Let’s get Geeky: ieGeek® WIFI Wireless OBD2 Auto Scanner Review (and Dash Command)

I’ll admit, this is a moment of me digging deep on what to write about, but I’m trying to keep these posts moving, if ever so slow.

I drive a Jeep. I drive an “older” Jeep (1998 TJ Sport). I LOVE my jeep . . .

Now, with that said, I really LOVE gadgetry (as readers know), and cars are no exceptions. My wife’s car swamps mine in terms of all the tech bells and whistles, so obviously I want to squeeze as much into my beloved 4×4 as I can. Until now, only a USB cable for my iPhone to a Sony CD receiver is all I could muster (must haves, FYI).

Last year, my engine light came on. As I knock on wood, I remembered I have never taken my Jeep to the shop in all these 15 years. All was running fine, so I was in the “if it aint broke…” mode. Still, seeing that red glow on my dash kept me wondering.

I called up to my local service center and asked how much a car scan would cost, to which they responded $75 . . . that was my answer for that.

Well, I had heard and further researched about the OBD (on board diagnostics port) on cars and found that most, if not all vehicles after 1996 contain these ports for technicians to use when diagnosing problems. Of course, anyone with a reader can access this. So, off to Amazon I go . . .

After not too many searches, I found the ieGeek WIFI Wireless OBD2 Auto Scanner. Many of the more expensive scanners were bluetooth, but this one stuck with wifi – at $16, it was worth a try to me. 2 days prime shipping and I was in business.

Now, there was one more expense – you need an app to talk to the scanner. I chose the well reviewed Dash Command app for $10. After loading the app, literally all there was to do was plug in the scanner under my dash and connect to it’s wifi signal. From there, the app connected and a world of information came to life.

I can now see all my speed, horsepower, gas mileage, compression . . . well, more than I need or want to know. This is loads of fun to see and fool with – well, except that I get about 15 mpg . . . that’s not fun.

Now, that would be enough, but the main mission wasn’t accomplished yet. Thankfully, resolving the engine light was worth the price of admission and then some. The app diagnosed my engine malfunction (catalytic converter sensor) and cleared it with ease. No more light and all is well . . plus I get to tinker with my stats on road trips and such – $26 spent and totally worth it.

So, there you go. I trust this will find somebody who’s in the same predicament . . . or just wants to see how poorly their old engine performs mileage wise!

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Google Chrome & Remote Desktop

OK, so it’s been over 8 months since my last post. Well, you’re gonna love me for this one and it’ll all be ok once you realize how great this new service from Google is!

I have been a lover of the Chrome browser pretty much ever since it was released. It’s fast, simply laid out, not full of extra features . . . oh, and did I mention BLISTERINGLY fast?! Not to mention that I can login to my Google account and see all of my bookmarks on any browser I sign in to (including my iPad). Yeah, it’s great living in the Google universe for now, at least.

Enter Google remote desktop
I have fooled around with LogMeIn and other programs that allow you access to your computer from another location. They’re ok and do the job fine, I guess, but I never really liked the logging in time constraints. It just seemed . . . well, not too smooth or enticing. With that said, I am typing this entire post via my desktop computer . . . from my laptop. And, there is absolutely NO lagging mouse or keyboard at this point. I realize I am on my wired network, so this post may change later on as I practice over the internet.

The bottom line is, I no longer have to switch my monitor over to another input and grab my other mouse and keyboard for things I need to do on my desktop. I already feel a huge relief there. What I REALLY am looking forward to is the fact that ALL of my computers can be seen from my Google remote desktop connection. Say I’m at a relative’s house and don’t want to take my laptop, desktop, etc. They’re all right there within the chrome browser to jump on any time I want. AAAAAND, there’s just a pin number to use once it’s all set . . . no search-to-find-login-page-and-enter-username-and-password-and-wait-to-connect-etc. I just click connect, enter the pin and viola, I’m seeing my other computer . . . thank you, Google . . . again.

Try it out below:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chrome-remote-desktop/gbchcmhmhahfdphkhkmpfmihenigjmpp

You’ll need http://www.google.com/chrome browser to access the plugin above.

