Saturday, December 31, 2005

Some changes to my blog

A little “New Year’s cleaning”:

  • Removal of Chitka.  Why?  Because it’s ugly and it’s not making any money for my daughter’s college fund.
  • Removal of some Adsense advertising.  Why?  Just trying to clean up the site and make the main page cleaner.
  • Change of feed icons to the new standard feed icon.  This icon links to my blog RSS feed on Feedburner.  The ATOM feed is still available and can be auto-discovered, but I like the level of service Feedburner provides to both me as an author and all of you as readers.  I also added some Feedburner “chicklets” that allow you to quickly add my site feed to various aggregators; not an exhaustive list, but some of the more popular.
  • Removed my listing of “Top Referrers.”  Why?  I used to be able to keep track when my blog was just starting out, but now it can change throughout the course of a day and I just can’t keep it up-to-date.
  • Removed the “@” sign from all of my e-mail address links — the amount of spam I receive is astounding, so I replaced the “@” with “[at]”.

I’m thinking of removing the exhaustive listing of all the blogs I subscribe to with Bloglines and just replacing it with a hyperlink that will take you to my public listing on the Bloglines site.  I think this will make the page load faster and get the HTML links list closer to the top.  Anyone have an opinion?

Happy New Year!

Seth Godin's "squid soup"

Seth Godin had a 3–part post (at least it’s 3 parts right now) with some important lessons.  Although I have excerpted some of the information, you should read the full posts:

  • With regard to Crossing the Chasm: The truth is that for most ideas, for most markets, nothing happens at all.
  • With regard to inertia: It’s always easier to do nothing (new).
  • With regard to the early adopters: Marketing is now (potentially) much, much cheaper. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The challenge now isn’t to raise a whole bunch of money. The challenge is to invent a product or service or idea or meme that’s so compelling that the tiny green portion of the curve, the geeks in whatever market you live in, can’t ignore what you have to offer. That, and once they adopt what you’ve got, they can’t help but spread it.

Read all of them to truly understand.

Link — Part I

Link — Part II

Link — Part III

Another listing of web 2.0 companies

I previously posted on Sphere of Influence’s list of the best web 2.0 software.

Yesterday I ran across another such list on TechCrunch that had a lot of stuff I hadn’t heard of and that wasn’t on the previous list.


Walled gardens

Read Shawn Conahan’s post about openness and wireless carriers walled gardens.  Then go take a look at the MAKEbot from Make Magazine.

The easy way to get through walled gardens is to utilize services that wireless carriers have already dedicated bandwidth to rather than demanding bandwidth for a new application.

Link — Openness

Link — MAKEbot

All about Ajax

If you want to know about Ajax, which is used to author a lot of the new sites around the web, Web 2.0 Blog has a great post.


If you've ever ordered wine in a restaurant, you've got to read this

Here are a couple of my favorites from the list on Waiter Rant:

  • DO NOT SMELL THE CORK!  For the uninitiated, the only thing you do with the cork is to check the end that was in the bottle to be sure it’s wet; if it’s wet, it’s been stored correctly.
  • DON’T SMELL THE PLASTIC CORK EITHER!  And for that matter, as Waiter Rant points out, don’t sniff the screw cap (there are a lot of nice wines that now have screw caps).
  • Merlot is a perfectly good wine. Don’t believe all that “Sideways” crap. God I hate that movie!

Read the rest; the list is both funny and educational.

Link — How to Order Wine and Not Look Like An Asshole

Friday, December 30, 2005

Maintenance 3.2

If you use OSX, you should get Maintenance 3.2 — essentially it’s a bunch of scripts that run when you are asleep and keep your machine in the best shape possible.


Gaping Void reports on the results of the Stormhoek wine viral

You should read all the details, but here’s the short version: 100 bottles of wine were sent to bloggers and case sales volume doubled over the course of 1 year.

Pretty amazing stuff.  Do you believe that blogs aren’t powerful?


A TV with plug-ins on the front

Signal vs. Noise reports that HP has finally put the plug-ins on the front of their newest rear projection TV — it’s about time.


Sony rootkit settlement update

According to a post on Ars Technica, I made the wrong assumption yesterday on what service you will have to use to download albums free from Sony.  From the post:

Settlement Class Members may download albums from any one of three major download services. SONY BMG will use commercially reasonable efforts to offer Apple Computer, Inc.’s popular iTunes as one of the download services available to Settlement Class Members.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Treonauts is performing an in-depth review of the Treo 700w

Lots of comparisons to the Palm OS in the 650 — worth a read especially if you are considering investing in a 700.


Nielsen to introduce DVR ratings

Why?  Because there is no longer a choice — DVRs are here to stay and will only grow bigger and they have fundamentally changed television viewing and, therefore, Nielsen ratings.

Link — Marketing Vox

iPods do not damage your hearing

Earbuds jammed into your ear at to high a volume damage your hearing.  This is not a problem that is specific to iPods, it can happen with in-ear 2–way radio sets, any sort of earbuds regardless of the device they are attached to, handsfree calling kits for your cellphone, and anything else that you jam in your ear.

I’m just a little frustrated that news stations seem to be slanting stories so that it seems as if iPod devices themselves are the culprit.

If you jam a speaker inside your ear and crank up the volume of said speaker, you will damage your hearing.

Amazon credit policy

Lifehacker posted 2 posts about Amazon credits: In the first, they describe the credit policy of Amazon — you will get a refund if there is a price drop 30 days from the time of purchase, but you must make the request; in the second, they link to a service that will do the legwork for you in exchange for you providing your e-mail and item — I’m not sure that providing that kind of information to a 3rd party is worth it, but you can do what you want.

Link — Lifehacker Amazon credit policy

Link — Lifehacker Amazon credit service

Forbes list of executives' favorite gadgets

Not a lot of surprises.


VNC is working on the 770

This is awesome because VNC works on pretty much every platform and the application is free.

VNC makes the 770 infinitely more powerful.  Talk about the ultimate iPod remote!

Link — post on Internet Tablet Talk User’s Blog

Link — VNC app

Sony proposes settlement for the rootkit class action lawsuit

Not surprisingly, is reporting that Sony has proposed a settlement for the class action brought against them for their malicious rootkit software.  From the story, here is a bulleted list of what Sony has agreed to for XCP CDs:

  • Immediate recall of all CDs with XCP software
  • Incentives to exchange XCP CDs — either a free download of 3 albums (probably from the Sony music store and encoded in ATRAC) or $7.50 cash and 1 free album download (see my previous parenthetical remark)
  • In order to make a claim, consumers must return their CD to Sony with a receipt showing that the CD was purchased at a retailer after Nov. 14 (not like this is super-likely)

For CDs with MediaMax, Sony is not doing a recall, but will compensate buyers with 1 free album download and MP3 versions of the audio on the MediaMax CD.

I can’t say that I am super-impressed with what Sony is offering, but others might disagree.


USA Today reports that download music sales have doubled

In an article today, USA Today reports that year-on-year downloaded music sales have doubled from 134.2 million in 2004 to 332.7 million in 2005 (even though 2005 is not yet over).  Furthermore, the article reports that traditional CD sales are down about 8% in the same time period.  Here’s something interesting from the article:

Full-album downloads are counted under album sales along with other formats. Most digital downloads reflect single-track purchases.


Nokia 770 is Time's gadget of the week

Pretty favorable review and they list a link to where you can download additional applications.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Possible class action for a RAM issue on 15" Powerbooks

Lawyers and Settlements has the details, but essentially there is some issue with certain OSX versions that may cause a 15” Powerbook to not recognize RAM loaded into the second RAM bay at the bottom of the Powerbook.  You can register your complaint if you want on the Lawyers and Settlements site.


iTMS experiences sales increases over the holidays

TUAW reports that the iTunes Music Store saw a 50% traffic increase on Dec. 24 & 25, and a 15% overall year-on-year increase to date in December; they may even see a million total downloads in the month of December, which would be a record.  Hard to believe those people that are saying Apple is negatively affecting download sales.


Free voicemail for Skype (not from Skype)

Orb Networks has released V4S (yes, it mean “Voicemail For Skype” — clever).  Nifty features abound and there seems to be no reason not to use this if you are a Skype user.


Build a web and file server for around $200

There’s a digg about building a $200 web and file server.  While the site that digg forwards to provides a good basic framework, the fact that some parts were purchased on Ebay and that he had a “extra” copy of Windows XP may skew the results.  However, it still goes to show how cheap it is to fund an idea these days.



ReactOS is an open-source, Windows XP-compatible operating system.  I just stumbled across it, so I have no idea how well it works, but it seems pretty cool.


RIAA recent stupidity -- all in one easy to digest blog post

Dark Lanternist has compiled a bulleted list of recent RIAA stupidity into a single blog post — worth reading.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

TiVo-branded Wireless G network adapter

Engadget is reporting that TiVo has released their own, branded Wireless G network adapter.  Just in time for after the holiday rush (i.e., the time when they could have offered that as an upsell for all the people buying TiVo units as gifts for other people) when many people like me have already purchased a 3rd party “TiVo-approved” USB Wireless network adapter.

Apparently the adapter is different from other USB adapters in that it handles some amount of processing for multiple TiVo unit content transfer and TiVoToGo functions.  I’d sure love to see performance tests between the TiVo-branded unit and non-TiVo-branded units before I was willing to plunk down another $50 to replace a USB adapter that’s not broken.


Leatherman Wave

I got a Leatherman Wave for Christmas, which was perfect timing as my 5–year-old Gerber multi-tool had finally broken.  The Wave is cool because it has knife blades on the outside that you can access without folding out the whole tool.

Playing with the Wave, I was thinking that Leatherman is making a big mistake on not letting a guy like me customize the knife blade options on the exterior of the Wave (and other models that have exterior blades).  If I could customize the Wave, (and, yes, I would pay a premium for it) I would have both of the exterior blades be serrated instead of one flat and one serrated; it’s just more useful for me that way.

I’m not saying that Leatherman (or Gerber or even Swiss Army, for that matter) have to allow the consumer to customize everything (although that would be damn cool), just allow enough customization that the thing feels personalized and cool — we would all pay a little more for it.



There seems to be some buzz around omnidrive in the hosted storage space.  I just signed up for a beta invite, so I’ll let you know my experience, but it’s worth checking out the site (and maybe signing up for yourself).


Flipping your ocmpany

Scoble links to Dare Obasanjo who writes about the key things that really matter if you want to flip your company to a bigger company — good read if that’s what you are looking to do.


Alan Guitierrez's steps for launching a corporate blog

Scoble points to Alan Guitierrez’s blog, where Alan discusses starting a corporate blog.  One of my favorite quotes (and Scoble’s as well) is:

“If your employees are releasing confidential information, that’s not a blogging problem. It is a more general problem. It’s called incompetence.”

Read the whole thing, especially if your company has yet to jump into the blogosphere.

Link handles the back-end for Upromise

How do I know this?  I found out today when I went to update a credit card in Mileage Plus Dining.  After I had entered my new card number to receive Mileage Plus miles on United, I received an error that stated my card was already enrolled in another program.  Confused, I called Rewards Network customer service who informed me that the card was already registered for Upromise, so it could not be registered for 2 programs that Reward Network handled.  Nowhere on the Rewards Network site is there a disclosure about Upromise nor is there a disclosure about Rewards Network conflicts on the Upromise site or on the Mileage Plus Dining site.

I wonder if the various program partners of Upromise and Mileage Plus Dining know about the Rewards Network system limitation.  If I owned a restaurant and was paying to participate in Rewards Network to drive people to my restaurant by providing United Mileage Plus miles, I would definitely want to know that people subscribed to Upromise would not receive that benefit.  Furthermore, it sucks for me as a consumer to not be able to receive both Upromise money for my daughter’s college as well as Mileage Plus miles for dining out.

Link — Rewards Network main page

Hard to Find 800 Numbers

Sorted by company name.  Wouldn’t just be easier if companies made their numbers easy to find?


Mark Cuban vs. Patrick Byrne, CEO of

Mark Cuban has an interesting explanation of his position on Patrick Byrne.  The story is almost too weird to believe, so it’s best just to read Cuban’s post.  These words from Cuban should inspire you to read the full post:

. . . in a perfect world, if I want a company to fail, I wouldn’t go to the SEC, or to the DOJ . . . I would just try to get them to hire Patrick Byrne.


Should you edit your own Wikipedia page?

If you have an entry about you in the Wikipedia, should you edit it?

  • Scoble thinks that you shouldn’t.
  • Ross Mayfield doesn’t agree with Scoble
  • I don’t have an entry about me, so I guess I’m not sure what I think

Perhaps I should go create an entry about me; if I do that, I think I’m leaning more towards Mayfield than towards Scoble — now I’ve confused myself.

Link — Scoble

Link — Mayfield

Car thieves in New York are stealing car doors

I find it a little hard to believe, but according to AutoBlog, it’s actually happening.  Apparently these folks are stealing the entire door from the car (i.e., removing it at the hinges).


Gadgets and gizmos

Rather than author a bunch of posts, here are some things that caught my eye:

  • If you have a 3G iPod with a battery problem, you need to get on filing a claim in the class-action suit so that you can collect your $50 Apple store credit (sure, you can get a replacement battery, but that’s a pain).
  • New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is looking at whether or not she should try to go after the music industry for price fixing of song downloads.
  • The XBox Live Diamond Card is being given to XBox Live users as an added value item.  Apparently the card lists your gamer ID (I don’t know how useful that really is), costs you nothing, and XBox is partnering with restaurants, stores, and other partners to offer discounts to cardholders.
  • For $29.95 you can purchase the VIOlight toothbrush sanitizer that blasts your brush with UV light to kill germs.  AA batteries required (and not included).
  • Full specs, pricing, and release information for the Treo 700W on Verizon were posted in Howard Forums.
  • Songbird could wind up being the open source competitor to iTunes, we’ll have to see.
  • Evhead lists the top ten social media platforms as shown on the Alexa Top 100 List.  There’s some stuff on there I haven’t really heard of before.
  • Om Malik has posted about a whole bunch of blog tools.

Link — Engadget iPod class action

Link — Engadget Spitzer investigation

Link — Kotaku XBox Diamond card

Link — MobileWhack VIOlight toothbrush sanitizer

Link — Howard Forums Treo 700W

Link — Songbird

Link — evhead’s list

Link — Om Malik’s blog tools

A Firefox plug-in that lets you blog directly from within the browser

Micro Persuasion provided information about Performancing for Firefox 1.5, which is a Firefox plug-in (that only works for version 1.5) that allows you to blog from directly within the Firefox browser.  Though it is not as robust as some 3rd party applications, it’s not bad for being able to author posts from within the browser.


The new RSS/feed icon

This, courtesy of Micro Persuasion, is the new standard icon for RSS/feeds:

Mozilla and Microsoft have both agreed on the standardization of the icon above, so I guess it’s time to get with the program.  I’ve included a link below to the original Micro Persuasion post that was the source of the graphic above as well as a link to a later Micro Persuasion post that provides a link to scalable vector art of the new graphic (if you are in need of such things).

Link — Micro Persuasion graphic post

Link — Micro Persuasion post with vector art

Dental services across the border

I know some number of people that have gone across the border into Mexico to have extensive dental work done for less than their insurance contribution would have been in the US.  According to someone that I know well in San Diego who has had work done in Mexico, the dentist he uses is very professional — a dental assistant meets him in San Diego, travels with him on the trolley to the border, walks across the border with him, has a car to drive him to the office, and repeats the process for the trip back.

TP Wire Service reports that a company called Dentimundo is providing a bit more structure and formality to the process.

Certainly worth looking at whether or not you have dental insurance if you need extensive work done (maybe even worth looking at for routine items if you don’t have insurance).  As with all things like this, exercise the appropriate level of caution.


Southwest removes award travel blackouts

Notiflyer is reporting that effective Feb. 10, 2006, Southwest will remove all blackouts system-wide for awards travel, meaning that you will be able to more fully utilize your rewards.

Southwest starts service in and out of Denver on Jan. 3rd.



What are domain name decisions these days?

Live Nation is the name of the Clear Channel concerts and motorsports spin-off (formerly known as Clear Channel Spinco).  If you go to, you will go to the Live Nation company site, but if you go to (this is most definitely NSFW), you will get automatically redirected to a porn site.  So here are my questions:

  • Do you investigate things like this before you register the primary domain for your company?
  • Do you buy up every dot extension of your domain name when you do decide what to use?
  • How much do you spend to buy something like if you decide that your domain name has to be just one thing?

Back from Napa with lots to blog about

Napa was great — little bit of rain, but mostly weather in the 60s.

Did sparkling wine tasting at Mumm (I highly recommend the Santana DVX) and a private tour at Grgich Hills ( I highly recommend the 2000 Chardonnay).

Stayed at Silverado; I haven’t been there recently and the new grill has been tastefully re-done with an asian-themed menu.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

ReplayTV is going to release its DVR software for the PC

Some time in 2006, ReplayTV will release its DVR software for use on a PC.  This should have a significant impact on the DVR market, especially if the processor and memory requirements are not too high — imagine being able to dump a bunch of cheap hard drives and a high-end video card into an old computer you have sitting around and turn it into a bad-ass DVR.  It will be interesting to see how this develops.


Sync Macs without using (and paying for) .mac

One of the very attractive features of .mac is the ability to sync multiple Macintosh computers; lots of the other .mac features are available for free through other service providers.  Now you can sync multiple Macs with MySync according to this post on TUAW.  Apparently you set up one Mac as the master and the rest of the Macs you want to sync as slaves.  The best part is that MySync is free (note that Tiger is required).

I can’t wait to give this a try.


2005 Google Zeitgeist is available

Click the link below.  If you don’t know what a Google Zeitgeist is, you can read an explanation here.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ajax custom startpages seem to grow by the second

Link — Pageflakes (only works with IE, which means I’ll probably not try it and probably never use it because I’ll be so comfortable with something else by the time it comes out of alpha)

Link — Favoor

Link — Netvibes

Link — Protopage (I like this because you can drag and drop stuff anywhere and put post-it notes all over the screen)

There’s probably more of them out there.

Is Apple holding back the music industry?

I don’t think so and most people I know don’t think so, but you may want to check out an article on BusinessWeek that quotes some people blaming Apple for a 0.44% decrease in illegal downloads; the CEO of Napster even goes so far as to kill Apple/Steve Jobs a “villain.”

Let’s see, the decline in sales probably has nothing to do with the Sony BMG/rootkit debacle or the fact that the labels are squeezing the consumer by wanting to charge more than $0.99 per track (of course they claim they only want to do this for new, popular tracks) or requiring consumers on iTunes to purchase an entire CD to get one hit single.

Apple is not the problem, the industry is the problem (it wasn’t that long ago that Napster was the villain).  It wasn’t really so long ago that there were no legal download numbers to measure, it was all illegal download numbers that were measured.  Perhaps the problem is not that consumers are downloading less legal music, perhaps the problem is that the record industry is not investing in new talent that would drive legal downloads.


You can give Nokia 770 developers feedback about the device

Ari Jaaksi, one of the 770 developers, is seeking feedback about the device on his blog.  If you have one and want to sound off, this is a good place to do it.


Speaking of outages . . .

. . . Bloglines has a planned outage tomorrow:

  • 2:00pm Pacific Daylight Time (10:00pm UTC): Your subscriptions will stop updating with new items.
  • 4:00pm PDT (12:00am UTC December 20th): The Bloglines site will be completely offline. During this time you will not be able to access your account.
  • 8:00pm PDT (4:00am UTC December 20th): The Bloglines site will be back online by this time. New articles posted during the outage will appear in your account.

Perhaps this is the best time of year for outages — people are out of the office and may not be using their connections at home (last minute shopping and all that family stuff).


Don't go to right now

You’ll get this message: is down for emergency maintenance. we'll be back as soon possible


Measure Map

I’m always interested in blog statistics for my blog.  I just ran across Measure Map and submitted my e-mail so that they can send me and invite; the information that the capture and how it’s presented looks pretty interesting and it’s all free.  I’ll let you know how it is once I get it all set up.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

XBox 360 re-release is tomorrow at Best Buy

Remember, Best Buy has been stockpiling XBox 360s for another release tomorrow, December 18th.

It’s 16 degrees in Colorado, so I hope that you are not already in line; chances are good it will be single digits or below zero tonight if you are camping out.

If you are trying to get a XBox 360, you should check out the list of quantities by store number on Kotaku.


Friday, December 16, 2005


Clipmarks allows you to save only the information that you want from webpages and to tag and add comments to the clips you save.  Clips can be saved privately and publicly.  There are add-ins for both IE and Firefox to allow easy clipping, but only the Firefox add-in works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Registration is free.


Gmail mobile

Google has just launched Gmail Mobile, which allows you to use a mobile phone browser to access Gmail.  Check out more features and bookmark on your mobile.


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Cheap surveys

CUCEO reports on their experience with SurveyMonkey and give it high marks in being low cost and high support (what more can you ask for?).  Sounds like a good place to start if you are looking at doing an online survey.


HBO is apparently talking to Apple about providing video content

The steamroller is picking up steam — if Apple is able to secure major networks and HBO as a major cable network, they very well could dominate the digital video market like they currently dominate the digital video market.

Link — Google News

Hyatt Regency in Denver to get computerized check-in kiosks

How do you feel about that?  Just like printing a plane ticket at a kiosk at the airport, you can swipe your card and get your room key at a kiosk in the soon-to-be-opened Hyatt here in downtown Denver.

If it really feels good and works from the consumer perspective, then there is really no reason not to put the check-in kiosks out at the airport just like some of the MGM/Mirage properties have done in Vegas.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Subscribe to Strategize with Gmail web clips

Here are the instructions:

  1. Log into Gmail.  If you don’t have a Gmail account, either create one, or e-mail me and I’ll send you an invite. 
  2. Click “Settings” at the top of the Gmail page.
  3. Click the “Web Clips” tab.
  4. Enter “” in the field under Search by topic or URL.
  5. Click “Search” and Gmail will locate the ATOM feed for my blog.
  6. Click Add so you can view my posts in Gmail.

Opinmind blog search

To differentiate itself from other blog search engines, Opinmind splits results into positive and negative.  Kind of interesting to play with.

You should add your blog if you do not find that you are coming up in the search results — do this by searching for your blog and then scrolling down; you will see a “Don’t see your blog in our results?” field.


Earn free songs by giving iTunes gift certificates

TUAW is reporting that you will receive 10 free songs for each $25 iTMS gift certificate and 25 free songs for each $50 iTMS gift certificate.  Offer expires Dec. 31, 2005.

Hell, you could even send the gift certificate to yourself — $50 for $75 worth of music isn’t a bad investment.


Turn your blog's feed into an instant podcast

That’s what Feed 2 Podcast will do for you; just make sure you are publishing the full text of your posts in your RSS/ATOM feed.

Sounds a little like Hal.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

If you're not watching Sleeper Cell on Showtime, you're missing out

10 episodes in 2 weeks with action and intrigue as good or better than 24.


Seth Godin has lots to say about online marketing

And you should listen to what he has to say; here’s an example from a recent interview that he did:

1. Does it perplex you that many big brands still have reservations about the web?

Not at all. Big brands got that way by doing the things that worked over and over. They're not good at the new, and they're horrible at experimenting.

5. Interruptive online ads are thought to damage brands, yet we still see an awful lot of advertising clutter on the major publishing sites. What would you say to these publishers and advertisers?

They're not listening, so I can't say much of anything.

If they were listening, I'd ask them to do one thing: measure.

Makes you want to read the whole thing, doesn’t it?

Link — original interview

Link — re-print on Seth’s Blog


I was playing around with SimplyHired today because it seems to be getting some press — apparently SimplyHired is getting a capital infusion.  For a job search engine, the interface is very clean and simple and the site is extremely easy to use.


How to create a life poster

I initially saw this at this post on TUAW, which links through to the original instructions from Mike Matas.  Here’s a picture of the life poster from Mike’s blog:

Essentially you take 98 individual pictures and turn them into a 30”x20” poster.  Full instructions are on Mike’s blog and you should definitely read them because it will make the project very easy.  Mike estimates the cost at about $29 per poster.

I really don’t see any reason why you couldn’t pull off the same sort of project with Flickr if you don’t have/use iPhoto.


TiVo set up experience and initial impressions

We received our 80–hour TiVo earlier than expected, so I had a chance to set it up; here are my thoughts and experiences:

  • I activated the TiVo at home on the internet — very easy to enter the promotion code from the gift certificate that gave me 12 months of service.  It is important to note that you can apply the value of the 12 month service certificate to the lifetime membership if you want to.
  • Although some people have reported success doing the initial set up over broadband or over Vonage, I did the initial set up with a land-based phone line at my office.
  • The initial set up is very easy once you have a phone line and have the TiVo connected to a TV — you need a tv to see what you are doing on the screen.  I found out that I needed to have a video source going into the TiVo to work through the installation, but luckily we have a DirecTV receiver at work close to the land-based phone line, so this was not a problem.
  • Initial set up takes about an hour and then the TiVo unit needs 4–8 hours to process everything it downloaded; during this time I was instructed by the unit not to unplug it, so I just left it at work overnight.
  • There is no option that I could find to gracefully shutdown the TiVo unit, so I just unplugged the power cord when i picked it up from the office.
  • Everything was very straight forward when I plugged the unit into my entertainment system last night.  I’m bummed that there is not component in and out on the unit; highest quality video in/out is S-Video.  The TiVo does not come with S-Video cables, so you need to purchase them if you want to use that option.
  • The use of the IR cables to control my DirecTV box was a little sketchy — I made it through the initial set up just fine, and about 30 minutes later, the TiVo couldn’t change channels any more, so I had to adjust the position of the IR transmitters.
  • Setting up the universal remote to control my tv and a/v system was a pleasure.  Although the set up was not much different than any other universal remote, the experience of reading codes from the tv screen is so much better than trying to read from a list of microscopic codes in a manual.
  • I plugged in the Netgear 802.11g USB wifi adapter that I bought at CompUSA (note that the box of the adapter has the TiVo symbol on it to make your life a little easier than having to check the serial number).  The TiVo automatically detected the adapter and ran my through the set-up process, which made it very easy to select my network and enter the WEP key.  Hopefully I won’t ever have to use a phone line again with the TiVo.

We used the TiVo last night to pause live tv, which is pretty cool and reminded me of a post I wrote in January 2004 about using DVRs to watch the first 10 minutes of a reality show, fast forward through the middle 40 minutes, and watch the last 10 minutes.

The TiVo has not been set up long enough for us to have scheduled anything to record, so I cannot yet speak to that feature set.  My wife seems to find the interface very intuitive and I think both of us are very happy with the single remote.  One of the big questions that my wife had was whether we could record one show while watching another — unfortunately, unless you have DirecTiVO, I don’t think there’s a TiVo box that supports multiple inputs (and we’d need another DirecTV receiver in the living room).  I did explain to her that we could record something while watching recorded content, so I think once we get some stuff recorded, this will become less of an issue.

I need to go buy some S-Video cables.

Dean Gray Tuesday

Check it out.


Amazon makes the Alexa Web Search platform public

This is pretty damn cool — Amazon has made the Alexa Web Search platform open to the public.  From the site:

Users can search and process billions of documents -- even create their own search engines -- using Alexa's search and publication tools. Alexa provides compute and storage resources that allow users to quickly process and store large amounts of web data. Users can view the results of their processes interactively, transfer the results to their home machine, or publish them as a new web service.

You should think about how your company might be able to use this.



Walletex has taken the USB flash drive and made it into a credit card-sized device.  I love my USB flash drive and use it all the time, but it would be cool to keep one in my wallet.

It seems like there’s an awful lot of surface area for advertising if a company were looking for using these as a promotional item.


Corporate Canaries: Avoid Business Disasters with a Coal Miner's Secrets

I just finished reading Corporate Canaries by Gary Sutton.  Although I was initially a little skeptical of learning business lessons from stories about working in coal mines (coal mines used to use canaries to detect poisonous gas — if the canary stopped chirping and/or died, it was time to get the hell out of the mine shaft), my mind was changed after reading the first chapter.

Sutton summarizes what the book is about very succinctly:

Corporate Canaries is the first and only book showing managers how to detect potential disasters.

There are 5 potential disaster situations that Sutton instructs managers to look out for:

  1. Losses cannot be outgrown
  2. Debt, in general, can kill a business
  3. Blindness to reality is foolish
  4. Not making a decision is worse than making one
  5. Markets evolve and death is not uncommon

You need to read the book to really understand what Sutton is talking about with regard to each of the 5 topics.

I really liked how Sutton lead off each chapter with a story about Grandpa, the coal miner — the story leads you directly into the lesson of the chapter.  However, interspersed among the coal miner stories are boxes with small, real-world examples of the very lesson that the story seeks to teach; unfortunately these small boxes are distracting and sometimes teach you the lesson in a way that makes you skip the coal miner story.  My suggestion would be to skip the boxes as you are reading the coal miner story and come back and read the boxes once you have read all about Grandpa.

It was refreshing to see a book that is this useful come in such a small package — it has been my experience that it is much easier to get managers in organizations to read books that are shorter, smaller, easier to transport, and quickly get to the point.  I agree with Sutton with this statement he makes at the very beginning of the book and admire the guarantee he makes in the same sentence:

This book will help managers detect a serious business problem, either in your company or in a competitor's within a year of reading.  If not, I will return your money plus a dollar.

This book teaches lessons with easy-to-understand stories and plain terminology (no business buzzwords) and I would highly recommend it.


Important disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge by Universal Buzz.  Although I did not pay for the book, I have provided a completely objective review in the post above; in fact I’m probably tougher reviewing books that I receive free of charge than I am reviewing books that I pay for.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Dion Hinchcliffe's list of the best Web 2.0 software of 2005

Dion Hinchcliffe of Sphere of Influence has posted his list of the best Web 2.0 software for 2005.  There are lots of things that you would expect on the list, but it’s worth taking a look at if you are looking to quickly get going with the Web 2.0.


