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Archive for December, 2005

Holiday Tech Wrap-up

December 29th, 2005, 4:18pm by Mike

Rather than us all alluding to the additions to our techie collections, here’s a spot where we can put it all out there, along with any spot reviews.
I’ll start. The most excitement surrounded me getting Joanie an iPod nano (4 GB, white), and a Griffin SmartDeck tape adapter for her car. The adapter sounds pretty cool — it connects to the dock connector (not the headphone jack) and allows you to use the controls on the tape deck to control the iPod, which is easier to handle when driving, as you car-interface types know. Although the reviews of the SmartDeck were generally positive, the second that Joanie plugged it into her car stereo, the entire stereo immediately lost power. When it came back on, the radio, tape deck, and CD player were all not working, and it says, “CHECK” across the display. The Volkswagen dealer has no idea what that means, and we’re going through trying to diagnose it now. We took the SmartDeck back to the Apple Store, where they literally had a pile of them on the clearance table, and the salesperson said that they’re getting a LOT of returns — and that they don’t seem to work for anybody. So thumbs down there.
We also bought a BMW iPod adapter kit for Joanie’s dad, thanks to Kelvin’s help. He was pretty psyched. In other news, when I called the VW dealer, he told me that just this week VW announced their own iPod adapter kit that works on any VW newer than 2002.5.
The next exciting thing is that my parents got us a Ceiva picture frame and a 1-year subscription to the service. I’ll send out the info for you to e-mail pictures to the frame when we get it set up. The frame typically uses a built-in modem to access the internet, but without a phone line, we can’t use it until we receive the Broadband Adapter. We’re also reasonably sure that we’ll come up with a way to hack it so that we can put pix on it (locally) without renewing our subscription after this year. It would be awesome to figure out how to auto-download from Flickr.
The only other thing that fits this category is the new and (supposedly) improved Kensington WiFi Finder Plus. Too bad they didn’t do the obvious and make it so that it showed whether the network is locked or not — the only one I know of that does that is the Canary Digital Hotspotter.

Amazon Price Drop Policy

December 29th, 2005, 1:49pm by Mike

As we exit the holiday season, it’s likely that we’ve all bought something at Amazon. Yesterday, there was a link from Lifehacker to a writeup about Amazon’s Price Drop Policy, which entitles you to a refund of the difference if Amazon drops the price within 30 days of purchase. The best parts — there’s supposedly no consideration of whether you used a coupon or not in the original purchase, and it’s all done online!
Now go out there and get your money!

Kong is King

December 26th, 2005, 9:13pm by Jake

I went and saw King Kong Saturday afternoon/ evening. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t remember much about the original except for the iconic finale, so it was pretty much all new to me. The development of King Kong as a character that you care for is extraordinary, and it’s easy to see why everyone else falls short when they try to humanize a monster. King Kong is probably the inspiration for all of them, and King Kong does it right. It’s an excellent movie.
I also watched the Chronicles of Narnia a couple weeks ago. The movie was fine, but not highly recommended unless you’re a big C.S. Lewis fan. Or 10 years old, I suppose. Anyone else watch any of this year’s holiday blockbusters?

The night before

December 25th, 2005, 1:35am by Jake

Twas the night before Christmas, and on our website
No one was posting, not even a mite
The Board was served by, Mike’s Powerbook with care
In hopes that some visitors soon would be there
Pyslent was scattered, all snug in their beds
While visions of gadgets danced in their heads
Kelvin wore his Chiefs shirt, and Jake wore his Pats
They just finished watching the Chargers go *splat*
Brandon was sleeping on his first Christmas Eve
Montana dreamt of eating, people food I believe
Jake had Matza Balls and Pastrami at Jerry’s
While Mike and Joanie– maybe they ate some berries?
Out on the internet there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the TV to see what was the matter
Away to the iBook, I turned it on in a flash
Flipped open the lid and emptied the trash
Hard to tell what it is, my WiFi’s acting up
I’ll use my neighbor’s, he’ll never know what’s up
Then I just saw him, why has he got a hatchet?
It’s Rotiveo– the patron saint of gadgets!
Rotiveo wore Mobile Pants, size extra tall
And his clothes were vibrating, must be a phone call
A bundle of gadgets he had flung on his back
And he looked like a Santa, just opening his pack
“Now eBay! Now Borders! Now Slickdeals and Target!
To Costco! To DealNews! To Best Buy and Market!”
All over the web, he searched high and searched low
To find all the stuff, and none of it is slow
The net’s overflowing with really good stuff
Getting it to work might be kind of tough
With all sorts of cords and fifty kinds of plugs
(For us early adopters, we’re used to the bugs)
Rotiveo’s got just the right thing for us all
No Atari, Walkman, nor ‘lectronic pinball
It’s Roombas and TiVoes and Treos galore,
X-Box 360s, iPods, HiDef and more!
Jake celebrates Hannukah with friends in one night
The dreidel they’ll spin, the Menorah they’ll light
So to Brandon & Derrick & Emily
Their very first Christmas Eve as a family
To Mike and Joanie, on the road yet again
They celebrate first, the time zone helps them
To Kelvin, Serena & Montana too,
A place of their own, it’s almost brand new
Rotiveo sprang to Roomba (hacked year before)
And away they went, after cleaning the floor
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Size Comparison (nano vs. pmc)

