Fun without wires

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AirPort Express (and AirTunes) in da house

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Apple AirPort Express

Give me an inch and I’ll take a mile.

I got my iBook, so I figured I may as well get some other toys to go with it. Thus the .Mac subscription, and thus the AirPort Express that came in the mail today. I’ve had a chance to play with 2 of it’s 3 features already (3rd later tonight), and so far my official review is: this thing ROCKS!

In case you don’t know, the AirPort Express is an awesome little single-unit adaptor “thing” from Apple that will allow you to do the following;

  1. Create (or extend) a wireless (WiFi) network,
  2. Stream music from iTunes to an external set of speakers (wirelessly)
  3. Print wirelessly to a USB printer

The first thing I tried was setting up a wireless network, since at my office we only have a wired network. I plugged the AirTunes into a power outlet and whacked in a CAT-5 cable. A couple seconds later, it showed up on my iBook as an available network and I was off. The software (AirPort Express Setup Assistant) is easy to use and pretty hard to mess up. Put in a name for the network and the base station (I used the same thing), set your security preferences and you’re off. The only confusion I had was that the process requires 2 passwords – one for WEP (WiFi security) and one for securing the actual base station’s settings. Of course I messed around with a few things and proceeded to lock myself out of the unit, so I also got to try out the reset button which is tucked away at the bottom of it 🙂

With that working, I thought I’d give the audio streaming a shot. It doesn’t get much easier to use kids. You plug some speakers into the bottom of the AirTunes (standard, 3.5mm stereo jack) and then load up iTunes. You will notice a drop-down box at the bottom of the window, right next to the button for loading the graphic equalizer. There should be 2 options in there – ‘Computer’ (play via your speakers) and ‘networkname’ which will be the name of the network you’ve just created, and allows you to play to that network. If you select that option and press play, your wireless speakers should spring into action – simple as that. In case you’re wondering, you don’t need to have the AirPort Express plugged into a wired network for this to work either, as long as the speakers are plugged in and your computer can see the AirTunes, you’re good to go.

Like I said, this thing is pretty awesome. Later on tonight I’ll try out the printing function and see how that goes. I’m already happy, and I can see that this is going to be perfect for my trip which is coming up in a couple weeks where I’ll circumnavigate the globe within a couple weeks, hopefully making good use of wireless all the way!

Written by Beau Lebens

November 23rd, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Got iBook!

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Well, after all the crap that I went through with FedEx losing my previous iBook, I finally have my hands on one now 🙂 I’m typing this post in terminal on my brand spanking 12″ iBook, and so far it rocks.

I’ve noticed that the keys are really easy to hit twice, so that will take a little getting used to, but that’s fine. There are some weird things as well – like not being able to hit Return in Finder to open a folder or start an application… or am I missing something somewhere? Anyway. It’s going to be a serious learning experience!

Written by Beau Lebens

November 19th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

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iBook Blues

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The troubles continue with trying to get my hands on my iBook. I called FedEx again today to see if they’d made any progress (since after 5 attempts they still hadn’t called me back with any sort of status update whatsoever). I talked to one guy who couldn’t help me, so he put me on to Paul in International shipping (since the iBook technically gets shipped from Taiwan). Paul called around to check up on the status of things (again, that’s time number 5), and came back to me with… surprise, surprise – “don’t know”. He then realised that I should probably talk to someone in IPD, so he checked… but of course they had shut already. They are the people I need to talk to to force them to declare the package lost apparently.

At this point I decided to call IPD anyway (1-800-455-4588), and see what was happening. They were, indeed shut. I got an answering machine. No option to leave a message. Fine.

I called Apple to see if there was any way I could get them to just call it lost and go ahead and bill FedEx for the loss and send me a new laptop. Apparently they have to do their 3-day investigation thing, which means nothing will happen now until next Tuesday most likely. At that point, I’m going to request:

  • A replacement iBook
  • A free iPod
  • Overnight shipping

We’ll see what happens. Apparently someone from Apple’s investigation team might call me on Monday… I won’t hold my breath.

Written by Beau Lebens

November 12th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

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Apple iBook G4… Maybe

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So I folded – I bought a Spacintosh. I’ve ordered a 12″ iBook G4, 768 Mb RAM, 80Gb HDD, Airport, Bluetooth – should be pretty sweet. I got a little carried away and also bought an AirTunes Express, and a subscription to .Mac.

Since it’s new toys, and I like to get my new toys quickly, I paid the extra $20 to get it sent 2-3 days by FedEx.

That was on the 6th of December. Note the date of this post. I still don’t have my iBook.

I have the .Mac CD – which is useless without the iBook. I ordered the AirTunes separately, so I’m not expecting that yet, but the iBook should definitely be here. According to FedEx’s tracking, it should have been here 2 days ago. It’s been (allegedly) sitting in Honolulu since 8:30pm on the 7th! You know what this means. It’s been stolen.

FedEx haven’t talked to me much yet, but I’m hoping to get this sorted out. Somehow or other, paid for by someone other than me (this time), I’m getting that iBook, and it had better be soon. I want it before I go on a ’round the world trip (starting early December), so they’d better get themselves sorted out pretty quickly.

When I get it, I’m looking forward to playing with the WiFi access on it, and in particular trying out AirTunes.

Written by Beau Lebens

November 11th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Given Up On Wireless

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Well, I went ahead and did the Service Pack 2 upgrade for Win XP Pro, and have had nothing but problems recently with my wireless adaptor. I don’t know if it’s directly related or not, but basically my adaptor would drop out and not allow me to get an IP (even though it thought it was connected successfully). Obviously this is a problem for getting internet access.

With no time to waste figuring out what the hell is going on, I’ve disconnected the adaptor and resorted to plugging my desktop directly into my router (ugh – cables!), and I have complete access again. What tells me that it’s the adaptors fault is that my laptop and iPAQ still work just fine, connecting to the same router/cable modem etc.

So now my desktop is back to a cabled connection, but I suppose that kind of makes sense. Somewhere along the line I’ll sort it out, but for now that will have to do.

Written by Beau Lebens

October 25th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Waiting, Still Waiting

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Still waiting on that Logitech Bluetooth Headset… I sent it back to Logitech and they were supposed to be sending me a replacement, with new firmware, that will work with all my devices. It’s been something like 2 months now and I haven’t received it. I suppose it’s pretty lucky that it’s not urgent that I receive it – since it’s been so darned long.

Written by Beau Lebens

October 25th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard… Maybe

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On June 10th, I pre-ordered a Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard, from ThinkOutside, the guys who came up with the cool, accordian-style fold-up keyboard, and the single-fold keyboards now around the place.

This model, being bluetooth, was intended mainly for use with my iPAQ, and would have made email and document work easier and more effecient. I was also hoping to be able to try it out on my Nokia, but that was more for nerd-factor than anything else. So what’s happened?

ThinkOutside's Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard

Nothing. And a lot of it.

When I ordered it, I was under the impression that the keyboard was supposed to be released in about a week. It wasn’t. I emailed, they said it would be out by the end of June. It wasn’t. I emailed again, they said middle of July. It wasn’t. I emailed again, they said end of July for sure. Guess what? It wasn’t.

Apparently there’s a problem with the packaging or something at their factory, so they can’t ship them yet. I don’t really care. I wanted to be able to use it on the business trip I’m going on this week, so it’s not going to get to me in time. I’ve emailed them now and requested that they cancel my order and don’t bother sending me one. I’ll get one later if I can justify it to myself.

Pity – I was looking forward to trying it out.

Written by Beau Lebens

August 7th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Headset Hoo-Ha

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Well, I got the replacement headset from Amazon… which had exactly the same problem as the first one!

I called Logitech this time, and talked to a guy called David who was really helpful. We went through the process of pairing, connecting etc. Tried turning off anything else bluetooth in the area (i.e. phone and iPAQ); nothing worked. Apparently there is a known issue with their Mobile Phone Suit software that can cause a similar problem, but I wasn’t using that anyway, so that wasn’t the case.

After trying everything we could think of, David checked the product number (on the barcode) and apparently mine was one of the original release ones. They have upgraded the firmware since that model to make multiple-pairings and different profile support better. I’ve sent back the headset (to Logitech in CA this time), at my expense ($12.50!), and they’re apparently going to send me one of the newer models to see if that will work, so fingers crossed.

Written by Beau Lebens

August 7th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Defective Logitech Headset

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I’m returning my headset to Amazon for a replacement already! I contacted Logitech support, and basically they said return it because it sounds defective. I suppose that’s a good thing (i.e. that they aren’t messing me around).

This will be my first return to Amazon. I’m very impressed with their service for purchases, so we’ll see how things go with a return 🙂

First slight problem – part of their process is to print out a label that you use on your return package, so that you don’t have to pay postage. On their page where it is generated, it looks great. Of course they forgot that the default setting is to not print background or borders, so it doesn’t look as good when printed. They should have generated the entire thing as an image and done it exactly as they wanted… Oh well.

Written by Beau Lebens

July 28th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Logitech Bluetooth Headset

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Logitech Bluetooth Mobile Headset @ Amazon.com

I had to do it.

I’ve just ordered a Logitech Bluetooth Headset from Amazon.com, which I should be able to use with:

  1. My PC (diNovo Bluetooth hub) – Should be great with Skype!
  2. My Mobile/Cell Phone – For normal calls, and for listening to the radio/mp3s (radio doesn’t work without a headset for some reason)
  3. My iPAQ H5550 – For listening to mp3s mainly, since it doesn’t operate as a phone, although I suppose I could use it for PocketSkype as well

I looked at a Jabra EasySpeak (250), but decided on the Logitech headset (despite it’s size), based largely on all the comments and user reviews around the place saying that the audio quality on the Jabra isn’t that great, and that it is excellent on the Logitech one. I’m not really expecting to use it much for my mobile phone anyway, so being invisible isn’t of great concern to me at this point 🙂

Written by Beau Lebens

July 24th, 2004 at 4:00 pm