My wife Ashley and I returned last night from a wonderful trip to Florida to celebrate our second wedding anniversary which is today. Hard to believe it has only been two years, since we have both matured significantly in that time. Without going into more personal details, I’d just like to leave it with I love her (you if you are reading!) very much and look forward to many more reasons to celebrate together.
I came in to work this morning to discover that my .Mac mail account was refusing my password… frustrated I took it offline. Why is it that right after I purchased .Mac, the service gets buggy? Seems I am not alone though in my misfortune…
After spending some quality time reprogramming my Pronto Universal remote this weekend to accommodate the new features of HDTV, I thought I might be able to share some wisdom with you. First, the process of enabling more technology in your living room is easy (dollars aside), but making it simple for your family to use is far from it.
In our living room, we have a set-up that includes: an integrated amp; a DVD/CD 5-disc carousel; TiVo; VCR; 5.1 Speakers and our HDTV. We used to control the TV through TiVo, which took my wife some getting used to, but was second nature up until last Friday. With the addition of our new converter box, the method for watching TV just became a bit more complex.
In order to enjoy the enhanced sound and picture, we must switch the mode of our TV from TV to Colorstream HD 1, which is 4 modes (of a possible 5) on our set. Once there, we must use the cable box remote to change channels and review the guide since TiVo does not support HDTV. By not supporting it, TiVo does not display it’s information on our screen, but it is still quite possible to pause live programming. We won’t however, see when TiVo is warning us mid-show that it wishes to switch the channel to record something we might like. We also won’t be able to re-view shows that were being recorded by TiVo in HDTV because it cannot handle the picture. Last night for example, we recorded the audio of Curb Your Enthusiasm with a black screen to complement it.
So back to the universal remote conundrum…I had to re-program our pronto’s and add a new button macro to now include HDTV as an option. A macro just to be clear, allows the pronto to handle the functions of several remotes. The example for our HDTV setting is to set the TV from TV to Colorstream 1 HD (4 button presses, with pauses programmed to assure the commands are sent) change the channel on the cable box to 713 (a PBS HD channel). The remote also conveniently switched it’s screen from the main screen to one that will allow us to command the cable box directly at that point. This macro saves us from having to use 2 different remotes and 7 button presses with 1 simple command. The “problem” for my wife, not a gadget enthusiast like myself, is that she must now decide what mode of TV to watch.
So is this new iPronto remote linked below going to solve the complex world of home theater for us? I doubt it. In fact, as cool as it is, I think it will only be cause for more confusion in the home. It will however, give Philips a better chance to compete against Lexicon and AMX in the high end home control market. Don’t get me wrong, I really like this stuff, just that when I am not home, the home theater set-up will continue to intimidate everyone else at home.
The Ultimate Universal Remote?. A new universal remote control from Philips called the iPronto which doesn’t just control your entertainment center – you can also access the Internet with it over an 802.11b connection and use it to control appliances around the house. And for all you Casanovas out there, you can even program the iPronto to dim the lights, close the drapes, and light the fireplace all at the touch of a button. Read… [Gizmodo]
Newsweek: “Larry Lessig admits it: he’s nervous.”
Another week I can’t get the damn Eagles on TV. Fox taunted me during the Cowboys/Giants game with what was coming up next, but then… nothing.
As I mentioned in my post on HDTV, Time Warner has also included a Video on Demand (VOD) service. There are currently about 90 movies costing between $1.95 and $3.95 depending on age of the picture. The classic Hitchcock stuff is on the low end but Lord of the Rings is the high end, though similar to Blockbuster and no potential for late fees. One really nice thing about the way it works, is that you get the movie for a full 24-hour period. With the current pay-per-view model, you only get the movie while it is on, unless on some systems you buy an all day pass, which might cost more.
The VOD system is providing very high quality digital video with TiVo (pause, fastforward…) features. Now that I have tried this, and admittedly only with the free content so far like previews, I would think that video rental places must be extremely nervous. This is a real system, with a valid selection on our televisions – not computers at the right price.
Blockbuster makes all their money from our house, through late-fees, but not any longer…
Warner Gets Into Web Video-On-Demand. Broadband Internet subscribers got their first real opportunity Monday to legally download movies distributed by a major studio. Warner Bros. agreed to offer a few films to Web-based video-on-demand service CinemaNow and split the revenue. That could help to thaw Hollywood’s cold refusal to offer downloadable films on any service but Movielink. [osOpinion]
The future in my living room
Time Warner came by this afternoon with a wonderful new toy… an HDTV cable converter box! It’s hard to describe the difference other than to say, WOW! The picture quality is absolutely fantastic. On HD channels, you get digital 5.1 sounds as well. I’ve had a digital HD capable set for 2 years, and have been able to view DVDs and occasionally my PS2 in the correct 16:9 format… TV was no where near ready, until now.
