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Info about new or older technology. Generally fun geeky stuff (or maybe the not so fun).

Written By: Gary on January 23, 2010 No Comment

Here are a series of three videos taken in Haiti last week by CNN. They’re not of the earthquake itself but of the area afterwards.

What is so interesting is that it’s video and you can drag the mouse to look in all directions, but the video (and audio) keeps playing as you drag the video around. At 900×500 it’s pretty large video too, I can’t promise how it’ll play on your older computer. CNN put this together so maybe they’ll add more later.

cnn-haiti360.png

Video 1 in a three minute car ride through Haiti.
Video 2 on a three minute walk in Haiti.
Video 3 short car ride through Haiti.

It’s similar to the YellowBird demo I mentioned a few months back

Written By: Gary on November 8, 2009 No Comment

Here’s a demo of a panoramic 360 degree video, it’s actually more than 360 since you can look up too. Just click and drag as you watch the video and you move while the video is running. It works really really well.

yellowbirdlogo.jpgHere’s a link to it full screen.

The company has more information and demos at their website, which might be the longest URL I’ve ever used it’s www.YellowBirdsDontHaveWingsButTheyFlyToMakeYouExperienceA3dReality.com but then again it’s also yb.nl one of the shortest too.

I found this at pda-247.

Written By: Gary on October 7, 2009 2 Comments

It’s the 57th anniversary of the barcode. I only know this because Google changed their logo today. So then I checked out the barcode entry on Wikipedia.

garysaid.com.barcode.rad59A9F.gif

Actually, this is just the anniversary of the original patent. When most people think of the barcode, they’re thinking of the UPC (Universal Product Code) on food and other purchased goods. Which started being used in the mid-1970s (1974 was when the first store scanned an item for purchase).

Free Barcode Generator - Barcoding Inc.I’ve always thought bar codes were kind of cool: cheap, simple, easy to use and duplicate. We use them on food, shipping packages, mail, ID cards of all types and all sorts of places. We print them on the back of Michigan Driver’s Licenses, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them used.

FYI, I used the Free Barcode Generator to generate my above barcode.

Written By: Gary on September 11, 2009 No Comment

image650862516.jpgI can be anywhere in the country and watch the space shuttle land live on my phone. It amazes me every day.

I can’t imagine what the next few years will bring :)

PS – I’m writing and posting this from my phone after capturing the image while watching it live!!!

Written By: Gary on September 3, 2009 No Comment

A commercial from the 1950s for the Remington Rand UNIVAC System!

Direct link to the Univac video

It’s got “Memory Tanks with 12,000 additional units of information”, assuming a “unit” is byte that’s 12 kB of information. That’s about one-tenth of a floppy disk, a floppy disk from twenty-fie years. Based on the other video (below) they might only be 3/4 of a byte :)

I’m really surprised the printer could do 600 lines per minute, that’s pretty fast for that time (I would think!) although it didn’t look much different from some large printers I’ve seen years later.

Univac I

There’s a 17 minute infomercial too.

And I found this video from Dean’s World too! I didn’t steal his text :)

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Written By: Gary on June 12, 2009 No Comment

It’s finally the end of Analog TV at the end of today. If you haven’t seen the PSAs announcing this, then you probably haven’t really been watching the TV so you won’t care. This is after they moved the date from January because they didn’t think people were ready..

One tip – I heard that some stations that are broadcasting in digital may change the frequency that they are broadcasting at, so you may need to have your box/TV re-scan for digital stations.

I’m in the Detroit area, I wonder how many fans might lose their signal for the Detroit Red Wings game tonight (last game of the Stanley Cup). And and I guess the same goes for Pittsburgh Penguins fans too.

dtv-coupon.pngIf you have satellite or a cable box, you don’t have a problem, the box will convert to your TV.

If you have cable, you don’t care, they’re still giving analog signals for another year or two (or three).

If you have a digital TV with a tuner you don’t care.

If you have an antenna hooked up to your TV (on the roof or rabbit ears), you care. You need that antenna hooked up to a digital convertor box (generally very cheap only $0-$20 with a coupon)

I don’t think stations have to stop broadcasting in analog, they just have to be broadcasting in digital. I’m wondering if anyone will hang on for a bit.

Written By: Gary on May 21, 2009 2 Comments

Argh! Haven’t been this frustrated in a very long time…

The last 24 hours:
– I can’t sync my calendar items and address/phone numbers between my computers, MobileMe and iPod Touch.
– My main Windows machine won’t reboot, keeps resetting. Think the hard drive went.
– Accessing/syncing to my AppleTV is goofed up (that’s minor, unrelated and hacked so not an Apple issue)
– My cell phone keeps saying international roaming when I’m at home (it’s Sprint). I’m not that close to the border of Canada/Michigan.

