Awesome leather case for N800

Got this for $18.69 + 6.30 SH&H on eBay from AstorStore. I’ve tried the original lame case that comes with the N800, a modded PSP clear case, and a portable 2.5″ HD Case Logic case, and I’ve never been truly satisfied. They either didn’t provide enough protection or where just too bulky and inefficient. I though I’d take one more chance with one I found on eBay and it looks like my patience paid off.

The N800 fits snugly, but slides easily in and out. The latch is magnetic and fairly strong, but I don’t think I’d truly trust this set up on my belt. The N800 is fairly heavy and it wouldn’t take much for it to pop out of this case and onto the ground. Still, the front and back panels are fairly rigid and I’m pretty confident the screen is reasonably protected. I’m guessing it’s just thick cardboard inside and not rigid plastic and definitely not metal. Mainly I’ll be using it when I carry the N800 in my briefcase, so it should be fine.

It came from China, so I was a little skeptical on the build quality based on previous experiences. However, it seems very well constructed and I’m extremely happy. We’ll see how well it holds up over time, but it looks well made.

The brand is PDAir and there is a website at pdair.com. This case is being sold for $28 there. They sell a similar one for the N810 for the same price. Below are some pictures I took myself.

Vista Aeroglass IMPROVES video performance

Yup, you read that right. For some unexplainable reason, turning ON Vista Aeroglass improved video performance on my Motion Computing LE1700!

I was having issues playing back full-screen video. It would play fine at 100-200% size, but go full-screen and I'd get only a few frames per second. I determined I only had a problem using
SXGA+ (1400 X 1050). If I went down to XGA 1280 X 1024, full-screen
video played back fairly smoothly. HOWEVER, I also noticed that with
XGA, I all of a sudden got the Vista Aeroglass effect (transparent window borders). For some unknown reason,
it would automatically turn off Aeroglass with SXGA+ and back on again with lower
resolutions. Weird…but it gets weirder. I manually turned on
Aeroglass and, voila, full-screen video plays back smoothly at SXGA+!

I'm also finding that any graphical performance is significantly improved, like web pages with lots of images, album art in my media player, etc. The images display faster and I can scroll the page much smoother.

I've never read that turning ON Aeroglass improves performance, but in this case, that is exactly what happens.

Streaming videos to Xbox 360 and N800 using TVersity!

Finally got to reading my March 2008 issue of Maximum PC and came across this article on TVersity which was supposed to allow me to stream DivX and XVid videos from my PC to my Xbox 360. Well, it couldn’t have been easier. I just installed the app, the Xbox saw the share and I was watching the videos! Wow! I didn’t even do any of the codec installation procedures. It’s donation ware and I’ll prolly toss them a few bones.

It runs as a server service, kind of like Orb, and doesn’t seem to use much in the way of CPU resources. An unexpected benefit is that it appeared as a share on my N800 without doing anything! Based on the options it looks like it also supports many other devices like the iPhone and PSP, but I can’t test. I wonder if the N95 would work…

Not quite as nice as running XBMC on the original Xbox so I guess I’ll continue to keep that around, but I could see it getting used less and less. Check it out peeps!

Microsoft Outlook macro to move mail to Trash when using Gmail IMAP

A lot has been written about how Google was able to adapt their email engine to support IMAP. It’s use of labels instead of a folder hierachy results in emails never being really deleted even when they are no longer visible in the Inbox folder/label. Essentially, the “Inbox” label is removed, so the email no longer appears in the Inbox. It remains, however, on the mail server.

The quick solution is to just drag emails to the Trash “folder” (really just a special label). This macro automates the process and will automatically move selected emails to the Google [Gmail]/Trash folder, just like deleting normally. Gmail deletes Trash email after 30 days.

Installation instruction are included in the file. As always, use at your own risk.

Go to Downloads page

Replacing the battery in a Nokia AD-43 Audio Controller for the N95

This is the wired remote control that comes with the Nokia N95. The original one I had started getting the “Enhancement not supported” error message when I plugged it in. I read that this usually meant the battery was dead, but found it hard to believe there was a battery even in it since there seemed to be no way to get to it and replace it. Well, since I had an extra one, I decided to just experiment.

