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PDAs, cell phones, laptops(?) and other portable items.

Written By: Gary on January 15, 2008 2 Comments

Apple MacBook Air MC233LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop Apple ComputerSo I like the new MacBook Air. But while it’s smaller and lighter than all the current MacBooks, and it’s one-third lighter than the 12 inch PowerBook, you give up a bit. You can’t have a spare battery, as a matter of fact you can’t even change the battery yourself. The hard drive space is limited, an (iPod?) 80GB hard drive that runs at 4200 RPM, or a pricey 64GB flash drive. It does have the cool new multi-touch-pad and the built-in camera. No internal DVD drive, mono-speaker, only one USB port and a few other things I’m sure I’m not thinking of. If you haven’t seen it, go watch the ad….

It’s got these minuses (but it’s been a looonnnggg time since they refreshed a 12 inch PowerBook and and I’m definitely having “Air Envy”) I think if they take apart, slap it in a regular (or slightly smaller than regular) case with a changeable battery and a real hard drive (and maybe DVD drive) they’ve got what everyone has been waiting for.

I really thought I was going to want to snatch one up but it’s just not what I was expecting (and I’ve seen others say the same. Maybe if I actually see one, but I think until they do my (fictional) upgrades, I might just wait until the next refresh. I’m guessing the MacBook 13 inch will have the new multi-touch pad and LED screen. I can get an awful lot of power for the same price (if I buy my memory somewhere else).

Here’s an idea for something even smaller (no DVD though). Make ma a MacBook but chop the screen in half to the size of the keyboard and somehow have the trackpad slide out! It’s really be a “wide-screen” but it’d be tall enough for normal use.

I really miss my old Apple Duo (or was it a PowerBook Duo?)….

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 December 19, 2007 2 Comments

I’m SO excited!

I wasn’t expecting it for at least another week….

For more info, go to Laptop.org

 

I got my XO Laptop‘ uploaded by garylapointe

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Written By: Gary on December 11, 2007 One Comment

So they’ve got shipping info up for the One Laptop Per Child laptops! I didn’t order until November 21st, so it looks like my target is Dec 26, 2007 – Jan 15, 2008, they’re trying for sooner (the first ones may start arriving this Friday).

Since it’s really not all about me, I’ll mention it also says my “donated laptop will reach a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia or Rwanda in early 2008.”

Written By: Gary on December 9, 2007 No Comment

Meade mySKY Personal Guide for Sky Exploration MeadeSo this was a cool item I saw at REI the other day when I was looking at GPS units. Its a gun you point up at the night sky and it calculates where you are, the direction you’re facing and what angle the gun is tilted at and lights up it’s display and tells you what you are looking at (with a picture too).

Unfortunately, it was daytime and I couldn’t use it. The one I saw was the Meade mySKY Personal Guide for Sky Exploration, this might just be something I need. This is the Official Meade site for the mySky (with some video)

  • it can identify 30,000 unique items
  • 500 audio descriptions to keep you well briefed
  • built in GPS receiver
  • 2 inch wide 480 x 234 LCD
  • Sandy Wood (from StarDate) is who narrates the sky for you
  • interfaces with some Meade telescopes
  • looks like a space gun / phaser
  • Popular Mechanics gave it a great review. But a lot of the people reviewing these seem to have them dead out of the box or problems getting the GPS to “lock”. The ones who it worked for absolutely love them. Possible other problems: Waving a gun around outside or trying to get it through airport security. And for some reason you can only update it on a Windows machine (via an SD card).Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium CelestronThe Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium seems to be a similar product, but it’s not as cool looking but it’s a year older and I think they’ve worked some of the bugs out. Many of the SkyScout complaints seemed to also be with getting the GPS to “lock”.

    And. of course, there is a chart to compare the mySky and SkyScout.

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    Written By: Gary on December 2, 2007 No Comment

    Here was my mission: I was looking for something so I could go hiking or walking along the beach. But I want to have my camera with me, but when I go swimming (or something where I need to put my back down) I don’t want to leave my stuff unattended. So what I had in mind was a smaller version of an military duffle bag (that really think/tough material) that you could somehow clasp at the top and lock it to a tree. Yeah, someone could cut through it, but they couldn’t just grab it and run (and they’d have to work at it).

