EZ-Log's Amazon Store for Truckers
Reviews are written by folks like you and me so you get to read pros and cons from actual users. Amazon is great about letting shoppers know about similar items that are better, newer, or, less expensive.
How to Use EZ-Log's Amazon Store for TruckersBelow, you can read our take on recommended gadgets. At the bottom of each description is a link to Amazon. If they can convince you that you can't live without it, they'll be glad to ship it to you...
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Enter the name for this tabbed section: Computers
13" MacBook ProThis is our first choice for computing perfection. It's solid, fast, elegant, and just the right size.
It's perfect for confined spaces like sleepers. You won't get a hernia carrying it over to the Trucker's Lounge when you need some time away from your tractor.
Battery life is amazing. We can unplug and, cruise the net, send emails, polish up the site... The battery will give us five or more hours of use before the low battery warning comes on!
We would get more time if we remembered to dim the screen and close some of the programs we usually have running. Most of the time, five hours is more than enough. Have you ever tried sitting in the Trucker's Lounge for five hours?
Power requirements are featherweight. A 300 watt inverter is plenty to keep the battery charged. The battery will last longer if it gets some exercise, though. So, don't leave it plugged in all the time.
Like A "Mac" TruckThis laptop is CNC machined out of a solid block of aluminum and really is about as solid as a rock. The screen sits behind a sheet of high-strength tempered glass. That makes cleaning a breeze. It also protects the actual display from damage. A problem with older notebook designs.
Even though it's stronger than our older MacBook, it's thinner and lighter. I was amazed when I pulled it out of the box.
It's also easier to maintain and cleans up with a damp cloth. The glass screen isn't nearly as "fragile" as the old style screens that scratched easily and could be damaged if you press too hard cleaning it.
While they are stronger, lighter, faster and better looking than the older plastic versions, they are less expensive. Less is always better when it is about paying.
A PC In DisguiseIf you have programs that only run in Windows, you can install and run Windows. That's been possible since Apple switched to Intel chips.
When Apple moved to Intel processors, one of the major PC magazines reviewed the new Macs. In one test they installed Windows. They concluded, "The Mac runs Windows better that most of the PCs we've tested."
There are two ways to run Windows on a Mac. Bootcamp comes with every Mac. Bootcamp gives users the choice of booting into Mac OS or Windows. Windows, not included, has to be installed to use Bootcamp.
The second option, is to use a program like VMware Fusion or Parallels that run in Mac OS. When one of these programs is running, users can boot and run Windows concurrently with Mac OS. Windows only applications start an run as they would on any Windows PC. The difference is you can switch back and forth between Windows and Mac OS without a reboot.
Regardless of which option is used, you need a retail copy of Windows. Even so, this is much less expensive than buying two computers. The disadvantages are when Windows is running, it is possible to become infected by viruses, spyware and other Windows nasties. Including Registry and .dll headaches. Sometimes problems with Windows can effect the Mac side. Standard precautions in running Windows must be followed when running Windows on a Mac.
Lower Cost of OwnershipThe average PC user upgrades about every two years. Mac users comfortably stretch that out to an average of five years. So, comparing a $1,300 Mac to a $700 PC comes out costing the Mac owner $450 less in five years!
Here's why. It costs $260 a year to own the Mac and $350 a year to own 2-1/2 PCs. This assumes spending only $700 for each PC. If you spend more on your PCs that $350 figure ratchets up. And this doesn't consider that you can sell the Mac for about half of what you paid for it after five years. Used PCs are sometimes accepted at Goodwill.
The Mac user won't have to spend extra to protect it from viruses, spyware and trojan horses. And it shouldn't have to take periodic vacations at the Geek Squad for tune ups and delousing. Like the ads say, Macs just work.
Optimized For UseMost of my PC using friends always shut down their laptops when not in use. They tell me the battery drains too fast when left on. Even when sleeping. Plus, Window starts acting up when they don't frequently restart.
That isn't my experience with any of my Macs since OS X came out. I can leave them on for weeks or even months with no ill effects. The battery drains very slowly when the lid is shut. And it springs to life the instant I lift the cover - no waiting for a boot up or for programs to launch.
I suppose that comes from having UNIX under the hood. UNIX is the industrial strength operating system used for servers and other mission critical computers in business and military use.
