At the intersection of my curiosity, my interest in television, and my rusty Russian language skills

A Russian-language advertisement for an IPTV service
For you, from ActavaTV (only $69.95!)

I found this in my mail. I’m not entirely sure why ActavaTV in New York has sent me this, but it certainly piqued my interest. As far as I can tell, ActavaTV is a Russian-language MSO, that provides, and this is where my rusty Russian skills come in, over two hundred channels from Russia, the Ukraine, Israel, and the rest of the CIS (basically, Russia’s southern-bordering neighbors). It purports to offer content in HD, and a variety of films. From the website, I’ve also managed to determine they offer karaoke and radio in addition to these services.

All these features! (I can barely understand)
All these features (I can barely understand)!

So the box they’re advertising is only $69.95, and I knew that there were some Russian satellite television providers around, but this made no mention of satellite or anything else of that nature. Some quick Googling of the set-top box pictured in the flier revealed it to be an IPTV box. I was intrigued when I thought they were a satellite MSO (I’ve always wanted to get into Free-To-Air satellite DXing, a good, cheap package just might be the right incentive), but now that they’re an IPTV MSO, I’m really quite interested. The website was rather scant on service costs, but eventually I dug up some information in their feedback page. Turns out their premium package is $29.99 and their basic package is a mere $9.99.

If I should come across some extra cash somewhere, I might actually invest in this, if only to examine it more closely. Of course, I probably ought to brush up on my Russian before then (good thing I kept my dictionary and work books from high school).

Leaving the laptop behind…

I love my Macbook Pro. I really do. Sure, it’s not the newest model (but it has DVI, ExpressCard 34 and a removable battery), and sure it’s not in mint condition (but the Apple Geniuses did do a pretty good job of trying to un-bend the case near my DVD drive), and sure it’s had its share of problems (I believe it’s on its fourth DVD±RW/DL drive, second hard disk, second logic board, and second battery, all replaced under my extended AppleCare warranty), but I wouldn’t give it up. But it’s not the greatest traveling companion ever either. Sure, at 15 inches, diagonally, it’s a great compromise between functionality and portability, but traveling with it means bringing an A/C adapter with me where ever I go, and means worrying about damaging it, and means an extra bag.

Today, I leave for a six day trip in New Jersey to see my friends’ wedding. In fact, by the time you read this I’m in the air. Before leaving, I thought long and hard about leaving my laptop behind. The Wired Travel Optimizer suggested this, and I’ve decided to compromise: bring the laptop, but don’t use it. My ultimate goal is to leave my laptop in its bag for the entire trip (except, possibly, for Netflix viewing in a hotel room). It’s coming along because I want it as a safety net. I know for a fact that there are some things I can’t do inside of mobile apps, like managing Facebook events, but I may be able to do them from inside the mobile browser. And it’s possible that I may run into one or two other things I simply can’t handle on my Nexus S. There also are likely things I just won’t feel like handling on my phone, but I could probably manage on my phone more easily if I spent some money. But I don’t exactly feel like spending $60+ on a Bluetooth travel keyboard that I may not ever use.

But in any event, the goal will be to see if traveling without a laptop would be realistic for me. I realize that for some people it isn’t, and for some people it isn’t even a question. But for me, this is a question that I haven’t been able to settle. The last half dozen times I’ve been flying, I’ve been going from one place to another for, typically, one to nine months at a time, and working in video while there. This meant that not only was my laptop required, but so were auxiliary disks. Now that they aren’t necessary… we’ll see.

Google upgrades Goggles, allows users to opt-in for visual searching on EVERY photo taken

Today Google announced version 1.6 of Google Goggles for Android. Ordinarily an upgrade to Google’s often forgotten image searching utility wouldn’t be too interesting, but this time they’ve added a new feature: auto-search by image, or as ReadWriteWeb has dubbed it, Perma-Goggles. Checking a box in a new settings page will enable the Camera app to upload every images you take to Google for matching against Goggles search results, which then causes the app to ping you with a notification.

This is quite interesting, I believe it could herald in a new age of photographic organization. Imagine if this was paired with the Auto-Upload feature of Google Plus (which basically uploads everything to a private Picasa album), and it stored the results with the photo. Now instead of having to manually tag your photographs, Google would do it for you, automatically.

How often had you gone through your photo library, trying to find that one image, but you can’t. You remember a couple details about it, you know what it looks like, but because you didn’t tag it, you can’t do a search for it. This could change that with auto-tagging, paired with facial recognition, it could finally help people manage their run-away collections of the random images we take these days.

Mark my words, this could be bigger than we imagine.