Tech Report: Tivo, LetterPress & The Need For Speed…

By November 9, 2012

Hi all,

Andrew here, a little groggy, and full of mandarin oranges.

On a week in which we re-elected a president via Twitter and my sister is still powerless and couch-surfing in Brooklyn, I can’t say that there’s a lot for me to add to the conversation except a few little bits and bites here and there.

I recently upgraded the wireless infrastructure in my apartment and am very happy with the results. I replaced my aging D-Link DGL-4500 router with a newer Asus RT-N66U “Black Knight” unit, and the results speak for themselves – web pages that used to take a while to fill in on my bedroom media machine (a 2007 Intel Mac mini with an interesting Hollywood provenance) now snap on to the screen with authority. The Asus unit is a nice piece of kit, and I recommend it highly. There is a newer model that supports the new AC WiFi standard, but in these things I tend to be conservative; the RT-N66U is well-liked by user communities I trust on these things, and now by me.

I replaced a fan in my TiVo unit this week as well. I can’t say enough good things about the folks at weaKnees and they came through for me again. If you have a TiVo, the weakNees people can help you keep it running and make it better with their selection of parts and upgrades. But the interesting thing for me was how little I missed my TiVo while I was waiting for the fan to arrive. Cord-cutting is going mainstream, and more and more, the big bit-delivery conglomerates like cable and telelphone companies are going to have to face a world in which people will increasingly see their services as unnecessary. In the same way that the home telephone has gone from necessity to relic of a bygone time, an entire generation is growing up free of the idea that cable means TV. Now, cable means internet, and internet means video – on-demand, anywhere, and on any device. A brave new world for content creators, delivery systems, and consumers alike.

Another minor obsession for me lately has been the new iOS game “LetterPress” which combines Boggle and Othello into a game of anagrams and strategy. The game has a clean, almost Metro-inspired look and was written by Loren Brichter, who gave the world “pull-to-refresh” in his seminal iOS Twitter client, Tweetie. There’s also been an interesting development, which is that two weeks after the game was released, someone has already written an app that can read the game board from screencaps and provide cheats. It means that every game is now suspect in a way. Just as the ease with which content can be pirated has created a world in which the only long-term DRM solution that works is to make people more interested in their own understanding of their moral and ethical position, so too has the ease of cheating in social gaming created a world in which every game is an exercise in competitiveness vs. moral brinksmanship. LetterPress is free in the Apple App Store, and a $0.99 in-game purchase gives the ability to play more than two games at a time and see the list of words played in an ongoing game.

That’s it for now, I guess. Here’s hoping your lights are on and your bed is someplace warm. Have a great weekend and let me know if you have questions or topics you’d like me to cover.

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Andrew Solmssen

About me: I am a nerd. I nerd it up currently as an independent computer consultant and stand-up comic, but my nerd history is long. I started by typing in BASIC programs on a TRS-80, progressed to Apple IIs and then PCs and Macs. My first internet transaction was downloading the "Canonical Collection of Light-Bulb Jokes" from an FTP site on a line-printing terminal at the University of Maryland in 1984. My CompuServe ID was 73300,13, and my Slashdot user id is 9448. I still have some Apple DOS 3.3 disks somewhere, and the first USR Courier 2400bps modem I ever owned. I have been to three different Fry's in one day. I can build a new PC in an hour from stuff I have around the house. I started by administrating a Novell 2.15c network and now do Windows, Mac, and Unix. I'm not a comic book geek, or a Star Wars guy, or even a D&D guy, although I can speak those languages. Nerd, that's me. Visit me at,, and