Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

Garmin Nuvi 265WT GPS

I recently purchased a Garmin nuvi 265WT GPS for work. And I have to say that the Garmin brand really stands up to their reputation.

I suppose first things first. The only bad thing I can find about the Garmin GPSes are the map updates. You’re allowed two months of free updates once you register the product. But from there on out you have to pay a fee for any maps you download or pay a “lifetime of GPS” fee which would run you around $100+USD. Total rip-off in my opinion and I believe that the maps really should be free across the board since you’re really buying a hardware product with features that accentuate the mapping tool.

The 265WT comes with a 4.3 inch screen. Very useful since if the screen is too small, the entire user interface is difficult to navigate since it’s completely touch-screen driven. Unless you have fingers the size of a child’s, I would fully recommend getting a wider screen if you’re out to purchase a new GPS. Garmin’s interface has got to be one of the easiest ones to learn. After playing with a multitude of GPSes at stores, you find that navigational and everything else, Garmin’s wins out on ease of use. And that’s very important since you really don’t want to be frustrated while moving a ton of steel at sixty miles per hour.

Directions wise, it seemed to be pretty decent and had a number of food points of interest that were up-to-date. I have to say that part of the traffic transceiver or what not was off with older map data or something since when I went to a chinese restaurant down the road and decided to change the route, it told me to make a big circle to get back on course instead of just finding another way into the parking lot. Also, the map data being off since Peters Creek Parkway is fifty five miles per hour for the speed limit but the GPS showed fifty. Outside of that, it’s extremely accurate. The way it picks up the satellites is also very quick and nothing like the Garmin III Street Pilot I had back in the day that took a while to actually sync up.

I haven’t fully tested the Bluetooth features of handsfree dialing but I can say that it was very simple to pair up my phone to it and it seems to have decent sound coming from it to the phone. It’s basically an extension to the phone and I was able to make a call from another room with just the GPS unit and still hear quite clearly. I’m not certain what others would hear on the other end and that’s the reasoning for not having a “fully tested” review on the handsfree side.

The GPS itself also has the ability to give you text-to-speech road names, speak in multiple different languages for directions (useful for immigrants or going elsewhere) and can pick up on a FM band, traffic patterns if it’s available. It also can do things like link pictures with locations, give car tours (purchased) and a whole slew of other things like calculate about how much a trip will cost from the ecoRoute meter.

Overall, this is a very useful tool on any sort of trip where you’re not definite about the place you’re going and gives you a lot of leeway on where things are including hotels, food, and other things. It’s like buying all of the AAA maps and putting them in the palm of your hand. If you’re trying to decide over a basic model or a more extensive one like this, take a look at your driving patterns. For some, they don’t need the handsfree dialing and usually just need something to keep them in the general area or direction. Then a basic model is fine. If you happen to drive in the states that holding a phone next to your ear is a fine, then the more advanced models would come into play. In any case, it’s probably worth your while to get a GPS if you travel; if you’re looking for one that’s easy to use, choose a Garmin.

Can the Triad Go the Way of Greenlight?

greenlight Greenlight is a FTTH (basically the same technology as Verizon FiOS) service by the city of Wilson in North Carolina. But the question is that if there was to be the creation of such a service, would we have the infrastructure to support it currently and how far would the reach be? Thus, this discussion is predominantly about that and where we stand currrently.

My main concern with Time Warner currently is how they’re selling DOCSIS 3.0 as if it’s going to fix the data cap issue. But, don’t forget that DOCSIS 3.0 doesn’t actually require that much effort in technology upgrades. It’s mainly a standards change and binding of channels. This basically means that 3.0 markets could eventually fall under the axe of the data caps. So when I saw that they were toting a $99/month 50Mbp downstream and 5Mbp upstream, it hit me that the consumers would lose yet again here in a tiered system.

So far, there have been no guarantees that going to DOCSIS 3.0 would actually have no data cap. Time Warner will probably not deploy this technology here either until there is serious competition since it doesn’t impact their bottom line here in the Triad due to little to no competition.

Verizon FiOS and AT&T Uverse
I predict that Verizon FiOS will not be here any time soon based purely on the fact that this market is maintained by AT&T (previously BellSouth). This was a distribution by the Baby Bells, and thus Verizon doesn’t have any infrastructure here. AT&T Uverse is a hybrid fiber/copper system that can provide a similar sort of service without going through the full fiber infrastructure ground work. The negative of it is that it doesn’t provide the speeds of FTTH (which is what FiOS is due to it being pure fiber to the homes), but the positive is that it costs less in the fixed costs of initial groundwork and can set up as an intermediate stage to FTTH. Unfortunately, AT&T has shown interest in the data cap type servicing plans which defeats the purpose of “faster” services when you’re limited to how much you can use.

