Monthly Archives: October 2004

Iowa 33, OSU 7

Misery. You have to go back to like 1940 for a thrashing this bad.

What do the Buckeyes get awarded those leaves on their helmets for exactly? I thought it was good play. It must be for grooming, tidy lockers, and attendance. Because clearly the team is completely dysfunctional.

PC Hardware happenings

* External audio solutions — the pc is electrically noisy and the amp circuits on sound cards are not that great — maybe we should be moving all this functionality out of the pc (or the electical/amp characteristics of a pc should be more like an audio amp)
* One man’s attempt at widescreen gaming. Salivate.
* Raid in a single drive bay. I guess this is the natural complement to a dual core processor — dual core hard drives!
* Jeff Ort on color management. Man this stuff is complicated.
* A PC PVR with 6 tuners.
* Saiteck PC Gamer keyboard. I totally need this.

So what is the theme to all this? Besides “stuff that I want to buy?” My observation is that the PC Hardware industry continues to innovate like mad, and is going to wipeout all the standalone media boxes, settop boxes, etc.

Around Ignition…

* Rich and John have revved the marketing playbook site — looks nice to me
* Andy is looking for help at Judy’s Book
* Rich analyzes what’s going on with small speakers — everyone is climbing all over everyone else in an attempt to bind themselves to the iPod success.
* Andy is thinking about how to make Judy’s Book indispensable — great point — people don’t have time these days for products that are just nice to have — they only have time for products that are critical to their life.

OK there are other things going on as well but these are what caught my eye.

The Egyptologist and The Plot Against America

The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips — a cleverly and artfully constructed book, but ultimately not that interesting. It is pretty obvious where the story is going, the characters aren’t that memorable, I’ve read better stories about psycho main characters.

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. This month’s trendy read, it started out with an interesting premise and interesting characters. But the bad guys are one-dimensional stereotypes, and the plot is explained as a typical Nazi world domination scheme, instead of a more morally ambiguous and perhaps realistic situation. I’ve read better Nazi world domination novels.

Firefox Extensions

OK I love the fact that there are a gazillion extensions available. But my gosh this is confusing. There is a huge need for an authoritative editorial voice and packager — someone who pulls together the bundle of extensions needed for normal browsing, for a web developer, for an RSS junkie, for image-centric browsing, etc etc.

Cleaned out my cable drawer this weekend

Needed some space in my office this weekend so I dared to empty out my cable drawer and throw out the cruft that has aggregated over 5 years. Serial cables — db9, db25, every gendered alternative of these, serial switchers, gender converters — all gone, hopefully I will never need one of these again. Parallel cables — cables, gender converters, switchboxes — again i hope all gone for good. Wall warts — a huge variety of amperages and voltages — I’ll cannibalize some for halloween projects but most are gone. Midi cables and midi interface boxes for old pcs. All kinds of goofy crappy quality audio cables — rca jack, mini jack, some with video too, all kinds of converters — i could still justify keeping some of these, tho most of them came bundled with some device and are of crappy quality. Enough rj-11 cabling to circle the globe — cables, gender converters, splitters — all gone. Coax gear — cables, splitters, switchboxes — most of it 900Mhz gear and thus incompatible with HDTV — all gone. Some old ps2 port mouse and keyboard cables/converters/extenders — gone.

I ended up with a much smaller pile — cat5 cabling, usb cables and converters, high quality audio cables, and some truly oddball a/v cables that probably are required for the various cameras I own but I can’t remember what goes with what — I’ll keep them so that I won’t have a disaster some day when I really need them.

I wish I could say that I’ll never have to do this again, but with HDMI, optical and copper spdif, higher speed evolutions of usb and firewire, cat5e, and gosh knows what else — I’ll probably have to do this again in 5 years.

Firefox

Like Rich, I am pretty enamored of Firefox right now. The community of addon developers, the ease of installing addons, tabbed browsing — great stuff.

It is interesting that browser innovation has been so slow over the last 3-4 years. Given that we spend so much time staring at this app, you’d have thought there would have been a lot more going on. Glad to see the pace picking up.

One thing I wonder about is the “One Size Fits All” design of the browser. We spend all day in this app, but we are actually doing very different things at different times. But the app provides a single set of fairly generic features, controls, menu items — a set that is constant across all our usage.

I think we are doing very different tasks during the day tho. I can think of at least 4 classes of distinct usage — and I think we might want different features in our supporting app for each usage scenario.

# “Intranet” apps. Outlook Web Access, MT/blogging, Wikis/Collab apps, etc. Usually behind a tighter security wall, a lot of data input compared to other usages. I use these apps continually, I want very quick access to them, I want high security but I don’t want to have to fight thru all the trust/security config in the browser to make these sites work (remember passwords, permit popups, allow scripting, allow java, allow activex, permit cookies, etc etc etc), i want much better in-browser editing tools, i want easy file upload/download, etc.
# Commerce/shopping. I want great automatic search for competitive prices and offers, I want easy autofill of forms, I want to easily go back and check past transactions and their status including shipping, I want to easily save all the “transaction completed” pages, I want to see relevant ads from competitive vendors, I want to see user reviews, etc etc.
# Search (not commerce oriented). I want much better navigation of search results — easy ability to drill down on found pages but then easy to pop back up to the root, i want to save search results (the exact pages i find ala furl), i want meta search, i could go on for a while here.
# Reading. There are a set of sites I hit every day that sadly don’t have RSS feeds — mostly commercial sports sites. I want to easily hit these pages every day, navigate thru new articles — I kind of want the same behaviour for these sites that I get for RSS-enabled sites thru my aggregator.

Seems to me there is room to innovate in the browser to make it more task/usage specific.

Oops

Painful Saturday night in Evanston. Buckeye defense looked confused and stuck in treacle — did the late start hurt? Tressel got outcoached, Northwestern picked their spots and hammered home on them. As Chuck on Buckeye Planet says: Northwestern, armed only with mostly MAC-level players who were passed over by the likes of OSU, Michigan, even Illinois, a slower and smaller Northwestern team stunned the highly-touted group from Ohio – Beat ‘em fair and square in 4+ quarters in Evanston, Illinois. They did so in a fashion that makes me think if these two teams were to play 10 times, NU would win 5 or 6 of them.

With 27 points, the team had enough points to win the game. The offense wasn’t impressive — but was as productive as every other game over the last couple years. Special teams were generally good, with a TD on a punt return. But as the Dispatch ($ sub required) says: If losses are learning tools, as Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Saturday night, the Buckeyes defense now owns an armload of hammers with which to beat themselves over the head.

Wisconsin this weekend — it doesn’t get any easier.

Nice thread on the 7 digital disruptions

Over at A VC: The Seven Digital Disruptions:

* MPEG/MP3 – Disrupts the music and movie business
* PVRs – Disrupts the TV ad business
* Broadband Entertainment – Disrupts the TV business
* Digital Cameras and JPEGS – Disrupts the film business
* Linux – Disrupts the operating system business
* Network Computers – disrupts the PC hardware/software business
* Wireless Networks – disrupts the wire line phone business
* VOIP – disrupts the entire phone business