Is a Boxee TV for you?

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Boxee TV

I was having a discussion with a coworker recently regarding the merits of the new Boxee TV. He bought a Boxee Box when they were released a couple years ago and has liked it, so he thought the Boxee TV would be an upgrade to the Boxee Box and help expand the consumer adoption of Boxee products. I disagreed with him.

Some History

About five years ago, Boxee started out as a derivative of the XBMC project and was well-received in tech circles. Their software, which was free, provided a nice lean-back experience for watching video files on your computer. Since the Boxee software was compatible with many XBMC apps, there was a decent selection of online media that could also be watched. People who wanted to hook up a computer to their TV now had a nice way to watch videos in the family room. Continue reading

How to Move iTunes Library to a New PC

Have you ever had that feeling that you wanted to do the impossible task? No matter how hard you try, the results would not be what you want? That your gut tells you that you will end up disappointed? This is the feeling I had when I began my attempt to move iTunes from one Windows PC to another and keep everything intact.

The first thing I did was a Google search to find out if anybody else had already done this. I found various bits and pieces of information, but no complete set of instructions. So I used those bits and pieces and compiled my own list of tasks to complete this project. For an application as widely used as iTunes, you would think Apple would make this an easy process, but it’s not. It’s not hard, but it’s not trivial; you have to know your way around the operating system to be successful. I’m happy to say that I was successful in moving iTunes to a new computer and I’m sharing the steps I took. One caveat: These instructions worked for me and may or may not work for you; “your mileage may vary.”

I started with an older, slower computer running Windows 7 and wanted to move iTunes to a newer, faster computer, also running Windows 7. (This is important to note since different versions of Windows put things in different places. For example, by default, Windows 7 puts the iTunes folder in “C:\Users\[User Name]\Music” whereas Windows XP puts the folder in “C:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\My Documents\My Music” by default.) My iTunes library consists of 5212 songs, 16 movies, 3 podcasts, 2 iTunes U subscriptions, 97 books, 106 apps, 6 ringtones, and 10 custom playlists. Needless to say, I did not want to rebuild all of this from scratch on a new computer. I was willing to sacrifice an iPad as a test device on the new computer to determine if things worked properly; I could always set it up again from scratch if I needed to. Thankfully, everything transferred properly and worked correctly on the new computer. Continue reading

TV – There’s More Ways To Watch Than Ever Before

Americans spend a lot of time in front of the TV. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent about half of their leisure time watching TV, averaging about 2.8 hours per day. Since we spend so much time in front of the TV, it would be nice to improve the TV viewing experience so we can enjoy that viewing time even more.

The current trend is toward more content to watch and more ways to watch that content. It used to be easy to figure out what to watch on TV; you only had 3 channels and you chose the best of them to watch. But now you can truly customize your TV viewing experience to best suit your lifestyle and watch what you want when you want to watch it.

The first way that most people improved their TV viewing experience started in the 1980s with the arrival of VCRs and video rental stores. Of course, VHS tapes have become obsolete, replaced by DVD and Blu-ray discs, bringing with them higher quality picture and sound. Today, services like Netflix and Redbox still exist, allowing you to watch a DVD or Blu-ray movie at home for a couple dollars. As trends evolve, the popularity of these rental services has been declining. Continue reading

Bring Back the 40-Hour Work Week

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Online MBA published a blog post and infographic about overtime, with some surprising statistics:

  • The more hours per week you regularly work, the less productive you will become.
  • On average, Americans now work 11 hours more per week than in 1970, but make $8,000 less per year (adjusted for inflation).

From the article:

In today’s ever-increasingly cutthroat work environment, a common notion among employees and bosses alike tends to be, “he who works latest works best.” And while it seems that the 40-hour work week has been largely dispensed with in our hardworking culture, new studies show that working more very seldom produces better results. Employees work many more hours now than they have in the past, but it’s coming at the expense of health, happiness, and even productivity. While it looks good to be the first to arrive and the last to leave work each day, it turns out that putting in 60 hours of work each week may do more harm than good in achieving end results. This infographic examines some of the lesser-known statistics regarding overtime work and its effects, and through it one thing becomes extremely clear: To boost productivity and foster excellent employees, the best thing businesses can do is to bring back the 40-hour work week. Continue reading

There’s a Difference, part 2

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In a previous post, I asked you to watch two commercials and determine what makes them different. Other than the style of the commercials, which is unimportant, there is a very major difference. If you have not watched the two commercials, follow the link above and take a minute to watch both of them.

