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February 7, 2017

My Visit to the Dark Side

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:35 am

I recently had the opportunity to test an iPhone, 5S.  Keep in mind as I continue I began this as an Android fan-boy.  But in my new position I have been asked to test specific phones to decide on which one best works for me.

So, several weeks ago, I began my journey to the Apple iPhone.  Before I go on I will say that before I wore it out I had an Apple iPod, Classic 80 and it could not be beat by any other mp3 player on the market.  If they had not been discontinued I would own a newer now but oh well, life goes on.  So, it is not like I absolutely cannot stomach their products, I really liked my iPod.

Since I previously worked in the cell phone industry, I could use most any phone made.  However, I have started out with and remained loyal to Android phones since they came out.  No reason other than the iPhones were more expensive and I didn’t really think the features were worth the extra money.

A few weeks with an iPhone may not be a fair comparison regarding years with Android but here is what I think.

iPhone 5s              Galaxy S6

The iPhone seems to be snappier in execution of applications.  The applications seem to run better and to be more stable than on Android.  I did not time anything. It was just a feeling I got as I used it regarding the “snap.”   I like the size and width of the iPhone, but more on that later.  I liked some of the default apps/abilities loaded on the new iPhone.  Since I now have meetings in many different time zones around the world, I like the system because it let me set phones for any time zone and have them side-by-side which was quite convenient.  I believe this to have been caused by the carriers but I found that I dropped far fewer calls on the iPhone than I had in the past with Google’s OS.

Those were most of the pros, now some cons.  Above, I mentioned the smaller size as a pro.  I did like that a lot at first; however, after a day or so I found that I did not like the screen size.  It is much smaller than the Galaxy S6 I dumped for this phone.  Next, something that has always bothered me about Apple products is the cost.  Not only is the hardware pricier but the applications cost you, too.  Most every Android app I used for free was 99 cents and up for Apple.  Next, the battery life of the 5S was much less than my Android S6.

The largest difference that I grew to dislike on the iPhone was being locked into their “desktop.”  How many ways can you say, “boring?”  You get the round icons to launch the apps, you can rearrange them and move them to different screens but that is all.  No widgets for weather, phone calls, music, video, etc.  The desktop contains the installed apps, the date and time and a search and message bar if you swipe down from the top.  Android allows you to install widgets for most every application running so you get a live preview any time you look.

In my opinion the android system is much more user-friendly and much more useful than the iPhone.  I will stick with my Google based systems.  I will also say that I did not hate the Apple OS as much as I thought I would.  It is a good system and very functional, but just like my computers I will stick with Windows PCs (with some Linux) and Android for my phone.  You may not like what I said but now I have actually tried one out.

Apple vs. Android

March 2, 2013

Logitech M310 Wireless Mouse

FACTS:
  • I have owned approximately 7-8 wireless mice over the years, including ones for my wife.  
  • I am currently using the Logitech M310 on my Latitude D620 notebook.
    • I have used it extensively for about two years.
  • I bought it to replace a worn out Microsoft  Wireless 3000, with the big USB receiver shown below in black & white.
  • User Manual.

PICS:

Logitech M310 & USB Plug Logitech M310 bottom open   Microsoft 3000 Wireless Mouse


DESCRIPTION:
  • Starting at the top the first thing you notice is the small receiver which I prefer much more than the older MS mouse…for very obvious reasons. 
  • The M310 is for lefties or righties so if you use either hand or are ambidextrous you are covered. 
  • They come in multiple colors of which mine is blue.
  • The left and right buttons large and have a division down the middle but no back slot since they are flexible and seem to be solidity built.
  • On the bottom you can see that there are the standard drag-pads as with most modern wireless mice.
  • An “On-Off” slider switch.
  • The “Invisible Optic” port that takes the place of the old mouse ball.
  • The battery compartment is opened by pushing and sliding the cover out of the way.
  • One AA battery powers the mouse.
  • A space is provided to store the USB receiver when needed.

PERSONAL OPINION:

Per the list above, you may not care to but I leave the USB receiver in one of my USB ports 24/7/365 with never an issue…other than taking up a port.  I have four ports on this computer so it really has never created a problem for me.

