Monthly Archives: March 2006

Back to TV?

Somewhere through my Yahoo career, I stopped watching network TV. A loss of interest, a lack of time, a whole bunch of reasons. Just didn’t make it to the TV and nothing really caught my eye enough to want to watch some series over and over again.
I remember the days of Cheers and Seinfeld, and even the anime series Starblazers and Robotech. Something about these shows always drew me back, running back from school or work to watch this week’s episode. But then it stopped happening. I just wasn’t getting it with TV shows for years.
Too many years of reality TV. Gotta be the stupidest phase TV ever went through. Not enough good writing, the shows seemed uninteresting. Combine that with a 12 hour a day job and forget TV altogether.
But it took leaving that job and the advent of the video iPod to get me back into TV. Minus the ads (except that I do like SOME ads), minus the time slot. I am not burdened by needing to be at my TV at a certain time. I can watch whenever and wherever I want.
Today, I decided to check out Desperate Housewives and Lost. I download the pilots and see what this is all about. And you know what…they’re not bad… Perhaps I can stomach TV now that I have TV on my own terms.

Tivo Online!

One of my rare days is when I’m here in the Bay Area on a Sunday. Thus, I had some time to finally hook up my Tivo to the Internet. Supposedly this allows me to schedule shows to my home based Tivo via the Web; I’ve been itching to try it out. Here goes.
Sometimes I just don’t believe that today’s computerized devices can be connected successfully all the time. They don’t seem to work all the time and debugging them can be a nightmare.
But today must have been my lucky day. I plug in a Linksys USB Wifi adapter and the correct menu in the Tivo spins right up.
I am always worried about plugging in these adapters – it’s the same with buying the wrong wireless router. You never know if it’s really going to work or not. This last year I helped my sister setup wireless networking in their house. They have cable internet, something that I’m not familiar with – I’ve setup three wireless networks in three different parts of the country with DSL. Each one was different. I had to go to different websites, search through pages of tech support, and then figure out how to configure my brand of wireless router. Note that each brand has a slightly different way of setting this up, not to mention the different types of DSL across the nation. I thought I was getting good at setting up these networks. Then, I hit this cable internet. But I get lucky again. I note that it was probably an old model of the wireless router that was causing the problem. So we go get a new model of the same one, and of course it works. Why is that? No idea. Two generations of a wireless router and one works and one doesn’t. Go figure.
Devices just don’t work the way they’re supposed to. We gotta be voodoo doctors to know which magic dust you gotta sprinkle with this setup and hardware.
But I get lucky once again with this Linksys USB Wifi Adapter.
In minutes, the Tivo connects with the Internet and acknowledges that it’s working. I then go to the Tivo website, logon, and schedule a show to test it. It receives the request and queues it for my Tivo.
I then go back to the Tivo and tell it to connect and download data. Minutes later, the Tivo has the information as I check it in its recording queue.
AWESOME. Never miss a show now! And now, back to my dust of frog liver and puree of toadstool…

Spam Filter Frustration

So like any normal Web developer, I setup my own domain and website and also setup email services. I start mailing people and then realize my email is caught by spam filters!
How annoying! And now I have to argue with my ISPs on why the IP addresses of their mail servers are on watchlists of spam filters. In the meantime, my email is being held for 4 hours or more OR not even being delivered at all.
WTF. This isn’t supposed to be how spam filters work.

Checkout of the Future

Today I was in the Apple Store in Westfield Valley Fair Mall. For some reason, there was a huge hold-up at the checkout. There were 3 checkout stations and all of them were occupied by people just standing there doing…I don’t know what. But sure as hell they weren’t leaving and the line to buy stuff was growing. And yours truly was last in line.
I was slowly getting pissed that all of the checkout stations were occupied by people standing there trying to accomplish god knows what and I wanted to pay for my thing and get the hell out.
A few minutes later, a bunch of the Apple Stores sales folks moved up with their little handheld checkout devices and saved the day. They checked all of us in line out within seconds and we were on our way.
I believe last Christmas, they introduced these little PDA checkout devices. Fearing a run for iPod Nanos and Videos for Christmas presents, they tried these devices out in hopes of solving bottlenecks at the main checkouts. Separate iPod only stations were setup to the side, and these devices could swipe your credit card, check it, you would sign on the touchscreen of the device, and then the receipt would be emailed to you. In the blink of an eye, you could jump past the regular checkout stations and get an iPod instantly!
I am glad they kept these devices. For those of us who are connected, they are awesome. No more slips of paper to lose (the receipts); they are emailed to me and I can file them as needed. And they are fast.
Just think if other retailers could build such integration with the Web while improving the speed of rushing people through checkout. I am reminded of going to Target who, despite having an incredible number of staggered, space-saving checkouts, has clearly the slowest checkout process I have ever seen. It is really painful. Target could learn a thing or two from the Apple Store for sure.