Monday, May 14, 2018

Home Tech Dad Break Until I Finish School

Like the title says, I'm going to take a little break from Home Tech Dad until I finish school, which will be at the end of August.  It's a lot of work to do school and plan for a wedding in September.  I may post a few things here and there, but don't expect too much.

Thanks for understanding.

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Please Help Donate to Dollars for Dale


So who is Dale Beatty you ask? He is a veteran and co-founder of Purple Heart Homes, which is an organization that helps disabled veterans with housing. He himself lost both legs in combat. He passed away back in February leaving behind a wife and 3 kids.

I'll just pull a quote from there webpage to explain a little more about Dale Beatty and Purple Heart Homes. "We are Veterans… We are also the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, spouses, and those who are proud to have a connection to our nation’s military. Join the family, and help us provide much-needed assistance to Veterans of all eras.

Purple Heart Homes is a 501(c)3 public charity that was founded in 2008 by John Gallina and Dale Beatty, two combat wounded Veterans. After being injured in Iraq in 2004, they returned to their community and received a warm welcome and grateful appreciation for their service. They began to question why all Veterans didn’t get the same levels of support and assistance from society.

The answer isn’t easy, but Purple Heart Homes fills the gaps in housing through the Veterans’ Aging In Place and Veterans Home Ownership Programs. From building a ramp for a Veteran of World War II, to providing homeownership opportunities to younger Veterans, our programs are designed out of necessity and fit the specific needs of the Veteran population.

OUR MISSION
Purple Heart Homes is dedicated to providing housing for Service Connected Disabled Veterans that is substantial in function, design, and quality fit to welcome home the fighting men and women of America."

There's a donation page set up to help raise money for his family in this time of need. He's done so much to help disabled veterans. So if you have a few bucks, consider donating it to the Dollars for Dale donation.

Links
www.dollarsfordale.com
https://purplehearthomesusa.org/

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Fibit Versa Review - Finally a Decent Affordable Smartwatch!

Rating:

Specs:
-4+ day battery life.
-Store and play 300 songs.
-15+ exercise modes
-Access apps for sports, weather, and more
-See phone notifications
-Track heart rate all day
-Purchase accessory bands
-Connects to wifi

I started out with the Fitbit Charge HR. It had band problems where the band would peel up near the watch after about a year. To solve this problem I bought the Charge HR 2, which has replaceable bands and fixed the problem. I've been really happy with the HR 2 but missed the truly "smart watch" experience. I use to have the first gen Motorola 360 smartwatch (purchased it after the second gen was out), which was awesome looking. It lasted until the back started cracking, which was a common occurrence in that watch. So I was super excited when the Fitbit Versa was announced and pre-ordered the watch. At $199.99, it's actually one of the cheaper smartwatches.

Just in case you don't know what the Fitbit line is, it's a set of fitness/health tracking devices. You can track your steps, heart rate, resting heart rate, sleep (deep and light), your activity, exercises, active hours, and more.  This can help you have some insight on your health. Along with that, you can track your calorie intake, water intake, your weight (they have a scale). You have to manually enter your foods and water for the calorie and water intake.

When it arrived I was excited to get it out of the box and start wearing it. Like most internet connected devices, the first thing it needed to do was install an update. While the update was being applied I installed the screen protector and new band that I had purchased on Amazon (links below). After the updates were installed,  I placed the watch on my wrist and started tinkering with it.

So you may be asking, what can you do with this thing that another cheaper Fitbit can't do?  There are 2 things the Versa can do that the cheaper ones can't. The first is, you can install apps.  There are a couple useful apps the watch has, but the library is pretty small right now. I'm sure there'll be many more apps added. The one app I was hoping was there is the Spotify app, but it doesn't exist yet. They do have 2 other music service apps, Pandora and Deezer. With both those services, you'll need the paid version of the music apps to use them on the watch. The other feature the cheaper Fitbit can't do is app notifications. With the Fitbit Charge and Charge 2, you only had the basic notifications, which included the calendar and text notifications. With the Versa, you get all your notifications. Of course, you can de-select a notification if you don't want it. I really love this feature of the watch because now I don't have to pull my phone out of my pocket as much.

So what do I think could be improved you ask? Well, there could be a better selection of watch faces. After coming from an Android smartwatch, the quality of watch faces is lacking, but there are a couple of good ones. As I stated above, there are also not many apps right now. I'm sure there'll be more added in the future.

What are the positives you ask? Definitely, my favorite part is that the watch can go 4 days on a charge, most other smartwatches you have to charge daily. The display is nice and bright and it's a great looking watch. I love being able to get all my notifications now! It's great that you can change bands. The price is just right as well. I definitely think it's worth the upgrade to the Fitbit Versa!

