More Farmer’s Market Tech

We’ve played with a lot of different technologies at the farmer’s market. Electronics used outdoors need to be rugged, easy to protect from rain, and usable in bright sunshine.

Back when we made people order fryers in advance, we brought a Panasonic ToughBook so we could take the deposits and enter the orders on QuickBooks. We stopped doing this when we started bringing chickens on spec, rather than just to fill orders. Because every cop car in the country seems to be equipped with one of these, used ToughBooks are plentiful and affordable on eBay and other places. read more...

Every Farmer Needs a … Used iPad?

My old first-generation iPad has mysteriously become the property of my son Karl, so I took a look at the price of a new one. Yikes!

On the other hand, used, first-generation iPads have fallen to around $300, or about one-third the price of a new one that’s similarly decked out with 3G and lots of memory. iPads are built like tanks and have bright screens, and are up to the challenge of being used at a Farmers’ Market.

One practical use for the iPad is accepting credit cards, using teeny-tiny card readers like the one from Square, which plugs into the headphone jack. Square has made their product very easy to use (they’re saying, “Use it at your next garage sale,” and they’re giving it away for free. I like it — the money shows up in my bank account within a couple of days. read more...

Google: Are the Smart People Leaving?

There’s a stage in every company’s development when the smart people leave and the company runs on autopilot from then on, in a zombie-like half-life. It happened to Hewlett-Packard when Dr. Hewlett and Dr. Packard passed on; it happened to Apple when Steve Jobs left the first time, and it happened to eBay and PayPal ages ago (as anyone who has ever tried to find an actual human being to help them with a problem knows to their sorrow).

Now I’m wondering if it’s happening to Google. Their “new look” for Gmail is a train wreck. Where did all the emphasis on tiny, faint gray text come from? Is everyone over thirty supposed to find a new mail provider right now? read more...

The iPod Touch as the Ultimate PDA

I’ve turned my iPod Touch into the ultimate PDA. It wasn’t hard, because it’s pretty good out of the box. But I had to adjust a few things:

Enable Calendar Sync. Karen and I keep our days coordinated through Google Calendar. When we make an appointment, we enter it on our iPod Touch’s calendar immediately and “invite” the other person so they’ll know what’s up.

The iPod Touch will stay current with your Google Calendar (or whatever calendar package you use on your PC) whenever it’s connected to a wireless network. I really like Google Calendar, but the iPod Touch will sync with Outlook Calendar and plenty of others. It works great. read more...

Avoid Disappointment: Get the 3G iPad

If you’re thinking about getting an iPad, don’t shoot yourself in the foot by getting the Wifi-only version. Get the 3G version, even if you aren’t convinced you’re willing to pay for 3G. Here’s why:

I’ve had an iPod Touch for a long time. An iPod Touch is basically an iPhone without the phone — and without 3G. It runs iPhone apps wonderfully, and I use it for everything: email, appointments, note taking, music, audiobooks, movies, Web browsing, games, shopping lists — you name it. read more...