Patterico's Pontifications


Browser Wars Reloaded: Google Chrome

Filed under: Gadgets,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 3:18 pm

[by Justin Levine]

I’ve been playing with the new Google Chrome today.  Very impressive so far. I’d still give the current edge to Mozilla’s Firefox 3 because of all the great customizable add-ons it has. But if Google Chrome catches up to it in this department, I could see it becoming a choice browser.

Its hard to see how Microsoft’s Internet Explorer can recover from both of these superior competitors, but who knows. In the end, we computer users benefit.

– Justin Levine


Firefox 3

Filed under: Gadgets,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 6:10 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

I’ve been using the new web browser all day. It is every bit as good as people are saying it is.

Do yourself a favor and download it now.


Cell Phone Etiquette

Filed under: Air Security,Gadgets — DRJ @ 1:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There are many opinions about proper cell phone etiquette.

For instance, schools usually require students to turn off their cell phones during class. In addition, most pharmacies and doctor’s offices in my town have posted signs that they will not talk to patients about health care matters while patients use their cell phones. It’s surprising how upset some people get when they see that sign and have to turn off their phones.

You can almost always tell when drivers are on the phone because of the way they drive or the way their heads are tilted as they hold the phone to their ear … or the presence of an earphone and the fact they are talking with no one else around.

When it comes to driving and airline travel, however, cell phone use is more than a question of etiquette. For instance, Federal Aviation Administration regulations bar cell phone use on planes because it could interfere with the flight’s navigation system, and airlines can be fined up to $25,000 for allowing the use of cell phones during flights.

Fifty-year-old Joe David Jones, president of Austin environmental technology company Skyonic Corp., has direct experience with this FAA rule. Jones was cited for disorderly conduct because he refused to disconnect his cell phone during a recent Southwest Airlines flight:

“Jones had forgotten to turn off his phone during takeoff and received the message about his father as the plane moved closer to Dallas, said Mark Clayton, Skyonic’s vice president of corporate relations.

“His father’s heart had stopped,” Clayton said. “The cardiac unit requested a call immediately to discuss decisions regarding his father’s immediate care. “So Mr. Jones attempted to call them back. And it took several tries.”

“He expresses regret for the inconvenience that it caused the airline and its passengers, but he felt compelled because of the life and death nature of it to make that call.”

According to a police report, Jones was on his cell phone for about 20 minutes at the end of the flight. The report said Jones, when asked to turn his phone off, responded with an obscenity.”

Jones’ father may have been in a dire medical situation but he was in the care of physicians, so it’s hard for me to understand why Jones was unable to communicate his problem to the flight crew and request assistance with emergency communications. My guess is he just didn’t care that his cell phone was a problem for someone else.




Filed under: Gadgets,Music — Patterico @ 1:51 pm

So I got an Ipod for Christmas. I got the 160 GB version, which is perfect. I’ve been ripping my favorite albums, and have well over 300 albums on there now (160kbps AAC for rock music, 192kbps AAC for classical) and still have used only about 1/6 of the thing’s capacity. It’s amazing that I’ve avoided this device for so long, but I’m glad I waited until one came out with this capacity.

Fun stuff.

P.S. A post like this inevitably invites a slew of comments about how I did everything wrong — there are better players out there, I’m ripping CDs at the wrong rate, etc. etc. etc. I can’t stop you, so go ahead.


The Kindle

Filed under: Books,Gadgets,General — Patterico @ 11:35 am

I have to say, Amazon’s Kindle looks pretty cool. Check out the promotional video here.

Some of what it does is nothing new. I already read blogs on my Treo — and I read the ones I want to read, not just the ones some corporate types have picked for me.

But the idea of reading books on a light portable electronic device, with a no-glare screen, sounds very cool. I’m waiting to see more reviews from people who have actually bought it, to see what people think of it. Is the screen really as readable as the video claims? Is it as user-friendly as it appears from the video? Etc.

They should have some way of allowing people who already own books to download those books for a reduced price. I can see wanting to own a hard copy, but spending a couple extra bucks per book to have the option of having the book loaded into the Kindle for when I don’t want to carry the whole book around with me.

One “downside” that doesn’t bother me in the slightest: the idea that I won’t be able to brag to others about what I read.

If you have used this device, please tell us about it.

P.S. One more thing: it shouldn’t require a “fee” for Kindle users to put their own documents on the device. You should simply be able to download them to an expansion card and put them on yourself. It would be very cool to be able to put work-related documents on this device and carry them around easily.


