Justin Power Bank and Power Stick (Review)

InnovativeTechnologyJustin Power Bank and Power Stick
Innovative Technology
Power Bank: $29.99/Power Stick $14.99

The list of Justin power products is long. You can find power products to meet just about any need. The two products that I’m reviewing here are the Justin 2,200mAh Power Stick and the Justin 6,000mAh Power Bank. This review is a bit different because it covers two products instead of just one. They serve the same function so that’s why I’m combining them here.

You can find Justin power products at several retail stores including Kohl’s and Staples. I mention those two because they popped up first in a Google search for the manufacturer ID for each product. Prices vary among retailers, but the ones I’ve given are pretty standard.

I’ve review several portable charger products on this site and there are two things to remember with any of them: You have to recharge your charger and you have to bring your USB charging cable with you, as well as the charger, or the charger won’t do you any good at all.

Justin_SticksThe Justin 2,200mAh Power Stick (Stick) comes fully charged out of the box and will provide you with at least one full charge for your phone or tablet. The unit is small enough to fit into any pocket or purse. The Stick comes in several standard colors: black, silver, blue, purple and red. I think there’s also a camo version available in some stores, so if you’re into camo, search for it at Kohl’s.

My daughter loves the blue Stick and takes it everywhere with her. She drops it into her backpack and away to school it goes. I don’t think she will ever be without it again. Texting, YouTubing, playing music, and using a camera burns a lot of battery, so it’s no longer an option not to have spare power available.

The Justin Power Bank and the Justin Power Stick would make great giveaways or prizes at trade shows and conferences.

My wife loves the Justin 6,000mAh Power Bank (Bank). No, she has no clue what 6,000mAh is, but she does know that a fully charged Bank provides at least three full phone or iPad mini charges for her. What else does she need to know? I’m the tech guy. She simply receives the bounty of her own personal tech sla–professional at her disposal.

Justin_BankThe Bank isn’t really pocket friendly, but it is purse friendly and certainly is desk friendly. In fact, my wife usually keeps it in her purse for when she forgets to close all 15 apps on her phone or on her iPad mini. Yes, I did teach her how to close them, but alas, she cares little for such annoyances, especially when there’s the Bank to save her from her folly.

The Bank, when sitting on a desk or some surface, provides you with a stand onto which your phone rests. The stand slot gives it just the right amount of tilt so that you can face time or type comfortably on it without contorting your hands or peering over it like an old newspaper guy typing on a Royal typewriter. The Bank is for people who either have multiple devices or who have one that they use a lot.

You don’t have to own Apple devices to use Justin’s Power Bank or the Power Stick. They’re compatible with any device that uses a full-sized USB connector on one end of its charger cord. One of the best things about Justin’s products is that they’re ready to go right out of the box*. You don’t have to take the charger home and plug it in for 12 hours. Buy it, open the box, connect it to your phone, tablet, or whatever, and charge away.

Why it’s Frugal: Charger products are frugal by design. Justin’s power products are frugal because of what you get out of them: a lot of power for the price. At $14.99 for the Stick and $29.99 for the Bank, they’re very frugal choices.

I like Justin power products because they’re obviously well designed, well made, and well-priced. And you know that I don’t mind complaining about product pricing if I feel that it’s too high or not justified. These products are appropriately and competitively priced. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for keeping your Justin power products healthy and happy, so that they’ll last longer. My feeling is that you can buy Justin power products with confidence and without buyer’s remorse. Small, powerful, and frugal. What else do you want?

Rating: 9.5/10 for both products.

Recommendation: Buy them for yourself or as a most appreciated and practical gift.

*The products come partially charged, not fully charged.

Glow Hexapop 20-inch Portable Softbox (Review)

Glow Hexapop - Side ViewGlow Hexapop 20″ Portable Softbox by Flashpoint (R-series)
Adorama
$129.95 (free shipping)

If you’re an amateur photographer and just getting into lighting, you’re probably also looking for a few good choices to provide shadowless light to your subjects. Look no further than the Glow Hexapop line of portable lighting softboxes. A softbox is a cloth “box” that is black on all sides except for the side that faces your subject. This design keeps stray light from entering your lens as you take pictures. The softbox also spreads (diffuses) the otherwise harsh, concentrated light from your flash unit onto a white cloth sheet so that you don’t get the hard shadows, that “deer in the headlights,” or Rosemary’s Baby red eye effect from your subjects.

