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    April 27, 2016
    Wordless Wednesday: Space Marathon

    tim-peake-space-marathon

    Image via Discovery.

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    April 5, 2016
    Nest Shutters Revolv Home Hub

    revolv_nest

    When I was looking to buy a new furnace for my house, one of the choices I had to make was with my thermostat.  Did I want a simple dial to turn?  Did I want four settings, eight settings, or some other group of settings?  Did I want to splurge on a smart thermostat?  Honestly, I considered it, but I didn’t go with a smart thermostat for one simple reason: you’re dependent on the company to keep your thermostat functional.  Nest is shutting off the servers that power the Revolv Home Hub, leaving those users without a working thermostat.

    Of course, Nest purchased Revolv in 2014, and it immediately took Revolv’s products off the market, and users were warned in February that their thermostats were going to go offline in April, but still, that’s a pretty bad time of the year to turn off people’s heat.  After all, there’s still snow on the ground and there’s plenty of cold weather yet to come, and while a warning is nice, that’s still a $300 thermostat that someone’s going to have to replace.

    Nest’s products have been online since 2011, but that’s no guarantee they’ll still be online in 2017 or beyond.  Yes, Next is now owned by Alphabet and has Google’s money behind it, but services can go away at any point.  Then you’re stuck with a smart thermostat without any smarts.

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    March 29, 2016
    Google Wants Your Land Line Phone

    Google is doing a great job of expanding its offerings.  Google Fiber is growing every day, and Google’s television networks and the like are value added on top of the Google Fiber cherry.  However, there’s one place where the Google is lagging behind, and that’s land-line phones.  Yes, they’re still a thing, and lots of people still have them.  Now Google is going to make them happen, too.  Google is going to take your land-line phone to the cloud.

    Google Fiber Phone is basically a Google Fiber addition for $10 a month.  Google Fiber Phone is basically a cloud-based phone that can be accessed from any device you have, from your mobile phone to tablets and, yes, the home phone.  It has unlimited local and national calling, E-911 service, and similar rates as Google Voice for long distance calls.

    “While mobile phones have pushed us toward the future, home phone service is still important to many families,” writes Google Fiber product manager John Shriver-Blake.  “Landlines can be familiar, reliable and provide high-quality service, but the technology hasn’t always kept up.”

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    January 15, 2016
    Smart Thermostats Hit By Bugs

    When I got a new furnace put in my house in November, I had to decide just what kind of thermostat I wanted to use.  Did I want to install a smart thermostat, a programmable thermostat, a normal thermostat?  And did I want a very smart thermostat or just a regular type smart thermostat?  I ended up getting a pretty simple programmable thermostat, with settings for the working week, Saturday, and Sunday, with options for the heat before work, during the day, after work, and overnight.  It’s not smart, but it’s pretty close, and it doesn’t need fancy software to function.  Good thing, too.

    A bug in the software is leaving Nest users in the cold, literally.  A bug in the code previously disabled some Nest services in September, and now that we’re officially in winter’s embrace, those outages are very troublesome.  Nest users were sleeping at night and waking up to cold houses and drained batteries, leaving them in the cold quite literally.  Fortunately, there’s a fix:  you plug your thermostat into the USB port or press a few buttons to reset things, and Nest go back to normal.

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    October 14, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Cash Redditer

    Via Reddit, of course.

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    October 5, 2015
    The iPhone 6S Is Burning Fingertips

    One of the big features of the iPhone 6S is the Touch ID button.  You put your thumb on it, and boom, you open the phone up and there’s your stuff.  It’s a great idea, and it beats using a bunch of numbers as a security solution.  However, with every new innovation comes problem, and with every product launch comes the potential for some sort of mistake or another.  There are always little bugs that will eventually get worked out, some of them are just more unpleasant than others.  For example, the iPhone 6.  The iPhone 6’s Touch ID button is reported to get too hot to touch, and the phone itself overheats and closes down.

    Apparently, this is getting to be a common problem for iPhone 6S owners.  A lot of the issues can be corrected with future software updates, but it remains to be seen just what ideas Apple has for solving this problem.  Odds are it has something to do with the device itself overheating, and hopefully it’s not some sort of design issue that would require a big effort to correct.

    Still, as someone who just burned his fingers on a mug of tea, I can empathize with Apple’s singed and unhappy customers.  There are few things worse than burning your fingertips.

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    September 25, 2015
    Protect Your New iPhone 6s With A Case

    With every new phone purchase, the second purchase made is pretty much always something intended to protect the phone from the perils of use.  Scratch the screen or drop the thing on some concrete, and you might have just thrown $600 down the drain.  After all, not every store warranty is worth the price you pay for it, and the less said about Apple Care, the better.  No, the best thing to do to protect your new iPhone 6S or 6S Plus is via a phone case.  PC World has a round-up of the best iPhone cases on the market.

    One good thing about upgrading from an iPhone 6 is that the case for that phone will more than likely fit your iPhone 6S.  After all, the differences are pretty negligible; if anything, the S line is slightly heavier and thicker than the others, by a millimeter or so.  So that’s good news if you’re wanting to save a little money–you’ll need it to upgrade your phone–but if you’re looking for a new case, that’s a really good line-up to take care of a lot of different options.

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    July 2, 2015
    Apple Adds Pink To iPhone Line

    The name of the technology game is upgrading.  These days, there are no real new markets.  Everything’s covered, from wearables to phablets.  The key now is to get customers from other brands or get your own users to upgrade to the latest and greatest thing, whatever that might mean at a certain time.  For Apple, the goal is to sell iPhones and goose the iPod market a bit by shaking things up look-wise.  Apple’s always been a company that sold itself on being fashionable, and that has only gotten more prevalent as users continue to want their devices to e pretty and functional.  Apple’s new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will come in pink, among other colors.

    If you’re not able to upgrade now, don’t worry; the rumors are that Apple will update their iPhone handset line in 2017.  I imagine by the time you do that, you’ll still be able to get your pink or blue or green iPhone with all the new bells and whistles, rather than just a new color and a touch-sensitive screen that reacts to pressure.  Still, the improvement of the touch screen might help things along, and since Apple is already using a lot of colors in their cheaper iPhone line, it’s only reasonable to keep the color scheme moving in the higher-end models.

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    July 1, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: TV Chair

    Via Mental Floss and 1st Dibs.

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    April 28, 2015
    A Power-Free Washing Machine

    Sometimes you just have to wash some clothes, but you don’t have the ability to do so.  Maybe your washing machine is broken.  Maybe the power is out.  Maybe you’re traveling and you’re not wanting to pay for the price of a trip to the laundromat for just a few things.  Either way, a company called Yirego has come up with a $129 solution to the problem.  The Drumi is a power-free washing machine powered by the foot, not the cord.

    Of course, the machine isn’t going to replace your full-sized washing machine, but if you have access to soap and clean water and some time to dedicate to stepping on a foot pedal for awhile, then you’ll have six or seven pieces of clean laundry once you hand the stuff out to dry.  But the Drumi functions as both a washer and a spin-cycle to drain excess water out of the clothes.  If you’re a traveler, this seems like a really interesting investment that would fit pretty well in the back of a car or in a trunk for traveling purposes.

    If you’re interested, the Yirego Drumi is available for preorder at yirego.com.

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