We get HBO, SHO, FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS. No HDNet, I guess that is only DirecTV right now…Not all the channels broadcast HD all the time. In the few minutes we have played so far, the non-HD broadcasts seem to be amazingly clear in full digital glory. This is completely beyond where we were with just digital cable.
The cable guy said they are looking to have 2 new channels come on each month so I will certainly be looking for more to come online. He also pointed out a channel that was hidden from view at number 1000… it’s Video on Demand(VOD)! “Soon we will have access to the complete Warner Brothers studio library! Right now, I need to spend somme more time browsing, but we can watch previews and some DVD-extra like content but pause, fastforward and rewind all live on cable with the remote. Pretty intense!
As more goodness gets delivered I will be sure to share…
While admittedly no substitute for actually being there, MIT has enabled their courses online. You can not only read the courseware, but in a quick scan I noticed tests as well. According to my reading, MIT is committed to continuing to fill the site for the next 10 years. Start Learning!
Since this is such major net news I posted the entire story from cnet…Eight arrested in Nigerian e-mail scam
By Matt Loney
Special to CNET News.com
October 3, 2002, 8:59 AM PTSpanish police have arrested eight people involved in a Nigerian-led e-mail scam believed to have defrauded Internet users of up to $19.8 million (20 million euros). Five Nigerians, a British man, a Spanish woman, and a minor whose nationality was not disclosed, were arrested in the operation code-named Global Trust. The scam involves sending out mass e-mails that ostensibly come from a prominent man who has tens of millions of dollars but needs help to access it, in return for a share of the proceeds. The group arrested this week claimed to have money stored in safe-deposit boxes in Spain, but told their victims that a debt had been incurred with the company holding the boxes, and that it had to be paid before the money could be released. More than 300 people–most of them from the United States, France, Germany and Spain–paid up before authorities swooped in. ZDNet UK’s Matt Loney reported from London. To read the full story, visit ZDNet UK.
It seems that iSync in its current form does not much care for my Meeting Maker conduit. I went around a few times in order to figure out what caused a predictable crash in Conduit Manager. It would crap out writing between 3 and 400 items back up to Meeting Maker. I had to force overwrite my Palm Database once, which still did not fix things until I deleted the Addressbook.db file and started clean from Meeting Maker as the only active conduit overwriting my now blank calender on the palm.I am now able to sync iSync – contacts only – and Meeting Maker for my Calendar. I also have SplashID, SplashShopper, SplashPhoto, Backup, Install and Vindigo running. iSync speed seems to have picked up considerably since I removed the iCal piece of the sync. It’s a shame but since I can schedule meetings based on availability of resources (people and rooms) with Meeting Maker I am currently better off there. I just won’t get to subscribe to other calendars, unless of course I run iCal without syncing… hmmm 2 calendars, it could be worse I guess.
In looking further at the Hiptop info and thanks to this handy link from Boing Boing, you can see that the Sidekick will be an ideal mobile blogging tool…Sidekick, your mobile blogging pal. The T-Mobile Sidekick and other instances of the Danger Hiptop PDA/Phone are being promoted as mobile blogging tools. Link Discuss (via Hack the Planet)
[Boing Boing Blog]
It all makes sense now… When Neustar decided to launch two new TLD’s (Top Level Domain) .Biz and .US they seemed like odd choices. They also wanted to limit the usage of .Biz to businesses which does make sense.For those of you not keeping score at home… Originally the main tld’s – .com, .net and .org – were intended to serve sites based on type. Commercial, Network Operator like ISPs and Non-Profits were supposed to each have their own space which they did until around 1995 when the commercialization of the web really took off. When things started getting competitive for VeriSign, then Network solutions, in around 1996-7 the walls came down and sites used whatever names they wanted to based on what was available and made sense for their purpose. But I digress… It seems all along Neustar had a longer term horizon than the average eye gave them credit for… As a spinoff of Lockheed Martin, Neustar won a potentially lucrative contract which became available through the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Our government forced AT&T to maintain a backup database of phone records elsewhere and, you guessed it, Neustar is the place. The trick for them will be to properly monetize what they have. When Network Solutions tried this a few years back with something called The Dot Com Directory. It failed miserably. Neustar needs to find a way to do what they want – match customer database records for companies and sell the accurate and cleansed data back. The Dark Side of Digital Identity. From a Forbes profile of Neustar’s Jeffrey Ganek: “Ganek’s little-known database [of North American telephone numbers] could be a treasure trove of data as Microsoft and big rivals race to gain control of consumers’ digital identities for Web commerce and services. Neustar could mine the information, repackage it and sell it to businesses that want easier ways to reach consumers. …Ganek thinks he can easily double revenue if he can persuade telcos to let him mine their data and run a digital identity database.” [icann.Blog]
When it was first announced, the Danger hiptop/sidekick was the center of a great deal of attention. I thought it was going to be a very cool product, though this was before the Handspring Treo and the Voice-integrated RIM devices.
