Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nowhere to run....


...and nowhere to hide (out)!

This time of year, especially THIS year, I tend to look for someplace warm and windy to escape to for a bit of winter fun-in-the-sun. Waking up this morning to -11 temps, with wind chills below -40 had me online in no time looking for flights from GRB to OGG. Maui has been on fire so far this January and there's no good reason NOT to use up some frequent flier miles right now.

I popped over to a friend of mine who blogs on maui, and I find this post.

Snow on Maui.

My chest tightened. I quickly glanced around. The walls started to close in. WTF? Snow on Maui? GP didn't get out in the water yesterday because of the cold??

Mr. Gore - Where the hell is your global warming?! I for one, could use it!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Marketing around the NFL's rights


This time of year I always get a kick out of the local and national companies who have marketing messages to play off of the Super Bowl, but don't actually have licensing rights from the NFL to use the protected mark of "Super Bowl" in their advertisements.

Since they can't use "Super Bowl", they work hard to get inventive for substitutes. Here are some that I've heard...

SuperBlitz42
BigBowl
SuperGame
Phoenix42

The ads are usually a combination of bad creative, poor production value and weak product with a dash of wannabe thrown in. ;-)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

These guys should know better


It seems like every time I fire up Joost, it pulls down a new version. Most times their update server is down, clogged or unresponsive. Those guys know a thing or two about video streaming, but apparently don't have a clue about running update servers. Kinda odd if you ask me.

But the most annoying thing is that if you can't upgrade, you can't watch video. Older versions are always unable to function once a new version is released. Combine this with their crappy update servers, and you have one frustrating service.

I think they're strategy of crippling older version is a terrible idea and isn't serving them in the long run. Its having the opposite effect in terms of user satisfaction and makes you want to look elsewhere for video content.

Free or not, if you suck, you suck.

Back in a bit...


That's what YouTube reported when I tried to upload a video almost 4 hours ago.

So, just how long is a "bit"?

I think their definition is a heck of a lot longer than their users. Perhaps a different word should have been used. Or maybe an entirely new message is in order?

"Hey, some blinky lights stopped blinking. We're working on it, but we really have no idea why they stopped blinking or what it will take to get them to blink again. Take this opportunity to close your laptop and go outside or something."

I dunno, just a suggestion. ;-)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Snowcake


A friend of mine who lives in a warmer climate asked how the snow was up here.

Good enough?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Al's (big) problem


Its been bugging me for years. I'm not obsessing on it, but its been nagging in the back of my mind and this morning while reading transcripts of Gore/Bono at the Davos event, it finally hit me.

Something has fundamentally bothered me about Al Gore's posture and position on man made global warming. No, I'm not talking about his innate desire to create a new currency (carbon credits) and how he's heavily invested in carbon credit trading companies and the serious conflict of interest and corruption there. No, I'm talking about the overall lifecycle and stickiness/long tail of his message.

Whenever Al talks, he's talking about things we need to STOP doing. He really never talks about solving the problem. This is a crucial problem for any longevity of his message as a platform - aside from his lack of understanding actual planetary science, but I'm not going into a rant on that. (for now)

You read transcripts of folks who are working to fix energy source problems with new ideas, etc. and you get inspired.

You read transcripts of Gore talking about all the things you need to stop doing, and you get tired.

People don't like being bored and tired.

People flock to those that lead and inspire.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Godspeed!


Today Richard Branson and company unveiled Rutan's design for SpaceShipTwo and the launch vehicle, White Knight II.

Very much different than SpaceShipOne and the original White Knight, this configuration is focussed on 1) reliability/safety and 2) low total cost of operations.

Aside from the twin fuselages on White Knight II, this is probably the most "normal" configuration of an airframe that I've ever seen from Burt. SpaceShipTwo resembles the DynaSoar project from the 60's, which was the precusor to the Space Shuttle as we know it today. (without the shuttlecocking wings and vertical Atlas launch vehicle)

I was at the first sub orbital launch of SpaceShipOne in June of 2004 (before the two X-Prize flights) and I was impressed with the operations .... not in their complexity and organization, but in their simplicity and lack of overhead.

