I will smack you like a bad bad donkey, ok?

Archive for December, 2006

Oooo, Purty

Posted by pete on 30th December 2006

Panorama, originally uploaded by sigsegv.

I finally got around to processing and uploading my pics from the New York City photography workshop I went to on the 17th. The full set is here.

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He Write Good

Posted by pete on 30th December 2006

Walter Mossberg, at the Wall Street Journal wrote a good article on Lisa’s and my current dilemma. No, not the bug thing — we’re still waiting for a string of three or more sub-50 degree days. We hate our current DVR: the very terrible Scientific Atlanta 8300HD from Cox. (If I were Atlanta, I’d be insulted.) The Series 3 TiVo looks yummy, but it’s very expensive: around $700 + $13/mo subscription. Do we get a great DVR at a high price or do we settle for the rubbish we have at a much friendlier price?

Of course, we could just wait for the Cox – TiVo partnership to bear fruit. I think this is our current plan of action, but I’m not sure how long we can hold out. When the partnership was initially announced, it was slated for launch in the first half of 2007. That translates into “June 30th, 2007, around 11PM EDT.” Now, when talking with people from Cox, I’m hearing that they’ve been told, “sometime in 2007″ and we all know that that translates into, “At the New Year’s Eve party, 2007.”

Can we put up with another year of Cox DVR-based agita or will we spend too much and get the S3? If I were betting, I’d bet the latter, but we’d really like to see if we can make it to the roll-out and then make a choice.

On the plus side, I find myself watching much less TV. On the downside, it’s tough to explain to our daughter that half of the episodes of one of her current favorite shows was deleted by the DVR, because it thought it was time. (With apologies to “The Simpsons”: “I am the angel of arbitrary. The time of deletion is at hand.”)

(As a side note, this post finds me back in Ecto. I’m surprised with how much I missed it when posting from Wordpress‘ built-in entry tool.)

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Posted by pete on 30th December 2006

I was talking — well, IMing — with Dave today (well, yesterday now) about his series 3 TiVo. He still loves it. He still wants to keep it around, and he still is not interested in Lis and me taking it off his hands for some ridiculous price. Hey, if he doesn’t want that $100 cash money…. we’ll take it elsewhere!

We were also talking about the crappiness of non-TiVo DVRs. I just can’t understand why, after having a few years now, the other companies still can’t make a decent DVR. Lis and I had a guy from Cox over yesterday. Our DVR (a Scientific Atlanta 8300 HD Explorer and, no, I’m not giving them any link loving) has been losing shows and, no, I’m not talking about the sixth show in a series we only told the DVR to keep five of. I’m talking about shows that Gracie really likes and likes to re-watch from time to time. Shows that we marked as “Save until I delete.” This guy from Cox tells us that the problem is the “Auto-delete” feature. This is the feature that will, in an attempt to save space on the DVR, delete that aforementioned sixth show or that show you had recorded two weeks ago and told the DVR to keep for a week. Apparently, according to Cox Guy, it will also delete those “Save until I delete” show that have been around, “long enough.”

(Fun side note: this is the same guy who came by here a couple months ago when the DVR started emitting a loud, annoying sound out the optical output. How did he “solve” the problem? He unplugged the optical out and plugged in the composite out. Did he also connect this to the same receiver that the optical cable was connect to? Nooooo. He connected these cables — the crappiest of all the output options — directly to the TV speaker, bypassing the multi-thousand dollar home theater system right there in front of him. Crappiest of audio out, meet the crappies speaker we have. Did he even address the real problem? Noooo. How was the problem solved? I spent some more time on the phone with Cox tech support and learned the magic power of the power cycle.)

Whaa!!?! What the hell? What part of “Save until I delete” don’t they understand?!?!

Don’t these companies who sell “competing” DVRs do any competitive research? Or if they do, have they actually studied a TiVo, not just the other crappy DVRs? I find it hard to believe the people behind these other DVRs are idiots. There has to be some other explanation. I could kind of understand when the first generation of non-TiVo DVRs came out that they’d be a bit, shall we say, underwhelming. But now? Now, I’m starting to believe it’s less ignorance and more malice. For whatever reason, our cable companies, our satellite companies, and our TV-over-Fiber companies hate us. They hate us so much that they’re running an experiment on the pain tolerance of customers. That’s gotta be it.

