Google Doodle Lets You Play Guitar

Today’s Google Doodle honoring Les Paul is one of the most enjoyable Doodle’s that I’ve seen  — and it’s interactive.

Google Doodle Honoring Les Paul

In celebration of Les Paul’s 96th birthday, Google’s home page exhibits an interactive guitar that of course, spells out “Google”. If you go to Google’s home page today, you can actually play on the guitar. You can even record your masterpiece.  For those of you who miss this, check out my recording.  You won’t be impressed by my musical ability, but the interactive guitar is fantastic.

Also, here is a YouTube video from someone who took the time to create a song on the interactive guitar.

What Technology Will Be Like in 2014

A Swedish company called TAT (The Astonishing Tribe) put out this video with their ideas of what their technology will be like in 2014. It’s very interesting, especially if you would like to see Sweden win the World Cup in 2014. I think that this technology the thing to watch for the future, whether you want to buy stock in a company or just want to peer into the crystal ball. If you want to learn more about the screens of the future, check out the Corning Video that is even more detailed.

High Tech Typewriter

This video shows two things:
1. The old can become new
2. This is not always practical, but it can be fun.

Lexmark Genesis All-in-One Printer Review

Lexmark Genesis Printer

If you think that all printers are boxy blobs of plastic, this Lexmark Genesis S816 printer is sure to change your mind. As you can see, it is taller than it is wide and the entire front cover pulls forward toward you to reveal the scanner bed.

This unique design was created around a new form of scanner found in this printer. Rather than the usual line-by-line scanner, this printer has a full digital camera chip that scans by taking a full picture. This makes it very fast for both previews and scans.

This printer is an all-in-one that faxes, scans, copies, and prints. It can be set up on a wireless network. It performs all functions quite well and is even good at printing envelopes. This is not a photo printer, but picture quality is good enough for occasional photo printing.

This is an Internet connected computer, which uses Lexmark’s Smart Solutions to access the Internet for things like news, weather, and stocks. Smart Solutions also lets you do things like printing graph paper, music paper, calendars, and more.

As with a previous Lexmark printer, we had trouble setting up Smart Solutions on our Windows 7 computer.  We spent several frustrating hours on the phone with Lexmark support and they decided to send us a new printer. However, there was actually nothing wrong with the first printer. We were able to get it working properly after the Smart Solutions website was updated.


Lexmark is trying to break out of the mold with this Genesis S816 printer. It has an upscale look and good quality. It offers ease of use as well as the fastest scanning that we’ve seen in an all-in-one printer. The Genesis  performs all of its functions well, including printing, scanning, copying, and faxing. Features abound in this printer, including an automatic duplexer, a front-side USB port, and a three-year extended warranty with registration. Anyone who scans a lot of single-sheet documents will be happy with this all-in-one. Unfortunately, its lack of a document feeder makes it unsuitable for heavy use of multiple-page document scans or copies.

This is the second Lexmark printer where we had a problem with Smart Solutions. Although this time we got everything working properly with an update from Lexmark, we cannot say whether or not the Smart Solutions is yet ready for prime time. Smart Solutions does, however, have good potential and is being upgraded on a regular basis.

Lexmark is promoting this printer as a small office all-in-one and for that reason has included fax capabilities. Yet, because of the 100-sheet capacity of the paper input tray and the relatively small capacity of the ink cartridges, we cannot recommend this printer for office workgroups. We feel it would be more appealing for home or home-office users.

When this printer was released, the retail price at the Lexmark website was $399, which was a little pricey, but a recent reduction means you can find it under $200. That combined with low ink costs  make it an attractive acquisition for home or home office.


  • Compact footprint
  • Striking appearance
  • Quality build
  • Responsive touch-screen
  • Ultra-fast scanning
  • Straight-forward paper path
  • Wireless
  • Web-connected, SmartSolutions


  • Difficult to scan small documents or photos
  • No document feeder
  • Smart Solutions needs more stability
  • Poor technical support
  • Small print capacity, even in high-yield cartridges

To read my more detailed review and see pictures, go to the Hardware Secrets website.

The Future of Touch Screens

The touch screens used for today’s smartphones and tablet PCs are just the beginning. This video by Corning is called a Day Made of Glass. It shows how this technology will change our everyday lives in in the future. And this future may come sooner than you think. Check out this fascinating video.

iPhone 4 Review

There was a backlog of Verizon customers waiting for the iPhone 4 and now it is here. I took a look at the Verizon version and I liked what I saw.

