The Legacy of Steve Jobs

I was going to write a review post today, but that will need to wait for next week.  Last night, I got the news that Steve Jobs passed away.  While I might not own any Apple devices (B has an iPod Touch that her parents gave her when they didn’t use it anymore), Steve changed the way I use computers many times.  He designed computers with graphical interfaces when needed to type in commands.  He saw a future in computer animated films and helped make Pixar what it is today.  He saw a digital future for music and pushed the music industry towards this future at a time when illegal file sharing was seen by the industry as pushing them to ruin.  He innovated in smart phones, tablet computers and many other areas.

Steve wasn’t just a technologist, though.  He had some pretty wonderful views on life in general.  Here are some quotes from a commencement speech that he gave in Stanford in June of 2005.

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Of course, for full effect, don’t just read his words, but watch and listen to them too.

Rest in Peace, Steve.  You will be remembered for changing the world for the better.

Aloha Friday: Techy Frugality

Though I’m a “techy dad”, I’m also a bit frugal.  I don’t buy technology items simply because they exist.  Rather, I see if it will be something we will use and whether it is worth the price.  For example, I would love to go out and buy an iPad 2.  I even feel a bit left out without owning one.  However, I just can’t justify spending that kind of money on something that I don’t see the use for.  Similarly, we don’t have smart phones as I can’t see spending $30 a month PER PHONE for a data plan.  That’s $720 a year that we could use for other things.

(And the fact that I’m posting this days before my birthday isn’t a hint at all. 😉 )

My Aloha Friday question for today is: Is there a piece of technology that you’d love to buy but can’t quite afford?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #98

My Walmart Father’s Day Wishlist

In case you haven’t heard, Father’s Day is coming.  Growing up, this meant buying my father a tie or similar piece of clothing.  (Techy gifts while I was growing up, either were beyond my monetary means or weren’t the kind of gift he was interested in.)  And while I appreciate a nice tie, my gift preferences usually skew towards the geeky side.  Sadly, though, we aren’t super wealthy.  I can’t afford to go out and buy every single piece of geeky

tech that makes me drool.  I need to prioritize and bargain shop and Walmart is always on my bargain shopping list.  Here, in no particular order, are some tech items that I’d love to get for Father’s Day.  All of these items were spotted during a recent stroll through our local Walmart.  They are also all available from Walmart’s Father’s Day electronics page or


Video Games:

Playing video games is fun.  Playing video games with my boys is extremely fun.  NHL, while not a master, has learned how to operate the controls nicely.  JSL wants to work it right, but just can’t figure it out yet.  I think he just needs more practice.  Which means I need to play more video games with him.  Oh the never-ending chores us dads must undertake!


Yes, we already have two Roku players.  One in our living room and one in our bedroom.  Why do we need a third, you ask?  Well, our upstairs room (used by the boys as a play room) doesn’t have one.  In fact, since it only has basic cable TV (and a DVD player but the DVDs are kept downstairs), that TV would benefit greatly from a Roku player.  Plus, the boys could rock out with Pandora in the larger play room space.

Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi iPad 2

Don’t ask me how we didn’t get a photo of this.  I drool over the thought of having an iPad to use.  Oh the web browsing I’d do.  The apps I’d download.  The Angry Birds I’d fling at green pigs.  Excuse me while I get my drool mop.

P1030319LCD Monitor

I recently inherited a desktop computer that my parents didn’t need anymore.  I want to set this up to be a print/file server, but I need a monitor.  I have two CRT monitors I could use but they are big, hulking affairs.  They work fine, but they take up so much desk space.  How much nicer would it be to have this slim number on the desk instead of the giant dinosaur?

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Walmart and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

The Repetitive Parent

“Sit Down.” “Clean Up Your Toys.” “Don’t Hit Your Brother/Sister.” “Don’t Put That There!” “How many times do I need to tell you…”

As most parents can attest, parenting can be a repetitive task.  You instruct your children to do something but, when the same situation arises soon afterwards, they don’t remember your instructions.  Instead, you need to repeat yourself.  Over and over again.

Every night for dinner, we go through the same routine.  I serve everyone their food and notice NHL is standing while eating.  He, apparently, hasn’t heard of this remarkable device that’s been invented recently called a chair.  He also doesn’t notice one right next to him.

“Sit down.” I tell him.  So he sits… with his legs pointing to the side.  This means that I can trip over his legs as I walk past and he isn’t facing the table.  The latter means crumbs on the rug.

“Put your feet facing forward,” I say.  So he complies.  Then he picks up a piece of food and eats it right over his lap.  I envision food falling down, missing his plate and the table and hitting his pants, the chair, the rug.

“Eat over the table,” I instruct.  So he does.  Until the next meal when we begin the cycle all over again.

I’ve joked about getting a sign made (and laminated) that I can just hold up.  After all, if I’m going to say the same thing over and over again, I’d like to spare my poor vocal cords.  I’ve even mocked up a sample.

Dinner Sign

During a Twitter conversation with slpowell, I mentioned this sign idea.  Then, re-reading slpowell’s original tweet that mentioned a “digital voice recorder”, I was struck by inspiration.  Instead of a printed sign (which is bulky and can only say one thing), how about one of those Staples Easy Buttons?  They only cost $5.50 at Staples and I recalled seeing instructions online as to how to hack them.

