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June 26, 2006

It's Alive!

I thought up a project where I could turn the Powerbook 5300c that Jeb gave me for Christmas a few years ago into a digital picture frame. The first problem was the Powerbook didn't actually work. As you will recall, I found out that if I replaced the power tip on the AC adapter that I could get it to work. But there was no modem and the splice came undone, so I lost interest.

However, the 5300c has a 10-inch active matrix screen that supports thousands of colors and I have nothing to lose. So last night I took it completely apart down to the motherboard and various components. So today I rebuilt the splice (using butt connectors) reattached most of the pieces I thought it would need (not the IR port, floppy drive, video card, battery, battery power supply). That didn't work. So I reconnected the power supply and it started up!

Now I just need to find a slide show viewer that I can put in the startup folder, load a bunch of pictures, and mount the whole thing to a frame like this guy.

June 24, 2006

Smart Chick

Seeing the makezine site reminded me of the newest iPod battery pack I added to the page. It was built by an artist/electronics geek who got a Masters at MIT and lives in New York City. People have been trying to come up with a good USB charger for the iPod for a while. A really primitive, but simple, setup uses a 9-volt battery and a voltage regulator to give the constant 5 volts required by USB devices. The problem is anything above 5 volts is wasted as heat, the thing stops working when the battery drops below 7 volts, and if you leave the battery connected it will charge all the way down even if it isn't charging an iPod.

I've always thought it was sad, but not surprising, that all of the people doing these battery packs were guys. Apparently a woman's touch was needed. Her pack uses a computer chip and an inductor to amplify the steadily declining voltage supplied by two AA batteries to exactly 5 volts with very little waste. It will supposedly provide a full charge to a video iPod giving an additional 2-3 hours of video so you can watch a long movie away from a computer or wall outlet. It doesn't provide the oomph of my 8 AA Band Aids charger, but if you really wanted more charges you could just bring extra pairs of AA batteries. So that was impressive in itself.

But then she took it all to the next level, designing a custom circuit board so the whole thing could fit in an Altoids gum tin, thoroughly documenting the entire design and build process, and selling kits with all the needed parts as an electronics project for $19.50. I was so impressed I almost bought one even though I can't solder worth a flip and my iPod doesn't charge via USB.


I was checking out my web site statistics today. Lately I've been averaging a little less than 300 hits a day and it drops to about 200 on the weekends. So I was surprised to see I was up to 217 already this afternoon and even more surprised to see 35 hits in the last hour. Usually 25 is the highest I get and at this time of day it is usually around 12. I knew something had happened so I checked to see where the referrals were coming from. They were all from a site called Make: or Makezine. It seems to be mostly electronics-related do-it-yourself projects. Once I went to the referring page, I scrolled way down and found the entry linking to my page. It is titled Every freaking way to charge an iPod. The description is very short "Ted has a round up of just about all the ways of charging an iPod and/or making a DIY battery pack," with a link to my battery pack page and a picture of my Band Aids battery pack.

It's nice to be appreciated, but like the time someone posted the page on Digg.com I am sure the increase will be short-lived. Originally posted at 3 AM, it is already the last post on the home page, with obscurity soon to follow. Still, by the end of the day the counter was up to about 780 with a peak per hour of 96, the biggest traffic day ever. Similar to the Digg experience, it resulted in no ad clicks.

June 8, 2006

iPod Timeline

In one of the first virtual books that iLounge posted, they had a timeline of all the dates where different iPods were introduced. But then they didn't update it. So I took what they had, plus what I found elsewhere and updated it, current up to the satanic-colored 5G U2 edition iPod introduced Tuesday. I'm trying to analyze the past history to guess when Apple will come out with a new iPod since I will be in the market soon. Looks like I need to wait until September or October.

The price premium for owning an iPod vs. rival MP3 players nearly disappeared in 2006. When I bought the $279 20 GB Archos, all Apple had was a 5 GB 1st genereration iPod which was $399 and it only worked with Macs. Two months after I got the Archos, Apple introduced the 10 GB iPod for $499. Still, I had twice the capacity (but none of the cool) for about half the price.

