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Archive for September, 2006

Dell beats Apple at Industrial Design

Posted in Tech Industry, User Experience on September 30th, 2006 by leodirac – 2 Comments

Apple is generally known as the ultimate masters of industrial design. Sure, they’re pretty good at marketing and pretty good at designing simple, intuitive user experiences that satisfy 90% of customers’ needs. But the thing they really do well is package their products to make them sleek and beautiful. I have to say that the magsafe power plugs are really cool. But the way you have to wrap the power cords around the main transformer unit (undoubtedly actually a switching power supply with hardly an inductor to be found anywhere) is pretty weak. Those fold out clippy things are flimsy…

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MP3 Phones? Gadget convergence vs. single-purpose devices

Posted in Gadgets, Music, Tech Industry, Technology, User Experience on September 26th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Are we moving towards a world where all our pocket-dwellers merge into one device? We’ve finally seen the PDA merge with the cell phone, I think for good. They all have cameras now, but the cameras are mostly horrible and never better then mediocre. The question of the season is “What about mp3 players?” Surely they should merge into the phone too, right? Because nobody wants to carry a phone and a separate mp3 player, right? Actually, I do. When thinking about gadget convergence, physics imposes some intrinsic limits. For example, optics on a camera — right now you need…

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Chumby: How to define a new market segment

Posted in Business, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Technology, User Experience on September 26th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

I finally got my Chumby running. It’s sitting happily between my couches in my living room showing me pictures, telling me the news and occassionaly insulting me in middle english. It’s very cute. Chumby is a really neat idea — a fun hackable platform for small information appliances. It’s embedded linux running a flash viewer. It’s got wifi network access and a really pretty touch-screen for UI. The designers encourage hacking of both the software and the hardware — I’ve seen chumby-units sown into all sorts of pillows and stuffed animals. The bread and butter of customization is writing custom…

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RealTime: The Newest RSS Reader on the Block

Posted in Software Engineering on September 26th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on RealTime: The Newest RSS Reader on the Block

“Be the first to know.” “The feed reader your mom can understand.” Whatever tag line you want to hang on it, RealTime has launched and it’s pretty cool. It’s a web-based feed reader with an integrated browser/desktop toolbar and screensaver. My good friend Mason has been dedicating his life to this product for a while, and it shows. It’s slick and pretty and is built on some pretty darned cool technology. The toolbar is a win32 shell hosting MSHTML frames (which probably still has a few lines of code in it that I wrote way back in the day) with…

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I fell off the wagon…

Posted in Personal Growth on September 23rd, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on I fell off the wagon…

They got me. It’s 6 AM and I only had half a can. Rat bastards.

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Starbucks: Corporate dope pushers

Posted in Business, Investing, Personal Growth, Societal Values on September 22nd, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Starbucks: Corporate dope pushers

This afternoon in my office’s cafeteria I found a new refridgerator stocked with tasty beverages. Starbucks Iced Coffee in a can. And guess what: it’s free. For now, at least. Want some candy little boy? C’mon, try it. I remember a couple of years ago seeing them giving away cans of their then-new double-shot canned caffeine high downtown on the sidewalk. They’ll get you hooked and then you come back begging for more, $5 in hand. Sound like any other industry we know? Many years ago I remember a friend of mine saying she was investing in Starbucks because she…

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80% chance of rain in Seattle

Posted in Geography, Humor, Seattle on September 20th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

The forecast today calls for an 80% chance of rain. Traditionally this means that 80% of the time it will rain, but that there’s a 20% chance it won’t rain at all. Here in Seattle we interpret those numbers a little differently. In Seattle, when the forecast says 80% chance of rain that means if you ask a random sampling of 100 people on the street “is it raining right now?” 80 of them will say “yeah, it’s raining” and 20 of them will say “no, this isn’t rain.” For those of you who haven’t ever been in Seattle in…

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Great internet radio at

Posted in Music on September 19th, 2006 by leodirac – 1 Comment

When I want to listen to a specific piece of music, I load up Rhapsody, find what I want and play it. But when I just want some music on, I generally turn on They have about a dozen streaming radio stations each with distinct styles and fabulous taste. They stream in a variety of formats and bitrates offering a wide range of compatibility. Groove Salad and Secret Agent are my faves, and each have 1-button shortcuts on my media computer. If you want nice chill music to entertain you without having to babysit playlists, try out Soma.

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Decibel Festival Panel

Posted in Ego, Music on September 18th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on Decibel Festival Panel

I’d like to send props out to everybody at the Decibel Festival for a great weekend. The music I got to listen to was great, and I hear that the seminars on creating electronic music were also really instructive. I’d especially like to thank to Dean Carlson for putting together a great panel discussion. It was a great mix of artists, people from terrestrial radio, print publication, music labels, and music technology. I found the discussion quite thought provoking, and plan on posting about several of the ideas that we discussed in the panel. Thanks, everybody! I look forward to…

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The end of a 3 volcano summer

Posted in Climbing, Ego on September 18th, 2006 by leodirac – Comments Off on The end of a 3 volcano summer

Yesterday I summited Mt. St. Helens with some good friends. Due to a tragic ipod accident, we had but a single song to listen to for the entire drive down and the hike — the DRM licenses files all blew up, so the only thing I had left was the one song I had in mp3 format to ensure it survived for Corrie and Mason’s wedding dance. I’m glad it was a song about timelessness and repetition, because I think having a hiking anthem about novelty playing on repeat for hours would have been a jarring. If you’re looking for…

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