Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

social-media-icon-setI was in the Toronto airport recently and had some time to reflect on how much power, whether good or bad, society has been given by social media. Be it Instagram, FaceBook, Yelp or Twitter, anything you do, anyone you meet, and anywhere you want to go, people have messaged about it and those messages and posts can make or break an event/place/person.

President Obama has been in the news a lot lately discussing truth in news and how FB and Google need to ensure facts are being reported … If we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have serious problems.

To a lesser extent the same is true about the average Joe/Josephine and their use of social media.  How do we filter out the facts from the fiction?  The first thing many people do upon experiencing something new (I am guilty of this myself) is post about it.  More often than not, it is the negatives that get posted.  When you have a problem, you want to complain and think someone, anyone, is listening.  Social media to the rescue.  A platform with no real checks and balances, and more often than not the first place we go to find out what others think of something we are thinking of doing, or to “research” a place we are thinking of going to. (I am guilty of this too, especially when it comes to hotels and restaurants)

So often I have heard the same comments about a place, only to find out, it was because one person experienced it and then everyone else just regurgitated what they read, retweeted, reposted, etc without actually experiencing it themselves.

Take for instance a prime example that just happened this morning in my office.  Restaurant ABC gets a bad review on yelp and is taken as gospel because it had more than one bad rating, and as such the person I was talking to said they would not be trying it out.  Who knows, it could have been a bad day, it could have been an isolated problem, it may have been just not quite what was expected, or the person giving the bad review was just being petty.  Disgruntled worker maybe?  You can learn from others mistakes or experiences, but that doesn’t mean that they will have the same experience as you.  With restaurants especially, the particular cook can make or break a meal, your palate is different from someone else’s, maybe you like salt more than sweet for instance, etc., there are a myriad of possible reasons.  And hey, who knows maybe it does legitimately suck.

Everything you post should be understood and interpreted as “in my limited opinion and experience at this particular time and location” but rarely it is.  A few negative comments can quickly become a tidal wave simply due to our inherent nature of listening and trusting others opinions – It was on yelp/Facebook/Google/Twitter/ etc, so it must be true.  We can’t prevent the rants and negativity but we can learn to take it with a grain of salt and realize it for what it is, free advice.  And as with any advice, you usually get what you paid for.

One final note, getting back to the airport again.  Chef Roger Mooking has a new (or at least new to me) restaurant in Pearson.  Having eaten at another chef’s restaurant there, Massimo Capra’s Boccone, and thoroughly enjoying it we thought we’d try “Twist“.  Lets just say I hope chef Mooking pops in again soon to make sure they are preparing his menu properly since his “not so philly cheesesteak” to use some of his own words when judging on Chopped, is a one note, dry offering, in need of some sauce.  But that is just my opinion, well that and my traveling companion.  So two free opinions.  Take it with a grain of salt, … which wouldn’t have helped this sandwich.

barkerp

 

img_7298I like to peruse the blogs, ads, links, and Kickstarter for new products, and have come across a few over the years where I got in early and got a good deal.  My Thermodo for instance.  (if you are not sure what a Thermodo is check it out here.) I was hoping this little charge cable would be one of those things…. sadly, it fell short.  No pun intended.

The HandyCharger is basically a really short lightning cable for charging my iPhone/iPad.  It is meant to be kept on a keyring so you always have one handy in a jam, as long as you have your keys with you.  Sound great in theory.  But in practice, not quite ready for primetime as the saying goes.

I should have known something was off when I ordered back in april and got an email saying it could be 3 to 4 weeks to arrive due to “massive global demand” which turned into 6 weeks, with no explanation, or even a response from the manufacturer until after I had sent a few emails, and got told I would be informed when it shipped.  Gee, thanks, not even an ETA.

Fast forward to beginning of august, now almost 4 months after ordering, and I get notified it had shipped.  Apparently via rowboat from china it would seem since it took over  2 weeks after that notification for it to finally show up, and when it did, it was not as expected.

