Category Archives: Update Your Life

Universal Remote Control URC-A6

Like many, I was plagued with having too many remote controls in my living room. Some friends had suggested the Logitech Harmony line. I ended up getting a Harmony 300i. It currently lives in the bedroom as it has some shortfalls that I could not tolerate on the main TV. My main issue though was Logitech’s programming that must be done with their software that connects with your email address. Its not a huge deal, but it wasn’t all that friendly to me.

Research led me to “URC” as being fully programmable. I ended up with the URC-6 for under $20 from Amazon. I picked it based on price and the fact that it has a “-” button. I need the “-” for watching OTA TV with the digital tuner in my TV.

My real need for the universal remote was my Sony SA-VA15 audio system that I don’t have a remote for. More on this later.

I really should have listened more to the Amazon reviews, and read the manual in full before even putting the batteries in. That said, I found myself best off manually programming my TV and Blu Ray player remotes button by button. The codes for my devices did not have enough buttons set to be fully useful. It was painless and took less than 10 minutes each.

Now that Sony SA-VA15… I got it from my brother in law a few years ago from his storage unit. It was missing cables and the remote. I was able to cobble together cables, but had to adjust settings by getting off the couch. First world problems… I used the URC-A6’s manual “guess” method for this. Basically getting into program mode and scrolling up until I found one that turned the thing on/off and adjusted the volume. I haven’t found out how to switch inputs yet, but I’m happy.

I would highly recommend the URC-A6.

Taking the Bing Challenge

I saw a TV commercial about the Bing Challenge and decided to give it a try. I’m a big fan of google, but hey, why not just see what happens in the challenge?

So I went over to http://www.bingiton.com/ (Bing It On) and found out how it works. They have you run 5 searches and on each one they split the screen and show you bing and google results, unbranded. You pick the one you prefer (Works best). I did it a few times and found out I prefer Bing. So now, a co-worker and I are trying Bing for a week.

Being a user of Gmail, and having activated the mail search function of google, I’m already missing that feature. I’m also missing the personalized results from my “circles”.

The quality of the actual search results I am finding to be pretty interesting. Bing seems to excel when I am looking up something I don’t know much about, while Google excels when I am looking for something very specific.

I will report more next week about the challenge.

 

Evernote

Anyone that has seen my desk knows that I write a lot of notes to myself. Reminders to do everything. Since moving into the house, I have been trying to be better about this though.

The problem: on any given day, I use up to 6 different electronic devices. I might read something on the computer that I would want to read on my Droid later that day. No problem with evernote. Its free for basic service and you can even share your notes with others.

I most recently got to enjoy the screen shot tool. By pressing print screen, a tool pops up where you can get a shot of all or part of the page you are looking at. This is pretty helpful if you’re having a problem or want to document something on your screen accurately.

Save time with RSS

Do you find yourself spending a lot of time reading web sites? I’m talking about the same sites that you check out on a regular basis. Maybe its financial news, or maybe its some guilty pleasure like the Perez Hilton celebrity gossip blog. Either way, we all have web sites that we regularly read and have to sort through to find the items we want to read more about. I see my own family members do this every day.

So what the heck am I talking about? Well, I’m talking about saving you time and giving your eyes a break from staring at a computer screen. Who knows, your family might even appreciate either the use of the computer or you being able to do something with them.

How do you do it? The easiest tool for this is the Google Reader. You need a google account, and then you can sign in at reader.google.com. Many of your regular sites will already have an RSS link. You just need to get that address and plug it in to the “Add a subscription” tool. Alternatively, they have a search feature that you can use to find what you are looking for.

Once you have your feeds setup, you can login to reader from any location and get updates on your most read items!