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May 31, 2003

Wireless etiquette, please?

I did some network stumbling today. I was curious to see how pervasive wireless access points have gotten, and how many use WEP to provide even minimal security.

I let my PowerBook run MacStumbler on the drive over to my parents’ house (Mapquest says it's 21 miles). I found 4 networks before I even left my neighborhood. By the time I reached their house, I had discovered about 20 networks. Three had WEP enabled. About half were named ‘linksys’ and broadcast on channel 6, while quite a few others were named ‘default’, also on channel 6.

The program I used doesn’t do passive mode/monitoring mode, which would discover networks that don’t advertise their name, so there may have been a few more out there. MacStumbler also doesn’t have a GPS interface, which would let me build a cool color map, but since I don’t have a GPS, I’m not complaining.

On a recent trip, I discovered a neighborhood access point that not only had no WEP password, but was using the default password on their gateway/router device, as well.

Question for the class: Is it wrong to utilize one of these open access points?

May 31, 2003 in General computing | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: iRide

At its winter team camp in December, the Saturn men's team looked almost like an Apple commercial, with Phil Zajicek camped near a roaring fire, loading up his PowerBook with digital photos and displaying his iPod, while Tim Johnson fiddled with his own digital music library. (VeloNews via MyAppleMenu)

Even VeloNews, the journal of competitive cycling, has a story on the new iPods. Part of the article considers the safety implications of riding on public roads with earphones, which is illegal in some states.

I think it's unsafe to ride the roads (certainly here in Atlanta) with 'phones in, but I've enjoyed using the iPod on the trail, where it helps longer rides pass the time.

May 31, 2003 in Apple - iPod | Permalink | Comments (2)

May 30, 2003

Review: Finding Nemo

Pixar does it again, with another movie that scores with kids and adults, featuring even more eye-popping animation.

Albert Brooks (born Albert Einstein) plays Marlin, a timid clownfish living on the Great Barrier Reef. A single father to Nemo, Marlin is powerless to keep Nemo from being captured on the first day of school. Marlin sets out to find and rescue Nemo, wherever he may be. On the way, Marlin encounters all sorts of sea life, and befriends forgetful Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres.

Meanwhile, Nemo is trapped in the aquarium of a Sydney dentist. Willem Dafoe plays brilliantly to type as the battle-scarred angelfish Gill who’s tried to escape the aquarium so often he’s lost count.

Unlike Dreamworks SKG’s Shrek, the art never becomes subservient to reality — the graphics are by turns spot-on realistic and brilliantly stylized.

No Randy Newman music, a bit of a surprise after he finally won the Oscar for Monsters, Inc.

At our screening, we also got a sneak preview of The Incredibles, Pixar’s next movie, due in November 2004. And, being Pixar, there was also a short, Knickknack, from the files of Pixar.

I love Pixar movies. I once took my entire team to see Toy Story 2 in place of our weekly meeting; one advantage of working in a building with a cinema. I got all 8 of my pretty sharp group within 10 feet of the box office before anyone even suspected my nefarious scheme.

Don’t forget to stick around for the credits; Pixar always makes it worth your while.

May 30, 2003 in Reviews | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2003

Gimme a break: iPod edition

Spymac.com :: iPod petition continues tradition

Some owners of earlier generation iPods are petitioning for Apple to support the Version 2.0 firmware on older iPods.

I’ve got to say, I don’t see much in the 2.0 firmware that’s worth a firmware upgrade. Yes, there are a couple of new games, on-the-fly playlists, and customizable menus. So what?

I’ve asked the folks at the Apple Store what they could say to talk me into the new iPod, and I can’t really see upgrading (don’t tell Christy). I love that it’s smaller, but that comes with a loss of battery life, down to around 7.5 hours.

Down in my most secret soul, I was hoping the new generation would support some photo or video features. I would love to be able to watch TV shows captured by my EyeTV on a device the size of the iPod. It wouldn’t even have to be color, although I doubt Apple would ever introduce a TV-like device that wasn’t.

