July 2007 Archives

July 30, 2007

Google and the Open Wireless Networks Goal

This morning, as I drove 10 miles out of my way to avoid an accident that wasn't reported on traffic radio (which is a gripe for another day), I tuned into NPR for Morning Addition. I love public radio, because the news is probably the least biased that I have ever heard (yet still very biased). It's refreshing to hear about events that most major news groups would see beneath them, such as the existence of Rose Shows.

This particular morning they had This article on Google's efforts to urge the FCC to open wireless networks to more competition outside of the "Big Four". The reason behind it is sound: In the wake of a possible failure of the Net Neutrality situation, Google wants to secure the future of wireless networks by making their applications, search engines, etc. available for everyone who want to use it. It's a boost for business in a growing market, and provides good PR for Google.

Another really good reason I heard Google mention on Friday was the need for real competition within the Wireless Network community. Right now, you have the Big Four: Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. There are other, smaller networks, but they are marginalized by these big competitors. A lot of it has to do with existing network presence, limited radio bandwidth availability because of funding, and so on. Sound familiar? Ma Bell had the same setup, and continues to have the same setup with service monopolies in areas where they own the infrastructure.

So what's the answer? provide a public infrastructure. Google is trying to convince the FCC of this through their auctions. It would force the winning bidders to provide access to these air waves to allow other networks to utilize them. Hence better network support, better customer service, better consumer experiences.

Sounds very similar to the arguments that initiated the UTOPIA project in various Utah cities. And the same arguments are being made against Google's initiative: Bidding will not go as high, and the FCC will take a hit on how much money they will make, ultimately hurting the tax payer in the short run. So Google offered the answer: Guarantee a bid that will be attractive to the FCC and make the potential loss go away. The same attempt was done by various businessmen in Salt Lake to convince the Salt Lake Council to go with UTOPIA.

I wish Google success in this endeavor. Perhaps they can create a change in the wireless community that will make me want to have a cell phone. Perhaps they can convince an increasingly consumer-hostile business to release their strangle-hold on the market to allow for real competition to emerge, and by doing so provide an air of innovation that will make wireless a network worth innovating in.

July 27, 2007

Drought Resistant Gardening: Xeriscaping

For those of you who live in Utah, the West/SouthWest of the United States, or have ever been there, you know that we live in a desert. This desert has generally had a lot of snow in the winter within the mountains that allow for irrigation possibilities that have made Utah into a Rural state with farms and ranches all over. But, unfortunately, it also brought with it people that wanted lush, green lawns that were watered every day during the summer. As such, the state has squandered it's water resources, while also providing water to neighboring states (Nevada and California).

As those of you who are familiar with arid regions, it's a cycle that can't continue. To Utah's credit (at least to the Residents), home owners have been conserving much of their water usage both within and outside of the home. Landscaping is becoming increasingly xeriscaped (using native, drought resistant plants), and those that do have lawns have started watering them twice or three times a week instead of every day.

I say Residents, because the business community has been less responsible. Many business campuses have sprinklers that run every day, whether it rains or not. Grass is planted where it shouldn't be growing (at least not Kentucky Bluegrass), and water-hungry trees are grown for the shade. Yes, the business community has a lot to learn regarding water conservation.

Having said that, I have made it a goal to conserve as much water as possible with my yard. Most of my lawn is gone, with an exception of a small section in the front yard. It's still Kentucky Bluegrass, so it's water hungry, but at least it isn't all over. The rest is currently covered with bark and pea gravel to allow the rain water to quickly return to the ground without evaporation or runoff.

I also have a number of herbs that are growing rather well with little watering. Sage, mint, rosemary (planted next to the house to survive the winter), and thyme are all excellent herbs to grow within a drought-tolerant garden. They all grow naturally in low-water conditions through out the world, and therefore provide a great looking and smelling way to convert a water-hungry flower garden into a xeriscaped garden that provides food stuffs.

