Category Archives: Technology

We got Artoo (R2)

I am sure every StarWars fan knows what I mean but for those who don’t, R2D2 is a robot in Star Wars who is an ever-resourceful astromech droid with features like Lightsaber port, Fire extinguisher and more.

Of course, we could not afford to get the real R2D2 but have recently purchased a robot vacuum cleaner for the home which AS named R2D2 or Artoo for short.

Few cleaning products have sparked as much interest in my dearest hubby as the robot vac. As he is the one who mostly vacuums our place, he claims that it is the best thing he could buy to help him. I think he has secretly hoped that he will be able to sit down and relax while an artificially intelligent device cleans the house.

I am sure most of you have heard about Robomaid Robot Vacuum for a while but it doesn’t come cheap and that was the excuse we had not to get one.

But recently our local store advertised a cheaper version ($169) and AS got very excited. He was convinced that it works well after his extensive research that he decided to get it. He also read that it is quite popular and may not be easily available so he knew he had to be there when the shop opened on the advertised day to get his hands on one.

 So on the particular day, AS dragged me with him before the store opening time and we waited 30 minutes outside to get the Artoo. Funnily enough there were many people waiting for the store to open, which reminded me that my husband is not the only one who is robot crazy.

 

Anyway after buying our new Artoo, he charged it up and demoed it for my knowledge. I have to say I am impressed that Artoo is quite good at picking up dirt from the floor and for the price we paid, it is well worth it. He let it run for around 3 hours and the whole house was clean including the kitchen.

robot vacuum

Yesterday I took it to my walk-in closet and pressed the button, and Artoo was ready to start the job; I left it inside for 5 minutes and when I went back, the room was cleaned. It is a lot quieter than I expected that we had it running around when we were watching TV and we had no problem. Artoo can mop as well if we attach a damp micro fibre cloth to its underbelly which allows it to mop the floors as well but we still need to try that out.

 If it gets stuck or caught on something, it beeps for help but we made sure to move everything out of its way to make sure it cleans the whole area properly. I am sure we have to vacuum with the “manual” vacuum from time to time but for a quick clean Artoo is a winner.

If you are thinking about buying one, I will say go for it and you won’t regret it. It will give you some extra time to do other jobs or enjoy life a wee bit more.

If you have one do share how you are liking it. It is so new for us that we are loving it and it is fun to watch how it works and avoid walls and objects in its path.

Take care,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

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Our new toy: Chormecast

For those of you who are unaware of what Chormecast is, it is the latest in Google’s recent string of TV/internet-connected devices. The Chromecast is a small thumb drive size USB stick that plugs into the back of your TV and allows you to stream video and content from your phone, tablet or computer to your television screen. The Chromecast device connects to your TV’s HDMI port and uses your Wi-Fi network to stream your videos, music, pictures etc.

AS has been reading about it for a few months now and was annoyed that it was not available in Australia. He thought it would be great for us as we use an HDMI cable to connect our TV and computer. The bad thing about the HDMI is that it has a long wire gets disconnected easily if you move your laptop around With Chromecast this can be done wirelessly.

Finally, Chormecast is available here and we got it yesterday. It is only $49 so not a big hole in our pocket. We set it up after work and it worked so well. It was so easy to set up.

To set up Chromecast, all you need is a TV with an HDMI port, a Wi-Fi connection and either a computer with Google’s Chrome browser or a mobile device with Google’s Chromecast app. Simply connect the Chromecast to your TV’s HDMI port, visit chromecast.com/setup on your PC, download the app and follow the instructions from there.

Now we can use the Chromecast with our mobile, tablets and laptop without connecting any wires and it’s available on iOS too.

Chromecast also allows us to further multitask with our digital media; for example I could be using Facebook on my tablet while streaming a video to the TV simultaneously.

I have to say it is one of the best devices we have bought and the price is just too good.

Take care,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

Jumping Ship from Android to iPhone

I have contemplated switching to iPhone from Android many times and now as my old Samsung Galaxy SII is slowly dying, it was time for me to buy a new phone and I decided on iPhone 5S. Finally I have switched to iPhone and I have to admit I am a bit lost.

As an android user the biggest adjustment to using iPhone is navigating my way through iOS. Even though I use an iPad, I find it hard to do certain things on iPhone. I am sure I will be fine with my phone after a month but for the next few days, I am going to miss these features from my Samsung Galaxy phone.