    What I found was the “PacSafe DaySafe 100 Security Backpack“, it’s two things in one. The first is a backpack made for security, the zippers can be latched so someone can’t easily open it while you’re just walking down the street (the latches are hidden and hard to get to) and like a lot of luggage and you can (optionally) lock the zippers. Part of the main bag is slash-proof, it’s got a metal screen in the material, so someone can’t cut it to get stuff out while you’re wearing it. Plus, one of the straps is detachable and latchable so while you’re sitting there someone can’t just grab your bag if you’ve attached it to the table you’re eating at (this doesn’t work if you leave it unattended). It’s also got a few other areas that they have to make it harder for someone to casually grab things from it. It pretty much looks like a regular backpack.

    ExomeshinsertThe second is a DaySafe (they sell this as a separate product) the DaySafe is pretty much a small tote bag (17 liters) made completely out of the material with the steel built into it (eXomesh®). The drawstring is a metal cable that latches and locks (included) and is pretty secure. If you take the cable and wrap it around a tree (or a stationary object in your hotel room or rental car) before you lock it, it becomes pretty hard for someone to just grab your stuff and run.

    The safe fits inside the backpack perfectly and there is a special spot (hole) for the cable to secure the backpack too (the stuff in outer pockets would be at risk). I do have a smaller backpack that this fits into that is perfect for just running around like that, the included backpack is pretty big for a casual hike/walk.

    I wouldn’t leave my stuff locked to a tree all day but for the bit that I want to go in the water and stay mostly in sight of it it’s perfect.. Or if I hike up into the hills to the waterfall, I can both take pictures and then go for a swim and not be too paranoid about my stuff. So I’m kind excited about this one, since I don’t have to limit what I take when I wander far…

    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….

    Written By: Gary on September 26, 2007 One Comment

    So Amazon opened the Amazon MP3 store which has been getting some good reviews and (most importantly) it semi-integrates by pushing your purchases into your iTunes which is great for automatic syncing with your iPod. They’ve had tracks for download for ages, but this is their big jump into the market (you do need their downloader for this).

    Amazonmp3I actually spotting it yesterday when searching for some music but I didn’t realize the format change of my search results indicated a whole new service. I did notice that the tracks were only 89 cents though!

    Keep in might for 89 cents they are a dime less than the iTunes music store for regular tracks but since there is no encryption (DRM) and it’s encoded at a higher quality (even than Apple I believe) these are 40 cents less than Apple’s $1.29 a song. That’s about 1/3 less if you’ve been getting the DRM-free higher quality songs (and that’s what I’ve been getting lately). And they are MP3s, so they play on just about anything (but higher quality does mean larger songs). Buying whole albums will generally discount the price.There are exceptions to the 89 cent price for the individual songs, but I can’t figure out the rules to tell you. And like the iTunes store I believe there are tracks that can’t be purchased separately from the album, I thought I saw that yesterday but I can’t find an example of that today.

    And to be fair to Apple, their DRM free $1.29 songs are generally much cheaper if you buy the whole album (the 14 track One Cell in the Sea – by A Fine Frenzy is only $7.99 (which I think is the same as the iTunes DRM version) which is the same price as the Amazon mp3 store, except Amazon doesn’t appear to give you the booklet.

    So the end result, IMHO, it’ll never beat the seamlessness of the iTunes Music Store but but with it’s downloader (which does give you a free song), Amazon mp3 might be a good alternative or at least a second place to check when shopping for songs. If you’re not an iPod user it’s probably a great place to consider for your mp3 shopping (I think the downloader will push the tracks to other players but since I don’t have any I”m not certain). The downloader does work pretty good, I did try it. It would be nice if it were smart enough to add it to an “Amazon Playlist”.

    I fully expect to see them selling movies, television, music videos, audio books or distributing podcasts via the same mechanism in the future….

    Written By: Gary on September 19, 2007 One Comment

    188LaptopThis is probably the best review of the XO laptop (often called the “$100 Laptop”) I’ve ever seen. This is a very cool machine and should start manufacturing this fall. Unfortunately, it wasn’t designed for US sales, but once the demand gets up there I can see it (or something similar) being offered for sale. We have similar type items in the US but not as advanced and for more than double the price.

    With a (tablet-like) twist screen it’s pretty need at how it folds over. And the screen has two modes: bright color and high contrast B & W for outside viewing. It had an SD slot and three USB ports, ethernet, wireless (with the mesh network), web-cam for collaboration, works as a gaming device or sideways as an eBook reader. They had to remove the built in charging crank which is a problem if you’re in a really remote area. I’m sure separate chargers raise the price)?).

