Acer C720P Chromebook Review: Worth Paying a Premium For

Acer C720P Chromebook in Moonstone White

Chromebooks have become a thing of late — they’re about the only segment of the computer industry that’s seeing growth these days — and it’s easy to see why. Attraction number one is that they’re cheap without having to deal with the tiny display of a netbook or the hassle of using a Bluetooth keyboard with a tablet. But cheap means compromises and I haven’t been a big Chromebook fan. I think they could make a good choice for a student, a second home PC and some business applications, but the inability to run desktop software plus some hardware choices (in the name of keeping costs down) have left me feeling pretty “meh” about using them. However, I just wrapped up a week with an Acer C720P Chromebook and I think these devices are finally starting to gel. Continue reading

Second Chance: Austin Grossman’s YOU — Paperback Edition

YOU Hardback

On April 8, 2014, Austin Grossman’s novel, YOU, will be released in paperback. I’m very excited about this news because I’m such a fan of the book, and now many more readers will be able to enjoy Grossman’s fictional account of Black Arts Games and its Realms of Gold computer game series (with major nods to Ultima and other famous 90s titles). For anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s when computers and computer games were making some incredible strides in music, graphics, and storytelling, the book is likely to fire up some fun memories of a dozen or more games that you likely played or encountered. It’s a fictional tale, yes, but the games and characters in the story could easily have been as real as Zork or Rogue or Ultima and the game designers behind those famous titles. Continue reading

Help for Crowdfunding Addicts

Kickstarter profile

Do you spend money on things and then forget that you’ve purchased them until they arrive on your doorstep? Do you frequently pester your family, friends, and even total strangers to patronize the arts? Does your heart beat a little faster at the mention of unfinished prototypes?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you may be suffering from turbafiscitis. Fortunately, there’s a solution! Continue reading

Turning Off The Conair CD108 Infiniti Curling Iron Via Email

Problem - Solution

My wife sometimes leaves things plugged in and turned on. Dangerous things. Like her curling iron. It’s not unheard-of for her to be a couple miles down the road, heading out to run some errands with the boys in the back seat all buckled in. “Did I leave the curling iron on?” she wonders. This problem called for a drastic solution. A solution that would justify four years of engineering school. A problem that so many of us geek spouses wait 20, 30, or even 40 years of marriage to encounter… and then take down with extreme prejudice. Continue reading

How to Bring Deadly Poison into the Classroom

Design: Rick Pinchera, Copyright WGBH 2014

Much as I’ve been writing here about other people, I also make stuff for kids so I’m sharing one of those projects today. I just produced a digital graphic novel, Tales from the Poisoner’s Handbook. It’s an adaptation of Deborah Blum’s book about poison that WGBH recently turned into an American Experience film. In other words, it’s a comic of the film of the book, and this version is designed to engage teenagers in forensic chemistry. Continue reading

GeekDad Review: HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote for iPhone

Hisy header

I’m not big on the whole selfie thing, but there are many occasions when I like to get into the picture for group shots with my family and friends. If we planned things ahead, a proper camera on a tripod with a timer is the usual method for capturing the moments. Spontaneous shots are more likely to be on one of our iPhones. There are self-timer apps available for these siutations, but I think HISY has come up with a much more useful solution: the HISY Bluetooth Camera Remote for iPhone. Continue reading

Ponder on Your Device Cables

Color Cables

The cables we use to charge our devices probably aren’t given much thought until we can’t find them. They’re there… they work. If you’re like me, you probably think that there’s just not much room for improvement when it comes to these cables, right? Well, the folks at Color Cables proved me wrong. Continue reading

Which is Better for Reading? An E-Reader or a Small Tablet?

tablets and e-readers

Only five years ago this wasn’t a question anyone would ask. Pre iPad, the Kindle and Sony Reader were pretty much the only game in town for digital reading devices. The iPad changed things in 2010, but those early tablets were big and expensive. The real competition between traditional E Ink e-readers and and tablets for consuming the “printed” word didn’t happen until Android tablets went to 7-inches to do an end run around Apple’s domination. Suddenly tablets were roughly the same size as e-readers and not a whole lot more expensive. That resulted in predictions that tablets would doom the the dedicated e-reader the same way smartphones were killing the point-and-shoot pocket camera. The e-reader isn’t dead yet, but should it be? Which is better for digital reading, an e-reader or a small tablet? Continue reading

Man vs. Machine: Ping Pong Champ Wins One for Humanity

Ping Pong Duel

There is heartening news for pro-humanity partisans. In at least one field of endeavor, human beings still reign supreme over our would-be robot overlords. A human ping pong champion has triumphed over an agile robot. But how long will it be before robots surpass us in every field, and what sort of world will that create for our grandkids? Continue reading