Category: "Random Thoughts"

Lenovo Ideapad Z570 1024DAU 15.6-Inch Laptop

May 18th, 2012

The stylish yet affordable IdeaPad Z570 is packed with loads of cool features to make your day more fun. Bring your multimedia experience alive on your high-definition widescreen display; optimize audio-visual settings with OneKey Theater II; and get top quality audio with SRS Premium Surround SoundTM. The IdeaPad Z570 is built for convenience too. It supports WiDi technology; features a comfortable AccuType keyboard making typing easier; and Lenovo Energy Management provides longer battery life. This laptop is powered by the smart performance of a 2nd generation Intel CoreTM processor. Plus, with Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows 7 with RapidBoot technology, you can start your PC up to 20 seconds faster than a typical Windows 7 computer. And you can enjoy the best possible multimedia experience too.

I needed a new laptop. I always find it hard to balance the specs needed in a laptop against cost so I lapsed into my usual analysis paralysis. Enter the Z570. Many people are becoming familiar with the Lenovo brand, which is predominantly known for "work" laptops. This laptop can go toe-to-toe with the other major manufacturers in the consumer market. When asked for recommendations, I have always steered people to HP or Toshiba. The Lenovo Z570 has certainly entered the conversation for machines at this price point. The hardware in this laptop won't knock your socks off, but it has everything that I need and it should last me awhile if I treat it well.

2nd Generation Intel® Core™ i3-2350M processor
Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 for Windows® 7, with RapidBoot technology
15.6" HD widescreen (1366x768)
Integrated Intel® HD 3000 Graphics
6GB DDR3 memory, 500GB HD
Integrated high-speed 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
Integrated DVD reader/writer
USB 2.0, eSATA connectors & 5-in-1 card-reader
Integrated 0.3M webcam for clearer video chats
5.7 lbs
Up to 5 hours (with 6-cell battery)

The screen is great and watching videos is a rewarding experience. I am bummed that the resolution is capped at 1366 x 768, but the important thing is that the video is always crisp. The touchpad is super sensitive and I am still working to retrain myself, but I think I will just get an external mouse. The DVD drive opens maybe too easily, but learn to maneuver your laptop from the left and you can work around that.

Other than that, this is a great laptop at a great price. I am happy with mine and have recommended it to a few others already.

Amazon

Maxell AirStash Wireless Flash Drive A02 8GB

December 22nd, 2011

This device was seemingly conceived out of the public outcry for expandable storage for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iTouch). Since Apple hasn't come to the rescue, Maxell stepped up to the plate with an external harddrive that connects wirelessly. So basically this serves a very targeted need for a niche market; if you, for example, have a 16GB iPod Touch and it is full of music/apps/movies/photos and you don't want to buy a second iPod Touch with more space...buy an AirStash. Then you can expand the amount of media you can access.

(Note: The AirStash is sold as either 8GB or 16Gb, but the product comes with a SDHC card that you slide into the card-reader slot. Maxell says the AirStash will work with SDHC cards up to 32GB and SDXC cards up to 2TB!)

Maxell has an Airstash+ App available in the iTunes App Store that you can use for relatively seamless integration of your AirStash. Currently, there is no "official" app available for Android devices (smartphones, tablets and your Kindle Fire). If you have an Android device, Maxell says any app that has webDAV capability should work fine (or just point your browser to to airstash.net). When turned on, the AirStash emits a WiFi signal. You "join" your device to that WiFi connection and then use the app or browse to www.airstash.net to see your content.

From the web interface at airstash.net (when you are connected to your AirStash via WiFi) you can change the SSID of your WiFi signal and set a password. The default SSID includes "AirStash" in the name and if want to customize it, you may. Also by default, there is no password to connect to your AirStash so you may want to include a password if you want to control access to your content.

This will be a fun device for me to have on me when I visit family and friends so I can take my recent vacation photos with me. Sure, the easy way is to post them online and e-mail blast the link. I'm a little geekier than that and I will really enjoy making the ones I love connect to my AirStash. My parents each have their own iPad so they will be able to flip through my photos at their own pace.

If you haven't run out of space on your iPhone, you may have a hard time understanding what need this product serves. But if you have, the AirStash is pretty cool. And when Maxell partners with a development company for an official AirStash Android App, I will be even happier with it.

'Tis the Season

December 8th, 2011

For many people, late November/early December signifies the opening of Eggnog Season. Eggnog Season is simply the time of year where it is socially acceptable to drink eggnog. Wikipedia tells us that eggnog is, "a sweetened dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, beaten eggs (which gives it a frothy texture), and liquor" (a popular recipe from The Food Network's Alton Brown is here).

I'm not sure that I have ever ingested more than a sip or two of eggnog over my many Eggnog Seasons, so I am not the resident expert. But the mere mention of this "frothy" holiday drink causes this scene (which is only referenced briefly in this trailer) from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to play in my head. To me, this is one of the most iconic Christmas movies.

As I sat and pondered eggnog recently (I'm not ashamed to admit it) I wondered why no one sells those wonderful moose-shaped mugs that are featured in that scene from the movie, the mugs from which they drink their eggnog. As luck would have it, they are actually available to buy. It would appear that you can get them relatively expensively from Amazon or a little more affordably from a company called Melk Mugs.

This is probably a useless piece of movie-related holiday merchandise, and I have no room for these mugs in my home, but I am thrilled to know that they are for sale.

For the record, this is the most useless piece of movie-related holiday merchandise.

Logitech Harmony 700 Rechargeable Remote with Color Screen

November 17th, 2011

I am, generally speaking, a bit of a Logitech crony. That comes from different things that I have purchased over the years with which I have been consistently pleased if not elated. Of the different Logitech universal remotes, the Harmony 700 seemed the best fit for me from a mix of cost and function. I did not need a charging cradle into which to place my remote when the batteries were low. I did not need a touch screen at the top (which seems to me to be a strange feature on a remote to begin with). The 700 is more simple in its design and function than the higher-end remotes that Logitech offers.

The setup is a breeze. All I had to do was connect my remote to my computer and browse to www.logitech.com/harmony and enter the model numbers for my devices. Then I was able to set up my shortcuts to Watch TV and Watch a Movie (where the command turns on the hardware I need and turns off the hardware I do not need), which is a nice feature. Consider this an "all on" button for the activity you desire comparable to the "all off" button that every universal remote has.

One small side note to anyone who uses the number pad to type alpha characters - I only use it to search Youtube videos through my DVD player - this remote does not seem to type spaces (and I believe I've tried every button on the remote). You will still need to grab your DVD remote when you are trying to show your friends hilarious videos on your TV.

My life is easier and my side table is less cluttered with remote controls.

I am a happy consumer.

Amazon

August 19th, 2011
Donations this year: 3
Donations lifetime: 9

June 24th, 2011
Donations this year: 2
Donations lifetime: 8

Marlowe June

April 26th, 2011

Little Marlowe,

Welcome to the family! We are an eclectic bunch, but a loving one. I can't wait to shake your adorable little hand and kiss your adorable little face.

-Your tallest uncle.

January 21st, 2011
Donations this year: 1
Donations lifetime: 7

December 28th, 2009
Donations this year: 4
Donations lifetime: 4

Excuse me, Miss...

July 23rd, 2009

...what an intoxicating fragrance you are wearing. Is that Skeletor? Perhaps Man-at-Arms?

I passed a woman in the hallway at work today who smelled of that old plastic/rubber smell of the Mattel action figures I played with as a kid.

Don't you get it!? She smelled like He-Man!

I feel a little badly because she probably paid a lot of money for a designer fragrance that she could duplicate for $0.25 at a garage sale. Did I get you to picture someone primping before going out and as she heads out the door she grabs the Ram-Man action figure she got on eBay and rubs it behind her ears?

How about now?

I refuse to consider that she was just working with something that smelled of stale plastic and was on her way to the restroom to wash it off her hands. It's better this way. And boy does that scent take me back to the basement of my parents' house... Good times.