My Pebble Smart Watch.

pebble_watchI never imagined I would own a smart watch. I have always bought the cheapest Casio or Timex watches I can find and they have served me well. Recently, though, I read an article written by a fellow who is hard of hearing and he said he rarely missed a call on his cell phone because of his smart watch. That intrigued me because I am hard of hearing. I have a Samsung Note 4 which I keep in my pants pocket (it has never bent) and I probably miss 80% of my calls because I don’t hear the phone or feel the vibration. I decided to buy the highly rated Pebble Watch for under $100 from Amazon and it’s made a huge difference for me. I never miss the vibration on my wrist whenever I receive a call, email, or notification. The watch has a crisp epaper display and even with my poor eyesight I can easily read caller information, calendar reminders, etc. The Pebble Smartwatch has been a great watch for me and I wear it all the time.

metroPCS – Seems Great So Far.

metropcs

When I bought my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phone I switched carriers from Sprint to T-Mobile.  I really like T-Mobile – the 4G LTE coverage in my area is better than Sprint and the wi-fi calling feature is great.  Recently, though, I noticed the ads for metroPCS, a prepaid wireless service owned by T-Mobile that uses the T-Mobile network nationwide for talk, text, and data services.  metroPCS plans cost less and provide greater data allowances than the plans offered by T-Mobile.  I figured there must be a catch so last week I visited a metroPCS corporate store and spoke with the manager.  As he described the service I couldn’t see any problem and metroPCS allows you to bring your own phone.  I purchased a metroPCS SIM card for $10.00 and switched my phone from T-Mobile to metroPCS.  I now have twice the monthly data allowance for less money and the service seems great so far.  Data speed seems to be the same as it was with T-Mobile and wi-fi calling functions just as it did with T-Mobile.  If I run into any problems I’ll let you know.

Dell Venue 8 7840 Tablet.

venue8I’m an Android junkie.  I’ve had several Android phones (my current phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which I love) and a variety of Android tablets, including the Motorola XOOM (my first tablet), a couple of ASUS Transformers, several Samsung tablets (including the Tab S 8.4 which I liked but returned due to overheating problems), the original Nexus 7, and a 2013 Nexus 7 which I rooted and ran CM11, then returned to stock to get the Lollipop update.  Until now, however, none of my Android devices have used an Intel processor, although Intel processors are used in most Windows computers and newer Apple computers.  Therefore, when I read that the new Dell Venue 8 7840 was an all-Intel Android tablet that had won the “Best of Innovation” award at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show I quickly placed my order.

As I write this I’ve had the Dell Venue 8 7840 for a little over two weeks and I think it’s the best tablet I’ve owned.  I can’t comment on the camera because I think tablets are too large to make good cameras so I use the camera on my Note 4 phone.  For me a tablet is primarily a media consumption device; I browse the Web, read books, news and magazines, listen to music, view videos, etc. I’m an older guy with impaired vision and hearing and the 8.4″ 2560 x 1600 OLED display and front-facing stereo speakers and MaxxAudio® by Waves make it easy to see the display and hear the audio without using hearing aids or headphones.  Battery life seems good and the battery charges quickly.  For those who want to store a lot of music, photos, videos, etc., the tablet can use up to a 512GB micro SD card, although I don’t think a micro SD card that large has yet been developed.  I think this is the first Intel-based Android tablet and I expected some glitches; however, my apps have run without problems, although the YouTube app needs to be updated to provide a resolution greater than 720p, and I’m sure the engineers at Dell and Intel are working to get Android Lollipop ready for the Venue 8.

The Dell Venue 8 7840 is a great tablet.  Try it, you’ll like it.

WordPress, Genesis Framework, and Dynamik Website Builder

wordpress-logoI’ve been developing websites since before the turn of the century, both as a hobby and as a small business. For many years I used Adobe Dreamweaver to build sites with HTML and CSS, but then I discovered that the development process is faster, easier, and much less costly using WordPress.  I’ve tried a number of frameworks and themes with WordPress and my personal preference is the Genesis Framework and Dynamik Website Builder.  I developed a website to provide a brief introduction to the combination of WordPress, Genesis Framework and Dynamik Website Builder. I invite you to visit the site at http://pittwebsites.com/wptest/.

Goodbye OnePlus, Hello Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Based on what I have read, the OnePlus One (OPO) is a very good smartphone at an unbelievably low price ($299 for 16GB or $349 for 64GB). The OPO has many of the same features as the flagship phones from other companies, and it comes with CyanogenMod (CM) installed. I’m a big fan of CM.  I have a rooted 2013 Nexus 7 with CM11 installed and I run nightly builds. However, while the OPO may be a “Flagship Killer”, it’s not going to kill many flagships if people can’t buy it. Since its introduction the only way to get an OPO has been through a rather strange “invite” system (the company has said it may launch a pre-order system in late October).

I have been reading the OPO forums and reviewers’ comments for months – thinking about buying the OP – and then Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 4. I have had a Note II for almost two years and I like the size and the features. One of our sons-in-law has a Galaxy S5 and I’ve been very impressed with his phone. The Note 4 appears to be a larger and improved version of the S5 with some new features added. Unfortunately, the cost of the Note 4 is about $750, although you can opt to pay T-Mobile in 24 monthly installments with no interest.  Also, Samsung is offering a $200 trade-in allowance for pre-orders. Still, the Note 4 is $200 to $400 more than the 64GB OnePlus One. Could I justify that additional expense?

After giving the matter a great deal of thought I pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 from T-Mobile. Why, you ask, am I willing to spend the extra money? Here are some of my reasons:

  • Ability to pre-order and have a reliable delivery date.
  • After sale support.
  • Expandable memory.
  • Fast charging and replaceable battery.
  • Wi-fi calling.
  • Better rear camera with OIS.

 

I’ll give you my impressions after I receive the phone (sometime after October 17th).