Mike Dawson's blog

Alltel's Answer to the iPhone?

Alltel messages cell
Alltel doesn't build hardware of course. Anything they do has to be from the "back end"– the services they supply. With their new "celltop" service, it looks like they want to add lots of eye candy to the phones that can handle it.


Vista Doesn't Trust You

Here are yet more reasons to buy a Mac instead of a new PC when you realize your current computer won't run the new Microsoft operating system.

It really does seem that Microsoft thinks its customers are suckers too dumb to avoid buying things that are bad for them.

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How to Ruin Your Monitor

  1. Take a sip of whatever you're drinking.
  2. Watch this Apple video.
  3. Time it so that the last line of it comes right as you're trying to swallow.

Seriously, this is as close as I've ever come to doing a spit take on my computer.

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Handy Method of Escaping a Verizon Contract

This script can get you out of your Verizon cell contract if you have text as part of your service but don't have a separate text plan add on.

You know, in case you have some reason you might want to switch to some other carrier. Cingular, for example.

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Let iTunes Keep You Aware of Upcoming Concerts

iConcertCal is a really amazing iTunes plug in that matches the groups in your playlists to concert dates in your area. No idea how complete it is--big acts don't get to Charlottesville all that often, and my tastes run to odd groups who may not hit the small venues here.

We are not a company and this is not a commercial venture. We are just two grad students in electrical engineering. We wrote this plug-in in our spare time because we were tired of missing concerts for our favorite bands and we figured other people probably are too. We are still working to improve iConcertCal, so if you have suggestions please send them along to us.

I'm very impressed, even though it only found the two Blue Man Group shows coming up. It's probably too much to hope for that it can match up with shows at smaller venues like Starr Hill.

Price of an iPhone

Reading the MacWorld Keynote coverage right now, I initially thought that $499-599 for a new phone might be kind of steep. But then I remembered that about ten years ago, I happily paid about that same amount of money for a used Newton 2000.
So from that perspective, I think the iPhone is quite a deal.

Bring on the Zune Hacks!

Based on the wide variety of lackluster and hostile reviews, the Zune is heading the way of Nehru jackets, Audreys and Newtons.Considering how poorly thought out many of the technical features of the Zune are, it is no surprise. I imagine a time a few months from now when retailers dump their unsold Zunes for substantial discounts. Since Microsoft's margins on a consumer device must be razor thin, once the clearance discounts start, a Zune will probably be worth more as parts than as a whole device. So, like these previous devices in search of customers, before you know it industrious hackers will be tearing Zunes apart in order to use the drive, screen and other internal parts for their own hardware projects. I'm sure the software guys will also work hard to break into the Zune's operating system, just like they found a way to turn the Xbox into the Xbox media center. Just like hackers are already working hard to do to the Xbox 360. I can't wait to see what comes first. Here are a few of my guesses:

  • Linux (really a prerequisite for many of the following things)
  • wireless-based walkie-talkie (does Zune have sound in? No specs I could find list it)
  • MAME Compatibility
  • Doom

What hacks do you imagine will be possible on the Zune platform?
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Why I'm Still Using an Old Cell Phone

This story about the Apple iPhone makes me impatient for the beginning of 2007. I sure wish I could get to MacWorld in San Francisco. I just hope that whatever phone they put out, it is able to pull some decent signal at my house. I live in a pretty rural area, even though we're not that far from the interstate.


Amazon Unbox Doesn't Trust You. Don't Trust Amazon Unbox

I'll bet you never read the "terms and service" agreements that almost everyone forces on you before you use their product.

If you're considering using the Amazon Unbox movie service, be glad that the folks at Boing Boing have taken the trouble to read and analyze it for you:

Boing Boing: Amazon Unbox to customers: Eat shit and die

For example, here's his analysis of their "privacy" terms:

Amazon says it respects your privacy, but this clause tells the real story. Click "I agree" and you've just signed away permission for Amazon to wiretap all of your viewing habits, and to search your entire hard drive continuously and report back on all the software you've installed. The entertainment industry can produce a blacklist of legal software that it just doesn't care for -- say, software that lets you take screenshots, or screen-movies -- and refuse to allow your movies to run if you've installed it. In other words, this clause lets Hollywood specify how you must configure your PC.


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