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The Computer in the Wall Jack

Alan Peterson is assistant chief engineer for the Radio America Network in Washington. Always on the lookout for new items, Al came across a unique find.

(click thumbnail)Fig. 1: A basic computer in a wall jack? Ideal for cramped sales cubes!

(click thumbnail)Fig. 2: You may find larger packages of desiccant through freight-forwarding companies that send or receive items overseas. Alan Peterson is assistant chief engineer for the Radio America Network in Washington. Always on the lookout for new items, Al came across a unique find.

Take a look at the plate shown in Fig. 1. That’s not just a jackplate for a network port; it’s a complete thin client computer that drops into the same cutout in your wall where just the jack would have gone.

Chip PC Technologies of Israel is inventor and manufacturer of the Jack PC, which is intended to replace desktop machines in business applications. Just plug your keyboard, mouse, monitor and speakers right into the wall.

What about power? The Jack PC is self-powered, drawing its electric needs from the Ethernet cable.

In many businesses, big-time processing is left up to the servers, so desktop computers are basically overkill. What is needed in these cases is a “simple-minded” machine that talks to the Big Box down the hall.

As the Jack PC is a “thin client” rather than a full-bang computer, it is not up to those tasks we normally insist our machines perform. And don’t start bundling up your DAW for the recycler just yet. From an audio standpoint, the Jack PC admittedly is only good for low-fi applications.

So why mention it? Because products like this will only get smaller, better and faster, and eventually the Jack PC — or something like it — might be tricked out with even more computer functionality. As is, a couple of Jack PCs might find a home right now in the sales cubicles, where space is snug to begin with. A year from now, you might fit an audio editor in there. Who knows?

At present, the Jack PC runs Windows CE (same as in handheld PDAs), but the Chip PC engineers are taking a look at Linux. Find out more at under Jack PC Thin Clients. The site includes info on how to obtain an evaluation kit.

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Marc Mann, now retired, started as a broadcasting major in college and worked as a stringer for New York’s Newsday and the Associated Press. He spent a few years doing freelance video and production before moving into an unrelated service field, where he stayed for 28 years.

Some years ago, Marc was looking for desiccant bags of a more substantial size than those typically found in retail packages sent from overseas. The tiny 1-inch-square, cellophane-wrapped packages seemed inadequate to protect his toolboxes.

Acting on a hunch, Marc contacted a local freight-forwarding company that specialized in shipping overseas. He asked if they had any desiccant available; they wanted to know how many pounds he needed.

Marc picked up several two-pound packs, each 7 x 9 inches, in breathable bags, as seen in Fig. 2. They cost only a few of dollars each. Marc says you can also find a variety of desiccant sources by doing a Web search

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With all the concern about transmitter site security, Atlanta contract engineer Allen Branch sends a reminder that Wal-Mart sells camouflaged motion sensing cameras. Some include a flash and other features.

Game Spy, Game Watcher and Scouting Cameras can be found on the Web at; click on Sports, then do a search for “camera.”

You may not need a camouflage pattern when mounting on the upper wall of the transmitter building, but it might come in handy behind your entry fence. Consider mounting the camera high on a tree to get a snapshot of someone at the entry of your site, before an intruder even enters. The flash alone may discourage entry.

You’ll find several of these camera models in the hunting and sportsman section of the store or online, and they are reasonably priced. Thanks, Allen, for the suggestion.

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Tom Williams with Audio Precision drops us a line that AP Calibration Services are open for business at the Beaverton factory. Audio Precision now offers Accredited Calibrations on most current instruments (AP2700, System Two, APx, ATS-2) and will add more this year.

All supported new instruments sold by Audio Precision will come with a Calibration Report and Certificate demonstrating the unit meets or exceeds its published specification. What’s the advantage? If the unit does not meet specifications, AP can repair or adjust it immediately — no extra shipping; which translates into faster service.

Why choose AP over third-party calibration services? The company says its factory test technicians are dedicated audio engineers who know audio and AP equipment. Couple this with automated test systems and the result is accurate but fast turnaround.

For pricing or more information, call AP service at (800) 231-7350.

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Workbench in the Feb. 14 print edition contained an incorrect Web address for Modulation Sciences. The address is