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Audrey is not Dead !
She's just found a new home

Audrey is one of the nicest touches you can add to your home automation system ! It is one of those 'internet appliances' that you've heard about.

Small and very stylish, she can sit on the kitchen counter, next to the sofa, or even in the bathroom, giving you web access, email, personal schedules, and even control and monitor of XTension !

One of the best things is that she sports a
640x480 color 'Touch Screen' !
XTension on Audrey
XTension on Green Audrey ! XTension even works on a Green Audrey :-)

Another YoYo ?

Introduced about a year ago by 3COM, Audrey simply was too expensive and obviously ahead of its time. At a price of $500, folks just weren't anxious to populate their homes with these gadgets.

Rumor is that over 25,000 of them were made, with no idea of how many actually sold. In August 2007, 3COM pulled the final plug on Audrey and sold the remaining units to 'remainder' sales companies.

Bad news for 3COM, (and the original developers), Good news for XTension users.

As of this article, (9/2007), there are still thousands of Audreys available at Tiger Direct for $89.95 !
You can also already find them on uBid and eBay.

I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about the features of the basic Audrey, but suffice it to say that at $500, it was certainly a bit steep. But at $100, it's irresistable !

A Community Effort

As soon as it became known that Audrey was going to be discontinued, hundreds of developers suddenly became more interested and already there are websites and discussion lists dedicated to discovering the wealth of goodies lurking in Audrey's basic system, which is a mixture of QNX and the PALM OS (QNX is a variant of UNIX !).

Smells like you're trying to sell me on something...

Only if you like to 'play'...

Out of the box, the Audrey can connect to the web, give you a very nice web browser, email client, and great PDA functions. With James Sentman's x2web, and Apple's "Personal Web Server", it's possible to set up your own web pages that give you the ability to control and monitor XTension from any web browser, like the Audrey's.

However, there are other things that you can do if you like to play with the system and have some spare time....

There are 'updates' to the Audrey operating system

Most likely, the Audrey that you receive will have a software system that is not the 'latest' version.

Audrey has an automatic update feature. At certain times in the day, Audrey will attempt to connect to a web site where it looks for any new updates to its software. This website is no longer available...

However, some very nice soul has provided an alternate site, and the Audrey can be convinced to use that URL as the place to look for software updates.

Why do I care ?

Well, it turns out that the 'FINAL' update to the software includes a trick that lets you 'escape' into the 'shell' of the operating system, giving you access to functions that were never intended for the common Audrey user.

That means that you can have access to the QNX (unix) OS, and that makes the Audrey imminently modify-able...

That has spawned great interest on the part of UNIX hackers, and that means that there will be oodles of neat additions to the Audrey in the future.

What should I do right now ?

Buy one or more ! Set them up as is, and enjoy. It is certain that they are selling fast. It has been years since the YoYo was discontinued, and still we get laments from XTension users that they failed to buy one when they were available...

Most likely, you don't have a phone line for each of them as well as your normal internet connected Mac.
So you're going to need to add them to your home network, and share the internet connection.

That means that you also need to buy the USB-to-Ethernet adaptor that Tiger Direct offers. You'll certainly see that link on the same page with the Audrey.

The USB-Ethernet adaptor costs about $30, so that brings the cost of each Audrey to about $120. Still a great buy.

As an aside, I would not suggest thinking that ANY USB-Ethernet adaptor will work with the Audrey. The unit that Tiger Direct offers is made by 3COM, and the drivers in the Audrey (at present), will probably only work with that one...

Ok, OK ! I have the Audrey. How can I get the box open ?

This is hilarious... I had the same problem. You're so anxious to get it up and running, and you almost tear the box to pieces to get it out...

Anyone who has ever been involved with the production of such a product will cry when they see the amount of work that went into the packaging and documentation of the Audrey. There's at least a quarter million dollars in just the wraps...

Ok, here's the trick.
Unless you're in a brightly lit room,
you won't see it.

There is a transparent seal
on the right rear edge of the box.
Use your finger nail or a knife to slice it.

And then it opens this way...

So now what do I do ?

Either sit tight and enjoy the Audrey as is, or try the next tutorial which tells you how to update the Audrey's software.

How to update Audrey's software

Audrey Tips and Links


Copyright 2007, Sand Hill Engineering All rights reserved.

Mac Made

Last modified: October 6, 2007
Michael Ferguson, webmaster@shed.com