This simplicity and lack of overhead is the very thing that separates VirginGalactic/Scaled from the rest of the suborbital community. These guys are building REAL flight vehicles. These guys have a track record of building successful aircraft. And they've been doing it for 30+ years.

UPDATE - I forgot to mention that the WK2 design is also a decent launch platform for orbital rockets and other money making missions. Smart. ;-)

I'm excited for the team, and I wish them godspeed in their business endeavor!

Something new


I'm one of the founding members of the Wisconsin Software Business Roundtable - a group who is dedicated to helping build the software development community in the state. We're primarily focussed on pure play software companies, not consulting shops (think product v. contract development).

In the pursuit of inspiring state based development, I've created BadgerCode.com as a place where Wisconsin based companies can post software projects (big or small) that need to be completed and local programming talent can review the projects and hopefully jump on them.

We're pushing the exposure to this towards the up and coming college coders as it gives them real world experience for their resume, plus a nice little bit of cash flow to boot. The companies benefit from getting projects completed, usually under budget, but also get to find some good talent that they'll bring on full time and keep the software talent from leaving the state.

The website has just launched - I actually just did it with a quick Mac based website development tool to fast track it. We're going to be adding a full project management engine into it shortly, but I wanted to get things up and running ASAP, so I took matters into my own hands. ;-)

Know of an IT team that needs a project done? Send them to BadgerCode.com and have them post it to us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Self inflicted distractions


This morning driving to work, the roads sucked. We got about 5 inches of snow overnight and combined with the low temps, the roads were super slick and you really had to concentrate on keeping your car stable with the black ice in the single digit temps.

I was completely amazed at the number of folks who were talking on their cellphones - so much so that I kept track of the numbers, and roughly 30% of the people I passed were chatting on their phones....without headsets. (and if you are going to get a bluetooth headset - can I recommend the Jawbone?)

Now, I'm ok with talking on a phone while you drive as long as you have a headset on - after all, what's the real difference in talking to someone on the phone, or someone sitting next to you in the car. But taking one hand off the wheel in conditions like this to chat on the phone? Not smart.

Take a look at the things you do daily at work or in business. Are you choosing to do things that take your eye (and mind) off of the ball? For me, I'm guilty of this, and I really try to be mindful of it such that I have a "parking lot" of written ideas to work on when I have the time.

Concentrate - stay on the road and keep your business on track. ;-)

Monday, January 21, 2008

The good old days (part II)


Know what these are? Look closely at the handwritten notes on the chips. These are copies of original Macintosh 128k ROM's (B and C). Here's the backstory...

Back when Mac's were based on Motorola 86000 series CPU's, these were the ROM chips that made a Mac a Mac. But why make copies of the ROMs? Simple - Amiga.

See, the Amiga was based on the same chipset, and with a little harware hack, combined with these ROM's, Amiga's could be a full functioning Mac. Sometimes at faster speeds than commercially available Macs.

I know you are asking - why bother? Back then (this was around 1989), Macintosh computers were sold at a premium price. I think my 68030 based Mac IIci A/UX (Apple's first crack at a unix OS) workstation with a 13" monitor 4 MB of RAM and 80MB (that's MB, not GB) drive was retail $13,000! Thank god for the student discount, but even with that I think the whole thing cost me like $5,200. OUCH!

So, with prices like that, being able to run System 7 on an Amiga was a HUGE deal. And Amiga users would pay fairly decent prices for ROMs. Now, I wasn't in the trade of selling ROM's, but as a hacker, I burned my fair share of ROMs for hardware hacking on my IIci and on my friend's Amigas. I loved my PROM burner. ;-) (there's a whole 'nother Apple ][ ROM story coming, but that was almost a decade earlier)

Hmmm, what else did I find in that box of goodies....

