Tag Archives: iPod

PTJ 104: Internet Security? No Such Thing.

This week cybercriminals made off with billions of usernames and passwords from hundreds of thousands of websites around the world and El Kaiser was, not surprisingly, more than a little upset about it.  Sensing Pedro’s imminent panic attack, J.D. cheers him up with a segment on how to buy a new gadget at its peak of freshness.

In other news,  the Rosetta probe from the European space agency has caught up with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko; The Shaknado sequel is a hit on TV and on social media networks;  it is once again legal to unlock your mobile phones; the Department of Transportation considers banning cellphone voice calls on commercial flights; Google helps law enforcement apprehend a pedophile; researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology develop an algorithm that constructs an audio signal from a video based on vibrations; and concerned Facebook users called 911 and the Los Angeles’s Sheriff’s Department after the social media behemoth suffers a short outage.

No, we are not kidding.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Shop Class

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing for many people, and you’d think this would be the time when all the new computers and gadgets are rolling out. Sure, Microsoft released new Surface Pro tablets a few months ago and Apple just did a minor refresh on its MacBook Pro laptops, but the big new releases typically arrive in stores just before the winter holidays. Now, just how soon before the holidays can vary, but here are some tips to keep in mind as you get ready for your next shopportunity.

  • PC makers are all over the map in terms of release, but many companies put out new desktop and laptop models around Windows upgrades. This is an off-year for that habit, though, as Windows 9 isn’t really expected until 2015. So take a look back  to when your preferred manufacturer last released new models. The companies need to keep people buying product and most won’t go more than a year without some sort of update to the line. If you don’t remember when the last round of new stuff came out, check the media area of your preferred PC manufacturer’s website and look up the old press releases — the dates should be right there. Microsoft’s site also highlights certain new models of interest throughout the year.

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  • Hot new Android phone and tablet hardware also tends to arrive on the heels of a major OS update. Android L, the next version, was previewed at the I/O conference in June and is expected later this year. (Last year’s KitKat and Nexus 5 phone landed as Halloween treats, remember?) Android-focused blogs and gadgets sites often get wind of pending releases, so bookmark AndroidCentral.com, 9to5Google.com or a similar source to keep you on top of events concerning the little green robot.
  • Apple rumor sites have practically become a cottage industry for news about the iEmpire, and often tip off the world to coming-release timeframes. For that kind of info, iLounge, 9to5Mac, AppleInsider, Re/Code and BoyGeniusReport are among the many watchdog sites worth watching themselves. These sites are also on top of new operating system updates for iOS and OS X, if you merely want to upgrade the software on your current, perfectly fine hardware.
  • When it comes to buying your new Apple hardware at that perfect time – meaning not two days before Apple goes and releases all-new models — there’s one site in particular worth looking at: The Buyer’s Guide over at MacRumors.com. The guide has been around for years and keeps close tabs on when Apple releases new iPhones, iPads, iPods, Apple TVs and Macs. The information is detailed very nicely on the site so you can see how long it’s been since a version of the product was released, and plan your shopping trip accordingly.

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With  Apple, pattern recognition can pay off. After releasing the first three versions of the iPad in the spring, the company has shifted its new iOS gear to the fall months as of 2012 – lately, it’s been iPhones in September and iPads in October, with any new iPods, iTunes updates, Apple TVs and random laptops mixed in as well.

If you don’t care that your hardware is a generation out of date, Back to School time can be a gold mine, as some wireless carriers will bundle older models with new purchases in an attempt to clear shelf space. For example, Sprint is currently selling 16-gig iPad Mini tablets for $50 when you purchase an iPhone 5s or 5c. If you don’t need the latest and greatest, look around now.

If you can’t help yourself and buy something — only to be in geek tears when a new model comes out the next week —keep in mind that most places give you at least 14 days from your purchase date to return an item. The Apple Store, Best Buy, and Amazon all have their return policies posted, as do other companies, so check it out. Then enjoy your new hardware and rest assured that you probably have at least six weeks before all the rumors start up about next year’s model.

REVIEW: Bowers & Wilkins C5 and RBH Sound EP1 earphones

RBH_EP1_02This week I took a critical listen to two relatively high-end in ear monitors from Utah-based RBH Sound and England’s Bowers & Wilkins, both well known residential and commercial speaker manufacturers.

