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Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review
This is a podcast review of the Amazon Kindle HD 7 inch model which goes for $199 at Amazon.com. This is the base model HD edition with 16 GB memory and Wi-Fi. The old Kindle’s screen broke, and this was what seemed like the next best thing to buy as a replacement. This was a replacement for a Kindle that with a broken screen. The Kindle Fire HD promised a lot of extra functionality in addition to being able to use the old Kindle functionality. Let me start by saying, that overall we are very pleased with the device, especially for the price. And for anybody looking for a device in the 7 inch tablet size then this would be a good choice for most people. Read more and listen to the podcast...
Summer Movie Recap – A Season for Sequels
Now that the summer is drawing to a close, I thought I would post about my three favorite movies from the summer movie season. Top of the list was The Dark Knight Rises. While the movie was not as good as The Dark Knight, it was well worth watching. The story held your attention and made you care about what was going on and Tom Hardy was a great Bane. The Dark Knight was a really great movie and this installment was not in that league, but if you haven't seen it make sure you do. It's a good idea to catch up on Batman by watching Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before you see it so that you're all caught up.
Second on my list was The Bourne Legacy. This was another action packed film in the Bourne series. You really need to watch the first three movies before seeing this one. This movie and the last one overlap in timelines so you will miss a lot if you haven't seen the last movie before seeing this one. I liked the action a lot, but didn't really care for the idea that these special agents were special due to taking drugs to amp up their performance. It wasn't a part of the books or a part of the original movies. I wish they had made up something better as the central plot line. But in any case, the movie delivers on the action front with lots of chase scenes and fights. The last chase scene seemed to remind me of Terminator 2 or 3 where the first gen terminator must battle a more advance Terminator model. They should have brought this out earlier as it would have given the movie more direct conflict earlier on. Bottom line is that if you liked the first three Bourne movies, you'll like this one too.
The last movie on my list is The Hunger Games. I put this on the list mostly because the story line is pretty good and they did a nice job with showing what they could in the compressed timeline of a movie version of a book. It's worth seeing, but a much better performance of the book is the audiobook book version of The Hunger Games. I loved the audiobook version and couldn't wait to listen to the last two books in the series. If you have to choose between seeing the movie and listening to the audiobook, get the audiobook - it's just better.
The last one I want to mention, is the trailer for Les Miserables. That looks really good, but we will have to wait for Christmas for that release.
That's my short list. What were your favorite movies of the summer?
Welcome the the New Digital Podcast
The old site had become, well, old and inflexible and lots of other problematic things, so I decided that after 7 years it was time to do a complete makeover. What you see today is just the beginning. Things work differently than they used to and I'm sorry if that's a problem for you, but change was needed and given that I am the sole designer, programmer of this little project I did what I thought would be good for me and for other users.
My goal was make the site something of a cross between what iTunes is for a podcast directory and what Google's Reader is for a client. I don't know if that will be good or bad yet, but that's the design concept I'm going for.
The site's listings are much better now, with fewer faded out podcasts cluttering up the works. The ability to follow your favorite podcasts and listen/view should also be much better now.
I still have a list of stuff to do that spans a few pages, but I am tackling them one at time so more change to come.
So give it a try and see if you like it. At some point I will figure out a way to get more systematic feedback. Until then, here's a link to my contact info if you need something.
One Word Movie Reviews: The Grey
One Word Movie Reviews: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
One Word Movie Reviews: Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows
Bing, Huffington Post, Fox News All Running Ads for Scams
A couple of years ago, I wrote about Fake Blogs being used to promote marketing scams. It seems that the fake bloggers have moved on to become Fake News sites.
The fake blog scam used a fake blog to show how the fake blogger had lost weight using 2 magic products they saw on Oprah. They gave rave reviews to the products and had lots of fake comments too. They link you to a site to get supposedly free samples. If you signed up you got put on a monthly subscription for $70 per month or something like that, without really knowing you signed up for anything.
Ads for these kinds of sites were all over the internet, including the big search engines like Google. Google took steps to stop in on their site by banning everyone whoever ran an ad to such a site. They did it without appeal or warning. Just banned people for life. They banned me too because I had tested ads to see if they were hard to get approved. They weren't hard to get approved. Google had no problems with them until much later when the FTC got involved. Despite Google's harsh treatment of its customers, at least you won't find those ads there any more.
Not so for Bing, Huffington Post, Fox News and other big name sites. They still run ads for these scammers.
A Senator Who Gets The Internet
Senator Ron Wyden is one of the few politicians anywhere who seems to really understands the Internet and the implications of Government intrusions into our privacy. He stands up to the Media industry and it's attack on the rights of innovators.
If you want to understand some to the big issues like the so called PROTECT IP act and how the government has a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that would upset people if we only knew what it was.
