Friday, May 18, 2018

A Church Adventure: Challenge

An adventure is not always fun times. Recently our Church Adventure has been a challenge. It's in these times that I have to remind myself, that it's not about us, that I need to keep looking up to find His direction, to find His will, and ultimately to find peace in those two things, together with fellow believers. These times remind me that with human failings, our road may not be a smooth ride, but will contain rocky ways of ups and downs. But if we conquer these challenges together, with Him and His will in focus, we will prevail in sending out the Good News! With a bit of anxiety, I look forward to the next phases of our Church Adventure. I feel that when a "Church" is not focused on being lead by God, it is time to move on. Looking forward to what's ahead, with a renewed focus on Him and His will.

If you interested in the rest of our Church Adventure. Here are some links:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Music Review: Passion Whole Heart #PassionWholeHeart #FlyBy

I got an excellent opportunity to review the latest Passion Album called Whole Heart. Wow, I absolutely love the energy on this album. I would love to witness a Passion conference. Onto the album, I really love Ghost by Crowder. The lyrics, "Get Ready, there's an empty tomb, Get Ready, there's a ghost in the room, Get Ready, even mountains move, Get Ready, all the stories are True", are inspiring and the way he delivers it is amazing...
Another favorite is Great Are You Lord, by Matt Redman, I love to hear the gathered people singing along, all are there for one purpose, to Worship our Lord. It gives me goosebumps every time!

So all in all this particular album is great for myself as a re-centering or refocusing tool. During the week when I get bogged down or maybe experience a bit of negativity, I throw this album in my que on my phone, put my headphones in and in no time at all, I am re-centered and refocused on Jesus.

I would absolutely suggest this Album to family and friends. Thanks to FlyBy Promotions for the opportunity to review it.

Here is the list of songs and artists:
01. Whole Heart (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
02. Almighty God (feat. Sean Curran)
03. God, You’re So Good (feat. Kristian Stanfill & Melodie Malone)
04. Reckless Love (feat. Melodie Malone)
05. Heaven (feat. Sean Curran)
06. More Like Jesus (feat. Kristian Stanfill)
07. Hallelujah, Our God Reigns (feat. Brett Younker)
08. Ghost (feat. Crowder)
09. Ever Almighty (feat. Melodie Malone)
10. Great Are You Lord (feat. Matt Redman)
11. All My Hope (feat. Crowder & Tauren Wells)

* Material Connection Disclaimer: I received this music from FlyBy Promotions to provide a review on my blog. Stated above are my opinions and mine alone. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, February 19, 2018

Product Review: Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless Earbud Headphones in Titanium Black

This model of true wireless headphones are a great addition to my "must have with me" items. Where Jabra stands apart from the rest of the industry is in it's HearThrough setting, found in it's Sound+ app. This enables you to hear your surroundings while listening to you music. I use it for while I'm shopping or walking. It enables you to be safe while still jamming out to your tunes. I think the bass response in these headphones is about par for their compact size. The specs of this set offers up 5 hours in the headphone and a extra 10 hours stored in the case. I tested several times at around 4.5 hours in the headphones with about 9 hours of standby power in the case. As with anything battery operated, every use case is different.  I really appreciate the overall form factor of these headphones, they are comfortable and are not very big when they are in your ear. These headphones set themselves apart from several other brands with having a volume button on the left earbud. The three things I wish they had included, a little bit of grip or texture on the headphones themselves. I constantly feel like I'm going to drop them, A magnet in the case to grab a hold of the headphones when you are placing them into it to charge, I feel it takes a few seconds to make sure they are lined up in the case before closing the lid. Finally I also would like for the case to have a battery reserve indicator. It has a light showing when they are charging, but a set of four lights just giving you a quick idea of when you should charge the case again would be nice. These three things are absolutely just ideas maybe for the next version, I can live with the overall design of these Jabra Elite 65t True Wireless Earbud headphones.

I would recommend them to a friend or family member.

