Tag

iPod

Battery Pack In The Freezer: Not A “Cool” Idea

By funny, sarcasm, technology

Oh the perils of technology. Ever think something’s a great idea at the time, and then later on you’re kicking yourself? Yeah, story of my life. I think I killed my digital camera battery. This is a strange story, indeed, but worth a read.

I have a Sony Cyber-shot N1 digital camera. I’ve always had, and probably always will have, Sony digital cameras. They make superb products. Anyway, my last camera had the same proprietary dock port as my current one, meaning the same USB cable should naturally work with both cameras, right? Yeah, you’d think so at least. I misplaced my memory card reader the other day, and so I pulled out the USB cable I still have from my old camera.

As soon as I plugged it in, it killed the battery completely. So, I plugged it into the battery charger, and literally after two minutes the battery was fully charged and operational (which tells me the battery wasn’t drained in all actuality). So anyway, smart one here used the cable again today, thinking it was just an isolated incident, and sure enough it killed the battery again. The only problem this time was that the battery wouldn’t recharge. Why? The battery was already fully charged this time. The charger wouldn’t charge it any further (it’s an aftermarket charger I bought after I lost my factory one), and I therefore couldn’t get the battery working again.

The whole thing about the USB cable killing the battery instantly is strange, I know. But strange or not strange, I needed to take some pictures today for my Downtown Short Pump website. I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I have always heard that lithium ion batteries drain faster in cold environments. This is why many cell phones and iPods, as well as other devices with rechargeable batteries, work for shorter periods of time in the Winter months when used outside. So genius here got what he thought was a bright idea. If the battery won’t charge because it’s already full, why not drain it? And if lithium ion batteries drain quickly in cold conditions, why not stick the battery in the freezer for a bit?

I stuck the thing in the freezer for about an hour. I took it out afterwards and it was cold and covered with condensation. I think it’s shot. Who knows, though, it could have already been done for after using that cable a few times. Why a simple USB cable with no power running through it could affect a battery, or anything else for that matter, is a mystery to me.

Guess I’ll be ordering a generic battery to go with my generic battery charger. Pretty soon I suppose my camera will be generic, as well. It’s about the only Sony brand component left. As much as I like technology, I sure screw a lot of my own electronics up.

Facebook Chat: Feeding The Addiction

By business, opinion, sarcasm, technology

So the release of Facebook Chat is all the buzz this morning, at least from what I can judge by the status updates of my friends. Apparently no one saw it coming. I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks, but didn’t think it would be released for a while.

This is bad news for people like me who are already borderline addicted to Facebook. It’s just like putting a six pack in front of an alcoholic. The temptation is just too great. The interesting thing to note, though, is that Facebook sees this as an AIM-killer. They think that by integrating a chat system into their already intricate social network, users will see it as a one-stop shop for social networking and instant messaging, putting AOL Instant Messenger on the back burner. I don’t know about that.

Personally, I’ve had an AIM screen name for almost ten years. Most people I know have had theirs for years and years, too. I don’t think you’re going to see an abandonment of any grand scale anytime soon, if ever. It’s not so much that people are loyal to products like AIM, it’s their familiarity factor and the average computer user’s resistance to dramatic change in the technology realm that will ultimately save AIM’s bottom line.

Then again, I don’t use the AIM client itself, but rather a Mac program called Adium. I’ve always been surprised that AIM allows other programs to use its network, because by doing so there’s no banner ad or anything like there is on the actual AIM program and consequently no money in the pockets of AOL. But of course I applaud them for having such an open source platform of sorts.

At any rate, it’s a nice new feature, but Facebook’s claim that it’ll take over AIM is about as threatening as Microsoft’s claim two years ago that the Zune would be an iPod killer. And we all know how that one turned out. I’m still laughing at you two years later, Bill Gates.

Music Monday: Scandal – “Goodbye To You”

By music

So next to mid-’90s music, I really have a thing for ’80s stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of it lately for some reason. I have almost 300 ’80s songs on my iPod from various artists (I know that sounds like a lot of ’80s, but that’s out of about 3,200 total songs I have from all eras and genres).

Anyway, one of my favorites is one of the biggest hits from the band Scandal, “Goodbye To You.” If I could go back to that decade and had the opportunity, I’d date the lead singer, Patty Smyth, in a heartbeat. You can’t deny she’s pretty attractive in this video. She’s 50 years old now, but still kicking (I know, I know, 50 isn’t that old at all, but you know what I’m saying; she’s still making music). She’s had a few new songs come out in the past couple of years and does shows with the band, too. Check out the video:

 

Is Apple Considering iTunes Subscriptions?

By Uncategorized

Apparently, Apple may be considering a service that allows unlimited iTunes Store downloads for a year in exchange for a higher initial purchase price on future iPods and iPhones. It has been dubbed “Comes With Music.” However, this means that Apple would go against its long-standing view that music should not be purchased permanently and not merely rented as many other music services do. I don’t know quite where I stand with this yet. It’s an interesting concept. Here’s the article, via AppleInsider.

A longtime opponent of subscription music services, Apple is reportedly exploring the possibility of charging extra for iPhones and iPods in exchange for unlimited iTunes Store access. Allegedly tipped off by senior officials close to the matter, the Financial Times suggests that Apple is in talks with music labels to follow an approach first pioneered by Nokia and Universal Music Group.

Dubbed Comes With Music, the upcoming service has customers pay more for a cellphone in return for as many a la carte music downloads as the customer likes over the course of a year. In this implementation, customers can either renew a subscription once it expires or else keep the tracks they’ve downloaded, even if they switch to competing phones or music services. This would eliminate common reservations about subscription services whose copy protection automatically invalidates downloaded tracks as soon as the subscription ends. Apple chief Steve Jobs famously attacked this latter concept as “renting music” upon introducing the iTunes Music Store in 2003.

Apple is said to be entertaining the notion of a similar plan to spur sales for iPhones and iPods. However, the electronics giant is claimed by a pair of executives to have hit a roadblock through its early insistence on low prices. While Nokia already plans to charge $80 for its year-long music giveaway, its newest opponent in the cellphone market is only willing to offer $20 at present — a gap that may result in no deal at all if no labels agree to the strategy. “It’s who blinks first,” says one of the claimed sources, “and whether or not anyone does blink.”

Apple may nonetheless be willing to budge. Studies purportedly conducted about the subject have shown that many would be willing to spend $100 for unlimited access throughout the device’s entire useful lifespan. Whether these studies were conducted by Apple or music industry analysts is unknown. More surprising still are assertions that Apple is willing to consider a conventional subscription model with a monthly fee, though the details of any proposals are unclear. The Times claims that such a service would require an iPhone due to the monthly billing structure and that most industry discussions revolve around unlimited access to songs with permanent downloads for 40-50 of those songs. The same research conducted for a Comes With Music-style premium also suggests that customers would be willing to pay between $7 and $8 per month for a subscription. Apple has declined comment on the report.

New High Tech Fitness Equipment At The Shady Grove YMCA

By Uncategorized

So I’ve been working out every day lately at the Shady Grove YMCA, but just this morning noticed a lot of new technology in place. There is a set of new Life Fitness treadmills (I don’t know how long they’ve been there, but not too long) that have interactive color touch screens complete with a view of how far you’ve run that can be shown as a track, mountain hike, or nature trail, a virtual personal trainer, and an interface for your iPod (you can plug your iPod into the docking cable and you can scroll through your playlists on the treadmill screen!). I keep my USB flash drive on my keyring, so I was also able to insert that into the provided slot at the end of my workout and it saved my workout information. Nifty!

Next, I went up front to discover three new interactive stationary bikes by a new start up company called Expresso Fitness. These bikes allow you to sign in to track your progress and then select a myriad of different road courses of various levels, change gears on screen, and you’re given a pacer to keep up with, all on a big 17 inch color screen. I was much more motivated to go faster and farther by being on a virtual course and having other bikers to keep up with on screen than I would have been if it was just me on a traditional stationary bike. This is a very cool concept and I think this company will do very, very well in the fitness industry as they grow and expand.

These are some great new fitness technologies and it’s really cool that the YMCA has invested in them to bring a new dimension to working out.

AT&T To Bring Free Wi-Fi To Starbucks And Beyond!

By Uncategorized

This is awesome news in so many ways. AT&T plans to start implementing wi-fi networks at more than 7,000 company-run Starbucks locations nationwide (that’s pretty much all of them except in certain locations, such as Barnes & Noble, for example). The best part? It’s going to be free! If you have a Starbucks card, you will be allowed two hours of free, unrestricted access per day to the network. For anything beyond that, there’s a very nominal fee. If you’re an AT&T Broadband customer, you’ll have unlimited free access. The networks will be installed in the Spring in many markets, and all locations should have networks by the end of the year.

This is somewhat of a different topic, but it has been reported that AT&T has snapped up part of the 700 MHz wireless spectrum put on the auction block by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and plans to offer nationwide long-range wi-fi that will most likely be free for iPhone users (personal note: this would be incredible) and only ten to twenty dollars per month for iPod Touch users and computer users who do not have any kind of AT&T service plan. This makes complete sense and leads me and many other people to believe that we will never see the 3G-equipped iPhone that has long been rumored to come out this year. The chips used in 3G phones use too much power to be useful in a device such as the iPhone. Plus, this way there will be no update to the iPhone necessary and last year’s purchases, myself included, won’t be left out in the cold with an incompatible device. The profits for both AT&T and Apple would be enormous if iPod Touch owners embraced the service, and really, why wouldn’t they? The device becomes twice as useful in more places with constant connectivity to a wi-fi network, as opposed to just at home.

