Pokemon Go Gear Essentials

(Disclaimer: Product links do have an Amazon affiliate tag. This is not an advertisement paid for by Anker. I love their stuff and want to see it more people’s hands.)

You’ve no doubt noticed by now that playing games like Pokemon Go that rely on active GPS use do a number on phone battery life. This is an issue Ingress agents have been dealing with for quite some time. While there are countless numbers of external battery manufacturers, one in particular was recommended to me when I first started playing Ingress: Anker. Their 18-month warranty on all products, lower prices, and quality builds make buying their stuff a no-brainer for me.

anker-powercore-20100Anker PowerCore 20100

My everyday carry battery pack is the Anker 20000mAh Portable Charger PowerCore 20100. It’s powerful enough to charge my iPad air, and I’ll easily get several full charges of my iPhone 6s from it. ($39.99, Amazon.com)

PROS: Charge two devices at once. Automatically senses type of device and delivers appropriate charge.
CONS: It’s a little heavy to carry in a pocket or in your hand.

anker-powercore-10000Anker PowerCore 10000

I don’t own one, but I’d have no reservations recommending the Anker PowerCore 10000 as a suitable replacement for those wanting something a bit smaller, and easier to carry. ($19.99, Amazon.com)

PROS: It’s half the size of the PowerCore 20100. Automatically senses type of device and delivers appropriate charge.
CONS: Only has one USB port. Only has enough juice to re-power an iPhone 6s 3.5x or a Samsung Galaxy S6 3x.

anker-powercore-slim-5000Anker PowerCore Slim 5000

The Anker PowerCore Slim 5000 is one of Anker’s newest releases. Designed to fit snugly behind an iPhone 6/6s and match it’s contours, this capable battery pack is thin enough to carry in your hand. It’s nice alternative to having. ($17.99, Amazon.com)

PROS: It’s slim design will easily fit in your hand or pocket with a phone.
CONS: You’ll get maybe ~2 full iPhone charges out of it.

A good battery pack is only half the battle. Bad cables suck the joy out of mobile gaming. Check out Anker’s Micro USB and Lightning cables. The PowerLine+ lines for both are super-durable.


Yosemite Hates my Mac

There’s nothing like discovering that your MacBook Pro wants to die after upgrading to Yosemite, and that it’s failed to alert you to the fact that Time Machine hasn’t backed it up successfully in over 20 days. It’s been getting progressively worse over the past few weeks. It started as slow app launch times, and moved onto painfully slow OS launches, unresponsive Finder and Spotlight on boot, and more.

If you rely on Time Machine backups, make sure you’re routinely verifying that a backup has, in fact, taken place. I had assumed my backups were current. I was wrong. System Preferences > Time Machine will report the date and time of your last successful backup. You can also browse backups by entering Applications > Time Machine, or browsing your backup diskand going to Backups.backupdb > Computer Name > and look for a series of dated folders. It’ll match this format: YEAR-MO-DAY-TIME.)

If your Mac fails to backup at any time, you can always try deleting any .inProgress files that happen to be located in the same folder as the dated ones and try initiating a backup again. (Under Yosemite, you have the option of assigning multiple hard drives as Backups and Time Machine will alternate between them.)

Don’t rely on Time Machine to be your only backup solution. SuperDuper! for Mac (Free/$27.95) can easily make fully bootable backups. (The paid version will even allow you to schedule full backups.) Carbon Copy Cloner 4 ($39.99) is another viable option, though I haven’t used it personally.

You can get a 1TB drive for less than $60 on Amazon (affiliate link).

I’m lucky I have semi-recent backups. But it could have been much worse. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be backing your system up regularly. Be prepared for the worst case scenario.

Don’t be evil.*

Google announced that they’re buying Nest yesterday, and with it came a flood of jokes about how we’ll need to have a Google+ account in order to change our temperatures from now on.

Google isn’t buying Nest just for their Thermostat or Protect. They bought it for the next wave of products that Nest has in development.

Google is slowly, inevitably invading the home and it wouldn’t bother me so much if their primary purpose wasn’t to advertise to us. Imagine a Google Fiber-connected house, with Google-powered TV, Internet and phone service. Every TV has a Chromecast. Your phone is running their Android OS. In your garage is parked one of their self-driving cars. They’ll know all of your travel patterns. They’ll know what nights you work or stay out late. They’ll know what nights you typically have food delivered in. They’ll know that you like keeping your house a few degrees cooler on average. They’ll know what kinds of beers you like, and how often you bring home groceries because of when you scan in items into your Android-powered fridge. And that information will be used against you. And every time you see an ad popup that seems scarily accurate to your current wants and needs you won’t care, because your life will have been made more convenient.

Featured image via @bkieffer


Viggle: Get rewarded for watching TV.I’ve been using GetGlue and Into_Now for a while to track my tv viewing. Glue let’s you check into pretty much anything, and you get stickers for doing so. Into_Now works by listening to whatever’s on your tv – whether live or DVR’d. But now there’s a new app in town, and while it still has some growing up to do, it’s the app to beat. Why would you want to keep track of this kind of stuff?

