Leaping Leopard onto a trial PC DVD

Lifehacker has an update to its story about installing Mac OS X on a PC, creating what it calls a Hackintosh. Apple frowns on such a practice. Its tight control of hardware is part of what enables it to advance the platform with greater agility than Microsoft.

Comments to the story report generally good success with the hack. One commenter notes that he would use the technique to test-drive Mac OS X before buying a Mac.

With Apple taking the offensive against Vista, it might further entice Windows users to switch by allowing them to trial Mac OS X without having to buy into the hardware first. Like many Linux installation CDs, the Leopard trial DVD could run from the disc but not allow any modifications to the hard drive or allow consumers to save files.

On the other hand, there might of course be driver issues as well as sluggish performance coming off the DVD drive and the last thing Apple wants to convey to Windows users is a slow, unreliable experience. Insert your Microsoft OS joke here.

A day in the life of Modu

imageFlash memory vendor MSystems was one of the early companies to popularize the now-ubiquitous USB flash drive under the DiskOnKey brand. The USB flash drive finally replaced the floppy as the sneakernet medium of choice, and SanDisk is trying to extend its province to the TV with TakeTV.

Now a few former MSystems executives are helming the team at Modu Mobile which, from its sound effect-laden concept video, may be working to create a digital core that can be docked into a wide array of I/O peripherals the same way iPods dock into speaker docks and other accessories. Modu clearly intends on-the-go applications as its concept video shows usage in a car as well as what looks like a bicycle-mounted portable navigation device

CrunchGear claims that the device will be revealed at 3GSM and includes a cellular radio, If so, though, why doesn’t the keypad below the screen have numbers? Relying on a phone enclosure would add more docking and undocking throughout the day.

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Schmidt not phoning it in as an Apple Board member

Last week, TechCrunch picked up a New Yorker story that notes that Eric Schmidt now recuses himself from the segments of Apple board meetings that discuss the iPhone due to a conflict of interest with Google’s Android operating system, about which Chairman Jobs is none too keen. I wonder if he uses that time off to field calls from his fellow Google executives imploring him to get in there and remember the part about organizing the world’s information.

Erick Schonfeld asks what good is a board member who cannot talk about a company’s hottest product, going so far as to suggest whether Schmidt should be on Apple’s board at all? At least for now, Schmidt is benefiting Apple according to the old adage about “the enemy of my enemy.” But I also wonder about the slippery slope. Can Schmidt be there when they talk about being able to access Flickr albums from Apple TV?

Embedded Netflix will have humble beginnings


Jeremy Toeman and Dave Zatz weighed in yesterday on the Netflix announcement that it will be partnering with LG on what it hopes will be the first of “100 Netflix-capable boxes” (putting its aspirational numbers significantly behind the thousand gPhones that Eric Schmidt is pursuing).

Jeremy notes the challenges of bringing a “fifth box” into the living room. It’s true that the standalone home network/broadband content access device has struggled for a number of reasons that I’ve explored in depth elsewhere. The alternative is easier said than done, though. Jeremy writes:

The “smart” marketing of the (rumored) $799 HD/Blu-Ray player will simply label it as having Netflix “built in” or something like that.

Right idea, wrong Trojan horse. The problem is that no amount of smart marketing will dramatically expand the market for a $799 dual-format high-def disc player, which is being hampered by nearly as many problems as Internet set-top boxes. There are standard-definition DVD players, of course, but that market has been completely commoditized.

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Slinging. Now in high-definition

Just when you thought your 3G network could comfortably handle low-resolution video, Sling Media has finally gone hi-def. Of course, it intends to position this primarily for moving content around the home to PCs and other televisions (once the SlingCatcher hits next year), but the timing couldn’t be a better fit for my presentation of high-def beyond the television as part of a presentation that I’ll be giving at CES. Sling must have a fair percentage of users that use the streaming function within the home or a strong belief that those numbers will increase once the loop is closed. It seems it’s not just for expats and road warriors.

This is also the best looking Slingbox to date. The company has definitely stepped up its industrial design from the early days of the funky Chunky bar.

iShift will make Internet radio recording big… literally.

Time-shifting terrestrial radio has been around for a while. with standalone products from PoGo Electronics, purveyors of fine windup remote controls, the unfortunately capitalized radio SHARK Mac and PC accessory from Griffin, and the new MP3 player filling station from PopCatcher, taking another stab after the TraxCatcher never came to market.

