Nerd alert.

I have only recently entered the realm of the hyper-connected, making the leap to an iPhone just a few months ago.  In that time, I have run across a few apps that I find either mildly entertaining or incredibly useful – enough to install them and use regularly.  Scrabble and Temple Run 2 fall into the former category.  I thought I’d share one of the latter category with you today.

Monte and I joke about the “magic shopping list” that’s hung on the wall ever since Monte and I have been shacking up.  Monte can write something on it, and it magically shows up a few days later.   We also have a “magic laundry basket,”  but that’s another story.

Anyway, upon recently running out of the nifty paper notepads that I use for the magic list, i thought… there must be an app for this.    After a quick search online, I found a free one:  GroceryIQ.   I’ve successfully used it for 2 shopping trips so far.  You can add items either by typing them in, or using a barcode scanner, or by voice recognition.   The app has a database of brand items that you can choose from or just enter a new, generic item.   The app also has coupons integrated, and also has some way of keeping track of item prices, but I haven’t figure out how to use those features.   I’m just enamored with the virtual shopping list idea.   I like that I can mark items that I buy regularly as “favorites” so when it comes time to make up the list, I can add the regulars easily.  I also like the fact that you can order the categories that items show up in however you like…meaning that you can set your list up so that the order the items appear in your list is in the same order as you find them as you navigate the aisles of your particular grocery store (yeah, kind of geeky).   But the best part is that multiple users can share the same list – independently adding items to the same grocery list.  This meant that to render our magic list completely virtual,  Monte would have to install it on his phone and give it the thumbs up (no small feat).  He did…….and voila!   The app passed the test.     Check it out – they have an app for Android and iOS.

She’s baaaack!

Oh, the malaise of a Thursday… unceremoniously stuck between “Hump Day” and “TGIF.”  Is there a motto for Thursdays?

Well my highlight for today was picking up Julie from the airport.  She’s back for school – the semester starts in a few weeks.  She plans to move in with a friend that she met last semester, so we’ll be empty nesters soon.  Since she passed her RN exam over the summer, she’s official now and is hoping to work at a local hospital while she’s going to school.  What a kid!

And, before I sign off… here is a link to a short (5-ish minutes) TED video a colleague sent me today.  It has a 10 tips/shortcuts for using technology more efficiently.  I knew about most of them but not all.  The first one blew me away….who knew?


Happy post-humpday TGIF-eve!!

New bar toy.

While antique shopping in Tennessee last weekend, I found an old seltzer syphon, Sparklets brand. I’ve never used one of these before but we’ve talked about trying one for a while. So we took this one home.

We quickly realized we were missing a part or two. Most importantly the part that holds a CO2 cartridge / charger. Prairie Moon online carried parts that fit. So this morning we tried it out. Works great!

First post from my iPhone.

Red red rose.


Ok, i have a bit of work to do to figure out how to actually use the camera in the phone and to see if the teensy tiny phone gui is worth posting from.   My first try was a bit of a fail.  I have to admit that I needed to clean it up from the browser on my laptop.

Anyway, who cares, it’s Friday!

21st century, here I come.


I made it to the AT&T store last night before closing, and came out with a shiny new phone.  And this one doesn’t flip open!   I’d been avoiding getting a smartphone, for fear of losing myself completely into the world of hyper-connectivity.  I mean, i’m sitting in front of a computer for 3/4 of every day for work.  Then I switch to my personal laptop for blogging, browsing, and other online mischief.   Even when traveling, i can get online on a plane, or the nearest wifi hotspot.   The only time I’m offline is when I’m out in the middle of the lake.

However, dropping my old phone in the toilet was a sign.  From somewhere.  To just get on with it.  And so I have.

I’m getting used to my new device.   I must say, having Julie here comes in handy — live-in iphone tech support.

