Got a Logitech squeezebox receiver the other day and after plugging it in to my switch, I assumed it would just acquire an IP (using DHCP) and just start working.
After 2 hours of changing network cables, restarting various network devices and a little bit of cursing I retreated to Google for some help.
Turns out that the Squeezebox receiver is not to be used on its own. It is to be used together with a controller and the controller is required for initial configuration.
The only reason Squeezebox receivers are sold on their own is for people that want additional receivers for their rooms.
In my case I knew there are mobile applications that can control the music playing or that one can even connect to the web interface of the Squeezebox Server.
The controller is twice the price of a receiver and being the cheapskate I am I didn’t want to fork out extra money just to configure my receiver.
1) Borrow a controller from a friend
2) Use Net::UDAP to find your SqueezeBox receiver on the network and to configure it
Net::UDAP is a Perl module so if you are not familiar with Perl programming just download the following executable:
UDAP command shell
For a wired configuration (not WiFi), you can use the below command sequence:
set squeezecenter_address=[ip address of your computer running squeeze server]
For a wireless configuration use instead:
set interface=0 lan_ip_mode=0 lan_gateway=192.168.3.1 lan_network_address=192.168.3.10 lan_subnet_mask=255.255.255.0 primary_dns=192.168.3.1 wireless_SSID=3Com wireless_wep_on=1 wireless_keylen=1 wireless_mode=0 wireless_region_id=14 wireless_wep_key_0=[WEP key] wireless_channel=11 squeezecenter_address=[ip address of your computer running squeeze server]
You will obviously have to be connected to the receiver via a network cable to be able to configure it.
Type help or fields to list all device fields along with some documentation of the values they can take.
Check out the Net::UDP project page for more information and don’t forget to donate if this solves your problem!
The news is officially out from Steve Jobs’ mouth: the iPhone will be available in the UK from November 9th, 2007 and exclusively with O2 and Carphone Warehouse.
Congratulation to O2 and Carphone Warehouse 😉 for securing the deal.
It would be interesting to know how much O2 paid for this exclusivity and how this exclusivity will pay off with the recent iPhone unlocking and the iPod touch release.
In case you are still deciding whether or not to get the iPhone in the UK I have summarised a few points for you to consider that may help you to make up your mind.
£269 and a 18 month contract at (minimum) £35 / month.
What unique features does the iPhone have
+ a multi touch user interface
+ visual voicemail
+ Free Wifi at The Cloud hotspots (£12 / month normally)
+ high fashion status
What doesn’t the iPhone have which is found on recent mobile phones
– 3G (the most recent high speed mobile data connection)
– Video recording
– Video calling
– MMS (picture messaging)
– A2DP (bluetooth stereo profile)
– MP3s as ringtone
– 3+ megapixel camera
– voice recording
– voice dialing
– copy and paste
– Macromedia flash support
– USB mass storage device usage
– saving images or files from browser
– bluetooth file transfer
– ability to delete individual text messages
– 3rd party application development (j2me, symbian, .net)
– bluetooth modem
I think you’ll find the iPhone lacking if you are a mobile power user and used to the features listed above.
If on the other hand the priority for you is design, usability and top class support then the iPhone will be a good match.
PS The O2 “unlimited” data plan is limited to “1,500 internet pages per day”. Whatever that means 🙂
I am all for device convergence and over the last few years I have seen more and more devices blend into the mobile phone and disappear from my pockets.
With the SonyEricsson K800i I find my self listening to music (MP3 and radio), securely reading company emails, browsing the web for news, watching short video clips, taking decent digital photographs, playing games and even doing the occasional phone call.
While the mobile phone hasn’t completely replaced a digital SLR, a portable game device or a portable music device (iPod) it is perfectly good at those tasks for everyday usage.
One last thing missing is GPS support so I still have to carry a GPS enabled stop watch during running sessions, rent a car navigation device when abroad, geotagg photos manually and have a separate personal locator for our child.
What I would like is future mobile phones to have integrated GPS functionality (but not at the cost of size or price).
When GPS on future mobile phones is as common as Java support is on today’s phones, a wide new range of possibilities will open up.
