Toys

(Adapted from my latest TribLocal.com/Highland Park column) Around my hometown, let's just say that "do it yourself" is not a common mantra. The service industry thrives. There are dog walkers and dog waste removal services, career coaches, college placement coaches, and "organizing services." C...

The December '09 issue of Esquire magazine arrived the other day, with the cover trumpeting an exciting new innovation -- "Augmented Reality". There, embedded right between Robert Downey Jr.'s legs, was the future of interactive publishing -- a webcam-readable barcode, which, when activated through...

My dad was kind enough to buy my family a Kindle for the holidays last year....only Amazon had run out of Kindles and put us on a waitlist. The ETA was March, 2009. Somewhere in between, Amazon announced and begun shipping the new Kindle 2, so this is what they shipped us. It arrived earlier this...

Like my friend Kathleen McGivney, my better half and I have been trying to cook at home more often this summer. One of our great resources has been the US magazine Cooking Light. The new September issue wanders outside the boundaries of cooking into lifestyle a bit, including a mutli-page article...

Life in photos

January 2 2008

Happy New Year to one and all. It's great to be back at it after several days of race-to-the-finish for 2007 business as well as some restful time at home and with family. I spent a fair bit of time over the last ten days on photography projects. Over the last three years, I've collected a good n...

As Andrew describes happiness with a new Samsung SCH-u740 from Verizon, he finds a "nice surprise"...A nice surprise was Verizon's "Wireless Sync" service. They fully support Lotus Notes clients and Domino servers -- even asking during installation if I'm an iNotes user, the location of my ID file a...

Designed by Chris Dimino. Link: Slashfood: Breakfast in bed for computer geeks? (Thanks to my other half -- who thinks I am sometimes a geek!)...

In perfect Harmony

December 29 2006

Thank you again to all those who suggested the Logitech Harmony 880 as the universal remote to buy. This bad boy arrived today, and as I was using my last vacation day of the year, I had some time to get it configured. It took more time than I would have hoped, though some of that was pilot error,...

Earlier this week, I began what I expected to be a simple task -- fix a doorbell that was not ringing. I started with the most logical search -- "how to repair a doorbell". The first challenge presented itself in Google's search results -- I read seven of the ten links on the first page, and found...

One more holiday-related topic is a toy not yet purchased. I am so confused! I am trying to buy a universal remote for my TV/DVD/stereo/TiVo/cable setup, and I am so lost. I was all over www.remotecentral.com which was helpful, but clearly written for people who are seriously into the category....

Soundbite economics

December 17 2006

During a truly bored moment yesterday, I ended up browsing the latest ringtone offerings from my wireless provider (no, the Pearl has not arrived yet...). I suppose this is captive market economics at its finest: Ringtone download: US$2.49 In the meantime, I can buy the whole song over at iTune...

50 l33t

April 8 2006

vowe found a l33t generator... not as kewl as the izzle but the n00bs should like it....

TiVo gets the best of me

December 18 2005

I haven't blogged about TiVo in a long time, though I continue to be very happy with the service. Recently, though, the power supply died in my six-month-old TiVo Series 2 unit. While covered under warranty, this required Humax to send me out a new unit, as the power supply can't be replaced s...

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As part of some recent housecleaning, I realized my old IBM Aptiva home computer from 2000 was gathering dust and could be put to better use. One of the challenges with donating old computers, though, is figuring out where to donate it. Lots of options -- schools, park districts, religious ins...

I'm in the process of building a new home theatre system from scratch. So far, I've got the HDTV, a 6.1 surround sound system, a DVD player, and a TiVo. I'll write more about these components once the whole shebang is set up. I keep thinking "something is missing". Well, I'm sure lots of t...

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I received an e-mail today from the marketing department at Hammacher Schlemmer:I came across your site several weeks ago and I read the thread regarding the Weightless Headset Phone. In response to posts on this topic, we have lowered the price on this item to $99.95 to be in line with comp...

Online at 32,000 feet

February 27 2005

It works! Here we are aboard a Lufthansa Airbus 340 in their newly configured Business Class. As promised, firing up the wifi located six access points with the name "Connexion". Ultimately required a reboot for whatever reason, but once I did, it's been smooth surfing. I've been online for...

Review of TivoToGo

February 10 2005

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Just call me "earbud"

January 22 2005

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Go, TomTom Go, Go!

January 5 2005

I've been asked a few times how I like one of my new holiday toys, the TomTom Go navigation system. In short, I like it a lot! Despite my earlier blog entry on the topic, I ended up finding a different supplier and buying a TomTom GO+, which is the US-sold version that has all of the detai...

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With it being holiday season, like the rest of you, I'm doing a fair bit of online shopping. As mentioned previously, I'm looking for a new mobile phone, but also a mobile GPS system, a cordless phone, possibly a laptop computer. One of the great promises of e-commerce was price inelasticity [...

More on the XACT XG2500 that I've written about a few times...David Rose, the executive sales manager at XACT, said the company had noticed the growth in the use of headset telephones just over two years ago. Headset phones generally come in two varieties: some plug into a conventional wired tel...

Well, since a heck of a lot of google searches for the Xact XG2500 (also sometimes referred to as a BellSouth GHS240) end up here, it is my duty to those google searchers to continue to hunt. Today, six months after the phone first appeared in Wired Magazine, I've finally found a retailer offer...

