The quote I use most often is: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” from author William Gibson. I just finished his latest book Zero History and it’s interesting how much this quote is taken to heart in this latest cycle of books (Patten Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History). Gibson started out as one of the authors to kick off the whole cyberpunk genre in the mid-80s. A near-future where technology is on the street and not in the flying cities and rocketships. Very Blade Runner.
Considering the “future” world of Neruomancer, published in 1984, didn’t even have cell phones the “today” world of Zero History is in some ways more technologically advanced, but it all takes place in the leading edge of today not some near future. Why write about “cyberspace” when wifi and the Google is everywhere? Cameras on every corner, telepresence aerial drones, hackers, image engineers, memory chips, it’s all here in 2010 even if Edward James Olmos doesn’t have a flying car or Molly Razorgirl doesn’t have implanted mirrorshades.
Gibson shows us that the future is here, and it makes for a damn fine story as well.
Since last October I’ve been using an Android smartphone and loving it. I’ve been landline free for about nine years so a cell phone has been with me for a long time. Adding the features and functionality of a smart phone has elevated this pocket piece of tech from a communications device to my outboard brain. iPhone can suck it hard. (Video contains bad words.)
Because it’s relatively open, because I like to tinker with tech and because I carry it around so much I’ve jumped into a pool with it I’ve rooted/reloaded/flashed the thing about 5 times in the past nine months. So after the break (for my reference and yours) is the inventory for my phone as of this writing. All software is free unless noted.
Well at least mobile-y online. I’ve got my replacement outboard brain* 80% up to speed. Upgraded to 2.1, downloaded a minimal set of apps and loaded up the data from my 16G micro-sd chip and the Google cloud. Should be back up to 100% tomorrow. It’s nice being able to offload addresses, calendar, email and phone numbers out of my headware and dead trees and back into my pocket. Didn’t go far or do much so I didn’t need the GPS or directory services but I feel less lost anyway.
If you own an Android phone without a physical keyboard then I recommend signing up for the Swype beta. Sype is a keyboard replacement that claims to be faster and easier to use. You don’t lift your finger from the screen, the program interprets changes in direction as keypresses. That combined with some serious word recognition makes it similar to vaguely waving your hand at a menu and grunting then 95/100 you get what you ordered.
I installed it yesterday and will probably keep it for the long term. There’s a bit of a learning curve (be sure to run through the demo to learn quirks like caps and double letters) but I can see it being easier that tapping.
I spent the majority of my weekend and a good chunk of the end of the week working on home tech things.
Ditched Time Warner Cable for ATT. Spent most of the day digging into the internal wiring of the house. Couldn’t find the drop for the phone line since I haven’t had a land line in over 6 years. Eventually figured out the wiring and connected. I’ve got a single gateway plugged into the phone line. The TV reciever/DVR is just a box connected over Ethernet to the gateway. 802.11g is built into the gateway so it takes the place of a wireless router as well. Xbox connects direct to the gateway and the rest of the house is on wireless.
I’m very pleased with the Internet connection. I get ~10Mb/s downloads on speed test sites even in high traffic times. Streamed a movie in HD over the Netflix Xbox service with no changes in quality.
Finally got some HD channels. My TiVo series 2 isn’t compatible with the service so I’m relying on the provided DVR. I’m gonna miss my TiVo.
It was time to upgrade the wireless bridge in the office. D-Link has a nice 4 port bridge that can also act as an access point. Something wasn’t working right with DHCP over the bridge so I changed the two desktops to static IPs and everything is fine. Switched from WEP to WPA and was finally able to enable the Xbox as a media center extender.
Cleaned out about 3 cubic feet of dust and grime from the PCs. My wife likes a clean desk so they go under, hoovering up all the fur and dirt. Wife’s PC had a cable blocking the fan for the video card. No wonder it was dying after less than a hour of use.
I’d been getting disk errors on my secondardy 500GB drive for about a week. I noticed as I was testing after the cleaning that there’s a faint grinding noise coming from the drive. My drives are mounted vertically, moving that drive to horizontal stopped the noise.
Went to Fry’s and bought a Seagate 1.5TB SATA drive for $120. That’s $0.08 per gigabyte! 7200rpm and a 30 meg cache so it’s got some throughput. Transferred all the data from the dying drive to the new one (about 300GB) and set up the same drive letter so no links are lost. Even with formatting I’ve got over a terabyte free.
To do list:
Wife’s PC is still suffering the occasional hard lock. Nothing heat related and no traces in the event log. Virus scans and HijackThis come up empty.
Bedroom TVs are still on Time Warner. Need to configure the gateway to push a TV signal over the co-ax connector. Cancel TWC before the next billing cycle if ATT keeps performing well.
Shut down the TiVo and return the TWC reciever. In other words re-cable the living room entertainment center.
Here’s four videos providing an introduction to the hardware, interface and software of the phone I’m looking to acquire. I wish they’d announce the availability or lack thereof for my carrier. If this isn’t coming to Sprint I’ll probably get a Palm Pre.
This is pretty huge. Billboard has the details on the outsourcing of Rock Band tracks to any music copyright holders called Rock Band Network. In the next two months a service will be starting up that allows bands, studios, and labels to get their tracks into Rock Band without having to wait for the programmers at Harmonix to get you onto the schedule. Right now you get up to 10 tracks a week (every week since RB1 came out which means over 700 tracks!) but with RBN it could potentially go up to hundreds.
The copyright holders can take it all the way through the process if they’re willing to do some programming and become “certified” in creating RB note highways. If not you can outsource it to a certified community group and only worry about the music not the game. Quality Assurance of the track is done in a community as well, then once it’s approved it on the RBN marketplace for anywhere from $0.50 to $3. You get your cut of every download.
Looks great for indie bands but it also allows studios and labels to fast track their music into the game. Sub-Pop has committed to getting all their popular music from the last two years onto RBN.
So by the end of August we could be seeing an explosion of music in Rock Band, like iTunes or Amazon Music amounts and varieties of tracks. I can’t wait.
I love to see the ways technology democratizes the ability to create. A busker out on the street with an amp and a suitcase full of footpedals hooked to digital loopers and synths can create a live performace that sounds a lot like high-end studio work. Beautiful.