g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
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10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
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 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
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 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
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 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, January 20, 2002
01:25 - Ahh, bless you, Cartoon Network.

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"Moltar! Wiggle the darn antenna!"

An ad for Kung Pow, with the trailer appearing in the drop-down TV frame as an interviewee on Space Ghost. Then SG starts badly lip-syncing "I.. think Kung Pow! ... is the bestmovie... in History!"

Zorak, in full Chinese dress and wig, stares vacantly.

"Prepare... to fight me... with strength!" continues SG, and he flies off, with an "Adult Swim" badge floating in the corner.

See, this is what makes Cartoon Network different from Nickelodeon. Nick cancels Invader Zim because it isn't making the kiddies scream-torture their parents into buying enough merchandise to justify its continued existence. But Cartoon Network makes up these little interstitial gems, purely because it makes them laugh. Someone gathered together the stock animation frames, cobbled together a 30-second spot in Photoshop, and a bunch of program directors meeting over pizza late at night giggled themselves silly. Then they put it on the air, because they knew I would giggle myself silly. I and a whole bunch of people like me.

Then they return to "The Popeye Show", hosted by a languid guy making snide but loving comments about the animation foibles and corny gags in the shorts lined up. Beginning and ending clips that look surreal out of context, like the "Moment of Zen" from each MST3K episode. It's like it's a show put on by a guy with a bunch of tapes and some drunk friends. This is what cartoons are all about. This is what TV should be all about. And good grief, we actually have it.

20:26 - Has Nick the BRAINWORMS?
http://aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=11274

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So it's official: Nickelodeon is "scaling back" production of Invader Zim, citing "low ratings".

Well duh, you bunch of bean-counting morons. Zim is not a KIDS' SHOW. Nickelodeon is for KIDS. Why in the hell was Zim on Nick in the first place anyway?

It's exactly the kind of show that Cartoon Network is building itself upon lately, especially in light of Adult Swim. I think that if Zim vanishes entirely from Nick, Cartoon Network is very highly likely to snap it up, especially considering the HUGE cult fan following the show has already garnered, and the petitions and e-mail floodings that the respondents are compiling. They can't ignore such a thing. Especially considering some of the edgy things they do air, things that undoubtedly have nowhere near the same ratings or appeal.

No, I don't think Zim is dead. But I do think this means that after a little bit of waiting, we won't have to endure SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly Oddparents, and programming that starts shows five minutes EARLY for no bloody good reason, just to get our weekly fix of Zim and GIR. It'll be on a network with a brain, a network that's just entering its Golden Age.

Begone, foul Nick.

18:37 - Can They Possibly Resist?

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The Apple Stores continue to open and bring in revenue that more than justifies the investment. One has to imagine that there will eventually be at least one in every major metropolitan area.

What I wonder, though, is if they open one in Baltimore, will they be able to resist an ad campaign that says "Apple Store! ...Baltimore!"

18:09 - Hey, Robin Williams-- You Seen Robin Williams Lately?

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I'm really wondering about Robin Williams lately. There's almost nothing left of the rampaging manic comic that we all loved so much throughout the 70s and 80s. The movie scenes where he would suddenly go off into one of his trademark ad-lib sessions, like the radio studio scene in Good Morning Vietnam, and the entirety of Aladdin... they're almost all gone now. And in their place is sentimental pap.

We should have seen the warning signs in Mrs. Doubtfire. Aside from the impressions scene toward the beginning where he uses up his ad-lib-scene card trying to impress a job counselor ("Nancy and I are still looking for the other half of my head"), and a later one where he impersonates the various freaky nannies over the phone, the humor only had the occasional foray into the old Williams style. We should have seen it coming...


Because the next thing that put Williams on the map was Patch Adams, a movie whose promotional poster was described by CNN's Paul Tatara as "like being punched in the gut with a fistful of dollars". Only the most occasional of Williams-brand stand-up scenes, and most of it was simply a movie that dared the audience not to like it. A movie about a kindly doctor who dispenses services for free to take care of sick children while wearing a red clown nose... it's like pressing the big "AAAWWWWW" button on the switchboard. Sentimental pap, like I said.


And it wasn't long after that that we got Bicentennial Man, with almost the same promotional poster, an even more humorless premise, and not even a hint of Williams throughout. Not the way we knew him, certainly. It's the puppy-dog-eyes Williams now, the play-it-safe Williams, the I-dare-you-to-pan-this-movie Williams. Sure, Bicentennial Man is pretty good, but it's so sickly-sweet and sentimental (in a way that A.I., of all things, was not) as to sap away any bite that the movie might have had. And the humor had no Williams in it. Just the occasional feeble one-liner surrounded by doe-eyed, staid confusion.

