Particle Debris (week ending 2/20) Breakdowns, Putdowns, and Shutdowns

On Monday, the Washington Post wrote about the reasons why the DTV transition has been fraked up. Apparently, the Federal government had a hard time figuring out who would be affected, and the whole thing was run by two federal agencies, so there was no clear ownership of the problem. Also, they failed to anticipate the last minute rush for coupons in December. It's a classic example of how the best efforts of technical people in government can't make headway against politics and wishful thinking by senior officials. There a more goodies in the three page analysis piece.

For a more, direct and funny view of the whole affair, I was shown a hysterical YouTube video that characterizes the problem more bluntly, especially for older Americans. You have to see this.

Also on Monday, there was a story about how lawmakers in Pennsylvania want to prohibit students from possessing cell phones, iPods, or other PDAs "in school, on school buses and at school-sponsored activities." That so Luddite and insane I can't even start to get my head around it. Remember in the 80s when teachers said PCs would put them out of their jobs? What they're missing in Pa. is that we need teachers who are smart, tough, empowered and leaders. Taking away these pervasive devices doesn't solve the real problem of inspiring, teaching, and leading children with love and insight.

On Tuesday, I noted a Reuters report that Nokia has secured a deal with Skype to add the capability to some of its smartphones in Q3 this year. According to the article, "Most mobile operators are wary of Skype, fearing they will lose revenue through consumers paying little or nothing for calls," but Skype CEO Josh Silverman cited evidence by one carrier to contradict that. In any case, the iPhone is not only a great phone, but is also kicking the competition into high gears. I like that.

On Wednesday, Daniel Dilger wrote about how Microsoft sees enemies everywhere on a story entitled, "Did Microsoft kill Android at Mobile World Congress 2009?" Several of us here at TMO think the photo of Ballmer was Photoshopped, but even so, Mr. Dilger does his usual great job at analyzing what upsets Microsoft in the mobile world and how they typically react.

Also, on Wednesday Hulu's CEO Jason Kilar announced that they're pulling out of boxee, to everyone's dismay. ( lost Hulu as well.)  Mr. Kilar tried to put a good face on it, but we know that the issue is always money and business deals behind the scenes. Executives lay away nights trying to figure out how to make consumers pay more and consumers do the same trying to spend less. And so it goes...

Bill Virgin wrote an interesting story at Seattlepi on Wednesday about the woes of satellite radio and why it has failed. I traded some e-mail with him and pointed out that the iPod has had a lot to do with it, but the focus of the story is really how broadcast radio and other effects have conspired to keep broadcast radio in the game against Sirius/XM. It's also a sobering story about how, when one builds a technology that costs billions and a decade to mature, changing technology can pull the rug out from under you. The Iridium phone system had that happen to them as well.

On Thursday, I got my response from Samsung about how to figure out the MAC (Media Access Control) address of my blu-ray player. It's not on the back of the unit and it's not in any menu display. Are you ready? A short, cryptic response said that the MAC address is only available in the "service" menu -- which I can't access. %#&^#&^!

That's unacceptable.

This is the second time I've complained about Samsung customer service here. My question is, what was Samsung thinking when they designed the BD-P1400? (I used IP Scanner to figure it out anyway.)

On Friday, Seth Weintraub at Computerworld conjectured that Apple is re-adjusting its product introduction cycle: FYQ1: desktops, Q2: iPhone, Q3: iPods, Q4: MacBooks. It looks like a good theory to me, but I also think Apple had to backtrack a little on the design after the MacBook FireWire fiasco.

Finally, on Friday, 9to5Mac posted this compelling video of a supposed new Mac mini. A video is a lot harder to fake than a static photo which can be Photoshopped, but even so, if one were a very good metal worker and had some extra connectors laying around, one could construct a non-working back panel. But why? Maybe it's a video resume.