Technology Archives (56 posts)
Recently I’ve been seeing ads for Dolby Atmos on Rotten Tomatoes and was curious. I just purchased a home theatre receiver that has Dolby Surround 7.1 and now there is Dolby Atmos. Clicking on the ad took me a Dolby page but there was very little information that actually explained what Dolby Atmos is or does.
The video above put things into perspective. Dolby Atmos is more immersive than 7.1 sound by using overhead speakers and panning of sound from speaker to speaker. Check Dolby’s website to learn more about Dolby Atmos.
If you live in Toronto and want to hear what Dolby Atmos sounds like then head over to SilverCity Yonge-Eglinton Cinemas (Cineplex) and watch Life of Pi to experience the latest in cinema audio.
It’s been a while since Microsoft redesigned their brand image and I have to say that I like the colour in the new logo. The video below gives some idea as to what the different colours represent – blue (Windows), red (Office), green (Xbox) but what does yellow represent?
Hopefully they update their sites soon as they are a mess of old and new logos. Why is it that when you click on a product such as Windows or Office that the Microsoft logo disappears altogether and you can’t easily get back to the Microsoft homepage? Bizarre.
Posted in Technology at 8:28 PM
If you use Bell Internet service then chances are you’re getting ripped off. Bell has a nasty habit of changing their Internet packages and never telling their customers about the great savings.
In Ontario, Bell is trying to be competitive with Rogers and other ISPs. If you switch and become a Bell customer you can get some great deals on Internet service. I recently checked the new prices for some of the packages and found that they had dropped but I was still paying the old price! Bell will never tell you that you can save money by reviewing your Internet service. Why would they? Somebody has to pay for the subsidized service of their new customers.
I’m using Bell’s Fibe 12 service and pay $54.95 a month. I also have to rent a Bell modem for $4.95. So for $59.90 a month I get:
- Download speeds of up to 12 Mbps
- Upload speeds of up to 1 Mbps
- 50 GB of bandwidth
When I checked the Bell website I discovered that the Fibe 12 package now costs $46.95 month and you don’t have to rent a Bell modem. According to the Bell representative that I spoke to, back in August 2011 they lowered the price and removed the mandatory modem rental. I’ve been paying an extra $12.95 per month to Bell and figure I’m out around $64.75. Unless you ask Bell to update your plan they will happily take your money. Review your internet service with Bell. Check your latest bill and find out if you’re paying too much.
I Switched To Fibe 16
I decided to move up to Bell’s Fibe 16 plan for $48.95 per month which will give me:
- Download speeds of up to 16 Mbps
- Upload speeds of up to 1 Mbps
- 65 GB of bandwidth
This is still cheaper than what I am paying now with a slower plan and I don’t have to rent a modem each month (they said they would waive the one time modem fee).
Lower Monthly Bandwidth
In the last 3 days, Bell has reduced the monthly bandwidth limits with each of their packages. The Fibe 12 package now allows only 40 GB per month of uploads/downloads. It used to be 50 GB per month.
The Fibe 16 package allowed 75 GB per month when I signed up earlier in the week. It now shows as being 65 GB per month! Crafty buggers. For an additional $5/month you can order what Bell calls usage insurance â€“ 40 GB of additional bandwidth.
So a Fibe 16 package with usage insurance would cost $53.95 per month and give you a download cap of 105 GB. If you go over that limit then you pay $1/GB extra. Criminal.
Check your Internet service package with Bell Canada. Review it and make sure you’re not paying too much because Bell won’t tell you this. They’re too busy trying to figure out how they can squeeze more money out of their customers. Their new strategy seems to be: increase the download speeds and reduce the monthly bandwidth caps.
Posted in Technology at 10:40 PM
Last week, several news agencies including the CBC reported Bell admits internet metering problem. I knew there was a problem when I went to check my own Internet usage and saw the screen above. The message said that the usage tracker will be restored in an hour. I’ve been waiting 178 hours.
I want to know if I’ve gone over my measly 50 GB for my monthly billing cycle. I purchased an additional 40 GB each month for an additional $5/month and I don’t think I’m in danger of using up all 90 GB but I’d like to know how much Netflix.ca has affected my bandwidth consumption.
I’ve gone over my 50 GB limit in the past (before I added the extra bandwidth for $5/month) and Bell dinged my for $2.50/GB. For some months I paid an additional $5-10 in penalties for going over my limit. Now I’m learning that Bell may have been ripping me off? No wonder people hate the greedy telcos and they’re whining about not being able to make a profit by gouging their customers.
I recently said that Netflix is the future of home video based on my experience of using the service here in Canada. I’m not surprised that 20 percent of primetime US bandwidth consists of Netflix traffic. The user experience is excellent. To borrow one of Steve Jobs’ favourite phrases, “it just works.”
How I Access Netflix.ca
- a Sony PlayStation 3 and Sony Bravia TV (32-inch LCD)
- a Mac Pro (Quad-Core Intel Xeon) with 27-inch LED Cinema Display
I should mention that I’m using Bell Internet’s Fibe 12 service with download speeds of up to 12 Mbps. The Netflix Tech Blog published some information on the top ISP networks in the US where the top HD streams were 4,800 kbps. Rogers leads in Canada with a very fast 3,020 kbps average.
I like the simplicity of the Netflix user interface which seems to be fairly consistent from PlayStation to iPad to the website. You can browse movie titles by genre, new arrivals or by letting Netflix.ca suggest titles for you that I found to be fairly accurate. Browsing seems to be fastest in a web browser and the iPad for me. Using the PS3 to navigate the screens and search for movie titles was a little clunky but that might have something to do with me being a 42-year-old and not an adolescent gamer.
Setting up an account was fast and painless. I love that Netflix accepts PayPal for your monthly fee. Once you’ve confirmed your username and password you can use up to 6 unique devices for use with your account. This is where Netlfix has a huge advantage over similar movie services from the Sony PlayStation Store, and others â€“ it’s not chained to specific hardware.
