Wednesday, August 31, 2005

What is Ojos?

I was ranging around today for alternative photo sharing sites and ran across this post on the business2blog about a service called Ojos (means “eyes” in English) that is supposed to launch soon.  Apparently Ojos uses facial recognition to help you tag your digital photos, which is really cool.  You tag one photo with a person’s face in it, and Ojos will allow you to search your photo library for other pictures that have the same person in them.  Think of this as the consumer version of the fancy facial recognition software the casinos and Homeland Security use (yes, I realize that those systems work in real-time off of video images, but this is still damn cool).

Can’t wait to try it out once the service launches.

Out of ideas?

You might want to check out Idea Generation Methods, which lists all kinds of ways to generate ideas (in alphabetical order, no less) and provides hyperlinks to resources on individual methods.

Blog Day

Here are my 5 suggestions:

  1. VentureBlog
  2. Paul Allen: Internet Entrepreneur
  3. the [non]billable hour
  4. Journalisimo
  5. Wireless Wonders

All of the blogs above provide interesting information in many different areas.


If you are a Winamp user . . .

. . . you might want to check this out.  Yes, it is a leak of Winamp 5.1, and among the new feature set, according to the link, are the following:

  • 5.1 surround sound
  • 8X CDR ripping (on the free version)
  • AACPlus encoder

Did I mention you can download it here or here?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Test Drive

Mac Mini test drive

Enough said.

Great manifesto by Tom Peters

The name of it is “Tomato TomA[h]to” and you can download it right here.  Some pearls from the manifesto:

They say “built to last.”
I say “Built to Soar.  We’re all dead in the long run . . . live your Insane Fantasy.  Devil take the hindmost.”

They say “Eighty hour weeks will kill you.”
I say “Work 35–hour weeks and the Chinese will kill you.”

They say “Install cost controls with teeth.”
I say “Ha. Ha. Ha.  Blow Up the existing enterprise and start with a Clean Sheet of Paper.”

They say “We can’t all be a Brand.”
I say “Why not?”

They say “Radical change takes a decade.”
I say “Radical change takes a Minute.”

Lots more like that above — read the manifesto.

Opera's 10th Anniversary

Go join the party and get yourself free registration codes for all operating system versions of Opera — get your codes while they last!

Just let me talk!

You’ve got to watch this clip from CNN Daybreak this morning.

Lego Factory

Download the Lego Design Studio, and you can design your own Lego object that you can send to Lego and have them ship you the pieces to build.

Yes, that’s all pretty cool, but has anyone tried to do this with their company logo?

National Disc Warranty

Before I even post about this let me just say that I do not own a video game console (XBox, PS2, etc.), all of my CDs have been ripped and transferred to iTunes and my various iPods, and I watch probably 60% of movies on DirecTV.  Ok, so with all that in mind, here I go:

According to this post on Popgadget, will sell you a policy for $59.99 per year that will replace or repair your damaged CDs, DVDs, or game discs within 3–5 days of a claim.  Reading through the FAQs this seems like it would be a good investment if you listen to a lot of CDs or watch a lot of DVDs — you would have to have 5 CDs a year (at an average cost of $12 each) repaired or 3 DVDs a year (at an average cost of $20 per DVD) repaired to make the service worthwhile.  However, if you own a game console and a lot of games, this service seems like it would be an extremely worthwhile investment with the average cost of a PS2 or XBox game being around $40.  I haven’t seen pricing on the games for XBox 360 or PS3, but I would imagine they will be in the $40–$60 range once those systems are released, and with the amount of data that they will be backing on the game discs, a small scratch could really ruin your investment.

My guess is that Discwarranty’s business model is based on an anticipated relatively high percentage of reparable discs or is based on the assumption that most subscribers will have replacement requests that are less than what they spend annually.  Also, it is important to note that nowhere on the Discwarranty site does it say that you will receive a brand-new, factory-sealed replacement disc — yes, that means that you will most likely receive a “refurbished” disc if they have to replace it.

What's your level of urgency?

From this post by Seth Godin:

Urgent issues are easy to address. They are the ones that get everyone in the room for the final go-ahead. They are the ones we need to decide on right now, before it's too late.

