Netflix CEO Rates Blockbuster, Amazon Threats (Reuters)

12/12/04 | by JAdP | Categories: Toys and Tools, Personal Life, TIA Life

I've seen several articles about competition to Netflix over the years. But I've never seen one that mentions the competition that drew me away from Netflix: DirecTiVo - that wonderful combination of the TiVo DVR and DirecTV. Coupled with any premium movie channel or PPV, and it's a very important part of the TeleInterActive Lifestyle. The entertainment I want, when I want it, my way. Using Linux. Makes my geeky heart jump.

Reuters - Netflix Inc chief executive Reed Hastings said on Friday that Blockbuster Inc has more to lose in the war for online DVD renters than emerging foe Amazon.com Inc.

[Yahoo! News: Technology - Personal Technology]

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Customer Service Isn't

12/05/04 | by JAdP | Categories: Personal Life

Isn't what? Is NOT a service to the customer. Not from most companies. [Present company excluded, of course &#59;D ] Not in most cases. Not anymore.

Case 1. The sinking feeling you get after interminable punching numbers on your phone's keypad, when you hear the static of a transoceanic cable, and a barely discernable voice asks you for some piece of information you just punched in, in an accent so thick you can barely understand them. In the USA, that accent is often Hindi. In India, that accent may be Rumanian. It just tumbles down the food chain. Providian, Longs, SBC, and many, many others have shown how little they care about their customers by outsourcing customer service.

Case 2. You've explained your problem to one "tech rep". They must go through their "script". After anywhere from an half-hour to an hour, you are back to your original explanation. The tech rep escalates the problem. You go through it all again, even though the first person made you wait, while they took notes. Oops, this person isn't the right one; they need to transfer you. And disconnect you in the process. Which means you are back to square one, calling your support number, and must go through it all again, because the tech reps can't do anything, even on an existing issue, without going through the script. After perhaps three or four repetitions of this, you get a scheduled block-of-time for a tech to come see you. But they have a shortened description of the problem on the work order, and they're actually an independent contractor who won't make enough money that day if they do what you need instead of what's on the work order. DirecTV, SBC DSL - you know who I mean.

Case 3. You're in your favorite gadget store and you want to pay big bucks for something you don't really need anyway. The sales people have no idea on how to advise you on your purchase. If you buy it there, you may not get something that actually works as you expected. Fry's, Circuit City, Good Guys, Home Depot - I'm talking about you, and you, and you, and all of your competitors. Buy it on the web - you're more likely to get what you wanted.

There are so many more cases, I don't know where to end, so I'll end here, before my ulcer explodes.

 

Bluetooth Bonanza

12/05/04 | by JAdP | Categories: Living the Life, Bluetooth, TIA Life

Many articles are saying that 2005 will be the year of Bluetooth. Maybe, maybe not. People have been saying that for awhile. Having lived with my Jabra FreeSpeak and convinced partners and friends to get one, I don't see how people can live with a wire crawling from their ear, through their clothes and into whatever pocket, pouch or clip-on holds their cell phone.

Now, we've finally begun playing with a Bluetooth/USB dongle hanging off of our laptops and one workstation. Our Palm Tungstens and our cell phones (Sony Ericsson T68i for me, T637 for my partner) connected up great. Finally, easy synchronization among our various contact databases. This is great.

Now, what I really want is a stereo, noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphone - maybe even with a good microphone. But there are so few on the market.

So maybe more choices on the headphones, and with more manufacturers including Bluetooth in laptops, TabletPCs and other computers... Maybe... 2006?

 

Blog Reading Tools

12/04/04 | by JAdP | Categories: Toys and Tools, TIA Tools & Toys, Blog Tools

There are many tools on the web and for our desktops to help us find and read blogs. Some of these tools are based on the RSSv1, RSSv2 or Atom syndication protocols, some are blog search engines and some are listing services. I won't try to evaluate any of the tools out there, but I'm posting this as a convenient list of links to reviews and sources available on the web.

  1. From Wired, we have "A Scan of the Headline Scanners", which reviews four products.
  2. PCWorld looked at 18 readers and published reviews on five plus some blog listing sites and search engines in "News on Demand".
  3. About.com has a review of bloglines and articles on five aggregators.
  4. Robert Teeter has a very good article on RSS and Aggregators at Interleaves.org.
  5. And no list would be complete without looking at the Wikipedia entry on wiki(News_aggregator,Aggregators).

I use the following in various situations.

  • NewsGator provides an online news aggregator service for free, a variety of premium services, and a $29 Outlook add-on that allows you to read feeds in Outlook, arrange the feeds into Outlook folders and even post to your blog from within Outlook. I particularly like the fact that I can synchronize my subscriptions between the online services and the Outlook version, and that I can read my feeds on my Palm via the mobile and wireless Webpro browser and Newsgator's mobile version of the feeds. I also use the browser toolbar that allows me to subscribe in Newsgator to any site using RSS or Atom. Mostly I use the NewsGator Outlook add-on when I want to quickly scan headlines and briefs from news articles and blogs. But it is also useful in that I can forward the article or brief as though the post were an email. Very handy. And, since the Outlook add-on has plug-ins for many popular wiki(blogware) APIs, it allows you to blog about something you just read, using a very familiar interface.
  • Blogrolling.com is a great service. They have free and paid versions. I really like the Blogroll Panel that I can activate in Firefox, IE, or whatever browser I'm using. Again, I can subscribe via a browser toolbar plugin. One advantage to this service is that you can subscribe to a site even if the site doesn't use a XML syndication protocol. From that aspect, I guess that Blogrolling.com isn't strictly a news aggregator or RSS reader, just like a wiki(bookmarklet) only different. You can arrange your links/feeds by category - essentially, in the premium version, creating multiple blogrolls. I generally use my blogrolling panel in Firefox when I really want to read the blog and get it the way the author intended.
  • I've also been using the beta RSS feed reader addition to My!Yahoo. More of a matter of convenience, really. 'Tis a great addition to your My!Yahoo pages.

Many aggregators allow you to export your list of feeds and links in a variety of ways. So, you can easily add a list of RSS or Atom powered links, headlines or a blogroll to a web site or blog. All-in-all, these tools are a great addition to the collaboration kit of anyone living the TeleInterActive Lifestlye.

 

Feeds not Lists

11/23/04 | by JAdP | Categories: Information Mangement

William Vambenepe writes in his HP blog article "32K ought to be enough for everyone" about his frustrations stemming from limits in MS Outlook's Rules. My answer: use RSS instead.

I find that subscribing to news feeds (RSS, RSS1, RSS2, Atom) rather than email lists has made for a much more manageable stream of information. Wherever possible I've dropped my email subscription and signed up for the feed instead. I'm also lucky in that I use Newsgator, which provides an email address I can use for information I want that is still only offered through email lists. The email goes to that address and Newsgator turns it into a feed, that I read in Outlook or via Firefox (my browser of choice) or on my Palm's browser.

Managing the feed is easier than dealing with Outlook Rules and server-side rules that I used so that email lists didn't go to my main inbox, and the information is available wherever I need it or have the time to read it. Great stuff all around.

 

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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

View Joseph di Paolantonio's profile on LinkedIn

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