Wednesday, August 31, 2005

You Can Help Victims of Hurricane Katrina!

Hurricane Katrina has blazed a trail of devastation throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Across the Gulf Coast, Katrina engulfed thousands of homes and decimated the landscape in what could become the most destructive storm in U.S. history. Victims are stranded and in need of immediate medical care, food and water, and tens of thousands of people will need temporary housing for months.

Help people affected by this storm by making a donation today.

I Want To Help!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Here we go again!

Apple plans special event next week:

Apple appears to be set to introduce an all-new iPod next week as the company will hold a special event at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. Apple has used similar events in the past to make such major announcements.

In an invitation sent to select media, including iLounge (where I read about it), Apple hints that it will unveil a significant new product at the event. The invitation reads in part: “1000 songs in your pocket changed everything. Here we go again.” The slogan “1000 songs in your pocket” was first used by Apple when the original 5GB iPod was introduced in 2001.

The invitation-only event will take place on September 7 at 10:00 a.m.

That's Right,

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Check This Out: It's Not Just A Novelty!

Libraries offering audiobook downloads

GUILDERLAND, New York (AP) -- A new way to borrow audiobooks from the library involves no CDs, no car trips, no fines and no risk of being shushed.

Rather, public libraries from New York City to Alameda, California, are letting patrons download Tom Clancy techno-thrillers, Arabic tutorials and other titles to which they can listen on their computers or portable music players -- all without leaving home.

Librarians say such offerings help libraries stay relevant in the digital age.

Barbara Nichols Randall, director of the Guilderland Public Library in suburban Albany, said the library considered the needs of younger readers and those too busy to visit.

"This is a way for us to have library access 24/7," she said.

There's still one big hitch, though: The leading library services offer Windows-friendly audiobook files that can't be played on Apple Computer Inc.'s massively popular iPod player.

Vendors such as OverDrive Inc. and OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc.'s NetLibrary have licensing deals with publishers and provide digital books using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Audio format, which includes copyright protections designed to help audiobooks stand apart from the often lawless world of song swapping.

A patron with a valid library card visits a library Web site to borrow a title for, say, three weeks. When the audiobook is due, the patron must renew it or find it automatically "returned" in a virtual sense: The file still sits on the patron's computer, but encryption makes it unplayable beyond the borrowing period.

"The patron doesn't have to do anything after the lending period," said Steve Potash, chief executive of OverDrive. "The file expires. It checks itself back into the collection. There's no parts to lose. It's never damaged. It can never be late."

Potash said about 1,000 libraries have signed up for OverDrive's audiobook service since its debut late last year. NetLibrary, teaming up with Recorded Books, launched a similar service in January and counts 200 library customers.

Libraries offering audiobook downloads range from large institutions in New York and Los Angeles to smaller ones for Cleveland, Ohio, Maricopa County, Arizona, North Little Rock, Arkansas and Omaha, Nebraska. The Hawaii State Public Library System signed up earlier this month.

Guilderland pays NetLibrary about $6,000 a year for more than 850 titles. Randall considers that a good deal, noting that a single audiobook can cost the library up to $80 when bought on CD.

Under the NetLibrary program, Guilderland gets a set number of downloads for all titles each year, and a single title can be borrowed by multiple patrons simultaneously as long as the cap hasn't been reached. Downloads over the cap cost extra. Patrons must provide their own audio players, although they may listen on their home computers if they do not have one.

Other libraries make different arrangements. OverDrive, for example, generally takes a more traditional approach. When a copy is checked out, no other patron may download it until the borrowing period ends.

It's still unclear what impact such services will have on audiobook download sales from companies such as Audible Inc., although one analyst suggested it could inspire more sales as patrons buy for keeps a title they had borrowed.

"It's certainly smart for the publishers to do this," said Phil Leigh, a senior analyst with Inside Digital Media.

Digital downloads are a part of a natural progression for libraries, which have evolved from lending books to cassettes and videotapes to CDs and DVDs. OverDrive recently launched a video download service for libraries.