As in the email above, It should be noted, it didn’t come with a keyring, and the packaging as I noted was terrible, basically non-existent.  I showed it on a keyring to give scale to the photo and to show its intended use.  Another issue is the size of the connector that plugs into the iPhone/iPad.  Its too wide for most cases, so you either have to charge your device caseless or cut the opening in the case to allow the oversized connecto.  Yuck.

img_7297

This photo shows the packaging for it, a bubble wrap bag, not even a plastic bag inside it, or a piece of cardboard for rigidity and a little protection.  I emailed the manufacturer as you can see above, and did get a reply saying they were sorry, and to send photos of the damaged charge cable to them, but unfortunately I had already thrown out the faulty cable since it had to be held in place to actually work, and as luck would have it, the magnet on the ends of the cable that are supposed to keep it together are too weak and the darn thing fell off my keychain within a couple of days of receiving it.

Strangely, in searching around for info on the HandyCharger, I found a very similar looking product – like exactly the same looking product, by another manufacturer, InCharge.  (http://incharge.rocks/) Not sure which came first, but it makes me think the one I got is the poor rip-off version. Or maybe it did come first, but if so, the other company took the idea and did it better it seems.   At least it had packaging.  They even made a thin connector option.

handycharger-youtube incharge cable

Another thing to note is the look of the advertised product versus the actual received item.  The multi-colour cable, the actual name silkscreened onto it, etc.  Bait and switch anyone? Or just another example of a US company allowing their product to be manufactured in China and shipped direct to customer, and hoping it is done right without taking the time to inspect.

As I said, great in theory, terrible in practice.  That is my feeling on this one.  Waiting 4 months for a charge cable is ridiculous to begin with, but getting a faulty one after all that, as well as one that in my opinion is poorly constructed with respect to how it is supposed to stay together via the all-too-weak magnet, is enough for me to say stay away from this product until at least version 2.  If there is one.

PS:  I haven’t ordered an inCharge one yet, but probably will.  For one, it is cheaper, and says 2 day shipping with 6 to 10 days delivery.  So at least I won’t be waiting months to be disappointed.

barkerp

I’m an Apple fan, that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or this blog, but what may surprise you is that i’m enjoying using a New Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ tablet that I won from attending a product show recently.  I know I was surprised when I got the call, and if I didn’t know the sales rep well, I would have been skeptical about winning it, almost as skeptical I was that I’d enjoy using an Android based tablet.

But, in all honesty it’s not bad.

It is no New iPad, but it is a good challenger for the previous Apple tablet the iPad 2, with maybe a few pluses to cancel out the negatives on the old balance sheet.

The connector, although it looks like the Apple 30-pin connector, is not the same.  Look closely at the photo below, it is as if someone took the innards of the connector and flipped it over and slid it back it.

Why not make it the same as Apple? Probably copyright issues, and we all know how well that went for Samsung vs. Apple recently.  Although as they say the show ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and when lawyers gets involved, that fat lady can be waiting in the wings a long long time.

unpacking, no wasted space

the USB charge sync cable

the connector, it’s not like apple’s

But I digress, again, as so often happens.  Back to my new toy.

Gotta say, the keyboard leaves a little to be desired.  The tablet is too narrow to type well in landscape mode, and when in portrait mode I find it still just a little wide to thumb-type, even with my long thumbs.  (insert shaved ape joke here) Without spending any real time with many tablets, this may be true of all, except for the split keyboard in the iPad which moves the keys off to the sides.  Something Samsung should steal from Apple.  Might as well, what are they gonna do? Sue them?

The predictive text drove me nuts too.  I like autocorrect, but personally can’t stand suggested words popping up across the screen as soon as I start stringing two letters together.  Very distracting, but that’s just me, some I’m told like that feature.  It took a little digging but I found how to turn it off which made my typing less stressful.  It’s buried in the keyboard settings.

um, what? it is plugged in.

makes connecting to a Mac easy

your files, all pretty like.