If you have 35 minutes watch this video interview with Senator Wyden.
Will Amazon & California Declare a Truce in Tax War?
It is being widely reported that Amazon and the state legislature have declared truce in the ongoing effort to get Amazon to collect sales taxes. In the deal that passed the legislature last Friday, Amazon and other online retailers get to delay collecting sales taxes until September 2012 so that they may try to lobby for a federal solution to the tax issue. In exchange, Amazon is going to drop its proposed initiative to block the law.
Amazon had earlier offered to create 7,000 jobs in California by building multiple distribution centers in California. Amazon still wants to do that and asked for safe harbor if they go ahead, but the legislature didn't accept that. They say that the opportunity to create jobs will have to wait until January.
It's too bad that the only real sense of urgency in Sacramento is to collect more taxes and not to create more jobs.
Amazon Offers 7,000 Jobs, CA Politicians Want Taxes Instead
The Sacramento Bee published an article describing Amazon's new offer to California's Governor Brown and the Legislature. Amazon is apparently offering to spend tens of millions of dollars on new distribution centers in California and hire 7,000 people in exchange for the state delaying until 2014 a law requiring out of state retailers to collect sales tax for the state.
The law could mean that Amazon has to collect $200 million in sales taxes for the state. But the status of the law is uncertain. Amazon refuses to collect the sales tax.
As a result of the new law, Amazon terminated business relationships with 25,000 small businesses based in California to protect itself from having to to collect the sales tax. This has cost the state lots of jobs and lost income taxes as well.
My Time With Steve Jobs
My time with Steve Jobs happened a very long time ago. It was early 1980, or perhaps late 1979, and I was a freshman at Stanford. I heard that Steve Jobs was coming to talk to some students in a small group session. I don't actually recall why it caught my attention. I had probably heard of Apple computers back then, but I had never seen one. The only computers I had ever seen where in huge boxes behind thick glass windows.
Somehow, I decided to go to the event. It was over in Branner Hall across the street from my dorm complex, Wilbur. We met in a big room. It was kind of dark and had a fireplace. I did a quick search on Branner and found a picture of the room.
We all settled in with Jobs sitting down at the head of our circle. He was a young guy. Full of energy. I listened with great interest to what he had to say. The thing I remember was his vision of what computers would look like in our future and his excitement about the day his vision would come true.
Is Spotify an iTunes Killer?
I was recently invited to sign up for Spotify, an online music service that has been big in Europe for a number of years and is just now coming to America.
So, I signed up. Pretty easy to do. Then, I was somewhat surprised that Spotify is a downloadable application that runs on your computer. I downloaded it, ran the install and fired it up.
Within seconds it was up and running, importing all my music from my iTunes folder. It got everything, except the files Apple DRMed into prison.
The application seems much lighter and faster than iTunes, which is a welcome change. It looks sexy, with a grey/black background and white font.
Amazon to Fight California Affiliate Tax With Referendum
Amazon filed a petition with the California Attorney General to suspend the law recently passed by the State Legislature that attempts force out of state retailers with affiliates in state to collect sales tax. The petition was approved by the Attorney General and Amazon can now go on to collect signatures to try and get it on the ballet.
I tried reading the petition, but it's a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo to me. The Attorney Generals title and summary are as follows:
More Companies Terminate Affililates, More Jobs Lost
The new job killiing California law that claims that affiliates (independent businesses that advertise products on a pay for performance basis) create sales tax nexus for out of state retailers and therefore subjects them to collecting sales tax, continues to claim victims.
While the focus has been on Amazon, more companies are terminating their relationships with 25,000 small businesses here in California. The law is intentionally vague and given that there are networks and sub-networks of affiliates it is very difficult for a company to see if their relationships with advertising networks or affiliates causes the nexus to kick in.
To avoid the risk, out of state retailers are choosing to do the simplest thing and that is to fire their California small business affiliates. That means less revenue for small businesses, more people getting fired and less income tax collected by the State. And, no extra sales tax to compensate. Way to go Sacramento.
Click below to see the most recent termination letter I have seen:
New Law Causes Amazon to Terminate California Affiliates
Jobs are being lost at 25,000 small businesses in California today due to a new law passed by the California Legislature. The new legislation is part of the budget package recently approved by the California Assembly and Senate. The legislation is an attempt to get Amazon to collect sales taxes by claiming that independent affiliates who choose to promote Amazon on a pay for performance basis create nexus for Amazon.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for States to force out-of-state retails to collect sales tax. California is trying to bypass this rule by claiming independent companies create a nexus for Amazon.
My condolences to all who have lost a job or a livelihood today.