I guess everyone ends up getting typecast eventually. I just wish Williams had become typecast as an edgy comedian, rather than as a sugar-coated placebo of an actor.

15:18 - New Nasal-Spray Aphrodisiac
http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/01/20/wviag20.xml&s

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Okay, read this article. So much for Viagra, eh? And if it's really so instantly and harmlessly effective, so much for the Southeast Asian market for tiger penises and rhino horns as aphrodisiacs. Right?

This is probably the single closest thing to the Holy Grail of convenience pharmaceuticals in human history. Every culture has built up an entire set of traditions and practices around the central pillar of attracting a mate and performing well once that mate is attracted. Most of these practices are superstitious at best, and many of them are outright detrimental either to the users or to the victims of the poaching that supports it. And if this new drug is cheap and effective enough, it will sweep across the planet and wipe out a fundamental chunk of what most cultures in the world stand upon, overnight.

No, this isn't hyperbole. I think this might be one of the biggest bits of scientific advancement that humanity will have ever had to deal with.

Hey, most people aren't affected one way or the other whether the earth or the sun is the center of the Universe. But almost every person on Earth will be interested in an instant-sex drug.

But that's not even all. It's a nasal spray. It's instantly absorbed into the bloodstream and goes straight to the brain. How long do you suppose it will be before hot-to-trot penthouse dwellers mix it into an air freshener to circulate through their entry foyers for when their lady friends arrive? How long do you suppose it will be before rapists begin carrying tubes of it to spray randomly at people they attack? How long until bars and party halls spray it in a fine mist over the entire attending populace on a regular basis?

The ramifications are really pretty potentially huge. Think about it for a while.

14:10 - Today's Movies

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Now it's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World on TCM. I always wondered something about this movie: It's supposed to take place in Southern California, in the LA area. So why, why in the hell, does every single member of the 40-some-odd-person cast have that cheesy 40s Brooklyn accent?

"Yah doyty double-crossin' crook!"

It's also full of that ridiculous gee-whillikers crap that I can't imagine ever sounded plausible. Traffic cops who see a car go by at 90 mph, and respond by blowing their whistle! Really really hard and authoritatively! Like people who spot a burglar scuttling off into the night, and yell "Stop thief!" like he's going to suddenly be felled by a bolt of decency from the heavens and come slinking back with his hands in the air.

Were the 50s really like that? Hey, I have no way of knowing for sure. But this pop-culture ludicrosity has to have come from somewhere.

14:06 - In-N-Out is So Cool

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The people in charge of In-N-Out Burger know from experience that all they have to do, if they want to instantly capture the lunchtime share of hundreds and hundreds of people in a neighborhood on a given day, is to open a store. They don't have to market. They don't have to advertise. They open up a store, and instantly the counter line will be out the door and the drive-thru line will be ten cars deep. And it won't ever dissipate. McDonalds only wishes they could have such a mad cult following.

The new In-N-Out on Capitol Expressway takes into account all the lessons of the previous ones, though. The drive-through lane travels all the way around the property, can fit at least fifteen cars, and they have runners on foot out at the end of the line taking orders on a wireless pad and exchanging money at the front of the line. It's all optimized so that one doesn't spend any more time in line there than in the drive-through for Wendy's or Taco Bell.

Now if only they hadn't built it in a corner shopping plaza where the only exits open onto one-way divided streets-- so it takes two minutes to get there and fifteen to wind my way back through surface streets...
Saturday, January 19, 2002
01:59 - To Europe With Love, from USS Clueless
http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/01/fog0000000185.shtml

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USS Clueless has had just about enough of the European US-bashing and helpful advice that we've been hearing lately, and Captain den Beste gives them a piece of his mind.

The Twentieth Century is a tapestry of European failure and American success. If there's any arrogance here, it's the one held in the capitols of Europe where they still think of the US as some sort of rambunctious teenager who is strong but stupid and needs to be led by older and wiser heads. Experience proves otherwise. We've made our mistakes, but we haven't set off two world wars. That honor goes to our good friends inthe UK, Germany and France, who don't seem to understand why the US isn't eager to follow their advice.

The whole post is full of stuff like that-- it's a whirlwind historical tour of the past century from the perspective of someone who has seen international tensions decline steadily over the past few decades to the point where nobody really remembers what the world climate was following WWII, or what the Americans' purpose was in occupying Europe. He's seen the post-war hair-trigger watchfulness dissolve into petty self-satisfied sniping at American commercial success and cultural imperialism and fat loud tourists who don't learn the local language wherever they go. And this does not please him.

Give it a read. It's pretty good stuff.

21:46 - "Down With Terrorism!" "I Like Chocolate!"

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I still haven't decided yet what to think about all the people who have customized their cars with bumper stickers of American flags and related paraphernalia. One the one hand, sure-- you gotta feel like you're doing something. And yet... some of them just feel awfully silly.

