Tech Tip Tom, formerly of WIBC 93.1FM and

Month: April, 2013

Converting cassettes to MP3s


Converting cassettes to MP3s

So, in an effort to clean up my home office; I have been converting VHS tapes to DVD’s….  Then I discovered all the old cassettes of presentations I gave (and the tapes from the Karaoke bars!)…  Decided to convert those to MP3 files and get rid of (read, destroy!) the old tapes..

But how to do it??  Using my trusty search engine, I found many ways ( and costs) to accomplish this…

Of course, my favorite is free!  I already have the software Audacity, a free, open-source application available on Mac, PC, and even Linux.
I use it for my audio blogs and voice-over work…  So it was a simple matter of connecting the output from a cassette deck to an input on my PC.

I record an entire side in one pass using Audacity. Then, I divide and batch export tracks as MP3 files..  Finally, I can burn audio CD’s; or store to DVD’s for hysterical purposes..

It is a little bit of work, but it’s free, and it’s faster than most methods I’ve seen. It’s also not dependent on anyone’s for-profit software solution.

I will pay for software when it is the best for the job; but if open source is available and comparable, it’s for me!!

Samsung ATIV S



OS = Windows Phone 8

Display = 4.8” HD Super AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

Processor = 1.5 GHz dual-core processor

Memory = 16/32GB User memory + 1GB RAM,  microSD (SDXC support)

Battery = Standard battery, Li-ion 2,300mAh

Video = Codec: H.263, H.264, WMV, MP4, M4V, MOV; Full HD(1080p) Playback & Recording

Camera = Main(Rear): 8 Megapixel Auto Focus Camera with LED Flash; Sub(Front): 1.9 Megapixel VT Camera Has Bluetooth, USB, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 & 5 GHz),  Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Channel Bonding

OK, my thoughts on this device:  For a business phone, I felt this was a great fix.  Yes, a “smart” phone, with all the apps you need; especially Pocket Office. Word, Excel, etc. Using a microSD card I opened a Word document with ease. I wouldn’t want to draft or do much editing on the phone; but being able to read a doc is handy. The microSD slot is rated up to 32GB – added to the built-in 16GB mass memory, this is plenty of memory.

But it also has the X-Box app, for the gamer community… Or so I thought! I enjoyed checking out X-Box Music, X-Box Video, and reluctantly X-Box Games. I am not really a gamer.

Call quality on the Samsung ATIV S has very good loudness but somewhat mediocre clarity…  Very sharp display; this handset is a close clone of the Galaxy S III…

And watching videos was nice…  I used SkyDrive to  copy in a few videos; very easy. And I took MetroTube for a ride (from the Windows Phone Store) which worked very well. I also tested e-mail; which integrated with my office e-mail perfectly; including my calendar. Drove a few co-works bonkers when the ATIV S, my iPhone 5, and my iPad 3 all reminded me of meetings and such all at the same time!

Overall, I enjoyed this handset; although I found myself comparing it to the Galaxy and the HTC Windows Phone 8X.


Belkin WeMo


The Belkin WeMo is a home automation gadget that acts as a digital go-between. It works as a Wi-Fi-enabled adaptor for your lamps, televisions, irons; anything that has a plug.

You then connect it to your Wi-Fi network and it allows you to control the device plugged into it;  via an app on your Apple or Android-powered smartphone. I download the free app to my iPhone 5 and used it to turn on a light at my home while I was away.

Worked nicely!  I had connected to my neighbor/friends security camera via the Web; and then I watched the light turn on and off!

The WeMo also comes with a motion sensor as well..  I tested it: Turned the lights on when the motion sensor was activated; so I didn’t fall face first into the fridge!

The WeMo is safe, good-looking, easy to use, off-the-shelf hardware that you don’t need to hack to get it to automate your home.

Anything that has a plug can now be controlled via your smartphone. I played with turning the  lamp on and off when I set it up at home. And speaking of set-up: it’s possibly the easiest gadget to get going I have ever seen.

The motion sensor is great. It sets up the same way as the standard plug and you can use it to trigger events around your house. I set it up in my hallway, and set a rule that said if it detected motion activated after 11 pm it would trigger the light. Of course, I didn’t think about the dog setting it off…  Once I put the sensor up higher I was ready…  Forgot I set it up when I got up in the middle of the night; got quite a scare!

This is a fast, relatively inexpensive way to build your smart home…..  I recommend it; wish I didn’t have to give back the demo!

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

First the specs:  10.1 inch WXGA (1280 x 800) Screen, 1.4 Ghz processor, Quad Core.  Front camera 1.9 Megapixel, rear camera 5 megapixel. Has 4G network, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Weighs about a pound or so, about average for tablets.. 16 Gb storage, 2 Gb RAM…

I did a side-by-side comparison with this tablet and my iPad 3…  Other than knowing the differences between Android and IOS, these tablets are very similar….   The Galaxy Note 10.1 is slightly lighter and easier to handle than an iPad without a case..

A big plus is the microSD slot for up to an additional 32GB of storage; not something that Apple has ever offered….

The real difference is the S Pen… Using Wacom technology, this is so much more than a simple stylus… If you like to draw, this pen can understand hard or soft pressure to the screen….

Cameras are average, Skype conferences worked well….

Speakers gave great sound; I was surprised…

Really needs a USB port, as WiFi file transfers take a long time…

Since I had already tested the Samsung Galaxy Note phone, I had high expectations for the Note 10.1 tablet. This device is all I had hoped and more, and I consider myself very hard to impress.

So, folks who want to use a stylus with their tablet for real work or play, this is a great tool.  If you don’t need a stylus, the iPad, or a Google Nexus might fill the bill.

Binary Number System (from

Computers use binary digits. And some puzzles can be solved using binary numbers.

A Binary Number is made up of only 0s and 1s.


Example of a Binary Number

There is no 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9 in Binary!

How do we Count using Binary?



We start at 0


Then 1


But then there is no symbol for 2 … what do we do?


Well how do we count in Decimal?


Start at 0

Count 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and then…


This is the last digit in Decimal


So we start back at 0 again, but add 1 on the left

The same thing is done in binary …



Start at 0


Then 1


Now start back at 0 again, but add 1 on the left


1 more


But NOW what … ?


What happens in Decimal … ?


When we run out of digits, we …


… start back at 0 again, but add 1 on the left

And that is what we do in binary …



Start at 0


Then 1


Start back at 0 again, but add 1 on the left




start back at 0 again, and add one to the number on the left…
… but that number is already at 1 so it also goes back to 0 …
… and 1 is added to the next position on the left








Start back at 0 again (for all 3 digits),
add 1 on the left


And so on!

Decimal vs Binary

Here are some equivalent values:



































Here are some larger equivalent values:



















“Binary is as easy as 1, 10, 11.”


In the Decimal System there are the Units, Tens, Hundreds, etc

In Binary, there are Units, Twos, Fours, etc, like this:

This is 1×8 + 1×4 + 0×2 + 1 + 1×(1/2) + 0×(1/4) + 1×(1/8)
= 13.625 in Decimal

Numbers can be placed to the left or right of the point, to indicate values greater than one or less than one.

The number to the left of the point is a whole number (10 for example)
As we move further left, every number place
gets 2 times bigger.
The first digit on the right means halves (1/2).

As we move further right, every number place
gets 2 times smaller (half as big).

Example: 10.1

  • The “10” means 2 in decimal,
  • The “.1” means half,
  • So “10.1” in binary is 2.5 in decimal


The word binary comes from “Bi-” meaning two. We see “bi-” in words such as “bicycle” (two wheels) or “binocular” (two eyes).

When you say a binary number, pronounce each digit (example, the binary number “101” is spoken as “one zero one”, or sometimes “one-oh-one”). This way people don’t get confused with the decimal number.

A single binary digit (like “0” or “1”) is called a “bit”. For example 11010 is five bits long.

The word bit is made up from the words “binary digit

How to Show that a Number is Binary

To show that a number is a binary number, follow it with a little 2 like this: 1012

This way people won’t think it is the decimal number “101” (one hundred and one).


Example: What is 11112 in Decimal?

  • The “1” on the left is in the “2×2×2” position, so that means 1×2×2×2 (=8)
  • The next “1” is in the “2×2” position, so that means 1×2×2 (=4)
  • The next “1” is in the “2” position, so that means 1×2 (=2)
  • The last “1” is in the units position, so that means 1
  • Answer: 1111 = 8+4+2+1 = 15 in Decimal

Example: What is 10012 in Decimal?

  • The “1” on the left is in the “2×2×2” position, so that means 1×2×2×2 (=8)
  • The “0” is in the “2×2” position, so that means 0×2×2 (=0)
  • The next “0” is in the “2” position, so that means 0×2 (=0)
  • The last “1” is in the units position, so that means 1
  • Answer: 1001 = 8+0+0+1 = 9 in Decimal

Example: What is 1.12 in Decimal?

  • The “1” on the left side is in the units position, so that means 1.
  • The 1 on the right side is in the “halves” position, so that means 1×(1/2)
  • So, 1.1 is “1 and 1 half” = 1.5 in Decimal

Example: What is 10.112 in Decimal?

  • The “1” is in the “2” position, so that means 1×2 (=2)
  • The “0” is in the units position, so that means 0
  • The “1” on the right of the point is in the “halves” position, so that means 1×(1/2)
  • The last “1” on the right side is in the “quarters” position, so that means 1×(1/4)
  • So, 10.11 is 2+0+1/2+1/4 = 2.75 in Decimal

“There are 10 kinds of people in the world,
those who understand binary numbers, and those who don’t.”