1-9-01iTunes available for Macs
10-23-011G iPod has moving scroll wheel, 5 GB $399
1-18-02Ted gets 20GB Archos $279
3-20-0210 GB $499
7-17-022G iPod has touch-sensitive scroll wheel: 5GB $299, 10 GB $399, 20 GB, $499. PC versions available.
4-28-033G iPod moves button to a row above the wheel: 10 GB $299, 15 GB $399, 30 GB $499. PC or Mac compatible. iTunes music store debuts, but for Mac only.
9-8-0320 GB $399, 40 GB $499
10-16-03iTunes for PC's
11-12-03Ted gets 3G 20GB
12-25-03Ted lends Archos to Danny
1-6-04iPod Mini 4GB $249 (in silver, blue, green, pink, or gold); iPod 3G 15GB $299
7-19-044G iPod has buttons incorporated into scroll wheel: 20 GB $299, 40 GB $399
8-27-04HP iPods
10-28-04iPod Photo with color screen 40 GB $499, 60 GB $599; U2 iPod 20 GB $349
1-11-05Shuffle 512MB $99, 1GB $149
1-12-05Nicole gets U2 edition iPod
2-3-05Eric gets 4G 20 GB
2-23-052G mini 4GB $199, 6GB $249 (silver, blue, green, or pink); 30 GB iPod Photo $349, 60 GB $449, discontinue 40GB photo
6-28-05Monochrome 4Gs discontinued, color 20GB $299, 60GB $399; U2 iPod color $329; 1GB shuffle $129
7-26-05Danny gets 1 GB shuffle
9-7-05 Nano 2GB $199, 4GB $249 (both in black or white); mini discontinued
10-12-055G video iPod 30GB $299, 60GB $399 (in black or white)
2-7-061GB nano $149; Shuffle 512MB $69, 1GB $99
6-1-06Kelly gets black 1GB nano
6-6-06U2 edition 30 GB 5G $329
6-8-06Jeb inherits Archos from Danny
9-12-062G shuffle 1GB $79; 2G nano 2GB $149 (silver only), 4GB $199 (green, blue silver, or pink), 8GB $249 (black only); 5.5G iPod 30GB $249, 80GB $349 gets larger, brighter screen
10-13-064 GB nano available in red
11-3-068 GB nano available in red
11-6-06Claire gets blue 4GB nano; Jeb inherits Claire's shuffle
12-25-06Jeb gets black 80 GB iPod; David gets silver nano
1-30-07Shuffle gets colors: pink, green, blue, and orange in addition to silver
6-29-07iPhone introduced with AT&T cellular service only: widescreen, Mac OSX 4GB $499, 8GB $599.
9-5-07Shuffle gets different colors: cranberry, purple, light green, light blue, silver, and red. 3G nano is wider with larger screen, video; 4GB $149 (silver only), 8GB $199 (black, red, silver, light blue, light green). iPod Classic replaces 5.5G, metal case, 80 GB $249, 160 GB $349. iPod Touch widescreen, wifi, Mac OSX, 8GB $299, 16GB $399. iPhone 8GB $399.
9-5-07Ted gets black 8 GB 3G nano.
11-24-07Susan gets blue Shuffle.
12-25-07Danny gets black 8 GB 3G nano.
1-22-088GB 3G nano available in pink
2-5-0832 GB iPod Touch, $499; 16 GB iPhone, $499
2-19-08Shuffle 1 GB $49, 2 GB $69
2-20-08Nicole gets red 1 GB Shuffle and inherits Jeb's 80 GB 5.5G
5-25-08Jeb gets red 8 GB 3G nano
7-11-083G iPhone supports 3G data network, adds GPS, 8 GB $199, 16 GB $299, in black or white
8-28-08Kelly gets green 8 GB 3G nano
9-9-08Shuffle colors revert to silver, blue, green, red, pink. 2G iPod Classic 120 GB $249. 4G nano skinny again with rounded front, can be watched sideways, 8 GB $149 or 16 GB $199 with new colors: silver, black, purple, blue, lime green, yellow, orange, red, pink. 2G Touch has same form as 3G iPhone: 8 GB $229, 16 GB $299, and 32 GB $399.
9-11-08Ted gets red 16 GB 4G nano; lends 3G nano to Mom
12-12-08Ted wins light blue 8 GB 3G nano, gives it to Jami
3-11-093G shuffle, 4GB $79, in silver or black. Smaller and no buttons (controls moved to heaphone cable). Voiceover navigation speaks song titles to you.
6-19-09iPhone 3GS, 16 GB $199, 32 GB $299 in black or white. Adds digital compass, video camera. iPhone 3.0 software.
8-7-09Jeb gets 32 GB 2G iPod Touch
9-9-095G nano gets video camera, microphone, speaker, FM radio, taller screen (2.2 in). Same colors but now shiny instead of flat, 8 GB $149, 16 GB $179. Classic now 160 GB, $249. Shuffle gets colors: pink, green, and blue in addition to black and silver, 2 GB $59, 4 GB $79 (polished stainless steel version $99). 3G iPod touch higher end models get faster processor, 8 GB $199, 32 GB $299, 64 GB $399.
4-3-10iPad has 9.7-inch 1024x768 touch screen 16 GB $499, 32 GB $599, 64GB $699 for wi-fi only versions.
4-30-10iPad with 3G cellular 16GB $629, 32 GB $729, and 64 GB $829.
6-24-10iPhone 4 has flat glass back, 5 megapixel camera with LED "flash," front-facing camera (640x480) for video calls, a gyroscope for better motion detection, and a higher resolution screen (960x640), in black only, 16GB $199 or 32GB $299.
9-1-104G Shuffle returns to 2G form, 5 colors, 2GB $49. 6G nano now just a squarish touchscreen. Loses camera. 8GB $149, 16GB $179. 4G Touch gets high resolution screen (960x640), gyro, front and rear facing lo-res cameras, but maintains curved aluminum back, 8GB $229, 32GB $299, 64GB $399.
9-3-10Ted gets 64GB 4G iPod Touch
9-25-10Danny gets 32GB 4G iPod Touch
11-12-10Kathy gets blue 16GB 6G nano
2-7-11Claire gets 32 GB 4G iPod Touch
2-10-114G iPhone now available on Verizon network (hardware is slightly different)
3-11-11iPad 2 is thinner, faster with front and rear facing cameras, gyroscope, and HDMI video out. Available in black or white: 16 GB $499, 32 GB $599, 64GB $699 (with 3G wireless: 16 GB $629, 32 GB $729, 64 GB $829). iOS 4.3.
4-6-11Danny gets iPhone 4
4-28-11iPhone 4 available in white
8-15-11Kathy gets iPhone 4
10-9-11Jeb gets 64GB iPad2 with 3G
10-12-11New software interface for nano, 8 GB $129, 16 GB $149. iPod Touch available in white, 8 GB version $199. iOS 5 released.
10-14-11iPhone 4S has faster processor, 1080p video camera, doesn't need separate Verizon version. 16 GB $199, 32 GB $299, 64 GB $399.

