Lots of interesting information for Bootstrapers.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I am totally disgusted with Sony after reading a report by Techdirt:
This time, it's more about Sony BMG's other copy protection system, MediaMax, from SunnComm. As you may recall, Sony has only recalled CDs using the XCP copy protection technology from First4Internet. Once again, we have Alex Halderman to thank for bringing this to light. Halderman noted that MediaMax has many spyware like qualities and also discovered the security hole in SunnComm's uninstaller. However, the latest finding is perhaps more problematic. The way MediaMax works is, if you have autorun enabled on your Windows PC and insert a MediaMax-enabled CD, it pops up an end user license agreement (EULA), not really telling you what it's doing. If you realize that you don't want this installed on your computer and hit "no," it's already installed some amount of code that isn't easily removed. However, the latest finding is that inserting another (or the same) CD with MediaMax on it (even if you hit no to the EULA again) will install even more code that will run on your machine even though you specifically told it not to.
This makes it really easy for me to only buy music from iTunes.
Our ice machine in our refrigerator stopped working the other day. Simultaneously, the filtered water line stopped working and vegetables started freezing in the vegetable drawer. Having experienced water lines freezing in the past, I turned down the temperature in the refrigerator, but that had no effect. Luckily I had purchased the extended warranty through Sears, so the repair guy came out today.
The repair guy told my wife what the problem was:
The temperature control in the freezer controls the temperature for both the refrigerator and freezer portions of the fridge. The temperature control in the refrigerator portion is simply a baffle control for the amount of cold air coming in from the freezer. Consequently, if the freezer dial is turned up too high, it doesn’t matter how warm the refrigerator setting is.
Unfortunately, the freezer temperature control is located directly over the automatic ice dispenser — very easy to turn the temperature control when you reach your hand in for ice. Everything’s working fine now and I will rectify the temperature control problem in the freezer with a piece of tape so that it doesn’t happen again.
As a side note — the original 5 year warranty for the fridge from Sears was $300 and this service call (the repair guy had to replace the ice machine motor because it had run without water for so long) would have cost $224; I highly recommend appliance warranties.
There are lots of reports of XBox 360 malfunctions in the news and all over internet. John Porcaro who works in Microsoft marketing has a response to all of the XBox 360 malfunction reports; from his post:
Even though there are some sensational headlines, it’s important to know that the reports of crashes and overheating are being exaggerated, at least in the mainstream press. Those that don’t have problems probably aren’t online (they’re happily playing games on their new Xbox 360). Sensational headlines sell papers, and because all the news up to now has been pretty positive, journalists (and Sony fanboys) are looking for a different angle to report.
I’m not saying the issues aren’t real.
We know that electronics can’t be 100% tested before shipping, and that shipping and storage and temperature and all sorts of minute manufacturing defects can affect a unit after a customer gets it home. It would just suck tremendously to have waited in line for 10 or 20 (or 40) hours, only to get your box home and find it doesn’t work. I’d be seriously pissed. It’s one thing to get the wrong kind size jeans--it’s another to get something home that you paid a ton of money for, waited almost a year for, stood in line in the freezing cold for, and basically did everything right to assure your spot at the top of the list, only to find out it doesn't work. And unfortunately, you can't just skip back to the store and trade it in like you can in most cases.
I firmly believe that when an issue affects you personally, it doesn’t matter that you’re in the minority. The problem is happening to 100% of the units YOU care about.
For you with problems, know that our customer service team is pulling out all the stops to make sure you’re taken care of as fast as possible. We have all the hardware we need to provide great customer care. We’re doing everything using overnight shipments (even shipping the prepaid overnight box for customers to use), and I’m told our troubleshooting team is turning around most units in 24-48 hours before overnighting it back. That means you could get a working unit back in less than a week. Not as good as a working unit on day one, but not as bad as some other manufacturers.
There’s lots more information in Porcaro’s post and I encourage you to read it in its entirety.
Maybe this is old news, but Lifehacker posted 2 operators you can use in Google to search residential and business phonebook information. For residential use “rphonebook:” and for business use “bphonebook:”. For example, you would enter the following into the search window:
rphonebook: Joe Schmo San Francisco, CA
Breaking news: FCC to suggest to cable companies that they could best serve customers by allowing individual channel subscriptions
Ummm, I think the FCC might be a little bit behind the times; don’t get me wrong , it would be great if it happened.
Think Secret is reporting functionality of the rumored new Mac Mini (codename “Kaleidoscope) — here’s what they are saying:
- Intel processor
- Built-in iPod dock
- Unknown as whether video recording will be native or an add-on
- Unknown if Apple will move from a 2.5” hard drive to 3.5” hard drive
- Will probably be equipped with FrontRow 2.0
- Sources with knowledge of the project call it a “TiVo killer”
I already have a Mac Mini and love it. If Apple were to release a new Mac Mini that could truly function as a media hub in my living room, complete with DVR capabilities, then I would very likely be the proud owner of 2 Mac Minis.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Unfortunately, 20 minutes later from seeing the first ad, I see an ad of a guy pulling up in a snow plow in front of a house -- same guy, same diamond necklace, same Christmas night. Turns out that I don't need to opt in to going to the website; actually it makes it really easy to opt out because I already know the ending. I don't really care what happened in between -- obviously guy leaves airport, does some stuff, winds up in a snow plow, and gets home (if you haven't seen the ending, feel free to save yourself the trip to the website).
My wife says that the ad worked because I'm talking about it. Wrong. The ad did not work -- I'm talking about the ad because the execution is poor. Obviously the advertising firm was trying to emulate Go Army or BMW Films; trying to get people to opt in is a very powerful thing. At some point someone got worried about whether or not people would actually visit the site, so they gave away the ending. Perhaps the ad firm thought they were being brilliant by giving the beginning and end and hoping that we would all be inspired to find out the stuff in the middle. Instead they wind up with more interruption advertising that provides little incentive to opt in to their site.
