A few tweaks can turn Microsoft's MP3 player into the device it was supposed to be
By John MahoneyPosted 03.27.2007 at 2:00 am 4 Comments
Until it went on sale last November, Microsoft's Zune was heralded as the first true iPod-killer. But with its overly aggressive copyright protection and the odd, self-imposed limits to its most innovative features (like built-in Wi-Fi), it has so far failed to make even a dent in the iPod's shiny white-and-chrome armor. It's likely the Zune will improve with version 2.0 and beyond, but until then, here are three easy Zune tune-ups to ease the pain of waiting for a better model.
How do I mount my new flatscreen HDTV on the wall? Can I permanently erase my name from the Web? How do I get "Big Pimpin'" as my ringtone for free?All good questions. And all are answered by the brightest tech minds we know in PopSci's monthly "Ask a Geek" feature. Today we bring you a roundup of our favorites, but we know there's more. Do you have a different answer to one of the questions posed to our chorus of geeks? Or maybe a question of your own you'd like to see answered? Sound off in the comments below. —John Mahoney
Even though I'm a pretty serious nerd, I've never really gotten into the whole "automate your PC and control it from everywhere" thing. I always assumed it was far more trouble to get working than it was worth. But today, a couple blog posts opened my eyes and made me realize that remotely controlling a Mac or PC can be quite simple. As easy as sending an e-mail, to be exact. Hey, I do that all the time!
If you're an OS X user, you're in luck, for hiding within your Applications folder is a powerful program called Automator. This oft-overlooked gem is able to string together a drag-and-drop, step-by-step list of actions for your computer to take (called a "workflow") and save them as a double-clickable application for running at any time. So, for instance, you could generate a simple Automator application that simply puts your computer to sleep. When teamed with a one-line AppleScript that surprisingly resembles actual English ("tell application "whateveryounamedyourapplication" to run"), Apple's Mail application can, in the process of filtering your messages, launch the Applescript when a message meeting certain criteria is received (i.e., one sent from my address with the subject line "go to sleep"). You're not just limited to putting your machine to sleep, though—Automator comes with a bevy of actions spanning most of OS X's core applications, and you can download even more (including the "Sleep" action) from Apple's Automator site.
On the PC side, Outlook is also capable of launching a program based on attributes from incoming messages, but creating custom apps from a list of automated tasks requires getting your hands a bit dirtier than on the Mac. A helpful guide can be found here. —John Mahoney
Link - Sleep Your Mac Via Email[via Lifehacker]
In an effort to reinforce the energy initiatives put forth in his State of the Union address last month, President Bush made a stop yesterday at a North Carolina lab where wood chips and grasses are used to produce ethanol. Now, we already told you how we feel about said initiatives, but no matter which side of the political coin you may be on, you have to love this photo.
Have a good weekend everyone—I'm off to get my official PopSci lab coat monogrammed.—John Mahoney
We've been excited about the Neo1973—the world's first fully open-source smartphone—since chatting with its creator, Sean Moss-Pultz, at CES. As the time to unleash the Neo into the wild draws ever closer, Sean was nice enough to stop by and show us how things are coming so far. Although the OpenMoko software still needs some work, the phone itself is in its final form, and quite a nice form at that. So if you're the type of person who could stare all day at a cellphone screen showing a stream of startup code and the ol' Linux penguin up at the top (a category I'm not afraid to pledge allegiance to as well), click on over to our photo gallery of a working Neo1973 captured in the wild. We'll keep you posted as this groundbreaking phone continues to mature. —John Mahoney
LG, the Korean consumer electronics giant, made a big splash early this CES with the unveiling of the Super Multi Blue player, capable of playing both of the warring high-def disc formats, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Teamed with the Chocolate music phone, the #1 CDMA handset in the U.S. and a solid line of HD TVs, LG has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. —John Mahoney
Take a quick tour of the booth below and click the individual images for captions.
Our first Wii didn't survive being cracked open for a photo shoot, so we went ahead and finished the job. See our full disassembly photos
By John MahoneyPosted 11.18.2006 at 5:04 pm 85 Comments
It is with a heavy heart that we bring you this special weekend report. When PopSci's Wii arrived last week, it didn't spend too much time in the box. Ripped open without any hesitation, our little Wii gave us a long Friday's worth of furious Wii Sports and Excite Truck action at PopSci HQ.
What immaculate timing. No less than 24 hours after I happened upon CoverFlow, Apple unveiled a new version of iTunes that incorporates, among other things, the exact same cover-browsing technology under the exact same name. And rather than being simply "inspired" by CoverFlow, it looks like Apple bought the technology outright. I don't know, though—iTunes 7 seems to be taking its sweet time downloading my missing art. And where are my Wikipedia links!? Maybe I'm missing something, but for now, I'm sticking with the original.
Other news from Mr. Jobs today included underwhelming iPod updates (although the tiny new clip-on Shuffle is pretty cool), an iTunes Movie Store, and a sneak peek at the long-rumored Apple set-top box, dubbed the iTV and available early next year. Is it just me, or are these Apple events getting a little eh. —John Mahoney
Is there anything Web 2.0 can't do? Earlier this week, the photo-sharing site Flickr rolled out a new feature called geotagging, letting users tag their photos with the location of where they were taken. This is done via a gorgeous AJAX-type interface that lets you grab sets of your photos and drag them onto a zoomable Yahoo map of the world, which automatically tags them with the exact location you drop them on.
And if that's not brilliant enough, the geotags have been folded seamlessly into Flickr's preexisting tag-based search. Want to see all the photos of graffiti in New York City? All the photos of sausage in Germany? All the photos of aurora borealis in North America? Just scroll the map to the part of the world you want to search, and type in a keyword. Done.
The applications of a huge community-based database of geotagged photos are virtually infinite. (Special emphasis on huge: Flickr has 228 million photos in its database with an additional million photos added daily, and 1.2 million photos were geotagged within the first 24 hours of the feature's launch—far exceeding Flickr's expectations.) Moving to a new neighborhood? Scout it out first on Flickr. Need a free illustrated travel guide to Romania? You got it. Plus, like, a million other uses that neither I nor anyone else has thought of...yet. Seriously, mind-boggling stuff. —John Mahoney
Lessig at Wikimania 2006. Photo by Gus Freedman.Homepage photo: Lessig.org
A few weeks ago I was in Boston for Wikimania 2006, the second annual conference where wiki-folk of all types come together to talk about whats new and exciting in the wiki-world. As you can imagine, it was a veritable Woodstock for the free culture movement—the ongoing mission to provide free and unrestricted access to precious informational commodities (including encyclopedias, textbooks and software) on the Internet.
One of the movements most noteworthy proponents is Lawrence Lessig, a professor of cyberlaw at Stanford University and the founder of the nonprofit organization Creative Commons. His speech at Wikimania was among the more inspiring calls to action I have ever witnessed [you can watch it on Google Video below]. Simply put, if youre reading this blog (or any blog, for that matter), you should know Lawrence
To that end, PopSci.com is giving you the chance to become better acquainted with one of the Internets greatest thinkers. Were sitting down with Lessig on Thursday, August 24, and would love to present him with questions from our readers. Add them in the comments section below, or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, August 23. Lessigs responses will be made available on PopSci.com next week. —John Mahoney
Lessigs speech at Wikimania 2006 (Google Video or MP3 audio).
Lawrence Lessig: Wikipedia