NomadPlus - Apple Charger accessory

Here goes nothin'! FatBoy-at-Large's first review..

The product I've been testing out for the past two weeks is the NomadPlus chargeable, portable battery - made for Apple products specifically by Nomad, a relative newcomer to the consumer electronics world.

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Review: The Brick from Binatone

When one of the first press releases I saw from CES this year was the announcement from Binatone that they were bringing back the old Brick cell phone form factor from the late '80s/ early '90s I was sceptical.  When I read further and saw that it could not only work as a 2G cell phone but could also function as a bluetooth handset for my iPhone, I get a little more intrgued.

While the exterior dimensions are familiar to anyone who grew up with these phones, the first thing you will notice is the weight being greatly reduced.  Modern electronics are a lot smaller and lighter, and it is noticeable.  The Brick will support an optional XXL battery that will provide up to 6 months of standy time(!), but ships with a battery that provided me with about 3 days during normal use connected via bluetooth to my iPhone.

In addition to it's bluetooth functionality it also has a built-in FM radio, calendar,  everyones favorite cell phone game snake, an alarm clock, and will access your address book via bluetooth from your smartphone so that you don't need to program numbers into it to dial.

In all, it works as designed, and has that old school charm that will bring back those early days of technology for a lot of us.  Sound quality is very good, and volume is surprisingly loud from the speaker.

I must not be the only one intrigued, as their inventory is completely sold out and backordered for several weeks.  I'd pre-order now, as they are likely to stay sold out for a while.  The device can be ordered for $69.99 from their website.

Product review: Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt for iPhone from Kwikset

Today I recieved the Kevo Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt for iPhone, and I have to say, this is pretty slick.  Installation took about 10 minutes to remove the old deadbolt and install the new one.  From there it was as simple as installing the app from the app store and registering.  Once I was registered it paired quickly with my phone and was operational in minutes.  Now I simply touch the lock with my phone still in my pocket and the door unlocks!

The Kevo system runs on four AA batteries, and it says they should last a year or more.  The system also includes a keyless entry fob that when calibrated can stay in your pocket and identify itself just as the phone does for those folks you have that need access but do not have an iPhone.  It also includes two standard keys in case batterries die or something goes wrong with the programing.

I was able to send electronic keys to my whole family in about 5 minutes so that they have them on their iPhones, and programming the two extra keyless entry fobs they sent took seconds each.

In all this is a very simple to use system that brings my door lock into the 21st century quite simply and easily.  Highly recomended.

Product Review: ANKI Drive

The Anki Drive Starter KitI have had the privilege for the last several weeks to be a Beta tester for one of the most eagerly awaited iOS games in a long time, Anki Drive.  For those of you who missed the great demo at WWDC in June, Anki Drive is a racing game brought to the real world in the form of the cars and racetrack included in the $199 Starter Pack, along with two additional cars available at an additional charge of $59.99 each.

Game play is fast paced and a TON of fun for the whole family.  Whether playing against the computer AI characters of the cars or family members, this was a huge hit in our house.  Most of our testing was done by my son and myself, but even my daughter who isn't really into games LOVED her time playing Drive.

Basic game play involves a dog-fight between you and the other cars in your race.  As you win races with other players or the computer you gain points which can then be used to upgrade your cars.  Better weapons, higher gear ratios, and faster engines all reward your success by increasing the abilities of your car.  What makes this better than most racing games on iOS is that these upgrades stay with the cars no matter who is controlling them, so if I upgrade Boson (one of the car characters), then start playing as another car, Boson still has his upgrades when controlled by another player or the AI, making my game play all the more challenging.

Replay is very high, especially when playing against other human players, and changes based on the number of cars in the race.  What this means is even if you get your strategy down against one AI opponent, adding another optional car to the set changes game play radically even if only competing versus the AI.

At $199 the Anki Drive set is a bit spendy, but well worth the time and money if you enjoy racing and friendly competition.  I can't wait to let my friends play now that the NDA is lifted and see how much fun they have.  I'm guessing Anki will sell a few more sets just from those matches.

iPhone 5S Launch day

OK, I've had a chance to rest a bit after leaving at 2am to line up for the iPhone 5S release, and was fortunate to come away with a new phone!
As major news sites have reported, supplies are severely limited for this thing at launch, with internet sales being pushed out 7-21 days within hours of its availability.
At the AT&T store I picked again this year, supplies were very low. Silver and Gold versions, as well as the largest 64GB variants were not available at all.
New shipments should be coming in regularly from now on, but don't expect to walk into a store and find one this weekend.
So far I have been very impressed by the speed if the new A7 processor, and have had no problems with the fingerprint reader used to unlock the new phone.
Benchmark tests have been run by all of the major Tech blogs, with the most thorough testing as always done by anandtech. This phone is faster than any other phone on the market, easily blowing away the competition from the Android set, including the former leader, Samsung's international G IV.
If you already have an iPhone 5 you will notice the speed immediately, and if you are still using a 4 or 4S, run to the nearest store that has this phone in stock.

Special Event: Apple WWDC Keynote

Today Tim Cook and the folks from Apple took the stage to lay out the road map for the coming year in Apple Software and to announce new hardware.  As usual, Tim started the morning giving a "State of the Company" update.  Here are some numbers:


  • Over 6million registered developers
  • WWDC sold out in 71 seconds
  • Retail: More than 1 million daily visitors
  • Retail: 407 stores in 17 countries
  • Appstore: 50 Billion apps in less than 5 years
  • Appstore: 900,000 applications
  • Appstore: 375,000 iPad specific
  • Appstore: 575 Million accounts with credit cards attached, largest online store in the world
  • Appstore: More than $10 Billion paid to developers so far


New Developer ANKI, launching first product live on stage today.  Robotics and AI researchers.  ANKI Drive, autonomous capable cars, combination of computer control and human interaction.



  • 72 million sold last year
  • MacBook #1 Notebook in the market
  • Mac up 100% VS. Pc up 15%
  • #1 in customer sat and quality


28 million copies of Mt. Lion sold in last year, not standing still.  New OS is OS X Mavericks.  New naming scheme after Californian landmarks.  New features:


  • Finder tabs, no more million finder windows
  • Tagging! When you save a document, you can tag it wherever it is, and tags will appear in finder
  • Multiple display support built in.  Taking a window full screen on one display will not mess up your desktop.  HDTV will be able to be a full powered secondary display



Tabs work like they do in Safari, allows for easier copying, finder can go full screen.  Tag field part of save dialog, tags have their own section in the finder sidebar, making finding important documents much easier.  Documents can be tagged simply by dragging the documents into the tagged group in finder as well.

Multiple displays also allows for multiple spaces on each display.  AppleTV now can be used as another full size display, with full screen applications.

New features of OS X Mavericks:


  • Compressed memory - compress used memory to make room for new documents without writing to disk
  • GPU video scaling
  • OpenGL 4
  • Accelerated scrolling
  • Enhanced timings reduce idle time and allow for 72% less CPU power drain




  • First look at flattening of the OS, improved top sites
  • Shared links lets you see all the links shared by people you follow on Twitter and FaceBook
  • JAVA enhancements
  • Enhanced memory usage
  • Lower power usage
  • AppNap stops power drain by pausing the rendering cycles of apps not in focus
  • Top Sites: Very flat, dark grey with white text
  • Reading list: Puts articles in order, pre loading the next article so that they are stacked in a single page for easier reading.
  • iCloud Keychain: essentially OnePassword built in to your local system, but available on any iCloud connected device.  Will also hold credit card info, but you still need to know the 3-digit security code.


Enhanced notifications, allow for iOS device notifications to display on your Mac, including while Mac is locked.

Calendar Enhancements - Facebook events, flatter interface, map and drivetime awareness on events

Maps - Now on OS X, turn by turn directions, can send direction to the iPhone, display on lock screen.  SDK allows for mapping data to be sent from any app.

iBooks for Mac - Fully featured, interactive textbooks

New MacBook Air with the Haswell ULT chip, almost doubled battery life

11" - $999 w/ 128 GB, $1199 256 GB

13" - $1099 128 GB, $1299 256 GB

Shipping today

Mac Pro!

Amazing new design.  Large black cylinder.  2x processor performance.  1866MHz DDR3.  PCIe Flash HDD, 10x fastest drive previously available.  Thunderbolt 2, 10Gbps throughput.  Dual GPU, 384-Bit memory buses.  4k Display support off of each display port. Insanely small compared to current Mac Pro, 1/8th the volume.  Full unit spins for easy access to rear panel. Coming later this year.

Made and assembled in the USA.

New Airport Extreme - built in drive bays, 2 or 3 TB drives.



300 million accounts.  240 Million GameCenter users.  800 Billion iMessages.

iWork integration into iCloud:  New releases later this year of both Mobile and Desktop applications.  iWork for iCloud - web based document creation.  Clearly Apple responding to Office365.  Platform agnostic, shown using Chrome on Windows 8. Available today for developers.



600 Million iOS devices sold.  Number one in customer usage.  iPhone users use their phone 50% more than Android owners.  Mobile web share 60% for iOS.  93% of users are using the latest version of iOS.

iOS 7!  Biggest change to iOS since original iPhone.  New flatter interface we expected. Changed color palate. A new beginning for iOS.  HUGE developer response.  


  • Animated backgrounds
  • Parallax allows you to see behind the icons
  • edge to edge design
  • "We ran out of green felt for GameCenter"
  • Great use of gestures for one handed use
  • multiple pages in each folder, no more "Games 2" on my home screen!
  • great today view in notification center
  • Notification center available from lock screen


10 new features:


  • Control center - quick access to settings
  • Multitasking - Full access for all applications.  OS learns usage patterns for "Opportunistic updates".  Card like feature for running apps.
  • Safari - New full screen look.  Smart search field for one-tap access.  Parental controls.  iCloud Keychain.
  • AirDrop - Quick file transfer, system wide peer-peer wi-fi.
  • Camera - Live photo filers, 4 cameras in one.
  • Photos - Organized into moments using meta data.  Can go wider to general areas or years.  Can tap and scrub through micro-thumbnail.  Shared photo streams allow multiple people to share into Family photo or event streams.  Can see comments live in stream, including video sharing.
  • Cloud service integration - SIRI has new interface, much cleaner.  All new voice.  Much smarter, has better control over your device including settings.  Can answer more questions because of Twitter integration, WikiPedia, bing search results.  iOS in the car: 95% of cars sold today have integrated voice control of music.  On screen display of iOS using in car display.  12 car manufacturers with integration in 2014.  AppStore now auto-updates applications.  
  • Music - Much cleaner and again a flatter view.
  • iTunes Radio! - Built into the music app, curated stations.  You can build your own station based on any song you are listening to.  Favorite songs tagged for purchase in history screen.  Built into all platforms including AppleTV.  Included in iTunes Match for $25 add free.
  • Facetime Audio, Notification sync, PDF annotation.  Phone, facetime, and iMessage blocking.
  • Activation Lock - Device cannot be wiped an reactivated without linked AppleID.  
  • 1500 new APIs in new SDK

Available today for iPhone 5, later weeks for iPad and iPad mini




Review: iPhone 5

OK, now that I've had a little over a week with the iPhone 5, I can tell you that it is the best iPhone yet without reservation.  While many have criticised Apple for not really innovating, I think there are really a few innovations here that have been over looked.  

A new connector - Lightning

The Lightning connector may not seem like a big deal, or to others has been seen as an inconvenience, but is a game changer in my book.  Yes, it will mean new accessories will need to be purchased.  It means I need to have 2 different adapters in my car, one for the iPhones Carrie and I have, one for our iPads and older iPhones the kids carry.  However, the advantage of being able to just plug a cable in without fumbling to make sure the correct side is up while driving is a HUGE improvement not just to use but to safety in a world where many of us plug our phones into our cars for everything from entertainment while driving to GPS navigation.


While the maps are not perfect (or even ready to be used for navigation in most areas), they are a sign that Apple is once again trying to branch out into existing areas without reliance on partners.  While this could backfire like the ill-fated Ping service or the iPod Hi-Fi, it could end up making Apple a player in a market they have left to others in the past.  Apple has always been a company that tries to do thing themselves when unhappy with the way partners or other companies are doing things.  Google would not give them the turn-by-turn directions that were needed to really integrate maps properly, preferring to reserve that aspect to it's own Android platform.  This left Apple with a choice:  either continue to let media and users see them as sub-par to Google, or make a change.  While they may not be firing on all cylinders to start with in iOS 6 with maps, you can expect that to change quickly.  Now that they can see the places improvement is needed, Apple can get people and processes on board to address the issues and get things right.