So if you want, visit the link below which will give you the middle of the story -- feel free to opt in after you already know the ending. Personally, I'm opting out.
Mark Cuban posts about why hard drives aren’t pre-loaded with music. Specifically he points to the Harry Fox Agency, which he describes as “. . . so out of step with the times it’s holding an entire industry back.” How can one company do this? Cuban explains:
How expensive is it to “pay the Harry Fox Piper ?” From their website
“The current statutory mechanical royalty rate is $.085 (8.5 cents) per song per unit for recordings of compositions up to five minutes (5:00) in length.”
Thats a lot of money. Do the math. How many songs can you pre load on a 30gbs or 60gbs IPod. How many as those hard drives grow and grow.
At 8.5 cents ea. Thats big, big dollars. Per Ipod. Which is exactly why you cant buy MP3/Ipod devices preloaded with music. Its obscenely expensive.
At $0.085 per song, it would be insanely expensive to even pre-load an iPod Shuffle. Here’s what Cuban suggests:
Why not do it the right way. Since units like the Ipod can track usage, just set a very simple reporting mechanism. Its being done for subscription services. Downloads are tracked. Listening is tracked. Why not apply it to mobile devices ? If the user has privacy concerns, they wont buy the unit with this feature.
. . . why not finally put DRM to a use that actually benefits consumers ? If that song stays on the hard drive 5 days and is listened to more than 5 times during any period, then Harry Fox can collect on it. It wouldn't be 8.5 cents. Thats a ridiculous number of course when there could be thousands of songs on a hard drive. People who just kept the songs on the hard drive could end up costing the distributor thousands of dollars per Ipod as hard drives grow. But just like the subscription services have worked things out, there is no reason why Harry Fox cant come in to the 21st century and realize that their beneficiaries will make more money by making it easier for music lovers to consume music.
It also takes away some of the incentive for users to troll illegal download sites. ITunes and the other music sites could easily download music overnight and let the users have fun with it.
Wake up with a 1k new songs on your IPod every day, week or month. Pick and choose what you want. Keep what you like, delete the rest. If you don't want to delete, we will remind you that you will be charged for them and we will hit your credit card for them.
Imagine if you could have your device pre-loaded the first Monday of the month with the top 40 played songs from your favorite radio station and you could pick and choose with track to keep. Of course, this screws up Harry Fox’s business model, but who really cares about that besides Harry Fox?
You should check out In Bubble Wrap — all kinds of cool business woot for answering some simple questions; new items M-F. Also, if you run a subscription model, pay attention to the fact that In Bubble Wrap allows you to elect to receive e-mail updates or to subscribe to a RSS feed with the same information.
From the Apple Support site:
The Broadband Tuner allows you to take full advantage of very high speed Internet connections that have a high latency (5 Mbps or greater). The installer tweaks some system parameters.
The installer increases the default values for the size of the TCP send and receive buffers. With larger buffers more data can be in transit at once. A startup configuration file is also updated so that these changes will persist across restarts.
That’s interesting; I’ll have to play around with it at home.
Engadget is hosting a Treo 650 tips and tricks page — be sure to scroll down and read the comments, which is where all the tips and tricks can actually be found. Great information for someone like me that is just getting started with a Treo 650.
If you want to blog about the Nokia N90, you can pull information off of this Nokia site — very interesting idea to help viral advertising.
The Amazon Deals Shopping Blog has posted the following information regarding deadlines for holiday shipping on Amazon.com:
- Friday December 16 - Last day to order items using FREE Super Saver Shipping.
- Monday December 19 - Last day to order items using Standard Shipping.
- Tuesday December 20 - Last day to order items using Two-Day Shipping.
- Wednesday December 21 - Last day to order items using One-Day Shipping. Some items may qualify for Two-Day Guaranteed Accelerated Delivery. Eligibility will be indicated on the item's detail page.
- Thursday December 22 - Last day to order select items using Guaranteed Accelerated Delivery.
I posted a few weeks ago about a site by Paul English listing ways to talk to a human instead of navigating through voicemail hell. Angel.com,. a provider of automated voice systems, actually posted a response to the “cheat” site, making the following points:
- Most IVR systems are good, especially speech-enabled systems. Two-thirds of consumers feel voice automation is efficient and fulfills their needs, whereas 34% of consumers complain that they have dealt with unfriendly live agents.
- Every selection you make in the IVR system will help the system make progress towards solving your problem either in the IVR system or by routing you to the most qualified live agent.
- By zeroing out at the first prompt, you give up control over the type of agent you will ultimately speak to. You will likely end up in the most generic queue and, hence, the queue with the longest wait time. Then you'll explain your problem to somebody who is not qualified to solve the problem, who in turn will place you into yet another queue.
- In almost all cases, if you have a request that can be resolved completely by an IVR system (like account balance, order status etc.), using the IVR system correctly will get you results faster than talking to a human.
- The more people that use IVR systems for easy requests (see #4), the greater the number of live agents who are available for complex requests. This leads to better and more qualified service for everyone - by using the IVR system you are doing a service to all your fellow callers.
All of the points above are about what you would expect and, as I would expect, Paul English had this response to Angel.com:
The rebuttals are mostly a bunch of hogwash.
. . . consumers are not stupid, and they should be given the choice to connect to a human when they want.
I would put it in this way:
If IVRs were so helpful and easy then there would be no need for Paul English’s list and no need to produce a 5 point rebuttal to English’s list.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Great post on the Business 2.0 Blog about how RSS is no longer just for blogs. The CEO of Feedburner, Dick Costolo, provided the following Venn diagram to illustrate the point:
Via the post, Costolo had this to say:
By following the atomic unit of content around as it’s ripped, mixed, and republished, the content is afforded the widest variety of distribution paths to reach the largest possible audience, which in turn creates the greatest opportunity for monetization.
My wife just called me to tell me she had taken our daughter to take a picture with Santa. Unfortunately (for the people selling pictures) the computer system to process pictures was down, so they were allowing people with their own cameras to take pictures at no charge. Luckily my wife had her Elph and was able to snap several shots, saving us around $15.
Moral of the story: You should bring your own camera when having your kids take pictures with Santa.
MacSlash is reporting the Microsoft is going to open it’s Office file format. From the post:
"Within about 18 months, customers, competitors and developers should be able to download detailed files from Ecma on how to create a Microsoft Word, Powerpoint or Excel document."
So as MacSlash asks: Does this make Microsoft more dominant?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Here are some handy tips that may help you deal with the holidays, specifically holiday shopping (although it wouldn’t be a bad thing to practice these all the time):
- Read my previous post on self-awareness
- Cutting people off and stealing parking spots is not cool
- No road rage allowed
- Armed robberies for the “must-have” gifts are probably not the best way to go about getting them
- Use online merchants — get your gifts wrapped and shipped direct
- Don’t wait until the last minute. This includes waiting until the last minute for food as well as gifts
- Indoor electrical cords and power strips should probably not be used in the snow
- Seeing your house from space because of the amount of lights is not something to proud of
- Bloody reindeer heads mounted to your bumper are really not that funny
- Using hazard lights to park in front of a store and screw up traffic is not ok — seek a parking spot like everyone else and read my second bullet above
- Taking out your frustrations on the 18 year old kid that is home from college working to pay for his/her own presents really shouldn’t make you feel better
- Show up to the airport early — you showing up late for your flight and not expecting long security lines is your fault, not mine
- Wash your hands after handling raw meats and wash utensils and prep areas as well — salmonella is not a good gift for the holidays
- Water your Christmas tree
- Drunk assembling of toys or items from Ikea is not suggested
- Include gift receipts whenever possible
- If you are not sure if you are re-gifting to someone that may have given a gift to you, don’t do it, it’s embarrassing for everyone involved
- Remove the price tag from the bottle of wine you bought at the liquor store on your way to the party; even better, invest in one of those $2 paper bags they have for sale at the front of the store
- Everyone may not agree with this, but getting drunk by drinking egg nog is not ok; egg nog is not ok in general
- Stop saving wrapping paper and boxes — tear into your presents like you are excited to get them
I’m sure there are lots more, but this should get you started.
Amazon is running some DVD sales. Probably most interesting is up to 67% off full-season television program sets plus an additional $10–$50 MIR when you buy 1–5 Warner titles. And Amazon will wrap these for you as gifts and send them directly to the person.
I ran across Ari Jaaksi’s Blog when searching for information about the Nokia 770. Ari is actually one of the developers of the 770 and has some very good points on a blog post entitled “It is not a cell phone — and it is good,” which specifically deals with the 770. Although there is lots of information in the post and I highly encourage you to read it, here is the salient point:
Internet Tablets are different – they are new. Rules, markets, technology, customers, partners, and channels to customers are new and still evolving. This is good! It is an interesting opportunity for Nokia. And because all is new, we want to be flexible. We utilize open source, work with interesting new partners, and avoid all unnecessary baggage that would slow us down. Adding a cell phone into our internet tablet would put all the cell phone requirements on us and would make us slow. It would force us to play by the cell phone rules.
We don’t mix these things. We want to get the best possible mobile internet experience into the hands of our customers – though dedicated internet tablets!
Some analysts are attacking Nokia from departing from its core business. It’s interesting because Nokia is really inventing a new business that actually supports the use of their existing business. Ari makes the point that he wants the smallest possible phone with the highest speed wireless data chip to pair via Bluetooth with his 770. This is a large departure from all of those people that are trying to get everything they need into a horrible form factor (come on, nobody actually loves the form factor of their Blackberry enough to take it out on weekends). It makes me take a step back and wonder if instead of going after a Treo, I should be finding the smallest EVDO phone I can get and pairing it with my 770 so that I have a small phone to use on the weekends.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Similar to last year’s highly successful promotion, American Express will again be offering super-cool gifts at greatly reduced prices. Looks like they have a Range Rover Sport up with a pricetag of $5K, and I can see a plasma TV, XBox 360, some sort of leather bag, and what looks like Vespa in the pictorial list of example items. Just like last year, I’m sure there will be a time clock and several different times during the day when you can buy; and, of course, you need an American Express card to buy.
One new thing for this year is to submit a wish for something you want and on December 16th, it appears that they will make it available to you. Be careful what you wish for (and how much you say you’re willing to pay for it).
I’ve written in the past about Ojos Inc., makers of Riya, which uses recognition technology to tag and organize photo libraries. Om Malik is reporting that Google is looking at buying Riya for $40mil. While I’m not surprised that Google is looking to get a hold of Riya’s technology, I don’t even think that Riya made it out of a very limited beta test before Google took notice.
Note: Right now the Riya site is not working.
Although it was not accepting new subscribers for the last year or so, Sprint’s Fixed Wireless Broadband is back according to Om Malik. Pricing is $49.99 for 512–1.5mbps, so, as Malik points out, it’s probably a much better deal to go with cable and get the 6 down 1 up — Sprint’s solution would be well suited to those that do not live in cable or DSL service areas.
Podzinger will let you do it.
