A Good Cubicle Mirror

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It seems to be human nature that most of us are uncomfortable with our backs to entrances. I’m certainly one of those folks. I’ll assure any readers that I’m not up to anything unsual in my office ,but I don’t care to have folks sneak up on me from behind. I’m not going to jump at anyone that does, but it might be startling for myself if I’m focused on a project and not aware that someone has entered my office. My current office arrangement has my back to the cubicle entrance, so I opted to purchase a small mirror, so I could place it where I could easily see people coming up from behind while I’m looking at my monitor.

As usual, I performed “extensive research” by reading several reviews on Amazon until I found a product that seemed to fit my needs, which was the Ampper Clip On Security Mirror. The mirror clips on easily, and well, and only costs about $12. It provides a good field of view and the clip, along with the flexible neck, made it easy to position well.

It’s another low-tech device that works well.

R4 Gold Pro Revolution for 3DS

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Well, I’m thinking that I might have lucked out by being able to purchase this item from Amazon. I was actually surprised that it was available to order as it is usually difficult to purchase mod chips and related hardware from commercial retailers in the U.S. Yet, I did actually receive an R4 Gold Pro Revolution.

The cartridge enables a 3DS (and other systems such as the DSi) to run homebrew software. It’s easy to use, though it requires a micro SD card in order to function and some software that must be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website. The cartridge gets around the typical mod restrictions by simply presenting itself as a valid game to the system.

On the DSi I was able to run some Nintendo Entertainment Emulators (NES). The 3DS is capable of running several others including a Super NES emulator.

Overall, I think this is a very cool upgrade for the 3DS.

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Reusable Coffee Filters for Keurig

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If you’re shopping for some reusbable coffee filters for a Keurig (1.0 and 2.0 brewers according to the product page) then the 6-Pack Reusable Gold Plated Mesh Coffee Filters that I purchased from iParsPlusMore (via Amazon) may work well for you. The six pack was only about $10. We’ve used them several times, and haven’t had any problems with them, yet. They’re rather simple devices.

Sometimes I just want to use regular coffee grounds for a cup of coffee.

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First Impression: Amazon Fire TV Stick

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My wife and I decided to pre-order an Amazon Fire TV Stick for her parents, which we gave to them for Christmas. While visiting with them I had the opportunity to setup the device and use it for an extended period. Overall, I’m impressed. The cost is relatively low, performance and stability seemed good (at least during the time I was using it) and the interface was easy to use.

We were both impressed enough that we decided to order one for ourselves, though they’re currently on back-order so it may not be until the end of January before ours ships to us. I was able to pre-order the Stick for my in-laws for $19, but it regularly retails for only $39.

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5-Port USB Wall Charger (EasyAcc)

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Having accumulated several devices that charge via USB, sometimes I don’t have enough USB block plugs on hand (and other times I’m just tired of digging around to find the adapters) to charge everything up at once. Last week I purchased a couple of 5-port USB wall chargers (EasyAcc) from Amazon for less than $20 each, which have helped make this minor inconvenience less of an issue.

This particular model isn’t something I plan to move around frequently. Instead I have located them in key spots where they’ll remain most of the time. One is at my office and the other is in our guest room.

So far they seem to work well and they’re about as simple as expected (and needed). There is one thing of note that interested purchasers may need to be aware of. The USB ports do not all provide the same level of output, though it’s clearly marked on the device how much power each port provides and it’s unlikely to be an issue for most people.

  • USB1 5V/2.1A (iPad)
  • USB2 5V/1.3A (Samsung Tab)
  • USB3 5V/2.1A (iPad)
  • USB4 5V/1A (iPhone)
  • USB5 5V/1A (Android)

Using a Philips VOIP 080 Skyp VOIP Travel Phone (VOIP0801B/37) with a Mac (Mountain Lion)

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The Short Version: The Philips VOIP0801B/37 Skype Phone is not fully compatible with Skype and Mountain Lion. The microphone and speaker work fine but the keypad does not.

I’ve had a Skype account for some time though I’ve never used it very often. In general, it serves as little more than a backup calling system. I’ve been thinking about using the service more often at home so I decided to try to find an inexpensive device that would serve as a dedicated Skype phone.

Earlier this week I received a Philips VOIP 080 Skype VOIP Travel Phone (VOIP0801B/37) that I purchased from Amazon for about $30. Unfortunately, I should have read several of the reviews more closely when trying to determine whether or not this would actually work with my Mac (10.8 Mountain Lion).

It partially works. The Mac recognizes the device connected via USB and the Skype software can be configured to use the microphone and speaker. However, the keypad appears to be useless. Dialing, etc has to be done from the Mac.

Before I purchased this I was well aware that Macs were not officially supported but I had the impression it would actually work. Perhaps I’ll stumble upon some trick to get the keypad working with the Mac but for now I’m stuck with a device that doesn’t work as I had hoped because I didn’t research it adequately.

Updated 07/06/2014: In the end I was never able to use it as I had intended. It’s now in our collection of yard sale items.

Case Star Clamshell Earbud Case

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Tangled earbud wires is a frustration you’ve probably dealt with many times. I was always surprised at how easily small wires would become tangled around other things in my backpack. One of the ways I dealt with this was to store them in an empty prescription bottle. This method worked very well but it did draw the odd question or stare once in a while.

To avoid these relatively minor issues I ordered a couple of Case Star Clamshell Earbud Cases from Amazon, which only cost about $7 each. I don’t have any complaints – they serve their intended functions quite well.

Updated 07/06/2014: There isn’t much to state about these other than the fact that they’ve held up just fine and they’ve also helped preserve the condition of my earbuds.