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  • Chris 3:31 pm on August 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
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    Tiger Woods 10 Wii – Review 

    My recent Wii gaming didn’t stop with Wii Sports Resort that I last reviewed, the lovely wife surprised me with a fresh copy of Tiger Woods 10 for the Wii. I’ve long been a fan of the Tiger Woods games and normally I play on the 360 where the graphics and gameplay are phenomenal. The idea of using the Wii controller came with mixed emotions for me, I’m very used to playing TW on with a gamepad.

    I will say this in the beginning, I went into this expecting to be annoyed and frustrated, I was pleasantly proven wrong. When comparing games across different platforms it is important to realize that even though the same game is released on different platforms it doesn’t mean you get the same game. TW10 on the 360 is an amazing graphical experience, on the Wii it is more about the controller.

    There are some great games for the Wii and TW10 is near the top of the list. Like all TW games it has golf, various mini-games and training aides but they are pretty cryptically placed and I still haven’t found the driving range or putting practice course, they might not even be in the game. I’d much rather have these than the poor implementation of frisbee golf that they did include. The game overall is very solid with only a few minor problems but frisbee golf is probably the weakest link, EA should have looked at Wii Sports Resort and modeled their frisbee golf after that one.

    As far as playing with and without the Wii MotionPlus adapter, there is a slight difference when playing with it attached than there is playing without it. With it I found that my shots are more accurate but not enough to hinder gameplay and not enough to warrant running out and buying another MotionPlus adapter.

    POSITIVES

    + Great gameplay, high replay value
    + Easy game to play with friends or alone
    + Control scheme is one of the best on the Wii (my opinion)
    + Can be played with or without the Wii MotionPlus attachment.
    + Fun game, dare I say a bit more fun that playing with a gamepad.
    + As an added bonus if you are “older” (like me) your neck and upper body doesn’t crack as much when you play, this is nice because it also carries over to when you aren’t playing, I can twist me head in all kinds of directions now without it sounding like I am eating cereal.

    NEGATIVES

    • Sometimes when using the aiming aid the percentage/distance meter gets in the way.
    • Frisbee golf.
    • Not a good main screen layout.
    • Can’t find game modes that should be there, i.e. driving range, putting practice course.

    
Final: If you’ve got a Wii and enjoy golf games this is a definite purchase.

     
  • Chris 9:14 pm on August 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply
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    Wii Sports Resort – Review 

    Wii Sports Resort Review – I have not learned my lesson when it comes to Wii games and that lesson is, if it is a Wii game be prepared to be frustrated. By all accounts Wii Sports Resort (from this point referred to as WSR) is a sequel to everyones favorite bundled Wii game Wii Sports and judging it that way it is a good game that, like Wii Sports, takes a while for the “seasoned” gamer to get used to this is because we are used to a gamepad and buttons, lots of buttons and to be honest I wish the Wii had a Wii game compatible controller besides the Wiimote, but that’s me.

    WSR is twelve mini games that once again highlight the Wii control system, with one caveat, it requires yet another additional piece to the Wii controller puzzle, the MotionPlus adapter is required to play the game and they include one in the box but the additional ones are going to run you just shy of $20 a piece, also a big player in this version is the nunchuk adapter, once again going to run you just shy of $20 each. I have two controllers, one with nunchuk adapter and one without. When it is all said and done if I want to be able to play with maximum two player pleasure I’m going to have to fork out another $40 for a “complete” set, this brings the grand total of buying a “complete” Wii controller from $60 to $80, talk about fleecing the consumer Nintendo does this and hardly anybody complains.

    (perspective) 360 – $299 (with 60GB HDD)
    extra wireless controller – $50
    total – $349

    Wii – $249
    extra controller – $80 (Wiimote+nunchuck+MotionPlus)
    plus additional Wii motion add-on for original controller – $20 (or $49.99 if you also buy WSR)
    total – $350 ($378.99)

    Gameplay is fun with the exception of archery which takes a bit of getting used to and is really the weak part of the bundled games. Judging the games as they are without any other factors this could be a great game for friends and family game get-togethers…but unfortunately this isn’t just about the games.

