How to Prevent Youth Pitcher Arm Injuries

My son loves baseball and he loves to pitch. He pitched in his first game at the age of 8 last year and is pitching a lot more this year for his PONY league, after taking a few pitching lessons to fine tune his pitching motion.

Supporting his passion, I’ve attended his pitching lessons, watched instructional videos, and this year coached his regular season team. I taught a few other kids to pitch along the way.

It’s all good, but . . . Read More »

Filed in category: Baseball

Great iOS Apps for Taming Information Overload

I’ve spent a bit of effort with this site describing techniques and reviewing software and hardware that helps people reduce distraction, filter information, or otherwise deal with information overload . . . perhaps a bit too much effort at times. In this post I’m going for short and sweet:

Here are some iOS apps I use day in and day out that help me get information I want, and nothing more: Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

iPhone 5C Hand Feel and Other First Impressions

After using a Blackberry for nearly 4 years, I switched to using an iPhone 4s. As I wrote about here and here, it was a great leap up for portable computing, but it was a step down in terms of voice performance and hand feel.

On Friday I got an iPhone 5C (32GB white) to replace my 4s. So what do I think of the 5C after 3 full days of use? Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

A Great Web Site Design

I am always on the lookout for readable, content-focused WordPress themes. I’m happy to see that a higher percentage of sites of late have been moving in the direction of better readability.

However, I haven’t seen any WordPress designs that better met my design goals as well as the theme I designed for FilterJoe four years ago.

That is, until today. Read More »

Filed in category: Reading and writing

Book Review: Liars and Outliers

The book Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive provides a framework to answer the question, “Why do people trust each other and cooperate?”

I read this book with an eye towards improving my understanding of how people filter information, which is relevant to the focus of this blog and my recent interest in improving the trustworthiness and quality of crowd-sourced product information. I also knew of and respected the author, security expert Bruce Schneier, who is a source for parts of my password management series.

Filtering information effectively requires trusting your information sources as well as the people who recommend these information sources. If it were fully understood why people trust each other and cooperate, that might guide the development of much more effective and automatic systems to make online information sharing more trustworthy and relevant.

So what did I think of Schneier’s book? Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

Keep iPhone Plugged In? Yes!

There are three major reasons to keep your iPhone plugged in. Here they are, followed by product recommendations if you need more charging options:

Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

La Crosse Battery Charger Review: BC-700, BC-900, BC-9009, and BC1000

Shortly after my son was born, we started burning through AA batteries. I didn’t like throwing out single use Alkaline batteries. I liked even less having to frequently recharge high discharge NiMH rechargeable batteries. So I was delighted to discover and write about low self-discharge NiMH AA batteries, which work better than both alternatives.


Buried at the end of that post was brief battery charger advice and several suggested models depending on your preferred price. However, I could have been clearer on two points:

  1. If you use a cheap, low quality charger, you may be motivated to abandon even the highest quality rechargeable batteries. You may end up with batteries that don’t fully charge, batteries that overcharge, or (in rare cases) batteries that overheat and melt.
  2. Out of several hundred battery charger models, there are at least a few dozen good ones. However, one brand of battery charger stands heads and shoulders above the rest: La Crosse.

In this post I describe why good chargers matter, why I like La Crosse chargers so much, and why the La Crosse BC-700 makes the most sense for the most people, even though the more expensive La Crosse BC1000 is arguably the best battery charger on the market. I also describe the minor differences between the 4 La Crosse models listed in the title. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

Want the quietest PC? Just get the right chip . . .

I replaced both my home and work desktop PCs during the past year. My previous home system was a noisy, energy hogging, budget 2006 Dell model that was preloaded with useless software while my work system was a 2004 Dell that was also noisy. I’m done with Dell.

More importantly, I’m done with noisy PCs. This time I was determined to get the cleanest, quietest PC I could get for less than $700. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

Where has FilterJoe Has Taken Me? Where Am I Taking FilterJoe?

Signal to noise ratio is engineering jargon. It is also used in everyday speech. The signal is that which is important, interesting and relevant. The noise is everything else.

FilterJoe has always been about increasing the signal to noise ratio of the internet.

What I found after 3 years of blogging is that only one type of FilterJoe post had a strong enough signal to be noticed: Read More »

Filed in category: Uncategorized

Blackberry vs iPhone 4s (After Two Months of Use)

People tend to optimize their next purchase based on the worst feature of their prior purchase. That is clearly why I bought a Blackberry in 2008 after experiencing a phone with terrible voice quality and numerous dropped calls.

Blackberry delivered. I experienced voice quality comparable to that of a land line during my 3.5 years of Blackberry (8320, 9700) ownership. The siren calls from iPhone and Android devices had no effect on me during this time. By nearly all accounts, iPhones were great pocket computers with lousy phones and Android devices required too much fiddling to suit my tastes.

