Archive for the ‘Technology’ category

Amazon and Self-Checkout

January 9, 2020

I decided to write about several things that were not big enough to take up an entire blog post, but that I wanted to get out there.

Amazon Returns

Did you ever have something that you bought from Amazon but you wanted to return? I turns out that Amazon has made it wicked easy to return stuff. No questions asked.

Here’s how. Go your orders section in the Amazon App. Select the item that you want to return. You can take the item to Kohl’s or a UPS store. The clerk will scan the bar code on your phone. Print out a label and a receipt. Then clerk pastes the label on the package. Then throws to package into the bin.

That’s it. You’re done. You get a refund, instantly. By the way, it’s free.

Self-Service Checkout

I hate self-service checkout. Someone once said, “If I wanted to do self checkout, I would shop at Amazon”. Yeah, I get it. But I like shopping at Amazon for most things.

The only things I tend to not buy at Amazon are things that I need to see and feel it in person. Like, say furniture.

I like Amazon because I can find stuff. I was looking for a few things at Target. I was just wandering the housewares department and never found what I was looking for.

I would prefer that the grocery stores hire enough people to staff all of the checkout lanes.

My New Gadget

December 26, 2019

This Christmas I got a new electronic gadget called a “Nixplay”. It is an electronic display for one’s favorite pictures. It connects to your WiFi and you can upload your favorite pictures. Then it cycles through all of your pictures 10 seconds each.

There is an app for your iPhone or other smart device that is used to select pictures to send to the device. You can also adjust setting to your liking. Set the time spent on each picture, for instance. You can set it to shut off at night.

This is the 10” version (measured from corner to corner). It runs about $150 and be had at Amazon and other retailers. There is 13” version that of course costs more money.

It’s pretty easy to setup. Plug it in, connect to your WiFi. Then download the app from the app-store, then pair with your nixplay. Then start selecting photos. Takes about 10 minutes

You can adjust settings to auto off/on, it can display current time on lower right corner.

Hearing Aids

December 14, 2019

Not long ago I looked at the sign at church about parking for the elderly and people with small children. I have never thought of myself being “elderly”, but I guess I am at the age of 71. I parked in the spot.

So over the last 6 years my hearing has steadily been getting worse. I bought a set of hearing aids at Costco up in Torrance. They have an excellent hearing aid center there.

So recently, I saw my doctor who scheduled me for a hearing test at Kaiser. No surprise, my hearing is getting worse. The technician gave me a report that I took to the folks at the Costco hearing aid center.

They didn’t try to sell me any new hearing aids although hearing aid life is somewhere about four years. So I might be due soon. The technician adjusted my hearing aids and they made a big difference.

One of my problems is that the hearing aids raise the sound level of everything, not just the people talking to me. Noise gets amplified too. So I have become sensitive to loud environments. We went to a kids Christmas party last week. They were playing loud Christmas music and people were talking loudly to make up for the music. I almost left.

So my hearing aids are made by Resound. I have an audio streaming device connected to our TV so that I don’t need the volume turned up real loud. I also have an interface that connects to my iPhone by blue tooth.

Hearing dialogue at movie theaters continues to be a challenge for me. Some movie theaters have head phones that one can borrow. Some times they help, sometimes not.

I need to train people to face me when you talk so that I can see your lips moving.

Wild Fires

October 27, 2019

Screen of “Wildfire Info” app

This is sort of intended for my East Coast friends. I often get asked whether my wife and I are in harm’s way on any of the wild fires that are rampant out here on the west coast. They for the most part ignorant of California geography. It has been said that the four seasons in California are Fire, Flood, Earthquake and Drought.

So for the most part we are rarely near any of the roaring fires that are active these days, We live in a fairly built up urban area that is not particularly close to the trees and grasses that are fuel for the fires. The only thing that tends to bother us is the smoke generated by the fires.

Here’s a picture that I took on our trip this week from San Pedro to Visalia in Central California.

Gorman CA

As you can see, It’s all brown. The only places that you can see with green grass is typically golf courses that are heavily watered. In the spring time in April much of these hillsides will be green especially after a wet winter.