These softboxes are available exclusively  from Adorama.

Many photographers use the softbox light as an artistic eye reflection artifact for portraits. Look at a few portraits that include the subject wearing sunglasses or extreme closeups and you’ll see what I mean.

Glow HEXAPOP Includes

  • HexaPop 20″ Softbox
  • Speedlight Bracket
  • Stand Adapter
  • Zippered Soft Case & Strap

But the softbox isn’t used exclusively for portraits. You can use it for product photography, closeup photography, night photography, and limited daytime outdoor photography to provide gentle lighting in shadows (fill flash).

Glow Hexapop - Back viewThe Glow Hexapop 20″ softbox (Hexapop) is an ideal soft lighting solution because it’s fast and easy to setup, it’s very lightweight, you can use it on your camera for a truly portable soft lighting effect, or you can use it off camera for stable subject lighting. To use it off camera, you’ll need a stand, such as the Flashpoint Pro Air Cushioned Heavy Duty Light Stand (sold separately). You’ll also need a flash sync cable to attach your camera to the off camera flash unit. There are so many different sync cables available, that I can’t give you a single URL to accommodate them all. You’ll have to search for the one that connects to your camera’s hot shoe and then to your flash unit. Be sure to buy one long enough so that you can place the flash unit out of frame for your shots.

The video below shows the Glow softboxes in action.

The Hexapop folds down with a “POP!” into a very small bundle to fit into the included carrying case.

If you’ve ever wondered why your photos don’t look like those of the pros, lighting is the primary reason. The other two reasons are that they have very expensive lenses and they spend a lot of time in Photoshop. Most of you don’t need that level of perfection and can live with a few artifacts, stray lights, empty pixels, and a hair out of place. What you need is better lighting. You might also need Photoshop and better lenses, but it’s really hard to fix bad lighting without it looking fixed.

Why it’s Frugal: The Hexapop is a great value. The tough fiberglass rods will last a very long time. The material is also very tough. No part of the material is stretched enough to tear a seam. Solid construction plus the included accessories worth an estimated $75 by themselves make this softbox an excellent and frugal choice for amateurs and pros alike. Durable, complete, and a great value.

Glow Hexapop - Collapsed viewFor those of you who know a photographer, this softbox is a great gift idea. If you think your photographer has everything, he or she might not have this. Once your lucky recipient has unwrapped the Hexapop, you should suggest an impromptu portrait session to “try it out.” In about 60 seconds, you’ll see the diffused light hitting your face. It might be the single most used item in your photographer’s accessory list. Everyone needs great lighting and the Hexapop is it.

Rating: 8/10

Recommendation: By it for yourself or for your favorite photographer and watch the smiles happen.

iBlazer Flash for Smartphones (Review)

iblazr LED Flash Unitsiblazr LED Flash Unit
iblazr.com
$49.99

The iblazr LED Flash Unit for Smartphones (iblazr) is an absolutely essential accessory for any serious phoneographer. Whether you’re making short films, taking photos, or providing an extra light source for photographic equipment, the iblazr is a lighting dynamo that easily fits into any pocket or bag. It is a source of continuous light or flash for your visual work.

The iblazr package comes with one, four-light iblazr LED flash unit, an instruction booklet, a microfiber drawstring carrying pouch, and a 3.5mm to USB interface charging cable.

  • 70 degree beam
  • 5600K color temperature
  • >80 CRI
  • 27mm (1 inch) x 32mm (1.25 inchess)
  • 10 grams
  • Three Power Modes: 16, 60, and 120 Lux at 1 meter
  • Easy battery level check
  • USB charging
  • 3.5mm jack
  • iblazr app takes movies and photos
  • Continuous lighting or flash
  • Can be used off the device
  • Cold shoe mount for DSLR and SLR continuous lighting

The founders and iblazr team members are obviously visionaries who know what we phoneographers like for versatile lighting. When you read the list of features, note that many of them are advanced for such a small and inexpensive device. I’m usually a bit critical of accessories like this that are priced in excess of about $39, but not this time. I think the $50 price tag is just right. And, no, you can’t get it cheaper on Amazon–I looked.

white_with_handI particularly like the feature that allows you to have continuous like off the camera or in the so-called “cold shoe”. The cold shoe is really just a plastic holder for the iblazr that slides into the hot shoe on your camera. It’s handy because how else do you get continuous, mobile lighting for your DSLR or SLR? Think of trying to provide some continuous lighting with any of the lo-fi cameras such as the Holga, Diana, LomoKino, or Smena. The answer is that you can’t–not easily anyway.

