March 28, 2006

It's like TiVo... but not

Posted by Scott at 01:51 PM

TiVo logoTiVo - Amongst technical discussions of emerging gadgets and technologies, I've often seen the phrase "It's like TiVo for ...". The implication is that in much the same way that TiVo revolutionizes how you watch television, technology x will change the way you use y. A TiVo acts as a filter and buffer to give you greater control of what you watch and when you can watch it. RSS has been described as "like TiVo for the web". Podcasting has been described as "like TiVo for radio". With podcasting you can listen when you want, you can pause and resume at will, you can skip over boring parts, etc.

So imagine my surprise when I played around with TiVo's recent support for listening to audio podcasts. Once you get through the interface to select a "channel" and episode, you have two controls: play and stop. That's stop as in quit, not pause. There is no pause, no fast forward, no rewind, no "instant replay", nothing! It is so lame! And this from TiVo! Imagine a CD player that once you put in a CD had only the option to listen to the CD from the beginning or eject. No track selection, no pause, resume...

TiVo's official response is that they are streaming the media live and thus can't offer those features. That response is false. There are plenty of PC media players that can stream and still pause, fast forward, rewind, etc. I can only imagine that this was a rushed software feature and didn't get time to flush out a "real" implementation. I hope they get this right in the next major software update. Still, this is so not TiVo-like. They always focus on user experience and good usability. Their current podcast support is anything but.

Timothy - This morning Michelle took Timothy to an audio specialist for some hearing tests. We were concerned that perhaps he had something like otitis media (fluid in the middle ear) because of the way his speech has developed over the past several months. Lots of words are slurred or clipped as if he isn't hearing certain sounds. Perhaps with four older siblings he's just being lazy but he's so bright and focused in other domains. They confirmed that his ears have no fluid buildup and that he hears down to 10 decibels — ie. quite normal. He'll have a followup appointment to check the frequency range and response that he picks up. It'll be difficult because it's hard to ask a three year old to cooperate with such a test. They also gave some pointers on finding a good speech therapist.

VAuto logoLights out - Last night was the VAuto/ARC/TDNH 'lights out' dinner. We had a couple dozen past employees show up. Most have landed on their feet with new employment. Even though we left for the restaurant shortly after I got home from my work commute, we were still on the late side and only had a few minutes before we were seated for dinner. As such Michelle and I really only got to talk with about 5 people to any depth. I would have enjoyed getting the scoop on a few more fellow co-workers.


Hi again, Scott! I received my computer today. Unfortunately, they did not deliver the wireless internet card with it, so I became worried. Once I called, they said it was shipped separaltey and should be in tomorrow. I was a little upset about that. Anyways, this is what I got --> Dimension E310 - P4
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 521 w/HT Technology (2.8GHz,800FSB), Genuine Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition. (thats the best description I could find). Hopefully, my internet should be up and running soon.

Posted by: Suzy at March 30, 2006 07:45 PM

I looked up your system at Dell's website. It has an Integrated Intel® Extreme Graphics 2 for its graphics engine. Hisss! Perhaps for your birthday I should send you an ATI graphics card... ;-) Perhaps Chris and I can find something to go in your tower's PCIexpress slot.

I'm curious: what will you do with a wireless card in it? Does your apartment have wireless access?

In any case, congratulations. Best wishes for trouble-free use.

Posted by: Scott at March 30, 2006 09:10 PM