Thursday, September 29, 2005

iPod nano: a must have?

I'm considering a nano purchase this week. After all of this time with my beloved 1st gen, 15GB Dell DJ, I may finally make the move. There's a couple reasons for this, and I'm curious if you agree or I should save my $249.

1. For me, smaller is better. The nano is much smaller and lighter than the DJ.
2. 15GB is nice, but I don't have that much music. 4GB ought to be fine.
3. Using the DJ as an external drive is clunky from a software and driver perspective.
4. I can eBay the DJ to offset the cost of the nano.
5. No iTunes support for the DJ.
6. I prefer a flash-based player over a hard-drive player. I already messed up one DJ when I used it on our tractor. Vibration = unhappy hard drive.


Am I missing something here? Are there any additional compelling reasons? What do you think? Should I wait to see if iTunes for Windows Mobile comes out instead?


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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Microsoft Windows Vista: day 1 is uneventful

So I added another partition to the Tablet PC last night. You didn't really think I bought the Ghost & Partition Magic bundle just for a backup strategy, did you? C'mon, I LIKE livin' on the edge! ;)

So far all I've done is to install the latest beta build. The install took 70 minutes and required minimal user intervention. In fact, all of the intervention was up front. As others have reported, the Tablet Input Panel floats on one side of the screen or the other. Not sure if I like that yet, but I'll play for a few days to see.

Right now the biggest impressions I have is that the look and feel is....well...."XP-ish". That and we're going to have to get some beefy graphics cards with plenty of dedicated memory in our notebooks. The new visualizations look to be fairly intense. Don't get me wrong; they're effective, but they are going to require some decent hardware for the full effect.

I haven't had much time to kick the tires just yet, but so far, it looks like most of the upgrade is under the hood. Time will tell.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I finally have a backup strategy

On a recent techADDICTION show, James and I were chatting about backup strategies and I realized I really don't have one. Ironic, isn't it? 15 years in the I.T. industry and you would think I'd have learned from other's mistakes. I finally decided to do something about it today.

I went out and purchased a Norton bundle of Ghost & Partition Magic. I needed Partition Magic because I need a place on my Tablet PC for the Windows Vista beta. In fact, I'm downloading Vista right now; can't wait! Ghost by itself was $70, but when bundled with Partition Magic, both were had for $99 minus a $20 mail-in rebate. Not a bad deal over at CompUSA.

I was planning on using my 15GB Dell DJ as my backup device since I always have it with me. The DJ is a little flukey though, while you can use it as a removable storage device, it seems to require certain software, so I decided to keep it simple and try something else. More after the jump....

I remembered that back in January, my son Tyler and I recycled a laptop hard drive. I dug around my spare parts graveyard and sure enough, I still have the USB drive! I've already Ghosted my Tablet image onto the small drive so I feel much better about re-partitioning the Tablet and installing Vista later.

One other aspect to my strategy is to see if I can take advantage of the bootable SD slot on my M205. I'd rather not carry any emergency disks or my Ghost CD if I can help it. I'd much prefer to boot from a small SD card since my Tab has the capability to do so! Has anyone tried this method?

I'll be doing incremental backups along the way now; likely every weekend, so I'm never too far out of whack if the Tablet goes belly up. That already happened once before and I don't feel like rebuilding again. The whole Ghost approach might also help with the lack of Tablet PC OS disks from the OEMs that James was speaking of a few weeks ago. Any thoughts?


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Palm Treo 700w: what apps won't work?

On the surface, most people will read this question and say "What you mean? It's going to run Windows Mobile 5.0 dummy! All apps compatible with that platform will work!" Yes, you'd be correct; well maybe not for the dummy part, but that remains to be seen! :)

What I mean is: what prominent applications won't run correctly on a 240 x 240 screen? The HP hw 6515 has a 240 x 240 screen, just like the Treo 700w will and there are some issues in terms of application compatibility and screen res. Most WM apps are designed for a 320 x 240 screen, or QVGA. Heck, that's the most prominent screen on the market, so that makes sense. Some apps also work on a 640 x 480 VGA screen (Oh how I love VGA on a mobile device!). So what about these square screens? There aren't a ton of square screen devices out there yet so what is the compelling reason for a developer to work in 240 x 240?

