A (mostly) In Depth Review of Mailfence

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A few weeks ago I wrote an article about Regaining Your Online Privacy where I discussed various tools and services you can use to ensure your sensitive information remains confidential and protected. In the article I mentioned several e-mail providers known for their privacy and security measures. One such provider is Mailfence. Incidentally, I have been using their service for nearly two months and felt their service worthy of an in-depth review. As you will read in my post about regaining one’s online privacy, I barely scratched the surface on Mailfence as a product & company, who have engineered an e-mail platform to be reckoned with.

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Dell XPS 15 (9550) Review & My Disastrous Experience with Dell

This post has been rewritten since original publishing. Blog mea regulae meae!

With regard to the acquisition of computers, I have a rule – buy business or enterprise class hardware. Yes, they are more expensive, but more often than not, the hardware and technical support you receive are better than consumer grade hardware. Business class products are typically engineered to last longer as companies tend to buy large quantities of computers and don’t rotate them out for several years at a time.

Recently, I broke that rule and through my own doing, paid the price.

Several weeks ago I decided I wanted to sell my beloved Fujitsu Lifebook U904. It’s somewhat of a collectible, in my opinion, given they didn’t sell them for very long, making it a limited edition of sorts. I created an eBay account just to sell this item, and after a few scam attempts, sold the computer to a good home. I was undecided in which computer the Lifebook would be replaced with. Another Fujitsu perhaps? The previous one never gave me an ounce of trouble, despite it’s awful trackpad and “shallower than a kiddie pool” keyboard.  Unfortunately, as of this writing, Fujitsu doesn’t seem to sell a ultrabook or ultrabook-esque notebook with a QHD+ resolution, or higher, like my U904.

In a market where the PC is allegedly dying as more and more people use tablets or convertibles, I was somewhat limited in choice. Then I noticed many blogs were covering the newly refreshed Dell XPS 15″ with the Skylake processor from Intel. It was pure happenstance I found one in the Dell Outlet with the configuration I wanted:

  • Intel “Skylake” i7 quad core processor
  • 16 GB RAM, user accessible and upgradable
  • 512 GB SSD, also user accessible and upgradable
  • 4K Infinity Edge Display
  • among other core features…

The laptop was priced well for a refurbished model, and surprisingly came with a 1 year warranty, instead of 90 days or similar, as several other manufacturers do. Little did I know my experience with Dell would end in frustration.

“Frodo, Throw it in the fire!” I heard in the distance as I unboxed the notebook for the first time. I should have listened.

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Product Review: Backup Solutions

Caveat: by no means is the Backup Solutions application/service a product designed for consumers. The software is best designed for use in the business/enterprise sector. Sure, a SOHO user could use the service, Backup Solutions won’t turn you away. Just don’t expect to store terabytes of data without difficulty.

After my dip into the waters of poor customer service that is BackBlaze I found myself needing a new online backup provider. Over the years, I’ve rolled my own backup server, used Amazon’s own AWS, Microsoft Azure, and various other services. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to code scripts, create a working GUI, or putz around at a command line to upload files and folders. Sure, there are clients that do this out of the box, CloudBerry Lab makes some fantastic applications for those DIYer’s!

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Overhauling my home network with gear from Ubiquiti Networks

As the Internet has become more pervasive, the routers we place in our homes have evolved to keep up with the ever growing demands of our phones, tablets, and IoT device families. Unfortunately, for me, they aren’t evolving fast enough and if there were ever a time to shout “Get off my lawn you whippersnappers!”, now would be it. It would seem the consumer and even small business flavor of routers have led to nothing but frustration and disappointment for me.

A few days ago, the air interface on our Linksys WRT1900AC router died.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘air interface’, it refers to the wireless radio inside of the router or wireless access point (WAP) which broadcasts the signal your laptop, phone, and/or tablets use to connect without wires. It comprises layers 1 and 2 of the OSI model, physical and data link.
The router was a few months older than the 1 year warranty it was given. We have no idea why it died, it’s well ventilated, never abused (physically, of course), and generally performed well. We had been contemplating moving the router to the center of the house for better WiFi coverage, but really, it’s been solid. Nice for a Linksys product. But, all that glitters is not gold and we’ve been without WiFi for nearly two weeks. Before you ask, no, it’s not brought our family closer, in fact, we have wires everywhere. It looks like a data center exploded.

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Product Review: RainMachine Touch HD-12 Sprinkler Controller

Home sprinkler systems haven’t really advanced much in recent decades. Unfortunately, the controllers are still as cumbersome and tedious to program as a VCR (for those who remember). A few months ago, a single attempt at running the sprinklers resulted in a complicated process based in trial and error. Sorting out which setting would begin which zone and for how long was maddening. I’ve tried to program it many times over the years, only to have it either not save or revert to factory defaults. It’s confused everyone who has tried to use it, and as a result, the sprinklers are rarely ran and the lawn often looks like the Klopek’s lawn in The Burbs.

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Product Review: Matias Tactile Pro Keyboard for PC

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Behold, in all it’s glory, the Matias Tactile Pro keyboard for PC. If it looks familiar, it’s because it was inspired by the (now discontinued, but not forgotten) Apple Pro Keyboard:

Of course, the Matias Tactile Pro PC is for, PC, and doesn’t feature the Apple keymaps. That doesn’t mean the Tactile Pro isn’t channeling the ancients. In the short time I’ve owned the Tactile Pro, apple-pro-keyboardit has provided one of the best, if not THE best typing experience I’ve had the pleasure of enduring in many years.

As it happens, I’m an analyst by trade and spend a lot of my time at a keyboard for work, as well as pleasure. Before purchasing the Tactile Pro I was using a Microsoft Sculpt Desktop and was generally pleased with the keyboard, quite pleased with the mouse. There were a few issues, though. For example, the keyboard couldn’t keep up with my typing speed, and often missed letters; “ghosting” they call it. Additionally, the split caused my right wrist to be sore some days, especially after long hours in spreadsheets. This was due to the hyper-extending of 2 fingers on the right hand, since I have small fingers.

A long day coming arrived, and I had to shop for another keyboard.

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