Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mnemonics for practicality

Okay so the other day someone asked me if September had 30 days or not... I responded that "it's the first in the rhyme".

It got me thinking of how many of these mnemonics we have...

Which months of the year have how many days
Thirty days has September, April, June and November.. all the rest have 31. Except, for leap year coming once in four, giving February one day more.
Now I also like the knuckle analogy too...

Lefty loosey, righty tighty

Acid solution
Water to acid you'll get blasted
Credit to Gerry Bell for that one in year 2 chemistry

Expanding binomial
FOIL... Firsts, outsides, insides, lasts

Crud... Was thinking about this and had a bunch examples and now same remember them..
What can you remember?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Clip keychain for your charging cord

did it really need an instruction manual?

So, even though I have a phone that can last a long time on the battery, it's still good to have a cord to plug it in when I need it.

I have several cords.  What I don't have cords for is my work phone, my iPhone 6S.  That uses a special lightning connector and I don't have cables with that.  So double with the fact that my iPhone has terrible battery... having some cable to take with me is important.

Plus, having something that doesn't add bulk to the pocket is important too.

Dodocool has this tiny cable on a keychain ring with a clip on it.

Sure, for $13CDN it's a little expensive for just a cable ... but maybe that's normal for 'apple taxed' accessories.  The big advantage is that it has a little leather 'holder' to keep the cable kind of wrapped around and then a bit of a 'biner clip to connect it to your keyring.

There's a couple ways you could have it attached, depends on your key set up.  Maybe keyring connected to the cable 'loop' that protrudes out the end?  The issue comes in that there's nothing really holding the cable IN the leather bit, so technically the cable could just slide out at any time... so maybe using that loop helps keep it there.

To date, I haven't had any issue with that.

So, personally, I just leave this in my car ready to plug in my phone to my car charger should my phone need it (I have cables at the office and at home, so this is for on the go).  But I could easily clip it to a laptop bag, or a jacket or whatever.

Pretty handy.


Himalayan Salt Lamp - a funky nightlight

Okay, so I had a colleague who liked all these sorts of hokey 'better living' items.

She liked the diffuser I had once had the chance to review, and it's still over at her desk (even though she's no longer there).

She talked about her Himalayan Salt lamp, and what a positive air it gave off in her home, so when talking with dodocool about products to review, I mentioned their lamp as a possibility.  I really liked my Air Purifier so can't hurt right?

You get the lamp, and there's a little bulb under the thick crystalline casing.  The idea is that the heat from the bulb is supposed to 'activate' the salt, and then depending on your take on the science, whether it's an aroma or 'ions' it emits it's supposed to enhance the surroundings.

I didn't get that.  To me, it looked like a funky nightlight.  My wife made the same comment.  There was no difference we noticed after about a week of using it on and off (we tried different scenarios, on all night, on all day so it'd be 'active' when we got home, etc...).

We didn't notice a change in the air quality, a scent, or 'ions' (my inner science geek is just shuddering at even mentioning that that could happen).

What I did notice was you have to be careful where you put the thing.  Don't set it down as the salt is naturally hygroscopic, as such it's pulling in water from the air and then when it's sitting on a sill the sill gets to be a little 'greasy' from whatever else is on the salt and left behind.

So, be cautious if you remove it from the plug.

Speaking of the plug, it was nice that the plug has a little 'clip' to allow you to rotate the prong end depending on how you have your outlet set up so that it can always be 'up'.

As a $23 nightlight, it's not so amazing.  As a salt lamp, maybe your own hopes and dreams will provide a placebo effect (as the science behind it is unproven).


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A neat use for a night light

So, I review things... over at Android Coliseum.  Mostly, it's stuff for cellphones.  Accessories, phones, tablets.  Whatever.

Sometimes the companies that I work with just end up sending me some things I don't know how to review.  TVs, oil diffusers...

This time it was an OxyLED Night Light (the N03).  It's cool and all but I don't know how to review something like this.

The idea is that it's a rechargeable little bulb (and it recharges by microUSB, I've got a ton of those cables) that magnetically attaches to a little base and with the magnet holding it in place you can still swivel it around a bit so that it angles the way you want.

The base has the magnet and then also two slots to get it to mount on a wall or a heavy duty sticker to affix it somewhere.