TiVo has announced that its TiVoToGo service will work with Video iPods. Unfortunately, there is no mention of TiVo developing a Mac application, so it seems like this will only work with PCs. I guess if you already have TiVo and you like it and you don’t use a Mac, but you do have a Video iPod, then this is a good thing for you.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
TUAW posted this chant:
This is my iPod. There are many like it but this one is mine. My iPod is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my iPod is useless. Without my iPod I am useless. I must use my iPod true. I must listen better than my enemy, who is trying to make me use a Dell DJ. I must listen to my iPod always. I will. Before God I swear this creed: my iPod and myself are defenders of my nation, we are the masters of my enemy, we are the saviors of my life. So be it, until there is no enemy, but iPods. Amen.
Probably too much to engrave on the back of an iPod, but it would be damn cool if I could.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Boycott Sony. Boycott them until they come clean and recall all the infected CDs. Boycott them until they distribute a removal program. Boycott them until they promise never do anything like this again.Link
Michael just left me a comment on my post about FilmLoop. Slide seems to accomplish the same thing as FilmLoop, except most of the functionality is available via the web instead of downloading an application. That said, there are Slide applications for Mac and PC — Michael says that the app is better for uploading, real-time playback, and instant sharing, while the web app is better for ease of access for friends. In my perusal of the site, most of the desktop app functions seem to work on the web, so Slide gets my vote (for now) over FilmLoop, if you are looking for this kind of service.
If you view Strategize via a web browser, you may note the following changes:
- Google AdWords advertising has been moved to the bottom of the page. I was having display issues with it, so I moved it down there.
- Chitika advertising has been added where I used to have AdWords. I like Chitika and have used it myself, so I’m making it available to all of you. If you want to add Chitika to your site, I’ve included a link for that too.
- I’ve added buttons to refer you to Google AdWords to monetize your site/blog and a button to switch to Firefox with the Google Toolbar. To be honest, I support both of these things and I make a little commission if you click on them.
Please note: All advertising dollars earned on this blog go directly to my new daughter’s college fund.
Seth Godin posts about running useless conferences. He goes to a lot more conferences than I do, although I do attend quite a few throughout the course of a year. Here are Seth’s points on why most conferences are useless:
- Conferences seek to satisfy the typical attendee; they are looking to satisfy the “average” person that resides in the center of a bell curve.
- Conferences seek to avoid failure.
The 2 points above lead to a typical (and useless conference) — typical transportation, typical hotel room, typical conference room, typical presentations, typical everything. The problem is that humans don’t generally react well to typical. As Seth says:
Facts don’t change people’s behavior. Emotions change people’s behavior. Stories and irrational impulses are what change behavior. Not facts or bullet points.
Lots of people will tell you that the most valuable time at conferences is when they are in unstructured environments getting to interact with people that they rarely get to interact with face-to-face; most people will tell you that drinks and dinner are by far the most valuable part of a conference. I would then question why conferences don’t devote more time to what everyone knows to be the valuable part. Why not spend an entire day in a cool setting where everyone has the ability to interact? Sure you could add some small amount of structure or suggest some topics that would be important to cover, but otherwise just leave everyone to interact.
A lot of the reasons that conferences are boring is that there are a few forces at work behind the scenes.
- There are lots of people that want to tell everyone else how good they are. These people feel that is their job to present as much good information as possible to prove that they are doing something worthwhile.
- There are lots of people that are worried that they will lose their jobs if they don’t get up and present something. Honestly, if you feel like you have to do this, perhaps you shouldn’t be in the job that you are in.
- Meeting organizers feel that they have to fill every available minute with someone presenting. Inevitably someone will be presenting something they don’t understand why they have to present or something they don’t want to present (or both).
An unintended (hopefully) consequence of a lot of the forces that Seth and I describe above is really long meetings — meetings that feel like marathons and make you feel exhausted even though all you’ve been doing is sitting in the same room from 8AM-6PM with a working lunch.
Seth talks a lot about being remarkable and there’s no reason why your conferences can’t be remarkable too.
I was looking at web-based collaborative word processors today and came across Writely. Surprisingly, Writely allows you to post your documents directly to your blog. Here are some of the Writely features:
Nothing to download -- your browser is all you need. Collaborate just by entering people's e-mail addresses. Publish on the web or post to your blog with a click.
I’ve already paid for a Blogjet license and I generally like the software. However, I find that I do not post at home as I don’t have Blogjet installed on any of my home machines. Perhaps I should start using Writely, especially if I want to use the Nokia 770 (if they ever actually release if for sale in the US) to post
Is anyone using Writely with Blogger? If so, please share your experiences with it.
Gizmodo posted about the Plantronics Versa, which is currently a conceptual design. The Versa will use a necklace-mounted, miniature base to interface with your phone, and tiny earbuds that receive RF signals from the base to allow you to talk and hear. From a form factor perspective, this thing looks damn cool.
Hold your breath and hang on for the tidal wave of XBox 360 accessories that are already starting to appear. Oh, and if you plan on purchasing one of the Xbox 360 packages that is “available Friday” at Circuit City, you need to understand that the system is available to purchase Friday (i.e., they’ll take your money), but not available to take home Friday — if you pay for overnight shipping, the stuff should be delivered to you on the 22nd.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
First, Boing Boing is reporting that Sony's bullshit DRM code actually infringes on a copyright. From the post:
Close examination of the rootkit that Sony's audio CDs attack their customers' PCs with has revealed that their malicious software is built on code that infringes on copyright. Indications are that Sony has included the LAME music encoder, which is licensed under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL), which requires that those who use it attribute the original software and publish some of the code they write to use the library. Sony has done none of this.Link
Second, Boing Boing is reporting that Media Max software can also be installed in addition to Sony's rootkit DRM that they have since temporarily stopped producing. From the post:
To summarize, MediaMax software:
* Is installed onto the computer without meaningful notification or consent, and remains installed even if the license agreement is declined;
* Includes either no uninstall mechanism or an uninstaller that fails to completely remove the program like it claims;
* Sends information to SunnComm about the user's activities contrary to SunnComm and Sony statements and without any option to disable the transmissions.
