Zyroshell car and desk phone cradle review

Originally a Kickstarter project, the Zyroshell car and desk phone cradle is making its way out of the labs and into our cars and offices.

I’ve had the Zyroshell phone cradle for a while now and almost forgot I had it as it has blended in so well. It’s a gadget that’s so simple but functional. I’ve used this in a couple of cars the first of which is an Acura and it was nice to have something to hold my phone during the morning and afternoon commutes. The only negative thing I would have to say is that when I removed the device from the one car to move it to another there was a degree of residue left behind. In fact you could see the outline of where the unit was adhered to the dashboard.

phone cradle
phone cradle

Now that I’ve moved it into the Honda I think its found a permanent home as the entire family has found value in it whether it be from using the maps and GPS applications in our smartphones to watching videos on Netflix like SpongeBob Squarepants. I like the metallic look of the unit and the fact that my smartphones quickly adhere to the cradle. This is a refreshing option compared to some of the plastic-y types of units available. One word of caution though, just make sure you push your smartphone firmly onto the cradle. There is a gel pad that is used to temporaily attach your phone and if you don’t push firmly enough you may find your phone on the floor. Also remember to replace the dust cover to the gel pad after every use otherwise the life of your unit could be compromised. Here’s a description from the Kickstarter page.

The baseplate attaches to dashboards or desks using a gel pad (non-adhesive sticky technology). The gel pads leave no sticky residue, are reusable, as well as washable.

The ultra-low profile (2.4mm), soft and flexible design of the baseplate conforms to curved dashboards and console areas. The upper wing of the cradle has a strong gel pad to hold the phone securely through extensive vibration. However, it can easily be detached by hand.

Overall I would rate this item a “BUY”. It’s solid and works as advertised. There were a couple of issues though but I’m sure the vendor is looking at getting those resolved.

Find Phone Cradles at Amazon

If you’re interested in buying the Zyroshell you can get one on their website.



phone cradle



honda phone cradle

Nokia Lumia 1020 battery life issues, problems and troubleshooting tips and tricks

I’ve been testing out the Nokia Lumia 1020 over the past few days and haven’t been able to get the battery to last more than a day with very minimal usage. I have reset the phone from Settings > About > Reset and hope to see what happens from there. I will keep you all posted. I have also removed the charging cover and am not using the charging plate at this time but only connecting directly to a power source. At this point the device is completely drained and in the process of charging back up.

BV-5XW Battery
BV-5XW Battery

If you have any issues or resolutions to the Nokia Lumia 1020 battery issues, please post a comment below. Thanks!

Edit Oct. 10, 2013: I’ve been in touch with the vendor and found this is not normal behaviour for these units and will be sending in for a fix. FYI the 1020 was fully charged last night when I went to bed and completely drained when I woke up in the morning. I had done a factory reset and hadn’t installed any apps. I’ll keep you all posted.

FYI, one thing I forgot to mention was that in Settings > Battery Saver, I had turned this feature on for the Lumia 1020 and I noticed on the other Nokia smartphone I had been using, the Lumia 920, a small heart appeared when the battery got low and would literally last up to 5 days just on standby.

I’ve been checking out the Nokia Forums and found the following post that may be related.

The heat is normal in devices, and that said, also to note that if there is more battery being drained then the charger is able to produce, than it will drain. this could be especially more common on the laptops if you are charging from them.

Couple of things could be… the GPS is hung in a loop and though the application is not showing doesn’t mean that the component isn’t stuck on some how, sucking battery power. The GPRS connection is stuck/locked in the background, not letting you get on, and also a sort of “short” causing battery drain.

My guess is that you have already rebooted the device. If not, try it to be sure that it gives the device the opportunity to shut everything down completely. so let it be off for at least 2 minutes to be sure the power drains.

If that doesn’t work, there could be corruption…it happens and not necessarily anything you have done….and you could try factory resetting the device through the settings/about/reset your phone, or you could hard reset it by turning off the device, then hold the camera+vol down+power until you feel it vibrate and then release ONLY the power button so that it will continue to start. Doing this will wipe your device to factory state and completely reinstall the OS on the EMMC. so if there are any corruption issues that should fix it…if it doesn’t, take it back to ATT and swap it out immediately.

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The problem with texting

I’ve been texting since the dawn of cell phones and not until just recently have I felt the true reason why it can be an ineffective means of communications versus the good old fashioned telephone call. What turned out to be an okay event plan could have been an absolute disaster. Fortunately the good Lord was on my side that day but in my mind a whole lot of anxiety and a bit of panic about what could have happened stayed with me for several hours.

On Saturday I worked and the plan was for me to leave early to meet my wife and son at a soccer event in Downtown Vancouver, BC. Now we live in the deep suburbs south of the Fraser River and the plans would need to be coordinated in order for us to meet up successfully at our destination in Vancouver.