Ringtone creation

I wanted to produce some MP3 ringtones for my new Treo, so I played around with the easiest and cheapest way to do it this weekend and here’s what I found:

  • Download Audacity — it is available for free for both Windows and Mac (I used it on my Mac)
  • Download the LAME MP3 encoder that Audacity needs to save sound files as MP3s
  • Open the MP3 file that you want to turn into a MP3 ringtone.  If you have your files in AAC or you have files that you purchased with iTunes, the easy thing to do is to burn them to a CD and pull the WAV files into Audactiy
  • Once the file is open in Audacity, zoom in several times until you can view the sound file by the second.
  • Insert a marker with your mouse where you want the ringtone to start.
  • Drag from the marker to where you want the ringtone to end (i.e., drag to the right from the marker)
  • Export your selection as a MP3 — be sure to title it how you want to see it on your phone
  • In the case of the Treo, insert your SD card into a card reader and drag and drop the MP3 file into the “Audio” folder.  Note that you probably need Ringo on the Treo to play MP3 ringtones and Ringo creates the Audio folder for you upon installation
  • Select your newly created MP3 as a ringtone from Ringo and off you go

These instructions apply (naturally) only to music that you own.

Portable Firefox

You know, the Firefox that you put on a USB drive — 1.5 is available for download.


Do you know someone that deserves coal in their stocking? has Coal bubble gum for sale.  The gum comes in a black box about the size of a bar of soap; all of the gum inside is individually wrapped, flavored black gum balls.  You need to order by Dec. 22 for guaranteed Dec. 24 delivery.  Each box costs $5.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Want to be the Time Person of the Year?

Chances are good that it’s not going to happen.  However, you can submit your picture and Time will probably display it on the big electronic billboard that they have set up in Times Square.  Interesting promotional idea.


Nokia 770 available for pick-up at CompUSA and my initial, quick review

Although Nokia has been processing my order for the 770 since Nov. 14th and still not shipped, I was able to get my hands on a 770 today at CompUSA.  Price was the same as Nokia, but I didn’t have to pay for the shipping, so I actually saved some money over what it would have cost buying direct from Nokia.  On the one hand, it’s kind of a bummer that Nokia isn’t servicing their pre-order clients prior to CompUSA, but on the other hand, I’m glad I was able to quickly get one.

The guy at CompUSA told me that they had only received 3 total units in the store, so quantities may be low around your area; the closest store to me didn’t actually receive any units, so I had to drive about 15 miles to pick this one up today.

My initial thoughts on the device are as follows (the battery’s still not even fully charged yet):

  • The design is awesome.  I love the cover and how it is an integral part of the device operation.
  • The little stand holder is actually a very intelligent design; it doesn’t look like it when you unpack it, but the stand does exactly what it should.  I do wish there was a way to route the power cable more efficiently, but that’s a minor point.
  • I had a little trouble connecting to my network because I wasn’t entering the full WEP HEX code.  Here’s a tip: the 770 will allow you to continue building your network connection with an incorrect WEP code, so if you get a pop-up error telling you that you have not entered enough characters, you should believe the device and re-enter the data until you do not receive a pop-up.
  • The text input screen seems to pop up whenever I need it; very intelligent interface design that makes you not feel like you are drowning with just a stylus.
  • Instant-on means instant-on — the screen lights up before you even have it a 1/4 way out of the sleeve.
  • Page rendering is very quick and every page I visited looked exactly as it does in Firefox.
  • The resolution on the bowser screen is very high and a little hard to read; probably a setting I can change somewhere.
  • The default language selection was UK English, which I found interesting.
  • When I select the “Nokia 770” bookmark, it takes me to the Nokia Europe site, not Nokia USA.

I’ve heard that there’s already an update available for the device.  Initially I was a little worried about the update because it’s hosted on the Europe site, but after playing with the device, I don’t really think it matters.

More information to come after I’ve had some more time to play with it.

Link (be sure to enter your zip because it’s not available to ship)

Best Apple iBook price I've seen

This is from the Amazon Deals Shopping Blog:

The price has been lowered from $999.99 to $899.99. In addition, this computer also qualifies for a $100 rebate. The bottom line, $799.99. Rebate expires 12/20/05, see details.

This computer also qualifies for a free Apple Mighty Mouse after rebate. This rebate expires 12/31/05, see details.

The example above is for the 12” iBook (1.33 GHZ) with 512MB RAM, 40GB HD, combo drive, and built-in Airport Extreme.  Like it says in the title of the post, it’s the best price I’ve seen for a non-refurb.


Unbundle the shows

I have a confession to make: I will soon be the owner of an 80–hour TiVo box.  “How can you do this?” you might ask.  Admittedly, I have not been the biggest proponent of TiVo for the last couple of years.  However, with the arrival of our baby, my wife and I need to modify the way that we watch tv — we need to be able to pause live tv, we would like to be able to record our favorite programs and watch them at our leisure, and I would like to be able to take record tv programs with me when I travel — and TiVo, right now, is the best solution.  That’s not to say that if a better solution comes along from a company like Apple, we wouldn’t change over, but the other simple factor is this: I am very comfortable with technology while it just needs to work easily for my wife (not that she doesn’t understand technology, she does better than a lot of people, but recording tv can’t be a pain in the ass or she won’t use it).

When I was weighing back and forth on how much of a hypocrite I would be by getting TiVo after bashing it for so long, I came across a post on TechDirt regarding unbundling tv shows from the stations, which is what the rumored Apple media center is supposed to do:

. . . the next generation of children will have no concept of what a channel is because they'll just subscribe to shows individually. The thing is, just as setting up a la carte channels would mean a big change for cable companies, setting up the ability to subscribe to individual shows would be an even bigger leap. That's why it's unlikely the cable companies will be the first to go there (though, they've done some experiments with on-demand shows). It's the perfect way, however, for the telcos pushing IPTV to jump into the game, by offering something a lot more interesting and different than just a cable copycat.

Unbundling the shows certainly would solve all of the issues that I’m trying to solve right now with TiVo, but we need a solution now.  Certainly I look forward to when I can just subscribe to a show without having to pay for 500 channels that I don’t use, but for the short term, I suppose that I’ll just have to be happy using TiVo’s Season Pass feature.



Jeremy Wright initially brought up capacity scaling issues on his blog, essentially saying that Web 2.0 companies need 99.99% uptime or else [CORRECTION: Jeremy was generally ranting about uptime and never specifically called for 99.99% uptime; I inferred this based on a later post by Jeremy, which is worth reading].  I enjoyed Signal vs. Noise’s response to Jeremy’s post because it provides a concise explanation of why 99.99% uptime is really hard:

To go from 98% to 99% can cost thousands of dollars. To go from 99% to 99.9% tens of thousands more. Now contrast that with the value. What kind of service are you providing? Does the world end if you’re down for 30 minutes?

If you’re Wal-Mart and your credit card processing pipeline stops for 30 minutes during prime time, yes, the world does end. Someone might very well be fired. The business loses millions of dollars. Wal-Mart gets in the news and loses millions more on the goodwill account.

Signal vs. Noise goes on to question what the implications for a service like Flickr are if they operate at less 99% uptime; the answer is that right now it’s probably no big deal.

The same questions and arguments can be applied to internal corporate applications.  Is it ok if your company’s e-mail doesn’t work all the time?  Probably not, especially with people accessing over the web, via Treos and Blackberries, and working on the weekends.  Is it ok if the human resources web portal doesn't have a 99% uptime?  HR might tell you that it is, but chances are good that HR is not working 7 days a week in most companies.

Signal vs. Noise introduces a great term for evaluating uptime that came from Alistair Cockburn: “Criticality”.  The percentage of uptime is directly related to the level of criticality.




Ross Mayfield reports on a new wiki community called “wikilaw”:

Wikilaw's goal is to build the largest open-content legal resource in the world. To accomplish this goal, Wikilaw needs your help! We encourage all law professors, practitioners, and students to share their knowledge.

