Category Archives: Info

Swedish Man Builds Whimsical Flying Machine

Borg MachineWho hasn’t dreamed of building their very own flying machine? Imagine being able to climb aboard a ship you put together with your own two hands and then piloting that contraption into the deep blue yonder, looking for adventure!

I’m not sure if that was exactly the inspiration for Swedish engineer Axel Borg when he began building his chAIR multi-rotor flying craft. But, he was successful in designing and constructing his own DIY flying machine. Borg took the chAIR craft on its maiden flight last month. He kept the contraption relatively low to the ground, but chAIR turned out to be pretty stable, and may be capable of higher reaches.

It’s fair to describe the chAIR craft as a whimsical thing. If it weren’t for the craft’s very loud set of rotors that allow chAIR to take flight, it seems like something that could’ve fallen out of a Miyazaki film.

chAIR’s first flight lasted eight minutes, which used 57% of the craft’s battery power. So, it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing swarms of chAIRs taking to the sky in place of other transportation options. Regardless, the craft is a true achievement in DIY engineering.

chAIR’s designer, Axel Borg, isn’t a novice to this kind of endeavor. According to his website, he’s already produced ebooks on projects like building an electric skateboard or creating a 3-D printed jet engine.

Check out Borg’s YouTube channel for more videos of the chAIR as well as Borg’s other projects.

Plex Adds Timeline View for Photos

Plex logoDigital photos are ubiquitous in modern life. Nearly everyone is walking around at all times with at least one device that contains a built-in camera. That makes it easy to capture everything from big events to everyday life moments, and preserve those memories forever. But this ability to easily take and save pictures does have its drawbacks. The biggest one of them being the avalanche of content that users have to navigate thru when they want to find a specific photo.

Software developers have done a lot of work in recent years to make it easier for users to find their photos. One such developer is media-center creators Plex, who recently added a Timeline View to the photo viewer built into its apps:

Say goodbye to searching through folders upon folders to find that photo you are looking for! Chronological clusters make it easier than ever to see all your precious memories in the order that they happened. Scroll quickly through your whole photo collection, watching time go by as quickly or slowly as your fingers decide in our beautiful mosaic layout.

This new feature from Plex will soon be available to all users. For now, it’s available on a preview basis for users who are subscribed to the Plex Pass premium service.

Feedly Introduces Boards, Notes, Highlights

RSS aggregation service Feedly has been working hard to expand its service offerings to make it more of a valuable tool to businesses and power users. Feedly recently entered the next phase of its development with the release of its new Boards, Notes, and Highlights features:

Whatever your motivation, the power of information lies in your ability to harness it. Today we are sharing three new features we hope will make your Feedly experience even better: Boards, notes, and highlights.

As you save more stories, your Boards become libraries of the most important stories you find on Feedly. Everyone can create new Personal Boards. Feedly Teams users will see separate lists in the left navigation for Personal and Team Boards.

Feedly goes on to describe this new feature as:

  • Boards: For saving and organizing stories. All Feedly plans (Basic, Pro, and Teams) can save stories. When it comes to naming your Boards, try to keep a singular focus. This will keep you organized by your specific projects, clients, brands you monitor, or other important tasks.
  • Notes/Highlights: Feedly Pro and Teams users can enrich stories using notes and highlights. If you are part of a Feedly Teams plan, your teammates will be able to read your notes and add their own. Highlight the most important passages to make it easy for your colleagues and other executives to scan through stories. Since stories saved to Boards never expire, you’ll be able to revisit these notes and highlights in the future.

Some of these new tools from Feedly are available to users of Feedly’s free-service plan. More features become available with Feedly’s different paid-service plans. For more information, click the link at the top of this article.

Dave Winer Releases Electric River RSS Aggregator

Electric RiverDave Winer recently announced the release of the Electric River desktop RSS aggregator for Mac. Electric River was created within the Electron programming language and it uses elements from the open source River5 project.

The Electric River app is a friendly RSS aggregator currently available as a downloadable Mac app (Winer hopes Linux and Windows versions of Electric River will be released soon). More on Electric River from Winer’s blog:

There’s a lot of power in there — it is the full unmodified River5 from the GitHub site. When you lift the hood there’s your Lists folder, Data folder, Rivers folder, all the pieces are there, and all the generality. While we have a UI for editing one list, you can have as many lists as you like.

