iHome iH5 Clock Radio for iPod Review

December 31, 2005

Among the booty Santa left this year was the iHome iH5 Clock Radio.

Okay, so Santa didn’t leave it — I got one for each of my kids (both in college, and not the swiftest to get up in the mornings), and had to get one for myself as well.

I love it.

I’ve got several sets of iPod speakers scattered around — one of the Altec Lansing inMotion speakers, a Tivoli iPal in the kitchen, etc.

This thing frankly sounds better than all of them. Plus it’s cheaper than all of them. Plus it’s a clock radio. What else could you ask for?
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Maxent 42X3 42″ HDTV Plasma Monitor Review

December 31, 2005

Maxent MX-42X3I really, really tried to like the Philips 32″ LCD, but when all was said and done, the black levels (or more precisely, the lack thereof) did me in.

So I bit the bullet, and went to a 42″ Plasma.

Wow, am I ever glad I did.

LCDs have a lot going for them, and I have no doubt that over time they’re going to be a better bet in most applications than plasma is today, but for this application, and this time, the difference between the plasma and the LCD are like night and day for me.
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Doctor Who 2005 in the US?

December 31, 2005

Doctor Who’tis the season — for not much worth watching on TV. From Thanksgiving until the first few weeks of January, there just isn’t much on TV. Reruns, reruns of reruns, recycled old holiday programs and end of the year retrospectives.

If TV is a vast wasteland, the holiday season is ground zero.

Me? Well, lately I’ve been watching the return of an old favorite – Doctor Who.

Doctor Who, the venerable BBC sci-fi potboiler originally ran for 26 seasons, from 1963 through 1989. I spent a few years in the 80’s watching Tom Baker’s run as The Doctor, late nights and weekends on PBS.

This year, the BBC dusted off the old series, updated it, and started a whole new run.

You know what? It’s brilliant.
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Simple Rsync for Windows (How To)

December 28, 2005

DeltaCopyRsync is one of those magic tools.  What it does is to keep two directories (typically on two different machines) the same.

Let’s say you want to back up your “my documents folder” every night to a server across a network.  Rsync will take any new documents you’ve added, and put them in your folder on the server.  It’ll also delete any documents you’ve deleted (if you tell it to.)

That’s pretty simple, and there are many ways of doing that. 

Where Rsync shines is that it will do it with parts of files — let’s say you have a 3 gigabyte file that gets a little update each day.  Instead of deleting the backed up copy and sending a new 3 gigabyte file, Rsync is smart enough to just send the parts that have changed. 

It doesn’t have to know anything about what the file is — it can do it with a Word document, a spreadsheet, a database, etc.
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Courtney Love’s Manifesto

December 24, 2005

Okay, so maybe she’s not always appeared to be the sharpest tool in the shed, but Courtney Love has figured out the problem with the recording industry’s games, she’s not planning on taking it any more, and not surprisingly, she’s not going to go quietly.

Courtney Love Does The Math

I want to work with people who believe in music and art and passion. And I’m just the tip of the iceberg. I’m leaving the major label system and there are hundreds of artists who are going to follow me. There’s an unbelievable opportunity for new companies that dare to get it right.

How can anyone defend the current system when it fails to deliver music to so many potential fans? That only expects of itself a “5 percent success rate” a year? The status quo gives us a boring culture. In a society of over 300 million people, only 30 new artists a year sell a million records. By any measure, that’s a huge failure.

Maybe each fan will spend less money, but maybe each artist will have a better chance of making a living. Maybe our culture will get more interesting than the one currently owned by Time Warner. I’m not crazy. Ask yourself, are any of you somehow connected to Time Warner media? I think there are a lot of yeses to that and I’d have to say that in that case president McKinley truly failed to bust any trusts. Maybe we can remedy that now.

The Hole thing (sorry) is really quite well thought out and well written.  Do yourself a favor and go read it — and pass it on.

The Five Hidden Differences Between DVRs

December 23, 2005

Digital Video Recorders are fast becoming “commodity” items — Tivos are now selling for pocket change (leaving aside the monthly fee), cable and satellite providers are throwing in “house brand” DVRs cheap or even free for new and renewing subscribers, and some days it seems harder to find a Windows machine that’s not a Media Center than it does to find one that is.

Unfortunately, what makes a DVR worth using isn’t always the obvious features that they tell you about.  Sure, you can select between them based on recording time or disk storage, or how many standard definition or high def programs they’ll record simultaneously, but once it’s installed and you have to live with it, you’ll find that there are some major differences between the players.

Sometimes you have advanced warning — for example, this week DirecTV is taking a lot of heat for problems with their new post-Tivo house-brand DVRs, but often you’ll need to do a little online sleuthing around to find out what user experience are really like.

So what’s really important?  Funny you should ask.  Having owned a fairly wide variety of DVRs over the past few years, and played with a few different ones that friends own, I’ve decided that the following five issues are what really separate great DVR experiences from just another case of gadget misery.
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Women’s petition against coffee — 1674

December 22, 2005

Somebody’s always complaining about coffee — way back in 1674 London, a group of disgruntled wives of coffee patrons distributed this flyer protesting that coffee was denying them of their husbands (ahem) attentions.

The Occasion of which Insufferable Disaster, after a serious Enquiry, and Discussion of the Point by the Learned of the Faculty, we can Attribute to nothing more than the Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE, which Riffling Nature of her Choicest Treasures, and Drying up the Radical Moisture, has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age, and as unfruitful as those Desarts whence that unhappy Berry is said to be brought.

This of course didn’t go without a response from the men

(via MeFi)

Coffee Songs

December 21, 2005

Locust St. has posted a great collection of songs about coffee (with links you can listen to), as part of an ode to mankind’s favorite balm for the over-indulger.

Songs about coffee generally are not celebratory, but are often quotidian, focusing on simple pleasures. They are hymns of reconciliation, of quiet mornings, of bringing things back to order. Not to say they are celibate–some cap a long night’s affair. Even the louche swinger in Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” apologetically tells his conquest in the last verse that he’s out of milk and coffee.

Via Metafilter (where they list a few that Locust St. missed)

High speed broadband – it’s the uploads!

December 20, 2005

Om Malik is wondering just how much speed we need when it comes to broadband.

After years of being stuck in the slow lane, the US consumers are finally going to get a massive speed upgrade and taste the true broadband for the first time. From a 512 Kbps world to 6 Mbps, then 8 and soon 15 Mbps…. it seems the future has finally arrived. And with that, the question…. how much speed is enough? Can we the consumers really tell the difference between 15 and 30 Mbps? Or is it just a way for the broadband operators to get us to pay more… for something which we might use less.

After a couple of months on Verizon’s FIOS service (coming from Comcast), I have to say that I agree — to a point — with Om’s position.
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VBox Cat’s Eye USB 3560 HDTV Receiver Review

December 13, 2005

VBox Cats Eye USB 3560 HDTV ReceiverI recently got an opportunity to play with the VBox “Cat’s Eye” USB 3560 HDTV (ATSC) Receiver.

The unit itself is very small — about 50% bigger overall than a deck of playing cards — and couldn’t really be simpler. It has a coax connector for attatching your antenna to, a USB connector that attaches to the PC, and a little stand to hold it vertical (should you so desire). In fact, outside of the USB cable and the driver/documentation CD, there’s not anything else in the box, even.

The good news is that you don’t need much else.

Throwing caution to the wind, I tossed the CD in the drive, attached the coax from my roof antenna, and plugged it in.
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