Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why hasn't Vista sold well?

Marco Arment on the disappointing (well, disappointing to Microsoft) adoption rate of Windows Vista.

When we tell them that the new OS is faster and better, only to have the upgrade break a piece of software that we don’t care about but they really do, we burn our likelihood that they’ll ever willingly upgrade again. Every time we tell them that they can now easily edit video or make DVDs, only to have them abandon their first effort in frustration and never attempt it again because our software sucks, we drive them closer to indifference or resentment toward future technology.

So when our nontechnical aunts refuse to upgrade from their Pentium III PCs with Windows 98 that work well enough for them and are set up exactly how they prefer, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

The upgrade market for average PC owners is dead. We killed it.

It's not just "average" users – I consider myself to be above average (I used to fix computers for a living) and my auxiliary (i.e. non-Mac) laptop still runs Windows XP. The vast majority of software I care about still supports it, so why switch?

There's another reason for Vista's non-adoption rate that Arment doesn't mention – the ridiculously high number of different versions of the product. There are four different editions of the product (Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate), ranging in price from $200 - $320. Asking the "average" user to make that decision is practically planning to fail. Don't even get me started on Service Packs.

Read - Why hasn't Vista sold well?.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Joy of Tech


Friday, August 28, 2009

New version of Things - Finally!

picI've been waiting for a new version of to-do manager Things for a while now; though I love the look & feel of Things and especially the iPhone sync support, it drives me a little nuts that the performance was so wonky. The application would hang a bit and become unresponsive from the main window (though I could always quit from the dock menu), and the window would sometimes turn completely blank (white).

Hopefully all of these things have been fixed with the new release of Things 1.2. We'll see.

There have been some complaints that Things doesn't properly integrate with the "Getting Things Done" style of working – in other words, it doesn't really let you create prioritized lists of tasks within a project and then display the "next" items on those lists, but I think it's headed that direction. I've been tempted in the past to move to something simpler like TaskPaper, but for now I'm going to stick with Things.

(As an aside, TaskPaper has evolved remarkably in the last year or so. Watching the screencast makes me realize that it is becoming an ever-more powerful application and might soon become a contender if Things' performance doesn't shape up.)


Thursday, July 30, 2009

NetNewsWire to sync with Google Reader


An interesting bit of news today, at least for me and other people who use NetNewsWire to read their RSS feeds. NewsGator, the company that owns NetNewswire, will shut down its own web-based feed reader in favor of Google Reader. NewsGator's web-based reader was also the mechanism via which NetNewsWire synced between platforms (say, NNW on your Mac vs. NNW on your iPhone).

It's a mildly interesting development (and one that was frequently requested by users), but to me it feels too late to be of much impact. Nowadays my news comes more often from Twitter than RSS, and I've moved my RSS feeds over to a personal installation of Fever. Fever's detection of high-interest items is exactly what RSS reading has been lacking. I dig it. It also has an elegant (if quirky) iPhone interface. The only reason for me to hang on to NetNewsWire is to be able to read feeds offline, and how often does that happen anymore?

I suspect NNW will lose some users as a result of this, but will probably gain more in the bargain. This will also be an opportunity for alternative desktop & web-based RSS readers like Bloglines and Newsfire to gain new users as the migration generally shakes things up.

I'll upgrade to the latest version of NNW on both platforms and move my feeds over to Google Reader for syncing, but I have a feeling it will be idle most of the time. Ah, well. The world changes.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Crawford" & "Visioneers" just 99 cents each on Amazon VOD

Here's an evening of entertainment for under two bucks. Crawford and Visioneers are two great films and Amazon's renting them on their VOD system for just 99 cents each. Yes, I do work for the distributor but I wouldn't steer you wrong on this. Check them out.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Twitter in plain English

So when your grandma asks you "What's Twitter?" you'll know how to explain it to her.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Photos from new iPhone 3G S camera


There are some pretty amazing things going on with the new 3-megapixel camera in the latest generation iPhone. With images this good, it's only the lack of a flash that will keep me from leaving my pocket Canon camera at home. We are perilously close to the all-in-one cell-phone/pocket camera that really serves all needs.

