Bluetooth isn't dead, it's common

This article over at Blueserker was quite interesting to me. Bluetooth has now arrived. When you can buy headsets in discount stores, it isn't a niche product. It isn't just for geeks. It's for everyone. I especially like the price trends lately. Bluetooth products are reaching price point where people can buy a headset or people can buy a Bluetooth mouse, just to play around with it, try it out, and see how they like it. Next up, Bluetooth enabled GPS receivers in truck stops along I-80.


Rock Out

So I finally got around to finishing a new mix. I'm not going to go as far as to say I am proud of this one, but I do enjoy listening to it and you might as well. It starts better than it ends. You'll have to ignore the slight train-wrecking in parts. I make no claims to being good at DJing, but I do have a lot of fun doing it.

This set uses a lot more vocal tracks than I normally include. It leans towards the rocking side of Prog and Breaks. You'll notice an Evil Nine and Marine Parade flavor to the set. This is not light switch rave type stuff.

Gardner & Thomas - Turn to Try
Trafik - Your Light
Infusion - Better World (Infusion Mix)
Freeland - Supernatural Thing (Adam & The Evils Remix)
Evil Nine - Cakehole
Moguai - Get:On
Phil Kieran - I Love You (Phil Kieran Remix)
Paul Jackson & Steve Smith - The Push (Far From Here) [Radio Edit]

Supernatural Thing, Cakehole, and I Love You are available on iTMS if you need to spend some free songs ;) I don't plan to leave the set up for long, so grab it while it is hot. If you know me, and want to save Ian the bandwidth, just ask and I'll bring you a burned CD or the .mp3.


Then We Can't Get Down

Evil Nine are easily one of my favorite groups right now. Today must have been Evil Nine day for me.

First, I was working on a new mix which happens to be very Evil Nine influenced. Look for more on that in a future post.

Second, I came across their video for Crooked, online. You absolutely must go watch the video. Talk about a head nodding track!

Third, I purchased some Evil Nine tracks off of Beatport. I've known of Beatport's existence since day one, but I've stayed away because I really don't enjoy buying music for lots of different sites. I like iTMS. I'd prefer to just do business with them. Evil Nine made me crack. I just had to have a copy of Crooked, and I had to have it now. Hopefully I haven't opened another set of flood gates. I already buy too much music.

BTW, Evil Nine's album releases (again) on March 29th. I can't wait.

I think we woke the baby up


Huey, Louie, and Mountain Dewey

My plan to reduce my daily consumption of Mountain Dew is proceeding as planned. I have established a baseline and as soon as the Pepsi/iTunes promotion is over, I'll start the reduction. Today, I tried something a little different. I replaced this Dew drinker's regular Dew with Diet Dew. Let's see if he notices. Hell yes I noticed. I honestly can't remember if I have ever drank a full Diet Dew. Today I did and it was not a good experience. That stuff is bottled ass! I swear I had the exact same taste in my mouth as when I leave the dentist, and that's not a good thing. I even had to add a third bottle for the day just to cleanse myself of the purgatory that is Diet Dew. Diet Don't!

So, the obligatory idea of the day. Pepsi comes in a full range of sugar pain. You start with the high octane regular, then the Pepsi Edge, then the Pepsi One, and then the Diet Pepsi. You truly do get to pick your poison. Dew drinkers have no such luxury. You either get the full caloric goodness or you get to drink spider spit. Where is my Mountain Dew Halfpipe? They make Dew in regular, Cherry, Orange, Grape, and some bastard creation, Baja Ass, they only sell at Taco Bell. Where's the reduced calorie, but non-sucky version? I smell an Apprentice episode!


Bring On the Auxiliary Displays

Many computer users today run a set of applications that is no longer requiring them to upgrade their PC every two years or so to avoid being frustrated at the sluggish performance. Now that I'm to that point, I look to how I can make my computing experience more enjoyable and productive, other than by buying the latest x.y GHz processor. Notebook PCs are one of those categories that improve the experience, but there are plenty of times that I don't need the keyboard and notebooks are far too expensive to be add-ons for most folks. I already have the computing horsepower in my desktop. I just need to untether it.

