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Category Archives: Technology

New iPhone and Bedroom Set

Two weeks ago, I finally gave into and bought an iPhone 3G. I have been wanting one ever since Apple introduced the product in June 2007. But when I realized I could get a refurbished 8 GB 3G for $49 and that the monthly service plan would be discounted by 20% because of my company’s relationship with AT&T, I could resist no longer.

iPhone

I had very high expectations for this phone and so far it has met or exceeded nearly all of those expectations. I love it. It is a life-changing technology. Just like the DVR which gives users so much more control over their TV viewing, the iPhone revolutionizes the way users access and manage data and entertainment. It is fantastic. For example, the maps feature was invaluable on our recent trip to San Francisco. It helped us know where we were at all times and how to get to where we wanted to go. That feature has already proven very valuable for me as I search for clients’ addresses. I’m working to convert my contacts, calendar and To Do lists over to the phone so I have a quick, searchable way to find important information. The apps I’ve downloaded are very useful and the core functions (iPod, phone and internet / email device) are wonderful.

Two downsides:  the battery life isn’t as good as I had hoped. However, after doing some research, I found out that using the 3G network to download data really eats up the battery charge. So I’ve made a few modifications to how I use the phone. I still have to charge it every night, but that’s because I’m a “power user” and use it a lot. The other struggle is managing my minutes. I selected a plan that was as affordable as possible, but it’s required me to modify my phone usage a bit. I have 900 anytime minutes and unlimited calling on nights and weekends. But with Cricket, my old provider, I had unlimited talk time and I used at least 1500 minutes in a month. I’ve coped with that situation by simply using a landline instead of my cell phone if one is available. And I do look at my online minutes usage record every few days to make sure I’m on track not to exceed my limits. So far I’m doing okay. 

In other news, Robin and I finally decided to buy a bedroom set after 12 years of marriage. We’ve been sleeping on a frame queen bed we inherited from my grandmother and have never had a matching set of furniture. Robin recently received a bit of inheritance money from her grandparents and we decided that instead of frittering it away on small stuff, we’d focus on some larger-ticket items, like this:

Bedroom Set

It arrives today and we’re excited. We hope that it won’t look too big for our master bedroom, which isn’t huge. We bought a second nightstand, recognizing that it probably won’t fit in the room. We’ll use it when we get a larger house. We would have liked a king bed, but again, we have limited space in the room. And we’ll still be using the same queen mattress and box springs, so no pillow-top mattress for us just yet. All in good time.

Robin also got some new pots and pans for the kitchen and some new light fixtures for the upstairs rooms. A small spending spree doesn’t happen very often in our family, so this has been pretty fun. We probably should have put the money into savings, but Grandma and Grandpa would have wanted us to get something like that, right?!

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in Random Thoughts, Technology

 

Can I PLEASE have a new iPhone?

Apple has done it again — they have created something that I REALLY want. I have been coveting an iPhone since June 2007 when it was first released. Back then it cost $499 for the 4 GB version and $599 for the 8 GB version. Today, the faster 3G 8 GB version costs $99. Yes, that’s only $99 bucks. They recently slashed the price and I am sorely tempted to buy one!

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They also are about to introduce an even cooler version — the iPhone 3G S, which costs $199 for the 16 GB version and $299 for the 32 GB version of the amazing phone. What a deal! And look at all the cool new features:

  • Video camera with editing capabilities
  • A 3-megapixel digital camera
  • Voice memo recording
  • Internet tethering (hook it up to your laptop for internet access)
  • Compass and GPS
  • Voice control (tell your iPhone what you want to do and wallah!)
  • A ton of really cool apps that you can download (many for free)
  • Great internet service, email, texting
  • A really cool phone with great contact management
  • Oh yeah, it’s also an iPod, so you can listen to all your music, buy music directly from iTunes, as well as watch videos from YouTube or movies that you have purchased or converted from DVD.

Today while helping out on a school field trip, I was carrying around my iPod, a cell phone and a digital camera and I thought: “I could have these all in one…” Needless to say, I REALLY want one. I love the technology. I love the features. I love being connected. So why don’t I just go out and buy one already!? Here’s why:

1. Price. The initial price of $99 is really good. But the true cost is more like $2,500. About $100 per month for AT&T service on a 24-month contract. And although my company would reimburse much of that cost, $100 per month for a phone is just too much. I’m too cheap.

