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Feature Idea: Blackout Mode in Consumer Electronics

This is a bit of a trip though time. In my past life, involved with broadcast technology, I travelled extensively. One of my many trips involved an evening driving from Boston up to Burlington, Vermont with a sales associate. It was a nice ride in his Saab 900S, and my first experience with Saab.

As the afternoon wore into evening and we lost the light I came to appreciate a particular feature of the Saab dashboard. It had a “Blackout Mode.” With the press of one button all the dashboard and console lights went out. That is, everything but tips of the tachometer and speedometer.

With blackout mode engaged driving the dark, empty highway was a lot easier on the eyes. It was a nice feature. It spoke to a thoughtful design team.

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Waiting For Doorbot: Appification Can Be Disappointing

Like many people, I’ve come to enjoy using a tablet to do things that were once entirely in the domain of the computer. Over the past year the Nexus 7 has become part of my routine. I use it routinely for checking email, reading news feed & e-books and watching the occasional video, amongst other things. It’s a wonderful device.

There are some things that I do with the tablet that leverage specialty apps, like the remote control for our Nest thermostat. This makes perfect sense to me as the function of both the thermostat and the app are clearly and completely defined. Also, their operation is largely isolated from the rest of the elements of our lives. For example, we simply don’t require that the Nest integrate with the home phones.

With such clearly defined requirements, or more exactly, limits to the scope of requirements, a smart phone/tablet app is good solution. It certainly makes more sense than a traditional hardware remote control as one might get with a TV.

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CompuLab Strikes Again; Intense PC Looks Sweet!

 

CompuLab, the company that brought us the Fit-PC series have a special place in my heart. Their little super-small-form-factor PCs hold an attractive quality that’s hard to describe.

I rather impulsively bought a Fit-PC2 even though I really didn’t have any need for it. The little 4″ square box is actually mounted on a VESA bracket on the back of an LCD monitor. It essentially turns that monitor into a net-top.

As cute and appealing as they were, a Fit-PC was never going to be my primary desktop. Sporting an Intel Atom running at 1.1 GHz they just didn’t have the CPU power to fill that role. However, that may be changing. The introduction of their latest offering, Intense PC, might make a viable replacement for my ailing desktop.

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