Goodbye Radioshack, My Old Friend

Today I stepped foot into my regional RadioShack as it approached the final few hours of existence, being one of 1,784 stores to close as a result of the bankruptcy. Growing up, RadioShack was the only tech outlet in my hometown. Many fond memories were made as I'd bike to the store repeatedly to play on their showcase computers or explore any number of other technical toys and gadgets in the 1990s. I recall spending hours playing one of the preloaded games their machines to claim the high score, the name of which escapes me now [it was similar to Snake but you simply kept growing and didn't need to collect any items].

One of my earliest computers was a (Radioshack) Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 2, which contributed significantly to my initial programming developments.  I had the Logo Programming Language cartridge and with it was able to create many goofy designs by programming the on-screen turtle to move in specific patterns. The included BASIC manuals proved to be an endless source of inspiration and knowledge in my youngest days of application development.  My first MIDI-capable electronic keyboard also came from RadioShack and remains in active use today.  In fact, I accumulated quite a number of RadioShack merchandise over the course of two decades including scanners and radios, RC cars, joysticks and peripherals, handheld games and many miscellaneous items. Read Full Article

Review: Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter

A potpourri of HD wireless broadcasting technologies have emerged over the past several years. This should come as no surprise given the increase in mobile device usage and heightened portability initiatives by all the big players.  Recent Apple products all support AirPlay for wireless broadcasting, which is delightful unless you need to branch off into non-Apple territory.  Intel has long promoted its own Wireless Display (WiDi) tech, and put a huge emphasis on all things wireless during its IDF 2014 keynote—expanding the mix to include WiGig (wireless peripherals connectivity) and Rezence (wireless charging technology).

Then there is Miracast, a protocol and certification program by the Wi-Fi Alliance for transmitting HD signal between devices, wirelessly.  Miracast has become quite prominent, with over 3,400 devices now Miracast-certified.  Modern Android, Blackberry and Windows phones support the Wi-Fi Direct protocol and thus can embrace Miracast for wireless streaming.  Properly equipped laptops and PCs, especially those running Windows 8.1+, can also take advantage of the Miracast protocol to mirror and broadcast the display to other devices, no cables needed. Intel's WiDi technology has, in essence, been merged into Microsoft's Miracast implementation of Windows 8.1.  Therefore, any Windows 8.1 device that supports WiDi 3.5+ will also support Miracast for desktop. Read Full Article

I Type 110+ Words Per Minute—The 'Wrong' Way

Touch typing has been taught the same way since the advent of the QWERTY keyboard. You start with your fingers on home row [ASDF - JKL;] and, by moving each finger along its vicinity of keys, you can effectively reach them all.  I was instructed to type in this manner throughout all of my academic studies from elementary school onward; I have always hated this technique.

Very early on I had developed my own spontaneous approach to touch typing. I don't rely on any formal home row and my pinkies mostly just chill out, with my index and middle fingers taking on the bulk of the work. Using my own approach over the formalized standard, I have always been a very fast typist. Below is a video of me taking a two-minute, randomized English sentence timed test (courtesy of, with the end result being 113 WPM (Words Per Minute) and 565 CPM (Characters Per Minute). Read Full Article

Spammy Scam: Domain Expiration Notice

Over the years I have established a fair number of email accounts, the oldest of which have long been overtaken by spam to the point that checking them is a futile endeavor. Rather than just shift-deleting all of the messages, however, I thought it might prove fun to technically analyze some at random.

RE: Notification – Registration Registration

Today’s scam email is allegedly1 brought to you by “Customer Contact Manager – PO Box 4668 New York, NY 10163.” Read Full Article

Thrift Store Gold: Sony ICF-2010 Radio for $3

ICF-2010 Shortwave Radio

The Discovery

When searching for a cheap AM/FM radio this past week, my mom stumbled across one at Goodwill amidst a shelf of electronic rubble. It carried a price tag of $5.99, but all pink tags were half-off, bringing the grand total to $2.99—that's $3.16 with tax. To put this into perspective, she paid a dollar less for this radio than the cost of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds. Not bad. However, there was no way to test the radio at the store and, until getting home and conducting a little research, she was oblivious to what type of radio she had purchased.

The radio she acquired was, in fact, the highly sought after Sony ICF-2010 shortwave radio introduced in 1985 for $319 [that's $702 with today's inflation].  Sony manufactured the radio for nearly two decades before discontinuing it in 2004.  As a portable shortwave radio, it boasted impressive capabilities for DXing hobbyists and accrued a large fanbase over the years. As a testament to the ICF-2010's longevity and impact, an active Yahoo Group of over 2,600 members still exists, with more members joining daily. Since being discontinued, the radio has thrived on eBay with most selling for $200-$400 depending on their condition. Read Full Article