Rats!


The Pack fell to the Giants last night. Sure sucks to loose at home like that. Bummer. Oh well, it was a hell of a season. Way more than anyone expected, and with the youth and talent on the team, next year should delight as well.

Anyone want a plane ticket from GRB to PHX? ;-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Literally freezing your tush!

Its gameday and holy smokes is it cold! Amazingly there are still small patches of open water on the bay and the steam rising off of those patches over the bay is quite beautiful in the morning light. (sorry, no pictures as I don't have a decent telephoto lens to capture it)

The computer models at the NWS have the kick off air temp at -1, windchill of -16. By the end of the game, the temperature will have dropped to -6 with a windchill somewhere south of -21.

You can dress for the cold no doubt, but your comfort level depends on how you handle your biggest adversary. Your seat.

See, Lambeau Field is bench seating. Metal bench seating. No individual seats/chairs. We're talking high school style bleacher seating. (click on the pic) Essentially you are sitting on a giant heat sink that is pulling heat right out of your, well, um ... bottom. To survive, you need to insulate your tush from the bench - and most folks carry in stadium seats with backs on them. Some have foam pads to sit on, hunting seats and some improvise with cardboard from shipping boxes. What most people DON'T think about is insulating their feet from the cement underneath them. Even a single sheet of cardboard will do the trick, but watch out for the beer spiller behind you. I'd opt for a little piece of foam instead.

On warm weather days, everyone is pretty mashed into their seats. In weather like this, where everyone is bundled up, seating space is amazingly tight. If you like to have "personal space", then don't go to a game at Lambeau. When its cold, we all need to be mashed in - its actually warmer for everyone involved. The poor folks on the end of the rows are lucky to keep one (butt) cheek on the bench, that's how tight it is. My seats are dead center in the row, and if we don't get it early enough, its work to just get space enough to sit down. ;-)

At any rate - its gonna be fun, cold and everyone will have stories that they'll tell for years and years.

I just want to get through this game as I hear the weather in Phoenix will be a heck of a lot nicer for the Big Game. ;-)

My prediction? Packers 17, Giants 6.

GO PACK GO!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Keep your shirts on folks!


The local National Weather Service (NWS) office here in Green Bay has issued a special weather statement about the cold weather for Sunday (tomorrow). I can guarantee you that if there was NOT a game tomorrow, this statement wouldn't exist. Today was colder than tomorrow is forecasted, but no special weather statement like this for today. Note the suggestions on layering and avoiding alcoholic beverages. ;-)

BROWN- INCLUDING THE CITY OF...GREEN BAY 523 PM CST SAT JAN 19 2008

...COLD WEATHER EXPECTED SUNDAY...

AN ARCTIC AIRMASS WILL CONTINUE TO AFFECT GREEN BAY AND NORTHEAST WISCONSIN ON SUNDAY. MORNING LOW TEMPERATURES WILL REACH NEAR 17 BELOW ZERO IN GREEN BAY...WITH WIND CHILLS AS COLD AS 35 BELOW.

SUNNY SKIES DURING THE DAY WILL ONLY HELP A LITTLE. AFTERNOON HIGH TEMPERATURES WILL REACH NEAR 3 ABOVE. A WEST WIND OF 10 MPH WILL PRODUCE LATE AFTERNOON WIND CHILLS OF 10 TO 15 BELOW.

IF YOU HAVE PLANS TO BE OUTSIDE SUNDAY...MAKE SURE YOU ARE DRESSED FOR THE WEATHER. SEVERAL LAYERS OF LIGHT CLOTHING PROVIDE MORE WARMTH THAN A SINGLE HEAVY LAYER. BE SURE TO WEAR A HAT AND GLOVES OR MITTENS. AVOID ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES...THEY CAUSE THE BODY TO LOSE HEAT MORE RAPIDLY.