Windows 8 Preview

Looks like Windows 8 is gonna be pretty slick:
http://theverge.vid.io/v/5b7e484a-6334-11e1-ab41-123139255418

Windows 7 Speech Recognition Revelation (Revolution?)

I’m a HUGE fan of the Dragon Dictation app for iOS. I use it almost daily to spit out a text or two. Also, I’ve used it’s companion search app for web search and such, but the dictation is as close as this iPhone 4 fella will get to Siri (and, it’s all I need – ignorance is truly bliss).
 
I’ve always seen the Dragon Naturally Speaking application for the computer, but never have tried to dive in. Well, I just heard about Windows 7speech recognition, so I thought I give it a try. I vaguely remember it’s announcement when Win 7 was launched, but kept that the back of my mind. After becoming reliant on the iOS app, I felt it might be handy to have speech recognition in my day to day routine on the computer. After about 10 minutes of going through the setup to allow windows to recognize my voice, it turns out that it’s pretty great! In fact, I’m dictating this whole post at this very moment. 
 
Although I’ve just been using this system this morning, I think it’s going to turn out to be pretty useful. I see using it mostly for dictating emails and long text, but it is actually nice to simply say “open a program” and see the program simply appear. OK, maybe it’s just geeky kind of stuff, but that’s right up my alley.
 
If you have a windows seven computer, it’s definitely worth checking out. In order to find out how to use it, click your start button and tie speech recognition. You should see what you need there. All Windows 7 versions have it, so knock yourself out!  

Spotify Revisited . . . and just got rocked.

UPDATED – Just noticed that it’s a 48 hour deal . . . then, can expand to 30 days.

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Man, I love those moments when something comes along that just . . . well, blows your mind. If you read my previous post about Spotify, you know I was pretty keen on the service. Well, I’m ending month number two of LOVING the steady stream of anything-I-want-at-any-time-for-free music. And, guess what? My mind just got blown even bigger.

Spotify is now open to the public (no longer invitation only) for US users. This is the point where you pause your reading, open a new window, and go sign up . . . seriously, NOW. I’ll wait.

OK, here’s where the next 6 months get really nice . . . then, it’s decision time. From what I hear, free users of Spotify can get the offline sync mode functionality in their smartphone app. So, this means you can get the Spotify app on your phone, log in, then it is seen by Spotify on your computer. You can then sync ANYTHING to your phone for as much space as you have.

Did I mention that this is done WIRELESSLY. And, it’s about the most flawless execution I’ve seen. I literally opened the app on my phone and a “sync playlists to iPhone” popped up on my computer screen. I selected the playlists I wanted to include and it started chugging away – pretty swiftly, I might add.

So, here I am excited all over again – six months should be plenty of time to see if I want to chunk down $9.99/month for all-you-can-eat music.

This is just plain awesome.

http://www.spotify.com

Spotify Experience

OK, so I’m done lamenting over my long, lost LaLa service . . . it let me listen to all sorts of new music and decide if I like it (then, I’d go grab it to purchase and actually felt gooood about it). So, then Apple comes along and gobbles them up . . . thanks alot.

So, I heard news of our friends across the pond having this super-fantastic service called Spotify. There, they could pay a fee and get all-you-can-eat service . . . still, something about the “rental” model just didn’t seem to thrill this “old-school” music consumer (even if I have adopted MP3 downloads pretty heavily lately).

Then, yesterday, I get my invite to spotify (it was hidden in my spam filter – woohoo!). Now, you might ask, “did he just jump into the paid model of service?”. Nope. Ready for this? So far, the free version is every bit as good as LaLa’s old service . . . AND, I can play the files again! LaLa would limit to 30 seconds after the first full listen. Right now, I’m jamming out to the Marty Stuart Ghost Train Sessions with wreckless abandon (pretty good, btw, BTrain).

So, looks like happy days are here again . . . if you work at your computer all day – I can leave this humming through my speakers as I work. Now, the paid version ($9.99/month) would let me dump any and all music to my iPhone, but I’m gonna stick right here for a while . . . this is pretty dad blame sweet.

www.spotify.com

LM

Google Chrome Angry Birds

Well, color me unproductive . . . Google has just released a free version of Angry Birds for their Chrome Browser web store . . . head to http://chrome.angrybirds.com/ to start your addiction today.