Oh, and the cherry on top? The rootkit DRM has actually been exploited by hackers, so not only is/was Sony installing malicious software, but it was also allowing hackers to screw up your machine.
Here's my advice: If you really want a CD that's released on Sony/BMG, find a different way to get the music than buying the actual CD (or just never put the CD in your computer).
Friday, November 11, 2005
Peter Drucker is one of the original management gurus and has made countless contributions to business — you can read his accomplishments in Wikipedia.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes:
Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
Security Focus is reporting that Sony BMG is temporarily (yes, “temporarily” the word used in the article) suspending the manufacture of CDs with the copy protection that I’ve been posting about here, here, and here. Sony is actually responding to the criticism of their DRM scheme. Here’s the full statement from Sony:
We are aware that a computer virus is circulating that may affect computers with XCP content protection software. The XCP software is included on a limited number of SONY BMG content protected titles. This potential problem has no effect on the use of these discs in conventional, non-computer-based, CD and DVD players.
In response to these events, SONY BMG has swiftly provided a patch to all major anti-virus companies and to the general public that guards against precisely the type of virus now said to exist. The patch fixes the possible software problem, and still allows CDs to be played on personal computers. It can be downloaded at http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp/. Starting today, we will also be adding this link to the SONY BMG label and corporate sites. We deeply regret any possible inconvenience this may cause.
We stand by content protection technology as an important tool to protect our intellectual property rights and those of our artists. Nonetheless, as a precautionary measure, SONY BMG is temporarily suspending the manufacture of CDs containing XCP technology. We also intend to re-examine all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use. More information about our content protection initiative can also be found at: http://cp.sonybmg.com/xcp.
I think that it’s going to be hard for Sony to unring the bell on their DRM. Lots of bloggers are proposing a boycott of Sony products in general in response to the DRM — I’m not currently looking to purchase any Sony products, but I think it would make me think twice. Certainly I will be monitoring activity of any CDs that I put into my computer very closely as Sony’s move has made me suspicious of all CD manufacturers — remember that it was a consumer that noted the installation, not a statement from Sony that they were enacting installed DRM protection that got this whole thing rolling.
Apple has updated their Knowledge Base article on backing up media contained in iTunes. There are specific instructions on how to back things up onto CD or DVD; the nice feature is that iTunes will recognize space available on CDs or DVDs vs. what you are trying to burn and will allow burning across multiple discs. Note that this is especially important if you buy lots of content from the store because if you lose that content, you have to re-purchase.
Autoblog reports that Toyota will not be doing any TV advertising for its FJ cruiser. Instead Toyota is spending its marketing dollars by targeting “influential” enthusiasts that can directly interact with the product. At the SEMA show, Toyota allowed enthusiasts to drive the FJ through a course that included rock climbing, mud, and trail portions that was led by 50 instructors.
Does this sound familiar? No TV and all dollars spent on buzz marketing.
Check it out. Here’s the short conclusion from the article:
Mac OS X looks in amazingly good early form on the x86 platform. As far as power consumption and OS performance are concerned, it can already keep up with Windows XP. Application performance clearly lags behind, though, and still needs to improve.
(Note: I think the site is getting hammered with all the links, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t load right away)
Mac Daily News is posting that accessing enhanced content on a Sony audio CD will install kernel extensions on your Mac. Note that this is explained in the EULA you must agree to before accessing enhanced content (and before the software is actually installed).
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Lots of talk about OS wars when Apple releases OSX that works on Intel chips -- here's the best post I've seen
The post on TUAW pulls no punches in discussing whether or not there will be an OS war between Apple and Microsoft when Apple finally releases OSX that runs on Intel chipsets. Here’s an interesting point from the post:
. . . understand that the average consumer doesn't care what processor is in their computer, nor do they understand the differences between families of processors. They barely understand megahertz speeds. The jargon we're all familiar with (by necessity) is lost to them: CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, megahertz, gigahertz, kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, DPI, TWAIN...we may as well be speaking a foreign language. And the manufacturers haven't made it much easier with every season introducing new trademarked words like Itanium, Celeron, Pentium, G4, G5, Inspiron...ad nauseum. But here's what the general public does understand about computers: that software I picked on the shelf there won't run on this here computer?
Further to the point above, lots of consumer behavior is based on price. Perhaps, as the post points out, that’s why Dell really wants Apple to license OSX to Dell machines.
I think the post makes the most viable prediction for what Apple is going to do: Apple wants a machine that can simultaneously run OSX and Windows. What’s the justification? The post points to a patent filed by Apple to do just what I stated.
Of course, we could all be wrong. Who knows what is going round and round in the brain of Steve Jobs. I can tell you that I would love to be able to use OSX for the majority of the stuff that I do on a daily basis and only have to switch over to Windows when I absolutely needed to use a Windows program. Furthermore, I would love to turn some of the old Windows machines that I have sitting around into OSX machines.
It will be interesting to see what happens.
Only works on OSX.
Have you noticed the new fake tree phenomenon?
