Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Of iPod, BMW, and Bluetooth

Apple and iPod have announced that selected new Beemers now have a plug in the glove compartment for your iPod (see it here). The iPod connects in the glovebox and then you can play it by using the radio controls in your car. As cool and exciting as this is, and as much as I would like to think that I am going to eventually get an ipod - I know that unless I win the lottery or work for BMW USA, I will probably never own a BMW.

That aside - this is a step in the right direction, but no-where near a good solution. Last October, I saw Microsoft's Peter Rinearson show a demo of microsoft's Knowledge Management Vision. In a video he showed, some guy gets into his car, chucks his PDA on the passenger seat, and the car recognizes it, and proceeds to play his voicemail. That of course is the other extreme, but I think that we can combine the above chocolate and peanut butter into a peanut butter cup of our own - why not create bluetooth enabled stereos in cars that can :

a) Allow you to access and play music on similarly equipped MP3 players using the cars' stereo
b) Playback music on a bluetooth headset (or multiple channels - so I can listen to Howard while my kids listen to the The Wiggles).
c) Synchronize wirelessly with My PC

Steve Jobs wants to dictate the industry, and seems to be doing something like this with his new Airport Express - Steve, are you listening?

Friday, June 18, 2004

Wartraining, part 2

So I wartrained again last night, and although for the most part, I didn't find anything, my train did get delayed in the Bronxville area (A tony suburb of NYC) and I picked up 5 or 6 addtional hotspots. I guess the limited range of 802.11 and the speed at which the train travels (between 50-60 mph on average) is not condusive to getting good wi-fi signals. In my previous post on the subject, I only found APs at 125th street, maybe due to the fact that that was the only place where we stopped?

What's more, I got a ride with a neighbor who was taking someone else home as well, and picked up 22 APs while driving around the neighborhood. Some quick and interesting stats:

15 were made by linksys
10 or so still had the default SSID with no WEP encryption
14 (2/3) didn't have WEP encryption at all
4 turned off SSID broadcasting

I don't think that any of this is surprising. An interesting comparison though, while warwalking my work neighborhood (Chelsea in NYC), I found about as many hotspots on a single city block

Thursday, June 10, 2004

My project didn't work, so I am going a different route

I didn't have much success with my Receiver project - the receiver is always tempermental when you first bring it online. So I decided to take a different approach. I am going to sell my 'upgrade' equipment, and use it to buy a Prismiq Media Player or a Roku Labs HD1000. These devices will let me play video, digital images, and music on my pc over my wi-fi network on my living room tv. I am leaning towards the prismiq, because it is cheaper, and it also let's you surf the net and IM directly from your TV. We'll see how it goes.


My ideal pc

I look at the proliferation of highly-portable, harddrive based MP3 players and small but powerful handheld computers. The average pocketPC now has a 400MHz processor - roughly the processing power of the desktop computers of 3 years ago. As functional as a laptop is, I wonder if the ever-increasing miniturization of these devices is going to bring back the concept of the "Brick" computer. I am referring to the Ergo brick, which if memory serves was a miniaturized PC with a small form factor that, although it didn't have its own screen, was easily transportable and could connect to a keyboard, mouse and monitor. Imagine a device like this:

- Moderate speed processor - say 1GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- 40 GB HDD
- USB 2.0 and firewire ports
- Bluetooth and Wi-fi (G/B) built-in
- The form factor of an iPod, but a little thicker
- a 4-inch LCD touchscreen
- a headphone jack

This will give me a PDA with large capacity that I can also use to download images from a Digital Camera, store and listen to MP3's and videos. By using bluetooth or wi-fi I could either use it to play back its contents over an Entertainment center - by means of a docking station or dock it to a keyboard monitor and mouse and make myself a PC.

It seems that OQO knows what I am talking about.


I know you've heard of Wardriving, Warwalking, even Warflying - three methods of scoping out various Wi-Fi access points around the globe. Last night I tried Wartraining - i.e. running an anaylsis program on my PC to discover wireless hotspots while riding on a train.

So I turned my laptop on while riding home on the Metro-North Commuter Railroad home from NYC to white plains. I wasn't sure what to expect, but in all, I only discovered 3 APs - two seemed to be average joes with linksys routers - in fact they didn't seem to have changed any of the defaults. I also discovered a pretty strong signal at around 125th street that actually was detecable beond the river. The SSID was NYCHA (maye the New York City Housing Agency?) and it was protected with WEP. My guess is the NYCHA has staffers with wireless devices servicing the projects that it manages. Once NYCHA dissapeared just a minute or two north of the east river, I didn't turn up a single hotspot until getting off the train. I wonder if speed had anything to do with it? (White plains is about 25-30 miles north of the city, and the trip is about 35 minutes, so figure about 45 mph is the average speed of the train, but if you take out the stops, its closer to 50 or 60 mph). From a more practical note, once you leave the city (for the most part) , the distance to most buildings from the tracks is generally a couple of hundred feet - reaching the distance limits that standard off-the-shelf wi-fi units are capable of handling. I guess from that angle, any train would be in a similar situation - which makes wartraining all that much less appealing.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Webcam is Back

I finally have my webcam back up and running. You can see it here

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Spammers Suck!

I have suddenly been getting a rash of people posting all kinds of wacky comments. I think that I will disable them for a while in the hopes that they go away.