The back button

The “back” soft key which takes you one step backward. If you opened a program and want to go back to the previously opened program, you tap the right soft key. When I’m using my iPhone, I really miss the back key and I’m constantly tapping the right side wondering why nothing is happening.

I also miss a lot of functionality accessed via the left soft key.

Mini SD Card

I didn’t realise (lack of research) that iPhone doesn’t take mini SD card which I have used in my phones for the last 5 years. Every time I change phones it has been easy as I save all my music, books, and a few videos in the mini SD card but now I have to transfer everything to my phone.

Screen size

I think I got used to the screen of my Samsung Galaxy that I feel iPhone screen is too small. I am hoping it is just a phase and I will be OK with the screen size in due time.

Compulsory use of iTunes

One of the most important things I need on your computer for using your iPhone is iTunes unlike android where I could easily manage my music, podcasts, and movies without it. I feel so locked in and restricted but I know I have no choice.

On screen customization

There are so many ways to customize the way that your home screen looks in my Samsung but I couldn’t find that feature in iPhone.

Things are not all bad. I have already found out a few things in my new iPhone I like so I guess I would be OK in the long run.

Camera

I think my new iPhone has a better camera than my of Samsung SII, beautiful pictures, and great features like high dynamic range, so I am now ready to take more photos  :).

iOS

The iPhone user interface is much more polished.

Accessories

I am also looking forward to using cool iPhone accessories now that I have jumped the ship. I noticed when I had Samsung that iPhone has more options in term of accessories so now I can take my pick.

I have to admit that as I have been using Android long enough to accumulate a decent number of apps and a good-sized music library, photos, contacts, and calendars, it was fairly easy to transfer everything. Glad it is almost done now and I can carry only one phone.

I have a feeling that after few months I will discover more cool features and apps in my new iPhone and I will rave about it but right now, it is a bit of a pain in the butt.

Please share any useful iPhone apps that you use for a novice iPhone user :).

Happy Friday and take care,

M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

Smartphone killed the camera star

This article was published in +977 (a Nepalese Lifestyle Magazine in Australia) in July-Aug 2012 issue.

I own a smartphone, it is a Samsung Galaxy S2 and I have used its camera occasionally when I didn’t have my camera with me but I was so surprised to see many people use just their smartphones to take photos during my Europe tour. Most of the people on the tour had a Samsung, iPhone or HTC smartphone and they were using it to take the photos on entire trip. And don’t get me wrong, they were not young teenagers showing off their new toy but they all were 50+ mature people and they were making the best use of the phone. Most of them didn’t have any other camera with them.

I guess iPhone and Android phones have changed the electronics landscape and the point and shoot digital cameras are being replaced by smartphones. And it is easy to see why. For me the first and foremost reason would be the convenience of carrying only one device followed by an ever evolving technology market which is now able to provide higher resolution and quality photos using smartphones. Also, most people feel that they won’t need a separate camera if they have one already on the phone.

And to add the icing on the cake, there are thousands of apps available for both iPhones and Android phones which allowed photos to be manipulated and uploaded on social media websites and no one wants to be bothered with transferring images to a PC from a point-and-shoot and uploading them later.

I remember those days when there was a limitation on photos because buying films and developing them was so expensive. And the disappointment I used to feel when I realised that the expensive prints had half of my head chopped or were just blurry. Then the revolution came and digital cameras took over from the film cameras.

Digital cameras had a very interesting life cycle. Even though the first digital cameras was made in 1975 by Steven Sasson, it wasn’t widely used until the end of the twentieth century. First digital cameras used to be big but slowly with time, they became small and compact. I got my first digital camera only in 2004. It was a Sony slim version and I paid good AU $1200 (I know that sounds so expensive now) for that. Everyone who saw the camera was really impressed and I was so happy to have numerous photos taken without thinking about further cost. I still have that camera with me and it still works. The only fault with it now is, the battery life is too short and I am not very comfortable with its 2cm by 4 cm LCD screen.

Now things have changed so quickly that we can get a camera with a similar specification in less that AU$100. With AU$1200 today, I can buy nice SLR cameras. Just before our holiday, I went and bought another digital point and shoot camera and it was under AU$300. It has really great features and I am very happy with the photos.

