Belkin BZ103050vTVL Mini Surge Protector w/ USB

May 23, 2008

Belkin BZ103050vTVL Mini Surge Protector w/ USB
I had this conversation in chat this morning…

He wouldn’t shut up about it, but I couldn’t get him to bother to write it all up for a review, either.

So, by the miracle of chat transcripts, here’s more-or-less a guest review — the hard way…

heh… just got this…

dude. it’s sweet

3 surge protected outlets and 2 usb ports

i shoulda bought two… 1 for travel and 1 for the imac

this belkin surge protector is brilliant… the 3 prongs can rotate 360 degrees to get you into pretty much any wall outlet configuration

bbiam. gotta shut this off so i can plug the protector in

absolutely brilliant… a usb charging hub and a surge protector…. with a lifetime warranty and will cover up to $75000 if it fails.

i shoulda bought 3… 2 for me, 1 for you

this is blog-able.

there are a number of belkin products i don’t like, but this one seems hard to **** up and if it does it’s job… i’ll be very happy.

damn. i am going to have to get another one.

just thinking back to that last trip and how much of a pain in the ass it was just to find an outlet… let alone find one where i could plug my phone and laptop and the cradle in all at once

i like the 2 usb ports… b/c i won’t have to carry around a usb brick for the phone or an ipod

Sounds pretty nifty, actually. Who knows, maybe he’ll actually get me one…

Belkin BZ103050vTVL Mini Surge Protector w/ USB

How to kill your iPhone with the wrong case

May 15, 2008

iPhone Proximity Sensor
A lot of the magic of the iPhone is that things just work. Intuitively. A great example is during a call — when you bring the phone to your ear, the touch screen and display shut off automatically, to keep you from hanging up or dialing with your face. When you pull it away, the screen lights back up and the touch screen is activated again. All automagically.

Of course, that auto-magic has some real technology behind it — there is a little proximity sensor that both emits and detects an infrared beam — during a call, when an object (such as your ear) comes near it (within an inch or so), it reflects the beam back to the detector and shuts down the screen. When the reflection stops, the screen comes back on.

The proximity sensor is hidden under the glass just above the speaker hole — the overly-contrasty image above shows the rough location. You can see the actual sensor on this disassembly photo from iFixit.

Amazingly, nearly a year after the introduction of the iPhone, there are still a lot of cases being sold (even in places you think would know better) that cover up the proximity sensor with opaque material. Put one of these on your iPhone, and you too can dial with your face, hang up with your cheek, and get frustrated by not being able to punch in digits during a call.

Worse, there are more than a few rumors out there that if you leave the proximity sensor covered long enough, it can “stick” and just fail to work altogether — even if you take the cover off. If it sticks in the “screen off” position, you’re done until you get your phone repaired.

The moral of the story is be careful of your iPhone case — if you try a new case, double-check that the proximity sensor still works as it should, and if not, take it back and get a different one.

If you’ve found a great case that does work properly — or have a case horror story — share it with us in the comments!

Get out of Plaxo free – how to delete your Plaxo account

May 15, 2008

Get out of Plaxo free
Buh bye, Plaxo!

I’ve been a little hesitant about Plaxo from the beginning — I’m a little shy about where I share my information (let alone the information of everybody in my address book), but it looked reasonably trustworthy, and — if it caught on — it could be a good way to be sure I kept my address book in sync with everybody’s changing information.

It worked okay for that at first, despite some problems with their OS X sync program (it would occasionally go nuts and eat up a bunch of CPU).

A couple of days ago, however, I started getting “spam” contact requests from Plaxo — unsolicited requests from people I’ve never heard of wanting me to “friend them up” on Plaxo. Ummm. No thanks — this isn’t my Twitter account, it’s my primary contact info.

The last straw was yesterday — Plaxo was acquired by Comcast. The way Comcast has been thumbing its nose lately at “net neutrality”, the last thing I wanted to do was give them an invitation to do a “deep packet inspection” on the details of everybody in my address book.

The problem, as usual, was finding a link to actually delete my record. Fortunately Twitter came through again, and provided this link, complements of @leolaporte. Thanks Leo!

If you click that link, you’ll be taken to a page to permanently delete your Plaxo account — today anyway. There’s every possibility this address will change, so if you’re looking at this a month from now, there’s no guarantees.

In the meantime, however, if you are looking for a way to get out of Plaxo, here’s your chance.

26 tools to make you a better Twitterer

May 12, 2008

One of the things that makes Twitter great is that it’s a “classic” open internet application — a fairly straightforward application with an API that allows other creative people to build enhancements on top of it.

The following list includes some of my favorite enhancements, tools and mashups to make Twitter go that extra mile.

Do you have any favorites that I missed? Share them with us in the comments below!

