Google 2004 Zeitgeist

Anyone else out there find the 2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist to be a total yawner?


Which BT headset?

Increasingly, I am finding that it would be easier to have a Bluetooth headset for use with my Sony Ericsson T616. I’m currently leaning toward either the Motorola HS810, or the Sony Ericsson HBH-65. My wife uses the latter, and is happy with it. I would appreciate comments from BT headset users out there. (Get over the TypeKey registration, already. My comment spam has already dropped to nil.) I have yet to find overly negative reviews of either headset online, so unbiased comments from users are extremely valuable.


New toy

Santa was very good to the Retrophisch™ this year. By way of Missus Phisch, the jolly old elf delivered a Canon PowerShot S500 Digital Elph, an extra Maxell battery for the new camera, and a Lowepro Rezo 20 belt case. The Rezo holds the camera, the extra battery, and an extra Compact Flash card perfectly.
We had Christmas dinner at the home of some close friends, and below is the second of the first two shots taken with the S500. Yes, it’s the little phisch, playing with their dog, Sam, and a toy lightsaber he discovered under the couch.

Davis having fun, Christmas 2004

I have had my eye on the S500 for quite some time. While I love my PowerShot G3, I have longed for a compact point-and-shoot digital that I could easily carry anywhere and everywhere, and now I have it!


Retrophisch™ on the Eddys

Taking a cue from Michael, I’d thought I’d look at the 2004 Macworld Editors Choice Awards to see how they fit in my hardware and software toolbelt:
+ GarageBand 1.1 – I used it once. It needs more oomph than my 1 GHz PowerBook can provide.
+ BBEdit 8.0 – as with Michael, I use it every day
+ Toast – has saved the bacon more than once, and again, as Michael says, nothing else can touch it
+ Snapz Pro X 2.0 – still using the last 1.x version, and I rarely take screen shots
That’s about it as far as the items I have actual experience with. That said, a few comments on others that made the list:
+ Photoshop Elements 3 – I could maybe get excited about Elements if (a) I didn’t already have Photoshop, and (b) it offered photo organization and competed against iPhoto (which I do not use for photo organization)
+ FileMaker Pro 7 – I want to like it, really I do, but I feel 4D still outmatches it; granted, I haven’t played with either in three years, so I’m just going off what I read and hear from people I trust
+ Halo: Combat Evolved – like many Mac users, I was looking forward to Halo, until Bungie was bought by Microsoft and the entire project was lost for three years while the Evil Empire ripped off Sony and Nintendo created the Xbox; I’m not sure my PowerBook’s 32MB of video RAM would do it justice, and the Cube’s processor won’t even touch it. Plus, it’s still fifty bucks.
+ QuarkXPress 6.5 – not that they will ever tell us, but I’m curious to know how much market share Quark has lost to InDesign. Not only because Quark’s customer service feeds on the bottom of the scum pond, but also because it took them a couple of years to come out with a native OS X version. I personally know of more than one shop that has made the conversion to InDesign, and plans to never return.
+ OmniWeb 5.0.1 – I want to like OmniWeb, really I do; I download every beta and play around with it, but always return to Safari and Camino. I’m addicted to tabs and Safari’s bookmark implementation.


On Amazon’s search engine

I have come to the conclusion–and many of you may be wondering what took me so long–that Amazon’s search engine could be vastly improved. Viz: I enter “Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” in the search field, with the pull-down menu set to Books. In the first page of results, nada. By inserting “The” at the beginning of the search phrase, the book pops up as the number one item returned. One would think that the search phrase I originally entered would have been enough.
Likewise, I entered “Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World” in the search field, again with Books selected in the pull-down menu, and again, got nothing returned in the first page of results. I entered the author’s name, “Wesley J. Smith,” and his tome appears as the first search result. Only it has a capital “A” in the title. Again, the original search phrase should have been enough for Amazon’s search engine to figure out what I wanted.


Mid-range Mac comparison

Ric Ford found some surprising results in a mid-range Macintosh face-off with today’s Performance Comparison: eMac G4, iBook G4 and iMac G5.


Having a blast with BlastApp

Ever have one of those moments where something gives a swift kick to your memory box and you suddenly rediscover an old joy? Such it was this evening as I’ve spent the past hour playing BlastApp, the OS X version of the NeXT classic helicopter game. You’ll need the Developer Tools installed to have access to the game.