My guess is that we're going to see a bunch of top-notch apps that just won't play nice with the Palm Treo 700w. Some of the better software shops are likely creating updates for their apps so you can use them on a square screen. In the meantime, will we all be scrolling up and down for those extra 80 pixels?



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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hands on review of the Roku PhotoBridge HD!

If you have an HDTV set and are interested in streaming audio or video content to it, check out my hands on review of the Roku PhotoBridge HD1000 and Art Packs. I spent some quality time with the unit and wrote up my thoughts for HD Beat. There are plenty of pics and comments.

I'll also have the unit for a few more days, so shoot any questions to me and I'll try to get you the answers. Hey look! Barb and I are on HDTV, er....sort of.






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Treo 700w screen resolution

What an amazing week for Palm, Microsoft and Verizon. We finally got confirmation that there is indeed a Windows Mobile 5.0 Palm device and it will run on the Verizon Wireless network. The timing is perfect as I was just saying in our last CommuteCast podcast that I need a good SmartPhone. I love my Axim X50v, but my chunky and clunky phone has to go. The new Treo should be a perfect match for me, especially since I'm an EV-DO addict!

Tons of folks keep wondering about the screen res on the new device. Guess what folks: there are two and only two possibilities: 240 x 240 or 480 x 480. These were the only two screen resolutions supported on square screens when WM 2003 SE was born. WM 5.0 hasn't changed that as far as I know, so it's a 50-50 shot on the screen resolution.

My gut feeling tells me that the Treo will have a 240 x 240 screen. As much as I would like to see the higher res, this device will be pricey enough and a 480 x 480 would add a good premium. I also think that the first few folks that have actually seen the device would have noticed the clarity if it was 480 x 480. Since those who have actually seen the device haven't had an eye-popping experience with the screen, it's likely it's the lower of the two resolutions.


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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rita bears down on Texas coast

I'm working from home today and I wish I wasn't. I have The Weather Channel on right now and it looks like more gloom and doom for the Gulf Coast. Folks just can't get out of the Houston area fast enough due to massive traffic.

I'm very concerned for my good friend and techADDICTION co-host, James Kendrick, who is directly in the path of the storm. He's blogging his perspective on the storm and I recommend giving it a read for the insider view. Barb and I hope James, Sheri, the kids and the dogs are safe, along with all of their neighbors who are toughing it out. We'll be praying for y'all.



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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Google "grid" grows with WiFi

Hmm....Google rolling out WiFI. I guess we shouldn't be surprised. I downloaded the Google Secure Access Client which sets up a VPN connection. I also read the EULA and privacy policy. All of the security is done by going through Google gateways via the VPN. Ok, that's fine. So now Google will get ALL data from our network traffic and not just the data that goes through their page servers?

From the Privacy Policy:
We understand and respect that you are concerned about your privacy, that's one of the driving reasons why we created Google Secure Access. Using insecure networks, such as public wireless networks, can leave your internet traffic open to snooping by others in the vicinity of the wireless network. Google Secure Access helps address this problem by encrypting all traffic from and to your machine and passing it from the insecure network through a trusted gateway. If you choose to use Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted and sent through Google's servers to the internet, then received from those servers to be encrypted and sent back through our servers to your computer.


In fairness, later down in the policy Google indicates that they don't keep too much of that valuable info:

Google may log some information from your web page requests as may the websites that you visit. We do this to understand how Google Secure Access is being used and to improve our services. Google Secure Access does not log cookies and strips potentially sensitive query data from the end of requests to help better protect your privacy.


The "grid" continues to grow....




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Registration open for the LG VX9800

If you're looking for the phone they showed off at the MTV Video Music Awards, you can stop looking. The LG VX9800 for the Verizon Wireless network will be out next month, but you can register with Verizon for it starting today.