I’ve spend more time with tech support the last 24 hours than the last 24 months. I’ve been escalated multiple times at Apple and not getting any closer. And after all the changes at my end I’m leaning towards it’s going to be a problem at their end so then I’ll have to get everything set back the way I want (a few hours ago, I’d have said 100% sure at their end, but not so sure now). They say this is a new problem and since we’re pushing 4 hours today I’m hoping it’s a unique problem (for their sake).

And I’ve wasted another sunny day :(

Written By: Gary on April 6, 2009 One Comment

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerOverall, I really love my iPod iTouch. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s an iPhone without the phone, GPS or camera, but without the monthly prices! And while I love it I’ve got a few complaints:
1) Why isn’t it called an iTouch? It’s the obvious name, I will continue to call it that even though it’s wrong.
2) The music playing isn’t iPod-ish enough. I’ll be playing an audio file and I can’t see how long it is or how far I am into it (or have to go). It’s got more than enough room on the screen. And I need a better way for fast forwarding and rewinding, I should be able to drag a slider across the screen, not the old-fashioned hold and press on the virtual button. Give me a virtual scroll wheel in the middle of the screen or some configuration changes in the options…
4) I need a better way to manage the applications screens. I know you can drag them but it’s a pain. Any new applications just get dumped in the first free space. Let me create some categories and sort them hierarchically (like my music) but I need to put some items in multiple categories (or at least a category and a “favorites”).
3) No cut and paste! I’ve type my name, zip, and e-mail about a million times in the last week. I know they are adding it this summer but it too two years! They really need another button next to “cut, copy, paste” that says “shortcuts” where I can put the stuff I type all the time.
5) Needs some more applications for viewing info off-line. Mail works great, a few work decent, the rest require a connection.
6) No built-in microphone.
7) This thing really sucks the power! It really needs an easier way to turn the WiFi off (how about clicking the WiFi icon on the screen!).

I’m sure I’ll add some more basic complaints and I will be praising this (and applications) in future posts.

Written By: Gary on March 24, 2009 No Comment

admiralhopper.gifAdmiral Grace hopper lived from December 9, 1907 to January 1, 1992 and had a lot more to do with computing than most names you know today.

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. ”

She graduated from Vassar in Mathematics and Physics and got her Ph.D. from Yale in the same subjects. She to a leave of absence from Vasser, where she was an Associate Professor of Mathematics, and joined the Navy Reserve. I’ve got a few quotes of hers in this post. She’s also attributed to phrase “bugs” in the computer (or maybe “debugging”), but I’ve heard so many stories about that I’m not so sure but here’s a photo with notes.

  • She served on the Mark I computer programming staff at Harvard.
  • In 1949 she was a senior mathematician on the team developing the UNIVAC I.
  • In the early 1950s she worked on the A-0 programming language compiler. This is the first computer compiler!
  • A lot of her compiler work is said to be the basis of the COBOL computer language.
  • In the 1970s she pioneered the implementation of standards for computer languages (like COBOL and FORTRAN).

    “It’s always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”

    She was on 60 minutes in 1982, here’s part 1 and part 2, she’s pretty funny.

    Here’s a video of her on Letterman (Oct. 2, 1986). She holds her own pretty good and explains how fast light and electricity can travel. It’s some of the same jokes from the 60 Minutes interview, but dumbed down for Dave.


    Here’s the original YouTube link.

    In 1971 ACM created the Grace Murray Hopper Award which is awarded to the outstanding young (35 or younger) computer professional of the year, selected on the basis of a single recent major technical or service contribution. Be sure to click the link, you’ll see some familiar names (Wozniak, Joy, Kurzweil, and more).

    “The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from.”

    Additional info on Admiral Hopper: There is a conference named in her honor Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. She’s received 47 honorary degrees. When she retired she was the oldest active person in the military! She was in the Navy for 43 years; from 1943-1966, 1967-1971, and 1972-1986. The Navy’s USS Hopper, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is named after her.

    Why am I talking about her today? Because I signed a pledge that said “I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same“. I’m one of those 1,000 people, actually when last I looked it’s up to 1,610 people (I think I was number 844 to sign up).

    Info on the post taken from here, her WIkipedia entry and some other info I’ve posted before.

    Later: I see Brenda Wallace, Kathleen Weaver, Miguel Esquirol Ríos, cr0n.net, Joanna Bryson, Carolyn and Andy Roberts chose the same topic as I did.

  • Written By: Gary on March 4, 2009 2 Comments

    Amazon released a Kindle for iPhone and iPod Touch application (that link is to the US iTunes store, not sure about international release).

    With Kindle for iPhone, you can:
    * Buy a Kindle book from your Mac, PC, or iPhone using a Web browser and wirelessly transfer the books to your iPhone.
    * Read first chapters of any book for free before you buy.
    * Download the Kindle books you already own for free (they are automatically backed up on Amazon.com).
    * Adjust the text size, add bookmarks, and view the annotations you created on your Kindle device.

    Kindle for iPhone also includes Whispersync, which allows you to seamlessly switch back and forth between your Kindle device and Kindle for iPhone while keeping your bookmarks and reading location synchronized between devices

    kindleapp.jpgWow! Now you don’t even need a Kindle now to read the eBooks. I’m assuming the “digital paper” display is easier to read on the Kindle, but this is very cool. I wonder if the images look better than on the grey-scale Kindle? It looks like it will “show books in color that were developed that way“. I’ve liked the idea of a Kindle but not the cost and I’ve also been afraid of not having it with me everywhere; if I can start syncing to other devices that’d be very useful. Even if you don’t want to read a whole book on your iPhone/Touch, you can read the first chapter of all the Kindle books for free! ANd it doesn’t appear to sync magazines or newspapers, only books.

    And did I mention that it’s free at the Apple App store? Of course you have to buy the books.

    Update:

  • A lot of nice screenshots at the iPhone Blog.
  • It looks like to buy books you need to use Mobile Safari (or a computer) and not the Kindle software. That’s not ideal, but it’s workable.
  • Written By: Gary on February 28, 2009 No Comment

    Louis CK does a routine on Conan on why we live in the best times ever! And why we are all spoiled brats. I have no idea who this philosopher comedian is, I don’t think I’ve seen him before.

    You only have to was the first 60 seconds (the good stuff starts at 30). I say that because you’ll be hooked by then and watch the rest (because it just gets better!).

    The direct link.

    Found at EverydayGoddess.

    Written By: Gary on February 9, 2009 No Comment

    Historic Blockbuster Store Offers Glimpse Of How Movies Were Rented In The Past. A historical “field trip” on the way to rent videos in the past.

    Here’s the direct link.

    Written By: Gary on January 26, 2009 2 Comments

    dtv-coupon.pngSo they are considering delaying the digital TV transition to June 12th, 2009 (the Senate already passed it). What a pain in the butt, I was so happy this was going to get wrapped up in less than a month!

    Senate Commerce Chairman John Rockefeller said delaying the TV switch is the right thing to do because the United States is not yet ready to make the transition.

    “The Senate acted responsibly to give the Obama administration time to attempt to bring order to a mismanaged process,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement.

    If people at this point aren’t ready, they aren’t going to be ready in another five months. If you’re not ready get your $40 coupon here; there are delays at this point but they’ve been mailing these out for the last year.

    What do you think? Are we ready?

    BTW, this is going to cost the PBS stations $22 million.

    UPDATE: The house voted it down (yeah!)

    Written By: Gary on January 11, 2009 No Comment

    Here is a geeky history of the Internet in about seven minutes (and when I say “geeky” I mean technical). Pretty easy to understand as long as you aren’t afraid of acronyms like TCP.



    If you’ve got the bandwidth it’s
    available in HD via the direct link or via YouTube.

    Eventually all the icons in the video will be released under the creative commons license. It’s not clear when though. If you dig around the site you can find some here and there, it’s all part of the Melih Bilgil’s degree.

    Written By: Gary on January 6, 2009 No Comment

    So YouTube has three different qualities that I see quite often: Normal Quality, High Quality and High Definition (HD). Every video seems to be available in Normal Quality. Also, High Quality appears to generally be the same size as Normal and those can ben standard format (TV shaped) or wide screen formatted. But I think recently (towards the end of 2008?) the normal became wider to suit more widescreen video, as a result you get black bars on the sides for standard video instead of the tops and bottoms for the widescreen.

    But the High Def video shows up as standard size video but the HD video shows up huge on the screen (about 864×480). I remember it being large before, but not that large, maybe it takes longer to convert or they approve it or something or did I just never notice before?

    For example, this is the same fire dancing video I posted before and I don’t ever remember it being so big on the screen let alone so clear. Be sure to toggle between “Watch in Normal Quality” and “Watch in HD” to see the difference.

    Later: Now I’ve read another article on this at and you can see there is a just as large (it might just be that medium size blown up) but lower quality version (but still HD-ish).

    Written By: Gary on October 18, 2008 No Comment

    I’ve never understood how technology seems to trap some people and when I say “technology” I’m talking about mostly low-tech. The most common thing that I can’t understand is the phone.

    Gotta Get It – Some people have to get the phone when it rings no matter what they are doing. It doesn’t matter what is happening they have to go answer the phone if it rings. They already have an answering machine so they aren’t going to miss any information.

    Gotta Check It – Other’s have to know who it is even if they aren’t going to answer, they have to check the Caller ID to see who they aren’t going to talk to. These are the people in the past who would have monitored their answering machine to get the same information.