I have experimented with j2me application development on my mobile phone and it turned out to be a piece of cake. With integrated GPS a host of mobile applications can be created personally or in an open source environment:
- personal tracking for the whole family
- workout performance measuring
- simple tourist sightseeing (never be lost in a foreign city again)
- automatic geotagging of photos
- location based games
- and much, much more
It looks as if my prayers may be answered with the rumored Nokia N82:
Quad-band GSM, GPS, Wifi, 3G, Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, FM radio, 5-megapixel digital camera with Carl Zeiss lens, auto focus and Xenon flash.
One familiar with SonyEricsson phones will see that the form factor and feature set of the Nokia N82 is a identical to a K800i with added Wifi, GPS and an upgraded digital camera.
The N82 is rumored to ship Q4 2007 and thus one cannot be sure it will materialise with all the mentioned spec. Also by Q4 I wouldn’t be surprised if SonyEricsson had an upgraded K800i with added GPS on the market.
In any case the holy grail of convergence is near, very near.
A palm sized device with built in global positioning (GPS) and mobile phone connectivity (quad band GSM). Put it in a pocket and you can be located anywhere in the world where there is mobile phone coverage.
The tracking can be done either by SMS messages or with a continuous flow of of positions in GPRS mode.
In SMS mode you can either send an SMS or call the device and it will send back an SMS with the current position. This mode is the easiest one to set up and to use.
SMS is universally supported by all mobile operators whereas GPRS isn’t.
In GPRS mode the device sends the current position at predetermined intervals (for example every 60 seconds) to a server.
GPRS mode is great for when you need continuous updates like in a sailboat race or during logistics tracking.
This mode can also be the safest option in personal tracking as in the case of a lost GPS signal, you can view the latest acquired positions.
GPRS mode requires a PC running the supplied “Call Center” software or a server with custom software to collect and publish the data.
Incidentally I have developed such custom software to collect TR-102 data from multiple devices and a Google Maps front-end to view it. This allows me to use GPRS mode without maintaining a PC and to monitor a device from any browser in the world (more details about this later).
The GPS unit in the TR-102 consists of a SirfIII chip which is a top of the line GPS chip. It is highly sensitive to allow tracking even inside a building.
The GSM module is quad band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) which means truly global support. Still you should look into the GSM and GPRS support of an obscure country before traveling there.
Globalsat TR-102 can also serve as a rudimentary phone because it can receive calls and make calls to up to 3 predefined phone numbers.
Finally the TR-102 personal locator unit also features an SOS button. If pressed, the unit sends an SOS SMS message with the current location to 3 predefined numbers.
Charging is done with 5V and a 4mm plug with same dimensions as for a Sony PSP. This means you can use a PSP USB synch and charge cable for charging the unit on the go.
All in all the unit is a fantastic piece of technology but it has some issues. Hopefully some of the issues can be addressed in the next version of the device.
1. Non-standard mini USB connector. If you misplace the original USB cable that came with the unit you have to get a replacement from Globalsat as standard mini USB cables will not fit. Update: the connector appears to be a 4-pin mini USB. It does not appear to have a specific name but has a single grove that allows it to be identified.
2. The TR-102 does not support commands OTA (over the air). It would be useful being able to send an SMS to instruct the unit to switch from GPRS mode to SMS mode.
You have to connect the unit to a PC to be able to do any kind of set-up.
I would suspect such functionality can be supplied in the future with an updated firmware.
3. Not yet a truly transparent solution due to the size of unit and GPS signal loss issues. Transparent personal GPS tracking will only be possible when devices can be worn as a wristwatch or be integrated into personal clothing.
Dimensions: 115 mm, 45 mm, 22.5 mm, 100g
Update 14 May 2007
In a twist of faith the unit was stolen last weekend. The unit was switched off or else I would have been able to locate it and together with it the thief.
This incident points out additional weakness of current personal locator devices: if the unit is switched off or batteries are dead or if it is discarded or destroyed by the perpetrators it is rendered useless.
In Sweden there is a saying that goes “A Dear Child has Many Names” and were that true, this electric toothbrush would be very loved indeed.
Call it OralB, Braun, PC9500, Professional Care or just Triumph, I found it to be well designed, doing a great job but ultimately not a £169 (recommended street price) worth of job.
The brush uses oscillating action as in opposite to ultrasound action. I researched the issue for 5 minutes before the purchase and found reports that oscillating action is more effective so opted for it.
