Tag Archives: Reviews

Tiny Windows programs that are awesome

I consider myself a Windows power user, having used this OS almost exclusively on all my PCs and laptops since I was a student with Windows 95, and now as a professional software developer on Windows 10. Over the years, I’ve found that I like my Windows experience a certain way, and I’ve installed a ton of different apps and utilities. As I prepare to replace the hard drive in my aging Dell XPS 1340 (2009) with a faster SSD (on which I plan to reinstall Windows 7, and maybe see if it can handle Windows 10 too), I’m reminded of a few programs that I’ve found indispensable and will be installing on the new disk right away. Sure, there are plenty of professional applications that are released by huge corporations and have equally massive, sprawling installations over your disk, but I’m most impressed with the little apps that are well-written and just work. So that’s what this list will focus on — tiny programs that just work. Here are my favourites, in no particular order! Read more »

Replacing a dead battery on a Mazda key fob? Don’t buy a cheap one (updated)

Six months ago, the battery in my 2010 Mazda 3’s key fob (aka “flip-key”) totally died and I needed to replace it. The battery in these things is a CR1620, which I couldn’t find anywhere in stores, so I ordered the cheapest ones I could find off eBay — a pack of 3 generic brand Eunicell (made in China) for $2.18 CAD shipped. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good first experience with them. There’s an orange LED that should light up whenever you press a button on the key fob. On a working key fob that still contained the original Panasonic battery from the manufacturer, the LED was bright and solid, but on the one I had just replaced, it was flickering and dim. I actually couldn’t get the first battery to work, so I had to take a 2nd one from the 3-pack, and that eventually did work, but never 100% reliably. I also had to reprogram the key fob to be recognized by my car. I concluded that these batteries were just “weak” or underpowered, or that the eBay seller was giving me old/used stock (I now realize that this wasn’t true. EDIT: it turns out my original suspicions were probably correct; see update below!). Anyway, a week ago, I sought out a brand name and ordered a 5-pack of Sony batteries (made in Japan) from Amazon, which cost me $13 all in (including Ontario taxes).

cr1620-batteries-side-by-side-crop

Left: 5pcs Sony CR1620 (made in Japan), about $2.60 each.
Top-right: Original Panasonic battery (made in Indonesia).
Bottom-right: 3pcs Eunicell (made in China) from eBay, about $0.73 each.

Read more »