5 Things - Week Ending 2/22/13

This is the 38th post in a series called 5 Things. Each week I will share a combination of technology articles and apps that I have discovered and liked in the past week. Anything highlighted in blue is a link to an article, an app, or another section of my website.


I have a wide variety of devices in my house that I could use a Bluetooth keyboard with. I own the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, but it is a pain in the butt to switch between my iPad, my wife's iPad mini, and my Mac. I have heard very good things about the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard 760 from some people I trust and I might be picking up one of these from Amazon.com for $55.

I used Google Glass: the future, but with monthly updates

Joshua Topolsky:

But what’s it actually like to have Glass on? To use it when you’re walking around? Well, it’s kind of awesome.

Think of it this way — if you get a text message or have an incoming call when you’re walking down a busy street, there are something like two or three things you have to do before you can deal with that situation. Most of them involve you completely taking your attention off of your task at hand: walking down the street. With Glass, that information just appears to you, in your line of sight, ready for you to take action on. And taking that action is little more than touching the side of Glass or tilting your head up — nothing that would take you away from your main task of not running into people.

It’s a simple concept that feels powerful in practice.

The same is true for navigation. When I get out of trains in New York I am constantly jumping right into Google Maps to figure out where I’m headed. Even after more than a decade in the city, I seem to never be able to figure out which way to turn when I exit a subway station. You still have to grapple with asking for directions with Glass, but removing the barrier of being completely distracted by the device in your hand is significant, and actually receiving directions as you walk and even more significant. In the city, Glass make you feel more powerful, better equipped, and definitely less diverted.

In 5 Things - Week Ending 4/6/12 I first mentioned Google Glass. My question at the time was whether Google could turn the neat concept into a shipping product. It certainly appears that they are making good progress on shipping late 2013.

Between Google Glass and rumors of the Apple iWatch, it appears that wearable tech will be a hot topic in 2013.

This Is How Your Brain Deals With Google And Facebook Ads

Allison McCann:

[Consumers] have to be wary about the possibility that ads are seemingly giving us exactly what we happened to be looking for or wanting at any given time,” he says, “when we might be most receptive to persuasion.” If Google’s and Facebook’s data can pinpoint the zero moment, when we’re most vulnerable or most likely to impulse buy, then it might be time to be seriously concerned.

I thought that this was a very good article on the topic of online advertising and how your brain handles it. I strongly dislike advertiements and make a point of avoiding them when I can.

Check out 30 Second Tips - Block Ads On The Internet to learn how you can block ads that are displayed on websites like Google and Facebook.

Amazon’s $35 External DVD Drive Will Make You Feel Young Again

Dan Frommer:

The optical drive in my iMac is getting moody, and there have been a few times when I wished I’d had an external disc drive around to use with my MacBook Air. So I added the $35 AmazonBasics DVD drive to a recent order.

My parents recently decided to purchase a new Mac to replace their nine year old eMac. Saving money is always a concern for them so I recommended a refurbished Mac mini from Apple (saved $130 compared to brand new Mac mini). They were a bit hesitant about the Mac mini because it does not come with CD/DVD drive. I explained to them that almost all brand new Macs no longer come with a CD/DVD drive.

Once they heard this they agreed to go along with the Mac mini and a new display but they still wanted to have a CD/DVD drive. We were planning on buying Apple's USB Superdrive for $79. Before we made the purchase I read Dan Frommer's blog post and suggested that we try the AmazonBasic DVD drive for $35 and save a little money.

The drive showed up, we plugged it in, and they were able to install the TurboTax disc that they had purchased from Sam's Club.

I would encourage anyone with a MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac mini that would like a CD/DVD drive to check out the AmazonBasic DVD drive.

How Monoprice Is Eating The Tech World From The Inside Out

John Herrman:

HDMI cables are still among Monoprice’s biggest sellers, for which it can thank a sick and dying brick-and-mortar retail industry. When Monoprice gained notoriety, there were still hundreds of Circuit City stores across the country. Today there are none. “When it comes to selling, like, TVs, computers, and printers, the retailers don’t make much money at all,” says Kumar, “which is why you don’t see us selling those products.” Companies like Best Buy still make a great deal of money from marked-up cables which, though overpriced, are easy to slip in alongside a $500+ TV purchase.

I thought of two things when I read this article.

  1. I should remind people that you should never buy a $50 HDMI cable from Best Buy.
  2. I should make sure that people know about Monoprice.

I have had great success with Monoprice products in the past. It's a great way to save money.

They are based in America and the majority of it's operations (product design, warehouse, customer support) is handled in California. They do manufacture their products in Asia.

I would strongly encourage to check out Monoprice next time you are in the market for cables, adapters, ink, or any other technology accessory.