RBH Sound claims the EP1 earphones deliver “a wide sound stage free from outside noise and interruptions”. While I found the passive noise cancellation especially good once the earphones were properly inserted, the soundstage was far from expansive. The EP1s sport aluminum housings, a gold connector jack, and a not so tangle-free cloth cord. A sturdy protective carrying pouch with a cord clip, a set of Comply foam tips, and silicone cushions complete the package.  The $149 dollar EP1s don’t feature a microphone or function controls but RBH Sound’s EP2 will offer those options — for $30 dollars more.

bowers-wilkins-c5_4fbae937842a4Just like their over-the-ear headphone cousins P3, P5 and P7, the C5 earphones from Bowers & Wilkins are sleek and stylish with a unique and modern design. They feature a proprietary cushioned loop that is designed to rest securely in the inner ridge of your ear instead of wrapping around the ear but I could never get a proper fit.

The C5s feature a tungsten design and a Micro Porous Filter, essentially hundreds of microscopic steel balls that act as a sonic diffuser to open up the sound and improve the listening experience.  I found the tiny ball bearings did neither. The sound stage remained fairly closed but more open than that of the EP1s. The Bowers & Wilkins $179 dollar earphones have a microphone with basic function controls for music and calls, replacement silicone tips in various sizes (no foam cushions) and a small padded carrying case.

While both the RBH EP1 and the Bowers & Wilkins C5 earphones are well constructed, you can easily find better sounding (and cheaper) offerings from ThinkSound and Logitech UE.

Be sure to listen to episode 76 of Pop Tech Jam (‘The Desolation of El Kaiser’) for my full review.

Episode 56: Proudly Flying Our Geek Flag

This week El Kaiser wrestles with an identity crisis and J.D. gives us the lowdown on how the micro-blogging service Twitter determines what is trending. In the news, taking down websites that offer access to pirated content by targeting their wallet; the NSA gets sued; Buzzfeed and Facebook have a slap fight; manufacturers ditch the Thunderbolt port; rumors heat up about a Microsoft smartwatch; Blackberry drastically drops the price on its flagship Z10 smartphone and Nasa discovers a new moon orbiting Neptune.

Episode 38: All Killer, No Filler

J.D. takes a look at some inspirations and tools that will help you make fun new music playlists and Pedro tells us what full-sized headphones he uses with his mobile devices. In  the news this week, note taking and digital clipping service Evernote is the latest cloud service to be hacked; Apple’s rumored iWatch could be a huge success; and Twitter pulls the plug on Tweetdeck.

Episode 24: Ducky Doughnut (It’ll Make Sense When You Listen)

This week J.D. lists some useful apps that will get you through the Thanksgiving Holiday and Pedro laments the lack of decent gaming controllers for his tablets. In the news, a political scandal with a tech twist; high-level changes in the executive ranks at Apple and Google; RIM is finally ready to unveil the Blackberry 10 OS; and Youtube distributes cancellation slips.

Gear for Good

Got an old iPod, other MP3 player or cellphone that’s just taking up space in the junk drawer? Get it out of there and let someone else put it to good use. As studies from places like the Institute for Music and Neurological Function and others have shown, music therapy can be incredibly helpful for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, strokes and other conditions. One such project is called Music & Memory, which collects donated iPods for patients in music-therapy programs. The Mary E. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA has a similar initiative called TAP (Tunes for Alzheimer’s Patients) that takes donations.

Old cellphones are also in demand. Several organizations, like Cellphones for Soldiers and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, are among those that repurpose gently used mobile phones for a good cause. Some wireless carriers have their own programs like Verizon’s HopeLine and Sprint’s Project Connect. The Volunteer Guide has a list of other places where you can recycle your old phone and make a difference.

And if you’re jumping into a new Windows 8 computer soon and leaving your old desktop or laptop behind, organizations like the National Cristina Foundation accept old-but-still-functional computer gear. Before you donate, be sure to read Tech Soup’s “Ten Tips for Donating a Computer” and the Environmental Protection Agency has suggestions as well.

Another benefit of passing your old gadgets along to someone who can use it? You can finally get that junk drawer cleaned out at last.

 

Episode 20: Find Your Inner Code Monkey

In a Hopefully Helpful Hint segment J.D. takes a look at some inexpensive websites that will show you how to become a programmer. In the news Google pushes for quality Android tablet apps; a new rumor making the rounds claims the aforementioned Google and Apple nemesis Samsung are teaming up to develop a Nexus branded 10″ tablet; and tech giants band together to create the Web Platform Docs project, a new community-driven site for web developer documentation.