But that's not all. I also have a wonderful desert plant growing, called Moonlight Broom. I planted it three years ago, and though it's a slow growing plant, the blooms in the Spring look almost like tiny orchids. I also have some lavender planted, and it's growing quite well.

But, as my wife pointed out to me, we can't have kids without a clean place for them to play. This means I need to restore a lot of my lawn. But this time, instead of planting the Kentucky Bluegrass that we have only had access to previously, I found a new strain of grass that is native, and therefore drought resistant. High Country Gardens specialize in xeriscape plants, and have Dwarf Fescue lawn mix. This lawn is native to the Southwest, and therefore needs little water. In fact, it only needs watering once every couple of weeks, if it doesn't rain. Other than that, it doesn't need to be watered. Considering the sprinkler system that was installed in my home 30 years ago has long since died on me, that's a very popular idea for me. ^_^

They also have a number of other grasses that can be planted, based on your area. One is called Buffalo grass, and is planted with plugs. It grows quickly and dense, so chokes out any weeds or broadleaf plants. I was tempted, but as grass seed is less expensive, and I can plant it in the fall (just before the snow), and have it sprout in the spring, I think it's a better choice. That being said, I may plant the front yard with the Buffalo grass, and have it push out the Kentucky Bluegrass. It would make for an interesting contrast, the two different grasses in the front and back.

If you are looking for a gook-looking lawn that doesn't need a lot of water, I would highly recommend checking out the above links. After all, both those grasses only need mowing once a month, or once a season. How could you do better than that? ^_^

The Holy Grail for Apple TV: External USB Storage

Like many people that have purchased the Apple TV around the globe, I have been limited to the 32 GB available for storage on the machine (unlike those that purchased Gen 2 with a 160 GB drive). As such, only a portion of my overall movie collection can be stored on the device. Even with the 160 GB hard drive device, I could only have about a third of my total collection stored on the device.

Since this concern has been quite vocal in the community, a bounty had been set through Apple TV Hacks to enable booting off of the core machine, but use a USB device for storage. Since that bounty had been set, it appears that a real fix has been developed and is expected to be made available this evening. if you would like more information, check out the post on Apple TV Hacks here.

Now, if they can just release a method of installing third party tools onto the iPhone, than I will be in Apple heaven. ^_^

July 26, 2007

The Division of Government and it's Advantage

Lately, there has been several news headlines regarding the supposed "Constitutional Crisis" regarding the activities of members of the current administration. This has lead to many in the opposing political party to take action against the administration, while those within the administration's party (the current minority) have been very vocal about their opposition.

Now, you may have noticed my quotes around the term "Constitutional Crisis", because it's just a way to get people angry at the events, and mobilize them for the next election. The fact remains that it is not that serious. It's just politics as usual, or I should say it's the two party process as usual. I don't mean to say that as a cliche, but it really is that process that the government was designed to accomplish.

Let's go back in time to 300 B.C. in Rome. The Republic, designed by people who inherently distrusted their government (sound familiar?), had two complete governments that ran parallel to each other. The first was the Oligarchy, or the Senate, with the Consuls, quaestors, and other executives. The second was the Assembly set in place for the commoners and their Tribunes that could halt both governments with a veto. These two governments could both place laws on the books, enforce them, and even contradict each other if necessary (and have in several occasions).

The result was a government that, unless in a state of war, was almost completely ineffectual. Assembly members, Tribunes, Consuls, and even Senators would spend their entire career trying to effect a reform, and have it all come crashing down on them with one tribune's veto. The effect was a very stable society with little change in it's makeup. It took serious rebellion, war, or violence to make anything within Roman society change.

Now, for those of you versed in American History (particularly pre-Civil War), you will probably remember that much of the current Constitution was taken from Roman history, as documented by the Federalist Papers. This leads me to believe that the Founding Fathers of our Constitution were aware that "Checks and Balances" would occasionally mean that government would be brought to a standstill. As such, because it would keep the status quo, the society would continue with their lives to which they have become accustomed.

