Category: Gear

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I am a Pixel Owner, Once More

May 8, 2024. In my news feed, several tech blogs spotlighted Google Store’s sudden, shocking trade-in offer for Pixel Tablet: Up to $399—equivalent to the price of the 128GB variant—in exchange for one of many, many iPad models. Free plus sales tax is a rather compelling offer.

The device launched a year earlier, making so little positive impression that I ordered two Samsung Galaxy tabs—one for my wife and another for me. Pixel Tablet looks even more inferior than 12 months ago, coming right as Apple released new iPads packing M4 chips. But they do cost mountains of cash more. Got an organ to sell? Kidneys fetch a good return, I hear.

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Yikes! Two Galaxy S24 Series Smartphones are in the House

Yesterday, UPS delivered the Galaxy S24 and S24 Ultra, which I preordered from Samsung on Jan. 17, 2024. My wife and I each chose one of the three exclusive colors; she moves up from the S22 and I from S23 Ultra. The South Korean manufacturing conglomerate offered generous $450 trade-in value for her phone and $750 for mine. Combined with other discounts and incentives, which includes double storage, my out-of-pocket spend for the new model is less than the older one. For hers, I paid less than the discount given for the trade-in.

Last night, right before going to bed, I finally opened the box for a peak and a shock. Titanium Green wasn’t as strong a color as I expected. Oddly, the Featured Image and companion—even taken with Leica Q2—isn’t representative. The green isn’t as faint or pastel as you see but not really far from it.

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It’s Digital Time

About a month ago, I received a steroid shot in my left hand to treat trigger finger; the middle digit wouldn’t close-fisted and clicked with a spine-chilling popping sound when extended. While technically a righty, I primarily use my left hand to open jars, turn doorknobs, and hold Galaxy S23 Ultra, among many other activities. I worried about the affliction leading to a calamity: dropping the smartphone, which is carried caseless.

So when Samsung offered generous, $150 trade-in for my Apple Watch Series 5—wasting away unused—on top of steep holiday discount for Galaxy Watch6 Classic, I ordered one. The smartwatch arrived today. To be clear, I love my no-nonsense, distraction-free Luminox Automatic Sport Timer 0921 and will not completely retire it: Digital by day, analog by night.

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Ode to Chromebook

I scouted Best Buy today, wanting to see just how humungous is Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. Unfortunately, the slab was strapped down such that handling was impossible—so I couldn’t assess size considerations that matter, like balance in the hands. Do anti-theft measures really need to be so punitive to purchasing?

On the way to the considerably reduced Samsung section (oh, it was grand before the recent store redesign), I passed the Chromebooks, stopping to awe and to gape at them. Not long ago, one might find as many as a half-dozen of the laptops crammed onto a single, tiny table. Wow, three! I counted 17 Chromebooks, all spaciously placed, too. Meaning: There’s room for more, and I don’t doubt they’re coming. The retailer’s website lists 97 items, not all of them discrete SKUs; some are bundles with extras like mesh routers or Pixel Buds.

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Hello Samsung, Goodbye SanDisk

During Black Friday week 2022, I bought from Amazon several SanDisk SSDs—2TB Extreme Pro. The discounted selling price is even lower this year. But I have decided to retire all. My experience with the drives is nothing short of satisfaction. But throughout 2023, I have read numerous blogs, forum posts, and news stories about SanDisk drive failures resulting in loss of data. Every time I connect Extreme Pro to my laptop, I am nagged by feeling of playing Russian Roulette.

Consider this chilling headline from PetaPixel, in August: “SanDisk Portable SSDs Are Failing So Frequently, We Can No Longer Recommend Them“. Or this one from The Verge: “We just lost 3TB of data on a SanDisk Extreme SSD“, with dek “My colleague Vjeran is furious”. The big bombshell, just 10 days ago: “SanDisk Extreme Pro Failures Result From Design and Manufacturing Flaws, Says Data Recovery Firm” (Tom’s Hardware re-reporting from German Site FutureZone).

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Mug Me

I cannot say for certain that we still still possess the Android Collectible, but the coffee cup is here and it used almost every day. The Featured Image comes from Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Vitals: f/2.75, ISO […]

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Power Outage!

