I find Mac OS X to be the least frustrating of the currently available options, but the buck certainly doesn’t stop there. We have miles and miles to go in terms of making computing better. I want my socks blown off, and I don’t care whether it’s Apple, Microsoft, Google, or the open source movement that does it, as long as someone does.
Vimeo usually makes good policy decisions. But their complete prohibition of anything that can remotely be considered for commercial purposes, even with a paid Plus account, doesn’t strike me as particularly necessary. I really don’t see why this is the right move.
I need to find somewhere else to host the Instapaper demo video. (We should move the Tumblr v5 intro video, too. I hope we’re allowed to keep the Vimeo API integration…)
Where should I go? Well, YouTube has HD now… I just hate to go without all of the niceties that Vimeo offers, especially their excellent player interface and transcoding quality, because Instapaper Pro costs money and Tumblr is incorporated.
Should I just install the JW player and host the video directly in the most mediocre way possible, or is there somewhere else that’s good at hosting commercially-natured embeddable product-demo videos with a tastefully designed player?
Yes, he stole $65 billion from some already quite wealthy people. I know that’s upsetting to them because rich guys like Bernie are not supposed to be stealing from their own kind. Crime, thievery, looting — that’s what happens on the other side of town. The rules of the money game on Park Avenue and Wall Street are comprised of things like charging the public 29% credit card interest, tricking people into taking out a second mortgage they can’t afford, and concocting a student loan system that has graduates in hock for the next 20 years. Now that’s smart business! And it’s legal. That’s where Bernie went wrong — his scheming, his trickery was an outrage both because it was illegal and because he preyed on his side of the tracks. Had Mr. Madoff just followed the example of his fellow top one-percenters, there were many ways he could have legally multiplied his wealth many times over. Here’s how it’s done. First, threaten your workers that you’ll move their jobs offshore if they don’t agree to reduce their pay and benefits. Then move those jobs offshore. Then place that income on the shores of the Cayman Islands and pay no taxes. Don’t put the money back into your company. Put it into your pocket and the pockets of your shareholders. There! Done! Legal!
John writes that an “iPhone Lite”-type device is likely to exist within the next year or so, based on the chronology and segmentation of the iPod into the iPod Mini and other sublines.
A new, lower-priced, smaller, and more adorable iPhone, with more or less the same technical specs as the original iPhone. Given that those specs include the 320 × 480 display, I wouldn’t expect something tiny, but remember that the original iPod Mini was “just” 35 percent smaller by volume than the then-current full-sized iPod. Shrink the iPhone’s forehead and chin and make it thinner — maybe a lot thinner — is what I’m thinking.
This makes sense, but to a great extent, they’ve already done it with the iPod Touch. It’s a lot thinner and lighter than the iPhone. And I don’t actually like its in-hand feel as much as the iPhone 3G’s. It’s less relevant for a device whose primary purpose is playing music from your pocket, but the goals for a phone aren’t necessarily to be as tiny as possible. That’s not to say that I don’t think Apple will do it — indeed, I think they will split the iPhone line into two distinct products similar to what John describes, possibly as early as this year’s WWDC.
But I don’t believe that the iPhone 3G’s size is the upper bound. I think they’ll make a slim iPhone, most likely by shrinking the 3G’s components (or lower-power, more integrated equivalents) into a smaller case, maybe without speakers, very similar to the iPod Touch, and make that the new mainstream iPhone with a subsidized price of $99 or $149. Like the iPod Mini, this will satisfy most people’s needs, and to them, it’ll be a nice iPhone-entry-price cut.
Then Apple will unveil something like an iPhone Pro that will be similar to the iPhone 3G but with a few exclusive hardware improvements, most likely including an autofocus-video camera and a bigger battery. CPU and RAM upgrades are possible, and would be wonderful, but they aren’t highly necessary or likely. This will probably sell subsidized for $199-299, and will be the same size as the iPhone 3G or slightly larger. I’d be perfectly happy with a 20% increase in size and weight if the difference went primarily to a bigger battery and an autofocus camera lens.
Then they can still have the cool slick thin phone, yet keep providing some of the larger and more power-hungry features to power users who could finally stop complaining about the battery life.
Phoenix has set up photo-radar speed cameras all over their highways. This has not gone over well with Phoenix residents, but the politicians love them: they’re a giant money-maker for the state.
Here’s how it works. If you’re going 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit when you pass a camera, you see two bright flashes as it takes two photos: one of you in the driver’s seat and one of your license plate. Then they mail you a ticket for about $200 that most people can’t reasonably contest. It costs the authorities almost nothing to issue a ticket, and they get a lot of money in exchange.
