Google Earth

I saw on SlashDot that Google had made it's earth viewer free.

So I downloaded it.

Luckily I guess, I got in there before the crowd, because now they have restricted access to it, due to popular demand. I imagine it consumes much bandwidth.

The URL to grab it is http://earth.google.com.

Some buddies were over last night and we went flying all around the world. "Let's see the Sphinx!" (Not really visible, but the pyramids nearby are.) "Let's see the Eiffel Tower!" We visited places we used to live, and currently live. We went to China, Baghdad, New York.

It's really amazing. Finally something like "flying cars" that was predicted a long time ago has come true! An Earth viewer!

Here's a picture of the Grand Canyon as seen through Google Earth (click for bigger image):

Google Earth view of the Grand Canyon

This is where I went to high school: Corona del Mar High School. We lived across the street from it, which was nice, for a kid that had trouble getting up in the morning. I got up about five minutes before school started and ran over there. I must admit, from this view, that a great deal of real estate at my old high school was dedicated to sports (the pool, tennis courts, track, baseball fields, general use fields, etc.).

Google Earth view of Corona del Mar High School in California

I can't wait for SolarSystem.Google.com.

© Text 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Too Many Icons

I have too many icons in my system tray:

Too Many Icons in my System Tray

(Can you name what they all represent?)

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.

The Onion | America's Finest News Source�

The Onion | America's Finest News Source:
"Dead iPod Remembered As Expensive

VENTURA, CA�A third-generation, 30-GB iPod, serial number AP356372, died early Monday morning at age 2. 'I'll never forget all the great music it used to play during my workouts,' said the late iPod's owner Sarah Zartman at a brief memorial held over the junk drawer. 'It was convenient, portable, and really pricey�almost $500.' Zartman said that, had she known the iPod's lithium-ion battery would have such a short lifespan, she might have spent more time listening to it. AP356372 is survived by a BlackBerry."

Visit The Onion! It's funny!

Theft by any other name | Perspectives | CNET News.com

Theft by any other name | Perspectives | CNET News.com:
"'We hold that one who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, as shown by clear expression or other affirmative steps taken to foster infringement, is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties,' Souter said. "

So ... by analogy, if you make guns and tell people to shoot each other, then you're probably in trouble. But if you make guns and promote them for peaceful use (I guess hunting and self-defense and entertainment) then you're okay.

So if you make software and promote its use for stealing copyrighted material, you're in trouble, but if you make software the allows the free sharing of copyrighted material but don't promote that use, then you're okay.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved


Technology News: Hardware : Microsoft, Toshiba To Jointly Develop HD DVD Players

Technology News: Hardware : Microsoft, Toshiba To Jointly Develop HD DVD Players:
"Microsoft and Toshiba said they have agreed to jointly develop HD DVD players, giving the Japanese computer and consumer electronics maker a powerful new ally in its battle with Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial (NYSE: MC) over technology standards for next-generation audio and visual products."

Sounds like a move by Microsoft to become the standard software provider for HD DVD players. Since the next generation DVD players are likely to be more complicated than the current generation, which have limited interactivity, having a standard platform would be useful, and also a huge win for Microsoft.



I managed to spend 2,262 minutes on my cell phone last month.

Holy Crap! (As the Mormon's say: 'Holy Crap' is the official Mormon swear phrase. No wait, that's not it. It's "Bull Crap". Sorry. Never mind.)

Anyway, that's a lot of minutes! Luckily 1,211 of them were free because they were 'in network'. And I get 850 a month, so that just left, uh, 204 minutes that came out of my Rollover minutes stash.

It would have been higher, but some of us switched to Skype half way through the month.

So, really, that amount of communication was pretty cheap.

The Skype experience was cool. We had a 'virtual office' going where three of us were on the phone via Skype, using our PCs and headsets. You could hear the ambient sounds from the other persons' office, so it felt like I was in one big shared office. It was pretty cool. When my cable modem crapped out, it got suddenly very quiet, and I felt the virtual office disappear.

