Christmas Gadget Report

* Inc. — exceeded expectations. cheap and fun.
* Wii — exceeded expectations. The controller makes even simple games way fun. We just need more good games now — a good flying game would be fun.
* Sony reader. Great promise. The display looks really nice. The PC software is not horrible. The visual artifacts on page flipping are really annoying. But a great first attempt.

Hardware I Need To Get

* With Skype’s recent announce of free outbound calling, I should try one of the cordless handsets available
* A Washington-based PC Mfr focused on silent PCs — endpcnoise
* Rich is getting me excited about getting a higher end digital camera — shopping for the nikon d200, d200 vs 5d, canon lenses. I’ve been taking a lot of sports photos and am feeling the need for better zoom, faster shutter response.
* The ion usb turntable — cool. Though I only have 20 LPs left…
* GPS tracker. Not sure why I want this.

Hardware that is intriguing me

* Would love to deploy digital door locks but they just don’t match any of our hardware. My car has keyless entry now, so I am frustrated that the house does not.
* This hard-fi thing seems like vaporware but could be cool. I definitely would buy something that shortcuts the path from CD to ipod.
* Netgear’s home nas — i used to have a little snap nas — it didn’t last long and had perf issues. but maybe worth trying again.
* Wonder how the slingbox is selling.
* Picked up these altec lansing speakers last month and have been happy
* not a product but hackaday is a fun site for hardware projects

Gaming PCs

So rich looked at some gaming pcs recently — the big brands of alien, voodoo, and falcon nw. I’m in the market soon for a new pc and looked at their sites. On the way, A9 and Google pointed me towards some other contenders: Hypersonic in New York, and WidowPC in Texas — the Widow guys are particularly aggressive at trying to get gaming pc search traffic.

And PC Mag mentions ABS and Velocity Micro as options.

The Widow systems seem to have the most extreme config options. I’m tempted to try them.

Keeping up with Rich

As usual Rich has been a posting machine during the last month. Some of the highlights I’ve noted:

* Iceland travel. I hear they have some fantastic river rafting there. I’m ready to go. Just added to my 43places goals.
* Grilling resource — I can always use grilling tips.
* Rich’s small camera recos. I’m about due.
* Tips on HT PC setup — sounds like zoomplayer is essential.
* NTFS resizing tips. I am sure I will need these some day.
* Rich is playing FEAR. I think I need a new PC.
* Rich on Gaming PCs. Having bought 3 and bult 2 others, I am inclined to buy from Falcon Northwest for my next. Debugging the assembly of a high end machine with 2 SLI cards, 10K sata drives, raid arrays, fast dvd/cd drives — well it is just a lot easier to let the Falcon guys burn their time.

Podcast Recording Setup

Two recos on podcast recording setups:

* Rich’s recos — low end podcasting
* Dan Bricklin’s setup — higher end.

I haven’t done a podcast yet, and well, it just needs to get way easier and simpler than this if I am ever going to. I can’t see podcast creation ever becoming mainstream, certainly not at this level of complexity. Maybe if I could just talk to my cell to record a high quality podcast, i’d do it.

Hardware happenings

* Geez I am now like two generations behind on cooling technology — liquid metal coolers for pcs, liquid metal cooling for video cards. My cooling problem though is a little different — with 6 computers in 2 small rooms, plus printers, monitors, scanners, speakers, etc etc etc — my problem is room temperature, not pc temperature. No amount of liquid metal cooling is going to make my room cooler. I have installed a small Carrier single-room air conditioner to deal with the issue — so I guess that puts me at the bleeding edge of homes, not many have dedicated AC for computer rooms. So I salvage a little geek pride.
* I’d love to explore using these bifurcated computers as a heat solution. Put all the electronics in one room, and just run fiber to the I/O devices in another room.
* An interesting observation on home storage — gary asserts that home storage needs are surpassing busines storage needs. I guess this is not surprising, the video subsystem in PC is driven by consumer apps, not business apps, so why not storage? But gosh we need a consumer-friendly reliability and backup solution — RAID and tapes aren’t it.
* Gigapixel cameras are coming. OK it sounds like you need a small team of scientists, a truckload of equipment, and some incredibly expensive optics, so I guess we won’t see a Nikon Coolpix version soon. But hey that sounds like what it took initially to make a mainframe computer run and look where we are. Actually I don’t care that much about gigapixel cameras — but boy would I give an arm and a leg for gigapixel eyeglasses — realtime zooming in on images miles away would be handy.
* Have to get a Babble when they are available — “In essence, Babble turns you into a small crowd–and changes how other people hear your voice,” he added. “The result is that those outside your workspace cannot understand your actual spoken words.” . I can’t claim to need one but how cool.
* And this has nothing to do with PCs — but I need this weedburner. Why trim weeds when a flaming torch will do just as well? Actually this seems like a disaster in the making.