Four different brushing modes are available. They are all just different combinations of speed and pauses. Soft mode is lower speed, Clean mode is the standard fast mode, Polish is a mode where speed keeps increasing and decreasing and Massage is a pulsed mode.
The novelty of the different modes wore off very quickly and the brush is now always in Clean mode.
While brushing you teeth, the brush signals you every 30 seconds with a short pulse. After 2 minutes it switches itself off.
The digital battery indicator is really handy to see how much juice there is left in the brush and will save you from half-finished brushing sessions. At the moment our battery refuses to charge to more than 50% but I hope this will improve with more usage.
The box contains all of two brush heads; one for whitening action and one for flossing like action. In addition the box contains the Oral-B Braun 9500 Triumph brush, a sleek charger, a base to rest your brush in and a handy travel case which fits the brush and two brush heads. Oh yeah, there is a manual as well 🙂
The price of the Oral-B Braun 9500 Triumph ranges from online prices of £70 to a high street price of £169. I find this price difference a bit worrying as it suggests that the product is over valued. If you are keen on this top of the range dental hygiene equipment, don’t spend any more than £70 on it!
The Gigaset SL565 is the latest cordless phone from Siemens. It features a colour display, an answering system, bluetooth communication and much more in a sleek design. How does it perform though?
I upgraded to the SL565 from our previous SL555 that had been molested by the dogs. The only difference I was able to see between this SL565 and the previous SL555 was the addition of Bluetooth.
Let me quickly explain these similar model numbers to avoid any confusion.
The SL550 and SL560 are the two respective base stations with a handset. No answering machine on those base stations. The SL555 and SL565 are same as above but with added answering machines.
The SL55 and SL56 are just the handsets for the above base stations. I am happily using the old (damaged) SL55 handset with the new SL565 base station.
The handset sits nicely in the hand and feels comfortable due to it’s glossy finish. The colour display is very clear and readable due to it’s high contrast, 65000 colours and a resolution of 128 x 160 pixels.
With a growing list of contacts and multiple entries per contact I was looking for a phone with excellent phone book features and synchronization options with a PC.
The SL565 supports synchronisation with a computer running for example Outlook.
There was however no data cable included in the SL565 box and had to be purchased separately. I found the compatible DCA-510 on eBay and it came with required drivers and software (Mobile Phone Manager – MPM).
It was fairly straight forward to set up the connection between the phone and our PC but during the transfer of images, the connection kept failing intermittently. This was very frustrating and resulted in much more time spent than should have been necessary.
I remember experiencing similar issue with the previous SL555 even though a serial cable and a different PC was used there. Could this be a persistent problem with the SL55 and SL56 handsets?
Synchronisation and sending of images over Bluetooth was a much better and reliable experience so I recommend you to use that before opting for the optional DCA-510 USB data cable.
Images transferred to the phone have to be bitmaps (BMP) and can be used as wallpaper backgrounds or caller images.
The SL565 promises easy usage of Bluetooth headset. I tried it with two headsets that I own, the SonyEricsson HBH-660 and the Motorola HT820, but both failed.
I was able to pair the devices but the phone refused to connect when the call button was pushed on the Bluetooth headset. Neither did the phone direct any incoming calls to a paired headset.
So at the moment I am not able to confirm whether the SL565 actually supports the bluetooth headset profile. Maybe a specific Bluetooth headset is required but that defeats the purpose of universal Bluetooth communication.
Coupled with the Siemens M34 USB adapter, this phone can be connected to a PC and be used as a Skype phone. This allows for cheap or free international calls with Voip.
When the M34 is connected to your PC you can call it from your handset by an internal call. Your Skype buddy list is then displayed on the handset and with a single click you get connected.
All in all the Siemens Gigaset SL565 is a great looking phone that fulfills all our needs. It is a bit buggy however and does not live up to it’s high specification and price.
The K800i is one of the latest phones from SonyEricsson and it offers almost an overload of features. A 3.2 megapixel auto focus camera, 3G (UMTS) support, highly visible QVGA display and powerful MP3 playback being some of the most prominent ones.
The phone has received a face lift from last year’s K750i. It is noticeably heavier and a shade bulkier due to larger display and a beefier lens cover.
SE must have listened to disappointed users who found the k750i a bit “plasticky”. Several plastic panels have been replaced with discreet brushed steel and the squeaky plastic buttons have been replaced with rubber covered ones.
