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Author Archive for Judie Lipsett

MyKeyO Keyboard and Organizer

It never seems as if I have enough storage space for all of the
“stuff” that magically gravitates to the limited surface space of
my desk. I’m talking about the type things that I may not need
right now, but that I can’t misplace; things like
extra earpieces or jack adapters for a set of headphones, a stick
of lip balm, loose memory cards, or a pair of earrings I just
removed and don’t want to roll off the side of my desk and under
the couch – or worse, be eaten by my dog.. Since I have a desktop
box that also serves as the base for my monitor, it only seems
natural that it should also function as a catch-all for crap
(errrr, things) that need to be perched somewhere safe until
needed. On any given day there will be a small pile sitting there –
the sight of which never ceases to aggravate me because I really
don’t like clutter.

When Julie asked if I would like to give the "">MyKeyO Keyboard and
a try, my reasons for accepting were two-fold: I had
already killed the letters silk-screened upon the more frequently
used keys "">
of my Saitek
(yeah, evidently I bang the keys that hard
when I type), and I really liked the premise of the MyKeyO – a
sectioned organizer hidden underneath the keyboard. After all,
clutter is okay as long as it’s unseen, right?

It wasn’t long before I had received not just one, but two
MyKeyO keyboard samples, one in black and the other in white. A
quick tour of their site showed that it won’t be long until
custom printed
versions are also available
; what an intriguing gift idea! But
I digress…

Included in the boxes were the MyKeyO keyboard, two plastic
extension feet, a multimedia keyboard driver (for computers running
pre-Windows Me), and a user’s guide. The MyKeyO will work with all
Microsoft Windows® computers and Apple computers. The MyKeyO
has a full sized keyboard, directional keys, function keys, and a
dedicated number pad.

Like everything else, keyboard technology has evolved to the
point where much of the formerly utilized space inside the typical
keyboard is now empty – yet most keyboards have still retained
their forbears’ larger footprint. The MyKeyO measures approximately
17.5″ wide x 8″ wide x 1.5″ thick. There are four small anti-slip
pads on the back, the bottom two are the only ones that will touch
when the feet are installed.

With the two plastic extension feet installed, it stands 2.25″
at its tallest point. These feet just slide into the receiving
brackets on the rear, but can be removed and stored inside the
keyboard if not needed. One improvement I would like to see would
be a rubber coating on the removable feet, which would help keep
the keyboard from scooting on a smoother desk.

An organizer built into a basic keyboard would be a great idea,
but the MyKeyO goes a step further. This is a fully functioning
multimedia keyboard, and as such it has some very handy built-in
features. Let’s take a look…

We’ll start with the lower row, where the left arrow returns the
browser to its previous page, and the right arrow take the browser
forward when it has been backed up. The circled “X” button stops
the browser when it is loading, and the next button refreshes the
browser page. The last button launches the computer’s Search
feature. Above this longer row of buttons are the Volume Up and
Volume Down buttons which directly control the system volume

At the top center of the keyboard are the media player control
buttons which will control the default player. Directly above the
buttons is a 4.25″ long compartment that is labeled “Store two
batteries in this compartment.” Well, I thought it was a pretty
ugly label, so of course I had to remove it.

However, the sticker was not the type to leave without a fight;
unless you want this constant reminder, you’ll need to break out
the Goo-Gone. The compartment can also be used to store loose
rubber bands or paperclips if battery storage is not needed.

To continue on with the button explanations, we’ll start at the
upper two. The one on the right mutes the system volume, and the
one on the left opens the default media player. On the lower level,
the buttons are as follows: the file labeled button opens and docks
the internet browser’s favorites list on the left of the browser
window. The home button takes the user to their internet home page,
and the email button will open the user’s default email program.
The next button opens the computer’s calculator utility, and the
button with the computer icon opens the main My Computer / Computer
file. The typical LEDs for numbers, caps and scroll lock are
present and will glow when activated.

The keys on this keyboard have a fair bit of travel as they are
pushed – they will sink down about 0.25′. These keys will “clack” a
bit, so if you are used to a quiet, more muted keyboard, this one
may sound a bit jarring at first. I have to admit that there
is something quite satisfying about clicking and clacking
away on a keyboard though…

From the front and sides the keyboard looks very similar to many
other flat styles, but of course this keyboard has a secret…

Cutaway finger tabs on the bottom of the right and left front
corners allow the user to hook a finger underneath and easily lift
the keyboard’s hood.

When lifted, the raised keyboard reveals a sectioned storage
area that can hold a variety of smaller items.

The depth of the items that can be held varies depending on
whether the slot is nearer the bottom or top of the board. Those on
the bottom are more shallow – about 0.25″, while the slots in the
back have a deeper 0.75″. Included are a variety of slots,
including one with a built-in CD spindle. The larger section near
the bottom is perfect for stamps, smaller post-it notes, or other
relatively flat items. Thicker items stored here will cause the
keyboard to sit a bit cock-eyed, so even though my 4G iPod looked
like it would easily fit, it was a bit too thick. Ah well, perhaps
it’s just what I needed – yet another excuse to buy a new
8GB nano
. ;0)

(The keyboard will stay propped open on it’s own when fully

The only real disappointment was that there was no place to keep
a standard pad of post-it notes, which measure 3″ x 3″. The bottom
compartment’s certainly wide enough, it’s just slightly too short.
Smaller sized pads will fit, so if you are terminally addicted to
this office standby, a slight down-sizing may be in order.

The MyKeyO Keyboard Organizer will not appeal to everyone; there
are those that will think that it is too utilitarian, that it isn’t
ergonomic or “natural” enough, that the keys are too noisy, or that
it doesn’t have the one particular feature which they love on their
present keyboard. However, anyone that needs a convenient and
completely out of the way place to stow the little loose items
which always seem to multiply when one’s back is turned…well,
they’re the ones that will see the value of this keyboard

MyKeyO Keyboard Organizer can be purchased here

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-29

It wasn’t long ago that I took a look at one of the most
entertaining Palm and Pocket PC games available, "">Astraware’s Broken
. Alison Barclay has just sent me the latest:

“THE MIDLANDS, UK – September 28th, 2006 – Astraware and
Revolution Software are excited to announce a special Broken Sword
promotion to celebrate 10 years since the release of the original
Broken Sword.

When the game was originally released on 30th September 1996,
no-one could have forseen that the game would still be receiving
rave reviews a full decade later. ‘Broken Sword: Shadow of the
Templars’ has been released on several platforms including PC,
PlayStation(R), GameBoy Advance(R), and most recently for Palm
OS(R) and Windows Mobile(R). Broken Sword is now an award-winning
franchise with three sequels. The most recent, ‘Broken Sword 4: The
Angel of Death’, has just been released and is currently number 1
in the charts.

“We always dreamed of writing the game on a device that would
reach beyond hardcore gamers; with the emphasis on intelligent,
cerebral gameplay, rather than the requirement for manual
dexterity, the game was always intended to have a broad appeal.
Writing the game on Palm OS(R)and Windows Mobile(R) platforms has
finally allowed us to achieve this goal”, said Charles Cecil,
Managing Director and co-founder of Revolution Software.

“We are really proud of how the game has turned out on Palm
OS(R) and Windows Mobile(R).”, said Tony Warriner, co-founder of
Revolution Software, “The PC version was praised for its beauty and
subtlety, and this has translated perfectly”.

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the release of ‘Broken
Sword: Shadow of the Templars’, Astraware is making the game
available at a very special discount price. From Friday 29th
September to Sunday 1st October 2006 ONLY, ‘Broken Sword: Shadow of
the Templars’ for Palm OS(R) and Windows Mobile(R) for Pocket PC
will be available with an Anniversary-only discount. This offer is
available from the Astraware website for this limited period only.
Visit the site at ""> "c1">
for more details.”

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-28

I just got word that SCOTTeVEST is having a "">huge
clearance sale
. There are some pretty significant bargains to
be had, so better start looking as soon as possible!

Here’s the information:







at beginning of

"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Version 2.5 Blue





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">TEC Sport Jacket




46 & 48

"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Finetex Black





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Finetex Red





"" href=
class="c10">Three.0 Finetex System Black





"" href=
class="c10">Three.0 Finetex System Red





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Covert Finetex





class="c10">Three.0 Covert System





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Fleece





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Fleece w/yellow collar





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Spring-Fall Olive





"" href=
"" class=
"c10">Three.0 Spring-Fall Stone





The Fine Print and
Other Details:

-The LAST BIG SALE OF 2006 begins at 11:00 am
mountain time on Thursday, September 28th and runs
through Sunday, October 8th.

-The sale prices reflect a 75% savings off the
Regular Price for the items.

-Due to the huge savings, "c18">ALL SALES ARE FINAL. NO RETURNS OR EXCHANGES on

-Prices are for in stock items only.

-We’re sorry, but the sale prices cannot be
applied to prior purchases.

-Quantities are limited and we expect to sell
out quickly. We will update our website as fast as possible to
remove sold out sizes/colors/styles, but please be aware that this
is not an automated function and that there are actual people
updating the site. We will notify you as soon as possible if you
order an item that is no longer available to see if you would like
a different color or style.


More laptop battery fire hazard news…!

Lenovo Recall Hotline: (800) 426-7378
CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

Lenovo and IBM Announce Recall of ThinkPad Notebook Computer Batteries Due to
Fire Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in
cooperation with the firms named below, today announced a voluntary recall of
the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products
immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries used in ThinkPad
notebook computers

Units: About 168,500 battery packs (an additional 357,500 battery packs were
sold worldwide).

Battery Distributor: Lenovo (United States) Inc., of Research Triangle Park,
N.C. and International Business Machines Corp., of Armonk, N.Y.

Battery Manufacturer: Sony Energy Devices Corp., of Japan

Hazard: These lithium-ion batteries can cause overheating, posing a fire
hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Lenovo has received one confirmed report of a battery
overheating and causing a fire that damaged the notebook computer. The incident,
which occurred within an airport terminal as the user was boarding an airplane,
caused enough smoking and sparking that a fire extinguisher was used to put it
out. There was minor property damage and no injuries were reported.

Description: The recalled lithium-ion batteries were sold with or sold
separately to be used with the following ThinkPad notebook computers: T Series
(T43, T43p, T60); R Series (R51e, R52, R60, R60e); and X Series (X60, X60s). The
recalled batteries have the following part or model numbers, which can be found
on the battery label:

Part/model number:


92P1072 92P1073

92P1088 92P1089

92P1142 92P1141

92P1170 92P1169 or 93P5028

92P1174 92P1173 or 93P5030

Sold Through: Lenovo and IBM’s Web sites, telephone and direct sales, and
Lenovo and IBM authorized distributors between February 2005 and September 2006
as an accessory for between $150 and $180 and as part of a ThinkPad notebook
computer for between $750 and $3500.

Manufactured in: Japan and China

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the recalled batteries immediately and
contact Lenovo to receive a replacement battery, free-of-charge. Until a
replacement battery arrives, consumers can continue to use their computer by
turning off the system, removing the battery, and plugging in the AC adapter and
power cord. Consumers should use only genuine ThinkPad batteries obtained from
either Lenovo or an authorized reseller.

Consumer Contact: Customers should contact Lenovo at (800) 426-7378 anytime
or log on to

to determine if the battery is part of the recall and to receive a replacement

To view this release online, please go to our web site at:

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-28

Saturday, after another fabulous breakfast at the hotel’s
restaurant, we settled in for what would prove to be an exciting
day of brainstorming.

Derek Brown one of the original founders of Mobius, gave us a
quick overview of the coup that had just occurred in Bangkok before
showing us a video about deploying computers and technology in
emerging markets. Derek has been living and working in Thailand for
over a year…lucky guy! He also spoke about the challenges of
bringing intellectual property to a country that may or may not
understand the concept.

Microsoft’s Chris Sorenson gave a mostly confidential speech
about Crossbow, the next version of both Windows Mobile for both
Smartphone & Pocket PC. Devices running Crossbow will be
appearing in the second half of 2007.

