DJ Battles

Bang & Olufsen jumped on the “celebrity-endorsed headphone” bandwagon this week with their announcement that that they have recruited DJ Khaled for the release of their new BeoPlay H6’s.

DJ-Style headphones have been all the rage for the last few years, and got an extra boost back in 2006 with the introduction of “Beats” headphones and more particularly the Beats by Dr. Dre line which has blown up over the years, and is the most popular line available today. A few companies have imitated the Beats empire; namely 50 Cent’s SMS Audio 50, Soul by Ludacris and House of Marley, which needs no explanation.

B&O’s decision to join in on the fad is a little surprising. The Danish company is known best for selling high-end electronics, and the chain is known for being quite pricey. The tagline for these new earphones is “We the Best Sound.” That’s not even proper English. The name is based off DJ Khaled’s fifth studio alum “We the Best Forever.” I think this is a strange marketing strategy considering the steep $400 price tag for these earphones, which are about $150-$200 more expensive than Beats.

Beats has the backing of not only the ultra famous Dr. Dre but also his side partner, Interscope records co-founder Jimmy Iovine. These two are a powerhouse celebrity duo with many high profile connections in both Hollywood and the music business. This has been part of Beats success, as you will find many big names endorsing the headphones for their friends Dre and Iovine. On the other hand, DJ Khaled is known best for being a Little Wayne protege. We are interested to see how well these new headphones fare in this trendy market.

Will HDMI to DVI to VGA Work? – NO!

Q: “I’m experimenting because my monitor doesn’t have the best graphics. I have a DVI to HDMI cable and my monitor only supports VGA. will this work? HDMI to DVI male to DVI female to VGA male?”

A: No, that will definitely not work. HDMI is digital. The DVI on the other end of your HDMI to DVI cable is DVI-D which is also digital. The DVI on your DVI to VGA adapter is DVI-A which would also work on DVI-I ports, but not DVI-D. That adapter is analog. If you connected those together, you would get no signal at all. Unfortunately cables will not help in this situation.

Where did DisplayPort to HDMI Cables go?

A few years ago DisplayPort to HDMI cables were available aplenty. Now you are hard pressed to find this sort of cable. What happened?

HDMI, which is short for “High-Definition Multimedia Interface,” is owned by a consortium, which is basically a group of assorted companies that have rights over the technology. This consortium strictly regulates the way HDMI is manufactured and sold.

If a cable has a male HDMI connector on one end, according to the rulebook it must have a male HDMI connector on the other end. Any other connector is considered a violation of HDMI’s regulations, making these cables unlicensed and considered illegal.

The HDMI consortium started cracking down on illegal cables back around 2011. Cease and desist letters were sent to retailers selling the cables, as well as the manufactures that were creating them. Threats of legal actions were thrown around, although it’s unclear if any court dates were actually held.

If you are in need of a cable that is HDMI to DisplayPort, there is still one fix available, and you don’t even have to break the law to use it. You can still use an adapter with your HDMI cable. CableWholesale’s DisplayPort male to HDMI female adapter allows you to send video from a DisplayPort, commonly found in PCs, to an HDMI monitor or TV. As long as the HDMI portion has a female end, a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter is acceptable.

Parking Wars

San Francisco’s city attorney issued a “cease and desist” demand this week to a peer-to-peer iOS parking space app, much to the relief of many San Franciscans. The app is called Monkey Parking, and it allows drivers to sell their public parking spot through the app for profit. Naturally this is an issue considering it is against the law to profit from a public space without a permit from the city; and not to mention that both the street and the sidewalk is owned by the City of San Francisco.

For the first time in a long time San Francisco’s officials are being proactive about illegal activity that is happening in their streets. In the city, it is common to see open drug use, nudity and prostitution. Even with all that, parking still remains San Francisco’s top nightmare. The city’s streets were not designed for the amount of traffic that they are subjected to daily. The city itself is only seven by seven miles, and is overcrowded with people and cars, making street parking a pain.

Some of these parking apps can charge up to $13 a space, and employ people to sit in spots until they are bought. Imagine what a jam-up this is causing. It’s already super pricey to park in private lots and parking garages, usually upwards of $25 for a few hours. So having to pay for public parking through an app (on top of the expensive parking meter cost) is just ridiculous. Not to mention the danger of engaging in a bidding war while behind the wheel.