I’m really excited about the prospect of these plans being implemented!

Here are the links to articles on both planned AT&T services:

AT&T’s Starbucks Wi-Fi Networks

AT&T’s Nationwide Wi-Fi Network

Macworld 2008 Keynote – New Hardware/Software: My Review

By Uncategorized

Apple CEO Steve Jobs just finished his keynote at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple released all sorts of exciting new things. I watched a video stream of it online. Here are my takes on what was released:

First up was Time Capsule. It’s an AirPort Extreme base station (wireless N router) that also backs up your computer’s contents wirelessly. It comes in 500 GB and 1 TB versions.

Next up was iTunes Movie Rentals. This was expected. All major movie studios are on board to offer newly released movies for $3.99 and older movies for only $2.99. The movie is yours for 30 days, but once you start watching it you have 24 hours to finish. Downloads take only about 30 seconds over broadband and are available in DVD quality or HD for $1 more.

iPhone and iPod Touch software updates were next. The Google Maps feature on the iPhone finally has real-time GPS using cellular triangulation (finds the three closest cell towers to you and determines your position pretty accurately). You can now send text messages to multiple people at the same time, too. It’s about time. Web clips now let you make applications out of websites you visit that are already optimized for iPhone (for example, I use the iPhone versions of Facebook and Fandango). You can now put these and any number of other websites on the home screen. You can also now have multiple home screens and reorder your icons in any way you desire. Nice move, Apple. The only thing missing? With all these cool features, I still cant send or receive multimedia (picture/video) messages? Strange, no? The iPod Touch is finally receiving what iPhones already have: Mail, Stocks, Notes, and Weather applications. It should have had these in the first place, but Apple is charging $20 for them. Why?

Apple TV saw a major upgrade. Not the hardware itself, but a huge software update. You can now buy music, watch YouTube videos, rent iTunes movies in full HD, etc. all without a computer. Finally, this once dud of a product in Apple’s otherwise excellent product lineup should see a much more positive consumer response.

Finally, the much rumored MacBook Air was introduced. It’s being dubbed the world’s thinnest notebook, measuring only 0.76 inches thin. Incredible. It comes in an 80 GB 1.8 inch hard drive version (same size drive used in current iPods) or a much faster 64 GB SSD (solid state (flash memory) drive). There’s no optical disk drive, but you can wirelessly install software from other computers on your network. The track pad even has multi-touch just like the iPhone! Very cool. I’m in awe at just how thin, sleek, and beautiful this thing is. I know, I’m a full-fledged Apple geek.

A few things that many people were expected but weren’t announced were a new iPhone model and a Mac notebook docking station similar to the look of the current iMac model.

One thing I don’t understand is Apple’s logic on giving away a big update for the iPhone (as they should) as well as a huge overhaul software-wise for Apple TV, but yet they’re charging $20 for applications that should have originally shipped with the iPod Touch? That makes no sense at all, and I bet the update will become free when people realize how little logic there is in their strategy.

I didn’t think Apple could top last year’s Macworld Expo Keynote (where the iPhone was announced), but I was wrong. Great job, Apple.

Wawa’s Pesky “Mosquito”

By Uncategorized

So I stopped at Wawa on Staples Mill Road Sunday night to get some gas and one of their really good chocolate chip muffins on the way home from VCU. As I stood there pumping gas, I noticed this awful pulsating, high-frequency tone that sounded like it was coming from the gas pumps. I had been listening to my iPod in the library while I studied for a good few hours, so I thought maybe my ears were ringing from prolonged music-listening. So I went inside to get my muffin, and when I came back, I heard it again. I looked around, and sure enough, there were two small white transmitters (pictured) emitting the tone, mounted to the underside of the metal roof over the gas pumps.

What are the purpose of these, you ask? Well a couple of years ago, the owner of a small retail store in the United Kingdom got tired of teenagers loitering around his shop and causing trouble. He realized that people’s ability to hear extremely high-pitched sounds decreases with age, and patented a device that emits an irritating sound that most people over the age of 25 or 30 can’t hear.

Apparently this technology has come “across the pond” as they say, and has landed at the neighborhood Wawa. I’ll be the first to tell you it works. It was so irritating that I don’t think I’ll be back to buy gas there unless I’m trailing in on fumes with no other gas stations in sight. That particular Wawa doesn’t really seem to be a hangout spot like some others I’ve seen, so I don’t really understand the need. The only thing I think they’re accomplishing is losing the business of legitimate, paying customers such as myself.