The iblazr makes photography more fun because good lighting is essential to produce good images. How many times have you lost a great shot because of poor lighting or lighting that was off or cast the wrong shadows? Well, you won’t anymore thanks to the iblazr.

Why it’s Frugal: The iblazr is frugal because it is an expensive way to deliver a lot of light on your subject. What’s frugal about that, you ask? Have you priced photographic lighting? Have you ever priced portable photographic lighting? Have you looked at portable lighting at all? The way I figure it, the iblazr is very frugal because it does so much for so little. Frugal.

iblazr on the iPhone

There’s nothing that I don’t like about the iblazr LED flash unit. I can’t find anything wrong with it. It does everything I’d want it to do if I’d designed it myself. And I’d never have thought of the cold shoe attachment, so it’s better than what I could have dreamed up.

Rating: 10/10

Recommendation: If you’re a phoneographer or a photographer who needs portable light, you must have it.

 

Embracing BYOD and BYON to Reduce Risks

SysAidBy Sarah Lahav, CEO, SysAid Technologies

The “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend has received a lot of attention in business circles, but BYON – “bring your own network” – is another security risk IT teams should be working proactively to address. In fact, BYON is a far graver threat to corporate security than BYOD, and the best way to counter the risks associated with BYON is to fully embrace BYOD.

Company IT professionals and security officers are right to be concerned about the risks of BYOD and BYON: Lax security practices such as failure to use strong passwords can put sensitive company data at risk when it is stored on employee devices. And the use of unsecured BYON connections can leave confidential data exposed when employees transmit messages or log in to company portals.

 

But trying to address the risks associated with BYOD and BYON by banning the use of personal devices in the workplace will ultimately prove to be a nonstarter. An increasingly mobile workforce is transforming the way business is conducted, and always-on, always-connected mobile devices are driving the change. In fact, industry analyst Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of employers will stop providing devices to employees altogether and require staff to use their personal devices on the job.

The reason many companies are embracing BYOD is that, in theory, it delivers a win-win: Employees win because they get to use the devices they choose that are increasingly an integral part of their daily lives, and employers win because BYOD expands access to employees and increases job satisfaction. But without robust IT support, neither employees nor employers can achieve a clear win. Instead, employees take chances with company data via BYON connections, leaving employers exposed to more liabilities, which transforms a potential win-win into a lose-lose proposition.

BYOD is inevitable. The IT team’s customers – their employer and its employees – are increasingly demanding the flexibility it delivers. So to address the risks, IT needs to embrace BYOD now, while the trend is evolving, and prepare for emerging technologies like wearables, which will affect enterprise security in the future.

IT departments can counter the threat of BYON by providing WiFi access for employee-owned devices, which gives IT professionals greater control over security. IT departments can provide across-the-board support for social platforms and apps, which will give them a chance to review security protocols. In return for enabling IT to gain greater control over device and network security, employees will receive support, creating a win-win scenario.

In a rapidly evolving technology environment, many IT teams are struggling to keep up, looking for ways to protect their companies and provide the services their customers demand. The BYOD and BYON trends pose daunting challenges for IT, and it’s understandable that the first impulse would be to try to keep the risks at bay by banning the use of personal devices on the job. But these trends aren’t a passing fad: BYOD is a sea-change in IT.

Because the use of personal devices in every facet of life is gaining momentum and will be bolstered by emerging technologies, the time is now for IT organizations to embrace and manage the change. As is often the case in business, identifying what the customer demands and shifting strategies to meet their requirements turns out to be a smart move – for the company, for the customer and for those involved in providing support.

Introducing the Microsoft Migration Accelerator for Azure

Announcing the limited preview of the Migration Accelerator (MA), for Azure. Spawned from the technology of Microsoft’s InMage acquisition announced July 11th  the MA is designed to seamlessly migrate physical, VMware, AWS and Hyper-V workloads into Azure.  It automates all aspects of migration including discovery of source workloads, remote agent installation, network adaptation and endpoint configuration. With MA, transitions into Azure can occur in mere minutes!

MA changes the cloud migration paradigm by offering:

  • Heterogeneity:  With MA you can migrate workloads running on a broad range of platforms such as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Amazon Web Services and/or Physical servers within your environment. MA can support workloads running on Windows Server 2008 R2 sp1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 operating systems.
  • Simple, Automated Migration:  The MA portal allows you to automatically discover your enterprise workloads, remotely from the cloud.  With few clicks you can configure end-to-end migration scenarios.  MA allows you to test your workload in the cloud without impacting the existing on premise production workload, offering the ability to validate workload functionality before a cutover is performed.
  • Migrate Multi-tier Applications: MA boasts the unique ability to migrate multi-tier production system with application level consistency, orchestrated across tiers. This ensures multi-tier applications run the same in Azure, as they ran at the source. Application startup order is even honored, without the need for any manual configuration.
  • Continuous Replication, Least Cutover Time: MA for Azure provides full-system replication including the OS and application data.  This continuous replication and in-memory change tracking reduces the cutover time to mere minutes, minimizing impact to production workloads.

How MA works

MA uses multiple components to orchestrate your migration project as shown below:

MA1

  1. Mobility Service: A light weight (guest based) centrally deployed agent which gets installed on source servers (on-premises physical or virtual) to be migrated to the target virtual machines on Azure.  It is responsible for real time data capture and synchronization of the selected volumes of source servers to target servers.
  2. Process Server (PS): A physical or virtual server that is installed on premise. It facilitates the communication between the Mobility Service and target virtual machines in Azure. It provides caching, queuing, compression, encryption and bandwidth management.
  3. Master Target (MT):  A target for replicating disks of on premises servers. It is installed within a dedicated Azure VM in your Azure subscription.  Disks are attached to the MT to maintain duplicate copies.
  4. Configuration Server (CS): Manages the communication between the Master Target and the MA Portal. It is installed on a dedicated Azure VM in your Azure subscription. Regular synchronization occurs between the CS and MA Portal.
  5. MA Portal: It is a multitenant portal by which you can discover, configure protection and migrate your on premise workloads into Azure.

MA automates all critical processes required to migrate a source workload within an Enterprise into Azure Cloud. It can discover on premise workloads running in ESX/Hyper-V, AWS or physical servers. The workloads are discovered using a Process Server which is connected to MA portal. The discovered instances are listed in MA portal as shown below:

MA2

You can choose particular instance(s) from the discovered list of workload for migration. The next step is to install the Mobility Service (agent) on the source servers. This can be remotely orchestrated from the MA portal by choosing ‘Install Mobility Service’ option as shown below:

MA3

After installing the Mobility Service, you can configure replication for selected servers by choosing the Protect option.  MA uses the configuration details garnered from the discovery process for the protected source servers to determine and provision the most suitable sizing for the environment within Azure. In addition, the target VHDs are provisioned on the Master Target. Once replication is setup, synchronization of the on premise server disk to the target VHD in the Azure cloud begins.

Now, that you have configured the initial sync, wait to ensure the initial replication is complete. After initial replication, select the Migration option from the Cloud Services menu.

MA4

From the list of protected servers that appear under Protected Application, select the “protection plan” or list of assets you wish to migrate.

MA5

Once you choose a protection plan it will appear under Migration > Selected Hosts. Click Migrate to start the migration process.

MA6

You can now monitor the progress of migration under Migration Scenarios > Migration Status.

MA7

After successful migration, Virtual Machines are created in Azure Cloud.  You can now logon to the migrated VMs to validate if the running instances on the cloud is identical to your source.

Summary

In summary, MA offers an unprecedented level of automation to provide seamless migrations of heterogeneous assets, into Azure.

