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I think that, starting with my generation, and during the rise of personal computing in general, there has been a sharp uptick in the number of people who were "born" interactive users of technology. There seem to generally be two kinds of technology users: actives and passives. Actives are the tinkerers, the hackers, the engineers and the problem solvers - the people who actually remix and rehash technologies and create new ones; passives simply enjoy the fruits of technology without bothering to try and understand its underlying principles (or at least the implications of the technology). Tech is just a means to an end for passives, while actives pursue tech for the sake of tech itself or some other higher ideal or pursuit. It's the difference between a person who watches television and a person who solders together a TV-B-Gone!

I often wonder where cybernetic enhancement will take people, and now I'm thinking of it in terms of actives versus passives. Put simply, the passives are going to find themselves in a very bad place; if cybernetic extensions of the body are not "owned" by the person who uses them, how can a person have any kind of self-determination at all?

This is truly the most important revelation of the open source movement that one can imagine - what would it be like if your eyes were produced by Microsoft, and were subject to automated upgrades you couldn't prevent (nevermind the fact that you get Blue Eyes of Death periodically)? Or what if your ears had an automatic killswitch implanted by Apple that turned them off if you didn't make your payments on time; or better yet, what if Sony got to determine what conversations you could and couldn't hear around you based on copyright laws? Censorship, technological monopolies, and freedom take on a whole different meaning when you're literally talking about YOUR BODY and whether or not you own it.

On the other hand, people who can hack their own minds and bodies will be the ultimate expression of enhanced humanity; and the actives will very quickly outstrip the passives in terms of their abilities and grow the gap between the two groups. And of course this isn't even considering the people who will refuse to accept anything more than the most passive cybernetic enhancements for various moral or religious reasons - I can almost envision a kind of cyber-Rapture where the people who can't or won't be active get "left behind" by the active folks, who basically have either lost the ability to, or no longer want to, interact with the passives.
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So maybe I'm on the right side of this trend after all... Netflix apparently has no love for Blu-ray rental.

http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2009/03/netflix-bumps-extra-blu-ray-charge-for-most-accounts-again.ars

Again, it seems that only HD mavens with lots of money can really do the Blu-ray thing.
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I'm wondering whether it's worth it to stay behind the trailing edge of adopting Blu-ray. I imagine that using this technology is very much a personal decision and depends on a lot of factors, but I suspect that there's also a demographic sweet spot that Blu-ray adopters are living in, and I think it's mainly a financial thing (i.e. having a lot of disposable income not destined for other forms of entertainment).

Though I am typically defined as a "techie" the hardware I use for A/V is woefully primitive. My computer monitor is way more advanced than my TV (a roughly nine year old 32" Panasonic tube which still works wonderfully well); I no longer have a DVR and only use cable for Internet access, I use a PS2 for a DVD player, and my DVD collection is quite small - mainly because I only believe in purchasing DVDs that I can watch over and over again. I once had a stereo and speaker set, but found that I never really used it much, so I guess I'm not really an audiophile.

Anyhow, when I think about going Blu-ray, the following confronts me: I have to create a whole new ecosystem. I'll really need to get an HDTV, and I'll have to get a Blu-ray player. It would also make sense to get a nice little sound system, even a cheapo CostCo one. All of that will probably be around $3500 after taxes, I'm sure. When faced with this up front investment and set up effort, I balk a bit. I pause and consider how much time I really spend in front of a television. I have no desire to buy Blu-ray versions of the DVDs I already own, if versions of them even exist, so what would all that new hardware get me? I can always set up Netflix to deliver me Blu-ray disc rentals, but how extensive is the Blu-ray catalog really; do the movies I want to see even exist on Blu-ray? Is having a home theater really important to me at all? I think the answer is "not really" and I think that's a function of the fact that I go out more than I stay in.

I am leaning very heavily towards just ignoring Blu-ray altogether, and solely relying on streamed and downloaded HD content (via torrents or Hulu or Netflix or iTunes). It gives Sony less of a foothold in my world, it's more economically and environmentally friendly (fewer things destined for landfills). I know somewhere down the line I will be getting an HDTV, but it will only happen when my TV dies or when I make another big move to a new residence (it's way too heavy to move again, too much hassle). Ideally, I would like my next TV to have wireless and bluetooth built in, and allow me to stream content to it via various sources. I don't really care about having a gigantic display - maybe it would just make sense for me to get a 30" Apple Cinema display down the road and just use that for everything? I just wish it were more "television-like" where I could just plug in component cables or s-video and have those things pump a signal into it...
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These are the three most critical things for the future of personal computing. Why? Because the next thing coming down the pipe is massive, massive processing power. Which is great! We can keep bending Moore's Law over all day long, and make humongous irons available in people's living rooms and offices. We can do all kinds of great calculations... but what are we going to do with all this calculating power?