I had no idea where it was going to go.

I tested it out a bit.  Set it to 'auto' and wait for the room to go dark, and then the sensor in the middle to detect motion and then it comes on... boom.  It has to be pretty dark for it to work.  There's a low or a high mode for the bulb too.

My trick is still... where should it go?  I didn't want to drill holes in the wall for just a tiny thing.  Would the sticker really hold?

Then it struck me.  The base is magnetic.  It can sit against the fridge.

Turns out that's very useful.  Often I'll be down in my basement writing away and come up to bed when everybody's long since asleep and the lights are all off.  Going upstairs I go straight into the kitchen and then would have to fumble a bit to find the switch to turn the light on.  Passing through the kitchen I'll have to turn it off again.  So turn it on briefly, get my bearings, turn it off and make my way through the dark until the next area.

Well, with this, as soon as I get into the top stair, the light goes on, illuminates my way, and then walk and after a moment or so, it turns off.  It's the perfect amount of timing.  And it lasts like a week or more before it needs to be charged.

Thumbs up for this thing... sometimes it's the small things done in unique ways that amazes you.

Buy it on Amazon for $25CDN

Friday, September 9, 2016

Camping in Sleeping Giant 2016

I know, this is a couple of weeks late... sorry. The full web album of photos can be seen at: (I'm posting some of my shots, but in the album you can see photos that Mandy took as well)

Sleeping Giant 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S - excites me about a laptop again

So, it's no secret to any of you that now and again I review some tech things on my site I started up +Android Coliseum.  It's fun!  Now and again I'll get requests to view some item that doesn't quite fit in the Android realm.  Most of the time I just say no, thanks but no thanks.  I like to keep topics clean there.

But when +Samsung Canada allowed me a shot to take a look at the latest tablet, the Tab Pro S, it took me a time realize it wasn't an Android tablet.  All the same I was very interested.

See, I used to love netbooks.  I don't know why... I just did.  They weren't really laptops, just smaller versions.  As much as laptops are meant to be 'portable' and mobile, a lot of them just really weren't.  A netbook was much easier to take with you.

And this Tab was pretty much that, but without sacrificing on the screen size or the guts to allow you to do what you need to do.

It reinvigorated me again for the love of a device that I could take with me and be able to do ALL I needed without really much sacrifice.  It unshackled me from my desktop to do all the 'real work' I would have to do for the site and whatever else, because I had this with me most places.

So, first the specs:

  • 12" 2160x1440
  • Intel M 2.2GHz x2
  • 4GB
  • 128GB SSD storage
  • 5200mAh battery & rapid charging
  • 5MP/5MP
  • Windows 10

The first thing to get used to on it was the keyboard.  It comes with keyboard that wraps around like a case (a la, the windows surface devices).  I'd not used one before, so figuring out the folds so it lays/sits properly took me a bit.  After a moment you'd feel like an idiot not knowing.  The angle works just right for sitting up, the laying back option isn't as conducive ... or so I've not found a situation.

The case has some strong magnets.  I mean strong... it's hard to get off of the back, and the way it clicks into the keyboard... it's sturdy, nothing loose or falling off any time soon.

The keyboard itself feels a little 'thin' and as I'm typing now on the arm rest of my couch it starts to feel like it's bending over the arch.  That being said, for the past 2 weeks and a bit I've been writing everything on this in pretty much the same position and there hasn't been any issue, no signs of any bending.

It's unfortunate the keyboard layout is of the new style... where the \ key is taking up space where I normally find my enter key, and the left shift isn't as wide as there's a \ key there (why does there need to be two slashes?)... so it's taking me some time to get used to it.

The trackpad is good, very responsive and it's funny how quickly you notice how often you use a right click, or middle click button as there's none on the trackpad.  You can tap with 2 fingers for right click, but 3 fingers brings up Cortana.

Connecting the tablet to the keyboard has it in 'pc mode' and then disconnecting it, you can have it in 'tablet mode'... the only difference I see is that the start menu goes away to have just a few icons for switching.

Okay, going around the rest of the tablet, there's a power button and a volume rocker on the 'top' of the device, and then there's a button on the left top that's used for the start button (seems a bit odd).

Aside from that there's a headphone jack on the right bottom side along with the USB-C connector.

