Call It A Comeback

…and we’re back.

A couple of days late but I am relaunching my tech blog for 2015. This blog used to be under the Down Under Geek domain but I’ve decided to use an old name and brand for the relaunch – see more in About.

For the next few weeks its going to hopefully be daily postings just to get into a rhythm of what this blog will really be about. I already have some ideas but I’m guessing that will evolve.

My New Broadband – NCable Wireless Broadband

As you may know I moved into a new house about a month ago – can’t believe its only a month – feels like 2 or 3 months !

Part of the “deal” with the the new house was that we probably wouldn’t have broadband access here for at least 6-8 weeks. Around September / October. Telstra had to upgrade the local RIM – the usual blah blah story as to why you can’t get decent internet access.

But we knew that coming in and I was reasonable happy to put up with Dial-Up for a month or so, plus going around to my parents place once a week or so to use Dad’s internet to move some big files around. The house was a great deal – a bit of a bargain in my opinion – so it was worth a bit of pain.

To be honest – Dial-Up wasn’t the nightmare I imagined. Sure I wasn’t going to be downloading 10 podcasts every day or surfing sites all day. But for general email and basic surfing it wasn’t too bad.

OK it still sucked but I wasn’t completely offline.

As I was telling all of my contacts about the change of address, phone number etc – I was contacted by Neighborhood Cable – an Australian company with an American name. NCable are a Victorian regional Pay TV / Internet company. They are in Mildura, Ballarat and Geelong. Unlike most ISP’s they install their own infrastructure and cabling – rather than running off Telstra’s backbone.

http://www.ncable.com.au/

Even though they also don’t have their cable running down my street – they have a new service called Wireless Cable Broadband. They have a transmitter in town on the water tower – click for webcam view which gives them about 25km of range. At my place I have an antenna on my roof that runs down into a modem in my office – and from there to my wireless router etc. From there its business as usual in setting up the internet etc.

http://www.visitmildura.com.au/quicksite/index.php?id=webcam

So I know have broadband where otherwise I wouldn’t have. And even better – its FASTER. Best ADSL speed I can get here is 1500/256. It will be a long time before we get ADSL 2/2+ in a country town like Mildura. So far the speeds I have been getting have been the equivalent of 3500/1200 !! And I’ve even complained as I was told to expect download speeds around 5000 !!

http://www.milduravictoria.com.au/

And because I am in a country regional area with no access to ADSL broadband – I got full subsidy from the Australian Government’s HIBIS program. The whole install cost me nothing !! Yai !!

http://www.dcita.gov.au/tel/higher_bandwidth_incentive_scheme_hibis

So far the quality has been excellent. No problems at all. The increased upload speed already has made a huge difference to my productivity. Instead of queuing files to upload overnight – I can do them during the day while preparing the sites. 100Mb used to take an hour on 1500/256. Now its like 10 mins. That makes a huge difference to my planning.

Really happy with it all so far. Will keep you up to date on my experiences as we go.

RSS vs WebFeed ?

Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents on the whole RSS vs Web Feed issue.

A brief summary: RSS (really simple syndication) lets you subscribe to websites, podcasts and other things. Once you have worked out how to use it your internet browsing is changed forever. Instead of having to go back to a website to see if its changed, your subscription service sends you the latest news and headlines.

There is an RSS feed for this site – its the orange icon on the bottom right hand corner of the browser. If you have an RSS agregator or reader, you put the link into it and you started getting updates of the site when I make them. You don’t have to give me any information like an email address to subscribe to a newsletter. You come and go as you please.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Microsoft thinks so too and the are incorporating RSS into the next version of Windows – Vista – formerly known as longhorn. It’s due out late next year. Probably. But Microsoft are planning on putting RSS into Vista in a big way – especially Internet Explorer 7.

However Microsoft want to call it Web Feeds – not RSS. They feel RSS is a bit techy and complicated to explain. Web Feed sounds simple and easy enough. Of course this is upsetting a lot of people who claim Microsoft are trying to reinvent RSS in their own image. Much like they tried to do with html, css, media files, document files and pretty much anything else.

I actually like the term Web Feed. It makes it easier to explain to someone what it is. RSS just sounds weird and unfriendly. I think once you know what it is – rather than what it stands for – its a good name for it. But the 30 second conversation of introducing it to someone and explaining what it does – I’ve just had too many of those in my life of being a geek. Why can’t we find a simpler way of describing things?

Eventually I think the term Web Feed will slowly become more accepted. We will probably still use the RSS / XML buttons – but know them as Web Feed buttons.

Mighty Mouse a glimpse of 5th Generation Video iPods ?

Apple have finally released a mouse with multiple buttons – the Mighty Mouse. But is this mouse a glimpse of what might be around the corner for 5G video iPods?

http://www.apple.com/au/mightymouse/

The new Mighty Mouse (love the name) appears to look like a standard Apple Mouse with a small nipple on it. However that “nipple” is in fact a mini track ball that lets the user scroll vertically, horizontally – in fact 360 degrees.

Instead of a distinctive left and right mouse button, the front of the mouse looks solid. However it can detect if the left or right side of the mouse is being pressed.

The Mighty Mouse has a tiny tail. As usual for Apple – Mighty Mouse has a fairly short USB cord. But with Apple only just recently adding Bluetooth (and wireless) to all of its iBooks and Mac Mini’s – wouldn’t it make sense to have a Bluetooth mouse? I guess that’s next month.

Reviews of the mouse have been a bit mixed. I have yet to try one but many reports are saying its a little awkward to use – you must lift your left finger to use the right click. The “Bar Of Soap” look and feel might seem nice – but using it is just not as nice as an “ergonomic” mouse.

Video iPod Interface ?

However I am wondering if the Mighty Mouse is a sign of a new interface for the rumoured 5th Generation of iPods?

Steve Jobs (the person who only recently said you only need one button on a mouse) has said he isn’t convinced people will want to watch videos on a small screen like the iPod. I agree – it needs to be a bigger screen. Not something as big as the Sony PSP as that would sacrifice convenience. A landscape screen for watching videos would make sense.

Moving to a larger screen and keeping the same form factor obviously means a redesign of the touch wheel. The current touch wheel is slightly bigger than the actual screen. Some have even speculated it might be a touch screen interface. That would be nice – perhaps even a segue for an Apple based PDA returning to the market?

But wouldn’t this new “nipple” trackball also be great for a minimal interface when coupled with a couple of buttons? You could have a decent size screen on the current iPod if you just get ride of the scroll wheel. Mighty Mouses’ trackball might be the key.

Dancing to Apple’s iTune

The impact of Apple adding podcasting to iTunes 4.9 has been amazing.

http://www.apple.com/au/itunes/ http://www.apple.com/au/podcasting/

In one small product point release, they seem to have gone from one piece of the podcasting puzzle, to the only game in town.

Sensible, grown men, have been bending over backwards to reconfigure RSS feeds that worked perfectly fine only a few weeks ago. Podcasters have stopped calling for people to vote for them on Podcast Alley. Almost instantly the only ladder that mattered was the iTunes ranking.

http://podcastalley.com/index.php

After encouraging listeners to download the podcasts using tools like iPodder Lemon and iPodderX – almost within a week the call went out to switch to the iTunes feed. Please. For the sake of the children !!!!

http://ipodder.sourceforge.net/index.php http://ipodderx.com/

All this fuss over something that has generally been received by existing podcasters, as a bit of a muffed launch. I doubt there is anyone who thinks Apple got it right when they released 4.9. It just reeks of a rushed job. Unusual for them really.

No doubt iTunes 5.0 when its released (probably to coincide with 5th Generation iPods – RSN) there will be fixes and within 12 months all will be well and dandy. All will be forgiven.

I tried iTunes 4.9 when it first came out. Unfortunately I was one of the many burnt badly by trying the shiny new toy when millions were also trying at the same time. My experience was a pretty crap one – slow responses, missing links etc. I know most of these things have been fixed, but I still like my iPodder Lemon software.

Maybe iTunes 5.0 will have me dancing a different tune?

Windows Vista – Second thoughts

As you probably know, Microsoft announced last Friday that the official name for the next version of Windows will be Windows Vista.

At the time, in this previous post, I commented that it wasn’t a bad choice of name. I speculated that Windows Vista might be an “all in one” product that could be installed into many platforms – tablet, media centre, home PC etc. It kinda fits with the XBox 360 name – implying that this product will do a wide range of things.

Well, I have thought about the name Vista for a few days. Mentioned it to a few people. The response is pretty much a universal “what”?

It’s just a lame name Microsoft. It doesn’t inspire, excite, invoke passion. It sounds boring! Politically correct. Designed not to offend. Limp!

XP sounded like a statement. An exclamation! You had an XBox for your games box and a XP for your personal computer!

Vista sounds like the marketing wankers have taken over the building.