RecommendationsGet the 13.3" MacBook Pro. It's small, fast and will last a long time and will just work every time you need it.
If you need a larger screen, go for the 15" or 17" MacBook Pro. In addition to the larger screens you will get faster processors and a few more bells & whistles.
For ultra portability, look at the 10" or 13" MacBook Air. They feature the same construction as their larger siblings. They surprise in the performance department due to things like ultra-fast SSD (Solid State Drives) instead of conventional hard drives. The 13" model is the heavier and it comes in under three pounds.
The MacBook Pro lineup was recently updated by Apple and now feature Intel's latest i5 and i7 processors, more memory and larger hard drives. Want desktop performance from a laptop? It's available now! Did I mention the prices stayed the same?
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-Inch Laptop
Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-Inch Laptop
Apple MacBook Air 11.6-Inch Laptop
Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Software
Microsoft OfficeWhether you use a Mac or a Windows computer, you need to have Office or Excel installed on your computer to use EZ-Log. Even if you don't use EZ-Log there are some really good reasons to have a copy of Office.
Office Is A Universal Business SuiteIf you need to read content created on other computers, you need Office. If you need to create content that will be read on other computers, you need Office. Office is a universal standard in business, education and for personal use. Documents created in Office can be used on virtually any personal computer on the planet. Even Unix and Linux computers can use read and write in Office formats.
Office ToolsOffice is not one program, rather it is a collection, or, suite of business related programs that include the following core tools:
- Word - a comprehensive Word Processor
- Excel - a comprehensive Spreadsheet program for crunching numbers
- PowerPoint - a Slideshow creation and Presentation tool
Some Office versions include additional programs, but these are the core elements for most versions. This is true for both Mac and Windows.
Office VariationsOffice for both Mac and Windows come in two major categories. The first is a Home & Student version. The second it the Business version.
The Home & Student versions are intended for personal use and the license covers most things except for business use. Users can write letters, design flyers, create presentations, track personal expenses or create household budgets. As the name suggests, users can complete homework assignments for school. The Home & Student license prohibits use for business purposes.
The Business versions add Outlook which is a combination email client, calendar, schedule and notebook. Outlook can run as a stand alone tool or can connect to a company server where many users can share things like calendars and a group address book. Supervisors can use Outlook to assign tasks to individuals or groups.
Business versions of Office for Windows include, OneNote, Publisher and Access. Microsoft does not publish Mac versions of these. Microsoft charges less for Office for Mac to make up for the absence of the additional programs. Microsoft probably won't introduce Mac versions since there are Mac specific programs that provide similar functionality.
Owners of Business versions may also use the software for personal things. If your company owns the copy on your computer, then company policy may limit how you use the programs. But, the license from Microsoft does not forbid personal use.
RecommendationsIf you will regularly use your copy of Office for your logbook, this is a business use and we suggest you purchase the Business version. The Home & Student versions will allow you to read and modify EZ-Log files.
To strictly comply with Microsoft's license agreement, you should not do this. Late versions can and do "phone home" and send information to Microsoft. We don't believe you can afford the expense or hassles involved in defending your claim that you didn't violate the license agreement.
Microsoft Office for Mac Home and Business 2011 - 1 Pack
Microsoft Office for Windows 7/ Vista
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Accessories
Below are a few suggestions to make computing out on the road more civilized.
Magic MouseHow about a mouse with no buttons that can do more than a typical mouse with 5, 8 or even 15 buttons? Enter Apple's Magic Mouse. The magic in Magic Mouse is that it understands gestures. The entire top surface is a multi-touch sensor.
Swipe with one finger up and down and the screen scrolls up and down. Swipe left or right and the page pans left and right. Click on the left side and it works like a conventional mouse with a left-click button. Click on the right side and you get a right-click. The Pinch gesture lets you zoom in and out inside a window's contents, graphics, or, photographs.
Button and gesture functions are fully customizable to suit your needs. Like reversing left and right button function if you are a south-paw. One, two, three and even four-finger swipes and clicks can be customized to perform more functions.
After using Magic Mouse with gestures, going back a computer without gestures is like waking up and finding yourself with half your computer missing. If you haven't experienced gestures, you really don't know what you are missing!