Currently, there are roughly 1,000,000 lawyers in the United States. If every lawyer in America contributed a fraction of their legal knowledge to this site, Wikilaw would become one of the largest libraries of legal information in the world.

How cool would it be if even 25% of the lawyers in the country took time to populate the wiki?  Now, how do you make this happen?  I’m pretty sure you’d have to figure out how to indemnify and hold harmless anyone that posted any information to the wiki.


Google's advertising argument for Prada

Adjab covers the argument made my Google VP of Product Management, Jonathan Rosenberg, with regard to Prada advertising:

. . . fashion company Prada would be better off participating in the Google AdWords program than advertising in high-end print publications such as Vanity Fair. Rosenberg breaks it down by the numbers, saying a $.28 AdWords buy can target readers who are actually and actively looking for Prada merchandise, versus magazine readers who aren't doing so, not to mention all the potential buyers who won't even see the print ad.

Insert your company name for “Prada”  in the quote above and then evaluate whether or not you should be doing AdWord advertising; it’s a strong argument to refute.


Public domain movie torrent

TUAW reports on the public domain torrent stream that you can take a look at to load up your video iPod.


2 good points about work

From The Work Better Weblog:

  1. The current problems cannot be fixed by the behaviors, processes, and relationships that caused them.
  2. Not completely fixed is better than completely broken.


I can't wrap

Seriously.  I am totally deficient when it comes to wrapping presents.  I’ve read instructions on how to do it, looked a pictures on how to do it, and even had people show me how — still can’t do it.  I’m sure glad that there’s a gift wrap option on Amazon.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Yahoo has purchased

Not much more to say.


Google Earth beta for OSX

This digg provides the download location for the beta of the Google Earth software for OSX.  Can’t wait to try this on the big 20” LCD screen.


JotSpot Tracker

MicroPersuasion reports on a new service called JotSpot Tracker that allows you to put MS Excel spreadsheets on the JotSpot site for sharing and collaboration.  As Steve Rubel, author of MicroPersuasion, rightly points out:

Combine this baby with JotLive or Writely and not only are you this close from being liberated from Microsoft Office, but you gain very powerful collaboration features as well.

I didn’t see any information on pricing after the 30 day trial, but I’m sure it’s there somewhere.



I stumbled across CoverFlow, which is a visual way to display your iTunes library by browsing CD covers or other artwork it finds based on how your music is tagged.  Unfortunately, the software only works on a OSX Tiger, but it’s pretty damn cool; basically looks like a virtual jukebox.

The software is in beta, but what isn’t these days?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

My thoughts on the recent air marshal shooting

There are all kinds of news stories with all kinds of opinions about the air marshal that shot and killed the man yesterday who claimed he had a bomb.  I travel a lot by plane and feel safer knowing that air marshals are willing to take decisive action rather than waiting to determine the validity of a person’s claim.

What everyone should take away from this incident includes:

  • No making jokes about bombs, terrorism, etc. on airplanes or in airports; you will be taken seriously
  • For those that would seek to do bad things — air marshals are around and are willing to take decisive action

I will be very disappointed if we see any sort of lawsuit come out of this incident.


Best Buy XBox 360 stuff

First, I stumbled across a copy of the open letter from Best Buy to consumers regarding the initial XBox 360 launch on the Social Customer Manifesto.  The entire letter is reproduced below, but essentially states that the forced purchasing of XBox 360 bundles is not the policy of Best Buy and you can return any XBox 360 stuff you bought for a full refund.

"TO: Open Letter to Customers

FROM: Brian Dunn, President – Retail, North America

RE: Launch of Xbox 360

CC: Best Buy Store, District and Territory Employees; All Officers and Directors

DATE: December 6, 2005

I’m writing to apologize.

While all of us at Best Buy were thrilled to be part of the recent launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 video game system – one of the most anticipated events in the history of electronic gaming – the launch did not go as we had hoped. We sold out of Xbox 360s nationwide in less than two hours, and most of our stores did an outstanding job of serving our gaming customers. I’d like to thank the majority of our employees, who provided a terrific experience for customers at the launch date. However, our promotional activities in certain cases failed to follow company guidelines. As a result, some of our valued gaming customers had an experience in our stores that was inconsistent with what you’ve come to expect from us, as a leader in the consumer electronics industry.

Specifically, customers in some Best Buy stores were told that they were required to buy additional Xbox accessories or services if they wanted one of the sought-after Xbox 360 consoles, even though we advertised the Xbox 360 console alone. I want to be very clear that Best Buy does not condone pressuring customers to purchase items they may not want or that may not fit their lifestyle. In fact, these behaviors are in direct conflict with our desire to serve customers’ needs better than anyone else, and our values of honesty and integrity.

We are currently investigating all leads about promotional practices that may have violated the company’s guidelines, and we will take disciplinary actions as appropriate. We also have reminded all of our stores about our policies with respect to launches of hot products. Meanwhile, on behalf of Best Buy, I’d like to offer a sincere apology to any customers who felt pressured to buy items they did not want.

Customers who are unhappy with Xbox 360-related purchases made in November 2005 may return unwanted items for a full refund at any Best Buy store. In addition, if your Xbox 360 purchasing experience did not meet your expectations for any reason, please email us at . (Employees with information pertinent to our investigation are encouraged to call our Ethics Hot Line instead.)

Last, I would like to invite you back to our stores, particularly later this month, when Best Buy will receive more shipments of Xbox 360s. While supplies continue to be very limited, we are truly excited about this new gaming platform, and we’d like to deliver the best of that experience to you. We promise an in-store experience that is focused on your needs and the needs of everyone on your holiday gift list.

Brian Dunn"

Today I saw a post on Gizmodo that shows the clip below from the Best Buy Retail Insider that directs XBox 360 units received between Dec. 11 and Dec. 16 to be stockpiled for release on Dec. 18.  Furthermore, the clip directs that XBox 360 units are for the general public and may not be held for “select” customers and/or employees.

It appears that Best Buy is trying to the right thing with the Dec. 18 release, but it just seems a little weird that they wouldn’t sell units as they come in on a first-com-first-served basis.  Of course, by having a second “release,” there will be lots of lines and lots of people driven to Best Buy stores in hopes of getting a unit in time for the holidays — perhaps you might buy something else, especially if you don’t get a unit.

Link — Social Customer Manifesto

Link — Gizmodo

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Happy Chrismahanikwanzakah to you

Just the word itself is pretty viral — I immediately associate it with Virgin Mobile.  You can also check out the viral on their site.



Create your own free start page with the Ajax-coded Protopage.  You can build a page with different panels like news feeds and announcements, and you can leave virtual sticky notes on the page.  Everything on the page can be positioned with your cursor.

Pretty cool stuff.


Squidoo moves to public beta

If you check out today, you may notice that the public beta is live.  I’ve been a private beta tester for the last few weeks, trying to break Squidoo and reporting bugs, errors, etc.  In public beta you can now sign up for an account and begin creating your own lenses.  You will find the lens creation process to be very straightforward and easy, and you will hopefully find it bug-free.  Note that some lens names may already be taken as those of us that participated in the private beta got to keep the names we registered during that period once the site was public.

Check out my personal lens by following the link below.


Full instructions for loading Windows onto a USB flash drive

Check it out; it all installs into 256 megs on a flash drive.


What is producing all about?

Seth Godin summarizes it succinctly:

Producing is not about making something. It's about making something other people thought couldn't be done--or were too distracted to do themselves.