My cable modem used to be rock solid when Comcast was at 3 megabits, but now at 4 megabits it craps out a couple of times a day. I bought a new cable modem that resets 5x faster than the old one, which makes it much less painful. Some connections (like remote desktop) persist through the outage and come back to life automatically, which is awesome!

It's pretty fun stuff, even when it doesn't quite work right.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.

Variety.com - War of the windows

Variety.com - War of the windows:
"Last year, studios waited an average of four months and 16 days to release theatrical pics on DVD. But the window is getting shorter and shorter; one studio chief predicts it could dwindle just two months, or even fewer for box-office flops.

If the window keeps shrinking, it could rattle the foundations of the film bizbiz.

With 2005 box-office receipts trailing last year's, and consumer electronics companies making rapid inroads into the nation's home-viewing habits, there are rumblings among distribs that the traditional strategies for theatrical distribution, DVD and even PPVPPV are no longer working."


Investing - Gates and Ozzie: How to Escape E-Mail Hell - FORTUNE - Page 2

Investing - Gates and Ozzie: How to Escape E-Mail Hell - FORTUNE - Page 2:
"Bill, you have been nailed in court through e-mail that was found in legal discovery. Has that changed the way you use it?

Gates: No. I live the examined life. Basically every e-mail that I've ever sent has been looked at by something like 30 or 40 lawyers to see if there's any way it can be misconstrued. I don't put any notes at the bottom where I say, 'Note to lawyer: When I say 'Beat the competition,' I mean in the nice friendly way we always do.' [laughter] So look, the idea that everything you're doing can be examined - there's nothing really wrong with that. Voicemail is like that too. People just should get used to the idea that there's going to be some visibility for things. I don't think we're all going to just go down to the local pay phone or something."


Warner Music Group saved by Digital Downloads

MSN Money - Financial Times Business News: Digital music pushes listed Warner into profit:
"Warner Music Group on Monday moved into profitability in its first quarter as a public company, reporting $4m in net income for the second quarter after suffering a $48m loss the same period a year earlier."


World Peace and the Weekly Enema

We visited the Engineering Open House at UW.

While tooling around the campus I noticed these two signs, one above the other (click for full picture):

World Peace and the Weekly Enema

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


GamesIndustry.biz - Hopes for unified next-gen DVD standard dashed as talks stall

GamesIndustry.biz - Hopes for unified next-gen DVD standard dashed as talks stall:
"Talks between electronics giants Sony and Toshiba aimed at agreeing on a unified next-generation disc format have collapsed, meaning that the incompatible Blu-Ray and HD-DVD formats will both probably make it to market."

I hope Microsoft has a backup plan to ship HD-DVD in Xbox 360 this Christmas. If both formats are going to ship this year, then it should be possible.

Balmer was saying "we'll offer an upgrade", but that would be a nightmare all around.

Much better to start out with an HD-DVD player.

The Great Flood Killed the Dinosaurs

theferrett: The Weirdest Book I Ever Got

Very Merry

I worked at Disneyland for a year during college. I had a great job - working on the Rivers of America on the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes. No, they are not on a track, and if you don't paddle, they don't go. Well, they do go, because the two employees (excuse, me I mean, Cast Members) assigned to dragging your fat ass around the river do all the work. I was very fit that summer.

Anyway, this guy name Kerry, who had been around a few years, had a name tag that said Harry. I said to him, without thinking, "Hey, I get it, Hari Kari," and he, being a supreme snot, said, "You're a real rocket scientist, you just figured that out, huh?"

Well, this annoyed me quite a bit. As it was, we were both on Canoes, and so each time around the river, I would make it a point to drive up next to his Canoe, and say something new each time around the river...

First, I said, "You're a pretty funny guy. I bet people call you Merry Harry Kerry."

Next trip, I said, "You're really funny. I bet people call you Very Merry Harry Kerry."

