Geeking out …

Welcome to our Geeking Out Library.

Here, you’ll find all of the comments, mentions and reviews of various technology gadgets and products that I’ve included in Sword Tips, the weekly Exkalibur Newsletter. You can always come back here as a reminder of something you remember reading about and use it as a handy reference.

Here are a few interesting stats I borrowed from my friends at A2Apple. As I’ve mentioned before, there are always fascinating technology and global insights available there.


newsletter_slack-1024x1024I am sure it comes as no surprise that email is at the top of the list of productivity killers and frustration builders.

Some companies have banned email and are getting more things done. At Exkalibur, we’ve become huge fans of Slack, a messaging app for teams who put robots on Mars!!

Take a minute to watch Slack’s short video and you’ll see why it’s a great alternative to email. More on Slack in an upcoming newsletter.

Solar Impulse 2

Between 1903 and 1969, we went 66 years between the first flight of the Wright Brothers and Apollo ll landing on the moon. Pretty stunning for sure.

Now, 47 years later, the Solar Impulse 2 flew around the world without a single drop of fuel.


Applying a precise formula of weight, solar panels and batteries … with a wing span longer than a 747 … about the weight of a car … carrying only one person … it took a little more than one year to travel around the world at a speed of about 55 mph. The brilliant and determined innovators strongly believe that in 10 years, the technology will be able to carry 50 people over 1,000 miles.

No pollution. Energy independent. Clean Energy.

What’s not to like? 

Google Search Tricks

30+ Google Search Tricks You Might Not Already Know will provide some tips that come in handy.

Microsoft Excel

Almost everyone uses Microsoft Excel at one point or another. If you’re a novice, or a little rusty, here are few Excel tricks and shortcuts that will help you.

Amazon’s Kindle Oasis

newsletter_Kindle_OasisOver the years, I accumulated about 2,000 lineal feet of hardback books, which filled a pretty substantial library. But, as we’ve downsized over time, my book collection took up too much space (in the garage, storage lockers, etc.). It was hard to give up the physical books I loved, but fortunately, I have a geek side that was willing to consider an e-reader. I’ve never looked back and now can carry a virtually unlimited library with me. (I also no longer hear, “What? More books? When will you ever read all of these …” since they show up on my Kindle, sight unseen. ☺ )

Last week, I finally received the latest e-reader version, the Kindle Oasis. The Kindle has been my constant companion since the very first one was released in November, 2007. I admit I’ve purchased every new version immediately upon release. Not to just have the latest, but to take advantage of the updates in size, weight and clarity.

There is a lot you can read about the Kindle Oasis here. It’s 300 dpi screen clarity results from having 10 LEDs instead of the 6 LEDs on its predecessor, the Kindle Voyage. As you can see from the image, the length is shorter than my iPhone 6s Plus at only 5.6″ x 4.8″. The WiFi + 3G version weighs only 4.7 oz. The cover is also unique, not only at 3.8 oz, but when you’re re-charging, you’re charging both the device and the cover, which together will last up to 8 weeks depending on your usage.

It is so light and small that’s it’s easier to carry than ever, and with a 4GB capacity, will likely hold every book you will ever read.

What could be handier when you’re traveling and already have overweight bags? You’ll certainly never run out of something to read.

Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn

new-microsoft-logo-SIZED-SQUARE-300x297linkedin-icon-logo-vector-400x400In June, Microsoft announced a big-time acquisition of LinkedIn for a whopping $26 Billion, 50% above LinkedIn’s closing stock price last Friday.

It is the largest acquisition in Microsoft’s history. Their previous largest acquisition of Nokia’s phone business was a total disaster, with Microsoft writing off more than the $9.4 Billion purchase price. PC World evaluates the acquisition from a number of different angles.

Shyp – Makes Shipping Easy

shyplogo1No more lines. No more trips to the post office, UPS or FedX. Woohoo!

I recently used Shyp, twice now with great convenience and success.

It’s a service, supported by an online app, that “Makes Shipping Easy“. Shyp is in several major cities now, including San Francisco, using this easy tagline:

“We pick up, package, and send your stuff for the lowest price.”

As an example, if you need to return something you bought from Amazon, you simply open the App, indicate it’s a prepaid return, select Amazon, take a picture of the article being returned and hit “Ready for Shipment”.

Within 20 minutes, or another window you select, a professional courier will show up, pick up your stuff and you’re done. You get a confirmation, usually that evening, that your stuff is shipped. Take a look at Behind the Scenes at Shyp: 9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know for more information.

I’m all in on this very affordable time-saver.

Way to go Comcast!

comcast.2.uWho hasn’t ragged on the cable companies somewhere along the way? I’m sure I’m on that list … but I’m happy to report that they’ve also done something very cool.

If you’re a Comcast customer, I think you can get their new X-1 Entertainment System for free. In fact, they kinda forced us to get it, continually reminding us that it was essential to get the improved programming and quality that was coming. I figured, “yeah, heard that before” but we got it and it is dope compared to anything that’s come before. (Notice the use of that cool urban slang?)

It is so much easier to record programs (up to 6 at a time with a huge capacity) and to “talk to your cable box”, which is very accurate. There are too many great features to list. You can check it out here.


Take a look at this video showing how 6 tiny robots can pull a 1-ton car!

microbots pull a car

Sitting Will Kill You

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

recumbent desk

Current State of Robotics

Watch this incredible video that reflects the current state of robotics.

Their increasingly agile and and programmed intelligence will inevitably revolutionize manufacturing and irreversibly change the nature of work.

newsletter_robot video image

The Human Face of Big Data

The new documentary, The Human Face of Big Data, offers some truly astonishing revelations:

  • We receive as much information in a single day as our 15th century ancestors were exposed to in their entire lifetime.
  • On the first day of a baby’s life, the data generated is equivalent to 70x the information contained in the Library of Congress.
  • Data processing in the last 2 years is more than all the data processing in the last 3,000 years.

It’s an incredible documentary that is mind-blowing in its implications. You can find access to the movie here.

Qardio Blood Pressure Monitor

imagen-qardio-blood-pressure-monitor-0bigWe bought the Qardio Blood Pressure Monitor recently, and it’s a great little device. QardioArm allows you to monitor your blood pressure across multiple locations and lets you follow others and allows others to follow you back, creating a support network for better health outcomes.

There are many home devices to take your blood pressure, but Qardio keeps a running history of all of your BP readings, and allows you to set a profile for others in your household.

The QardioArm app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.

Dragon Anywhere

dragon dictate iconDragon Anywhere, along with all of the speech transcription tools from Nuance brings fast speech recognition to all of your devices. This capability has become so much more accurate over the years and it can be a powerful tool to drive individual productivity at work. You can also purchase a desktop version for your Mac or PC.

I’m not thrilled with the subscription pricing model for Dragon Anywhere – it starts at $15/month – but if you’re writing very much at all, or not writing when you should because it seems too daunting, you’ll be amazed at the accuracy you can now expect.

If you’re not doing this now, you’ll wonder how you lived without it once you try. There are plenty of free trial options so no excuses not to give it a try.

Amazon Echo

Amazon EchoAmazon’s answer to Siri, Apple’s voice activated personal assistant, is a remarkable achievement.

Going by the name of Alexa, the Amazon Echo is a clever cylindrical, always-on device, sits quietly on my credenza, amazingly alert and well informed. Start talking by saying “Alexa” and ask her almost anything for an immediate spoken answer.

“What’s the weather today?” will get your local weather forecast, but you can also ask her for the time or weather in any part of the world. You can ask her about the latest sports score, traffic conditions or play music from a favorite artist. You can ask her to read aloud any title from your Kindle library, add events to your Goggle calendar, turn on the lights, identify showtimes at local movie theaters and almost anything else.

She’s awesome and flawlessly understands your spoken words. “Alexa, what’s up today?”

It’s so intuitive and accurate that I’m buying another Amazon Echo for my living room. I may have to conceal it a little bit (I don’t think my wife finds it as interesting as I do), but it took less than 5 seconds to recognize my automatic lighting devices and now I can easily control those with my voice.



The Apps to Manage Passwords So They Are Harder to Crack Than ‘Password’ article discusses the weakness of most of the passwords you may be using and suggests a few solutions.

I’ve been using 1Password for many years and it’s a flawless solution. It syncs across all your devices and your personal vault is shareable with family or business colleagues.

Sign up for our FREE Mini-course, 5 Tools I Can’t Live Without, and you’ll learn all about it.



TextureI have subscribed to countless magazines over the years, but, I didn’t do a very good job of getting rid of them. I think you can see where this is going. Too many magazines, too much clutter ….

So, since the beginning of the iPad in April, 2010, I have been subscribing to a variety of magazines on my iPad, which makes them available on my iPhone as well.

But not all subscriptions have the same source. Some offers come from the publisher, some from sources that aggregate certain magazines, like Zinio or Newsstand.

Until now.

Now you can purchase Texture, which is a great solution. This is their tagline …

 “Magazines reimagined. And unlimited. One app. One price. All you can read.”

Texture by Next Issue is a joint venture formed by six leading publishers – Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications and Time Inc. At the core of Next Issue’s offerings are the Texture Apps for iPad® and iPhone®, Android™ and Windows® 8 PCs and tablets

What makes it so awesome is that virtually all of your favorite magazines are now here.

Bloomberg Business Week. Bon Appétit. Esquire. National Geographic. People. Rolling Stone. Sports Illustrated. Time.Vanity Fair. Vogue. It’s a very long list you can find here.

They offer a trial period so you’ve got nothing to lose by testing it out. If you’re a magazine reader, particularly one who’s on the road and moving around, this is a great improvement over everything that came before.