Wednesday, December 3, 2003
There is recent discussion from Sean "Early" Campbell regarding the Gateway version of this product category.
This is a gadget that I'm trying to get sooner than later. When I described it to my wife, she even had an interest and gave a tentative 'go ahead' to the purchase.
In short, these things are a component for the entertainment system that will hook to your wired or wireless network. They are then able to access media collections (MP3, WMA, JPG, MPEG, etc.) from one or more PCs on the network. What formats are played depends on the particular device.
I've looked at more than half a dozen versions from Gateway, SMC, Creative Labs, HP, Prismiq, Linksys, and others. So far, I eliminated the Linksys and HP options for various reasons. The Gateway is still in the running, but the Prismiq seems to have the most going for it. I am hoping to see it in person to check out its features. Gateway is the only one that I've been able to see demoed (at the Gateway store, of course).
As easy as it is to get content onto the computer now and the likelihood that more will be there due to online music ordering, a device like this just makes sense. I'm not too concerned with the ability to play video, though; I figure that by the time I have a substantial amount of interesting video on my PC, there will be newer and better versions of these products on the market.
We'll have to see what Santa has in store this year!
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
I got one of those "Special" coupons in the mail for being a "member" at B & N recently. Now, I know that the additional 15% this provides over my regular member discount just brings the price of a book into line with what I would pay at bn.com or amazon.com, but there is the whole immediate gratification aspect of it.
Unfortunately, there wasn't anything compelling to purchase this evening. I will probably return and buy something before the coupon expires, but it's still a let down.
On the other hand, it felt like a third place this evening. First, my wife went with me this evening. Of course, she was able to find a couple of books to get, but nothing worth using my precious coupon on.
Second, Matt was working; I took a Calculus class with Matt and we ended up working on a team project together. He's always helpful and it was good to see him.
Third, I ran into my neighbor, Nathan. That was perfect since I wanted to talk to him about coming to our Christmas party and he had some questions about InFocus projectors. He is looking for some references on building database driven web applications.
Finally, I saw Austin from my C# class. We had a chance to chat over our final project and some general C# and .NET highlights. Many that are blog readers would know our instructor Scott Hanselman from his bloggings.
So, what this all ends up as is: despite not finding what I was after, I had a great evening at B&N. Once in a while, I suppose that we need to vary our 'third place' a bit. But I won't be giving up my usual anytime soon: Nonna Emilia Ristoranté
Friday, November 21, 2003
I had one of those moments of being pulled back a quarter century in life by a post form Peter Provost. Apparently, Brookstone is now selling an "EcoSphere" - Folks, it's more or less a sealed Sea Monkey tank. I can't believe that one could sell these for $65.
I suppose the nostalgia makes up some of the value, though. You can still buy the 'original' Sea Monkey gear at http://www.sea-monkeys.com/ (and I'm sure in the back of many magazines). Just in case you can't afford the Brookstone version.
Monday, November 17, 2003
Richard Tallent mentions the pleasure of using a 'PVR' for your viewing pleasure. I have to agree 100% with him.
We finally moved to satellite (Dish) this year and I popped for the PVR option. It has changed the way we watch TV. My wife, who is not the gadget-head that I am, even loves it.
I here some people say that they don't watch all that much television. I think those people will appreciate the device even more. Imagine that the occasions that you do choose to sit down and watch the telly, you get to watch your favorite programming. No more surfing all 200+ channels to find that there is nothing on.
and don't get me started on commercial skipping!
If you don't have a PVR, you won't understand the difference it makes to your viewing habits.
A couple of people have already asked for more information about the Kitty Litter Cake I made. Steve Bass, a columnist for PC World mentioned it in his weekly newsletter, "Home Office". It was just too compelling and I had to whip one up as a surprise for my wife.
She loved it.
Therefore, I shall now link to a picture of one (Bass', not ours) and to the recipe, also. I wish you well in your own endeavor !
Saturday, November 15, 2003
I read this blog from Chris Sells some time ago, but I can't get it out of my head: With digital distribution of movies to theaters, we could also make them available to home viewers, too. Probably not going to be as cheap as current PPVs, but for those of us that prefer the home theater to the public theater, it could be well worth it.
Love Movies; Hate Theaters; Windows, Take Me Away!
Have you ever wanted to find that certain special thing to say to someone? Ever here something and said to yourself "Wish I'd Said That"? Well, here is the site for you...
