F.lux Promises To Help You Sleep

According to research done by the American Medical Association, exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of electronic media, can disrupt sleeping and intensify sleep disorders. F.lux makes the colour of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, specifically dawn and dusk. The warm colours at night can help your eyes adapt and diminish strain. When it’s time to sleep, it will become a much more comfortable transition into a darker environment.

Night-time exposure to blue light keeps people up late. F.lux adjusts colours in a way that reduces the stimulating effect of blue light and the developers have documented the science to prove it!

The science that explains why blue light keeps you up was begun many years ago in the study of bird migration, and it continued in humans with the discovery of a new photoreceptor in the eye, called Melanopsin. Many are familiar with the “rods and cones” that provide our visual capabilities, but it was only about 15 years ago that retinal ganglion cells containing melanopsin, which are sensitive to a narrow band of blue light in the 460-480nm range, were discovered, and their unique effect on sleep was investigated.

https://justgetflux.com/research.html

Version 30.1 of F.lux preferences - latest version

Version 30.1 of F.lux preferences – latest version

When the sun sets, F.lux makes your computer look like your indoor lights and in the morning, it switches back to sunlight again. The options are fully customizable, and you get to choose a strength that works for you. Depending on the amount of windows in your room and type of lightbulbs, your settings could be different than mine.

I’ve been using F.lux for the past six months and now I can’t live without it. I don’t generally have trouble sleeping, but I still feel much more comfortable staying up late, in front of a computer screen. It’s an easy transition from sitting in front of 3+ displays, to laying in bed. Continue reading

Downgrading From OS X Mavericks to Mountain Lion

Apple.com/osx

Apple released OS X Mavericks in October 2013, the tenth major release of “The world’s most advanced operating system”. Hours after the release, I quickly upgraded the OS on my primary system, a late-2012 27″ iMac.

OS X 10.9 introduced several new features but, as expected, it also introduced several major bugs and removed features without good reason. After being frustrated with Mavericks, as many have, I decided to downgrade to 10.8.5 (OS X Mountain Lion).

A brief and condensed list of bugs and issues I found in OS X Mavericks:

  • There are a few incompatible applications that users were accustomed to using in Mountain Lion which no longer functioned, or caused some instability. RoaringApps.com is a trustworthy crowdsourced website for checking OS compatibility.
  • You lose control of scrolling with a Magic Trackpad, at random times through the day. A full system restart is required. Many users reported this on the Apple Support forum, and it’s still not resolved.
  • I love the new Multi-monitor features advertised in Mavericks and this was one of the reasons I upgraded so quickly. My main workstation is composed of 3 displays so it’s extremely important Apple handles this with care. Once again, they failed.
  • Shared network drives, screen sharing with other Macs on your network, AirDrop? Forget it. Not going to work if you’re using Mountain Lion on any of your other networked Macs. Theoretically it will … but implementation was subpar and obviously rushed.

I left Mountain Lion installed on a small 150GB partition before upgrading to Mavericks. The idea was that I could launch Mountain Lion at any time, just in case I didn’t find the new OS to work for my needs. Unfortunately, that caused more trouble than it was worth. With only 6GB left on the Mountain Lion partition, it quickly filled up and I needed more space. I tried deleting the Mavericks partition and allocating the free space to Mountain Lion, but it’s not that easy. (even while running Disk Utility from an external drive). Long story short, I ended up formatting the entire SSD (including the Mountain Lion recovery partition, yikes!)

Of course I kept a backup of all my data, thanks to Apple’s Time Machine (Which I no longer recommend using, by the way). This was not the concern. The next real challenge was finding, and installing, Mountain Lion. Why does Apple make this so complicated? And why do these bugs even exist? Short answer – OS X developers at Apple don’t support or think in the mind of the minority; most users would never notice the bugs and complications in Mavericks that we geeks (ahem, power users) do.

A persistent banner ad seen in the Mac App Store. Apple is encouraging all users to upgrade to Mavericks as soon as possible.

A persistent banner ad seen in the Mac App Store. Apple is encouraging all users to upgrade to Mavericks as soon as possible.

