Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

Boca Raton, FL

Thu, 10/06/2005 - 17:47 -- rprice

I am going to visit my brother Eric in Boca this weekend. Google Local says it will take 3 hrs 16 mins to get there, but I know there will be construction and lots of rain rain rain. two dying hurricanes were hovering around this week, and there was a flood warning issued for most of South Florida this week.

My bro has been trying to get me to visit him since I got back in town, but I am going now for three reasons:

  1. I want to hang out with my brother in his natural environment for the first time in 5 or 6 years.
  2. I am building a world-class website for my bro, so he can promote things and build his evil empire.
  3. Eric works at the Apple Store, and he gets a family discount: hooray PowerMac G5!!

More news to come once things get a little more official.

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Griffin Technology Rocks

Thu, 10/06/2005 - 05:54 -- rprice

I was cruising around looking for deals today and I once again came across Griffin Technology’s iTalk voice recorder for iPod. I always wondered “can you ever get that audio of your device?” In the process of searching for the answer, I saw some other great products that make life easier.

iTalk - Turn your iPod into a simple monophonic voice recorder. This device has a built in speaker and microphone, but also has a mini-jack for mono input and one for standard iPod stereo out. I think this takes the term Podcasting to a new level. Also see the iFM that loses the mic in and stereo outs, but allows you to listen to or record FM (but not AM) radio.
Records to 8kHz 16-bit mono WAV files. Yes, you can remove the files from your iPod.

iBeam - turn you iPod into a flashlight or a laser pointer. Cheap and fun at a presentation.
$1999 (street $10)

radio SHARK - Basically, this is a TiVO for AM/FM radio. It comes with software to help you set up favorite shows and preset stations, and even has the feature that lets you pause live radio.

iMic - A simple USB preamp for $40. Need I say more? iMic supports both Mic level and line level input. It also supports line level output for connecting speakers or an external recording device. Great for music hobbyists and poor geeks.

SmartDeck - This is great. If you use your iPod in your car through a tape deck, you will love this device. It connects to the accessory port on top of the iPod amd iPod mini and turns your tape deck controls into forward, back, play, and pause. Automatically pauses iPod when tape playback stops (i.e. turn of the radio or change radio mode). Only $5-$10 more than a regular “car kit”.

TuneJuice - Backup battery for iPod that won’t bust your wallet. Takes a standard 9 volt battery. Boasts up to 8 hours of playback time like all the other accessories, even if it is not as sleek and player-hugging. Since Li-ion batteries take more power to charge from a full drain, gets more like 4 hours from a dead iPod battery. I personally would choose this solution over a $70 rechargable battery or a $30-$50 car power adapter. Well, maybe the $25 PowerPod wouldn’t be too bad.

Turntable Grounding Cable - For the vintage music lover, the Turntable Cable provides the classic left-right-ground input to a standard stereo mini-jack for attachment to your computer, iMic, or other input device. The grounding wire helps eliminate electronic interferance from your classic turntable. Griffin also provides free recording software with filters and equalizers designed to help you archive your vynil.

I doubt I would buy all of these products, but the the iTalk and TuneJuice are definitely on my list, and the iBeams are just so cheap, but I already have a laser pointer. Most of the other products are out of my price range, or duplicate functions of products I already own.

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Devices I’d love to see for real

Mon, 10/03/2005 - 18:23 -- rprice

Doing some random browsing, I came across a concept device showcase from NEC, makers of random devices we see everywhere. Here are the two I thought had merit:

Soft-shell mobile phone, AKA tag:

“tag” is a new, malleable, casual communicator. It is not only soft but also flexible, for example, it can be hung from a belt or wrapped around the user’s arm. Shape-memorizing material and multiple pressure sensors allow the phone to change its shape according to the mode. The user can also alternate the mode by changing the shape.

This is cool because of a few things:

  1. No more sitting on your phone.
  2. No more phones in pockets.
  3. Probably e-paper, which rocks.
  4. Flexible electronics, fun times!

For serious, this sort of thing shoudl just be possible now, and needs to be on the shelf. true flexibility of design. Sure, the iPod Nano is small, but it is still locked into a rectangular shape! When I can see a device in the shape of a football, or integrated into my hat or headband (imagine the tag with a bit of elastic strapped to your head). Where are the voice commands, too? I also heard about guesture-controlled devices, but we have yet to see them on the market.

