TiVo To Go

There is a lot of news going around my house­hold in this New Year. Not the least of which is the fact that tomor­row is the last day of my job at URS Cor­po­ra­tion or that I have sev­er­al new gad­gets that don’t entire­ly work! That’s all for anoth­er time, though. This post is all about the TiVo.

TiVo announced the TiVo To Go ser­vice way back in Jan­u­ary of ’04 and final­ly rolled it out on Mon­day. Well, they sort of rolled it out. They post­ed an updat­ed ver­sion of TiVo desk­top on their site and the newest ver­sion of the TiVo soft­ware will include the capa­bil­i­ties. Of course, the sched­uled down­loads for the box soft­ware don’t occur imme­di­ate­ly. The best you can hope for is request­ing pri­or­i­ty and you might get it in the next few weeks. Fur­ther, there’s no Mac sup­port as of yet.

Now, to be able to burn your record­ed shows from your PC (again, not Mac as of yet) to DVD, you’ll use Son­ic’s MyD­VD v6.1, which was announced yes­ter­day. I had a copy of MyD­VD that was pre-loaded on my Dell Dimen­sion 4600 Media Cen­ter PC. I did­n’t real­ly care for the inter­face, so I nev­er real­ly used it much. I pur­chased Nero 6 as soon as I got the PC and have used it ever since, espe­cial­ly since Nero soon added sup­port for Microsoft­’s .dvr-ms for­mat mpeg video. That aside, a soon there-after bought a Plex­tor PX-708A DVD Burn­er and after a cou­ple of frus­trat­ing days, final­ly learned that MyD­VD + PX-708A = mem­o­ry dump. Bad. 

Son­ic’s site lists the PX-708A as com­pat­i­ble hard­ware, so hope­ful­ly that prob­lem’s fixed now. None-the-less, this is now one more piece of soft­ware that does some­thing that anoth­er piece of soft­ware I already own does, with the excep­tion of one tiny task which will cost around $50. Not to sound cheap, but why can’t TiVo and Nero get togeth­er on this as well? Since Bill Gates announced at CES ear­li­er today that Microsoft­’s going to sup­port TiVo ToGo in Win­dows soft­ware, why can’t Nero be on board?

I’m addict­ed to TiVo and desparate­ly want the abil­i­ty to get my video files to and from the machine to some net­work stor­age or my PC. How­ev­er, I’m not crazy about buy­ing anoth­er piece of soft­ware that I was­n’t impressed with before to replace some soft­ware that I real­ly like.

Last­ly, on the TiVo front, they’ve been tak­ing a lot of flack over their sol­lu­tion to skip­ping over adver­tis­ing. The idea is that when you fast-for­ward through 2 min­utes (or so) of com­mer­i­cals, a sta­t­ic ban­ner ad will pop up on the screen. Frankly, I don’t care so long as it does­n’t eat up my band­width. I’m watch­ing peo­ple zip around the screen at 4x FF, what do I care if an ad is slapped over that? Ads are every­where, and good ads are an art­form. Peo­ple get too upset over adver­tis­ing to real­ize that when done right (and whose to say this won’t be), it helps the cus­tomer con­nect with a sup­pli­er. It does appear that some peo­ple seem to agree that this is a non-issue, and I think that no one is goign to get rid of their TiVo based on this. Fur­ther, this is a whole lot more ten­able than the Sen­ate’s stu­pid sol­lu­tion to mak­ing fast-for­ward ille­gal!

After doing some fur­ther read­ing, I thought I’d post this link to a response on the TiVo com­mer­cial skip stuff from one of the prod­uct man­agers at TiVo.

Bridges In Wired

It’s like Wired mag­a­zine reads my mind or some­thing. They con­tin­u­al­ly print & post the coolest arti­cles on every­thing I love. This is no dif­fer­ent. David Gold­en­berg has writ­ten a nice (albeit short) arti­cle on what he states are the five top bridges in “a third gold­en age of bridge build­ing.” He’s made some nice choic­es, although a few too many cable-stayed bridges in my opin­ion. You can read the arti­cle in the Jan­u­ary issue or online here.

The most hi-tech bridge I’ve worked on to date would be the Pearl Har­bor Memo­r­i­al Bridge in New Haven, CT. Called the Q‑Bridge for short, it is an extra­dosed cable-stayed bridge, which will be the first of it’s kind in the Unit­ed States. I worked on por­tions of the steel option, which would be the only steel extra­dosed bridge in world. Pret­ty cool stuff, although not the most like­ly option.

