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October 2007

New Media Expo 2007 - Getting Started With Audacity Session

I will be at the New Media Expo 2007 this weekend (Sept. 27-30).  I am giving a presentation on 'Getting Started With Audacity' in the Podcaster 101 track:

Session 8 - 3:15pm to 4:15pm
Ballroom B
Saturday, Sept. 30, 2007
http://www.newmediaexpo.com/saturday2007.htm#Audacity

If folks are bringing their laptops to the session, then it is highly recommend that the come with Audacity pre-loaded ... http://audacity.sourceforge.net. I also have upload some demo audio files in zip format that I will be using if folks are interested in working hands-on with the same material: http://www.newmediaexpo.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1634.

If you'd like to meet-up at the Expo please drop me an email or post a message to me on Twitter.


Some Reasons I'm Not Getting An iPod Touch

I had an interesting conversation yesterday at lunch with some co-workers, one of which has an iPhone, on why I was not getting an iPod Touch:

  1. Lack of key hardware features: Bluetooth, external volume control, speaker, physical iPod control buttons, & camera.
  2. Currently missing some key applications: Mail, Notes, Maps, SMS, & Widgets
  3. Minimal capability as PDA-like productivity tool (read-only calendar for instance)

The real deal breaker was that I could not use the iPod Touch as a mini-data collection tool.  If it had Bluetooth portable keyboard support so I could use it to rapidly collected data I read from print media, then I would have probably lived with the other negatives and purchased one.

I do think that the items #2 and #3 will be solved in the future by software upgrades.

That is my deal breaker.  What is yours?


Taking Something On Purpose By Being "Clever" Is Still Stealing

I just just reading through Bruce Schneier's latest newsletter published on September 15, 2007, and it had this article:

Getting Free Food at a Fast-Food Drive-In

It's easy.  Find a fast-food restaurant with two drive-through windows: one where you order and pay, and the other where you receive your food.  This won't work at the more-common U.S. configuration: a microphone where you order, and a single window where you both pay and receive your food.  The video demonstrates the attack at a McDonald's in -- I assume -- France.

Wait until there is someone behind you and someone in front of you. Don't order anything at the first window.  Tell the clerk that you forgot your money and didn't order anything.  Then drive to the second window, and take the food that the person behind you ordered.

It's a clever exploit.  Basically, it's a synchronization attack.  By exploiting the limited information flow between the two windows, you can insert yourself into the pay-receive queue.

It's relatively easy to fix.  The restaurant could give the customer a numbered token upon ordering and paying, which he would redeem at the next window for his food.  Or the second window could demand to see the receipt.  Or the two windows could talk to each other more, maybe by putting information about the car and driver into the computer.  But, of course, these security solutions reduce the system's optimization.

So if not a lot of people do this, the vulnerability will remain open.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1jgYPsvsrA

While it is a 'clever exploit, taking something purposely without paying for it is still stealing and stealing is illegal.


Wild Idea Gets Some Traction: 'Personal Movie Place'

A while back on one of my runs I had this 'wild' idea that centered around a geographical social networking site that linked movie buffs to each other by enabling them to come together and watch movies that they were very passionate about in a high-end but personal cinema environment.

One of the high-level use cases was:

Sandra goes online to mypersonalmovieplace.com and signs up to "host" her favorite movie "Blade Runner" on Friday night at 8 p.m.  Other fans of "Blade Runner" in her area would be notified and then they could reserve their spots in the 10-20 seat mini-theater.  Once some minimum is met, the room is reserved, and confirmations are sent out.

This movie establishment could have 10-20 of these mini theaters in standard footprint.  The scheduling and collaboration software would be the core glue to bring it all together.  I by no means think something like this is easy to do, the legal issues are probably enough to make most people go crazy.  But when I talk to folks about it, I always get a generally favorable response.

Well ... this idea has some traction no thanks to me.  Mark Cuban and his excellent team at Landmark Theatres is doing something similar at their $20 million multiplex in West LA near Beverly Hills.

They call their rooms - Living Rooms - where a few dozen people can watch a movie in their own personal screen room with access to bar, food, concierge services, and other treats.  The tickets per seat are $11.  There are also plans for slightly bigger rooms like for 60 people that would rent out for $1500 a show.

There is no indication that you can order up the movie of your choice, but I'm sure that is something that would be doable.

The source of the information for Mark Cuban's effort was from an article in the Union-Tribune published on July 22, 2007.

If you like this idea, please feel free to use it (it is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 License).  You do have to compete with the likes of Mark Cuban.  Good luck with that.


TabletPC Thoughts #1 - Upgrade from Toshiba M400 to ThinkPad X61

I am about 30 days into my complete migration from the my old TabletPC the Toshiba M400 to the ThinkPad X61.  Thanks to Marc Orchant and James Kendrick for their early suggestions on some migration questions I had.

The big changes include Vista Ultimate, Office 2007, OneNote 2007, Visio 2007, and Project 2007.  I also have only been adding applications as I need them, this included: Firefox, ClipMate, Newsgator, PDF-X Change Lite 3, IBM SameTime, and MindManager Pro 7.

Things I like about this new setup:

  • Form factor - smaller and easier to pickup and move
  • Performance - much faster processor and other internals
  • Screen - very good even outside
  • Sleep/Hibernate - this is extremely fast and works every time without errors
  • ThinkVantage utilities - well thought out functionality wise and useful
  • Battery performance - easily double from the M400
  • Keyboard - there is something special about the ThinkPad keyboard

Things I'm still getting use to:

  • Smudges on the X61 screen - you have to clean it a lot
  • Differences between Windows XP and Vista when you want to do a power user task (like TCP/IP configs or change wireless networks)
  • Missing the trackpad
  • Not having an integrated DVD/CD (haven't needed it but it makes me a little nervous)

All in all I am really enjoying the X61, Vista Start Menu Search (it works very well!), and Office 2007 especially Outlook & OneNote integration.

Only real downside at the moment is that my organization has not yet completely figured out how to enable VPN access.  The problem is an integration issue between: Vista, Cisco, and DOD CAC PKI.  Hopefully it will get resolved soon and then everything will be working great.