IN·ovation

Technology that helps us… Technology that Wows us!

Archive for April, 2006

Listening to your iPod in your Car

Posted by kbaggs on April 29, 2006

I have been asked by a few people to share on how to listen to their iPod through their car stereo system. There are a few methods of doing this. The most common is connecting your iPod to an FM transmitter and listening to your iPod via the radio. There are 2 products that I am familiar with that do this. The iTrip by Griffin Technology was one of the first. They have since come out with several versions, including one that supports the Nano. The iTrip sells for about $30 US.

The unit that I use is the Sonnet PodFreq. I was told it had a stronger transmitter. I like 2 things about this unit. First, the signal strenght is excellent. I have never had to search for multiple channels to get this to work. Even if you get into an area, where there is a lot of signal cross over, you can extend the antenna and get a stronger connection. The second reason that I chose this unit was because of their partership with Proclip USA, an auto specific bracket company. I ordered the bracket for my vehicle and now I have a permanent place to sit my iPod when I am in the car. It also comes with a charger for the iPod while it is in the car. They have a unit for the Nano. The PodFreq sells for about $100 US.

Both the above units are FM transmitters. The next way of connecting your iPod is to hard wire it to your car stereo. There are 2 ways of doing this. Some car stereos today have an 3.5 mm stereo jack for aux. input. You can simply buy a cable with the 3.5 mm jack at both ends and plug one end into your iPod and the other into the jack on your stereo. The sound quality is a little better, and you don’t have to worry about FM signal reception.

The other way to hard wire your sytem into the car stereo is to buy and adapter that plugs into the CD changer plug in the back of the car stereo and connects to the iPod via the iPod dock. For sound quality, this is by far the best solution. However, you get what you pay for as this is also close to $200. The most available product I have seen is the iPod2Car from Peripheral Electronics. This system is available from BestBuy or Futureshop. Note, this installation is not for the general population.

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Why didn’t I think of that?

Posted by kbaggs on April 26, 2006


Have you ever been to a bar and played the on-screen trivia game against others in the bar? Now you can play these same games at home. Zapit games has come out with Game Wave. It is a game controller that supports up to 6 remote contols. It comes with 25 hours of trivia questions and scores are based on how fast you answer and…of course, answering correctly. Pricing is about $130 and you can order direct from Zapit or get it at TOYS ‘R’ US or Mastermind Games. There are 7 other games available for about $30 each.

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Could this beat the iPod?

Posted by kbaggs on April 26, 2006


Samsung has realeased their new YP-Z5 MP3 player. Several reviews have stated “this could be the one” to take a bite out of the iPod market share. The unit comes in 1, 2 or 4-GB versions similar to the Nano. But it has a bigger screen of 1.82 inches. It has 35 hours of battery life which is about 2X the Nano. It supports the Microsoft DRM so that means you have numerous music sites to download from.

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Use Skype without a PC

Posted by kbaggs on April 20, 2006


I am a big fan of Skype. Who wouldn’t be, free phone calls anywhere in the world. Check out my Skype-me icon on top right.

Netgear has introduced a new phone that is Skype compatible and you don’t need a PC to use it. This is the first time I have seen this. There are a lot of Skype compatible phones, but they all plug into PC’s in order to work. This phone can be use anywhere there is WiFi access; like Starbucks or Second Cup for example. You can receive or make phone calls to anyone on your contact list for free.

The phone is coming soon, and you can Pre-order Phone Here

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Logitech Wireless, Bluetooth iPod headphones

Posted by kbaggs on April 16, 2006


I recently had a chance to try out the Logitech wireless, bluetooth, iPod headphones. They are the perfect match for the iPod. They have a small tranceiver that plugs into the top of your iPod. (note 5th generation and Video iPods will not work if they have the output plug at the bottom). The reception works up to about 30 feet. On the headphones you can control volume, song track forward or back, play and pause…and all without any wires to get in your way.

Our daughter gave them a try and now I may never see them again. She wandered all over the house and kept yelling out…”I can still hear the song!”

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Changing cell phones

Posted by kbaggs on April 15, 2006


Are you thinking about changing to a new cell phone? Does the idea of spending hours tranferring your contacts over to the new phone reason enough not to get that new cell phone. Spark Technology has a solution with their CellStik.

This device looks like a USB memory stick. It has a USB connection at one end, and a phone specific connector at the other. You connect the stick to your phone and it automatically downloads all of your contacts onto the stick. Then you plug the stick into your computer and upload. The bonus, is that the software on the PC allows you to enter and edit your contacts using a full size keyboard. When you’re ready to get the new phone, you just reverse the process above to load up your phone. (note, if you stay with the same phone manufacturer you can use the same CellStik. If you change, you will need 2).

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Apple Boot Camp

Posted by kbaggs on April 11, 2006

About a month ago PCMag journalist John C. Dvorak said that Apple would replace their OS with Windows. It created quite a commotion in the blogsphere. When reporters asked Apple store employees if Macs would ever run Windows. The usual reply was when pigs can fly and when Hell freezes over.

Well as of a few days ago we have airborne swine and it’s pretty frosty in Hades. Apple released Boot Camp. This software allows Intel based Macs to run Windows XP. Lot’s of speculation about why Apple would do this. The fact that Apples stock went up almost 10% over the proceeding 2 days would indicate that this is a good thing for Apple.

