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Articles tagged with: portable

Things to make portable computing, photography, anything really, easier to do.

Written By: Gary on November 27, 2009 One Comment

So I tried out CoPilot Live North America GPS turn-by-turn software. First off let me point out it’s on sale for $24.99 through December (and then it goes back to $34.99) and it appears to include free quarterly updates (with no time limits listed as of today). Secondly please note that North America is defined as USA and Canada. FYI, if you don’t have an iPhone and you’re hoping to get one for the holidays, buy it now! It should work later just fine (at least all the sale and free apps I bought before I purchased worked fine.

copilotapproad.jpg

It’s awesome! You can use it in spoken turn-by-turn mode with or without the street names, only one voice (Frank) does the full street names, but I don’t like that on GPS devices (I get long names like “turn right at next exit Grand River / US-5 / 10 mile road”) and it’s too long for my attention span so I use Lisa (or John). In short mode I think it should speak the highway exit numbers though, it actually sounds truncated the way they do it.

It’s really easy to pick addresses from your address book and save as favorites, it did give me a little problem with my home address the way I had it in my address book but not any of my others (I’m not sure why). If you’re typing in an address it’ll let you use zip codes which I like. You can also search by business name (such as Detroit Science Center) and it’ll add to favorites or even make a call for you. It’ll also show routing for cars, walking or biking. It’ll let you play back your tracks, which would be great for hiking but this has got to eat your battery though.

copilotappsettings.jpg

My biggest complaint is that while it integrates the iPod player into the application, it doesn’t pause the iPod part of the iPhone when it’s speaking; but this is listed as one of the next upcoming features. My second biggest complaint, is that sometimes I don’t feel like they followed iPhone interface guidelines and you have to think sometimes when picking out and typing things (mostly in the search areas).

The 2D maps will let you pinch / zoom like many iPhone map programs will. And it works in landscape or portrait modes. While I like portrait better, the fonts of turns show up bigger in landscape.

It’ll give you live weather for where you are too!

It’s probably the biggest app I have, it’s 1.3 GB, that’s a 1/12 of your 16 GB phone! You can get more info here: http://www.copilotlive.com/iphone/

CoPilot Live North America

Bottom line: If you don’t have a turn-by-turn GPS for $34.99 this is a great deal. For the $19.99 sale price (for only a few days) it’s an even better bargain.

Accessories: I’d recommend a car charger or external battery to charge your phone when walking or biking.

Written By: Gary on September 24, 2009 One Comment

What I don’t like about my Bluetooth earpiece for my iPhone is that it only streams audio from the phone calls. Why Apple (all cell makers) don’t let you use BT audio from other parts of your phone, I don’t understand. I have a pair of semi-bulky BlueTooth stereo headphones that and they stream the iPod music, podcasts, sound effects from games, and everything (but they’re bulky). My normal bluetooth earpiece just fits in my shirt pocket for when I’m not using it so I rather use that. The trick is to find an earpiece that supports A2DP.

Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset (Black) PlantronicsI decided on the Plantronics Voyager 855 Bluetooth Headset for three reasons: they were inexpensive, I’ve had good experience with Plantronics in the past and they came with a second earbud (earplug?) for your other ear if you want stereo sound.

So now I can listen to podcasts or news (or whatever) while waiting for something (doctor appointment, a movie to start, anything) without having to cover both ears (and not have to carry anything big around to do it). The same goes for videos or watching YouTube. Or if I’m playing a game I’ll still get sound, it’s nice to have audio feedback even for simple puzzle games, but especially for puzzle games. Your device must support A2DP for audio other than phone calls.

I think my main uses for this will be phone calls, listening to audio (books, The Economist and podcasts, streaming some radio) and some games. I can walk pretty far from the phone when listening, when I head upstairs (most amount of wall/stairs interference) it cuts out a little, but once I’m upstairs it still sounds great.

