This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Friday, December 31, 2004
HTPC Case Roundup
AnandTech has a 13-page roundup of the best HTPC cases. Of the four models covered, I think I like the Ahanix D.Vine 5. It has a really clean look that most resembles the case of a home theater component.

Of course, I went the cheap route when I built my HTPC last year, so I've got the boring black Dell PowerEdge case. However, I got the basic system from Dell for about the same price as the Ahanix case.

If you're looking to drop $200 on an HTPC, check out the roundup here.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The BitTorrent Effect
WIRED has a really interesting article on BitTorrent and its creator Bram Cohen. In addition to providing a little history about the idea behind BT, it goes into the problems (and some possible solutions) it poses for TV networks and movie studios.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Meedio plugins: MBM & MeeFreeSpace
I've installed a couple more Meedio plugins that I really like.

Motherboard Monitor 5
The Motherboard Monitor 5 plugin allows you to check things from the MBM app, like CPU temperature, case temperature, fan speeds, etc., directly from within Meedio. Very handy for nerds like me who like to keep up with such things. See a screenshot.

MeeFreeSpace
The MeeFreeSpace plugin allows you to check much hard drive space you have available. This is very helpful when you have 3 hard drives like I do. MeeFreeSpace will show you the about of space available, the % of the drive you have available and how many hours of video you can store among other stats. See a screenshot.
Maxim's 'Stache Off

Because he is always looking out for ways to glorify sMoRTy71, my friend Pat alerted me of a mustache contest being held by Maxim magazine. They are looking for cheesy 70s-style mustaches that drive the ladies wild (I made up that last part, but it is true nonetheless). Well, look no further, Maxim. Mustachio is on the case.

I sent in two photos this morning: the powerful wide shot and the passionate close-up seen above.

If you want to take on Mustachio, send your 'stache to mustache@maximmag.com.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Another Christmas in the books
Whew! Christmas is over for another year (and I couldn't be happier about that). The kids had a blast; however, as usual, we bought the kids way too much stuff. I was still putting stuff together up until a few minutes ago.

I picked up a 300 GB hard drive for my media server, the Arrested Development DVD set, some blank DVD-Rs, some pajamas and other assorted goodies.

This morning, Amy, the kids and I dropped off some clothes, coats, toys and food for the Wayside Family Mission down on Market Street. There were several families spending Christmas there so hopefully they were able to put the stuff to good use. We always donate a ton of stuff to Goodwill throughout the year; however, it felt really good to actually deliver the stuff in person.

I uploaded a buttload of photos to Flickr over the past couple of days. You can check out our Christmas 2004 photo set here.
Friday, December 24, 2004
Woot's NBA "Build a Brawl"
Today's Woot! item (and its description) is one of the funniest I've ever seen. It is for a LEGO NBA set; however, Woot! presents it as the LEGO "Build a Brawl." In the photo, they have recreated the Detroit-Indianapolis slugfest with tiny LEGO men.

Here is their description:
"Darth Vader. Doctor Octopus. Lord Voldemort. Each of these depraved monsters has been immortalized as a stumpy-limbed, unbearably cute LEGO figure. Now, LEGO gazes into the maw of evil itself with the most malignant cabal of villainy yet: the National Basketball Association! Add an undercurrent of stark terror to your holiday with this arena of doom, complete with ten adorable LEGO renderings of actual NBA miscreants.

That Detroit brawl was nothing; stage your own bloody assaults and send your other LEGO figures stampeding over each other in unthinking, animal horror. Ron Artest and Ben Wallace figures are not included in this set, but true violence junkies are encouraged to customize their own. The NBA: where men are babies and fans are scared!

Note: To recreate riot scenes like ours will take embarrassing amounts of cash spent on extra Lego sets, and far more time than you should really be spending on such childish pursuits. Again, don’t expect to get pirates, skeletons, or monkeys."


In the product disclaimer, they add "Do not throw tiny foam cups at the tiny LEGO players." See the set in action here.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Happy Festivus!
First of all, let me just wish everyone a Happy Festivus. May you have a wonderful time gathered round your pole with friends and family.