From a price structure, most of the speed is really lost when you’re on a data cap. Currently, the pricing below shows the more comparable services and how much they’re supposedly going to cost based on their current quotes. Also remember that as of current, unless you do a lot of simultaneous high bandwidth type downloads, upper limits of speed for downstreams are more or less irrelevant to most of your general consumers currently. Now if you had multiple HD streams going, then it would definitely make a difference but even with your current cable, you already can buffer and watch while it buffers the rest.

TWC DOCSIS 3.0 Verizon FiOS Greenlight
Speed (down/up) 50Mbps/5Mbps 50Mbps/20Mbps 40Mbps/40Mbps
Price (per mo) $99 $144 $99

City Infrastructures
High Point : I’m not really sure if High Point has a fiber ring. They might, or might not but if they do, I don’t know what it’s used for as of current.
Greensboro : They do have a fiber ring but it’s city use currently. Can this be used to create FTTH service to certain neighborhoods? I think so. But the infrastructure would have be upgraded and extended out to service more than just the downtown areas where I assume most of the ring is located. They will also have to begin to look into how to create the jobs similar to Greenlight and how to break city and law enforcement services away on the same ring from servicing the public.
Winston-Salem : Of the three cities, Winston-Salem is probably the best set for a shift to services like Greenlight. This is due to the fact that WinstonNet already services the universities here and they have been working on a wireless initiative in the past to provide wireless to all of Winston-Salem and eventually Forsyth County. Being an Internet 2 POP, the bandwidth is definitely there and they can use that as a base structure to become a provider. I would love to see this happen, but it would depend on how they feel about the entire competitive thing and if they believe it would benefit the citizens on a whole.

Regional Politics
I truly think that regionalism is the best push for this type of project, but seeing how the Heart of the Triad pretty much fell by the wayside, and there’s always talk about regionalism but actually very little action, it’s hard for me to see it happen without turf issues. All in all, smaller cities just can’t compete on a grand scale compared with a larger populace.

I believe that a municipal provided service would actually be the most beneficial to defeating tiered billing. Not only would it be a cheaper service, but the governments on a whole are accountable to its people. The couple of parts that I foresee as an issue would be the fact that municipalities not working well together as a region to create a larger fiber ring that no one else has in the United States. It would also show that when people come together, they can provide for its people and put aside its differences. Great speech stuff, but in reality I wonder if the Triad can actually accomplish this. The other part is that business competition with municipalities is actually a potential legal problem. There would have to be some sort of a nonprofit that would represent the Triad in this matter similar to how Winston-Salem is represented by WinstonNet. Only as such, can they perhaps play the same game that the city of Wilson is playing.

Sharing My Contact Data Via Poken

pack_pokens_photo.png New gadget Poken has an interesting perspective on an old idea. Currently, networking is done through the means of business cards. Pretty much every single networking event you’ll ever go to in your corporate life, there are business cards. Now, there has been a few methods of sharing information and even the ones via Bluetooth haven’t really taken off. Poken uses RFID to do the wireless sharing (you have to high-five your Poken with another Poken) and it stores up to 64 contacts before having to upload.
The upload is done through USB. All the registration and such is done online with a pretty good website, although I have to say that when I tried it out, the integration with the social networks was lacking (it wouldn’t detect any of the networks I gave access to even though you could check them just fine at the network itself).
I was actually curious enough to look into giving these away for another site I’m working on. Let’s face it, business people network the most. But when you get right down to it, buying those 12-packs aren’t cheap. At $195USD, that breaks down to $16.25USD per piece. At a mark-up, I would imagine that most retailers would sell individuals at $19.95USD. At that price, this device is going to have a difficult time for adoption, especially when you’re taking on a well known method that’s costs you about $40USD for a box of 200.
Adoption rate will be the one thing that makes or breaks this device in my opinion. If Pokens were about five dollars a piece, then it would probably drop into the range of impulse buy. In that sense, that could definitely be the new adoption pattern for things like conferences and other things. But the biggest thing on this is trying to get it into the hands of the people. And from a marketing budget, that’s a huge task.
I’m hoping that they’re giving them away at SXSW if they have representatives there. That would actually put their name on the board easily.
Personally? I’m going to hold off getting the packs until they drop in price a bit. I see the fascination and it definitely is a unique device for contact sharing and they almost had me clicking buy before I saw the price for the 12-pack (just fyi, there is no discount that is shown by the ajax tool even for 90 packs at $16,381USD). Seriously. If they can make it for five or ten, I would consider as a marketing tactic to be selling it at that point direct or with minimal markup for a while to gain momentum. But they’re going to have to work at marketing the value of the current price point when global economics are hurting most networkers.