People will tell you that the possibilities are limitless - with huge data sets, you'll be able to figure out amazing things and make predictions and perform calculations previously only available to giant enterprise computing teams. But here's the root problem: you can crunch data all day long, but where are you going to get the data from? Well, unfortunately, you're going to spend all day downloading that data from the "wonderful" intarweb0rs. Bandwidth is going to become a huge problem; you're going to have this awesome computing monster at your feet, but have nothing to feed it!

People are going to want to keep massive databases locally so they can do cool computing tasks - so storage is a key thing, but thankfully terabytes aren't that expensive any more. I'm sure we'll see 1TB drives as standard shipping options by next year, if not the end of this year. And the advent of solid state storage will also make accessing data faster, so that's awesome too. The only piece missing from this equation is faster networks! Sadly, the computer network infrastructure of the U.S.A. is pretty pathetic when compared internationally. If our country has any hope of competing, we need to get on the stick and dismantle the network monopolies, institute real competition, and get innovating!
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Flip video cameras.

These little guys are the "new iPod". They're small, they're cheap, they do their job - the form factor isn't as sexy as an iPod/iPhone, but people want them. They want them, they want to get nice resolution video in a small package, and this market need has been filled by a small company. Except now they're a big company, because Cisco bought them up big time.

Cisco gets video, they want to corner the market on portable video devices and push those bits over networks. So now we're wondering: where the hell is Apple? Apple's got this great iChat video conferencing thing going. They've got iPhones with still cameras, and those cameras can clearly be used as video cameras as proven by jailbreakers. Yet iPhoneOS 3.0 has no provision for this! Very, very strange.

Well, I suspect that they are working on a video camera of their own. Ars Technica reported recently on some new product IDs found in the iPhoneOS - the mysterious "iProd" may very well be an iCam of the Flip variety. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a touch device with a sweet camera built into it, with a zoom feature, and integration with iMovie and all that? Maybe you could even get a little case that puts them together like a clamshell, and have the two devices communicate together over Bonjour or Bluetooth, and THEN you could do video chat with the iCam pointed at your face, and your friend appearing in the iPhone while you talk to it?? Or have one device be a full screen keyboard, and the other just be a full display?

That's what I want to see. Apple, are you listening?
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I like big blogs, and I cannot lie.

Just a quick thought: Aggregration is the latest buzzitude on the web. Everyone's starting an aggregate prediction market, or a meta site that pools together weather forecasts or restaurant reviews, et cetera.

What's your aggregation idea? What information becomes more valuable when you collect it all up from all over the web and collate it in one place?
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So I had read that there was supposed to be this legislation or legal ruling or something that is supposed to be preventing cell phone companies from applying huge termination fees when you want to end a contract near the end of its term. Not so! It would cost me $175 to cancel my contract prior to 3/22/2008, a mere five weeks away. So I'm stuck paying Cingular/AT&T/whatever-the-fuck another fifty bucks. But it's canceled now, so they can just bite me.

Pay as you go and VOIP for me from here on out.
mik3cap: (Default)
Anybody want a zip drive and seven 100M disks?
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I just got the new online services, and immediately signed up for all kinds of stuff. I have a bunch of podcast subscriptions now. Awesome!!

Sign up for new TiVo stuff here
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This Cartoforge for Palm OS looks sweet. Makes me wish there were folks nearby to game with...

It also puts me in the mind of wanting to buy a new PDA. I've decided to move away from the integrated phone/PDA model due to disappointing experiences with the Treo (the refurbished model I'm using is now buzzing like a son of a bitch, just like the other one I had - not to mention the Orange Cancer) and instead get a high quality PDA and a high quality phone that can hopefully interact with each other somehow. I have done zero product research at this point, but that's the general plan. All I really want is the ability to keep phone numbers on the PDA, but pass them over to the phone, and maybe even save them on the sim card itself? I dunno. GPS on the PDA would also be awesome functionality. And I think I want to stick with Palm OS instead of moving to Windows.
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"This is a serious device?"

"Yes it is. That's Big Daddy."

"What the hell?? It looks like a space ship."

"Yeah... that's what it's going to feel like for that bull."

"Oh dear. It's like a tackle box from Amsterdam..."
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I woke up this morning with a wicked sore back. I'm really tired and kinda hungry... I feel a little bit better, but I'm definitely still under the weather.

In other news, dude, maybe we can use negative light to SEE THROUGH TIME.
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Happy shiny new DELL PC arrived yesterday. It came with Windows XP Professional... after 10 minutes of futzing, I managed to make it look like it should instead of looking like "OS for motards". And once again, I realized that Microsoft hasn't changed a damn thing with any of their operating systems except the cosmetics.