    There are two negatives to the game, one that is an inconvenience and another that is a huge drawback. The first is the MotionPlus needs to be calibrated which requires you to set the controller face down until the Wii registers it. Not terrible before starting to play but I’ve gotten a calibration error in the middle of a couple of gaming sessions, once again a minor inconvenience.

    The second and it a major drawback to me, the necessity for yet another $20 add-on so when all is said and done for you to enjoy the game as it is advertised (four players) you have to spend an additional $60 for three more MotionPlus adapters and possibly another $60 for nunchuk adapters. As of this review there are 3 other games that utilize MotionPlus in addition to WSR and two of them are tennis games, the other is Tiger Woods 10 and interestingly enough all three games don’t require the adapter but are compatible with it.

    POSITIVES

    + fun games
    + who knew flying a plane with a Wii controller could be so fun
    + bundled with MotionPlus adapter
    + fairly high replay value
    + bowling is back

    NEGATIVES
    
- REQUIRES MotionPlus adapter, not optional as the employee where I bought it at said it was

    • some games require nunchuk adapter
    • price, if it was priced at $20, basically free bundled with a MotionPlus adapter paying $20 each for additional adapter would be easier to accept
    • archery game is a bit frustrating

    
Final: Purchase recommendation depends on how much disposable income you have, if you have some it is recommended, if you don’t wait for GameStop or eBay to get a supply of used ones

     
  • Chris 10:21 pm on July 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Tiny Speaker   

    Bytech Portable Mini Speaker 

    Review updated: 07.21.09 – see end for update

    Up this week is a product that I found a week later than I actually needed it the Bytech Portable Mini Speaker from Best Buy in the mobile phone department for $19.99. It is a 2 inch speaker with a rechargeable battery and accordion type “subwoofer”.

    In the box:
    2 inch speaker with 3.5mm connector
    3.5mm extension
    2.5mm adapter
    USB cable
    “user manual” (using the word manual very loosely here)

    The USB and 3.5mm extension cable are convenient and retractable and stow easily, the 2.5mm adapter on the other hand is something that if you don’t need immediately will most likely make its way to the back of your junk drawer never to be seen again.

    Not sure what to expect from a 2.8 watt speaker that fit in the palm of my hand and featured an accordion subwoofer I was actually very unimpressed when I pulled it out of the box and plugged it into my iPhone, mainly because the GSM noise coming from it, this was sold in the mobile phone section. I promptly unplugged and added the 3.5mm extension and turned it on with earplugs firmly in place, no need to flare up the tinnitus if I don’t have to. Once again, not really that impressed, I was glad that I bought it local and not online so I wouldn’t have any problem taking it back, but I decided to give it another go, turn down the volume and let it run for a while and see if a little break-in period would help. I’m glad I did, the speaker actually doesn’t sound that bad and that’s fully closed so I unlock it and ready myself for the accordion subwoofer to shake the room and well, it didn’t but it did add some depth to the sound and was quite pleasant. For what it is and what I need it for, basically chucking it in my backpack for a little music relief this summer when out in the world, it is small, doesn’t require much space and it can be used with the items I normally carry around if needed. It is far from the sound quality of a decent set of headphones or speakers but for a 2 inch speaker it pumps a nice volume level.

    My walking around pack has a Solio charger (and adapters), iPod/iPhone cable, and now the small speaker with retractable cables and they all fit in a tiny pocket with an energy bar and my lucky platypus and I still have room for the odd Clif Bar or two.

