Cool accessories

A list of things I’ve always wanted to fix things…

iTwinge. This is a ittle sleeve you stick over your iPhone that gives you a real keyboard. Kind of a cool idea.

FRAGnStein. This is a wireless mouse for a PS3. Really good for those of us from the PC who like the mouse for FPS games. I really don’t like the thumb controller

Jabra HALO. This is a really slick looking bluetooth headset that let’s you listen to music wireless. Works with iPhone and looks great for working out. Cnet liked it. With multiuse, it connects to both a PC and a phone so you can answer either your phone or Skype. Most importantly the mike works well and it sounds good. Its great for using an iPhone on a treadmill or in the gym. It definitely has bugs. The volume control is unreliable

MoGo Talk. A Bluetooth headset that is very flat with a backpack for your iPhone. It chrages from it.

Mophie Juice Pack wraps around an iPhone and has a battery inside. The juick pack air is super thin and the regular juick pack doubles battery life. Engadget liked it. Main strangeness is that to charge the juice pack itself, you use micro USB to regular USB to connect it to the computer. For a little more bulk the Juick Pack 3G doubles the life.

New Jawbone…ugh maybe BlueAnt Q1 and Motorokr T505

I want to love the new Jawbone, but I agree. I have terrible problems with adjusting it. It doesn’t fit super well and all the little metal loops have now snapped at the base. Also, any adjustment and the idiot designer who made the whole front face the hang up button should be shot. Everytime you adjust the thing, you hang up the call!

Net, net, I’m still in search of a decent bluetooth headset. I liked the first Jawbone, but it was big, but at least loud enough. It eventually failed when I dropped it so much it shattered ;-(

Folks seem to like BlueAnt alot, so maybe time to try something different. Like a good speakerphone in the car that is actually loud enough or a decent headset that doesn’t break and sounds good. Sigh. Hard to get. The Q1 is  their latest. Has voice control so no more small buttonsand if you have two phones, it apparently will switch to the one that is ringing (great for those of us with a US and another phone). It also appears to work with the iPhone which is nice. Its $99 from J&R. Also if you don’t care about looks Cnet thinks the Plantronics Voyager Pro is the best sounding headset they’ve every used.

Finally for the car, having a handsfree kit or a bluetooth car speakerphone is terrific because you don’t need to insert a headset. likes the Motorokr T505. It is clear and very loud. It actually plays the audio on your radio via FM so it should be good.

Re: Poor Quality Sound – Jawbone Community

I agree with the comments above. I used the first Jawbone and always loved the sound quality. I did, however, find it a bit too bulky and I had problems with the rubber ear buds constantly falling off. That is what inspired me to move to the New Jawbone.

I had an instant love/hate relationship with the product. It fit like it was custom designed for me – snug in the ear with the sensor tight against my cheek, with no need for an ear loop. Several times I thought I had misplaced it, only to find it was still in my ear.

That was the love part. The hate part is all about sound quality. While using the original for some two years, I never once had someone complain about how I sounded. With the new model, it was almost daily. And it wasn’t much better on my end. The sound was tinny and too soft. It was passable in a quiet room, but with any ambient noise (including road noise) you couldn’t make out what the other person was saying.

I am actually amazed that a company that put out such a high performing product would follow up with something that works so poorly. It is a headset, after all, so it needs to deliver decent sound quality before anything else.

Re: Poor Quality Sound – Jawbone Community

The sound probem is annoying. they need to increase the volume of the headset. If there is any background noise it is hard to hear. My second problem that was mentioned is the shaft for the earpiece broke off accross the hole that the earloop uses. too bad they don’t do upgrades. I would like to see if the sound quality is better on the prime version.

BlueAnt Supertooth Light Review – page2 (Phone Arena Reviews)

The most important parameter in a handsfree is most probably the quality and strength of the sound during conversation. Therefore, we tested the BlueAnt SuperTooth Light several times to determine its performance in real life conditions.

The built-in loudspeaker is powerful, as the sound is very strong and you will not have problems with hearing, even in heavy traffic with your car windows pulled down. When you use it in an office, you have to know that by increasing the sound to the maximum the sound is heard even through the wall.

Lego NXT and Tetrix

Got a great comment from a friend as I was about get to Vex. There is a new system called Tetrix which are essentially stronger metal components that are compatible with Lego Technics and NXT. That means you can build big metal structures and still use the NXT and program it. What a great idea! Where can you get it?