Like ticket quotas, it’s a wide-open invitation for corruption. Rather than promoting healthy enforcement of traffic laws, it encourages local governments to trick people into getting more citations.
As a visitor spending a weekend in Phoenix with a rental car, I hardly ever knew the speed limit on the highways. It seems to fluctuate frequently between 55 and 65 MPH. Since the cameras trigger at 10-over, which itself is an unreasonably low threshold for an automatic ticket, this is the only city I’ve ever heard of that frequently issues tickets for driving 65 MPH in a 55 MPH zone.
And I’ve never driven anywhere that had fewer speed-limit signs posted on the highways. I noticed that on my first drive before I even knew about the cameras. It’s almost entrapment.
Whether it’s intentional or not, what’s their encouragement to add more speed-limit signs? They probably make a lot of money from people driving 65-68 MPH who think they’re being perfectly safe and legal but are unknowingly in a limit-55 zone.
The incentives here are all wrong. I can see why the residents have major problems with this.
Alone in a room in his home in Bonn, Germany, Friedhelm Hillebrand sat at his typewriter, tapping out random sentences and questions on a sheet of paper.
As he went along, Hillebrand counted the number of letters, numbers, punctuation marks and spaces on the page. Each blurb ran on for a line or two and nearly always clocked in under 160 characters.
That became Hillebrand’s magic number — and set the standard for one of today’s most popular forms of digital communication: text messaging.
“This is perfectly sufficient,” he recalled thinking during that epiphany of 1985, when he was 45 years old. “Perfectly sufficient.”
While that’s a cute story that makes for a good article, it sounds like the real reason for the 160-character limit was more because the data channel’s packets had 128 bytes available for this sort of use and they restricted the character set (to a subset of 7-bit ASCII, I believe):
“We were looking to a cheap implementation,” Hillebrand said on the phone from Bonn. “Most of the time, nothing happens on this control link. So, it was free capacity on the system.”
Initially, Hillebrand’s team could fit only 128 characters into that space, but that didn’t seem like nearly enough. With a little tweaking and a decision to cut down the set of possible letters, numbers and symbols that the system could represent, they squeezed out room for another 32 characters.
That sounds a lot like the first half of the story was mostly irrelevant and likely embellished.
For a city with almost no natural water, they’re sure obsessed with it and seem to be in denial, proudly naming their airport “Sky Harbor”. They take this very seriously — the residents even call it Sky Harbor in casual conversation rather than “the airport”.
“I’ll program Chorus or Tumblr or Instapaper.com or Instapaper-iPhone or Instapaper-Kindle, or I’ll write some good blog posts!”
“I’ll catch up on all of those flagged-for-reply emails!”
Nope. I hardly did anything. I think it was a combination of factors:
I could never get comfortable. There are no ergonomic desks or chairs in planes, hotels, or other people’s houses.
There was never a large block of time during which I could accomplish anything significant — it was divided into chunks of less than 2 hours.
I strongly prefer my home computer with its massive monitor, keyboard, and mouse for any serious work, especially programming. The MacBook Air’s 1280x800 screen doesn’t cut it, and I’m uncomfortable working on a non-“Natural” keyboard for long periods.
I never even took my laptop out on the plane rides. I played iPhone games, slept, and was infuriated by screaming infants. (Seriously, I’d gladly pay $50 extra for a flight with a minimum passenger age requirement of, say, three years old. Or maybe two. At what age can you be reasonably assured that most kids won’t scream and cry constantly for three hours? This one was young enough to be carried — and seated, I think — in one of those little chair things with a handle, which I assume means that the parents still probably express the kid’s age in months.)
Now it’s 2 AM, my body thinks it’s 11 PM, I can’t sleep, and I’m recovering from a day of bad airport food (except for our breakfast of natural, organic, extremely locally grown stolen fruit) and a long weekend of busy days with strange hours. There’s absolutely no chance I’m getting anything done until tomorrow.
Next time I travel, I’ll be a bit more honest with myself about my work expectations: I won’t get anything done, and I should just let go of productivity delusions and enjoy the trip.
After my Genius encounter last week, I got a very nice email from a former Apple retail employee (who requested anonymity) describing a “firmware reset” procedure that, in all likelihood, is what the Genius actually did to fix the problem I was having, in which the phone wouldn’t boot and attempts to Restore from iTunes failed with error code 2005.
This is also called putting your iPhone in DFU mode, or Device Firmware Update mode.
How to do a firmware reset Note: If this screws up your phone, it’s not my fault. This is unsupported and you may have to go to the Apple Store anyway. Perform this procedure at your own risk.