    POSITIVES
    + price, in the grand scheme $20 isn’t that much and it is small, I’ve seen other versions for around $10

    + you could plug it into an iPod and put it in your pocket playing music at a low level all day and when people ask if you hear that music you could look at them and say “what music” as you pull out your phone that isn’t playing music
    + if you are a cubicle dweller and “the man” frowns upon you using company equipment for entertainment it is easily slid into a desk drawer 

    + battery life is pretty impressive
    + the possibilities for use are actually pretty open
    + the retractrable cables are convenient for other items, the USB adapter is USB to mini-USB

    NEGATIVES
    
- requires a small break-in period to sound good
- GSM noise if you don’t use the extension

    • it would have been nice instead of a retractable extension 3.5mm cable if the retractable extension was built into the unit

    Final: Recommended Conditional Recommendation*

    *UPDATE – As I stated above this was bought in the mobile phone department of Best Buy which is unfortunate since it suffers from an annoying GSM static feedback issue with prolonged use and this is with the 3.5mm extension cable, it should be sold in the portable audio section, it pairs well with an iPod or other portable player but not with an iPhone.

    bytech

     
  • Chris 9:01 pm on July 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply
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    Review – Mini-DisplayPort to DVI adapter 

    With the purchase of the new MacBook Pro last month it also meant the need to purchase a new dvi adapter since Apple switched from mini-dvi to mini-displayport.  This is normally one of those $30 accessories you just buy when you buy a new Mac, but I decided that I’d try a little experiment. I found a dealer on eBay selling a “generic” mini-displayport to dvi adapter for under $14 shipped. I went into this endeavor not having high hopes for it because I’ve seen reports of the official mini-displayport adapters having problems, but $15 is a small price to pay to see if I saved $15 from buying the official one or if a $30 adapter would actually cost me $45.

    The “generic” ones are plentiful on eBay and range in price between $10-$25 but the bulk of them ship from China, most for free but still take about a week to get to you, especially if you live in the great northeast like I do. I found a dealer in Denver had one for $13.95 shipped, so I ordered and three days later I got it.

    The first thing you notice about it is that the packaging is almost identical to the official apple one but the color of the adapter isn’t white and it isn’t as rounded. The color is more light beige, think classic pc parts, the dvi connector is a rounded rectangle and is a bit fatter. I remove it from the package and hook up the monitor, put the MacBook to sleep, close the lid, plug it in, hold my breath and say “oh mighty MacBook please awaken from your slumber” like I do every time I wake up the MacBook and voila, I’m looking at my desktop magically taken from the actual MacBook to the beautiful widescreen color corrected monitor. No defects, no odd lines no fuzzy text, just a crisp clear image…test one, pass. Then I open up the MacBook and see if it will pull off a mirrored and extended desktop to see if I get the same results…test two, pass.

    In the end, I actually can’t say anything bad about the “generic” mini-displayport to dvi adapter from Betamacs-Sales in Denver, Colorado, the offered free fast shipping on a product that did what it is supposed to and it saved me a couple of large lattes.

    POSITIVES
    + price, a net savings of over $15 over the official version
    + it works
    + true plug and play

    NEGATIVES

    • it isn’t white
    • it is a bit fatter

    The negatives aren’t really worth mentioning unless you are a true Apple “i” person who feels that their current product is rendered obsolete by the introduction of a new or refreshed product.

    Final: Highly Recommended
    dpdvi

     
    • jack 4:25 pm on July 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

    • Henry 10:13 am on August 31, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Can I ask how long is the cable length? It looks about 6″ so did you have an issue with the distance from the MacBook to the monitor?

      • Chris 9:47 pm on October 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Henry. Sorry for the late response, it is about 6 inches long and actually this plugs into the monitor DVI cable. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Sterling 6:47 pm on November 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Chris. Happy to have found your post as I’m troubleshooting my adapter now. I picked one up a few weeks ago. Awesome out of the packaging, but now my MBP refuses to detect my monitor, or flickers blue to black in the way it does as it usually moves to monitor spanning mode, only it never makes it all the way, just flickers and then turns blue.

      Have you had any problems or know any tricks to try? Have tried all manner of restarting/plug-in/etc combinations I could come up with.

      Thanks!

