Recently, we picked up a Rio Karma, which is a 20gb handheld jukebox that plays MP3, WMA and Ogg Vorbis. Particularly nice things about it include the Ogg support and the fact it has Ethernet, so that any machine on our net can transfer music into it. That's about all it does with the ethernet (it also has a small web server to serve the manual and a java transfer app) but I expect it will do more later, like be a streaming media gateway when docked on the stereo, allowing control from anywhere.
For some time I have been musing over the design of an ideal home A/V system using digital technology. Sadly it's not coming, in part because it's illegal under the new Broadcast Flag rules.
To read my design of this system, and the musings of the legality of it and why that presents a problem, see a draft on an Ideal A/V digital system
Just about every blog has pointed to Moveon.org's Bush in 30 Seconds contest for anti-Bush TV spots.
The candidate spots are witty and clever, but I think they miss the mark. For those who have already decided they will vote for anyone-but-Bush, they bring many cries of approval. But that's not who they have to convince.
Transit idea #2. Air travel is getting to be like hell, with searches and the need to get there so far in advance of the flight to be sure you will get through security that it cancels much of the benefit, turning 40 minute flights into 3 hour ordeals. High Speed train advocates point out the downtown-to-downtime time of the train on routes of 300-500km beats or is competitive with the plane, and it's true.
I'm going to write more in the future about how transportation is not making using technology. Let me start with streetcars and the bus.
People use transit a lot more if it is able to beat the car, or at least keep pace with it. Thus we spend a lot of money on dedicated right-of-way for subways, trains and streetcars.
But this is really inefficient. The dedicated right-of-way sits empty 95% of the time. It does nothing so that a train can pass over it every 10 minutes (or more.)
There is much talk of Location Based Services and geographical annotation these days. We either see scary LBS (network tracks you all the time, sends you Latte coupon when you walk near Starbucks) or query based services -- "based on where I am, where's the nearest good place to eat?" That's something Vindigo does without nearing a GPS, and does it fairly well.
I've been wondering about proactive location based services and annotations that work for you and protect your privacy.
There's a growing and dangerous movement to try to stop spam by forcing all mail senders to provide ID with each mail they send. Signing mail is not a bad idea, in fact it's quite useful, but to stop spam you have to make everybody sign their mail.
In the past this was a non-starter because this means forcing everybody who mails you to get new mail sending software, or at least to have their ISP do this. But spam has made us so angry people are talking about doing this, even though we don't demand ID for paper mail that, in theory, can contain white powder that can kill you.
Many in the USA have trouble grasping how the country is viewed by those of us from outside it. I recently realized one analogy which explains this for those who are techies, especially Linux/Mac techies.
The rest of the world views the USA the way we techies view Microsoft. Except with tanks.
Next Monday, the USA will start fingerprinting and photographing all visitors, except those from 28 ally countries -- fortunately for me, Canada is among those exempted.
60 years ago, the USA gave its all to take down a growing empire that wanted everybody to show their papers any time they moved. Now the USA is moving closer to what it fought. Aside from hurting the tourist industry, it's yet another example of removing fundamental rights from people without the right lucky birth accident.