Check out the rest of mezzoblue's iPhone 3G S field test.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

D-Box motion seats - a review


Over at Slackerwood I've posted a quick review of the new D-Box motion seats that provide a new and moving (har) experience at the cinema. Frankly I think this is more exciting than 3-D projection but you'll have to decide for yourself when D-Box rolls into your town. So far only two theatrical releases have been given the D-Box treatment: Fast and Furious and Terminator: Salvation.

Read the review at Slackerwood.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Bento 2

BentoI really like the idea of Bento, a personal, inexpensive database program that runs locally on your Mac. (As opposed to a personal database program that runs on the web – dabbleDB is the winner there.) Filemaker's Bento looks like the winner, and I've been using the first version of the software to perform light database tasks for the last few months.

A little less than a year later, Filemaker has released Bento 2, which looks like a solid update with some much called-for features (direct import of Excel spreadsheets for one) but the results, especially for migrating Bento 1 users, seem to be less than spectacular. Reports of scrambled database forms, slow launch times, and failed database upgrades have the Filemaker support team hopping – and since migrating users pay the same as brand new users (usually existing users of software can count on an upgrader's discount), emotions are running high.

I think I'll stick with Bento 1 until the kinks are worked out of the successor.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fox releases X-Files branded iPods


Isn't this a few years too late? I haven't heard great things about the movie, but I suppose the X-Files fan base is strong enough to lap up a few of these puppies. Unfortunately the markup is about $100 just for the branding.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Apple announces 3G iPhone and "Mobile Me" service

picVia MacRumors:
The heavily rumored 3G iPhone was announced today during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference Keynote.

- 3G-capable. 2.8 times faster than EDGE.
- GPS built-in
- Thinner
- Better battery life - 300 hours of standby, 2G talk-time 10 hours (as opposed to 5), 5 hours of 3G talk-time (competition is 3 hour 3G talk time), 5 to 6 hours of high-speed browsing, 7 hours of video, 24 hours of audio.
- flush headphone jack

Pricing and Availability
The iPhone 3G will be available July 11th in 22 countries for $199 for 8 GB and $299 for 16 GB. The 16 GB model also comes in white.

Apple also announced "Mobile Me," which they're billing as "[Microsoft] Exchange for the rest of us." Basically, it's real-time sync of your personal data (contacts, calendar entries, etc) across your phone, laptop, etc.

With a price point of just $200, the only real stumbling block to getting an iPhone (other than the goofy "I like hard buttons" complaint) would be that you don't want to be beholden to AT&T.

See more at Apple's web site.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Pssssst! You hear that?

picYou hear that distant rumbling?

That's the sound of the internet going insane as another Apple product announcement keynote speech approaches. The 2008 Apple World Wide Developer's Conference starts tomorrow and rumors of next-generation iPhones with video chat and faster data connections are flying furiously. Personally I'm just looking forward to the new applications that will be available now that Apple has opened the iPhone to 3rd-party software development.

Can't be in San Francisco with the other Mac faithful for the speech? Now there's an official podcast from Apple that will automatically download the keynote videos for you after the fact.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

First evening with the Netflix Roku box

Netflix Roku box
Originally uploaded by stomptokyo

Last night Christina and I hooked up our new Netflix Roku box, which allows us to finally take advantage of the Netflix "Watch It Now" program. About 10% of the titles on Netflix are available to watch as streaming video for no additional cost on top of your regular DVD rental subscription. I'd never really used it before because it only worked with Windows PCs. Not only is my primary laptop a Mac (and I never could get it to work with my Windows XP machine), but I dislike watching video on my laptop for more than a few minutes. When I want to watch a movie or TV show, I want to take advantage of my couch and the nice TV set sitting in front of it.

