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 Saturday, May 14, 2005

Whiteboxrobot1Here's something else for Scoble to pimp Windows with: White Box Robotics' PC-BOT Model 914 is a home robot that incorporates "vision-based navigation, object recognition, speech synthesis and speech recognition - all in an easy-to-use yet powerful point-and-click graphical user interface."

It looks remarkably droid-like, and actually it's kinda really nifty and cool. Engadget points out that it runs Microsoft Windows (98SE/ME/2000/XP according to the specs page). And the craziest part? Only $1,199.00 each!

"The White Box Robotics 914 PC-BOT defines the new standard for the personal robot, by fusing two technologies - PCs and mobile robots - into one empowering platform.

"Inspired by art and fueled by science, the 914 PC-BOT gives enthusiasts, students and OEMs alike the opportunity to create revolutionary, functional, low cost mobile robots from off-the-shelf computer parts.

"Tinker with it. Master its intricacies. The 914 was designed to be cut, drilled, painted and modified in countless ways. Create a new future. One inspired by you."

Here's the production schedule, which shows delivery is scheduled for before Christmas, but you can reserve yours today with a $299 deposit:

  • Tooling Starts: May 31
  • First 20 units verified: August 25
  • Production run complete: September 30
  • Customers receive units: November 15-30

WhiteboxrobotSEThere will also be a limited-edition "founders" model, shown at right, which will have fancy paint and a few hardware upgrades. It will sell for $1,699.00 and looks pretty cool, too.

There's also a page listing optional components, which you'll use to deck out the robot to your own tastes.

Coolio idea, nice design. Thinking about it.

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Geek Out | Tech
Saturday, May 14, 2005 11:05:45 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

"A powerful alliance of heros"

"Big Iron again? Let's get in there and kick some proprietary ass!"

Anyhow - if you liked Team America and/or happen to be a Dell fan, check out the video:


Not really sure where this comes from, but the domain is registered to Sam McJunkin in Washington state - Ah, and he works for Maverick Productions, which produced the site. Well there you have it, I guess? Sometimes these things need a little more explanation.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005 10:41:30 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

I've been looking for HDTV antennas that might be able to pull in the Portland HD over-the-air (OTA) broadcast signals all the way out here in Podunk, Oregon (no, that's not the real name, it's a joke...). I recently bought a HD receiver for my Satellite service, and need to see if I can get the local channels this far out.

After poking around on KOIN's web site to find out their HD broadcast coverage, tonight I found three great online resources: Antenna Web, and Note that all three appear to share a common source information, so try all three and see what you come up with.

HDTV_PDX_map2Antenna Web is the Consumer Electronics Association's online resource for buying an antenna to meet your needs based on your address. Answer a few questions and you'll have an idea of what antenna hardware you'll require. Your Antenna Web results will include a list of the local broadcast stations in your market, the broadcast types and channels (and compass heading for pointing), as well as the type and size of antenna required to receive the signals. And you'll be able to view a map of your location with the available channels and bearing shown. No registration required, which is nice. For a sample map of results (my home), click the map image at right. is another good site that doesn't require you to subscribe, and it provides you with quick information about what's available and what color code to be looking for when you pick an antenna. They also have lots of other great information, like the current state of DTV coverage in the United States. is an online service that also provides a set of electronic programming listings that tie into a variety of PVR systems, and you can sign up (it's free) to see listings for your location and to run some tools and find out what kind of HDTV coverage you have where you live.

The tools on the TitanTV web site help you determine what kind of equipment you might need to successfully receive HD signals, and even makes specific antenna recommendations. Note that with OTA broadcast HD, it's often an all-or-none thing (not like regular, analog TV, where you can get a fuzzy signal and just deal with it). There's also online TV listings (for whatever services you use - you specify them when you sign up).

The verdict? Well, I found out pretty much what I expected - It should work, but I am in a fringe reception area and will likely need to use a roof-mounted, high-gain antenna. If I do that, I should be okay.

I also found a link to the FCC's DTV web site, replete with annoying gratuitous flash animations. There's no escaping gratuitous flash. We paid someone to create that?? Ugh.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, May 14, 2005 10:16:20 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

I live In The Middle Of NowhereTM, and it seems recently I can't run the mowers fast enough to keep up with the grass growth (both lawn and field). It's gone from grey and dormant to green and growing like crazy, and the whole area now looks completely different.

This picture was two months ago (March 5th), when the grass was just starting to come back out:


And this is today, after several mowing sessions over the past couple months. Without the mowing, the grass would be three or four feet tall by now. It's amazing each year how freakin' GREEN it gets around here. I know, people who have lived here all their lives roll their eyes and don't get it, but try growing up and living in the desert. Then you'll understand.