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or its manufacturer*

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Product Review: Acer 15 Chromebook

This Acer 15 Chromebook is my first of these types of devices. I love the form factor, it has an  decent screen but is not super heavy to carry around. There are a few things I dislike, but let's talk first about what I like. I love the fact that it has a 3950 mAh battery, that specs out at around the 12 hour mark. I did get 11 on my first run down of the system. That is pretty impressive for a 15 inch device. I really appreciate the keyboard's chiclet layout, and the touchpad positioning. I also enjoy the stereo speakers that fire upwards beside the keyboard, they are not of superior quality, but they are great when you are watching Netflix or YouTube. I noticed that it does have an expansion slot for an sd card to provide additional storage if needed down the road. The fact that this unit has the same proprietary chargers as the three  of my other Acer devices is convenient. I noticed also that Acer decided to embed a dual band, robust 802.11 AC Wifi radio. The price point of this device is where it got my attention, $199.99. That is a great price for a decent size all around computing machine.

Now onto the things I feel could be better, the screen is a little washed out, the processor is not a power house, but delivers for most daily tasks, the charger port as I mentioned above is the same as my other three devices, convenient, but really small and feels very fragile. The sd card slot as noted, is a nice feature, but don't plan on leaving the card in there during transportation, when plugged in, it does not sit flush with the side of the chromebook, it stands out about an inch, just waiting to be damaged. It is missing a USB type C port, with more and more equipment removing ports, but including the type c port, I have slowly been acquiring type C adapters that will not work with this device. With all of those downsides, I do have to remember that with the price of this unit those are things I can live with.

This Acer 15 Chromebook is a great unit to get everyday tasks done at an affordable price.

I would recommend this unit to family and friends, searching for a budget minded computing solution.

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or its manufacturer*

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Product Review: JBL - Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones - Black (Amazing)

These  JBL, Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones in Black are a great addition to my go bag. I have been using them for my workouts, and general music playback and phone calls for almost two weeks. There are many points of importance when purchasing these kind of devices. For myself, these types of headphones need to be easy to use, have decent sound quality, a stable connection system, ample battery life, and a comprehensive form factor/design.

These are easy to use, they paired with several of my devices simply. They also turn on immediately upon removal from their case. As with most of these kind of devices, on phone calls you will only be using the right earphone. Navigation of the button system is pretty easy. A single press of the right earphone button will answer/end a call, or pause/play music. A double press of the right earphone button will activate Google/Siri voice assistant. A single press of the left earphone button will advance your song selection. A double press of the left earphone button will return to the beginning of your song selection and a subsequent quick press will go back a song in your playlist. A triple press of either the left or right buttons will pair each earphone to the other. Holding either the left or right buttons for five seconds will cycle power. That is a lot to remember, and it's quite frustrating that the industry as a whole has not adopted a standard. I find that every manufacture is slightly different. Dropping the earphones into the case will also shut them down. I wish they had volume control on the earphones themself, having to adjust it on my phone is kind of a pain. You can use your voice assistant to change the volume, but for me that only works if I'm alone, I don't want to be that guy, talking to my phone...

Sound quality for these headphones is above what I expected. It was after playing around with the different ear tips, that I found a good balance between good bass without complete immersion. In most situations where these will be getting used, like exercising, walking, or shopping, I like to be able to use a little bit of ambient noise, to stay on the safe side of things. But with that being said if I have the urge to completely jam out to some tunes there is a pair of ear tips that will completely isolate me from the world and let me escape. While those ear tips  are installed the bass of these little units are incredible.

I have had mixed results with the connection system of these units. While it's main bluetooth connection between the right headphone and the phone is rock solid to both my Google Pixel and my Moto X(what I use for my media device). The connection system that connects the left headphone to the right headphone is up for debate. During it's first week of use, I had no issue. This past week the stereo connection has been horrible. I have been trying to figure out what may have changed as far as interference, maybe I am just retaining water more than I was in the first week of use (just call me a waterbag), When stereo drops in and out while listening to music, it can be quite frustrating...I will be seeking a resolution. **Update** - I just tested something, the connection issue I was having was when I was connected to the Moto X. The issue completely went away when I used them with my Google Pixel. I am guessing that it has to do with what version bluetooth is on the phone and the Pixel has a more current version. So that reinforces the fact that each individual may get different results depending on their environment and on the equipment you are using them with. I really wish that JBL would have included a NFC chip on the case, so that connecting would be even easier, especially when I connect to different devices with this pair of headphones.

The battery life on these headphones is sufficient, I got almost three and a half hours on my first charge, three and three quarters on  my second charge, and again almost three and a quarter on my final charge. I then had to recharge the case. I am not sure it was fully charged, but all four lights were on. With that being said my results show that if I got just one more use cycle out of them, it would be close to the 20 hour spec that is on JBL's website.

