The Six Plus

A month or so back I decided to give the iPhone 6 Plus a second try. The first time I tried the 6 Plus, it wasn’t really a good trial period. During the time I had it before reaching the 14 day return limit, I was traveling back to back on business trips and a personal vacation so I really didn’t get to assess it as a normal everyday device.

While using my iPhone 6, in the back of my head I kept thinking quite a bit about how the 6 Plus may actually be a better fit for me. Paired with my iPhone 6 I also was using an iPad mini (with retina screen). Although everything synced between the two, I still had massive anxiety to keep everything up to date on both devices. This wasn’t really the fault of the devices or system, more of a personal problem really. I was pondering if I could get rid of both my iPhone 6 and my iPad mini and replace them with a single device, an iPhone 6 Plus. It seems a bit crazy, but from a usability standpoint it made a lot of sense because I could have everything on a single device.

Back to the Apple Store I went to purchase a fully unlocked 64GB Silver iPhone 6 Plus. Almost all my iPhones to date have been black (I had a white iPhone 3G). This was the first phone in a while that I decided to go with silver/white (it’s beautiful). So began the testing; I put both the iPhone 6 and iPad Mini in the drawer and commenced single device mode. The first couple weeks were somewhat awkward as the phone is so much larger than any previous phone I have ever had. One concern I had was with apps that were “iPad Only”. The good news is that this trend of iPad only has fallen off quite a bit and most apps have moved to being universal. The only major iPhone only app that I use is a company app, so I can utilize a work iPad for that. Honestly, with how big the iPhone 6 Plus screen is, I don’t see any reason for iPad only apps anymore. The phone really is a smaller iPad more than a bigger iPhone.

I do have to carry my phone differently now, as it really doesn’t fit in my front pockets as well. Throw it in the back pocket though, and it’s no big deal. A benefit of this is that it has freed up my other front pocket so now I can carry more stuff! One of the items is a Lightning to HDMI adapter so I can present and share content to external displays and projectors. So far, I have not sat on and broke my phone, so we are looking good.

There haven’t been any situations that have come up that made me long to have an iPad again so far. I am able to do all my daily work and personal tasks using just the iPhone 6 Plus. One of the benefits of an iPad was its battery life since it had such a massive battery. The 6 Plus is a huge phone which means more room for battery as well! I have never had a phone last as long as this one does. I go all day using it for everything that used to take two devices and I have no issues with battery life.

So, did I end up keeping the iPhone 6 Plus?
YEP! I sold both my 64GB Space Grey iPhone 6 and my 32GB Space Grey iPad Mini.

I am a believer in the 6 Plus.

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User.Space | BoostedBoard

I had a pretty cool opportunity over the last 2 weeks to take a BoostedBoard for a test run! I rented one for two weeks for $100. The most simplistic description I can come up with for the BoostedBoard would be to call it an electric skateboard, but I’m not sure that really does it justice. The board itself is a long board style deck so it cruises super smooth. It comes in 3 different model configurations, with each providing more power as you go up the range.

Single Drive
Dual Drive
Dual Drive Plus (The model I tested)

You control the board with a bluetooth connected, hand held controller. This controller allow you to set the speed, and lets you control not only forward motion but reverse as well. The reverse feature is really awesome because it effectively gives you super responsive braking, so you never have to take your feet off the board.

Considering all the batteries and motors that are needed, it still is a fairly light package should you need to carry it. It weighs in at about 15 pounds. The build quality on this board is top notch as well. All components look and feel premium for sure.

The speed and the range of this thing are nothing to scoff at. With the Dual+ model coming in at a top speed of 22 mph, you will not be left wanting more speed. The range of the board is 7 miles, which is plenty for this type of vehicle I feel. With the fast charger you can charge it all the way up in about an hour as well, so no real battery anxiety issues as long as you keeps chargers at your most frequented stops.

The pricing of the board models is $999 for the Single, $1,299 for the Dual, and $1,499 for the Dual+.