      • Chris 10:01 pm on December 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Sterling.

        Sorry about the late reply to this but I’ve been using mine for quite a while now with no issues. The only thing I could think of is to head on into the Apple Store and see if they can test your mini-DisplayPort connection, if that’s not an option you could always buy/borrow a different adapter and see if you have the same problem. Other than that it could be the actual DVI cable.

        Thanks for stopping by.

  • Chris 9:16 am on June 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    13″ MacBook Pro 

    I was going to write up a little review about the new 13” MacBook Pro that we bought last week, but I have to be honest, no words that I have can really describe it and my “review” ended up being more the experience of buying it rather than a solid review. I was going to say after some awesome Mexican food that was a bit more expensive than it should have been from New Hampshire’s first Mexican restaurant and a brief stop at the Teddy Bear extortion workshop we left the main hallways of an almost deserted mall after watching MacBook Pro box after macBook Pro box exit the Apple Store, a steady stream that actually had me wondering if they were giving them away free with any purchase.

    We decided to make our trip midweek to avoid the crowds, if the store was this crowded on a Thursday night I can’t imagine what the weekend would have been like. Unlike previous trips to the Rockingham Park Apple Store we actually had to wait around and then actively seek out an employee to help us and even that took 10-15 minutes, finally got someone and it took another 10+ minutes for them to go deep into the top secret warehouse to retrieve the 13 inches of aluminum goodness and iPod Touch (free after rebate since HC is a student). All the while with new MBP (as the cool kids call them) after new MBP walking out the door, the only thing that wasn’t a MBP that I saw leave was a huge iMac, apparently this guy had a huge empty desk at home. But finally the mohawked kid who was helping us brought out the little box that help 4.5 pounds of pure Mac awesomeness, which, that rumor has it was touched by the hand of Steve Jobs himself, I’m not going to lie I almost wet myself a little kind of like an over excited Chihuahua. A couple more stops to make to get adequately sugared up for the 30 minute drive home and we were off. I waited for HC to ask if I was going to put it in the trunk so I could say “nobody puts Baby in the trunk”, a running Dirty Dancing joke that we have.

    At home, I lay the box on the island, wash my hands and then slowly make a precise incision to break the hermetic seal and hear a little “pssss” as the pressure normalizes. As I open the box angels start to sing and light actually comes out of the box and there she is, wrapped in a tight fitting plastic wrap…”AHHHHHHH” (angels singing). I light some candles and then bring the sexiness out and start to undress her, and then HC comes in turns on the lights and says “ummm…what are you doing?”, “ummm…nothing”. then I do what any true geek does, I unscrew the ten screws on the bottom open her up and take some photos of her in all her glory for my private collection and then pop in a little more RAM, not enough to max out the 8GB’s of allowable RAM but enough to make her fast enough for what I need to do and give me room to add more in the future.

    Then I plug her in and turn her on…”BONG” (that’s the sound a Mac makes when you start it up, not an odd 70’s Show reference). A few setup things and the little catchy welcome to your new Mac movie and wow!

    The things you notice right out of the box is that the aluminum MacBook is sexy, period. The screen is bright and very nice, I don’t mind the glossy screen and the colors do pop, deep rich blacks and vibrant colors. The new MBP’s come with a backlit keyboard and I thought I’d just turn it off and never use it but I have to say that it is quite helpful and even provides a little mood lighting for your late night (or less than optimally lit rooms) browsing. The SD card slot is nice and it accepts my big SDHC cards, up to 32GB’s according to the specs, this will be helpful if I ever find myself on a site shoot and have happened to left my card reader on the desk (happened once). The firewire 800 is a nice addition and my only real complaint is the built in battery, sure it last longer than the removable battery but the ability to have a spare battery just in case will be missed, but then again I’m sure we are on the cusp of seeing a whole bunch of external “accessory” batteries hitting the market with clever names like the iBattery and the iBattery Pro.