But now a new wave of Internet radio time-shifters are coming to market. There’s the imminent Slacker Portable and the definitely not portable iShift Internet Media Receiver (check out the introductory video with the pornotronica soundtrack), which  packs an 80 GB hard drive. Who needs to record 1,300 hours of Internet radio? in any case, this living room-sized component will be able to sideload its storehouse to the iPod and other MP3 players and uses an Internet recording service from Timeless Radio which looks competitive with the iRoamer service launched a few years back by Aussie firm Torian Wireless.

The MP3 filling station concept, whether it uses FM, Internet radio or some other source, stands to simplify the process of loading up a portable music player.

Adding HD-DVD to the 360 makes sense

Microsoft Xbox HD-DVD player

Rumors are circulating that Bill Gates will announce in what may be his final CES keynote that Microsoft will add HD-DVD to the Xbox 360. Microsoft has presented arguments against doing so in the past, offering that game players should not have to pay for a technology that they don’t need. At the same time, though, Microsoft has gone upmarket with the the 360 Premium configuration, and the addition of a larger hard drive contributes no more to the Xbox gaming experience as an HD-DVD drive would. Microsoft has already reduced the price of the external drive; an integrated one would be a logical next step as the component costs have come down.

There’s also the factor of how many external Xbox HD-DVD drive buyers would have preferred to have the internal drive rather than add another box to a crowded home theater, or how many are resisting purchasing an external drive for that reason. Furthermore, while the tie ratios of Blu-ray movie titles to the PlayStation 3 can be debated, there is ample evidence that many PS3 buyers are purchasing at least a few movies, and the HD-DVD camp simply can’t ignore the high volumes of the PS3 Trojan horse. Integrating an HD-DVD drive into at least one 360 Premium configuration is an opportunity for Microsoft to put its machines where its mouth is.

How to see spots

image A few weeks ago, I tried out the StarTech Wi-Fi Finder, which is nearly identical to an earlier product put out by prolific networking vendor ZyXel. Both look like extra large thumb drives with an LCD and display hotspot names as well as their channels. They have internal batteries that are recharged via USB and can actually also work as 802.11g network adapters, which might be helpful for a desktop as it’s been built into notebooks for some time. A third product in the vein from TrendNet, also released some time ago, added some embedded flash memory to the mix.

The granddaddy of the LCD-equipped hotspot locator is Canary Wireless’ Digital Hotspotter and it looks like the company — which has branched off into embedded wireless modules — will soon be taking the wraps off the pictured Digital Hotspotter 2..If nothing else, it seems to up the style of the original. What I’d really like to see in this category is a product that could confirm not only whether an access point was open, but whether it was actually providing Internet access by pinging some server somewhere.

MovieBeam’s final cut

The reports turned out to be true. Despite Movie Gallery having both my email address and a direct digital link to my MovieBeam box, I received the official confirmation that the service was shutting down via quaint snail mail — quaint enough to arrive two days after the service was slated to be terminated. Moviebeam.com finally reflects the service’s defunct status.

There were still a few movies listed on the service for a while, but then the device began an unusual self-destruct procedure where it started erasing the titles featured on the service. I could just hear cries of “Dave… my mind is going.” in the background.I thought it somewhat poetic that the last film listed on my box was the Nicholas Cage movie Next.

00190543[1] Word on the street seems to be that — unlike the hard drive in the defunct RCA Akimbo box — the MovieBeam receiver’s hard drive is unfit for reuse due to use of an encryption chip (clearly developed before the current green trend) so it looks like the only souvenir I will keep from the product is its antenna that I’m going to try to reuse as a picture frame.

However, it’s not nearly as cool as the little Newscatcher pyramid that I still have from the vintage 1997 AirMedia Live push service.

At Starbucks, the song doesn’t remain the same

Since the end of the iTunes song giveaway at Starbucks, I’ve noticed the addition of performance videos in promotion of James Taylor’s One Man Band live album. I’ve also seen more consecutive songs by the same artists from the same album, such as the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss duet album Raising Sand.

In my experience since the launch, the performance of the Tunes integration has been somewhat inconsistent. I intermittently get messages in iTunes saying that it cannot connect within the Starbucks and then the song list suddenly appears (and then disappears later). This seems unrelated to Wi-Fi as my connection stays active even during these period

All this leaves me wondering more about the system that Starbucks uses to drive the Sony LCD TVs in its stores. Is a PC mounted behind the screen? Is the application Flash-based? How often are new playlists downloaded?