Vacation Notice

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Beginning Friday evening, February 24th through Monday morning, March 6th, I will be on vacation.  I do not anticipate posting during this time.  Thanks for your follows and readership.  Looking forward to getting back to blogging in early March.

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Props to Apple

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For my birthday and Hanukkah this year, I got an Apple Watch Series 2.  The only problem is that being a December baby, they were sold out everywhere due to the Holiday shopping season being in full swing.

I wanted to Space Gray Aluminum version with the black sport band.  apple-watchIt’s apparently quite popular.  Every store I checked and online site said availability was in early January.  The person at the Apple Store recommended checking the site each day and eventually, it might say there were some in stock.  Last time I checked, availability within 250 miles of me was January 9th.

So, on December 12th I finally decided to place an order on Apple.com and see what happened.  At least they were taking online orders.  It said my delivery date would be between December 27 and December 29.

Being the impatient person that I am, on Sunday, December 18th I decided to call and check on my order, as I had not received an update.  I was connected with a very helpful man, true to Apple’s usually excellent customer service.  I asked him if he might have any idea of my order was on time and when it might ship.  He put me on hold for a few minutes to check.  When he came back on the line, he told me that he had good news.  That he was able to upgrade my shipping to 2-3 business days, for free and that the watch should ship out sometime this week.

As it turns out, the watch shipped the next day on Monday, the 19th.  I was able to watch (no pun intended) as the watch went from the factory in China to Shanghai, where it boarded a UPS aircraft to Anchorage, Alaska, where it arrived on the 20th.  It then flew to Louisville, KY, UPS’ hub and on up to Manchester, NH where it arrived early this morning.

And now, here I am, Wednesday evening, writing this post with my new Apple Watch Series 2 all setup and on my wrist.  After figuring I would not see my birthday/Hanukkah present until at least a month after my actual birthday, I have to give Apple credit.  I wasn’t calling to whine or complain about how long my order was taking or that I couldn’t find it anywhere locally.  I was just calling in to see if they might be able to give me an idea when I should expect to receive my watch.  Maybe it was just good timing, but I like to think it was great customer service and today, I happily have my latest and greatest gadget.

I’ll be posting a review soon, so stay tuned!

Techy gifts for Father’s Day

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Garmin.JPGThe Garmin VivoFit with HRM is among techy gift ideas for dad for Father’s Day as recommended by tech columnist MJ Shoer.

The following was originally published on June 12, 2016 on Seacoastonline.com.

With Father’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d provide some ideas for techy gifts any dad would be thrilled to receive.

If the dad in your life is in to fitness, there are a ton of great fitness watches to choose from. FitBit remains the leader with a wide range of devices from simple fitness bands to the newer FitBit Blaze smart watch. The Apple Watch remains an excellent option, though it is on the higher side when it comes to price. Garmin has an impressive line of fitness bands and watches, including the relatively new Vivoactive HR, which is one of the only waterproof options on the market.

Pebble also has a nice line of fitness watches to consider. If you just want an inexpensive tracker one of the bands will be best. It you are looking for something more capable, with apps for different types of activities and notifications tied to your smartphone, a smart fitness watch is the way to go.

If your dad is thinking about jumping in to the Smart Home arena, there are some great options to consider. Wink and SmartThings are the two best options in my opinion. Locally, I’ve seen the Wink Hub at Home Depot and stores like Best Buy have entire sections devoted to Smart Home technology. The hub is the first step. You also need modules that either plug into electrical outlets or replace outlets and light switches around the house. These form their own wireless network that allows you to control these devices from your smartphone. You can setup schedules to turn lights on and off, dim lights, control your garage door and even add sensors to detect water leaks, deadbolt locks, alarm systems and controls for your window treatments. Smart Home technology is really coming of age right now and it’s easier than ever to design and manage your own Smart Home. Any do it yourself dad would love this.

If you want to splurge on your dad, get him a new tablet. From iPads to the new Kindle to the Surface Pro 4, there are tons of excellent tablets to choose from. Be prepared to spend anywhere from $500 to $2,000 depending on what you choose, but rest assured, this is a gift any guy will love to receive.

If you want to take it easy on your wallet, there are plenty of options to consider as well. What dad wouldn’t be thrilled to get a new Bluetooth speaker, streaming media stick like a Chromecast, Roku or FireTV stick, an AppleTV, new headphones or a portable power bank? All of these are less than $100 and several are less than $50.

Another great idea is the Amazon Echo. The Echo is a free standing tube that links to Amazon’s Alexa Cloud. It’s a voice controlled jack of all trades. Echo can play music, get your sports scores, the weather, integrate with your Smart Home and media systems. It has impressive microphones that will pick up your commands from across the room, so while you are sitting in your comfy recliner, you can say “Alexa, turn off the family room light” and voila, the lights will turn off. You can ask Alexa to play your favorite music, get the Red Sox score or the time the game is on. While I don’t have one yet, I suspect I will and everyone I know who has one raves about it.

If your dad has an Android smartphone, you might consider one of the virtual reality devices out there. These are pretty unique gifts, but they can do some impressive things. This might be a little too out there for some dads, but it will sure make an impression.

If you have a dad who’s into photography and video, digital cameras and video cameras have never been so high quality as they are now. You almost can’t go wrong with just about any choice these days. For the real aficionado, a Digital SLR is the way to go, but this will set you back some serious money. Action cameras like the GoPro remain a hot gift item that will make your dad pretty happy.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Most important of all, just don’t forget to tell your dad you love him. That will be the best gift of all.