    The software running on the XO is just as compelling as its hardware. The Red Hat Fedora Linux-based Sugar operating system is fairly basic, and we got comfortable using it within a few minutes. The home screen displays the XO logo within a circle, and the surrounding circle fills up with running programs. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the Start Menu and system application icons, including Paint, Write, Chat, and RSS.

    – Laptop Magazine

    I can see something like this really changing computing for a 1 to 1 ratio. This is all really most people want, e-mail, web, portability (3.5 pounds) and a 10 to 1 charging ratio. The high contrast for reading an e-book will (IMHO) give them something they don’t think they want (lots of text on the go). Add some bluetooth to get on-line on my phone and I’m in. And it runs Red Hat Linux for an OS. I want one of these puppies more than an iPhone.

    Written By: Gary on August 19, 2007 One Comment

    10Gb.MacI’ve mentioned Apple’s .Mac service before and I really like it. Apple has expanded their .Mac on-line backup/syncing to 10GB (from 1 GB). Apple has always been behind the curve in how much storage space for the cost ($99 a year) but they’ve made up for it. With the increased storage it really makes the family plan more practical and affordable too.

     .macIf you have a Macintosh, you’ll love this (especially if you have a laptop or more than one Mac). It’s a remote backup / synchronization / file sharing / training / web publishing software service rolled all-in-one! The biggest feature to me is that if you use your iDisk for all your documents, the next time you connect to the internet it seamlessly synchronizes this document to the server & all your other Macs and you can access the files from any web browser on any platform (it also keeps a copy of all your documents on your hard drive so you can see them if you aren’t on-line). It also synchronizes your bookmarks, e-mail, calendar, contacts data/settings across all your Macs. So if I drop my laptop (or have it stolen), I don’t lose any of my data (as long I’ve been on the internet recently).

    With the extra storage I can save all my purchased iTunes to to my .Mac Music folder and it’ll be on all my computers and I don’t need to make a copy until I have a DVD’s worth of music. The same goes for my photos, I’m always worried about losing my irreplaceable photos.

    For regular documents, you’ll never notice that it’s biggest downside, it’s slow. But if you drag a bunch of huge files in there it’ll take a while, but since it’s seamless you’ll probably never notice, if it doesn’t have enough time, it’ll just continue the next time you’re on the ‘net!Banner To get more info you have to read my earlier post (I’m already repeating myself from that one).

    Written By: Gary on July 15, 2007 2 Comments

    The title really says it all. But you have to see it to believe it!

    And when you’re done watching it, you can bid on it and other extras (it’s up to $1,100 for some weird reason).

    Written By: Gary on March 12, 2007 One Comment

    So I picked up a Buffalo WHR-G54S Wireless Broadband Router because you can never have too many routers in your house but mostly because ever since wireless existed I’ve wanted someway to bridge across my house (mostly to hook some old non-WiFi equipment that was in the living room hooked to the stereo) for older equipment that wireless wasn’t an option. So I just wanted a box with an ethernet and an antenna that would then connect to the network. The stuff I tried was too expensive (although that was a few years back) didn’t work as advertised or didn’t pass Appletalk packets. In general, my favorite home router is the Netgear brand wireless routers but I thought I’d try thing.

    So the packaging on the Buffalo WHR-G54S made me think it would work (or that I could make it work). It seemed like a nice wireless router but it looked like it wouldn’t do what I wanted, but more importantly I knew I could make it work with the DD-WRT project. This is pretty much a way to put a different OS inside the router and it supports a lot more options, it’s kind of a mini-linux (it might actually be all linux now, mildly confused on that) and there are a few projects like this out there. The most important option (for me) is by being a bridge (a mega-bridge that I can hook 5 computers up to). But it’ll also support radius authentication (if you need it, it’s a big deal), a mini web-server and even a way to power (and charge) your internet cafe.

    Warning the content gets pretty geeky from here on.So you have to flash it with a new OS which is mildly tricky, I recommend printing the instructions and crossing out all the non-relevant stuff. It was pretty simple once I found the parts to ignore. Once done it was pretty much how you’d expect any wireless router to be (but better).

