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Currently working on: Admin Guide Wiki

UPDATE: Project complete.
I’m new to writing wikis, and my first effort is the Admin Guide for The first rough draft is currently in “beta” as I and Inveneo-tech-goddess and co-author Jaime Bruner refine the text, tighten things up, and otherwise move the work to 1.0 status.


The New York Times: A New Cable for Your Maze, By Joe Hutsko

The New York Times:
Personal Tech | Circuits | Basics
A New Cable for Your Maze


The real estate on the back of an HDTV is crowded with ports for connectors of the past. Out of that mess comes yet another cable, but it is supposed to make everything simple: the HDMI.



Revisiting the iPhone iWish-list after MacWorld 2008 and iPhone 1.1.3 update

Last summer I wrote a story for the iPhone (Can the iPhone do double-duty as a laptop replacement?), and a companion story (iWish: iPhone updates we’d like to see).

With Apple’s release today of the iPhone 1.1.3 update for iPhone, a number of new features have been added. Weirdly, a number of the top wish-list items – like the ability to cut and paste, or lookup a contact by typing in a few characters of a person’s name or contact info, the way you can on every other mobile phone in the world – are still absent.

Although only one of the 25 wish list items was addressed in today’s 1.1.3 iPhone software update, it is a big one: The ability to “Manually manages music and videos.”

To many the value of this feature (which has always been an option on iPods) isn’t obvious. The short explanation: With this feature turned on, you never have to worry about whether songs on your various playlists duplicate one another, hogging precious storage space. Thank you, Apple.

As Apple chairman Steve Jobs stated today, there are still 50 weeks left in 2008 to release more iPhone improvements, so at a rate one every other week they just might get to those remaining 24 wish list items by the time we’ve got a new president in the White House.

Let’s hope.


A Big Kid’s One Laptop Per Child OLPC XO Arrives

olpcxonickMy One Laptop Per Child OLPC XO laptop arrived this morning. As the previous entry reports, I was one of the unlucky Day 1 Donors (D1Der, in OLPC lingo) who didn’t receive my OLPC XO on the promised first-come, first-serve basis, while other donors who joined the Give One Get One (G1G1) days or weeks later received their laptops before some of us D1Ders.

I’d been checking the FedEx tracking page day after day (sometimes hour after hour), and finally on the 28th the system recognized my reference number. Many donors reportedly received their laptops via FedEx Overnight before the 24th, but I guess OLPC stopped providing overnight delivery after that date, because my OLPC XO wasn’t slated to arrive until today, January 2, five days after it shipped.


As I mentioned in the below entry, I’ll be writing about “A week in a life with the OLPC XO” laptop in the next week or so, however I will share one first impression now: Many OLPC XO recipients report the device is much smaller than expected once they have it in their hands. With so many reports of Lilliputian-dimensions, I was actually surprised by how much larger the OLPC XO is than I expected. At the same time, the keyboard is going to be a challenge for speed typing – it’s definitely not designed for big-kid hands, though it will suit little hands (or paws) just fine.

Stay tuned.


When nice turns naughty: No OLPC XO laptop under some first-day donors’ Christmas trees

When nice turns naughty
Donors give laptops to needy children, kick and scream when they don’t get theirs in return
By Joe Hutsko

Their intentions were good: Pay $400 to donate one of the so-called “$100” laptop computers to a needy child in a developing country, and in return receive one for your own child (or the child in you, if you’re an adult). The window of opportunity to “Give 1, Get 1,” (G1G1) was limited to one month, and the information on the One Laptop Per Child website ( stated orders would be fulfilled on a first come, first served basis.

But when laptops began arriving on the doorsteps of donors who participated days after the program began on November 12 but not to “D1Ders” (Day One Donors) who were first in line, tempers flared, turning what started as a nice gesture of giving into an at times nasty online “conversation” by disappointed givers who hadn’t received their half of the bargain by Christmas Eve day, as promised.

“…considering people who ordered as late as the third day are already getting theirs before those of us who woke up before the butt crack of dawn to order them because we were told they were going to be shipped first come, first served who haven’t gotten even shipping notices is a little frustrating in my opinion.”


– forum user

Located on the site, thousands of forum readers have viewed hundreds of topics ranging from what day they donated and then received their O.L.P.C. XO, to trying to crack and track the elusive ten-digit confirmation code some donors received in an order follow-up email, while others did not. Continue reading ‘When nice turns naughty: No OLPC XO laptop under some first-day donors’ Christmas trees’

Share/Save/Bookmark Cool holiday tech – MP3 and media players, by Joe Hutsko

Cool holiday tech: MP3 and media players
Give the gift of tapping in and tuning out with these music and video devices
By Joe Hutsko


On MSNBC – Cool holiday tech: Headphones, by Joe Hutsko


Cool holiday tech: Headphones
Ditch your junkie freebie headphones for one of these sweet-sounding sets
By Joe Hutsko


Good news: iPod Nano 1.0.3 update fixes Nike + iPod distance error

I downloaded and installed the iPod Nano 1.0.3 update on my third-gen Nano and low and behold, it fixed the annoying distance reporting problem I was experiencing with the 1.0.2 firmware.