Enter the Roku box, which hooks up to your TV and streams the video from your Netflix account over your wireless (or wired) home network. You have to add movies to your "instant watch" queue on your computer before they show up as selections on your Roku box, but I actually prefer it that way. Once you select a program, it takes about a minute to spin up the show and then you're watching. Since it's streaming, network interruptions could result in video stutters or straight-up stoppages. Over the 90 minutes or so that we watched a couple of different TV show episodes ("A&E Biography" and the pilot of the original "Battlestar Galactica"), however, we never noticed so much as a blip. Video quality varies depending on the speed of your network, but even though we got the medium-quality stream (2 pips out of 4 on the little quality meter that pops up), it looked more than passable. Better than Tivo's "basic" recording quality, and we watch TV at that quality all the time.

Setup was dead simple -- plug into TV, plug into wall, follow on screen instructions. I was done in about 10 minutes, including a system software update. It was the most painless install I've done of a home theater component ever.

There are a few minor down sides, but I don't think they're deal breakers by any means. First, it's yet another box to hook up to your TV. But given the plethora of hookups most TVs come with these days that's less of a problem than it once was. Adding to the clutter problem, I can also see a time when I'm going to want to run an ethernet cable over to the TV to get higher quality video -- especially if HD content (which the box can handle) becomes available.

The Roku box's biggest problem is the dearth of content, which is annoying but not insurmountable. About 10% of the titles on Netflix are available on Watch it Now, and Netflix conveniently scans your DVD queue for the titles that are available to watch instantly. (You'll have to manage the queue of things you've seen manually so that you don't end up with a DVD in your mailbox that you've already seen on the Roku box.) The biggest rebuttal to this problem so far is that there's a ton of great TV content, including recent shows like Weeds and 30 Rock and classics like The Dick Van Dyke Show and a bunch of vintage Doctor Who episodes. If you've ever watched a series all the way through on DVD, devouring episodes like candy, the Roku box is for you. The ability to take a chance on something -- and bail consequence-free if it sucks -- is liberating. What's this? Knight Rider and The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries?

For more on the Roku box, check out David Pogue's review in the New York Times.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Best reason to use NetNewsWire ever

My schedule hasn't allowed me to do much casual blog-surfing lately; I've been restricted to hitting Daring Fireball about once a day and reading 2 or 3 of the more important industry news blogs at work. The authors of my varied RSS feeds, meanwhile, have been dutifully pumping information and entertainment into the blogosphere, which NetNewsWire collects for me.

The difference between NetNewsWire and a reader like Bloglines or Google Reader, however, is that NetNewsWire keeps all that info cached on my laptop. (NNW syncs with NewsGator, so if I want to read on the web or on my iPhone, I can do that too.) When I'm thirty thousand feet in the air and completely cut off from the net, I can still catch up on my blog reading. And since I'm out of phone and email range, I really don't have anything better to do. Sheer bliss.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blue Jeans Cable Strikes Back - Response to Monster Cable — Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News

This response to a cease and desist letter from Monster Cable makes me want to spend money with Blue Jeans Cable -- and I don't even need any home stereo cabling right now. Never has a company been more aptly named: Monster has been ripping people off with grossly overpriced cabling for years and threatening capricious legal action against their competitors. What they didn't know is that Kurt Denke, the president of Blue Jeans, is a former attorney. Here's my favorite passage from the letter he wrote back to Monster.

I am "uncompromising" in the most literal sense of the word. If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a dollar of unmerited settlement funds. As for signing a licensing agreement for intellectual property which I have not infringed: that will not happen, under any circumstances, whether it makes economic sense or not.

In context of the entire letter's it is easy to see that Denke is a reasonable person, and that (at the very least) Monster is half-assing their cease-and-desist efforts. Read the entire letter ("Blue Jeans Cable Strikes Back") over at Audioholics, it's a hoot.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sprint pay incentives aim to slow cancellations

Mobile phone company Sprint Nextel, fighting to retain customers, is changing employee bonus plans to double the importance of stopping cancellations, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed on Tuesday.