  • Pitsco makes the system and their base set is $400 and it is just the metal parts. 500 of them 🙂 Y
  • Tetrix and Mindstorms Starter Set with the NXT. Seems like the best buy. Get both the NXT 2.0 system which has the plastic parts and the NXT brain and then there is the Tetrix metal components. The pricing seems decent, but mainly there is free shipping and no sales tax.


The Tetrix pieces are very strong – and the variety is awesome. They’ve developed a really nice little hole pattern that gives a LOT of flexibility for connecting Tetrix AND Technic pieces as many angles. They have a special name for the little piece that allows connection between the two but I cannot seem to recall it (another item for my To Do list). This piece is required because, as I understand it, the law of the land is “LEGO pieces shalt not touch its unpure metal brethren”

Pitsco About Us

What gives the Pitsco TETRIX™ Robotic Design System an edge over other robot building systems is – of all things – its holes.

The system’s patented hole pattern enables structural pieces to be connected at many angles, not just 90º and 180º. “To get creative with it is very easy because of the way it is connected,” said Paul Uttley, Pitsco Research and Development Manager and TETRIX designer.

Pitsco designed the TETRIX system for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), which includes TETRIX in its 2008 competition kit.

“We wanted a true robotics prototyping platform that would allow us to challenge teams with problems faced by real-world robotics designers,” said FIRST Tech Challenge Director Ken Johnson. “The strength of the building materials, the ability to configure and reconfigure the kit multiple times, the metal gears, all work together to form a kit that is tough and flexible.”

Made of heavy-duty aluminum, the structural pieces come in shapes that lend extra strength to the system. Plus, metal gears and strong drive motors and servos provide above-average power to robots.

“This system enables students to experiment and build robots on a real-world scale,” Uttley said. “They are working with structural elements like those they would use if they were a robotics engineer.”

Students can operate a TETRIX robot by remote control or they can add other electronics to create an autonomous robot. The TETRIX Base Set comes with 600 parts, including structural pieces, servos, motors, wheels, and hardware. The included user’s guide covers building robot subcomponents, leaving students’ imagination to discover how to reconfigure and combine these into their own unique robot design.

And in January 2009, robot builders can use the unique TETRIX hole pattern to attach the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT Intelligent Brick, sensors, and any other LEGO® Technic element to the TETRIX system via a custom connector.

Learn more about TETRIX or call 800-835-0686. Learn more about the FIRST Tech Challenge.

# # #

Note to media: Visit the Pitsco Web site or contact Communications Manager Tom Farmer. High-resolution images of the TETRIXTM Robotic Design System are available upon request.

Pitsco About Us

And in January 2009, robot builders can use the unique TETRIX hole pattern to attach the LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT Intelligent Brick, sensors, and any other LEGO® Technic element to the TETRIX system via a custom connector.


Anyway, as you can see, you get about 100+ aluminum parts (I believe the name they are giving to these components is Tetrix, but don’t hold me to that). In addition, you get the NXT Education Base Set, 3 software packages (NXT-G, RobotC, and NI LabView), 2 Li-Ion battery packs, 8 wheels (2 different sizes), numerous gears (some about 1/4″ thick), remote control, 8 motors (2 distinct types), 5 NXT sensors, special connectors for connecting Technic to Aluminum (see photo), and 2 special devices from HiTechnic that connect the electronics to the Brick

Xbox 360 Jasper vs. Falcon

Calvin finally had me have a look at the Xbox 360. As usual, buying these things is incredibly confusing. There is the Xbox 360 and then the Pro and Elite versions. And of course the new Jasper chipset I sure hope that the model I ordersed from Newegg today is Jasper. Apparently you can check to see if the manufacturing date is August 2008. So beware. It is sad that companies have to do this kind of thing. Obviously lots of excess Xbox inventory around.