Then the iPhone 4s came out, promising decent voice call quality, improved battery life, and a better notification system. In other words, a great pocket computer and a great communication device. I decided to switch, and I wrote about this decision here.

Now that I’ve been using an iPhone 4s for nearly 2 months, I’d like to revisit my decision. Is the iPhone 4s performing as expected? How does it compare to the Blackberry 9700 I used for 2 years? Do I have any regrets? You may find some of my answers surprising. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

Blackberry vs. iPhone: No Longer a Contest

I like my Blackberry 9700. It’s a great communication device with outstanding voice quality and messaging. Unfortunately, I’ve managed to submerge it in water once and drop it on sidewalks a few times. Remarkably, it has few issues so far. But given the water damage, I’m thinking this Blackberry may soon quit working altogether. Time to upgrade.

I briefly considered the impressive Galaxy S II, but I prefer smaller (single hand) devices and more polished operating systems. An inexpensive grandfathered plan gives me an incentive to stick with Blackberry on T-mobile, but the iPhone’s 336 PPI Retina display beckons. Blackberry Bold 9900 or iPhone 4s. Which one?

iPhone 4s. No contest. Here’s why. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

Which is the Best E-reader? The Nook Simple Touch?

Using a dedicated portable reading device is one of the best ways I know to read digital content without distraction. But selecting an appropriate device can be confusing. My guess is you won’t get the most suitable device for your needs if you ask, “Which is the best e-reader?” Try instead asking the following set of questions: Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information, Reading and writing

Best AA Batteries That You Never Heard Of

Just about everyone uses AA batteries. But few people use the best AA batteries, or have even heard of them.

What are these batteries? Why are they so great? Where can you buy them? What charger do you need to buy? Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information

Smartphones: The Most Pervasive Interruption Technology Ever

Over the past few years, excitement has been growing for the idea of an “everything device” that you carry in your pocket. Why carry many separate physical and electronic devices for your phone, address book, calendar, planner, GPS, books, magazines, etc.? An iPhone, Blackberry, or Android-based smartphone will do it all.

There’s just one problem.

Interruptions. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information, Reading and writing

A Guide to Using Passwords Without Distraction

One of the biggest distractions of modern life is passwords. Many web services and forums require that you set up a separate user name and password. You have to develop and maintain a system to remember it all. And you have to enter these user names and passwords many times per day.

Even the lightest of users may have a dozen or so online accounts and heavy users have hundreds. How do you keep track of all these passwords? Read More »

Filed in category: Password management

Best Browsers 2011: Which Is the Best Browser for You?

In early 2011, there have been major changes to four out of the five browsers that dominate the browser market: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer. So it’s a great time for my third annual browser comparison, along with recommendations.

In last year’s browser comparison post, I noted that:

“Google’s Chrome browser was designed from the ground up to be good at running web applications, with an underlying architecture that is faster, more secure, and more stable than the competition. Chrome succeeded. The competition responded. Users have benefited.”

I also thought that Chrome deserved the “best browser” award at that time. However, the competition has since greatly improved. Though I again rank the browsers 1 through 5, the gap between #1 and #5 is narrow, as the current versions are all very good. Each browser is best for a different set of users. Read More »

Filed in category: Browsers and the cloud

The Best Monitor Setup to Reduce Eye Fatigue and Distraction

For years I’ve struggled to find a monitor setup that allows me to be the most productive, without causing eye fatigue or eye strain. Here’s my best answer so far:

I now use a vertical monitor with high pixel density. It helps reduce eye fatigue, clicks, and distraction.

Why?

How?

Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information, Reading and writing

iPod touch vs Kindle: Which is Best for Reading?

Do you spend hours reading computer displays each day? Does this tire your eyes? Me too. So I’m on a mission to find a device on which I can read anything. Ideally, it should be:

  • as easy on my eyes as a paperback book
  • as portable and convenient as a paperback book
  • simple to read for any kind of format
  • simple and free to get reading material onto the device

I tried reading anything on a second generation Kindle. The e-ink screen is easy on my eyes and Kindles are great for reading novels. But the software has many shortcomings for reading other material such as PDFs or long articles on the web. I devoted considerable effort to making my Kindle overcome these shortcomings, but in the end decided to try a more flexible device lacking an E-ink display.

An iPod Touch and a Kindle

An iPod touch and a Kindle

Enter the iPod touch, 4th generation (or iPhone 4), with double the screen resolution of prior models. Reading with the “Retina Display” is easy on my eyes and the software makes reading a breeze for a surprisingly wide range of reading material.

