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

Sunday, January 11, 2004


“Confidential to T-Mobile: NASA is downloading 36 MB TIFFs from Mars and I only get 2 bars of signal on my cell phone inside my house. Please look into upgrading.” [~stevenf]

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Monday, January 05, 2004

It’s Official—Pagemaker to be Discontinued

We all knew it was coming and, according to MacCentral, it will happen today.

Thankfully, Adobe is being smart and is offering a plug-in pack for Adobe InDesign to lessen the feeling that Pagemaker users will have their productive workflow disrupted. Granted, the pack is $49 and is available only by download, but it includes plug-ins for booklets, bullets and numbering, positioning, data merging, file conversion, keyboard shortcuts, a Windows-style toolbar, and a template browser with professional templates. From what I can tell, it seems as though the pack will be included with future copies of Adobe’s Creative Suite. The part I don’t understand is that the pack also includes a training DVD. Obviously a DVD has to be mailed to you, so why not just include a cheap CD with all the plug-ins to have as an archive?

(Thanks, Jon)

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Sunday, August 03, 2003

Laziness to the Nth Degree

“Wired has the scoop on a prototype fridge from a Swedish company that includes the ability for cell phone users to request an image of its contents via MMS. No matter how lazy you think we are, don’t expect this to make it to market soon.” [MobileTracker]

Even if this doesn’t reach the market at all, just the notion that someone thought of it proves humans are getting way too lazy.

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Monday, July 28, 2003


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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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

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.

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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]

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Capture Images—With An LCD Panel?

You’re in a meeting, and someone hands you a business card. You place it face down on your PDA screen and press a button, and an image of the card is instantly captured and stored. [eWEEK]

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Sunday, May 11, 2003

AAC Quality

If you’ve been looking for something comparing AAC to MP3 and uncompressed audio that is a little more substantial than some faceless authority who “says so,” try this Other World Computing page. It contains illustrations of waveforms showing a section of the same song in all three formats.

“The AAC format sounds quite good, certainly better than the 128 kbps MP3 format and yields small file sizes that are very comparable. We noted that the AAC format sounded very much like the MP3 at 320 kbps, but the AAC file was substantially smaller. We also felt that the difference in sound quality was more pronounced on the orchestral track due to its wide dynamic range. We felt that the individual instruments such as trumpet and cymbals sounded more natural in the AAC format as opposed to the MP3 128 version. We were excited to see that the AAC audio format being touted by Apple did indeed sound like music to our ears while retaining very small file sizes.”

The person who performed this test is four-time Emmy-nominated composer/producer/performer Roger Adler.

Thanks, Andy.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Queue -- May 13, 2003 08:12 AM

I'm going to play devil's advocate. First question: How much did Mr. Adler get paid to do this "test"? Independant studies hold much more weight than paid studies. This question gets at the root of the problem such as why we hear conflicting reports on whether DVD-R or +R is better.

Second question: (And yes, I'm aware I could look this up.) In theory, what are the comparisons of dynamic range and bandwidth? Most people I know can't tell the difference between a 128 kbps MP3 and a CD. Therefore, if we're gonna talk about which is better, we should be comparing specs, not just what a handful of people _think_ sounds better.

Third question: Even if it's a better format, how soon will Windows Media Player, WinAmp, and other Windows based players support it? Beta-Max was better too, but that doesn't help me if I can't buy a device to play it.

I'm not against the format, but these are valid questions.

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Friday, April 18, 2003

Demystifying MP3 versus AAC

I’m posting this mostly for my own reference. Perhaps you can benefit, too. MacRumors posted an article that nicely compares MP3 against AAC.

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Saturday, March 22, 2003

The Road to UT

Now that communicator-esque cell phones are firmly integrated into our lives (Nextel’s DirectConnect feature is about the closest similarity) and there is rather serious discussion on whether matter-energy transportation is possible (the IT manager at my office recently told me that scientists actually have transported inanimate matter, but couldn’t tell me if the matter was moved or duplicated), I’m now reading about yet another piece of Star Trek technology that’s being developed—today! Wired News recently carried an article about a vocal translation device being tested at the Office of Naval Research.

Undoubtedly, current events are probably forcing developers to focus on Arabic translation, but the universal translator-type functionality is sure to follow.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Queue -- March 22, 2003 04:45 PM

No doubt the translator will start out similiar to the one you see on the new show, Enterprise. Ineffective at time, takes a while to translate, etc.