Connect the iPhone to your computer and have iTunes open.
Press and hold both the sleep/wake and the Home button until the screen goes black.
Release the sleep/wake button but continue holding the Home button for about 20 seconds.
After about 20 seconds, you should see your iPhone pop up in iTunes in recovery mode, asking for a restore. Your iPhone LCD should remain black. This is firmware reset mode.
Restore it from iTunes normally.
“From my experience, it does take a couple of tries to get it into ‘firmware reset’ mode. I stress when the iPhone initially pops up in iTunes, the phone will still have a black screen. Only after you start the restore will the iPhone display anything in the LCD.”
And another note about the declining quality and standards for the “Geniuses”:
As a former (Mac) Genius (worked 2007-09) […] I can attest that most Geniuses including myself did not know jack about computers and the quality has gone way down. They key factor is cost. Geniuses were paid $50-65k back in the day […]. Now an average Genius gets paid about $30-35k. Yes there are certifications, and all geniuses are certified Apple technicians. However, the certifications have been Fisher Priced very much down. For example, to certify today, a Genius is not expected to be able to use or even open Terminal and run commands. […] Remember a Genius is a retail employee, and believe me from first-hand experience, I was treated like one.
It’s not a huge surprise that Apple’s retail stores have gone through the same shift as every other retail chain: first hiring knowledgeable staff and correspondingly providing great service, then slowly cutting costs (matching common practices by other retailers) by reducing salaries and hiring standards until the salespeople are much lower-skilled and provide mediocre service at best. It’s just sad that even Apple succumbed to it.
Anyway, thanks to this anonymous ex-Genius, I’ll probably save myself (and hopefully many others who find this post) a few trips to the Apple Store.
This most likely means that the epitome of vaporware, Duke Nukem Forever, will probably never be released, to the great surprise of absolutely nobody.
After such a crushing blow to vaporware fans everywhere, we can only comfort ourselves by waiting patiently for holographic storage, fuel-cell laptops, and rollable displays, all of which are still only 18-24 months away.
Vista, the latest version of the software giant’s Windows operating system, looks like it could turn out to be one of the great missteps in tech history.
But this is the wrong way to interpret Microsoft’s marketshare and mindshare losses to Apple since Windows XP’s release in 2001.
Vista, itself, wasn’t a misstep. Microsoft must keep updating Windows regularly to remain competitive and preserve revenue. It had problems and delays, but the concept was solid and is still defensible even in hindsight.
Microsoft was the only company on the list that never made a fatal, stupid mistake. Whether this was by dint of superior brainpower or just dumb luck, the biggest mistake Microsoft made was the dancing paperclip. And how bad was that, really? We ridiculed them, shut it off, and went back to using Word, Excel, Outlook, and Internet Explorer every minute of every day. But for every other software company that once had market leadership and saw it go down the drain, you can point to one or two giant blunders that steered the boat into an iceberg.
I think it’s safe to say that Microsoft is hurting now. They’re probably not going out of business in our lifetimes, and they’ll likely continue to dominate many markets for at least another decade or two. But a major shift has occurred between 2001 and today that’s causing some big problems for Microsoft:
Apple’s converting a lot of former Windows users. There’s still a long way to go, but Apple’s growth (into Microsoft’s market) shows no signs of slowing down.
Microsoft’s Windows and Office upgrade revenues have been disappointing.
For the first time in most of Microsoft’s history, they’re repeatedly failing to dominate desirable secondary markets, including portable media players, mobile phones, and web search (actually, every desirable web market). Microsoft’s entry into a market previously meant imminent death of any other players, but now it’s usually a source of comedy for the tech press.
Many of their core products, including Windows, Windows Server, Office, and Internet Explorer, have been attacked by either strong competition or creeping irrelevance.
Microsoft’s brand perception among consumers has been heavily damaged. Many more people now associate them with bugs, delays, shoddy products, and failure.
As far as I can tell, none of these are Vista’s fault, specifically. Vista is just a logical continuation of Microsoft’s style and culture. Die-hard Windows fans like it.
The bigger problem is that Microsoft isn’t very good, and I mean that in a big way. I was too young to appreciate their word-processor and spreadsheet battles of the very early 90s, but that’s what Joel typically cites as an example of Microsoft’s excellent strategy and their production of high-quality software. They may have been great back then, but that’s not the Microsoft we know today.
Today’s Microsoft is impulsive and sloppy. It has become massive and complex with too many layers of management, committees, and bureaucracy to produce anything great — the best they can hope for is good, and even that’s rare. Their products are weakly anticipated and receive mediocre reviews. Most importantly, they’re unable to grow their positions in the technology industry’s biggest new markets as their old markets slowly erode. Top leadership seems to have no strategy or direction for the company, and there’s no sign of any problems being meaningfully solved in the foreseeable future.