    It is a big and noticeable upgrade from my 2.0GHz white MacBook and I only hope that it las as long and is as trouble free as that one has been, as for that old white Book, well she’s getting an easier life, no more processor intense photo editing for her, no more spinning beach balls because I’m trying to do too much with the 2GB’s of RAM…nope she’ll spend the rest of her days living the life of web browsing, word processing and pretty much attached to a monitor in desktop mode and I’m sure it isn’t too far off when she’s adorned with flower stickers and lots of music that I won’t understand as she makes the gradual progression to my daughter.

    Thanks for stopping by.

     
  • Chris 11:04 am on May 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Linux Review 2.0 

    ubuntu1Last year, around this exact time oddly enough, I tested out the Linux waters with Ubuntu, I will admit at this time that I went into that review wrong. I didn’t know much about Linux, I’m a Mac user who used to be a PC so while I may be a tech head my operating system experience is limited to XP and before and OS X (version 10.2-10.5.6), I went in comparing Ubuntu to those and to be honest I realize a month or so ago that I basically did an exact comparison of Ubuntu to OS X and Windows…and while they are all operating systems they all do the job very differently and I didn’t take that into account, automobile reviewers don’t do a direct comparison between a VW Passat, a Saturn ION, and a Scion Xb, and I shouldn’t base a review of Ubuntu on how it stacks up against OS X or Windows.

    Last year I said that it felt like an unfinished, unpolished piece of software, I didn’t appreciate what Linux is. What a difference a year makes, I got older, a little more laid back, and a little more open minded.

    I stated, I just didn’t get Linux, it wasn’t on par with OS X or Windows and that I really couldn’t understand really why the Linux crowd was such a staunch proponent of it, and as I look at that review I realize that I was judging the user interface and lack of commercial/supported applications that I had. I was wrong for looking at it this way, I was wrong about the entire Linux experience, in fact I might have even been classified as something I’m not a big fan of, a Mac snob. But the bottom line is (or was) I was wrong about it and here is Linux Review 2.0.

    As a non-Linux person myself I’ll speak to that demographic in this review, Linux is an open-sourced operating system that comes in many different distributions and some are much more easily learned when coming from a Windows or Mac environment than other, Ubuntu is pretty much labeled as the everypersons Linux distro and even that comes in a few different flavors, i installed a few different versions to check out and if I was to recommend a version to someone it would probably be (depending on their computer comfortability factor) plain Ubuntu.

    The great thing is right out of the box if you are switching from Windows is that you just prolonged the life of your “older” PC and you just switched to a much more secure operating system without the need for extra software.

    PROS:

    • free
    • leaner system requirements needed, this means that older PC is going to run fine on it and you’ll probably even notice a performance increase
    • free software (office suites, graphics programs, email, etc)
    • easy user interface, feels very familiar and in most cases easier to use than Windows
    • frequent free updates
    • more secure than Windows

    CONS:

    • it is open-sourced and not as “polished” as Windows or OS X (this goes for the software as well)
    • you can’t use programs that you have already bought for your PC (we stick to things because we was familiar with them and this goes for software as well)
    • slight learning curve
    • sometimes you have to hunt for drivers for components, and occasionally they just aren’t there
    • it isn’t what you are used to

    It is free, it is more secure than Windows and it runs faster because it isn’t loaded down with bloatware or spyware but it isn’t Windows or OS X, the latest version of Ubuntu 9.04 is very nice looking and provides an easy to get used to interface but it is pretty big change especially for a Windows switcher. One of the cooler things about Ubuntu (and many different distrobutions) is that you can actually download them, burn to CD or thumbdrive, and run them without installing them in LiveCD form before you make the full plunge, they are also normally bundled with web browser and drivers so you experience it as if it was installed but when you are done you can just reboot into your installed operating system. When it comes to actually installing it on your hard drive it is like any other software, a few bits of information (username, password, etc), a few next buttons, and setting a time zone and you are ready to go.

