Tuesday, March 04, 2008

After seven years with Dish Network, I made the change Monday to DirecTV and their HD programming. Granted, Dish Network's HD package has improved lately, and their new HD-only package was interesting, but a few things swayed me away and over to the other satellite programming vendor.

DirecTV has great HD capacity today and is quickly adding more. Another satellite will be launched in the next couple weeks, in fact. Their HD quality is pretty darned good. I like their equipment. And, although it's not here yet, I am thinking ahead to the forthcoming HDPC-20 - a DirecTV tuner device that will integrate with Vista Media Center. I'll be an early adopter of that technology, you can be sure.

The installer was great (despite the pouring rain he had to deal with), and before I knew it I was enjoying 90+ channels of HD programming. I can see some compression in some of the HD content, but you have to expect some of that. All I know is it looks much better than cable TV HD service I've seen before. I suppose I could complain about the fact that I now have a bigger antenna on my roof, but that seriously doesn't matter. I'm getting a lot of choice in return.

Bonus features include the ability to add my own external 750GB eSATA drive to the HD DVR (nice!), web-based DVR remote scheduling, Internet connectivity for on-demand content and information (which is new and in beta), and nice menus and software on the receivers in general. Seriously, it just feels better when you use it.

I'll be participating in the "cutting edge" program, loading software releases for the HD receiver and HD DVR devices at odd hours now and then to test new features and fixes before they're released nationwide. So, this move helps me fulfill the needs of my inner geek, too.

It's really a world of difference with the new service. Quality- and content-wise, it's a big step up.



Add/Read: Comments [5]
Geek Out | Tech
Tuesday, March 04, 2008 9:46:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, March 02, 2008

... and one of the best scenes. Silly, really. But every time I watch this film I laugh out loud, even still today.

"First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it."

 
Sorry for the random post. I have no idea why I'm writing this, really. For some reason it was just on my mind.
 
If you've never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, then each of the following three things applies directly to you:
  1. Your life is incomplete
  2. You're missing out
  3. Shame on you

So go rent or buy a copy now, then watch it and relax, knowing your life is much more whole than it had been before you read this post.



Add/Read: Comments [9]
Humor | Movies | Random Stuff
Sunday, March 02, 2008 11:22:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, February 26, 2008

imageMine iPhone's jail-broken to let me use a couple truly-useful apps written by third parties, so I'll just wait a few hours before I apply this update from Apple, but early reports are that this new version of the iPhone/Touch firmware can be jail-broken using ZIPHONE (for the adventurous only of course), but note that the author (Zibri) says not to upgrade yet, and to wait for him to create a quick update. No problem. I like having my NetFlix queue available, so jail-breaking is in the cards for me.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog has all the goods and is updating with more info as they discover the details of this firmware release. So far bug fixes seems to be the official word.

Nice that Apple's supplying regular fixes. I'm not exactly counting on being pleasantly surprised and finding things like 802.1x and a whole slew of other needed enhancements, though. Hopefully some day.



Add/Read: Comments [0]
Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 11:51:36 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

I'm sitting in a local Starbucks, doing the ol' WiFi and latte thing. A sign posted on the door as you enter tells customers that the store is closing today at 5:30 p.m. for sbux_cuptraining. According to CNN, the entire chain is doing this, to provide every one of its 135,000 baristas (hmm, that's a lot of workers per location eh?) with training intended to improve the customer-coffee experience.

Good move. I've been a little disappointed from time to time over the past year or so with the declining consistency and quality of my expensive habit. Here's to hoping things get a little better. The chain needs it.

Personally, I won't be heading to Dunkin' Donuts while the training is in progress because I don't need more caffeine that late in the day. But if you do, rumor has it they're running a 99-cent special starting at 1:00 p.m.

Sidebar: When did 99 cents become a "special" price for a cup of coffee? I must be getting old.



Add/Read: Comments [1]
Random Stuff
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 11:11:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, February 24, 2008

It's a little strange, I suppose, even though I have this fancy home theater projector and sound set up in a room allocated just for that purpose, that my living room TV would a 12-or-so-year-old RCA rear projection set. The old RCA is a reliable, still-going strong, 53" wood cabinet model. But it has a glossy screen and reflects light like a mirror. It's hard to watch anything when it's light outside, for sure. the place where the TV lives provides the perfect angle for reflecting the view out the french doors.

New LG LCD 42" HDTV This weekend, Fry's electronics has a great sale on a 42" LG 1080P LCD HDTV (model 42LB5D) on sale for $997.00 (also available online for that price as of the time of this writing, with very reasonable shipping), which is a steal no matter how you look at it. Best Buy's price is around $1599, and you can find it online for around $1200 if you look hard enough. But the Fry's advertised price this weekend was something else entirely.

After a day of thinking about it, I decided it was a good enough deal to take advantage of, and that it would be nice to reclaim some space in my living room. At Best Buy they were willing to match the Fry's price for me last night (frankly, I'd prefer to purchase at Best Buy, but I was open to the alternative if they could not match), and so I drove into town and picked up my new living room TV for $600 less than the floor price and took it home. Score!

It was 11pm by the time we got back home and I was tired, but that's never really stopped me. We set it up and turned it on. In short, as I expected, it's an amazing difference. The LG set is very, very bright and has a great picture, and with 3 HDMI inputs and a variety of others, I'm set. We hooked up a HDMI up-converting DVD player and watched American Psycho (wow, what a film, heh). Color me impressed.

This morning I was able to watch anything I wanted with the blinds pulled open and the sun shining in the windows. I'm a happy camper.



Add/Read: Comments [5]
Geek Out | Random Stuff | Tech
Sunday, February 24, 2008 2:00:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looks like Vista SP1 for the 64-bit version of the OS is now available publicly on Windows Update. No sign of the 32-bit version yet, but I'm glad to get it for this particular computer.

image

image

Knowledge Base article KB936330 is available, as is the release-notes publication at TechNet.



Add/Read: Comments [3]
IT Security | Tech
Thursday, February 21, 2008 2:31:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#