative called Mountain from appgineers.de. For the last two months I’ve been moving it out every week hoping to get time to take a look at it, and finally that time has come.

Mountain’s reason for being is to allow you to quickly mount and unmount local drives, servers, and disk images. It runs as a menu bar app so you’ve got easy access to it’s services. There are three categories of things it can play with:

  • Internal volumes
  • External volumes
  • Servers

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#501 iFlicks, Fire TV Stick, Epson Labelworks Portable Labeler, Nvidia Shield, Fire HD6, Firephone, TTT Part 25 IP subnets

iFlicks review from iflicksapp.com by Jeff from New Hampshire helps you get your videos into the right categories in iTunes. I review the Fire TV Stick from Amazon (spoiler, I like it!) Donald Burr brings us his review of the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P App-enabled, Portable Label Printer. I tell the story of the trials and tribulations of trying to leave my current Domain registrar to go over to Hover (see the shownotes to get a coupon code for 10% off). Don’t forget to use the Amazon Affiliate link in the left sidebar at podfeet.com for your holiday shopping! George from Tulsa reviews 3 Android devices: The Nvidia Shield Tablet, the Amazon Fire HD6 Tablet and finally the Amazon Fire Phone (I’m not even going to let you have a link to that one based on George’s review!) In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart takes us back through the beginning of Taming the Terminal Part 25 of n on IP Subnets and then takes it home to the point that I actually understood it!


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Epson LabelWorks LW-600P App-enabled, Portable Label Printer by Donald Burr

Epson Labelworks Portable Labeler

  • Getting organized!
  • Examples:
  • Label cables/power bricks to match them up with the devices they belong to
  • Label drawers that store various types of cables/other objects
  • Label file folders
  • The solution: a labeler!
  • But they really suck!
    • Lousy little rubbery keyboards
    • Tiny, faint, barely visible display
    • Very limited selection of fonts, no capability for images, etc.
  • Enter the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P App-enabled, Portable Label Printer!
  • Description
    • 6x5x2 inches
    • Fairly heavy (about 1.5 lbs, but that’s with batteries in it)
    • Large door on the side of the machine where you load the tape cartridges
    • Windows on both the side and front of the device, let you see what kind of cartridge you have loaded
    • Connections on the rear for power and USB
    • No keyboard or display – that’s because it’s app enabled!
  • Features
    • Can print on labels between from 1’4″ wide to 1″ wide
    • Can print over USB from Windows and Macs
    • Can print from mobile devices over Bluetooth
    • App supports text, graphics, and barcodes (both 2D and 3D)
    • Single line or multiline text, variable font and font size, and can add a border
  • Pros
    • Wide variety of label types are available
    • Standard stick-on labels
    • Extra strong adhesive labels
    • Cable wrap labels
    • Different colors (including clear)
  • Printer knows what size of label is inserted (so you can’t print on the wrong size)
  • Printer can be powered either by AC or battery
  • App supports many different label types (plain old text, graphics, barcodes, etc.)
  • App comes with a lot of standard labels (warning/safety labels, etc.)
  • A lot of customizability in the app
    • Use images from their clip art library, or use your own
    • The conversion to B&W for your own images is very customizable
  • Excellent build quality (even though it’s made of plastic, it’s very tough plastic and it feels solid)
  • Cons
    • Cartridges can’t be hot-swapped (means you have to turn it off/on, and then reconnect the Bluetooth)
    • The app can get a bit wonky
    • Not iPhone 6/6+ optimized (I’m sure they’re working on it)
    • Sometimes gets into a mode where all the menu choices disappear
    • Somewhat clunky and weirdly organized UI
    • Sometimes doesn’t detect the printer – only happened to me once, and fixing it was as simple as force-quitting and relaunching the app
  • Price
    • At $100 it is a bit steep compared to most dedicated labelers ($10-30) but compared to higher end systems ($50-70) it is competitively priced considering the customizability and features
    • Label cassettes are a bit pricy (around $25 a pop) but they do last a long time
  • Summary
    • A great, solidly built and versatile labeler that makes really nice looking labels
    • The app is a bit wonky but it works reasonably well in general, and I’m sure the glitches will be fixed
    • This thing has other uses too
    • Luggage tags, “if this item is lost, contact me” tags, conference badges, etc.
    • Labels with barcodes!
    • Product labels (i.e. if you are a small time retail store)
    • QR codes that advertise your website or whatever, that you can stick on flyers, promotional materials, etc.
  • Check it out at the link in the show notes
  • Also be sure and check out otakunopodcast.com if you are at all curious about anime, manga, Japan, culture, food, travel, etc.
  • George from Tulsa Reviews 3 Android Devices

    George from Tulsa here to give you a brief overview of three Android devices I recently purchased.