    Ubuntu, like OS X is designed with the user in mind, and installing and removing programs is very easy and as I stated above while they software offerings like Open Office and GIMP aren’t as “polished” as the current versions of Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop they are in fact very impressive offerings especially when you realize that by installing these two suites you just saved almost $1,000 suddenly an older looking user interface isn’t necessarily that bad. Sure open-sourced software is available for all operating systems it is when you realize that you don’t have to run antivirus and other “protection” software in the background that the full open-sourced Linux beauty comes through.

    Linux used to be the operating system of the command-line crowd, the uber-geek if you will, but with Ubuntu and other user friendly distributions available it is the perfect operating system for students or those who just use their computers for email, surfing and homework.

     
    • Mesanna 4:49 pm on May 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      What a very honest post! I applaud you for admitting that you were unfair in your previous review. I think your post above is reasonable, though I must disagree every so slightly with a couple of your points 🙂

      Linux does not have to look “unpolished”. Indeed, Linux, with Compiz, can have all the bells and whistles that you want. There are also more themes and customizations than you can count available on sites like Gnome Art. Don’t be misled by Ubuntu’s boring brown!

      I do agree that Open Office and The Gimp – whilst great pieces of software in their own right – do not quite come up to the standard of the most recent versions of MS Office or Photoshop. If, however, you’ve been using versions of these packages that are a few years old, the open source versions compare very favourably. And – as you pointed out – you can enjoy all this for free! If you install Wine, you can run many (though not all) Windows programs through this too.

      As regards hardware, it is true that some components are just not supported – and this is entirely down to the manufacturers – not the fault of Linux. Many hardware companies release their specs to the Linux community who go ahead and develop their own drivers – I think this is fantastic!! Such co-operation for the benefit of everyone! The vast majority of the time – unless you are using either a) bleeding edge hardware, or b) very obscure hardware, you will probably find that your hardware is supported out of the box. When Linux works – to paraphrase a certain other company – “it just works” 😉 When it doesn’t is when the fun starts!

      But ask yourself this, if you lose your motherboard disc and reinstall Windows, how much of your hardware will be supported out of the box? Practically none. I had to format an old machine at work recently (who knows what happened to the installation discs) and I was stuck with VGA graphics and no network/internet and a job of trying to find out what hardware was installed. This doesn’t happen in Linux. Linux will install drivers for most hardware automatically – with no particular knowledge or participation required from the user.

      And finally (goodness, this has turned into a rant!), it’s not a fair criticism to say that Linux isn’t what you’re used to. I have a lot of experience with Windows and Linux, but practically none with Macs. So therefore Macs aren’t what *I’m* used to. Does that make Apple products bad? I think most people would accept that when you use a new operating system, there’s going to be a learning curve. And personally, I think that’s half the fun. I never want to stop learning new things!

      Apologies for the longest comment ever. Once I started, I couldn’t stop myself 😀

  • Chris 11:38 pm on January 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Review – Targus Laser Mouse for Mac 

    I’ve been using this mouse for the last two weeks and didn’t want to post a review here until I used it for a while, the initial part of the review was originally posted on my personal blog.

    If you’ve used Apple’s Mighty Mouse than you know how good it feels and how easily you get used to that little scroll ball, if you’ve used Apple’s Mighty Mouse for any prolonged amount of time you know that that tiny little scroll ball is its achilles heal and the cause of much frustration. A few weeks ago after doing my little ball cleaning ritual after not being able to scroll up I decided that as much as I liked the little guy I’d have to seriously look for a replacement.

    It was at this point that I was going to buy a nice Microsoft Arch mouse, say what you will about Microsoft but they make some fine mice but then I stumbled unto the Targus Laser Mouse that they designed for the Mac and if one laser is good two must be better. The problem with buying a relatively new product like this is that reviews are a bit on the light side and don’t mention somethings that I wanted/needed to know before buying.

