Category Archives: Product Review

Tech Tip – Private Browsing with StartPage

Product ReviewmacOS Toolkit – I don’t recall where I first saw StartPage, but I installed the extension into Safari a few weeks ago and have been using it on a regular basis.

So, what is StartPage? StartPage is a search engine company based in the Netherlands. The potential benefits of StartPage include:

  • it is outside the reach of US law enforcement agencies
  • it uses secure connections over HTTPS
  • it does not collect search information
  • it provides private click-throughs using a proxy

The basis of the search engine results is Google, so the results of the searches are as good as any when using StartPage. StartPage is provided by Ixquick “the world’s most private search engine. Ixquick has been third-party certified by EuroPriSe, a European Union privacy initiative.” If you visit the StartPage website, you will see the very prominent statement that “StartPage does not collect or share any personal information!“. Many have become concerned with this as some ISPs have begun to ‘harvest’ search history information from their clients.

Beyond the search anonymity, sites listed in the StartPage search results are accessed through a proxy service that “allows users to surf the web with complete privacy. The proxy lets users browse websites safely and anonymously, without passing on any private, personally identifiable information to the websites they view.

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 2.10.56 PM

A portion of a search using StartPage is shown above. In the list of search results will be links very similar to those seen in a Google search. If you click on a link there, you leave the protection of StartPage and are browsing just as if you had been using Google. There is a “proxy” button besides each link in the search list. If you click that link then the page is retrieved through a StartPage proxy making your website visit invisible. You will encounter slower page loading when going through the proxy. StartPage provides a full description of how their proxy works here.

I think that this will become a standard part of my macOS Toolbox. While I am using StartPage with Safari, it is compatible with most browsers. There is also a Ixquick Search App that provides anonymous searching on mobile (iOS and Android) devices.  If you are concerned with your web browsing privacy, this may be an option you want to look into.


See my other macOS articles


 

macOS App Review – AppDelete

Product Review – I posted a Product Announcement a few days back on AppDelete. After hearing good feedback from a couple of people I know at CapMac and needing a way to thoroughly clean out some of the Apps I have installed for testing and review, I went ahead and purchased a copy for myself.

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-12-58-08-pm

Installation was straight forward as was its use. When run it opens up a window on your desktop into which you drag any App you want deleted. Among the features of the product are:

  • Search filters to find items for deletion fast (including old PPC apps)
  • Finds associated items that are invisible or hidden
  •  Trash monitoring so that simply throwing an app in the trash triggers AppDelete
  • Archive/Install from Archive feature for safekeeping and transferring items to another Mac
  • Password requested only once if needed instead of multiple requests
  • Keeps a Log of all activities and has the ability to Undo a deletion
  • Moves items into an organized deleted package in your trash
  • Force Empty Trash for stubborn to remove items

Having used AppDelete today to clean out my Applications folder, I am very pleased with the $8 I spent on the product. Knowing that I will be installing many Apps in the future and wanting to remove most afterward, I think that this has been a good investment. It will certainly be included in my recommendations for anyone’s macOS Toolbox.

PROS

  • intuitive interface
  • reasonable price
  • ability to archive as well as delete Apps
  • ability to ‘undo’ a delete

 

CONS

  • It isn’t FOSS

Read my other macOS articles


 

Review of the Go Travel Worldwide Adapter

401_prod_a_col1_absolute_white

Product Review – As I mentioned in my “checklist”  article, on my most recent trip, I forgot to take along a power adapter. After finding that our hotel was only wired for European power, my wife and I set out to find one for the remainder of our trip.

We were lucky to come across the Go Travel Worldwide Adapter, costing about $25 US. I have some other power adapters somewhere at home, but this is the first I have seen that is multiple adapters in one device.

We bought this and used it throughout our trip. It easily worked with my electric razor as well as our multi-port USB charger. Between using this adapter and the charger, we were able to keep our iPhones, Apple Watches and iPads charged throughout the trip.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Compact
  • Works with power in over 150 countries

 

Cons

  • Selected plug gives way sometimes when trying to plug the adapter in
  • Only one 120VAC outlet
  • No USB charging ports

 

I would strongly suggest buying your power adapter before you leave on your trip instead of searching for it after you arrive at your destination like we did. This adapter can be ordered through the Go Travel Products website.

iOS App Review -Ulmon Maps

Product Review – My wife and I just returned from a Mediterranean cruise. One of the Apps, or I should say a collection of Apps, we used were the travel guides from Ulmon. These are all free, provide a searchable database of locations, can be used off-line, and allow you to drop tags for those locations that you want to visit.

Off-line operation was important to me as I did not have a SIM to enable network access. I was able to turn off Cellular Data and put my iPhone into ‘Airplane Mode’ to avoid charges while still navigating through the cities we visited using the Ulmon App.

The maps I used were: Barcelona, Spain; French Rivera (for Marseille and Cannes, France); Florence, Italy; Rome, Italy;  and Venice, Italy. These were really helpful as we made our way around these cities.

We did find that some of the locations we had selected to visit – coffee shop and book stores – were no longer at the location reported in the App, but for the most part they were accurate.


