It has been a while now, so I decided to update the page with video, new photos, and a different style of format. Take a look if you are curious about my office setup.
Many of the people that frequent this site probably found it when the "Mac Attack" page with my office setup was featured on sites like Lifehacker and Apartment Therapy. As a result, I didn't want to make many changes in case people were using it as a reference.
It has been a while now, so I decided to update the page with video, new photos, and a different style of format. Take a look if you are curious about my office setup.
1. Rdio - I have made it no secret that this is my favorite music service at the moment. I have tried most of the services and Spotify is the only service that comes close. However, Rdio has better search features, a better user interface, better artist radio features, and better discovery features..in my opinion. It also works perfectly with Bluetooth in my car and Spotify doesn't.
2. Evernote - I use the free version of this app and it currently works perfect for my needs. I'm am writing this post in Evernote on the iPad so that I can access it from my computer later. It is great for lists and for web clippings.
3. Pocket - I use this in conjunction with Evernote. It contains every article that I clip from the web and the articles I want to keep get exported to Evernote. While they are two separate programs, I always use them together.
4. Crashplan - I have the family version that allows you to backup several computers, but there is also a free version. The family plan costs a bit of money, but it is worth it to have music and photos backed up off site. They have aseed service that you can have them mail you a drive and you can send it back to them with about 1.5 terabytes of data. It would have taken months to back up via the web. Also, if you ever need all your files, they will mail you a drive back for a fee ( around 3.5 terabytes). Of course, you can go with the normal process of just downloading your files, but I like having the option of getting everything back in a couple days rather than rebuilding over months. For just a group of files you want to restore, it is easy just to pull them from the cloud.
5. Lightroom CC - for9.99, I get access to Photoshop and Lightroom. However, Lightroom has a teriffic mobile app that will allow you to share catalogs, rate, and edit photos.
6. IF (if this then that) - this is a web based service that automates tons of features. For example, when I take a photo with my iPhone, it automatically sends that photo to Google Drive. I also have it set to send me the final score of every Grizzly game. It now has "Do apps" that make things even easier. For example, I have a Do Button that will turn off and on a lamp connected to a WeMo. The amount of automation available is almost limitless. Also, somehow the service is free!
7. Flickr - a terabyte of photo storage for free. A huge community of talented photographers and feedback on your photos. It also has integration with Appletv and has a fantastic iPad app.
8. Next issue - a magazine app that has kept me from renewing most of my subscriptions on the Zinio app ( one of my top twenty apps). For ~$10 a month, I have acces to a wide variety of magazines. It has most of the magazines I read and it is one of the reasons I have an iPad. The main downside is that there is not a Mac app. However, they have a fantastic landscape mode that makes it more useful for smaller devices.
9. Paprika - We mainly use Wunderlist to keep track of our main grocery lists. However Paprika is a fantastic meal planner. For example, if you see a recipe on the web, it can usually pull in the recipe and even add it to its own grocery list. If it could export that list to Wunderlist, it would be perfect, but I guess they need to have some room to improve. For what it is, it is fantastic. Be aware that it is available on most platforms, but you pay for the app on each platform rather than paying a monthly fee (which is how some other services pay the bills).
10. Netflix - Not much needs to be said here. It is simply fantastic for movies and TV shows.
The Best of the Rest
I couldn't just stop with a top ten because so many of the service run neck and neck and it makes it hard to say one is that much better than the other when you use them all.
11. Wunderlist - I mentioned it above. It is the way we share the groceries for the week. It is a simple to use list manager. Unlike Evernote, I use this for stuff that will be completed within the week. When we run out of milk (for example), I put it on the grocery list for the week and we simply check it off when we buy it.
12. Vudu - An online movie rental place that will also allow you to upload some of your own DVDs and Blurays to their cloud for a fee (it is typically cheaper if you load 10 movies at a time). It is great for watching movies on the iPad on the go. You can even save movies to the iPad so you can watch them when you are offline.
13. Dropbox - great way to share files and have them available from any device. It is seeing more competition come along every day, but I still find it the easiest and most convenient to use.