Now however, the device has once again started the gadget engine in my mind… After watching the demo movie on the T-Mobile site, I am once again thinking this could be the one. No color, but full data, web and (3) pop3 email accounts.
T-Mobile has a very compelling offer running right now which is a $50 rebate bringing the post-rebate price to $199 with a one year contract. The monthly contract plan includes all-you-can-eat data service for $39.99/mo. It seems that two-way messaging is extra and only the first 50 messages are included…for an additional $2.99/mo you can have 500 more which should more than cover even the most rambunctious user.
One significant question at this time is how (or if) it will sync with a computer. I just got everything settled in my Mac’s Address Book and would want to obviously zap everything up to something like this. From what I recall reading everything gets done through the air – so you would expect some kind of web based upload procedure.
I did an interview about a month ago and it finally made the press…
When Yahoo launched their online gaming service one publisher was suspiciously left out. Well today it’s revealed that AOL in fact did the deal with EA and starting with Need for Speed will launch a premium service called “First Play” which like “First Listen” and “First View” will give subscribers a chance to play games (music and videos) first through AOL.AOL looks to games for subscriber boost. The company expands its offerings with a service that gives AOL subscribers exclusive access to new online games and downloadable demos from leading game publisher Electronic Arts. [CNET News.com]
I read this article last night and did not think much of it until later when I checked my referers through Radio. I noticed that several things I have written (some recent and some older) had been picked up by Google. Unfortunately, the URL linked to my main page, not the article being referenced and upon arrival there is no easy way for someone coming into the average blog to then track down the article or story. While things like trackbacks and permalinks can be used by blogs, the bots from the search engines are not able to distinguish them yet. Hopefully soon…Google loves blogs. Blogs loves Google. But is there trouble in paradise? When items slip of the front page of most blogs, there is an anecdotal two- to three-week delay before archived items are reindexed. As Dylan Tweney points out this is an artifact of the fact that Google’s basic unit of indexing is the web page URL and blogs are more fine-grained: the post as the basic unit, usually multiple posts on a single page. Permalinks arose to address this same issue, allowing post-level targetting of links to web posts. This is generally implemented with named anchors within pages, although it’s also possible to assign each entry its own page in the archives, even if several entries are aggregated at any one time on the blog’s index page. Dylan has a suggestion, though, to help the Googlesphere catch up with the blogosphere:
It seems that the same approach would work when indexing an intranet or enterprise portal. Maybe part of the solution for turning k-logs into a true knowledge sharing system is to make sure the search implementation indexes RSS feeds from k-logs, making knowledge retrieval possible without discontinuities.
As it turns out, we do have a couple of data formats that understand the difference between a post and a page, include useful summary data, and even include handy pointers back to the exact archive location of a post. They’re called RSS and RDF.
These syndication formats are used to aggregate news, but they could be useful indexing tools too. What if Google (or Daypop, once they can afford to buy a few new hard drives) collected RSS and RDF feeds — and then archived them in a searchable index?
Instead of news stories scrolling off into oblivion when they get to the bottom of a feed, they’d enter a permanent index where they could be used for information retrieval later.
First AOL, then MSN and now Yahoo… Rich Media ads finally break through to the mainstream. I guess media companies and portals have finally realized that not banners get out-performed by richer media like superstitials and eye-blasters, but they need to support them to get the revenue.Yahoo to run multimedia ads. Under pressure to boost sales in a lifeless ad market, the Web portal launches AdVison, a full-page ad that broadcasts commercials, and runs Web pages, surveys and online games. [CNET News.com]
The Online edition of the Wall Street Journal has posted a Scandal Scorecard to aid those reading the news in understanding all that has happened at each of the following: Adelphia; Andersen; Citigroup; Enron; Global Crossing/Qwest; ImClone; Merrill Lynch; Tyco and WorldCom. It’s a comlete look at all that has happened (and been reported).