61% unaware of pending switch to digital only TV

The LA Times has an interesting article that supports my theory that there is going to be big trouble when the TV broadcasters switch to digital only on February 18, 2009 (coincidentally, my birthday :-), just 18 short months from now.

“”I think there's high potential for a train wreck here,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) told Federal Communications Commission” Ya think?!

approximately 20% of U.S. households — 1 million in Los Angeles alone — receive only over-the-air TV.” 

“A survey released in January by the Assn. of Public Television Stations
found that 61% of respondents were unaware of the pending digital

Perhaps Google will step in since they apparently really want the 700MHz spectrum that will be freed up.

Clicking the mouse scrollwheel tip

Yup, I said “clicking.” Many people don't know that the scrollwheel acts as a middle mouse button (MMB) when you push down on it. So what? Well, the MMB does some very cool things, particularly in web browsers, like Firefox. Clicking a link with the MMB will open it in a new tab (or window depending on how your browser is configured). Click on a tab with the MMB and the tab closes. Click on a bookmark with the MMB and it will open in a new tab/window. (I believe IE works similarly.)

Alternatively, you can hold the Ctrl key (Win) or Command key (Mac) down while you click the LEFT mouse button and accomplish the same things.

Kinoma Player for Palm rocks for streaming podcast listening

I was lured by Kinoma's wmv and Flash support as well as integration with Orb. Unfortunately, it's been hit and miss getting Orb video to stream. No problems with audio. Anyways, I was playing with its Media Guide feature. Basically, its just lists of playable audio and video feeds on the Net. I gave it a try and listened to Buzz Out Loud and Diggnation. What I discovered was that it remembered where I left off on every single podcast! Yup, auto-bookmarking on streaming media!!! Just incredible.

I've been getting tired of the manual-ness of playing podcasts on my Creative Zen V, but I guess I may still need to do that for listening in the car…well unless I tether to my phone, but that could be cumbersome.

Appears to be Palm only, but a must-have for any TX or Treo owner.

Still working out Orb video streaming and that hopefully will be the topic of a future blog entry. 

Perfect universal charging system…even charges Creative Zen V

Why do most portable device manufacturers feel the need to use proprietary connectors on the opposite end of their USB cable? I HATE THAT!!! What’s worse is that some devices like my Creative Zen V Plus and Sony Ericsson W810i will only charge via USB if they are connected to a PC. You can’t just plug their USB cables into one of those AC adapters with a USB charging port.

Anyway, I stumbled onto the Gomadic.com charging system and decided to try. I was skeptical that their Creative Zen V “tip” which has a normal mini-USB connector, would actually work. They would have to do some extra wiring to fool the device into charging without the PC data connection. Well…the damn thing works! The Sony Ericsson tip also works like a charm! I also got a Palm TX tip, although I’ve never had a charging issue with its standard cable.

The Gomadic system is based around a 1/8th inch 4-conductor plug (similar to mini-stereo headphone plug) and they support a pretty wide range of devices. They have a version that has two connectors for simultaneously charging two devices and that’s the one I got. I also got the USB retractable connection cable. I already had a AC/Car-to-usb adapter and found that the Gomadic USB cable works fine with it. In other words, you don’t have to plug their USB cable into a PC for it to work. That means all of the circuitry is in the tips, not the cable–that was what I was hoping for. The USB cable+tip even works as a regular data cable for the Zen V and W810i, so it does more than just charge.

If you want to be absolute minimalistic, just get the appropriate tip and their USB cable. With the Creative Zen V, for example, the benefit over a standard USB cable is that you will be able to charge your device by plugging into any USB outlet, not just a PC. So USB AC adapter, USB car adapter, USB battery adapter, etc.�

I feel like I’ve finally found the do-all universal charging system with Gomadic.�

Note that I have tried the iGo, but eBay’d it and got the Kensington due to its
slim formfactor. These are great for laptops, but overkill for smaller
USB-charging devices.