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CPR – Cell Phone Repair Service in the Bay Area September 11, 2008

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, Technology, Worth a Look, Worth the Money.
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Mobile phones are more indispensable than ever. And, more expensive than ever if you’ve got a smart one that can do everything but cook dinner for you.

At any rate, the folks at CPR in San Jose, CA can help you fix that phone when you drop it or damage it. If you don’t live in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you’re still able to get a phone repaired by shipping them the damaged phone.

One of my colleagues took a few phones there and said the prices are reasonable and the service is good. Cell Phone Repair will also provide you with free estimates so that you’ll know how much money it will cost before deciding to fix it.

One of the postcards I’ve received from them states the following:

  1. Authorized repair center for Motorola, Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Sanyo.
  2. Most repairs done on the spot.
  3. Repairs include: Liquid damage, cracked LCD, dropped phone, shattered, no sound.
  4. iPod repair also available.

Keep this option in mind if you’d rather pay a little to get a phone fixed instead of paying a lot to get it replaced.


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Green Umbrella Offers Cheap Extended Service Plans For Electronics September 7, 2008

Posted by Mike in Hardware, Online Service, Reviews, Technology, Worth a Look.
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For $9.95 per month, Green Umbrella offers ONE extended service plan to cover all kinds of electronic products in your home or office, from alarm clocks to LCD Flat Panels.

Click here for a comprehensive list of covered products.

Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about their service: FAQs

I glanced through some of the FAQs and here are some things to know:

  1. Mobile phones are not covered.
  2. Items that cost greater than $5000 are not covered
  3. You must register your items to be covered with their service
  4. You must have your original receipts to be eligible for coverage.

I have not used them myself. I thought the concept was worth mentioning for people who may want a service plan after the basic or extended warranty runs out their equipment.

If you’ve had an experience with Green Umbrella, good or bad, please share it.

If you use an alternate service that you like, I’d appreciate a comment with that info too!


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An Ode to the New Hands-Free Driving Law in California July 1, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, Fun, Hands-free, Hardware, Humor, News, Poem, Technology.
2 comments

An Ode to Hands-Free Driving in California

California drivers, July 1st is here!

Get that cell phone out of your ear!

Hands free is the way to be

Or you’ll get fined by the CHP

If you want to drive hands free

A BLUETOOTH ear piece is the key

Driving and dialing just isn’t shrewd

(Not to mention a tiny bit rude)

But take heart, Dear Drivers

Don’t feel vexed

The law still allows you to text!

(That’s it. This agonizing poem is done. Thanks for reading. Rhyming is fun.)

Get answers to the FAQs about the law from the California DMV.

Get Fit! Technology That Moves You June 28, 2008

Posted by Mike in Blogging, exercise, family, geocaching, Hardware, health, iPod, Reviews, Software, Technology, Worth the Money.
7 comments

What other technology products out there are designed to help you exercise or enjoy the outdoors?

The excitement surrounding the release of the Nintendo Wii Fit got me thinking about this question.

I spent a little time browsing Amazon.com and came up with a few technology gadgets — with many positive user reviews — that will help you get off your couch and get outside (or at least break a sweat inside):

Wii Fit

Exercise without leaving the comfy confines of your own living room. With Nintendo’s addictively fun Wii game system, this new software package will get you exercising in four key areas: Strength Training, Aerobics, Yoga and Balance Games. The games and activities are designed to appeal to all ages, so Mom and Dad can enjoy it just as much as the kids.

Price: $171 on Amazon.com

Apple Nike + iPod Sport Kit for iPod nano 1G, 2G, 3G

This is actually an add-on package for an iPod Nano. You’ll need to buy the Nano iPod separately.

“Consisting of a wireless sensor and receiver, the Nike + iPod Sport Kit works exclusively with your Nike+ shoes and iPod nano to give you real-time feedback during workouts.” – Amazon product description.

Price: $29.00 on Amazon.com

Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS with High Sensitivity GPS

This one intrigues me. GPS devices like this one have led to an explosion in popularity of a game called geocaching. In a nutshell, geocaching is a game of high tech treasure hunting. Players hide “caches” in various places, like parks or camp sites or even urban locations. The map coordinates of the cache are then posted online and other players can go and search for it using a handheld GPS.

For a full description of geocaching, please visit The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site

Geocaching sounds like a great family activity. I fully intend to play when my sons get a little older. When the time comes, I’ll take my friend Chris up on his offer to join him on a treasure hunt one day.

While there are a great many varieties of handheld GPS devices, this one is under $100 and should fit the budget of most families.

Price: $93.16 on Amazon.com

Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer

Amazon Product Description:

“The HJ-112 accurately measures your steps, as well as aerobic steps and minutes. You can also use it to measure calorie consumption during your workout, as well as the distance you’ve traveled.”

Price: $19.82 on Amazon.com

So, now you can have your “tech” and exercise too. I’ll see you outdoors. Don’t worry about that big ball of light in the sky. That’s called the sun. It’s a good thing. Have fun!

Find Answers to Your Computer Questions on YouTube January 8, 2008

Posted by Mike in Hardware, Learning, Technology, Training, Videos.
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It’s easy to overlook the usefulness of YouTube amid the abundance of entertaining video clips posted by its users.

YouTube’s vast collection of how-to videos can help you with your computer repair questions.

For example, this video clip shows you how to replace a mother board in a Dell Optiplex small form factor PC.


Most folks start with Google or Yahoo to find their answers. YouTube’s videos don’t often find their way onto the search results.


Be sure to search the site itself if you don’t find what you need from one of the search engines.

Retrevo Helps Answer Your Tech Questions Quickly December 5, 2007

Posted by Mike in Freebies, Hardware, iPod, News, Online Service, Reviews, Technology.
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The catch phrase on their web site is “matching people and electronics.”  Retrevo.com compiles lots of useful information about a product in a matter of seconds. 

Need a product review before you buy? Retrevo has them.  I typed in iPod Touch and Retrevo listed expert reviews at ilounge.com, zdnet.com and playlistmag.com.

Need a manual for an electronics product?  Retrevo can help find them. I typed in HP Deskjet 5850 and the site found the manual for me.  True, I can go to HP.com to get it, but then it may take a few minutes to narrow my search and find the manual.  Retrevo got the link for me in less than 5 seconds.

Doing the math:  If time=money, then time saved=money saved.  Retrevo’s service will save you money!  Of course, that’s far-fetched claim that you won’t find anywhere on their site, but maybe it’ll help you find the best deal on that iPod Touch which could save you some real coin.

Want to shop for a Slingbox?  Retrevo will give you plenty of sites to browse.

Retrevo will also list blogs, forums and manufacturing info on a given product (when available).

Trust me, this site is worth a look and a bookmark in your favorites.

Iomega’s eGo – An External Hard Drive in Disguise November 22, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Hardware, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

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Hard drive or flask? I think this USB external hard drive has an identity crisis! Maybe I’m imagining it, but the Iomega eGo looks like a flask to me; especially if you pick the black or silver color.

If that’s not enough to make you smile, the name itself is funny. eGo? Or should I type ego?

If they’re targeting self-centered, narcissistic customers then they’ve named the device well. This reminds me of Chevy’s decision to sell the Chevy Nova in Spain without renaming it. After all, translated into Spanish, “nova” means “no go.” Of course, the eGo name doesn’t damage the product’s reputation, but I think Iomega’s marketing team have taken the “e” naming scheme (ebook, ecard, etc) a bit too far.

Jokes aside, it looks to me like Iomega’s external hard drive offers plenty of storage space and comes in a variety of snazzy colors. It can probably be considered a good option for data backups, just like the Western Digital Passport or Seagate FreeAgent Go external hard drives.

WildCharger: A Wireless Charging Pad for Your Mobile Devices November 21, 2007

Posted by Mike in Hardware, iPod, Technology, Worth the Money.
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No cord needed to charge your mobile phone? I haven’t seen anything quite like it, but yes, that’s the idea. By purchasing and attaching a compatible adapter onto your mobile phone, you can then simply place the phone onto the charging pad without connecting a cord.

You need two things to make it work: one a WildCharge adapter for your mobile device (mp3 player, iPod, mobile phone, PDA, etc) and the charging pad itself.

Here’s a link to their web site explaining how it works.

After looking at their web site, WildCharge, the manufacturer, has already made a charging adapter that snaps onto the back of the Motorola RAZR mobile phone.

They are working on an iPod Nano charging adapter as well as a Blackberry charging adapter, but neither can be purchased in their online store at this time.

It’s a novel idea, but may be limited by their ability to design and manufacture customized charging adapters for each type of device. Consumers may not want to purchase multiple charging adapters for their multitude of mobile devices either.

They’ve already received some good publicity and rewards for innovation, which you can read about in their Press Room.

In the News: Palm Apps to Run on Nokia’s Internet Tablets November 16, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, News, Software, Technology.
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It looks like thousands of applications designed for the Palm OS platform will get new life on Nokia’s 700, N800 and N810 Internet Tablets.

I found this article today while browsing eweek.com.

 Read Henry Kingman’s article.

Kids and Computers: Worried about Online Safety? Consider ‘KidSafe’ November 11, 2007

Posted by Mike in Hardware, Online Service, Technology, Worth the Money.
2 comments

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Are you worried about your kid’s unsupervised access on a computer in your home?

I know that I will be one day. At the moment, my two year olds are only savvy enough to open the CD-Rom tray and power off my PC (with a grin, of course).

In many homes, kids are the “tech” experts which makes controlling their PC access all the more difficult.

Here’s an easy question: How do you stop your teenager from driving your car?

Answer: Take away the keys.

While window shopping on ThinkGeek today, I saw an ad for a USB computer “key.”

No key, no computer. It’s literally that simple.

You have a key for your car, why not your computer?

If the USB key is in your pocket, you’ll know that your kids aren’t on your computer.

Here’s the web site for more information on the product: KidSafe.

Additional info:

Facts about online safety

Watch a quick video, get some quick facts

Here’s some links to the product in the news:

News article 1

News article 2

News article 3


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Do Your Part to Reduce E-waste: Resources for Computer and Electronics Recycling August 25, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, PC ABCs, Technology.
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Recycle for Earth image

Governments and businesses are beginning to offer good options for consumers to wisely dispose of their old computer and electronics equipment.

The goal is to keep these items out of landfills because the components inside of these devices are often harmful or toxic if not disposed of properly.

The state of California seems to have taken the lead in promoting e-Waste recycling. As a result, Californians have a growing number of options available to them when it comes time to part with a computer, TV, VCR, etc.

I’ve compiled a brief list of recycling options to help folks understand the options available to them.

Recycling Programs sponsored by Businesses

ComputerTakeBack.com compiled a list titled, Which computer company will take back your old computer?

Computerworld.com has posted an article titled Sony to offer e-waste Recycling in the USA.

Earth911.org announced that Staple’s first major retailer to accept e-waste

General Recycling Info

eRecycle.org offers Californians the option to find an eWaste Recycling Center in California.

Recycleforbreastcancer.org is a local recycling option for San Francisco Bay Area as is RapidRecycle.net.

GreenPeace offers a Guide to Greener Electronics and reports on which companies are leading the way in improving their manufacturing processes.

EPA.gov offers basic information on recycling or donating computer equipment.

 

 

Western Digital Passport: An Excellent Option for Backing Up Your Data to an External Hard Drive August 17, 2007

Posted by Mike in Data Backup, Hardware, Reviews, Technology, Worth the Money.
223 comments

Western Digital Passport External Drive

I currently use a 120GB Western Digital Passport external drive to backup my data. It’s sleek, small and looks like a James Bond gadget.

I’ve used a Seagate FreeAgent external drive as well and I like the WD Passport device better.

Best Features of the WD Passport:

User-friendly software bundled on the drive, WD Sync by Dmailer, is great (much better than Seagate’s software, in my opinion).

  1. It allows me to setup multiple computer profiles so I can sync data from different PCs onto one device.
  2. I can password protect each profile.
  3. I can use a Windows Explorer-esque interface to select the files and folders I want to back up.
  4. I can review the files that I’ve backed up.
  5. The software can backup IE or FireFox Favorites.
  6. Emails and Contacts in Outlook or Outlook Express with a few clicks.
  7. Email SETTINGS can also be backed up with a click or two.
  8. Functions like “synchronize” and “copy to PC” are easily found on the main screen.

Worst Features

Based on the comments posted to this blog entry, I’d have to say the worst feature is a lack of user guides or online “how to” tutorials for customers.

