Just Why is Google Trying to Take Over the Wireless Airwaves?


Click HereMany companies are putting up bids of billions of dollars to control several segments of wireless spectrum airwaves. 

Companies qualified to bid include major carriers AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, as well as possible new competitors like Internet company Google Inc, EchoStar Communications Corp and Cablevision Systems Corp.

Wireless auction bids $3.7 bln

Players like At&t and Verizon already play ball in this market and their presence as bidders is not terribly surprising.  Cablevision and EchoStar are in the cable broadcast business and their presence is not that unusual either.

Google however is an advertising and search engine company.  They are rumored to be developing a mobile phone, but a mobile phone and ownership of spectrum does not make a wireless phone network.  That requires infrastructure, cell towers, retail stores, and a great deal more.

Google attempted and failed to set up city wide WiFi service in San Francisco.  They have also entered into the arena of Radio advertising.  Could they be planning some attempt at providing wireless broadband access?

As an advertising company and a search engine company they are already under fire for abridging free speech.  They control the flow of information through their search engine, enabling the speech that they like and blocking the speech that they do not and pushing speech to a position of prominence when paid to do so.  What might happen if they not only control the flow of information but the pipes that information is transferred upon enabling them to identify the people by name that send and receive that information?

One thing is for sure their purchase is not going to come cheap.  At about $4 billion and no Shutterfly coupons to give them a discount, their shareholders are going to be spending a great deal of shareholder value to gain access to the identities of people surfing the internet.

Temperature Sensitive and Self Adjusting Clothing

This afternoon I went to the movies to watch I am Legend with Will Smith.  It was a good movie, but that's irrelevant to the idea that I had while at the movies.  Let me just say that while watching the movie, the theater temperature probably dropped 5 degrees.

Heated Vests at CES

heated-vest A few years back, I saw a company selling electrically heated vests at the Consumer electronics show.  These were simple looking fleece vests lined with heating element wire, like you would find in a heated blanked and powered with a  nine volt battery.  I've got a picture somewhere, but still digging for it, will share it here when I find it.  Anyway to the best of my knowledge this product didn't go anywhere.  The vests were nice, but they were not exactly volcom clothing grade stuff.

Plus it was a binary heating solution.  Either on or off.  Heating up or back to normal freezing conditions.

So while I was at the movie theater I had the thought.  One of those heated vests would come in handy right now.  I didn't need a parka in there, just something to counter the dropping temperature and the ingestion of 44 ounces of diet coke on ice.

Here's the things that I thought might tip that product over the edge:

  • Solar powered cells to charge a battery - this wouldn't help in the movie theater but when you are outside and your battery runs out, you are kind of COL - Cold & Out of Luck
  • A simple thermostat - Something to note decreases in temperature both air and maybe even skin or inside the vest temperature.  So when the thermostat noted a change in body heat or heat around the body, it would lightly kick in and compensate automatically.
  • Sectional Heat sensors - the other thing is that I was not initially cold all over, just a few areas.  If had a little heat to those areas, then I might not need heat everywhere.  Adding additional heat sensors and a little logic to tell certain sections of the vest to heat up and let other ones remain inert could save energy on the battery and keep me warm enough to be happy.

US Spy Satellite to go the way of Sky Lab

skylab I was born in 1972 and one of the gifts I received at my birth was a set of Skylab coins.  Skylab fizzled to the Earth eventually and that always makes me pay attention a little bit more when other objects that went up, prepare to come down. 

That's exactly what will happen in the next few days to weeks for a US spy satellite that has lost power and will crash on Earth somewhere soon splashing in the ocean or hitting some desert or wiping out some swing sets, or maybe crashing into a Frederic's of Hollywood spreading women's lingerie over several blocks, the final destination is anyone's guess.

Regardless, you can bet that the US military will likely be all over the satellite after it hits picking up and salvaging those portions of the satellite that might survive and still be important, cameras, hard drives, memory and who knows what else.  Hopefully, they'll be able to find what they are looking for as they sort through all of those under garments. . . .

Orbiting U.S. spy satellite could crash to Earth

Everybody Has a Touch Screen Phone

Apple didn't corner the market on Touch Screen phonesClick Here for very long.  After returning from CES (and after watching all of the commercials already running on TV) its pretty apparent that everyone and there brother is starting to offer cell phones with touch screens. 

This year Touch screens were in everywhere and bluetooth was pretty much out or at least relegated back to its primary position in the world of accessories.

The rise of the touch screen strikes me as a little funny as I own a Treo smart phone and Palm and Treo's have been featuring touch screens for a long time, but weirdly Apple kind of gets credit for the touch screen on cell phones like  they got credit for ipod MP3 player years after MP3 players were invented. 

neonode-touchscreen One of the touch screen phones that stood out for me (and that I will be covering more in depth later) is the NeoNode phone and MP3 player.

