Live With Regis And Kelly

Sunday, 17 October 2004, 6:27 pm
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I’ve just heard from Live that they’re interested in booking me to do a Holiday Gadget buying segment in late November or early December. I’ll let you know when I get a solid date for it.

Meanwhile, I’m compiling a list of cool new gadgets to present. Got any suggestions? I’d love to hear ’em. Add a comment here.

The Tivo Guide is Out

Saturday, 16 October 2004, 6:17 pm
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I’ve just received my author’s copies of Leo Laporte’s Guide to TiVo and I must humbly say it’s the best Tivo book ever. All credit to Gareth Branwyn who knocked himself out writing it, Rick Kughen, my editor at Que who polished it to a gleaming shine, and the guys at who gave us outstanding support all along the way.

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This is the book that should come with every Tivo sold.

Saturday Snippets

Saturday, 16 October 2004, 3:40 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant aboutPlaying catchup with the tech news since 2003…

  1. The FCC has approved BPL: broadband over power lines, and utilities in Washington State and Ohio are moving to implement it. The technology could bring high-speed Internet to areas unserved by DSL and cable modems. The ARRL, which has been virulently opposed to BPL, said they were cautiously optimistic that the new rules would protect hams.
  2. Project Fluffy Bunny has seen the light of day. Google is extending its search business to your desktop. The new Google desktop search indexes Outlook and Outlook Express email, Microsoft Office files, filenames, web history, chat logs, and text files. It integrates into Internet Explorer, and future Google searches will include results from your own hard drive as well as the web in general. It’s a great product considering the price, but I still prefer X1 for its speed and the wider variety of files it searches.
  3. It has been rumored that Google is also considering distributing its own Instant Messaging client. Experts who examined the code in the desktop tool says it supports its own IM protocol. Google’s acquisition of Picasa some months ago gave it access to the IM code in Picasa’s Hello program.
  4. Intel has announced it won’t produce a 4GHz Pentium 4 after all. Overheating problems with higher clock speeds are forcing the company to focus its efforts on multi-core chips – single chips with two processors – and improving efficiency in the Pentium 4 line with larger caches.
  5. Meanwhile AMD continues its march to eclipse Intel. Tuesday the company will unveil the Athlon 64 FX-55 and the Athlon 64 4000+. The FX is currently the best performing desktop CPU on the market.
  6. Netflix is announcing that it’s cutting its monthly fee from $22 to $17 because it expects Amazon to enter the business soon. Earlier this year Netflix raised its fee from $20 to $22 – but I guess that didn’t work. The DVD by mail company’s stock tumbled 41% in after hours trading on the news. Blockbuster responded by dropping its monthly fee to $17.49. Analysts say neither company can expect to make money at that price.
  7. More troubles for Bungie. Just days after announcing that Halo 2 for the Xbox is ready to ship, a pirated copy has leaked onto the Internet. The French language version is for PAL television sets and won’t play without a mod chip.
  8. Apple’s iTunes Music Store sold its 150 millionth song on Thursday. The store is averaging four million tracks a week. Beth Santisteven of Ignacio, Colorado bought the 150 millionth song: Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor.” Apple sold two million iPods in Q4.
  9. Of course, Apple is not without competition. Starbucks is rolling out music burning stations in its coffee shops. Fifteen new Hear Music stations will open Monday in Seattle. Thirty later this month in Austin. A trial store has been open in Santa Monica since March.
  10. According to Dell’s Consumer Spyware Initiative, 90% of PC users have been infected by spyware, and the majority have no idea what to do about it. The Internet Education Initiative has set up a spyware education page. Unfortunately it seems to focus on commercial tools from its partners, rather than the free and effective tools most experts recommend.


Wednesday in Bill Gates’s America

Wednesday, 13 October 2004, 3:13 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant aboutSome big anniversaries in today’s Tech News…

Netscape turns 10 today. According to the original press release, the browser was “optimized to run smoothly over 14.4 kilobit/second modems.”

And turns four today.

