Monthly Archives: May 2005

Home phone solutions

I’ve never gotten around to redoing my home phone system to be all-IP but still have a deep interest. Here’s a couple more things to consider when the project bubbles to the top:

* Asteriskathome — a version of the open source pbx for the home. A nice web management UI and hopefully config’ed for the most common home features.
* Fonality. I met these guys last week, great guys. Complete PBX features at a price small businesses can afford.
* A list of open source pbx software if i want to go further afield.
* Or I could just use this to bridge all my analog handsets over to Skype.

Recent Software of Note

* Via Larkware, Backbase looks like it is trying to commercialize AJAX technology.
* Via the javascript weblog, a cool javascript.dhtml comment implementation. Also a nice AJAX patterns wiki.. I’m not sure what the investment opportunity is yet…but non-AJAX websites are going to look old and boring compared to AJAX sites very soon…
* Rich likes MTInlineEditor. I dont’ do that much editting after the fact (perhaps a problem) but it seems cool. Hey I wonder when someone will do nice AJAX templates for MT — crap, if I thought of it, someone must have already done it.
* I feel stupid for not having switched to password composer yet — here’s another good reason, a website implementation.
* I wish there was an implementation of tinyurl or doiop that I could run on my own server so I could exert some control over keywords.
* Via geekman, a nice listing of web applications — SEO, design tools, etc
* Back on the PC, BeSweet for transcoding audio, how to bookmark registry locations, using grc’s wizmo to unfreeze a machine, a nice pc inspection tool (website currently down), speedfan for managing fans and temps, broadcast machine for sharing video.

TV and Media Center happenings of interest

Lots of posts recently as people realize that we aren’t going to see cable/satellite HD feeds into MCE machines for a long time — No CableCARD for Windows Media Center until Longhorn (probably), Say It Ain’t So Joe… Why HDTV Support in MCE Won’t Change Until Longhorn Arrives. Not at all shocking, the PC is DRM swiss cheese. Certainly suggests that the closed boxes — TIVO, captive settop boxes — have a long life yet in the home. I bet that you don’t see HDTV support on the PC until you can run a separate OS in a separate VM with hardware-enforced DRM — ie, until you can run a closed hardware/software box inside a PC.

Meanwhile tho, the MCE developer economy continues to grow — here’s a list of plugins you can install. Regardless of HD capability, these boxes make way cool DVD players. As does the XBOX 360. Sure seems to me that the DVD player market will break into two — cheap low-end fixed function players, and then at the high end, people will put in an XBOX, Mac Mini, MCE, or PS3 box.

Another interesting idea is the PocketDish. This seems compelling to me, if I could take all my Tivo or Dish content on the road, without futzing around with a full laptop pc, I’d be interested.

Some interesting thoughts by Mark Pesce on the future of TV — “The idea of an advertising payload attached unobtrusively to the television program has a certain appeal; it can be ignored, but it’s always present. The audience can’t edit it out of the program without destroying the content of the program. Audiences will learn accept them — so long as the advertisements aren’t too busy, distracting, or otherwise obnoxious.” We’ve watched this whole season of Alias via torrent downloads and I would have been happy to get an HD download direct from ABC or my affiliate which had modest advertising content in it.

Ignition Blog Roundup 5/30

Our extended family of bloggers are becoming overactive, it is hard for me to keep up. Highlights:

* Rich is digging into MT – nice tip on category tags, and he graciously posts his templates — nice idea, I will do this when I am finished hacking on mine too.
* Rich on computers — proper ergonomics (I’ve been getting a stiff neck recently, good tips), and the new evdo-equipped sony laptop — wifi hotspots are becoming a mess, with 4-5 available in a location of uncertain quality and safety, evdo and similar solutions could become a hit with the business crowd.
* Phil with some great thinking on search scoping, releasing the latest version of Berry 411 (installed), talking about myvoipweb (don’t trust caller id anymore), showing off his jobs sidebar (very cool).
* Kudos to Melodeo for Rogers launch
* Martin is bullish on NPUs.
* John and Rich’s book out in Taiwan and Korea now! Guys I’d love to hear about the economics behind this.
* Jason on RSS Jobs aggregators, job blogs, good to great staffing, Jobster 1.1 launch. The jobster team is reminding me that incredible focus on an exact customer segment and exact customer problems will always pay off.
* Andy fishing for ideas on how to create passion amongst his customers. My 2 cents Andy – learn from the Jobster guys!
* Not an ignition extended family blog, but related to our business — Fred has a nice posting on the “pass”:

** Say no quickly to the things you know you aren’t going to do
** Don’t take an opportunity into diligence unless you are willing to spend enough time to truly undersand it, and if you don’t invest, make sure you are willing to spend time explaining why.

Recent Books 5/25

* “The Rings of Saturn”:amazon. Difficult to get in the mood of this one. A solitary travel through modern england — dry, depressing tourism. There are no characters in the book besides the author, despite his wandering about present day England. I couldn’t finish — I guess it reinforces that life is all about the people you live it with, not about the places or things.
* “Starfish by Peter Watts”:amazon. Wow a seriously good story. Characters have real meat, deeply damaged (by life? by design? an unresolved mystery) but deeply human. Layers of story here, it really draws you in.
* “Freakonomics”:amazon. A solid nonfiction read. Entertaining, crisp, not bloated. The right length. The kind of economist I’d love to be, if I could. And a nice blog
* “The Magic Mountain”:amazon. I am really struggling with this one. The characters are boring but subtly compelling. But boy a whole lot of nothing happens in the story. I may need to save this book for a quieter location and time.

Oh and another award winner list — the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Some of these look interesting.

Thinking Differently

From JK On The Run, hints on how to think differently. I like “Learning Something Outside Your Comfort Zone: If you’re an artist, learn about String Theory. If you’re a scientist, learn about the aesthetics of music. The more novel and uncomfortable and strange it is, the more it will liberate your calcified brain.”

Weekend Dining

Based on john’s reco, we found our way to seven stars pepper. A little hard to find but it was tasty — the Chong Gin chicken john reco’ed was excellent. But at the end of the meal we all agreed — chinese food is just not our favorite asian cuisine, we far prefer the flavors and spices of thai food.

Also we ate at serafina for lunch one day. Great great italian, we consistently like the Melanzane alla Serafina (eggplant rolls). Parking can be painful at busy times.

Small exercise victory this AM

So sometimes I just don’t have time to get to a trailhead, like this AM. In the past I would have just blown off exercising in the face of a tiny hurdle like this.

But this morning I parked the store at the grocery in factoria (my true destination) and hoofed it up the office and apartment-encrusted hills above factoria. Not very picturesque but it got my blood flowing. And the crisp windy air felt great. Glad I did it.

Today's Hike — 5/20

Back to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park (for the second time this week) for Today’s hike. BTW, online maps for the park can be found at the King County GIS Center. Earlier this week we parked at the Anti-Aircraft Peak Trailhead, the Shangri-La trail from that point is a quite pretty tree-lined over-grown roadway, culminating in some huge lightly-treed bowls full of ferns and other ground cover — gorgeous. The trail leads steadily down so you’ll have a bit of a walk back to the trailhead.

This morning started at the Wilderness Creek Trailhead on the SE side of the park. A relative low point, the trail from here is a great cardio workout, steadily up with a lot of switchbacks. I ran out of time and didn’t quite make it to the top of Wildnerness Peak, you should be able to get from trailhead to top in an hour or hour and 15 minutes.

Next up: I think I’ll try the neighboring Squak Mountain trails.

MT has become very slow…

…My CPU is maxed on my server. something is clearly wrong. I removed some plugins that I wasn’t really using, hoping that that addresses the issue. If not I may need to do a clean install as next step.

Home networking resources

Boy Google has become pretty polluted on the topic of home networking, many of the top pages are thin bags of links, clearly just thrown together to generate google hits and revenue. Here’s my own list of home networking resources that I use.