14. Lastpass - a great way to have you passwords available from nearly any device. With Touch ID, it is even better than ever. This could have been in my top ten since I use it more often that ALL of my other apps. However, it has a lot of competition with 1Password and Dashlane, so I am not sure if it is still the best option for everyone. However, it works for my needs and it is inexpensive when compared to other services.
15. Zinio - the original magazine service for the iPad. It has a wider range of titles and can be accessed from more platforms than Next Issue, but you have to subscribe to magazines on an individual basis.
16. Amazon Prime - Music, movies, books, free shipping, photo storage, and more. A wide range of features for around $99 a year. If you shop with them very often, it may be the best bargain on this list. It is comprehensive and can replace some of the services on my list if you are willing to live with some of the shortfalls.
17. Lynda.com - learn just about anything for $10 a month.
18. YouTube - I hesitate to call this a service, but it can be. You can learn just as much here as anywhere else. You just might have to wade through some junk along the way.
19. iTunes Match - they were the first to scan your audio library and make a copy on the cloud. The main selling point is that it provides Siri integration and AppleTV integration. However, they have also bundled it with commercial free iTunes Radio.
20. General Google and Apple services - Google Drive, Maps, iBooks, Newstand, iPhoto's, Siri, etc... A lot of features that are integrated so well that you almost forget they are separate services.
Android? I thought you were an Apple Fanboy?
Well, I am not throwing out any Apple products, so don't worry, many people would still consider me an Apple Fanboy. In fact, I think all you need to do to earn that title is to own at least one Apple device and bring up said device on a forum or social media. I have seen that "Fanboy" title thrown around like an unknown wrestler in his first match against a superstar.
Why buy an Android if you have no plans to switch ecosystems?
There are really three reasons:
1. Android devices can be cheap - I paid $79.99 for the Asus 7 Android device. You can actually find Android devices for even less, but I wanted a known brand and paid more for it. Of course, they make higher end Android devices with better screens and faster processors, but this one works for my needs.
2. Geekiness - My inner-geek has always had a curiosity about Android, but I refused to spend over $100 for a device just because I was curious about it. With the prices falling, I was ready to let my geek light shine.
3. DSLRController app - This was the straw that broke the camel's back. The app allows for wired and wireless control (requires a TP Link router) of specific Canon DSLRs. I own a Canon 5D Mark III and this app was the most intriguing thing about Android to me. Similar devices cost a lot more and while I wanted this feature, I didn't want to spend a fortune for a one-trick pony.
First Impressions of the Asus?
I had no expectations for it to be as brilliant as the Apple devices I own and it doesn't approach the silky smoothness of the iPhone 6 Plus or iPad Air 2. I am still messing around with it and I will have a full review at some point, but if it only had the DSLRController app, it would have been worth the money for me. Being able to get a live view from my camera with tons of control makes my fairly expensive camera much more useful. I already own a Chromecast, so I will spend some time getting acquainted with apps like BubbleuPnP and Localcast. I don't see it replacing Airplay as my media streamer of choice, but it is a nice addition to my media center. Also, the fact that it works with Airfoil means that I can use it as an Airplay receiving device alongside my other Airplay devices.
I should mention that it has had a couple small issues. Some apps load very slowly or need to be started, stopped, and restarted to work. I usually just leave those apps open if I plan to use them very often (WeMo remote would be one example). It hasn't been an issue with every app, so it could just be something inherent in the way WeMo works.
I like it! Unlike some people that consider one of the two or three tech mega-corporations their religion, I choose devices based on my needs. Yes, I like Apple devices, but I also use several Google software products...like most people. Until now, I didn't have a compelling reason to even try Android. To be honest, if this app was on iOS, I still wouldn't own an Android device. It is just a matter of having choice and, in this case, they gave me an additional, very compelling, choice. If you have some suggestions for Android-only apps I should try, please leave a comment or send an email.
I will review the DSLRController app soon, so make sure you check back in if you are interested.
I touched on this subject in a prior post, but I thought I would devote a post specifically to this subject since the pre-orders have started.
For many, being on the cutting edge of tech is important. You can be the guru on a subject just because no one else owns it. There is also something exciting about opening a box of something that you have never seen out in the real world. I get it and I am happy that we have early adopters to go through the real world beta testing for all of the new tech on the market.