If you looked at my iPhone you would see a few apps that are particularly appropriate to West Coast going’s on. This stuff is probably more appropriate for West coast folks.

First are the “wildfire” apps. I have them on my iPhone and I believe they are available on Google phones. The other thing is that they are free.

First app is called “Wildfire Info“. Clever name, huh? When you open the app it drops you into a map with little red dots for each active fire. Tapping on the red dot gets you up to date info on the particular fire.

Second one is called “Fires“. Similar info. I found it a bit less useful. But it’s free so try it and see if you like it.

So while I’m talking about apps. I might as well talk about earth quake apps.

Researchers out here are trying to develop apps that can give users about 10 seconds of warning when the big one is about to hit. To that end, the researchers have installed sensors around all of the major fault lines.

Here are the apps that I use (all are free). I know they are available on iPhones and probably on Google-Play. (Click on title to get to the Apple App Store):

Install them all and give them a try.

One more thing. Sometime it takes you a while to get your brain around an earthquake. A couple of years ago there was 7.something about 150 miles northeast of us. Felt some trembling. It takes you a little while to say “Hey, we’re having an earthquake”.

Spring Forward

March 11, 2019

Okay, last night I turned our clocks forward an hour. Well that’s not quite true. Some of our clocks (or devices with clocks) auto-magically turn forward on their own.

So our cell phones, iPads, DVR did it all on their own. Even my new Nissan adjusted its clock without me needing to get out the owner’s manual to find out to adjust the clock. Even my clock radio that I have had for many years has a “DST” button that moves the time ahead or back an hour.

I had to manually adjust the microwave, range and two clocks in our living room. Also, I had to adjust Mary’s wrist watch. Truth be told she wouldn’t know the difference if I left it alone. She wears the watch all the time but never looks at it.

I have to be careful with the clock on top of the piano [pictured below]. The battery has a tendency to become dislodged causing the clock to stop.

Paula will need to do the clock in her Prius. This Prius is ten years old. Probably newer models have figured out to to do the magic.

So here’s what bothers me. I hear that politicians are thinking about making us have DST all year round. Now what would I do, to adjust the magic algorithm that makes my phone magically jump forward an hour on the 2nd Sunday in March and back some time in October.

There I feel better. Rant is all done.

TTFN

joe

Christmas Cards

January 9, 2019

I declare that the Christmas card season is about over. Yesterday, I received what I expect to be the last card for the season. So it is time to review what happened.

This year I sent out 130 Christmas letters to friends and family spread out across the country. About half are in the Los Angeles area and the other half in the Boston area. Then add a few odd letters to people in North Carolina and Florida.

In 2017, I sent out about 175 letters. This year I spent a great deal of effort trimming the list down to 130. So how many did we receive? Well as best I can count we received a little over 30 cards, letters and holiday pictures. My goal has been to reach out to the people that we have known over the many years.

 

I don’t understand why the cards received is so much lower than the number sent. We love to hear how people are doing. As you can see in the pictures above, we love to post the cards in any available space around out kitchen and dining room.

So my question for my readers. Do you send out holiday/Christmas cards/letters? If not, why not? If yes, why? Perhaps $.50 each for postage might be one answer.

BSOD Update

August 30, 2018

Still dead but making progress. I talked to nice fellow in India this afternoon about the problem. He was very helpful. He walked me through running diagnostics.

So the hard drive and memory are fine. He offered the link for downloading the recovery disk. I told him that wouldn’t work because I had no other computer (other than my iPad) to create the thumb drive.

So he ordered up a recovery thumb drive for me. Shipped out via FedEx this afternoon. I should receive tomorrow afternoon. He was nice enough to waive the fee (about $50). I had told him that I was a retired HP employee. Maybe that helped.

Unfortunately, I will end up scratching my hard drive. Not to worry, 95% of my files are stored in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). I will have to reinstall a bunch of apps that I use, but that’s easy.

Should be a reminder to everyone. Do your backups.

TTFN