Category Archives: Product Review

macOS Product Review – MenuMeters

(See my other Mac related posts) – While Apple’s Activity Monitor (Finder ==> Go ==> Utilities ==> Activity Monitor) does a great job of giving performance feedback, it takes time to fire it up. I like something that I can check performance at a glance.

I came across the MenuMeters App in the fall of 2021. I installed it on my Mac (2018 Mac Mini, macOS Big Sur 11.6) in mid-November. I have been running it ever since. One of the things I like about MenuMeters is that it is Free Open Source Software (FOSS).

What is MenuMeters? It is a set of CPU, memory, disk, and network monitoring tools for macOS.

Once installed, MenuMeter displays real-time data in each category within the Menu Bar.

Clicking on each icon will give you a pull-down panel with further information in each category. Going from left to right, the icons for Memory, Network, Disk, and Processor:

The Preference Panels for MenuMeters offers several configuration options to customize the App.

As with many modern programs, MenuMeters will automatically check for updates. MenuMeters is a port of the App developed by Alex Harper at To get MenuMeters, visit You will find links to download the App and instructions for installing it.


  • It is FOSS software
  • Has run without any problems


  • limited configuration choices

Visit my macOS Software Directory page and find new software for your Mac. Currently, there are over 930 titles indexed with more than 300 available for FREE 

Product Review – AppCleaner for Mac

(See my other OS X related articles – I have had AppCleaner installed for a while and have used it a few times. This is a small Drag-and-drop App cleaner for macOS. It not only deletes the App but can also remove most of the files associated with the App. It is one of the software products from Freemacsoft. As the name implies, this is a FREE software product. I have used it a few times and it seems to both find most of the associated files.

As the name implies, this is a FREE software product. I have used it a few times, and it seems to both find most of the associated files.

When you run AppCleaner you get a window that an App can be drug onto and dripped.

In the example above, I dropped Cisco Webex Meetings onto AppCleaner. As you can see above, AppCleaner found the App itself, two associated folders, and a plist file. Use the checkboxes to the left to select which you want to be deleted, then click on the Remove button at the bottom right.

I also have the App Hazel running on my Mac. As soon as I clicked the Remove button, Hazel identified a few more files associated with Cisco Webex Meetings. I can then let Hazel remove these additional files.

I consider this an App to install on all of my Macs. Part of the essential macOS Toolbox.


  1. Software is FREE
  2. Finds most of the files associated with an App
  3. Very small App 9.6 MB


  1. Hazel had to find a few residual files to be deleted.

Visit my macOS Software Directory page and find new software for your Mac. Currently, there are over 900 titles indexed with more than 300 available for FREE

Product Review: BoomStream Mini Bluetooth Speaker

61saHUmtqjL._AC_SL1010_A few months ago at a CapMac (Capital Macintosh User Group) meeting, I won a BoomStream Mini as a door prize. This is a small, very portable Bluetooth speaker. It is about 3 inches in diameter and 3 inches tall. It also has a 3.5mm input for connection to devices without Bluetooth.

The unit has a 500mA internal battery capable of powering it for up to 5 hours. The recharge time is 3.5 hours. Pairing the speaker with my iPhone was simple. With Bluetooth enabled on my iPhone I powered on the speaker. The speaker went into search mode and I selected it on my iPhone. An audio tone from the speaker confirmed the pairing.

The on-off switch is on the bottom and volume controls on the side as seen in the image above. It is charged through a micro USB port on the side of the unit. A short USB Type-A to micro USB cable is included. You must supply the USB power source.

Once paired, any audio file played on my iPhone is heard on the speaker. The 40 mm speaker produces good volume. I do not think that it is much louder than the iPhone natively produces though. The unit is rated as having a 90Hz to 20kHz frequency response. The speaker specs claim to work with connected devices up to 30 feet away. I did not verify this claim.

I have used the unit a few times when working in the yard or garage. I like to use it in those situations where having an AirPod fall out might result in its loss.