    I was looking for a mouse that would allow middle click and allow me to program Expose into a side button…I knew that they Targus one would let me do Expose programming but I did now know, nor could I find any reviews that told me if I could middle click. A lack of middle click was a deal breaker for me. I decided that I’d take a chance and pick up the Targus at my local Buy More, worse case scenario I was back in a week to return it.

    First thing is something that I couldn’t find in any review, this isn’t a 4 button mouse it is a five, the middle scrolling laser is also a button and works just like command+click, i.e. you click on a link in your browser it pulls it up behind in a new tab.

    Second, while it does come with drivers to install so you can program the two left side buttons you might not need to install:

    Out of the box you get:
    Right Click
    Left Click
    Middle (command+click)
    Top button on the left (Expose)

    The fifth button or bottom left button doesn’t do anything out of the box.

    I really like the mouse and while it is slightly larger than the Mighty Mouse it isn’t overly noticeable. The only negative that I can really say is that there is a small learning curve with the top scrolling laser and it takes some getting used to. The clicking is a little louder than MM and while it is nice not having to squeeze the mouse on both sides to activate Expose the preprogrammed button on the side is up a little further than it is on the MM.

    Tracking and scrolling out of the box are a bit on the fast side but easily fixed in System Preferences and I have used it on a mouse pad as well as a couple of other surfaces and haven’t experienced any problems.

    Bottom line is this is a great mouse that gets better once you adjust to using a flat slick plastic surface for scrolling rather than a physical ball or wheel.

    UPDATE: I noticed that the little scrolling laser has a little round of protective plastic on it and removing it improved the scrolling.

    UPDATE – 1.20.09: I’ve used this mouse for the last two weeks and I have to retract my recommendation. As a mouse it is good, until you get to what I originally viewed as a strong point the top scrolling laser. It isn’t as sensitive as a physical ball or wheel. I’m going to keep it and throw it in my laptop bag for use onsite at shoots instead of the trackpad but as a main mouse, I’m pretty disappointed and don’t think I’ll be recommending it to any friends. I’m going to experiment more with it and try to find a way to make the scrolling laser more responsive (maybe a piece of a screen protector will add some tactile feedback that will help scrolling but as it is it’s unresponsive at times and gets worse if you have anything on your fingers (i.e. lotion, donut glaze, etc.).

     
  • Chris 9:05 pm on August 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Acer Aspire One 


    I’ve been playing with HC’s new Acer Aspire One for the last week and I have to say that this Mac user is pretty impressed with this tiny little Windows XP laptop, so much I’m hoping that Apple will finally release one of these tiny little netbooks. The first thing I noticed about A-One (as the cool kids call it) is that it appears bigger than it actually is, sitting next to a Asus 8.9 inch screened Eee the Acer screen and keyboard looked bigger, even though it isn’t. Second is that the glossy CrystalBrite screen really makes the colors “pop”.

    Spec wise this particular A-One is packing a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, 120GB HDD, 3 USB ports, 2 media card readers (one SD/MMC slot and another multi reader), webcam, mic, 802.11b/g, VGA out, and an ethernet port.

    What is impressive about this is the fact that this is all packed inside a case that can eliminate the need for a separate laptop bag if you carry a messenger bag or medium sized purse, which was the selling point for HC since she travels a fair amount for business, no more need to her to carry a carry-on, a purse and a laptop bag anymore.

    When you look at a small netbook like this the first thing you have to do is remember that it is not a big laptop, it isn’t a media powerhouse and it will not handle the large programs that you use on a bigger machine with the speed that you are used to with a big desktop or regular laptop, but it runs XP and Office 2007 impressively quick.