I quickly loaded it up with all those essential apps.  Including the wordpress app.  I eventually got on to viewing this blog on my new phone.   I do not like how the twenty eleven theme looks on a smartphone sized display.  Boring!  And, why is the background white?  I am going to have to find time to change over to another, more versatile theme.   I’ll put that on my todo list.  Any suggestions for a good theme for photoblogging on that looks nice on different sized devices?


By the way, I found this page with instructions on how to take a screen shot of your iphone’s display.  Then you can just mail it to yourself.  Very handy!

Crit sittin’.

Yesterday afternoon I was pulled into a critical situation with a client (aka a “crit sit”).  This usually means 24/7 phone calls with a dozen or more people from all corners of the planet to diagnose what caused a problem in a client’s IT environment, and then fix it.  So it’s been a long day or two… and will be a long weekend.

But…. look what Monte made me today!     🙂

A nice thing.
A nice thing.

First world problems.

The culprit.
The suspect.

We, in the modern and developed “first world,” enjoy luxuries that are inconceivable by those living in developing “third world” nations.   In the real scheme of things, any woes that we complain about related to technology are nothing more than noise.  But it doesn’t make them less annoying because of that…

Our latest first world problem:   when I use the treadmill, our DSL modem drops its connection to the internet.

Ah yes.   Quite a quandary.  A recent development — and an unacceptable one.   Imagine the fun we’ve been having trying to talk to AT&T about it for the last few weeks to get help with troubleshooting.  So we’ve been trying to debug our modern conveniences ourselves to find the root cause.  We suspect a new DSL modem which we got a few months back (a Netgear), because the old one (a 2wire) worked fine when the very same treadmill was on.

If we plug the treadmill into an outlet on the other side of the house, it does not interfere with the modem.  So we could move either the treadmill or the modem.  Both of which would be a major pain.  So in the mean time, I hope to find another solution… i.e., finding another brand of modem, like the 2wire that we had for many years until it went kaput.

Anyone out there have a better suggestion?

Update:  I think we fixed the problem!!  (through no help of AT&T, by the way).  After a month of trying to figure out what the problem was, in desperation and frustration I dug out our old 2wire DSL router out of the closet.  It had worked (and coexisted with the treadmill) for about 10 years before crapping out this summer.  When that happened, we replaced it with the AT&T-recommended netgear DSL modem product, which is the one we’re currently struggling with.  In the old 2wire DSL modem box I found the original  DSL phone line filter dongle thingies that we also replaced when we got the new netgear modem.  The ones we got with the netgear modem say “Pace America” brand on them.  In a desperate attempt to try just one more thing, I changed out the Pace-America brand DSL phone line filter dongle with the 2wire brand one that we had used with the previous 2wire modem for many years.  And…(drum roll) it fixed the problem!    I post this update in the hope that it will help some other poor schmuck that has resorted to google for help on how to fix their treadmill / DSL router interference problem.

Best of luck!


Amazon overload.

I am addicted to Amazon Prime.   I use it for purchasing nearly everything other than groceries.   And I’ve been placing so many orders lately, the UPS man is wearing out the front walkway.  I guess it’s time I took a break, though.

The clutter (virtual and physical) in my life is reaching a new peak.   We have, admittedly, been processing a spike in household paperwork / accounting that requires more of my attention, what with the monthly household bill paying, insurance paperwork for the Audi, buying the new boat, insuring the new boat, registering the boat, processing Monte’s retirement paperwork, converting 401Ks to IRAs, moving the new retiree to my insurance, etc etc etc.  We somehow misplaced one of the new ATM cards for our accounts that arrived a few weeks ago.   I also have this nagging feeling that I need to double check our estimated fed income tax payments.  I’m about 2 months behind on niece & nephew birthday cards (!).  Work-work is piling up too, and traveling a week or so every month is not helping either on the household-organizational front.

The Amazon “stuff” just went on top of that pile.

