Jan 31 2012

Updates on my gadget life

Adel Gabot

Some updates.

I got my Amazon credit yesterday. It was quick. As soon as I got home, the code appeared on my email, so I set about redeeming it from Amazon. (The guys from ERegalo wrote me another email confirming receipt, and asked me if I wanted a scanned version of the Amazon gift card. For the heck of it, I said yes, and they promptly sent it to me. Efficient bastards.)

Redemption was quick and painless, and I set about to purchase RetinaPad from Cydia. It went well at first – then hit a roadblock. The payment service said it was the first time I was using Amazon Payments, and could I please confirm my account by telling them my credit card information? Sure, but the problem was, I had no credit card anymore. Not for several years now, in fact. I couldn’t get certified, no matter how many times I tried, no matter if I tried it with my old card number, which apparently, was still stored in their records.

I tried purchasing something from Amazon in the hope that that would certify my account (I bought a Kindle single called My Seinfeld Year for $1.99), and it went through without a hitch, but going back into Cydia, it still asked for a card certification before it would allow my purchase to go through. No choice. I had to get a new credit card.

I don’t know if my old trouble would come back to haunt me, even though I had settled it some years ago, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. So I texted my old friend Topper, whose wife Reggie worked at a bank, and was trying to get me to apply for a new card years ago. He said, yes, it was worth a try, as long as I had some proof of billing, like a couple of cable or phone bills. I’m seeing him tomorrow to give him the papers and for me to accomplish the application forms. Fingers crossed.

On the laptop front, I finally decided to get an 11″ MacBook Air, the one with an i5 processor, with twice the RAM and twice the flash storage. Essentially the top of the line, short of having one built to order. Not that I really needed one, but it would make a great 50th birthday present for me. At least that’s how I justified it.

So I closed the deal for one last Sunday evening. It was good deal, P47k for a two-month old laptop. The original price online was P60k. The problem was, the seller was still a student (or a teacher, I don’t know), and had school, and the earliest he could break away was the weekend. Damn it. So I’ll have to wait, and sit on the cash I set aside already for it. Long damn wait.

So far that’s the state of my gadget life.


Dec 13 2011

Using Blogsy Part Two

Adel Gabot

Ok, I’ve been using the new outdoor setup (my iPad 2, my new Logitech Keyboard Case and SmartBRO unlimited data account) quite extensively the past few days, and I’ve written my two new reviews for Technoodling on it, mostly in cafes, plus quite a number of other things; like chatting with the TN crew, writing blog posts and my usual surfing. I’m glad to say that I kinda like it.

The keyboard is nice, if a bit too bulky and a bit heavy for my taste. It still fits in the Crumpler Herbas, so I guess that’s good. I still don’t like the fact that it keeps the back of the iPad bare and unprotected. Yesterday I went to SM Megamall to have the back protected by Invisible Shield (by Zagg, the very manufacturers of the case who recommend doing this very thing on their site), but hemmed and hawed for an hour before deciding I didn’t need to spend P1,500 to have a plastic sheet, which would eventually yellow and peel off after a few months, stuck to its back. I’d rather have it naked in all its glory, with the regular wear and tear showing up over time. It’s not like I was going to sell it anytime soon anyway.

What also bothers me is something another reviewer said on one of the sites – that the rubber baffles holding the iPad to the case would in time loosen up. As it stands now, everything’s peachy keen: the iPad’s held together with the keyboard case nice and tight, but time will indeed tell.

I’m pretty happy with the unlimited surfing account I got last week from SmartBRO. It’s kinda …no, not kinda, it’s really expensive, but justified. I like that fact that I can surf unmolested anywhere, at anytime, and it’s very liberating. I hardly ever turn it off (and I wonder why I should; only during times when a wifi connection becomes necessary, certainly), and I can’t often tell I’m using 3g instead of wifi.

I like the software I bought in anticipation of this setup. Blogsy, Pages (which I bought some time ago for writing), some image manipulation software and a few social communication apps all serve me in good stead. Blogsy, I’m still getting to know how to use, but it seems to be the most used app. It still has some kinks it hasn’t quite gotten rid of, like inputiing photos. Last night, I had a devil of a time inserting graphics into my WordPress posts for Technoodling, and I had to keep trying until it took. It crashed once so far but hasn’t since. Also, it doen’t consistently show the same options for virtually identical postings: for instance, it showed the option to post something as pending for one article, but didn’t for another. The software also has limited sources for photos. I wish it had provisions for Photobucket, for instance, my photo provider of choice. I didn’t have the same problems on my big iMac setup at home.