    Pros:

    • Size (both dimensions and weight)
    • Impressively specced out of the box
    • Bright screen
    • All in one, webcam, mic, speakers, wifi, etc.
    • Price

    Cons:

    • The screen takes getting used to
    • Battery life could be better and can be if you spend the extra $100+ on the extended battery
    • Upgrading RAM means voiding the warranty and basically dissecting the entire machine
    • Don’t forget some headphones

    All in all, this is a great little machine that can easily do 98% of what a full-sized laptop can do and while the screen is just 8.9 inches in this era of supersized desktop monitors it really doesn’t feel that cramped, the keyboard on the other hand does take some getting used to, I’ve fat fingers a few extra characters typing this review on it but it lends itself quite well when I go to hunt and peck typing. I’d say that the Acer Aspire One is the perfect choice as an email/IM device, to accompany a desktop or desktop replacement laptop, a business traveler that wants something that will lighten their load, anyone who just wants something for couch surfing or catching up on some work, or at this price it would be a great beginner laptop for a child, the small keyboard is ideal and I could see elementary schools buying these up in bulk. I know when it is time for Abi to get a computer for school I’ll definatelty consider a netbook, especially if one finds its way out of Cupertino.

     
    • zeed 11:56 pm on March 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      acer aspire one aoa150-1126
      Best notebook on the market today! I love this product long battery life and easy to use.I highly recommend this item..

  • Chris 2:47 pm on August 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Evernote 

    I’ve been playing around with Evernote for a couple of months and up until recently I’ve just poked at it, prodded it a bit but didn’t really think I’d use it that much.

    From their website:
    Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.

    Evernote is great because it has native clients for Mac, Windows, Linux, Windows Mobile, and the iPhone. No matter where you are you can have access to all of your notes and with a native application you don’t need to be online in order to use it but it will still sync it when you are connected so your notes will be available other places, other computers, online, on your phone.

    The Good:

    • Instant access to your notes if you’ve got some sort of data access.
    • Nice looking fairly robust interface on all of the native apps.
    • Simple to use.

    The Bad:

    • No native Palm app, seems like a huge oversight in my opinion but it means people like my wife have to use the mobile web app.
    • The mobile web app is quite unimpressive.
    • You have to convince your IT people to let you install the native application.

    Conclusion:
    If you work from home sometimes and have to email yourself reminders at the other place or have a phone that doesn’t allow syncing of notes (yeah, I’m looking at you iPhone) than Evernote can be an invaluable tool. I like it because it is a multi-use tool, you could send notes from your phone to yourself and set it up on different devices and computers and have it as a central family or workplace bulletin board for different users under one account.

    Evernote

     
  • Chris 12:36 pm on July 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Glubble 

    At first glance you might ask yourself “What in the world is a Glubble?” What an odd name and it doesn’t convey what it actually is through the name at all, you’d think that it would be some sort of glass bubble company, but Glubble is something that we’ve been using it for a couple of months and it does exactly what I wanted it to and best of all it was free.

    Glubble is an Add-On for Firefox and if you have children in your house you can’t afford not to have Glubble. What Glubble does is takes Firefox and turns it into a child safe browser that you (the parent) choose and decide which site your little web surfer will be able to get to.

    One the child’s side they are met with a very simple browser interface that allows them to click on pictures of the sites that have been approved and should they want to venture off to a site that isn’t approved they are met with a prompt that tells them they can’t get to that site but they can submit it to the parents account for approval. It is as simple as that, clean, simple, kid friendly interface.

    On the parents side is where you will be impressed, the password protected clean interface allows you to visit and approve or decline pending sites, write notes to your child, and also use the browser in the unlocked mode.

    The only negative thing that I can say about it isn’t Glubble’s fault at all, if you approve a site and then the site changes anything and changes the link in any way your child has to resubmit for approval, I’ve only noticed this being a problem with the Disney Channel related sites.

    All in all, this is one of the greatest plugins available for Firefox and set up inside of a limited user account is a great tool for parents who want to ensure that their little ones aren’t venturing off into sites where they shouldn’t be.

    Glubble

     
    • Brian Harrison 2:48 pm on July 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Chris – The kind words about Glubble are much appreciated. There have been over 100,000 downloads of Glubble to-date, thanks in part to the attention it has received on blogs such as this.

      There are new enhancements and features coming this fall, and I’d invite you to join Glubble’s Facebook Page to get the latest news and information.

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