Thursday, 02 September 2004

Microsoft today released Windows Media Player 10 to the web.

Jump on over and grab the download, find out about some of the new and forthcoming devices that take advantage of the technology, check out the WMP 10 trailer (300Kb), or view out one of the online streaming videos just released that describe the new features of the technology:

Sync Your Portable Media Center Device with Your PC  
Synchronize Music and Pictures to a Portable Media Center Device  
Convert and Sync Video to Your Portable Media Center Device  
Using Windows Media Player 10 to Create a Digital Jukebox  

Cool stuff. I like the Bliss add-on visualization, that's nifty.

Broken image in the WMP10 UII have only found one minor glitch so far (and its one that occurred in the tech-beta version, as well, but this is a fresh install on a clean, non-beta-poisoned computer). In the upper right corner there is a broken image icon, reminiscent of Internet Explorer. I wonder how much IE is leveraged in the WMP10 interface. Interesting. A reboot did not fix the issue, either. Clicking on the broken image placeholder resultsi n the same menu associated with the down-arrow image to the right of the broken one.

Time to find a Portable Media Device! :-)

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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Thursday, 02 September 2004 15:50:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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CERT (the Computer Emergency Readiness Team) made it little more official this week and issued a Cyber Security Alert [SA04-243A] recommending that computer users upgrade to Windows XP SP2.

Taken from the US-CERT web site alert:


To help protect your Windows XP computer from attacks and vulnerabilities, install Service Pack 2 using Windows Update or Automatic Updates.

Note: Service Pack 2 makes significant changes to improve the security of Windows XP, and these changes may have negative effects on some programs and Windows functionality. Before you install Service Pack 2, back up your important data and consult your computer manufacturer's web site for information about Service Pack 2.

The recommendation is made specifically for home users, which stand to see the highest benefit, but applies in principle to businesses as well. However, note that many business computing environments are centrally managed. If you work in a company that has centrally-managed software and security procedures, be sure to check in with those people before you install SP2 - they may already have a plan in place.

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, 02 September 2004 06:31:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 01 September 2004

I have FIVE FOUR THREE TWO  ONE [Sorry - ALL GONE! Next time!] Gmail account invitations to hand out.

Update: Six more invitations up for grabs here.

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Random Stuff
Wednesday, 01 September 2004 19:16:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 29 August 2004

I've been a Dish Network customer for years, and before that I was a DirecTV customer. These days I have standard-definition Dish Network equipment with a TiVo DVR box, and in another room I have one of Dish Network's standard-def DVR receivers, as well.

I'll be honest: I don't like Dish's DVR receiver at all. I don't even use the DVR capability. It's annoying - it doesn't even download the programming guide on it's own - It makes me do it when I try to access the guide and it suddenly realizes there's nothing in memory to display. I have no idea who designed Dish Network's receiver software, but I can almost guarantee you it's been the same person(s) since day-one. All their equipment has this unusable "engineer" flavor. Instead I use my TiVo all the time, every day, with the TiVo remote and IR blaster controlling the satellite receiver.

But what I want is High Definition TV all-around. I have a nice high-def projector and I want to do more than playing Counter-Strike and Halo in HD.

Dish Network has a $1000 HD DVR available, but I can't bring myself to risk spending the money on it - every Dish Network receiver I have ever owned (and that's several) has been lacking in the usability department. Maybe they got it right on their new one, but there is no way for me to know. No one I know has one of these units. I can see the potential in it, but past experience scares me too much to pony up that much money. Now, if Dish Network wanted to send me one to try out, they could do that - I'd even review it (objectively) here. But no up-front money any more, not unless I can see it in action. Sorry, Charlie.

So, I have been looking at options to the Dish Network lineup. Probably the most obvious is DirecTV, my long-ago former satellite television service provider. They also have a HD receiver, and this one is a DirecTiVo model, which certainly catches my attention. TiVo's product is solid and ranks high in my one-man usability survey. If I try hard enough, I can probably find a place somewhere in this city to demo the DirecTV product. I will probably try to do that, since I doubt DirecTV will be willing to loan me one to evaluate, either. But if they want to, I'll gladly take them up on the offer.

But there's another company that's got my eye, as well. I have been watching a third company, VOOM, for the past several months. I like VOOM and their web site- they even show you on their site what you see on the screen, what the equipment is like, pretty much anything you want to know. Why don't all the companies do that? They also have something that just caught my eye, and which I might even be willing to wait around for - They're prepping a HD-DVR and their "Whole House Solution." This is looking very interesting. Accessing your PC - does this integrate with Windows XP Media Center Edition by chance? Maybe not, and that's a whole different post topic for another day - The only thing that's really missing from XP MCE -- in my not-so-humble opinion -- is high-def support. Anyone know? Hey VOOM - you need a market tester??? :-)

Ripped unabashedly and directly from the VOOMTM web site and their future-stuff page:

With the introduction of our HD-DVR, you'll be able to watch and record any channel, whenever you want, in both standard and high definition. Every recording is a perfect digital version of the original. The VOOM DVR has multiple tuners, enabling you to record two shows while you’re watching a third! And you can expand the DVR’s usefulness even further with our Whole House Solution.

Our upcoming Whole House Solution extends the power of our DVR throughout your home. With a single click, you can pause live TV and HDTV, then go to another room and pick up where you left off. It also connects your TV and PC entertainment like never before. You can access your PC and enjoy digital music and photos on any TV in the house. That's VOOMing!

Obviously, this looks like it has some potential. I've been considering moving to a PC/network-based digital media solution, and Satellite TV in HD is the only way I can take advantage of the video equipment that is presently leveraged only by my X-BOX and DVD home theater systems. I'll be buying something eventually, I just don't know what.

If anyone has any personal experience with any of this new technology. please share your thoughts - We'd like to know!

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Random Stuff
Saturday, 28 August 2004 23:22:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Saturday, 28 August 2004

My friend Dian wrote to say she is thrilled to let everyone know that the new Urban Grind Coffee, in the Pearl, is finally open!  They're done with construction and training and are fully operational. Head on down and check them out. Be sure to take your laptop - they're a Personal Telco site, so free WiFi is available!

Urban Grind Coffee is located at 911 NW 14th Ave. in the Pearl, on the corner of 14th and Kearny (Portland).  The building is just one block north of the new REI store in a very cool part of town. Their business hours are:

  • Sunday 7am-7pm
  • Monday/Tuesday 6am-7pm
  • Wednesday-Friday 6am-9pm
  • Saturday 7am-9pm

Right now they're focusing on espresso drinks and pastries, but should be adding more breakfast and lunch items in the coming weeks.  Desserts and wine/beer are a month or two away.

If you're in the area, stop in and check them out!

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, 28 August 2004 22:47:09 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Web forums used to be useful. Then h4xZ0r teenagers found them, and the world changed (for the worse). Over at for example, about two years ago things in the support forums went to hell in a hand-basket - about the time goldzip came along (or a little thereafter). Forum flaming became an art for a short time, but as it is with most art-forms, it was quickly commoditized and thus cheapened.

But I digress...

Someone apparently picked up on this little-known and less-understood behavior over at the Steam forums, and having realized that a FAQ or sticky post won't get read by the people that need to read it, did what all good communicators do: Took it to their own medium and style.

Introducing: Posting and You

Pretty much hits the proverbial nail right on the head.

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Random Stuff | Things that Suck
Saturday, 28 August 2004 19:01:49 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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