Last August, rumors started to fly about a "Wireless Display" that was in the works from Apple. This product class is very interesting to me. The idea of the Wireless Display is that the "computer" still resides in your desktop machine. The Wireless Display isn't much more than a display, battery, wireless connectivity, and perhaps a touchscreen. This is like the tablet computer class, but without the processor, seperate RAM, hard drive, and optical drive. The goal is to be able to control your main computer from this display and keep the display cheaper than buying a notebook or tablet computer which can be used to run remote desktop software.

I have also noticed a trend in "burst information" lately. I define burst information as those little notifications and tasks that are accessed frequently, and for short periods of time. Examples of burst information include:
* Email notifiers
* Instant Messages
* Meeting reminders
* Stock quotes
* Weather

Steps have been taken to improve burst information. For instance, many apps now have windows that slide out of the task tray, but burst information is still one of the primary distractions and productivity killers in today's busy lifestyle.
I'm certainly not the only one to notice this trend. More likely, I'm noticing it because of the actions of the big guys in the computer world. For those paying attention, the writing is on the wall. Microsoft is pushing their Smart Personal Object Technology [SPOT]. Today this exists on watches, but I see potential in them directing this technology to other displays.
In fact, Microsoft is calling on developers to bring apps to this platform. Apple is also trying to seduce developers with design contests for their new Dashboard technology.

Now, finally to my point. I want auxillary displays. These displays can be of varying size. Some may be monochome. Some may be full color. Some may be tall. Some may be wide. Some will have touchscreens. Others will just be screens. To make this happen, we need two things, hardware and software. The hardware won't happen without the software. The software could be SPOT. It could be a flavor of Dashboard. Most likely it will have to be something beyond what we have so far.

I did some playing and created a concept of a high end aux display. Again, nothing real ground breaking here, just evolutionary changes to existing products. Take the widescreen off of the 15" PowerBook, slim the bezel, add a touchscreen, add WiFi, add a video card, and add a fat battery. Click on the concept picture to see some further notes. Toshiba recently wsa showing off a concept similar to this.

Think of all of the things you could put on your aux display. Here are a few:
* Stock quotes (every computer tech must involve stock quotes)
* iTunes remote display with full album art - How cool would it be if you could glance at the wall in your favorite club, resturant, karaoke bar, or cycling class and see the full details of the music you are hearing?
* Vendors and presenters at conferences and expos could display more live information with less wiring and fewer computers to run the displays.
* Live picture frames - These already exist, but they are never a complete solution. They often have their own storage, require subscriptions, and some require you to upload pictures to a website. Why mess with all of that? You could just have a button in iPhoto that sends an album to that aux display. This isn't a stretch. We already have that exact button in iTunes to send the music to an aux sound output, the Airport Express.
* Weather Displays
* TV Lineups for the evening

I wouldn't expect seperate screens for all of these things. I would want a way to time share the device, either automatically or with a controller attached to the aux display. Obviously this could get very expensive, and I'm already hearing the chants of read a newspaper.


Good Control Not So Remote

Harmony Remote 880
Do you remember my whining about what makes a good remote? Well, Logitech has nearly granted my wish.

My buddy Nick has a Harmony remote and he loves it.

Color screen - check
Rechargable - check
Programmable - check
Download from Internet - check
Limited number of buttons - check
Durable - maybe
Not IrDA - no, but they can't do much about that until the electronics manufacturers wise up

$250 appears to be the damage. If I didn't love my Marantz remote so much, I'd order one up right away. I'll keep this in mind though.

Rules of the Purchase

I'm currently steaming from the latest round of Slashdot idiot posts regarding DRM. I figured I'd cool down a bit by putting to digital paper my rules of purchasing music from the iTunes Music Store.

I buy music that is...
1. Music that is no longer in print or extremely hard to find in physical form.
2. Music that is only available at import prices. $10 is far better than $27.
3. Individual songs that I know I like and know I don't want the whole album.
4. Individual songs that I am exploring from artists that are unfamiliar to me.
5. Music that I can only find on iTMS or big city record shops which I don't get to often enough.
6. Music that I must have, right now!

