1. Repairing the Glass Front Panel on an iPhone 3GS

    brian on 2010.12.04 at 04:05 pm

    You’ve dropped your beloved iPhone and smashed the front glass. There are few things more sad. This scenario played out for my wife, who had dropped hers this summer, only 9 months into her AT&T contract. Luckily the phone was still very usable; it was just not easy to see anything on the top third of the display.

    If you’ve cracked your iPhone, you may already know that your warranty does not cover accidental damage (although, you should check with your credit card company…some, especially AMEX, will pay for a replacement if you bought it with a qualified card!). You’ve probably inquired with Apple and they’ve told you they offer a “service replacement” for $200. Cheap? No.

    It is possible to repair an iPhone yourself and probably for less than $200. You can find repair kits and extensive instructions online. Let me put this out there as a (former) triple-Apple-certified technician: it is not easy to repair your iPhone. My recommendation is that you don’t try this yourself unless you’re experienced at repairing electronics with extremely small components and tight tolerances.

    Now that I have that disclaimer out there, I do have experience repairing Apple electronics. So I repaired my wife’s display using a kit and instructions from It was not easy. The instructions themselves rank the repair as “Difficult”. The repair is very simple, but one step in particular is very difficult. Removing the front glass panel from the components that are glued to it is challenging. With the proper tools, it took me more than an hour.

    I’m writing this post for anyone who has also bought the iFixit iPhone 3GS Front Panel kit so if you get stuck where I got stuck, hopefully Google has lead you to this post and my commentary is helpful.
    Pulling the glass from the plastic
    Keep reading for the full details.

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    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  2. iPad: A shift

    brian on 2010.01.29 at 12:40 am

    The Apple iPad

    There’s a lot of talk every time Apple releases a new product. The vast majority of that judgement comes without ever having seen or touched the new product. Hey, I can do that too.

    I almost wasn’t going to share my thoughts after reading Jeff Croft’s blog post about the iPad this morning. But I’m hardly one to be shy.

    I think the iPad is the future of the PC. Period. Looking at the specs, it’s easy to dismiss the iPad as just an up-sized iPhone. The fact of the matter is, it basically is. So how is “now” equal to “the future”? The answer, lies in Japanese mobile phone habits.

    In Japan, a majority of people count their mobile phone as their primary computing device. Their phones are typically capable of many more things than your typical handset. Until the iPhone went on sale in Japan, non-Japanese phones sold very poorly in the that market, because they couldn’t handle the day-to-day computing that people had become accustom to. For the past ten years, the mobile web has been a part of daily life for many Japanese.

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    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  3. O'Reilly: Soothsayer or Condemner

    brian on 2009.11.18 at 12:15 am

    Tim O’Reilly is getting a lot of links to his “War For the Web” piece. For the most part it’s worth a read. However, I wonder what goes through a “guru”‘s mind sometimes when they write lofty pieces like this. Do they just run it off all in one blast, (like I will on this post) or do they let it sit a couple days, edit, rethink and then post?

    I ask because in the middle of his piece, where he names those who “threaten” the future of the open web, he goes after Apple’s App Store policy, exposé-style:

    The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.

    There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits – there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.

    So, because Apple limits what apps can be on the phone, they’re closing down the web? Um… wha? The iPhone is a bit more than just a web-access device, by the way.

    He says “one glaring loophole” as if Apple mistakenly forgot to lock down Safari to only approved websites. Name the last time Apple forgot to lock something down in error. The iPhone is not the web. iPhone Apps don’t alone give access to the web. The device, although popular with geeks, doesn’t have the marketshare it’s influence might lead you to believe.

    Secondly, there’s nothing in HTML5 that is available in the iPhone that Apple only allows access to by an App. No, a web app doesn’t have access to various APIs available in the iPhone, but those functions aren’t part of the (actually still incomplete) HTML5 specs. In other words, Apple hasn’t broken anything web related. In fact, they should be given credit for a) bringing HTML5 to the mobile world b) being a forebearer of HTML 5 in the first place… hello? WebKit? You know, free, open-source and the same thing Chrome and a number of mobile browsers are based on? C) bringing the real web of any kind to a phone.

    I’m all for a transparent App Store review process, and I’d love to see Google Voice natively on the iPhone. But this passage simply lacks logic. It’s more as if Mr O’Reilly needed more big names to bash in his piece.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology · Web

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  4. Solar powered cell phones in Kenya

    jake on 2009.09.10 at 06:24 pm

    Every time a friend moves to a foreign country for a while that country comes up on my radar more frequently. It happened when Kate went to Australia and it seems to be happening now that my friend Pete is going to Kenya.

    Yesterday Rocketboom’s field correspondent Ruud Elmendorp submitted a piece about solar powered cell phones now available in Kenya. With the problems they have getting sustained electricity citizens have trouble communicating. Now they can place a call without traveling to a distant landline.

    Posted in: Technology

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  5. On the Acceptance of Reality

    brian on 2009.09.02 at 10:38 am

    Do you like Merlin Mann? I sure do. But something he wrote last night irks me, and I’m going to tell you about it, at length. That’s what blogs are for. I hope that you the reader can learn some valuable lessons from his recent situation.

    Let’s recap said situation. Merlin, Mac user since January 1987™, is writing a book on a deadline. He owns 5 Macs, uses things like Quicksilver, TextMate and Photoshop and considers himself to be a “power user.” I think it’s clear form those three apps that he qualifies.

    Regardless of the fact that he’s on a deadline and the fact that it’s widely known that when you install a new operating system (you know, something critical to the running the machine and all its software) there will be incompatibilities with old software, he decides to hold everything and install Mac OS X 10.6 (aka Snow Leopard) on all of his Macs. Not just one to see if it’ll work for him, he runs out and installs it on all his Macs.

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    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology

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  6. Using the Right Tool for the Job

    brian on 2009.08.23 at 06:18 pm

    If you don’t follow my education/design/technology blog, Evolve, you may be interested in a post I wrote a couple days ago that talks about using the right tool for the job, not just the popular one. Everyone knows I’m a big fan of Twitter, but here I call out a situation where I believe it’s misused. Have a look.

    Tech Etiquette or Using the Right Tool for the Job

    Posted in: Technology

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  7. Innovation Sometimes Moves Backwards

    brian on 2009.06.13 at 01:36 pm

    There’s a certain irony about CamelBak. Perhaps one of the most interesting innovations in sporting goods in the last 20 years was their invention of the “hydration system.” Essentially, it’s a rugged plastic bag with a hose and a bite valve that you drink water out of on the go. You keep it in a backpack. Since getting water from it is so much easier than stopping to access a bottle, you can suck down little bits much more often and stay hydrated more efficiently. And it holds a lot of water, and keeps it insulated for hours. It’s so effective that the U.S. military puts them on the back of every solider in the field. It’s a great product, and I’ve used one (I’m on my third) since their invention. The newest ones are really useful, sport-tailored bags, which increase their utility.

    So where’s the irony in that? There’s no irony in their outstanding product, which now has been copied by a hundred competitors. It’s in their web site. While their products have evolved to become more and more useful and innovative, their web site has gone in the opposite direction. I didn’t realize this until recently.

    Read on to see how their products and web presence diverge…

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    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  8. How Many MacBooks?

    brian on 2009.04.05 at 07:07 pm

    Andy Ihnatko is a wonderfully talented tech columnist for MacWorld, the Chicago Sun-Times and others. If you only read two Mac/Tech columnists make it Ihnatko and Gruber.
    However, “How many MacBooks?” was uncharacteristic for Andy. It was an excellent troubleshooting piece wrapped in some tales of woe about machines Andy has owned over the years. This is the quote that prodded me to write this blog post:

    Apple has a reputation for screwy hardware


    This is an absolutely ridiculous statement. Now, having been published in MacWorld, perhaps the epicenter of Mac fanboydom, they came out of the woodwork with their list of every Apple product they’ve ever owned and how none of them have ever needed a reboot. That is to be expected. I feel I can be a little more objective (pauses to listen for the peanut gallery snickering).

    (Read on for my objective analysis…)

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    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Technology

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  9. Considering a Flip? Check this First

    brian on 2008.12.10 at 01:03 am

    Buying a Flip? check out Beau Colburn’s comparison of the Flip Ultra vs the Flip Mino HD

    You may have seen me complain about this on Twitter, (Beau and I went to high school together) but in reality, this post is a seriously useful resource for anyone considering getting one of those lovely Flip cameras.

    Posted in: Hardware · Media · Technology

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  10. A Good Day for the Internet

    brian on 2008.11.05 at 12:03 pm

    Tuesday, November 4th, Americans participated in a historic election. Record number of voters turned out to vote. When the returns were in, people in cities across the nation took to the streets in celebration, as if their town had just won the World Series.

    But a few other things happened that went almost unnoticed yesterday, that are relevant to our discussion on this blog.

    First, the election of this historic figure, Barack Obama, may not have been possible without today’s Internet. The Internet has played a significant role in at least the last two elections, but this campaign was different. The level of sophistication has reached a threshold level. In technological terms, household and business bandwidth and penetration have increased significantly since 2004. This allowed more people to use the Internet to learn about the candidates, discuss their opinions, like previous years, but more so.

    But this year we had much improved social tools to motivate and organize voters and volunteers. The official campaign website listed no less than 16 social networks they were active on. We had wide-spread text messaging and services like Twitter distributing precisely timed messaging directly to people’s phones. This was the first truly mobile-enabled election in the United States.

    One thing the Obama campaigned used their Twitter account for was notification of live streaming web broadcasts of their candidate’s many speeches. I think this was a key breakthrough for campaigns. Prior to this, it was difficult to see a candidate deliver an uninterrupted, unfiltered, un-sound-bitten speech. In a world of 24-hour new networks, this is the next step.

    Not only did they stream their live speeches, but then they archived them for any-time watching on their site, and they also made excellent use of YouTube as a distribution service. I’m on record for saying I hate the term “Web 2.0” but the things that people lump under that title… almost all of them contributed to the victory of the Obama campaign.

    But the most interesting part is yet to come.

    Mr Obama is a savvy fellow. He knew he had to build upon the groundbreaking technological grassroots (the so-called “netroots”) movement of the 2004 Howard Dean campaign. Luckily, Governor Dean is the current chair of the DNC. The people who backed Governor Dean never stopped developing and helped build Mr. Obama the most effective campaign in American history.

    After this amazing integration of technology and human get-out-the-vote machinery, will an Obama campaign move forward with making the White House more open to citizen involvement? Don’t forget, Sen. Obama was behind the legislation that created a public website that allows citizen to see how the budget is being used.

    Mr. Obama supports net neutrality. Also, Mr. Obama will be the first President with an iPhone.

    Lastly, one other thing remarkable happened yesterday. Broadband in the United States got a huge shot in the arm when the FCC OK’d the Unlicensed Use of Television White Spaces.

    If that means nothing to you now, it will. WiFi makes use of unlicensed radio spectrum to provide wireless, fast Internet in small spaces. The so-called “White Spaces” may have the same effect, except it will cover the same territory of broadcast television signals. That’s huge.

    In all, yesterday was a good day for America, democracy and technology.

    Posted in: Politics · Recent Events · Technology · Web

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  11. Gotta Get a Drobo

    brian on 2008.07.08 at 11:24 pm

    Have you heard about the Drobo ? I’ve thought it was a wonderful idea for a long time: A little box in which you place however many hard drives you have, in whatever capacity they may be, and Drobo treats them like a RAID 1 & 5 simultaneously.

    If anyone out there isn’t geeky enough to know a RAID allows you to store data in multiple places in case of drive failure. The group of disks acts as if it’s one simple drive on your computer.

    This is a Drobo

    However, RAIDs have their drawbacks. The main one being maintenance. Set up is a bear and recovery from a disk failure is tough. Your disks need to be matched in capacity. Drobo claims to have fixed all this. Drive fail? All your data is still available. Two disks may even be able to fail and you could still be up and running. Drobo filled up? Eject your smallest disk and insert a larger one. Drobo will rearrange. Ejecting is super easy. An array of lights tell you disk status and capacity status.

    Very cool. And until today, I wouldn’t want one because it was USB 2.0 only. I’m no fan of USB.

    Today, Drobo heard me and released a new version with both USB 2.0 and Firewire 800. Nice. Wish granted.

    Except I don’t have $500 for an empty one. Maybe some day soon.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  12. Belatedly Announcing My New Blog

    brian on 2008.06.09 at 01:45 pm

    I was holding off until I had a few posts in the system to announce my latest blog project, but then I simply forgot that I hadn’t ever noted its launch here! I had to read through our archives back till August of 2007 to make sure I hadn’t posted about it (when I first installed the software for the new blog.) Alas, I’ve buried the lead!

    I’d love for you to check out my new blog, Evolve.

    At Evolve I’ll be examining where education meets technology and design. I think so many people are focused on EdTech, but so few are focused on getting the user interaction right. Many think technology will make education better, but it can’t do that by itself. Like raw steel, it must be hammered and formed and bent into submission by skilled and passionate craftsmen, so that technology serves its masters. Much of that forming is experience and interaction and visual design. If books were as poorly designed as most educational web sites, no one would read.

    Join me in fighting the good fight at Evolve.

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  13. Audio/Video Internet Chat Tips

    brian on 2008.04.09 at 11:35 pm

    I’ve done a lot of live audio and video broadcasts on the web. I produce our virtual seminars (some people call them “webinars”) at work, and I’ve done a good deal of audio/video chats through both iChat AV and Skype. Here’s some tips and voodoo I’ve learned from that experience that should help the quality of your live, online audio and video.

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    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  14. Unfit to use Air

    brian on 2008.03.11 at 12:31 pm

    Steven Levy is not to be trusted with your technology.

    As humiliating as it sounds, let me repeat: the MacBook Air is so thin that it got tossed out with the newspapers.

    MacBook Air

    Yup. Technology journalist whose work is read world-wide is unfit to use a MacBook Air. Let’s hope he never gives a bath to a baby.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  15. Two Weeks of Comcast HD TiVo Service: Complete or Total Disaster?

    brian on 2008.02.12 at 02:41 am

    What follows is the story of our first two weeks with the brand new, Comcast HD TiVo service. The merges the Comcast HD cable settop box with the DVR recording capabilities of TiVo software.TiVo logo

    The experience, while having so much potential for a quality product at a fair price, has been nothing short of disastrous. Read on to find out how.
    Comcast logo

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    Posted in: Technology · Television

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  16. New iPod or Better Playlists?

    brian on 2008.02.03 at 10:22 pm

    I received an email from a good friend down in Brooklyn a couple days ago. She asked for some advice regarding her iPod that I think may be useful for others in her situation. In short, thanks to her love of podcasts she had filled her iPod mini to capacity. She was writing to ask for advice on purchasing a new one. I offered this advice first, so that she might be able to better decide if a new one was truly needed, or whether a few small changes to her settings might serve her equally as well.

    The only thing I might mention before you run out and buy a new iPod is to consider the syncing capabilities of iTunes and playlists for your podcasts. I have had to employ this on my iPhone, since it’s only 8GB. I created a playlist in iTunes with which the iPhone syncs that’s a good sampling of my larger library. Then I left a couple gigs to play with. With that I can load on videos and podcasts.

    What I have done is chosen which podcasts I’m likely to listen to on the iPhone and I sync only those to the phone. I also limit those to only the last three unlistened episodes of each will remain on the phone when I sync next. There are lots of options on how to do this (you can say only un-listened-to podcasts get synced, or have larger or smaller numbers of podcasts that remain on your iPod after a sync (e.g. give me the most recent 5 podcasts). Once you do that, then you have a steady amount of podcast data on your iPod that doesn’t grow after every sync. Back on iTunes you can archive all the old shows, if you think you’d ever listen to them. Also, podcasts you’re not likely to listen to ‘on the go’ you can keep on your iBook. Sudden urge strikes? At any time you can grab a specific episode and drag it on to your iPod without restructuring all of your hard work!

    Once this is all set up, all you have to do is plug the iPod in, perhaps daily, and iTunes does all the hard work for you. In fact, on newer iPods, if you sync and there are partially-listened podcasts, each device (iTunes, your iPod) knows where you stopped listening and if you then continue to listen to the show on either device, it picks up right where you left off. Very cool.

    This method may make your old iPod feel new again! I’m not trying to talk anyone out of a new iPod–I certainly enjoy new toys–but this may be all that’s needed in this case. iTunes has really powerful playlist and smart playlist capabilities that are mostly unknown to the general public.

    That said, if your iPod is in the two-year-old range, then it’s battery is probably starting to decline. New iPods have better batteries and are more power efficient. Also remember, Apple Stores will give you a 10% discount on the purchase of a new iPod when you recycle your old one at the time of purchase.

    Posted in: Apple · Music · Technology

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  17. Twit or Twerp?

    brian on 2008.01.05 at 01:22 pm

    In this case it’s good to be a twit and bad to be a twerp. This article lays it out–one of a handful I’ve seen recently–so this Twitter-use issue is clearly bugging others in addition to me.

    Are you a Twit or a Twerp –via SteveGarfield of

    Case in point, I’ve been trimming my “following” list to cut out the “twerps.” One recent example is someone I’ve actually met in person, shares two key professional interests with me, is really sharp and friendly. But he would often break all the etiquette rules: tweeting 10 times an hour, having conversations over twitter, psuedo-spamming tweets that advertise every move he makes professionally. Repeat after me: Twitter does not exist to be your spam mechanism.

    The worst part was when he would tweet from church! I’m fine if you want to be open and excited about your faith. But I’m not OK with the play-by-play of the sermon. Four tweets in an hour, all preaching, all from a pew in church? That saddens me. What do his fellow worshippers think when they see him on his phone during the sermon?

    I don’t think that people who are that into church realize that excessive preachiness puts more people off from your faith than attracts to it. And again, Twitter does not exist to be your personal preaching mechanism. Unless you’re a pastor and the point of the account is to spread some faith to your flock. That would actually be a very cool usage of the service! The key here is that the tweet stream would not include tweets from the pastor when he’s annoyed standing inline at the grocery store. It would serve one purpose.

    So, if you want me to follow you on Twitter, be yourself, not a marketer (it’s OK to tell me you’ve launched a new product or made a new blog post so long as it doesn’t make up more than 20% of your content). If you feel there’s an audience for your marketing message via Twitter, please make an account just for that, so that I may opt not to follow it. But if you are interested in me following you, just tell me “What are you doing?”

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  18. Oh, headphones

    brian on 2007.12.27 at 04:55 pm

    Today I received this from a friend,

    Hi, Brian. I have a set of headphones that is supposed to block outside noise, but they’re not working as well as I had hoped. Is there a brand you recommend? I don’t want to blow out my ears on the subway by increasing the volume of my iPod. Thanks for any advice.

    Well, I do have some experience riding the train and subway with headphones and an iPod. I was able to reduce the volume of my iPod by about 15% by using in-ear headphones. There are lots of choices, so here’s the volume I incoherently sent her:

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    Posted in: Hardware · Music · Technology

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  19. Cable Taking a Chunk out of the FCC?

    brian on 2007.12.13 at 01:12 am

    Just as the FCC was getting close to actually regulating the cable industry, comes a cable-industry backed proposal in Congress to continue to duck their regulation. An F-type Connector for Coaxial Cable is used to connect cable networks to televisions.

    There’s currently a rule that says the FCC can regulate the cable industry when cable is available to 70% of U.S. households and 70% of those households that have the opportunity to subscribe, do.

    Well we’re almost there. Unless (surprise!) a Republican from Tennessee has her say about it. Would it surprise you that she’s received a great deal of money from that industry in her career? Me, neither.

    Posted in: Media · Politics · Technology

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  20. New Term: IMMC

    brian on 2007.11.09 at 04:10 pm

    There’s a new term that you should be familiar with on the Internet.

    Definition: When two or more musicians create music together, while recording remotely and sent across the Internet for mixing and additional layering.

    Example: Pretend Postal Service’s “Give Up.” collaboration occurred with digital files transmitted online, instead of through mailing CDs back and forth. That would have been IMMC. Instead the Postal Service used PMMC – Postal-Mediated Musical Collaboration.*

    Thanks to Jeff for providing the context in which I coined this term over IM. You, too, are now part of history.

    * The Postal Service website is so braindead that it delivers the collaboration-via-post story in a deep-linkless Flash presentation, so I can’t actually link to the second page of the biography section. Lame. If you’re interested, you’ll sadly have to dig yourself.

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  21. GMail goes IMAP and Brian goes Mobile

    brian on 2007.10.24 at 03:16 am

    Not that this is a tech news blog, but Google is quietly rolling out IMAP support in GMail, both in regular and hosted, “Google Apps for your domain” accounts. (And if you didn’t notice, doubled your storage capacity)

    It was a race for me personally, between a mobile version being available for my Google hosted email (for or IMAP. I figured if they were going to do IMAP, they would have done it by now, plus they already had a mobile friendly version of regular GMail, not to mention iPhone-specific interfaces Google Calendar and iPhone-friendly (if not exactly “specific”) for Google Reader.

    Guess I was wrong.

    I guess that also lets the lolzcats out of the bag on some personal technology news: I have an iPhone.

    Many of you out there know I was waiting or rev. 2, but I received the iPhone from (for?) work, so I’m not going to look this gift horse in the mouth (quickly looks anyway – wow! not too shabby for a gift horse!)

    I may still get iPhone rev. 2 and hand down my phone to Amanda, but that’s probably not yet in the cards. I think she may think its a little too much for her usage. If/when the $100 Palm Centro comes to AT&T, she may consider that. She was pretty impressed by it in David Pogues review. And it’s $300 cheaper, in case she drops it.

    I’m sure I’ll blog more about the iPhone in the near future, but for now two notes: it’s pretty freaking cool, and I’m no longer the object of pity from my Apple-employed friends.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  22. Adam Engst on Twitter

    brian on 2007.10.11 at 12:26 am

    Adam of Tid-Bits fame writes up Twitter, explaining why at first he thought it was useless until the network effect and good content from his friends came across. Offers practical advice to people just discovering Twitter…

    Confessions of a Twitter Convert

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  23. Three Tips for New Podcasters

    brian on 2007.09.25 at 09:46 pm

    This October will be my first anniversary in podcasting. I’ve learned a lot in that time, and still have plenty to learn I’m sure. Podcasting is still a young endeavor, but I’m happy find more and more quality podcasts daily. I’m happy to see so many new faces in the game. But, there’s a learning curve in podcasting. I offer this post as assistance to those who are just getting started. These are the things I’ve found most valuable about getting good audio fidelity, which is so important, in my opinion, to keeping listeners.

    Bonus Tip #–1 – If there’s a PodCamp near you, regardless of your experience, go to it! They’re phenomenally useful! What a great place to start.

    Bonus Tip #0 – buy a Mac. Don’t think you like Macs? Hear me out. The software the comes inside makes podcasting significantly easier. GarageBand is a great piece of entry-level software that no other piece of podcasting software matches when it comes to ease of use, and cheap power. If you use a PC, Audacity will probably be your free weapon of choice, and it’s powerful, but damn hard to use. However, Mac or PC, if you need a application to split stereo tracks into two separate files, Audacity is the only app I know which does this. Apple’s cheapest Mac is the Mac mini which is plenty powerful enough to do everything you need. As with any type of editing (video, audio, photo) more RAM is always better. An iMac or MacBook would also make awesome podcast rigs. Plug a USB mic in, like the Blue Snowball, or the dreamy Røde Podcaster, and you’re set for instant one-track recording.

    Tip #1 – learn how to speak into a microphone. Sounds stupid, but what you may not realize is that there’s technique here, that varies from mic to mic! Many microphones need to be address from only a couple inches away. Your mic should include documentation on how to “address” it, and there is a sweet spot. Also not all mics make all voices sound great. You may have to experiment. May I suggested not speaking directly into the mic, straight on, Instead, address it at a 30-45 degree angle. This is to reduce “plosives” the big bangs and pops of various consonants like “B” and “P.” If you’re blowing your air past the mic instead of directly into it, you can greatly reduce these without buying mic accessories. Oh, and don’t tap or bump the table your mic is on!

    Many more tips after the jump, read more!

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Media · Podcasting · Software · Technology · Web

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  24. I wish you used Twitter

    brian on 2007.09.03 at 01:27 am


    It’s your friend Brian. Remember when we used know what each other was up to on a day-to-day basis? The good old days before we had jobs and lived in close proximity? Yes, life has lead us apart a little, as it does. Phone calls, email and even IMs dwindle unintentially. But, some geeks in San Francisco have made something that brings back a little of that day-to-day contact.

    I don’t want this to sound like an infomercial, but there’s this thing called Twitter, and its kinda wonderful. I’d love it if you signed up, and then you and I, and our common friends could all see what everyone else is up to. Its entirely free, and as simple as sending an instant message. 100s of 1000s are using it already, worldwide.

    What is Twitter?

    What is it? 
    Twitter is a community of friends and strangers from around the world sending updates about moments in their lives. Friends near or far can use Twitter to remain somewhat close while far away…

    Ok… so how does it work? You can send updates in three ways: send a text message from your mobile phone, type a message from the Twitter site, or instant message… (source: )

    Its a web service that asks you to simply type what you’re up to, in only 140 characters. Then the service sends your update (known as a “tweet”) to all your friends who you’ve let follow you on Twitter. Your tweet can be something profound or something random. Both are great!

    You can update and receive updates from the web site at, over an IM network (AIM, GTalk), over SMS (text message on your cell phone), and through other things like desktop widgets and plug ins on other websites, like Facebook.

    So, if you have a moment, sign up for Twitter. You won’t get spammed and its super easy to sign up and use. If you’re confused by anything I’ve talked about, email me and I’d be happy to entertain any questions, or send you a direct invite to Twitter. Here I am on Twitter: – my updates are public: anyone can see them and follow my updates. Many people choose to only let their friends follow.

    For the rest of this piece, I’m going to go a little more in depth on Twitter, especially on how to get the most out of it for the least effort.

    The very first thing to realize is that it may take a week or two to really get a lot out of Twitter, because you need to achieve critical mass. Stick with it! You probably need five friends or so to join up and post about three times a day to really get and enjoy Twitter immensely. So perhaps the first two things you should do are 1) commit to posting three times a day, 2) invite a bunch of your friends! You’re welcome to point them to this blog post if you need help explaining what Twitter is – its hard to explain, but easy to love!

    More important stuff is coming up, read on!

    Read More

    Posted in: Cool Info · Technology · Web

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  25. Consumer Electronics Wishlist (Canon PowerShot G9, Sony Ericsson K850)

    jake on 2007.08.21 at 11:18 pm

    This week’s announcement of the Canon PowerShot G9 made the man-toy section of my brain go into high alert. It also made me recall the recent announcement of the Sony Ericsson K850. Two new products I may not need but I definitely want.

    Canon PowerShot G9 The PowerShot G9 could hypothetically be the perfect piece to fit into my camera gap. It can be almost impossible to lug even a smaller SLR around to take quick, simple pictures. And the G9 has the features on paper to fit my needs. The feature that worries me the most involves the RAW support. I love RAW too much to do without it, it’s why I have avoided point-and-shoot cameras in the past. I dealt with the poor RAW capabilities of the Nikon 8800 my dad owns. It is not fun when you have to wait seconds between shots and you miss something. If the reviews in a few months rebut this issue (and I stumble upon $500) the G9 will find a happy home with me.

    Sony Ericsson K850 My W810i is not that old and still more powerful than a lot of phones on the market (ahem, 2 megapixel camera). I’m not really in the market for a new phone. But the K850 is what would happen if my phone started hitting the gym. It even adds onto the quad-band capabilities of my phone. Here’s a list of some of the bonuses I’m drooling over.

    • 5 megapixel camera
    • GSM 850 / GSM 900 / GSM 1800 / GSM 1900 / WCDMA 850 / WCDMA 1900 / WCDMA 2100
    • Expanded Bluetooth capabilities
    • Music formats: AAC, AAC+, eACC+, MP3, MP4, M4A, 3GP, WAV, WMA

    And here’s a full comparison on Phonescoop. Too bad it’ll probably also be around $500 when it hits for an unlocked version.

    Guess I’ll just add them to “the list” then.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  26. Tivoli Internet Radio

    brian on 2007.08.14 at 02:42 am

    We’ve been considering purchasing a Tivoli Model One table radio for our kitchen for a couple months now. We often listen to NPR in the morning as we get ready and I eat breakfast in the kitchen next to an old clock radio that we keep there. Amanda will often pop it on in the afternoon when she comes home from work, while she’s going through the mail or cleaning or what have you. We’ve been thinking that it would be a nice upgrade for us.

    Tivoli's Classy Model One Table Radio

    If you’re uninitiated, the Tivoli table radio is a famous little radio in the home electronics world. It’s intentionally quirky and of unusually high quality – both marks of its creator, Henry Kloss. The model one is Tivoli’s most popular product1 and is simply a mono (one speaker) AM/FM tuner. But it’s one speaker is rich, it’s hand-made quality, hardwood body encloses one of the world’s finest analog tuning circuits (MESFET), with an weighted analog dial for precisely tuning stations.

    The product sparked a renaissance in table radios, including the Bose Wave Radio and the Boston Acoustics Receptor. (Cool note: these are all Boston area companies)

    We were just about to purchase one when they announced a new version, one that incorporates Internet Radio via WiFi!

    Read more to find out the whole scoop!

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Linux · Media · Music · Technology

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  27. Google Documents API Released

    brian on 2007.08.09 at 12:33 am

    Google Documents API Released

    This new API, which re-uses the Google Data API (GData) framework, can be used to upload documents or to grab a list of existing documents. Full text search for grabbing particular documents is supported too…

    Couple questions. One: how long until I have an app that allows me to sync to Google Docs certain docs I have in, say a specific folder? Two: considering this was publicly announced one day before iWork ’08 shipped, and said productivity suite offers support for tons of document formats, and Pages now sports a (Word-compatible) “track changes” option, why is there not an option to export/import or preferably sync with Google Docs?

    Imagine the backup options alone! Forget about the collaboration, even!

    So much potential… iWork’08 sync with Google Docs and Spreadsheets! Now!

    I’d rather do this than put Google AdSense in my iWeb pages.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology

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  28. Facebook and LinkedIn

    brian on 2007.08.07 at 10:42 pm

    Jeff Pulver writing in Business Week that he’s leaving LinkedIn for Facebook for his business networking. Ditto from his personal blog.

    Jeff pulver says he’s leaving LinkedIn for the Facebook. (Yes, actually that’s how the creator refers to it, The Facebook, but I’m going refer to it with out the “the.”) I have been on Facebook for a while, but recently I’ve been considering joining LinkedIn. Here’s why: social vs. professional. On Facebook, I only friend people I can have a non-awkward conversation with. Only people I would or have socialized with in real-life. It’s my offline life, online. As with Twitter, I find it loses value as you add people you only know tangentially, if that. I was looking for a place for personal connections, and I have a blog (actually a couple, and that’s growing too) that the general public can view, without having to know the ins and outs of my personal details.

    I like Facebook a lot. If it becomes a business hotspot, I would love to use it as such, but I couldn’t and will not use it as such in its current form. I need a wall between the personal and the business realm. A friends-facing Facebook and a colleagues-facing FB. I don’t want a potential future client to be reading the sexual bragging of my friends on my Wall. OK, none of my friends have actually done that yet, but since FB gives you that ability, it’s something to think about.

    I suggest making a simple check box when adding a friend, that is similar to a choice that Flickr gives you (Mark this contact as… [] Friend []Family) that would allow you to mark someone as business acquaintance and/or personal acquaintance, and then in the privacy settings you would choose what features are visible to which viewers.

    Will Facebook grow to allow this Janus1-like ability? Will people flock back to LinkedIn after their first personal/professional crossed signal? Only time will tell.

    1 fun fact: Janus–an ancient Italian deity, guardian of doorways and gates and protector of the state in time of war. He is usually represented with two faces, so that he looks both forward and backward.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  29. News: I'm Apparently Going to Grad School

    brian on 2007.07.24 at 02:56 pm

    On a lark I signed in to the University of Massachusetts’ website this morning to check the status of my grad school application. There had been some trouble with them finding various things sent to them, not to mention my belated MAT test scores.

    There at the bottom of the status page, it stated

    It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted to the University of Massachusetts Boston. Your official letter has been mailed.

    So, barring any unforeseen issues, this fall I will be enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston persuing a Masters in Education for Instructional Design and Technology.

    I will continue to work full time, and if I pull A’s, my company will be paying my tuition. That’s a wonderful perk. And of course, I will be blogging the revolution er, my education.

    Posted in: Design · Recent Events · Technology

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  30. Sorry Our Servers are Taking a Smoke Break

    brian on 2007.06.28 at 02:27 am

    I’m a big fan of WGBH in Boston. Tonight, I’m doing some work and listening to their nightly jazz. It’s 11:30 and they’re playing a song that’s just great, and I want to know who it’s by. GBH is down

    Saunter over to and I see this note…

    This site is temporarily down as we are moving the servers to our new building in Brighton, Mass.

    Please pardon the inconvenience. We expect to complete the move quickly, and look forward to welcoming you back to all of our pages soon.

    Because they are handled by a different server, our donation pages are fully functioning and secure. You can still pledge or renew online right now. Thank you for your support.

    Donate using our online donation form

    Thank you for your patience, and come back soon!

    Ouch! So GBH is this world-famous media company (a non-profit, but a seriously successful one) and they have these wonderful new studios in Brighton… and they have to shut down their entire site to move the servers? Really?

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  31. First Personal Podcast

    brian on 2007.06.22 at 04:18 pm

    Last Wednesday, my colleague Josh Porter and I recorded an impromptu podcast as part of an experiment. The experimental software worked, and here’s part one of our podcast:

    Joshua Porter and Brian Christiansen: An Impromptu Podcast.

    In part one we discussed political campaigns’ use of the new “YouTube” medium.

    I hope to get part two up next week.

    Leave any comments here.

    Posted in: Service Announcement · Technology · Web

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  32. OLPC for Iraq?

    brian on 2007.01.29 at 08:59 pm

    On my commute home today, I was listening to an NPR report on the sorry state of education in Iraq today. Many, if not most of the country’s higher ed students are too scared to attend class under threats from the barbaric, hate-filled, ideological death squads that have declared war on secular education.

    Iraq was once proud of its doctors, engineers and professors. Many hoped that with Saddam’s fall and the end of economic sanctions, there would be a resurgence of professional skills.

    But the Ministry of Education says only 30 percent of Iraq’s students are currently attending classes – the lowest level since U.S. troops invaded Iraq four years ago. The universities, which are directly linked to Iraq’s future, are on the verge of collapse.

    Hundreds of professors have been killed or kidnapped, with many more going abroad to save themselves. Understandably this is crippling a country in need of scientists and engineers to rebuild itself into a modern society.

    One thing that was mentioned was that many students stay home based on the commute to class alone, having to navigate the sniper and bomb ridden streets of Baghdad. This brought something to mind… online classes.

    Two major problems exist in Iraq: a) lack of a steady power supply, and b) lack of infrastructure, especially internet access. From what I can tell, there are only two main sources of internet access: cafés and colleges.

    But if you think about it, that actually puts Baghdad ahead of much of the developing world who plan to employ the One Laptop Per Child Initiative (aka the $100 laptop). Three major pieces of the OLPC design are 1) ruggedness, 2) auto-generation of electricity for areas without power, 3) mesh wireless networking for areas without internet infrastructure.

    Perhaps with this system, the students and professors could hideout at home for the most part until Baghdad (or anywhere in Iraq) stabilizes.

    Are engineers going to be able to work on CAD on an OLPC? Obviously not, but at least this provides something to work with. A way to communicate, receive and submit classwork.

    Seems this would be a better use of our billions instead of some of the projects currently proposed for our money.

    Posted in: Technology

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  33. OLPC May Sell Retail

    brian on 2007.01.13 at 03:26 am

    The One Laptop Per Child (aka the $100 laptop) initiative is looking at ways to possibly sell the inexpensive XO device to the general public, says a story from the BBC.

    XO - the OLPC computer

    One idea is that someone who buys one retail would actually buy two, with one being sent to the developing world.

    I would like to go on record as saying Sign me up. I would gladly pay \$200 or \$300 for one of these devices if they would send one to a kid who could benefit.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  34. The News According to ABC

    brian on 2007.01.09 at 09:02 pm

    Today’s Top 3 News Stories according to ABC World News Tonight.

    An iPhone

    Clearly this is just as important.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology · Television

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  35. Mac and TiVo Users Rejoice: You're Screwed!

    brian on 2007.01.09 at 02:26 am

    Tivo to Go ImageThe biggest insult to Mac users who are also TiVo users wasn’t that we’ve gone without TiVoToGo software while Windows users had it for free. Nope.

    The biggest insult (beside the $800 price tag plus additional subscription charges for a Series III which is simply insulting to any human being) is that TiVo has released MacTivoToGo today… but it costs $99. And is still free for PC users.

    Dear TiVO, drop dead. I’m not buying a Series III, I’m not buying MTTG (which wouldn’t even work on a Series III) and perhaps the only other money you’ll ever get out of me is a trickle of the coin I drop into my Comcast subscription.

    It’s a damn shame. TiVO should be a much a better company. They should compare to Apple: make awesome products and have an awesome community supporting you. But their business practices are downright unethical.

    It’s no wonder you’re always on the verge of going out of business: you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re floundering about like a fish out of water. I’ll no longer shed a tear if you go bankrupt. Hopefully an intelligent company will hire your designers and programmers. Or, God willing, someone will snap up your company, hand out pink slips to your whole business team, and keep your brand, selling your wonderful and innovative products at reasonable prices.

    Posted in: Media · Technology · Television

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  36. Great Quotes in Tech Entreprenuership

    brian on 2007.01.02 at 10:19 pm

    And then we arrived at the hotel, and the doorman at the hotel opens up the door to the car, and [Stewart Butterfield] throws up again, right on the carpet. It was terrible. And then he stays up all night. I fall asleep. I wake up and he’s like, “I’ve got a great idea. Let’s make a photo-sharing site.” And that was the impetus.

    Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr

    Posted in: Technology

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  37. Idea for MP3 Car Stereo Listeners

    brian on 2006.12.28 at 08:31 pm

    Something occurred to me tonight, it may be obvious to any one in this situation, but bear with me, I needed a test post from MarsEdit to see if our XMLRPC is finally working.

    Normally, if I’m not listing to my iPod, I do enjoy a number of quality radio stations in the Boston area. WBUR, WGBH, WERS to name a few. However, my ’07 VW Rabbit has an in-dash 6-CD player, which can read mp3 files. Today I tested it for the first time, and it worked as expected. It also has the nice touch of displaying the artist and song names from the MP3’s ID 3 tags. I also loaded in an audio CD. It worked as well, but of course, audio CDs don’t have ID tags.

    So, considering the advantages of ID3 tags, and that you can get considerably more music onto an MP3 CD (between 2 and 10 times more) it would behoove you to burn your favorite CDs to MP3… if you’re into high fidelity, burn your MP3s at 256 or 320kbps. 320 is nearly indistinguishable from CDs to the vast, vast majority of people, and yet a CD track runs 1400kbps… you can see the space savings. Then multiply, in my case, by 6 CD capacity. That’s a lot of music you can hold without ever ejecting a CD.

    The added bonus is that if your in-dash disc changer ever croaks, you’ve only lost CD-R copies of your discs, no big loss. Always head the golden rule, backup, backup, backup.

    Posted in: Auto · Music · Technology

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  38. Cell phones can now be unlocked.

    jake on 2006.11.26 at 09:39 pm

    While a lot of the exemptions are narrow focused and make me sad the cell phone unlocking is a good deal. It’s nice to know that the Librarian of Congress agrees with me.

    “This is a noninfringing activity by the user… The purpose of the software lock appears to be limited to restricting the owner’s use of the mobile handset to support a business model, rather than to protect access to a copyrighted work itself.”

    Starting tomorrow everyone can receive a phone through any carrier and unlock it without fear of repercussion. Once unlocked you can take your phone to another cell provider. Sadly this does not seem to prevent lock in to a network, so Verizon and Sprint could possibly still restrict you in other nefarious ways.

    The absolutely terrible DMCA does not apply to cell phone lock in. Hooray and goodnight!

    Cell phone unlocking legal (for three years) (from Phonescoop)

    Update: Cory’s not as enthusiastic…

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  39. Amazon Unlocks Scale for the Little Guy.

    brian on 2006.11.12 at 03:57 pm

    This article on Amazon’s non-retail services is terribly interesting, and I think, a great direction for Amazon to be going. I wouldn’t expect Wall Street to understand. They don’t like the long term view. Maybe a company like Amazon would be better off as a privately owned company…

    But, what’s more is that I think its good for more than just Amazon… I think these services have the chance of unlocking some of the advantages big businesses have over the little guy. Mom and Pop shops certainly can have a server farm in the back, or a network of retail distribution hubs… but now, they can.

    Take a look at the article. I like Bezos’ attitude.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  40. It's the most wonderful time of the year...

    jake on 2006.10.15 at 06:59 pm

    The leaves are changing, the air is getting crisp, and men with various sharp objects are coming to get you. Halloween is approaching and with it comes all sorts of pumpkin flavored goodies and people playing dress up. I don’t have any reason to dress up this year but I have a beard screaming to be utilized with a costume.

    This year I have been trying to get more in the spirit like I used to. Getting scary movies from Netflix and watching Halloween themed television programming. When I was younger I used to decorate my house even though we were lucky to get ten trick-or-treaters. Now I just clip out interesting pumpkin based recipes.

    Here are some recent links I’ve noticed to help you get in the mood too.

    How is everyone else getting in the mood?

    Posted in: Art · Technology

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  41. Who are you?

    brian on 2006.08.24 at 07:13 pm

    Who, who, who, who? – “The Who(The Who are an English rock band who first came to prominence in the 1960s, and grew in stature to become one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time)”:

    [Note to regular blog readers: This post is my introduction to other participants of 2006 PodCamp Boston. ]

    I’m Brian Christiansen and I’m a blogger. One who doesn’t particularly like the word “blog,” but I’ve been blogging since 2001, and reading them since before that.

    Read More

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  42. iPod + Bose for Hi-Fidelity Home Listening

    brian on 2006.08.24 at 05:47 pm

    My Uncle, whose mountain house I just returned from, is a big fan of classical music and has a nice Bose Lifestyle 38 sound system with which to listen to it with. Bose Lifestyle 38 Audio SystemIt has a clever feature where you import CDs onto its internal hard disk, and it has creative ways of organizing your music. The user interface could use a little help, but the key to the system is that it keeps your music at pristine quality, instead of, say converting it to crummy MP3s. However, when it’s full, it’s full. Bose makes no expansion modules. For my uncle, it is full now, about a year after purchasing it. However, there is hope for him.

    I took the time to write up a basic backgrounder on how to use an iPod to expand his system. You might just say, “Duh, Brian. It’s so easy to just import your music and then play it through his system’s line in.” Apple iPod, Docked in a Universal Dock And you’d be right. However, if you keep with all the defaults, and simplest hook ups, it would work (and be great for most people) but an audiophile would be left dissatisfied. That’s why I wrote the following, which includes a quick background on digital compression techniques. Read on for more.

    Read More

    Posted in: Apple · Music · Technology

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  43. Verizon vs. Cingular Part IV: GSM Triumphant

    jake on 2006.08.18 at 06:46 pm

    Sony Ericsson W810iThe Sony Ericsson W810i has been purchased. Cingular is now collecting my money. Nothing significantly negative has changed.

    The phone is easily the best I’ve ever owned. It’s great that I can synchronize it with Apple’s iSync. Thus Bluetooth is more functional (And I originally thought my low cost headset was the problem, now I see it was the LG phone and Verizon’s proprietary software… though more likely the software). I’m enjoying the interface too. SE did a pretty good job on the software. And easily copying mp3’s to be used as ringtones is a lot nicer than paying $1.99 or whatever Verizon is currently charging.

    Back of Sony Ericsson W810iThe camera is only a slight step up on paper but in reality the pictures come out a lot better. Maybe it will even get me to take more random pictures.

    My reception doesn’t seem to have diminished. I can’t imagine problems in most of the locations I frequent.

    For the actual purchase I went through Cellhut to get the best price. I gently sobbed when I noticed a couple weeks later that Amazon had the phone for about the same price. Amazon is defintely a guilty pleasure (I even have an Amazon Prime account).

    As a bonus I’m now totally ready to go to the other side of the world. Of course we haven’t figured out the little details… like what body of land I’m going to… or how we’re going to get around… (Mainland Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand) but I can rest easy knowing my cell phone is just a sim card away from working.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  44. Plus-Up your run

    brian on 2006.07.20 at 04:47 pm

    If this is a sign of gadgets to come, then I think we’ve all got some smiles ahead. Too bad I don’t run. I guess I need a nano, too. I hope they come out with one for cycling, with a special one-ear headset so I can still hear the road.

    Posted in: Apple · Sports · Technology

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  45. Wireless carriers make my head spin. Verizon vs. Cingular Part III

    jake on 2006.06.28 at 01:12 pm

    Last year I opted for a one-year contract with Verizon so that I could reevaluate my choices quicker. I received a call a couple days ago from Verizon to resign my contract. I queried and luckily I have till August to actually make a decision.

    But now Cingular’s parent company has to go off and screw consumers over again. (from Digg.) Is it really in my best interest to move to a new carrier who could sell my information because they’re feeling especially evil that day? I’m not one-hundred percent comfortable with T-Mobile in my area so I might have to make a lesser-of-two-evils decision.

    Sony Ericsson w810iMy new phone of the day is the Sony Ericsson w810i. Along with quad-band and an upgrade to the camera it also sports all the things I liked about the k750i. Including the high price to buy it unlocked.

    Perhaps I will run a test with T-Mobile to see how well their coverage works in my area. But if that doesn’t work sufficiently I’ll be debating forever in my head whether I should move to new big, crappy company or stay with my old big, crappy company.

    Too bad I can’t just keep it simple… I can get the Ask A Ninja ringtone for either phone, so that doesn’t help. Or just base it on the w810i functioning when I visit Australia.

    And at least if I do switch to Cingular, my new email address ****@*****.*** [email withheld to prevent people like AT&T from acquiring it] will let them know how I feel about them.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  46. BumpTop 3D interface

    brian on 2006.06.24 at 05:31 pm

    A lot of people are talking about an interface experiment called BumpTop

    I viewed the YouTube video (after the QuickTime torrent and standard QuickTime download both proved broken) and was thouroughly impressed. Some great ideas here.

    However, I must also add that I won’t give my GUI up for it anytime soon. It simply doesn’t have enough context. The little icons only have file types… who cares if I can actually pick up and throw files… if I don’t know what they are. Given some context, this would be really cool.

    Downfall number two: this would have to be used in a situation where you don’t need to type much, since it’s pen-driven. I could see how it could be adapted to a mouse/trackpad, however.

    last comment: my computer is much more thoroughly organized than my physical life, and this is because of the 2D restraints placed upon my actions there. Why would I want to go 3D and be able to make a mess? Of course, every day I see many people who make a mess in the 2D world too, so perhaps this is an arbitrary note.

    You can find more info at their website.

    Posted in: Software · Technology

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  47. Mr Gates' Slow Exit

    brian on 2006.06.22 at 09:20 pm

    In fact, when you step back far enough, Mr. Gates’s entire life arc suddenly looks like a 35-year game of Robin Hood, a gigantic wealth-redistribution system on a global scale.

    From David Pogue’s weekly email column. LOL.

    I for one see Mr. Gates departure from Microsoft to devote his time to his Foundation as a very good thing for the world, and I don’t say that cynically. He could go much farther than to reverse his current legacy as nice guy/weasely businessman… and just be remembered as a nice guy.

    Posted in: Technology

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  48. Utah Democrat uses wiki for promotion

    brian on 2006.05.02 at 04:09 pm

    There’s an interview in Wired News with the Democrat who is looking to unseat the senior Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch (aka, “The Man’s Right-Hand Man”) who is also noted for thinking the global climate crisis is “science-fiction.”

    Additionally, Pete Ashdown actually has a wiki where you can help shape his policy. His best policy is based around his support of transparency in government. Hallelujah.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology · Web

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  49. IE7 + MSN = Surprised?

    brian on 2006.05.02 at 04:00 pm

    Some people are getting upset that Microsoft chose to make MSN the default search engine in their new Internet Explorer 7.

    Why is anyone surprised or upset about this?

    Are they also surprised/upset that Microsoft Windows comes with Internet Explorer as its default web browser?

    If MS prevented people from selecting another search as default, or prevented their OEMs from doing so, then there would be reason to get upset.

    Luckily, I found I’m not the only one who feels this way. Besides, if you’re stuck on Windows, you should use Firefox anyway, and there you can get all the Google you want.

    Posted in: Technology

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  50. My morning at the DPH and WiFi

    brian on 2006.03.21 at 03:47 pm

    Today is a day off for me. One of the advantages of a job without 9-5, M-F hours is unusual times off. This week makes that a random Monday and Tuesday my “weekend” off.

    With my day off, I felt like getting out of the house. This was prompted by a lack of breakfast goods. Luckily for my there is an utterly charming café up the street which even embraces my Danish heritage. It’s called the Danish Pastry House and it’s right down the hill from Tufts University.

    I enjoy the DPH’s chai lattes, and have yet to be disappointed in their baked goods.

    Read More

    Posted in: Technology

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  51. NBC gets a clue

    brian on 2006.03.09 at 02:33 am

    NBC is catching on. First all their involvement with the iTunes store, and now this.

    NBC Video

    Now, instead of searching the web for “borrowed” NBC highlights, you can go to the source! We’ve taken your viral favorites and gathered them into one convenient location. Watch. React. Tell a friend.


    Posted in: Media · Technology · Web

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  52. Excellent Example of IT meeting EDU

    brian on 2006.03.07 at 12:56 am

    If I could sum up what I would like to do with the next stage of my professional life, basically if I had to pick my next job, I would probably reference this site. Not that I’m a particularly huge fan of podcasts, but I’m specifically referencing this site: advocating the correct usage of a cool new technology, securely grounded in good pedagogy (not in some IT budgeter’s idea that some how a 3rd grader can benefit from a Palm Pilot in their English class), and presented in a well designed web site, both visually and usably.

    As much of a geek as I may be, one thing that bugs the hell out of me is technology for technology’s sake. No! Technology must fill a need… not create one. Otherwise, it’s just “stuff.”

    Every educational institution should as lucky as UW to have something like this site. This is very similar to what I did at UConn, in my first “real” job. I do miss that job.

    Posted in: Technology

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  53. Today's list

    brian on 2006.02.03 at 05:23 am

    Mass posting. Sorry. Here’s things that interested me from today:

    Cambridge city-wide WiFi by this summer, sponsored by MIT. Quote of the day: “Keville said he does not anticipate any problems because MIT’s bandwidth is ‘ridiculously high.’” When will Medford get WiFi sponsored by Tufts’ fat pipes?

    Transmit 3.5 update
    I use Transmit for our web work, and love it. Rumor has it that Transmit is faster for iDisk uploads, too. I have been able to document that scientifically, but cursory tests have resulted in a resounding “maybe.” Of course, it’s tough with Comcast’s “ridiculously low” upload bandwidth caps.

    iWeb. To try out this app, I built an experimental site for my parents business in one late-night session. Went crazy and bought them a domain, hosted it on our servers, and set them up with business email. The result was

    It’s not a big jump from the “modern” template, but I am impressed with the easy of use, and the ease to create a non-eye-sore site. I am productive in the Pages/Keynote/iWeb interface. I think this is going to be a big hit with the non-HTMLers out there.

    Of course, the code it produces is not the same as a pro-hand coder would produce. It’s use of style sheets could use some work. But it validates XHTML transitional, and I think that’s huge. One giant step in the right direction for Apple, and to think it’s only 1.0. I’d love to use this as a starting point for our hand-coded work. I hope one day the code will be there for me to really tweak out.

    Lastly, I enjoyed some RocketBoom via DTV. And I was exposed to this viral video. Now you’ll have to view it, too. Awww, yeah.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  54. HD comes home

    brian on 2006.01.26 at 09:17 pm

    A few weeks ago I used my corporate discount to purchase a Panasonic LCD HDTV. It’s quite nice. But only today did I get my HD cable box form Comcast.

    I’ve been playing with it all afternoon. This evening, when my lovely fiancé arrived home, we tuned into a The Who concert on INHD. To quote Amanda…

    You can the spit and sweat flying off him!

    Yup. That about summarized HD for us. People look as sickening as they do in real life. The companies sell HD by saying it’s like looking out a window. It’s not that clear, but it’s damn nice.

    I personally have been infatuated with the 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound. That’s hot. Finally get to give my Yamaha Digital Receiver a work out. It’s great when a plan comes together…

    Lastly, I still have a SD TiVo. I’ll post again with all my wirings to set that up to use it to the best of its abilities.

    It wasn’t until today that I realized I’d be buying TiVo’s Series 3 HD DVR when it comes out… hopefully it’ll be just long enough for me to save up all my loose change… this is all slowly bleeding me poor.

    Posted in: Technology · Television

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  55. He said it.

    brian on 2005.12.24 at 01:33 am

    These two blog entries make me nearly tear my hair out.

    {Minor update: I agree with Kottke, there is still good in him…}

    Winer: The user interface on iTunes is awful. It’s the worst piece of crap I’ve ever used…I buy the CDs and scan em in… [explains he lost some music] What did I do wrong? I swear, I have no idea, and I’m a professional software designer. What about the poor schnook who is just a user?

    Take a quick look at his blog, then look around the web for screen shots of Frontier or his OPML… and he thinks iTunes has bad interface? I’d say their interfaces are from the stone age, but that would be an insult to the tools developed then. But wait it gets better…

    What’s better than iTunes/iPod? Why, his Archos.

    Winer: Let’s say I bought an audiobook, it comes on eight CDs, I rip it into eight folders, write a script to name the files 001.mp3, 002.mp3, 003.mp3, etc. From there, if I copy the files to the Archos, it does the right thing when I start playing the first file, it goes to the second, then to the third.

    But the iPod can’t be made to care what the filename is, so it plays them in the order of the ID3 info, which is almost completely random because the ripper has no idea that the eight CDs are actually one big document… So the Archos wins (emph. mine)

    Oh. My. God. I cannot barely refrain from profanity. This expert in software development thinks writing a goddamn script is easier than using iTunes? Are you f*n kidding me? OMFG. It’s simple. You rip it in iTunes, Select all the tracks your ripped, you click Get Info, you give them all the same title (album name) and author (artist). Then close the window, deselect all, then click Get Info on each and make a track number. 1, 2, 3. Move the music to your iPod. Now simply select the album on the iPod and press play… it magically plays in track order. Call it a miracle.

    But, no the Archos is better. That’s why the sweet, seventy year old grandmother today I spoke with today came in with her Archos explaining she takes that ten pound brick with her every where. And when she’s home she listens to it in her Archos speaker system. Yup, that’s right. Oh wait, that was an iPod. The same one “professional software designer” Dave Winer cannot operate. But forgive her. She may have been sweet, but she’s just “poor schnook who is just a user”

    Minor update #2: I might have gone off the deep end in retrospect, but, damn that was cathartic.

    Posted in: Apple · Hardware · Software · Technology

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  56. More on the $100 Laptop

    brian on 2005.11.21 at 05:57 pm

    If you’ve been following the One Laptop per Child initiative as I have been, then you maybe interested in this 8 minute video interview with one of the engineers on the project, from the machine’s unveiling at a recent UN conference in Tunisia. (via )

    I continue to be fascinated with this project.

    They also suggest that some of the companies contracting to build the units may make a commercially available version for purchase by the general public, for perhaps $200.

    Why is this interesting to me, someone with access to dramatically faster and technically advanced computers? It’s the network, as Sun might say. The units, even when powered off, continue to act as WiFi mesh network nodes. Only one or two of the machines need to have a connection to the outside internet for all of them to.

    If this happened in your neighborhood, you would have a peppy and robust shadow internet, even when the power goes out. Imagine the implications for public safety in times of inclement weather and other emergencies. A whole neighborhood or city could keep up to date, with out everyone requiring a generator.

    Oh, the possibilities…

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  57. Aardvark'd DVD

    brian on 2005.11.21 at 03:33 pm

    Watched Joel Spolsky’s documentary trailer today on Google Video. Looks like an outstanding film I’d very much like to see. However, I will not be buying the $20 DVD.

    To me, to see a film once is not worth $20. I have no desire to keep a copy of this potentially interesting film, and even if I loved it, I would never watch it again, and thus have no need for hard copy.

    I might go to a movie theater once or twice a year, and own no DVD movies I bought myself. I put my money where my mouth is. I do watch movies when they come to the small screen, but would watch more if I were allowed more control of where and when I could watch them. I would call this an untapped market.

    I’m certainly not saying everyone (or anyone) shares my views, but I feel Joel, as a leading software business mind, is missing on a big opportunity. Funny that its lacking considering his last entry on digital media distribution!

    I would have, in his shoes, chosen an H.264 download (with BitTorrent ) option alongside the DVD purchase option. There will be folk who want to keep a high-quality hardcopy, and they should get to have that. $20 is reasonable for that.

    However, I would like to download a copy for a more digestible $5. I think the sheer volume of downloads would offset any cannibalization of the DVD sales, in addition to the saved costs due to no packaging, two rounds of shipping, manufacturing… and BitTorrent would make the bandwidth very reasonable (ask Cringely ). Sounds lucrative.

    Afraid of piracy? Well, the tools to buy that DVD and change it into the format I described above exist in abundance. People will invite friends over to watch the movie, even! Gasp!

    If anything, a legal download provides a reasonable and easy alternative to piracy. It’s working for Apple right now. I don’t think FairPlay will be the end all of digital media rights management, but its a solid, first reasonable and reasonably successful attempt. The only thing I’d add to a download like Joel’s would be the downloader’s email address, which the downloader would a) know was attached, b) have to enter into the purchasing webpage to get emailed a link to the torrent file.

    Yes there are easy ways around these small features, but that’s the point. They keep honest people honest… if you share this on P2P nets and we see it, we’ll know you put it here. You can’t worry about those who will just strip it out, because of the DVD ripping issue I mentioned above.

    Piracy will be a given, but you can’t criminalize all your customers because of it. Give reasonable people reasonable options to stay above board, and this will put the piracy percentage to its minimum. That will net you all the profit you deserve.

    I cannot believe that digital delivery was not strongly considered by Joel. He’s a sharp mind. So even if we don’t get a downloadable option, I’d hope he’d post his thoughts on what made him go traditional in this case on his blog.

    Joel, I look forward to seeing your film, if you give me the opportunity to!

    Posted in: Media · Movies · Software · Technology · Web

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  58. SSE is to RSS as...

    brian on 2005.11.21 at 03:13 pm

    MS announces today SSE, Simple Sharing Extensions, a way to make RSS two-way communications. It was released under the same Creative Commons license as RSS.

    As I am not a developer of this sort, I am not qualified to say it’s a good spec or not, but the promises look… eh-hem, promising. Common, open specs are good all around. I’d love to see it integrated so that it can work with the vCard format for syncing contacts, and the iCal (.ics) format for lightwieght, standards-based calendaring.

    I propose that SSE is pronounced “Essex.” (Here’s what Essex is.) This would also help distinguish it vocally from Intel’s SSE. The next letter after the “E” in Extensions is an “x” so it would be a natural. Saying “Ess” gives a nod to the two “S’s” and avoids the trouble-prone option of calling it “sex.” The last thing anyone needs is more “sex” on the internets.

    Posted in: Standards · Technology · Web

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  59. iPod Porn?

    jake on 2005.11.16 at 07:28 pm

    I was kinda upset that I didn’t get to this topic sooner because Techdirt already picked it up. That always seems to happen.

    Now that iPod’s can display video people are starting to discuss what to do when all the smut comes along. There are a few problems with this line of thinking. It’s very alarmist and uneducated.

    However, the ability of parents to monitor is seriously undermined if their children quickly can download adult content onto their iPods and then take it away from the home for easy viewing elsewhere.

    Sure it’s a little easier now, but you could already do this with things like CD’s. And never forget how resourceful kids are. Thirteen year old boys have had hidden stashes of Playboys and VHS tapes of naughty things for years. Of course kids aren’t going to be watching this in school or something. The only thing this adds is now instead of taking a CD to Jimmy’s house, you can bring a device with the display built in.

    Yet, iPods are becoming so ubiquitous and are so small, they are an easy vehicle for bringing pornography into the workplace. Employees discreetly could try to view pornography away from the watch of others. By engaging in such behavior, they often could be distracted from their true work functions, and problematically, they might contribute to an inappropriate and potentially hostile work environment to the extent the iPod porn is seen by others.

    OK, again, we’re just changing the medium in which the content is carried. Sure I have a little screen now but the only thing work can actively prevent you from doing is downloading NSFW material. They could never stop you from viewing it as long as you don’t get caught. A person could just as easily download pornographic material at home and bring it to work on a USB thumb drive.

    Obviously you should not be bringing pornography to work. Well I guess maybe if you work in the porn industry you get a by. But in general, it’s already not allowed, so you shouldn’t do it. But banning a piece of technology just because it could be used in an inappropriate way is ridiculous.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  60. Explorer Destroyer

    brian on 2005.11.10 at 08:03 pm

    The authors of this blog wish to bring to your attention:

    Explorer Destroyer

    Heehee. And don’t miss its sister site, Kill Bill’s Browser. which is a checklist of the best reasons (in their opinion) to leave IE. I laughed out loud at reason number eight.

    We will not be employing any draconian devices to entice our readers to not use Internet Explorer. We support the use of any web standards compliant browsers, especially ones derived from open source projects.

    Personally I spend most of my time in Safari, with the rest of my time split between Camino (for you Windows users, that’s a Mac-only derivative of Firefox) and Firefox. I usually use the original Firefox when viewing image-intesive websites so i can use its Linky extension. I also use the Web Developer’s Extension toolbar for design and development.

    So if you haven’t got the gist yet, and you use Internet Explorer… get a clue.

    And tabs!!

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Technology · Web

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  61. Cell phone followup

    jake on 2005.10.18 at 12:07 am

    Personal Experience with the LG VX8100

    Not everything has been perfect with my new phone and Verizon. Naturally with cell companies I expect this and I accept it.

    The first noticeable problem is the poor battery duration. A new battery and an upgrade to the firmware fixed that. My friend Jay confirmed this past weekend with his phone that it is most likely a firmware problem. He already tried replacing his battery with no success. New firmware is the way to go.

    Currently the latest firmware is version 04. Take your phone to a Verizon store and request for them to upgrade your firmware. It’s free and takes about 15 minutes.

    Some links on cell phone coverage.

    A short while after I got my phone I found a handful of links regarding cell coverage. Some of them are generic coverage maps from the carriers, others are cool tools from 3rd parties.

    Hopefully that’ll help anyone out there with making decisions on which carrier to pick.

    Posted in: Technology

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  62. Cyber Attacks

    brian on 2005.08.29 at 02:57 am

    Fascinating story in the upcoming Time Magazine on the hunt for a highly organized cyber spying ring. They are after anything they can get their hands on from the US government and its contractors… and the may be Chinese.

    Posted in: Technology

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  63. The Pirates of Silicon Valley

    brian on 2005.08.17 at 08:51 pm

    Whenever people ask me about the back story of Apple, and Microsoft and how things got where they are today in the world of personal computing, I often suggest they try to find a copy of The Pirates of Silicon Valley at their local video store. It was a fairly well made-for-TV movie that aired on TNT back about six years ago.

    Now, Amazon has it on DVD. So add it to your collection. It’s never going to win any awards, but Noah Wyle (as Steven P. Jobs) and Anthony Michael Hall (as William H. Gates) are entertaining while teaching a good-enough history of the personal computing revolution.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  64. Of Google and Dark Fiber.

    brian on 2005.08.17 at 01:20 am

    There have been persistent rumors about Google buying large amount of so-called dark fiber or fiber optical cabling that is strung across the country, but unused, much of which was pulled during the Web 1.0 bubble.

    Perhaps this is just people taking small bits of information and projecting their desires… or maybe its true.

    Read on for more on Google and Dark Fiber…

    Read More

    Posted in: Technology

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  65. Cell Phones are a pain. Verizon vs. Cingular

    jake on 2005.07.24 at 05:15 pm

    Basically I am currently having an internal battle between two celluar companies. I’ve been with Verizon for four years. I got my first personal cell phone the summer after I graduated college. Two years ago I grabbed myself an LG VX6000 at a very good price because I renewed my two year aggreement. Now my agreement is up, and I’ve come up with a few new options.

    Read More

    Posted in: Technology

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  66. Nerd TV

    brian on 2005.07.16 at 02:19 am

    In my previous post I mentioned watching PBS content on their website. This post will be about a much less depressing topic.

    Nerd TV. My favorite general tech pundit, Robert X. Cringely, is going to have an entire series only for viewing online, starting in September.

    Check it out. I’m excited. Now for something completely random:

    I believe RXC is the same person as Food Network’s Alton Brown. All it takes is one great wig. Prove me wrong.

    Posted in: Media · Technology

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  67. iPod vs the World

    brian on 2005.07.03 at 04:08 am

    As a follow up to Jake’s post about the Zen Micro I’d like to point our readers to this story by my favorite technology pundit, John Gruber, entitled “Shuffling” If you want to cut to the chase, skip down to the paragraphs that start with the heading “Simplification.”

    I imagine the engineers at Creative banging their heads against whiteboards listing all the features they offer that Apple doesn’t, while Apple’s market share continues to rise. It’s a cop-out to chalk this up to “marketing”, however.

    This is the major reason behind the iPod’s success: not because it has a lot of buttons, but because it only has a few, and they feel good when you press them.

    It’s not the feature set, or the wiz-bang. It’s the experience, it’s the whole, not the parts.

    (Sorry, couldn’t leave this alone ;-)

    Posted in: Apple · Music · Technology

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  68. Trying iFill on SomaFM

    brian on 2005.06.24 at 02:51 pm

    I’m trying out Griffin Technology’s newest cool product, iFill right now. iFill allows you to record streaming audio from internet radio and drops it on your iPod for later listening, not unlike a TiVO. I’m still trying to understand how it works so far as the timeshifting they talk about at the site, but I’ve only been using it for 10 minutes.

    I’m sampling Secret Agent, from SomaFM, of whom I really need to send a donation to. Here’s hoping Apple will add aacPlus format to iTunes for streaming, because now there’s two stations I listen to who offer it. Luckily, Soma still overs all feeds on their mp3 format as well. But I could be listening to 48k aacPlus instead of 128k mp3, and the sound would be similar, if not better… then we’d just need iFill to understand it and your iPod as well. Maybe when we get iTunes 4.9 with podcasting! If iTunes 4.9 adds that awesome feature (podcasts) I can’t wait to see what 5.0 brings…

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  69. Community Networks Under Attack

    brian on 2005.06.12 at 09:54 pm

    A bill just introduced in Congress would take away the right of cities
    and towns across the country to provide citizens with universal,
    low-cost Internet access.

    Giant cable and telephone companies don’t want any competition — which
    might actually force them to offer lower prices, higher speeds and
    service to rural and urban areas.

    U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) — a former telephone company
    executive — has introduced a bill (HR 2726) that would let cable and
    telecom companies shut down municipal and community efforts to offer
    broadband services.

    You can stop this outrageous bill. Send a message to your representative now.

    Read More

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  70. Summer Mac Projects

    brian on 2005.06.12 at 06:15 pm

    It’s summer time and that means summer projects! So grab your favorite Mac and head over to this swell collection of Mac OS X how-to’s for cool things to do on your Mac when the the sun is out and you should really be outside enjoying it.

    Or I suppose you could take your PowerBook outside with you… may I suggest a sun umbrella and or Universal Access’ Switch to Black on White mode for outdoor viewing.

    Posted in: Apple · Software · Technology · Web

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  71. Googleplex in Boston/Cambridge

    brian on 2005.05.31 at 05:35 pm

    Dear Google,

    Thank you for considering Boston for a new Googleplex, now come quick! I know you’re listening, because our logs show us that you like our blog.

    I say this not because I dislike my current employer. Not at all. I say this because Google is one of about 5 corporations I’d like to work for, and for whom working for wouldn’t make me feel slimy. I am currently employed by corporation numero uno on that list, but for whom most of their work is done out of California, limiting my upward mobility within the company substantially.

    I’ve always thought that if you are a large enough company, it would make sense to have major corporate presence in several major cities, and sales force alone doesn’t count. The reason is that not everyone would like to live in Silicon Valley. I would not leave New England for a couple reasons. The main one is family. My fiancé is very close to her family, and while my family has more of a tradition of branching out (although all still pretty much on the East Coast, save one cousin in Iowa) it’s still nice to have the grandkids be close to the grandparents. No amount of salary or sweet emerald campuses surrounded by lush mountains can really replace that. Additional reasons for not leaving New England include things like “snow” “culture” “history” “seashore and mountains within short drives” “educated and honest people” and “I like it.”

    Having corporate presence opens you up to a greater employee pool. People don’t always want to relocate far, far away, plus you get a diversity of employees. Also, if you have employees who do want to relocate, you can save costs by keeping them with in the company and allowing them to transfer. All around, it’s just more efficient.

    Anyhow, hopefully some other Boston bloggers will speak up and welcome Google into the neighborhood and encourage them to sign the papers. Things like the Boston Community WiFi effort encourage employers like Google to want to come to our area, by the way.

    [addendum SEW links to this, much more informative article from Boston Biz Journal.]

    Posted in: Technology

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  72. Missing links from this week

    brian on 2005.05.27 at 11:25 am

    Here are two links I’ve been meaning to blog for the past few days.

    The World’s wind can produce more energy than humans currently consume.

    Researchers at Stanford Univ. have done an exhaustive yet conservative estimate of the world’s potential in wind power. The conclusion: we can get more than we need, if we just tap the resource.

    The map, compiled by researchers at Stanford University, shows wind speeds at more than 8,000 sites around the world. The researchers found that at least 13 percent of those sites experience winds fast enough to power a modern wind turbine. If turbines were set up in all these regions, they would generate 72 terawatts of electricity, according to the researchers.

    That’s more than five times the world’s energy needs, which was roughly 14 terawatts in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Gimme the Geospacial Web!

    Tagging and “folksonomy” are huge right now, an explosion of meta data, tagging things in Flickr, Technorati, But what if we extended this idea to provide information about meatspace, the real world? GEOurl is one example of this now, but things could become much more rich.

    ‘Tag the world’ is sentiment of Mike Liebhold, writing on the O’Reilly Network. Let’s describe our world. Let’s have things like WiFi be contextually aware, that is to say, they contain information about where they are, for those who are nearby. Things like Google Maps are just barely scratching the surface of what Mike is proposing. Combine GPS, WLAN, RFID, mapping servers, GIS info, and embed them in everything. The cyber spills out and becomes real in the physical space. Have a look for yourself.

    …we can see the beginning shapes of a true geospatial web, inhabited by spatially tagged hypermedia as well as digital map geodata. Google Maps is just one more layer among all the invisible cartographic attributes and user annotations on every centimeter of a place and attached to every physical thing, visible and useful, in context, on low-cost, easy-to-use mobile devices. In a recent email, Nat Torkington, organizer of the upcoming Where 2.0 conference, said it this way: “Everything is somewhere. Whether you’re talking about assets, people, phone calls, pets, earthquakes, fire sales, bank robberies, or famous gravestones, they all have a location attached. And everything we touch in our lives, from groceries to digital photos, could have a location. From these locations we could learn a lot more about ourselves and build new economies.”

    Posted in: Science · Technology · Television · Web

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  73. Samsung 40" OLED display.

    jake on 2005.05.20 at 07:12 pm

    40 inch OLED display.Perfect! This television couldn’t get any better. Well OK, I’m sure they can make it better, but it’s still pretty nice. I’ve never lived in a space that could accomodate one of those 54” tv’s. But all the new, high tech ones are hard to find below sizes like that. A 40” OLED tv would be awesome to own. It’s so thin… and check out that viewing angle in article… Too bad it probably costs $15,000 bucks…

    Posted in: Technology

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  74. Boston: WiFi City

    brian on 2005.04.26 at 12:35 am

    An excellent story on WiFi and the considerations on going about making Boston a Wireless city, from the Boston Globe.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  75. Design Links

    jake on 2005.04.14 at 03:31 pm

    • //// COLOURlovers — A place to peruse and evaluate colo(u)rs.
    • More Nifty Corners — Use some Javascript along with your CSS to generate rounded corners on specified page elements.
    • Drag and Drop Lists — Gotta love all the fancy Javascript stuff coming out these days.
    • Browser stickies — Some more Javscript dragging wizardry. Since they’re obviously tied to a particular web site, I don’t know if they’re much bigger than a proof of concept.
    • Fixing Intermittent Fusebox 4 “Circuit Not Defined” Errors — I’ve started using Fusebox 4 at work for a couple of internal projects. I came across this problem when trying to put the apps on our server. Took me a while to figure this out. Hopefully this’ll boost their Google ranking.
    • Recover Post — If you use Blogger this is a good thing. I wonder if I could implement some form of it here? I don’t know if it’s totally necessary, but it might be nice for version 1.1, if we ever get there…

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  76. Tiger Prep

    brian on 2005.04.14 at 01:54 pm

    Box of Mac OS X Get ready for the unleashing of Tiger on Friday April 29th. Check out the list of Tiger’s new features. Purr.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  77. I heart Google Maps (Satellite)

    brian on 2005.04.13 at 01:27 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed digging around Google Maps new Satellite views. Apparently I’m not the only one. Check out Google Sightseeing and Globe Trotting for various collections of interesting things to look at through Google’s eye in the sky. Groom Lake, Nevada is pretty cool, I’m surprised they have pictures as good as they do, considering it’s home to lots of top top secret military stuff.

    Posted in: Photography · Technology · Web

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  78. Meet Our Media

    brian on 2005.03.23 at 12:40 pm

    This should be interesting:

    We provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches.

    Very interesting. Could be a great backend for local grassroots media efforts, like Universal Hub aspires to be. Additionally, OurMedia is actually a Drupal front end for the Internet Archive.

    Posted in: Media · Technology · Web

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  79. F*ck Comcast.

    jake on 2005.03.20 at 11:09 pm

    I’ve really got stop swearing on here. It didn’t bother me quite as much when we were discussing politics all the time, but when it’s Television and it doesn’t involve something to make you cry, it’s a little harder to rationalize.

    I brought this up before when the merger happened, I’ve never been a fan of G4. Never. I thought, hey, maybe I’ll give them a chance now that they own a bunch of shows I like.

    So far all they’ve proven is that the only reason they bought TechTV to begin with was because their channel sucked and they wanted a quick way to increase their viewers. Now they have killed off all programming involving technology and intelligence.

    So long G4. Not like I watched you to begin with, but you haven’t done a single thing to promote me watching you now either. Oh yeah, Resident Evil 4 is a fun game. You should give it a try if you own a GameCube.

    Posted in: Technology · Television

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  80. Copy Protection Sucks.

    jake on 2005.03.18 at 12:40 pm

    Green Day - American Idiot CoverFor the first and hopefully not the last post of the day I have a little story about copy protection and how it fails. I’ve read many remarks on Techdirt about how Copy Protection (not just music cds) does nothing but inconvenience people who would normally be honest customers. And now I have a personal experience which shows that.

    My brother owns the latest Green Day album and needed to make a copy of it. Now he ended up just ripping the CD into mp3’s and re-burning it. Not the quickest way, but still effective in making a copy. I got curious and had him bring it home so I could try with my off the shelf software. I made a perfect copy without flinching.

    Now you may ask, well who cares, you made a copy, maybe there wasn’t even copy protection to begin with. Well there is, and I hit it head on, when I tried to play it. I played both my copy and the original in my PB but it would not play in my PC. Hell it didn’t even show up as an audio CD, or as a CD at all. According to my brother it did that to him too.

    The scarier part is that since I did not hold down the shift key on first insert I may have unwllingly let it install sotware in the background on my machine. And as I understand it, this stuff can be a bitch to get off. Fuck you Warner Brothers. You have joined the ranks of spyware/malware ass holes. It’s nice to know you have no problem upsetting my Mom when she wants to play a CD, but the real pirates don’t even notice a hiccup…

    Posted in: Music · Rant · Technology

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  81. ClearPlay is on the road to becoming legal

    jake on 2005.03.09 at 01:38 pm

    Engadget has a little post about ClearPlay. Hollywood wasn’t too happy that consumers could edit out objectionable content from their DVD’s. Again, I would not buy such a product, but if others want to then it should not be a problem.

    Too bad this didn’t go further and stop all this junk about skipping over commercials. I record a TV show, I should be able to edit out commercials when I view it. If Tivo can do it for me without me having to manually edit an mpeg file then even better.

    Posted in: Media · Politics · Technology

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  82. Dartmouth Goes Wacky Over Wireless

    brian on 2005.03.07 at 12:45 am

    Sometimes I wish I had gone to Dartmouth. They didn’t have this stuff going when I went to school, but they do now. Maybe I should review their graduate programs, because they are doing some pretty incredible stuff with technology on campus. They’ve had VoIP for like two years, they’re moving to Wireless VoIP. They’re deploying Video over 802.11a, and other wireless goodies to boot.

    Read all about how Dartmouth is leading the way in collegiate wireless services.

    Posted in: Technology

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  83. Warner and Verizon look to fleece customers more.

    jake on 2005.02.01 at 01:23 pm

    Engadget is letting us know about a new arrangement between Verizon Wireless and the Warner Music Group. The basic premise doesn’t sound too bad. Using their new VCast service you can download video clips for $15 bucks more a month.

    The real kicker is that that’s only for basic content. $15 bucks just to get some news clips. To get the “premium content” you have to pay more. Now $3.99 might not kill you to download a game, but they actually expect you to pay that much for a music video. A music video? I realize that MTV doesn’t show them anymore ;) but you can download music videos all over the place for free. The whole thing about MTV is that it’s publicity. Your video is shown in heavy rotation and just like on the radio you hope that it increases record sales. Who in their right mind would pay $3.99 just to put a music video on their cell phone?

    I’d much rather just make the clips myself and put them on my phone, though I often wonder how much fun watching The Daily Show would be on a 1.5” screen, Verizon has already proven they just want money. In fact I may jump ship when my account is up this year…

    Posted in: Music · Rant · Technology

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  84. Mmm...

    jake on 2005.02.01 at 12:28 pm

    Matt Biddulph has done a couple cool things with

    The first involves a simple tool that checks your account for similar words. This can be used to weed out similar keywords you may want to merge. For example, I had both ““font”:” and ““fonts”:” in my list. I took out “fonts” and just left “font.” Now I don’t need to look in both places when searching for the site I tagged.

    The second is a bit more complex. Using he has created a lateral reference demo of the BBC Radio 3 site. Once a page is tagged a list of the tags appears below the article. And below them a list of related articles. In his example he tagged an article with ““cello”:” and related articles from that the BBC Radio 3 site pop up for viewing.

    Posted in: Technology

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  85. Legalizing TV Torrents

    brian on 2005.01.31 at 02:16 pm

    I read somewhere this morning that networks were investigating how much a viewer might pay (per view) for their favorite show that they can watch when they want to. This made think about when people have to use BitTorrent to download their favorite show when the networks change their schedules to put your two favorite shows on at the same time, and you don’t have a dual-tuner TiVO to get on the record/watch goodness.

    The result of the torrent would be a high-quality version of the show, with commercials conveniently extracted. Since TV is clearly supported by advertising and advertising judged by ratings (which don’t count BT downloads, obviously)… this is a recipe for disaster for your favorite show: if everyone BTs the show, and doesn’t watch it over the cable box, there’s no ratings for the show, and it gets dropped, despite the unmeasured popularity of the show itself.

    What if, instead of charging micropayments, the networks simply followed Salon’s highly successful lead of day passes where any reader can have full access to a pay-for -content piece after watching a short, but highly-targeted ad. In the case of a TV episode, I’d say one of these ads for access to a network-hosted torrent (which of course, would route people away from pirate-torrent sites which would indirectly reduce pirate content’s popularity).

    If I had a legal way of downloading an episode of my favorite show in exchange for a day-pass-esque few minutes, I certainly feel it would be a fair exchange, a fair payment, if you would. Would you?

    There is a demo available! Someone (and I’m not suggesting you or anyone try this) could try this experiment at home. Locate an episode of NBC’s “The Apprentice” online and download via BT. Then go to Yahoo!‘s online Apprentice shill site. Look around, check out tie-ins to BK, Levis, Pepsi, Genworth, all the other companies that are pimped on the show, or pick up a Donald Trump Bobblehead doll.. I’d say that constitutes fair trade… NBC/Yahoo! Get you only a click or two away from buying their products… much more beneficial to them than a sign on top of a computer screen that says “Yahoo! Local.” Eyes and clicks. I’d almost guarantee a bump of purchases. And enjoy the show!

    Posted in: Media · Technology

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  86. Random Links

    jake on 2005.01.10 at 05:21 pm

    • I noticed on the Superficial a funny spoof of The Ashley Simpson Show.
    • The site that linked to that originally also had a link to a video of the 4-year old drummer. His fills could use a little work, but in general he plays very well for someone his age. He could be cool when he’s older if he doesn’t get full of himself. Otherwise I’ll have to start referring to him as “The Mediocre 34 Year Old Drummer.”
    • Gizmodo relays us to some interesting features on Hacking Netflix about adding profiles to user accounts. It has many benefits but I wonder if they thought about pushing movies up the queue if multiple profiles (family members perhaps) request a movie. I’m kinda excited to switch over from my Blockbuster account which I got while trying to barter referrals for my Free Camera
    • Unleashed is a new movie starring Jet Li, Bob Hoskins, and Morgan Freeman, looks pretty cool. Too bad Li spends the movie trying not to kill people. ;)

    Posted in: Movies · Music · Rant · Technology

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  87. Track Your Government

    brian on 2005.01.09 at 02:05 pm

    I’m surprised that it took so long for someone to build such a tool, but at last has come, allowing you to keep tabs on your representative. Thanks so much to Joshua Tauberer for doing this. Your country will be grateful.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  88. Family Guy: Uncancelled

    brian on 2005.01.06 at 08:41 pm

    I’ll admit to occasionally watching Fox. Football, baseball, those are givens. Simpsons, yes (though certainly not regularly). Well, I may soon again add another show to the line up.

    Fox is doing the unheard of, and un-cancelling Family Guy. They even have a website about it. Rumor has it they sold so many DVDs that they decided to un-bury it. As Peter would say “Freaken Sweet!”

    Posted in: Technology

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  89. Holiday Update

    brian on 2004.12.28 at 03:33 pm

    Of course, posting traditionally lapses during the holidays. Mine thus far are going well, aside from having to sprint to southern New Jersey for a 24 hour visit before rushing back to work to deal with the 26th of December mobs. My back hasn’t yet recovered, and that’s partially due to the foot of snow dropped on us on the 27th.

    Recently, I’ve been playing with a few new acquisitions. I picked up an iSight camera , which I’ve temporarily deployed as a webcam in my front window. It’s running EvoCam from Amanda’s iBook, so when she returns from Connecticut after her extended stay, I imagine she’ll want to use it again. So be it noted, this link will break , rather it will still be there, but not updated as it is currently, starting by probably tomorrow. I’ll find another solution. BTW – you must refresh that image manually, since I’ve written no code for auto-refresh. It gets a new image every five minutes. They’re hardly ever anything interesting, and I apologize for the screen.

    Elsewhere, I have a new base-model G5 tower for our home server, and this is the first post from the new machine. I set it up just today, and I first wiped the drive and reinstalled the OS to make sure I have the bare minimum install (no extraneous foreign languages I’ll never use, for example) taking up the least space.

    I am currently backing up my life from my main PowerBook, via Target Disk Mode which is a fabulous invention. Recently, my PowerBook has been chirping and occasionally a clack can be heard as well. This worries me, thus, I have started the tower’s first purpose: backup vehicle. Soon, I will be adding a second SATA drive to the unit to improve upon the base storage (80GB), and some extra RAM as well. These will help me accomodate the second purpose of the tower: home media server, which will begin with hosting all of our iTunes and iPhoto needs. The third planned purpose is as in-house web server, and that’ll be the last thing I set up. I’ll likely start simple by adding controls for PHP, a little MySQL, and then probably in simple implementation of Instiki and lastly an install of TextPattern .

    More updates when time permits, but for now I’m off to work.

    Posted in: Apple · Cool Info · Hardware · Software · Technology · Web

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  90. Mind wandering back

    brian on 2004.12.15 at 06:27 pm

    Today I am off from the usual gig. Jake and I have been working on research to present in a proposal to a prospective client, which could be a very cool project. More on that when/if we have something to talk about publicly.

    I've been pondering the fact that I haven't been posting as much as I should, and if you're a regular reader, I do apologize. We've considered adding a quick "links we've read recently" section, a la Kottke's remaindered links. which would have helped during the recent dry spell. I'm still reading the web / NetNewsWire voraciously, but I've not been spurred to comment much about what I've read recently. The only thing I might point to is Lisa Rein's coverage of the Ohio/National voting debacle. Otherwise, I've been trying to hold back on my political commentary. It just makes me so angry, that I don't want this to become a rant log.

    But what has captured my mind over the last 24 hours has been weather, snow and webcams, and simultaneously thinking back to my cross country trip this summer. {Post One | Post Two} Someday we'll have more of a story about it. Maybe.

    Particularly, our favorite part of the trip was Montana. If you combine Montana with weather, and snow, you get Brian in wonderland. Just something about snow out there that calls to me. Working for the National Weather Service or Montana DOT dealing with snow out there is just so appealing to me. Why? Am I nuts? Certainly. I am certainly not qualified to be a weather person. (question: do some schools offer meteorology as a major? or do you study environmental science and move over?) Whatever it'd be, it'd certainly involve the web.

    So today I found a wonderfully simple way to transport myself out there, into the conditions... Montana webcams, many from the NWS and Montana DOT.

    Also, I've been trying to think up a project that would allow me to combine the NWS's new XML feeds, a webcam (likely an iSight + EvoCam, but possibly adding a Linksys WiFi camera if I were to go all out) and some sort of personal weather center that I could collect my own data from, when we get to our new abode, sometime later 2005. I'd love to run this all off the new, pending G5

    Till then, it's pure escapism. See you there.

    Posted in: Cool Info · Technology

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  91. Using PGP Encryption and Signatures with Apple's Mail

    brian on 2004.12.08 at 05:37 pm

    How to: Using GnuPG and Apple Mail for Encryption and Digital Signatures.

    Jake and I were curious to see how we could get our email more secure. He was working on getting a set up at his job for some sensitive financial information to be transmitted via the internet. I was just curious about more secure email, since I knew Mac OS X had some good security features in it.

    I had looked into this once before, and my eyes glossed over when looking it over. Jake, being more familiar with unix was not so detered, and figured it out without much fuss. Thus, once he set it up in Mozilla Thunderbird, his work email app that he uses with his company's Windows machines, he figured out how to add it to his personal PowerBook.

    Wanting to learn, I had Jake walk me through the steps of the set up. It's clear from the attempt that while its not exceedingly difficult to implement PGP on Mac, it's not going to spread like wildfire until someone improves the user experience. The following walk through will dive into the terminal briefly, and some of the GUI aspects leave much to be desired.

    Let it be noted that I am eternally grateful to those who took the time to build GUIs for OS X so that I might enter the PGP world without much fuss, and I hope my criticisms here are seen as only constructive and supportive towards their authors efforts.

    And just before we begin the installation, I just wanted to mention that some of the functionality we are about to install is already present in OS X, however, it is well hidden, designed to automatically kick in when needed. It is however, a different style of email security.

    To use the built-in encryption and digital signature abilities of Mail, you need to have a digital ID certificate of your own, stored in the keychain. However, the Mail Help is very vague on how to achieve that. Additionally, Keychain Access does not have its own help (it has a very tips thrown in to the general Mac OS X help).

    Apple's Mail Help says

    You can get someone's certificate if that person sends you a digitally signed or encrypted message, since that person's certificate is automatically included in such messages. When you receive one of these messages, Mail automatically stores this person's certificate in the keychain.

    Once you have a signing certificate for your mail account stored in your keychain, additional buttons appear in the Compose window, allowing you to digitally sign or encrypt a message.

    It does not tell us how to add our own signing certificate into the Keychain, or how to create one if we don't have one. The secret is thus: Apple's Mail and Keychain only currently work with third-party certificate authorities. The one most people talk about in these circles is, where you must establish an identity. This third party vouches for you, that you are who you say you are.

    If you would care to use this style of security in your email, then I might direct you to two excellent tutorials,

    PGP works differently. It only needs two parties. For example, I know Jake in the real world, we've lived together even. So when he sends me his public key, I don't need a third party to establish who he is. If you have this level of comfort with those your are attempting to communicate with securely, then you are all set, PGP will work for you. Let's see how to get it to work for Mac OS X.

    First, go to the MacGPG website and download the latest Mac version of the application, "GNU Privacy Guard." (often shortened to GPG, just to be confusing.) When I wrote this tutorial, version 1.2.4 was current.

    Next you'll want to be able to create your own PGP keys, so you'll need an application for that, too. Smartly enough, it's on that same page and called "GPGKeys" You can download it now, too.

    We're going to install MacGPG first. It's simple... an installer should automatically appear when its finished downloading. If it didn't automatically appear, then double click to open the GnuPG disk image (.dmg). An installer will appear. Follow the instructions. When it is finished, you will not see the finished product anywhere... its off in the BSD section of your Mac... that's OK. We're going to use other applications which will use GnuPG behind the curtains.

    (If you manually turned off the BSD part of the Mac OS X install at any point in your Mac's life, chances are this install will not work. You will need to install this portion from a Mac OS X install disc. By default, the BSD goods are installed. If none of this sounds familiar, worry not, it's likely in there.)

    Next, we'll install the application to create our key. Find "GPGKeys " (in the downloads folder, usually your Desktop) open it up. There is no active installer for this application. Drag the "GPGKeys" application to your Applications folder (or the place of your choice).

    Now, go find it, launch. GPGKeys is a GUI interface to create a PGP key, only in the most loosest of interpretations. Under the Key menu, click "generate" and you'll be brought proptly to the command line. Gasp! I don't see why this couldn't be wrapped in a GUI, but luckily, it's a pretty straight forward CLI.

    First, it'll ask what types of cipher you'd like to create. I chose the default.

    Second, key size, I again chose the defaults.

    Third, expiry... how long do you want this to work until you have to create another.

    Next, it asks for name, email, both pretty self-explanatory, and a comment, which is whatever you want it to be. Perhaps a title for your own use, so you might identify this key later.

    Next, the app will create the key, using some random text, which you'll be asked to participate in, if you wish.

    It will end by showing you a key. You won't have to copy this, because when you quit the application (which is will now ask you about) it'll show up in the GUI app, once you leave the terminal. Once you leave the terminal, if your key isn't seen in the window, refresh the window. (Window > Refresh)

    Last words about GPGKeys... if you're looking to exchange PGP-secured documents with others, you'll need their public key. This is stored as a file, and you need to store it in this GPGKeys application. When you aquire the file, you can put it here by simply choosing (File > Import)

    Next, we need to incorporate PGP into Apple's

    Acquire the GPGMail app from

    I didn't see this as a qualification anywhere, but i would suggest quitting Apple's Mail during the following install, since this app will be attaching itself to it.

    This application also comes with a double-click installer. Use it.

    Now, open Apple Mail and check the Preferences, you should have a new pane called "PGP." Set the preferences you'd like to use.

    Once these are set, whenever you open a Mail composition window, you'll have a new row beneath the addressing section, which allows you check a box if you want you message signed and/or encrypted (you can sign an un-encrypted email), and pull down menus to select which keys to use in these tasks.

    Once you have this set up, and a friend who is also using a similar set up, and you have exchanged keys, then you can send, receive and read encrypted email. Enjoy.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  92. Wrestle Control of your TV

    brian on 2004.12.02 at 01:48 am

    "If this thing didn't run Windows, I'd be all over it in a second": . Seriously, Linux DVR hackers... get to work. This is the only thing that can save us from the corporations coming together and ruling what we watch on TV... so long as "Alienware": can stay up and independent, and someone can put _anything_ but Windows Media Center.

    And while they're out there... mind as well enable some open formats (MPEG4 etc) and toss that Intel chip for something that runs cooler... but I'd deal with the first two of the three as a first step...

    Posted in: Media · Technology · Television

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  93. Change the Tone

    brian on 2004.11.14 at 10:58 pm

    One of the things I love about NetNewsWire's beta is that it shows you what has changed in a feed if it's altered from its original form. For example, on Yahoo! News Presidential Politics AP feed, it posted this excerpt:

    AP - Nearly two weeks after John Kerry conceded the election and President Bush laid out his agenda, New Mexico has not finished counting its votes.

    But that was pulled and replaced with...

    AP - Nearly two weeks after John Kerry conceded the election and President Bush laid out his agenda, New Mexico is among several states that have yet to determine the winner's margin of victory

    What does that say about the Associated Press's editorial process?

    It adds clarity about the number of states in which voting issues remain. But, in the first one, whereas the blurb is very politics neutral, what do you think of the second one? In my opinion, it goes from neutral, to pro-Republican, because it seems to reinforce the message that "despite the serious and widespread questions left about the recent voting process, we should realize that all this work is just solidifying that Bush is your legitimate leader, there's no chance that these irregularities could have helped him in a significant way... or even tipped the scales towards him, even if the many of irregularities that occurred, happened in traditionally liberal districts, like minority communities."

    What's it say to you?

    Posted in: Media · Politics · Technology

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  94. Happy Birthday

    brian on 2004.11.09 at 01:55 pm

    You can trust FireFox (as opposed to IE)Happy Birthday to FireFox 1.0, which goes live today. Of course, their site is an absolute mob scene right now, so good luck downloading it today. BitTorrent anyone?

    Coincidentally, this coincides with my 26th. I feel special.

    What am I doing on my birthday? Working. A closing shift.

    A Red-White-Red Courrier BagWhat am I getting for my birthday? Amanda is getting me a new Timbuk2 courier bag. For those of you who don't personally know me, I like cycling bags, so I am all smiles over this.

    The G5 PowerMacAdditionally, I'm considering getting a G5 tower to act as my home server and a central backup solution. All my drives are full. I can get a good price on a single processor 1.8, and I am debating making the plunge. This could be fun.

    Posted in: Software · Standards · Technology

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  95. Recent Reading

    brian on 2004.10.07 at 11:52 am

    The Long Tail: A fascinating tale of the future of books, music, movie distribution from Wired Magazine.

    Wikis as intranets. Particularly interesting to me, as I've just recently been experimenting with the thoroughly enjoyable, infinitely simple Instiki.

    Interesting Web Design Strategy from our friends at 37Signals. There are so many ways to start a site, and this seems to be an excellent one.

    A Night at the Hip-Hopera. In the vein of the Grey Album. Wonderful.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  96. It's really so simple, the concept

    brian on 2004.10.03 at 09:35 pm

    Cringley hits the nail on the head this week. Or rather talks about someone else who has. This is a big duh to me, something I've envisioned (without all those pesky specifics this guy has worked out) for a while now. This is what we need now to take back control of the data going into our abodes.

