One of the stranger things I saw demonstrated at CES in January is Imation's new ForceField coated CD and DVD blanks. At the booth a CD was being grated across sandpaper in an effort to prove just how scratch resistant these blanks really are. If you've ever looked at a normal blank CD (or one that you've burned) the data side of the disk always sports nasty looking scratches even with minimal handling. I have no idea whether the scratches are truly detrimental to the disks or not, but it doesn't seem like they are the best way to maintain data integrity. The new ForceField technology seems to work in all the various ways people accidentally abuse their storage media by setting them data side down on rough surfaces or accidentally droppage on the carpet. From what I can tell in comparing the sample disk I got at CES to several different brands of normal disks, including other Imation disks, the ForceField disks have either no noticeable scratches or barely noticeable scratches. I'm not sure what that means for the life of the data on the disks themselves, but I can only assume it's a good thing. With the cost only marginally higher than standard CD-R media, I'll be buying ForceField protected media for the foreseeable future.
Still no buyer's remorse for me on the decision to use Vonage as my primary phone service. The call quality remains rock solid. It's absolutely fabulous to get voice mail messages in my email inbox instead of having to dial in and listen to them. Connecting via a traditional landline phone doesn't seem to have a downside to it and I've been able to send and receive faxes without signing up for a special fax number using my Panasonic plain paper fax. The price, including long distance to Canada and the United States is under $30 per month, with no wonky charges tacked on later and in most cases you can keep your existing phone number (if you want to). I'm not specifically suggesting anyone switch from landline service to Vonage, but by all means, review my five steps for deciding whether VoIP fits your calling needs and take a look at the alternatives to landline. Inspite of increased competition, the mini-monopolies of the phone industry haven't figured out they still charge too much.
Don't touch that dial; Rocket Slide Radio is producing weekly shows for your listening pleasure. I talked my friend Steve Robinson into experimenting with the whole podcasting thing and his first show is now available for download or subscription. The first show features indie rock from RIAA-free labels with a theme centering on regret. If you're looking for great new music from artists flying below the radar of mainstream music venues, you owe it to yourself to check out Rocket Slide. And if you ask him real nice, maybe he'll even play some of his own stuff.