My Tivo is dying

My poor little DirecTv HR10-250 is dying. It’s been making some weird noises for awhile now, which is never a good sign for hard drive health. Today though, it’s already frozen twice. The only fix has been to pull the plug and force a reboot. We’ve had this box for over 5 years now and it’s been working great up to this point. The HD tivos had a rep as being a bit delicate.

Apparently DirecTv and Tivo have made up after some earlier issues and are planning on releasing a new receiver in 2010, but who knows when that will be. Might have to start scrambling for an alternate content source fast since you can’t watch the first two episodes of Big Love and then just stop. Withdrawal like that can have serious health issues.

Kindle syncing

I’ve had a kindle since they first came out, I’ve loved it since day one and use it pretty much every night to read for hours on end. In the past I would leave the wireless off though. With the 1st Gen kindle you could get a lot longer battery life if you didn’t turn the wireless on. Once you were reading a book, you could read for several days without needing to connect to Amazon’s servers. Only once you had finished a book and needed to add more did you need to turn it on to sync.

A few months ago, I downloaded Amazon’s kindle app for the iPhone, more out of curiosity than anything else. Initially I just couldn’t see myself reading books on such a small screen, especially one that was backlit and would cause eye-strain. However, in the last couple weeks I’ve discovered how seamlessly Amazon has made syncing devices and reading locations. Since during the day, I pretty much always have the iPhone with me, I can just pull it out and start reading. The iPhone is perfect for the situation where you might only have a few minutes and might need to put it away very quickly. I was getting my van washed yesterday and was able to read for 5 min at the car wash. The magic happens though when you get back home, turn on your kindle and it knows to sync your reading location up to where you left off on the iPhone and vice-versa.

I’m now finding that I’m able to get even more reading done during the day. Filling in small breaks instead of waiting for a single block of reading before bed.

Things task management

Now that I’m spending a good percentage of my day chasing around a 1yr old, my brain has gone to mush. I’m finding that if there are things that I need to do and I don’t jot them down, then they don’t get done.

I was on the lookout for a really great notes/task management tool that would sync back and forth between my laptop and iPhone. I tried out several of the web based ones and Evernote(which has a desktop and iPhone app), but they never quite did exactly what I needed.

Then I found Things. It’s a bit expensive, but it got great reviews, so I thought I’d try it out. You have to purchase the desktop app and the iPhone app separately, but they work great together. Syncing whenever you have wifi turned on on the iPhone. You can quickly create notes, set them as scheduled, inbox, or whatever you want. Update them and move them around easily. The desktop app even integrates in with iCal’s todo list.

If you need a fast way to keep track of a mix of small and large things and the ability to sync back and forth from phone to laptop, I would highly recommend checking out Things.

Sharing videos from the iPhone

I’ve been attempting to sync the videos that I take on my iPhone back to my desktop mac. It appears that the normal way that Apple envisioned you doing this was to sync with iPhoto which would then download the videos to your desktop.  My problem is that I’ve got a fair of amount of infrastructure and work-flow behind using Aperture and Final Cut and syncing with iPhoto caused a lot of duplication that had to be undone by hand.

What I really wanted was to be able to just push or pull the file from my iPhone to the desktop over my local wifi. A really big first step getting there was finding the app Air Sharing.  This allows you to expose a portion of your disk on the iPhone and share it over wifi through bonjour or http. Great app, it’s got all of the controls that you need for security. Also, you can log into other servers over ssh, ftp, ftps, … browse to the file you want, and then either copy it locally or mail it off(This is great since the default iPhone is really cranky about mailing large files). You can even select to mail off an entire directory and it will make a nice zip of the directory for you before emailing it.

Air Sharing got me most of the way to where I wanted to go, but I still couldn’t figure out how to get the items that I wanted out of my Camera Roll and into the shared directory. Then I realized that when you’re in the “My Documents” area of Air Sharing and you click “Edit” and then “+” that there is an option to add from Photos. This allows you to select whatever you want from your Camera Roll and add it to the shared dir in “My Documents”.

Now when you add the iPhone as a new server in your finder, you’ll see the videos that you selected in the folder just like it was any other shared file on a remote server.

It’s time for Leo to tell Dvorack “Thanks, but no thanks”

I’ve been listening to Leo Laporte’s Podcast Network since it started and haven’t missed a TWIT in years. It’s made sense that as he’s added more specialized podcasts, that the flagship “This Week in Tech” has become more of a general tech and media show. Not exactly how I would prefer it, but I can still get the geekier stuff on FLOSS and TWIG.

My gripe though is that appears that in the last several months that John C. Dvorack has become an almost regular guest, appearing on the show pretty much every week. When Dvorack first started appearing on the show, he could tell some interesting stories about early happenings in tech and would keep things moving if the topic got too far afield. Lately though all he does is destroy any discussion that does get going. Not sure why the change happened, but he seems to only want to talk about himself and will not tolerate discussion of things that aren’t of personal interest.  His presence is completely ruining the show, to the point that if I hear him introduced I’ll move on the next podcast.

The latest TWIT is as good an example as any, every time the other guests would get into a substantial discussion on a topic, Dvorack would blunder in with some random unrelated thought that he had and derail the discussion. The beauty of podcasting is that there isn’t the time slot constraints that other mediums have, so if you find something worth discussing you can flesh it out.

I love the work that Leo does and listen to hours of his programming each week, but I’m afraid that he might have too much personal loyalty to Dvorack to see what’s happening.  I can’t imagine how Leo’s not completely burned out, but maybe as a New Year’s resolution he needs to take a fresh look at his programming and get back to basics a bit.  You just can’t lose with good guests and good discussions.