The iPhone 4 is a design dream. It is small and sleek, yet very durable. The phone has everything that you have come to expect from a smart phone including two great cameras and a very responsive screen.  And the Apps — oh the Apps. There are hundreds of thousands of Apps to choose from and many are free. Whether you want to use your phone to play games, get organized, or read books, there is an App for you.

The Verizon iPhone is very similar to the AT&T iPhone with only a few small differences. The one thing that you should remember is that if you buy an iPhone from Verizon, it will won’t only on the Verizon network and won’t be useable on the AT&T network.

Also, remember that the iPhone 5 will be available pretty soon. iPhones are traditionally released every year in July. This year’s release may be a bit delayed, but a few months is not too long to wait to see what Apple has in store for its next version.


With the best industrial design of any smartphone, an amazing Retina display, a great camera, and useful updates to the operating system, the iPhone 4 is working hard to stay on top of the fray.   Yet, others are moving ahead with fresher operating systems, dual processors, and 4G and NFR support. Although iOS is useable, the Android and Windows 7 Phone operating systems have moved ahead with the use of widgets, improved notifications, and customization options.

While the AT&T iPhone offers better world-wide support, the Verizon performance was better in the areas of the US where we tested. AT&T also offers the ability to access voice and data simultaneously, but Verizon’s hot-spot feature seems better implemented.

Apple’s iPhone started a revolution in smart phones with everyone wanting one. Now, however, the competition has finally caught up with Apple. Even though the iPhone operating system has gotten a little old, the design of this phone is so good that if you buy one, you probably won’t care about that at all. All-in-all, this smartphone has some wonderful features and although it has some weak points, it won’t disappoint.

The Good

  • Fantastic screen
  • Very good rear-facing camera
  • Excellent design
  • Sturdy & stylish
  • Dual cameras
  • Very good accessibility options
  • AirPlay & AirPrint
  • Good noise-canceling microphone

The Bad

  • No user-replaceable battery
  • Non-expandable memory
  • Can’t do voice & data simultaneously
  • No 4G
  • No NFR
  • iOS need updating

My full review with pictures can be found at Hardware Secrets.

AT&T To Buy T-Mobile – What It Means For You

T-Mobile is a scruffy little company with a very loyal user base. AT&T is a very large company with a bad reputation for dropped calls and lack of coverage. What they have in common is that they both use the GSM network technology. The makes the T-Mobile acquisition perfect for AT&T. It gives them just what they need — an immediate boost in coverage. It would have taken years for AT&T to get the necessary permits to build out their network, but this gives them an immediate spread.

Immediate in this case, means about a year. That is how long it will take to get the necessary governmental approvals and to make the transition. I believe that AT&T will get the approval because governmental regulators will take into account the fact that Sprint and the other smaller carriers are now available.

What they probably won’t take into account is that this merger comes at the beginning of the move to 4G networks, where the smaller guys will not be able to compete. Sprint will eventually be swallowed up by Verizon and we will wind up with two gigantic companies — AT&T on their GSM network and Verizon on their CDMA network.

I believe that T-Mobile is one of the companies that had just enough pull to keep AT&T and Verizon on their toes. T-Mobile often offered lower prices and better deals. With them gone, there will be no competition other than the big two. They will compete, but will do nothing that is actually a benefit to the consumer.

Cellular companies now gouge users with their long contracts, high rates for things like texting, and high cancellation fees. I hope I am wrong, but I believe that this acquisition will leave the cellular customers worse off than they are now.

iPad 2 Makes Its Debut

iPad 2
iPad 2

iPad 2

If you watch technology, you know that last week’s big news was Apple’s release of the iPad 2. During the iPad’s announcement, Steve Jobs said that almost 15 million iPads had been sold in the original iPad’s first nine months on the market. Obviously, none of those people took my advice to wait for the second version of the iPad.

But those who did will be happy to find that the iPad 2 is lighter, a third thinner, and twice as fast. It has a more powerful dual core main processor and a faster video processer. It also has dual facing cameras, a gyroscope, and an HDMI port. Other specs, like the display, are the same as the iPad 1. The pricing is also the same: $499 to $699 for the Wi-Fi only versions and $629 to$829 for the Wi-Fi plus 3G, depending on the amount of memory. The 3G version will now have GPS and will work with service from AT&T and Verizon where the older iPad only worked on the AT&T network.

These changes give the iPad the ability to take pictures, do video conferencing, surf faster, and display movies and television shows more smoothly. The HDMI port will let you easily hook the iPad 2 up to a TV to display whatever you see on the iPad screen on the television. Most importantly, the new dual core processor, gyroscope, and GPS will allow developers to create better games and new Apps that will only run on the iPad 2 and future versions.