Smart organizations ignore the urgent. Smart organizations understand that important issues are the ones to deal with. If you focus on the important stuff, the urgent will take care of itself.

My guess is that your organization does not ignore the urgent.  Furthermore, I would guess that your organization always deals with the urgent.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a simple way to check:  When your company processes an invoice, does it pay on the day it’s due or does it take advantage of net terms?  Here are some other ways to check from Seth’s post:

  • Do senior people at your company refuse to involve themselves in decisions until the last minute?
  • Do meetings regularly get canceled because something else came up?
  • Is waiting until the last minute the easiest way to get a final decision from your peers?

Lots of people love to use the saying “If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.” — do people in your company say this?

So what’s the big lesson here?  This is simple and you’ve probably heard it before; from Seth:

You will succeed in the face of change when you make the difficult decisions first.

Difficult decisions are usually cheaper at the outset than they are at the last minute, but you have to have the balls to make the difficult decisions quickly.

What do restaurants do with used oil?

Well, if you are Glass Nickel Pizza, you filter your 240 gallons per month of waste oil and use it to power your diesel delivery vehicles.  See the full story here.

I wonder how many cars per month a single McDonald’s could power.

Apple iPod battery settlement

If you qualify for the class-action settlement, you can get instructions and the claim for right here; claims must be received 2 years after the date of purchase of your affected iPod or by September 30, 2005, whichever is later.

Watch OSX boot and run on a Sony Vaio

Right here.

Sprint/Nextel day one

With everything I’ve been able to find it appears that Day One for the combined Sprint/Nextel entity will be September 2, 2005.  According to all of the documentation I’ve been able to find, the following will occur on Day One:

  • Current Sprint PCS subscribers will be able to switch to a Nextel plan with no early termination fees, but a 2 year contract extension will be required.
  • Current Nextel subscribers will be able to switch to a Sprint PCS plan with no early termination fees, but a 2 year contract extension will be required.
  • Because the billing systems will not be totally integrated, a number port will still have to take place when switching between Sprint and Nextel or Nextel and Sprint.
  • Currently existing plans for each company will be available for either service.  For example, there should be Free Incoming plans for Sprint PCS and Fair and Flexible plans should be available for Nextel.
  • There will be a $5 buy-up that allows free mobile-to-mobile between Sprint and Nextel services.
  • Sprint plans to support the iDen (Nextel) network through 2010.
  • There were not Initially be interoperability between Nextel PTT and Sprint ReadyLink.
  • Dual network (CDMA and iDen) handsets are expected, but will not be available for at least 6 months.
  • Nextel Retail Stores and Sprint Retail stores will sell both services and hardware for both services.
  • Certain rate plans will have scaled pricing based on when you want your night minutes to start.

See this thread on IdenInsider for scans of all the new rate plans.  More information available here on Howard Forums.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Rosetta Stone

I’ve been looking into learning some other languages.  In middle school and high school I took Spanish every year, so that was 6 years of Spanish; some of it has stuck with me and I can make myself understood and if I spend a week in Mexico, I remember a lot more and become even more fluent.  All of that said, it would be nice to brush up on my skills in Spanish, and I also have some amount of desire to learn a Middle Eastern language like Arabic.

Someone recommended Rosetta Stone as a great place to start with self-taught language lessons.  Looking at the pricing, I can spend either $195 for the Level 1 and $225 for the Level 2 Spanish CD-Roms, or just $49.95 per month or $149.95 for 6 months for internet access to the same lessons.  Obviously the internet access seems to be the best deal, but then I do not retain the CDs to be able to use in the future.

Has anyone used the Rosetta Stone system?  If so, did you buy the CDs or do the online version?  If you did not use Rosetta Stone, did you use someone else, and why?

Any comments are appreciated.

What do you want from the next version of Office?

