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    July 31, 2012
    Olympic Live Stream Is Actually Not Live

    One of the biggest criticisms of this year’s Olympics coverage is the significant delay between the time major events finish and the time they are broadcast on television.  London is 6 hours ahead of the east coast of the United States, so it’s only natural that NBC would want to put together a package of events to broadcast in prime time viewing hours, but to hold events for hours rather than broadcast them live and then rebroadcast them has landed NBC in the critical eye of the Twitterverse.  NBC has been offering live streaming of events, but even NBC’s live stream isn’t that live.  As it turns out, NBC’s live stream coverage has a significant delay.

    The worst part of it all is that NBC has been spoiling its own coverage.  On the live streaming app, event results are pinged to the app during or before the events even start.  On the television front, a promo for The Today Show spoiled the results of Missy Franklin’s gold medal backstroke race minutes before the race started.  If you’re not going to give me events live as they happen, at least try not to spoil them for me when I’m watching your very programming!

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    July 29, 2012
    The Inept Apple Users In Apple Commercials

    Once upon a time, Apple computers were advertised on their ease of use, ability to function out of the box (nevermind the fact that anything that’s brand new ought to work out of the box), and their hipster credibility.  That was the last ad campaign.  Now, Apple has replaced Justin Long with a young Ferris Bueller look-alike and the easy-to-use Mac has been replaced by the presence of an ever-helpful Apple Genius in a series of ads that make Apple users look helpless and kind of pathetic.

    YouTube Preview Image

    I get why Apple is doing this:  the Genius Bar is a great sales gimmick that really helps separate people with problems from their money.  It’s like Geek Squad with a higher markup.  Having on-site tech support is good for any company, particularly one like Apple, in which most of your products are engineered to be untouchable by non-specialist hands.  If someone wants to repair, they can for a price; if someone seems hesitant, upsell them on a new computer and an extended warrantee.  That said, it’s always good to have someone on hand who can (hopefully) answer your questions when you have them.

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    July 26, 2012
    Twitter Outage A “Double Whammy”

    One of the historical hallmarks of Twitter is the fact that when something awesome is happening, everyone wants to Tweet about it.  I’ve been a Twitter user for a long time now, and that was par for the course for a long time.  Something big is going on, Twitter crashes.  Twitter has worked very hard to correct this issue and increase capacity, and for the most part the fail whale sightings have been rare.  However, that changed today.  Twitter was down for an hour today due to data center problems, not Olympic traffic.

    “I wish I could say that today’s outage could be explained by the Olympics or even a cascading bug,” said Twitter VP of engineering Masen Rawashdeh.  ”Instead, it was due to this infrastructural double-whammy.”

    What do they mean by infrastructural double-whammy?  Well, most web systems are run on redundant parts.  If your main whatever breaks down, a second whatever is supposed to take over.  In this case, something failed in Twitter’s data center, and the reduntant system also failed.  So basically the backup needed a backup.  Twitter has promised to invest aggressively in new technology and equipment to minimize the risk of this sort of issue occurring.

    Every day, more than 140 million twitter accounts post 340 million Tweets.

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    July 25, 2012
    Wordless Wednesday: Landscape And Portrait

    Image: Autocowrecks

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    July 25, 2012
    YouTube Converts Users To Real Names

    Google is going to make users switch to Google+ if it kills them.  To that end, Google has continued the consolidation of its services by moving to YouTube.  Once upon a time, you had to connect your YouTube account to your Google account to ensure maximum integration.  Now, rather than letting users pick a username, Google is encouraging people to start using their real names on YouTube.  You can still choose not to do that, if you wish, but Google is trying to clean up the cesspool that is YouTube’s comment section by putting names to comments.

    “This will give you more options for how your videos are seen and discovered on YouTube,” reads the YouTube blogpost on the new policy.  ”However, we realize that using your full name isn’t for everyone.  Maybe people know you by your YouTube username.  Perhaps you don’t want your name publicly associated with your channel.  To continue using your YouTube username, just click ‘I don’t want to use my full name’ when you see the prompt.”

    I was already asked to make the change and refused.  It’s not that I love my YouTube name–it’s my standard, boring sign-up for just about everything–but I definitely don’t like seeing my real name on someplace like YouTube.  I don’t post videos or anything, but if I did, I’d want to make sure my identifying information, Google+ profile, and everything else as far away from it as I can get.

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    July 21, 2012
    How To Turn A Nexus 7 Into A Kindle Fire

    Say you’ve got a Kindle Fire, but you’re looking to upgrade from that into a faster quad-core, brand-new Google Nexus 7.  That’s all well and good, but what if you’re invested in the Kindle Fire environment?  Like most users, you’ll want to take all your Amazon apps with you, and that might be difficult in making the swap over.  However, CNet has a way to turn your Nexus 7 into a Kindle Fire.  Turns out, it’s pretty easy and completely free.

    The only thing that won’t work on the Nexus is the Amazon video experience (so that Amazon Prime membership is going to go to waste).  The Nexus doesn’t support Flash, and there’s no Amazon Video app, so you can’t watch streaming or rented Amazon videos.  Apparently, Google will be taking a page from the Apple playbook and not porting Flash onto their device (at least the rumor goes) or with any Android OS from Jelly Bean onward.

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    July 20, 2012
    iOS 6 Will Have An App Limit

    When you’re using your iPhone as a computer replacement, you’ll need a lot of apps to get that level of productivity.  Between playing games, productivity tasks, streaming videos online, and the like, you’ll find a few apps can go  a long way.  However, apps are not unlimited, and the limit is actually going to be reduced substantially in the next upgrade of iOS.  Apple’s iOS 6 is going to limit iPhone and iPad users to 500 apps.

    “When a user has over 500 apps on their iDevice, they will start having slow booting, auto-rebooting, and other issues due to the OS rejecting the number of apps,” says user ‘macjeff’ on the Mid Atlantic Consulting blog.  ”Get up to 1,000 and your device will not even boot, forcing you to restore.”

    The current limit of iPhone apps right now is 2160, if you use a variety of tricks to max out your app capacity.  Of course, the limit at the moment is mostly speculative, as it was not this way in the first three beta releases of iOS6 and can still be changed before release date.

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    July 19, 2012
    Windows 8 Will Be Released On…

    Windows 8 has been in development for quite some time.  It’s been a long time since I got to play with a sample version, but the real thing is coming.  Well, the latest edition of Windows 8 will be released to the general public on October 26, 2012.  Start your planning now, and make sure you get in line at your local Windows store early!  Oh wait, Windows people don’t really do that sort of thing.

    Interestingly, this is the release date for both the install version of Windows and the OEM version, so if you’re going to buy a new computer between now and then, you may as well wait a few more weeks and pick up the new version of Windows on your new computer.  I wonder if that’s a possible shipping date, or if you have to order after October 26 to get Windows 8.  If I can order a computer and get Windows 8 loaded on it and in my hands by October 26, that’s a great proposition.

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    July 18, 2012
    Wi-Fi Blocking Wallpaper

    If you’re on a mobile device or have one handy, search for nearby wireless networks.  Right now, a quick browse nets me 17 different networks, maybe even more depending on signal strength and my relative position.  In any neighborhood, you can drive down the street and find dozens of wireless networks.  Sure, most of them will be blocked, but that amount of electronic noise can’t be good, and having a visible network is just asking for hackers to take a turn at trying to break into your home computer cocoon (or at least get some free internet).  However, there may be a solution in the near future:  signal-blocking anti-WiFi wallpaper.

    Researchers from two French agencies, the Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble and the Centre Technique du Papier to create a thin material known as metapaper.  Basically, metapaper is a selective filter designed to keep rogue WiFi signals out and keep your WiFi signal in.  That can boost signal strength AND security in one fell swoop!  Even more amazing, the metapaper is easily recycled and made of renewable resources!  (It also comes in a snowflake pattern, which can be easily covered up with traditional wallpaper as seen above).

    That said, don’t look for metapaper wallpaper at your local store just yet.  The rights have been acquired by Finnish firm Ahlstrom, but it is not yet available for purchase.  The firm is still in the process of mass-producing the wallpaper.

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    July 13, 2012
    Look Ma, No Hands (Sent Via SMS)

    Assembly Bill 1536 is a hot topic in the state of California.  The bill, currently on the desk of California Governor Jerry Brown, makes some interesting amendments to the traffic code.  Namely, it would legalize hands-free devices for sending and receiving text messages and emails while driving.  Just what the world needs, ANOTHER excuse to text when you should be driving.

    “Today marks a huge victory for drivers as this bill will allow Californians to communicate safely and responsibly while on the road,” said Assemblyman Jeff Miller, the Republican representative from Orange County who wrote the bill.

    California is the second state to pass a law allowing the use of hands-free devices while driving, after Idaho.  Interestingly, the bill itself is not directed at telephone users, but at dashboard systems, in-car navigation devices, and other things that may make noise or require some degree of human interaction to function.  The bill’s language was left intentionally vague, indicating that according to Assemblyman Miller, “Something is either hands-free or it is not.”

    That helps narrow things down, doesn’t it?

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