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Previous Posts

» A Day With Kindle and a Free Kindle Book
» Too Good to Pass Up - Pen Spy Camera $25
» MicroSD Adapters for Cheap - $2 Delivered
» Is this a gadget? The PedEgg rules.
» Samsung Messager vs. Kyocera Lingo -- No Contest
» Intriguing 8GB Insignia Pilot Bluetooth Player - $...
» Almost Gone-- 24" Soyo DYLM24D6 $220 Shipped
» Loving Imageshack's Torrent Service
» Free Standalone File Recovery
» Inoi HV670 DVD/HDD Media Player for $80

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Day With Kindle and a Free Kindle Book

I finally had some time to spend with the Kindle 2 today, and so far I am loving it. Before I get to the positive stuff, I will note the few negatives:

1. I wouldn't mind a reading light built in shooting up from the bottom to avoid reflection or glare.
2. The display is perfect for reading. It is not perfect for navigation or motion. A little surprised it hasn't improved more since the first one.
3. Internet is slooow. Nearly unusable slow.

So with that in mind, the first thing I would say to a fellow owner is to prepend this to every URL you type into the browser: it's a Google mobile proxy or something great like that.

So if you were visiting here, use Google trims the fat and gives it to you in a much easier format for the Kindle's browser. That will save bundles of time.

I haven't sorted out a reading light yet, but I will. It just seems like something could pop into the USB port at the bottom and shoot onto the screen. Still, I am so glad it is a flat, unlit screen. The e-ink looks fake almost, until you get used to it.

I also haven't purchased any books yet. For the moment I am too busy fiddling with the device itself. I did look into what books are available for free, and it turns out there are a lot. Project Gutenberg has a ton of them. The only problem is that they are not formatted the best for the Kindle, having a lot of carriage returns it doesn't need.

I started with Moby Dick by Herman Melville-- I cleaned it up, removing page numbers, HTML formatting, and fixing the chapter heads. I ended up with about a 1MB text file (.txt) that looks great and works great on the Kindle. It keeps track of where you are properly and everything.

So if anyone wants it, it's free, it's a great book anyway, and it's free. Here's 'Moby Dick.txt'

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Too Good to Pass Up - Pen Spy Camera $25

A 4GB 352x288 camera in the body of a working pen for $25.73 delivered? I'll bite. It's like all the promises of the back pages of comic books come to life.

Only this time there's sample video as proof. There is a 640x480 version as well, but the video is awful. Terrible blurring across frames. So I bought this one, as I assume you will too.

It records audio as well, and can record up to 2 hours at a time. The memory can hold something like 12 hours of footage though (~5MB/min, 4GB total). So you are officially either a spy or a pervert now. Good luck.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

MicroSD Adapters for Cheap - $2 Delivered

Photo You can never really have too many USB MicroSD Adapters, they seem to get lost or fail a lot.

Well, one of my favorite websites, Deal Extreme, has them for $2.28 including shipping. They look about as small as they are going to get while keeping a full USB plug.

There’s not a lot else to say, it’s probably a no name brand but I’ve had Kingston’s fail, so whatever.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Is this a gadget? The PedEgg rules.

PedEggThe Pedegg has very little gadget cachet, but I have to say, I am just loving it.

I have used the razor-bladed tools they use in beauty shops for pedicures. They do the job, just extremely slowly, and it's gross watching the sliced meats fall off your heel. I have used the pumice, the rough metal sander types, and the sandpaper style tools.

The PedEgg isn't really that revolutionary, it's essentially a low-profile cheese grater with a reservoir to hold the resulting waste. I gave it a shot, bought it at Fry's for $10, and after a rough summer, my heels are like new again. I can't recommend it enough.

I have the white one, but I may shell out for the black one just to be cool.

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Samsung Messager vs. Kyocera Lingo -- No Contest

MessagerWell, I'm stuck with it, and yeah it looks better than the Lingo, but how is the Messager in daily use?

First I'll cover the nice stuff. The Messager has a nice interface and a nice chassis. It is better looking all around. And it was easy to add my own ringtones either via HTTP or vie MMS message. So far so good. Call quality? Very nice. The reason I picked it up in the first place was that my Lingo was dropping calls, probably because of repeated drops over time. The Messager is a tri-band phone that will supposedly be able to take advantage of a larger call area. Nice.

MessagerUnfortunately, the fun ended there. In literally every other way I use the phone, my cheaper, uglier, chintzier Kyocera Lingo blows the Messager away-

1) The Keyboard: The Lingo's keyboard is simply better laid out, and faster to type with in both SMS and email. The selector buttons are at the bottom of the keyboard instead of lined up with the screen, the arrow buttons are way down in the bottom right where it's tougher to access by touch, and the shift and function keys work like a shift-lock, requiring repeated presses before and after punctuation. Parens are at least 3 screens of menus away, the comma requires the function key, and instead of centering the keyboard it skews left as you go down. Also, no Enter key that I can find for typing emails. The Lingo keyboard, while cheap looking and squeaky, is separated into halves and is just easier to use in every situation.

2) The Apps and Internet: The Messager can't use the Internet or Java apps without sliding the keyboard open. What? Why? I could check Gmail on my Lingo in the regular phone position, yes, while driving. And now even if I can eventually get the Java Gmail working, I have to slide out the keyboard to use it. Stupid.

3. Browser: I've set it a number of times, and nothing I do can keep the service provide home page from launching every time I start up the browser. OK fine. At least it'll open the last page I had open, like the Lingo? Nope. So the browser startup, before I can interact with it, takes probably a minute longer than the Lingo did. The Lingo immediately showed whatever I last had open. From there I can at least request what I need, instead of waiting for something I definitely don't.

So since I can't return my Samsung Messager, I am going to hang my hat on what it does have. Good call quality, a MicroSD slot, and a nice-looing (not working) interface. Oh, and I can set ringtones for each caller, which I will do.

Gotta make myself not feel like an idiot, but I do miss my crappy looking little gold Kyocera Lingo. Maybe they'll make a sequel and this Messager will break.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Intriguing 8GB Insignia Pilot Bluetooth Player - $100

This Insignia (Best Buy) Pilot MP3 and video player is pretty intriguing for only $100 shipped. It is an 8GB player, and includes Bluetooth, something I have wanted for a long time in my player. It's got a 2.4" screen, an FM tuner, and the player itself just doesn't look half bad. I'm left wondering where this thing might go wrong.

The reviews look pretty good actually, a few people have some trouble but the nice thing is that you can return or exchange locally if it does happen. I may have to check this one out, my Sony is unbearable to use with the required software... Blah.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Almost Gone-- 24" Soyo DYLM24D6 $220 Shipped

I have one of these 24" Soyo LCDs, and I like it a lot. They do have some occasional blanking problems, but only on DVI. If you run it at 1920x1200 via VGA I don't think I've seen any problems out there. I didn't like it for my Xbox, as it stretched the 1920x1080 (no way to stop it). Also the panel is MVA instead of TN, which is reportedly much superior.

In any case, they are going fast. Shipping is around $20.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Loving Imageshack's Torrent Service

I've been using the new Imageshack torrent downloading service, and I am loving it. I only signed up after reading about the service, and the first couple of days I wasn't given any space to download with. But I have it now, and I've got to say the service is very well done.

Here's how it works: you give them a torrent file or URL, and their servers do the downloading. When it's done, you download the file via normal HTTP download. You don't get the grief from your service provider over torrent traffic, and you don't need to leave your computer on while the torrents download.

I am not sure that these are the final numbers, but my account has 5GB of space at a given time, and 10GB of download traffic per month. You can pay for more, quite a lot more, but this is just about right for me. As you delete things after you download them, your space quota gets freed up. So those numbers aren't as much of a brick wall as they might seem.

One cool thing I noticed today, I downloaded a particularly popular torrent, and it was downloaded immediately. It was 350MB, so actual downloading in that time, even with their resources, was highly unlikely. It would be fairly easy to match up different downloading the same torrent URLs and just keep one copy of the file. It would save a ton of processing and bandwidth, and it makes it great for users like me.

So check it out, it's a great way to download torrents if you don't like constantly monitoring and managing them.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Free Standalone File Recovery

I more-than-occasionally delete a file I really need. There used to be a free Sony undelete utility that I liked for use on flash memory, but it worked for most any drive.

Well, finally, I have a new and wonderful tool, so here it is for you. Hat tip to Drive Recoveries for pointing me toward Recover Files 2.

