Archive for April 2006

Yahoo! Offering Free Meedio DVR Software

GigaOM — Yahoo, Now Offering Free Meedio DVR Well you read about Yahoo! buying most of Meedio’s DVR technology to integrate with their GoTV initiative here last week. Now it looks like, according to Om, Yahoo has begun quietly offering the Meedio software itself for download free of charge.

I haven’t tried it yet but will have to check it out. Still, when Media Center is so cheap, and ships as the default operating system these days with most new PCs (and this download is only available for PC users, sorry Appleheads) from places like Dell, you have to wonder about the demand for Meedio. I mean wouldn’t most of the PCs with TV tuners in them these days already have Media Center installed?

It would seem to me that HDTV will be a big driver going forward. Microsoft has announced that there will be CableLABs certified Vista PCs due out with Vista (early next year). DirecTV/TiVo already has a HD DVR out and TiVo’s Series 3 Standalone DVR which will record premium HDTV is expected due out the second half of this year.

What is Meedio/Yahoo’s strategy for tapping the premium HDTV market?

Dave Zatz has some of the screen shots on the service here. From the screen shots that I’ve seen so far I think I’ll be sticking with Media Center for now, but to be fair I will try and test the software out when I’ve got more time. I just don’t see what Meedio gives me beyond what I already get from Media Center which is pretty darn stable these days and has at least given us a road map to how/when they will be offering premium HDTV and with a new beta of Windows Media Player 11 coming out shortly to improve the music library issues on XP. Perhaps if you don’t have Media Center this might be an option.

It does have Flickr and all, which is very cool, but I can use Slickr pretty effectively to incorporate Flickr images easily into my Media Center set up(feel free to test Slickr out with your favorite photographer, Thomas Hawk, by the way!).

Update: Eirik Solheim has given the software a spin first time out and comes back with less than a positive impression:

“Uh-oh. This is crap. It’s at this point I understand that this version of Yahoo! Go for TV does not deserve more of my valuable time. No possibilities for local content from multiple drives. I did not find any way to set up my remote. No flexibility regarding the theme. Actually I didn’t even find a way to change my music directory after finishing the wizard for the first time.”

Water Works, Part Two

Water Works, Part Two

Warning

Warning

The Bill the Hollywood Cartels Don’t Want You to See

IPac – Blog: Seems like lawmakers would rather give the FBI $20 million to persecute more grandmothers with file sharing software on their computers than to go out and fight real crime, like, oh, maybe terrorism?

Bob Schneider at The Independent

“i’ll tell you a little story that happened to me
you see me and robin were cruising down the street
in the batmobile with the lights turned low
a six pack on ice so we were ready to go
the batbox blastin out our old theme song and robin kept on passin me a serious bong
i took a couple of hits the next thing i know
this cop pulls me over to the side of the road
he said, “yo what’s yer name boy. god damn you look like a slob!”
i said, “i’m batman but you can call me bob.””

Bob Schneider, one of my favorite Austin based musicians, is headed to the Bay Area. Although I’ve never seen Bob live I’ve seen him perform on Austin City Limits and he’s got a great show and a great sound.

One of the things I like a lot about Bob is that he uses his website to share his music. If you go to his website he has his various albums up online there and you can listen to his music. I think that having this kind of a resource for musicians is a great way for them to share the music and get people interested in seeing them live as well as in later purchasing their music. In the music industry today where everybody is super paranoid about having their music out there it is refreshing to see Bob’s site make most all of his recordings available for streaming listening. I know that being able to check an album out prior to buying is a good thing and if the music is strong should do more to help sales than hurt them.

Anyway, I’ve received approval to photograph the show as well, so if you are a Bob Schneider fan you’ll want to check out my flickr set of the show that I’ll post after the concert.

The upcoming.org listing for the show is here.

Well Momma Always Said You Should Marry a Doctor

Find Medical Professional Singles at the Worlds Largest Online Dating Personals Service Well there certainly are many different flavors of dating services online but the latest one out seems to take seriously mom’s old advice about marrying a nice doctor type. Medtogether bills itself as the “first site geared towards connecting Healthcare Professionals.”

Man, imagine if Doctor Michael Mancini had this tool back at Melrose Place. He would have been out of control!

The Personalities of the Photo Nerds

::HorsePigCow:: life uncommon: The Flavors of (photo) Search Tara Hunt has an interesting post where she talks about Riya’s future and how best to implement various search features into their photo sharing site.

Along the way she analyzes and complies personality profiles on the types of people that use photo sharing sites and the social networking tools that they provide. Each personality type seems to be motivated by different things, but all are strongly drawn to the concept of sharing, photos, each other, etc.

I found myself certainly identifying with these concepts of photo sharing personality types through my own interaction with flickr. Her 10 online photo sharing personality types include: the Explorer, The Aficionado, The Social Butterfly, The Researcher, The Cultural Anthropologist, The Personal, The Designer, The Newshound, The Lurker, and The Perv.

I think I’d classify myself as an Aficionado:

“Aficionados have a seriously amazing eye for a good photograph. An Aficionado usually takes amazing photographs him/herself and appreciates (sometimes with envy – “Doh! Why didn’t I catch that shot?!”) others amazing photographs. Aficionados travel in circles together. This type is serious and usually carries a serious camera with serious lenses. Aficionados pay a great deal of attention to their art form and will spend many hours ‘exploring’. Just like The Explorer, they love to uncover gems, but they are much more likely to interact with the photographer they admire.”

