How to Make an OS X Lion Boot Disk

There are reports that Mac OS X Lion will be released in the coming days and here is all you need to know about creating a boot disk to install Lion from a physical media source.

When released, Lion will only be available for download and install from Apple; no physical disks will be offered for purchase. But, if you’re like me and want to keep a disk, there’s a straightforward method that will work when you download Lion. For anyone who knows their way around Finder, it’s a very simple method; all you need is a DVD to burn to and you’re good to go.

As pointed out by an email from Steve Jobs, the only way to do a complete install involves installing Snow Leopard, then installing Lion on top of that. This method is just a pain in the neck and can frustrate many users. By creating your own Lion install disk, you can take all the pain away from clean installing your Mac computers.

If you’re like me, another reason to have a physical source of Lion is having poor Internet connectivity or none at all. Apple suggests that Mac owners come into an Apple Store and download it on the store’s Internet connection; this can be useful for some but it depends on how far an Apple Store is away from your location. By making it easy to download and burn a Lion disk once, you won’t risk going over your data cap to upgrade your computers.

Once Lion is released, purchase and download it from the Mac App Store.

Once it is downloaded, locate the Lion installer and right-click on it, selecting Show Package Contents.

Navigate inside the “Contents” folder, go inside Shared Support and, inside, locate the installer: InstallESD.dmg.

Copy InstallESD.dmg to the desktop.

Now, go to Disk Utility.

Click on the Burn button on the top menu.

Navigate to the Desktop in the selector and select InstallESD.dmg.

Now insert a blank 4.7 GB DVD and wait for the disk to burn.

You’re done! You now have a Lion install DVD ready to go and install on all of your Macs.

You’re now ready to install Lion on all of your computers to save on bandwidth and downloading time. The DVD will work just as if you purchased it from Apple. Enjoy, and have fun with your Lion upgraded Mac!

I Use Four Different Backup Programs – Am I Paranoid?

My main computing laptop, which I use exclusively to communicate with the world, is operated by Windows 7 Ultimate 32 bit with the new service pack number one installed. This system is tweaked to my liking with multiple tweaks, extensions, add-ons, themes, visual enhancements, and gadgets that suit my computing lifestyle. I am a stickler for a clean desktop and it drives me insane when I see a laptop or desktop system with a desktop loaded with icons of any sort. Another of my pet peeves are fingerprints on the monitor screen or what appears on some systems to be leftovers from a recently consumed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For anyone who has suffered a catastrophic system failure, no matter what your operating system is, you know how devastating this can be. You awoke one morning only to find a black screen, maybe with some white cryptic text, that basically indicated you were in deep trouble. There are a multitude of reasons this can happen including but not limited to a hardware failure, virus or malware attacks, or corruption of your operating system. No operating system is 100% immune to any of the failures described above, so the “buy a Mac” or “use Linux” crowd can slither away.

Over the past few decades of using personal computer, I have either experienced a failure myself, or have read the horror stories of others who have been the victims of a failure for various reasons. I have also either experienced or have read about those who have had their backups fail as well. I recall an incident many moons ago when I was using tape to back up my entire hard disk. After an issue with my system, I don’t recall the exact nature of the problem, my backup tape failed to repair my system. I also remember that I had multiple backup tapes that all failed to do anything to fix my system. The memory of that incident still stings and I will forever recall the frustration that I felt. Here I was religiously making backup tapes only to have them all not work.

I don’t trust any one type of software to meet all of my backup needs. I use multiple lines of defense just in the rare event that my system fails. My main line of defense is Acronis Backup software. I also make a disc image using the built-in software provided by Microsoft on Windows 7 Ultimate. The external hard disk I purchased came with backup and restore software from Seagate and I use the free version of Paragon backup and restore software as well. All of these backups are made to an external hard drive and also to DVD disks.

Oh, did I mention I also make a manual backup of my personal files as well to DVDs?

Am I paranoid?

What is your backup strategy?

Comments welcome.