The best thing about Netflix is the ease of use in the interface and the speed at which you can access movies. With my set up it takes about two seconds to stream a movie â€“ no lengthy Blu-ray loading times, no annoying movie trailers, no DVD layer changes, no waiting. This is the number one reason that Blu-ray discs are already obsolete.
While watching movies and television shows I have never had a buffering problem or interruption (waiting for video to load and continue playing). I haven’t tested this while somebody else was using my home network to download a file or watch a YouTube video. My understanding of Netflix works is that it will adjust the quality of your video stream to ensure that it continues to play.
Scanning through a movie is easier and better than scanning through a Blu-ray and DVD in my opinion. Netflix displays thumbnail images of the frames that enable you to quickly find a particular scene.
If you don’t finish watching a movie or show, Netflix remembers where you left off and lets you resume watching at a later time. I never could get this to work properly on my Blu-ray player and it would aggravate me to end that I had to skip through the trailers and menus. I suppose that if I read the manual I could have figured it out but who reads manuals these days?
Audio and Video Quality
The audio and video quality of most of the programming is excellent. Not everything streams in high definition but when it does it looks great. I’ve been watching the show Justified and if you look at the screen capture below, the quality is quite good.
Unfortunately when I watched Saturday Night Live: The Best of Christopher Walken the video was standard definition and the quality was horrible! The video was encoded poorly revealing jaggies. You can’t really see the aliasing in the video capture below but it is quite noticeable during playback on a television screen.
There are no extras. No director’s commentary track. No featurettes. No online games. Nothing. If you want extras then rent/purchase the disc.
When I find the time, I enjoy watching a favourite film with the director’s commentary. Sometimes I’ll watch the extras on a DVD or Blu-ray disc but most of the time the extras suck. The movie studio marketing departments often pass of featurettes and documentaries as value-added extra features to justify the inflated price of a $30 3-disc special edition. Most of us just want to watch the $10 discount bin version of the movie which could be why Blu-ray disc sales are on the decline and Netflix is enjoying huge growth in its subscriber base.
If you’re still not convinced that Netflix is for you then try it out for free. You really can’t lose. Thanks to Paul for asking about my Netflix viewing experience which led to this review.
Three years ago I wondered if phantom power was real or just a lot of hype. Government research indicates that phantom power is very real and manufacturers of electronic devices have been forced to build greener products but standby power is still a big problem.
The Globe and Mail has an interesting story on phantom power and if you’re a homeowner you may want to find out if pulling the plug on phantom power can save hundreds of dollars a year. I was surprised to learn that a subwoofer can cost approximately $9.50 per year in standby mode. I just unplugged mine.
From what I’ve read, the best thing to do is purchase a bunch of power bars. Plug your computer equipment, cellphone chargers, gaming equipment and other electronic devices into them. Before you go to bed or leave the house for the day, just turn off the power bar. It sounds like a hassle but before long it becomes routine and you’re saving money while reducing your carbon footprint.
Posted in Technology at 10:21 AM
The CRTC decision on Internet billing has generated a lot of interesting press including Terence Corcoran’s column in the National Post that says the billing reversal would be bad policy. The subhead of his column says “CRTC move to user based billing would affect few”.
I can’t help but feel that Terence Corcoran is completely out to lunch when it comes to technology matters. Read his article and you’ll wonder if he has broadband Internet service in his home or still uses a typewriter to file his stories.
Most of my friends and family go through 50 GB a month in no time. I’ve written about bandwidth caps in the past and judging from the comments I receive, people hate them and feel ripped off.
If you live in a household of 3-5 people that are over the age of 10 then you know how fast 50 GB of bandwidth can disappear. In our house of 3 people our Internet connection is used for:
- web surfing via an iPhone, iPad, PS3, laptop or two desktop computers
- Netflix movies
- iTunes movies, music and apps (Rage HD for iPad alone is 1.18 GB)
- online gaming via PS3
I don’t think Terence Corcoran understands the average Canadian Broadband user. He seems to believe that the recent CRTC decision would affect very few Canadians:
One telecom company official put the number at about 30,000. These are relatively small number of Internet users who access the broadband network through third-party service providers such as TekSavvy Solutions Inc.
What about the 265,000 people that have voiced their opinion through Stop The Meter On Your Internet Usage? I bet the number will be up to 500,000 by tomorrow. I’ve noticed a lot of people posting it on Facebook and Twitter this morning.
People that aren’t concerned about Internet billing or bandwidth caps likely:
- don’t use the Internet very much
- don’t have a Facebook account
- never watch videos on YouTube
- have never watched a movie on Netflix.ca
- and probably write for the Financial Post.
Canadians are sick of getting gouged by Rogers, Bell, Telus and Shaw for going over their monthly bandwidth caps when it comes to Internet usage. The Canadian ISPs think that 50 GB is enough bandwidth for every Canadian in a given month. Bill Gates is famously misquoted as having said that “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” Unfortunately Bell and Rogers have made it clear that 50 GB ought to be be enough for anybody.
OpenMedia.ca has a great campaign called Stop The Meter On Your Internet Usage which has gone viral. When I signed their petition this morning they had around 265,000 signatures.
The petition is against a recent CRTC decision on Internet billing that will lead to Canadians paying even more for their Internet usage. The public outcry against this decision has turned into a major political issue in Ottawa. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is now getting involved in the dispute and the CRTC decision may be reversed.
CBC’s Strombo has a nice clip summarizing what’s at stake.
Earlier in the week I read Robert Scoble’s article - Starbucks CIO shows why next version of Windows is “risky business” for Microsoft. He certainly paints a dark, dark future for Microsoft.
Bill Gates created one of the most successful companies on the planet. Under Steve Balmer’s watch, Bill’s empire seems to be sliding into obscurity. Microsoft no longer seems influential or even relevant.
When was the last time you saw lines around the block for a Windows 7 Series phone, a Zune or anything from Microsoft? As the world moves more toward mobile computing, Microsoft seems to be slowly fading away.
The Influence of Apple
Starbucks isn’t representative of all North American computer users but I was surprised to find out that iPads and iPhones are the most used devices in Starbucks stores. Because iOS doesn’t support Flash, Starbucks doesn’t support Flash. Why upset all those Apple customers drinking lattes in your coffee shop? They’ve decided to support HTML 5 on their social network to so that people with iPads and iPhone and iPod Touch devices could use them properly. That is influence.
When was the last time that you heard an organization the size of Starbucks say that they were going to support Microsoft’s Silverlight? Windows Mobile 7?
Balmer Lacks Vision
Unfortunately for Microsoft, I think Balmer lacks vision and doesn’t know where to take the company. I guess you could argue that lack of vision has always been Microsoft’s problem. They tend to follow more than they innovate. This goes back to the very first version of Windows right up to Windows 7 which to me, looks like a clone of Mac OS X.
It’s easy to bash Microsoft but they are still a very successful company. Ten years ago Microsoft owned the computer world, Apple was coming off life support, Netscape and AOL were major online players and Google was just taking off. Imagine what the technology landscape will look like in another ten years.
Is Microsoft the Next Blockbuster?
I think Microsoft will continue to flounder, lose market share and some of the influence they use to have. They’ll continue to milk the profits from Windows and Office but unless they produce a “game changer” soon, they could become the next Blockbuster. And if Balmer doesn’t step aside soon, Microsoft will continue to fade.
If you don’t think that Balmer is part of the problem, just watch this video from 10 years ago:
Microsoft Tends To Follow More Than It Leads
Remember the misguided Microsoft Kin that was killed off earlier in the year? It reminds me of Microsoft Bob, Windows Marketplace and the brown Zune. None of these products took off or became the next big thing because Microsoft tends to follow more than it leads.
While Microsoft continues to flounder, Google and Apple continue to surge ahead with innovative operating systems and award winning products. Microsoft is showing promise with Windows Phone 7 but is it enough? I would hate to be in Balmer’s position or the project lead on Windows 8.
Posted in Technology at 8:19 PM
Who is writing the copy for the new Samsung GALAXY Tab website?
I thought the headlines were a little awkward to read. After a run through the site I discovered that most of the copy is unintentionally funny. Somebody did a very poor job in the translation department.
I can’t believe that a corporate giant like Samsung would release with headlines like:
- HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THAT FLASH IS PLAYED ON THE FULL WEB BROWSING PAGE?
- DO YOU HAVE TO CONTACT WITH THE COLLEAGUE FOR THE URGENT WORK DURING A COSY TIME?
- DO YOU WANT TO GET VARIOUS CONTENTS FROM BOOKS, NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES AT A TIME?
I half expected to see ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US buried in the copy as a joke. Sadly, this is the real deal. i wonder how long it will take them to figure out how embarrassingly bad their site is? If Apple’s agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day ever released something like this they would be fired in a second.
Don’t forget. GALAXY Tab give you “More smiles on the go.” Visit Samsung GALAXY Tab for more smiles.
Posted in Technology at 5:43 PM
I saw a prototype of this radio at the Interior Design Show in Toronto and would love to have one of these radios sitting on my desk. You won’t be able to purchase one until October 2010. Check the Science + Sons website for more details.
Posted in Technology at 4:39 PM
Anyone that is a regular reader of this site knows that I’ve written a few posts about Rogers Internet service. I just came across Boycott Rogers!, a website where unhappy Rogers customers can commiserate and share horror stories. You’ll find information on customer service nightmares, public cancellations and help with canceling your Rogers contracts.
I’ve been reading a lot of the press around Windows 7 and every article seems to say the same thing - Windows 7 is great because it works better and faster than Vista.
Yesterday Steve Ballmer was in Toronto and said that “Vista was not a mistake. Vista was controversial”. Steve, Vista was an abysmal failure! Softchoice did a sampling of 450,000 corporate PCs and found that only 3 per cent of them were running Vista. That doesn’t sound like success.
I’m sure that Windows 7 is a huge improvement over Vista and a good wake up call for Microsoft. Windows 7 has undergone massive beta-testing involving 8 million testers, something Microsoft should have done with Vista. You can’t expect people to purchase beta software that is slow and plagued with problems.
I’m still running XP on my Dell and have no intention of changing that. My machine may meet the minimum system requirements for Windows 7 but I know and you know that it will run like an old man in a pit of quicksand.
Posted in Technology at 12:21 PM
About halfway through the video I realized why Miller’s concept isn’t revolutionary or very inventive. Most of the “revolutionary” user interface ideas in 10/GUI are really Apple interface ideas or technologies.
Pinching and zooming? That isn’t new. We’ve had this on the iPhone for a couple of years now!
Using your hand to touch a screen or a pad instead of using a mouse? Apple’s laptops have been using Multi-Touch trackpads for quite some time. It’s not a stretch to think that Apple will come out with a larger version that can accommodate two handed gestures as Miller suggests.
Did I mention that 10/GUI looks like a larger version of the iPhone OS with a few embellishments? The process of switching programs in 10/GUI is almost identical to sliding from one app screen to another on your iPhone. Hardly innovative.
R. Clayton Miller made a really slick 10/GUI video but I don’t find it to be very inventive or revolutionary. Apple has been slowly integrating touch technologies into its products and software for several years. Rumours about an Apple Touch Pad computer abound.
If any one company is going to reinvent the desktop it would be Apple.
Posted in Technology at 4:19 PM
The BBC explains why smartphones are not suffering in the recession and how they are becoming the new computing platform for many of us.
Smartphones are really the personal computers of the not too distant future. I’ve talked to a few people that don’t bother taking their laptops on business trips any more. They take their iPhone’s instead.
Depending on the type of business that you do you can get away with this. I don’t do any designing or coding on my iPhone, yet. If you want, the iPhone is a great way to stay connected with clients and remain online when you’re out of the office. It has been years since anyone got excited about computing platforms and smartphones are the beginning of a huge shift in computing and communication.
Think of all the things that an iPhone or a BlackBerry can do right now. Imagine the crazy apps that these phones, or should I say computers will be able to do in a few years.
If you’ve never heard of TED then you’re missing out on some of the best entertainment and learning that isn’t on TV. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
All around the globe there are TED conferences where some of the world’s most fascinating people are given 18 minutes to share what’s on their minds. Below is a sampling of some TED talks that I’ve recently watched and bookmarked.
Taryn Simon’s large format photographs reveal parts of America that most people will never see such as the JFK Airport quarantine area, artwork at CIA headquarters and a research facility with 75 cadavers on a 6 acre plot of land. The second part of Simon’s talk is a series of portraits. Each photo features a wrongly accused death-row inmate that was mistakenly identified in a line-up photo.
Once the exec editor at WIRED magazine, Kevin Kelly likes to talk about “cool tools”. His discussion about the web as The Cloud and a single machine is insightful and fascinating. Find out more by watching his talk at TED. (Thanks to Karen for this link).
This is one of the funnier TED talks that you will see. John Lloyd entertains with a series of questions and clever observations about things unseen. (Link via Daring Fireball)
One of the more interesting predictions that Negroponte makes is “that fingers are a very, very high-resolution input medium.” for a computing interface. Can you say iPhone?
Chris Jordan uses his large-format photography to help us visualize some of the shocking statistics that we live with each day.
My monthly bills from Bell Canada have been increasing steadily yet I haven’t added any new services. The biggest change was with my Internet services. Back in March I was paying $45.95/month for unlimited DSL service and $2.00/month for a modem lease.
This month my modem lease has almost doubled to $3.95/month. I still have the same modem. The speed of my service hasn’t increased. So how does Bell get away with doubling the rental of a modem?
I called Bell and they gave me a lame explanation about upgrades to infrastructure to maintain the same quality of service and yadda, yadda, yadda. That has nothing to do with rental of a cheap little modem so I asked the customer care specialist why the Bell High Speed service part of my bill didn’t increase instead. How can I be charged more for a modem that has sat in my house for two years and not been replaced?
I told the customer care specialist that I was going to buy a modem and return the one I was leasing. Why would I want go from paying $24/year to $47.40/year for a modem lease? I’m sure I can find a modem at Tiger Direct or a computer store on College Street for less than $50.
To my surprise, the customer could care less specialist said that Bell would still have to charge me $3.95/month for a modem lease with my Internet service! If Bell had buried this service increase in the Bell High Speed portion of my bill I would probably let it go.
I’m going to file a complaint with the CRTC and find out if anyone else has dumped their modem lease successfully.
Posted in Technology at 9:42 AM
The antenna is making a comeback in Toronto. People are buying a antenna’s to pick up free HDTV signals from Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo. In some cases you may need to buy some coaxial cable and an HDTV tuner but that’s nothing compared to what it costs to watch HDTV on cable and satellite these days. To
I use Bell ExpressVu to get my HDTV programming. Last month my bill jumped from $85 to $90 per month. No explanation given. I guess Bell’s profits are down.
The satellite bill is a business write-off for me but I can’t believe that I pay that much to watch television. When I was a kid we watched TV for free. We had an antenna on our roof that was hooked up to a dial on the top of the TV set. The dial was hooked up to a small motor that could rotate the antenna and improve your reception.
I download the shows that I miss (don’t have a PVR) and hardly watch any of the movie channels I pay for. I bet that I could buy all of the TV shows I actually watch, from iTunes, and I would be paying far less thatn $90 a month. Television is going to change a lot in the next couple of years. No wonder the cable and satellite companies are looking for handouts from the CRTC.
The only thing keeping me tied to satellite TV are some of the specialty channels that my wife likes to watch. It’s the only way she can watch the shows that she directs and produces. The consolation is that we can use the satellite bill as a business expense. Still, I hate paying ridiculous amounts of money to an oligopoly like Bell Canada.
Three years ago I wrote about Rogers’ bandwidth limit of 60 GB per month and people are still angry and commenting about it.
Rogers refers to bandwidth limits as the nicer sounding usage allowance. But is 60 GB per month enough? It’s 2009 and people are using more bandwidth than ever before.
Usage Allowance is Good
Usage allowance is good for Rogers. Their website makes it sound like imposing bandwidth limits is a good thing for their customers:
To continue to meet your needs for speed, reliability and continuous improvements to the network, each of our service options now includes a usage allowance.
Imposing monthly usage allowances on Internet services lets Rogers charge their customers more money in the form of expensive plans (95 GB per month for $54.95) or usage penalties — if you use more bandwidth than your service plan allows you are billed for the additional bandwidth.
You Don’t Really Need More Than 60 GB Do You?
According to Rogers’ website, with a 60 GB allowance you can:
- download 15 movies
- play online games for 2,000 hours (83 days)
- download 15,400 songs
If 60 GB of bandwidth isn’t enough you can upgrade to a 95 GB allowance plan that allows you to:
- download 24 movies
- play online games for 3,000 hours (133 days)
- download 24,300 songs
It seems like 60 GB would be enough for most people according to Rogers’ research but a quick glance at the comments from my earlier entry indicates that 60 GB isn’t enough bandwidth for a lot of people.
I’ve never gone over my 60 GB limit and I would describe myself as a moderate to heavy web user. I use my home Internet service for my business and I’m online all day long. There are 3 other people in my house that are online at various times and I still haven’t hit the 60 GB limit. Maybe my situation is unique. For all I know I fit the profile of the average Internet user.
If you were to put a limit on your bandwidth, what would it be? Do you use more than 60 GB per month on a regular basis?
I am paranoid when it comes to keeping a backup of my computer files.
I backup my files every hour using Apple’s Time Machine software. The backups happen automatically and on a few occasions these backups have saved me a lot of grief.
I also use SuperDuper! to make a bootable backup of my main hard drive to an external LaCie FireWire drive. This saved my bacon a few months ago when my Mac refused to start.
Backing up my files has saved me days of work and frustration on a number of occasions. If you run a business and you don’t do daily backups then you are a complete fool. It’s only a matter of time until you learn your lesson.
I have plenty of backups but most of these are sitting on my desk in front of me. This is a problem that has always bothered me.
What happens if somebody steals my computer? What happens if my house burns down? My backups will be gone and so will my business.
Off-site backups are the answer but they are usually infrequent and a hassle to perform. I know that I need to get another external hard disk and make a backup of my backups and take them to a friend’s house, but I don’t.
Online Backups from Backblaze
Backblaze provides online backups for $5 per month. It works with Mac and PC and you have unlimited storage. One of the best things about Backblaze is that he backups are automatic. Your files get backed up when your computer is idle.
The only problem I have now is that Backblaze only supports Macs with Intel processors. I have an older Power Mac G5. Yet another reason to upgrade my computer this year.
Williams-Sonoma has a nifty gadget called the Modeâ„¢ Premium Home Recycling Center that compacts your recycling to save space.
We recycle a lot in our household and our recycling bin never seems to have enough room. I could upgrade to a larger size recycling bin at no cost but I live in the city of Toronto where red tape rules. I’ve been trying for 3 months to get a larger bin without any success.
Posted in Technology at 4:47 PM
The new Palm Pre looks like a worthy competitor to the iPhone. The hardware stands out from most of the phones I’ve seen. It also has a nicely designed interface, something that Microsoft and Blackberry are sorely lacking. Can’t wait to see a review and a price for this.
Posted in Technology at 12:12 AM
Director David Fincher made The Curious Case of Benjamin Button using a tapeless HD workflow and Final Cut Studio. I love these articles about the filmmaking process.
How is this for scary? Almost 1 in 5 HDTV owners can’t tell the difference between HD and standard definition TV!
According to a recent study by Leichtman Research Group, 18% of HDTV owners were watching standard definition programming when they thought they were watching HD programming. In June of this year, only 45 per cent of HDTV owners knew what Blu-ray was according to a survey by the NPD Group.
I see a lot of people watching stretched standard definition programming on their widescreen HD sets all of the time. To make matters worse I’m guessing that a lot of people aren’t setting up their Blu-ray players properly, myself included.
I was so excited and in such a rush to use my new Blu-ray player this past weekend that I watched half of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull before I realized that I was watching everything in 480i instead of 1080p.
At 480 lines interlaced, things look better than my old DVD player. At 1080 lines progressive, the video looks outstanding!
The default settings on my Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player set all video content to widescreen. I was watching Hitchcock’s Sabotage (1936) last night had to muck about the settings to display the movie in its proper aspect ratio of 1.33 : 1. The default settings on the player don’t detect the aspect ratios of video content and will try to display everything in a 16 : 9 ratio that stretches everything.
Posted in Technology at 10:13 PM
I never read PC Magazine but occasionally (once a year) I may pick up MacWorld. Computer magazines are out of date as soon as they hit the stands. You can get more up to date information from their websites which is why we no longer have MacUser, MacWEEK (my favourite), MacAddict, BYTE and Compute!
Posted in Technology at 7:25 PM
The spec for USB 3.0 indicates that it will be 10 times faster than USB 2.0 which is currently used in your tortoise-like external hard drive.
- USB 1.1: 9.3 hours
- USB 2.0: 13.9 minutes
- USB 3.0: 70 seconds
Now that Apple appears to be dumping FireWire in their laptops, there has been speculation that USB 3.0 might be taking its place. Unfortunately the final spec for USB 3.0 won’t complete until next year. From there it could take another year before we see USB 3.0 in new Macs if at all.
For more information see 25GB in 70 seconds with USB 3.0.
Posted in Technology at 10:23 PM
I wouldn’t rank the Godfather movies as my favourites but I know a few people that absolutely love them. All three movies have been completely restored for a Blu-ray DVD release and they might be worth another look.
Slate magazine has a great piece on Rediscovering Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy on Blu-ray that goes into some detail about the restoration process and why this version of the films will be the best anyone has seen in 30 years.
If you were too young to see the original theatrical release of The Godfather in 1972 then you might be in luck. If you live in New York, LA or Toronto you’ll be able to see the newly restored version this month.
Posted in Technology at 9:43 PM
HD DVD has lost the format war. There have been reports all over the web that Toshiba is pulling the plug on HD DVD. It will no longer manufacture HD DVD players.
The format war is over according to Ain’t It Cool News, now go buy a Blu-ray DVD player. Thanks to Ryan for the link.
The final nail in the coffin came on Friday when Wal-Mart Stores Inc announced they were dropping support for HD DVD.
Update: Reuters published a confirming that Toshiba will halt production of future HD DVD players. They’re expected to lose hundreds of millions of dollars from their HD DVD efforts.
Sony lost the Betamax/VHS format war in the 80s so winning the Blu-ray/HD DVD format war is a really big deal (not to mention that high-definition DVD will be billion dollar industry). Wired magazine thinks that downloads will kill Blu-ray but that’s just nonsense. Bandwidth isn’t exactly increasing exponentially or getting a lot cheaper. Until that happens, then Blu-ray has nothing to worry about.
Posted in Technology at 2:15 PM
The Batman Phone inspired by the television series is so, so tempting. It’s a no-dial red desk phone with flashing light.
At $112 USD it seems a little extravagant but think of how cool that would be to have on your desk.
Posted in Technology at 2:42 PM
When I was 18 I bought a Timex Ironman watch that worked for over 6 years. Since then I’ve had a number of wristwatches that never seemed to last for more than 2 years — Alfred Sung, Seiko, Fossil, Swatch and others. All of these watches were in the $100 - $200.
It may not be the most glamorous watch in the world but I love my Ironman for 5 reasons:
- it’s proven to actually work for more that 2 years
- water resistant to 100 metres
- costs less than $100
- includes a stopwatch, alarm, timer and has dual timezones
I found a review that has a good tip for the dual time zone feature. Keep the time the same for the second time zone but switch to a 24-hour clock view. When you press the START button to view the second time zone you’ll get the 24-hour clock.
If you’re tired of designer wrist watches that only seem to last for two years then I suggest you try an Ironman for a change.
Yesterday the 1394 Trade Association announced that the speed of Firewire will quadruple to 3.2 gigabits per second or (400 MB/second). I like the fact that you won’t need new connectors or cables to take advantage of the faster Firewire drives.
Firewire 800 drives currently transfer data at speeds of 800 megabits (100 MB/second). According to a 1394 Trade Association press release, the new format will also be “fast enough to move even uncompressed HD signals over long distances at much lower cost than solutions such as HDMI.”
Posted in Technology at 1:56 PM
How much electricity is your fridge consuming each month? How much phantom load (idle current, vampire power, wall wart) does your cell phone charger suck out of your wallet each year?
If you leave a cell phone or iPod charger plugged in all the time, it can draw a minute amount of power known as phantom load. Over the course of a year, this wasted power can amount to a lot of wasted money. Or can it? Are sites like TreeHugger wasting our time with these alarmist claims or is there some truth to them?
Moreover, if you are using an older appliance, then it is most likely consuming more energy when not in use. Obviously, the best route to go would be to just go ahead and purchase a new, energy-efficient appliance, but for most of us that may be too expensive. You could always simply replace the old, dilapidated parts in your appliance with newer, more efficient parts. Appliance parts for General Electric, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, and other major brands, are not to hard to find. Even better, replacing older parts with newer ones should not be too hard to do on your own.
Here are some facts:
- Home Power magazine found the average American household supports 1.45 kilowatt hours of phantom loads per day
- The US department of Energy states that “75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip.”
- The National Energy Board of Canada notes that there is an “increasing phantom load or standby losses per household. This is the energy used by appliances and electronics when they are turned ‘off’. This demand is usually unknown or not thought of by homeowners, hence ‘phantom’.”
Okay, so our microwaves and DVD players use power when they aren’t actually turned on but how much does this really add up to over the course of a year? Is it really worth getting down on your hands and knees and turning a power bar on and off each time you want to watch Heroes?
According to Ideal Bite, in the average home, “40% of all electricity is used to power home appliances while they’re turned off.” Now, if that is true then the notion of phantom load has my full attention.
Another website, says that, “phantom loads make up approx. 2%-8% of your electric costs.” So who should I believe? I think that there has to be some savings to reducing the amount of phantom power in your home.Kill-A-Watt that can tell you how much power a device is consuming in your home.
For $29.95 USD you can find out how much that 50-inch LCD HDTV costs by the hour, day, week, month, or an entire year. Then you can figure out how long it will take to save $29.95 in electricity to pay for this device. I’m considering getting one to see how much hydro I can save in my home.
As a bonus, all of you home theatre enthusiasts with ‘clean’ Monster Power can find out how clean your power really is. The Kill-A-Watt can monitor the quality of your electric power by displaying voltage, line frequency, and power factor.
Posted in Technology at 7:21 PM
Nintendo announced that there will be a world-wide shortage of their popular Wii game console this Christmas. Nintendo simply can’t keep up with the demand for its popular console. I feel really lucky to have purchased mine when I did last week.
Posted in Technology at 10:21 PM
I went to Future Shop to purchase a copy of Ratatouille (2007) on DVD — Pixar’s latest 3D film which is absolutely brilliant. I asked one of the sales people if they had any Nintendo Wii game consoles in stock. I wasn’t looking to purchase a Wii or even expecting the store to have any copies. The Wii is sold out everywhere. They had two systems in stock.
I started to get excited. I looked at my wife like an 8-year-old, half-expecting her head to turn disapprovingly from side to side. She didn’t say anything. Then I told her how difficult it is to get a Wii in North America. It’s outselling the Playstation 3 by a rate of 2-to-1.
I turned around and quickly grabbed a Wii console out of the cardboard box. I’ve heard stories where people purchase multiple consoles and flip them for a profit. I didn’t want to take a chance. With the Wii console safely in my hands, my 8-year-old son was starting to freak out and so was I.
Before I knew it I was standing at the counter with my little Wii box and a couple of extra game controllers. My son kept making weird noises trying to contain himself but it was hopeless. My wife reminded him that this was an early Christmas present (like he’ll ever remember that on the morning of December 25th).
Once we had the Wii console set up and running I was having a blast. I used to spend days on my Apple II playing Lode Runner, days mapping out games on my brother’s TurboGrafx-16. I worried that I’m going to want to spend days playing on the Wii. I forgot that video games could be this much fun and I was only playing Tennis!
The Wii rocks! The graphics aren’t incredible and it doesn’t have a Blu-Ray disc but the game play is amazing. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one then you’ll see what I mean.
I’m afraid my productivity will be taking a dip in the next few weeks.
Did you know that you can get an iPhone in Canada? For just $129 CDN you can get an iPhone from comwave.
Some of the fantastic features on this iPhone are:
- Call Logs
- Ring tones
I think the name comwave iPhone is pure genius. I’d love to meet the person that came up with the clever name. I also have a funny feeling that Steve Jobs would love to meet the insanely great marketing department at comwave.
Posted in Technology at 12:03 AM
If you’re office workstation is anything like mine you have a large power strip (power bar) under your desk. From time to time you might find yourself on all fours unplugging a printer so that you can plug in a scanner or an external Firewire drive or a MiniDV camera and so on.
How many times have you looked at the mess of cables below your desk and wondered where each of them go? You probably need ID Pilot Wire Identification Labels to organize the clutter. They’re only available at The Spoon Sisters. I think they’re a great idea.
Posted in Technology at 9:54 AM
Everything that I’ve read about Microsoftâ€™s new Zune MP3 player has been less than stellar. The Washing Post has a story complaining that Microsoft’s Zune Only Looks Simple.
Aside from the brown Zune, the player looks nice enough but apparently it isn’t very easy to purchase music for the player. Music subscriptions, Microsoft Points, incompatibilities with other Windows XP music services (Rhapsody, Napster or MSN Music songs) spell trouble for Zune.
Why create Microsoft Points when we have real dollars and cents? Microsoft is just too big a beast to â€˜get itâ€™. Give them some time and Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ll figure out ways to take market share from Apple but for the time being, Apple has nothing to worry about.
Posted in Technology at 12:18 AM
Consumer Reports published a story on why you don’t need an extended warranty which is worth looking at. I don’t know how many times I’ve been to Future Shop or Best Buy and the clueless salesperson tried to sell me an extended warranty. If they were allowed, they would try to sell an extended warranty on blank DVDs.
The Consumer Reports story suggests that you consider an extended warranty if you’re purchasing an Apple computer (because they only have a 90 day warranty). Fair enough.
I’ve purchased 9 Apple computers over the years and have had to repair only one â€” a laptop.
Recently, the hard disk failed in an 3-year-old iBook that my father owns. It seems to be a hard disk failure and shouldn’t be too expensive to repair. Should he have purchased an extended warranty? No. I don’t think it would have been worth it.
Make sure that every electronics purchase you make is put on a credit card that has an extended warranty plan! A friend of mine told me to do this years ago and it paid off.
I purchased a Sony DVD player that stopped working right after the 1 year warranty was up. Because I purchased the DVD player with a VISA card (that doubled the warranty) I was able to make a claim. VISA paid to have my DVD player fixed.
Check to see if your VISA or MasterCard has an extended warranty program. If it doesn’t then get a card that does.
Clint DeBoer at Audioholics.com has a good article outlining 10 Reasons Why High Definition DVD Formats Have Already Failed.
At $30 plus, the new HD DVD titles are way too expensive. The video quality is great but that alone isn’t worth the huge investment in a new hardware that might be obsolete in a few years.
Posted in Technology at 12:30 PM
What is iCarta? Atech Flash Technology describes it as a stereo dock for iPod with bath tissue holder. Basically, it’s a toilet paper holder with a built-in iPod dock and 4 speakers.
If you like to spend a lot of time on the potty (I don’t) then this might make a great gift or a gag for a friend. Then again, maybe you like to take long baths and listen to Kenny G or Michael Bolton. Whatever works for you.
Posted in Technology at 12:01 PM
If you’re looking for a great Father’s Day gift then the Specktone Retro might make someone happy. I love the retro styling.
For the guys out there that think I’m losing my edge, head over to Uncrate—the buyer’s guide for men.
Posted in Technology at 2:33 PM
I just came across a NYT article that discusses The Virtues of a Second Screen. My 23“ widescreen display is almost the same as having two monitors but takes up less space. The Times article indicates that the extra screen space will increase your productivity by 20 to 30 percent.
I find that I spend less time moving windows and palettes around in various applications. My display is 1,200 pixels high which means I spend less time scrolling through large documents or the layers palette in Photoshop.
If you’re a graphic designer/webdeveloper/photographer/video editor then do yourself a favour and ‘go wide’ with a widescreen display.
Posted in Technology at 9:41 PM
Dolphin Stadium has the world’s largest HD display — 137 feet wide, 50 feet high, 1,750 inches diagonal viewing, 720 lines progressive scanning. Now that is going to look cool. Too bad half the fans will be too drunk to notice (at least that has been my experience in Miami).
I just picked up a 23-inch Apple Cinema HD Display and gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe how it looks. 1920 x 1200 pixels of viewing area.
I don’t know how I did any work in Photoshop before with a 17“ Studio Display. Being able to see your documents at 100% saves a lot of time — no more shuffling windows and palettes around. No more resizing documents. Improved workflow.
Today The New York Times asked the question, Windows Is So Slow, but Why? My copy of Windows XP is appallingly slow on my Dell. I’m using a clean install of Windows XP but it still takes forever to launch Internet Explorer or do anything on the system. Yes, I keep it up to date with all of the latest security patches and upgrades. No, i don’t have viruses, adware and spyware bogging things down.
Considering that Vista has “50 million lines of code” and is “more than 40 percent larger than Windows XP”, I’ll have to purchase another Dell just to run it. Whenever it gets released.
It’s been 5 years since Microsoft upgraded its operating system and the next version, Vista keeps getting delayed. How is this possible with all of the brilliant engineers that Microsoft has at their disposal? The Times article says,
In those five years, Apple Computer has turned out four new versions of its Macintosh operating system, beating Microsoft to market with features that will be in Vista, like desktop search, advanced 3-D graphics and “widgets,” an array of small, single-purpose programs like news tickers, traffic reports and weather maps.
It turns out that Windows is just too big. Mac OS X, Linux and Google really do pose a threat to Microsoft, the longer it takes them to release Vista. As Microsoft continues to patch its code and add on to the beast called Windows, Apple is on their third Macintosh operating system (all of them backward compatible). Each new version continues to innovate (and inspire future versions of Windows).
Remember Longhorn? It was a previous version of Windows that Microsoft scrapped in favour of Vista. They should scrap Vista and start from scratch. Why? 50 million lines of code would be my first reason. That must be a nightmare for bug fixes and security vulnerabilities. Stay tuned.
Posted in Technology at 9:18 PM
Good bye hard-disk drives. Samsung launched a 32GB Flash-based drive.