So, in a sense, this means that any time you have a divided government, it creates a conservative atmosphere where change is held up by partisan politics, bickering, and general politicking on both sides. As such, the general public can forget about the government and go about their daily lives knowing that nothing much is going to change. That is, until there is a true crisis that effects the security and safety of the general populace. But at that point, the politicking stops, and the government moves in the same direction regardless of party.

For an example of this, let's look back to the reforms of the Travel industry after September 11th. I don't recall any single party being in opposition to those reforms. Instead, both parties wanted to try to take it a step further than the other, in order to look more impressive to their constituents back home whom they were professing to protect. In the end, reforms have been put in place, and one can argue that they have been fairly effective (though a bit inconvenient at times for the unprepared).

So what is the point I'm trying to make? At the end of the day, regardless of what actions are taken in the short term against one party to the other, it will all wash out. Divided governments are the ultimate check to an abuse of power, and we shouldn't fear them. Instead it would probably be better for the country if we encouraged divided governments.

Please note that the author is not affiliated with any political party, but rather views politics as a source of entertainment.

July 25, 2007

AT&T and the Activation Scare for iPhone

Today, as I was reading the daily news, I saw this report from Bloomberg, stating that 146,000 iPhones were activated in the quarter according to AT&T. This was a severe disappointment for investors, who started selling Apple stock and bringing the stock price down (though it is still higher than when the iPhone was first introduced). Now investors are eagerly awaiting Apple's report, due out today after the close of the market, to see what they say on actual sales.

Personally, though I don't have an iPhone yet, I see the sales being higher than the activations reported by AT&T. Why? Because the activation was one of the first significant things hacked about the iPhone. That being said, it will probably not be significant, because there hasn't been a simple GUI process of doing it, at least until the iPhoneDev community came out with the iActivator, a GUI activation tool.

Also, it's important to note that these numbers represent the sales for the last two days of the quarter, and not sales until now. So if you are worried about your Apple stock, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the reports by the goal of 2008. That is, of course, if the rumored updates to the iPhone will be made by the release of Leopard this October. Then the iPhone could be the hot Christmas gift of the season, and not necessarily as the phone.

Why am I pointing this out? Do I have Apple stock, and want it to go back up? Nope, it's just a topic that I've been interested in since I have wanted a mobile web tablet that integrates with my Apple computer. the iPhone has so much potential.. In fact, I think it would be a stroke of genius if Apple released an iPod with the same features, sans the phone and YouTube. ^_^ Should anyone from Apple be out there listening, it would be really nice!

July 23, 2007

The Last Week in Review

It's been a while since I have posted, in fact it's been over a week. That's because this last week has been a busy one. Just so that you know why I haven't been posting, let me give you a quick recap on the previous week:

First Weekend
The first weekend was pretty fun. It was my wife's birthday, so we went out to eat and see a film without my son (who was with Grandma). We went to the Brazilian restaurant at Jordan Landing, which was excellent, if rather steep. The meat was great, as was the salad bar. Would I go again? Not if it wasn't a special occasion. The price was a bit rich for my Scottish blood.

The movie we saw as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. For those of you who have been regular visitors to this blog, you may have noticed that I am a Potter fan, as is my wife. I like it because of the plots and side plots, the puzzles that are placed intentionally by J.K. Rowling, and the general story parts that make the whole. As such, I have read the entire series several times to get ready for each new book or movie that comes out.

Now, The Order of the Phoenix is perhaps my least favorite book because of Harry's attitude. He's whiney in this book, to the point which I would like to smack him up side the head. Yes, his life isn't fair, but neither is anyone else's. Harry forgets that he isn't the only one that has lost family members to the Death Eaters. Regardless, it's an important piece of the story, because it start's to clear up the unanswered (and unquestioned) questions that have existed from the beginning of the book.

The movie, on the other hand, is now my favorite movie of the Potter saga. It was done better than even Prisoner of Azkaban, which was my previous favorite. Harry was angry, but not whiney. The death of Sirius Black was handled touchingly, and gave us a lot of time to grieve with the characters. All in all, I would highly recommend it.

Server Essentials, Again
This last week covered the Mac OS X v.10.4 Server Essentials course again, and I taught it in the Sandy campus (by the Sandy City Hall). That campus is by far my most favorite campus to teach in, because the classrooms are huge, clean, and relaxed. My second is Murray, which has a lab that's cramped, but the classrooms are well organized. Then comes the Annex building (where my office is), and then Bountiful.

Anyway, the class went really well. I had a student from BYU, one from OC Tanner, and one from an airforce base in Texas. The mix was great, and with such a lightly scheduled class, we had plenty of time to shoot the breeze and still get out early. As usual, the best part of the class was the sand box time at the end, where we put together an iChat server, and tried to incorporate the servers into an Active Directory system (which was limited in it's success).

The Last Weekend
This last weekend was consumed with the last book in the Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. To be honest, I got an advanced copy on Thursday evening, and finished it on Friday. That being said, I won't say anything that may spoil the plot for those still engrossed in the book, but I will say that a lot of my theories were correct, and I'm quite happy about that. That, and all the people I really wanted alive remained living.

So, that is what kept me from posting. Now that I am all Pottered out, and there are a load of things new about the Apple TV and the iPhone to write about, I will be posting regularly again.

July 10, 2007

Past the Euphoria: Why I Want to Wait for the iPhone

Like many other people, I was really caught up with the iPhone hype, and experienced the same euphoria that many others did while the iPhone was attracting crowds in front of Apple Stores nationwide. But something held me back, other than my budget. I didn't know if I wanted the iPhone right away, because I didn't know about some key features that I really want in a mobile device.

Yes, that's right, I said mobile device, not mobile phone. I hate mobile phones, because I hate mobile phone networks. There isn't a single one out there that I would willingly go with again. AT&T would only get my business if I were forced to purchase a phone for any given amount of time. In fact, I have been looking for an alternative that would be acceptable through various WiFi phone options for voice communication. No, what I really want is a mobile device that has internet capabilities, small enough to fit in my pocket, and doesn't require a stylus to use.

So why don't I just purchase any number of PDAs out there? Because they don't all support SIP or other VoIP phone services, they all have a stylus that make using it annoying (particularly when you have a son that breaks your stylus), and the really good ones are bulky to say the least. And on top of all that, they don't sync easily with the Mac. Yes, I can use The Missing Sync, or I can install Palm's desktop software for the Mac, but either that's an additional expense that I don't want to justify, or it doesn't work very well (my wife has constant problems with her palm sync process).

The iPhone has a touch screen that is just amazing. That's what I want in my PDA, a multi-touch screen that won't get damaged if it's sitting in my pocket with my cross pen. I want something that is less likely to get scratched because there is a minute speck of dust that the stylus managed to catch and cause a scratch that is very, very visible. I want something that will work with my finger or thumbs and not restrict the screen size. The Pocket PC has the virtual keyboard, but it doesn't work well with just your finger or thumbs.

But as I start to look at all the reasons I want the iPhone, it really comes down to the screen. That's it, pretty much. I don't want a stylus. Other than that, everything else I want is either standard with other phones, or isn't provided by any of them anyway. So what do I want? You may recall in a previous post I mentioned my wishlist. Well, here is another one, with many of the same features on it:

A Calendar That Syncs With My CalDAV Calendar
The Calendar on the iPhone is just as bad as any other mobile device out there. Apparently mobile device companies seem to think we all have simple lives with little to do. I have three calendars that I keep my information in, and combine them all in either iCal, Google Calendar, or Outlook 2007. Multiple calendars make my life easier to manage, because it keeps the appointments compartmentalized. That way I can better gauge the importance of an entry.

No, just color-coding doesn't work, because I need to sometimes limit access based on the event I am participating in. If someone asks me what classes are being taught, I need to see the whole calendar. But I only want to see the entries that apply to me when I take a quick look. iCal can do this (sort of), Calgoo can do this, and Outlook 2007 can do this. Why should I have to deal with a watered down version for my mobile device? I want something that is just as robust as a computer while I am running around, but small enough to sit in my pocket.