So perhaps now is the time to buy an iPad. But then, you need to consider that the competition in this tablet computer area is really heating up. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, no less than 80 manufacturers announced that they were working on tablets.  I thought that some of these manufacturers would have good, inexpensive tablets out by now, but most have not yet appeared, giving Apple a real leg up in the marketplace.

The few tablets that have appeared don’t seem to compare favorably to the iPad 2. Samsung has already released their Galaxy Tab. It is smaller and runs an older Android operating system so the whole tablet turns out to be inferior when compared to the iPad 2. Motorola has just released their Xoom tablet which is running a new Android operating system made for tablet PCs. The hardware and the new operating system are getting good reviews, but the Xoom only comes in one model with extra memory and 3G and 4G support. It sells for $800 without a Verizon contract or $600 with a two-year contract. While it may be popular, Motorola has cut out the lower end of the market where Apple is making a killing.  Apple smartly responded by cutting the price of the iPad 1 by $100. So you can now get an original iPad for $400.

While the launch of the iPad 2 will put more pressure on competitors to get their products to market in a timely way with a less expensive price tag, how they fair remains to be seen. In the iPod music area, Apple got such a strong hold on the market that no one has ever been able to catch up. Yet in the mobile phone arena even though Apple had a big lead with their iPhone, the Android operating system has become a good solid competitor. It’s too soon to tell how things will go with the tablet PC market, but one thing is for sure. These tablets are extremely useful as they augment the average lifestyle.

A tablet like the iPad can be used to easily read the morning, afternoon and evening news. It can be turned into a book reader, a magazine reader, a gaming machine, or a photo display gallery. You can use it to create and/or play music and to watch television and movies. Best of all, it is always handy. With a 10-hour battery life, you don’t have to worry about plugging it in as you do a laptop. Just pick it up when you need to look up a word, recipe, or news story. Use it as a baby-sitter to keep the kids entertained. Use it in the bathroom to catch up on email or in the garage to catch the game while you putter.  It can quickly become an integral part of your everyday family life.

All you have to do is decide if you want to buy one now or later. The next version of the iPad will be available at this time next year. It is almost sure to have a better display and other goodies that Apple is already working on. And there may be some competitor that comes on strong. In the meantime, the iPad 2 is a worthwhile purchase. In fact, I’ve got a birthday coming up and I just put it on my wish list – make that a Verizon 3G model, please.

Mobile Edge ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly Bag

Mobile Edge ScanFast Bag
Mobile Edge ScanFast Bag

Mobile Edge ScanFast Bag

It wasn’t long ago that only business road warriors needed laptop computers and bags to carry them in. My — how things have changed! Now retirees are using laptops when they hit the road, and people of all ages are toting their laptops along  so so they can connect to the Internet when they travel.

With security screening at airports, toting a laptop has become problematic because with most cases, you must remove the laptop from the bag and put it on the conveyor belt. The new ScanFast laptop bags are different. They are TSA approved so you don’t have to remove the laptop from the case. You simply open the case and send it through the x-ray machine. It’s one way to make air travel easier.

Since this January, I have used Mobile Edge ScanFast Messenger bag for several flights. Each time it went through security quickly and easily without removing the laptop saving a lot of aggravation. Best of all, after you get through security, you can simply zip the bag and go. I feel a lot more comfortable about having control over my laptop when it travels down the belt.

I am using the Mobile Edge Checkpoint Friendly Messenger style bag. Mobile Edge has obviously put a lot of thought into the design of this bag. It has a small handle plus a comfortable shoulder strap.There are four outside zippered pockets. One is the perfect size for airline tickets and travel documents. The area for the computer is padded and marked “Computer Friendly”. The bag is not over-sized, but it can easily handle my 16″ Sony laptop. There are also several inside pouches and pockets, including ones that are perfectly sized for paper folders, USB drives, CDs & DVDs, pens, memory cards, and business cards.  Everything is easily accessible. I now have no excuse for not being organized when I travel.

I am also impressed with the quality of the bag, itself. It is sturdy. The zippers are strong. Best of all the bag is eco-friendly. It is made from corn. Specifically, it is made from DuPont Sorona, a material  derived from corn, requiring 30% less energy to manufacture and reducing greenhouse emissions by 63%!

This bag retails for $99 and is worth every penny. Mobile Edge also has a briefcase bag and a backpack in the same model line.

Let’s face it, I have a lot of laptop bags to choose from. I started off using this bag for air travel, but it has become my “go-to” bag whenever I need to take my laptop along!

Mobile Edge - Stylish Laptop Cases and Accessories

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