Second, I have a lot of problems with you people! You have been a big disappointment this year. But this is not the time nor the place for the Airing of Grievances.

And, finally, I have made a very generous donation in your name to the Human Fund - Money for People.

BTW, The New York Times has a full history of the Festivus holiday here.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Snow day!

Well, it looks like my Festivus holiday is going to get started a little bit early. Thanks to a winter storm, our offices are closing at 12PM today (although I will be diligently working from home). So I won't be back in the office until January 4th. Sweet! Now I just have to make it home in the storm.
Holiday time-killer: 20Q
Because my office closes down the week after Christmas, I generally have a lot of time on my hands during the Holidays. I just read about a device, called the 20Q, that should help those tryptophan-laden hours melt away.

20Q is a little handheld device that attempts to guess, within 20 questions, any object that you can think of. It is supposedly creepy in its accuracy. It retails for between $10 and $20. See a photo of the 20Q here.

There is also a web-based version of 20Q at 20Q.net. I gave it a try this morning and it was able to guess my object (a booger) in 19 questions. Here is the 20Q output from my question session.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Shameless TiVo Rewards appeal
OK, I've had my TiVo for about 3 1/2 year now. Over those 3 1/2 years, I've told tons and tons of people about how great TiVo is. Unfortunately, I hadn't signed up for TiVo Rewards at the time of all of that great word-of-mouth advertising, so I have nothing to show for it.

Now, with the Festivus season upon us, I am making a shameless appeal for any of my loyal reader(s) who decide to buy a TiVo to use me as their referral. It is really very simple. You just mention my e-mail address (smorty71 at gmail dot com) when you activate your TiVo service.

If I get 4 referrals, I can get a TiVo-branded 20GB iPod like this. And a referral is a hell of a lot cheaper than a Christmas gift, right?
Meedio plugins: Netflix & Launch
I installed a couple of new plugins for Meedio that are really pretty cool.

One is a Netflix Importer. It allows you to view your Queue, Recommendations list, Top 100 list and New Releases list in Meedio. The importer works by using the RSS feeds that Netflix generates for each user account. Just snag the ID string from the end of your Netflix RSS feeds then paste that into the importer. In addition to the movie title, the importer grabs the cover art, too.

The other one is the Launch Videos plugin. It allows you to import the path to all of the videos on launch.yahoo.com by genre. So if you want to have access to Rock, R&B and Rap videos, for example, you simply check the box next to those genres. The importer then downloads all the paths. When you combine the Launch Videos plugin with the meeMusicVideos plugin, you can create a playlist of music videos.
Monday, December 20, 2004
MeetTheNeighbors.org
I stumbled across another social networking site today and this one looks like it could be kind of interesting. It is MeetTheNeighbors.org.

As the name suggests, the purpose of MTN is to allow people to set up a small online community that facilitates and manages interaction with that real-life offline community known as your "neighborhood."

From its tagline "Who is under your roof?," it appears that the site is more gear toward urban apartment dwellers. However, it does have options for those of use living in suburbia.

I've set up my neighborhood as a test; however, I may try it out and see if anyone else is interested. It seems like a good way to organize events or find people with similar interests to hang out with. We've lived in our neighborhood for just over 3 years and we only know a handful of our neighbors. My neighborhood's code is 58a7da in case you want to check it out.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
FFL: I'm going to lose & I deserve it
OK, I know the games aren't over yet; however, I am going to lose (and it's all my fault).

Being the savvy coach that I am, I picked up Tennessee QB Billy Volek who had had two monster games in a row. Unfortunately, being the dumbass coach, I benched Brett Favre in favor of... Brian Griese! Griese had been playing really well and had the best matchup of the three. Unfortunately Griese scored 8 points while Volek scored 45!!! Yes, 45 points. That is a ridiculous amount of Fantasy points.

As of this writing, Pedro's pitiful team, which I've already beaten twice, has only scored 46 points with 6 players having already played. The mighty 12-1-1 sMoRTy71 team has 21 points with 4 players having already played. So, the Volek bungle should cost me the game and end my season.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Playroom update
For the past 6 months or so, I've been slowly (very slowly) converting part of our basement into a playroom for the kids. Originally, this part of the basement was one large room; however, last year, my dad and I built a wall to separate it into an office for me and a playroom. The playroom area is roughly 400 sq. ft.