A mobile PC with dual displays, AKA duo-pc:

We use our favorite notebook on the desk and in a mobile environment. Then, why do we have to have more than one PC? Using short-range wireless connection and COG technology, a laptop PC will have more flexibility just like paper. This mobile PC has a multiple-layer hinge structure that allows users to open it as one large display on the desk and to use it as a tablet PC and a book browser for mobile use. It adapts to users’ environments and situations.

A cellular phone with dual displays, AKA duo-phone:

“duo-phone” is installed with a detachable display, which enables users to enjoy a videophone in a more natural manner, and a photo sensor adapting the next-generation barcode. It is a next-generation cellular telephone that can be also used as a “duo-pc” mouse and remote control.

Both of these devices, albeit prohibitively expensive, are where I wished the current generation of smart-phones and laptops/tablets would be headed. With devices serving so many functions these days, why constrict the input to straight up buttons. Using the phone as the mouse is an awesome twist. The form factor is also really nice, taking up the amount of space of an actual notebook. This small of a design would almost force flash memory or microdrives. I would pay $5,000 for a dual-display laptop with a configurable input side and a second screen for utility. Tablet PCs are also left-handed friendly, since you can rotate the display 90 degrees in any direction.

Gadgets are fun, but these gadgets just simplify things.


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Paramount Shakes it up with Blu-ray Support

Sun, 10/02/2005 - 22:54 -- rprice

Posted from Yahoo! News (October 2, 2005):

Paramount said Sunday it will join a growing list of media and technology companies endorsing Blu-ray...Paramount will still market all its DVD movies in the competing HD DVD format so consumers can have a choice, company officials said.
...after an analysis of the cost and copy protection solutions available, according to a prepared statement. Paramount also said it was attracted by Blu-ray's storage capacity, which is five times that of current DVDs.

I think this just goes to show that Blu-ray shall overcome. The article also mentioned PlayStation 3 support for Blu-ray as a factor; Sony really knows how to market their new product. I bet the guys at Toshiba are chastising Uncle Bill over the lack of HD DVD support in Xbox 360. Too bad Universal Pictures, you were on the wrong side of the fence when this schoolyard bullying started.

I'm not sure though, how it is Paramount decided Blu-ray has lower costs. Everything I've seen makes it out that retooling factories leads to a big increase in up-front costs. However, if you think about it, more data on the disc (I think almost 60% more) means more content on a single disc, and a 2-disc collector's edition becomes a one-disc collector's edition. Paramount keeps the extra fifty cents. Not too bad, I guess.

Now that Paramount has joined the fold, are there any other big players to consider? Only time (and the news media) will tell.

UPDATE: Warner Bros. softens on HD DVD, says it’ll do Blu-ray, too - October 9, 2005 via Engadget


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Smithwick’s as a staple

Fri, 09/30/2005 - 21:18 -- rprice

I first had Smithwick’s Ale in the Arena (Ann Arbor) at a charity event to raise money for a needy Detroit school. Awesome that a bar and a group of college students in Ann Arbor would put together such a worthy and attractive benefit like that. Good food in the form of unlimited appetizers, and $3 beer across the board. My roommate Erin suggested Smithwick’s (pronounced smitiks), and it was a good beer for that setting.

I was quite into Yuengling at the time, so Smithwick’s was an interesting departure. Similar to Yuengling in color, body, and weight, Smithwick’s has just a bit more bite, and a little less of what I would say is Yeungling’s “fruity” quality. I have always said Yuengling is a good middle of the road beer, good for hops fans and American Domestic fans alike. Besides, Yuengling is cheap in the parts of the country where you can find it.

Both beers are not so filling, something you can drink repeatedly without feeling too wieghed down. Smithwick’s was $7.99 for a sixer at the 500 Beer Store, not so bad for some good flavor, but a $6.50 pack of ‘Lager’ (the colloqiual name for Yuengling in Pennsylvania) would have sufficed for the budget-conscious drinker.

Smithwick’s is made by Diageo, the same folks as Guinness, an Irish brew, and a fine beer. Fans of Guinness will notice there are no similar qualities to these beers aisde fromt the manufacturer, but a beer connisuer should check it out.