Are You Installing Windows 7 SP1? Be Careful If You Dual Boot Linux

I have been beta testing SP1 for Windows 7 since August 2010, without any issues. I have installed all of the fixes, patches, and repairs. All have worked well without any issues. But when I went to install the final release of Windows SP1, I found two issues I needed to address.

The first issue was having to uninstall Windows 7 SP1 beta before installing the final release. You can uninstall the service pack which is actually listed as Service Pack For Windows KB976932 in updates. There is always that little voice in the back of your mind that tells you to pray that all goes well. Well fortunately for me, it did. After the uninstall and a reboot my computer started up and all was well.

The next issue I didn’t expect. I went to install Windows 7 SP1 final and received error 0x800f0a12 with a failed installation. I eventually found the reason listed at a Technet blog, followed the advise and fixed the issue. It appears that those who have Linux install need to make sure that the System Reserved or Windows partition is marked as Active before you install Sp1 final edition. Check out the link below:

I had previously downloaded the appropriately 1.90G file from Technet and burned the .iso image to DVD. This larger file from Microsoft is for both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows 7 and also Server 2008 R2. The normal delivery of Windows 7 SP1 final, for most users, will be by Windows update service and will be much smaller in size.

I use a Diskeeper 2010 defragmentation software that works in the background and keeps my system running smoothly. In the past some people have mentioned that one should defrag a Windows system before an install major of updates such as service packs and when upgrading the entire OS. I am not sure if this claim still is valid, but you may wish to defrag your system and check for malware before installing SP1 on your Windows 7 system.

The installation window for SP1 recommends that you proceed with the installation because your system will kept your up to date plus it will enhance your systems reliability and performance.

Who doesn’t want a more reliable or better performing system? With this in mind I proceeded with the installation with my fingers crossed. After about 30 to 40 minutes of whizzing and restarts my machine came to life, update complete, and running hot, straight and normal. I checked my other software that has been installed and it all seemed to work OK.

So should you install Windows 7 SP1 on your machine? That is totally up to you. Over at AOL Tech they have an unofficial poll that indicates about 50% of those who did install SP1 had little or not problems. The next largest number was 30% who have decided to wait before install the service pack and about 20% who experienced issues.

If you have installed Windows 7 SP1, what has been your experience? If you haven’t installed the service pack, are you waiting until the bugs are worked out?

Comments welcome.

Source – Windows Blog

AOL – Tech

Why Amazon Subscription Web Service Will Be Good For Consumers

As many of you are aware, I am a huge supporter and user of Netflix subscriptions services. I not only get my one DVD at a time fix, but also streaming video to my HDTV. Amazon is also another business that I use and I am also a Prime member and have been using the free shipping service for about two years. So when I read about Amazon also getting into the streaming business as part of its Prime service, I immediately starting thinking which service I would want to use.

Netflix charges $7.99 a month for its streaming service, or $95.88 a year. If Amazon does include streaming video along with its Prime service, that is $79 a year, so consumers would save a few bucks. One article also states:

The Web’s biggest retailer has held talks with the Hollywood studios and several independent companies about acquiring library content for a subscription movie streaming service similar to Netflix, according to people familiar with the matter.

So why is this going to be good for consumers? Simple. It’s competition at its finest. Though I think that Netflix is doing a fine job at streaming movies into our living rooms, I believe that Amazon will also be able to provide a similar service at a competitive price. Amazon is currently offering VOD, video on demand,  so it just needs to fine tune streaming as a free service with a Prime membership.

I think that many of us who use Netflix for streaming movies may wish to consider what Amazon will offer. It is obvious that no company can offer new releases at these prices. I am anxious to see exactly what Amazon has up their sleeves.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – L.A. Times

Netflix Decision To Limit DVD Queue Draws Complaints

On Monday, Netflix informed their customers that adding streaming content to their queue from a connected device, would no longer be supported. The thinking from Netflix was that users could add content via their computer. On their blog site Netflix stated that:

We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming.

But the proposed changes was meant with outrage by some customers. The feeling is that needing a computer to connect to Netflix is behind the times and actually defeats the purpose of streaming. Especially when it comes for those who stream video to their devices. Some of the comments were:

“With all sorts of streaming devices out there the computer is becoming more and more obsolete, this seems like a step backwards,” noted one concerned sub named Luke.

Raged another sub named Hal, “Sorry Netflix, I love you but this is idiotic. Hire some developers that know who has the premium accounts and who just has streaming access. It should all go by log in. This is a dumb move.”

For a company that has based their company on ease of use and satisfying their customers, it seems that Netflix may have stumbled when making this decision. It would seem that there is a large segment of Netflix clients that do their streaming to a device in which connecting directly to Netflix to add DVD to the queue is just a pain and not needed.

It seems that Netflix is going to experience some resistance from those of us who want to continue having their DVDs delivered to their home. Many people are skeptical that a streaming only model will succeed here in the US. We have become spoiled in being able to have our DVDs hand delivered to our mail box and return the disc for free. Streaming currently has a limited library and does not include the newest releases.

Until that happens, I need my DVD.

Comments welcome.

Source – paidContent

Linux Mint 10 Reviewed – Part #2 – It Is Only Getting Better

This is a followup review to Part #1 which can be found here

In my quest to make Linux Mint 10 by sole operating system, I needed to bring over two contact lists into Mozilla Thunderbird, which is the default email software installed with Mint 10. I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird on my Windows 7 system and I found that I like T-bird very much. I exported both of my contact lists from Outlook 2007 and T-Bird and copied the files over as .csv format. Before importing the files, I opened both and trimmed down the majority of fields, since I just wanted the names and email addresses of my contacts. The import went well and after merging both contact lists, I had the names and email addresses I needed.

Next, I transferred my entire Documents folder over from Windows to Mint. It was 281MB of stuff. It is funny. Once I looked at the stuff you have accumulated a good cleaning was in order. It reminded me of Hoarders. We love to keep the gunk and junk that we may need someday but rarely do. The first thing I needed to do was open two .pdf documents and one document created in Microsoft Word 2007. No problems here. The .pdf documents were handled by Document Viewer, Word documents were handled by Open Office Writer [no formatting issues were noted] and .jpg pictures were handled by Eye of Gnome. There may be better software out there but these worked just fine.

What also impressed me was that Open Office Writer asked if I wanted to keep the original .docx extension or convert it over to .odt. Either way I was able to view all of my documents without issue.

When you use the built-in Update Manager software, make this change. Open the software, go to Edit, Software sources. You will see a listing for Download From. From the drop down menu select other. You will be presented with a list of servers near you with one being recommended. I chose the recommend server and it has been working great. The auto update feature works fine and thus far the updates have not caused any issues.

Another nice feature that I have not noticed before in any Linux version I have previously used . When you pop in a disk, CD, DVD, DVD DL the system provides an icon indicating what the disk is. Even if it is a -R or +R. No biggie, just a nice feature. :-)

Last evening I had received a DVD PowerPoint Presentation and using Brasero was able to make an exact copy of the disk. I also tried a little experiment using Brasero. I took one of my own DVD Movie disks that I bought and tried to make a copy of the movie. I copied the disk as an image to the system and then burned the image to a dual-layer disk. It worked just fine. Before I go on any further, I do not condone nor recommend violating copyrighted material. I just wanted to see if it could be done using the software that came with Mint by default.

This morning I received an email for a posting over at Scots Newsletter Forum. It was a link to Dedoimedo with an article ‘And the best distro of 2010 is ….” At first I was a little disappointed since no where is the review was there any mention of Mint. But at the end of the article was this:

And the GRAND winner is …

You haven’t seen it listed above, but it would feature under the glorious title of best all-arounder. And that would have to be Linux Mint. While it did underperform in the spring, the autumn release is just splendid. It’s a perfect 10 for the tenth release.

Linux Mint Julia has the best overall combination of ingredients. The best desktop theme and menu, the best combination of programs, the best package management. It’s the most usable distribution out there, and it’s just a pleasure to run.

The article goes on to state that while Mint is based on Ubuntu, the developers have done something that I believe is worth mentioning. They have included software that makes it easy for the new Linux user to use and more importantly understand. So simple is the GUI and features included with Mint, that I was actually able to put software icons and what is called the panel aka in Windows taskbar. This gives my desktop the clean look I like with no icons visible.

