Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Why not a 20-blade razor??

Some time last year, somebody suggested that there was an ongoing "arms race" in shaving technology. I'm talking about disposable razor blade systems. "If a few is good, more is better"... This seemed ridiculous to me... what little did I know...

It all started when somebody pointed me to this satirical post on TheOnion.com... [Warning: there's "strong" language on the Onion's article; if you're likely to be offended, don't click on it]. Ok: here's the link. I say "satirical" because I assumed that it was meant to make fun at the idea that 3 blades on your razor was plenty... (I'm still using 2-blade technology) or maybe even ridiculous... who would possibly add even more blades?

But, now it's happened. Gillette is introducing their new Fusion 5-blade razor product. There's news that indicates we'll see ads for it during the SuperBowl this weekend. Wow: 5 blades. There's a fancy Flash presentation on the Gillette website detailing the features of this product. Who knows... maybe I'll have to try it... maybe it's really great.

It just sounds silly.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Google Video Store... not perfect

I've come to expect perfection from Google. At least an open-minded attempt at perfection in a "do-no-evil" sort of way. I'm part of the minority. I regularly prefer to use Apple MacOS products over Microsoft Windows products. Partly because they're a helluva lot easier to use. And they provide a helluva lot more features. Features I care about. Not features like, "we're getting rid of the registry after N decades because it was a really stupid idea to start with". But I digress.

Google products can be sorted into 3 categories:
  1. Things that run on any computer (because of web standards).
  2. Things that run Windows and Mac (because Google created special packages for these two OSs)
  3. Things that run only on Windows (and might someday run on Mac's... maybe).
The most important things belong to category 1 - products like, Google search, Gmail, Google Talk (actually, Google Talk straddles categories 1 and 3; you can use a jabber-compatible messaging client to connect to the Google Talk server, but the Google Talk client runs only on Windows), and the web-hosted video.google.com video viewer.

As of today, Google Earth has transitioned from category 3 to category 2!!! (Hooray - thank you - I wish it had happened sooner). I'm sorry for all of the Linux users out there... presumably, you still can't run Google Earth... (yet I've heard that it's possible to run Google Earth on Linux via WinE).

Category 3 is troubling. Because it indicates that Google has decided that "people not running the Microsoft OS are not (so) important Google customers". Ouch. That hurts. Early versions of Google Video didn't offer transcoding... so a bunch of videos couldn't be watched on Mac's. Google fixed this with a spiffy transcoder and flash player that I blogged about before.

As I indicated, Google Earth went thru a long PC/Windows-only phase.

And now Google announces the Google Video Store... with titles from CBS, the NBA, and more available for purchase... HOWEVER: many titles are "Category 3"... they're accompanied by a little message, "Sorry, purchasing this video requires Windows 2000 or Windows XP." Huh!?

Why not transcode the video into the superior mpeg4 format? Apple provides QuickTime viewers for Windows machines... and surely there are alternative mpeg4 viewers for Windows as well. Or make several formats available? The Wayback Machine has figured this out and offers many videos in multiple formats, often including mpeg4... in fact, it looks like that site is a reasonable alternative to video.google.com for individuals wanting to publish their videos.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

No web videos of CES keynotes?

The Consumer Electronics Show started this week in Las Vegas. As often, the opening day keynote was delivered by Bill Gates. Checking the CES web site, transcripts are now available, but - surprisingly, since this is a show about technology - there are no webcasts posted on the CES website!

This is amazing. In a world where major conferences from Sun (JavaOne, Network Computing), Apple (MacExpo, Mac Developers Conference), and others routinely share their keynotes via video webcasts from their websites, it seems really strange that the premier consumer electronics show in the country doesn't maximize its use of current technology to share its keynotes with a much much wider audience than could directly attend the show.

Well, Microsoft is apparently more tech-savvy than CES... Bill's CES keynote is available from their website...

And Intel's keynote by Paul Otellini is available on Intel's website... WAIT - ONLY if you view it with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or better and Windows Media Player 9. Huh!??!? Didn't Apple and Intel just enter into a new relationship... where Apple decided to convert its processor line from IBM/Motorola's PowerPC to Intel processors!?? And didn't Microsoft just re-announce the end of support for Internet Explorer on MacOS?? They suggest "that Macintosh users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple's Safari."

Oh look: now Yahoo has posted Terry Semel's keynote on their vidcast beta website... it's good to see that they're using state-of-the-art technology - mpeg4 - for their streaming.

Still no sign of Google's Larry Page keynote from Friday... (why isn't this available on video.google.com!??)

It seems that CES is all about creating buzz... and ultimately providing the opportunity to sell new product. This could be enhanced many-fold by rebroadcasting the video associated with the keynotes.

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