Adventures in Tech (with Mini Reviews)

After a week, I am finally reunited with my (considering this post, debatably) trusty Macbook Pro.

Why would I call one of my favorite pieces of tech “debatably” trusty?  Because in all fairness, the battery should not have expanded like that after only a year and a half.  Thankfully, after being quoted by the repairs depot at Apple for nearly $800, the Apple Store was willing to work with me and found a program that was able to override the $800 repair price to $0.  I am eternally grateful to the crew at the Apple Store for helping me out.

During the week I was “fruitless” (I know that was a bad pun; it’s been a long week,) I was at first, working on my i3 Surface Pro 3, but the poor little thing couldn’t handle my propensity to have more than 5 tabs open, as well as Discord, at any given time.  However, I’d gotten a refurbished Dell Latitude E6430S a year or so ago, not only as a backup, but to keep me up to date on cross-platform knowledge, play some PC-only games, and to be honest, it was less than $100 online at Tanga.com (This isn’t an affiliate link, it’s just a link.)

I’m not the biggest fan of Windows.  That doesn’t necessarily paint me as an Apple Fangirl or anything.  Macbook Pro aside, all my Apple products are pretty old – iPhone 6S+, Apple Watch 1st Gen and my mom has my old MBP from 2013.

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I very rarely purchase “new” tech.  My father was a mechanic for about 300 years, and always taught me to never trust the first release of a new model of anything (in his reference, new cars,) a statement that I feel rings more true now than it did when Little Me wanted an original Game Boy.

New tech nowadays tends to be riddled with flaws – in hardware, it could be manufacturing issues due to rushed production or design research, or in software, bugs that didn’t get enough time in quality assurance.  I play a lot of video games and every time a new game releases, there’s always a “Day One” patch to fix whatever bugs were found between the end of production and release.

What my father instilled in me (in regards to new top-of-the-line products) is that patience is key.  Wait until the bugs are all squashed and if you still can’t live without it, wait a bit more in case of a price drop.  We weren’t rich by any means, so generally if I wanted something expensive, it’d require a ton of odd jobs that Little Me would do for a few bucks, such as attempting to “help” my parents around the house.  (Usually this ended in me being told by one parent to go “help” the other one when my “helping” had significantly risen their blood pressure.)

When I wasn’t being the helping-est helper that ever helped, Little Me had lots of time to do research on things I wanted.  I didn’t have Internet until I was 14, so a lot of that research involved asking my friends or watching TV or dragging my parents to the store to go “look” at the thing I wanted.  (Including the one time I got sick from playing the Virtual Boy demo console!)

That inquisitiveness never subsided and I think it’s a good thing.  I’ll spend anywhere from a few days to months to years (in the case of researching pets,) to make sure that the product I’m looking at fits my needs both in the present and will last.

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As promised, here is a blast of mini reviews of the tech I’ve got and use regularly.  Some of which will be familiar, others may not.  (Amazon Affiliate links ahoy!)  I may do full reviews on some of these products later.

      • 32″ Samsung LED TV:  (Samsung no longer makes this model so I won’t be linking it.)  I originally purchased it 5-6 years ago off of woot.com for about $160 refurbished.  I use it as a TV for my gaming consoles and as a second display for my computer.  My computer set-up is located next to my bed, so having a big display when watching YouTube videos or writing blogs or reading an ebook is great.

      • Razer Cynosa Chroma keyboard:  I like Razer’s products, for the most part.  I do feel they’re a bit overpriced, but sometimes, you can find some really great deals on them, (such as the current $15 price drop on the Cynosa.)  I particularly like this keyboard because it’s not as “clicky-clacky” as traditional mechanical keyboards.  It’s also spill-resistant, which is awesome, especially because I have a tendency to eat at my computer, (don’t judge me – in fact, I’m currently drinking 4C Totally Light 2 Go Fruit Punch right now.)
      • Razer Spectre Starcraft II Gaming Mouse:  No link because Razer no longer makes it, but their Deathadder line is comparable.  I’m linking the Razer Deathadder Elite because it’s currently $30 off.
      • Apple iPhone 6S Plus:  I’ve had this phone now for about 4 years and I haven’t had a need to replace it.  I did recently take advantage of the 2018 battery replacement program, because the battery was shot, but other than that, it’s served me quite well.  I would like to upgrade to an iPhone X eventually, but there are a few things that are keeping me from pulling the trigger, such as the lack of a headphone jack.

      • Nintendo Switch:  (Full disclosure – I purchased my Switch pre-owned, using rewards coupons and my employee discount from my current part-time employer.)  I’ll go more in-depth on video games later, but I wanted to point out that I like the Switch both for its portability and the ease of transitioning between handheld tablet mode and TV mode.  I’m not a fan of motion controls, but for the most part they can be avoided.  Also, I’m fully prepared for my next Pokemon fix.  😀

      • Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum Wireless Gaming Headset:  I originally started out with the G633 Wired Headset, but eventually switched to Wireless after 2 replacements from Logitech Customer Service (who were fantastic, by the way.)  As of now, I still have a new-in-box G633 just sitting around because I don’t know what to do with it right now.  Anyway, I primarily use my headset for chatting on Discord or watching movies at night, but the sound quality is great and like Razer’s Synapse, Logitech’s Gaming Software works well with both Mac and Windows.

