The wedding was great! Thanks for the unexpectedly large number of reblogs on that last post.
For the first time since Tumblr started, I have to declare Dashboard bankruptcy. I absolutely cannot possibly catch up with everything since I was last here 2 weeks ago. This bothers me more than you probably expect, unless you have the same must-see-everything RSS-reader-like compulsion that I do.
So I’m starting here: ____________________________________________
I have to skip everything between this line and 2 weeks ago. Let me know if I missed anything really cool.
I just lost a lot of money in stock-based accounts.
Even the most conservative stocks and mutual funds have bombed recently, and there’s no end in sight. I’m fairly new to this world, but I don’t want to ride this down any more… I think I’ll pull most of it out soon/now and buy back in when the market’s in an upswing.
Is my only hope a 4% CD at this point, or am I missing better options?
(Also, screw taboos. I’m talking about money. Next, I’ll address religion, politics, and whatever diseases killed your loved ones.)
Editing the submission queue for Give Me Something To Read has reinforced my increasing realization that hardly any professional-content sites (news sites, high-profile blogs, etc.) actually have anything to say of lasting value.
Two weeks of submissions accumulated during my vacation (over 600 links). Normally, I put 4-6 articles per weekday on GMSTR, and I try to be very picky, so I should have a buildup of 40-60 great articles in these submissions. But many of them are time-sensitive, so their value two weeks later is greatly diminished. I’ll probably end up getting around 25 good picks, but there’s a lot of subject-matter repetition within my picks so far, having pruned through about half of the queue.
The internet and blogs are great platforms to deliver news and related commentary. But can’t we find more to say that will still matter in two weeks, two years, or two decades? I’m going to try.
To really stand for something, you must make difficult decisions, mostly about what you don’t do. We don’t ship products like that, we don’t stand for employees like that (“you’re fired”), we don’t fix problems like that.
This is one of the biggest improvements that startups and busy people can make. By defining what you aren’t, you can specialize and produce great work.
This is especially personal because I used to have a big problem turning down money and work. As one step toward fixing this, I gave up computer-fixing and I’ve been a far better developer since. I’ll also no longer work on an hourly-only basis — I want the possibility of reaping benefits from my work even during the hours, days, and years I’m not actively working on it, so I’ll only do personal projects or jobs in which I have equity.
I got a lot of great responses to my “I just lost a lot of money in investments” post via reblogs and email. (Short version: I have some savings in various stocks and mutual funds I bought last year that I’ve now lost about 30% on, and I was considering selling them.)
One sentiment I keep hearing is that I shouldn’t sell stocks now, because then I’ll be confirming and setting my loss — that I haven’t actually lost money until I sell, and I should instead hold everything and wait for it to go back up.
This is a very commonly held misconception. It’s flawed economically, and it sounds like a gambler’s rationale.
I bought some Apple stock at about $150. It’s now down to about $95. Regardless of whether I sell or hold, I’ve now lost money. My investments are worth less than they were when I bought them. That’s losing money.
One of Jim Cramer’s most valuable lessons is to ignore your cost basis (how much you paid for your stocks) when deciding whether to sell, hold, or buy more of a stock. It doesn’t matter how much you paid for it — what matters is where it’s going now. Sell if you think it’s going down. Buy if you think it’s going up.
Most people can’t ignore their cost basis because it goes against their emotional nature. You don’t want to sell a falling stock because you don’t want to admit that you made a wrong decision, or you don’t want to admit and realize a loss, or you assume it will just bounce back up and you’ll be fine.
But these stocks are way down. The money’s lost already. I made a wrong decision, and I realized that loss, and it’s probably not going back up anytime soon. My biggest mistake has been continuing to ride the stocks down, even though I felt that
The root of much of this flawed thinking is that people seem to think a sale is final — that once you sell, you’ll never buy that stock again, and your loss will be permanent. But buying and selling stocks and mutual fund shares is easy. It’s 2008. You don’t have to send a telegram to your high-priced broker with huge trade minimums and hope there’s a good market rate whenever he executes the trade. I can trade relatively small amounts of money for $13 at E-Trade in seconds. Deciding what to do takes much longer than actually doing it.
(This applies more to stocks than mutual funds. Most mutual funds take a day to respond and have trade limits and higher minimums, but it’s still nothing like the way it was before online trading.)
If you’re reasonably sure that an investment is likely to go down, sell it now and let it fall, then buy it back when you think it’s likely to go up.
If I had sold 30 shares of Apple when it was at $150 and falling, I’d be sitting on about $4500 in cash. It has now dropped to $90. I could have reinvested that $4500 now if I felt it was going to go up again, and I would own 50 shares instead of 30. If the price recovers and it climbs to $150 again, my investment would be worth $7500. But if I hadn’t sold and I just let it fall with my money invested in it, the best I can hope for is that it goes back to $150 and I get to recover my original $4500. And there’s no guarantee that it will ever go back up.
That’s the trick: let it fall without being invested in it. Obviously you can’t guarantee that you’ll time this properly, but the risk isn’t so bad here if you pay attention. You don’t have to sell at the exact top and buy at the exact bottom. You can wait until there’s a significant upswing happening before buying back in with reasonable confidence.
I believe that many stocks are still likely to fall further, so I decided to sell some of mine. If I’m wrong and this is truly the bottom, I’ll just buy back in when they’re a little higher and miss out on some of the recovery — and that’s the worst case. That’s not so bad. I’ll just have a smaller gain than someone who timed it perfectly.
But if I’m right, and stocks fall further, I’ll have saved a lot of my money from being lost by selling them now and waiting until an upswing to reinvest that money.
Sidenote: I bought a small amount of NVIDIA for around $25/share. It wasn’t doing very well and I feared that their sales and roadmap were weak, so I reluctantly ate the loss and sold it for about $21 in June. That ended up being a very good move: riding it out would have been a bad idea.
Hundreds of new startups are likely as a result of the economic crisis and a rise in unemployment among software engineers. The simple reason is that unemployed software engineers will have the time to band together to work on new projects.
This will be true, to an extent. Rich people in California who can afford to go 6 months without a job will band together to work on new projects.
But developers don’t make the salaries they did in 2000, and many haven’t been employed for long enough to have built up enough savings to avoid getting another full-time job immediately when they lose theirs. In reality, many good developers can’t afford to waffle around in coffeeshops for a few months. They have to eat and pay rent somehow. And they need health insurance. Some have families. The only option is to get another full-time job as quickly as possible.
And many of the biggest employers have a non-negotiable clause in their hiring contracts that forbids software developers from having side projects (or claims full rights over them, which is even worse), even when constructed entirely at home with personal resources. That Google “20% time” gimmick doesn’t sound so great right now, does it? (If I had succeeded in getting Amazon to hire me in 2006, Instapaper could never have happened, and Tumblr would probably be nonexistent or very different. Glad that didn’t work out.)
If you really want to revitalize innovation, startups, and self-employment, we need to provide a better safety net for people who try it on their own. IRAs were a great step toward this by providing good retirement-account options without being employed by a big company. The next step is guaranteed health care for all U.S. residents so people aren’t unfairly stuck in their corporate jobs so their kids can go to the doctor.
