D.T.P. by Lee -- Daily Tales and Punditry

Monday, July 28, 2003

PVRs Rock!—UPDATED AGAIN

After some short research (trust me, not much was necessary) on other PVR devices like the TiVo and ReplayTV, this afternoon I stopped by my Brighthouse cable TV office and swapped my digital cable box for the new one that does digital recording. Since I’m a Bright House customer, I didn’t have to buy a multi-hundred-dollar piece of hardware and, at just $6/month, the monthly charge is considerably less expensive than the other services.

I love it! I thought the feature was just recently introduced, but it’s apparently been available for some months. Its dual tuner allows recording of two shows simultaneously. A caveat is that I can’t record two things and watch a third without recording, but at least I can watch something I previously recorded while still recording two other programs. And I can even start watching something I’m recording before it’s finished!

Almost as if it were a bonus, the newer cable box has been improved from the prior one. I couldn’t guess whether it’s hardware- or software-related, but the on-screen navigation is much snappier. Plus, when I scan far enough ahead in future programs that it has to take a moment to load the data, not only is that data available sooner, but it no longer blacks out the reduced-size picture and sound of what’s currently on air during that time.

I’ve looked at other PVRs longingly but the cost just kept turning me off.

I’m truly going to enjoy this one!

UPDATE 1: Cool! When a digital recording is paused, you can advance it frame by frame by pressing the forward skip button.

UPDATE 2: More coolness. While looking up more information about the actual box (it’s made by Scientific Atlanta), I found this FAQ item about dumping a digital recording to a VCR:

The best solution is coming soon via a future software release. The option to copy a DVR recording to VCR tape will be added to the Recorded Program Options screen, the Playback Status screen, and the Playback Ended screen. The second set of composite outputs labeled VCR OUT 2 on the Explorer 8000 back panel will be activated for this feature. You will then be able to copy a DVR recording to a VCR at any time without affecting what the two tuners are doing. In other words, if both tuners are recording or time-shifting a program, you will be able to copy a recording to VCR at the same time. You’ll also be able to copy a recording to VCR while playing back another DVR recording. This software release is due out later in the year.

Continuing down the same FAQ list, I also discovered something Bright House didn’t tell me (not that I really expected them to), nor is it found in the “barely a manual” manual. I can program the remote to turn on several of my AV devices with just one button. Yes, unlike the prior digital cable boxes that Time Warner advised is best to just leave turned on, these PVR boxes are best turned off when not in use. I suspect this has something to do with not wearing out stuff to record live TV for time shifting while you’re away. The developers were even intelligent enough to allow the user a choice of which devices are turned on. For example, I programmed mine to only power on/off the cable box, the television, and my DVD/audio amplifier component. I don’t imagine I’ll be using my VCR very often any more, so I left it on an individual on/off setting.

Since this isn’t in the manual, and I may or may not be able to find the info online someday down the road if I ever have to change it again, I’m reprinting it here—not because I think you (the reader) cares, but for my own archival purposes.

On the remote, press 9 9 8. The CBL key blinks twice. Then, press a digit for the power button to affect the corresponding devices:
  1. Cable box and TV.
  2. Cable box, TV, and VCR.
  3. Cable box, TV, VCR, and auxiliary device.
  4. Cable box, TV, and auxiliary device.
  5. Restore independent power control.

Still more neat functionality I just discovered while typing this entry (which is in the remote’s manual) is the ability to set the default device the volume and mute buttons control when the remote is targeting the cable box. It’s defaulted to the TV, but my TV is only used as a monitor—not for sound. I have a Sony mini home theater device that integrates my DVD player and is also the audio amplifier and surround sound decoder. So, I’m quite happy that I no longer have to hit the AUX button to change the volume.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Sean -- September 30, 2003 11:34 PM

It only adds 6 dollars to your Brighthouse bill if you're an existing customer? If so, I'm on my way there tomorrow.

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Geekdom

At least he’s using the right hardware.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Cue Huey Lewis

“All I want is a couple days off!”