Next trip, I said, "If you were gay, you would be Very Merry Harry Kerry the Fairy."

Next trip, I said, "If your boyfriend was Larry, you'd be Very Merry Harry Kerry the Fairy who is with Larry."

I think it was about at this point that my point was made and we started splashing each other out of spite. I think there was collateral damage - guests getting wet too. Well, it was a hot summer, so cooling off with disgusting Rivers of America water was a special service we could provide to ourselves and the innocent guests.

I remember, way back then, that they hadn't cleaned the big pond which is the Rivers of America for about 15 years. It was pretty disgusting. I think they drain and clean it every five years now (otherwise underwater Fantasmic parts might get too dirty and stop working).

Which brings me to another point - what two words go together to make Fantasmic?

Could they be ... Fantasy and Orgasmic?

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Amazon Goes Dark

Amazon Goes Dark:
"AlertSite Godskind pointed out that the 41-minute glitch reduced the company's total availability for the month -- assuming 100 percent possible uptime -- by more than .1 percent. 'If Amazon.com has a 41-minute outage during the lunch hour, it probably left impressions on a million people,' he said.

It likely left an impression on earnings, as well. Amazon.com net sales for its first fiscal quarter, ending March 31, 2005, were $1.90 billion. With 90 days in the quarter, and 2,160 minutes, the e-commerce giant raked in roughly $8.8 million an hour."

Microsoft negotiating to give people WMA formatted versions of iTunes purchases

Microsoft planning music subscription service | CNET News.com:
"The tentative features of the new service--which is still under development--include advanced community aspects and playlist-sharing. But sources say Microsoft is also considering a more direct attack on Apple, seeking rights from copyright holders to give subscribers a new, Microsoft-formatted version of any song they've purchased from the iTunes store so those songs can be played on devices other than an iPod. "

Very clever.


Direct Song!

The Direct Song store is now open for business!

The first product is the Guild Wars Special Edition Soundtrack by Jeremy Soule. It's only $5.99 for 67 minutes of music!

Go buy it! It costs about the same as eating lunch out! But it's better and lasts longer!


I love pair.com. I host my main site there.

Every so often, they send out an email where they spontaneously increase the value of your hosting plan. Obviously computers, disk space, and bandwidth continue to drop in cost. Instead of being really opaque about it, they just pass on the savings to me!

Disk Space Bandwidth Mailboxes FTP Logins
2000 MB 40 GB 150 8

I think when I started my disk space allocation was 200 megabytes. Now it is 2 gigabytes!

Very nice.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Blogger: Blogger Mobile

Blogger: Blogger Mobile:


When you send text or photos from your mobile device to go@blogger.com they're automatically posted to your new blog page. Enter your claim token to access more options."

MSN - Music - debug your DRM

MSN - Music

A handy site (with some kind of troubleshooting tool) in case you have trouble with Microsoft DRM.

Goofs for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Goofs for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977):
"Errors in geography: One of the Air Traffic Controllers at the Indianapolis Center asks the Air Force if they have any tests going on in Restricted area 2508. R-2508 is in California and Nevada. It would be controlled out of Los Angeles Center."

People are amazing.


Seattle Tops List for Wireless Web Access - New York Times

Seattle Tops List for Wireless Web Access - New York Times:
"SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Seattle and San Francisco are the most ''unwired cities'' in America -- top spots for computer junkies who send e-mail and surf the Web at restaurants, libraries or public plazas.

Metropolitan Seattle percolated past the San Francisco Bay area this year thanks to an abundance of Starbucks Corp. outlets, which have wireless ''hot spots'' where patrons linger over latte and laptops, according to Intel Corp.'s annual ranking. Seattle also benefited from wireless access at its Pike Place Market and the Space Needle."

Go Seattle!


