When Steve and I were at CES, we had some audio difficulties with a few of the interviews. In particular we were really disappointed to lose our interview with Stacey Sachs from BACtrack, makers of home breathalyzers. You know I’m a sucker for metrics, so this sounded like a fun product. When I explained to Stacey that we had lost the interview, she offered to send me one of their devices, and I jumped at the chance to do some real world testing.
BACtrack is named after the acronym BAC, which stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration. The unit I tested is called the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer. Before we start using the device, you might be wondering whether the results will be reliable. They said on their website that their products “Meets all standards of an FDA 501(k) approved alcohol screening device”.
Back in 2012, I told you about a handy little $1 app for iOS called Bob’s Contact Lock Screen. Let’s say you left your iPhone at a party. If someone of good moral character found it and you keep your phone locked, how would they know it was yours and how to get it back to you? Bob’s Contact Lock Screen was designed to let you take a photo of your choosing, type some text on it such as, “If found please call…” and then save the new image and use it as your lock screen image. I’ve been using it for years, and felt a little bit better knowing there was a chance I might see my phone back if I lost it.
However when I bumped up to the iPhone 6, I realized the images created by this tool were leaving a giant black empty place across the bottom because it hadn’t been updated for the bigger screen sizes. I wrote to the devs asking if they were doing a new version (that I would happily buy again for another whole dollar) but I was summarily ignored. So much for support from Bob.
This week I was really excited when my friend Melanie sent me a photo of a sad little question mark folder on the boot up screen of her mid-2012 MacBook Pro. I was excited because Steve got me the 70 piece iFixit Pro Tech toolkit for Christmas and I was itching to use it! I made the appropriate sad noises to her and had her bring it over. She was willing to buy a new laptop if needed (she thought it was older than it is).
It was pretty obvious that the simple problem was that her hard drive had died. I said to her, “You HAVE been running your backups, RIGHT?” To which she replied, “Yes, only 28 days ago! That’s really good for me.” Oh well, no tragedy in her book I guess. She also told me that the machine had been running really slowly. I suggested that instead of putting in another spinning hard drive, I’d put in a Solid State Drive. She told me that I was authorized up to $600, and I assured her I could put in a 500GB SSD for under $300 and she was delighted. I loaned her an older Macbook I had lying around (that amazed her that I had an extra computer and sent her on her way.
James Staples asked me a question on Twitter that I had trouble answering at first, but after a few days I kept coming up with more and more solutions. He asked:
Do you know of any apps that can markup a photo (e.g. Step 1,2) via iOS extension like Preview or Clarify on OS X? Would just love something with steps and an extension like @clarifyapp for iOS. My #ptbs is that i’m trying to be more iPad-centric and would like to produce 1-2 screenshot guides
I wanted to help James especially because he coined the hashtag #ptbs! I was at a loss though, what app would do what Clarify does but on iOS?
Allison interviews Chase Sherman from Adonit about their series of Jot styluses for iPads and other tablets. Adonit offers the fine point Jot Script and Jot Pro for note taking and hand writing and the pressure sensitive Jot Touch for drawing and creative applications. The setting is the CES 2015 show room floor.
Allison interviews LooptWorks CEO and Co-founder Scott Hamlin about their Bags, Cases and Sleeves made from repurposed materials. LooptWorks takes excess materials from other companies, such as shoe leather and airline seat covers, and turns them into high-end products. By recapturing excess materials Looptworks saves a significant amount of water and other natural resources. The setting is the CES 2015 show room floor.
Allison interviews Isaac Cruz from Braven about their rugged outdoor Bluetooth speakers. Their outdoor BRV-Pro speakers are stackable, have a built-in solar panel accessory for charging and can charge other devices through USB. The BRV-Pro can be mounted to your bike, kayak or other outdoor vehicle with an action sport mount. These speakers are IPX7 rated so they are completely waterproof. The setting is the CES 2015 show room floor.
Allison interviews Lindsay Anthony from Octa about their unique stands and holders for tablets. Octa showed two new kits at CES including the Lynx and the Spider Monkey which both use interchangeable mounting hardware components. The Lynx clamps to flat, round, or irregular surfaces or poles to mount your tablet. The Spider Monkey has a long flexible steel tail that allows you to wrap, curl, or tuck it in place in bed, on the couch, or around a structure to hold your tablet at a convenient height. The setting is the CES 2015 show room floor.
Allison interviews the CEO and founder of 360Heros, Michael Kintner, about his company’s holders and software that supports 360° video using multiple GoPro Hero cameras. The holders are 3D printed flexible cases that support six, seven or ten GoPro Hero3/Hero4 cameras. Their 360 CamMan and 360 Video-Stitch Studio software packages manage the raw video files and stitch together the multiple video streams to form a full 360° video of the scene. 360Heros also provides a mobile app that plays the 360 videos hosted at 360Heros’ site. The app works with the mobile device’s gyro and accelerometer allowing the user to interact with the video. The setting is CES 2105 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.