Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Streaming KAXE on Android

KAXE LiveDo you have one of the cool Android based smart phones and want to be able to listen to KAXE on the go? If so, there is a cool, free and easy to install application in the Android market to get KAXE on your phone.

While there are several streaming applications in the Android Marketplace, I like the one called StreamFurious. It's pretty easy to install, just follow these steps....

1. Open the Android Marketplace application on your phone:
  • you need a data connection of some type: (over the air, 3g or wifi)
  • if you have never used the market place before, you will need to create a Google account before you can proceed
2. Use the "Search" on the Marketplace screen to find "StreamFurious". It may give a few results, and I recommend you try the "free" version of the program. (There are some additional nice features of the "Pro" version, but you can make that call after you have tried out the free one. )

You'll be presented with a screen showing some information about StreamFurious, along with user ratings and a button to install it.

3. Go ahead and tap the Install button to get it. When prompted, confirm that you want to proceed.

4. When the installation is complete, you can open your application list and start StreamFurious. Accept the user agreement, and when it finishes loading, it will present you with a listing of existing feeds. Tap the Menu button on your phone, and tap the "More Stations" option.

5. On the more stations screen, tap the icon that will take you to "" This will load the web browser on your phone, and take you to the Shoutcast home page. You can search for KAXE on this page, and Shoutcast will find two results: the first entry is a high quality stream and the second one is a low quality stream.
  • choose the high quality stream if you want to listen via a 3G or wifi connection
  • choose the low quality stream if you don't have 3G or wifi handy when you want to listen
6. Tap the button for the stream you want, and it will be loaded as the top most entry on your StreamFurious screen.

Sound Quality
I think the high bitrate feed sounds like an FM signal would on most portable devices. The low bitrate feed sounds just fine for voice content, but leaves a little to be desired for music. As long as you are in an area that has good cell service, the stream seems to keep clear and constant.

Battery Consumption
Streaming KAXE (or any audio feed) is going to suck the juice out of your battery. So, don't expect to listen to KAXE for hours on end. I can get a couple of hours on my battery, maybe a little more if I have a strong signal.

Stay In Touch
StreamFurious is the perfect way to listen to KAXE on the road when you are not in the Northland. If you have a car charger for your phone, or an AC charger in the hotel, you do not have to worry about battery life.

Streaming on the iPhone?
Do you stream KAXE on your iPhone? If so, can you give our readers some advice on a good application to use? Post your suggestions here.

Have a big day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gigabit Fiber at Home?

Google is getting a ton of publicity about it's Google Fiber for Communities contest. They promise to lay out a really fast fiber network in the winning community, and cities all over the country are putting together applications / proposals touting themselves as the best candidate city.

Amongst Google's claims is that they will provide homes and businesses with Internet connections up to 100 times faster than what currently exists in the community. The expectation/hope is that faster connections will lead to 'new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine'.

What will a gigabit Internet connection do for me? Not much in today's world. Or next year's world either. Now, I don't want to be perceived as short sighted, but let's be realistic and look at this little analogy to put things in perspective...

Haulin' Bits
Before the Google Fiber days, I had to haul bits back and forth from my ISP to my house by the wheelbarrow full in my little Toyota pickup. Then Google came along and gave me a ten yard dump truck to haul the bits. Great. Now I should be able to get a lot of bits real fast.

But, oh oh, my ISP can only give me a wheelbarrow of bits at a time. And the rules of the Internet say that I have to deliver each load to my house before I can get the next load. (By the way, the new truck goes the same speed as my little Toyota, it can just carry more.)

I can't be mad at my ISP for not filling up my new truck. It would cost them a huge pile of money to be able to load my big dump truck up to capacity each time, even if they could get the bits fast enough. They have lots of customers. While they have the capacity to load up one or two of those dump trucks every minute, they cannot fill thousands of them at once. After all, they have to pay a shipping charge for the bits they distribute to me and their other customers. It's not free.

It gets worse. Even though my ISP has the ability to give me a whole wheelbarrow load at a time, the company that I want to get bits from can only ship out one dump truck at a time. AND, they have to divide that up amongst a thousand customers simultaneously. So, I'd be lucky to get a shovel's worth of bits from them for each trip anyway.

So, I have this great big dump truck, but I can only haul a wheelbarrow worth of stuff each trip. Sure, it might include a shovel full of bits, a bundle of news, a bucket of movie, or even a game or two. But I'm going to have a lot of unused capacity in that truck. Maybe someone will come up with some stuff to fill up the empty space in my new dump truck, so I can boast about hauling bigger loads. But it'll have to come from someone locally, as my ISP's can't afford to haul it in from off their network. I don't know what I'll do with it, and I wonder how long I'll have to wait for it.

Or, maybe they could just fluff up the bits with a bunch of air so it looks like I'm getting a better deal.

More Secure Computing -- Episode 1

Don't Run Your Computer as "Administrator"
One of the most important security measures users can follow to protect their computers from outside attacks is the concept of "least privilege". This means, use an account on the computer configured as an ordinary user with only those rights and permissions you need to get your work done and no more.

For example, for most day to day work on your computer, you do not need to install software, configure network settings, customize your web browser, add/remove hardware, etc. You just need to browse the web, write documents, edit files, and other non administrative tasks. The least privileged user on an XP system is able to do these functions.

However, if you are using Windows XP at home or at work, it is likely that the account you log into your computer with has full administrative privileges. (This is especially true if you are not required to log into your computer. If it just starts up, you are the administrator.) Accounts with administrator privileges have the rights to fully control nearly all aspects of the operating system and software on the computer.

So, you may ask, what's the big deal? Why not have administrator privileges on my account?

The answer is really quite simple. If you are browsing the Internet, or reading emails, and you come across a site/message that has a nasty payload, that bad page or infected message has the same control over your computer as your current account. So, if you are logged in as a user with administrator rights, and you hit a web page with malware scripts to install software to your computer, it's likely to succeed.

But, if you are operating as a user that does not have rights to install software, and hit the same page with malware on it, it is less likely to successfully exploit your system. Is it bulletproof? No, but it will thwart some (many) attacks.

There are some drawbacks in operating with less than administrator rights, most notably the need to switch user accounts to perform tasks that require higher privileges. But it's worth the hassle to help protect your system.

I especially recommend this route for shared computers. If you want to keep that computer running smoothly, don't let everyone have full control of the computer. Set it up with printers, software, networking, etc, and then create "user" accounts for everyone. They'll have what they need to run the computer, but will need to ask permission or request your help to make significant changes.

Don't forget to keep the Administrator password handy, because if you lose it, it's a pain to get control of the system without it.

You can learn more about configuring accounts in Windows XP here.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 Provide More Protection
These operating systems provide users with a little more security by separating elevated privileges from regular user accounts. Windows Vista/7 employs a process called User Account Control that lets you operate as a regular user, but prompts you for credentials to authenticate with elevated privileges to perform certain operations. While this is not a perfect system, you should not bypass or try to circumvent it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Intro to More Secure Computing...Episodes to follow

If you are a Windows user, you have probably been hearing a lot of reasons to worry about viruses and malware on your computer. Especially if you are connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, much of what you read about/hear is true--there are a lot of threats that are easy to fall into and infect your computer.

I'll be writing a short series of blogs about what you can do to prevent (or at least reduce the risk) your computer from being hijacked. I am not going to bother with any detail about Anti-virus software, because if you don't have it already on your Windows computer, you are probably a hopeless case anyway. So, let's go over a listing of the things that you should do in addition to keeping your AV software up-to-date.
  1. Browse the web and read email with a depreciated user account on your Windows computer (Episode 1)
  2. Become a smarter (more suspicious) Internet user. (Episode 2)
  3. Learn to use malware prevention and detection tools (Episode 3)
  4. "There's a sucker born every minute" - don't let it be you (Episode 4)
I invite tips and suggestions from readers. I'd also like to hear about your horror stories about confirmed viruses.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is That Cell Call Worth Killing For?