After Internet Explorer 6’s release in 2001, when Microsoft had crushed all competing browsers, they rested on their laurels for too long. Now, Firefox and Safari are eating their lunch. Microsoft finally scrambled to release IE 7 and 8, but they delivered too little, too late — Internet Explorer’s marketshare will probably dip below 50% within three years. (I’ll bet Jeff Atwood a beer on that.)
This pattern didn’t just happen in web browsers: it applies to the entire company over a longer interval. After effectively destroying most of the competition by the mid-90s, Microsoft got lazy. But then the internet exploded, and Microsoft wasn’t part of it. Soon afterward, Apple got their act together. Linux became a popular server platform. Google dominated web search, advertising, and applications. Microsoft’s being assaulted on nearly every front by companies that are producing much better products, and they can’t catch up.
None of this is Vista’s fault.
Vista has no major failures. Rather, it’s an immense collection of tiny failures: awkward interfaces, hostile behavior, ugly design, and tons of small bugs. They’re the same of tiny failures that plague all of Microsoft’s modern products, which is why I have absolutely no doubt that Windows 7 will suffer the same fate.
Microsoft’s woes aren’t specific failures of strategy or execution: the company culture, structure, inertia, and ethos are so deeply flawed that it can’t recover. Microsoft can never do what Apple and Google are doing today. It’s too broken. Insert your Titanic metaphor of choice.
One of the most important things that made Microsoft successful was Bill Gates’ devotion to hiring the best people. If you hire all A people, he said, they’ll also hire A people. But if you hire B people, they’ll hire the C people and then it’s all over.
Bill Gates is a very smart guy — he’s fully aware of the problems that his company now exhibits. Maybe he semi-retired (or whatever he did) because he saw that it’s all over long before we will.
The corollary to this “A People” theory is one my boss envisioned: The Corporate Concentric Asshole Theory. In it, the guy at the very top of the company, through his hirings, eventually hires an asshole. … That asshole, knowing that he’s an asshole, but not wanting to appear as such, hires a bigger asshole. That asshole, probably unaware of his assholishness, hires an even bigger asshole, most likely because he likes the cut of his jib, or “reminds him of when he was younger”. And so it goes.
Eventually, the A guy cashes in and retires, and the company is left with nothing but assholes who haven’t a clue about anything but getting their asshole cleaned.
There are four-foot-long stingrays down by the Rockaways and off Coney Island, and they’re hard to see when they’re flat against the bottom. A diver will be going about his business when he encounters a section of mud the size of a coffee table that suddenly—zooomp!—up and swims away.
One of the many tiny reasons why I keep using Firefox, despite Safari being much more Mac-like and much nicer in a few key ways, is the impeccable state-saving and Undo Close Tab (⇧⌘T).
I disliked the “Awesome Bar” at first, but now I’ve become addicted to its URL substring matching for autocomplete: for example, to go to the Tumblr Dashboard, I just type “dash” (autocompletes to http://www.tumblr.com/dashboard based on the substring match), down, Enter. In Safari, I’d have to type “tumblr.com/d” at minimum, and I’ve never quite been able to reliably use Safari’s autocomplete without frequent accidents.
Other reasons include XML pretty-printing (which even IE6 did, yet Safari still doesn’t) and other friendly web developer tools that, despite the recent improvements, Safari still doesn’t fully match in a few key ways that are important to me.
And it drives me crazy, because Firefox really isn’t particularly amazing. It has tons of bugs, interface quirks, and shortcomings. They’re just not bad enough for me to go without the features I use that Safari doesn’t have.
For newcomers, I suggest starting with An Eight Song Tribute To Feeling Bad & Feeling Better. (Just go for it. You’ve probably risked more than that album’s price on a sandwich that wasn’t nearly as good as this.)
I did not plan my lens ahead of time, so I had to use the fastest one I had with me: the macro. This was decent, but not ideal, since apparently music is played in cool-people places, and light is not a common feature of cool places. I really should have brought the 85.
Nearly every photo was shot at ISO 6400 and I could still barely maintain a fast enough shutter (usually 1/40-1/60). I had to wait for the slower songs in which Allison didn’t move as quickly.
Noise Ninja is awesome and made these photos presentable.
I enjoy sharing technical details because I’m still relatively new to most of this, and I wish others would share more technical knowledge. A lot of people can tell you about better composition and other artistic merits, but very few tell you that your photos are too red or that you should use the lowest ISO sensitivity that you can get away with or that the Thrifty Fifty has a terrible focus motor or that many lenses aren’t very sharp at their widest apertures even if you nail the focus.