Exposed skin freezes in like 15-20 minutes in that weather. But I'm most certain there's gonna be a bunch of guys with their shirts off. You can bet on it.

Welcome to Green Bay

All the sportscasters were given a nice little wake up surprise this morning with the weather in town. Glorious sunshine greeted those sipping over their morning coffee, and it actually looks hospitable outside. That is until you actually go outside.

Welcome to Green Bay folks. ;-)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ah, the good old days...


Moving offices did have some fun side effects - namely the discovery of an old, forgotten box of stuff from WAAAAY back.

I'll post more over the next few weeks, but I'll start with a personal favorite.

This is a Radio Shack Pocket Tone Dialer. What's so special about it? Back in the mid 80's of phone phreaking, coin deposit signaling was done in channel for pay phones. A device that utilized these tones to trick the Bell switch into thinking that you had actually deposited money into the pay phones were called Red Boxes. They came in all shapes, sizes and colors (no, I've never seen one that was actually red).

Then Radio Shack started producing this little tone dialer and the tones/chirps used for the coin signaling we're not touch tones, but they were close. All that was needed was to modify the tone crystal to change the actual touch tone frequency, program in the appropriate number of chirps (quarters were 5 chirps, a dime was 2 chirps and a nickle was a single chirp) into the speed dial buttons and POOF! Instant red box. ;-)

Of course pay phones are doing the way of the dinosaur, and even if you could find one, most of the coin signaling is all done off channel digitally. Still, a nice relic from days gone past.

This one still works - Check out the video below.


video

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The seeds are on the inside


The MacBook Air was a decent announcement for the keynote, but I don't think it was the most important item that day. I think what Apple is doing with iTunes in terms of rentals was huge. Nobody else seems to be making it in that arena, and Apple has a strong marketshare of audience and the capability to execute better than anyone else here.

Remember, the iPod wasn't the first or the most feature rich MP3 player when it was announced, but now, its da bomb. Online movie rentals aren't new either, but the change to AppleTV signifies that Apple understands our digital lifestyle needs and they're in the thick of it with the change to AppleTV, TimeCapsule, and iTunes. The only thing glaringly missing from AppleTV is a DVR capability, but this conflicts with Apple's desire to SELL you TV shows, not record them. So don't expect this anytime soon as a feature. (this is good news to Elgato and company with their eyeTV products)

The other key hardware announcement was Apple's 100% commitment to the embedded OSX platform. Of course this was hiding in plain sight in the MacBook Air release. Huh? Follow me here...

1. The Air (MacBook Air) motherboard. Super duper small. Small energy requirements. Small thermal footprint. Look at it. Take away the keyboard, make the screen smaller, add a touch screen overlay - you can have one hell of a small handheld unit just based on existing parts. And we're not talking a lame iPhone CPU here, we're talking a real Core2 Duo machine. The reason the Air doesn't have all the ports we have on the MacBook/Pro? Because the other machine that shares its motherboard doesn't need them either. ;-)

2. Intel's working with Apple to shrink the chip's physical footprint on the motherboard to enable them to build the Air. This is significant since actual sales of the Air will NOT justify Intel doing this. The Air has a small market, a high price point and won't even come close to the sales volumes of the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Intel did this for Apple for the forthcoming handheld that will fly off the shelves and have actual sales volume.

3. New multi-touch gestures being integrated into OSX. They're kinda clunky on a laptop, but work great on an iPhone. Multi-touch isn't a big deal for the Air, but its a road sign that we're going to be seeing machines that will NEED multi-touch like the iPhone does because there's no integrated keyboard.

4. Non user-replaceable battery. Get used to it.

Buzzkill


I was looking forward to getting my hands on the Axiotron Modbook at MacWorld this week, as you all know I'm very interested in a Mac somewhere in the tablet/Newtoneque form factor.

