Automatic Coupon

Automatic Coupon

20% Off Automatic.com

20% Off Automatic
For the first time in my life, I am buying a NEW car! It’s the first time I have EVER bought a car really.  It’s quite astounding I went this long, but then again I am pretty cheap!  Ms Scarlett is in and I am going to pick her up on Saturday, but there was one thing I knew I wanted from the get-go … Automatic.

Automatic is an ODB-II (onboard diagnostics system) readers that sync with your iPhone or Android via Bluetooth, tracking all your driving information automatically and loading it to automatic.com.  The great part to me about automatic (being the cheap guy I am) is that after purchasing the dongle for $99.00, the service is included free!

I will even do you one better…here is a link for 20% off your purchase of an Automatic dongle!  I am super excited to get my Automatic, and can’t wait to see Ms Scarlett in all her Mini Cooper S glory!

DOCSIS 2.0 vs DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Speed Test

DOCSIS 2.0 vs DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem Speed Test

Moving to a Faster Cable Internet Plan

I recently upgraded my cable internet package with Mediacom to the Prime Plus package. After the upgrade my speedtest.net results were showing somewhere around 30-35 Mbps. The provisioning tech with Mediacom seems pleased with this, but suggested I should look into upgrading from my existing DOCSIS 2.0 RCA DCM425 modem to a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem. He said I should just go to my local office and request the newer modem.

Rather than continue to rent a modem from Mediacom, I purchased my own modem, a Motorola SB6141 to get rid of the modem rental fee on my account. The speed tests on the video are at roughly the same time, with only the modem swap separating them. Subsequent speed tests have revealed similar speed. If you are having trouble hitting over 35 Mbps on your DOCSIS 2.0 modem, you will want to discuss getting a DOCSIS 3.0 modem from your provider (or purchase one of our own).

Onscreen Text

My Internet was slower than advertised.
I decided to get a new cable modem.
Here is my test.
DOCSIS 2.0 vs DOCSIS 3.0
RCA DCM425 DOCSIS 2.0 Cable Modem
Motorola SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

DOCSIS 2.0 Results
Download 34.02 Mbps
Upload 5.82 Mbps

DOCSIS 3.0 Results
Download 56.51 Mbps
Upload 6.10 Mbps

Major Change
Download Speed
22.49 Mbps Increase
Just from changing my Cable Modem.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guide

We just returned from Austin for our first SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) experience and we are ready to book our trip for next year. Along the way I learned quite a few things I will use on my trip next year and I thought I would share it with all of you.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Be Prepared for SXSARS

I got sick on day three. Really sick. I felt miserable. Sore throat, minor fever, ache, sniffles, etc. I figured I had the standard conference cold and Pamela would be short to follow, only she never got sick. I apparently fell victim to the overwhelming force that is Austin, TX pollen.

Checking the forecast, I found that tree pollen was High, specifically, elm, oak, pecan and ash which apparently kill my system. If I had been prepared I would have checked the allergen forecast from weather.com and found a suitable anti-histamine. Next trip, I will prepare better.

Moreover, anytime you pack 19,000 people (from the world over) into a convention center, there is bound to be germs spread. Wash your hands regularly and use the hand sanitizer stations setup in all the venues.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

This goes almost without saying, but at any conference where colds, long days (nights) and free alcohol abound, you need to stay hydrated. The conference has coolers strategically placed around the venues. Buy one expensive bottle of water in the morning and refill it multiple times. Our hotel would fill grocery lists for us so we ordered a case of water from the local big box store for only a few dollars. One case of H2O cost us what you might usually pay for a few bottles at the conference so we had a clean bottle every day.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Keep Your Feet Dry!

About the same time I got sick, I got blisters on my feet. This was a result of not having the proper socks. Bring twice as many socks as you reasonably need for a week and change you socks half-way trough the day if needed. An extra pair of shoes are advisable as well, but can add bulk so see the travel light section.

