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Monday, April 16, 2012

Nokia Lumina 900 Review- The best Windows Phone yet?

A couple of weeks ago, I detailed the Nokia Lumina 700 series of cell phones and what it had to offer the mobile phone user seeking an alternative to the ubiquitous iPhone and Android phones. At the time, the Lumina 700 was the tops in Windows Phone 7 (WP7) offerings.

Released this past Easter Sunday(!?), the Lumina 900 tops the 700 with bigger this, faster that and at a  price that has the phone world talking. Phone service providers are offering this top-line phone for just $99 (USD). If you live outside the US, I'll leave it to you to figure out exchange rates, but rest assured, that's cheap. Regardless, it seems the 900 is the current pinnacle of WP7 development.

So, is the pinnacle a big deal? Mostly. Strengths include a gorgeous design, funky colors if you want them, decent battery life, no dropped calls and very good data throughput.
The last time I saw a phone this color was...never.
Where does the Lumina 900 fall short? Internet connections can be funky, The WP7 software tends to get confused on 3rd party apps like Twitter and the camera is merely adequate (is adequate enough for a top-line phone?).

Joshua Topolsky from has been testing a Lumina 900 for some time now and has a full review of the phone here- the good the bad and the middling. His verdict? Oh no no no , you'll have to go to the site to see for yourself what he thought of this phone Nokia is making in an attempt to establish once and for all Windows Phone 7 as a legitimate competitor to Apple and Android. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Have the VW factory restore your old Microbus to showroom condition!

My dad owned a 1967 VW Camperbus. 4 speeds forward (all slow) and one in reverse- sometimes. In a wind, that bus wanted to blow sideways like a tumbleweed in a cowboy movie. I remember driving up a minor mountain road at 21 miles an hour for three hours (as fast as I could go!) and I remember repairing an accelerator cable at a campsite with a screw driver, a safety pin and three feet of string. Oh, and the AM radio...with an 8 track tape player.

I loved that van and it broke my heart when he sold it.

Turns out, that van is still made today- in Brazil, of all places(click here to see VW of Brazil's Kombi webpage). Volkswagen recognizes the love people like me have for the Microbus in all of its forms and has started offering a factory service restoring these classics (from any model year) to showroom new condition. That's right- simply turn in your classic bus to VW and, some time later, you'll go and pickup your better-than-new VW for all to envy and admire. New suspension, upholstery, transmission, chrome trim, etc. - literally everything needed to bring back the pristine condition your van had decades ago. No word on how much this service costs, but for the price, you'll know the van was restored by the factory, with factory parts, factory technicians and factory documentation.
Oooh, Baby! I'll take that one and
that one and that one...

Oh...there's a catch. Sorry, everybody but Europe- this is only available on the Continent. So, USA, South America, Canada, Asia and everyone but the EU (plus a few others). You are out in the cold. If you live in Europe, you'll be set- all you have to do now is track down your own VW Microbus- and that part is for you to figure out. Go to here to read the whole story and see more drool-worthy pictures like the one on the right.

In the US, I'll make it my mission to convince Ford to start a similar program for Mustangs. There's a 1965 Mustang convertible around the corner for sale...if I can just convince the wife.

That's my catch. Hi honey...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Public Domain Books, movies and music- 1,000,000+ titles for free!

Public Domain is a great thing- No copyright, no owners, no restrictions.

Films, books, music, images and other creative works simply enter into the world of public property and are available to all without worrying about who owns what. Sometimes, the items are created by a government (training films, historical photos, etc.) and are- by US government definition anyway- the property of taxpayers, that is, the entire citizenry(even worldwide!) because we paid for them with our tax dollars and therefore we are the owners. The idea being since we own the government, we also own whatever that government produces, hence all US government documents are public domain (except for documents designated as secret or vital to national security).

In the US, if the work originates from the private sector, be it a commercial enterprise, an individual or other source, then the copyright cannot last more than 120 years if created after 1978. If created before that year, then it expires after 28 years unless renewed with the U.S. Copyright office. Sometimes, copyright renewal is forgotten or simply not bothered with and the work becomes part of Public Domain.

A quick search revealed this early
portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
(source: Private Domain!) 
The point being there is a website that collects Public Domain works with movies like "Plan 9 from Outer Space" to books  written by Mark Twain and others to music like full concerts from The Grateful Dead. The Internet Archive has made it their mission to keep and preserve these millions of works for all to research, download and enjoy.

There's no cost and no registration required. The service is free to anyone in the world and people are encouraged to upload their own public domain creations for posterity.

It's very easy to find what you're seeking: Type in the "search" window at the top of every page and the site returns with a selection of items matching your search terms. Books, films, audio and the like each have a logo next to them to explain what format the item is in (i.e., photo). Click on the link and your desired item is in front of you for your enjoyment. By the way, software is available for download too, but you might want to beware when treading in those potentially virus infected waters.

Give the Internet Archive a try by clicking here- you might be surprised what treasure you might find.