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Random musings on technology and gadgets

Last Build Date: Sun, 23 Oct 2016 15:58:47 +0000


Amazon Echo DotAmazon Echo Dot

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 16:29:51 +0000

You may have seen my review on the original Amazon Echo (Alexa). Everyone I know that has an Amazon Echo loves it. There are so many things it is useful for. In our Kitchen we use it to tell us the News, turn lights on and off "Alexa turn off all the lights", ordering stuff from Amazon and streaming Spotify.

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Dyson Supersonic Hair DryerDyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

Sun, 16 Oct 2016 18:00:00 +0000

In general, there is always a product out there to replace something you have. I'm always looking for things that change the status quo. In this case, the hair dryer (not even a product I use). Every day I listen to the hair dryer as my wife is using it, and let me tell you... those things are noisy (and ugly). Try and buy a new one. It's a rather miserable set of choices. That's why when Dyson announced they were making a hair dryer long ago, I put this on my research list. A few weeks ago, I aquired a white Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer from Sephora as a gift for Lora, and I have to say, it's an engineering marvel, and a thing of beauty. Rather than tell you what I like about it, I decided to interview Lora.

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Logitech POPLogitech POP

Sun, 02 Oct 2016 15:25:45 +0000

The Logitech POP is an exceptional addition to the smart home. The POP is a programmable button that you can configure to do a number of useful things in any smart home. They have a removable adhesive that you can attach to a wall or table.

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iPhone 7iPhone 7

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 17:07:58 +0000

So much has been written about this phone. A lot of opinion about "should you get it or not". That kind of commentary is utterly useless to me. Here is the thing. A long time ago, I decided that there was at least one luxury I wanted to enjoy. And that was a brand new iPhone ever year. There are a few reasons for this... some obvious now and some not so obvious. Beyond the fact that my team produces software for the iPhone, I also just want to experience everything new about it as soon as it's ready. It also means experiencing the changes Apple is making to the broader ecosystem (like removing the headphone jack). So with that said, I'll do a quick overview of why I think the iPhone 7 is an obvious upgrade.

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Circle - Mobile Parental Controls for your KidsCircle - Mobile Parental Controls for your Kids

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 17:49:19 +0000

Every once and a while you encounter a device that delivers on the "plug and play" promise. Circle is a parental control device that requires no changes to your network. You plug it in to power, ethernet and install a mobile app and you are on your way to protecting your children and gaining insight into their device usage.

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Eero vs Luma - Surround WifiEero vs Luma - Surround Wifi

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 15:22:50 +0000

Wifi has been with us for a very long time now. I'm fortunate that my house is wired for ethernet, which means I have generally had a glorious blanket of high speed internet everywhere... well almost. For my family though, that's another matter. Wifi is infuriating to get everywhere in the house. These days with printers, and tablets and Alexa, Sonos and other devices, it's really critical that you have Wifi signal everywhere in your house.   However, the standard tech out there does not solve for this. I have tried every kind of wifi range extender and other things to solve this problem over the years and only been frustrated by the results.  Being away from their homes, and being "tech support" further complicated this. To make matters worse, my own wifi needs have grown to require wifi to blanket the outside of my house to power things like my Ring Doorbell, Outdoor Dropcams and Sprinkler System. Heck, I also needed wifi in my garage for the Tesla! In addition, wifi has gotten faster over the years, and I also wanted the best / fastest Wifi everywhere. 802.11ac is the newest wifi standard, and with my 120 MBps internet service, I want all that data speed to get to my devices. To date, the gold standard in simplicity, reliability and ease of use (manage from your phone) is Apple's Airport devices. But no more. Enter the new kids on the block, eero and luma.

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Prepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring SpoonsPrepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring Spoons

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 17:01:33 +0000

In the category of stuff you never think about are your measuring scoops. A few years ago, I found these cool magnetic measuring scoops that I love. 

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Joseph Joseph TriScale Compact Folding Digital ScaleJoseph Joseph TriScale Compact Folding Digital Scale

Sun, 07 Aug 2016 17:31:27 +0000

As I write this on Vashon Island I am enjoying a great cup of coffee. If you have read my post on how I make coffee, you'll know that I like pour over and when traveling will take a Hario V60 cone withs some paper filters. On this trip I brought a Chemex 6 cup pour over to satisfy the coffee needs of 3 people. I greatly prefer pour over than french press for producting a cleaner, less gritty cup with easier clean up (just toss the filter and grounds into the compost or trash). The key part of any pour over system is a digital scale. This is because a pour over uses very simple weight measurements to dose the right amount of coffee and water. The math is very simple. 55g of coffee for every 1000g of water (or 1000ml of water since water volume and weight in metric is the same). So for 3 cups of coffee, I will use 50g of coffee and 900ml of water in the Chemex 6-cup, or half of that if I just want one large cup for me. Recenly I purchased a great little travel scale, the Joseph Joseph TriScale .

