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Jim Bray: Offbeat high-tech gift ideas

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com website in Calgary

Jim Bray offers a couple of offbeat gadget ideas for the hard-to-buy-for people on your holiday shopping list.

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Jim Bray: Printrik Bluetooth mobile printer

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com website in Calgary

A few weeks back I told you how I was getting sucked into the world of Bluetooth, thanks to those little ear sets that let you use the cellphone more safely while driving. Well, wouldn't you know it, I've discovered another Bluetooth device that adds terrific convenience to the traveler. It's the PS900 Printstik from Planon, the people who make the tiny Docupen handheld scanner. The Printrik is a mobile printer that uses Bluetooth to interface with similarly enabled notebook computers and Blackberrys.

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Jim Bray on Cardo's S-800 cellphone headset

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com website in Calgary

You've probably noticed the proliferation of Bluetooth wireless telephone adapters that fit right over a person's ear. I've always thought they looked silly, making you look like a zombie controlled remotely via the ear unit. As much as I'm a tech kinda guy, the curmudgeon - and the paranoid - in me has a built in aversion to such devices. And that's before I remember how silly people look walking down the street apparently talking to themselves.

Then Cardo sent me one of their Bluetooth cell phone adapters to test, and now I like the concept so much I'm probably as annoying as a reformed cigarette smoker - except now it's me who looks silly walking down the street talking to myself.

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Jim Bray: Putting Spinspotter through the wringer

Money Talks is a daily business column from CBC radio.

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com website in Calgary

What does it say about people's perception of the news media that a company believes it may profit from a product that calls out the media on your behalf?

Yet here comes Spinspotter, a Seattle-based company with a similarly-named product in, so they claim, very beta form. Spinspotter is a plug in for Firefox 3 – and unfortunately that's the only browser it'll work with, though their website promises a version for Microsoft's Internet Explorer is coming. When this so-called Spinoculars" stumbles
upon a whopper, it highlights the text in question. Move your cursor over it and you can bring up an explanation of the spin Spinspotter supposes it spotted.

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Jim Bray: Do drivers really need electronic babysitters?

Money Talks is a daily business column from CBC radio.

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com website in Calgary

If you think Big Brother's watching you now, you'll love this. Proposals on both sides of the Atlantic ocean could mean the powers that be will be able to track you - and maybe even control you - when you're out and about in your favourite set of wheels.

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Jim Bray: Canada's sound master, Floyd E. Toole

Money Talks is a daily business column from CBC radio.

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com web site in Calgary

The annual CEDIA trade show wrapped up in Denver recently, a fact that may bring a rousing round of "so whats" to people who don't live and breathe Custom Electronic Design & Installation - which is a fancy way of saying built in audio/video and home automation systems.

But what you might find interesting is that the group behind the CEDIA event chose this year's show to honour a Canadian innovator for his lifetime of achievement in the field.

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Jim Bray: EcoJohn a new take on an old idea

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com web site in Calgary

Leave it to technology and ingenuity to solve some of life's most pressing problems. In this case, thanks to the folks at Global Inventive Industries, the question of how to use a water closet when there's no water around has been answered - and these inventors of the EcoJohn are undoubtedly flushed with success.

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Jim Bray: A gadget inspired by Enron

By Jim Bray, writer of the Technofile.com web site in Calgary
(Listen to the original audio)

Have you ever found yourself in possession of sensitive documents you don't want to be caught with? If so, you might be interested in the Ziszor, a portable hand-held document shredder you can use to get rid of those compromising documents you just stole from a competitor's safe and photographed with your cellphone camera.

Of course you could also use it for more mundane uses such as protecting yourself from the scourge of identity theft, but where's the fun in that?

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Jim Bray: Will downloads kill the video store?

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

A while back I told you about how, now that the format war for high definition discs is over, some people are predicting that Blu-ray may lose the war for consumers' dollars ultimately, thanks to competition from video downloading.

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Jim Bray: Newest ad format is lighter than air

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

Is there nowhere we can go any more to get away from being bombarded by ads?

Look, I know advertising makes the world go 'round, and I don't mind accepting a certain amount of advertising if it means my favourite TV and radio programs don't cost me an arm and a leg. But I object to ads when I'm paying for a product - such as the commercials they make you sit through at the movie theatres I no longer frequent. And it's getting to the point where you can't even walk outside on a sunny day without ads rearing their ugly heads at you.

One of the latest ideas for capturing the retinas of an unsuspecting public is called Flogos, which is short for Flying Logos. Invented by a couple of special effects whizzes, the system consists of a little cloud generating machine that creates flying logos up to about four feet in size.

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