I think it’s wise for most people, myself included, to take a step back and remember that stocks and stock-based investments should serve one main purpose: to preserve and grow money over the very long term (10+ years) and try to keep ahead of inflation.
Trying to use the market as a way to “make money” isn’t a very reliable plan. The best way to make money seems to be the old-fashioned way: to make money. Directly. By performing a job or offering a service or making things and getting people to pay you money in return.
Want more money? Create a reason for more people to pay you money. Taking a side job or starting a side business is likely to get you far more additional money than even a good year invested in the stock market, and it’s much less risky if you can do something that doesn’t require much of an initial investment.
In that regard, an “investment” is something that enables you to make money. An education is an investment. Tools that you use to do a monetizable job are an investment. Raw materials that you convert into salable goods are an investment. (Of course, it’s up to you to execute well with any of these.)
For most of us, the financial market should simply be a place for us to store the money we generate from our “real” sources, not a way to make significant money itself.
When I look at it that way, those 4% bank CDs are looking pretty good right now.
Wait, we’re supposed to endure a “spending freeze”, but also go around buying up every bad mortgage we can find and let the government eat the loss of housing values? We’re supposed to invest in energy independence without spending any money? And keep Bush’s tax cuts around?
Enact a “spending freeze” on the government. But it must buy every bad mortgage. And keep all current tax cuts. And cut taxes further. So we’re going to stop spending money by spending more money and making less money.
Invest heavily in alternative energy sources, which include “hybrid” and “battery”, apparently without spending any money since we’ll be in a spending freeze.
The military must be deployed everywhere, indefinitely, apparently for free also, and quietly with big sticks.
Definitively and promptly find Osama bin Laden with a secret plan known only to McCain.
Fix Social Security and Medicare by telling Congress to fix Social Security and Medicare.
The Brunch is a series of consumer products that celebrate the mundane. Bread Slicer facilitates even, uniform, precision - cuts. Toaster brings knowledge, skill and anticipation to the toasting of a slice of bread, set angle and force to exactly hit your plate. Cutlery perfectly aligned on Placemat is rendered invisible, the Holy Grail of table placement. Teapot records the height one is able to pour tea from. Milk and Sugar allow for meticulous taste.
You have to check out the other photos here! I would buy this toaster—no question!
Perhaps most importantly, the perception that Google can do no wrong will change rapidly. As it does, the pent-up anger about Google complete domination of the global advertising market over the past few years will find a more receptive audience, and the company’s critics will be emboldened.
An insightful look at the effects that Google’s falling stock value will have on the company’s culture, its shareholder relations, and employee compensation.
is anyone really worried for Google? I mean really?
Google’s not as infallible as tech geeks like to think. They don’t have significantly diverse revenue — it’s mostly online ads. If the online ad market crashes and prices plummet (this has happened before), Google loses a lot of their income.
Some of their side projects have been relatively successful (Gmail, Maps, Docs, Reader), but they still depend on a healthy web-ad market. The majority of their side projects haven’t been worth the trouble or haven’t brought significant revenue (Pages, Checkout, Code, Chat, App Engine, OAuth, OpenSocial, and a million others that we’ve forgotten about — I bet we’ll be adding Android to this list next year). Their famous “20% time” really hasn’t produced much of any profitable significance.
Many of their talented people have left to form startups. And Google still hasn’t figured out how to effectively manage such large quantities of very smart but often less-useful people — many of the people who pass their ridiculous hiring process.
They seem to have no strategic direction. Their product releases are all over the place.
They’re not going out of business tomorrow, but they’re certainly not impervious to problems in the market or internally.
Battery life is more of a challenge for the iPhone than for its competitors, because Apple’s multitouch darling entices you to actually do the things that burn through your charge like a Roman candle. It’s so easy to surf the Web, play graphics-intensive games, and geolocate your buddies that the iPhone is less likely to hang out in your pocket in standby mode, waiting for a silly phone call.
Redesigned MacBooks and MacBook Pros Likelihood: 100%
That’s what the event is for. Both lines will stay in the same market segments and size classes, possibly losing up to 0.5 lbs. of weight and slightly reducing the thicknesses, but no major departures (e.g. the 15” MBP will be 5.0-5.5 lbs. and the 13” MB will be 4.5-5.0 lbs.). I’m hoping to see a 1680x1050 screen on the 15”, maybe as an optional upgrade.
The cases are all aluminum, including the MacBook Likelihood: 90%
See the bottom tri-picture here. The middle panel. That’s almost identical to the MacBook Air’s topcase. The only slight differences I can see are the placement of the power button and the width of the hinge cutout. So that might be for a revised MacBook Air, but it’s more likely that they’re consolidating the parts and using the same topcase for both the 13” MacBook and any future MacBook Airs. If so, this is likely to mean that the MacBook will sport the Air’s slightly louder speaker. This is very good news to anyone who has ever tried to watch a movie on a MacBook. Also, it looks like they’ve moved all of the ports to the left side for the 15” MBP (like the MacBook), which is great for anyone who regularly hooks up their MBPs to external peripherals. Unfortunately, it looks like they still only have 2 USB ports on the 13” and 15”.
MacBook price drop: $800-900 for base model Likelihood: 50%
Currently, they start at $1100. There’s certainly room for a price cut in this line — Intel’s laptop chipsets are very integrated and very cheap.
MacBook Air update (not a redesign) Likelihood: 60%
The other laptops are being made to look more like the Air, and it’s still fairly new, so I don’t expect a redesign. However, we’ll probably see minor spec bumps. I expect a slight CPU-speed upgrade (1.8 and 2.13 GHz?), a 120 GB base hard drive, and (wishful thinking) maybe the high-end SSD model will get 4 GB of RAM. No significant changes (no CD drive, no discrete graphics, no WWAN, same size and weight, SSD only in the high-end model, etc.).
MacBook Air price drop Likelihood: 30%
Currently, it’s $1800 and $2600. Nobody has mentioned this in any rumors, but I think it may drop slightly, especially the high-end model. I’d guess $1600 and $2200.
Yesterday, in video. Shot throughout the day, put together and uploaded today. You should do the same. And when you do, put it in the My Day, Yesterday group. Don’t add any music or anything, only what’s recorded via the camera.
Shot with the D90, with the 50mm 1.8 and 28mm 2.8 primes.
Garrett Murray found a way to make a typical day (very similar to my typical days) look interesting with this great video.
So why the phony voter registrations? My guess is that somebody was supposed to spend all day registering voters. Instead, he spent all day playing Halo and smoking pot. Then, when he’s supposed to turn in his forms, he writes down a bunch of fake names and tells his superviser that he registered sixty people that day. Yes it’s illegal—but it’s not a vast conspiracy, it’s just a guy slacking off in a highly illegal manner.
These plummeting Dow Jones Index graphs are not depressing to me anymore, not abstract, not overwhelming. They are comforting. They finally feel like the only concrete indicator of our economy’s well-being I’ve seen in a newspaper these last 8 years.
Whenever I go through and delete my listened-to podcast episodes, I always do the right-click-Update on my favorites just to see if maybe they’ve updated and iTunes hasn’t automatically picked it up yet.
