It's been two weeks since my back surgery and while it hasn't exactly been a vacation, I have been taking the time to do and pay attention to things that don't require a lot of sitting (the hardest thing to do). It's relatively easy to click around on a computer while lying down. But typing in any great quantity is downright impossible (maybe someone can solve this problem). While I read and deleted a lot of email, I didn't do a lot of replying. Unless, of course, it was a "Get Well" email in which case I sent "Thank You" ecards. When first getting ready to send my thank you notes, my instincts took me to ecard specialist BlueMountain.com. But the minute it asked me for my credit card, Print publications that have learned to reinvent themselves...are more approachable and digestable than most Web sites. I bailed to Hallmark's free ecard service and wondered how it is that a paid ecard service can possibly survive while good free ones still exist.
Searching and researching on Google and eBay (to upgrade my podcasting rig) were good time killers. So too was was a paperback thick with Sudoku puzzles and rediscovering "print." Even as a hardcore dot-commer, I'm glad I spent time with magazines like Time. Last week's issue on global warning (the cover says "Be very worried") forced me to think about where IT coverage ranks in the big scheme of things. It was humbling.
Web sites still have a lot to learn from the designers of print publications like Time. The next evolutionary step for blog infrastructure providers should be less technological and lean more in the direction of advanced layout and design -- something that's still primarily a black art when it comes to Web pages. From one blog to the next -- even ours here on ZDNet -- they're all pretty much the same. I guess you could say the same thing about newspapers and magazines. But with the pressure being applied to them by the Web, the print publications that have learned to reinvent themselves and their presentations -- despite their lack of interactivity -- are more approachable and digestible than most Web sites. To the solution providers that demystify this black art will go the spoils.
So, going back to the podcasting rig research, stay tuned. I hope to launch an extensive package of blog entries later this week that fully documents what I learned. But, as a teaser, I'll start you off with this tidbit: my transcription of an incredibly informative interview that Dan Bricklin did of sound and video professional John Osborne. For a reality check on what's happening on the retail technology front, I also spent some time browsing the advertising supplements in the local newspapers and made a couple of observations. First, at $500-$700, consumer-targeted global positioning solutions like those from Tom-Tom seem to me to be too expensive for what they do. I've somehow managed to make it to the age of 44 without the convenience of a GPS system. When these systems drop below the price of $200, I may reconsider. Another device that I can't see buying is LG's kid friendly Migo phone. As long as the jury is still out on cell phone radiation -- and it most definitely is still out -- you're not going to see a cell phone next to my little boy's head. For more information on why the jury is out, check out last week's Dan & David Show where we talk about a new study by the Swedes that posits the existence of a connection between heavy cell phone usage and malignant tumors.
While reading the Boston Globe, I came across an incredibly intriguing story about the Massachusetts Bay Charter -- a nearly 400 year old document that could end up being permanently inaccessible to the public. The story caused me to reflect on what it is governments as well as businesses should really be after when it comes to the file formats that their electronic documents will be storied in (now and in perpetuity).
While on back surgery vacation, I also tried to do a little technological house cleaning. Along the way, I discovered more disappointing technical gotchas. The first of these is that despite my Acer Ferrari's ability to locate and pair itself with a set of HP's Bluetooth-based headphones, no sound comes out of them. The headphones are supposed to be very good and target HP's iPaq customers (they come with a CD for installing the software on Windows Mobile 2003-based handheld. But since they're Bluetooth-based, should they be able to connect to anything with a Bluetooth radio and do so with the same sort of ease that, say, a thumb drive works in a USB port? I'm actually tired of the excuses that have been offered to me as to why this doesn't work, shouldn't work, or what hoops I must jump through to get them to work. Recently, the Bluetooth SIG announced that it settled on using the WiMedia Alliance's UltraWideBand (UWB) technology as the basis for high speed Bluetooth. What does a faster Bluetooth mean to me? It'll just take less time for all of us to find out that this technology has taken ill.
Finally, when the clocks skipped forward an hour this past weekend, I noticed that the Verizon Wireless-provisioned Treo 700w that I'm testing was stuck in a time warp despite the fact that I have it set to collect its time from the network rather than from me. Whether someone forgot to change the clocks at Verizon Wireless or the Treo 700w has a problem, I couldn't tell. But it's one more fit and finish reason that I'm not crazy about this smartphone. For the record, Microsoft says the the Treo 700w isn't officially a smartphone. I say it is.