I first saw these slick little CSS menus back in August. Since I have started using dasBlog, I want to recapture the links here.
Easiest to reach: Mini-Tabs Shapes
Vertical version: Sun Report
Original version (?): Simplebits
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Boy did Mark get me reminiscing. As I blogged on Chis Anderson's entry:
Oh yes. I remember the Apple ][. I remember going to "The Computer Store" in Eugene, Oregon - I was probably 14 or 15 years old - to select the system.
I got the computer itself, two floppy drives (big bucks), the SilentWrite (I think) thermal printer, and a word processing program. All for around $3,200. Have we come a long way or what?
This thing had a whole 48K of memory! And you must note that there was no hard drive. Back then, those things cost more than the comptuer for just five or ten megabytes of storage. There was no way for me to get one of those.
Also, I opted to use an old color TV for my monitor. Not the greatest picture, but at least it wasn't that green letter stuff. It's probably because of that experience that I can stand to look at 1600 x 1200 on my 19" monitor.
I did learn how to program in AppleBasic, but I really started having fun in the assembly language (was that a 6502 processor?). I made a little program that allowed me to program a course for a spaceship to follow. It worked much like the old Big Trak (here, also) truck: go forward '5', turn 'left', go forward '3', etc. This provided an early exposure to algorithms (not that I knew that at the time) in the way the image was painted on screen. The 'second' row in the video memory was like the seventh row on screen. Then, once you reached the bottom, the second screen row was painted. I don't remember the details, but it took a while to figure out how to move one pixel up or down from any spot on screen.
This 'addiction' that I was fulfilling started at my junior high school, though. We had the OTIS terminals (Oregon Technology something or other) that provided a select group of nerds access to an amazing new world. These were paper feed terminals - not those cool green CRTs. There were games and the ability to program. We tore apart the code to the games and learned how to rewrite them for added features.
Of course, the school got the cool new Commodore Pets and had a computer class the year I went to high school. I doubt that I would have learned as much in a class, though.
After ninth grade, I decided to take a class at the community college titled: Structured Programming in Basic. That is where I became enamored with the TRaSh-80s and their wonderful cassette tape storage system. I knew that I wanted to be a programmer at that point.
Unfortunately, when I reached college age, I went astray and tried my hand at 'business' studies. Here I am twenty years later, back in the fold and trying to recapture my youthful knowledge.
Most of that knowledge that I gained in youth left me in the intervening years. The last three years of school (Software Engineering) have only had scattered moments of recollection to those days. It sure is fun, though!
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Bless the stars for governement holidays. Thanks to there being no school last evening, I was finally able to attend the Portland Nerd Dinner at the Lloyd Center. I knew that this would be a fun time, but boy, was I ever pleased.
For those of you that just don't understand the appeal, let me try to explain: You're twelve. You love playing in your little league baseball team. On this special day, you get to play and hang-out with your favorite Major League team. This is what it was like.
Now, I don't plan to go around all star-struck and such, but it was great to listen in to the Q&A in this group.
Thanks for the great time Jim, Chris, Rory, Kori, Richard, John, John, and Rick (including Janine (sp?) and Traci). I hope that I can make this a regular event.
And, BTW, when you visit Rory's entry on this, you will note that I was one of the Wiffle club people... I mean come on, I'm still in school for this stuff.
Monday, November 3, 2003
It finally happened. After months of keeping their distance form one and the other, our cats, Baby and Ninja finally were caught in a 'compromising' position.
It's great to see them finally getting close. Mind you, this picture didn't last too long. But it shows real progress!
Baby, our older cat, is sitting with Ninja, the younger one, lying in front of her.
Friday, October 31, 2003
I posted this link before I changed to dasBlog and wanted to repost because it is so cool.
I believe it was my sophmore year of high school that I took a typing class. I was pretty good at it and so was my friend Doug. Since we were always done early, the instructor would give us little picture drawing/typing projects (type 3 x 'i', then 5 x '-', etc.).
Well, that idea is back in a big way: Ascii Movies
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
What a pleasant surprise! I had heard that we MSDN subscribers would get a copy of the Longhorn and Whidbey distros from PDC, but the info suggested that it would be December before they were available.
I called in to place my order (per instructions at the PDC site) and they tell me it will probably arrive within two weeks! As if I need the distraction, but I am very excited.