The 9800 is an EV-DO capable phone that has a side-flip design that hides a QWERTY keyboard. It's not a SmartPhone, so I don't see all that much use the keyboard once you get your contacts in the phone. Perhaps you can type URL's in easier? [Sorry, I just never got into TXT messages!] There is also the obligatory 1.3 MP camera as well as Bluetooth and a mini SD slot. Look for a price of $299 after a $50 rebate and a 2-year contract.



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Monday, September 19, 2005

It's official: EV-DO in 2006 Dell notebooks

UPDATE: Dave's iPAQ is reporting that HP has worked out an EV-DO deal in notebooks also with Verizon!

Computerworld is confirming what I heard earlier today. Dell is planning to integrate EV-DO, or high-speed celluar data connectivity into select notebooks. The built-in EV-DO card will work on the Verizon Wireless network. I've had EVDO from Verizon for about three months and I've accomplished so much more because of it. If you want to know what I mean, take a look at my "day in the life" post from this weekend.

Hopefully, this deal will do two things. First, I hope that bunches of folks sign up for the EV-DO service so the price begins to drop. I signed up in June for unlimited broadband at $79.99 a month. I put 2 GB through the service in my first month, so it's certainly worth it. Earlier this month, I was pleased to find that Verizon dropped the price to $59.99, which is a little more tolerable. Hopefully, we'll see a price in the $30 to $40 range within the next 6 to 12 months.

I also hope this deal expands to other PC makers. Wireless broadband is an amazing thing and I hate to hog it all! ;)


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Otterbox starts an otterblog...er, weblog

I love the Otterbox that I won from a Dave's iPAQ contest. The first thing I did when I got it was put a my Dell Axim X50v in and then submerge it underwater for three hours. Yeah, I live on the edge. The good news is: the Otterbox kept my baby dry as a baby's bottom. The even better news is: the fine folks over at Otterbox have joined the blogosphere! Here's an exerpt that sets the stage:

"What we would really like to do with this blog is create an open forum for our customers to talk about our products. Over the past few months we’ve gotten some great testimonials from divers, foresters, mountain climbers, students, soldiers, and others using our cases for their professional and recreational activities."


For you companies not paying attention: this is what you need to be doing! Open up a direct line-of-sight to your customers and then listen. James and I spoke about customer service in a previous techADDICTION show. I don't know if Otterbox was listening, but you can bet I'll be reading their blog. Welcome to the blogosphere Otterbox!




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techADDICTION Podcast #22

Welcome back to techADDICTION #22- We talk about mobile goodness from all walks of the tech world. This show had a TA first with a correction for something we said in error on the last show. JK is stalking Robin Williams, Kevin won’t say how his day is going and both of us are scratching our heads over the PalmSource deal. Enjoy the show and leave cards and letters on the blog and don’t forget to leave us a message on the techADDICTION Skype line.



00:00 Intro- James Kendrick & Kevin Tofel

Kevin’s blogging his typical day (he thinks we care so just go along with him on this)
iPod Nano error

04:20 Access buys PalmSource

Windows Mobile Treo

09:00 Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device



15:25 GeekPod 100 from batterygeek.net



21:00 Message from The Media Center Show



22:00 Fujitsu P1510D- now with Tablet Edition

Pictures on TabletPC 2

31:10 PocketPDF



34:30 Skype calls

Tim from Japan loves techADDICTION
Garry from Ohio teaches his wife how to use Skype
Len from Connecticut with backup advice

45:00 Wrap up



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Dell Latitudes to get EV-DO?

Yeah baby! Now that the EV-DO infrastructure has expanded, it's time to see EV-DO client proliferation! MobileTracker indicated early this morning that we could see an announcement from Dell about built-in EV-DO in some Latitudes. Looks like the deal is brokered with Verion Wireless, but we'll have to see.

If you don't think this is huge, think about how much built-in WiFi has provided mobile computing. Take the same concept and apply it to whole regions of the country. Can you hear me now? Good!


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Saturday, September 17, 2005

A day in the life of a blogger & podcaster

My good friend and techADDICTION co-host, James Kendrick, has previously written some great "day in the life" posts. James focused those posts on his primary mobile computing device to show how useful the unit is. I loved these posts as they were so effective in showing the benefits to the Toshiba e805 and Sony U-70 that James highlighted. I decided to do something similar, but take a different perspective. Rather than focus on a single device, my focus is to share a single day's worth of activities with several devices and technologies and bring perspective on the effort put in to weblogging and podcasting. It's more time consuming than people think but mobile technology makes it all happen. Here we go!

