Tag Archives: Bluetooth

PTJ 334: Grand Central Tracin’

Contact tracing! It’s all the rage around the world as countries try to track the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus though voluntary smartphone apps. In this week’s news segment, El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the various approaches these apps take before moving on to other headlines around the tech world. El Kaiser also shares his adventures with cloning a hard drive. All this and more on PTJ 334!

Links to News and Stuff Discussed on This Week’s Show

PTJ 332: Anti-Virus Software

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread, Apple and Google join forces to create a platform to track the disease — even though privacy advocates have concerns. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the program, along with the other tech headlines of the week. And, with network connectivity more important than ever, El Kaiser offers some tips on getting the most out of your home Wi-Fi. It’s all here waiting for you in PTJ 332!

Links to News Stories Discussed on This Episode

PTJ 319: Secrets and Lies

El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the recent technology headlines, including Facebook’s wobbly Libra cryptocurrency, yet another iOS 13 update and political chaos around the globe. Also, there’s a giant Ouija board up in Salem, Massachusetts. And, leaving his beloved 3.5-mm headphone jack behind, El Kaiser takes a walk on the wireless side with a pair of Jabra Bluetooth earbuds.
Listen up here in PTJ 319!

PTJ 295: Smokin’!

The year is winding down, but the movie selection at the local cineplex is heating up with several sizzling releases this month. Also in the hot seat: Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, who got to have his belated chat with Congressional members, and social-media companies who missed the massive amount of misinformation spread across their platforms in 2016 and beyond. And for those don’t want to burn a lot of cash on wireless headphones, El Kaiser has a a review for you.  Fire up Episode 295!

Links to Stories Discussed on This Week’s Show

The El Kaiser Hardware Review

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Car entertainment systems have been around since at least 1930, when a brand new company called Motorola designed one of the first successful AM radio systems for an automobile. 87 years later, even base-model cars are on the dealer’s lot with streaming stations right in the console, USB ports for connecting music players and Bluetooth chips for wirelessly linking smartphones.

Tech companies are also getting their software directly into the dashboard to integrate smartphones and cloud services. Platforms include Google’s Android Auto, Apple’s CarPlay and Microsoft Connected Vehicle.  And Amazon’s Alexa assistant will be showing up soon in some Ford and Volkswagen models.

As they did with 8-track and cassette tape decks, though, carmakers are slowly phasing out compact disc players as installed features in favor of digital audio files and streaming connections. But if you have CDs you want to play — say, educational lectures you don’t feel like ripping to MP3 — and your car dealer has no aftermarket solutions to suggest, it is possible to hack together a system for $50 or less.

Most dashboard entertainment systems still have an auxiliary audio port available; check your car’s manual for the location on the dashboard if you don’t see the port. In most cases, you can use this port and a 3.5-millimeter auxiliary audio cable to connect the headphone jack on an inexpensive battery-powered portable CD player. Set the audio input on the dashboard to AUX and push the play button on the CD player.

Check your car’s manual (yes, it has one) to find out about the types of audio devices you can connect to your dashboard entertainment system. If you do not have an old portable CD player on hand, you can still find options at stores like Amazon, Best Buy and Target. Prices generally start around $20, but get a shock-resistant player because American infrastructure has seen better days.

An auxiliary audio cable costs $5 and up. If you don’t want to keep feeding the player batteries, an electrical adapter for the car’s 12-volt power port takes care of the juice.

Most new cars support Bluetooth wireless connections, so if you hate cables, swap in a Bluetooth adapter with its own 3.5-millimeter plug that connects to the CD player. Once you pair the adapter to the car’s Bluetooth system, you can stream the audio from the CD player to the sound system. Taotronics and Mpow are among the companies that make Bluetooth adapters for less than $35 and there are plenty more online.

No matter what you’re using to boom your tunes in the cabin, though, drive safely.

PTJ 170: Bluetooth Ducks and Non-Hovering Hoverboards

This week multimedia journalist  Laura M. Holson, just back from an extended stay in Silicon Valley, returns to the show and fills us in on the Hoverboard craze gliding its way across the country from the West Coast. Of course J.D. and El Kaiser take a snarky look at the week’s tech news but can decide what to make of a Bluetooth-enabled rubber duckie.

PTJ 147 News: Lady Justice

Good on ya, Taylor Swift! Now, you may not care for her music or her sudden promotion to New York City’s official “global welcome ambassador,” but the young singer/songwriter knows how to stand up for herself and her fellow musicians trying to make a living. In a public post on her Tumblr page this past weekend, Ms. Swift called out Apple over the lack of artist royalties during the three-month free trial period of the company’s forthcoming Apple Music adventure — and said she’d be withholding her latest album from the service. But Apple, for its part, did the right thing. By Sunday night, the company announced that it’d be paying artists their due royalties for all the music streamed during the free trial of Apple Music. (Of course,  conspiracy theorists are suspicious about the whole thing, like they always are.)

googleplaymusicApple Music rolls out on June 30th, but Google is not waiting around for it. The Big G announced a new, free ad-supported version of its subscription-based Google Play Music service for  “giving you a new way to find just the right music and giving artists another way to earn revenue.” (Oh snap, Google.) If you’re looking for a new stream, the service is available now via the Web and will be hitting Android and IOS devices soon. If you find you like Google Play Music and want to subscribe, you get ad-free offline listening, song skips and on-demand access to more than 30 million tracks for just $10 a month. Spotify has got to be feeling a little nervous these days.