Personally (I should note that the conditions described below pertain to my use cases, yours may be different), with new Apple products, I have adopted a wait and see mentality that grew from past experiences. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
The very first iOS device I purchased was the iPod Touch 1st Generation. It was a way for me to try out iOS without changing to a new phone. It was okay, but I didn't use it a whole lot because I preferred using my Treo. The Palm Treo, believe it or not, did a lot more than iOS at the time. The main shortcoming for the first Gen iPod Touch was the lack of a speaker and external volume controls. If you ever use your phone/tablet for audio, you realize that that feature is an absolute necessity, especially in the days before bluetooth. Guess what, the second generation version had an external speaker.
The next 1st generation device I purchased was the Original iPad. When the first iPad was announced, I was on board from the beginning. The iPhone in a larger form factor was brilliant. I bought one the day they were released. Unfortunately, you can' even update to iOS 6 firmware. The iPad 2, on the other hand, can run iOS 8 (limited support) and has the Control Center, multitasking, Notification Center, etc. However, for me, it is a bigger deal that it still gets new apps and the Original doesn't. In other words, the Original was practically bricked in record time. The Original iPad also didn't have cameras, which isn't a big deal for me, but it is for people that use Skype.
While I do realize that each generation brings new and better features, I have this uneasy feeling about 1st gen Apple products. I just get the feeling that there are critical features that the watch is missing and that they are holding them back.
For example. the main basic feature for an exercise band is GPS. The watch requires that you carry your phone with you to take advantage of GPS. If this isn't in version 2 of the watch, I will be very surprised. There are also many features for health that were rumored, but not available.. blood pressure monitors, stress monitors, etc..
Sleep monitoring would probably be possible, but when would I charge the watch if I wasn't charging it at night? Speaking of charging, battery power is a huge problem right now. The idea of having a timepiece that has a black screen ninety percent of the time is just a strange concept. Not sure that there is much that can be done about it with current technology, but that is why watches like those from Pebble have a basic screen.
Right now, the app developers are still figuring out how to use the thing and I think that is were the real value will eventually come from. When Apple spent two separate keynotes describing how we can scribble a flower on the face and send that to someone or how we can send someone our heartbeat, I started to wonder how I was going to use this thing.
There are obviously some things in the watch I am interested in. Other than telling time, which I can do with a cheap Timex, there are a few cool features. Notifications would be the most compelling since I can get news right on my wrist without getting out my phone. Being able to answer phone calls. Ability to control the Apple TV (and hopefully Airplay devices). Siri, messages, music, etc. Many of these have "coming soon" on the website, so I wonder if they will even be available at launch? Also, right now, I am doing these things with the iPhone and it hasn't really caused me much stress.
The main question is how much these things are worth to you? Right now, too much is unknown and I think there will be huge upgrades in version two (which is right in line with other Apple products). Of course, we have no idea when version 2 will even be available. While $400 isn't a fortune, I can certainly think of ways I would rather spend it right now than on tech that could seem obsolete in a year or so (right about the time that developers start figuring things out). As a result, my plan is to wait and see what version 2 has to offer (without GPS, I would probably skip it, as well). I know it could be a while before we have Apple Watch 2, but it isn't like pulling my iPhone out of a pocket is a huge problem that needs to be solved in the near future. Actually, when I really think about it, a larger screen is a better platform for 99.9999 percent of the stuff I do now anyway....even the flowers that I scribble look better.
The picture above is what can happen when you have a lot of equipment that builds up over the years. In my case, one of the reasons it got this bad is related to how my desk is wedged into a space that is built around the desk's size. This makes it hard to pull it out and because the room is so small, I can't really pull it out enough to get behind it and get all the way to the wall without moving other furniture.
Anyway, to start my project of taming some of the cables, I started with these four items:
1. QV Tools 12-Outlet Workbench Wall Mount Power Bar - You need to supply the screws, but it will attach to the back of a desk.
2. iKea Signum Cable Management - This provided a basket that you can attach to the desk, which keeps cables from falling to the floor.