    It had an option to be a the bridge I wanted this meant I could take any old computer that had ethernet and make it wireless by just plugging it in the router and it would connect to my wireless connect in the other room. I told it what my network was and it was ready to go. This would also be handy for running operating systems that don’t have support for some odd wireless card or USB dongle. Not only would it let me hook up 4 devices it could actually use the 5th port too (that’s probably overkill but it does it anyways).

    It’ll run a little web server too. I haven’t figured out all the parts but I will. What I’d like is to set it up like a regular router and as soon as you connect it’ll give you a default web page welcoming you to the network (I figure if I can make this work I can more easily convince my local hangouts to WiFi.)

    As a router goes, it supports the blocking options that many routers support but it has 10 different definable options by IP number than you can use (plus you can block by keyword and URL).

    Other stuff: It supports multiple DDNS Services (Dynamic Domain Name Services), multiple VLANs, and some VPN stuff. Also some QoS options (Quality of Services) which might be handy if you don’t want those computers sucking up all your bandwidth (just lower their limit). You can telnet in and all sorts of fun stuff.

    Written By: Gary on February 22, 2007 2 Comments

    If you want your time zones to be correct after the March 2007 Daylight Savings Time change be sure to download this DST update from Palm.

  • Treo 700p, 680, 650, 600, 300, 270, 750, 700w, 700wx
  • LifeDrive
  • Tungsten T5,T3, T2
  • Tungsten C, E2, E, W
  • Zire 72, 31, 21
  • TX, Z22
  • If you’re viewing this page via your Palm OS device you’ll have an option to update it OTA (over the air).

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    Written By: Gary on February 9, 2007 No Comment

    This is insane!

    State senator’s bill would make it illegal to cross the street tuned into portable electronic devices such as MP3 players and BlackBerrys.

    For one, you can have these devices with headsets off (and not actually outputting audio) and not distracting you. And the other is that Deaf people cross the street all the time without hearing traffic. While they do have more practice if they’re talking to someone (signing and watching the other person) they’re definitely distracted and this bill. (Have you ever ridden in a car with deaf people signing to each other? How about while they’re signing to the people in the next car over?!?) And I’m not sure if this covers if you’re texting or just using audio? What if you’re reading the paper or a book? Or reading a billboard ad on the side of a bus?

    Either way, I just want the gov’t to start supplying someone to hold my hand while I cross the street. That’s what we really need, right? It’s certainly what they’re leading up to…

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    Written By: Gary on February 8, 2007 No Comment

    ToyspringhandSo imagine this: You’ve got some kind of handheld inviso-detecter-o-rama and through the viewfinder you can see the invisible creatures in your world. Better yet, if you can see them, you can shoot them. Now imagine this handheld device looks an awful lot like your Treo.

    ToySpring has created a game, called Arcade Reality, using your Treo that uses the live image from your camera to to superimpose the creatures on. So it appears as if you are fighting arcade creatures in real life. Here are some more screenshots.

    Personally, I don’t see how they can get enough processing power out of these handhelds to do this, but the machine might have overlay capabilities that I’m not aware of (I’ve never tried to program a Palm like that). Or they might just be faster than I think. I have seen some zippy video games, I juse don’t play them that much these days…

    Written By: Gary on February 1, 2007 One Comment

    No not that iPhone. The iPhone that’s been out for a while, the one that Linksys/Cisco owns the trademark to (but debating that is not the purpose of this thread). It’s a regular old looking phone, kinda cellphone-ish, it’s cordless and you can carry it around the house and it connects wirelessly to your Windows PC and can make and receive Skype calls. Your Skype friend’s list shows up in the display and you can dial from there. I thought it was pretty cool and it was on the odd clearance rack at Target (the UPC on the box didn’t scan and the had an extra price tag on it, like they received it by accident but needed to tag it to get rid of it) it was a great deal! It’s even got a spot for me to plug in a headset!

    I like Skype, it’s a great idea and even though I only intermittently use it, it always seems to work for me. You can call other computers for free from your computer to and from anywhere in the world (this includes conference calls and video calls). You can call land lines in the US or Canada for just pennies a minute with no monthly fees (or unlimited for $30 a year) from anywhere in the world. Calling other countries cost a bit more depending on the location. Getting a number where people can call you at your computer (no matter what computer you are at, anywhere in the world) is about $60 a year. So going on vacation, it doesn’t matter where you are just load up Skype and connect to the net and people can call you! Get several skype numbers, one that’s close to Grandma and one that’s close to the kids in college and you’re just a local call away for each of them.