Also for the record:
Do I like DRM? [Shaking head side to side] Noooooooo.
Do I understand why it is necessary on iTMS? [Nodding head] Yessssssss.
Do I feel that the "rights" that iTMS grants me are reasonable? [Nodding head] Yesssssss.
Do I wish I had the ability to sell, or transfer ownership, of purchased songs? [Nodding head] Yessssss.


Who won?

March madness is upon us. A week ago I woke up in a cold sweat thinking, "wow, it would be cool if I could get the tournament scores on an RSS feed". So how about it? Anyone know where I can get such a feed? All I can find is NCAA Men's Basketball news feeds. All I want is the final scores (half-time scores would be nice). I know Yahoo! had something last year, but I did some digging today and didn't see it.


Bottled Anger

An updated "Bottle Bill" is in discussion by Iowa's lawmakers. For those just tuning in, Iowa is one of the 8 states that takes a deposit on certain beverage containers at the time of purchase and then returns that money when the container is returned, at least that's how it works in Iowa. It's quite possible other states do it a bit different.
Today, you deposit 5 cents and you get back 5 cents. The new bill looks to take 1 cent from the 5 you'd normally get back and give that to the redemption center that is handling your return. They say this is because the redemption centers can't make back the costs of being a redemption center and at the same time, being a redemption center is unsanitary, loud, and space consuming. You know what? I believe them.

The can redemption program is fully self-funded. It processes 1.5 billion containers a year, which adds up to 75 million dollars getting handed around. In addition, 15 million comes from beverage distributors. That's 90 million dollars. Nothing to sneeze at.
At the time the Bottle Bill originally went in to effect (1978), it probably was a good idea. Recycling centers were nearly non-existant and people didn't have the concern for the Earth that they do now. Who am I kidding, people still don't care, but I digress. In addition, 15% of beverage containers today, including bottled water and juices, are of
the variety that do not fit in to this program. That's a hefty chunk.
Certainly if people must be motivated by money to not litter, these non-program containers would be all over our roads, but they really aren't. I've participated in Iowa's adopt-a-highway program about 5 times. I've spent Saturdays picking up junk. I honestly can't say that I picked up more juice bottles than I did Pepsi bottles. If we are going to keep this program, let's add in that 15% of beverage containers that isn't covered. But what about the other percentage of containers that aren't beverage containers? Why don't we have programs for those? Ohh wait, we do, it's called curbside recycling.

My point is, I think the whole idea of returning cans to the store is past due. We have curbside recycling now. In fact, 600 communities in Iowa have it now.
Why don't we just ditch this can return nonsense and sink the $90 million in to improving existing recycling programs? According to the Iowa DNR, 500 containers per person per year are returned. That calculates to $25. I know my total is far higher than that, but I think I'd tolerate $25 more in taxes to not ever have to take bottles back to the store. I already recycle. Just let me keep doing that and get rid of this extra process for these "magical" beverage containers.

Proponents of the bottle bill like to point to the number of jobs the program has created and the energy that is saved by creating new bottles from all of the recycled ones. That's fantastic. This will still be true if we
switch to curbside recycling for beverage containers. The stuff still needs
handled, so now the high school kids will work for a state or city recycling center instead of Hy-Vee. The containers still get recycled, so we still save all of the energy.

From recent protests and public posturing by grocery stores and other redemption centers, it's obvious that they don't want to be in the business of turning aluminum in to nickel. Let's take that energy and reapply it to state and city recycling programs.


Six Degrees

Boy it's quiet out there. I'm going to lay it out there and see if I can get some crowd participation up in this mother. We've all heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? Well, if you don't know, you better ask somebody.
Well, I like music (not necessarily from the artists we'll use in the game), so let's play the game with a music influence. For starters, let's link Tupac Shakur to Justin Timerlake. You've got six links, but you get bonus points for less. And, no, I haven't done this yet, but I'm sure it can be done.

Ready go.


Alias on ABC used to be a show I enjoyed. The last two seasons have really turned me off though. The double, triple, ocho crossing is way out of hand. It's as if they've run out of ideas so they just keep bringing back the same characters with recycled plots. My wife still enjoys the show tremendously, so I "watch" it in the background while doing other things. Ok, enough bashing of the plots of the Alias show. That's not the point of this post.