    Nvidia Shield Tablet

    The Nvidia Shield Tablet is a serious gaming machine and showpiece for Nvidia’s connected gaming network. It’s also the fastest Android tablet on the market today, surpassing even Google’s flagship Nexus 9. I’m not a gamer, think Atari 2600, and bought the 32 GB LTE Shield to connect my camera card, copy off Olympus format RAW files, and edit them using the Android App Photo Mate R2. I hadn’t even installed Portal and the Half Life Series Nvidia promoted as draws to buy the Shield. But on Thanksgiving Day my visiting younger generation saw the Shield, and begged. Then disappeared into gameland.

    The Shield’s form factor is much like the familiar Nexus 7, just a bit bigger. It offers a 1920 x 1200 screen, dual front facing stereo speakers, and even a subwoofer. Leave your Bluetooth at home. There’s a Stylus and Apps that use it. My daughter, the art school graduate, reports the Stylus works pretty well, but isn’t a threat to replace her Wacom Cintiq Android Tablet.

    I upgraded my Shield to Android 5.0 “Lollipop” before setting it up. After using Android L on that device, I blocked its install on my Nexus 5 phone and 7 tablet. Maybe someday, not yet. It is too bright, I’m not a fan of card based notifications throughout, and prefer the ease of accessing settings on the older KitKat. KitKat is faster.

    The Shield came unlocked, with an ATT SIM. I had no trouble activating it on T-Mobile as a 3 GB $10 a month add to our existing plan.

    Lisa at MobileTechReview did her usual thorough review of the Shield when it first released.  If anything I’ve said about the Shield captures your interest, refer to Allison’s Show Notes for a Link to Lisa’s review.

    Amazon Fire HD6 Tablet

    Amazon’s Fire HD 6 tablet is cheap, really cheap, priced as low as $99. It’s also quite good, if a bit heavy. I bought one because I’ve been carrying last year’s far more powerful HDX 7 in a pouch while I walk so I can listen as Amazon’s superb Text to Speech reads Kindle eBooks. The HD 6 is running Fire OS 4.5.1, a much improved version of Amazon’s Android Fork. Its physical controls are easier to operate by touch than the more expensive HDX. Overall, an amazing device—for the price point.

    After I bought the HD 6, I thought how much better it would be if smaller and lighter. Like, say, phone sized.

    And no sooner did I make that wish than Amazon delivered, putting the 32 GB Fire Phone LTE unlocked GSM on sale for $199, and throwing in a year of Prime worth $100.

    Amazon Fire Phone

    Really nice macro photo of a Christmas tree bulb from the Fire Phone

    It’s no wonder the Fire Phone was a giant Fail. It’s UI isn’t good, depending on four battery sucking cameras to track a user’s face and present context sensitive menus. The Fire Phone is hot to the touch in default mode, and munched its battery fast. I turned all that stuff that Amazon calls “dynamic perspective” OFF which saves much processing and battery, but leaves holes in the UI. I had to use the built in MayDay Help Feature to find Audiobook menus that stopped appearing without the tilt response that’s part of “dynamic perspective.”

    It’s just too bad. The Fire Phone, minus the bizarre dynamic perspective cameras and UI, is a solid device with good performance. The camera is a 13 megapixel with optical stabilization and an f2.0 lens. Its side firing stereo speakers have good separation, work ok in a quiet room, are best for straight voice, but won’t inspire owners to leave the Bluetooth behind.

    To wrap up, if you’re interested in serious and mobile gaming, the Shield currently has no real competition. If you’re open to Android, and want Android’s best performance, it’s the Shield.

    At the current unlocked price of $449, though that does include the year of Prime, I don’t see how Amazon will sell any of the Fire Phones stuffed into its warehouses. I know this may not be fair, but I just can’t see relying on that device as a communication tool.

    There are better tablets than the Fire 6. But there’s simply nothing else for sale today that’s competent, pleasant to use, so portable, and which offers so very much entertainment value for so little money.

    Get the 16 GB version, consider Amazon’s “All You Want” $9.99 a month Kindle Unlimited with tens thousands of books and audio books, and with the addition of Amazon Prime, music streaming and cloud storage.

    If there’s any Amazon-branded gear that interests you, watch for daily deals. Seems there’s always something on, er, “Fire Sale” this Holiday Season.

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