Now this is a phone I might get…

According to the rumor mill, Google is creating their own phone.

I could definitely get behind this one, as opposed to the iPhone. They haven’t actually decided on a design yet, but some obvious things that will be included:

  • Google Maps
  • Google Calendar
  • GMail
  • GPS
  • Google Talk
  • Probably Google Documents and Spreadsheets

Considering the recent talk-talk about bidding for the 700 Mhz spectrum auction, it’s possible that they’re considering building their own large scale data network, much like they’ve already done in parts of San Francisco and such. If so, then it seems likely that the Google Phone would work on that network as well as normal cell phone networks.

Hopefully, they decide to sell the phone standalone, with no service. If it’s GSM, then in theory, I should be able to simply pop out my SIM card from my existing phone and pop it into the new one. That should be the way phone service works, this sucky tying the phone to the carrier business has to end.

Also, Google was making talk-talk about how they wanted the network spectrum to be required to be “open” in the sense of allowing mostly unencumbered network access for various things. The FCC went along with a couple of Google’s ideas, but not the full set. So I’m thinking that Google might push to buy the spectrum and turn it into a countrywide data network (which the winner of the auction is actually required to do anyway, within 10 years), but perhaps offer free network access in exchange for pushed advertising and such. Maybe even to the effect of creating devices that sit on your home network and access the internet via Google’s spectrum. That would be very cool, and well worth the trouble.

My God, it's full of Beer…

This may be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

All-In-One Brewing Device

It’s an all-in-one brewing machine made by a photographer at Popular Science. He spent about $4300 making it, but it brews, chills, ferments, and pours, all in the same device. Apparently, a little manual intervention is required, in the form of swapping CO2 hoses around to move the brew along through the machine from time to time. But the brew itself is never exposed to air, thus eliminating the risk of contamination.

They also have a slideshow of how the device actually works on PopSci’s website.

And, of course, a YouTube video of him demonstrating it. 🙂

Amazon Price Drops and You

I found a site a while back that has a rather interesting concept to it. So I used it when I had the chance, and today it paid off in a very nice way…

See, Amazon guarantees their prices for 30 days. So if you buy something from them and the price drops within 30 days, they’ll refund you the difference. Proof of this is right on Amazon’s Customer Service pages. Very cool, but many retailers will do much the same thing.

Slight problem with this is that you have to notice the price drop and then request the refund. So the most likely scenario is that you get no refund. Which is presumably fine with Amazon. And why not?

Anyway, NukePrice is really clever. When you buy something from Amazon, you go there and put in the link to the item you just bought and your email address. Then, for 30 days, it will check the price of the item and if it drops, it emails you. Not just emails you, but gives you a link to the Amazon refund request page and instructions on how to get your refund.

I used it back on the 31st when I bought my new Samsung 4642H. Today, it emails me and tells me that the price has now dropped $100. So, woo hoo! Free $100. Very cool.

They also have a downloadable tool which can do price watching for you automatically, on all your Amazon purchases. Very clever. I haven’t tried it yet, but if you do a lot of buying, then it’s probably worth the trouble.

Virtual Bartender

Paul found a thing called MyFountain on somebody’s website. It’s basically an automated bartender.

Now, I’ve seen these before, but mostly as do-it-yourself type projects. The basic idea is that you get a bunch of liqour and beer and such, hook it up to a bunch of pumps and tubes, and hook those to a computer to portion each one out properly. Simple enough. The trick, of course, is programming the computer properly. Running pumps and such is no big deal.

This MyFountain thing takes it to a whole other level. The cheap version (which is still $2500 or so) is a basic bartender. It can go online to get new recipes and such, and it knows what you have in the fridge so it can tell you what you’re capable of making. The advanced version is basically geared towards managing an entire bar, in that it networks with multiple units, can estimate drinking patterns and call headquarters to schedule deliveries of more beverages automatically, etc, etc. Very clever indeed.

Still, I think it would be a fun project to build my own unit. I’ll need a mini fridge or freezer of some design to hold the beverages, but I’ll have to be willing to cut holes in the thing for the necessary tubes to pass through. So if anybody knows of a fridge/freezer design suitable for such a project, capable of holding, say, 6-10 bottles of liquor and possibly 1 or 2 mini kegs, let me know.

Perseids Meteor Shower this Weekend

While it happens every year, it’s still worth seeing as the peak time falls on a weekend this year.

The peak time for the shower will be early Sunday night/Monday morning (2 am), but it will be going on Saturday night too, which is when I’ll probably head up to the roof to see what I can see.

Should be a hell of a good show.

More information can be found here:

Finally bought a TV

So, I finally caved and bought a big HDTV.

I talked about getting one before, but I’m essentially broke at the moment, having spent so much on moving and such. However, I finally compromised my inherent desire for “the best” and decided to get one that “will work for now”. But, everybody that commented there, and most people I talked to, told me that Samsung has the current best LCD panels. They got the highest reviews pretty much everywhere, so I satisfied the inherent need to have the best that way instead. 🙂

On the plus side, I was able to get a powered wall mount for free through my American Express rewards points, so that’s pretty cool. It’ll let the Samsung TV be wall mounted and movable with the remote, so I can tilt and angle the thing easily. It also makes it mount flush to the wall when the set is off, but allows it to come out from the wall 4-5 inches when the set is on. Neat.

The set and wall mount should arrive sometime next week. Amazon has pretty awesome shipping policies with regard to their higher end items: Free white-glove shipping. Very nice. I highly recommend buying your next set from them, unless you know somebody who can hook you up with wholesale price. Even then, the sales tax costs might make it a better deal to go online. It did in my case.