I hadn’t really thought too much about it, but Olivier Travers has some very specific things he wants in this post.  From the post:

  • Seamless integration between Excel on the frontend and an online relational database on the backend.  And I'm not talking about just connecting Excel to some SQL source and browse it remotely (a feature I've been using once in a while), because this starts from the assumption someone created a SQL database in the first place. What I want is an internet application with a desktop frontend, with a choice of providers you can plug into, just like you can source other hosting services. The whole "internet Excel stack" should automagically normalize and synchronize the pseudo database work that most people do with it. And if it looks and tastes like a bunch of names and addresses, I should likewise be able to read/write/synch them through Outlook contacts. Wikify/blogify Outlook Today to have a mini-portal to point people to stuff and keep them on the same page (put that stuff on the private web too), and we're all set.
  • ASP service as a priority, not a half-baked afterthought.
  • No extra client install on top of the latest default MS Office install.
  • Make it as much backwards compatible as possible.
  • No crap that just doesn't happen to work on Office Mac.
  • No glue grunt work necessary on my end to make the magic happen.
  • Data entry starts with Excel and Outlook.
  • Data goes into tidy, secure, backed-up server heaven by wizard magic.
  • Integrated basic wiki/blog/portal.
  • No butterfly, no dog, no silly animal whatsoever.
  • Even shorter: no server, no install, no programming.
  • Get back to your end-user roots, drop the full-time IT department requirement mindset, and charge a tax to your product and marketing teams every time they use the word "deploy". While you're at it, drop silly names such as "Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003" . . . really this should be how Office works out of the box.

I have a few of my own additions:

  • Make Outlook work as well with Exchange as it does any other mail protocol.
  • Exchange should provide as much value whether accessed by IMAP, POP3, OWA, or any other method.  For that matter, all of the previously-mentioned methods should be secure enough out of the box to make even the most security-conscious IS person perfectly happy.
  • The Mac version should look and act exactly the same as the Windows version.  If you are not going to provide the functionality in the first bullet above, then this must include Exchange access.  If you don’t think this is important, pull your head out of the sand and realize that Apple is planning on making OSX work on Intel machines.
  • X1–type features should be built into every application out-of-the-box.  When I pull up the Find dialog in any application, searching within a document should be the tightest scope in a list of options that go right up to searching the company intranet and the internet.
  • Figure out how to make the installation smaller.  If I could fit Office and all of its components onto a USB drive and everything worked correctly while leaving no footprints on the machine I plug the drive into, I might just get rid of my laptop.
  • Create a Linux version — there will be lots more people using Linux in the future.
  • Integrate with OpenOffice.  If you do not acknowledge and embrace OpenOffice, it may very well kill your product.  Does this mean you will have to embrace open standards or open up your proprietary standards?  Yes!
  • Open up the PST standard or start having e-mails stored in the MBOX format.  Yep, it’s that open standard thing again.

I’m sure there’s more, but between Olivier’s and my list, that’s a lot to start from.


I stumbled across this site called Pandora, which was created by the Music Genome Project.  Essentially you type in the name of an artist that you like listening to, and they play songs by that artist and other artists that sound similar.  The first 10 hours of the service are free and then it’s $36 per month after that.  Pandora works through your browser, so there’s no reason that you couldn’t use it everywhere you have a high-speed connection and, although I don’t have a PDA with wifi, it seems like it should work with any wifi-enabled PDA that has some sort of browser.

If you find an artist that you like, you simply click the icon of the artist and it gives you the option to buy the track from iTunes or the CD from Amazon.  Furthermore, when you click on an artist, you can create a new station from the artist or vote on whether or not you like the artist, which I believe will help customize further stations that you create.

It would be damn cool if you could use this service with XM or Sirius; that would definitely make me invest in one of those 2 services.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Macintsoh virus protection

If you don’t have virus software on your Mac, go download ClamXav — do it now, it’s free and even Apple believes in it because it’s bundled by Apple with Mac OS Server 10.4.

This guide on provides full instructions on installation.


SyncToy is a Microsoft Windows XP PowerToy that allows the synchronization of multiple files and directories.  I downloaded it this morning and have been playing with it, and so far have had no problems — everything works as advertised (it wouldn’t sync my PST files after I closed Outlook, but then I realized that X1 and my Blackberry software were keeping an Exchange connection open, and it worked fine after I exited those 2 programs).  It is important to note 3 things about this program:

  • It is “beta” and not officially supported by MS Technical Support.
  • It requires Windows Genuine Advantage verification before download (even unsupported beta programs now require this — amazing).
  • XP SP2 is required.

