What I Use: Logitech UE Boom

I love music. I listen to many different types of music from hip-hop to jazz to rock to whatever else catches my ear. Music eases the nerves and relaxes the mind. I try to listen to music whenever I can especially at work. Headphones are nice but can be a bit annoying having to stop music and take them off whenever someone comes into my office. So I decided to look into buying a portable, wireless speaker. After some research, I choose the Logitech UE Boom.

The Logitech UE (Ultimate Ears) Boom is a compact, durable wireless Bluetooth speaker that reminds me of a Mountain Dew Kickstart can. It has a diameter of 6.5cm (2.6”), height of 18 cm (7.1”) and weighs only 538g (19oz). Perfect size to slip in a backpack or messenger bag. It’s available in six different colors and its design makes it stain-resistant and water-resistant (but not waterproof). The UE Boom also has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that gives you up to 15 hours of playing time.

Connecting your device (smartphone, tablet, laptop) to the UE Boom is simple. Either use Bluetooth to pair the speaker to your device (you are able to pair up to 8 Bluetooth enabled source devices) or connect it to NFC-enabled devices with a simple tap. Once your device is paired to the UE Boom, you can connect to it from up to 50 ft away. In addition, two devices can be actively connected to it at the same time. This means that you and a friend (or office mate) can take turns sharing and playing music. I have mine connected to my Surface Pro 2 and Samsung Galaxy S5.

The thing that really drew me to choosing the UE Boom over other portable, wireless speakers was the UE Boom app. The app, available for both Android and iOS, gives you access to additional features such as equalizer (EQ) presets, the ability to use the UE Boom as an alarm and connect two UE Booms together in stereo. The app also allows you to perform updates to your speaker.

The one negative thing about the UE Boom is the price. At $199, the UE Boom can be considered too expensive to be considered good value especially when you can purchase the Sonos Play:1 for the same price and get a better quality speaker. That price is also too expensive for the Beats Pill and Bose Soundlink Mini in my opinion.  The advantage of the UE Boom is its portability and durability if you are looking for a speaker to use on the go.

Overall, the Logitech UE Boom offers solid performance in a simple design. It looks good and has a decent sound (the bass is surprisingly good, but it’s still limited). The UE Boom is one of the better portable Bluetooth speakers available today.

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Tech Tip: Photos Not Uploading From Samsung Galaxy S5 To OneDrive

I recently upgraded my Samsung Galaxy S4 to the Samsung Galaxy S5. Upon installing OneDrive (the Microsoft cloud-based storage solution formerly known as SkyDrive), I noticed that even though I selected the option to Turn on Camera Backup, none of the pictures I took with the S5 were auto-uploading into OneDrive. Of course, being the geek that I am, I had to figure out why. After some trial and error, I finally was able to get auto-sync to work on my new S5.

  1. Uninstall the OneDrive app from my S5.
  2. On your computer, log into www.onedrive.com.
  3. Locate a folder named Camera Roll (or SkyDrive Camera Roll in my case). Create a new folder (name it something like “Old Phone Photos” or something) and move all the pictures in the current Camera Roll folder into it.
  4. Once you have all the pictures moved into the new folder that you just created, delete the old Camera Roll folder.
  5. Go back to your S5. Download and reinstall OneDrive from the Google Play store.
  6. Start the OneDrive app. During the initial log in, you will be prompted to decide if you want to turn on camera backup. Select Turn On and this will create a new Camera Roll folder on OneDrive (the path will be <yourname> OneDrive\Pictures\Camera Roll). Once that has been done, you will notice that all the new pictures on your S5 will begin uploading into OneDrive.
  7. Once all the new pictures have uploaded into OneDrive, you can move the pictures from the new folder that you created into the new Camera Roll folder if you choose to do so.

Here is the secret to troubleshooting smartphone and other mobile devices: most of the troubleshooting steps are the same as you would use if you were troubleshooting a typical computer. This allowed me to quickly figure out the solution to this issue.

Please note that while these steps worked on my Samsung Galaxy S5, I cannot confirm that they would on aother phones such as the HTC One or iPhone. Doesn’t hurt to try and who knows, you might be lucky.

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Spending Time With the Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Being an IT professional, especially in academia, has it’s advantages. The biggest advantage is getting access to new gadgets to play around with….I mean test. I was given the chance to test drive the recently released Microsoft Surface Pro 3. I have had a Surface Pro 2 since February and it has been my go-to, everyday computer since that time. So imagine my excitement when I was given the opportunity to get my hands on the Surface Pro 3.

That Surface Pro 3 that I am “testing” has a 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor with 256GB internal storage and 8GB of system memory. The battery life is estimated at around 9 hours. While the insides are impressive, it’s what on the outside that makes the Surface Pro 3 an appealing device. Unlike the 10.6-inch displays with 1920 x 1080 resolution in the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, the Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch ClearType Full HD Display with a 2160 x 1440 resolution. It is also much thinner and more lightweight as well. The look and feel of the design is very similar to that of the Surface 2.

One of the first things that I noticed about the Surface Pro 3 was that using it on a desk was a much better experience. The way the new Type Cover connects to the Surface Pro 3, along with the new multi-position kickstand, gives it that laptop/ultrabook feel when you are using it. The new Type and Touch Covers are slightly bigger than the previous ones but the size and layout of the keys are still the same. The touchpad is larger, more responsive and has a noticeable, mechanical “click” when you use it. While it’s an improvement over the earlier Type (and Touch) Covers, it’s still not at the same as using a touchpad on a laptop. Furthermore, I still found it a bit awkward to use the Surface Pro 3 in my lap in the same manner as a traditional laptop BUT it’s not as awkward as trying to do the same with the previous Surface Pro tablets.

The coolest feature of the Surface Pro 3 is how the new Surface pen interacts with the device. Clicking the top of the pen opens Microsoft OneNote. Even cooler is that if you click the pen while your Surface is in sleep mode, it opens a blank OneNote document so that you can start taking notes without having to log into your device. One thing to keep in mind as it relates to the new pen is that it is battery powered and requires a single AAAA battery.

And now the question that is on everyone’s mind: Is it worth upgrading if you already own an earlier model? It depends. If you have a first generation Surface Pro and it is your primary computer, then it might be a worthwhile upgrade if you can afford it. However, if you have the Surface Pro 2, it becomes a tough decision. In addition, if you are like me and invested in accessories for your Surface Pro 2 (e.g. Power Cover, docking station), the decision becomes even tougher because many of the previous generation Surface accessories, such as the docking station, power supply and Surface Pro pen, will not work with the Surface Pro 3. Surprisingly, the Touch and Type Cover 2 will click in and work with Surface Pro 3. They just will look a bit odd because they are not designed to cover the whole screen when closed. It basically boils down to what your needs are (larger screen and/or lightweight design) and if you can afford to upgrade.

Overall, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is definitely a huge improvement over the previous generations. If you are looking for the a single device that function as both a tablet and a laptop, look no further because this is the first Windows tablet that gives you portability and power without any major sacrifices. Third time’s the charm as they say.

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Surface Keyboard Shortcuts

As you know, I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 with the Touch Cover keyboard a few months ago. One of the first things that you notice is that the Touch Cover keyboards, as well as the Type Cover keyboards, don’t have every single key you’ll find on other keyboards. If you love keyboard shortcuts like me, you may get a little lost when you first start using either of the Surface keyboards. Fear not, Microsoft has a variety of Surface-specific keyboard shortcut combinations that you can use to make things easier.

  • Start (Windows logo key) – Go to Start screen
  • Start + B – Go to Desktop
  • Start + C – Open charms
  • Start + D – Show Desktop
  • Start + E – Open Windows Explorer on Desktop
  • Start + F – Search files
  • Start + H – Open Sharing
  • Start + I – Open Settings
  • Start + J – Switch focus to/from snapped windows
  • Start + K – Open Devices
  • Start + L – Lock Screen/Switch Users
  • Start + M – Minimize everything on the Desktop
  • Start + O – Lock Screen Orientation
  • Start + P – Open Second Screen utility
  • Start + Q – Search Apps
  • Start + R – Open Run Menu on the Desktop
  • Start + T – Open Task Bar in Desktop
  • Start + U – Open Ease of Access Center on the Desktop
  • Start + V – Cycle Notifications
  • Start + Shift + V – Cycle Notifications (reverse)
  • Start + W – Search Settings
  • Start + X – Open System Utility menu
  • Start + Z – Open App bar
  • Start + , – Peek at Desktop
  • Start + . – Snap Metro App Windows Toggle
  • Start + Shift + . – Snap Metro App Windows Toggle (reverse)
  • Start + Enter –  Narrator Settings
  • Start + Tab –  Cycle Metro Apps
  • Alt + Tab – Application switcher, different look than task manager
  • Ctrl + Escape – Toggle between last open app and current app
  • Fn + Del – Increases screen brightness.
  • Fn + Backspace –  Decreases screen brightness
  • Fn + Left arrow –  Home
  • Fn + Right arrow – End
  • Fn + Up arrow –  Page Up
  • Fn + Down arrow –  Page Down
  • Fn + Spacebar – Print Screen
  • Fn + Alt + Spacebar – Print Screen for the current window only

One thing to note is that you can lock the Fn key by pressing  Fn + Caps so that the F1-F12 keys act as function keys. For example, if you wanted to increase the volume you would have to press Fn + F3. If you just press F3, it will open up a search box. After pressing Fn + Caps, the F1-F12 keys will function with a single key press so you could just press F3 to increase the volume. Press Fn + Caps again to unlock those keys.

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