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Archive for February, 2008

Free instant messaging client…

February 20th, 2008, 1:20am by Kelvin

… for windows mobile, blackberry, and Palm OS smartphones available (sorry Mike). Is this Web Messenger the verichat replacement that we’ve been looking for? At least it’s not sms-based. I’ve got it on my Q and will look for someone to chat with tomorrow.

New TV

February 16th, 2008, 10:29pm by Kelvin

I managed to get a great deal on the HP Mediasmart 42″ 1080p TV. It’s currently on sale for $1299 which was tempting as it was, but I snagged a floor model for $1079. The floor model turned out to be in terrible shape, so I brought it back to replace it with a new one, and they didn’t even ask me to pay the price difference. Score!
Anyway, i’ll supply a review shortly, but I’m pretty pysched to get the internet connectivity for a mere $100 premium over the lowest priced lcd of this size. Kinda renders my xbox moot, but I’ll find a use for it :).

New Wave Sound

February 15th, 2008, 11:30pm by Jake

Installation As the readers of this blog may know, I bough a brand new car last month, a Nissan Altima Hybrid. The only, and I really mean only, downgrade from the Neon was the car stereo. The old stereo was an Alpine with an add-on iPod adapter. Alas, the new car stereo didn’t have any iPod integration. This would have to be solved shortly! One of the major upgrades I got for the Altima was the Convenience Package. That included the much-coveted steering wheel controls. With the steering wheel controls, I can change the volume, change the station and change the source. At least, I could do that with the factory stereo. Adding an after-market stereo would lead to the loss of those controls… or would it?

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Kitchen Radio

February 15th, 2008, 11:15am by Mike

With the new AppleTV update, I can now use the AppleTV itself as a receiver for iTunes streamed from the computer (via “Airtunes“). Previously, this required an Airport Express, which was hooked up to my stereo. What this allows is for simultaneous playing of music from the computer to the computer’s speakers, as well as other stereos around the house.
So, now that I have the office (computer speakers) and living room (AppleTV) covered, I have an extra Airport Express, which I think I want to use as an audio extender to the kitchen. So what I need, basically, are some speakers that have an aux input. It would be nice to hang them under the cabinet to keep them out of the way. My options seem to be:

  • Computer speakers. The difficulties here are that I’d like some speakers that sound decent, but don’t have a subwoofer involved. Seems like most non-bottom-of-the-barrel speakers cost in the $50 range, and have a subwoofer. It would be nice if they were kind of small, and I’m thinking I’d have to engineer some contraption to hang them under the cabinet.
  • An under-cabinet mounted “kitchen radio.” There don’t seem to be too many with an aux-in jack, and the ones that do (like this one) are about $100, which is a little pricey.

Any recommendations? Anybody have any computer speakers that they particularly like?
As a side note, I feel pretty certain that as soon as the iPhone SDK is out later this month, somebody will write a program allowing control of a remote iTunes library via wifi from the iPhone (similar programs are available for bluetooth and wifi on Palm and WinMob devices). Until then, I’ll have to walk to the kitchen to change the albums or playlists.

Take 2

February 12th, 2008, 6:49pm by Mike


As soon as Steve Jobs announced that the AppleTV update was on its way this winter, I was pretty excited about the possibilities — movie rentals, buying music and TV shows straight from the TV (i.e., no laptop on my lap while watching the TV), and much more. So today, when the update finally went live, I downloaded it, and now I’m running it through its paces.
What do I like so far? Well, so far, it really is the little things that make it nice:

  • Podcasts straight from the TV. There are a million podcasts out there, including lots of video and even HD ones. They’re kinda hard to find, though, on the computer, and before the update, you’d have to find them and sync them to your computer (and optionally, to your AppleTV) before watching. Now, no need — you can stream them straight off the web. Downloading podcasts for use on the AppleTV is pretty pointless now — you can set a podcast as a “Favorite,” then click on it from the remote, find an episode that sounds good, and start watching/listening. Haven’t ever watched Mahalo Daily before, but I’ll probably start now.
  • AirTunes base station. For all practical purposes, I just got an Airport Express, for free. I can move my actual Airport Express from the stereo to another room, hook it up to some computer speakers, and I have another place where I can stream music around the house. AppleTV used to be able to stream music off the computer, but you couldn’t sent music to it from the computer.
  • Transparency of sources. I don’t have to worry about what’s on the computer and what’s on the AppleTV. I navigate to “My Music,” and all my music on my computer shows up, even though it’s not on the AppleTV. This was a huge problem before, when you didn’t know whether files were on your computer or on the AppleTV itself. If things are really working this way (haven’t really tested this thoroughly), then I don’t see why you’d ever buy the larger-sized AppleTV (as I also said a few months ago).

There’s a lot more, too. Haven’t looked yet at Flickr integration, movie rentals (though the HD movie rentals section, with about 75 movies, doesn’t always feature HD previews)

New Tech at Stop & Shop

February 10th, 2008, 9:46pm by Mike


Over the past year or so, most of the grocery stores around us have put in self-checkout lanes where you scan and bag your own items. This works well, I learned, until you buy a bag of rock salt for melting ice, and there’s a hole in the bag, causing rock salt to pour into the innards of the conveyor belt while you look on helplessly. But that’s another story.
One of our local grocery store chains, Stop & Shop, has raised the bar on self-checkout, with a new technology called “Easy Shop.” Read on to find out how it works (and see photos).

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Running Vegas

February 9th, 2008, 6:21pm by Jake


Running Vegas

Beautiful day in Vegas, so went for a run.

The Air

February 5th, 2008, 5:48pm by Mike

I’m typing this on a MacBook Air, and despite some of the reviews I’ve read, it’s awesome. The review linked above talks about disappointment with the battery life, but I’m typing this, in battery-optimizing mode, on a not-fully-charged Air that says it has 6:11 of battery life remaining. I’m sure that’s an overestimate, but it goes a little way in allaying my fears.
Now where do they keep the manilla envelopes around here?

I voted!

February 5th, 2008, 1:37pm by Jake


I voted!

Went down to vote this morning before work, and no problems! The whole thing took less than 4 minutes, including a 1 minute walk to and from the car.

Yahoo Music Unlimited… is over.

February 4th, 2008, 6:16pm by Mike

Don’t worry, this isn’t the post that everybody’s apparently been avoiding putting up today.
But I saw an article that says that Yahoo Music Unlimited is closing its doors, and subscribers will now become Rhapsody subscribers. Sounds like a raw deal to me, since Rhapsody is so much more expensive. Some of our friends recently bought a Roku Soundbridge and are loving it, maybe that’s a better idea, if you can get streams from last.fm, Pandora, or other recommendation services (not sure if that works or not).


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