Target is selling these things for $499 for the 7 foot model. Although they look a little strange, I think that there’s a little bit of a coolness factor. I’ve heard some people say that it’s “pagan,” but I bet none of those people have a 90 pound chocolate lab with a long and strong tail that can send ornaments on line drives across the living room. I’ll probably wait to get one until they’re on sale after the holidays.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
I was recently in a Lowes and noticed an Oxo display with hammers and other tools with the distinctive Oxo logo and black grips. In my kitchen I use tons of Oxo stuff, so I guess it’s no real surprise to me that they moved into the tool market. Seems that Oxo is launching this new product line in partnership with Lowes.
Kind of cool that Oxo is bringing their “universal design” concept to home improvement.
Although I had posted earlier about Blogger manually reviewing my blog and removing word verification for posts, I am suddenly running into exactly the same problem again, which is extremely irritating. I have submitted, again, for a manual review of my blog and hopefully they will get it fixed for good this time.
TUAW posts about Spodlight, a program that will make the invisible files on your iPod searchable by Spotlight, the search utility integrated into OSX Tiger. Much easier than using the terminal editor to accomplish the same goal.
Cameron Reilly thinks he might be in his blog post. In the vein of his post, here are my points:
- I am 27, married, and have 1 kid
- I’m involved in running a business
- I write a blog that lots of people read
- I’ve got money in the bank that is completely liquid
- I drive a GMC truck, but to be honest am looking hard at a BMW X5
- I watch TV, but I change channels during commercials and hardly utilize all the channels available to me; a lot of time the TV is on just for noise
- I have iPods everywhere and AirTunes in my house, so I never listen to the radio
- I read a ton of books — 50/50 between fiction and non-fiction
- I use a lot of web-based technology; as much as I can get my hands on, most of which is free
- I am moving toward using more and more open-source software
- My preferred information source is the web and blogs and services like Google News — I am frequently so far ahead of the news on TV that I find the nightly news boring
- I use Skype as much as possible and Vonage when I can’t use Skype
- I prefer to use a Mac to using Windows
- I use Firefox exclusively
- I subscribe to lots of business magazines and read most of them online — I throw out most of the hardcopies without looking through them
- I think the Nokia 770 is going to start a massive change — it’s small, it’s easy, and it’s open source (and as soon as I get mine, I’m getting rid of the laptop in the living room)
- I think the iPod Video is changing TV and I’ll get one as soon as they come out with the next version (I never buy cars during their first model year either)
- I hate TiVo because of how they implement DVR but I love the general idea
- I am your worst nightmare and you know who you are
Merlin Mann at 43Folders has a post about 5 annoying e-mail “tics” he wants you to lose. Here are the tics and my response to them:
- The liberal use of the “
VERY HIGH PRIORITY!!!” flag. Remember that if you call “wolf” all the time, people will stop listening. I try to use the little red exclamation mark as little as possible.
- The 18-line sig about all the Bad Things that will happen to me if I ever reveal the contents of your privileged, confidential (and unencrypted) message. I’m removing this message from my sig today. I think I can condense it down to this: “Stuff in this e-mail is confidential, so if it’s not for you and you use it, our legal department will come after you.”
- The unrequested press release (and the serial ignoring of the “Unsubscribe” I sent you for the previous seven press releases). This drives me crazy too.
- The graphical background, font and table tags, and remaining 14k of HTML cruft associated with every. single. message. you’ve ever sent. I totally agree with this — if you do this, stop it now.
- The including of my — plus 98 other strangers’ — personal email addresses in the “
To:” line of your friendly reminder about Tyler’s birthday party. Please learn to use the BCC function, you will find it liberating.
I have a 6th to add and it’s something that I am guilty of:
Ridiculously long signatures that have all of your phone numbers (even though there’s probably one number where people can realistically expect to reach you), your mailing address, your e-mail address (chances are good that your e-mail address is at the top of the message), your webpage (I go back and forth on how useful this is), your instant messenger handles for AIM and Skype (unless you really want someone to whom you send an e-mail to start sending you IMs or call you via Skype, this is not information you should be sharing — the exception would be if calling you with Skype is the best phone to reach you on), any additional gack (I used Plaxo to generate my sig and it ads a bunch of advertising for itself at the bottom).
I am affecting all changes listed above the second I’m done with this post.
I spend a lot of money each month on my DirecTV subscription and it’s mostly for channels that I don’t watch. In addition to my basic subscription, I also spend money on premium movie channels and on local channels. If I were to boil down the channels that I actually watch all the time, it is surprisingly few from the 200+ channels that are available to me, so why can’t I just pay for the channels that I want to watch.
Shawn Conahan posts on the Intercasting Blog about some articles in USA Today:
Here are Shawn’s main points with some of my own comments:
- People don’t want higher quality or more channels at a higher price. I want to pay for the channels that I want to watch. I want to search by program and not care about the channel the program is on as long as I have the ability to pay for unit consumption. Although I have a HD plasma, I don’t have a HD tuner plugged into it because the tuner is expensive and the experience of HD just doesn’t improve the television experience that much for me. I don’t want a TiVo box in my living room, I just want to be able to watch shows that I want to watch when I want to watch them; there’s no reason why I couldn’t stream the shows from DirecTV’s or Comcast’s hard drives; and, yes, I’m willing to pay for the privilege.
- People will pay for, and media companies will support, user-generated programming. I’ve already said it above, but I’m willing to pay to watch shows and pay a little more if they are commercial free. Video iPod anyone? Read Shawn’s comments on what we are willing to pay to send a picture via a cellphone vs. what we are willing to pay to watch 1 hour of commercial-free TV and think about the paradigm shift.
