Tuesday, May 31, 2005

iRiver FM AFT-100 Transmitter

I've had a lot of FM transmitters over the years; some that plug in, most using batteries, but none have been very good. So needless to say I've been reluctant to purchase a new one for my car, to go along with my newly mounted PDA, especially with the big-little external drive filled with MP3’s, and TV shows. (For when I’m stopped, of course)

I took some time too look at a few of them, and decided that a must have feature was digital tuning. The one that I had previously was a good old analog one that I think I got from WAL-MART a number of years ago, and now I won’t set foot into that place, albeit for reasons other than the suck factor of the FM transmitter. Now when I got the old one it was fine, but in the time since, it has developed a symptom typical to many analog transmitters. It has a dial and coil setup, that doesn’t hold the tuning very well, or for very long. Since the digital tuners use a crystal, and circuitry to set the frequency they are far more reliable.

Then it came down to the choice of battery, or plug in. This was probably the easiest decision to make. At first, I figured that a battery powered device was superior because of greater flexibility, and I could use it anywhere; but then I realized that the car was the ONLY place that I would use the thing. I mean, who doesn’t have some other, arguably better, way of playing music in every other place we go? Problem solved; plug-in it is.

And now for the brand, I immediately thought of Belkin as I’ve had many products from them in the past, and they do have a plug-in FM-T, that also can work on batteries, so I could have the best of both worlds. But, then I thought back to my last point, why go half way, and do I really want to spend 85 bucks on a way to listen to my tunes on my car stereo? I’ve heard good things about it but, $$ is always a factor, especially since I saw on the site over at the Best Buy, a plug in one for $50, and it’s from the company that made my great little MP3 player. So great I thought save some cash, and get one more what I need. On my way to get this after a graveyard shift, I got there before the place opened, so I hopped on their open hotspot, and virtually shopped around. They haven’t blocked out the new site address for what was RadioShack here in Canada, now owned by Circuit City. That’s when I stumbled upon this little gem, the iRiver AFT-100, a slick little black unit, with a blue backlit LCD screen, big enough to be read easily, but still not bulky. I’ve also had products from iRiver, and figured I’d give the sexier of the two plug-in units a go.

I’m glad I did, the audio quality is fantastic, and it sounds as good as when I use headphones. The front of the unit is silver and blue, with three preset memory buttons, and two tuning buttons. The tuning range is from 88.1MHz to 107.9MHZ, and with three presets interference is all but a thing of the past. I’ve lived with this for a couple of weeks, and have had no problems, with the obvious exception of losing my power point in my car, but that was remedied by getting a splitter that allows me to also plug in my PDA, for non-stop play.

Now I'm off to grab a “podcast” or two for the way home.

Until next time,


Saturday, May 28, 2005

And to think I was going to get an iPod

Today, by courier, I got my brand new USB host cable for my Toshiba e750.


I love this thing. I was going to upgrade to the e833 a while back, but then I found out that I can overclock this aluminum bad-boy to a stable 708MHz, I can go even higher but it REALLY sucks back the juice.

Last week I again got the urge to upgrade, sure the speed is great, but I want the sexy, sexy VGA screen, with landscape. But, then I thought let's give the silver surfer one more kick at the can with the host cable, and if it doesn't work right, THEN I'll stop talking myself out of getting the new one.

At first I thought to my self... Why the hell do the always ship these things in giant boxes, and then after the Purolator guy skedaddled, I turned the box around, and found one severely crushed corner, and sides. Thanks, for the giant box Toshiba, since the box for the cable was about 1/15th the size of the shipping box, all was cool.

First thing I did was pry open the box, and pull out the cable its black, about 9" long, and looks just like the USB sync cable, except the end connector is female.

By now you're probably wondering why I would be so excited about a USB host cable. Well, last week I found an old, 2.5" laptop HD, (it pooched in the laptop it once was in), and took a long shot by getting an external drive enclosure for it (
WELLAND ME-930U2), and it worked. Igor really earned his pay that day. Since the drive is 12 gigs that meant that I could have a 12 gig drive that looks like it was meant for my PDA, same style, and same color LED's too.

Now, I've got these two sweet devices next to one another all the cables are plugged in, and then... nothing happens... beep, beep... What's this could it be working... NOOOoooo... What driver are they talking about?!? That'll teach me to not do me research BEFORE ordering things. I have no idea what the driver is called, so naturally I turn to the box the cable came in... Nothing but a statement of compliance for the EU of all places, and I live in Canada!

At this point I'm thinking I should have gone with the e833... crap...

But, after a moment of combined buyer's remorse, and self loathing, I turned to the trusty Pr0n filled inter-weeb, if I can't find the drivers out there, at least I can be amused for a bit. Now keep in mind that I've just got off of a graveyard shift, did some banking, and drove for an hour to get home, then sat around veging out while watching the previous night's AotS, and X-Play that I had on my PVR from while I was sleeping before work, all this before the cable arrived. I'm tired.

I thought, I’m sure that this is a pretty obscure thing out there, and I was pretty much right. I found one site with some alpha stage drivers for PPC2002, and some REALLY alpha ones for PPC2003 (the one I have), which it warns that it WILL stop working after 15 minutes, with no warning. No luck getting them to work. Then I tried some 3rd party drivers from an external drive site, still no luck. Finally I found the ones that I needed at http://www.ratocsystems.com/ (incase you're looking for them too).

