Author Archive for Joe Hutsko

Jasper-equipped Xbox 360s arrive, manufacturing date, lot and team details revealed

UPDATE 12-10-2008: Check out this story on to see the new Jasper-equipped Xbox 360 and find out what to look for when seeking a Jasper Xbox 360 of your own.

According to the Xbox 360 DVD Drive Database, it appears Xbox 360s outfitted with the much-anticipated Jasper chipset have finally started showing up in stores and at online retailers.

The key things to look for when buying a new Xbox 360 with the Jasper chipset is a manufacturing date (MFR) as early as 2008-08-06, Lot 8031 and up, and Team CSON. (You may have to bribe your local GameSpot salesperson to poke his or her finger through the serial number window of 360 box to inspect the manufacturing date.)

For those unfamiliar with why Jasper’s such a big deal, the chipset features 65nm (nanometers) GPU and CPU chips that require less power and are expected to offer cooler, quieter operation – and consequently fewer RRoD (Red Ring of Death) failures.

Here’s a link so you can check out all of the details for yourself: Xbox 360 DVD Drive Database.


Consumers Want, and Are Skeptical About, Eco-Electronics – Green Inc. Blog –

Consumers Want, and Are Skeptical About, Eco-Electronics – Green Inc. Blog –


Among other findings from a survey released today by the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry group representing computer and gadget manufacturers, 89 percent of consumers said that energy efficiency would be a factor in choosing their next television — even as less than half of the 960 people surveyed said they’re generally able to make sense of the environmental attributes attached to electronics on the market.

Read the full story here: Consumers Want, and Are Skeptical About, Eco-Electronics – Green Inc. Blog –


Holiday Gadget Gifts in Shades of Green – Green Inc. Blog – NY

Holiday Gadget Gifts in Shades of Green

Looking to give the gadget fan in your life something green this holiday? While the environmental credentials attending most electronics are forever a work in progress, there are plenty of gadgets on the market that at least make an attempt at reducing their footprints — or yours. They can be as inexpensive and thoughtful as a rechargeable battery kit, or as costly and eye-popping as an eco-friendlier HDTV.

Following are a few gift ideas that should keep giving well after the holidays.

Read the full story: Holiday Gadget Gifts in Shades of Green – Green Inc. Blog –


Android App Tackles Carbon Footprints – Green Inc. Blog –

Android App Tackles Carbon Footprints


While downloadable applications for the iPhone have enjoyed most of the spotlight since they began shipping, momentum is building for apps that run on the Google Android operating system, which drives the first retail Android device, T-Mobile’s G1.

One application to catch my eye is Ecorio, a carbon footprint calculator that taps into the G1’s GPS feature to track movement. Mode of travel choices include automobile, public transit and bicycle.

Link to full story: Android App Tackles Carbon Footprints – Green Inc. Blog –


Greenpeace Identifies Winners and Losers Among Gadget Makers – Green Inc. Blog –

Greenpeace Identifies Winners and Losers Among Gadget Makers

Greenpeace today released its latest Guide to Green Electronics, which ranks the top eighteen consumer electronics manufacturers based on overall sustainability.

Link to full story: Greenpeace Identifies Winners and Losers Among Gadget Makers – Green Inc. Blog –


Consumption Study Takes Aim at Game Consoles – – Green Inc.

Consumption Study Takes Aim at Game Consoles – Green Inc. Blog –

In a new study about how much energy video game consoles consume, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that consoles in use today consume “an estimated 16 billion-kilowatt hours per year,” which, the report goes on to translate, is “roughly equal to the annual electricity use of the city of San Diego.”

Link to full story: Consumption Study Takes Aim at Game Consoles – Green Inc. Blog –


Recharging More Efficiently – Green Inc. Blog –

Recharging More Efficiently – Green Inc. Blog –


The Powerstick by Ecosol charges your gadgets and keeps an eye on its own energy consumption.

Link to full story: Recharging More Efficiently – Green Inc. Blog –


The New MacBook’s Green Credentials – Green Inc. Blog –

The New MacBook’s Green Credentials

It’s certainly a step above other notebooks on the green front, but there are still some shortcomings.