Additional Limitations of the WD Sync software:

  1. The software only SYNCS data. If you backup a folder from your hard drive to the Passport device, this doesn’t mean that you can then delete that folder from your hard drive. Why? The next time you sync the WD Sync software will remove that folder from the Passport device. It considers your hard drive the “master copy” of the data. Any changes that are made to the master copy will be applied to the data on the Passport device when the next time you sync. If you want to avoid this situation, don’t use the WD Sync software that comes with the device. Instead, use the Passport device as a very large flash drive. You can manually copy/paste files to the external drive without using the WD Sync software.
  2. Given the issue in #1, I would suggest not using the “automatic synchronization” option in the WD Sync software. This features starts the sync process the moment after you enter in your profile password. Why not? Let’s say that you have a hard drive failure. Luckily, your data is synced to your Passport drive, right? Well, I’m concerned that if you get a new hard drive and connect the Passport device, the WD Sync software will notice that the new hard drive doesn’t have any of the files and folders from the last sync. When it runs automatic synchronization, you may then lose the backup copy of your data! I haven’t tested this theory out (don’t want to risk it), but it seems plausible. Instead, I’d uncheck the automatic synchronization option found on the OPTIONS menu.
  3. I wish the WD Sync software was smart enough to automatically include any new sub-folders in the sync process. For example, I have a folder called “My Digital Photos”. Inside that folder, I have many sub-folders. Each time I transfer photos from my digital camera, a new sub-folder is created. Despite having the parent folder (My Digital Photos) checked as a folder to sync, the WD Sync software will not sync the new folders because those folders did not exist during the last synchronization. Instead, I must use the WD Sync software to locate those new folders and place a checkmark next to them. This will include them in the sync process.

The WD Passport comes in a variety of storage sizes, like 60GB, 80GB, 120GB, 250GB etc. I would recommend it to anyone looking to use an external USB hard drive because the user-friendly software really makes a big difference to me.

The Future of Mobile Computing? Palm’s Folēo, a mobile companion for Treo Smartphones. August 14, 2007

Posted by Mike in Business, Hardware, Technology.
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Foleo and Treo 

The answer is NO.  It’s not the future of mobile computing.  Palm has scrapped plans for the Foleo.  Read all about it on Palm’s official blog. 

As Palm sees it, smartphones like the Treo are the wave of the future. Small devices packed with information and capabilities. However, these über-smart devices have two key limitations: small screens and small keyboards.

The solution? A mobile companion device called Folēo that turns on in an instant and offers users a 10″ screen and a full QWERTY keyboard.

Is it a laptop? No.

It uses Bluetooth to wirelessly sync your emails from your Treo to the Folēo so you can view them and respond to them on a big screen with a full keyboard.

It also allows you to edit MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents as well as display PowerPoint presentations.

I have yet to see the device in person and I do not believe they are for sale yet. However, Palm claims the device turns on in an instant (no need to boot up like Windows). It also has 5 hours of battery life.

You can read all about it on Palm’s web site.

After viewing an online demonstration and reading some of the fine print, here is what I’ve learned about Folēo:

PROS

  • Big Screen
  • Big Keyboard
  • Long Battery Life
  • WiFi capability
  • Attachment support includes viewing and editing Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz® Documents To Go®. You can also view PDF documents as well as JPG, GIF, and PNG images.

CONS

  • Attachment support only includes viewing and editing Microsoft® Word, Excel® and PowerPoint® files with DataViz® Documents To Go®. You can also view PDF documents as well as JPG, GIF, and PNG images.
  • Requires compatible phone with Bluetooth® wireless technology.
  • Email requires data services on the phone from a mobile service provider at an additional cost.
  • Does not support local or streaming video.

UNKNOWN (to me, at least)

  • Any USB ports?
  • Any video adapters for connecting to a projector?
  • How much does it weigh?

Even with these cons and unknowns, I’m still intrigued by the concept. For web browsing, email answering, photo viewing and PowerPointing, I think the device will be satisfactory for business, educational or recreational purposes.  I can see it being used at airports, cafes, classrooms, small meetings and presentations.

The introductory price is $499 after a $100 mail in rebate. Of course, you have to own a compatible phone too.

Has Palm created the next great device? Time will tell.

It won’t be as innovative as the iPhone, but it definitely has the potential to improve the mobile computing experience.

The folks at engadget have used one.  Click here to see what they think.

For a detailed description of its capabilities, read this article from PalmInfoCenter.