Jump Start Your Car with the Portable PowerAll Power Bank

Powerall power bank jump starter batteryBack in 2014, I sent a link to my mechanic, Honda Bob, to a product that I thought was a joke. It was a small, portable battery that supposedly you could use to jump start your car. Like I said, I assumed it was a joke, but he immediately bought one to test it out. He reported back with a blog post about how it actually worked!
The device is called the PowerAll Power Bank, and it comes in two sizes, 16,000mAh and 12,000mAh.

After Honda Bob’s vote of approval, I bought one for each of our cars, and for each of our kids cars.

You might be asking yourself why I’m telling you about this again if you’ve already heard about it in 2014.

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Antec Smartbean Adds Bluetooth to Any Headphones

People are losing their ever-loving minds over the possibility that Apple may get rid of the headphone jack on the next iPhone. I’ve talked about the Antec Smartbean before but I decided to make a video for Megan Morrone and Leo Laporte to play on iOS Today. I thought it might be a good device for people who don’t want to buy all new headphones.

I did about 8 takes before finally nailing the video…but Ada decided to help. Being the consummate professional, I kept that part in.

Amazon link to the Smartbean: http://amzn.to/2aYik6I

Using a Screen Reader? click here

When You Need a Heavy Duty Lightning Cable – RadTech ProCable UHD

RadTech ProCable UHD 10ftI’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they’re always destroying their Lighting cables by running over them with their chairs, or getting them caught on something, or bending them so that the wires fray at the connector joint.

The only solution seemed to be to buy cheaper cables but buy them in bulk because they were so easy to destroy. Cheap cables can get really expensive after a while though, and you hate to be caught out with one that has failed when you really need it.

If you’re this rough on cables, you might want to take a look at the RadTech ProCable UHD. RadTech sent me two of these cables and they really are industrial strength. The cables themselves have a really nice looking black and grey woven jacketing over them that makes them stiff but still flexible enough to bend. RadTech says that they’re double-shielded to protect against interference from RF noise. The strain relief at the connector joint is super stiff plastic and I couldn’t get a tight bend to form to even test whether it would wear. Continue reading “When You Need a Heavy Duty Lightning Cable – RadTech ProCable UHD”

Ricoh Theta S “360” Camera Review

Theta first photoSteve loves photography and videography, having a barrel of fun with his iPhone 6s and his GoPro Hero 3. The GoPro’s ultra wide angle lets him take selfies with a lot of people in the photo. One of his favorite photos (which has been Lindsay’s cover photo for ages) is one of his entire family, 22 of us, all in one shot. That’s really hard to get with any other kind of camera. He also gets phenomenal shots of scenery with his GoPro, often with the two of us in the close foreground. Landscape photography alone can be a bit boring and selfies alone get overdone, but a combination can be a nice change.

There’s only one thing cooler than an ultra wide photo from a GoPro, and that’s the new 360 degree photos and videos you can get with specialized cameras. Before we go too far, I want to acknowledge that “360 degree” isn’t technically correct, because in reality these photos are 4π steradians. Degrees (or radians) only describe one dimension, you need 4π steradians to describe all directions at once. But for the purpose of not sounding like the nerd ball I am, I will use the conventional 360 term. Know that it bugs me every time I say it though.

Alex Lindsay on MacBreak Weekly bought a 360 camera called the Ricoh Theta S and used it to take a photo of 30 of his relatives at his father’s 90th birthday party. He put the camera in the middle of the table and had everyone gather in a circle. It’s so cool! I knew that Steve would love one of these. Luckily Father’s day is coming up soon so I bought one for him early and couldn’t wait to give it to him. The Ricoh Theta S is $350 on Amazon right now, so think GoPro pricing.
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Apple TV + Siri = Joy

03_ATV_search showing star trek and searchable areasSteve and I bought the first generation Apple TV and we disliked it so much we sold it to Jonathan Cost for $50 just to get it out of our house. We bought gen 2 and 3 and liked them quite a bit better. Our use is split between Airplay (video podcasts thrown to the TV from an iPad) and renting movies on iTunes. There’s some Netflix here and there but we tend to reach for the Roku for Netflix a little more often. We also use it to watch the Apple Keynotes but of course that’s only a couple of times a year.

We definitely do not NEED another Apple TV but we were definitely swayed by the cool new remote. Even if the old Apple TV remote wasn’t the worst piece of doodoo Apple had ever invented, the new remote has some wicked cool features, like Siri search that were just too compelling to ignore. The interface of the new 4th gen Apple TV looked pretty too, and the possibility of cool new apps sounded swell.
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Are They Magic?

new_old_magic_trackpad side viewI was very excited when the new Apple gear got announced this year. While I wasn’t going to get an iPhone 6s because it was Steve’s turn, I was still really looking forward to getting a new AppleTV and a new iPad Pro and it’s new keyboard and especially the Pencil. But the months have gone by and I still didn’t have ANY new toys to play with. Watch OS2 and iOS 9 and El Capitan were mildly entertaining for a day or two, but there was nothing ground breaking there either. I was bored.