3. ColorYourLife 20 PCS Reusable Fastening Velcro Cable Ties - I decided to use velcro in case I needed to unwrap cables. It came in handy right after I got everything setup because Comcast had to come out to fix some issues with old connectors on my box (long story, but unrelated to this project).
4. Cablox Cord & Cable Organizer - These things attached to the back of my desk and helped keep cables routed in the right direction.
With the above, I was able to plug nearly everything into the power plug and that plugged into a CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD Intelligent LCD UPS:
I also cleaned out under my desk (where I have an older PC) and routed three thunderbolt SSD adapters into that area. I have a small shelf balanced on a desktop computer and subwoofer under the desk, so I also use the shelf for another iKea Signum. I thought about getting a wall shelf and mounting the Signum and shelf to the inside of the desk, but it would have been of very little benefit.
I want to mention that I still have so many cables that it if you pull the desk out, it still looks a bit unorganized. The reason is that I attached the power bar near the bottom of the desk's back wall. This allows me to be able to reach under the backing (there is a few inches between the bottom of the wall and the floor) and unplug or plug something in without pulling my desk out from the wall. The main upside is that everything is organized and everything is off the floor.
It is strange, it took hours to get this done, but there is nothing that can be seen by people that come in the room. However, it still feels more organized when I am in the room, so it was a worthwhile use of my time.
Below are a few pics. As you can see, there are still a ton of cables, but now they are organized. Anyway, one New Year's resolution down and a ton more to get to.
NOTE: I have written a new article on this subject that address a different way to use the iPad/iPhone with Dragonfly that you may want to check out after reading the article below:
I wrote about the Audioquest Dragonfly DAC a while back. The main issue with using it with the iPhone and Camera Connection Kit (more about that later) was that you get a dreaded message that says:
Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter
With any solution, you need an Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter to plug into the Lightning Port to adapt a USB port to the newer iPhones.
Since you get a message that you need more power, you have to add a power supply or a way to trick the iPhone into thinking it is getting power so that it will send an audio signal. In the past, I have written about putting a Dr. Bott T3Hub (3 port USB Hub) in the chain and it will allow you to play audio through the port without needing a power source. Unfortunately, Dr Bott is no longer in business and it is next to impossible to find a T3hub. Therefore, I have been on a search for a way to get the Dragonfly to work with the iPhone that doesn't require the T3hub. On Youtube, I ran across the following video. I haven't tried this approach myself, but it appears to be a way to use an iPhone with the Dragonfly.
The issue with this approach is that the whole setup gets cumbersome. However, it supplies the power separately, so it should make your iPhone battery last longer and getting more power could, in theory, help with sound quality. I may try it at some point and post about it here.
As I mentioned, the T3Hub is a solution that works on both the older 30 pin iPhones and iPads that I have tested (I have used it with a 4S and an iPad 3) and newer Lightning port iPhones and iPads (I have used it with a 6 Plus and iPad Air 2). If you can find a T3hub, I would recommend picking it up if you need the ultimate amount of versatility.
With the inability to find the T3hub on the market, I have been looking for a new solution and I finally found one that works with the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPad Air 2. It DOES NOT WORK with my 16 pin devices, so you may have to go with the solution from hifiguy528 above. The Plugable USB 2.0 2-Port High Speed Ultra Compact Hub ($9.95 on Amazon when I wrote this review) is slightly less cumbersome than the T3hub since it only has two USB ports and the connector is on a flexible cable which means it is less likely to be damaged if it is jarred while being connected. With the T3Hub, I used a "Dragontail" in between devices to make sure the male USB part would be less likely to be damaged. Below is a picture of the Plugable in the chain:
Testing and compatibility
I have tested this setup with Sennheiser HD580 Headphones, AKG K701 Headphones, Shure SRH940 Headphones, Audio-Technica M50 Headphones, and Etymotic Research ER4P Ear-in Headphones and it has worked with all of them without a problem. I am not guaranteeing that it will work with your devices, even if you own the same stuff I own, because there could be differences in manufacturing processes. I have never heard of the company (Plugable Technologies) that makes them, so I can't vouch for the consistency in their processes. However, I did get an email from them when I purchased the device. I answered the email and they sent me a response. So at least it appears that there is somebody there to help.