Price: $199.99

Links
https://www.fitbit.com/shop/versa - Official Website
https://goo.gl/15TWc5 - The band I purchased from Amazon
https://goo.gl/XFBGv3 - The Screen Protector I purchased from Amazon


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Monday, April 16, 2018

Coding Boot Camp - 1 1/2 Months In

A Game I Coded
I'm one month into my coding boot camp class at UNCC Charlotte and thought I'd give a little overview and my thoughts so far. As of right now, I have learned HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, Javascript, and a little JQuery and AJAX. I won't go into what each of those is right now.  I decided to take a coding boot camp course because I had been interested in it for a long time and thought it would be a great way to make a career out of it.

The good. I'm definitely learning a lot of stuff.  My previous knowledge of coding was very little. I knew a little HTML and what CSS was. I didn't know how to read or write CSS, but I could do very little editing of it. As for software, the only software I used was Adobe Dreamweaver, which worked ok. Now I'm very familiar with HTML and CSS and can write a complete webpage from scratch. For school, we use Visual Studio Code for coding. Some other good softwares are Atom and Sublime. Of course, there's many more out there. JavaScript, not the same as JAVA (I didn't know that before this class), has taken me a little longer to learn, mainly because it's completely different. We are currently working on APIs and pulling things from APIs and displaying them on a webpage. Again, it's a little confusing in the beginning, but I'll catch on.

The bad. Sometimes when you're learning this stuff, it's a struggle to remember everything. I do my best to take as many notes as possible. I have a Google docs sheet I use to keep notes. Sometimes you leave the class thinking to yourself, "What in the world did I just learn?" Then a couple weeks later everything clicks. It feels like you're always working on homework, which you are. If you're not doing that then you're going over coding that you did in class. Anytime I'm not at my full-time job, I'm coding on the laptop.

Speaking of laptops, you may be wondering which laptop I'm coding on. I went with the Lenovo Yoga 920.  It was a tough decision deciding if I was going to go with a Mac or Windows laptop. I purchased my laptop at Best Buy because I wanted to be able to mess around with the different settings in person.  There are certain products I will purchase online and others I have to purchase in person.  I like the touchscreen and the fingerprint reader on the Yoga 920 (Mac doesn't offer touchscreen). It has an I7 processor, 8 gigs of RAM, and a 250Gb hard drive. This thing is super fast!

Below I'll post some links to some of the homework assignments that I've completed, which some are pretty cool. In a few of the homework assignments, we've created some games. We post all of our homework assignments on GitHub, which is a site where many people and companies publish there coding. That site was also a learning curve. Along with that site we learned to use the Git Bash command prompt. It had been a long time since I had used command prompts.

So overall I'm really pleased with the course, even with all the work you have to do. They tell you in the beginning that this won't be an easy class, and it isn't! It will be rewarding once I complete the class in the end.

Links
UNCC Coding Bootcamp
Lenovo Yoga 920
HTML, CSS, and JavaScript Explained

Working Homework Links
dhrandy.github.io - Main Page (still under construction)
dhrandy.github.io/psychic-game/ - Psychic Game
dhrandy.github.io/unit-4-game/ - Number Matching Game
dhrandy.github.io/TriviaGame/ - WW2 Quiz
github.com/dhrandy - My main GitHub page.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Zenni Optical is Awesome for Eyeglasses!

Rating:


Not tech related, but I couldn't pass up tell you about an awesome website I found for purchasing eye-glasses.  Most places that you buy eyeglasses from charge an insane amount of money. Zenni Optical actually charges you a little more than what it actually cost to make the eyeglasses. You go to zennioptical.com, pick out a pair of glasses you like, add your prescription, choose your options, then click the purchase button. It's that simple! They have pairs as low as $7, now that's just crazy.  Sometimes they do charge $20 for the way they have to make my eyeglasses, but that's still not bad. They have many different styles as well.

I've purchased several pairs of eyeglasses form Zenni Optical. The first one I purchased were the classic looking eyeglasses. I had a whole look I was going for when I grew my mustache out for charity. It definitely achieved the look I was going for, you can see the picture below. The second pair I just received in the mail on Saturday (they actually shipped quicker than I thought they would), shipping can take up to 4 weeks. They have carbon fiber arms, and they look awesome.  I also have a pair of sunglasses on the way, that I paid about $20 for.

You have all kinds of options for your eyeglasses as well. You can have tints, blue blockers, polarized. You can have different color tints. They also have several different brands of tints as well as auto tinting. I usually get the auto tinting with anti-reflective coating.

My Retro Glasses
My New Glasses
Side view of the carbon fiber. 
I was wearing these glasses with my mustache (before I shaved).
So if you're looking for a pair of eyeglasses for a reasonable price, you should definitely checkout Zenni Optical.  You really don't have much to lose.

If you found this article helpful, be sure to share and comment!

Links
www.zennioptical.com
Classic Pair Eyeglasses - start at $29.95
Carbon Fiber Arm Eyeglasses - start at $32.95


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