    Gotta Be More Important – If the call waiting is going off they have to switch over, doesn’t matter if they know who it is or not, they’ve got to switch over to the other call. I can see this a little bit if they don’t have voice mail at home, but if they’ve got Caller ID they can call them back. The need to put someone off for a few minutes so that they can talk to someone else first compared to just calling the second caller back a few minutes later doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Voice Mail Inconsistencies – What’s confusing (to me) is some people have to also check their voice mail as soon as they see they have a message, but others can let it sit for a while or not even check to see if there is a message on their answering machine. My experience is the more that a person have a “Gotta” issue (see above) the more likely that they have the ability to let messages rest on a machine somewhere.

    The Phone Victim is the worst of most technologies, maybe because it’s such a simple technology it doesn’t seem to be hindered by age it affects both the young and old.

    If it’s important – they will leave a message, they will call back and they’ve got other ways to contact you (other phones, e-mail, etc.).

    My issues – I’d completely disable the call-waiting on my phone but it’s the only phone I have so if someone is trying to reach me they can’t call another number (but they could leave a voice mail). Personally, I try to only switch over to an incoming call when it’s someone I’m meeting shortly in case something is changing our plans. I’ll also switch over if I’m expecting some info from someone that requires some quick interactivity but I’ll warn the call I’m on at the start of the conversation. I’m also more likely to switch over on long-time friends that I talk to all the time but that’s the benefit of

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    Written By: Gary on October 17, 2008 No Comment

    So I stopped at Kinko’s to fax something, unfortunately I had to fax it twice since I forgot a page (duh!). But I was looking at their computer area and I see they want $12 an hour to use a computer. One person here just looks like they are just checking their fantasy football and that’s got to get pricey after a while; others are just surfing and one guy is working on a Word document. They could probably lease/rent a computer for less than $24 a month (that’s the going price for an iBook with Apple’s credit) and subscribe to a T-Mobile WiFi for $30 a month and could sit at the same Kinko’s and recoup their costs in less than 5 hours. Plus, you’d have a laptop for anywhere use and you can use it at free WiFi spots and most other T-Mobile spots.

    You’d have to pass a credit check to get the computer but other than that it seems like the way to go to me. It’s a decent neighborhood where I am and none of these folks look homeless so I can’t think of any reasons not to go this route. Any one have any thoughts on this?

    Looks like they have some new print on-line service that you can print and ship via FedEx (it’s actually called FedEx Kinko’s now) from home or remote.

    Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 2 Comments

    So my Mom got me an early birthday present, it’s a portable Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS. This has been on my Costa Rica to do list so she asked me what I wanted at just the right time. Obviously, it’s a specific model I picked out for her and it’s been great the little bit of time I’ve played with it this past week. It’s got the color display, the compass (this is an extra) and the memory chip expansion. It’s a whole lot easier to us than I expected it was almost Apple-ish in it’s use, but there are too many buttons (it’d need a touch screen to make it a little more intuitive).

    As of right now it’s telling me we’re at 7,284 feet and traveling at 527 miles per hour (we’re somewhere south of Cuba). That’s seems a little low to me (I thought they didn’t let us use electronics until 10,000 or 15,000 feet) but maybe it’s having a hard time tracking out the window of the plane (but that’s not really my area either). I’ll be sure to upload some of the tracking info later superimposed on a map. I’ve always been into maps so it’s a fun gadget for me.

    I wanted it for Costa Rica for a few reasons:

  • the signage for the roads are awful and since some of the roads are so bad you don’t want to backtrack unless you have to.
  • When I’m hiking I’d really like to know how far I’ve wandered away from civilization and have a better idea if I’m walking in circles.
  • Maps here aren’t the greatest so maybe one of the Points Of Interest (POI) will help me find something I’ve been missing.This portable unit only has basic highways and major roads (roads like Telegraph and Michigan) for the US, it’s assumed you’re using this for specifics like hiking any you’re going to buy the topographical maps for it, but it does have exit numbers for the highways and food and gas info for those spots. I think you need to purchase the local maps for turn-by-turn directions but I never got a chance to play with that.

    In anticipation for this trip did purchase the detailed maps for Costa Rica. The unit had very limited details before that upgrade, although I think it still would have helped me orient myself quite a bit. I purchased them from www.NavSatCR.com who does about 3 updates a year and then I can purchase future years for a lot less. They actually sell cheaper 10 day and 30 day versions so if it’s just a one time trip you don’t have to invest as much, but those maps actually stop working after that time frame (I purchased the non-expiring ones). From reading around, the folks at NavSatCR seem to be the place for Costa Rican GPS maps.

    I also purchased a mount for handle bars so if I rent an ATV, scooter or bicycle it’ll help with getting around that way too.

    As I’m wrapping up writing this, we just left the air above the Atlantic Ocean and passed into El Salvador…

  • Written By: Gary on June 29, 2008 One Comment

    I use tech to complicate my life and make it better. Not simpler. I’ve never felt that it simplifies my life. Tech gives me information, organizes me and entertains me.