The boys chose a Buzz Lightyear color scheme, so I've spent much of the past few months painting. Walls are Star Command Blue. Doors and facings are Orange Blast. Molding is Laser Beam Green. Baseboards are Code Red.

Today, I was able to install some shelves and add the storage bins I picked up at IKEA. I plan on finishing up the rest over the holiday break (our offices are closed between Christmas and New Year's Day).

You can see some photos of my progess at Flickr.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Social Networking meta list
I am currently working on a lot of online community and social networking stuff at work, so I read a lot of RSS feeds and blogs on the subject.

Today, the Social Software Weblog updated its Social Networking services meta list. It is a really handy reference for anyone interested in building online communities and social networks. The list is broken into 9 categories like "business networking sites," "dating sites" and "photo sharing emphasis sites."

I knew everybody and their brother seemed to be building social networking apps; however, I didn't know there were so many already up and running. There have got to be over 100 listed. I think the only one that I use is Flickr.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Got a Netflix Friends invite

The Friends tab on Netflix

I finally got an invite to the Netflix Friends feature. Now when I view movies on the Netflix site, I will see the ratings of people on my Friends list.

It is kind of interesting (and kind of weird) to see what movies people you actually know have watched and what they think of them. It gets really interesting when you have multiple friends with very different opinions about the same movie.

I can see myself wasting a lot of time with this feature. BTW, if anyone would like to get a Friends invite, shoot me an e-mail.
Firefox ad in NYT
The Mozilla Foundation has placed a 2-page ad in the New York Times that was paid for partly with donations from Firefox users. In fact, one page of the ad features the name of every person who made a donation.

The ad reads "Are you fed up with your web browser? You're not alone. We want you to know that there is an alternative."

Check out the Mozilla press release here. Also, you can check out the ad here.
Wal-Mart's iLo brand
All of the gadget-related sites are abuzz with the new iLo brand of electronics that Wal-Mart has quietly been rolling out since May.

After checking out Walmart.com (since I hate going to the actual store), I am really surprised at the price of their products, especially considering the features they include.

For example, the iLo DVDR04 is a DVD recorder that has component video outputs, digital audio outputs and a FireWire input for $149. That's really cheap!

They also carry another model of DVD recorder that features an 80GB hard drive for $278.

The biggest knock I have against iLo, besides consumer perception of the quality of Wal-Mart products, is the look of the products. They definitely don't have a high-end look to them. But I guess I shouldn't expect that for something that costs $150.

I'm very tempted to pick up one of the DVDR04s just to try it out. Or...one of my loyal readers could pick one up from my Froogle Wish List.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Firefox tweaks
I stumbled upon this link after reading an article on HackADay.com. It lists a couple of ways to speed up Firefox. Even though, I was already satisfied with the performance of FF (especiallu compared to IE), these changes made a noticeable difference.

1. Open Firefox 1.0 and in the address bar type: about:config
2. Find network.http.pipelining and double click on it so it = true
3. Find network.http.pipelining.maxrequests double click on it and change it from 4 to 100
Motely Crue's back
As many of my early readers remember I was (and, technically, still am) reading "The Dirt - Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band." So it should come as no surprise that I have a special place in my formerly-hair-metal heart for "the Crue."

So tonight, just for a few minutes, I was able to flashback to junior high and high school (when I still had hair) while watching them perform together on the SpikeTV Video Game Awards (I TiVoed it. I'm not that big of a loser!). They actually didn't sound too bad for a bunch of 40-something guys in leather pants.

I am willing to bet that the tour ends prematurely, though. After reading much of their book, there is no way they will be able to get along.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
EA is the devil!
First of all, let me say that I love football video games (love 'em!). For all of the consoles I've ever purchased (Nintendo NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega Dreamcast, XBOX), it was a football game that sealed the deal - Tecmo Bowl, Super Tecmo Bowl, NFL2K, NFL2K2.