I think I’ll rarely plug in the second earpiece but I’ll keep it in my computer bag just in case. It’d be great if I knew I was going to be somewhere loud, but it might be too loud for them to hear me. Obviously I can use these for music, but I rarely listen to music via headphones, I generally listen to music at home or in the car, but I guess I now have the option (sort of).

The packaging was very nice, I couldn’t believe these were a $35 from from the box. In the box was a nice manual, not some teeny tiny thing that you’ll never find again. The BT headset, a nice carrying bag, two ear loops, 3 different pairs of ear gels (plus a weird pair foam ear pieces), a wall plug charger and some weird strap (unidentified in the manual) to dangle it from your neck (like a neckless, I guess).

So this BT headset gets a two thumbs up from me. No real minuses on the headset at all, but this is my first few hours of use and I really enjoy them so far.

I’ll probably do a follow-up in a few days, so if you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

Written By: Gary on September 21, 2009 4 Comments

Replace my laptop? Not a chance! But the more I use it…

Previously I took my laptop everywhere. The iPhone has easily cut out 20%-25% of my dragging around a laptop; my rule is generally don’t leave home without it.

With my iPhone, I’m still connected to the world. I can read, I can forward and I can bookmark things and type (if I have to), it’s more than the basics. Of course I can watch and listen to all the “stuff” that’s on the iPod portion of the iPhone too. If I could get a bluetooth keyboard (or even a wired keyboard the plugs into the dock) I think I could drop carrying the computer around to 50% of what I used to do. I don’t really want to JailBreak my phone to do this. (FYI, this feature is now is iOS 4 for several iPhone models)

apple-bt-iphone-keyboard.jpg
This keyboad looks huge, but it’s really the tiny wireless one from Apple.

I don’t even need the keyboard to work in all the applications (although I’d like it), I can just type in a special keyboard application then copy and paste into the program where I need the information.

I’d need an external battery pack for the iPhone though. I thought I’d already need to, but I generally leave it in the charger at home and I charge it in the car. It’s pretty rare that I notice that I’m running really low.

It’s been a while now that I’ve had the iPhone, but it’s still a new toy so I use it a lot but it’s pretty rare when I “need” to bring laptop along. The laptop is mostly just for typing these days.

Photo from Geeky-Gadgets and the linked page has a video of this working on the JailBroken iPhone…

Written By: Gary on September 10, 2009 No Comment

So if you have any older iPod or iPhone accessories or chargers many of they don’t charge properly. I’m not sure what they changed but it’s a pain when it’s a nice speaker dock or your car stereo won’t charge our battery (and instead drains the battery).

Enter the Scosche Charging Adapter for iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 2G and iPod nano 4G! This device plugs in between the cable and you iPod of iPhone. I plug my iPhone into the adaptor and then into the cable in the car and now I can listen and charge my iPhone. So I can actually stream audio over the air (network) and pipe it straight into my stereo in my car, it’s awesome!

I’ve picked up the adaptor for $24.99 at Amazon. They also make an adaptor that plugs into some docks/stands that does the same type of thing (available in black or white).

It was well worth it for me, I think my car stereo is less than 18 months old so I didn’t need a new one and they’d probably have charged me at least $50 labor just to run a new cable (assuming Alpine even makes one for my stereo, which I couldn’t find). So this was a no-brainer.

If it’s a short ride and I’m just listening to the iPhone via the iPod application then I don’t use the adaptor so that I’m not just charging for only few minutes. I try not to charge my phone (or any device) if I’m really not going to need it, the iPhone is probably only good for a certainĀ amount of charges so I try not to waste the number of charges.

FYI – In my experience plugging the Scosche adaptor into the iPhone first before the other device works better; otherwise (at least my car stereo) sees it as 1/2 an iPhone and gets confused.

Written By: Gary on July 12, 2009 One Comment

Apple iPhone 3G Holster Clip BoxWave CorporationSo I have a holster for my iPhone that looks like this (I think it’s this same case with different branding). And it’s a great case! It’s plastic and holds the phone in just perfect, the clip at the top keeps the phone from bouncing out (the clip is important to me). But it’s got the screen exposed…

What I want is for the iPhone to face inward, to protect the screen. That’s what I had for my 755p and I really liked that. Any suggestions?

