I have taken the liberty of creating a chat room for LIVEdigitally. Lingr is a slick Web 2.0 site which, rather than having you download a client to use to create rooms, allows you to make, manage, tag, favorite, and of course hang out in your chats completely online. Instead of wandering aimlessly and putting up an actual review-type blurb, I figured it would be more fun to just make a chat for us and then we can all see how we feel, hash it out together, and maybe, uh…jam around ;D
Monthly Archives: September 2006
WarGames 2 announced – "Would you like to play another game?"
I don’t know about you, but the 1983 pseudo-classic WarGames was huge for me as a kid. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and still get all tense throughout. It’s been so big in tech-pop culture that the WOPR has a Wikipedia entry!
Amongst the rubble of 5 sequel announcements today (the craporama includes the following future TNT classics: Species 4, Into the Blue 2, Cutting Edge 3, and Legally Blonde 3), I noticed WarGames 2! Now this was rumored before, but this piece in Reuters seems fairly legit.
Only two words here. Mega-awesome.
That is, unless, it ends up being called WarGames 2: Joshua vs HAL9000
Funny Antiscamming Story
After being “dugg” recently, I checked out another peer-to-peer social bookmarking site called reddit, and found a link to this story of a guy dealing with a Nigerian scammer who found him on Craigslist. I was cracking up the whole time, and just felt I had to share. Has nothing to do with anything else here, but it’s just too darn funny. Enjoy.
60 Hours in Hong Kong
I was in Hong Kong once before in my life, but it was for about 90 minutes before I had to run off to the airport. Last week I spent two and a half days there (training the customer service and technical support team for HK-based sales of the Slingbox, it’s part of what I do), and while most of the time I was hard at work, I did get to see a few things. More importantly, I got to eat a lot of local food (at my insistence).
This first batch of pictures is from the drive from Hong Kong airport to the hotel (Sheraton in Tsim Sha Tsui, a central area of the city). Interestingly, there is only a single bridge to connect the airport with the rest of the city. One other thing you won’t really notice from the pictures is the unbelievable pollution – as we landed it was almost as thick as the fog in San Francisco!
I checked into the hotel (quite nice, by the way, I definitely recommend it if you head out there), then went out for a stroll. This is my typical ‘fly to East Asia from San Francisco’ ritual I use to try to get a little tuckered out and avoid as much jet lag as possible. The streets in Tsim Sha Tsui are busy in the evenings, with many of the local stores open for business. Tourist business, that is. This definitely the region to come if you want a cheap (fake) watch or hand-made suit, and about every 5 feet someone reminds you of that fact. “Rolex, sir, you want Rolex?” comes across a little funny when pronounced with a bit of a British accent…
One of my favorite food groups is, well, all food actually. But I definitely enjoy dim sum (when staying in San Francisco, check out New Asia in Chinatown. New Asia, for all your dim sum needs), and enjoyed a nice variety for lunch on the first day. For dinner, I was taken to another Chinese restaurant (both meals were had in malls by the way), where I had a very interesting variety of foods. The most interesting, but definitely my least favorite, was the fruit and lobster salad covered in mayonnaise. I’ll just say that the Hellman’s didn’t quite bring out the best in that dish, but the rest of dinner was very good.
I found the architecture of Hong Kong quite interesting, but unfortunately didn’t get to take enough pictures (damn Swedes, I was primarily using the 2MP phone in the HTC Mteor I was using – more on that in a couple of days). Tons of high-rise apartment buildings, literally in sight in all directions at all times. The newer office buildings all had a very futuristic Blade Runner-like look (no surprise, since the sets were partially based on Hong Kong). But the older building all looked a little decrepit and run-down. Interesting blend. By the way, you have to zoom in on the picture on the right – trust me.
On day 2 the whole team and I went out for dim sum lunch, and we had quite a spread. Once they realized I really liked Chinese food and dim sum, and realized I had decent chopsticks skills, they started egging me on to try just about everything they ordered. The quality of the food was great, with a lot more flavor and less greasiness than I typically find in American dim sum establishments. Although I don’t really think I need to get duck foot dumplings in the future. Mmm, cartilage.
