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Comment: What TiVo needs... (Score 1) 178

by alanh (#44042787) Attached to: TiVo Series 5 Coming This Fall

What TiVo really needs is competition. They have their patent on time-shifting, and sue anyone who comes out with a decent alternative. The lack of competition have kept them from having incentive to innovate. I have a Series3, and while it's better than the cable-company alternative, it's still unimpressive. The subsequent Series4/XL models still have a slow interface and STILL haven't managed to go fully HD. Since there's no competition, they overcharge for remotes, Wifi, and even the boxes themselves. I predict that DVRs will be vastly better starting in 2018 when their main patent expires but by then will there really be a need for anything other than VoD?

TiVo is also, to some extent, hamstrung by the cable industry. TWC sets the copy-protect bit on everything that's not broadcast TV. I can't download any programs aside from the few that came on the local broadcast channels. Also, the annoyance of needing an installer to put in cable cards makes it quite annoying to even go through the initial setup.

Comment: Random bag + an insert or two.... (Score 1) 282

by alanh (#37098338) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Laptop + DSLR Backpacks

My solution to this was to use a generic looking messenger bag that had a padded computer insert, and add an inexpensive camera/lens insert for around $20-25.

For example:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/509016-REG/Tenba_638_251_Pro_Digital_2_0_Photo.html

That way, I can customize the bag for whatever I need to carry and save weight when needed. Let's say I'm going to a conference for work and sightseeing a few days afterwards. For the trip out, I put both inserts in the bag. When I'm at the conference, I take the camera insert out and keep the computer insert in. When I'm sightseeing, I do the reverse (camera in, computer out).

You could probably do this with a backpack instead of a messenger bag too. Plus, having a non-dedicated bag won't advertise "I have an expensive computer" or "I'm carrying an expensive camera" as much as dedicated bag would.

Comment: Where, IMO OLPC got lost... (Score 1) 160

by alanh (#34805240) Attached to: OLPC Halves Power Consumption For XO 1.75

I have a G1G1 OLPC 1.0 that we bought in a fit of enthusiasm back when they first came out. These days, it sits untouched.

The greatest highlight on the device was the great screen. I certainly hope Pixel Qi finally starts shipping in volume at a reasonable price. The eReader mode looks great, and I'm sure they've improved in the intervening time. The tough, splashproof hardware was nice too.

Unfortunately, lowlights abounded: It was incredibly slow. It took forever to boot and applications starting took way too long to start. The keyboard was atrocious (even kids are better with a full-sized keyboard). The touchpad was wonky. The software only made sense if you were with a whole classroom full of other OLPCs (at the university I work at, we had a couple of get-togethers, and we managed to do a little bit of the "sharing" stuff with it). It was cool when it worked, but hard to get to work. Documentation wasn't great and even with a collaborative effort by 10 or so IT folks, we couldn't get things to work consistently.

Even with the enthusiasm most of us had for the idea, it was hard to get enthusiastic about developing for it as you couldn't do much out of the box and those of us with the expertise to program found it uncomfortable to work on. Yeah, you could plug in a keyboard an mouse, but still, it wasn't a great experience.

I also tried a few of the alternate faster-booting linux variants on it, and those improved the software, but the keyboard/touchpad still made it unpleasant to work on.

I know, I know. This thing is way beyond what a kid in abject poverty in a developing nation would have otherwise, but if people with expertise in computers can't get it to work and find it uncomfortable to work on, how would the expect to get developers to work on it?

Then the later issues with Classmate competition, XP, management, delivery, etc all compounded apon the initial hardware design issues....

I thought it was a great project, but not so much that I actually wanted to use the device after I got one. I tried for a long while...

Comment: Re:Get a Cheap Used Palm Tungsten C (Score 1) 426

by alanh (#27124017) Attached to: Best Wi-Fi Portable Browsing Device?

If you go this route, find a download for the old IBM Java MIDP and install Opera Mini. Blazer is an awful web browser. I used a T|X for a while and now own a PalmOS Treo. Opera Mini improves things greatly.

That said, I also own an iPod Touch and it is leaps and bounds better than either Blazer or Opera Mini.

Of course you can't flap your arms and fly to the moon. After a while you'd run out of air to push against.

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