Now John wasn’t completely right as they are not throwing away OS X. But the fact that you can now run Windows on Macs raises some interesting questions. For example, say someone really liked the Mac user interface, but just had to run some Windows application for work. Now they don’t have to use a PC any longer. There is also talk about the soon to be released Intel Conrow dual core chips that will allow true dual processing. Think of it like using the alt-tab to switch between OS X and Windows XP on a Mac. Each having their own dedicated processor. A company called Parallels allows this to happen right now. There is even word that Microsoft is going to revamp their virtual Windows software to take advantage of the new x86 based Intel processors.

It’s going to be a very interesting year for Apple.

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What is Web 2.0, Part II

Posted by kbaggs on April 8, 2006

This post will cover the second part of What is Web 2.0. The rich user interface. I believe the first wide user experience to this was the new Google maps. These maps use a programming language called AJAX. Which is a combination of Java Scripts and XML. The key point about AJAX is that you no longer need to reload the whole page, each time something changes. Previously, on MapQuest for example, if you wanted to move the map, you had to reload the whole page, which can take time. With Google maps, you simply grab the map and move it. AJAX is quickly becoming the standard for web development. Where it gets really interesting, is that suddendly, you can have a web page act just like an application on your computer. To see more of this technology here are some of the more popular Web 2.0 sites.

Backpack by 37 signals is a project management and todo list tracker.

If you really want to see the power of AJAX, check out Protopage. You can customize a personal homepage by dragging and dropping right on the screen. Give it a try it is remarkable what you can do.

Microsoft has noticed this trend and are developing their Live platform of Web services. They have a long list of services that have been coming out quickly. By using the Web as the platform, development is very fast.There is also another reason for Microsoft’s focus on the Web as a platform. First, there has been speculation for some time that Google is coming out with an online Office platform. The recent purchase of Writely (an online word processor) by Google added to this speculation. Mary J. Foley also speculates on her blog that going to the Web platform also helps Microsoft on the legal front. As there will no longer be issues with what they bundle together.

The other trend you are seeing with Web 2.0 applications is Mashups. The unique characteristic of AJAX is that it is an open language. Because it uses scripts, anyone can look at the source code of an application. Therefore it is easy to take Google Maps and mashup the map with a listing of apartment rentals and create a web site called Housingmaps.com.

So getting back to the original question. What is Web 2.0. It is open source, coopetition, cooperation, social networking. And to coin a popular description of Web 2.0 it is Folksonomy!

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What is Web 2.0

Posted by kbaggs on April 5, 2006

There have been several articles written about Web 2.0. Many have asked how can there be a Web 2.0 if there was no Web 1.0. Shel Israel (co-author of Naked Conversations) asks the question. “Is it already too late to rename Web 2.0?” This post is what I believe Web 2.0 is about.

I believe it is evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Web 2.0 is comprise of 2 elements. Social Networking and a Rich User Experience. This post will cover Social Networking.

Social Networking really got attention with the creation of the Friendster network. This started a community where entry was by invitation only. It grew quickly and today has posted more than 27 million members. Friendster-like sites began to grow. LinkedIn, was the professional or job hunting site. Recently Facebook, for the students. Of course the most well known site is My Space. All of these site share the same thing. Like people, connected via the web, exchanging thoughts, files, photos, music…etc.

This social networking phenomena was continued with Wikipedia. Imagine walking into Encylopedia Brittanica and telling them you didn’t need them anymore. That you were going to start a web site, that would allow everyone to add or edit information and create a better, bigger online encyclopedia. Completely moderated and edited by volunteers from around the world. I’m sure the laughter would have been deafening. But here we are today, with over 1 million articles in English, (there are 36 other languages). Anything you need to know is there. If you know more about the topic, then go ahead and add it.

As the social networking spread Blogs were created. Blogs have become more than just daily journals. CEO’s are blogging at our company SYNNEX, Intel, General Motors or the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. They give insight into the people that was not previously available to the press.

In the last 6 months, social networking has really taken off. A photo sharing service, was nothing new on the Web until Flickr came along. They took social to a whole new meaning. You could share your photos with people you knew, or the World Wide Web! They also started adding tags. You could use these tags to organize your pictures. Then you could go out and use these tags to search the archives to see if anyone else had the same tags, and what their pictures were.

Now take that same concept above and apply it to Bookmarks and you have del.icio.us. Post your bookmarks, then pick one and see what other people have bookmarked with the same topic. See what’s popular. And again, tag to your heart’s content.

In less than a year one site had sprung up as the people’s news. That is Digg. Taking a page from Wikipedia, Digg lists news stories posted by users. Then users “digg” the story. The more Diggs then a higher rating is given on the site. At the end of the week the hosts post a Podcast on the top stories.

Every one of these sites has one thing in common. The user. The user is creating the content and deciding what is right and wrong. But not a single user can change the content for long if it is not correct. Someone said about open source programming code “with many eyes, the bugs are shallow”.

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Bike Hoist

Posted by kbaggs on April 2, 2006

This device is on the low end of the technology spectrum. However, I have found these bike hoists to be great for storing bikes in the garage. It keeps them out of the way until you need them. It is simple enough to use. Our 10 year old can easily get her bike down. Best of all, no more dents in the cars due to bikes falling over.

I got mine on eBay. Just search under Bike Hoist. There are 3-4 places to get them. I think it worked out to about $35 each with currency and duty.

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