As previous rumors have suggested, the camera is said to be updated with higher resolution and autofocus, a digital compass is added, and the flash capacity will be doubled to 16GB or 32GB. The CPU supposedly will see a speed bump to about 600MHz and the RAM will be doubled to 256MB, resulting in performance that has “really improved.” The 3.5” touchscreen and battery will “regrettably” be the same.
I’d buy this and be very happy with the upgrade. An autofocus camera is my #1 wish, and additional RAM would tremendously improve interface responsiveness (as most applications would rarely need to release and regenerate their various screens’ views as they now frequently do, and SQLite-backed apps could increase their cache sizes).
I’ve never heard any complaints about the screen, but while keeping the same battery capacity would be slightly disappointing, it’s not a dealbreaker — especially since they’re likely to have improved the internals in ways that could reduce power consumption.
Keep in mind that the changes from the original iPhone to the 3G were really very minor to most people:
Slight size and shape tweaks, but mostly the same.
Real GPS, but most people were OK with AGPS.
3G, but this reduced battery life and didn’t add much speed in practice — most data slowness is caused by latency and radio congestion, not bandwidth limits.
Flush headphone port, but most people use the Apple earbuds.
The real advance with the 3G was the lower introductory price. If they’re keeping the pricing the same this year, and bumping the hardware slightly to address a few (relatively minor) shortcomings, I’m perfectly happy with that.
Christopher distinguished himself by consistently working at roughly half his capacity, which fortunately for us is more than enough considering the output of the vast majority of our other employees. His ability to provide adequate, mostly functional web applications at the last possible minute, leaving no time for feedback or changes, was a hallmark of his working style. Christopher is highly intelligent and has good analytical and communication skills, which he frequently utilizes to avoid work, and/or limit the amount of work he has to do. These talents combined resulted in a long, largely uneventful, somewhat productive 15 year run at [company].
Sounds like all of the personality traits of the best programmers. All good programmers are lazy, avoiding tedious and boring work at all costs. That’s what makes them good: that’s a valuable skill in programming, in which you’ll benefit highly from automating repetitive tasks and avoiding large amounts of work that seem necessary at first but probably aren’t. (“I don’t like the way someone else wrote this perfectly working class, but I have to add a feature to it… let’s rewrite it from scratch using my favorite new buzzwords!”)
Unless you’re trying to move as cheaply as possible (counting for moving cost by volume of boxes and crap), and by saving time through carrying stuff and up and down stairs, if necessary. Otherwise, good advice.
True. But I moved myself last time (Pittsburgh to Larchmont), and afterward, I told myself I’d never do it again. (It ended up being a huge pain in the ass for me and the friends and family who helped, and it didn’t end up saving much money.)
This time, I have actual movers, and they’re working on a flat rate based on an in-apartment quote they did, so it’s the same price and moving effort for us regardless of how many boxes we pack.
Getting rid of unwanted stuff is always a good idea at any other time… except when you have a ton of other stuff to worry about, like when you’re about to move.
Cablevision.com: “Yes, we serve 11215!” Cablevision: “No, we don’t serve 11215.”
While some people in it are really geeks, most aren’t, and the inclusion of some is baffling. Being a popular user of a “new media” site, or being a “new media” celebrity, doesn’t make you a geek. There’s absolutely no connection whatsoever. This video tarnishes true geek culture with new-media celebrities because — surprise — it was made by new-media people, many of whom try to be cool by saying that they’re geeks (which, in addition to being far from the truth, is guaranteed to insult and frustrate actual geeks).
Being a good user of computers and internet-based services stopped being a geek-exclusive behavior a very long time ago. Geek culture isn’t something that a Twitter celebrity suddenly enters because Twitter was written by programmers and runs on servers.
I could rant about this for much longer, but anyone who can tolerate my tumblelog for more than a few sentences is much more likely to be a geek than half of the people in this video, so I’m preaching to the choir.
What that they don’t understand, maybe, is that being a real geek is a very bad thing for a lot of people. Geeks generally had a pretty rough time in school, socially, and rarely have much romantic success during the first portion (if not the entirety) of their lives. Many have crippling social or psychological problems that severely limit their ability to interact with others or work on any sort of team.
Sure, some geeks eventually make something of themselves with knowledge and passions, but many can never overcome their social problems enough to succeed in any field. Many, while they may like geeky things with associated careers (e.g. programming, math, science), aren’t actually very good at them. Many geeky people just don’t have any strong interests in the job-relevant areas — and the job market’s pretty small for experienced LARPers, fanfiction authors, and Trekkers. And many others are socially treated like geeks but don’t have the associated knowledge or passions — they just had some other social problem that caused them a lot of trouble in school, such as disorders, disfigurements, unattractiveness, or poverty.
