Holiday Gift Idea II: Power To Your People!

Hey, here’s a semi-geeky gift that they’re sure to get a charge out of…a high-current  USB charger built into a common household receptacle. You may recall that I installed a couple of the FastMac USockets some time ago. There’s one at each of our night-stands, conveniently providing power to charge phones and tablets as we sleep.

At the time these things were comparatively rare so I ordered them directly from FastMac. Given my past history in construction and renovation I was able to install these myself. However, the fitting the USocket into the outlet box wasn’t the easiest thing to do. The USockets depth made it difficult to fit the wiring back into the box. I ended up replacing the box with a deeper one in the end.

While on a visit to our local Lowe’s I recently found that they have a similar product made by Cooper. These sell for around $20 and may be more conveniently available to you.

Like the USockets, they replace the existing outlet so you’re going to need to have some facility with tools in order to get them installed. They come in the Decora style so you may need a new cover plate. I see that Amazon has them In several colors, too.

If you’re not so handy with tools around electricity you might consider this alternative from RCA , also found at Lowe’s. For only $15 this one features quick, tool-less installation. It’s designed to plug directly into the existing outlet. Once installed the device sticks out about 1/2” from the wall.

Unlike older USB chargers, all three of these devices provide enough current to satisfy a tablet or high-end smart phone.

I like the fact that these device can’t go missing simply because someone needs to charge something else at the other end of the house. I especially like the fact that I no longer need outlet strips everywhere to accommodate all the chargers.

Holiday Gift Idea: Jabra SPEAK 410 USB Speakerphone

Jabra SPEAK 410 USB SpeakerphoneOk, you’re here, so that makes you something of a geek. Perhaps you have another telephony geek in your life, or your family are asking for a Christmas list. Whatever the case, a good USB speakerphone is really handy and makes nice present.

I’ve used a number of these things over the years. For the past few months I’ve had a Jabra SPEAK 410 on the corner of my desk.

Little round-and-loud has proven to be a solid performer. I’ve used it to participate in Google Hangouts, with Skype and GotoMeeting as well as various SIP soft phones. You might have seen me show it in a recent VUC call with Logitech. Whatever the client software, in every case it worked well. It sounds great to my ear and conveys my voice clearly to the far end.

The microphone is omni-directional, effective to about one yard. That makes the SPEAK 410 ideal for desk use, even if you have a person on either side of the desk.

Continue reading “Holiday Gift Idea: Jabra SPEAK 410 USB Speakerphone”

My First Tweet-Up & The Plantronics Voyager Legend

Twitter-Bird-Voyager-LegendThis past week I’ve been travelling with a new Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth headset. This is the fourth headset in the Voyager range that I’ve used. You may recall that not so long ago I bought a Voyager Pro HD. That headset has been completely satisfactory. I was not intending to purchase a replacement. So it is that I’ll start by describing how I came to have this little beasty, which is a bit of a curious story and the tale of my first Tweet-Up, aka Twitter Party.

Back in October my wife took a business trip to Anaheim CA for a few days. This was something of a turning of the tables for I am the frequent business traveller in the family. She rarely travels on business.

It was decided (i.e. I was told) that since she had to be away I would need to be taking care of things at home that week. I found myself tending the homestead without some of the normal distractions of our daily life. I had some extra time to tinker for a few evenings.

Continue reading “My First Tweet-Up & The Plantronics Voyager Legend”

Blogging From The Nexus7

Nexus7Not long ago I read a post by a blogger who had made the effort to give up his laptop for the day. While attending a conference he left his laptop in his hotel room intent upon using only his Nexus 7 tablet throughout that day. I thought it an interesting experiment.

The tale of his day highlighted a few worthy accessories for the Nexus 7 tablet. He pointed to a premium stylus and a Bluetooth wireless keyboard as key to his productivity. I was impressed by his logic and the tale of his experience that day. So much so that I ordered those same items so that I might try them for myself.

At this very moment I’m typing on the Logitech Keyboard for Android , wirelessly connected to my Nexus 7. Just as he described the case for the keyboard doubles as a stand for the tablet. It’s handy. To use it properly really requires a table, but it’s working on my lap at the moment.

Continue reading “Blogging From The Nexus7”

Musing About Logitech’s Squeezebox, Squeezebox For Android, Pandora & Tivo

Squeezebox-TivoHD-SB-For-AndroidAround the house and office we use Logitech’s recently defunct Squeezebox music players. We have several of these, a mix of the Squeezebox 3 and Squeezebox Touch models.

There’s an Android app that provides remote control of these little players. I’ve had it loaded for as long as I’ve had an Android phone. However, it’s never worked for me. At least it didn’t until the past weekend.

Being something of a traditionalist I have historically fed the Squeezebox herd from a small media server or NAS on my network. Only occasionally would I point them to online sources like Radio Paradise, KPFT or KUHF.

This past weekend I started to play with Pandora. The Squeezeboxes can access a Pandora account and thereby stream decent quality music from an online source. Pandora’s paid service provides 192 kbps streams without advertising. That makes the $36/yr paid service seem quite attractive.

Millions of people already use Pandora. I accept that I’m late to that party.

Continue reading “Musing About Logitech’s Squeezebox, Squeezebox For Android, Pandora & Tivo”

Erik Lagerway Interviews Alan B. Johnston On WebRTC

WebRTC is certainly a hot topic in some circles and definitely something to watch. Recently Erik Lagerway of Hookflash interviewed Alan Johnston of Avaya on the matter. They both share a lot of enthusiasm for WebRTC and the potential that it represents.

Mr. Johnston has written a book on WebRTC, which is mentioned on his blog. He’s giving away 10 copies. You have until the end of the day to get yourself entered via Good Reads.

Thanks to Chris Mathieu for pointing this out via Twitter.