Link to full story: The New MacBook’s Green Credentials – Green Inc. Blog –


NY Times Green Gadgets: Bionic Power and People-Powered Playthings

Two Green Gadgets posts in today’s New York Times Green Inc. section:

Bionic Power: ‘Culturing an Appreciation of Energy and Power’
New York Times – United States

By Joe Hutsko Max Donelan is an assistant professor of kinesiology at imon Fraser University near Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also the chief science …
See all stories on this topic


Green Gadgets: People-Powered Playthings
New York Times – United States
By Joe Hutsko Sony’s sustainability design group is developing a variety of crank-powered gadgets. (Photo: Sony) Among Time Magazine’s Best Innovations for …
See all stories on this topic


NY Times Green Inc.: iPhone App Gives Drivers Efficiency Feedback

Green Inc.: iPhone App Gives Drivers Efficiency Feedback

By By Joe Hutsko

Published: October 30, 2008

An application for the iPhone or iPod Touch gives drivers the ability to track their fuel efficiency.



New Green Gadgets post for the New York Times’ Green Inc. section

On my site I’ve posted a link to my first Green Gadgets post for the Green Inc. Blog section of the

Saving Enough Computer Energy to “Toast 188 Slices of Bread”

Watch for new posts every Tuesday and Thursday.


30-second review: Pogo Stylus for iPhone/iPod touch for the fingernail-challenged

The Pogo Stylus is an aluminum stick with a small and fuzzy hairdo on one end that can be used in lieu of your fingertip to interact with iPhone and iPod touch screens.

The stylus comes with a slide-on holder to keep the stick close at hand yet isn’t exactly comfortable to hold in because it must be positioned midway or below rather than near the upper half of the iPhone (doing so presses on the volume keys, a no-no).

While my iPhone 3G responds to my fingertip with the lightest touch, the Pogo Stylus requires a firmer press to get the iPhone to recognize it. Bottom line: Unless you’re sporting fingernails of the Cat Woman variety that prevent you from making contact with your device, hang on to your $20 and let your own fingers do the touching.


One-Minute Review: More-Thing Ultra Slim Silicone Case for iPhone 3G is as flimsy and useless as a used condom

The title of this post is actually gentler than my initial title idea: “Objects are shittier than they appear.” And let me tell you, the More-Thing Ultra Slim Silicone Case is a piece of shit. It’s as flimsy and formless as a pair of stretched-out, decades-old Fruit of the Loom briefs (which are actually more useful than this crappy silicone case).

Don’t let the More-Thing website fool you: Those gorgeous, Penthouse-quality Vaseline-dabbed-lens beauty shots of the Ultra Slim Silicone cases in all their throbbing-colors glory with names like Tomato and Liquid Blue are bullshit. Ditto for the colorless choices like the black one I ordered for $11.90 plus nearly as much for expedited shipping from Hong Kong.

The fit is loose and anything but tight, and the finish – if you could call it that – is shameful. As the picture shows the cutout for the iPhone 3G headphone jack is just that – a crudely cut opening – and nothing like the cleanly round hole shown in the website pictures. Only after receiving this crappy case and slipping it onto my iPhone like a used condom found on the beach and then immediately removing it did it occur to me to check for other opinions and reviews. Low and behold, the company’s own product page for the crappy case revealed many other unhappy buyers.

Thanks for nothing, More-Thing.


iPhone 2.1 update and my first bug: Apple iPhone Bluetooth headset travel cable isn’t compatible…then is

Since every gadget site on earth already spread the news that the iPhone 2.1 firmware update is now available to download and install there’s nothing more to say on that front in general.

But I do have a weird 2.1 update quirk to share.

After downloading and installing the update and restarting my iPhone 3G, I received the message: ”This accessory is not made to work with iPhone.”

(Also weird: When powered on the first time my iPhone 3G’s speaker is mute when I tap my password into the “Enter Passcode” screen to unlock my iPhone.)