Yes, MagicMouse works on Windows machines, but, with less magic. Install the driver for Microsoft's Sidewinder X8 to enable scrolling. This driver gives you the functionality of a three-button mouse on Windows. As of yet, no one offers a Windows driver to add additional gestures. The Sidewinder X8 driver may only work with Windows 7. Your mileage may vary with older versions of Windows.
Add even more gesture functionality to Magic Mouse with our next suggestion below.
Apple Magic Mouse at Amazon
MagicPrefsAdd dozen's more swipe, click, pinch and tap functions to your Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad and gesture enabled laptop track pads. MagicPrefs adds middle-button clicks to give Magic Mouse three-button functionality.
Even customize functions dependent on what kinds of programs you are using if you really want to get geeky. MagicPrefs lets you create sets like default, graphics and gaming that change functions depending on what program you are using.
MagicPrefs recently added plugins. Other developers can develop plugins to add even more functions like a graphical program launcher that float above the screen. New features are frequently added.
Go slow at adding more functions. It takes a while for muscle memory to catch up with lots of new functions. Don't say I didn't warn you...
Great price too. It's only $13.00. Development is very active and updates are free. Get it here. (Opens in a new window or tab)
Sorry, only available for Macs.
Briefcase or Backpack?We vote for backpack. Backpacks are easier to tote around and can be a great way to organize all of your computer and electronic related stuff. Including things like cameras, external hard drives, chargers, cords, etc.
This Wenger SwissGear will work with laptops up to 17". If you have lots of small accessories, consider a combo model made for photographers like the Lowepro.
There is only one disadvantage of having all your expensive gear in one place. It's convenient for you because you can grab & go. It's also convenient for the bad guys to grab & go when you aren't looking. So, keep your eyes and ears open when you are out with your gear.
We use a neoprene sleeve if we are taking the laptop into the Trucker's Lounge at Truck Stops instead of toting the backpack. Less stuff to watch over that way.
SwissGear Carbon Backpack
Lowepro Pro Runner 450 AW Backpack
Bluetooth headset featuring military grade noise cancellation and Voice Dialing for phones that support it.
Noise Assassin 3.0 destroys noise and automatically adjusts volume to compensate for ambient noise. Works as well or better than bulky "over-the-head" units.
Customizable to Fit Your NeedsWorks with most Bluetooth enabled GPS units for turn by turn voice prompts. The Bluetooth can be paired with multiple devices. Multiple Bluetooth pairings will decrease battery life, though. Can be programmed and updated to take voice notes or even send emails and SMS messages. An internal voice prompt alerts you to things like battery condition and caller’s name if they are in your smart phones address book. Several different male and female voices are available. Prefer Spanish, French, or, even Chinese voice prompts? Yes, there are language choices too.
Easily Customize Your ERA on the WebYour laptop will install ERA's custom features. First, download and install Jawbone Updater from Jawbone's web site. The Jawbone Updater uses your Internet browser to connect to Jawbone's update page. While the Jawbone ERA is connected by the USB adapter, the Jawbone Updater works in a browser window to change voices and install more programs. An internet connection is needed to make any changes. The Updater will install firmware updates. Jawbone suggests checking your ERA for firmware updates immediately after you buy Jawbone ERA. Firmware updates fix bugs and adds new features. So, it is a good idea to check for firmware updates occasionally.
Battery ChargingThe USB cable will charge the ERA's battery from either a USB port on your computer, or, from the included Wall-Wart AC charger. Charging is fast. An LED changes from red to white when the battery is fully charged. On a full charge, Jawbone claims over five hours of talk time. That's about our experience. Playing music or using your ERA to listen to your GPS's turn-by-turn prompts reduces battery life. We found with light use, the battery could go several days between charges.
Great SoundYou will sound as if you are sitting in your living room to callers even in a noisy tractor. And they will sound good too. Multiple earpiece choices come with the ERA to customize fit and acoustic performance. Previous designs tended to sound tinny and thin. Not the ERA. Even music from your Smart Phone will sound rich and full with the right ear piece. An optional (and comfortable) ear hook adds security when you are doing safety checks or fueling. Avoid touching your ERA when you have diesel on your hands. Diesel slowly dissolves plastics and silicone! Keep in mind that the noise suppression is primarily to improve the sound for the folks you are calling. It does little to improve what you are hearing. Although, the automatic volume level helps by adjusting volume up when it is noisy. Choosing the right earpiece will make the biggest improvements in sound quality on your end. We found that the earpiece that fits snugly against the ear canal helped by partly blocking loud engine and road noise. ERA comes with many optional earpieces, so finding one that works for your ear is not a problem.