Meanwhile, the Tidal music service has hit a bit of a rough wave. The company has booted its interim CEO after three months.

In legal news, Verizon says it’s completed its acquisition of AOL on paper. The Federal Communications Commission did not actually have to approve this particular deal because AOL did not have any licenses before the FCC that would have tripped that trigger. The agency, however, has been keeping itself busy by slapping a $100 million dollar fine on AT&T for misleading consumers about unlimited data plans and throttling.

eyeballIn guv’ment news, the regular document dumps from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowdon continue. A new post over on The Intercept blog details how the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, have reverse-engineered consumer antivirus and security software products. (In more government news, the State Department of the United States is having an epic fail over in the biometrics department.)

And on the subject of biometrics, a new research paper from scientists at UC Berkeley and Facebook’s AI Research division has found that The Social Network’s facial-recognition software can often identify people in photos, even when their faces are looking away from the camera or partly obscured. The team used Facebook’s algorithm on 40,000 public photos pulled from Flickr and found it could accurately ID people about 83 percent of the time. Oh, and Facebook’s Instagram has just updated its Search tool.

echoAmazon’s Echo device is now available to members of the general public now. The voice-activated, Internet-connected  9-inch tall cylindrical Bluetooth speaker streams music and answers questions just like Siri, Cortana and Google Now. If your life needs an Echo, head over to Amazon’s site, pay up $180 and start watching the mailbox after July 14th.  Amazon is also throwing a little artificial intelligence at the problem of fake product reviews over on its main store site and is cleaning up the astroturf.

As promised, mayorships are finally back in Foursquare’s spun-off Swarm app. Let the check-in competition begin once again.

In Windows 10 news, Microsoft has tried to clarify just who gets the new system for free. Recently, there was some confusion as to whether people in the Windows Insider preview program who didn’t have legitimate copies of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 would get the free finished copy of Windows 10. (They get to stay as previewers.)

As a wrap-up of last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, The Mary Sue blog notes there are 23 games announced at the show that feature “badass playable female characters.” Lady justice, indeed.

spidermanAnd finally, with great power comes great responsibility and Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan certainly knows it — as well as her old-school Spider-Man. The Court sent down a decision in the case of Kimble v. Marvel, in which the Supremes declined to overrule a precedent that kept patent-holders from collecting royalties after said patent expired. In her written opinion for the majority on the case, Justice Kagan showed off her comic-book chops with multiple Spider-Man references. Now, just imagine if she was a fan of The Punisher….

PTJ 144: Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!!!!

The focus of this super-sized episode of your favorite tech-themed, snark-infested web-radio extravaganza is one of El Kaiser’s absolute favorite topics in the world: audio. This week he reviews the rBlink Bluetooth DAC from Arcam and J.D. fills us in on how to use Siri, Cortana, and Google Now to help name that tune. In the news, Time Warner Cable finds a new dance partner now that Comcast is out of the picture; bacon, Batman and a teen, tiny Tony Manero get the emoji treatment; and NASA retires it’s railroad system.

PTJ 100: Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now

As we approached the century mark in episodes J.D. and I considered all the cool things we could do to mark the occasion. Sky divers, bouncy castles, and a Blade Runner marathon were all discussed but in the end we decided to offer up what all of you have come to expect from us: tech news, helpful hints, product reviews and shenanigans. Thank you for sticking with us for these past 100 episodes and we look forward to serving up many, many more!

This week El Kaiser takes a listen to Bowers & Wilkins flagship P7 headphones and J.D. makes using your set top boxes a whole lot easier.

In the news, Facebook experiments with its users; the NSA takes a particularly strong interest in Linux users; protocols for the Internet of Things popping up like weeds;  Python is more popular than Java in schools; and The Beatles film “A Hard Days Night” gets the remastering treatment.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Remote Locations

Set-top boxes are great for streaming all kinds of new video from the Internet onto your TV screen, but have you ever noticed what a pain it is to enter network passwords or YouTube search terms by tapping around with the remote control? It’s like trying to type one letter at a time with a chopstick clenched between your teeth.

Most people are running the handy Google Chromecast stick from their phone or computer already, but what about those bigger boxes — the Roku, the Amazon Fire TV and the Apple TV? Thankfully, there are apps with virtual keyboards, like the Roku Mobile app for Android, iOS and Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone (shown below):

WindowsPhoneRoku

For those with an Apple TV parked on the entertainment center, Apple’s own Remote app (shown below) gives you much more control over the little black box than the thin silver stick that ships with it. Once you load up the Remote app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can control your Apple TV and iTunes library — and even type in search terms with the virtual keyboard.

remote

The Amazon Fire TV has a remote with voice search for stuff Amazon sells. But if nothing but a real keyboard with clicky little keys works for you, you have other options. Logitech’s $150 Harmony Smart Keyboard Remote (shown below) works with the Roku box, the Apple TV and even the Fire TV now for good old-fashioned text entry; the keyboard also works with a lot of other stuff on your home-entertainment system. Apple TV owners can also pair up their Apple Bluetooth keyboards (or other Bluetooth keyboard models) to the set-top box and type away, perhaps without having to go buy additional hardware.

logitech

In addition to easier typing and navigation, using a remote app or keyboard offers another usability bonus: There’s less of a chance you’ll lose your mobile device or keyboard in the couch cushions.