    If I used just a few tech tools, it could simplify my life. An answering machine simplified it. And a fax machine. But those are very 1/2 duplex technologies, more like Web -3.0

    Other basic tools like a calendar and address book help to organize my life, and make it so I don’t need to remember things which makes my life a little easier.

    Much of what unsimplifies life are the more interactive technologies, the ones that require a response, especially the ones that require a response quickly. E-mail is my biggest interactive technology, I’ve tried so many of the others and while I enjoy them they just take up so much time… Twitter, IM, and other chat-type services. I really like Seesmic, but it’s hard to get a feel for what’s going on with just a glance, you’ve got to watch the video’s to see what they’re about; there just isn’t enough of a description to know what the conversation is about (or what it’s become after multiple responses).

    And then there are all the interactive ones that you’re just exploring, there is so much out there and it’s so time consuming it’s un-simplifying my life in that it’s taking away time from the rest of it.

    With it I can do more than without it. Do I need to be doing more? Probably not, but some of what I’m able to explore and experience makes it worth it to me.

    Written By: Gary on June 28, 2008 One Comment

    So the other day I purchased this Aiptek HD 720p Video Camera, I liked it but I saw it was on sale at this week so I went in to get the $30 price difference. Well, I couldn’t find the receipt so I went in to make sure it was the same camera first. It was not the same camera, it was the new better model, the Aiptek HD 1080p Video Camera, for $30 less. From the way it was on the rack I am pretty sure the old one was also on sale (i.e. clearance) since they didn’t have them any more and this one seemed to be replacing that one at the same price point.

    As I walked up to the counter I decided I didn’t want to bother to return the old one and buy the new one since the differences were minimal and there was a 15% restocking fee. I just wanted them to credit me the $30 for the old one. They couldn’t print me a new receipt, nor could they credit me the $30 without the receipt, but they would refund my money and they weren’t going to nick me the $30 if I purchased a new one, so I went back, got the better camera (which was even better than I thought) and got my $30 back too. From the receipt, it looks like they have the same SKU, so now I’m sure both were $30 cheaper.

    Sadly it was a waste of materials and money (they’ll send it back to the manufacturer) since they didn’t have a mechanism in place to credit me back the difference. But at least I made out on this one: better camera, $30 and a new receipt.

    Written By: Gary on June 9, 2008 3 Comments

    Sprint gave me a call to make sure I was happy. I told him I was expecting his call, he seemed surprised. I said my contract is up and they new iPhone looks pretty yummy, gotta be afraid of losing me as a customer. All he offered me was $150 off a new phone (you get that every 2 years no matter what, AFAIK).

    And he said I could use that for a new Treo 800 (I have the 700p) when it comes out; he insisted it’s a Palm OS device (not Windows Mobile) and I rephrased the question several times. Now that I’ve had time to Google it, I think he’s wrong and it’s a Windoze Mobile device.

    Tried to buy a wireless modem card from him, best he could offer me was $60 a month. I currently have internet on my phone for $15 and $25 more (total $40) lets me tether (connect) my laptop to it and use the internet. So if I drop the $25 and pay the $60, I’ve still got the $15 on the phone, now $45 more a month. You’d think he could offer me a better incentive than that. I do already have unlimited tethering, give me a little more incentive to sign up Sprint…

    Now that I’ve got the new iPhone specs and at only $199 to switch to AT&T I’ve got all sorts of other ideas in my head…

    Written By: Gary on May 26, 2008 One Comment

    So I’ve been looking for a new pocket digital camera. I currently have a Digital Camera, a Minolta Dimage Xt 3.2MP; it does photos, movies, audio recording and in a pinch it’ll work as a thumb drive (I think it’ll even work as a webcam on a windows machine). I mentioned it as one of my top 5 electronic toys you can’t live without a few years ago and it still is. It’s awesome it takes wonderful pictures, it’s a nice and small, but it doesn’t work well in low light so when I’m shooting inside, that’s really the only reason why I don’t like it.

    Last night I took it with my on a bike ride, they were already setting up floats for the parade today so I wanted to take a few photos up close. This morning I couldn’t find it anywhere, I really thought I lost it on the way home. So I wondered down to the parade today with my awesome bigger clunkier camera, which takes beautiful pictures, but it’s just a little big to carry around everywhere. Today, it really seemed too big so I pretty much made the decision that I have to go shopping for a new camera today. But sadly, I did another look around before I went shopping and I found the other digital camera.

    I talked on the phone to my mother a few minutes ago and the first thing she said was “Bummer!” because she knew I would have liked to have had an excuse to go buy a new one. I really try not to be too wasteful with my with my technology dollars and buy every new thing that comes out.

