Our Switch to IP TV

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Yesterday our local phone company sent out installers to set up us with their TV over IP package. The installers were great and did a nice job setting up the service. They even gave us helpful advice regarding our initial plan to have two DVRs and three receivers. They advised against moving forward with that setup suggesting that the only thing we would lose by going with just one DVR would be live pause and rewind. The downside of multiple DVRs would be the large bandwidth drain it could potential create along with some potential recording conflicts. I was fine with their suggestion and in addition it would save us an additional $11.00 per month. 

What I had not fully anticipated, even though I should have, was the possibility that having IP TV with so many TVs might have the potential for bankrupting my internet service. We currently have 30 Mpbs and when more than two TVs are watching HD streams, the bandwidth can really drop. The good news is that aside from my father-in-law, most everyone else watches "time-shifted" TV shows. The bad news is that there are a number of shows being streamed to disk throughout the evening. I wish that we were getting 50Mbps or higher service as I believe that would ease the congestion a great deal. I spoke with one of the techs would did the installation and found out that there is a slight possibility of LDSL coming in the future. My problem however is the distance of my house to the CO is greater than 3000 ft. 

So far, I really like the service. The receivers and the DVR are both really small and compact. The remotes are not too bad - except the print on them is ultra small. With the exception of one TCL TV in our bedroom, the techs were able to program all of the remotes to handle all TV and soundbar funtions with one remote - great news for my wife's parents! Even the one TCL TV exception was rectified when I followed the online instructions for the remote to use its builit-in learning capabilities to add the TV's native remote functions to the STB remote. 

We are in a "trial period" to see if the service is compatible with our "lifestyle". I really hope so because the service is good, the price is right, and the local phone company is very responsive to work with. Stay tuned! (no pun intended) 

Beyond Black - Soccer in a Different Age

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My son, Hunter, recently received a new pair of soccer boots for his birthday. I was educated that we no longer call them "soccer cleats". Over the last couple of years, I could not help but notice that most of the guys that my son plays with or against have very vibrant and colorful soccer boots - much different than the black and white soccer cleats of my era. There is also a wonderful advancement in the design of the footwear including the location of the lacing, the seamless toes, and the material that the outer shell is constructed of. The one thing that has not seemed to change is the excitment a young man experience when purchasing and wearing for the first time a new pair of soccer boots!

There is an addition benefit for us as parents - it is very easy to spot our son on the soccer field now!

My Friend's New Website

I have been working together with my friend, Aaron Lundahl, to build his new business website. Squarepace seemed like a good fit since I am not a website developer by trade and we wanted to create a website that Aaron and his wife, Kristin would be able to manage on their own with a little "hand-holding" help from me. 

I think his site turned out very well and he likes it a lot. If you have a moment, visit his site here at http://a-ronssmallengine.com and give him a call if you need help with any of your yard equipment.

Buyer Beware

Defective Speck case sold through Amazon is a "forgery".

Defective Speck case sold through Amazon is a "forgery".

Shop carefully when buying items from Amazon! My daughter purchased a "Speck Candy Shell" case for her iPhone 4s about 6 months ago from Amazon as a new product. Sold by "Sheraton allretire" and fulfilled by Amazon. The case wore out in the lower front bridge and my daughter returned it to Speck for warranty replacement. She just received an email reply from a customer service rep at Speck saying that the case was a forgery and that Speck could not honor a warranty replacement.

I also recently read reviews on a Griffin Technology Powerjolt USB car adapter sold as a new product by a third party seller and fulfilled by Amazon. Many of the reviews said that the product was defective and a "knock off" fake. It seems to me that this is more becoming a "buyer beware" scenario when purchase products from Amazon that are sold under a third part (even if they are fulfilled by Amazon).

I like purchasing products from Amazon, especially because of the free shipping using Prime, but I feel more uncomfortable clicking "Add to Cart" if the seller is not Amazon itself. I wish that Amazon would take a stronger position in protecting the customer when they are fulfilling the purchase.

 

Online Deadbolts

The Internet is a buzz of late in conversation about the use of stronger passwords and security measures like 2 factor authentication after the Mat Honan hacking incident. Reflecting upon this event motivated me to evaluate how secure my email, accounts, and passwords are and what measures I should consider taking to secure my online presence.

I found the following advice on the agilebits blog. Agilebits is the maker of a wonderful password control software product called 1Password.

Your 1Password master password is extremely important. Although we take steps to thwart automated password crackers you should still use a strong, memorable master password. Password cracking tools are becoming more powerful every year, and too much is at stake in your 1Password data. Given the strength of the encryption we use, your master password is likely to be the weakest link in your 1Password security. Don’t be too scared of that. Given how strong everything else is, it would be practically impossible to use and remember a master password that is actually stronger than 1Password’s encryption.