Horace Luke spoke about UI Futures, which like last year was
also a largely confidential sharing of information. I can say that
it was near impossible to keep the drool from escaping my mouth.
Horace & his team have an incredible vision, and if we can just
“hold on” a little longer, then we will all see a GUI on new
devices that will put to shame anything seen thus far. No

The rest of the afternoon was spent working on what will from
now on be known as “The Mobius Project”. We were all divided into
three groups in order to brainstorm on the needs of three distinct
demographics. Our goal was to imagine the perfect device for our
assigned group, and decide upon which features and hardware it
would include. I was put into the Social group, and we had a great
time loudly vocalizing what we thought our revolutionary device
should include and entail. Our working lunch was one of the most
fun sessions I enjoyed at Mobius, partly because in this smaller
group we were able to hear from some of our Asian attendees who had
been quieter during the larger group sessions.

We were supposed to wrap up by 3:30, but we kept going until
nearly 5; none of us were ready to quit. John Starkweather was so
cute because he kept asking if it was all right with us that we
were running over time…heck, we were in Thailand and it wasn’t
like we had anything planned; we were happy to keep going!

To wrap things up, and as our final event, John had got the
hotel to place flags on an empty expanse of their lawn. Our goal
was to toss an antiquated handheld; who ever tossed the farthest
would win. Those French guys…they are pretty crafty! Several
times we heard, “you all have baseball”, or the like – but when it
came time to toss they were the ones that threw the PDA well past
the farthest flag! After this event, Mobius was formally over…but
we weren’t done yet!

As a group, we agreed to meet for dinner and venture into
Patong, the local tourist trap. After a harrowing ride in a Thai
Taxi, we pulled up in the middle of a bustling tourist area. My
first order of business was to run across the street and get some
cash from the ATM. I knew that the ATM would be dealing Baht, but
it was still confounding to see my choices listed in the thousands’
range. 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 Baht – I wasn’t sure what to take
out! I settled on 2000 Baht because it sounded like a hefty sum.
With the conversion rate of 37:1, I had only withdrawn about $55!
Some big spender…but I would learn that was enough money for a
great evening!

Viroon Vichianwattanachai, our official Thai ambassador, took us
to a family style outdoor restaurant where he ordered various
dishes which we all devoured. It is always great to have a local
that knows the language and knows what to order from the menu – and
Viroon took this job very seriously. This was easily one of
the best meals we had on the trip – and that is saying a lot.

After dinner, we headed down one of the alleys into Patong.
Vendors lined every street and each bar was thumping music while
bar-girls shimmied inside. We hit the street stalls, where with
Chris Sorenson’s bargaining help I scored a foot tall metal
sculpture of the Alien. In hindsight, I wish I would have bought
the Predator that was next to it. :0(

Sunday morning a group of us met for breakfast and then decided
that as this was our last day, we needed to go be a bit touristy. I
had been itching to go to the Monkey School down the street from
our resort, so John, Derek, Joel, and Jenneth and I took a cab ride
down the road. Our first stop was the Cobra Show, where we saw
feats that can only be seen – hardly described.

T "">his
would be a good time to mention that all of my photos from the trip
are in my Flickr account
. I have a lot of really awesome video,
too…which I will eventually upload. :0)

Before the cobra show was finished, Jenneth had to leave and go
back to the hotel to catch her flight. We that were remaining
thought it would be fun to next go get a picture with the
elephants. Instead, we wound up riding them! Our mantra for the
entire day seemed to be “when else will we ever do this?!”, and one
of us would repeat it any time there was something to do that the
others weren’t sure about. So yes, we rode the elephants in the
rain, and it was incredible!

We started to think it would be prudent to get back to the hotel
to finish packing and change before our flights, so we returned to
the Moevenpick, ate lunch together, and then went back and prepared
for our return trips.

I don’t know about you, but 40 hours of travel time is a lot for
me. However, for a trip like this, every bit of butt & back
pain was worth it!

I saw things that I have never seen before, met people I would
have never met otherwise, and did things that I can tell my
grandkids about one day. How often does that truly happen?

So Mobius Thailand, to sum it up, was a great time not just for
the gadgety-goodness that we were shown, but also for the community
ties that it strengthened. I think it is safe to say that
every one of us attending had our friendship circles widened to
include worldwide sites that we had never visited – if only because
of the language barrier. For me, the world became a much smaller
and friendlier place because of Mobius 2006.

The list of member sites attending included: G-A Gay from
www.akihabranews. com,
Nghia from www.pdafrance.
, Howard from "">www.howardchui. com, Jason from
Joel from, Judie
from www.thegadgeteer.
, eric from "">www.phonescoop. com, CheeWee from, Jenneth
from www.roam-magazine.
, Paul Matt from "">,
Viroon from,
Andrew from ""> and "">, Ed
from www.brighthand. com,
Alvin from, Kenny
from www.mobique. com, Derrick
from www.pocketpc.,
Chiang from www.mobile01.
, Atticus from "">www.chinese. engadget. com,
Lim from www.mypdacafe. com,
Larry from "">, and HT
from "">
Gosh, I hope I got all of those right!! :0)

TerraLUX WorkStar60 LED Work Light

Here’s a scenario…You are outside working on something
important, and the traditional hanging shop light which is hooked
to your workspace gets dislodged. It falls, and the hot light bulb
inside the metal protective cage shatters into a million pieces –
leaving you and your project in total darkness. Or perhaps that
light doesn’t get dislodged, but instead the bulb burns out
at an inconvenient time. Or okay, here’s another: what if you need
the light while working on a project in the middle of
nowhere, but there is no outlet anywhere nearby – perhaps
not for miles.

If you can picture yourself in any of those situations, then
you’ll appreciate the product I’ll be talking about today, the
TerraLUX "">WorkStar60 LED
Work Light


It looks similar to the lights that the guys at the airport use
to wave in their planes, doesn’t it? The WorkStar60 is a 15″ long x
2.5″ wide light wand that may just render the traditional hanging
shop light obsolete. Why? Because it is not only bright, it is
nearly unbreakable, the LEDs will last nearly forever, and it is

60 SUPER-bright LEDs
Non-replaceable NiMH battery pack (no memory effect and more
friendly to the environment)
The battery pack will last approximately 500 deep charge/discharge
Approximately 240 Lumens
AC & DC Chargers included
2 hour Runtime until half as bright, and 4 hours until dead
Full Charge in 90 minutes from a totally discharged battery
Built-in Hook and anti-roll handle
90 Day Warranty
Magnetic Mounting Clips available October 2006
Available in 120 VAC and also 220-240 VAC for UK, Europe and

Included in the package are the WorkStar as well as the AC and
DC chargers. The light wand’s plastic body only weighs 9.5 ounces,
and it is incredibly solid with no flexing when torqued.


The main feature of this device are the sixty LEDs lined in rows
built into the wand’s shaft. The LED at the very bottom of the lineup
glows red when the wand is turned on, and it will glow even when
the battery pack is drained to the point that the white LEDs will
no longer illuminate. According to the WorkStar FAQ page, the red LED is an
indication that the “unit is still functional, but requires a cycle
charge.” If the red LED doesn’t come on when the power switch is
in the ON position, “or the white LEDs do not light when one of the
adapters (AC or DC) is attached to it, the unit may be defective
and should be replaced or discarded properly.”


The back of the shaft shows the TerraLUX branding.


A 360º swivel hook at the top of
the wand allows the light to hang from a fixed object while being
turned to whatever direction is required to properly light the


There are no user-openable sections, and other than the charging
port at the light’s base, all other possible water entry points are
sealed. According to the FAQ, the “worklight has passed IP44
standard testing; it is resistant to dust, debris ingress, and
splashing water but is not waterproof.” There is a flexible clear
rubber cover over the ON/OFF switch which helps keep water out. I
can’t help but think that if a rubber cap had been added to the
base the waterproof properties of the light would have been further

The ON/OFF switch is a simple toggle, as shown in the following


While the overall build of the wand lends itself to being shock
and impact resistant, the FAQ states “the unit can sustain a short
distance fall (~3) but is not specifically designed or rated to
prevent damage if the fall is excessive, it is run over by a
vehicle, or crushed between a hinged mechanism (hood of car,
storage container, etc.).” I dropped it from a distance of five
feet onto my concrete driveway and the light turned on and worked
without a flaw.

The wand’s anti-roll handle is approximately 2″ wide, and it
fits comfortably and more or less securely in hand when the light
is not hanging. The addition of a slot for a removable wrist strap
would greatly enhance the wand’s security when in hand.


When turned on, the 60 bright white LEDs are amazing!
Reminiscent of the light bars used my the military to communicate
with the aliens in "">Close Encounters of the
Third Kind
, the only thing these LEDs won’t do is flash or glow
in patterns. Come to think of it, that would be a very
attractive feature for future versions!


When tested in my 37 foot long hallway, I daresay that the light
illuminated better than any flashlight I have ever tested.
Now granted, it is bigger…but would you look at that projected


The TerraLUX "">WorkStar60 LED
Work Light
is a worthy upgrade to something that most people
keep in their garage. Whether it is used to illuminate a problem
under an automobile’s hood, guide its user along a dark path at
night, or to communicate with aliens, the wand should be a welcome
addition to anyone’s toolbox.

here for a printable PDF

Click here for the Worklight FAQs

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-22

This morning at 5:30, I was awakened by a call from Steve
telling me that Sarah had shaved several seconds off her events at
her just completed varsity swimming time trials! I hate that I
missed them, but talking to Steve and then Sarah made it almost as
good as being there. Yay Sarah, I am so proud of you – you rock!

I waited until a little bit later, then called Joel to see if he
wanted to walk with me to breakfast. Once there, Eric joined us and
we enjoyed another fabulous meal before walking down the hall to
our morning sessions.

Derek Snyder was the first presenter, giving a quick overview on
Windows Mobile. He quickly moved into a demo of Mobile Windows
Live. He also showed the new WM5 integration with XBox Live, for
those of you that are gamers. Derek then demonstrated some
Smartphone power toys and soon to be released applications,
including: Photo Browsing App, which allows you to look at
thumbnails of stored photos from the Smartphone Today screen, and
Speed Dial Today, which shows a photo for each speed dial contact
on the Today Screen, and even allows on the fly “ranking” of the
photos. Hurricane Tracker is an amazing new program (out today)
that shows live tracking of…wait for it…hurricanes! MobiTV is a
no-fuss solution for people that want up to 50 channels of live TV
streaming on their device. Lobster broadcasts streaming content
from the user’s PC. Mobile Medical Visualization, a new application
for doctors. Holy cow! this app allows doctors to look at patient
information, stream CT scan information, 3D heart scans, we
actually watched a movie of some woman’s colonoscopy…wow, just

Derek gave a demonstration of Tony Hawk (THPS2) on an
Axim…then on a Motorola Q. Point being that this was an app that
had been made and optimized for an advanced PocketPC device, but
was also running quite well on a “lesser” device – his words, Q
users, don’t hate!

Derek ended his talk with a massive information barrage
including details on the latest WM5 AKU3 release. One of the
coolest features was Language Pack which allows the user to choose
the operating language their device will run. This is huge! So for
instance, Dopod could ship a device in China, but if an American
user wants to use it in their own language, they can simply set the
language to English during the initial setup. There is also a new
Auxillery Display which allows the user to choose what they see, a
new Quick Start Wizard, Email Account Setup walk-through, various
ActiveSync updates, easier WiFi connectivity, changes and updates
in Messaging, updates to Windows Media Player – video scaling, and
so many other updates that it was near impossible to keep up with

Next, Nick White gave a presentation on Windows Vista which
really made me want to try out the beta…possible bugs and all.
Any time I see the latest and greatest operating system, it just
makes me drool. Maybe is is a “grass is always greener” thing, but
wow, Vista looks slick. Nick’s demo nearly made my mouth
water…okay, not nearly! It did!

At one of the breaks between sessions, we were given a Dopod/HTC
Hermes, a custom Vaja case, and a CD containing a release candidate
for Windows Vista…hey now! There was no need to jump in that pool
after all!

Dion Wiggins, Vice President and Research Director of Gartner,
and a man with more credits in his curriculum vitae than…well, I
can’t even think of a good example, but anyway, he stood up and
gave an amazing presentation on what the future holds for mobile
devices. Some of the topics he touched upon included: managing how
you control your time and productivity with the disruption of being
connected 24/7; the many technologies demanded by wireless
solutons; multimodal user interaction – like the term
“nouse”(…have you heard of this before? Believe it or not, it is
an image recognition that uses your nose as a mouse!); Technology
that uses such facial recognition as gaze sensing, gestures,
‘doubleblinks’, lip sync; the many challenges of being a mobile
operator; the “internetization” of mobilty; the dimension of
design, which covered convergent devices and the idea of a device
changing its primary use with the switch of a button that has been
programmed to activate a desired profile. Also covered were key
trade-offs from various form factorsand future display

Sebastian Schmidt, with "">SPB Software House gave a
mostly confidential speech about their futre Windows Mobile 5
software product roadmap. If you are unfamiliar with their
products, take a look at the Pocket PC Software list on the sidebar
of my gear diary. What I can tell you is that they have some
very nice upcoming applications along with some really
excellent already available programs, so keep an eye on the SPB
site and definitely give their software a try. I have personally
purchased their Diary, Weather & Backup solutions, and I
recommend them highly.

Hey, have you noticed the WM5 trend in today’s discussions? I’ve
been loving it!

The next presentation was given by Olaf Lohman from "">ComVu. This is an amazing program and
service that allows you to broadcast live content on the net. You
can even set up pay-per-view events, so yes…jokes about how the
porn industry would love this service abounded. But really, it was
one of the most innovative ideas I have seen for imidiate content
uploading – almost like having your own television broadcast.

After Olaf’s presentation, we had 30 minutes before we needed to
meet in the lobby for dinner and an evening of Muay Thai –

For dinner, we went to the most amazing local open-air
restaurant, Tangke, where we saw about 30 huge water-filled vats
all in a row. Inside these vats were every variety of seafood
imaginable – horse-shoe crab, soft-shell crab, different types of
fish, mussels, prawns, lobster…we knew we were in for something
special! No sooner had we been seated than the meal began. Plate
after plate of family style entrees came to the table, along with a
soup toureen. About an hour later, we had eaten our fill and were
ready to see the fights!

We pulled up at the Muay Thai arena, and the place was teeming
with locals. We had ringside seats (1000 Baht each) from where we
watched several fights between young boys weighing just 60 (or
less) pounds, and there were girls fighting, too! We winced
as they punched each other in the face and kicked the crap out of
each other…these girls were amazing – they had no fear!
Then the 130 pound men came out and the fights got much more
serious. I saw (and video recorded) my first knockout fight…holy
cow! When the guy was decked in the mouth, the spit flew!
Those sitting on the front row, and even those of us on the second,
got covered in it! I was thankful for that Hep B shot I’d received
before leaving, ha! We were back to the hotel around midnight, and
I was so exhausted that it wasn’t long before I was in my room and
fast sleep.

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-22

Well, I arrived in Phuket Thursday morning without any trouble;
other than the handful of soldiers which I saw at the airport exit,
there was no indication that anything out of the ordinary was
happening in Thailand. After an hour’s ride from the airport in a
chauffeured Toyota Highlander, I arrived at the "">Mövenpick Resort &
. On the way, my driver pointed out several local points of
interest, including the Monkey School, which is exactly what the
name implies – a school for monkeys. He told me that the same place
also had a guy that handled huge king cobras. Sensing my interest,
he sent me a video from his phone (via Bluetooth) of the snake guy
playing with what looks like a 10′ cobra! I’ll try to add that
later – remind me. Anyway! Microsoft always manages to find
memorable local hotels for its Mobius events, but this time they
managed to completely outdo themselves.

As we pulled up to the resort’s entrance, my immediate plans
were to check in and then get to my room and crash…but I
was told that instead, I had an appointment in the spa in 15
minutes! I had actually made an appointment at the spa when I
thought I was arriving Wednesday, but had cancelled it when I
realized I would lose my free day. Long story short, they had gone
ahead and rescheduled me, which was awesome!

After 2.5 hours of complete and totally amazing
pampering, I finally made it to my room, and took a moment to check
my messages. Joel from
had sent an email asking if I had yet arrived. In
reply, I gave him my room number, and we made plans to walk to the
evening’s event together. Finally I was able to crash, and
did for a couple of hours.

At the reception, I met a group of attendees from Taiwan,
Thailand, Japan & Singapore. More familiar faces from the past
included Eric from
, Jason
from PocktPCThoughts
, Ed
from Brighthand
, and "">Howard from Howard Forums, and
several others.

As expected, the food was amazing; we noshed on a tasty
variety of local specialties and America standbys.

The highlight of the night was when John Starkweather, our event
organizer, tossed an ancient Casio palmtop in the pool. He
had no sooner said he would give a Dopod HTC Hermes to the first
person to jump in the pool that retrieved the Casio, than Andrew
(I’ll add his site later) was in the pool getting it! I
think Andrew might have jumped in with his mobile phone and room
key still in his short’s pocket…seriously! Ah well, he seemed
pretty pleased with the trade-off. Ha!

We were joking that the punchline was that we would all receive
an HTC Hermes as we left…but we were wrong. Instead we received a
Roadwired Pod
complete with Mobius dogtag, which I know will
come in handy. I cut out of the reception early and was soon fast
asleep in my bed.

More later…

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-20

Unlike yesterday’s aborted journey, today my trip to Phuket
started without a hitch. I flew to Dallas, and as I ate lunch in an
airport restaurant, I caught up on the email and text messages I’d
missed during the previous hour’s flight.

As I read, a message from Julie caught my eye, “Hey I just heard
that a state of emergency was declared in Thailand!”

My reply was, “Shut up! ;0) Not Funny!”, because I figured that
Julie was being her typical mischevious self – messing with me
after the disappointment of yesterday’s cancelled flight that had
temporarily put my journey on hold. Little did I know…

As I waited for my flight to Frankfurt to be called, I nervously
watched as the reporters on CNN described the latest developments
of a coup against the Thai Prime Minister while he was out of the
country. Reading emails from other Mobius attendees and the text
messages from Julie and Steve, it was evident that the surprise
turn of events was a massive worry for those that were in transit
like me, as well as those who were about to be.

Some of the Mobians were saying that things should be fine in
Phuket, and that Bangkok – where martial law and a State of
Emergency had been declared – was far enough away that it should
not affect our gathering. Other attendees were saying that they had
already cancelled their flights, and that they wouldn’t take the
chance of making the trip for fear that the situation might
escalate. Still others that were actually at the resort said that
so far everything was “business as usual”.

I’ve never traveled to a country that was in the middle of a
coup (peaceful or otherwise), and I would be lying if I didn’t say
that for a little while I contemplated arranging a return flight
home, but I also didn’t want to take the chance of missing an
awesome trip if the day’s events quickly resolved.

After much consideration (and quite a few fast & furious
text messages with Steve), I decided that since I still had a 9.5
hour flight to Frankfurt, as well as a seven hour layover upon
arrival – and therefore plenty of time to decide whether or not to
continue – I would go ahead and make the next leg of my

As I type this entry, I have just arrived in Frankfurt. It looks
like things are peaceful, and I will be traveling on to Phuket as
planned. I wish all coups could be as calm!

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-18

In just a little bit I will be heading to the airport to begin my ~40 hour
journey to Phuket, Thailand for Mobius 2006.
I’ll be carrying a large bag loaded with everything I think I could possibly
need – electronic books, movies, snacks, back medicine, a fresh shirt, and a
small bag full of personal grooming items that I hope will be allowed on
the plane. If I

am reading this list correctly
, deodorant is okay…but toothpaste isn’t. It
looks like we’ll be a plane full of foul-mouthed travelers! ;0)

In any case, I hope to have internet access while traveling and at our
resort; if all goes as planned I’ll post photos and comments along the way. No
matter what happens, it should be interesting and fun…

Added later: Evidently I spoke too soon! Due to yesterday’s bad weather in Dallas, my flight to Dallas today was cancelled. I’ll now be leaving at the same time tomorrow, and I will still arrive in Phuket with plenty of time for Mobius events. Unfortunately I’ve now lost my one free day to explore and recover from jet lag. Oh well. :0P

EDGE Tech diskGO 2.5″ Backup Ultra Portable Hard Drive

One of my regularly watched television shows is the Discovery Channel’s

It Takes a Thief
. The point of the show is to demonstrate how easy it is for
a thief to break into someone’s house and steal everything with any
value; the show aims to educate people on better ways to protect themselves from
being a victim. On one of last season’s episodes, they featured a grandmother
who had transferred all of her family photos and documents to her computer’s
hard drive. During the course of that particular show’s staged robbery, the
thief emptied the grandmother’s silver drawer, jewelry box and medicine cabinet,
and then he picked up her computer tower and casually carried it out the door.
Had the robbery been real, all of her carefully collected family photos and
documents would have been gone forever. Even though the "victim" knew she would
be getting all of her possessions back at the end of the show, I still couldn’t
help but feel sorry for her as she agonized over the idea of losing her digital

Of course, robbery isn’t the only way that information stored on a computer’s
hard drive can be lost. But until I saw that particular episode, I had never
thought about the benefits of keeping a separate backup copy locked in a safe. A
little bit of overkill? Perhaps…but maybe not. I guess it depends on what kind
of information one keeps on their computer.

Over the last month I have been testing an

diskGO 2.5" Backup Ultra Portable Hard Drive
. Measuring approximately 5.5"
long x 2.75" wide x 0.5" thick and weighing just 6.5 ounces, this is one of the
smallest portable hard drives I’ve reviewed. Not only does the diskGO’s size
make it a good choice for a loaded-down road warrior, it also makes for a very
easy to hide emergency backup.

Available in 40, 80, 100 or120GB, the pocketable diskGO has a brushed
aluminum casing that feels very solid and sturdy. When squeezed, the diskGO
easily passes the Gadgeteer creak test. The front of the drive has a single
clear plastic button, which when used with the included Bakup4all software
enables a customizable one-touch backup solution.

STYLE: Brushed aluminum cover, providing protection and cooling
USE: Includes Backup4all by Softland Software & Installation CD
SPEED: Hi-Speed USB 2.0 (up to 480 Mbps), backwards compatible to USB 1.1
POWER: USB Bus, External power supply (optional)
COMPATIBILITY: PC Operating System Windows 2000+
SUPPORT: 1 year warranty & toll-free technical support
CAPACITIES: 120G, 100G, 80G, 40G

The slight texture of the brushed aluminum case makes the drive easy to hold
without showing obnoxious fingerprints.

Included in the package are the diskGO, a black vinyl carrying case, a USB
2.0 cable, a user guide, a CD which contains the Backup4all software and Windows
98/98SE Driver, and a USB power cable.

The 2.0 USB cable should be able to draw enough juice to power the drive, but
if additional power is needed a second USB port on the host computer can be
commandeered to provide the necessary extra boost.

When the drive is plugged in, the clear button will glow bright blue. The LED
will blink when the drive is being accessed or a backup operation is underway.

The diskGO’s back vinyl storage bag holds the drive and both sets of
connection cables; this package will easily fit inside a laptop bag’s empty

When plugged into the host computer’s USB port, the diskGO shows as a
separate and accessible hard disk drive.

After installing the included Backup4All software, a blue arrow is added to
the system tray. Clicking the icon will pull up the backup software so that it
can be configured.

Multiple backup sets can be made, each with their own automatic backup
schedule if desired. For this example, I decided to create a backup of the My
Documents folder and my computer’s Outlook file. Icons can be chosen from a list
to represent a backup group.

The Backup Wizard is easy to follow; individual files or entire folders may
be chosen.

The button on the diskGO can be set for One Touch Backup of an item or a
group of items. Mine is set to backup the My Documents folder.

The destination file is preset for the diskGO; since this is a bundled and
therefore restricted version, the user does not have the option of changing the
destination to another drive on their computer.

The backup types available are Full Backup, Incremental Backup, Differential
Backup and Mirror Backup.

The backups can be as complex as the user needs them to be…

The Scheduler allows the user to set time when the diskGO will go automatic
backups of the selected sets. This is very handy if the drive is always attached
to the users computer, but not as important if the drive is used sporadically.

Icons along the top of the console window allow the user to select the files
they want displayed – for instance those that have changed since the last
backup, those that have remained the same, or those that have been removed.

A backup can be performed at any time by pressing the onscreen button…

…pressing the Restore button will allow a quick and painless restoration
should one be needed.

Of course, if the user does not want to use the backup software, files may be
dragged and dropped instead. Here are some sample transfer times…

A 714MB movie file from desktop to the diskGO took one minute 16 seconds.

A 714MB movie file from the diskGO to desktop took one minute seven seconds.

The EDGE Tech

diskGO 2.5" Backup Ultra Portable Hard Drive
manages to cram quite a few
features in a small package. It is easy to set up and easy to operate, and it is
the perfect size for both travel or hiding for safe-keeping. If you need a
backup drive that holds a large amount of memory in a small amount of space,
then the diskGO may be just what you’ve been looking for.

The price list for the various size diskGO drives is located here

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-14

This morning I had an email waiting from Mitchell Oke, saying
that he “went down to my local "">Apple reseller yesterday to see if I
could pickup one of the just-released "">
, but alas they were out of stock. I went back today and
although they weren’t making them available till tomorrow, the guy
I knew there let an 8GB nano slip out early for me. It looks and
feels awesome!! Even smaller than the original (or just seems so
because of the round edges). The metal is SOOOOOOOOOO much better
than the plastic of the original. Makes the old one feel like one
of those tacky copies off ebay

Here are pictures he included for your “viewing pleasure…”

It looks awesome; thanks for the pictures Mitchell! :0)

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-11

Once again, I have a few products that require a volunteer

As always, the requirements are:

1. That you have a digital camera
2. That you own any additional devices necessary to conduct the
review (i.e. – if it is a case review, you have the proper device
to fit the case)
3. That you take nice clear pictures of the product being
4. That you use the product for a minimum of two weeks,
gathering impressions on its positive and negative points, all of
which will be included in your review
5. That you complete the review within three or four weeks after
receiving the item
6. That you agree not to publish the review on another web site

In return, you will get to keep the item that you review. You’ll
need to email me if
you see something you would like to review. Sound like a plan? Read

1. This item is no longer available and will be reviewed by Jeff Nawrot; thank you Jeff! "">Roadmaster USA
VRFM8BLN 2 in 1 Wireless MP3 WMA FM Transmitter

According to the site:
• Plays All your Audio Devices Wire-Free through your Car
Stereo System’s Pre-Set 15 FM Stations.
• Multi Function Buttons: Random/Shuffle Mode /Channel,
Play/Pause Pushbutton, Volume/Track Selection.
• Last Station Recall
• Last Song Played
• Plug N’ Play™ your MP3’s and WMAs, Wire-Free from your
USB Flash Drive
• Aux Input Jack for Use with MP3, CD and DVD Players
• Standard USB Port
• 6 Position Flexible Joint for Ease of Use.
• Digital Large, Easy to Read LED Shows Pre-Set FM
• 3.ft. Audio Cable
• 2.5mm Stereo Input
• 12 Volt Wire-Free Transmission


2. This item is no longer available and will be reviewed by Mark Murphy; thank you Mark! "">
Brando USB 1GB MP3 Pen + FM Radio + Voice Recorder
(Value $68)

According to the site: “COOL MULTI-FUNCTION STUFF!!!
MP3 + FM Radio + Voice Recording + Data storage + Memo

USB MP3 Pen + FM Radio + Voice Recorder is a multi-functional
gadget!! You can enjoy your music or FM radio during your day. It
is also a convenient and stylish mass storage device which is
shockproof and moisture proof that you can bring along wherever you
go and your data and information will be there whenever you need.
It comes along with voice recording function so that you can record
the important voice”


3. This item is no longer available and will be reviewed by Brian Cottingham; thank you Brian! "">Edifier
H260 high Performance Stereo Headphone
(Value $33)

According to the site: “The Edifier H260 in-Ear Earphone is
designed with soft silicon in-ear earbuds for excellent noise
isolation and offers high-quality audio reproduction with
extraordinary bass ideal for digital music playback.”


All items will be available on a first come first served basis;
I will post that the item has a reviewer as each slot is



RoboForm2Go USB Key

Anyone that uses the internet knows that passwords play a necessary role in
the online experience. On any given day a single person may utilize dozens of
passwords while accomplishing such mundane tasks as making posts to a bulletin
board, purchasing an item, or checking their child’s school grades. Over time,
unless the same exact password is always used, managing this large number of
passwords and the sites for which they work will become a challenge.

When a person is using his or her own computer, they have the option
of allowing entered passwords and sites to be stored in the computer’s memory.
This is a very convenient feature, but it’s hardly secure when others are also
sharing computer access. People that use public computers have the added burden
of needing a way to ensure that they will not unintentionally leave a password
trail which will allow unscrupulous persons to steal their online identity.

For quite some time many password users have been aware of the award winning
software RoboForm, which as described by
their site: "Memorizes
your passwords and Logs You In automatically,
Fills long
registration and checkout forms with one click,
Encrypts your
passwords to achieve complete security,
Generates random
passwords that hackers cannot guess,
Fights Phishing by filling
passwords only on matching web sites,
Defeats Keyloggers
by not using keyboard to type passwords,
Backs up your
passwords, Copies them between computers,
Searches for keywords in
your passwords, notes and Internet, and is Neutral: works with
Internet Explorer,
Here is a quick overview of RoboForm for those that aren’t familiar…

The first time RoboForm is run, a Master Password must be set. When the user
the master password to log into RoboForm on their computer, the user will have
unfettered access to all of their passwords – even if they don’t remember any of

RoboForm will automatically import all current login passwords. The user then
has the choice of whether or not to clear the cached passwords once they have
been imported.

After installation, an additional toolbar will be integrated into the user’s
internet browser. Before getting hostile about the screen’s lost real estate,
let’s talk about the value added by this toolbar…and if you still don’t want
it there, there are work-arounds available.

Clicking the RoboForm button displays all of the RoboForm options; these are
also all accessible from the system try icon if you would like to forego the
browser toolbar.

Clicking Logins shows a list of all of the passwords stored in RoboForm. The
button with "Judie Hughes" on it indicates the identity RoboForm is using as it
fills in browser forms. If there is a password associated with a particular
site, it will be offered both in a window automatically shown in the upper right
of the browser as well as in a drop down menu when I hover over the button with
the mouse.

The Save button instructs RoboForm to keep an entered user name and password
for future use.

The Generate button allows RoboForm to create an impossible to remember, and
therefore near impossible to guess password.

RoboForm completely integrates with Internet Explorer, and it will also work
with Firefox and Netscape; a
full list of compatible browsers may be seen here
. RoboForm is meant to work
with computers running Microsoft Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, and 
Server 2003; it will not work on Mac computers. Multiple password protected
passcards, safenotes and identities may be created with a single license of
RoboForm Pro for multiple users on the same computer.

When using RoboForm on the user’s main computer, the master password is
required for login and RoboForm will continue working until the user logs off.
The user’s information is encrypted with "the strongest encryption available,
including AES, RC6 and Blowfish, to achieve complete security." This is a great
standalone solution unless the user needs to access their password list from
multiple computers. That’s when the RoboForm2Go USB Key and software come in

Today I am going to take a look at a companion device that can take a
RoboForm user’s simplified and secured password experience from beyond their own
computer to any other computer that they might use.

The RoboForm2Go USB Key
is a 2.75" long 256MB thumbdrive that sells for $9.95 when purchased with the
RoboForm2Go software. Let’s take a look
at the hardware first, then we’ll cover the software and how it all works

The device I was sent was branded "Pass2Go", which has since been updated as
"RoboForm2Go USB Key"

Included in the package are the RoboForm2Go USB Key (256MB), a neck lanyard
and a USB expansion cord.

The RoboForm2Go USB Key utilizes USB 2.0 speeds, and it is optimized to
automatically run the RoboForm2Go software when plugged into an empty USB port.

When files are being accessed, a green LED will flicker on the end of the
drive near the loop where the lanyard is attached.

As I mentioned, the RoboForm2Go USB Key must be ordered with the RoboForm2Go
software installed in order to get the $9.99 price. RoboForm2Go can also be
purchased separately for $39.99 if the user already has their own USB drive.

This would be a good time to talk about the various ways in which the USB Key
may be configured; I’ve attached a screenshot of the

order page
showing the various options. Mine came loaded with RoboForm2Go, a
free version of the desktop RoboForm software, and a copy of
GoodSync. As tested, the total would be
$69.85. If I wanted to update to the RoboForm Pro, the total would be $79.80.

When the RoboForm2Go USB Key is plugged into the computer, it will show as a
separate device with removable storage.

Using the RoboForm2Go USB Key is a simple matter of inserting it in a spare
USB drive. The computer will recognize the plug & play device, and the
RoboForm2Go installation screen will come up if the program has not already been
installed. After installing RoboForms2Go, the installer will copy desktop
passwords to the USB key.

RoboForm2Go stores saved web pages and passwords and allows the user to log
into their accounts automatically on any computer. When the RoboForm2Go is
plugged into a computer, it will immediately begin running – entering passwords
as needed and allowing access to bookmarked sites from the list stored on the
USB Key.

Once RoboForm2Go is running, a browser toolbar similar to the full RoboForm
version will show.

When the USB Key is removed, all passwords – even those newly added – are
contained on the key and will then be removed from the computer.

GoodSync is the other program that can
also be run directly from the RoboForm2Go USB Key. According to its site,
"GoodSync uses an innovative synchronization algorithm to synchronize your data
between desktop PCs, laptops, USB drives and more. GoodSync combines bulletproof
reliability with an extremely easy to use interface. Most synchronization
software claim to synchronize your files, but many simply copy from place to
place. GoodSync offers true bi-directional synchronization, which prevents
deletion of files and data loss."

What GoodSync does is allow the user to keep a folder truly synchronized
between their main desktop and the USB Key. In turn, the USB Key can be
synchronized with a laptop, allowing the user to keep files current on both
devices. Any information that is dropped into a synchronized folder will
immediately be updated when the USB Key is inserted into the synchronized

So to wrap things up, there are a few choices available here:

1. If you only use one main desktop computer, and you need strong password
protection that will keep family users and guests from getting into your various
accounts, you can use the free version of
. But if multiple profiles and logins are needed you should
get RoboForm for $29.95.

2. If you do not have a main desktop at home (or if you don’t want to install
stand-alone software); but you commonly use computers in internet cafes,
libraries or similar public computers, get
the RoboForm2Go USB Key with
for $49.95

2. If you normally use a main desktop computer at home, and you need strong
password protection with multiple profiles and logins that will keep family
users and guests from getting into your various accounts; but when you travel
you want to have all of your sites and passwords handy,
get RoboForm Pro and
the RoboForm2Go USB Key with
for $59.85

3. If you normally use a main desktop computer at home and you need strong
password protection with multiple profiles and logins that will keep family
users and guests from getting into your various accounts; but when you travel
you want to have all of your sites and passwords handy as well as a way to
synchronize certain files between your desktop and laptop,
get RoboForm,
the RoboForm2Go USB Key with
, and GoodSync for $79.80.

Got it?

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-08

Mmmmm….kidney pie!

This entry is not gadget related, and it is highly personal. But
if helps one person then I won’t feel bad about having shared a bit
“too much information”.

So here goes…

A couple of months ago I noticed a small amount of blood in my
urine. This occurred on two different occasions in a three week
period. While I thought it was strange, I wasn’t overly worried.
Thinking that I might have a urinary tract infection, I made an
appointment with my gynecologist. The test came back negative for a
UTI, but my urine did test positive for an abnormally high blood
level. After various tests were performed and “female” issues had
been ruled out, it was determined that I might have a problem with
my kidney, bladder or urethra. An appointment was made with a
Urologist, but there was over a month’s wait before I could get in
to see him.

During the wait, we went on vacation and not once did I have
abnormal bleeding. In fact, I almost cancelled the appointment with
the Urologist because I felt fine and I was having no
further symptoms. I very rarely get sick and I hate going to
doctors almost as much as I hate having to take medicine. People
who are always talking about their medical problems and
hypochondriacs are two of my biggest pet peeves, so I started
rationalizing and telling myself that the blood in my urine must
have been a fluke. Julie told me I should still see the Doctor,
that I probably had a stone. “Stones hurt,” I told her, “I
know I don’t have a stone.”

After waiting over a month I finally got in to see the
Urologist. I told him I was embarrassed to take up his time – that
I had no pain and I hadn’t had blood in my urine in over a month. I
think the most alarming thing that I told him was that I had no
pain. He was ready to schedule an "">Intravenous
, or IVP. “Sure, stones hurt,” he said, “but cancer

Holy crap…did he just mention the C word?

FYI – If you have unexplained blood in your urine and there is
no flank pain, it is not normal. Get thee to the

The IVP results showed a 1.5cm “filling defect” in my right
kidney. What the heck is a filling defect? Well, it can be anything
from a kidney stone to a cancerous tumor.

Next up was a lower abdominal CT Scan, which showed nothing
abnormal in my right kidney, but it did show a 0.5cm
non-calcified nodule on my right lung. My Urologist began preparing
me for the worst. He needed to do a more invasive "">cystoscopy
and ureteroscopy
as well as an additional contrast dye with
x-rays on my urinary tract which would require day surgery. Based
on my CT Scan he knew this was not a stone, it had to be some other
non-calcified mass. If he didn’t like what he saw in my kidney when
he got in with the scope, or if there was a blockage and he
couldn’t get in with the scope, then my right kidney was coming

If I had the exploratory surgery and nothing was found, I would
likely go home the same day, but if they actually removed my
kidney, then I could expect to stay in the hospital for at least
five days. It really bothered him that there was a spot on the same
side of my lungs as the filling defect; so he was also referring me
to a pulmonary specialist – who would not be able to see me until
October 31st.

I cried like a bitter fool when I heard this. I cried while they
drew blood for a battery of pre-op tests, and I continued crying as
they whisked me into radiology and I cried all though an upper
respiratory CT Scan. Not big heaving sobs, but the quiet kind where
tears just roll down your face and no matter what you do, you can’t
make them stop. I think I scared everyone in the clinic that came
into contact with me; I was scaring myself. It mortifies me even
now to admit that I could. not. stop. crying. All I could think of
was “non-calcified mass”, which meant “tumor”, which meant
“cancer”, which meant it was “my turn” to go through what Steve had
gone through four years ago.

The new CT Scan results came in a few days later. The good
news was that there was no lymph node activity in my upper or lower
chest. The bad news was that the scan showed two additional
sub-centimeter spots on my right lungs.

Exploratory day surgery for my right kidney was scheduled for
September 6th.

In the two weeks leading up to the surgery, I carried on as best
I could. I was acting as if nothing was wrong, but it was really
wearing me down. Everything was going so well, too! I helped with
Sigma Kappa’s formal recruitment, I was asked to be "">
Geek of the Week
on Born
, I was planning to attend the upcoming Mobius event in
Thailand, I was offered an MVP-type position with a company I
respect, and I had just received an email from the Ellen Degeneres
show because they had seen my Born Rich profile. In other words I
did not have time to be sick. Period.

With the day surgery date looming ahead, I went ahead and
updated my vaccinations in anticipation of going to Thailand; my
reasoning being that if I didn’t get them, then I would be
admitting I couldn’t go.

I did a video review and submitted it to the Ellen show, because
it was a challenge and I didn’t want to admit that I was

I filled out the Geek of the Week interview questions and
submitted them the day before my surgery, knowing that if I put
them off they would not be done until after I got out of the
hospital – at least a week later.

And instead of writing the two reviews that I had planned on
having ready for Tuesday & Friday, my regular posting days, I
just wrote Tuesday’s. My reasoning was that if I had the Friday
review ready then I would not be home to work on it; I would be in
the hospital.

So Wednesday morning Steve and I showed up for day surgery. There were
two operating rooms prepared for me: one for looking into my kidney
and removing tissue for testing, and one for removing the kidney if
the doctor saw anything remotely resembling cancer. I told my
doctor before I was taken to the OR that if he had to take my
kidney, to please make the smallest incision possible because I
still wanted to go to Thailand. He told me he didn’t think Thailand
would be happening. My anesthesiologist told me that going to
Thailand two weeks after kidney removal was not being realistic,
and I knew they were right. I just couldn’t accept that I
wasn’t going, because then I would be admitting that I was losing
my kidney because I had cancer. They really acted like they
expected me to wake up minus one bean shaped organ; I was terrified
they knew something further that they weren’t telling me.

Steve and Grabb were in my room when they came to roll my bed to
the OR. The doctor had left and we had already agreed that it
sounded like they were pretty certain that my kidney was coming
out. I was resigned; it was really happening. Steve told me that he
loved me and gave me a kiss; Grabb got teary when he kissed me
goodbye and told me he loved me, and it took everything in me to
keep from tearing up until I had been pushed far enough down the
hall that the guys couldn’t see me. I knew I was going to
lose my kidney, I knew I had cancer, I knew I was
going to be in the hospital for a week, I knew that I wasn’t
going to Thailand, and I knew that it was going to hurt a
lot when I woke up.

In the first OR, which was freezing cold, the
anesthesiologist was joking about how I didn’t have enough
insulation if I was that cold. I said something like, “No,
it’s because I am practically naked on this metal ta-…”

And that’s the last thing I remember before drifting into la la

When I awoke in the recovery room, the first thing I saw was the
clock on the wall – which showed I had only been out for about an
hour. In a fog, I mentally adjusted the time and reasoned that I
had actually been out for the full day. I laid there trying to
decide what exactly hurt the most, and to my surprise I decided
that it was my throat, probably from the breathing tube. My
right side was throbbing, and I seriously thought I needed to pee.
A couple shots of Demerol later, and that urgent need was gone;
evidently it was a side effect of the procedure.

My doctor came by and told me that I still had my kidney, that
he had removed two blood clots, that one was pretty large, but YES
– I would be going to Thailand after all – once they removed the
stent that had been inserted. I didn’t find out until later that a
blood clot in the kidney can be very serious – it can travel to the
lung and cause an embolism. All I knew was that blood clot sounded
wayyyyyy better than tumor. When I asked what had caused the
blood clots, my doctor had some suggestions: trauma to the kidney,
a passed stone that caused bleeding as it made it’s way through,
trauma from a previous infection. Who knows what caused my clots; I
am just glad that they are now gone.

Today I saw the pulmonary specialist. They had a cancellation
and my case looked “interesting” so I was bumped to the head of the
line. After showing us the latest CT Scans, the doctor said that
the best course of action will be regular CT Scans for the next two
years. Two of the spots are too small to biopsy without removing a
portion of my lung’s lobe. The better option would be to observe
the spots over time and see if they stay the same, which would
indicate some past non-growing trauma. If they do grow, then we can
do a biopsy or surgery at a later date. Right now I am feeling
pretty lucky, so I am going to hold onto the notion that these
spots are the result of a lifetime of exposure to dust, pollution
& occasional second hand smoke.

The point of my story is simple: Male or female, if you have
unexplained bleeding without any pain, do not put off going to the
doctor. Microscopic amounts of blood in the urine might be normal,
but if you can see it and you don’t feel any pain, then there is
the possibility that you have something seriously wrong. I don’t
know what would have happened if I had not gone to the doctor,
maybe nothing…but maybe things would have turned out much worse.
Whatever was going wrong in me has been caught in time, and I would
want the same for you. :0)

4800mAh Mugen Battery Replacement for the HTC Universal / i-mate JasJar

Most of the time, I find that the i-mate JasJar’s 1620mAh factory original
battery is sufficient to make it through a typical day. However when I am using
the built-in wireless extensively, when I am traveling, or when I am not able to
recharge at some point during the day, I have noticed a definite need for a
backup power solution. That’s why I was very interested to learn that
Lion Battery was carrying a
4800mAh Mugen
Power Battery replacement for the HTC Universal / i-mate JasJar

Included in the package are the 4800mAh battery and a replacement battery

As anyone that has ever owned an extended battery can tell you, there are
trade-offs involved in their use…well, really just one: in return for better
than double the original battery life, the extended battery will be at least
the size of the original. This generally means that a somewhat svelte
device will acquire what amounts to a rather noticeable beer gut.

Exhibit A: In this picture we see the JasJar, already one of the
larger and heavier Pocket PCs, measuring 5.175" tall x 3.134" wide x 0.932"
thick and weighing 10.2 ounces.

The stock battery keeps the back of the device as level as possible.

The battery cover is a flat piece of plastic that reiterates the lower height
of the battery it covers.

Exhibit B: Here is a photo of the JasJar with the 4800mAh Mugen
battery installed. It now measures 5.175" tall x 3.134" wide by 1.24"
thick, and it now weighs 12.2 ounces.

There is now a 0.34" protrusion rising above the JasJar’s metal back.

The battery cover is 0.376" deep, reflecting the need to conceal the 0.5"
thick Mugen Battery.

The addition of the extended battery does not interfere with using the
Universal’s keyboard, in fact I found it provided a comfortable and almost
contoured resting place for my fingers on the previously flat back of the
device. Of course, cases made for the Universal will no longer fit when the
Mugen Battery is in place.

Have I scared you off yet? I hope not…because if you need better battery
life than the factory original provides, then this is definitely the way to go.
Take a look at the results I obtained when using

, a free battery life measurement utility. Both tests were
conducted with the backlight on medium the entire time the utility ran. Running
the media player, WiFi, BT, or another battery intensive application might lower
these numbers by as much as half.

Regular battery test: 303 minutes, or approximately 5 hours

Extended battery test: 890 minutes, or close to 15 hours

Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you agree?

If you are someone that sits at your desk all day, never venturing far from a
power outlet, then you probably have no use for an extended battery. But if you
are always on the go – traveling, visiting job sites, or commuting, then you
have most likely felt the sting of an unexpected and unwanted low battery
warning. The
4800mAh Mugen Power Battery
was made for you. It enables and supports
the word "mobile" in Windows Mobile Computing.

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-09-02

Yesterday I did my very first video review. Julie has been doing
them for some time, but for whatever reason I have been a great big
chicken about being filmed. Well, I finally did it – and you can
watch the result it at the end of the "">HitchSafe
Key Vault
review. I realize that the lighting
was wonky in the scene at my desk, and I used the word “and” too
much when outside, but overall I don’t think it is a bad first
. Watch it and let me know if you would like to see more
of these (when appropriate), or if you find them to be too much
trouble to watch.


Julie’s on her way to New York, and I am well on my way to
enjoying a lazy holiday weekend at home. I hope that those of you
in the US have a safe and fun Labor Day; eat a bratwurst for me!

HitchSafe Key Vault

This story is funny now, but when it first happened I was really upset…

A couple years ago, I was at the ranch making my rounds – checking water and
making sure that the cows’ feeders had ample salt and minerals. I had brought my
dachshund Trixie along for the day’s ride, and at one of my stops I had to get
out and fix a trough float that was unseated and overflowing.

I didn’t turn the truck’s engine off. As I had hundreds of times before, I
just hopped out with my tool box and left Trixie in the truck while she watched
me through the window.

This truck had automatic locks and as it was a hot day, I had left the
windows up with the air conditioner running.

I happened to look up and see her standing with paws on the window ledge; I
heard the locks click as she hit the button. We were 15 miles from the nearest
town and my mobile phone was in the truck.

But it didn’t matter because I kept a spare key in a magnetic box stuck
against the inside lip of one of the trucks rear quarter panels. Except when I
started feeling around for the box, I discovered it was gone. It must
have bounced off as I drove down one of the coleche ranch roads.