That said, once I actually got to use the Modbook, I was unimpressed with the actual functioning unit. The most glaring problem was the lack of portrait orientation in the display when running OSX. Windows doesn't have a problem changing the orientation, but OSX doesn't like to change your primary display that way. Being stuck in landscape mode is a real problem for the success of the Modbook for the OSX community.

Second, its a pure tablet. I didn't think the lack of keyboard would be a problem, but it is. I was actually finding myself WANTING the iPhone's on screen keyboard when using the device, but the way the touch screen works, its impossible. See, its not a real touch screen, its a pen based touch screen. Its not working off of pressure of the stylus, its working off of reading the location of the pen against the display to do the cursor control. That in itself was problematic because if the pen was an inch or two off of the display, it would still register. This was causing the cursor to jump around the desktop and was super annoying during the demo.

So in the end, I think this product is going to end up dead meat on the OSX highway. I think they built a nice piece of hardware, but without pure OSX support, on screen keyboard, a real "touch" screen and portrait orientation, there's no longevity here.

With new multi-touch gestures on the MacBook Air, the stage is set for the forthcoming Apple tablet/Newton 2.0 which will crush the Modbook in milliseconds. (did you see how SMALL that MacBook Air motherboard is? Hell, you can put that thing in just about ANYTHING)

Just about nailed it


In a post back in November, I predicted that we'd see a new and improved AppleTV released at the keynote this week. Looking back at the post, I just about nailed it exactly, sans the Flickr and YouTube browser capabilities.

The only thing AppleTV is missing is a real web browser and bluetooth keyboard/mouse! (and we all know it can do that when hacked with a full OSX install).

I'm really happy about the movie rental option, though I wish you had more options for sharing rented movies on authorized devices that hang off of your Mac.

What else can you do with it?


With the MacBook Air not having a physical CD/DVD drive, Apple rolled out their Remote Disk solution which enables you to access a CD/DVD in another machine (Mac or Windows) the same as if it were actually in a local drive.

This begs the question about remote mounting of ANY disk or disk image and what other cool things people can hack onto/into this?

What about just mounting your gmail folder as a disk? (I know there are hacks for that already, but its a quick analogy that came to mind)

Just a thought....

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Its all in the numbers


No, this isn't a post about Brett. What's important about the photo is the number on his jersey. Of course, everyone knows he's number four. But the number is important because of a very different reason which will have serious ramifications on this weekend's game.

The high temperature for Sunday is 4 degrees.

Yup, the HIGH temp is supposed to be 4. The game is in the evening, so it would be a safe bet that the game time temps are going to be about ZERO.

ZERO.... Think about it.

Add in a 10-15 MPH west wind, and you've got some bone chilling weather.

In those temps, footballs actually freeze solid. Punts (hopefully we won't be doing much of that) go about 30 yards. Even though the field has an in-ground heating grid, it still freezes making traction dicey at best. And your beer? If you don't drink it fast enough, ice will form in it.

This is why we love winter games at Lambeau. ;-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Attack of the Scoblers!


Robert has become a media spectacle all to himself. As he perused the MacWorld expo hall floor, he was followed by what can only be described as... dare I say it? Groupies?! ;-)

No. I can't. Instead, I think I'll call them Scoblers. Kinda lame I know, but they're not like most groupies you see or think of.

While Robert was doing an on the spot interview (I can only assume that he will post it via Qik - which was totally swamped during the keynote this morning along with Twitter) he had a few in low orbit around him mimicking his every move.

The best? Check out the people taking pictures of Scoble taking pictures.

What's next? Someone posting video of Scoble doing video?

My new keynote strategy


As reported on TUAW, these guys pictured here got in line for Steve's keynote a full 21 hours before it started. I'm sure sleeping on the concrete was a ton of fun. Bathroom? Who needs it? They had some empty Starbucks cups. But in the end, I bet those guys had kick ass seats.

Funny, I had a better seat than they did.