2. Being connected. Do I really need to be connected everywhere at every moment? Should I be blogging, emailing, texting, twittering or Facebooking while I drive, eat lunch or take my kids to the park. No, probably not. I spend too much time on the internet as it is.

3. I already have a laptop and with wireless broadband throughout my house. While the keyboard on the iPhone is nice, it’s so much faster to get work done on a REAL keyboard. Short Facebook status updates are okay, but blogging, email and writing documents on that tiny keyboard is still quite slow — although it’s faster than tapping out text messages on my cell!

4. I already own an iPod Touch, which is like an iPhone without the phone or camera. It’s a great device and can connect to my home wireless network so I can check email and Facebook without having to fire up my desktop computer or laptop. I recently downloaded some software updates that allowed me to put “apps” on my iPod Touch, so I can now read the scriptures, download and listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos right on that little device. The touch screen is awesome — it’s the best iPod I’ve ever owned.

I believe that someday I will have an iPhone or something like it. But that day has not yet arrived, even though I wish were here!

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2009 in Technology

 

Watching TV Online – Hulu Launches

Ten years ago, I you had told me that I would be watching TV on my computer, I would have said that you were crazy. However, over the past couple of weeks, that’s exactly what Robin and I have been doing. Instead of watching the typical stuff on regular TV, we’ve been choosing our own content by watching programs on demand on the Internet. Isn’t that crazy? Okay, we’ve actually only been watching one show — LOST. We’re two-thirds of the way through Season 3 and are trying to get caught up so that we can talk about it with our family members who are big fans.

The thing I like about legal online TV is that although you have to watch a few commercials, it’s usually only one commercial during the typical commercial break. The thing I like even more about it is that you can choose when you want to watch it and exactly which episode you want to watch. New technologies and broadband connections have made the loading time very short and the quality of the visual experience comparable to the TV. The only thing I don’t like is having to prop up my laptop on the coffee table and listen to the show through those wimpy speakers.

I am intrigued by the whole online entertainment movement. I recently read about a partnership with NBC and NewsCorp (FOX) that launched a new site yesterday call Hulu. Here’s an excerpt from the LA Times article I read:

“The online video service, which has been in test mode since October, launches with more than 250 television series, including current shows such as “The Office” and “The Simpsons” and classics such as “Arrested Development” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Hulu also provides 100 free, feature-length films, including “The Big Lebowski,” “Me, Myself & Irene” and “Some Like It Hot,” along with short video clips from 150 television series including “Saturday Night Live” and “In Living Color.”

Hulu seeks to satiate the growing appetite for online video. More than half of all Americans — and about four out of five U.S. Internet users — watch online video at least once a month, according to a February report from research firm EMarketer Inc. One in four had viewed full-length television episodes within the last three months, according to Nielsen Media Research.”

If you want to take a look, just go to http://www.hulu.com/.

It will be interesting to see how this and other technologies changes how we consume entertainment and media. I already get most of my news and information from the Internet. I admit that I rarely watch the local or national TV news, and even more rarely do I pick up a newspaper. I can get most, if not all, of the same content on the web. When I got home from my mission 12 years ago, I had never even heard of the World Wide Web or email. Now it’s a ubiquitous part of my life. If I had to choose between my satellite TV and broadband Internet, I think I would choose the latter. It’s just so incredibly useful. And yet, it can be incredibly destructive if not used properly.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2008 in Popular Culture, Technology

 

The iPod touch is so cool!

About one month ago, I got my hands on a new toy — the iPod touch. It has 16 gigs of storage space (sufficient for my needs right now) and plays music, displays pictures and shows videos. These are all things that my 30 GB video iPod does already, so why do I love this little device you ask? Well, it’s not because of the Internet capabilities or the ability to access YouTube videos since those features don’t work unless you’re in a hot spot with an open, non-protected signal.

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No, wow factor for my iPod touch is just what its name indicates. The “touch” screen interface. It is so cool. I love it. It’s hard to describe how cool it is to tap, pinch, flick and slide my fingers across its sleek clear face and have this mini computer respond easily to what I want it to do. It’s really awesome. In case you haven’t heard of this sweet new iPod, here’s a quick video for you.

