Sunday, January 28, 2007

Turning 32

Well, today's that day when I gain an extra year. It always amazes me how much revolves around our age, and how suggestive the latter is. I'm an old fart for some, yet still a youngster for others. But who sees us as which and when is what usually matters most.

On a far less pseudo-existential note, kudos to my 7 year old on his first in-match hockey goal (1st season). :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Up to my Elbows in Enterprise Search

Sorry about the lack of updates, but I'm smack in the middle of a huge project rethink at work, and it's eating up all my time. I've been at it for two weeks, and I'm now hitting a point where I'm satisfied with the direction the project is heading. I reached the point where I'm having fun with it. :)

I'll have more time once this is behind us, which I'm glad to say is coming soon!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mona Lisa Grave Found, Claims Scholar

From the source article:

The woman behind Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting may be buried near a now derelict building in the heart of Florence, according to archival documents. The exact location of Mona Lisa's burial site, the convent of Sant'Orsola, was just a about 900 feet away from the house of the artist's father, according to the historian, Giuseppe Pallanti.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

3D Desktop Linux on Live CD posted two articles in as many days about the 3D desktops under Linux now being available for preview as live CDs.

I'm getting them both as we speak to try them on my MacBook.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

parseMe 20070111 Update

Update: 2007-02-13: An upgraded version is now available.

I have released an upgraded version of my GPL'ed lightweight feed reader for web-enabled devices, parseMe, a couple of days ago.

I have added a couple of interesting new features:

  • It now integrates with Google Mobile to provide full content browsing of the destination URLs. This is done by using their nifty (x)html parser, which reformats standard web pages for mobile/accessibility browsers.
  • There is now a cookie-based feature that lets users define what their default source and item limit should be when first accessing the app. All cookie manipulation is done via PHP, on the server-side, as to not rely on Javascript, which is rarely available on the targeted browsers.
You can find the appropriate links below:
I'm obviously quite a bit biased of course, but it's still is my favourite mobile app. :) And since I'm not seeing an iPhone (or similar smart phone) in any kind of recent future for me (availability in Canada, price, usage fees, etc), it probably will be for quite a while.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Parallels Desktop for Mac Update RC Wins MacWorld Expo 2007 “Best in Show”

RENTON, Wash. – January 10th, 2007 – Parallels announced today that its Update Release Candidate (RC) for the Parallels Desktop for Mac, released today, has been named “Best in Show” at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. The “Best in Show” award is presented to the most elite of the several thousand products and services on display at the annual MacWorld Expo and Conference.

Congratulations! :)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Canadian coins bugged...

From the source CBC article:

They say money talks, and a new report suggests Canadian currency is indeed chatting, at least electronically, on behalf of shadowy spies. Canadian coins containing tiny transmitters have mysteriously turned up in the pockets of at least three American contractors who visited Canada, says a branch of the U.S. Department of Defence.

This is one of the strangest thing I've ever heard...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Apple TV? SlingCatcher? Mac Mini? Something Else???

Apple today officially announced the little box formerly known as the iTV, now dubbed the Apple TV. Nothing new has really been announced, and the honours of the day of course duly went to the quite stunning iPhone. The Apple TV price tag was confirmed, at US $299.

Pretty neat and cheap little device, but one detail to note is that it will not ship with a cable to link it to your TV (see What's in the box), which will probably fetch another US $20 or more at purchase time.

Also, unless 3rd-party cable providers jump on the bandwagon, and/or that the device itself does not make use of Macrovision-like DRM technologies, the Apple TV will also not be compatible with analog TV sets (See the connection options), unless plugged in an intermediary solution like a cable/satellite set-top box or other. This is of course conveniently in line with the media industry's quest to plugging the infamous analog hole (booh, there be dragons in there!).

For those just as tempted as I to press the shiny pre-order button, I'd suggest to consider the family=AppleTV in the URL at the online Apple Store. Can you see the bigger-drive-coming-soon flag too?

On another front, Sling Media announced (1, 2) the upcoming release of their very similar offering, the SlingCatcher, at the Consumer Electronics Show.

We will probably have to watch for the same limitations as the former device, but one big point is that this solution is currently said to be media agnostic.

This is an important fact in my context, since I have digital videos that go back to close to 10 years now, and some of them will not play in Quicktime without the addition of extra codecs (such as wmv, xvid, divx, etc). Apple currently only lists the iTunes compatible H.264 and MP4 (without avi encapsulations).

Other codecs enabled via plug-ins do not import into iTunes at this time (2007-01-09), but interestingly will play in Front Row. I say this is interesting because Front Row seems to use iTunes for video playback (iTunes is launched in the background). Apple probably doesn't want to have to deal with the AVI metadata format.

But there might still be hope, if the Update Software seen in the Settings view is not just an interface to the Mac OS X Software Update utility, and allows for additional plugins to be installed. Or, like in Front Row, if it is possible to stream movies from mounted server, instead of the iTune daap Bonjour/ZeroConf-based streaming protocol (or video-enabled successor?). If I was a 3rd-party QT codec provider, I'd probably be begging them to do so right now, but as much as I enjoy their products, Apple doesn't have the best record for letting others play with their toys.

The price tag for the SlingCatcher is currently pre-announced at around US $200, or about $100 less than the Apple TV. The better solutions for me could still be a Mac Mini using Front Row, which has its own upsides (full feldged OS, analog adapter, DVD player/burner, external expandability, etc) and problems (US $599 v. > 300, thicker, etc). Or also a PS3 running Linux.

Um, again left with decisions... Bah, I still have a few weeks to decide before my birthday anyway. ;)

Update: 2007-01-10: Apple does not actually manufacture/(re-)brand connection cables at all. The ones listed on their site are actually made by Xtreme Mac. Also, some of the same questions/concerns I had have been addressed by some of the Ars Technica editors.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Why is the universe just right for life?

Paul Davies, George Efstathiou, David Gross and Leonard Susskind, four of the world's most renowned physicists, will debate the fundamental questions of existence at A Cosmic Coincidence: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life? McGill University's second annual Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium. The symposium will address the controversial anthropic principle: the notion that the universe is somehow specifically "tuned" to support life as we know it.

The 2007 Lorne Trottier Public Science Symposium: A Cosmic Coincidence: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?

When: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, January 25, 2007

Where: McGill University Main Campus, Leacock Building, Room 132

Live Webcast (on January 25)

This symposium will be presented in English with simultaneous French translation.

Read the source article on the McGill Newsroom.

Last Day in Florida

Well, it's our last vacation day in Boynton Beach, Florida, and as you can assume from the attached photo, my family and I had a blast (don't be fooled by the body board, there are no real waves, but enough to fool around in with the kids.). Plane tomorrow, back to school for my oldest on Monday, and back to work for me on the 10th. My wife and two youngest will be staying an extra week.

And of course, back to more tech-oriented blogging for me. :)

Update: 2007-01-12: Link to Google Map where the photo was taken.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy new year!

May 2007 bring you all that you wish for.