Of course, those required more work (and purchasing tools such as a Dremel) than I was willing to put into the project.  So I did the next thing that came to mind: Searched the web to see if anyone else was selling these.  Turns out, people are.  Here’s one shop that sells them for under $4.  (Shipping seems to be a flat rate of about $6.50 to me.)

Another intriguing option was this site that sells the buttons with the option of branding them.  As a bonus, this button comes with a strap (which can be used to hang the device in plain sight and yet out of the reach of little hands).  These cost $5 each.

I’m tempted to order a bunch with a “Parent Vocal Saver” logo on them and sell them online.  Would you buy such a device?

WikiReader Review and Giveaway

When I first heard about the WikiReader, I was intrigued.  Being able to browse Wikipedia locally, without any Internet access needed?  That could be very useful.  Of course, I was very excited when I got the chance to review it.

My first impression was that the WikiReader was small.  Very small.

IMGP1204 IMGP1209 IMGP1210

It doesn’t really need to be that big, though.  The whole purpose is to be a portable reference source.  Turning it on, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it is to use.  There are only four buttons: Search, History, Random and Power (located on the top of the device).  The rest of the functionality is handled by the touch-screen.  You type out search terms on the virtual keyboard, select interesting items, follow links and more by touching the screen in the appropriate spots.  Scrolling is accomplished by pressing your finger down and moving up or down.


Of course, as a reference work, Wikipedia is always being updated.  So if WikiReader just shipped Wikipedia as it existed at ship-time and didn’t give any means of updating, it would quickly become useless.  Luckily, there are two methods of updating.  Both involve the tiny memory card stored within WikiReader.


Yes, that tiny thing stores all of Wikipedia and more (which I’ll discuss soon).  The first update method is to pay $29 and receive two cards per year delivered to your home.  Pop out the old card, pop in the new card and you’re all set.  You can keep the old cards for use in other devices that use microSD cards.

The second update method is to install their free update application.  When you’re ready to update, pop the microSD card out of the WikiReader, connect it to your PC (via a card reader and/or adapter of some sort, both readily available from various stores) and run the update program.  These updates happen once per quarter so you’ll get four updates per year.

Now, for the “and more” from before.  If the WikiReader just stored Wikipedia, it would be useful, but they’re not content to rest on their laurels.  They also include Wiktionary (an online dictionary), Wikiquotes (a quotes database) and, most recently, 33,000 books from Project Gutenberg.  A warning about that last one, though, it requires a 16GB microSD card.  These can be purchased for $25 or so from places such as NewEgg.  I haven’t actually had a chance to test the Project Gutenberg books (I meant to temporarily remove Wikipedia and load on Gutenberg, but I’ve been busy dealing with my photo disaster.)  I must say, though, that before the announcement I had wondered about getting the Project Gutenberg books on there.

For all of its strengths, there are tradeoffs, though.  You won’t be getting any of the images that appear on Wikipedia.  Neither will you get any text that was formatted in tables.  On one hand, it cuts down on the amount of data you need to store and makes it easier to display.  On the other hand, this can leave gaps in the Wikipedia reference material.  It also only searches Wikipedia titles, not the full text.  This last part might be fixable, though, considering that the code that the device runs on is open source.

Of course, I’m sure that some people are wondering “Why don’t I just use my laptop/iPhone/iPad/Smart Phone/etc to access and get the latest versions with photos and everything?”  Yes, you *can* do that, but that assumes that you have Internet access.  Many smart phone plans either cap you or force you to pay per byte.  Accessing Wikipedia constantly can run up your charges.  Booting a laptop can also take awhile versus the sub-second boot time of WikiReader.  There are times when I’d use my laptop (or smart phone if I had one) and times when I’d use WikiReader.

The other advantage is with children.  NHL took to the WikiReader instantly and was looking up article after article.  I didn’t need to worry about him wandering onto a different website that I didn’t approve of: He was “stuck” on Wikipedia.  There are also parental controls available, but I didn’t test these out.

WikiReader can be purchased for $99 from or it can be had for free from here if you win my…


Thanks to Openmoko, makers of the WikiReader, one lucky winner will receive a WikiReader. To enter, simply leave a comment below answering this question: What topics do you look up on Wikipedia?

You can also earn bonus entries by doing any (or all) of the following items. Just be sure to leave a separate comment for each item that you complete.  (Don’t just leave one comment listing everything you did.)

  • Follow @TechyDad on Twitter. (1 bonus entry)
  • Follow @wikireader on Twitter. (1 bonus entry)
  • Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter. Be sure to include @TechyDad, @WikiReader and a link to this post in the Tweet. (1 bonus entry per day) For example: Want to read Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg & more on the go? Win a @WikiReader from @TechyDad #Giveaway
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed or let me know if you already are. (1 bonus entry)
  • Leave a comment on any of my non-giveaway posts from November/December. Leave a comment here letting me know which post you commented on. (1 bonus entry per comment, maximum 3 entries)
  • Write a post on your blog linking to this giveaway. Leave 3 comments about this to get credit for all of your extra entries. (3 bonus entries)

To enter, please follow the rules above within the comment section. Contest starts today, December 21st and ends at Noon EST on January 6th, 2010. You do not have to be a blogger to enter, but must leave a valid e-mail address for me to contact you for mailing address once the giveaway is over. I will select the winner using and contact you via e-mail. You will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If there is no response, another winner will be selected. Open to U.S. only.

Disclosure: I was given a WikiReader for free to review by Openmoko. No other compensation was given. The opinions expressed above are my own. Openmoko is also providing the giveaway item to my readers.

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