Archive for June, 2007

Is iPhone “Fools gold”?

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

I am not one to quickly jump on the bandwagon for many trends.  However, I do love new techy hardware.  That’s why I love the concept of the iPhone.  When I say concept, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against the iPhone it’s just that not that many people have actually used it.  I’ve got too recent a memory of a product I really loved.  I bought a Canon MP830 printer that could scan multiple pages, fax, print in beautiful color, had a color display on the printer… It’s pure beauty and just so I wouldn’t jump into something I’d hate later I did my research.  However, its flaws didn’t become apparent for weeks to months later.  It started answering every call that rang. People that had distinctive ring on their phones had me looking at their printer because the feature just all of a sudden wasn’t there any more.  I looked on my printer as well and the display had it disabled and had to go back to Canon for repairs to the motherboard of the printer.

Why the history?  Well, all that glitters (even in reviews) isn’t gold.  The iPhone has many beautiful looking features but the first problem is that all that was on TV.  In reality, iPhone works on the AT&T network with is notoriously slow and in my personal experience, here in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco Bay area, had horrible coverage.  I really think they should have gone to Verizon Wireless which I do love.  Secondly, they decided to go with a glass face and a metal body.
These two things together equal pure eye candy however, so does dripping honey until you notice the bee hive.  Glass, ummm… CRACKS.  It does that very well as you may know.  Also, metal (unlike plastic) doesn’t absorb shock at all.  The combination will have more than a few people buying the plastic coverings for their iPhone.  Problem is, you paid a premium for pretty which you’re now covering.  So, in essense, you’ve bought the most beautiful outfit in the world but have on a full length burlap trench coat.

Also, I have been fighting it but I really don’t think the touch screen idea will work but I don’t take myself too seriously there because I would have told the guy who created Starbuck’s, “Really? A coffee shop? Maybe you should go back to the drawing board.”  This could actually work.  Actually, I do want it to.  I’m just not a believer in the hype.

Show me how well it supports video codecs and really plays back video.  Show me that sticky finger marks won’t make it ugly every day.  Show me that email clients can sync with it easy as a Blackberry.  Show me that and I’m sold.

Sonos is slick but VLC is free

Friday, June 29th, 2007

VLC picture

I must say, I do a LOT of web browsing and a decent amount of blog reading and I came across a great idea for my house as it may be for yours as well. The original blog post was on a site call the Infected project (link to article). The article was on an easy way to set up the Video LAN Client (VLC) media player to be controlled remotely by a web interface.

Let’s start by saying, VLC is my media player of choice on every OS. I use it on Windows, Linux, and Mac and I LOVE IT. I turned my kids onto it about two years ago and they stopped using all other MP3 and video programs. It does it all and it’s a great open source program. As fickle as teens are if my oldest son says it even looks better you should believe him.

After I read the blog post I got a million ideas. First, most people have more than one computer in their house. Second, these computers are usually connected to the internet thus they are connected to each other. This made me think of a lot of great ideas for whole house audio. My older boys play music in their room all night. Thing is, when they go to sleep I end up roaming the house at 2 AM turning off their music. Now I don’t have to. I can control their VLC player from my handheld PC in my room. My 5 and 9 year old go to sleep listening to soft music from their computer. Knowing their IP address allows me to turn on/off their music or change it. Even better, I can lower the volume while I’m sitting in my room on my laptop doing some late night surfing. (more…)

Bad haircut Tuesdays or Microsoft patch Tuesday

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

I know I must bore my wife enough with computer talk just like I do about sports talk.  This time she intrigued me with a great correlation.  I was explaining to her what “Patch Tuesday” is.  Once a month on a Tuesday Microsoft issues new fixes to Windows and Vista.  She said that should be called “Bad haircut Tuesday.”  Its funny because Microsoft has become such a big corporation fixed on quick releases that it just puts out a product and figures it’ll fix a lot after that.  This happens though.  Microsoft gets a lot of flack but patches are a part of every operating system because they can’t think of everything.
What I find funny is Microsoft’s arrogance when I heard an interview on one of twit.tv’s podcast security now. Marc Maiffret of  eEye Digital Security finds many holes and submits them to  Microsoft to be fixed before they even know.  Thing is, they don’t listen to him and their legion of programmers don’t try to fix these problems till weeks or even months later.

How do we fix this? Marc Maiffret fixes his own problems.  He makes a Anti-virus Firewall that is great.  I’ll review it on Friday.

RealPlayer 11 – Best new application of the year? Maybe.

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

realplayer11-main.jpg

An email request was sent to me by a friend of mine named Belinda about what she thought would be really groundbreaking news. This marketing exec extraordinaire need the scoop so I had to check this out. Your friendly neighborhood computer guy was hot on the case.
The application was the old school media favorite RealPlayer with a new facelift and a couple of new features. I’ve been well versed in the Real product line for quite some time. It’s been a great program to me but for some reason I have found it’s support of some codecs and the download of compatible ones to have many needs to be desired when great programs like VLC have less glitz but get the job done.

RealPlayer has put in a little glitz but it has one great super fantastic thing. It will save videos from the web to your hard disk. Yes, that is what it sounds like. You can go on youtube.com and see a video you like and save it to your hard drive. Watch it over and over again or give it to a friend (let’s get back to that friend part in a moment). Once installed it will make Firefox and Internet Explorer have a little box on the cursor whenever you move the mouse over a web video using Flash, Mpeg4, and a lot more. Seeing as how the beta will be available to the general public in a matter of days I expect more codecs will be added before the final release. This is as groundbreaking as Belinda thought it would be. I got kind of excited of using this oldie but goodie. However, I found a couple chinks in it’s armor that the future may hold.

The Rhapsody music system was easy to get up and running and is a good iTunes on some levels but seriously NOTrealplayer_.jpg iTunes (even though I’ve said why I really don’t like iTunes article:”iTunes sucks”) but still not shabby.

The most serious problem is Digital Rights Management (DRM) compliance. Real has stated for the record that they will comply with whatever DRM a website has in place. This hurts the internet in a couple ways. DRM is a tricky subject that I won’t throw in my two cents right now. However, Apple has in the last couple weeks that it is now against DRM and is trying to figure out it’s exit strategy for using it but may not totally come for at least a year or more if ever. This move by Real will fuel it. What will happen is sites like youtube.com will lose the exposure that they enjoy if people start copying their videos off and sharing them without using a youtube link. Thus their next logical option will be to DRM all of their content to stop RealPlayer from taking the content and spreading it through more nefarious means.

Will DRM become rampant on the internet to stop RealPlayer’s cool new features? Is the demise of DRM still imminent?

My take is, RealPlayer is real big and really nice. Definitely worth trying out the second it becomes available. Save a couple of videos for your personal collection. The file naming convention still has a couple tweaks needed to smoothly put your saved files where you want in a nice way but that also may be tweaked soon. Hopefully, Real puts all these features in the open source version Helix. This way programmers all over the internet will take out the icky problem that they may great.

MP3 player or iPod?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

I have run into the raging debate over what portable player to get and here’s my stand.

I’m an MP3 player guy and not just because I don’t like being locked into iTunes.  MP3 players are usually cheaper for the same audio quality.  Allow you to just drag files over without conversion (less time).  Are operating system neutral so they’ll work on anything as a memory stick, etc.

iPods look cool.

Please rip me to shreds on this one if I’m wrong because I want to understand ANY other logic.

P.S.: Don’t even compare the video iPod’s to MP4 players because the same things apply.

Women in technology: Role models needed, please…

Monday, June 18th, 2007

carly_gwen.jpg
picture of Carly Fiorina (former CEO of HP and Gwen Stephani)
Maybe because it’s because of Father’s Day that I’ve been inspired to write this post on women in tech. You see, it started as most of my brainstorms do with one look at my 5 year old daughter. As my mind started to drift into one of those TV show dream sequences beginning with one of those showers of distorted wavy lines and drowsy music. I thought to myself who would I like for my daughter to model herself after. Of course immediately the industry I had in mind was technology. Thing is, I couldn’t think of a good one for her. Maybe it’s my criteria.

You see, I think of raising complete adults. My basis for life is healthy mind, body, and spirit. However, I like most parents want the icing. Ambitious, stylish, beautiful, and good speaker/conversation. Why is Carly Fiorina (former CEO of HP) the closest I could come up with? Help me here. I need suggestions for business or technology women of all ethnicities. Honestly, brains does count more than looks but looks and style open doors in every arena. On the same note Janet Reno does turn this whole argument upside down.

Happy Father’s day

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

To all you men out there that love your technology. You know you probably didn’t get the gift you wanted because you’re the only one that knows the tech you want. Go buy yourself something nice online. Nobody will have to know. Well, unless your big screen plasma is a little too big to not notice.

10 things to add $10,000 to your income by Fall

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Summer is here. It’s not like when you were a kid though. You don’t all of a sudden have nothing to do for months (well, except teachers for the most part). You have work or a business to attend to and probably children. Well, here’s a list I’ve compiled that should help most of you use summer to change your life for the better. I’ve helped many people change jobs or get promoted and it usually seems a least a ten thousand dollar increase. Some of the steps may seem very mundane but believe me, you’ll reap the benefits soon and into the future.
1) See what others are making and doing

Look on the internet (not at work) for job sites like monster, careerbuilder, or dice and see what people in the job you want to do are making. Looking for the jobs paying the most and the job descriptions and see what you need to learn or even better if you need to apply. Also, go to google and search for resumes. In the google search bar you can type in a phrase like: “resume ceo filetype:doc” This will return resumes of people all over doing that job and what they’re doing or have done in Word format. See what you need to do and do it.

2) Learn how to use 1 new application

For every profession there is at least 1 program you could learn to use that really would make you a star. Presentation software (Powerpoint, etc.) can help you look great leading meetings. IT guys might substitute application with programming language (ie PHP, Ruby). Upper level staff and financial people might want to learn SAP or Peoplesoft because many big companies use them.

3) Be seen at summer parties

You don’t need to lose 30lbs or be the talk of the town but you do need to be seen. Most opportunities don’t come from what you know but who you know. So meet some new people and just talk and get their info.

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How much gas are you using?

Friday, June 15th, 2007

Not really a tech issue so much but thinking about our environment today. The government has changed the way it calculates gas mileage. Your car should be on this list.

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

Drobo or loco?

Friday, June 15th, 2007

For all you really techy types there’s a new RAID storage device called Drobo.

Drobo

It’s a storage device that takes any combination of 3 SATA hard disks and combines them into on USB storage unit in RAID 5 fashion. Could I have done this with an old computer, SATA card and Linux/BSD OS of my choice? Yes… but it looks so cool.

At $700 and no plans of wifi or gigabit ethernet call me really un-cool.