There was also this statement:

Everything works out of the box, every little detail is carefully placed and designed, there’s practically nothing bad you can think of.

This is the real beauty of Mint. It works.

I haven’t used Microsoft Windows 7 for well over a week and I am not missing it at all. What I am enjoying is a fast system that is not bogged down by anti-virus software and other junk. Is there a difference in RAM usage? Yes there is. I would normally use about 1.5G to 1.8G of RAM running Windows while using Firefox and Thunderbird. That has dropped to about 500MB.

Comments welcome

Source

Linux Mint 10 Reviewed – Part #2 – It Is Only Getting Better

This is a followup review to Part #1 which can be found here

In my quest to make Linux Mint 10 by sole operating system, I needed to bring over two contact lists into Mozilla Thunderbird, which is the default email software installed with Mint 10. I have been using Mozilla Thunderbird on my Windows 7 system and I found that I like T-bird very much. I exported both of my contact lists from Outlook 2007 and T-Bird and copied the files over as .csv format. Before importing the files, I opened both and trimmed down the majority of fields, since I just wanted the names and email addresses of my contacts. The import went well and after merging both contact lists, I had the names and email addresses I needed.

Next, I transferred my entire Documents folder over from Windows to Mint. It was 281MB of stuff. It is funny. Once I looked at the stuff you have accumulated a good cleaning was in order. It reminded me of Hoarders. We love to keep the gunk and junk that we may need someday but rarely do. The first thing I needed to do was open two .pdf documents and one document created in Microsoft Word 2007. No problems here. The .pdf documents were handled by Document Viewer, Word documents were handled by Open Office Writer [no formatting issues were noted] and .jpg pictures were handled by Eye of Gnome. There may be better software out there but these worked just fine.

What also impressed me was that Open Office Writer asked if I wanted to keep the original .docx extension or convert it over to .odt. Either way I was able to view all of my documents without issue.

When you use the built-in Update Manager software, make this change. Open the software, go to Edit, Software sources. You will see a listing for Download From. From the drop down menu select other. You will be presented with a list of servers near you with one being recommended. I chose the recommend server and it has been working great. The auto update feature works fine and thus far the updates have not caused any issues.

Another nice feature that I have not noticed before in any Linux version I have previously used . When you pop in a disk, CD, DVD, DVD DL the system provides an icon indicating what the disk is. Even if it is a -R or +R. No biggie, just a nice feature. :-)

last evening I had received a DVD PowerPoint Presentation and using Brasero was able to make an exact copy of the disk. I also tried a little experiment using Brasero. I took one of my own DVD Movie disks that I bought and tried to make a copy of the movie. I copied the disk as an image to the system and then burned the image to a dual-layer disk. It worked just fine. Before I go on any further, I do not condone nor recommend violating copyrighted material. I just wanted to see if it could be done using the software that came with Mint by default.

This morning I received an email for a posting over at Scots Newsletter Forum. It was a link to Dedoimedo with an article ‘And the best distro of 2010 is ….” At first I was a little disappointed since no where is the review was there any mention of Mint. But at the end of the article was this:

And the GRAND winner is …

You haven’t seen it listed above, but it would feature under the glorious title of best all-arounder. And that would have to be Linux Mint. While it did underperform in the spring, the autumn release is just splendid. It’s a perfect 10 for the tenth release.

Linux Mint Julia has the best overall combination of ingredients. The best desktop theme and menu, the best combination of programs, the best package management. It’s the most usable distribution out there, and it’s just a pleasure to run.

The article goes on to state that while Mint is based on Ubuntu, the developers have done something that I believe is worth mentioning. They have included software that makes it easy for the new Linux user to use and more importantly understand. So simple is the GUI and features included with Mint, that I was actually able to put software icons and what is called the panel aka in Windows taskbar. This gives my desktop the clean look I like with no icons visible.

There was also this statement:

Everything works out of the box, every little detail is carefully placed and designed, there’s practically nothing bad you can think of.

This is the real beauty of Mint. It works.