I slept in my hotel after a nice evening of sushi and drinks with a good friend of mine. I slumbered in complete bliss in my comfy bed with down comforter and hit the snooze button this morning long enough that I finally just turned it off.

I left the hotel about 10 minutes before the keynote, walked in, went up the escalators, and walked into the keynote. Timing? About the same time Steve walked on stage. Perfect! I went to the front and parked my ass in a seat that was pretty much dead center as close as I could get without being press or having a super pass.

No waiting. No shivering in the cold SF morning. No yawns. No need for coffee.

Damn I almost feel sorry for those guys.

Naw, I don't. ;-)

Something very special in the air indeed!


The new MacBook Air is (almost) the machine I've been waiting for. Its small. Has a decent screen, good keyboard and while they could have dropped the lighted keyboard, I'm kinda glad it made the cut. Batter life looks good - we'll see how that works in the real world. Like the iPhone, its an internal, non replaceable battery. Steve didn't mention much about the graphics, so we'll assume that it uses the crappy Intel integrated graphics chip. (bummer, but you gotta compromise somewhere).

I'm VERY glad it has a standard USB port. This machine screams wireless and without the ability to plug in an EVDO card, it would be DOA as far as I'm concerned. I was really hoping for integrated EVDO, but we'll have to wait on that.

As for its size, you really need to see it and hold it to really appreciate it. You'll immediately notice the change in form factor from all other MacBooks. In this respect, form follows function, and this machine NEEDED an aluminum case for thermal handling of the CPU and the gentle curves in the case design give needed structural strength to a very slim form factor.

All in all, its pretty sweet. The optional SSD will run ya a thousand bucks. Yikes! But that technology will come down in price soon enough.

Am I going to get one? Hmmmm, there's one in my shopping cart on store.apple.com right now....

UPDATE : After playing with one at the show this is not the machine for me. Its just too crippled.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The road to the Super Bowl goes through Lambeau!

Duuuuuuude! The Giants snuck it out against the Cowgirl's last night and the NFL Championship game is gonna be held at Lambeau Field next week!

Sweeeeeet!

Everyone is sooooo jacked up here in town its crazy. This has been a dream season in every respect, and everyone here is still pinching themselves. ;-)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More snow


We got about 5 inches overnight, and 2-3 more today. It's wet heavy show that's sticking to everything.

The twelfth man on the field


The game yesterday against the Seahawks was easily the coolest football game I'd even been to. Sure we crushed Holmgren and company, but the snow! Amazing snow! For the entire 3rd quarter you couldn't even see the other side of the bowl. (game video summary)

Of course, the field was quickly obscured by the thick, heavy flakes.

First the grounds crew used brooms to keep the yardline markers visible. Five brooms wasn't gonna cut it.

Then they switched to shovels. They had about ten shovels, but that didn't do it either.

Then they brought out a large enclosed riding mower with a snow brush on the front. That seemed to work well, but the motor that powered the brush crapped out...

Finally they pulled out the big guns with a full sized tractor with a powerful snow brush that I think was chewing more turn that snow, but that did the trick. ;-)

The snow was a factor, no doubt. But I don't think it effected Grant's ground game at all. I think he could run the Iditarod faster than a sled dog team!

At any rate - GO GIANTS!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Apple's quick (and easy) DRM stripping tool


Have some songs you bought on iTunes, but the DRM is a pain in the butt? Yeah, you could go and re-purchase a non-DRM'd version of the song, but why pay twice for something you already have?

Luckily, Apple provides you all the tools needed to easily rip the DRM from your songs.

1) fire up iMovie

2) import the song in question into your "movie"

3) export the movie

4) Extract the audio track (ie the song) from the new movie quicktime file and save to disk.

Done!

You think this will sell?



Seriously, someone thought this was a good ad campaign?

Check out more lame CES marketing here.

