Wednesday, January 28, 2009

News Aggregators

Spending too much time perusing your favourite blogs, news websites, boards and whatever else floats yer boat? Then try a news aggregator.

I use Google Reader, but there are other equally good, if not better ones like BlogLines and even msOutLook.

Most blogs, news and boards will have a RSS feed marked by an icon similar to this:
Click it and your chosen aggregator will do the rest and you will find all your news and stuff in the same place all organised for you ... You can even subscribe to this blog - just scroll to the bottom of the page ...

... Enjoy.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today, I am mostly listening to ...

Sonic Universe on SomaFM.

Try it ... You'll like it ...

More Stuff : 24.01.2009

Hmmm ... promises ... promises ...

Oh well. I did not get on with the bike on the trainer in the basement. I don't know. It just doesn't feel right.

And not much chance of getting out and about ... it's been freeeezing. One morning it was -17C. Many days have risen to nowhere near 0C.

Next winter I really need to consider something which hasn't really appealed until now ... spinning classes.

On the brighter side, spring must be coming and I've signed up for the 2009 Five Boro Bike Tour again. And two days later Adele plays the Roseland Ballroom in NYC ... Yippee!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Internet Radio : update

Internet radio, for me, has turned out to be one of the most useful developments on the interweb, along with stuff like Skype and ... put your favourite web application here.

I have two internet radios; a Noxon iRadio and a Sangean WFR-20. The radios work independently of a computer, basically looking like a sometimes rather bulky transistor radio or table radio.

The Noxon iRadio was one of the first wifi internet radios available in the UK. I bought it about three years ago. There was nothing remotely like it available in the US for another couple of years at least. Stuff like satellite radio stifled demand here, although the US market is now discovering the benefits of internet radio - 15,000 stations freely available on your dial.

Hmmm ... freely available; more about that later ...

However, at the moment, the latest firmware is getting rather long in the tooth, although there is a beta-version available, but I can't get it to upload into the Noxon. One of the advantages of the Noxon is that it's a nPnP device and it can have some of its features controled via its own internal web interface. It uses the vTuner portal for access. vTuner is a pretty basic service with no user forum or similar available. It is also not able to access stations broadcasting in WMA, a problem if you like nice quality on the BBC. On the other hand vTuner has been pretty reliable.

One of the first wifi internet radios available in the USA was the Sangean WFR-20. This is a much more substantial radio than the Noxon and has a pretty good tone too.

Unfortunately the Sangean does not use nPnP, although the latest beta-firmware is working in that direction.

The Sangean uses as a portal. Stuff like favourites, streams and podcasts are controlled via the portal. Reciva also has the benefit of a lively support forum, although the forum software is pretty clunky and slow. Beta-firmware is available via the forums.

I also started for general internet radio chat and support. It's a bit slow taking off ... but who knows?

Internet radio does face some challenges though, in particular, geo-blocking and station flash-players.

Geo-blocking is internet radio broadcasters' response to rather dated copyright laws, sometimes just irritating - ie: BBC Radio 5 Live Premier football match commentaries blocked - but largely just plain restricting. Another problem is that radio stations will only play via a specially developed flash player application and stream, thus unavailable to internet radio devices and frequently associated with geo-blocking too. In other words, radio stations, and particularly US stations are determined to chain us to our computers.

Hopefully there will be a way around this.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Positively F-frigid

The last few days have been very cold indeed. A couple of snow showers of an inch or two, but but very, very cold. Early morning temperatures have read down to -14C from the car on the school run, exceptional, even for here. In addition, snow either falls and partially melts or freezing rain covers everything in an often thick layer of ice, so-called ice storms.

Since US electrical utilities still use wires stretched between wooden poles to go the final few miles to most consumers it means that either trees loaded with ice crash onto the cables, or the weight of ice on the wires themselves brings them down so power is a frequent victim.

I think many visitors to the US are surprised at the state of its infrastructure; massive cables strung alongside urban roads, potholes, post-industrial wastelands, rusty bridges, run-down railways, and even cell-phones seem stuck in the 80s. I think we'll be hearing a lot about this from the new US President. At least, America should hope so ...

Back on the Blog ... Again ...

Yes ... It's been a while ... I really must do better. It's not like nothing ever happens.

Of course, there's a ton of stuff going on; job, music, hifi, internet radio, cycling - not, Court & Social, etc ...

So make it my New Year's Resolution ... I will maintain my blogs.