I've gotten over $200 in cash back from them at places I would have shopped anyway! Ebay, Staples, more! I put it at the top because they ROCK. Basically, you get a kickback from Ebates when buy.com or whoever pays them. Win-win. If you like throwing money away, don't use them!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Crappy Sienna Plantation Power: Here's what I did to Fix it!



I bought several of these in varying sizes. A 1300VA for my main large desktop, and a 350VA for my monitor and some smaller devices.

Don't forget: if you have an expensive piece of gear like a TiVo or other DVR, you want a small one for that too. Don't miss your shows, and don't damage your $600 TiVo with Lifetime subscription.

Terms: a 'VA' basically means a watt. Look on your gear and see what wattage it uses. UPS=uninterruptible power supply. A battery kicks in when the power goes off or blinks.

APC has a tool to help you figure it out, and I do computer work in Sienna.

Click here to open that tool. (New window opens.)

Setup is minimal, you really just plug it in, but if you need help picking a size or brand, let me know.

In short: a 1000VA or higher will run for a few minutes on anything you are likely to use it with.

Optional: the larger ones like my XS1300 will automatically shut down your PC with a cable that talks to it and tells it remaining capacity. So, you can tell it to shut down after the power is out for a few minutes or it drops below a certain charge level. Desirable if you leave your computer on.

Tip: to increase the run time, plug things like speakers and printers into the 'Surge' outlets that do not use battery power from the UPS. My secondary monitor isn't on the UPS battery but my main is.

If you use the Amazon widget above or search box on the side, you help support my time to write these little articles and have more time off my main job to come help you out. :)

-Rob, Sienna Resident, happily using his Mac through MANY power blinks today.




Wednesday, October 01, 2014

LifeCharge Juicy Packs Mini-Review

I have the 10,400 mAH hour one.

It has never run out on me, and the fast charge port is just that. I can use my phone with a lot of surfing and it has plenty of power to run the phone and increase the charge at the same time.

This should charge most phones 4-6 times and an iPad 4 about once, which as you know, is a LOT of battery.

In short, it should allow you to use your devices 1-3 days even under heavy use, if they are full to start.

There are higher capacities, see page two of the widget.

For most people, you will never see this pack run out of power.

The only caveat I noticed is some chargers (like a make the onboard guage on this show full, and others will show a dot charging.

Higher capacity chargers seem to work better than low, like a USB port charge. Plus, a USB port would take over 20 hours to fill it from empty.

That's how big this battery is!

I take mine all over: flights, camping, you name it.

Bonus: it has a dual white LED flashlight onboard.

Please use our widget or search bar on the right to shop Amazon. We get a teensy commission. :)

We use the money to buy all these gadgets to review for you. :)


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bluetooth OBD 2 for Nissan Leaf and Leaf Spy Pro

I got this one from Amazon and it works great with the Leaf Spy app.

I also bought the Pro version of the app.



I have had zero problems with it. I leave it plugged in all the time.

The only thing to watch out for is don't leave the app running when you are in Bluetooth range of your Nissan Leaf.

It will cause a relay to click over and over, adding wear and tear, and using your 12 volt battery. You will hear it when near the car: it's a very audible erratic clicking sound.

If you're not familiar with the app, click here to see it on Google Play. I used the free version for a while, but I think the Pro version is worth the $15. There's also a 'midrange' version here.

The free version is here.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

CCD Barcode Scanners: #1 Seller on Amazon, I has it

I have one from 3 years ago from the same company as ones shown below. The new model is the black one, mine's the beige.




These are oh so useful for:
  • Scanning long numbers off SIM cards, phones (ESN/MEID), if you're activating a SIM, checking a blacklist, etc. etc. For that alone, this is a huge time saver.
  • Price checking on Amazon: just put the cursor in the search button Amazon and hit the button on the scanner and scan the UPC code.
  • Googling that same UPC code
In short, your computer sees it as a keyboard so it will type in all sorts of barcodes for you, and there are no drivers for it. You can also configure it to type 'Enter' after the scan or not, if you like.

I'm using it on a Mac but it should work on any operating system.

The first one on the box at the top is the #1 seller at Amazon.

Of course, the super OCD among you can use it to organize your CD and music collection.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Dancing Groot Toy: Amazon Pre-Order

You knew it was coming, and it's no surprise it's #1 in Toys and Games at Amazon.


And for the woman in your life, get the Groot mask. Who am I kidding...

I've got the dancing baby groot in my cart as we speak. :)

On a serious note, get the Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1 soundtrack on page 2 of the widget.

Women DO love that. Actually, I had one tell me recently that the 'Pina Colada' song is one of her favorites. Actually, everyone loves that mix tape. Plus, IIRC, you get the CD, the MP3 Auto-rip and a $1 promo credit.

I bought the album and it's been in heavy rotation around the house.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Miix 2 Microphone Doesn't Fit: simple fix

I was trying to plug in my Skullcandy FMJ's into my Miix 2 8" and it felt like I was going to break the jack on the Miix 2, so I measured the depth with a plastic section of a Q-tip. It matched up with my Galaxy S4 which the FMJs fit.

Hmm.

I put the Q-Tip in and out several times to make sure.

I went and got a different pair of headphones. The Skullcandys are a combo jack: mic and stereo headphones in one jack.

The headphones are just that: stereo only.

The headphone jack was to my eye the same size and depth, but it fit.

Strange.