With the 3G (UMTS) comes services like mobile TV, faster data transfers and video calling. A second lower grade camera (CLI) has been fitted on the front side of the phone to be used during video calls. You can also follow your favourite TV show (Big Brother?) in low quality but it will cost you.
3.2 megapixels allows for even better quality pictures than with the previous 2.0 megapixel model. Further added photo features are Sony BestPic-TM and a proper Xenon flash.
BestPic-TM is a term for automatically taking 8 pictures during a second when the shutter button is pressed down. The user can then choose one or more best pictures to keep from the set.
A Xenon flash is normally used in traditional digital cameras and is much more powerful than the previous LED flash used in current mobile phones. One downside is that the Xenon flash cannot be turned on in continuous mode like the older LED flash. I for one will miss the emergency torch feature the LED flash offered.
Here is an unprocessed sample shot from the K800i 3.2 megapixel camera.
Naturally the phone supports the standard messaging formats like SMS, email, MMS and etc. A new addition is a basic RSS feeder. You can add your favourite RSS feeds and schedule automatic updates. The phone will alert you when there are new entries and show short excerpts.
The built in web browser has been improved and together with 3G speeds the browsing experience is even closer to a standard PC. Despite the browser improvements, I prefer the new Opera Mini which is supported on most j2me phones.
The phone uses the latest Sony memory format Memory Stick Micro (aka M2). If this is your first Sony product you will be pleased with the physical size of the memory; it is the size of a finger nail!
If you however have a few memory stick formats laying around at home you may be annoyed at having to purchase yet another one. The current largest capacity is 1GB and for a brand new format the price is surprisingly affordable (£42).
Vodafone does not supply a M2 memory stick with the phone so if you think you will require more memory than the built-in 62MB make sure to purchase it ahead to avoid disappointment.
Vodafone has yet again branded the phone heavily with their icons, themes and alternative short cuts (majority of them leading online to Vodafone Live!).
It is possible to use an online service to re-brand the phone to original SE settings but I am cautions to do this and maybe risking loosing data connectivity. At least this time Vodafone did not cripple MP3 ring tones capability like they did on the k750i.
One of the easiest ways of transporting contacts to a new phone is via Outlook. Create a new contacts folder in Outlook, set up to sync your phone with that folder and synchronise your old phone. Follow up by connecting your new phone, make sure to select “Outlook overwrites phone” when synchronising and sync the new phone. All your contacts should be preserved.
Update April 2007
I have just discovered the coded memo feature and find it very useful.
It lets you enter multiple codes with a descriptive name and a code field. For example “bank account x” and “1234 1111111”.
The information is protected by a 4 digit password. If the wrong password is entered, all the codes are presented scrambled.
This means that a potential information thief can never be sure whether he/she guessed the correct 4 digit pin.
One reservation would be that there is no information on what kind of algorithm is used for the protection nor how well the code memo feature would withstand a hardware attack.
The new Garmin Forerunner 305 is a GPS receiver and heart rate monitor in a single watch. It is a wonderful addition to any activity where you want keep track on distance, pace and heart rate such as running, cycling, triathlon or trekking.
Update August 2008
In a recent firmware update Garmin added the ability to add locations manually.
I find this very helpful when using the watch as simple navigation tool in a foreign city or country.
Say for example that you are travelling to Rome. Now you can enter a few favourite locations (hotel, restaurants, sights) on your Forerunner 305 and then walk or drive around Rome and being confident which direction you should go and how far it is left.
Not to mention always being able to find your way back home (hotel) no matter how lost or drunk you are.
The unit features new design and new features compared to the older Forerunner 301. The Forerunner 305 is smaller, has better GPS reception, has a higher resolution display and better water proofness.
The watch shows time, pace, average pace, distance, heart rate, calories burned, location, course and much more. Choose to display the information on several default screen provided or create your custom screen to show the stats you want.
A few work out modes are built in like intervall training, heart rate zone, minimum pace, distance, time or against a friend’s stats for the same course. Due to accuracy issues I find it bit frustrating to use the minimum pace or heart rate modes and instead just do my own work outs.
While the older unit had the mini-USB port on the watch it self covered with a rubber cap, the 305 has 4 copper pads used for charging and data transmission together with a miniature cradle. This makes the unit completly sealed.