The iPhone 5 is by far the fastest iPhone, and according to tests from the major hardware sites, the fastest Smartphone on the market.  Combined with a true HD screen and a smaller form factor the iPhone 5 sets the standard once again for performance and features.  It is still the phone everyone envys, and is the only phone in the category that creates the kind of frenzy we saw at launch.  No other smartphone has ever sold-out presale availability in less than an hour.  No other phone in the category has EVER sold more than 4 million units in the first weekend.  In every way that matters to Wall Street and consumers, the iPhone 5 is a winner.

There are a lot of sites that can give you performance breakdowns and benchmarks.  What I want you to know is that you will not be disappointed in this purchase, now or in 6 months.  Lets see any other device give you that.

First look: iPhone 5!

Ok, I'm 3 hours in, and 2 since I stopped driving and could play a bit. I'm loving the bigger screen, and it feels even lighter than I expected.
The screen's contrast really is better, and so is color saturation. The white balance on the 4s always seemed a little off to me, and pictures from the 5 so far seem to have a more accurate image. I'll have to play with it more and do some side by sides to see if that is real or imagined.
I'm out of LTE coverage area right now, but I'll update when I can compare speed test results vs. Verizon here in the Portland area.
Definitely not a disappointment in any sense (except for crappy service from AT&T this morning after 8 hours in line.

Apple Special Announcement - New iPhone and iPods

This morning Apple held an event to announce new products, and the only thing that wasn't already reported by rumor sites like AppleInsider and MacRumors was the new iPod Nano that was was announced.  Here is the run down of todays announcements:

1. iPhone 5 - The new iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order starting Friday, 9/14.  22% Lighter, 20% Thinner, wit han improved camera and worldwide LTE cellular data starting at $199 for the 8GB model.  The pictures that leaked over the last several weeks proved accurate, with some of them looking suspiciously like those that now adorn Apple's website.  Here's the iPhone lineup shipping 9/21:

iPhone 4 - 8GB - Free with contract

iPhone 4s - 16GB - $99 with contract

iPhone 5 - 16GB - $199 with contract

iPhone 5 - 32GB - $299 with contract

iPhone 5 - 64GB - $399 with contract

2. iPod Touch 5th Generation - This wasn't leaked as well, but was expected by many.  Featuring the same 4" screen as the new iPhone, the new iPod Touch has a processor upgrade to Apple's A5 chip, is thinner, lighter, and features an improved camera.  The 32GB iPod Touch is $299, 64GB iPod Touch is $399.  New iPods are available for pre-order on Friday, 9/14 and will ship in October.

3. iPod Nano 7th Generation - This one wasn't even hinted at by the rumor sites.  Many of us expected a new Nano, as a new design has been released every year for the last several years.  The suprise is that instead of getting smaller as it has over recent years, the Nano has now grown again to a 2.5" screen.  Resembling nothing more than a miniturized iPhone, the new Nano fetures multi-touch, a built in pedometer and fitness applications, FM Tuner with Digital Audio Recording (allowing you to pause and rewind radio), and for the first time in the Nano history Bluetooth.  These will also ship in October, 16GB for $149.


Laser Tag to go to the big room!

Hasbro sent out a press release about the upcoming NERF LaserTag line, and I can't wait!  Pairing via BlueTooth with your smartphone will allow you to use the phone as a heads-up display for your game, including locations of virtual targets, and shot information versus human opponenents.  Out in the real world, you will be able to play versus friends and versus randomly matched opponents.  Forget spending $10 a game at laser port, now you can play anywhere!  Its on now boys!

Here is the text of the press release:


From the makers of the popular NERF blasters comes the revolutionary LAZER TAG system, combining the power, precision and excitement of live-action blaster battles with the high-action, strategic, augmented reality gameplay of traditional video games. To experience the LAZER TAG game, players download the free LAZER TAG app to their iPhone or iPod touch device, connect their device to their LAZER TAG blaster, and find themselves immersed in a world where video games and real life connect. Using either single or multi-player mode, players can engage in a LAZER TAG match featuring either real life worlds or virtual opponents. Each LAZER TAG blaster equipped with a device has a virtual firing range of over 250 feet and contains a 'Heads Up Display', or HUD, which allows players to keep track of their gear and remaining power, while also providing a view of the augmented reality targets and enemies in the area. A virtual leaderboard keeps track of each player's profile and, with every successful mission, players will gain in-game access to upgradeable attacks, missions and gear. With LAZER TAG blasters, the stakes are high, the game is real. Don't just play it, live it.

The 2012 LAZER TAG product line includes:

(HASBRO/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $69.99/Available: August 1, 2012)
Get into the game with the ultimate LAZER TAG 2 BLASTER set, brought to you by the makers of the NERF brand. Set includes two LAZER TAG blasters. For enhanced augmented reality gameplay, simply download the free LAZER TAG app to an iPhone or iPod touch device and then connect the device to the blaster to activate the immersive gaming experience. When in multi-player mode, blasters are equipped with a virtual firing range of over 250 feet and an on-screen 'Heads Up Display' which, for the first time with LAZER TAG, allows players to see the lazer and keep track of their gear and remaining power. In the solo campaign, the blasters provide a view of the augmented reality targets and enemies in the area. Performing well in combat and mastering levels will increase players' stats on a virtual leaderboard, as well as unlock upgrades for attacks, missions, gear and firepower. Game may be played in single-player mode, or in multi-player mode with up to 24 people. Players can also play LAZER TAG without a device using the blaster's classic multi-player mode. Each blaster requires 6 AA batteries, not included. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on

(HASBRO/Ages 8 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $39.99/Available: August 1, 2012)
Live the mission and conquer opposing forces with the innovative LAZER TAG blaster, from the makers of NERF products. For solo campaigns, players begin the game by simply downloading the free LAZER TAG app to an iPhone or iPod touch device and then connecting the device to the blaster. Players are then immersed in a live-action virtual gaming experience like no other. The on-screen Heads Up Display reveals virtual foes and targets in single-player mode and real-life worlds in multi-player mode, all while keeping track of remaining power and hits. Playing the LAZER TAG game as a single player allows players to use skill and strategy to master levels of increased difficulty, earning points and rewards along the way. Multi-player mode pits players against enemies in an epic competition where ability, energy and instinct rule. LAZER TAG blasters boast a virtual firing range of over 250 feet! Game may be played in single-player mode, or in multi-player mode with up to 24 people. Players can also play LAZER TAG without a device using the blaster's classic multi-player mode. Available in either white or yellow; each sold separately. Each blaster requires 6 AA batteries, not included. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on

Dash - The Smartphone Radio

Kickstarter has become a force to be reconed with in a world where individuals mean more than Venture Capital.  I love looking at the great ideas people come up with, and the genrosity of people who catch the idea and the passion of others to help them realise their dreams.


Dash is the latest to catch MY attention, and I can't wait to see it come to market.  The idea is a dedicated head unit for your car that uses your iPhone as the control.  It accesses the audio output and plays it through your speakers, giving you access to all of your navigation, audio and other applications without needing to learn a new interface.

The idea is a great one, and the crowd-sourced funding is going to allow it to come to market pretty quickly.

Sphero has arrived!

When Sphero was first announced I thought it was an interesting idea, but didn't know if it was something I could really love. Now that it has arrived, I can't stop wondering what these guys will come up with next. I'll be playing around with them more tonight when the kids get home, but here is a quick rundown.
Sphero is a remote-controlled ball. I know, not very exciting at face value.

The thing that makes Sphero great are the applications. Golf, where you use the iPhone or iPod Touch as a virtual club. Sphero, which is just a simple remote control to play around with it. SpheroCam, which lets you shoot video and pictures of your Sphero in action. Draw&Drive let's you draw a path on the screen of your iDevice and watch the Sphero follow the path.

The exciting thing is what could come next. I can think of tons of applications. I would detail them here, but then I wouldn't be able to sell the apps.

Stay tuned for video and fun with the kids tomorrow.