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Random Stuff
Saturday, May 14, 2005 7:11:37 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Duct_tape_wallet3M themselves have a web page (on their Canadian site) dedicated to providing a detailed description of how to make a men's wallet using nothing but a roll of Scotch® Duct Tape, a utility knife, a ruler and background music (optional).

"Most people agree that Duct Tape can save you money on costly repair bills but did you know that you could create a wallet to hold all of the money you’ve saved? It’s not as difficult as it sounds and in just a few simple steps, you could be the proud owner of this year’s most important fashion statement ('Duct Tape is my life')."

So, there's a good way to burn away a rainy weekend afternoon with the kids.

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Random Stuff
Saturday, May 14, 2005 12:57:03 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
# has another (big ol') video of the XBOX 360 team discussing what's so cool about the upcoming console. This one's different than the Our Colony video from the other day (although it does share a little common footage).

Nice, and interesting how this marketing thing is happening... View the video here.

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Random Stuff | Tech
Saturday, May 14, 2005 10:36:25 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Friday, May 13, 2005

OneCareClient-screenshot_LARGEI heard a little about this upcoming Microsoft program earlier today (well, yesterday actually) so it's cool they just kicked out a press release: Microsoft just announced OneCare, a service offering that's geared toward the consumer PC market of unmanaged desktops. It will be available for beta testing by the public sometime in the future (see below).

A natural extension of the Windows Update and MBSA concepts, which can patch computers without user intervention and tell you where you stand from a security standpoint, OneCare will take that type of service to a new level. They'll be adding things like PC health management (performance maintenance) and data protection, as well as integrated spyware and bidirectional (yay!) firewall capabilities.

Features of OneCare will include:

  • Defense against evolving threats: Windows OneCare will provide automatically updated anti-virus, anti-spyware and two-way firewall protection.
  • Performance and reliability tools: PC owners will be able to choose to have Windows OneCare automatically carry out periodic maintenance tasks such as disk cleanup, hard-drive defragmentation and file repair. The service also will offer boot-time information and proactive support tools to help improve the customer experience.
  • Backup and restore capabilities: Windows OneCare will enable automated backup of files by category on CD and DVD, along with the option to back up all files on the system or only those that have changed since the last time the action was performed. If files are accidentally deleted or corrupted on the PC hard drive, the service is designed to restore saved versions or map them on a new PC.
  • Simple, integrated service experience: PC users will have one simple point of reference for checking the overall health of their system. Windows OneCare will automatically notify users of available updates or other recommended actions and enable users to easily act as needed. Otherwise, the service stays quiet and in the background.

Microsoft employees are having a shot at it this week for a dogfooding phase of testing, and the public will be able to use it during a beta phase later this year. If you want to nominate yourself to participate in the Public Beta, go to and use "OneCare" as the guest ID there.

Kudos to Microsoft for an initiative-taking program that brings better managed services to unmangaed PCs.

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IT Security | Tech
Friday, May 13, 2005 12:25:18 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Thursday, May 12, 2005

Xbox360The next version of the XBOX, called the XBOX 360, was announced today. They did this kinda lame thing for a half hour on MTV (but hey, what do you expect on that channel), but the device itself looks really awesome. Games, pictures, video, audio - it's a HD media center extender and game console and much more.

If you saw the MTV thing and found it lacking, check out this video. It's very good.

(found via Engadget)

UPDATE: Another preview video has hit the net.

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Geek Out | Tech
Thursday, May 12, 2005 9:46:14 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Messagecast1MessageCast, the service that drives .NET alerts for many-a-weblog (and other services), has announced they've been acquired.

So, if you subscribe to MSN/.NET alerts through for this or other weblogs, they're offline for a bit and will apparently be announcing more shortly.

In an email from the company:

As part of the transition, we need to have you review new licensing terms. Our service will be temporarily disabled in preparation for this.

A follow-up email will be sent shortly which will allow you to re-enable alerts.

Interesting - Hmmm, I wonder who acquired them? I can guess...

UPDATE: Ah - just as I guessed - MessageCast was acquired by Microsoft:

"We have an important announcement: The MessageCast LiveMessage service has been acquired by Microsoft Corporation."

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005 1:24:15 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

I'm in the greater Seattle area for a few days at Microsoft for an event. It's all covered under non-disclosure, so no blogging about the content is allowed, but if anyone's around and wants to catch up, send me an email [greg(a)] and let me know.

