Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Flickr layout

I laid out a bunch of gadgets I had and took a swanky photo of them at the beginning of the year. Sal over at JustSetups.com pinged me and asked me if he could post it up on his site and I said "sure." What's funny/sad is that I don't even own the PSP anymore (evil Sony hype) and my Sony Ericsson phone has been superseded by my T-mobile Dash.

In anycase, the photo gave Sal the impression I lead such an on the go life, but really, I don't. I guess I just like portability.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Stopped by the Best Buy this afternoon with a friend to pick up an antenna for his newly bought HDTV, and while there, I picked up the Zune while walking around the store. Man, it has zero tech-sex appeal. Maybe if I hadn't been exposed to Pocket PCs, or anything with the words "Windows Mobile" on it, I'd be impressed. But holding it in my hand, and playing with it, it did not emit the same techno-lust as when I held an iPod in my hand for the first time. In fact, the Zune felt bulky and I wondered why it was so thick. Microsoft should've held off and released a better product rather than slapping their name on a Toshiba Gigabeat.

PS3 Pandemonium

My contribution to the PS3 pandemonium? I decided to stop by the local Target this morning on my drive to work. I casually sauntered in around 8:30am to a relatively empty store, walked over to admire the newly set up PS3 booth, then asked a girl in a red shirt if they had any PS3s. She smirked and said no, there was a line this morning and they only had 6 units. And that was it. I think I'll wait until next year when there's a 100 price drop to get mine.

postscript: who are these insane people paying upwards of three to nine thousand dollars for a game system on ebay anyway? Are they the rich that can't be bothered or people going into massive debt to feed an addiction?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Apple needs to get their bluetooth act together

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to figure out how to get my powerbook to hop online via my T-mobile Dash. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. One of the reasons I bought a Mac is it "just works." However, this is not one of those cases. Apparently Microsoft's newest version of Windows Mobile: AKU3, has done away with the Dial-Up Networking (DUN) bluetooth profile and replaced it with a much more (subjectively) versatile profile called Personal Area Network (PAN).
From bluetooth.com

Personal Area Networking Profile (PAN)
PAN describes how two or more Bluetooth enabled devices can form an ad-hoc network and how the same mechanism can be used to access a remote network through a network access point. The profile roles include the network access point, group ad-hoc network, and PAN user. Network access points can be a traditional LAN data access point while group ad-hoc networks represent a set of devices that are only attached to one another. PAN is intended to allow the use of BNEP on Layer 3 protocols for transport over a Bluetooth wireless technology link.

The main problem? Apple OSX Tiger doesn't support the "Personal Access Network" bluetooth profile. What's funny is that Apple loves touting the fact that they love bluetooth, yet why are they dragging their feet on keeping current with bluetooth technologies? Why hasn't this been implemented in one of their 10.4.x patches? I've spent more than a few hours trying to track down a solution from editing the /etc/ppp/options file, to poking around the command line on Terminal, to setting up different serial connections via bluetooth. Then it hit me, why am I doing so much legwork? I used to do this with Windows. Getting something to work on Microsoft was like pulling teeth half the time, and yet, the irony is all I have to do is right click on the bluetooth icon in the system tray in XP and select "Join Personal Area Network." It just works!

Oh Apple, why have you forsaken me? You used to be an innovator and now you can't even keep current. You used to be the guy that paid attention to the little details and now, in this instance, Microsoft has beat you to the punch.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Google Maps & GPS

Dear Google,
Now that you've figured out how to integrate GPS into GPS enabled phones, how's about throwing some geek love towards those of us with java-enabled smartphones that can tether to a bluetooth GPS Receiver? How many more lines of code would that need? I do have to say that Google Maps on my phone is pretty sweet, and that it really helped me out yesterday when the wife wasn't completely sure where the DSW Shoe Warehouse was while we were driving through the endless suburbs or Maryland. So it would be double sweet if my phone could just start barking orders to me and I wouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg for it. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In other Apple news

They're dropping Justin Long from those Mac commercials. Thank god, he was too damn smug for his own good. Hopefully they do something that keeps John Hodgman just as likable as he should be. I saw the above photo and thought it was hilarious. I leave you with my own video of Hodgman and Coulton from a few weeks ago and his theme song.

