Tag Archives: Hardware

Japan, Tokyo – Sony Archives

When looking for someplace within walking distance of my hotel I came across the Sony Archives. The small museum is located at 6-6-39 Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo. The archive collection is managed by Sony, is free and is open to the public, but it does require a reservation ( +81 (0) 3-5448-4455 ).

Sony was founded in the wake of world War II in the fall of 1946. The Sony Archives is not large. You can easily browse through it in about an hour. Many products are on display, including the prototype electric rice cooker that was their first product.

If you are interested in more history of Sony, the Podcast Tech Stuff had a series of three episodes (November 2, 9, & 16 of 2017) that give a good background story. You can find them on the iTunes site.

I would not recommend going out of your way to visit the Archives, but if you are in the area and have a little free time it is an interesting walk through elecronics history.


See my other Food & Location articles


 

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Review of Eufy Smart Plug

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Product Review – My old mechanical timer for a lamp in my office finally failed after several years of service. I decided that this was an opportunity to take a look at one of the smart plugs. I found the Eufy Smart Plug on sale (it looks now like this product has been discontinued and replaced with the eufy Smart Plug Mini, about $22 now on Amazon) so I ordered it.

This is not the most ‘brilliant’ of smart plugs, but then neither did my application require much. I can set a schedule to turn the plug on and off, which is what I was primarily looking for. I can also turn the plug on and off remotely with the EufyHome App (availble on the App Store for free) on my iPhone. It was very easy to set up and pair with the Eufy App running on my iPhone.

While this unit does everything I need for my limited application, I would not buy another one. Any future purchases I make need to be compatible with HomeKit, preferably without the need for a controler.

 

Pros

  • Low cost (about $13 when I purchased it)
  • Easy to set up
  • Does everything advertised
  • Works With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Set on/off Schedules
  • Track energy usage
  • WiFi enabled
  • Can be controlled remotely from the App

 

Cons

  • Not Homekit compatible

Upgrading My Mid 2010 MacBook Pro

I have had a mid 2010 MacBook Pro for a while. It works well, but it is sluggish. Rather than invest in a new MacBook, I chose to make a fairly quick and simple upgrade.

To make my MacBook more useable I upgraded it (similar to what I did to my 2010 Mac Mini a few years ago) with a new SSD.

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It already has 8GB of RAM, so I decided to replace the hard disk with an SSD. I purchased a new SanDisk 250 GB SSD when I found it on sale a few weeks ago.

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I had purchased a 2.5″ external drive case from OWC a while back. I used the interface contained in the drive enclosure to attach the SSD to my MacBook. After formatting the SSD as an APFS drive, I used Carbon Copy Cloner to ‘clone’ (make an exact copy) my boot drive to the SSD. Fortunately for me, this didn’t take too long as the 320 GB hard disk was less than half full – less than 4 hours.

Once the drive had been cloned, I rebooted my Mac selecting the SSD as the boot device (depressed the Option keep when the Mac chimed on reboot and selected the new SSD as the boot drive). I verified that the SSD was working as it should, then shut down my MacBook.

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I removed the screws on the back cover, then removed the screws holding the hard drive bracket. I was then faced with removing the Torx screws that held in the drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a T6 Torx screwdriver available. That necessitated a trip to a nearby Lowe’s. There I picked up a “Kobalt 14-in-1 Precision Driver Set” for about $10 that included the needed T6 head (second from top on left in the photo above). Equipped with that, I easily removed the screws holding the drive in place, then gently disconnected the SATA ribbon cable from the drive. With nothing holding the drive in place I was able to remove it from my MacBook.

I attached the SATA cable to my SSD, placed it into position in the Mac, then refastened the bracket in place. I closed up my Mac, then fired it up. As expected it booted in a fraction of the time previously required with the hard disk. The operation of macOS is now much snappier. Apps boot faster. Alfred works quicker. For the investment of less than $100, I have a drastically improved MacBook.

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As a final step, I mounted the old hard drive in the external chassis. I haven’t reformatted it yet, but if there are no hiccups in the operation of my MacBook I will soon reformat that drive as APFS and will have an external 320GB drive to use.

If you have an older Mac, this is a relatively easy and low-cost way to bring new life to it!

 

References

  1. How to upgrade your MacBook Pro with an SSD
  2. How to select a different startup disk

See my other Mac and OS X articles


 

The Secret History of the iPhone

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Podcasts – I listened to episode #145 of the Internet History Podcast (I mentioned in an earlier article that this was one of the podcasts that I regularly listen to) just yesterday.  In this episode, Brian Merchant, Author of the book “The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone” is interviewed. While the episode could not touch on all of the topics covered in the book, the podcast did reveal some interesting things about the iPhone.

If you are interested in Apple and the iPhone the podcast is something that you may want to listen to. If it peaks your interest, you will want to read the book.

Mac & iPad Accessory Sale – newPCgadgets Stands

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Product Announcements – newPCgadgets of San Diego, California has discounted their popular selling iPad and iPhone acrylic stands and their new MacBook Stand as clever gift ideas for the upcoming 2017 Holiday season. Their slotted iPad acrylic stand is ideal for Apple owners, or soon to be, that would like a solid stand to position their iPad for better viewing and ease of interaction. With over 10,000 already sold, newPCgadgets has lowered the price 40% to $39.95. Bring the Apple store look home and give a clever gift to the Apple fan in your family.

In addition to newPCgadgets slotted iPad stand, newPCgadgets is also offering a lower priced stand for both the iPad and iPad mini. These acrylic pedestals with non-skid white silicone rings duplicate the look and feel of the Apple store and provide a great base to place the iPad on. They have lowered the retail price by 40% just in time for the Holidays.

For shoppers looking for a clever and colorful stand for the MacBook owner on your gift list newPCgadgets has just introduced their Laptop Lift 90. This MacBook stand and riser all-in-one is a great solution for raising the MacBook to a comfortable viewing angle. When not in use the Laptop Lift 90 stores the MacBook upright to save precious desktop space. newPCgadgets reduced the price 30% to $19.95 (USD) for the Holidays.

iPad Accessory Sale – Gumdrop Cases

Product Announcements – Gumdrop Cases of Walnut Creek, California has announced their Black Friday holiday deals, beginning November 22nd and ending Cyber Monday. There will be a daily deal each day that runs for 24 hours only (excluding Thanksgiving Day).

The Promotion Schedule Is:

  • Wednesday, November 22 – All iPad cases 40% off with discount code IPAD4017
  • Thursday, November 23 – Happy Thanksgiving!
  • Friday, November 24 – All Lenovo Miix cases 30% off with discount code MIIX30X7
  • Saturday, November 25 – All Samsung cases 50% off with discount code SAMS5017
  • Sunday, November 26 – All Dell cases 30% off with discount code DELL3017
  • Monday, November 27 – Check back on Cyber Monday for our surprise deal!

Gumdrop Cases offers a wide selection of rugged cases to protect iPads, including:

  • iPad 9.7 (5th Gen, 2017)
  • iPad Pro 12.9
  • iPad Pro 10.5
  • iPad Pro 9.7
  • iPad Mini (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad (2, 3, 4)

With three styles of cases to choose from, anyone can find the right fit:

  • DropTech Clear – Excellent drop protection, with a screen protector and clear Polycarbonate back to show off asset tags, logos, or stickers.
  • Hideaway – Also offers some of the best drop protection and includes a screen protector and a built-in stand to prop up your iPad.
  • DropTech – For iPad Pro devices, the durable DropTech case also includes a handy bi-directional pen holder.
  • FoamTech – Perfect for younger users, the FoamTech case includes a handle that also doubles as a stand.

You can also use the discount codes on Amazon for any product on the Gumdrop Cases website that has a “Buy on Amazon” button. Click that button to go to the corresponding Amazon page and you can enter the promo code before checking out (this promo code will work as long as Gumdrop Cases is the seller). Discounts valid only on the Gumdrop Cases website or Amazon website (no POs and no other discounts can be bundled with an order).

New Accessory for Apple Released – QuickerTek TriBand Antenna

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Product Announcements – QuickerTek of Wichita, Kansas has released a new antenna for the 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB Apple Airport Time Capsule and Base Station. With this new addition they are made capable of going from a 0dBi antenna gain to 5dBi antenna array with the TriBand external antenna system. Depending on each consumer’s specific situation, in house testing shows 2 to 3 times more signal is gained when the Legacy Base Station or Time Capsule is upgraded with this system.

Although the Time Capsule is quite powerful by utilizing the Draft-N 2.0 specification, there is plenty of room for improvement. The MIMO (Multi-Input Multi-Output) antennas are modest in receptive sensitivity and transmission capability. More sensitive external antennas can remedy this. This is exactly what the TriBand is designed to accomplish.

The TriBand self-install kit comes with:

  • Triple 5dBi omni directional antenna system
  • 3 foot coaxial extension cable
  • Instruction manual with detailed instructions on adapter cable installation
  • 3 custom adapter cables

TriBand compatibility:

  • Compatible with all 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wifi2.4gHz and 5.8gHz networks
  • Adds external antennas to Legacy Base Station Extreme and Time Capsule access points
  • The adapter cable system allows for connecting Wi-Fi amplifiers and directional antennas

Our external antenna system for the Apple Airport Base Station and Time Capsule is the only unit of its kind on the market. It has been sold over the years for both home and business use.

Through the month of November, QuickerTek is offering 20% off the TriBand, bringing the price from $125 USD to $99 USD.

MacBook Accessory – QuickerTek qCard 2 and qCard 3

Product Announcements – 802.11ac wireless is fast – as much as twice the speed of the previous 802.11n wireless of the built-in MacBook wireless card. This high-speed wireless provides streaming video, video conferencing with no hiccups, fast media file downloads and nearly instant web browsing. QuickerTek of Wichita, Kansas offers internal wireless cards which provide older Macs with 802.11ac capabilities.

Any last generation MacBook Pro or Air running Mac OS X 10.10.x and a PCIe bus is a candidate for the qCard 2 or qCard 3. Bluetooth 4.0 LE is also added with this product as the qCard 2 and 3 uses the same number of internal antennas as the latest generation MacBooks. Installation is easy, saving you money on “hidden costs” for repair shop labor.

There are two qCards engineered by QuickerTek to match what is inside your Mac. The Macbook Air models have two internal antennas which is why we call it a qCard 2 and the Macbook Pro models have three antennas thus the name qCard 3. Utilizing the same chipset and drivers as the new MacBook Air or Pro model, this card can be used to upgrade PCIe Mac models to the newly announced Wi-Fi standard of 802.11ac. The Blue Tooth 4.0 LE is also added and uses the same number of internal antennas as the latest generation of Macs with 10.10.x. You can get double the speed you’re getting now with the 802.11n wireless network. 802.11ac uses the 5 gHz spectrum as well as 2.4 gHz standard used with 802.11n.

qCard 2 and 3 Features:

  • Delivers the fastest wireless speeds to older MacBook Pro and Air
  • Delivers Bluetooth 4.0 LE to older MacBook Pro and Air
  • Leaves USB ports free
  • User installable
  • Very low cost

For the month of November, QuickerTek is offering 20% off of these 802.11ac internal wireless cards, bringing the price from 99.00 USD to 79.00 USD.

Product Review of the “ANKER Multi-Angle Stand”

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Product Review – I bought the ANKER Multi-Angle Stand just a few days ago for use with my iPad. There are times when I want to use it as my primary writing device and having a stand that will prop the screen up at a comfortable angle makes a big difference.

I have been using it and I am very happy with it. Event though it is not very large, it easily props up my iPad on a table of lap desk. The fact that it is only $8.99 on Amazon is a real plus in my mind.

It has six preset positions from nearly vertical to nearly flat. A button on the top left allows you to change the angle of the stand and each position is locked in place with a clear ‘snap’ of the stand. It has pads on the bottom edges to reduce the chance of sliding. There are also similar pads to both hold and protect your electronic device. Though the unit is very light, it is of strong construction. I have no fear of it being bent or broken in the bottom of my computer bag.

This little accessory will be in my electronics travel kit from now on.

Pros

  • Will work with almost any phone or tablet
  • Six different angles for devices
  • Low cost ($9)
  • Light weight (less than 4 oz)
  • Small size (3.15 x 4.72 x 1.06 inches)
  • Will hold devices weighing up to 11 lbs.

 

Cons

  • Stand only has fixed positions
  • Non-slide pads on the bottom could have more ‘grip’

Control Your Dongles

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Tech Tip – We all have so many dongles, cables and other accessories these days to carry along with our phones, tablets and laptops. It is often difficult to control all of these small items. Certainly there are several solutions that you can buy that are designed for the purpose, but we often have unused items laying around the house that offer a ‘free’ alternative.

For so many of us over the age of 40, the most likely option is an old eyeglasses case. But there are other containers that will fill the need – small boxes, jewelry boxes and various bags. While I was first introduced to this idea by my wife who was using an old eye glass case for her cables, I have seen the ‘life hack’ idea elsewhere since then.

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While these containers are on the small side, they will contain and control a variety of items that you want in your computer bag. In the photo above I am using an old jewelry box, a plastic cream cheese container from The container Store and the box that my AirPods came in. It is much easier to find one of these containers than digging through your computer bag trying to find a specific dongle or thumb drive.