The Real Internet
I hate watered down versions of the Internet. Just because the device is small doesn't mean I want to have to deal with less than what I have on my desktop. I want the same display in a high resolution as I get with my Powerbook or my Mac Pro. The thing is, I need an easy way to navigate as well, and be able to zoom in and out when necessary. Luckily, that's one thing that the iPhone does really well (sans the crashing browser). It works really well when on WiFi, and somewhat OK on EDGE. I haven't seen what Pocket IE can do since 2003, but I would hope that it has gotten better, particularly with the zoom.

Real Messaging
I don't believe I should have to use SMS messaging, just because I am on a mobile device. If there is true internet access, why can't I use AIM, MSN, etc. for my communications? After all, I live in Adium at work. This is where the iPhone was a big disappointment. Sure, you can SMS, but you can't use AIM? Even my old Nokia I bought right off my mission with Sprint had AIM. Yes, I really need some sort of communication through my mobile device that is real, and really easy.

VoIP
This is very unlikely with any cell phone, but I would love to have VoIP capabilities with my mobile phone. Something like Skype or Gizmo for my mobile device. Why? Because I may want a phone, but I don't want the network baggage that comes with it. Skype is a decent alternative with much better rates than any network. And, as I have a really nigh-speed wireless network at all my work locations, I don't see the need to settle for anything less.

Of course I could just purchase a WiFi phone and use it, but why would I want to carry more than one device? I'm all about consolidating my devices as much as possible. I don't want to have to carry my laptop, PDA, cell phone, and iPod just to have the benefits of any one at any given time. Call me crazy, but I like the minimalist approach to life.

This is why I am really hoping that 3rd party apps are opened soon for the iPhone, either through Apple or through hackers. Please Apple, let Skype come to the iPhone! You can limit the usage to WiFi only, to stay compliant with AT&T's anti VoIP stance for their network.

Storage for Media
Yes, I love being entertained. I like watching episodes of my favorite British Comedies whenever I want to, such as on Traxx. I like to listen to audiobooks while bike riding, or my favorite music. Sure, many phones out there can play media, but their storage space is very wanting (unless I pay for expansion cards that are also expensive). I think that my mobile device should be comparable to an older PC. That's why I like the iPhone. At 8 GB of storage, I can keep at least the full "Grace and Favour" series, or even "Dilbert". That will keep me happy, happy for a week, at least.

eBooks
I need something that will read eBooks as well. Why? Because I do a lot of reading, and will even take the time to convert books to eBook format if a format is universal. I have yet to find a perfect eBook system, as they are all too much like DRM to suit me. Granted, there is the Gutenburg project, which I firmly endorse, but I have yet to find a mobile device that supports it natively. Perhaps I just haven't been looking hard enough.

WiFi a Must
Yes, I need WiFi. Bluetooth is nice for simple devices, but if I am going to use any phone I need WiFi to get it to work properly. Why? Because you need that kind of speed to get software like Skype to work correctly. There are precious few phones out there in the US market that will support WiFi, other than really expensive PDA's that have little storage space. One phone had me excited, the Neo 1973 by OpenMoko, but it still has the stylus, and it doesn't have WiFi. The storage is not mentioned at all, but as it comes with a 2 GB micro SD card, I assumed that was the storage.

I need the WiFi to be compatible with 802.1x authentication, so that I can use it at work as well as at home. At the U, the Uconnect wireless network utilizes 802.1x authentication to use it. It's simple to set up on the Mac, somewhat simple to set up on a Windows machine, but fairly complicated on a Pocket PC. I want something that is easy to set up this way.

Video
Yes, I want to be able to capture video, as well as audio. I don't need to publish it anywhere, but I want to be able to use the phone as an ad hoc video recorder for those moments when a small mobile video recorder would be handy. And it needs to be at a decent frame rate, and decent resolution. That alone will make the video recorder option unlikely, as you can get one or the other on a small device, but rarely both.

