Nokia N810

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Recently I picked up a Nokia N810 on eBay for $60.

The only app I’ve discovered that I don’t already have on my phone is ATI (Almost Real TI), a Texas Instruments graphing calculator emulator.

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What sets this app apart from apps I’ve used on iOS and Android is:
-there are 5 calculators to choose from (see picture below)
-the interfaces look just like the actual TI calculators
-it was free

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The downside is that there is no longer any app support for this device, it’s OS, or software such as this.

The upside is that I now have 5 different models of TI calculators on one device for only $60. This is convenient, since I’m high school math teacher.


My Latest Vintage Gadgets

So, I’m waiting on the replacement Chromebook from NewEgg (the 1st one they sent didn’t have a SIM card). It was going to be an early Mother’s Day present for my Mom, but it may end up being a “just in the knick of time” Mother’s Day present.

I got a good deal from NewEgg – 3G Samsung Chromebook with 100MB of data for 2yrs + 100 GB of storage on Google Drive for 2yrs + no tax + free shipping = $329. I can’t complain, I just hope the replacement has the SIM card.

Well, while I’m waiting for Mom’s new gadget, I started browsing the PDA section of eBay. I’ve owned my share of Palm devices, but I always wanted a Windows CE handheld PC – the clamshell style PDA. My favorites were the HP Jornada and the NEC Mobilepro, But they were nearly $1000 when they were new. Now you can pick up one of these devices on eBay for a reasonable price, however the replacement batteries often cost more than the device.

Then I started looking at the 1st generation devices running Wndows CE 1.0. These devices came out in 1997, originally sold for $500+, had a monochrome LCD display, and were powered by 2 AA batteries and backup battery. I found a Compaq C140 on eBay for $27 so I snagged it.

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I love this style of device. My original plan was to take the C140 to school and use it as a todo list/alarm clock, however the fonts are small, the contrast is bad, and so are my eyes! I think I’ll just use it as an alarm clock to wake me in the mornings.

I found a better gadget to take to school…a Nokia N810 and I just ordered one on eBay for $60.

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I’ll let you know how it works out.


Got Mom a Chromebook

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My Mom and Dad have always been wary of technology. I finally taught Mom to text a few weeks ago and she’s doing great…except that she calls me to make sure I received her text…but I’m not complaining. She can text now!

Mom is starting to realize, though, that she needs to have an email and be able to do some basic web browsing. I explained to her how a Chromebook works and asked if she would be interested and she enthusiastically said yes.

I decided to get Mom a Samsung Chromebook with built-in 3G. It comes with 100MB of data per month and 100 GB of storage on Google Drive free for 2 years. This is perfect for Mom. She won’t have to worry about getting internet for the house and if we see that she needs more data we can bump her plan up.

Newegg and Amazon appear to be the only places you can get the 3G model so I went with Newegg because it was the cheapest. Unfortunately, when the Chromebook came in and I began setting it up, it didn’t take long to realize that the sim card was missing. New egg is in the process of sending me a replacement.

I’ll let you know what Mom thinks.


Helping My Mom Become Technology Literate

I’m a middle aged high school math teacher and lifelong technology fanatic. I’m also the daughter of two lifelong technology haters. When I was a kid, they wouldn’t even let me use my own money to buy a Commodore 64 computer because it would, “be obsolete in no time.”

I shouldn’t be too hard on them though. When I was in college, Mom bought me one of the first graphing calculators without me even asking. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that they don’t hate technology as much as they fear it. I got them a laptop several years ago, and initially my Mom was very excited. But when she, a woman who had zero computer experience, was confronted with Windows XP and Internet Explore, it was too overwhelming. I guess I was a little too zealous and tried to teach her too much at once. If I wasn’t right there with her she wouldn’t even turn the thing on.

A few years have passed since the failed laptop attempt, and I’m trying a new approach. I gave Mom my old iPhone 4. She can make phone calls and I think she can take pictures. I was surprised to find out recently that she’s also using a few apps that I left on the phone: the weather channel and a couple of news apps.

