Grabbag of software links

* Switch Between Your Gmail Accounts — hmm this has been an impediment to spawning more accounts
* Paypal toolbar gens one-off credit card numbers — always liked the one-off credit card idea; at one point some ecommerce sites didn’t deal well with
* Generate blogrolls from google reader — need to reinstate my blogroll someday
* See if your windows box has stealth connections to the net — i’m clean
* Use to plan out a color scheme — love color scheme tools
* AnyTV player — tried this one, actually seems to kind of work
* Visual exploration of medical terms — didn’t learn anything new but maybe useful
* Photomatix for HDR photography

Absolute Black TVs

Pioneer’s Kuro Plasma Will Deliver Absolute Black — Contrast Ratio Is ‘Officially Irrelevant’ | Gadget Lab from — I’d like this, I hate the grayish emissions from most of my screens.

Too bad for them that their black has already been trumped — new “blackest” material — “You could think of a material that basically collects all the light that falls into it” — oh my gosh we are manufacturing black holes now, I knew this nanotech stuff was dangerous.

Viability of AppleTV and other movie receivers

Scott Hanselman’s Computer Zen – Long Term Viability of AppleTV — I wonder about this too. It seems like there are a kajillion boxes (for instance XStreamHD) and offerings (for instance Amazon Unbox) in this space. My gut tells me that this kind of service is going to get rolled into every settop box, dvd player, game console, just like DVR capability is getting rolled in. The need for a separate box is not apparent to me. I think this dynamic is going to kill off DVD players and their hidef ilk as well.

The BCS broadcast in HD last night

To my eyes, the game was actually painful to watch in HD — I was watching Q13 FOX on Comcast. You could detect noticeable interframe jitter, it was particularly noticeable when the camera panned down the field, the white yard stripes would show a lot of jumping. I don’t notice this on most ESPN football broadcasts — is this because ESPN is 720p whereas Fox is 1080i? I don’t know for sure but it was painful, and not just because the Buckeyes were stumbling.

Cablecard install getting better

The last time I tried to get a cablecard installed was a disaster — A Little Ludwig Goes A Long Way: Comcast Cablecard Install. Things have gotten a lot better. I recently installed two cablecards from Comcast in two different Tivo3s and while it was crazy arcane, it could all be done over the phone and it worked. You have to record all kinds of goofy numbers and tell them to a Comcast rep over the phone, and then wait while they do some mysterious network authentication task, but then things work. Finally got rid of that disaster Microsoft TV box.

Apparently I am not the only person rediscovering the cablecard. And as noted, the cool thing about current cablecards is the multistream capability so that I can record two channels at once. You can’t get Comcast PPV/Ondemand content, but you can get Amazon Unbox.

Two Tivos in one room??

OK I have a problem. I am trying to set up two Tivo boxes in one room. Unfortunately they both respond to either remote, this is bad. I don’t want them to both change channels, both record the current program, etc. AVSForum, TivoBlog don’t seem to have any suggestions. I can do stupid things to work around this but I am looking for the elegant solution.

You could ask why the hell I have 2 tivos in one room. And if you know me, you know the answer must be “Ohio State Buckeye Football” somehow. The BigTen network is only on DirecTV. But when the Buckeyes are on ABC, HD ABC is only available on comcast. Hence 2. If/when comcast resolves their BigTen network licensing issues, I can resolve this.

Link Grab Bag

Fall TV Plans

Cleaned out all my old Tivo season passes over the weekend and set up my new plan for this fall. Here’s the lineup:

* Monday: Prison Break, Medium, Weeds. Medium is a holdover from last year. Prison Break is a marginal new add — we don’t think it has found itself yet but we are hoping. Weeds is hilarious.
* Tuesday: House, Law&Order SVU. We love the House character, and well SVU is an old favorite.
* Wednesday: Lost. We didn’t get into this last year but will try this year.
* Thursday: Alias, Without a Trace. Alias an old favorite, and the characters in Without a Trace have grown on us.
* Friday: nothing. DVD night!
* Saturdays: NCAA Football.
* Sunday: Desparate Housewives. Total brain candy.

We’ll sample My Name is Earl, Everybody Hates Chris, The Apprentice:Martha Stewart based on the buzz for the first two, and well we are just curious about the reinvention of Martha.

Later in the season we’ll pick up 24 and The Sopranos.

Shows that didn’t make the list: numb3rs (we sampled last year but the pseudo-math babble annoys us), other law and order shows (we just don’t like the characters as much), malcolm ( a long time favorite but you can’t see it all), the apprentice (we’re tired of the donald), entourage (boring), cold case (we just never got hooked), smallville (we used to love this show but last season was a disaster).

Even with Tivo time compression, we watch way too much TV.

Mosaics of TV Screens

From the WSJ and other press, discussion of the mosaic feature coming to our TV screens — watch 8 football games at once.

I think this is just brilliant. Football fans will pay for this. And further keeps the DSL guys at bay — they can’t even deliver one video stream, let alone 8 simultaneous games.

There is so much discussion about hollywood content, drm, iptv, etc — we seem to forget that live sports may be a much more important driver of video in the home. Certainly in my household our video provider selections are driven by sports programming issues — college game packages, hdtv availability, etc.

Interesting TV Trends 4/25

* The rise of developer communities targetting the hometheater experience is interesting, something I’m fascinated by. For example, this itunes plugin for tivo. Tivo2 and Windows Media Center Edition are fighting neck and neck for plugins and addons; the Mac Mini is the dark horse. There will be some real breakthrough products and companies here.
* Meanwhile the cable industry is trying its best to screw up the experience — good posts here on their reticence around cablecards. my personal experience with cablecard is terrible, in fact it has quit working at my house. Getting HD content into the Mac Mini and PC is critical for the success of these platforms.
* Hilarious post from Evslin on TV usability“…A true geek, of course, can play a coffee table full of remotes like a xylophone…”