Category Archives: Gadgets & Tools

A Tale Of Two Drones

Mavic Mini and Eachine E58

I always wanted to get a drone. Over the last few months I have had plenty of time on my hands and took the opportunity to learn something new. So I went ahead and got two drones.  A not very expensive Eachine E58 to learn and practice with and a not so inexpensive Mavic Mini.

The Eachine cost under $75 so if it crashed (which it did several times) it was not a crushing loss. It is very durable and was able to fly again even after quite a few mishaps. It was O.K. in light wind but became unstable in higher winds. If I knew then what I know now I would have spent a little more and gotten the GPS option. But not having GPS really improved my skills.

Eachine E58 Pocket Drone

After feeling more confident with my piloting skills I went ahead and purchased a DJI Mavic Mini with the Fly More option which includes multiple batteries  a charging pack, prop guards and a nifty carrying case. Although not a commercial level drone it is certainly not a toy. This package cost just under $500.

DJI Mavic Mini
DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Package

Flying this drone is a pleasure even in pretty high wind. Very stable and responsive to the controls. Both photos and videos are of very high quality and add a whole new dimension to digital photography.

Sunrise Out Our Back Door
Maui’s Pali Coast

In the process of learning these new skills I discovered that there is a whole culture surrounding these photography tools. There are quite a few lucrative commercial applications for skilled pilots, these include: real estate photography, outdoor home inspections, construction site surveying, wedding photography and more. To fly commercially you need to obtain a special license.

If you would like to get into this, there are plenty of YouTube training videos as well as high end professional training.

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2017 Ford Edge Titanium

High Tech On Four Wheels

With a little bit of trepidation we traded in our F-150 pickup for a 2017 Ford Edge Titanium SUV. Our needs changed and so it goes.

We had an Edge back in 2011 but this year’s model is a whole different animal. It has more technology than I usually like but after living with this SUV for a few weeks I have come to appreciate some of the cool features.

One of the features that I  initially liked the least was the “Intelligent Key Access System and Push Button Start.” I now like this feature the best. Your digital key can be in your pocket. But if you are within 2 feet of the door you can open it and once you enter the driver’s cabin you can start up with the push of a button and go.

edge-interior
Ceramic Leather Interior

Our Edge also has a towing package with the extra heavy duty stuff that comes along with that option and 20″ wheels for extra height.

The 3.5 liter V6 produces about 280hp which is plenty for this type of SUV.

3.5L V6
3.5L V6

The handling is firm but not harsh and the new “Synch3” touchscreen is a big improvement over previous versions.

Synch3 Touchscreen
Synch3 Touchscreen

So far this ride has exceeded our expectations.

For more info go to: www.ford.com

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Epson FastFoto FF-640

 Preserving Your Priceless Memories

So, you’ve accumulated thousands of photos over the years and some of them are starting to deteriorate. What are you gonna do? Well one thing you can do is digitize your precious memories with this Epson FastFoto scanner. It can scan up to 60 photos per minute front and back. If you have writing on the back it will copy that text and automatically name the photo accordingly. You can also scan panoramics.

It comes with a software suite that allows for automatic color correction for photos that have been diminished over time. This device is so much better than a flatbed scanner. It ain’t cheap, $550-650 is the going price. But, it is so fast that I think it is well worth the money.

You can learn more at:

www.epson.com

 

FF-640
Epson FastFoto FF-640

·    Up to 60 ppm/60 ipm monochrome and color  speed

·       USB 2.0 interface

·       Duplex scanning

·       48-bit color

·       80-sheets ADF (auto document feeder)

Check it out!

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RainSong Guitars

 I have been playing guitar for quite a few years now and have owned many different guitars. I stopped playing electric guitars years ago and now have two acoustic guitars and a ukulele. One of those guitars is a wahine slack key tuned Guild, which was the first really good guitar I ever owned. That was back in 1970 (she’s 46 years old). The  other is a RainSong  WS1000, my basic rockabilly instrument.

I first encountered this beautiful and unusual RainSong guitar while on The Big Island. I stopped into a music store and saw this guitar hanging on the wall. The store owner asked if I would like to play and handed the guitar to me.

The sound was amazing! But I couldn’t wrap my head around a carbon fiber guitar. After all, a fine guitar had to be made of fine wood. Right? I thought anything else was sacreligious. Over the years I sampled this guitar whenever I was in a shop that carried  RainSong. I didn’t know that I was falling in love. And then the day came for me to take the bride home.

The complete review follows.