Sprint treated me so badly that I paid a good amount of money just to be rid of them. Comparatively, AT&T (whose corporate logo used to be called the Death Star as a joking reference to their monolithic presence and evil customer service) has been a dream. Their cell service and their customer service are miles better than Sprint, so I'm not at all surprised that customers are kicking Sprint to the curb in droves. They deserve it.

Read Sprint pay incentives aim to slow cancellations | Tech News on ZDNet.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Gear: SkullCandy Ink'd Earbuds

SkullcandyI have traditionally eschewed earbuds for over-the-ear headphones. Earbuds never seem to fit my ears and I spend half my time repositioning the damn things when they fall out. Headphones, on the other hand, are awkward to carry around, can be uncomfortable in Texas heat, and never provide quite the sound isolation I'm looking for in a pair of really good earbuds. Not wanting to shell out a hundred bucks or more for high end earbuds, however, I opted to suffer in headphone land. Until now.

I'm not sure why I thought these SkullCandy Ink'd earbuds might work for me, but I was attracted by the shiny metal accents and the iPhone-compatible jack connector. (One of the great frustrations of owning an iPhone is that it is incompatible with 99% of the headphone/earbud products on the market by dint of its recessed input jack.) The price ($15) seemed right, though, so I took a gamble. It was only after opening the packaging that I realized the genius inherent in these deceptively stylish earbuds. The silicone earpieces are replaceable and come in several sizes. I'd seen similar adjustable earbuds in the Jabra line of telephone headsets and in high-end stereo products, but not in discount earbuds.

So I thought to myself -- am I a large? a medium? a small? And then I realized -- my ears could be different sizes, and that's why no one set of earbuds ever seemed to fit right.

Sure enough, my left ear snugly fits a small earpiece, and my right ear takes a medium. Now I have a great fitting pair of earbuds that completely block out exterior noise (just ask my office mate) and deliver great sound at a ridiculously low price. I'm going to by a few more pairs to guard against loss or damage. Products this good tend to disappear, so git while the gittin's good is my thinking.

I'm fully aware that I could be completely unaware of similarly great products, so check out Ink'd Earbuds on Amazon and tell me about your favorite headphones/earbuds in the comments.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses

Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders. This decision has been made following recent major changes in the market. Toshiba will continue, however, to provide full product support and after-sales service for all owners of Toshiba HD DVD products.

So now the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray format war is "officially" over, since Toshiba was the loudest cheerleader for the HD-DVD format. I must say I'm a bit surprised that the conflict collapsed as quickly and as neatly as it did; the VHS/Betamax war apparently lasted over a decade, and the high-def DVD clash has only been going since 2005. I suppose we can chalk it up to the pressure-cooker of public opinion that is the Internet and some smart lawyering on the parts of the studios. Warner Bros' decision to jump ship and support Blu-Ray exclusively was, undeniably, the crucial piece that brought the HD-DVD consortium's corporate Jenga game crashing down. Impressively, the industry saw the writing on the wall along with the rest of us and the losing format closed shop in under six weeks.

So ends what could posibly the last of the major format wars. Since it's likely that movies will be delivered by online means in the near future, I wonder if another physical format will ever gain traction. Will we carry our favorite movies around on thumb drives?

Read - Toshiba Announces Discontinuation of HD DVD Businesses.


Friday, February 15, 2008

OK, I think we can call it over. Blu-Ray wins.

PS3Netflix, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart have all announced that they will cease to support HD-DVD as a viable format in the near future.

I myself bought a Playstation 3 about two weeks ago after learning that it supports certain streaming media protocols that I happen to use. Between the Blu-Ray movies, the support for streaming video, photos, and music, and the PS3 games, it is such a great all-around entertainment box that I'm a little stunned that it was made by Sony. Too bad it isn't backwards compatible with the PS2 games . . . .

Also, too bad that the format we're stuck with has such a dumb name. Better than "Betamax," I suppose, but still not great.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

How we know who's really won the format war: The Blu-ray makeup line | The Social - CNET

HD DVD, just in case you didn't get the word, you're toast. The cosmetics industry says so, and would like to blow you a high-definition kiss goodbye. Mwah.