I haven’t used Microsoft Windows 7 for well over a week and I am not missing it at all. What I am enjoying is a fast system that is not bogged down by anti-virus software and other junk. Is there a difference in RAM usage? Yes there is. I would normally use about 1.5G to 1.8G of RAM running Windows while using Firefox and Thunderbird. That has dropped to about 500MB.

Comments welcome.

Source – Dedoimedo

Linux Mint 10 Reviewed – Part #1

I was going to wait and do a 30 day review, but I found that Mint is just too good to not pass along.

I must admit that it has been just about 12 months since I had last tested a Linux distribution. During my past experiences, I normally uninstalled whatever distribution I tried, because I either had issues getting a wireless connection or was unable to print to my HP laser Jet via a print server. Either of these is a deal breaker for me. I also spent way too much time trying to configure either the wireless connection or printer and basically just gave up. I won’t bore you with the installation details, since you have one of three choices. You can install as a standalone OS, dual-boot [this was what I opted to do} , or run as a Live CD.

I choose the dual-boot option because I wanted to give Mint a fair shot at testing. Running any Linux version as a Live CD normally runs slow and you can not save settings nor install software for testing. I also wanted to be able to access Windows 7 during testing, because I intended to transfer my personal stuff over to Mint, where possible.

Here is the Mint 10 desktop at startup:

The desktop is simple and I actually liked the simple gray background. The logo is an M with a small 10 in the upper right corner. Nothing fancy but in a simple way it is elegant. What I really liked is the ‘Welcome To Linux Mint’ menu. The menu contain a help guide in .pdf format as well as a link to install all of the packages that come on the DVD.

Also located on the welcome menu are New Features, Known Problems, Tutorials, Forums, Chat and other useful information. add

Setting up my wireless to the Internet was a snap. Like most operating systems I have used, Windows XP, Vista, 7, the new Chrome and other Linux versions, I setup my wireless connection manually to my router. It rarely every shows up as one of the found connections, but once setup, works flawlessly. Mint was easy to set up but more importantly, instantly connects when I boot into Mint.

Next, I was able to set up my printer from a wireless print server, including the correct driver for my HP Laser Jet 1100. Printing is flawless and the pages come out perfect.

This was enough for me to start using Mint full-time.

The first thing I did was to install all of the add-ons that I used for Firefox on Windows 7. I next set up my blog add-ons and tweaked all of my settings. Everything ran perfectly. In fact what I immediately noticed was how fast Firefox ran, compared to Windows 7 install.

I setup Thunderbird to handle all three of my email accounts. I have my private email for personal use from my ISP, a Gmail account for Google alerts and mics. emails and a MSN – Hotmail account required by Microsoft as an MVP.

I also needed a program to replace Quickbooks Started Edition for some very minor accounting matters. I found GNUCash and setup two new accounts. Thus far GNUCash is meeting my needs.

I have also downloaded software, including PCLinuxOS. I used the software Brasero and burned the .iso image easily. I am also going to try dual-layer DVDs to see if I am able to rip video using K3b. Should be interesting to see what happens.

So why did I download PCLinuxOS? I wanted to see if PCLinuxOS had improved, but unfortunately, I couldn’t setup my wireless. Where Mint was simple to set up my wireless Internet and wireless print server, I just couldn’t get PCLinuxOS to play well with my hardware.

Mint also has a great video player named Totem. It worked great viewing video I tried and the streaming was extremely smooth. No problems what so ever.

Mint also has a very easy to use Software Manger that is broken down into categories. I downloaded some software just to try the manager and it works perfectly. I am impressed with the ease in using this. I am impressed with this feature and believe Mint has done and outstanding job.

I have installed Picasso, Google Earth, K3b, Google Chrome, plus additional software that was installed when I updated to the DVD edition.

So what isn’t working correctly or that I had issues with.?

Power options issues. I selected , when possible, to spin down the hard disk in power saving mode. When this happens and the laptop goes to sleep, I need to hit the power button to wake the machine back up. Once I disabled this feature, all was well. No biggie. More of an observation than a complaint. :-)

Take a look at the Linux Mint Community site and see what you think.