Preview of the non-TiVo DirecTV DVR

This article on give details on the non-TiVo DVR system that is slated to debut in October.  From the article:

  • The set-top has the usual features found on most DVRs, such as pausing live TV and fast-forwarding and rewinding at high speed.
  • The DIRECTV Plus receiver will automatically save a program to your hard drive while you watch. This enables you to fast-forward, rewind and pause live TV. However, the DIRECTV Plus will permit you to back up 90 minutes if you haven't changed the channel while watching.
  • The set-top will display a program frame-by-frame if you hit the Fast Forward button after you hit Pause.
  • You can set a "bookmark" in a selected program by pressing Pause and then the "Green" button on the remote. This enables you to instantly return to a certain part of a show after you have recorded it.
  • The Active channel, which will have its own channel in the lineup, will provide daily weather forecasts, lottery results and other interactive features such as channels that will have multiple screens so the viewer can watch several shows at once.
  • DIRECTV has also hinted that its new DVR will have a Video on Demand feature for Pay Per View movies.
  • The DIRECTV DVR monthly subscription will be $5.99, not including the cost of the hardware.

Ok, all of the above is useful information, but does not answer my burning question: Do I have to have a land-based telephone line to use it?  I’m not going to spend an extra $20–$40 per month for a land-based line in order to use a $5.99 per month service, although it would be ok if it worked over my Vonage line.  Now many of you may say that there is a way to get TiVo to work by doing the initial download over someone else’s land-based phone line and then enabling IP updates, but I really don’t want that hassle either.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

How to set up Google Talk on a Mac

There is no Google-manufactured Talk client for the Mac, but follow these instructions to set it up.

Google Talk is live

Get the newest instant messaging client right here.  Google Talk supports normal text-based instant messaging, live talking, and interfaces with your Gmail account’s contact list; like most new Google applications, you can sign into Google Talk with your Google Account.

How long will it be before you can get an inbound phone number and purchase blocks of minutes to call land-based numbers?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"I have a question about your website"

If for some reason you e-mail me with this post title as a subject line in an e-mail I will not respond to you; I am getting something like 10–12 pieces of spam a day with that as the subject.


Aeon Flux trailer

I loved watching Aeon Flux in it’s animated version on MTV.  You can see the preview for the live action version here (note that this links you to the large, high-resolution version of the trailer) with Charlize Theron as Aeon.

Monday, August 22, 2005

What employee pricing does to me

Prior to GM’s Employee Pricing campaign, my GMC truck, which is only a year old blue-booked for about $1,000 more than I paid for it.  Now that the campaign has been running, my truck is worth about $7,000 less than I owe; this is a direct trickle-down effect of the discounted price of new vehicles and the value of my car will most certainly not be going up with all of the new vehicles that have been dumped on the market at rock-bottom prices.

So what’s this mean?  Let’s say, for example, I wanted to get an “Ultimate 4x4” Lincoln navigator (I don’t, but that’s not the point here); it retails for $57,795, is employee priced at $49,719, and I receive an additional $2,000 cash back — that leaves me $5,000 upside down, meaning that the total amount I would finance would be $54,719 for a net of a $3,000 savings.  Alternatively, let’s say I wanted to get a Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 4x4; it retails for $44,760 and is employee priced at $36,058 — that leaves me $7,000 upside down, meaning the total amount I would finance would be $43,058 for a net of about a $1,000 savings.  Finally, let’s say I wanted a base model (not 100% sure what this entails, but I’m sure it doesn’t have luxury options or 4x4 and the Jeep site doesn’t list pricing for non-base models) Jeep Grand Cherokee; it retails for $27,050 and is employee priced at $24,165 with an additional $2,000 cash rebate — that leave me $5,000 updside down, meaning that the total amount I would finance would be $29,165 for a net of $2,000+ dollars over the retail price of the vehicle.