Triathlon athletes will especially like the new water resistant design. While the unit may survive a longer swim under water the reception would suffer. The triathlon community is recommending to put the watch in a ziplock bag and keep it under the swimming cap.
In the box you will find the Forerunner 305 watch, a heart rate chest strap, an USB to mini-USB cable, an extension arm band, a tiny cradle and the standard manual, Windows USB drivers and workout software.
The accompanying workout software (TrainingCenter) let’s you summarize various kinds of logged data and to overlay runs with maps. The strength of the software is analysis of captured data.
I was however not pleased with the accompining software and instead prefer SportTracks.
SportTracks is free (at the moment). It has a more intuitive interface, a more powerful integration with Google Maps and a one click integration with Google Earth.
You need to have Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 installed to use SportsTrack.
The Forerunner 305 can also be used while travelling. Be it to find your way back to the hotel after an ambitious sightseeing tour or to map a jungle excursion (open in Google Earth).
The unit does not have any maps so full fledged navigation is out of the question but you can leave a digital “trail of bread crumbs” while you are trekking and always be able to find your way back.
By using the latest GPS SirfIII chip the watch is able to be smaller and consume less battery.
The older model 301 suffered from bad GPS reception while being worn as it had optimum reception while being placed with display up (not ideal while running).
With Forerunner 305, by placing the GPS antenna on the bottom of the watch optimal GPS reception is instead achieved when the watch is worn normally.
A good place to purchase the Forerunner 305 in the UK would be at Globalpositioningsystems.co.uk (£ 240 inc VAT).
With the looming introduction of first HD TV content in the UK (SkyHD and BBCHD) and release dates available for HD media players (HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc) you might be wondering whether your 2-3 years old Plasma or LCD TV will support it.
HDTV will mainly come in two resolutions: 1280 pixels horizontally by 720 pixels vertically progressive (aka 720p) and 1920 by 1080 pixels interlaced (aka 1080i). Your TV should have at least 1280 by 720 pixels to take advantage of all the details in the signal (1024×768, 1024×1024 and 1366×768 will be fine too).
If you choose to connect a HD signal to your traditional TV you will just end up using the SD (standard definition) version and miss out on the details. You may get a better picture due to less compression artifacts. This is the case especially with satellite TV.
In addition to resolution, you have to look in the technical specification of your TV for what frequencies are supported. It is quite common for older TVs to accept 1080i at both 50 and 60Hz but to accept 720p only at 60Hz. In the UK, SkyHD has confirmed they will broadcast in 50Hz only which means the 720p signal would not be accessible on older TVs.
There are various ways to feed a HDTV signal into a HDTV and your TV should accept one or more of the following inputs: Component (analog), DVI (digital) and/or HDMI (digital).
I believe that analog component outputs will be removed from second generation of HD units but at the moment SkyHD boxes and Sony Blu-ray Disc players will feature component out.
HDTV introduces content protection of the signal on the wire. This is achieved with the encryption named HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection). Ideally your TV should support HDCP on digital inputs (DVI or HDMI) but again first generation of HDTV content will be unencrypted so for a limited time not supporting HDCP is OK.
Some TVs support extension boards that can provide recent HDTV requirements like 720p at 50Hz and HDCP. Due to the high price of extension boards, falling HDTV prices and limited life time of Plasmas and DLP Rear Projection TVs you may be better of investing in a new HDTV.
- At least 1280 by 720 pixels
- Accept 720p and/or 1080i signal at 50Hz
- Component and/or DVI and/or HDMI inputs
- Ideally HDCP on DVI or HDMI
Best picture is always achieved if the input signal can be shown without any scaling. This means that a 1080i signal will look best on a screen with 1920×1080 native resolution.
The “holy grail” of HDTV are 1080p screens that will be able to display a true progressive 1920 by 1080 pixels signal whenever that becomes a broadcast signal. Some manufacturers know this and market their top-end displays as 1080p but buy with caution as there is a discussion whether these first generation 1080p displays are true 1080p.
So what do I have? An almost 4 year old Pioneer Plasma 1024×768 display. No HDMI nor HDCP but I have confirmed it accepts 1080i at 50Hz and has component and DVI in. Due to the age of the screen I am not considering available extension boards. Instead I will get a decent 1080i screen/TV later this year.
My SkyHD installation is scheduled for May 22nd so I will let you know shortly thereafter what HDTV looks like on an old beast like that..