I read there was a screw underneath the spring-loaded clip and I thought I found it beneath the “A” in NOKIA stamped on the back. I figured I could drill a hole in the clip and unscrew it. Smart, huh? Well, as you can see, it’s a decoy “fake” hole and the real one is right next to the spring. Unfortunately, I had to destroy the unit to figure that out. The method would have worked if I would have drilled the hole in the right spot…good idea…bad execution.

As you can see below, the tiny Phillips head screw sits on a riser. I obviously did not get to try it, but it appears that if you unscrewed it, the silver part of the device would come off with a little prying. There appeared to be no glue or anything else holding it together.

When you lift the circuit board, do it initially from the side with the cord. The opposite side has the headphone connector which is anchored in the hole in the casing. Helps to hold it in I suppose. After you lift it a bit, you’ll need to pull it toward the corded side to slide the connector on the circuit board out of the casing hole. Do this very carefully and note the one switch (I’m not sure what it does) may fall out. The other switches (volume) are attached to the case.

The large circular thing above is the battery and it sits below the circuit board. Note that the battery is adhered to the plastic case underneath it with some two-way stickly stuff. You can just pry it lose. It’s a 3V Lithium Battery model CR2032.

Initially, I tried to push out the small rod acting as a hinge, but its pretty tight and wouldn’t budge. If I do it again, I’ll definitely still go with drilling a hole.

Happy to take the hit for whomever else may try this. These instructions and pictures should help immensely. Obviously, this will void any warranty and do this at your own risk, but this goes without saying, huh?�

Nokia N800 with Canola 2 scratches my iPod Touch itch

Since the introduction of the iPhone, and later iPod Touch, I’ve been drolling over their sexc UI, particularly the coverflow feature. I also like the Safari browser, but without things like Flash support, I’m sure it’s significant limitations would eventually get to me. Another issue was that I have a lot of music in Microsoft’s WMA format which obviously is not supported by Apple.

With my N800 mostly gathering dust, I remembered the Canola media player just released their version 2 beta. I did a little research and upgraded to the latest beta. It only took a few moments with Canola to realize that I already owned something very close to the iPod Touch. Not only does it support WMAs (as well as other audio formats), but it also plays XVid AVIs! (A summary of Canola’s capabilities can be found here.)

Podcast support is there, but implementation is a little rough at the moment. This should improve by release time, but the built-in N800 RSS reader also plays podcasts and albeit not as pretty, it works fairly well. There is also a Youtube plugin due out soon which looks very cool.

The UI is Vista-like. Icons and images, float, slide and fade in/out. Nothing overdone–just a cool user experience.

Under My Music lies mostly the standard music playing options, like Artists, Albums, Playlists, and Genres. In iPod-like fashion there are also Top rated and Most played songs options. There is even a Play random options which just plays everything ya got…well…randomly. My favorite way to select my music, however, is the Album covers option.

Note: there is a (poorly named) utility you should install called
“canola-tuning.” This utility will go out and find album art and video
thumbnails for your music and videos. It seems to work wonderfully
well. I’m hoping the released version of Canola just integrates this
feature into the app. It’s available in the same place you get Canola. Currently, there seems to be no way to manually
add album art.

The initial screen presents you with two continuous rows of album covers with the album title and artist appearing just below each cover image. You can drag the screen to scroll though all of the album art.

Tapping on an album image brings up a larger image with the available songs in a scrollable window just to the right. Tapping on this album image brings up thumbnails of alternate album art, if any.About 1/4 of the preceding and following album covers are visible on the left and right margins of the screen. Tapping these slides then selected album to the forefront. Very cool.

Tap on a song in the song list and Canola starts playing the album at that song. There appears to be no way (yet) to make a playlist on-the-fly, but you can rate the song using a 5-star system which places the song on the Top rated list.