    I’ll still be this one for a while longer but I am looking for recommendations on a small everyday camera, especially something that works well indoors but it has to have a viewfinder (I don’t care about the size of the display) and as long as it’s 4+ mega-pixels. Maybe something like a Canon SD1100, SD1000 or SD850, any thoughts?

    Written By: Gary on March 22, 2008 No Comment

    Over the last 24 hours:

    • I’ve been watching live video from DeLoach winery (in Napa Valley?) watching Kevin Rose, Robert Scoble, Gary Vaynerchuk (wine guy) and Tim Ferris ( The 4 hour work week ). And typing questions and getting answers from the live video! Plus we all got an invite to a wine party tonight, but I didn’t get on a plane and go, I really really should have. I think they’ve gone to several vineyards actually.
    • I’ve also sent comments to Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy and gotten responses.
    • I’ve also provided some tech support to a MySpace musician in Kentucky, I’m not yet sure if that solved her problem.
    • Ordered some Blu-Ray DVDs for only $7.99 each: Stargate, Terminator 2 and Total Recall. Now I need a Blu-Ray player…
    • Ordered a (probably mismarked) outdoor George Foreman grill that I probably don’t need for $45 shipped. Deal appears dead or I’d link it.

    And that’s just the out-of-the-ordinary stuff.

    Written By: Gary on February 2, 2008 No Comment

    Who cares!?! Unless you own stock in Yahoo, of course :)

    Microsoft has nothing to offer Yahoo, IMHO, they’ve never been great with the internet (search, MSN, webTV, etc.) and that’s okay. Really, Bill, it’s okay. It really is.

    I’m assuming Yahoo! will take the money and run, unless they’ve got a lot of debt, this is a nice chunk of change (and if they’ve got a lot of debt, this’ll pay it off).

    I do worry about Flickr, Del.icio.us, the nice mobile web portals and whatever other sites that Yahoo owns. But at the end of the day, I think the ‘net will be okay and not have anything to worry about…I don’t really understand the concept of business at 44 billion dollars, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about but I promise I’d be a fast learner if anyone ever put me into into a situation where I would need to learn about it…

    I just think about Guy Kawasaki and he must be really kicking himself for not taking Yahoo’s offer to be president way back in the day. Several years ago I saw him speak and he mentioned that tidbit after mentioning other people’s famous mistakes like “640k is all anyone will ever need”.

    Written By: Gary on January 31, 2008 3 Comments

    If you’ve ever helped anyone with a computer you’ll love this! This is can also be referred to as “The Medieval Helpdesk“.

    This is in Norwegian, so you can probably turn the volume down, but it’s subtitled. I just watched this with a bunch of technology directors and we were all laughing out loud.

    Written By: Gary on January 26, 2008 One Comment

    My Apple TV has been one of my favorite technology purchases and I never expected that I’d like it that much. Actually, I’d been interested in it but it took a visit to Best Buy, after happy hour, for me to finally commit to the 40 GB version. I took it back a few days later but only because I knew I needed the 160 GB version, bigger is better after all…

    Apple TV is pretty much an ‘iPod for your television’ and iPods are pretty much the standard to beat for portable media players (at least the standard for handheld audio players) so these should be selling much better. I’ve always been impressed with my Apple TV and had been surprised they hadn’t really caught on more than they have. The Apple TV interface is excellent, it’s as good as the TiVo (except it doesn’t record), you can buy videos (and music) on your computer to load it up, but that is a little inconvenient for some people. You can convert videos for it, but that’s not for the average user. I knew it was close to what people want but it wasn’t exactly there yet.

    A few weeks ago at MacWorld they announced movie rentals for the Apple TV. $2.99 for old movies, $3.99 for new ones and $1 more for HD quality. Plus, you can buy music (and music videos) on-line and view/subscribe to podcasts (for free). They changed the interface, I personally think it’s a little more complicated, but since you need to be able to browse an infinite number of music and movies I can understand it (and maybe I’ll like it too). This new interface is free to original Apple TV owners and should show up in a few weeks (I keep checking).

    I heard all this when they announced it and I’ve been mulling it around in my head, but I finally just watched that part of the keynote from MacWorld (on my Apple TV, of course) and now I really think this is getting even closer to being the media box for your TV.

