Tuesday, January 31

Warner Bros to sell movies on net

"One of the most effective weapons for defeating online piracy is providing legal, easy-to-use alternatives," said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group.

Huzzah... Web-based entertainment takes a giant leap forward with the introduction of legal downloadable movies. Using file-sharing as the mechanism to get the videos to consumers, no less.

Abe Lincoln’s Productivity Secret

This blog post (linked below) has some great ideas about planning projects, based on a quote from Abraham Lincoln.

Monday, January 30

Does legal action against file sharers dissuade others?

I can tell you that I'm not dissuaded. However, if ABC put Grey's Anatomy up on the iTunes TV Store, I wouldn't have any reason to go to file-sharing in a not-quite-legal way. I would gladly pay $2 to catch up with the show (which is the only one my wife and I watch with any regularity) if I missed an episode. The only reason I've ever downloaded episodes of the show (which I promptly delete after watching) was to see the first season after starting to watch the show regularly this year, and once I downloaded an episode I missed while in Chicago on business.

But if it was available on-demand legally, I wouldn't even think of going to BitTorrent to get somebody's pirated copy. I'm sick of having to watch TV shows only when the networks choose to air them; I can't guarantee that I'll be free from 10PM-11PM every Sunday.

On-demand media like podcasts and online newspapers are the only press I consume these days (with the exception of some live radio every now and then)... and that's definitely where news and enertainment organizations need to be headed if they want to keep making money.

Sunday, January 29

What childhood toy from the 80s are you?

speak and spell
You're a Speak & Spell!! You nerd, you. Just

because you were disguised as a toy doesn't

mean you weren't educational, you sneaky


What childhood toy from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, January 25

iTunes downloads boost network ratings

While this article gets some important facts wrong (the NBC pay-for downloads are not a podcast, in the current meaning of the word), but the point it makes is a good one. NBC's ratings figures are proving that the new Internet mode of distribution is the Next Big Thing in terms of getting consumers to watch television shows.

Internet television (or IPTV, as it's know in "the industry") is certainly where content distribution is headed. And with Steve Jobs grabbing at least some part of the reins at Disney, this transition to online entertainment can only be accelerating.

Steve's new Job

Steve Jobs is now poised to become the great unifying element between entertainment and technology due to the purchase of his animation studio Pixar by media giant Disney. In the merged enterprise, Jobs will be the largest individual shareholder as well as hold a seat on the Board of Directors.

I think this is fabulous. Steve Jobs is the most visionary technologist in the world today, and with strongholds in these powerful companies there's no telling what he'll be able to do.

Thursday, January 19

Blogger Andrew Rilstone's take on the Chronicles of Narnia movie

Much more in-depth and better-expressed than my own review, this post talks about the reasons for some of the changes I previously derided.

This is a great analysis, and it allowed me to see the movie in a new light (and with a bit more respect for Andrew Adamson). However, while I now see it as a better movie than I had thought, I still stand by my comments regarding the actual faithfulness of the film to the original novel.

Tuesday, January 17

The Chronicles of Narnia

My wife and I saw the Chronicles of Narnia movie yesterday. It was fun to get out and do something fun together outside the house, but I have mixed feelings about the quality of the movie.

If you've read and enjoyed the books, go see the movie. Undoubtedly. The visuals (costumes, cinematography, and effects) as well as the acting (well, at least on the part of the children) was superb, even down to the dead blue-bottle on the windowsill of the wardrobe room.

However, the dialogue was absolutely horrible. The constant re-writing and deletion of key lines (and sometimes even moving them to the wrong parts of the story) was atrocious. Lauren even said that, for at least half of the movie, she was just watching the pictures and following along with the story in her head.

Overall, I give the movie a B. The depictions of locations and charcters was fantastic, but the script really left something to be desired. If you know enough about the story to fill in all the important gaps, definitely go see it. Otherwise, you'll just be confused by the pathetic attempt to retell the story.

Sunday, January 15

Discovering Music, Legally

This post, from David Pogue's blog at the New York Times, talks about the new offering from Real's Rhapsody online music service. Real is now allowing anyone with a free account to listen to 25 free full songs from its catalog every month.

