Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cameras embedded among LCD pixels

Now this is cool.  Apple has filed a patent for an LCD display embedded with tiny "cameras" within the pixels.  Since Apple is putting an iSight on the top of the monitors now, this could allow more natural looking video conferencing.

I wonder if this will be more of a privacy concern.  This post describes how someone could set up their computer to "spy" on whoever is in front of the computer.  It is easy to deter the this now, just by blocking the camera lens.  But when the whole screen is the camera, it will be less likely that someone will even think of doing this.

[via Engadget]

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NetNewsWire and NewsGator

I saw that the NetNewsWire beta has syncing capabilities with NewsGator.  This allows you to be able to read your subscribed feeds, even when you are not at your Mac.  You could have done this by exporting your subscribed feeds as an opml file and subscribing to it in a a web based rss aggregator.  The problem with this is that marking a article as read in one of the readers, will not make that same change in the other.

The NetNewsWire and NewsGator integration takes care of this for you.  When you start NetNewsWire it loads the state of your feeds from NewsGator, an then when it quits it uploads it back up.  I have found that this works very well.  The only feature that I would like to see in this integration is the ability to sync the "My Clippings" items as flagged items in NewNewsWire.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Simplification ... not so much

I know that I said that I was going to try to simplify things by getting rid of some hardware.  Well it seems like that is not working out as planned.

A couple of days ago, I noticed that all of the network speed that we were getting going to external sites was pretty bad.  It would fix itself when I rebooted the Airport Extreme.  I noticed that the activity lights on the WAN side of the Airport express were blinking like crazy.  I plugged my Linksys WRT54GS router between the cable mode and the Airport, and all of the problems went away.  I am not sure if this was happening because the Airport was spending a lot of CPU cycles on filtering traffic, that it was slowing down the outbound traffic, but everything is working now.

Also, yesterday the host running this site was down for several hours.  It seems that Tektonic is moving the management of the Unmanaged VPS unixshell#.  I am not sure if my VPS will move with this company, or even what the cause of the problems were.  But I do have the old server sitting in the garage.

Laptop love song

One of my friends asked me if I was going to get one of the new MacBook Pros.  Even though I would love to, I am happy with my 800Mhz PowerBook Titanium G4.  Then I heard "A Laptop Like You", and it sums up my feelings pretty well.

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I mentioned how the the TuneBase FM for iPod didn't fit my iPod when it is in my case.  When I returned it to Fry's Electronics, I picked up the Monster iCarPlay Wireless Plus for iPod.

I was unsure about how well this, or any other FM transmitter would work, with the interference from radio stations.  But it works very well.  I can hear the audio clearly, without much interference.  In addition to letting you listen to your iPod, it also charges it.

The one thing that I need to get now is a cup holder stand for the iPod to keep it in east reach. I am sure that someone make something like this, but I didn't see one at Fry's.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mac mini / Front Row suggestions

We have been using our Mac mini as a media center for a while, and even though I love it, there are some things that I would like to see added/changed.

  1. To be able to change the ratings of tracks.  On the iPod, which has a very similar interface, you can press select to get to a screen that will rate the song.

  2. To have a way to delete shows from a podcast, from within Front Row.  I often listen to an audio or video podcast on the train coming home from work, so I don't want to watch it again.  With out going into iTunes to delete that track, the only way for it to be removed the next time iTunes updates podcasts is to play the whole track.  (You can fast forward through it though)

  3. Just like iTunes downloads podcasts, I would love it if iTunes/Front Row would download all of the trailers into a local cache.  Our kids love watching trailers, and it is pretty frustrating when network bandwidth is not keeping up with the bitrate of the the high resolution trailers. 

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A while ago, I mentioned that Cocoa doesn't have built-in support for regular expressions.  Johnathon S. sent me an email about NSStringRegEx (header, code), which is a method that performs regular expression matching.  I like this better than a separate framework, as that seems like a lot of overhead.

The code itself has a Creative Commons Public Domain license, so you can use in all types of projects.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Forced TV Ads

Episode 124 of the Digital Experience podcast, mentioned that Philips has filed a patent that would force users to watch commercials.  Essentially, this means that there would be a signal in the video stream, that when sent a TV would prevent you from changing channels.  With a PVR, this signal would prevent you from fast forwarding past.

Even if other companies license this technology, I don't think that this will be an effective means for saving advertising.  I, as I believe most consumers, would explicitly not buy any TV or PVR that used this technology.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Firefox Flicks

I saw this video on, and I thought that it was pretty funny.

This is a user submitted video for Firefox.  It looks like the Firefox team has setup Firefox Flicks where Firefox users can submit videos and compete for $5000.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Code Monkey

I just heard this song yesterday, and I have to say...  I am a Code Monkey too.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google Calendar

I just checked out Google Calendar, and I really like it.  I think that Google could easily challenge Microsoft for the market of enterprise calendaring systems.  (One reason that I don't like Exchange is because that it is implemented on top of email protocols.  This causes problems especially when using a client other than Outlook.)

There are two related features that I would love to see from Google Caledar.

  1. Being able to subscribe to a ics caledar file.  With this, from Google Calendar, you would be able to collorborate with people using iCal and Mozilla Calendar and Sunbird.  (With the Mozilla products, you could also modify the calendar in Google Calendar.)  I just found this setting.

  2. Being able to export an ics file from Google Calendar.  This would allow you to import the calendar into those calendar programs.  (With iCal, you would be able to use iSync to sync the calendar with your phones/PDAs) I just saw this post that mentions that this is already there.

Update:  Since now the two things that I thought we missing, are there. I am definitely going to use this.  I hope now that companies will start using this as their corporate calendaring systems.

[via TechCrunch]

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Sunday, April 9, 2006

TuneBase FM for iPod

Ful1 F8Z049-BlkI wanted to get a temporary solution to listen to my iPod in our Odyssey.  This was only a temporary solution, because what I really want is an integrated dock.  Then I would be able to listen to the music on the stereo, and play the videos on the LCD screen. 

That in itself would not be a hard thing to do.  You could take the iPod universal dock, and wire the audio to the line-in on the stereo.  And then run the s-video to the LCD screen.  But this is is not the ideal situation.  I would want to get a headunit that would be able to switch between audio and video sources, and be able to direct the audio from the different sources to the speakers or the headphones in back.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

OS X's vnc server

Today, I wanted to finish copying all of our music files to our Mac mini.  I wanted to watch some TV while I was doing this, so I wanted to use VNC to control the Mac mini.  Apple has a built in VNC server, and here are some instructions on how to set it up.

One thing that I found out is that the built-in VNC server doesn't support any of the efficient encodings.  It looks like it only supports the Raw encoding.  On my mini that has it display set to 1920 x 1080i with Millions of colors, it is too slow, even on my home network. 

I am now using OSXvnc.  It supports all known encodings, except Ultra.  Now I can control my Mac Mini, without it being dreadfully slow.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Spam Cube Review

David Pogue did a review of the Spam Cube, for the New York Times.  Even though it says that it works with any Operating System, only Windows PCs running Outlook can train the collective Bayesian database.

I still don't know how it handles POPS and IMAPS.  Also, I think that it is deceptive that they state that they filter the mail in gmail.  This will only work if you use the pop3 access to gmail.

[via Engadget]

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Netgear Wall-Plugged Ethernet Bridge

Xe102I wanted to move the Airport Express back to the office to use it as a print server.  In order to do that, I needed to find a different solution to bring a network drop down to the living room.  I decided to go with the Netgear Wall-Plugged Ethernet Bridge.

The ethernet bridge is very easy to use.  You connect on of the to modules into an outlet near a router, and plug an ethernet cable into it.  Then you plug the other one into an outlet where you need a network drop.

Mac mini

MacminiYesterday, I set up the Mac mini as a media center PC.  I love this thing.  The FrontRow interface is beautiful.  There are some nice touches that I just love.

  1. Before you select a video, a preview of it shows on the left side of the screen

  2. Being able to view content on another computer is really nices as I have my podcasts subscribed on my laptop, but I can still view them on the mini.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

missing piece in vcard implementation

We just moved, and I wanted to use Mac OS X's Address Book's "Send Updates" feature to send the updated information to my contact list.  What this feature does is send a vcard in an email to the recipients. 

I got a lot of responses from this email, mainly stating that they received an empty email.  I then sent the contact information again, with a text representation of that vcard.

This shouldn't be this hard. Email programs don't gracefully handle vcard attachments, and they should  In general, contact managers handle vcards well, they can import and export to this format. 

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