Make Windows 8.1 look like Windows 7

Countless people have asked me “why is Windows 8.1 so different from 7?!”  The “metro” screen loads many confusing and irrelevant “tiles” upon startup.  The “Start” menu is nowhere to be found.  For many, this renders the computer almost unusable.  Again, we wonder, why so different?

The short answer is, it was designed for touch screens (not a mouse and keyboard).  In a world dominated by social media and touch screen devices, Microsoft just wanted a piece of the action.  Their attempt to join in was not received well by the community at large (or myself, I still use 7 at home).  So, what can we do to improve the Windows 8 experience?

A new, free, piece of software called “Classic Shell” (click here to visit their site) can help you revert the visual aspects of 8.1 to something more akin to 7.  If you’re willing to spend twenty minutes learning how to configure it yourself, you’ll have things back to normal in no time!  Here’s a short video on how to install and configure Classic Shell.

Cynaps Version 2 and Breakthrough Hearing Aid Announced!


I’ve been in touch with Mike Freeman of Max Virtual LLC since I met him in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He just sent me a small stock of production models for sale, so holler at me if you want one!

In addition Max Virtual has announced they will produce a hearing aid to increase spacial awareness for the hearing impaired. Using two microphones and two bone conduction pads, the hat can take the place of expensive implanted aids. Click here for the full story.

NixTech’s Next Innovation

Deep in a heavily guarded underground bunker is NixTech lab. Mad scientist Russel Lemburg is soldering away on his next creation. Yet to be named, this LED strip for helmets uses the same independently addressable RGB LEDs as the popular Nix Googles. Russell sent me a sneak preview about a week ago and I just had to spill the beans. Click to see a close up video of the strip without the helmet.
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First Look: Cynaps Headset


At the CES show earlier this month I met Mike Freeman, the designer of the Cynaps Bluetooth headset.  This revolutionary device uses bone conduction to send sound waves directly to the inner ear, eliminating the need to block the user’s hearing with a pesky earbud.  When he offered to send me a sample I couldn’t resist.

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A Guru and a Gizmo: Two new services open for Austin cyclists around the clock


Photo by Irene Martinez

Meet Fernando Martinez.  When he isn’t working on the Safe Routes to School for BikeTexas he is fixing bikes or teaching some eager student how to do the same.  He helped me work on all three of my bikes during my internship for BikeTexas nearly a year ago.  When he told me about his new bike repair service and an automated 24-hour bike store I just had to share it with every bike-riding nerd I know.

Take a minute to visit his page at and schedule a time to meet with him.  For a small fee he will even come to you.  He specializes in teaching bicycle repair, safe riding and maintenance skills to students of ALL ages.

Next he told me about Gearbox.  Located in front of Thom’s Market at 1418 Barton Springs Road, this convenient vending machine full of bike parts is open for business 24/7.  With any luck there will be a few more locations in Austin this year.  You can visit their page at to find out more.


Product Review: Nix Googles

NixGoogles Patterns from NixTech on Vimeo.

When I heard about Nix Googles I contacted Russell, the designer, about using a pair when I give rides on my pedicab downtown. The “googles” display a variety of complex patterns and overpower most smartphone cameras with their brilliant lights. What’s more, they respond to music, via a built in microphone with highly adjustable gain. In fact, the gain control is so sensitive, that at the highest setting it responds to sounds I barely hear. Turn the sensitivity down all the way and you’ll need a plane taking off to make it react …or a Skrillex show.
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Upcoming Reviews: Cynaps Ears-Free Headset, Lenovo Yoga 11, and Smart Tap Handlebar Mount

On Thursday at CES I was offered a sample of is the Cynaps ears-free bluetooth headset.  Rather than block the user hearing with troublesome earbuds, this headset uses bone conduction to put sounds inside the users head. It can also be hidden completely in a bike helmet or a sweat band. This device seems like just the thing for riders who enjoy music and still want to be alert on the road. I can’t wait to try mine!

Click here to keep reading and preview the Yoga 11 and Smart Tap bar mount.