technology

OLED TV's Will Make Your LCD's and Plasmas Look Like Poo

Well not really, not yet anyway. Sony recently announced that the first OLED (organic light emitting diode) TV will hit the market in December of 2007, but at ¥200,000 (~$1700 USD) for 11 inches it isn’t going to take the world by storm.

However this news brings OLED one step closer to become a practical alternative to LCD and Plasma TV’s. Why, you ask, would anyone consider an OLED TV? Here’s the list of ways that OLED can compete with LCD so far. OLED has:

  • brighter colors
  • sharper contrast
  • much thinner
  • weighs less
  • more energy efficient
  • faster video relay (no blur like LCD & Plasma)

But here is why you don’t want one today:

  • expensive
  • small viewing size (only 11″ diagonal)
  • limited life span (sort of, 30,000 hours which is roughly 10 years of viewing it 8 hours a day)

It seems at this point that OLED will be the standard, but it isn’t ready for the spot light just yet. Once they get cheaper, larger, and last longer they’ll be ready for prime time.

meanwhile there are lots of other potential applications of OLED in our futures. Take a look at what else it can do.

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mac, technology

Calibrate Your Mac Battery

Battery life not what it used to be on your MacBook? Does your MacBook Pro have you running for an outlet like bad actors in an Imodium AD commercial? While you might have a bad battery there is a good chance you just need to calibrate your battery. How you ask? Well, Apple makes the process clear enough:

The battery calibration for the PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD) and any model of MacBook or MacBook Pro has been updated because of a new battery released with this computer. With these computers, follow these steps to calibrate your battery:

1. Plug in the power adapter and fully charge your PowerBook’s battery until the light ring or LED on the power adapter plug changes to green and the onscreen meter in the menu bar indicates that the battery is fully charged.
2. Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for at least two hours. You may use your computer during this time as long as the adapter is plugged in.
3. Disconnect the power adapter with the computer still on and start running the computer off battery power. You may use your computer during this time. When your battery gets low, you will see the low battery warning dialog on the screen.
4. Continue to keep your computer on until it goes to sleep. Save all your work and close all applications when the battery gets very low, before the computer goes to sleep.
5. Turn off the computer or allow it to sleep for five hours or more.
6. Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged again.

Afterwards try using a program like Coconut Battery to see how healthy your battery is. Unfortunately if it is like mine (near 60% health after less than 200 cycles) you might need to bring your battery to the good folks at Apple.

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mac, music, technology

iPod Touch, Ten Million Apple Geeks Collectively Groan

After years of a rumored touchscreen iPod Apple finally unveiled the iPod Touch. Trouble is $400 dollars only gets you a tiny 16gb hard drive. Pay $300 and you’ll get a microscopic 8gb hard drive. The nerds are not happy.

The macrumors forums say it all

only 8gb and 16gb??? come on. I need more than that!!!

16gb?? Not big enough for me….I’ll be going with the 160gb ipod classic

For the first time in my Apple life I am actually angry with an announcement….

Not even going to consider this one until it gets at least 60GB of storage.

You have to wonder what Apple was thinking. Surely there must have been some sort of focus group that would’ve told them people didn’t want something that small. If the technology isn’t there or is the hardware cost is prohibitive a person could understand the rationale, however the thing isn’t going to sell very well considering it’s not any better than an iPhone and comes without cellular service. And some silly wifi music store isn’t gonna be pushing sales, so stop beating that drum Steve.

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boneheads, business, mac, technology

NBC Wants People to Stop Buying TV Shows

On the heels of iTunes getting rid of DRM in music NBC says they want more. NBC would also like to re-negotiate pricing and bundle shows. So far NBC has declined to renew its contract with Apple.

First issue: pricing. The pricing is fine. No one else really thinks it is too much or too little. Done.

Second issue: bundling. Users don’t want to be forced to buy a bundle and won’t like a change that removes a freedom of choice that they once had.

Third issue: DRM. Okay, more and more people are starting to agree that DRM is bad for consumers. Just look at Microsoft’s PlayForSure (which even the Zune doesn’t support) and Sony’s ATRAC (which has been dumped, leaving owners of those music file holding the bag). DRM limits how legitimate owners can use their purchased content and creates a situation in which it is likely that users will be locked out of different devices or just plain lock out of ever using the content again. The good thing is that many people just won’t purchase DRM burdened files. A user on one forum wrote a response to NBC’s demands:

Either I can buy a season of Scrubs and the Office when it starts again or I can find it in some other manner that will not benefit NBC at all.

Your call, NBC.

This exemplifies the main issue with DRM, that is that it agitates the problem it seeks to solve. By demanding an increased cost and adding DRM NBC simply pushes customers towards peer2peer sites and of course that will be far worse than unbundled slightly DRM’ed $1.99 TV episodes.

update: NBC and Apple are splitting ways. Apple has announced that they will not carry NBC shows because NBC wanted each episode to sell for $4.99 which is more than double what they cost now. We’ll see how NBC likes it when their own service fails and people turn to the peer2peer networks. It will be especially interesting to see how this effects the popularity of its shows, considering it was iTunes that saved the award winning show The Office from certain death.

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mac, technology

Waiting for iPhone Version 2.0

Do I want an iPhone? Of course, it is a neat toy… I mean tool. Seriously, it is cool and useful and sexy which doesn’t always happen all at once. Still it does use AT&T which sucks. In fact, that alone is a deal breaker for me even if people are able to play old Nintendo and arcade games on their iPhones and even if people are hacking them to add new useful features. Not to mention the folks who are dreaming up new apps for the iPhone.