When I looked it up on Amazon today it appears as the ‘SCOSCHE BTSPK1 Portable Bluetooth Wireless Media Speaker‘. At the time I write this post the unit is listed at $29.98 on Amazon.


  • Easy to pair with iPhone
  • Moderate price
  • Good volume
  • Very portable
  • Reasonable 5-hour playtime
  • 30-foot range
  • micro USB charging



  • Poor sound quality – fine or podcasts, not so much for music
  • Slow to recharge – 3.5 hours

Web Tool for Better Writing – Hemmingway Editor

The video above appears in the Further Reading article

I write articles for my Blog almost every day. Sometimes I write several. These may be only a few sentences or several paragraphs in length. I like to work at improving my writing so I have adopted two tools. These are the Safari extension and the Hemmingway Editor

I posted in March of 2018 about the Grammarly extension for Safari. This is a free option for you. The Safari extension only works on web documents. You do have the option with Grammarly of uploading files for analysis. A benefit of the browser extension is that it analyzes every form I fill out on-line. I enter the text to post on my WordPress Blog through the web portal. The extension performs its check on my writing and I can correct it before publishing the post.

Screen Shot 2020-03-28 at 12.35.38 PM

The Hemmingway Editor is also either a free web-based tool or a $19.99 App that you can run on your desktop. I have been using the web version of the tool. You can see a screenshot of this document in that tool before I tweaked it from the suggested changes.

The Hemmingway Editor gives you feedback and suggestions for improving your writing.

  1. It provides a measure of the document’s readability.
  2. It gives you a word count
  3. It counts and identifies used adverbs
  4. It counts and identifies uses of passive voice
  5. It counts and identifies phrases that could be simpler
  6. It counts and identifies hard to read sentences

The only complaint I have is that I cannot copy and paste from Hemmingway into the WordPress web portal. Extra HTML formatting is copied over. I find that it is best to do a “Paste and Match Style”.

If you do any writing, I recommend that you try the Hemmingway Editor. I have been using it for a few weeks and I believe that it has helped me improve how I write.


  1. Free to use the web tool
  2. Gives visual feedback
  3. Interactive, you are immediately able to see the effect of changes
  4. Simple to use


  1. Requires an internet connection
  2. Cutting & pasting from Hemmingway pulls extra HTML formating

Further Reading

  1. Hemingway App: Hemingway Editor for Writing Improvement [Review]

Product Review: Anker Powerwave Stand


(See my other Product Reviews) – I had problems with the Qi charging pad (W-18 Thunder Plus Fast Charging Wireless Charger) I originally bought and used with my iPhone 8 so I looked on Amazon and found the Anker Powerwave Stand. I have been using it now for a couple of months and I am very happy with it. 

The phone sits on the stand and easily aligns with the magnetic coil for consistent charging. It has dual coils that allow for either landscape or portrait orientation on the stand. The stand is capable of “Quick Charge” for Samsung phones, but I only use the Standard Charge Mode with my iPhone 8. I can even leave the Otterbox case on my phone and it works well with it. 

If you are looking for a Qi charger for you smartphone, I can recommend this one. 


  1. Qi Certified
  2. Less than $20 on Amazon ($18.99 the day I write this review)
  3. Works with phone in landscape or portrait orientation


  1. Fast charging on iPhone is not supported
  2. Uses a USB Micro-A connector for power input 
  3. Only a 3 ft USB cable is provided
  4. You must provide a 5V 2A power source

Product Review – Texas Historical Marker Guide App


(See my other 2019 Road Trip and iOS related posts) – On our recent road trip, my wife and I passed several Texas Historical Markers along the roadside. We were curious as to what they said but really didn’t want to take the time to stop and read them. That made me remember a book my father had “Why Stop?: A Guide to Texas Roadside Historical Markers“.


This book was published in 2013 and contains the information of more than 2500 Texas roadside markers. They are still available on Amazon for $15.76 (paperback) and $9.59 (Kindle) at the time I write this.