There will also be a new release of River5 coming with this, with the addition of three new callbacks that allow us to do things a bit more efficiently because the reading and configuring app is running in the same process as the server.

I approached this project once before, a couple of years ago, but I didn’t have enough experience with Electron, Node and JavaScript to trust the result. Now I am reasonably confident that this will work.

I downloaded and tested Electric River on my iMac. The app comes preloaded with a selection of news sources, including NPR, New York Times, Laughing Squid, and more. The user interface (see image above) is dead simple to use, with immediately recognizable controls for adding and removing feeds.

Clicking the Docs tab at the top of the Electric River interface provides quick access to the files that come with the download, for those who want to manipulate the contents of their RSS aggregation at a more advanced level.

Electric River for Mac is available as a free download.

Modern Retro

plastic seat coversHaving been born in 1955 I grew up through the plastic craze of the 1960’s. Plastic was new and fascinating. Plastic designer products of the 1960’s helped us believe that we were living in the future.

And so that brings us to products such as the Fingerhut plastic seat covers as well as plastic furniture covers. At the height of the plastic craze, it was popular to cover car seats with mail ordered plastic seat covers. They were constructed of clear plastic, and came in two designs – flat or a sort of raised diamond plate bubble design. For whatever reason, the diamond plate bubble design seemed to be the most popular, and that is what my parents had.

sofa-plastic-coverWhen my younger brothers and I would sleep while riding in the car with our faces lying against the seat, we would wake up, with the imprint of the diamond plate pattern on the sides of our faces. The plastic seat covers grew very hot and pliable in the summer and cold and stiff in the winter. Inevitably the plastic would become brittle, crack and tear at certain stress points, often remaining partially intact.

At the very height of the plastic craze some people also covered living room furniture with form fitting clear plastic covers. Somehow some people were convinced that the plastic cover would prevent the new furniture from becoming worn out, despite the fact that the plastic was cold and uninviting.

plastic1It’s a wonder that this plastic craze didn’t result in plastic cosmetics to help “protect” skin. I can imagine children with shining plastic covered faces.

Plastic is certainly still around, though the craze has long since dissipated. Plastic has faded into the background of our consumer lives, quietly weaved into the majority of products around us.

Fortunately the plastic seat cover idea went away. However, like a reconstituted T-2 Terminator the plastic cover is back and lives on department store shelves near you.

plastic screen protectorThe modern idea of plastic covers lurks in the 21st century in the form of useless plastic screen protectors for mobile devices. Screen protectors are a 1960’s fantastic plastic product just waiting to be applied to the screens of beloved mobile devices. And just like those plastic seat covers of the 1960’s, plastic screen protectors are of dubious value.

Ten Must Have Applications for a Mac

Macbook Air I have just received my new 11 inch Macbook Air with 8GB of memory, 1.3 GHz Intel Core iS and 250 GB of storage. I have only had it for a day now and so I have been spending most of my time getting it set up the way I want. This will be my secondary machine as I already have a Mac Mini as my main machine. I was therefore setting it up as a new machine. One of my primary goals while setting the machine up was to be selective when adding applications to it. These are the ten applications that I chose to add at this time.

  1. Dropbox
  2. 1password
  3. Omnifocus
  4. Nvalt
  5. Textexpander
  6. Hazel
  7. Quicksilver, or Alfred
  8. Evernote
  9. Fantastical
  10. MultiMarkdown Composer

The following is why I chose these ten applications. The first application I would install on any computer is Dropbox. Many of the applications I use store their data in Dropbox. The next application I would install is 1password. I have 1password installed on all my computers and it is great for generating and securely storing passwords, notes, credit card, and other personal information. The third application I would install would Omnifocus.  It is currently my task management or GTD application of choice . I don’t know about you but I am constantly coming up with idea that I need to write down quickly before I forget them. I use Nvalt for this purpose it is both simple and powerful at the same time. It allows me to write thoughts down quickly and easily search for them later. If you are constantly writing the same thing, over and over again then TextExpander will become your best friend. Once you create a snippet and add it to TextExpander you can invoke that snippet at anytime with a simple keyboard shortcut. I try to keep my files organized and I like a clean desktop.  However like most people when I find something I want to keep, I have a tendency to throw it on to the Desktop. Hazel is the solution to this problem. You can set Hazel up to automatically move files or folders from one location to another. For example I have Hazel set up to move any image file from my desktop to a folder on Dropbox an hour after it was added. I am a big believer in app launchers such as Alfred or Quicksilver. Currently I am using Alfred on my main machine, but am trying out the new version of Quicksilver on my Macbook Air. Both of these applications can be used to quickly launch any application, but they can be customized to do so much more. I use Evernote as my catch-all for receipts, emails and other things I want to save and access everywhere. Fantastical allows me to quickly enter an event without having to open up iCal. Finally I wanted a text editor that works with MultiMarkdown and MultiMarkdown Composer fills that niche.