7:30 am: The SPOT Watch is beeping. I woke up with just 6 hours of sleep. I was up until 1:30 am working on some RSS issues for a website. Luckily I was comfortable until the wee hours of the morning because I was on my couch using my Toshiba M205 Tablet PC via the 802.11g WiFi network in the house. Time for a shower and some coffee.

Continue with me on my day after the "Read More!" jump.


8:15 am: My son and I jump into our Highlander Hybrid vehicle to attend his soccer game. Barbara and Sydney head to swim lessons, so we're going separate ways. On the way, Tyler likes to watch the navigation map and asks if we can use the nav system on the way home so he can hear the car talk to him. We stop at WaWa to get me a cup of coffee that I pay with by swiping my debit card at the register. No cash for me; it's a digital world!

9:00 am: Tyler is playing soccer while I'm on the sidelines with the Tablet PC. I fire up my EVDO card so I can get my mobile broadband connection from Verizon Wireless. I check some statistics on websites and respond to a few e-mails while watching the game. I also check some RSS feeds in Onfolio to get some blog ideas for later today. Meanwhile, Tyler's mom decides she wants to buy a laptop, so we do some shopping at HP.com. No purchase yet, but we narrow down some choices.

9:20 am: I do my lead blogger duties over at HD Beat and activate a previously written post.

9:55 am: I fire up another web browser window in the Firefox Beta 1 of v 1.5 and get ready to buy some concert tickets for Keith Urban. These go on sale in 5 minutes.

10:04 am: I've got two good seats for the show and the printable tickets are already in my e-mail.

10:15 am: We're back in the Hybrid where I choose "Home" as our destination. I have it saved in memory so I don't have to type it again and again. The pleasant sounding woman starts talking and I follow her directions. Tyler thinks the nav system should show us all of the other Hybrids on the map so we can wave to them when they pass us. He'll be addicted to RSS feeds within a year, I predict.

10:45 am: The Hybrid is dirty so we re-route the nav system to the nearest car wash and do another cashless transaction.

11: 15 am: It's an early lunch for me. No real tech involved, but as I read through the weekend paper retail ads over lunch, I start to think about how many of these retailers have RSS feeds? I can have the ads delivered to me and even use Onfolio to filter for specific products only. What a time saver. Looking through the ads on televisions gets me thinking of an HD Beat post.

11:50 am: Lunch is done so before I start "work" on my day off, I check stats for various websites I contribute to. I also look for updated stats based on the RSS work I did last night (or was it early this morning?) to make sure everything tests out OK.

12:30 pm: I jump on the couch with the Tablet PC and pound out a good post for HD Beat on how the HDTV market could bring back the TV repair industry.

12:45 pm: Oh no! I forgot that I took digital pics of the touchscreen in the Highlander Hybrid for that blog. Heh, I actually took the pics while driving yesterday! Time to write up a post and insert the pics.

1:00 pm: I run upstairs to the desktop to check our techADDICTION Skypeline. I pick 3 VMs and e-mail them to James, which will send a copy to my Tablet as well. I grab the VMs on the Tablet and insert them into OneNote, which I use to gather thoughts for the podcast.

1:45 pm: I've got my thoughts down in OneNote and send them to James. Time for a microphone check in Skype, which we use for the techADDICTION show. The Plantronics DSP-400 USB mic is working well.

2:20 pm: James and I start to record techADDICTION #22 over Skype with MixCast. James has already imported the Skype VM clips and our show music.

3:20 pm: While we're doing techADDICTION, I get an e-mail from another HD Beat writer, R.J. He tells me he has a post ready to go, so I paste it in Word for a spell check. Looks good, so I publish the post while finishing up the podcast. What would I do with out my Tablet PC and wireless network?