Music Industry

I thought I might post some of my thoughts on the music indus­try, where it’s at and where it might be going. How­ev­er, if you aren’t famil­iar with The Long Tail, you have to read the arti­cle which appeared in the Octo­ber issue of Wired Mag­a­zine. Go read it here now.

I thought I might post some of my thoughts on the music indus­try, where it’s at and where it might be going. How­ev­er, if you aren’t famil­iar with The Long Tail, you have to read the arti­cle which appeared in the Octo­ber issue of Wired Mag­a­zine. Go read it here now in a new Fire­fox tab and then come back here. Lat­er, you can read all the argu­ments for and against the arti­cle at the web site for The Long Tail book.

Okay, so I have to admit that oth­er than a broth­er and a good friend which most would con­sid­er indie musi­cians, I have absolute­ly no affil­i­a­tion with the music indus­try oth­er than the most com­mon: con­sumer. That’s not to say it’s not an impor­tant role, though. I’m the guy who along with my mil­lions of peers either buys or does­n’t buy the music. It does take me for this whole mod­el to work. I do believe that it starts with the artist, though. The song­writ­ers and per­form­ers are both the chick­en and the egg here. That being said, I also believe that the mid­dle men per­form the most mean­ing­less task in the process. I was recent­ly remind­ed that cough­ing up the cash for mar­ket­ing and mass-pro­duc­tion could be seen as the most cru­cial part, and I’m sure that record exec­u­tives feel that way about it, too. How­ev­er, after read­ing this arti­cle, see­ing how free jour­nal­ism (read: blogs) can influ­ence the entire coun­try, and my own per­son­al expe­ri­ence in meet­ing peo­ple from around the globe through my web­site; I’ve decid­ed that this sim­ply isn’t the case anymore.

Here’s my new improved mod­el: instant access to the tip of the long tail. I put my music in dig­i­tal for­mat (this goes for books, etc, as well). I’ll pay for host­ing the files on iTunes, Ama­zon, Tow­er, where ever I want I think I can find some toe-hold of a mar­ket. Then, I use word-of-mouth, play­ing shows, and blogs to find an audi­ence. With sweat and luck, a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions start point­ing to me. As long as these rec­om­men­da­tions are gen­uine, and not like pay-for-play on some Clear Chan­nel sta­tion, then they will work. Peo­ple can lis­ten before they buy and, assum­ing price is right, they will buy. So, I start to move up the tail some. Best part for all you Down­hill Bat­tle geeks, no record label. Peri­od. If I want help with my mar­ket­ing, etc. I join a musi­cian & song­writer col­lec­tive. This gains buy­ing pow­er and larg­er influ­ence. This already works for inde­pen­dent gro­cery stores, phar­ma­cies, and on and on; why not for musi­cians? The mod­el for the music busi­ness is the most com­plex I’ve ever heard of. It does­n’t have to be this way. The tech­nol­o­gy avail­able for com­mu­ni­ca­tion between humans (which is pret­ty much what both mar­ket­ing and music boil down to) is to a point that this mod­el is now obsolete.

Now, I real­ize that being out on the skin­ny end of this long tail isn’t going to make sta­di­um-play­ing-rock-gods out of my friends and fam­i­ly. It will, at best, pay the rent; and that’s going to be about as good as one can hope. But isn’t that much dif­fer­ent than the way it is now? I’ve got as good a chance as play­ing start­ing for­ward for the Wiz­ards as I’ve got going plat­inum, so what’s to loose? If you’re not U2, then not too much. How­ev­er, the fact that the music indus­try pro­tects itself does­n’t help some­one on the verge of get­ting in. You start sell­ing your songs on your own, and you’ll nev­er get signed on to a major label. That’s a risk that would be tough if you feel like a deal with a label (major or indie) is just around the cor­ner. How­ev­er, for all but the best sell­ing musi­cians these days, that’s not too big of a risk. Unless you’re in the top 10%(or so) of artists in terms of sales, you’re prob­a­bly not get­ting much air­time or support.

As an aside, go read up on some great ideas on file shar­ing net­works at the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion as well. Also, check out some of the links above. You’ll see that I’m pret­ty much just regur­gi­tat­ing some great ideas that are already out there, but you’ll also see I’m not alone in my frus­tra­tion as both a lis­ten­er of music and some­one who gives a damn about artists try­ing to make a liv­ing. Last­ly, if you like a song, buy the damn music!

