The Bill and Phil Show

Tech Gadgets To Help You Stay Fit This Summer

Post by Phillip Hampton on Jul 1, 2007

Suunto G6

Suunto G6

If you are like us, you find it hard to stay in the office behind a desk during the summer when blue skies, beach, and beverage beckon.

There’s no need to leave your tech gadgets in the office, however, as you set sail for a summer weekend getaway.

In fact, this month’s column will feature some of our favorite gadgets to help you keep fit so you can better endure those long mediation conferences, endless depositions, or pre-trial hearings.

In the time-keeping department, you don’t want to embark on your jog along the beach without the Calorie and Heart Rate Watch featured on www.vacationgadgets.com. This stylish sports watch not only has a stop watch and exercise counter, but will also calculate the calories burned while exercising and your heart rate.

If you while away your summer afternoons perfecting your swing on the golf course, you might want to spend a little more and get the Suunto G6 Pro Wrist-Top Personal Golf Computer (www.suuntowatches.com). This amazing little device will actually help you fine tune your golf game by providing immediate feedback about your tempo, rhythm, and back swing length and speed every time you tee off. You can even keep your score with the watch and analyze your game at the end of the day with the Suunto Golf Manager PC software.

Of course you want to make sure that any fitness program that you embark upon is effective and worth your time. Keeping track of your heart rate during a workout is an important component in evaluating your program. The Numetrex Heart Sensing Sports Bra (www.numetrex.com) is our pick product for the ladies who want an unobtrusive way of measuring your heart rate during your workout. This sports bra has “cardio sensing fibers” embedded in the garment which work “with your body’s perspiration to maintain a connection.” Just so the men don’t feel left out, Numetrex also features a men’s Cardio Shirt which has a similar function. We prefer the bra, however.

Even though the nights are short during these hot summer months, you might venture out after dark for a hike or jog to escape the brutal heat. For your own safety, you might consider a very inexpensive LED Ear-Mounted Flashlight (www.gizmodo.com/gadgets) which will not only light your way as you run in the darkness but will also make your presence known to other passers-by.

Many of us seek relief from the heat by heading to the nearest watering hole (we mean literal water).  Two gadgets from vacationgadgets.com are essential accouterments for water enthusiasts. AquaTunes is an innovative product that allows you to waterproof your music. The product includes a water sport belt which can accommodate most personal audio devices along with a patented earplug speaker system that keeps the earplugs in your ear and the water out. If snorkeling is your favorite activity, check out the Aqua FM Snorkel which combines a snorkeling apparatus with a high quality FM radio receiver.

At the end of the day when you have to go back to the home or office to answer all the anxious email messages from clients who can’t understand why you are taking time off, plug the USB Vibe Personal Massager (www.grandtec.com) into one of the USB ports on your laptop and as the product promotional message instructs, “vibrate away stress, pain and fatigue.”

Have a safe and healthy summer.

See you next month.

Bill and Phil

RFID: Cool And Scary All At The Same Time

Post by Phillip Hampton on Jun 1, 2007

RF ID Tags

RF ID Tags

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification.

RFID is normally used on devices that are called RFID “tags” or “transponders.”

You can think of an RFID tag as an electronic “bar code.”

Basically, you can use an RFID tag to identify virtually anything: a product, an animal, a person, a car, etc. RFID tags are usually tiny little micro chips that are about the size of a grain of sand or a flake of black pepper.

Most of these tags do not have their own battery. They use the power from an initial radio signal that they receive from an RFID “reader” to transmit their response.

You need to know about these things.

You will be hearing more and more about them in the news, but there are many applications of this technology already in use.

For example, since January 2005, Walmart has required its top 100 suppliers to supply RFID tags with all shipments. These RFID tags contain the same information that is on bar codes. The RFID tags make taking inventory a snap. All the retailer has to do is pass an RFID reader past a shelf or a pallet of product, and it will automatically count the number and identity of the items, along with manufacturing information, shipping dates, receipt dates, etc.

Many countries use RFID tags on their passports.

The RFID tag on the passport stores the same information that is printed in the passport, along with a digital picture of the owner. Even the United States is experimenting with putting RFID tags in passports in spite of the obvious security dangers.

RFID tags are also being used in transport systems such as public transport buses and trains, subway systems, toll roads, etc.

The Metropolitan-Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has moved away from coin tokens to a new “breeze card” system that utilizes RFID tags on disposable paper tickets. The frequent riders are given more permanent plastic cards.

New, fancy cars (and now not so fancy cars) use RFID tags on their car keys. Without the correct RFID tag, you cannot start the car.

Toyota has made extensive use of these “smart keys/smart start” options on the Toyota Prius, the Toyota Avalon, the Toyota Camry and on almost all Lexus models. The car can detect the RFID tag enabled up to key three feet away from the sensor. Then the driver can open the doors of the car, open the trunk and start the car even though the key is in the owner’s purse or pocket.

There have also been experiments with implanting RFID tags in humans. One use has been to plant an RFID tag in VIP customers at bars (like Paris Hilton?) so that they can be easily identified and so that they don’t have to worry about breaking out their cash or a Mastercard to pay for their drinks.

Additional uses are as follows: smart toilets that shut themselves off when they are close to overflowing, identifying human remains; timing athletic events (such as the Music City Marathon), finding lost golf balls, and even stocking your refrigerator.

Now for the scary side.

There are many privacy controversies that have been raised about the use of RFID tags.

For example, once you leave the store, can the store continue to track the item once you take it home?

If RFID tags are placed in clothing, can the retailer immediately identify you when you walk into the store?

Can thieves and burglars drive down alleyways using RFID detectors to locate expensive electronic gear and household items?

The dangers of human implantation are obvious.

Finally, there are certain members of the Christian community that believe RFID tagging represents the mark of the beast (666) as set forth in the book of Revelations, specifically Revelations 13:16-18.

In spite of all of these concerns, the usefulness of RFID tags cannot be denied. We believe they are here to stay, and you might as well become familiar with the technology.

If you are interested in the RFID tags, you can buy your own RFID experimentation kit from ThinkGeek.com and experiment with such things as RFID door locks, RFID logons to computers, RFID-enabled safes, and so on. The cost of the kit is $99.

“Happy RFIDing!”

See you next month.
Bill and Phil

“Gadgety” Web Sites

Post by Phillip Hampton on May 1, 2007

This month’s column is devoted to what we call “Gadgety” websites. 

These are websites from where you can buy gadgets or websites that are in essence gadgets themselves.  Here they are:

1. www.thinkgeek.com This is a website devoted to geeks. It sells T-shirts, mugs, ties, high caffeine products, gadgets and many other gifts for “programmers, linux hackers and open source geeks.” There is some amazing stuff here: a retro phone handset to plug into your cell phone, a T-shirt that has an old (and functioning) retro electronic “pong” game on it and other such useful but entertaining items.

2.  www.trialjuries.com This website allows you to submit a case to a mock jury on line. Most in-person focus groups or mock jury sessions will cost you $25,000 to $50,000. The cost on this website is $1,500 to $2,500 per case. This site can actually be useful for those who need to get a feel for how a jury is going to treat your case.

3. www.grandcentral.com This website can be very useful, especially for the solo practitioner. It gives you one telephone number that will ring all of your telephone numbers. It has customized email voice messages, including custom greeting and messages based on who the caller is. It keeps a record of all your telephone calls to and from all telephone numbers and gives you a web-based voice mail in box.
4.  www.browzar.com For those of you who travel a lot and use Internet “kiosks,” or browse the web on public computers this is a very useful site. You can store a personal web browser on a USB flash drive downloaded from this site or you can download on the “public” machine. By using the personal browser, you will leave no browsing history or other information on the public host computer you use for the Internet access.

5. www.whatsrunning.net This is a free utility that is much better than the Task Manager provided with Microsoft Windows. It tells you all of the processes, services, modules, IP connections, drivers, and other system information running on your computer. It is very useful in determining why you have problems with your computer slowing down. This site is highly recommended.

6. www.freelegalforms.net At the risk of being accused of endorsing the unauthorized practice of law, I recommend this site. There are any number of free legal forms on this site that can be very useful, at least in giving you a start in drafting a legal form. This is obviously against Bill Ramsey’s personal interest since he is one of the co-authors of Miche Forms. 

7. www.blawg.com This is a law-related blog site that is a great portal for legal blogs, pod casts, and other news feeds related to the legal industry. There are links to over 1000 blogs on legal issues and you can add your own blog to the list. In addition, you can create your own blog using www.blawg.com or www.blogger.com

8. www.zillow.com For those of you who need real estate information, this is an incredibly useful site.  You can view aerial maps of almost any major (or minor) Metropolitan area and you will see a map with recent sale information and/or value estimates on all property in an aerial photograph. It is amazing and scary at the same time. To check it out just go to www.zillow.com, type in your home address and look at the recent sales prices or values on your home and all of your neighbors’ homes.

9.www.pandora.com

This is a great site.  Using this site you can create a personalized radio station.  It continuously changes music to suit your taste.  You can pick the type of music or the artist you want, and the site will play it for you.  You can tell the site the type of music you do not want to be played.  It constantly plays, in addition to your favorite music, new music that you have never heard before but that you might enjoy.  Highly recommended, give it a try.

           

10.   http://podbop.org

For those of you that are interested in music, podbop is an MP3 concert calendar that helps you discover the bands playing in your town.  You can look up your favorite bands to see where they are playing.  You can get a concert calendar for all bands playing in a selected city.  You can listen to their music on website, and you can listen to the music of your favorite band.

           

11.  http://gethuman.com/us

For those of you who are tired of receiving computerized voice mail and greetings when you call a business on the telephone, this is the site for you.  It contains a data base  of many, many companies and exact instructions on how to bypass the automated telephone attendants so that you can speak directly with a human.  For example, this site shows you how to speak to a live person at companies like Amazon, America Online and Delta Airlines.  Push the right buttons and you can get a live person on line and vent your frustrations.  Just kidding, don’t abuse the clerical person on the telephone.  Remember, as Jim Neal says “don’t kick the water boy.”

 

More gadgets next month.

 

Bill and Phil