Portable DVD from Polaroid

I’m just a little bit amazed when a company with a very recognizable brand does something I don’t expect. Polaroid did that today. I recall the b-school cases on Polaroid and the auto-developing film technologies. Honestly, they were locked in my memory as ‘that’ company. However, I’ve been in the market for a portable DVD for some time now and my wife found what seemed to be a decent deal at Sam’s Club, the Polaroid PDM-0743 for $120 USD. I know Sam’s isn’t where you go to get the ‘best’ technology, but they do find deals and put them in front of cost conscious consumers.

So after roaming the primary players like CC and BB, I found myself at Sams looking at these little gems. For the money, you get a portable DVD player, case, and all the power adapters you’ll need to run at home and in a car. I’m planning a long driving vacation so I picked up a couple for the kids.

With a 7″ screen it’s not the largest viewing area available, but when I think of what it costs to put DVD permanently into a vehicle, this is a cheap way out. More experimenting to come, but so far it seems to handle commercial DVDs, home video put on DVD, JPG photo collections, as well as MPEG files just dumped onto a DVD from my PC (read anything I capture on my ATI All-In-Wonder card). I think having MP3 support would be nice, but I have a few spare Zen Nano’s around for that if the kids really need to listen to Kidz Bop #523.

HP Pavilion is HOT!!

Wow, the HP Pavilion laptop I bought my wife is HOT! NO really I mean it. It’s a great laptop from all public perspectives, but it runs like lava is pumping across the motherboard. I’ve long noticed the fan noise but thought little of it. The public response from HP was that it was a “desktop replacement” machine and they have fans too, right?

I shared one of the Google Video links and she watched it on her PC (zd7260us). It ran fine but when she walked away and let the site feed videos at the laptop it got hotter and hotter (not in the way you might be thinking). Eventually the laptop shut itself down. Attempting to restart it resulted in a shutdown part of the way into the Windows boot cycle. It did boot after about 5 minutes of cool down. I spent 15 minutes in an online chat with technical support and found I should upgrade the BIOS to “cool things down.” That seemed plausible, perhaps the BIOS upgrade would improve “fan/cooling” management. So I hit the special (secret) ftp site, downloaded the updated BIOS and applied it. After rebooting I found no effect.

I put a digital cooking thermometer in the direct path of air expelled by the fan and found that if this laptop sits on a flat surface doing anything graphics intensive (watching MPEGs!?!?!), the temperature RACES up to and passed 135 F.

However, if I prop the laptop up on a stack of 3M notes and allow airflow, it stays at an even 105 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s something wrong with a computer that can’t run Windows Media Player without a stack of sticky notes, but I think that’s a conversation to be had with the Geek Squad at the local Best Buy.

Wow, that laptop is hot.

Asian Backstreet Boys

A good friend recently looked at my blog and said, “Oh, so you’re blogging about workplace issues.” After I recoiled in horror, I realized I am focusing a bit on issues of time management and productivity. That was never my intent so let’s put that idea to rest.

Here’s a “fun friday” entry.

I’m absolutely blown away by the creativity and talent of these guys and hundreds (thousands!?) like them that are producing these videos for distribution on Google Video, You Tube, and other sites.

Backstreet Boys

Continuous Partial Attention

I’m sorry, what were we talking about? Wait a sec’ while I close down a few IMs. Oops, you still there? Did you email me on that? Hold on, my kid just walked into my office. Hey, what did the speaker just say? I was checking my Blackberry.

From the 2005 O’Reilly Supernova, Linda Stone talks about how multi-tasking has become continuous partial attention. The notes are a little rough, but you’ll get the idea.

Pop quiz. It’s okay to answer “yes” to a question even if you’re contradicting an earlier answer:

  • Technology has improved my life
  • Technology has harmed my quality of life
  • I pay full attention to people when they talk to me, when I am in meetings, when I work
  • I pay partial attention to what I’m doing and I’m scanning my devices or software for other inputs
  • Technology sets me free
  • Technology enslaves me

In 1997 I coined the phrase “continuous partial attention”. For almost two decades, continuous partial attention has been a way of life to cope and keep up with responsibilities and relationships. We’ve stretched our attention bandwidth to upper limits. We think that if tech has a lot of bandwidth then we do, too.

