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Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on But wait, there's More »

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    Gadget I Had Picked For Today ---- or unopened package just delivered?  

    Thursday, October 1, 2009 ---   Netcast 929    

    This was one of those days where Leo let the folks in the chat room who were watching us record the Daily Giz Wiz decide if I should talk about the gadget I had planned for the day, or if I should open the box that was just delivered and make that the gadget of the day. Everyone voted for the “surprise package”!

    It turned out to be quite a neat gizmo, something new from Verbatim. It’s the InSight Portable USB Hard Drives with Always On Display. To prove that the “always on display” was really always on, when I opened the box, the screen read: “Verbatim 297GB free”. That’s what the InSight Hard Drive does, displays drive name and available free space, even when disconnected. It has a sleek piano black finish. You can customizable the drive name, so if you have several drives one could be “business”, one “music”, one “photos”, etc. This new palm-sized external hard drive lets Windows and Mac users instantly add 320GB or 500GB of removable memory to their notebook or desktop system.  Your personalized drive’s name, along with the free space, shows on the 32 x 128-pixel display even when the drive is unplugged from everything. Both the 320GB and 500GB drives include Nero BackItUp Essentials. This software allows full, automatic system backup and restore functions. Nero BackItUp Essentials also features data encryption with password control options. So you can have peace of mind when traveling or storing the drive. The InSight Portable Hard Drive weigh less than 6 ounces (164 g), and measure 6 in. X 3.4 in. X 0.63 in. (153 mm x 87 mm x 16 mm). The 2.5” drives have a 5400rpm spindle speed and 8MB of cache memory to optimize performance. USB 2.0. Available through Verbatim or retail partners such as Best Buy. Suggested retail prices are US$119.99 for the 320GB drive and US$149.99 for the 500GB drive.

     Hear this Netcast:


    A software program that helps you write that book hidden inside you!

    Wednesday, September 30th, 2009, Netcast 928

    So you’ve been wanting to write a book for years, but you can’t stand staring at that blank page. Here’s a program that just might help Here’s info from their website which I find very exciting! FastPencil is a free self- publishing platform that allows authors to write, share, publish and sell their books. And now it offers writers the new Color Book Creator, perfect for projects such as children’s books, cookbooks, comic books and coffee table books. The enhanced FastPencil Marketplace provides members with the ability to promote their projects. It’s a place for authors, illustrators, graphic designers, editors and anyone else involved in the book-writing process to market themselves and offer their services to other FastPencil community members. Aspiring writers have access to an end-to-end solution that enables them to write a book, share their work and publish hardcover, paperback, Kindle or e-books instantly. Once the book is complete, the FastPencil self-publishing wizard steps authors through the process of formatting their projects. The distribution functionality then allows writers to sell their books direct to customers or through outlets such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You select from a variety of book templates: Personal Memoir, Great American Novel, Children’s Book, Cookbook, Comic Book, Coffee Table Book, Photo Book (wedding, vacation, reunions,etc.), even Blog to Book

    I spoke to the folks from FastPencil and they said a person can self publish and buy a single copy if they want, for as little as $10! But they offer all sorts of professional services if you need help. Check their website for pricing and availability. But you don’t need to pay anything to start your book & use their templates. I’ve started my own book at FastPencil: The 237 Most Memorable People I ever met!

     Hear this Netcast:  


    Leo finds an really excellent buy!!!!

    TTTT, September 29th, 2009, Netcast 927

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 

    Leo loves his new Motorola Bluetooth Headphones, model S805. Once you pair these with your Bluetooth cell phone you can listen to music in full stereo. If the phone rings it will automatically switch over to the caller and must the music. When the call is over, the music comes back up. The headphones also allow you to control music from your phone (of course your phone has to support the proper protocol). If it does, & Leo’s iPhone does, so he can go forward and backward through various music tracks and control the volume. There is also a jack on the headphone so you can plug in the supplied cable and use them as regular corded headphones. They charge via USB.  Leo demonstrated the call quality by calling himself through the headphone mic and putting the output from his answering machine on the air. I could hear some echo, but that was probably because Leo was both talking and listening at the same time. Okay, on to the knockout excellent buy part! On the Motorola site it looks like the S805 sold for as much as $200. They’re no longer available on that site, but Leo found them on Amazon for ----- READY?  $33! I checked on Sunday, September 27th and they still were available at that price! (Plus S&H) Most likely a new version is on the way, but that is one heck a deal!

    Hear this Netcast:


    Hey, I invented that!

    Monday, September 28th, 2009

    It started with an email from Ian in Sydney, Australia.  He told me about a device he bought that – from the outside of your house – it makes it look like the family is watching TV.   Here’s part of his email: It's a led light that imitates the flashing, intensity and colour changing of a TV as seen indirectly through a window.  At first I was suspicious this was a scam or something, but shelled out for one. It is smaller than the picture makes out but is bright enough to do as described.  Ian, Sydney Australia.

    The gizmo is called FakeTV and yes, it’s designed to make it look like someone is home watching television! The company says the effects of scene changes, fades, swells, flicks, on-screen motion, and color changes and more are faithfully reproduced, and look just like they came from a real TV. The computer controlled, super-bright multi-color LED light output equivalent to a typical 27" HDTV LCD television. And they point something you may not know: Most digital televisions do not work with timers-- they turn on with push buttons. So that means you can’t use your own TV to go on & off when you’re not home. What I did years ago was put a bunch of flashing Christmas light on some tin foil. It was to decorate a fireplace in the summer, but one night I left it on when I was out. When I came home it looked like someone was inside watching TV! The commercial version is called FakeTV. It can be set to DUSK +4 HRS or DUSK +7 HRS or just plain ON. Just place it in a room so that you can see the light from the FakeTV from outside, but you cannot see the FakeTV unit itself.  Plug into the wall using the included adapter.  The built in light sensor will turn FakeTV on at dusk, and the unit turns off after a switch selectable 4 or 7 hours. The company could be right when they say: Burglars will almost always circle a home once before entering.  They are looking for the easiest way in, and looking for signs of life.  FakeTV gives them just those signs!  Few burglars will enter a home that they think is occupied. There’s a video of the product at the company website. It sells for $39.99, but do a web search. Sometimes other sources like Home Shopping Network sell it for $10 less!

    Hear this Netcast: 


    Another trip to the “Mail Order Rip-off” corner of Dick’s Gadget Warehouse.

    Back to Dick’s Gadget Warehouse Friday. September 25th, 2009

    Let’s take a look at an ad from 1986, some 23 years ago. Here are the highlights of this “stupendous” offer!

    Here’s thrilling excitement for everyone with this collection of prehistoric dinosaurs at this low, low, price of just $2.98 plus $1 postage and handling charges!

    Command these fun-loving prehistoric monsters to your every prank.

    Toss them in the air, they will always land on their feet, swinging and swaying in every direction without tilting over.

    One-piece molded quality latex, colorful.

    Great for children! Terrific for parties! Colossal for adults!

    So order right now for stupendous fun. You take no risk because you must agree that these prehistoric giants are everything we say or your money promptly refunded.

    The most exciting gift a child can receive! Stupendous!  (End of ad copy.)

    As you can see, what you got for your money was merely 7 color balloons. To make it worse, the "Dinosaurs" were merely stamped onto the balloons. They did come with poorly printed cardboard feet that you inserted the knotted end of the balloon into. But kids seeing the illustration in that ad would be heart broken at what showed up in the mail! It reminds me of a commercial that runs today where they give a kid a great toy like a truck – and then take it away and give him a picture of a truck. I hate that commercial!

    Hear this Netcast: