Category Archives: Hardware

Radio with Wi-Fi…it sounds great to me!

Photo of the Evoke Flow Player
The Evoke Flow Player
I love Wi-Fi. When I heard that radios exist that can utilize Wi-Fi, I wanted to immediately get some…

According to a press release, the PURE EVOKE Flow: “…was the first truly connected portable radio. Made of the same polished and lacquered wood as a grand piano with a three-inch speaker, the EVOKE Flow delivers stunning sound quality. The optional ChargePAK battery makes this device eminently portable…”

After opening the box I found the radio enclosed in a soft, drawstring bag. That’s a great idea: the body of the radio is very shiny and reflective, and you’ll want to protect it from scratches.

There’s too much to tell about this radio, and too many features to comment on, so I won’t be able to cover everything.

On the top is a touch-sensitive “SnoozeHandle”. On the front are “Volume/Mute” and “Select/Pause” knobs. They are a little to small and slippery for my hands and fingers.

An antenna is on the back. Below it is a door for the optional rechargeable battery pack (ChargePAK E1, $49.95) which was not provided with the radio.

At the bottom is a mini USB port for the USB Ethernet Adapter for a wired network connection. Other ports at the rear include:
“Aux speaker”…
one for headphones…
“Stereo Out”…
“Aux In”…
and one for the supplied AC power supply.

The EVOKE Flow supports Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), which is not available in the United States.

It can receive FM broadcasts, and supports the Radio Broadcast Data System. RBDS is the service that allows for text information to be displayed about the station you are listening to, the song playing, etcetera. Ten FM radio stations can be preset.

The “PURE Lounge” is an internet portal accessible through a browser that enhances use of the EVOKE Flow. It can help with choosing and marking services to be access via the interface of the EVOKE Flow, as well as the PURE Sounds (which will be explained later). If I manually tune and listen to a “station” on the unit, the website will log the stations I have listened to. I use the website to find and preview stations, and then add some to “My Favourites”. (Or, you can just surf via the EVOKE Flow.)

An unlimited amount of internet streaming audio services can be selected as “favorites”.  The last time I checked there were:
16,092 “Stations” available…
1,399 “Listen Again Programmes” all from BBC radio stations that can be listened to on demand…
and 5,563 “Podcasts” that can be streamed.

The EVOKE Flow has a “Media Player” mode that allows for music to be accessed from a computer or network attached storage (NAS) device. More information about that can be found in the support section of their website.

There are 83 “PURE Sounds”, mainly intended to allow for an ambiance to be set:
“Babbling brook”
“Urban – City traffic and pedestrians”
“Dogs barking”
“Lake with lapping waves”
“Large ocean waves”
various bird sound options
“Rain, thunder, and lightning”
“Stormy evening”

Also available are “Pink noise” and “White noise”, “Acoustic guitar (E, A, D, G, B, E)” (for tuning), “Harley Davidson Shovelhead 1340 (1981)”, and “Snoring man”…which is very neat. I hope they expand their choices to more that are non-standard (like “Couple Arguing”, so people will consider staying away for fear of becoming involved in a situation).

The two alarms can be set to wake to DAB, FM, or a tone alarm. After a set number of minutes has elapsed, a sleep timer will switch the radio into standby (or off if powered by a ChargePAK). The kitchen timer will beep after countingd-down from a set time period.

The menus are not as easy to navigate as I desire. I suggest you keep the (6 x 3.5 inch) Quickstart Guide with the radio for reference purposes. I did notice that the more time I spend with the radio, the more a few things seem to become easier to access by manuvering around.

The EVOKE Flow can be upgraded via Wi-Fi (or USB). After the latest update, version 3.5, was downloaded and installed…the radio rebooted…and I needed to reconfigure my wifi settings.

To play audio in stereo:
use the heaphone out port…
the stereo (line out) port…
or the S-1 Flow Additional Speaker.

A remote control unit is available.

Blame it on my iPOD!

Photo of the iPOD Touch
Blame it on the iPOD!

Over the New Years Weekend, users of the iPhone “complained” of the devices not waking them or reminding them of events due to a bug in the Alarm Clock function of the device. I’m actually owner of an iPod Touch and found the same issues others had faced. Luckily after working Morning Radio for the past 20 years, you learn to rely very little on just one device, this is one of those cases a wind up clock or watch alarm can provide some of the best backup for those that need the alarm clock to wake up at a set time.