December 22nd, 2005, 5:23pm by Kelvin

DSC00008.JPG
This photo is proof positive that the iPod nano is, in fact, substantially smaller than Serena’s Samsung YH-999. It’s not even close, really.

Windows Live Local

December 22nd, 2005, 1:35pm by Jake

What a year for maps! Looks like there’s another serious entrant in the online mapping competition. Windows Live Local is Microsoft’s attempt to out-do Google Maps, and they might pull it off. Many things are similar to Google Maps— you can view aerial/satellite maps, road maps or a combination. Live panning & zooming, too. The big addition is high-resolution photographs from what Microsoft calls a “Bird’s Eye View.” You can get a similar effect in the downloadable Google Earth, but the pictures on Local Live are definitely more detailed in places where Bird’s Eye View is available.
SBC-thumb.jpg
That’s SBC Park, where you can see someone is taking a little extra batting practice. I’ve bookmarked that and the Aerospace parking lot at this url. A nice feature of this bookmarking is that anyone can annotate the map & send out a new link. If you do that, you might want to use TinyURL since the links tend to be huge– hundreds of characters! Now, I’d like to take Microsoft’s Bird’s Eye View, combine it with A9 Maps street-level pictures and throw in Google Maps’ 3rd party support. While we’re at it, cross-reference it with any geo-tagging photography sites for a 2nd or 3rd view. Now that would be truly awesome!

Free 411

December 19th, 2005, 2:12pm by Jake

Just read about this Free 411 service on BoingBoing this morning. The free service, reachable at 1-800-FREE411, or 1-800-373-3411, is supported by ads from local business. So if you’re searching for a particular wholesale jewelry supplier in Rhode Island, you could be listening to a 12-second advertisement for Silvergemshop.com before heading the phone number for the business you want. It sounds like a fairly clever scheme. The obvious upside for us is that it provides a free 411 service. I’ll test it out later and report bac- has anyone else tried this yet? In case you think this is too good to be true, Snopes has checked it out and it’s for real.

Falcon gonna fly!

December 19th, 2005, 12:41am by Jake

OK, tomorrow is SpaceX’s second attempt to launch their Falcon I rocket. The first attempt was aborted when they ran out of liquid oxygen. Elon Musk explains how they plan to make sure that doesn’t happen again, “Regarding liquid oxygen (LOX) supplies, we expect to have enough on hand this time to fill the rocket four or five times over. This should account for almost any issue with a particular storage tank as well as an extended hold on the pad. There is an engineering term known as a s*load. I have asked that we have at least two s*loads on hand in case one s*load is not enough.
Launch is set for 11 A.M. Pacific Time on Monday, you can follow Spaceflight Now’s live coverage or just keep tabs on SpaceX’s homepage. Hopefully the Discovery Channel broadcasts a special in HD at some point so Elon can record it on his HD TiVo.

christmas gift to myself

December 18th, 2005, 7:24pm by Kelvin


Those damn starbuck paper cups have dripped on me for the last time. while out shopping today, I decided to walk into a crate and barrel and solve the problem once and for all… Bought Mike’s Oxo mug and poured my coffee into it right in the store.

More Phone Droppin’

December 17th, 2005, 4:54pm by Mike

Yesterday while walking from my car to the house, I dropped my phone on the sidewalk (readers may recall that this isn’t the first time that dropping a phone has caused me problems). It was in the case, and seemed to have survived OK. It wasn’t until today that I realized that the external speaker is no longer working — which means no ringing, no system sounds from the Treo, and of course, no speakerphone. So although everything else is working, the lack of a ringer is sort of a dealbreaker for a phone.
So, long story short, after a call to Palm, and a quick call to The Expert on Treo Exchanges, I had a plan of action. My phone is still under the original 1-year warranty, and I didn’t feel like waiting the two weeks sending in my current phone for the free repair, so I decided I’d pay the $25 and get a phone within 2-3 days by advance exchange. Though it’s likely to be a refurb, I’ll still have the original warranty term (through next June).
In the meantime, I’ll be devising various backup strategies, using the strategies in the comments of this post.
So if you try to call me in the next few days and don’t get an answer, you’ll know why…


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