September 27, 2006
I have a fondness for green. It feels different than reds and blues. It can be bright green or it can get more earthy. I like green, but I'm not a green freak who drives a green car, paints his bedroom three shades of green, or has an assortment of Green Bay Packers jerseys in his closet--uh nix that last part. What set me off was Sony's Vaio C series of notebook computers. I'm digging the "spring green" or "natural green" for those European readers.
The computer is slim and small with a 13.3 inch screen. I've been drooling over Dell's Inspirion 710m for a while. I could get a mighty mobile weblogging machine in a spiffy color... IF I had $1350 bucks lying around. Anyone want to make a donation to the TAM Spring Green Notebook fund? Someone? Anyone? Bueler? Someone leave at tip anyway. It's been so long I've forgotten to forget to say thank you to generous folk.
"Sony's Vaio C Series of 13.3-Inchers"
September 26, 2006
Intel Shows off 80 Core Prototype
Moore's Law continues. Instead of the number of transistors doubling on microchips every one to two years Intel looks to double the number of microprocessors periodically:
But the ultimate goal, as envisioned by Intel's terascale research prototype, is to enable a trillion floating-point operations per second--a teraflop--on a single chip. Ten years ago, the ASCI Red supercomputer at Sandia National Laboratories became the first supercomputer to deliver 1 teraflop using 4,510 computing nodes.
At this rate a Matrix-style shunt into the back of one's brain isn't too far off. And to pick another movie metaphor, will these powerful computers become sentient and strike back at their human "oppressors?"
"Intel Pledges 80 Cores in Five Years"
September 05, 2006
TiVo's Secret Origin
Who knew TiVo was alien technology? This "secret" government film tells us the truth. Too bad there's no word on if TiVo had anything to do with the JFK assassination, the sinking of the Maine, or Gary Coleman's fall from A-list celebrity status.
August 07, 2006
Web: Raging Teenager
Yesterday, 08.06, the World Wide Web turned 15. I don't know what I'd be doing without it.
"Happy 15th Birthday, WWW!"
July 31, 2006
Snag that Portable Music Player
Today's Woot is one sweet deal. It's a SanDisk digital audio player with 256 MB of memory. It's nice to pop in a few songs or podcasts to take with you on the go. But the real value is its built-in microphone. For webloggers you can take it with you to interview people, make on-the-go podcasts, or just to make audio notes for yourself. That it's $20 with shipping makes it a steal. I have a similar iRiver device that only has 125 MB of memory--more than enough for a recorder--and it cost me $60 six months ago.
July 19, 2006
Calacanis Will Pay You to Post
It could be a sign of a new net bubble, but Jason Calacanis wants to hire top users from social networking sites like diggs and Flickr to post stories on Netscape. That's a job less intensive and time consuming than weblogging.
July 14, 2006
Charter Crimps My Style
Charter is a mediocre ISP. It was down again last night, thus no Charlie's Show Prep. Since I'm out in the hinterlands with no DSL available my broadband options are limited.
June 02, 2006
The Good and Bad of Progress
Glenn Reynolds has written a whole book on how technology and markets have empowered an "Army of Davids." There is a downside to this progress which Glenn acknowledges: the improvements can be for both good and bad. The knowledge and ability to synthesize makes life-saving drugs possible it also allows someone to collect enough ricin in a shed to kill scores. Don't be surprised one day to read a story about someone producing weapons-grade uranium in their basement.
"FBI to Search House After Finding Ricin"
UPDATE: Texas governor Rick Perry wants an "army of eyeballs" scanning the U.S.-Mexican border:
The plan will allow web users worldwide to watch Texas' border with Mexico and phone the authorities if they spot any apparently illegal crossings.
Call it the 101st Pajama Division of the Minutemen Project.
May 16, 2006
Apple's New MacBook
Apple's new MacBook.
A 13.3 inch screen, Intel Core Duo, and Apple industrial design. This is my next notebook. Now, I just need to find some cash. If any Apple-loving TAM readers want to help me make the "switch" drop some coin into my tip jars on the left.
May 09, 2006
My internet connection seems to be working fine now. I don't know what happened. Usually when I have connection problems I unplug the cable modem and plug it back in. If that doesn't work I do a combination of unplugging and plugging the modem and restarting the computer. That didn't work this afternoon. But tonight I just mess with the modem and *POOF!* I'm back online.
Don't worry, I didn't break into hives or start shaking because I couldn't instantly google something. This outage reminded me I can read quite a few pages in a book when I'm not staring at a computer screen.
The lack of posts isn't because I've given up weblogging and ran off with the circus. For some reason my cable modem and/or cable company (Charter again) aren't liking me. I hope to be up and running as soon as possible.
May 08, 2006
Nintendo Goes Contrarian with Wii
One mantra of modern business management is "Listen to your customers." Nintendo didn't do that with Wii their new video game console:
The hard-core gaming community is extremely vocal--they blog a lot--but if Nintendo kept listening to them, hard-core gamers would be the only audience it ever had. "[Wii] was unimaginable for them," Iwata says. "And because it was unimaginable, they could not say that they wanted it. If you are simply listening to requests from the customer, you can satisfy their needs, but you can never surprise them. Sony and Microsoft make daily-necessity kinds of things. They have to listen to the needs of the customers and try to comply with their requests. That kind of approach has been deeply ingrained in their minds."
Sometimes good business is making something customers didn't even know they wanted. "Wii" will see if Nintendo pulls it off with Wii.
In Defense of Algebra
One would think a defense of learning algebra wasn't needed, but Kenneth Silber feels compelled since he points out a few pundits have bashed the branch of mathematics. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen told a high school dropout, "You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it." I'm sure that's just what employers want to hear. Instead of finding workers who can employ algebra's analytic reasoning Cohen blows it off by leaving all that number stuff to the "computer or a calculator."
Here's a semi-important real-world application: look at a sales receipt and determine the sales tax rate. (I'll leave finding the formula as an exercise for the reader.) You would then know if the store was using the correct rate. You say, "Big deal"? Knowing how much the state takes out of your wallet is good citizenship.
There are plenty of on-the-job examples involving production yields or rates or some other unknown quantity needing to be discovered. Training manuals can only take you so far. Sometimes a problem arises that goes beyond any training or formula in a book. That's when a pencil, a piece of paper, and some high school algebra can do wonders. For Cohen sitting in his office bloviating on the latest Washington happenings that never happens.
Like any technology algebra (and mathematics in general) has its place. As an Austrian economics sympathizer heavily influenced by Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek I understand running an entire economy using mathematical models is a hopeless cause. The Soviets' attempt at that led to decades of suffering. Yet without abstract mathematics like algebra our control over physical forces would be quite limited.
It would take a lot of Cohen's literary reasoning to develop the technology needed to make the tools he uses to tap out his columns. Thankfully we have algebra and more advanced mathematics to help design the logic that runs computers and organize the flow of good and services. Cohen's admitted ignorance gives him no right to bash a foundation of the modern world. Instead he should be downright thankful someone learned their algebra in high school.
"Algebra and Its Enemies"
April 30, 2006
Net Neutrality Video
If you haven't heard the term "net neutrality" you soon will. It's a complicated issue involving property rights, economic incentives, and good customer internet experiences. Public Knowledge created a video to help understand the issue. I haven't decided where I stand yet, but the video explains part of the issue.
April 27, 2006
Wii Are the World
Maybe I'm just getting too old for video games but Nintendo picked a stupid name by calling their next game console "Wii" (pronounced "we"). Huh? The just named their next great hope in the video game wars after a mispelled French word. Ok everyone, being thinking up some urine jokes. Or think of something about "this little pigging going wii wii wii all the way home." Can you beat Joystiq's offerings?
"Nintendo Dubs New Video Game Console Wii"
February 26, 2006
Somebody Better Check Their Bot
Adding this humble weblog to this list of "The Best Global Sites XXX" will help my traffic but not do a thing for those in need of a little carnal stimulation.
February 24, 2006
BlackBerry Addicts Safe for Now
A judge hasn't forced RIM to shut down its BlackBerry service yet. Darn, I wanted to see what effects it would have on crackberry addicts. I'm envisioning shortness of breath, indigestion, headaches, nausea, and a wave of Treo and Sidekick thefts.
"Judge Declines to Shut Down BlackBerry"
February 20, 2006
Eight is Enough
Because of legal struggles and the loud, consistent outcry that users don't have enough choice in their operating systems Microsoft will release eight different versions of Windows Vista.
Victor Agreda, Jr. at Download Squad writes,
It is true that Windows offers choice for the consumer. You aren't locked into a music player like iTunes, and you now have 8 flavors of Vista goodness to choose from. But perhaps there is a such a thing as too much choice?
I thought "choice" was inherently good. The more choice the better. That's why the ultra-configurable Linux is crushing all opponents in the OS market.
Oh, wait. It isn't.
That's because "choice" in and of itself isn't what many computer users want in an OS. What users want is software that lets them do what they want to do as easily as possible. When looking at the combination of interoperablilty and ease of use Windows wins for many people. It's not perfect, and for many uses it's quite inferior, but it gets the job done for millions.
What Microsoft did with Windows was put together a software package that offered a lot of compatibility and features. More importantly they built a platform for third-parties to write software.
All the talk about Microsoft being an evil monopolists was fluff anyway. No one, not Bill Gates or Steve Balmer put a gun to anyone's head and made them use Windows. It was mainly griping from fallen competitors and users who crave the Platonic ideal of operating systems.
With Apple revitalized and drawing excitement with their Intel-powered computers (I'm waiting for $1000 iBook) and Linux geeks continuing to make that OS more user friendly we have a thriving, innovative OS market.
"The 8 Faces of Windows Vista"
February 18, 2006
A $600-700 PlayStation 3 is dead on arrival. If that's Sony's starting price kiss their video game console kingdom goodbye. About the only way I'd consider forking over that much money for a game machine is if there was a way to shunt it directly into my brain. If you own Sony shares sell, sell, sell then sell short.
February 04, 2006
Google would be one of the few work places where someone could photograph their meals and not get any strange looks.
