No more shiny plastic discs

The latest updates from the Cupertino camp have included the elimination of the plastic encased MacBook from the notebook lineup and the disappearance of any sort of optical drive from the Mac Mini. And perhaps saddest of all no black anodized MacBook Air. All the newer Macs are now reasonably up to date with mobile Core i3, i5 or i7 processors and “Thunderbolt” ports.

But say again, no DVD drive? What about a Blue-ray Disc drive? Surely iTunes or Amazon isn’t about to start streaming 1080p movies anytime soon. In fact when I recently rented a movie on iTunes to my last generation Mac Mini (late 2009) it forced me to download the entire 1.4GB SD video. Craziness. At least Netflix has HD streaming working well. I think perhaps the Apple TV supports streaming films from iTunes, it’s unclear, though it’s likely a licensing issue.

I mean, I understand where they are going here, people are using discs a lot less. The App Store now allows direct downloading & upgrading of the latest OS (10,7). But I thought the Mac Mini was good for servers & HTPCs? Doesn’t that sometimes require a disc? And why has Apple never been excited about Blu-ray (beyond the awkward hyphenation)? The biggest gripe I have about the Netflix pricing hike is that there simply aren’t nearly as many good films on demand as there are currently on DVD.

I cannot imagine studios are going to kill off the DVD anytime soon. And certainly Blu-ray Disc is the last generation of physical media out there. Anyhow I’m glad I’ve got my not very upgrade friendly 2009 Mini.

DTW & your best craft beer options

image

I was struggling doing some Googling for “DTW best beer bar”.  Detroit’s metropolitan airport surely has some solid craft brew options, right?  What I’ve found from the internets:

The “Online C@fe Bar Grill” across from the Sora noodle shop has the Bell’s Oberon on tap, two Michigan Brewing Co. options and the Dark Horse Brewery IPA (& possibly a second option from DHB) .

The Westin Hotel bar has several local craft options in bottles.  It’s not immediately clear but I believe there is a separate security entrance and exit just for the Westin.

And apparently the Heineken Bar has some options as well.

So far I’ve only made it to the aforementioned internet themed bar cafe. And I’m eating potato skins with bacon and drinking the Michigan Brewing Co.’s IPA which is pretty straight ahead & thick with hops.

Anorak

I’ve been without a lightweight rain shell for a while now.  I had a zipper fail on a Sierra Designs’ Hurricane rain shell and I sent it back to them for replacement; unfortunately I had the replacement mailed to Z’s office and they sent me a women’s size medium in return; she brought it to Asia with her. In Alaska I wore my EMS Orion, which is warm and keeps me reasonably dry, but it’s much too heavy for Spring and Summer, though it’s proven to be a good cold weather shell.

In my search for a new lightweight shell the Patagonia Specter keeps popping up.  As it turns out, Patagonia stopped making the Specter Pullover a couple of years ago. Their current offerings include some new higher price point alpine shells and the lower price point Torrentshell Pullover, but sadly they have yet to replicate the 6oz. Specter. The North Face sells the Triumph Anorak as part of their Summit Series which is quite similar and Marmot sells the Essence jacket, both in the sub 8oz. category.  And I do really love the Houdini, but what we are talking about here is a waterproof shell that weighs marginally more than the 4oz. Houdini.  The Houdini is an excellent wind shirt, but not a rain jacket, as was proven recently in the Delaware Water Gap during a downpour.

Kelly Cordes has a good in-depth post talking about waterproof breathable materials and shell construction. And a little searching will reveal users’ preferences on the Backpacking Light forums.  I’m in no rush to get another jacket and as long as it’s 90 degrees outside I don’t care if I get wet.

Patagonia Spectre Pullover

Patagonia Specter Pullover with optional kangaroo pocket!

Kirsten’s DIY Pipe Desk With Salvaged Door

I meant to put up this link to Kirsten McCrea’s nice addition to the world of cast iron pipe based tables using salvaged tops a while ago. She has both a blog and a professional page as she is a visual artist living in Montreal. I wanted to provide a link back to her desk, in part because it turned out so nicely, and I want more people to see how great these tables and desks can turn out with such humble materials.

Kirsten's DIY Pipe & Door Desk

Link: Kirsten's DIY Pipe & Door Desk, photo by Kirsten

Nice Cranks, Jan

Jan Heiene of Bicycle Quarterly and Compass Bicycles in conjunction with René Herse are re-releasing a very nice looking set of cranks using a three bolt spider, adaptable to either double or triple chainrings (70mm BCD).

My Gitane could actually use a set of these right now as I’m hoping to further upgrade it from 6 speeds to either 12 or, gasp, 18. In the mean time I’ll see what I can find at Via. I really do like the SunTour Retrofriction “bar-con” shifter’s action though.

But yes, the world is in need of some more elegant looking cranks as style has gone out the window, what with all the oversized spindles and external cartridge bearing bottom brackets on bikes these days, so good’on these guys.

