Saturday, August 30, 2003

They're Jumping Out of Building One': "Under a court order, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey late today released roughly 1,800 pages of transcripts, covering about 260 hours of recorded telephone calls and radio transmissions made in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks."

Friday, August 29, 2003

Linux to make consumer electronics buzz: "Linux, the fast-growing and freely available operating system, is set to be the software of choice for future televisions, set-top boxes and DVD recorders, according to consumer electronics executives and specialists on Thursday."

Retail CEOs optimistic about fall, holiday sales

"Chief executives at retail companies say business conditions are the strongest they've seen in 12 months, and many are upbeat about the fall and holiday shopping season, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation."

[...]

"The survey, which was conducted from Aug. 15-25 in conjunction with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd., found that 40 percent of respondents felt that August sales have been even brisker than they were in July, when many chains posted surprising gains in the wake of new federal tax cuts."

And there are some who still think that tax cuts do not spur on the economy?

"Despite the positive signs, retailers also appear to be approaching the season conservatively from an operational standpoint. A third of respondents are entering the fall with fewer employees, and none said they were beefing up their ranks."

That's definitely not true at one retailer I know.

Nextel and Verizon Wireless Rank Highest in Customer Care Performance : "'It currently costs wireless providers between $300 and $425 to acquire each new customer, so the ability to retain existing subscribers is increasingly crucial in this industry,' said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates."

Verizon Wireless Expands Commercial Telemetry Offerings With Advanced AirLink Products

"Verizon Wireless ... and AirLink Communications, Inc. ... today announced the availability of three recognized products from AirLink [that] will expand the company's telemetry offerings."

[...]

"AirLink PinPoint CDMA is a rugged wireless modem with a GPS receiver, which provides a cost effective platform for mobile applications. Ideal for fleet management, PinPoint has been integrated with several third-party software packages, including public safety, ambulance, field service and transit arrival systems."

"Telemetry" is an anesthetic term for pinpointing an tracking movement. In other words, this announcement means it's getting easier and easier to track your every move! Eventually we'll be able to consider our cellphone our own little personal black box.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Hope Lifts Shares of Best Buy, RadioShack: "Shares of RadioShack, the No. 3 U.S. consumer electronics retailer and also the nation's top seller of cellular phones, surged more than 3 percent to a new 12-month high on the New York Stock Exchange."

[...]

William Baldwin, an analyst at Baldwin Anthony Securities said RadioShack had been "pretty optimistic about back to school, and a lot of people are now looking forward to an even much better holiday season."

"When it announced its second-quarter results on July 22, RadioShack had forecast a 'more pronounced' decline in home entertainment, wired communications, and radio communications products through the remainder of this year."

Survey: U.S. retail executives more optimistic

"U.S. retailing executives are feeling more optimistic that the sector is finally on the mend after months of disappointing sales, according to a survey released Wednesday."

[...]

"Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, so analysts and economists watch shopping trends closely. Spending held up relative well during the recent recession, but many retailers missed out as people bought big-ticket items such as cars instead of clothing."

Note the two myths subtlely dispelled: (a) B2B is not bigger than B2C commerce; (b) we are no longer in a recession.

DISH Network First to Offer Free Digital Video Recorder

Includes: • 30 Second Skip Forward during pre-recorded programming.
• UHF/Infrared remote control for operating the satellite receiver from a distance of up to 100 feet through walls and that is programmable for TV, VCR and other components. • On-screen locks for pay-per-view and adult channels, plus V-chip type technology for parental control based on channels, ratings or content.

Samsung Electronics Launches 100-Hour DIRECTV(R) DVR, Latest Addition to Full Line-Up of Set Top Boxes

"Samsung Electronics America, a leading developer and manufacturer of digital set top box products and services, today announced its entry into the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) category with its first DIRECTV® DVR with TiVo® recorder, the SIR-S4120R, capable of storing up to 100 hours of programming."

[...]

"With the NFL and college football seasons about to kickoff, Samsung's SIR-S4120R is the must-have product for the fall," offered Chris Cudina, Sales and Marketing Manager, Digital Set Top Box Group, Samsung.

[...]

"While recording is taking place, any show - even a live game - can be paused for an unexpected break for up to 30 minutes without missing any of the action. The rewind, instant replay and slow motion playback features put sports fans in the control room and the Dual TV tuners allow users to record two shows at the same time or watch one show while recording another."

[...]