February 03, 2006
"Microsoft-Powered Fiats to Debut in Geneva"
January 21, 2006
Feeding My Habit
The info hose has been turned back on. After a long time ignoring RSS feeds because I got bored with SharpReader I'm now playing with Bloglines (after a 1 1/2 year hiatus) and Omea Reader. A positive with Bloglines is it's portable. Anywhere I can use a web browser I can check on my feeds. Omea Reader is a stand-alone program, but it's fast. Once a feed has been updated I can instantly read it. Both kinds of newsreaders have their place, and with both accepting OPML files I can have both sets of feeds synched. We'll see if I start preferring one over the other in daily use. I wouldn't be surprised if Bloglines wins out. Ever since I started using Furl for saving web pages I don't bookmark anything with the browser.
January 10, 2006
My dream of an Intel-powered Apple notebook under $1000 will have to wait. Plunking down $1999 is not how I want to start playing with OSX. Plus they had to dump the "PowerBook" name. MacBook Pro is too clunky-sounding.
"Apple's MacBook Pro"
January 05, 2006
Website Makes Phone Calls
This site is cool in a pretty pointless way.
December 27, 2005
Not So Hip
It's bad enough to not watch Battlestar Galactica, the best show of 2005 (good choice), but Glenn Reynolds doesn't even own a TiVo. His geek cred has dropped significantly.
December 19, 2005
Money Making Opportunity
People in the U.S. really, really want an Xbox 360. Some want it so much they are shelling out $600 on eBay for these machines. Yet they're plentiful in Japan and running for a little over $300 (35,000 yen). I smell an abitrage play. If only I could read Japanese to see how much Amazon.co.jp would gouge me for overnight shipping.
"Need to find an Xbox 360? Buy a ticket to Tokyo"
Somehow the House of Representitives thinks Americans have a God-given right to television. Thus, they want to spend $1.5 billion for converter boxes when TV goes all digital in 2009. I didn't know this was such a pressing issue. Heck, in four years most people's TV will be broken and replaced anyway. The Heritage Foundation's Andrew Grossman writes,
For most of the millions of Americans with analog sets, this switchover will mean “absolutely nothing”—85 percent of households have cable or satellite service and won’t even notice.
You'd almost think we weren't in the middle of a war.
"House Moves for All-Digital TV by 2009"
December 13, 2005
Xbox Insanity Soon to Return to Best Buy
If this information is accurate Best Buy will be selling more Xbox 360s on 12.18. Christmas shoppers plus gameboy nuts equals craziness. Best Buy employees have my pity.
December 08, 2005
If Microsoft faked Xbox 360 shortages now would be a good time flood them onto the market. Nobody has them. That rumor's dead.
December 02, 2005
Comic Books Coming to Life
Coming soon to real life: Iron Man!
The battle suit has been invented. Now, all we need is a billionaire with drinking problem to make it fly and paint it red and gold. None of this Tron-glow.
"The HAL-5 Ready to Battle"
November 29, 2005
A La Carte Cable
Instead of getting a set number of cable channels the FCC is about to urge cable companies to let consumers pick and choose what channels they want to pay for. Style, Nickelodeon, and Disney would immediately get the ax.
November 23, 2005
November 22, 2005
I Should Have Stood in Line
Some fool paid $1700 on eBay for an Xbox 360.
[via Professor Bainbridge]
Standing in Line for an XBox 360
After closing the store last night I drove my two Best Buys to see how many crazies took on a cold Wisconsin November night just to be in line for an XBox 360. In Wauwatosa I saw 30-40 people at 11:00 pm all bundled up in coats. At the Menominee Falls store there were about 20. One smart person had their truck running so people could jump in to stay warm. Two guys were tossing a football around in the parking lot. At the Wal-Mart in West Bend I arrived at midnight to see if the maddness has begun. Everything was calm. All the store's consoles were already in lay-away. People arrived as early as 6:00 am Monday morning to wait for their gaming machine.
"Best Buy Opens Their Doors - Mayhem Starts"
November 21, 2005
Now We're Doomed
Imagine internet connectivity in everything: cars, stoves, clothes washers, even doorknobs. That's the future in a new ITU report:
Machines will overtake humans to become the biggest users of the Internet in a brave new world of electronic sensors, smart homes, and tags that track users’ movements and habits, the UN’s telecommunications agency predicted.
Now, let's ratchet up the paranoia by imagining all these things talking to Google.
All you tin foil hat-wearing Terminator fans invest in a big supply of tranquilizers and work on stocking that fallout shelter if you haven't started already.
"Wireless: Creating Internet of 'Things'"
UPDATE: The future is already upon us. Wifi-enabled mosquito-catching machine will soon be available:
The coming smart magnet system harkens back to the early days of networked PCs, [American Biophysics CEO Devin] Hosea said, when people came up with the idea of "LAN-tastic," for a local-area network or a ring of network connectivity.
The Google Internet
Robert Cringely spectulates on Google's big idea. Forget Google Base, G-Mail, or AdSense. That's all peripheral to something sitting in a parking garage:
There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn't just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We're talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.
This is scaring the beejezus out of the geeks at digg. The days of geeks' crush on the company are numbered.
November 17, 2005
Green and Yellow Laptop for Third World
Nicholas Negroponte unveiled the $100 laptop in Tunis. It's powered by a hand crank and has wireless capability.
It looks pretty cool. With 1 GB in flash memory (no hard drive) this should be a light machine to tote around. I'd pay $300 to get one for my mobile web surfing, e-mail, and weblogging needs. This has the potential of having lots of buzz on eBay and secondary markets. Negroponte sees this and wants to stop it:
"One of the things you want to do is make sure there's no secondary market," Negroponte said. He said one solution would be to make sure "the machine will be disabled if it doesn't log in to the network for a few days."
Hackers are already drooling at the challenge of finding way around Negroponte's technological road blocks.
Negroponte is missing an opportunity for rich Westerners to subsidize these machines. One way he will keep costs down is by taking orders in the millions to take advantage of economies of scale. What he could do is charge First Worlders $300 (or more) and use the profits to get more computers to Third Worlders. Interested people will find ways to get the green and yellow (is Negroponte a Packers fan?) laptops. By selling them to First Worlders Negroponte's One Laptop per Child organization would get the surplus instead of intermediaries.
Jamais Cascio wonders how useful this device will be for developing countries:
I have no doubt that the technology/price point is achievable, eventually. And certainly, for at least some of the students, a device like this will enhance learning and access to information. But whether this is a better solution than other solutions -- both technological and otherwise -- is a still-unanswered question. Books are less-costly and far less likely to be stolen, and community computers (akin to "Village Phones") would provide access with less risk of theft or misappropriation. They aren't even good models for the technologies that the students in the global south are likely to be using as adults: systems based on mobile phone-type architectures are already far more common, and can carry out many key economic tasks.
Thomas Barnett loves the idea: "They'll be surprised. We'll be surprised. The world will be a better place."
Raj Boora reminds us:
Of course you still need all the other infrastructure to get these machines online and more importantly an IT department that will accept and support them.
"$100 Laptop Expected in Late 2006"
November 12, 2005
Too Much Tech
The Beyond Smart Mill & Brew Coffee Maker may be a wonderful product. Combining a grinder with the brewer is a nice touch. The $49.99 Woot price is nice. But it has something called SANI Wireless Network Interface. You can hook up this coffee maker to the internet. Why? I don't know. What's it going to do, tell me there's a sale on Verona beans at my nearest Starbucks? Will it start complaining to me that I'm using the wrong kind of coffee filters? Technology is great. The internet is amazing. Can't live without it. But a wired coffee maker is a line I won't cross.
November 11, 2005
Last week, the news that Sony was putting digital right management software silently on people's computers marked a new low in companies trying to protect their content from pirates and free-loaders. They have lost the trust of many customers including me. The next time I consider buying a Sony CD I'll be looking at all the fine print to see if it says there's any DRM on it. Believing the packaging won't guarantee nothing bad will happen when I try to rip the songs to put them on my iPod. Sony's nafarious, potentially-crippling software demonstrates that.
The most vicious creature created by modern capitalism has now been unleashed upon Sony. Lawyers have filed suit in Italy. More are sure to sink their teeth into Sony's hide.
To say CNET's Molly Wood should get a grip is an understatement. With the vitriol she unleashed you'd think Islamists terrorists blew up her family. Molly, it's just music, computers, and gadgets. Sony's allowed to be total morons. If they want to implement highly-restrictive DRM that locks down their music too tightly so be it. What Sony can't be allowed to do is sneak a program unbeknownst to consumers.
Sony is in a whole heap of trouble when non-techies like Hugh Hewitt get bombarded with calls and e-mail on this story.
Today, after learning a cracker used Sony's root kit to put a virus on user's computers the company stopped making protected CDs. Once they find a different DRM method they'll start again. That I have no problem with. If Sony wants to make a lousy product it's their right. I'll choose not to buy what they're selling.
"DRM this, Sony!"
November 06, 2005
Yahoo + TiVo = Cool
Now, if you have a TiVo Series 2 box you can now program it through the web. Maybe I'll finally get around to upgrading.
October 30, 2005
Blast from the Past
This Digg post reminds me I have an Osbourne-1 sitting in my basement. Anyone want to make an offer?
"First Laptop Ever"
October 28, 2005
Go Old School
Target will be selling old-fashion (Yikes! I'm too young to write that) arcade cabinets.
Each unit plays 12 of the original arcade versions of the most popular Midway® games including: Defender®, Defender® II, Robotron®, Joust®, Bubbles®, Splat™, Sinistar®, Rampage®, Rootbeer Tapper™, Wizard of Wor™, Timber™, and Satan's Hollow™.
Damn it! I want Beer Tapper, not the prohibitionist version.
"Target to Begin Selling Stand-Up Arcades in November"
October 26, 2005
The Speculation Continues
An AP business writer thinks Google Base is an online classified ad service. The only people who know what it really is aren't saying much.
"Google Gives Peek at Classified Ad Service"
October 25, 2005
Free Web Database
Google is playing again. Google Base, a free, online database, will be announced at their Zeitgeist conference today.