Tickets available

I was just at the Packers ticket office and they have club seats available for tomorrow's game. First come first serve so if you wanna go, hustle down to the stadium and grab 'em. Face value - beats dealing with a ticket broker! ;-)

Winter wonderland

After some warm weather and rain that washed all of our snow away, we had about an inch of big, wet, fluffy snow last night.

This morning we awoke to sunshine, not a breath of wind, mild temps and snow clinging everywhere.

My picture doesn't do nature justice, but you get the idea. ;-)

LUG meetup


I stopped in on the local Linux users group meetup last night. It was great to re-connect with some old friends who were there - some of whom I've not seen in about 10 years. Had some great conversations with some new friends and overall had a great time. Its always funny to walk into those meetings when they're held at a bar, etc. 'cause here are all these guys with their laptops (no, I didn't bring mine) chatting pretty intensely about technology mostly oblivious to the goings on around them.

Its fun to watch people walk up and ask what they're doing, and the responses are usually fairly entertaining and you get to meet even more people. I think the guys really like it when folks ask what Linux is and they get to quickly explain that there's an alternative to Windows that will run on their PC hardware. ;-)

Anyway, good group of guys, lots of ideas and I hope they keep meeting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Even Gates knows Vista sucks

Check out the video here. Giz hit up Bill at CES and asked the million dollar question. Gates just smiled and answered. After all he's outa there shortly, his legacy is cemented in stone and money isn't a problem. So yeah, Vista sucks. Like you didn't notice??

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Macworld Expo bound


I'm headed to SF for the MacWorld Expo next week. If you wanna hook up, check out the show, talk tech or just have a drink, drop me an email. The keynote should be entertaining as always and I'll do some postings from the show as to the things I think are cool and noteworthy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Low hanging fruit


In a previous post about the AppleTV, I predicted that we'd see movie rentals (ie movies on demand) from Apple. Seems at CES somebody screwed up and we see here that the Family Guy movie that's playing from a media file (not a DVD) is compatible only with iTunes 7.6. (if you are an iTunes user, your current version is 7.5)

I call this low hanging fruit because in the past few weeks there were a lot of things hinting at this coming at MacWorld.

Eh, so we got it a week early at CES. On accident. I sure hope Steve is kind to those that screwed up and took some thunder from his MacWorld Expo keynote. ;-)

Moore's law in action

In 1976, Cray unleashed the Cray-1 (pictured here) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Today at CES, ATI unleashed a graphics card that's claimed to be as fast as the Cray-1. (pictured below)




We're not talking a core CPU in your machine, we're talking a GRAPHICS CARD. I think all those GPU hackers out there are pretty happy with this announcement.

Stupid is as stupid does


I was looking around the net for news during lunch, and there was a video news alert for a tornado that ripped through a Wisconsin town. I hadn't heard about it, so I clicked on the link and up popped the Fox News video player. It played the pre-roll advert video just fine and then when it was time to play the video I had requested, BLAM! I got the missing plug-in notification.

What the hell?? The pre-roll video is flash, but then the actual video is WindowsMedia? And I DO have the WindowsMedia player on my Mac - use it several times a week.

Stupid. Just plain stupid.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bang for the buck


I buy a fair amount of video content on iTunes. However, I buy more TV shows than movies not only because the content is usually better, but in terms of bang for the buck ($/minute), TV shows are a better deal.

Of course I don't make my selections based on the cost involved, because no matter how cheap a crappy movie or TV show is, I'm not gonna watch it. Even if its free.

What does this say about TV shows? Why are they so good these days? It is a result of the increased competition for TV viewership that has forced the producers of these shows to step up their game? Funny how that during the same time frame, one could argue that in terms of quality content, movies have actually dropped in overall content value.

Pound per pound (in this case, minute per minute) TV shows are also a better deal on DVD as well. (I just looked quickly at Amazon). With TV still being broadcast, and movies headed towards being all on-demand, what about all that TV content that's out there? It would be great if Joost or someone put it all online. Forget about free for now, even at a pay per view or subscription model for a series or "channel", I think a lot of folks would go for it. And if you can download/watch your TV shows 24 hours after they air, why bother waiting the 24 hours in the first place? (and doesn't the same apply to movies as well?)

If a band can release an album and let the consumer listen to it and THEN decide how much to pay for it, why can't you do the same for movies? And not crappy indie movies, I'm talking REAL movies. (has someone done this?)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Creative marketing

After seeing this sign in the changing room, I looked around for the store credit card application or brochures that should have been right there! ;-)

Truth in numbers


While driving home from the office this afternoon (yes, working on a Sunday), there was a news report on the radio about Chicago's mayor changing the way they are handling foreclosure notifications because of the drastic increase in the foreclosure rate in the Chicago area. The news commentator cited a 35% increase in the foreclosure rate, but didn't give the actual numbers behind the percentage. (a quick google search finds that the numbers increased from 4,695 (2006) to 6,339 (2007) in the same period.)

News reporting like this is pure sensationalism which can only have one real reason behind it - to reduce the consumer confidence in the economy.

Does it bother me that some people made bad decisions on their financing vehicle for a house they couldn't afford, and then the banker approved that sketchy loan? Hell no. And then the secondary mortgage market bought these notes en-mass, and now they're left holding the strings as interest rates increase and the homeowner can't afford the payments. Who's to blame here? All the above parties. Does that mean the economy is in trouble? Nope. It means that stupid people did business with stupider people in turn who did business with morons. (and then on top of that the homeowner converts to an interest only loan and gets in worse trouble! Amazing. simply A-M-A-Z-I-N-G)

Me? I'm bullish on the economy, my business, my customer's business and international business. Economic fluctuations are opportunities for growth. The stock market reeled on the latest jobless numbers, but those numbers are still at historic lows. I took the pullback in some stocks like AAPL to pick up some more shares at 180 with a target price north of 220. ;-)

Also - the local commercial real estate market here in Green Bay really sucks. (we have too much space for the need) That said, I made a 42% return on my investment in 8 years, not including the annual revenue the building generated. Nothing to complain about there. I guess that excludes me from the idiots rolled up in all this foreclosure crap, eh? ;-)

Monitor porn


Yeah, I know over in Vegas at CES they're drooling over displays like Sharp's 108 inch LCD, but I'm pretty stoked over our new 52" LCD 1080i panel that we're using for customer demo's, etc. in the main conference room.

This darn thing has higher resolution than the 22" LCD on my desk (yeah, time for a new LCD now!) and with the wireless keyboard and (mighty) mouse, I can sit back anywhere in the room and enjoy OSX in bigger than life beauty.

The Mac Mini that's driving it doesn't quite like the highest resolution, but we'll resolve that quickly enough.

At under $2000, this is a lot of monitor for the price. Kinda makes me want to skip the Apple 30" and just hand one of these on the wall adjacent to my desk. ;-)

Random thought


Oh yeah, and in case you didn't notice, there's only two years left in this decade. (gasp!)

Didn't we just go through all that Y2K crap?? Sheeesh, time is flying. The passage of time is a constant, but it has a huge perception component to it. And when I'm super busy, all the clocks around me seem like they're running in triple time.

Absense


Sorry for the lack of posts folks - At the turn of the New Year we've been busy moving into our new offices. Actually, that's the easy part. Completely vacating the old building is the pain. Its amazing how much crap you can accumulate in 8 years. This was due in part mostly because we had tons of extra space, and when you have empty space, you want to fill it.

This is a lot like the adage that when you have time to waste, you waste time.

Its a really good feeling to be able to rid ourselves of all the excess stuff that we had laying around. Combined with moving into a new space plus a new year, everyone seems to have a little more spring in their step.

One thing we didn't move is our data center. We're gonna wait until the conclusion of the NFL season for obvious reasons. ;-)