Without football video games, I would probably not be the gamer I am today (damn, I feel like there should have been some cheesy political campaign music playing in the background when I typed that).

Of all the football games I've played, the ones made by Sega (and now ESPN) were always my favorite. I believe I own all of the 2K series games of NFL games. The recent price drop to $19.99 for the 2K5 games almost made it too good to be true.

Now, it turns out that EA, the makers of the inferior Madden series of football games, has made an exclusive deal with the NFL that shuts out all other publishers of NFL games! That means that no one, other than EA, can make a video game using NFL teams, players or stadiums!

I guess EA figured that if they can't create a better product than the competition, they can find other ways to eliminate them. Unfortunately, even with no other NFL games on the market, Madden still won't be the best.
MPAA v. BitTorrent trackers
WIRED is reporting that the MPAA has filed suit against several BitTorrent tracker server owners in an effort to stop the trading of copyrighted material.

Although tracker servers don't host any illegal or pirated files, they do point users to the location of the those files. The MPAA claims that pointing to the files is a enough to be deemed illegal.

Following that kind of logic in the real world would mean that you could be arrested for pointing to a prostitute and yelling, "Hey, there is a prostitute over there!" Right? I mean, prostitution is illegal and I just pointed at a prostitute.

With a recent study estimating that BitTorrent accounts for 35% (come on, can that be right?!) of all internet traffic, the outcome of this case should be of interest to a lot of people.

In addition to outlining the MPAA's complaint, the article provides a great overview to how BitTorrent works.
FFL: Playoff matchups
Now that the Monday Night Football game is wrapped up, the four FFL playoff teams have been determined:

#1 seed: sMoRTy71 (12-1-1) 2nd in Power ranking
#2 seed: SF Reamers (8-4-2) 1st in Power ranking
#3 seed: Big Blue Bombers (8-6) 7th in Power ranking
#4 seed: Big Bitchsmacker (8-6) 3rd in Power ranking

According to the FFL rules, #1 plays #4 and #2 plays #3. So, for the second straight week, I will be playing Pedro Espinoza's Big Bitchsmacker team. This schedule is supposed to reward the overall #1 team by placing them up against the Wild Card; however, the #3 seed is actually the worst team in the playoffs (You hear that, Bryan? Your team sucks!).

So, I will have to defeat 2 of the top 3 teams in the league to claim the FFL title this year. In addition to the title, that would also give me an 11-game winning streak (and a 1-year free pass to trash talk the other teams in my league).
Monday, December 13, 2004
Netflix: 1 week in
As I mentioned last week, I started a Netflix trial in order to test out some of the social networking features they've added (Friends). Unfortunately, the feature isn't available to all members yet. In the meantime, I have been able to watch a sh!tload of movies.

In the first week of my trial, I have received 5 movies with one currently on the way. So far, I've had "Slacker," "Fahrenheit 911," "Before Sunset," "Spider-Man 2" and "Dodgeball." The spelling bee documentary "Spellbound" is currently on the way.

I mailed back two of the aforementioned movies this morning, so I should have "City of God" and "Elephant" tomorrow or Wednesday.

At this rate, I could get about 20 movies per month (for $18). Sweet! I need more hard dri- uh, never mind.
Meedio, "broomstiks" & "peanut buter"

As my loyal reader(s) know, I've been longing for a complete HTPC front end application that allows me to do everything with a single remote control.

This weekend, I got a very strange e-mail from Meedio, a maker of HTPC apps. Their Meedio Essentials software, which is based on the formerly free myHTPC, claims to be the answer I've been looking for - customizable interface, all remoted based, web browser, RSS, etc.

Anyway, the e-mail was from a meedio.com address; however, it was clear from the message that it was not an "official" e-mail. First, it mentioned something about abuse with a "broomstik" and "peanut buter"" (I'm assuming that "the peanut buter" was used as lubricant?). Second, it provided a username and registration key for the $60 app.

Being a responsible internet citizen who doesn't advocate piracy, you can probably guess what I did next. That's right, I downloaded the trial version of the software as fast as I could and activ- Uh, this part really doesn't have anything to do with the story, so I'll move on.