Librarians say they had little interest in audiobook downloads just a few years ago, but they have since noticed what everyone else has: the ubiquity of people sporting earbuds on streets, buses and malls.

Nearly 28 million portable audio players were sold last year, according to In-Stat, a technology research company. With more than 21 million sold, the iPod remains the signature portable player. But it uses the Advanced Audio Coding format with FairPlay, its own digital rights management system and one incompatible with Windows' technology.

Just as the lack of a standard digital audio format has fragmented the music download market, it affects audiobooks.

Users of iPods can still listen to books purchased through sources such as or Apple's own iTunes Music Store, but the library services, for now, are geared toward computers and devices that support Windows Media Audio files. OverDrive files can be burned to CDs and converted to iPod friendly formats, but NetLibrary's cannot.

Marge Gammon of NetLibrary said that despite iPod's cache, the company wanted a product that could be played on a range of devices. OverDrive's Potash notes there's a growing market of portable audio players, some priced lower then $50 (Regular iPod models start at $299, though the Minis start at $199 and Shuffles at $99).

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company has no plans to change its copy-protection formats and would not comment on the incompatibility issue.

Librarians say they have heard complaints from iPod users, but there's little they can do beyond waiting for the industry to sort out its differences.

One California library shunned the download services completely, largely because of iPod's popularity. Instead, Newport Beach Public Library bought 15 iPod Shuffles and loaded them up with audiobooks from iTunes to loan out.

Patrons are liable for any loss or damage, though librarian Genesis Hansen said there's been no problems so far.

Copy, right? 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.Original Source

That's Right,


Some Of My Favorite Mac OSX Tips

From Mac World's Rob Griffiths

Relocate Applications from the Dock

If you like to download and try out lots of shareware and freeware, you probably put the apps in a special downloads folder (or just leave them on the desktop) until you decide whether they’re keepers that belong in your Applications folder. And when you’ve found a program worth hanging on to, you probably quit the program, switch to the Finder, and start moving windows around to file the program away. Here’s a little time-saver for next time: Assuming that you’ve put the app in the Dock for easy access, you can simply Command-click on its icon in the Dock and drag it to your Applications folder (or any folder you choose). Release the mouse button, and you’ve moved the file. (You can also move an open application, whose icon automatically appears in the Dock, but it’s always safer to quit the app first; otherwise, it might not open when you next launch it.)

Send Windows-Friendly Attachments in Mail

By rearranging these blocks in the Finder's preference file, you can control the default order of columns in list-view windows.
Are you a lone-wolf Mac user in an office full of Windows PCs? If so, you may get tired of always having to tell Mail to send Windows-friendly attachments (it’s a check box at the bottom of the Attachments dialog box). Forget to select it, and you’ll confound your Windows recipients, who will see multiple attachments to your message (Mail causes this by sending the file’s data fork and its resource fork).

There’s an easy workaround, and it’s hiding in plain sight—just select Edit: Attachments: Always Send Windows Friendly Attachments when you don’t have a new message window open (the option will be grayed out if you do). From now on, all attachments will default to Windows-friendly mode. After you choose this option, if you attach files to e-mail messages going to Mac users, the missing resource fork may render the attachment unusable for those recipients. In those cases, deselect the Send Windows Friendly Attachments option that appears when you click on the Attach icon.

Change the Column Order for List View

If you rely on list-view windows on a daily basis, you may have discovered a limitation of the Finder. While it’s quite possible to choose which columns you want new list-view windows to display (just use View: Show View Options or type Command-J), you can’t control the order in which those columns appear. That is, if you prefer to see Size to the left of Date Modified, for example, you can drag the columns into that order for the window you’re viewing—but the change isn’t global, so you’ll have to do it again every time you open a list-view window. Here’s how to work around this limitation.

The first thing you need to do is set global list-view options. So open a folder in list view, select View: Show View Options, make sure it’s set to All Windows, and then pick a few columns to show—just make sure you change something. This ensures that the file you’re about to edit has all column headers in it.

Next, navigate to your user folder/Library/Preferences folder, make a backup of the .finder.plist file, store the backup somewhere safe, and drag the original file onto the TextEdit application icon. Now press Command-F to bring up the Find box, type StandardViewOptions , and press enter. TextEdit will highlight that string in a line that reads StandardViewOptions. This is the section of the file that controls the default look for list, icon, and column views. If you scroll down just a bit, the first section you’ll see should be for list view, and it starts with a line that reads N1sv.

Below that, you’ll see eight separate sections. Each one of these sections represents a list-view column; the value below the ColumnPropertyID key identifies the column. The eight possibilities are dnam (Name), phys (Size), kind (Kind), modd (Date Modified), ascd (Date Created), labl (Label), shvr (Version), and cmmt (Comments).

To rearrange the default column order, you need to cut the entire sections from to , and then paste them in the order in which you’d like them displayed. For example, to see the Label column after the Name column (Name must be the first column), scroll down to the section that has the labl key and cut the entire section, including the opening and closing tags.

Now scroll back up to the top of the StandardViewOptions section, and paste the labl section directly below the closing (
) tag for the dnam section. Arrange the other sections as you like; note that sections with a ColumnVisible key of 0 are those you’ve chosen not to see, so there’s no reason to reorder them.

When you’re done editing, save the file and quit TextEdit. To see your changes, you’ll need to restart the Finder. You could log out and log in, or use Activity Monitor (Applications/Utilities) to quit the Finder, and then click on its Dock icon to relaunch it. When you do, you should find that all list-view windows open in your preferred column order.

[Contributing Editor Rob Griffiths is the author of Mac OS X Power Hound, Panther Edition (O’Reilly, 2004) and runs the Mac OS X Hints Web site.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

71" DLP TV by Samsung!

So, your 61" is too small? Well, why not try a 71" Tv by Samsung? This SVP-71L8UH is a HDMI DLP TV with a 1920x1080 resolution and a 10000:1 contrast ratio. Not bad at 6000 EUR.

That's Right!

Saturday, August 20, 2005 Send Money to:

Congratulations. You will dig this. I guarantee it.

Seat Guru That's Right!

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THE ABOVE was my initial thought for this enty.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pimp My Shuffle!

Speck Products have just released a pretty sweet metal iPod Shuffle case. Machined from lightweight aluminum and finished with the eye-catching shine of nickel plating, the 2 part design with included Metal USB cap make it easy to synch and update. In A Word: Bitchin'!

Speck Products

That's Right,


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Podcasting Hit Parade: The Early Days

With the number of podcasts growing fast, each day brings new and sometimes raucous programming. But unlike blogs or Web sites, you can't skim these digital radio programs to get the gist -- you need to listen to them. So to help you get started, the staff of BusinessWeek Online has compiled a list of notable podcasts, ranging from some of our favorites from the genre's pioneers to a few of the newest programs around. And after you've listened to these podcasts, take their poll and let them know your favorite.

Here are Business Week Online's top picks for the new genre of Net radio.

Take Me To The Podcasts

My pick? That's Right, Hands down: Voices From The Vault

* If this link opens as a Real Audio file and you want to listen in iTunes, simply copy the URL, go to iTunes>Advanced>Open Stream and then paste. Dig.


Good Night Peter.

Among the Chatty Anchors, a Voice of Civility

The New York Times

He was not warm or cozily familiar. He was cool and even a little supercilious. If you invited Peter Jennings into your living room, he would be likely to raise an eyebrow at the stains on the coffee table. He was not America's best friend or kindly uncle. But in an era of chatty newscasters, jousting analysts and hyperactive commentators, he was a rare voice of civility.

That old-school formality is what will most be missing on the network news. On ABC, Mr. Jennings was a smooth, sophisticated anchor who could gracefully wing his way through the rawest breaking crises, from the Challenger explosion in 1986 to the Sept. 11 attacks. But so can many of the men and women who have been groomed to take his place someday.

What Mr. Jennings had that will be harder to replace was a worldliness that was rooted in his personality and also in his rich background of experience in the field.

Mr. Jennings, who died on Sunday, worked hard his entire life to overcome a flighty beginning: he never attended college, and got his start on Canadian television with the help of his father, a senior executive at the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Mr. Jennings became famous as the host of a dance show for teenagers and was only 26 when ABC News recruited him to be an anchor, more on the basis of his good looks and smooth delivery than anything else. He made up for it later, working as a correspondent in Vietnam, Beirut and Europe. His colleagues teased him about his dashing trench coats, but nobody looked better in Burberry or in black tie.

He took himself and the news seriously, so seriously that after the networks cut back on convention coverage in 2004, he insisted on anchoring those events gavel to gavel on ABC's tiny digital cable channel.

When bad things happened to the country, he was reassuringly calm and self-possessed, delivering live coverage of Sept. 11 without alarm or emotionalism. (And those few moments when he let some feeling show, choking a little and urging viewers to "call your children," brought home the gravity of the attack all the more poignantly.)

When bad things happened to him, he showed the same aplomb. When Mr. Jennings announced that he had to step down to be treated for advanced lung cancer in April, he shunned any hint of self-pity, thanking viewers for their support in the most reticent way possible.

"I will continue to do the broadcast; on good days my voice will not always be like this," he said, straining to sound jaunty. "Certainly, it's been a long time. And I hope it goes without saying that a journalist who doesn't value - deeply - the audience's loyalty should be in another line of work."

Mr. Jennings was not the last of the great white male news presenters, though it might have seemed that way after Tom Brokaw retired from NBC, Dan Rather resigned from CBS and CBS's chairman, Les Moonves, declared that the era of Voice of God anchors was over.

Brian Williams on NBC is as natty, self-possessed and buttoned-down as Mr. Brokaw and Mr. Jennings combined. Charles Gibson, who stepped in most often to replace Mr. Jennings when he began cancer treatment, proved a comfortingly familiar, competent face. For now at least, Bob Schieffer at CBS has introduced a no-nonsense note of the elder statesman after the nightly roller-coaster ride that was Dan Rather.

All of them remain in the classic anchor mold, but not one of them has the hauteur and dignity that Mr. Jennings brought to the news. Network newscasts have lost much of their audience and authority, but throughout all the setbacks, erosions and even his own fatal illness, he never lost his uncommon touch.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

America's Made For TV Snack

Orville Redenbacher's new, corny, but perfectly awesome tagline.
"America's Made For TV Snack."

That's Right,

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tang: There's a new space drink in town!

The Big Gulp 

NASA pisses away millions hauling H2O into orbit. But there's a better way - recycle astronaut urine. Just one question: How does it taste?

By Tom McNichol

People head to Reno for all sorts of reasons. Some want to gamble. Others are looking for a hasty wedding or quickie divorce. I've come to the Biggest Little City in the World to drink my own pee. Not straight up, of course. First, I'll run it through a new NASA water purification system that collects astronaut sweat, moisture from respiration, drain water, and urine - and turns it all into drinking water.

NASA desperately needs this technology. Water makes for a heavy - and expensive - payload. Over the past five years, the agency has spent $60 million delivering potable water to the International Space Station on the space shuttle (6 tons at a cost of about $40,000 per gallon). Deploying the Water Recovery System on the ISS will cut the volume of water hauled into space by two-thirds and free up enough room on the shuttle for four more astronauts.

I'm in Reno because this is the home of Water Security, a new company that is finding ways to use the NASA technology in extreme environments here on Earth. Company president Ray Doane can't wait to show me his magic box. "This is whiz-bang technology," he boasts, with an emphasis on the whiz.

Water Security has added a special filter to the NASA unit, creating a system that can scrub away 99.9 percent of all waterborne viruses, which could prove particularly useful in the developing world. The United Nations estimates that more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and that 10 million die each year as a result of contaminated water supplies and inadequate sanitation.

The six-stage system starts with a prefilter that removes large particles of sediment and debris, such as hair or lint, from contaminated liquid. Next, a carbon filter strips out the organic waste products contained in urine, like urea, uric acid, and creatinine, as well as pesticides and herbicides, which frequently leech into water supplies from farmland. The liquid then flushes through a cartridge developed by Water Security that contains tiny black beads of iodinated resins. Any microorganisms collide with the beads, which release iodine to kill the bugs.