I’ve only found one and it doesn’t look like it has a clip at the top, not sure how it rotates without phone falling out.

Honestly, I’m tempted to get a heat gun and make it a little bigger at the bottom so it’ll fit face forward. I just don’t know how much more fragile that will make the plastic. Plus, there isn’t anything soft on the plastic to protect the screen.

UPDATE: This is the Seidio iPhone case and clip that I got.

Written By: Gary on June 21, 2009 No Comment

I’ve had a few people just happy that the iPhone phone dropped to $99 (for 8GB) and are tempted to get that instead of the $199 model with more features (and 16 GB). They want to know if it’s really worth the $100 more.

Here’s why it’s worth it (and I’m not even going to point out the things that you think I will):
3gornor3g.pngJust a few weeks ago there was $100 difference between the $199 (8 GB) and $299 (16 GB) iPhone 3g models and the only difference was 8GB of storage. Right now the $99 model is 8 GB and $199 is 16 GB so it’s the same $99 for 8 GB. The 8 GB iPod Touch (it’s an iPhone with no phone, no GPS, no camera, no microphone and lots of other stuff too) is $229 and you don’t get much at all! Here’s my countdown list on why to get the 3gs, please note that compass, video and better photos are the last three reasons, not the top three. This list is really for those who are making a purchase that think they don’t want the compass or better camera w/ video; this is not a reason to upgrade from the iPhone 3g, that’s expensive.

Here’s everything between the $99 iPhone 3g and the iPhone $199 3gs:

  • 8 GB of storage (flash) memory – twice as much storage memory for apps and videos and music and audiobooks.
  • 256 MB of RAM – twice as much memory for applications to run in (more efficiently which makes it seem faster).
  • Faster Processor – The main processor is 50% faster and a faster graphics chip, Apple says this gives you up to twice the speed.
  • Better battery life – For just about everything but phone calls and 3g network use.
  • Faster network – This will utilize AT&T’s faster network (once it gets installed) which should improve battery life according to Apple.
  • Oleophobic coating on screen – more fingerprint resistant (geeky oleophobic details from Bill Nye
  • Photos – 3.2 MP with tap to focus (instead of 2 MP).
  • Video Recording – This is new, not on the other models. You can directly upload to YouTube, MobileMe and (I assume) email to someone.
  • Compass – Maps will orient the right way and I think people will come out with some cool applications utilizing this. I think thinking astronomy applications first, point at the sky and it identifies what you are viewing and offers links to more information or you ask it for a star or planet and it points it out for you (I predict this won’t take long at all, scroll down on this page to see this for G1); maybe even point out satellites as they travel across the sky. Then I’m counting on being at a national park or a big city and point my phone at something and it will supply all sorts of information about that landmark. See this page for a sample tourist image or imagine this (see video) but overlaid on top of live images of where you are. Or this interactive view of Wimbeldon.

Did I leave anything out? How far did you have to go down the list before you decided it was worth $99?

The first four are really the biggest value: Twice the storage, twice the memory (this will help), faster processor and better battery life!

Notes: I do understand that Apple is only charging $100 for 16 GB more memory in the $299, but since you don’t want to spend that much, we’re really not going go there.

Written By: Gary on June 9, 2009 2 Comments

mms3.pngMost of the iPhone OS 3.0 features aren’t anything new, they were announced months ago. So much of yesterday’s keynote dealing with the iPhone was not a surprise. What was a surprise was how stupid that AT&T looked when they weren’t ready for tethering or MMS!

I think 29 countries are ready for MMS but not AT&T in the United States and 22 countries are ready for tethering but not AT&T in the United States. What does this say about contracts and exclusivity with they way they are marketing this phone? If some other carriers had this phone they’d be selling like hot cakes as people would be trying to get away from AT&T…

tether3.pngPersonally, I don’t see me ever using the MMS (especially if it costs more), I just send my attachments as an e-mail. But the tethering is what’s holding me up from getting the iPhone.

