nullstream weblog - January 2008

Evernote on sale

Cool Tech

January 30, 2008 11:16 AM PST

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Evernote, one of my favorite applications, is currently on sale. It is regularly 49.95, now priced at 19.95 for a short time. That's a pretty good deal, but many users will actually be happy with the free version.

Evernote is a notetaking / journaling application that takes a different approach from its competitors as well as offering powerful unique features. Evernote's goal is to be your '2nd brain'. The idea is to offload everthing you can to it so you can free your mind for better things. Evernote's interface is a continuous 'roll'. You create entries chronologically rather than create a new 'note document' for each one. Evernote has power tagging and search capabilities for finding this information later and sync capabilities for keeping multiple machines current. It also comes with a clipping tool that will allow you to drop images and content from any app or web site. Evernote automatically creates hyperlinks to most information such as the path to a file you clipped from or the URL of the web site.

The real power however is in the advanced features. These are the ones you actually pay for. One of its more impressive features is advanced image recognition. Evernote will attempt to do text and handwriting recognition on any image you store in it. This means you can take a snapshot of a product or a whiteboard and actually search for the text contained in the image. That's real power. For tablet and UMPC owners Evernote has advanced inking and shape recognition tools that make it a breeze to capture notes in a more natural way.

Evernote currently runs on Windows, but they are actively working on Windows Mobile, Mac and Web based versions.


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Developments At Trolltech

Cool Tech

January 28, 2008 10:17 AM PST

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Trolltech has been getting some press lately. Recently they decided to open QT for Windows to the GPL. Previously only the Linux and Mac versions were GPL. This means that it is even easier to write cross platform GUI apps. This move also gives a boost to running KDE on Windows. KDE is a rich, platform neutral application development / desktop platform. Not everyone thinks making it easier to run open-source apps on Windows is a good idea. The project leads however argue that making it easier for Windows users to experience and develop open source apps will make any OS migration that much easier in the future.

To make things more interesting, it looks like Nokia just acquired Trolltech for somewhere around 150 million dollars equivalent in stock. Since Trolltech has really been putting emphasis in their mobile platform, Qtopia, this move is not surprising. This should give Nokia more ammunition against Google's Gphone platform, Android.


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Macworld 2008

Apple

January 14, 2008 05:30 PM PST

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"There's Something in the Air"

Tomorrow this post will be full of comments on the latest Macworld announcements. For now, we can only guess what's in store based on the slogan above. Many people are predicting some sort of Wi-Max or 3G card built into Macs, or at least the iPhone. Maybe wireless USB will make its debut and remove more clutter from Paul's desktop. Others have noticed that the font style used is new: Myriad Ultralight, possibly pointing to the rumored ultralight Macbook incorporating a solid state (flash) hard drive, LED backlight and no optical drive. Interestingly, new desktop and server Macs were announced last week at CES, so Apple must have enough other new hardware to fill tomorrow's keynote! Then again, the slogan may just refer to over-the-air downloads to the iPhone/iTouch. Or maybe Apple is partnering with Google for 700mhz bandwidth... :-)

In addition to tomorrow's hardware announcements, I imagine we'll get a new option for video and TV downloads. No way Jobs is going to let movie and TV studios desert iTunes. Whether this is new hardware, new pricing, or new formats (HD?), something has to change. Most players are looking for HD video downloads to be the new "format" - beating both Blu-ray and HD-DVD in the long term. I also feel that .mac has been a bit stagnant lately, so there potentially could be some updates to that. We probably won't get much info other than reassuring words about the "ecosystem" when it comes to the Nullstream anticipated iPhone SDK, slated for February.

Thoughts, reactions?


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CES Roundup

Cool Tech

January 14, 2008 05:11 PM PST

Ok, before we get into the heavy Macworld product announcements tomorrow, I'd like to list the three cool things I saw from coverage of the CES last week.

Canon Vixia HF10


I've been waiting for Canon to jump on the flash memory based HD bandwagon. And finally they have. They've seemingly fixed the issues I had with their previous tape based recorders, and I continue to avoid Sony because of their insistence on proprietary media formats. Now Canon supports an external microphone and light, something annoyingly missing before. Instead of M-Jpeg, they record in AVCHD (MPEG-4), which provides true 1080 resolution as opposed to the cropped HDV format. At full resolution, the camera can store a bit over 2 hours of video on a 16 GB flash card. With optical image stabilization, no moving parts and a price starting at $900, this is a huge step forward for prosumer HD cams. Now if someone would just make an underwater case for this camera, you guys will see me posting some really cool stuff.

Shuttle KPC Linux Cube


Shuttle quietly announced small Linux PCs starting at $99. Fully functional at $199 and upgradeable from Celeron to Core 2 Duo, these computers fit a niche that I've been looking for for a while, and that is a cheap, always-on, network storage machine for automated backups, media center file serving, and recording HDTV.

Sony Distributes DivX

Although everyone is encoding to Mpeg4 now, it's great to see Divx get some love, and from Sony no less. Sony is making all of it's TV shows available online in this format, which represents quite a move for a content producer (cutting out the network studios as middlemen). I probably will not be downloading any of these shows if they have DRM, but it's good to see some big names get behind DivX.


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Neflix Removes Limits

Home Theater

January 13, 2008 11:16 AM PST

In a preemptive move to Apples expected movie rental announcement, Netflix has removed the limits on their 'Watch Instantly' service. This means that subscription users can now watch as much streamed content as they want. Their streamable movie selection is still a bit stale, but they are getting more TV shows all the time. I really like this service, but it is not without flaws. Movie quality can degrade depending on your bandwidth. Also the need for a computer to view content is a restriction. Sure, these days you can hook a laptop up to a TV, LCD or projector easy enough, but it is still hassle.

The service is not perfect, but hey, it is free with your account.

Here is my wish list for the coming year:
1. More and newer content. Netflix needs to work harder with the studios to expand their selection.
2. Offer a download and watch option. Streaming is cool and all, but my ISP is too unreliable to make it a good experience. I'd trade a bit of wait time for better quality.
3. Allow the content to be streamed to the 360 to bypass the PC altogether. Hey if Amazon's unbox can do it why not Netflix? They both use MS DRM.


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It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Space...

January 12, 2008 03:03 AM PST

probe.jpg ... and I feel fine.

Massive gas cloud to hit the Milky Way, in like, 20-40 million years. Plenty of time to get on a fresh pair of undies. The cloud, which has enough gas to make one million of our suns, is already hitting the outer edges of our galaxy.

Anyways, it's another reason to keep funding space exploration so that we don't have all our eggs in one basket.

More details here.
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Apple 2008 Predictions

Apple

January 1, 2008 02:50 AM PST

Taking a slight respite from Call Of Duty 4, it looks like Macworld 2008 is shaping up to have some interesting announcements: the long fabled "ultra portable" laptop. Current rumors include flash based disks, tablet functionality, elimination of the optical drive and a new multi-touch trackpad.

Since my PowerBook died, I've been using a Vista powered Lenovo T60p, which isn't bad as far as PC laptops go. I do really miss the reliable sleep, overall sleek design, and ease of Wi-Fi handling that my deceased PowerBook had, though. I really don't need the optical drive except for the occasional ripping of a CD that I buy, or the even rarer DVD based software install. I'd be perfectly happy to leave the optical drive at home, only for use in those special cases.

The current line up of Mac Books is already very slim, it's hard to image how much more slim they'd get without the DVD drive baked in.

My main concern with the ultra-portable would be the limited size of the flash disk: I'd want enough space to stash media and a parallels vm.


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