    Then phone’s charging and so I haven’t even used it yet. But I can’t wait to try!FYI, they do make some other models of the iPhone that don’t require a computer, they just need WiFi to work. I see that as a minor problem in some places since you need a web browser to activate the Wifi (Panera, McDonald’s, Border’s, etc.). And they’re a lot more expensive. When they get smaller and cheaper, or better yet when they come built into my cell phone…

    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    So I stopped by the Midnight Espresso Cafe in Dearborn. I really like it there but it’s generally pretty smokey (lots of smokers hang out and smoke cigarettes or a hooka) but they didn’t look too busy so I stopped by. WOW! They just renovated and made it much bigger and it seems brighter too!

    They’ve got a wide variety on the menu, I’m guessing much of it is Arabic in origin. Whenever I bring people here they generally find something interesting that they like. I generally get the BBQ Chicken Quesadillas and that’s what I’m getting today.

    Bonus, I pulled out the laptop hook up my phone as a modem and realized I connected to a network! So they’ve got WiFi now too (or else the business next door does), with their new larger non-smoking section and WiFi I think I’ll be here a bit more often now.

    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    So I haven’t said much about the iPhone since it was announce but what’s to say it looks awesome!!! It’s a widescreen video iPod with an internet browser, e-mail and it makes phone calls. The downside (IMHO) is it’s only on Cingular and I don’t think the network the iPhone is using is as fast as the EVDO speed networks.

    IphonehandThe negative I’ve seen some reviewers mention is that it only accepts music from the iTunes music store. Which isn’t true, it only accepts protected music from the iTunes music store. And it’s important to remember all other players don’t allow music from the iTunes music store, I see that as a problem. You can buy from some (smaller) music sites and put your CDs on it. FYI, the iTunes music store sells 58 songs a second (5 million a day) that makes them the fourth largest retailer of music (Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target are above them) then just pulled ahead of Amazon. The iTunes and iPod experience makes it so pleasant to use I don’t think most people care if you can only use one store to buy (protected) music from…On a side note there are rumors that Apple is making a huge advertising announcement during the SuperBowl. The rumor is that they are going to start carrying the Beatles CDs, I just don’t see that is a major announcement, but we’ll see. It’s interesting since Apple Records (the Beatle’s label) has sued Apple more than a few times for infringing on their trademark but I just don’t see it as that huge of a deal. I see them maybe running some new AppleTV ads and maybe some iPhone ads or maybe a new widescreen iPod ad, who knows, the SuperBowl is where they started their ad blitz for the Macintosh in 1984.

    Written By: Gary on January 2, 2007 No Comment

    So wireless Internet connections are limited around here (all of Costa RIca). There are computers at Internet cafes (all over) but most don’t have wireless (WiFi), actually I haven’t seen any cafes with that yet (just a few restaurants). Some are willing to let me plug in my laptop (which is almost as easy as wireless) but many don’t understand the concept. I want to do it this was because I type and pick photos before I ever go to the cafe, I don’t want to sit at the cafe, I just do it when I have a few minutes here and a few minutes here and there (99% of what you read and see is picked and typed already). Then when I get to the cafe I hit send and I just have to wait a few minutes to send/recieve e-mails and post items (photos take longer).

    FYI, Internet is way cheap everywhere here, about 20 colones a minute which is about $2.40 an hour. Some are very slow though…

    Written By: Gary on December 15, 2006 2 Comments

    A few months back I mentioned that Skype was allowing free outgoing calls to US & Canada for free for the rest of the year. Well the year is almost up and it looks like they’re going to charge $30 a year for unlimited outgoing calls. Please note that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it’ll be free outgoing calls to the US and Canada from anywhere.

    Skype logoHere’s the important part: It’s only $15 for the first year if you sign up before January 31. 2007. Plus it looks like they give you $1.25 in international calls and $50 in coupons towards other Skype equipment.

    Now you can still buy blocks of calls from Skype to the US for 2.1 cents a minute, so if you’re not going to use it that much (I probably won’t) then it’s probably not a deal, but if you do, it’s certainly a deal for the first year, they second year you’ll need to make 1400 minutes to break even.