So yes, fellow Nike + iPod runners, the problem is history, and the distance you see on the screen will now match the actual distance you’re covering on foot. Happy trails.


On MSNBC: Cool holiday tech: Home entertainment

On MSNBC: Cool holiday tech: Home entertainment
By Joe Hutsko


On MSNBC: High “wow” factor - Apple’s Leopard upgrade is feature-rich

On MSNBC: Hi “wow” factor: Apple’s Leopard upgrade is feature-rich
By Joe Hutsko

Also: Five coolest Leopard features


iRegret story gets “Fake Steve”‘d - “More iPhone backlash”

The satirical and frequently hysterical blog “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs” - a.k.a. Fake Steve - commented on my “iRegret” story for MSNBC.

My favorite part is Fake Steve’s note at the end of the post:

UPDATE: This article apparently was written before we announced our SDK. So to be fair to the hater and to us, that point is something we’ve addressed.

‘Nuff said.


On MSNBC: iRegret: Apple’s smartphone isn’t so smart

iRegret: Apple’s smartphone isn’t so smart
No measurable improvements to this remarkably inventive device
By Joe Hutsko

Also: Five cool iPhone apps you can’t use


Halo 3 Tip: Playing on Easy difficultly unlocks only some Achievement points

Easygoing Halo 3 types, take note: Those who plan to choose the Easy difficulty level when you jump in on Tuesday may want to reconsider, because many of the achievements unlock only when the game is played on the difficulty levels above Easy (i.e. Normal, Heroic, or Legendary). At the same time, let’s rectify incorrect information previously posted on some sites, which reported that playing on Easy difficulty prevents any achievements from unlocking. On my first run into the advance copy I received today I started on Easy, completed the first level, an sure enough, didn’t receive an achievement for doing so. However, I did receive the Used Car Salesman achievement, because, granted when after you’ve “Destroyed a vehicle that has three enemies in it in a ranked playlist or in campaign.” So while those who plan to take it Easy won’t go totally unrewarded, playing on at least Normal will unlock the level completes otherwise unattainable on Easy difficulty.


MSNBC: Take your gaming from good to great - Five cool console gadget combos

On Take your gaming from good to great: Five cool console gadget combos
By Joe Hutsko

Amazon links to products described in story:


Sneak peek video: “Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass” for Nintendo DS

The Legend of Zelda:  Phantom HourglassNintendo today sent the following email message, with a link to watch the sneak peek video of the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for Nintendo DS, due in stores on Oct. 1, 2007.

Dear Joe,

The Legend of Zelda®: Phantom Hourglass will hit store shelves on Oct. 1, marking the debut of the franchise on Nintendo DS ™.

You can get a sneak peek of Link’s heroic quest and the game’s cool 3-D graphics now - before everyone else! Just click on the e-card link below to get a taste of Link’s newest adventure.

Your Friends at Nintendo

Enjoy the (brief) show!

Click here to watch ->


One Minute Review: Bose SoundDock Portable speaker system (with iPhone)

sounddockp What: Bose SoundDock Portable, $399 (

The good: The SoundDock Portable weighs under five pounds, has strong volume and bass, tight design and solid construction. Bose reports up to three hours of use on the rechargeable battery when listening at full volume. The company says lowering the volume provides longer battery life but does not cite specific estimates. In my test with the iPhone, I was able to receive calls while using the SoundDock Portable; like the iPhone’s headphones, the music fades to silence to take the call, then fades back when the call ends.

The not so good: The power adapter is big and clunky, and while a groove to wrap the cord is nice, the shape and size of the adapter makes it an unpleasant travel partner. The iPhone’s volume control is deactivated when plugged into the SoundDock, so you’ve got to use the remote to raise and lower the volume. The iPhone’s other controls work fine, and the remote lets you also pause, play and skip tracks. Lastly, as with certain other Bose products, there’s no bass or treble control and the bass is very heavy while the treble not fine enough. Since female vocalists like Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Nina Simone and Alanis Morisette are my favorites, treble matters to me; I managed to improve the sound of the ladies’ voices by changing the iPhone’s EQ setting to Acoustic (Vocal Booster and Treble Booster both gave too much treble).