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Thursday, March 20, 2003

Live From The Front Lines—UPDATED

I find it extremely amazing to be sitting here watching CNN and looking at live video of the 3rd Squadron of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment blasting through the southern Iraqi desert. It doesn’t seem like it’s been very long that satellite telephones have become somewhat affordable to use under particular circumstances. To now see live video pictures shot by someone bouncing around heavily in a support vehicle and fed through a video phone not tied to a land line, but streamed through a satellite line—I’m just really impressed.

Update—11:25pm: As much as I am intrigued by these pictures, I am equally as miffed at yet another example of journalistic stupidity. Both CNN and MSNBC are currently showing this live video. Admittedly, the pictures are from different cameras, but both networks have been displaying “exclusive” badges on the screen. HELLO!?

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Susan -- March 24, 2003 05:17 PM

The son of a friend from church is in this unit. 21 years old, married, with a 6 month old baby. The soldier's name is Jarrod.

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Monday, March 17, 2003

Do Pay Phones Really Need New Life?

A Wired News story reports that we may start seeing new uses for pay phone booths.

First of all, people, forget about the charging station idea…as if I’m going to stand around a booth twiddling my thumbs for the time it takes to charge my cell phone long enough to get at least one good call out of its battery. Hello!? Cell phone power adapter/charger units are small enough to keep handy.

The Wi-Fi access point at booths, however, may seem like a good idea, but locations are going to have to be given careful consideration. The story correctly points out that most pay phone sites aren’t really in locations where people would be prone to plunking down and using their laptop.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Wi-Fi for the Masses

MacMinute mentioned that Hilton hotels, Borders bookstores, and McDonald’s restaurants are going to start providing 802.11b access at selected (and hopefully increasing numbers of) locations. Cost wasn’t mentioned for Hilton or Borders, but McDonald’s plans to give one hour of access if you purchase a combo meal.

I’m still wondering whether Starbucks is going to make any profit from the for-fee wi-fi access some stores provide, and I don’t know why airports even bother. But I think McDonald’s has the right idea. (Best I can interpret, it seems my friend, Chris, disagrees.) I see nothing wrong in offering wi-fi access only to paying customers and not to drive-bys. I just don’t think there should be a separate fee for it.

I don’t have immediate plans to eat at McDonald’s any more, but other restaurants could offer something similar. I have my own broadband at home, so I’m not one to hang out at a restaurant just to use the internet and not eat anything. Thus, making a food purchase to get access isn’t a problem for me. Hotels could offer access to room occupants and people registered for current conventions/meetings that are taking place. I’m not really sure how bookstores could set it up. Hmm, perhaps you leave a $10 deposit which can be credited toward a purchase.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Queue -- March 12, 2003 11:21 PM

Interesting you should say that about hotels. The last hotel I stayed at in Florida had Wi-Fi connections for $10 for 24 hours. Not bad, eh?

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Palm Meets AT&T Wireless

Oh crap. I feel like Ellen Feiss. I finished typing up this blog entry and was in the preview window, then, in my infinite stupidity, closed the browser window before saving it. Uhg! So, the re-write, below, probably isn’t going to be as good.

Anyway, I’m still happy about what I was trying to blog about. Palm Computing has finally introduced the Palm Tungsten|W which will make use of AT&T Wireless as its carrier—my preferred service.

At $549, its price isn’t too bad, but it’ll likely be a few months before I pick one up. Naturally, this gives an amount of time for all the “early buyers” to find out all the quirks with it first, possibly resulting in an updated model by the time I purchase one. But the real reason I’m waiting is that I just last night ordered an Olympus C-5050 digital camera, and I can’t justify several hundred dollars for a new gadget until probably late summer.

Thanks, Jon, for finding out about this!

(Okay, Lee, hit the frickin’ Save button this time!)

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Saturday, March 08, 2003

Web To Go

I just came across a pretty fascinating story about an internet-enabled bus on the BBC News site.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

First, Life—Next, the Universe—Then, Everything

Wow, this impresses me. As part of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the discovery of the DNA double helix, scientists are preparing to unveil a complete map of every gene.

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Thursday, February 06, 2003

The Day Is Coming—Hurry Up!

Just what we internet junkies need! Wi-Fi access during those long airline flights.

News.com story.

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon -- February 8, 2003 04:55 PM

This is actually a creative idea that sounds like it would work. Haven't seen that outta air travel for years :P. If I could fly on an airline and surf for free, that would be a huge advantage.

Posted by Lee Bennett -- February 8, 2003 05:13 PM

Free would be great, but there would likely be a surcharge for the access. The article mentioned a $25-35 charge for access on international flights and that the cost would probably be less for domestic, since the plane makes more flights in a day. I would happily pay $15-20 extra for longer flights (say, Orlando to LAX, but not necessarily Orlando to Atlanta) if I could use the internet during the entire trip!

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