Web Conferencing Survey

Alex Williams of DecisionCast, who will be part of the IT Conversations broadcast from Gnomedex next week, would like your help. He’s conducting an online survey with Wainhouse Research. It only takes 10-15 minutes and there’s a chance you’ll win an Amazon.com gift certificate or an iPod.

.NET Rocks

I don’t know what took me so long. Listeners of IT Conversations have been telling me about .NET Rocks for a long time now. I finally went over there to check it out…very cool. Carl Franklin and Rory Blyth produce an entertaining two-hour show every week. You can stream it live or download on-demand in MP3 or Windows Media format in a variety of filesize/quality options. Broadcast-quality audio, interesting hosts and first-rate guests. They’ve been producing the show for more than two years, predating IT Converations by three months. According to their on-line stats, .NET Rocks gets about 5x our volume of listeners. Mostly about Microsoft, MSDN and .NET of course, with humor and music thrown in. Notifications (but no enclosures) via RSS. Check it out.

Sony to Support MP3

Big news for the portable audio player world: Sony confirmed on Wednesday that it is working to add native MP3 support to its portable music players–a major strategy reversal that could help it compete more effectively with rivals such as Apple Computer. [Source: news.com via Dave Winer]

Airport Express on the Road

I picked up one of these little Airport Express cubes at the local Apple store last week. I set it up as a second wifi LAN in my home to give my second TiVo a stronger signal. (With two Series 2 TiVos I can now watch shows on one TiVo that are stored on the other.) It’s easy to setup an Airport Express to do something simple, but it can be maddening to set up something more complex. For some reason Apple supplies not one but two different applications to manage the device, and I can’t keep track of which app to use for which purpose. Plus you’ve got to run Internet Connect on your Mac to change your IP address during setup, so that make three apps required to do anything except the most basic configs. That having been said, it does work. The range is very short, however. Through wood-frame walls and sheetrock, the signal falls off after as little as 30 feet.

But this weekend I found out where the Airport Express really shines: as a wifi access point in a hotel room. I was at the Monterey Jazz Festival and stayed in a 2-room suite at the Embassy Suites. Normally I’d be tied to the 3-meter CAT5 cable they supply or at best a longer cable I’d have to bring myself. But this time I just plugged the little Airport Express cube into the wall outlet and attached the CAT5 cable from the hotel’s box. That was it. No installation, no nuthin’. I turned on the iBook and it just worked. The network in the hotel room had the same SSID as the network at home and the WEP and MAC Access List didn’t need to be changed either. I could take my iBook anywhere in the suite, totally wireless. Most cool.

I did discover something interesting. At one point I wanted to connect my iBook directly, without the Airport Express. I found I couldn’t because the $9.95 per day connection through the hotel was apparently dedicated to the MAC address of the Airport Express. Unless I wanted to pay another $9.95, I could only get out via the Airport Express. Not a problem, but something to be aware of.

Update: See the comments. Glenn Fleishman has a $10 eBook that probably answers most of my questions and yours, too. Certainly his other writing on WiFi has been awesome.

Out of Phase

Ever wonder how things sound when you get your speaker wiring wrong? Take a listen to Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code for September 19. Don’t listen on headphones…it will sound normal. Instead, listen on your desktop or laptop speakers–where the distance between the speakers is the same or less than the distance to your ears. Move your head a little from side to side and you’ll hear how very strange it is.

It turns out that Adam had a cable wired out of phase, and he’s corrected the problem in later editions of the Daily Source Code.