Slow day

Slowest Tech News day evar. Ok, sure, MacBooks got shiny new Core 2 Duo processors but that's about it. The tech blogs are rehashing crap or posting stuff they would never dream of posting on a "normal" day. Sure, there is massive news elsewhere. Election results news, the ousting of Rumsfeld, and the all important break-up of Britney & K-Fed. So maybe its a good day to just enjoy whatcha got and have some peace with that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

TV Set-top box

Speaking of walled gardens, driving into work this morning, I heard on NPR that Microsoft has gotten some deals to start delivering content (that's TV shows & Movies) straight to your Xbox via its Xbox Live service. This is all the while that Apple has been taking the last year trying to sweet talk studios to let Apple sell their content on iTunes. I'm guessing that with Microsoft's approach is 1) One more step towards fulfilling Bill Gates's dream of creating the magical box that sits on your TV and handles EVERYTHING. And 2)It lets the studio deliver their stuff without being super paranoid. After all, no one can hack an Xbox360, right?!

I'm sure that's a hurdle to Apple convincing the studios to sell their stuff on iTunes. Since files are being downloaded onto a computer where a user supposedly has a lot of freedom to do with the files what they want, that they're scared its gonna end up on the black market somehow.

Only time will tell who wins the hearts and minds of the capitalistic society of America.

KRZR worthy of phone lust

Disclosure: I hate Motorola phones. I don't hate them because they're Motorola, nor do I hate their phone design. In fact, they're paying the right guys to design those shells. What I do hate is their phone software. Its clunky and inelegant and completely incongruent to their sexy exteriors. I also hate Verizon. I don't agree with their gated sandbox phone software and CDMA technology that doesn't let you switch from phone to phone on the fly with a SIM card like the GSM system.

Which is why last night before heading to a hockey game, hanging out at a bar, one of the guys we met up with had a Moto KRZR from Verizon. And although only taking a brief moment to hold it in my hand and have him show me some of the features, I want one. I want one in the metaphysical sense though, because no way in hell do I want to sign a 2 year contract to Verizon (see above) and hand over 200 bucks for a tiny phone that I'll end up hating. Especially since the T-mobile Dash I just acquired last week is so much more feature packed and equally techno-lustworthy. I guess its like seeing a really nice luxury car without having to deal with the thousand dollar maintenance fees associated with it. Nice to have, but a pain in the ass to own.

Monday, November 06, 2006

3 Reasons NOT to buy a DSLR

So there's an article on Digg about 10 reasons you should buy a Digital SLR camera. A friend of mine keeps telling me its a great idea, especially if I like photography. Usually I can think of lots of reasons not to do it. So here's my rebuttal list.

  1. Creative Control can be a curse. While you get to tweak to your hearts content, you'll end up just becoming more OCD about how your photos aren't turning out just the way you want them even though you have the power of God in your hands.

  2. Size & Grabbing the shot. With all the greatness of larger sensors and fancy electronics so your photos have zero noise, it all ends up being stuffed into a package about 10 times the "normal" size of a point and shoot camera now. Also, this package is now more durable because its usually wrapped in a nice weighty metallic body. Which would be great if you're on a studio or doing pro job, but who the hell wants to lug all that equipment (weighty body and 2 or 3 different lenses) around on a day out with your friends or family? Its just one more thing to weigh you down and probably actually take away from enjoying the day. Of course you'll get great shots of the day which is great if that was your main goal, but that's usually not mine.

    This probably isn't the best photo I've taken, but its just a good example of having something I can whip out and unobtrusively take a photo to document what's going on while people are having fun. Could I have taken this photo with a DSLR? Sure. Would I have gotten the same spontaneity? Maybe if I was 20 feet away with a telephoto lense and the room wasn't crowded full of people. Also I'd have to deal with people giving me weird looks on why a guy at a bar is taking paparazzi-style pictures.

  3. Price & Accessories. Sure, the camera bodies are cheap now and there are a million accessories out there to customize your DSLR. But with those accessories comes more cash to throw out the window. Two thousand dollars for a great wide angle lense? Another thousand for a telephoto one with anti-shake technology? Again, if someone is paying me thousands of dollars for my great photos to support this habit, great. However, the return on investment is not worth it for your average photographer.

Again, I say this as someone that on occasion likes to go out and take photos for the sake of pretty pictures, but not as a passion that I'd like to pour tens of thousands of dollars into.

Friday, November 03, 2006

engadget politely tells me to eff off.

I read engadget when it first came on the scene. That's back when Peter Rojas had left Gizmodo and was working his ass off running the site . It was before he was a millionaire, it was before it was stocked by a team of writers, before he brought his buddy Ryan on to help him, it was even before there were even comments on the page.

Then the comments page came, and they gave you the option to link in your website/blog/what-have-you. So if if you put in an URL, if anyone clicked on your name, they could visit whatever URL you had provided in the text entry field. It wasn't the best comment system, but it gave the everyday user (like me) to have a voice and to also show some link love to their supporters.