This is big deal because Flash drives consume a fraction of the power of regular hard-disks. They’re also a lot faster than regular hard-disks. Because they don’t have any moving parts you can bang them around with worry — great for portable devices.
I can remember paying $1,000 for a 1 GB external hard disk 10 years ago. Amazing.
Posted in Technology at 3:53 PM
PC Magazine has a nice video review of the new iPod Hi-Fi Speaker. Using Flash, the video streams quite nicely and played back flawlessly on my clunky old Macintosh G4 at home.
At 480x360 pixels you get a fairly detailed view of how the various iPods plug into the speaker. Nicely done Jim Louderback. I’m looking forward to more video reviews like this.
Posted in Technology at 8:34 PM
NetFlix is now letting members change their account preferences to accept HD DVD rentals for when Blu-ray discs become available, later this year. As far as I know, Zip.ca doesn’t let you do this. yet.
Any early adopters out there that are planning to invest in a Blu-ray DVD player (besides my father) when they come out? I think it will be several years before I bother with a new format (or when the price drops to $200 per player).
Posted in Technology at 10:05 PM
Just when you thought you had everything that you could possibly need for you iPod, along comes TuneCenter from Griffin Technology. This “home media center for iPod” comes with a 14 button remote.
TuneCenter looks like an iPod version of Apple’s Front Row software for it’s Macintosh computers. The living room is becoming the next battleground for Apple, Microsoft and Sony.
Pop Wuping is a blog about “modern stuff for a mobile lifestyle”.
You’ll absolutely love this site and drool if
- you are a creative professional
- collect really cool gadgets
- own a laptop or an iPod
Hmm. If you have an iPod Shuffle around your neck but would prefer a crucifix, then help is on the way. For $12.98 you can convert your Shuffle into a white plastic crucifix. Visit iBelieve for more info.
Posted in Technology at 11:41 AM
Take a look at this trailer for Kill Zone 2 on PS3 and your jaw will drop. This is a camcorder copy of the trailer and it looks unbeliavable.
I might have to find the time to get back into playing video game. It looks like the new PS3 and the XBox 2 are going to make today’s crop of video games look like 1979 all over again. Can’t wait!
Posted in Technology at 2:23 PM
PCMAG.com has some screenshots of Microsoft’s new operating system (due out sometime in the distant future). Is it just me or is Longhorn looking more Mac OS X-like?
Take a look at Internet Explorer screenshot and tell me that it doesn’t look a lot like Safari. The interface is gray, has rounded edges (no drop shadow yet) and notice the search area in the top right.
From a graphic design perspective, the “new look” is pretty unimpressive. I guess Redmond has been spending more time on developing better security at th OS level? What is going to compel existing XP users to shell out for Longhorn anyway?
Posted in Technology at 12:12 AM
The Epson Perfection 1260 scanner is anything but perfection. It is the biggest friggin’ piece of crap that I’ve purchased in a long time.
I picked this scanner up a few months ago to replace an old Umax model. I paid a little extra for the 35 mm slide adapter. The feeder was designed by somebody on crack and produces the worst scans I’ve ever seen. Yes. I’ve ready the bloody manual a dozen times.
The drivers for OS X are the flakiest I’ve ever used. After Previewing a photo I click on Scan and hold my breath. Half the time it scans the image (which takes forever) and the rest of the time it flashes a couple of screens and returns to PhotoShop.
I found that unplugging the power and USB cables sometimes work. I’m just about ready to throw this junk in front of a streetcar on Kingston Road.
Waiting to see those Paris pictures? You may never see them at this rate. This weekend, JAK MEDIA is so buying me a Canon Rebel XT.
Posted in Technology at 4:04 PM
Rogers Cable is imposing a “combined upload and download bandwidth limit of 60 GB per month.” This goes into effect on March 17, 2005.
One person that I spoke to, was told by Rogers that 60 GB of bandwidth is what the average person might use in a year. Another person I spoke to had his service cut off for a day last fall. He was told that he was in the 1% of users that was abusing the service by downloading excessively.
So what does this mean if you’re a bandwidth hog? It means that you’ll only be able to
steal download about 60 Hollywood films each month or 15,000 songs.
Can you really watch 60 films or listen to 15,000 songs in a month? I think Rogers and the other ISPs are probably doing some people a favour by limiting their downloading addiction.
Downloading that much data becomes a full-time job of burning CDs, DVDs, printing cover art, archiving files and making room on your crippled hard drive for the next 60 GB of files. Where do people find the time to actually watch all of those movies and listen to all of that music? What kind of life can you possibly have if you spend all of your spare time in front of the computer or the television?
Posted in Technology at 10:47 AM
A story from The Hollywood Reporter in Yahoo News says that DVDs have outsold videocassettes for the first time. A lot of these sales came from studio library titles and not from new sales—good news for anyone looking for their favourite movies to be released on DVD one day.
Sales of DVDs helped push overall revenue for the home video industry up from $13.9 billion in 2000 to $16.8 billion in 2001, topping last year’s theatrical receipts of about $8.1 billion, according to the group.I had no idea that video sales were such a cash cow for the studios. No wonder we have 3 different DVDs for American Pie and 4 separate versions for Army Of Darkness!
Posted in Technology at 8:51 PM
I had a friend tell me that flat-screen computer monitors (CRT) were better and had a sharper display than the new crop of LCD displays. I disagreed with him. After reading an article at Wired News, I’d have to say that I still disagree with him.
Perhaps what’s most surprising about the trend is that it’s taken so long to arrive. CRT monitors are bulky, heavy and rely on vacuum tube technology invented in the 19th century. In contrast, LCD’s are light, sleek, energy-efficient and have a sharp picture.With Apple bundling a 15-inch LCD display in their low-end machines (iMac), I think you’ll see the Dell, HP and others following suit in the next year.
Posted in Technology at 8:48 PM