War hath been declared

So some of you may have noticed the site was down earlier this evening for about an hour. My sysadmin pulled the plug, so to speak, because those scum of the ‘net were hammering our server so badly, Apache may as well have been under a true DoS attack. I am referring, of course, to comment spammers.
So, henceforth, we’re going to try comment registration. It’s free, doesn’t cost you anything but a few moments of time over at TypeKey. With your TypeKey login, you can comment on any site that supports the protocol. (Nearly all of these will be those that use Movable Type or TypePad.) I’m sorry it’s come to this, but as with most things, a few bad apples ruin the whole barrel.


iPod flash

Engadget notes’s report on the supposedly forthcoming iPod flash, a tiny, flash memory-based MP3 player that will round out Apple’s music player line-up. Several things don’t jibe with the picture of the supposed iPod flash:
1. When the iPod mini was released, Steve Jobs did quite a bit of trash-talking with regard to the myriad flash-based players already on the market, did he not? Why would Apple now want to wade in to that market, when they can barely keep up with demand for the iPod mini, the company’s flash player killer?
2. Okay, let’s say Steve does an about face and wants Apple to compete in the flash-based market. I don’t see this design being it. It lacks visual feedback, and that has been the iPod’s strong suit, coupled with the physical controls’ ease of navigation, when compared to its competitors.
3. The overall design doesn’t flow with the rest of the iPod line, plain and simple. I could be drastically wrong, and if this design is real and released, it would signal a sort of departure from the iPod line.
Personally, I’m not opposed to a flash-based iPod. Such a device would be perfect for my wife, who only has need for such an audio component in rare circumstances, such as when working out. Even the iPod mini is really overkill for her needs. I just don’t believe that TheMacMind’s version is the real deal. At the least, I hope it isn’t.
[Wave of the flipper to Michael.]