At the end of the two weeks, I had the opportunity to buy one after giving back my loaner. I didn’t even up buying one as of this post, but it wasn’t really any fault of the product. In fact, I really liked it! It really was just that it didn’t fit into my current travel lifestyle. I definitely will be keeping this thing in mind for the future when my travel routes change!

Check out their website http://boostedboards.com for more info and for info regarding potential trials and rentals in your area.

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FREEkey System

A key ring? Really? YES! We carry our keys all over the place, yet we still use the same free piece of crap keyring we found in a drawer in the kitchen. You may have upgraded, but chances are, you just got the same crappy ring, but it had a cool doodad on it. I accidentally came across a new key ring “system” that is awesome. It’s called FREEkey. It has 2 parts; one main ring, and several smaller rings that attach to it. The main ring is built in such a way that you never struggle to get keys on or off, you simply squeeze it and the smaller rings are free to be removed or added. How does this work? Check out the photo of it below and this video on their site and it will all make sense. The rings are made of a brushed stainless steel and are super light. Also, because you can put each key on a smaller ring, your keys can lay much flatter in your pocket or bag. You may have already stopped reading this, but if you haven’t, you really have to check this thing out, it’s great. Not really an item you would seek out, but once you have it you are going to love it! It’s also made right here in the United States.

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Current Pricing as of 2015-02-14
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Quality Coffee Stirring

Do you need to stir your coffee and/or tea? This is not a super difficult problem to solve, but for me, a small electric stirrer is the best. I have had many of them over the years, and that is the problem. Quality. They are generally very cheap and with that you get the wonderful ‘opportunity’ to replace it at least once a year. Not only is that annoying, but also quite wasteful. After my last one broke, I gave up on them for a while (I even tried mounting the stirring end to my cordless Dremel, but that did not end well) until we happened upon a new one I had never seen. The Capital Handheld Milk Frother. It has great design, a quality build, and is also super quiet! It runs on 2 AAA batteries, and I load it up with Eneloops so I am not throwing batteries away.

It is about $15.00 and Amazon usually has it in stock, but Bed Bath & Beyond also has it as well.

It’s a handy little tool to have in the kitchen and has served me well for the last couple months!

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User.Space | Shapeways

I have had my eye on 3D printing for a pretty long time, but it was only recently that I finally decided to dive in and try it for myself. The tipping point for me was when a project came up that was of the size and complexity that I thought could be done with no 3D model making experience, and was something that would actually be useful in my life.

The item that I set out to create was a custom bracket to use with my microphone. I use a Blue Yeti microphone that is attached to an adjustable boom arm. I also have the Blue Pop Filter but it has a bendable attachment arm that I never really liked and doesn’t work well at all with the boom arm. After dismantling the pop filter, and taking off the bendable arm, I was left with just the screen and no way to attach it to the microphone. Seemed like a perfect opportunity for 3D printing!

I grabbed some cardboard and started working out what a bracket would look like and once I had that, I measured all the angles and lengths of the cardboard mockup and set out to recreate it in 3D. I wasn’t sure what program to use on the mac for 3D design, so I did some research into what applications export the types of files that are used by 3D printers and landed on 123D Design from Autodesk. I would never call this application “great”, but it did the basic things that I needed and was fairly easy to pick up, so I went with it.

After going through a couple iterations of the design, and getting it to a point where I was happy with it and thought it would work, it was time to print! I don’t have a 3D printer of course, but with the recent popularity of 3D printing, there are now services that you can send your design to, and pretty inexpensively get it printed and shipped to you. The service I used is called Shapeways. The process couldn’t have been easier; I uploaded a .stl file of my design, picked the material I wanted it printed with, paid for it, and that was it. Shapeways does some checking of your design to ensure it will successfully print before moving forward, and once your design passes that first check, it goes to print. When checking your order status, they have a nice update menu showing you where your project is in the process. I received the “ok to print” email pretty quickly after submitting, and then just had to wait for it to arrive in the mail. The shipping estimate was originally around 4 weeks, but it showed up at my house in about 2 weeks.