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Great White is Great Beer

Fri, 09/30/2005 - 21:05 -- rprice

Some time ago, for my friend Beth’s birthday (and her twin Garret’s), I went to the Lazy Moon pizzariea near UCF. Garret insisted that I sample some of his Great White, a wheat beer they had on tap. I rushed right to the tap to grab a Litre of said beverage, because I loved it. I had some again tonight in a bottle, and it was equally pleasant:

Lost Coast Brewery’s Great White is described as:

A Crisp beer with a hint of citrus, made with two-row malted barley, unmalted wheat, a secret blend of Humboldt herbds, crystal clear mountain water, and ale yeast.

Let me say this is an accurate description. The initial hit is fruity, followed by the WAMMY of wheat. People who have tried other wheat beers like Blue Moon will be surprised by the incredible flavor and body of this beer (no oranges or lemons required). A bit filling, but it is worth it. The only food I’ve tried this with is pizza, and I have to say that goes well, even for pizza and beer. I had some pizza rolls tonight, and had as good a time. It was also good by itself, but again, I wouldn’t be able to drink too much.

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New Supreme Court Justice

Thu, 09/29/2005 - 10:51 -- rprice

Posted from Boing Boing (Sept 14th 2005):

Five things I’d ask every Supreme Court nominee if I sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee

1. If you knew to an absolute moral certainty that you could capture and consume a live infant without being caught, how many do you suppose you could eat in a weekend?
2. Have you ever been spanked erotically by someone who was not your current legal spouse? Just yes or no, please.
3. Nominee, do you regard these slacks as accentuating my basket in an un-senatorial fashion?
4. Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about…your mother.
5. Kindly rise, and sing the 1979 hit, The Pina Colada Song, also known as Escape.

The new Supreme Court Chief Justice was sworn in today. The public opinion is very mixed as to whether he will kill democracy as we know it, or just be a good Chief Justice. The one story I read (and damned if I can’t find it again) suggested he would be objective and not let his religious beliefs get in the way of decisions. He is now the 4th Catholic Justice, whatever that means.

That’s what happened. That’s all I can say.

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Most Important Report Ever - New Server?

Mon, 09/26/2005 - 21:30 -- rprice

What is the pinnacle of your carreer? What defines the greatest achievement for a young entrepeneur like myself? How about writing a report for guys down at Wizards of the Coast? I think so.

I got a wierd random email from Erik of Unity Entertainment asking me how to access the web stats... I thought this was a little out of the ordinary, so I informed Erik that he would have to ask me at the exact time he wanted to see the stats, since I don't have instant control over stats.

In talking to Jeff one time, I was trying to explain that I have to query support every time I need new stats, and he said "Well, why not just buy a server?" I reply "Well, that costs $170!" He says, "As long as we could make money, then whatever!"

I think it would be a bad idea to go into business wiht a client to resell hosting and have to play sysadmin to bunches of users just because I was sharing profits with Mr. Jeff. No offense to him, but... no thanks, Jeff. The end of that is I will most likely be hooking up a Virtual Private Server pretty soon, and I will be getting a small chunk of a server that lets me control it like it'y my own dedicated server, meaning I get root access and i can run scripts whenever.

But back to the topic at hand. My special special report. It turns out the reason why Erik wanted to see the stats is because Wizards of the Coast was running a number of TV ads on Adult Swim with location-specific endings, like the Florida ones apparently advertised my client Unity Entertainment and MY website. SWEET! The goal was to prove that the advertising was driving traffic to the site, and that it would be profitable to run the ads again for future events.

WELL, I knew it would be pointless to start the report until Sunday, since the event was a Friday to Sunday thing. I emailed the dudes Sunday afternoon and asked them to run my stats. Then I got lazy and didn't check very often, so I went to hang with my friends for a little while. By the time I got back, it was after 1 AM, and I still had barely written any of the report. I spent the next three and a half hours cranking away at it, and then emailed it to Jeff, with instructions to wake me up at his earliest convenience. Around 10 AM, I get the call and the instructions to actually write something based on the data. I said "The advertising worked", and I got a pat on the back. Hooray. Now I get to charge Jeff for time well spent.

My report is going to be reviewed by the largest gaming company in the world. I mean, they are owned by Hasbro, and they own almost every major gaming license they could get their hands on, including Dungeons & Dragons. That is major.

I doubt you'll be seeing my name in lights anytime soon, but I feel special today.

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