    If you lived out of the country it might be a deal, but there might be better ways for international calling if I needed it all the time, I just don’t use it that much. I think I’m still using the original block of $20 worth of minutes I purchased (about $8 of that left since April 2005).

    It’d be great for your kid in college if they had high-speed internet in their room!

    The question is for my trip to Costa Rica, will I have good enough internet connectivity for me to save $15 in calls? I did use Skype to place my hotel reservation for the first few days in Costa Rica it was easy to use and I think pretty cheap a minute to use it.

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    Written By: Gary on November 30, 2006 35 Comments

    So I was watching television the other day and I knew the picture looked a little dim. I use a computer projector for my TV so I use the wall as my screen (it’s about 100 inches diagonally) and it’s great for movies and regular TV. So I checked the hours for the bulb and it was supposed to be good for another 350 hours but then it abruptly died that night.

    My intent when I bought the projector a few years ago was to keep it until it died and replace it with a much brighter one with more features once I used up the bulb (bulbs are about $300). Projectors drop significantly in price all the time. For example, the cheapest Epson projector 5 years ago was in the $2200 range and now a significantly brighter model (possibly with a higher resolution) is now $675-ish (those are education prices and I’d have to pay more). But I don’t want the comparable model, I want the deluxe model!

    So now I’ve got a dilemma, do I replace the bulb ($300) or buy the projector I want ($2000 that I wasn’t ready to spend) knowing the prices will keep dropping and features will keep growing?? The answer was the Black Friday ads, I saw multiple projectors for $400 (after rebate) and $500. I settled on the $500 Acer XD1150 DLP Digital Projector (from Staples), no rebate and it was available to ship. It looks like the one in the picture but the one in the picture is the next model up but still looks the same.


    So, for spending $500 for the projector instead of $300 for the bulb, I got a new smaller, lighter (under 5 pounds) in-warranty projector a brighter bulb (1800 lumens vs. 1100 lumens) and it’s smaller. It’s got inputs for composite video (regular video), s-video (like from your DVD player) and SVGA (which doubles as a component video port which supports 480p). It doesn’t have any audio inputs but I run it through the stereo so that’s okay. It came with a remote and a great carrying bad too.

    I like it a lot, even pulling it out of the box was nice. It was packaged excellent everything individually wrapped. It wasn’t the same experience of opening up an Apple product but it made me think of it. I came with a composite video cable, a 15 pin SVGA cable but no S-video cable. It came with a CD (which I haven’t looked at yet) and a 20 page manual. Actually it was a one page manual, the other 19 pages were the same page in 19 other languages. The zoom is limited but it got the picture where I needed it so I was okay with that. It’s also got a digital zoom which is great for watching non-HD shows on the HD channels. The focus was a bit touchy, I may need to look at another one later to see if it’s just mine or if they are all that way. All in all I’m very happy with my new TV!

    I did just notice there is a 45 page on-line manual in English. I’d guess that’s on the CD if I had put it in…

    Written By: Gary on November 18, 2006 One Comment

    So I’m eating at the new Olga’s in Allen Park (Michigan) and I just went to plug my laptop into my cell phone to check my e-mail and the WiFi network “Olgas” popped up! And voila, free WiFi! And to think I thought I was afraid I going to get a crappy signal in the not-near-the-window spot where they put me.

    FYI, it’s totally dead here and I got a great parking spot. Is there a football game or something on?!?

    Written By: Gary on October 14, 2006 No Comment

    Freewifi1006So I took a survey and they gave me this code from the results of a survey, but it appears gave the same code to everyone (and it doesn’t require any registration). So really, it’s just free WiFi for me and I’m showing you my coupon (I’m not recommending you actually use it).

    Locations include (but not limited to) Avis, Barnes & Noble, Caribou Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, The UPS Store and a lot of airports. Check the web site for more locations. The original (much larger) coupon says it does not include their McDonald’s locations (but I haven’t tried yet).

    I’m at B & N and there is a flyer that says you can get WiFi for as low as $1.99 if you are a Yahoo DSL subscriber, but I couldn’t find any info at their site related to that but I did find this. Seems like a great deal if you have them as your service provider!

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    Written By: Gary on October 12, 2006 No Comment

    GooglemapstreoSo they finally released Google Maps for Treo so I can run it on my SPrint Treo 700p. With this application I can pull up Google Maps from an application, not just via the web! This means I can zoom, get directions, see satellite views, get very cool driving directions, find local businesses, see traffic patterns (this is a little hard to decipher) all while dragging the map around with my stylus. Very cool!

