Monday, July 15, 2013

Keyboard Cases for My iPad Mini

I bought my husband a Logictech Keyboard Cover for his iPad for Father's Day, so he bought me one for my mini. I LOVE it! It's a sturdy case with an easy-on, easy-off keyboard. The iPad fits in nicely in a groove making just the right angle for viewing. The keys are small so it's an adjustment to learn the new keyboard spacing, but it's doable. All-in-all, I enjoy using it rather than the on-screen keyboard in the iPad itself.

Then, today, I received a complimentary keyboard to review: the ArcLight Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Case. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome when reviewing this keyboard ($52.95 List/currently $29.95 on Amazon) was the fact that I’ve been using the Logitech ($79.99 List/currently $69 on Amazon) for the past two months. This is like comparing a diamond to cubic zirconia! There is quite a bit of price difference.

Therefore, to make it fair, I’m going to tell you what I like about the ArcLight and what I don’t. What you spend on a Keyboard Case is up to you. Everyone knows that, in general, you get what you pay for; and this is true for electronics, as well.

1. The Case: The case is fairly substantial when you consider it is made from some sort of plastic, and it will probably stand up under light-to-normal wear and tear.  The case provides easy access to all the ports of the iPad, and you don’t have to take it out of the case to charge it. It has a really neat feature of a rotating backrest so you can view your iPad either horizontal or vertical. This is great for reading and playing games. I don’t know of any other keyboard case that makes it this easy. (Note: look at the photos on the instruction manual to see how to adjust the backrest. You’ll never figure it out, otherwise!) What I didn’t like about the case is that it’s extremely difficult to open without the iPad in it. It took me a several tries to get it open, even after several tries. I did discover that it’s easier to open once the iPad is in the case. That’s a good thing, because it’s even harder to get off! I even got my hand stuck for a while trying to get it off.  (The instructions didn’t help much on this. It’s just really stuck.)

2. Pairing: Pairing was a cinch! So easy – just turn it on, turn on your iPad’s Bluetooth, enter a code and it’s done.

3. The Keys: Because the iPad Mini is so small, any keyboard you buy will also be small. Therefore, manufacturers tend to eliminate some of the keys and move others around to accommodate this small space. On the ArcLight, however, most of the keys are there and in the right location. The only major differences are the brackets, question mark, quote marks, apostrophe, and lines. (These keys are combined with other letters and require the use of the fn key.) The ArcLight includes an option and command key on both sides of the space bar, and it has arrow keys in the right place. The delete key is bigger than most other keyboard cases, which is nice. However, because it retains these keys, the space bar is much smaller, the keys are smaller and have less space between them than other keyboards. This makes touch-typing awkward, if not impossible. I honestly don’t think a person with large fingers could do touch-typing on this unit. However, if you have small fingers or prefer to use the hunt and peck method, you should be able to adjust to the keyboard. For me, I use the question mark and apostrophe frequently and found the use of the fn key too frustrating.

4. The Bottom Line: IF you’re on a budget, the ArcLight may meet your needs. You can't even go out to dinner today for $29! I do recommend that you try typing on it first to make sure your fingers will fit the keyboard, if that's important. If you have a bigger budget, however, I recommend you buy the LogicTech. It's a better quality cover, easier to put on and take off, and the keyboard is better for touch typing.

I Choose C - this is funny!

There's a lot of controversy these days about Common Core. I don't know enough about it yet to make an intelligent decision on which way I would like to see our education system go. I am still in the process of finding out more about it. However, I did find this video online and I think it's hilarious!

Unfortunately, I have personally experienced kids who act like this. Our education system definitely needs fixing and I don't believe money is the answer. Not when so many private schools and homeschool kids receive a great education on a lot less. (I'm not saying that teachers are paid adequately - just that there is enough money spent per student. I think there needs to be better pay for teachers and less top-heavy administration costs.)

I do like the idea of incorporating more real life learning in school as Common Core seems to be addressing; however, I don't want National control of education. The government doesn't need one more thing to mess up, make more expensive, or to regulate according to an elite few.

I also don't like the way kids now have to learn algebra in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. I've personally worked with kids who can't do basic math like multiplication, convert fractions to decimals, or understand place values; yet they are forced to move ahead into advanced math and getting bad grades. They come to me feeling "stupid," when they are not. They just need more time on the basics.

In addition, some of these kids have gifts in other areas that are never being developed for lack of time. Are we only going to allow STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related occupations? No more artists, farmers, musicians, hairdressers, actors, mechanics, English professors, history teachers, and small business owners?

I'm a strong believer in customizing curriculum according to a child's gifts and interests. We don't make everyone take advanced art lessons or learn the Etmology of words - why should everyone have to take advanced math and science? Why do we think one is more important than another?

Yes, you might make more money (currently) from a STEM education, but will you be happy? Isn't that important, too?

That's my two cents on Common Core for today. Maybe I'll write more when I learn more about it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Aging and Weight Gain

As I have gotten older, it's been harder and harder to keep my weight off. I have bounced around back and forth, first gaining weight, then losing weight. Every time I lose, something happens that gets me off track and back up I go. This time, it's been way too much! So, I'm on a new weight loss program.

I'm using MyFitnessApp to track food, walking my dog and going to the pool. I even attached a weight loss logo at the bottom of my blog to help me remember to keep it up. I started a week ago and have lost the easiest - the first five pounds. Now comes the hard part!

Are any of you having the same problems? How do you motivate yourself to STAY ON the program?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I JUST LOVE this Product !

I don't write much about the household products I use because most of them are pretty boring. BUT, I've been using the Pasta Boat now for about three months and I can't figure out how I got along without it. (No, I didn't get this free and I'm not being paid to say this.)

Here's how it works: Measure out 2 oz of spaghetti or angel hair pasta using the round handles as a guide, place the pasta in the boat, fill the boat with water up to the line, put the lid on, and put it in the microwave for about seven minutes (for angel hair pasta). That's it! When it's done, you drain the pasta using the built in lid and then serve. No extra dishes needed. No spoons or forks needed either because there's no stirring and forget the strainer. It's not needed. How easy is that? The Pasta Boat cleans in a jiff in or out of the dishwasher!

I love this so much I'm seriously thinking of buying some for Christmas gifts. Best purchase I've made in kitchen gadgets in a long while!