How to watch the World Cup when you’re stuck at work


Probably a dilema most of us have found ourselves in before. Some unmissable sporting event happens to be when you are working for the man. But wouldn’t it be great if you could do both? Happily tap away on your work while viewing a sporting event that only comes around every four years?

I was just nosing around on my regular route of sites yesterday morning and I found this little app called TVU Player which boasted free streaming of channels such as ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC, to name a few. Intrigued, I downloaded it just to see for myself. And I now sit here typing this as I watch a full bandwidth, 640×480, pretty darn clean stream of Sportscenter in the right half of my 24″ Dell Flatscreen. As someone who simply had to give up cable a few months back for basic productivity issues around the house, I have yearned for cable only networks such as ESPN, and NESN which carries all the Red Sox games. Though it has been a good reason to get out to the bar and watch, simply because there was no other option. Anyway the app is perfect for that little fix you need here and there… and for free.

So check it out. It looks like a homebrew hack of VLC Player that is leveraging streams from god knows where. It can’t possibly be legal for them to do this, having worked for ESPN in the past I know they lock down the rights to re-broadcast their programming pretty tight. But a great concept at a greater price… get it while it’s still out there, as I think it won’t be around for long. In the mean time.. GO USA! Beat Ghana!


DS Lite Review by my 6 year-old son Bobby


Well the lad just graduated from kindergarten so he deserved something for that. Though I have to admit, I don’t remember my graduating from Kindergarten as anything momentous, though if I had gotten a Nintendo DS Lite maybe I would have. Unfortuantely the technology just wasn’t there yet.

Fast forward 26 years (ouch) and you have this marvelous gadget which I just had to have…. for my son. I’ll let him have a few words edgewise.

Bobby: It has a pen… but you can just use the buttons. Mom told me she played an old style game like this when she was little (Super Mario Brothers) and this is the new style. It’s really fun. I want to get more games. Driving ones.

So there you have it. An in depth review. He’s brilliant for six. So here’s what I think.

As I learned from pre-ordering and buying the Sony PSP (which has since added full support for Flash 6, though no Flash Lite), great graphics does not equal great game play. I was initially impressed at with the PSP, only to find myself not interested in the games I bought in no time flat. Since I’m older now and have less time and patience for these things since I’m catering to my family, a game has to be really gripping to use those precious moments up with it. Not only that, as a former video engineer who’s job was to scrutinize picture quality down to every pixel, I found the display to be lacking as far as refresh rates, never mind the dead pixels I found, brand new, right out of the box on the initial 3 units I bought and returned. While never an old school Nintendo fanboy (I was a little too old, enamoured by the Intellivision/Vectrex/Colecovision era) I have to admit, the DS Lite is so intelligently designed and the user experience is so pleasant that I am simply awestruck with the little thing. Even my son, while beyond his years in these things (yes, he’s even architechted and designed some basic flash apps with me), was able to pull it out of the box and go with no help. If that doesn’t point to intelligent design in terms of both usability and accessability, I don’t know what does.

I was a big fan of Sony for a while and I trusted their products. Alas, my 4 year-old Sony Wega TV has a distinct and annoying high pitched whine now from time to time and I have thrown away two Sony DVD players in five years which have both abruptly and simply died. Though with far less usage, my Apex DVD player I bought in 1998 still works. Hmmm.

So now I am rooting for the underdog, especially with the PS3 and the Wii coming out almost simultaneously. I would urge to any gamer, to revisit the basic fundamentals of what you really love about video games. Sony came in late to the console market, and dominated. But I think Sony’s success has happened in the general terms of their monolithic presence in the consumer electronics industry, not unlike IBM in computers. If they can’t outspend you, bully you, and or steal your principal engineers, they just buy you. That worked ten years ago. The landscape has changed and items such as experience and presence are more important now than the old caveats; features and functionality. While all four features are connected, some are more essential in terms of what define “a genuinely good game”. In the meantime, I’ll be pleading with my son “When is it my turn?”

iRiver Clix – the new Ipod killer


So I’m trolling around ebay looking for stuff that I don’t need and I come across a whole bunch of brand new 512mb iRiver U10’s going for cheap. Like $60 cheap. So I figure, what the heck, I could always justify it as a Flash Lite research item… right? Wouldn’t you know it, three days later, iRiver puts out the Clix which is basically a 2gb U10 on steroids at $199. AND it has Flash Lite 2.0! The same thing happened to me when I bought my original first generation iPod. Grrrrr.

Frustation aside, I am blown away by the U10. The form factor, the features, everything. When you consider the fact that a 512mb iPod Shuffle costs $69 and has no screen, no video playback, no FM tuner, no voice recorder, no Flash Lite games, it’s pretty much a no brainer. In a nutshell, the U10 is awesome, and has opened my eyes to how portable media can really be in this iPod world we live in.

It seems that iRiver has learned their lessons on the original U10 release, especially in terms of price. The U10 was way too expensive for what you got, the same one I have had an original msrp of $199. The newer Clix also seems to have much better integration in terms of getting movies, music, and pictures on to the device now. The u10 uses Windows Media Player 10 for music, another standalone app for pictures, and yet another 3rd party app to convert video. They should really take a cue from iTunes as it has a big hand in the iPod’s success.

As for my Ipod, is it retired? Not really, just used a lot less. Since the U10 is limited as far as space, I tend to put a lot of my recently purchased music (yes I still buy actual CD’s, I am old school as far as that goes) on the U10 while the 20gb Ipod is like my library.

So watch out Apple, if iRiver continues to offer (and market correctly) devices like this, it’s going to take a significant bite out of your market share.