Praise the inter-weeb, for it has saved the reputation of this tiny little cable! But then I found out that it needs me to connect to my PC, and I just set my laptop to hibernate... crap... after the disappointment of the first 2 attempts, I thought lets just get some sleep, and try later.

6 hours later I'm off to work, 6 hours later, I decide to give it a go. It worked. 13.5 gigs’ for my little PDA and it looks great to boot, what could be better? Well, Bluetooth, but whatever, I don't have anything else BT enabled. So really, what do I care?

Now that I've got my modded cell phone holder to hold my e750 in my car, along with it's brother the actual cell phone holder, and iRiver FM transmitter (I'll write up a review for that later), I figured that I needed to geek out the whole way, and I setup my ASUS 333g mini router/WiFi Ethernet adapter in my car as an open network, so I can sync everything wirelessly... With my car!!!

So if you're in the Calgary-Strathmore area, and you see a red Sebring driving around turn on your WiFi, and you just might catch some streaming audio/video, or a wireless LAN-party going on between the passengers.

See you around town.


Thursday, May 12, 2005


I'm normally an evening/night person, but these graveyard shift, plus all the things that I need to get done outside of work everyday, are really starting to get to me.

I'm going to see if more work will keep me busy enough to stay awake. 'Cause the coffee isn't cutting it anymore.

Any suggestions? PLEASE, feel free to provide them.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Widgets, Widgets, everywhere

I've really started to play with Dashboard in Tiger. And this little entry is being written, and published with the Dash Blog widget.

I like OSX. It's sexy. But I'm not finding this upgrade to be really that big a deal. i'm glad that we went in for the "FAMILY PACK" and it only costs us a measly $50CAD each, not too shabby for a leagally obtained OS upgrade. (Microsoft I hope you're listening)

Some of the additions to OSX are cool, like Spotlight. Everyone is really touting Spotlight as the biggest new feature, (and not the infamous Microsoft kind), but I got the same results with QuickSilver, and I liked it much better. For an OS that's really all about the eye candy Spotlight is pretty bland. BTW I still use QuickSilver over Spotlight.

And the other one is Dashboard. I'm already using this one everyday. Now this is kind of like having a "virtual desktop" that you can have all of your little common programs running that are a little fun or just generally helpful, like the weather widget, (although I still can't get this one to work).

So far, I'm happy with my little Mac Mini, and the subsequent Tiger upgrade, but I'm upset that I had to go back to using my analog monitor because the DVI output caused red or green "static" on the monitor when there was motion on screen. And the bloody "Home/End" keys just don't work the way they should, no matter what keyboard I use. Not deal breakers, but I'm not as pleased with Apple as I was hoping I would be.

I just wish my Windows machine would come with the ability to say the time, out-of-the-box. Very cool, and freaks out people the first time they hear it.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

I hate when people mess with my stuff.

I had written a decently long post here but Firefox decided to pooch on me, and the recover post "feature" didn't work. So, here's the short-ish version:

Last night a co-worker was messing with my stuff. Specifically my new "Dead Like Me" (fantastic show) box set. I nicely asked him twice to put it down ... He didn't. I then told him to put the damn thing down, and he got all offended and pissy, acting like it was all a joke. I told him to ask next time and I'd be cool with it, and he promised to. Problem solved.

Now I've got to deal with bigger fish trying to mess with me, (and every other person here). I work for TELUS a HUGE company, with a HUGE union (the TWU). Last week TELUS took a "lockout" action, which basically limited administration crap, but let us then see the proposed contract from them. The TWU got all pissy, and had a big meeting advising us members of the "Real" situation. Come on guys just by saying the exact opposite thing that the company is saying does not make it true, but I digress. I wasn't there because I was home getting some sleep after working my graveyard shift, and 2 hours of OT, to cover the inadequate scheduling, (done by union members I might add), but many of my fellow co-workers did attend.

What they brought back to us nocturnes, was quite dismaying. The big one was that during the press conference to be held on Monday @ 10AM PST, the president of the union, (technically a management position that still gets paid the same if we are on strike, or not) will outline the response of the union. During this clarification, it was mentioned that he is '99% sure' that a strike will be called at that press event. That is if he doesn't change his mind, but that would never happen; I mean elected people don't flip-flop. Do they?

Either way I really hope both TELUS and the TWU get their respective heads out of their respective asses, and work this out... Hopefully in an entirely civilized fashion. This will hurt both sides; us on strike for a max. $250/week, not able to make all of the bills each month, and the managers working 12-16 hour days to fill in, and not spending any time with their loved ones.

Despite what both sides are saying, they ARE both to blame. Both are showing themselves to be greedy, self-serving, and egotistical. At least I expected that from the company, it's what they're supposed to do, make money. And for this they are being accused of being "American-Style" when dealing with the employees, and that's just because they showed us their proposal. I thought all companies were trying to make money, not just American ones; or maybe I've just missed that I've been living in a Utopian communist state, where everything is perfect, and money doesn't matter.

Now to both of you I say: "Stop messing with my stuff!"