Category: General

I have posted on numerous occasions about the ongoing conflict between two competing standards for high definition DVD: HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. The problem was like the battle between Beta and VHS all over again with two incompatible and competing standards duking it out. The net result was bad for everyone as the conflict confused consumers and slowed adoption of this next generation technology. The two competing technologies were supported by Toshiba and Sony respectively.

The big news is that Toshiba recently announced the end of HD-DVD. (Here is an article from Forbes.) This means that we are left with one standard, Blu-Ray.  Anyone who purchased an HD-DVD player is out of luck as they will go the way of the Betamax.  The good news is that this should accelerate adoption of high definition movies since the battle is over and there is no longer confusion over which format to support.

Drobo

Someone I know recently indicated that he had a Drobo and had very good things to say about the device. A quick review of the site indeed confirms that it looks to be a very cool product.  Basically, it is a box that allows you to plugin up to 4 hard drives and it handles copying your data between the hard drives to protect your information.  The coolest thing is that it allows drives of all sizes to work together in the same box.  You can dynamically add or remove drives which allows you to use drives of different sizes or geometries.  Very cool.

A word of caution, the product is prohibitively expensive at $499 for just the enclosure!  This does not include any hard drives and so those will cost extra.  The real deal killer in my opinion is that it does not support Linux.  As I have posted before, I am a Linux guy and use Linux as my primary OS for my servers.  It is frustrating to me that a device like that doesn’t Linux.  Additionally, the high cost makes it tough to justify the investment when you can buy a USB 2 enclosure for <$100 and thus can have a full software RAID system including  drives for less than the cost of an empty Drobo.

This is not to say that the Drobo is not a cool product, but rather that it is missing key functionality (e.g. Linux support) and is over priced.  It would be killer if these two issues were resolved and since this is rev 1 of the product, I am hoping that they fix this in future revisions.

If you are a less sophisticated with a key focus on Windows and a bit of a storage budget, this would be a great solution. 

More Politics

It was interesting this AM.  The Today show had a whole segment on Barack Obama and talked about how he is strong on rhetoric, but weak on actual content.  Clearly he is a talented speaker, but how long can you continue on with limited concrete content?  Matt Lauer asked Obama this question and Obama claimed that he was would be adding in more real content.

The biggest irony is that right after the statement about more content, Matt Lauer asked the following: "The Republican platform revolves around tax cuts, small government and security, how would you define your platform?"  This is where it gets most interesting.  Rather than providing concrete examples like the republicans, he made some vague remarks about "caring government" and other completely BS remarks.  It sounds so typical with the previous point where he just talked and provided no real content.  For me, that was just a perfect example of him providing nothing concrete and just saying what he thinks people want to here.

It will be interesting to see what concrete things he begins to say.  Note that I am not sure if any of the other candidates are all that much better.

Politics

I find the whole presidential primary situation interesting.  Before all of this started, if you had looked at the candidates, I would have thought that McCain would have his hands full with the various republican contenders and that Clinton would have had less competition given her political pedigree and connections.

I just find it so interesting that the ongoing situation is completely different.  McCain has basically won the Republican nomination and Clinton is battling for her life with Obama.  Obama has a certain easy going and confidence inducing quality that has led to a ground swell of support.  Of course, the race is not nearly over on the Democratic side.  Clinton has many allies and lots of experience in campaigns.  (Between herself and Bill).  It will be interesting to see what they try to pull to overcome Obama’s lead.

The latest news had suggested that the races in Ohio and Texas are key and if Obama wins either one, then it is done.  My understanding is that Clinton is way ahead on Ohio which leads to Texas.

Regardless of your political leaning, you have to agree that this spectacle unravelling is very interesting.

Legal MP3 Downloads

I was jsut perusing the Internet and noticed that Amazon.com offers legal MP3 downloads. You have to pay per song, but the result files are true DRM-free MP3’s.  These are files that will play on any music player.  iTunes does offer DRM free music, but they mix in both types and so you have to be very careful when choosing what to buy.

My frustration with iTunes DRM is that it limits you from playing the tunes on any device other than those that work with iTunes.  (e.g. iPods)  My attitude is: "I bought the music and should be able to play it on any device."  The only way you can be 100% certain to do so is by downloading music in MP3 format which is a universally accepted standard.  This very fact has prevented me from purchasing anything from iTunes because I do not want to support their proprietary DRM.

The beauty of the Amazon approach is that the music is indeed DRM free and can play on any device.  The purchase process is actually quite simple for individual songs although one review indicated that you need to download and install Amazon software to download an entire album.  My interest is more in individual songs and so I do not believe that this is a true limiatation.  I suggest that you check it out.