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Review: Samsung SPH-i500 Palm OS Smartphone from Sprint PCS

"While smartphones are often relatively large devices, the i500 is remarkably small, light and pocketable. It's not much bigger than the popular and diminutive Motorola V60c (which is not a smartphone) and indeed may be more comfortable for those who find the Motorola too small. The i500 looks very professional, modern and attractive in person."

Young people and culture: the clichés die hard!

[...]

"[Y]oung people are sectarian. In France, advertising executives, journalists and politicians are very keen on the notion of 'territory.' New fashions are regularly identified and young people are classified into "tribes" according to their social background and their cultural habits."

[...]

"When it comes to cultural cross-fertilisation, Sandira is an amazing hybrid. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, this twenty year old left school early and has already been working in the Internet world for five years. She has already experienced five start-ups and is what is known as a 'web baby,' symbolic of this new generation born with a computer slung over one shoulder.

"For her, life is divided into two categories: the on-line world (what is in the computer) and the off-line world (everything outside, real life). For the moment, her only access to culture has been in the on-line world, or through a screen: flat screen, television screen, cinema screen ...Hers is the 'internaute' or web surfers’ tribe."

[...]

Cellphones will sport Wi-Fi, say industry execs

Panelists speaking yesterday at the annual Telecosm conference in Squaw Valley, California believe Wi-Fi prove to be a key technology integrated into future cellphones.

[...]

There's a benefit for data-based applications, such as video streaming, where the higher bandwidth offered by Wi-Fi could yield better playback quality, provided users find themselves in range of a hot-spot.

Such an idea does now appear to be attracting the interest of cellular network providers. "I've seen a market shift in my discussions with carriers in the last 18 months," said Intel president Paul Otellini. "They have moved from saying, 'heck no,' to seriously considering it."

[...]

"Basically, we are just waiting for the carriers to ask us to put it in the chip sets," said Qualcomm executive VP Paul Jacobs. "I think we'll see the demand for it eventually."

Mars Makes History: Closest to Earth Aug. 27

The two planets were separated by 34,646,418 miles at 5:51 a.m. ET on Aug. 27.

Hubble, which orbits Earth, will take advantage of the proximity by snapping two pictures of Mars for release Wednesday.

Mars rises in the southeast around sunset, your local time, shimmering like an orange star so bright it could momentarily be mistaken for an airliner on final approach. It outshines all other stars in the sky. Around 1 a.m. Mars is due south and high in the sky. It sets in the southwest at about sunrise.

Mars, though, is essentially the same brightness any night or early morning now through Sept. 2, and it will remain a delightful skywatcher's target into October.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report

Volume 1 (10MB PDF) has been released. The report can also be downloaded by chapter.

Pacific Image Electronics Launches First Value-Priced Film Scanner for Mini-Labs

"[W]ith an MSRP of just $999.99, the PF1800LAB represents an affordable way for mini-labs to provide film digitizing services to their customers."

[...]

"The IEEE 1394 interface permits rapid scanning of a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film within three minutes at 300 dpi."

[...]

"The PF1800LAB comes bundled with Photo Indexing software, adding the ability to print out a photo index contact sheet from a 36-exposure roll of 35mm film.

"With a 3.0 dynamic range and 30-bit color capability, the PF1800LAB displays over 10 million colors. The 1800 X 1800 dpi optical resolution produces a high quality scanned image of up to 8" x 10"."

[...]

Convergence will drive users to ditch standalone PDAs

"Research house IDC is warning PDA manufacturers that customers will soon start ditching their handhelds if they do not start offering voice functionality.

"The report from IDC said that over the coming years, consumers and businesses will begin to demand advanced handheld devices, such as PDAs and handheld PCs, with voice communication functions that allow users to make mobile phone calls.

"The movement in the market comes after the massive growth in recent years in demand for standalone data-focused handhelds, which in upcoming quarters will not be highly sought."

[...]

"However, not everyone agrees with this prognosis. Simon Buckingham the CEO of Mobile Streams, a UK-based consulting firm, said that there will be a market for all devices, including standalones. Buckingham admits that converged devices will grow in popularity, but predicted that the market will be no larger than the standalone market in five year's time.

"He also acknowledged that the pending merger between Palm and Handspring is evidence that Palm is looking to gain a stronger foothold in the converged sector, but Buckingham suggested that the company is likely to continue to push traditional Palm devices for the foreseeable future.

"I don't think any huge conclusions can be drawn about the industry at this stage," Buckingham said. "Our philosophy is, 'different devices for different people.' And don't forget there is a big installed based of people with Palms and other handhelds who may not want to switch. It's our position that there is a future for all devices."

DIRECTV to Air NFL on FOX Games in FOX WIDESCREEN; Exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET Package to Feature Games in 16:9 Digital Format

[...]