A few weeks ago we discussed the dangers of using a cell phone in the car, whether talking on the phone, or worse yet, texting while driving.

Take the pledge and commit to banning the use of cell phones in your car. Point your browser to Oprah's No Phone Zone Pledge. You can read more here about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. You may not want to admit it, but in many cases, it's worse than driving drunk!

Just turn it off!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Voice -- Way to Cool!

Google has a new service called Google Voice. In their words, "Teach your phone new tricks."

The service gives you two options:
1. Use your existing number:
  • transcribed voicemail online
  • low cost international calls
  • custom greetings for callers
2. Get a Google number:
  • same features as above
  • Google number can ring on multiply phones (more on this later)
  • get transcribed voicemails via SMS text
  • advanced call screening

I went with option two. Here's why. My employer requires me to carry a cell phone for my position. They used to provide me with a cell phone, but policies from higher up--not the local unit--would not allow me to take zero cost personal calls on the phone. So, rather than have to carry two phones, I turned theirs back to them, and got my own cell phone and agreed to take work calls on that phone.

Years of experience has taught me that people tend to skip trying to contact me at my desk phone, and instead call my cell phone. I have always been a frugal type, and while it bugged me even when they were calling the employer's phone, I really did not want them eating up minutes on my personal plan when they could just as easily call me at my desk phone.

(Hey--Northern Cheapskate--you will be really proud of this...) So, I signed up for a Google phone number to solve my problems and really extend the versatility of my phone. Here's how I leverage it.

First of all, Google let me search for a phone number I wanted to use. I found one that I like in the 651 area code, selected it, and Google assigned it to me right on the spot. Within 5 minutes it was working for me.

Now I have a Google phone number to give out to work related contacts. They don't need my real cell number (you'll see why shortly). I only give my real cell number to friends and family.

Cool--Next, I configured it to ring on my cell phone and my desk phone. That's right, when you call my Google phone number, it rings on both my desk phone and my cell phone simultaneously. (I can make it ring on more phone if I want, and can set up temporary ones too.) Which ever one I answer connects me to the caller. So, if I am at my desk and someone calls my cell phone, I can avoid using my plan minutes and answer it on my "land line".

The caller cannot see my real number, just my Google number. I can place outbound calls from the Google number using my cell phone too.

Even More Cool--I let Google Voice act as my voice mail for my cell phone. If I don't answer the call, the caller can leave a voice message. The service will then transcribe the voice message into text, and send it to my phone via SMS (text message).

Why is this so useful? Well, I try to practice pretty decent cell phone etiquette: I don't take calls in the car, during meetings or when conversing with someone face to face. But, since I am on call most of the time, I can wait for the text message to come through (which happens quickly after the caller leaves the voice message) and determine at a glance if it is something that I need to respond to immediately. If not, I can wait until I am finished with whatever I am doing at the time.

More Features
There are even more features to this phone number, such as call screening, custom greetings for individual callers or groups of callers, block lists, etc. I cannot comment on their utility, as I have not bothered to use them yet. The ability to ring on multiple phones and voice to text transcription make the application useful enough for me.

There Aint No Free Lunch
The service is in "Beta" stage right now, and is free (I don't have to pay for the number either). I don't know how google can afford to give it away, but, as long as they do, I'll take advantage of it. It is worth noting that the voicemails are stored on Google's servers, and that they actively scan all of the messages with their transcription tools. I suspect they are using these messages to test out their transcription software which they hope to "perfect" or optimize for speech to text web browsing.

Would I pay a fee for this service? you bet, if it was reasonable. I wont show my hand on this amount yet, but it sure is worth something to me.

