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Product Review, Technology

Costco: Excessive Packaging


Just bought this Seagate 1TB Hard Drive from Costco and found the packaging to be ridiculously large and wasteful. The packaging is too hard to open by hand and if you end up cutting them open with scissors or a knife, you’ll very likely end up cutting up the instruction sheet like I did. No, I don’t read instruction sheets for a plug and play device, but if I did I would be out of luck.

Maybe hard drives in warehouse stores like Costco are too hard to find or too easily stolen, but I think this has gone too far.


Improvement, Product Review, Technology

Going Paperless with ScanSnap- Evernote Edition Scanner


Messy offices and desks are something that many of us have problems with. Over the years my office has gone through cycles ranging from minor embarrassment to total disaster. Occasionally, when I have had enough of the mess, I try to organize things, but soon piles of paper build up, staking their claim to my desk. Chaos occurs because I don’t have a system to deal with daily organization.

Paper is my biggest problem, so I decided to tackle it first. Dealing with paper should be an easy thing, but problems occur when an item doesn’t neatly fall into one of my pre-existing folders. Sometimes I’ll create a new folder if I feel that it warrants one, but often times it just gets put into a pile to be sorted later. Instead of getting sorted out, the pile soon grows and grows. I decided to attack the problem directly by trying to go paperless.

My tool of choice for this is the ScanSnap- Evernote Edition Scanner. This scanner is the special branded Evernote edition of the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner. The software for the regular iX500 is more versatile and has a few more features than the Evernote edition, but the workflow with Evernote is what appealed to me most. The Evernote edition is designed to automatically scan in documents, business cards, photos, and receipts into Evernote. I have used Evernote daily to store little bits of information and clipped web pages, so managing scanned documents seemed pretty natural. The ScanSnap- Evernote Edition comes with one year of Evernote Premium- you’ll definitely need managing this amount of data.

Now, as soon as something new comes across my desk, I deal with it immediately, deciding if it’s worth scanning or not. The ScanSnap is a duplex scanner, able to quickly scan both sides of a document at once. Multipage documents placed into the document feeder are scanned as quickly as they can be pulled in. Unless it’s an important document where I need to keep the original, it gets tossed in the shredder.

Scanned items show up in Evernote in various notebooks that you can set. From there you can label the items and file them into other notebooks. You can have the same problem as physical filing, the proliferation of notebooks but it is a lot easier and quicker to create virtual ones. But if you have too many of them it’s a little bit awkward dragging and dropping documents to the correct notebook.

One of the big benefits of filing things digitally is that instead of being buried in a physical folder, each document that is scanned into Evernote becomes searchable. I don’t know how many times I’ve found information that would be impossible to find if I had to go to the file cabinet. Documents are no longer just documents, but useable information.

There are a few little quirks in the workflow. The ScanSnap- Evernote Edition uses size to automatically differentiate between business cards, receipts, and documents. If you have two different documents, you must scan them individually or they end up in one file. If you have different sized items, you have to set it manually to document to get everything to scan into one document. Sometimes things are scanned in and are upside down and need to be manually rotated. You would think with Evernote’s automatic OCR that it would take care of it 100% of the time. It doesn’t.

Note: There is a video on the Evernote site that shows a bunch of papers, photos, receipts, and business cards sitting in the document feed being scanned in and automatically sorted. I think it is somewhat misleading, because Evernote can not sort between two different documents, any letter sized documents that are together gets scanned into the same document. Evernote suggests putting a business card between each letter sized document to break things into separate documents. In reality this not very practical. I have gotten used to scanning things in one at a time and this works fine for me.

The ScanSnap- Evernote Edition at $495 is a little pricier than other scanners, but to me it has been worth every penny. The ScanSnap can be found in Evernote Market.

Product Review

Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer on sale at Amazon


The Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer – Black and Chrome is on sale at Amazon for $206.99. This is a great deal for a great juicer. It’s a masticating juicer where an auger basically presses the juice out. I’ve had this juicer for over a year and it’s great for juicing greens like Kale. It’ll take pretty much anything except for really soft items like berries.
I often use the Omega J8006 to make a juice of kale, celery, and an apple. It works especially well on greens and harder vegetables. Not so much for berries and softer fruit
Update: Sale is currently over and the price is back to $267.97. If you can get the Omega J8006 around $200 it’s a really good deal for a very good juicer.
Cincinnati, Product Review

