Chips, Soda and an iPod?

I’ve been noticing more and more vending machines stuffed with electronics lately.  A few weeks ago I had a layover in Atlanta and my gate was directly across from an iPod vending machine.  I figured I’d do some seat of the pants research, and see how many people would plunk down $200-$400 into a vending machine, and how long it would take to feed in all those quarters 🙂 (they take credit cards).  I was also interested to see what would happen if an item got stuck on the way down – I’ve seen people go ballistic for a $.50 candy bar that was stuck – imagine a $400 iPod.

Unfortunately in the hour+ I was there, nobody bought anything (though I was doing emails and other things, so it is possible I could have missed someone).  Using very advanced algorithms, I extrapolated that $0 in 1 hour = $0 / day = $0/month 🙂 and that maybe the machines were ahead of their time just a bit.  I assumed they probably got a few vends a week, but were more of a marketing and branding tool than anything else…

Boy was I wrong…

I just saw an article that says the (exact) machine I was watching does $55,000 a month in revenue – whoa!!  ZoomSystems, the company that owns the machine has 300 of them, including machines inside Macy’s.  The article is pretty neat and talks about demographics of their customer (busy travelers), their return policy, and how well their machines are doing.  I wonder how many folks have bought iPods at the last minute before thy jumped on a long flight, only to find they are pretty useless until you load up some music?

What’s the most expensive thing you have ever bought from a vending machine?  Would you plunk down $350 to a machine for an iPod ?  How about $1000 for a shiny new UMPC??

Windows Vista Hates Networks?

I received a Roku media player for Christmas, and wanted to hook it up to stream some holiday music right away.  Pretty simple install on the hardware side, plug it into AC, plug in a pair of speakers, and configure it for WiFi (or hardwire to the LAN) – total time <5 minutes – very nice.

I then remote desktoped into my main home PC, a Vista Ultimate box that lives upstairs in my office, to configure Media Player 11 for streaming to the Roku.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that Vista had already found the Roku device on the network, and was prompting me as to whether I would like to share media with it.  Wow – too easy – technology never works this well the first time!  I told Vista to stream to the Roku, and figured the hard part was over.  I then launched Media Player 11 to add songs and create playlists ( I generally use Media Monkey for managing and playing audio – I’ve had bad experiences in the past with Win Media Player screwing up my MP3 Tags).

I pointed Media Player to my NAS device, and told it to add all the tracks to the library.  With over 100Gigs of music and 30,000 tracks, I figured it would take a while so I’d check back later.  A few hours later all the songs were loaded, and seemed to play just fine in Media Player, so I created a few playlists.

I then scrolled through the menus on my Roku, and was easily able to locate the new playlists, but they all showed ‘0 Tracks’ – not good.  I then tried to scroll through artists, and saw that only the sample songs shipping with Vista showed up.  Weird.  Several reboots and Google searched later still no joy.  I’d now been ignoring holiday duties for at least an hour messing with this, so I gave myself 15 more minutes to find a solution.   Luckily I finally came across a forum thread (somewhere) that noted Vista would not stream music from network drives or shares – a few minutes later I found a registry hack to fix this (hope this helps save others the time I wasted):

right click HME and add new DWORD value
name it EnableRemoteContentSharing
make the Hex value a 1

What a mess.  I can certainly understand that this was done for security, DRM, or some other reason in Vista / Media Player 11, but not letting the user know this when they add network shares to the song library is just horrible.  Something as simple as “check out KB article 1234” would have been fine, but leaving users to search for a needle in a haystack to fix this deficiency is no good.

If Microsoft wants to own the ‘connected home’ and living room media center market like they do the desktop, they need to do some work in the UX (User Experience) department.  Some of my (non-techie) friends and guests ask “How would us normal people have ever figure that out?”   And they were right, but I guess most ‘normal’ folks wouldn’t have a 1TB NAS device in their home…yet 🙂

Oh, and yes, once I fixed Vista, the Roku Rocks!!

Deal of the Day – 1Gig SD Card – FREE is at it again with free flash memory devices.  This time it is a 1Gig SD (secure digital) card by Kingston (a very well respected brand).  Perfect for Cameras, MP3 Players, Digital Photo Frames, AND Windows Vista ReadyBoost on your laptop or Tablet PC.

There are $30 worth or mail-in rebates, but after those and Google Checkout, the cost is FREE.  This item has already skyrocketed to the number 1 seller on, so get them why they last.

Windows Live Writer & Images

Ink Generated with Ink Blog Plugin -

I’ve read several posts, and received even more emails over the past few months about folks having trouble publishing images to their blog service from Live writer.  It seems Blogger  users have the most trouble, but it is not limited to them.  This problem also applies to ink blogging from the plugin, since ink is converted to an image format for publishing.

There is one easy solution to this, and that is to publish the images to a third party FTP server.  There are many free services out there, and DriveHQ is one that I have tested with Live Writer, and gives away 1Gig for free!

Two caveats:

  • Outlook blocks the DriveHQ confirmation, and deposits it in the junk folder by default – make sure to look for it there
  • As with any ‘free’ service, make sure you keep your own backup of published images.  Just in case.

Hope this helps a few more people (with handwriting better than mine 🙂 ) to start ink blogging soon.

Get a FREE Copy of Forms2Base Pro – The Tablet PC eForms Solution

Today we are announcing our new eForms library (not much to look at, yet) which allows our Forms2Base Pro and Litecustomers to share and download eForms.  We thought this would be a great way to let folks get a jumpstart on using Tablet PCs and eForms, and also show off all the great forms they’ve created.  Users will be able to search and sort forms by industry and topic.

