Archive for the 'Gadgets' Category

The world of da’ blog

Seriously, the one thing that’s impressed me about keeping a little online wine journal and culture blog is that people actually come and read it. I love that people read something and express an opinion. KEEP IT UP. The world is an increasingly small space and I usually discuss this stuff with local friends. It’s cool to get a wider point of view.

Cheers… and remember, once a day, every day, give yourself a treat. 🙂

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iPod Gym

iPod GymNow here’s a timely idea: iPod Gym. Basically, it’s a bunch of downloadable instructional exercise videos that will play on the video iPod. Pretty cool idea… they even have a bunch of exercises for the Swiss ball I bought a while ago that I’ve been using as a computer chair. Cool.

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Review – Fido customer service

Sony Ericsson K750iI’ve posted regarding my need for a new mobile phone… My phone is the only gadget I seem to regularly drop/mistreat in any way. I need a new one. It’s my only phone… I decided long ago that since I work for myself and let’s face it – I like gadgets, a mobile-only existence was for me.

Almost 2 years ago, I did something that I never wanted to do. I signed a contract with my mobile operator (Fido) for a 2-year term… I’ve been with Fido since 1999 or 2000 – a while in these days of no customer loyalty. the reason I signed on the dotted line was that I was an early adopter of their “City Fido” plan. I got in when there were very few restrictions and the monthly cost for unlimited incoming/outgoing calls was $40. By signing a contract, I kept the $40 fee and the lack of restrictions.

Now back to my need for a new phone. It’s my business and personal voice link with the outside world. I need it. With my current phone getting less-than-stellar reception and call quality, I’m getting anxious for a better phone. I phoned Fido up the other day to see if I could add 2 years onto my term, which ends in 3 months in order to get a contract-based price on a phone… No deal. They said that I would have to wait until February to get the deal. “So I have to pay FULL price for a phone I want to use on your network?”, I asked… Not only does their selection of phones lick, but there’s no way I’m going to pay $400 for an already outdated RAZR (their newest offering), when a new model is going to be released in the next couple of months. I asked, “So basically, by saying NO to my contract extension, you’re encouraging me to go online and buy an unlocked cell phone?.. At least that way I can get an up-to-date phone, which will cost me less than one of your outdated ones.” The Fido rep had no reply.

Why do they do this?? I’ve been with them for over 5 years, now I feel I almost have to leave just for the principle of it all… If they would give me a deal on a RAZR or something for the contract-extension rate ($150), I’d do it to tide myself over until I could get something I actually want. No deal. So now I’m cruising sites like EasyCell.ca for an unlocked phone. I love that Sony Ericsson K750i. Sony Ericssons are at the top of my list because of their quality, tech goodies and their flawless synching with my Powerbook’s Address Book and Calendar.

Fido, your customer service sucks.

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Review – DLO HomeDock

DLO HomeDockI finally received the DLO HomeDock that I ordered. I quickly set it up and began to test what it could do.

Using the supplied cables, I was quickly able to hook it into my stereo and lush music filled my apartment. Music sounds good, with 60gb at my disposal… Check. It charges my iPod while it plays the music. Check

My next step was to test out the small, iPod-ish remote. I sat down on my couch and clicked away. Despite some initial fussiness, the remote worked well. There are buttons for power, volume up & down, previous & next track, play/pause, next & previous & next playlist, shuffle, mute, repeat and backlight (on your iPod). To navigate through your music, the best way is still to manually do it on your iPod. Using the remote to find a playlist would call for you to sit there and press either the previous or next playlist buttons repeatedly until your desired one was found… There is also no visual feedback on the control itself, so you have to be able to see the iPod’s screen to recognize album art, song names, etc… That said, if you know what you’re listening to and wish for simple navigation the little infrared remote does a very capable job.

My next test was to try the video out on my TV. This is where I ran into a snag. I hooked it up and tried it with the S-video out cable I had bought… Nothing. I got sound, but no video. I quickly wrote a slightly angry email to DLO complaining about this and asked whether they had tested it before claiming this capability… Now here’s where I point out that I used to work as an IT support guy. I know better than to hurriedly jump to these conclusions… It took a patient reply from the DLO folks to point out that the new iPods have a Video Out setting in the Video menu. After a moment of red-faced embarrassment (a very, very short moment, mind you) I set it to On and tested it. Wow. It looked better than I had hoped. The video out (assuming you have good quality video on your iPod) is TV quality. It looks no different than any show I would normally watch. Definitely impressive. Thumbs up on this.