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Netflix interface for hardware devices could be better

Netflix, Inc. I absolutely adore Netflix. I mean, come on. This is one single company that I had fallen in love with before I became a shareholder.
And they’ve continued to surprise me time and again. Even as times are tough, Netflix has a great subscription base where it allows you to change the next months to whatever plan you wish. If it’s a lesser plan, they don’t send you DVDs until you return enough from your greater plan to actually meet the lesser.
But here’s the one single qualm I have with them. I’m not sure the reasoning behind it, and I hope that it’s just a timing issue or something, but it seems that the API that they give to the hardware players are just lacking. Take for example, Roku. The Roku player is wonderful and I absolutely adore the fact that I can watch streaming movies right there from my Netflix account. But the ability to add and browse movie selections from even just the Watch Instantly is entirely useful but nonexistent.
That small piece of the puzzle would turn Netflix into a content provider and promote hardware partnerships. It’s great if they have these companies that are willing to take just the Queue, but there’s so much more potential behind it.
I’m hoping that this interfacing at some point will be released to the hardware partners. I for one, will continue to be a customer, shareholder, and fan as long as they treat me right like they always have.

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Zune Doomed?

With the latest axe falling on Microsoft’s entertainment division, it’s really not a wonder considering the crappy sales figures during the holidays.
Now let’s be honest. I did think the Zune product was doomed from the start, even though for the anti-DRM friends, this product was on the “cutting edge”. Well, sort of. The real reason perhaps for this was that Microsoft itself with their biggest seller in Windows has somewhat a reputation already. The name just didn’t carry the weight that it should have into the music world where it’s dominated by the youth and the hip. And in the end, the Zune just had nothing on the iPod.
Personally? I think the biggest loss area that could have made the Zune somewhat a popular device was if the Zune brought in guns like AmazonMP3 to run the store itself (I’m even surprised with the song selection and value from Amazon), and to try some different types of things with the Zune such as on-the-go podcasting or something of that nature. I think that if they had driven a niche instead of competing head-to-head with Apple, they would have had a go. Hardware is a difficult market to sell in, and Microsoft so far has never built very great hardware to begin with. So when you drop into an arena where you’re playing against the biggest digital music store with the biggest proprietary system, you probably want to compete on the same type of front instead of doing the whole generic thing (which makes you no different from the other generic players).
Now what would be interesting is if Zune itself took the product line and went into portable media capture (video and audio). That would be a niche that could very well blossom with the right equipment and third party partners and not to mention there are plenty of amateur video crazy people. Just look at the video sites in case you didn’t realize that it was actually worthwhile. Alas, we’ll see what they do with the division. My bet is that the Zune’s days are numbered.

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Review: Nokia n810 Wimax Internet Tablet

I got this lovely little thing a last week, and have had to chance to play with it enough to get a good feel for it. Here, you’ll see all of the fun things it comes with. Retailing around $493USD, but if you shop around you can find it cheaper like here at Amazon.
For those that are in a frantic frothy state, the pictures of the unboxing are after the review. For the rest, this little weighs 1.6 pounds and has a 4.1 inch screen. No different from the original n810 except for the fact that there’s been a 2.5Ghz radio shoved into it to support Wimax. Everything else is the same.
The beauty of this little guy is that from my perspective, it does way more than your usual Asus EEE or Dell Mini9s. This is due to the fact that although a 9inch LCD does beat out a 4.1 inch screen, this comes with a keyboard. Thus, it allows me to access things that are otherwise somewhat annoying from a device like an iPhone. It also gives me access due to the fact that the entire maemo OS is a derivative of linux and that gives me a lot more power to tweak and change the way this works.
So far, the connectivity and application support for this device is fantastic. Compiling anything for this device is as easy as compiling any application for ARM devices, as long as you’ve done a little bit of development work. Most of the interface type applications are done in GTK+ so no problems there either.
Also, there’s a GPS integrated inside and I have to say that the satellite acquisition is a little slower than your usual GPS devices, but this actually does work very well with both the Wayfinder GPS application and the open source ones. Bluetooth syncs seem to work just fine and both streaming audio and regular audio/video plays well as long as you have enough ram. One thing that it could do with more of is actual ram. 128MB and the option to push for another 128MB in virtual is kind of piddly.
Overall, this is a great portable device with impressive battery life and the ability for me to keep in touch with some of things going on with work that I would not be able to do on a phone but still keep the portability. It’s basically better than a netbook on a smaller scale and about the same price and Wimax thrown in. I’ll be curious if someone will figure out a way to tether this to a laptop to run Wimax at some point, but it’s not a high priority for me right now.
In any case, the only thing right now I’d love to do is to not have to go into CLI to actually optimize the memory. Probably at some point will have to do that since the GUI only offers so much in saving space on internal RAM, but that’s just part of the openness of linux.
So for those of you looking for the pictures of the unboxing? Here you go. Go nuts and drool to your heart’s content.

Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax
Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax

The rubber band gun of all rubber band guns

silverwolf.jpg You have to admit. When it comes to fans, there’s nothing cooler than the ones that are willing to go through the trouble of creating their own works based on whatever they’re a fan of.
And here, we have the Silver Wolf, recreated from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, as a rubber band gun. Not just any rubber band gun though. One that has a safety, has an integrated light, integrated laser, fold out handle, and super accurate even when squeezing the trigger off for multiple shots.
Overall, the entire thing looks absolutely spectacular. Beats screwing with making a gun with your hand. I mean, laser sights? The laser is way more accurate than the actual range of the rubber band!
In any case, check out why this is absolutely just sweet.


Spice is a circuit simulator for the Unix platform to analyze and design IC boards without having to build and design those circuits. This piece of software has been around for a while and I totally forgot that it was freely available for not only education but actually as design utility.
There are others out there that are commercial and have more functionality and such, but overall, you can’t beat the free from U.C. Berkeley. I remember spending many late night hours in the lab with this piece of software and if you’re looking for something to help do IC design, don’t forget some of your old college software friends.

Deus Ex Machina

AC_Deus2.jpg You have got to admit that this is one of the most interesting designs of transportation. It’s familiar since it’s been seen in anime and games before but in actual reality? Never, until now.
Being able to achieve 0-60mph in three seconds and worn as an exoskeleton is definitely one of the most interesting ideas for a while considering most transportation are ones that you get into and on top of. Unfortunately, there’s really not much in the likes of storage for this and thus makes the concept … well, purely a concept. I’d still love to see this go down the freeway though. Strangely enough, you would think that to gain speed, you would have the the vehicle and person closer to the ground for less wind resistance. It’d be nice to see it in action. Regardless, this is one concept design that is neat in reality. Made by Yamaha.

Sony Cybershot DSCW120

Was looking for a point-and-shoot digital camera that didn’t have a lot of issues with battery life. It seemed like Canon was the way to go for the most part, but it was difficult to find one that was rated well that had an optical viewfinder but under the $200 mark. Splendidly, the Cybershot DSCW120 popped up with decent reviews and was a Sony. But the big deal was the optical viewfinder, which would save battery a bit by not letting the LCD to draw power.
What I found is that this camera actually has a whole bunch of really great features. One of my favorites is that every picture I’ve taken yet has been clear. This probably is due to the Steadyshot stabilization. It’s probably from the built-in gyro and the electronic stabilization called Double Antiblur, but it’s one of the things that is missing from most cameras on the lower-end. And if you hand moves the slightest in the shot, then the picture ends up terrible.
The other great feature is the Smile shutter feature. You can set it up to automatically take pictures when it detects a smile. What’s interesting about this, is that this actually means that the camera itself can detect faces and smiling. Facial recognition by cameras isn’t something new, but it’s always been a more high-end feature. I haven’t had a chance to test the flash yet nor actually set it up for night shots but so far I am definitely impressed what the camera’s performance.
You can also set it to take pictures for display in 1080HD, and set up a slideshow directly from the camera if it’s plugged into the television with music and everything. You can also print from it, but I haven’t tested this feature yet so I don’t know how it works. Also, this camera uses nine different points for focusing instead of the five point focus system that most cameras use.
Overall, in the short time period I’ve had to play with this camera, I have to say that it’s definitely worth a little bit of extra for optical viewfinder and the features but it’s also a great camera for between the $150USD to $200USD price point.