  • If I can start watching a movie in about 30 seconds, why am I going to rent something from the store? (there is a 30 day wait after a DVD release)
  • Why am I going to subscribe to Netflix? (all the movie extras and plus for TV shows you I get multiple episodes on one DVD)
  • If I can purchase a song the instant I need it, why am I going to run out and buy the album? (at least I think I can purchase a song, I saw Steve purchase a music video).One of the biggest shortcomings of this (and all digital video rental systems out there) is that you only have 24 hours from start to finish. It’s just not long enough, if I start it at 8 tonight, I need the ability to finish it tomorrow at 8 or 9 in the evening. Because of that, I think 30 hours is the minimum I need to seriously consider this as a way to watch movies (at least for me). As you increase the time to 36, 48 or even 72 hours it makes this a much better option, especially for the impulse buy. I know “they” don’t want bunches of other people to borrow it and view it so they longer the time, the higher the chance of this. Maybe they can do something to cripple it, maybe after 24 hours any viewed portion is not viewable any more, that’s slightly complicated but it makes it a little more fair and might make the movie companies a little happier, IMHO…

    But TiVo has had these features for a while now: music and photo streaming from your computer for years now, podcasts (very limited menu selection) for a few years too and recently they’ve added movie / TV rentals from Amazon Unbox (but you wait hours for it to download). I wonder if there are more TiVos than Apple TVs out there??

    I’m confused about a few things:

  • Can you buy a movie from the Apple TV interface?
  • Can you push HD movie rentals down to your computer or iPod? (I don’t think they said that specifically for HD).

    Things I’m not confused about, but I’m wondering:

  • How long until I can access media from my Time Capsule?
  • How long until I can rent TV shows?
  • How long until I subscribe to TV shows at a reasonable rate?
  • How long until I can dump my cable package?
  • How long until the cable internet and DSL providers complain about the bandwidth that is being used up? FYI, where the Apple TV requirements list a “broadband connection” it also says “(fees may apply)”.
  • Is the hardware in the new Apple TV exactly the same? I know the software is going to be the same, but I don’t think they said it was exactly the same either.
  • How long until the 30 day wait before renting (after new releases) is removed and I can rent as soon as it’s out? (they don’t have a delay before music purchases).

    Complaints about the Apple TV:

  • I need a video playlist option. I want to have a way to link these video podcasts and music videos into my own personal non-stop “channel”.
  • I need a way to find this tiny remote when I misplace it. It’s so small and light.
  • It needs a regular video-out and S-video out for people who don’t yet have TVs with component video or HDMI.
  • They still don’t have a use for the included USB port.
  • I think I’m gonna need a bigger hard drive!

    Also, they announced a price drop of $70 for the Apple TV.

  • Written By: Gary on December 22, 2007 2 Comments

    XoboxBut I just haven’t had time to play with it. I’ve been working, shopping or sick (something hit me yesterday in the middle of the night, but I’m way better now) and there just hasn’t been the time.

    It’s funny this morning I got my e-mail notice that it was shipping with my tracking number and everything (don’t forget, I got my laptop this past Wednesday). It also included my T-Mobile activation info, which I sadly cannot get to work.

    MyxoopenThe laptop is way cool, it’s nice and tiny, feels durable and has great reception. It could be a little snappier speed-wise, but if every kid in the world had one of these things it be interesting to see where we are in another 10-20 years. Heck, if every adult had one (and learned to use it) it’d be interesting to see where we’d be.

    I can’t wait to see what I can eventually make this do…

    Written By: Gary on December 5, 2007 No Comment

    So I’m always trying to adjust the date and time on my camera, making it fit the time zone I’m in / adjusting the time changes (DST) and it’s pretty much just turned into a pain to keep correct. I’m thinking of just using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and then it’ll always be right and if I even need to know when I took a picture it’ll technically be right and I’ll be able to figure out the difference (if I need to).

    I’ll have to test a few photos to Flickr and a few other places to see if they adjust or do anything to offset the time from where I say I am. Anyone who’s also been annoyed by this have any thoughts on the matter?

    Written By: Gary on September 15, 2007 No Comment

    These deals probably won’t last (especially the cables) but I thought I’d mention them:
    Cablestogo

  • Cables to Go kit $9.99 (free ship) – I’ve never seen these this cheap without a rebate. All sorts of travel computer retractable cables, even if you don’t travel you probably need a set of these for home.
  • $1.99 Domain names at Yahoo – New customers only and probably only one name but if you’ve been thinking of getting a domain name, why not now?!?
  • 25% off at Borders – Good through the weekend. They might make you get a free rewards card, but it doesn’t say required.I just bought two of the travel kits (and a few for work), I’ve bought multiple names from Yahoo! in the past and I’ve bought lots of books using these coupons so they’re all pretty good deals.

    (None of the above are affiliate links – I just thought the cables were a great deal to mention so I threw in a few others).

  • Written By: Gary on July 27, 2007 No Comment

    It went down again. And it took two calls for someone to be able to tell me they are aware and fixing it. They need a way to keep customers all up to date. Have they ever heard of a status page (or a blog)? I wouldn’t mind any downtime if I could check on it in just a few seconds.

    Now it seems as if my permissions are goofed up in some directories.

    I’m not sure why you aren’t/weren’t seeing all the post content all the time…

    I’d get rid of them if they weren’t so awesome when they were working!!