And, thankfully, I’m getting ’em. A much needed break is headed my way Monday and Tuesday. Note that I’m not calling it a long weekend because I do have to be at a workshop my department is putting on this Sunday. It’ll be about four hours plus some setup and tear-down time.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Sincere Flattery In the Form of Imitation Is Well and Good, but This Is Ridiculous

I’m so glad to see a lot of people pooh-poohing BuyMusic.com. It’s far too obvious that it’s an iTunes Music Store rip off and, like the all-in-one Gateway computers that took on the LCD iMac, the copycats got the concept right but totally missed the boat in spirit and implementation.

Jon has a great list of (counter)points. Included in his punditry are things like errors in the site’s HTML coding, the 79-cent price tag apparently is only the cost of tracks by lesser-known artists, cover art images are 404ing, nebulous DRM, the television ads that are completely begging for a suit from Apple Computer, Inc., and the really scary choice of Windows Media Player format instead of a codec written by a less monopolistic company.

Spymac has pointed to a few sites that are also badmouthing BuyMusic.com. “Ten Reasons Why BuyMusic.com Sucks, [TheMacMind], The Good, the Bad, the Stupid of BuyMusic.com, [LowEndMac], and Latest Music Download Developments, [Applelinks].”

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Monday, July 21, 2003

Animusic

Whoah!! I just received the last-to-ship portion of my parents’ birthday present to me. Animusic absolutely ROCKS!

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Fodder For Whether to Patronize Orbitz.com

Good lord—did you see this one?

I mean, before I get targeted for flaming, let me firmly state that I do not, in any way, hate homosexual people—only the lifestyle.

And while I’m soapboxing my opinion about homosexuality, I’ll ask the question, how do gay/lesbian individuals rationalize that homosexuality is a natural/normal thing? I’ll eat my words if I’m mistaken but, as far as I’m aware, humans are the only animals that engage in same sex relationships. Aren’t all other creatures in the animal kingdom heterosexual?

Comments: 3 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Michael -- July 21, 2003 08:16 PM

"Let me firmly state that I do not, in any way, hate homosexual people--only the lifestyle."

I'm having trouble seeing that distinction...but as to animals I think the evidence is pretty clear, though not much talked about.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/031225377X/aboutthisparticu

Posted by Lee Bennett -- July 21, 2003 11:01 PM

Well, poop.

Waiter, one humble pie, please. That's right--not one slice. I'll be eating the whole pie. Yes, by myself.

Posted by Raena Armitage -- July 24, 2003 06:23 AM

Looking at the title:

Where does 'whether' come from? Specifically, what problem would there be for you personally to patronise orbitz.com if they offer gay-targeted travel?

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Saturday, July 19, 2003

Pssssssssssssssssss

&^¢%!*@ flat tire!

Grumble grumble fume fume.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Competitive Upgrade for Final Cut

Everyone would’ve told you it should happen. Apple is wisely offering an extremely attractive Final Cut competitive upgrade to Adobe Premiere refugees. You can either give Apple your Premiere install CD for a free copy of Final Cut Express or send them the Premiere CD plus a UPC/bar code from an original Final Cut Pro box to get a $500 check sent to you.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Do “Apple Firsts” Not Count?

Okay, I’m very confused. PC Magazine said:

“Manufacturers are trying to push ever-larger LCD monitors into the mainstream, and it looks as if 21 inches is the next frontier. Samsung is preparing to roll out the Samsung SyncMaster 213T, which will deliver a 21.3-inch viewing area, 1,600-by-1,200 native resolution, dual analog and digital inputs, an ultranarrow bezel design, and pivot technology for both portrait and landscape viewing.”

Maybe the “push…into the mainstream” is the key phrase here. Admittedly, large LCDs aren’t mainstream, but this blurb sort of reads as if Samsung is leading out in the production of this size flat panel. Exqueeze me, but Apple’s been hawking its most excellent 23" Cinema Display for a while, and there are large LCD displays offered by other companies, too, such as BenQ and ViewSonic.