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Rachio Smart Sprinkler ControllerRachio Smart Sprinkler Controller

Sun, 31 Jul 2016 18:25:16 +0000

In my quest to make everything in my home "smart" I recently got a smart sprinkler controller, the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller.

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The Knapp Made Chainmail ScrubberThe Knapp Made Chainmail Scrubber

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 16:31:27 +0000

One of the things I love about my Cook's Illustrated Magazine Subscription are the product reviews and recommendations. This past month, they reviewed a really interesting product: a Chainmail Scrubber.

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App Review: Day OneApp Review: Day One

Sun, 10 Jul 2016 14:00:06 +0000

I'm going to start a series of app reviews. My first post is on a Journaling app called DayOne. Lora and I have been using DayOne for a few years now to document our kids growing up. We also document our travel and a few other things. The reality of our photos these days is that they are incredible tools for photographing and documenting life's memories and moments, but the easy of capture means that are camera rolls are a jumbled mess of pictures mixing things, people, places, documents and so on. No one wants to organize this and we are a few years out from amazing AI to clean all this up for us. Even if we did have that amazing AI, I find that I like adding a few bits of text here and there to augment memories, places and events. DayOne is an absolutely awesome app for doing all this stuff and I really appreciate how it gives us a diary of our lives.

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Omar’s Finds July 4 : 15 FindsOmar’s Finds July 4 : 15 Finds

Mon, 04 Jul 2016 16:26:20 +0000

01 Devices: Anker introduced a new charger that can charge the MacBook 12 at full speed over USB-C (29W)  02 Headphones: Intel wants USB-C to replace the headphone jack. Apple wants lightning connector to replace the headphone jack.  03 Headphones: Bose updated their very popular noise cancelling headphones with a wireless version. The QC35 now supports bluetooth and comes in an awesome black color. 04 Headphones: Bose also announced the SoundSport wireless headphones that are priced well and look great as daily walk around headphones. 05 Headphones: Bang & Olufsen also got in on the wireless headphone action with the B&O PLAY H5. It seems everyone is shipping products ahead of the rumored removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. I like the wireless charging dock for these headphones, but at $100 over the Bose, I hope they are that much better. 06 Books: On a recommendation from a friend, we picked up the Thing Explainer for our daughter. It’s an awesome illustrated book from Randall Munroe (XKCD).  07 Tools: I really want to get a set of linesman’s pliers. Probably these  from Wiha, a german tool maker. 08 Kitchen: Cook’s Illustrated recently rated the Knapp Made Small Ring Chainmail Scrubber the best way to clean an iron pan. I’ve always wanted to own some chainmail. 09 Kitchen: I’ve been looking for a travel scale to take on trips so that I can make great pour-over coffee. The Joseph Joseph TriScale looks to fit the bill. 10 Beer: I recently discovered the Miir Growler. It’s awesome. So are the rest of their products such as tumblers, camp cups and water bottles. Miir is a local Seattle Company 11 Beach: I backed these micro fiber beach towels and just received them. They are amazing. So compact and the same size as a normal towel. 12 Solar: Deep into the solar production season here in Seattle, I continue to be impressed with how well our solar array is doing. I don’t think I’ll be paying for electricity for a few years. From the looks of things, Solar is just going to get cheaper and more common. 13 Wifi: I can’t wait to get my Luma devices. Luma is a competitor to Eero. I decided on Luma due to their better parental control features. they should arrive by the end of the month 14 Elon Musk: You can now purchase the awesome Elon Musk Blog Series on Kindle by Tim Urban. Elon Musk is currently the most impactful human being I can think of. I highly recommend reading this series. 14 Apps: Streaks is a cool goal oriented app for iOS and Apple Watch. It’s good for setting goal setting if you are disciplined enough to do that. It’s got a nice complication and built in integration to the Activity and Health apps on iOS.  15 Education: Osmo, the awesome iPad educational tool I reviewed released a coding kit. I’ll be getting this.

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August Smart Lock - HomeKit EditionAugust Smart Lock - HomeKit Edition

Sun, 03 Jul 2016 17:26:14 +0000

I previously reviewed the August Smart Lock and gave it 3 stars. Back in that review I mentioned the following issues with the lock 1. Auto unlock does not always work. 2. The auto lock (ever lock) was not customizable enough 3. The auto lock can damage your door frame if the door is not completely shut when the August attempts to lock the door. 4. The battery door is held in by magnets, and often people in our house turn the lock and inadvertently unseat the battery cover In the time I owned the original August, issues #1 and #2 were solved through better software. In that time the software has really matured a lot. But August released a new version of their lock, and this review is about that.