Play, play, play. That's how the company seems to be coming up with new ideas. I wonder how management sorts through them to find the good stuff they think will help build profits?
UPDATE II: Google responds to the rumors:
You may have seen stories today reporting on a new product that we're testing, and speculating about our plans. Here's what's really going on. We are testing a new way for content owners to submit their content to Google, which we hope will complement existing methods such as our web crawl and Google Sitemaps. We think it's an exciting product, and we'll let you know when there's more news.
October 18, 2005
Furl's Not Sick Any More
Furl is working again. I have no idea what was wrong.
October 17, 2005
Furl hasn't been saving web pages for me for a few days. I hope it's just a server problem or some kind of upgrade. What I hope didn't happen is someone pulled the plug. For years I had been collecting web pages for posting to TAM in its own bookmark folder in my browser. That folder had gotten unwieldly. There are easily a few hundred bookmarks in there. It's daunting wading through them looking for that one item I'm inspired to post on at the moment. Another thing is these bookmarks are tied to a single computer. With Furl I can get to them when I'm posting from my desktop machine or when I'm out and about with my notebook. Plus, readers can subscribe to the RSS feed to see what's caught my eye but hasn't deserved a full-blown weblog post. I really need to get a link to that feed permanently on TAM. What I should also do is insert the feed into a sidebar.
October 13, 2005
Good Google News
Google announced Electronic Fund Transfer is out of beta. Those of you who try to make a few bucks off your websites by hosting Google ads can now have the cash put directly into your bank account.
For the rest of the world this news isn't as as big as Apple's news, this is more tangible news for me. (I'm happy with my "old" 20 GB iPod, thank you. And yes, I know EFT came out of beta last month. I just finally noticed the announcement when I checked my AdSense stats.
October 12, 2005
Apple's Big News
Apple is announcing new iPods that play video, iTunes will sell music videos and some TV shows, and some new iMacs. Engadget is covering it live.
"Live from the Steve Jobs Keynote — 'One more thing…'"
October 09, 2005
And the Winner Is...
Stanley, a Volkswagen built by a Stanford University team won the DARPA Grand Challenge.
"Stanford Team Clinches Top Spot in Robot Desert Race"
October 08, 2005
Grand Challenge Winner
This year's DARPA Grand Challenge actually had finishers.
Three modified driverless vehicles crossed the finish line and into the history books on Saturday after traversing 132 miles (210 kilometers) of desert terrain, guided only by laser sensors and onboard computers.
With the progress made in automated vehicles in just one year DARPA's Tony Tether thinks, "We could see [automated military] convoys deployed in as early as 5 years."
"Robot Vehicles Conquer U.S. Desert Terrain Race"
October 07, 2005
Winer Sells Weblogs.com
Winer gives us the reasons for his sale:
The bootstrap of weblogs.com is something a bigco should not attempt, it's hard to make it go, and most bootstraps don't, and it requires trust, something an individual is more likely able to inspire than a big company. On the other hand, running a serivce that other bigco's depend on (like Google, and Microsoft, to name two) is not something a person like myself should attempt. I think Verisign is the perfect company to do it. Their name servers, I hear, respond to 250,000 requests per second at peak loads. In comparison, weblogs.com's 1-2 million pings a day seems a drop in the bucket. Further, it will require great resources to tackle the ping-spam issue, and there Verisign's expertise, not just what's visible today, but what's coming down the road, will make all the difference. I was in no posiiton to do this on my own. And belive me, the Technorait's and PubSub's, even Feedster and Bloglines, weren't helping out very much. I belive they'll respect Verisign much more than they respected me. And this deal will free me up to work on new ideas around blogging, RSS, OPML, web services, podcasting, etc. I'm good at digging holes, I have to pass off to others to make the trains run on time when the service grows as big as weblogs.com has.
Me thinks Dave learned from his problems last year. Too he still doesn't know how to admit he can be wrong.
October 04, 2005
Being the info junkie I am there are far more stories, essays, and weblog posts I read daily than I comment on. To get some idea of what's catching my eye here's my Furl page along with a link to the RSS feed.
September 30, 2005
Milt Rosenberg of the smartest show on radio, Extention 720, is podcasting weekly highlights. Even with WGN's powerful signal it's sometimes hard to get the station up in the Milwaukee area. This is a smart move on the station's part.
September 20, 2005
Music Social Site
For a few weeks I've been playing with Audioscrobbler and Last.fm. The latter is a music social website that tracks what songs you've listen to and connects you to people with similar music tastes as well as discussion groups. The personal charts is a nice feature simply because it's taking your most-played list out of iTunes and showing it off to the world. Musical tastes says a lot about one's personality. Two problems with Last.fm:
It's a nice start for Last.fm. It's intrigued me enough to wait and see how they'll improve.
September 18, 2005
Nintendo's Lost Me
For the Revolution Nintendo is coming out with a controller with a split personality. It looks stupid. I don't like it. I'm not coordinated enough to use both my thumb on the analog stick and my fingers on the buttons simultaneously. If I wanted some split controller I'd stick with PC gaming.
"The Nintendo Revolution Controller — No, Really!"
September 08, 2005
Yesterday, Apple wowed us with the new iPod nano. It's smaller and thinner than the iPod mini (62% smaller according to the Engadget crew), has a color screen, and keeps the cool, minimalist iPod look. Apple shrank the sucker by replacing the hard drive with flash memory for storage. The thing won't skip. It's very cool. But it's going to destroy any reason to buy the iPod shuffle. The 2 GB nano sells for $199. The 1 GB shuffle goes for $129. Apple should slash the prices of the shuffle in half and make that their introductory music player. Kind of like free crack for the first-time user.
September 01, 2005
Just Like on TV
I need to lighten things up a tad today. This e-reader gave me a case of deja vu from the not-so-old sci-fi series Earth: Final Conflict. It was a pretty good show, but they never should have killed the main character, Boone, at the end of the first season.
August 29, 2005
Wi-Fi at the Fair
Wireless internet is no fad when rural Manitowoc County has wi-fi at their county fair. Kevin at Lakeshore Laments demonstrated it worked well at the local GOP booth.
August 24, 2005
Seeing stories on Google Talk in the NY Times and Wall Street Journal today convinced me this wasn't a rumor floating through the ether. So I installed it. Just one problem: I have no one to talk to. My IM is MS Messenger. And since my Gmail account is a secondary one I have no contacts to be used with Google Talk. It's really hard to see if I like this program when I have no friends on my list. If you have GT and want to add me to your friends list my Gmail address is sean--dot--hackbarth--at--gmail--dot--com.
P.S. If people need Gmail accounts I'll hook you up. Leave a comment or e-mail me at my primary address: sean--at--theamericanmind--dot--com.
UPDATE: The Time of London has a quick Q&A on Google Talk.
Michele needs people to play with it too.
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
August 17, 2005
Xbox 360 Prices
So Microsoft will sell two versions of the Xbox 360. For me the only difference I see is the $399 one will have a 20 GB hard drive while the $299 won't. But how many Xbox games were using the hard drive in the original machine? How many games will need one in the 360? I thought the point of the hard drive was so you didn't need to shell out a bunch of cash for those memory cards.
Probably in reaction to Microsoft's announcement Amazon is lists the PlayStation3 for $299. That's a price I could live with. Now, will Sony be able to make enough of them so they don't have a shortage like they did with the PS2?
August 10, 2005
Next Zelda is Stunning
Sure I just bought a PS2 (Destroy All Humans was good, cheesy fun), but I'm not dumping my GameCube because The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess comes out later this year. Wow. It's the most beautiful game I've ever seen on the GC.
August 09, 2005
An Ode to the Internet
Patrick Ruffini points out that today is the 10-year anniversary of Netscape's IPO. Wow. My life can be easily divided into BI, "Before Internet," and AI, "After Internet." But really I can't imagine my life without access to so much information, the access to so many goods and services, and the ability to communicate with so many people. As a conservative I don't like to spout, "revolution" often, but with how the internet has changed so many aspects of our society, economics, politics, and culture there isn't a better word. Just like Patrick, I have no idea what we'll be doing with the internet in 10 years. All I know is it will be one hell of a ride.
"A Wild Ten Year Ride"
August 05, 2005
NBC Doesn't Suck as Much
NBC will not be back in good graces with PVR owners:
Looks like NBC is finally going to be putting an end to one of their more odious practices: scheduling shows by a minute or two off in order to purposefully create the kind of scheduling conflicts that prevents TiVos and other digital video recorders from properly recording shows.
This was a pain-in-the-ass last season when I always missed the last minute of Desparate Housewives so Crossing Jordan could be recorded. Now, if the network could get some decent programing to watch.
"NBC to Stop Trying to Annoy DVR Owners"
August 03, 2005
Like Trying to Plug a Dike
NASA's embarassment continues. An astronaut yanked out the gap fillers and now might have to do another spacewalk to fix thermal blanket. Engineers are sure to spend many sleepless nights worrying that this new "problem" will raise the danger of the astronauts by 0.0006%. Because we can't have any chance of disaster with people traveling at thousands of miles per hour 100 miles above the earth. At this rate if the shuttle's toilet gets plugged they'll just have to abandon Discovery and let it burn in the atmosphere. Hey, that might not be such a bad idea.
"Astronaut May Face Another Shuttle Repair"
July 31, 2005
Here's another post in my continuing rant on why the space shuttle is pointless. Astronauts might have to make repairs on Discovery's heat shield.
A couple of short strips of material dangling from Discovery's belly may require an unprecedented repair by spacewalking astronauts, if engineers determine there's even a possibility that the problem could endanger the shuttle during descent, NASA said Sunday.
NASA doesn't have any idea how critical this is. For all they know gap fillers pop out on every mission. Only now are hyper-sensitive engineers looking for anything that slightly increase the risk to the astronauts.
Some wise man in Congress (yes, I'm laughing at that one too) should stand up and declare the shuttle program to be an embarassment and waste of money. No body on Capitol Hill has the guts to do that because they'd then be labled "anti-science" or "anti-space." And it would probably stick even though we know so much human knowledge is being gleaned from people closely studying heat tiles. Wow, I feel like we're getting that much closer to coloninzing Mars.