The relentless cat and mouse game between adults and youth goes on, though. Teenagers have hijacked the tone, turning the sound into a ringtone that can be used to be alerted to phone calls and text messages while in school. Teachers, usually over the age of 23 or 30, can’t hear the tone. Pure genius. I knew of several people who frequently used this tone in high school last year. Ready to take the “are you old” test? here’s the tone. See if you can hear it! Click here.

Haul Out The Holly

By Uncategorized

I love Christmas. I’m about as Christmas crazy as anyone can get. Some refer to me as Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation because of all the lights I string up on the house every year. I have a couple hundred Christmas songs I load onto my iPod every year. But despite how much I love the season, I just don’t think I can take it this early. Beginning this Thursday, XM Satellite Radio will launch its annual contemporary Christmas music channel, Holly, and will play 24/7 Christmas songs for two straight months on up until New Year’s Day. Christmas is coming earlier and earlier every year. At this rate, it’ll be Christmas all year long in a decade or two. Even I get burnt out on holiday music after two months. I have XM. I love XM. I love Christmas music. But I just don’t think I’ll be listening to channel 103 for a month or so until the day after Thanksgiving. Here’s an article from local media website VARTV about the holiday channel.

XM Satellite Radio will kick off the holiday music season on Thursday, November 1 with “Holly: An XM Holiday Channel” on XM channel 103. It’s mainstream holiday music. “Holly blends contemporary holiday music with just a touch of the classics for the perfect mix of Christmases present and memories from Christmases past,” states XM on its website. XM will be adding an additional five channels of holiday music come Monday, November 19 thru Christmas day. To make room for those new channels, XM is putting XM17 (US Country), XM29 (U-Pop), XM80 (The Move), XM90 (Fuego), and XM113 (XM Pops) on hiatus.

A Media Revival

By Uncategorized

Sorry for the big gap in posting, I’ve been extremely busy between college, work, and volunteering at church this past week. I just wanted to give an update about some media-related things I’ve done before that I want to revive in the not-so-distant future.

 The first is my podcast. I had a podcast for a while, entitled “Evolution of Thought,” a show that was co-hosted by my friend Alex Legum. We were actually on a roll, averaging 350+ steady listeners each week. After a while, though, I just let it slip away and recorded the show less and less. They can still be found in the iTunes Music Store, so take a listen if you want. I’m bringing the show back, this time with a new name, new direction, and some exciting new guests that I’ll announce at a later date as they’re confirmed. Anyway, the show is now entitled “Complex Simplicity,” just as my blog is. At first, I thought this would work because it was just a cool name that incorporated an oxymoron, but when I thought about it more, it perfectly describes myself! A simple mind talking about complex issues! But all joking aside, I’m really excited to bring it back bigger and better than ever and really get some interesting topics and guests on. About a month ago, I contacted Jason Paige, the former Program Director for Q94, (WRVQ) who does voiceover work in many of the commercials you hear on the radio in Richmond on any and all stations. He’s the voice you hear in a lot of the nightclub commercials as well as for the King’s Dominion ones. I asked if he would do a voiceover for the music intro I already made. It sounds really professional and I can’t wait to use it. Stay tuned, I’ll post more details about the podcast in the coming days.

Another endeavor I’m aiming for is starting a community newsletter and distributing it freely across the Short Pump area. I actually did this a long time ago back when I was about thirteen years old, and it was called the Glen Allen Observer. I want to bring it back in a much bigger and obviously a much more mature and professional manner. It’s going to be called “Short Pump Panorama,” and I’ll have some advertisements to offset the cost of printing and make a little bit of extra money hopefully. If you’d like to write a column or just a one-time article for it, please let me know- I’d be happy to give you some space in there to share just about anything you want! The newsletter will compliment the website I started last year, (needs to be updated) www.downtownshortpump.com. The site is intended to be a mini Richmond.com of sorts, featuring a shopping guide, restaurant listings, movie times, etc. just in and around the Short Pump area. I’ve gotten one advertiser for the site thus far but plan to grow it in leaps and bounds in the next couple of months. I actually get a lot of traffic to the site because I have free advertising. It’s really a funny story. About two years ago I was driving along Broad Street and noticed www.downtownshortpump.com printed on the Downtown Short Pump entertainment complex sign in front of the movie theater. For some reason, I went to the site when I got home, and noticed it was no longer up. I proceeded to register the name for only eight bucks because the developer, who used the site for promotional purposes, let it expire!

So anyway, that’s what I’m up to lately. Comments? Suggestions? Want to be a guest on the show or write for the newsletter? Let me know!