So I just inserted the headphone jack a few times maybe thinking the socket was just stiff.

Apparently, that's the answer because then my Skullcandys fit, albeit firmly, but it didn't feel like I was going to literally break something.

Also the Skullcandys work great as always. Tested with Skype.

Caveat: the Skullcandy call/disconnect button on the inline control did nothing in Skype on Windows 8.1

Hope it helps someone! Now, buy something you're going to buy anyway from Amazon using the search box on the right. :)




Notes:
  •  I've recommended the Skullcandy brand before. Unbeatable warranty.
  • The Moko case is a nice one for the Miix 2 8"



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Windows 8.1 Clean Install on Miix 2 8": Where to get drivers, and notes on the latest versions.

I did this recently, so here are the notes:

1. Borrow someone's Windows Key to download the ISO from Microsoft. You aren't going to use it. Get the Belarc Advisor, and after you have Windows 8.1 installed you can use your OEM key that Belarc Advisor shows in the report.

I would save or print the Belarc report for future use.


The screen will 'blank' if you have the power settings set to turn it off until you get some drivers installed so set it to turn off 'never' when plugged in and 'never' if you have to run on battery power rather than a having to do a hard restart while you're in the middle of something.

So charge the battery to 100% before you do all this.

Windows 8.1 retail will install fine, and later you can change the key to your OEM key. I did not check whether it was using the UEFI key automatically, but I assume it was, IIRC Windows retail was activated but I went ahead and 'changed' the key anyway since I had borrowed the key to download from my firned.

To change the key, right click 'This PC' on the Windows desktop, then 'Change Product Key' in the lower right corner.

Notes on Install:
The touchscreen will start working at some point, but I used a powered hub and a USB keyboard and Mouse initially.

The latest drivers can all be downloaded from Lenovo. I let Windows install and update as much as it could, since I'd prefer Microsoft drivers, since they designed the OS, it makes sense.

The Lenovo Download page is here.

The 'Platform Driver' install looks pretty stock, but I had the Intel HD 4000 graphics driver FROM INTEL running on my Dell Venue 8 because the Dell drivers are a continual problem.

If you want to use the Intel version: I had to go into the device manager, and get the .ZIP here, then tell Windows to install it manually via the device manager.

After you 'force' install the Intel graphics driver (it's still signed, don't worry, you don't get any warnings) then the normal Intel installers will work.

The Lenovo 'Platform Driver' Installs graphics driver 10.18.10.3327 but you can get the .EXE from Intel which is which as of this writing has a filename of win32_153322.exe and you can get it here along with the ZIP.

Here is a big long list of Intel HD drivers: https://downloadcenter.intel.com/SearchResult.aspx?ProdId=3712&lang=eng

After intalling win32_153322.exe, you will have driver version 10.18.10.3621 and Windows will ask for a restart.

The audio driver from Lenovo appears to install a later version of the driver than Windows / Intel does.

Windows 8.1 or the updates will give you Broadcom WiFi driver version 5.93.98.187 vs Lenovo's .97.181 which again, is why I let Windows install as much as possible. Generally, I'd rather have Microsoft tested stuff.

Windows will install a later version of the Bluetooth Audio driver AFTER you install the Lenovo version. (Which I can never find the driver version so someone please let me know. 'Bluetooth Radio' shows a Microsoft driver.)

If you have questions or comments, leave them and I will update this.






I got this case for it. A small piece of tape on the metal clasp part is recommended to avoid tiny scratches on the screen. Of note, the Miix 2 8 case does not have that issue. The magnet is embedded in the cover.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Coffee Pot Cleaner/Descaler

My Senseo machine is still going strong since I got it in March 2013. When it was 8 years old.

The Keurig is more popular, but the Senseo is more environmentally friendly, and cheaper to run.

The pods are just coffee sandwiched between two pieces of filter paper.

No plastic, like K cups.

I find them in motels more often so I take them home for free coffee.

But enough about that.

Have you descaled and cleaned your expensive coffee machine lately?

I just did, and the cleaner is cheap and ships free on Amazon.

I also have the Coffee Duck so I can use my own ground coffee. It's also easier to clean than the K cup gear.




Friday, August 22, 2014

Nissan Leaf Range

My car must be feeling good. 10 bar battery and 100 mile range?

Artoo increased the power!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Observation

Why don't pants go in a pantry?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Greatest Hits: Huey Lewis And The News $3.99

Just picked this one up. Had $2 of Amazon credit for MP3's anyway. :)

Lot of good music here, not all of it 80's. For example the duet Cruisin' with Gwyneth Paltrow. Why doesn't she do more singing? It's VERY good.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

OS X Sound Not Working


 

If your sound on your Mac has stopped working due to a hardware problem, this USB stick works on a Mac, at least under OS X 10.9

I tested it after taking it off my son's PC. Only note is that the volume is very sensitive but this could be fixed in a later OS update perhaps. I used the volume slider to control it vs. the volume keys but you could also be fine if your speakers have a volume knob.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

QOTD

Money is the fuel for choices. - Dave Chapelle (paraphrased)

Red Bull Cheap Syrup Substitute:

I have the one in the silver bottle (top one in the widget below) and it tastes just like the sugar free Red Bull! One bottle makes TWELVE LITERS. That's more than you should probably drink in a month or two. They have some interesting flavors too like one with Cranberry. If you don't have a Sodastream, just add it to carbonated or even regular tap water.
 
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