Additional Accessories
I would love to be able to plug in a keyboard to the iPhone and use it instead of the main keyboard. I want to be able to turn the ideal mobile device into the ideal replacement for my laptop while on the road. Why? Because there are very few laptops that run a full OS and are small enough and light enough to go everywhere. Right now my 12" Powerbook is small enough to fit in a messenger bag, but heavy enough to eliminate anything else in that bag. If I can have a small enough mobile device that runs a full OS, has a Terminal (also missing in the iPhone), and has the ability to plug in or use a Bluetooth keyboard, I would be all set. Particularly if it had a terminal. ^_^

I would also like to see a camera for Video Conferencing. Right now the iPhone only has support for a picture camera, and perhaps a video camera if the software is upgraded nicely. But I would like a camera on the front of the device (much like the Clie had), so that video conferencing is possible. I would even accept it as a third party device that plugs into the bottom of the sucker, as long as it was sleek. With WiFi hotspots becoming more common, there would be a really decent market for this, I would think. It would work well with the VoIP function. ^_^

Dashboard Widgets
Apple could have had a brilliant market boom with just one little addition to their iPhone: Allow Dashboard Widgets to run on the phone. Why? Because that's all the apps are on the phone, and it would instantly increase the possibilities for the iPhone and development. Free apps would be running all over the world, and most of them would be Web 2.0 apps. That's the brilliant stroke that Apple missed out on, and it's what I wanted when I first heard the rumor that Apple was going to release a phone. Maybe that will come with Leopard, and I hope so.

Well, that is my list. You notice that YouTube wasn't on there, nor was some of the other features that the iPhone has. I really don't care about SMS, voice mail, or a calculator. I do like the other features, and I really like the whole iPod aspect of it, but it still has a lot to be desired as a mobile device.

The good news is that there are some significant updates that have been speculated, and if even half of them are true then the iPhone will increase the number of compatible features on my list. Until then, it's still just a wait and see. With activation now no longer contingent on an AT&T account (see Hackint0sh.org, or iphone.fiveforty.net for more info), I would be OK with purchasing an iPhone if most of my desired features are included in the update.

So Apple, this is my invite to you. ^_^

While I wait on the iPhone, does anyone have any other suggestions for me? What would you use as a mobile device with VoIP?

July 9, 2007

MacBook Pro with Mac OS X Server Installed: Why It's Not Supported

A while ago I had an authentication problem with Mac OS X Server 10.4.9. I set up my classroom server with a specific account (Sharon Accounte), and my students were supposed to authenticate to their server, which was connected to my server. Instead, they received an error denying access, and suggesting that the account was wrong. I checked the account on the server, authenticated locally without any trouble, so I knew it wasn't the account. I then checked the server logs, and found no errors within the Directory or Password Server logs.

I then checked with other Server Essentials instructors to see what the problem could be. Everyone suggested checking the directory entry using the command line tool dscl. This tool will let you navigate the directory entry as though it were a file system, and you can read the authentication information the server provides. While checking this, I noticed that everything was being provided, and stumped the other instructors as to what the cause could be.

Well, after running some tests after the class, I found out what the issue was. First, it's important to note that I had used a MacBook Pro as the server (our lab is mobile, and it was the most convenient way to get it done), so the problem is not typical as laptops are not a supported platform for Server. Next, I had upgraded to 10.4.9, which provided Airport support (and didn't crash the system as 10.4.8 did).

Before I had upgraded, the authentication worked just fine. After upgrading, it wouldn't authenticate, and there were no errors in the Password Server log. It seems that, at least for a laptop install, the server has trouble authenticating with later releases (I haven't tried 10.4.10 yet).

So, for anyone out there that is using a MacBook or MacBook Pro as their mobile lab server, this may be of some use. I'll test it with 10.4.10 next week during the Server class Challenge. For now, the base install of 10.4.7 on a MacBook Pro will work, sans the Airport. But, as the server should be connected through Ethernet anyway, it shouldn't be that much of a problem.

But the question still remains: What is significantly different from the Mac Pro to the MacBook Pro that would cause the server to fail in authenticating without providing error log entries? I'm not sure I will ever find out, but at least I now know that the classroom server will work just fine, and I don't have to lug around a Mac Pro just to teach a class.

July 3, 2007

Vacation post: Local Government, and iPhone Hype

THis week I am on vacation, working in the yard and spending some quality time with my son. But, being the geek that I am, I have kept busy with other things too. I've spent some time looking at video compression software, working with sharing images to my Apple TV, and looking for an acceptable way to activate an iPhone without having to worry about monthly charges (I don't like cell phones period, even if it's really cool). So, here's a quick review of what I've been doing, for those who are interested.

The Back Yard
Since I worked for an obscure ISP that stopped paying me, I have been letting my back yard go wild. THis isn't because of any particular choice, more because I haven't had the money to really fix it up. Well, as we are started to get a handle on things, I have started to work on the back yard. I had a lot of plans for it (as documented in my blog), but zoning laws have been keeping them from happening.

Well, I decided to shoot a bit lower with my plans, and just go for your basic back yard. I started by tilling under the weeds that have grown with a vigor that has daunted me for years. I then set some bricks down in a rough patio on the side of the house. All this in 100 degree weather (37.778 C for those metric fellows). I dismantled the foundation to the greenhouse I was going to build, and will settle for a quick and easy one over the current garden area. That will be easier to set up, and simpler to build. THe cob project is still under construction, and will be completed by the end of the month.

VIdeo Compression
I have a lot of video that I would like to convert to an Apple TV-Friendly format. These videos are in RealMedia format. I thought I could do it with VideoHub, but it doesn't support a lot of RealMedia formats. The video converted just fine, but it converted without any audio. Ah, well, back to the drawing board.

Streaming Video to Apple TV
With the latest version of iTunes, you can now stream your photo content to your Apple TV, and it displays in a slide show with music from your iTunes library playing along with it. Unfortunately, it plays all your iTunes library, so those tracks that I have of my "Teach Yourself Gaelic" are playing along. This is turned on within your Apple TV section within iTunes, in the Photos pane.

iPhone Hacking
Yes, I admit it, I really want an iPhone. Any surprise, considering that I have been talking about Apple products for quite a while? But I don't really want a cell phone. I hate them, because it's an additional expense that is hard to justify when I have phones everywhere I go. What I really want is a PDA that can do network SIP phone work, or have Skype installed. Something like that would be perfect.

Well, as such, the iPhone would be great (if you could install Skype on it, or any SIP phone client). I honestly believe that it's on the way, and will worry about that when I finally get the funding to purchase the phone. But for now, I would just like to know that it can be activated without having to sign up for an AT&T account.

Having partly answered that question, the folks at Hackint0sh have found a way to do it. In this post here, some one found out that you can activate one phone, and then activate the other without having more than one phone number. It was all by accident, and will probably be taken care of in future releases. THey are also working on a number of hacks to open up the phones to other services. I'll be happy if they can find a way to activate the phone without having to purchase a service. This was one step.

Local Government Blues
As many of you know, I have been actively petitioning the local governments here for various things. Now, I don't expect them to actually act on the things I petition for right away. After all, I'm not that important. But I would at least like the consideration of a response, even a form letter of some sort. As of yet, I have not heard from County Mayor Peter Corroon, or West Valley City Councilman Joel Coleman. Needless to say, I'm not going to even consider voting for these men without some sort of acknowledgment of my petitions. After all, one is for the betterment of the County, the other for West Valley City.

So, that's what I have been up to this week. I would like to send out a really Happy Birthday to my good childhood friend Marc Steffensen, who is turning the bid 3-1 today. I don't know if he is reading this, but perhaps he will. Happy Birthday Marc!
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