Usually they haven’t, and nothing happens. But occasionally, after a second of updating, a new episode appears! It’s a little happy surprise every time. I say “Yes!” in my head.
All I want is to take all of the video from my Canon HF100 and burn it to a simple DVD so I can show my parents-in-law tomorrow on their TV. But I won’t be able to, because this 3-hour iMovie export just failed for no good reason (error code negative-something), and I don’t have enough time to sit through another one with slightly different settings to see if it works.
AVCHD is proving to be a bigger pain in the ass than I expected when I bought the camera. I don’t think I can recommend cameras that use it until QuickTime natively supports AVCHD and .MTS files, and there’s no guarantee that it ever will. (Sorry, Lauren, for having already recommended this camera to you. Hope it’s working out better for you than it is for me.)
Here’s the process of doing anything with this video, which is a tremendous pain in the ass and massively time-consuming:
Import to iMovie ‘08 or Final Cut (Express or Pro). But you can’t import the .MTS files directly from your hard drive as first-class movie files from either product — you have to go through the “import from camera” interface, which means that the camera (or a card reader with the camera’s card in it) must be plugged into the computer, and the files must be in the proper directory on the card, and all of the metadata directories must be in place.
Wait forever (even on an 8-core Mac Pro) for the software to import, because it doesn’t actually support AVCHD’s version of H.264 (it’s not the same video stream format as “regular” H.264, even when demuxed from its .MTS containers). So it’s transcoded to a much larger format, presumably Apple Intermediate Codec, which eats up all of your disk space and takes forever to process.
Edit if you want to.
Export the video to a useful format for web publishing or DVD, which takes just as long as importing it.
Go to sleep because it’s taking too long.
Wake up to find that iMovie ‘08 has issued a strange error code at the very end of the export and it wasn’t completed. Repeat using different export settings until you find the one combination that actually works.
Note that none of this is Canon’s fault, and supposedly the process is better with Vegas on Windows. This should be embarrassing to Apple, and I hope AVCHD support is dramatically improved in the next versions of iMovie and QuickTime.
Many people find that their standard point-and-shoot digital still cameras with video-clip-recording capability are sufficient for their video needs. There’s a reason for that. Point-and-shoots usually record movies as standard AVI or MOV files using the simple, widely supported Motion JPEG codec, which basically just records every video frame as a JPEG image. Doesn’t get much simpler than that in 2008. iPhoto imports them, sticks them right alongside all of your still photos, and plays them perfectly well whenever you want in QuickTime Player.
Granted, they’re not recording HD resolutions, and Motion JPEG would probably be too large at 1920x1080/30p to be efficiently encoded or reliably written to flash in real time. This is exactly what H.264 is for. But clearly, AVCHD’s complex folder structure and readable-by-nothing .MTS container files aren’t the only option: the upcoming Canon 5D Mark II SLR shoots 1080p/30 into standard, QuickTime-supported H.264 in MOV containers, and it’s not even a dedicated video camera. Surely, video-camera designers can come up with something better than AVCHD that can be implemented practically in their consumer lineups.
AVCHD’s time with me is limited. Economics permitting, I’m selling the HF100 as soon as I can buy a 5D Mark II. It’s a shame, because other than its incredibly inconvenient output format, it’s a perfectly nice camera.
When you buy the final cut suite it comes with Compressor and DVD Studio Pro. Once you have both of the programs you can shrink your HD files to the best size and compress the files to good DVD formats without having to be awful.
I would, except that Final Cut Studio costs $1300, and that seems like a bit of overkill to get a reasonable workflow from this $650 camera that I only use about once a month. I know I could pirate it, but I really try to minimize that now that I’m an adult capable of paying for things.
It seems especially ridiculous since my minimal, occasional editing needs are usually satisfied perfectly well by iMovie (freely bundled with my computer) and QuickTime Pro ($30).
I love toaster ovens. Even when one owns a separate toaster and oven, the toaster oven is still one of the most useful appliances to have in the kitchen.
For bagels: Even with wide-slotted “bagel” models, slot toasters always require a perfect bisection, fill up with smoking crumbs, and burn the backs of bagels — especially the seeds on everything bagels. (Anyone want to challenge me on whether the “everything” seed set should include salt?) But toaster ovens provide toasting-level high heat on top with low, even heat at a safe distance from below — low enough to even toast cheese-topped bagels such as asiago.
For pizza: I’d never wish the mushy mess of microwave-reheated pizza on anyone. Oven-reheating is the way to go, but it takes far too long for most ovens to sufficiently heat up, so many people just give up and eat their leftover pizza cold or accept the inferior microwave output. Toaster ovens heat up quickly and reheat pizza almost as quickly as microwaves with far superior results.
For large crumbly items that you may wish to toast: Try to slot-toast a muffin or scone. I dare you.
For wide toast: Some of the best toasting bread is shaped a bit like a fat football. You know what I mean. These slices don’t fit in slot toasters, so you have to let it stick out the top and try to flip it in the middle of the cycle. You’ll never time it right.
For multi-person toast: Big toaster ovens can fit 6-8 slices of bread simultaneously. With a slot toaster, when you’re serving toast for two people (or three if you have a fat four-slot model), you have to take turns. But it never works very well. You can’t eat together unless the earlier-toast consumers wait, but then theirs gets cold. And the toaster’s too hot after the first set, so it burns the outside and undercooks the inside of the second set.
I’ve endured many long years without one, but as part of the terms of my wedding, I’m finally allowed to get one — and I can pick whichever model I want, regardless of cost or size. I’ve done some basic research, and as far as I can tell, the best one is the Cuisinart TOB-175. Not only does Consumer Reports rate it the highest, but it has an impressive 4.5-star average from 520 Amazon customer reviews. Nothing else comes close to that record.
As far as I can tell, the only negative thing about it is that many reviewers don’t like how it cooks the top much more than the bottom for standard toast, seemingly intentionally and by design. This is illustrated very well in one of Amazon’s user-submitted photos. But I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. Slot toasters do this, too, which is why most of them label which side is “in” for bagels — they’re just so imprecise that you probably don’t notice the difference. I admit that the pictured difference is more than many people may want, but for me, that’s a strength: it’s probably going to do a great job on bagels, where you want a much bigger difference than “regular” toast.
Does this seem like a sane choice? Anyone have it? Or is there another God-toaster-oven that I’m missing?
I think one reason I love listening to the jam-band channel on Sirius is because there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy whatever they’re playing, and due to the nature of jam bands, there’s an equally good chance that I’ve never heard it before.
It also helps that jam-band members tend to be very good musicians relative to the average pop performers.
Don’t buy the $999 white MacBook. Wait until you can afford the $1299 metal one. It’s a significant upgrade.
Farewell, Intel GMA series (mostly). You won’t be missed.
With the new GPUs, the $1299 MacBook just removed much of the (very little remaining) motivation for budget-conscious buyers to get the $1999 MacBook Pro. That said, the new MacBook Pro looks amazing if you can swing the additional cost.
I’m intrigued by the MBP’s dual-GPU setup. Can it switch between them gracefully without requiring a reboot? That would be a very impressive technological feat, mostly by NVIDIA, if so.