The Jawbone ERA is used by helicopter pilots and tank commanders! It's that good!
Jawbone ERA Headset
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Smart Phones
iPhone 4Buy iPhone 4 and you will have more space in your cab. Even if you never add a single one of the more than 500,000 Apps available, you can donate the following to less fortunate drivers...
- Pocket Calculator
- Note Pads
- Movie Cameras
- Alarm Clock
You could probably toss more stuff. But, I don't want to think that hard.
A Real ComputerYou may not want to toss your Computer. However, if you don't have one, iPhone 4 could stand in until you have the cash. iPhone will let you cruise the net, send and receive email, and many more things you may be using your computer for now.
iPhone is an InvestmentSo far, used iPhones hold value. The previous model, the 3GS, is selling for more than $300.00. Not bad since most of the sellers bought them for $199.00! Now, AT&T is offering the 3GS for under $50.00 with a plan. That means you could get a 3GS today and upgrade in a year or two and sell the 3GS for more than you will have to pay for a new current model.
The App StoreI mentioned in the opening paragraph that there are more than 500,000 Apps now available for iPhone. More and more Trucker specific Apps are appearing. Most of the big Truck Stop names like Pilot offer Free Apps that will do things like show you where the nearest store is. What the current fuel prices are at that location. And what amenities are available.
GPS App Under a Buck?MotionX GPS Drive gives you spoken turn-by-turn instructions for only 99¢! It can share your location and ETA with friends, family and maybe even your dispatcher if you want him or her to know. Motion X GPS works better than many competing GPS Apps costing much more.
The catch in the super low price is the speech. It's free the first month. After that speech is a subscription. But, it's only $19.00 a year. App updates are free, and the developer is very active with updates coming every few months. So, even with the subscription fee figured in, it's way less costly than even the cheapest dedicated GPS units. Currently truck routing is not available.
The included map program is Google Maps. Including the Satellite View. I've used it often going to shippers or consignees. A great use is delivering at shopping centers. Often, docks are set up such that trucks must enter only one way. Enter the wrong way and you're headed the wrong direction to hit the dock. The Satellite View shows this clearly. Seeing the dark tracks from previous trucks entering and leaving are great clues for seeing the best entrances and exits too.
Free StuffThere are thousands of free Apps including games. Some are "light" versions designed to get you hooked, er, demonstrate the App. Then, you can decide if you want to pay for the full version.
Dragon DictationIs a free App that will record your speech. Then, you can have the app convert your recording to text to use in emails or notes. So, if you find the tiny keyboard a bit cramped, just speak your message and send it off in an email.
Besides games, there are plenty of Apps that do real work. Even the built in Apps can do a lot for you. I've used the camera as a fax. More than once I've been sitting at a shipper getting loaded and my dispatcher wants the bills from the last trip faxed "right away."
Piece of cake. Put the bills on a clipboard and take a few shots. Pick the sharpest one and choose "Email" from the menu and your "Fax" is in your dispatcher's inbox in minutes. The faxed file is in .jpg format which any computer can open and print.
Just window shopping through the App Store can be a great source of free entertainment. I could continue sharing more great Apps. But, this would end up being many more pages.
Buying AdviceI wouldn't buy an iPhone on the Internet. Even from AT&T, Verizon or even Apple's sites. Generally, you will have a much better experience at one of their brick & mortar stores. While they are setting up your new iPhone, they can transfer the contents of your address book. Your sales person will have many great tips and pointers. Having a live person walk you through the fine points is always better than trying to follow instructions on a postage-stamp sized owner guide
Don't have time to shop but you're tired of high prices at truck stops?
We didn't list the stuff like books on diets or exercise. They've got that stuff too! You might need some of that after shopping the grocery section for a while...
Amazon on EZ-Log
It only seems like magic...
So, the things you see here are things we use and want to share with you. We don't have that big diamond ring, though. Try that link down in the disclosure section below to find out what this is about...
Amazon Customer Reviews
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