Saturday, April 02, 2005

Bloglines Harnesses Blogs and RSS Feeds

Bloglines has free software to manage multiple RSS blog and news feeds. If you think you are spending too much time running down news stories, Bloglines can tee up your own custom news page.

Peter S. Kastner

Wireless Quality-of-Service Media Protocols

The WiFi in your home doesn't care whether you are wirelessly sending an e-mail or trying to record a TV program. There is no "quality of service" capability, a concept that is necessary noow that wireless needs to deal with data such as media that has high priority, real time delivery requirements.

The pieces of the sizeable digital-content puzzle are starting to fall into place, but roadblocks remain. Digital Rights Management is still chief among them, but other issues, such as wireless networking performance and Quality of Service, can also rain on the parade. Today, we'll take you on a tour of the media-networking landscape and show you what are—and will be—the key technologies to make digital media and data play nice on your home network.

Peter S. Kastner

Intel Rolls Out 64 Bit Xeons at Pentium Prices

Intel unveiled three performance Xeon MPs, ranging in frequency from 2.83GHz to 3.33GHz and 4MB to 8MB of Level 3 cache. Two "value" processors offer 3.16GHz and 3.66GHz speeds and 1MB of Level 2 cache.

The larger cache in the performance SKUs will make these transaction processing and data warehousing workhorses.

The price as low as $722 (qty 1,000) makes the Cranford value chips attractive for a new generation of low-cost 4-way servers. Dell immediately jumped in with its offering. These will sell by the boxcar for web processing and Tier 1 apps.

Peter S. Kastner

Open-Source Fans Often Miss Business Basics

I love this op ed piece. Could not have said it better myself:

If open source really wants to gets out of the back room and into the office, open-source supporters need to support open-source projects for the long run. That's really what businesses want: programs that not only work well, but will still be fully supported five years down the road.

The IT ecosystem needs to make money on open source for the process to be worth the efforts of enterprise practitioners. Support costs money. Pay them now or pay them later, but be prepared to pay for the value of support.

Peter S. Kastner

What Bill Gates Is Thinking

If you want to know what Microsoft is considering investing in and bring to market, follow the stories here and in the Wall Street Journal this week. Gates is famous for going off a couple of times a year for a week to a Washington lake and ruminating on white papers and proposals from inside Microsoft. What comes out of these cathartic sessions is not nearly as public as this 2005 episode.

Something amiss at Microsoft? I doubt it. For reasons beyond me, Microsft PR decided to take this opportunity to spotlight Bill and the Microsoft R&D process.

Bottom Line: Where Microsoft goes, at least part of the IT industry will follow.

Peter S. Kastner

HP Selects NCR's Mark Hurd as New CEO

Hurd is well regarded for turning around NCR. He steps into the second largest computer company with lots of decisions to make. Stay tuned...

Desktop PCs: The Essential Consumer Buying Guide

PC Magazine does a good job of asking and answering questions for prospective buyers of a new desktop PC.

However, as we have discussed during the On Computers radio show, the PC lineup will change dramatically with the introduction of dual core machines soon. If you can hold off, wait until the new machines are announced, as prices on existing inventory will drop. I expect July to be a buyer's paradise since the "duallies" will be the beginning of a new processor generation. The summer "back to school" months are the best time of year for consumers to buy a PC.

Peter S. Kastner

Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2003 SP1

After two years in the field, Microsoft is updating its enterprise OS with service pack 1.

This will be a mandatory install at enterprises, as it has new security features and improved performance. (Obviously, test applications before installing.)

Peter S. Kastner

Dell Launches Sweet Thin-and-Light Notebook

As a road warrior, I am drooling over Dell's new 2.5 pound Latitude X1. The Latitude series are for managed enterprise PCs.

Dell also has several other new notebooks here.

Peter S. Kastner

Google Doubles E-Mail Space to 2GB

This is a great deal in free e-mail.

Google Inc. is doubling the capacity of each account and plans to keep bumping up the limit in the future.

Once the upgrade takes effect Friday, Gmail users will be able to store up to 2 gigabytes of e-mail and attachments for each account. Even more capacity will be made available after that as it becomes feasible, the company said.

Create an Electronic Living Will

Sales of computer software to create living wills are surging amid the high-profile debate over Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged Florida woman who died Thursday.

Xrackhosting debuts dedicated Mac Mini hosting

You gotta love this. Xrackhosting debuts dedicated Mac Mini hosting. They ought to be able to fit about 2 million (just kidding) in a 42" rack.

The price of $200 a month is ridiculously high, but the "wow" factor is there.

Peter S. Kastner

'High Risk' Flaws Found in IE, Outlook

More security problems for Microsoft to get into this month's patch kit in two weeks.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Google Gulp

Happy Birthday, GMail!
On the eve of Gmail's one-year birthday, our engineers were toiling away furiously. Notes scribbled all over the walls. Complex calculations on napkins and empty pizza boxes. Millions of M&Ms.

The result?... starting today, we're beginning the roll-out of our new and top secret Infinity+1 storage plan. The key features are:...:
Can anybody get ahead of google???

Other features are here.
POP access is da bomb! :)

If anybody needs/wants a gmail account let any of the members of the blog know.

NASA World Wind Forums -> Google Launches satellite, named "gSat"

Its too late for me, but maybe not for you, between 10-11am local time, " has provided 24 hour access to nasa of their global imaging satellite, gSat.
We invite the World Wind community to participate in this great event; the gSat will be imaging the entire Earth this Friday, the first of April.

If you want to be photographed in this new dataset, the gSat's special orbit should mean that it passes over your respective time zone between 10:00am and 11:00am.

Simply go outside that hour and wave, feel free to make signs supporting World Wind or other message, but please keep things appropriate. This new set of images should be in the next major version of World Wind due in a few months. Thanks again for the community's support and interest in World Wind!

so, get out there and wave! :)
There are also some images already on the site...
w0w the detail is amazing... any privacy concerns???

SCIFI.COM | Battlestar Galactica

I've been aware of this for a while, but don't recall if I posted it, and because of the dirth of posts, I'm gonna, possibly, repost it. If you are into Battlestar Galactica and podcasts, they post "an exclusive commentary by Executive producer Ronald D. Moore about each episode, while you're watching it. There are two ways to enjoy this feature - subscribe to our podcast feed or download individual mp3 files. (Beware of spoilers! Although the commentary is provided before you watch the episode, it is meant to be
listened to while watching the episode. Listening to it beforehand might ruin certain dramatic surprises.)"
In case you have broadband, or the patience of Jack ;) , you can also download an uncut and commercial-free first episode, and four deleted scenes.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Motorola iTunes Cell Phone Meets Media Moguls

The long awaited convergence phone that features iTunes MP3 support on a cell phone seems to have been delayed by a combination of billion dollar roadblocks:
  • Cell phone companies want a share of the music download revenue stream with Motorola and Apple
  • TMI (The Music Industry) may be having content distribution doubts -- like creating another Napster of freely sharable content -- and is pressuring the cell phone companies.

Will we see the Moto iTunes phone? I think so for several reasons: the most convincing is there's billions in potential handset, network service, and content revenue to be had. But the groaning board may look so appealing there's a fight on to get to the head of the buffet line.

Peter S. Kastner

Peter S. Kastner

Microsoft Launches Windows XP Home Edition N -- Again

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced an agreement with European Union antitrust regulators on the name "Windows XP Home Edition N," with "N" standing for "not with media player," for a reduced version of its Windows media software sold in Europe.

As we discussed on the On Computers radio show yesterday, poor Microsoft can't win with the European Union -- it's political, you see. The whole thing is just asinine. Are consumers better served with a box labelled Windows XP Home Edition N as opposed to Windows XP Home Reduced Media Edition? I guess I just do not have a European sense of humor -- or irony.

If you are in Europe, I would scoop up a few copies of the retail version of "Windows XP Home Reduced Media Edition" while they are still on the shelves as they will definitely be collectible (if only by the Computer Museum). Some day you can sell these now obsolete boxes on eBay -- but be sure to pay your taxes!

Peter S. Kastner

Party's Over: IRS Discovers eBay

Hard to imagine the astute folks at the Internal Revenue Service took ten years to be shocked, shocked to find income being generated on the online phenom, eBay -- where a mere 34 million taxpayers are registered.

You've now been warned ...

Unfortunately, the tax code is at its foggiest regarding money made selling goods over the 'Net. One woman's hobby is another's job. Go figure -- with a professional, please!

Based on past history, the IRS will pick a couple of miscreants and make a public stink, ending with a trial. This is supposed to educate the public to cough up the IRS' full measure of revenue. I wish them good luck (and state up front I have nothing to hide).

Peter S. Kastner

First IM Phishing Attack Hits Yahoo

Beware of phishing scams in Yahoo Messenger!

IRS may tax eBay Sales

If you spend a lot of time selling things on eBay, you may want to give this a read.

New Music File Sharing Method: Apple iPod

Some 19% of those who download audio and video files -- about 7 million adults -- admit to having downloaded files from someone else's iPod or MP3 player, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project research.

While Apple limits iTunes songs to 5 PCs, there is no limit to the number of iPods that can "tank up" at a PC. Not surprisingly, college students discovered this last year. Because the file sharing exchange is local -- no networking involved -- there is no illegal music file downloading to measure on the Internet. Therefore, the Pew research is an important indicator of a new form of an old Internet vice: stealing MP3s and videos.

