Personal Electronics

As a confirmed geek, personal electronics are a passion of mine. Of course, this is in addition to my gadgets for computers, photography and astronomy!


Cellular & Smartphones

Nokia 2160 cellphone
Nokia 2160 cellphone

I have been a cellphone user for many, many years. My first cellphone was a Mitsubishi DiamondTel DT-20X, which I purchased in 1997 and used for my consulting business. My cellular service quickly evolved into using the very popular Nokia 2160, since it was a nice-sized cellphone that could be slipped into my pocket. I switched to an iPhone 3G in 2008 when Apple first debuted them in Canada, because previously I was carrying around a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and a cellphone. The new Smartphone devices such as the iPhones were a quantum leap in usability for someone like me, who took electronic notes, and stored contacts and calendaring without using paper. Now this could be done with one device!

Currently I use an Apple iPhone 5S running iOS 8.x, which integrates nicely with calendaring and contacts on my MacBook Pro running OS/X 10.x (Yosemite). The Apple ecosystem is very impressive, integrating all devices across the product spectrum. My first cellular contract was with Cantel here on the west coast of Canada way back in 1997, and now almost 20 years later I have cellular service from Cantel’s successor, Rogers.

My Apple iPhone 4S
My Apple iPhone 4S

Compared to the beginning years in cellular service, today’s service is nothing short of amazing. Probably the biggest leap in cellular or mobile service was forced on the industry by Apple, who insisted that their iPhones be connected to the Internet. Of course, this mean web browsing and email from a mobile phone was now possible, which ultimately changed the landscape of the whole Internet.

Today’s users of mobile devices expect them to be constantly connected to the Internet, mainly because calling people using voice is now behind contacting people using text messaging and through social media apps running on smartphones. Music and video are typically streamed onto smartphones instead of being stored on them, and people make extensive use of their connectivity to control smart network devices in the home and in their autos.


Apple Watch

Apple Watch Stainless Steel with Milanese Loop on my wrist
Apple Watch Stainless Steel with Milanese Loop on my wrist

I recently purchased an Apple Watch, 42mm stainless steel with Milanese woven steel band. I mentioned the Apple ecosystem in my remarks above, and true to form, Apple has extended their ecosystem to the Apple Watch. In fact, I would propose this is the main reason for the popularity of this smart watch over its competitors. Apple Watches are beautifully designed, however it’s the Apple ecosystem that delivers the functionality, and where Apple’s competitors fall behind.

Initially, I was hesitant to order a first generation product such as the Apple Watch, but I soon overcame my fears as I watched all the app makes on my iPhone roll out updates supporting the watch before Apple finally started selling it online.


Apple iPad Air 2

I use my iPad mainly to read magazines and news services, participate in social media, view photos and video, and run tutorials. The Retina display on this latest version of Apple’s iPad product line is beautiful to look at, making photos pop, and reading text easy on the eyes. I take my iPad with me when I travel to keep me busy when I have “down time” to fill, such as airline flights, and waiting around for tours and excursions to start. I load up my iPad with lots of reading material before I leave on a trip.

Again, the iPad is part of the Apple ecosystem, so photos, calendar appointments, contacts, and documents are synced to iCloud and simply appear on the various Apple devices I use. All I have to do is sign in using my Apple username and password, and the ecosystem takes care of the details for me, by and large.

 

My Apple iPad Air 2
My Apple iPad Air 2

Kestrel 4500 Personal Weather Station

A Kestrel 4500 personal weather station
A Kestrel 4500 personal weather station

I have always had an interest in weather, and ran my own weather station for many years from my home, here in Victoria, BC, Canada. A portable weather station appealed to me on two fronts:

  • measuring conditions when I am out in the field taking astronomical photographs and observing
  • adding weather information to my travel blog and website for exotic locations and while at sea cruising

These two uses for my portable weather converged nicely in 2012 when I took a solar eclipse cruise in the Coral Sea, where I measured the temperature drop during the eclipse.

2012 Eclipse Temperature Changes
2012 Eclipse Temperature Changes

I have the night vision version of the Kestrel 4500 Weather and Environmental Meter, so I can read weather measurements during astronomical observing without destroying my night vision. I also have the mounting kit for the weather station, which includes a weather vane to keep the unit pointed into the prevailing wind while mounted on a tripod and ball head mount. I also have the data transfer cradle, so I can take the data from automatically recorded weather readings into a computer for further analysis in a spreadsheet.

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