Apr 27, 2011

Apr - 13 2011 | By

Another SuperPad!

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Paul & Adam Brodel (of Smarter Broadband) did the broadcast from London; Glenn called in from Sacramento.

Red Laser for the iPad or iPhone is an app that lets you scan a product's barcode, using the camera, and find the best price. You can use it in stores that have a price match guaranty to get the best bargain. Note that the original iPad didn't have a camera, only the latest version does.

The bigger retailers have product models that differ slightly in their names. Costco might have an Office Jet 6300AE and Fry's might have an Office Jet 6300FE, for example. This makes it difficult to argue they're the same printer, for a price match guaranty, even though they are.


There are a lot of tablet computers, based on the Android operating system, coming on the market in competition with the iPad. Paul saw one called Superpad with a 10" display for $179. Among its features are HDMI output (for video), USB ports (you can hook up an external keyboard & mouse) and Wi-Fi. See the above link. Paul said he's heard that its gesture-based operating system is not as slick as the iPad's because the unit is a bit under powered — its processor runs at 1 gigaHertz.
However, Paul was impressed enough to order one.

Adam talked about his favorite apps. He likes Evernote for jotting down your thoughts. It runs on the PC, Android & iPhone. It also synchs back to a server. You can get it for free at evernote.com or pay to get more features.

Paul said the Apple iPad & iPhone run on proprietary hardware so the operating system can run only on those devices. But the Android operating system can be used in a range of hardware.
  Glenn jumped in to say, apps for Android can be specific to the type of device — e.g. apps with phone features won't work on a netbook, as he found out when he bought the Coby (mentioned here and here). Paul then said that Android version 3 will come in 2 flavors — one for cell phones and the other for devices that don't have a cell phone onboard.

Paul said he uses Cnet to read product reviews. Google the words: cnet superpad, to get reviews for it.
Also regarding SuperPad, Paul said it can be hacked to death by putting the Linux operating system on it.

Paul related the story of how the developers of the Blackberry, at the launch of the iPhone, wondered how it could run longer than half an hour. They got one & opened it up to find that it was mostly battery.

Glenn gave us an update on his project to take apart his iPhone 2G, mentioned in the last show. He had put it together wrong — cables he thought worked just by contact had to actually be plugged in. Doing so got his screen working.
The screen he bought for it has some bad pixels and Paul said that there's a little-know rating system for screens based on how many pixels are bad.
Glenn went on to say the capacitive touch screen still doesn't work and he'll be taking another look at that.
He said the got a 3GS iPhone and appreciates the faster speed. He intends to use the 2G during his international travels.

Paul told a story of when he lived in Japan and he had a colleague who's job was to order various chips from the U.S. and slice them very thinly in a device similar to a biologist's microtome. He would then take photos of the layers to document how the chip was made.

Continuing with his favorite apps, Adam mentioned Dropbox. On the PC you can have folders containing files you want to share. You can share them with other computers (and other users) or the iPad, etc. The folders automatically synch between the devices. The free version gives you 2 gigs of storage and you get extra storage when others share with you. Mobile platforms supported include iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad; that's in addition to the PC & Mac computers.
Adam said he doesn't like the idea that others can delete files from a shared folder, but thankfully there is a way to recover a file on the Dropbox website.

Paul said that Google Docs allows you to store files. You can do that with an app you run on your computer — you don't have to use the web interface. The app called Cyber Duck <I think this is for the iPhone> <This page has some info, I can't vouch for this site> can save & retrieve files in Google Docs. For the PC & Mac try the version of Cyber Duck here <again, I can't vouch for this site>. Those with unlocked iPhones can check Cydia for other apps.

Size limits for Google Docs

Paul mentioned his favorite apps for the iPhone & iPad. One is for Ebay and the other for Craig's List that works better than the website itself.

Adam did a search for Google mobile apps and it said to type m.google.com into your phone's browser and you'll be told what's available.

Paul said if people are struggling with the Yahoo site, especially those using dialup and mobile devices. try using the address m.yahoo.com instead of yahoo.com. That bypasses the code-ladened Javascript and gives you a faster browsing experience.

Glenn mentioned that Adam is with smarterbroadband.com and that he was on the phone a few weeks ago talking about the options for an internet provider in the Nevada City area. A previous show discussed the limits providers are starting to place on the total amount of data you can get for your subscription. Adam said this is mostly due to all of the streaming video people are watching. He said there's only so much data that can travel on the infrastructure and people watching a lot of video, especially high definition, hog too much of the bandwidth and make the connection slow for others with whom they share the connection.

Paul used to "be part of" a service provider when dialup was popular and, he said, between 2% & 5% of the users used 90% of the resources. He said it's called the "tragedy of the commons" — "what appears to be free and commonly available doesn't, necessarily, imply limitless".

Glenn asked Adam if there are new technologies on the horizon that will give us more bandwidth. Adam said there may be marginal improvement with wireless or copper but the only significant improvement will come from fiber optics.

Paul said AT&T Uverse is a service that's trying to compete with Netflix
Glenn said Uverse is more than that — it also competes with cable TV.
Adam said Uverse uses ADSL2 which Paul thinks is about 10 megaBits per second. To get the faster speeds the consumer has to be closer to the distribution point so rural users may get left out.
Paul said satellite is still an option and its offerings are getting better, but it's still iffy. <A previous show mentioned satellite service>

Carrie called about DVD labeling. She's heard that the adhesive can come off while in the player and wondered what other choices she may have.
– You can get an inkjet printer with a special holder that allows you to print directly onto the DVD. You have to use special DVDs that are made to absorb the ink — you can't print to just any DVD. There's one such printer made by Epson.
– Glenn said most DVD burners you buy today have what's called 'lightscribe' and, again using special disks that can burn the image into the disk.
– Paul's non-professional solution is to write on the DVD using a Sharpie pen.

Scott called with a suggestion for Carrie. If you have your design ready to go, you can take it to a shop & have it silk-screened on DVDs. He said much of the cost is in the design of the label. Using a service, the marginal cost goes down with a higher number of DVDs produced.

Melody called to say she's a happy customer of Smarter Broadband. The best way to reach Adam is to email him.

The disclaimer: "The views and opinions expressed on this show are those of the speakers only and they don't represent anything remotely connected to KVMR its board, staff or contributors, so when we're wrong, it's us".

Glenn thanked the loyal supporters and invited the listeners to become subscribing members. <See " 3 Ways you can Join KVMR" near the bottom of the page at kvmr.org>

At kvmr.org there's a link to past shows called 'podcasting' where you can find some of the previously broadcast show.
Or you can go to the KVMR schedule page and click on the show of interest.

Last updated: 11:55 PM 4-28-2011 

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