What’s the lesson here?  Check out the Blue Book value of your car!  It was one thing when you could roll some of the debt you owed on a trade-in into a 0% financing deal, but these employee pricing campaigns are not at 0%.

I’m just waiting to see what the manufacturers start doing in October.

Do you use Mapquest any more?

I don’t.  And I don’t use Virtual Earth either.  It’s amazing to me how quickly I transitioned to using Google Maps (I think I stopped using Mapquest the day I first tried Google Maps) — it’s just that much better.

Some more useful baby ideas

I was thinking over the weekend that the following items would be useful for the new baby:

  • Diapers that turn blue on the outside when they are wet on the inside.  This isn’t so much for the number 2s as it is for the number 1s; all the fathers out there know what I mean.
  • A clip-in system for the Baby Bjorn (or other “tactical baby retention system,” as I like to call it).  You will wake up your baby every time you have to move her from the car seat to the Baby Bjorn, so why not just have a way that the Bjorn can unclip from the chest harness and clip right into the car seat.
  • Self-applying diaper rash cream.  Seems like if they can figure out how to get Neosporin pre-applied to a Band-Aid and anti-microbial protection built into a sock, that companies should certainly be able to build rash protection cream directly into a diaper.

The new Google Desktop

It’s available now right here and it’s much more than just a search client — there is now an informational sidebar that sits on alive in Windows.  The interesting part is that the informational sidebar does a lot of things that Windows can do for you, but it does it more quickly and in an easier way, begging the question of whether or not Windows itself is really all that important; all of the data for the sidebar is really extracted from the web and your files, not the OS.

I could certainly envision this client running on an old machine that only had Firefox, a free version of Linux, and Open Office installed on it.  For that mater, I guess there’s no reason why Google couldn’t just bundle its own OS with those 4 components on it; in fact it would probably run well on older machines.

As with everything Google, there is a Developer SDK available for the sidebar.

Interesting car stories from the front line

Thought I would pass along the address of Mechanics Tale, a series of articles updated every few weeks by a real mechanic.  For those of you that drive Volkswagens or are considering purchasing a Volkswagen, you may want to read this month’s article.

Swanson's Rules

Just received my copy of Bill Swanson’s now-Written Rules of Management free of charge from Raytheon.  See my previous post on how to get yours.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Google Maps and Virtual Earth

You can search Google Maps and MSN Virtual Earth simultaneously at this site.

WiFi router password defaults

Besides the evil things you might consider doing with it, this list of default passwords for various manufacturers’ wireless routers is especially useful if you have to do a hard reset and can’t find your documentation.

Seth Godin's new project

The Big Moo authored by all of these people:

Julie Anixter, April Armstrong, Dave Balter, Marc Benioff, Kevin Carroll, Carol Cone, Mark Cuban, Dean Debiase, Lisa Gansky, Malcolm Gladwell, William Godin, Lynn Gordon, Jay Gouliard, Amit Gupta, Marcia Hart, Jackie Huba, Guy Kawasaki, Tom Kelley, Polly LaBarre, Tim Manners, Red Maxwell, Chris Meyer, Jacqueline Novogratz, Tom Peters, Promise Phelon, Dan Pink, Randall Rothenberg, Heath Row, Donna Sturgess, Robyn Waters, Alan Webber, Robin Williams, and Seth Godin.

The question all of these people are trying to answer:

What does it really take to make your organization remarkable?

What would you do to get an iBook for $50?

The Henrico School District in Virginia recently offered 1,000 used iBooks (yes, “used,” as in used and abused by high school students) for sale for $50 each.  In order to facilitate an orderly sale of the machines, the sale was held at Richmond International raceway.  The gates to the sale opened at 7AM to 5,500 people trying to get a cheap iBook and it immediately turned into a crowd crush that was regulated by only 5 police officers.  Check out this coverage and videos on the Richmond NBC affiliate’s site.

Extremely disturbing stuff.

Defeat the DRM on the new DMB CD so that you can use it with iTunes

If you don’t purchase the new Dave Matthews Band CD through iTunes then the official DMB site has these instructions on how to defeat the DRM:

 If you have a Mac computer you can copy the songs using your iTunes Player as you would normally do.

