tech review Archives

June 17, 2008

Tech Review: Salsa Verde Doritos

Score (1-10): 9.5

Salsa Verde Doritos are without a doubt the world's greatest flavor of Dorito. Tangy, spicy, and salty, they balance a delicate middle ground between overuse of flavor powder (see Nacho Cheese Doritos) and corny blandness (Original Flavor Sun Chips). Especially when paired with rehydrated black beans with melted cheese, they are truly a delight. The light dusting of flavorspecs (R) is perfect for the replacement of electrolytes lost during a hard day's adventuring. I heartily recommend them to all outdoor enthusists.

June 22, 2008

Tech Review: Beer

It's so good. I like the 22 oz bottles.


November 1, 2008

tech review: oh my god rhapsody is a piece of shit

I decided to try Rhapsody, despite my one time declaration that I would never pay for digital music unless there were no record company in the mix. I guess I'm just tired of failed downloads and a vague fear of the RIAA's wrath, as much as it pains me to admit it.

Rhapsody gives subscribers unlimited access to their music library, which is extensive enough for the average music listener to be happy with. So you pay $15 a month and there's no waiting for downloads, corrupted files, or government bogeymen. Liz is a big fan, so I decided to give it a try. Plus I found a coupon to try it for two weeks free. Off I went.

So I download the program and run the file to install it. OK so far. Then I click on the link in my start menu, which crashes my computer and deletes half a blog post I've written about dancing. Rhapsody is on my bad side now. It crashes another time, and I decide to restart my computer. OK, I do that, and then open the program again. This time, it wants to take me through the installation again. Fine. Fifteen minutes later the installation is done and I open it again, crash. Uninstall. Reinstall. Finally get the thing to open and finally I can listen to that Peaches album that the website says is available to subscribers.

If you had a job as a software designer, and you were asked to develop the least intuitive program possible, you would develop Rhapsody. It has kind of a web browser feel to it, but there's no back button, and far too many clicks terminate in a white screen without any information whatsoever. ("More information" clicks tend to end this way.)

So in summary, all I can do is play their lame playlists, I can't search for artists and play their albums, I can't get more information, and Liz is using matlab and doesn't want to open Rhapsody as it will likely crash her computer and that would be inconvenient.

Oh yeah, and when you have the help window open, you can't click on the program. Thanks, dicks.


November 12, 2008

Tech review: text messages

Have you heard about this new think you can do with mobile phones? You can type a message using a complicated algorithm that relates the numbers on your phone's keypad to letters, and send that message to another person's phone! They will instantly receive the message and can reply, ignore, etc. All this is available for the low low cost of about $5 a month or $0.05 per message, and it's known as "texting". Wow!

I'd never owned a mobile phone until I moved to England in 2005, when a cab driver gave me one that he had in a shoebox at his mother's house (that's another story). I quickly learned that to survive in the rough and tumble social world of the UK, I would need to learn to text. I did one handed drills until I could touch-text at 65 words per minute. I learned a lot from my housemate Elle, who could text, cook dinner, and carry on a conversation all at the same time.

You see, the great thing about texts is that you don't have to actually talk to someone to get your message through. This is helpful in loud environments, or when dealing with someone with a very annoying voice (I think that's why my sister started texting). It's a low-commitment form of communication, great for weaseling out of awkward situations, or for trying to get yourself invited along somewhere. It leaves the textee free to ignore the message, allowing them to later claim that they did not receive it in time. That way, they can reject your request without the embarrassment of saying it out loud. This is a potent form of social lubrication, because neither the texter nor the textee wants to have that conversation.

Then there's the paper trail aspect - I'd much rather receive addresses, names, directions, etc in text form. I don't have a great memory, but when it's written in 1's and 0's on my SIM card, I can always refer back to it later.

Sometimes you just don't want a conversation. That's what texts are for. I know there are those of you who self-righteously cling to your no-text mobile plan, whether you claim it's about the money or the lack of dignity in text-based communication. Sirs and Madams, that's fine. Cling to the old ways. But you'll come around, and when you do, you'll curse yourself for missing out on the joys of texting for so long.