The blurb, above, feels a bit misleading.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Bathroom Quotes

I just got a comment to my entry about Phillip Morris by Thomas Noe. (“I used to be called Thomas Wolf. Before that I was known as Thomas Mikkelsen.”) In ensuing e-mails about the topic, he complimented my blog—a new find for him. Naturally, I was prompted to check out his blog, Noetech, and I came across this gem:

“I’m not a fan of sayings on bathroom walls but this one I like.”

“No matter how hot s/he is, someone, somewhere is sick of her/his shit.”
Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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As If Admitting It Makes It All Better?

Pptttt! Hey Phillip Morris corporate buttmunches—we’ll believe you when you put your money where your mouth is. Close down your tobacco production sites for good and perhaps we can take your admissions seriously.

“We agree with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers. Smokers are far more likely to develop serious diseases, like lung cancer, than non-smokers. There is no ‘safe’ cigarette.

“We agree with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive. It can be very difficult to quit smoking, but this should not deter smokers who want to quit from trying to do so.” [Phillip Morris]

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Thomas Noe -- July 15, 2003 09:19 PM

Just curious if you want alcohol companies to shutdown as well?

Or any other company that makes something bad for your health.

Tobacco companies have been scummy, no doubt, but they are not alone in making products that can kill. People know what they're getting into (now).

Posted by Jon Gales -- July 15, 2003 10:39 PM

It's as American as you can get. As long as they aren't lying about it and saying it's good for you, there is no problem.

Red meat and fat is bad for you too.

I think it's horrible that the gov't is making them run ads against their own business. That is NOT American. Do the beef people run ads for Tofu? Oreos for salad? Nuclear energy for hydrogen? Nah. We all know smoking is bad. Enough with the ads.

</libertarian>

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Monday, July 14, 2003

Commodore Redux

Cool. The venerable Commodore computers are coming back!

“Tulip Computers NV, which owns the Commodore brand name, plans to relaunch the brand to take advantage in an upsurge of interest in the obsolete Commodore 64 (C64) computer and its 1980s-era games, the company said in a statement Friday. Tulip estimates that there are still 6 million Commodore users who can choose from a range of 6,000 games that were developed for the system.” [MacCentral]

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Decisions, Decisions

So just as I’m starting to think I should just jump ship and start using QuarkXPress now that it’s OS X-native, a colleague stands in my office today singing InDesign’s praises. The biggest clincher—native support for layered Photoshop files! I’d die to have this capability. Thus, I guess I’m back to holding out for InDesign 3.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Saturday, July 12, 2003

Size Matters

Yikes—I didn’t realize the G5s were that much larger than the G4s.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Andy McConnell -- July 14, 2003 07:34 PM

D---. It won't fit in the hutch above my desk--unless I put it on the top shelf...

From http://www.apple.com/powermac/specs.html

Size and weight

* Height: 20.1 inches (51.1 cm)
* Width: 8.1 inches (20.6 cm)
* Depth: 18.7 inches (47.5 cm)
* Weight: 39.2 pounds (17.8 kg)

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Friday, July 11, 2003

33

All comments beleaguering me about turning another year older today will be summarily ignored.

However, exemptions will be granted to the owners of those comments that are accompanied by something fun to play with. This, of course, means the exemptions are limited to those who have a means of delivering a physical object to me!

Comments: 3 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by chris -- July 11, 2003 02:58 PM

:P

Happy Birthday, bro. I'll join you in the 33 line in 4 months, 22 days...

Posted by Michael -- July 11, 2003 07:39 PM

Happy birthday, Lee.

Posted by Jon Gales -- July 11, 2003 07:59 PM

Hey look at the bright side... You're not twice my age. Enjoy all the wisdom age brings :).