If you have a PC place the CD into your computer and allow the CD to automatically start. If the CD does not automatically start, open your Windows Explorer, locate the drive letter for your CD drive and double-click on the LaunchCD.exe file located on your CD.

Once the application has been launched and the End User License Agreement has been accepted, you can click the Copy Songs button on the top menu.

Follow the instructions to copy the secure Windows Media Files (WMA) to your PC. Make a note of where you are copying the songs to, you will need to get to these secure Windows Media Files in the next steps.

Once the WMA files are on your PC you can open and listen to the songs with Windows Media Player 9.0 or higher. You may also play them in any compatible player that can play secure Windows Media files, such as MusicMatch, RealPlayer, and Winamp, but it will require that you obtain a license to do so. To obtain this license, from the Welcome Screen of the user interface, click on the link below the album art that says If your music does not play in your preferred player, click here. Follow the instructions to download the alternate license.

Using Windows Media Player only, you can then burn the songs to a CD. Please note that in order to burn the files, you need to upgrade to or already have Windows Media Player 9 or greater.

Once the CD has been burned, place the copied CD back into your computer and open iTunes. iTunes can now rip the songs as you would a normal CD.

One final note that the DMB site makes:

Please note an easier and more acceptable solution requires cooperation from Apple, who we have already reached out to in hopes of addressing this issue. To help speed this effort, we ask that you use the following link to contact Apple and ask them to provide a solution that would easily allow you to move content from protected CDs into iTunes or onto your iPod rather than having to go through the additional steps above.

Seems to me that the easiest way to get the CD into iTunes on a Windows machine is to just buy the CD from the iTunes Music Store and save yourself all of the steps above.


Why do we treat e-mail different than voice?

From this post on Signal vs. Noise:

Why not read an email and then instantly delete it? Why do we save emails? Why do we archive them in folders for safe keeping? We don’t save phone calls. We have a conversation on the phone and then we hang up. If we need to take notes for whatever reason we do, but 99% of phone calls are completely ephemeral. And if we forget something, or we need it again, we just make another call.

Is email really any different? Are we all keeping emails around just because we can? Do we really need to have this stuff on hand so we can go back 14 months from now and dig something up? If we need to dig something up why don’t we just ask the people who we were talking to originally?

I have gigs of PST files full of every e-mail that I have sent and received for the past 5 years; I use X1 to search in between all of the PSTs.  Recently my company installed a new phone system with a unified messaging client that dumps voicemails into Outlook — I just uninstalled it this morning because I’m not using it and it was making me miss messages more than help me realize that I had them.  Furthermore, I realized that I was deleting all of my voicemails from Outlook the same way that I would from my regular phone, but it was taking longer.

My first year of work I was caught in a situation where someone was claiming that I had said something in an e-mail that I did not actually say.  I was able to go back into my saved e-mails, re-forward the original message and prove who was telling the truth, and from that day I have never deleted another e-mail.  I can’t say that I use X1 every day, but I maybe use it 1–2 times per week to search through my e-mail to retrieve information.

I don’t know that I could really start deleting all of my e-mails as soon as I read them; it’s just too ingrained in me to save everything.  The post above does have a valid point and I just wanted to share it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hack that elevator

The trick of holding the “Door Close” button while pushing the number of the floor you want to go to in order to put an Otis elevator into express mode came out a while ago in this Engadget post.  I recently has a chance to try it out and it actually worked, so I figured I’d pass the tip along.

What's the real cost of all these employee discount pricing schemes for vehicles?

According to this post on AutoBlog it is over $5 Billion dollars.  Oh, and that $5 Billion is just for the month of July.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

All the things you can Google

Google is aggressively indexing tons of personal warez (free software sites) in China.  Using this guide, not that I am advocating it, you can use Google China to find all kinds of warez (found via this digg). 

Friday, August 05, 2005

Technorati sucks today

I keep getting this message:

Sorry, we couldn't complete your search because we're experiencing a high volume of requests right now. Please try again in a minute or add this search to your watchlist to track conversation.

I have been getting this with varying levels of frequency ever since the new site went live, but every search I have done for the last hour has returned the message above.