"Discovery May Need Unprecedented Repair"
July 30, 2005
No More HP iPods
Hewlett-Packard selling iPods didn't make sense to me. They didn't add any technological innovations and they didn't take on Apple on price. I have an HP iPod but I don't ever think about that company when I use it. iPod=Apple, just as Steve Jobs wants it to be. Apple didn't care since the deal put iTunes on HP computers. Now, HP is ending the reselling arrangement. No big deal.
"HP to Stop Reselling iPod Music Player"
July 29, 2005
Maybe a Shuttle Launch in 2005
Writing has taking my mind off current, personal events. I think of weblogging as comfort food for my mind. I'm going to pound on that dying horse that is the space shuttle program.
Today, NASA chief Michael Griffin said he really, really wanted to have another launch in 2005. That will depend on getting the foam on the main fuel tank fixed in time for the small launch windows in the fall. This is how risk-adverse NASA is now:
The launch windows later this year are very limited, however. The first is Sept. 9-24, and the second is a couple of days in November. That is based on the Earth's orbit and the hours of daylight a shuttle could be launched so it could be photographed to watch for problems.
Unless all eyes are glued to the shuttle to watch for flying foam they won't launch. Spectacular nigh time launches have been nixed. Safety is now the #1 concern. It's not about how much the mission could advance science and technology. If NASA engineers and big wigs find something slightly wrong a launch will be ditched. This isn't the same NASA that survived the accidents of Apollo 1 (who's investigation commission completed its work in only two months) and Apollo 13. NASA's new unofficial motto is "any failure is unacceptable." The agency is a ghost of its hallowed past.
"NASA: Another Shuttle Could Launch Soon"
[Add to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
July 28, 2005
Put It Out of Its Misery
The shuttle fleet--all three of them--have been grounded because foam flew off the main fuel tank. Continuing the shuttle program is pointless. NASA must cut its losses and move on. The shuttle had its time. Its now the past. Time to look to the future.
"NASA Grounds Shuttle Fleet"
July 26, 2005
A Useless Launch
Discovery had a successful launch. I have mixed feelings. I'm glad NASA pulled it off. I'm always proud of American resilence, but the shuttle is old technology. Man won't conquer space with the risk-adverse methodology of the space agency. It took over two years just to get the shuttle ready for launch. Then a fuel gage malfunctioned and that postponed the launch for two more weeks. The agency is too worried about another accident mothballing the shuttle program--not a bad idea. Engineers are staring at footage from 110 video cameras to see if Discovery was damaged during lift off. That's no way to run a productive, efficient space program.
Right now, NASA's hypersafety philosophy has made spaceflight hyper expensive (though not particularly safe). Rather than unrealistically making failure not an option, we need to embrace the fact that failures will occur occasionally. What we have to do is make sure that failures aren't as expensive as they were in the case of Challenger and Columbia (and numerous other lesser NASA program failures). What that means is making it cheap to fail, which in turn means making it cost much less to make attempts. That won't happen until we develop much more robust systems, with much more activity. But investing further millions into Shuttle (not only in terms of money spent fixing things, but the costs of continued delay, which are substantial) in a futile effort to make it any safer than it currently is, is a fool's errand.
SpaceShipOne (at the EAA in Oshkosh) has shown entreprenuers going out on the edge can get Man into space. That's the path to take.
The shuttle program is 30-years old, and it hasn't gotten Man any closer to a permanent presence in space (three-month stays on the orbiting white elephant international space station doesn't count). The U.S. managed to lead the world in microprocessor production without the government creating the Semiconductor Manufacturing Administration. It's time for NASA to put the shuttle out to pasture.
"NASA Studies Debris Recorded During Launch"
July 23, 2005
The next version of Windows has an official name. Forget "Longhorn" and say hi to "Windows Vista." Well, it rolls off the tongue and isn't clunky. It sounds a little too pleasant since you can expect a mess of problems when it comes out. There will be security holes, bugs, compatibility issues, and annoying new ways to do things. Then there will be the problem of trying to shove Vista on machines currently running XP. Expect the new operating system to be a resource whore.
"Next Version of Windows Named 'Vista'"
July 11, 2005
Anyone want a Gmail account? I'm in the giving mood. Just leave a comment and I'll hook you up.
July 05, 2005
Another Thing to Blame Karl Rove For
Deep Impact's success spawns an "unintended consequence."
June 27, 2005
Podcasting via iTunes Tomorrow?
Rarely do I care about a software upgrade, but ever since Adam Curry announced iTunes would soon handle podcasts I've been a wee bit anxious. My podcasting listening routine has been to go to the individual websites, download a new show, then upload it into iTunes. Now, all I'll have to do is subscribe and let the software do the rest. Even better, Apple is suppose to ship iTunes 4.9 tomorrow. Yea!
"iTunes 4.9 on the Way Tomorrow?"
Hard Drive Advice
I've owned my Compaq desktop ("The Mothership") for about one year. It has a 160gb hard drive I keep all my data on as well as my music collection (ripped from CDs and purchased from iTunes). I've never done a back up which means I will draw ire from the computer gods. I'm on the lookout for external hard drives. The Maxtor line has intrigued me. I love the idea of just hitting one button on the drive and the back up is started. I wonder if any TAM readers has any advice or recomendations?
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
June 21, 2005
Jack Kilby, R.I.P.
Jack Kilby co-inventor of the integrated circuit died today at age 81. His Nobel Prize-winning work literally changed the world. You wouldn't be reading this words without Kilby's efforts. The engineer who admitted he "had some trouble in math" had a Wisconsin connection.
His first job out of college was with Centralab in Milwaukee, Wis., working with transistors. He also did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin and received a Master's degree in 1950. He worked for Centralab until moving to Dallas in 1958.
"Jack Kilby, A Giant Among Engineers, Dies"
June 07, 2005
Two Interesting Apple Items
Next year, Apple will start selling computers with "Intel Inside" [insert catchy jingle here]. Also, there will be podcasting support in the next update to iTunes.
I like both stories. The first means Mac notebooks might come down in price where I'd be really tempted to try one. The second item means it will be much easier for me to listen to my favorite podcasts.
"Apple to Switch Macs to Intel Chips"
"Apple Vows to Make Podcasting Easier"
May 25, 2005
ABC Joins the Podosphere
For those of you who want to be surrounded by news 24-7 (you sickos) ABC is podcasting Nightline, This Week, and other shows. They've even started an afternoon addition to The Note, The AfterNote.
"ABC, NBC News Launch News Podcasts"
May 18, 2005
The PS3 might sell for over $400. I might have to rethink my console choice.
"PS3 Price Rumours"
May 17, 2005
Console Buyer's Remorse
When the current generation of console video games came out I bet on Nintendo's GameCube. I figured all the cool sports games would come out for that machine plus Nintendo has the Zelda franchise. I've played plenty of sports games on my GameCube (NCAA Football 2005 rocks!) but I never got around to playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the whole point of getting the GC. Going with the GameCube meant I missed out on a lot of games. Even though I'm only an occasional gamer I'd like to have the biggest selection available. So, when the next generation of consoles arrives I'll lean toward the PS3 but see if the XBox 360 is backward compatible--I'd love to try Halo or Halo 2.
Phone-less and Fine
Peter Panos, restaurant operator, gave up his mobile phone and lived to tell about it.
Sure, suppliers sometimes have said he can be hard to get ahold of.
Ditching the phone was a bit drastic. He could have just turned it off when he didn't want to be called, but people expected him to answer if he had a mobile phone. Not only did Panos let his phone control him, but people he worked with rudely assumed he could be contacted at all times.
Technology like mobile phones and instant messaging are nice things to have, but always remember we control the tech; it doesn't control us. There's a time and a place for everything but that doesn't mean we're at everyone's beck and call just because technology allows us to.
"Hanging up the Cell Phone"
May 02, 2005
Redstate now has a podcast. At this rate the only stuff I'll be listening to on my iPod are podcasts.
Podcasting on Sirius
No mention by "podmaster" Adam Curry of Infinity's decision to turn one of its radio stations to all podcasting all the time. After finding out Curry will host a daily podcasting show on Sirius I'm not surprised. This podcasting thing is going places.
"An MTV Host Moves to Radio, Giving Voice to Audible Blogs"
April 27, 2005
In the past week I've been listening to Adam Curry's (yes, of MTV fame) podcast Daily Source Code. While I don't envision a TAM podcast anytime soon (it feels too complicated and time consuming) I'm interested in where it will go. Curry is the one to listen to to find out. DSC is pretty geeky. Curry talks about the hardware and software he uses to make his podcast. So DSC could be thought of as a tech podcast. But Curry also plays lots of promos for other podcasts. He's a very giving gent. In that respect I think of him as the Instapundit of podcasters.
The reason I brought up podcasting is Infinity is changing the format of one of their radio stations from talk to podcasts. People will be able to submit their casts, and the station will pick some to play on-air. Curry probably had a wet dream with this news. It partially validates all the work he's put into this new medium. Highly idosyncratic, highly individualized media may be the wave of the future.
"Infinity Tries All-Podcasting Radio Format"
Protect All Legitimate DVD Users
It's not a bad idea to protect DVD filtering technology to allow parents to edit movies for their children. The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act empowers parents who feel they're barely treading water in the media ocean.
However, other DVD users besides parents protecting their children from excessive sex and violence could use some empowering. Right now, it's illegal to rip a DVD to play it on another device. Even though you own, say The Star Wars Trilogy, you cannot legally rip the movie to play it on a notebook computer without a DVD player, any other device, or to make a back up. Such use isn't piracy. It's just making media more flexible to better fit people's lives. In 2004, the entertainment industry gave up the fight over DeCss. But who's to say a new attack won't come in the future?
"Bush Signs Bill to Let Parents Filter DVDs"
UPDATE: John Cole sees the bill as Bush placating a certain set of companies. He seems to think Hollywood should have let the DVD filtering companies go ahead. Cole misses the point. Hollywood was the roadblock. Hollywood was being so strict with their copyright enforcement that the filtering companies were threatened. This law allows technology to be developed that allows parents to edit a DVD. It's federal government intervention but Cole has to explain how it's "unreasonable, big government."