FYI, when the 3.0 beta came out, it had the tethering in it and some people were able to turn it on, so this works. It’s just a matter of AT&T selling it to the customers.

Written By: Gary on May 22, 2009 No Comment

Assuming we get new iPhones at the WWDC in early June, I’ve got a few guesses. June 9th is when it’s assumed Apple will release the new 3.0 Operating System and announce (or release new phones). I think the upgrade is supposed to be free for iPhone users but not for the iPod touch users; I find this completely bizzaro since I think you’ll need it to purchase applications, so Apple is cutting out their market of potential iTunes App sales.

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerThey could just announce new phones, but people’s contracts are running out so I assume they’ll have something to release or announce with product in the next few months (there are July 17 rumors too, but it could just be the same rumor re-tweeted over and over). I’m just talking about features for the physical phone, the software has been out in beta and I don’t think there will be too many surprises there.

1) I think we’ll get a new phone with a new camera. It’s never had the best camera and rumors say Apple has been buying 3 MP and 5 MP chips. I’d really hope it’s the 5 MP as the main camera, but sadly I’m not sure what else they’d use the 3 MP chips in. I’m assuming this would also allow you to record video. But 3 MP is pretty low when you consider the quality of everything else that goes into the iPhone.
2) I’d love it to have two cameras, one on the back and one of the front for video-conferencing. I don’t think we’ll get that with this refresh (maybe on ‘the iTablet’?), but if they offer it, I definitely pick up that model.
3) I think they’ll start offering an iPhone with more memory, they’ve had more memory in the iPod Touch (up to 32 GB v.s up to 16 GB)for a while so this is a no brainer (IMHO). But will they stop at 32 GB or go all the way to 64 GB?

Other stuff:
Lots of rumors on a faster processor and if Apple wants to make this a gaming machine it needs a little more power. Rumors indicate faster chip purchases, but these could be for ‘the tablet’, but then again maybe they need it for the rumored video recording capabilities.

Apple iPod touch 32 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerI feel if Apple starts releasing very different model iPhones, people will start getting confused on which models to get. So far the only difference has been color (do they still make the white?) and storage. If they try keeping a cheaper model with less features, a mid-range with with a better (or two) cameras and another with faster processor will just confuse the masses. Even more confusing if each higher step doesn’t include every feature of the “lower” models. Nothing says “don’t buy” more than confusion between models.

And speaking of the iTablet, which I think will be more of big iPhone/iTouch than a low power tablet or netbook computer, I’m not sure why the iTablet would need a better camera than the iPhone (I’m really hung up on the 3 MP / 5 MP chip rumors). I’d like the tablet to have to ability to be a phone to use my SIM chip from my iPhone for data. They better not release a tablet with a phone from a competing company so I need to buy another plan for wireless data for this other device.

So I’m ready to transition to the iPhone, I’ve been playing with the iTouch (yes, I know it’s an iPod Touch) for a few months and I need the data “on” all the time. As long as they announce a way to tether my laptop to the Internet via the phone, I’m in!

Written By: Gary on May 12, 2009 One Comment

I got way overwhelmed with my RSS feeds, I’ve got gobs of them (almost 300). Many of those feeds don’t get updated more that once a month (if ever) so they really don’t impact the list, but a dozen or so update 2-4 times a day. Plus, I recently added everyone coming to WordCamp Chicago (list of attendees) another 100 or so feeds; I’ll prune that down later.

I’ve been over a 1000+ unread items for ages and even when it gets back to 700-800 it just jumps back up! Lately , no matter what I do, I can’t even get it under 1000, so I cleared out all my posts. And started over…

THey really need a way to click a button to ‘mark all posts older than __ days as read’ and that would help with when it gets full.

Hopefully I’ll do better catching up in the future.

I’ve got the feeds syncing with my iPod Touch (but if I’m not of WiFi there are no images, which makes some feeds useless) so maybe that will help. I use Doppler (you can try Doppler Lite for free).