  1. Microsoft has released 10 new security fixes – seven of them critical. Run Windows Update kids. One of the patches fixes the JPEG patch released last month because it didn’t work on machines with Office XP. Surprise!
  2. But Bill Gates isn’t moping over the miscue. His date for the Windows XP Media Center 2005 roll-out on Tuesday was Queen Latifah. Gates said, “Today, the dream of digital entertainment becomes a reality.” Today? Really? Wow. When asked “what about Apple?” in an interview with USA Today, Gates said, “We have a more ambitious view of software than they do.” I believe that’s true. When asked about the holes in Internet Explorer Gates said, “Understand those are cases where you are downloading third-party software.
  3. The Funner worm is spreading itself using MSN Messenger. It spreads itself as a file named funny.exe, modifies the registry, changes the Hosts file, then sends itself to entries in the host machine’s Messenger buddy list. It’s not just fun, it’s Funner.
  4. PayPal’s technical issues are mostly resolved. The electronic payment service was up and down all weekend and early this week due to an upgrade that went awry.
  5. Motorola is adding credit card capabilities to its newest phones. You’ll be able to pass the phone over a reader in stores and restaurants to pay for goods. A password is required to authorize the transaction. The company is currently testing the technology in 100 phones and will expand the tests nationwide by the end of the year. Nokia has been testing PayPass in its phones since May 2003.
  6. But wait. Who needs a phone? The FDA has approved the implantation of VeriChips in humans. The RFID chips are the size of a grain of rice and can contain a patient’s medical records. Or, as in the case of some Spanish club hoppers, credit card information to speed the purchase of drinks and food.
  7. Virgin announced a 5GB MP3 player to compete with the iPod Tuesday. The $249 player weighs 3.1 ounces and supports MP3 and WMA formats.
  8. Dell’s new Axim X50v PDA also plays MP3 and WMA files on its 624Mhz processor, runs PocketPC 2003SE and supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The $499 handheld comes with 64MB of RAM, 128MB of flash, a 480×640 display, and CF and SD slots. This thing is more powerful than my first dozen computers.
  9. Maui X-Stream has announced Cherry OS, a Mac OS X emulator for Windows. The $49 program claims to run Panther on a PC. I find this very hard to believe, but I’m not willing to waste $50 to find out. If it is true, the authors will be shut down before you read this. In order to emulate a Mac you’d have to copy a considerable amount of proprietary Apple software and firmware. It seems highly unlikely that a lone programmer in Hawai’i could reverse engineer such a significant amount of code.


Monday’s Murmurs

Monday, 11 October 2004, 9:45 pm

SupermanSuper man, Christopher Reeve passed away yesterday at the age of 52.

Saturday Night Live premiered on this day in 1975. Happy 79th birthday Elmore Leonard.

  1. It’s the one year anniversary of Microsoft’s pledge to make security job one. How are they doing? Jon Udell has a good article on the subject in this week’s Infoworld. His conculsion, the sins of the past will continue to haunt us for a long time, but Microsoft is on the right track. I’m sticking with OS X.
  2. Microsoft is expected to unveil Windows XP Media Center 2005 and the MSN Music Store tomorrow at LA’s Shrine Auditorium. The new Media Center is expected to be cheaper and include wireless connectivity.
  3. USA Today has an article about John Gilmore’s boneheaded lawsuit against airline ID requirements. The Cypherpunk and Sun founder claims they violate his right to travel the US anonymously. He says the policy amounts to a national passport. So drive, John.
  4. I can’t even believe I’m reporting this. The US has won “gold” in the World Cybergames. Team3D defeated the Titans of Denmark in CounterStrike to take home the $50,000 prize. The final match was played before an “enthusiastic crowd” of unspecified size yesterday in San Francisco.
  5. The FBI has shut down 20 sites that were part of an alternative media network known as Indymedia. Rackspace handed the servers over after receiving a court order on Thursday. It’s not clear what Indymedia was doing wrong, but the FBI says it was acting on the request of Swiss and Italian authorities. Indymedia said it had been “asked last month by the FBI to remove a story about Swiss undercover police from one of the websites hosted at Rackspace. It is not known, however, whether Thursday’s order is related to that incident since the order was issued to Rackspace and not to Indymedia.” The seizure has sparked protests from the International Federation of Journalists. The EFF is offering help.
  6. Slashdot says, Halo 2 has gone gold. Bungie says the hotly anticipated XBox game will make its November ship date.
  7. An Ohio man has been fired for using SETI@home at work. The worker at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services had been running the software that searches for ET on state servers since October. His boss told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, “I understand his desire to search for intelligent life in outer space, because obviously he doesn’t find it in the mirror in the morning.” Ouch.

