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An Apple “Beta” Is Exactly That, A Beta! (20+ Tips & Advice When Using iOS & macOS Betas)

In Apple, Fix It, General, How To, HTD Tech Tip, iOS, Opinion, Software, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

As you probably have heard, this week, at the Apple WWDC 2017, there were announcements surrounding the latest and greatest bright and shiny things coming from Apple. From hardware to software to new services, Apple once again got everybody excited about what is to come in the next few months. And, if you have an Apple Developer account (or not), you now have access to the latest developer beta releases of MacOS (10.13 – “High Sierra”), iOS (iOS 11), WatchOS (WatchOS 4), and AppleTV OS (tvOS 11). I, much like many others, was excited to hear about some of the new and updated features of these various OS’s, so much so, that we quickly signed into our Apple Developer accounts to download and install these latest betas. And, while I cannot discuss these features that I experience in the betas (unlike other publications which seem to ignore the terms of the Apple Developer agreements), I do believe I can report on what I have seen others experience and my general impressions and recommendations when working with ANY type of beta software. So, I decided to write this article on tips, warnings, and advice when working with beta software. Note, this is specific to the recent Apple betas (iOS 11 and High Sierra).

Apple beta iOS 11 & macOS 10.13 tips and tricks - downloads

Let me first start out by emphasizing that in order to install any of these Betas, you must have an Apple Developer account. These are not expensive. For Individuals, it is $99 per year and for Enterprises, it’s $299. Remember, these are account primarily for App developers. (I signed up so that I could get a headstart on articles prior to these OS’s being released – it’s helpful for me to understand potential confusion or concerns prior to others, I believe.) Regardless, I hold off on writing about features and functions until there is at least a Public Beta.

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The Gift of Sound for Grads, Dads, or Anyone – Review of ARCHEER A225 Bluetooth Speaker

In Audio, Consumer Electronics, General, Hardware, Review, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Everybody loves listening to music. Smartphones, computers, and other devices provide an easy means to play just about any type of audio (music or spoken) at practically any time, from local playback or streaming. But playback quality is something that many people don’t think about. Smartphone or computer speakers are usually not as good as 3rd party solutions, specific to audio playback. So, it is only logical to give the gift of quality sound to those who deserve it, whether they are loved ones, grads, dads, or even you. One device to add to your shortlist is the ARCHEER A225 Bluetooth Speaker. While I will go into some more details below, I found this nicely-priced, portable speaker to produce high-quality audio playback in a small form factor that is extremely easy to use.

ARCHEER A225 Review - speaker

The ARCHEER A225 Bluetooth speaker checks off quick a few capabilities that I would look for in a portable speaker. Specifically:Read More

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Getting Rid of Annoying Flying Pests Outside with Dynatrap – Review

In Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

I have long had a belief that human’s Hell is also bugs’ Heaven. Not all insects, mind you. Just the one that really, really annoy or scare us. Wasps and mosquitoes are at the top of my list. In fact, my kids are petrified of wasps (I’m still teaching them that bees are ok and necessary for human survival but that is another story.) Spiders are sort of in that purgatory state – good for some things like capturing and eating those bad pests, but bad in other ways, especially spider bites. Let’s just talk about those bad flying bugs that plague my backyard – mosquitoes, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and moths. I’ve been looking for a solution to battle those guys for a long time and I’m not really a huge fan of covering my family’s bodies with bug repellent each and every time that they went out in the backyard. And, since we have a pool, that repellent washes off every time my family goes for a dip. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a device that would attract, capture, and kill those bad pests? Well, there is, and I’m reviewing it here. It’s called the Dynatrap DT2000XL.

Dynatrap Review - in the box

According to the product documentation, the Dynatrap DT2000XL boasts of some quite compelling features. And, you have to keep in mind, there are a lot of different types of bug-extermination solutions out there. We all know about bug zappers. These have lights that attract bugs and when they come in contact with some electrified grills, they are instantly zapped by electricity. But with those, you are left with a pile of dead bugs on the ground and you have to endure that constant zapping noise (so much for a tranquil evening). There are also propane-powered solutions that create CO2 which mosquitoes are attracted to and then they are killed in similar ways, most likely by dehydration (like the Dynatrap). And, of course, you can have your yard fogged which kills off bugs with insecticide, but for me, I would rather not introduce more chemicals into the air. It may harm other helpful insects as well. So, I circle back to the Dynatrap and the features.Read More

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A Real-World Pixie That Helps You Find Your Stuff – Pixie Point Review

In Apple, Case, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Review, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Believe it or not, Pixies and Pixie dust actually do exist. If you have lost or misplaced something, these magical little things will help you find it. I’m not talking about tiny creatures of Peter Pan, but rather the modern, digital equivalent. Pixie Points are these magical little helpers that when active can find that remote, set of keys, smartphone, wallet, purse, or even a pet when you have lost it. Through the use of a Bluetooth mesh network, a sophisticated location engine, and an augmented reality app, finding lost items nearby almost becomes a fun little adventure. And losing things is something that we humans are good at (and Pixie Point equally as good at reversing).

