Sweet – my Dish DVR is illegal!

Well, just the 942 I have upstairs and the 721 I have stuffed away in a closet somewhere – and it doesn’t apply to me since I already bought them. But the fallout of the TiVo patent case apparently is that Dish can’t sell those machines anymore.

Of course, they’re not actually selling them anymore, so it’s more of a moral victory there for TiVo, I guess.

The notice Dish put out talks about “updated software” that newer boxes like my 622 have received that allow them to escape this injunction, but I haven’t seen anything that details why that is. From what I understand, the court ruled that TiVo’s “multi-media time-warping system” patent was valid and enforceable, and that Dish’s DVRs violated that patent. Dish refers to “next-generation” software that has been installed that does not infringe the patent, but my 942 sure does work a whole lot like my “next-generation” 622.

If I had to guess – and as a starting point for any IP lawyers who might be hanging around and want to offer an opinion – I’d say it’s because the TiVo patent is tied to “MPEG” encoding and Dish escapes that because their “next generation” boxes use MPEG-2 encoding. I know that the difference between my 942 and my 622 is MPEG-1 vs. MPEG-2 and that the 942 cannot be upgraded to receive MPEG-2, so that’s the basis of my hypothesis here. I don’t think MPEG-2 existed (or at least wasn’t in wide circulation) at the time of TiVo’s patent, so perhaps the court interpreted the reference to MPEG to mean MPEG-1, since that was the standard at the time. Thus, perhaps, TiVo’s patent was not worded well to cover future MPEG versions.

Other than the encoding standard used, my two Dish boxes work almost identically. Search and other software features are pretty much the same and there’s no apparent difference in the user experience. That also makes me think it’s something on the back end. In any case, I cherish my illegal DVRs, and you can have them when you pry them from … well, you know.

Extraface scores Yahoo thrift store gem

My buddy and former EarthLink underling Dave Coustan (brilliantly known as Extraface out in the world) scored himself a hell of a find at a thrift store this weekend.

The Yahoo Web Speak game no doubt made many a girl LOL around the turn of the century, and I hear Microsoft and Yahoo executives are actually communicating through the game’s IM cards during merger negotiations.

Somewhere around here, I still have my new-in-box Monopoly – The Dot Com Edition, but Yahoo Web Speak blows that away in terms of awesome Pre-Bubble 1.0 board games. And for those who think we’re again in an Internet Bubble – you’re wrong! I just checked around, and neither Scene It? – The YouTube Edition or Mad Libs – The Twitter Edition are in production – yet.

Demarcus Buice denied bond, makes awesome apology

This is a bit of a cross-post from Live For Buzz (still building juice there), but it was a big day for Buzzers down at DeKalb Magistrate Court.

The short story (see Live For Buzz for details) is that there is a local perp named Demarcus Buice who is charged with four burglaries and suspected of many more. He has been on the Atlanta Police Most Wanted list for six months and was finally picked up this week. Showing up at court this morning was part of the strategy to get bond denied and keep him in jail.

And it worked. But the awesomeness came from Buice deciding it was a good idea for him to tell the judge he won’t break into any more houses and to apologize to the crowd for breaking into their homes. WSB-TV was there to capture it.

Helio personal data breached

I got a notice yesterday from Helio, my former wireless carrier through my former employer, that I am among a group of their subscribers whose personal information may have been breached and that I’m in danger of identify theft because of it.

We are writing to you because of a recent compromise in security. Helio has discovered that restricted data containing certain personal information was accessed through illegal means.

We regret to inform you that your name is among those that may have been compromised. While we are uncertain whether your personal information was actually obtained, we know that the individual(s) responsible sought and retrieved some personal information, including customer names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and partial Social Security numbers (last four digits).

Helio has taken steps to secure this data by limiting access to this information, resetting passwords and implementing new procedures to protect this information. In addition, Helio has notified the appropriate law enforcement agencies and an investigation is being conducted.

Just swell. So now I need to contact the credit bureaus, put a fraud alert on my account, check my credit records and monitor my credit for the next year or so. Is it so freaking hard to keep customer information under wraps?

And thanks, Helio, for taking “steps to secure this data” – after the breach.

Totally uncalled for

The LSU football team made their pilgrimage to the White House yesterday to get the obligatory pat on the back from the President. Good job by Steltz of getting his manly mane up front for the big photo op with George:


And we gave Bush a 7 jersey, not a 1 (like Texas) or a 43 (like Florida). We gave him a 1 after the 2003 season, so I guess the athletic department was looking for something else, but I’m not sure where 7 came from. Bush’s 7th year in office? Dunno.

In any case, the ceremony was nice, but an ugly scene sort of ruined the day:


Seriously, Tubbs. Time to call them off. Glenn’s having a hard enough time already.

