Staying on top of WiMAX

If you’re interested in keeping developments related to WiMAX technology on your radar, bookmark The WiMAX Weblog.

For those who might not be familiar, WiMAX is a developing wireless network standard that has been described as “WiFi on steroids.” If adopted, it would allow for broadband wireless network access over large areas, up to an alleged (but still unproven) 30 miles, around each deployed WiMAX base station (without need for line of sight). WiMAX would connect to existing WiFi “hotspots,” and offer wireless extensions to cable and DSL services. WiMAX promises the creation of MANs (Metropolitan-Area Networks), with base stations providing coverage to entire cities, offering anytime, anywhere broadband access to the Internet. Unfortunately, WiMAX may be more vaporware than hardware. There likely won’t be any WiMAX devices until the end of the year and it could be a year after that before WiMAX finds its way into mobile gear.

TiVoToGo Priority Request

Most TiVo-equipped Street Techies probably know this already, but besides the ability to run the HME apps, the new TiVo OS, 7.1, includes the much-anticipated TiVoToGo service. This allows you to send TiVo recordings for viewing on other computers on your home network.

When this service was first proposed, it was thought that it was going to be fee-based (or at last part of the then $99 Home Media Option) and there was talk of goofy USB dongles with digital rights software required on each machine to enable playback. But TiVoTo Go is free. To be able to burn DVDs so you can take shows mobile, you do need to buy the MyDVD program.

One big annoyance is that the new TiVo Desktop, Ver 2.0, required on your PC to transfer and play back shows, only runs on Windows XP.

TiVo is rolling out the software upgrades piecemeal. If you want to get higher on the priority list, you can go to their site and enter your TiVo’s service number.

TiVo Home Media Engine

When I wrote my TiVo book last year, I lamented the lack of cool third-party/open source apps for Series 2 TiVos, relative to Series 1. Soon that will all change, thanks to the release of the TiVo Home Media Engine (HME), a software developer’s kit (SDK) for creating apps for networked S2 TiVos.

This is a really smart move on TiVo’s part — opening up the TiVo platform to hackers for the creation of awesome apps that’ll help keep TiVo up and running in an increasingly competitive DVR marketplace. Unfortunately, you need the 7.1 TiVo OS on your TiVo, which most of us don’t have yet (they’re slowy upgrading the network). But after this happens, and with widespread distribution of the SDK, it’ll be fun to see all of the apps that people dream up. Already there’s a Weather app (see image), an RSS feeder, and a game (Skull and Bones). The latter sure beats the Tic-Tac-Toe game that comes with JavaHMO.

The industrious devils over at PVRBlog have created a Sourceforge-like project page to track development of HME apps, to discuss the SDK kit, etc.

Remote Control Phreak

If your idea of true universal remote CONTROL is the power to turn off the television, ANYBODY’S television, then you’ll want to check out TV-B-Gone, a remote that has one button, Off, and can turn off nearly any model of TV from up to 50 feet away. How much fun would it be to take a stroll around the neighborhood, turning off everybody’s set as you go?

Attack of the Vinyl Robots

If you don’t have the bug for collecting Asian vinyl toys, you might after visiting Kid Robot. Actually, these types of “action” figures are far more interesting in person. The colors and paint jobs are amazing, the characters are often based on obscure comics or underground folk heroes, and the packaging is often as compelling as what’s inside — in other words, typical Japanese pop cult products. As you might imagine, these figures also make perfect monitor pets. I got a couple of the Ken Fowler Monsterisms years ago, and I still love to mess with ’em when I’m bored.

Redneck Rucksacks?

I don’t know what the designers of this site were smoking (moldy barn-hay, apparently), but this is one of the weirdest and most wonderful virtual storefronts I’ve seen in awhile. I’m not really sure what the connection is between hillbillies and high-tech gadget bags, but who cares? There’s even “tasteful” nudity, as a woman models one of the laptop bags in the buff. Maybe she’s a-fixin’ to check her Yahoo! account on the way down to the crick for some skinny dippin’ Again, who cares? All in good fun. Oh, did we mention what the product was? It’s easy to forget. Crumpler sells a very cool-looking line of laptop, messenger, and gadget bags, all made out of something they call “ChickenTex.” Maybe we’ll try to get some products for review.