Category Archives: gadgets

Helium hotspots? Why not?

First, you might ask, what is a hotspot?

It is a place that provides internet access through a gadget of some sort. Usually, this is don via WIFI. But a start up called Helium has another idea.

Smart pet collars, bike trackers, or any compatible Internet of Things (IoT) device can connect to Hotspots without Wi-Fi or cellular and send data to the internet. Hotspots also act as miners on the Helium Blockchain for a new cryptocurrency, Helium.

Cool! Here is the pitch

The (Helium)  People’s Network enables companies to solve IoT connectivity problems that are too costly, too complex, or just flat out impossible. A new wireless technology called LongFi delivers maximum range (miles) and battery life (years) for devices on the network at a fraction of the cost of cellular.

Fred Wilson just turned his Helium on.

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Craving Some Air Fried Roasted Garlic?

The idea did not occur to me. But I bumped into a review of the Phillips Twin TurboStar XXL this morning and started to ponder.

Image result for pHilips Twin TurboStar XXÖ

What can an air fryer do that I cannot do otherwise?

The answer is not that much. But apparently it can do a few things of note. One of them is to roast garlic

… it was air-fried roasted garlic that really blew my mind. You can — without the fuss of heating up an entire oven — have golden nuggets of roasted garlic perfect for smothering on bread in as little as 15 minutes.

There is more

(You can) turn a can of chickpeas into the most delicious happy hour snack? I found that the air fryer does a much better job than the oven does at crisping these legumes. The convection dried each chickpea to crisp perfection.

And there are the fries. And the roast chicken. And … doughnuts

It was Air Fryer Every Day that turned me onto the idea of making doughnuts in the air fryer. The book has a recipe for apple cider doughnut holes that is so good — and for me, it was the single recipe that changed my opinion of the air fryer the most. (These doughnuts were seriously as good as their stovetop-fried counterparts.) I also tried a quick batch using a pre-made crescent roll dough one Saturday afternoon and they were just as delicious as the deep-fried kind, without all the mess.

Dangerous! There is more. So, do I need this? No. Am I curious? Yes.

Are You Singing the Wifi Extension Blues?

I love wireless access to the internet. Mainly, it allows me to use my IPad like a TV where ever I am in my home.

But there is an issue.

As I move further away from the router, my signal strength goes down. This means I have more signal interruptions when I am streaming video. For reasons that I don’t understand, this has become worse recently.

What to do?

Several years ago, I started looking into technology that extends the Wifi signal at home. At that time, wireless mesh networks were just starting to come on the market. They promised much better performance than the extenders that were on the market up to that point. Why? Hey! I am not a tech expert. But I was smart enough to find tech experts to lay this out.

This Forbes article from 2016 tells that story.

So this morning,  I started thinking about buying a wireless mesh extender for my home. Hmmm … Netgear? And if Netgear, which Netgear?

This article has persuaded me that the bigger and more expensive one the Nighthawk X6S is the way to go.

I will be doing some shopping to see where i can find this in Estonia, set it up and get back to you on how it works!

Onward!

Sitting by the Pool Without Music? Shock! Horror!

Steve Jobs had an incredible idea way before anyone else. Jobs realized that people would always want better devices that deliver entertainment – fun. He was a fun meister!

Initially, that entertainment came in a little box that you put on your desk. Like this

Related image

I had one of these in my office. It was fun!

Jobs never deviated from his idea that people would always want more and pay more for better working, fun devices. That led him to the idea of the  IPod, the IPhone and the IPad. All great successes — because they were fun to use. Jobs was the mobile fun genius! Thanks Steve, where ever you are!

I think we are missing this a bit these days. We gets lots and lots more gadgets and devices, but I don’t get that sense of fun that Jobs demanded from his new products.

That was a pretty big lead in to a product that is fun – ~Bose bluetooth speakers. They have a new one that offers great sound by the pool.

Image result for Soundlink revolve

Is it worth it? That depends on how much fun you think it would be to have great sound for your next pool party.

Check it out!

The Next Frontier? High Tech Composting?

The word “compost”may  evoke some negative thoughts of smelly and gross yucky stuff sitting in a bin in your back yard. If you have that negative idea, consider this about the “Zera”

The WiFi– and bluetooth-enabled electronic box, which looks like a sleek trash receptacle, is as useful for avid gardeners as it is for resourceful apartment-dwellers with garden boxes. It has the capacity to process eight pounds of scraps at a time and features a built-in sensor that moves material to the bottom of the device, where it’s heat-processed to kickstart the decomposition process. The result: two pounds of fresh fertilizer made with stuff you would have just thrown away — and much happier plants.

Hmmm … did you notice the word “fresh” at the end of the paragraph?

For years, folks have been trying to get consumers to waste less food. These efforts have been — for the most part — unsuccessful. It may be that to change our routines, we need to see a positive reward from the change.  Does the Zera do that for you? Will it “disrupt” the composting market?

The link that offered the above quote has a few more options for your consideration.  And here is a peek at the “Zera”, the high tech option

Image result for high tech compost

Want more? Here is the lead in from the “design engine” webpage

While most traditional food composts are made to be kept outside, the Zera designed by Whirlpool’s WLabs, is an attractive indoor food recycler. As part of an Indiegogo campaign, the company claims the Zera can convert a week’s worth of food waste into homemade ready-to-use fertilizer in just 24 hours.

The Zera aint cheap (the price tag is over one grand) but it gets the job done — a job that usually takes one month — in 24 hours. I know I could just put my scraps in a paper bag and bury them, but I can’t halp myself! I want a Zera! Then again, I confess, I am a self-confessed  kitchen gadget junkie.

Did they just say 24 hours?

Time to Pull Out the Yakitori?

The outdoors is beckoning. Mind you, here in Tartu, it is still a bit nippy. So no late night outdoor cocktail parties yet. But one does begin thinking about what is to come.

And one thing that will definitely come is grilling. That includes the usual stuff one can make on the grill (I have a weber gas grill that amazingly still works). It may also include making yaktiori. That is different.

Yakitori is actually a method of grilling. It uses a Japanese-style grill., which is very cool. But you don’t need that, you can fashion your own rig. In th efirst video below, Harris Salat talks yakitori with a chef who knows what he is doing.The second one shows the yaktaori grill. Enjoy!

Here is a video that shows the grill. Enjoy!

Yes, You Need a New Coffee Dripper

When I first saw the headline, I was skeptical.

This May be the Best-Designed Drip Coffee Maker Ever!

To be clear, I am a french press guy. Have been for decades. Every now and then I pull out my espresso maker. But pressed coffee won me over long ago. And I never bought into the electric drip machines. Which is surprising, since I am a sucker for kitchen gadgets.

But perhaps it was because the drip coffee machines I have tried were not properly designed! Perhaps it was because they were not … adjustable!

That is the pitch for the December Coffee Dripper.

Unlike other drip coffee makers, the contraption has three settings that control the speed with which water is released into the mug. Nicholas Cho, one of the designers of the December Dripper, explains in his Kickstarter video that how fast or slow water is let out from the maker depends on how many cups of coffee you’re making. Too fast for one cup and you won’t get the full flavor of the roast. The maker was also specifically made to have a flat bottom to encourage even distribution of water over the grounds.

Of course! Will I join their kickstarter campaign? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, check out the video at the above link. It is fun … with coffee.

Enjoy!