The only accessory attached is my iPhone 3G is the Apple iPhone Bluetooth headset travel cable, and I find it hard to believe that at least some of the testing engineers at Apple aren’t users of the headset themselves, which means they’d experience the same hiccup. What’s more, the battery icon showed that the iPhone 3G was getting juice to charge, yet the Bluetooth Headset icon was missing.

Then again, my the travel cable is plugged into a powered USB hub (by Belkin), so maybe that had something to do with the bug. After all, the powered hub on its own doesn’t even recharge my iPhone 3G unless I have it plugged into my MacBook, so maybe the hub was the culprit.

Guilty as charged?

Guilty as charged?

First, I unplugged the iPhone 3G from the travel cable (still plugged into the hub) and plugged it in again, and this time I received no accessory incompatibility error (and the headset icon appeared).

I wondered if maybe the bug only occurs when powering on the iPhone for the first time. To find out, I powered off the iPhone, unplugged the cable from the USB hub and plugged it directly into my MacBooks spare USB port.

I powered on the iPhone 3G and once again I received the accessory incompatibility error.

And once again I unplugged the cable, plugged it back in, and as before received no error this time (and the headset icon appeared) – but still no sound when I typed in my passcode.

I powered off the iPhone, powered it on again, and I got the error again – yet this time there was sound whe I typed in my passcode.

Weird, right?

I’d be curious to hear from others about their own Weird iPhone 2.1 Update Tales.

UPDATE (10:51 AM): Further adventures in weirdness: When I power off my iPhone 3G and plug the Bluetooth Headset travel cable into the wall charger then power on the iPhone I still get no sound when I type in my passcode, and though I don’t get the accessory incompatibly error, the iPhone Bluetooth headset icon is absent until I unplug the iPhone then plug it back in.


Facebook for Palm smartphones arrives

Though I’m an iPhone 3G owner, I’m still a fan of Palm’s Access-based Palm smartphones like the Centro – so much so it would be my smartphone of choice if I wasn’t using the iPhone.

As such, I’d be really pleased about Palm’s release of Facebook for Palm smartphones. When it comes to getting *anything* done on a smartphone, nothing beats mobile-tweaked apps over their general web counterparts.

To download Facebook for the Palm Centro, Treo 755p and Treo™ 680 click here. 


How-to: Reorder iPhone email accounts to your liking

One thing that bugs me about the iPhone’s email program is the inability to rearrange the order of email accounts to my liking.

Unfortunately there’s no “Edit” button like Phone Favorites to drag names up or down to reorder them.

But there is a way to reorder your email accounts to your satisfaction. Here’s how:

  1. Plug in your iPhone and launch iTunes.
  2. Select your iPhone in the Devices column on the left, then click the Info tab at the top of the screen.
  3. Click “Sync selected mail accounts:” if it isn’t already selected.
  4. Uncheck any mail accounts that may be selected except the mail account you want to appear at the top of your email accounts list.
  5. Click Sync.
  6. When iTunes finishes syncing leave the prior mail account checked then check the mail account you want to appear as the next account on your email accounts list.
  7. Click Sync.
  8. Repeat step 6 for each additional mail account until you’ve synced them all.


iPhone 3G protection match made in heaven: Invisible Shield and Griffin Elan Form

I’ve sung the praises of Zagg’s Invisible Shield screen protector for iPhone and most recently, for the iPhone 3G. Invisible Shield provides a nice touch and slightly watery effect that’s pleasant view, and most important of all it hides those ugly fingerprint smears. In my recent review of the new iPhone 3G shield I reported on how glad I was to see the new version closed the circle around the Home button, however I bemoaned the upper and lower flaps that gave me such a hard time I wound up slicing them off for my third (and successful) installation.

Good news: Zagg’s new revision ($14.95 for front shield; $18.95 for back shield; $24.95 for both) says goodbye to the flaps altogether. Nice.

In related iPhone 3G protection news I picked up Griffin’s Elan Form ($29.99) case a few weeks ago. The hard polycarbonate plastic case is finished with nicely textured leather that feels good in the hand – and integrates so tightly you’d think it was Apple’s own design. The lower half detaches to allow the iPhone 3G to stand in a dock, and though my retrofitted iPhone Bluetooth headset dock can accommodate my 3G, I’ve taken to using the travel cable instead rather than be bothered with removing and reattaching the lower half each time I reconnect my 3G. The Elan Form also comes with a shiny clear plastic shield (which shows finger smears) to protect the screen, but I’ve left that off in favor of the Invisible Shield.

Combined, these two iPhone 3G add-ons inspire a new take on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup line: Two great fits that fit great together.


One-minute review: The Kangaroom Bamboo Laptop Stand and Charging Station

You know there’s trouble ahead when a review starts with “I wanted to love this product.” I did want to love the The Kangaroom Bamboo Laptop Stand and Charging Station, but, overall, I don’t.

The love list: It’s bamboo, and beautiful to the touch. It’s reasonably wide, with room enough for my 13″ MacBook and Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 (sort of), though it’s not exactly the best fit for my “Dave” Laptop Table by Ikea. The stand elevates my MacBook up a few extra inches, which provides less stress on my neck from angling my head downward all day. End of lovefest.

The don’t love list: The two so-called “docks” for gadgets are just recessed pockets with holes in the bottoms for cables and are not big enough accommodate my re-tooled iPhone Bluetooth Headset charging dock. That there are two of them means there’s less space on the right for my mouse hand. The company’s suggestion to hide a power strip underneath the stand and is fair enough, but because there’s no base to the stand the power strip and cables are left hanging when you lift the stand up. Worse, no base means you can’t comfortable rest the stand in your lap while sitting on the sofa.

As it stands the Kangaroom Bamboo Laptop Stand is definitely attractive at first glance, but unfortunately its usefulness bottoms out the moment you lift it off the table.


Scissor Sisters: Brother sewing machines go high-tech with touch screen and PC connection

brothersew.jpgBrother unveiled the C-Combo line of high-tech sewing and embroidery machines that come tricked out with a LCD touch screens and PC connectivity.

The company says it got its inspiration for the new-tech needlers by shows like “Project Runway,” and cites a study by the Home Sewing Association that the art of sewing has increased by 5-million people since 2000. Oh, Brother.



One-minute review: Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset sounds better second time around

In my quest to find the perfect Bluetooth headset I recently tried the Jawbone 2 but was less than satisfied with the results. Remembering the things I liked about Apple’s iPhone Bluetooth Headset that I owned (and promptly lost), I decided to buy another one. What I like most is how integrated the headset is – both the hardware and the user experience. Unfortunately the welcome price drop from $129 to $99 means Apple also dropped the bundled dual-purpose charging dock that accomodated both the iPhone and the headset. I still own my original dual dock, however the new 3G’s thicker base prevents it from fitting into the dock (though I managed to “fix” my old dual dock with a little chisel handiwork).

The Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset still comes with the handy Travel Cable, which has a small recepticle for plugging in the magnetized headset contacts to charge both the iPhone and headset at the same time.

Like the original the headset automatically pairs with the iPhone the first time you connect them together, and the headset’s battery level appears in both locked mode and in the upper right status bar beside the battery meter. A very nice touch.

As with the original there’s no ear loop, so it’s one-size-fits-all or nothing if the headset won’t stay in your ear. It fits fine in mine, and this time around I’ll be sure to always cover the rubber ring around the earpiece to protect it from deteriorating the way my original headset did after just a few weeks of use.

And like the original there’s still only one button for turning the headset on and off and handling calls.

But unlike the original there’s one very important improvement that makes it possible for me to see past the headset’s weaknesses: It sounds great.

The louder, clearer sounds probably owes itself more to the iPhone 3G’s improved audio quality than the headset itself, but whatever the reason, I’m pleased with the improvement over my first one.

All told, I’ll take the all-in-one charging solution, tiny form-factor and ear loop-less design over any of the other headsets I’ve recently tried. Now if only the iPhone 3G’s battery life lasted longer would I’d actually care whether the iPhone Bluetooth Headset really offers the estimated 5.5 hoursof talk time Apple says it does.


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