Anyhow, I am currently transferring huge amounts of data from multiple systems to this new one. And this one has a CD-RW, so I'll be able to conveniently archive my data for a change. Though I still haven't received my package of CD-RW discs from DELL yet, I guess because it had to ship separately. No matter. There's still plenty to do just moving files around and installing software and such.

In other news, the weather is shit outside. It's eight in the morning, and it's completely flat, rainy, and dreary outside, almost greyscale. Perfect climate for staying inside and playing with the new computer.

On the apartment front - Tom and I figured out the cable system last night and hooked up his TV to it. At some point I'll need to discern how TiVo will hook into this beast of a system. Digital cable officially has Too Many Channels (tm). I'm sure it'll be too much for my poor little TiVo, so I'll have to save up for a big old eighty hour Series II. This will be after I get a receiver to power my speakers though. And neither of these is going to happen until I have steady income... sigh.

I'm also looking at being in my first Shakespearean production come the end of March. It'll be "Love's Labours Lost" and it'll be taking place in Higgins House at WPI. I'm trying to convince Tom to join in the production with me. Round-table casting is going to take place this Saturday - I've never read the play before; are there any fans of the playwright out there willing to recommend a role for me?
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My phone lives! Hoorah hooray! Three cheers for Kyocera technical support!

Who would have thought that all I needed to do was delete my saved preferences file on my PC and hotsync again? Thank heaven it wasn't a hardware problem... *shudder*
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Currently finishing up the sorting, cataloguing, and archiving of six or so months of comics. Earlier in the year I finally got around to actually performing an inventory of my collection; I'm about to break 3,700 comics. I estimate I'll have over 4,000 comic books by next Spring, though that rate may change depending on extra stuff I might be getting (I currently get about 30 titles a month). I gots a big Excel spreadsheet with all the issues, titles, and which boxes I've put them in (up to 14 long boxes now, plus the two I keep ongoing collections in). Every once in a while I go through the Overstreet guide and add some prices to the collections of issues, but it really takes a long time to go through the book and calculate prices (there are 570 rows in the spreadsheet, and you have to price each of the issues and so on).

If I had to put a rough value on the collection? I dunno... maybe around $17,000 book value? That's probably a conservative number. Real value is whatever I could actually sell them all for; probably like $5,000 if I could get TE to buy them all, if they were feeling generous. Undoubtedly the overall investment in the books is somewhere in the middle, but at the moment I don't want to contemplate how much I've spent buying comics over the last 15 years.

I would never sell these books though. These books are probably my most cherished possessions, and I really hope to pass them on to later generations somewhere down the line. My original Sandman collection, my Invisibles, my JLA and Incredible Hulk runs... fifty plus years from now I want someone to read the books that I read and have the same feelings of wonder and excitement I did when I read the works of Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Peter David, Kurt Busiek... not to mention all the amazing artists... Sam Keith, Barry Windsor-Smith, Frank Quitely, Alex Ross, P. Craig Russell... I could go on and on. Comics are a wonderful, wonderful thing.

In other christ-I-wish-that-hadn't-happened news, my freaking smartphone died. Don't bother trying to call me, I won't get it. Some sort of stupid crash involving the wireless modem, and neither a soft or hard reset was able to sort the problem out, it boots up with a Fatal Error and freezes. Any data that was on there is so wiped - I had hotsynced like a good Mikey, but if the damn phone won't work, what's the point? And just when I was getting to become totally dependent on the damn thing too... grrrr FUCK!
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ROOT is entering this LJ entry from my Kyocera smartphone at the Saturn dealership.

GUEST is that I'm still here and that my car needs more work than I thought it would... fortunately, they're covering the part cost of the fuel pump which apparently is defective for my year and model.

Horribly interesting entry, I know. Sorry bout that - with luck something interesting will happen before dinner... :)

HAPPY UPDATE: Didn't have to pay for the fuel pump, which was apparently defective. Only paid about half what I thought I would for new oil filter, fuel pump, wiper blades, oil change, power steering fluid, and car inspection! Saturn of Worcester treats me good
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I continue to be on target with my changes in diet. I've never actually strictly regimented myself to a certain number of calories per day; that, combined with this really simple every day exercise program, is working amazingly well. I got a little application for my smartphone that tracks and graphs progress, and all the little dots are lining up nicely.

At this rate, by the end of next month, I will be at a weight I have not seen in about six years. By about the end of the Fall, I'll be where I was when I started college. By Intercon next year, I'll be at high school levels... and, should all continue to go well, I'll be at my target in April of next year. Woo!

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