Great, now we’ll all need Ritalin

Author Ed Hallowell says if you’re feeling “frazzeled and overwhelmed” you might have “environmentally induced attention deficit disorder.” The good news is that he’s not prescribing Ritalin for anyone getting stressed out by the modern world, but just some time to relax and think. At least there’s no “co-payment” involved for those.

Among his Ideas

  • Don’t allow the world to have access to you 24/7
  • Set aside time to work before you check e-mail, voice mail…turn off your blackberry, cell phone
  • Stretch or have a conversation (with a person no less!)
  • Prioritize
  • Give yourself permission to end relationships and projects that drain you
  • Do what you’re good at and delegate the reset
  • Some of our best thoughts come when we’re doing nothing

Cnet News goes much more in depth in their interview of Dr. Hallowell where he describes the problem as “attention deficit trait.”

Are certain professions more susceptible to ADT?
Hallowell: I think anything in the corporate world is, particularly these days, with the forces you just mentioned of global competition. Doctors are, in their own way, because we live in a sea of data and a sea of patients and sea of paperwork. Lawyers are, in their own way, for the same reasons.
Even moms are susceptible, but it comes in a different way. They’re taking their kids from one activity to another, making all these play dates, supervising homework and supervising soccer, and doing laundry and shopping.

Star Trek Consoles and the Multi-Touch Display

This is an amazing piece of work and reminds me of the mult-function terminals in Star Trek NG and a bit like the Minority Report user interface (except no gloves). Information week describes the device.

At the O’Reilly Emerging Technology (ETech) conference in San Diego Tuesday, Jeff Han, a consulting research scientist at New York University’s Department of Computer Science, demonstrated a multi-touch system that he insists “will change the way people interact with computers.”

(update 2015 – replace video)

Too Wired at TIME

Of all places to talk about multitasking and technology, TIME Magazines March 27 issue goes in depth on generation M (multitasking), their use of technology, and the impact on their skills, lives, and families. While I’ll assume they’re playing the kid-card, as in “think about the children!”, primarily to get the attention of already nervous parents, much of what they’ve pulled together is as applicable to the generation before as it is to today’s teens.

On Multitasking in General

“Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Decades of research (not to mention common sense) indicate that the quality of one’s output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks.”

On How Our Brains Multitask

“ALTHOUGH MANY ASPECTS OF THE networked life remain scientifically uncharted, there’s substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn’t.”

Inevitable Hello World

PPC Hello WorldIt’s required. Really, I had to do it.

With a few minutes of idle time, a PPC-6700, and a copy of Visual Studio .NET, here’s what you get.

Anyone that has taken even a passing interest in programming will recognize it for what it is and what it isn’t (useful, interesting, exciting).

But as I said, it’s required and at least it was a quick way to get used to the build and install process for PocketPC applications. I’d like to think it’s the start of a grand development project, but grand development projects take ideas and a little more familiarity with the platform. I have a few ideas, but will need to take a few weeks to learn what I can and can’t do with a PocketPC and VS.

Console Price Drops

dollar sign In recent years the big three console makers are pretty consistent in their pricing strategies with Playstation 2 taking an early lead and launching at $299, Xbox (original) following at the same price a year later, and Nintendo GC coming in as the value player. Price drops seem to occur during the first half of the year around the time of E3.


Console Prices at Launch and Drop Points







2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
PlayStation 2 $299 $299 $199 $179 $149
Xbox n/a $299 $199 $179 $149
GameCube n/a $199 $199 $99 $99

In the last generation of consoles, the PS2 launched at a higher price point than the SEGA Dreamcast the year before but brought superiour technology to the table and got away with it. SEGA found themselves shown the door quickly and exited the business. At the time everyone was fighting the 900 lb gorilla known as Nintendo.
Since then, Microsoft followed Sony’s PS2 price with [slightly] better technology in 2001. Each price drop for either MS or Sony has been matched by the other while Nintendo stays below them both in the value category (possibly due to the GC being ONLY a game platform and not playing DVDs).