More Info...
You can request a Google Voice account (it's by invite only right now) at but expect to wait a while to get your invitation to participate.

Chad Haatvedt

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Quality Web Based Shows Are Here!

Tired of channel surfing on your TV and not finding anything really worth looking at?

Well, some pretty decent original web shows are showing up on the internet. There are whole channels and services dedicated to providing great content. Most of the programs are shorter than traditional TV shows (well, maybe not too much shorter considering that 12 minutes of a half hour show are commercials).

Here are some of my favorites... has been hosting and showcasing independent shows since 2005. Lots of great content, you can search genres and it also has nice tools for content providers to publish their works.

Revision3 is one of the leading Internet television stations. They create and produce all original content in episode format. It is community driven. It too is searchable.

Miro is a handy tool for grabbing and watching Internet based programs. It is a free HD video player. It can play almost any video file and offers over 6,000 free internet TV shows and video podcasts.

Miro has a nice, easy to use interface designed for either regular or fullscreen HD video. Since Miro downloads most videos, you can take your shows with you, even on an airplane. Miro is 100% free and open source, developed by a non-profit organization and volunteers around the world.

How good is it?
There is lots of good content out there on these sites, but that does not mean it's all great. You'll have to plod around and see for yourself. There are program ratings, but I don't put much stock in them. Check out the featured programs, and explore genres that look interesting to you. The nice thing is that most of them are short, and there is a scroll bar in the player so you can fast forward to speed up the preview process.

Production quality ranges from decent to awesome. Even the worst is way better than the best youtube quality.

What you need to view this stuff.
You need a decent Internet connection (1.5Mbs or faster) to get a decent experience watching these programs. If you want to watch it full screen on your computer (or on a flat screen monitor hooked up to your computer) you need a pretty decent machine. Video rendering takes a good graphics card or a lot of CPU horsepower.

My Roku player has several of these channels so i can watch them on my TV set.

Prism -- Web apps installed on your computer

Would you like to be able to click an icon on your desktop or start menu and go right to your favorite web application like twitter, gmail, facebook, etc? If so, you might want to check out PRISM.

Prism is an application that lets users split web applications out of their browser and run them directly on their desktop. Prism opens up your applications (such as Facebook) without all of the regular browser menus, so in this case, only Facebook will run in the browser.

It is developed by the Mozilla folks (they bring you the Firefox browser) so it is a name you can trust.

Here's a screenshot of my Twitter page running in a Prism application. This is running in a "Firefox like" window, but it does not have all of the other baggage of a browser. No more opening bookmarks, tabs, extra browser windows to get to my Twitter page.

Prism apps run more stable and are less prone to bugs and browser crashes. If Firefox crashes, your Prism apps are not affected.

Learn more about Prism at

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How fast is your Internet Connection

You can test your Internet connection speed using a number of free services. Try them out and see how yours rates. It is recommended that you try a few services and connect to multiple remote servers and average the connections. Here are a few that we have used:
Remember, there are a couple of factors that can affect the results from the speed test sites.
  1. Traffic on your home network. If you (or someone sharing your home network) are downloading a bunch of stuff when you run the test, you are already using some of your capacilty, and your results will be lower than if the speed test were the only connection running at the time.
  2. Load on the test server's network connection. If the server you are connecting to is on a slow network, or if it is really busy, you might get slow test results. So, try several different servers, and look for the higher results.
Let us know how you fare.

PBT Goes Broadband!

On January 1, 2010, PaulBunyan Telepone upgraded their standard DSL service from 1Mb to 10Mb. Woo hoo!!!!

Prior to this upgrade, it was nearly impossible to watch any streaming video, such as HULU, MiroTV or Netflix. Even YouTube was choppy on the PBT network.

Now it is quite practical. Wonderful, in fact. You can stream a movie, download some podcasts and surf the web all at the same time. Thank you PBT!

Sorry for the long lag time...

It's been way too long since our last post. We'll make a commitment to keep things more current this year.