Archive for October, 2009

Google crushes yet another technology with free Maps

October 28th, 2009 No comments

Fresh off the press from Engadget, we have news that Google will be releasing a huge update to their Maps application when they release Android 2.0. The featureset is pretty impressive – turn-by-turn, traffic updates, voice nav, satellite views, street view routing, and a very clean interface.

This is huge, and puts a lot of pressure on the nav manufacturers to come up with compelling reasons to buy a standalone device to do turn-by-turn navigation, especially at high end price points. I give them maybe another year (two at most) to find a way to justify their existence or they’re toast. In two years, smartphone OS’s and processors will be powerful enough to allow both phone calls and navigation simultaneously while playing back music. Too bad the Nuviphone didn’t come out two years ago. It would have given the nav companies a fighting chance to develop their technology to a point where they could have competed. (Of course, hooking their star onto Microsoft was probably a boneheaded move too but there really weren’t many choices at the time so I’ll forgive them that.)

This move puts even more pressure on Apple. The Google Maps app on the iPhone is probably one of the most heavily used (it vies with email in terms of use for me personally). Now Apple’s faced with having a high-use mapping application that is a generation behind what’s available on Android. It’s quite possible that iPhone OS4 will remove the Google Maps app with an Apple-built alternative but that will be a version 1.0, and will probably not be as fully fleshed out as GMaps. And the expectation will be that Apple will provide an app that is at least as good as Google’s as part of the OS because, let’s face it, if I gotta pay $200 for an iPhone on contract, and then another $100 for TomTom’s nav app, I’d rather give my $200 to Verizon and Droid. Apple needs to lose the anti-multitasking religion right quick and figure out a way to do it efficiently and soon.

I highly recommend checking out the Engadget site to see the video and the press pics. The video demo of the alternative UI that pops up when the device is docked, plus the voice recognition capability, is pretty damned impressive.



If you’re TomTom or Garmin?  I hope you sold your stock before today.

Categories: Android, iPhone Tags:

Please Android – give me hope

October 28th, 2009 No comments

I don’t want to get my hopes up.  I was so disappointed by the Palm Pre and I was not terribly impressed with iPhone 3.0  But I watched the promo vid for Google’s Android 2.0…

And I gotta say that I’m liking what I’m seeing. Oh please dear lord don’t let me be disappointed yet again. I gotta renew my two year ball-and-chain with the iPhone in July 2010, and it’s probably going to come down to a choice between iPhone 4G running OS4.x and an Android phone running Cupcake Eclaire 2.x. And I really really really wanna choose the Android OS because I’m getting pretty sick of the Apple monolith.

I think I’ve downloaded roughly 200 apps since I’ve owned the iPhone. I’ve paid for probably 40%-50% of those, maybe more, I’m not sure cause the App Store makes it so easy to buy junk you don’t need. Of those apps, I use maybe 10 on a regular basis. Maybe. Might be as few as 5, depending on how you define regular use. So it makes absolutely no difference to me that Apple has 100K apps in the store. I’m never going to know about 99% of those apps, and of the ones I do know about, I’ll want to try maybe 5% of them. And here’s where the sheer inertia of Apple’s store comes into play. Too many choices that people will never ever find out about. It’s like going to the local convenience store and standing in front of the drinks fridges. You have 50 kinds of ice tea, 90 kinds of soda, 30 different bottled waters – how many of those choices do you actually consider or even know about?

Transfer Your Mobile Number to Google Voice

October 27th, 2009 1 comment

Transfer Your Mobile Number to Google Voice

Transfer Your Mobile Number to Google Voice

I’ve been using Google Voice since it was owned by Grand Central. It is a great platform for managing free calls, SMS, and contacts with intelligence. Now Google Voice lets you port your mobile number from your carrier to Google as well. This way, your voicemail is accessible from the cloud. By allowing Google Voice to manage my voicemail, it solves my issue with AT&T which prevents me from receiving voicemail notifications. Once you receive a voicemail, you can be alerted a number of ways by transcribed email or SMS text messages.

Google Voice can let you have a single phone number that automatically rings to your mobile, work, home and other phones based on rules and settings. For example, calls from your kids will ring all numbers while office related contacts only ring your work number.

