schmenzer speaks!

A Few Things that Bum Me Out About the iPhone

First, let me say that I am overwhelmingly happy with the iPhone, especially the phone, calendar, contacts and Safari parts. And, I never really expected to use the iPhone as a primary iPod but now that I have it I think that would be cool, unfortunately, non of my current 5G Video accessories work with the iPhone.

Bummer #1

I’m getting ready for a trip and decided to try the iPhone with my Pioneer DEH-P4900IB Car Stereo. No joy. I got an error message on the Pioneer unit and a notice on the iPhone that this is not a compatible accessory. This is really only a minor issue since I usually have my 60-gig 5th generation iPod hooked up but what I wanted to really know is if it will charge the iPhone. I had just taken it off the dock and it had a full charge so I didn’t notice but I’ll try it again. The DEH-P4900 unit has only been available since Dec 28, 2006 and it kind of bums me out that it doesn’t support the iPhone.

Bummer #2

Neither my wonderful Grado SR-80s or my Sony Earbud MDR-EX81LPs work as manufactured because the headphone port is recessed and the plugs won’t go in. I know there is an accessory that will extend the port but it seems kind of susceptible to damage. There is some chance I’ll have a friend help take the excellent Sony earbuds and mate them to the stock Apple earphones. I’d like the better sound as well as be able to keep the nearly hands free phone features of the stock Apple headset.

Bummer #3

My cool XtremeMac MicroMemo microphone is not supported either.This would actually be useful if it worked. I wouldn’t have to carry around the 60GB Video to make recordings though I don’t know if I’d plug the iPhone into the dongle at a Radiators show!

I expect we will see some similar devices in the future if not just updates of these units. Time will tell.

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Is there an iPhone call timer that tracks individual calls?

For some clients I bill for consultation time spent on the telephone. On my RAZR I could pull up a call and check the duration for the call and enter it into my time-tracking app so that when it is time to bill at the end of the month I don’t have to remember how long that phone call a couple of weeks ago was. Well, for the life of me I can’t find or figure out how to do this with the iPhone. From what I’ve found there is no iPhone call timer or call duration timer except for the overall usage timer. This is not really an issue at my office because I can just start a new task in the time-tracking app but sure would be cool on the iPhone.

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eMusic Online Music Download Service

I’ve been using eMusic for a while now as a companion to iTunes and am finding it very useful. The company is based in the UK and it seems to me to have a more “European” bent that iTunes. I have been exploring the Electronic genre quite a bit and have found a bunch of songs I like and probably would not have discovered any other way. There is a Related Artists section as well as the ability to explore other member’s playlists fro suggestions on new music.

You can sign up for a free trial at emusic.com and get 25 songs free. Seems like a good way to experience it! They also have a referral program so if you’d like an additional 25 free songs on your trial, shoot me an email to that effect to schmenzer@gmail.com and I’ll send you an invitation to take advantage of the extra free downloads.

When your trial is finished you can choose from several different plans with varying numbers of downloads per month. Songs can be had for as little as $.40 (40 cents). Seems like a deal to me.

I’ve Got a GrassHog

A Black & Decker GrassHog, model NST2018G, to be exact. So far this is a pretty nice unit. I got the GrassHog to replace my aging Craftsman Gas String Trimmer. I don’t remember the exact model but it was 6-8 years old and really LOUD!

A few things led me to replace the Craftsman unit. Sure, it was working OK but it leaked fuel, was REALLY NOISY, didn’t feed line well and was just wearing out after at least 6 seasons. Plus, I used it not just for trimming but edging and grooming my backyard RC race track. The track was grass, and still is, mostly, but it needs to be short for the 1/18th scale trucks my family likes to run. So, I used the trimmer in groom mode ie. beating the grass down around a 4 foot wide by 150 foot long track.

One of the main considerations when I got the new trimmer was noise. I was sometimes embarrassed using the gas string trimmer so I wanted a quiet electric job. Plus, I did not want to be encumbered by a cord so a rechargeable model was mandatory. After reading a few reviews I decided on the Black & Decker NST 2018G GrassHog.

The only negative I see on an otherwise positive experience so far is that I can out last the two included batteries. To be fair I have only recharged each about 3 times. They should continue to gain capacity for another few charges. And remember, I have not been using the GrassHog in a “typical” fashion. I had 6 weeks of un-groomed RC track to clean up and even longer on the yard edging and weed trimming. Weekly maintenance should take about 20 minutes, or only one battery’s worth.

iPhone Early Adopters Cry and Get their Way

Today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, or is it still iCEO, posted an open letter to all iPhone buyers who made their purchases before the price drop announced on Wednesday. In his open letter to all iPhone Customers Jobs states:

“Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple’s website next week. Stay tuned.”

There you have it. Whining works. Although, some will say this response was already in the works, if not finalized, BEFORE the announcement of the $200 drop. Either way, now you can quitcher bitchin’.

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Great Deal on 2600mAh Rechargeable NiMh AA Batteries

I am always looking for a good deal on rechargeable AA batteries. I use them in about half a dozen RC car transmitters and also build flight packs for my RC airplanes from them. When I see a deal like All-Batteries.com has I jump on it! They are offering AA 2600mAh High Capacity NiMH Rechargeable Batteries in a 20-Pack with a Compact Travel Charger for $19.99 with free shipping. That’s $1 per battery and FREE SHIPPING! It is among the best unit price I’ve paid for any AA rechargeable let alone the high capacity 2600mAh AA rechargeable batteries.

