Tunelink Auto, a great Bluetooth FM broadcaster auto adapter (Update: FAIL!)

Tunelink Auto from New Potato Technologies is a very cool device. Basically, it allows you to connect an iOS device via Bluetooth and broadcasts the audio to an FM station. The entire device plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter plug.

The station you use to broadcast can be set using a free app that you download from the Apple App Store. Your mileage will vary greatly depending on whether or not your area has a lot of FM stations. In San Antonio, TX, there are a few open frequencies which work fine. In Los Angeles, it’s difficult to find an open one. The app, has a feature called Speed Tune that uses your location and suggests frequencies to use.

Of course, the audio quality isn’t very good. For better quality, the device also has an 1/8″ stereo output plug so you can also connect to an Aux In or a cassette adapter, if you have one of those. It even has a USB connector so you can use it to charge your iOS device too. It comes with a 30-pin connector USB cable. The Apple Lighting adapter works fine if you’ve got an iPhone 5.

What I really like about this device is that you can set it up so that it automatically connects my iPhone to the device when I start the car and starts playing music from where I left off. When you shut off the car, the player also stops. It’s wonderful! It also plays nice with my car’s built-in Bluetooth phone connection.

I will have to say that my initial experience was less than satisfactory. Most of the time it wouldn’t connect to my iPhone and when it did, it would usually not stay connected. I also couldn’t get it to use any station other than 88.5. I contacted techsupport and they sent me another after I mailed them my old one. This one worked perfectly.

Well, my replacement unit from Jan started to get flakey with symptoms like not staying connected, difficulty pairing, etc. I sent it back and got another unit. This one is flakey too. I’m giving up. Based on the review on Amazon I am not alone. It’s got barely over 2 stars and 160 reviews! I’m going to try the Belkin Bluetooth Car Hands-Free Kit (4 stars and 677 reviews). The Griffin Technology BlueTrip also looks interesting. Look for a hands-on review soon. Wish me luck!

Posting to Facebook with a Thumbnail with an iOS Device

When you share a link using Facebook.com, it scans the page and lets you set a thumbnail image for the post. If you are on a webpage that you want to share, you can save a step if you have the Facebook Share Bookmarklet installed on your browser.

Basically, a bookmarklet is just a bookmark that executes JavaScript code instead of going to an URL. On a desktop PC browser, you can install it by just dragging the bookmarklet to your toolbar. However, it’s a little trickier to install on a mobile browser.

Fortunately this page has easy instructions on how to install the Facebook bookmarklet (and other services) on a mobile browser. Basically, you click the link for the bookmarklet you want, save as a bookmark, and then edit the URL to remove some unneeded code. It’s pretty simple.

Sharing from RSS Reader

I consume most of my Internet news from RSS feeds via Google Reader using the Reeder iPad app. Reeder’s Facebook share feature doesn’t add a thumbnail, so I use the ReadItLater service to save posts that I want to share later on Facebook. ReadItLater has a Facebook share feature, but sadly it also doesn’t add a thumbnail. As such, I would use the browser bookmarklet method. Cumbersome, but it worked.

Anyways, I just discovered the iPad app Mr. Reader and its Facebook sharing feature supports the thumbnail! Hooray! Since both are based on Google Reader, it was a painless switch from Reeder to Mr. Reader.

YouTube Video Thumbnails

For whatever reason, the thumbnail often doesn’t appear for sites that embed a YouTube video if you use the bookmarklet method. What you need to do is click on the video to open it up in YouTube. Usually, the iOS YouTube app will open since iOS doesn’t support Flash. If you tap the Share button, the app will compose an email. Change the www. to m. and just copy up to the video ID. Here’s an example: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8d-MTIJ7ZZQ The video will open in the mobile YouTube website and the Facebook Share button there will allow you to specify a thumbnail. It’s a little cumbersome, but not bad. Another way is to just copy the video URL as it appears, open Facebook.com in Safari, and share the link normally.

I hope this makes it easier to share things on Facebook. Have fun!