November 4, 2009
We recently purchased a monster computer for less than $500 from Woot – a refurbished Gateway LX6810 Media Center. This bad boy has 4 Intel Dual-Core CPUs, 8 GB of RAM, and a 640 GB RAID disk array. It’s also got an HD tuner (complete with remote), HDMI and DVI outputs, a host of USB ports – and boy does it fly. It came with Vista Home Premium and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Vista actually seem fast. Based on a Consumer Reports recommendation I bought a Viewsonic 24-inch widescreen LCD monitor to go with this system and it provides a wonderful quality 1920 X 1080 (HDTV resolution) graphical interface to us.
We’ve just started experimenting with utilizing all of the capabilities of this monster system, but it’s already amazing to have so much computer power running right in our home!
July 8, 2009
… has got to be my Cradlepoint PHS300 cellular to WiFi portable hotspot. As you can see in the picture above I even use it in my car. In fact, I’ve used it in my car while my wife or I was driving – both with my netbook and with my iPhone. I’ve used it to make Skype calls on my iPhone while driving myself.
It’s an awesome device that allows me to quickly and easily stay connected to the Internet, while bypassing any AT&T restrictions on iPhone applications, and just lets me get work done. I’m really loving it!
June 3, 2009
I recently purchased a new device that has turned out to exceed my expectations for it. I just love it when that happens!
The device is the Cradlepoint PHS300. It’s a portable device that creates a WiFi hotspot that accesses the internet through a cellular USB modem. It works great with my AT&T USBConnect Mercury cellular modem.
The main reason I bought is was my experience in the Cayman Islands, which I related here in a previous posting. I needed to be able to access the Internet through WiFi in order to use Skype on my iPhone to make calls. Skype doesn’t work over the AT&T 3G network, only over WiFi. So my wife, Rosemarie, and I found ourselves constantly scrambling around the island looking for free WiFi hotspots. Luckily, we found an abundance there.
Nevertheless, this experience really got me thinking. There are a few key iPhone applications that are blocked from directly using the AT&T cellular network and require a WiFi connection – applications like Skype and Sling Media Player. So why not get a device that would allow me to carry my own mobile WiFi hotspot around in my pocket and have access to the Internet through it wherever I was able to access the AT&T cellular network, i.e., pretty much everywhere I travel in the US.
The Cradlepoint PHS300 is just that device. So far it has worked flawlessly. It’s got a rechargeable battery good for a couple of hours usage, and includes an AC adapter for when electrical outlets are available. In addition is has provided me with an unexpected benefit – better connectivity at my work location with my current consulting client. I’ve written here before of my problems in getting a decent AT&T 3G connection in the part of the building where I’m now working. Well, it turns out that if I put my AT&T USBConnect Mercury cellular modem into a vertical orientation (see picture above), I get a great signal there! So, I’m using the PHS300 at work all the time and not even plugging the AT&T USBConnect Mercury device into my Asus 1000H anymore. I can even carry the 1000H into conference rooms on the floor I work and still maintain a usable WiFi connection to the PHS300.
End result: I’m really happy with the PHS300!
September 21, 2008
Woot had a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner available at a very good price last week, so I ordered one. I received it on Saturday and on Sunday I gave it a try-out while I watched football.
It’s really an amazing device, and yes, it actually works! I set it to cleaning my fairly cluttered living room, my dining room, kitchen, and the hallway leading to my upstairs bedrooms. I live in a fairly large house and these rooms are all quite sizeable. It took a total of about 2 hours for it to get them all clean.
It’s really fascinating to watch in action. It uses a variety of touch and infrared sensors to navigate about the house. It seems to use some simple algorithms to determine where to go along with some pseudo-randomization to make sure it covers the entire room. Leave it alone and it will eventually manage to traverse every square inch of a room. It vacuums quite well, whether on rugs or hardwood or kitchen floors. It actually did an outstanding job, even along the baseboards where it used its wall-following algorithm. It even manages to navigate well underneath tables and any other furniture it can fit under. When it encounters what it considers a dirty area, a bright blue light goes on and it spirals around in that area until the area meets the robot’s cleanliness standards, and then it continues on its way. Overall, it did a much more thorough job than I would do with my Hoover vacuum cleaner. It took longer than I would have taken, but I was able to watch football from my couch while it did all the work. Not a bad deal!
The picture shows Robbie (what other name could I give him?!?!) sitting in his charging unit. He finds it himself when you tell him he’s done, and rolls up to it, turns himself off, and starts recharging. Also in the picture are the two Virtual Wall units that came with him. They allow you to wall off areas that you don’t want Robbie to go into. They will project an infrared beam up to 8 feet in length that Robbie treats just the same as a wall. Robbie is also smart enough not to fall down stairs. I purposely left the downstairs stairway door open in the kitchen and watched him approach the stairway a couple of times and then gingerly back-off and reverse course.
So far, I’m one very happy robot owner. Robbie has taken over one chore I find somewhat tedious to do, and he does it better than I do. My house is now going to be cleaner than ever!