Rushing to download and install Mavericks back in October, I copied the installer onto the same SD card that Mountain Lion was on, replacing and deleting 10.8 forever. Installing via SD card was out of the question.  :-(

No problem, I can just download Mountain Lion from the App Store like I did last year? Wrong again – it’s not longer available in the Mac App Store and shows an error when attempting to download. At this point, I’m quite frustrated.

After a vast amount of searching, I found a clean copy of Mountain Lion on a popular torrent website. 1.5 hours and 4.5 gigabytes later, I inspected the installer package to notice it was completely mangled so I don’t recommend trying this. I ended up purchasing an Apple Mac Developer account, solely for the purpose of downloading an old OS. Apple provides many past versions of OS X and iOS to developers who want to test their app for previous generation products. Continue reading

Photoshop Alternative: Pixelmator for Mac

I’ve been using Photoshop for years. I began using it on the PC and then purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements when I started to use Mac OS X. Recently, during the time I began designing websites and taking more photographs, I realized Photoshop Elements (Version 6) just wasn’t providing the tools and simplicity I needed. I wanted to edit photos and design basic web elements with ease.

Three months ago, a friend recommend PixelMator, an easy-to-use, powerful image editing application for Mac OS X. I decided to check it out that day and have been using it ever since. PixelMator provides everything I need from basic photo editing to graphic design.  

Pixelmator uses Core Image and OpenGL technologies that use the Mac’s video card for image processing. By doing a bit of research, I found out that Pixelmator graphic editing software was actually built upon a combination of open source and Mac OS X technologies such as ImageMagick, Automator, Cairo, and Sparkle.

PixelMator has many great features, here are a few:

  • Supports Photoshop images with layers and over 100 other file types
  • 16 colour correction tools
  • More then 50 filters
  • Over 20 tools for painting, cropping, typing, etc
  • Quick file conversions and exports
  • Supports Mac OS X ColorSync and profiles
  • Support for OS X Lion features such as versions, auto save, full screen mode, etc

The full version of PixelMator costs just $29.99, a great price for such an amazing app. PixelMator allows you to do most things that you could do in Photoshop.  With the Mac App Store’s “buy once, install on all Macs” system, purchasing this application is a no brainer. I encourage you to download the trial (or full version) today!

Try the newest version of PixelMator free for 30 days: http://www.pixelmator.com/try/
Continue reading

Blackberry PlayBook Review

The Blackberry PlayBook went on sale in Canada for $300 off. I decided it was time to try out a tablet that wasn’t from the company who makes the leading tablet, Apple.

In the past, I had the iPad 2 so my standards are already quite high for a tablet. The Blackberry Playbook, although I had some problems at the beginning, is quite impressive.

Just because a tablet or even computer has better specifications then another doesn’t mean it is better or more useful. Many tablets exist with much betters specs then the BlackBerry PlayBook. I don’t want to base this review on a comparison of the Playbook and the iPad 2 but just for your information, here is how the Playbook specs compare.

iPad 2 BlackBerry PlayBook
Screen 9.7″ LED 1024 x 768 7″ LCD 1024 x 600
Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB
Camera – Front VGA 30fps 5MP
Camera – Back 720p 30 fps 1080p
Weight 1.33lbs 0.9lbs
Battery 25-watt-hour 5300mAh
Price (CAD) Wifi 16GB $519, Wifi 32GB $619, Wifi 64GB $719,3G 16GB $649, 3G 32GB $749, 3G 64GB $849 16GB $199 ($499), 32GB $299 ($599), 64GB $399 ($699)
Processor Apple A5 1Ghz dual core ARM Cortex A9 1GHz dual core
Memory 512mb (unconfirmed by Apple) 1GB
Current support for Adobe Flash No Yes
Apps Too many Not enough

The BlackBerry PlayBook is positioned as a consumer device that offers the features necessary to appeal to RIM’s enterprise/business customers.

First boot setup

It took me about 2 hours to setup the PlayBook as an update I did bricked the device. This is quite unusual and doesn’t happen with many people. I think I’ll save this for another blog post.