See my other iOS articles


 

MacOS Duplicate Sweeper

screen800x500

Product Announcement and Review – Wide Angle Software of Stafford United Kingdom has released Duplicate Sweeper 1.0.2.  It can be an essential tool in saving you space on your precious hard drive. Duplicate Sweeper makes finding, selecting and removing duplicate files on your Mac easy. It enables you to search for duplicates of all file types, such as your photos, videos, music or documents and you can select which folders to search for duplicate files in. For even more control, search preferences can be added so that only files matching your given criteria are searched. Duplicate Sweeper can ignore files that are larger than and/or smaller than given sizes. It can also ignore files with the given file extensions so that any important file types can be left out of the search.

Once Duplicate Sweeper has found all of the duplicates in the given folders, it allows you to select which files from the duplicates you wish to remove. Duplicate Sweeper has a built in document viewer so that you can check a file is not important before selecting to remove it. If you do not wish to manually select the files to remove, Duplicate Sweeper has multiple options to determine which files to remove for you.

Before removing files, Duplicate Sweeper displays a quick list of all the files that will be removed. It will also display how much space you will save by removing those files as well as a small breakdown of the media types being removed. Once you are happy to remove those files, Duplicate Sweeper can send them all to your Trash with a single click. These files can then be emptied from your Trash to delete them permanently or restored should the need arise.

System Requirements:

  • OS X 10.8 or later
  • 64-bit processor
  • 2.4 MB

Duplicate Sweeper 1.02 is currently Free for one week only (Starting 9/23/16), and available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Utilities category. It normally retails at $19.99 (USD) from Wide Angle Software’s website.

I installed this a short time ago on my OS X 10.11.6 system and tried it against the Documents directory (with just under 10,000 files) in my Home folder. It completed the scan in just a few seconds. Being able to find duplicate files is a good way to begin your Mac Tune-Up efforts.

I tried a simple test. I duplicated a .rtf file that I found in my Documents folder, moved it to a sub-directory, then changed the name back to the original. When I ran Duplicate Sweeper they were not found. I tried with duplicate text files and they were not found either. Based upon this results, I cannot recommend this product.

Pros

  • Currently FREE
  • Runs quickly, just a few seconds for just under 10,000 files in my Documents directory
  • very simple user interface

 

Cons

  • Cost is $19.95 regularly
  • Failed duplicate finding test

Read my other OS X articles


 

iOS LaunchTime

screen696x696

Product Announcement and Review – Independent developer, Daniel Spindelbauer has released LaunchTime – Rocket Launch Schedule 0.8 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch devices. Available today, LaunchTime shows all available rocket launches and their details, including the mission, location, type of rocket and a link to the live stream. It will send a notification before the launch, as a reminder.

screenshot-img2_framed

LaunchTime shows users everything that they need to know about the launches, including the live streams, location of the launchpads, details of the missions, and information about rockets. Browse future launches and get their detailed information. Always have the latest information available on your phone, so you can watch each liftoff live. It will even notify you so you won’t miss the next one.

Features:

  • Dedicated view to the next launch with countdown
  • List of upcoming launches
  • Live broadcasts of launches when available
  • Details about the launches, including mission description, rocket type, launch location
  • View the location of the launch site
  • Notification before the next liftoff
  • Today widget with the essential information of the next launch
  • Dark theme
  • Apple Watch support

LaunchTime is now available for free for a limited time. After the introductory price, it will be $0.99 in the US and priced accordingly in other regions. The app is available worldwide on the Apple App Store. iPad and improved Apple Watch support are planned for a future release.

Device Requirements:

  • iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch
  • Requires iOS 9.0 or later
  • 32.1 MB

LaunchTime – Rocket Launch Schedule 0.8 is free for a limited time, and is available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the News category.

I downloaded this App and it gives a lot of information. It also allows a user to set “Dark Mode’ which I prefer to the screen shots shown above. While the announcement says it works on the iPad, I was unable to install it from the App Store there.

This isn’t an App I will use every day, but being able to look ahead at the various launches and get a link to a streaming video will be nice to have occasionally. It is also impressive to see the number and diversity of launches.

Product Review of Klips

Allcolors

I saw these some time ago and thought that they would be useful. The Klip is a little silicone and polycarbonate accessory for your cables, and are manufactured by Tudia. Cables often wear out where the connector is attached to the cable. The Klip is an easy way to add protection to most any of your cables.

UnknownNot only does adding a Klip give you something more substantial to pull on when you are removing a cable, it also reduces the strain on cables. They install easily: Remove the polycarbonate retaining clip (shown in white above) and the colored silicone base splits open to allow you to wrap it around your cable. The white clip is then slid back into place to hold the Klip around your cable.

Clips are available in the five colors shown in the top picture and weigh only 0.08oz each. They will easily attached to your standard Apple Lightning, 30-pin and Apple Watch charging cables. My wife and I have them in use on all three cable types.