Looks like a smartphone will be the only gadget we will need in a few years. It is already a music and video player, a GPS, a hand held computer, a camera, a camcorder and soon it is believed our phone will replace all the cards we carry around like driving licence and credit cards.

Personally, I am not looking forward to pack my point and shoot digital camera away yet. I still love to have a digital camera with me when I go away on a holiday. Smartphones are definitely very handy when you want to click something on the go but being a photo fanatic I definitely need my cameras on my holidays and smartphone cameras can’t replace it yet. I also realised that point and shoot cameras are much better than big SLR cameras when you need to get some random person to click photos of you and your partner but that can be a topic for discussion some other time.

Can you live a day without a mobile phone?

It was our lunch time topic at work today. 

My answer is NO, unless I have to. Because, I carry my mobile everywhere I go, I check my emails on it, Facebook and twitter on it as well as put my calendar on it including my things to do. I would be lost without it. I don’t remember the phone numbers of my friends and family by heart so if I ever have to call anyone when I don’t have my mobile with me, it would be a nightmare. 

I know it is really bad to rely so heavily on the phone but it has made my life so easy that I can’t imagine living without it. I have sometimes forgotten the phone at home by mistake and I felt like a part of me was missing the whole day until I was reunited with my beloved phone. I am sorry if you find it crazy but I am just being honest about how I feel about my phone. 

I am sure I am not alone in this situation. Every time I go to any restaurant or public place, I see people on the street walking while talking on the phone or messaging on the phone. What about the drivers talking while driving? I am totally against that so I keep my phone in my bag while I drive so I am not tempted to answer the phone if it rings.

Also in restaurants if you see a group of friends dinning together, at least half of them will be playing with their phone. It might be considered anti social but it has become a habit for many people.

Nowadays our life has become so dependent on the internet and having internet in our mobile phone has made our mobile phone even more valuable.  We can book tickets, pay bills, chat with friends on Facebook or bank online using our phones. It can be used as a camera, an audio and video recorder, for multi-media messaging, email client, web client, gaming platform, document viewer and editor, music player, TV, wallet, calculator, bar code reader and the list goes on. 

I still remember the days when I was in Nepal, if I had to meet anyone we either pre planned when we would meet or talk on our landlines from our homes to fix the time. Life used to be simpler for sure as you just make a plan and follow it. With the introduction of mobile phones, things have changed a lot. Instead of making plans ahead, we just call on the go to see if people are around to catch up. 

I sometimes believe that the mobile phone has become a necessity instead of a convenience because I am sure having a mobile phone has saved many lives. Imagine if you have an accident in the middle of nowhere and you can’t contact anyone. When accidents happen, the  mobile phone has made it possible to contact the necessary people ASAP rather than trying to find a public pay phone. 

So, yes I might be able to live without a mobile phone for a day but I can’t live without it for life. I would never voluntarily choose to live a day without a mobile phone. 

What about you?

Waiting for the perfect phone…

 Looks like I have been waiting for the perfect phone forever. I was a happy customer of O2 XDA Nova a while back. I liked the fact that it was a touch screen (not many phones were touch screens then) and I could forward my email to my phone. Then its OS started to crash so often that I had to change to a different phone. 

As I had to get something quickly, I went for Samsung f480 just because it was a touch screen and I liked the compact sized. But I didn’t like it after a few days as it has phone keypads rather than computer-like Qwerty keyboard. Which meant that I had to touch the screen 3 times just to write a “C”. But as I had already spent my money on it, I was stuck with it. 

Luckily or unluckily, I lost that phone in six months and I needed new phone again. This time I wanted the iphone 3G but while I was doing my research I found out that it had lots of problems. I talked to a few people who had iphones of their own and they were not very happy with its battery life. So I decided to go for a Blackberry Curve. 

In few months after I got my phone, they launched iphone 4. I was very pissed as I wanted that now but I was not prepared to buy another phone so soon. 

Now my blackberry is dying slowly. It throws error messages from time to time and so I need a new phone again soon. So I was very happy when I found out that Apple was going to launch a new iphone and I hoped it was the much talked  about iphone 5 but I was disappointed again when they launch the iphone 4S. 

Now I am in a big dilemma, should I go for new phone now or wait for a while. I don’t want to miss out on the iphone 5 if it comes in the next few months. 

My husband has Samsung Galaxy S2 and he seems to be very happy with that. 

I am soooooooooooooo confused. Looks like I always end up buying a new phone at the wrong time .