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Random Stuff
Wednesday, May 11, 2005 11:54:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Monday, May 09, 2005

RevengeoftheSith_PosterJudging from what Jason Calacanis has to say (as well as from the early reviews of a few others), the newest Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith, should be great. In fact, Jason says it's the best one of them all:

"Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith is the greatest Star Wars film of all time.

As any Star Wars fan knows the most accepted ranking of the films is:

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode IV: A New Hope (the original Star Wars)
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Episode II: The Clone Wars
Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

You can now put Revenge of the Sith as number one, although I suspect some small percentage of folks might put it in the second position after The Empire Strikes Back."

Jason has also posted a podcast (MP3 recording) review of the film, so check it out if you're interested.

Even Kevin Smith (yes, that Kevin Smith) loved it (Caution - contains Plot Spoilers, so don't read it if you want to be surprised when you see the film! - link):

"...this flick is so satisfyingly tragic, you'll think you're watching "Othello" or "Hamlet."

"Look, this is a movie I was genetically predisposed to love. I remember being eight years old, and reading in "Starlog" that Darth Vader became the half-man/half-machine he was following a duel with Ben Kenobi that climaxed with Vader falling into molten lava. Now, twenty six years later, I finally got to see that long-promised battled - and it lived up to any expectation I still held. I was sad to see the flick end, but happy to know it's not the end of the "Star Wars" universe entirely (I've read stuff about a TV show...). "

(in part via Scoble's LinkBlog, in part via all that is Google)

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Movies | Random Stuff
Monday, May 09, 2005 7:26:47 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Sunday, May 08, 2005

DumpsterCollege students Craig Zboyovski and Jamie Berryhill have taken a old concept to a new medium, and actually it's a pretty cool idea.

Their web site,, tells the story:

"As the title says, we are poor. We need your help to be not poor, and you can do this by donating to our cause! Why donate to a charity when you don't know exactly where your money is going to? All proceeds given to us will be used, by us, to live the college life."

When someone donates $5 or more (PayPal is the main option, or they can choose snail mail), the pair creates a sign for use in a thank-you photo and posts it on their web site.

"The whole idea came from another Web site we were looking at," Zhoyovski recalled. "They were demanding money from people as a joke. That's when we both thought: Why not try it ourselves? We're both broke."

It seems to be working - they've made back the $40 they spent registering the domain name, plus another couple hundred bucks. Not too shabby for a couple of college kids.

I remember all too well what it was like when I was in school - Mac and Cheese and lots of potatoes and Top Ramen ruled my world. I discovered five bucks can go a long way in the right hands.

Perhaps the best part is the pair's promise to "pay it forward," to help some other college kids financially, once they get on in life and are able to do so.

By the way guys - next time there's no need to spend $40 to register a domain name - you can do it for under $10 nowadays.

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Helping Others | Random Stuff
Sunday, May 08, 2005 11:11:32 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)

Here's Me (right), my mom, my brother Dave and his daughter, Dara. All together in one place for Mother's Day 2005.


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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Sunday, May 08, 2005 2:21:37 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Saturday, May 07, 2005

A couple days ago, I planned a bit of a scheme to surprise my mom on Mother's Day this weekend.

Today I flew from Portland to Denver and then got a car and drove up to Boulder. Only my brother knew I was coming, because I called him and told him a couple days ago when I got the tickets.

My mom and stepdad just moved to Colorado from New Mexico this past week, and when I arrived at the new house and snuck in the front door, Mom was putting dishes in cabinets. I stood behind her as she was talking to my stepbrother's wife, Kate, and put a hand on her shoulder. She just kept talking to Kate, and after a few seconds stood and turned around to see who has placed a hand on her.

She was (to say the least) surprised. The look on her face was more than worth the place ticket and the fact that today I flew on my ninth airplane in the past six days, and tomorrow I'll have to add one more to the list.

Next trip - dad's place in California. Need to plan that one soon. He reads this now and then so it won't be a surprise, but I'm overdue to pay a visit, for sure.

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Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, May 07, 2005 9:37:45 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
 Thursday, May 05, 2005

From now til June 8th, you can do your best to hack an IIS 6.0 server, and if you're successful, you'll win an Xbox. WindowsIT Pro has issues their Hack IIS 6.0 Challenge.

If you think you've got what it takes, head on over and hack away!

  • May 2 - Challenge begins with very basic static HTML web site to focus hackers on hacking IIS code
  • May 16 - ASP.NET web site put up to give more potential hacking angles
  • June 8 - Contest ends
  • June 9 - Winner (or lack of winner) announced at TechEd in Orlando.

All the details are here, and the rules are here.

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IT Security | Tech
Thursday, May 05, 2005 11:16:21 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)