What to do?

I had no choice. I picked up a rock and broke what I hoped would be the least
expensive window to replace – the passenger side wing window.

It took $80 to replace that window, and I was still finding nuggets of
glass inside the truck’s cab month’s later. But my dog was safe, and I wasn’t
left standing in the 100º heat with no way
to get help.

I would be willing to bet that if I were to conduct an informal poll, it
would show that a surprising number of people that have lost their magnetic key
box. Of course, this loss would most likely only be discovered when the spare
key was needed – defeating the purpose of having had the lockbox in the
first place. Whether because it bounces off on a bumpy road, or it is discovered
by a would-be auto thief, magnetic key boxes are an unreliable backup plan for
lost keys and lockouts.

But until recently, I wasn’t aware of any other door unlocking option that
didn’t involve an OEM numeric keypad on the driver’s door or
OnStar. As I was
flying back from Washington DC, I was flipping through the
SkyMall magazine,
which is where I noticed one of the most clever gadgets I had seen in a long
time: the HitchSafe Key Vault.

Any truck, SUV, Recreational Vehicle or automobile that has a built-in 2" tow
hitch receiver will work with the HitchSafe.

Included in the package are the HitchSafe, instructions, warranty paperwork,
various EVA foam spacers, and a dustcover.

The HitchSafe measures approximately 5" long x 3" wide on the combination
end, and it weighs one pound six ounces. The HitchSafe’s body is made of metal
with a black finish. It will fit into any standard 2" receiver, and the included
EVA foam inserts make the HitchSafe adjustable for pin hole variances. According
to the specifications listed on the site, "the maximum hole reach from front of
receiver to middle of pin hole is 2-9/16", and the maximum  body depth into
receiver is 4-3/8.".

The body of the safe is solid and substantial; once it is inserted into the
steel trailer hitch receiver it becomes a impenetrable box

On the front is a four digit combination lock.

Pressing the lever above the combination opens the drawer.

The combination is set by turning the silver flathead screw from the
horizontal position…

…to the vertical. Now the desired four digit number can be set. After
returning the screw to the horizontal position the HitchSafe will almost
be ready to install. It is really important that before the drawer is fitted
back into its receiver, the user tests the new combination to make sure that the
lever will move. If not, the combination should be set again by moving the

Here is a shot of the drawer removed from its receiver. The drawer measures
 3 9/16" long x 1.25" wide x 1.75" tall.

The drawer can hold a set of keys along with a clicking key fob…

…or it can hold up to two IDs or credit cards and some rolled up cash. You
should not try to force more than two cards in, as that may damage them.

Installation is a breeze. Here is a shot of the receiving hitch on the front
of my truck.

There are up to three included foam inserts that go between the HitchSafe and
the receiving hitch so that the hitches’ holes will line up with the HitchSafe’s

The chrome plated hardened steel bolts slide into the receiver hitches’
holes, and they are insulated by an EVA foam gasket.

Inside the HitchSafe, there are metal brackets that slide out on either side
to capture the bolts as they are inserted. Here is a bracket in the open

…and here it is locked and operational. This is done on both sides of the
receiver hitch.

Once the HitchSafe receiver has been installed…

The HitchSafe drawer can be inserted and locked into place.

The included rubber dustcover installs over the combination front, keeping
the contents from prying eyes as well as protecting the combination front from

Looks great right?! Installation is so simple that even the most mechanically
inept can confidently do it.

Click on

to play the QuickTime video (34sec, 1.1mb).
The video is encoded in the H.264 codec. You will need the latest version
of Quicktime
to view it. VLC is another free

The HitchSafe is the perfect gadget for people with unused or seldom
used hitch receivers. Never again will a magnetic key box of mine be lost on a
bumpy back country road, and never again will I have to smash a window to get
inside my locked vehicle. Well, never again after I order an additional
HitchSafe for myself; this one went on my 16 year old daughter’s truck. Now I
have peace of mind that she will not only be able to get into her truck if she
loses her key, she’ll also have access to the emergency $20 bill that I’ve
tucked inside. If your or someone you care about has a vehicle with a hitch
receiver, I can highly recommend this ultra-secure method of carrying extra keys
and cash.

The HitchSafe Key Vault
is available directly from their
and from other retailers.

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-08-29

Tonight I received an email from Alex Kac saying that he has just released
the latest version of Pocket Informant,
his brilliant PIM application that no Windows Mobile 5 device should be

Here’s the 411:

"I am quite happy to announce the final release of Pocket Informant 2007!
We’ve worked pretty hard with this release and have some amazing things to talk
about. First is that Pocket Informant 2007 now works directly with Franklin
Covey Plan Plus for Outlook 4.0. Pocket Informant 2007 adds several new Franklin
Covey Plan Plus for Outlook 4.0 (PPO) features such as the Daily Tasks, Master
Tasks, Projects, Task Status, Percentage Completion, and Daily Notes. These
features work perfectly within Pocket Informant without PPO. However for these
features to sync up to the desktop you need to have PPO version 4.0. PPO 4.0
ships with the sync conduit which syncs this data to the desktop.

Second is just how well integrated the new features within PI 2007 are –
here are some highlights:

  • NEW! Daily Notes

  • NEW! Franklin Covey Daily, Master, and Project views and synching with
    Plan Plus for Outlook 4.0.

  • NEW! Task Status – Normal/Complete/In Process (w/% complete)/Delegate

  • NEW! Create appointments for specific timezones

  • NEW! Complete One handed Soft Key support

  • NEW! Revamped Contacts Summary with Call Logs (Phone Edition devices

  • NEW! One handed date picker

  • NEW! Multiple Alarms, Travel Appointments

  • NEW! Live Preview windows

  • NEW! Exchange GAL support on WM5 AKU2

  • NEW! Revamped Journal with Rich Text and new fields

We are giving a free upgrade to all Pocket Informant 2005 customers who
purchased from April 1st 2006 on up. Otherwise upgrades are $12.45.? The upgrade
page is available here:

We currently are only releasing the American English version of the
software as we polish up the localizations. To download Pocket Informant 2007,
visit this page:

Pocket Informant 2007 is for Windows Mobile 2003/2003SE and Windows Mobile
5 Pocket PCs."

I have been using PI for years, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
If you want more functionality from your WM5 device than just the basic
out-of-the-box PIM functions, then you must try Pocket Informant 7! :0)

Skullcandy Proletariat Noise Cancelling Headphones with LINK Technology

I should start this review with the statement that anybody who travels
a set of noise reducing headphones. But the fact is that NR headphones
shouldn’t just be used when sitting on a plane next to a frustrated
parent who is holding a squalling baby. NR headphones are a great way to cut out
any obnoxious background noise, they can make things quiet enough that the
wearer can sleep, relax, or even work more productively in the noisiest
environment. When used in conjunction with a set of NR headphones, digital music
players can put the listener inside their own personal music studio – with no
external noises to mar the quality of the audio.

Today I am going to tell you about the

Skullcandy Noise Cancelling Headphones with LINK Technology
, which I have
been using for the past month.

Driver units – 40mm
Frequency Response – 20Hz – 20kHz
Impedance – 32 ohms
Sensitivity – 121db/mW (when power is ON)
115dB/ mW (when power is OFF)
Noise Reduction Level – up to 18dB at 300Hz
Power Supply – 2 x AAA batteries (included)

Included in the package are the headphones, a LINK handsfree device, a dual
plug adapter, 2 AAA batteries, a travel pouch, warranty information, and a
user’s manual.

LINK Technology simply refers to the ability of these
headphones to connect both to the user’s digital music player and to their
mobile phone when using the included LINK cable. This add-on allows calls to be
made and taken while the headphones are being worn.

According to the Skullcandy site, "The market for these headphones is anyone
who wants to enjoy their music without having to hear the noises that are
present around them all the while being able to answer cellphone calls hands
free. The Proletariat NC is like having your own personal phone booth. The
headphones are the only noise cancellation headphones that use Skullcandy’s
award winning LINK system, making it possible for the user to listen to music
without outside noises and take phone calls into their headphones, all hands

The LINK JACKED system consists of a "Super-Sensitive" microphone built into
an approximately 2" long x 1" wide plastic clip-on remote control. The device
has a black plastic button which can accomplish several different functions
including "connect, disconnect, last-call redial, voice dialing, mute, etc.,"
depending upon "the specific functions of your particular cellphone." On my
phone, pressing and holding the black button brings up the "Say A Command"
prompt through the voice dial function. Pressing the button again ends the call.

The wheel controls the volume of the music, and the attached cables are long
enough to allow the phone and music player to be tucked in separate pockets.

My mobile phone is a Samsung A900 and while it is not specifically listed in
the list of
compatible mobile phones
, everything fit and worked correctly. However,
while calls made through the headset sounded absolutely fabulous on my end – as
if I were in an isolation booth, it was so clear – persons on the other end
complained of crackling and allover poor sound quality, as if I were talking
from inside a barrel. Here is an example of me talking, see what you

Sample while
sitting at my desk

There seemed to be no point in recording a sample while driving – I don’t
think it could have possibly sounded any worse. Therefore I would have to say
that in my testing the LINK performed poorly. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t
work better with a different phone…but I don’t think it should make that big
of a difference. It’s a good thing I wanted these for their noise reducing
properties while listening to music, because that is the area in which the
Proletariats excel.

These headphones are sized to completely cover the wearer’s ears, with
earcups measuring 3.75" tall x 3" wide. These earcups are generously padded in
soft material that feels like leather, and they are easily the most padded and
most comfortable earphones I have worn in years – taking me back to the days
when I wore my father’s huge hand-me-down Sony headset.

The left earcup has a sliding battery compartment…

…that when opened reveals a slot for the two included AAA batteries. I am
still on my original pair of batteries, which seems pretty good considering that
these are not a brand that I recognize and I have used this headset for hours on
end. At the base of the left earcup is the jack for either the regular headphone
jack cable or the LINK handsfree device cable.

The volume adjuster controls the volume of the music through the headset –
whether or not the power is turned on.

With no music playing, when the headset is turned Off, there is a sound
dampening effect that is immediately evident simply because the headset is
covering the wearer’s ears. Music coming through the headset while it is turned
off sounds fine, but perhaps a little bit muddy and dull; which can be
compensated for by adjusting the digital music player’s equalizer settings.

Switching the slider to the On position activates the headset’s noise
reducing properties, and there is a immediate feeling of sound pressurization
and quiet. It is as if the cone of silence has been lowered…

But if music is playing – whoa. The music is clearer, louder, and the
sound is incredibly good. The headphones sit securely on the wearer’s head, and
through the many possible adjustments a very comfortable fit is quickly
possible. I can sit for hours with these on my ears; there is no crushing pain
like I have received from smaller headsets, and there is no fear of accidentally
knocking loose the speaker – which is a common sensation for me when wearing

Considering that such a big set of headphones is being made and marketed for
travelers, they should be collapsible – and these are. The Proletariats fold in
the center of their leather-touch padded headband, and the joint above the
earcups also folds inward. The earcups can then be further turned inward at a 90º
angle (not shown in this picture) to allow them to easily tuck inside the travel
pouch – a bundle measuring approximately 5.5" tall x 4" wide x 4" deep. They are
obviously more bulky than a slender set of earbuds would be, but their noise
reducing properties and comfortable fit make the extra space a worthwhile
trade-off, at least for me.

If you have been looking for a noise reducing headset that is compact,
delivers great sound and is reasonably priced, then these definitely fit the
bill. Unless your phone is listed specifically as compatible with the LINK
device, you might want to save the extra $20 and get the

unLINKed version
. I have a trip to Thailand coming up in September, and I
fully intend to spoil myself with the isolation provided by the Proletariats; no
crying babies, chatty seat mates, or engine noise for me…maybe I’ll even be
able to sleep! :0)

Skullcandy Noise Cancelling Headphones with LINK Technology
are available
from Headphone World and other

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-08-25

Not long ago I bought a one-of-a-kind handbag made from a
recycled Domino
movie billboard. Yes, I am talking about the kitschy 2005 movie
featuring Keira
and "">Mickey Rourke.

