Honey, I shrunk the Wireless-N USB adapter

UPDATED: Corrected the spelling of "GW-USMicroN".

Most laptops these days come with built-in Wi-Fi or even Wireless-N capability. However, if you have an old laptop or a game console that you want to hook to the Internet wirelessly, I've got some good news...and it's tiny.

I just got my hands on the GW-USMicroN, Planex's latest USB Wireless-N adapter that the company announced at the end of last month. I've seen a lot of USB wireless adapters and I am generally not impressed with them.

The GW-USMicroN, however, is very different: it's tiny--just … Read more

Ecotones turns your noise into soothing sounds

Updated at noon PST Tuesday with more detailed information on how Ecotones works.

You know those blaring horns and screeching tires outside your office window? Listen again; you're actually hearing the soothing sounds of a babbling brook.

Silicon Valley start-up Adaptive Sound Technologies is out with its first product, Ecotones. It's an adaptive noise-masking machine that blends with the audio in your specific environment to create a relaxing individually crafted soundscape called a "SoundStory."

In the event a loud truck suddenly came by, for example, Ecotones would instantly and automatically raise the volume level and insert … Read more

Glue binds the social and Semantic Web

For the last few years AdaptiveBlue has offered a semantically rich Web application that understands things such as books, movies, and music. Clicking on text, such as a company or movie name, brings up a context-sensitive menu of related links. The company is taking its technology a step further, adding a social dimension and renaming the product, "Glue." Along with Radar Networks' Twine and Powerset's Wikipedia search engine (acquired by Microsoft), Glue offers a compelling glimpse into how the Semantic Web will add a new, powerful level of intelligence to the Internet.

Rather than just connect things … Read more

Philips SPR550BN: The squid of power awaits you

Water and electricity: that's a winning combination if ever we heard one.

Clearly Philips thinks it's a theme that has some legs--five of them to be precise--because it's created a mains extension socket it calls the "power squid."

Anyone with an encyclopedia would be able to tell you that a squid has 10 appendages--that's 8 arms and 2 tentacles, fact fans. The Philips SPR550BN also differs from aquatic reality in its color, which is black, rather than the more realistic white or slightly translucent skin tone of most squid.

Still, most real squid don'… Read more

Relief for users with new iPods and older cars

So, you just bought a new car that came with a built-in iPod cable. Great, right? Well, maybe not. Unfortunately, the cable is only compatible with the previous generation of iPod products and not your brand new iPhone 3G, Nano 4G, or Touch 2G.

A bummer? Yes. However, Scosche is on this like an Apple fanboy is on Steve Jobs' every word. Or close to that, at least.

On Thursday, Scosche announced the Passport, which is now on sale at Apple stores, although I was unable to find it at Apple's online store at press time.

The Passport utilizes … Read more

Apple recalling iPhone 3G power adapters

Apple is recalling the USB power adapters sold with the iPhone 3G in North America and Japan amid concerns they are prone to breaking.

The company announced the Apple Ultracompact USB Power Adapter Exchange Program Friday, which applies to iPhone 3G owners who bought the device in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, and selected countries in South America. Apple included a USB power block, shown at right, inside the box for the iPhone 3G in these countries, and the company has received reports that the prongs on that power block can break off and remain inside your wall socket, … Read more

Simplicity and its discontents: Jason Fried vs. Fraser Kelton

NEW YORK--After listening to Jason Fried (37 Signals) give his compelling Web 2.0 Expo talk Wednesday about building companies in the modern world--which could be summed up as "simplify, and don't work too hard doing so"--I walked across the hall to hear Fraser Kelton (Adaptive Blue) discuss the negative ramifications of this strategy.

Kelton posed the question this way in his pre-conference writeup: "What happens when early adopters have become spoiled by single-feature technologies that take no more than a moment to grasp? The challenge faced by the next wave of innovative start-ups for … Read more