Getting DSL 11 miles from the nearest paved road

My friend Marianne left Intel to move to a place “off the grid” in the coast range mountains, and is thoroughly enjoying the nature and solitude. But since I convinced her to start a blog, to stay in touch, and also generally to stay connected, she’s having DSL installed. Her house runs on generators and battery power, and is truly “off the grid” – 11 miles from the nearest paved road, yet she’s having broadband installed to stay connected with the world, and share her writing. What a geek! πŸ™‚

Marianne, you’ll have to share the installation details once you get hooked up, and everything gets settled. And pictures are a must, of course! I’m especially interested in finding out what power solution you ended up going with.

Update: Marianne now has DSL! Yay! πŸ™‚ No photos yet, but she’s online.Β 


I’m on the phone with Tim O’Reilly. No, seriously. I am.

Yes, that Tim O’Reilly. We’re doing an interview (I’m just the audio geek, recording the call over Skype) with him for one of Intel’s internal podcasts. He’s on his cell phone on the way to the airport, to spend the weekend with Richard Branson (yes, that Richard Branson) on his Carribean isle, to talk about Web 2.0 (the O’Reilly Web 2.0 Conference is next week).

I’m really going to try to see if I can get permission to publish this podcast audio outside of Intel. It’s fascinating to hear Tim talking about Web 2.0, how it’s a fundamentally participatory medium (not just the next TV, where only “eyeballs” matter). Can you tell I’m a little star struck? πŸ™‚

One interesting quote – Tim was asked “when it comes down to it, what does a company need to do to be successful in this Web 2.0 reality?” His answer: “Well, to start, hire a bunch of young kids, who [grew up in the age of the Internet], and give them power and authority.” Geek power! πŸ™‚


TinyPodcast: A week with a Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC

I wrote a teaser post a few days ago in ink, about a new device that I got to play with for a week. To top off that week in grand style, Brian and I got together to record a podcast, old-school style. Just two geeks in a conference room with a mic, some gadgets, and a whole lot to talk about. The show is about an hour long, and 27MB. You can play it directly from the player on this post, or use the download link. Or even better, subscribe to the TinyScreenfuls feed in your favorite podcast aggregator (like iTunes) to get it automatically.

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Aaron from Intel Software Network was nice enough to arrange to get me a Samsung Q1 UMPC to use for a week (it’s actually the same unit you see in my video with Aaron). “But you have to blog about it!” he said. I didn’t blog about it while I had it, because I was saving up to talk about all of my impressions on the podcast with Brian (Aaron was invited, but couldn’t make it). Aaron, I hope this podcast makes up for it. πŸ™‚

What’s a UMPC? For those who don’t know, it’s basically a very small Tablet PC. It runs full blown Windows XP Tablet Edition, and can be hooked up to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and used just like a regular PC. But the Ultra Mobile part is what’s so cool about it. About the size of a paperback book, with a 7 inch touch screen, you can take it anywhere. Imagine what new uses you could find for such a powerful, small device in your life. I know I have…

So, here you have a full hour of pure, geeky TinyPodcast goodness. Brian and I talk about the Q1 and UMPCs in general. Brian bought himself a Q1 UMPC a few months ago, and has been living with it daily since then. He loves it, and has been blogging about it over on his blog, In the podcast, we go over what we each like and don’t like about the hardware, design, software, and general usage of the UMPC.

What’s the verdict? Well, all I can say is the best way to sell these puppies is to let people use one for a while. I fell in love pretty quickly, but no one who reads this blog will be surprised by that. πŸ™‚ I had to give it back this morning, and that was HARD. Even worse, I now have a terrible case of “gadget lust” – you know, the irrational yearning for a new toy that leads to you being willing to rack up the credit card debt just to get your hands on the object of your desire. My wife is NOT amused. πŸ˜‰

For me, though, it’s not the Samsung Q1 that I want. Brian tipped me off to the Asus R2H, which is the same form factor and price as the Q1 ($1000), but has more RAM (768 MB vs 512 MB), a bigger hard drive (60GB vs 40GB), an SD slot (instead of CF – more useful to me), integrated GPS (turns it into a full navigation system), and a 1.3 megapixel camera. NewEgg has them for $998, and I’m telling you, it’s SO hard not to reach for the credit card! I have to sell some old gadgets or something to come up with a way to finance this, because I REALLY want one of these! If anyone wants to sponsor TinyScreenfuls for a while by getting me one of these, let’s talk! πŸ™‚

Hope you enjoy the podcast – as always, let us know if you have any questions or comments. You know how to reach us. And before you ask, yes, Brian and I are going to start doing the podcast regularly again. So stay subscribed! πŸ™‚

Podcasts, Video

Video: Going Deep on Multi-Core with Intel’s Charles Congdon

Charles Congdon is a software architect at Intel, and in this 1 hour 22 minute (186 MB) video, he gives the best, most in-depth explanation I’ve ever heard about what the coming age of multi-core in general, and in particular, what it means to you as a developer.

The time when your app got a free performance boost when a faster processor came along is going away. Now, with the advent of two, four, and many-core systems, there are some pretty fundamental changes that have to happen in your applications in order for them to keep up. Parallelism, mutli-threading, being threadsafe, and more. It could be that one of your competitors “gets” multicore more than you do, and therefore his apps perform better on multicore systems. Or, worst case scenario, your app could be just plain broken on multicore.

But fear not! There’s hope and help out there for you. Intel Software Network has a vested interest in helping you make your code ready for the multicore era. There are lots of tools, resources, and people available to help you. And watching this video is a great place to start. Charles gives a very easy to understand explanation of everything from the basics on up to debugging tips, etc. I’m not a real developer, but even I could follow his explanations.

So grab this video file, set aside an hour and twenty minutes or so (or break it up into smaller sessions – there are logical stopping points in the video), and go deep with Charles, to get up to date on developing in a multicore world.