Quite simply, the fundamental difference is that the Apple iPad commercial shows you “why” and the Droid commercial shows you “what”. The Droid commercial spends a lot of time showing the features of the latest (at the time) phone. As the girl breaks down the robot she tears out the dual-core processor, the 4G LTE chip, and so on. Who is the Droid commercial targeting? If they want to sell these phones to the general public, then the general public will not understand anything about the Droid phone. (Geeks and techs, myself included, like the commercial, but I don’t know that I would necessarily consider them a representation of the general public.) In essence, the Droid commercial is starting with “what”. Continue reading

Verizon’s 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report

I recently attended a presentation by Verizon where they discussed the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report. Anybody that has anything to do with computer security should download the report. It’s free and you don’t have to be a Verizon customer to get it. In fact, you don’t even have to register to download the report.

2012 is the fifth year that Verizon has compiled this report, so they have data to show some interesting security trends. There is a lot of good information and some surprises as well. A couple things I found surprising:

  1. No data has been breached as a result of cloud technology.
  2. Passwords are a relatively ineffective deterrent to currently used exploits.
  3. Any form of encryption, no matter how weak, deters hackers.

The report is about 75 pages long. As I read through it I will share some of my findings and expand on the ones listed above. If you find something interesting in the report, share it in the comments below.

 

Seth Godin – The “Broken” Speech

Without even realizing it, many things in our world are broken. What do you encounter on a daily basis that is broken? What have you created that might be broken? Was it accidental, or was it on purpose?

Here is an example of a product we all use that is broken on purpose: the QWERTY keyboard. From Wikipedia:

[The] “Type Writer” had two features which made jams a serious issue. Firstly, characters were mounted on metal arms or typebars, which would clash and jam if neighboring arms were depressed at the same time or in rapid succession. Secondly, its printing point was located beneath the paper carriage, invisible to the operator, a so-called “up-stroke” design. Consequently, jams were especially serious, because the typist could only discover the mishap by raising the carriage to inspect what he had typed. The solution was to place commonly used letter-pairs (like “th” or “st”) so that their typebars were not neighboring, avoiding jams. A popular myth is that QWERTY was designed to “slow down” typists though this is incorrect – it was designed to prevent jams while typing at speed, allowing typists to type faster.

Seth Godin’s entertaining speech is below. I hope you enjoy it. Be warned: You will never look at the world the same way once you have watched this video.

 

You Are Being Watched!

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magnifying glass and footprintDo you get the sneaky suspicion that you are being watched? You’re not alone! Every action you take on the web is tracked in some way or another. Advertisers are some of the worst offenders of tracking your online activities.

The reality is that there is not much you can do today to limit what is tracked. There is little legislation around online tracking, so it is still a bit of the “wild west.”

But things are changing! Mozilla’s Firefox browser has an option to tell web sites that you do not want to be tracked (go into Options, then the Security tab). Unfortunately, the default setting for this option is to allow web sites to track you, and not too many people know to change this setting. Microsoft recently announced that Internet Explorer 10 will have tracking disabled by default when it is released. This will be a major benefit for personal privacy and help push back some of the tracking services. Continue reading

Neil Gaiman Commencement Speech

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Thanks to the internet, commencement speeches are easily found online. However, most of them are dreadful and unmemorable, worth forgetting as soon as they are heard. But some commencement speeches stand out for one reason or another.

Many people still search for and watch Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech from 2005 (if you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here). It continues to resonate with truth and gives the listener something to contemplate, whether a recent graduate or well past that point in life.

In the same way, I believe Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech will be kindly regarded for quite some time. He never attended a single college class, but he was honored as a result of his body of work as a novelist. I hope that he gives everyone watching the video something to contemplate.

Please provide your feedback in the comments below.