- Media companies will devote massive resources to the pursuit of killing the illegal distribution of their content, which may be a good thing. Just because the market is figuring out the new landscape for media companies does not mean that we as consumers should have to bear the burden of higher monthly costs and crazy DRM schemes so that media companies can fight the inevitable.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Forbes is reporting that Amazon has 2 new services that will extend the functionality of the existing “Search Inside the Book”:
- Amazon Upgrade — web access to a book that you have already purchased. Presumably the book needs to be purchased at Amazon.com for them to have a record of the purchase. This would potentially also solve the MP3.com lawsuit where MP3.com was allowing people to put CDs that they own into their drive and access content stored on MP3.com servers. In the case of Amazon only allowing access to books purchased on Amazon, there would be a purchase record without the need for a unique book serial number to prove ownership.
- Amazon Pages — allows people to purchase individual pages of content that they want from a book.
And he’s probably not wrong.
Gizmodo is reporting about some new technologies that have been developed that could potentially help TSA screening:
- GE Security’s foot scanner that is designed to specifically scan shoes while they are still on the person wearing them. I would certainly welcome this.
- Bottle screener that fires microwaves through a bottle to detect flammable liquids.
- Cyterra’s machine that uses pressure to squeeze explosive particles out of a container that can hold 100 pieces of luggage.
So I’m on my first full week of Night & Day contacts. I must say that I’m quite impressed with the product. It is certainly nice not to have to take out contacts every night and put them in every Mon ring (I was previously using daily disposable contacts); I just put these things in about a week ago and have not taken them out. It’s really nice to be able to wake up at night or even in the morning and be able to see.
The contact itself, although a soft contact, is much wider in diameter than I am used to and is much more rigid than other soft contacts that I have worn; it’s hard to even get the contact to bend around to the incorrect position. One problem that I did find was that it was very hard to get the contacts out of the solution cases when I went to put them in — both contacts stuck to the case and I sort of had to dig them out.
Some things I’ve noticed:
- You should have wetting solution around that is contact-safe. Good to use after sitting at the computer, at night, and when you wake up in the morning. The contacts are far more permeable than other soft lenses, but I live at high altitude, so they do get a little dry sometimes.
- You have to be conscious of the fact that the contacts are in your eyes. This is especially important when playing sports or even when using chemicals or soaps close to your eyes (i.e., keep your eyes closed in the shower when you’ve got soap or conditioner in your hair).
- Walk away from your computer and into natural light several times throughout the day if you are constantly in front of a screen. This is good advice for your eyes in general.
- Wear sunglasses when it’s bright out and try to stay out of direct, heavy wind. Once again, good advice for your eyes in general.
I’ll let you know if they still feel good towards the end of the month.
Monday, November 07, 2005
I previously wrote about the Sony music CD DRM that was screwing up people’s computers. Now it turns out that the Sony DRM is calling home according to Sysinternals. From the post:
- Despite a chorus of criticism over Sony not delivering an uninstaller with their DRM software, Sony refuses to admit blame and to make an uninstaller readily available.
- The download text [of the patch] claims that the rootkit does not pose any “potential security vulnerabilities,” however it’s obvious that any software that cloaks files, directories and Registry keys beginning with a certain string of characters is a clear security risk. Sony’s uncloaking patch puts users systems at risk of a blue-screen crash and the associated chance of data loss.
- the EULA does not disclose the software’s use of cloaking or the fact that it comes with no uninstall facility. An end user is not only installing software when they agree to the EULA, they are losing control of part of the computer, which has both reliability and security implications. There's no way to ensure that you have up-to-date security patches for software you don't know you have and there's no way to remove, update or even identify hidden software that's crashing your computer.
- I downloaded a free network tracing tool, Ethereal, to a computer on which the player was installed and captured network traffic during the Player’s startup. A quick look through the trace log confirmed the users comment: the Player does send an ID to a Sony web site. This screenshot shows the command that the Player sends, which is a request to an address registered to Sony for information related to ID 668, which is presumably the CD's ID. I dug a little deeper and it appears the Player is automatically checking to see if there are updates for the album art and lyrics for the album it’s displaying. This behavior would be welcome under most circumstances, but is not mentioned in the EULA, is refuted by Sony, and is not configurable in any way.
You can do it on the Business Opportunities Weblog. My blog is apparently worth $0. Not sure why that is because I think the calculation runs a simple multiplication of inbound links in Technorati against a pre-set value per link.
Anyway, if it works for you, there’s a nifty little graphic along with the HTML code that you can put on your blog.
Google has introduced a java applet that you can download to your mobile phone that allows you to use location-based technology to access the following:
- Detailed directions
- Satellite imagery
- Integrated search results
- Movable maps
I’d try it, except the applet does not support Nextel or Blackberries. Here’s a list of supported and unsupported devices and service providers:
Local for mobile works with most Java-enabled (J2ME) mobile phones, especially those purchased within the past year; this includes phones offered by Cingular, Sprint and T-Mobile. At this time, Local for mobile doesn't support BREW-enabled phones (e.g. Verizon, Alltel, U.S. Cellular), Nextel phones, Blackberry devices or Palm devices.
If you happen to have a device or service provider that is supported, you should give it a try, especially if you have an unlimited data plan. On the other hand, if you are like me and are unsupported, you will have to SMS to 46645 (GOOGL) or point your mobile browser to http://mobile.google.com/local.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Check it out.
I had an e-mail forwarded to me this morning that was originally from Guy Kawasaki, promoting a new service called FilmLoop. Essentially FilmLoop allows you to broadcast pictures to anyone in your social network in a live, real-time, updating loop. Here’s how Guy Kawasaki explains it in the e-mail:
It is a photo broadcasting ("photocasting") system--enabling you to push pictures to people (as opposed to push people to pictures). It's photo sharing on steroids.
The service sound pretty cool, but I have a problem with it — you have to download an application to run it (and the Macintosh application is not yet ready). This would be much cooler if it ran directly from the browser (like any browser on any operating system).