Well, sort of. Cargo Cosmetics has launched a new line called Blu_ray, designed for makeup artists who need to adapt to high-definition cameras.

Read "How we know who's really won the format war" on


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Apple Adds New iPhone & iPod touch Models


The iPhone now comes in two flavors: 16 gigabytes for $499, 8GB for $399, and the iPod Touch now has a 16GB model for $399 and 8GB for $299.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Facebook status updates.


Sometimes they're funnier than they're intended to be.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Couldn't Make this Stuff Up Dept.

Windows Vista requires a help file to open the box.

[Via Daring Fireball]

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NetNewsWire is now free. As in beer.

I've been a paying user of NetNewsWire for years, and this is great news -- parent company Newsgator is releasing all of its consumer level products (including the online version and the Windows-based FeedDemon) completely free of charge. If you're not using a newsreader to keep up with your favorite blogs and other regularly-updating sites, you no longer have an excuse. The very best products in this realm are now free. (I don't have any experience with FeedDemon, but I'm assuming it's on par with NNW.)

I use NetNewsWire for my serious feed reading (in combination with MarsEdit for posting to my various blogs) and the iPhone-optimized version of NewsGator, which stays in sync with NetNewsWire, for my idle away-from-my-Mac blog surfing. It's an ideal combination, it saves me a ton of time, and now I don't even have to shell out every year or so for the privilege.

Download NetNewsWire 3.1 for free.

(Via Daring Fireball.)


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Warner adopts Blu-Ray; Paramount to follow suit?

A little over a month ago I wrote that I was keeping out of the hi-def DVD format wars for a while, but that if I had to make a choice I'd probably go with Blu-Ray. Looks like my instincts were good as Warner Bros. announced last Friday that it would be releasing its films exclusively in the Blu-Ray format. (For those catching up, Sony was one of the major players in the consortium that created the Blu-Ray format and Toshiba appears to be heading up the rival HD-DVD format.)

Industry analysts are falling all over themselves to predict the end of the format war -- I think everyone (except perhaps the HD-DVD consortium) wants a quick end to this one, but it doesn't seem over quite yet. There were an awful lot of HD-DVD players sold at deep discount this Christmas, and a large number of PS3 systems (which have Blu-Ray players built in) out there as well.

The player to watch at this point seems to be Paramount Pictures, which famously took a $150 million payoff to declare its exclusive commitment to Toshiba's format back in August. Just four months later, however, rumors have it that Paramount may have an escape clause in that contract that permits it to abandon that position in the event that Warner commits to Blu-Ray -- which of course, it just did.

I'm still planning to bide my time and wait for a price drop on the PS-3 (and hopefully they'll figure out the whole backwards-compatibility thing in the meantime), but it's looking good for those folks who chose Blu-Ray as their high definition DVD format. Stay tuned.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Warner caves in, will sell tunes without copy protection

In today's Austin Statesman, a story about Warner's announcement that it will sell unprotected MP3s of its entire catalog, at first only through

In February, when Apple CEO Steve Jobs penned an essay calling on record labels to drop Digital Rights Management from tracks sold on the company's iTunes Store, (Warner chair Edgar) Bronfman shot back during a conference call with Wall Street analysts: "We will not abandon DRM nor services that are successfully implementing DRM for both content and consumers."

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Panic releases CandyBar 3

CandyBar and Pixadex have long been the icon customization tools of choice for users of the Mac. The latest version of CandyBar combines the two tools into one application, which is supercool to say the least. It also integrates support for OS X 10.5's new 512x512 icons (can they really be called icons with that many pixels?) and allows customization of the much-maligned Dock as well. I'll be happy to see my active applications once more indicated with the familiar little triangles instead of glowing spots of light.