My bag features the portion of the poster which shows a smirking
Mickey and his gun, and it is such a bold bag that it really grabs
the attention of everyone that sees it.

This particular bag measures 12′ long x 12″ tall x 4″ deep, and it has two
roomy pockets inside for my digital camera and mobile phone. The
DualCor easily fits inside the roomy interior,
along with my wallet, a small bag of gadgets and a few feminine
doo-dads. It’s not a gear bag per se, but this purse is more suited
to carrying my gear than the typical fashion bag. This work of art,
made by Ecoist, is
one of a series of "">custom bags
made from recycled movie posters

I get more compliments when I carry this bag than
any other I own…and if you had ever seen my handbag
collection, you would know that that is pretty amazing.

Today when I was looking at the Ecoist site, I noticed that they
now carry messenger style bags with padded main compartments and
two interior zippered pockets; these would make wonderful gear
bags! Next I want to get a Vertical Messenger, which measures 12″
tall x 10″ wide x 3″ deep, but I am hoping they will soon offer one
that doesn’t have pretty-boy "">Matthew McConaughey (or
McConna-hey-hey-hey, as I call him) leering from the front
flap. :0P

I really enjoy looking at the new styles Ecoist is introducing – they even have wallets now. The best part of all is that
they are breathing new life into these interesting movie artifacts.
Because they are made from recycled movie posters, these bags are,
to quote the Ecoist site, “very sturdy, durable, and waterproof”;
they are also reasonably priced. :0)

Tom Bihn Imago Bag and Accessories

The concept of Yin and Yang has been around for centuries. A simple
definition would be that "Yin and Yang" is a term used to describe
interdependent opposites, such as male and female, light and dark, or hot and
cold. The Tom Bihn
Imago marks the
first time I have seen this principle of complimentary opposites used to
describe a messenger bag…well, one that didn’t have the well known black and
white symbol plastered to its front, anyway.  And yet, there is a very good
reason for the company to have chosen Yin and Yang to describe their new bags.

According to the Tom Bihn site, "The Imago is a small,
messenger/shoulder bag available in two models with distinct styling — different
fabrics, different colors, and different design — and multiple personalities — a
shoulder bag, messenger bag, or laptop messenger bag." The difference between
the Yin and Yang styles is that the Imago Yin is "made of 1000 denier Cordura®,
features a sexy recurved on the flap and is available in color combinations
Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi, Plum/Crimson/Steel, and Olive/Steel/Wasabi. The Imago Yang
[is] made of 1050 Ballistic nylon model, has a more conservative look, and is
available in color combinations Black/Black/Wasabi, Steel/Kiwi/Deep Blue, and
Crimson/Steel/Crimson. Both models are lined with 500 denier Cordura®, and,
other than the flap design, feature the same basic architecture."

I was sent the Imago Yin in Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi, just
like the one shown here:

Measuring approximately
14.5" wide x 12.25" tall x 4"
deep, the Imago Yin
has a clean, non-fussy design. The only sign of branding anywhere on the bag’s
exterior is a discreet Tom Bihn tag sewn to a seam on the front flap. The bag is
kept closed by the nearly 2.5" wide heavy duty plastic clip, and the flap can be
tightened down or loosened as needed by adjusting the 2" nylon strap attached to
the clip. I have to admit that the sight of this large brown flap makes me feel
tempted to get out my embroidery needles and thread

The Imago has an adjustable 55" nylon strap that can be shortened for
shoulder wear or lengthened for wearing bandolier style. The strap is 1.5" wide
and has a sliding, cushioned, grippy shoulder pad.

On the back is a removable waist strap for those that need extra security as
they ride a bike or walk. Tom Bihn’s design quality is evident in the way that
the strap can be easily removed from the bag without cutting it off. I
personally never use these waist straps, and I have lost count of how many I
have had to permanently remove because the manufacturer didn’t offer a neat
removable option. This is yet another reason why I really like Tom Bihn’s bags!

Each side of the bag has a 6" x 3" zippered pocket that is perfect for
holding smaller items such as cell phones, digital music players or sunglasses.
These zippers are #8 YKK "splash-proof" Uretech® zippers, which help keep water
from seeping through to the pocket’s contents.

The coolest feature about each of these side pockets is that they are lined
in Ultrasuede. This allows even the most delicate items to be carried in the
pocket without fear of scratching.

Unsnapping the front of the bag reveals a wasabi green splash of color. On
the left is a 7" tall x 7" wide zippered pocket. On the right is an open pocket
which measures approximately 6" tall x 6" wide. Attached at the top of the
pocket’s back is a metal ring to which a keyring can be snapped, or one of Tom

Organizer Pouches
which I will cover further in this review.

The main compartment of the bag measures approximately 14" wide x 12" tall x
4" deep, and is large enough to hold files, several books or other paperwork.
There are two open pockets against the front wall of the bag, each measuring
approximately 7" tall x 6" wide x 1" deep. These pockets are perfect for even
the largest sized PDAs or smaller UMPCs like my DualCor. On either side of this
front pocket wall are metal rings for attaching Organizer Pouches or the
included and removable extension keyring clip.

Here is a picture of my Imago Yin bag with a passport in the zippered pocket,

Organizer Pouch
in the front open pocket, and a size 5
Soft Cell Laptop
holding my Fujitsu P2110 inside. When I need to carry my laptop, the
sleeve can tuck right in; when the laptop is not needed, I have more room for
toting my "stuff".

On our recent trip to California, Steve carried the Imago Yin as his day bag.
He was pleased by how the bag managed all of the goodies he wanted to keep
handy, as well as the items he purchased throughout the day.

Me wearing the Imago, for reference I am 5’10"

The Imago Yin and Yang sell for $85.00

For bags such as the Imago, Tom Bihn

Organizer Pouches
are the perfect solution for keeping cords neatly
contained, securing small loose items and separating various items that
shouldn’t touch each other. Available in small, medium or large, Organizer
Pouches can be secured to the Imago (or any other bag with interior metal rings)
with their attached plastic clip.

According to the Tom Bihn site, "the Organizer Pouches zip shut with a #5 YKK
coil zipper with a plastic slider which is less likely to damage sensitive
electronic gizmos. Made from 500 and/or 1000 denier Cordura® in combinations of
your favorite TOM BIHN colors — Wasabi, Steel, Crimson, Deep Blue, Sapphire,
Olive, Black — and vintage colors such as Periwinkle, Grid, and Cocoa. Colors
are "as available", which means we choose the colors and you don’t. You can
indicate a color preference in the comments field during the checkout process,
but there is no guarantee you’ll get the color you prefer."

Organizer Pouches come in small, medium and large, and they sell for $5.00,
$7.00 and $9.00 respectively.

All that it takes to turn the Imago bag into a laptop bag is a
Soft Cell Laptop
or a

Brain Cell
hard case.
According to Tom Bihn, "only smaller laptops that will fit in our Size 5 or Size
6 (for the 13" MacBook) Soft Cell or Size 5
Brain Cell
will fit in the Imago."

The Soft Cell is a slim padded sleeve that adds very little bulk to the
laptop while offering great protection against scratches, bumps and dings. Four
round Velcro tabs keep the flap closed and the laptop secure. The soft Cell can
be added to just about any messenger bag, even one you may already own.

The Soft Cell is available in either a horizontal or vertical orientation for

Now to jump to a product that I never knew I needed, didn’t even recognize
for what it was when it was received, but now am glad to have…go figure! I was
sent a couple of Ultrasuede

Laptop Keyboard Cover
s which are made to lay over the laptop’s keys when the
screen is closed.

These swatches act as a buffer between the laptop and screen when it is being
transported, and they also keep "finger grease" (say it with me now, "eeeeeewww!")
off the screen. These keyboard covers measure 10" long x 4.5" wide, so the
actual amount of keyboard covered will depend upon the size of the keyboard. On
my Fuji it keeps everything covered…

while on this much larger Dell it almost covers the keyboard from end
to end.

The Laptop Keyboard Cover sells for $6.00

The Imago & Aeronaut on Steve, who is 6’4"

The beauty of Tom Bihn’s products is that many of the bags have been made to
interact perfectly with the available accessories. It is very easy to find a
great bag, personalize it with the needed accessories, and then enjoy the
quality and superior workmanship of the entire package as they are used for many
years to come.

Tom Bihn FAQ

Tom Bihn Guarantee

MotionLingo ADEO GPS Fitness Trainer

I recently bought a

Nordic Track treadmill
, which I absolutely love; not only does it have all
of the expected features, it can also accept

iFit workout cards
. These SD shaped cards offer different workout programs
with progressive levels of difficulty along with the positive feedback of a
trainer verbally telling me what’s coming up, as the console displays what I
have done. Largely because of this type instant feedback, I have always
preferred walking on a treadmill to walking outdoors. But today I am going to
introduce a product that provides verbal feedback for many outdoor activities,
eliminating one of my main excuses for preferring to exercise indoors.

If you walk, run, rollerblade, Bicycle, ski, snowboard, or do any other
outdoor activity that moves you from point A to point B, then you’ll want to
take a look at the MotionLingo
ADEO Fitness Trainer. This
GPS enabled device attaches to any digital music player and actually provides
feedback similar to that of a treadmill, both verbally and on the user’s


GPS Update Rate 10hz
Size 3" x 2" x 9/16"
Weight 2.1 oz.
Battery Type Rechargeable Lithium Ion
Battery Life 6 hours
Battery Charging Time 4-6 hours
Audio Frequency Response 20Hz – 20kHz
+/- 1db
Connection Type USB
Internal Memory Up to 10 hours of workout data
Windows System Requirements Pentium III
800MHZ +
Windows 2000
(Service Pack 3)
or Windows XP
Macintosh System Requirements Mac OS X 10.2 +
40MB available space

Included in the package are the ADEO, a black neoprene workout belt, an audio
cable, a USB cable, instructions and a setup CD.

The ADEO is a creamy white plastic device that measures approximately 4" tall
(including antenna) x 2" wide x 0.5" thick. The left side of the device from
left to right has the Lap button (for pressing as laps are completed on a
circular course) and the Start/Stop Workout button.

The back of the ADEO has small icons that indicate the various buttons’
functions. These icons are great – but you’ll most likely never see them when
actually using the device.

The buttons on the right side of the ADEO (from left to right) are Forced
Update – to hear immediate updates while in the middle of a workout, Scroll – to
advance through the various Update Routines, and Current Time – which tells the
current time of day during a workout.

The top of the ADEO has the LED status light, the Audio In from MP3 (using
the included audio cable), and the headphone jack.

The device’s bottom has a mini-USB jack and the Power button.

Before the ADEO can be set up and used for the first time, it must be plugged
into a USB 2.0 port and charged. As it is charging, a green LED will glow; once
done the light will no longer glow. I was surprised that it took about five
hours for the ADEO to charge the first time, but evidently anywhere from four to
six hours is typical. I wonder if using the optional AC charger might help to
speed things up a bit? Battery life is approximately six hours.

Once the green light goes out, the ADEO is charged and the software can be
loaded on the user’s computer. During the setup process, the user will be
prompted to setup a free
MotionTrak online

From the online account, it is possible to set goals and even email triggers
to let you know when you are or aren’t on target.

Now it’s time for an actual workout! The ADEO goes into the left device
holder on the neoprene belt…

… and whatever MP3 player the user happens to own – as long as it is no
larger than a 4th generation iPod ( approx. 4" x 2.25" x 0.6") – goes in the
right pocket. The audio cable goes from the jack on the ADEO to the headphone
jack on the digital music player. I should point out that my 4th generation iPod
was an extremely tight fit, and the strap used to secure the player in the
pocket would barely close over it.

Add to this a set of headphones, and the newly loaded bat belt is ready to
go…which I will admit is why I wasn’t really enthusiastic about breaking in
the system.

You see, the belt looks like a large neoprene cummerbund when you step
outside. The idea is that you’ll place the devices in front of you – get a lock
on the GPS satellites, start the workout, then turn the pod around to the back
and get started, which I did; although I couldn’t help but feel like a
tool…but that would pass.

