Tech Support: June 2004

Ask a Geek, The Tip Sheet, and Your Gear

ATTENTION H2.0 READERS:

This is your page, full of the feedback we get from you at h20@time4.com and through the forums.

Ask a Geek is your chance to pick the brains of The Geek Chorus–H2.0’s panel of advisers and tech wizards.

The Tip Sheet is a sampling of your best tips, tricks and hacks.

Your Gear features the most drool-worthy gadget you’ve bought lately (this month, we’re showing off one of the cool case mods you sent us).

Finally, This is Broken gives you one of our favorites from Mark Hurst’s site thisisbroken.com.

ASK A GEEK: Phillip Torrone

Q: What are RSS feeds and why would I use them?

–Joel Waller, Austin, Minn.

A: If, like me, you obsessively comb dozens of news sites and blogs to get your daily info fix, RSS is a godsend. Instead of actually visiting each site, waiting for your browser to load pages and slogging through ads and graphics, you can breeze through the latest content from all your favorite sites in one text-only window.

Here’s how it works: Download a free RSS reader (try newsgator.com for PC or ranchero.com/software/net newswire for Macs), and subscribe to a site’s feed (RSS is a function of XML, so look for a button on the site that says either “RSS” or “XML”). Then open your reader to get the most recent headlines and story summaries from any site you’ve subscribed to. Want to read the full text? Just click it and your browser opens to that page. You can even send RSS feeds to your phone or PDA to read them on the go.

Phillip Torrone is H2.0’s all-purpose tech-DIY geek, with credentials that include a blogging Aibo, a portable geek gym and a full-time gig as director of product development for Fallon Worldwide. Follow Torrone’s latest obsessions at his site, flashenabled.com (RSS feed available), and meet the rest of The Geek Chorus.

THE TIP SHEET

Game Boy Cable Hack

The Game Boy Advance Link Cable shouldn’t connect to an old-school Game Boy without a special adaptor–both have six-pin connectors, but the GBA cable has a little nub that prevents it from plugging into the GB. Solution: Cut off the nub. Do it on both ends and you’ll have a universal link cable for all Game Boys.–Kyle Nelson, Missoula, Mont.

Cleaner Digital Audio

Sending digital audio straight from your computer to your stereo adds noise and distortion. Instead, route it through an external processor like Xitel’s $50 Hi-Fi Link. One end plugs into a USB port, the other into RCA jacks on your stereo, and it even comes with 30 feet of audio cable.–H2.0 Staff

Getting All the Ink Out

A “low ink” warning from your inkjet printer means the cartridge is 80 percent used. Keep it in till you see “empty”–at that point you’re down to 2 or 3 percent.–H2.0 Staff

YOUR GEAR

In response to our call for case mods in the March issue, Clint Mackay submitted his Think Tank: a custom-painted case inspired by a Harley-Davidson fuel tank. It packs a 2.8Ghz Pentium 4, 200GB hard drive, 6-in-1 card reader and AM/FM CD stereo that works even when the computer is off. Mackay now sells built-to-order models starting at $1,500, including monitor and printer.
See more at outoftheboxcomputers.com.

THIS IS BROKEN

When the iTunes music store censors go too far …

See more examples of things broken at thisisbroken.com.