Whats the difference between different xbox models? – The Game Forum

The console is same in all the models. Accessories are different. Like in elite model you get HDTV cable, Hard disk, wireless controllers

Xbox 360 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Xbox 360 Arcade[18] is the entry level for the Xbox 360. On October 23, 2007, it replaced the “Xbox 360 Core” and maintained the price of $199. It incluees HDMI output and 5 xBox Live Arcide titles. Xbox 360 Console: Video Games

I purchased this Xbox from amazon, they shipped me a console with the old Falcon chipset and a manufacturer date of early 2008. BE WARNED THE “NEWEST VERSION” tag IS FALSE. I called amazon, and they shipped me a replacement which was also a old Falcon chipset still manufactured in early 2008. Just so it is clear, if you order this from Amazon you are NOT GETTING THE NEW VERSION despite how it is listed here. This version “The falcon chipset” is prone to the red ring of death error, and I would reccomend you stay away from it and go buy a console from a physical store. After talking with amazon, it was evident they did not understand the difference between the chipsets and didn’t understand that what they were selling was not the newest version by any means. The customer service individual i spoke with assured me they would remove the “Newest Version” tag after I pointed out the error, but chances are that it will not be removed.

United offers double EQM, Continental now Star Alliance

In case you’ve forgotten here are the United program levels:

MP Registration: Double elite qualifying miles (EQM)

Double elite qualifying miles (EQM) gets you to the highest level faster. So if you are booking a flight. Far better to pay for it and then upgrade. Check your miles now. You need 50K EQM to make it to 1K traveler. It is strange don’t you think that 50,000 EQM gets you 1K which is really 100,000 mile traveler. They need to work on their math!

United Airlines Mileage Plus Program Review by

Premier Level – Flying 25,000 EQM a year or 30 segments on either United or Star Alliance partners gets you a Premier level status. An EQM or equivalent miles is your actual miles adjusted by whatever bonus. Having a double EQM means, you only have to fly 12.5K to make it to Premier!

Premier Executive Level – If you have flown 50,000 miles or 60 segments, you would qualify for the Premier Executive status.

1K Level – You achieve a 1K Level status when you have flown 100,000 miles or 100 segments in one calender year.

Continental and United Airlines Announce Plan for Global Cooperation; CO to Join *A – FlyerTalk Forums

Continental Airlines and United Airlines Announce Comprehensive Plan for Global Cooperation; Continental Plans to Join Star Alliance.

CHICAGO, June 19, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ — Continental Airlines (CAL) and United Airlines (UAUA) today announced a framework agreement to cooperate extensively, linking their networks and services worldwide to the benefit of customers, and creating revenue opportunities and cost savings and other efficiencies. In addition, Continental plans to join United in the Star Alliance, the most comprehensive airline alliance in the world.

Conor’s Web Log of Esoterica: United’s Global Services

I can’t tell you exactly what the qualifications are (although they did come out last September and state in letters to current members that flying 50,000 miles in full fare coach, business or first was one certain way to qualify).

Conor’s Web Log of Esoterica: United’s Global Services

UA’s 2005 numbers (yes, a bit dated), show:

18,000 Global Services members
46,000 1K
239,000 Premier Executive
535,000 Premier

Eisenhower on planning

John mentioned this one to me, as I sit here editing three memos for tomorrow, I’m reminded he is right. Eisenhower is one smart person. Planning is good because it helps you think through objectives. I actually like the later formulation better, but it appears, Dwight actually said the more boring one about planning.

Battle Quotes

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. Dwight D. Eisenhower

The World of the Swiss McKeowns – No battle was ever won according to plan…

No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Canon MX700 will not run over LAN on Snow Leopard

Sigh, although the MX700 drivers are included in OS X 10.6, they didn’t include the special drivers that Canon uses for use over the internet, so you have to download the IJ Network Utility from the Canon site and then the key is wait a little in the Add Printer dialog. See below…

Apple – Support – Discussions – Network Printing to Canon MP and MX …

f you have a Canon MP or MX printer and you are having trouble adding it as a network printer, then try the workaround below. Other MP and MX owners had found this successful and in testing I also found this a simple workaround, compared to some of the workarounds in this forum.

Like has been said already, the MP/MX device is appearing in the Add Printer view as a Bonjour Scanner, and if you add it you can scan fine over the network. But the network printer part of the AIO does not display in the Default browser view.

Apple – Support – Discussions – Network Printing to Canon MP and MX …

After testing I have confirmed that by installing an older version of the Canon CUPS driver on 10.6, the necessary network protocols are now present, allowing you to add the printer. Note that installing the older version does not replace the v10.19.0 that is included with 10.6 (provided you customize the install and select Additional Drivers) but it does add several plugins, including the ‘canonijnetwork’ transport plugin. With this plugin installed, the network printer now appears after several seconds in the Default view, with the Printer Name as MP/MXxxx (00.00.85.xx.xx.xx) and the Kind as canonijnetwork.

