Tech Stuff

 Posted by at 12:03 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 282012

I thought it was about time for a new update from Gadget Boy, since it’s been a while. So what’s the latest on our tech toys?

For the last couple of years I have used a Droid Incredible and overall I was very happy with it, except for the fact that the battery life was terrible and getting worse every day. I had a charger in the car, a charger in the living room, and a charger in the bedroom, and used them all. I was going to buy a replacement battery, but it was time for an upgrade on my contract and for not much more money, I could switch to a Droid Razr Maxx. So of course I did, being Gadget Boy and all.

The Razr Maxx is a very good 4G smart phone; smarter than me, in fact. I’ll never be able to figure out all of its bells and whistles. And the battery life is amazing. I use it all day long and still have 50% left in the battery. I can also use the phone’s FoxFi app to turn it into a wireless hotspot and cruise the internet with no data limit.

However, a couple of months after I got the phone the sound stopped working. I could not hear the phone ring, or anybody who was talking to me on it, or any of its sound features. This is apparently a known flaw, because Verizon replaced the phone with no argument. We’ll see how long this one lasts.

Last year we bought a pair of iMac computers because I was tired of all of the hassles with Windows-based machines and had spent years listening to Mac owners tell me how far superior their machines are. Macs are immune to the typical computer virus and hacking threats, they never break, and if they had legs, the darned things could walk on water.

Uh huh. And if you believe that, I know a nice deposed general in Nigeria who has a fortune he wants to share with you.

Yes, the iMacs are good machines. Yes, they are fast. Yes, laying out the Gypsy Journal on my iMac is much easier. But they have their faults too.

My first CD/DVD drive stopped working and the Apple store replaced it. The new one doesn’t work either. As soon as we get settled in Florida for the winter, it’s going back to get yet another drive installed. Hopefully the third time’s the charm. The computer will not stay online if I am not actively on the internet for more than a few minutes. It loses the connection and when I click the little icon at the top of the screen to sign back on, it can take as long as two full minutes searching for available wireless networks. That’s darned frustrating.

And there are some programs that I just can’t use on the iMac., which we use for online postage, says they hope to have a Mac version in a year or so. I have not found a mapping program as good as Microsoft Streets & Trips for the Mac. And there is no suitable replacement for Windows Live Writer that will interface with WordPress, which I use for my blogs.

Yes, I know all about Parallels, the program that allows me to run Windows programs on my iMac. I have it. Every time I try to use it, it crashes my computer and I have to manually reboot it. The “Geniuses” at the Apple store say “Yeah, that happens sometimes. It’s Windows, what do you expect?” Well, gee, thanks for the help!

So I have kept my ancient old Dell desktop running too, for blogging, printing postage, and trip planning. A few weeks ago I bought a $399 Asus laptop with Windows 7 at Sam’s Club, and am replacing the Dell with it.

Last December, I bought Dragon Dictate speech recognition software for my iMac, in the hope that it would help me deal with the arthritis in my hands, which has become a real pain (literally) when I spend days at the keyboard. The program and the recommended microphone/headset were not cheap, but I hoped it would be worth the investment. It wasn’t. Even after doing all of the lessons to teach the software my speech patterns, and using it for months now, I find it’s just as quick to type something as it is to dictate it and then go back and correct all of the typos. And I’m a two finger typist!

Somebody suggested I try out the Windows Speech Recognition program that was included on my new laptop. I gave it a try, and have to say that it’s as good as, if not better than, the Dragon software. The first time out, it had five fewer typos than I got reading the same letter into Dragon.

I’m going to use it for a while and see if it improves as it becomes more familiar with my speech patterns. I’m impressed that a free program does a better job than the one I paid for.

Finally, Terry has been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ40 digital camera for a couple of years now and loves it, but it developed a problem and kept showing a zoom error code on the digital display and shutting down on her. Something was loose inside and she could hear and feel it moving around when she used the camera. So after a lot of research, she replaced it with a Canon SX40. She’s only had the new camera a week or two and is still learning how to use all of its features. But so far, she’s very happy with it. The picture quality is even better than the Panasonic, which was already very impressive, it has more zoom range, and it also has a hot shoe so she can use an external flash on it. That will help a lot when we are touring places like the Air Force Museum where we have to take photos in dimly lit, cavernous areas.

So that’s the latest tech upgrade from Gadget Boy. What kind of new toys are you playing with?

Bad Nick isn’t a very tech savvy guy. In fact, he’s kind of a dinosaur. But at least he did figure out how to post a new Bad Nick Blog titled I Like Boobs. Check it out and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day – I really shouldn’t have driven home from the bar last night. Especially since I walked there.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “Tech Stuff”

  1. Thanks for all this information…I am not computer literate enough to enjoy it, but hubby will. It is so frustrating when one machine cannot seem to do all that it should. Seems to me, as good as our Dells are, hubby has to every week being doing something with them!! If they could only make them as good as some sewing machines (mine is at least 25 years old and still doing JUST FINE!!)

    As for arthritis in the hands…nothing, including pain meds, beats crocheting as therapy and pain relief in the long run. I have found that if I crochet for about 1/2 hour 3 times a week…my pain is almost nil in my hands!! Plus eventually something nice comes of that effort. Hubby learned to crochet when I did, though has not done it since, but the 3 weeks before our 1st child and I was as big as a barn and unable to sit very well even, my mom taught us both to pass the time…there was enough granny squares made to make up a nice lap afghan which I think my son still has!! Our grandson taught himself basically at age 10 by watching instructions online!! So YOU could learn too!! (Yea, even klutz people can…of which I am one too).

  2. See you are at TT Hershey. We left there about a week ago and brought with us what seems like a couple hundred “stink bugs”. They were out in full force at Hershey. At times we had 50 or more on our rig outside. They got behind our rubber seals on our sildes. When we put the slides in we got as many as possile, BUT many our still with us. Check your slides when you put them in, that is if they are still active at Hershey.

  3. Thanks, Nick, for mentioning the FoxFi app. I just called Verizon today because when I tried to create a Mobile Hot Spot with my new Droid Razr Maxx, it popped up a message requiring a $20.00/month plan. So I called them and they told the same $$ for tethering as a Hot Spot. Now, I already have a 2GB data plan, but they further stated that the only alternative would be to upgrade to the Share Everything plan for $18 a month more to get the “free” Mobile Hot Spot. Your post could not have been more timely. I have created the hot spot, secured it with a password, my lap top sess it and tomorrow I will test it. THANK YOU!

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