Category Archives: Review

This Is As Mimimal As It Gets

When it comes to cases for my iPhone I’ve always been a minimalist. I do fear dropping the dang thing since I use it so much, but i like how thin my phone is and don’t want to destroy that with a case.

When I got my iPhone 4S, Apple was selling its line of bumpers and I was quite happy with that. A bumper is just enough to protect the corners in a fall, and it worked great. (I know from experience.). For my iPhone 5S I got a cheaper third-party case, but it was still basically a bumper.

Now I’ve moved up (literally) to an iPhone 6+. It’s decidedly bigger, much bigger, but I have come to love having such a big screen. So much so that I find I’m using my iPad Air much less. The downside is that it feels much less secure in my somewhat dainty man-paws. This thing is begging to be dropped.

Before I began the hunt for another bumper-like case, I serendipitously discovered Bumpies.  Here’s what they look like in blue (I chose gray):

Bumpies, Front, Side, & Back, Sans Phone

Bumpies, Front, Side, & Back, Sans Phone

Yeah, that’s a weird picture of the “case” because there’s not much to it. They essentially took a standard bumper and stripped off all the superfluous material. That was exactly the case I’d been looking for without knowing it.  They come in a variety of colors, including mixing different colors, but I chose grey to match my phone and because I really like grey.

I worried they’d come off when I pull my phone out of my pocket, but reading lots of Amazon reviews convinced me it probably wasn’t a problem; there’s a bevel to the edges that helps prevent that. I worried they’d mar my phone in some way if I took them off, but again my research showed it wasn’t so. (The science of glue is sophisticated these days.) I decided to take the plunge and give them a try.

After a couple of weeks of living in fear of dropping my phone, my Bumpies finally arrived. The packaging is nicely innovative:

Package, Sans Bumpies

Package, Sans Bumpies

Opening the packaging reveals the instructions:

Simple Install

Simple Install

Quite simple. The box the Bumpies come in doubles as an alignment guide.

Bumpies Installed Using The Guide

Bumpies Installed Using The Guide

It took less than 5 minutes and now I’m all Bumpied up. The Bumpies feel solidly attached. There’s just enough “lip” on the sides of each Bumpy that I can safely lay down (or drop!) my phone and the screen or back won’t be touched. They extend around the sides of the phone enough that all the sides are similarly protected. My phone still feels like my phone and not a case with something in it.

Bumpied Up  (Look Closely)

Bumpied Up (Look Closely)

It’ll take time to tell how the Bumpies will wear with use, but for now I’m very happy with them. Recommended.

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Apps I Use: Type2Phone

Type2Phone is a Mac app available on the Mac App Store for $4.99.

Do you typically have your iPhone, iPad, or both sitting by you while you’re using your Mac? Type2Phone makes it easy to use your Mac’s keyboard to type into any of those devices. You can also send your Mac pasteboard to your iOS device, or use the Mac dictation ability to do speech-to-text-to-iOS-device.

Type2Phone presents a small window when run. When first started it will prompt you to connect to an iOS device using Bluetooth. After connected, whenever Type2Phone is the active application all keyboard input is sent to the connected device. Click away from Type2Phone to make it inactive, and the keyboard is back to controlling the Mac. That’s it, simple but powerful.

Logitech K760

Logitech K760

I used to have a Logitech K760 keyboard hooked to my Mac. The K760 is a nice Bluetooth keyboard with buttons on it that let you quickly switch the connection between 3 Bluetooth devices. This worked fine, but I found that the connection back to the Mac was sometimes slow. I also found that I would occasionally have problems with Bluetooth where my keyboard connection would be dropped for brief times.

Then I installed Type2Phone and I no longer needed the switching capability of the K760. I swapped it out for a wired keyboard instead. Now if I want to type on my Mac, I just type. If I want to type on my iPad, I just hit ⌘-F13 and type away. To type on my iPhone I hit ⌘-F15.

The Type2Phone window normally looks like this:

normal

If you have only one device, simply activating that window is all you need to do. If you have multiple devices, the last one used will be active by default, or you can switch using a drop-down or hot key. (I cheat and have Keyboard Maestro watch for a global hot key, switch to the Type2Phone window to activate it, then hit the hot key for me again so Type2Phone gets it.) You can also have the window be in “collapsed” mode where it looks like this:

compressed

And it’s fast. My K760 was pretty fast when switching to the iOS devices, but not so fast when switching back to the Mac. With Type2Phone the connection to the iOS devices is still fast, but connecting back to my Mac is instantaneous because the keyboard is still physically connected to it. I also have the advantage of being able to send text from my pasteboard and lots of special commands through the Type2Phone menu. (Things like Home, Brightness Up, Delete Word Left, etc.)

If you have an Apple TV and use your laptop while watching TV, you can use Type2Phone to type into the Apple TV. No more typing a search or password using the arrow keys on your remote, just activate Type2Phone and type away. That’s very handy.

I was dubious at first about how well Type2Phone would work, but now I can say that it’s definitely worth the $5.

Unexpected Good Toy #1: Bilibo

At nearly $30 for a hunk of plastic, the Bilibo seemed like a bad idea. I mean, come on, it’s just a big plastic bowl with a couple of holes in it.

Bilibo

But the huge number of positive comments on Amazon stuck with me. Things like this:

It’s best use is not as a single self-contained, self explainatory activity (the simple rocking, balancing, or spinning never lasts long around here), but as an accessory to any number of activities and imaginative games. In addition to being the means to some serious dizziness, ours has been a tunnel, a sled, a cave, a chariot, a stool, a mountain, a cradle, and so much more.

And this:

4 years later – these have stood the test of time. They are not only still in perfect condition, the kids still enjoy playing with them now at ages 6 and 8.

And this:

I read all the reviews and thought there was no way a child would actually play with this. Well, I was wrong. They were purchased for my 9 year old, 15 month old, and my 5 year old niece and every one of them has had a blast playing with them.

At some point, as I probably do too often, I decided “what the hell” and placed my order.

This was not one of those toys where the kids are excited and sit down to immediately play with it for 3 hours straight (subsequently never playing again). No, this is a longer-term toy. It gets consistent use in many different ways. That’s what’s great about it–it’s a toy that greatly fosters imagination.

Some examples of use at our house:

The Bilibo Spinner

The Bilibo Chair

The Bilibo Hat

Even our baby gets a lot of use out of it. We put toys in it as a bowl and she enjoys the challenge of scooping them out as it rocks around.

Recommended.