Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Kalling Ground Kontrol Fans!

Do you love you some Ground Kontrol? Of course you do. What’s not to love? Beer + Burgertime = CRAZY DELICIOUS!

Well if the old school arcade game is your thing, then you do NOT wanna miss this. I am late to the party I admit, but Cinema 21 is playing The King Of Kong, a documentary about a couple of guys and their quest for a Donkey Kong-based Guinness World Record. I want to see it for this reason alone:

Eugene Novikov of Film Blather believes that the film plays like “a real-life version of a Christopher Guest mockumentary.”

How can it be bad? You can check out the trailer and the official site for more info. I always their subtitle (A Fistful Of Quarters) would be a good title for a film, so I’m bummed they beat me to it, but this looks like a great flick. Have you seen it? What did you think?

How Do You Feel About Portland’s Many Bridges?

As it always, unfortunately, does, it seems that the bridge collapse in Minnesota last weekend has shifted the ever-roving eye of the media on the state of other bridges around the country, including Oregon. MSNBC has a handy-dandy state-by-state guide to the level of disrepair of water-spanning roadways, and looking at the Multnomah area specifically, it’s a bit off-putting to see the number of spans that are rated either “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” — though the same page also indicates that a score of 100 equals an “entirely sufficient” bridge and many of the bridges on the chart are in the 80s or 90s, which I guess means they’re fairly safe.

I haven’t really been watching the local news, but I’m guessing they’ve been chattering away for days about whether or not Portland bridges are safe to travel over — and just a guess, but I’ll wager Fox 12 has had more “unsafe bridges” stories than the other channels. Either way, I know in my travels this weekend, I was much more aware of crossing over even small bodies of water, though it didn’t really stop me from driving on.

Did Intel lose their minds?

Because right now I’m leaning towards YES!!!!

I got an invitation from Josh Bancroft, Intel blogger and one of the BLF’s internet friends. It was to a reception and “event” regarding some sort of “announcement”. So as “one of them there bloggy types”, I said I’d go and headed off to the Doug Fir tonight after work. Well I know I’m getting in just under the wire with my announcement, but I am certain it is well covered on other blogs (don’t worry, I added it below).

Here are reasons why I think Intel done lost their fool minds, and in the absolute BEST possible way:

* They invited bloggers and press ONLY to an event. There is a press embargo on this stuff till tomorrow, but the bloggers could start on it the second they heard what was going on.
* Geeks + Open Bar = Crazy Delicious
* Intel put an engineer on the stage to talk about this.
* We got the open bar before AND after the talk.

I’m sure there are more reasons, but for now here’s the scoop on Oregon’s largest private employer: Threading Building Blocks, Intel’s premier multi-core programming tool is being open sourced. Yup! Straight up giving it away. Now I don’t write a lot of code (OK, aside from HTML I don’t really write any) but they put an engineer on stage to talk about it and until it got right down to full-on code comparison, I totally understood it. This is a pretty big deal imnsho, as technology goes, and they couldn’t have picked a better time to start giving stuff away Open Sourced than the Open Source CONference as it goes down here in Portland.

It’s interesting to see a “big” company work on building a community and responding within it. I am fascinated with their efforts and very interested in how it turns out for them. If you’re interested in TBB, you can find out more about it on their site as well as in the discussion forums and of course, the requisite O’Reilly book. Essential links here.

So if you ask me, Intel has completely lost it. I can’t imagine anything better, and I hope they lose it even more in the future.

Have You Schmapped?

I haven’t spent much time exploring the new (?) online mapping service Schmap as of yet, but it looks like it could be a pretty cool interface, and Portland is one of their featured cities.

I actually only found out about it because they asked to use one of my pictures on one of the restaurant listings for N. Portland’s own Beaterville Cafe (though hello, I’m pretty sure they take cards there). Not many of the listings have pics yet, so I’m guessing they’re still looking for shots — they notified me via Flickr, so if you’ve got photos of local restaurants posted there, check your e-mail on the site.

I don’t often find myself in need of an all-inclusive citywide search thingamabob, but if you’re looking for yet another guide to the city complete with mini reviews and map linkies, Schmap looks like a decent bet.

If it Ain’t Sick, Don’t Fix It

Anybody seen Sicko yet? I haven’t, mostly ’cause I feel like it’ll be preaching to the converted and will just make me depressed about the state of healthcare in America right when I’m supposed to feel pride in our independence.