Love the Cone

I’ve lived in Cincinnati most of my life and I finally made it to The Cone in West Chester.  I’ve driven by the distinctive ice cream cone shaped building many times, but when I’m actually in the mood for ice cream, The Cone always seemed too out of the way.  But, tonight after dinner in the Union Centre area we decided to make a trip over.  TheCone1.jpg

It was a busy night at The Cone with a large gathering of people enjoying ice cream at the outdoor tables.  After looking at the extensive menu of sundaes and dipped cones, I opted for something simple, a large cone with a vanilla/strawberry swirl.
TheCone2.jpgThis is the best tasting soft serve ice cream that I’ve had in Cincinnati.  The strawberry was much more natural tasting than what you would expect for soft serve.  It even had little specks of strawberry in it!  My expectations for soft serve are pretty low because in my experience, it’s served out of convenience rather than taste.

But, even though the ice cream was great, the large cone is still a little more ice cream than what I needed.  I got taken in by the .50 cent up sell from the small.

The dipped cones came in all sorts of interesting colors.  We saw a girl eating a dipped cone with electric blue “magic” shell.  It’s a favorite of the kids, but a nightmare for clothing and car seats.

If you’re in West Chester, definitely stop by the The Cone.  I know that I’ll by stopping by again in the future.

Cincinnati, Product Review

Cabana on the River

With the weather being cooler now, if you’re looking for a nice outdoor spot to grab some food and beer, I recommend the Cabana on the River.

The Cabana on the River is west of downtown Cincinnati- about a 15- 20 minute drive along the Ohio River.  It was a popular spot the night we visited in May.

cabanaontheriver1.jpgIt has a fun vibe, starting with the artificial palm trees sprouting up near the parking lot.
cabanaontheriver2.jpgThe restaurant is quite large with both a covered indoor area and a large outdoor deck.  The indoor area is covered, but still feels very open.  Lots of large long tables that are perfect for large groups.

The downside to being outdoors is that is that people can and did smoke anywhere in the place.
  cabanaontheriver4.jpgcabanaontheriver3A.jpgThere was quite a long wait for an outdoor table that night we went so we staved off our hunger with a soft pretzel that we ordered at the bar.cabanaontheriver5.jpg

It is definitely worth the wait for a table on the deck.  There’s a great view of the Ohio River from the deck.  It’s very peaceful this far from the city with trees lining the river.  The only reminder that you’re near a large city is the occasional barge that floats by. cabanaontheriver6.jpg

This was by far the best outdoor seating I’ve had in Cincinnati.cabanaontheriver7.jpgcabanaontheriver9.jpg

This is the insanely large Certified Angus Beef chuck burger.  I asked the waitress and she said it was 3/4 of a pound of meat.  For size, note the iPhone next to it.

cabanaontheriver10.jpgThe burger was so large, I ended up tossing a few scraps to the cat that came to visit us while we were eating.
After several leisurely enjoyable hours we left, finding the trees had turned to neon.  We’ll definitely be back, not so much for the food which is adequate, but for the atmosphere and the view.  cabanaontheriver11.jpg

Product Review

Sanyo Eneloop Mobile USB Booster for iPhone Review

When traveling with my iPhone 3GS, I find myself using up battery charge much more quickly than while at home.  Whether it’s the use of the GPS, entertaining myself browsing the web, playing games, or watching movies, I am always worried about whether I’ll have enough charge to make it through the rest of the day.

The Sanyo Eneloop Mobile Booster is a compact and inexpensive solution to my traveling battery issues.  The Eneloop Mobile Booster is a 5000mAH Li-Ion battery pack that can recharge your iPhone 3GS a whopping four times!

I used it during my recent trip to Europe and it worked extremely well.  I used my iPhone for nearly the entire flight back as there was no personal entertainment system.  The Eneloop Mobile Booster kept the phone completely charged the whole time.  You just plug in your iPhone USB cable into it and your ready to go.  With this, you never have to worry about finding a plug at the airport again.  I highly recommend it

Right now, the Sanyo eneloop Mobile USB Booster for iPhone is being sold at Amazon for only $38.95.  I think this is an amazing deal for something that anyone who travels with their iPhone shouldn’t be without.

UPDATE Feb. 10, 2010:  It looks like Sanyo discontinued this particular Eneloop charger.  As an alternative you might try the ImaxPower IMP500 External Backup Battery 5000mAh white which has the same amount of charge as the Eneloop or the massive ImaxPower IMP880 iTouch External Backup Battery 8800mAh.


Eneloop1.jpgHere’s the size of the Eneloop Mobile Booster in comparison with the iPhone 3GS.  It’s about twice the thickness, but compact.