Comments welcome.

Source – Mint

PS Stay tuned for part #2.

5 Myths About HDTV

This is the time of the year when millions of Americans will be shopping for their first HDTV. Over at The Blade I have written an article about what to look for in buying a HDTV and this article is a follow-up to the original. IMO it is important for all consumers to know the terminology of HDTV technology and also to know what is Fact and What is fiction before buying your first HDTV.

Here are five myths about HDTV you should be aware of:

1. Claim: “HD” signifies a specific standard of quality.

Status: False

Though “HD” does stand for “high definition,” HDTVs come in several resolutions; and in any event, a set’s resolution doesn’t completely determine the exact image quality you’ll see on your screen. For one thing, screen sizes vary. Other factors affecting the picture include the transmission—over the air, via cable, by satellite, or from the Internet—and the original source material.

These variables help explain why you can get high-def content from Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix streaming, a Blu-ray disc, and other sources, and yet encounter wildly different picture quality.

Over-the-air broadcast standards top out at 720p and 1080i, but you can obtain the full 1920-by-1080-pixel frame in 1080p from Blu-ray discs, certain Xbox 360 models, and the PlayStation 3 units.

When choosing for picture quality, remember: 1080p is at the top, 720p and 1080i look similar, and anything below them won’t be as good. Keep those terms in mind because they represent official standards, not marketing terms.

I don’t know if I can make this any less painless, but I’ll try. 1080p is the very best picture you can currently receive on a HDTV. This highest standard is basically limited to Blu-ray movies. All over the air transmissions, whether they are received by antenna, cable or satellite are currently limited to 720p.

However, if you are watching a HD broadcast of an old black and white movie, you may notice little or no difference in the picture quality.

2. Claim: If you don’t buy a 1080p HDTV, you’re wasting your money.

Status: False

In all likelihood, you want a 1080p HDTV—and you should be sure to get that resolution if your set has a diagonal screen size of 32 inches or greater, since you’ll be able to see the additional resolution on a big-screen from across the room. Furthermore, there’s no reason to avoid a 1080p HDTV if it doesn’t cost substantially more than sets with alternative resolutions, given that 1080p is becoming ubiquitous. If the difference is within $100, I recommend going for a 1080p set if your budget can handle it.

But having said all that, I should warn you that you probably won’t see any improvement in picture quality from 1080p versus 720p on a smaller HDTV. And you may not even have any 1080p sources to exploit: Over-the-air broadcasts and most cable feeds top out at 1080i.

I personally own two 42″ plasma HDTV’s which both are limited to 720p. The picture quality is fine when watching broadcast TV or playing DVD’s. If you plan on buying a large HDTV and hooking up a Blu-ray player, go with 1080p HDTV.

3. Claim: You bought a HDTV, so everything you view will be in HD.

Status: False

Today, not everything on television is broadcast in high-definition. DVDs and shows that were recorded for broadcast under the prior analog standard will continue to look about the same as before. (Some HDTV sets even make old shows look worse, by showing off more imperfections of the original recording.)

For satellite or cable TV service, you may need to ask your provider to activate HD content. The transition might require setup on both the provider’s end and your end; some cable boxes need to be reconfigured to output HD signals even after you connect them with the proper cables.

This can be a real disappointment for those who do not have access to broadcast TV or have a cable company that doesn’t provide broadcasts in HDTV. I went through this when I lived in an area where the cable company did not provide HD broadcasts and I was to far away to receive over the air TV.

4. Claim: Brand-name cables are worth the extra money.

Status: False

Don’t buy cables strictly on the basis of their brand name. A cable’s connector type, length, and gauge are the most important factors in signal quality. As a first criterion, choose a digital cable if possible—either HDMI or DVI (just about any new HDTV will include a digital connection). Such cables can carry a 1080p signal if your content supports it, they’ll play nicely with DRM, and they won’t pick up interference the way an analog cable can.

This is the best advice you will receive. HDMI cables can be purchased for as little as $7 and will provide a great picture.

