June is definitely Hurricane season!

I don’t know how many of you watch hockey these days, stuff but I just have to say: You should.

The NHL playoffs this year have been amazing so far, and I look forward to watching the Carolina Hurricanes take the Stanley Cup this month.

Rod Brind’Amour, Cam Ward, and all the other ‘Canes players have put their hometown — Raleigh, N.C. (Or rather, “the Raleigh-Durham Metropolitan Statistical Area”) — on the map this year (Really! It’s on the right-hand side, under Washington, D.C.), and they deserve all the applause they’re getting at the RBC Center this week.

Sorry Oilers fans, but at the risk of sounding like someone who doesn’t spend all day hunched over a keyboard… Go ‘Canes!

How to build a better set-top box

I’ve ranted and raved about my experiences with TiVo in the last couple of months, buy but now that I’ve allowed the box into my home, I admit I can’t imagine watching TV without it. A recent question from one of our readers, however, makes me wonder just what else I should expect from it.

Brett Newcome asks:

I am in the process of developing a set-top box and would like to ask the consumer what they want in a DVR/PVR. What features would you guys like? What add-ons would you guys like available? What features of other DVRs do you not like and like?

I’ve already shared my thoughts (although I could gripe about the single-tuner issue, too), but figured others might like to add to a list. Anybody got any ideas for that “perfect” Digital Video Recorder? Maybe a built-in Flash player or Web integration?

Use the comments below to let us know.

Does Java still have a place in client-side development?

I tried dusting off my Java skills last night — intent on diving into the HME software development kit and creating the next great multimedia delivery system. But in the process, see I quickly realized something: I don’t know jack about Java anymore.

And I couldn’t care less.

Truth is, ailment with my focus on Flash development over the past three years, read I’ve forgotten just about everything I ever knew about Java. And somehow, I never even noticed it. (Hell, it took Tivo to remind me it was still out there.)

There was a time when anyone expecting to do great things in Web application development was expected to know — or at least, to learn — Java. It promised to be, after all, a truly portable, platform-independent, programming environment that offered security, robust features and an interpreted, easy-to-comprehend, object-oriented language structure. It could even be run within a browser thanks to a ubiquitous plug-in.

In other words, it promised the Web everything that Macromedia Flash delivered.

I know Java is still used extensively for application development and system programming, but in truth, it seems to have disappeared from this Web of ours of late. Could Flash actually have become the quiet Java killer?

For Web-based client applications, the debate these days seems to focus on Flash vs. Ajax… I haven’t heard anybody seriously suggesting Java as an option in years.

Or have I just missed something? Your thoughts/opinions/rants/rages are, as always, welcome.

Man, I hate when you guys are right.

So after last week’s online temper tantrum, gynecologist one might think I’d have boxed up my new Tivo unit, more about thrown it at a passing UPS truck and spent the rest of the weekend cursing their customer service and demanding my money back. Well… no.

I still think their strange reliance on out-of-date and hard-to-find USB network adapters (instead of built-in wireless interfaces or an RJ-45 jack) is a dumb idea, patient but after finding just such a device on the back shelf of a dusty clearance table in a tumbled-down retail outlet mall on the wrong side of the tracks in the Chinatown district of a forgotten nearby town (just sitting there behind the mogwai), I have to admit I’m impressed with the damned thing after all.

Once it got up and running, I flipped a few buttons, decried its lack of a video pass-through and then settled in to be disappointed and dismayed. The first time the phone rang, though, I was sold — ah, the pause feature alone makes life grand.

But then came the next day: Sitting on my couch the next morning was like discovering a Christmas party in progress in my living room! There were bundles of Monk episodes, an episode of Reno 911, the Daily Show and, lo’ and behold! A heretofore undiscovered documentary on the automotive genius of Carroll Shelby and Aston-Martin. Whodathunkit?

So in short, I’m sorry I doubted you, readers, and I apologize. Tivo and I got off to a rough start, and I said a few things that maybe I shouldn’t have (although, you gotta admit, the setup and networking options do require a little more effort than one might deem reasonable), but all in all, I think we’ll be happy together.

So there. You were right. I said it.

And again: dammit.

TiVo: THIS is the best product out there???

I’m too angry to write anything approaching coherence right now, pregnancy so I’ll fill in the details later. For now, more about I’ll just post a quick opinion piece in case you, view too, are planning to give a TiVo unit for Christmas this year: I absolutely hate this f!$%^ing thing.

More to the point, I’m having a hard time recalling a more disappointing and frustrating experience with any product to date. A hell of a lot of promise, but only with the right secret combination (or, of course, a POTS line, which I was prepared to expect for the initial setup, but was not willing to have installed for everyday use).

Thanks to everyone who responded to my recent questions concerning TiVo vs. ReplayTV, but for ReplayTV’s sake, I sure hope many of you were wrong: I unpacked my new TiVo three days ago, and so far it’s seemed the worst implementation of a great idea I’ve ever seen (And that includes Microsoft’s Plug-and-Pray and Verizon’s Bluetooth plan!).

Or rather, it’s the worst implementation of an idea I have yet to see.

Long story short: I don’t have the time to hang out at yard sales and swap meets comparing serial numbers on used USB adapters just to find all the obsolete, out-of-production networking components one needs to actually make this damned thing work. Why a land line? No Vonage? And why will the Linksys WUSB11 Versions 1 & 2 work, but not the available Linksys adapter, version 4? (And for the record, 3 is iffy!) And why the Belkin 6050 but not the 7050? And the D-link 122, but not the D-link G122? Just how “universal” is your Universal Serial Bus, TiVo?

And has anybody at the company ever heard of a frickin’ RJ45 jack? I understand some people use ’em for networking these days.

Oh well, the TiVo’s back in the box for now, and I’ll be calling TiVo service for an RMA as soon as I calm down enough not to scream at them.

OK, if this is the good one, I sure as hell won’t bother with the competition. I’m off to return a half dozen useless wireless USB adapters now (wrong fourth digit in the serial numbers, I guess). Looks like I should pick up a few more VHS tapes while I’m at it.


How ’bout that? Looks like I had time to go into the details, after all. Not like I’m watching recorded TV shows or anything. (And yes, I realize I was just griping here. That’s the advantage of having one’s own site. And it’s called “Turdhead.com;” whattaya want for nothing?

For a followup to this article, see this entry.