We finished training at the end of the day (Friday) and before meeting up for dinner, I had about an hour to kill. They directed me to an area called Mong Kok, which is basically the shopping region of Hong Kong. Electronics stores on every corner, featuring a huge array of cameras, laptops, and, of course cell phones. There are actually 1.25 phones per resident of Hong Kong, and there are over 400 different models available for purchase at any given time (as compared with about 40 in the entire US). I also found a small street of tent-based merchants, selling a variety of different fake stuff, including shoes, clothes, purses, and watches. I picked up a nice replica of a ‘color dreams’ from Franck Muller.
I found my way back to the hotel via the subway system. One of my favorite things to do when travelling is take at least one ride on a local subway, I find it really gives me a bit more of a feeling for how people live in a given city. The plasma displays at some of the stops was a nice touch.
For my last dinner in Hong Kong, I was taken to the top of Victoria Peak. Unfortunately we left slightly too late to see the nightly laser show across the skyline of the city, but the view from the peak was amazing. We went to a famous restaurant, Cafe Deco, where I managed to stay awake through the worst part of jetlag (yes, it’s the third night) long enough not to face-plant into the great New Zealand lamb chops I was served. I was totally out (as predicted by my host) during the drive back to the hotel.
Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to catch the convenient (and free) shuttle bus to the Kowloon express train station. I was able to check in to my flight there, then a zippy train ride took me to the airport for the flight home.
One more thing to share with you (wow, can’t believe you made it this far!) was regarding airport security. I was in Sweden two weeks ago, and my flight home came via Frankfurt airport, about three days after the huge ‘shampoo+iPod’ scare at Heathrow. In Frankfurt I was told to dispose of my water bottle, and then let on the plane. In Hong Kong a team of about 40 people was hand-screening every single passenger and all of their bags. While they moved along quite efficiently, I couldn’t help but think how ridiculous it makes America look that we are so scared of someone getting on a plane with a bottle of lotion.
Doubly-so, since I walked on with my toiletries bag including toothpaste, shampoo, moisturizer, and conditioner.
Anyhow, Hong Kong was great, I’d really like more time to explore and take in the sights and all, but I guess that’ll have to wait for next time. In the meanwhile, please beware of stairs.
iRiver Clix review: sure it clicks, but does it click?
No there isn’t a typo in the headline for my review of the 2GB iRiver Clix, another portable media player trying to take a small bite out of the amazingly large pie that is otherwise known as Apple’s MP3 player market. I must say, whenever I get a new device to try out, I start off with some kind of desperate hope that it will be good enough to at least compete with the juggernaut that is iPod. For what I’ve seen to date, the Clix is close.
For a quick definition: the iRiver Clix is either a “portable media player” or an MP3 player capable of showing photos and videos (take your pick for which you prefer). It’s small (fits in the palm of your hand) and has a gorgeous screen. The most novel thing about the Clix is the fact that the screen itself is “clickable” – if you want to navigate up a list of MP3s, you actually click on the upper screen region. Sean Alexander has a video of using the Clix that really shows off the usage, graphical user interface (GUI), buttons, etc. One of my favorite ‘little touches’ of the Clix is the ‘hold’ button actually prevents the directional screen from being clickable while locked. Excellent touch.
Pictured above is the Clix in its standard carrying case, which is small enough to easily fit in any pocket. I really like the size and feel of the Clix, and also like the weight. In fact, it has the feel as if they intentionally made the device heavier than is needed, which I think is a good thing. I find the iPod way too heavy, and the Nano is way too light – the Clix is about the right size and right weight to do the job.
iRiver did take a few packaging cues from Apple. When you open the main box, every little piece inside comes in its own smaller box. Then, inside each box is an individually wrapped cable. While everything is recyclable, I’d really like to see a few companies take an environmentally conscious step ahead of the design curve and have a whole lot less plastic and paper inside.
The Clix did work extremely well “out of the box” and the first time I connected it to my PC, it immediately started charging and Windows recognized it as a “Clix” (even with a cute little icon). In fact, there wasn’t any plug & pray at all, it really worked exactly as expected. I had already upgraded to Windows Media Player 11 (now in second beta), so as soon as I selected to synchronize files, WMP appeared, all set to transfer media files.
