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August 11, 2006 12:22 am

At home with the iPod

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Home audio/iPods

Q. After reading one of your recent articles, I puchased the Roku Soundbridge which actually connects wirelessly to my PC and plays back the music through my stereo. Unfortunately I need to keep the PC switched on with iTunes running in order for the Roku to play. Is this so, or is there a way around?

Secondly, is there any way I can transfer my music from my iPod to my PC while maintaining all playlists (those on the iPod as well as those on the PC)? I was recently in an apple shop in the US and a guy there actually showed me a software package that apparently does that, but I unfortunately lost the name.

James

A. Basically on your first question you are right. The Roku Soundbridge pulls music off a network connected device, typically a PC, running music server software like iTunes, Windows Media Connect or Rhapsody so the PC needs to be switch on and the software must be running.

On the second question, there are several software packages available that enable users to transfer iPod tracks back to a PC, and several that also support playlists.

They include iPod Access for Windows and ipodcopy, which both also offer limited free trials.

Take care however not to delete your existing iTunes library and playlists by allowing iTunes to sychronise itself with the iPod.

Normally when iTunes updates an iPod, music that is in iTunes but not on the iPod is added to the iPod and music that is not in iTunes but is on the iPod is deleted from the iPod.

Both software packages/websites include instructions on how to copy songs from an iPod onto a PC without wiping out any existing iTunes data. For example, ipodcopy allows you to copy your iPod tracks (and playlists) into a separate folder on a PC and then copy them into iTunes thereby preserving the existing iTunes library and playlists.

GPS on PDAs

Q. Was reading the mail and your replies regarding GPS. I am considering buying a HP iPAQ rx1950 Navigator as I need to upgrade from my Psion, and it seems logical, if it works well to purchase a unit that combines both. The less kit I have to carry to better, and I’ll not leave it in the car etc. Have you any experience of this unit, It says it uses Michelin navigation, is that any good? I’ve read conflicting reports about all the different mapping software, you could say its a bit of a minefield, sorry about the pun!

Ben Cowell

A: I do not have any direct experience of the ViaMichelin software, and like you, I have read mixed reviews. But if you live in the UK and are looking for a reasonably priced combo PDA/Navigation unit, the HP iPaq rx1950 is a reasonable choice.

Printing problem

Q. I want to print out one particular section of a bill passed by Congress. The bill in this case is 194 pages long. My problem is that I don’t know the exact page number the section is on. If I don’t know that, I have no page number to put into the printing instructions. Is there anything I can do short of printing out 194 pages?

Walter Weis

A: Thanks for the question Walter. Assuming that you have the bill loaded into a wordprocessor like Microsoft Work, what I would do is use the find or search feature built into the wordprocessor to find the passage you are looking for. (In Word use the ‘Edit’ – ‘Find” command)

The page will then be displayed and assuming you do not change the formatting, you will be able to print out the relevant section on its own. Alternatively, you could cut and paste the section into a new Word document and then print out the entire new document.

Home networks: WiFi vs fixed cables

Q. I am having a home built in North Carolina and it will be on one floor with a long width (say about 130 feet) and depth of say 30 feet.

Quite a large number of rooms but also lot of windows/glass. Generally the office will be within say 80 feet of most places I might be working in other than the office.

I Have a small financial consulting business and write business books so wish to have flexibility in where I work and when at the home/Office.

Am interested in wireless and fast downloads as well as ease of sending data to printers, fax etc. I use a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop and a Brother color laser all-in-one MFC9420 CN model.

What should I have built in to the walls or where ever to allow use of today’s and tomorrow’s electronic/electric tech?

Joe Krallinger

A: Hi Joe. Traditionally the best option if you are building a home from scratch is to have so-called ‘structured’ wiring installed throughout the structure – typically this might include Cat 5 cables for phone and Ethernet, Coax for video and possibly fiber optic cable to provide some future proofing.

While wireless technologies including WiFi 802.11(x) and alternatives like power line technologies can now be used to replace most of these cables, if you have the option I would still go ahead and install fixed structured cabling because it is relatively cheap to do this during the construction phase and because, in my experience, a fixed line connection is still generally faster and more reliable than a wireless one.

You could then use a wireless router (preferably based on the 802.11g or 802.11n standards) to supplement coverage and provide ‘anwhere access’ for you laptop.

If however this all sounds a little daunting, your cheapest and easiest option would simply be to install a wireless network on its own. If you find ‘dead’ spots of coverage you could always add additional powerline equipment which plus into the house electricity circuits to extend the range of a wireless network.

Multimedia Phones

Q. I am looking around (and waiting) for a mobile phone that can be used as a high-storage music player, as well as a good quality digi-camera. The best one I could find so far is the Nokia X91, although it has had its share of negative reviews.

Could you provide some insight on up-and-coming mobile phones that have all three features and do a pros & cons of sorts?

A: Check out some of the handsets I mentioned in my personal technology column last week including the Sansung a990 and LG Chocolate models that come with card slots that enable you to add extra storage for music. I also like the Song Ericsson Walkman family of phones which have particularly good sound quality.

However none of the hansets I have tried yet match the performance of convenience of dedicated digital music players like the iPod, iRiveror Creative Zen players.

Browsers

Q. I think that your recent web browser comparison column may need a clarification.

In describing the upcoming beta of Firefox 2, you wrote that a new feature “… will automatically restore web pages should the browser crash or require a restart.”

Actually, Firefox 1.5.0.4 already presents this option the rare times it does stop responding and must be restarted. Also, I felt the column slightly remiss about not mentioning what has been described by users as a “memory leak” problem with some extensions in Firefox - including the official Google toolbar that I would think a lot of users utilize. This issue can be easily remedied with some minor tweaks. I thought the following was especially helpful in describing and remedying the problem: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Memory_Leak.

Not to leave without offering a suggestion for a future column, I have found that using web-based “e-mail checkers” such as mail2web.com or the Webmail feature provided by my ISP extremely useful in managing my e-mail including coping with spam. For example, instead of my e-mail client (I happen to use Eudora) downloading and filtering the unwanted e-mail into my spam folder, which I then must examine to ensure nothing I really want to see was labeled as spam by an overzealous spam filter, I check my e-mail via a website. Then, I can determine and delete truly unwanted e-mail by simply examining the header information (sender and subject are usually sufficient) at the mail-server level. Obviously, users of web-based e-mail services such as MSN Hotmail already know of this option, but I suspect many computer users continue to curse at the flood of spam despite other coping options.

Bruce Steinberg

A. Thanks for the clarification and the suggestion Bruce.

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