Me, now

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written much of anything not related to college football. For longtime Wisdom readers, the outward appearance is probably that not much is happening with old Cap’n Ken.

In reality, though, the past eight months have been a whirlwind of change. And I find myself immersed in a new world pondering how to reconnect to the old world.

All of this change has been driven by two primary events; the birth of my daughter August 1 and being laid off by EarthLink on August 28. I made a passing reference to having a child, but haven’t really mentioned the layoff here. I can’t say I’m not somewhat bitter at the trajectory of my career with the former employer, but I welcomed the severance package when it came.

It’s not how I planned things, but the layoff meant I got paid for a good while to be home with Daphne, the wife was able to go back to work without burning all of her vacation time and we weren’t pushed to daycare like a lot of people when the baby was two or three months old.

And eight months in, I’m still a stay-at-home dad. Only now I’m not being paid for it. The long-term plan is for me to return to work and for the wife to be home and work her freelance web design skills to generate income. The timetable for that is unclear, though.

So my days are spent chasing a baby and my nights and weekends are spent piddling around with web projects hoping to hit upon something that might bring in some money. But more than the potential to generate income, I’m trying to keep my product and strategy skills sharp.

Part of what The Wisdom will be focusing on (at least until football season) will be my night/weekend work, and that may well bore the crap out of those of you not in the industry or coming over searching for “fire Les Miles”. But The Wisdom is not just a platform for my personal rants, it’s also a link out to potential employers, partners, etc. Nobody will know my brilliance if I’m not sharing it, you know.

I may also find time to write some about Adventures With Daphne, but I don’t think I’m looking to be a Daddy Blogger. Unless the AdSense targeting is good for that …

April 1 should be Power Off The Internet Day

Just to spare everybody the inevitable flood of lame online April Fools pranks, the Internet should just be powered off for the day.

The transition is final

Dammit – no more of this back and forth. I hope all of you either have switched over to the new feed or get the old feed through the hack I worked up.

The new Wisdom

OK, so I think my migration to WordPress is complete. Man, what a hassle.

There are still a few bugs around, but I’m be working on squashing them soon. And more to come on things you should know about the changes.

But the most important thing is to make sure the transition went as smoothly as I think it has. I’ve only had to jettison the majority of comments (some hand-crafting involved to port them over to the right place – and I can do more porting as I see fit), but otherwise the Wisdom should be relatively intact here.

And because I value you, loyal readers, the most, I spent a lot of time on a RSS hack that I think should be working to show you the new feed at your existing Wisdom RSS location. If you’re seeing this post and you haven’t changed your RSS feed, then it’s working. There might be a problem with iGoogle and other web-based services, so if you’re not seeing this in your feed, hopefully you will have seen my last post in the old platform and have come here to update …

More later. Good night.

What the tornado brought

As most of you know, a big wind blew through Atlanta a week ago Friday. The tornado that left F2-level damage Downtown and F0-F1 damage here in East Atlanta thankfully passed about a quarter-mile north of me, so we suffered no damage.

Our yard, however, was littered with all sorts of mysterious debris. Inspecting for damage right after the storm, I found yellow insulation in my backyard and on my roof and big chunks of dense foam in the yard. Most intriguing, though, were four sheets of paper scattered around the front yard. I knew these were not the papers of my neighbors, as no houses close to me were hit. So I picked them up and laid them out on a towel to dry.

Today I set out to see if any of the papers could be traced back to places damaged by the storm. Three of the sheets – a project plan, a memo and a document titled “Daily Posting Register” seemed potentially traceable. The fourth was half a memo dealing with some apparent debt plans for a general partnership and didn’t have enough information to work with.

But the Daily Posting Register was promising. The name of the document’s creator was at the top, and the document itself listed several dozen names. Here is the document with names blurred out:

And as it turns out, this one was easy. The name of the document creator was somewhat unique, and I knew when Firefox auto-filled the last name when I went to Google her I might be on to something. The Daily Posting Register (page 15 of 23) was created by somebody involved with the bankruptcy court here in Atlanta.

She has a website, and her website gives directions to her office at 100 Peachtree Street – The Equitable Building:

I sent her an email this morning telling her of my find and to confirm the document came from her office at Equitable, but I don’t expect a reply soon.

Google Maps tells me The Equitable Building is 3.04 miles from my house.

Here’s the official path of the storm and intensity from the National Weather Service:

The Equitable Building is right on the eastern edge of the first red area (downtown), and I’m just south of the last yellow area in East Atlanta.

I’ve heard stories and seen pictures of Atlanta Hawks and CNN banners that found their way to yards not too far from here, so my little sheet of paper is hardly unique. But it’s pretty amazing to think how far a tornado can carry things – and I wonder what made the little rips in the sheet without tearing it to shreds.

No luck so far on the other sheets.

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