Note: after I fixed up the software update, everything began running smoothly. Don’t let this stop you from purchasing a PlayBook.
Continue reading

Budget Gadgets Review

BudgetGadgets has been in the online retail/wholesale business since 2003. They sell exactly what it sounds like, gadgets and electronics, at a very low price. There are many great looking products on their website and I must say, I’ve been very impressed with the products I’ve purchased and received to review.


Budget Gadgets
Website

First I’ll begin by telling you about their great website. There are many categories for different types of electronics, gadgets, and you can also look through their product listings by searching in price categories.

$0 – $1.99, $2 – $4.99, $5 – $9.99, $10 – $14.99, $15 – $19.99, $20 or more

Their website has a very simple and easy to navigate website. There are links on the main page to daily deals, Facebook page, Twitter, and much more.

Shipping

Shipping for any quantity of items to any location in the world is free. For most of the packages BudgetGadgets uses Airmail service by HongKong Post or Singapore Post, which usually takes 7-16 working days to arrive to most of countries.

I live in Ontario, Canada, that’s more then 12,000km away from where BudgetGadgets is in Shenzen, China. I receive my order in 10 days or sooner. Shipping is great and what more can you expect for free?

For orders over 200USD they use EMS or DHL with an online tracking number. There’s no extra charge for express shipping and they usually arrive in 3 – 5 working days.

DropShipping is also available. For more information, visit their information page. http://www.budgetgadgets.com/info.php?sub=DropShipping

Packaging

Every product I have received is packaged very well. Nothing ever gets damaged during shipping. It’s obvious that BudgetGadgets puts a lot of work into packaging. All products, including cables, manuals, and disks are wrapped very neatly. What’s worse then having a damaged product show up at your home?

Products

BudgetGadgets is always releasing new products for sale. Currently, they have everything from toy games to $300 Android tablets. The selection is amazing and there is something for everyone. BudgetGadgets is a great place to purchase gifts and seasonal items also.

Affiliates

BudgetGadgets affiliate program allows you to generate revenue for every purchase made that comes from your business or non-business channels.

You can add links to your site and access reports online so you can see how well you’re doing. This program is free to join. You earn 5% commission for any sales you make. If you refer someone and they don’t make a purchase right away, then when they revisit and purchase an item, you will automatically be credited with the sale, as long as it occurs within 180 days of the original visit.

I have been using the affiliate program since it was created and I am very happy. I have had a positive expierence with BudgetGadgets Affiliate program. My referral link: http://www.budgetgadgets.com/index.php?ref=247

Coupon

You can save 5% by using the coupon code: techzany at http://BudgetGadgets.com. Save 5% on anything and everything you buy from their online store.

Giveaway! 

A $20 coupon code for BudgetGadgets.com will be  given away to one of you on November 14th.  

How to Enter:

 – Follow @TechZany and @BudgetGadgets

 -Tweet this: ”  I just entered the @TechZany @BudgetGadgets $20 coupon #giveaway #TZBG20 bit.ly/bgtzgive “

 – One entry per person 

On November 14th, I’ll do a search for #TZBG20 on Twitter and see who entered. Then I’ll use a number generator to randomly choose one, if you followed all rules, you will be notified through Twitter to e-mail me.

Thanks to BudgetGadgets for doing this giveaway! Good Luck!

Conclusions

BudgetGadgets sells great products at an amazing low price with free shipping. All products are packaged nicely and are delivered to your home / store within about 2 weeks. BG also has a one year warranty on most products and a 30 day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Save 5% by using the coupon code techzany when checking out. If you have any other questions on replacements, warranty, etc, you should be able to find your answers on their FAQ page or you can e-mail them.

BudgetGadgets is not a scam website and is very trustworthy.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to BudgetGadgets.com now and purchase yourself some new gadgets.

 

All giveaway details are subject to change without notice. You must follow all rules 
to be eligible to enter. One winner will be randomly choosen on or around November
14th. $20 coupon is a discount for the online web store and has no cash value.