I used my iPod touch daily, and I listen to music, podcasts (NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” news quiz show is one that I never miss) and other audio files, like LDS general conference talks and audio scriptures. I rarely watch movies on it because I haven’t yet figured out how to convert my DVDs to this format, plus, who really wants to watch a movie on a little screen like that. I have bought a few $1.99 TV show episodes from iTunes, and they work great!

Ultimately, I’d like to have an iPhone which does all of the above mentioned things, but also has a phone, a camera and Internet access wherever there is cell phone coverage. But I just can justify $70+ per month for a service contract. Perhaps someday… (wistful sigh)

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2008 in Technology

 

Elf Yourself!

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Okay, I admit it… I can’t resist silly stuff like this. Earlier this week, someone at one of Unishippers’ franchise locations found this site where you can upload pictures of people you know and make them dance like Santa’s elves. This person had put in pictures of our company’s executive team and it was hilarious. (Thankfully, the executive team had a sense of humor about it!)

Anyway, I went to the site and added pictures of my four kids. When I got home, I gathered the kids around my computer and they were howling and screaming with laughter. It was really fun. Here’s the link so you can see waht I’m talking about.

 http://www.elfyourself.com/?id=9628987324

I like promotions like this, they’re so much fun. So go ahead, elf YOURSELF!!

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2007 in Technology

 

Video Editing: A Love-Hate Relationship

Recently I have taken on a few video projects to make a little extra money. My cousin Cami’s husband Todd brought me a set of 15 home video tapes dating back to 1992, and asked me to transfer them to DVD. In addition, Elizabeth’s mother, Rosanne, asked me to do the same for five of her old tapes. Sounded like a simple project to make a little extra cash to pay for all the baby necessities, right? Well, all was not so simple.

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I recently finished uploading all the video to my hard drive and began to edit the videos, adding chapters and interactive DVD menu screens using my Pinnacle Studio video editing software. All was going well, until I started actually burning the DVDs over the past couple of days. Since then, I’ve had nothing but trouble. The DVDs turn out to have major chapter authoring problems or simply do not burn at all. It is so aggravating because it’s almost impossible to troubleshoot. I’ve spend plenty of hours over the past few years reading the customer support materials and user group exchanges on the web, and have found some workarounds, but it’s painful and time-consuming.

I love my software when it works properly, but I hate it when it doesn’t, which is quite often. Last year, I got so fed up, I bought a new video editing software program, Adobe Premier Elements, but since it’s new to me, requires effort to learn and doesn’t have all the same features I’m used to, I haven’t used it much.

What’s funny is that the Pinnacle Studio 9 software sometimes works like a charm. It just seems kind of moody. A few months ago, I had no trouble converting over my neighbor’s tapes to DVD. But this time, it’s not wanting to cooperate. Besides the frustration, I end up spending so much time on these projects, that I can’t make it worth my time. I am giving current clients very good deals — however, by the time I factor in all the time and aggravation, I will practically be working for minimum wage.

This morning, as I offered our family prayer, I prayed: “Please bless my videos to compile on the DVDs properly; and bless me with the wisdom to never accept another one of these DVD-transfer projects again.”

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2007 in Technology

 

Video iPods are Way Cool

Okay, so in previous blogs I have lamented the loss of my iPod Nano in the washing machine, and I have drooled over the iPhone but decided that it was just too expensive and that despite the way cool features, I just couldn’t justify the monthly service charges.

This week, I found a great solution. A young man in my ward offered to sell me a video iPod that he got from a pawn shop. A new one costs upwards of $300 and he sold it to me for a mere $80, and this 30 GB beauty is in excellent condition.

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How did I justify the purchase? Well, I’ve really missed using my iPod in various situations, and I’ve been looking for a replacement. I thought about buying a used 1 GB iPod Nano from a co-worker for $75, but I’m glad I held out. This thing stores 30 GB of data. Right now I have 3,500 audio files and 5,200 pictures, along with some videos that I have saved there. I’m still trying to figure out how to transfer a couple of my favorite DVDs to the device, but I did buy a TV eposide on iTunes and it played beautifully.

I got a little money from my mom for my MBA graduation (last class tonight) and so I figured I would splurge. Oh electronic devices, how I love you! May you continue to get smaller, more powerful and more useful with each passing year.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2007 in Technology