Archive for 2015

The Tradition Continues

December 24th, 2015, 6:36pm by Jake

Twas the night before Christmas, and on our website
We had s sprinkle of posting, comments were still light
WordPress is running Pyslent with due care
We may seldom write, but we still come & stare

Six children were nestled, all snug in their beds
While visions of gadgets danced in dads’ heads
The Pats kept on winning, the Niners not so much
Tom Brady throws footballs with a Montana-like touch

Out on the internet arose such a clatter
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter
Grabbed my iPad Air, still working just fine
All the Apple gadgets, aging like fine wine

The internet was crazy, I’d never seen such a flurry
But I must be quick, I must be in a hurry
Then I just saw him, almost did not catch it.
It’s Rotiveo– the patron saint of gadgets!

Rotiveo wore Mobile Pants, size extra tall
And his clothes were vibrating, must be a phone call
Brought a load of gadgets, and even a game
And he whistled, and shouted and called sites by name

“Now Groupon! Now Target! And Amazon too!
To Westfield! To Costco! To Fandango too!”
All over the web, he searched high and searched low
To find all the stuff, now it’s ready to go!

All across the internet, Rotiveo he flew
A storm of traffic he did see in his rear view
He found the best deals, on the very best gear
It’s so cutting edge, it will still be good next year.

The net’s overflowing with really good stuff
Getting it to work might be kind of tough
With all sorts of cords and fifty kinds of plugs
(For us early adopters, we’re used to the bugs)

Rotiveo’s got just the right thing for us all
No Cable, Blackberry, nor ‘lectronic pinball
Instead it’s Apple’s Watch and their brand new TV,
Smartphones, Chromebooks, open your eyes & you’ll see!

Joanie and Mike finished expanding their new home
Adam and Emma opening presents while living in a tropical zone
Kelvin and Serena living in Apple’s future shadow
Lucas still trying to be good don’t you know

Jake & Jen take it easy for the long weekend,
The festival of lights put their candles to an end .
Brandon & Tiffany can now fight over Evan
His first Christmas, a little slice of heaven!

How could Lucas be eight and Brandon be ten?
They’ll still love presents, all over again
Tiffany, Adam & Emma sure know Christmas is grand
Too many toys for sixty big & little hands.

Happy in doggie heaven, looking down with such glee
There is Montana, merrily running free
She still sleeps and when she does she still dreams
Mostly of eating, people food I believe

Rotiveo sprang to Roomba (hacked years before)
And away they went, after cleaning the floor
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Miles, points, and credit card update

November 22nd, 2015, 2:38pm by Mike

You all know I’m into miles and points, and even though I’m not traveling much lately, I stay on top of these things (mainly by reading one blog, linked below several times). Three things to update on:

First, as you’ve probably heard by now, Starwood and Marriott are merging to create the biggest hotel chain in the world. There’s no clarity on what happens to SPG, but the thinking seems to be that it’ll be swallowed up by Marriott Guest Rewards, which is twice as big. And much crappier. May be worth thinking about revisiting all those accumulated SPG points. Personally, I signed up for the SPG Business Amex a couple months ago to get 30k bonus points (which I used to earn in 3 weeks in NYC!), and now their value isn’t as clear (but I did just use SPG points for some flights, which is actually a pretty good use of them, I think, since there’s no blackout dates. We got our tickets for Spring Break that way, which would have been very expensive otherwise). Always the danger with accumulating points — they can be arbitrarily devalued at any time.

Second, and related, Hyatt is running a status match right now to their Diamond Preferred (top level) — so it’s a good time to match SPG to Hyatt, since the future of SPG Platinum isn’t clear. Again, Marriott’s program kinda sucks. This link describes how the early movers did (very well), and it sounds like Hyatt may be getting more restrictive on the status match, but still worth a try. I’m trying, anyway.

Third, credit cards. Some cards that are pretty worthwhile to have are especially worthwhile right now. These two cards in particular:

  • Chase Freedom: Gives The Chase Freedom card has no annual fee, and gives 1% in cash back or points for all purchases, except for bonus categories each quarter that get 5%. It’s usually categories like gas stations and grocery stores. For this quarter, the bonus is for Amazon companies — and not only that, it’s a 10% bonus! With the holidays, a 10% off coupon at Amazon is likely to be pretty useful — and as many have pointed out, if you want to maximize this, just buy gift cards via Amazon (for Amazon or anywhere else) that you can use later in the year.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Gives Ultimate Rewards points: 1% back on all purchases, 2% on restaurants and travel (defined very broadly). $95 annual fee, waived first year. It is a staple among miles/points people, and right now they’re offering 50,000 points as a sign-up bonus if you spend $4000 on the card in the first 3 months. If you also have the Chase Freedom card, you can accrue ultimate rewards points from spend on both cards — or 10 points per dollar  for Amazon, which is really good.

