4 min read

Toy box heaven with an iPod

The screen is small but it's still fun

Joy is in toy box heaven, playing with her new Video iPod.

This is our first iPod, even though it’s Apple’s fifth generation. We’ve been holdouts because of all the other great music players out there, but we were finally driven to get it. It was partly because creating accessories for the iPod has become a new industry, and we were getting a product pitch a day about some gadget that you just have to have or the iPod police would ticket you for “mopery with intent to creep.” These accessories turn out to be mostly junk, but the gizmo itself is pretty cool.

Who knew that watching a movie on a screen half the size of a playing card could be enjoyable? We went to iTunes.com from our desktop computer and clicked on “movies.” We paid $1.99 to download an amusing Danish animated short, and the next time we plugged our iPod into the computer, the movie moved right over. We also brought in a lot of free National Public Radio broadcasts and National Geographic videos by clicking “subscribe” from the podcast directory at iTunes.

iPod Accessories

We’ll skip the jeweled cases and pearl necklace cords for dangling your iPod and move right to iWear, a set of high-tech glasses available for $250 (all prices U.S.) from icuiti.com. Plug ’em in, put ’em on and you look like the creature from the Purple Planet. What they do is project a kind of fighter pilot heads-up display that simulates the Video iPod screen as if it were a 44-inch TV screen. The pitch is that you can not only watch a movie on this virtual big screen instead of your iPod’s tiny screen, but no one else can watch what you’re watching.

Of course, the picture was coarse and grainy, and if you had bought a TV with a 44-inch screen that looked this bad, you would storm the return counter the next day. Wearing the special glasses made us feel a lot of sympathy for the Man in the Iron Mask.

And there’s the price: We wouldn’t pay $20 for these glasses, let alone the $250 asking price. If you want a bigger picture from your iPod, why not watch it on a real TV screen, which you can do using a $19 cable available at the Apple.com online store. Or, you could just turn on the TV and see what’s on.

News You Can Use

Congoo.com is a news aggregator that will put together recent stories in categories you select and put them on a Web site it creates for you. Select a category, like the environment, science, technology, politics, etc., and Congoo creates what it calls a “news circle.” Stories that fit your subject areas are collected from the usual suspects: The New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, Variety and 25,000 free sources. Some major publications are not covered; most of the content of The Wall Street Journal, for example, is available only by subscription.

The service includes tools for blogging and sharing thoughts with others in a public or private forum. You can add your name to the Web site address for your news circle. The service is free.

A Blogging We Will Go

About half a million new blogs are being added to the Web every day. So don’t be left behind. Let the world know what you think about old movies, politicians and the current dreadful state of manners and morals.

 In short: A blog is a blog is a blog. Venting is in. We found a new and free way to create a blog that can practically be handled in your sleep. It’s at a Web site called OurStory.com. Sign up and it will not only host your blog, but it will also send you a question a day to prompt you to enter more content.

For example: “What places did you go as a child?” “What were your favorite toys?” And, “Did you ever receive any advice that turned out to be good?” You fill in the answer, and it goes into a timeline on a Web site created especially for you. You can also add pictures and videos. We chose a picture of a nice pastoral scene that reminded Joy of Hilltop Lakes, Texas, where she went as a child. Other timelines can be listed in categories like “love story,” “travel story,” “family story,” etc.

You can make your blog completely private, a kind of memory box for your own enjoyment, or share it with the world or restrict it to friends and family who have the access password.

The layout for OurStory.com is quite nice, with tabs for stories, photos and questions and answers. You can click “Explore” to read a featured story of the day. We duly clicked and read a story about the end of comic book hero Captain America, who appeared in a Marvel comic book series from 1941 until March 2007; the blog’s appearance marked the last day of the comic book’s publication. You can choose to turn your own story into a professional-quality bound book for $20.

Get Those Photos Off The Phone

For $4 a month you can send photos directly from your camera phone to KodakGallery.com, using Exclaim’s Pictavision service. Pictavision will make prints for 15 cents apiece, and you can pick them up at drugstores or have them mailed.

To find out if the service is available on your phone, go to Pictavision.com, click “get it,” and select your carrier and phone model from a drop-down list. It didn’t have our Ericsson w800 phone, but it has most other kinds of BREW, Java and Symbian-based camera phones.

Copyright 2007 Universal Press Syndicate