What I'd like to discuss is the Ford emphasis in Alias. If you haven't noticed (how could you not), Alias is sponsored by Ford. They have Ford commercials at the breaks, "Sponsored by Ford" messages when the show is starting up again, and a plethora of Ford vehicles throughout the show. Now, I really don't have a problem with all of that. I don't even mind the vehicle placement in the show. Anyone remember that Viper show on NBC? It can't get much worse than that. In the end, anything that gets us closer to content with no commercial breaks is ok by me.

The thing that really got me this week, was the apparent Ford politics inserted in to the episode. As I said, I wasn't really watching the show, but I was listening. Next thing I know, Sydney and her "family" are sitting around having dinner and they bust off in to an out of place discussion about hybrid vehicles and how they are the future. Hybrid vehicles? WTF does that have to do with tracking baddies? Then it registered. I think that scene was in there just to bring hybrid vehicles in to focus as it were.

I'm all for hybrid vehicles. We nearly bought a Toyota Prius a couple of years ago. Now, Ford is finally throwing their hat in the hybrid ring and I guess pimping hybrid technology on Alias is part of their plan to build market share. Maybe this subliminal shit will help, but maybe folks will see through this and not appreciate being preached to in a show that they are watching to be entertained. In the meantime, be sure to drink your ovaltine.


Wrist Top Data

My daily "cargo" is pretty limited. I carry a wallet, car keys, and, unless I forget to put one on, a watch. I don't own a cell phone. I don't want a PDA. I'd like to carry my bucktool, but the number of times I'd actually use it lose out to carrying the damn thing around all of the time. As you can see, it takes a lot to earn a spot in my pockets.

For Christmas, I got a flash drive. That's a good thing, I'd been wanting a flash drive. The problem is, like the bucktool, the flash drive is bordering on too much for me to carry for the number of times I use the thing. It's great to have when you need one, but I still hate that I have to plug it in, and it's not as small as I'm sure it will be in a year.

That got me thinking to how I could still have a flash drive, but not have to add to the mass of my key chain.
The first idea, and possibly still a good one, is to lose my ignition key. How will I start my car? Well, I already have the keyless entry dongle, so why can't that thing start my car. I guess I don't see the value in a separate physical item to start my car. If someone is already inside the interior of my vehicle, they already can take it, so what does having a key prevent? So, the first solution is to ditch my ignition key and keep the flash drive. Right or wrong, I don't think many folks are going to dig this idea, and maybe I don't either once I start to think about times where I would want people to get in to my vehicle but not start it (child getting a soccer ball out of the truck).

The next thing that came to mind is my watch. The watch is already one of the physical things I carry with me. If I could add utility to it, I don't add any items. Now, there are data watches out there, but you're drunk if you think I'm going to pull a USB cable out of my watch. Microsoft is also heading this direction with their SPOT watches. Do you think they'll ever add a wireless interface? That way, I don't have to have a cable. I don't have to crawl on the ground to plug in the flash drive. I don't have to take the watch off. If only there were a low power technology meant to replace cables (cough *Bluetooth* cough).

So hopefully this Bluetooth watch that someone is going to build me isn't going to be huge. Then again, it can't be any bigger than the tuna can I already wear. Suunto doesn't call them watches. They are wrist-top computers. Kind of like garbage men are waste management engineers I guess. [No offense to garbage men intended] Anyway, Suunto's exercises in excess already are computers, so pop a Bluetooth stack in there (cough CSR virtual machine cough), add some flash storage (1 gig please), and tell me where to buy one.

My pockets will end up lighter, not only because I lose the flash drive, but because I'm sure this thing won't be cheap.


Does Blockbuster Sell Used Cars?

Did Blockbuster bite off more than they could chew? I scampered over to
their site just now and found an interesting statement on their online sign up page.

Sign Up Today To Guarantee Your Price Through January 2006*

What's that all about? Hurry up and give us your money before we complete the bait and switch? Netflix did raise the monthly price on me once, but then they turned around and made it far cheaper than it was when I first signed up. Netflix might win this war yet.