The really nice thing about it is there is no need to install it. Just throw it on a thumb drive and run it directly from there. It's easy to use, it either will work or it won't, so it's a nice first thing to try.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Inoi HV670 DVD/HDD Media Player for $80

PhotoThe Inoi HV670 HDD/DVD Media Player is only $79.99 at currently, and has an additional $10 rebate available until February 15.

It's much like any network media player in function, but instead of the network connection it has a removable hard drive to hold the media. So no network traffic glitches, connection problems, etc. It also contains a traditional DVD player. It has component outputs, but does not apparently upconvert DVD playback.


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Monday, January 14, 2008

Drop DirecTV Dish WiFi- 24dBi Antenna Under $50

PhotoOld DirecTV antennas are nice, but this Parabolic Grid from Pasadena Networks requires no construction, is made specifically for the frequency, and will likely end up just as cheap at only $50 shipped.

It is about 36" wide and gets an immense 24dBi of gain -- over 100x the strength of the normal antenna that comes on an access point. It's a coated aluminum outdoor antenna, this is for serious long distance projects. Obviously it is highly directional as well.

I'd been searching through antennas and the prices are just all over the map. So if you need a large direction dish as I do, and if you've considered trying to adapt an old DirecTV-type dish, I'd say save the weekend, save the frustration, and just get it shipped complete.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

LED Bulbs Available for $5 at has a great deal on two types of LED bulbs, both $4.99. Pictured is the LED spotlight, an 18 LED, 1.3 watt compact unit that is great for reading lamps, especially in the bedroom. The other bulb is a more normal globe unit, with 18 LEDs and 1.3 watt consumption as well.

I've purchased a number of these on eBay for $10+ after I missed their first go-round at Geeks. I would definitely recommend trying some out, it's a great feeling when your bulb uses like 1 watt and doesn't get hot. The spots are great because you can read in bed without your partner being kept up.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Here's That AT&T 'Naked' DSL Page

AT&T has a series of relatively inexpensive DSL options without requiring a phone line and I thought I'd link to them since it's a little hard to find on their site.

The cheapest is $19.99 a month and requires a year contract. The cheapest non-contract option is $23.99 a month. Since my cable television is no longer even connected into my entertainment system, I've been thinking of ditching Comcast altogether. If I can't leech off of the local library or some other public building, I could go for this.

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8GB USB Thumb Drive Under $32 Shipped has the ADATA PD9 8GB USB Thumb Drive for only $31.95 with free shipping. Far and away the cheapest I've seen, DealRam claims the cheapest at about $40.

Not a fashion item to be sure, but an extremely useful and cheap replacement for my old 20GB hard-drive-based portable storage.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kyocera Lingo - Make Your Own Ringtones

Update: Heather points out below that you can actually email the ringtone right to your phone instead of this whole crazy sequence. If it works, sweet-- I'll have to try it. Just mail the mp3 as an attachment to your phone, like an MMS message. In my case it would be, different providers I am sure will be different. In any case, thank you to Heather!

Just a quick tutorial today, there is no Mobile Phone Tools (yet) for the Lingo M1000, and sort of by accident I found a way to put my own ringtones on my Lingo.

First off, it may only work on Cricket, but it should work on any Lingo with a web browser.

Creating the ringtone:
I'm sure there are better tutorials out there for this, but I used the free Audacity. Simply take in your mp3 of choice, trim it down to your favorite 30 seconds, use the high-pass filter to drop everything below 100Hz (the ringer can't really pump out the bass), and then use the default dynamic-range compression. Mix it down to a single mono track, and save as a 22KHz, 64kbps mp3. The total file size needs to be under about 500K.

Getting the Ringtone into the Lingo
You'll need a website of some sort to upload the mp3 too, any free service will do, but the key is, there needs to be a direct URL to your mp3. If you can't think of something easier, HotLinkFiles will work. Note the complete URL for the mp3. Enter the URL (using the handy QWERTY keyboard) into the web browser, and wait a minute for it to download. It will ask if you want to save the mp3 in your 'Sounds' directory-- you do.

Activating the Ringtone
Just navigate into your 'Media Gallery', then 'Sounds' and then 'Saved Sounds'. Your new mp3 should be at the top of the list, but find it and press 'Options' and then 'Assign'. From there you can make it the default ringer or whatever you like.