Twitter Clients & Tweeting Tools

  • Twhirl – Multi-functional desktop client for Windows, Mac & Linux
  • Hahlo 3 – Enormously cool web client for iPhones
  • TwitBin – Twitter as a Firefox Plugin
  • TwitterFone – Dictate your tweets by phone
  • Autopostr – Automatically tweet new Flickr posts
  • Twitsay – Send voice recordings to Twitter
  • TweetLater – Tweet to the future.
  • TweetAhead – Another scheduled tweeting service.
  • Tweetburner – URL Shortener that tracks clickthroughs
  • DM Deleter – Bulk delete your direct messages
  • Jott – Phone in tweets via Jott.
  • TwitterReply – Worried about missing replies? TwitterReply will mail them all to you.

Twitter Visualization Tools

  • TweetWheel – Shows the relationships between everyone you follow
  • TwitterVision – Twitter and Google Earth Mashup
  • Twistori – A unique and artistic mashup; perhaps not terribly useful, but very cool
  • Twitterholic – Leaderboard of the “Most Followed” Twitterers
  • TwitEarth – Planetary Twitter Visualization
  • TweetStats – Graph your Twitter Stats

Twitter Search Tools

Tools for dealing with Twiter Annoyances

  • TwitterSnooze – Give annoying friends a “time out”
  • TwerpScan – Check your followers (and people you’re following) for spammers and other parasites.

Twitter Pride

Cup of Brown Joy – Elemental

May 9, 2008

Tea inspires some seriously strange sentiments at times, but seldom much stranger than this…

Alabama 3 – Hits and Exit Wounds

May 7, 2008

Alabama 3 - Hits and Exit Wounds
Let’s face it — “Greatest Hits” albums from bands you like tend to suck. It’s all stuff you’ve heard before, out of the context in which you’re used to hearing it.

In fact, when I first heard that Alabama 3 was releasing a “Greatest Hits” album, I was more than a little bit snarky about the whole thing over at Free A3.

However, being the fanboy I so obviously am, I still had to get it. And frankly, I ended up a bit surprised.

Yes, I’ve heard it all before, even the “uncollected” bits like “SKA’D for Live”, which they did with Orbital for the movie SW9 (and of which I am very fond).
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Five things you have to do before you get Twitter

May 5, 2008

Like most everyone who uses Twitter, I seem to be totally unable to make non-users understand how it’s useful.

I’ve finally figured out that this is because Twitter is all about interests — once you follow (and are followed by) a base number of users who share your interests, you start to see the magic happen — you learn about new things that are important to you as they happen (because the people you are following are twittering about them), and you have people who can offer you advice and talk to you about the things that are important to you, because the people who are following you share your interests.

But when you first sign up for Twitter, it seems to be impossible to see how to get from point a (following one or two people, not being followed by anyone) to point b (having Twitter as a useful tool).

I’ve finally decided that there are five things new users have to do before Twitter becomes useful to them, and they can start to “get it”:

  1. Follow at least 50 people who share some of your interests.
    Twitter is all about sharing interests. Search on keywords at Tweetscan to find people posting about things that interest you, and start following them.
  2. Get at least 50 followers who share some of your interests.
    You get followers who share your interests by posting tweets related to your interest — even if nobody is paying attention at first. When you follow new people, many of them will check your recent tweets to see if you’re talking about things that interest them, and if you are, they are likely to follow you back.
  3. Reply to people you follow.
    Even if the people you follow don’t follow you, they will receive replies that include @username (where username is their username). Don’t be a pest, but if you have something to contribute, or can answer a question, or even would like a clarification, post a reply. If you’re participating in the conversation, more people who share that interest will follow you.
  4. Tweet regularly.
    Again, don’t be a pest, but do try to tweet at least a few times a day. Nobody will follow (and many will unfollow) users who haven’t tweeted in a month and a half.
  5. Use a desktop Twitter client.
    It’s a lot easier to pay attention to your twitterstream (or ignore it when you need to) if you use a decent desktop application. Good clients will also make it a lot easier to reply, direct message, view your replies, post pictures, etc. I recommend Twhirl. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and provides lots of ways to make using Twitter easier.

Do you have any tips on how to make Twitter more useful? Share them with us in the comments!!

(And don’t forget to follow me!)

AudialHub – Universal Audio Converter for Mac

May 5, 2008

If you ever work with live concert recordings, or various “audiophile” audio, you’ve probably run across the lossless audio format “FLAC”. Apple of course has their own lossless format, “Apple Lossless”, but I’ve been frustrated that there’s been no good way to get from one to the other on OS X. The various applications I’ve tried have been unstable, or demos of a much more expensive package.

Fortunately, now there’s AudialHub — made by Techspansion, the same people who make the awesome VisualHub — the swiss army knife of video format conversion for the Mac.

AudialHub will convert from or to FLAC, Apple Lossless, WMA (Windows Media Audio), 3G (Cellphone Audio), AAC, Ogg Vorbis or MP3 — pretty much everything I’ve ever needed to deal with. It can also burn audio or MP3 CDs.
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