Find a new smartphone at Amazon

There must have been something like 40 messages flashing back and forth about possible options and ideas about how we’ll meet up, things to bring, things to consider. In the end I went with my original plan of taking the Skytrain and meeting up at BC Place. As I made my way to the Skytrain platform my phone began to ring. It was my wife and she said, “where are you? How come you’re not here yet?”smartphone case

Well immediately I felt a bit of panic, “what do you mean?” and she says “didn’t you see my latest text message which said meet me at home just after 2:00?” Then I said well didn’t you see my original text that said we’ll meet Downtown? From there I didn’t know if I should go left or right but we decided to meet up Downtown anyways.

As I proceeded towards the final destination I got another hit of panic as I realized that I didn’t have the tickets for the event. I phoned my wife over and over but she wasn’t answering as she was en route to the Skytrain herself. I thought perhaps I should just turn around and go back home to check as I suspected she didn’t have them. Fortunately for all of us she had the tickets.

Crisis averted. However this discourse left a bad taste in my mouth for the medium of texting. I believe that a phone call could have been a more comprehensive means of getting all the plans sorted out from the get go. And when we finally met up at the event I made her promise that we would never use texting for event planning again.

So what exactly is the problem with texting? Many of us do it continuously throughout our busy days. The nice thing about texting is that conversations can be short and to the point. In other words no bullshit and lets cut to the chase. The problem I’m seeing is the fragmentation of the thought process. We write a message, move onto another task then come back to the conversation. The conversational flow is lost.

Another issue is that you don’t know if the message was acknowledged and “mentally digested”. We have become a society of “skimmers and scanners” when we’re on the Internet. Hell I’ll bet most people reading this post aren’t actually reading it but skimming for content based on their present needs. And this behavior transfers over to our text conversations and makes for ineffective communications.

You may heard that teens and pre-teens are having issues even communicating face-to-face thanks to the ubiquity of text messaging applications. Well I’m not looking forward to having my kids plan out events in the future exclusively through text.  According to a post from Time, “as with real reading, the ability to comprehend subtlety and complexity comes only with time and a lot of experience. If you don’t adequately acquire those skills, moving out into the real world of real people can actually become quite scary. “I talk to kids and they describe their fear of conversation,” says Turkle. “An 18-year-old I interviewed recently said, ‘Someday, but certainly not now, I want to learn to have a conversation.’”

Apparently the problem with having physical conversations could be just as big as the problem with texting. I guess the real question is why is it so difficult to communicate effectively? Perhaps it is because our focus is torn in so many ways in this digital world. I would like to suggest that we take some time out and focus on recovering our conversational talents; after all speaking and thinking is what makes us fully human.

Can you take some time away from texting and make an effort to have deep conversations with others regardless of how difficult and awkward that may be? Why or why not?


The 10 most anticipated video games of 2013

The release of Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA5) heralded the beginning of video game season. This is the time of year that developers like to release the video game blockbusters in the months leading up to Christmas. Video Games are becoming so big these days they are surpassing movies in revenue and GTA5 made $800 million on launch day stealing the record from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 set in 2012. These numbers are huge and the demand for these blockbusters hits new records every year. So what other video games can we look forward to in 2013?

Buy Grand Theft Auto 5

Watch DogsUbisoft Watch Dogs

Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs due to release on November 19th is a “Person of Interest” type of game.  According to the developer, “you play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, whose criminal past led to a violent family tragedy. While seeking justice for those events, you’ll monitor and hack those around you by manipulating the ctOS from the palm of your hand. You’ll access omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control traffic lights and public transportation to stop the enemy… and more.”

Buy Watch Dogs

Pokemon X and Y

Pokemon X and Y

Nintendo’s Pokemon X and Y is going to be a ton of fun! According to the press release courtesy of our friends at Games Press, “… Mega Evolution is a new, awe-inspiring transformation certain Pokémon can undergo during battle in the highly anticipated Pokémon X and Pokémon Y video games. Pokémon that Mega Evolve will tap into hidden reserves of strength and power that have never been realised in their regular Evolutions, giving players battling with a Mega-Evolved Pokémon a dominant advantage. Mega Evolutions will revolutionise Pokémon battles and usher in a new Pokémon transformation never-before-seen in the Pokémon world.”

Buy Pokemon X and Y

Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls
From the Sony Playstation site,

From the visionary mind of David Cage, director of the award-winning Heavy Rain™ game, comes the most powerfully emotional experience on the PlayStation®3 system. A singularly unique psychological action thriller delivered by A-list Hollywood performances, Beyond: Two Souls™ takes you on a thrilling journey across the globe as you play out the remarkable life of Jodie Holmes.

