You can't make your Nikon D200 DSLR into a D300. If you want the new one, you must buy it.
Even Steve Jobs can't transform last year's iMac into the latest, greatest iMac. And you can't add HDMI switching to your 4-year-old Sony receiver. But...that's exactly the sort of upgradeability that some high-end companies offer.
Take Zu Audio. The company offers an upgrade kit that'll transform any Druid speaker built from 2001 forward into the current Druid Mk 4/08 model for $600 ($800 upfront, with a $200 refund with return of original drivers). Since a pair of new Druid MkIV/08 go for $3,400, the $600 fee seems very reasonable to me. Complete new Zu speakers are sold factory direct with a 60-day money-back guarantee. They are manufactured by Zu Audio in Ogden, Utah.
Last year, I raved about the Druid MK IV speakers and dubbed them Speaker of the Year. So I was eager to install the kit and see for myself if the smart folks at Zu could actually improve this great speaker.
The upgrade kit includes a pair of new woofers and tweeters and all of the necessary tools to get the job done. Examining the quality of the parts and build integrity of the Zu's designs from the inside of the speaker only increased my respect for the design.
Zu even produced a how-to DVD that shows the installation in real time. Druid owners who'd rather not roll up their sleeves can ship their speakers back to Zu and have the pros handle the job--for free--but the owner pays for shipping. I needed around 50 minutes to complete the upgrades, and I was taking my time. I wanted to get the job done right. The first time.… Read more
With all things touch-screen in an increasingly touch-screen centric world, I was given the "plastic or paper" option for casting my vote in the California primary on this most super of Super Tuesdays. So, not liking the marker fumes and being used to touching everything on the iPhone anyway, I opted to vote "plastic."
The polling place had 10 conventional optical-scan voting stations with real paper ballots, but only 1 digital voting machine. San Francisco uses the Sequoia voting machine and, well, here's my story:
The clerk handed me a plastic card to insert into … Read more
The 2008 Cadillac CTS has beaten out stiff competition to become this year's CNET Tech Car of the Year. With its sculpted new profile and its arsenal of cabin technology, Caddy's revised entry-level sedan impressed both the judges and CNET's readers, who ranked it above the likes of the 2008 BMW 5 series, the 2008 Audi A6, and even the Mercedes-Benz CL550.
The CTS differentiated itself from the competition with a range of innovative entertainment and information features including its ability to pause and play live radio, as well as its live weather information feed. Other tech … Read more
My New Year's resolutions for 2007 were largely a flop, although I did frame and hang some vintage 1930s cruise ship menus as promised.
But if you're dead set on changing your life in 2008, many Web sites can assist with tallying and tracking resolutions. Some will continue to ping you with reminders, or even enlist other folks to pester you over the next 12 months. Facebook users can pick from various third-party widgets for setting and sharing goals, but other sites offer more customization.
The New Year's resolution might be way up there on the great list of journalism clichés, but that's no reason not to go back to the well and see what our pals in the tech industry are pledging to do in 2008, at least as far as their gear and gadgets are concerned.
"Make spam a priority, and eliminate clutter." --Don Sears, eWeek.com
"Hack and/or overclock what I have more, so that I don't have to always race out to get the latest and greatest. And buy an iPhone if … Read more
Since this blog went live in July 2007, there have been over 70 postings. For my all but mandatory end of the year review, below is a cheat sheet to the postings to date. I maintain a full blog index on my personal web site.
2007 Individual Postings
Prepare for networking failures by reading the lights on your router July
The pros and cons of LEDs for backlighting LCD screens July
Ask Leo Notenboom your computer questions July
Be careful when downloading software August
Task Manager in Windows XP August
Scan a suspicious file with 29 anti-virus programs August
What … Read more
I've always preferred prognostication to nostalgia, so rather than replay the best of 2007, I'll use these late December doldrums to make 10 predictions for the coming year. Some editors will warn you that this kind of list is suicide--it's too easy for everybody to look back a year later and see where you were wrong--but it hasn't hurt Cringely, so here goes. In no particular order.
As 2007 closes its doors, Webware writers Rafe Needleman, Josh Lowensohn, and Caroline McCarthy look back on the best and the worst to come out of it...2007: Hits
The Facebook platform. Facebook's new open platform has proven to be a great way to give Facebook users more to do, while putting eyeballs on and dollars into developer's sites. While the usefulness of some of the apps is questionable (see the misses category below), Facebook has built a solid foundation for new social applications, something that did not exist previously.
Google Gears. This platform lets developers write Web apps that can work offline. It is in its infancy, but it's an important step in the right direction for road warriors and anyone who wants to use Web 2.0 apps while away from a live connection. So far, it's limited to just a handful of apps, including Google Reader, Zoho Writer, and Remember The Milk, but with a developing API and support from Google, we think you'll be seeing Gears as a standard part of new Web apps in 2008.
Adobe AIR. AIR lets Flash (and other) developers take their apps off the Web and put them onto people's desktops, and it's seen a lot of progress this year. From launching an alpha version in late March, AIR has been met with considerable interest from both developers and users. Many of the apps that have been created are slick and easy to install. AIR, like Google Gears, is a key technology in the development of "hybrid" apps--Web services that work for users whether they are connected or not. AIR's special power is that its apps work outside of a browser. AIR apps look and feel like real desktop programs.
Twitter. Twitter was one of the first microblogging platforms to get it right. In addition to its open API, which has encouraged the development of dozens of ways to read and post Twitter messages on a variety of platforms, Twitter got the social angle right. It's simple, but not too simple, and it's fun. Twitter's brief messages tend toward the forgettable, but that's the platform's blessing: it doesn't ask too much of its writers or its readers.
You might have heard by new that Time named the Apple iPhone the "Invention of the Year." I'm not going to dissect the magazine's reasons for choosing the iPhone--News.com's Tom Krazit already did that--rather, I'm more confused as to whether the iPhone should even count as an invention. As some CNET readers have contended, Apple didn't invent the cell phone, it just built its own version. And even if everyone agrees that Apple improved on the concept, should that count as an invention? What do you think?