Look Ma, No Wires!

I spend a lot of time in my car and I’m always listening to something on the radio or the iPhone.  Since I bought my Toyota I’ve been using the AUX-IN jack to connect my phone (for iTunes, Pandora, etc.) to the JBL Sound System.  I was starting to pickup static and noise on my 3rd audio cable so I thought I’d look for a wireless alternative.

After shopping around online and only finding “hand free” units that will accept music but also act as a bluetooth speakerphone I was getting a little discouraged.  I already have Bluetooth phone capabilities built into the car and I rarely ever use it.  It’s fine for around town but at highway speeds it does not work well due to road/wind noise.

Last night I finally found the solution.  The Aluratek model AIS01F iStream Universal Bluetooth Audio Receiver is exactly what I’ve been looking for and it only cost $30.

This tiny matchbook sized piece if plastic does one thing (stream Audio) and so far I’m really impressed with the performance.  After pairing with the iPhone and plugging the little 3-inch pigtail into the AUX-IN port I had the music from my phone wirelessly transferred to the car stereo.

  • Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR
  • Transmits up to 33 feet away
  • Remembers up to six paired devices
  • Works with any phone or device capable of transmitting the Bluetooth stereo (A2DP) protocol
  • Up to 12 hours playback using internal Lithium-ion battery
  • Limited 1 Year Warranty

The Bluetooth connection sounds just as good as the wired connection and the phone automatically connects itself when I get into the car.  I do have some concerns about how well the pigtail will hold up if I were to unplug/plug it in a few times (which I don’t plan on doing).  There’s also the need for the unit to be charged every 10-12 hours of use.  It comes with a USB cable that plugs into a small, round, power input socket on the side of the unit.  When the unit is charging there is a detectable hiss from the charging circuit.  It’s the same hiss I get when I charge the iPhone in the car while hardwired into the stereo, so I’m used to that.

I’m going to hold off for a while before passing judgement on the daily usability part until I can get a few weeks of use behind me.  I’ll post an update here if any show stoppers come up but so far this looks like a good alternative to using an audio cable between the phone and stereo.

Apple Style With Windows Functionality

I’ll admit I’m starting to get a case of Apple Fever.  After moving to an iPhone from the long favored Blackberry and actually finding a way to integrate an iPad into my daily routine I’m taking the next step…  I’ve purchased a MacBook Pro.

This is not just any MacBook, this is the 13″ model with the *new* retina display, 8GB of memory and a roomy 256GB Solid State Hard Drive.  Having used a 12.1″ Lenovo Thinkpad for the past 4 years the 13″ display on the MacBook seems a lot larger and the resolution (and clarity) of the retina display is nothing short of amazing.

The overall design of the Apple MacBook Pro is very nice.  Machined from a solid block of aluminum this thing is as solid as it gets.  No plastic to flex or creak and no flimsy screen to move around.  I’ve never felt a laptop as well-built as this is.

I mention Windows Functionality in the title of this post.  That’s possible because of a virtualization application called Parallels which allow you to run Windows applications right alongside the Macintosh apps.  It’s pretty much seamless and, so far, it just works.

I’m still in the “getting to know you” stages of the Macbook but I really like what I see so far.  Time will tell if this becomes my primary platform or if the limitations push me back to the world of Windows.  There are enough differences in how the two systems work that it’s going to take some time for the Apple Operating System to become second nature like Windows has become.

After I take this thing on an extended test drive I’ll go into more detail and post a more thorough review.  Stay tuned…


Need a Little Light?

Light is something we all need.  Whether naturally or artificially generated light is necessary for humans to discern distance, color and motion.  For years I’ve carried some form of light or another, normally in the form of a small flashlight on my key chain.

My key chain light of choice for the past 10 years was a Photon light.  Small, inexpensive and very durable the Photon has been useful in countless situations throughout the years.  Recently while reading the Every Day Carry blog I stumbled upon a new light that I just had to try.

The Streamlight Nano has some pretty impressive specs:

  • Up to 8 hrs. run time
  • Machined aircraft-grade aluminum with anodized finish
  • Powered by 4 alkaline button cells (included)
  • 100,000 hr. lifetime high-intensity LED
  • LED available in white (10 lumens)
  • 1.47″ x .51″
  • .36 oz.

But I think the most impressive spec is the price!  This light can be purchased for less than $10 on Amazon and it’s worth every penny.

Now 10 lumens does not seem like a lot of light, especially when compared to other lights like the $40 Quark Mini 123 which can pump out 180 lumens, but it’s perfect for everyday tasks like looking under a desk, or simple task lighting.  I’ve used it for lighting up a dark hallway and changing the air filter on my car at night.  The tiny size all but guarantees it’s going to be with me at all times.

Top – Surefire 6Z
Middle – Quark MiNi 123
Bottom – Streamlight Nano

Operation is simple.  Twist on, twist off.  That’s all there is to it.  No special functions or flashing patterns with this one.  Compared to the Surefire 6Z and Quark Mini the Streamlight is practically non-existent.

The unit comes with button cell batteries (4 of them) as well as a split ring and spring-loaded clip.  Once installed on a key chain it’s not even noticeable.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive key chain light that really performs I recommend you check out the Streamlight Nano.  If you do, leave a comment below and let me know how you like it!



Leatherman Micra Revisit

I posted back in 2011 about my all time favorite Every day Carry (EDC) item the Leatherman Micra.  Well, I finally misplaced mine & thinking it would eventually show up I held off on buying a replacement.  After a little more than a month I had to break down and buy another one.

Amazing how you become so accustomed to having something with you at all times and really missing it when you don’t.  Ordered it from Amazon and had it in just a few days.  SO glad I replaced it.  I’m impressed that after over 15-years of these things being made the new one is EXACTLY like the old one.  That’s pretty unusual these days when it seems like there are differences in products even after only a few months.  Welcome back my old friend, I’ll be sure to keep a better eye on you then I did your sibling.