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wireless

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.

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.

Textapalooza

By Uncategorized

I just went to view my cell phone bill online at AT&T. Turns out I used 1,360 text messages last month, incoming and outgoing. Holy cow! I really didn’t realize just how much I text. Fortunately, I saw this coming to some extent and upped my monthly allotment from 250 to unlimited. It’s a good thing, because at $0.15 per message, I’d be looking at an extra $200 this month just for texting.

Everything’s Changing

By Uncategorized

This has been an interesting week thus far. Things are kind of stabilizing. Nothing was ever that wrong, and I appreciate all the comments and Facebook messages (of both concern and praise) I got from my “vent post” this past weekend. Everyone seemed to share my sentiment about the mess up at The Dominion Club. I might have written all of that to let off some steam, but I wasn’t exaggerating how things are at the club, and I’m obviously not the only one by far who feels the way I do.

So anyway, as the post title suggests, I’m in a season of change in my life right now. One obvious change is college. I start classes Friday, and even though I’m living at home, there’s still so much change around me. A few of my really good friends have left this week for their respective colleges away from Richmond, and it’s just weird right now. It’s strange to think that they’re not coming back until Christmas. I feel a little disconnected at the moment not living on campus at VCU, especially after visiting Jen’s dorm and seeing all the bustling activity going on down there, but I know I’m going to meet a lot of cool people who I’ll end up becoming friends with, so it’s not a big deal. I’ve already met some really nice people in just the few times I’ve been on campus.

So I made another change today, hopefully for the better. I switched from Sprint to Verizon. Now I know I’m going to get a bunch of fingers pointed at me if I don’t first make this disclaimer: I know I’ve always told anyone who asked me why I didn’t have Verizon all the reason I didn’t want it (I was happy with Sprint, Verizon has (supposedly) bad customer service, and their phones are slow because of all the software they cram into them), but I don’t think I’m being completely hypocritical by switching. I have plenty of justification for my move. Just about all my friends, those I call and text both a lot and a little, have Verizon. Plus, for some reason, Sprint’s service has degraded a lot lately. I’m not really sure why. You’d think if anything it would get better as they build more towers and improve their network coverage, but who knows. I’ve had it for less than a day as I write this, but already I’ve noticed that I have a very strong signal everywhere I’ve been, including at church, which has notoriously been a really bad dead spot for my old service.

Review of the LG enV:

The new enV by LGThe service is better, sure. But what about the phone? It’s awesome. I got the new model of the enV by LG. The battery performance is far better than my old phone (often I would charge my old Samsung Blade all night and the battery would die after normal use by dinnertime), not to mention it’s just really cool. It has a dual-interface, meaning you can use almost all of its features on the front of the phone without opening it (and frankly you can’t even tell it opens up on first glance), but when you do open it you’re presented with a full “QWERTY” keyboard and crisp widescreen LCD that, believe it or not, comes close to the resolution of my MacBook Pro’s screen. The 2.0 megapixel camera has a very good white balance, and pictures actually look like they were taken on a full-featured digital camera rather than looking like the bright, washed-out pictures most phones’ cameras (including my old Blade) produce. Video quality is better than on many phones, and Verizon’s mobile internet service looks great and runs fast. Email came through almost as fast as over my Comcast broadband at home. Overall, after an afternoon of heavy use, I’d give my new phone 4 1/2 stars out of five.