So it's not the smoothest way to get a ringtone, but it works, and I miss my old Nokia 6265i or whatever it was a little less every day.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

My New Phone, The Kyocera M1000 Lingo

PhotoThe Kyocera M1000 Lingo was my unplanned replacement for my old Nokia 6265i. I loved that phone, loved it and lost it.

So I decided against the KRZR and another similar Nokia and went back to my old Kyocera ways with the interesting looking Lingo. It was the full keyboard that got me, I use my phone for email quite a bit, and I thought it might really be useful.

Is it? Yes, it is. My old phone had a 320x240 display, very nice. This one has 128x128 external, and 160x128 internal, quite a bit less smooth. But I can still use Gmail very well, the font they used in the browser is actually very nice.

PhotoFor anyone looking at this phone, that's the real selling point. The keyboard. And it is very easy to use even with my fat fingers. It makes all the difference when you just need to get an email out and you're not home and not in the mood for a predictive-text nightmare trying to use correct punctuation.

So I got what I wanted out of the phone, and all the normal things work as expected. It has good volume, people can hear me, and the convenience features are all there. I am happy with it.

As for the bad points, there are a few, so before you decide to get one, here they are:

1) No removable storage.
2) Ugly. It really is.
3) External screen stays on when the lid is open.
4) Battery life is not stellar.
5) No Mobile Phone Tools (yet) to customize themes or tones.
6) Screen resolution is average.
7) No video recording.

I knew all the bad points before buying, and I am still happy I did. The back side of the phone is actually very nice looking, so I always leave it face down. I look forward to the Mobile Phone Tools for it, and I'll buy an extra battery at some point.

Anyway, I haven't been buying many gadgets in general lately, so I thought I'd share this one. I am really very happy with the phone, I think it's a revision or two away from being a really great phone, and I'd get another one today if it had better screens, better battery life, and better aesthetics.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

8GB Meizu Now Available - White Only $145 Shipped

PhotoThe Dane-Elec Meizu 8GB is finally available, and Walgreens of all places has it the cheapest. What makes that nice is you can return it on pretty much any corner if something goes wrong.

It's consistently gotten great reviews, and at $110 less than the iPod Nan 8GB, it seems like a great deal. The one thing I see pretty commonly in reviews is that the fidelity is good enough that getting new headphones really makes a difference.

You can watch 320x240 video, it requires no drivers, no iTunes, no nothing. Load you songs up, get them back off the player if you want, it's so much better this way.

Currently only white is in stock.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sandisk Sansa Connect WiFi Now $145 Delivered

PhotoThe Sansa Connect Wifi looks like a very nice little player.

It could almost replace my ancient Aireo, the original WiFi player. I loved that thing, the ability to sync my playlists from the car, to get content from any hotspot, etc.

This Sansa takes it even further, allowing you to listen to Internet Radio from any open hotspot, download from music services without a computer to connect to. It's actually quite a bit more convenient than you might think initially. I used the feature all the time with my Aireo, and that was far more rudimentary.

It has 4GB flash memory, and a 2.2" color screen for pictures and video.

For those less patient, it's $150 at Staples.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Old School Tube 30" Philips Only $270 Shipped

This refurbished Philips 30PW9110D/37B tube television set is only $270 delivered right now from the Philips Outlet store.

A lot of people like flat screens, but except for very very good ones, they are yet to match the color of a CRT. So if you already have the room set aside, the flatness makes very little difference.

The resolution, I believe, is 1280x720, it has HDMI and component inputs, and a QAM tuner. If you can see past the desirability of dimensions and into the actual picture quality, I think you'll be pleased with this one.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sun-Pec Mobile Phone Solar Charger $25 Shipped

The Sun-Pec Portable Hybrid Solar Charger is only $25 shipped ($18 + $7 shipping) from GoldenGadgets right now when you use the coupon code "SUM07".

It includes adapter Plugs for mini-USB, USB, Motorola, Nokia and BlackBerry. So what does hybrid mean? It means that there is both a solar panel and an internal 1050mAh lithium-ion battery. So you can charge the battery via USB, or you can charge it more slowly via solar, and use both power sources to recharge your phones.

I think it's pretty slick, and it has an aluminum case as well.

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