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Sometimes having the Internet in your pocket is convenient other times it is extremely useful. This story is an example of the latter. Some context first, I grew up in Silicon Valley, one of the more well known tech hubs in our country. I also grew up completely immersed in technology because my father, Tim Bajarin, was one of the first PC industry analysts on the scene. I’ve had a PC of some kind in my life as far back as I remember, which is what makes this story all the more interesting.

I’m about as obsessed with technology and gadgets as possible. I started my career in the technology industry jumping right into the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley and had start up fever. However several years ago my wife and I decided we wanted to raise our kids not in a city / fast pace environment but out in the country where the pace was slower and we could have some land. So we moved just outside of San Jose to a farming town near the garlic capital of the world.

We also decided it would be fun to take up hobby farming and use some of our land to have chickens, goats and a big garden where could grow a lot of our own food, organically of course. Considering I grew up immersed in technology not farming I had some studying to do for best practices, tips and tricks etc. So naturally I turned to technology and most importantly the Internet. Now to the point of the story.

Last year I wrote on my personal blog about how having the Internet in my pocket helped me detect early signs of labor in one of my goats. While on the scene I was able to use my phone’s browser to access a wealth of information useful to me as I assisted (if you can call it that) one of my goats deliver her babies. I was able to get information on what possible warning signs to look for as well as positive signs that healthy baby goats should exhibit. Luckily for me everything went smoothly.

This year was different however because this time around things didn’t go so smoothly, this time she gave birth to triplets. Triplets in goats aren’t rare but are relatively uncommon (like twins in humans) and even more so our breed. At four in the morning several days ago I heard some babies crying in the goat pen and knew delivery was happening. As I assessed the scene all three babies had been born but two weren’t looking so good. So I quickly accessed the Internet on my phone and immediately starting searching for what to do about the symptoms I was seeing.

It turned out there was a wealth of information on “weak kid syndrome” which is what I was seeing. I read a long list of detailed instructions on what to do in order to give your baby goats the best shot at living. One of them was severely dehydrated, suffering from low body temperature and on the verge of death and the other needed assistance getting its first few doses of food because it was to weak to eat on its own. Current status is all babies are doing great thanks in large part to the information I found on the web.

Had I not had this valuable resource of the Internet, a city boy like me would have had to tell his daughters some fairly bad news about their beloved goats. Had I not had the Internet in my pocket I wouldn’t have been able to act as quickly to take preventative measures to help the babies survival.

My point here is that there is no “app for that.” That’s not to say one couldn’t be developed but given my situation I needed the depth and breadth of the full internet. This I feel is why the Internet needs to stay open and not closed as far as the debate goes.

Apps are great and sometimes walled garden experiences with the web are great but sometimes only the full power and knowledge base of the World Wide Web will suffice.

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Supermoon Tonight

Tonight it’s a Saturday night. It’s going to be beautiful tonight. Huge moons everywhere. I mean, sometimes the moon might seem big because it’s low on the horizon and there’s a tree in the way or something, but that just doesn’t even hold a candle to what’s going on tonight. It’s what’s called the perigee of the moon’s elliptical orbit. That’s an antonym of apogee. But I digress, the perigee is the point in the moon’s orbit where it’s closest to the earth. That’s tonight, and it’s pretty much going to be a full moon. Technically, it’s not going to quite be a full moon here in the Northern Hemisphere, but what are ya gonna do?

This particular astronomical occasion, when the moon is both full and at it’s perigee, only comes on once every twenty years or so. The last time it happened was in March of 1993. While the perigee is about 50km closer to the earth, it’s still 356,577 km away. This does make a siginificant impact to the moon’s visual appearance here on earth. The light reflecting from our lunar companion is going to be brighter, and the apparent visual size of the moon is going to be larger by 14%. I’m going to be howling extra loud tonight.

Take a look at this video, it explains everything. Then go outside tonight and take a look at the moon.

[via NASA]

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Ditch Your Universal Remote for Multiple Remotes

Most people want to find a way to replace all their remotes for a single universal remote that can do it all. They reason that with a single remote, they can cut down on confusion and annoyance.

Oh, how wrong those universal remote seekers are.

Like many others who have several devices hooked up in the living room, I’ve tried to find some help organizing my life with a universal remote. I’ve bought some of the most highly acclaimed remotes on the market in an attempt to find a solution, and I’ve spent hours programming all my products to work with them. Needless to say, I’m a veteran when it comes to universal remotes.

But each and every time that I’ve bought a universal remote, I’ve done away with it in a matter of months. In some cases, they don’t provide all the features I’m looking for. In other cases, they become a pain to use. And at times, I’m left wanting more. I’ve simply never been happy with a universal remote. And my most recent search for the suitable solution has turned up empty. I have nothing left to try.

So, I’ve decided that it’s time I share with you all that the best solution for controlling all the devices in the living room is to use multiple remotes. Sure, that might run against conventional wisdom, but trust me, you’ll be much happier (and wealthier) if you follow my lead.

The biggest issue with universal remotes is the cost. Any worthy device on the market will set you back at least a couple hundred dollars. I don’t know about you, but the thought of buying a $200 or $300 remote for the sole purpose of controlling devices in my living room that came with free remotes in the first place doesn’t appeal to me. I’d much rather save that cash for the next big thing, rather than on a remote that’s overpriced.

But it goes beyond pricing. Even if you get a high-quality universal remote, you won’t always get the same functionality you can expect from the remote that goes with a specific device. More popular devices will have ample support from universal remote makers. But try something a bit more obscure and chances are, you’ll be left wondering why you can’t perform at least a couple functions.

And then there’s the set-up time. Call me crazy, but I don’t like spending an inordinate amount of time searching for my devices, ensuring it’s the right version, and programming that into a universal remote. And I especially don’t like doing so every single time I buy a new device. To me, it’s simpler to break out the batteries and pop them into the remote for the respective product. I can then sit down, relax, and enjoy my new gadget.

Plus, let’s face it: in order to watch a movie, do you really need to juggle more than two remotes at a time, anyway? And don’t forget that once the movie is playing, you can put the remote back and not think twice about all the remotes you have.

Sorry, but I’m not seeing so much value in universal remotes. Are there fine options out there for those who are? Of course. But if you ask me, the cheaper and best option is to buy all the devices you want and use the remotes that come with them.

Over time, you’ll realize it’s the right move.

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