Within a few hours, another e-mail arrived from the same info@meedio.com address. It explained that some unscrupulous individual had accessed their forum messaging tool and sent the unauthorized e-mail. I disregarded that mail because I was too busy enjoying the free trial (you didn't think I used that key, did you?) of Meedio Essentials.

It looks like Meedio Essentials is the app I've been waiting for. It allows me to access all of my MP3s, ripped DVDs, photos, weather info, RSS feeds (requires plugin) and email (requires plugin) using just my Firefly remote. It also displays the CD and DVD cover art so I can browse using those thumbnails. Plus, it is completely skinable. Some of the available themes mimic Windows Media Center Edition and the TiVo interfaces.


This is a screenshot from Meedio's website (These are not my movies!)

You can check out more screenshots at meedio's site. They have a free 15-day trial here.
FFL: sMoRTy71 110, Bitchsmacker 93

I finished off the regular season yesterday with a win over Pedro Espinoza's Big Bitchsmacker team. The win puts my record at 12-1-1 which is a personal best for me in the 5 years I've been playing.

As with the past 6 weeks or so, I won without Priest Holmes who was placed on IR for the remainder of the season. I had hoped to have him back for the playoffs.

Speaking of the playoffs, the 3 other playoff spots were up for grabs this week; however, it looks like Bill Johnston's SF Reamers, Bryan Peabody's Big Blue Bombers and Pedro's Big Bitchsmacker will be the teams who make it.

I'm not sure how the playoff schedule will work out, but the Reamers are the only one of the playoff teams that I failed to beat (we tied 93 - 93 in Week 5).
Friday, December 10, 2004
ABCs of Google Suggest
Someone over at /. ran each letter of the alphabet through Google Suggest. Here are the results:

A is for Amazon
B is for Best Buy
C is for CNN
D is for Dictionary
E is for Ebay
F is for Firefox
G is for Games
H is for Hotmail
I is for Ikea
J is for Jokes
K is for Kazaa
L is for Lyrics
M is for Mapquest
N is for News
O is for Online dictionary
P is for Paris Hilton
Q is for Quotes
R is for Recipes
S is for Spybot
T is for Tara Reid
U is for Ups
V is for Verizon
W is for Weather
X is for Xbox
Y is for Yahoo
Z is for Zip Codes
Google Suggest filters profanity
PLEASE NOTE: This post contains explicit language, so stop reading if you can't handle explicit language

Google has launched yet another beta feature. Google Suggest enhances the basic Google search interface by trying to guess what you are searching for as you type your query. It is basically like the AutoComplete feature in Windows.

As I was testing out the suggestions list, I did notice that Google has censored the list so they don't offer suggestions for profanity (and other related words). So far, I've found that suggestions for sex, porn, f*ck, p*ssy, c*cksucker, motherf*cker, blowjob (although "bl*w job" is OK), oral and anal (those last two seem like they would have lots of legitimate results) are being censored.

There are some others that are censored; however, I would look like too much of a sicko if I posted them.

Interestingly, shit is OK. When you type "shith," the list of suggestions is pretty funny. Who knew there were 95,000 results for "shithead."



When you get some time, see if you can find more words that it doesn't allow.
Kill RSS ads with CSS
When I opened up The Social Software Weblog RSS feed this morning, I was disappointed to find ads embedded in each item. I had been reading that RSS ads were coming; however, I had managed to avoid them until today.

Because I am using the not-so-fancy-but-good-enough-for-me Sage RSS reader in Firefox, I am already using a custom CSS file that formats my feeds. However, after reviewing the code of the feed, I found that there isn't a div called "ad" that would make it super easy to hide.

Instead of hiding one div, I decided to hide all divs that don't have a specific class associated with them and then add code to display those that do have a specific class associated with them, so I added:

div {display:none}

to the CSS file. This will hide any div which doesn't have a class specified (as is the case with the div containing the ad).

On the other 6 or 7 classes, I added "display:block" to override the "display:none." The result? No ads! Woo Hoo!