The process to move your carrier number to Google Voice requires a few steps. However, it is very worth it in the end.

Via TechCrunch

Solar UFO

October 26th, 2009 No comments

I came across these interesting little guys a few weeks ago. Solar powered water purifiers being used in Osaka Japan to keep the canals clean, as well as the moat around Osaka castle.
Trust me, they need it.


These Solar UFOs have been built by Tokyo-based engineering group NTT Facilities. They pump fresh oxygen into the water and spray clean water out of a nozzle at the top of the craft. They can purify 2400 gallons of water each day.
And at night they are lit up with LEDs. Some people may think they’re an eyesore, but they are way better than brown smelly polluted water.


Categories: Funny, Green Technology Tags: , ,

Self heating boots

October 23rd, 2009 No comments

Living in Texas I probably would never have a use for these, but anyone that lives north of us and has weather that actually provides snow and below freezing weather for longer than five minutes a year will probably appreciate these a whole lot. Just this past January I was reminded just how much suck can be brought to an otherwise awesome snowboarding adventure because your socks are wet and starting to freeze your toes.


As the blogger at Wired already noted, the name for these battery powered self heating boots is just awful. The Bugathermo, ugh! The women’s version, imo, is even worse. The Snow Hottie. But regardless, they look pretty awesome. I personally would prefer the men’s to the women’s just based on style alone (you’d be amazed how often that happens… sometimes I wonder just what exactly designers think women really like).

Made by Columbia Sportswear, the boots are powered by rechargeable lithium polymer batteries that will give you four to eight hours of heat depending on which level you pick. They have insulated soles, are waterproof and breathable so your feet will be both warm AND dry down to -25°F. And for around $250 I’d say it’s an excellent investment.

Via Wired’s Gadget Lab

Categories: OutDoors, Travel Tags: , ,

iPhone to roam free?

October 22nd, 2009 No comments

There’s a post on MacWorld’s iPhone Central that indicates AT&T is going to lose iPhone exclusivity.  If that turns out to be true, then most likely this means T-Mobile will get the iPhone sometime in late 2010/early 2011.  Given that Verizon has screwed the pooch by releasing the Droid commercial, I highly doubt that Jobs will permit his baby to graze on that network.  Plus, it would be a royal pain to get the Jesusphone to work on CDMA anyways.  No, it would seem that the easiest way for Apple to expand the customer base would be to allow both AT&T and T-Mobile to sell their baby.

If that should come to pass, it would be interesting to see how many net adds T-Mobile gains vs. jumpers from AT&T.  I’d especially be interested in seeing how many folks would be willing to jump from AT&T to T-Mobile with their existing iPhone.  That would be a pretty damning indictment of AT&T’s network.

Of course, this probably also means that Verizon will not be getting an iTablet next year either.  I can’t imagine Jobs would be willing to let his new baby play on a network that was abusive towards his old baby.

Science lab beaker lamps

October 22nd, 2009 No comments

I’ve noticed that my posts here all seem to conform to one of the following: science geek, sci-fi nerd, art and design, sustainability, and cute/Japanese/weird. I can’t help it. These are all my favorite things. On a good day I can bridge several of these into one post. Today is one such day. Today I found Labware Lamps by Benjamin Hubert!


So this would be science geek/art and design. It’s a series of hand blown white glass lamps of three shapes inspired by traditional laboratory beakers. They are necessarily a little heftier than real ones and are plugged with Portuguese cork (not sure how necessary it is that the cork is Portuguese but it sounds real nice, don’t it?).
These beaker lamps led me to another excellent site (one which I immediately bookmarked for later investigation) called, a site dedicated to design, interiors, art and architecture. Cool stuff, check it out!

So I’ve started to design my ideal office, in my head. One of each of the beaker lamps on 3 levels of bracketless shelving that jut out of the brick walls, the Steamer Trunk mobile office, walnut colored bamboo flooring, and giant windows overlooking the bustling concrete city of Trantor. Either that or the view from Rick Deckard’s apartment.

Now let’s see who can guess, without looking, which two famous sci-fi authors I have referenced in this post;-)

Via Gizmodo

Categories: Household, science Tags: , , , ,