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003

The Blog Man

There are just some things that every blogger needs to have seen at one point or another.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Good Idea, Bad Price

A PocketDock looks to be the perfect solution for the proprietary FireWire connector on the bottom of the latest iPods. But wait a tic. $16.95?? Sure, this thing enables you to use all your old accessories with 6-pin connectors, but I’m thinking about what is possibly a large number of people who’d simply like to use the standard 6-pin to 6-pin cables they already have. Why pay 17 bucks for an adapter when Apple’s own cable with the proper connector is just three bucks more—and you won’t have potential issues with making proper contact. Everyone knows that even though adapters are important, the fewer you use, the better (and, think about it, a cable itself technically is an adapter).

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

My Adobe Admiration Is Fading, Along With Premiere for Mac

Good gravy train; could it actually be that I’m starting to lose my respect for Adobe? Granted, Photoshop is a killer application and will remain to be so for a long time. I’ve gotten glimpses of Photoshop 8 which is going to be a boon for video editors. (I was going to include links to various sites’ screen shots, but Adobe’s legal department has been busy demanding removal.) Regardless, let’s recap a little of Adobe’s most recent history.

Pagemaker was repositioned as a business tool instead of a professional page layout tool. No, they didn’t strip features—they just “said so.” I imagine Pagemaker users, like myself, who thought they had embraced a professional product, started feeling pretty insulted to be using a tool that was suddenly reclassified as just a business product.

Thus, to use Adobe’s “professional” tool, you now have to use InDesign. But “Indy” has, so far, failed to attract the straggling QuarkXPress users. These users were so great in number that Apple Computer was actually feeling some pressure to rescind/delay its decision last year that all new Mac models released starting January this year would not be able to boot up in OS 9.

Indeed, I’ve been holding out for version 3 of “Indy,” which has yet to receive much press coverage. However, after having had to actually work a few pages in QuarkXPress 4 a couple months ago, and with version 6 now available and finally OS X-native, I’m terribly tempted to switch over.

Additionally, there is a lot of mixed opinion whether Illustrator or FreeHand is the better illustration tool. Admittedly, I’m biased to FreeHand because I learned it in school, so it’s the one I prefer. “Illy” always frustrates me every time I have to do something with it and I’m glad to see there’s a sufficiently large camp who, like me, prefer FreeHand.

Then, there’s Premiere. The latest news about Adobe’s video editing package is what prompted this blog entry in the first place. This week’s issue of TidBITS reported that Adobe’s latest version of the 12-year-old application, Premiere Pro, will be shipping in August, but that it will not be available for Macintosh!

After having just barely cut my teeth on higher end video editing two years ago on Premiere for Windows (I didn’t have the Mac version at that time) and even more so last year (both Windows and Mac), I had made the decision to use Final Cut Pro 3 for this year’s round of video vignettes thanks to some heavy-duty (and appreciated) coaxing by my friend, Andy. If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you already know how glad I am to be using Final Cut instead of Premiere and that I’ll never go back.

Well, with the Mac version of Premiere apparently being officially killed off, my response is, “good riddance.”

The TidBITS blurb says, “Presumably, Adobe has decided it’s no longer worth their time and effort to compete with Apple’s extensive line of digital video applications (primarily the recently revamped Final Cut Pro [4], but also Final Cut Express, iMovie, iDVD, and iDVD Studio Pro) on a platform also controlled by Apple.”

By the way, I didn’t make the typo, above. TidBITS either goofed or they chose not to correct (nor point out) Adobe’s error in referring to DVD Studio Pro as iDVD Studio Pro.

But that quote isn’t the kicker. TidBITS’ final sentence is what had me laughing my ass off. “Current Premiere users may wish to migrate to the Windows platform, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple were to offer a competitive upgrade to Final Cut Pro.”

:-D

The reason I’m laughing is not so much that TidBITS and/or Adobe would tout platform migration as a solution, but because it is not possible (unless the capability was added to Premiere Pro) to convert Premiere projects from one platform to another—at least not easily. Trust me, before I started using Final Cut Pro and was still using Premiere 6 on my Mac while a coworker had the same version on his XP machine, we attempted some sample project conversions—both directions. No dice.

So let’s recap my recap. Pagemaker, while not abandoned, has been all but shelved and an OS X-native version will never appear, InDesign has failed to draw much attention from the prepress industry, Illustrator continues to battle FreeHand for supremacy, and Premiere for Mac is kaput. Oh, and lest I forget, we all know how much pooh-poohing there’s been about Acrobat 6.