I bought ours through Amazon, picking up a 10-piece set (a pair in each of the five colors) for $21. This is an inexpensive accessory for your charging cables, but well worth the cost. I recommend these to save on the wear-and-tear on any cables.


See my other iOS articles


 

Product Review – GearTies

91sVSrGA2TL._SL1500_

I learned about these useful accessories from my wife. She had ordered some through her place of work and had found them to be very useful binding up the various cables she carries in her computer bag.

I went to Amazon and found both 4 x  3″ (multi-colored as pictured above) and 2 x 6″ (black) packages available for $2.98 each. I ordered several packages of each and have found them to be very effective in managing charging cables, headsets . . . anything with wires.

Using one of these I can carry around my iPhone earbuds now in my pocket without them getting all tangled up. I have also used these to bind up the power cables I need when traveling (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch,) to keep them from tangling as well.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Reusable

 

Cons

  • No mixed length packages that I could find
  • No choice of colors

 

These have become an essential part of packing for any trip and for simply keeping my day-to-day cables manageable. Anyone with electronics should get a few packages of both sizes.


See my other iOS and OS X articles


 

 

Product Review – Levin Ultra Compact 5000mAh USB External Battery

$_35

I had a small external battery that I used for phone charging, but it seems to have found it’s way to a safe, but unknown location. My iPhone 5 battery seems to be sliding down the slope to failure, so I need to be able to charge up my iPhone while on the go. I did a survey of available products on Amazon and settled on the “Levin Ultra Compact 5000mAh USB External Battery with intelligent charging Technology” priced at $13.99 when I ordered it in early January 2016.

The order came quickly and I have put the battery to used a few times. I have to say that I am thrilled with the resulting performance. I have tried it with both my iPhone and iPad and found that it successfully charges both, which is a added benefit. This inexpensive device claims several positive characteristics:

  • High Performance : Adopts panasonic technogy ,large energy density, good temperature stability and better security.The most compact 5000mAh power bank.5V2A Outlet allows for simultaneous charging of your devices at high speed .
  • Effctive & Long-Life : Constructed with lithium-ion battery cells and built-in microchips to ensure safety use and long lifespan. 500+ recharge cycles over the life of the battery, after 24 months still maintains unrivaled performance
  • Intelligent Charging Technology : Built in intelligent charging protection function. Prevent white screen, black screen, cell phone system halted or shut down etc.
  • LED & Flashlight : The LED flashlight works perfectly in darkness, especially for emergency. The flash light will turn on when you just press the button for few seconds. 4 blue LED status of charge indicators indicate the charging and discharging process
  • Safty Guarrantee : Supports over-charged, over-discharged, over-voltage, over-current and short circuit protection, perfectly protects your digital devices from charging accident

While I have only used the battery for a little over a week, I find that this is a very cost effective device. It is small enough to fit into my pocket or lap top bag, yet contains enough power to keep my ailing iPhone working for hours. It will definitely be part of my “go bag” for the many meetings that I attend.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Capable of charging both iPhone and iPad
  • 5000 mAh capacity
  • Flashlight mode

Cons

  • Only 5000 mAh capacity
  • Only one USB charging output

See my other iOS articles


 

 

Product Review – iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger

Updated 12/9/15

iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger

I won an iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger a few months ago as a door prize at a CapMac meeting. We have used this a couple of times around the house to charge our various electronics.  Where this has really proven useful is on trips. My wife has taken it with her on trips with a grand daughter to dance conventions, as well as on out-of-town flag football tournaments. Having one charger that can handle up to six devices really comes in handy with all of the electronic gadgets today’s youth carry with them.

This 50W unit claims to be able to provide up to 2.4A on all six of the ports. Reviews on Amazon of this product are overwhelmingly
positive (4.8 out of 5 for nearly 850 reviews). Checking the fine print on the bottom of the device, it does seem to have a 10A limit for total output, so charging six iPads at the same time will be slow, if it works at all. For a mix of devices charging should be fine. I have not performed any testing, but my wife’s experience indicates that the unit charges more slowly than a dedicated charger with her iPad and iPhone.

UPDATED 12/9/15 – I just ran a (very unscientific) test on the charger. My iPad was at 40% and plugged it in to the iClever charger for 20 minutes. That raised the charge to 53%. I then plugged the iPad into an Apple charger and left it for another 20 minutes. That resulted in it going up to 60%. Sooooo, what does this really mean? Well, not too much actually, there are too many variables outside the control of this experiment. However, charging a single device on the iClever looks to be at least as good as using an Apple charger.

iClever has both a 4-port and a 6-port versions of this charger available for less than $25.

Overall, I would highly recommend this unit as a ‘must have’ when traveling with kids. Even when just my wife and I are traveling, it will be with us to simplify packing and enable charging of our iPhones, iPads and other electronics over nightwhen hotel room outlets may be in short supply.
Pros

  • Recognizes attached devices for optimal charging
  • Ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously
  • Able to supply 2.4 A on all ports
  • 4-port and 6-port versions still available
  • relatively low cost (under $25)

Cons

  • 10A maximum output
  • may not charge as fast as a dedicated Apple charger

See my other iOS articles