If you’re interested in either of these credit card deals, let me refer you and I’ll get some bonus points, too! Or don’t, either way, just take advantage of the deals if you want! In the meantime, I’m watching all of my hotel and airline status expire by the end of the year — reward for actually having time at home instead of on the road!

 

 

 

 

 

New Tech

November 19th, 2015, 10:03pm by Mike

I can’t do this in 140 characters, but wanted to run down the new tech I’ve gotten lately. Let’s bring The Board back to its roots!

First, I got a new job, which got me:

  • An iPhone 6, 64GB. Best thing by far is the Touch ID, and I’m already used to the bigger screen — probably because it’s getting cold here and I have coat pockets. I would have wanted the 6S, but this one was free from work. 
  • A Dell laptop. It’s actually pretty nice. At this point, I love having a Mac at home (esp with an iPhone), but I’m addicted to features in Excel for Windows (keyboard shortcuts and pivot tables, to start), PowerPoint add-ins and macros, and OneNote, none of which have feature parity in the Mac. 

I’ve also recently gotten:

  • A Lenovo laptop. I bought this before leaving my last job, since I need a machine that doesn’t belong to some company that can do things like open archived emails. I got this refurbed ThinkPad X220 for $250, and we got Office 2016 for $10 from Joanie’s work. Btw, are any of you using Win10? Should I upgrade from 7?
  • A Pebble Time Round. My third Pebble. It looks like a normal watch (I got the black one), and is about the thickness of one of those thin Skagen watches. The software is much improved from the original Pebbles, and I really like the Timeline UI. And it was $225, so much cheaper than the Apple Watch. We’ll revisit the Apple Watch when v2.0 comes out, but so far, this one is great. 
  • Lots of bike stuff. I’ve been riding indoors on a trainer in my basement, where I have our old TV set up to watch videos or use Zwift. It’s not nearly as good as riding outside, but better than not riding. 

And not tech, but I’m excited to go and pick up our Advent Beer Box in the next couple of days. 

Anything new and exciting from you guys?

Another keynote

September 9th, 2015, 8:13pm by Mike

I could be stranded on another planet, but when Apple keynote time comes around, I feel the need to head over to The Board to make a post. This pretty much fits with the frequency of new posts around here. I haven’t watched the keynote itself, but I’ve read a bit today.

 

So, what did we get today?

  • iPhone 6S. Looks like more than the usual speedbump for the “S” designation. I’m pretty sure I’ll be jumping in on this one, to replace the now-three-generations-old iPhone 5 I have. Besides the things I’m most excited about (more storage, Touch ID, Apple Pay — which aren’t new), the new camera looks good, but I’m not sure about “3D Touch.”  I think the iOS interface is getting way to complicated — they keep adding on new, more complicated ways to “get out of our way,” and it’s getting to be a mess. Maybe it’ll be better in person, but now, in addition to where I touch, and whether I move my finger(s) while touching, I also have to think about how hard I’m touching. I guess it’ll either be intuitive or completely confusing, we’ll have to see.
  • AppleTV. Since getting our new TV, we only use the AppleTV for one thing — AirPlay. Looking at the features of the new AppleTV, we already have all the streaming services, a nice interface (thanks to WebOS), and even a remote that allows us to do the “smart search” that Apple is touting (we can say, “Modern Family,” and it’ll tell us which streaming services have it, and also search YouTube, and give links onscreen. It’s pretty awesome.). As such, we’re probably not in the market for this anytime soon. We do want another Airplay receiver for our old TV, but I may save $80 and get an “old” AppleTV instead. Interesting, too, that the new AppleTV did away with optical audio out, which we actually used with our soundbar.
  • iPad Pro. No interest. Interesting that in an atmosphere of declining iPad sales, they’ve decided that what the world needs is a bigger, more expensive iPad. I wonder whether I’ll ever see one of these in public.
  • Apple Watch. Not sure what’s new other than a pink color, but I guess we’re still waiting for the updated OS. I’ll leave this to our Apple Watch correspondent.

So, that’s that. Anybody psyched about any of this?