The new comment system has ripped out linking your back to your site and you're just a voice among millions that should contribute your 2 cents and no more. I didn't like that, so I started posting my URL after I made a comment. I'm guessing that given the choice, users would rather click on a related link that wasn't an ad. Which is why I just got sent a "nice/polite" curt one line email from Ryan telling me to stop leaving my links on my comments.

I know the engadget team has gotta eat, and I hate it when I see spam, but was I really linking to my lame myspace band's page? Or something to do with penis enlargement or stock tips? No, I was linking back to something that is related to today's tech news. Great work man, alienate the very guys that have supported you all this time.

Alright Ryan, I'll play by your rules, I don't have to like them though. Sometimes I do believe engadget has jumped the shark though. 80% of the things they post aren't "wow!" but more just filler.

Netflix tells me nicely its not their problem

So I signed up for Netflix 2 weeks ago. I was game for some DVD rental action again, and Netflix seemed like a good choice after hearing positive reviews from others I know. To this date, I've received ZERO DVDs. I've reported 6 missing DVDs however, 3 of which made it back to Netflix without me ever receiving them in the first place. They would send me emails telling me I should expect new DVDs in my mailbox only to wait 7 days and see nothing. After numerous back and forth emails between Netflix and I, they finally suggested I call them to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, I had also contacted the post office to report the issue. A nice woman called me back and told me that unless I find out from Netflix why the DVDs are getting returned, she couldn't really do much for me. I asked her if there was any further investigation she could do, and she told me, "Not really. You need to ask Netflix what's being stamped on the envelopes when they're returned to sender."

So I get Netflix on the phone, and they apologize profusely, offer me an extension on my free trial, and that's it. The Netflix agent says they can't really know where the break in the system is since everything they do is automated. They couldn't physically pull the returned envelope to see why it was returned. So I asked them what I should do, and the agent told me maybe I should call the post office. I told him that I was told to call Netflix. Catch-22 mofos! So after having this circular argument go back and forth for a good 5 minutes, the agent asks me, "what do you want me to do sir?!" I replied I'd like to have my issue escalated to someone that could investigate why this was happening, to which I was told, "Sorry, we can't do that. We can only investigate if there's a delay, not if there's a lost issue or a 'looping' issue." Both which I was subjected to. Their solution? Have it sent somewhere else. Great, so basically no solution at all. Thanks a lot Netflix, you might be losing a customer you could've had and probably never will.

Gizmodo needs to get their shit together.

So over at Gizmodo, they're quite elitist on who can comment, and who can't. Problem is, their coding for their comment system is BUGGY. Yesterday, I was allowed to post comments, and today, no? Dude, make up your mind. On top of which, updating my profile on their "edit your profile" page sent me to a blank page after I submitted updates. Then again, why do I crave to even comment on their blog when some of the comments are completely lame?

Google and mobility

Google has a lot of faith in us consumers. They hope we know what the hell to do with text messaging which just caught on in the last year or 2 here in the states. They hope that your phone isn't from the 90s and you're not sporting a Zack Morris phone. They hope that you know the consequences of not having a data plan, or being smart enough to sign up for a data plan to use their applications.

So far this is what has been rolled out that I use occasionally to frequently from google on my ever rotating inventory of phones.

  • Google Mail on my phone browser (http://m.gmail.com/) - I had set it as my home page when ever I hit my little internet button on my Sony Ericsson w600i.
  • Google SMS - Great for when the wife says, "where's this? Or what's the phone number to that?"
  • Google Maps via a small java midlet/application (eats up data) I don't use this as much as I should. I should've made more use of it when we were completely lost in Boston, but I digress.

And now google has come out with a Java midlet that lets me run Gmail as a full blown client on most GSM phones. Which is nice but I have to ask myself, is it really necessary? Maybe its due to the fact that I'm not your usual email user. I use email on the go to really just keep tabs on what's getting emailed to me, so its more of a one-way communication. In any case, I opened up the Gmail midlet, thought it looked nice, and then promptly closed it. After all, it would've probably been a lot more useful on a "dumb" phone but with my new Dash, its redundant.
Sidenote: I hated how Sprint and Verizon created little wall gardens on their phones and would only let you do things on your phone the way THEY wanted to, which is why I switched to T-mobile.

What I do like is the fact that Google has taken the initiative to make my life easier. And although I know their corporate mantra is "do no evil," it is a bit unsettling to know how much I rely on Google for my services, and they in turn know my every move (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Spreadsheets & Documents, Google searching). They're also making sure I'm completely addicted to their services. Because I know that these mobile apps are nothing more but enticers to keep me glued to coming back to their site time and time again. I really do hope they stay the course of doing no evil.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Game consoles revving up for the Season

So for the last year, its all been built up anticipation for this month. This is the month we get to see the next generation video game consoles get rolled out into the market. We, the collective consumer base, can't wait to get our grubby paws on them. But for what purpose? Before the advent of the internet, I could take a good stab at saying most people buying were gamers, but now? I'm going to guess if there is a supply shortage of these things, which is a very likely chance, that more than half of the PS3s and Wiis will be dumped onto eBay and craigslist and will be summarily bought by gamers that are willing to pay 3 or 4 times the amount. Mind you, I'm probably an old school gamer, so I won't be first in line. After all, I enjoy games that are innovative or were for the time. They were fun, and there was some novelty. After playing the 6000th edition of Street Fighter 2 or a knock-off variation of it, I got a little jaded. So what are the breakout games that are going to be released with for each respective system? I haven't been keeping my finger on the gaming pulse these days. In fact after my subscription ran out on Electronic Gaming Monthly years ago, I've kinda lost track of things. Maybe this is a good thing because by the time I get interested in a game, its in the bargain bin or been re-released as a "Greatest Hits" title. There are benefits of not being on the bleeding edge I suppose. I get to sit back, see which games are worth getting, which ones didn't live up to the hype, and which are worth buying the system in the first place. This is what happened when Final Fantasy 7 came out for the PS2 and the sole reason mine was purchased at all. Which is why I'll probably won't be dropping some change on one of these systems until the library has been built out and the prices have been dropped.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Palm and their Treo(s)...Zzzzzzzzz

There was a time when Palm was the innovator in the PDA field. I lusted after the Palm V when it was first introduced. It was so tiny (for the time) and felt like it was on the cutting edge back in 1999. Then they got bought out, and then got bought out again. People had gotten used to them being the de facto standard for PDAs and Palm just started resting on its laurels. They stopped innovating and just started evolving. They gave the people what they wanted but then didn't know where to go from there. Today, I see the tech blogs touting the next cool Treo when really, the technology on most of these phones are 2 years old. (ok, bad reference since this one has HSPDA but its supposedly very unstable) Yes, Palm was innovative enough to buy out Handspring and develop the first widely used phone with a QWERTY keyboard, but with most phones coming with megapixel cameras (albeit crappy ones), they're stuck using a VGA one? They couldn't innovate their antiquated operating system so now they're just co-opting Microsoft's operating system? Maybe Palm has changed their business plan from tech innovator to lowest common denominator mass produced business tools and there shouldn't be any expectations from them anymore. What makes me shudder is to see Apple (once a supposed innovator) taking the same steps toward the path that Palm has walked.

Sony doesn't get it.

Sony is introducing new color PSP just in time for the "Holiday" season. What I don't get is which marketing R&D suit is smoking crack in thinking this will boost sales? Nintendo made this work because their game systems were usually redesigned mid-cycle and colors just added to the design. The PSP has been on the market for over a year and a half and this is the best thing they could come up with? I'm sorry Sony but until you figure out how to make a killer/sleeper game that would draw in hoards of crowds, you'll continually sell one fifth the amount of DS Lites every month. I really really tried to love my PSP when I had it, but in the end, the only thing fun about it was loading Nintendo emulators to play old school games on them. With all the 3D polygonal multidimensional gaming the PSP had to offer, the only exciting thing was playing games developed 10 years before it was even a glimmer in Sony's R&D Team's eyes? Sorry, not worth it to keep around.

Apple's needed featherbook

With all the rumors of impending new iPods and whatnot, what got my attention last month was the whisperings of Apple maybe releasing a ultralight laptop in the near future. They need to take a page from Sony and their newly released VAIO or even from the TX-series or the UX series. Well, maybe not the UX since it looks like a pain in the ass to use for actual normal activity. Even if Sony has sometimes taken a page from Apple, and release something so light that I can throw it into my gadget man bag and not feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. With so many things to tote around these days from digital camera, PDA, power adapters, portable game consoles, portable harddrives, etc. A guy needs to have all his subjectively essential items be as light and durable as possible. Here's hoping Apple doesn't disappoint me. Sony wouldn't be disappointing me so much if they didn't load their notebooks with so much proprietary (buggy) software to handle all the fancy bells and whistles they throw onto their svelte notebooks.