So when Apple announced the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2, I thought, why not? You’ll notice I haven’t framed a problem to be solved other than boredom, so let’s see if we can back into some justification. Work with me here, ok?

Many of us have moved away from wired input devices in favor of wireless keyboards, mice and trackpads. We’re far too ecologically minded to use disposable batteries so we’ve become masters at rechargeable batteries. We have rotation schedules with multiple battery chargers, we’ve kept metrics on which batteries are best, and have at least read, if not participated in, lengthy discussion online of our opinions on the subject. mAh is a household word for us.
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Armband You Might Actually Like from iGadgitz & Bone Conducting Headphones from Damson

Guest Review by Bart Busschots of bartb.ie – Cycling With My iPhone

igadgitz_armband as described

My preferred form of exercise is cycling. I want to have my iPhone with me for two reasons – to play podcasts, and to track my workout. Physically doing that is not as easy as you might think.

I tried slipping my iPhone into the back pocket of my cycle jersey, and running the cable from my headphones down through the jersey, then up and around into the pocket from the bottom. That stopped me snagging the cable on things (I broke so many headphones that way over the years), but I soon noticed that those back pockets don’t stay dry on a good workout, so that wouldn’t work.

Next I tried a cheap armband with my wired headphones. The cheap armband refused to stay on my arm, even when tightened uncomfortably tightly, and it’s not even water proof, so after a very narrow escape from a heavy Irish shower, and breaking ANOTHER set of headphones by snagging the cable on something, I decided it was time to re-think things.

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Fun Little Camera: HTC RE Review from George from Tulsa

4 photos in a collage. 1st is of the RE itself looking like an inhaler, other 3 show the wide angle views you get with itGoogle just told me a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Or a small horse.

Years ago, back when I had a film SLR and lots of lenses, flashes, and related gear, photography stopped being mostly fun about the time I was invited to a wedding, asked to bring my camera, then learned on arrival the budget-constrained bride was relying on me instead of a paid professional. That’s not a hobby, because it sure wasn’t a pleasure.

I like taking pictures. My daughter, the art school graduate married to a professional photographer, lured me into buying a camera to shoot RAW, then gave me a brief starter tutorial in how to tweak RAW and edit my photos further in Photoshop. Hey, that’s work! And as a reminder of my earleer escape from that rabbit hole, along came an invitation to the family reunion, and, oh, yes, please bring your new camera.
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Will Bienna’s $24 Bluetooth 4.1 Headphones Work for Me?

green version of the headphonesI had the opportunity to test out a review unit of the Bienna Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless Sport Headphones Sweatproof Exercise Stereo Earphones. That’s an awfully long name so for brevity I’ll call them the Bienna Headphones. You may recall that I’ve tested out several Bluetooth options, none of which worked very well when I was running. I didn’t want to blame the headphones though. The problem is that if my phone is in my Spibelt, the little belt I use to hold the phone tight upgainst my back or my belly, all Bluetooth headphones I tested would cut in and out. If I hold the phone in my hand, or if I use those same headphones with my iPad resting on the stand of the elliptical machine at the gym, I have no problems with the sound cutting in and out.

I call this a personal problem because Steve uses the Jabra Sport headphones I really wanted to love and they work great for him – and he’s using a Spibelt to hold his phone too. I had resigned myself to using wired headphones. I should mention that if the Jabra Sport headphones intrigued you back when I reviewed them, the price has dropped from $100 down to $58 just recently.
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Inspire the Youngins this Summer with littleBits

light sensor and other modules as describedIt’s summer time in the northern hemisphere and all of the little munchkins have detailed plans on how to spend their vacation. These plans include sleeping in, eating cocoa puffs in front of the TV watching The Price is Right and maybe fill out the afternoon playing video games. If you’re lucky they will work in an impromptu soccer game outdoors to get some fresh air and exercise. This sounds like a grand plan but about a week later their brains have turned to mush and they’re whining about being bored. And there’s our problem to be solved.

Enter littleBits from littlebits.cc. Think of littleBits as a cross between Heathkit and Lego. littleBits are these little bitty modular components that you stick together with their built in magnets to create circuits that do something. Let’s start with the simplest example. Hook a 9 volt battery up to the power switch (using a standard 9-volt connector). Then stick a motor module to it. Turn on the switch, and the motor turns. Yay – our first circuit! It’s literally as simple as that to get started. No soldering, no wiring, just click the components together and see what happens.
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