I’m really looking for an off-line Google Reader the includes the images for off-line viewing, any tips? Other than storage space, once you’ve written the reader the image caching doesn’t seem too hard, but it still eludes me….

Written By: Gary on April 6, 2009 One Comment

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerOverall, I really love my iPod iTouch. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s an iPhone without the phone, GPS or camera, but without the monthly prices! And while I love it I’ve got a few complaints:
1) Why isn’t it called an iTouch? It’s the obvious name, I will continue to call it that even though it’s wrong.
2) The music playing isn’t iPod-ish enough. I’ll be playing an audio file and I can’t see how long it is or how far I am into it (or have to go). It’s got more than enough room on the screen. And I need a better way for fast forwarding and rewinding, I should be able to drag a slider across the screen, not the old-fashioned hold and press on the virtual button. Give me a virtual scroll wheel in the middle of the screen or some configuration changes in the options…
4) I need a better way to manage the applications screens. I know you can drag them but it’s a pain. Any new applications just get dumped in the first free space. Let me create some categories and sort them hierarchically (like my music) but I need to put some items in multiple categories (or at least a category and a “favorites”).
3) No cut and paste! I’ve type my name, zip, and e-mail about a million times in the last week. I know they are adding it this summer but it too two years! They really need another button next to “cut, copy, paste” that says “shortcuts” where I can put the stuff I type all the time.
5) Needs some more applications for viewing info off-line. Mail works great, a few work decent, the rest require a connection.
6) No built-in microphone.
7) This thing really sucks the power! It really needs an easier way to turn the WiFi off (how about clicking the WiFi icon on the screen!).

I’m sure I’ll add some more basic complaints and I will be praising this (and applications) in future posts.

Written By: Gary on March 4, 2009 2 Comments

Amazon released a Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch application (that link is to the US iTunes store, not sure about international release).

With Kindle for iPhone, you can:
* Buy a Kindle book from your Mac, PC, or iPhone using a Web browser and wirelessly transfer the books to your iPhone.
* Read first chapters of any book for free before you buy.
* Download the Kindle books you already own for free (they are automatically backed up on Amazon.com).
* Adjust the text size, add bookmarks, and view the annotations you created on your Kindle device.

Kindle for iPhone also includes Whispersync, which allows you to seamlessly switch back and forth between your Kindle device and Kindle for iPhone while keeping your bookmarks and reading location synchronized between devices

kindleapp.jpgWow! Now you don’t even need a Kindle now to read the eBooks. I’m assuming the “digital paper” display is easier to read on the Kindle, but this is very cool. I wonder if the images look better than on the grey-scale Kindle? It looks like it will “show books in color that were developed that way“. I’ve liked the idea of a Kindle but not the cost and I’ve also been afraid of not having it with me everywhere; if I can start syncing to other devices that’d be very useful. Even if you don’t want to read a whole book on your iPhone/Touch, you can read the first chapter of all the Kindle books for free! ANd it doesn’t appear to sync magazines or newspapers, only books.

And did I mention that it’s free at the Apple App store? Of course you have to buy the books.

Update:

  • A lot of nice screenshots at the iPhone Blog.
  • It looks like to buy books you need to use Mobile Safari (or a computer) and not the Kindle software. That’s not ideal, but it’s workable.
  • Written By: Gary on December 14, 2008 No Comment

    I really like the way Apple did this iPod Touch ad.

    I couldn’t see it when I went to http://games.yahoo.com/, I assume I need to be running Windows? I tried Safari and Firefox.

    Here’s the direct link. I found this at MacRumors.

    Written By: Gary on November 15, 2008 2 Comments

    This is a problem!!!