Hardware wish list

* Stompbox in-car evdo router. Hey kevin at benchmark motoring, this is what I want to do in my car. mobycar is another interesting in-car solution. (An interesting aspect is the crushing effect this is going to have on all the dedicated telematics plays — once we all have a hotspot in our car with evdo/umts routing back out to the net — who needs all the captive, controlled services from onstar, etc?)
* PC mods — Sunbeam 20-in-1 front panel, cooler quieter video cards,
* A PSP and this hack for controlling media gear. Oh and here is a whole roundup of psp hacks
* Slingbox — another way to serve up my video anywhere.
* And I’d like to set up a neighbornode, this seems totally cool.
* And an hdtv that prints — gosh I am always wanting printouts of tv pictures

Another way to listen to MP3s in the car

I got one of these power/fm transmitter thingies for christmas, and plugged a thumbdrive into it with a bunch of directories of mp3s. It is a very nice little solution, the sound quality actually seems better than my ipod/itrip combo. A couple of reflections:

* Man I wish there was a “bring your own storage” ipod. I’d love to be able to plug arbitrary storage into my ipod headend for a couple reasons — one the ability to upgrade my storage as i see fit (at much better prices than apple supports), two the ability to sync using normal file tools — the syncing in itunes is the worst part of the experience — slow and gets confused at times.
* this seems like a better podcasting solution than an ipod. I don’t plug my ipod into my pc every night, i sync it infrequently (probably because syncing is such a pain). I could easily stick my thumbdrive into the pc every night tho, especially if i could then use regular file utilities to create my syncing solution.

Random hardware roundup

* Olivier notes the problems you face when building a new SATA-based PC. Over the next 6 months this stupid problem is going to cause more floppy drives to sell out of Fry’s than any other reason. And many of them will be returned after one use. I’ve had to deal with this 3 times now, pain in the a&$.
* Crap I’ve had my ATI x800 installed for like a month now, and I am obsolete, I need the 850.
* The Falcon NW fragbox 2 looks like the perform form factor — a lot smaller than your standard mini-tower, but enough space to force in the latest video cards and some storage alternatives.
* $19 for 7.1 audio. Basically the soundcard market is almost dead, it is so cheap to get an amazing card now, and soon the processing will just get sucked back onto the main processor. Unlike video cards, we just don’t seem to have an inexhaustible need for ever better audio
* Miniprojectors. Certainly the projector market would benefit from technology introduction and price competition.
* ok getting odder and odder — this little rf adapter for wireless remotes seems cool — fits in where a battery normally goes — does it work??
* Interesting phone for outdoorsy types — walkie talkie and gps functionality

The Exploding PC?

Some great posts I’ve found on the disaggregation of the PC in the home — we aren’t moving to bigger and bigger PCs in the home, but to elements of the computing environment spread all around:

* Furrygoat summary and his external storage box. His main point is all about pulling storage out of individual PCs and making it a household-wide resource.
* From decafbad, these gumstix are very cool concepts, it would be nice if assembling computing at home was as easy as throwing a couple of these together.
* A more general post from decafbad about single purpose devices in the home.

All the most aggressive users of technology I talk to are moving to disaggregation of storage in the home, despite the current designs of pcs which generally don’t encourage this disaggregation.