These are the ten applications that I installed automatically on my new Macbook Air. If you just brought a new Mac and you could only install ten new applications, what would they be?

Dynamics ePlates: Credit Card for Today’s World

Dynamics Dynamics Inc has developed cards for Visa that have chips embedded into them. The battery inside the card will last at least four years. There is a user interface including buttons and a magnetic stripe that changes so user can make different choices at the point of sale.  The user can easily change the awards available on the cards through the website. There are currently fifty different award partners that the card can be connected to. You also receive the rewards a lot faster than you do with a normal card because of the system they have establish. These cards are more secure than normal cards due to the fact that the information is stored in an embedded processor on the card

Dynamics Inc is also developing a card that has security code embedded in it. You have to punch in the code for the card to become active. When the right code is punched in the card number appears and the magnetic stripe becomes active After a period of time the number disappears and stripe erases. F’or further information and sign up for a card go to Dynamics Inc website or the UMB Bank website.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Daniel J Lewis of the The Network and the Audacity to Podcast

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Ustream Producer Pro vs. Livestream Producer

I recently compared Ustream Watershed to Livestream Producer. In addition to Watershed, Ustream also has an offer called Ustream Producer Pro. How does it compare to Livestream Producer? Here is the information you will need to see the similarities, and the differences, between the two.


Ustream Producer Pro : There are three different prices, depending on which plan you want.

The Starter is $99/month. This gives you 100 viewer hours. If you go over, you will be charged $0.50 per additional viewer hour.

The Standard is $499/month. This gives you 4,000 viewer hours. If you go over, you will be charged $0.25 per additional viewer hour.

The Enterprise is $999/month. This gives you 9,000 viewer hours. If you go over, you will be charged $0.20 per additional viewer hour.

A viewer hour is the cumulative amount of time an audience watches your stream. The example they give is if 10 people watch your stream for 1/2 hour, that would be 5 hours of cumulative view-time. It would equal 5 viewer hours.

Livestream Producer: $45.00/month – unlimited bandwith. No overages, ever.

Is it embeddable?

Ustream Producer Pro: The Starter does not include embedding. Both the Standard and the Enterprise allow for embedding. Broadcasters who purchase the Enterprise package will be able to remove their content from the Ustream site by hiding their live channel pages.

Livestream Producer: Not currently available

Analytics and APIs?

Ustream Producer Pro: As far as I can tell, it is not currently available.

Livestream Producer: Not currently available

Storing Recorded Video on their site

Ustream Producer Pro: The Starter has 50 GB of storage. If you want more, it will cost $0.50/GB.
The Standard has 500 GB. If you want more, it will cost $0.20/GB.
The Enterprise has 1,000 GB. If you want more, it will cost $0.12/GB.

Livestream Producer: Bandwith and video storage on the New Livestream platform is unlimited for the life of your plan.

Is it ad free?Ustream Producer Pro: All Ustream Pro Broadcasting packages remove all in-video ads, as well as display ads on your channel page. Ads are even removed from embedded players and recorded content.

Livestream Producer: Yes. You can do live streaming without any advertising.

Integration with social media

Ustream Producer Pro: It has a “widget” framework that will allow you to integrate with outside services. Current extensions include: Facebook Fan Page “Like” Button, Twitter Follow Button, iTunes Promotion, Amazon Promotion, Thumbplay Ring Tones, and Custom Uploaded Banners. New services will be added in the coming months.

Livestream Producer: There is a New Livestream for Producers iPhone app which can be used for live encoding and real-time posting from your iPhone. Livestream Producer does integrate with Facebook. Users can “like” posts, comment on posts, and receive notifications of upcoming events.