Pixie Bluetooth location system - Pixie Points and cases

In their “Lost & Found” survey conducted by Pixie, there were some stats that really grabbed me:Read More

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April Showers Bring May Allergies – Blueair Air View Brings Air Insights

In Consumer Electronics, Family, Gadgets, General, Hardware, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

It’s May, and if you are like me or anyone in my family (including my dog), you are probably suffering from itchy eyes, stuffed noses, and scratchy throats. Yep, it is allergy season and here in California because of the heavy rains we had over the winter, things are blooming. A LOT! And that means there are lots of particles in the air causing issues with people’s sinuses. I don’t think that it’s coincidental that May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Allergies and asthma aren’t just about pollen though obviously, but particulate matter does play a big role in it. Understanding what is in the air inside and outside is important in controlling asthma and allergies. And now there are ways to get insights into the air in and around your home. Blueair recently launched a free service called Air View which lets you visually understand the pollutants in the air in your neighborhood, and it easily complements their indoor air monitoring and purifying solutions as well.

Blueair - Air View splash

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), there is currently no cure for asthma or allergies. That means, there is only awareness and prevention that can reduce the risks to sufferers. And while some allergies are seasonal with pollen from grasses, trees, and flowers, other allergies like from foods, are year-round. Trust me, it’s always a concern for my family as my youngest daughter has peanut allergies.

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How to Assess Your Home for a Solar Panel Upgrade – PG&E Renewable Energy Tools

In General, How To, HTD Tech Tip, Sponsored, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Just the other day, I was up on my roof cleaning the gutters. We had just had a break in the crazy rain that has been pounding California. It was actually quite sunny out and as I was breaking out in a sweat in the direct sun, I actually started thinking about how good my house would be for a solar panel install. It receives quite a lot of sun throughout the day, free from trees and shadows, and there actually seems to be a lot of square footage that could be used for solar paneling. I knew a bit about solar paneling from previous research. For example, the higher your current electrical bill, the larger your roof’s solar array needs to be. But, if you reduce your monthly electrical consumption, you then can actually reduce the size of your solar installation. Not sure how to reduce you solar bill? My previous (sponsored) article about Pacific Gas & Electric’s personalized tools discusses different ways PG&E customers can both reduce energy consumption as well as discover potentially better electrical rate plans to save money. Well guess what? PG&E also has some tips and tools (particularly the PG&E Solar Calculator) which can give you some great advice and insights into solar panels, the costs, the benefits, and other helpful resources.

PG&E Renewable Energy Tools & Solar Panel info - get started

The sun is a huge, untapped resource of potentially limitless energy that is non-destructive to the environment and the technology of solar panels is improving each year, making it an extremely viable option for consumers to power their homes. But, to find out the best options for solar paneling at your home requires some extensive research. Should you lease? Should you own? How big of a solar panel array do you need? How much of an impact on your electrical bill is there with or without solar energy? How quickly will your investment pay off? What energy incentives are available should you want to install solar power on your home?

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6 Tips to a More Enjoyable & Energy-Efficient Swimming Pool

In Fix It, General, Hardware, How To, HTD Tech Tip, Technology by Michael SheehanLeave a Comment

Last year, I wrote about a Polaris Pool Sweep that for the past few months has been doing an incredible job getting all of the leaves and debris off of the bottom of my swimming pool automagically. My kids were no longer scared by dark objects like leaves hugging the bottom. Consequently, they started using the swimming pool a bit more, but not to the level I thought they should be. But while my pool has been glistening clean, I have become aware of some other issues.

While the pool sweep was keeping my pool clean, I learned that using old and outdated equipment can be costly…Big time! And not just in terms of money, but also in time spent on a variety of maintenance and usage activities that I have been doing manually. For starters, as I have been beginning to pay closer attention to my home’s energy consumption, I realize my swimming pool currently is not very energy efficient. Also, I only have some manual controls of when the pumps turn on and off.

And I know that I’m not alone here. There are plenty of swimming pool owners with old equipment that are probably not getting the true benefits and enjoyment that they really should be. Let me explain.

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