The 15” remains at 5.5 lbs, identical to the previous weight. But the new 13” MacBook lost 0.5 pounds compared to the original, from 5.0 to 4.5 lbs. This will probably hurt sales of the MacBook Air (3.0 lbs.) a bit — the cheaper MacBook is now a bit closer to the Air’s extreme portability, and still retains advantages in every other area (price, performance, capacity, versatility, expandability).
I never think I’ll like glossy screens, but then I get them, and they don’t bother me.
The new 24” Cinema Display looks great and I love the built-in MagSafe cable. I hope it uses the same H-IPS panel as the 24” iMac — that’s the best-looking LCD I’ve ever seen, and it’s hardly available in anything. Also, built-in speakers: nice. But the $900 price is still steep when Dell sells their excellent 24” LCDs with far better connectivity for $550-650. And connectivity will be a problem for many people with the new Cinema Display unless there’s a cheap adapter to let you connect a DVI laptop to this DisplayPort-only monitor. (For $900, I’d expect it to come with one.)
I’m disappointed that the 15” MBP is still stuck at 1440x900 and didn’t get a 1680x1050 resolution option.
The 17” did change: it’s now exclusively the high-resolution version (1920x1200, same as a 24” LCD), and I think it now comes with more RAM and a bigger hard drive (4 GB / 320 GB. What was it before?). That’s about it.
The new MacBook doesn’t have a FireWire port anymore, and the MacBook Pro only has FireWire 800. Like all FireWire 800 ports, I’m sure it can be adapted to FireWire 400 with a simple cable that Apple will probably be happy to sell you for $30.
The MacBook Air will be much more attractive when SSD prices fall.
The hard drives in all models are now very easy to access for replacements or upgrades. The MacBook drives were always easy, but this is a major improvement for the MacBook Pro, which previously had to be taken almost completely apart in a perilous process that I wouldn’t recommend that anyone attempt. Now, it’s easy and fast with far lower risk. You may not care now, but geeks will care in 18 months when SSDs are cheaper, and non-geeks will care in 3 years when the hard drive dies and they need to replace it out of warranty.
UPDATE:A $99 adapter is required for 30” displays. That kinda sucks. We’re also being nickel-and-dimed on every accessory, including $30 for a regular DVI adapter and $20 for the Apple Remote. That’s annoying, and it really shows that Apple’s now a full player in the retail-store business, employing all of the tricks that other retailers always have.
Thank you for your concise toaster oven buying guide. While I’m not currently in the market for one, I have had the entire post tattooed on my chest for later reference (if only there was some sort of internet-based application for saving online articles you want to read later!).
But the play we saw today was the prologue of the new Apple Without Steve but With Steve Era, Jobs signaling that he’s not alone at the helm, and that if he moves on, nobody should panic. Not explicitly, but the message was there in big neon letters for everyone to see.
Upgradeable hard drive to any standard 2.5” drive, which are cheap and widely available. (Air’s is sealed, and uses rare 1.8” drives.)
Upgradeable RAM, up to 4 GB. (Air is permanently sealed at 2 GB.)
Much faster CPU. (2.4 GHz vs. Air’s 1.6 GHz, same core.)
Two USB ports. (Air has one.)
Battery-life indicator LEDs. (Turn your Mac laptop over and hit that little round button on the battery. Those. Did you know they were there?)
Hard-wire Gigabit Ethernet port. (The Air’s optional USB Ethernet dongle is slower than wireless and nearly useless for big file transfers. And it takes up the only USB port.)
Battery life. The specifics are unknown, but Apple’s (admittedly unrealistic) estimates are 5 hours for the MacBook and 4.5 hours for the Air. Those numbers probably aren’t absolutely correct, but as long as Apple’s applying the same metric to both, the MacBook is likely to have slightly longer battery life.
(Keep in mind that almost all of these advantages also hold for the $1299 MacBook except that it has a lower CPU speed and smaller hard drive capacity — but both still significantly beat the Air. The $1299 MacBook’s keyboard also isn’t backlit. But it’s $500 cheaper than the Air.)
Advantages: MacBook Air
Weight. (3.0 lbs vs. 4.5 lbs. for MacBook.)
Thickness. (0.16-0.76” wedge vs. constant 0.95” for MacBook.)
I think the Air just became a much harder sell. And this is coming from an Air owner. Were I purchasing a new Apple laptop today, I wouldn’t get an Air with this excellent new MacBook available.
Furthermore, while the Air’s limitations prevent me from recommending it to anyone as their only or even primary computer, I can solidly recommend the MacBook to be both for most people.
I’m torn between the $1999 and $2500 MacBook Pros. Here are the big factors for me:
Advantages of the $2500 MacBook Pro
Has extra GPU ram, which is useless to me because I’m not a gamer. BUT, Snow Leopard will take advantage of this extra processing power for normal tasks as well. Is it worth it?
6MB of cache. Will I notice it?
I’m opting for the 250gb 7200 rpm drive either way, so the extra capacity the more expensive MBP offers is moot.
Video RAM is mostly used for texture memory in games. This matters if you like playing high-end 3D games with the options cranked up, but for anything Snow Leopard is doing with the GPU, it’s unlikely that the difference between 256 and 512 will ever be noticeable.
The 6 MB of L2 cache is significant (up from 3 MB in the $1999 model), but the clock-speed difference isn’t (2.4 vs. 2.53 GHz), especially since the FSB is the same (1066 MHz). Bigger caches increase performance noticeably in some CPU-intensive tasks, especially number-crunching and typical server roles. But there are diminishing returns, and 3 MB is already pretty good.
My vote’s for the $1999 model. Save that $500 for current and future component upgrades that you’ll actually notice every day: max out the RAM (4 GB, +$150) and always buy the fastest hard drive you can afford. And don’t forget to get AppleCare sometime within the first year of ownership.
I predict that what will happen to the iPhone and iPod Touch market is what already happens in the general software market which is that developers have to promote their own apps themselves with a proper website. This obviously goes against Apple’s assertion that the App Store does all the work so developers don’t have to but unfortunately the reality of the store doesn’t seem to be living up to hype.
The new aluminum 13” MacBook is an amazing machine.
Build quality is incredible — you won’t believe how solid it feels.
The brightness and colors on the screens are excellent.
The glossy screen isn’t too glossy — it’s not significantly better or worse in this regard than the old MacBook’s. I never noticed its glossiness once I started using it. That said, they probably consider that when designing the lighting in the Apple Store.
The new button-less trackpad is a little strange at first, but I got used to it after about a minute.
They’re impressively thin and lightweight. Holding an Air in one hand and a 13” aluminum MacBook in the other, the Air is certainly lighter (by 33%), but I really don’t think the Air has enough of a size and weight difference to justify its disadvantages.
Like the Air, the new MacBook’s beveled bottom edge makes it much easier to pick up from a table one-handed than the old MacBooks.
The flagship glass-cube Fifth Avenue Apple Store didn’t have any new 15” MacBook Pros out on display yesterday, but I’m sure much of the same applies to them. I’m especially curious to hold one and evaluate its weight and build quality.
Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
I’m amused that the government has, actually, managed to significantly lower gas prices. All it needed to do was deregulate the financial industry for a few decades, leading to a sudden and severe recession. Done! $2.99 gas again.
Take a picture and it automatically sends it to a stranger, and you get one in return. There is a lot of crap pictures, but the good ones make it worth it. I was swapping with people in Japan last night!
A lot of Air owners (David included, and maybe myself) are selling them to buy new MacBooks or MacBook Pros. Like this.
They run new for $1800. Apple’s selling refurbs of the first-generation 1.6 GHz Air for $1350. I think a fair price for a used one is $1100-1300, depending on condition and any included accessories/AppleCare.
If you’ve always wanted a MacBook Air, this is the time to look for one.
The Fairgrade group is seeking to lower the Fairfax school system’s cutoff for an A from 94 points to 90 on a 100-point scale, arguing that the higher bar hurts competitiveness in college admissions and scholarships.
Parents are nuts.
Every teacher and administrator is already aware of the growing problem of “grade inflation”. Average GPAs have significantly increased over the last decade or two. This could be that students are doing better than the used to do in school. Or it could mean that the same level of achievement earns better grades now than it used to. I’m betting that the latter is the more likely explanation.
I saw this very clearly when I was in school. Grades don’t reflect your aptitude, intelligence, or understanding of the subject matter. You don’t need to actually learn much useful material to get good grades. (And many of those who learn exceptionally well don’t get good grades.)
Good grades are usually the result of doing (or copying) all of the bullshit homework assignments, “note-taking” by copying all of the bold words and definitions out of the textbook, writing formulaic essays that barely fulfill page-length minimums by fluffing them up with meaningless padding, and memorizing the formulas for 36 hours to get you through the test, during which the teacher often leaves the room so you can cheat from your friends. Most people did this and got excellent 3.5+ GPAs so they could go to decent colleges, get decent grades there by doing the same things, and go on to awful big-company insurance jobs or glamorous careers selling clothes at the mall.
That’s not the route I took. I only ever copied a handful of assignments (and only to barely pass senior-year Latin class — thanks, Deena!). Usually, I just didn’t do my homework because I knew it was bullshit. I never took notes, even when we were required to. I wrote concisely and never even approached the page-length minimums. I bombed any test that was based on memorization (but aced the ones based on understanding), and I never cheated on a test, even when literally everyone else in the classroom was. As a result, I had a “bad” 3.0 GPA in high school, then I moved on to college and did far worse (homework counted a lot more and I never learned how to truly study), and I barely graduated (6 months late) with a GPA that I don’t even know but that’s probably in the low-2 range. I’m useful in the real world and have a great job doing what I love.
Most people from my generation can’t really do anything else in the real world except bullshit jobs because nobody ever held them to very high standards. They don’t know how to recognize their flaws and improve themselves because everyone always told them that they were doing great and they could do anything just by wanting to. They never ask good questions, nor do they know how or why they should, because they’re taught to shut up and accept whatever the teachers and textbooks tell them. They can’t write because they were taught that every essay needed to be written in Bing-Bang-Bongo format, and nobody ever significantly penalized them for incorrect grammar or spelling. They never really needed to understand the material, only memorize this chapter in the textbook until the test. And even if they did poorly on tests, they could easily pull an A or B in the class just by doing all of the bullshit homework (regardless of how well it was done).
I had to truly understand the material because I needed to accomplish the opposite: I’d get near-zero homework grades because I’d never do it, so I needed (and usually got) near-100% test grades to make up the difference. I’d barely pull through and get a C most of the time. I knew the material inside and out. And I still know far more of it than most of my classmate sheep who got excellent grades by doing everything “right”. (I also owe a lot to exposing myself to the thorough, constant, effective criticism of the internet, which constantly forces me to improve myself, and for which I am eternally grateful.)
You can understand why I don’t trust the validity of grades.
I wonder if the Tumblr guys are using a framework or if it is all home brew.
Both: it’s a homebrew framework to add MVC structure and a useful secondary function library to PHP 5 that we started in 2006 and have constantly evolved into a very finely tuned framework for our needs. The same framework runs some of Davidville’s former consulting-client sites as well as all of my personal sites and projects. It’s not available publicly anywhere, but we may release it in the future.
Recently a Manhattan production company hired me to come up with some character concepts for an upcoming animated instructional video on Infant CPR. They wanted the characters to be both cute and also clearly illustrating the right way to help a choking baby.
The results are creepy and strangely symbolic of something…I’m not sure what.
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’ To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
Time for another one. I was headed to Vegas for one day, so I thought that’d make for a good day of video.
Yesterday, in video (actually, two days ago, I just didn’t have time to edit it until now due to travel). Shot throughout the day, put together and uploaded today. You should do the same. And when you do, put it in the My Day, Yesterday group. Don’t add any music or anything, only what’s recorded via the camera.
Shot with the D90, with the 28mm 2.8 prime.
Amazing work once again. I loved the depiction of the flight. And like his first “My Day, Yesterday” video, it makes me impatient for the release of the 5D Mark II.
Negotiators hope to finalize a merger agreement between General Motors (GM) and Chrysler before the presidential election and are lobbying for government financial assistance to help clinch the deal, says a source who has been briefed on the talks.
Wait, GM and Chrysler are trying to merge? I missed that. That’s huge. Now they’ll be one huge mediocre car company making low-quality cars with awful design sense that no sensible consumers will purchase.
It’s like what the merged Microsoft-Yahoo result would have been. Except Microhoo! would have been able to stay afloat in constant mediocrity without begging the government for money.
Excellent, in-depth review of the new 15” MacBook Pro. Some reactions:
The battery life is disappointing, giving about 2.5-3 hours of useful work.
The gaming performance is very impressive on the 9600M. (Check out Bare Feats to see how it compares to high-end desktop GPUs in the iMac and Mac Pro.)
The 9400M is much worse in 3D performance, but still very impressive relative to other low-power integrated graphics chips. This bodes well for low-settings gaming on the 13” MacBook, although I have yet to see a good benchmark of it.
Like every aluminum Apple laptop, it gets very hot under load.
This did not include benchmark scores with a 7200 RPM hard drive or the 128 GB SSD (which I don’t believe has been benchmarked anywhere yet — please let me know if I missed one).
I would have liked to see more consideration of the 13” vs. the 15” in the review. Now that the 13” is more expensive and there are fewer differences from the 15”, a lot of people are going to have a hard time deciding which size to get. Hopefully Ars will consider writing an in-depth article contrasting the two and why people should buy each one.
Overall, the 15” certainly looks like a great machine for people who want something in the typical 15” size and weight range. Ultimately, though, I wish it weren’t so big and heavy, and I’m disappointed by the battery life. My 15” PowerBook G4 in 2004 was approximately the same weight and footprint with about the same battery life. The newly reduced thickness is nice, but the footprint has increased. The whole machine still feels like a boat.
I’d love to see Apple sacrifice some clock speed and video performance in favor of a bigger battery, or reduce much of the need for a 15” laptop at all by increasing the resolution of the 13” screens to 1440x900 (and pushing the 15” up to 1680x1050).