3:40 pm: techADDICTION is done, but the work doesn't stop. James takes off to do the post-production work and I hit the web to research some other things for our podcast. I fire iTunes up to listen to some music over the Plantronics while I'm working.

4:00 pm: It's nice outside, so rather than be cooped up, I set up the Tablet in a shady spot. The WiFi doesn't quite reach, so it's back to EVDO connectivity. No reboot needed, just a dial out using Verizon's included software for EVDO. I switch from iTunes to Nascar.com so I can listen to the MRN broadcast of the Craftsman Truck race while I work. Sweet!

4:45 pm: My podcast follow-up research is complete. Time for a 15 minute break, which for me is relaxing and reading an eBook on my Dell Axim X50v. I try to find the time to read one book a week and usually succeed because I take the Axim everywhere; even to the rest room. When I don't have a good book, I catch up on some digital magazines with Zinio Reader on my Tablet. Ooh! This month's PocketPC Mag just came in on Zinio, cool!

4:50 pm: My reading break has to get cut short. I just got an RSS notification that Acer has a new LCD HDTV on the way with wireless media streaming built in. Gotta write it up for HD Beat!

5:05 pm: The Acer post is up. 15 minutes: not bad. Back to my book. Oh wait: college football in HDTV. Time to sit in front of the widescreen for a while!

7:15 pm: I see that techADDICTION 22 is in the queue to go "live". I always like to preview the show notes that James does and they look great as usual.

7:30 pm: While I'm scanning my latest RSS feeds on technology and HDTV, I fire up iTunes and sure enough, techADDICTION 22 is on the way! We just finished recording the show four hours ago and already it's out there for the world. Awesome.

7:40 pm: A quick check of HD Beat stats as well as personal blog stats and now it's time for a late dinner. Time to hibernate the Tablet for a quick start up later.

8:10 pm: Dinner is over and cleaned up; time to wake up the Tab and check e-mail. There's one from R.J. informing me he's got a post on Microsoft IPTV. A few quick grammar fixes and I activate his post. I'm doing the editing as I listen to rest of today's podcast. Sounds good.

8:25 pm: It's time to call it a day. Some final browsing of sites that I found while reading RSS tech feeds and I'm done by 8:30.

That's it. Just another simple day off for a blogger and podcaster. I say "day off" because it's Saturday. If you want a really crazy day, just pick a weekday when I try to cram all of this (and more) while taking kids to school, working my day job and trying to spend some time with Barbara. Not as easy as it sounds, but somehow, we in the blogosphere make it happen every day.

It wouldn't be possible without the many technologies that help us work efficiently and without the support of significant others that never seem to get enough of our attention. I hope you enjoyed this "day in the life" post; please be sure to let me know what you think.


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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Is Microsoft building Gadgets or Widgets?


Over at PDC, they're kicking off a new Microsoft site for Gadgets. Here's an excerpt from the site:
What are Gadgets? Gadgets are a new category of mini-application designed to provide information, useful lookup, or enhance an application or service on your Windows PC or the Web. Examples might include a weather gadget running on your desktop or on your homepage, an RSS Gadget that pulls in your favorite feeds, or an extension of a business application providing just-in-time status on the pulse of your business.
There are three types of Gadgets: Gadgets for Windows Sidebar, Gadgets for Start.com, and Gadgets for Windows SideShow.

Now, just for fun, I want you to play a little web-based "Mad Libs" and replace all of the bolded words with your choice from the following list:
  • Widgets
  • Google Sidebar
  • Konfabulator
  • Apple
  • Yahoo
What do you think? How does this breaking story sound now?


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Monday, September 12, 2005

eBay outbid me for Skype

I thought Skype was only worth $2.5 billion, so eBay got 'em for $2.6 billion. I didn't have any stock shares to offer either, so that didn't help me with the deal.

I can't say I'm surprised that Skype was bought, but I'm outright dumbfounded as to the value. We're talking about a company with $7 million in 2004 revenues, $60 million in expected 2005 revs, and $200 million forecast for 2006. Clearly, it's not the current financial rewards that brought a ton of cash, so it must be synergies in eBay, PayPal and Skype that, when combined, will bring a huge future cash flow and remove barriers to consumers of the company's services.

