Hands-free Talking & Driving in California

Do you currently use a cellphone while driving your car?  Did you know that starting on July 1, 2008,  a new law in California will go into effect that requires the use of a hands-free device when talking on the cellphone while driving?  Like most people, I don’t make it a habit (my #1 pet peeve as well), but I do periodically have a need to make 1 or 2 phone calls.  To comply with the new law, I decided to look into a couple hands-free options that suit my lifestyle.

There are numerous hands-free technology solutions in the marketplace.  I concentrated my search on Bluetooth™ devices because of the support already built into most cellphones, GPS devices, and new cars.  Among the most popular devices are wireless headsets that offer the portability of hands-free talking, both inside and outside of the vehicle.  Around the office, I frequently see people wear their wireless headsets all day long, so it must be somewhat comfortable.  It makes for a fashion statement too, if you are the geeky type.  I have not decided on one yet, but the product reviews on CNET and ConsumerReport were very insightful.  When picking out a wireless headset, you definitely want to consider the size, comfort, ease of use, sound clarity, battery life and cost.

For the road warriors, Bluetooth™speakerphone kits and GPS devices provide a hands-free and headset-free driving experience.  The products in this category allow the driver to talk openly in speaker mode as if inside a mobile conference room.  This may not be a good option, if you want to keep the conversation semi-private.  However, these products do allow you to make calls and take calls without reaching for the phone (true hands-free).  The one that caught my attention, Parrot PMK5800 offers voice recognition for outbound dialing of up to 150 phone numbers.  Like most products in this category, it also accept an audio input for MP3 players.  The music is broadcasted through the car stereo over FM and mutes automatically when you need to make or receive a call.  This will work great with my iPod.

I expected more from the GPS devices (TomTom, Garmin, etc), but the main differentiator vs the speakerphone kits seems to be their GPS service and integrated calling for pointing of interests.  My recommendation would be to buy a GPS if you need a GPS.  Too pricy to buy it just for the hands-free driving.  Finally, most automobile manufacturers already offer Bluetooth™ in the latest models of their cars.  This may just an excuse, but “Honey, it’s time to buy a new car, so we can enjoy the hands-free and the integrated driving experience.”  Cost aside, a key consideration would be the cellphone compatibility.  Most automobile manufacturer’s Website (Toyota, Acura, Lexus, Ford, BMW, etc) provide a listing of the support cellphones and wireless services.  Although if your existing cellphone doesn’t work with the car of your dream, it is probably not too excessive to buy a new cellphone as well.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this Blog.  If you haven’t gone hands-free yet,  I hope you will join me and other Californians in the switch before July 1st.  To learn more about the new law and how it affects you, checkout the FAQ on the CHP Website.  Drive safely out there.

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New Download Page – Featured Downloads!

Checkout the new Download Home Page on http://www.sun.com.  As one of the most frequently visited page, the newly enhanced design will allow customers to gain quick access to the most essential software from Sun.  These products are often the subject of Jonathan Schwartz’s Blog.  Personally, I have recently downloaded OpenSolaris and xVM VirtualBox (desktop virtualization), and I’m now able to run OpenSolaris (and other operating systems as well) on my MacBook Pro using xVM VirutalBox.  How cool is that.  Anyway, I will be sure to blog about my virtualization experience in the near future.

Back to the new Download Home Page, if you do not find the software you need on the Featured Downloads tab, the new home page design offers numerous means to locate your software download.  You will find links to the New Downloads and Top Downloads.  Of course, navigation by Product Category or A-Z Listing is available as well.

Give it a try and download one of the feature products today!

Happy Father’s Day!

First of all, I would like to wish my father and all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day.  This year is extra special for me.  I’m celebrating Father’s Day for the 1st time, since my wife and I became proud parents of a baby girl 6 months ago.  Time sure flies by quickly.

There’s no doubt parenthood is a major life changing event.  It comes with great responsibility, but it offers even greater rewards (love, happiness, long lasting memories, etc).  Becoming a father has taught me a great deal about taking responsibility and caring for others, especially my baby girl.  It has also instilled in me a deeper appreciation for my family.

On this Father’s Day, I have realized the true significance of this event.  It’s not just about me, nor is it just about my father or any one individual parent out there.  In my mind and at least within my family, it’s a celebration of the family and the bond that brings everyone together each year on the 3rd Sunday of June, on Mother’s Day, and on all the other holidays!