The bigger drive capacity is somewhat attractive, but I usually only have about 2.5 gigs of songs on my 5-gig iPod, since I don’t put any songs rated less than 4 stars on the handheld.

If anything, I’m glad that Apple supported original iPod users for the AAC, iTunes Music Store, and reconfigured menus in Version 1.3.

May 19, 2003 in Apple - iPod | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Atkins update: Down 42

The interview with Alex Beam at The Boston Globe did eventually lead to being cited in The Globe.

Beam had a column on E1 of the April 27th paper called Carbo Cults: The Atkins Diet and the Great American Tradition of Extreme Eating. I would link to it, but the Globe charges $2.95 per story for access to the archives.

I’m the only “real person” quoted in the column, along with such books as Health Food Junkies: Overcoming the Obsession With Healthful Eating and Nature’s First Law: The Raw-Food Diet.

Here’s my bit:

Frank Steele, an Atlanta-based advertising executive whose parents were both Weight Watchers, has been posting his impressive progress with the Atkins diet on his website fsteele.dyndns.org. A recent entry: “I’m considering allowing myself one day off, but the Atkins book suggests doing so would mean another visit from the headaches that accompanied the onset of ketosis way back on the second and third days of the diet.” When I asked him if there were cultish aspects to Atkins, he answered, “There is an aspect of that, I guess. I’m a Macintosh user too, ” he added, half-joking, “so I’m fairly comfortable in that kind of a world.” Because he and his wife are both thriving on the Atkins regime, I asked him how they ever planned to get off. Steele is thinking of transferring his allegiance to the common-sense principles of the Harvard nutrition professor Walter Willett, who has reaped much publicity for his critique of the US Department of Agriculture’s “food pyramid.” As for Steele’s wife, she has moved on to the next, post-New Diet Revolutionary stage: “Atkins for Life.”

The diet lives after him; the food lies interred with his bones.

Not to get all crotchety, but Alex took what I said and came up with whatever served his purpose. I pretty distinctly said that I felt like Weight Watchers was more cultish than Atkins, with weekly affirmations, group leaders, and semi-public weigh-ins.

I allowed that there is a certain shared knowledge that gets discussed when you’re around other Atkins dieters, but that’s true of any subculture, from Linux geeks to hiphop fans to Game Boy users. I don’t think it rises to the level of a real cult, which is why the “there is an aspect of that, I guess.” I thought I emphasized the empiricism of Atkins for us: we’re on it because it works, not necessarily because we believe in it, especially for the long term. That’s why I’m considering going to something more along the lines of the Willett plan, which seems to represent current best practices of nutrition and public health professionals. It’s not really about “switching allegiance.” We also discussed my relative lack of success on conventional low-fat diets, but that didn’t really fit the profile.

Also, I don’t think I self-identified as an advertising executive, though perhaps I am. Also also, my mother is still a Weight Watcher, and my father has fallen off that wagon since the interview. I don’t want anyone to get the idea from the past tense in the story that they’ve recently died.

I have, by the way, gone off the Atkins straight and narrow a few times lately. I was scared to do TOSRV carb-free, so I gave myself free reign for the weekend. This weekend we went to Chattanooga, and sort of threw up our hands at eating low-carb in a strange place for three days, so we pretty much ate what we pleased there, as well.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the lapses, my weight seems stuck at around 226 or 227, 42 pounds down since November.

May 19, 2003 in Atkins Diet | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 13, 2003

EyeTV 45 days in...

The EyeTV has been a pretty successful purchase. I can now watch The Daily Show when I want, and I've made Sophie a DVD with MPEG movies of some of her favorite shows she can watch on any of three computers in the house.

I have some issues with the way the software works. It expects that you'll be capturing and viewing shows on the same box. I'm not. It's a pain to locate and transfer particular shows to a different computer. Within its application, EyeTV uses a thumbnail view so you can tell shows apart, but they're, well, smaller than a thumbnail. Until you've watched the show in the EyeTV player, there isn't even a thumbnail, just a large red "NEW". Better would be to choose a random frame, then overlay a small "NEW".

You're expected to manage all your content from within the EyeTV app, but you can't organize things in any order other than chronological. I, for one, would like to see them ordered by program, and to let me use some metadata to sort by a variety of criteria.

EyeTV stores the raw .MPG files on your drive, along with some related files. The names are very long hexadecimal names, like "00000000046f1b85.mpg", and the folders are named similarly, so it's very hard to tell what's what. It would be better if the folder got the name you gave the program being recorded, and each episode appended a date-based string to ensure uniqueness.

I really want it to operate like an Ethernet version of the box Samsung is developing for Comcast that's essentially a Tivo plus a video router, so you can pull up a menu and watch shows from elsewhere in your house.

Looked at another way, the EyeTV should be a television equivalent to iTunes, and I want the new iTunes networking features built-in. I know I'll have trouble streaming TV from home over an ADSL connection, but I would like to be able to a) review the available programming, and b) call up a stream of a chosen show from other computers in the house over 802.11 or good old 100Base-T. It's okay if this uses Rendezvous, but it would be nice if I could also stream to a Windows box, which suggests a web front end and QuickTime.

On a related note, I should be able to program the box remotely to tape a show or not to tape a show. This could be in conjunction with the guide provider, where I update a web page that the EyeTV box checks, or simply by connecting directly over the network.

May 13, 2003 in General computing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 08, 2003

Round on the ends...

And high in the middle...

O-HI-O!

There's a Big Ten (athletic conference) store in the Columbus airport. On the TV outside, they're running a tape of the Fiesta Bowl, where Ohio State won the mythical national championship.

The surprise is ... There were at least 20 people standing there watching it! This is a game played January 3rd!

Gooooo Bucks!

May 8, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2003

And not that terrible

Today, Stuart is two. A picture for his adoring public:

May 7, 2003 in Family | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Adventure

by Sophie E. Steele in Mrs. Clear's 1st Grade Class

detacated to Cristy R. Steele my mother

There once was a girl named Jessica. She went to a school called Lakewood Elementry. She was only six years old, and in first grade, but for a six year, she had a very wild imagination.

Jessica really really wanted to go on an adventure. She wanted to see tigers in India. She really wanted to see a giraffe. She had seen a giraffe before in the ZOO.

"To the zoo!!" yelled Jessica. She got on her dogs back and went to the zoo. When she got to the zoo, Jessica searchd all of the cages until finlley she found a giraffe. She climed into the cage. She hopd onto the giraffe's back. The giraffe was so scared that it jumped right out of the cage.

Jessica was having so much fun that she did not relize she almost ran over a flamingo. She was riding on the giraffe like a queen. The animal ran all the way to Jessica's house.

And Jessica fell off the giraffe's back, but the giraffe cauht her and set her dowen. She hugged the giraffe. I think that's all my adventure for today. "Bye," said Jessica. She went inside.

"Jessica!!" called her mother, "Will you read a book?"

"Sure, Mom," yelled Jessica, but she had other plans.

May 7, 2003 in Family | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2003

Another step toward the iServe

Nvidia Takes Aim At The "Digital Hub". Nvidia will likely begin optimizing its chipsets for managing multiple audio and video streams throughout the home, based upon comments made Tuesday by the company's chief executive officer. [Technology News from eWEEK and Ziff Davis]

This is key. By combining hardware hi-res video compositing and special effects, with a multi-stream router-server - Home LANs can move REAL video - and provide MPEG-2 quality video - everywhere. No more shitty quality, "streaming" video! [Marc's Voice]

May 6, 2003 in iServe and home servers, Seen browsing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack