good, not quite great

I accidentally dropped and broke my car mp3 player, so had to come up with another music solution. I caved and bought an iTrip for my iPod Nano. It sounds pretty good.

What’s good about it is that it allows you to charge your iPod from a standard USB Mini-B. What’s not so good is that it doesn’t have full USB pass-through, so you can’t sync your iPod, and have to stick with that stupid dock cable.

(and don’t get me started on the really annoying connector on my work cell phone …)

canadian compact car

This was advertised in the Globe & Mail on the day I was born:
viva-globe-1969
My mum bought a second-hand Viva estate in 1975. We thought it was huge.

The image is via the archive at Toronto Public Library. More cool stuff there than ever. (via)

half-assed, but endearing


So I bought the Kross Bluetooth Hands Free Cell Phone Car Kit with FM Transmitter. It has its good points, but it has some quirks and serious shortcomings.

Here’s what’s good:

  • It’s cheap (< $40)
  • It provides in-car Bluetooth speakerphone
  • It plays MP3s from SD card, USB stick, or an line level source.

Here’s what’s not so good:

  • Playback quality is limited to finding an open FM frequency, which is hard in the GTA
  • The transmitter is not very powerful, so nearby vehicles can swamp your signal (or, if you want to call it a feature, it’s a “random positional mashup”)
  • The phone mic is a tiny port on the unit, so sometimes the caller can’t hear you too well
  • You need to have your radio on to answer your phone
  • The USB port doesn’t provide enough charging current for a phone or GPS
  • The remote isn’t very good
  • Voice dialling doesn’t seem to work with my Blackberry
  • The MP3 playback function usually remembers where you were when you start the car, but sometimes forgets, and needs the card ejected and reinserted
  • It doesn’t know about ID3 tags
  • Weirdest of all, it plays back files in the strict order they were written to the directory – not ordered by file name. It seems that, under Microsoft operating systems, files are copied in name order, but under Unix, they are (winging it here) copied by inode. Using tar on a Mac or Linux is the way to go, as it writes in name order.

The Kross S-150 Manual (scanned PDF) is pretty terse, and has been of limited use to me. For all its faults, it’s kind of useful, but if I had a USB-capable stereo, I wouldn’t need this.

Kross Bluetooth Hands Free Cell Phone Car Kit with FM Transmitter .

Kross Bluetooth Hands Free Cell Phone Car Kit with FM Transmitter – is this thing too cheap to be any use? I think its part number is BHK-204. I’ve found nothing about it on the web.

common as muck

Around Toronto today, I saw three Lamborghinis and five Ferraris. I think I saw fewer SmartCars, so as usual, smarts are in shorter supply than muscle.

no hybrids for canada

I was looking to perhaps rent a hybrid for a longish business trip. My company’s preferred supplier, National, doesn’t do them in Canada, but does in the US:

no hybrids for canada

Why do they get them, and we don’t? Don’t say there’s no demand; I‘d rent one …

mystery profile

On a windowsill towards the rear of TTC streetcar #4106, there is a paint chip in exactly the profile of Afrika Bambaataa circa ‘Planet Rock’. You may begin to worship …

The Apples in Stereo – Lee’s Palace, Toronto – 20 February 2007

In haste: The Apples in Stereo – Lee’s Palace, Toronto – 20 February 2007
(now updated to include better MP3s)

  1. (intro)
  2. Go
  3. Please
  4. Can You Feel It?
  5. The Rainbow
  6. Energy
  7. Strawberryfire
  8. Radiation
  9. Do You Understand?
  10. Open Eyes
  11. I Can’t Believe
  12. (apples in stereo mini-theme)
  13. Skyway
  14. (mini theme/tuning)
  15. Motorcar
  16. Tin Pan Alley
  17. Sun Is Out
  18. Same Old Drag
  19. (theme interlude)
  20. What’s the #?
  21. Ruby
  22. (encore intro)
  23. Play Tough
  24. Baroque

when the black flower starts to vibrate, run away from the scary skull with your pet arrow

when the black flower starts to vibrate, run away from the scary skull with your pet arrow

(actually, it’s the IAEA’s New Symbol Launched to Warn Public About Radiation Dangers.)

All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

a bit better than before

I just ran the fuel numbers for our recent grand trip to Missouri. For 4380km in a Honda Civic DX, we used about 292 litres of fuel. That works out to be 6.7l/100km (or 42.3 / 35.3 UK / US mpg). That’s not quite as good as I’d hoped; I’ll put it down to driving a little fast on very chunky snow tyres.

At least it’s better than last time

iCaved

Yeah, I caved in and bought a 2GB iPod Nano at the weekend. I had various gift cards and cheques come in, so…

It’s a lot better than the Shuffle was. I still don’t particularly like being tethered to iTunes, but I can live with it.

rip the carpet up off the floor

It’s moving day. We’re moving the office from North York to downtown. Very downtown, in fact; 200 University, almost my old Oanda stamping ground.

In celebration of leaving Vic Park & Sheppard, I guess I really must have one last burger from Johnny’s…

tired

I’m hanging out near Warden and Danforth while I get snow tyres (I still can’t kick that spelling) fitted. It irks me that I could buy a nice fixie for the cost of these wheels, but that’s owning a car for you.