Thursday, May 20, 2004

VoIP regulation shelters

So NYS ruled today to regulate Vonage. This means that me and several other NYS Vonage customers will probably find ourselves with slightly higher phone bills in the next few months. But let me toss this morsel out at you - who can be taxed by this?

Do I get taxed if the billing address on my service is in New York state? What if I have phone number with a NYS area code? With Vonage, I can technically live in New Jersey, but have a NYC number, or I can live in NY, and get billed in NY, but actually have a California phone number. Who gets taxed?

In theory it is difficult to trace where exactly on the Internet a call is made from - what if I buy service in New Jersey, but then plug my box into a broadband connection in New York? My phone number and billing address are in NJ, but the calls are being placed from NYC!!!!! I honestly don't think that even if the state were to require Vonage to track it, that they would be able to get an accurate detailed account of where all the calls were being made from.

I wonder how this will play out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


A company called SoniqCast is apparently putting out an MP3 player that syncs via Wi-Fi, and doesn't need any cables. I am curious to see how well it sells. It is priced at $300 - a little bit on the high-end for a 1.5GB player, but it can also take an SD card for addtional memory as well and boasts and FM tuner.

Interesting, no? I wonder how long it will take before the market is flooded with wi-fi compatible devices.

What would be cool, is if I buy a Pulver's WiSiP phone and I could get it to pre-empt my music when a call came in.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Blog Spam

I like having comments open on my blog. I think that it's a great idea, and fosters the natural development of discussion. Granted, I don't get that many visitors or commentors, but I noticed a troubling phenomenon.

Over the past few days, I have had porn site operators link my site to theirs by posting in the comments. Not only do I find this annoying, but it may also somehow cause my site to be associated with pornography by google, or other search engines and/or content filters. I guess because of the proliferation of anti-spam software, blogs are the next spam targets.

Oh well.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Liking the new Printer

After finally getting to print pictures on my 'all-in-one', thinking that if I used the right paper I would get pictures that looked as if they had truly come from a photo lab.

Apparently this was not the case, so I went to best buy and exchanged it for another model - the Epson RX500 Photo All-in-one. The difference is dramatic. It's amazing to think that if one of those Fotomat drive-by huts still existed, they could probably do all of the processing there itself.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Megapixels make a Mega Difference

Mikey and Mommy

When I was looking to buy a camera a couple of months ago, I decided that for the buck, I would get the most value out of a 3 Megapixel Camera. But then I got lucky and found a 5 Megapixel DSC-P92 from Sony at a great price. And I much appreciate the greater level of detail in the shots (Even though a 5MP generates a considerably larger file size).

You see (for those of you that don't know) think of a pixel as a single, microscopic dot of color and shape in a picture. It is easy to imagine that an entire picture has millions of them. 1 Million pixels=1 Megapixel. Therefore a 4x6print taken at 5MP has much more detail and is much richer than one taken at 3MP. But that's not to say that a 3MP photo isn't of high-quality, it just means that:

  • You get a much richer image from a 5MP printed on the same size as a 3MP
  • A 5MP picture can be printed in a much larger size with the same level of quality
  • For a smaller print, you can chop, crop, and blow up a 5MP image and get the quality of a 3MP print

I guess the picture at the right proves the level of quality of a 5MP camera.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Acceptable Anamolies

A friend of mine recently bought a laptop directly from the manufacturer. It was a very high-end laptop with all of the bells and whistles, including wireless, etc., and he paid a premium for it. When the laptop arrives it had a couple of dead pixels. No sweat, right? Just call up customer service and they'll replace it for you. WRONG!

Several attempts into getting Cust. Serv. to replace it for him all ended up with a response of "Sorry, but that is considered an acceptible anomaly" He checked around, and as it turns out, he discovered that most manufacturers will not exchange a laptop with less than half a dozen dead pixels. I guess they claim that Q/A is too hard to get that level of quality.

The irony is, if you bought the same device from a big reatil chain, you could have brought it back in without any hassles for an exchange. I bought a camera and printer back in January. I specifically bought it then to take advantage of a rebate offer, but I didn't start to print pictures until recently. I was going to by it from a smaller regional retailer, but I got a national chain to price-match, and I bought it there instead. I noticed that the print quality sucked. So I called the store. They told me that I could talk to the manager and if he felt it was justified, I could get a refund or an exchange for the printer.

The fact that 90+ days post-purchase that they would even consider this is a testimony to their effort on customer service. I guess maybe that the difference between the big chains and the manufacturer direct sales and their respective approaches to customer services reflect the fact that if the manufacturers lose out on the retail business, they are still generating revenue from sales to retailers. While the retailers want you to be a lifelong customer. Because if you leave, who will buy from them?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

My latest project

So my wife and I have bought this new entertainment center for our living room. This lovely piece of Mission Style furniture will replace our old setup of a TV stand with plastic gates around the base to delay our son from playing with the DVD player and VCR (We thought it would stop him, but nothing stops Mitch). Combine this with the fact that my son keeps scratching CDs, I decided that I want to hook up the Dell Digital Audio Receiver (Made by Rio/Soniblue) to my home network and put that into the new Entertainment center.

That, of course, requires me to extend wi-fi network to their as well. I am currently trying to accquire the necessary Buffalo Technologies 802.11G equipment to upgrade the whole house. At the end of the day, I will have:

  1. A Router connected to my Cable Modem
  2. A Bridge/Repeater set up in my Entertainment center that will both connect wired ethernet devices in my home to the WLAN as well as boost signal strength in the front part of the house.
  3. Digital Audio!!

    I think I might write an Article when it's done.

Another reason that Technology Rocks

My wife was on the phone with me, complaining about not knowing where the Jewel cases for the CD's that I needed to return to the library were. While I was on the phone, I just went to our library's web site and renewed them online.


Monday, May 03, 2004

Two Interesting Computer Security Holes...

I want to shed some light on two computer security holes - one that I just learned about, the other that I have been harping on for some time:

  1. A new way to send pop-ups and defeat blocker tools Although the vast majority of Pop-up blockers do well against standard pop-up windows, some of them have learned how to exploit the window.showModalDialog() command in Javascript that is supported by IE (And I believe only IE) in versions 5+. What's even more annoying, you need to actually close or click in the window as it holds your browser hostage.

  2. I have often raved about the fact that many people don't bother to change ANY of the default settings on their wireless router - including the administrator password. Therefore, with information that you can glean off of wardriving (the make and model of an open Wireless AP) and the Internet (the default admin passwords are usually printed in the user's manual, most of which are available on-line from the manufacturer's website) a malicious user can now assume control of your AP - even lock you out of it at their own will.

    The new scary premise - they can use this to modify firmware and upload spyware into your ap.