* Blogs:
** practically networked — general home network coverage
** pvrblog — PVRs
** ehomeupgrade — all kinds of digital home and gagdet goodness

* Software Tools:
** pure networks — for file sharing, printer sharing, and generally keeping track of what’s on the network (Disclosure: Ignition is an investor)
** itunes — for music playing and sharing. We keep all our music on a server, I wish itunes would push tags and playlists back to the server.
** Remote Desktop — I use this all the time to manage different machines from the family room — requires XP Pro. I tried a bunch of freeware alternatives but none of them seemed particularly robust at the time.
** Beyond Compare — my backup strategy is to spread copies of photos and music around to 4-5 different places.

* Other websites:
** Annoyances.org — some handy troubleshooting guides
** avsforum — for av/hometheater stuff
** dslreports — nice speed test for your broadband link among other tools
** Sandy and Dave’s — a nice newsletter summing up industry events

That’s the primary list of resources. Anybody else have good ones?

Interesting business and economic reads, all over the map

* Cuban lays out the case that the maximum damages the RIAA can demand of a user are $5 a month — brilliant.
* Newsgator and Brad Feld doing an RSS rollup — none of our companies have played this game, perhaps we need to learn more about.
* Opensource developers team up with open usability experts. Wow. Can marketing, PR, and other business functions be far behind?
* Radio stations are responding to ipod use. With format changes, cost cutting, podcast repurposing, etc.
* Martin starts reading the peak oil theorists. I am just way more optimistic than the peak oil crowd.
* Politicians scrambling to align themselves with biodiesel

Recent Notable Software — 5/16

* From Geekman, broadcast machine – become your own bittorrent/video publisher.
* Rich has a little roundup of CDR tools
* Steve isn’t a fan of rss reading inside your mail client — I am different, I love newsgator, the way I read email and feeds are very similar.
* Firefox 1.04 released — increasingly putting the lie to the belief that Firefox is inherently more secure than IE. Security threats rise with popularity.
* A comment on my earlier post about what I want from Longhorn — some good points. But I differ on the view that some of the problems are the hardware manufacturers’ issues. MSFT has created the PC industry, MSFT sucks up most of the net profits, MSFT has to own the problems.
* Also from Steve, a teeny wiki — GTDTiddlyWiki. I have to play with this. This thing is fascinating.
* AIM Mail — now you get a 2GB email account with AIM. This seems like it will be huge. Boy the install bites tho, feels like your browser is getting slammed with so much crap. And this AOL Browser thing is just strange, some hack of IE.
* Clay Shirky on ontologies — nice discussion, relevant for people thinking about tagging. One of the core points is dead on — tags shouldn’t not be binary systems but probabilistic systems.
* IEEE Computer Society RSS Feeds. Need to sub to these.
* Phil Bogle on roaming browser state. Gosh I wish I had a firefox plugin that would export a list of installed plugins, and then auto install this list on another machine.
* Some good dhtml ideas in here — crazy-good dhtml

Today's Hike — Mercer Slough

Another hiking area close to home is the Mercer Slough. Not that much altitude variation but a really beautiful wetlands area — ferns, dense trees and brush, waterways, birds of all sorts. It was pouring by the time I was done this morning — but that just added to the beauty of the place, it is all about water and life.

Ignition blog roundup 5/15

* Adrian is trying out metal casting — this lindsay books catalog is truly amazing
* Andy is recommitting to his blog (kind of)
* Rich is enamored with the mt spamlookup plugin — personally i’ve given up on trackbacks and have reallowed typekey-registered commentors. I don’t have time to futz with all the plugins and tools to allow anything else.
* Rich also continues to play with podcasting — looking at a better portable mp3 recorder (I’ve put on my father’s day wish list)
* Phil is a blogging animal – looking at password composer (which is cool but i regularly use at least 6 different machines), playing with google mobile and his 411 app, calling out for more large-type support
* Great unintentional press for PerfectMatch (one of our investments)
* Also, Johnza on the fourth place“Why can’t the Internet become a 4th place. A place that we’ve never really had before, where we get many of the things that we get from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places but without the physical limitations”