Where all of this can be lost, is if the headphones don't have a comprehensive form factor. The JBL, Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones win in this category. They are small enough that while in my ear, they don't feel heavy,  or unbalanced. The silicon skin that JBL provides for the body of the earphone does in fact keep the unit from moving around in your ear. The construction feels durable without the added bulk or weight. The buttons are easy to push with out me feeling like I am trying to destroy my ear canal. The one point of their design that made me actually state "Yes!" outloud, was the connection between the headphone and it's charging case. They incorporated rare earth magnets that almost grab the headphones right out of your fingertips and sucks them into the proper orientation for mating with their charging pins. I appreciate JBL for including this subtle feature.

All in all, these headphones are well designed, and pass all of my important points of purchase. While they aren't perfect, but they are almost. The two things I wish they had, would not stop me from recommending them to a family member or a friend. One being the lack of direct volume control on the headphones themselves, and two being the lack of a NFC chip. Two minor things, but things that would have scored these  JBL, Free True Wireless In-Ear Headphones in Black, a five out of five stars on my rating.

You too, can grab a pair of these over at BestBuy for $149.99

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or its manufacturer*

Friday, January 12, 2018

Product Review: Epson - ProSense 307 GPS Heart Rate Monitor Multisport Watch in Black

The initial setup of this unit, the Epson ProSense 307 GPS Heart Rate Monitor Multisport Watch in the color of black, was a breeze to start recording my movements, heartbeat and physical activities. The architecture of the watch's operating system is super easy to navigate, starting an activity is quick and efficient while starting GPS tracking if it's an outdoor activity and not if it's an indoor activity. The specs mention that it has smart notifications, but to successfully make them work I found that you have to leave the Epson View app open on my phone, which consumes battery while maintaining a bluetooth connection with the watch. I have opted to not use it like that. I disable the bluetooth on the watch and only turn it on at the end of the day to retrieve all of my activities data from the watch, this also conserves power so I don't have to charge it every night. To view my activities on the Epson View app is simple and concise. I would love to use it to track my sleep, but it's footprint is just a bit big and uncomfortable, I have yet to last a whole night with it staying on my wrist. I can't wait to use it for some hiking and some bike rides. I would suggest to any of my fitness oriented friends, as a great addition to their workouts, but not as a true smartwatch. It is definitely geared to the fitness tracking realm of things

What I like:
Easy to use
High contrast and Backlit display
It's own GPS
Easy to sync

What I don't like:
Smart notification limitations
It's pretty big

I am using this device with a Google Pixel and only had one failed connection issue when initially setting it up. On the second attempt it synced and has been since.

*I do have a material connection regarding this piece of equipment or its manufacturer*

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Product Review: Nest - Secure Alarm System & Connect

This Security system by Nest was a pleasure to install. The directions were very easy and concise within it's app, even while installing the motion detectors and other peripherals. I was not sure this unit would provide ample coverage without needing to purchase more motion detectors. We have several entrance points on our main level. But with it's sensitivity, everything with this unit was enough to cover our entry points. This unit came with one Nest base unit. two Nest sensors(for door/window open or motion) and two Nest tags. I love that the tags can arm or disarm without having to enter a code. To my knowledge there are no monitoring options for this unit, but that is to come in the future, which means there are no monthly fees for it to work, and work well. The moment it does not see motion for a period it notifies you that it looks like no one is home, and asks if you would like to arm the system. I appreciate the fact that it is pet friendly, or at least dog friendly, our 15 pound Bishon/Poodle mutt has not set it off yet. I am a little disappointed that there is not more integration into the Google Home interface. I found several things that interface with the Nest thermostat, but not the Nest Secure??? If you are looking for this unit to alert you that a door or a window has opened immediately, this is not the unit you need. The shortest option for notification of a breach is 30 seconds. I am not sure why they would not include a night feature to enable instant notification. If I were installing this in my daughters home, or my parents home, I would want that type of a feature to be available. I may be missing something, in the software, but I feel I have seen other complaints about this.

Why I would recommend it:
Easy to install, and no monitoring fee.

This unit is one I would recommend to a friend with certain security needs, but this does not fulfill every security need.

Nest Connect.

This Nest Connect peripheral, allows to extend your Nest Secure digital security footprint. Keeping you Nest Secure system online even in a larger home. It was super easy to install, and does exactly what it states. I have had no connections issues since I installed it.