Another thing I love is that there is a little icon in the upper-right that you can tap to bring you directly back to what’s now playing. No need to navigate through a menu hierarchy.�

After playing a length with the iPod Touch in the Apple store, I can say that Canola on the N800 totally eliminates much desire for one due to better format support for audio and video, a similar UI, and the many other superior abilities of Canola and the N800. I would say that the UI is currently not as quick and snappy as the Touch, but it’s pretty smooth and it’s still beta so I would expect performance to improve. Many more pluses than minuses and for $59 bucks I’ve got a 16GB SDHC card. The N800’s battery isn’t the greatest and that might be this setup’s Achilles heel. However, for me, I’ve got several ways to charge since I can use the various charging accessories I have for my N95. That’s nice.

Thank you Canola developers INdT! Can’t wait for the release version.

NOTE: If you have trouble installing Canola 2, also install and run the Canola2-cleanup. It does some behind the scenes clean up that allows successful installation of Canola 2, particularly if you had a prior version installed–even if you’ve uninstalled it.

————-�

Update #1: I forgot to add that another benefit is that I can upgrade storage as larger SDHC cards come out. I’ve only got one 16GB in there now, but since it has two slots I could put a whopping 32GB in the N800! Moreover, it uses the cheaper and highest capacity full-sized SDHC cards. 32GB have just come out, but they are $400! They’ll come down soon enuf though. Geez. That’s potentially 64GB!

Playlist.com is so cool, it HAS to be illegal

My daughter showed me this cool site called Project Playlist (playlist.com). It’s a social networking site based totally around music. You enter an artist in the search list and it comes up with a bunch of hits. You can then add them to your own custom playlist. It appears that many (most?) of the links are to MP3s sitting on various web sites. This isn’t something like Pandora or Slacker, where you aren’t in full control of what’s playing. You can even get the URL of the file so you could download the file if you wanted.

You can also add the player to your website as I have done on Offbe.at. They seem to have a pretty good library and was able to find some obscure stuff, but not everything. Check it out and enjoy while its still around ;-)

Golf ball finder

This just seems too good to be true, at least if you are a golfer.

From the Shipdog.com website:

What is the Ballfinder SCOUT ?
The
Ballfinder Scout� is a new innovative electronic device developed to
locate lost golf balls.� Developed by world-famous scientists at
Sarnoff Corporation, the Ballfinder Scout� uses
a Proprietary digital imaging system to locate��� golf-balls.�

It works with any standard� ball The 3.2
megapixel imager locates golf balls within
seconds at 35 feet when only 3 dimples
are visible. Leading you to your golf ball

The location is displayed on an LCD display
screena vibro-buzz confirms successful
ball location and LED lights� point the direction
to the lost balls location on the golf course !�

What The Ballfinder Scout will Do For Golf ?

The Ballfinder Scout� will
revolutionise the way you play golf by speeding up play so you spend
more time making shots and less time hunting for lost balls.�

The fewer balls you lose, the more
money you’ll save.� But most importantly, you can avoid the frustration
of stopping a round to search for a lost ball. Speed up pace of play
and reduce the cost of replacing lost expensive brand name golf balls..
Get the First EVER Golf ball finder technology in your golf bag!

Motion Computing LE1700 Convertible Keyboard is great!

Well I tried the Bluetooth keyboard route, but the cheapo Chinese one I got off eBay sucked. $30 down the tubes. All of the other major brand ones were just too big. Too bad Apple doesn’t make a Windows driver for their cool new slim Bluetooth keyboard.

The other thing I didn’t like was having to connect & disconnect the power cable all the time. I basically decided to just bite the bullet and get the $170 convertible keyboard from Motion Computing. For me, the two major selling points are 1) it’s powered and charges the slate, which makes up for it not being wireless, and 2) it snaps to the slate and protects the screen when traveling.

It seems to be very sturdy and is much like typing on a laptop. The thin keyboard skin that come pre-applied makes it a little musty, but not that bad. I’ll definitely get used to it. I was touch typing without any issues.

The slate slides in and out of the dock with ease. There is a little plastic cover that you must remove from the state to expose the connector at the bottom. I would have preferred a hinged door rather then a small piece that could be lost, but I suppose there’s no harm in leaving the connector exposed as long as I’m careful. you can angle the screen any way you want which is nice. I hope the hinge holds out.

It’s definitely the way to go and I’m glad I got it. I would say it is a must-have accessory.