Moving music and photos onto the Clix was quite easy. Drag and drop inside Windows Media Player, or for those who don’t feel like installing it (yet), you can also find your Clix as a drive inside My Computer (for the technospeak – it appears as a USB mass storage device).
When it comes to moving video files, the Clix wasn’t nearly as graceful. This is actually my biggest disappointment with the device and probably the only thing that prevents it from being a head-on competitor to the iPod. The device natively supports a few video formats, which didn’t include Windows Media Video, which is a must-have for me (see the specifications for the list of formats it does support). The company referred me to try a third-party (open source) software called iriverter. It too, unfortunately, didn’t work.
Once the files were moved over, I have to say using the Clix is a mostly satisfying experience. The GUI is very easy to use. I’ve tried handing it to multiple people tasking them to “play some music” and everyone figured it out on the first try. In fact, it’s almost fun to use it, even when you aren’t watching/listening to media. Without diving into too many details, the Clix media playback features are all the ones you’d want or expect, including queueing, playlists, rating, etc.
During the transfer, Windows Media Player automatically converted my photos into the right size (320×240) and created a folder structure on the Clix based on the photo folder hierarchy on my PC. So “My Photos > Wedding pix” was perfectly replicated on the Clix. This has a slight drawback in that it isn’t configurable in any way, so when I dragged in a folder deep into my My Photos directories, the entire hierarchy appeared as well.
In addition to media playback, the Clix also supports text browsing, Flash games (you can browse more to download here), has an alarm clock, FM radio, and a suite of other supplemental features. While 2GB might only hold a small portion of your media, I must say everything about using the Clix itself once media is tranferred is really a great experience. The only other drawback I had for the product is somehow the internal database in the unit I was using got corrupted. I actually had to do a whole ‘reformatting’ of the internal memory before I could use it again. This was an isolated experience, and easy enough to fix, but might have caused me more pause had I bought/unlocked a lot of music on the device.
For another detailed review, check this at Gearlive, or you can go to Engadget for a series of reviews. The size is right, the price is right, the product is good, the screen is great. My only caution is if you really want the product primarily for video playback, you may have to jump through a bunch of hurdles to get your files transferred properly. If you are looking for a really good iPod nano alternative, and your focus is more music/photos than video, I heartily recommend trying the Clix. Plus all the cool kids over at MTV are using it.
“Despite its wonders, the Internet can be a dangerous place.” Thank you, textbook. I learn so much. “..viruses are executable programs designed by malicious programmers–sometimes called hackers…” DANG NABBIT, THEY’RE AT IT AGAIN! Those malicious programmers…*grumble grumble* A friend suggested I write up a “smart-assed review,” but I don’t think it’s fair to judge a book by its first chapter, or rather Chapter 0. Yeah, isn’t that cute?
Taking “Great Ideas in Computing” (which makes it sound so dull) is my way of cramming a bit of computer science into the last semester of my college career. If I would’ve had some foresight, it probably could’ve been a double major, but as it stands, I’ll have to settle for a gentle overview. As much as I enjoy ridiculing our textbook, Computer Confluence, it really doesn’t seem THAT bad. Sure, Chapter 0 is essentially, “Here is a mouse; here is a keyboard! Computers! They’re important!” but I think we can all agree that having a little more than the typical tech “knowledge” (of say, the casual surfer crowd) has its benefits, and the rest of the book should provide aptly in that category.
This text is pretty much a more studenty version of the other book I read a good chunk of this past summer. It covers a similar range of topics, but on “three levels:” explanations, applications, and implications. It’s nice to have the context to soften the technical stuff. There is online support and supposedly a CD-ROM, but I bought mine used… Since it assumes completely noobage of the reader, the explanations are pretty simple. Our professor makes the concepts even easier to understand. (e.g. “RAM is like a bucket…”)
No, I will not be transcribing my collected weekly lecture notes for everyone. I may, however, post relevant essays. If I learn anything thrilling, LD readers will be the first to know!