For a clear non-geek to start saying they’re a geek for commerical benefit or trend appeal, it cheapens and minimizes the problems and pains that real geeks go through. It’s disrespectful at best.
Imagine the outrage if hip white people started wearing blackface and calling themselves the N-word because it was trendy. This isn’t anywhere near the same magnitude of offensiveness, of course. But it hits on the same sort of nerves: the “you don’t understand what we’ve gone through” sentiment, as if all of the trials and tribulations of a group of people with a rough past can be summarized by a few stereotypes and appropriated for its commercial or social value by people who never went through any of the same difficulties.
This sentiment is exacerbated by the continued problems and oppression of true geeks. Geeks haven’t gone away, and they haven’t become cool. People haven’t stopped being cruel to them, and they haven’t magically overcome their problems. Most of the people in that video would never give an actual geek the time of day.
A bunch of people incorrectly suggesting that they’ve suffered the same fate as a continually repressed group — repressed, sometimes, by the kind of people in this video — is offensive at best, and it degrades the reality of being a geek, the worst of which these people (with a small number of exceptions) will never experience or understand.
I appreciate Apple’s recent reasonable RAM pricing, but this is a bit ridiculous for hard drives.
For reference, these are the best drives on the market right now in these sizes, and since there aren’t a lot of 640 GB drives and Apple frequently uses Western Digitals, these are likely the exact same drives they’re selling:
I’m a guy who doesn’t see anything good having come from the Internet. Period. [the Internet has] created this notion that anyone can have whatever they want at any given time. It’s as if the stores on Madison Avenue were open 24 hours a day. They feel entitled. They say, ‘Give it to me now,’ and if you don’t give it to them for free, they’ll steal it.
He’s implying a false dichotomy: either internet distribution of films cannot be possible, or everyone will download everything illegally without paying.
Obviously, this doesn’t reflect reality. The third option is for the major publishers to address the demand for internet distribution and PC-compatible formats by building online content stores and establishing distribution relationships.
The music industry had a rough start with the internet, but now it’s returning to solid footing: the legal, profitable ways to sell music to consumers on the internet (iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc.) are more attractive than piracy for most people.
But the movie and television industries are lagging far behind.
It isn’t that difficult to be more attractive than piracy. Pirating movies and TV shows is unreliable and time-consuming. You have to find what you want on a BitTorrent tracker or a filesharing network, then you have to download it (which is usually much slower than downloading from the legal stores), then you might need to un-RAR it from 45 parts, then it has a badly formatted, often unreadable filename, then you finally get to watch it (if you don’t hit codec or container-format problems), then the quality is mediocre or the audio is slightly out of sync or it was badly deinterlaced or it’s anamorphic or it has TV-network overlays and promos and weather alerts splattered all over it or the audio is overdubbed in Russian with burned-in Spanish subtitles.
Yet, the movie and TV publishers are stuck where the music industry was sitting four years ago. Consumer demand for internet distribution is very high, and many computers and portable devices are capable of playing internet-delivered video content and common file formats. There are very few legal download options, and the few that exist are burdened with such restrictive DRM that the product is inflexible, limited, consumer-hostile, and unattractive to most pirates.
The video publishers only need to follow the music industry’s lead in taming internet piracy: make a better product.
They’re almost there. iTunes movies and TV shows are quick and convenient to find and buy, especially for Apple TV owners. Xbox 360 owners get the Live video store, which is similarly convenient. Pricing is slightly high, but not fatal. Download speeds absolutely fly, usually maxing out your internet connection. Video quality is acceptable at the standard level and very good at the “HD” level, and there are hardly ever any quality, sync, or metadata problems with the files. TV shows are better than watching on TV because there are no commercials, and movies are better than watching on DVD because there are no FBI warnings or legal disclaimers or forced previews or bad menus or animation delays or P-UOPs.
The next step is very simple: Drop the DRM. All of it, except where necessary for the definition of the product (the only good example I can think of here is a rental, which needs to be able to expire).
The music industry finally dropped their DRM, and look: nothing bad happened. Quite the opposite, actually: they’re achieving record-high sales. Music piracy didn’t skyrocket, because DRM wasn’t stopping pirates.
The record industry finally killed mainstream music piracy by offering a better product. It’s the movie and television industries’ turn. And any delay or failure along the way is entirely their fault — not the internet’s, not the pirates’, and not ours.
