Synology DS416j NAS

Consider this part-1 of my review of the Synology DS416j NAS for consumers.

First, some background: I’ve been storing my photo library on a 4 TB hard drive. My photo library has grown slowly over the years at a pace of approximately 1 TB per year.

My photo library has grown significantly faster recently due to my video files. I started taking a lot more video on weekends and on trips and as you well know, that takes up a lot of space! On a single trip to Maui we captured over 50 GB of video / photos.

Watch my unboxing video.

So, my archive quickly grow and once it was a 3.8 TB I knew I had to do something.

I had a second photo drive (also 4 TB that I used CarbonCopyCloner to backup to. It basically created a backup of my main photo drive. This gave me peace of mind that if my main drive failed, I’d have a local backup.

In addition, I use CrashPlan to back up online. If I’m being honest, it hasn’t finished backing up in over a year. It just goes so slowly.

So, I was at a cross point with the backups and I decided to jump in with both feet! Network storage scares me for these reasons:

I’m worried about accessing files over the network and worried about the speed.
Obviously worried about the backup, but with Synology I can easy since it can backup within the device to the extra drives. It also has apps so. I can install CrashPlan and hope it catches up.

I installed HGST Deskstar NAS hard drives (2 drives of 4 TB each). Once I hit the 4 TB size I’m going to grab two more.

Let’s talk about the speed issue. I’m often connecting over WiFi, and we all know that WiFi is generally limited to 100 MBps speed. Well, did you know that newer Mac laptops (mid 2013+) have 802.11ac support? This means Gigabit WiFi!

Needless to say, we will be upgrading all of our laptops shortly so we have Gigabit WiFi support.

I’ll also need to go grab a new WiFi Router that supports 802.11ac.

This will create a beautiful setup where accessing files over the network is quick! I can’t wait!

Here is my “unboxing” video which has been a sudden mediocre success on YouTube. I’ll probably post a follow up article about it once I am fully up and running with the new laptops. Installing the drives and using the software has been very easy.

As you can tell, so far I’m loving my NAS!


iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger

My new iClever 6-Port USB Wall Charger has found its way into my home. I’ve been using it regularily and have it plugged in next to my couch.

The genius of a multi-port USB charger was lost on me until I realized it meant I could leave all of my other charger plugs at home and use one device. It’s really quite smart, and easier.

Now when I’m traveling instead of trying to find several wall sockets I just plug the iClever in and all six of my devices can charge.

iclever 6 usb charger

Each of the 6 ports is marked with 5V/2.4 A which gives you full speed charging at any port. It’s marked as SmartID, which means it is smart at identifying specific devices (and charging speeds).


6 port usb charger

Here’s what I have to charge at night:

  1. Android Moto X
  2. iPhone 5C
  3. iPhone 6+
  4. iPad 4 Retina
  5. iPad 1

Yeah, I still have and use my old iPad! Works great for just playing videos.

I also have a variety of cameras to charge, but they each have their own chargers.On the plus side, by using the iClever I’ve freed up extra wall sockets for my camera equipment. Winning!

The iClever comes with a 3 foot cord so it can easily stretch behind a couch or cabinet.

You can purchase the iClever 6-Port USB Charger online at Amazon or at Hisgadget (which seems to have the best deal).

Note: I received the product for free.


Intocircuit Power Castle Portable Charger

My family travels about 10% of the year, and when we’re on the go, we need a way to charge our devices and keep them charged.

That is where our Intocircuit Power Castle Portable Charger comes into play. We now use this charger at home even when we’re sitting on the couch. It’s that convenient!

The portable charger is a 15000 mAh / 55.5 Wh battery that has two USB ports and a flashlight.

Compared to other battery chargers I’ve used in the past, this one has more than 3 times the capacity!

The device has a convenient LED display that tells you exactly how much charge capacity remains. As I’m writing this, I’m charging my phone and it says I have 39% capacity left. That 39% should give me about 4-5 more charges on my iPhone 5C.

In total, you should be able to get about 10-12 charges off of a fully charged portable charger (depending on the phone, state of charge, and condition of battery).

The charger comes with a nice carrying bag, and a USB mini cord so if you’re charging an Android you’ll be set right out of the box. The mini USB cord is also used to charge the device. You can use any USB power outlet connector with the device.

Chargers like this can be really handy for travel on airplanes, long road trips, or even hanging out with friends at the beach.

The Intocircuit portable charger can charge two devices at the same time.

The device sports a clean brushed aluminum finish that looks really nice. It’s small enough to fit inside almost any purse.

So, if you’re looking for a portable USB charger, I’d highly recommend this one! It comes with a warranty and ships via! You can also buy them directly from Hisgadget which seems to be a lower price!

Note: I received the product for free.


Anker Bluetooth Ultra-Slim Keyboard Review

I just bought a Anker® Bluetooth Ultra-Slim Keyboard over on Amazon for $16. Yes, that’s really the price!

It’s a wireless, bluetooth keyboard in the same design as the Apple Wireless Keyboard. I’ve been leaving the keyboard out in the family room, and it has become my new favorite tool for productive writing.

I’ve often bemoaned the fact that part of parenting involves sitting on the couch watching the kids. Sure, I can send and view emails on my cell phone (an iPhone 5C), but I hate typing on the phone keyboard.


No longer! I just paired the keyboard to my phone. Now, whenever I am watching a movie with my toddler, I can write an article. In fact, I’m writing this article while my 3 year old watches Handy Mandy on the television. I’m able to have conversations with my wife, interact with my child, but stay productive. I’ve also written articles while my newborn naps.

My new workflow includes extensive usage of Evernote. I basically type my new articles in Evernote and later while I’m on my computer I edit and publish them (along with a photo).

It’s such a brilliant idea, and I wish I had thought of it sooner! I’m going to be so productive typing new articles.

As an example, I have managed to type 5 articles in a matter of 30 minutes (each one being about 250 words). Not the biggest articles, but exactly what I wanted to write.

So, go do yourself a favor and pick up a cheap wireless keyboard for your phone. You’ll never regret it! Leave a comment and let me know how you stay productive with kids.