5. Claim: You’re in imminent danger of burn-in from letterboxing and on-screen graphics.

Status: False

Burn-in is no longer a serious issue for HDTVs. Years ago, static on-screen graphics from network TV logos, stock tickers, videogames, letterbox bars, and other patterns could wear unevenly on a TV. If you left your set on and tuned to a station that showed such stationary elements for hours at a time, you might have been able to see them lingering when you tried to watch other content. First-generation plasma screens were the ones most susceptible to this effect.

LCDs and other TV types haven’t exhibited this issue, and recent plasmas have incorporated effective countermeasures against the problem. If you’re buying a new set, don’t worry about burn-in.

Do you have any suggestions you would like to share?

Comments welcome.

Source – Macworld

Netflix Adds Streaming Only Offer And Increases DVD Rental Fees

In what turns out to be a strange twist to its offering of a streaming only plan, Netflix has increased the price of its DVD rentals. The added fee is only $1 a month, for the single DVD at a time plan, while other plans have increased in price by $8 a month. The streaming only plan will be $7.99 a month for all you want.

On its blog site Netflix also stated that:

You might also wonder why we haven’t introduced a new plan that includes only DVDs by mail. The fact is that Netflix members are already watching more TV episodes and movies streamed instantly over the Internet than on DVDs, and we expect that trend to continue. Creating the best user experience that we can around watching instantly is how we’re spending the vast majority of our time and resources. Because of this, we are not creating any plans that are focused solely on DVDs by mail.

To avoid any confusion, here are the new prices on our plans:

The $7.99 plan for streaming only is the exact same price that Hulu is asking for its Plus subscription. I am using both Netflix and Hulu Plus on my Roku and will report which subscription has the best offerings and why.

If you are currently a Netflix client, your pricing should remain the same unless you switch plans. The price increase appears to be for new customers only.

Comments welcome.

Source – Netflix

My First Week With The Roku XD Model 2050X

During my first week using the Roku XD Model 2050X, I learned a few things that I wanted to share with you.

The Pros:

The unit shines brightly when you stream movies from Netflix. I have been able to stream movies in 720P without any issues. The quality is just as good as what you would find playing a DVD. This can only get better once Netflix starts to offer ALL of their movies for streaming. I for one could see a day when I would not even have to wait for the DVD to arrive, return it and wait for the next movie.

Pandora offers a good variety of music and I recommend this service.

If and when Roku gets Hulu Plus, we may be able to watch real-time or close to real-time TV streamed to our HDTV.

The Cons:

Unless you opt for a pay for view service like Netflix or the soon to be released Hulu Plus, the remainder of what you get for free, is not worth your time nor energy watching. Just my 2 cents.

I recommend a Roku for Netflix streaming and eventually Hulu Plus. I personally think it is so good, I ordered a second Roku XD Model 2050X for my bedroom HDTV.

Comments welcome.

Roku HD Streaming Player 1080P Wireless N Review

I recently received the Roku Model #2050 HD Streaming Player, 1080P, Wireless N device. My main purpose for the device was to connect the Roku to my living room HDTV and stream movies from Netflix. I have the $9 a month Netflix account in which I get one DVD delivered at a time and which also includes unlimited streaming of movies from the Netflix site.

Inside the shipping box you receive the Roku HD device itself, a remote controller with batteries, power adapter, RCA cable and instruction sheets. The instructions are very basic and I believe the assumption is that any user of a Roku will be tech. savvy. If you are technological challenged you may wish to have a friend or relative assist you with setup.

I connected the Roku to my HDTV by HDMI cable, which I had purchased separately from Amazon for a modest $6.99. I purchased Amazon’s own Basic brand[here] . After switching the HDTV to the proper HDMI channel the Roku setup screen appeared.

The first thing you must do is to connect your Roku to your network. In my case I have a wireless network and I ran into an issue right away. I had the Roku scan for available networks. My network was not listed, but surprisingly 3 of my neighbors were. I tried setting up the network manually, but no joy. I moved the Roku to a different location and Bingo! The network was found and after entering my security key a connection to the Internet was made. The first step was for the Roku to call home and update itself.

