Dock Your MacBook with Henge Docks

Henge Docks may be a name you aren’t yet familiar with, but if you’re a MacBook owner then you may want to get to know this company a little better.  Henge Docks makes docking stations for the full line of Apple notebooks, including the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, and all sizes of each.  Since Apple doesn’t provide built-in docking capability it took a third-party company to come up with unique way of getting around that limitation.

Henge Docks was recently at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas to demonstrate their MacBook docking station and GNC caught up with them to get a look at how their system works.  You can see it in action in the video below, including the brand new MacBook Air dock which was shown for the first time at CES, and a few other cool new products in their line.  The line of docks range in price from $50-75 and you can check them out at Henge Docks.

Interview by Steve Lee of Netcast Studio.

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Is Snow Leopard The New XP?

Like a lot of people, I purchased the Lion upgrade on the first day of availability from the Apple App store.

I upgraded two late-model Mac Minis along with an older 17” MacBook Pro. The Lion upgrade solved a freezing problem on the Mac Mini I use as an HD-DVR. However, it created a number of serious problems on the MacBook Pro – Lion would not work with my Verizon USB aircard, it would not back up to my HP Windows Home Server, and it would not work properly with the Ubercaster podcast recording application.

After living with these Lion-induced problems for more than a month on the MacBook Pro, I downgraded it back to a prior (and fully functional) Snow Leopard backup image. Everything is now back to normal, with everything once again functioning the way it should.

My MacBook Pro is no slouch, yet it seemed a bit sluggish running Lion compared to Snow Leopard.

If you have a Mac that’s more than a couple of years old, and/or you are running a variety of software and hardware that Lion likely won’t support and/or that may never be updated to run properly on Lion, I would strongly suggest skipping the Lion upgrade.

I found the Lion interface changes mostly annoying. On a computer (as opposed to an iPod), I prefer normal scroll bars. In Lion you can turn the scroll bars so that they remain on, but they are thin little gray lines that I have a hard time seeing and grabbing with the mouse. I don’t like the changes Apple made to the Finder in Lion, nor do I like the changes they made to the Spotlight Search functionality. I found the changes to the Mail program to be of dubious value, as well as the cosmetic changes to the Address Book adding no functionality.

Snow Leopard runs perfectly well and just might be the new XP.

Panasonic Expands 3D Camera Line with Lumix FZ150, HDC-Z10000

Panasonic 3D cameras

Panasonic 3D cameras

Last Friday, Panasonic introduced the LUMIX FZ150 Digital camera. It is part of their 3D camera line as a digital point-and-shoot. With a 24x Optical zoom and 25mm Ultra Wide-Amgle Leica lens, the 12.1 megapixel MOS sensor camera can also shoot HD video (1920 x 1080 60p).

“Panasonic continues to strive to meet the photography demands of its consumers by providing unique features and advanced technology in all our LUMIX digital cameras,” said Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

Panasonic Lumix FZ150

Their adding to the line of Pro handheld cameras, too. A prototype of a future Lumix  camera (yet to be named) was displayed at IFA 2011. The video camera can shoot in 2D and 3D, and has two – 4x optical zoom lenses. Video is recorded in the AVCHD format.

Panasonic also announced their HDC-Z10000 camera, another 2D/3D camcorder with low-light and macro shooting ability. You will be able to record close in low light, thanks to the f/1.5 lens and focus as close at 17.8 inches. The Z10000 has a 10x zoom for 3D and 12x for 2D. It contains a dual 3MOS sensor  (each with 6.57 MP resolution).

Blue Microphones Announces Yeti Pro & Mikey For Flip HD

John Maier from Blue Microphones (www.bluemic.com) introduces the Yeti Pro USB 24-bit 92k microphone, which retails for $249. Maier also introduces a Mikey model that works with current Flip camera models that are equipped with a Flip Port. The new Mikey Flip product should be available by Spring 2011 and will retail for $69 dollars. The Mikey flip brings some needed audio improvement to the flip video camera and I really look forward to it’s availability.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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Becoming More Familiar With Android

I’ve been living with my Sprint HTC Evo phone for a while now, and I am still learning some interesting things about Android – at least the HTC/Sprint version.