It reminds me of the time Sega renamed the Katana into the Dreamcast. Took a damn sexy name and let the marketing vegans change it. And that worked out well for them… Did the Dreamcast even last 12 months?

I doubt that Vista will cause Microsoft to fall into ruin. But I think its a step backwards rather than forward.

Windows Vista – One Windows to rule them all ?

It has been leaked to the internet that the next version of Windows will be officially called Windows Vista.

Known by the codename of Longhorn for several years while in development, it is expected to be announced at 6am Pacfic Time, 22nd July that the release shall be known as Windows Vista.

Robert Scoble mentioned an upcoming announcement on his weblog earlier today – he pointed to an announcement from Microsoft would be made available at this URL. http://scoble.weblogs.com/ http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/07/21.html#a10721 http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2005/jul05/07-22LHMA.mspx

Soon after, AnAndTech, Channel 9 and others spread the word that the name had been leaked.

Replacing the XP title used since 2001, Vista refers to wide ranging. Perhaps a good name referring to its ability to be installed on a wide variety of environments such as the home, office, servers, media centres, tablet PC’s etc.

Since XP spawned many variations such as the Media Centre and Tablet configuration. It has been speculated that they might be eventually rolled into one product that would install what was necessary depending on the system it was being installed on.

The advantages of having an “All In One” installer being balanced by a more complex installation routine, and perhaps some inflexibility of upgrading components of one system or another.

The term Windows Vista does dovetail nicely with the XBox 360 product. Another label that suggests a wide range of applications.

Why iTunes 4.9 ??

Much anticipation was made of it in the podcasting community – people were excited they are going “prime time”. And scared what 35 million new users might do to their servers.

iTunes 4.9 would be the first iTunes to incorperate Podcasting subscriptions.

It was – A Big Deal. Steve told us it was so.

So why 4.9? Why a simply point release? So close to 5.0 you might have thought an improvement this big might warrant a major update in the naming?

Did Apple know that 4.9 was really a “rough and ready” version that would cause the problems it has?

Is there a 5.0 version around the corner to coincide with fifth generation ipods?

Perhaps 5G iPods have some new shiny features that can only be accessed by iTunes 5.0?

Videos??FM Radio??Recorder?

hmmmmmm….

My Podcast Wishlist

The last few months I have discovered Podcasting and have been completely blown away by it. It’s fantastic. I’ll do a page of my favourite podcasts soon. Once we move house in a few weeks I am actually planning on making this website into a podcast.

However. There are some features I would like to see added to a podcasting client if anyone is listening:

1. Go Faster: Make it so I can increase the speed of playback. You adjust to listen just as well. I can do it in Windows Media Player, Quicktime – why can’t I do it in iTunes?

2. Chapters: I love podsafe music, mashups, werid-ass interviews. But sometimes I don’t care eouugh and I just want to skip ahead to the next bit. Let me do a “chapter skip” like I can on a DVD. I couldn’t that hard to press a button on your podcast software to mark a new chapter as you are recording. I’ve heard that in advance itune feeds you can have bookmarks. Haven’t looked at that yet so it might be the same thing.

3. Bit Torrent: Do I have to explain?

4. Links: I know I can get links “on the show notes”. Well doesn’t that defeat the purpose of RSS?? I subscribed to something so I don’t have to visit the site – now I have to visit the site… Even a simple link in iTunes somewhere so I can easilly get to the site without looking it up.

See – I don’t ask for much…

Microsoft to buy Gator?

One of the interesting stories from a couple of weeks ago was Microsoft were going to buy the parent company of Gator – the ad-ware / spyware thats in so many p2p programs.

Well it seemed like the world was going to end. Had Microsoft gone mad? What idiot was behind this idea?

I think it would be fantastic for Microsoft to buy them – and then shut them down!!!

With all the effort Microsoft are putting into security and anti-spyware tools. There has to come a point where you just say “Buy them out and close them down”.

Imagine if Microsoft re-released all the p2p programs without the spyware included? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Might certainly be in line with a sharing, caring Microsoft that seems to be trying to emerge.

So what happen’s next? Someone else comes up with a plan to make millions by distributing their spyware infected program? Well there is that risk. But its a lot harder today to make a big impact with a new program. A lot of what is out there is established. There are great new services like Skype and Flickr that have made an impact in the last 12 months. But someone launching a new (say) MP3 program today would be up against it.

I don’t think the Gator deal has been completely squashed yet either. No one is confirming, no one is denying.