Quite literally, as I hit the button to post about cats Firecracker and Dynamite, lights flickered and went out. That was 6:41 a.m. PDT today. Power would remain out for us and others in portions of San Diego neighborhoods Hillcrest, Normal Heights, and (here) in University Heights until 5 p.m. sharp.

The SDGE outage alert in my customer portal at first estimated utility restoration at 8 a.m., then 9 a.m., then 2 p.m., then 3 p.m., and finally 6 p.m. We prepared for an evening in darkness and possible food spoilage in the refrigerator and freezer.

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My New Backpack

With hours to spare, on the final day, I took advantage of REI’s big member-discount event. I placed the order on March 27, 2023 and received it on the 31st. As our daughter undergoes rehabilitation, more of my time will go to traveling—and, occasionally, hanging out waiting. I hadn’t carried a backpack in years, and time had arrived to start doing so again.

As you can see from the Featured Image and companion, I chose the Urban Assault 21, which manufacturer Mystery Ranch says is “inspired by military assault rucksacks; this versatile daypack is the epitome of clean, functional design. Featuring our three-zip closure, it makes accessing pack contents as easy as one, two, three”.

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I Tipped Over the Apple Cart

During December 1998, I walked into CompUSA and walked out with my first Apple computer, the original Bondi Blue iMac. Appropriate timing, perhaps, December 2022 brought that chapter of my digital lifestyle to a close. I have moved on from the company that Steve Jobs’ vision built and which Tim Cook turned into an empire.

Since that winter’s day 24 years earlier, I primarily used fruit-logo hardware, despite additionally running Windows PCs for many years (since Microsoft was my beat as a reporter). The biggest gap came with my enthusiasm for Chromebook, starting in 2011 and 12. If Google still sold something as luxurious as the Pixel or LS successor, I likely would be typing on a Chromebook now.

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Not Hello, But Goodbye

My 16.2-inch MacBook Pro—Apple M1 Max chip with 10-core CPU and 32-core GPU; 32GB unified memory; 1TB SSD—is gone. This morning, an associate professor and his wife purchased the laptop, which will become her go-to machine for video production. The monster machine will be missed.

On Christmas, parents bought my wife’s 13.3-inch MBP for their college student son. Same day, our daughter inherited my iPhone 13 Pro, which gift I already regret giving because of bad behavior on her part this evening (You don’t need to know, but I do need to remember). Samsung gave great trade-in amount for Annie’s smartphone. She and I now own the Galaxy S22 and S22 Ultra, respectively.

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Great Galaxy!

I don’t believe in the multiverse, but let’s pretend for the sake of narrative. In one reality, my wife and I continue to use the iPhone 13 Pro pair purchased in early autumn 2021. In another, we upgraded to the 14 models released this year. Along another path, we bought Google Pixel 7 for her and Pro for me. But in this here and now, we are unexpected owners of Samsung Galaxy S22 and its, considerably larger, Ultra sibling.

The saga starts with an insane crisis beleaguering our daughter, where, because of incompetence and mischief, she got locked out of her iPad, iPhone, and MacBook Air—and iCloud account! About a month later, and many Apple support calls or Genius Bar visits, she has regained use of the handset and notebook; iCloud is irrevocably lost, or so seems situation as I write. Someone, and she doesn’t recall being that person, activated recovery key, which my daughter does not have. Without it, Apple Support agents continually say she cannot regain access to her iCloud identity. Ah, yeah.

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Last Millennium Computing

Every day is a surprise when walking San Diego alleys. Perhaps you remember the art gallery, big face clockfamily roomrustic mirror, rusty typewriter, Seventies stove, snowboarding boots, Victorian-style sofa, or Vitamaster Slendercycle, among many odd items left for scavengers. But today’s sighting flushed up memories. I owned one of these.

Apple released the PowerMac G3 (Blue and White) in 1999, which makes it oh-so last Century. Among the innovations: The side opened out, revealing the innards and opportunity to make modest upgrades (hey, emphasis modest because proprietary is the company’s calling card). In the Featured Image, and companion, the blue circle above the Apple logo is the release latch.