Oh, that was just on a weekday morning when nobody else is using it.
This is what happens when I try a few big downloads during peak evening hours. This is Time Warner’s premium, second-tier 15 Mbps plan in Park Slope. I guess I can call them and have them downgrade my plan to the base 10 Mbps option if I can’t even reliably approach that.
Naturally, there’s no competition, except Verizon DSL — except their highest speed is 1.5M/384k. FiOS is, as usual, not available here. Are there any other options that I’m missing?
Responses to answers: (thanks so far!) Cablevision, RCN, and Speakeasy DSL are all not available here. The graph was generated with my pfSense router. I can’t find a WiMAX provider in the area (11215) — know of any?
I’m not a big fan of WiFi for stuff in a home or business that’s important and tends to stay in one place. By my standards, if an Ethernet wire can practically go to something, it should, even if the device is capable of connecting via WiFi. There are only a few exceptions, such as couch-laptop use. But Apple TVs, Xboxes, printers, desktop computers, and desk-bound laptops should be wired. This results in a much more reliable, secure, simple, and fast network than WiFi no matter how many antennae you attach or how far the letter after “802.11” progresses in the alphabet.
WiFi performs very poorly in our new apartment, barely sustaining file transfers without stalling, and only managing about 2-10 Mbps even in the best conditions. The Apple TV can’t stream HD shows in real time, and the 360’s instant-Netflix will be nearly useless.
But we have a bit of a layout problem for wired Ethernet. For the first time ever, our TV-area devices are very far away from our computers — too far, and across too many doorways, windows, and fancy walls, to reasonably run a wire.
But I’m going to do it anyway.
See this wire? That’s a coaxial cable that connects the same two areas of the apartment. Its insane run spans 18 wall segments, 3 windows, and 3 doors — and the doors and windows are 8 feet high with big antique crown molding that I shouldn’t touch. The wire has been painted to match the walls and meticulously stapled down along the run to be as inconspicuous as possible. The entire run is about 125 feet.
And I’m going to run mine right alongside it.
I ordered a white, 150-foot Cat6 cable from my favorite network-cable vendor, Kalron, and picked up a bunch of those little white clamp-staples from a hardware store. I’m hoping the landlord will be able to help me match the paint color so I can paint the wire to match the walls, just like the coax. (I’m also hoping they don’t hate this idea.)
Screw WiFi. I’m getting my fast, reliable Gigabit network back.
Starting this July, the first iPhone developers from last year will start having their iPhone Developer Program memberships expire. A developer cannot submit updates after the membership has expired, but presumably the app would be removed from the App Store as well. (I’m not sure if anyone actually knows whether that’s the case.)
This is actually a good mechanism: it’s an automatic removal of abandoned apps. It will probably help remove a lot of the gold-rush crapware, but a few legitimately good apps might disappear as well if the developer either forgot to renew the membership or no longer felt that it was worthwhile. Users of removed apps can continue using them, but they can never gain any new users, effectively forcing the apps’ death.
I wonder how many apps will disappear before September.
I couldn’t quite come up with the words to express my feeling on this yet. I like John’s.
The App Store is so infuriating, developer-hostile, overly complex, and needlessly obtuse that it’s an embarrassment to Apple and all of the developers caught up in its ecosystem.
We’re making them a ton of money. Remember how Ethan Nichols has made over $800,000 (probably a lot more by now) from iShoot? For every $1,000,000 earned by developers, Apple earns $428,571. And that’s not even counting the ripple effects of selling more iPhone OS devices.
It’s time for them to start treating us like the business associates that we are.
I’ve made a dramatic shift in my diet over the last few weeks: eating almost no meat. (update: thoughts on fish.)
There are plenty of good reasons not to eat meat, including:
The treatment of the animals is awful. The more you know about industrialized meat production, the less you want to support it. (And it’s not just for cows. Chickens and turkeys aren’t much better, and pigs are probably the worst.)
High-volume meat production creates a large environmental burden, usually as a result of having to feed the animals so much and figure out what to do with their waste.
Meat is more calorie-dense than many alternative foods, and red meat in particular is unhealthy to eat frequently. Non-meat-heavy diets can generally be much healthier.
Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food makes a great argument for low-meat diets. (You should really read it regardless of your thoughts on meat. Do you eat? Then it’s relevant to you.)
Wait, so are you a vegetarian now?
I’m not big on all-or-nothing obsessiveness. I’m not a recovering hamburger addict who will sink back into meat abuse if I ever have another taste again. All things in moderation.
