Category: Caitlin's Hype Posts

Sorry for the late post, readers. I’ve been attacked by some sort of virus- no, not a computer virus, a real person one. I’m finally out of the fever delirium enough to write a cohesive post (hopefully that English essay I wrote last night is good enough..)

Ok, so as college students, a majority of us tend to go to parties on occasion (I believe that’s how I caught my illness in fact- walking back in the hurricane Brockport experienced this past weekend). We all love to have a good time, blasting music and hanging out with friends. Whether you drink alcohol or not, there’s still that ever-present worry that someone is going to knock his drink onto your laptop, ending the tunes, and more importantly, deleting that final paper you’ve been working on for weeeeeks (ok, days.)

This is where technology comes in. You use Wi-Fi to surf the net while sitting on your couch, why not let it help you keep the music going too? Logitech is the clear answer here. The Logitech Squeezebox Radio does what other streaming radios can’t- it delivers music without the need of a stereo system.

According to the Logitech website, “The Logitech Squeezebox Radio works with your Wi-Fi network to stream a world of crystal-clear music to any room in your house. You can play songs from your personal digital music collection, tune in to thousands of Internet radio stations from around the globe, and connect to online services like Pandora® , Slacker® or Rhapsody® . Your listening options are as limitless as the Internet.”

In English? That free Wi-Fi your school provides can make your music accessible ANYWHERE. And if you’re looking for the perfect song, but know you don’t have it on your computer, you can connect to music services that let you look it up and play it for FREE.

Best of all, this thing is tiny. Like, clock radio tiny. (Or if you don’t know what that it, like average size of a girl’s wallet tiny). Plus, the full-color screen makes it fun. You can view album art, track and station information, visualizers and screen savers, just like on iPods (which you can plug in, if for some reason your computer’s library won’t connect). You can even use your own photos from Flickr and Facebook as a screen saver. The Logitech Squeezebox is $200, which may seem like a lot, but if you have an expensive laptop, no insurance and like to party, it may be worth the investment.

Trust me, in this case, the price is definitely worth it! Add in the fact the battery is rechargeable, and you’ll be saving dough in no time. So check it, get unconnected (in this Wi-Fi case) and throw an awesome party with no worries on how your final paper will fare.

Avoding iPod disaster

Imagine this: Your computer just broke. You go out and buy a new laptop and go to download iTunes.  Suddenly you realize you can’t plug in your iPod without it erasing the music off it. What are you to do, besides rip your hair out in frustration?

This recently happened to me and I luckily found a great program to help me out (after scouring the Internet for about two hours). TouchCopy is a conversion program to help people get their music where it needs to be. After downloading and installing the program, plug in your iPod and open the program. You’ll then see something like this screen:

As you can see on mine, the bar at the top says “0 Demo Copies left”. The program allows you to copy 100 songs for free before requiring you to upgrade to a full version for $24.99. I had some of my music on an external hard drive, so I used this program to get the majority of the rest of the songs I wanted.

As you see at the top, the program lets your sort by genre, artist and album, making it easy to find your favorite song. After seeing that main screen, go through the list of songs at the bottom and click one that you want. After it’s highlighted, click “Copy to iTunes” (or to PC if you don’t use iTunes/want to manually add the songs to iTunes).

The song will the automatically be downloaded (showing a progress bar as you go) and ready for you to use! After you download a song, click “Items Copied” on the far left to see what songs you already did, as shown below:

Click on “Items to be Copied” to see what songs haven’t been transferred to your computer yet or click “Not in iTunes” to see what songs haven’t be added to your library.

Besides music, the program can also copy photos, your calendar and contacts for you. This is especially beneficial to people with the iPhone who want to back up their important information.

TouchCopy works not only as a transfer program, but as a music player as well.  As you’re copying your music, you can play your songs too! This comes in handy if you can’t remember the exact name of that song you love, but know you downloaded it.  Find a song you think may be in and just push play.

So if you’re in need of a lifesaving music transfer program like I was, check out TouchCopy. It does wonders and saves you the hassle of manipulating the files within the iPod file directory, something you don’t want to risk messing up.

Finally, if you need a step-by-step video instruction guide, I’ve posted TouchCopy’s version below. If not for the instructions, at least check out the cool British voice the lady has!

Flip it!

At least we don't have to deal with these anymore! (photo from stock.xchng)

Remember the days of bulky, so-so quality video camcorders? You’d have to rewind the tapes (either regular size or mini), which could only hold few hours max, and the cameras were a pain to carry around.