I have been trying to get the return authorizations processed for 2 boat-related items that I ordered from Amazon recently that I wanted to return.  Today I realized that I returned the wrong item to Amazon, using one of Amazon’s return authorizations.  And I have the Amazon item here in my office with the return authorization for a 3rd party vendor. The nice UPS man came by and picked up the first item before I realized the mistake.


Luckily the nice-man at 1-800-please-help-me-Amazon said he’d figure it out for me.

I hereby impose a 2 week moratorium on ordering anything from Amazon.  And I resolve to reduce the huge pile of paperwork piled up on my home office desk on one of the days I hope to take off around labor day.



I realize there are people struggling with real problems out there.   This is definitely not one of them.  But it just turns out to be something to feed my blog for today. 🙂   Enjoy the rest of the week!

Moving on up?

Cupholder II?

We went to the lake today early, to finalize an offer we’ve made on a new boat.  It’s not a done deal – we still have to take it out for a sea trial and have a marine surveyor inspect it, but if there are not problems found, this may be our new ride in a couple weeks.

We have infinitely enjoyed sailing and playing aboard our unique, homebuilt wooden catboat for eight years.  We treasure the friends we have made at the marina in those 8 years, too.   We are not ones to make big decisions lightly.  But we recently decided to make a move up to a bigger boat, and this is the one that presented itself.    If it doesn’t work out, no biggie, we’ll wait for the next one that feels right.  If it does work out, I look forward to another 10-15 years of fun aboard this boat on our beautiful lake with our sailing friends.

I’ll keep you posted!


What’s missing?

I flew to Boston today for work/meetings for the week.  As usual, I waited until this morning to pack, and since I had a morning flight, I was rushing a bit.

In my haste, I left my phone charging on the shelf in the pantry, and didn’t realize it until I got to the airport.  Argh!

It will be interesting to see how I can get by without it.   I’m not even that attached to it for connectivity – as I really only use it as a phone (not for internet connectivity).  But, I have gotten used to being able to make a call from anywhere, without having to make arrangements to use a land line.   Interestingly, the biggest inconvenience so far is not having something handy with a clock on it so I know what time it is.  🙂

I’m staying about 30 miles outside of Boston.   After arriving, i had the pleasure of driving through the Ted Williams Tunnel at rush hour.  It strikes me as odd that they spent so many years with the Big Dig only to have ended up with at tunnel that has about 8 feeder lanes that have to merge into only 2 lanes to go through the tunnel.   That was fun (NOT – slow going).

Tomorrow, Spain plays Portugal in one of the semi-final matches of the UEFA Euro Cup 2012 soccer (er – futbol) match.  I won’t be able to watch, as I’ll be in meetings, but i’m definitely rooting for España!


The perfect omni-tool.

The Tourist.

One of Monte’s vast array of swiss army knives is missing.  Probably in a bilge, or perhaps at the bottom of a cove.  So we ordered another, which arrived today.  Did you know that there are about 100 different models of swiss army knives, with different combos and numbers of gadgets attached?  This one is called The Tourist.  Upon opening the box, Monte declared it the “perfect” swiss army knife.  So, go get you one!

You have to check out this one though:    Monte doesn’t have *it* yet.  🙂

A simple fix.

My Harmony One.

We’ve owned a Harmony One programmable universal remote control for almost 4 years.  A few months ago it went on the fritz.  It would reboot itself randomly, making it impossible to use, because it would forget the state of the devices it was supposed to control between reboots.

So, it has been sitting in the closet gathering dust.   In the mean time, we’ve had to dig out and relearn how to use the multiple remote controls that it was intended to replace.

I was just about ready to buy a new one on Amazon today, when I thought to google for any known issues and recommended fixes.

Turns out that a common problem with the Harmony One is that the battery, after a year or two, can become a tad loose inside the remote, and if that happens, the battery’s contacts with the remote can be disrupted as it is moved around.   When that happens, the remote reboots itself.  The “fix” is to put a small piece of thick paper, like from an index card, under the battery to take up any slack.  Voila!

We are back in business!!   I ♥ my Harmony One  🙂