"The FOX WIDESCREEN(TM) system, which features 480 lines of resolution, enables viewers to enjoy a NFL broadcast with a sharp, clear picture that is one-third wider and four times sharper than traditional analog TV. DIRECTV's NFL SUNDAY TICKET(TM) customers will be able to view two NFL games in the FOX WIDESCREEN(TM) format every Sunday of the regular season."

[...]

To access FOX WIDESCREEN(TM) games, NFL SUNDAY TICKET(TM) customers may purchase a DIRECTV-enabled high-definition set-top receiver and a single 18 x 20- or 18 x 24-inch multi-satellite dish with three LNBs. DIRECTV-enabled HD receivers and triple-LNB satellite dishes are available from authorized DIRECTV retailers, such as Circuit City and Best Buy, nationwide.

[...]

Cell phones interfering with police radios, causing communication problems

"Denver Police say the growing number of cell phones is causing big problems for officers. They are having difficulty using their radios in some places because of interference from cell phone towers.

"At one point, there were 24 dead spots where officers could not reach dispatchers or hear calls from fellow officers.

"When officers near a cell phone transmitter and are far from their own tower, their radios are overpowered by the cell phone transmitters. Many of the spots are in high traffic areas, where officers need the radios most. In the dead zones, they cannot send out emergency signals when they are in trouble."

[...]

"No tragedies have occurred because of the interference, but it has affected police in several situations."

[...]

"Every Denver patrol car has a cell phone assigned to it, but in an emergency, the phones are not as reliable as a radio."

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a ham radio operator once about how radios are more reliable in times of crisis. I'm wondering if the amateur radio community has been affected by cell phone signals much yet. At the moment they seem more concerned about broadband over power lines than cell phones.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Decorating dorms is a big deal

"As the college crowd returns to campus in the next several weeks, retailers in Greater Cincinnati and across the country are hawking supplies for a critical prerequisite course: Dorm Decorating 101."

[...]

"The reasons for the growing focus on college students during the back-to-school selling season, which can extend through September, are underscored by the results of the National Retail Federation's first-ever report on the back-to-college market.

"The retail trade group's 2003 Back-to-College Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average consumer buying back-to-college merchandise would spend $665.86, pumping $25.8 billion into the economy.

"By comparison, back-to-school spending by schoolchildren ages 6-17 will total $14.1 billion.

"Simply put, college is where the big money is."

[...]

Dish Network giveaway puts pressure on TiVo

[...]

"The deal will last through January 2004. Existing customers can upgrade to the DVR receiver for $199, a Dish Network representative said."

[...]

"Dish Network's DVR service is included in its subscription fee."

[...]

"The free box -- valued at $300 -- contains a hard drive that can store about 100 hours of recorded television programming. It and the lack of an additional service fee is expected to put pressure on TiVo as it seeks to attain 1 million subscriptions."

Monday, August 25, 2003

RealNetworks debuts wireless subscription service for Sprint PCS

"RealNetworks on Monday [8/11] unveiled RealOne for Sprint PCS, its first streaming media service to wireless phones, in the company's latest move to boost its subscription revenue.

"The move marks the first time a branded, audio and slide-show service with major content brands has been launched on a big U.S. wireless carrier, RealNetworks said."

FCC to decide if phone numbers can move from land to wireless

"Taking any phone number with you wherever you move is a new twist to the number portability rules being scrutinized by federal regulators."

[...]

"Most of the wireless industry has focused on what will happen once customers can take their numbers with them when moving from one cell phone provider to another.

"But the question of moving numbers from traditional wired service to wireless falls into a gray area that awaits clarification that FCC officials say will be given before the Nov. 24 portability deadline."

[...]

"The FCC is weighing the arguments and will provide industry guidance before Nov. 24, said John Muleta, chief of the FCC's wireless bureau."

This could absolutely turn the telecom industry upside down. As in, no more area codes and probably thus long distance charges.

DISH Network Offers ESPN GamePlan College Football Package

Sunday, August 24, 2003

ZDNet UK - News - BT loses hyperlink patent case: "BT has lost its lawsuit against Prodigy, in which it claimed that the entire Internet infringed on its 'hyperlink patent'. If BT had won, every ISP could have been forced to pay royalties."

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Aggregators Attack Info Overload: "Maniacally wired netizens who read a hundred blogs a day and just as many news sources are turning to a new breed of software, called newsreaders or aggregators, to help them manage information overload.

"Many now say that their news aggregator is as indispensable as their e-mail client."

[...]