The iPod touch 4G works well for reading. It works so well for me that I stopped using my Kindle and sold it. Read on for details, including many tips along the way for using an iPod for reading. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information, Reading and writing

Can You Read Anything with the Kindle? Almost . . . with Google Reader

A year ago I wrote about how difficult it is to read text-heavy content on a computer, here. Though I recognized the virtues of E-ink, I was not enthusiastic about the Amazon Kindle as a device for reading lengthy online text due to its high expense, slow browser, and the difficulty of getting online content onto the device.

Can you read anything on a Kindle?

Now the price is lower, the browser is faster, and getting many forms of content onto the Kindle is easier, especially if used in conjunction with Google Reader. Read More »

Filed in category: Product Information, Reading and writing

Password Management for the Average Joe

If you’re like most home computer users, you use the same 2 or 3 passwords for your various accounts and your passwords are easy to crack. As you keep reading news reports about hacked accounts and stolen identities, you think you should do something about your passwords, but you keep putting it off.

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Like personal security, password management is something most people don’t think much about until after something bad happens. Unfortunately, the Internet is not secure. Just as you need to be “street wise” when venturing onto streets, you need to be “net wise” – especially with passwords – when venturing onto the Internet. Because, like it or not, your passwords are currently the main barrier between you and the bad guys.

Most password management advice seems designed to torture you as opposed to help you. For the average Joe with average security needs, password management advice needs to be simple and usable, not just secure. Luckily, there is a reasonably secure form of password management that is simple and usable. Here it is: Read More »

Filed in category: Password management

Which Password Manager?

There are dozens of password managers, including some built into browsers. Many of them do the basic job you need, which is to use a master password and strong encryption to securely store your passwords. More important than selecting the “best” password manager is to use such software wisely. I describe how to use a password manager here (basics and index to password series) and here (tips).

If you’re already using and liking a password manager not mentioned in this post, by all means keep using it so long as it offers master password protection in combination with strong encryption. While most password managers offer password import and export functions, the actual practice of switching password managers and learning a new one is cumbersome.

However, if you’re selecting a password manager for the first time or dissatisfied with your current password manager, you may as well benefit from my efforts to identify the best password managers for individuals. My efforts included extensive use of two password managers and poring through hundreds of reviews, forums, and comments about many others. Read More »

Filed in category: Password management

Tips For Wise Use of Password Managers – Including Master Password Selection

In the first post of this series, I describe four steps to secure your passwords with a password manager. This post describes a number of additional tips for using your password manager software most effectively. The “Tips for Standard Use” section is for everyone. The “Tips for Extra Password Security” section is for those who need additional security, with less regard for convenience. Read More »

Filed in category: Password management

How Attackers Steal Passwords

Many people don’t understand how easy it is for attackers to take advantage of weak passwords, and therefore don’t use a password manager or other means to make their passwords stronger. This post describes 9 common ways passwords get captured, roughly ordered from most to least common. Proper use of a password manager can thwart some of these attacks and limit damages from most other types of attacks. Read More »

Filed in category: Password management

Need Tech Help? Google it!

Modern hardware, software, and web services are loaded with useful and customizable features, but figuring out how to use them is usually time consuming. Traditionally, people learn new features or resolve tech issues by following some combination of these time-consuming steps:

  1. Tinker.
  2. Read help files or manual.
  3. Call the most knowledgeable person or relative you know.
  4. Call Tech Support, if available. Wait on hold a long time then talk to someone who may or may not be able to help you.
  5. E-mail Tech Support. Hope that the reply comes soon and actually resolves your issue.

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Thankfully, there’s a much faster, more reliable way:  Google it.

Google for help first, and you can save yourself tens of hours per year. In this post, I provide specific examples and helpful tips on how to quickly get tech help using Google. Read More »

Filed in category: Browsers and the cloud

Filters for Reading on the Web

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Will reading on the web ever be as good as reading a book?

Will reading lengthy text on the web ever be as comfortable as curling up in your favorite chair with a paperback? In theory, computers offer some reading advantages such as fast look-up and infinite storage. In practice, conflicting priorities of site design and current display technology get in the way.

For people like me who read hours per day, there has to be a better way. Luckily, there is. Read More »

Filed in category: Reading and writing

Site Design for Reading

Site Design for Reading – sounds like an oxymoron, right? When is the last time you read a 1000+ word article on the web that was just as easy to read as a chapter of a paperback? Never, if you’re like me. Read More »

Filed in category: Reading and writing

Info Overload or Filter Failure? Introducing FilterJoe

Since 2001, I’ve noticed a trend: People are gradually getting less productive, efficient, and focused, caused in large part by an ever growing list of technology distractions.

Checking email.  And facebook.  And RSS, IMs, SMSs, Twitter . . .

email, facebook, RSS, IM, SMS, twitter . . .

To this point, many articles on the subjects of information overload, Internet distractions, and declines in reading and focusing abilities have appeared during the past few years. Some of the more interesting ones are here, here and here. Read More »

Filed in category: Uncategorized