Gedeon Mayheux of the Iconfactory (the company behind Pixadex) supplies a video demo of the new application below. Doctor Who fans will want to stick around until the end.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Eyeclops Bionic Eye

eyeclopsI've seen microscopes that hook up to your computer via USB, but this looks like fun too -- a 200x microscope that hooks up directly to your TV. There's less utility in the Eyeclops version since you can only hook it up to your TV and you can't capture images without the computer. A computer version used with a laptop be more portable as well. But more people probably have big TVs they could attach to this gadget for some spontaneous, casual examinations of everyday objects at a bug's eye view.

$40 at Amazon.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Make mine Blu-Ray: the state of the hi-def DVD format wars

HD DVD vs Blu-Ray

Recently my partner in crime Scott purchased one of those insanely cheap $100 HD-DVD players, and as far as I can tell he's happy with it. But when making my own decision about which side of the idiotic format war to come down upon, I think I've made my decision in the opposite direction.

For the moment, to be honest, I'm staying out of the race entirely. My life is cluttered enough with insane home theater technology and entertainment opportunities galore; to my eyes standard-definition TV on my 27-inch flat panel LCD still looks pretty good and regular DVDs look great. Netflix and my Tivo keep me stocked on things to watch. I can afford to wait a year or more before even thinking about it, which is great because prices are only going to drop and there's even the remote possibility that one format or the other will flare out in the interim.

But in the event that this format war is still going on when I decide to drop some money on a hi-def player (and I suspect that it will be), I'm pretty sure my player of choice will be a Playstation 3, which of course supports Sony's Blu-Ray format. Here, in no particular order, are my reasons:

1. Combined game console and hi-def player. Given that a low-end PS3 has a Blu-Ray DVD player built in and costs less than most standalone Blu-Ray machines, why wouldn't I want to combine these two purchases? Of course, that assumes that I actually want to play some PS3 games. The PS2 has one of the largest game libraries in the world (if not the largest) and it's a fair bet that the PS3 will follow suit. To make this argument really stick I should have an actual title in mind, though, which brings me to reason #2...

2. Ratchet and Clank Future. The Ratchet and Clank series was, in my humblest of opinions, the best set of games yet created on a non-Nintendo console. You can keep your Halos and your Grand Theft Autos -- the R&C games are funny, action-packed, and challenging without being too challenging. They also don't require a commitment of an hour or more when you just want to sit down for a few minutes and blow some stuff up. When R&C Future: Tools of Destruction was announced for the PS3, my fate was sealed -- eventually, I'll be spending some quality time with that console.

3. Disney. Do I really need to say more? With a toddler at home and a wife who adores both classic Disney and contemporary Pixar releases, Disney's announcement of support for Blu-Ray makes the format a no-brainer. That's not to say that Disney wouldn't jump ship and put their movies out on HD-DVD if the market rejected Blu-Ray, but when Disney comes out in support of a format it can only have positive effects. I'm not eager to replace our collection of dozens of Disney DVDs, but the idea of watching A Bug's Life in high definition does have a certain attraction.

4. Whither goest the adult movie industry? At first I figured I had a good line on this one, with the reports I was reading online indicating that the porn industry was going with Blu-Ray. One of the big "lessons" to come out of the Betamax/VHS wars was that the porn industry can be a good indicator of technological trends. Unfortunately the literature on this one is all over the place. No one can seem to agree on which format the industry favors -- if the industry as a whole can be said to favor either. There are some nasty rumors that Blu-Ray manufacturers are refusing to replicate adult videos, just as Betamax manufacturers did back in the day. If true, it could mean history repeating itself. Or not. (See update below.)

5. To my mind, Sony is less evil than Microsoft. I've owned a number of Sony products I quite liked. I can't say that for Microsoft, unless you count the xBox I use solely as a hacked video player. It's kind of a weak reason, but when my porn argument fell apart I felt like I should come up with something else.

In the end such rumination is mostly guesswork and as consumers we're all just taking shots in the dark about what constitutes a sound decision. This is probably one of the last physical format wars that will actually matter -- if even this one matters. Digital distribution of films is going to make all of this hand-wringing a moot point. Until that day, however, I think we're looking at a two-format world and the need for some good hybrid players to help us live in it.