April 24, 2005
I Don't Feel Dumber
Guess I better cut back on my internet use:
According to a recent university study conducted at King's College London, constant e-mailing and text-messaging reduces your intelligence by 10 IQ points - an effect more damaging than smoking marijuana.
There might be some truth to net use being like marijuana smoking. Late at night, I get the munchies.
"Does More IM = a Lower IQ?"
April 22, 2005
All night at around 23 minutes past the hour my Charter net connection goes out. It's spooky in its consistency.
[I'm doing this to shame Charter into getting its act together. Since I don't have any choice in my high speed providers (DSL not available) I have to attempt a little public shame. I'm sorry if you can't stand me complaining.]
April 20, 2005
Connection Acting Up Again
My cable modem has been working much better than last week. But all is not well. Around 23 minutes past the hour it stops. After a few minutes (it's varied from two to ten tonight) things are back to normal. That isn't normal, and Charter hasn't made me happy yet.
April 13, 2005
Me like. Just avoid the painful interviewers on "Off the Record."
April 11, 2005
That Time of the Day
It's late in the evening which means my net connection is working. Too bad for you I'm not in the mood to post. Maybe tomorrow morning before I go to work and definitely after work. A technician will be out Wednesday and make me whole.
April 10, 2005
Place Your Bets
What are the odds Charter will fail to provide me with a net connection today? It was out yesterday, but works now.
UPDATE: If you bet on zero access then you were right. The Charter customer service person is sending a technician out hopefully tomorrow. I've figured out the problem is local to just me. Other Charter net users in my area have no problems. We'll see what a human on site can do to fix things. Charter is also willing to prorate the one week of lost net service.
April 08, 2005
Technical Difficulties Continue
My net connection woes continue. All the blinking lights on my cable modem are doing what they're suppose to do, but my bandwidth is a slight trickle. Sometimes there's a quick burst and a page displays quickly, but most of the time I click on a link and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. I'm no closer to a solution than I was at the beginning of the week. Is it a network problem or do I need a new cable modem (do those things wear out)? Maybe their financial woes have forced them to become lax on their network maintence. Charter is really letting me down after a few years of good service. I can turn off my modem again and again only to have my net connection interrupted. If a weblogger with bigger clout could put in a word for me about my plight on their weblog I'd be grateful. It's obvious TAM has none with Charter.
April 05, 2005
For the second day in a row Charter let me down. This morning, my net connection was fine. This afternoon after work it was down. I unplugged everything to my cable modem to reset it just like the techie told me to. No luck. Now it's working. I'm guessing Charter is having some cable network problems in my area.
UPDATE: I just performed a bandwidth test. It's pathetic. So no more posting for me tonight, even though it's Election Night in Wisconsin. Shawn, you'll have to pick up the slack.
UPDATE II: I performed another bandwidth test. At least my cable modem is faster than dial-up. I'm calling it a night.
April 04, 2005
"I've Been Disconnected. Somebody Pulled the Plug"
The lack of posting is because of a lack of net access. Two out of the past three days my net connection has been down. Charter has had a good track record for me during the two+ years I've used their high-speed net service so I'm not going to be too hard on them. Complaining too much would also be kind of pointless since I can't get DSL service in my area. What's keeping you, Verizon? I'm not at the nearest Starbucks checking my e-mail and the latest news.
I just overheard a Starbucks employee say their computer wasn't connected to their company network. My net problem might be bigger geographically. Odd that they can't jump on the T-Mobile network they use to offer wireless access.
Also distracting me was the Brewers opening day game. What surprised me more than the Brew Crew beating the Pirates was Jeff Cirillo had a great game. He hit a home run and a double and had a leaping catch that almost certainly earned him a "web gem." From seeing him in Spring Training I didn't think he'd make the team. He hardly played during the week I watched him. Now, his play may make Wes Helms the odd man out at third base. In a rare moment for pitcher Ben Sheets, his teammates gave him some run support.
"Milwaukee 9, Pittsburgh 2"
UPDATE: Charter got its act in gear. My net connection is working now.
On another note, the title of this post is from some song lyrics. Brownie points will be given to the first person who tells me what song and what artist. No googling please.
March 08, 2005
Licensed for eBay
Wisconsin isn't the only state that wants to put stupid regulations on internet commerce. Ohio law requires eBay users to go through a lengthy, expensive process to become licensed auctioneers.
February 24, 2005
Apple and TiVo Sitting in a Tree
Apple buying TiVo? I wouldn't complain. I love, I mean LOVE, my TiVo. I love, I mean LOVE, my iPod. I don't want to go all Mac computing-wise--I would love to play with one of these little puppies--but I'll back anything that keeps my revolutionary tv device running.
February 08, 2005
I've been dipping my feet into the whole podcasting scene. Don't expect a TAM one anytime soon. I have a face perfect for radio and a voice perfect for a weblog.
Now, NARN, when are you going to start podcasting your Saturday shows?
February 05, 2005
Make It Stop!
I don't know much about Vonage other than it let's you make cheap phone calls with your broadband connection. That's just fine, but someone please tell them to end the commercials with the yodeling dork. The "YOO HOO HOO" makes the Yahoo! yodel sound tame. And the commerical is playing over 4 times an hour. If my hair were long enough I'd be yanking on it.
January 14, 2005
Pentagon, Are You Reading?
My readers didn't let me down. Here are the top three wacky weapon ideas:
[Added to OTB's Beltway Traffic Jam.]
Can You Top It?
Wacky brainstorming almost got a government grant.
The Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.
I'm opening it up to my readers. Give me your goofiest, off-the-wall idea for a non-lethal military weapon.
January 11, 2005
Defintely No Shuffleboard
The new Apple iPod shuffle (continuing the company's streak of unique capitalization) plays up its weakness. The weakness being the lack of a display on the gum-size music player. The marketers at Apple have now decided "Random is the New Order." Just load up a few hundred songs into the iPod shuffle and let the device's algorithms decide what will play. It looks neat, and the price ($99 for 512-MB) is great. More people will be joining the Cult of the iPod. Some might even decide to buy a new Mac mini--which looks perfect for college students or those who move often but don't need a notebook computer.
"The Apple iPod Shuffle"
"The Apple Mac Mini"
December 31, 2004
Fill 'er Up
Michele's special. One reason is she has a shiny new U2 iPod. One thing I don't understand with some iPod owners is why they don't immediately fill it up. When I first got mine I put all the songs on my computer into the iPod folder and clicked the update button. Because I have slightly more songs than space on my player I let iTunes pick and chose. The end result was 4000+ songs at my fingertips. If you have more space than songs why wouldn't you load all of them? The point of a 20GB or 40GB iPod is to have all your music with you where ever you go.
"I'm a Pod Person!
December 27, 2004
Cell Phone Users are Idiots
It's bad enough when rude people allow their cell phone to interrupt a conversation, talk on one while going through a check out line, or loudly yap one-half of a personal conversation in public. I've now learned that California 911 operators see an increase in calls on Christmas because morons are testing their new phones by dialing 911. Why couldn't a tsunami hit there?
December 15, 2004
Ross Rubin thinks TiVo should drop it's subscription model. I'd be happy with that. It would raise the price of DVRs but you wouldn't have to pay for anything afterward. I do wonder how it fits into my view that the future of television as pay-per-view pumped over the internet on demand. Maybe TiVo could position itself as the toll booth between viewers and program producers.
If they the subscription fee but raised prices it would make me think hard about getting a second machine. Right now, $199 ($99 after rebate) for a Series 2 box is tempting.
"Switched On: TiVo Should Skip ahead and Kill Subscription Fees"
November 16, 2004
One Effect of MS Antitrust Attacks
Paul has a problem with Windows XP not having a useable DVD player as part of the operating system. For that he can blame the Justice Department and over-zealous state attorneys general. They spent years going after Microsoft for "unfairly" bundling Internet Explorer. Microsoft doesn't want to have to deal with that again so a Windows XP user must use a third-party player. I guess there is a consumer benefit to bundling new features into an operating system. That was one failed argument Microsoft used in their antitrust defense.
"Why Windows Sucks Today"
November 12, 2004
What's Old is New Again
Reebok has brought back the pump. Only this time you can say, "Look mom, no hands."
"Reebok Unveils High Tech Sneaker Pump 2.0"
November 09, 2004
Worse than Spam
A spammer has decided to use one of my e-mail addresses for bulk mailing. I'm now getting all the bounced spam that can't be delivered. I actually find this more annoying and time consuming than dealing with spam. Is there any way to stop this? Do I have to go to the draconian measure of ditching my primary e-mail address that I've had for years?
October 31, 2004
Remember to "Fall Back"
I have a mild obsession watching my "Recently Played" list on iTunes. I thought something was wrong with the software when it stopped listing just played songs. Then I looked at the time stamps and compared it with the clock in the system tray. It looked liked some songs were played in the future. Then it hit me: daylight savings time ended. Our clocks "fall back" and we get an extra hour of sleep. All is now well in my little corner of reality.
October 28, 2004
Which Party is Pro-Tech?
CNET News.com put together a scorecard to show which party is more pro-technology. Note that this scorecard, like any other, is very subjective. CNET News.com plainly states, "Scores were assigned solely based on the editorial opinions of CNET News.com." But also note that Declan McCullagh is their chief politics writer, and he's not known as being in the GOP's pocket.
The GOP ended up scoring better than the Democrats. As for the Kerry Edwards two-headed monster, Kerry received a score of 44 while Edwards got a 50. Both are below the average U.S. Senator's score of 53.
"GOP Beats Dems on Tech-Friendliness"
September 26, 2004
The Next Hip Tech
This AP story is the first from the MSM I've read about wikis. I guess the Killian memo story and notice of weblogs on cable news and in magazines like Time, the MSM needs to find the next-big-thing.
"'Wikis' Offer Knowledge-Sharing Online"
September 21, 2004
Less Space, Same Price
I figured a slimmed-down PS2 would also have a slimmed-down price. Nope. The new design will run for $149.99, exactly what you'd spend for the bulkier version. I see no real benefit unless the older versions drop down in price on eBay.
But I played Star Wars Battlefront today at Best Buy. Oh, wow! That game could seriously cut into quality weblogging time. Here's a hint: if you can't stand TAM you could set me up and not hear from me for weeks.
Smaller PS2 Coming
Guess I'll be waiting a few months before thinking about getting one of these. I like my GameCube, but too many games are being made for PS2 and X-Box only.
"Sony to Launch Smaller PS2 Console Around Year-End"
September 07, 2004
What's Old is New Again
Atari is releasing a hoard of old games. Unfortunately for me a Playstation 2 or X-Box is needed. Can't they give us GameCube users some love?
"Atari to Reissue Scores of Old Games"
September 04, 2004
Laptop On A Stick
At The Minnesota State Fair this year, those who absolutely need to read their email while munching on a Pronto Pup and Cheese Curds, can.
This is the year, geeks and wireless freaks.
Me, I'm leaving the laptop at home.
July 21, 2004
I am an AT&T Wireless Services customer for my cellular phone. I used to have the digital one rate program, which was slick for all the traveling I did, and when I got laid off my priority was to keep the phone and number, not switch to some other plan. That time will come.
Well, as a customer, I get their emails. Yay. But here's the new feature they tell me about today in an email:
Think about all the times you've heard a cool new song and wanted to know its name or who the artist is. With MusicID™, a new service for AT&T Wireless customers, you can be the first to know.
Now, that, to me, is just cool. Unbelievable.
June 30, 2004
For being one of the rising stars in the home sales industry The Pampered Chef has some very lame software for their
If you have any ideas I'd appreciate it. Not even Google has helped me.
June 29, 2004
The Court on COPA
The Supreme Court case dealing with sexually explicit content on the Internet feels right to me. The Child Online Protection Act was too broad and was self-defeating since online porn peddlers could just move their material to an offshore server. Even with the many flaws filtering software possess, the technological option seems to be the more effective means for parents to protect their children. All families are different. Some children mature faster than others, and parents have different ways of teaching sexual morality to their children. We live in a highly sexualized--too often of a coarse, ugly variety. Parents need tools not overly-restrictive laws.
A much more complicated question is whether government-funded libraries can be required to have filtering software installed on Net-connected computers. There's a question of adults' access to material not appropriate to children, but there's also the concern that libraries would become sources of hard-core, gross, disgusting sexual depravity. Most libraries don't carry Playboy (which is tame), but without filters it would, in essence, carry far more explicit material.
Then there's the question of whether it's the federal government's business how a local library should operate. We have the First Amendment brushing up against community standards and federalism.
The best decision would be for the court to junk the law on Ninth or Tenth Amendment grounds. (I leave the gory details to the law professors.) But that only tosses the decision of whether to have filters or not down another governmental level. Instead of the federal court deciding, the state supreme courts would rule. In this case, a reasonable solution would be to let individual libraries decide to have the filters. While Net access isn't ubiquitous its reach grows with each passing day. The First Amendment and free speech is more about being free to produce content not necessarily having free access to anything in any place at any time. It's not a perfect solution, but we don't live in a perfect world.
"High Court Upholds Block of Web Porn Law"
"High Court Ruling Boosts Internet Filters"
"Victory for Free Speech"
June 25, 2004
Yesterday's space walk by the astronaut and cosmonaut on the International Space Station came to a quick halt yesterday. In fact, most of their official time out of the space station was spent in the airlock.
This was a tenuous walk to begin with, as both of the astronauts were out of the ISS. They were also untethered, and would likely be out of touch with each other and Houston. Two of three American spacesuits are malfunctioning, and now it appears the Russian ones aren't working so well either.
June 21, 2004
Not So Final A Frontier There, Jim
Someday my -- Daughter? Granddaughter? More likely the latter -- will tell me how her science class went into orbit to see what zero gravity was like. And I'll be able to tell her about the day it first happened; when a guy just made a casual jaunt to space for a little bit.
Pilot Mike Melvill, Funder Paul Allen, and Designer Burt Rutan rightly deserve their place in history for achieving this milestone, and possibly opening the door for regular Joe's to travel above the clouds.
June 19, 2004
Review of Thunderbird
Gareth Russell reviews the latest version of Mozilla's beta e-mail client. It sounds good, especially the junk e-mail filters. However, Gareth is a Linux geek so I don't know if the same praises can be made for the WinXP version.
"Mozilla - Back to Basics: Part 2 Thunderbird (0.7)"
June 17, 2004
Mozilla 1.7 can now be downloaded. Since Microsoft has said in the future there won't have a stand alone web browser, I'm hunting for useable alternatives that fit in to how I use the Web. How is this release connected to FireFox and Thunderbird besides the latter two being separate programs? Is FF and T-Bird tech in the new Mozilla browser? More importantly for me, how well does Mozilla work with Movable Type? I won't use FF because some MT style buttons don't appear.
June 14, 2004
The Future is Asynchronous
TiVo, the best tech gizmo in recent memory, wants to plug into the Internet and let subscribers download music, photos, movies, and more. While this seems like a logical extension of their "watch-it-when-you-want-to" philosophy their DVR created, it may prevent the company from surviving.
The day will soon come where television, movie, and music consuming will be completely disconnected from any set schedule. We will watch the latest episode of the The Sopranos not when HBO decides, but when David Case gets it finished. Networks will change from content providers to content bankrollers, or they may just fade into media history. Other than sports and breaking news events, shared watching experiences will be replaced with highly customizable schedules.
TiVo may end up being one of those tech pioneers who may not profit from their creation.
"For TiVo, a Channel of One's Own?"
May 30, 2004
What at Deal
$363 for a computer w/o monitor. Wow! It almost puts my new set-up to shame. Now, I'm just waiting for those 4 megapixel digital cameras to take a price nosedive.
"Time to Upgrade?"
May 14, 2004
Dell is tossing in a flat-panel monitor with their desktops. You can know get a new computer with an LCD for under $1000. They're trying to match the sweet HP-Compaq deal I snagged. Now, Dell just has to boost the size of RAM and the hard drive.
I wonder what the next "wow" thing computer makers will include: a Wi-Fi router? a portable music player? a good digital camera?
[AD] Dell Dimension 4600 Desktop Computer [/AD]
May 10, 2004
Technical Problems Fixed
You didn't notice anything, but behind the scenes at TAM Central a new computer was installed. Yes, I just got one last month, but last week, the super-cool LCD monitor decided it fail on me. The easiest solution was to pack everthing up and exchanged it at Sam's Club for a new package. Fortunately for me, I didn't have many new files to move to this new machine. I did have to reinstall the freebies I can't live without. Now, I'm into the 48-hour burn-in to make sure everything's kosher. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
April 18, 2004
A New Addition to the TAM Family
TAM now has more speed and power. The problems I've been having with my 3+ year-old WinME machine pushed me to get a new desktop. Last weekend, I got it. I haven't used my Sam's Club membership in a long time, but I paid for my membership fee with this Compaq running an Athalon XP 2.16GHz processor, a 160 GB hard drive, 512 MB of RAM, a CD-RW and DVD-ROM, plenty of USB 2.0 and Fire Wire ports, and a 17" LCD. All of this was just under $1000.
So, Santa, while I don't really need a new computer I still wouldn't mind if this was under the tree next Christmas. (I could have bought one of these today, but I didn't want to hand over $1600 to the Wal-Mart empire.
In this transition I've been downloading a core set of programs I use often. They're great tools for me, so I figured I'd give you a little peak behind the TAM curtain to show you how the TAM wizard gets this weblog to look so darn good:
This episode of The Screen Savers is now over. Patrick and Kevin, you can have your show back.
April 13, 2004
mtpolitics.net is back from its Lenten leave of absence. Things are up and running again. Everything appears to be normal, but if you look carefully you'll see that it's now powered by WordPress. With Kate also playing with WP are we seeing the next great migration in the blogosphere?
April 07, 2004
March 30, 2004
Gizomodo on Simputer
Joel Johnson at Gizmodo took the advice I e-mailed him and posted on the Indian Simputer. He's skeptical:
Although the Simputer originally had some innovate ideas, such as letting different users store their data on cheap, swappable memory cards and village-based software packages, it's unclear if the $240 monochrome PDA (a more expensive color version is available) is really that much better for Indians than anything else.
"Indian PDA 'Simputer' Launches"
Earlier yesterday, Dreamhost had a problem with one of their routers. That's why you couldn't read my insights. Since you're reading this DH got the problem fixed. This was the worst problem from DH in the three-plus years TAM has been hosted by them. Not bad. But it was annoying to have another tech problem come upon me after I fixed an earlier one.
On the new computer front, I'm going to wait until the updated WinXP comes out later this year. That is unless I find a really sweet deal on eBay.
March 29, 2004
Cool New Indian Handheld
John Kerry, Lou Dobbs, and the neo-mercantilists will shudder that a new handheld computer has been launched in India. The Simputer was designed for India's poor to cross the digital divide. The Linux-powered device is loaded with programs including a web browser, MP3 player, and an array of everyday productivity programs. The cheapest model sells for $240 while one loaded with a smartcard reader, built-in microphone and speakers, and a color screen goes for $480. Too bad for us living outside India. It's not being sold internationaly...yet.
"Cheap Handheld Computers Sold in India"
March 28, 2004
Over the past 12 hours I've had an WinME problem (first major one in 3+ years) with explorer not liking the WININET.DLL file. I fixed it using the help from this forum. This is a reason for having a multicomputer house. I would have had to enter purgatory by calling up Dell's help desk. Are they still sending calls to India? This incident has reminded me that I'm due for a new desktop loaded with WinXP, lots more memory, a big hard drive, a DVD player, and USB 2.0 so I could start thinking about getting an iPod. I rarely gameplay and use my computer mostly for surfing, weblogging, and (legal) music downloading. I'm partial to Dell because this machine has run so smoothly, but does anyone have any other suggestions for other companies? Are eMachines still as poorly constructed as I remember them? How about HP, Compaq, or Gateway?
March 03, 2004
Sucking on the Hose
Kevin found a much-needed review of RSS readers. For such a whiz-bang and rapidly expanding technology RSS has tremendous promise. Unfortunately, I find the current set of readers (I occasionally use FeedReader) to be mediocre at best. I'll have to try out Aggreg8. It works with Mozilla and is free. On the down side is it works with Mozilla and the MT doesn't work well with Mozilla I'd need to have two browsers open to read and post.
"RSS Readers: Bringing the World to Your Desktop"
January 27, 2004
The Green Screen of Death
Kevin's TiVo might have bit the dust. As long-time TiVo user, I've never run into this.
UPDATE: This phenomenon isn't new. I think I've had my TiVo for over three years. I better get emotionally prepared for the day I get the GSOD.
December 26, 2003
An RFID With Cheese
Forrester Research advises the use of RFID tags in the food supply chain in recall cases (like Mad Cow disease).
December 21, 2003
Barlow Joins Blogosphere
It feels like 1994 all over again. A tech company prepares for a big IPO and John Perry Barlow has a weblog. When will Wired paste "BLOG" all over one of its issues like they did with "push" technology?
Welcome, John. The more, the merrier.
December 02, 2003
TAM's Gone Wireless
The TAM global publishing empire has finished its first major addition to its infrastructure since moving over to Movable Type. TAM HQ has now gone wireless. Yours truly had no problems installing a network card into the mothership (my desktop), connecting the wireless router, and installing the Wi-Fi card into the TAM Mobile Command Center (ie. notebook computer). I bought D-Link products and installation went smoothly. The only real problem is with ZoneAlarm. After a few minutes of Net use, I can't receive any inbound traffic, but I notice plenty of traffic going outbound. So, I'm trying some other free software firewalls such as Agnitum's Outpost Firewall.
UPDATE: My wireless router must be providing enough security for me. It also must be turned on by default since I didn't do anything to turn it on. I tested my notebook's security with AuditMyPC.com and it came out fine.
November 29, 2003
Blood as Stem Cell Source
Oh, I hope this technology is legit. Then the embryonic stem cell debate becomes moot.
November 23, 2003
TiVo Still Rules!
TiVo is beyond words. However, Chuck Barney attempts to understand their owners passion for the black box.
"Worshipping at TiVo's Shrine"
November 11, 2003
TiVo Rules My TV World
Since I think TiVo is greatest evolution of television watching since the VCR, I have to add to James' post.
For some the recorded selections TiVo picks (those not specifically chosen to be recorded) may be pretty accurate. It isn't for me so I rely on lots of season tickets. Since getting my TiVo over three years ago and the lack of good programming, my tv watching has become smarter. I'm down to watching live sports event, 24, and various egghead talk shows. With TiVo, I can watch it when I want to. I fit tv into my schedule instead of fitting my schedule around what's on tv.
October 17, 2003
The Future of TV
With gizmos like TiVo (where you can skip the commercials) and networks like HBO (where there aren't any commericals) I see the age of 100% pay-per-view television to soon be upon us. Our tv will contain a hard drive and connected to the Net. Shows will be downloaded to the tv to be viewed whenever we want. What's needed aren't regulations governing digital formats and equipment. What's needed is allowing the free market to work. If content producers offer their stuff full of bothersome control technology consumers will just no use it. We don't need a bunch of politicians making tech policy to "protect" consumers--the law of unintended consequences eventually bites you in the tush.
October 09, 2003
One way to cut down on e-mail (solicited and unsolicited) is to have your e-mail alias shut down. Anyone who's been trying to send e-mail to shackbar--at--free-market(dot)net probably has had it bounce back. Free-market.net has come under some money troubles and has rolled out a new encrypted e-mail service. After briefly looking at the specs I don't know if it provides a basic alias. So, until further notice, send any e-mail to sean--at--theamericanmind(dot)com or shackbar--at--yahoo(dot)com.
[UPDATE: I went through my member settings at Free-market.net and again activated my alias. I don't know if that will work. If it does, FMN will be getting a nice donation. If not, then I'll be up late tonight switching over a lot of e-mail lists.]
October 07, 2003
Gehry's Real Innovation
Frank Gehry's may be horrendous from an artistic perspective, but his company has made some innovations in how buildings get built. Gehry' encourages close contact with the builders before construction takes place. He said in a BusinessWeek article linked by Virginia Postrel,
We spend a lot more time with the subcontractors so when we get to the final drawings, we solve most of the technical problems. You know where you are going before you start construction, so you minimize the surprise from the owner's standpoint. You get all the bad news up front.
"Aesthetics is the Killer App"
September 30, 2003
Say you want to tackle some major public policy problems. Maybe you want to work on intellectual property issues (downloading music and movies) and think the FCC would be your place. Or maybe you want to help Colin Powell in getting support to rebuild Iraq. Or maybe you want Donald Rumsfeld's job because you think he's a pansy. You could spend years working on building political contacts to get nominated, OR you can fill out an online application. My guess is no one has ever been discovered for an appointed position just by filling out a form. But don't let that deter you from your dream of a government job.
September 25, 2003
The Air Force completed a test where one B-2 dropped 80 500-pound bombs in 22 seconds. Every bomb hit an individual target. Military advances have come to the point where we can literally rain down fire and brimstone on our enemies.
September 15, 2003
High Tech Football
Tech geeks should really like this SportsBlog post even if they hate sports. You know that line Fox, CBS, and ESPN/ABC "paint" onto a football field to show where the first down marker is? Well, it takes 8 computers and 4 people to operate the system.
"First Down Line - How Does It Get There?"
September 09, 2003
BN.com Turns the Page on E-books
Barnes and Noble's website no longer sells e-books. If a reader in invented that is inexpensive, easy to read, and can hold a bunch of books, then maybe e-books could be the future in my lifetime.
"Barnes & Noble Shelves E-books"
Good RFID Story
News.com offers up the potentials of RFID tags and what's going wrong in trials. This technology would be especially good in a store. In theory, a salesman would know exactly where a book, CD, or some other item is in the store. Or customers could go to a kiosk, type in what they're looking for, and they would be given directions to where the product is. These tags will radically change retail.
"Retail Takes Stock of Radio Tags"
September 08, 2003
Scientists have found fungi thriving underneath snow. Since these organisms both lock up and release carbon, fungi's effects have to be taken into consideration when creating climate models. This discovery should make people skeptical of global warming alarmists and the political hacks who use the models to advance statist agendas. We know so little about how our planet works. We don't know how solar fluctuations and now fungi behavior affects the planet. Greens shouldn't be so conceited as to think Man is destroying it. Jumping to economically destructive "solutions" like Kyoto may not have any effect on the environment but will surely wreck America's standard of living.
"Fungi Find May Alter View of Global Warming"
September 02, 2003
Focus on DARPA
The AP looks at a now Poindexter-less DARPA. It's one of the few government agencies that tries to pay market wages to draw in top-notch talent.
"Agency Behind Terrorism Futures Profiled"
August 30, 2003
Jabba: One l33t Hacker
Jeffrey Lee Parson, the creator of one of the Blaster viruses, being the fat slob that he is will receive more combined ridicule for the rest of his life than the poor Star Wars kid. There's already been a mention of Jabba the Hutt.
August 24, 2003
A notebook computer would be really nice for BloggerCon in October. WiFi will be available for that day. I don't own a notebook capable of WiFi. And since I spent a whole lot of money fixing my car (it's still a bargain) I don't have much cash. Any suggestions as to the minimum specs I'd need (processor, RAM, etc.) for my searches on Half.com and eBay? How much do you guess I would have to spend? What about putting Linux on it? How difficult would installing the OS and getting WiFi working with it? Would anybody put something in a tip jar if I put one up?
August 23, 2003
CEO Drops Windows Not Ball
A bad experience with the Business Software Alliance over unlicensed software made Ernie Ball CEO Sterling Ball switch from Microsoft to open source software. His business is still standing.
This goes to show that MS doesn't have the monopoly its critics claim. Ernie Ball dumb MS and lived to tell about. The EU is set to punish MS for antitrust violations. The bureaucrats in Brussels need to read this interview.
August 20, 2003
A Blood Test is Better
Gender Genie is a joke. I entered three of my posts, and the algorithm was wrong every time.
A No Worm Zone
Glenn Reynolds and Matt Welch are getting swamped with virus/worm e-mails, yet TAM toodles along with no problems. Why this stuff happens to other people and not me, I don't know. I have plenty of protection. A firewall and anti-virus software help, and I update Windows ME whenever Microsoft tells me to. But since I'm writing about this something bad will happen to my computer. It will probably happen just when I'm about to begin my fantasy football draft that starts in less than one hour.
Here's a message to the computing gods: I'm not bragging, just making an observation.
August 10, 2003
Nintendo in Trouble?
Nintendo has stopped making new GameCubes so inventories can shrink. This may be a sign that the company may go the way of Sega and leave the console game market. (They still rule the portable market with their Game Boy.)
Also, the company wants to develop simpler games. As a modest game player, I love all the whiz-bang graphics and epic storylines of games like Final Fantasy, but I won't/don't have the time to spend 40+ hours playing. There's other media that catches my eye. I've got books to read, tv to watch, and posts to write. In addition to the games being too long, some are also hard to grasp quickly. I'm still not used to the analog controller on for my GameCube. I don't have the same discrete control playing Mario Sunshine as I did playing Super Mario Brothers. (Yes, I skipped the Super Nintendo and N64 consoles.)
I'm waiting for the next-generation Tetris--the crack cocaine of video games.
"Nintendo Stops GameCube Production"
August 08, 2003
Nicely Said, Uncle Bill
This comment pretty much sums up my feelings toward Microsoft's "horrible" monopoly:
I don't get it.
July 24, 2003
We'll Be Korea Soon
For a glimpse of what a truly wired America will look like, there's this Forbes.com article on South Korea where 70% of homes have broadband connections.
"Korea's Weird Wired World"
A Google Browser?
Anil Dash on Mozilla and Google's new business focus:
Since Google's all but announced that they're no longer "just search", I'd probably amend my qualms about lack of focus and say that if Google wants to own the entire area of information innovation, they need to be significant contributors to the evolution of Mozilla.
A browser hooked into Google sounds good. But imagine if Microsoft did something like this? There would be screaming from geeks across the globe. We would here stuff like, "That monopolist is using their brower monopoly to extend it to their other businesses. Gates must be stopped! Call your Congressman! Elliot Spitzer, file a lawsuit!" Yet that's what Anil suggests Google do.
If Google went down this path, I'd have no problem with it, just like I'd have no problem with MS doing something similar. There isn't a browser monopoly. Many different products are available and anyone can learn a programming language and write their own browser. I'll just keep this post tucked away for the next time MS does something "monopolistic."
July 22, 2003
I'm looking for suggestions on news aggregators. Feedreader is ok, but it's alpha software with lots of eccentricities. I'd think about Sharpreader but I'd have to download the .NET framework. I don't want to do that if it will end up messing up my pretty stable OS (Win ME).
July 21, 2003
Reality Meets Fantasy
"Sony Breaks Ground With New PDA"
July 18, 2003
If you don't have a TiVo, go get one. They're just that cool. If you do have one or are thinking about this wonderful bit of technology, there's PVRblog.
July 10, 2003
With its heady mix of libertarianism, modern liberalism, day-glo graphics, and in-your-face attitude (anyone remember the Push cover?) Wired was the monthly manifesto of the Digital Revolution. Reading it today at times the articles are interesting. It feels more like a travel journal of what tech is doing now instead of where it could be going. For a history of a magazine that documented it times there's Gary Wolf's new Wired: A Romance.
"Wired: Mixing Romance and Tech"
Tech Helps Gourmet Foods
Business Week has a story on how technology is allowing gourmet food makers to make more high-quality speciality items. The end results are greater availability of gourmet food while producers can make more while still retaining high standards.
"More Delicious Delicacies, Thanks to Tech"
RFID chips would be perfect for today's huge bookstores. By searching in a computer a bookseller would not only be able to check the store's inventory but also know the location of an individual book. People like me wouldn't be running around checking shelves, then tables, and then the back stock looking for a customer's misplaced order.
But privacy concerns have to be paramount. People won't want to purchase a product if they think it doubles as a tracking device. Whether companies and government can do this is irrelevant. Just the appearance would scare many--look at Europe's fears over genetically modified (GM) foods when there's been no evidence that any of it is harmful. RFID is promising but retailers have to make sure the chips are turned off after purchase.
"Wal-Mart Cancels 'Smart Shelf' Trial"
June 24, 2003
Ditch the Shuttle
The board investigating the Columbia disaster will call for NASA to make shuttles less prone to debris strikes. While this is common sense, it doesn't move pass the shuttle as an effective space vehicle. The fleet is costly and doesn't add a whole lot of value. Russia is actually engaging in space tourism while here in the U.S. we try to patch up 20-year-old shuttles. We need some outside-of-the-box thinking. Webloggers like Glenn Reynolds and Rand Simberg are big into following private space efforts. Taking advantage of these certainly wouldn't hurt, and could turn space travel into big business.
"Shuttle Must Be Toughened to Survive Debris Hits, Board Says"
"Burt Builds Your Ride to Space"
June 20, 2003
Sucking on the Pipe
While you won't notice any difference when reading TAM, it's sole editor/writer/publisher/bad marketer/mediocre evangelist--ME--is feeding from the data trough at blazing speeds. The cable guy (no, not that one) came today and set me up with broadband. Already, I've downloaded an entire Metallica concert (They may have gotten this whole Internet thing.), and I'm streaming some electronic music from Epitonic. Now, I'm wandering around looking for (legal) audio and video just to see what's out there. It's only been a few hours, and I know I'll never accept dial-up again.
June 18, 2003
I'm curious about this whole RSS thing. TAM has a feed, but I really don't know what to do with it. Also, last year I used an RSS aggregator (don't remember what one), but didn't really know what that was for either. What's the best one out there? Any advice on either question is welcome.
Magic Segway Theory
Bush's critics call him dumb and simple-minded. Yet our President found a way to liberate Iraq, break the U.N.'s monopoly on humanitarianism, shake up the international order, and show the world that France no longer is a U.S. ally.
Now, there's talk about Bush's supposed manipulation and fabrication of intelligence data to make Iraq seem more dangerous than it really was.
But this next conspiracy involves the most talked about whiz-bang tech item in years: Dean Kamen's Segway. Last week, Bush fell off a Segway. Ok, he's just a klutz. At least that's what most people would think, but not USA Today's Kevin Maney. Since "[i]t's nearly impossible to fall off a Segway," Bush's tumble must have been his way to scare off future buyers of the scooter. Bush did it to protect his oil buddies in Texas. That's what Maney thinks.
And if the future veers toward little two-wheeled electric-powered personal transporters, where does that leave ExxonMobil and Halliburton and the rest of the oil industry President Bush adores? Probably in the same sad league as the old Pennsylvania coal-mining companies, with Houston as the next Wilkes-Barre.
Maney admits mass Segway use seems "unlikely." Who's going to hop onto their scooter for their 30 mile commute going 8 miles/hour? What about when it rains? Will there be local crack downs if people start getting into accidents on sidewalks?
Maney also forgets that even if millions of people ditch their cars for Segways, they're going to have to get the electricity to power them from somewhere. Since there hasn't been a new nuclear power plant built in decades in the U.S. fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and--you guessed it--oil will have to be burned.
I wonder if Maney also thinks Bush got the NY Times to hire Jayson Blair just to destroy the reputation of the Old Grey Lady?
"President's Segway Tumble Seems a Tiny Bit Suspicious"
UPDATE: Right Wing News goes off on Kevin Maney.
"USA Today Tries To Appeal To The Kook Set"
June 13, 2003
June 02, 2003
TiVo Selling Data
TiVo has to be very careful about selling tv viewing data. They have great technology that I can't imagine living without, but if they sell out the privacy of their customers by selling personal viewing habits, then many will move to ReplayTV.
"TiVo to Sell Customer Viewing Data"
May 04, 2003
RIAA Settles with Student
"I don't believe that I did anything wrong. I am glad that the case has been settled amicably, and I hope that for the sake of artists, the larger issues can soon be resolved." That's what Daniel Peng, a Princeton University student, said in a statement after settling with the RIAA over offering copyrighted music on the campus network.
Peng just doesn't get it. First, he does have a right to listen to music he's purchased, use it based on idea of "fair use," and to legitimately share it with friends, but he doesn't have the right to give songs away willy-nilly to anyone who plugs his computer into Princeton's networks. Peng can't play innocent because on the back of just about every album is the warning against unauthorized reproduction. If he didn't like that, then he didn't have to buy it.
Second, Peng cares about the artists but forgets there's a record company also involved, and they have every much a right to try and make a profit. That doesn't mean Big Music has a right to stop or mold technological progress so they're assured of making money. That's why, at first glance, the ruling preventing the shutdown of some file-trading services is the correct decision. A piece of software can't violate rights any more than a gun sitting on a table can kill someone. Behind every tool Man creates is a person responsible for using it in a moral and ethical manner. Peng decided that since it was really easy to offer lots of music to Princeton students it was okay to do so. He could have learned an expensive lesson if he actually thought through what he was doing.
"Students Fork It Over to RIAA"
UPDATE: What I don't condone are anti-piracy measures that amount to breaking and entering a suspected computer. There are legitimate ways to defend copyrights. Breaking computers and clogging up Internet connections aren't some of them.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr goes into the deep, dark crevices of federal law to demonstrate that Big Music would be in big trouble if they attacked computers and Net connections.
April 06, 2003
RIAA Sues File Swappers
I may be the only person under the age of 30 who supports the RIAA suing students who "shared" music from their computers. The cases filed don't deal with those people who burn or e-mail a song here and there for a friend. In the case filed in Michigan, the RIAA claims a student was offering 650,000 music files. That's about 43,000 albums of music, and all of it for free. That means the artists and the "evil" (I'd call them stupid) music companies didn't get their cuts. Unlike the Napster lawsuit, these cases go to the real copyright infringers and not technology.
Some will say it serves those music bums right. They rip off consumers by selling over-priced CDs with only one or two songs that are any good. Critics may even be right, but that doesn't mean the answer is creating an intellectual property anarchy by ignoring copyright law. Think this through: just because something is easy and free to do doesn't make it morally correct. A better response to expensive albums filled with dreck is to not buy them. While the downturn in music sales hasn't seemed to knock any sense into the record companies the slump will force change or they'll cease to exist.
UPDATE: Richard Eriksson went off his illegal MP3 habit. One reason he did it is "because artists who do it for a living deserve to be paid for their creation, irregardless of how pompous the artist or crappy the music."
April 02, 2003
TiVo + Patriot = Big Brother?
From Television Week:
Under the USA Patriot Act, passed a month after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the feds can force a noncable TV operator to disclose every show you have watched. The government just has to say that the request is related to a terrorism investigation, said Jay Stanley, a technology expert for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Bummer. Now the Feds can find out about my unhealthy obsessions with Battlestar Galactica and Sportsnight.
"Is Your Television Watching You?"
March 30, 2003
Adam Osborne and His 25-Pound Computer
Adam Osborne died last week, but he won't be forgotten by me. In 1981, he invented a 22-pound portable computer. Since I was 7 when the Osborne-1 came out, what does that have to do with me? Well, that computer, along with an Epson dot-matrix printer, let me finish many research papers in high school. For my mother, that piece of computer history was even more important because it helped her get through college.
To let you know just how primative the Osborne-1 is it has a small 5 inch screen, but you could also connect a larger monitor to it. A hard drive was non-existent. Two floppy drives (5.25 inch, not the War Games-sized floppies) provided storage, but at least that beat the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A's need for a cassette player. For an operating system, the Osborne uses CP/M instead of DOS, and WordStar is the word processor that came with the computer.
My mother will consider serious offers for her Osborne-1. If any computer collector is interested, leave a comment or e-mail me.
"Adam Osborne, Portable Computer Pioneer, Dead at 64"
"Portable Computer Pioneer Osborne Dies"
Here are more pictures.