Here is a before and after screenshot.
Thursday, December 9, 2004
Flickr featured on WIRED.com
WIRED.com published an article about Flickr this morning. It gives a really good overview of how Flickr differs from other photo upload sites like Ofoto.

Like me, most of the people quoted in the article see the social networking components and the easy-to-use tools as the key differentiators for Flickr.

Matt Haughey who runs MetaFilter says, "It's kind of like trying to describe why Blogger.com was wonderful in 1999...Flickr's really onto something. They're going to blow up like Blogger eventually."
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Holiday Party 2004

Two things the ladies love: pink, me with a bowling ball.

Well another company holiday party is in the books. This year, we decided to go bowling because, as we all know, nothing gets you in the holiday spirit faster than velcroing on some shoes and doin' some bowling.

It turns out that I am not a very good bowler. In fact, some would probably go so far as to say that I should never touch a pink bowling ball again. In the face of this haterism (which is a trip, BTW), I was able to bowl a 105 and a 98. Take that!

I've posted a few of the photos from the event in a Flickr photo set. Check them out here.
Interview with TiVo's Director of UE
PVRBlog has an interview with Margret Schmidt, TiVo's Director of User Experience. It covers "how TiVo's UI was originally developed, how new features are added, and how the sound UI came to be, among others."

I think one of the key things that Schmidt's team does (that other teams fail to do) is plan for the long-term. She says, "We try to design for the future (where we want to eventually take the feature) and then pare it down to what we are going to ship in a particular release. This lets us show how the experience will naturally evolve rather than having to radically change it to accommodate future functionality. We try to add to the experience rather than change it or take away something users rely on."

I've had my TiVo for over 3 years now and I still haven't found a better onscreen interface in any of the PVR software apps or cable set-top boxes I've seen. This interview is a great read for anyone interested in designing user interfaces.
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Why is Microsoft blogging?
News.com has a short article describing some problems that users are having with the recently launched MSN Spaces, a blogging service from Microsoft. It turns out that MS is doing a couple of things that are upsetting their new bloggers:

1. Keyword filtering: MS is not allowing words that they deem inappropriate in the titles or URLs of the blogs. I don't have the list; however, I imagine "open source," "competition" and "Firefox" are on there.

2. Content policy: According to the News.com article, MS, unlike Blogger, "forces new users to grant Microsoft permission to 'use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat' their blog postings."

All of this makes me wonder why Microsoft got into blogging in the first place. They've never really been big on openess. In fact, they were one of the first companies to fire someone over a blog post (remember the contractor who photographed a palette of Apple computers being delivered to the MS campus?).

It also makes me wonder why anyone would continue to use their service once they discover these policies. After all, the whole point of blogging is being able to say whatever the (insert objectionable word from MS' filter here) you want.

So, Microsoft, leave the blogging to Blogger. You guys get back to work on XBOX Next.
Monday, December 6, 2004
Joined Netflix again
I finally broke down and did a free Netflix trial. I did a trial back in '99, but I let it expire shortly after. Now I want to try out the new Friends feature that they just launched since I am working on some social networking stuff at work. Plus, I've got a home theater PC with a huge hard drive... uh, never mind.

Anyway, check out this great overview of the Friends feature at buzzhit.
Happy 1st Birthday, Mira!
As you can probably guess from the title of this post, today is Mira's 1st birthday. As cliched as it sounds, it really doesn't seem like that long since she was born.

Now just 12 months later, she is starting to talk and is able to pull up on the furniture. Her favorite words right now are "hot" (referring to coffee mugs), "baby" (for her baby doll), "Bubba" (referring to Mahlon or Miles), "Uh oh!" (referring to dropping toys), "Daddy" and "Mama." When she put on her birthday hat for the photo above, she said "hat."

We are going to have a small party for her this afternoon. Because she has been sick, we are going to skip Chuck E. Cheese until she is feeling better.
Sunday, December 5, 2004
FFL: sMoRTy71 64, Bums 63

Well, it sure wasn't pretty; however, I was able to squeak out a win tonight over Jim's Underachieving Bums. I really wanted to win this one because The Bums have the distinction of being the only team to beat me this season.