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Bellroy Travel WalletsBellroy Travel Wallets

Sun, 26 Jun 2016 18:03:09 +0000

For Christmas last year I asked for a Leather Travel Wallet. I wanted something that could hold two passports, currency, travel cards and other items such as a boarding pass. My research took me to Bellroy, a company that makes a number of great leather products (wallets, iPhone cases, travel wallets). They make 3 different Travel Wallets.

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YETI Hopper CoolerYETI Hopper Cooler

Sun, 19 Jun 2016 16:33:05 +0000

I bet you aren't thinking, gee I need a new cooler. I wasn't either. That was until I was at our amazing YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island in the fall and saw a dad with what looked like a huge picnic bag, but it was really a cooler. After hauling my heavy, large awkward cooler down to the beach I made a note to check it out.

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AR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Pressure WasherAR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Pressure Washer

Sun, 12 Jun 2016 16:28:23 +0000

After a year of living in Seattle, I experienced what most people soon come to know. A blanket of green growth on nearly every outdoor surface come spring. So a few years go, without knowing anything about Power Washers, I purchased a tiny / small portable power washer. After a season of usage, and a lot of elbow grease I started researching a replacement (as well as other techniques).  The main complaint I had with my old pressure washer was that it was inconvenient to use often (lots of hoses and power cords without proper storage) and it was not strong enough, clocking in at 1500 psi. My first thought was get a gas power washer. So I borrowed my neighbor's. That didn't work out so well. For one thing, I didn't find it was so much more powerful that it warranted all the headache of dealing with gas. It was also much heavier and louder. At the same time, most of the power washers I was reading about on Amazon, did not have great reviews. It seemed they all suffered from some kind of problem (cheap construction, breaking, poor hoses and so on). That is when I discovered a new power washer, the AR Blue Clean AR390SS Electric Pressure Washer. This is a 2000 psi electric power washer. 2000 psi is pretty impressive for an electric washer, and gets you close, but not quite there, for the gas units. 

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Haflinger AS Classic SlipperHaflinger AS Classic Slipper

Sun, 05 Jun 2016 17:45:21 +0000

A few months ago I decided to replace my decade old house slippers. I headed over to the Sweet Home and read their review of the best slippers for Men and Women. Next stop was Zappos where I ordered two sizes of the AS (indoor slipper), my true size (12) and a size up (13). Thanks to Zappos VIP I had the slippers next day, and found that these slippers ran small and the 13 was the right size. You may have similar results. The great thing about Zappos is you can order as much as you want and return things that don't fit.

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On Running Cloud SneakersOn Running Cloud Sneakers

Sun, 15 May 2016 15:00:00 +0000

A few years back my brother-in-law introduced me to these running shoes made by a Canadian company called On Running. I was intrigued by the look. Also the fact that they were not the mass market Nike Free that everyone seems to wear. I'm not a fan of the Free as we have a lot of gravel pavements in Seattle, and it seems gravel loves to get wedged in them. But I love the weight and lightness of them. Last year I picked up a pair of the On Running Cloud edition Sneaker. I loved the slip on feel, the lightness and cushion they provide. They are super comfy and I get a lot of compliments on them.

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HP LaserJet Pro M252dw - 4 starsHP LaserJet Pro M252dw - 4 stars

Sun, 08 May 2016 16:19:33 +0000

Every couple of years, I end up with a new printer. In 2009 I purchased a brother laser printer with ethernet and no wifi. I later upgraded it to another brother laser printer with wifi and one that had better support for east setup drivers for Windows. After all, installing printer drivers in Windows is just about the worst possible way to spend an hour, and it seemed worth it to upgrade for just this reason. This past week I upgraded again, but this time to a color laster printer with AirPrint, NFC, e-mail print and tons of other features. And get this, it cost $220.  How good can a $220 color laser printer be? One word; Amazing.

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Anker PowerCore+ 20100 - 5 starsAnker PowerCore+ 20100 - 5 stars

Sun, 01 May 2016 16:08:58 +0000

In the past few years, I’ve started to take a battery pack with me on all travels. It’s been indispensable for recharging on the go, airplanes, cars, beaches and everywhere in between. The best battery pack I’ve used is the Anker PowerCore+ 20100. It has a few features that sets it apart from the competition.

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