Click below to see a copy of the letter being sent to Amazon's California Affiliates:
Google Responds To Cloud Drive with Music Beta
I just read about Google's new Music Beta which seems to be their response to Amazon's recent announcement of Cloud Drive. I downloaded the app on my Droid phone, but all I got was some random podcast I had on my phone. So I next went to the Music Beta site to get that set up, but all I could do was request an invitation to join. Just like everyone else, I'm waiting to see how good it is. If you want more details right now, Engadget has a nice comparison chart of the two services. In the mean time, here's Google's video showing off what it looks like.
Amazon Introduces New Weapon in Droid Battle – Cloud Drive
Amazon introduced a new service called Cloud Drive. Cloud Drive acts as a personal cloud based server. That means you store your music, videos, documents on the web and listen to/watch/use it via downloads/streaming. You get 5 GB of storage for free and can buy more if you need it.
To quote Amazon:
Amazon Cloud Drive is your hard drive in the cloud. Store your music, videos, photos, and documents on Amazon's secure servers. All you need is a web browser to upload, download, and access your files from any computer.
Seems like the Droid Content war has begun...
SoundCloud – Social Hosting For Your Podcast
I was checking Podcasting News this morning and came across their post announcing Soundcloud will now provide rss feeds that can be used for your podcast.
So what is SoundCloud:
SoundCloud is an audio platform that enables anyone to upload, record, promote and share their originally-created sounds across the internet, in a simple, accessible and feature-rich way. From sample to symphony and soundbite to soliloquy, SoundCloud allows sound creators anywhere to instantly record audio on the site or via mobile applications and share them publicly or privately; to embed sound across websites, social networks and blogs and receive feedback from the community.
SoundCloud's open platform also supports a wide range of applications built on the SoundCloud API, enabling everything from mobile voice recording, online mastering, digital distribution to Facebook artist profiles and iPad music making. SoundCloud offers free accounts to amateur creators, with more advanced users able to upgrade to premium accounts for advanced features like statistics, controlled distribution and custom branding.
And now they are going to support podcast RSS feeds:
25 Days of Free Holiday Songs
Amazon is giving away free holiday song mp3s everyday until Christmas. They have already release 12 mp3s and have 13 more to go. Go ahead and get your Free Holiday MP3s.
Already released MP3s from Amazon:
How to Screencast Like a Pro
Dave Kaminsky, of Web Video Univerisity, just released what looks like an interesting course called "How to Screencast Like a Pro". How To Screencast Like a Pro contains over 3 hours of step by step video based lessons and costs just $198. I'm posting Dave's video short on the course below. If you're interested here's the link to the sign up page: How to Screencast Like a Pro (aff)
If you get a chance to check it out let me know how you like it.
What is the Best Music Organizer?
My music is a mess. It seems that I have accumlated lots and lots of music and it isn't pretty. So, I need to find a way to organize my music.
I've thought a little bit about what I want and I think the basic requirements are:
- Remove duplicate songs
- Fix misspelled song titles, artist names
- Find missing titles, genres, artist info and attach it to each song
- Find missing artwork and attach it to each song
- Do all the above really well and automatically
I figure I'll use a spare hard drive to make a back up of my iTunes collection and run both software packages on the collection to see which is the best music organizer.
If you have suggestions for a music organizer please let me know.
Rapid Video Blogging – Making Money With Web Video
Of all the questions I get about podcasting, one question seems to be almost universal. That question is can you make money podcasting? That’s the question people want the know about.
At the last Blogworld conference, I learned that there are people making money. The key is having your own product and using your content to promote your product.
The reason I revisit this, is that I just read a great report by a guy named Gideon Shalwick. I’had never heard of Gideon before, but I saw his report referred to by a number of people I know. So, I signed up and got his report. It’s free, so why not.
What I found was really interesting. Gideon has taken the next step in the business model. Gideon shows how to turn your video podcast into a business.
See the diagram after the jump.
USA Network Uses Fake Blind Guy to Celebrate Americans With Disabilties Act
I'm not sure anyone else noticed, but I was stunned by a PSA run tonight by USA Network in association with its new show Covert Affairs.
In the PSA, USA Network has one of its main characters talking about the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and it's impact. (the full press release is below.)
This would be great given the impact the ADA has had leveling the playing ground except they use a guy who can see to play a blind person.
Making Movies with the iPhone 4
A couple of students from USC's School of Cinematic Arts, Michael Koerbel and Anna Elizabeth James, have written and directed an entire movie - well a short film called "Apple of My Eye" using the iPhone as the camera and editing device. They did it all in 48 hours.
Considering what how they made this short film the video is excellent. At the end, they show you how they made the movie. That part is especially fun to watch.
iPhone – EVO 4G Video Wars (NSFW)
Techcrunch had some funny videos from Youtube about the crazy behavior of some iPhone users and a rebuttal by the iPhone fans.
And here's the rebutal.