Update: Here's a little video that sums up the fears of the HD-DVD conglomerate. It could just as easily go the other way, of course, but the Blu-Ray proponents got to YouTube first.

And another update: Check out this video from C|NET about the whole porn thing. Looks like it's still a wash from the industry's perspective, though HD-DVD seems to have a slight edge. You can see the follow-up segment to this one here.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tivo offers lifetime subscriptions again - temporarily

tivologoMy sister, knowing my devotion to all things Tivo, sent me this link to this Engadget blog post:

Call it a quick holiday cash-in targeted at current TiVo owners if you must, but you're not about to kill our buzz about the fact that TiVo's resurrecting the greatly missed Product Lifetime Service (aka lifetime subscription) for Series3 and HD owners -- temporarily, anyway, and for realsies this time. As of today -- but only through January 2nd, 2008 -- current TiVo owners can upgrade their Series2 to a Series3 or HD with lifetime, or simply upgrade the service on their current S3 / HD -- equipment aside, the service will set you back $399.

Tempting, but for some reason I'm just really slow to jump on the HD bandwagon. I think it's the lack of funds to pay for things like HD-ready Tivos and digital HDTV service. (We currently pay $15 a month for basic cable service - HD channels would be many times that.) HD will probably come to my house in the form of a cheap hi-def DVD player first (the jury's still out on HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray in my book), or maybe an Apple TV if they decide to start offering high definition movies for rent. Until then, we'll watch the same old regular definition shows that have been serving man since TV began.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WGA strikers use YouTube to tell their side of the story

Brilliant, really. I wonder if the execs will clue in and try to set up an opposing YouTube channel. And if they do, who will write their videos for them?

Check out the other videos on the WGA YouTube Channel.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Outsourced Brain - New York Times

David Brooks describes how he "outsources" knowledge to technology in this piece: The Outsourced Brain. I completely identify with the bit about using GPS as a crutch, but it totally works.

(Via Daring Fireball.)


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Palm Centro: Too Little, Way Too Late


If Palm had introduced this little smartphone a year ago, I would probably have been over the moon -- actual advances on their Treo technology (instant messaging software with support for MSN, Yahoo, and AIM?!) in a sporty new shell, and all for a hundred bucks. It's aimed squarely at the mass market, those folks who live on SMS and AIM but have never owned anything remotely approaching a Blackberry. I have a feeling, however, that it's all going to amount to a hill o'beans.

Yes, because of the iPhone. The iPhone lured me away from Palm (I've been a loyal Treo user for five years or more) and didn't even have to try to lure me away from Sprint. Hell, Sprint practically pushed me away by "upgrading" my broken phone to a different model which required a new, more expensive data plan. Paying the early termination fees to break my contract seemed like a bargain just to be shut of the nation's most arrogant cell phone carrier. Sprint's customer service was so deplorable I practically kicked my heels together upon crossing the threshold of the Apple Store.

But Sprint's crappy service isn't the reason that I think the Centro comes too late to the party. I just can't imagine that anyone, having seen the future of honest-to-god, uncrippled email and web surfing on a cell phone, would be satisfied with the half-assed experience that the Palm operating system provides in comparison. No, you can't install your own programs on the iPhone (yet). But the myriad of web sites I can get to from anywhere I'm likely to be are more than replacement for the tip calculator and password storage program I lost when I made the leap.

There are a million little niggly points you could bring up when comparing the two phones, but let's try to stick to the big picture: technology choices are about user experience and utility, and the iPhone has it all over the Treo/Centro phones when it comes to that. Yeah, it's $300 more, but I think you get your money's worth. I hope for Palm's sake that the Centro is a success and that somehow they rededicate themselves to advancing the state of portable computing, instead of rehashing a decades-old operating system. But even if they do have something interesting to say in the future, they'll have to fight pretty hard to get me to listen.

Oh, by the way, David Pogue has a review of the Centro on the New York Times.

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