Bill Haenel

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Posted by Bill Haenel on 04-May-05

You heard it here first. Or maybe not. But this sure seems like cutting edge stuff to me.

On my recent vacation-return trip from Boston, MA to Canton, NY, I decided it was time for me to listen to internet radio in my car. Well, it's a van. A minivan. But that doesn't make me any less of a man, does it?

Anyway, Here's what I did:

  1. Mount my Treo 650 cell phone on the phone holder on the dash of my "car"
  2. Connect a 1/8" female to 1/16" male headphone plug adapter, purchased at Radio Shack, to the Treo 650's headphone jack
  3. Connect an iRock FM transmitter to the adapter and turn it on
  4. Turn on car radio, making sure to tune it to the iRock's selected frequency
  5. Using Blazer, the Treo's web browser, visit and click on the link for "Secret Agent Radio"
  6. On prompt, choose to save the downloaded file to P-tunes, then choose to "Save and open"
  7. Enjoy internet radio in my car

That was easy, wasn't it?

There really is no trick, except that sometimes VoiceDial doesn't like to play nicely with P-tunes and a headphone plug. I haven't figured out why yet, but it did eventually work itself out anyway. Also, the Treo tends to leak a bit of FM interference sometimes, causing a buzzing sound to come over the car speakers when the Treo is accessing the network. I've heard you can resolve this by making an aluminum foil "hat" for the Treo's antenna, but I haven't tried it yet.

"Good God, Bill, don't you know you're going to run up an incredible cell phone bill?"

Rest easy, my friend. Thanks to the modern miracle of Cingular Wireless' PDA DataConnect, it costs only a flat monthly fee for all internet access. So it's already covered, along wih my Email and web browsing, IM'ing, etc.

My final thought on this experiment is more about business than anything. I met with a few clients recently who all work in the broadcasting industry, specifically radio. A couple of them seemed very interested in knowing how wireless would fit into their future plans (aside from their regular FM terrestrial broadcast, that is). I did not have any specific answers, except to say that it seemed to me that cell phone technology was a great way to take the internet with you everywhere you go, and it is only now beginning to be explored in this country as a practical means for accessing the internet.

As more folks run out of their contracts, or whatever it is that causes them to choose to upgrade their phone next, they'll likely think about an internet-ready phone. Even if they don't get one, they'll know it's out there. And once folks figure out they can have the entire internet with them everywhere they go, they'll think of their cars, trains, bicuycles, and whatever.

Mobile internet isn't coming, it's here. But broadband...well, not so much. Will cell phone technology bring mobile broadband to the nation on a wide-spread basis before WiMAX does it? How about before satellite? Well, I don't know, but you can rest assured I'll be watching. 

In the meantime, if you see me driving, look out. I may be distracted while enjoying Groove Salad on the road.

(See all the images in The Images)

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