Leave The Laptop Behind

I recently traveled back east for work and was determined to leave my laptop at the office, yet still have the flexibility of staying connected to deal with time sensitive work issues while I was away.  The only technology I carried on my trip was my iPhone and my iPad.  My iPhone and iPad are set up with work and personal email accounts, calendars, and contacts.  I also have the convenience of Documents To Go on both devices.

Currently, I am not able to use my iPad to connect through a work VPN.  However, we recently set up a corporate account and I have the application downloaded on both my iPhone and iPad.  Before I left town I uploaded a few of my current project documents and other documents I may have needed for reference while I was on the road.  I also had the ability to have my staff email me a document if it was not already in my account, but I wanted to avoid having to ask people to take their time to send me information.

I am a typical business traveler that is glued to my technology.  I am always checking email, both business and personal, and wanting to stay connected to my family (often through texting).  I was very happy to have in flight internet on my flight between west coast and east coast.  I paid for the internet connection, which was $12.95 for the duration of the flight, and my iPad kept me occupied for hours. 

What I discovered on my trip is that the iPad allowed me to be efficient and stay connected to the office through email (while I was in the air).  I was also able to connect to, Netflix, Hulu+, listen to music, read my Kindle, and stay current on Facebook and headline news.  The best part…my iPad battery lasted the full flight with power left over when I arrived on the ground.  I was content during my flight and felt productive and entertained.  My 5 ½ hour flight felt about 3 hours long.  Even if I did not have the convenience of the in flight internet, I feel I would still have been equally productive.  I simply would have sent my emails as soon as we landed and rather than Netflix and Hulu+ I would have read more on my Kindle and relaxed with a little more music.

If I had relied on my laptop to get me through the flight, which I have done many times before, I would have been frustrated with loss of battery power and maneuvering in a tight space with a piece of equipment that is cumbersome on an airplane.  Having the iPad also made getting up and down for other passengers (I was in an aisle seat) much easier.

I can remember when we all started using laptops on planes and thought it was the best way to travel.  However, now that I have had a chance to fly with my iPad, I will never use a laptop on the plane again.  There really is no need.  Any work project I wanted to spend time with was easily accomplished with the iPad, even Excel spreadsheets.  My briefcase was much lighter this trip, and my shoulder was much happier when I got home. 

How-To: Managing AppleID with iCloud

One of the most confusing things with the arrival of iCloud is managing your AppleID.  This gets even harder when you realize that your entire family might be using the same AppleID for iTunes, iCloud, and the other services Apple has tied to this login.

The first thing to remember, is that you can have separate AppleIDs specified in your settings for the different services.  If your family has been using a single AppleID for everything, this can cause problems:

1) The arrival of iCloud means your devices can be backed up to the cloud (internet server), which is great.  However, if your family is like mine, space can run out quickly if you have 4-10 iOS products all using the same account.

2) Now that iMessage makes sending SMS type messages free over Wi-Fi, using the same AppleId on every device in your house can lead to some embarrassing conversations with your kids.  Imagine your wife sending you a love note that pops up on your Son or Daughter's iPod touch, and it shows up coming from your email address.  Trust me when I tell you this is the first thing that generates a call to AppleCare when people update to iOS 5.

3) While you want the entire family to have the same iTunes account (trust me, buying Justin Beiber's christmas album once will break your heart, once for each kid will test your will to live), you want everyone to have their own online identity for other services.

The easiest way to solve these problems is right when you get a new iOS device.  If the person that the device is for does not already have an AppleID, tap on the button to get one.  Once you have it, it will sign you in to all of the services.  Then simply go into Settings -> Store and sign out of the AppleID you just created and sign into the families iTunes account.  You are all set.

If, however, you are working with any of the problems I mentioned above, it gets more complicated.  You need to go into the settings for EVERY service that uses the AppleID and change it to a newly created one (with the exception of store, which we want everyone to use).  

Here is a list of the settings that use the AppleID:

Settings - iCloud - Account

Settings - FaceTime - Use eMail address to receive calls

Settings - Messages - Recieve at - AppleID

GameCenter - Set through the gamecenter application, not in settings

FindMyFriends - Set through the application, not through settings

I hope that helped clear things up for some of you.  It is one of the most difficult calls for AppleCare when you call for support, because you often don't even know what the source of the problem is, and many of the people you are talking to have never used an iOS device.