Rainsong Pers View
RainSong WS1000

Excerpted from a review written by Guy Little August 17, 2015

Unedited

RainSong Guitars began on the Hawaiian island of Maui when a fledgling classical guitarist John Decker witnessed a torrential downpour while attending a wedding. The guitar player performing for the guests had a bit of a dilemma: carry on playing and risk being drenched by the tropical shower, which would cause irreversible damage to his treasured guitar, or run for cover and risk the wrath of the bride. That day, John Decker was inspired to create a new kind of instrument, one that would play beautifully while enduring life’s summers and winters, bumps and bruises – and, well, most things life could throw at it (save for, say, a brick).

The instrument that John Decker created became the world’s first all-graphite guitar, known as theRainSong guitar (get it?), and it now comes in all shapes and sizes, from a parlour travel guitar to a boom box of a dreadnought. But that’s about where the similarities to a conventional guitar ends – these instruments are packed with forward-thinking technology that means you could submerge it into the Arctic ocean and it’d still sing beautifully for you. Or, if you fancy, you could drag it through the Sahara strumming it on the back of a camel without worrying about the neck warping or soundboard splitting.

Since the mid-’90s, RainSong guitars has been building high-end graphite guitars that deliver a clear, balanced tone while remaining unaffected by humidity and temperature changes – for this reason alone these guitars were/are a big hit with travelling guitarists. Along the way, the company, now based in Washington State, USA, has refined its designs and construction techniques, notably developing apatented Projection Tuned Layering process that allows the body to be built with no bracing whatsoever – and let me tell you, this takes a little getting used to. Just don’t look inside the soundhole; it’s a trippy and uncomfortable experience. Not because it’s some wormhole to a Manchester nightclub in the ‘90s, but because it just doesn’t seem right without any kerfing or soundboard braces. Continue reading RainSong Guitars

Bohm Bluetooth Headphones

So, I am going through a bunch of boxes in the garage and come upon a box marked headphones. In this box is another, unopened box of Bohm Bluetooth headphones. Now, I think they were won at some event, but no matter.

As soon as I opened the box I could see that these headphones were very high quality. I paired them with my smart phone and started listening to some music. WOW! What great sound.

Everything about these headphones is outstanding including the quality of phone calls which are easy to answer. The controls are simple and tactile.

Click on the picture below to learn more about this great product!

Bohm
                Bohmaudio.com

Peace!

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2016 Beetle 1.8T SE

We were considering getting a used PT Cruiser and tricking it out to our own specifications with custom paint, wire wheels and the whole nine yards. Looking at the used car ads we thought that this was pretty much a done deal.

The next day we were out and about driving on the Loop 101 in Arizona when we spotted a cool looking VW Beetle. Now, we never really considered getting a “Bug” but just for the hell of it, we stopped by the VW dealer near our house just to take a look and maybe pick up a brochure or two. We had our dog Teddi with us and didn’t plan on staying very long.

We were offered a test drive but didn’t really expect much from the little “Bug”.  Putting the pedal to the metal the little thing really took off with impressive acceleration thanks to the turbo charged 4 cylinder engine. The braking wasn’t too shabby either.

2016 1.8 T Engine
1.8T Engine

Two hours later we drove a new black Beetle with a beige leatherette interior off the lot.

2016 VW Interior
Beige Leatherette Interior

We usually drive a big Ford F-150 truck so, this was a pretty big change to say the least. But it took only a day to fall in love with this car. Kinda like gettin’ a new puppy.

I still love the room and heft of my big Ford truck but the “Bug” is so much fun to drive around town. It has a pretty good sound system and nice little touches that I wouldn’t have expected from such a small car.  Kathy has pretty much taken over ownership, but I steal it away every chance I get.

Gotta go run some errands. See ya!

Peace

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Epson Eco Tank Printer

 

In our business we tend to print quite a few documents in both black and color. Lately, ink costs have been getting out of hand, about $100 per month. For our small business this is a lot.  So, we decided to look at some alternatives. We looked at laser printers and found that the color reproduction just wasn’t as good as an ink jet. In doing some research we stumbled upon the Epson Eco Tank printer.

This is an ink jet printer that uses ink tanks instead of ink cartridges. One fill up will produce about 11,000 black prints and 8,500 color prints. This sounded pretty unbelievable.

Ink
Ink Refills 

Doing the math, we figured out that it would take about 50 ink cartridges to equal the output of one tank fill up. This calculation showed a savings of 70-80%.

The initial investment is a little steep depending on the retailer. We found the retail cost to be in the mid to upper $400 range. If your print volume is about 300 pages per month, the initial investment should amortize in about 9-10 months and you still won’t need to buy ink for another couple of years.

This printer has complete wireless capability and you can print from your phone, tablet and computer.

I liked this printer so much that I contacted the company that represents Epson printers. They hired me to represent the product in various retail stores.

Who knew?

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