Going forward, drivers who use the Monkey Parking app, or similar iOS apps like Parkmodo and Sweetch, may be fined up to $300.

The End of Computerworld

Computerworld announced this week that they are ending the print version of their magazine and going to a strictly digital publication going forward. This has been a trend for the last few years in what many call the “death of the printed word.”
This is not surprising unfortunately; as magazines have been going out of print left and right for the last few years. Most editorials are digitized regardless of whether they have a print copy. Their profits come from advertising; digital editorials can be very profitable. The end of print magazines has been referred to as the “death spiral,” which is today’s language when describing something that is on the way out the door at a speedy rate.

In today’s world of blogs, instant news and e-readers, magazine sales have been down for many printed publications.

Computerworld has been in print since 1967, with the final print version being released next Monday, June 23, 2014.
Their content is directed towards IT managers and various other techies. The magazine gives information on upcoming seminars and other time-sensitive information, mostly new releases in the field of technology. In this case it makes sense to have a mobile version that’s quick and easy to reference. It’s also worth mentioning that isn’t a typical keepsake magazine like “Life Magazine” or “Rolling Stone” that people tend to hoard in their garages. The exception would be the issues that covered ground-breaking technical territory. If you are a random nerdy hoarder, hold on tight to your issues.The classics are sure to be worth some coin someday.

Amazon on Fire

Amazon has been pretty busy lately. First they released their new Fire TV streaming device a few months ago, and now they are announcing this week their new Amazon Fire smartphone. The phone is making a pretty big buzz.

For starters, Amazon is ruling the phone game by offering free photo storage for an unlimited amount of photos on their cloud drive. Anyone who has an iPhone knows the irritation of the “storage almost full” error message. What do you mean I can’t keep 3,000 pictures on my phone?!

Along with the phone Amazon is throwing in a full year membership to Amazon Prime, which includes free streaming of movies and TV shows through Prime Instant Video. Prime also offers access to over a million songs available for unlimited streaming.

The most unique feature of this phone is the introduction of a 3D display on a smartphone. There has been much talk about this feature, and it looks pretty amazing. The photo Amazon chose to showcase the 3D feature was that of the Eiffel Tower. When the phone moves, you get a 3D view of the tower as well. It looks really neat, and is totally unique to the Fire.

The Fire’s camera is also pretty cool, it comes with 13-megapixels and its own button that’s specifically for pictures. You can even take photos when the camera screen is not up; the whole process is said to take about one second.
The display size is only slightly bigger than the current iPhone 5s, which is a little surprising considering the newest smartphone trend has been “the bigger, the better.” Battery life is similar to most smartphones on the market, and comes with a micro USB port. This phone will only be available through AT&T and is set to be released in late July this year.

The Fire will be competing with both Samsung and Apple’s latest phone efforts, and honestly the 3D feature may be the biggest pull. It is in the same price range as both the iPhone 5s and the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Amazon Fire TV sells for $99-The same cost as the Apple TV and the Roku 3. This unit comes with a free month of Amazon Prime, and has the same functionality as other streaming devices on the market today. This release was much less publicized, as it didn’t come with too many new features to make it stand out against its uber popular competition.

So at first glance it looks like Amazon is busy riding the coattails of bigger-named competitors, and cashing in on a tired market that’s already overrun with too many choices. At least they brought something new and fresh to the table with the Fire phone. The smartphone technology bar has been raised yet again, and we can’t wait to see how the competition will respond.

Splitting HDMI

Q: “I have my PS3 that I use for Hulu/Netflix and it’s in my basement. I have an HDMI cable to a TV in my basement and one running upstairs to my TV up there. Now, my question is, do they make HDMI splitters so I don’t have to run downstairs every time to switch the cable plugged into the PS3. Anyone have good experiences with HDMI splitters? I don’t want anything overly priced either; $50 is way too much. Hope someone can help.”

Answer: Yes, HDMI splitters would work for this. We sell one that runs around $30.

