Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The flood of mobile MP3 players is quite overwhelming. I have been surprised that I have been getting a lot of use out of my Tungsten E as an MP3 player. Or, more specifically as an OGG player. Using the free for OGG Aeroplayer I have been quite pleased with this combo and a 256mb SD card. I'm trying to decide if I want to update my aging original Zen music player to an updated model. For casual on the go use, I am finding the Tungsten E a surprisingly effective solution. The advent of Podcasting also allows me to listen to Leo Laporte's radio show on the go as well.

I did watch with interest the release of the new Tungsten 5 from Palm. It was a surprisingly lackluster release with many renaming it the updated Tungsten E. The most glaring omission is the lack of Wi-Fi capability. At a price of $399 it is too expensive for what it offers. When you compare the T5 to the new Dell Axim X30 at about $250 the T5 pales in comparison. The downside is that the Dell is a Pocket PC design. Admittedly, Pocket PC has matured and I'm tempted to pick up the Dell on a whim at some discount and start playing with it to see if it stacks up. The Wi-Fi capability would be quite fun. The downside is that the Dell has relatively poor power ratings. This could be the crux of the problem of why Palm One has been so tardy in releasing Wi-Fi products in their hardware. They may feel that the power consumption for current Wi-Fi circuits is too much to be practical. Maybe they will crack this nut in the near future?

Another advantage of the Dell is it is capable of being a portable video player. I haven't had much need, but I am slightly interested in this use. I have recently began using the Plextor ConvertX DivX compatible video encoder with great success. I successfully converted several rare VHS movies and videos onto DVD for future storage. Just this weekend, I decided to hook up the ConvertX to my satellite output to see how practical this would be for recording various TV shows. I chose to capture a recent airing of the final Farscape movie - The Peacekeeper Wars. While airing for four hours, after deleting all the commercials the program clocks in at under three hours. I was able to burn a DVD in record time from the capture and even used some wallpaper from the scifi.com web site for the DVD menu. The result was very satisfactory. One of the keys to this setup was using a power activated USB 2.0 extender capable of reaching from my TV setup to the back of my computer (about 25 feet). This worked flawlessly. I think time as come that I can finally retire the VHS video recorder that I haven't used for years. I now have a viable recording option for those times I need to record something.

I had been thinking of buying a cheap DVD recorder this year. The Chinese have knocked the price way down. The cheapest I have seen is at Wal-Mart for under $150. If they went to $100 I might get one for kicks. But the advantage I have with the computer recording approach is that I can easily edit material and build full menus, etc. I am also thinking that Dual-Layer DVD recorders may be just around the corner so the days of the current crop of recorders may be numbered. I also have read reports that the current crop of DVD recorders are pretty buggy. Sticking with the computer recording model may be the best course for the present.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

2004 is shaping up to be a very good year in musical releases. I'm just getting around to auditioning the new Smile release from Brian Wilson. Much has been written about this American musical legend. I've long held the Beach Boy's Surf's Up album as one of my favorites. A couple of Smile songs were included on that release. Feel Flows, a Carl Wilson song, is just outstanding. Sad that he passed away. Still, it is great that Brian Wilson has clawed his way back to be able to finally release his opus - Smile.
I've been very sluggish this week. Hard to know why. I have lots of projects I'm thinking about.

One project is to run some more wire for future network upgrades. Since learning of the Verizon Fios rollout in my neighborhood, this has taken a new priority. Running wire in an existing house is always a challenge although I have done pretty well so far. Additionally, I want to reroute my DirecTV feed. I've settled on a strategy. I think I'll run two courses of RG6 and two courses of CAT5. This should allow plenty for future updates as they come.

BTW, I scanned a web site yesterday that said DirecTV would be giving away Tivo like Hughes receivers to all their customers. I am a bit skeptical but it sure would be nice. I've had my current DirecTV setup for about seven years and it's been great.

I dropped by my local Tweeter on a whim the other day and actually had an intelligent conversation with a knowledgeable salesperson. Once I presented my hangups with the current HDTV rollout we found common ground and discussed all the latest developments. I have been pretty depressed about the state of HDTV but I am starting to see a glimmer of hope that it will eventually live up to its hype. Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy my analog Sony XBR TV. I'll keep an eye on developments. I do wish someone would start cranking out $100 ATSC tuner boxes. Eventually these will have to be made to facilitate the mass migration to ATSC. I don't understand why these are not available in mass numbers? The usual refrain is that most people get TV via Cable or Satellite. Still, there will be a market for these.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Just found out yesterday that the new Happy the Man CD comes out on October 26th. It's been a long time coming but it sounds like it is worth the wait.
Trying out iPodder today. This a way to syndicate audio content using RSS. I've downloaded a few feeds (Leo Laporte, etc.). I'll copy the mp3 files over to my Tungsten E SD card and give it a whirl at Starbucks.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The phrase of the day is "tinfoil hat" as in this story and this story. Conspiracy loonies rejoice!

[Listening to: Riffs - Roger Hudson - fingerstyle #54 (02:43)]