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Shure MV51 microphone - thumbs up!
Fri, Nov 3rd 2017 8
Ommegang 20th Anniversary Ale 2017 Review - Thumbs Up!
Mon, Oct 23rd 2017 7
Apple TV 4K review - thumbs up!
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Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite Smoker Review - Thumbs Up!
Wed, Sep 27th 2017 8
Dashlane password wallet - thumbs up!
Wed, Sep 20th 2017 6
Apple iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad - thumbs up!
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Windows Phone 8.1 impressions
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Microsoft released Windows Phone 8.1 on July 15 with over a hundred new features including notifications, Cortana voice assistant as well as a wealth of new enterprise features.  This is first upgrade to Windows Phone since the 8.0 release in October 2012.

I own a Nokia Lumia 5210 which I purchased without a contract for $50 (after rebate) in 2012.  Last week, an over the air AT&T update for Windows Phone 8.1 was released and I upgraded.  While the upgrade took several hours and involved multiple phone reboots, it was automated process requiring little interaction on my part and it didn't involve connecting the phone to a computer.

The upgrade from Windows Phone 8.0 to 8.1 implies a minor, maintenance upgrade but the 8.1 upgrade is much more than that.   I understand that Microsoft settled on the 8.1 nomenclature to coincide with Windows 8.1 (PC).   With the release of Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, it's possible to write applications that run on both PCs and smartphones including Sienna (beta) which uses Microsoft Excel syntax to allow anyone to develop a mobile application.

Windows Phone 8.1 is still playing catch up to iOS and Android and there isn't much new or innovative in this release. For example, the web browsing experience remains awful on Windows Phone.  However, Microsoft is working on an update to 8.1 called GDR1, that should be out in the coming weeks with a new mobile IE experience, folder support and more.  I was encouraged, however, by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's statements on the recent quarterly earnings call around the focus on productivity as platforms as well as devices.

Below is a recent TV commercial that Microsoft has been airing comparing Apple Siri voice assistance to Microsoft Cortana.   Having used both, I'm not sure one has a clear advantage over the other.  Both are programmed to answer specific questions and there are many questions that Siri will respond to, that Cortana won't, and vice versa.   What I find most impressive about the commercial is that the Nokia 635 shown in the video, is available for ~$100 off contract compared to the $650 iPhone.




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Aug 05, 2014
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Recent Blog Posts
8
Shure MV51 microphone - thumbs up!
Fri, Nov 3rd 2017 7:21p   Christopher Pepin
In November, 2017 I purchased the Shure MV51 microphone for $150 and I'm a fan. Listen to my audio review below, recorded using the microphone connected to my iPhone 7 Plus and using the MOTIV mobile app available from the Apple App Store.
7
Ommegang 20th Anniversary Ale 2017 Review - Thumbs Up!
Mon, Oct 23rd 2017 7:30p   Christopher Pepin
I'm a big fan of Ommegang Belgian-style beers brewed in Cooperstown, NY and I've made two brewery visits over the last three years. 2017 is Ommegang's 20th anniversary and to celebrate, they brewed a special anniversary beer aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. I'm a fan of barrel aged beers and this one doesn't disappoint. It pours a dark, chocolate brown with aromas of dried fruits and tastes of bourbon with nice mouthfeel and a smooth finish. From the Ommegang blog: "For 20th Anniver
9
Apple TV 4K review - thumbs up!
Tue, Oct 3rd 2017 2:31p   Christopher Pepin
I've owned each model of Apple TV since the first release ten years ago in 2007. I upgraded to the latest 4K 64GB model and recommend it. Pros 4K supportFree 4K movie upgrades for selected movies if you've paid for the HD version. New 4K movies cost the same as HD versionsSupports both HRD10 and Dolby Vision HDRUser interface and integration with other Apple products (e.g. AirPlay)App and games support Cons The only 4K content the Apple TV 4K plays is iTunesExpensive ($179/$199 for 32GB and
8
Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite Smoker Review - Thumbs Up!
Wed, Sep 27th 2017 6:16p   Christopher Pepin
Watch my video review of the Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite 30" propane two door smoker below. This is my first smoker and I recommend it. I ordered it on sale for $99 online from Blain's Farm & Fleet
6
Dashlane password wallet - thumbs up!
Wed, Sep 20th 2017 5:36p   Christopher Pepin
I've been a longtime Dashlane password wallet user and couldn't live without it. I use Dashlane on all my devices for work and personal use including Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad and Android devices and store my passwords, credit cards, secure notes and ids. Pros All of my passwords synchronized securely across all my devices with easy accessDigital wallet for all my payments and id cardsPassword generatorChange multiple passwords automatically with a single clickAlerts when one or more of my
5
Apple iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad - thumbs up!
Tue, Sep 19th 2017 5:05p   Christopher Pepin
As expected, Apple released iOS 11 for iPhone and iPad earlier today and I highly recommend the upgrade. Pros New App StoreNew Files appMore human sounding (less robotic) Siri voiceNew Lockscreen, Notification Center, and Control centerAutofill app passwordsDo not disturb while driving with auto replyCreate a video of what displays on the screen (great for creating demos)Swipe down on the keyboard instead of hitting "shift"iPad: add as many apps as you want to the dock, drag and drop Cons On
6
Apple's iPhone X event - thumbs up!
Tue, Sep 12th 2017 9:22p   Christopher Pepin
Earlier today, Tim Cook kicked off the Apple iPhone X event at the new Steve Job's theater at Apple Park. You can watch the full replay on Apple.com. The following are my impressions: Apple Watch Series 3. Apple added a new dual-core processor to the Apple Watch Series 3 that is 70% faster than last year and a new LTE option which means you no longer need to have your iPhone with you. The Apple Watch Series 3 starts at $329 without cellular and $399 with integrated LTE, and it will be released
6
Novaform Comfort Grande (Costco) mattress review - thumbs up!
Mon, Sep 11th 2017 10:39p   Christopher Pepin
In December, 2016 replaced my 14 year old Sera Posturepedic king size mattress with the Novaform Comfort Grande (Costco) memory foam mattress and I recommend it. I'm sleeping better with less discomfort than my old mattress. After almost a year of use, I'm still a fan. Pros Comfortable (medium firm)14 inches thickResists bounciness and eases movementNo hassle return policy from CostcoVacuum sealed in a small box for shipping. Easy expands. Watch my videoInexpensive ($700 for king)Excellent r
7
My visit to the US Open Tennis 2017
Wed, Aug 30th 2017 1:35a   Christopher Pepin
Last night I attended opening night at US Open tennis tournament in Queens, NY with my sons. IBM is a sponsor of the event, creator of the US Open mobile app, championship website and sponsor of IBM Cognitive Court, an interactive event showcasing Watson technology. Shania Twain performed several of her hits including "I Feel Like a Woman" to a capacity crowd filled with celebrities After a 19-month absence, Maria Sharapova returned to Grand Slam play with a thrilling victory over #2 seed Simo
3
Amazon Prime Store Credit Card - thumbs up!
Thu, Aug 3rd 2017 4:41a   Christopher Pepin
If you're an Amazon Prime member, the store credit card is a no brainer as it offers 5% off on all purchases, everyday as a statement credit. There is no annual fee. Alternately, you can choose special financing for purchases of $149 or more. On Amazon Prime Day earlier this year Amazon offered and additional 20% selected items when paying with the Amazon store credit card. Note that Amazon offers two store credit cards - one for Prime customers and one for non-Prime customers. Only the Prime




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