It was an amazing experience opening the box to find something that I had thought up and created myself! The sense of accomplishment was off the charts. Then came the time to see if it actually worked.. I did a test fit and it was perfect! I didn’t design in all the mounting holes for this first print because I wanted to do a real fitting to determine the hole placement. I used my Dremel to create the needed holes and the bracket installed perfectly and does exactly what I intended.

The whole process of using Shapeways was great and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for your projects, especially if you have never done 3D printing. It is a relatively inexpensive way to get your ideas from concept to reality.

Check out pictures of the completed bracket installed on the microphone.

Tiny But Mighty Trio

I live digital, and I am sure many of you do as well. We do of course live in a very analog world and our phones don’t always have all the answers. Having a small knife, flashlight, or pen when you really need it can make your day. I have always kept various tools with me in my bag/backpack, but that doesn’t really help you if you don’t have your bag with you. What you really need are tools that fit in your bag that is always with you, your pocket!

Fisher Space Pen – Copper Zirconium Nitride ~$40
Check it out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A32F122/

Having an awesome pen with you 24/7 is one of those things you may not know you need until you have one. This was the case for me. Life is too short to write with a crappy pen, and while you are writing with a nice pen, why not have it look cool too!?

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After trying one out, I decided to make the purchase of a Space Pen. There are tons of options for Space Pens nowadays, and the one I landed on is the Copper Zironium Nitride bullet pen. How cool does that sound? It’s super small and you really don’t notice it in your pocket. It writes every time you pull it out, no more scribbling frantic circles instead of writing down that great idea that popped into your head.

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Leatherman Squirt PS4 Red Keychain Tool with Plier ~$26

Check it out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0032XZW82/

I really like my trusty Swiss Army knife, but it is a bit big to keep in my pocket with me every day. I also tend to find myself needing a little bit wider selection of tool types. A standard Size Leatherman is of course a great tool, but again very large. The good news is that Leathrman makes multi-tools in many sizes. The tool I chose is the Squirt PS4 in red. It has a really good selection of tools in a very small package. All your basic daily need tools for small on-the-go jobs, scissors, pliers, knife, screwdrivers.

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Fenix E05 Stainless Steel 85 Lumen LED Flashlight ~$29

Check it out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00LGYTET2/

Let there be light! Dropping that adapter down behind your desk and not being able to see where it went is never fun. If only you had a flashlight with you. Now you do! This light is very small, but don’t let the size fool you, it cranks out a lot of light! It has 3 settings for 8, 25, and 85 lumens. Solid construction, ability to stand upon end, and fits in your pocket, or coin pocket really well.

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There you have it, The Mighty Trio! If you are looking for some great little tools to carry in your pocket, give these a shot!

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User.Space | Sony RX100 III Camera

2014-12-28 15.48.48I love taking photos whenever I can, and that means a wide variety of scenes that could come up. If I am going out for a walk/hike/outing with the specific intent of taking photos, I will bring my beloved Sony A7 body (talked about a few episodes back) with a fixed lens and maybe a zoom to accompany. Although this camera is insanely small for being a full frame mirrorless, there are still times when it is just too big to carry around for the day, or perhaps a larger camera may draw unwanted attention. Generally my second camera is whatever iPhone I have at the time (currently the iPhone 6), and this is often my primary as I never go anywhere without. The iPhone camera really is amazing considering how small it is and integrated into my already being carried phone. There are times however, when a phone camera just doesn’t quite cut it. This is where the mid level camera comes in, these cameras generally fit into the “point and shoot” category”.

Improvements Of Note Through The Model Revisions
RX100 I
– Initial launch of the model.
– 28-100MM Focal Range
– f/1.8 – 4.9
– Max Video Bit Rate: 28Mbps (AVCHD)

RX100 II
– 90/40 degree Tilting Screen
– Optional Electronic View Finder
– WiFi / NFC

RX100 III
– Upgraded Bionz X Processor
– 180/45 degree Tilting Screen
– Slightly Less Focal Range: 24-70mm
– Much improved Aperture Range: f/1.8-2.8!
– Max Video Bit Rate: 50MBps (XAVC S)
– Built in Electronic View Finder
– Built in Neutral Density Filter

Price
New, it retails for just shy of $800. You can find great used ones in the $600-$650 range however. I bought mine used and got a great deal on it! Buying camera gear used is a really great way to save a ton of money and potentially even get an upgraded piece of equipment from what you were looking to spend.

Check out used prices on Amazon

-=Episode 0005=-

Two Factors Are Better Than One

Another year comes to a close, and that marks one more year full of hacks, exploits, and identity theft. There are many things you can do to help keep your data safe, one of which is keeping your online accounts as locked down as you can. You should of course always have strong and secure passwords1, but there are additional things you can do to harden your security measures. One such item, is the use of 2-factor authentication when available. This type of authentication comes in several flavors. It can be text messages, a hardware token generator, software token generator, phone calls, tokens printed out and saved in your wallet, or even a secondary device. Because there are a vast number of ways to setup this type of system, it is common that people will simply skip the addition of 2-factor authentication all together. No matter the implementation, the idea is to have at least one additional piece of information that is needed aside from your password, in order to access the account or service.

There is always a tradeoff between security and convenience, but this doesn’t mean you should be too far in either direction on the scale. I would always push to be as far towards the security side as you can manage on a day-to-day basis. Even one extra measure of security is better than nothing.

When it comes to 2-factor authentication, we are starting to see more services support the feature and more options for users in terms of token generation. One of the first mainstream options that most people have seen is Google Authenticator. Despite the name, this token generator can be used with many more services beside Google’s own properties. It’s a pretty straightforward and simple app that works well.

General Gotchas of 2-Factor Systems
– If you lose your phone that has your token generator, and you don’t have backup codes for each account, you will be locked out of those accounts and have to prove your identity to get back in. Remember, this is what you want the system to do for you.
– If you wipe your phone for some reason, many token generators do not keep your data, so you will need to setup 2-factor on your accounts again. (similar to above)
– You can only use a single device to generate tokens, so if you don’t have that device around, you are somewhat stuck.

The authentication system I have been using lately is called Authy. This system runs on just about all the devices out there, and has one feature that differentiates it from all the other systems out there that I have seen. It allows you to sync your tokens across devices. So, let’s say you don’t have your phone with you, but you do have your iPad, you can simply open Authy on your iPad and get your token from there. There is also a computer client in the form of a Chrome Browser extension, so if you use Chrome, you are set there.

So far I have not had any major issues with Authy, but your mileage of course may vary. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter which app you use, just as long as you are using some kind of extended security on your accounts. Thing are only going to get worse out there in terms of account attacks, and you should do all you can to be proactively secure before something happens and you have to scramble to clean up the mess afterwards.

More info about Authy https://www.authy.com/what-is-authy


1 Please start using 1Password to create really strong passwords and manage them all for you.

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User.Space | Remember Jailbreaking?

iOS 8 / iPhone 6 Jailbreak

Although I do like the tweaks I have installed a lot, I can’t imagine I will leave my phone Jailbroken going forward. The biggest annoyance of Jailbreaking is when iOS updates come out. You are generally waiting a good amount of time before you can upgrade. I will leave it Jailbroken at least until iOS 8.2 comes out I am sure (unless something goes horribly wrong!). It is definitely fun playing around with this stuff, even if it does make me feel dirty! :)

Installed Apps / Tweaks / Mods
– ReachTheNyanCat
– ShowCase
– f.lux
– UntetheredHeySiri
– SwipeSelection
– RoundDock
– OneTapClear
– Bloard
– NoLowPowerAlert
– Power Tap
UPDATE: Things I have added since posting this
– PowerSoundDisabler
– Badge Customizer
– Grabby
– Weatherboard

Phones I Jailbroke
iPhone (YES)
iPhone 3G (YES)
iPhone 3GS (NO)
[Messed around with Android for a while]
iPhone 4 (YES)
iPhone 4S (YES)
iPhone 5 (NO)
iPhone 5S (NO)
iPhone 6 (YES)
iPhone 6 Plus (NO)

Links
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOS_jailbreaking
http://www.idownloadblog.com/2014/11/29/how-to-jailbreak-ios-8-1-1-on-windows/

-=Episode 0004=-

Taking A Step Back From Google

I have been on this here internet for a good while. For the vast majority of that time, I have used a mixture of Google products, and historically, there have been few good reasons not to. Search was of course the big draw to get people using Google, but email, calendaring, and other services came along later as well. For a long time, Google’s search has arguably provided the highest quality results in general, and their style of email is usually either highly praised or adamantly disdained, with little room in between. Even more than the quality of their services, the real big draw for many is the price: free. Free, at least in terms of dollar value. It costs you nothing to do a search, send an email, or create a calendar event. Google’s goal is to create products that give the user value in exchange for you being the recipient of ads and ad tracking.

Up to this point I saw no reason to venture outside the Google walls. But, in my typical fashion, I thought it would be interesting to see what else was out there in the various arenas that Google was a part of. In years past, there really weren’t any alternatives that were on par with Google’s offerings; but that was then, and times are a bit different now.

As of yesterday, I was using a Google Apps account to host email, calendar, and contact data for my wife and I. Neither one of us were particularly in love with the overall solution, but it worked ok in a general sense. The event that triggered this Google cancellation was actually a switch in search providers. As I said earlier, Google had been my go-to in the area of search for a while, but that changed a couple weeks ago when I started using DuckDuckGo. This search provider is not new, and I have, in fact, used it in the past. Problem was, it was not available as a default provider within browsers in OS X or iOS, so using it was cumbersome. However, with Safari’s latest updates in both OS X and iOS, DuckDuckGo is now fully integrated, which meant I could finally give it a fair tryout. Somewhat long story short, I have now been using DuckDuckGo for a few weeks and am very happy with the service; it has completely replaced Google search for me. The removal of ads and tracking have been a welcome change, to say the least. I would, however, like to see some way for me to compensate DuckDuckGo to help ensure its resilience in this brutal marketplace.

Changing my search provider was the pebble that started the snowball that has become the diversification of my online life. After this small win, it was time to tackle “the personal service trifecta”: email, calendar, and contacts. Because I use OS X and iOS exclusively, Apple’s iCloud was a good place to start looking. I do, however, want to use a custom domain for my email, so I was only really looking at iCloud for calendars and contacts. The service works really well for those items, and I have not yet had any issues. Email tends to be the difficult one (if you want to use a custom domain). After trialing several solutions, I actually ended up with something I already had access to, but forgot about. I register new domains with Hover, and have moved all of my previous domains to them as well. Hover also has email services, and being that the domain is registered with them, adding email service to the domain was very easy.

In a nut shell, that’s it. I now use the below configuration of services and devices, and don’t rely on Google for anything. I am also now not being tracked or subjected to a barrage of ads through Google search. I have to be clear, I am not faulting Google, or accusing them of wrong doing. I simply do not find their business model to be in line with my best interests.

Service Overview
Mail: Hover IMAP
Calendar: iCloud
Contacts: iCloud
Search: DuckDuckGo

Devices
iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air
Mail: Apple Mail
Calendar: Apple Calendar, Fantastical
Contacts: Apple Contacts
Browser/Search: Safari & DuckDuckGo

iPhone 6
Mail: Apple Mail
Calendar: Fantastical
Contacts: Apple Contacts
Browser/Search: Safari & DuckDuckGo

iPad Mini
Mail: Apple Mail
Calendar: Fantastical
Contacts: Apple Contacts
Browser/Search: Safari & DuckDuckGo