I'm especially enthused to try out the Whidbey preview. That is where my heart truly lies.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
Thursday was the monthly meeting of the Portland Area .NET User Group (PADNUG). The speaker this month was Andrew Brust (his company site) talking about ADO.NET and XML.
Seeing as this is a subject relevant to my Señor project and I haven't fully explored the possibilities, I came right home and tried out some of the pieces that he demonstrated. Other than a small issue with Norton Internet Security telling me that I was being attacked from IP address 127.0.0.1, it all went off with out a serious hitch.
I am beginning to realize how much I would like to be using a Tablet PC at events such as this, though. There are only two months until Christmas - I wonder if Santa might win the $190 Million (Powerball) tonight?
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
All of a sudden, the blogsphere is bursting with the study showing how much more productive having multiple monitors is. I started using this over five years ago and can't imagine going back.
I have to agree with ScottH that nVidia's drivers seem to be especially good for this task.
I've had a 1600x1280 and an 1152x864 running for a long time. I just added a new LCD monitor for 1280x1024 and expect to add the smaller 1152 back into the mix after building up a new system.
In my setup, I will have the hi-res right in front of me, the LCD to the left and the lo-res above, center for 'monitoring' apps - IM, ActiveSync, Process Explorer, etc. Outlook 2003 is in front of me with browsers to the left. While developing, VS goes in front and extras on the left (Snippet Compiler, nUnit, debugging apps, etc.)
With the price of video cards as low as they are and monitors getting cheaper all the time (even the LCDs), it's time for you to give it a try.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
I attended a wedding reception last evening. A young lady that my wife and I have known for probably six or seven years was marrying her beau of several years. It was wonderful to see them take the step.
As I was moving around the crowd of mostly strangers, I suddenly noticed a face that I knew. Charlynn, whom I had worked with for some time at InFocus, and her fella were there. In all the time that we had worked together, we had never realized that we had mutual friends. This just struck me with such fascination. I couldn’t believe that I actually knew someone so well at this event.
I suppose that it also reminds me of what a small world it is. It was great seeing Charlynn.
Saturday, October 11, 2003
I'm about two-thirds through one of my favorite activities - rearranging my office. Ok, that was sarcastic, but the benefits to my personal productivity should be substantial, so I had to go through with it.
My home office space has been laid out pretty much the same for about three years - the time that I have been attending school again. I finally have reached a point of frustration over many of the inconveniences and had to rearrange. I’ve got my cable modem, router, and WAP hooked up so that I can get online with my laptop, but it’s going to be a little while before I have the big PCs connected.
As a bonus with this move, I have all of the makings of a new PC. Of course, until I’m done, I won’t have room to assemble it. But then, I will get to build up the new one, repave my previous to be a Win2003 server, and build up a new Linux only box. My former server will probably end up in a closet or donation pile. The old PII 400 just hasn’t got all that much oomph.
I formerly sat next to the window and could easily glance out to enjoy the day. Problem is that I didn’t have a wall next to me to post a whiteboard. As electronic as I like to be, I still enjoy getting down and dirty on the old whiteboard. This was the biggest driving force for the change.
Well, hopefully, by later today I will be wired back up. Then I can place the rest of the room’s furniture and start bringing all of the books back into the room. My wife will be glad to get them off the upstairs landing J!
Wednesday, October 8, 2003
I didn't even know this one was in production... how exciting!
We took a look at both enhanced requirements and Use Cases last evening.
Requirements need to be correct, specific, verifiable, and traceable. Some examples of BAD requirements would be:
- A useable system
- Lots of features
- The fastest performance
Requirements and Use Cases are not the same thing. A requirement is that correct, specific, verifiable, and traceable item in the list. A Use Case is more like a story of use. For example:
Use Case 1
The user chooses to add a new movie to a list. The system prompts the user for a movie title. After the user provides the movie title, the system searches its own db for the movie. If it is not in the local db, it requests the movies information from the "web service". Once the movie is found, the system prompts the user to verify the movie selection. The user then verifies and accepts the movie. Finally, the system adds the movie to the list.
- The movie is not found locally or through the web service.
- The web service is not available.
- The user does not accept the found movie as the correct one.
By no means is this a complete Use Case for the design that we are intending to do, but it provides some sense of how it should flow.
I was very pleased to see that the <<includes>> and <<extends>> concepts made it into the discussion. These can be invaluable in reducing the volume of information and the ability to comprehend the set of Use Cases in the system.
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