The Bluetooth Totem Pole

Bluetooth - FM Bridge

Bluetooth – FM Bridge v2.0

I’ve owned the Citroen for eighteen months now and for most of that time I’ve been plugging a strange contraption (above) into its cigarette lighter socket.  Like most modern cars the radio/cd player is highly integrated into the car’s systems, being used to display more than just the time and track on its remote display, therefore it’s not recommended (though not impossible with the right adaptor) to replace it.

Putting an aftermarket cd player would also spoil the lines of the dashboard so if I wanted to do more than play cds I had to come up with an alternative solution to playing my music from my phone through the radio.  First I tried a plug-in FM transmitted which worked well enough but it was a bit of a faff, plugging in various cables, next came a simpler FM transmitter that plugged directly into the top of the phone, powered by a splitter cable.  Better but not perfect – I want less cables.  I had a small bluetooth receiver and I could plug the transmitter into that, power both with a splitter and voila, bluetooth from the phone to the adaptor, FM to the radio.

Bluetooth - FM Bridge Mk1

Bluetooth – FM Bridge v1.0

Still not ideal though, it was a bit untidy – plus the button on the Bluetooth made it too easy to redial the last number used instead of switching it off.

Next, by chance, I bought a usb-powered bluetooth receiver (the white bit in the middle) from China on Ebay for a few quid.  After wondering why I’d bought it other than the fact that I thought it was a cool thing the lightbulb moment happened.  If I got a three-port car USB power supply I could plug a lead to the phone in, the USB Bluetooth Receiver and finally with a very short USB lead, the FM transmitter that plugged into the top of the bluetooth receiver. In one neat tower that plugs into the lighter socket I have everything I need.  I don’t have to switch this one on and off even, if it’s left in the socket it all comes on with the car’s ignition.

The phone is set up to automatically launch the music app and start playing music as soon as it detects and connects to the Bluetooth adaptor and I can control the volume of the radio from the steering wheel while swiping the screen to change tracks.

Now, of course, you can buy the same setup as a single device that attaches to your dashboard but it was still immensely satisfying to make something that did the job from these various disparate modules – all bought for a few quid each off Ebay.  The joy of tinkering is still with us.

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The Black Hole of Knowledge (and Adventure)

Books

Books (Image Courtesy of Serif)

One advantage of a paper book on a bookshelf (or a to-read pile, depending on how tidy/organised you are) is that you don’t forget you’ve bought it.

While recently considering my nature and my problems with small-talk and even with publishing my thoughts on this very blog I started thinking again about the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking and I thought “I must get that” so I looked through my entire Amazon wish list where I was sure I’d logged it but it wasn’t there. I was briefly puzzled and searched for it. When the page came up there were the words “You purchased this item on November 1st 2015” – of course I had, it’s sitting on my Kindle, forgotten because it’s not sitting visibly in front of me.

I do love reading, as much as writing, and I haven’t been doing it as much as I’d like recently for various reasons including the old favourite of “not having time” – i.e. not making time, but at least if you have something in front of you, taking up space, it can prod you occasionally to pick it up and do something with it. So it seems that Kindle is also both wonderful but also a procrastination tool par excellence.

Now you could say that these two things make the Kindle (and other e-book readers) a potential voyage of discovery into piles of books bought on a whim, clicked on because they were free, or randomly downloaded while drunk but left alone it’s potentially also  a black hole of unlearned knowledge and undiscovered worlds.

Check your libraries regularly people.