Apple’s Next Big Show – The October Release of Leopard

I don’t know if they have anything else up their sleeve but I expect that the October introduction of Leopard will be the next big event. Could be as early as a month away. I am getting excited! So, is Apple going to have an introduction event like the recent iPod lineup refresh. Will it be at Mascone again?

Did you know that you can Pre-Order Apple Leopard at Amazon?

BTW you can see the “The Beat Goes On” iPod roll out keynote as a QuickTime streaming video. I like watching these events even though I kept up with Gizmodo’s feed detailing the keynote on their site so I already know what to expect. I like the recorded version because it is really hard to judge crowd reaction when someone is writing.

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First Couple of Months With the Canon PowerShot SD800

I’ve been using my Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH a lot lately owing to the small size and easy carryability (not really a word but it is what I mean).

I got the SD800 to replace my Pentax Optio S6 that just wasn’t cutting it as a pocket point-and-shoot. To be fair I got the Optio S6 for a specific purpose, to take aerial photos from my RC airplane which it does quite nicely but I was hoping that it would double as an always with me point-and-shoot. Sadly, it was not to be. The Optio just doesn’t work well for me in low light situations.

While some may consider the SD 800 an upgrade to the popular SD700 IS, the wider angle lens (35mm film camera equivalent to 3.8X – 28 – 105 mm versus 4X, 35 – 140 mm) kind of puts it in a different class. In fact. I recently recommended the SD700 to my sister and she is loving it and after using both I think the SD700 has an edge in image quality but I really like the added wide angle of the SD 800.

Canon bundles a 16MB memory card with the SD800. That is kind of a joke since it holds just four photos at the highest quality setting so go ahead and get a larger SD memory card right away. There were a ton of 1GB cards for next to nothing when I bough the camera so that is what I went with. It lets me shoot about 350 shots at high res. More than enough and I keep that 16MB card for those final four shots if I really need it! Actually, as an emergency you could lower the quality setting and pack a few more in.

The SD800 uses an NB-5L lithium-ion battery and has a nice, compact charger, unlike my Pentax Optio S6 that has a big, corded charger. Battery life has been great so far. I’ve never even had to use the spare battery while out shooting yet although I do rotate the batteries to keep them fresh. Canon estimates about 270 shots. Don’t know want the ratio of flash to non flash pix was but I recently took over 100 shots at night with the flash and still had power to spare.

I also got the Canon Digital ELPH accessory kit that includes a spare battery, A nice leather case and a useless, to me anyway, plastic-coated metal neck strap. I still think this is a good deal because a spare battery is about $39.00 and the whole kit was $44.00 so I go the case for $5.00. If you don’t need the spare battery, either for use or for security, skip this set just go for the case that costs about $15.00.

I really like the large, 2.5-inch LCD monitor. I use it for framing most shots but I do appreciate, and sometimes use, the optical viewfinder; another omission on the Pentax that I sometimes missed.

Another feature that I have grown to like is Image Stabilization. I love it on my full-bore Nikon 70-200/2.8 that I shoot with on my Nikon D200 and, even on a consumer-grade camera like this, it helps get sharper, more usable photos in low-light conditions. I don’t think I’d but another camera without it.

Focus speed is another area that I am happy with. The Optio S6 was woefully slow sometimes and except in super low light situations I’ve always found the SD800 to be nice and quick.

I haven’t used any of the bundled software yet but it seems like a capable set. I simply import the photos into Aperture on my Mac and that works for me.

So, after a couple of months use I am very happy with the SD800.

iPhone Drops $200, Irks Some, Why? Ya Cry Babies!

Geez aren’t all the people who bought the iPhone in the first two months probably the same type of person? A serial tech, electronics and computer addict. Don’t they know how it goes with tech products? If not let me illuminate!

1. You wanted to be first on your block and decided that $499 (4GB) or $599 (8GB) was a fair price to be cool.

2. Did that fact that you new computer either costs less or has better features now than it did 2 months ago? Well, that should have been a clue.

3. Don’t get pissed so fast, there is a 10 day cost protection policy at Apple and if you are a real whiner, and don’t just take your medicine for being first, you can probably get that extended a few days.

4. First generation releases are always a bit iffy especially for a software product. There have already been 2 iPhone software updates with a 3rd on t he way. How about considering part of that $200 as tech support for what was basically a public beta project.

5. Ya shoulda waited like me. You know this would happen, but again, you just wanted to be first. If you’d have waited 2 months, heck I was willing to wait 6 months, you’d have either gotten a better product or, in this case a lower price. Better yet, for me, they discontinued a current model, the 4GB iPhone and are offering it for $200 less than before at $299. Now it makes sense to me to try the phone out. I still have the contract with Verizon to deal with though. The 8 GB iPhone is now $399 was $499.

6. Face it, you are a tech addict. Many of you’d have probably paid $1,000 just to get their greedy hands on them.

Anyway, instead of crying and whining, do something about it. Either demand something or shut it!

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I Ordered an iPhone Today

After the new iPods were introduced and the 8GB iPhone dropped to $399 I saw a couple of references to the Clearance on the 4GB iPhone at $299. The iPod portion of the phone is the least important to me so 4GB should be plenty but I really want to try having a mobile web browser with me. Some of the potential social networking features may be interesting too. I’ll have to see when I get it.

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