    Tags: [, ]
    Written By: Gary on July 23, 2007 One Comment

    So the future of television is certainly changing. The networks haven’t completely caught on yet, but they will. In a day when users can download higher quality video than they currently receive, get shows from parts of the world that aren’t available and have the advantage of having no ads and are free (please note this means stolen). We can also buy many of these videos from the iTunes store or Amazon UnBox for $1.99 an episode (iTunes has some at 99 cents for an episode and sometimes get that cheap if you subscribe for season). I know “legal” is not what people think when they hear the word BitTorrent, but BitTorrent.com even sells shows legally these days.

    If I could subscribe to a lot of the shows I enjoy for 99 cents an episode and have them automatically download to my AppleTV, TiVo, iPod or other device I’d never have anything more than basic cable. I’m sure this goes for a lot of people. Everything needed (except the mentality) to do this currently exists. The networks and producers of these shows need to somehow start embracing this model before it gets even easier for people to get (steal) these shows for free.

    Or charge me significantly less and let me trade the produces some statistical information about myself and let them insert in advertising relevant to me. Give me geeky ads, movie and TV show previews that I like, music that I like. Advertise events and concerts that are taking place where I live. I don’t need diaper ads, tampons, bad credit information, refinancing, ads for cars that cost $50,000+, ways to give up smoking. With the right information instead of advertising a new bed which I may have just purchased, they can advertise new pillows or new sheets (and mark in their files to start giving me new bed advertisements in another 5 years) that I might actually purchase.

    Even better, let me give “them” lots of information about me, which I’ll update a few times a month with information about what I’ve purchased or I’m shopping for (who in my life has a birthday coming up) or where I’m traveling to. And they can actually pay me to watch television! I’m not looking for a lot of money but just something to make it worth giving them info (besides, think of how much you’d save on cable if it was free!). Maybe some hotel discount coupons when I mention a vacation, or a coupon for Best Buy when they know I’m looking for a new video camera.

    Written By: Gary on July 22, 2007 2 Comments

    My AppleTV is awesome! An “iPod for your TV” is a accurate description. I ran the software update (painless!) and it gave me YouTube videos and fixed “enhanced podcasts”.

    It mirrors one of your computer’s iTunes just like an iPod does (and allows you exceptions) and will stream from any other computers running iTunes (platform independent) and I don’t think there is a limit. I can’t believe how fast it pulls hi-res movie previews from Apple down to the unit, it’s very very fast. It’s actually much faster than pulling down YouTube videos (many which are low-res).

    It really streams full-scren video from other computers really efficiently. Very rarely does it need a moment to catch up. It has no problem with steaming audio. It almost makes no sense to download podcasts, I bet you could stream them live if you had a way to just get the RSS feeds onto the AppleTV.

    With “enhanced podcasts” it now properly advances the embedded images to follow along with the audio. The problem is that it just shows them to the side like the album artwork, some images are much larger so it really cheats you by scaling them down. Since you don’t use the up/down keys on the remote during this process “up” would be a great way to enlarge the images.

    I have the same image size concern when viewing slideshows with the “Ken Burns effect”, sometimes I want to view the whole image. Once again this would be another great use for the up button. The down button could be used for viewing filenames, date, time and other info about the images. Actually, this would be a good use for the down button while viewing videos or audio.

    A few more features (like on the TiVo) like weather, movie listings and maybe Flickr photo viewing and it’d be even better…What I don’t like is that it only lets you sync with one computer. I’d like to sync music with one, videos with another and podcasts with another (not so sure if I care about the latter).

    What I need:
    1) A way to automatically convert videos and stick them into iTunes for me (so when I drop/download a file to a folder, it starts processing for me). I could probably do this via Mac or Windows….

    2) A way to play other file formats on the AppleTV, such as AVI and DiVX files. I think I can hack it to do that but I’m not sure if I want to take it apart yet.

    Written By: Gary on July 21, 2007 One Comment

    So I’ve been very interested in the AppleTV and never got around to trying it. But I was feeling pretty happy after happy hour yeast and Best Buy has a good return policy so I’m now the proud owner of an AppleTV (40GB). It’s very cool. Very easy to install. Very easy to configure. Pure yummy Apple perfection. And there is no way I’m going to return it!

    Two user-interface suggestions:
    1) They need a better distinction between the computer you sync with and the computers you stream from. This needs to be better in the AppleTV and in iTunes.
    2) The top menu item says AppleTV and it looks like it’s a title and not a menu item (it actually takes you back to the main menu) and it’s confusing. I’ve read about this but I forgot about it…
    3) Put in a DVD player and a video/s-video port. (This doesn’t count since it’s not an interface issue).
    3b) Safari would be cool too! This would just be for .Mac members so it would interface with your bookmarks!

    If you think you’d like one of these, then run and go get one, it’s way cool.

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