As I noted above, this setup does not work with my 30 pin devices. I don't know that it works with all Lightning Port iPhones, either. However, it works as a USB 2.0 hub, as well, so you could probably find a different use for it if you aren't as successful. Another possible issue, is that Apple could possibly make this "hack" go away with a firmware update.
I want to caution that you should buy this now if you are on the fence about it. Not knowing the company, they could stop making it tomorrow and we would be in the same boat as we are with the T3Hub. Since they are cheap, I am going to buy a couple more, just in case. I mentioned in the past that people should pick up apps like AIrMusic before they go away and I know people that visit my AirMusic app review are disappointed when they find that the app is no longer available.
If you decide to go this route with your Dragonfly or similar DAC, please leave a comment or send me an email about how or if it works in your setup.
A couple new notes: I have since ordered a couple more Plugable hubs and they all work with the iPhone 6 Plus. I also tested the iPhone 6 Plus with the original Nuforce uDac and it works with the Plugable hub and the iPhone 6 Plus, as well.
Below is a a video with a look at the unboxing and some of my impressions, but you can also read text below instead or for more.
I am going to the beach soon and I wanted some extra protection for my iPhone 6 plus. As you know, the iPhone 6 plus is already huge and adding a rugged case to the equation only makes it more of a behemoth.
That being said, I was aware of this trade off, but wanted a rugged case anyway. My regular case has a naked screen and that is the main thing I will be trying to protect from sand and the multi-layered Drop Tech V2 - Ruggedized Case for the iPhone 6 Plus protects it without a problem. In the past, I have used cases that have this added layer of protection, but the screen protection ends up making the device feel more lethargic due to having to push down harder to make anything happen. With the Drop Tech, it may no bet as quick as operating without a screen, but it is close enough that it is rarely distracting. I pressed on icons, swiped back and forth, and moved from screen to screen (see video) without feeling much lag. It does have a different feel, like there is air between you and the screen, but it works fine. The upside to this approach is that the screen protector doesn't have bubbles that are next to impossible to remove and the protection comes off with the case.
To get the case on, you remove the silicon skin, pop open the case with some side clips and put your iPhone inside. Then you press the case together and put the skin back on. The case has a ridge around the front that enables the skin to fit tightly. The very first time, I was able to get everything put together in about a minute. Taking it apart took about twice as long, though.
The ports are deep and covered on this device. I was happy that the port over the headphone port is large. As expected, it works fine with Apple earbuds, but I also tried it out with my Ety ER4P in-ear headphones. They have a right angled connector which makes them impossible to work with most cases. However, with the Drop Tech, I was able to fit the connector into the slot and with a little pressure, I was able to listen to music without an adapter.
The one issue that some might have is that the camera lens and Touch ID are exposed without any protection. The lens and Touch ID are reportedly already protected by sapphire crystal and they are buried below the edge of the case, so I don't think shattering will be an issue. The upside is that without protection covering the lens, I can get cleaner looking photos.
The other controls on the iPhone are under the silicon case and I did not have any problem using them to adjust volume, turn the iPhone off or take a photo. The case seemed to fit everything perfectly. You may have to push down a little harder, but it isn't difficult to get the iPhone to respond.
While I am not usually a fan of belt clips, with this case and phone, it may be more necessary if you have small pockets. One benefit of the belt clip is that it also works as a stand. You simply open it and clip the top and the bottom stays open so you can rest it on a flat surface
While this case doesn't have water protection, it would probably be more expensive and I am not planning on taking my iPhone into the water ( I have an iPad 3 with a Lifeproof case for floating around the pool). Also, this case is a lot easier to get on and off and I don't feel that I am damaging the case every time I remove it like I do with other cases. For me, that is a very important feature because I don't plan to go with this type of case on a daily basis. It is mainly for getting a lot more protection and I think it will do the job.
Dog loving, Big Green Egg worshiping, Tech enthusiast, residing in Memphis, TN. Home of the Tigers, Grizzlies, Elvis, Al Green, Stax, Hi Records, Ardent Studios, Beale Street, Peabody Ducks, etc.. I have also added the Jeep Wrangler to the list of things I am enthusiastic about.
Flickr pics below