That's about the only downside to it - as much as USB-C is the way of the future, there's not a lot of accessories for it.  If I wanted to plug in a mouse (sure I could get a bluetooth one) or a data key... there's nothing that I have that would work without having to Google for some adapters).

On the usage end... it performs admirably.  I used it to write the articles on the site, watch Netflix and Kodi and then there's a few Steam games here and there (I couldn't use my controller though, as it's USB).

But how about battery?  Well, I've been writing articles for the past couple hours and it's at 63%, saying there's 5h18m left to go.  Not too bad.

Best about it is that because it's using the quick charge, it doesn't take all that long to re-invigorate that battery, a little top up here and there and we're good.  The charger is just a small wall wort and then the cable is ... well not quite 6ft long, but it's long enough so you don't have to worry.

The display is perfect, nice vividity (yes, I made that word up) and holds up well in sunlit areas (just a word of note that if you're using polarized sunglasses that I have, the polarization usually affects items in landscape mode, and when it's attached to the keyboard it is in landscape mode, but wasn't totally polarized out.

Now, how does Samsung want you to integrate this with all the other devices you have?  They have Samsung Flow.  Look into it and you'll see why there's an NFC logo on the keyboard next to the trackpad.  I was hoping we could have used that as a security thing ... tap your phone, or my ring and then it'd bypass the password.

But no... Samsung Flow lets you tap your phone and install the Flow app, which then lets the computer have a companion app to share your notifications.  Unfortunately, I've been using the Moto G4 Plus which is lacking in the NFC department, so I didn't get the chance to give that a go.

Overall, for the $1300 ... it's a lot to pay, but you get a lot.  Especially the 'smug' feeling of just packing up your tablet and carrying it easily just about anywhere you want.  That is a very satisfying feeling to have all that power in just a few inches packed away and you could take it up and go, just like that.

Like I said, it has me very excited about mobile computing, and not just phones that do it all, because, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes you do just need a PC to sit down with, with a good size screen and keyboard to get some real work done.

This lets me have it all.  When I want to use my phone for most of my day to day interactions, it's fine. But when I want to get into it, a small binder is nearby for me to pull out and get busy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

4th decade - new phase and era (goodbye LPS)

So here I sit in the start of my 4th decade ready to check it out.

It was yesterday I realized that it was the last day of school, meaning I never got my 5.0 days of supply work in, thus my days at the Lakehead Public Schools as a supply teacher are over.  In previous years that would have scared me.  This year.  Not so much

In 2002 I graduated with my bachelor of Education, and that fall I had made it on to the occasional teaching list.  Almost instantly I was working away and had my first long term in a few months.  From that LTO I was whisked into another, and then another and for the first few years I was heavily busy. working full time.

In 2006 I even quit working at Sears (that's another story entirely).

In 2007 I had an opportunity to manage an adult education centre for a year, and I thought I was doing the right thing for my career and would be expanding my skillset to be a fully equipped teacher.

That ended up being the wrong thing to do, as after the year it was very hard to get any days as in most cases I was viewed as a 'new entrant' again.  It was rough, and something I never really was able to recover from and re-establish myself in the system.

It was then then that I had to watch that I was able to maintain 5.0 days of teaching per year to keep my name on the list.  I also had to work elsewhere, so that made getting those days very tricky indeed.  Several times I came close and a couple times I had to request for a review to be allowed to stay on.

So this year, when I hadn't made the requisite number of days, it came to me as a realization at the last day.  Sure, I kinda knew all along, and I thought I'd make time, but to be honest: in 14 years with the board it really has been a one way relationship.  I gave and gave, and I loved teaching.  I did everything I could to make my way in that board, and there was very little given in return.  It made me somewhat cynical about the system.  Which is a shame.  I love teaching, I have the utmost respect for those in the profession.

But for me, this is the end of my connection with LPS.  I'll be probably getting my letter shortly to say I didn't meet the requisite number of days and will be removed from the list.

Should I want to get on the list again, I'll have to re-apply.  I'm saddened in someway to say good by e to that time of my life.

In others, I'm absolutely energized and charged daily in my role at the CEDC.  It is a fantastic organization that has rewarded me appropriately and I'm proud of the part I play.

I look forward to many many more years where I am, so missing out on LPS is a moot point.  But I can't but have a twinge of longing as I close that door.