Bracketron

Bracketron is the industry leader in universal mounting solutions and accessories for many of today’s most popular mobile and handheld technologies, including GPS, smart phone, cell phone, MP3, satellite radio, laptop and netbook.

In 2001, when Bracketron began, their first product was the Custom Bezel Mount which was engineered for the professional installer of mobile electronics. Consumer response was very strong and pointed them in the direction of selling products aimed at consumers for home & office use.

Since then, Bracketron has broadened their product line to include a variety of flexible mounting options designed to extend the use of the device and enhance the overall user experience.

I was sent a couple Bracketron products to review and had a lot of fun testing them out. In fact, I use their products everyday. I am very glad I have them.

Bracketron puts a lot of thought into the design of their products. The products have a very nice design and are meant to work for a long time without needing to replace them.

I wouldn’t say Bracketron uses the highest quality materials to assemble their products but that only costs more money. The prices are all very affordable and worth it for what you get.

Although they don’t all carry the complete product line, you can order a lot of the Bracketron products from other retailers and distributors. Products are available around the world and can even be purchased directly from their website.

If you’re looking for a stand, mount, or bracket, for your mobile device, Bracketron has something that will suit your need.

If you are interested in purchasing a product, use the coupon code ‘ techzany ‘ at Bracketron.com to save 10%.

Below, I give a short review of each of the products I was sent.

MobileDock Desk Mount (White) Coming Soon!

Use the coupon code ‘ techzany ‘ to save 10%

The MobileDock allows you to mount your mobile devices to any hard surface, desk, counter, wall or glass for easy viewing and accessibility.

The suction cup mount and device cradle have an adhesive-free grip that mounts to most hard surfaces and leaves no residue. Installation and removal is very easy. The MobileDock easily pivots and rotates for multiple viewing angles.

I am very happy with this product. It sits on my desk, displaying my iPhone in style.

This product will be available for purchase very soon.

iTilt

$19.95

Use the coupon code ‘ techzany ‘ to save 10%

The iTilt is the perfect portable desktop stand for your iPad. The ultra-slim iTilt holds your iPad in portrait or landscape modes and has eight convenient viewing angles.

The nonslip feet and protective corners keep the iPad securely in place while you work. The iTilt folds flat for easy portability from room to room or when traveling.

I love the iTilt. It sits on my desk displaying my iPad while I can always just fold it up and go. The iTilt can even securely hold your iPad while it is in a case, some stands do not allow this. Your device would fall over with similar stands if it had a case on it. The iTilt is suitable for the iPad or iPad 2. Other tablet computers may fit depending on the size and weight.

13″ Laptop Stand (Universal)

$9.95  [clearance item]  

Use the coupon code ‘ techzany ‘ to save 10%

This large laptop stand is ideal for keeping your laptop cooler.

The 8 adjustable elevating positions – from 0° – 45°, help promote airflow for enhanced laptop performance and is ideal for customizing the viewing angle. The swivelling base rotates 360° making it very convenient to use on even the smallest of desktops.

This item is on clearance and won’t be available for long. Get it now while it’s at a great price. 

This laptop stand is one of the best I’ve used. It is very simple, portable, and even rotates. Keeping my laptop cool is a great thing to do while also having the keyboard at a nicer angle. This is the stand I use for my laptop no matter where I am.

X-Type Netbook & iPad Stand

$19.95

Use the coupon code ‘ techzany ‘ to save 10%

The Netbook & iPad Desktop Stand has five adjustable elevating positions from 0° – 45°, to help promote airflow for enhanced Netbook performance and is also great for customizing the viewing angle. This light weight Netbook & iPad Desktop Stand folds flat making it easy to carry and store.

The benefit of using this product is that it is so durable and also very portable. It fits nicely into a small place but can really be a laptop , tablet, device stand of any size. The customizable heigh and width is great. I’d recommend this stand for anyone who is doing a lot of travelling but likes a nice portable stand.

Take a look at the Bracketron Blog for all the latest news.

If you are interested in purchasing a product, to save 10%, use the coupon code ‘ techzany ‘ at Bracketron.com.