I went to Current.TV's web site to see what this new TV station was about, what kind of material they showed, and whether I received it.

  1. What is it about? They have an about link at the bottom. It has a reasonable page about them. Good.
  2. What kinds of shows are on it? The main portion of their home page shows what's on now and what's coming on soon. You can click on a time and it'll show you what's on. However there's just the name of the show and no description. Furthermore, the show name (image) is clickable, but nothing happens when you click (at least in Firefox). It's done in Flash and has lots of graphics and animation but nothing useful. Bad, but it's possible they just haven't finished the implementation.
  3. How do I watch? I wanted to know whether I received this channel. I clicked on find the channel here. It's a pop-up window. It states, “To find out if you get CURRENT, please identify your cable or satellite provider.” So far so good. I put in my cable provider. It then wants my name, address, phone number, email address, and year of birth. Bad. It considers 1900 to be an invalid birth year. After I fill out the form, it gives me this:

    Welcome to CURRENT - a new conversation with TV. Thanks to Comcast we can connect with each other and really interact. Who knew it could be so good? Check out the Studio to find out how to start the convo. Looking forward to it.

    If you do not currently subscribe to Comcast and are interested in getting CURRENT, please call 1-800-945-2288.

    This is completely useless. What does it even mean? It didn't answer my question. It ends up telling me what to do if I do not subscribe to Comcast, even though I told it that I have Comcast. (That's Comcast's 1-800 number.) Bad.

Why don't they tell you what kind of programming is on? Why are they trying to discourage and confuse me when I try to find out how to watch them? So far I'm not impressed. When it comes to their web site, they seem clueless.

Update: [2005-07-31] I discovered (after discovering that “Current TV” is very hard to search for) that Comcast does have Current TV in my area, but it costs extra. Comcast's confusing site does not tell me how much it will cost, nor which package includes it, but from reading various message boards I think I figured out what I would need to order. It's $23.86/month extra to get Current TV. I'm not going to pay that much. Why isn't it in the standard cable package?

Update: [2005-08-01] For Comcast viewers, they no longer have the form you have to fill out to find out how to watch. And it no longer has the confusing message about Comcast. Yay. For other folk, you still get the stupid form.

Update: [2005-08-02] It turns out not only have they fixed the form, they've admitted that it was bad. Double Yay!

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There are cities that allow ambulances and other emergency vehicles to control the traffic lights (turning them green so the ambulance can get to the emergency faster). This is done with a device called a MIRT (MIRT = mobile infrared transmitter). Eventually troublemakers get a MIRT and start causing trouble. People love to drive around and never get a red light.

It occurred to me that the problem is that all the MIRTs are the same. If each MIRT used some sort of encryption, where each ambulance had its own private key, then each traffic light would know which ambulance was passing by. When a device was stolen, its key could be removed from the list of valid keys, and all copies of that device would be disabled at once.

To make this work, you need all the traffic lights to receive updates periodically. This could either be networking (WiMax?) or it could be someone driving around with a special device that can update the keys through the MIRT. Of course, if someone stole that device, it's trouble!

Fiber optic lamp

I had unplugged my bedside lamp a few days ago. I had forgotten that I unplugged it, and tried turning it on tonight. It turned on momentarily, then went out. At first I thought the bulb might have gone out, but then I realized it was unplugged.

So why did it turn on momentarily? The AC/DC converter must have stored some charge in there and kept it for the past few days. Scary!