November 25, 2008

Tech review: Sansa Clip 2gb mp3 player

Teddy alerted me to a killer deal ($26) for this tiny little non-ipod at (update your RSS readers, it's a good one). It came today, and I was like yay, tiny fake ipod! Evaluation follows.

- Cheap. I lose/break things a lot. An ipod wouldn't make it a year in my hands.
- Tiny. I clipped it onto my bike jersey and went for a ride this afternoon. I couldn't tell it was there, save for jam after jam being pumped to my ears.
- Syncs with Rhapsody, the redhaired stepchild of an mp3 subscription that I'm doomed to live with forever
- Easy to navigate the user interface, and drag-and-drop file uploading.
- Doesn't crash my computer, like Rhapsody does.
- 2 gigibites is enough for 20+, not bad.
- Cute. Mine is red. Removable clip is handy for, uh, clipping to stuff.
- Stupid cheap.
- It has an FM radio!

- Didn't come with an instruction manual and I can't find one online. I guess that's how it goes when you shop at
- I can't seem to browse by folder - only album and artist. So if I drop a compilation folder in there, it won't play through the comp. It wants me to choose it song by song. Lame.
- The lowest volume setting is medium. There is no low. That's fine for windy bike rides but wearing it in my house I feel a little overwhelmed.

All in all, $26 well spent.

January 4, 2009

Public service announcement: The Broiler

Several nights ago, I was making pizza with my friend John, who may or may not read this blog. He blew my mind by pointing out that in a gas stove, the broiler does not come from the top of the oven, like it does in the electric-coil oven. I'd had this problem before - turn the oven up to broil, throw in the food, and nothing happens! Cue the revelation.

You know that little slot below the oven, the place where you keep your cookie sheet and whatever other pans you can shove in? THAT IS THE BROILER! Think it through; it makes perfect sense. In a gas oven, the flame comes from the bottom. In order to broil the TOP of stuff, you have to get under that flame. Pull out that funny compartment, shove in some hot dogs or nachos or pizza or whatever, and presto. Browned and delicious.

Although I was amazed and grateful for the added functionality of my kitchen, I did not immediately think this blog-worthy. I assumed everyone knew about the broiler-slot, and that I'd just missed the memo. HOWEVER. The very next day, I went out to Lisa's place in Davis for a night before JesusDay potluck meal. There was stuffing, potato dumplings, goat cheese and home made bread, scalloped potatoes with roasted peppers, some kind of spicy chicken, yes there was all this and more. My contribution was bacon-wrapped and feta-stuffed dates. Delicious, but requiring broiling. After they'd baked for ten minutes or so, I pulled them out, opened the bottom slot, and said, "I'm just going to finish these off in the broiler." The crowd gasped. BROILER???? THAT IS THE BROILER? YOU MEAN ALL THIS TIME I'VE BEEN BROILING IN THE TOASTER OVEN FOR NO REASON AT ALL??????????????????? Joy and amazement all around, a real Christmas miracle.

Now you know. If you have a gas oven, the broiler is on the bottom. Merry Christmas!

January 18, 2009

Tech review: my phone

My phone is a Motorola Pebl. I got it in 2006, when I moved to Davis. It was the first contracted mobile phone I'd ever owned. Let's run through its strengths and weaknesses, shall we?

- Flips open with one hand (sweet pull-down magnet mechanism)
- Round edge doesn't poke you when it's in your pocket
- Neat color
- Takes pictures
- Doesn't break when it falls out of your pocket and flips open on the ground as you're riding your bike to school. Also does not break when after falling on the ground, it gets run over by a car. Also does not break when it then gets run over by ANOTHER car. Snaps back together easily after being run over by multiple cars and continues its years of service.

- Gets a little scratched after being run over by two cars.


July 24, 2009

Tech review: undo

Google Labs is a place you can get nifty little apps to add on to Google pages. After a disaster of an email discussion which was accidentally sent out to a much larger audience than intended (not by me, phew), I enabled an app called "undo".


You click send, then your heart jumps up because you accidentally put someone in the To field you didn't mean to. Click undo. You have about 5 glorious seconds. Thanks, Google.

About tech review

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Katieblog in the tech review category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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