    It’s been out for some other handhelds but it never ran on mine. It’s pretty zippy with the Sprint EVDO speed. It’s pretty big, it weighs in at 423k. It seems to do a good job caching the maps, I wonder how it runs on the slower models and slower networks…


    You can down load it directly to your Palm (and other handhelds) from http://www.google.com/gmm

    It’s missing two features:

  • The ability to look an address up from your address book.
  • The ability to add a local business that you find to your address book.
  • It’d be nice if I could look up the longitude and latitude for an address/location. (Just because)

    From the Google Blog.

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    Written By: Gary on September 30, 2006 3 Comments

    Antennabooster700PSo I’ve got my Treo 700p hooked up to my PowerBook and I use it as a wireless modem. It works great when I get good reception, this leads to the questions how do I get a faster (stronger) signal. Someone recommended this “Freedom Antenna” external antenna . Which works great!!! It snaps into an antenna connectior on the back of the phone and it’s ready to go! It’s got suction cups to stick it to a window and a little pedestal to set it on a table (so far I haven’t gotten any better reception when sticking it to a window). It probably increases my plain old phone signal too…

    Download speed is generally excellent! Somethings it’s only great, but it’s never crappy (if it’s slow I just turn the antenna a little and it generally gets way better). It was pricey, $69.99, but I see it’s $10 lower now. It only took a few days to ship, I wish I had purchased it before my trip up north…

    Th only thing this thing needs is some kind of carrying case, I’m afraid of screwing up the wired connections for it. FYI, they make it for the other Treos and other kinds of wireless phone devices (see below).


    Geeky Info – I’m generally getting 450-580 kbps on the download speed tests. Sometimes more (up to 700 kbps, but I got low 800s once), sometimes less but still greater than 300 kbps. It helps upload a little but not much.

    Heres the thing: It helps best in low signal situations. If you’ve got a great signal, it doesn’t help much. But if you’ve got a great signal, why would you buy it?

    Originally I tried using the phone as a modem via bluetooth (intermittent connections at best) but I decided running with it wired was the best solution. So I tried a program called USBmodem which supports USB connections (and bluetooth, but still not as well as wired). I think the 700p is still pretty buggy with the bluetooth.

    They have separate models for the Treo 700w, 650, 600, and 700wx (but I’m guessing they’re all the same adaptor cable). I see they also have it for sale with: Merlin S620 and S720; Novaltel v620 and v640; Audiovox PPC6700 and PPC6600; Samsung SCH-i730; Verizon XV6700; Sprint PPC-6601.

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    Written By: Gary on September 26, 2006 3 Comments

    So I had some of the best Coca-Cola* yesterday at Pangea’s Pizza in Traverse City. It was just extra tasty, I’m not sure why. And not only was it served in fancy old Coca-Cola glasses it was served by the charming Rachel** who attended to all my cuisine related needs. That, a slice of pepperoni pizza, some on-line access and I was all set. I was hoping for more dead animals on my pizza but I would have had to order a whole pizza.

    I mentioned WiFi availability earlier today: I could see a few local access points from inside the restaurant (none of which I think were Pangea’s) but eventually I’d lose the signal, the same if I hooked up with my cell phone. Not sure why. Probably something with all the pleasantness radiating from Rachel was interfering with my digital*** reception.


    * – In case you were wondering the best Coca-Cola I ever had was at the Chicago Aquarium in February of 2002. This is fountain Coca-Cola, in the bottles it’s generally the same, unless it’s in the glass bottles where it’s extra delicious.

    ** – I’m thinking Rachel was spelled slightly differently (sorry).

    *** – Pleasantness is a full spectrum analog signal in case you didn’t know. It’s supposed to overwhelm everything.

    Written By: Gary on September 26, 2006 No Comment

    So I’m up north in Michigan at Lake Leelanau / Sutton’s Bay (top left of the Lower Peninsula). I’ve been around here and Traverse city the past few days. I’ve noticed the smaller towns are more often than not to have WiFi you pay for. Lot of free places in Traverse City but I can connect my cell phone to my PowerBook and get pretty good speed (EVDO), but it the rest of the area I’m roaming. I noticed a few were inexpensive to pay for, but I think they’d be better if you were in that town for a week (or the summer) and it’d be great deal. I did notice one of the networks gave me five free minutes, which was enough to sync my mail and check a few web pages.