You’ll want to download a little 6.5 meg file called”Android File Transfer” to make it easy to connect your Tab 2 to your Mac.  But remember to check a few settings to eliminate your frustration.  Once you plug in the tablet, in the bottom right corner you will see a USB symbol showing you have a USB device connected, it will tell you it is connected as a media device, click it and it will take you into Storage Settings / USB PC connection.  Change from Media device (MTP) to Camera (PTP) and it should mount the Tablet and then open the Android File Transfer App.  It may give you an error the first time after changing the setting.  Just reconnect it.  The setting seems hidden, because if you go into the regular Settings button, there is no way of getting to this function.  You need the tablet plugged into a Mac for it to show up and enable you to change it.  Goofy.

Apparently if you are running windows, you don’t need any add-ons, but my house is pretty much all Macs with a growing number of Samsung products so the App is a necessity on my MBA.

AutoCad on a tablet.

One thing I’ll be trying out and stress testing this tablet with is AutoCad WS. It’s a great way to share your drawing files (.dwg) with anyone and any device you log into your account with. I’ve used it previously on my iPhone but found the screen too small to actually be very useful for anything other than quickly checking a drawing on site by zooming in to a specific area in question. With it running on a tablet, it actually becomes a useful program.

books and magazines, pretty & functional

data usage, easy to understand

There are many good things about the Android OS, besides the cute names, this tablet came with Ice Cream Sandwich for instance, and is a pretty reliable operating system so far, similar to Apple’s they make it easy for you to send reports in to developers when problems occur. For instance the Weather Channel app crashed every time i opened it on the first attempt, but then the second time worked fine.
Updating of apps can be either manual or automatic, I’ve got about half set to each side of that fence just to see how it works and if it slows down the tablet at all with autoupdating.
As expected, the Galaxy Tab 2 works great at playing media, and using the Android File transfer makes it easy to copy files from your computer to it for easy viewing. My daughter likes to watch it in bed for instance, so I loaded up a few TV shows she missed.

SD card & internal memory

playing media.  dead easy

This tablet has something that the iPad is sorely missing, a Micro SD card slot. With an internal memory of only 16gig, this is a great way to store large amounts of data (up to an additional 32 gig), and copying files off the SD card is an easy way to transfer data too. I had an old micro SD card lying around so i tried it out. Worked like a charm, and as it turned out it was filled with old photos and music from the Blackberry it used to live in.

If you have a Samsung Smart TV like we do, the ability to watch media on the big screen is so easy using the “AllShare” feature of the tablet.  AllShare works with any DNLA devices, and also lets me see the media on my MacBook Air when i have it set up as a server.  (See my previous blog about Twonky for that) And if you want to get real Star Treky with it, you can use the included Peel Smart Remote app to control your TV and associated set-top boxes, DVR’s, etc.  (i had to update it out of the box to make it work with our Bell satellite box, probably due to the age of our particular model.)  If nothing else, its fun to freak out the kids by turning it on from across the room nowhere near the actual remote.

copying files from SD card

wifi speeds

With this model being WiFi only (a 2G/3G model is available is you want to spend the extra money) I wanted to see how fast the connection speeds were to my router, and even when the internet was being used by others in the house, the tablet got a good connection everywhere around the house with impressive download/upload speeds when tested.

reading, kindle app

This is where a tablet shines over a phone, even the newer larger iPhone5, having a screen the size of a real paperback book makes reading so enjoyable, and the Kindle app for Android is as much of a pleasure to use as it is on every device I’ve tried it on. Clean, clear and easy on the eyes.
Speaking of eyes, the screen is clear and crisp and uses Gorilla glass so I’m hoping it is as strong and durable as I’ve heard.  especially since as with any touch screen device, it gets messy and needs cleaning often.  The cameras are decent although nothing you want to try to use as a handheld camera. It’s only VGA on the front camera (meant for video conferencing) and 3MP on the rear facing camera. Pretty low specs in that regards, which is unfortunate since the rest of the specs are quite impressive.

All in all, even if I hadn’t gotten this one free and had actually paid for the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1″ I would say it is worth the money.  Especially if you like to find a tablet that costs a little less than an iPad.

If the Android market could get organized, and by that i mean standardize a little more on screen sizes, resolutions, hardware and become more “iPad-like” they could be a real contender in the market.  Maybe not enough to topple Apple’s commanding lead in the market, but definitely a more windows like alternative.

tcg

When you think about your iPhone it is probably the object you use most in your life.  Its the product you have with you all the time…

A hell of an opening statement from Jony Ive.

So now the Apple kool-aid has worn off and everybody has returned to their everyday lives (it has been a whole day after all) you may be wondering, as I am, “should I upgrade?”  Or for some users of other phones/smartphones, ‘is now the time to make the switch?”

In a word, probably.  For me, I’ve been leapfrogging the various upgrades and only upgrading my iPhone every second one.  I skipped the first iPhone since I had a Blackberry at the time and couldn’t see the need to change.  I did switch and got an iPhone 3G which was and still is a great decision.  Since then, I upgraded my wife’s old flip phone to a 3Gs, and then I got the iPhone 4 when it came out, then upgraded hers to the 4s, so as you can see it is my turn and with the impressive specs of the latest iPhone I will be putting my name on a waiting list someplace to get one.

I said impressive specs, which is a bit subjective.  As an upgrade to someone using an iPhone 4 or the 3Gs the iPhone 5 is a huge improvement, maybe not so much if you are already using a 4s though.  Harder to justify the change when you do a side by side comparison and think about your actual usage of the device.  If you want to have a phone that screams when playing games, or really need the slightly larger screen, or slightly better camera & microphone then maybe, otherwise i’d be sticking with the 4s and waiting to see how much of a knee-capping (if any) iOS6 does to the iPhone4s.

I’m pretty sure the iOS update when it is released is going to nearly kill the 3Gs due to its processor being so outdated now, and even the iPhone 4 will probably be too slow for certain features and apps to work properly, but I have to believe the 4s will still be quite responsive and continue to be a joy to use as are all Apple products… oops, guess there was still a little kool-aid in my system after all.

barkerp

a guest post “how to” from the developer:

Many people worldwide are Blu-ray movies enthusiasts. What I’m gonna to talk about in this article is a piece of software named WinX Blu-ray Decrypter developed by Digiarty – a software developer engaged in versatile DVD backup/ripping, video converting and Blu-ray related programs. It is a nice Blu-ray backup tool to get you rid of troubles of Blu-ray disc scratch or loss.

WinX Blu-ray Decrypter works to copy and save Blu-ray Movies on computer hard drive for better storage and convenient watching by:

– Removing almost all known Blu-ray encryptions such as AACS MKB v25 and BD+ copy protection

Ÿ- Backing up Blu-ray to M2TS file or Blu-ray folder

Ÿ- Copying and saving full Blu-ray movie

Ÿ- Extracting and backing up Blu-ray movie titles

Ÿ- Converting and backing up 3D Blu-ray to 2D video

You can choose any backup method above according to your own situation. With advanced decrypting and copying technologies, WinX Blu-ray Decrypter is able to preserve the original video/audio quality in the output file. It has top fast working speed among all similar programs in the market. Usually, it only takes about half an hour to backup a whole Blu-ray movie.

How to Use it to Backup Blu-ray

That’s quite easy. Download this software first, install in on your computer and run it. The program will show you a very clean user interface:

Insert your Blu-ray disc to your computer, and do the simple work below:

  1. A.    Click ‘Load BD’ to let the program recognize your Blu-ray movie
  2. B.    Decide to backup full Blu-ray or just titles of it
  3. C.    Select the output folder
  4. D.    Click ‘Run’ button to start the backup work

 

Here are more information and operation tutorials at http://www.winxdvd.com/blu-ray-decrypter/ you can check. To download the program, just click here.

Angie
Digiarty Software, Inc.