Tuesday, 04 January 2005

This always seems to happens to me. It’s part of being an early adopter, I guess:

From Engadget: Vonage is partnering with VTech on the next best thing: a cordless phone that comes with Vonage’s broadband Voice over IP service built-in. The has a VoIP gateway chipset built right into its base station, which you just connect right up to your router. Besides letting us toss out that bulky analog telephone adapter we’re still using, the ip8100-2 also operates on the 5.8GHz frequency, which means it won’t interfere with our WiFi.

Well, darn it… I bought a set of identical phones just a couple weeks ago, only without the Vonage service built in. I got them because my old 2.4GHz phone was worn out ad was messing up my WiFi big time. The phones look a little weird in pictures, but they have a really decent speakerphone built in, ringers that don't sound like an 80's alarm clock, and generally work very well. And these are the *same* phones, which I brought home and – get this – plugged straight into my Vonage IP phone adapter device. Argh.

I also saw a combination unit this weekend at a big big big gadget warehouse store that was a combination of the Linksys 802.11G router and a Vonage IP phone adapter. Again - I have both already. I am tempted to buy that one though, because simplifying the voice QOS configuration and compatibility there would certainly improve my call quality at times. My current setup gets glitchy at times.

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Tuesday, 04 January 2005 07:05:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Scoble on blogging at Microsoft and assumptions that might be made by people on the outside:

“… They think someone has "spun" Bill Gates into believing blogging is good for Microsoft.

“Please, if you're gonna say something like that, warn me not to be drinking water when it comes online.

“I wish I could tell you why that made me laugh. Let's just say the skepticism is misplaced. You don't get 1300 to 1500 people doing ANYTHING at a company without some very explicit decisions made at the very top of the company. Think about that one for a while.”

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Tuesday, 04 January 2005 05:04:18 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 03 January 2005

I serve on the board of directors for a non-profit called Cops on Top. It’s an organization that performs mountain climbing expeditions to the world’s biggest and most respected mountains in memory of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The organization and its efforts are funded 100% by sponsorship donations.

Cops on Top is undertaking a memorial expedition to Kilimanjaro in Africa in just a couple of weeks, and is in need of a donated Pocket PC device, preferably an HP model, which the team intends to attempt to use in order to transfer data and images from the mountain via satellite telephone to the organizations weblog.

If you or someone you know is able to quickly donate the Pocket PC or funds needed to buy one, please contact me by commenting here or by sending me an email at greg@greghughes.net. I can also be reached by calling 503–970–1753. Donations are tax-deductible and we would gladly recognize the donation on the Cops on Top web site should the donor wish.

Thanks – Hopefully someone out there will be able to help!

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Helping Others | Tech
Monday, 03 January 2005 22:55:33 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 02 January 2005

In The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine, Richard Seven writes – quite eloquently and well – about a professor at the University of Washington and his study of the connection between the information age, overload and extreme stress… Those of us caught in this world would do well to read it. I can definitely relate. I just spent a week in pretty extreme pain and without a Blackberry. I think if I can talk my boss into it, I may trade it for another device, one that’s maybe still cool and connected but less in-my-face. Besides, there are a few new ones that we need to test, so…

From the PNW Mag article:

“…Some are concerned that the need for speed is shrinking our attention spans, prompting our search for answers to take the mile-wide-but-inch-deep route and settling us into a rhythm of constant interruption in which deadlines are relentless and tasks are never quite finished.

“Scientists call this phenomenon ‘cognitive overload,’ and say it encompasses the modern-day angst of stress, multitasking, distraction and data flurries…”

(via Jason deFillippo)

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Geek Out | Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, 02 January 2005 23:24:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Comment here if you want them, I now have ONE more to give away.

Sorry - all gone! :)

First four comments get ‘em. Leave your first name, last name and email address.

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Random Stuff
Sunday, 02 January 2005 15:27:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Idiots and A**holes. They’re everywhere, unfortunately. People who run a company that sells cool stuff to people might occasionally have to sit down and have a conversation with, oh say the FBI. Hey, at least you can blog about it!

Laser_cautionApparently, a not-so-naturally-select number of people are taking green handheld laser pointers (which are quite bright out of the box ), increasing their power, and (like complete idiots) pointing them into aircraft that are flying overhead. Of course, common sense tells us if you’re aiming a laser into an aircraft, it’s probably close to the ground and chances are the light scatter through the glass is going to be intense. Not to mention I seem to recall that when I was a kid growing up in a national laboratory town, there being a warning label on every laser ever made about not shining it in a person’s eyes…

In a blog entry called “Jasper Green Lasers: useful tool or terrorist weapon?” (hey look Scoble – A corporation with a blog, heh!), Bigha Sales and Marketing guy Noah Acres (dude, nice web site, seriously) talks about a little visit he was paid by the FBI, duly (and correctly) chastises any of his customers who might be using the devices illegally, and let’s those people know that some (very interesting-sounding) technology can and will be used to hunt anyone doing this down, at which point they could be quickly taken to jail. Nice! We need more of this kind of law enforcement! [EDIT: In the comments for this post, Noah points out that the secret technology is – once again - a common sense approach: The pilot or observer can jook where the super bright green beam of light is coming from on the ground, and radio in the location. Ahhh – GPS/LORAN/etc! Hey, works for me – technology doesn’t have to be very complicated to work!]

Inlineimage_handBut anyhow, about the laser, because this is a tech blog after all, and these things are pretty cool… Maybe you’ve heard of the Jasper Laser (or any one of a number of similar handheld pointers of lower quality). It’s a very bright green laser, running at 5mw, which is the highest power at which a class IIIa laser can legally operate. Class IIIa is also the highest power laser you can operate without a permit.

Unfortunately, there are places that modify this laser and others like it and then sell them on the Internet. There are videos of modified lasers cutting through plastic cups.

Bigha is a company in Corvallis, Oregon that makes cool bicycles. They also happen to sell Jasper handheld lasers, which are perfectly legal and kinda cool.

In their Jasper Laser FAQ, they tell potential purchasers…

“When used with common sense, Jasper is completely safe.”

They also offer these safety tips on the web site:

1. Don't allow children to use Jasper without close adult supervision.

2. Don't shine Jasper into:

  • passing cars, airplanes or other vehicles
  • windows of houses
  • around the eyes of any person or animal
  • mirrors or other highly reflective surfaces — the beam might bounce into someone's area of vision
  • any optical instrument that might focus Jasper's energy into someone's eyes

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who have no notion or concept of common sense. It is these dolts that don’t think about what they are doing and end up hurting people. It’s also these dolts that read the first two sentences in this paragraph and think it’s not talking about them.

More from the FAQ pages on the Bigha web site:

“… as the beam gets brighter it also contains more energy and can cause harm to eyesight. The beam can even burn if brought to too high a level. It is illegal to modify a Class IIIa laser to output more than 5mw. Anything stronger becomes a Class IIIb device and requires a safety interlock and a mechanical shutter. It is also illegal to use a Class IIIb laser in a public place without special permission … 5mw lasers are quite adequate for everyday use, indoors and out. More power than that increases the health risk to others and shortens the life of the laser itself.”

Good for Noah and Bigha.Subscribed” the the blog [hey guys, put a nifty RSS icon on your web page :-)], and I only wish more companies would have the cojones to yell at their customers and others who are making it hard for them to do business or who are putting other people at risk. Nail ‘em, man. None of us need dolts and idiots running around pulling crap like that.

And I think I want a green laser now. Heh.

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Random Stuff
Sunday, 02 January 2005 09:56:12 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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