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    by Published on 12-02-2016 01:11 PM
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    Look, I'm not the first one to say it. This year hasn't exactly been easy for a lot of people. And here we are, finally at the end of it, at least in the last month of it, and I think we all need to take a step back. (I almost said 'take a knee' but now even that has political connotations.) ...
    by Published on 12-01-2016 12:50 PM
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    In Throwback Thursday, we're looking back at the articles we're most proud of from the first nine years of The Solid Signal Blog.

    I pick on millennials a lot. But I shouldn't considering they'll run the world when I retire. If you're one of that magic generation born between 1980 and ...
    by Published on 11-26-2016 11:03 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Online/MobileTV
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    In Streaming Saturday, we'll look at trends in cord-cutting that include both antennas and internet-based video.

    I've taken the reins of our "Streaming Saturday" series because while Jake Buckler, that rebel without a cause, does ok, I think last week's article was pretty weak sauce. Last week he asked, "Is Netflix slipping?" and I think the answer's pretty obvious: Yes.

    You've already read ...
    by Published on 11-24-2016 11:36 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Data/Networks


    In Throwback Thursday, we're looking back at the articles we're most proud of from the first nine years of The Solid Signal Blog.

    Back in April, 2013, I ranted against Microsoft's then-new tablet/laptop combo, the Surface. I said it was doomed to fail. I was sort of right, and I was sort of wrong. See, the original Surface device ran a sort of crippled version of Windows that wouldn't let you use most software. That device did die a rather quick death, along with "Windows RT," the crippled operating system it ran.

    On the other hand, Microsoft proved that it could take hardware seriously and it's continued to evolve its laptop and desktop selection to where it's as good as any other PC manufacturer, perhaps even as good as Apple. New Surface devices keep getting announced, and of course they all run Windows 10 which is a far more successful product than the original version of Windows 8.

    So, I'll admit, here's a case where I was sort of wrong and sort of right, but really more wrong than right. I thought that Surface would be such a flaming failure that it would bring all of Microsoft to its knees. It didn't -- the company embraced the failure of the original Surface and went on to produce a much, much better set of products.

    I suppose in that sense they own me a debt of gratitude. (hahaha.)
    by Published on 11-24-2016 10:52 AM
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    What a year it has been. There's barely more than one month left and if we can get past the times we laughed, we cried, and we swore over the events of the year, we might all take a moment to be genuinely thankful.

    Thankful that we share this little blue marble together.

    Thankful that we live in times when ...
    by Published on 11-18-2016 11:05 AM
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    The 1980s were a different time. You couldn't just count on a sci-fi or fantasy film coming out every other week like you can now. If you were a geek, a band kid, an AV Squad member, or some other sort of outlier you had to take your fantasy where you could. This meant libraries, midnight ...
    by Published on 11-17-2016 02:01 PM


    In Throwback Thursday, we're looking back at the articles we're most proud of from the first nine years of The Solid Signal Blog.

    Don't say I didn't warn you. Today we are surrounded by voice-controlled assistants. Siri and Google were just the start; today we have Alexa, Cortana, and others I can't even think of. I'll be honest, I rarely use them, since I can type a good five times faster than I talk. Then again, for isolated millennials, perhaps the idea of a computer that talks back to you is better than sitting in an empty room. If you think about it, that's kind of sad.

    I was a little ahead of the curve, I like to think, in the summer of 2013 when I laid down my rules for how voice control should work. I think that they still hold up, except I stupidly thought that by the time voice control apps got mature people would still watch American Idol.

    In many ways the voice assistant wars are still going on and in many ways they are already irrelevant. I don't know a single person who uses Cortana, but certainly there are enough people who use the Apple and Google voice assistants. As cell-phone-driving laws get more and more restrictive, we'll have practically no choice but to use voice assistants in the car, and the good news is that they're almost good enough to do that. They can read your texts and emails, and understand relationships ("my wife") and times ("next Wednesday at 2") pretty well. You don't have to really obey different rules to talk to different assistants, other than calling them by name and I don't know exactly how you'd get past that.

    I feel like the next step would be if the assistants actually called or spoke to you unprompted. Like, if you were not on the road at 11:15 for your 11:30 dentist appointment, Siri could say, "Excuse me Stuart, but I think you should leave for your dentist appointment now." But to really make it work, she would have to wait for a natural pause in the conversation and that would mean she was listening to -- and to some degree parsing -- everything that I'm saying, and that scares me. I don't want her doing that.

    I'll let you know in another three years if I've gotten more comfortable with talking to Siri. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

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