This little European phone that runs on GSM networks is about half as tall as an iPhone and about the same thickness.  It definitely had a cool sleek look about it and was easy to navigate and use.

It has one of those soft plastic looking covers to it as opposed to the previously cool and hip Razr's which now look like something recycled out of a can crusher.  Next year, we'll probably see the rise of phones covered in materials that makes them feel like crocs or something.

Disappointment with the Lack of Laser Guided Scissors at CES

This week I am sorting through all of the handouts, business cards, thumb drives and CD's that I received at CES and exploring all those websites that relate to all that PR material that I lugged back on an airplane.  You can bet that I was surprised to discover that I had completely missed one of the most important inventions of our generation.


The Laser Guided scissors

  1. Where was that product at CES?
  2. Why was there no CEA coverage of the laser guided scissors?
  3. Why did Cnet completely miss this product at the show?
  4. What would the booth babe of this product have dressed in, cut up jeans?

These were all questions that ran unimportantly through my head when I came across a few 'cool' inventions at a blog that I was browsing through today as I worked to also get caught up on the writings out on the long tail.

Oh well, there is always next year.  I'm sure with another year of Research and development they will be able to find a way to guide scissors with brain waves and a robot.

Seriously, I'll have a long recap and many reviews coming up soon.  Please do not send premature performance reviews to my editor complaining about the delay.

Please, just stay posted, and in the mean time, don't run with lasers nor scissors!

Returning from CES this Evening

I have a great deal of information, stories, insights, images and videos to share as I return from CES.  I didn't burn out my Panasonic camcorder batteries at this show, but I did see some very very interesting stuff at the Consumer Electronics Show.

For me the key thing at the show, was not any one gadget, but the chase by a great many different companies from all around the world.  They are chasing a better computer interface.  Something beyond the mouse and keyboard, beyond typing.  Something faster, more fluid, more efficient, more intuitive.

The really cool thing is just how much progress these companies are making and close to similar topics they are.  A wide number of industries seem to be converging on related and similar technologies.  This is all taking place with the backdrop of the entertainment industry final battle between Blue-Ray and HDVD.  I expect there will be a massive fight over a standard that will be infinitely more important than betamax v VHS or an internet standard or cellular infrastructure or the recent and relatively minor fight over HDVD and BlueRay. 

This fight will likely involve not just interest groups and companies, but entire nations.  In fact one of the most important nations on earth is already staking a major claim (and investment) in one of those technologies.

Trying to Burn an Audio Book to DVD Steps

This is the third article in a series that I am covering where I am trying to learn if its possible to burn an audio book to a DVD.  You can read why I'm doing this in Part 1, or read how I got to this phase in Part 2.

The New Beginning

So in the previous part, I walked through the typical installation of Nero 8.  This is the program that Audible recommends for burning CD's.  I'm hoping to find a fork in the path of the process that will enable me to burn to DVD somehow.

After I rebooted my computer (post installation), I first started up audible Manager, and the program crashed. 

That was a bad sign!

So then I started up Nero 8, and chose the Nero Home option (there was a long list of Nero related programs added to my computer.  :(  This program required a little additional setup, so I did that, and now I'm going to try and restart Audible Manager.

Audible launched this time, just like last time, but this time didn't crash (yet).

  1. So I selected the Nero Burner as my mobile Device
  2. Then Selected Burn CD's with Nero
    1. 2008-01-02_0021
  3. The first time through, I had to verify my Audible Account
    1. audible account authentication for Nero
    2. do over time
  4. I highlighted the Audio book I wanted (can only select 1 audio book part at a time at this stage) and hit that Burn to CDs with Nero Button all over again
    1. 2008-01-02_0021
  5. That broke up my single audio book part into multiple parts, which again you can only select once
    1. 2008-01-02_0027
    2. Note the Add, Delete and Properties buttons are pretty much useless
    3. Add opens up a window that allows you to switch book
    4. Delete deletes a segment from the part
    5. Properties just shows you the book information and summary
  6. Click Next if you really want to do something.
  7. Now I get the following window
    1. 2008-01-02_0031
    2. Note - I do not have any DVD options.  Nor do I have any options to save the files to a hard drive for future burning to a DVD
  8. I hit Burn anyway after inserting a DVD
  9. That gives me a pop up window and ejects my DVD, which zings across the room and embeds itself in an Abraham Lincoln bust across the room.
    1. 2008-01-02_0033
  10. So now what?

Well, next I thought I would try an old fashioned CD and see what I get.  So I clicked the Burn to CDs with Nero button again and did everything else the same.  this kicked off the CD burner for the book I was trying to burn, but it appears that this will generate 4 CD's for a single half a book.