Because of the mediocre size and battery life, this isn’t the ultimate laptop. But it’s still a very nice choice, especially if it will be your primary or only computer and you won’t be carrying it around every day.
Apple has surpassed its goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, selling 6.9 million last quarter.
iPhones outsold BlackBerries last quarter.
Steve Jobs called “netbooks” (those $300-500 tiny subnotebooks such as the ASUS Eee PC) a “nascent category” that isn’t selling many units, and indicated that Apple has no interest in competing directly at this time, although he believes that the iPhone competes somewhat. He said that Apple has “some interesting ideas” if the category becomes worthwhile to enter. But later in the call: “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that.”
Steve Jobs on the Apple TV: “I think the whole category is still a hobby right now, I don’t think anyone has succeeded at it… I continue to believe that it will be a hobby in 2009.”
This is the first time I’ve actually listened to the call. It’s interesting. And the after-hours stock is up 11%.
McCain’s talking smack out my state, and I love it. Silly silly McCain.
McCain: “I think you may have noticed that Senator Obama’s supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about western Pennsylvania lately… [crowd boos] And you know, I couldn’t agree with them more. [pause] I couldn’t disagree, with you, I couldn’t agree with you more than the fact that western Pennsylvania is the most patriotic, most God-loving, most, most patriotic part of America and this is a great part of the country! My friends, I could not ag-, I could not disagree with those critics more, this is a great part of America, this is the heartland of America, this is where people love their country, and they serve it!”
The goal of Web 2.0 was to get users first, then figure out how to make money off of them. Well, at least that’s what you tell your investors. In reality, the goal is more like “get users, and hope to get acquired and become somebody else’s problem”. For Silicon Valley, this really is self-destructive behavior, with Yahoo being the enabling friend who brings us clean needles from his job as an orderly. Sure, he’s not intervening like a true friend would, trying to get us into rehab, but he feels like he’s helping because we’re still disease-free.”
Marco, if you’re out there, could you give me your thoughts on netbooks? Specifically, of using one as a main computer for nothing much more than internet, music, and office - student needs.
I don’t think a netbook (such as the $350-$500 Asus Eee PC) is appropriate to be anyone’s primary or only computer unless you’re very price-sensitive and truly can’t afford a bargain-basement 13”-15” PC laptop. (In which case a cheap desktop, or no computer at all, may be more sensible.)
First, there’s the OS discussion. There’s no OS X option. Windows does work, but on such low-end hardware, it performs horribly (and costs extra). And it’s Windows. You’re generally stuck with Linux, and desktop Linux is horrible. Having to choose Windows XP for usability and compatibility in 2008 is pretty sad.
Then there are the hardware limitations:
The screens are very tiny and low-resolution. The best Eee’s screen is 10” at 1024x600. That would have been great in 1998, but in 2008, browsing the web and getting anything done is going to be challenging.
The keyboards are uncomfortably tiny. I can’t even imagine having to type long emails or documents on them.
No optical drives.
Not a lot of RAM.
Very little storage capacity.
Very few expansion or upgrade options.
The hardware limitations and desktop-Linux are tolerable when it’s a secondary computer to bring on the bus or occasional trips if you have a desktop at home. But as your primary or only computer, the shortcomings will get to you very quickly.
I can’t even recommend the MacBook Air to be your primary or only computer, and it’s miles ahead of every “netbook” (albeit far more expensive) in its performance and capabilities.
I’d love to hear feedback if anyone reads this who uses a netbook as their primary or only computer.
Even though I have fast desktops at home and work, I use a laptop almost every day on the train to browse the web, develop for the iPhone, and program web apps. I currently use a first-generation base-model MacBook Air, and I love its extremely light weight. But I’m really pushing the limits of its hardware, and I could really use a bigger screen.
Option 1: Keep the MacBook Air
Pros: Cheaper (since I already own it), lighter weight (3.0 lbs.)
Cons: Small screen, very slow, very limited
Option 2: 13” MacBook
Pros: Not much heavier (4.5 lbs.), fast, not very limited
Cons: Small screen
Option 3: 15” MacBook Pro
Pros: Biggest screen, fastest, least limited
Cons: Heaviest (5.5 lbs.)
The problem is that the cons are fairly severe, for the most part. Each con is something that I’m likely to regret almost every day.
I wish Stack Overflow would just let me use a username and password instead of requiring OpenID.
The Flickr OpenID support doesn’t actually work, so I used the Yahoo mode, and it was a bit crazy. I’m not sure if I’ll ever figure out how to log into the same account again. (Now, in addition to my credentials, I have to remember that I used Yahoo for this.)
After I had eventually registered, I figured I’d upload a profile photo. Oh wait, I can’t just upload an image file. I need to sign up for Gravatar! (At that point, I just abandoned the idea of having a profile photo.)
I started using the site by asking a question. Then I went around to other questions to see if I could contribute somehow. But everything I could answer had already been sufficiently answered. I tried at least up-voting the good answers, figuring that could contribute some value, but I’m not allowed to do that — I don’t have enough reputation points yet, and without being able to answer anything with any new information, I don’t see how I’ll possibly gain enough anytime soon. (You need 2 people to up-vote one of your questions or answers to be able to vote.)
Since I can’t really participate, and I have nothing else to ask right now, I left.
What’s my incentive to go back unless I have something else to ask?
Even TechCrunch had better things to do. Arrington sent two of his lackies to cover the launch, with one story announcing the launch of the store, and another story reviewing the “top ten apps”. Since there were only forty apps available at the time, picking ten wasn’t all that hard. The number three pick was Pac-Man, a game that has existed for 28 years.
This, incidentally, is the single feature that made me disconnect my work PC forever in late 2004, slide my PowerBook over, and start using it full time. I never used Windows for anything other than occasional gaming after that.
Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.
Here’s a new McCain ad. Now, Biden was a bit off script when he stated that somebody would do something to test the new American President. It’s not the most clever thing to say when you’re running for President—but it’s also a reasonable assumption that if America looks like it has a chance of resuming a leadership role in the world, somebody will want to test the new leader.
But now McCain is running this ad, which seems to suggest that if you vote for his opponent, terrorists will attack us.
It’s even more of a stretch than that. Biden’s statement doesn’t say that “someone” will test Obama. Transcript:
Mark my words, it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama. The world is looking. We’re going to have an international crisis to test the mettle of this guy. I guarantee you it’s gonna happen.
I’m not familiar with the context, but that may not even be a reference to terrorism. “An international crisis” could be lots of things, including economic problems, trade disputes, nuclear disarmament noncompliance, natural disasters in poor countries needing relief, humanitarian issues, civil wars, oil spills, international plane crashes (not caused by terrorism), or the next Elian Gonzales PR phenomenon. I think it’s reasonable to assume that at least one of those happens every six months.
McCain’s ad is all but stating directly that if we elect Obama, we’ll be attacked by terrorists, and if we elect McCain, we won’t be.
This is beyond despicable.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they previously respected McCain, but now they’ve lost that respect because he has “become” this way during the election or “sank to this level”.
But I don’t think that’s the case. People don’t become uncivilized, mudslinging, racist liars overnight. Such massive character flaws in adults tend to be ingrained fairly permanently.