Baby Stuff

I just became a dad last Friday and have the following observations about baby stuff:

  • The Diaper Champ rocks.  Unlike other systems that require you to use proprietary bags, the Diaper Champ will use any kind of bag that you have sitting around.
  • Baby feeding cloths should be made out of chamois or synthetic chamois.  I haven’t seen any cloths made out of super-absorbent material; most of them get completely soaked after just one feeding.
  • The diapers you put on your baby have to be the ones that work best for him or her.  You will read opinions on various different diaper manufacturers and find that 50% of the people like one particular brand because they work for their kid and 50% of the people hate one particular brand because they don’t work for their kid.  The best way to buy diapers seems to be through Amazon with the free 5 day shipping — just stockpile your initial amount of diapers so that you have enough to make it through 6 days (one day for the order to be processed and 5 days to ship) and you shouldn’t have to go to the store nearly as often.
  • Diapers and feminine products are designed to achieve the exact same goal: liquid retention.  So here’s my question: Why don’t you see feminine product technologies integrated into diapers?  Would diapers work better with wings?  Seems like they would.
  • No baby clothes are made with high-tech fabrics; perhaps that’s because they would be really expensive.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have some sort of feeding gown made out of GoreTex that would be completely waterproof, yet breathable from the inside?
  • Baby soap is cool because, according to the nurse at the hospital, even if you don’t wash it all off, it won’t harm the baby.
  • The Fisher Price Nature’s Touch swing works exceptionally well to put the baby to sleep.

We had our baby at SkyRidge in Colorado.  The hospital is only around 18 months old, so everything is basically brand-new.  The delivery rooms are state-of-the-art, large, and include multiple phone lines along with a TV and DVD player. 

As a special part of the experience, I opted for the Amenity Suite as  the recovery room.  For a moderate cost, the Amenity Suites are 25% larger, feature a nicer bed for mom, have a jacuzzi tub and shower in the bathroom, include nice high-end toiletry items for mom, include a bathrobe for mom, have a dining table, have a great view of the Front Range, and include dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine cooked by an executive chef.  The dinner portion of the service was amazing as everything is cooked to order and you can order items that are not included on the regular menu; I actually was able to get the chef to make me venison osso bucco one night, while my wife had steak and lobster.  I believe that the overall service is better in the Amenity Suites, although I have not experienced the service on a normal floor, so I can’t be 100% sure.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What is xMax?

According to xG Technology:

xMax boosts the data rates of all wired and wireless communications.  xMax is not a compression technique, but rather a synergistic mix of two well-established communication approaches that dramatically improves spectrum utilization. 

By combining elements of traditional narrowband carrier systems with key elements found in low-power wideband systems, xMax delivers data rates orders of magnitude higher than other broadband approaches without causing harmful interference to neighboring spectrum users. 

xMax uses xG Flash SignalingTM to transmit wideband data at power levels up to 100,000 times below FCC regulated power limits and up to 10,000 times below that of ultra wideband (UWB) emissions. Because xMax only requires a narrow slice of dedicated spectrum to coordinate its xG Flash Signal, it is ideally suited for wireless deployments in piecemeal, low-frequency, channel allocations.

Pretty interesting stuff, but I hadn’t every really heard about this company.  What’s interesting is that there’s a lot of information floating around about very high-speed wireless technologies and this is the first time that I had heard of xMax.

Google Maps High-Yield Explosive Detonation Effect

Using Google Maps and overlaid with high-yield explosive over-pressure data based on kiloton yield, this site will show the estimated effects of any explosion in any location you designate.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Jellybeans, Lockouts, and other useful things

From this post on Lifehacker, the Magical Jellybean Kefinder will display and allow you to change your CD keys for Windows and Office.  This is especially useful for Windows Genuine Advantage where, the first time at least, you have to type in your CD key — let me tell you how challenging this was with my Toshiba Tablet PC that I use extensively in tablet mode, which has caused a lot of the information to wear off of the bottom of it.

