March 23, 2005

Uvas Canyon: The most beautiful park in Santa Clara County (that no one goes to)

I once heard The Uvas Canyon County Park called "the most beautiful park that no one goes to". It is especially beautiful in the spring, when the creek is running and everything is green.

The park includes lots of beautiful walking trails, including a one mile Waterfall Loop that travels along Swanson Creek past many of the park's waterfalls (yes, multiple waterfalls!). The park is about 45 minute south of San Jose. Here is the address for use in Yahoo or Google Maps

8515 Croy Rd., Morgan Hill, CA 95037

Check it out!

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 05:12 PM

Global Cell Phone Games

Cell phone games are a fascinating, but frustrating, market. There are a multitude of incompatible handsets to support, limited memory and screen size, differing hardware capabilities and interfaces. There are massive restrictions on distribution and limited marketing channels. Gamasutra's GDC 2005 Report: Global Mobile Games (registration required) ends with this conclusion:

In this way, the circle ended where it began: only the most casual of games will sell widely enough to make money; only the lowest common denominator of games, technologically, will sell widely enough to get money (and perhaps even get carried, under the current system). Until the baseline of hardware is more advanced, few games will really take advantage of the platform; yet users see little reason to upgrade to more advanced hardware, since in the end it's just a telephone. Until something comes out of left field and changes the market, progress will be slow.

On the other hand, this is a market where individual games are inexpensive to make, and where there are many millions of potential users. The cell phone game market resembles the market for downloadable games. There is a lot of room for advances in marketing both types of games. It will be interesting to see who finds the ways to do "break out" marketing and generate demand for their cell phone games.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 04:56 PM

March 17, 2005

Productivity Tools: Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router

I just replaced my wireless router. For the last couple of years, I used a rev. 0 Netgear WGR614 Wireless Router. Initially it worked fine. But over the last couple of months, I ran into several troubles.

I started getting a lot of dropped connections. It seems like one of my neighbors installed a powerful wireless network. My connection quality dropped whenever I saw his network on my list of wireless networks.

I tried a number of short term solutions. I moved the Netgear from the bedroom in the back of the house to my office. An Ethernet cable between the laptop on my desk and the Netgear gave me a solid connection so long as I was at my desk. But my connection was still poor when I was roaming.

When I moved the router from the back bedroom to my office on the other side of the house, my wife started having problems connecting. She could connect fine from the living room in the center of the house, but not from the bedroom all the way across the house.

Initially, my wife used a titanium iBook with a older Apple 802.11b adapter. She could connect to the Netgear fine from the living room. Then she changed jobs, got a new iBook with a Apple 802.11g adapter, and couldn't connect wirelessly to the Netgear at all.

I downloaded and installed Netgear's latest firmware, but I couldn't get my wife's iBook to connect. So, I got her a long Ethernet cable so she could connect from the living room. Then I went looking for a new wireless router.

I could have purchased the latest rev of the Netgear WGR614 on Amazon for $50. From the notes i had read on the net, the latest revs might solve some of my problems. But I was looking for a couple major upgrades from the WGR614. And I wanted to read multiple comments by reviewers or users confirming the capabilities.

I wanted:

1) 3rd party confirmation of Macintosh 802.11g connectivity.

2) Increased range with standard 802.11g adapters.

3) Frequency Agility or the ability to connect in an environment with lots of other networks.

After spending a couple of evenings scouring the net, I decided to try out the Belkin Wireless Pre-N Router. I orded it from Buy.Com for $127 with tax and it came a couple of days later. It took me a couple of hours and a call to Belkin tech support to successfully install it. My DSL line has a fixed IP address and so I had to do some of the installation by hand. Belkin tech support was very helpful and I didn't have to wait too long on hold.

The Belkin seems to work. My wife can connect with her g Mac from the bedroom now. And I haven't yet been blown off by my neighbor's wireless. Even though it costs over twice as much as the Netgear, far the Belkin seems like a good investment. We'll see if it holds up as time goes on.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 05:24 PM

March 02, 2005

Blood Test Identifies Those Vulnerable to PTSD

Jim Dunnigan writes that a new blood test can identifies people who are vulnerable to Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

Until Israeli scientists recently developed a test that accurately identified those most likely to develop PTSD, you had to watch everyone if you wanted to identify the PTSD victims. The new blood test will make it easier to treat PTSD victims, who can, in most cases, have their PTSD cured or minimized if they get the right treatment quickly enough.

Diagnostic test like these can significantly improve the care of patients, allowing physicians to target care where it is most likely to be useful.

But, these tests could also be used to “pre-screen” candidates and keep them from getting jobs. Should those who are vulnerable to PTSD be kept from jobs as soldiers, cops, or firemen? Should a person be told that they are vulnerable to PTSD? If they know, do they have to inform their employers or potential employers?

As we get better at testing for “vulnerabilities” or “potential” there are real possibilities for discrimination by employers, insurance companies, .spouses, etc. Gattaca here we come.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 07:26 AM