All in all, I’d give the HomeDock an enthusiastic thumbs up. The only snag I’d like to mention has to do with a $57 (CDN) bill I had to pay upon receiving shipment via UPS. They hadn’t mentioned that customs would tack this onto a shipment from our neighbours to the south… This is definitely something that warrants a note somewhere in the payment process. Maybe I’m naive, but I thought computer-related products (and seeing as I can hook it to my computer as a USB 2.0 docking station for the iPod I think it qualifies) were free from this sort of Duty. Other than this, I’m happy with my new toy. 4.5 out of 5 stars for the HomeDock itself. 1 star for the unexpected price jump.

If you can find one at your local Apple store or a Future Shop/Best Buy to avoid the customs charges, I’d highly recommend giving it a try.

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MMMM…. new cars

Mazda 3 SportLately it’s become apparent to me that driving a 45 year-old convertible in Vancouver during the rainy season isn’t the smartest thing to do. Thus, I’ve begun the quest to lease a new car… This isn’t something I’ve done in quite a while. I used to be fixated with SUV’s, but let’s face it, with the price of gas I’d be NUTS to get one of them. What I’ve decided to do is to get a nice, sporty, slightly utilitarian car… One that won’t use up all of my monthly wine allowance.

I went out with my friend Erin today and made the mistake of test-driving a Mazda 3 GT Sport… Man, what great car for the moolah. Solid, stylish and stinkin’ fast. Screw the Jettas, etc. I want one of these. The payments fit and it’s pretty good on gas. Now I’m just doing a bit more research on them and trying to get some reviews from people who may have one. Anyone out there have anything to say? Valid positive and negative comments will all be appreciated.

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The iPod arriveth

black iPodIt’s finally here. I can stop geeking out. It’s pretty and shiny and black…. heh. The screen looks great. Yadda, yadda, yadda… Lots of writeups out there, so I’ll shut up now.

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Wanted – new phone

Where are the cool phones?I’m rough on mobile phones… I’ll come right out and say it. It’s a wonder my current phone still works. It’s been dropped from heights up to 3 metres and hell, the camera even still works (but is so crappy I never use it). I am starting to get spotty reception at times because of something I’ve knocked loose. Bless you, my little Sony Ericsson T616, you’ve been great, but it’s time for a new and improved you.

OK, I’m going to geek vent here: Why is it that when I have the need and some cash to spend on a new phone that I can’t find a satisfactory one to save my life? My needs are simple: give me a 2 megapixel auto-focus camera with video, some reasonable hard drive/memory storage space, bluetooth and something like a 262k colour screen that isn’t the size of a postage stamp. A few of the phones that have me all excited are the newly announced Motorola RAZR V2, the Sony Ericsson K750i and the Nokia N90. Of course we can’t get any of these here. The Motorola is brand new, so that I can understand. Same with the Nokia, but the Sony Ericsson? It’s been out for months and noone in North America is bringing it in… Of course I’m stuck with Fido for the next while and their phone selection seems aimed at teenagers with no business app needs such as calendar and address book synching or bluetooth. They’re all crap. Hell, I’ve had my phone for 2 years and it’s still up there. Why?

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The iPod cometh

It
It’ almost here. I’ll have it in the morning (I hope). I’m such a geek. Damn you Fedex and your online tracking system! Such a tease.

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A home for my iPod

DLO HomeDock I know… I know. Too many posts about the iPod stuff. Accept it. I can be a bit obsessive. Who isn’t now and then?

First off, if I’m going to order a shiny black iPod, I don’t want all the white crap that comes with it… what is Apple thinking not providing black headphones, USB cables and especially a black docking station?? If I’m shelling out the cash, I want the choice.

OK, so what has me all worked up at the moment is the new DLO HomeDock. As you can see, it’s BLACK. Even more importantly, it adds extras which you’d have to hand even more cash over to Apple to get at home. To quote them, “It includes a 14-function remote control to play your tunes from across the room. It also includes a standard AC plug to power and charge your iPod while docked… The DLO HomeDock is truly a home entertainment center for your iPod.” The DLO HomeDock also connects to your TV via Composite or S-Video so you can even watch the videos on your shiny new iPod…. with a remote. All for $99 USD.

Now where did I put that credit card?

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Come to Daddy

Fedex shipping
Gotta’ love the Fedex online tracking system. I see my black beauty is on its way. 🙂

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