This won't make me a RealRhapsody subscriber (I have an iPod nano and get my digital music via iTunes), but it's nice to be able to sample full tracks rather than the 30-second clips proffered by Apple. Real certainly didn't create this program to facilitate customers' purchases from other online music retailers, but unfortunately that's just what they've done.

The other cool thing about the offer from Rhapsody is that it works just as it was intended on a Mac running Firefox. You don't see a whole lot of webapps from major players that do that purposefully, so I congratulate Real for taking the time to ensure universal compatibility.

Friday, January 13

iMac Core Duo and MacBook Pro: A Comparison

Everybody seems to be singing the prises of both the new iMac Core Duo and the MacBook Pro, but there have been very few comparisons between the two. After comparing specs, I have found that the specifications of Apple's new portable are nearly as good as, and in some aspects better than, the new desktop computer.

Among the four new Macs (two iMacs and two MacBooks), there are a number of features which are the same across the board. For instance, all of the new machines have a 667MHz frontside bus, 2MB of Level 2 processor cache, and 667MHz RAM chips (with a total available RAM capacity of 2GB).

All have an ATI X1600 graphics card, 54Mbps 802.11g AirPort Extreme cards built in, and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR wireless peripheral connection. (Other similarities include pre-installed iLife '06 and built-in microphone and speakers, but I'm concerned mainly with processing power in this comparison.)

There are several differences between the four machines as well. The processor speeds vary from 1.67GHz to 2.0GHz (both the faster MacBook model and the slower iMac model are rated at 1.83GHz; right in the middle), and the faster MacBook comes standard with twice as much RAM as any other model. The 1.83GHz MacBook Pro has 1GB of memory, while the other three models ship with only 512MB.

Both of the laptops have 15.4-inch monitors, while the desktops' displays are 17-inch and 20-inch. All of the new Macs have 128MB of GDDR3 video memory, again with the exception of the 1.83GHz MacBook (which has 256MB). The 20" iMac is expandable to 256MB of VRAM, but this is not the standard configuration.

Laptop/Desktop divisions
A number of the differences are sharply split between the laptop and desktop lines. For peripheral connections, both MacBooks have only one FireWire 400 port and two USB 2.0 ports. The iMacs have two FW400 ports and 5 USB 2.0 ports (they even have two USB1.1 ports, but these reside only on the USB-connected keyboard).

Both portables have 5400rpm hard drives (80GB in the slower and 100GB in the faster model), while the desktop machines' platters spin at 7200rpm (160GB and 250GB, respectively). And, while all four models have SuperDrives, only the iMacs can record dual-layer DVDs.

Did I mention the price?
And, of course, the iMacs are cheaper... $1299 and $1699, as opposed to the MacBooks at $1999 and $2499.

The MacBook Pro certainly can be seen as a true "desktop replacement" Macintosh. Though it has a slower hard drive and a smaller screen than the iMacs, it is my opinion that the abundance of RAM more than makes up for these deficiencies. I'm sure Apple will eventually come out with an Intel PowerMac that will blow us all away, but it's nice to know that Apple doesn't have a consumer-grade product (the late G5 iMac) that is so far ahead of a professional-grade product (the G4 PowerBook) anymore.

(All specs used in this comparison are taken from apple.com.)

Wednesday, January 11

Apple releases new software & hardware

Steve Jobs had an excellent keynote speech yesterday at Macworld, in which he introduced a lot of cool new things.

I'm still in shock. Everything is great, especially the new iMac and the PowerBook-killing MacBook Pro. But I really have no comments to make. Just visit the pages, view the specs, and be amazed.

Sunday, January 8

Modest Change: Cancel something

Over at 43 Folders, Merlin's current focus is on "Fresh Starts and Modest Changes," or what I like to call "the antidote to New Year's Resolutions." One of his recent posts deals with clearing out the clutter we've allowed our live to collect: Cable TV subscriptions, the constant checking of Web sites (or their RSS feeds) for new content, and Anything of the Month Clubs.

My biggest time-consumers are RSS feeds and podcasts, with a couple of email discussion lists thrown in (but they deal with professional development in my career, I rationalize to myself). I monitor my RSS intake pretty constantly, throwing out unimportant feeds often and keeping a maximum of 20 subscriptions in my Bloglines subscription list at any given time. And I'm only subscribed to two discussion groups, the Finale list at SHSU (a forum for discussing the Finale music notation software) and the SMT-talk list from the Society fo Music Theory.

That leaves podcasts. And boy, do I seem to like my podcasts. I have been subscribed to up to 20 of these at a time, which kept me hoppin' with more Internet audio than I could even think about making time to listen to. So I've pared it down to just 4:

  • Merlin Mann's 43Folders podcast (Updated very infrequently)
  • Diggnation (videos) (A video podcast updated weekly)
  • Jawbone Radio (updated infrequently, but usually at least one or two per week)
  • Radio Leo (This is the big one, since it's actually a single feed that delivers all shows in Leo Laporte's podcast network. There are 3-5 updates per week in this podcast).
This diet of podcasts will give me enough audio to listen to on my way to and from the office without inducing the "need" to always have my earbuds in "just to keep up."

Also, I'm going to use the extra time I was spending on the MacCast, NPR's Sunday Puzzle, and The Word Nerds (plus several others) to read more. Books, I mean. I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, a book I've been meaning to read since I was a teenager, and it's great to get in the habit of spending time with books. I've missed it... I don't think I ever went more than 12 hours without a book in my hand (and this doesn't include textbooks) from the time I learned to read until I graduated from high school.

Oh, and one other thing on the "Cancel Something" front: I've stopped using my PDA (a Palm Tungsten E2). I recently got an iPod nano, and since it can carry out the basic functions of a PDA (i.e. store contacts, calendars, to-do lists, and memos) I've completely switched. Now, instead of pulling out my E2 every time I've got a bit of downtime and playing Pyramid Solitaire, I actually stop to notice the world around me.

By the way... I know that the nano doesn't have any data-input capability. That's why I carry around a blank index card as well for important "remember this!" data, which I input into my computer before my next iPod sync. Props for this idea again go to Merlin Mann (here's his article on the nano), self-styled electronic hobo and productivity evangelist. Link to Merlin's "Cancel Something" article follows below.

Saturday, January 7

Internet lampposts to be trialled

This is an awesome idea... solar lamp posts that take energy from the sun (even on cloudy days) to power both the street lamp and an internal wireless Internet access point. This is a great idea; I hope it "works well" in whatever way those in charge want it to work. It could be a boon for bringing Internet access to the world at large, so it would be great if it is deemed profitable enough to be expanded.

Friday, January 6

Two More Pennies For Your Letters

Did anybody know that the postal rates were going up again? This is he first I've heard of it.

Starting Sunday, first-class postage will now be 39 cents, with postcards and additional ounces going up to 24 cents.

I remember, when I was a kid, reading in my mom's 1965 World Book Encyclopedias that letter post was only four cents. Oh, for the simpler times of yesteryear.

Feeling the iPod's presence at CES

I really could care less about the rest of this article (sure, there are some neat new iPod things in it), but can anybody tell me what kind of case that nano is in near the bottom of the page? I'm talking about the picture of the Griffin TuneFlex and iTrip. I'm pretty sure there's some sort of cover on that nano, but I'm not sure which one. Does anybody recognize it? Let me know in the comments if you do. Thanks!

Microsoft rushes out Windows fix

If you're running Windows, visit Windows Update NOW to get the patch for the new horrendous WMF security vulnerability!

Thursday, January 5

Bubble Bobble blows onto PSPs

It looks like the old Taito classic, Bubble Bobble, is getting a facelift (as well as a new game design). This was one of my very favorite games back when I was on the Apple IIe, and I really hope the new version comes our for Windows and/or OSX. It looks really cool... check out Image #2 in the "more images" section.

Monday, January 2

Firefox, again

OK, I was just kidding when I said that I was switching to Fx1.5. I'm sure that the new version would work just fine for me on Windows, but the Mac version just isn't up to snuff. There are just too many changes, plus it's a bit unstable (crashed on me several times) and also much slower. I'm just too much of an early adopter, and I'd really like to be using the cutting-edge version, but it's just not working for me.

Anyway, I'm back to 1.0.7 (again). The link below goes to the download location for the old version.

Sunday, January 1

Dave Barry's year-end wrap-up for 2005

And, as always, completely hilarious... Enjoy!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author (use the link above).

The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.