Blog Archives

TV a la carte? I’ll Buy That For A Dollar!


According to anonymous sources via The Wall Street Journal, Apple is possibly in the process of wooing at least CBS and Disney into a subscription service for streaming television.  The basic rundown is that the customer could subscribe to a program stream without having to deal with those messy, customer-unfriendly cable companies that everyone I know loathes and despises in a vein similar to their affections for Terrorists and Nazi Zombies.

I, for one, am ecstatic about the prospect of only having to pay for the small handful of channels I watch (when I actually sit down and watch television).  If I want The Military History Channel, I don’t want to have to purchase Golf TV, BET, Lifetime, etc. when I will practically never find myself actively watching such tripe.  Of course, this is something we’ve all been subjected to since the advent and explosion of the format since the 1980’s.  I remember talk during the late 90’s about the FCC kicking around the idea of “TV a la carte” wherein, thanks to programmable receivers, consumers would be able to purchase subscriptions only for networks they actually watch.  Lobbies representing the cable providers (namely Comcast and Verizon, if memory serves correctly) immediately went into action championing the plight of the niche-market TV networks–small, usually locally-oriented, stations that have little to no widespread appeal (think low-power UHF stations of old)–saying they would inevitably be destroyed if no one had the opportunity to stumble upon them.  Thankfully, we now have Web 2.0.  With its proliferation of on-demand services such as RSS, YouTube, Twitter, etc., the “no one will ever see this” excuse is practically eliminated.

I think this is certainly the start of something new and necessary for the growth of entertainment, information, and technology.  With seemingly limitless options provided by the Interweb, television doesn’t have to be held hostage to timeslots…or location-specific receivers, for that matter.  My only concern is the fact that Apple might keep a stranglehold on the market–is there a way to make sure that the receiver software stays open?  I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes just to keep up with 24 or Doctor Who.  Frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with iTunes, period, but that’s a subject for another time.

In the meantime:  Streaming media to your set-top box, laptop, or phone?  Yes, please.

Tweeting


Could it possibly be that I’ve succumb to the social media craze du jour that is Twitter?

Possibly.

It would seem that Twitter is a little more than an–excuse the expression–fly-by-night social media site.  Yeah, it’s been around for a while now and everybody and their sibling, cousin, and grandparent uses it, so I figured I should get in on the act.  At least as far as the blogging goes.  Simply put, I’m giving it a trial run.  Now that everything has become so intertwined (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc.), it’s easy for me to update one on the run via the good ol’ Tweet.

So here’s the plan:

WordPress already updates Facebook with new blog posts, so Twitter updates will go directly into WordPress.  Granted, this may mean that WordPress will show some odd musings in 149 characters or less, but I think being off-topic and random is more in line with the spirit of this blog.  At least, it’s more in line with my character.

Let me know what you think.

Moving…


My friends, it has come to my attention that WordPress offers a much better product to fit with the style I want this blog to evolve into. Entries will continue as often as possible, but with a much nicer interface. I am also combining this blog with my personal blog under a common domain, https://airbornesurfer.wordpress.com

It is my hope that you enjoy my ramblings in addition to other sorts of geekery that my blog will continue to provide.

Dispatches From The Front Lines

OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs


There’s been a lot of buzz about this extension for OpenOffice.org that will allow you to sync your documents with Google Docs. I ran across it looking for a solution to my (apparently not unique) problem of automating a system of backing-up documents to Google Docs. Ubuntu users will have to uninstall their out-of-the-box version of OOo and reinstall via terminal before this will work. The setup is actually pretty simple:

1. From the Ubuntu main menu, select Add/Remove Programs.

2. Search for “openoffice”, and uncheck all the installed components. OpenOffice.org Drawing may give you a required package error, but this is no problem. Uninstall the other components, then go back to uninstall Drawing.

3. From the terminal: sudo apt-get install openoffice.org

4. Download the extension here.

5. From the OOo main menu, select -> (Alt-T-E for those who like keyboard shortcuts.)

6. Click “Add…”, select the downloaded file (“gdocs[version number].odx” or something to that effect), and “Open”. The extension will then install. Click “Close” when complete and restart OOo.

You should notice a new floating toolbar with 5 icons. The first two (from the left) are specific to Google Docs (upload and download respectively). The latter are for Zoho and WebDAV, which I don’t use (at least at this point). Click either of the GDox buttons and you will be prompted for your username and password. The rest is fairly self-explanitory.

The only gripe I have with this extension is the lack of true document synchronization. When uploaded, multiple copies of the same document will exist on the Google server until you manually delete them. This is currently under revision and should be fixed when the update is released.

Picasa 3 for Linux


It’s still got a few bugs to work out (like automatically recognizing media in Gnome), but I’m quite happy with Picasa for Linux. Even better news is that v3 runs natively in Ubuntu even under a 64-bit architecture–no emulation or Wine required!

http://picasa.google.com/linux/download.html#picasa30

Google Calendar Sync for BlackBerry


Calendar synchronization has been the main reason I haven’t used Google Calendar or the native BlackBerry calendar has been a lack of synchronicity. I’m just annoyed with the idea of having to enter multiple instances of an event in multiple places, so I never used them. Facebook got smart and integrated calendar sync with the new Facebook for BlackBerry, and now I can keep track of my Facebook events with my Storm. I finally found where Google has developed a sync application that updates the calendar and contacts list.

“Using your BlackBerry smartphone’s native calendar, you can now access your Google calendar even when you don’t have network coverage and be alerted for upcoming appointments with sound or vibration. Your Google Calendar stays synchronized whether you access it from your computer or your phone. You can add or edit entries right on your BlackBerry smartphone or on your Google Calendar on the web.”

Just point the BlackBerry browser to http://m.google.com/sync.

Consolidation


Being a denizen of the Web for over *shudder* 15 years, I’ve come to notice that I have a lot of junk profiles just laying around. My brilliant idea last night was to consolidate them into a neat package (along with my laptop and Blackberry) so as to provide myself the neatest, tightest Web footprint possible. I’m also in the midst of changing my online identity–having used the same one since 1998. Nevermind the motives, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Facebook remains the hub of all my social networking.
Sites like Last.fm and YouTube get revised and updated with a new login.
Extraneous Google accounts get 86’d.
Extraneous GMail accounts get forwarded to my new primary address.
Sites I rarely never use anymore like Yahoo! and MySpace get the 86.

The other brilliant idea I had was a sort of universal login where I could bypass login screens for the various sites I use. Firefox has the universal password feature, but I want something that will authenticate on all the servers with one login (because, frankly, I’m too lazy to click something again). I did a little surfing and came across OpenID, and it looks like a promising solution. More to come with further research.

Introduction-Ubunut


So I recently (last week) upgraded my lappy to Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope, and, so far, I’m a fan. I’ve been using Ubuntu for nearly two years now (since Feisty Fawn) and have only briefly looked back at Windows or over at Macintosh just for a sense of ubiquity and compatability. With Jaunty, I’m content with the slick new interface combined with the traditional ease of use that Ubuntu has come to offer.

I am by no-means an expert with Ubuntu–or Linux, for that matter–but I am a long-standing fan of Open Culture and Open Source. I’ve been working with Windows for years trying to come up with ways to tweak it and customize it to fit my own personal tastes and expectations, so, naturally, Linux was a Godsend with its seemingly endless customization options.

I started this blog with the idea that I would keep it as a repository for all the knowledge I’ve collected from the seemingly endless changes and tweaks I put my systems under. Mainly as a way to organize them and recall them in case of other blogs and forums going by the wayside. Second, I thought that others might have the same questions that I did and would like an easier method of finding answers than scouring hundreds of pages of forum posts.

Last thing of note for this introduction, the name is not a typo. Well, it is (and probably a common one), but intentional as I like the play on words implied (Ubuntu Nut, Ubunut). The only other semi-clever idea I could come up with was “Sit, Ubu, Sit.”

Grandiose Schemes, Phase One:


As the little yellow house has become a veritable storage shed, I have taken it upon myself to thin out and discard (sell, donate) anything of mine that is not of any intrinsic value to me. At the same time, I’m actually making use of those things that are of intrinsic value. It still makes me sad going through a lot of it, but it’s part of pulling myself–kicking and screaming, if needed–into the present and future. This project and it’s sub-parts constitutes phase one of the “Grandiose Schemes.” It’s kind of a “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy of mine that, at one time, I tried to live by–then I became a pack-rat. Fortunately, the advent of digital technology and media storage has enabled me to dispense with much of my physical media (videos, music, books, etc.) in favour of digital copies. The fire also helped with the whole “need to cull” mindset.

Part One: Conversion Box
In order to actually partake of this daring scheme, I must first build a media conversion box to handle all the rendering necessary to make these transitions happen. It will also have to run on *shudder* Windows because I will need the software support for my input devices.

Part Two: Vinyl and Cassette to MP3
I have some 3 crates of vinyl albums and a case full of audio cassettes stowed in the house. My goal is to have them all converted to MP3 so I can actually enjoy them without the hassle of transporting them, storing them, or setting up a record player whenever I want to hear them. I’ve completed two similar projects already with backing up my DVDs and CDs. This will simply prove to be more tedious.

Part Three: VHS to AVI
I still have a bag full of VHS tapes to convert to a digital format for editing and storage. This will be nearly as tedious as the audio, but not as time-consuming as there is less to convert.

Part Four: Scanning photos
Boxes of them. Finally make use of my scanner.

Part Five: Disposal
Anything I have that is not of any intrinsic value to me will be either sold, donated, or given away to those who would find intrinsic value in the items. I have already made several hundred dollars on Amazon, and that is keeping my head above water for the time being. Nadia’s things will be boxed-up and delivered at some point when everything is finished.

Something big is (hopefully) on the horizon….


Well, things are going all right for the time being, I s’pose. My back hurts for no apparent reason, but I’m surviving. I’ve got a lot happening right now, so time comes a little bit at a premium right now. I hope that everything I’m working on can manifest itself successfully. Sorry for being so incredibly vague, but I’m not quite sure which way certain things are going and I don’t want to get myself too hyped-up over anything just in case plans fall through. In any case, just wish me luck, and I will kep you all apprised of what develops as things begin to clarify. Just a few of the things going on: A new educational and career endeavour. Promotions and raises. Financial endeavours. Organisational endeavours. Personal enrichment endeavours. Home improvement endeavours. As many of you know, I was promoted to assistant manager at Vitamin World, bringing with it a mediocre but impactful raise. It’s a nice bonus, as it helps to bring financial enrichment a little more quickly. It’s my goal to get Bank of America out of my life as soon as possible (more on this to be saved for a later number–in the meantime, check out Clark Howard.com for one motive). I also have a modest amount of credit card debt amassed since buying the house (they nickel-and-dime you to pieces when you purchase one) which I need to pay off. I don’t need CCCS or anything, just patience and prudence. One of my more daunting projects in recent years was to digitize my entire CD collection (some 270+ discs) so I would have random access to almost all my music in one, convienent location (and so I could load my iPod more easily). Now that I am moved into the house and have more available physical space–more “elbow room,” if you will–I have addressed the question of the remainder of my music collection: Digitizing my LP records, 45’s, and cassettes. I don’t have quite the number of them as I have compact discs, but there is much more work involved: recording the album to the computer, cutting each track, encoding to mp3 format, importing into my iTunes library, and finally writing ID3 tags. Needless to say, it’s quite time-consuming, but I’ve managed to complete 14 LP’s in only a few days. The worst part about this project is that it kinda makes my computer bleed with all the processing power it requires. Not so much the power, but the load–and what a load! That’s about all for now. More to come as things progress.