Notifications

August 5th, 2015, 7:01pm by Kelvin

So, how do you all organize and manage your notifications on your phones? For me, I have 2 classes of notifications: ones that I want to interrupt me with a sound alert and/or a vibration, and ones that accrue silently on my lock screen and notification shade. The ones that alert me are generally those that I would want to at upon right away: phone calls, text messages, calendar alerts, and Google Now alerts.  The other notifications I use to give me a quick overview of the things that had happened since the last time I checked my phone. I will glance at my lockscreen to check these when I have down time: things like Giants score changes, emails received, Twitter/Facebook notifications, a bunch others. 

I’ve been thinking about this system a lot since getting an Apple Watch– I mirror all these notifications there, pretty much with the same 2-tier system, but of course, I am able to discreetly check my watch much more often than my phone, so I think I tend to be distracted more often by the second class notifications. Not sure if I like that. 

TiVo on the AppleTV

August 1st, 2015, 1:55am by Jake

At long last. Tivo finally updated their app so it supports AirPlay. That means I can now stream tv shows from the living room TiVo onto the bedroom tv via an iPad or iPhone. Tested it tonight and it works fine. A long overdue technology on the one hand, on the other hand it’s nice that the AppleTV, TiVo & iPad manage to improve years after the release of these models.

anyone else rocking this or a similar configuration? Living off of OTA tv and Netflix, this handy tool will make it practical to dump even Hulu, which we’ve kept for the tv watching flexibility.

The Martian

July 20th, 2015, 8:33pm by Mike

I could have sworn we had a post here about the book, “The Martian,”  but I guess it was just a Twitter conversation. At this point, I think we’ve all read/listened to it, and of course, the movie is on its way — but if not, here’s a plug, courtesy of xkcd.

 

martian

Warcraft: The Movie!

July 10th, 2015, 5:10pm by Jake

After a half decade hiatus, pyslent may have to get back into Warcraft. Apparently there’s a movie coming out soon and it may turn into a trilogy. Next pyslent meet up?

Photo backup

May 30th, 2015, 5:20pm by Mike

Wondering what you guys do to back up and view your photos. I’ve investigated a couple of options, but not found anything that really suits our needs. 

Our needs:

  1. Upload 40GB (20k) photos currently stored in Photos for Mac (side note — Photos is OK, but not great, and not a meaningful upgrade from iPhoto as far as I’m concerned. Among other things, I hate that you can’t edit geotags, but I imagine that’s coming in some future update). 
  2. Allow our family to upload, download, and see the photos, via a single, shared account — ideally on our mobile devices.
  3. In the event of a catastrophic crash of our local machines, be able to redownload the photos easily (i.e., get them out of the cloud).

The options we’ve investigated:

  • iCloud Photo Library. We’ve actually gone ahead and authorized $3.99 per month for 200 GB. The biggest gripe is that it’s associated with a single iCloud account, and has no Family Sharing support (we’re all an iCloud Family here, which means we can all share music, apps, calendars, etc, but not photos). This is so ridiculous and such an obvious deficiency that I can’t imagine that it won’t be fixed soon. In the meantime, I can see all of our photos on my iPhone and iPad, and every new picture is uploaded automatically, but not photos that Joanie takes — and she can’t see them through her own iCloud account.  We’d set up w dummy iCloud account, but the Photos app doesn’t have its own iCloud connection, so it uses the system’s iCloud info — which is tied to iMessage, apps, etc — so that won’t work either.
  • Amazon Cloud Photos. It’s free for Prime members, which is good, but very rudimentary, and has the same issue with family sharing (we are a prime family, but cloud storage is by Amazon ID, and doesn’t understand families). 
  • I’ve thought about Flickr, OneDrive, and the new Google Photos, but haven’t tried any of these. 

I can’t believe it’s 2015, digital cameras have been mainstream for 15 years, and most people probably have as many photos as I do — and like me, would be heartbroken if anything happened to them, even though we really aren’t doing much with them. There is a huge opportunity for the company that gets this right first — but so far, I don’t think anyone’s nailed it. 

Any advice? 

Step Tracking with iPhone

May 1st, 2015, 2:58am by Kelvin

I just read Mike’s post on his Jawbone Up2, and I totally agree with his assessment– gamifying activity tracking provides a huge incentive. I’ve been using the built in sensors on my iPhone 6 to track daily steps and stairs for a while, and it affects where I choose to park, where I go to lunch, etc. Not surprisingly though, Apple doesn’t seem to play nicely with marchup.io, but here’s how I stood in the past week. The Apple Watch adds another wrinkle because it factors in HR monitoring to compute calories burned. Obviously a more extensive review of that device warrants its own forthcoming post! 

I didn’t mean to splinter the conversation, but I didn’t see a way to add an image to a comment. Also I wanted to try out the new Word Press– pretty slick! 


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