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Yup, it’s true. From News.com:
. . . compilation "MySpace Records: Volume I."
That initial title will feature a mix of tracks by major-label, independent-label and unsigned acts, including Weezer, the All-American Rejects, Dashboard Confessional, Fall Out Boy, AFI, Against Me, Plain White T's, New Year's Day and Hollywood Undead.
The latter act, a Los Angeles rock/rap act, is MySpace's first signing. The group will issue its own album on the label early in the second quarter of 2006.
The major labels have come to understand the wisdom of promoting their acts on MySpace: This year, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, the Black Eyed Peas and Death Cab for Cutie, among others, have promoted their new releases with album world premieres and music streaming on the site. All those titles enjoyed debuts at or near the top of the Billboard 200. Madonna's new album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," due Nov. 15, will be streamed exclusively on the site.
I’m actually looking forward to replacing my computer in the living room with a Nokia 770. Unfortunately, the device is not yet for sale in the US, but is available all over Europe for about $450. I’m assuming it’s because the device has not yet received FCC approval; hopefully it will be out in time for Christmas. Full specs on the Nokia site. This would be a great holiday stocking stuffer (hint, hint).
Sony DRM on audio CDs apparently hacks your computer. Check this out:
Mark Russinovich of SysInternals did a detailed analysis of a “rootkit” (their word, not ours) he found on his PC, and discovered that, not only was it surreptitiously installed when he played a protected CD, but it also hogged system resources and integrated itself into Windows so deeply that uninstalling it disabled his CD drive. Mark’s conclusion? Choice words such as “frustrating and irritating,” “malware,” and “the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall.”
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and whitelisted so that it will no
longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back
in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your patience,
and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.
Pretty quick for a human review.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Ok, so I started using del.icio.us and you can view my bookmarks here. I will be adding bookmarks from my various computers as I have the time. There is some effort being made on my part not to include sites to which I subscribe with Bloglines via RSS or ATOM as I view that as redundant.
Now how am I going to explain this to mom?
My mom was intrigued by my blog. As an extension of the conversation about my blog, I made an attempt to explain RSS to her without using the actual term “RSS.” Here is the explanation, recorded as accurately as I can remember it:
Blogs are cool and people can read them by directly going to the address of my site. However, the real cool thing about blogs is that you can subscribe to them.
Imagine the way that your newspaper works at home — you are delivered news articles printed on paper every day. Every morning you wake up, go down the driveway, and the newspaper is there full of articles.
Now imagine the ability to be able to subscribe to my blog. Instead of going down the driveway, you simply pull up your page of subscriptions. All of my articles would update in real-time, so as soon as I write an article, it will show up new on your page. You can not visit your page for a few days, and just like newspapers in the driveway, the articles will pile up until you read them or throw them away. Lots of big companies even offer their news articles to be read in this way; you can do it with The New York Times and CNN.
The penetration of this subscription model is really low because it’s in the early adopter stage — it’s estimated that something like 3–5% of US households even understand this subscription thing. I think people get turned off or don’t get excited about it because all of us early adopters use fancy terms for the technology behind it instead of explaining it in english.
You have to imagine why this is so powerful. You subscribe to the stuff you want to read and that’s it, so the people producing that stuff are targeting their most powerful consumer, the consumer that has opted into reading the stuff they are producing. You retain the power, unlike newspapers, where if you do not like the stuff that someone is producing, you can stop subscribing to that particular person.
BMW Films was one of the first to really pioneer the opt-in model with their films; people that visited the site wanted to see the films by the producers that BMW hired, and wanted to see BMW vehicles featured in those films. It’s a powerful thing.
Does that mean mom is going to rush right over to Bloglines and open an account? I hope so, but probably not unless I walk her through it. RSS has to get easier and more transparent and more automagical before people like my mom really adopt it; e-mail suffered the same sort of adoption cycle when it was first introduced.
So how do you judge when RSS goes mainstream? Maybe it’s when your parents start using it (even if they don’t know that they are).
Autoblog has a post with a ton of pictures of the Volvo XC70 AT concept vehicle from the SEMA show. I think that the stock XC70 is a pretty ugly car, but I love the AT model; I’d drive it in a heartbeat. To be honest, I don’t need all the off-road dings and whistles, but the ride height, additional wheel well covers and fairings, skid plates, and large rims and tires would be just fine.
Here’s a picture from the post:
Although I had heard that Blogger had installed a visual barrier for posting to reduce splogs, today was the first time that I had trouble posting to my blog from Blogjet. I received an error with a URL to request a human review of my blog by someone at Blogger to allow an exemption for me to be released from having to use the visual barrier every time I post. Currently, until my human review is complete, my Blogjet-authored posts are saved as drafts to the Blogger site, where I have to log in and enter the visual barrier letters in order to post.
I’m glad that Blogger has installed this system to reduce splogs and furthermore I am glad that there is a human review process to allow exemptions for blogs that are obviously not spolgs. To be honest, the process right now is a pain in the ass, but I have high hopes that the human review will yield an exemption for me. I will say that I would be ok with a visual barrier system that was accessed via an API through Blogjet (or other blog authoring programs, for that matter).
I’ll keep you posted on how things develop. Off I go to hit the post button, log into Blogger, enter the visual barrier text, and post this.
Autoblog posted about Ford’s Mobile Office that will be offered as an option with F250 Ford trucks. The package will include a ruggedized computer (apparently a touchscreen slate PC running Windows XP Pro according to this post on TUAW) with the following features:
- Wireless broadband
- Digital camera
- Power supplied from the truck’s power system when docked
- Other peripherals like credit card readers will be available
Are you paying attention Dodge and GM?