There’s been an update to the Gmail Drive shell extension.  Apparently there was some kind of funky URL redirection issue that caused my non-updated copy to stop functioning, but now I’m up and happy again.  For the uninitiated, this free program allows you to use your Gmail account as a virtual hard drive.  Free software + free 2 gig e-mail account used as virtual hard drive and accessible from anywhere on the internet = happy user.

All kinds of RSS start pages are available — Start preview from Microsoft and My AOL are 2 new ones, but I’m sticking with Bloglines for now.

Supremely useful Firefox extensions are even more useful when coupled together (via this post on Lifehacker) — add UndoCloseTab (allows you to undo closing a tab) to SessionSaver (allows you save all of your open tabs when you quite Firefox and re-opens them when Firefox is rebooted) and you have a very powerful antidote to the accidental Firefox close when you have 47 tabs open.  I’ve tried both together and they work great together.

 Engadget is reporting on the SpymodeX 900MHz-2.5GHz wireless jammer —this $500 device jams anything within the frequency range previously mentioned.  Want to piss off your local computer guru?  This frequency range will allow you to jam wireless networks — something that no amount of software or hardware troubleshooting can fix (unless he finds and turns off the jammer).

How do you get cold beer in the middle of the desert with no electricity and no cooler?  With the I.C. Can, of course.  Gizmodo reports on the I.C. Can, which is able to self-chill the beverages inside down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit after the cooling reaction takes place.  I’m sure they’ll be expensive, but it’s still a cool idea.

Bill Simmons provides the Idiot’s Guide to the NHL Lockout.  Enough said.

If the cold beer doesn’t strike your fancy, perhaps you could try 4.8% powdered alcohol — according to this article, you just add water and instantly have 1.5 glasses of liquor worth from a packet of powder.  The site that sells the powdered alcohol (among other things) is Subyou, but you’ll need to run a translation engine to get through the German.

PC World tells you how to reinstall Windows without losing all of your data.  I was expecting something a little bit more revolutionary, but it’s useful just the same.

Decode the barcode on your driver’s license here (via this Digg).

Happy Monday!

Mossberg gives the Slingbox a thumbs-up

From this post on Signal vs. Noise, Mossberg has this to say about the Slingbox:

I have been testing the Slingbox at home, in my office and on the road. In my tests, it worked exactly as advertised. At my office, about a dozen miles from home, I watched recorded episodes of “Charlie Rose” and “Desperate Housewives.” At an airport, I watched CNBC live on my laptop via a public Wi-Fi connection. And in a Boston hotel room, about 450 miles from home, I watched a live Washington Nationals baseball game unavailable in Red Sox country.

I’m excited about the Slingbox and I’ve posted about it before.  Why don’t I have one yet?  I’ve just been too busy this summer to screw around with it, but I certainly anticipate having one sometime in the fall.



When is it ok to unsubscribe

There’s a very timely post on Ensight about how Jeremy Wright is unsubscribing from certain blog feeds.  The reason his post is timely is that I’ve been going through my Bloglines subscriptions and doing the very same thing that he’s being doing.  My test for subscription is simple: if I won’t read the posts on a blog after I’ve been completely away from the computer for 2 days or more (i.e., if I just click the category and scroll right past the posts on a particular blog), then I drop the subscription.  Here’s the criteria from Jeremy:

If you don’t actually find value here, feel free to unsubscribe. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended.

Blogging’s about relationships, about value, about authenticity and about authority.

If we can’t be honest and only read the blogs where we find value (personal value, professional value or informational value), there’s a real problem.

Just because someone unsubscribes does not mean that they do not like you; just because I unsubscribe does not mean that I won’t ever read your blog; just because you unsubscribe from my blog does not mean that I have you.  Blogging has become more mature.  As Jeremy points out, many of his subscriptions were to people that reiterated information, but he has risen to a level or found different sources that make him feel like reading other reiterated information blogs are slow.  I reiterate a lot of information in my blog, so I would not be surprised if there are people that will eventually rise to the level where they feel I am slower than information they already know — that’s ok, it’s the nature of the blogosphere.

What does everything above mean?  It means that to retain readers, you need to attract people that come to you as a source for information that you might be reiterating; it means that we as authors need to keep our original content fresh and interesting enough to keep current readers engaged.