I now have to admit it to myself…I’ve become a Blu State supporter.

Filed under: Gadgets,Movies — Justin Levine @ 2:12 pm

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Why? Because as one author of authority states, “This stupid war has just dragged on too damned long.”


Technical Bleg

Filed under: Gadgets — Patterico @ 6:31 am

I love having TiVo, even though I watch very little television. But between the things we record for the kids; the season passes to the Simpsons, South Park, and numerous other shows; and the automatic recording of every movie ever made by Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick . . . the thing is starting to fill up. I’m looking for a cheap and simple way to get those programs onto DVD to clean up the DVR and make room.

Ideally I’d like to burn the DVDs using my laptop. A guy at Costco told me there is something called a “video capture card” that I can use to accomplish this, but I can’t find one at the usual suspects like CompUSA or Fry’s.

Any ideas?


If a BlackBerry Is a “CrackBerry,” Then What Is a Treo?

Filed under: Gadgets,Humor — Patterico @ 2:53 pm

Xrlq links to this highly amusing Wall Street Journal article about the widespread addiction many have to their BlackBerries (or “CrackBerries”) and/or Treos — and the costs that this addiction imposes on the families of the addicts. My favorite parts are this passage:

In Austin, Texas, Hohlt Pecore, 7, and his sister, Elsa, 4, have complicated relationships with their mother’s BlackBerry. “I feel very annoyed,” says Hohlt. “She’s always concentrating on that blasted thing.” (Hohlt says he picked up the word “blasted” from the film “Pirates of the Caribbean.”)

Elsa has hidden the BlackBerry on occasion — Hohlt says she tried to flush it down the toilet last year. Their mother, Elizabeth Pecore, who co-owns a specialty grocery store, denies the incident. But Elsa also seems to recognize that it brings her mom comfort, not unlike a pacifier or security blanket. Recently, seeing her mom slumped on the couch after work, Elsa fished the BlackBerry from her mother’s purse and brought it to her. “Mommy,” she asked, “will this make you feel better?”

Emma Colonna wishes her parents would behave, at least when they’re out in public. The ninth-grade student in Port Washington, N.Y., says she has caught her parents typing emails on their Treos during her eighth-grade awards ceremony, at dinner and in darkened movie theaters. “During my dance recital, I’m 99% sure they were emailing except while I was on stage,” she says. “I think that’s kind of rude.”

and this one:

Lucas Ellin, the son of “Entourage” creator Doug Ellin, says his dad checks his email at restaurants, during Lucas’s soccer games and on school visits. Lucas sometimes tries to divert his father’s focus away from the device by hiding it or taking his dad’s face in his hands to physically get his attention. When nothing else works, Lucas turns to the highest of authorities. “I go tell my mom that Daddy’s not listening and then my mom yells at him,” he says.

I strenuously deny that any such thing has ever happened in my household. Uh, not that you asked.


We Have Cool Stuff

Filed under: Gadgets,Space,War — Angry Clam @ 7:53 am

[Posted by The Angry Clam]

Aviation Week has a story currently about a secret two-stage to orbit military spaceplane that was supposedly operational.

Considering that Aviation Week isn’t the Weekly World News, and that these guys also guessed the existence of the sweet-as-hell F-117 before it was publicly announced, I don’t think that it is entirely implausible that they’ve got the broad outlines for the program correct. The descriptions of the Blackstar also align fairly closely with the numerous reports of the Aurora aircraft.

If Aviation Week’s correct that the program has been scrapped, the real question becomes “what even cooler toy did they get to replace this?”


Treo #3: Third Time Appears to Be a Charm

Filed under: Gadgets — Patterico @ 6:26 pm

So I’m on my third Treo, after experiencing constant rebooting with my second (as well as my first).

So far I’m encouraged. It hasn’t rebooted once, even when I executed operations that routinely caused the first two to reboot. For example, when I access my Bloglines account and instantly start scrolling down before the full page downloads, the first two Treos would reboot more often than not. On this one, I can start scrolling right away with no problems whatsoever.

They may have finally worked the bugs out of these Cingular Treos. At least I can hope . . .

The other thing I have done that makes me happy is to set the screen to go dark after 3 minutes instead of 30 seconds. I usually turn off the screen when I’m done with the phone anyway, but the screen constantly goes dark too quickly if it’s set to go off after 30 seconds.

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