Of course, the information in that guide is dated and I didn’t have a copy with me on our trip.

I checked to see if there was anything on-line about the markers. What I discovered is the “Texas Historical Marker Guide” App for the iPhone. Not only does this App have more than 16,000 Historical Markers included in its database, but it also has the ability for users to contribute updates.

The App can be purchased through the App Store for $2.99. Per the App website:

Texas is home to over 15,000 historical markers. And now there’s an app to help you find them!

-Onboard marker database means you can browse markers without an Internet connection.
-Browse markers by geographic locations including cities and counties.
-Browse markers by type, size, and subject.
-Browse attractions where markers can be found including cemeteries; state parks; historic districts; etc.
-Uses Location Services to find your current location and display markers in the current county. (Internet connection required)
-Check-in at markers to keep track of visits!
-Update marker coordinates! (Device with GPS radio required)
-Record marker conditions!

-Includes conditions of marker where reported.
-Includes text for many markers with more being added frequently.

-Take pictures with an in-app camera or import from camera roll! (Pictures are not included with app.)
-Share your favorite markers via FaceBook, Flickr, Mail, and iMessage!

-Texas Centennial markers and monuments from 1936!
-Old San Antonio Road markers erected by DAR and the State of Texas in 1918!
-San Jacinto Battleground markers erected by DRT and the State of Texas in 1912!
-Complete Texas works of Pompeo Coppini!
-Selected Texas works of Waldine Tauch, Frank Teich, Elisabet Ney, and others!
-Blue Star Memorial markers (all the ones we know about.)
-New markers erected since 2012!

This is an App that we will use almost every time we are out on the roads (not the Interstates) of Texas.


If you and your family drive Texas, this might be an inexpensive App to help pass the time on the road while learning more about our state.

In the 34 county Hill Country region of Texas, the App shows more than  2300 markers. More than 25 markers show up in the App within 5 miles of my home location.

I used the location of the CapMac (Capital Macintosh User Group) meetings (red arrow) I attend monthly in Austin and found all of the markers shown in the image to the left. You can literally find markers all over the state.

If you really like the App, follow them on Facebook.




  1. Inexpensive at $2.99
  2. Automatically tracks your location
  3. Nearby markers pop up on map
  4. User can easily drill down to details of marker


  1. Text is a little small and can be challenging to read in a moving vehicle
  2. More of a desire than a Con: it would be nice to be able to touch a button to have the details read to you
  3. More of a desire than a Con: it would be nice to have a setting that would automatically read you every marker within a set distance

See my other iOS articles


Product Review: “Duplicate File Finder Remover”


Product Reviews – I recently came across “Duplicate File Finder Remover“. This is a free App from Nektony Limited with a $9.99 Pro version in-App upgrade. As I pointed out in one of my previous articles (TUNEUP YOUR OS X MAC – PART 2), keeping plenty of free space on your boot disk is important.

I have downloaded it from the Mac App Store to my MacBook Pro and have been putting it to use. This utility is a quick way to scan your disk for duplicate files and remove them to free up space.

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 12.51.22 PM

The App is highly rated in the Mac App Store with over 1500 ratings and an average of 4.7. The App scans your disk quickly (it took only a few seconds to scan the 180GB in use on my MacBook Pro SSD). The resulting report is very intuitive and allowed me to easily remove duplicate files.


  • The basic version is free
  • Runs quickly
  • Lets you decide what to delete
  • Rated 4.7 with over 1500 ratings



  • Pro version costs $9.99


Based on my experience with it so far, I recommend this App. I will be making it one of the Essential Apps I install on all of my Macs.

See my other Mac & OS X articles


Product Review: W-18 Thunder Plus Fast Charging Wireless Charger

UPDATED 3/30/20 – Sometime along the way, Apple has updated the iPhone firmware. Now I can again charge my iPhone8 with this charger without any problems. 

UPDATED 10/15/19 – Sadly since I updated to iOS 13 this charger no longer works flawlessly with my iPhone 8. The device does charge my iPhone, but the iPhone beeps every 30 seconds or so and seems to reset the charging process. I tried to find the charger on the “official” Qi Consortium Certified device list, but it was not there. It looks like I will have to buy a replacement if I want Qi charging at my bedside at night.


Product Reviews – After I purchased an iPhone 8 last fall, I saw these Qi chargers for sale in one of the Malls in Singapore. We purchased a pair of these as my wife also has an iPhone 8.

So far they have worked well for us. I should have placed a ruler in the photo to give a feel of the size of the charging pad. It is 4″ square and about 1/4″ thick. Power is supplied to the charging pad by a USB Micro connector from any 5V 2A source. As you can see from the photo, the charging pad is lit by a green LED when not in use.


When you place your device on the charging pad the LED changes to a slowly pulsating deep blue.


  • The convenience of just laying your device on the pad to charge
  • Supports iOS 7.5W charging
  • lightweight, easy to transport


  • Works, but with the constant beeping I would opt for a Qi Certified charger
  • pulsating blue light while charging might be a little distracting when at your bedside at night for some

This is a product that I would not recommend.

Product Review of the “ParcSlope”


Product Reviews – I had been thinking about getting some kind of a stand for my MacBook for a few months. I mostly wanted to provide a cooler operating environment. Luckily, I won a ParcSlope from Twelve South as a door prize at the July CapMac meeting.


The ParcSlope is a heavy duty aluminum stand that will work with just about any tablet or laptop. I am using it with my 2010 MacBook Pro and it works perfectly. It isn’t something I would carry around with me to a coffee shop as it weighs 2 lbs. and measures 2.8″ x 8.3″ x 9.6″. It is great though setting on the table in my apartment while I create my Blog posts.

I have been using it for a few weeks and I not only like the fact that it keeps my Mac running cooler, but I also find that the sloped (18 degrees) keyboard is more comfortable and easier to use.  The elevated screen is also more comfortable to view. It is advertised on the Twelve South website for $49.99 and can be found on Amazon currently for the same price.

While a little pricey, I think this is a great accessory for your MacBook or iPad.



  • Solidly made
  • Works with almost any tablet or laptop
  • Cooler laptop operation
  • More comfortable keyboard access
  • Higher screen for easier viewing



  • Heavy and cumbersome, not something to carry in your computer bag
  • Price


See my other Mac and macOS articles


Product Review – Sony Crackle TV

Product ReviewWeb Tools – I categorized this as a ‘web tool’ as it has a web component, but it is really more than simply that. I have known about Crackle TV for a while, but I was reminded of it at the July CapMac meeting where it was mentioned in the presentation on “Streaming TV” services. Many people are ‘cutting the cord’ and doing away with cable services and choosing a streaming option. Crackle TV is one of those options.

This service originally went under the name of Grouper until it was changed to Crackle in January of 2018. Crackle is a free streaming service that has been around since 2006. At the time of this article, it is available in 21 countries and is available on Roku, Android, Xbox, Apple TV, PS3, and iPhone. You do have to sign up for a free account.

Content includes both TV programs and movies. When I checked as I was writing this article there were over 70 TV series and more than 90 movies available. Available programs are organized into 8 channels – Spotlight Channel, Sony Crackle Originals Channel, Fandom Channel, Action Channel, Comedy Channel, Drama Channel, Thriller Channel, and the Icon Channel. Some content is older, like “Walker, Texas Ranger” on the ‘Icon Channel’, while other like ‘The Oath’ on the Drama Channel is original programming. The programming available through Crackle TV is included in the listings within the Apple TV App in the US.

I do recommend this service/App – I have the App installed on my iPad and Apple TV. Since it is free, I think it is a good option to add.


  1. Free
  2. Wide range of TV series and movies
  3. Available on many different platforms
  4. All on-demand content


  1. Limited current content