Tag Archives: iphone

Chromecast Setup & First Impressions

I purchased a Google – Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player from Best Buy for $35 and received 3 months of Netflix for free. Since I’m already a Netflix customer, they just credited $24 to my account.

I’m impressed by how small and simple everything about this device is…the packaging is attractive, the instructions are simple, and when you consider what its capable of, the Chromecast is tiny.

It’s just a dongle with a small button and micro USB port on the back, an HDMI connector in front and an LED indicator.

Back in the box we have a USB wall charger, an HDMI port extender, a micro USB to USB cable, and some tiny instructions.

Setup is easy. First, plug the Chromecast into an HDMI port on your tv. If the LED indicator doesn’t light up, you’ll need to attach the dongle to a USB port on the tv or an outlet. My tv’s USB port didn’t supply power, so I’m going to use the provided  charger to to plug it into an outlet.

Now that the  Chromecast is receiving power, the LED indicator will light up.

Next, switch your tv to HDMI input…and you should see the setup screen.

To set up the Chromecast, you’ll need a computer with the Chrome browser installed or an android device. We’re using a Nexus 7. Launch the Chrome browser. And you’ll be prompted to launch Google Play. The link will take you to the download page for the Cromecast app. Install the app. I had to give Google my phone number to proceed…

Now open the app and accept the terms.

Select Setup and allow your device to connect to the  Chromecast. Let your device know if you see the code on your tv. Now you can choose a name for your Chromecast.

Then you’ll have to put in your wifi password so the Chromecast can connect to your network.

Once it’s connected, you  can watch a tutorial or just finish setup. You’re still in the Chromecast app, so go back to the home screen and launch Netflix or YouTube.

Even though I couldn’t setup the Chromecast with an iOS device, I can still cast YouTube and Netflix videos from my iPad to the tv …in fact, you can cast from any iOS or Android device that’s logged onto your wifi network…no app is required.

We went my YouTube channel and tried playing one of my old video. When you press the cast icon you’ll be given the option to play the video on your device or on the tv. It just takes a few seconds for the Chromecast to start streaming video…at this point you can do other stuff on your device or just let it go to sleep…the Chrome cast takes care of streaming the video.

When your done casting, tap the icon and send the video back to your device.

Chromecasting works basically the same on both Android and Apple devices. One thing to note is that you’ll have a few more options on an Android device…like access to video playback controls from the drop down notifications menu and from the lock screen. That’ll make multitasking more convenient.

Overall, the Google Chromecast is a great value at $35.

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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.


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.


My Galaxy Note Should Arrive Tomorrow!

I was 100% satisfied with my iPhone 4 until I saw a Galaxy Note last September.  The BIG display and self storing stylus gave me a serious case of gadget fever.  Then I read that Samsung had no plans to release the Note in the US.  That was it.  No more gadget fever.  I was back to being satisfied with my iPhone 4.  Then in December I got ultrabook fever, so I used money I got for Christmas to by a Toshiba z835 (which I’m using to write this post).  I felt guilty for spending so much money on myself, and I even wrote in a blog that there would be no more gadgets for a while (I think I said a year).

Then c|net had to go and report that AT&T would be offering the Note this week.  Instant GADGET FEVER!  Followed by the disappointing news that my contract wasn’t up until June, followed by a call to AT&T to see what the early termination fees would be, followed by rationalizing that this phone is worth the $100 fee on top of the original $300 price tag, followed by ordering a Galaxy Note on Superbowl Sunday, (followed by not liking the Galaxy Note Superbowl ad).

I have a good family.  They accept (but don’t understand) my fascination with with gadgets.  My husband jokes about me using each new device as a tool to research and shop for my next new gadget.  At each unboxing, my oldest daughter reminds me not to throw away any of the packaging…I’ll be needing it shortly when I sell the device on eBay.  My youngest daughter feels that I have an unhealthy addiction to gadgets (and lattes).  I think addiction is too strong  of a word to describe my feelings for gadgets (I am addicted to lattes).  I think of my researching and buying/selling gadgets as a hobby.

Maybe when I retire from teaching I can get a job at a place like Best Buy.  Then I can get my fill of playing with all the latest and greatest gadgets while at work.

But back to the Galaxy Note.  I should get it sometime tomorrow afternoon.  Then I have a three day weekend to play with it and get it set-up the way I like it…In the meantime, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas!


Samsung Galaxy S II: First Impressions

The SII has a beautiful screen

My husband has been using a dumb phone for years but was recently drawn back into the fold of smartphone users by the Samsung Galaxy SII.  He had a love at first sight experience a couple of weeks ago at the AT&T store and within days had an SII of his own.  I have an iPhone 4, and I must admit, the extra screen real-estate is nice.

My husband uses the voice input, search and command features a lot.  He likes the convenience of sending text messages by voice.

The faster battery consumption of the smartphone vs. the dumb phone startled my husband at first, but with a little power management, like adjusting the screen settings, he was able to get that issue under control.

My husband encountered a more serious problem after installing some games, an app for our local news, and an rss reader.  He was burning through data like nobody’s business.  He shut down all the apps – still using enormous amounts of data.  He uninstalled all the apps – same problem.  He went to the store where he bought the phone.  At first they said he wasn’t really using that much data, but he showed them that it was showing up on his monthly usage on AT&T’s website.  The manager of the store said that my husband’s basic $15, 200MB/mo. data plan was not intended for a smartphone (this is not true; my daughter and I each have an iPhone 4 with the same data plan and we don’t have any problem staying within our limit).  Next, my husband called AT&T’s tech support.  They agreed that the extreme data usage did not seem normal, but were not able to pinpoint the problem.  Next, he called Samsung’s tech support.  Basically, it was a waste of an hour and a half of his life.  They said that using exorbitant amounts of data while doing nothing was normal!?!?

This morning, my husband reset his phone to it’s factory setting and the problem seems to have been resolved.  He knew when he got an Android phone that he was going to have to watch out for malware.  I guess one of the free games he installed was malicious.  Have you ever had a similar problem?

The bottom line:  My husband loves the Galaxy SII, he just has to be more cautious when choosing apps to install.


I’m liking iCloud so far…

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I like the Beta features that have been released so far:
•Purchase histories in iTunes and the App Store. This allows music and apps purchased on one device to be downloaded to all other devices without having to sync with your computer.

The features that are coming this fall sound good:
•Automatic backup and restoration.
•Syncing documents wirelessly across all devices.

The calendar and contacts apps will also be able to sync wirelessly across all devices, but I’m curious to see how this will work in my situation. My daughter and I each have an iPhone on the same iTunes account with our own calendars and contacts. We’ll see I guess.

I’m kind of indifferent to the photo stream feature.

For mor information see:  iCloud


Looking forward to iOS 5

I’m looking forward to the fall release of iOS 5, the mobile operating system that will be compatible with:
•iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4
•iPad and iPad 2
•iPod Touch 3rd and 4th generations

Apple has made several improvements in this latest iOS. Here are a few features that I’m the most excited about:
•Improvements to the camera app, including quicker access.
•New notification center.
•A reminders app (looks like a todo list).
•Four/five finger gestures.
•Tabs in the Internet browser (for iPad).
•PC Free!

This last feature intrigues me the most, since it will make the iOS gadgets stand alone computing devices.

Apple says,”With iOS 5, you no longer need a computer to own an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Activate and set up your device wirelessly, right out of the box. Download free iOS software updates directly on your device. Do more with your apps — like editing your photos or adding new email folders — on your device, without the need for a Mac or PC. And back up and restore your device automatically using iCloud.”

For a complete list of iOS features, go to:  iOS5