    Posted in: Technology

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  97. The Revolution will be...

    brian on 2004.10.03 at 01:50 am

    Well, let's not go there... but you should certainly check this out: TV + Blog + RSS + BitTorrent = Torrentocracy.

    Guess its time to buy that external hard drive I have my eye on. And time to fire up iMovie. Power to the people, with easy to use video editors!

    Posted in: Technology

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  98. NetNewsWire 2 in Public Beta

    brian on 2004.09.22 at 04:05 am

    Perhaps my favorite application is NetNewsWire. I've been anxiously anticipating NNW2, which I will get a free upgrade to for buying a 1.0 license. I would have almost bought the upgrade sight-unseen. Version 1 is that good. Tonight I have downloaded v.2 Beta. Now I'm off to play.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  99. Stupid PR People

    brian on 2004.09.16 at 09:36 pm

    So just a minute ago I read about a press release that says BOSE is releasing a standalone system that you sit your iPod into. I somewhat reminds me of their Wave Radio system. So what do I do as a fan of both Bose and the iPod? I rush immediately to their website to read more about it!

    But, there's nothing on their site about it. Not even a new blurb pointing to the PR release. How weak!!

    If PR is about anything, it's about capturing buzz... capitalizing on momentum and people's short attention spans. BOSE totally dropped the ball on this. I wanted pictures, specs, colors, I wanted to know why I needed this product.

    They should have learned from the people a fellow secretive company who created the iPod... the second there's a product announcement from them, you know there's a pile of info on their website.

    Oh, and by the way BOSE, while I'm on the topic of your website, it's time to axe the other company's logo as your favicon. That's a breakdown in branding. But not as bad as not advertising your own new products.

    Posted in: Technology

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  100. Silicon Valley or Potato Valley?

    brian on 2004.09.14 at 12:00 pm

    I saw a link to this story on a few blogs regarding a company set to build a device that works as a home media server. "Yawn" is the only thought that came to mind. But what I found interesting is that the company is based outside of Boise, Idaho... and that Idaho is actually the home of many tech companies, the biggest being Micron, and also HP and Dell have a division and call center here, respectively.

    I think this is just great. I enjoyed passing through Idaho and wished I had had more time to spend there. Hopefully one day I'll make it back through. It's great for the workers, who get to lead a more humane life in the mountains, and it's really good in my opinion, to spread out our industries. Granted, when industries start up, an incubator in a certain area helps (Silicon Valley, 128-loop of Boston) because the companies are fed by the area's resources (like MIT and the other top notch schools in Boston feed the tech and bio tech companies in the Boston Metro 128 Loop).

    But once an industry or company is cemented, setting up satellite shops is a good idea. First it spreads the wealth... especially good for the economy... producers must have consumers. Second, it diversifies the talent pool. A diversity of ideas is essential to entrepreneurship. Lastly, it doesn't lock people into just one place they can do their job. If they're locked in, and say, don't want to work in Silicon Valley, they'll probably do one of two things: 1) stay, burn out, become unproductive, star in a Dilbert strip. 2) Leave and change careers. Either way is not good for the company, or the workers. (the latter can have upsides, too, but if the employee likes his field, and doesn't want to leave the company nor industry, but is yielding to personal pressures, then it can be bad for their mental health.)

    So my recommendation is for companies to stretch out a little. The hubs are getting crowded.

    Posted in: Technology

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  101. Universal Computing?

    brian on 2004.09.13 at 08:45 pm

    If this isn't a hoax, then its pretty incredible. I can't immediately think of a program on another platform I'd want, but it would at least allow me to test websites on PC browsers... not that I can't do that in Virtual PC today, but we'll have to see what these guys bring to the table.

    Posted in: Technology

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  102. Big WiFi

    brian on 2004.09.09 at 01:21 pm

    I'm a big supporter of WiFi, preferably the free kind. I feel it's a like a digital Interstate Highway System.

    Covering parts of Walla Walla, Columbia, Franklin, Benton and Umatilla (WA) counties, Columbia Energy's 1,500-square-mile Wi-Fi hot spot is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

    That's bigger than the proposed Philadelphia-wide one that's currently garnering all the attention. Downside? "The cost of the service ranges from $39.95 per month for 256 kilobits per second to $259.95 per month for 1.5 megabits per second." Yeow! I pay less than $50 for 1.5 via DSL. But, to places with nothing, the entry level account is an OK deal. It's biggest strength is that apparently the whole system is regular WiFi, and doesn't use a backhaul technology to shoot signals to an antennae on your house or business... you can pick it up in your car on the highway, apparently. So that convenience is worth of a few extra bucks.

    "With the old Internet, it was almost faster to drive to the (farm supplies) auction,"

    Posted in: Technology

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  103. Induce Act under fire and other rantings about 'piracy'

    jake on 2004.07.23 at 06:12 pm

    I think that this quote from Hatch pretty much sums up what is wrong with this whole process.

    "We're going to do this, we're going to get this done," Hatch said. Piracy has been "a doggone catastrophe to these artists."

    Not only is there no direct correlation between P2P services and sales of CD's but by stopping online piracy there is no direct benefit to the artists. It is common knowledge that artists make cents per CD sale and make all their money through touring and merchandise.

    Also we are still hearing about the other side of this where it's being proven that the RIAA is a bunch of morons. And we see some actual sales statistics.

    "Over the period 1999 to 2003, DVD prices fell by 25% and the price of players fell in the US from over $1,000 to almost nothing," says Strumpf. "At the same time, CD prices went up by 10%. Combined DVD and VHS tape sales went up by 500m, while CD sales fell by 200m, so a possible explanation is that people were spending on DVDs instead of CDs."

    What a concept, people aren't buying a product that constantly increases in cost, those asshole consumers. I still wonder why we have to keep listening to these lies.

    From: Boing Boing and Wired

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  104. Image formats: GIF vs. PNG

    jake on 2004.07.22 at 06:20 pm

    Now that the patent for the GIF image format has expired internationally GD, a popular image image processor, has added support back in.

    This is all important around here because of the way images are submitted for your viewing pleasure. In the past we've had to make sure that they were jpgs, if they were gifs the script I have would not resize them correctly for the front page. Now I can rewrite it to handle pngs and gifs and hopefully everything will be happy and wonderful.

    Vagari IconThere is a debate on Slashdot because of this where a lot of people keep saying the same thing, png's are better than gif's for animation. Regardless it got me thinking because one of the comments pointed out pngout by Ken Silverman. Apparently since I'm currently stuck with an older version of Photoshop at work I can't compress pngs correctly. pngout would have solved that problem for me. pngout shrunk the size of that little guy on the left by about half. And it was already a very small file. He's what I use as my icon/avatar on a few sites. To learn more about pngout and how Photoshop used to stink at compressing the files you can read these articles:

    So now I know that after all this time I had a solution under my nose and I didn't implement it. How irritating. Of course there's plenty of other things around here that I've been interested in adding that are in the to-do list and won't see the light of day in the near future.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  105. Amazon is the new Napster?

    jake on 2004.07.14 at 05:48 pm

    The NYTimes raises this question and doesn’t realize it’s not a correct comparison. Simply because Amazon makes it easier to buy used books does not make it like ‘stealing music’. Buying a used copy of 1984 is not the same as using a copier to make a perfect duplicate of it.

    …There aren’t any easy answers, especially as no one is breaking any laws here. – Lorraine Shanley

    Astoundingly Kathryn Blough, the vice president for the Association of American Publishers, actually brought up the whole grey area debate for the stagnation of sales of new books.

    But Ms. Blough said the new-book market could be weak for several reasons, including a slow economy and a sharp increase in other media vying for the book reader’s attention.

    All I keep going back to in my head is libraries. I used to get told an awful lot to save my money and check out a book I wanted to read.

    Whether I’m a library or an individual I can remove from my posession a book I bought because I own it. Whether that be by giving it away, selling it, or throwing it in the trash.

    For some more thoughts…

    Posted in: Books · Technology

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  106. KHR-1 Robot Kit

    jake on 2004.07.07 at 05:29 pm

    Wow KHR-1 RobotGizmodo has really picked up a gem. The KHR-1 Robot Kit (BabelFish Translation) is a steal compared to Asimo at a little under $1300 bucks. I wish I had all that money in my couch cushions. The little guy can do a bunch of stuff, like kick, walk, pick himself up off the ground and even pose for the camera. Check out the video while you're there to see what I mean.

    Posted in: Technology

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  107. Irish Language to be added to Microsoft Products

    jake on 2004.06.18 at 05:40 pm

    Irish is one of two languages I hope to learn some day, the other is French. Microsoft is working with a couple universities from Ireland to translate Windows XP and the Office Suite over to Irish. I doubt that I will ever be able to run my OS in anything other than English but I'm glad to see this happen.

    Posted in: Software · Technology

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  108. Copy-protected CD hits #1. Fallacies ensue and slow record execs cheer.

    jake on 2004.06.18 at 05:25 pm

    I can't believe that just because a copy protected cd has hit number one everyone is jumping to conclusions. The CD is already available on P2P networks and it's pointed out that the DRM is easy to get around. I was waiting for Techdirt to get in on it. I was having a nice relaxed day, and then the RIAA had to come along and ruin it by screwing consumers. Maybe my next couple posts will calm me down.

    I'd just like to add to the previous post. Cory, you're my hero.

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  109. Doctrow on DRM

    brian on 2004.06.18 at 03:35 am

    Cory Doctrow had the unique opportunity to go to Microsoft and give a lecture telling them that DRM is bad. Everything that they were investing millions in is wrong. You should go read the text of his speech. It's brilliant. If M$ breaks down the gate, everyone else can follow, and evolution can get past its current copyright stumbling block.

    Posted in: Media · Technology

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  110. Virtual Euro 2004

    jake on 2004.06.16 at 01:43 pm

    Virtual Soccer from the BBCThe BBC has a way to see highlights online using Shockwave. They use basic 3D players ala EASports Fifa from a few years back. Very cool way of seeing important events from the matches.

    From: Boing Boing

    Posted in: Sports · Technology

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  111. Virus Proof This

    brian on 2004.06.13 at 09:03 pm

    Reading articles like "Virus Proof Your PC in 20 Minutes." makes me awfully happy not to have all those security concerns. That's twenty minutes and a lifetime of headaches I'm happy to live without. Sometimes Mac users forget how good we have it.

    Posted in: Technology

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  112. Talk Energy

    brian on 2004.06.03 at 01:30 pm

    There's a new site for community discussions of renewable energy, called Talk Energy. I visited their site, and was excited about the content, but saddened there was no RSS feed.

    Ask and you shall receive. I sent an email of feedback requesting the feature, pointed out its benefits, and just this morning did I get a reply that they had initiated the RSS feed. Thanks, guys. However, just like Slashdot, there's no content in the feeds, which is a real rip. I hope they see the light and go the whole 9 yards with it.

    Update: They're still working to improve the feed! WooHoo! Suggestions welcome.

    Posted in: Technology

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  113. Friday Tab Scrubbing

    jake on 2004.05.29 at 01:51 am

    Good night.

    Posted in: Design · Science · Software · Technology

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  114. GreaseCar!

    brian on 2004.05.25 at 01:20 pm

    I saw this company in a small news tidbit on the news today, check them out! GreaseCar.

    GreaseCar is a company that sells vegetable oil conversion kits for diesel powered automobiles. It's a dual fuel system, that uses regular diesel along side regular vegetable oil to power the car. Where do you get the oil to run on? Most restaurants will give it to you for free, since waste frying oil usually costs them money to remove. You simply collect it, filter it, and put it in your veggie-tank. Regular diesel fuel is still used to start the vehicle, and to shut it down. The car can also run exclusively on regular diesel when vegetable oil is unavailable.

    If I had a diesel powered car, I'd be getting in contact with them right now!

    Note from Jake: Drivers Eye Vegetable Oil As Cheap Fuel - Article from Associated Press, references to GreaseCar and Weston, CT, the state Brian and I grew up in.

    Posted in: Auto · Technology

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  115. Nutshell: What's wrong with America

    brian on 2004.05.24 at 03:53 pm

    There's a lot right with America, but here's a quote that sums up a lot of what is wrong...

    "The days of engineering-led technology companies are coming to an end," Mr. Dell declared. (NYT via /.)

    So many people don't want to really do anything themselves. They don't want to create, they just want to capitalize. Make money off of pimping, basically. Its in hip-hop music. It's in corporate America. And both gangsta' rap and Dell are enormously successfully and popular, both basically pretending and profiting.

    I'm all for making distribution more efficient (Dell reference, obviously, not the RIAA!) but hard work got America where it is, and coasting on image and pretense will undo that post-haste.

    Posted in: Technology

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  116. Pulpit Shaky

    brian on 2004.05.22 at 12:34 am

    One of my favorite tech columnist/pundits is Robert X. Cringley (pen name, apparently). However, for the first time ever this week's column I feel is really quite off base. Now being who I am, I'm not really going to get into debunking this. I'm hoping John Gruber will take care of that for me, and to a much wider audience. But I'll say a few brief things here:

    1) I really don't know anything about the news broke by the New York Times the other day, so everything else here is my personal opinion as a Mac user for many years.

    2) Read the article (above) or else the rest of this won't make sense.

    3) Why would Steve Jobs want to make these divisions so it was easier to kill off the personal computer division of Apple, his baby? That's ridiculous. When he came back to Apple in the 90s, he axed just about everything, including peripherals and non-computer stuff (like the Newton). And you think he'd drop 25 years of personal computers for the upstart iPod? I doubt it. The Mac division won't "starve and die." with even the "tiny" amount of customers they have. Remember, volume-wise, Apple is one of the top five manufacturers in the world. Apple makes and sells a lot more computers than many companies who are not considered "going out of business."

    4) "Everything's ported to Intel, and all Mac users would upgrade, versus just a few million when the OS X change happened" Um, hello? Are you nuts? Why would people give up totally useful PPC machines, just to get new Intel-based ones? If God-Forbid that would happen, I would think there would be a rush to scoop up PPC-powered Macs.

    5) "what if IBM has no interest in supplying such a chip ("Cell")... for Apple?" Why wouldn't they want as many customers for their chip as possible? IBM and Apple are very friendly. Apple is a partner in the design of the PPC, not just a buyer of an IBM made chip, like the other companies RXC mentioned. So its unlikely IBM would have any reason why they would want to turn their back on one of their best partner/ customers. Crazy. They have a $3 Billion chip fab in New York State they built to create G5 chips, and they have to pay it off, baby!

    In conclusion: wow, Robert, maybe its the South Carolina water, but, damn man, what happened? This article is subpar.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  117. Epson builds 40" OLED Television

    jake on 2004.05.19 at 01:07 pm

    Sieko Epson OLED TelevisionMaybe I should make a category just for stuff about OLEDs. Epson demoes a 40" display, the largest thus far. Originally I read that the process for producing an OLED display was not as complecx as a LCD, clean rooms are less necessary. So the price would be less, but now they're saying it'll be comperable to an LCD. Great, the one thing I wish I could have is better, in theory, to current technology, but still costs $10,000 at Best Buy. Ugh.

    From: Gizmodo

    Update: Right after I finished this I noticed Engadget also had a post about this TV. It also includes a couple more links to information.

    Posted in: Technology · Television

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  118. OLED display at NextFest

    jake on 2004.05.18 at 01:17 pm

    I've posted a bunch of times about OLEDs in the past. Coming up next is Wired's NextFest where Universal Display Corporation will be showcasing some applications of the technology. I really wish this stuff was mainstream already.

    From: Engadget

    Posted in: Technology

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  119. 'Passion' points out flaw in corporate theory

    jake on 2004.05.12 at 05:42 pm

    Finding Nemo DVDWell here's some proof for you. According to Reuters, recently Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has been top of the heap for piracy on P2P networks. As was pointed out in a study a little while ago, P2P piracy does not have a direct correlation to sales of the product being pirated.

    The Reuters article points out the two most downloaded films of the past year.

    A company spokesman said the Pixar and Walt Disney Company animated flick "Finding Nemo" and the little-known Miramax "Shaolin Soccer" are the most pirated films online over the past year.

    Umm... well Shaolin Soccer was only just released in select cities in the US. I know I saw an add for it "coming soon" over a year ago. So how were we supposed to pay to see it? And Finding Nemo broke the record for DVD sales when it was released. I can imagine "The Passion" doing something similar. Anyone else see a problem here?

    Posted in: Movies · Technology

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  120. Tab clean-up

    jake on 2004.05.02 at 03:28 am

  121. Posted in: Apple · Photography · Technology · Television

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  122. Interview with spokesman of G4 tv about merger

    jake on 2004.04.15 at 01:21 am

    This pretty much solidifies my fears about the merger. David Shane spends most of the interview proclaiming the greatness of G4 and how the new merged channel will revolve around video games. My brothers agree with me that G4 is pretty crappy channel. Last time I watched it there was a couple decent shows and a bunch of hosts who looked like they walked in off the street. And while I enjoy X-Play on TechTV, devoting a whole channel to games and reducing the general technology shows is a bad idea. If things go down the way this guy is talking, they might lose one of their "44 million" viewers.

    I hope I'm wrong and the channel takes the best of both and creates something new and great. This geek is keeping his fingers crossed.

    Posted in: Technology · Television

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  123. Willfull Infringement

    jake on 2004.04.14 at 11:20 pm

    Dan pointed out an article about a documentary made to showcase where copyright holders harass and push around people trying to inovate. The only problem is the DVD is $55 bucks with shipping.

    "The Killing Fields"

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  124. Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing

    brian on 2004.04.14 at 04:25 pm

    FOLDOC is the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing. I found this today after looking up the word "twain" as in "Ne’er the twain shall meet" which is said to give birth to the term TWAIN, a standard technology which brought together personal computers and scanners. TWAIN is not an acronym, but that did keep popular folklore from making up an extension for it, "Technology Without An Interesting Name."

    By the way, "twain" means a lot of things, but "pair" is one of the fitting definitions in this case.

    Lastly, FOLDOC is supposed to be found at but the first time I typed that, it didn't connect. Subsequently, it redirected to the above linked site. Additionally, there are mirrors of the Imperial College (UK) FOLDOC site.

    None of this has the least to do with Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Sorry for any confusion.

    Posted in: Standards · Technology · Web

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  125. Bluetooth Stereo Adapter

    jake on 2004.04.14 at 01:47 am

    More from the realm of Bluetooth. D-Link has released some adapters. They allow wireless streaming of content to your audio equipment.

    From Engadget

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  126. Mini Cooper gets Bluetooth

    jake on 2004.04.02 at 07:07 pm

    Mini ConvertibleI just had to post that Mini's are getting Bluetooth as Peanut Butter has given me a new affinity for Bluetooth. Many higher end cars have Bluetooth already but this particular brand is at the top of my list for future car.

    I like the use of Bluetooth for hands free calling (besides the fact my phone does not include it) but I'd like to see more uses of it. Like wirelessly streaming music from an mp3 player or something over the stereo.

    Image found at Many more available.

    Posted in: Auto · Technology

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  127. Monday Morning Tabs

    jake on 2004.03.29 at 12:23 pm

    Just some clean up before I get to work...

    Action needed now on Xbox pirates - Umm... yeah, so let's mess with consumers just like the music industry.

    "The impact on Xbox will be significant. VUG is currently exploring methods used by the music industry to prevent or disrupt casual 'piracy'."

    Cause everyone just loooooves the music industry right now. This will not stop piracy, going after casual pirates should be done through education, not restricting them. I could definitely rant a little more here...

    Report: Orbach may leave 'Law & Order' - Oh crap... He's pretty much my favorite character...

    Samsung HT-DB390 Bluetooth Surround Sound Speaker - This is pretty sweet. I like the idea, though I already have a nice Harmon Kardon receiver so I probably wouldn't shell out extra money. But I'd love to see it be able to receive signals over Bluetooth too. I would love to just turn on iTunes and listen to music without connecting any wires between my Powerbook and the receiver.

    Posted in: Hardware · Rant · Technology

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  128. Aerogel

    jake on 2004.03.26 at 07:15 pm

    Aerogel from NASABoing Boing has a link to an article about Aerogel. I'd be more skeptical but I saw this stuff on The Screen Savers a few weeks ago.

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  129. CIAB - Campaign In A Box

    brian on 2004.03.23 at 11:49 pm

    We started this blog to simply talk about what we read everyday, pass infallible judgment on it, and post it for millions to read. What we didn't set out was any sort of focus on topic. We've gravitated to two things we like to harp on: technology and politics. Therefore I'm obliged by some sort of Internet Law to mention OR - Open Republic.

    CIAB–Campaign In A Box is an idea to build software in the vein of the Dean For America software movement, but continue on in an apolitical, free and open way, to advance American (and, well, anyone's) politics to a more citizen (user) friendly level.

    Of course, the thing they need to address in any attempt to make something open source and usable... is the fact that most open source projects are very far from usable for the average Joe. Or even me, many times. And I'm a "genius." Almost.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  130. Good Home Audio Fun

    brian on 2004.03.05 at 10:31 pm

    The JayZConstructionSet and Apple's GarageBand lead to hours of at home artistic fun. Proceed with caution!

    Posted in: Movies · Technology

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  131. Philips Fluid Lens

    jake on 2004.03.04 at 03:14 pm

    Picture comparison of sizeThis morning PhotographyBLOG had news of a new fluid lens from Philips. The lens is super small and can provide good focusing from 5cm to infinity. I'm sure this would help the camera in my phone. Very cool news.

    The photo is provided by Philips.

    Posted in: Photography · Technology

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  132. Good News in Small Packages

    brian on 2004.02.27 at 04:22 am

    Lest you think I only complain about how bad things are in American politics, here's a more uplifting note. Scientists, regular people, even small children around the world are creating solutions to age old issues (irrigation and water purification, for example) with smaller, low-tech inventions. Best off all they're cheaper and more efficient than those that came before, with less non desirable side effects. Check out "The Big Promise of the Small — small-scale technology for solving water shortage problems".

    Posted in: Technology

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  133. TiVO To Go Feedback

    brian on 2004.02.24 at 02:37 am

    TiVo wants to know what you want. This is a great chance to feedback on the future of the TiVo. Remember ask for extra-special Mac support! The basis of the research is the possibility of transferring video to and from your PC to your TiVo, including DVD recording. It would involve a physical key (USB dongle) to allow play back on non-TiVO devices. They also ask about if you'd like to edit your video.

    What did I want? Here's a summary of the stuff I suggested in the free-form sections...

    • First, I want to be able to edit any video with iMovie, and be able to burn through iDVD.
    • TiVOToGo must respect me, and not treat me like a criminal. I want to use my media, and have 100% control.
    • Standard formats! Steer clear of proprietary. MPEG & DV formats. (MPEG 4, specifically-- this would also address the lack off AAC support in the Home Media Option). Open source stuff would be cool, too.
    • Network enabling is important. I would want to be able to stream across a home network (802.11g should have enough bandwidth, if the video is compressed in MPEG4). I would LOVE to stream video from my TiVO across the internet. Watch something while I'm on lunch at work, you know, make the Digital Media Server, an actual server.

    Go put in your two cents.

    Posted in: Media · Technology

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  134. Declan McCullagh on outsourcing

    jake on 2004.02.23 at 04:26 pm

    Cnet makes a few points about outsourcing IT jobs. Basically that it's not all bad.

    Consider what would happen if Congress restricted companies from shifting jobs overseas. Because rivals in Europe, Japan and Korea could employ cheaper workers in developing nations, they'd have a leg up on U.S. firms. Foreign investors would recognize that rising protectionism makes U.S. companies less competitive and would choose to take their yen and euros elsewhere, driving down the U.S. stock market, shrinking available capital, and eventually leading to more unemployment than if Congress had done nothing.

    I just keep thinking, there's got to be more to all of this than the paranoia. I'm pretty much sick of all the pompous thoughts surrounding this issue.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  135. Apple goes RSS

    brian on 2004.02.17 at 04:38 pm

    Apple now has a page with all of its RSS feeds in one place. Score.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology · Web

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  136. More on Bush Video

    brian on 2004.02.14 at 03:07 am

    Also available in the Bush via Stewart Collection, "Bush on Meet the Press, dissected."

    Posted in: Humor · Politics · Technology

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  137. Related Wired article to last post

    jake on 2004.02.12 at 12:40 pm

    I get Wired Magazine every month, and they actually did a cover story on this topic in the February issue. The article makes some good points about how while IT outsourcing isn't necessarily a good thing, we are definitely whining about it a lot.

    Isn't the emergence of a vibrant middle class in an otherwise poor country a spectacular achievement, the very confirmation of the wonders of globalization - not to mention a new market for American goods and services? And if this transition pinches a little, aren't Americans being a tad hypocritical by whining about it? After all, where is it written that IT jobs somehow belong to Americans - and that any non-American who does such work is stealing the job from its rightful owner?

    And this other point keeps me in the grey area of the whole situation. I'd probably be sitting on the fence less if I was out of a job because of outsourcing but I do believe it can have its place.

    Today, even innovative firms spend too much money maintaining products: fixing bugs and rolling out nearly identical 2.0 versions. Less than 30 percent of R&D spending at mature software firms goes to true innovation, according to the consulting firm Tech Strategy Partners. Send the maintenance to India and, even after costs, 20 percent of the budget is freed up to come up with the next breakthrough app. The result: more workers focused on real innovation. What comes after services? Creativity.

    Posted in: Technology

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  138. Cringely On Overseas Tech Outsourcing

    brian on 2004.02.11 at 11:48 pm

    Cringely hits it on the head with this week's column.

    Posted in: Technology

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  139. Polaroid x530 - First Foveon Sensor in a Consumer Camera

    jake on 2004.02.11 at 06:30 pm

    Image of Foveon x530I have a few links about this topic down below. I've been a big fan of Foveon's x3 chip for a while now. But the only way to get it was from a Sigma SLR which can cost a pretty penny.

    Now Polaroid is producing a camera at the mid range consumer level. I'll have to wait for some reviews before knowing if it's something I'm interested in (I'm a fan of high end cameras, but I can't afford the $1,000+ price tag & lenses just yet). But I like the trend of bringing this beautiful technology to to this level. Plus based on the numbers, this looks like it's 4.5 megapicels versus 3.4 in the Sigma, of course that could be missleading since the x3 isn't the same type of sensor usually compared by megapixels.

    NY Times (from Gizmodo)
    PhotographyBLOG 2

    Posted in: Photography · Technology

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  140. Pixar and Disney Breakup, pull out the ice cream...

    jake on 2004.01.30 at 12:51 pm

    I've always been a big Disney fan, but hated Michael Eisner. He helped bring about a revolution with Disney films form the early nineties. Then he got greedy and started the company down a horrible path. Now they look like chumps and Pixar is leaving their partnership once the current contract runs out. That partnership was arguably the strongest thing Disney had going for it. Now they not only throwing away their own animation studios, but lost the best 3D studio around. Good job Mike.


    Posted in: Art · Movies · Technology

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  141. Raw vs. Jpeg

    jake on 2004.01.23 at 06:17 pm

    PhotographyBLOG has 2 articles about jpeg vs. raw for digital cameras.

    JPG vs RAW vs TIFF: Get it Right the First Time by Ken Rockwell is absurd. He makes very few good points in the article. He actually believes that a lossy jpeg is just as good as a large raw file. Maybe for the Internet, or comp work.

    I just look at it by taking it from a similar musical subject. If I take a large mp3 and a wav file of the same very elaborate music (something with lots of highs and lows) and compare them, the mp3 may sound good, but it's definitely muddy compared to the full wav file as soon as you listen to it from a good system at a good volume.

    Bringing it back to the image, as is stated in the second article (which I'll link to in a second) as soon as you try to blow the image up, even with a good camera, you can notice the compression's effects on the image.

    Sermon From A Raw Convert by Petteri Sulonen is written from a more objective view point. He explains how Raw isn't always the way to go when you shoot, but in most circumstances it's flexibility raises it above jpeg.

    Posted in: Photography · Technology

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  142. RFID Chip in Soccer Balls

    jake on 2004.01.23 at 05:31 pm

    Gizmodo posted about an interesting technology use. To implant RFID tags in soccer balls. Being a big soccer fan I find this very interesting. I wouldn't mind being able to see (online perhaps) a representation of the ball movement.

    Posted in: Sports · Technology

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  143. Save money by "downgrading" a Creative Nomad Muvo2

    jake on 2004.01.22 at 07:37 pm

    Creative Nomad Muvo2I found this link over at Gizmodo. Apparently you can strip out the microdrive from a Creative Nomad Muvo2 and replace it. Considering the price for a 4GB microdrive (what comes in the player) you actually save money by doing this.

    Posted in: Cool Info · Technology

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  144. Don't Cry For Scott Blum

    brian on 2003.12.15 at 10:40 pm

    You'll have to excuse me for not crying for Scott Blum, CEO of "BuyMusic." You may remember their claims of being music for the rest of us (referencing the mythical "97%" of non-Apple users)

    "If you don't support Windows, you cut off 97% of the market," Blum said.

    Well Apple's iTunes and iPod has fully compatibility with Windoze boxes and today he's back with a different tune,

    "We're not achieving [Apple's numbers] at all," says BuyMusic CEO Scott Blum. "I've spoken with my competitors, and we're nowhere near [Apple's] numbers."

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  145. Digital Sundials International

    jake on 2003.12.02 at 07:27 pm

    Also Boing Boing pointed me toward this little gem this morning. A Digital Sundial. It uses two masks to display digits. It's also completely passive.

    Posted in: Technology

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  146. Haunted Mansion Replica House

    jake on 2003.12.02 at 07:12 pm

    Boing Boing pointed me to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article about Mark Hurt, a guy whole built his house to look exactly like The Haunted Mansion ride in Disney Theme Parks.

    Something frightful happens every time Mark Hurt turns on the cold water in his downstairs bathroom.

    The lights begin to flicker. A mysterious voice cackles, "Watch out for hitchhiking ghoooosts." And then, right on cue, a cadaverous ghost hovers for a few heart-stopping seconds in the gold-rimmed mirror above the sink.

    Don't forget the movie...

    Posted in: Design · Humor · Technology

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  147. PS3 artwork making rounds as Sony concept

    jake on 2003.12.02 at 05:50 pm

    PS3 artwork by Julien VanhoenackerThis is the first time I have first hand info that a concept piece is fake. It's more annoying than anything else. kanex at GFXartist created a 3D render with Rhino3D and Brazil of what he thought would be a cool looking Playstation 3.

    In the last 24 hours his work has been published in a few different places as a concept image from Sony. Sorry, but this image was created back in July by Julien and I think he should get credit. thinks it's not actually a concept image, but I'd just like to prove that it's not before it makes the rounds even more...

    Posted in: Art · Media · Service Announcement · Technology

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  148. iPod Anniversary

    brian on 2003.12.01 at 11:12 am

    Two years ago Apple released its first electronic device that wasn't a personal computer in a while. The iPod aimed to combine the storage of hard drive based digital music systems, and the skip protection and diminutive size of the flash-ram based systems. Add to that phenomenal speed of music transfer and seamless integration with Apple's competent iTunes software, and you had simply the best portable digital music player on the planet.

    I'm a very difficult person to buy gifts for, but when this came out at about the same time as my birthday (and still having a college graduation gift to cash in) I knew exactly what I wanted when this was announced. It was the device I had been waiting for.

    Not everyone had the foresight to appreciated it as I did. See this blog entry with selected Slashdot comments about the iPod's release. Heehee.

    Today, the iPod is an icon of music empowerment. Every gadget geek and musician and sports star worth his or her salt has one. They've been given as gifts at the Grammys and other awards shows. The New York Times Magazine writes extended stories on the magic of its existence. Stereophile Magazine lists it as the product of the year.

    Although there's been some controversy about its internals at times (my original 5gb model is still working just fine, thank you), no one can deny that two years after its introduction, its the most popular electronic device on the market today, as well as the season's most desired gift.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  149. New Color Chooser

    jake on 2003.11.17 at 04:24 pm


    ColorMatch Remix, best I've seen so far, good job Twyst.

    Posted in: Design · Technology · Web

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  150. Comic RSS feeds.

    jake on 2003.11.17 at 04:14 pm

    Good 'ol Boing Boing has a recent post that highlights a web site providing RSS feeds for daily comic strips. This is a very nice idea, it saves me from sifting through 10 web pages every morning to tickle my funny bone.

    Posted in: Humor · Technology

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  151. Sigma SD10

    jake on 2003.11.04 at 06:29 pm

    SD10 Digital CameraSigma is releasing an updated digital camera similar to their SD9 body. Using an updated Foveon Chip it looks like a promising camera. Their is a SD10 preview at Digital Photography Review.

    Also a group of reviews at PhotographyBLOG

    Posted in: Photography · Technology

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  152. Tech That Should Die?

    brian on 2003.09.30 at 08:06 pm

    In the MIT Technology Review, Bruce Sterling takes ten technologies to task, and sentences them to death. Some of them are pure genius, but I'm not so sure he had his head on straight when he says "Newfangled electronic-parole monitors and ubiquitous computing offer plenty of opportunities." Well, that's nice but no GPS-equipped anklet is going to stop someone from assaulting or robbing another human being. In fact, this might not even be proper punishment for white collar crime.

    Posted in: Technology

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  153. Surprise! Monday Apple Updates!

    brian on 2003.09.08 at 12:48 pm

    In an update best described as "out of nowhere," especially noting the Apple Expo Paris coming later this month, Apple updated several products this morning.

    First new iMacs, same price points for a 15" and 17", faster specs. Now they sport 1 GHz and 1.25 GHz respecitively. The only other differences between the two models now are the optical drives (combo vs super) and the video cards.

    Secondly, perhaps more surprisingly, is a quick revamp of the iPod line. Apple swapped out the 15 and 30GB models for 20s and 40s! Prices remain the same.

    And it wasn't even a Tuesday…

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  154. Seattle Wireless TV

    brian on 2003.08.24 at 11:27 pm

    This is what makes the web amazing. These guys at Seattle Wireless produce their own TV show for viewing on the web. Really well made. However, downloading the MPEG at 182mb is a little ridiculous. I watched the Real Player stream instead. Although the quality suffered because of it, it was good enough for me. The other option was WiMP. Kudos to these guys. Well done. Go watch the 15 minute episode!

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  155. Sponge May Provide Boost To Fiber Optics

    jake on 2003.08.21 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you SpongeBob SquarePants!

    The "Venus flower basket" is a sponge that lives in the cold deep waters of the ocean. It has fibers on it's body that can transmit light better than the man made fiber optic cables that are currently manufactured.

    "You can actually tie a knot in these natural biological fibers and they will not break it's really quite amazing," said Joanna Aizenberg, who led the research at Bell Laboratories.

    BBC News
    CNET News
    Google News Search

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  156. Virus attack

    brian on 2003.08.20 at 01:19 am

    I got lots of virus invested emails today. Others in Boston did too. I, unsurprisingly, went unaffected, other than deleting 30some virus-laiden emails. Normally, I enjoy being in the minority, but days like these make me wish the other 95% would hop on the cluetrain.

    [note: this is basically the same as the post I made on 37SvN. After posting that, I figured it was a good thing to have here, too]

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  157. Texas Cleaning Up its Act?

    brian on 2003.08.18 at 01:52 pm

    It seems Texas, traditionally home to oil-barons and the country's most polluted city (Houston) may be cleaning up its act. It seems the state has snuck to #2 in the country in production of wind-generated power. Wired has the shocking details.

    Posted in: Technology

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  158. 64-bit Computing holds Great Promise

    brian on 2003.08.18 at 01:38 pm

    The New York Times has written an article describing the benefits of Apple's deployment of the 64-bit G5 Chip.

    Thirty-two bit processors are limited to a theoretical maximum of handling 4 billion bytes of RAM per task. (A byte equals eight bits.) But by the magic of exponential math, a 64-bit processor can theoretically handle 16 quintillion (or 16 billion billion) bytes of RAM. For all current practical purposes, that is an infinite amount.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  159. Diamonds are for everyone

    jake on 2003.08.13 at 07:13 pm

    Wired Magazine has a long article this month about new man made diamonds. Two different technologies have emerged recently where machines are used to fabricate diamonds. Diamonds are currently being monopolized by De Beers. They own a high percentage of the world's natural diamonds.

    Along with creating diamonds to be used in jewelry there are many reasons to happy in the semiconductor business. Especially for Apollo Diamond, which was started with that end result in mind. A diamond can be heated well beyond current silicon chips.

    I was not planning on buying my future wife a diamond a while ago. I figured she could handle something else, considering De Beers isn't exactly the type of company I would like to put money into. Now, especially considering I don't plan on getting married any time soon, I have an alternative to that plan. If she really wants a diamond I can just get a man made one and be promoting technology instead of a monopoly.

    "It is not a symbol of eternal love if it is something that was created last week."

    Well I beg to differ, I'd say it's not a symbol of eternal love if there's a stockpile in a warehouse that's collecting dust. Or if it is a blood diamond. I don't plan on giving De Beers any of my money.

    Posted in: Hardware · Science · Technology

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  160. Dense fog settling in

    jake on 2003.08.08 at 07:45 pm

    Two fog stories, completely unrelated, that are pretty cool.

    The first one is about a camera technology that removes fog from film. Dubbed Dmist, the technology "can be plugged straight into a normal video camera."

    The device works by taking out the light scattered by water particles so the picture can be recovered in colour, as if it were being shot on a clear day.

    Professor Nigel Allinson, from UMIST, said it had potential for airports - where fog can shut down operations, costing thousands of pounds in delays.

    The second reminds me of one of the shows in DisneyLand/World where they project images onto a mist of water. In this case a thin film of "dry" fog is projected onto.

    The basic components of the screen are a laminar, non-turbulent airflow, and a thin fog screen (or any particles) injected into and inside a laminar flow. Created this way, the fog screen is an internal part of the laminar airflow, and remains thin, crisp, and protected from turbulence. When the screen is formed, images can be either rear- or front-projected onto it. The screen can be translucent (as in the images below) or fully opaque. Our current fog screen prototype already proves the operating principle with excellent results. The quality, size, and other features of the screen will be enhanced in the coming weeks.

    The Walk-thru Fog Screen

    Posted in: Hardware · Science · Technology

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  161. Freelance Honesty

    brian on 2003.07.26 at 02:31 am

    I like everything about this article.

    It is basically an outline of how tech support generally sucks, but that can be overcome for fun and profit, for the benefit small, underserved businesses. And they'll get a fair shake. And a talented person could work 20 hours a week and make a pretty good living.

    Posted in: Technology

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  162. Cantenna Cantina

    brian on 2003.07.26 at 02:18 am

    Cantenna WiFi booster: takes the Pringles can concept to a new, premade yet affordable level. Good for them.

    Posted in: Technology

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  163. Side of fries, and diesel.

    brian on 2003.07.26 at 02:16 am

    Wired carries a story on the use of used fryer oil as vehicle fuel. I've followed the development of biodiesel, but was unaware of the use of (more or less) unrefined fryer oil as fuel.

    Ignore the fact that veggie fuel is cleaner for the environment, and would reduce our non-strategic dependance on foreign oil. There is hope that this would actually be much less expensive than fossil fuels. And we all know that this is the only thing that ever promotes change.

    Posted in: Technology

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  164. Random Bits

    brian on 2003.07.11 at 12:37 am

    Apologies in advance for the recent lapse of posts from me. Busy week or so. First off, this is my first post from my new 12" Apple PowerBook. It's quite the machine. In other news, the other end of my local connection, and AirPort Base Station (wireless router) now (finally) terminates in a DSL modem. Speakeasy has been good thus far.

    One of the first things I watched with my new high speed (although, not officially "broadband" which 1 Megabit and higher, I get around half that) connection was a sequel to the classic "Napster Bad" animation, "Sue All the World." Not quite as good as the original, but what else is new. It's funny.

    Lastly, a new must have gizmo: Kensington WiFi Finder.

    Posted in: Technology

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  165. Double sided OLED phone?

    jake on 2003.07.05 at 02:04 am

    Japanese company ELDis has produced a cell phone with an OLED display on both the inside and the outside. I have to agree with Gizmodo, I'd like to see more OLED displays in general. This seems more like a gimmick.

    The Straits Times [from Gizmodo]

    Posted in: Technology

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  166. Sanyo moving toward more OLED production

    jake on 2003.07.03 at 04:22 pm

    Sanyo will be moving production of 60% of panels to OLED from LCD by the Spring of 2004.

    DigiTimes [from Anandtech]

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  167. Adventures in Broadband

    brian on 2003.07.01 at 09:07 pm

    Yesterday, I joined the present and ordered a DSL connection for my apartment. I had held off for financial reasons: in our household (two people) we had one full-time student, and one half income. Now we have one full-time income, and one almost half income, that stands to leapfrog the other's full-time income shortly. Broadband is expensive. In general, the slowest residential connection will set you back $50 per month, plus taxes. Verizon is offering a $34.95 per month deal, but it's terribly hard for me to decipher what I have to do to get that, and if it stays at that rate.

    At the moment we have contracts with Verizon for our local landline telephone and our wireless phones. We have long distance through some other company who I can't name, because they signed Amanda up over the phone. We have no contract, but service with Comcast for very basic cable television. It ain't much, but we're ecstatic that it's under $10 a month. I said basic. Bottomline is that none of these companies could break the $50 a month barrier, even in a package deal with our existing packages. Verizon claims to, but they would want to have us pickup a long distance plan as well, but we don't use landline long distance: their wireless division handles all the distance we need. What we'd add in per month extras to the long distance would essentially cover what they were going to knockoff in DSL charges.

    Anyone who knows me knows I prefer smaller, more customer-centric companies. So I went looking for one in the broadband market. The first one I encountered was RCN. We tried to sign up with them the day we moved to Brookline. Seeing their manholes on either side of our apartment lead us to believe this would be easy. Not so. After having their helpful agent enquire, we found they service all of our neighboring buildings, just not ours. However, they were looking to continue construction of their network that coming spring, and might hook our building up then. That spring came, went, without any RCN trucks on my street. One unanswered email to their company later, I left them for dead. A shame, considering their local telephone/ digital cable / broadband package looks to be the best deal I've seen anywhere. Talking to local customers with them confirmed those suspicions. So I moved on.

    Further research lead me to the independent DSL ISP "Speakeasy." I had heard mumblings about their "legendary" customer support around the web, so I investigated their service. Well, it's seemingly no bargain, at $49.99 a month for 608 kbps down, 128 kbps up. That's basically the same as everyone else. The difference, comes in the people running the company. They support Mac and Linux, and when you call, reports have it they are actually helpful. When you sign up, they don't even ask you what OS you're running. They don't care. How refreshing.

    Should service be needed, you get live, online tracking of its progress. Right now, I'm tracking the progress of my connection set up. I called to sign up last night, at 8pm, and at 3pm today I received an automated email that said at noon their vendor had set up the date to hook me into the central office, which will be July 7th. That seems to to be a ways a way, but I appreciate the up-to-the-minute status reports, which I can log into my account page and see in even more technical detail. I also received my IP addresses. Did I mention static IPs? That's terribly unusual. And a good thing: they're cool with you running servers!

    What's more, they are pro-WiFi. Yes, use wireless, and they think it's a good thing. Want to share with your neighbors? Go right ahead! You can start your own WiFi ISP, they call it NetShare. You get to choose what to charge your neighbors, Speakeasy takes care of their billing, and sets up email accounts, web space and other services for them. Of course, Speakeasy pockets 50% of your customer's bill, and you have to buy the WiFi equipment yourself, maintain it, and provide up-and-running tech support to your neighbors, but that other 50% goes towards your monthly bill.

    So now I have a week to see if I can find someone to sign up for their NetShare plan. I already own the WiFi gear, so why not try to make some money back? If I get enough interested souls, I might even be able to jump up a level in speed. They offer DSL at up to 3Mbps down/ 768 kbps up! I can't afford it, but if I have enough help... And if you're reading this from near the intersection of St. Paul and Parkman streets in Brookline, email me now! I'm not looking to run at a profit, so the more people I find, the less we all pay. By the way, if you think you might check out Speakeasy after reading this, please do so through the Speakeasy links I've provided here. I'll get $25 credit if you sign up as a residential customer, $50 if you're a business. Just stay a customer for 7 days, so the credit will go through (you have 25 days to back out, if you don't like their service). Thanks!

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  168. Bluetooth locates small children in zoo

    jake on 2003.06.30 at 11:56 pm

    The Aalborg Zoo in Denmark is beginning to use a new technology to keep track of little ones. Using Bluetooth they have built a wireless network that keeps track of the "pods" attached to the child's clothing. Luckily they plan on implementing a wristband that will sound an alarm when removed.

    This is a new idea that I see taking hold in many zoos and theme parks around the world. Imagine a little Mickey themed bracelet that keeps track of children in the Magic Kingdom. If it was included with the ticket or like $5 bucks a day I'd more than likely use it.

    Now I just need to find some kids...

    c|net [from Gizmodo]

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  169. Nationwide WiFi: Free.

    brian on 2003.06.25 at 02:30 am

    Nationwide WiFi for free... if you live on the South Pacific island of Niue. The Polynesian island has led the way in internet technology for its 2,000 citizens by roling out free email since 1997, free connectivity since 1999, and now island-wide WiFi.

    The nation fund this development and costly satellite driven internet from the proceeds from selling the registration for the nation's .NU top-level domain.

    Posted in: Technology · Web

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  170. WWDC: the day after

    brian on 2003.06.25 at 01:56 am

    Over the past day, I've had the opportunity to try some of the new technologies unveiled at the WWDC keynote.

    • Safari 1.0. This is my first blog entry from that newly 1.0 browser. It has fixed a minor bug in one of our navigation menus on the right.
    • iChat AV (beta) and iSight. Wow. These go beyond mere Instant Messaging. This is "say hi to Grama and Grandpa in Boca" tech. This is "see your kid in the middle of your Pacific Rim business trip" technology. I'm impressed with the quality, and of course, the simplicity (zero setup, worldwide). iSight is small, eminently portable (smaller than your average deodorant stick) and of great quality for the price. Saw a great many fly out the door today (to customers and employees alike) without any on public display. I look forward to using it with my and my girlfriend's family. Tomorrow brings connected demo models, hopefully.
    • PowerMac G5. Available in August, most likely. I can't wait to see one in person. Winner for best nickname as of yet:Cheese Grater
    • PowerBooks, since there are no new PowerBooks as of yet, I have invested in a 12" Combo drive model for interim, until a new 15" comes out, at which time I will reassess, and perhaps trade up. (No, we don't have a trade-up program.) For now, it's a sleek, powerfully affordable option. Hopefully, broadband will follow for us, and after that... iSight!

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  171. Audio player in your Volkswagen

    jake on 2003.06.24 at 06:50 pm

    I read about this when I brought my Golf in for its last oil change. Volkswagen has licensed the Phatnoise system to bring various audio formats to your car. You get 20 gigabyte (per cartridge) of storage space and it works with the already present head unit.

    I'm having a hard time deciding over this product. It would be nice to have my entire music collection at my fingertips. But it also costs money (same as others? $859.00,) which I don't have coming out of my ears...

    Volkswagen Phatnoise Digital Audio System [from Gizmodo]

    Posted in: Auto · Technology

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  172. WWDC Keynote Today

    brian on 2003.06.23 at 12:07 pm

    Today is the day Mac fans have waited for all year. Fittingly, it's also my very first day as a full time Apple employee, albeit, I have the day off (that must be a good omen). But, like a good employee, I'll make the pilgrimage to see the WWDC Keynote today to see the unveiling of Apple's future. You can't view it live unless you're on Apple real estate, at certain university viewings, or have your own Ku- or C-Band satellite dish. We've been told for sure that today will herald the first public viewing of Panther, the next OS from Apple: 10.3. What else will told reveal? I don't know, but whatever it is, it's got to be funky.

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  173. Lessig replies to Hatch: you're dumb.

    brian on 2003.06.18 at 07:07 pm

    Lessig has replied to the suggestion made by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) to allow copyright holders remotely destroy the computers of those they believe are illegally distributing their work. From the AP article:

    "No one is interested in destroying anyone's computer," replied Randy Saaf of MediaDefender Inc., a secretive Los Angeles company that builds technology to disrupt music downloads.

    "I'm interested," Hatch interrupted.

    To which Lessig replied,

    Can we bomb the offices of stock brokers thought to be violating SEC regulations? Or bulldoze houses of citizens with unregistered guns? Or --yes, this is good-- short the telephones of people who use indecent language?

    If so, looks like Martha would "go boom."

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  174. PBS: Lessig v. RIAA, interpretations

    brian on 2003.06.14 at 02:55 am

    PBS Online has an excellent piece with Prof. Lawrence Lessig and the RIAA's Matt Oppenheim going to back and forth to answer tough questions on copyright, DCMA, fair-use, P2P, and the like. Very informative. The RIAA, while still obviously more interested in profit versus progress, sounds the most level headed I've ever heard it.

    Posted in: Media · Music · Politics · Technology · Web

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  175. EU wants to tax net sales, expects US companies to collect

    brian on 2003.06.14 at 01:50 am

    The European Union is looking to assess its heavy sales taxes (VAT: 15%-25%) upon e-commerce sales. While that may not be surprising unto itself (unless you never realized how heavy European sales taxes are!), what may surprise you is the collection scheme. They expect companies on the net, who don't reside in European countries, to collect the taxes for them anyhow, on purchases shipped to Europe. And they're serious.

    What's worse is that it seems to be have a good deal of momentum. AOL has already started to arrange for more staff in its Luxembourg office for this purpose. If you have an office in Europe, you only need to assess that country's tax (Lux has the lowest, at 15%). Otherwise, you need to collect in varying degrees based upon the shipping destination, for each country you ship to.

    US businesses have already moved to push the Bush Administration to issue a grievance at a World Trade meeting. That might be the first intelligent thing this administration will do. And I'll be the first to say it, too.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology · Web

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  176. iPod sure beats Musak

    brian on 2003.06.14 at 12:41 am

    Adam Porter knows music. He's a DJ. He owns a record shop. He runs a music design service. The latter means he'll pick out music to play at your business: (restaurants, clubs, retail, etc.) which best compliments your image. Here he's innovating. For a fee, he'll layout a music design for you business and then place it on a iPod. He'll hook it to your audio system, and then refresh it monthly. Songs and arranged playlists. These businesses already pay royalties to play music in their store, which covers the use of his music. That's pretty slick.
    (via MacMinute.)

    Posted in: Apple · Music · Technology

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  177. Carbon Nanotube Mail

    jake on 2003.06.12 at 11:52 pm

    Scientists at the University of Texas have developed a thread made from carbon nanotubes. When woven together the material is "five times stronger than steel." It also has electrical properties. It was referenced that this could be used for body armor. The threads would only stop bullets and knives from a piercing standpoint. They still won't stop the blunt trauma. I learned that on Discovery. The show about Body Armor to be exact. The blunt trauma can also be lethal -- an indent caused by pressure -- by damaging organs.

    Materials made from such strong threads could be used to make bullet-proof vests as light as a T-shirt. And their electrical properties could be harnessed to put microsensors into our clothes, measuring everything from temperature to heart rate.

    New Scientist

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  178. New DVDs all wet

    jake on 2003.06.11 at 02:02 pm

    Because of a problem with heat cracking the conventional blue lasers used for next generation DVDs a new method using water has been developed. This should reduce costs, which have been high during early production development.

    Liquids, however, don't crack. Enter the world's first water-based blue laser. Researchers at BlackLight Power heated water vapor with microwaves to generate energized hydrogen atoms which emit multispectrum light rays, including infrared, blue and violet. A prototype blue laser device is expected by the end of the year.

    Popular Science

    Posted in: Technology

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  179. OLED on next iPod?

    jake on 2003.06.05 at 06:17 pm

    According to Think Secret Apple is researching the use of OLED's on their next generation iPods. This will be cool application of the technology. It will also enhance the exposure of this technology. [from Gizmodo]

    Posted in: Apple · Technology

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  180. AOL and Microsoft kiss and make up

    brian on 2003.06.01 at 01:22 am

    So people are grumbling (and rightfully so) about the AOL/ Microsoft settlement. If you missed it, the settlement includes a free seven year license for the use of Internet Explorer. Now why would the owner of Netscape want an inferior browser? This stinks to high holy heaven. Also included: licensing of Windows Media Player 9. Joy.

    The above article is an interesting look into some involved that I actually care about: the guys (and gals, I suppose) of the Mozilla Project. Let's hope they weren't just a pawn in this whole deal

    Posted in: Technology

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  181. Finding Nemo and Pixar

    jake on 2003.05.30 at 07:12 pm

    Today Finding Nemo is coming out in theaters. I'm waiting till Sunday to see it with a small group of friends.

    There's a review of it at

    In the past, the partnership of Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios has brought us the "Toy Story" films, "A Bug's Life" and "Monsters, Inc." Their latest collaboration, "Finding Nemo" continues the amazing winning streak.

    And there's also a tour recap at The Salt Lake Tribune. The article relates some of the ideas that make the whole operation tick. Things like, the "bathroom effect" theory.

    Here's the "bathroom effect" theory, as Greenberg explains it: "If you have bathrooms that are scattered throughout the building, you use the bathroom nearest to where you're sitting. If there was one bathroom, all kinds of people would come together and talk with one another all the time -- you'd meet different people if you were waiting in line. It would enhance communication, and you'd be talking about things outside of work."

    Posted in: Movies · Technology

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  182. Lessig on OpenEducation

    brian on 2003.05.30 at 03:32 pm

    Lawrence Lessig has an interview with Open Education available online here. I've been reading more and more Lessig of late. An interesting twist on his normal crusade to prevent the corporate control of everything technological is its effects on the education community. Recent events like the launch of MIT's OpenCourseware must give pause to the industry since text book profits make up 75% of book publishing profits, according to some reports. Publishers love captive audiences (to gouge).

    Posted in: Technology

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  183. The Big Ten (media)

    brian on 2003.05.30 at 03:12 pm

    Not a post about collegiate sports, this is all about the media. Ten major corporations control a huge amount of what you see daily.

    This is along the lines of They Rule and a post from about a week ago, here.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology · Television

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  184. University powered music service?

    brian on 2003.05.30 at 03:04 pm

    In an attempt to stem colleges from being a hub for entertainment piracy, some colleges are considering running their own download services, which may even be paid for under a student's tuition.

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  185. 20,000 x $1 books

    brian on 2003.05.27 at 02:42 am

    The bookmobile will make you a one dollar book while you wait. 20,000 books in the public domain availible now, millions more await scanning.

    Posted in: Technology

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  186. Verizon to put WiFi on the street?

    brian on 2003.05.12 at 02:41 pm

    According to a Yahoo News (Reuters) article, Verizon is investigating the placement of WiFi hot-spots in public pay phones for use by their subscribed broadband customers on the go. Pay phones have been somewhat obsolesced by the cellular phone, but this is an interesting idea of how a phone company could revive worth from their installed base of eqipment. Additionally, the story speculates that Verizon may not charge extra for the service, rather using it to increase their broadband product's value.

    Posted in: Technology

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  187. Disney Electronics

    jake on 2003.05.09 at 01:40 pm

    Boing Boing mentioned this yesterday. I noticed the phones a while ago, and saw the DVD (or) player and TV (or) last week in the Circuit City flyer. What I had no idea about, was that the premier design group Frog Design helped in designing these products.

    Posted in: Design · Technology

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  188. Finding Nemo

    jake on 2003.05.09 at 01:24 pm

    Inside Computer Graphics linked to this very interesting article about the new Pixar movie Finding Nemo and the technology involved in making it. It is apparently the cover story to the May issue of the magazine.

    The article discusses some of the creative aspects of the film. Such as having a 25-gallon fish tank with tropical fish nearby during production.

    It also goes into depth about the technical process and some of the new software and tweaking the developers did during production.

    [Oren] Jacob and his team first needed to create a suite of tools in the water arena. The most complex was the 3D water simulator, which allows water to interact with itself, such as when it crashes or crests, and also creates the necessary viscosity. "[For this], we expanded and modified Fizt, the fur and cloth simulator used on Monsters, Inc.," Jacob says. Martin Nugyn, John Anderson, David Baraff, Andy Witkin, and Apurva Shah were instrumental in writing the suite of tools for the 3D water simulation.

    I cannot wait for this movie to come out in a few weeks. It's even more complex than Monsters Inc. was.

    Posted in: Technology

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  189. epaper making headway

    jake on 2003.05.09 at 12:31 pm

    Wired and MsNBC both have an article that stemmed from The article showcases a flexible screen from E-Ink. It's fairly small and only does black and white. But it's a nice step forward.

    I mostly liked the electronic paper use in Minority Report, which I saw last week, for newspapers. I'm more interested in taking the ebook I've been reading mobile without printing it. And not on a tiny pda screen thanks, give me A4 or paperback size and that'll make me happy.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  190. Jhai Laotian Wireless Update

    brian on 2003.05.07 at 02:42 am

    Wired has published a follow up on the Jhai project we mentioned months back. The Jhai group has built a Linux (actually, Laonux- a Laotian language-based Linux build) powered, wireless connected computer designed to to be run on bicycle power in remote Laos. Unfortunately, the project has met some major set backs, but they are continuing on, and hope to have it running before June.

    "Jhai" is Laotian for "hearts and minds working together."

    Posted in: Linux · Technology

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  191. Apple Music, part 2

    brian on 2003.05.03 at 12:18 am

    I guess you can say it's been a successful launch for the first week of Apple's iTunes Music Store and the new line of iPods

    At the Apple Store "LIVE!" launch party Friday night, fans were lined up hundreds deep to get their hands on the new iPods. At least four registers were non-stop iPod customers for two straight hours after the store re-opened at 6pm. Many bought more than one. Also available was this hot new accessory from Timbuk2 which I'll be picking up tomorrow.

    In other news, Billboard is reporting...

    The service, which went live Monday, sold an estimated 275,000 tracks at 99 cents apiece in its first 18 hours, according to major-label sources.

    Our friends at As the Apple Turns (who have magically resurfaced this week) are ciphering that...

    Figure first of all that the iTunes Music Store was maybe ten times more active at its launch... an average day...27,500 songs sold in 18 hours, or 36,667 a day... conservatively estimate that Windows support will increase Apple's customer base, say, eightfold, and international support will double it. That comes out to roughly 586,000 songs sold per day (@ 99¢ each)

    While Crazy Apple Rumors is reporting on the rumored iTunes for Windows...

    ...based on strict adherence to Windows interface guidelines it will be required to suck 43.5% more than the Macintosh version.

    Posted in: Music · Software · Technology

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  192. 3D Crystal Ball

    jake on 2003.04.30 at 07:02 pm

    Gizmodo has a link to an article about the 3D wonder. It is basically a monitor where a 3D image is displayed within a sphere. And it's under $40k not including installation.

    The monitor consists of a transparent volumous bulb in which a high-speed spinning "plate" revolves, displaying images from pixel points on its surface. This requires the ability to flip between images at extremely high rates of speed (especially at the outter edge), and requires massive bandwidth.

    Homepage of manufacturer.

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  193. Apple Music!

    brian on 2003.04.29 at 01:34 am

    Well, could I not write up my impressions of the new Apple announcements (1, 2) today?

    First comes the Apple iTunes Music Store. I played with this on and off today, and I'm very impressed. Very visually appealing, pretty usable. Best feature: every song has a 30 sec. full-quality (AAC) preview. Other points: there's a lot of great music. 200,000 tracks as of today, thousands more weekly. However, there are some notable absences. Most glaring to me was Dave Matthews Band. Word is that some music is missing because it simply hasn't been ripped yet. Others, Apple is actually going back to the master recordings to get the best possible quality out of classic recordings. Lastly, some are holding out due to contractual issues, where they are individually negotiating with artists who control the digital rights personally. Some big artists notable for that have already signed on, like The Eagles. Some artists, like U2, have given exclusive rights to sell some rare tracks. U2's Bono also appeared in the promotional video, speaking from the heart about the importance of the iPod and the new service.

    iTunes 4 is new, and the only way to access the iTunes Music Store. Yes, that means no Windows. Yet. Steve has promised that by year's end. I played with iTunes today as well. Notable features: AAC encoding is optimized for the G4. I saw a CD track ripping to AAC at 16x speed. Awesome. The buttons have been redesigned slightly. Rendezvous sharing works amazingly well. Super simple.

    Question of the week: Does iTunes 4/Music Store use WebCore??

    iPods: new, and due in stores Friday. New dock allows you to hook up to computers, yes. But it's most understated feature is that it has audio out as well, which means you can use it to interface with your home stereo. Buy an extra to put anywhere you want to drop in your iPod. They're sold separately (and don't ship with the entry 10GB). Also, the iPod's interface: how long until other companies allow you to drop an iPod into their machine for interface?

    Slimmer, smoother shape. Backlighting, cool. New extra games, cool. Customizable menus, awesome. On the fly playlists... finally!!! USB 2.0: unimpressed. Same crappy belt clip. It can't all be roses, I suppose.

    Question of the day: how did Apple make the same iPod work for both Windows and Macs? Is it a pick-one deal, or may you forever go back and forth?

    All in all, a very happy day in Apple land. Check out the event, Friday night!

    Posted in: Music · Software · Technology

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  194. Gov't + Big Telcos are killing the little guy

    brian on 2003.04.26 at 06:59 pm

    This Wired News article speaks about the growing pressures upon the independent ISP. With an overbearing Government (Pro-Big-Business FCC and privacy-crushing DOJ and Congress) on one side and self-centered copyright-holding conglomerates on the other, and unaided by a complacent judicical system, the indy ISP may be a thing of the past. And along with it your last hopes for online privacy.

    Posted in: Politics · Technology

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  195. Variant method to cool computers

    jake on 2003.04.16 at 06:44 pm

    Some researchers at Purdue University have discovered a way to effectively use liquid cooling without a pump.

    As liquid flows through the channels, it is heated by the chip and begins to boil, producing bubbles of vapor. Because the buoyant vapor bubbles are lighter than the liquid, they rise to the top of the tube, where they are cooled by a fan and condensed back into a liquid. The cool liquid then flows into the parallel tube and descends, creating a self-sustaining flow that eventually re-enters the microchannel plate and starts all over again.

    Tiny bubbles are key to liquid-cooled system for future computers

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  196. Build your own TiVo

    jake on 2003.04.16 at 02:32 pm

    Gizmodo has a link to an article at ExtremeTech anout building a media PC with linux. It's part one of a three part series. I will post when those go up too. It describes with detail building a small PC to broadcast; mp3's, pictures, and movies. It also includes a TiVo style interface which allows you to record live TV.

    I have been interested in building a machine like this for a couple months now. I don't have the dispensable cash to do it, but I plan on using a Shuttle SN41G2 to make mine. It'll run me a little more in the cost department, but would be smaller and has many integrated features.

    The software being used in the article is Freevo. Upon reading through the discussionwww.shuttle forums base on the article, I came across some more information. MythTV is an alternative to Freevo. Also TitanTV stores free program guides.

    Posted in: Hardware · Linux · Software · Technology

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  197. WorkFi

    brian on 2003.04.15 at 03:29 am

    Wired again with the WiFi. This time its about how it can change the way we work.

    Posted in: Technology

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  198. 802.11n? Too bad it's a few years off.

    jake on 2003.04.14 at 07:35 pm

    Gizmodo has a link to an article from 802.11 Planet. This article states that, based on an interview, a big jump in speed for Wi-Fi is being developed.

    The High Throughput Group is trying to deal with some of these issues. "We're talking true throughput here," says Kerry. "We've had proposals running at 108 Mbit/s and on up to 320 Mbit/s."

    Posted in: Hardware · Technology

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  199. Digital Music Files

    brian on 2003.04.08 at 05:25 pm

    iPod Lounge has an article defining and reviewing the different formats vying to be the heir to the MP3 "digital-music-on-personal-computers-etc." throne. MP3 is nearing 20 years old, and is limited by its age. Formats like AAC (AAC on Apple), Ogg and others vie to be the next generation de facto standard. Personally, I'm hoping for both AAC (licensed) and Ogg (open source) to succeed.

    Posted in: Music · Technology

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  200. Various info. from Robodex 2003

    jake on 2003.04.07 at 06:12 pm

    Neowin has a post the guides you to an article on the BBC web site.

    The show brings together more than 90 different types of robot from 38 companies, colleges and other organisations, up from last year's 72 bots.

    And over at I4U there are a whole boat load of pictures for you to sift through. All of the pages they direct you to are in Japanese. But the pictures are what you're interested in so it doesn't matter.

    Posted in: Technology

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  201. "All your base..." terrorist threat?

    jake on 2003.04.04 at 06:12 pm

    Boing Boing pointed out an article at the Sturgis Journal where a bunch of kids were arrested for terrorist acts.

    Sturgis police arrested seven Sturgis men for placing more than 20 threatening letters on various businesses, schools, banks and at the post office. At least 12 signs were posted Monday morning. Another 20 were put up Tuesday evening, according to Sturgis police.

    The prank was for April Fools and involved signs referencing the "All your base are belong to us" geek joke.

    The "All your base are belong to us" are lines said by Cats, a bad guy in a 1989 Japanese video game. The poor translation to English led to its use by many involved in the video game culture.

    If you'd like to inform yourself, check out the links below.
    Official Video Site

    Posted in: Technology

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  202. Another updated topic. Alcoholic Batteries.

    jake on 2003.04.04 at 05:36 pm

    As we mentioned earlier there has been strides in using ethanol to power a battery. Wired has also posted an article about the technology.

    "You can use any alcohol. You will be able to pour it straight out of the bottle and into your battery," said team member Nick Akers, a graduate student. "We have run it on various types. It didn't like carbonated beer and doesn't seem fond of wine, but any other works fine."

    There is still a ways to go for practical use.

    Minteer said the team is working on ways to increase their biofuel cell's power density. Currently the team's battery can produce 2 milliwatts of power per effective square centimeter. The average cell phone requires 500 milliwatts to operate.

    But it does seem promising. At least the researchers involved think so.

    Akers is confident the team will have a working prototype in a year, and that the finished product will hit store shelves a year later.

    I'd like to offer a toast... ;)

    Posted in: Science · Technology

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  203. More info on OLED - "The future's bright--the future's OLED."

    jake on 2003.04.04 at 05:22 pm

    Kodak LS633Good 'ol Gizmodo provided a link to the Australian version of ZDNet. More importantly, to an article about OLEDs. Now that a couple products (Kodak Camera) are coming around we can finally see some of the benefits this technology has to offer.

    My favorite, besides the obvious less costly flat displays, is power consumption. I can't wait till they start mass producing these things. Too bad I have to.

    Posted in: Technology

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  204. Mac based spin offs

    brian on 2003.04.02 at 10:07 pm

    Two links of note today from the Mac world:

    From the more professional side, a man in Minnesota is going into business making Macs. He calls his the iBox.

    On the hacker side of things, wondering what to do with left-over external floppy drives? Well if you have Mac OS X, you can configure them in a RAID! This guy has. He also is working on one using Sony Memory Stick readers (same page, bottom).

    Posted in: Technology

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  205. The Rainforest Site

    brian on 2003.04.01 at 09:56 pm

    While visiting the Breast Cancer Site (see previous), I noticed it had a sister site, The Rainforest Site. Everyone has their pet cause, and mine is the environment. I was happy to see this, and I was proud to see the site was built with WebObjects.

    Posted in: Service Announcement · Technology

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  206. 50 Best Pocket-sized Gadgets for 2003

    jake on 2003.03.31 at 02:45 pm

    The Independent has a listing of the 50 best pocket gadgets. I only have one critique on this article. There are no pictures of anything. So you have to visit the web site of the maker and try and find the described product (which is even harder on some products, where there is no link, and impossible with others, when the product is not listed at all on the maker's web site.) Also, some of these products are specific to the UK, so finding them is difficult in general if you're looking at a web site for a global company.

    (from Gizmodo)

    Posted in: Technology

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  207. Assorted Tidbits

    brian on 2003.03.29 at 01:16 am

    The documentary film Revolution OS was released Friday on DVD.

    The maker self-financed the film and worked for years without a salary.

    In the spirit of open source, the DVD was released without CSS, the content scrambling system used on most commercial DVDs.

    In other news, a very long interview (discussion perhaps) on Daring Fireball with Brent Simmons, creator of NetNewsWire, and proprietor of Ranchero Software.

    Elsewhere, Soybo released an incredible piece of software that I cannot eloquently describe, but Steven Frank from Panic, Inc. can. But in short, it's a web interface to any program on your desktop machine, via web service. That's really quite phenomenal, if you think about it.

    Steven is also working on a project called green. Which means one day you may be able to have the quality of a five-year old, discontinued innovator of portable computing in your modern PDA, which has yet to surpass it. Don't believe me? Can your PDA do this?

    Posted in: Technology

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  208. More robot stuff

    jake on 2003.03.28 at 07:02 pm

    I noticed at I4U there is a Fujitsu humanoid robot. In the "research" stage he's not much to look at compared to Sony's and Honda's offerings...

    Also Wired is reporting that Sony is worried about how the heck their gonna get their cute little guy into your home. They still cost a lot and are based in entertainment. As opposed to Asimo, who helps around the house.

    Posted in: Technology

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  209. Batteries powered by alcohol

    jake on 2003.03.25 at 04:34 pm

    Over at Boing Boing I found an article that discusses ethanol fuel cells.

    ... Ethanol is abundant and cheap to make, relying on the well-established corn industry for its production. It is also far less volatile than hydrogen, which has seen a great deal of interest as a potential alternative fuel for automobiles.

    This could be a very nice alternative to the more popular methanol fuel cells.

    Minteer and her colleagues are focusing on small-scale applications, with the preliminary fuel cells being no bigger than five square centimeters about the size of a postage stamp. "We've tested probably 30 to 50 of the ethanol cells," Minteer says. They have successfully run their cells with vodka, gin, white wine and flat beer ("The fuel cell didn't like the carbonation," Minteer says).

    Posted in: Technology

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  210. Cell phones and fires

    jake on 2003.03.25 at 04:17 pm

    Thank God! I can still use my cell phone while filling up my gas tank. I get soooo bored standing around for those five minutes.

    Wired is reporting that the email that's been making the rounds for a while about cell phones causing bodily harm is an urban legend.

    "It is in fact an urban legend," Larson said. "We have not come across a legitimate news source that has reported that gasoline or gas fumes are being ignited by a mobile phone."

    I really enjoyed this statement. It just shows how little silly we can be when it comes to fear and understanding technology...

    "Likewise, the claim that a 'cellular-phone ringer uses more than 100 volts for excitation' is a curious artifact of the regular telephone era: Cellular phones don't have ringers. They produce audio tones that simulate the sound of a ringing telephone."

    found at Gizmodo

    Posted in: Technology · Service Announcement

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  211. Holoscreen for use in store windows.

    jake on 2003.03.24 at 04:22 pm

    An article from the Canadien branch of the Discovery Channel speaks of a screen used to display an image from a projector.

    A projector inside the store projects an image from a DVD player onto a mirror, which then reflects onto the piece of glass in the storefront window.

    But how does the picture "stick" to the glass? Well, there's a thin film glued to the back of the glass, which is six nanometers thick - that's about half as thick as a human hair. Embedded in this film are millions of tiny prisms. These prisms refract the light from the projector and send it outward for pedestrians on the street to see.

    A neat idea, but probably only will be implemented in high end shops. A Hugo Boss store is the placement from the article. Not exactly an everyday store.

    Posted in: Technology

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  212. Sony updates their humanoid robot.

    jake on 2003.03.24 at 02:38 pm

    Not to be outdone by Honda's Asimo. Sony will be unveiling a new version of their humanoid robot. It is called the SDR-4X II. It will be shown at Robodex 2003, this event takes place between April 3rd to April 6th.

    Japanese Press Release (Babelfish translation)

    Posted in: Technology

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  213. High tech nausea stopper

    jake on 2003.03.21 at 06:29 pm

    I think I'm ready to try Dueling Dragons again. has a review of a new way to combat motion sickness.

    Though the trip ends up being about as exciting as watching a fishbowl (we saw just one tail and endured four hours of chilly sea spray), I'm pleased to know I can go thrill-seeking without losing my lunch.

    Next stop: the Matterhorn.

    The product is called the Relief Band and can supposedly stop many times of nausea. I might have to get one of these someday if it really works. As I get older, I find myself more susceptible to motion sickness. Guess that's what I get for making fun of my mom for all those years about her weak stomach. It is a bit expensive to buy on a whim.

    Posted in: Technology · Medicine

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  214. Amtrak + WiFi

    brian on 2003.03.21 at 03:48 pm

    I suppose you'd have to consider me a geek. Today, I wrote Amtrak south to Connecticut. What was my first thought after I sat down in my seat? Well, to "war-train" of course. What the hell is that? Simple. If "war-driving" is using a stumbling device to find WiFi hotspots while driving, then I would do the same with my iBook and "MacStumbler." So far, I've found a number of networks. Unfortunately, the train moves much too fast to actually use any of them (if it didn't, I'd never get to Connecticut). There were rumors about Amtrak adopting WiFi somehow, as a service to their passengers, but I can confirm that that service is not yet available

    I can confirm, however, that way too many people don't creatively name their access point. My log is full of "linksys" and "default." Tis all for now from the rail. (PS- I actually posted this from X. It's not like I posted it from the rail, per se. Though, I did actually type it there.) (PPS- If I had a cell provider that offered GPRS data service, I could have had internet connectivity via that and a bluetooth phone. Unfortunately, my provider is way too slow to catch on, and I'm stuck in a contract.)

    Posted in: Technology

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  215. 3D Game Boy Advance Engines

    jake on 2003.03.20 at 07:40 pm

    What crazy things will they think up next?!? I read over at that there are a couple engines that can push 3D on the GBA.

    Posted in: Technology

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  216. Apple Welcomes Gore

    brian on 2003.03.19 at 11:57 pm

    I would like to take a moment to welcome the newest member of Apple's Board of Directors, Fmr. Vice President of the United States, Mr. Albert Gore. MacCentral has more. Perhaps this will lead to more government contracts?

    Posted in: Technology · Politics

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  217. MySQL making money

    brian on 2003.03.16 at 11:51 pm

    Perhaps you knew that MySQL is a free, open source database. But did you know that it is made by a Swedish, for-profit company? Interesting, yes, but how's this: they're making money off of it, too. CNN has a story on how their free product is both a) taking market share from the big boys, and b) making the company profitable. Like the TIAA-CREF billboards say in Boston, "Money isn't evil. It just needs proper guidance." FYI, MySQL guides this very weblog.

    Posted in: Technology · Software

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  218. Sub-Urban Renewal

    jake on 2003.03.14 at 07:10 pm

    Wired has posted some of the stories from their April issue. "Sub-Urban Renewal" discusses using the huge tracks of land below the surface. Many different points are touched on in the article.

    Among the first wave of tunneling projects under way are subway extensions, highway re-siting projects, and petrochemical repositories. These will pave the way to further standardization and automation needed for transnational, Chunnel-type digs. The East - which has never been shy about big engineering - will likely plow down first, linking Japan and Korea, China and Japan, and Taiwan and China. The West might follow by tunneling under the Gibraltar and Bering straits.

    The last stop on this train is the ultimate TBM megaproject: a supersonic world subway. Maglev trains running through depressurized tunnels are the logical successor to airplanes, at least between large cities. Magnetic levitation would eliminate rolling resistance, and the vacuum does the same to air resistance. The trains could "fly" down the tracks at many times the speed of the Concorde - without creating a sonic boom. In a couple of decades, we may see a world where major international cities are within a few hours' commute of each other.

    I don't know that I would enjoy living underground. But something like a mall, or a stadium could be nice to visit. And underground travel like referenced above would be an interesting alternative to flying.

    Wired Magazine

    Posted in: Technology

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  219. Wi-Fi Memory Stick

    jake on 2003.03.13 at 07:27 pm

    I really have no personal use for this technology. But that doesn't mean that it's not a nifty application of technology. brighthand has a post about a new Wi-Fi card that fits into the memory slot on certain incarnations of Sony PDA's.

    Sony Wi-Fi Memory Stick

    Posted in: Technology

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  220. Local Free WiFi in Wired News

    brian on 2003.03.12 at 05:09 pm

    Wired News is reporting on a local Free WiFi project here in Boston, namely the Newbury Open Net. NON is run by Tech Superpowers, a local Apple Specialist and all-around cool tech outfit.

    Additionally, that lead me back to the NON site, which I hadn't visited in a while, where I had found they added a bulletin board for WiFi info. Worth the trip.

    Posted in: Technology

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  221. Links for today

    brian on 2003.03.11 at 08:07 pm

    Sony CEO on Apple:

    We have the exact type of guy like Steve within Sony. His name is Ken Kutaragi. They respect each other. So maybe if we can get them both together then they could figure out how the PlayStation and the Mac can work together.


    X v XP for the creative pro. Seems pretty balanced. The lone forum post I read was a throwback to the "evanglelist" days of system flamewars which have mostly fanned out. Of course, it's hard to dispute the facts.

    Posted in: Technology · Software

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  222. Twins develop 3D face scan

    jake on 2003.03.11 at 07:36 pm

    Israeli twins Michael and Alex Bronstein have developed a three-dimensional scanning system that can even tell the difference between them.

    The technology scans and maps the human face as a three-dimensional surface, providing a far more accurate reference for identifying a person than current systems, most of which rely on two-dimensional images, Kimmel said.

    This has applications relevent to security at airports and the like. But it can still be fooled by things like shaving or growing a beard. Perhaps if it is looking for someone in particular, they could lower the variables for a match. Bring a close match off for questioning, and further examination.

    Wired News

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  223. Wide spread WiFi

    brian on 2003.03.06 at 11:24 pm

    Yeah, I post a lot on WiFi. I like WiFi. Anyhow, here's a very interesting overview of the "WiFi market" as it is shaping up in public spaces like coffee shops, airports and hotels. The pricing structure still irks me, although I myself have not really figured out a better alternative.

    Posted in: Technology

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  224. Just what we need... a hybrid SUV.

    jake on 2003.03.06 at 06:52 pm

    Ford has decided to sell a hybrid Escape. I despise SUV's, and the current snow storm is a testament to why they're bad. People who drive them do not respect others. They also believe that their four-wheel drive gives them a license to speed in bad conditions. They promptly spin out and cause accidents.

    At least this will reduce emissions, but I still don't like it. ;)


    Posted in: Technology

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  225. I've heard of a TV in the bathroom, but this is ridiculous.

    jake on 2003.03.06 at 06:46 pm

    I noticed over at Gizmodo a nice little jacuzzi. Called La Scala it sports a media center. Personally I've been avoiding technology to an extent at home. But if I can get one of these in my apt I might actually use it.

    Posted in: Technology · Design · Hardware

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  226. Interesting chip going into the PS3.

    jake on 2003.03.06 at 03:57 pm

    I have to excuse myself to start this post off. I am not a specialist at things like this. I understand it to be difficult, and I recognize the statements made over at that this is just marketing hype.

    But to bluntly put it, if Sony can pull off even half of this hyped up promise it'll be an amazing jump in technology. Although it could just be my affinity for modular things that makes me interested.

    With the PS 3, Sony will apparently put 72 processors on a single chip: eight PowerPC microprocessors, each of which controls eight auxiliary processors.

    Using sophisticated software to manage the workload, the PowerPC processors will divide complicated problems into smaller tasks and tap as many of the auxiliary processors as necessary to tackle them.

    Mercury News

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  227. Lake methane could power entire nation

    jake on 2003.03.04 at 04:32 pm


    Lake Kivu produces three seperate gasses, including methane. It is hoped that this high gas content can be tapped and provide electricity for most of Rwanda. This would also limit tree killing.

    The gas reserve should be enough to supply the country's electricity needs for 400 years. Using it will mean far less logging since Rwanda currently gets 90 per cent of its energy from wood burning. And tapping the gas will reduce the risk of a massive gas explosion killing people who live near the lake.

    New Scientist

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  228. FSO What?

    brian on 2003.03.04 at 01:27 am

    FSO is an interesting alternative to radio-frequency wireless connections. Wired, ironically, has the story. Several companies are playing with modulated visible-spectrum light as an medium for the broadband transmission of data. Some links are over a mile long (line-of-sight, of course) and have throughput of a Gigabit per second. A company in New Zealand has demonstrated what's believed to be the first live broadcast of high-quality television images over visible light spectrum.

    Whether or not you'll be trading in WiFi for FSOptics anytime soon is yet to be seen (OK, highly unlikely), but competition and choice are key getting quality product in the market place. But the best part about this new technology?

    "There is no stray radiation here... We can send more data and you can put your hand right in front of it."

    In other related news, an interesting story about (RF-based) WiFi with regards to the First Amendment, community networks and on Native American Reservations, where government spectrum allocation and telco greediness don't hinder its progress.

    Posted in: Technology

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  229. Moore's Law

    jake on 2003.02.21 at 01:06 pm

    c'mon media, it's not that complicated...

    So over the years I've noticed something with the media. They dumb down everything. This includes especially technology. Well at Blue's News this morning I was pointed to an article at Ars Technica that explains and elaborates on the missconception that Moore's Law involves processor power, ie. MHz/GHz.

    "The number of transistors per chip that yields the minimum cost per transistor has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year."

    The article explains how Moore's Law is multifaceted, and in basic terms discussed transistor quantity and chip cost. If you're interested in getting a firmer grasp on these concepts I suggest you head on over and read this article.

    Ars Technica

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  230. When Starfire is not Starfire

    brian on 2003.02.13 at 02:54 am

    "This is the blurriest picture we've ever taken of anything, and this is the one that makes the front page of the newspapers," Johnson said.

    So how did the scientists working with the USAF's most advanced optics, which can reportedly spy on spy satellites and track ballistic missiles, come up with a fuzzy picture of a much closer object?

    Starfire Optical Range engineers... had rigged up a device using a commercially available 3 1/2-inch telescope and an 11-year-old Macintosh computer

    In an interview with the AP, the scientists wanted to set the record straight.

    "We were not asked by NASA to do this," said Robert Fugate, the optical range's technical director. "There was no official project or tasking to do this. The people who work here are geeks. This was an opportunity to look at a rapidly moving object and try to take a picture of it. That's really all it was."

    Posted in: Technology · Photography

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  231. In depth Columbia analysis

    brian on 2003.02.08 at 02:00 pm

    I won't go into details here, but if you're looking for an actual play-by-play told by telemetry and the USAF's high-definition tracking camera/telescope check out the article at Aviation Week and Space Technology. Since this is an industry magazine, you're going to get a much more in-depth write up than the fluff you'll find elesewhere.
    You can also get links and a quick summary about the USAF's optics at Kuro5hin.

    Posted in: Technology

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  232. Sony shows off mini file server.

    jake on 2003.02.07 at 12:10 pm

    kinda like an iPod, only a server.

    What a busy morning it seems to be. I actually might have two successive posts. How weird is that.

    Sony is showing off a new product on their Japanese web site. Called the FSV-PGX1, it's a wireless file server. And it's very small. It runs Linux and can support around 250 useres at once. It enables basic file sharing, and anyone in the vicinity can load up music from it.

    This sounds like a pretty nifty idea. I'd love to have something do this in my apt. I just set up a wireless network recently, and although file sharing isn't 100%, this would make me work on it, hopefully keeping security up.

    Here's a link to the Japanese website, pushed through Altavista's Babelfish translator. FSV-PGX1

    Posted in: Technology · Hardware

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  233. A Typical Situation

    brian on 2003.02.07 at 02:48 am

    or a S-W-I-T-C-H-E-R-

    Perhaps you are wondering what types of things Jake and I, as former college roommates, send each other via email on a daily basis. Well, you probably aren't. But let's pretend you do. So here's a typical email "conversation."

    Brian: "So I got pointed to this guy's switcher tale. It's really long. It starts with some drawn out tale about getting old and fat. If you want to ingest the whole thing, turn to"
    Jake: "holy s***, that would be a switch ad longer than Braveheart woah!...."

    We're still waiting for Jake to write his own tale...

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  234. 12" PowerBooks, in person

    brian on 2003.01.24 at 03:55 pm

    We finally got our 12" PowerBooks. They're awesome. Some thoughts:

    • Feels solid, as if cut from a chunk of aluminum.
    • Details abound. Sleep light placed on the lid latch. New speaker placement on the back reflects (louder, higher-quality) sound off the screen at the user. There's now a third, mid-range speaker inside. When the lid is down, sound can shoot sound straight out. We compared, the 12" seems both louder and clearer than the current 15" PowerBook. You won't throw a party with any PB (sans external speakers), but it's a notable improvement.
    • New RAM and AirPort(extreme) card placement. Neither no longer reside beneath the keyboard. This does a couple things: some hard typists thought the previous keyboards were a little squishy. I didn't. The AirPort(X) card now lives inside the battery bay. RAM (that snappy DDR, 640mb max) has its own little door on the bottom, next to the battery.
    • Video: The Nvidia GeForce 420Go video card is snappy, while only using 32mb of DDR video RAM. Windows fly across the screen.
    • Resolution: many think 1024x768 is not high enough resolution. I think on a 12.1" screen, any higher res would lead to squinting by all but the youngest of eyes. A compact laptop isn't about screen real estate.
    • Finish:New anodized finish seems tough, and feels nice. The track-pad has a different texture now, almost abrasive. Some of the guys really liked it, I'm indifferent. Mouse button is raised slightly higher than on the similarly shaped 12" iBook. Keyboard (which I believe is plastic painted metallic to match perfectly) keys are shaped differently than previous PBs and iBooks, much more shapely and angular.
    • Is it hot you're asking? Well, I think some people are overly sensitive to laptop heat. Never the less: it's warmer than my indigo iBook, but after a day of being used non-stop, I stuck my hand beneath and was not burned, or even close. You can definitely use this on your lap. If you're bothered, buy a pad.

    That's all. if you haven't seen the new Big and Small TV spot, go see it now. Vern Troyer meets Yao Ming, big and small yuks...

    Lastly, wanted: a cool nickname for the 12" Suggestions?

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  235. OLED Monitor on show, thoughts...

    jake on 2003.01.24 at 02:17 pm

    A new and emerging technology is OLED displays. So far they are still in development stages but they are starting to emerge as the screen tech of choice in handheld devices. I'm not positive when they will actually be on the market.

    Sharp had a prototype of a 12" screen at CES recently. The guys over at PocketPC Thoughts had a friend at CES who took a couple pictures of the unit and posted them. The thing is amazing, less than an inch thick.

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  236. Joel Knows

    brian on 2003.01.16 at 07:39 pm

    Joel Spolsky knows what makes a good software company. I think a lot of what he mentions in these outakes make sense for any company designing websites or software. He outlines a job description that sounds literally written for me: A Program Manager:

    A program manager also needs to coordinate marketing, documentation, testing, localization, and all the other annoying details that programmers shouldn't spend time on.

    Program managers are invaluable. If you've ever complained about how programmers are more concerned with technical elegance than with marketability, you need a program manager. If you've ever complained about how people who can write good code never do a good job of writing good English, you need a program manager. If you've ever complained about how your product seems to drift without any clear direction, you need a program manager.

    Rule 1. Don't promote a coder to be a program manager. The skills for being a good program manager (writing clear English, diplomacy, market awareness, user empathy, and good UI design) are very rarely the skills for being a good coder. Sure, some people can do both, but they are rare.

    Program managers study UI, meet customers, and write specs. They need to get along with a wide variety of people -- from "moron" customers, to irritating hermit programmers who come to work in Star Trek uniforms, to pompous sales guys in $2000 suits. In some ways, program managers are the glue of software teams. Charisma is crucial.

    This he talks about in a piece about writing Specs. (These snippets are from Part 3 Here's the link to Part 1) Lastly, if Joel was hiring in Boston, and he interviewed me along the lines to this story on how to interview, I would pass with flying colors. It's unfortunate that Joel's company (based in NYC) writes software only for Windows.

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  237. The Next Photography Revolution

    jake on 2003.01.09 at 06:47 pm

    I wish there were more of these...

    Well, in the wonderful world of digital photography there has been new technology looming on the horizon for a while now. It's a new sensor called the X3. It comes from a company called Foveon Inc.

    The X3 uses the properties of light waves to extract three colors. RGB. The technology used today pulls one color and then fudges the rest of the data. The X3 increases image quality immensly.

    This article discusses some of the technology and its creators. Headed by the "simple ideas" of Carver Mead.

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  238. Today

    brian on 2003.01.08 at 05:56 pm

    and commentary

    We all know there are lots of cool things I could be linking to from Apple's Keynote announcements from yesterday. But, today I'll focus on other good things.

    • Wireless Commons: Along the lines of Creative Commons Looks to establish interconnected Wireless nets that are free and accessible to everyone. I'm very much in support of this.
    • Pehaps I'll link more later?

    This post posted with Safari beta. That's great because it has spellchecking built right into text fields! [Too bad it doesn't yet display this blog correctly, but the bug has been reported! If you've come to check compatibility Safari team, welcome!]

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  239. Keynote not to miss!

    brian on 2003.01.07 at 02:12 am

    Don't miss the MacWorld San Francisco Keynote address January 7th, 9am PST (12pm EST) by Steve Jobs! Point your web browser to Apple's QuickTime website and check it out.

    I'll be at work watching the satellite feed of the keynote.

    Slow internet connection? Don't live near an Apple Store? Try your local university! (More.) (And even more late additions)

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  240. (Un)Wiring Laos

    brian on 2003.01.03 at 02:44 am

    This is the incredible story of Lee Felsenstein one of the founders of the HomeBrew Computer Club, which basically led to The founding of Silicon Valley and such heavies as Apple Computer (Lee actually introduced Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs). Anyhow, Lee has basically designed a rugged computer system, powered by Linux (localized into the Lao language) and a bicycle (seriously!), that would allow rural farming communities in Laos to communicate wirelessly (WiFi) with each other and the market where they sell their crop. Here's his story. Here's his story told by another. You see, he needs funding to get it put into place. He'd normally get the funding through grants, but they won't come through until during Laos' monsoon/typhoon season, greatly delaying their deployment. If you can donate, click here, and do so through the Jhai Foundation's site. And of course, spread the word!

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  241. Download of the Day

    brian on 2002.12.29 at 12:18 am

    If Apple themselves ported Tetris to Mac OS X, it might, might look as good as Quinn 1.1, by Simon Haertel. For OS X only

    Oh, I forgot: it's free and only a 532 Kb download. Score.

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  242. Blog worthy

    brian on 2002.12.27 at 01:51 am

    from the past week or so

    Tech link of note: NetNewsWire(Pro) Beta now available. This is the pay version being developed from what may be the best XML news reader on any platform, NetNewsWire Lite, but both will only work on Mac OS X 10.2.

    Non tech quick links:

    "Bill of Rights Pared Down to a Manageable Six," from the Onion.

    National Do Not Call List.
    You won't see many links to MSNBC from me, as I don't much care for them.

    Cities thumb nose at Ashcroft. As do I.

    Tax Shift. Different people will interpret this article different ways.

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  243. Google Labs

    jake on 2002.12.13 at 11:34 am

    Where do they come up with this stuff?

    Google has launched 3 more demo style sites with different purposes and interesting abilities...

    • Froogle: Froogle basically uses Google's large repository of sifted web sites to give you product and pricing information from around the web.
    • Google WebQuotes: Another use of the repository... Use cross references to give feedback on listing of web sites.
    • Google Viewer: This uses a simple interface to create a slide show of results returned. It actually displays the page for a specified duration.

    These are all very interesting developments. I wonder what stuff they'll think up next.

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  244. Today's reading

    brian on 2002.12.12 at 12:15 am

    Wired's Mac coverage has hit new lows in the past weeks, with a 5 part series investigating the allure of the Macintosh, and the loyalty of its fans. The one thing they forget to check out: the machines. On behalf of Mac users eveywhere, may I thank you for dismissing us as cooks and cultists. John Gruber had something to say about it. I say "go John." Who's the dopes? You (restart the modern XP once every few days, bitch about the maker of your OS incessantly) or Us (up time of months, discounting restarts for updates to the core system, don't hate its maker)? I hope to not make bitching about anit-Mac people a regular topic on this blog, my apologies.

    Posted in: Technology

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  245. Slick Lizard Monsters and other cool stuff

    brian on 2002.12.11 at 06:01 pm

    If you're not using Mozilla 1.2.1 with the Pinstripe theme you're not getting the best web browsing experience that money can (but is unnecessary to) buy.

    In other news, tis the season. If you've stopped by the Apple Store perhaps you noticed the 17" iMac in the snow globe with a very cool falling snow motif on screen. Well 411 is that the motif is a full screen QuickTime movie, not a screen saver. So what if you want that winter mood on your Mac at home school or work? Our friends on the internet have solved our needs. Want a screen saver? Check out SnowSaver written with OpenGL. Sweet. Want to run it as your desktop picture? Well first you better have a Mac that can run Quartz Extreme in Mac OS X 10.2 (aka Jaguar). Then download BackLite and let-her-rip. Cool, eh? Want more? Perhaps snow that falls on your desktop, even over top your applications? Then check out Sn. You can even set the wind speed. Cool.

    Lastly, for users of any platform that can run TrueType, you have to pick up Anonymous, the finest, free-est monotype font I've seen. So much better than Monaco or Andale Mono. Know of a better one? Comment

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  246. My First Day at Apple

    brian on 2002.11.28 at 09:55 pm

    whistle while you work

    Today was my first day working for Apple, my computing heros. I will login later tonight and report how my day went.

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  247. Classes have begun...

    jake on 2002.10.22 at 01:48 pm

    of the php variety

    Well after a long hiatus I have been enjoying working on this site some more. I have some other things to try and finish up, so right now I can't work on it 100%. But what else is new.

    Hopefully in the future we'll have everything all set up, and we can blog to our hearts content...

    Posted in: Technology · Cool Info

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  248. Moxi Home Entertainment Tech

    brian on 2002.01.10 at 02:42 pm

    Straight from my head

    Quite frankly, the Moxi Media Center is a box straight outta my head. Actually, it’s like someone hijacked my idea (a box with DVD and PVR [ie TiVo] and a way to interface to your home computer) and did it three times better. That is, they added wireless (802.11), firewire (ieee1394), cable/dsl router, cable/satellite reciever, 80gig HD, digital media play back, on screen interface, email, IM, all based on a custom Linux build. But perhaps the coolest thing is that there are remote stations, with remote controls that allows four other simultaneous users throughout the house to use the MMC as if only they were using it, without restriction (except only one TV can watch a DVD, due to licensing issues). I want one, very, very much.

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  249. Linux for you on a PDA

    jake on 2001.11.30 at 12:25 pm

    Um, interface with OS X, please?

    Sharp's Linux powered PDA

    Oh, very sweet. Beyond just a sweet idea, the PDA has a slide-out cover which hides a very cool thumb keyboard, not unlike on the Blackberry. Now, since it's Linux (and only availible to developers currently, for $399) we can only hope a Cocoa developer will make an interface for us OS X heads. If this lives up to the potential, I'd consider saying "Bye-bye Visor."

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