René Herse & Compass Bicycles Re-Release Cranks

Link: René Herse & Compass Bicycles Re-Release Cranks

I Can Blink

C turned me on to Blink, a very high quality SIP communications package, which just happens to be GNU General Public Licensed, v3. With Android 2.2 and Google Voice I’ve been forced to use a mix-mash of modes to make cSipSimple work reliably. Part of the issue is forwarding phones. With Google Voice I am now forwarding to Gmail, Virgin Mobile, and now SIPgate One. When I turn off all cellular communcations in theory cSipSimple should be the only phone to ring, and in theory it shouldn’t use mobile anytime minutes.

I managed to get this to work on the PEAP encrypted 802.1x Wifi on campus, so in theory at home it should work fine. ICE/STUN with NAT seems to help call quality. The SIPGate iOS application also seems to work fine, though sometimes there is a bit of crackling not present on SIP>SIP calls using other clients.

A third option, which may or may not be in the works at the Googleplex [sic] is the integration of SIP directly to Google Voice. Google was likely testing this functionality as Dan York wrote in his blog, however, it appears Google pulled the plug on it publicly. It would be incredibly convenient to not have to route via the PSTN for Google Voice because as Dan mentions, the calls are already IP based, if only they could stay that way Google Voice users would have higher quality calls and an easier time of it. To test if you have any SIP functionality, plug in +1xxxxxxxxxx@sip.voice.google.com, where that number is your GV number.

Cutting Cords & the Best Deal Going

So I finally got another Android phone. This time I think it’ll stick. My little prepaid Nokia 2330 on T-Mobile was finally proving itself too expensive, especially in comparison to the current deal Virgin Mobile has with the LG Optimus V Android phone. For $25/month I now get 300 minutes of talk and unlimited SMS and data. Not that SMS matters too much since I use Google Voice as my carrier, but nonetheless, it’s nice not having to pay $0.10 per SMS as I did using T-Mobile Prepaid (which will soon be owned by Bell/AT&T).

Like all Android phones Google Voice integrates very well. The Optimus V runs a mostly stock version of Froyo, Android’s version 2.2 OS. Compared to the Huwaie Ideos (T-Mobile Comet) that I owned briefly, the LG Optimus V is fast. That’s not saying much, but the phone has been very usable so far. There are are a few things that are not as polished as iOS 4.x (on our iPod Touch), but the fact that it can make and receive phone calls, a feat I was unable to replicate consistently using the iPod Touch save for making Skype Out calls, makes it worth the $25/month.

My latest effort to avoid using up my 300 minutes of talk time while I’m at home is getting SIP to work. It’s a similar idea to Skype, except you’re not paying Microsoft for your minutes. Unlimited Skype outgoing usually works out to about $3/month. With a free SIP number from SIP Gate One I can reroute calls via Google Voice to the SIP number while I’m at home using Wifi.

If I’m on the computer I’ll usually make calls via the Gmail Gchat voice call-out function. The best Android SIP client I found so far is CSipSimple. It is in active development, works well, and requires significantly less setup than SIPdroid. Android’s “Gingerbread” OS update (2.3.x) actually integrates SIP calling natively into the mobile operating system. Sadly, it seems most carriers do not push for the latest updates on their phones, and with the exception of the flagship models or “Google Phones” like the Nexus One and Nexus S, you’ll need to root/flash the phone yourself if you want 2.3, if there is even a stable port for your phone.

So those are my first impressions. I’ll write more about the LG Optimus V and SIP as I get some more use out of it.

Virgin Mobile's LG Optimus V

Virgin Mobile's LG Optimus V

SoundCloud HTML5 finally works, mostly

This post, with many linkbacks to other posts (dee3’s), shows how to embed SoundCloud’s Flash player and allow an HTML5 mini player as a fallback for iOS, using the <audio> tag: http://soundcloud.com/101/html5-embed

The only step that was a little bit tricky was figuring out how to view the cache window and see where the stream was pointing to for the HTML5 portion of the code. In Google Chrome (12.x) I found it easiest to flush the past hour of browsing history and then load the SoundCloud player and see where it pointed to the audio stream, typing About:Cache in the location bar. Anyhow, if you view my last post about Borg & McEnroe using an iOS device there should be a small audio player below the YouTube clip. Amazingly, it’ll even let you stream that clip over AirPlay.

So that’s kind of cool. If that’s what you’re into.

Here’s Four Tet’s track Pinnacles:


Link: http://snd.sc/hbo2eT

BJÖRN ♥ JOHN

Perhaps subconsciously I mentioned Evan’s likeness to a certain Swedish 70’s tennis pro, who as it happens, 30 years ago yesterday, had has final epic Wimbeldon match with John McEnroe. And now Borg and McEnroe are selling underwear together. So there you go. Capitalism. Everyone. Winning.

http://youtu.be/MOz8aoBriF0



Link: http://snd.sc/exODjW
PB&J’s main label: http://goo.gl/vjY1J

No more Java Plug-In support OS X 10.5.8 Chrome & Firefox

I was trying to figure out what had happened after I ran a system update, and as it turns out, Java Plug-In support for both Chrome and Firefox web browsers is now deprecated in OS X 10.5.8 “Java Update 10”. Ugh. I’d been meaning to do a clean install of 10.6 for sometime now, I suppose this is just one more reason to do it, but really Apple, you couldn’t have let people know before you did this?

https://discussions.apple.com/message/15544003#15544003
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3151047