Gartner says: Stop buying Blackberry, stop deploying Blackberries

According to this post on BBHub, Ken Dulaney of Gartner has released a report that recommends consumers and businesses stop buying Blackberries and stop Blackberry deployments until there is a decision in the NTP/RIM case:

“Stop or delay all mission-critical Blackberry deployments and investments in the platform until RIM's legal position is clarified,”

Although RIM has stated that if an injunction were put in place that prohibited RIM from selling or servicing Blackberrys in the US, they have a software solution that will continue to service existing customers.  However, Dulaney cautions:

"RIM claims its work-around is legally sound, but its history in the courts does not inspire confidence," Dulaney says. "Moreover, end-user validation and implementation would take time, resulting in a temporary loss of service."


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

List of sites for free music

Check it out.



I first heard about Fon when Om Malik posted about it, then I read about it on TJ’s weblog, and then I read about it on TechDirt.  Here’s my simple summary of Fon:

Fon is wifi access based on a peer-to-peer model.  Essentially lots of users install FON software on their access points all over the place to create a continuous Fon network.  The current deal is that you be a Linus user (you agree to purchase a Fon-enabled access point and share the connection you are already paying for with other Fon Linus members) — if you share your connection with other Fon users, then you can use all other Linus users’ access points.  Future classifications of users are “Bills”, who charge Fon users for connecting, and “Aliens”, who don’t provide a Fon connection and simply pay for usage.

I don’t really see any access points in the US on the Fon Map and certainly not any around where I live.  It’s certainly an interesting concept.  I haven’t read my Comcast terms closely enough to see if I would be in violation if I were to be a “Bills” and charge for excess bandwidth on my home connection; my guess would be that I would be in violation, but I’m not sure.

Currently the FON software for the access points only seems to work on Linux-based routers at this point and the installation instructions are not so non-geek friendly.

It will be interesting to see what kind of traction this gets and how the world responds.

Om Malik

TJ’s Weblog


Nokia e-mailed me today about my 770 order

Essentially the e-mail told me to call customer service within 72 hours or my 770 order would be cancelled.  Confused, I called Nokia, gave them my order number, and verified my billing address, shipping address, and security code for my credit card.  I then asked the customer service rep if this meant that the units were now and she told me they were shipping to people in the order that pre-purchases were processed on the Nokia site.

I thought all this was pretty cool and that the 770 I had ordered would be shipping shortly until I read a post on the Nokia 770 blog that relates the story of Neil McAllister, who also received an e-mail from Nokia:

When I called the Nokia number, the operator on the phone guessed right away that I was calling about the 770 and told me that the e-mail I received was probably generated because I was one of the very earliest people to order the tablet.

She said that when people originally ordered the tablet the Web site said delivery was expected on November 17 and people had “misinterpreted” that do mean that delivery would actually happen for sure on that date. “Due to unforeseen circumstances,” the units hadn’t yet arrived at the warehouse, and they were sending out the e-mails to confirm with people that they still wanted to receive the tablets.

I asked when they were now expected to arrive and she said there was no firm date, but that it had been suggested that the warehouse could expect them December 30. Even that, she said, was not a firm date — the fact that the e-mails were being generated now could be interpreted as a sign that the units would arrive sooner — but basically, nobody should get
their hopes up.

Marvelous news — hope it’s not true.


It's single digits in Denver

Started off at about 20 degrees this morning and steadily crept down into the single digits.  There are some upsides, like lighting a fire, but the biggest upside is that the ski resorts are getting pounded — the e-mail I got from Vail today reports 4 feet of new snow in the last week and it’s still falling.

Right now it’s 3 degrees and -8 with the windchill with light snow.  The high tomorrow is supposed to be 7.

It’s definitely winter.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Engadget reports TivoToGo support for Mac in mid 2006

Check it out.  They’ve got to get more competitive quickly if all of the Mac media center rumors are true.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Full use of Audio Hijack Pro has all of the details.


Steve Jobs resume

TUAW has posted the link to the resume of Steve Jobs that lives on his .MAC account

Interesting stuff.


Microsoft Enhancement Pack for TabletPC

Here’s what it includes:

  • Ink Desktop
  • Snipping Tool
  • Send to Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
  • Hexic Deluxe for Tablet PC
  • Energy Blue Theme

It’s important to note that the Enhancement Pack is 5 of the most popular programs from the TabletPC Experience Pack and TabletPC Education Pack and is available in 8 non-English languages — if you want the stuff above in English, follow the links to the Experience Pack and Education Pack.


Wired begins to fatten up

Ever since the last tech collapse, Wired magazine has been pretty thin from a strict width perspective.  As the technology business has heated up, Wired has gotten thicker and contains more pages.  I noticed today that this post on Corporate Engagement links through to a post on The Podcast Network that compares Wired pagecount to NASDAQ performance:

I wondered how Wired’s page count might reflect the technology industry. So I plotted page count against the Nasdaq, and received this surprising result.

Very interesting data set.

It’s important to note that Mark Evans is exploring the same kinds of correlations.



Promonet has thousands of albums from tons of bands from all of the world.  From the site:

PROMONET is a new promotional music distribution network from IODA—the Independent Online Distribution Alliance. IODA is the leading digital distributor of independent music, helping over 750 labels of all sizes and style distribute their music to digital music stores all over the world.

Independent labels make up over 25% of the global music market. They have long been the breeding ground of trailblazing artists responsible for most movements and trends. Now you can do your part to support this world of indie music—the best music there is—by spreading the word. Whether you're a podcaster, blogger, or zine, a music supervisor, marketing/ad agency, or a digital music service, Promonet can hook you up with over 10,000 promotional mp3 tracks from a diverse catalog of more than 20,000 albums by over 6,000 artists.

We provide the music and info. You help get it out there...

Together we can change the music world.


Funny holiday animation

For all of those worried about the use of “Christmas” as opposed to other holidays, please view this animation.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

The most important list on Forbes

Forbes list: Richest Fictional People


Is "unlimited" really unlimited?

TechDirt points out that the big three wireless companies all offer "unlimited" data plans that actually have limitation ceilings. There are lots of stories floating around about people who have had their data service revoked or have received insanely high data bills or have been required to move into much more expensive data plans because they have used too much data in their "unlimited" plan. I like TechDirt's point:
. . . isn't having your marketing team proudly selling "unlimited" service, while your lawyers limit it very much in the extremely fine print, a clear-cut case of false advertising? The operators and their supporters say they need to limit use to protect the network. That may be absolutely true -- but, if that's the case, then they shouldn't advertise it as unlimited. If they can't actually deliver unlimited service, they shouldn't be selling it.

Can you tell if an audio CD has malicious software from the outside packaging?

Unfortunately not. Boing Boing examines the same question and essentially comes to the same conclusion. You should read the whole post, but essentially comes down to the last sentence from the post.
There's no music worth risking my data for.

Where to buy kitchen stuff, including plates and glasses

Chances are good that somewhere near where you live is a restaurant supply store. Many restaurant supply stores are open to the public and the deals are pretty incredible. We just picked up a dozen 12.5 inch plates, a dozen 10.5 inch plates, a dozen bowls, some wooden spoons, some tongs, and other various things for around $150. The plateware is restaurant quality and safe to put in the dishwasher, microwave, and even in the oven. Oh, and the plateware very closely resembles the style of high-end Crate and Barrel plateware.

Restaurant supply stores are great places for holiday entertaining as you can purchase glasses and silverware and plateware for pennies on the dollar; I saw water glasses at the one I went to today for $0.25 each (yes, they were glass). Additionally, you can get excellent deals on big baking pans, oversize pots and pans, and all kinds of other cooking items you might need just for this time of year.

Some restaurant supply stores also stock some foodstuffs; the one I used to go to in Los Angeles stocked exotic salts and had the best price in town for foi gras.

Who's leaving comments about Paul English's IVR cheat sheet?