Travel Light

I brought my 5D Mark II with a 50mm lens. I carried it everywhere. It weighs less than 3lbs, but it sucked beyond belief. In the end I took 91 pictures which, in retrospect, was not worth the hassle. The 50mm was too short to really get close to anything I wasn’t already in close proximity to. Further a big lens like a 70-200 would be a nightmare. If you have a specific reason to bring a DSLR or a laptop, by all means bring it along. I brought the laptop as well, but it stayed in the hotel and didn’t get used much. Next year, I will likely be relying on my iPhone almost exclusively.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Bring ID

I forgot business cards. Old media right? WRONG! Unless you are Gary Vaynerchuk people need a way to remember your contact info and business cards are still king. I have varied interest so I ended up handing out Pamela’s card which I think probably had less impact. Prepare beforehand by having something unique and special printed specifically for the conference.

Some Sessions Are More Equal that Others

Some sessions fill up fast. If you really want to attend a particular session be sure to get there early. For some reason Monday seemed more busy than any other day. I made the mistake of getting lulled into believing I would always be able to get into the sessions I wanted, then Monday hit and I got turned away again and again. There were queues outside full sessions and as people leave new people are allowed in. People leaving for the bathroom don’t get back in.

Some of the complaints I heard most were how the titles of sessions didn’t really match up with the content. Further, my selection process was based entirely on the online description. I found the pocket guide to enhance my understanding of the content, but didn’t get that info till the start of the conference.

Try, as best as you can to explore the history of the speaker and what they are going to be speaking on. Make sure you have two or three possibilities if you decide 10 minutes in this isn’t the for you, move on. Many of the sessions I attended were not as billed and I ended up staying too long.

SXSWi a Practical First Timers Survival Guideimage by IPBrian ©

Plan Downtime

There are about 30 things to do at any given time. Multiple, sessions, parties, lounges, meet-ups, etc are all vying for your attention. If you try to do all of them you will run yourself ragged. You are going to need to pick and choose what you are going to do. Sometimes this is not a problem, others it is almost painful. Build in downtime during the day to hit a coffee shop or just hang out in one of the lounges. Make sure you find time to eat lunch and dinner.

Home Away From Home

Your choice of hotel has a strong impact on your options. Price was one of our chief concerns so we ended up staying closer to the airport than the convention center. This move probably saved us $400 a night (we paid $119/night), but it comes with the inconvenience of not being able to easily access your room. The conference shuttle usually only took about 15 minutes one way, but you also had to wait for pickup. A round trip to the hotel could take an hour and while sometimes this was not a problem, other times it made the trip impossible. One of the first nights I ended up carrying my swag bag and camera around the after parties (very cool).

In the end I think the networking opportunities of the conference easily outweighed the information I gained from the sessions. We spent quite a bit of time in the blogger’s lounge and met quite a number of good people. This conference is all about making connections, and in the end I think the free books and t-shirts may have all but paid for the price of our admission.

Change this Facebook Setting NOW!

Back at the end of January, Facebook added secure browsing (https) to the list of security features and you should make the change now.

Up until the addition of https your Facebook credentials were passed as clear text to Facebook. This is especially troublesome if you are surfing on an open wireless network at say a coffee shop, because it allows people sniffing the wifi traffic access to your Facebook credentials.

Changing Facebook to use https adds a layer of encryption to your web communications that makes it much harder to crack your account. Luckily the changes are easy (though in normal Facebook fashion buried in menus) and will be largely transparent to the user.

From your home screen Click:

Account

Account Settings

From the Main Settings Tab, Click Change on Account Security

Place a check in the box under Secure Browsing (https), Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible

Click Save

Motorola S9-HD on iPhone 4

A little over two months ago I finally decided, after much reading online, to purchase a Motorola S9-HD Stereo Bluetooth Headset for use with my iPhone. The reason I decided to add my two cents to this already vast array of reviews was simple. The field has changed so many times with this headset and with what iPhone supports, the reviews ran from “The Two Devices Don’t Work Together” to “This Combo is Perfect”.

Motorola S9-HD on iPhone 4image byIPBrian

This review will highlight some of the technical and physical features of the devices interoperability as well as some of the problems that are sadly still abound. For this review we will be using the following equipment:

* Motorola S9-HD Model 89307N
* Apple iPhone 4 running iOS 4.0.2

I purchased my headset from Amazon, or rather a place called Accessories Warehouse and the order was fulfilled by Amazon.com. In the reviews I found numerous people who had received refurbished or even knock-off versions of the S9-HD headset, however at $64.90 I decided to take my changes and have had no problems. I received retail packaging in new condition as I would expect from an Amazon reseller.

