iTunes for Treo (sorta)

October 31, 2005

Tea Vui Huang’s Mass Storage Synchronizer will let you synchronize an iTunes playlist with your Treo, where you can play your music with your favorite Treo MP3 player.

The page is written towards use with the Sony Ericsson Walkman phones, but he also includes a Treo version of the program, which appears to be a recent development.
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The Worst Cup of Coffee

October 30, 2005

Over on CoffeeGeek, they’re discussing “the worst cup of coffee you ever drank.”

It’s hard for me to pin down a specific worst, although I can describe it (yeesh — I can still taste it) — it was a nasty pot of some flavorless supermarket or institutional coffee, left to cook on a burner until it was burnt and rancid. Unfortunately, I’ve been served this drek enough times over the years, everywhere from greasy spoon diners to fine restaurants that no specific incident stands out…

Not to pick on Starbucks unnecessarily, but I’ve also been served some of their drip brews that stand a very close second; they may have been (reasonably) freshly prepared, but the over-roasted and stale nature of the beans imparted a nasty “chemical” taste to the cup.

What’s the worst cup of coffee YOU’VE ever drank?

The Clover

October 30, 2005

The good folks at Bloggle alert us to a new buzz among the buzzed — the Clover single cup brewing system from Coffee Equipment Company.

The Clover seems to have been developed amid a fair amount of secrecy, but the wraps finally came off this week at an open house at Victrola Coffee’s new roasting facility. The Victrola Coffee Blog has detailed information, along with some great pictures…

The Clover brews one cup at a time, a concept that has momentum in the world of mediocre coffee service and pre-ground “pod” machines, but little currency in the world of specialty roasters. But the clover is very different from any of these other brew-per-cup schemes. It delivers flawless cup quality, with granular control of brew parameters from freshly ground coffee, and delivers with unbelievable speed. Speed enough that it can hold its own against big drip brewers in a high volume retail setting, but with a cup quality which rivals – comparing to vacuum pot or well-prepared french press. Read on for our exclusive first look…

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Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

October 30, 2005

Wherever coffee or tea are drank, they lend themselves to rituals, big or small.

For tea, the definitive ritual is probably the Japanese tea ceremony. For coffee, we need look no further than the birthplace of the bean, where the coffee ceremony is an essential part of Ethiopian culture.

Epicurean has a great article describing the Ethiopian coffee ceremony

The lady who is conducting the ceremony gently washes a handful of coffee beans on the heated pan, then stirs and shakes the husks away. When the coffee beans have turned black and shining and the aromatic oil is coaxed out of them, they are ground by a pestle and a long handled mortar. The ground coffee is slowly stirred into the black clay coffee pot locally known as ‘jebena’, which is round at the bottom with a straw lid.

It all sounds wonderful, actually; I’m a big fan of several of the Ethiopian coffees (particularly Harar), and it’d be great sometime to be able to enjoy it prepared and presented in the traditional fashion.

Born Again MCE 2005

October 30, 2005

I am talented at destroying Media Center PCs… If you’ve got a media center you want trashed, send it to me…

I’ve been slowly fighting my terribly unstable (OEM) Media Center PC back to something approximating normality. I had a big breakthrough a week or two ago, when I replaced the motherboard audio with a PCI audio card, and added yet another fan. This only left my long standing problem of lockups when background update was enabled, which meant I had to switch it on to run windows update and guide updates manually, and then switch it back off.

Life was good. Until Thursday night, anyway.

I sat down to watch a little bit of recorded TV, and it blew up rather spectacularly. Reboots ended up either locking up in POST, or getting a blue screen of death as soon as Windows loaded…

Smells like a hardware failure!
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Verizon FiOS Internet Details

October 29, 2005

After all of the fooling around getting the order in place, the installation of 15/2 FiOS went pretty smoothly yesterday. The tech arrived and had everything installed and running within the scheduled window, and was cheerful and pleasant — a new experience with Verizon, and (knocking on wood) maybe the way things will go from here.

The equipment installed was a little different from what I’d expected. There are essentially three components, one mounted at the service entrance, one mounted inside (that requires a power outlet) and an off-the-shelf consumer broadband router (a D-Link DI-604).

The inside component is strictly a battery backup, and as such, it needs to be mounted physically very near the outside gear at the service entrance; a heavy-gauge cable is run between the two. The battery backup consists of a housing for a gel-cell battery, with a set of status lights and alarms, and an external power supply that’s mounted next to the unit and plugged into the wall.
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Forbes journalist predicts own lynching

October 28, 2005

In the cover story of the latest Forbes magazine, Daniel Lyons goes on the assault against blogs, calling them “the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective”.

Things go downhill from there, with a few facts interspersed with a level of exaggeration and obvious misstatements that would make the most bombastic blogger blush, and a sidebar on “how to punish bloggers that annoy you fighting back”.

As you can imagine, the reaction from the blogging community is more than a little hostile.

Memeorandum is doing a nice job of recapping the play-by-play here.

What was it Gandhi said?

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Oh yeah, that was it…

FiOS TV in Plano Soon?

October 27, 2005

When I first started down the little multi-month donkey-ride to get FiOS service, I wasn’t paying any attention to their TV play.

In the meantime, Verizon has launched their first FiOS TV customers in Keller, TX, and information on their service lineups and pricing has started to come out.

They’ve also petitioned for and received PUC approval to roll out cable service in other TX neighborhoods, including mine (Plano).
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FiOS Fiber & Comcast

October 27, 2005

Things are actually looking promising for my FiOS install scheduled for tomorrow; a tech is out in the yard at the moment running the fiber from the hub in the alley to the service entrance of the house.

I have to admit that I got a kick out of Comcast in this whole deal — since my Comcast (internet, no TV service) coax is buried in the same path, they were required to come out last week and mark where their cable is buried so that Verizon doesn’t cut it when they bury the fiber.

Just before they did this, a Comcast salesman came to the door “just to let me know they’d be working in the yard” — this took 25 seconds, and then he launched into a full-tilt pitch trying to get me to sign up for Cable TV service. Of course, it was just a coincidence that he had all of the material with him for their offers and “deals”.

I suspect that with the FiOS TV launch now imminent, this is standard operating procedure every time they come out to mark off for a FiOS install. Verizon has not sent out any promo materials on TV yet, since they just got regulatory approval a couple of days ago, and so new FiOS Internet customers may well not know what’s coming.

Since people who are already on-net with FiOS are the obvious first target to pitch FiOS TV to (all they have to do is hook up set-top boxes at that point), it is very definitely in Comcast’s interest to lock up as many of these people as possible with a cable TV commitment beforehand….

Dishplayer 942 issues

October 25, 2005

Speaking of stabilizing, I may finally have a handle on why my Dishplayer 942 has been missing recordings.

In short, this looks like the front end of a problem that has been causing the Dishplayer to crash repeatedly any time it’s getting an intense workout. This has been getting progressively worse, and it now looks like it might be a hard drive failure issue.
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