Over the weekend I was again reminded why I keep old computers and computer parts around. (For example: I have two old Mac Pluses in the basement in storage along with the fax modem from a Newton Message Pad; you never know when they'll come in handy!) Anyway, Number One Daughter's Acer laptop, purchased at Virginia Tech and the source of some misgivings this past years while she was away at school, refused to turn on here at the house.
I am a sucker for self service technology. I like using ATM’s (even for making deposits), I always try to use the self service checkout at Home Depot (unless I’m buying mulch), and I like using the kiosks at the local movie theater. But my recent bad experience at the big grocery store on Duke Street here in Alexandria has made me question using the self service line for food purchases. Here’s what happened.
There's an interesting discussion thread over at the Freedom to Tinker blog titled Interoperability, and the Birth of the Web. The kick-off is a discussion with Tim Berners-Lee about the conditions at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) that gave birth to the World Wide Web. For what it's worth, here is an excerpt of my comment:
I first noticed the problem about a week ago. My iTunes streaming radio channels stopped working. I listen to various channels most of the day in my office when I'm not on the phone, usually a mix of electronica, ambient, classical, jazz, and lounge music. But every time a station started playing, it immediately stopped and a "rebuffering" message appeared as the audio stream reloaded.
As the wind howled outside our house I woke up early, came downstairs to sit in my dining room, flipped on the gas fireplace, powered up iTunes radio for some music, and watched the re-entry of the Stardust mission recovery capsule to its Utah landing site on NASA TV on my computer.
One of the regular maintenance routines for my business laptop is running Webroot’s “Spy Sweeper” to detect and remove various spyware applications. Spy Sweeper is updated frequently, runs in the background, asks me about any new application being installed, and issues regular alerts. I supplement it by running Norton AntiVirus for viruses and CCleaner for Windows junk.Spy Sweeper recently made an announcement about “rootkits.”
Last week I took the plunge and upgraded my Yahoo! Mail subscription from free to paid. The reason? Among other things, I wanted to do away with the automatic signature ads that are added to all outgoing mail. I've been increasing my use of Yahoo! Mail for work-related tasks, and I had heard that the coming upgrade to mail was going to be substantial.
I've been using iTunes a lot to check out various audio streams using the "radio" feature in iTunes. I currently have a playlist of radio streams that include Bollywood and movie soundtracks, various "Ambient" and "Electronica" signals, a variety of Jazz, Latin, and Tropical channels, and all the Classical music I can find. It's quite an amazing variety. If I hadn't already given up CD's as an obsolete medum I'd be buying a lot more music.
Cisco has announced plans to buy Scientific Atlanta, and Microsoft has announced an agreement with the cable TV industry to include digital cable card support in the next version of Windows. So what, you say? It’s all related to “convergence” where a Brave New World is heralded by the unification of the Internet and cable based home entertainment. That means more choice, more quality, more service, more innovation, and just plain more quality of life, right? Maybe.
I had mixed feelings watching this week’s announcement of the video iPod. On the one hand I don’t think you can fail to be impressed by the technology; cable TV companies, should be concerned as they fumble with their awkward “on demand” services. My other reaction is less positive and concerns the impact on literacy of such devices.