Key Highlights:

  • Automated asset discovery and migration – MA portal orchestrates the discovery and migration of workloads from a single pane of glass.
  • Migration cutovers to Azure in minutes – continuous replication and in-memory change tracking significantly reduce cutover time.
  • Self-provisioned target Azure VM’s – Target VMs are dormant during synchronization saving compute cost and are then automatically provisioned during cutover.
  • Heterogeneous platform support – support for broad range of environments and platforms.
  • Continuous replication – lightweight agents on the source servers continuously replicate all changes to target ensuring near zero downtime during migrations.
  • Multi-tier application support – migrate your multi-tier production system with application level consistency orchestrated across tiers.
  • Target VM Network and Endpoint Adaptation – support for automated network adaptation and endpoint reconfiguration.
  • Integrated compression, encryption and bandwidth management.

To get started visit Microsoft Migration Accelerator and sign-up for preview.

iRig Mic HD from IK Multimedia now shipping

August 5, 2014 – IK Multimedia, the global technology leader in mobile apps and accessories, today announced it’s shipping iRig® Mic HD, the first mobile digital microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and PC. The sequel to IK’s popular iRig Mic, iRig Mic HD is the perfect tool for singers, podcasters, online radio broadcasters, journalists, videographers, home studio enthusiasts and anyone else who needs to record high-definition digital audio on the go. iRig Mic HD comes in black and an exclusive silver version is available only from the Apple Store. Powerful, mobile and affordable: iRig Mic HD is the first handheld digital microphone for everyone.

iRig Mic HD

Designed to perform

iRig Mic HD is the only mobile digital condenser microphone designed for live handheld performance and recording. It delivers high-quality digital sound via an electret condenser capsule, a 24-bit audiophile-grade A/D converter (with 44.1/48 kHz sample rate) and a built-in low-noise high-definition preamp. iRig Mic HD sports an easy-to-use gain control that allows for optimum audio capture at any sound pressure level, from the quiet whisper of an ambient room to the full blast of a loud rock concert. A multi-color LED provides at-a-glance monitoring of sound levels.

Professional plug-and-play sound

For superior recording quality on the move, iRig Mic HD plugs directly into the digital input of your iOS device. iRig Mic HD is compatible with the latest generation of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices via its included Lightning cable. An optional 30-pin connector is available for legacy iOS devices. You can also use it for instant plug-and-play compatibility with your computer using the included USB cable to connect to your Mac or PC (driver download required for PC).

Capture high-quality sound on the go with the first mobile digital microphone for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and PC.

A full spread of apps

For immediate recording, iRig Mic HD comes fully equipped with a suite of powerful IK apps: iRig® Recorder for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is a straightforward audio and editing app for field recording and interviews. VocaLive™ for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is a powerful vocal effects and multi-track recording app with a suite of 12 professional real-time vocal effects. AmpliTube® for iOS, Mac and PC is the industry-standard guitar studio app that features ultra-accurate digital models of some of the world’s most desirable guitar amplifiers and effects. EZ Voice for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is an easy-to-use vocal recording app that lets you sing-along and record with any song in your iTunes music library. iRig Mic HD is also compatible with a wide variety of third party apps, like GarageBand, Cubasis, ProStudio Vocal FX, MultiTrack DAW and more.

The iRig Recorder App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.appstore.com/irigrecorder
The VocaLive App is available from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.appstore.com/vocalive
The EZ Voice App is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.appstore.com/ezvoice
The AmpliTube app is available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.appstore.com/amplitubefree
Register and download AmpliTube FREE for Mac and PC from the IK Multimedia site or at http://www.ikmultimedia.com/amplitubefree

Pro sound at an affordable price

iRig Mic HD is so affordable that now anyone can capture high-quality digital audio on the go. Whether it’s broadcast interviews in the field, home recording in the studio, memo recording for the office or anywhere else audio needs to be captured.

Pricing and Availability

iRig Mic HD is now available from music and electronics retailers worldwide for $129.99/€99.99 (excluding taxes). An exclusive silver version is also available from the Apple Store.

For more information, please visit www.irigmichd.com

IK Multimedia. Musicians First.

About IK Multimedia: IK Multimedia is a computer music technology company that offers a diverse range of affordable and easy-to-use music production tools with great sound quality and a realistic look and feel. With millions of installations worldwide, the IK range has been adopted by musicians of every level, from beginners to professionals, to gain access to high-end, studio-quality gear from their computers or mobile devices. iRig®, AmpliTube® and VocaLive™ are trademarks property of IK Multimedia Production. iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and GarageBand are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPad Air, iPad mini and Lightning are trademarks of Apple, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

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