Viggle works like Into_Now in that it listens to what’s currently on TV and then checks you in. (Unlike Into_Now, however, Viggle only works on live broadcasts.) Viggle works with live broadcasts and can identify DVR’d shows up to seven days old. If Viggle can’t find the show you’re watching, after two failed attempts you can manually check into the show.

The number of points you can earn varies from show to show. Some shows like American Idol can net you as many as 400 points. Special events like the Super Bowl or the Grammy’s have up to 10,000 points up for grabs. Once you’ve earned a few thousand points, you can redeem them for gift cards or donate the points to a charity. 14,000 points can be redeemed for a $10 iTunes gift card. (There are quite a few other rewards available as well.)

Stickers seem kind of lame in comparison now.

Sign up for Viggle


Rdio: a Social Music Revolution?Thanks to Luke, I’ve been able to enjoy Rdio for a day now and I like it so far, but I’m not sold on it.

Follow me on Rdio.

There are three ways to use Rdio: a mobile app (Blackberry, Android or iPhone), a desktop (AIR) app, or via the web. I downloaded the AIR app and synced my local library. (It checks to see if songs you have are available on Rdio. It doesn’t actually upload your files.) Your friends can then see what kind of music you listen to you. As you add friends you’ll start seeing what’s hot in your network’s rotation. This is arguably the most interesting aspect of Rdio. As you add songs to your Collection or to playlists, your friends will see this in a social stream.


  • Subscription plans are flexible. Either opt for web-only for $4.99/month or $9.99 for mobile access + sync.
  • It’s easy to discover new music based on what your friends are listening to.
  • If you’re listening to something via web browser and open the AIR app, it matches what’s playing in the browser. (You can then close that tab or browser window.)
  • Listen to your music anywhere.
  • Add any song to your collection.
  • Last.fm scrobbling supported!


  • There is no free plan. Competitors like Pandora or Last.fm have free plans. You can try Rdio for three days, but after that you have to choose a subscription.
  • The AIR apps “Match Collection” feature revealed that only about half of my library was available through Rdio. If you have a large collection of music, Rdio may not have everything available.
  • I found a lot of albums had Clips only. I’m sure this will get fixed in time.
  • US only. For now.
  • As far as I can tell, there is no way to play a collection or playlist from the AIR app. If you hit play, it plays from your Queue. If you want to listen to anything else, you have to initiate it through the website first.

So, should you subscribe to Rdio? I’m still torn. Are you using it? Do you plan to subscribe? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Oh. And I have one invite left. ;) If you’re itching to check Rdio out, tell me why. Best answer gets it.

Why I got an iPhone.

Two years ago, I wrote a post detailing many of the reasons why I wasn’t going to buy an iPhone. Needless to say, things have changed since then.

First, a little backstory: I had planned to keep my old phone and number with Alltel/Verizon. I had made arrangements with my previous employer to transfer everything into my name. I was trying to avoid getting stuck in a contract. Everything was going smoothly until Verizon got involved. Because I had Alltel hardware, I couldn’t just switch things over to my own account. They insisted that I had to get a Verizon phone, which would have locked me into a 1-2 year contract. Since I was going to get locked into a contract, I decided I’d get the phone I wanted instead of settling elsewhere.

iphoneSo I went with the iPhone 3G. It’s everything my first-gen 8Gb iPod touch was and more. I’m kinda disappointed in that I didn’t go for the 3GS, but I couldn’t pass up the $99 deal – especially since I was buying two iPhones at the time.

  1. It’s a mature platform. Sure, it still has some quirks – many of which are due to AT&T’s “issues”, but it’s very solid in general.
  2. I’m addicted to always on data. Paying the extra every month for an always-on connection was a no-brainer. My wife and I regularly use the GPS features built-in, and I’m as app-addicted as ever.
  3. 8Gb *is* enough. After two years with the iPod touch I quickly learned that I didn’t need to have all of my multimedia with me all of the time. I only listen to a fraction of what’s on my computer, why dump all of it on a mobile device? Sure, more capacity would be nice, but with smart rationing, it’s easy to get a few GBs of music/videos loaded for hours of enjoyment.

Looking back, my resistance to the iPhone was more than a little ridiculous. I justified carrying multiple devices daily, while missing out on the convenience the iPhone now affords me.

Some things I learned while getting the iPhone:

  • If you’re not in a hurry to get an iPhone and want to save a few bucks, order online or over the phone.
  • Having said that: Ordering online or over the phone is absolutely worthless. Go to an AT&T Store (or better yet, an Apple Store). They’ll take care of you. Otherwise, it’ll take 2-3 weeks before you get the phone. And that’s after waiting several days to get an email asking you to accept the terms and conditions of the iPhone – before they’ll ship one to you.
  • If you have an iPod touch and you’ve bought apps through iTunes, they can be installed on other devices you own. I was able to transfer my purchases to both my wife’s iPhone and my own without any issues.
  • Your first bill is going to surprise you. You might see a pro-rated amount + what you expected to pay. You might get double-charged. This is where it’s absolutely important you visit a store and establish a connection with one of the store reps. They can and will help you. My first bill was just shy of $300 for two iPhones (700 shared minutes, 2 data plans, 2 – 200 text messages). After visiting my local rep, my bill was knocked down by half.