Listen in tomorrow at 6:45a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco.


Le Trio Nouveau

Sunday, 10 October 2004, 3:11 pm
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Our house artist, Tackie, has been at it again. He writes:

Greetings again Leo,

thumbnail of Le Trio Nouveau Been very busy of late, and regretably, have not had any spare time to devote to any side projects. Well had some spare time today, (ok, and all of tonight) so I followed Andy’s suggestion of updating “The Trio” with the new crew member.

The first screening of “Trio Nouveau”…

Hope you and the guys like it.

Kind regards,

Love it, Steve! Thanks!

Podcast Pioneer

Saturday, 9 October 2004, 10:45 pm
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The audio from today’s interview with Adam Curry on KFI is now available on the TLR podcast feedjust press play to listen direct download.

Friday’s Futurama

Friday, 8 October 2004, 3:48 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant aboutNews is now…

Ozzie married Harriet in 1935.

Happy Birthday! Chevy Chase is 61. Sigourney Weaver is 55.

  1. More good news from Congress. The House passed anonther anti-spyware bill, its second in three days, adding penalties of up to five years in prison for people convicted of installing the bogies without a computer user’s permission. The “Internet Spyware Prevention Act,” passed 415-0.
  2. And the FTC is suing its first spyware companies. The FTC requested a temporary restraining order against Seismic Entertainment Productions, Smartbot.Net, and uber-spammer, Sanford Wallace, claiming the companies secretly installed software that pops-up dozens of ads, and then sends a message offering to stop the pop-ups with $30 software. Nice.
  3. Sun and Kodak have settled out of court. Sun will pay Kodak $92 million to license the patents Kodak says were infringed by Java. Kodak was asking for one billion.
  4. Dell is recalling some of its laptop power adapters because they can overheat posing a fire hazard. 4.4 million AC adapters sold between September 1998 and February 2002 are affected.
  5. Secunia is reporting that there is a critical flaw in Microsoft Word for Windows 2000 and possibly 2002 that could allow a malicious Word document to place a trojan horse on your system. No patch from Microsoft as yet.
  6. Now that the Ansari X-Prize has been won, it’s time for a new X-Prize – this time aimed at stimulating developments in technology. The WTN X-Prize hasn’t yet specified the challenges or prize amounts.
  7. Google is testing a new SMS search. Send your query as a text message from your cell phone and Google will reply. The number is 46645 (GOOGL on most phones).
  8. ThinkSecret claims Apple is in production of a new 60GB PhotoPod – an iPod with a color screen and photo synchronization software that works with Apple’s iPhoto. The pod will reputedly have a video out connector for playing slide shows on your TV. Toshiba has confirmed that Apple has ordered its 60GB mini-drive “in quantity.”

Tune in tomorrow at 7:45a Eastern for my weekly visit with John Donabie on 1010 CFRB Toronto. And, of course, listen to my show every Saturday and Sunday, noon to 3p Pacific on KFI, Los Angeles.


Thursday’s Throaty Moans

Thursday, 7 October 2004, 5:20 pm
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All the news that's fit to rant aboutBababooey, it’s time for news.

The dark side of Moon was seen for first time on this day in 1959. American Bandstand premiered in 1957. The MPAA adopted the film rating system in 1968. Adam Rich was arrested for stealing hypodermic needles in 1991.

Happy Birthday physicist Neils Bohr, 1885 and Bishop Desmond Tutu, 1931. John Cougar Mellencamp is 53.