From the moment I heard the female trainer’s voice over the Gorillaz song
that was currently playing, I was hooked. I had conned Sarah into going for a
walk with me, so I knew in advance that the workout would be a little less
intense and a bit shorter than I am used to on my treadmill, but what I didn’t
expect was how much fun it was going to be.

We walked for almost thirty minutes, and every now and then the trainer would
interject the total distance traveled, our average pace, our current pace, the
time of day, elevation when it changed (only once in my mostly flat
neighborhood), and calories burned. The experience was really cool…well,
relatively speaking as I was wearing a thick black neoprene cummerbund around my
waist in 100ºF heat. :0P

The combination of good music coupled with near instant workout feedback was
awesome. I would soon find out that I was in for a treat once I got on my

After attaching the ADEO to the USB cable, I clicked the Get Workouts
button onscreen, prompting an upload of the information on my device. I was able
to enter information about the workout, and the software filled in all of the
blanks – even adding the number of miles added to the shoes i had previously

Online, I was able to access planning tools, weather information, and an
activity journal for my workout.

An Activity Report gives instant information on completed workouts…

…but once of the coolest features was this one – the Activity Details page
which showed an actual map of Sarah’s and my walk, superimposed over a Google
satellite map of our neighborhood.

The ADEO was extremely easy to set up and use, and the addition of verbal
feedback made outdoor walking in the 100ºF
heat almost enjoyable. I say almost, because by the time we had completed
our 1.1 mile walk, we were drenched in sweat and ready to come home! Listening
to the ADEO’s verbal feedback is almost like having a trainer along for the walk
– someone constantly monitoring progress and spouting immediate stats that I
would have otherwise only guessed at – and most likely erroneously so.  The
ADEO is truly a fabulous tool for those that prefer to get their exercise
outdoors; once cooler weather arrives, because of the ADEO – I might just be one
of them!

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-08-16

Well, it looks like David Ciccone has broken the news on two USB based GSM wireless cards…now I wish I hadn’t been so hasty about
buying a CF version!

I am especially interested in the plug & play "">FALCOM SAMBA 75.

His review states, “For the past few months I have had the
pleasure to use innovative cards made by Falcom Wireless. Two weeks
ago we gave you an exclusive look at the Franklin Wireless USB EVDO
card and today we will look at Falcom Wireless cards. The two cards
you will see are the Samba 75 GPRS/EDGE and the Falcom SAMBA
GSM/GPRS USB cards. These cards do EXACTLY as what they are stated
to do, during my time I never had a problem whatsoever. I also
would not recommend using the Falcom Samba card as your only voice
solution as it will deplete your battery at an accelerated

Mmmmm…gadgety goodness! I can’t seem to find a price, but I
hope it isn’t much less than I paid for mine. ‘Cuz then, I’ll
really be kicking myself. ;0)

"">Read Dave’s
full review here

Update: Dave has added the price to his review – $219…which is less than I paid. Urgh!

Judie’s Gear Diary – 2006-08-15

Alison with Astraware just sent me the following:  We are currently
developing a new game aimed at families and we’d like to ask readers of The
Gadgeteer who have children to help us in testing the game. If any of your
readers are interested in this idea, please ask them to take a look at this page
at the Astraware website:

Click here to volunteer!

So…what are you waiting for? :0)

Tom Bihn Aeronaut Maximum Carry On Bag & Accessories

When Darcy, the VP of Marketing at Tom Bihn,
wrote asking if I would like to take a look at their new
Aeronaut Maximum Carry
On Bag
, her offer couldn’t have come at a better time. My family was in the
process of getting ready for our California vacation, and I was in the midst of
a bag quandary. I was planning on bringing the usual heavy
load of travel electronics, along with a Fuji laptop and my new (and as yet
mostly unconfigured) DualCor cPC. As I started gathering all of my gear
together, it was quickly becoming obvious that my regular bag was not going to
comfortably handle the oversized load.

Now here’s the thing, the Aeronaut is not billed as
being a gear bag or a laptop bag. But I could tell by the website’s
description and some of the available optional items that the bag could likely
be configured to be just what I needed.
According to the Tom Bihn site,
"the Aeronaut is hard to categorize: Is it soft luggage? A
duffel bag? Or a backpack? The Aeronaut is all of the above. It takes the best
of all of those bags and combines them into what may be the most versatile
travel bag yet."

Available in Black, Steel, Crimson, Grape, or Hunter, the Aeronaut measures a
generous 22" wide x 14" tall x 9" deep. Empty, the bag
weighs 2.71 lbs, and has a volume of  2700 cubic inches. This is the
largest legal sized carry on for most US airlines, meeting the sum of 45"; a

handy list of most airlines’ carry on limits may be found here
. Keep in mind
that after the latest latest terrorist scare last week, some non-US airlines are
not allowing passengers with any size carry on bags.

As with every other Tom Bihn bag, only the highest
quality materials have been used. The Aeronaut is composed of 1050 Ballistic
nylon, and its interior is lined in 200 denier nylon "with a Dyeema (like
Spectra) ripstop."

The substantial straps which compose the top handles
are made of a tightly woven nylon webbing, similar to an automobile’s seat belt
– though not as slick. The padded handle that wraps the two straps to form a
comfortable grip can be unsnapped; the wrapping portion is securely sewn to the
rear strap for immediate retrieval when the straps need to be joined together

Those D-ring hooks seen in the following picture are
not heavy duty plastic as one might expect; they are solid steel and are made to
accept either of the optional shoulder straps, which I will cover further in the

The only branding present on the bag is the iconic Tom
Bihn Portable Culture fabric label sewn to the lower right front.

Zooming in on those zippers reveals that they are
YKK, the best in the

Not immediately evident – until closer examination – is
that the decorative contrasting black trim following all of the zipper tracks is
actually the YKK Uretek "splash-proof" zippers themselves. This design keeps
water from easily entering the bag through what would normally be porous cloth
on either side of a typical zipper’s teeth.

Each of the bag’s three main compartments have double zippers with easily
grasped 1" long metal zipper pulls. Each zipper pull has a 1/4" hole, through
which a  lock can be attached. Each side of the bag as a built-in 7" long x
1" wide reinforced handle which allows the bag to be grabbed when it is sitting
on end.

The right side of the bag has a very handy zippered pocket measuring
approximately 7" wide x 13" tall. Built into the top of the pocket is a
removable snap lanyard which can be attached to keys or one of the smaller sized

Organizer Pouches
sold on the site.

The back of the Aeronaut has an arched zipper concealing what looks to be yet
another handy pocket…

But instead it is actually the cover for the backpack harness system. Hidden
inside the pocket are two padded adjustable shoulder straps.

The ends of the straps have heavy duty plastic clips which snap into their
hidden receivers built into the fold at the base of the bag.

Once the shoulder straps have been snapped, the Aeronaut becomes the ultimate
quickie backpack – ready for a hike from the airport to the cab line, from one
hotel to the next, or wherever the wearer needs to go.

There is even a handy strap handle built into what is now essentially the top
of the backpack.

There are two versions of the Aeronaut, both exactly the same in every aspect
but one – their straps. The Standard Aeronaut straps are modified to fit people
that are around 5’8" and above, or those with larger frames. The Aeronaut
Breve’s straps will better fit those that are under 5’8", or those that have a
smaller frame. Here is Steve wearing my Breve. He said it was pretty comfortable
and liked that the backpack option was available for times when his hands were

Here is a shot of it on his back.

That pretty much covers the bag’s exterior – now let’s take a look at what’s

Both the right and left sides of the bag unzip to reveal an open compartment
measuring approximately 14" tall x 9" wide x 3" deep. The zipper unzips along
the top and almost all the way down the front of the compartment offering easy
access without the type opening that would encourage everything to spill out.

Both the larger sides of the compartment are lined in the
200 denier ripstop nylon. According to the Tom Bihn site,
these end pockets can easily accommodate size 12
running shoes, so now maybe you can take all the shoes you need with you.
The end pockets also are great for segregating the clean from the un-clean, or
perhaps socks and underwear from everything else."

The main interior compartment is accessed through the large U-shaped flap.
This compartment measures approximately 17" wide x 14" tall x 9" deep. A 10"
wide x 11" long zippered mesh pocket is built into the compartment’s flap.

Inside this cavernous compartment are four snaps which are helping to anchor
the side walls.

The Aeronaut Maximum Carry On Bag retails for $175.00

Here is where things get interesting. Made to perfectly compliment the
Aeronaut are four different types of

Packing Cubes
which are available in several configurations, and all are
looped for hanging.

This is the small all mesh pocket, which is perfect for storing folded socks,
underwear and other unmentionables. Four of these can be stacked "like bricks"
inside the main compartment of the bag, or two can be stacked on top of the
large bag.

This is the end pocket which fits perfectly inside one of the outer Aeronaut
pockets. Four of these can also be used inside the main compartment of the bag,
stacked "like books on a shelf."

I found that this cube was perfect for holding all of my electrical cables

This is the Large cube; its rear is made of the ripstop material and its
front is mesh. Two of these will fit in the main compartment of the bag.

Packing Cubes range in price from $15 to $18 each

Another possible configuration is to take one Packing Cube and use it in
conjunction with a
Size 5 Horizontal Brain Cell

This protective case cocoons the packed laptop with 8mm
of thick padding and a design which suspends the laptop in a "4mm hard
corrugated plastic insert that protects from the front, back, and bottom. The
sides are protected by dense cross-linked closed-cell polyethylene foam."

The Horizontal Brain
Cell retails for $50.00

A big bag needs a substantial shoulder strap, and Tom Bihn offers two styles.
The first is the

Absolute Shoulder Strap
, which is my favorite. This strap features a
neoprene pad with a stretchy backing and it is specifically made for heavy
loads. Wearing it on my shoulder makes even a totally packed bag feel
manageable; the strap is so wide and springy that it never feels like it is
digging into my shoulder.

The clips which attach to the bag are heavy steel with a secure snap lock.

The Absolute Shoulder Strap retails for $25.00

The second option is the

TerraGrip Shoulder Strap
, which according to the site, is "the only strap
we’ve come across that won’t slip off your shoulder. The TerraGrip is also an
excellent strap to use with our maximum carry on bag, the
Aeronaut. The
TerraGrip Strap is made with state-of-the-art soy-based soft-touch polymer
materials. It will remain completely flexible to -40 F and is U.V. stabilized
(no fading or cracking).

However, "Please note that the TerraGrip Strap is built
for grip more than for comfort. We recommend it for loads under 16lbs (7kg). For
heavier loads, the
Absolute Shoulder Strap
may be a more comfortable option."

Here is a picture of the wide rubber grip which composes
the TerraGrip shoulder pad.

Once again a steel slip is used with a locking spring bar.

The TerraGrip Shoulder Strap retails for $18.00

I used the bag as a carry on for our trip, and I found
that it easily fit under the seat of both our smaller commuter jet and the
larger cross country airplane. Even though I had it loaded down with electronics
on the trip to California, there was still plenty of room left to pack souvenirs
and a couple loaves of Boudin Bakery

Chocolate Raisen Baguettes
, which I brought home and used to make the most
delicious Bread Pudding ever

The Aeronaut is a big bag, and it holds a lot of things. But it is not
hard to handle, and it is not so large that it becomes a burden while traveling.
If anything, it makes travel easier because depending upon how efficiently one
packs, it may be the only bag that is needed.

The beauty of the Aeronaut is that it can be configured to work in whatever
way the owner needs. If it is needed as a piece of traditional luggage with
clothing and shoes stored in its compartments, then it can be that; if it is
called upon to hold a plethora of electronics along with other packed items, it
will adapt. This bag can be personalized and customized to be exactly what the
owner wants – even if the owner’s needs change upon a whim. The Aeronaut, in
combination with its packing cubes and the other Tom Bihn accessories, is the
ideal travel bag for anyone that wants a quality piece of luggage that will
adapt to their travel needs.

Aeronaut FAQ
Tom Bihn Guarantee