    The big bonus is my Aunt’s brother lives less than a mile away and I can stop by his driveway to sync my mail (getting new mail and sending mail that I composed off-line) and post any blog entries I’ve written off-line with my blog client (Ecto). It’s definitely not hi-tech but I’m surviving….

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    Written By: Gary on September 24, 2006 No Comment

    Usbcell AAPowerbook Charging Usbcell-72DpiA UK company called USBcell is selling AA batteries that can be recharged via your computer’s USB port. How cool is that? For me it’s perfect. For one, I never go anywhere without my laptop so if some of my devices (sound machine, speakers, flashlight, PDA keyboard, sound canceling headphones) need a recharge I’d be all set!
    The problem is they are only for sale in the UK and at 12.99 pounds for a pair ($24.70) they are still a little pricey. But I need a pair! They aren’t even on e-bay yet…

    Moixa MXAA02 USBCell AA Rechargeable USB Cell Batteries 4 Pack Kit MoixaIn the future they plan to have cell phones, cameras, 9v and AAA USB rechargeable devices.

    UPDATE: The sell these USBcell batterieson Amazon now.

    Written By: Gary on September 12, 2006 3 Comments

    The new iPods have brighter screens and up to 80 GB hard drives (with a 60% brighter screen). It’s also set to play more games these days too (I’d like a nice Scrabble).

    The new redesigned Nano now goes up to 8 GB!!! I think the nano looks more like the old minis but smaller.

    I’m really thinking I might need me one of these. Mine doesn’t have the video and I’ve been thinking that might be a nice feature. At $349 for 80 GB that’s a nice price (I think I paid $599 for the 60 GB when they first came out). Usually these are about 5% cheaper for education employees but I’m not seeing the discount :(

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    Written By: Gary on September 4, 2006 One Comment

    For a while my local Burger King had WiFi. Then it only worked if I tweaked with the TCP/IP settings. Then it was intermittent. Eventually it died and I had to use the wired port (or my Airport Express adaptor) and that pretty much died. I can honestly say I’ve eaten here less since then. I mean if I gotta be WiFi-less or mess with my phone as a modem I can go anywhere, right?

    Today I popped in for a quick snack. Wasn’t 100% sure if I was going to hook up the modem but I knew I wanted to type a few things. I opened my laptop and got the wonderful message “Do you want to join the network ‘Burger King’?”. I love WiFi….


    (I think it’s gone again)

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    Written By: Gary on August 26, 2006 3 Comments

    So Apple has a battery recall going on right now for some of the 12 & 15 inch Powerbooks and iBooks. I qualify for two and it’s a relatively easy process. I’ll tell you the four problems with it:

  • The font size on the battery is about 3 pt, you need a magnifying glass or take a digital picture and zoom in.
  • When it asks for your county it’s county, not country.
  • The confimation e-mail I got didn’t mention two batteries, I’d have been happier if there was a good web or e-mail confirmation that listed my name, address and all the serial numbers.
  • I’m surprised that I didn’t get a warning to stop using the batteries immediately as part of the process.

    I’ve got an older third battery at work that I don’t think I ever disposed of, I’m hoping that might qualify too :)

  • Written By: Gary on July 4, 2006 No Comment

    Bluetoothlogo2So I love my iPod but I hate the cords (the same goes for the cell phone). It needs bluetooth! It’s be better for the car (if the stereo from car had it) and it’d be better for walking, running, rollerblading, etc. I know people make some adaptors but Apple is such a BT supporter it really needs to be integrated (you could even sync via BT if you wanted).


    Now BlueTooth is not as universal as it really should be so they need a way for companies to add some firmware to make it more compatible (who isn’t going to add a drive for the best selling iPod?)

    And this is how I want it to work/look (be sure to roll your mouse over the image). And if we’re adding video, I want a 160 GB version!

    Written By: Gary on June 27, 2006 2 Comments

    So apple just released a new 10.4.7 update to Tiger. The biggest things that excite me are:

    Bluetooth file transfers, pairing and connecting to a Bluetooth mouse, and syncing to mobile phones

    I’m really hoping this helps with Syncing to my new Sprint Treo 700p. More info at Apple (and more detailed info here).

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