How to Use a Plantronics Bluetooth Headset with Mac OS X

Plantronics makes top-rated bluetooth headsets that are super light, sound great, and look really cool. I recently acquired the Plantronics Voyager PRO because it lets me connect with both my iPhone and my computer.

That means I can use it on the road for hands-free phone conversations in my car, and I can also use it for Skype calls on my computer (or with my VoIP softphone that lets me dial anywhere in the world over the internet, without paying long distance rates). You can get a Plantronics bluetooth headset here on Amazon for under $70.

Connecting the Plantronics Voyager to my iPhone was a complete breeze, but getting it to work with my computer took a little persistence and eventually an operating system upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6.8. It turns out there was an incompatibility with OS X version 10.6.6 and the Plantronics headset, that wouldn't let it be recognized as an audio device no matter what I tried.

Fortunately, upgrading to OS X 10.6.8 solved the problem, and here are the steps I took to connect my Plantronics Voyager PRO to my Macbook Pro and use it as the audio device for Skype, iTunes, or any other sound application:

1. Upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

Transfer iPhone Voice Memos to Your Computer

The iPhone's built-in Voice Memos app has been a useful addition ever since it was bundled with iPhone OS 3.0. It lets you record audio snippets and play them back later, and you can send them to yourself or others using the built-in email sharing feature.

It's not entirely clear how to use the Voice Memos app though, or how to send a voice recording to someone via email - let alone figure out how to transfer a voice recording to your computer.

Here are the steps for 1) recording audio with the Voice Memos app on your iPhone, 2) sharing those audio snippets using email, and 3) transferring those audio files to your computer:

1. Record audio with the Voice Memos iPhone app:

Open the Voice Memos app on your iPhone and tap the button on the left to start recording. You can talk into the microphone or place it near what you're trying to record.

Tap the button on the bottom right to stop recording, and tap it again to see a list of voice memos that you've recorded.

2. Share recorded audio clips using email:

Tap the arrow next to each audio clip to view options for sharing that clip.

Tap the "Share" button and select "Email" to send the audio clip as an email to yourself or someone else.

3. Transfer recorded audio clips to your computer:

If you have a large audio recording, you won't be able to share it using email. For example, the audio clip I recorded above was for over 50 minutes and was about 24 MB in size - far too large for email, and my iPhone wouldn't let me send it.

In this case, when the audio file is too large to share using email, then you'll need to transfer the audio file to your computer using iTunes.

Turn Off Windows Live Messenger For Good

One thing that really annoys me are programs that Windows thinks everyone should have running on their system - regardless of whether you want them or not.

Windows Live Messenger is one such program that automatically runs when Windows7 starts up. Messenger is a chat program from Microsoft that runs in the background and consumes precious system resources (memory) and slows down Window's start up routine. It's also an annoying popup when you first start Windows.

Here’s how to disable and turn off auto-start of Windows Live Messenger.

1. Click anywhere on the Messenger login or chat screen and press the "Alt" key to make the menu visible:

2. Click the "Tools" -- "Options" menu.

3. Select "Signin from the left side list of options, and uncheck the "Automatically run Windows Live Messenger when I log into Windows" option.

Save your changes and Windows Live Messenger won't start the next time you restart Windows.

How to Access Facebook and YouTube using your Wii

Did you know you can use your Wii for more than just playing games?

Nintendo packed a lot of useful features into the Wii such as the ability to connect to the Internet over a wireless network. Once you have your Wii connected, you can browse the web using the built-in Opera web browser on the Wii, and can access websites like Facebook and YouTube.

First, let's walk through the steps for connecting your Wii to your home wifi network. My 10-year-old son Regan figured out how to do this, and here's the steps to take.

Turn on your TV and start up your Wii. Select Wii Options from the main menu.

Next Select Wii Settings.

Scroll to the right through the Wii Settings until you see "Internet".

Select "Connection Settings".

Choose the first option for "Connection 1".

Select "Wireless Connection".

Select "Search for an Access Point" and then select "Use this connection" when you find your wireless network name.

The steps listed above will connect your Wii to the Internet and now you're ready to install the Internet Channel, which will install a web browser and let you view sites like Facebook and YouTube.

Go back to the main Wii menu and select the "Wii Shop Channel".

Click "Start Shopping" and then choose the "Wii Channels" option.

Plug your laptop into your car's cigarette adapator

I recently took a road trip from Portland to Seattle and needed to keep my laptop and wifi access point charged along the way, so I could finish up some work while my wife drove.

Laptops and other devices run on 120V AC electrical power from a home or office outlet, whereas output from an automobile cigarette lighter is 12V DC power. It takes a power inverter to convert the DC power to AC power.

I found a DC to AC power inverter shaped like a coffee mug that slips easily into my car's cup holder. It comes with an adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and has a regular 3-prong grounded outlet along with a USB port for charging other devices.

This compact device cost me $25 and did a decent job of keeping me charged on the 4 hour road trip.

There were a couple of surprises though.

It has a built-in cooling fan, which I learned is a little noisy. Not loud enough to be heard over freeway driving speeds, but was noticeable when we turned off the car during rest stops.

The unit would also shut off occasionally, as if recovering from it's labors and waiting for a breather. Maybe because it was overheating?

You can buy different versions of power capacities for DC to AC inverters, with the lowest being in the 100 - 150 watt range like the one I bought.