Category Archives: Gadgets

Non-Top-10 Post of the Year

By all Internet standards, I should jump on the bandwagon and post a top 10 list of my favorite tech stuff this year. But I just spent a week in Disney World, and I’m having a bit of trouble adjusting to the real world here at the office again. Also, here’s a tech secret: Don’t do the work over again if someone else has already done it. So I’m posting my top handful of top lists of tech gadgets (if you have a geek around that you haven’t shopped for yet) and some other lists too. Because.

GeekMom’s Gift Guide: Toys, Games and Apps. I only found Geek Mom today! TODAY! But I’m not a mom, so maybe that’s an acceptable excuse.’s list of great tech gifts. Be warned; this page reorders on reload. In English: Open links in a new page (right-click on the hyperlink for the option) or you’ll think you’re going mad.’s Best Books of 2012 (the link opens to Amazon, trust me)

Smashing Hub’s Tech Gifts for Under $10

Fort Hunt Patch’s Holidays on a Budget




iPhone 5: It Just Works?

With record sales since its release a couple of weeks ago, the iPhone 5 is the new must-have gadget. But is it worth the hype?

I’ll be honest, I’m not a Mac acolyte. I grew up on Apple products, switched to PCs in the late 90’s, and I’m still trying to get back up to speed on the Macintosh computers of today. I do perhaps love my iPad a little too much, but I still mainly use PCs and my phone is a Droid. So I don’t really have the user experience that Mac fans do.

Those Mac fans are saying that the iPhone 5 delivers a lot of features they’ve been wanting for a while. The screen is larger; the 4G is faster. The new design is sleeker and lighter than the 4S. iPhone 5 has built-in turn-by-turn navigation and a “smarter” Siri (though guys, she’s just a search engine with voice recognition). The headphone jack has been moved from the top edge to the bottom. The camera has been improved, and includes a panoramic photo option. And most importantly, you can get one plated with gold!

On the down side, you may have heard about some issues with the maps (released to compete directly with Google Maps…by the way, I adore Google Maps). Apple actually issued an apology for this flub, though not, as yet, a solution.

Also, since the new phone is shaped differently, customers will have to repurchase all of the accessories that they used with previous Apple products (chargers, docks, cases, etc.) Some iPhone 5 owners report wishing the phone was a bit more substantial; this is a complaint I would probably have since I’m very hard on my gadgets and I try to only buy technology I can’t kill. The case scratches easily, and some users report light leaking out from the screen through the power button or cracks in the case.

I don’t think the iPhone 5 is either the newest big thing or a flop. Should you buy one? If you like Apple products, go for it. If you want to see what having an iPhone is like, go for it. Just don’t leave that gold one sitting out anywhere.


Back to School With…What?

I don’t have kids who are college age; in fact, I don’t have kids at all. Nor am I a college student. But you may be in one of these situations, gentle reader, so I thought I would share this article with you:

10 Reasons Not to Buy an iPad Instead of a Laptop for a College Student

Don’t get me wrong, I have an iPad and I LOVE IT. But I agree with this article, which argues that an iPad is probably not the best option for a student. People ask me all the time about the best photo editing app or writing app, etc. for the iPad, but while there are apps available for just about any task under the sun, an iPad (and indeed any table) is designed for media consumption rather than media creation. If you want to read books, watch videos, chat with your friends and check the internet, a tablet’s your thing. But for powerful word processing, photo editing, sound recording and tasks of that nature, and document storage, you need to horsepower and stability of at least a laptop. An iPad is like a sports car; fun, sexy, extravagant, fast and light. But when you need to do some real grunt work, you’re going to wish you had something a little more practical.

But don’t get a Sony VAIO. Just don’t.

The Wonderful World of E-Reading

E-reading is far too large a topic for me to cover in depth in one post, so this one is only going to focus on where you can get free books for your e-reader. I’m assuming you either have one or want one, and who doesn’t love free books? I finally talked myself into asking for a Kindle for Christmas, and while I still love my book analogs, I am becoming a voracious e-reader as well.

This article from CNET lists a few good sources for free books, including those in the public domain. And yes, your library is a great place to get ebooks! The NOVA library has them too!

Librivox is a volunteer project with the mighty objective “to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet”. I’ve been a fan of Librivox for a long time; they’re my go-to source for audiobook classics. Some readers are better than others, but that’s part of the charm.

Hundred Zeroes is a website that provides a frequently updated list of ebooks available for free on

Ereader News Today is a blog with at least one daily update on ebooks avilable for the Kindle. I know some of these links are Kindle-heavy, but that’s because that’s what I have!

Curious about e-readers? The Faculty and Staff Resource Center has Nooks and iPads (you can use your iPad as an e-reader!) that you can try out for free!