I noticed that someone named "Kate" had left a comment on my second post about Paul English's IVR Cheat Sheet. Here's the comment:

Paul English makes some great points. I saw his piece on ABC World News Tonight and he's bringing to light that most companies operating in the IVR space have shoddy systems. There are a couple companies in the IVR industry trying to change things, however, with next generation systems that link to CRM systems. has a great web-based system that allows small businesses to create IVR systems that are even more sophisticated than what the big boys are using. My Dad uses the system for his online ebay store selling vintage posters and autographed baseballs. He's able to provide far better customer service using's system than he would ever be able to provide on his own.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that Jeremy Wagstaff had received exactly the same comment on his post about Paul English's Cheat Sheet. From Jeremy's post:

That’s one well-written comment. I was impressed (as I imagine, would be Not only can they be linked with the little guy (and who wants to bash the little guy?) but they get to bash some of their competitors too). But not being cynical about the posting, I allowed it through and emailed ‘Kate’ with a request to interview her father. If true, it’s a valid point and one to explore.

What I didn’t expect was for the email to bounce. Not that unusual, especially with comment spam, but not when the given name (‘Kate’) jibes with the email address (‘’). Why go to the trouble of putting a believable fake email address, especially when you presumably would be quite happy if someone followed up and got a bit of publicity for your eBay-selling dad? Baffled, I checked the IP address where the comment came from: a Verizon address in Washington DC. Not, coincidentally, that far from HQ in McLean, Virginia.

I wish I could say my sleuthing took me further. But I could find no Kate Robins in the phone book, no sign of someone with that Yahoo address on Google, or anyone on eBay who might be her dad (not that surprising; itÂ’s a big place). IÂ’ll keep looking, but if anyone knows Kate Robins, her dad, or could shed any light on this, IÂ’d love to hear from them. IÂ’d hate to think that my blog is being used by anonymous shills to do damage limitation exercises for the IVR/CRM industry. On the other hand, if Kate does exist and just mistyped her email address, IÂ’d love to follow up the angle she suggests.

Ok, so I did a little "sleuthing" of my own. Here's Kate's Blogger profile -- not much info there except for the fact that she's been a member since December 0f 2005; how conincidental. I also noticed on Google that if you search "Paul English", is the first sponsored result -- interesting also.

Anyone else received a comment from the mysterious Kate? Let's see if we can figure out who this is so that Jeremy can interview her.

To say what everyone's thinking: It would be very interesting (thoughsurprisingnot suprirsing)
to find that this is something is doing as a marketing effort to drive people to their product. Quite frankly, I don't really care who leaves comments on my blog, but fess up to what you are doing instead of trying to disguise it.

If this was a ploy by, consider yourselves busted.


Friday, December 02, 2005

If you are thinking about giving gift cards, you should read this article

Ask Dave Taylor provides lots of information about gift card scams.


Nokia 770 shows up on CompUSA

It’s still listed as pre-order, but some people are reporting seeing it in stores.  Ok, so I called the closest CompUSA to me, but they don’t have any.  Oh well.


How to install FrontRow on any Mac running Tiger

Andrew Escobar has full instructions, sites to download the application from, and even has some troubleshooting tips (namely that you should be running 10.4.3).


Doxa watches update

It has come to my attention that this post I wrote about my experience with Doxa watches is causing some of you that read it to choose not to purchase a watch from the Doxa online site. I realize that Doxa is a small, family-run business and it was never my intention to cost this company thousands of dollars in lost sales.

From information that I have found on the internet, it appears that Doxa has fixed shipping problems and is now getting watch orders made on their site turned around in 48 hours. Additionally, here are comments that were made on my original post from actual purchasers:

At 10:47 AM, skindiver1 said...
I do not represent DOXA and I am not affiliated in any mean.

This company manufactures fine timepieces and thay have one of the most friendly customer service I had to deal with in the past years in the watch business.

I know that they had delivery problems in April when the movie Sahara hit the theatres because Matthew Mccaugnahey wears a DOXA in the movie. It is a small company with a lot of history and pedigree and they were not prepared for this US success

buy with confidence from those guys, they are one of the best in the business

my 2 cents

And another:

At 3:36 PM, kindagood said...
I ordered my first orange face DOXA on November 25th and received it today, this is 4 days from order entry from Switzerland to Dallas, TX

Very straight forward, no hassles and the watch is everything that I wanted and more. I think DOXA were just not ready for the big bang made by a Hollywood movie, Now I understand why they were oversold for weeks after I received so many compliements on this orange beauty.

Cool watch, cool company


And another satisfied customer echoing the comment above:

At 4:26 PM, rosenberg1 said...
Same here, super fast smooth transaction, perfect service and finally but most important a stunning timepiece

victor Rosenberg

I think it’s important for all of us that blog to realize that search engines really like live content and that posts can show up very high in results. If you search “doxa watches” on Google, you may find that my original post about my bad experience with Doxa sometimes shows up in the top 10 results. For all of you that are intending to purchase a Doxa watch, I think it is important that you bear the following in mind:

  • My post was a story about a single order.
  • I placed my order for the Doxa 600T back when the movie Sahara was first coming out, and my understanding is that Doxa was simply overwhelmed with orders.
  • Read the posts above from people that have ordered Doxas more recently and had a great experience.
  • Check out the Doxa forum at There you can interact directly with Rick Marei, VP of Marketing for Doxa and ask any questions that you might have of him and of other forum members.

I will close with this: I did receive the Doxa 600T orange watch and it is the special edition with the “Dirk Pitt” language inside the face. Although I own a number of watches, I have never had more positive comments about any of my other watches combined as compared to the number of positive comments I have received on my Doxa. Furthermore, the craftsmanship of the Doxa watch is excellent and it does not seem to lose or gain minutes like other automatic watches that I own.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shozu saves your cameraphone photos direct to Flickr

Seems like I’m running across a lot of cool Flickr stuff today.  Check out Shozu, it seems to support most MS Smartphones and a bunch of Nokia phones.


Tom Peters ranks his holiday gift ordering experiences with various companies

Note that Tom only orders by phone because of this problem he describes with online ordering:

. . . the repeated experience of getting 90 percent of the job done, then being derailed by a glitch. Frankly, the phone is still easier, at least at this early date.


An online iTunes locker

The founder and original CEO of, Michael Robertson, brings back the online music service provider model that he had tried and gotten sued for at (I’ve previously written about the service I loved here and wrote about Robertson’s new project here before it was launched). is the address for Robertson’s new service that allows you to store all of your music files online; it is also compatible with iTunes, so you can back up your entire library and all of your playlists as well.  Unlike the service that only required you to insert a CD before you gained access to tracks online, MP3Tunes requires the upload of files that you have in your possession.  The MP3Tunes storage site is called a “locker” and is fully compatible inside of iTunes.  Once your music is loaded to MP3Tunes, you can do several things with it:

  • Listen to it online from any browser — 56kbps stream for the free service or 128kbps stream if you pay $39.95 yearly
  • Sync your library from your locker to any device if you pay the yearly fee
  • Back-up playlists and create new playlists online

See the registration page for a more thorough feature list and for the differences between the free service and paid service.

I’m damn excited about this service and will probably sign up for a premium account tonight so that I can start filling up my locker.  Just like my previous post about the iPhoto Flickr extension, I would pay the yearly if for no other reason than to have an independent back-up.


Flickr export for iPhoto

Of course this software exists, I just never thought about it.  In any event, TUAW is reporting that FlickrExport for iPhoto has been released.  I may have to start dumping pictures to Flickr tonight if for no other reason but to have an independent back-up.


Capture fingerprints and process credit cards on a Blackberry

BBHub reports on an add-on by Total Solution Technology that allows fingerprint capture and credit card processing on a Blackberry.  Currently the solution only works with the Blackberry 7730, 7750, and 7780.