CVS launches disposable digital camcorder in U.S. - Yahoo! News

CVS launches disposable digital camcorder in U.S. - Yahoo! News:
"NEW YORK (Reuters) - CVS Corp. (NYSE:CVS - news) on Monday begun selling a disposable digital camcorder which the No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain hopes would boost its photo lab business and be as popular as the single-use film and digital cameras.


The $29.99 pocket-sized camcorder was developed by Pure Digital Technologies Inc., a San Francisco-based start-up company."

That's amazing! To get your video out, you return it to the store, where they burn a DVD for you for $12.95. They keep and recycle the camcorder (i.e., sell or more like 'rent' it to someone else).

Dumb Money - The madness of movie advertising. By Edward Jay�Epstein

Dumb Money - The madness of movie advertising. By Edward Jay Epstein:
"Consider the perverse logic of Hollywood: In 2003, the six major studios - Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Paramount - spent, on average, $34.8 million to advertise a movie and earned, on average, just $20.6 million per title. Even if the studios had made the movies for free - which, of course, they didn't- they would have lost $14.2 million per film on the theatrical run, or what the industry calls 'current production.' Given the fleeting attention span of the target audiences (mainly TV-watching teens) and the unmemorable nature of the ad copy, the studios believe they must show the same ad on the same programs at least eight times in order to draw an audience. As a result, the studios spend more to lure a teenager into a theater than they receive at the box office, which is reminiscent of the joke about the idiot in the garment business who 'loses money on every sale but makes it up on volume.' "



Yourmusic.com: the Music Club Revisited - The Digital Music Weblog - digitalmusic.weblogsinc.com _:
"The site is the front end of a new type of music club: sort of a cross between Book of the Month and Netflix. Every CD in Yourmusic.com costs $5.99; no exceptions. The BMG catalog seems decent on first go-through, considering the price. This is a subscription service; your credit card is billed for one CD ($5.99) every month, and you control a queue (like Netfolix) that determines which CD you get automatically. That alone is a huge improvement over traditional book and music clubs, which make the selection for you, and force you to return undesired products. Once subscribed, you can buy unlimited additional CDs at the same price. If this thing gets traction it�ll drive music retailers crazy (it reportedly already is to some extent), as the CDs are sold below cost. "


New-gen wireless technology could shake up cell-phone services

New-gen wireless technology could shake up cell-phone services:
"A new generation of wireless technology could shake up cell-phone services."

One can only hope.

Personal Technology / Walter S. Mossberg: Wireless carriers set agenda for phone technologies

Personal Technology / Walter S. Mossberg: Wireless carriers set agenda for phone technologies:
"At last month's D: All Things Digital technology conference, which I co-produce for The Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said he was wary of producing an Apple cellphone because, instead of selling it directly to the public, he would have to offer it through what he called the 'four orifices' -- the four big U.S. cellphone carriers.

Cellphone carriers say one reason they keep tight control over what phones run on their networks is to protect the networks from harm and assure service quality for their subscribers.

But we've heard that before, and it wasn't true then. Until the 1970s, when the government forced open the market, the old AT&T phone monopoly refused to let consumers buy phones and plug them into their home phone lines. You could only rent phones, and they had to be models made by an AT&T subsidiary. AT&T said the restriction protected the quality of the wired phone network. But, lo and behold, when the ban was lifted the phone network was just fine, even though consumers were plugging in millions of less expensive, more innovative phones."

*Sigh*. Everyone wants a cell phone, but everyone hates their cell phone provider.


Unreal Kismet - Great Idea!

Mark Rein On Next-Gen, Rising Costs, and More:
"And they do take time, but our kind of secret weapon that I like to call the 'antidote to budget bloat' is this Unreal Kismet that Alan's going to demonstrate here at the NVIDIA booth in about 15 minutes. Unreal Kismet is a visual scripting system and it puts all the programming power in the hands of the designers, whether they've ever programmed or not - visually, almost like putting together flow charts. "

I'm pleased to say the Elemental (Adrenium) Engine did this five years ago.