The shape is fine, pretty standard other than the left or right design.  I have issues with carpel tunnel syndrome from time-to-time and this does not bother that any more or less than other mice…I wish there was one that was an anti-CT version (fantasy).

The buttons work well, easy to click but firm.  I have read one review where the person got a little into saying that they were too easy to click.  I think they may just have had very heavy fingers.  As with most the scroll-wheel also allows push click for other uses.  I never change mine from the default so I cannot comment about other uses.

The “On-Off” switch works easily and never by accident.  There is a sleep mode to conserver battery life.  When it has not been used for a period of time the mouse/battery shutdown.  However, I have to say that I have rarely forgotten to turn the mouse off after I use it.  I am not that smart just hyper about batteries.  I would figure that the sleep-mode works but how would you know for sure.  I have never noticed a lag as if it were waking from sleep, so no complaints there.

The battery life on mine is excellent and in the two years I have used it I have replaced the battery once.  I do not use it everyday but I would bet I use it about as much as the average user.


PRICES:

These mice are currently listed on Logitech’s site at $29.99; however, I got mine much less than that when it was on sale at the local Target store.  Look around and see if you are interested. 

I always suggest you look in your local “brick & mortar” stores and buy there to help your local community.  You can sometimes find good deals online too.  Just do not forget to include the cost of shipping and handling.


RATING:

I would rate it an 8.5 out of 10 as it is a good mouse that does exactly what it should.  For me it has performed better than expected.  I always expect some problems or design flaws but this one really works for me. 

I would like to see it improved by having a more positive sleep mode so that you really “know” that your battery is being saved.  Yes, I know this may be a weird issue, but guess I am just an inquiring mind.

Any thoughts?

January 22, 2013

Select Text…Maybe

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:02 am

Demo of selecting text

I recently received an email from Bev which at first seemed very strange.  She said, "Recently, when I select a portion of text to change it such as bold it, delete it, etc. — the selection won’t hold."  At first I thought it was just in Word and figured that possibly her Word documents were opening in "Read Only" mode.  When you have a file that is "Read Only" it basically means you can read the file fine but you cannot edit it.  This was not her issue since she said that it also happened in email, Word and just about anywhere on her computer when trying to select text.  The problem was intermittent; sometimes she could select text, sometimes not, and other times it was a fight to get it to work at all. 

I believe it all came down to the mouse, but why could a mouse cause this weird issue?  First, it depends on the type of mouse you have.

The older wired mouse with a ball built into the bottom, which is used to track the cursor around the screen, has always caused issues.  Think about it, the little weighted ball rolls around the whole time you use your mouse.  It touches whatever surface you are "mousing" on.  Regardless of whether the surface is very clean or very dirty the mouse ball will get grubby over time.  If a dirty surface, the ball picks up dried up coffee spills, grit, toast crumbs, Disassembled mouseetc.  Even if it is a clean surface you are still going to pick up dust and lint over time.  This collection of grime gets pulled up into the mouse and wraps around the little rolling bars which make the cursor move on your screen.  It is fairly easy to clean by turning the mouse over, turning the ring with arrows in a counterclockwise direction, pulling it off, shaking the ball out and with tweezers or a toothpick removing any junk you can see.  I do not recommend using a q-tip swab since they can add a few more particles to the mechanics.

What if you have a wireless mouse and there is no ball?  Dirt can still get on the little window on the bottom of the mouse, which replaced the ball.  Clean it with a lint free cloth or maybe a slightly damp cloth. 

Sometimes, depending on which type of wireless mouse you have, the surface you are mousing on could cause a problem.  If it is a very shiny or glass surface, try putting a piece of paper under it to see if that improves the action.  Sometimes, though not often, it could also be caused by a heavily patterned surface, so check that also.

However, the biggest issue with the wireless mouse and it not working properly is usually the battery.  Batteries in the newer wireless mice last a long time.  I have a couple that have lasted over a year.  Since they are so dependable we sometimes forget about the batteries.  So when you have a "tracking" problem like sometimes being able to select text and sometimes not…check the battery.  I am pretty sure that will be your problem.

May 31, 2011

Wireless or Wired for Your Home?

