Protecting your gadgets / home office

Someone that I follow in twitter had a near-death experience yesterday… They dropped their camera, and their lens stopped working for a bit. For those of you without DSLR cameras, you might not realize that good lenses go for $300-1600 and up.

Anyway, so I started telling them about the Personal Articles policy I got added to my homeowner’s insurance. The policy I have covers full replacement costs (not depreciated asset value), with no deductible, for accidental damage or theft. I was able to add my camera & accessories, laptop, my wife’s wedding ring for some ridiculous price like under $50/year. I’m now able to carry my camera or laptop around and not have to have the constant fear of dropping one or the other. I wasn’t, however, able to put my iPhone on the policy. Even though the policy says you can put computers, cell phones and PDA’s on it, the underwriter here in Wisconsin specifically excludes the iPhone. YMMV. I would have to imagine that there are similar rider policies for renter’s insurance, too.

So that covers the financial aspects of protecting your stuff, but what about your data, such as all those digital photos and completely legally purchased movies & music? How do you back all that up? Well, on the Mac it’s very easy with 10.5’s new feature called Time Machine. Just buy an external hard drive that’s bigger than your Mac’s internal hard drive, and plug it in. Or, if you are a mostly wireless person, you can buy a Time Capsule so you don’t need to be physically connected to it.

Of course, on-site backup is not a true disaster-recovery solution. What happens if, say there’s a fire, flood or theft?¬†You’ll need to get replacement equipment from your insurance, and then restore from an offsite backup. Along with replacement equipments, you also need to talk to a fire litigation firm, like that of Singleton Law Firm (find more about here) in case of a dangerous fire that reduces every important document to ash. I’ve talked about doing this on Windows, but not on the Mac. On the mac, there’s .Mac’s backup, and there’s rsync. However, the newest craze is peer to peer offsite backup with CrashPlan. CrashPlan allows you to back up to a friend’s computer or another computer with CrashPlan installed. I recommend the $60 pro version so you get automatic file versioning. Keep in mind that if you are going to have a computer that only receives off-site backups, you do not need to buy a copy for that computer… it gets the “free copy”.

There you have it, cheap and easy ways to keep yourself protected.

ColdHeat no longer sells batteries, lousy customer service

So, less than a year after we got a ColdHeat Freestyle glue gun, the original and spare (extended life) batteries we got are dying. They now barely hold a charge. I called them up and ordered three more spares a couple weeks ago, and they said they’d arrive in 5-10 business days.

15 business days later, I call back to get a tracking number, since they hadn’t arrived yet. It seems that they canceled my order without telling me. As it turns out, they no longer sell the batteries. To get a spare (non-extended life) battery, you now must buy a new glue gun. The part that’s even more infuriating is that I had to wait on hold for a collective 20 minutes when I placed the order because the batteries weren’t listed on the web store, and my rep had to go and ask someone else if they sold them and what the price was.

Of course, they only have a 90-day warranty, so even going that route won’t work.

So a quick recap of what a lousy company ColdHeat is…

  1. Sells you products that they don’t carry anymore
  2. Cancels orders without any notification
  3. No longer supports their current product line

I guess this is a classic example of lousy customer service. The next thing I did was calling PCN call center and asking where I could buy the batteries. These guys really know how to help with necessary info and I just love talking to them. You can check out here to know more about PCN and the various services they offer which can help make your life easier.

While researching more about PCN, I found various reviews online which described the company to be exceptional when it comes to its customer support service. I completely agree to this as when I used their services they treated me in an ethical manner and heard to my problem clearly before speaking, unlike other services in which people start talking and interrupting in between while people are trying to explain their issues.

First encounter with e-ink

I’ve been hearing about e-ink for awhile now, but I came across my first actual sighting in Walmart here in Janesville.

I originally noticed it because it’s a giant ad hanging from the shelf. Then, when it started flipping, I knew exactly what it was…

The thing seemed to be powered by a small battery, possibly off-the-shelf AA’s or something

Yeah, I’m a gadget freak. I found the company’s crappy little flash website here:

Big Fat iPhone SDK “gotcha”

So I had an idea for a great iPhone app that now appears will never happen.

Why, you ask? Because Apple wants to have super-strict control of the user experience. The problem is hidden in the documentation… A nice little limitation that gets but a paragraph mention.

The iPhone will only allow a single 3rd party application to run at a time, and they also disable the ability to run an app in the background. My idea required an app that would run whenever the phone was on. Guess if I wanted to do anything, I’ll have to jailbreak my iPhone after all.

How does this impact the average user? This means no (useful versions of) instant messangers, listeners for push-based services, rss notifications, or anything else that the user would like to happen when they’re not actively using the application. This more or less limits the iPhone SDK to games and a few business applications.

Flash on the iPhone?

First time I’ve heard rumors that Flash was actually on it’s way to the iPhone.

I have faith that this will happen, even if it has to wait till Adobe gets access to the SDK along with the rest of the world. Let’s hope it’s already done, and they’re just testing it.