After a reboot, a security key was provided. I setup an account on the Roku site, entered in the security code and synchronize the unit to my account. Next I did the same thing for my Netflix account and set it up as well. I also configured the Roku for 720p, this is what my HDTV is and also 5.1 audio. I streamed my first video and it was flawless. No stutter and perfect audio.

I will be playing with the Roku this coming week and will do a follow-up report to provide my user experience. So far all has worked well. It took me about an hour to set up. However, most of that time was spent getting the device to recognize my wireless network. :-) I moved the unit as recommended by the Roku instructions, and once I did that it worked just fine.

Comments welcome.

Roku XD Streaming Player 1080p

Where Does MacBook Air Fit In?

There should be an image here!What is the point of the MacBook Air? I mean for the cost, why not simply go for the gold with the MacBook Pro instead of the Air? In true Apple fashion, the decision that the CD/DVD is a dead media, well that choice is being made for you. Unfortunately reality called and is asking how one who still uses this “dead” media is supposed to react to Macs going away from disc media?

Obviously the Air isn’t going to cut it as a primary computer anymore than the MacBooks standard was supposed to. That is why they have the MacBook Pro and iMac, after all. For ultra-portable, doesn’t the iPad already cover this? Maybe instead, the Air demonstrates that we still need keyboards with tactile sensation and simply relying on screen isn’t cutting. So then which product is coming up as counter-productive here?

To be ultimately clear, this is not anti-Mac in stance at all. More less, asking the question as to why we have an iPad and an Air, competing in the same space for the same dollars? Unlike the Touch and the iPhone, they have very different markets where I see the Air and the iPad, overlapping a bit too much. Then, am I just reading too much into this and can we live in a world with both devices? Guess the market will dictate this one for us.

Netflix vs ISPs – Is There A Battle Brewing?

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Netflix. I have been with them for 5 years and have enjoyed their service and find their  $9 a month package a real value. The $9 a month package provides one DVD at a time plus you can stream all the video content you want. But it was only a matter of time before a battle would brew between Netflix and ISPs such as Comcast and others. The ISPs see Netflix streaming as a real threat to their TV broadcasting business as they should. If people dump cable or satellite TV in favor of broadband streaming to their TV sets. the ISPs would take a major hit in revenue.

In one recent article it stated that:

How does Netflix get tangled in the businesses of the likes of AT&T and Comcast (and Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal)? Online video is seen as a major threat to traditional cable and satellite television firms, many of which want the FCC to allow companies to pay extra for higher-speed “channels” in the broadband Internet pipe.

In the third quarter, Netflix saw a 52 percent gain in subscribers to 16.9 million. Revenue increased 31 percent to $553 million. But most interesting: 66 percent of subscribers watched more than 15 minutes of streaming video compared with 41 percent during the same period last year. The company predicted Wednesday that in the fourth quarter, a majority of Netflix subscribers would watch more content streamed from the Web on Netflix than on DVD.

“This growth is clearly driven by the strength of our streaming offering. In fact, by every measure, we are now primarily a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail,” Reed Hastings (above), Netflix co-founder and chief executive, said in a release.

The company has already begun to wade into the debate over net neutrality at the FCC. Netflix lobbyists have visited the media bureau and other officials at the FCC at least three times in the last year and said in written comments that the FCC should not allow paid prioritization, or specialized services, that allow an Internet service provider to favor its own content or block out new competitors.

Analysts tout Netflix’s strides in forging partnerships with content companies and device makers, making it one of the most significant applications in Internet television. It has deals to distribute on Apple TV and Google TV. Netflix is already on the Wii game console and Blue-ray players.

So far content companies have been slow to distribute their shows and movies through online platforms like Netflix and many television shows are delayed by at least one day for online viewers.

It seems that the cable and satellite companies have been caught asleep at the switch. But it will be up to the FCC to decide exactly how companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, and others will be allowed to stream content to our homes. So yes, there is a battle brewing.

What do you think? Who is going to win the battle?

Will a streaming only package be a benefit to consumers? Would you subscribe to a streaming only package and give up DVDs being mailed to your home?

IMO I would go for a streaming only feature if it included the latest movies.

Comments welcome.

Source – The Washington Post