Showing posts from January, 2009

Open Source is the gamer's friend

This list shows more than six dozen free Open Source games; PC, Linux, Mac OS.  Free, now.

DTV Conversion Day Postponement?

June 12th looks like the new deadline for DTV conversion, says the NASDAQ newswire.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.V., and committee ranking Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas said their staffs are drafting a few changes to Rockefeller's proposal to postpone the digital switch until June 12.
In the House, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has introduced his own bill that would put off the digital TV transition until June 12. Waxman's bill also would extend the expiration date for all outstanding or not-yet-issued converter box coupons to Sept. 15. People who previously ordered coupons and didn't redeem them would be allowed to reapply.{snip}

K1ER reports from Hawaii (which converted a week ago) on DTV conversion

Having worked with the FCC during the FIRST conversion to DTV (Hawaii), here are a few background things you SHOULD KNOW since they'll help you answer questions from the other 49 states. 1.  The conversion was mandated by CONGRESS to free up the present analog TV spectrum for OTHER USERS.  (follow the money). 2. The conversion was DIRECTED by CONGRESS. 3. The $40 coupon program was run by the former Bureau of Standards now NIST. 4. The FCC was ordered to deal with the public and broadcasters during the conversion. 5. For those who can receive it THE DIGITAL PICTURE IS BETTER. 6. The transmitting antennas are moved OUT OF CONGESTED (populated) areas where they never belonged!  From the tops of buildings to outlying less populated areas.Ed. note: That applies to Hawaii only. 7. Many antennas are in WORSE COVERAGE locations because (for example) protected birds ran into them in the old locations.  (reason for moving the tower and antenna from 10,000 ft on Maui to 4,000 ft)Ed. note: That app…

Clearly faster, cheaper Internet

Clearwire AKA 'Clear' opened up Metro Portland as its second city where individuals and businesses can get high speed wireless internet via WiMAX at reasonable cost, and after a cost analysis, we took the plunge.

The home service pricing below includes $5/mo to rent a Motorola 2.5GHz WiMAX transceiver. You can buy instead of rent, but since hardware gets cheaper, we figured we'd rent at first... besides, if there's a failure, they're responsible for the transceiver if they own it.

$25/mo provides up to 768 kbps down, 128 kbps up.
$35/mo provides up to 3,000 kbps down, 384 kbps up.
$35/mo provides up to 6,000 kbps down, 512 kbps up.

There's no $35 sign-up fee if you obligate for 2 years of service instead of month-to-month, and there's a seven day 'remorse' period for cancellation. There's also mobile service and business service, both spendier than home service.

The hookup took 5 minutes; plug in power, let it find the signal (two towers within a …

More details on the Nokia Series 60 SMS vulnerability

I reported earlier on the ability on anyone who dislikes you to shut down your Series 60 Nokia phone. If they have your cellular number and adequate dislike, they can turn your cellphone into an expensive, silent brick.

The Register, with their customary evenhanded (i.e., snarky to everyone) has revealed more details including how to resent your phone after an attack.

Since that requires erasing everything in your phone memory, backing up daily is recommended. You can back up to a memory card in your phone, or to a PC, but please, BACK UP YOUR DATA.

Is your TV digital-ready?

Update: Easy-to-remember Tiny URLs have been created to make it easy to remember web addresses for this series. Flowchart of what to do and list of old vs. new Portland area channels. Questions and Answers about DTV and the conversion. This post.

This National Association of Broadcasters web page allows you to enter the make and model of your TV set to find if it's digital-ready.

And, OBTW, it's official; the Feds have run out of converter coupons, says the NY Times. Yesterday's blog post reviewing the less-spendy converter boxes seems to have been a good idea.

Don't overlook post Number One on the Tele-Apocalypse which gives you a very simple flowchart to show what to do.

Questions and Answers about Digital TV Converters

Update: Easy-to-remember Tiny URLs have been created for articles in this series. Flowchart of what to do (if anything) and list of old vs. new Portland area channels. This post. How to tell if your TV set is digital-ready.
Update #2: Added link to detailed converter reviews at

Q: I need an explanation in another language. Where can I find that?

Q: When does conversion happen?
A: It happens Tuesday, February 17th, by Federal law. A town in North Carolina has already converted; Hawaii converts on January 15th.

Q: Why?
A: Digital channels can fit closer together without interfering, so the Federal government can sell the old frequencies to use for police, fire, public service, and new cellular data services. Sometimes, reception quality improves even on older analog-only sets using converters. There are other advantages to television stations; they can split their ch…

Denial-of-service attack possible on Nokia Series 60 smartphones

Executive summary?
Significant threat.
Back up your phone daily. If the DOS attack is successful, recovery requires a total reset which means you lose everything in phone memory.If strange messages start appearing with the @ symbol in them, shut off your phone or go into airline mode (no cellular reception). Backup to memory card, delete the strange messages and then backup to memory card again.Stay tuned for news of a patch from Symbian. The gory details are here at FierceMobileIT.