Apple has indicated that users can reset their devices alarms and they should be now working after the two day “blip” What is interesting now is how the Android users are so quick to pounce on the iOS users. It is almost though as if Apple users are catching a little of what has been dished out over the years from Mac at PC Users when issues cropped up with the PC.  T-Mobile has already started to poke fun at those often humorous Apple Ads, we’ll have to see if Google adopts the same ad campaign for its Android OS. 

Maybe the idea to tether to technology for even the most simple of functions still appeals to you. There are backups for getting the reminders you need. Sure, you could hire an out of work engineer to follow you around and remind you of events and appointments but that might be stretching it and could get rather expensive. Even though I would like to say, hey – how about a wind up clock – I know I would be failing in my desire to have you the reader or viewer at the top of your game in the tech world.

There are several websites that offer up Alarms, but remember – many of these are dependant on an Internet Connection which can fail – one of my favorites is http://www.alarmd.comYou can’t get more easy or basic then this and I have gone to bed with an hours sleep to have the Train Crossing Alarm to get me out of bed. If you don’t want to depend on an internet connections, you could check out some software for doing the same function http://www.aquariussoft.com/pc-alarm-clock/ Is one such program which can be purchased for under 30 bucks.

If you are running Windows 7 you can also Activate the gadgets feature and run the Alarm Clock with Windows but honestly, spending a few bucks on a Wind Up might be the best solution if you don’t want to come up with a Tech Excuse for bieng late for work!

For those running the Apple iOS in Version 4 can reset previous reminders and alarms and acording to apple should be working ok now.

Adding a Hard Drive – “If All The Parameters Are In Place”

Adding a new Hard drive to the system should be easy and if all the parameters are in place, it will be. That’s the important thought however, “If all the parameters are in place…”

We received a Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB Internal Drive in to test out in the Media Center PC we are putting together and after putting the Motherboard and Processor in place, installing Memory, the Main Hard Drive (Western Digital 500GB 7200RPM 16MB Cache), Video Card and Windows 7 X64 (We’ll be testing with X32 as well) we were excited to add the WD Caviar Green 3TB Internal to the fold. After putting the rails on the drive and cables we booted the system up which located the drive. We selected the Create New Volume and after deciding to label the drive and choosing it as Drive M (For Media) we proceeded to Quick Format the Device. After about 30seconds the Quick Format failed and we then unchecked the box for Quick Format and decided it was possibly best to perform a detail and exact format. We knew this means it will take longer, but we were not expecting what happened next.

We started the format at 9:15am on Sunday 12/19/2010 and on Monday 12/20/2010 at 8:15am we were at 1%. Looking at the Storage Manager we could see that Windows 7 and the Intel Board could locate and visually see the drive however this was by no means normal. Without becoming all Sheldon on ya, this could in fact take 2 months, 23 days, 7 hours and 11.5 Minutes, give or take a month to format. Western Digital had sent a HPA Adaptor card which is a part of the 3TB Internal Drives, also the 2.5TB drives ship with this little card which plugs into the available PCI Express Port. We didn’t install the card since the Intel Board, the DH57DD was so new we assumed it should have no problem with the capacity of the drive.

If you aren’t aware, There are limitations in size for some boards accessing over 2.19TB. This little card that WD includes will help some boards be able to address the drive and welcome it to the hardware fold. WD even includes the plug in card with low riser and full size bracket for the smaller towers and regular sizes available. We plugged the card in, hooked up the drive and upon boot, the card was identified but the drive wasn’t. We let it boot and sure enough, nada was in the available drives. We shut it down, made sure the SATA Cable and power cable were connected firmly and rebooted. This time, the drive was seen and we proceeded to boot into Windows and begin the steps to reformat.

Once we deleted the previous volume and then reattempted in Quick Format Mode, it failed. We reattempted by deselecting the Quick Format and could see right away, the format was going to be a long process. Something just wasn’t right. We revisited the Western Digital website which features a very good video on adding a secondary drive with the WD Caviar Green 3TB and saw that all the steps we’d performed we’re inline. After a cup of coffee and racking the brain we decided to try one other step we hadn’t done, changing out the SATA Cable. We had provided this cable as the ones that came with the board were both used up.

Over the years you tend to amass a large quantity of cables and power cords, I always wonder if somewhere I forgot to hook up a cable because why do I have an extra!?
I located a SATA cable and connected it, rebooted the system went through the steps of deleting the old volume, recreating and performing a Quick Format. Viola! (Walla! for those not immersed in French..) Our Drive formatted and quickly. So, before you go calling Tech Support or heading back to Frys or Best Buy check the SATA cable to make sure that it isn’t the culprit. Also remember to toss the other cable since leaving it around will just cause you to put it in another system. Hopefully this helps somebody!!