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I’m thankful to have my computer back.  I had lots of things planned to blog and will be back to my 3x week posting moving forward.  I’m looking for another job, as my hours were cut (due to the holiday being over,) so I can do have a more stable income to support myself, my cats and continue to try new things to test and explore.

Thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to read my blogs thus far and thank you for joining me on these adventures.

Product Review: Outward Hound Triple Treater Totter

As anyone with pets can attest, owning a pet is an adventure!  I’ve had a varitable menagerie over the years – a dog, multiple rabbits, snakes, lizards, fish, amphibians, hamsters, gerbils, and cats.  I currently have two cats, Chalupa Batman and Squirtle.

Chalupa is very cute and 3, Squirtle is very handsome and 4.  Both were adopted in Texas – Chalupa from a little Mom & Pop pet store who had, at one point, a bunch of kittens from the Houston Humane Society and Squirtle from the Houston SPCA directly a few months later.

You may see that Squirtle is missing his right front leg.  According to the SPCA, he’d been picked up as an injured stray, and after an attempt to save the leg, in the end, it had to be amputated.  He does pretty OK for himself, to be honest, but he’s a big cat with shorter legs, so I have to try and keep him from turning into this:

Fat-Cat
This is not my cat, I found it on the internet, but it’s fat.

The thing with Squirtle is that he likes to eat.  A lot.  I presume that comes from him living out in the wilderness eating berries for the first year or so of his life.  Anyway, he and Chalupa have very different eating habits – Chalupa will pick throughout the day, whereas Squirtle will eat all his food and then demand to be fed every single time you pass his food dish.  (Berries must not have much nutritional value.)

Because Squirtle was putting on weight from eating out of Chalupa’s dish, I had to think of a new way to allow both cats to eat and still maintain a healthy weight.  With Squirtle only having the one front leg, too much weight could have negative effects on his joints in the future.

So, on to my solution!

While scouring Amazon for neat pet products, I came across Outward Hound’s Triple Treater Totter.

It’s actually a dog treat dispenser, however, it works very well to keep Squirtle from binging on too much food.  Chalupa is quite curious, (as my mother says, “He gets into things.”) so I thought this might be something that could give him a bit of stimulation and enrichment.  He’s very particular about toys, so he’ll only really play with one specific toy that isn’t a feather dancer or a laser; any others he almost immediately loses interest in.  Otherwise, he runs back and forth through the house, doing kitty parkour off the furniture and harassing Squirtle.

The three arms work on a ball-joint style pivot point on the green stand, so the dog (or cat, in this case,) can eat the treats out of the cups.  There is a triangular cap in the center, where small kibble-sized treats can be stored.  As the arms are pulled down, the treats roll down the arms and through a hole in the cup.  Due to the size of the dispensing holes and the storage area, small to mid-sized round training treats or kibbles will fit.

I picked this up to give it a shot, in the hopes that Chalupa would easily figure out how to work his new feeder, which, to my delight, he did!

IMG_8477
Please pardon the hideous green carpet.

As it turns out, the Treater Totter is great for dispensing cat kibbles.  Chalupa immediately learned that he could swivel the cups with his paw so once he’d emptied one, he’d just spin it to another cup.  Within a day or so, he figured out that he could pull more kibbles down with his paw and by pushing the cup down so they roll into it.  If he’s not confident enough to stick his face in the cup itself, he’ll scoop kibbles out and onto the floor (to my dismay, hence the newspaper placemat,) and eat them that way.

Chalupa Batman has been using the Treater Totter now for almost a year and the results have been remarkably positive.  He’s able to eat his kibbles at his leisure, without Squirtle flying in and inhaling his food, and Squirtle, since he can’t physically move the cups, has learned to leave it alone.  (Sometimes, if the cups are full, he will try to nibble, but usually he’s chased away.)  I’ve also been able to get Squirtle down to a healthy weight, due to him eating proper portions.

PROS:

  • Encourages enrichment/puzzle solving
  • Holds 1 cup of cat kibbles (1/4 in each cup and 1/4 cup internally)
  • Made with food-safe plastic (BPA, PVC, and phthalate free)
  • Allows for free-feeding while also monitoring healhy portions
  • Quiet (Mine squeaks, which I don’t mind, because then I can hear when he’s using it, but others I’ve seen have been silent.)

CONS:

  • Can only house small/medium sized kibbles/training treats
  • Pet may figure it out too quickly (if used for a game/toy)
  • Somewhat difficult to clean – you’ll need a bottle brush that will fit inside the dispensing holes to clean inside the arms (I haven’t put it in the dishwasher)

I’ve really only used dry kibbles/treats in the Treater Totter.  (One exception is Blue Buffalo’s Kitty Yums, which are semi-soft, but dry.)  I wouldn’t suggest using wet food or moist treats as they may be messy and also could create a blockage at the dispensing holes.

All in all, I would definitely recommend the Outward Hound Triple Treater Totter both as a treat dispenser and as a feeder.  Although it’s marketed for dogs, it’s great for cats as well.

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Here are some treats that have worked well in the Treater Totter:

 

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I’m always looking out for neat pet stuff for the cats, so check back for more product reviews!