Can you believe it? The laptop display wasn't the only busted item in the toychest this week. My Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones, which I received in May, stopped functioning while I was in London a couple of weeks ago. I tried two other batteries, to no avail. I found this kind of shocking...

Hey dad, it still works

September 13 2004

I was recently scavenging through my old stuff at my mom's house, and came across this blast from the past. Yes, my first electronic game... the classic Coleco Electronic Quarterback. It's amazing how engaging a bunch of LEDs with almost no intelligence can be. I powered it up yesterday for t...

I've had my iPod now for a couple of weeks, and I thought it would be worthwhile to write up my early impressions. As personal audio devices go, the iPod rocks -- great looking, great sounding, and a good user interface. The menu structure makes it very easy to choose what you want to listen...

The iPod commeth!

August 31 2004

Well, I guess it wasn't the slow boat after all... my iPod arrived this morning. Pretty impressive actually, considering that I ordered it at 10 PM on Friday night -- 83 hours to ship a customized (engraved) iPod from Shanghai to Chicago, over a weekend. Nice job, Apple! Not sure about that s...

The iPod commeth...maybe

August 30 2004

Well, depending on which e-mail from Apple.com I believe, my iPod is: Shipped From: F/G Distribution Center, Elk Grove, Ca 95758 (First and second tracking number) 12:53 AM / Left origin /SHANGHAI CN (Elk Grove must be a suburb ;) (First tracking number) Delivery location -- INDIANAPOL...

On its way...

August 27 2004

What's this? (click for full image) ...

Find me this phone!

June 3 2004

Reading the June issue of Wired Magazine on my flight home yesterday, I learned of this kewl new cordless phone. Right there on page 72, it says "Earbud phone: $99. www.getxact.com" "The entire phone is built into a compact 1-ounce unit that attaches comfortably to either ear". I want one!J ...

While I was in Boston last week, I attempted to prove my technical manliness by helping my friends Paul and Karen Lilla get their US Robotics 8054 wi-fi router up and running. They are DSL subscribers, so we had to configure the PPPoE setup, which was fine. A couple more tweaks, and the wifi...

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I haven't bought a new bicycle in 17 years, but I'm thinking this might be the right spring to do so. A few scans of local advertisements and websites conveys one thing -- a dazzling array of choices. Not even really sure where to start -- there are so many manufacturers, styles, outlets. Her...

Had to take the 325xl back to the dealer last night...but not before finally finding that open road and getting a chance to take it up to 100 MPH. One thing that constantly amazes me about German performance cars is just how easily one can find themselves doing 80 MPH+ without even noticing. t...

In the driveway...

March 27 2004

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Over the last few weeks, I've noticed a dramatic increase in the use of RBDS (Radio Broadcast Data System) on the FM airwaves in Chicago. About three-quarters of all the stations the Audi's in-car radio picks up seem to have text identification of some kind accompanying their broadcast signal....

As predicted, the mainstream press has picked up the story -- but, unfortunately, in a lukewarm way:Following the partial completion of an upgrade to its wireless phone network, AT&T has been telling customers for the past several weeks that they can now trade in old phones for new handsets...

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UPS was just here with my exciting new "upgrade" phone. All the details are as expected. "Your mobile phone is a dual band phone which has two frequencies for use in North America (850 and 1900)". I decided, just for giggles, to call the customer service number included. The phone is answere...

Wild Bill sent me this Slashdot link this morning: AT&T Wireless Phone "Upgrades" Aren't . A typical long and rambling /. discussion, with some valid points and a lot of noise. Combine that with Peter O'Kelly's blog entry on the topic, and this article at Engadget, and a few things be...

Just before leaving home on Saturday, I had a postcard in the snail mail from AT&T Wireless. The post card indicates that AT&T is sending you a FREE upgrade to a Sony Ericcson T226 mobile phone. Your T226 allows you to take full advantage of our improved AT&T Wireless network. ... ...

Shopping spree

February 18 2004

Yes, it appears to be toy shopping season around the Brill house. Having just finished the income tax return, the annual "spend the refund" tradition begins. First, I bought a new printer for my home office. Well, the stated project was "replace the old and dying HP Laserjet 5". The proje...

Retail madness

December 6 2003

What is wrong with this picture -- FAO (parent of FAO Schwarz, Zany Brainy, and the Right Start) files bankruptcy and Toys R Us closes Kids R Us and Imaginarium locations. Both at the outset of the holiday shopping season. Huh??? Shouldn't this be their busiest and most successful time of...

TiVo disk management tips?

November 30 2003

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I've been meaning to buy a reasonably high-capacity USB 2.0 flash drive for months. With my upcoming travels, the urgency increased -- last thing I'd want is to be travelling and have a hard drive crash (it has happened before...). So, I stopped into Best Buy this afternoon to finally check t...

BMW knows customer service

September 15 2003

This morning, the local BMW dealer called to close out a chapter in the book called "great customer service." Our trusty 1996 318ti, which still has only 53K miles on it, was in for service a couple of months ago. This in and of itself was strange -- this car has been solid as a rock. Strang...

New presentation toy

August 1 2003

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