The only thing left to say is, God help us if Adobe ever decided Mac users aren’t worthy of Photoshop!

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Sunday, July 06, 2003

“Check As You Type” Is Finally Defaulted to On in Safari

It’s about time! In spite of having used the v1.0 final release of Safari since the day it was released, I just realized that the feature to check spelling as you type (words not recognized appear with red dotted underlining) is now enabled by default. All the beta versions defaulted to off and it was getting pretty annoying to have to go turn it on all the time.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Thursday, July 03, 2003

The Name Game

Me mind’s made up. I’m going to start migrating to a new domain. I just have to decide what domain to buy.

The biggest rationale is, you can’t imagine how tough it is to give out my e-mail address verbally—especially over the phone. “What was that again? C.V.G. by Wee?” Far too many letters in the English alphabet sound like each other!

So I’m open to ideas. If you have one, I’d prefer if you could mail me directly rather than commenting here. I do have some criteria:

  1. It must be irrevocably NOT complicated to tell someone verbally—not just in letters sounding like others, but words as well, i.e. whole and hole. Similarly sounding words criteria might be waived if the context makes it obvious which spelling is correct.
  2. The .com version must be available. I know, I should get over myself, but I don’t care. I simply don’t want a .net or .org or whatever.
  3. It can’t be a zillion characters long. I do have to fit this thing on business cards, after all. (What is the length limit, anyway? I’ve seen some pretty long ones before, such as a great site I sometimes browse: www.toostupidtobepresident.com)
  4. I’ve been trying to think of something that ties to my family, but coming up dry. “Are we there yet?” is an old joke with us, but it probably is with a lot of people. Regardless, arewethereyet.com is taken. So, what I’m pretty much leaning on is some sort of two-word combination—especially if the words make an oxymoron. For example, wholepiece.com is actually available, but I’m not sure I want that one. For some reason, wettowel.com caught my interest, but it’s taken. There were some others, but I’ve forgotten them at the moment.

So, when the day comes that I settle on something, the blog known as dtpbylee.com will be set aside and a newly named blog will take over. Same concept, just a different name.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Wednesday, July 02, 2003

ATPM 9.07

The July 2003 issue of About This Particular Macintosh has been published. Two items from this issue really struck me. Matt Coates’ Machine Language column makes some splendid observations about the iTunes Music Store. He notes that “the brilliance of Apple’s plan is that it wasn’t especially brilliant. It was just common sense uncommonly well-executed.” Also, this month’s Cortland is a brilliant Matrix spoof, pitting cheap PCs against productive Macs. And stay tuned—next month should bring several desktop wallpaper images inspired by this month’s cartoon.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I Think a Wired News Writer Screwed Up

Jeez, Elisa Batista, let’s say you go take some basic Journalism 101 courses before writing another article. Pay attention to the section about checking your facts!

Elisa reported in Wired News that American Airlines claims to be the first airline to permit passengers to use cell phones while the plane is on the ground and the door is open. What kind of crap statement is this? I’ve flown a couple of airlines (American included) over the past year—all of which have indicated that cell phones could be used until the door is shut. This has probably been in effect longer than a year, but I can only say about a year for certain.

Probably some underpaid intern we’re dealing with here, you think?

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon Gales -- July 2, 2003 12:17 PM

Maybe they are the first ones to make it official policy?

Posted by Andy -- July 2, 2003 01:38 PM

The rest of the sentence is the key part: that passengers will be allowed to use their cell phones after landing BEFORE they have arrived at the gate and the door has been opened.
So now, if you fly AA, you can phone your ride while the plane is taxiing, and not worry about the stewardess interrupting you (and 20 other cell phone users who couldn't wait to check their voice mail--even before it was "allowed" by policy) with a chastisement on the PA system.

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© 2003-2004
A. Lee Bennett, Jr.
http://www.dtpbylee.com/blog/