October 5, 2007

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Got a few shots of downtown Toronto earlier this week while I was there on a whirlwind in-and-out trip. It was unseasonably warm, and foggy as well. Many of the shots at the link above were taken as the fog burned off.

The camera wasn’t my usual Canon SLR. Instead it was my wife’s little Olympus SP-350, a camera we both hate. It takes decent pictures and has a few other virtues, but it also kills batteries at about the same rate as older cameras killed rolls of film. And rechargeables don’t last for crap in it either. Yes, I’ve updated the firmware. The latest made a *little* difference, but not much. Anyway, if you ever have a chance to get one, avoid it.

Loose linkage

What’s the oldest car you’ve ever owned? In my case it was probably the 1980-something Subaru Wagon that I drove from the early 90s until I gave it to a friend last year. The best car I’ve ever owned was a 1985 Camry sedan. That was also the only new car I ever bought. Gave it to my daughter when I got the Subaru, and she drove it for years after that.

Got some good hang-time this afternoon with William New of Intellectual Property Watch. William lives in Geneva and watches the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at close range, along with issues such as open access and intellectual property policy around the world.

Anyway, at one point I asked him if the term had ever been used. It was the first he’d heard of it. In fact, it was the first Google had heard of it as well. Be interesting to see how it does there. Also how fast Google and Technorati index it. I’m posting this at 11:05:16pm EDST.

Five minutes later. Nothing yet on either. Ten minutes later. Still nothing.

Half an hour. Still nothing.

For what it’s worth, I’m checking on “time to index” here. Neither is doing so good. It’s been close an hour now and I’m going to bed.

Woops, one last check on Google itself (not the presumably feed-fed Live Web-searching Google Blogsearch) yielded one result, but not for this post. It was for this here, which found it first. Feh.

As for Yahoo, its defaulted results include everything for “liposuction”. You can filter just for “wiposuction”, and it;ll give you a pile of results that include “wiposuction” as a misspelling of “liposuction” in scammy websites for the latter. No links to any of that because I don’t want to get your eyes dirty.

Night.

[Time passes...] Okay, it’s now 23 hours and 25 minutes later. Google Blogsearch now has the item indexed, saying it was posted 23 hours ago. Technorati has it too, and says “1 day ago”. No clear winner there.

America: On Sale!

In Toronto I exchanged $100 U.S. for $88.60 Canadian. That’s less than cab fare each way from the airport.

Last night the kid and I drove back down to You-Do-It in Needham and picked up some thin RG-59u coaxial cable to run under the edge of the rug from one side of the living room to the other. Your standard fat black TV cable (the very stuff known as “cable”) would never do it; but it comes in thin versions too. Since both my wife and our landlady don’t want to see any wires, we had to get something we could hide. You-Do-It has approximately everything electronic, including what we needed to get his job done.

So anyway, hiding some cable under the rug made it possible for us to see watch TV in the standard way, for the first time since taking the apartment here near Boston. Our cable company is Verizon FiOS, which brings the signal to the outside of the house on fiber optic cable but runs the last sixty feet with standard co-ax.

At the far end of the cable is a Verizon set-top box (STB) made by Motorola. The “TV” consists of an LCD computer screen and a set of cheap powered speakers. We receive no signals over the air, or even over the cable. Instead TV has become nothing more than an application. “Channels” are nothing more than data streams.

Our channel line-up from Verizon is smaller than what we get from Dish Network on our setup back home. No HBO or Showtime, for example. The picture quality appears to be about the same, although in both cases the quality appears to be limited at the source. Much, or perhaps most, of the HD programming really isn’t. Some of it is plain old NTSC (low-definition) television. Some of it is HD but in a smaller area, surrounded by a large black frame. The user interface is a bit fancier than Dish’s, and appears to be faster, but if you hold down an arrow to scroll up and down the Guide, some of the lines change while others do not, which makes fast scrolling almost pointless. Dish also has star-type reviews (four being max) for its movies, while Verizon does not. Dish’s info from the guide is also better, I think. Hard to tell, without having them side-by-side. The music selection on Dish is also far better, since it also includes Sirius. The kid, who likes oldies, was especially annoyed that the category “gold” covers all of the fifties and sixties, while the service has a separate channel for each of the next three decades.

For some reason “Channel not available” shows up with disturbing frequency. Or so it seemed on our first evening with it, lasting about 20 minutes. The main missing one last night was WGBH, our top local PBS station.

The main reason I’m posting this is to pass along what the kid said after we did a scan from one end of the “dial” to the other.

“There’s nothing on”, he said. And walked away.

What would “something” be?

“Oh, you know. Like on YouTube”.

Phone Phun

Blogabarbara reports value subtraction by AT&T on its mobile service to the Santa Ynez Valley. Details:

  Until yesterday AT&T phones worked on a combination of AT&T and other provider cell towers. Without any notice to the customer, AT&T switched to their own cell towers only yesterday (10/2). Their “network engineers” have studied the area and believe this is acceptable. The switch means decreased coverage. For me, living in Santa Ynez, this means the closest tower is 8 miles away and everyone in the Valley is sharing it. Data messages (text, Blackberry, voice-mail notifications, etc.) seem to work fine. However outgoing voice calls fail about 90% of the time with a “Network Busy” error message, and most incoming calls go to voice-mail.

  AT&T said if enough people complain they’ll consider reconnecting with those outside provider towers, but it may take up to two weeks.

I tried to post a comment, twice, but it doesn’t appear to have taken. So here it is:

  Hmm. Back when Cingular acquired the old AT&T Wireless (which was really a re-branded CellularOne), you could go to your phone’s settings menu and choose which of the networks you wanted to use: one, the other, or both. (Why not just both? I dunno.) Since Cingular became AT&T not by merging with another provider but rather by being acquired by a company called AT&T (actually SBC and now known among phone types as FATT, for “Faux AT&T”), there was no need — to my knowledge, anyway — to make technical changes in the network, least of all to subtract out parts of it. But the “New AT&T” shows few if any signs of being better than any ofl the old ones. Alas.

  To my knowledge the only “partner” compatible with AT&T’s GSM transmission technology is T-Mobile. I doubt that’s a settings choice, even if T-Mobile is the “partner” involved here.

  For comparison, here is AT&T’s coverage page, and here is T-Mobile’s.

  Look’s like T-Mobile’s is smaller than AT&T’s, but your suckage may vary.

  In Europe, where every provider uses GSM, they don’t have these kinds of coverage problems. All of the providers’ systems work the same. In my experience the coverage is generally much better than in the U.S., generally.

  Here there’s GSM and CDMA, which are incompatible. AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM while Verizon and Sprint/Nextel use CDMA. In the last year I began working more in Europe. Since I’m a Verizon Wireless customer, and since CDMA doesn’t work in Europe, I find myself carrhying to carry two phones around: an AT&T one and a Verizon one. Both services suck, but with differing rosters of annoyances.

Enlightenment and correction welcome.