The New TIVO HD – Torn Apart

I relish the way the TIVO Lovers Blog waited about 10 minutes before taking a TORX #10 screwdriver to a brand new TIVO HD and ripped it open. This is real tech journalism…


Notice the PayPal link to the left…

Going back an forth about the possible benefits to putting a PayPal donations link here, I finally just went ahead and did it. Now, truth be told, I can think of no good reason for you to separate yourself from your hard earned cash because some idiot put a PayPal button on a blog, but that is not for me to decide – that is for you.

I will never speak of this again. I Promise. I will not try to appeal to your emotions…

Video of a baby panda sneezing…

Why the $300 Tivo HD is a disruptive device (but nobody sees it as such)

If you are anything like me, you are, right now, in the predicament of not really having anything on TV to watch that is new because the five major networks are in summer hiatus. I have a wide selection of cable channels to watch, but, really if I got rid of cable tomorrow I think I would probably miss Good Eats.

What if you had a device that allows you to record Hi-Def?
(Well, my cable box does that now, dummy, keep trying.)

What if this device was not dependent on your cable provider?
(Hey, no cable? OK. I’m really not loving cable now anyway.)

What if you could download video right off the Internet onto this same device using whatever Internet service you have and watch it on your couch.
(Video podcasts while not sitting in an office chair? Bigger than my ipod video? Interesting. )

And what if it had a really, really good interface?
(Like my mac? OK. What do you got?)

That is what the new $300 Tivo HD promises to be.

Why is this not scaring anybody? I am looking at you, Apple and Comcast. Why is this not exciting anybody? Why are people still yammering on about the iPhone?

This device is no AppleTV. You can use a Tivo HD without a computer at all at the same price point as the 40GB AppleTV. AppleTV is 100% dependent on having to leach off a networked computer. Sorry, Apple, Tivo has you beat on this point.

You can record Hi-Def off the air with Tivo HD. Think about that. The free digital television that we have been hearing about for 15 years is a reality and now you can capture it bit-for-bit and watch it whenever you want. AppleTV does not do that. My mythTV box does. But mythTV is, let’s be honest, a kluge at best. And when Zap2It stops giving away free TV listings, we mythTVers are going to have a problem.

What about video podcasts with Tivocast? I do not know how open the Tivocast is with its video podcast offerings but if I can grab all my nerdy, geeky, techy schmaltz so I can watch it on my Hi-Def TV, I will have absolutely no reason to get off the couch.

Oh – “one more thing” – downloadable programs in exchange for cash called Unbox. Just like the cable company or iTunes store, I can buy content, something I would only use if we were desperate for something new to watch. Like during the summer months. Hmm… Did you get that Comcast?

And if I want to keep cable, I can use it with a cable card (or two). OR NOT.

To sum up: no computer necessary, off air recording, video podcast catching, pay-per-view or program purchase, and if I want to kick my cable company to the curb (or not), I can make that choice all at a price point that equals about 6 months of cable service (plus $12ish for listings subscription – can’t have everything).

This, friends, is a very disruptive device.

5 Articles That Flew Under Your Radar

The Internets are a very big place, with its tubes and trucks dumping movies while you wait to receive an Internet from your staff. And while the Internet has been growing exponentially in audience and size since I started this blog on June 13th, 2006, some of the posts I have put up may have flown under your radar because the baby panda sneezing held your attention for hours. The following is a list of posts you may have missed and would be useful to point out.

1. Bring out your dead… [bong!] – This was an unfortunately named early article. The “bong” in the title was a Monty Python reference from “The Life of Brian” not, as one spam commenter thought, an opportunity to sell drug paraphernalia. Well, bad title or not, the article shows me at a transitional state in which computer I use at home. I had the good fortune of picking up and old G4 Macintosh for free, put OS X on it and fell in love with using a Macintosh. I went into detail on how I overclocked this mac to get out every last bit of juice, before I upgraded to my dual core mac mini.

