Category Archives: gadgets
I’d like to take a brief moment to say “Thanks” to TWGW. She gave me an awesome anniversary gift for our 6th. She found an online survey about the Senseo coffee pod machine, and after filling it out, discovered that we qualified for a free one! Granted, we did have to pay $15 shipping and handling, but otherwise, it was a $70 coffee maker for free.
It arrived Thursday, along with a box of assorted pods, a canister for keeping them in, and 3 $20 off coupons to give to my friends. For those not in the know, the Senseo coffee machine uses individual “pods” to make coffee, one 4oz. cup at a time. Actually, if you use 2 pods you can make a full 8oz. mug of coffee. The beauty is that it makes your cup in about 30 seconds with a nice frothy surface.
While I drink my coffee black, I found that it made for a slightly weak java, not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I’ve heard complaints that 1 pod makes coffee too weak, and 2 pods is too strong, but I’m happy with it. I’ve only used the decaf and the “Paris” sample so far, but I was generally pleased with it’s quality. I am by no means a coffee connoisseur, but I found it to be a quite passable cup of brew. I was surprised to find that 4oz was actually a good sized portion, just enough to satisfy my craving for a little of the magic bean. At only one (half)cup of coffee per pod, I can see where it could get a little expensive, but the expense is countered by the convenience of a perfectly sized and well brewed portion of coffee, with very little cleanup.
I’ve read where some people are making their own pods, and I’ve seen where you can buy reusable pods, though I suspect that’s a messy option. I have a drip coffee maker that makes one travel sized mug of coffee and uses a small metal basket filter, and cleaning it is a royal pain. While I like conservation, and think we should reduce waste in general, I can’t overlook the convenience in this simple design. Thanks again, honey, I love it.
Have I mentioned that I’m really enjoying my Alphasmart? I’ve already managed to finish my fanfic chapter 3, and start my chapter 4. This blog entry makes my second entry composed entirely on the little portable keyboard. The one I ordered came with a “case” which actually turned out to be a zippered 3-ring binder case. It’s actually a fairly elegant solution. I had to take a little rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush to the case to remove the white-out “S” that had been painted on the spine. I was fairly pleased with the results, but the binder-cover is khaki with an olive stripe, and I want something a little more–I don’t know– just different. I started sifting through my fabric scraps (Yeah, I have fabric scraps, what’s it to ya?) and found a large piece of black vinyl. I broke out the scissors, a needle, some thread, and a little impatience. Half an hour later, and I had a 90% complete custom fitted pouch for my un-notebook. All that’s left to do is figure out a closure for the flap. I’m thinking about using two buttons and a small elastic loop, but I’m not sure. The way I made this slip case, the front of the liner has the slick side of the vinyl facing the keypad area of the keyboard, but it just has the fuzzy vinyl backing on the underside of the flap and in the back of the case. I’m trying to decide if I need to line the entire case or not. Here’s what I have so far. What do you think?
Well, it’s finally arrived! I struggled through the new excite e-mail system to find the tracking number for my Alphasmart, only to see that it finally made it to my local mail center for delivery today. I opened the door and watched for the mailman. I could hardly contain my excitement when he stopped in front of my house. He had a box. Hmm… that’s about the right size. It’s here, it’s here, it’s here! I felt a little like I imagined I would have felt in the third grade if my junior detective kit that I ordered from the weekly reader had ever arrived. Boy, how’s that for pulling out an old injury? Anyway, this thing is lightweight, yet heavy duty feeling. It’s got a nice chunkiness and was built to withstand the torture of elementary school kids and it really shows. My particular alphasmart lived it’s previous life in a school, and I’m only too glad to give it a new home.
The keypad is about the same size as the keyboard on my laptop, and it has a nice heavy tactile response. I’m from the old school of thought that thinks you should be able to hear your keystrokes, and so it’s a nice fit for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that mine was one of the IR models, meaning that I might not have to order a special ps/2 to usb adapter for use on my wife’s computer. Using the standard ps/2 cable, I plugged “the little keyboard that could” into my Linux lappy and loaded up Abiword. I hit the send button and watched in awe as the sample paragraph I had written magically typed itself on my screen. You’ve got to love an electronic device that just works like it should.
This particular model is supposed to hold about 64 pages of text… way more than I’ll ever write in any one sitting. It doesn’t have many bells and no whistles to speak of. It does have spell check and a find button, but I’m not sure I’ll ever use those. Apparently, It’s also possible to print directly from the Alphasmart 2000, another feature I don’t anticipate using much, if ever. I’ve read reviews that complained about this model having a hard to read screen, but I find that the standard block text is very easy on my youngish eyes. It doesn’t have a backlight, which would be nice, but certainly not necessary. I’ve also seen reviews that bragged about the semi-transparent case on the later alphasmart 3000s but I actually prefer the opaque blue casing of the 2000. They say the battery life on these things is phenomenal, that I should be able to get several hundred hours of use out of the 3-AA batteries.
The light weight, lack of distracting features, and platform independence of this this little tool should mean that I can increase (note I didn’t say “improve”) my writing output.
About 2 weeks ago I placed an order on e-bay for an Alphasmart 2000. When I ordered it, I selected 2-3 day shipping. What I failed to notice was the little line that said “Item will ship within 5 business days of order.” Naturally, it was after the mail ran on the 5th day that I received a shipping confirmation notice, saying that it had been submitted for pickup. The next day, it had not yet been picked up by the post office. The next day was the 4th of July. No Saturday pickup where it’s shipping from, so it didn’t get picked up by the USPS until sometime late in the day Monday. Tuesday, no package, no change on the USPS tracking site. Wednesday, nothing. Today, still nothing. Arrrgh! It’s so frustrating. In typical fashion, each step of the process of sending this thing a couple hundred miles is taking it’s maximum limit of time to be completed. Every link in the chain is contributing to the tardiness of my package. I ordered this thing so I could do some distraction free writing while I’m off work. I’m afraid by the time I get it, I’ll be back at work and not have the time to really enjoy it. Oh well, patience is a virtue, I suppose. Who couldn’t stand to be a little more virtuous? The thing that really frustrates me though, is that I had to order a cable for the keyboard from a different vendor. I had it within 3 days of placing the order. So for the last two weeks I’ve been looking at that cable and waiting anxiously for something to plug it into. You know what they say, when all you have is a hammer…