Windows Vista

Microsoft’s “Mojave Experiment” is horribly misleading. Wil Shipley has some great thoughts on the matter: “The Mojave Experiment:” Bad Science, Bad Marketing.

I recently upgraded to Vista. I’ve avoided it like the plague since its initial release. I bought into a lot of the negative reviews, and they helped fuel my desire to stay away from Vista. But with a new laptop came the new OS and I figured I would give it a shot. After a couple of weeks of using it, I like it. It looks better than XP. I’ve found it to be more stable with the applications I use. I’ve found the OS to be more responsive (but I chalk that up to running it under better hardware). But it’s not without its problems.

Windows Vista Ultimate - Box shot

I CAN HAZ SP1 PLZ? I tried upgrading my install of Windows Vista Home Premium to Vista Ultimate. I was told that I needed to upgrade to Vista Home Premium SP1 OR I’d have to reformat my laptop and install Vista Ultimate. I opted for the former. After downloading the 400+Mb manual install for SP1, I ran it. It processed for 15-20 minutes, restarted my system, and configured 3 stages of updates. After another reboot, I was able to log into my system only to find that SP1 did not install due to errors. My only option, now, is to do a fresh install of everything.

I CAN HAZ WIRELESS PLZ? I only had one hardware conflict: My D-LINK WBR-1310 wireless router wouldn’t work with my Dell Inspiron 1710 laptop. I could get the hard-wired connection to work fine, but nothing I tried worked. I ended up swapping routers with my mother-in-law – she had a pre-N D-LINK router – and it solved my problems. Everything else I had installed without any problems.

I’m sure, as I spend more time with Vista, I’ll find more things that bother me. I haven’t had enough problems with it yet to justify a downgrade, but that thought is looming in the back of my mind already. When I get some time, I’ll start from scratch on the laptop and get Ultimate on it. But for right now, I’ll deal with what I’ve got, which isn’t half bad at all.

Firefox 3 add-ons I can’t live without.

Today Mozilla officially released Firefox 3. If you haven’t grabbed it yet, what are you waiting for? These are some of the extensions that I now use:

  • AnyColor – Currently available for the Windows version of Firefox 3 only, this add-on lets you shift the color/appearance of your current theme on the fly. It works really well with the default theme for Firefox 3 on Windows XP. I’m currently using the Dark preset.
  • Better Gmail 2 – An excellent extension that allows users to get more out of Gmail. (Updated the link!)
  • Color Management 0.4 – Though Firefox 3 has some support for color profiles out of the box, this add-on gives it the ability to read ICC color profiles embedded in images. (This hopefully translates to better and more consistent color fidelity in images on the web.)
  • ColorZilla 1.9 – With the ability to sample colors from anything on a webpage, and the ability to grab color palettes from those sites, this is an invaluable add-on to have.
  • Facebook Toolbar – If you use Facebook and Firefox, this toolbar is worth having. It notifies you when your friends post anything new, allows you to search contacts, see status updates and more all without visiting facebook.com.
  • FaviconizeTab – I just recently started using this add-on, and I can’t see how I worked without it. If you’re like me, and keep several tabs open all day long, this extension allows you to right-click on tabs and turn them into just the favicon only. Not only does this save valuable screen real estate, it allows you some degree of privacy in that people looking over your shoulder won’t necessarily be able to see what’s in all of your open tabs.
  • Firebug 1.2.0b3 – If you’re doing any sort of web design or development, you need to have this add-on installed. It’s an invaluable tool for debugging CSS/HTML, Javascript, and much, much more.
  • Google Gears – Gears enables you to use compatible sites offline. Google Documents, Remember the Milk and many more sites support Gears, and I’d imagine more sites in the future will work with it as well.
  • IE Tab – Another must have add-on for web designers/developers. Quickly toggle between Firefox and Internet Explorer rendering engines with Firefox itself.
  • MeasureIt 0.3.8 – This ruler comes in handy when wanting to measure elements on a site, specific images and more.
  • PicLens – PicLens lets you browse through photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube and more through an immersive 3D experience. The latest version has integrated Amazon “window shopping”, videos from MSNBC, ESPN and movie trailers and more…
  • Prism for Firefox 0.2 – This add-on allows you to create stand-alone applications of websites you commonly use. I used it to create stand-alone versions of Basecamp, Gmail and gCalendar.
  • ReloadEvery 3.0.0 – This simple add-on allows you to configure pages to be refreshed on a schedule you set. For example: If you use the web version of Twitter, you could set this extension to reload the page every 5 minutes.
  • Web Developer 1.1.6 – Honestly, I don’t use this add-on all that often, but when I do – I’m glad I had it. Simple things like being able to disable all styles and resizing the browser window makes this add-on worth keeping around for me.

What add-ons/extensions are you using with Firefox 3 that you can’t live without? I’d love to know!

Michael Montgomery suggested these extensions: