The Gadgets Page

July 28, 2012

The Apple Genius: A Calm Voice In An Electronic Storm

Filed under: Computers and Peripherals — Laura Moncur @ 12:54 pm

I absolutely adore these new commercials from Apple, highlighting their Apple Geniuses. They really show how an Apple Genius can be a calm voice in an electronic storm.

Videos via: Apples new Mac ads feature a helpful Genius | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

July 24, 2012

How To Make Solar Tiki Torches

Filed under: Green Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 12:01 pm

I really liked these solar tiki torches in this planter that I found on Pinterest:

Solar Tiki Torch Planter from The Gadgets Page

The problem is that when I looked at the cost for solar tiki torches, they were WAY too much money! The best price I found was $50 for a four pack, making them $12.50 each: Adamax TIKILED4 Solar Flickering Tiki Torches, 4-Pack at Amazon.com

Adamax TIKILED4 Solar Flickering Tiki Torches, 4-Pack at Amazon.com

It’s WAY cheaper to buy old school tiki torches like this 12 pack for only $33: Set of 12 Bamboo Tiki-Style Torches at Amazon.com

Set of 12 Bamboo Tiki-Style Torches at Amazon.com

Remove the oil canisters in them and replace them with these inexpensive solar lights that are only $21 for an 8 pack: Garden Creations JB5629 Solar-Powered LED Accent Light, Set of 8 at Amazon.com

Garden Creations JB5629 Solar-Powered LED Accent Light, Set of 8 at Amazon.com

For less than $5.50 each, you can have solar tiki lights lighting up your backyard.

July 10, 2012

Nintendo 3DS is Better Than Expectations

Filed under: Toys and Games — Ian @ 6:21 am

Nintendo 3DS - Flame Red at Amazon.comThe main reason I bought a Nintendo 3DS handheld console was because of all the new games coming out that wouldn’t have been able to play on my DS Lite, and I am really glad I did. I waited to buy one because I didn’t really think that 3D brought much to the table in terms of new games, but I have been really impressed with it.

With some games I have played the 3D inhibits some parts of the gameplay. In Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time at some points you must turn the 3DS to see something in the environment. If you have the 3D on and don’t move your head perfectly with the DS it is very hard to see. Even though you can see the 3D without 3D glasses, there is one problem with it. It only works from right in front of you and about 14 inches from your eyes, so it’s hard to show others what you’re doing. That isn’t a major problem, because you can turn off the 3D at any time. In some other games you occasionally forget the 3D is there at all, but in some things the 3D is used perfectly.

The built-in software shows the best use of the 3D I have seen so far. AR (augmented reality) games lets you fight dragons on your counter, using a card to tell how large to make the objects. The card is also used as a frame of reference so you can walk around the card and the environment moves with it. Archery, fishing, and AR shot are the three types of games on it, and each one is fun and different.

The 3DS has 2 cameras to let you take 3D photos. This is really cool because you can edit them and mess with the 3D in them. This lets you make some really trippy pictures.

The 3D, though sometimes not used to its full potential, is really cool and adds to gameplay. It already comes with enough stuff on it to entertain me for a few days, and if you’re in the market for a new console the 3DS might be for you.

July 9, 2012

How To Make a Hanging Solar Light

Filed under: Green Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 4:00 pm

Solar Light Glamping

Update 12-15-14

I have a few of these on sale on eBay right now. You can see them here:


Nature Power Umbrella LightsI saw these Solar powered umbrella lights on Amazon and immediately loved them so much that I wrote an entry about them on Starling Travel.

My biggest problem with them was the COST. They seemed VERY expensive for only four lights when I can get solar lights at Home Depot for only two bucks apiece. So, I decided to create my own.

How to Make Hanging Solar Lights from The Gadgets PageI used parts I found at Home Depot, but here are some links to parts you can buy on Amazon that are similarly priced.

Parts

Tools

  • Wire cutter
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Drill with a small drill bit
  • Hot glue gun (and glue)
  • Screwdriver

Here is a video showing you how to make a hanging solar light.

If you take just a few minutes, you can have expensive looking solar lights to hang off your backyard umbrella.

Update 07-10-12: I took some photos of them at night after they had a day to charge up and they look spectacular.

How to Make Hanging Solar Lights from The Gadgets Page

How to Make Hanging Solar Lights from The Gadgets Page

Update 07-24-12: If you live in a place that regularly experiences heavy winds (40 mph or more), these hanging lights will NOT work for you. After a wind storm last Sunday, I lost four out of the eight lamps that were hanging on my umbrella. The wind either broke them or took them away completely.

Solar Light Candelabra from The Gadgets Page

I decided to repurpose them into a candelabra instead. I brought out the old candlestick holder, put some electrical tape around the base of each lamp and tucked them into the spots where candles go.

Solar Light Candelabra from The Gadgets Page

They look good and the candelabra is MUCH more stable in the wind.

Solar Light Candelabra from The Gadgets Page

If you don’t regularly experience hurricane force winds, then you’ll probably be okay with hanging solar lights. For those of us who live in a windy area, however, they just don’t work.

Update 09-13-13

This summer, I took all those solar lights and tried again with heavier wire (18 gauge). Not only did they last all summer long through heavy wind storms, they look better than they did before.

Homemade Solar Umbrella Lights from The Gadgets Page

Homemade Solar Umbrella Lights from The Gadgets Page

For these, I used 18 gauge green floral wire:

Additionally, I was able to secure the candelabra from the wind as well. I took two cord organizers that were left over from a wiring project on my camper.

Solar Candelabra held to the table with cord organizers from Gadgets Page

Solar Candelabra held to the table with cord organizers from Gadgets Page

These have worked great and I haven’t had the candelabra fall since I secured it, but I think it might have been a bit overkill. They probably would have stayed secure with these products without permanently affixing the candelabra to the table.

July 6, 2012

Giving Yurbuds a Second Chance

Filed under: Audio and Video — Ian @ 10:00 am

One of the nice things about working at Gadgets Page is getting to try products that other people didn’t like. Yurbuds are earbuds designed to stay in while you’re exercising. Like many earbuds Yurbuds has mixed reviews and I think this is the cause; Yurbuds, because they are designed like custom earbuds, may not fit a certain type of ear. Like many products that come in multiple sizes they may not fit everyone. This is much more apparent in a product like shoes. Nothing made in bulk can be perfect. These just fit a lot more people than some others do like the apple earbuds.

Personally the Yurbuds fit me quite well and are much more comfortable than anything else I’ve tried. They stay in my ear and they don’t hurt after a short period of time of wearing them. I like them and find them much nicer than headphones and other earbuds.

Yurbuds are quite expensive though. The ones I have sell for about 35$ or 40$ on Amazon. Thats the same as a few cheaper pairs of earbuds, but whether or not its worth it is up to you.

Yurbuds V10-11ID-10601 Inspire PRO Earphones at Amazon.com Looking at other reviews I noticed that reviews almost alternated in saying “The sound is amazing” and “The sound is horrific.” Though the truth of the matter is that the sound doesn’t really matter much while you’re exercising.

One thing that bothers me about them is I can’t get the covers to stay on the earbuds it came with. When I put them in my pocket for a while the covers almost always fall off. Its only a minor annoyance, but still.

In my experience with them I have found that they work as advertised for me, but that doesn’t mean that they work perfectly for everyone. I like them and they work for me, and I think that you should give them a shot.

July 5, 2012

Orla Reynolds Designs A Bookcase That Stores Table and Chairs

Filed under: Kitchen Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 11:47 am

Orla Reynolds created this design for a bookcase that hides a table and chairs within it.

Orla Reynolds Hidden Bookcase Furniture

You can choose whether you want to seat two or four based on how large a bookcase you select.

Orla Reynolds Hidden Bookcase Furniture

You can also arrange the bookcases differently to create a sitting nook. Watch the video for more ideas.

In tight apartments and tiny houses, furniture that pulls double duty like this is a necessity. What I’d love is a way to hack Ikea furniture to interlock in this method. Maybe using Expedits and some of their Herman chairs…

Via: As If From Nowhere: Bookcase Conceals 2 Tables, 4 Chairs | Designs & Ideas on Dornob

July 3, 2012

Eco-Amp: If They Really Cared About The Environment

Filed under: Green Gadgets,PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 8:58 am

Eco-Amp is an eight dollar piece of recycled cardboard that amplifies audio on your iPhone. Watch this video to see how it works.

The problem that I have with this product is that if they REALLY cared about the environment, they would have a template that you could download and print up on your used cereal boxes. THAT would really be an environmentally sound product. EVEN if they charged a couple of dollars for the template download, I would believe that they really cared, but since their only option is to pay them eight bucks for their recycled cardboard, I’m not buying their “green.”

In fact, here is a video of someone who has designed his own.

iPhone amplifier (Cardboard, do it yourself) from Alexei Konovalov on Vimeo.

Here is a bunch of free DIY iPhone amp techniques and their registered decibel levels:

I’m sure you could design something very similar to the Eco-Amp by cutting out your own cereal box. I urge all of you to do that instead of shelling out money and paying a mail truck to spew fumes and deliver an Eco-Amp to your doorstep.

Via Eco-Amp: environmentally smug sound | TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Update 08-21-12

After thinking about this for a while, I realized that a screen shot from the video might be good enough if printed at the right size.

Click for full sized Eco Amp Screen Shot

When I printed this image at 93% on card stock, I was able to recreate the Eco-Amp.

Eco Amp Template from Starling Fitness

The disappointing thing, however, is that it doesn’t really WORK. I didn’t notice much amplification at all from this little piece of cardboard and I’m wondering if the original would do any better. The audio from the video sounds as if it was electronically made louder, so even that demonstration is suspect.

I filmed the lack of difference in sound here:

Sure, you can print up your own Eco-Amp, but the difference in sound was so minuscule that it’s hardly worth your bother.

June 27, 2012

XDModo Solar Charger: How Much Is Green Worth?

Filed under: Green Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 8:50 am

XDModo Window Solar ChargerThis photograph of the XDModo Window Solar Charger makes it look like a beautiful way to charge your phone using the power of the sun. When I read the review, however, it sounded like a colossal pain in the butt:

I guess I’m lucky that I now live in a part of the world blessed with long sunny days that are perfect for juicing up the battery on my solar device charger. I do have to keep getting up and moving it, though, so that the panels don’t fall into the shadows cast by furniture in the room or even the window frames themselves, and reducing its efficiency. Propping the charger up against the glass is one way to ensure maximum exposure to those energy-giving rays, but XDModo has a much slicker solution. Users can stick the 0.68-inch thick Window solar charger to the inside of a glass window with the photovoltaic panels facing out and then feed off a charging cable to a portable device positioned in the cooling shade.

When I read this review, I realized that there isn’t a window in my house that would work well with this charger. The windows of my house face AWAY from the sun to keep out the heat.

When I saw how much it cost to buy one ($69), I was shocked. A normal iPhone charger can cost as low as five bucks at the local gas station. That’s a HUGE markup, just for the window cling solar solution.

XTG Technology Premium Solar Charger at Amazon.comIf you really like this idea, buy the XTG Technology Premium Solar Charger for less than HALF the cost of the XDModo and they’ll throw in suction cups to attach it to a window.

Green products are great, but make sure you’re not paying extra for them.

Via: Lynsey Zahn on Pinterest: This is awesome & or I want that / window sticky solar chargers

June 21, 2012

DecalGirl Skins: Second Verse Same As The First

Filed under: eBook Readers and Peripherals,Laptops,PDAs and Phones,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Decalgirl Skin from The Gadgets PageBack in March 2009, I wrote a review for DecalGirl Skins. You can see it here:

Because I had written a review, I was surprised when DecalGirl contacted me and asked if I wanted some free samples to do another one. I gladly agreed and waited for the skins I had selected to arrive in the mail.

I dug out my old gadgets that were still adorned with DecalGirls skins. My Acer Netbook computer was being stored in a box of outdated gadgets. Here’s a current picture of it: (Continue Reading…)

June 14, 2012

The Sudden Gamer Girl Animosity

Filed under: Toys and Games — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

Felcia Day and Jason Charles Miller created a music video called Gamer Girl, Country Boy. I thought it was adorable and immediately gave it a thumbs up and thought that I should write about it here.

Before, I could, however, poor Felcia suffered a massive attack of trolls. She talked about it on her blog: Felicia Day » Blog Archive » Gamer Girl/Country Boy/Flame Fest

SOOO I guess some unnamed internet sites got wind and thought it would be cool to troll and basically flood the video with the nastiest comments ever. After a day of really hurt feelings (I have never had something THIS bad, so I’ve been lucky on the internet for YEARS!), I backed up and tried to figure out WHY it sparked so much hatred? I mean, sure, it’s low-fi, yes my eyeshadow is TERRIBLE (bad choice yeah), BUT I finally figured it out, I THINK. In all my years of championing gaming, I have ALWAYS avoided the title “Gamer Girl”. I always just said I’m a gamer, and left the gender unsaid. I don’t mean to disparage anyone who uses that title, to me, you change minds by being who you are, representing, and not pointing out you’re different from anyone else. That was just always my unconscious choice, to avoid that. But for THIS video in particular, I decided to portray a few stereotypical characters, I PLAYED a “Gamer Girl” and Jason Charles Miller PLAYED a “Country Boy”. WE WERE PLAYING CHARACTERS. But that didn’t really come across to some people, and I guess that gave them an IN to attack me, or attack the IDEA of “Gamer Girl” in that video. And the attack…thousands of Ouch.

It’s very strange, because two years ago, no one from that unnamed site attacked the G33K and G4M3R Girls Anthem Featuring Seth Green video, even though it was OBVIOUS that those girls weren’t gamers and were just hired to play the part.


Geek and Gamer Girls Song

That video went by without a Flame Fest, so why the sudden animosity? Why has the concept of the Gamer Girl turned from a cool thing to a hated stereotype that gamers want to frag instead of f**k?

I blame it all on COMPANIES like Frag Dolls. (Continue Reading…)

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