Was Betancourt a jerk?

Most of the world rejoiced when Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages were rescued from the FARC in Colombia, but now new details are emerging in a book published by the three Americans who were also in captivity calling into question her behavior while in captivity.

Two Americans held captive for five years by Colombia’s Farc rebels have launched an extraordinary attack on their fellow jungle hostage, Ingrid Betancourt, accusing her of being haughty, manipulative and self-absorbed.

One of the Northrop Grumman contractors accuses her of stealing food and hoarding books and even of putting their lives in danger by telling rebel guards – incorrectly, he insists – that the three were CIA agents.

Betacourt did not comment.


Neighbor's House on Fire

I’m still coughing.

Was putting the kids to sleep and he was just about down when the wife screamed for me. I ran out of bed and looked out the window but all I could see in the front yard was thick grey smoke, so thick it activated the motion detector lights. She said the neighbor’s house was on fire and I could just hear the first fire truck siren approaching.
I threw on my shoes and saw that the neighbors was pretty heavily involved with flames coming out of one side of the house. I started screaming for her and jumped her fence to run up to her door, but then my other neighbor started yelling ‘we got her over here!’. Guess I didn’t have to do my Rambo routine on her front door.
I then looked down the road and saw the fire truck was stuck in the main parking lot, unsure which dirt road to follow. I took off at a full sprint to get their attention, and then waved them back to the house on fire (again running). I must have sucked down a ton of smoke because I’m still coughing nearly an hour later.
The house was an old 40s beach shack with numerous ‘less than code’ updates. They had to saw through the roof to pour water down into the fire, and I’m not sure how much damage was caused.
The fire department went to three or four alarms. The first and second due pumpers from all 4 stations within 10 miles (North Beach, Dunkirk, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick) along with the two Towers, at least two rescue squads and three tankers that I could see. The first due engine, tower, and rescue squad were on our road, but on the main road I counted 8 other engines and other vehicles. God forbid their was another fire in the Northern part of the county.
Anyway, she’s ok, if a bit shocked. The Red Cross was here in 20 minutes and are taking her away for the night. I can still here the engine revving up the pumps every now and then as they battle extensions (this was a really old house).
In the background of this photo you can see some of the trucks lined up on the main road.
I’m going to try to clean out my lungs.

Live TV on the iPhone – Some new developments

While poking around the app store yesterday, I came across a few new applications that have tremendous promise.

France 24 in the news section offer live streaming of the France 24 (think CNN of France). The buffering is pretty quick and the quality is not bad. France24 is a different take on some of the news out of Europe and this lets you watch them on your iPhone via wifi pretty easily. Free app and worth a download.

France24 is only on limited cable systems in the US, with service in Washington and New York that I know of. They had some great coverage of some stories like the Bettancourt rescue in Columbia and they also have some good culture shows from Europe that are worth watching.

TVU is p2p video streaming company that allows you to watch tons of content from around the world, some of which is probably not authorized by the copyright holder. The app is in beta and released, but will likely have a few new developments that will make it much more useful (such as widescreen, which I haven’t figure out how to use just yet. Lots of Chinese channels (as I’ve said before, the Chinese are light years ahead of the US on IPTV — light years). Amazing what developments can be done when DRM is not the first consideration.

We’re still waiting for livestation.com to come out with their app (in development) and I guess we are still waiting for the Slingbox app, promised for months and months (but no where in sight just yet).


Real Networks gunning for Boxee?

Saw an interesting job opportunity with Real Networks in Seattle. They’re looking for an embedded LINUX specialist for work on a new content / media system that has previously been in ’stealth’ mode in Seattle. Seems they are developing an ‘all in one’ system that could handle audio, video, etc in a small device (kind of like the PenguinRadio I was working on for so many years).

Interesting that Codling has been mentioned now for almost 18 months. Wonder when they will get out a product that can compete with the Boxee system that is running ripshod through the media center crowd?

(At least they are using LINUX which is a nice plug for open source. Real dove into the open source community with the HELIX project to get their formatted music playing on other devices, but they remain under pressure from streaming mp3 and aac which is gaining more followers (the BBC is starting some AAC streams this week)).

Job Title: Sr. Linux Embedded Engineer

Position Type (FT or PT): Full Time – Regular

Area of Interest: Software Development

Location: Seattle (Headquarters)

Description: RealNetworks, Inc. is a rapidly growing, web based, digital music, online gaming and streaming company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, that provides the universal platform for the delivery of any digital media, from any point of origin, across virtually any network, to any person on any Internet-enabled device, anywhere in the world.