The most important part of this deal to me is: the telecoms need to take note and embrace VoIP solutions such as Skype. Yes, it used to be that voice services were cellular and landline territory. Now that we've got a data infrastructure between broadband and 3G wireless, you can carry data AND voice. Don't shortside yourselves by ignoring the Skype phenomenon; instead, find a way to integrate it with your current offerings. If you don't think you can do that, you won't be around in 5 to 7 years.


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Can a TabletPC act as a TV remote?

I've wondered about this for some time for a couple of reasons. When I'm on the couch in front of the TV and using my Tablet in it's "slate" configuration, the IR port is directly facing the TV. That got me thinking about this since there are several PocketPC applications that provide remote control functionality. The Tablet's larger touchscreen seems like it could display a killer remote interface.

I've done some digging for an out-of-the-box solution, but came up empty. The closest I could find were applications from Promixis (shown to the right) and Meedio; they either need more configuration or they require some external type of IR device, such as a USB UIRT.

Is it a Windows XP limitation that won't allow remote control software to use the IR port directly? If so, that doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps the IR ports aren't "consumer grade?" I know there has to be something out there for what I want to do: can anyone help?


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Sunday, September 11, 2005

techADDICTION Podcast #21

It's techADDICTION time again!

We had an Apple session with discussion of Apple’s recent announcements of the nano, RoKR phone, and Harry Potter comes to iTunes. If you can afford it, that is. WiFi cameras, backup solutions and Ian Dixon on Channel 9. It’s all here on techADDICTION. Comments welcome and call the Skype line as we love to hear from you. Enjoy the show!


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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Highlander Pic goes to Mirror Project

Wow, I completely forgot about "The Mirror Project" and my good friend Paul reminded me of it when he saw the pic I took for our podcast. This is the picture we're using as the cover art for the show since we now record it while driving the Highlander Hybrid.

Catching myself in the pic was completely inadvertant but was a good fit for The Mirror Project. If you're not familiar with the project, check it out and snap a unique pic of yourself in some reflected surface. Then, just name it, write up a description and submit it. There are some incredible photos in the project too, so browse away! Thanks for the head's up, Paul; I need to read your blog more often!


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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

You would think Apple invented the flash drive

Yes, the big news of the day is that the Apple iPod Mini is gone and that the iPod Nano is here. Oh, and the ROKR phone that works with iTunes is out too.

So what's the big deal? Yes it's small and thin and light. Yes it works with iTunes. Guess what, it's a flash drive based player. Sure it's got a large audience, but all this hype? What ground is Apple breaking here?



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Friday, September 02, 2005

New Hybrid site

No, we're not building a network of blogs here. ;) However, Barb and I thought we could build a little community site for Toyota Highlander Hybrid owners, so we just put one together.

Check it out if you're looking for our hybrid experience!


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Ultimate mobile technology

Talk about wonderful timing. Just as the gas prices really began to spike, our 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid arrived at the dealership. Barb and I traded in the 2001 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab, which was only getting 13 miles per gallon. The new Hybrid should get about 30 miles to gallon and has a cruising range of about 525 miles.

So far, we've driven 100 miles on less than a quarter tank of gas, averaging 29.7 miles per gallon. This is right in line with what the EPA estmiates of 27 highway and 31 city.

Over the next few weeks, Barb and I will be blogging about our experience. There are just TONS of amazing technical features in the vehicle. This is the first time I've truly appreciated a vehicle not just for it's mechanical ability, but for it's "smarts" as well, since the entire hybrid system is computerized.

If anyone has any specific questions about the vehicle, please drop us a note and we'll give you our opinion. We will also be firing up the CommuteCast podcast and do some recordings in the vehicle itself.


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Thursday, September 01, 2005

New Skype beta has Call Forwarding

You read that correctly: version 1.4.0.47 of Skype forwards calls to a number of your choosing when you are not on-line.



Between EVDO and my WiFi network, I generally am on-line a majority of the day. It's nice to see that I can still catch Skype calls when I'm off-line too. Forwarded calls are billed at normal SkypeOut rates.



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