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Review: Incase Magnetic Snap Case for New iPad

Incase Magnetic Snap Case

Recently, I was looking for a back cover for my iPad that would be a complement to both the red leather Smart Cover from Apple that I often use as well as the Logitech Ultrathing Keyboard Cover that I wrote about recently. After I purchased the new iPad, I also purchased an Incipio Smart Feather Ultra Light Hard Shell Case to protect the back. The Feather case is delightful and very thin. The one catch with it is that you have to keep the Smart Cover on because the Feather case hooks around it. When I use my iPad, I often like to remove the Smart Cover while holding the iPad. I eventually did cut off the lip of the Feather case with an Xacto knife/utility knife/scissors and the result was a very useable solution.

I also purchased a Hypershield for the iPad. I previously purchased a HyperShield for my iPad 2 which I really liked. It was a dark blue leather which matched and complemented my blue leather Smart Cover on my iPad 2. Unfortunately, the HyperShield for the new iPad was a very poor choice. The molding near both the speaker grill cutout and the dock connector appeared to be sloppy and the fit was poor - like it was designed for the iPad 2 and they discovered that if you pushed hard enough, it would fit the new iPad but not well. It bowed down the middle of the cover creating a gap between it and the iPad. I contacted customer service but their response was that they saw nothing wrong with how the HyperShield fit and looked and would not refund my purchase. It's a good thing it was only $10 plus shipping but it still felt like throwing money away.

About that time, I discovered on Twitter that Incase was shipping a new version of their Magnetic Snap Case, specifically designed for the new iPad (also fits the iPad 2). In reading the reviews, it became apparent that Incase had also redesigned how the two back magnets were attached. Reviewers for the previous iPad 2 only version of the cover complained that the magnets frequently detached from the cover. However, the initial reviews for this new version were very positive so I decided to give it a try.

The Magnetic Snap Case meets my main priority, it is easy to put on and to take off. I was looking for a back cover that I could quickly and easily remove so I could use my iPad with my Logitech keyboard, Twelve South HoverBar, and Pro Clip stand inside my car. I wanted the ability to take the cover off when I needed to use the iPad with an acccessory that demanded having no case on the iPad and to put it on for protection when using the iPad normally or when toting it around. The Incase Magnetic Snap Case easily meets that criteria. I also wanted a back cover that wasn't too bulky and looked nice/complemented the red leather Smart Cover. Incase's back cover also fits the bill nicely in both of those areas. The added bonus was the two magnets on the Magnetic Snap Case. One is located just a little to the right of center. This magnet provides a unique way of folding the Apple Smart Cover up as a stand.

folded case

The angle is great for reading and watching video when the iPad is sitting on a table or desk. The other magnet is near the right edge and is very useful when you flip your Smart Cover completely around the back of the iPad. It keeps the Smart Cover attached to the back without the need for the user to use his hand to hold it in place. The last observation I have about the Magnetic Snap Cover is that it appears to be very durable and skuff resistant. While it does smudge a bit with greasy fingers, etc., it does clean up easily and after having used it a month or so and putting on top of tables and desks and inside of my Tom Bihn Ristretto, there are no permanent skuffs or scratches. There are also no cracks which appears to be the bain of the Belkin back cover according to many reviewers.

If you are looking for the same things I did in a back cover for your new iPad and you are willing to pay a little bit more, this is an excellent choice and one that I believe you will stick with for the long haul.

First Thoughts: Review of the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad

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I recently purchased the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad 2 and New iPad. I have been toting around the Apple Bluetooth keyboard and I like it, but it still is one extra item to carry around and the prospect of a cover keyboard combination really intrigued me.

The Logitech keyboard is well reviewed online and I continued to hear high recommendations on several podcasts that I listen to. I was interested enough to purchase it and try it out, but for quite awhile it was not available but rather in the "coming soon" status.

Then in mid-April, I checked online at Amazon and the site said, "available for shipping in the next 3-5 business days", so I ordered it. After it arrived, the setup was very easy. Baically just unpack it and pair it to the iPad via bluetooth.

I agree with the reviewers about two minor negative points:

  • The glossy black finish gets a lot of fingerprints easily
  • When used on a flat surface, the keyboard can slide around a bit too much

Both of those issues are pretty minor though and the pluses far outweigh the minuses. The keyboard is a little narrower than the Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard, but it's still very useful and easy to type with.

The only other issue I have with the Logitech keyboard cover is that it doesn't have a magnet to keep it closed against the iPad when traveling - not a big deal but it would be nice to have it.

If you want to travel with your iPad and a keyboard, and you don't want to carry extra items, this is the keyboard to choose. I recommend it!