I think it’s far more likely, given much of what we’ve learned during this campaign, that McCain has always been a smug, self-entitled, impulsive asshole with a bad temper. We’re just seeing far more of him now than we ever have before, so these qualities are more apparent to more people.
I mentioned the Apple Airport Extreme in the first paragraph. I appreciate the recommendations, but user reviews (and my own personal experience in an office full of them) seem to indicate a pretty average failure rate compared to every $40 router out there.
I know about the Linksys WRT54GL, the version of the popular WRT54G capable of being flashed with third-party firmwares such as DD-WRT. I had one of these a while ago, and while it did have plenty of great additional features, it didn’t help the unreliable hardware at all — it overheated and crashed just as frequently as the stock firmware.
I got a lot more strong recommendations for the Apple Airport Extreme from many tech experts, including Ars Technica’s David Chartier. It was tempting, but there are just too many people reporting the same crash/require-reset problems that plague the $40 routers. If it were anywhere near that price, I might be willing to take the risk — but not for $180, a price approaching the far-more-reliable options.
After considering everyone’s (excellent) feedback on this and weighing a few decent options, I’ve decided to go with this embedded system with pfSense. (I learned that m0n0wall doesn’t support UPnP.) I may regret the complexity of the initial configuration process — I’m hoping that it comes with reasonable defaults and I won’t actually ever need to connect a null-modem cable — but after the basic setup, it looks like everything’s available in the (very nice looking) web GUI. This probably isn’t an option that non-geeks should ever consider, unfortunately. (But I really doubt that any non-geeks are still reading by this point.)
In a week or two, once I’ve had time to set it up and use it for a while, I’ll update again with my experiences so far.
Anyone want this free laser printer? If you’re able to pick it up in Larchmont, Westchester, New York (10538) sometime in the next few days, it’s yours. Otherwise, it’s going to Craigslist.
HP Laserjet 4000N
Built-in network card
19” deep, 15.5” wide, 13.5” high (if you’re tight on space, please measure first — it’s big)
The exterior is dusty and scuffed, and there’s blue-marker writing on the right side labeling its hostname from whoever had it last.
I got it for free from Craigslist last year, and I have no idea where it came from before that. (“We just moved in and the previous owners left it here.”) I put a new toner cartridge in it that should still have a few thousand pages of capacity left. Everything else seems fine, except if you try to print a very graphics-heavy page to it (e.g. a Photoshop full-page 600dpi image), in which case it tends to reject the print job. It could probably use more memory. But it’s great for printing text documents and web pages. I’m only getting rid of it because I just got a new huge color laser printer and I don’t have room for both.
If you pick it up, you may also take your pick from any or all of these other wonderful items for free:
A DVD player that was really top-of-the-line when I bought it in 2001
SEO is using deodorant instead of washing. SEO is masking bad coffee with sugar. SEO is cramming instead of studying. SEO is using pain killers instead of going to the dentist. SEO is taking weight loss pills instead of exercising. SEO is a comb-over. SEO is Scientology. SEO is Paris Hilton. SEO is the Zune. SEO is the morning-after pill. SEO is astroturf. SEO is not the real thing. SEO is cutting corners. SEO is not the solution. SEO is bullshit.
I also felt that many of the ads being served up were a bit too Cro-Magnon relative to the ideas I’ve been blogging about. It seemed rather lame to write an article on Oneness and then see ads for money-making schemes next to it. Even worse was when fast food ads popped up next to an article about the raw food diet. I quickly banned the objectionable ads of course, but lately I found myself feeling increasingly disconnected from most of the ads that were being displayed. I don’t want to generate income in a manner that makes me feel disconnected.
Rob benchmarked it with an SSD, but it’s a third-party one — not the one that Apple supplies as the BTO option. (It’s also much cheaper, at about $400.) Different SSD models vary significantly in performance, so this really isn’t a strong indicator of how Apple’s might perform. This is also why the old benchmarks of the original MacBook Air SSD aren’t relevant to the new one.
Nobody has even published which SSD model Apple is using. As far as I can tell, nobody has actually purchased one.
But from this benchmark, it looks like SSDs are still too young to be worth their price — especially since the Hitachi 7K320 (“normal” hard drive) is such a good performer. In many benchmarks, the 7K320 performs 50-75% as well as a decent 3.5” 7200 RPM desktop drive. For a laptop drive, that’s very impressive.
The laptop SSDs that have been benchmarked so far have all shown severe imbalances: excellent random small-read performance, but awful write and large-read performance. Some users also report slowdowns and brief freezes when multitasking with many simultaneous disk requests. It sounds like their firmware needs to mature — it took hard drive manufacturers decades to get this stuff right.
Once the big hard drive manufacturers have major, mature SSD offerings, they’ll be a much more attractive option.
And fortunately, the hard drive is very easy to replace in the new MacBook Pro (and every MacBook, including the old white one). So when SSDs are faster and cheaper in 18 months, get one. Until then, the dirt-cheap, 320 GB, 7200 RPM offerings are fine. Not desktop performance, but then neither are SSDs, apparently.
I have no idea how many users I lost due to the several weeks of downtime, but I don’t think it was very many. There seems to be a corollary to the Twitter Effect that I’d call the Forgiveness Effect. It dictates that if a user enjoys a free service and that service is currently up, all past atrocities will be easily and quickly forgiven.
Tumblr’s lead developer Marco Arment is also something of an entrepreneur on the side. His most useful creation is Instapaper, a simple bookmarking service hooked to an iPhone App which comes in free and pro versions.
It leaves me a bit glum that we, as an industry, have pushed on this for so long and are still hurting users daily with complexity and failure.
I’ve also been very disappointed with sync, although not enough to give up the incredible performance and capacity of my home and work Mac Pros. Until I can get an affordable 250-500 GB SSD in a laptop (probably at least 3 years from now), I’ll never be satisfied with laptop performance enough to use it as my primary computer.
But good sync makes most laptop limitations less relevant. If someone could offer reliable 2-way sync for some key applications (iTunes and iPhoto would be huge), especially if they incorporated basic versioning and backups, they could make a lot of money.
Imagine a statute which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew he or she was speeding. Imagine that the fines are not publicized, and most drivers do not know they exist. Imagine that enforcement of the fines is put in the hands of a private, self-interested police force, that has no political accountability, that can pursue any defendant it chooses at its own whim, that can accept or reject payoffs in exchange for not prosecuting the tickets, and that pockets for itself all payoffs and fines. Imagine that a significant percentage of these fines were never contested, regardless of whether they had merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in front of an objective judicial body.
Microsoft has confirmed that the new taskbar is a mandatory feature, there will be no “legacy taskbar” setting available for users. We talked to them about this and other UI changes during PDC.
While I think the Windows 7 UI looks like a trainwreck so far, I have to commend Microsoft for finally having some balls. Giving users fewer needless options is generally a good thing — it reduces confusion and prevents users from customizing badly and making their own experience worse. (Remember that crazy person’s PC with the tiny script font on every menu and button with the Hot Dog Stand color scheme? That’s why OS X hardly has any “theme” options.)