$3 Dollar Tablet Stand

Ever wander into the iPad/tablet accessory isle at your local big box electronics store looking for an inexpensive stand for your iPad, Nook, Kindle, or other tablet/reader device? If so, you know these things have a tendency to be rather pricey and may not even do what you want them to.

I’ve got an inexpensive, very effective solution you may not have thought about. Make a trip to your local hobby store, a dollar store, or any store that sells nick-nack type items. What you are looking for are small easels either made of metal wire or even wooden ones with folding hinges. These can sell for as little as a $1 and up.

I purchased the pictured wire metal easel from my local Hobby Lobby store for $2.99 plus tax to hold my Barnes & Noble Nook – about $60 dollars or so less than I would have paid for a specialty tablet stand.

Save your money and have an effective solution all in one fell swoop.

Garmin DEZL 560LT Trucker’s GPS

GPS units have been around for several years and have made quite a heavy penetration into the automotive marketplace. It would be logical to assume a degree of maturity when it comes to GPS maps and operating system software on the units themselves. However, there is still quite a bit of room left for improvement.

GPS market saturation, combined with the sales of millions of Android and other smartphones that contain sophisticated GPS functionality have conspired to bite into the growth of stand-alone GPS unit sales, forcing a reduction in price along with a search for ways of adding value in order to justify and/or maintain higher price points. Thus, GPS manufacturers have created a market segment of specialty GPS units aimed specifically at truck drivers and the recreational vehicle market segments.

After trying and returning two faulty TomTom GO 2535M Live units, as well as trying and returning a Cobra 7750 Platinum trucker GPS unit, I’ve settled on a Garmin DEZL 560LT trucker GPS. The Garmin 560LT has a 5” pressure sensitive widescreen LCD display along with a number of features that attempt to tailor it toward commercial drivers.

From an operating system/software standpoint, the Garmin is solid. Also, the Garmin hardware build quality is quite good. The unit seems very solid and the pressure sensitive touchscreen works extremely well. The 5” widescreen LCD display is bright and colorful, remaining quite visible in bright daylight. It includes Bluetooth speaker/microphone functionality, along with the ability to display photos as well as function as a video display for a composite backup video camera.

Most of the trucker-specific features revolve around map and point-of-interest databases. As always, these databases continue to have holes in them. Although you can program in large/heavy vehicle types and sizes, the Garmin mapping software does not necessarily follow only truck routes when calculating routes. Garmin’s “out” on this point seems to be the fact that it makes a chime sound and pops up a specific on-screen icon when on a route that “truck accessibility information” is not known. When on secondary roads, this icon pops up a surprising amount of the time. It even pops up when driving on a fair number of freeway access ramps. This lack of “truck accessibility information” is quite perplexing, since the vast majority of these roads have been around for many, many years and therefore HAVE to be clearly well-known. The surprising thing is that these same roads that “truck accessibility information” isn’t available for have extensive speed limit information available. The Garmin unit is highly accurate in displaying the vast majority of speed limits on federal, state, and even on many county roads.

The other problem has to do with truck-specific point-of-interest databases that are included in the unit. These include truck stops, truck washes, truck repair shops, etc. Some of these facilities show up in the database, and some don’t. It can be quite maddening. Also another problem that has long plagued point-of-interest databases is inconsistent naming conventions. “T/A Truck Stop” may sometimes be entered into the database that way, or it might be “TA Truck Stop” or “TA Truckstop” or “TA Travel Plaza” or “Travel Centers of America”, etc., etc., etc. – you get the picture. When one tries to do a text search for the name of any business this inconsistency will almost immediately rear its ugly head.

Although the GPS certainly makes many things easier to find, it is not anywhere near a 100% foolproof solution. I frequently find myself having to search Google on my Android phone, which carries with it its own set of problems. Search Google for “truck wash” along with the name of a city and state and you are almost certainly going to come up with a bunch of listings for local car washes that have nothing whatsoever to do with offering washing services (specifically, refrigerated trailer wash-out services) for large commercial vehicles.

I like the Garmin DEZL 560LT and plan on keeping it. It’s a good hardware/software platform, and hopefully Garmin will continue to develop the updatable databases so that future updates contain more complete information.

My idea of the ideal trucker GPS would include the full-time data connection and “HD Traffic” of the TomTom GO Live, the solid, easy-to-use design of the Garmin, much more accurate truck-specific information concerning secondary roads, along with much better, more consistent point-of-interest information.