Since my daughters and I also have iPhones and my nephew has an iPod, I decided to teach her how to text. Since we all have Apple products, we can exchange iMessages for free. Mom was apprehensive at first, but I made her send texts to everyone, and they sent her messages back. She feels pretty good about it now. We just have to send her messages every so often and encourage her to reply so that she gets comfortable with this new mode of communication.

Now that she’s getting comfortable with the whole concept of launching and closing application (that was a major hurdle), she’s actually expressing an interest in using a computer. I took the old laptop (wow it’s slow) and I’ve ordered her a 3G Samsung Chromebook. It’s scheduled to be delivered in two days and she seems genuinely enthusiastic. After I placed the order, she and I sat down and pick out a username and password for her Google account. I got her all set up so that when the Chromebook arrives she can sign in and be ready to go.

I’ll let you know how this turns out.


Laptop Refurb Project Was a Bust!

I had a great Spring Break…the weather was warmer than expected…very Spring-like for a change. However, I spent much of my free time inside, glued to eBay, shopping for deals on hard drives, RAM, and batteries for an old laptop that I wanted to refurbish.  I was so excited about this project because I love playing around with new (to me) gadgets. In addition to that, I was going to get the satisfaction of knowing that I fixed the laptop myself.

I’m a tech fanatic, just not very tech savvy, so I also spent a lot of time on YouTube watching tutorials on replacing the parts I mentioned above. I also had to figure out what to do about re-installing the operating system. The original OS was Windows XP but I didn’t have a recovery disc. I found a Windows 98 recovery disc, but determined that it was too old to be of any use. I decided to install Ubuntu 12.10. This really amped up my excitement – a new OS would make this feel like a new laptop.

While I waited for the parts to arrive, I planned a series of YouTube videos staring me in the various stages of refurbishing my old broken-down laptop.

Well, the parts arrived. The Kid and I began filming Part 1: Hard Drive Replacement…and that’s as far as it got. Apparently, the laptop had issues in addition to the faulty HD. So disappointing. Fortunately, I bought the HD, RAM, and battery from eBay stores that accepted returns.

Well, I have a new project in mind. I’ll tell you about it in the next post.


Spring Break Project: Laptop Refurb

My project this week is to refurbish my old Compaq Presario 2100.

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I sold some stuff on eBay last week, so now I have a few bucks burning a hole in my pocket. I thought about buying something like an Acer TimelineX that I could tinker with. My husband suggested that if I wanted something to tinker with I should dig out the old Presario. He was joking but I thought it was a good idea.

The Presario was collecting dust on a shelf in the basement because it started having HDD problems and eventually quit booting.

I brought it upstairs, plugged it in, and hit the power button, and what do you know…it fired right up! I spent several minutes looking around for a way to reset it to factory settings, like in Windows 7…no such luck. I guess Windows XP doesn’t give you that option. I powered it down because we were going out to eat. However, when I got home and tried to fire it back up – nothing – it had stopped booting again.

I did a little research on YouTube and found that this is called the freezer effect. Apparently my HDD has physical damage. the cold air in the basement caused the metal components of the HDD to contract and move freely again. The effect is temporary, though, and usually only works once.

I did a little shopping and found that I could get a replacement HDD pretty cheap. So, this is my plan for the week: replace the HDD, and while I’m at it, upgrade the RAM and replace the battery. I’ll let you know how it turns out.


eBay is a Gadget Fanatic’s Friend

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I think the Samsung Galaxy Note series of smartphones are the best phones ever made…for men…who wear cargo pants.

I ordered a Note the day it was released by AT&T and enjoyed using it as my phone/tablet for a year…until it fell out of my tiny little girl pockets onto a concrete floor and cracked the screen. The phone was still fully functional…but now it was UGLY!

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First, I consulted YouTube and watched several videos about screen replacement. I determined that replacing the screen myself was iffy and too expensive to risk it.

Next, I checked out eBay. I figured I could pick up a used Galaxy Note or SII, maybe even an SIII pretty cheap. Maybe not. Used phones were selling for more than $300 and ones with cracked screens…$200+

Finally, I knew what I had to do, what I always do, sell my old gadget on eBay and and get a new gadget. In this case I sold my Galaxy Note for $276 and bought an iPhone 5 for $200.

Now my only problem is deciding what gadget to get with the remaining $76.