The Sign of Things To Come

You can eas­i­ly see that things are very dif­fer­ent around here. It’s a new year, and I’ve got what appears to be a new site at first glance. I’ve switched from Blog­ger to Word­Press & also switched web servers. This is all thanks to my good friend Jason John­son, who is gra­cious­ly help­ing me get up to speed on all things WWW. Now, iron­i­cal­ly, Jason has authored many a site on the inter­net and has helped me learn every­thing from the <html> tag to some very sim­ple php (as of a cou­ple of days ago); but his site has been in the “begin­ning” stages for years now.

This site is going to con­tin­ue to go through some rad­i­cal changes over the next two weeks, at which point, it bet­ter be done. I’m start­ing a new job and I don’t expect I’ll have near­ly as much time for such diver­sions. I hope I’ll have time for post­ing any­thing oth­er than how lit­tle time I have. These changes will include a new look, some orga­ni­za­tion, and hope­ful­ly many inter­est­ing links to keep some­one busy for at least 5 min­utes. I’m excit­ed about all the new pos­si­bil­i­ties, and if you end up lik­ing this site, thank the oth­er Jason for me. He’s a bril­liant design­er and coder, and throws a mean New Year’s Eve par­ty with Stacie.

Merry Christmas!

I just want­ed to post a short mes­sage here wish­ing all my read­ers (okay, my Mom & Dad!) a Mer­ry Christ­mas. Also, Hap­py Hanukkah, Kwan­zaa, Fes­tivus and all oth­er big­gie-Decem­ber hol­i­days (hence, the non-spe­cif­ic ‘Hap­py Hol­i­days’ that has some folks ban­ning stores). Best wish­es and Hap­py New Year.

I’m cur­rent­ly with my wife vis­it­ing with all of her fam­i­ly. Then, we’re off to land of dial-ups and non-24-hour super­mar­kets to vis­it my fam­i­ly in the moun­tains. At least we have snow (okay, ice & slush), if not broadband.

Robocop

Screen Shot of Robot Commercial

How come I don’t see com­mer­cials this cool on tele­vi­sion? Seri­ous­ly, I would­n’t fast-for­ward right through them with TiVo if 1 out of 10 were this fun to watch. Okay, so this isn’t a real com­mer­cial for any­thing, but still; you could place robots like this in Ben­gay com­mer­cials and I’d watch the reli­gious­ly. The image links direct­ly to the video, even though the team respon­si­ble has asked folks not to. I don’t think the two or three clicks this will get is going to both­er them. Here’s their site just in case you design-types want to know more.

If you like this com­mer­cial, syn­thet­ic rab­bit post­ed anoth­er great one (for a real prod­uct) on his site here.

Final­ly, how cool is a robot with Wifi anten­nae, rab­bit-like ears? I love it.

UPDATE: The links above aren’t bro­ken, you just need to look down the page for the Tetra Vaal Video.

And I Thought I Was Having A Bad Day

Harry With Elizabethan Collar and Head Bandage

Here I was feel­ing sor­ry for myself that I was out on site until very ear­ly this morn­ing. Well around 8:00am Angela called me to tell me Har­ry was bleed­ing bad­ly and need­ed to be tak­en to the Vet. Turns out he just had a small tear in his ear, so he’s okay. I don’t think he’s too hap­py, though.

While all the foren­sic evi­dence isn’t back from the lab yet, we’re pret­ty sure it was some dog­gy rough-hous­ing while Angela was busy with break­fast. Some­times our new­er dog, Mag­gie, does­n’t seem to real­ize she’s about 2 1/2 times the size of Har­ry. Har­ry also does­n’t keep this fact in mind some­times while wrestling her. The good news is, Har­ry gets to take the ban­dage off on Monday.

This Site’s Not All That’s Under Construction

Well, I’ve just come back in from the cold. Lit­er­al­ly. I’ve been out most all night and into the morn­ing at a con­struc­tion site in the Hamp­ton Roads area of Vir­ginia on a con­struc­tion mon­i­tor­ing job. Yes, I watch peo­ple work on con­struc­tion. It’s not a bad gig, if you’ve got long ther­mal under­wear and a good book to read by dome-light in your car. Oh yeah, you’ll also want a decent pair of work boots because the stuff that this oper­a­tion digs up is like walk­ing through the waste site of a mod­el­ing clay factory.

