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At the beginning of the year, I decided to try and go as paperless as possible. That meant moving my online account statements into electronic form but also scanning documents and filing them as soon they are received.  This is my second attempt to go paperless – my first was in 2012 but the scanner software was so cumbersome and buggy that I gave up after two months. So before the year began, I sorted out what I needed. Namely: - A personal scanner that could handle everything from multi-page documents to credit card receipts. Specifically, the scanner’s software had to be powerful, intuitive and work on my Mac - Some method of electronically capturing and archiving all of my account statements. Even though the scanner is critical, if I could eliminate the bulk of the paper generated by bank accounts and credit card statements that would really help.
Until now, I was a blade guy. So when Panasonic sent me their Arc 5 wet/dry electronic shaver, it had to pass a couple of pre-requisites before I would even take it out of the box. Namely: -       The Arc 5 had to work in both wet and dry mode -       It had to give me at least a week of shaving without recharging -       The resulting shave had to make me look good – and that was a major challenge Out of the Box and Into the Shower So the first thing I did was charge up the Arc 5 and give it a test drive in the shower – could it replace the blade I use every morning?
Cloud computing is like the Borg – “Resistance is Futile”. So it was refreshing to visit a storage manufacturer during CES 2014 that gets it. I spent time with Seagate / LaCie learning about their new product lines and came away impressed. Instead of trying to fight cloud storage, their new offerings adhere to some very well though out axioms: - Products should complement the cloud by integrating with existing cloud services - The physical design should be simple and attractive - The user interface, specifically for smartphones and tablets, should be consistent and easy-to-use across devices
Never has a product been more divisive in our house than the Nest automated thermostats – I love them and they are the bane of my spouse's existence.
A colleague of mine recently commented, “There’s not much going on with TVs. They’re all the same.“ I was about to start an argument on the benefits of having new models featuring six HMDI ports versus only four but I realized that on the surface, my colleague was correct. The flat screen revolution is behind us – however TVs (or rather video viewing) is now evolving and changes may come from different areas than we expect. First a quick story on the flat screen revolution and why it's over. Earlier this year, I decided to replace an old picture tube-based TV with a flat screen. The old 35” screen worked fine, but with no HD capability it was time for an upgrade. Getting rid of the old TV proved to be really problematic:
In the wireless world, faster is always better. But there are a few key concepts to keep in mind – bands, standards, bandwidth and range. Bands: You will be seeing a lot of “dual band” devices. This means that the wireless signal operates in two different bands – 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. You can segment your wireless traffic on the two bands. For instance, you can put your video streaming devices on one band and your web browsing on a different band to maximize performance. 2.4 GHz – this is the traditional WiFi band. It offers decent range and excellent interoperability between devices. One issue, however, is that 2.4 GHz radio waves are absorbed by water–containing vessels such as the human body.
So I’m wandering around the CES show between meetings and suddenly realize that it smells awesome. Where is that new car smell coming from? I keep looking and stumble upon a booth specializing in leather cases for all of your iOS, Android and Blackberry devices. I’m talking perfectly fitted cases crafted from real leather that smell like the inside of a new car. The booth is run by Mapi Cases and they are showing off their entire line; wall-to-wall leather cases for every device imaginable.
A few months ago, on a return trip through the Cincinnati Airport, I learned the hard way why you should always check-in to a flight online in advance. I was coming home from a business trip the night before my son's high school graduation. With over two hours before departure, my colleague and I decided to get some dinner and then head to the airport. We finished dinner with plenty of time to spare, returned the rental car and walked up to the Departures area leisurely. I stepped up to one kiosk to check-in while my colleague went to another. I punched in my frequent flyer number, brought up my reservation and the dreaded message, "Please see an agent" appeared on the screen. My colleague, boarding pass in hand, turned and said. "Did you check-in in advance? I checked in on my smartphone while you were presenting to our client. I just needed to print out my boarding pass." So at 43 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time, I flagged down a gate agent in the otherwise empty terminal. The dialogue that followed was eye-opening: "Hi, can you help me check-in please. I had trouble with the kiosk"
It's now time to display a presentation on the road without my laptop.  First I have to get my slide deck ready to go on my iPad. I am a hardcore PowerPoint user so step one is converting the file over to Keynote so that I can display it on the tablet. Before I left home, I imported the file by opening it using Keynote on my Mac.  The import worked well with only a few minor positioning tweaks needed to some of the graphic images. I then copied the file over to my iPad using iTunes and was ready to go.
NetZero 4G HotSpot
So here I am in California and want to get online. I was too cheap to buy an iPad with 3G connectivity so I need a wireless hotspot, but an even faster 4G connection would be better. Fortunately, the home office recently received a NetZero 4G WiFi hotspot that might do the trick.  The NetZero, about the size of a deck of cards has one feature that I love - a small LCD status display - that other portable hotspots lack. The LCD lets me know when I have a live connection both to their 4G network as well as its WiFi status. Other personal hotspots I've used consist of a single colored LED with blinking patterns acting as status indicators. Incredibly frustrating if you have any type of connectivity issue. Before I left, I connected the NetZero to my laptop with the included USB cable to both charge it as well as to set up the WiFi network key. Once again, the NetZero plugs into the same tiny USB charging plug that works with my iPad. Good thing that I brought two!
Seagate GoFlex Satellite Media Drive
TechDadCentral is embarking on a challenge: can I go on a 4- day business trip without my laptop? Namely, can my iPad2, complemented, by some keystone new technology, fulfill all of the tech needs where I traditionally use my laptop? Will I make it home smiling or will I be stymied by a lack of technology?   So here I go:
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