Let me take a break for a minute and explain that I am trying to burn this to DVD so that I can listen to an entire book from one DVD disc playing in a DVD player.

I mostly just burned this first CD to see if the burner program even worked, and it appears to be working, but I definitely do not want to burn a bunch of CDs only to then copy them to a DVD.  I'm hoping primarily to find a way to minimize the number of discs for people with vision impairments or even for people with disabilities that restrict their mobility like cerebral palsy.  The goal is to minimize the number of discs that have to be dealt with down to a minimum. 


So at this point I am out of ideas for the evening.  I'll probably think it over and try and find some other way to attack this problem.  keep in mind that I am not doing this to crack the audio books or anything (that's easy enough as there are programs already available, but I do not want to do anything like that, just trying to find a better personal use to prove if the concept is possible)

Can I listen to an Audible Audio Book on a DVD - The Steps

OK, so here are the steps that I am following to achieve this goal to burn an Audible Audio book on to a DVD ( mentioned in a previous article - Maven Mapper's: Proof of Concept - Can I listen to an Audible Audio Book on a DVD ).

  1. Open up Audible Manager
  2. Select File menu
  3. Get Nero to burn to a CD -> This take me to an audible page where I am given the option to state that I already own Nero 6 or 7 or take Nero 8 for a trial.  (I own Nero 7, but its on a CD somewhere and I can't find it so I am just trying Nero 8)
  4. Download Nero 8 (187 MB, its a BIG program for a download)
  5. 2 Coke Zero's later, and a few games of Wii Tennis, its downloaded and I begin the install (custom install because I want to see what I'm getting, and I said no to the Ask toolbar, because I already have it)
  6. OK, so the Custom Setup as a Brazillian different options (Writing this so that even George Bush could understand)
    1. Nero 8 Custom Setup Options
    2. Well Hell, I don't have the time to go through all those options, so it looks like I'm picking all of them!  (How very Texan of me - I'm a former Texan)
  7. So I start the install and get one of those ominous screens
    1. nero2
    2. Unfortunately, the screen isn't lying so its time to find something else to do for a while like test drive some memory foam during a nap on platform beds for a different set of reviews.
  8. Then I got a pop up window that attempted to make Nero my default application for just about every file type known to computers (I exaggerate, but it was a silly pop up and I spent some time with the remove all button)
    1. nero3
    2. Note, I had to hit remove all for each of the tabs, as Remove All, only removed all the visible check boxes, it didn't actually remove 'ALL'  for that you have to click on each tab in Nero 8 installation and remove all 4 times.
    3. nero4
  9. Fortunately that was the last step for the installation!
    1. nero5
    2. Sorry for the chipper attitude had to drink left over New Years Eve champagne before this article.
      1. That's not true, just an excuse
  10. Ah, blasted restart message!
    1. nero6
    2. Well, just when I thought I was getting lucky, I got this little beauty, so now its time to publish this section of the steps
  11. In the next section, I'll restart my computer after shutting down all my applications, and give the burning to DVD process a try.  I'll cover that in a separate blog article.

Proof of Concept - Can I listen to an Audible Audio Book on a DVD

Tonight, I am hoping to learn whether or not I can listen to an audio book downloaded from Audible on a DVD.  I am doing this for a very specific reason and not one that is intended to hack or reproduce audio books.

The Problem with current audio books on CD

Audio books on multiple CD's take up too much space, get lost or scratched to easy.

People that have eye sight impairments can listen to audio books, but if they have to juggle 10 or 20 CDs that all feel the same way to them, its very easy to get the book out of order, or have to find the right CD by trial and error

Audible provides a way to record audio books already using Nero, but this often times makes the previous problem worse as labeling the CD's is troublesome (adds to an already slow process) and without good labels makes things even more difficult for those with vision impairments trying to read audio books

The Idea to solve the current problem by recording audio books to DVD

Record the silly audio books onto a single DVD disc instead of multiple CD's. 

Noted Issue with the Idea

This is not necessarily the most portable method for listening to an audiobook.  My goal is to however make it possible to play the audio book from a standard DVD player, where the book can be inserted and a person can just hit play or select the chapter of their choice.

How I will try to test this

I plan to use Nero 8 to record the audio book to a CD format.  Then instead of burning it to a CD, I'll simply burn it to a DVD. 

Sounds easy right?

Well the best laid plans of mice and men rarely are that easy.  If they were we'd all be beautiful, rich, healthy, skinny and we wouldn't be chasing the dream, working too much, typically out of shape and stuffing down diet supplements like hydroxycut while we roll through the McDonalds drive thru to get a super sized meal.


I'll let you know how it goes!


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