It’s been around for a while… but I still want one

Das Keyboard, the ultimate geek keyboard… it’s totally blank so you better know your stuff, no poseurs allowed.


A tiny bluetooth headset from Motorola, now you can look extra-crazy

If you think people talking on their little bluetooth headsets look like lunatics just wait until this new headset from Motorola hits the streets.  Motorola’s Lilliputian H5 will make LA look like it’s out of lithium.


Gear Photography

But… that’s just not possible!

I never thought I’d see it happen… but it did.

One of my compact flash cards failed.

Nothing strange happened.  No shocks, no static electricity, no driving over it with a car (Rob).  Took ten pictures.  Downloaded them.  Took three more.  Poof.

I think from now on I’ll carry an extra flash card or two when I travel.

Gear Hardware

Geek girls rock

Ok, I admit it, smart women make my nerd beanie spin.  Brains wins over cheesecake, no doubt about it.  If, however, someone tells you smarts and style are incompatible you can give them your best Urkle laugh and walk away.

Here’s a cool thing, laptop bags just for women.

While I may have ridiculed the idea someone would want to put their cell phone in a briefcase pocket which blocks out incoming RF (and, presumably, incoming calls) I do have to commend Mobile Edge for spotting a need: laptop bags which don’t look like laptop bags.

To be sure my super-powered geek-vision wasn’t clouding the issue, I checked with my better 50% (who is a history geek, band geek and photogenic fashion plate).  The verdict?  Paula agrees, these are great looking bags.

Check out Mobile Edge’s line of women’s bags.  If I were a woman (or cross-dresser) I’d totally go right out and buy one of these.

Madison laptop bag

Gear Idle Tech TV

Technology that works

My DirecTV TiVo died a month or two ago so I went out and bought a new one (well… it was a shelf model but works great).  The old unit I just kept on a shelf, suspecting the problem was one of the hard drives… and since I had broken the seal and added a new hard drive warranty was out of the question.

This weekend I finally got around to taking an extra hard drive, imaging it and sticking it in the dead TiVo.  The process was not simple due to an intersection of no UNIX knowledge and aversion to reading instructions but it worked.  The DirecTiVo is back up again! 

But wait… I had the unit disconnected for over a month and DirecTV no longer recognized it.  I could tune to the help channels but couldn’t get any real channels.  Every channel has the same message, call DirecTV, extension 722.  Crap!  It was Sunday night… there was no way DirecTV employees were going to be around to help me.  <sigh> Okay, time to break down and call DirecTV, wade through thousands of voice prompts and button presses only to get a “call us Monday” message.

Thank you for calling DirecTV.  For English press 1, para Espanol …
For faster service, please use our automated phone system for paying your bills or adding services.  If you have a 3 digit code or extension displayed on your TV, please press it now, if…
One moment while we check your configuration.  Please check your TV…

What?  I turn and look at the TV… the TiVo is reacquiring satellite data and then the picture shows up.  Freaking magical.  I dialed their automatic phone support, it recognized my caller ID, I input the code and it corrected the problem… no human required.  You see, this is the type of thing people like me in the software industry want to do, but it never quite comes out right and then you end up with things like the Comcast PVR (so Omar, can you record a new show yet without a reboot?).


I want, I want, I want!

Alright, you like racing but don’t have sponsors?  Does going fast get your blood going but your local constabulary has you on speed dial?  Will your mom not let you borrow the car?

Have no fear, the world of racing sims is here.  Home PCs and video game consoles are now up to snuff and can provide you with an in-home experience to rival that of your favorite arcade.  If, however, you are not satisfied with simply keeping up with the joneses and want to spray them with tire chum and leave them in your turbulence, pay attention, I’ve got the setup for you.

Gran Turismo 4 with a force feedback steering wheel?  Kid stuff.

Microsim Racebase with three 17” LCD monitors?  Go big or go home.

If you really want to go the full nine yards you need the Hexatech™ Racing Simulator.

The Hexatech™ experience is as close to a true race experience as you can get: Feel the real G-forces, battle the accurate force feedback steering and exact car dynamics.  All placed in a multiplayer arena.


Yep, this bad boy is a motion platform with a full 6 degrees of freedom.  There is enough articulation and power in the Hexatech to generate over 2 G’s of acceleration.  A Corvette with a good suspension setup and sticky tires can exceed 1 G on a good day (I’ll tell you for sure, that’s a ton of fun), so there’s no doubt that if you hook yourself into this racing sim you’re going to feel like you’re really there.  Combine the F1-like g-forces with 3 23” LCDs, THX surround sound and a bunch of other cool acronyms and you’ve got guaranteed adrenaline. Heck, if it can impress Jan Lammers it’ll be fine with me.

Are they allowed to do that?  Sure, FCS cut their teeth by making motion simulators for aircraft.  Spun off from Dutch aircraft company, Fokker, FCS has a ton of experience building high-end motion simulators.  Having the military as your customer tends to give you license to generate some really, really cool stuff.

And now for the bad news: you either need to fly to Six Flags in Holland or pony up $227,000 per station.  If, however, you have the bucks and roughly 8000 square feet of floor space you and 19 of your closest friends can get together for some real(ish) hard-core racing.  You are 100% less likely to die… you may, however, puke.
Check out FCS’s Hexatech site and be sure to watch the video.

Gear Hardware TV

Thank the tech gods

I know I could be considered a complete MS lackey (something about MS paying me has a bit of an influence in that) but I must confess… I really love my TiVo (both of them).  I purchased the first TiVo on my wife‘s insistence and never regretted it.  It is simple to use and packed with great features.  I also have a Windows Media Center and love the features of it as well (check out this post by Ed Bott for an superb comparison of the two devices) but was too cheap to buy a new PC and moved it away from the TV (hmm… keep using my 500MHz Celeron or steal the 3.2 GHz MCE form the living room no one is using?).


My fondness for the TiVo, I’ll admit, is partially an over-inflated wish for fair play.  TiVo was the first break the ground for the DVR/PVR market only to see their share of the market slowly be nibbled away by competition and cable/satellite providers offering cheaper (and arguably poorer) solutions.  When Engadget started their TiVo deathwatch my heart sank.  It’s so funny how we love to root for the underdog.


Thankfully Comcast and TiVo have worked out a partnership deal which will have TiVo writing the software for Comcast’s PVR boxes.  This great news will mean I won’t have to worry about replacing my TiVo boxes any time in the immediate future (and the stock market agreed, if only mildly).


Long live TiVo (but please go buy a Windows Media Center PC… it helps put food on my table :)).

Gear Weird

Pure security genius

Hey computer industry writers… you want to get geeks interested in your tech article?  Incorporate espionage into your gadget review.   Throwing in a reference to 007 or some other, handsome, non-geek-like, gadget-swinging spy is like rubbing bacon grease on dog treats, it’s really not necessary… but it really gets the dog excited and is a whole lot of fun to watch (there’s nothing more entertaining than nerd drool).

The latest thing that caught my eye was in an eWEEK Labs write up by Cameron Sturdevant of a new Mobile Edge bag:

Bluetooth Bunker Protects Devices
Taking a page from a spy novel, Mobile Edge offers stylish computer carriers with a Wireless Security Shield Pocket.

Gasp!  Spy novels?!?  Tell me more.

Taking a page from a spy novel, Mobile Edge offers stylish computer carriers with a Wireless Security Shield Pocket—made of radio-blocking material that forms a physical firewall between mobile devices and hackers or virus-infected Bluetooth devices—big enough to accommodate a PDA and a small cell phone handset.

My testing at eWEEK Labs proved that no radio signals penetrated the pocket, thus protecting my Bluetooth-enabled devices from possible viral infection just by being in close proximity to a compromised wireless device.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “My cell phone is small and portable… if I’m going out for the evening I don’t want to carry a briefcase just to protect my valuable cell phone.  There’s no way I’m going to show up on the red carpet at the Oscars carrying a huge bag!”

No worries.  Aditya and I are starting a new business based around our new, hacker-proof shield for your cell phone.  Our “Bluetooth bullet-proof vest” is small enough to fit in your pocket yet packed with enough radio-wave-blocking technology to keep out even the most advanced hackers.  Your new cell phone will be snuggled in, safely protected from all radio signals, ensuring your phone will never get a virus from another infected device.  As an added bonus our new product will also protect you from all the cancer-causing radio waves emitted by your cell phone.  Even if you don’t have a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone the health benefits of the “vest” are worth the investment.  Imagine the feeling of security that will wash over you, knowing that both you and your device are now totally protected from harmful cell phone RF.

Want to be one of the next generation of tech gazillionaires?  Get in on the ground floor with our new company!  Angel investors may submit proof of fiscal liquidity directly (no checks or credit cards please, just send cash in small, unmarked bills).

Gear Hardware

Even your camera can be teary eyed now

Imagine a lens for your camera phone that is very small and has no moving parts yet is still able to focus and zoom like the “huge” lens you already have.  French startup Varioptic has come up with a technology that makes zoom lens elements which have been shrunk down to a couple millimeters in size… but they say they’ll go smaller.

The technology is very cool.  They sandwich a couple of liquids of similar density into their element and move the edges of the liquid “bubble” by applying electrostatic pressure.  The surface tension forces the shape to bulge, focusing the element.  Clever.

Now maybe that Dick Tracy watch can really have a video phone!

Get the whole picture on this story at the register.


Two for the price of one

For a little bit of extra cash and a little bit of extra effort you can turn your one person PC into a two person PC.  It’ll be great… tell your friends you have a main frame (and then feel old when you have to explain what that is).  Head over to BeTwin for the goods.

Here’s the quickie details from Gadget Madness

Forget that low-profile dual-user system, take any Windows 2000 or XP PC, add a PCI video card (or just use a dual-head nVidia or ATI if you don’t mind a performance hit), a USB keyboard and mouse and install BeTwin. Thanks to Windows’ profile system and terminal services engine, as well as a bit of nouse from ThinSoft, you can have two people using the one PC. In fact, you can go up to five users if you can get hold of enough PCI graphics cards and USB hubs.  Unfortunately it doesn’t like my laptop’s dual-head adapter, but I will be trying this out on a machine as soon as possible.