I'm still not sure how I won. I was without Priest Holmes. Brett Favre scored 1 point. Deuce McAllister scored 0 points. Bubba Franks scored 0 points.

My record improves to 11-1-1. I face Big Bitchsmacker in the season finale next week. Priest Holmes is rumored to be out (again!).
Saturday, December 4, 2004
I'm sick of CDs
After 3 road trips in the past couple of months, I finally got feed up with CDs. At home, I use a 200-disc CD changer, so I never have to touch most of my CDs. However, when I travel, I have to pull a bunch of the CDs out of the changer and drag them around with me. It's been a real pain in the butt.


So a couple of weekends ago, I started ripping all of my CDs to mp3. Today, I finished converting most of my collection. Now I have about 2,000 songs ripped to my home theater PC. According to Windows Media Player, it would take over 127 hours to listen to them all.
Friday, December 3, 2004
I need the DVX-Pod
If anyone out there is wandering what to get me for Christmas, you can just get me a DVX-Pod. I read about it on Engadget back in October and now WIRED has featured it in its WIRED Tools 2004, a listing of the top gadgets of the year.

The DVX-Pod is a portable media player (PMP) much like my previous favorite gadget (the Archos AV-420). What sets the DVX-Pod apart is its 7" 720x480 widescreen display. That's bigger than many portable DVD players! So in addition to watching TV shows, listening to MP3s and looking at digital photos, you'll be able to watch DVDs you've ripped to the device at full DVD resolution.

The DVX-Pod looks really cool, too. All of the buttons and controls are on the top or sides, so it has a very clean look. Check out photos of the DVX-Pod here.
Interview with Caterina Fake
Engadget has a short interview with Caterina Fake the co-founder of Flickr. It is a good overview of what they're trying to do with the service.

She also mentions some of her favorite Flickr groups and tags for those of us already using Flickr. The Squared Circle group, which features photos of round things in square frames, is pretty interesting.
Thursday, December 2, 2004
TV networks exploiting TiVo
According to an Associated Press article, several networks have been padding the end of their TV shows to (as allegedly) disrupt the ability of DVR users to record shows on other channels.

For example, if you have a single-tuner DVR and are recording a show that runs from 9:00PM to 10:02PM, your DVR will not be able to switch over to another channel to record that other show you watch at 10:00PM.

I've recently noticed ABC running some shows 2 minutes over; however, I hadn't stop to question it. Fortunately, I have a dual-tuner DirecTiVo, so I should be safe for now.
End freeloading with JiffyBill
If you ever go out with friends and end up picking up the check for those who "didn't bring any cash," then JiffyBill is what you've been waiting for.

With JiffyBill, you can create bills for those friends who promised to pay you back (but you suspect that they won't). JiffyBill even figures out the tax and tip for your friend's portion of restaurant tabs. Cool. Plus, they use PayPal to process all transactions so you don't need to setup any credit card info with JiffyBill.

The site features a demo where you can create sample bills to see how the whole thing works.
sMoRTy71 keeps growing
Well, it has been about 6 months since I first launched sMoRTy71.com. As with most blogs, I do the site mainly for myself. However, looking at the site usage stats over the past 6 months, I am surprised to see that there are a lot (at least it seems like a lot to me) of people visiting.

In May 2004, I had only 22 visits from 3 unique visitors. That number has been steadily growing ever since. In November 2004, I had 3601 visits from 1335 unique visitors.

I figured that much of that traffic came from Google; however, that's not the case. Only 14% of traffic comes from search engines. The vast majority, 70%, comes from a direct address or a bookmark. Who are all of these people?

I guess I shouldn't worry about it. I'm just glad to know that other people enjoy this site, too.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Froogle Shopping List
Google's comparison shopping site Froogle has launched a new Shopping List feature that is pretty cool. When you search for an item on Froogle, there is now a link with each result that allows you to add it to your Shopping List.

In addition to the Shopping List, Froogle also has a Wish List feature. It is pretty much the same as the Shopping List except they provide you with a URL to send to friends and relatives. Here is a link to the Wish List I've been tinkering with.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.