2. Great software for the OS X – Notice the title. See how it tells you what the article is about. I was beginning to put on the big-boy pants. There are some obvious and non-obvious recommendations in this piece, and if I were to make any updates to the post I would add iEatBrainz and Bean. Another minor addition – Hamachi was bought up by LogMeIn since, but Hamachi still has a “basic” free version.

3. Why Circuit City Rebates Suck! – In most cases I would rather write about my more interesting or pleasant experiences, hoping that you, the reader, may also discover the same. Well, not with this one. This is me at my most annoyed. Lesson: MAKE A BIG STINK when you do not get a rebate. Tell others. Put it on digg,, Stumbleupon or wherever. Complain. It is not that I was asking for something I did not deserve, or I was trying to screw the system, or be a high maintenance consumer for the sake of being a high maintenance consumer – I just wanted the $20 I was promised, or I would not have bought the damn item to begin with.

4. Control Data Corporation and Dad – It is not like me to to be so personal, but, to put this post into context, I lost my dad to cancer when I was a toddler, and I as I get older I realize how young HE was when he passed. This post was an attempt to get some better understanding of the guy in the family photos.

5. Getting past the O.S. hype – choices beyond who is yelling the loudest – I wrote the about one month before Vista was released to the public and before I tried it. Where I was wrong (read: completely dead wrong) was the hype. I honestly thought Windows Vista hype was going to mirror the Windows 95 hype, with balloons, cake and pin-the-tale-on-the-Gates. It never happened. This huge event in Microsoft history became a non-event and was just a matter of fact within what seemed like 3 weeks. I think they are paying for it now – see the “Microsoft Sees Stronger XP Sales in FY08” PC World article.

This was a bit “meta” but I promise you will not see this in a post titled “5 Posts of Posts that List 5 Articles That Flew Under Your Radar.” I just blew my mind, man, sans drug paraphernalia.

Kerri tagged me – Thinking Blogger Award

Kerri tagged me. Kerri Rulz. Kerri is what Malcom Gladwell calls a “Connector” in his book “The Tipping Point.”

I get one of these…

Honestly, I really do not try to make anyone think. But I accept proudly and would like to thank the little people (folks under 4′ 10″).

Picking out five blogs (part of the rules – I selected seven – rules be damned) that make ME think is actually not an easy task. I have three computers. One at work and two at home. One Linux. One Mac. One Windows. All three hold my RSS subscriptions. Each system holds different RSS feeds because each box serves a different purpose and I am in a different frame of mind when using each one. And this system has worked for me, until now. I had to work to collect the following.

Now, I do not expect anyone in the list to actually go “Hey, that aprigliano guy said ‘I make him think.'” But these are some of the most interesting feeds and blogs you will find. Trust me.

Sixuntilme – Tag back, HA! Kidding. Really though, Kerri you have helped me in understanding Christi, my wife, who is also a Type 1 diabetic. It has happened that I looked up from reading a post of yours, looked over to Christi and said “I’m sorry.” She then asked me for what reason I am apologizing. I said, “Because I sometimes forget how hard being a diabetic is for you.”

Derek’s Penmachine – I really can’t say much here besides Derek is terribly erudite, and interesting, which is why I became an avid penmachine reader (I even mashed-up one of his songs.) He was diagnosed with Cancer earlier this year, has gone through his first round of chemotherapy and has recently come home from the hospital. I read it now because he is exactly one year and a half older than me, and the empathy I feel for him and his family is overwhelming. Yes, Derek, “fuck cancer” – 100% agree. (Side note, thank you P.M.D. for keeping us informed as to Derek’s progress.)

CreativeIq – Getting a bit lighter now. This blog posts about once per week, but the gems on this design blog are absolute gold at times. No gossip, just information from professional designers who know their stuff.

Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders – I never thought much of personal organization methods, but the concept of “organization as a construct” is trippy. I just blew my mind. How do you organize methods of organization? Mr. Mann tries. It is a great read, but, I must read it for the wit, because I still can’t find my ass with both hands.

Worse Than Failure – An amazing collection of errors, programming and otherwise. Keeps me laughing for hours.

Finally two really good photo collections…

Dark Roasted Blend – A slick collection of style, optical illusions, computer case mods, old photos and humor. Reading is fundimental, but I sometimes just want to look at some interesting photos and see where it takes my head. I especially enjoyed Satellite Dish Art.

Charming Life’s photos – This is not a blog, but a flickr photo collection. And this girl has tremendous talent. I wish I could do what she does with a camera. She has the ability to see “art” where most folks see the mundane.

And now, this is where I cut and paste the rules right out of Kerri’s blog because “Ctrl-C” and “Ctrl-V” exist in GUI’s for a reason – laziness. If you are on this list, I expect you to do nothing. But…

Here are the rules, should any of these bloggers choose to accept their mission to share their thinking bloggers of choice. If the bloggers choose to participate, please make sure to pass the rules on to the next Thinking Blogs you tag:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

This award was began by Ilker Yoldas at The Thinking Blog. The mission is to create a linky thinky trail ([Kerri’s] ridiculous phrase, not theirs, as they sound much brighter when they talk) to spread the word about great blogs.

My Atari 2600 brain fart

Steven Patrick Morrissey once wrote “You can’t go home again.” Or was that Wilde? Or Wolfe? Or some other “W?” Hard to tell. Well, I have come to figure out, that when it comes to old video games, the same holds true. I remember days of sitting around, ruining my left thumb with the very un-ergonomic Atari 2600 joystick, blasting (or eating) pixels. The pixels were shaped like flickering aliens or flickering airplanes or flickering ghosts, though the pixels didn’t really look like aliens, airplanes or ghosts, but I remember the great fun I had.

Hold on tight to your ancient video game memories, people – you can’t get them back. Even with emulation software.

I have been spending an inordinate amount of disappointing time playing retro Atari 2600 video games last week on Stella, an Atari 2600 emulator for the Mac, P.C. or Linux (you can get the actual games here). Why would one do this?

The good games were OK. But the bad ones were really, really bad, or badly translated from their arcade namesakes. It is not totally the faults of the developers because the system was very limiting for its time. The 2600 came out in 1978 and by the time it reached its peak in 1983 it was already 5 years old and showing its limitations with systems like the Matel Intelivision or the Colecovision nipping at the Atari’s heels with more memory and better graphics. (There are emulators for those systems as well, but their games not as great as you remember. Trust me.)

I was one of the few owners, back in the day, of a Starpath (Arcadia) Supercharger. The device was a cartridge that was a little more than twice the size of a normal Atari cartridge that hooked up to a cassette player. You would then take the game, which came on a cassette, put it in to the cassette player, hit “play,” the game would load in about 25 seconds and you could them play slightly better, slightly better LOOKING, and slightly more complicated games. The only exception to this was “Escape from the Mind Master” which was the earliest 3D maze game that is reminiscent of the old Castle Wolfenstein (not in the violence, mind you, but in the way you maneuvered around.) Also there was a version of Sega’s Frogger that was licensed to Starpath that competed, in a way, to the Parker Brothers cartridge based version of the same game. Starpath’s version looked pretty darn good. This was possible because Starpath did not need the “cartridge” rights to the game, they needed the “magnetic media” rights. Remember the cassette? Pretty sneaky Sega. Knowing this trivia is so damned useful, I put it on my resume.

I think, what probably, breaks the joy of replaying your childhood video game memories is the obvious. Everyday we look at great looking interfaces for our computers and even if you stopped playing video games 10 years ago, like me, something like 1992’s Castle Wolfenstein ruins you and there is no going back. The benchmark is set and that new and novel experience must be better than the last.

To the future…