It will not take the music industry long to point a finger at Apple as "promoting the theft of the music industry's intellectual property". And Apple looks to me like a lawsuit target with very deep pockets.

However, Apple's retort is that many families now have multiple iPods. Just like a family (or friends) can share a legitimate CD and VCR collection under the fair use doctrine, cannot members share the family music freely on their individual iPods?

You'll hear more about this story, most likely as it becomes a highly visible and messy court case.

Peter S. Kastner

Computer Games at Work Face Government Scrutiny

"Senator Allran (NC) wants the state to erase the free game modules such as Solitaire from all its computers - the digital version of throwing the deck in the trash can. The plan, he says, will save taxpayers millions in gained productivity -- not to mention soothing their angst over secretaries and executives' long hours clicking digital decks.

The solitaire crackdown here, though perhaps rare in its specificity, is part of a behind-the-scenes battle over personal time that's affecting not just unionized state workers in North Carolina, but sales reps in Washington and phone-bank workers in San Francisco. It goes straight to the issue of distractions from long days at the office and, more fundamentally, how much of their employees' time and concentration employers can reasonably expect to own.

Research done by the IRS has shown that over 50 percent of the time an IRS employee goes on a computer, he or she also hooks up to the Internet to shop, gamble or play games."

The juxtaposition of record high U.S. worker productivity with claims that half of worker's computer time is wasted to employers is too rich to pass up. Obviously, employers need to get a handle on what's going on. If big government employers are moving to ban solitaire by law, then some workplaces are totally out of control.

Peter S. Kastner

T-Mobile Pulls HP 6315 SmartPhone

Listeners to the On Computers radio show will recall the hosts travails with HP software: we have stated that one of HP's flaws is the inability to write good consumer software.

This week, T-Mobile, HP's exclusive partner in the hp6315, pulled the 6315 PDA phone from retail distribution pending a ROM update from HP. From my own experience, the GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) modem software used for voice and data is problematic. My 6315 will lose its mind in poor coverage areas, requiring a soft reboot to correct. That can mean lost calls. Lost WiFi coverage can cause the device to run down its battery in an hour, or not be able to connect to a known working access point without rebooting and reinitializing settings. And last week, my 6315 decided to spontaneously do a hard "factory reboot" while sitting idle, powered on, in the USB dock of my desktop PC. Factory reboot means all the data in the PDA becomes missing in action.

Obviously, T-Mobile has had more than a few customer complaints. To pull the product until HP fixes the software is not good news for HP's heretofore good reputation in the telecomm industry. As a T-Mobile customer for the 6315, I can see why T-Mobile went to the extraordinary step of pulling the product.

Peter S. Kastner

Today's Show

Sorry guys, we had some technical difficulties today for the third hour and ended the show after the second hour. We should have the problem fixed by next week. Thanks everyone for bearing with us.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

OC Podcast

This is the On Computers podcast for 03-27-2005. Due to technical difficulties, the show is only 2 hours long. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Texas to Vonage: Fix 911!

Texas sued Vonage on behalf of consumers who cannot get to 911 emergency services. The suit is the aftermath of a home invasion shooting where the caller could not get through to 911. Fortunately, no one was killed.

Texas claims that Vonage provided inadequate warning to voice over IP (VoIP) customers that they needed to register their location with Vonage.

As I have stated on the On Computers radio show, I have some not so pleasant experiences to report as a Vonage customer. However, I will support Vonage's position in this case. Vonage has the problem that VoIP adapters are portable. In fact, take your adapter with you on a trip -- anywhere in the world. Because IP addresses have no correlation to geography, Vonage, AT&T, Skype and the other VoIP providers have no way of mapping a customer's VoIP adapter to a local Emergency 911 call center. For that reason, Vonage prominently informs new customers in its welcome e-mails, adapter user manual, and web site set-up instructions that a 911 instructions form has to be filled out and filed. If you read the Vonage literature or installation instructions, you really cannot miss the 911 instructions.

The Texas law suit will pivot on how proactive Vonage needs to be with customers who do not read instructions. A sad state in law and in consumer behavior.

Peter S. Kastner

Case Silencing Debacle

A funny story of one man's earnest efforts to silence his PC. There is a lesson here, for sure.

Peter S. Kastner

Review of Value Notebooks

PC Magazine reviews notebooks priced under $1,000.

Happy Easter to all Christians.

Easter eggs, little nuggets hidden on DVDs, computer programs, Operating Systems..
Link Courtesy of Gizmodo and Lifehacker.
Enjoy :)