When Electronic Devices Fail

Written: July 23, 2013

My son recently bought his first MP3 player from Eclipse that is packed with useful features:

Eclipse 2.8V


He’s been visiting the library to check out music on CD, then we import the CD on my MacBook Pro to iTunes, and finally copy it over to his MP3 player with a USB cable. It worked well for a few days, then all of a sudden it would no longer connect with the USB cable.

We tried connecting his MP3 player to another computer, same failure to connect by USB. Then we tried another USB cable, that was it, the original USB cable simply failed on us. I’d like to think that products made in China are becoming higher quality, however this was another example of poor quality with, “Made in China”.

I was kind of glad that it was something simple that failed like the USB cable, instead of the actual MP3 player itself.

In our connected world we rely greatly on devices like this for both entertainment and business, so when they stop working we lose much productive time and effort.

Our family has used other devices from Apple, Amazon, HTC, Samsung and Google without any failures like this recent device. What devices have you used, and how reliable are they?

How Long Should Hardware Last?

Written: July 16, 2013

In my small business I buy computer hardware to help me communicate with clients, do work and keep informed. Recently my Apple magic mouse died after only about three years of use.

apple magic mouse

This Apple mouse is a thing of beauty, and like most Apple hardware it’s pricey at $69.00. My short-term remedy was to swap out the dead mouse with a Logitech wireless mouse and then plan a trip to my local Apple store at Bridgeport Village.

logitech mouse


I’ve been using Logitech mice for decades and never had one die on me, oh well.

The amount of time required for me to buy the replacement Apple magic mouse was a business loss, and hopefully one that will not happen again. I’m thankful that my computer hardware and software enable me to run my web development business very efficiently, it’s just when something goes down I lose my productivity gains.

Current trends say that we are replacing our laptops at a slower pace now and choosing to hold onto them longer than before.

I’ve been replacing my laptop every two years for a newer model, although I still buy used laptops like the MacBook Pro to be fiscally conservative. What has your experience been with hardware reliability and upgrading?

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Mobilizing Your Web Site

Written: June 20, 2013

The mobile phone market is booming which means that businesses need to consider how to present their web sites on a mobile device. Bridgeport Travel is a local travel agency run by Shelly Pawson and we just created a new site for her that looks great on:

For Desktop visitors we use the full display and add eye-catching photos on the Home page that rotate.

Bridgeport Travel, desktop



On a Tablet a visitor is using a slower WiFi connection so we simplify and concentrate on content, forgoing the slideshow on the Home page and minify the menu bar.



Finally, on the Smart Phone we use a single column of content, keep the logo, minify the menu bar, and only use vertical scrolling.



For both the Tablet and SmartPhone the menu opens up when touched.

SmartPhone menu


Using this approach Shelly can update content using just a web browser and WordPress software, then present her web site on three different sized devices.

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Even Big Companies get Web Security Wrong


My son wanted a new bike so we found a wonderful deal at www.target.com and received the bike just fine.


When I received my new REDcard from Target I signed up to manage my account online, however their SSL security certificate was invalid, as reported by my Google Chrome browser:

bad security at target.com

Even big companies like Target have issues with their SSL certificate.

If you ever question if a site is safe, then just click the https icon and get more details:

ssl details


I then tried browsing the Target site with Safari, the default browser on a MacBook Pro, same error message as Google Chrome:

Safari Mac error

Oddly enough, two browsers had no complaints:


I did follow up and report this to Taget both by sending an email form and spending 16 minutes on the phone with tech support. Ironically the two phone support people simply told me to try another browser, in spite of my attempts to ask them to submit this serious security bug to their technical department.

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