I suppose in building any sucessful online photosharing site it’s important to look at who is using your product and why and what Tara’s post points out is that many people use photosharing sites in many different ways for many different reasons.

TiVo History 101, How TiVo Built the PVR

ACM Queue – TiVo-lution – DVR services have taken off in recent years. TiVo’s cofounder discusses the method behind the magic. Jim Barton, Co-Founder of DVR favorite TiVo, has written an excellent write up on the history of TiVo.

In the article he addresses what their initial challenges were as well as why with the collision of cheap hard drives, cheap chips and the advent of open source software TiVo was able to breath life into that magic little recording box.

Central to TiVo’s intial goals were that their PVR be “simple, reliable and easy to use.” And here TiVo has succeeded. More than any other PVR I’ve ever played with (and especially in contrast to Microsoft’s more ambitious Media Center PC) TiVo has a lock on simplicity and reliability.

It has been a very rare day that I’ve ever had to reboot my TiVo vs. frequent reboots from my Media Center PC.

Barton puts it this way, ” It just works. This means that the product itself should always work as expected. No surprises. No ambiguity. Not “works most of the time.” Not “mostly works.” It just works. In the consumer experience, if something doesn’t work right the first use, it is usually abandoned. So you need to get it right the first time.

Remember, it’s television. Everybody knows how television works (even those who claim not to watch it). Television never stops, even when you turn off the TV set. Televisions never crash. You never need to reboot your television. Television always has perfect lip-sync.”

Barton also writes about what he calls the “Soul of the a DVR”:

“The soul of a DVR is remembering things: when shows come on, what channels a user receives, how long shows should be kept around, and so on. Remembering has to occur reliably, even when the power can drop at any time and the receiver may be offline for days or weeks.

The number of things it needs to remember is enormous. A subscriber using a satellite receiver can potentially receive 1,000 channels; stretched over 24 hours a day for 14 days, this is a lot of program information. Obviously, this data could always be re-acquired from the service; however, that process would be expensive and time-consuming, and it would be visible to the subscriber.”

Although the article doesn’t really address some of the largest challenges ahead for TiVo (Series 3, HDTV, etc.) it is an excellent primer on where TiVo has been and worth a read for those interested in the technology.

Maker’s Faire, A Good Time Was Had by All

Well hats off to Phillip Torrone and the family at Make Magazine for pulling off one heck of an innagural Maker Faire. And what a great event for the kids! I brought my four down there and it seemed like half the attendees were kids.

Phillip Torrone, Make Magazine
Make Magazine’s Phillip Torrone

There were so many hands on experiments for the kids to get involved with. Rocket building, robot fighting, high speed photography, rubber chicken launching, dunk tanking, and the list goes on and on. The folks from The Crucible were there launching fire into the air. Flickr kittens George Oates and Heather Champ were shooting photos next to larger than life sized babies and cats along with a slide show of 300 of Flickr’s most interesting photos.

I ran into Robert Scoble who was there with his son Patrick as well as Laughing Squid pal Scott Beale along with wife Lori and Violet Blue from San Francisco Metroblogging.

There were trains, planes and automobiles, the world’s biggest iPod, Segways, the largest train I’ve ever seen made of leggos, all kinds of things made out of bikes (windmills, horns, ferris wheels, etc.). There were classic pinball machines, perpetual pinball machines and pinball machines that once again reminded you that pinball has historically been mostly marketed to adolescent boys.

Robert and Patrick Scoble
Robert and Patrick Scoble.

I do have to say a special thanks to the folks at Make Magazine for making this event so accessible. First off kids were free — which is huge. Kids appreciate this kind of event more than anyone and by making it affordable for families to attend Phillip and team desere a big round of applause. Second, at $7 a head for adults the thing was still very affordable. Mind you this was a full fare production at the San Mateo Expo Center. $7 for this kind of entertainment was super appreciated.

The other thing that I really appreciated about the event was the spirit of the exhibitors. For once it was nice to go to a Faire type of thing where everybody wasn’t just trying to sell you something. The various exhibitors were generally interested in what they were doing and especially seemed to have a great spirit towards involving kids.

It was also great to see a lot of the big folks embrace and event like this. There were folks there from Microsoft and Yahoo! and Six Apart.

Laughing Squid's Scott Beale, SF Metroblogger Violet Blue and Lori Beale
Laughing Squid’s Scott Beale, SF Metroblogger Violet Blue and Lori Beale.

Flickr Kittens, George Oates and Heather Champ
Flickr Kittens George Oates and Heather Champ

My son Jack said his favorite exhibit was the dunk booth. Then I reminded him about the robots that he got to control and he said, oh yeah, no, that was my favorite. My favorite was from the good folks of quaketronics.com. They had a fantastic exhibit demonstrating high speed photography. Basically they have a contraption that via a loud sound (popping balloon) triggers a strobe which allows you to use long exposure to capture high speed photographic images. Here’s a link to their set on Flickr. My kids had a great time popping those ballons in the dark.

High Speed Photography, Maker's Faire 2006
My son William popping a balloon in the dark at the high speed photography exhibit.

You can check out my complete set of photos of the event here. Also for more photos you might want to check out the Flickr tag Maker Faire sorted by interestingness. Engadget has a set of photos up as well.

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