Born with a connection to a mysterious entity with incredible powers, Jodie was different. In an adventure spanning 15 years of her life, your actions will determine Jodie’s fate as she faces extraordinary challenges, danger, and heartwrenching loss on a journey to discover the truth of who she is. Beyond: Two Souls promises an emotionally-charged journey unlike any video game before.

Buy Beyond: Two Souls

Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins

Looking to be another great play, Batman: Arkham Origins is bound to be a top seller. The developer’s site explains the premise,

“Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous villains and assassins, the game showcases a young, raw, unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, witness identities being formed and key relationships being forged.”

Buy Batman: Arkham Origins

Battlefield 4

For those of you that like all out chaos and warfare Battlefield 4 might be the best place to land for the holiday season. This one looks intense and you may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after playing this one.

Here’s the blurb from the manufacturer, “Battlefield 4™ is the genre-defining action blockbuster made from moments that blur the line between game and glory — moments found only in Battlefield. With dynamic destructible environments, epic vehicular combat, and the chaos of all-out war, Battlefield 4 gives you the freedom to do more and be more for an unrivaled entertainment experience. Immerse yourself in the chaos of all-out war, in a series of unscripted controller-dropping moments, made possible by the power of Frostbite 3. Available on XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and the next-generation consoles.”

Buy Battlefield 4


FIFA Soccer 14

For you soccer (football) fans out there, FIFA Soccer 14 is always anticipated. Here’s the description from Amazon.

“Experience the emotion of scoring great goals in FIFA 14. The game plays the way great soccer matches are contested, with innovations to the award-winning gameplay that inspire fans to build play through midfield, dictating the tempo of a match. Feel the tension as chances are created, and experience the thrill of hitting the back of the net. A new feature called Pure Shot and a brand-new ball physics system will transform shooting, making every shot attempt feel real, and when players connect with the perfect strike, feel exhilarating. FIFA 14 delivers engaging online features and live services that connect fans to the heartbeat of the sport – and to each other – through EA SPORTS Football Club. FIFA 14 is soccer’s social network, where fans connect, compete and share with millions of others around the world.”

Buy FIFA 14

Killzone: Shadow Fall

Courtesy of Sony Entertainment, Killzone Shadow Fall takes place 30 years after the events of Killzone 3. Set in an era of interplanetary colonization, it focuses on the conflict between the Vektans and the Helghast, two rival colonist factions inhabiting a distant planet. For three decades, both factions have lived side by side, separated by an enormous security wall – but now their cold war is about to go hot.

It’s up to Lucas Kellan, a member of the military intelligence unit known as the Shadow Marshals, to try to protect the fragile peace that exists. A new warrior for a new era of war, Kellan ‘s missions will range from quiet infiltrations to all-out combat. Lucas will need to be methodical and ready to adapt, as any misstep could lead to mutually assured destruction!

Buy Killzone:Shadow Fall

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

For the Nintendo Wii U fans out there, The Legend of Zelda has been around since they beginning of the Nintendo consoles. This franchise has built up to a cult like status and this next release is definitely one you won’t want to miss.

Buy The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD




Apple iOS 7 – the fireplace, blanket and hot chocolate have been stripped away

I’ve heard at least one tech columnist refer to the new Apple iOS 7 as looking like the user interface fell into a “bucket of clown makeup.” Now while I have to agree that the new interface is vastly different from its predecessor is this really an improvement? I understand that Apple wants to achieve minimalism in its products and this is definitely a step in that direction. Gone are lines and the look and feel of a pad of paper when using the “Notes” native app.

apple ios 7
apple ios 7

As a long time iPhone user it feels to me like something is missing, something familiar. You know that feeling that you get in the dead of winter when you cuddle up with a blanket in front of a fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate and a good show on the TV. To me it feels like the fireplace, blanket and hot chocolate have been stripped away.

When all I see is a white expanse in the Notes app I keep asking myself what’s missing and it’s the ruled paper look of the app. Personally it seems like the app is unfinished now. The other comparison I’m making is that Apple is copying the Windows Metro app look and feel. Take for example the Mail native app, many of the lines and dividers are gone in lieu of minimalism. Perhaps when I’m feeling sentimental I could always pull out my iPad 1 to look at the old and familiar interface though! But enough about the detractors as I would like to reflect on what has improved and the positives.

I like the fact that I can get spotlight from anywhere on any of the home screens by simply swiping down in the middle. This is a nice change and gets me quickly

apple ios 7
apple ios 7

to where I need to go. I also like the fact that I can swipe down on the lock screen to access my notifications and swipe up from the lock screen to see a bunch of other commonly used apps such as music, stopwatch, calculator and camera. The new wallpapers are also very nice and add to the sereneness of the new user interface. Another feature I really like is the new multitasking. This one was long overdue and Apple was falling behind here as vendors like Microsoft and Android were offering cleaner multitasking usability. AirDrop also sounds like a great feature as I often end up texting photos to friends with iPhones close by.

I’ve heard about a number of people suffering from bricked iPhones and so before taking on the task of updating my phone I did the following (which I cobbled together from various posts and forums):

  • Backed up and synced my iPhone with iTunes.
  • Synced my photos and videos with iPhoto and then deleted all from my iPhone to free up space.
  • Went into Settings > General > Usage and deleted any old unnecessary apps and app data which may have been taking up valuable space.
  • Updated iTunes to 11.1.x
  • Downloaded iOS 7 using the Download Only option.
  • apple ios 7
    apple ios 7

    Ensured that I had enough free space on my iPhone as issues related to bricking were happening in many cases because there were only a few MB of free space. At last check I had 15+ GB free space so no issues there.

  • Once the download completed I plugged my iPhone back into my iMac and updated via the update button in iTunes.
  • Proceeded to update my apps as they became available.


All went as planned and I was able to update my phone without any bricking issues. How about you? Have you had a chance to check out iOS 7? Let me know what you encountered on your upgrade journey.

Nokia Lumia 920 – Windows Phone 8 Review

So I’ve finally got around to playing with a Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 920 to be exact. < Yay for me! > I know, I know I should have been checking these things out earlier but hey running a blog with only 2 contributors (Ben Abel and Jay Kenobi) is a lot of work, plus we only do this in our spare hours.  By the way if you’re interesting guest posting let me know! Anyways I ramble. Now onto the review.

Find a Nokia Lumia 920 Black Factory Unlocked 32GB phone 4G LTE

Windows Phone 8
Windows Phone 8

So my initial thoughts and feeling about switching to a Windows Phone 8 system were many and varied. If you’ve been using one mobile operating system (OS) such as Android, iOS, or BlackBerry for some time it definitely takes the brain a while to get accustomed to the new functionality.

What I like about the Nokia Lumia 920

  • The phone itself is nice and has a good feel to it. I like the size and find it good for texting. In other words my fingers are able to press the keys and were able to hit the correct letters 9 times out of 10.
  • The camera: It claims to have Carl Zeiss optics however on closer inspection there really isn’t much in the way of optics to speak of. The camera however does take amazing photos for a mobile device. The videos are also great. If you want to see all the specifications check out the Nokia site.
  • The touch screen is very reactive. No problems here. Also I noticed the screen is hard to get dirty. There must be a special coating on it that resists fingerprints etc.
  • The three buttons on the front (back, Windows home screen, and search) These got me around quickly and easily.

What I didn’t like about the Nokia Lumia 920

  • Windows Phone 8
    Windows Phone 8

    I’m still not sure that I like the way the phone is constructed. It seems like the screen is pasted onto the front of the phone, it doesn’t seem like it’s unified on the engineering side of things. Check out the HTC One or most Apple devices and you’ll see what I mean.

  • The phone seems a bit blocky to me. Perhaps it needs some refinements in shape.

What I like about Windows Phone 8 (OS)

  • Live tiles. I love the fact that you can rearrange and change the size of the tiles at will. The live data is really great but I can see that developers are still not playing up this feature as much as they could.
  • Ease of use. It’s just easy to find what you want and with the latest release of the OS you can click a letter to go quickly to “S” where the Settings feature lives or “G” where the Games feature is.
  • Holding down the back button to see all the open Windows / Apps at a glance. This is the way multitasking should work on a mobile device.
  • The search button. I like the fact that you can search quickly from the search button. I like the quick suggestions and the auto correct features here.

What I didn’t like about Windows Phone 8 (OS)

  • I still think that system applications and settings and downloaded apps should be separated somehow on the secondary screen. It would make it a lot easier to navigate.
  • The search button is tied into Bing. This is understandable from the Microsoft perspective since the company is trying to promote it’s own search engine. It’s fine to make Bing the default but seriously Microsoft give people a way to change the option to Google! Note there is a Google app download available which works quite well so not totally a big deal.
  • WiFi options should be easier to access. I don’t want to go into Settings every time I want to connect. It would be nice if there was a quick launch for this feature.
  • It would be nice if you could kill running applications from the multitasking screen!

Find a Nokia Lumia 920 Black Factory Unlocked 32GB phone 4G LTE

If you’re already tied into Microsoft desktop products such as Windows 7 or 8 it will probably make sense to go with the Windows Phone 8 and the Nokia Lumia 920 specifically. This is a great device overall and a lot of fun to use as well. If you run a business with Microsoft Exchange server as back end then going with the Windows Phone 8 just makes sense. It’s a complete end to end ecosystem and what with BlackBerry faltering the decision to go with this platform is even easier.

Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920