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Cool Stuff Remainders, 2005-12-15

A few books, apps, and other baubles I've enjoyed lately.

  • As a kid, I devoured dorky books like Haley's Hints, and I'm convinced it's partly what made me into the sort of person drawn to the life hacks phenomenon. If you suffer from the same affliction and nurse a passion for clever little tips on removing stains, moving furniture, or drying a sweater, you'll love this one, too. It's nicely indexed and the nano-sections make it perfect bedtime (or bathroom) reading.
  • SuperDuper, the most excellent backup tool/disk cloner, had a recent upgrade that added scheduled, non-attended backups and several other nice features to the mix. I love this app. Love it.
  • Xinha Here so rules. True WYSIWYG HTML editing inside Firefox may be (I say for the umpteenth time) what finally moves me to The Fox and keeps me there. Combining Xinha with Writeboard -- or even Writely, I guess -- gives me a glimpse of where the web might be heading (and Redmond's Office team may have a lot to find troubling about it). Great little chunk of func. Go, Firefox. [via LH]
  • A wonderful reader gifted me with a much-desired item from my AMZN wishlist -- a terrific little book called Buddhism Plain and Simple. In the 20 years I've flirted with learning more about Buddhist practice, this book has brought the clearest and most practical presentation I've come across. Re-framing Buddhism not as a religion but as a way of seeing has really flipped a switch in my head. Great little book that I can highly recommend (and many thanks to my kind giftor for bringing it to me).
  • On a recent field trip to pester my friends at Mule I found myself jealously coveting a lot of the toys and tech on Mike Monteiro's desk, including a most excellent wireless Microsoft mouse. As a consequence, I dropped by CompUsa on the way home, picked up the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 and have been really pleased with it so far, I'm happy to say. It has a bunch of programmable buttons, nice precision, and a wacky "zoom in" feature that's probably fun at parties. I also love that the scroll wheel goes side-to-side as well as up-and-down -- if you ever have the kind of hot and heavy makeout sessions with Excel that I do, this is a Very Good Thing.
  • I also nabbed me a RadioShark which is kind of like a TiVo for your favorite local radio stations. It's a plastic thingee that connnects to your USB port and ships with some fairly janky software for automating recording. The reception also sucks, and it has a very 1.0 feeling in general, but combining it with RadioTime is actually ace. You can use the RadioTime site to schedule all your favorite shows (local and otherwise accessible via the web) and RT does all the heavy lifting of recording streams, bodyslamming the RadioShark in line, then dumping the product right into iTunes. At $39.95 a year, the RadioTime service is steep, and I do wish the next-gen Shark could be "flashed" in a way that allows for independent (un-connected to the Mac) recording. Still if you're a huge Public Radio nerd like me, it's nice to know you'll never miss another "Fascinatin' Rhythm" or "Writer's Almanac".
Gordo's picture

The RadioShark is a...

The RadioShark is a cool device, and probably works reasonably well on a Mac. On an XP box, however, it feels like a v0.5 product instead of a v1.0, though.

I can live with the UI using the brushed aluminum theme from OSX, I only need to look at it when I'm programming in my shows. I can live with only being able to record in 30-minute increments, I just have to ensure my clock is accurate and hope that the station's one is too.

The biggest problem I have with it is that it decides that, despite my entering the starting time of my recordings in local time, what I really meant is the corresponding time in UTC, and adjusts them by an hour whenever daylight savings time starts or stops (because, apparently, that's the way the stations will be deciding when to broadcast). So I miss all the shows I want to record until I manually adjust all my scheduled entries. Very annoying.

Watch out in the spring!




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