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Android Nexus 5X Review by a Die Hard Apple Fan

Nexus 5x in boxWhen Steve and I planned our great adventure to South America, we knew we needed a data plan for our phones. We decided to use Project Fi from Google for $10/GB. I’ve written up the experience in a couple of blog posts and talked about it on the show ( podfeet.com/…. Project Fi gave us inexpensive and fast Internet access on our trip, but I had to buy an Android phone in order to initialize our Project Fi SIM cards. For most people that would be kind of a drag, but it gave me an excuse to play with my first Android phone. I bought a Google Nexus 7 tablet many years ago but haven’t played with Android since.

The phone I chose to buy was the lowest cost model you could get and still use it to set up Google’s Project Fi. I bought an unlocked, European LG Nexus 5X. I paid $300 for it on Amazon directly from LG.

If you’ve been reading or listening for any length of time, you know I have an EVER so slight Apple bias. For that reason, you should not take my review of this phone as a definitive and unbiased review. But I have a spoiler for you, I kinda like this phone!

Continue reading “Android Nexus 5X Review by a Die Hard Apple Fan”

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Sandman – the Perfect Bedside Clock from Palo Alto Innovations

Sandman clock closeupPeople love clocks. I’m not sure why, but even in the middle of the night if we wake up, we want to know what time it is. But a clock on your bedside table can be a problematic if the numbers are too bright and keep you awake.

A lot of people keep their phones plugged in next to their beds, but it’s a hassle to wake them up. If you’ve got a phone, a tablet, a smart watch and a clock, where do you plug in your bedside lamp? For years Steve has had an iHome clock radio to give him a clock by his bedside. It has a 30-pin dock connector for his iPod, so that’s super useful nowadays. I said it was a radio but who listens to radio any more?

The iHome was expensive at $100 but it had one feature that sold Steve on it. He could dim the clock every night and turn it back up in the morning. It wasn’t ideal for me because from my side of the bed, without my contacts, I couldn’t read the numbers. Oh well, it worked for him. Continue reading “Sandman – the Perfect Bedside Clock from Palo Alto Innovations”

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Watch Bad Guys (and Coyotes) with the Ring Floodlight Cam

Ring floodlight cam day viewWe live in a pretty safe neighborhood, but we like to keep an eye on things around our house. As safe as the neighborhood is, we do know of cases where deliveries have been stolen from front doorsteps from time to time. You’ve probably heard about the Ring Video Doorbell that we reviewed last January. It’s great to watch our front door with a live view or to answer the doorbell from wherever we are. When Steve’s new GoPro Hero 5 was delivered while we were out of town, I was able to tell the delivery person to leave it and then ping my neighbor to go snag it from the front door so I wouldn’t have to buy a third one. Continue reading “Watch Bad Guys (and Coyotes) with the Ring Floodlight Cam”

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Apple’s New Strategy: We’ll Meet You Half Way

Right airpod showing more blue corrosionLast year before the new iPhone 7 came out, all four of the iPhones in use by my family were suffering from the battery shutdown problem. Kyle was getting a new iPhone 7 from me for his birthday but I asked him to take his iPhone 6 into Apple while it was still under AppleCare to try to get it replaced. Apple told Kyle there was nothing wrong with the battery and refused to replace it. They said to do a DFU (Device Firmware Update) and to not restore from a backup and that would fix it. They were certain that there was something in Kyle’s apps or data causing the problem. We know from recent reports that Apple is now admitting that something was indeed wrong with the OS that was causing the problem and they’ve been able to measure a decrease in the problem from a recent iOS update.

Continue reading “Apple’s New Strategy: We’ll Meet You Half Way”

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Turn by Turn Directions without Using Data – by Rally Barnard

Rally Barnard is a friend of Steve and mine, in fact he’s the guy who talked us into going on the India trip with him and his awesome wife Carolyn, and our friends Wally and Wendy Cherwinski, and Don and Barbara McAllister. Rally and Carolyn travel more than any people I’ve ever met; they go on around four big trips a year. They are our spiritual guides on all things travel. We even called them to find out what shoes to wear in the Galápagos Islands.

Anyway, if the idea of using Project Fi for international data sounds too hard, Rally is here with a quick maps tip to help you conserve data and yet get turn by turn directions while traveling. Continue reading “Turn by Turn Directions without Using Data – by Rally Barnard”

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Photos from South America – Galápagos Islands and Machu Picchu

Steve and I just got back from a nearly three week vacation to South America. We had two major destinations, the Galápagos Islands and to hike Machu Picchu in Peru. Thought you might like to peruse our photos of the trip.

Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands trip started with a day tour of Quito, Ecuador and then we flew the nearly 600 miles East into the Pacific Ocean to land on the island of San Cristóbal, They only allow small boats to tour the islands, so our boat only had 20 passengers. We toured for a full 7 days.

The trip was almost hectic. We were awakened at 7am, breakfast at 7:30, into the Pangas (small inflatable rafts, often called Zodiacs) by 8:30. On most days we had FOUR excursions a day, two walking tours on the islands and two snorkel trips. That’s my kind of trip!

The photos you’ll see in this album show how incredibly close we were able to get to the animals. They have no natural predators so they don’t mind you walking within feet of them.

Galápagos Islands Favorite Photos

Marine iguana

Peru – Machu Picchu

Our tour of Peru was in some ways less hectic but also more strenuous. We spent a lot of time in Cusco, which was the primary city of the Incas. Cusco is at 11,000 feet, so the high elevation made walking (and breathing) difficult.

We spent time there hiking the area (downhill) in order to acclimate us for the next part of the trip. We hiked the last 7.5 miles of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. That part of the trail has a segment early on that’s 2000 feet of elevation gain in only 2 miles!

It’s impossible to capture the beauty and expanse of Machu Picchu (and of Wiñay Wayna along the way), but we gave it our best shot. The people you see in the photos are our guide Nick who was with us for the week and his fabulous fiancé, Alexandra.

Enjoy:

Peru Favorite Photos

Orchid machu picchu

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Dumb Question Corner – How to Automatically Back Up Podcasts from iTunes

Our dumb question this week comes from Kurt. He nearly violated one of my cardinal rules in his question, but I’ve decided to allow it. He wrote:

Itunes podcastsHi Allison, this dumb question gets dangerously close to the red line of No iTunes Questions, but I thought I would ask it anyway…

I’d like to be able to archive podcasts on a dedicated media drive. I currently do this manually, copying them out of the appropriate iTunes directory once or twice a year to the media drive and deleting them from the original directory. I always worry that going behind the back of iTunes like this is going to mess something up.

In an ideal world a folder action or an automator script would just watch a certain podcast directory, and copy the file to the media drive automagically every time that iTunes downloads one. Then I could set iTunes to delete podcasts after they have been listened to, and I’d have the best of both worlds – a lightweight, trim iTunes folder, and archived backups of podcasts. However, I’ve never really grokked Apple automation methods.

Or do you have any other ideas? The goal is to free up space from the gigabytes of podcasts that accumulate in my home folder on an SSD while retaining the ability to occasionally go back and listen to an older podcast without downloading.

Cheers, thanks for the entertaining weekly dose of tech,

Kurt

Continue reading “Dumb Question Corner – How to Automatically Back Up Podcasts from iTunes”

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Tech Stories From Travel in South America

Blue footed boobieAs you’ve undoubtedly heard, Steve and I went to South American for two and a half weeks to visit the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, and to hike Machu Picchu in Peru. Being geeks, we brought an enormous amount of tech with us, and used just about every bit of it. We thought it might be interesting to talk through what worked well on a trip like this and give a few anecdotes of tech fun along the way.

Project Fi

Probably the single best thing we did was get the Project Fi card. In an article back in March, I explained that Project Fi is a data SIM you can get from Google, and put into an iPhone, to get data internationally in 135 countries. We got one card with a phone number and data, and a second data-only SIM that shared the same plan. There are a lot of details I won’t go into again, but the bottom line is that we had data at only $10/GB.   Continue reading “Tech Stories From Travel in South America”

CSUN 2017: American Printing House Accessible Calculator

Allison interviews Ken Perry from American Printing House for the Blind about their new accessible calculators. APH makes the Orion TI-30XS MultiView Talking Scientific Calculator and the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator, both based on the familiar TI calculator designs. Both calculators announce each key in clear, high-quality speech, giving access to all menus, mathematical expressions, text, and symbols displayed on the screen. The graphing calculator allows the user to explore graphs using “sonograph” audio and haptic feedback. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

Learn more at http://aph.org/accessible-calculators/

Using a Screen Reader? click here

CSUN 2017: Aira Visual Interpreter for The Blind

Allison interviews Michael Hingson from Aira about their visual interpreter system that helps people without vision. Aira consists of smart glasses with a camera, an app on an iPhone and a MiFi connection to provide good WiFi capability. The app is used to call specially trained agents who can see what the user “sees” through the smart glasses. The user asks the agent about their visual surroundings and in real time the agent provides the requested information. The setting is the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego.

Learn more at http://aira.io

Using a Screen Reader? click here

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