The holidays are coming a bit early – As a way to help ‘stock’ our new library, we have decided to provide an incentive for people to upload forms: We will give anyone who creates and uploads a form a FREE copy of Forms2Base Pro (Retail value $499)!   So download your free forms designer software, and get going – you have until January 31, 2007.

Please see the official details below.  I can’t wait to see all the great submissions I know we’ll get!

Get a FREE copy of Forms2Base Pro!

Submit a Form to the new eForms Library

Want to earn a free copy of Forms2Base Pro (retail value of $499)?  Simply submit a form to our eForms library by January 31, 2007 and you will get one free copy of Forms2Base Pro.  Submitted forms are made available to the Forms2Base user community at

Forms2Base has established an eForms library where Forms2Base users can download already designed forms for immediate use in their Forms2Base application.  Forms will be organized by industry and topic, and will consist of both Forms2Base Lite and Forms2Base Pro forms.  All forms in the eForms library are FREE for users to download and use.  Any downloaded eForm can be modified as necessary to support a user’s specific needs.

Help us build our library and get a free copy of Forms2Base Pro!

How to participate?

If not already using our Forms Designer software, download it FREE it at and design your forms.

Send an email to and attach your designed eForm to be included in the library.   Remember:  Any form submitted to the library is immediately available to others for their use.  All submitted forms will be made available at

After acceptance of your form you will be contacted via email with instructions for activating your free copy of Forms2Base Pro.

For a form to be accepted into the library, and to receive a free copy of Forms2Base it must meet the following simple criteria:

1) Form must be a complete, usable form that will provide value to others

2) Form must not contain any logos, proprietary information, or other material that may infringe on a copyright or trademark.

3) User understands that upon form submission, they are providing Field2Base, Inc a non-exclusive right to distribute the form via

4) Form may not duplicate an existing form in the library

5) Limit one free copy per user

Any questions on this promotion or with on the Forms2Base eForms library may be sent to

GottaBeMobile Guys Drop By…

Several weeks back Warner and Dennis from dropped  by the office while they were in town to say hello.

Somehow I missed the part about them coming to film an interview, but  they showed up with a camera and a few minutes of extra tape, so they did an InkShow interview with me.

We chatted about Tablet PCs, Cellular & Wireless,  the history of Field2Base and our newest product,Forms2Base , as well as the Ink Blog Plugin and Ink Search Tool (Which was still under construction at the time and referred to as the ‘secret project’)

It was great chatting with the guys and hanging out with other Tablet geeks, I’m just not used to being on camera 🙂

Thanks for stopping by guys, and for taking the time to produce the video!

Ink Search Tool for Tablet PCs & UMPCs Updated!! (Beta 2 release)

I’ve made many significant improvements and bug fixes to the Ink Search Tool, and publicly released Beta 2 today!  This release is much faster, and has many new features – Including Desktop Search! WooHoo!

For those unfamiliar with the Ink Search tool, this is a Tablet PC application that lets you write (‘ink’) search terms on your screen rather than typing or using the Tablet Input Panel (TIP).  A more general background can be found here.

Now for the good stuff….  New in this release:

  • Much faster with a lighter footprint
  • Full Windows Vista support (as well as Win XP)
  • Enhanced GUI updates (Very Vista / Office 2007 look, even on Windows XP)
  • Ability to search Google Maps
  • Google Desktop Search!!!
  • Wikipedia Search
  • Slight tweaking in the handwriting recognition
  • And of course, regular Google Search is still in here too

All of the new searches are enabled with a button called, More Searches, selecting that will give you a drop down with the additional searches.  Note: If you do not have Google Desktop Search (GDS) Installed, you will not see the Search Desktop option.

One really cool feature with searching Google Maps is that once you set your default location (via Google) you can enter a business name or type (ex: Computer Stores) and the search will show you the closest matches on the map.  Very neat!

Get the FREE Download Here

(Please uninstall Beta 1 first if you have it installed)

I’ll be adding some additional features soon!!  Keep Watching!

As always, I’d love to hear your input, feedback, and feature requests. Please get in touch here.

Deal of the Day – Free 1Gig USB Thumb Drive

All mobile warriors need USB memory drives – for backups, transferring data, and keeping our favorite utilities at hand. is offering a 1gig USB 2.0 thumb drive (pictured here) for free, after rebates and Google Checkout’s $20 credit.

Personally, I’m really bad with the rebates, but for those of you who aren’t, this is a great deal.  It is now the number 1 item on, so they probably won’t last long – hurry up and place your order!

Yak All You Want…

Great news for cell phone users (which is pretty much everyone, right?), Wireless Week is reporting that a Danish study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows no links between cell phone use and cancer.

Unfortunately, the study did not explain how or why society has been assimilated by the Borg and their devious Bluetooth headsets, or if there was any known cure for these faddish fashion statements devices.

Wii Have a Problem

I’m not a big gamer, but the concept of motion senseing reomtes on the new Nintendo Wii system seemed very cool…

Then, I found this , a site dedicated to the destruction of items caused by the remotes flying from peoples hands during game play.  Seems that the safty teather is not strong enough to contain a remote in action.  Not good.

Top broken items seem to be Plasma/LCD TVs folowed by A/V gear, Windows (glass, not the OS), and even a wine glass (Don’t drink and Wii?).

Seems that Nintendo is on top of getting the straps fixed, until then, let’s all be careful out there.