Bottom line: Great room-filling sound with lots of bass, acceptable treble when adjusted via the iPod or iPhone’s EQ setting, but traveling with the clunky adapter is a bummer. Dedicated fans of Bose products will be pleased with the SoundDock Portable, while others may want to consider the less expensive Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere Compact Speakers ($149), which though not as loud and bassy, do produce good sound and are easier to travel with.


New York Times: Not All HDTVs Can Keep Up With the Action

Not All HDTVs Can Keep Up With the Action

Viewers for whom action matters need to pay as much attention to how fast images are processed as to the size of the screen.

Also: NY Times Tech Talk: Is it time to make the move to HDTV? (mp3)


Xbox 360 Premium and Halo 360 with HDMI and analog/optical audio adapter options

Owners of the newly revved Xbox 360 Premium with HDMI or the upcoming Halo3 edition may find their new baby lacking in the sound department because neither model comes with the same audio adapter bundled with the Xbox 360 Elite.While this may not matter to those who get their sound from the HDTV’s built in speakers, it will matter to owners with separate surround sound audio systems. The Elite’s audio adapter is a dongle with RCA and optical output ports.If you want that same kind of output option on your new 360 or Halo 3 console with HDMI, you have two options: Buy the $50 Xbox 360 HDMI AV Cable, or switch your HDTV’s audio setting from internal speakers to external output (providing yours has it; not all HDTVs do). Now the audio coming from the 360’s HDMI connection will get redirected to the audio output ports and connected surround sound speakers.


BioShock Tip: Harvest or Rescue? Choose Rescue and earn “Hypnotize Big Daddy” plasmid

Early into Bioshock I was faced with a tough decision: Harvest my first Little Sister for more ADAM power, or Rescue her for half the ADAM reward - and Tennenbaum’s promise of another benefit at a later point?

I chose to Rescue, figuring I’ll go with harvesting on my next replay of BioShock (which is, to date, my favorite Xbox 360 game since the platform launched; full review to follow).

Sure enough, two (or maybe it was three) Rescues later, the following sequence occurred, giving up the plasmid “Hypnotize Big Daddy.”

“Hypnotize Big Daddy” plasmid reward:


One Minute Review: Invisible Shield screen protector for iPhone (and Treo)

The folks at Shield Zone sent me half a dozen iPhone and Palm Treo Invisible Shield screen protectors to try out.

While Apple’s iPhone has hardened glass that seems impervious to scratches (as demonstrated by CNET and a few other sites), the super-smooth screen is a total smudge-magnet.

Hours after owning the iPhone I began to perfect the left-pec-screen-wipe maneuver to swipe my screen clean on my tee-shirt every so often. So though the Invisible Shield is meant to protect your screen from scratches with its ultra-strong plastic material, I’m more grateful for the way it minimizes the smudge factor with its watery finish that offers a bit more tactile touch-feedback under the fingertip.

I blew it on the first two I applied - mostly because I was hyper-aware of not touching the sticky side of the sheet because I was afraid a fingerprint would appear. Following the directions, I sprayed both sides of the sheet (and my fingertips) with the supplied fluid and set it onto the screen, sliding it this way and that to align with the speaker hole and the home button at the bottom of the iPhone. Because I feared time was of the essence I tended to do my best to move it in place, then, using the supplied squeegee, squeeged out bubbles. Both times I found dust beneath the surface of the Invisible Shield.

Trying a third time I was super-careful to make sure there were no dust particles on the screen, sprayed my fingertips and the shield, then applied it and took a little more time to get the fit exactly right. This time I nailed it - but at $14.95 a pop, take my advice, don’t worry so much about being gentle, and concentrate more on making sure you have no dust on your screen, or your fingers, and then take a deep breath and relax as you move the slightly slippery screen this way and that to get the fit just right.

Once you do, squeegee away the fluid, and if possible, keep your hands off the iPhone for the recommended 24 hours. That wasn’t possible for me, and in my case it didn’t matter - as the Invisible Shield “dried” it seemed to tighten up nicely and I’m absolutely pleased with the fit and finish.

Sheild Zone offers a costlier version that provides the same plastic protection for the backside of the iPhone, however I skipped that, as I’m only concerned about the screen staying scratch-free and, the real win for me, lessening its smudge showoff factor.

As an aside, I also applied the Invisible Shield for Palm’s to a Treo 680 and it turned out great, though I have to say the feel of using a stylus against the shield’s slightly tacky surface feels a bit stuttery rather than smooth.

The iPhone shield texture feels the same, but under the fingertip it feels like there’s less drag/stutter.

Bottom line: The Invisible Shield for iPhone (and Treo and other devices) offers great protection while hiding smudges.


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