    Someone else dropped something into the river and I made a grab for it an my camera fell out of my pocket. I meant to only leave it in that pocket for a minute when I thought the water might reach my pants pocket and I forgot to move it back. I’m am so bummed…

    The lens was closed, it was under water for just a few seconds, I wiped it off with a dry towel immediately and pulled out the battery. Needless to say I didn’t take any more pictures, I had a few from today of the ocean and monkeys but I bet those are fine. I hope the monkey shots are, I got a monkey (with a baby on it’s back) that managed to snatch a shaker of parmesan from a restaurant and were eating it up in a tree!

    Now the camera, the chip and the battery are in a zip lock bag with some dry rice (to soak up the extra moisture). I’ll leave it for a day or so and see how it is. Kitty litter is supposed to work well too, but I didn’t need a 25 pound bag of it in my tiny room.

    It’s a great camera, I’d definitely recommend the Canon SD1100 with image stabilization. It’s been in my sights for ages and I recently found a great on-line deal for it from Dell (that’s where I bought my SLR Canon camera too).

    I’ll definitely be adding the WP-DC22 Waterproof Case to my wishlist (assuming the camera still works). It’s good for 40 meters underwater (130 feet) and is supposed to also be great for “beach, rain and on the ski slopes”.

    Later: Oops, the waterproof case is more expen$ive than the camera was!!!

    Written By: Gary on October 20, 2008 One Comment

    Yes, I know I’m always talking about Apple Laptops, especially the MacBook, but I really like the Apple laptops. So the new MacBook metal laptop itself looked really nice but what I really noticed was that it felt really really sturdy whether it was opened or closed. It’s got the black border around the display with i don’t like at first glance but people must have liked it on the iMac so I guess I’d get used to it. I’d trade up in a second (half-pound lighter, backlit keyboard, brighter lower power LCD Display, longer battery life) if I needed to have it replaced for some reason but without a significant speed upgrade I really can’t justify the cost (any cost really) especially since my memory won’t transfer, neither will my spare battery or my video adaptor.

    Two questions:

  • When you use the security port (Kensington lock slot), does it lock in the battery and the hard drive by stopping you from opening the back? (it was really close to the release latch)
  • If there is no firewire, is there no target disk mode or will it work via USB? (no reason that they couldn’t)I still think it was ridiculous that they removed the firewire port. It’d have been easy enough for them to say a year ago that they planned to phase Firewire out so make sure you purchase USB devices, that would remove the real valid complaints.
  • Written By: Gary on December 31, 2007 No Comment

    You can still Get 1 Give 1 through December 31st, 2007, they extended the date. I don’t know what availability is going to be after that, but you’ll have to take your chances after that…

    As of JANUARY 1, 2008 they still have the G1G1 order form on-line.

    200Laptop The only way to get one is to donate one, so you actually get one for yourself and a tax deductible laptop that is donated to a developing nation. The Get 1 Give 1 (G1G1) program ends today (December 31st, 2007) so order now.

    This is nifty little machine (and a good cause) I’ve mentioned the XO laptop before and I’ve been talking more about it more in depth over at the XO Experiment.

    Written By: Gary on November 21, 2007 4 Comments

    200LaptopSo I caved and ordered my $200 laptop, actually I had to order two . The only way to get one is to donate one, so you actually get one for yourself and a tax deductible laptop that is donated to a developing nation (total = $400). The Get 1 Give 1 (G1G1) program only lasts 5 more days (ends November 26) so order now.

    As a “Give One Get One” donor, you will receive one of the first XO laptops to be distributed in North America. Laptops will be delivered on a first come, first served basis.

    OnelaptopperchildIn addition, T-Mobile gives you one-year complimentary access to T-Mobile HotSpots (I think you can use any laptop there, not just the XO). So that’s an extra bonus too. The tax write off for part of it and a year of free hotspots (granted I wouldn’t have purchased it, but I will use it) give even more value to it. And I’ll probably spend a little more time at Starbucks and Borders now.

    Here’s some more details from when I had mentioned this $100 laptop before and some reviews on the laptop and the program. I’m not sure why they’re limiting the window for when you can buy it or why it’s limited to the US and Canada. I just wish I had it for my next trip to Costa Rica….

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