Gear Lust and Loathing 2005

This time of year, everyone and their editor is churning out some sort of gadget list for their December issue. I have decided to share my comments on some of the items mentioned within the December issue of Wired, now on newsstands and in subscribers’ mail boxes, as well as Popular Mechanics. Since Wired wants to give its dead-tree edition a chance to turn a profit, the magazine being a business and all, it delays putting portions of the hard copy on its site for a few days, and the Wired Tools list is one of those delayed articles. This will in no way stop me from said comments.
The Philips LCD TV, “with Ambilight technology,” is intriguing, but even if I had the funds, the layout of my living room–or pretty much any other room, given the furniture we have–precludes my ever having a screen this large. Not to mention that the decades-old-design tube inside my flat-screen Sony 32-inch Vega gives a better picture than a plasma or LCD television. I’m still trying to think of why one would really want the Casio XFER-1000 Wireless Television. Sure, it’s “splash-proof” and floats on the water, but when I’m in the spa, I’m generally trying to do something other than watch television, as in, relax and not think about television–or much else.
I can see where Steve Jobs might be wrong on the whole no-video-iPod thing, with regard to Creative’s Zen Portable Media Center, but only with regard to a certain segment of users. A segment I am not sure is large enough to sustain such a market. If you are stuck on some sort of public transportation for half an hour or more each day, one way, then I can see having a Zen PMC. It would certainly be better to have the Zen snatched from you on the subway, rather than your iBook playing back the better-quality DVD of the same movie. Though at $500, I’m not sure if it would be worth it to have the Zen snatched, either. The Zen also appeals to a certain segment of power user who doesn’t mind ripping movies from DVDs or other digital sources, such as a TiVo, but I do not believe that devices like the Zen will have the same widespread appeal as the iPod, which is clearly what Creative is hoping for. Of course, if you simply cannot wait for a video iPod, you can at least look like you have one with AMA Technologies’ DVX-POD.
Why in the world would I want to spend $1,200 on the Samsung DVDL 1200 II portable DVD player when my 12-inch PowerBook has the same screen size, just as good battery life, and oh, in addition to being a fully-functional notebook computer, also plays DVD movies? Why would anyone want to spend $1,200 on a portable DVD player? Because they don’t know any better?
I do like Ace Karaoke’s K-Box, but since its 120 GB hard drive can only hold 12 DVD movies, you’re better off spending your $800 on one of those 100-disc CD/DVD changers and hooking that in to your home entertainment system.
If you’re the ultimate Star Wars geek and want to have speakers that look like they came out of Vader’s summer condo, you can spring three hundred smackers on Solid Acoustics’ Mini Speakers.
There is a part of me that wants to buy Damien a set of Pedestrian Turn Signals for his jaunts around NYC. I like the idea of the Energizer Quick Switch flashlight; slap in any kind of batteries you want, get the same brightness from the bulb. If you’re in the mood to depress yourself with regard to your personal finances, by all means pick up Discovery’s Amazing Money Jar. Right now, with a toddler running rampant, the LEGO Block-O-Dile might be a great way to get him to help pick up his blocks. And speaking of little ones, don’t worry about jagged edges the next time you open up a can of fruit cocktail for dessert, so long as you’re using OXO’s Smooth Edge Can Opener.
The D-Skin: are you freaking kidding?
I can see keeping bunches of the Pak-Lite LED Flashlight around the house, in the car, in my backpack… Pak-Lite should consider partnering up with one of the battery big boys and do a mass donation to our troops fighting overseas. This is just the type of utilitarian device the uniformed personnel would dig, and it beats the luggable issue flashlight on weight, packability, and quite possibly personal illumination.
If you absolutely must have your coffee stay hot, or your soda stay cold, throughout your entire commute, then get an Auto Can Cooler. Good luck with finding a place in the car for it.
I still want a keychain Wi-Fi sniffer of some sort. Not that I usually go any where were I’m actively seeking hot spots out, though the recent vacation to Arkansas was certainly high-speed-net-access unfriendly. Also on the keychain could reside the Iomega Micro Mini 1 GB drive. This little USB wonder is a third of an ounce in weight. Is the Kensington Microsaver Retractable Lock as easy to pick with a Bic pen as the rest of the Kensington lock line?
My wife is ready for a new Crackberry, and we’re eyeing the Blackberry 7100. It would be nice if there were a 7100c that would run on Cingular’s network; my wife could move her mobile number over to the 7100 and be done. Seeing as how her employer will likely be springing for the device and service, however, I guess she’ll just have two devices. The 7100 is an interesting departure for the Blackberry line, and I’m curious to see the Crackberry crowd’s response to the new keyboard layout. Blackberries are already insanely popular, and this new model could give serious competition to the current smartphone ubermensch, and object of my techno-lust, the Treo 650. Curse you, PalmOne, for being sucked in to an exclusivity deal with Sprint. I want my Cingular Treo now! With my birthday and Christmas both in the same month, this is the gift I crave!
Motorola is blitzing the airwaves with commercials of the Razr V3. I got to play with one at the local Cingular store when I went hunting for a case for my T616. Overall, I’m unimpressed. What is impressive is the slim compactness of the phone, but that’s about it. Motorola makes a big case over the keypad, “chemically etched into a single piece of nickel-plated copper alloy to take the place of protruding buttons,” according to Wired. I like my buttons to protrude, at least a little bit; it allows dialing by touch. Jon got a chuckle when I shared that observation with him, saying he can’t remember the last time he dialed from touch, making extensive use of his phone-of-the-moment’s address book and voice-dial features. Touche. My friends and associates know I am no Luddite, but I like having my options open. Give me the address book, voice dialing, and the ability to dial by touch, should I want.
Speaking of voice dialing, someone call me when the Jawbone goes wireless. I really dig the concept of the headset, but wired sets are so twentieth century. It limits what models you can support, from a hardware standpoint, and the current Jawbone is no exception.
For the price, you cannot not add a Pelican F1 flashlight to your photo kit. Plus, it’s guaranteed forever; in Pelican’s parlance, “You break it, we replace it… forever!” Just don’t take it diving…
The item I would love to add to my photo kit is Canon’s EOS 1Ds Mark II. Drool. At seven grand, sans lens, however, I don’t see this 16.7-megapixel, 35mm-equivalent digital SLR making it in to my bag any time soon. I have been extremely pleased with my PowerShot G3, and would like to add a S500 Digital Elph to the kit line-up. Maybe since the Treo 650 is currently unavailable…
Something tells me the Flybar pogo stick has “lawsuit” written all over it.
One might not think that a web site with the URL of would sell, well, tools. One would be wrong, as Popular Mechanics has picked their Stiletto TiBone Solid Titanium Hammer as the “Hammer of the Gods.” I think the Craftsman model I use about once a month will suffice, and I’ll keep the two hundred bucks, thanks very much.
Finally, I think that Garmin’s iQue 3200 is the result of a backwards licensing deal. The iQue integrates Garmin’s GPS and mapping software with the Palm OS in a PDA-sized package. Personally, I think PalmOne needs to be licensing Garmin’s stuff, and rolling it in to the Treo 700, or whatever the next revision of the top-tier smartphone is going to be called.