The only flaw with this principle, of course, is that it assumes that the stock configuration is generally well designed. This, of course, is rarely true with Microsoft products.
(If you’re planning on voting for McCain on Tuesday, you should probably skip this post. Please don’t email me about it. I know this post will offend many people. I don’t care. You’re free to offend me on your blog.)
This is inspiring but also kind of terrifying, because it reminds me of what this election stands to prove about America.<br/><br/> For almost two years now, Barack Obama has run a near-perfect campaign. His people haven’t misplayed a single card; they’ve spun negatives into positives, trumped the Clinton political machine, overcome a complete lack of name recognition, outmaneuvered and out-managed the opposition at every single turn. It’s been genius.<br/><br/> In contrast, John McCain has run an inept campaign based on gimmick after gimmick, has a universally reviled VP pick, suspended his campaign, seems old and lifeless on the campaign trail; it has been miserably and objectively bad no matter who he was running against.<br/><br/> Obama and Biden have drawn crowds larger than any seen before. Raised more money than any other ticket in history by faaaar. Won 4 out of 4 debates decisively.<br/><br/> Basically, we are seeing the best campaign possibly ever against one of the worst ever. The McCain campaign has less talent, less organization, less volunteers, less money, less issues to run on, less everything.<br/><br/> Yet they are somehow still within striking distance in the polls. And with everything above taken into account, if we somehow lose this election based on obvious character assassination and dusty old socialism accusations, I have to for the first time in my life agree with conservatives. This IS Bush country. This is a conservative, Republican country that does not trust Democrats or liberals. We will never be handed this good a candidate, this well-loved and well-funded a candidate, let alone against this horrible and inept an opponent EVER again. If Obama loses this election in 16 days, I really see no reason to believe any of us will ever see a Democrat elected president again in our lifetimes unless the Democrats shift over a couple decades to as far-right as the GOP is now and the Republicans shift right to fascism.
This greatly worries me. It’s what I felt after the 2004 election, too: severe disappointment in the people of our country, and the helpless feeling of being the lone sane person in a country of idiots.
Most statistically sound poll aggregators project that Obama has a near-certain chance of winning. But there are still so many unknown and unmeasurable variables that could swing the election on Tuesday: newly registered voters, people without land-line phones, voter suppression, racism, and just plain fraud.
And since 2000, I’ve had absolutely zero faith that I’m actually in a democracy. My side is playing fairly, running a very positive campaign, and doing everything right. People on my side are often here because they made an informed decision based on research of the candidates’ positions on issues that matter. Nobody on my side would ever want someone’s vote not to count, even if it was against us. We want to win by democracy, not fraud. If the people don’t choose our side, we’ll lose gracefully — we’d all be demoralized for a long time and Michael Moore would make a few more inflammatory political movies.
The other side is consistently lying, cheating, stealing, and committing what should be severe federal crimes, except nobody’s ever prosecuted. They put up a mediocre candidate and have run a terrible campaign full of negativity, fear, and mudslinging. Their fans are often there because of religious fanaticism, the lack of research, low education levels, anti-intellectualism, aggression, bigotry, racism, and hate. They’ll do anything to win, including significant voter suppression. They believe their candidate deserves to win at any cost, and the thought of losing, even through a proper vote, will drive many of them (including campaign and party members) to throw our democracy’s integrity out the window and commit any level of fraud necessary to shoehorn themselves into victory — they’ve completely merged political extremism and religious fanaticism. If they truly do lose by so much that they can’t steal the election again, they’re likely to become violent, even threatening our new President’s life.
We play right, they play dirty, and nobody’s enforcing the rules. How can we possibly win?
The only way is for us to win by so much that our victory can’t be stolen. We can’t win by just one swing state or 1% of the vote. We need to absolutely kick their asses. We need 340 electoral votes and +5% of the popular vote.
This is not a time for apathy. Care. Get everyone you know to vote on Tuesday. Lambaste anyone who tries to give you an excuse about why they couldn’t. This is not optional. Not this time. We need a huge win, and we can’t get it without every smart, sane, caring, rational person going to vote. We must win this, fair and square — and if we do, we cannot allow anyone to steal it from us.
The thing is, I’m not saying being married is easy, or that it’s 100% fun. But it mostly is! I feel like I got hoodwinked as a single guy because I heard marriage described so often as some cross between a prison, being grounded as a misbehaving teen, and being castrated. I don’t doubt that lots of people make mistakes in who they marry, and I am not trying to be a pollyanna about the very real fact that a successful marriage takes a lot of dedicated effort, or that some people just can’t make it work even with their best efforts. But most marriages work, even if the people who don’t get it quite right end up being a lot louder about it. And even then usually take another run at it, or a couple of runs at it, until they get it right.
While there are several modifications to the OpenID standard, one of them is crucial. In Google’s scheme endusers use their gmail address instead of a URL to identify themselves to accepting sites. I believe that this is a crucial step towards widespread consumer adoption. Many sites already use email addresses as the primary username, so this is something that will be very easy for consumers to get used to. Conversely, trying to change behavior and get folks to paste a URL into a username field has been the primary obstacle to consumer adoption of OpenID to date.
I agree — this will make OpenID much more palatable. As it stands now, there’s zero practical reason for anyone to use it on either end.
MTV’s new video hosting site is apparently bleeping out the names of file sharing sites in Weird Al Yankovic’s famous 2006 song “Don’t Download This Song.” The opening verse to the song goes as follows:
Once in a while maybe you will feel the urge<br/>
To break international copyright law<br/>
By downloading MP3s from file-sharing sites<br/>
Like Morpheus or Grokster or Limewire or KaZaA
Yet, in that new MTV version, the last line is “Like BLEEP or BLEEP or BLEEP or BLEEP” rather than naming the four file sharing programs.
Now this is what I was waiting for! The Intel X25-M is much faster and better than every other SSD on the market within reach of consumers’ price range, and it destroys hard drives’ performance in every metric. (Note that this is not the SSD that Apple optionally ships with any of their laptops.)
At its current price of $600 for 80 GB, it’s just not worth it for most people yet. But this is promising:
Wait. It took a year for SSDs to go from pretty slow and cost $2000 for 64GB to very fast and ~$600 for 80GB. In early 2009 Intel will have the next versions of the X25-M available and while still based on slower MLC NAND, will utilize a 34nm fabrication process as opposed to the current 50nm process. They will come in flavors exceeding 160GB.
Now that will be the dream setup. I’d gladly buy a 160 GB version for $600, and if they can lower the price to the $400 range, it’ll be massively popular.
That means that if you’re connected to the internet through Sprint, you can’t access sites and services hosted by Cogent, and vice versa. It’s Cogent’s fault, as usual, for leeching off of Sprint for too long with a lopsided deal. It will probably be resolved in a few hours or days.
This has happened before: Cogent’s disconnection from Level3 in 2005 was much more severe.
Cogent is terrible, cheap bandwidth, and you should never host anything meaningful on it. It’s so bad that reputable hosts often advertise that they don’t use Cogent bandwidth.
Why Twitter would host their search via Cogent is a mystery to me. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they just haven’t gotten to moving it yet since the Summize acquisition, but I’m sure they intended to. Right?