Archive for February, 2007

Songbird Developer Preview

February 18, 2007

The developers who built WinAmp have released a preview of their newest creation: Songbird. Unlike WinAmp, which ran only on Windows systems and was primarily a media player, Songbird is cross platform and allows music lovers to search for music posted on the millions of blogs on the Internet. It’s also a cataloging tool like iTunes, so you can store the tracks you find on your hard drive. I have only begun to use Songbird, but the amount of great, free music on the web is astounding. If you are bored with commercial music you will find a rich window into the free music world with Songbird.

Wireless Weather Station

February 2, 2007

Many companies make weather station kits.  These can cost hundreds of dollars and take time to install the sensors.  I have owned a couple of these over the years with many problems.  At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) I learned about a new one from Oregon Scientific model  OSI WMS801.  Instead of requiring one to install sensors, it uses a service from Microsoft called MSN Direct.  Microsoft gets the weather information and broadcasts it over FM.

This weather station is one of the easiest products to use.  You just plug it in the wall and the unit automatically gets the weather information.  I know that MSN Direct does not work everywhere; so one would have to check the Internet to make sure it works in your area.  I used it in Manhattan, where it worked very quickly.  There are some confusing buttons on the outside, but once you figure out how to change the time zone, you are home free.

The MSN Direct booth at the CES demonstrated many products that use their service.  Most charge a monthly fee, but this one does not.  Once you buy the unit for $125 from Costco, there are no additional charges.  The representative from MSN also assured me the service would be around at least five years.

As mentioned earlier I have used many weather stations.  This one is probably the clearest.  The temperature and humidity are large and bold.  The forecasts for the next three days are in slightly smaller type with the barometric pressure trend, wind speed and direction.

For people who like to know more about the weather than just looking out the window, you cannot go wrong buying this product.