The other thing that helps stave off my iPhone desires is remembering back to my first iPod, which was the first generation iPod. The iPod was a lesson to me, that lesson was that what is small, sexy, and useful today is tomorrow’s fat, clunky, imperfection. So if I do get an iPhone it will be a second generation iPhone (hopefully without crappy AT&T service… even if I have to unlock it myself).

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politics, technology

US Government's Slippery Slope Into Our Lives Doesn't Excuse China or the US Companies that Help China

There was an article on TechDirt yesterday that made an interesting connection and then bizarrely came up with a ridiculous conclusion.

The article pointed to a NY Times article about China’s high-tech surveillance campaign backed by technology from US companies, and connects that to two Boston Globe articles about the US efforts to track its citizens[1][2].

The TechDirt article gets all antsy about folks in congress not liking US companies helping China’s evil government when we are doing essentially the same thing here in the US, but instead of saying that it is time to check our own policies and stop US companies from doing inhuman things the author simple concludes that:

…unless we’re willing to look at the same issues in the US, it seems rather hypocritical to complain about US firms supplying the technology for China to do something quite similar to what we’re doing at home.

Clearly, we need to look at the same issues in the US, and I think in a small way we are. Do we need to do that more extensively? Of course. Does our government’s foray into totalitarianism mean that we should excuse the US companies supply technology that will be used to abuse human rights? No. Never.

When it comes to human rights no one country gets to set the standard, that standard is predetermined. The only question is how each country lives up to that standard. The US government has taken some steps back, and there is no excuse for that. The thing to realize is that nothing done in the US excuses the terrible things the Chinese government does and the US companies helping China can not be given a free pass.

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politics, technology

Number One Reason for Net Neutrality

A while back I emailed my representatives and told them what I think of net neutrality. I got back some silly response kindly saying that I was wrong and that net neutrality was bad for business and hurts innovation etc etc. Now it is pretty easy to argue that those things are false. There really aren’t any quality arguments against net neutrality. That said, there are some pretty silly arguments for net neutrality too.

And yet, one ridiculous sounding pro net neutrality argument got a full turn around just recently. It’s the argument is that corporations could censor the web. Why isn’t it silly anymore? It appears that AT&T has done just that, just this week it was reported that AT&T censored anit-Bush lyrics during a webcast of a Pearl Jam concert.

We live in a world where corporations control just about everything, but the internet is the one place that still has some semblance of freedom. If large corporations are allowed to have their way they’ll destroy the internet as we know it. Period.

So, I’ve written back to my representatives, told them that I don’t buy their arguments and that I expect them to do their duty and protect the public interest. We’ll see how it goes.

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code, technology, wordpress

Update to Picased the WordPress Picasa Widget

Picasaed has been updated to version 0.4

picasa web iconPicasaed works pretty much the same as the Flickr Widget, but doesn’t use tables, because no one likes tables. It is all sorts of XHTML friendly, if that’s what gets your motor running. It doesn’t do anything fancy, it just displays X number of photos from a specific album. If it doesn’t work tell me and I’ll try to fix it.

Version 0.4

  • Picasaed now uses the thumbnail image (faster loading!)
  • photo titles are used when present
  • photos now link to album
  • images have proper alt tag now
  • optimized code

Download PicasaedMore Info

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technology

Google's Emotionless Blogspot Robots Kill Google's Blog

A friend of mine recently told me about some troubles he had when Blogspot’s spam detection system decided that his blog was a sblog (spam blog). The process of verifying that he was a person and not a spam robot was a little annoying, but the real problem is that he could have lost everything he’d done on the blog if he hadn’t acted in time.

Everyone who knows my friend thinks it is pretty obvious that he isn’t a computer program designed to create spam, and to folks that read his blog it is also pretty obvious that he isn’t spamming the web. But even then, when I heard about Blogspot making that mistake I thought it was a weird random crappy occurrence.

As it turns out that might not be the case. It seems the system Blogspot is using to find sblogs might need some fine tunning. Why? Well, Google’s own blogspot blog was temporarily erased and their account was deactivated. During that time someone else grabbed the blog url and started playing with it. Google fixed their mistake pretty quickly, but if that happened to someone else I doubt the process would have been so quick and painless.

This should serve as a reminder of the risks in allowing someone else to control your content (whether it is a blog or a DVD you bought). It is a fragile relationship. What makes things worse is that folks can’t easily backup a blogspot blog, though they do offer a complicated ten step procedure to save your blog. Why make what should be a one click process a ten step process, most likely to make it difficult for people to take their blog somewhere else. Blogspot benefits from hosting content.

WordPress.com allows folks a way to export their blog as XML in one click, which is great. Even then you don’t get the same control as hosting your own blog, but you do get much more safety than blogspot. Many folks learn the hard way that you should backup your computer files often unless you don’t mind losing all your stuff, the same goes for blogs. And if your blog host doesn’t let you do that then you should look elsewhere.

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flight, random, technology, travel

Anyone Know How Orbitz Decides on Airplane Ticket Prices

I just bought a plane ticket from Boston to Atlanta from Orbitz. During my searching I noticed one very strange thing— the prices were different in different browsers. Using Safari (browser on left in image below) I wasn’t given the same price for what appears to be the same ticket found in Firefox (browser on right in image below). Not only were the prices different, but I wasn’t even given the same options of airlines and configurations.

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