The problem isn’t eating animals. It’s a lot of people eating a lot of animals. If demand was reduced to 25% or less of its current level, we’d see massive environmental and health improvements. Humane animal treatment is trickier, since you’re still killing and eating them, but it could be improved if less meat was needed and it could command a higher price. For instance, actual free-range (not the bullshit kind) and grass-fed animals would become more practical.
A few weeks ago, I decided to significantly reduce my meat consumption. To start, I went all-vegetarian for one week to force myself to broaden my horizons a bit (especially for office lunches) and try new non-meat options. It worked, and was much easier than I expected.
Now, I’ve lowered my overall meat consumption to approximately these levels that I intend to maintain:
Chicken or turkey: 1-2 meals per week.
Beef: 0-1 meal per month.
Pork: Almost never. Occasionally as a minor ingredient in something else.
With such a severe reduction, I’ll achieve most of the benefits of vegetarianism, but without many of the inconveniences. It’s still ridiculously easy to get good meals at restaurants or while traveling. I don’t even like tofu or giant mushrooms, and it’s still much easier than I expected to avoid meat most of the time and still eat healthy, satisfying, widely available meals.
If a lot of people made this change, we could make a big difference on many important fronts.
Do the vegetarian week, then see how little meat you really need to eat. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy and practical it is.
There’s a minor snag in the submission process: Since my last submission was for a version called “1.4”, Apple won’t let me submit something else called “2.0” — my only option in the iTunes Connect interface is to resubmit a new binary that, if approved, would be published as 1.4.
I filled out their support form, hoping that someone there can manually edit that or delete the 1.4 submission altogether. I don’t have high hopes, though: I’ve never received a response from Apple Developer Support on anything. Ever. I’ve made them a decent amount of money in commissions, plus paid them $200 in membership fees, and they repeatedly ignore my (very few, very reasonable) requests for anything.
Please, Apple: Prove me wrong this time. Actually be helpful. Given how much money developers are making you, and how we’re all contributing to the strength of the iPhone platform (and giving you great lock-in against new competitors), it’s the least you can do.
What does it say about your developer program when I need to be this pessimistic and beg you for a response, given my terrible experiences in the past?
It’s easy to attack California for upholding Proposition 8 today. But how’s your state helping on that front? Unless you live in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, or Maine, your state’s just as guilty of keeping up this ridiculous bigotry.
But opponents said they will continue to fight against the bill in the Senate. Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, is organizing a rally of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization outside Paterson’s Manhattan offices on Sunday to oppose same-sex marriage.
Other opponents said they think the national movement toward same-sex marriage won’t last, including in New York.
“I think the tide is about to turn on same-sex marriage across the country,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, legislative director for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. “We are going to see that the redefinition of the family is stopped in its tracks.”
Let me be clear, for anyone who’s still in denial about this: Being gay is fine and gay marriage will soon be legal in most of the country. Maybe not within the next few years, but almost certainly within a decade.
Ask your grandparents what they thought and said about black people when they were teenagers. Or what their parents thought and said about women. Pay attention to how sad, offensive, and culturally backwards these things sound now. (Most still-living members of these generations now regret the bigotry common in their younger times and see how terrible it was.)
This will be the cultural acceptance movement of our generation. Having been on the wrong side of this won’t look very good in retrospect.
It’s decent. As the first iTunes review says, “Not groundbreaking but not without promise.” Some of their newer songs from the recent live shows, like Backwards Down The Number Line, are revealing some new directions and the likely style for their next album, and I like where they’re going.
(Forgive the mediocre audio quality — I compressed the 13-minute song to fit into 10 MB, so it’s only 103 kbps ABR.)
Apple came through! Thanks, whoever had any part in making this happen.
So tonight I resubmitted the real 2.0, as 2.0, for real. I’ll modify my approval estimate to the morning of next Friday, June 5.
Every time I use 2.0 on my iPhone, I’m immensely happy with it. I originally made Instapaper to solve my own need, and it was a happy coincidence that I wasn’t the only one with that need. Now, with 2.0, I’ve taken this to the next level: it’s now an even better product, and it’s exactly where I want it to be right now. I’ve made a product that I love, and I hope you will, too. I’m sorry if this sounds arrogant, but that’s not my intent: I’m just very happy with this product, and immensely proud that I’ve finally finished it.
(Of course, I have more planned for the future, but this is a huge step forward — the biggest step in Instapaper’s history since offline reading.)
After the initial sheer terror, I’ve come to be slightly amused by the differences from its official menu photo and the apparent absence of its nutritional information from Dominos’ site.
I find this noteworthy because, unlike most featured foods on This Is Why You’re Fat, this is a heavily promoted entree by a major U.S. food chain available nearly everywhere that average people would assume to be reasonable to order.