But then yesterday, my wife got a bill in the mail for some health-related services that just about drove me batty and once again emphasized the need for a simpler, less bureaucratic method of benefits. Of course, this bill wasn’t based on our insurance’s error but rather on the provider themselves, who apparently couldn’t keep their records straight and/or double-check their math before underbilling our insurance (and, um, we pay for insurance so we don’t get bills like this) and rebilling us for something we’d already paid — not to mention the fact that the invoice they sent her, for an eye exam, had a different amount on it than the invoice they sent me a few weeks ago for the exact same thing — and for which they had billed our insurance company in an amount larger than what they indicated on her invoice. I’m still trying to attribute that to their obvious math deficiencies, but it sure looks sketchy. Which is too bad, because their in-office service was pretty great, but we won’t be going back for additional annual exams.

And we have all the documentation and bill-paid records and such that we need in order to straighten everything out, mostly ’cause we’re super-anal about bills and don’t have the extra cash to just be throwing around so go over every bill that comes in with a fine-tooth comb, but I wonder sometimes about people who might just get a bill in the mail and either not be able to get through the accumulated BS of insurance statements vs. provider invoices vs. credit card bill statements or have the time and patience to contest a bill or maybe those who would just say, “Ah, it’s a bill, guess I better pay it.”

Somehow I doubt that Michael Moore — or probably any of the political parties — have the right answer, but I do know some change is needed.

$599 Are You Out Of Your Mind?

Yes, I’m talking about the iPhone. Yes, I’m a skeptic… but it’s not what you think I swear.

It’s just that I can’t figure out who needs an iPhone. Who are all these people standing around waiting to get one? And for that matter why is it that so many people normally walking around moaning about their finances and the high price of health care can suddenly plunk down $599 (is that with or with out accessories) for a fancy pants phone?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a consumer whore. My family, they’re consumer whores too. We have TiVo, Mp3 players, we have a laptop each, and then there is our beloved Wii, but at some point I have to wonder who really needs to watch Pirates of the Caribbean on their telephone?

MetroFi is no longer the devil

I’ve ranted in the past on how bad MetroFi is, how bad the coverage is, and so on. In the interest of fairness, I thought before leaving I should divulge something:

Lately, MetroFi is working.

I still can’t get it in my house, despite having 2 bars on my Palm. But when I’ve been within a block of a node, with line of sight, I’ve been able to connect downtown, in NW Portland, and in SE Portland in nearly all of my recent attempts.

I still hate the fact that I can’t get a free connection in my home without buying some sort of boosting gear. But MetroFi seems to be pulling it together, and since I’ve been a huge nay-sayer, I needed to share that.

Of course, if you’re still experiencing craptastic service with MetroFi, we’re all ears!

Cutting the Cord

Last week, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I bit the bullet and cancelled my cable service. I just couldn’t justify the $75 expense (digital cable +DVR for HD service/channels) for what was basically five or six channels out of 150 or so that I watched on a regular basis, especially not during the summer when A) most of the seasons are over for shows that I watch and B) there’s no football.

To Comcast’s credit, when I called to cancel, they just said “okay, we can do that for you” with no push for a different tier of service and no question of why I wasn’t satisfied, which I appreciate, even if it may be somewhat contrary in a business sense in some ways — shouldn’t you at least want to note why I’m dropping the service? Anyway, every time I’ve had to deal with their customer-service reps, I’ve been pleasantly surprised, and if and when I decide that I need to hook another box up to my TV, I’ll consider going back to Comcast if only for that reason.
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TriMet’s Trip Planner Is Down

Originally uploaded by russ.

You may have used TriMet’s Trip Planner to determine which buses or light rail trains you should take to get from “here” to “there.” Step by step instructions make this a great resource.
I have such a trip in mind for this evening- but I have been trying the TripPlanner for several hours and it seems to have been down all day.
I hope they have some programmers working on the problem and this vital resource will be back up soon.

Update: Back up around 3 p.m.

MetroFi claiming over 11,000 monthly users

MetroFi, despite having mixed results from local wireless Internet surfers, seems to be gaining a foothold here in Portland. It put out a press release today saying they now have over 11,000 monthly users – a 40% increase since April. It also said over 70 new free outdoor access points had been added.

Any new thoughts on MetroFi? Still getting the same mixed results? Even bothering to use it?

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