Global roaming

This announcement by AT&T sounds promising, though I'll reserve hope for a bit. I just bought a new global cellphone, an Ericsson T68i, and my service is with AT&T. Given the amount of overseas travel I'm doing this year, being able to just pop in a new sim card into my cellphone like all the Aussies were doing in New Zealand would be awesome and preferable to renting a cellphone. The U.S. doesn't just stand alone in its desire to run over Iraq with military force, it stands alone in the wireless standards arena and thus we marvel over features our international brethren have enjoyed for years.
The main reason I bought the new phone, though, is to allow use of a Bluetooth headset. Rumor has it that everyone at Motorola uses headsets, and until more conclusive results are in, I'd just as soon stop radiating my brain or groin.
The T68i is a pretty nice phone. Reception on AT&T's GSM network has been fine thus far, though I have yet to test its limits. Perhaps this Thursday if I head out to Spokane to see Stanford in the first round of the NCAA's. The phone's buttons are a bit small, a problem with most such compact phones, but so far everything else has worked like a charm. I'm anxious to get voice dialing set up and to try out my Bluetooth headset, though I'll hold off on WAP and the digital camera attachment functionality until it proves economical.

The sad state of HD

Another area where the U.S. lags the rest of the world is in HDTV standards and programming. I finally got my HD (high definition) dish installed and it added a whopping three DirecTV HD channels to my lineup, Mark Cuban's HDNet, a pay-per-view HD channel, and an HBO HD channel.
That's not enough of a reason to buy an HD receiver. A few other reasons I upgraded: one, the availability of a moderate amount of HD programming from the majors, including NBC, Fox, ABC, and CBS, all accessible by connecting a $25 terrestrial antenna like one from Winegard to your HD receiver. The Oscars will be broadcast in HD this year, and quite a few sporting events as well. Some of the major sitcoms are in HD, and on a widescreen HDTV set the A/V experience in HD is a huge improvement. Secondly, now I can watch a program while taping another on my Tivo, an option which would have saved me some difficult choices during the past several months.
Relative to the rest of the world and what it could be, the options are sparse, disappointing. Until the U.S. can agree on a standard and push it, we'll be limited to the slim pickings out there. It's a shame, because HD done right is gorgeous.

True digital darkroom

On a more positive technological note, I've finally had the chance to try out the Epson Stylus 2200, generating some prints based on scans of slides from my trips to New Zealand.
I have no idea what I'm doing, and I still managed a few gorgeous prints at 8 x 10. Even at that size the print quality rivals that you'd get from a photo lab, and the inks in the Stylus 2200 are archival, meaning they'll last long after you're dead. The digital workflow isn't exactly fast, given that each high quality scan takes me about 15 minutes, including image adjustments in Photoshop. Still, the control you have in Photoshop to manipulate photos is intoxicating. You can easily change color photos to black and white, or vice versa. You can sharpen or soften photos, turn them into watercolors, correct exposure errors, and so much more. I still don't own a digital camera, but most of the other elements of my digital darkroom are falling into place.
I have a lot to learn about color management and Photoshop, but the book Mastering Digital Printing promises to move me far along the learning curve.


This is going to be cool. Can't wait.
Can't wait?