Those days are gone with new Flip Camcorders.  This company has release five models of portable, HD camcorders that not only look cool, but can hold up to four hours of video (depending on the model).  While I personally haven’t tried these cameras out, I’ve heard a lot about them from teachers and friends and they seem really cool.

Out of the five styles of camcorders, three of them can be “designed” to have cool skins over them, with images from the company’s design gallery, a pattern generator or your own uploaded image. This feature is really cool I think, because skins are becoming really popular with cell phones and computers, as they allow users to show off their own personalities and flair.

There are a few downsides that I’ve noticed when looking at the specs for these cameras.  First off, while one of the cameras (the SlideHD) can record up to four hours of video, the other options are only two hours of video, minus the MinoHD 4GB model, which holds one hour worth of video.  Granted, this is still okay because users can just plug the camcorder into their computers and upload the film instantly, instead of using loads of tapes or mini-disks.

Another downside is the price.  While most electronics are expensive these days, and I’m sure it’s worth it, $279.99 for the top model seems a little much for me right now.  Considering iPod Nano’s now have a video feature, one that can hold up to 16 hours of footage, plus play music through MP3s or the FM tuner, all for only $179 (16GB).  Sure the quality on this isn’t as good, but I doubt the Flip Cam will be being used for professional footage anytime soon.

That being said, the Flip Cam does look very cool and I think it’d be very neat to have, especially for bloggers.  Video is being added to everything now, so having a portable, cool looking video camera would be really neat.  Maybe before I go to Australia I’ll pick one up…

Motion sensing taken to the next level

If this works the way it’s supposed to, it will revolutionize gaming even more than the Wii did. Nicknamed “Project Natal,” the device “uses cameras and a microphone mounted to a Wii-style sensor bar to detect the user,” according to a Fox News article. “It recognizes movements, talking, and can even tell the difference between me and my grandma.”

Even better than how cool this thing looks? Natal isn’t a brand new console- rather it’s an accessory add-on that will work with any Xbox 360!

While this seems absolutely amazing, you always have to wonder if it’ll work as well as the video makes it look.  Another point of concern that I thought about is what games will work best with it.  Obviously the video shows game shows, racing and other similar games on it, and that’s cool, but what about “hardcore” games, like Call of Duty or HALO? Will you have to fall flat to the floor and cover your head after “throwing” a grenade at the screen?

I can see this being really cool for families to get involved in gaming.  Kids will love getting to “really” control everything and parents and grandparents can get involved, even if they aren’t that video game-smart.

All this depends on the price though. The accessory is going to cost a pretty penny I’m sure, and that’s reasonable, but will all new games have to be bought? If I already have “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” will I have to buy a Natal-ready version of that game? If Microsoft is able to get it so old games work with this new device, then it’ll easily be a big hit. But they won’t earn as much money that way, so I could see it only working with compatible games, which will be a shame if that happens.

Multitasking is finally here!

Yes! Yes! Yes!! Apple is finally fixing one of it’s biggest problems in the iTouch/iPhone!

Multitasking is coming to the iPod world! Multitasking refers to being able to switch between applications and use one while others keep doing other tasks in the background.  For example, multitasking would allow a user to listen to the radio using the Pandora application, and check their Facebook using the Facebook application at the same time.  While some apps have tried to incorporate their own version of this (Flycast Radio has an option to open a web browser page within the radio player), a consistent multitasking tool will be fantastic.

Just as I was getting excited about this though, bad news was delivered: the upgrade won’t work for older iTouchs/iPhones.  I have an original iTouch.  It’s fantastic and frankly, not that different from the newer iTouches.  I’m not planning on buying a new one any time soon because it still does it’s job.

Why would Steve Jobs not want to incorporate multitasking into the older iPods? I know I would be more than willing to pay for the upgrade to get the feature.  The only reasoning I’ve found was that it’s possible multitasking runs too slow on older iPods due to less RAM.

Ok, so it’s a little slow.  Let us decide for ourselves Mr. Jobs.  I personally would be okay with it moving slowly if I got to use multiple apps at once.

Of course, if you’re tech savvy, you can make your iPod multitasking friendly if you want to.  This requires changing a line of code in the N82AP.plist file, which implies you have root access to your iPod through jailbreak.  So basically, if you know what any of that means, you can do it.  Or, if you’re like, you’re stuck with a non-multitasking iTouch.

I suppose I’ll just wait until my iTouch dies and I have to buy a new one.  Multitasking would be fantastic, but isn’t stopping me from not using the iTouch right now.  It’d be cool to listen to the radio and play games/surf the web at the same time, but it’s not my biggest concern at the moment.  My biggest concern is who I have to bride to get me one of those iPads..