This post brought to you by Ctrl-B and the letter “.

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Bill Nye’s on the Roof…

Posted by pete on 25th December 2006

Comics Bill Nye …and he’s hungry!

(Don’t worry. I think only Lis will get that. :)

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Dive into Geeky Parent

Posted by pete on 23rd December 2006

It’s stuff like this that you get when you cross parenthood with geeks…

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Movin’ On

Posted by pete on 21st December 2006

I’ve been growing slowly frustrated with Bloglines and its limitations, especially with respect to its speed, spotty handling of entry graphics, lost saved entries, and only storing 200 entries per feed. Once the magic 200 entries have been received, all the other new ones are dropped. At least give me the option to keep the 200 most recent entries; use a first-in first-out queue. I’ve also seen my share of entries pointing to a blank space where a picture should be.

Over the past few months, I’ve read about people liking Google Reader, but every time I’ve tried it, it’s been an unsatisfying experience. The latest updates along with my mounting frustration with Bloglines, though, have gotten me to mostly switch. There are a few entries in Bloglines that I’ve got saved to read, but beyond those, I’m doing all of my feed reading at Google Reader now.

Now, if only they’d add a feature that would sort your feeds in ascending chronological order instead of the default descending chronological order, I think I’d be completely (vs. mostly) happy with Google Reader.

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Posted in Geekery | 4 Comments »

At Least He Didn’t Have a Bottle of Water With Him

Posted by pete on 20th December 2006

I read about this on Bruce Schneir’s blog. Unbelievable.

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The Situation Room

Posted by pete on 20th December 2006

Here’s the situation. It’s an hour before your 5:30AM alarm when you wake with your bladder going, “Hello! Remember me?!?” It’s cold out, but nice and warm under the covers. The floors creak, making lots of noise between the bedroom and the bathroom.

Do you A) lie in bed, trying to convince yourself that you can fall back asleep, despite the pressure or do you B) get up, shocking your system a bit with the cold, make a quite a bit of noise, possibly waking the other members of your family, relieve the pressure, then try to get back to sleep for those precious few minutes left in your night?

Myself? I chose B. I’ve tried A so many time that I’ve learned that I can never convince my bladder to shut up and that it’s not that too bad. It just keeps whining and whining until I finally get up and go after wasting half the time I have left to sleep.

What I really should do is just get up, turn off the alarm, and start my day an hour earlier than planned, but those last, dear minutes are too enticing to ignore and just toss away.

Let’s see Wolf Blitzer discuss that.

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Go Shmoo!

Posted by pete on 5th December 2006

ShmooCon ‘07 registration opened this past weekend. Thanks to my slow RSS feed aggregator, I didn’t hear about it until today. I went to last year’s conference and had a blast. There were so many interesting things covered by so many good speakers, I don’t know where to begin. I think the thing I liked most about it was that it helped reconnect me with my curiosity. I didn’t feel like I had to justify to myself why I was doing something. “I’m curious, so I do it.” It was a breath of fresh — well, geeky-smelly — air.

The best part: all three days of this inspiration cost only $75. They’re doing some weird ticket pricing / sales thing this year where you can spend $75, $150, or $300 on a ticket that seems to get you essentially the same thing (the $300 tickets get you a t-shirt). The idea is that, if you think the conference is worth more, you can pay more. This is all not-for-profit and run completely by volunteers. Personally, I just got back from a 2+ week vacation and a surprise 2-night stay in D.C., we’re approaching Christmas (and Christmas bills), and have a whole new bed to buy soon, so, despite my enthusiasm, I took pity on my wallet and bought a $75 ticket. The show’s Friday, March 23rd through Sunday, the 25th and I’ll be there. I’ve already put in for PTO that Friday.

There’s an interesting network setup (ShmooCon Labs) the day and a half before that that they want people to apply for. I think it’d be fun, educational, and that I could help, but I’m not sure I could (or care to try to) convince them of that.

Bring out the geek!

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Posted in Geekery | 1 Comment »

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