RealNetworks Inc., based in Seattle, WA, has recently formed a new consumer media platform team whose charter is to deliver “Codling”, a game-changing home entertainment system. Formed as a stealth startup within RealNetworks, the Codling team is being led by one of the founders of RealNetworks, Phil Barrett, and has already attracted executives from Amazon.com, Microsoft, Disney and Intel, and RealNetworks. The Codling team is creating a rich set of consumer media experiences that will make the industry stand up and take notice.

From the ground up, we are building a technology platform and content distribution ecosystem that will support a vast array of yet-to-be-announced content distribution models. Hollywood, NYC, Silicon Valley, and consumer electronics manufacturers *will* be knocking on our doors once we announce.

Would you like to work with high-tech and media legends? Do you enjoy the rush of working in an agile, consumer-focused environment? Are you passionate about digital video and consumer electronic devices? Do you want to touch the daily lives of millions of consumers around the world?

If you do, then the RealNetworks recruiting team wants to talk to you!


Fire on Tilghman Island???

Looking out over the Bay tonight was quite pretty as we had some clear skies and a rather large moon rising. But then I noticed this really bright light about 9:00 PM that wasn’t usually there (the other side of the Bay is rather desolate–I can often count the number of lights I see pretty easily)

This was a bit different. It blazed brightly and flickered a bit, kind of like a fire. The odd thing was it was about 40 feet up in the air, and I also saw another flickering light down below (fire truck?).

Unfortunately distortion over the water prevents me from seeing clearly just what is going on over there. The Naval Research Lab has a large tower over there for radar research. I hope that’s not what I saw on fire (maybe they were doing laser tests or something).

UPDATE: Went and got the bigger binoculars out of the basement and…still no idea. It might not be a fire but some really powerful light, being distorted in shape and intensity due to the water vapor over the Bay tonight. It’s still going on after 40 minutes and that tower really doesn’t have the much fuel (it’s not that big). Guess I’ll just have to wait and see…

We’ll check the Eastern Shore papers tomorrow and see what’s what.


Sirius XM Bankruptcy: Told you so…

Next target, rock and/or roll..

Next target, rock and/or roll..

When I published my thoughts on how the iPhone would kill Sirius / XM, I was linked in the Sirius XM financial messageboards (probably by some shorts). Needless to say some of the longs went after me screaming ‘this guy is a moron’ and some other harshness. Even today when I talk about how amazing it is to play radio on my iPhone, I get some radio purists come in an whine ‘but but but, HD radio is better because…’ or something like that. (It reminds me of the guy who told me mp3’s would never take off because they didn’t sound as good as CDs).

Anyway, SiriusXM are preparing to file for bankruptcy. Told you this would happen.

It’s not really the iPhone that is the killer, directly. It is the mountains and mountains of debt that were attached to Sirius. These guys borrowed BILLIONS to put their birds up in orbit. It just never made sense–NEVER MADE SENSE–to recreate the broadcast radio model up in space with a hugely more expensive infrastructure, not when a simpler hack together system is available to deliver more content easier (iPhone tethered to a car stereo). And with more and more 4G services being planned (wimax, LTE) I can understand why investors were running scared about satellite radio.

Sadly, a bunch of truckers are going to be really depressed. One of the strongest fan bases for satellite radio is long haul truckers who got their fix of news, information, music and even trucking stories no matter where they were in the USA. I suspect many of them are going to have some withdraw pains should the service shutter.


Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka…

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Sri Lankan military is on a roll. They seized the last major outpost of the Tamil Tigers rebel group and are now very confidently predicting ‘the end of the resistance’ that has been going on for nearly 25 years.

The rebels are now confined to a very small area of the island, and civilian casualties are mounting (a cluster bomb took out a hospital yesterday). What is somewhat surprising (or maybe not) is the lack of mainstream media attention to this. When Israel went into Gaza in one big push, we knew all the details and all the white phosphorous rounds hitting this school or another. But the Sri Lankan battle is definitely off the radar scope of most people.

This will be interesting. Like several other organizations (Shining Path springs to mind) you see a major military victory and then several years of peace, followed by a bit of a resurgence. One wonders what the next decade will bring in Sri Lanka.


Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. What a coincidence???

So, today a bridge was blown up by the Taliban that is on the main supply route to Afghanistan.

The Russians announced a multi-billion dollar aid package for Kyrgystan.

Kyrgyzstan (moments later) announces that the US airbase supporting Afghan operations should be closed post-haste.

Isn’t it just amazing the coincidences???