Apple – Support – Discussions – Network Printing to Canon MP and MX …

This is the workaround.

1. Download the Canon ‘CUPS’ driver for the respective model of MP or MX printer. The CUPS driver typically has a version number of 10.x.x.
2. Run the installer and restart when prompted.
3. Open System Preferences > Print & Fax and click to Add ( + )
4. Select the Default browser view. You will probably see the printer listed with its Kind as Bonjour Scanner. Do not select this. Just wait a bit longer and eventually you should see the printer appear with its MAC address in brackets and the Kind as canonijnetwork
5. Select this entry and ensure the Print Using menu changes to Canon model series
6. Click Add to complete

Google Calendar and Contact Sync to Snow Leopard

OK, here is how it all works in Snow Leopard:

In iCal, goto to Preferences/Accounts and select the + to Add, now you will see a new option with is Google and you type in your user name and password. Your main calendar should now appear. Then click on the Delegation tab (not very intuitive) and you will see a list of sub calendars on Google (like the weather and other things that are shared with you). Click on the those boxes to see them in iCal.

For Address Book, go to Preference and select Google and type in your user name and password. To force a sync go to the upper rigth and there is a MobileMe sync. Unintuitively, this actually syncs Google as well and is the general iSync utility, so don’t be confused, it works with or without MobileMe.

As an aside, I turned off MobileMe sync for all of this stuff for now until I figure out how that interacts 🙂

Sync with Snow Leopard – Google Mobile Help

If your using Snow Leopard (10.6) then Address Book contact sync with Google occurs every hour (

Only the contacts in “My Contacts” will sync, and only the following items

  • People’s names and job titles
  • Company names
  • Email and postal addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • IM names, including the type of service
  • Notes
  • Photos (on Mac OS X 10.6 only)

Contact Sync Help

Each time you send an email, Gmail automatically adds the recipient of that email to your contact list. There is currently no way to prevent Gmail from adding these contacts. You are able to delete unwanted contacts, however. To permanently delete a contact, follow these steps:

1. Select the contact in the Contacts list.
2. Click Delete Contact at the top of the page.
3. Click OK.

Contact Sync Help

On Mac OS X 10.5, Contact Sync can’t sync a contact with Gmail if another contact has the same email address. If an Address Book or iPhone contact contains an email address already present in a different Gmail contact, this contact will not be synced.

Contact Sync Help

Due to an interdependence between Gmail and Google Talk, removing or replacing contacts in Gmail may require you to reauthorize some contacts for chatting in Google Talk. This can also happen if contacts are merged or deleted and then synced.

Complete reset of iCal, Address Book and Entourage

I have all kinds of sync problems and bad data with my iCal, Address Book and Entourage on one of my computers, a MacBook Pro. Here is how to completely wipe out corrupt databases. First I should read my own post from last year

Apple – Support – Discussions – How do I completely reset iCal? …

How do I completely reset iCal? I want a really clean startup situation as if iCal has never run on this account. I tried:

rm -rf ~/Library/{Caches,Caches/Metadata,Preferences,Application\ Support}/*iCal*

Apple – Support – Discussions – How do I completely reset iCal? …

That will have missed the copy calendar data in ~/Library/Application Support/SyncServices

Reset iCal and Entourage | Tongfamily Website

There is another database called ~/Library/Calendars which is your list of all calendar data.

Reset iCal and Entourage | Tongfamily Website

So you have to go to Entourage Account Settings and delete the offending accounts and reinstall. Also delete in ~/Library/Microsoft all the Entourage databases and for the new Entourage 2004 they are in ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/

Apple – Support – Discussions – Need to reset/reinstall address book …

The data files for the Address Book are found at Home/Library/Application Support/AddressBook. In that folder there are older versions of the AB data — you might check to see if AddressX altered all of them, or not. For example you could delete, rename to be merely and try launching the application.

Apple – Support – Discussions – Need to reset/reinstall address book …

The candidates, found at Home/Library/Preferences, in likely order of importance to this problem are:, and AddressBookMe.plist.