Andy

All Nice and No Naughty – Scan those Photos!

We caught word that our friends over at Visioneer have a Contest taking place on their Facebook Page giving you the ability to share some of your fine holiday photos but also have a shot at winning a Visioneer 9520 Scanner. There probably isn’t any doubt that Digital Cameras will sell well during the Holiday Season. So many great new devices are on the market with Fill features, sequential photos for action and large megapixels for printing from the Digital Image.

One piece of technology that is still a constant for photo enthusiasts, archivist and those working with graphics is the Digital Scanner. Gloria and I bought our first photo scanner back in 1991 for our new Desktop Publishing business and its features were about 25% of what is available with today’s Scanners, pricing is now considerably less as well. In 1991 our scanner set us back about 700 bucks!

One of the companies that has offered affordable solutions for the consumers and business user is Visioneer. We’ve had several models over the years of Visioneer scanners that have served us well. We still have a need to scan those photos, logos and other documents into the computer and with today’s software, the user is really able to fine tune and achieve a great looking photo from a scan. Most users of scanners I’ve talked with have made photo archives of all the film photos in the home for safety and ability to easily share them online with sites such as Flickr and Facebook and then store the originals away for safekeeping. It is incredibly easy to scan a photo and save it as well.

The Visioneer 9520 scans at 4800DPI and captures in 48Bit Color. For those of you that have amassed a collection of Slides, the original way a slide show was presented, a built in 35mm Slide transparency adapter makes it easier.  One Touch scanning of the 9520 gives users the option of easily selecting Fax and Send, Send to Printer or open up the Scanning Program to scan to your specific program. The Visioneer 9520 also ships with Corel and Arcsoft programs.

While the website may seem a bit confusing in its support of Windows 7, Drivers for Windows 7 and Vista are available on the Visioneer Site. If you visit the site and select the Home Products, then the product itself, scroll down to the bottom right of the page you will find drivers and there you will locate the Windows 7/Vista drivers. Probably the easiest step is to visit the Visioneer Like Page on Facebook and participate for your chance to Win one of Three Visioneer 9520 Scanners.

A Photo of the 2001 Christmas Card with Ozzy
Andy Taylor and Family with Adopted Kid Ozzy

All you have to do is submit your Nice Holiday Photo in the Holiday Photo Album and the folks over at Visioneer will select a winner December 22nd 2010. I was thinking about submitting this Holiday Family Photo from 2001 with Gloria, myself, the girls and our adopted friend Ozzy but I already have a 9520 and wouldn’t want to take away your opportunity to win!

For your chance visit http://www.facebook.com/visioneerinc

Help, I am Out of Hard Drive Space

We’ve all been there! You want to do some work on your Computer and you keep getting a warning telling you the Hard Drive is Full. Going through your drive and deleting files would be the nice thing to do, especially those ones that just seem to be duplicated throughout your Hard Drive. If you don’t have time to do that, adding storage is always a great solution. In fact, with the pricing on Hard Drives currently, it is really to your benefit to plop down a few bucks and get that deal on the 1TB or 2TB drive you had your eye one. Getting some of that clutter and files off your hard drive can also help your system run better. A Good Defrag after moving a bunch of files off your hard drive is like a nice oil bath for C3PO, but I digress.

We talked with Wilson Tang from Azio Corporation on a New Hard Drive Enclosure the company is producing called the E377-U31. This Aluminum cased Hard Drive enclosure with a Slide Out Tray gives users the ability to Add a SATA Hard Drive with a Couple of easy steps. Seriously, it could get easier then this! The Power Connector and USB Cable, which was supplied, connect up in seconds to the Enclosure which offers a screwless design so after a couple of snaps the Drive is in place. Viola!

Pricing is great on this Enclosure system and it really looks pretty good on the Desktop. Users can opt for a USB 3.0 connection or go for the current standard USB 2.0. If you decide on the USB 3.0, you are backwards compatible with the USB 2.0 and USB 1.0 designs. You’ll need a USB 3.0 to get that full speed or you can purchase a USB 3.0 Expansion Card which can be placed in an available PCI Express Port and connected to an available Power Connector.

We like the Sturdy Design, Ease of Access and Side Mounted Fan on the Unit. Listen in to our interview with Wilson Tang of Azio at http://www.techtalkradio.com/hardware/azio.html You can also view photos of our tester unit on the page.