June 4, 2006

Netflix Again

With the end of the regular TV season, I figured it was time to try Netflix out again. They tried to raise the price from $20 a month, but competition from Walmart and Blockbuster forced them to actually lower the price to $18. Still, I decided to go for the $15 per month plan that gives you only two movies at a time. That should still allow me to see three movies a week which is about the most I was ever able to watch the last time I joined.

I really do like Netflix. I enjoyed going through recommendations and finding some obscure movies and movies that I would probably never pay to rent, but would still like to see. Also, I decided to rent the first disc of Season 1 of 24 to see if I like the show and would like to buy the whole season. I came very close to buying the Season 1 DVD today, but then decided it was too big a risk for a show I had never watched and didn't know if I would even like.

Anyway, my first two movies should arrive Tuesday.

Here's my queue that I set up today. It took me at least an hour, but it was fun.

  1. March of the Penguins
  2. Wedding Crashers
  3. Sin City
  4. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
  5. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
  6. Kill Bill: Vol. 1
  7. 24: Season 1: Disc 1
  8. The Royal Tenenbaums
  9. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
  10. I, Robot
  11. The Sum of All Fears
  12. Seven Samurai
  13. Mystic River
  14. The Constant Gardener
  15. Hotel Rwanda
  16. Beyond the Sea
  17. Proof
  18. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  19. Secondhand Lions
  20. The Last Samurai
  21. City of God
  22. Spellbound
  23. Seven Up / 7 Plus Seven
  24. Brokeback Mountain
  25. Bubble Boy