On the whole though, I’m pretty happy with the system, as it is now. It stopped my hankering for a new laptop, for one. I’d already set aside P40-50k in the back of my mind for a newish second-hand 11″ Macbook Air, and if this setup didn’t present itself in that online article by Harry McKracken which spoke of him having a new “computer” which is essentially this setup, I would’ve found an Air by now. (My previous old first-gen Macbook Air still works but looks to be on it’s last legs. It can barely run Lion, and a disturbing crack has appeared again on the hinge like before – and this time I have no more Applecare to rely on.)

I like how the keyboard is damned solid, and can seem to take as much abuse as I can dish out. I like how the power lasts and lasts (I charged it once, briefly, when I got it last Saturday, and it’s been steady ever since). I like the power of the iPad and how it lasts for 10 hours. Coupled with the unlimited data account I got, I don’t have to worry about time spent on the system, unlike say, a Macbook Air which would last me around half the time. This computer just lasts and lasts.

I look forward to long, happy days with my new “computer”.


Feb 27 2009

Death by remote

Adel Gabot

remotes

Have you ever tried to count how many remote controls rule your life?

Mine crowd the table like so much driftwood, jostling each other for position. Sometimes I think I’m going to drown in them. The pic above, while slightly intimidating, is even missing a couple. Must be under the bed or under the rack. Or maybe the dogs ate them. (When he was a puppy, Bobby once chewed the AV Receiver’s remote close to death; only 40% of the buttons work now. I still haven’t forgiven him for that—all the settings are on the remote. My bass is permanently overcranked, to the chagrin of my wife.)

Hey, come to think about it, I’m missing four more, actually, if you add all the damned wireless game controllers. Ack. That’s an even dozen. And each of our Macs at home have their own remotes too. That brings it to what, 15? That’s downright ridiculous.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve grabbed one of them and pressed a button only to have something else turn on rather than the one I was meaning to. They all look alike. Four of them have the red-green-yellow-blue AV row which makes them all look like each other. By far, the worst offender is the PS3 remote. Since it runs on Bluetooth, just inadvertently brushing against any of the gazillion buttons on it, whichever way it’s pointing, turns on the PS3 as long as it’s within range. Even Bobby can turn on the PS3.

51vck81umil_sl500_ss75_I have a big, clunky old Pioneer Universal Learning Remote, but I can’t find the manual and can’t remember how to add devices to it. Nothing on the net about it either. Which effectively turns it into a big, clunky old paperweight. Oh, my kingdom for a Logitech Harmony 1100!


Feb 14 2009

Occam’s razor

Adel Gabot

Been trying out the Networked Media Tank called the Popcorn Hour the past few days, and I’m enamored (I’m saving the full review for another day), but one of the few niggles for me is the cheesy name and logo. The fact that this is one of the major irritants is an indication of how wonderful the gadget actually is.

pch1

In brief, the PCH is basically an Apple TV equivalent for half the cost and three times the functionality. It’s a capable media storage device, HD video player and streamer, and best of all, a great standalone, unattended torrenter that runs at just 20W. [Insert cricket sounds here.]

Anyway, let’s get back to the cheesy logo. It’s emblazoned on the top of the device, large and loud, and I felt removing the brand would make the gadget more pro-looking and more serious. I’ve been wondering how to remove it without damaging the surface of the case the past couple of days, and I thought of carefully scraping it off, or maybe use duct tape to lift it from the metal, but felt the finish might come off with it. I thought of finding some solvent or fluid to dissolve it, but there was the same concern.

Then it just occurred to me to just… flip the lid!

pch2

The top is attached by four simple thumbscrews, and when I installed the server-grade hard drive in it a couple of days ago, I remembered seeing that the bottom of the lid had the same finish as the top side – with no logo. It was the same shape and had the holes in the same places. Just reverse it, and voila!

Occam’s Razor—the principle that the simplest, most obvious solution is the often the right one—worked, and I kicked myself that I hadn’t thought of it first. Then it occured to me how Occam’s Razor might also be best applied to our problems in life, and solve them in short order, without fuss or French horns. Simple, direct, obvious solutions to complicated, difficult problems. Problems with work, with the government, with society.

With relationships.

Hmm. A Valentine’s Day reflection, if there ever was one. (Borne of geekery, yet. Who’da thunk it?)

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

pch3