Fit

The S9-HD’s are a behind the head design with the battery at the center rear of your head. This places the biggest parts out of your way, but also adds weight to the back of the unit causing a constant pull downward. For me the headset feels best when the battery is pulled up slightly (not resting on my neck), but as gravity works, I keep having to adjust the headset even with light activity; this is, of course, more pronounced when jogging. Its slight protrusion from the neck is also a problem on a flat bench.

The unit uses pressure just in front of the ears, near the temples, to help hold everything in place. If you wear glasses (or sunglasses outside) this poses a slight problem as your glasses will get in the way and cause further slippage. Luckily for me, my glasses are fairly thin and do not pose too much of a problem for the fit, however if you have clunky glasses you may be out of luck.

The unit comes with three different rubber cover sets for the speaker units. I have a pretty large head, but found the smaller rubber covers to work best. They fit moderately well into my ears, but need constant adjusting due to the heavy back I mentioned earlier.

Battery

The battery on the S9-HD is rechargeable and the unit comes with a wall adapter to mini-USB. This versatility is very helpful because at any time you can use a standard computer USB port to charge your headset if you don’t happen to have the wall adapter.

The battery typically lasts for most of a weeks worth of workouts. I only use this when I do cardio or if my weight workouts happen to be solo. The downside to having a rechargeable battery is that you only have 10-15 minutes worth of charge after the low battery notification beep. I have forgotten numerous times to charge the headset, started a workout only to get the low battery beep 5 minutes in and not have music for most of my workout.

Sound

The sound quality is pretty good. You would of course expect to loose a bit of quality over a wired headset (and you do) but the joy of not being tethered to your iPhone on the treadmill is worth the trade off for me. I can’t tell you the number of times I have held my breath as my iPhone went flying across the cardio theater when I hit the headphone cable while jogging.

There is a hiss associated with my headset. When I first pair it with my iPhone, before anything is playing, it is very obvious. The noise is barely perceptible to me during audio playback, however spoken word or quiet sections of music reveal the hiss. This maybe annoying to some users, however I think audiophiles will probably already be dismissing this headset completely anyway.

Function

I watch quite a few internet video podcasts. When I first got this device, the sync with video was atrocious. I was not surprised by this, but recently I haven’t had any trouble. Initially I was turning on the headset, then activating bluetooth on the iPhone. I found doing the opposite, first turning on iPhone bluetooth, then powering on the headset alleviated any problems with sync. In hindsight, the order of power up may have fixed my sync issue or perhaps it was a software version patch, but I have not had any troubles with iPhone 4.0.2 and audio/video sync.

Buttons

The S9-HD headset comes with six function buttons (volume up, volume down, answer/end calls, pause/play, skip forward, skip back) but only four of these currently work with iOS 4.0.2.

* Volume Up and Volume Down -These control the volume on the headset itself and not on the iPhone which is still controlled independently by the onscreen slider or the iPhone side volume buttons.
* Answer/End Calls – This button is ultra handy as a simple click during an incoming calls smartly pauses your audio and answers the call. Conversely a click during an active call ends the call and restarts your music. This button also performs double duty as it will start voice control when pressed at any time other when needed for accepting or ending a call. Pressing and holding this button redials your most recently called number.
* Pause/Play – This button does exactly what is sounds like. At any time it will start or pause the iPhone’s iPod function.
* Skip Forward and Skip Back – Sadly these buttons don’t do a thing when the S9-HD is paired with an iPhone, however it has been somewhat widely posted on the internet that iOS 4.1 will implement AVRCP which should fix this. Update: With the release of iOS 4.1, the skip buttons work perfectly.

Conclusion

In the end I love this headset. Despite the poorer then wired sound quality, difficulty getting positioned properly and the battery dieing occasionally, I love being able to put my iPhone in my pocket and not have to worry about wires. At under $70, I personally think it is a good investment if you are willing to suffer a few trade offs for freedom from wires.

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