  1. The Senate Judiciary Committe votes on the Induce Act this afternoon. The highly controversial bill, created by and for the RIAA, makes fundamental changes to the copyright law, making it illegal to distribute any product that can be used to steal music or movies – that means Kazaa and Morpheus, of course, but also DVD recorders, CD burners, and even the iPod. This bill would jeopardize the entire consumer electronic industry. If it’s voted out of committee the Senate is expected to take it up after the November election recess. Contact your member of Congress today.
  2. Stern’s doing it. As expected, the syndicated radio shock jock announced Wednesday that he’s moving the lucrative program to satellite radio provider Sirius starting January 1, 2006. The five year, multimillion dollar deal is a big blow to Infinity broadcasting, Stern’s current employer, and an even bigger boost for Sirius. There’s a giant ad for Sirius on Stern’s site saying “some things should be censored, just not your radio.” Sirius says the show will cost $100 million a year to produce.
  3. Microsoft has released a patch and a scan tool for TV Media, a piece of spyware that was causing Service Pack 2 to blue screen. Spyware seems to be the number one cause of SP-2 issues and Microsoft is recommending scanning for spyware before attempting the upgrade.
  4. Microsoft also warned webmasters this morning of a flaw in ASP.NET that could give attackers access to password protected areas of web sites. There is no fix as yet for the bug which affects 2.9 million active sites.
  5. Vice President Cheney slipped when he sent debate viewers to Tuesday night. It’s for one thing. For another, the dot-com site now sends surfers to financier George Soros’s anti-Bush site. Frankly, is not much better. It does point out some inaccuracies in John Edwards’s debate claims, but it’s harder on the Vice President.
  6. Amazon launched Google competitor A9 last week. Turnabout is fair play. Google is putting book pages online, ala Amazon. lets you search through the handful of books they now have online, but they’re soliciting publishers for more.
  7. Netscape founder Marc Andreesen told the Web 2.0 conference yesterday that he expects Microsoft to take aim at Mozilla and Apple’s Safari real soon now. “If I were them I’d take another look, and I would see how I could screw with other people’s businesses with this monopoly (I) have,” he said.
  8. Just when you thought the DVD camcorder was dead, Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic have announced they’ll offer camcorders with 15GB Blu-ray DVD recorders built-in some time next year. The cameras would likely be aimed at the HD prosumer crowd. Give me a hard drive instead.
  9. Skype says it’s going to target businesses next with its free peer-to-peer Internet telephony software. Skype for Business will include expanded conference calling, SkypePlus voice mail and SkypeIn, for receiving calls from POTS phones.
  10. Jib Jab’s new video, Dixie, premieres on Leno tonight then will be available online at In addition to this years presidential candidates, the 80 second animated film features John Ashcroft, Dan Rather, Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh and Jane Fonda. Atom films is stocking up on bandwidth even as we speak.

Listen in tomorrow at 8:35a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles.


Wednesday Wonkage

Wednesday, 6 October 2004, 3:31 pm
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The Amercian Chess Association was formed on this day in 1857 and held the first major chess tournament in the US. Thomas Edison showed his first motion picture in 1889. The first talkie, The Jazz Singer, premiered in 1927.

  1. The US House of Representatives voted 399-1 to crack down on spyware. The bill requires spyware companies to get customer permission before loading software on their machine, and prohibits browser hijackers, keystroke loggers, and sticky pop-up ads. Representatives vote today on another bill that mandates jail time for violators.
  2. AMD has announced dual core chips that the company says perform 125-140% faster than dual processor systems. AMD underclocks the chips to keep power consumption under 95 watts. Each 64-bit core contains a whopping 1MB of L2 cache but both share a single interface to RAM – a possible bottleneck. Expect the chips some time next year.
  3. The other shoe drops. After Steve Ballmer’s prediction on Monday that an IP-enabled set-top box would dominate the digital media market, Microsoft announced a new MSN TV on Tuesday, a – you guessed it – IP-enabled set-top box. The $200 box has no hard drive, but it does come with 128MB of RAM and 64MB of flash, Wi-Fi and ethernet connectivity, slots for camera flash cards. Users will have to pay a monthly fee to use it, however.
  4. Wikis are hot all of a sudden. A new Palo Alto startup, JotSpot, offers its Java-based wiki sites free for the first three months. It’s the brain child of two former founders of Excite. Another wiki provider, Socialtext, launched in August. Both received venture capital – looks like “social software” is the next buzz phrase. All I can say is that it sure beats Lotus Notes.
  5. XBox-Scene does it again. They’ve got Mac OS X running on an X-Box. Now that’s a hack.
  6. Suse 9.2 ships today with kernel 2.6, Evolution 2, and improved wireless support.
  7. Evan is quitting . The inventor of Blogger six years ago has announced he will leave the company, 20 months after its acquisition by Google.

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