Setting up to take level shots at the construciton site

Essen­tial­ly, a Jack & Bore pipe instal­la­tion is a method of push­ing a pipe through the ground from one open­ing to the next, all the while, using a auger inside the pipe to bore out the soil it is dis­plac­ing. It’s a good way to get a pipe under some­thing you can’t dis­turb, like say a rail­road. Wikipedia does­n’t have any­thing on Jack­ing and Bor­ing pipe, and I did­n’t see any­thing with much googlar­i­ty to even both­er with post­ing on here. Suf­fice it to say, if you real­ly need to know about this sort of pro­ce­dure, then you prob­a­bly already do.

How­ev­er, this does­n’t real­ly explain why I’m post­ing about it at the mid­dle of the morn­ing on the week­end. Back to the whole mon­i­tor­ing thing, I’m out with a co-work­ing tak­ing sur­vey­ing data and writ­ing field reports cov­er­ing the con­struc­tion under­way. It’s bor­ing enough, but on top of that, the cur­rent tem­per­a­ture out­side is around 35° F. I’m not real­ly lov­ing my job right now.

That’s too bad, because my co-work­er just called my room and it’s off to the job site to take anoth­er round of lev­el shots.

MeetUp… For What?

Well, I just returned home from the Decem­ber meet­ing of the Rich­mond Demo­c­ra­t­ic Meet­Up. This is the sec­ond one of these Mee­tups I’ve been to, and I can’t decide which one dis­s­a­point­ed me more. The first one was noth­ing but myself and four oth­ers sit­ting at a local cof­fee shop com­plain­ing about indi­vid­u­als in pow­er we obvi­ous­ly had­n’t vot­ed for. I’m sure you heard about it on the news that evening, giv­en all the sea-change in politcs that ensued.

The rea­son I went tonight, and the rea­son I had my hopes up again for this, was becuase tonight’s meet­ing was at the Vig­inia Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty Head­quar­ters. I thought this would be begin with a fiery Carville-esque speech to moti­vate the troops fol­lowed by a grass­roots brain­storm­ing ses­sion on elect­ing Lt. Govenor Kaine to the Govenors seat in ’05. Then we’d all be giv­en signs and bumper stick­ers to pass out, call-lists, talk­ing points, etc.

I got there about 5 min­utes late due to a cou­ple of acci­dents en-route (not mine, thank good­ness). Tim Kaine’s cam­paign man­ag­er, Mike Hen­ry, was tak­ing com­ments from the group… none of which I heard were of any use to this cam­paign. I did­n’t hear any­thing that was mak­ing this guy say any­thing oth­er than “yes, good idea, we’ll con­sid­er that.” Next, after some blath­er by the group (about 12 peo­ple), one of the oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic politi­cos asked for any oth­er ques­tions or com­ments. Then came a rant by one of the mem­bers com­plaign­ing about nev­er even hav­ing a Dem. to vote for on the bal­lot. I feel her pain, but the par­ty indi­vid­ual said they did­n’t have a “warm body” pol­i­cy for run­ning can­di­dates; that the par­ty only would run viable can­di­dates to win. Mon­ey, peo­ple, time are all lim­it­ed. Now this com­plaign­er went on to ques­tion what is viable? Well, why does­n’t she run for office then? I bet she’d tell you ‘oh, I would­n’t win.’ Well, that’s not viable.

I just got the fol­low up e‑mail for the meet­ing. It goes on about the groups opti­mism. I think Kaine will win, but not becuase of this bunch.

Passive Aggressive Hilarious

I saw a link for this and thought I’d find out more. I imag­ine that if every­body in Amer­i­ca bought a FOXBlock­er, the aver­age IQ would go up about 10 points. This is sim­ply an inline cable fil­ter. While the device itself does­n’t real­ly do any more than my nev­er watch­ing that chan­nel; the com­pa­ny sends an e‑mail to Fox’s top 10 adver­tis­ers let­ting them know there’s one less cus­tomer in that mar­ket. No that would make a dent. I sup­pose at some point the mar­ket­ing gurus there would fig­ure out that any­one who bought one was prob­a­bly already watch­ing the BBC News, PBS, or just lis­ten­ing to NPR because they nev­er had cable in the first place.