I’m a sucker for a good tech tool

I want an iPad.  It’s that simple.  I have an iTouch, which I absolutely love, so why wouldn’t I want the newer, bigger, cooler version of it??  There is the slight problem of it costing $500.  I’m a poor college student, so that’s probably not going to happen any time soon, but hey, a girl can dream.

Some of you may be thinking “I’ve read about this, but what makes it so cool?” To answer that, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 coolest features of the iPad

  1. HD– the thing can play HD videos like it’s no one’s business.  Imagine having the 9.7 inch screen lit up with your favorite movie on a long flight.  Purely gorgeous.
  2. Long Lasting– the battery lasts 10 hours on one charge, while surfing the Web, listening to music or watching videos.  My iTouch has a long life, but once I start playing videos, it dies fairly quickly.
  3. Wireless– It automatically connects to available networks. ‘Nuf said.  Also, the iPad has Bluetooth technology to connect wireless headphones or a keyboard to.
  4. 3G– Sick of those wireless dead zones? Though it hasn’t been released yet, there will be a 3G model of the iPad released in late April, providing coverage where Wi-Fi fails.
  5. Audio Capabilities– built-in speakers, headphone jack and built-in mic.  Anyway you want your audio, you can have it.
  6. QWERTY– the virtual keyboard on the iPad is much larger and easier to use than the iTouch or cellphones.  It’s almost like a real keyboard in size.
  7. YouTube– YouTube and Apple collaborated to create an app specifically for the iPad, making finding videos even easier.  Speaking of apps…
  8. iBooks– the free book app created by Apple allows for full books to be downloaded.  While the books cost money, the full screen should make it feel like you’re reading a real book.
  9. iWork– this is the app every businessperson needs, especially if they have an iPad.  You can use this app to make professional power points on the go, and then can simply email them to yourself when you’re done!
  10. Apple– it’s all in the brand name.  Everyone knows Apple is legit.  Even my mom, a hardcore PC, admitted that Macs were really good.  With the iPad, you’ll be investing in a product that is guaranteed to be good (guaranteed to the point that Apple has warranties included, with options to upgrade).

And there you have it, 10 reasons why I think the iPad is fantastic.  Sure, it’s bound to get some bad reviews.  Or a few naysayers will say “what’s the point of it?” But it’s cool and I like technology, so I think we’d be a perfect match.

If you’d like to donate to the “Buy Caitlin an iPad” fund, please email me for details….

Bigger isn’t always better

People may not know this about me, but I love video games.  I still remember my parents buying me and my sister a Sega Genesis for Christmas when I was in 3rd grade.  I was hooked.  I still am, actually, as that same Sega Genesis is with me here at college!

I own a lot of different gaming consoles, from the Genesis to a Wii to my Nintendo DS, so when Yahoo! posted an article about the new Nintendo DSi XL, I was intrigued.

This new Nintendo has a bigger screen (93% larger than the DS Lite!) and longer battery life, but is bigger always better? My answer: no. Sure this new gaming system has a larger screen, a brighter backlight, etc. etc., but the point of an Nintendo has always been that it’s PORTABLE.  What’s next, reverting back to the original grey Nintendo Gameboy?? (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

The point of portable gaming consoles is to take them with you wherever you go.  Yeah, this new DSi XL has a longer battery life so you can play more, but if you can’t easily carry it with you, why would you need to have the long battery life?

According to the Yahoo! article, “By most accounts, the DSi XL is a little too bulky to tote around in your front pocket. It’s not as unwieldy as an iPad, but it’s hardly as portable as your iPhone…or your standard DSi.”  This brings up a good point: iPhone/iTouches let you download games for relatively cheap and are extremely portable.  Sure, you may not be able to find Mario Cart, but you can find 50 other racing games, some that probably are very similar.

A screen shot from my iTunes store, showing just a few of the racing titles available. Try one of these out instead of wasting $30 on Mario Cart!

Why bother paying $15-30 per DS game, when you can pay $5, $3, or even $0 for a game from iTunes.  I can understand paying for games that are used on Wiis, etc. because that platform isn’t replicated on iPhones, but when it comes to games that require you to push 2 buttons, don’t bother wasting your money.

I love my Nintendo DS, but I only buy secondhand games.  If I want something new, I either buy something similar on my iTouch, or get it for my Wii (as Nintendo makes many of its games for all their platforms).  So skip on the DSi XL unless you want to pay to have a heavy, awkward videgame controller.

Popping out of your television set

In just one week, Panasonic’s 3D television has sold out. The first 3D TV to hit markets, Panasonic’s 50-inch television cost around $3,000, according to ABC news.

Recently, 3D technology has become the “it” thing, as films like “Avatar” and the upcoming Pixar film “Dragon” feature the technology.  There is talk of more and more films getting the 3D treatment, including “Toy Story 3”, which comes out later this year.  Luckily, director Judd Apatow is against this move, stating on Jay Leno last week that “I’m pretty sure nobody wants to see Jason Segal’s [private parts] in 3D. I’m pretty sure of that!”

While Apatow joked about the newly hot technology, it is a very real possibility that every film and TV show will be in 3D soon.  These televisions, with makers like Sony and Panasonic, can operate in both 2D and 3D mode, allowing viewers to choose their 3D watching.

I personally think it’d be pretty cool to have 3D TV and films in my house.  I love 3D and the only thing that stopped me from watching “Avatar” was that it is 3 hours long.  There’s no way I can sit still that long!  As for “Toy Story 3,” I’ll be the first in line.

Too bad you can't just steal these from the movie theatres for your 3D TV! (photo from stock.xchng)

There is one major snag with these new 3D television sets.  The glasses aren’t included.  And they aren’t your typical red/blue cardboard glasses either.  One pair of these glasses cost around $150.  According to Panasonic’s Web site, two pairs of glasses are included with the TV, which is better than what I originally thought it’d be (no glasses included).  Still, if you have a family, you’re going to have to shell out major dough to enjoy having a 3D theatre in your house.

Unplug yourself from the past

This image could be a thing of the past if Powermat has its way (image courtesy of stock.xchng)

As I returned home this week for Spring Break (yay!) I ran into one of my pet peeves- all of my cords decided to wind themselves into one knotted ball of wires.  Now, this wasn’t too big of a problem for me right now, but I’m flying to Boston later in the week and am just dreading having it happen on the plane.

In steps the Powermat.

The Powermat, a nifty new contraption that eliminates cords, would be perfect for me, especially while traveling. The way this works is that you attach a Powermat receiver to the back of your appliance your cellphone, iPod, Nintendo DS, GPS, whatever.  When your appliance needs to be recharged, simply place it on the charging mat and voila!

So how does it work? According to Amazon, “Powermat utilizes principles of magnetic induction combined with Powermat proprietary patent-pending technology to safely and effectively provide power to electronic devices. Powermat transforms surfaces including walls, tables, floors and desktops into safe, simple, and efficient conductors of energy.” What does that mean? I’m not quite sure either, but I think it basically transforms magnetic energy into a charge for the appliances.

The mat not only lets you charge wirelessly, but has USB ports for charging incase your device won’t recognize the Powermat for some reason.

All in all I can see this being popular for businessmen (or others that travel a lot and need constant access to their offices/family/etc.). For your average person? Not so much right now. I’d love to try one, but I’m not willing to shell out $85-100 for the charging dock (there’s multiple color choices along with portable and home/office docking station options) and $35-40 per receiver right now. If iPods/cell phones start having receivers built-in, then I’ll be the first to sign up.

Making zipdrives obsolete

Alright so there’s this nifty new software program going around that I recently was told about (props to my sister for actually being ahead of me in technology for once).  It’s called Dropbox and is actually pretty cool.  It’s a program that allows you to store documents-no more emailing to yourself or zipdrives! Think of it as a File City (for you Brockport kids) that you have more control over and is more reliable.

All you have to do is download the program onto whatever computers you use and create your account.  After that, as long as you save the file into the Dropbox program, it’ll be on any of those computers when you need it.

Some cool features with Dropbox is that it automatically creates a backup file that is saved online, you can invite others to be able to see files (think how easy group power points or reports would be!), it automatically syncs when changes are made to the file, so once it’s uploaded you’re good to go, and finally….there’s an app for it.  So say you’re sitting on the bus, when you suddenly get an amazing idea for a story.  Instead of frantically looking for a pen, type it out on your “Notes” section of your ipod (if you have a touch or iphone), and you can automatically send it to all of your computers without having to deal with emails, a great thing especially if you have the touch and your email isn’t automatically synced to the ipod.  Better yet, the app is free! And we all love free stuff!

Speaking of free, the program is free to download and comes with 2GB of space for you to use for whatever files you want.  If you need more than that, it goes up to $9.99/month and $19.99/per month for larger amounts of gigs.

So why not check it out? It’s free, it’s easy, and it will save you loads of time in the end!