Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My Latest Gadgets

The Central Florida Computer Society, (http://www.cfcs.org), has an "adult show and tell" otherwise known as the TechSIG (Technical Special Interest Group). At tonight's meeting, I'll discuss my latest gadgets, given an appropriate amount of time, but if not sufficient, I'm also posting on my blog for reference.

OBi200 1-Port VoIP Phone Adapter with Google Voice and Fax Support. This adapter allows me to use my existing Google Voice phone number and have a direct ring through the Obi to my home's wireless phones. I have a base station nearby and 4 extension phones. Coupled with BlueTooth on the base station, I have a full featured telecommunications system, and could even attach a FAX machine should I want to do so. The Obi is available from Amazon at http://amzn.to/2nJs91P

Universal Car Phone Mount, Gear Beast Extended Cup Holder Mount and Cradle. There are many solutions for mounting your smart phone/gps/mp3 player, etc. in a car. Some very expensive. Some semi-permanently mounted and difficult to transfer from one car to another. I came across the Gear Beast holder when searching for a mount for my Corvette and also portable to my Hyundai, and easy to take with me when I fly somewhere and use a rental.  At less than $15 it's a bargain from Amazon at http://amzn.to/2mNrqNH. The base has three extendable tabs that fit just about any cup holder simply by turning the knurled portion of the rounded section above them. The stalk is a goose-neck that is easily adjusted and remains in place over rough roads. The clamp is a press closed against the sides of the phone, and pneumatic when you press the release lever.

Looking to cut the cord on your TV? The IVIEW-3200STB Multimedia Converter Box. Digital to Analog, QAM tuner, with Recording function interfaces between a simple off the air HD antenna and your TV or home theater system. With it's QAM tuner, you'll get all the broadcast channels in the area plus a guide. Plug in any USB flash drive or external hard drive, and it supports digital video recording. Outputs are RF (channel 3 or 4), HDMI to get you up to 1080p video and HD audio, the usual red/white/yellow composit video and audio too. Comes with a nice remote that I'd probably synchronize with a Harmony all-in-one remote to minimize all the controllers that now surround my TV set. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2o3Aaza

Finally, quite awhile ago I purchased an Acer Ultrabook 13" notebook, back when it was new and unique. A lot of technology has come this way since then with a lot of options for small and fast notebooks. It serves me well to try out the latest operating systems, but I'll have to admit to avoiding Windows 10.  At a previous CFCS Tech-SIG meeting Linux Mint was mentioned as an alternative to Windows, yet keeping the look and feel of the Windows desktop, and being very easy to install and maintain. I chose to install Mint "Cinnamon" , the latest version about 4 months ago. I'm very satisfied with it. I can do just about everything that I can on a Windows computer except for Intuit's Quicken, but TurboTax has shifted to a web-based client as has QuickBooks for the self-employed. I do some genealogy and my Family Tree as a Windows program has transitioned to web-based Ancestry.Com, so that's good for me as well. There is a Linux version of Chrome which I prefer to the version of Firefox that comes with Mint. Along with Chrome, I have the usual Google office-like apps, and Mint also comes with Libre Office the office-like suite. Get your version of Mint (now up to 18.1 Serina) at https://www.linuxmint.com/download.php. You can burn a DVD or make a USB flash drive and run it as a trial off those media. Once you like it, you can install and overwrite Windows, or make a dual boot installation.
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