Piques of the Week – Volume 10

New items in my mobile kit.

Logitech Create Keyboard

The moment I made the decision to get the iPad Pro 9.7″, I knew that I wanted to get the Logitech Create Keyboard. This is hands down the best keyboard for the iPad Pro, as many other people will tell you.

What I love about this keyboard is that while it adds some heft to the device, it is still ultra-portable, and contains my entire work station in an all-in-one setup. In most cases, this is the only thing that I need to bring around with me. I can do some of my work, write to my heart’s content, and get anything and everything done with efficiency. The keys are backlit, which is a nice touch over the keyboard that I previously had. It’s the perfect compliment to the Apple Pencil, with the built in pencil loop. And the best part of all: it’s attached to my iPad Pro. FINALLY.

iMangoo Foldable Stand

Now that I have my iPad Pro with the Create keyboard, my old Logitech k480 has been given to my son for his use with his iPhone at school.1 Because I want his iPhone to last and it is permanently in a LifeProof Case, his phone doesn’t fit so well into the integrated stand on the keyboard. So I started looking at options for him to use for a stand.

I originally was going to go after the current stand I have, but it isn’t portable enough for what he would like. That’s when I ended up finding the iMangoo Foldable Stand. It is a very portable stand; in fact, it’s a little thicker than a credit card when fully collapsed. But it’s capable of holding your phone or tablet just fine. It’s not going to be the stand that looks pretty and is a perfect compliment to the Feng shui of your desk. It will, however, serve as a nice piece of kit in a carry bag that is a no-brainer. In fact, I ordered one for myself, and it’s been working out very nicely. The perfect complement to the mobile workstation.

SOMAN Solar Charger

This charger came my way at Christmas time as a gift.2 During that time, I was also reorganizing some things inside my house, and put it somewhere out of the way. Out of sight, out of mind — and I forgot that I had it. Then I finally remembered it on a recent trip I had.

The SOMAN® Portable Solar Panel Charger is a 10000mAh battery dual-USB battery pack with a solar charger option. It is also rain-resistant, dust-proof, and shockproof. It charges via a microUSB cable that comes included. I used it at various times during the trip, and never had to recharge it the entire time.

The solar panels are meant to keep it topped up with charge, but can also fully charge the device if you are somewhere that wall charging isn’t. And it even comes with an LED flashlight if you need one in a pinch. This battery pack is rugged, capable, and — best of all — fairly inexpensive at less than $15.

  1. We’ve offered up to have him use a tablet, but he doesn’t want to carry it. He only wants to carry his phone. A chip off the old block…
  2. Thanks, Mrs. Claus…

Piques of the Week – Volume 9

Reduce Tumbler 2-pack

I’ve wanted a stainless steel tumbler for a long time. I’ve owned several vacuum-insulated tumblers in the past, but they are all plastic and break over time (especially if accidentally dropped). I looked for alternatives, and found several brands: Yeti, Rtic, and many more that are all about the same. All of them were anywhere from $15-40 for a single tumbler.

On a recent trip to Costco, however, I found a 2-pack of the Reduce Cold-1 30oz tumblers for $20. I thought I would give them a shot. And I’m a big believer in them now. The day I brought them home (at about 2pm) I washed them, and put ice in my tumbler. I refilled the water several times for the remainder of the day. I placed the cup next to my bedside and fell asleep. When I woke in the morning, I grabbed my tumbler and to my surprise – there was still ice in there!

I highly recommend these if you get the chance to pick them up. I included the Amazon link, but if you live near a Costco, you can save some cash by picking them up there.

Rinfit Silicone Wedding Bands

My wife and I have never had our rings re-dipped since we’ve been married, and I thought this year would be a good year to do it. Additionally, there have been times at work that I have been messing with electrical equipment, and my wife’s rings don’t quite fit her.

So I started looking for alternatives to wear while we get our wedding bands all fixed up. I stumbled upon the Rinfit line of silicone wedding bands. I was able to pick up a simple men’s band in black, and picked up a multi-color pack of women’s bands for my wife. We are both really please with how well they fit and how they can adapt as our hands expand/contract with heat and cold. As an added benefit, I won’t get electrical shocks from this at work. Maybe I won’t miss that metallic taste in my mouth after all…

Piques of the Week – Volume 8

This week is all about my Apple Watch.

Activity Tracking / Sharing

The gamification of this is really good. I had a Fitbit before, and it was all about step count. But now that I have a Watch, it's much more about being up and active. With watchOS 3, Activity Sharing was added: this allows users of the Apple Watch to view not only their fitness data, but their trusted friends as well. Within my ring circle of friends, it's been nice to motivate each other into doing a little more, even when we aren't talking. I can see that Sam just rode his bike, I can tell that Jeff has hit the treadmill – and I can feel like I'm not doing enough and get after it.

We also get to send responses when someone hits an achievement, which we have made more fun by using the standard responses of the watch. I can be encouraging, or I can be sarcastic. I'm not seeing the results I want to see in my health just as yet, but I know I will be soon. And I'm happy that my friends will also get to encourage me along the way and share in the fun.

Watch Bands

One surprising bit for me has been the customization. I'm really enjoying the swapping of bands, the changing of watch faces,1 and the unique way I can match all of this to the outfit or activity I am doing at the time. And while I'm not going to get all crazy and buy every band out there, having some options has been really great.

Currently, I have a couple of third-party bands that I really like. Aside from the black sport band that came with it, I also have a concrete-colored band that is the same. Well, nearly the same. Apple's material feels better, is likely better made, and will likely last longer over time; however, for $8-10 per band, I can get five of the 3rd-party bands for the price of one Apple band. When the Nike Apple Watch was announced, I liked the look of the new band; the fluoroelastomer bands can retain heat/sweat, and the Nike band seems to be better at reducing the amount. I also got a nylon band that is extremely similar to Apple's version, but for less than a third of the price. I wanted to get something fancy, but thanks to trade with a friend of mine, I now have a Milanese loop that has quickly become my favorite band. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I have, but it's really, really great.

I'm sure I'll get more bands, and I'll likely have to get help for the amount that I ultimately get. But I'm trying to keep it limited, trying to keep it fun and interesting, and have something that's personal to me. I'm digging it.

Note: when ordering bands, especially on Amazon, make sure you are ordering the correct size for your watch. The links above are for the 42mm M/L size bands, where applicable.

Anker Power Charger

I had purchased one of these for my wife a while ago, as she was charging multiple devices by her side of the bed. I had just been using the power bricks that came with my devices. But right after getting the Apple Watch, I needed to change this. It had become cumbersome. So, I ordered the Anker 40W/8A 5-Port USB Charger PowerPort 5 for my own use. And although I didn't get in time for a recent business trip, now that I have it at home, the cord management has never been easier. Couple this with a few Monoprice Cable Ties – power & cord mischief is managed.

  1. I'm hopeful that Apple will allow custom watch faces at some point in the future.