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An alternative to traditional food sealers

Years ago, I thought I would give one of those food sealers to try.  You know, the ones where you put whatever you want to save in a plastic bag, which the air is then sucked out of, and the bag is heat sealed with a special machine.  Unfortunately, I was less than thrilled.  First, the sealer didn’t seem to really suck the air out that well, and then, once you open the bag, but you could refill it with the heat sealer, it was a real pain in the neck. It ended up costing quite a bit, especially in wasted plastic. 

Recently, I started getting a weekly box of farm direct veggies.  I realized that I wasn’t able to use all of them and ended up having to throw out a bunch because they would go bad before I could really store them properly. So, I started looking at getting another food sealer.  The only problem was my memory of my first experience. Then I discovered that Foodsaver, one of the more popular manufacturers of these things, makes an interesting alternative that’s cheaper and allows you to reuse the bags.  First, it has zippered bags with special valves on them.  Then, there is a vacuum pump which fits on this valve and sucks out all the air.  You put in the items you wish to save, make sure the bag is it tight, and then use the vacuum pump and viola la,  you got basically the same thing you can do with one of the heat sealing machines.   The difference is, if you want to use something from the bag, you just open it up like any other zippered bag, take out what you want, then reseal it and use the vacuum pump again.  Easy Peasy!!!  The vacuum pump is known as the Foodsaver FreshSaver handheld vacuum sealer, and The zippered vacuum sealer bags are available in quart and gallon sizes.  The pump is about $20, while the bags run about $10 for a box.  So far, I’m very impressed!

Crowd funding is for gamblers…

I’ve been a huge fan of crowd funding since I “invested” in my first product, the now well known Pebble Watch, which communicates with my iPhone through bluetooth and notifies me of phone calls, messages, and even the temp and weather using one of my favorite apps.  

The process was simple.  I committed to $110 and, when it went into production, I would get one of the first watches off the line.  Yes, the watch was delayed…by 6 months, and no there weren’t many faces or apps when it came out.  But, all in all it worked great and has grown to earn it’s place on my wrist.  

Only a month after I gof my Pebble, a new watch, named the Kreyos Meteor, appeared on Indiegogo and it promised even more.  And it would have both a speaker and a microphone it it.  Like my Pebble, it would notify me of calls but I could actually answer them on the watch.  It also had a wide range of sensors and matching software for tracking movement and all kinds of other cool things.  So, I made a committment to it.  Like the pebble, it didn’t come out by December of 2013 as promised but I finally got mine just a week ago in August of 2014.  No big deal.  

Accept, the watch is DEFINITELY not what I had hoped.  First, there was no manual or guide what so ever.  Then, the blueooth connection is very unstable and doesn’t communicate with the app designed to control the watch over half the time.  The control buttons on it are also very stiff and difficult to use and, for all I can tell, none of the multitude of sensors works.  Finally,and most depressing, though I did get the watch to talk to my iPhone, the sound quality from it’s speaker is so bad that I can’t understand even Siri.  

Yes, there will be software updates to the watch (though installing them is a crap shoot).  But, the problems with the speaker (which apparently everbody is having) is a hardware one.  Additionally, the buttons may loosen up with time, but it’s still very confusing.  Sadly, this is an example of a product that was a good idea but maybe not ready for prime time.

Guy Kawasaki, former product evangelist for the Macintosh computer, wrote a book once names, “Rules for Revolutionaries”.  In it, one of his bits of advice was when it came to getting a product to market, “Don’t worry, be crappy!”  He spoke of the original Mac.  Though a revolutionary computer, it had too little memory, wasn’t exactly fast, and was generally agreed to be something that was not exacly “ready for prime time”.  I know because I bought one and, though it started a love affair that continues to this day, it was anything but perfect.  But Apple knew that Microsoft was scrambling to get the first version of Windows out and, if they didn’t push the Mac out the door, MS would dominate…even though the first version of windows was AWFUL!!!   

Sadly, in the case of the Kreyos, though they are the only watch with voice link, there are lots of other watches on the market now that are better (the Pebble included) because they are easier to use and actually work.  And this fall, in all probability, Apple will introduce the iWatch (sic) and the rest will be history.  

Do I feel cheated like so many other Kreyos owners who are already clamoring for full refunds.  I can only reply with a resounding NO!   When you committ to a product that has never been created before, you’ve got to accept you are taking chances. Not everything will work beautifully.  Will Kreyos be able to fix my watch?  I sincerely doubt it.  I think the problems with the speaker in particular are too severe to be a simple software fix.  Do I feel I deserve a refund?   No, because I knew what I was getitng myself into.  BUT, I would like a discount on a new version of the watch when things are fixed, if they survive.  They had a good idea but it ended up being “too crappy” on intial introduction (to use a phrase from Guy)

The moral of the story is to realize that when you invest in a product through Kickstarter or Indiegogo or any of the crowdfunding websites, you need to realize that you are basically rolling the dice that this wonderful new technology will be what it promises to be.  You are basically gambling you’ll get what you want.  And, if you are not a gambling man (or woman), then you shouldn’t click that pledge button.  

Welcome to the WordPress Dashboard

This is the first of a series of guided tours that I’ll be giving of the WordPress blogging system, which is what I used to actually run this blog.   It’s a new feature that I’m going to be adding to my blog where I give guided tours of various different sites technologies and other things around the Internet.   I hope you enjoy it.

Click me to view the video

Ever wanted to pay with your phone or keychain?

Have you ever wished that you didn’t have to pull out your wallet, then dig around the find the right credit card to pay with?  Wouldn’t it be cool if you only had to take your cell phone, or your keychain, swipe it over the card reader and viola…your number was entered and all you had to do was sign it.  A company named LoopPay has done just that.  On other one hand, they’ve got a fob that hooks onto your keychain and can store the information of a credit card on it.  To use it, you only need to hold down on a button, then swipe it over the place where you would normally swipe your credit or debit card.  Built into it is a transmitter that will basically act like a card in the magnetic reader built into the card system.  Unlike proprietary systems that require special receivers, this will work with 90% of the readers out there.  To program the fob, you install an app on your iphone or android device, plug the fob into the audio plug, and swipe the cards you wish to store on this wallet using the ard reader built into the fob.  To load a different card into the fob, just select the card, and upload it.  

If you’d like quicker access to your cards stored in the app, as well as a charge booster for your phone, there’s  a chargecase that fits onto your phone and uses bluetooth to talk to the app.  Select a card in the app, then press the button on the side of case to swipe it over a card reader.  Viola!  Easy Peasy.  

The fob is $39, the chargecase $99.  

Regarding security, there’s a timer built into both devices that you can set.  After a period of time, in order to use the fob or case, it must be reconnected to the app.