Overall I’m still extremely pleased with the Evo. This is still one of the coolest gadgets I’ve ever come across.

I was having a bit of a problem with stability. Sometimes the phone would reboot for no apparent reason, usually after a few hours of leaving the WiFi hotspot feature turned on. One time it rebooted for no apparent reason while I was in the middle of a call.

I started experimenting with a free app called Advanced Killer Pro. I started looking through the list of running processes, and I was surprised to find quite a number of processes tied to installed programs I have never ran, many of which came preinstalled on the phone.

So, I simply started going through the list and killing various processes that I wasn’t using. That really did the trick – Android has been rock-solid since then and at this point a few days have passed since the last reboot. In the interim I’ve been making heavy use of the phone and the WiFi hotspot feature.

To be fair to HTC and Sprint, there is an available system update that I’ve been putting off installing that might fix some of these issues. Initially when this update came out there were many reports of bricked Evo’s, and even though HTC has since come out with an updated version of the offending system update, I am leery of installing it.

What if the update hopelessly bricked my phone? Evo’s are very difficult to get right now. Most Sprint dealers are waiting for new stock, and most of that stock is probably already sold to waiting customers. Why take the chance?

Over the years of my geekdom, I’ve had my share of updates gone wrong, bricking a few devices such as motherboards, mp3 players and aircards, not to mention countless Windows updates that have caused serious heartburn.

So, in the meantime I’m likely going to continue to wait for a while until Evo’s become a bit more plentiful before I run the system update. I might even wait for the 2.2 “Froyo” update or even beyond. Killing unused processes makes the phone super stable and everything is working perfectly, so the old adage “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” seems like good advice to follow for the moment.

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?

Does The Cloud Have A Dark Side?For some time we’ve been hearing about the virtues of cloud-based computing.

Certain functions seem to lend themselves to the cloud. Online word processing, spreadsheets, etc. can seem to make sense in some situations, such as collaborating with others.

In everyday use scenarios, does the cloud really make sense in more traditional private computer-use situations? I contend that it does not.

Right now I’m typing this into Microsoft Word on my MacBook Pro. At the moment I have rather lousy Sprint and Verizon connectivity, even though 12 hours ago at this very same location I had really good connectivity from both. The only thing that changed is the time of day. If I was currently limited to using Google Docs chances are I would be unable to write this. Network demand constantly fluctuates depending on the time of day and location.

Is there enough bandwidth available? With the tsunami of smartphones that are on the immediate horizon, will the carriers be able to keep up with the average five-fold bandwidth demand increase that the average smartphone user pulls from the network? Can carriers keep up with a smartphone-saturated public all trying to pull down data at the same time?

However, for the sake of argument let’s say that mobile Internet connectivity isn’t an issue.

What if the Internet is turned off due to a declared cyber attack and all of your documents are online? What good would the network appliance approach to computing be then?

Can e-books be revised after the fact? If government can simply decide to turn off the Internet, then it’s not that much of a leap to imagine laws and regulations being passed banning certain types of blogs or even books that have been deemed dangerous or seditious. There have already been books sold such as “1984” by Amazon that were deleted from Kindles after the fact by Amazon when it was determined that Amazon didn’t have the legal right to sell it in e-book form. What if instead of banning books, they were simply rewritten to remove the offending parts? What’s to stop instant revision of e-books that have been declared dangerous?

The Real Mac Pros

Apple ProHave you ever wondered how many of the worlds greatest special effects for major motion pictures are created? How about what kind of computing horse power is required to decode the human genome, or even what kind of technology is in the backpack of the world best photographers.

There’s a portion of the Apple site that you might not be familiar with where the rubber meets the road as far as how the jobs really get done and Apple’s role in that work. You can check out the Apple Pro website and learn about design, film & video, music & audio, photo and science. The site contains these wonder mini-profiles of specific projects in the various categories. When I need a source of inspiration, I head over here to see how my cohorts in the industry make their magic happen.