Tetris Turns 30

Happy Birthday Tetris! This little game was first introduced 30 years ago this month. Tetris was brought to us from Russia; the creator Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov was 28 at the time he created the game back in 1984. He’s almost 60 now. In interviews he says he still plays the game from time to time. No one can blame him. One word that is consistently used when describing the game is “addictive,” and if you have ever had the pleasure of playing it, you know this to be true. The game landed on Rolling Stone’s top ten “most addictive games ever” list.
Tetris revolves around a simple idea. Bunches of blocks fall from the game’s ceiling and you are responsible for arranging them on the bottom of the screen. If you manage to get them all to fit together, you earn points and then the game speeds up and the blocks become harder to control.
A little known fact about Tetris is that the creator never received royalties due to the fact he worked for the Soviet Government. Talk about a bummer.
Tetris has been huge over multiple platforms, first Nintendo, then home computers, handheld game consoles and now it’s available as an app for smartphones and tablets.
Also another favorite, Pac-Man is turning 33 this year and is also experiencing a resurgence in popularity. At E3 this year the new game “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” made its debut. 3 years ago Google celebrated the game’s 30th birthday by making an interactive Google Doodle. This little piece of the full game was a reminder of how awesome this game was, and revisions of the game were released with all new graphics.
These games and their new-found popularity today might just be nostalgia, but I must say that today’s world of high-resolution everything, the original simple graphics and designs are refreshing. It’s amazing that in today’s hi-tech world that these classics are still profitable. Most of the original users of Tetris and Pac-Man are now in their 30s and 40s. These games can bring you back to a simpler time. And that is priceless.

The Great HDMI Rip-Off

Q: What type of HDMI cable do I need for my 1080 TV and Blu-ray Player?

A: This answer depends on the distance between your TV and your Blu-ray Player. There is honestly no difference between expensive and inexpensive HDMI cables. Usually the only difference is length and sometimes shape or color. We recommend any cable that won’t hit your pocket book. Cheap HDMI cables that carry the HDMI logo and meet the latest standard will work exactly the same as the cables with an expensive package and flashy marketing lingo; all without affecting the quality.

The skinny on iOS 8

With the release of the iPhone 6 this fall, it will also be time for a new operating system update from Apple as well. As an overview, there are no groundbreaking differences with this new update. This may be because the iOS 7 catastrophe. The last operating system update to iO7 was so starkly different from the previous iOS; it had a lot of Apple users in a state of panic. People were purposely not updating their phones because the update was received so poorly. There were a lot of changes last time, so this time around it appears that Apple played it safe; and only made small improvements that won’t shake things up too much. That’s not to say that there aren’t some cool changes made though.

The update that I’m most interested begins with the photos. Apple added some Photoshop-like features to their picture editing. You have the choice of applying a filter; adjust brightness, color saturation, exposure and vibrancy. There is also a new timer built in to the camera app.
HomeKit is also a big change added to this update. This Apple app has so many features, it’s a little dizzying. With this feature you can control different aspects of your home through 3rd party apps. You can do things like control the temperature in your home, lock doors virtually, control lighting and even check the internal temperature of the food you are cooking on your barbeque.

Some other new features include the new “zoom” button that magnifies at a higher resolution than the current ‘double tap” in iOS 7 that allows you to make a picture bigger. You can now magnify words, pictures or anything that passes on your screen.
Text messaging got a slight overhaul with this update. Now, instead of the annoying auto-correct, there is a bar underneath the text window that will learn and predict your words and also spell check and allow you to correct the word yourself. This new feature is called “Quick Type.” This is a pretty nifty feature considering how often the current auto-correct fails us and can distort messages. Although I will miss all of those “auto-correct fail” posts that are so popular nowadays.
In that same vein; if we don’t feel like texting, we will now have the option of sending an audio message. There will be a microphone button in the text screen that will allow you to capture a voice message and send it through text. This will also learn your way of speaking and most commonly used words. This can also be used for “talk-to-text.”

One of the coolest Siri updates is happening with iOS 8. Have you ever heard of Shazam? This was a music app released a few years ago that could listen a song and tried to identify it digitally. Now this exact feature is being built directly into Siri. I’m pretty excited about this, as I am constantly hearing music and wondering who sings what, and where I can download it.

There is a laundry list of other little updates and tweaks to iOS 8. This is scheduled to be released around September.