"The iodine is released gradually into the water and is very stable over a wide range of temperatures and pHs," company vice president Ken Kearney says. "It's very predictable, and that's what you want in space. It can also take some of the dirtiest, nastiest water on the planet and produce clean, safe drinking water."

The water lingers briefly in a holding tank to give the iodine enough contact time for a complete kill. Next, a resin filter strips out the iodine, along with nitrates and heavy metals. Finally, the water moves through a filter that eliminates cryptosporidium (a waterborne parasite that's resistant to iodine) and provides a final "polish" for good taste.

At least that's what they tell me. A Water Security system is set up here at company headquarters, ready to be put to my own uric acid test. A big yellow bucket next to the unit is filled with water and then tainted with "Arizona dust," a common contaminant used by laboratories. I discreetly retire to a side office and emerge clutching a warm plastic cup. I pour the urine into the yellow bucket, taking care not to splash. The chemist stirs the brew with a long stick.

Human waste has bedeviled NASA engineers from the get-go. Alan Shepherd's first 15-minute suborbital flight was so short that no one thought to install a urine receptacle in his space suit. At T-minus 15 minutes, an electrical problem caused an 86-minute delay on the launchpad. Shepherd's bladder soon reached the bursting point, and he radioed the first-ever "Houston, we have a problem" message. After some deliberation, mission control had an answer: "Do it in the suit."

Gemini and Apollo astronauts wore plastic bags taped to their buttocks. After defecation, the crew member was required to seal the bag and knead it, mixing in a liquid-bactericide to provide the desired degree of "feces stabilization." The first men to walk on the moon stepped onto the lunar surface wearing astrodiapers - undershorts layered with absorbent material. Which may explain all the jumping up and down.

As a 1975 NASA study put it, "In general, the Apollo waste management system worked satisfactorily from an engineering standpoint. From the point of view of crew acceptance, however, the system must be given poor marks." For the space shuttle, the agency designed a $23 million toilet that freeze-dries solid waste so it can be transported back to Earth. Until recently, the gray water was dumped overboard, becoming an orbiting monument to mankind.

The water filtration system allows NASA to solve two problems at once. It eliminates the gray water disposal issue and recycles urine into drinking water for the astronauts. The agency is testing the system at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama - where employees run on treadmills as their sweat, respiratory moisture, and urine are collected, cleansed and consumed.

Water Security has already begun putting the technology to work in areas where freshwater is in short supply. This summer, global relief agency Concern for Kids deployed a foot-powered purification unit in northern Iraq. Robert and Roni Anderson, Concern's founders, loaded it onto the back of a Toyota pickup and drove to dozens of villages to purify their groundwater. The unit pumps out 5 gallons per minute, and a single day of purification can sustain a village of 5,000 people for a month. The cost is about 3 cents a gallon. Iraqi water companies, by comparison, charge $4 a gallon.

It's not just war-torn regions that are short on potable water. After the tsunami hit Indonesia last December, much of the freshwater supply became contaminated with salt water and toxic street runoff. Kearney says the Water Security system is perfectly capable of working in such natural-disaster scenarios. After all, the technology was originally tested on an open sewage ditch in Jakarta and produced water that met Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Back at Water Security HQ, the contents of the bucket get a final stir, and the experiment begins. The water is sucked through an intake hose and into the purification system - prefilter, carbon filter, iodinated resin, disinfectant holding tank, iodine scrub, and a polish. (Don't be shy with the polish, guys.)

After 30 seconds, water dribbles out of a nozzle and into a plastic cup. I raise it with a trembling hand. A toast to Alan Shepherd and all the brave astronauts who endured the wrong stuff in their space suits for the advancement of science: This number one's for you. I take a big astronaut gulp, lower the cup, and wait for the noxious aftertaste. Nothing.

The water tastes pretty good - it's definitely not Evian, but it is better than most city tap. Certainly more palatable than many light beers I've had, and not at all, uh, urinous. Move over,

Tang: There's a new space drink in town!

Thanks to Tom McNichol (