You live in a home as we all do, whether an apartment, condo, townhouse, single-family, duplex, etcetera. You also use a computer in your home.  OK, I know that last one isn’t true for everyone but if you are reading this I will make that assumption.  You may be thinking about upgrading your internet connection; either a more modern Wi-Fi router or hard-wired with multiple outlets around your home…which way should you go?

Cat5 CableOne thing to consider is that Wi-Fi requires you to set up one additional component for somewhere around $50; whereas, wired requires you to run Cat5 cable throughout your place with a significantly higher cost.  (Cat5 is twisted pair high signal cable. Think of COAX cable with the wider phone plugs on the ends or RJ-45.).  The cost and inconvenience could be a limiting factor.  If you are doing some rehabbing of your home or building a new home, the decision becomes easy.  Wire your home if at all possible.

But isn’t Wi-Fi any good?  Absolutely, Yes!  But Wi-Fi does have some limitations.

As Bill Testerman, of Silicon Logic, states regarding wireless, “Distance and the speed of your connection are inversely proportional.  Thus, for a given frequency band, higher speed always means lower distance.  You want to sit 50 feet from your access point?  Prepare to sacrifice performance.

Unfortunately he goes on to say, “The only workaround is high-power radio transmitters, which are limited by the FCC to fairly low values, due to potential interference and other issues.  With a wired connection, you don’t suffer nearly this significant a loss over distance.”  People in the know state that for a high-quality Cat5 or 6 cable you can get about 300 feet from the source with little to no loss of signal strength.

Basically, wired is solid, wireless has some limiting factors.

Simply stated, with Wi-Fi the further you are from the source, the greater your broadcast signal degrades.  Also, other factors interfere with your signal.  Construction materials, i.e., drywall, concrete, metal, etc. in your home can slow down the waves along with wireless phones, copper wires in your walls, running HVAC, etc.

After all that “bad” news I will say that for my internet use, wireless router is fine.  I can surf the net, work from home, or watch videos including Netflix and Hulu, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc. I like it and for $39.95 it was well worth the investment in the wireless router and a quick set up.

WiFi RouterI have wireless in my home and love it…best of all I can sit on my back porch to work, or watch movies and play online – not necessarily in that order.  Yes, some days the signal is a little weaker than others.  However, I have investigated and found that this is often due to my service provider, whom I won’t mention here since they have lots of lawyers and I have none.

March 30, 2010

Mouse Rugs

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , — Ron @ 4:06 am

Several weeks ago I commented about wireless mice.  Since then I have received a surprising number of emails with regards to mice.  The major one seems to be that some people think the blue light laser mice work great on glass and an equal number say they do not.  Since I do not have one I cannot toss in my two cents worth.  All of you “blue lighters” out there need to keep me posted.

Several others asked me if there is even a need for mouse pads today.  I have a couple of different answers for you.

If you have a mouse with a large gray ball on the bottom I would say, “yes, definitely”.  The mouse pad will help the tracking ball on the mouse work much smoother.  It also makes it easier to keep that area of your desk clear of junk.  You know like water drops, papers and other things that get in the way of your mouse.  It is also easy to clean the pad if it does get dirty.

If you have an optical mouse, either wired or wireless the need is not as great.  I have wireless mice, as you read about in that previous column.  I always use a mouse pad for my desktop computers.  I think it is psychological but it keeps that area of the desks clutter-free.  However, with my portables I do not use a mouse pad.  I do not feel like carrying around something else in my already overloaded backpack.  I think it would be goofy to pull out my little mouse pad and lay it on the table a Panera’s.

Now, after all this talk about mouse pads I have to get you to take a look at a very interesting site that I found this week.  I was at a friend’s place of business writing a column.  I asked if he had a mouse pad that I could borrow since his table was glass and mine would not function.  He brought me his that was an (in my opinion) exact duplicate of an oriental rug that my mother used to have…but it was a mouse pad.  With the fringe and all?! image

I flipped it over and on the back it had the URL where you may purchase them online at  Mouserug.com.  The Mouserug site has a large number of mouse pads that look great.  The one that I am going to purchase is the “The Claire Murray Liberty Mouse Rug”.  I may put it off for a while as the price is a little higher than I like for a mouse pad, a little less than $20.

By-the-way, I had an article published on the Microsoft.com site last week.  Please go take a read and let me know what you think.

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