I was at Fry's today, picking up a FireWire cable for the camera, when in the parking lot I walked past a truck that had, in a row, three different kinds of American flags, a "9/11: Never Again" sticker, and-- best of all-- a red circle-and-slash "NO" symbol. In the center? The word "TERRORISM".


Gee, I sure am glad to see that Fred Johnson with 2.4 kids has registered his disapproval of the events of September 11th. If he hadn't done that, I wouldn't have known what side of the issue he might support, and I'd have to watch my language and opinions lest I inadvertently offend him or rub him the wrong way. In fact, if he hadn't put that sticker on his truck, I may as well just go right ahead and assume it's loaded up with explosives and he's on his way down the 880 to blow up the Best Buy shouting "Allah akbar!"

Does there come a point where you should have to say "Yes, it's pretty bloody obvious that terrorism is not something we want to have happen"? Solidarity is one thing, but what is this-- one-upmanship? Is there community pressure to make sure you have the most stars and stripes on your car of all your neighbors-- a macabre sort of Christmas-lights contest? A race to see who in your parking lot at work hates Osama bin Laden the most?

Okay, okay-- if it helps you deal with your grief and your anger, that's fine. But I'd just like you to step back for a moment and ponder whether your car's bumper sticker display says anything useful, or whether it's just the post-9/11 equivalent of "NAPSTER BAD!"

17:55 - A Nice Lazy Saturday

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So today's movies were The Story of Us (which I remember seeing at college with Allison), Being John Malkovich, and Bedazzled. All of which make for a very pleasant way to spend a day where I'm not doing much of anything else besides standing in the driveway using a long hook on a pole to drag branches out of the tree where our tree surgeon friend is helping to denude it of its most extraneous branches.

That's the nice thing about having HBO, in any case. There are about twenty movie channels to surf through, and so there's almost guaranteed to be something I'd rather watch than the inevitable weekend-long Scooby Doo marathon that Cartoon Network puts on.

What the hell is it with Scooby Doo? I refuse to believe that life in America was ever so dismal, even in 1970, that we would watch an episode of Scooby Doo and emit a genuine, honest laugh. What were we thinking? How did these shows keep getting made? Who paid for them? Who advertised on them? I know the animation industry was in a terrible slump at the time, but geez-- even a low-budged cartoon can be funny. It can have the occasional deft or intelligent joke. It can't possibly be so consistently infantile and embarrassing. Can it? I guess so-- we have an existence proof.

But no, I really want to understand this. How can something as inane as Scooby Doo get made? Were people just that much more easily entertained in the 70s? Were we really that white-bread and unsophisticated and undemanding? Did we in fact think it had ground-breaking, engaging scripts? Were we all brainwashed by fluoridated water piping Soviet gruel into our veins so we would all sit in our drab cinder-block apartments and consume whatever spewed out of the TV? We've got it pretty damn good today by comparison to that, if you ask me. We have a lot more discerning tastes. And we've got shows that match our expectation level: Space Ghost, Invader Zim, the Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack... life is good, and I'm glad I'm alive now and not then.

Well, Bedazzled is over-- time to do the next channel-flip maneuver.

10:59 - Damn, that looks familiar...
http://www.applelust.com/alust/oped/Editorials/Archives/ed_pixelperfect.shtml

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Hey, they put my article up! Cool!

Now let's see how many people mail me to poke holes in my logic and technical understanding...
Friday, January 18, 2002
03:40 - Whew, what a night.

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Another Friday night, and what with new people in town for Further Confusion and lots of miscellaneous stuff to catch up on (yeah, mostly bizarre Flash movies and hot-tubbing). And now it's late, and I must sleep.

This will be the first weekend in about a month when I'll be able to just do blessed nothing. I may just be able to handle that.

20:41 - Hackers Can Turn Your Home Computer Into A BOMB!
http://whitedelirium.parodius.com/other_images/computer_bomb.jpg

(top)
Scanned directly from the Weekly World News.

Laugh, cry, and realize that millions and millions of people buy these fine periodicals every single day on their way out the checkout line... and they believe every last word they read there.

17:12 - Now Begins the Era of Exploding Phones!
http://www.abc.net.au/news/scitech/2002/01/item20020117223100_1.htm

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Haa haaah! Soon will come the vengeance of all who hate people who use cell phones in public!

Seriously, how long do you think it will be before someone comes up with a device that you can carry around in your pocket, point at any cell phone in the near vicinity, and trigger the Boom Button?

Naturally there'll be a fearsome tennis match between phone makers coming up with more hack-proof explosion triggers and better hack tools to get around them. But there will always be enough phones around and enough remote exploders that if anyone should have their phone go off in the middle of a crowded theater or in line for Taco Bell, it stands a good chance of going POW and taking the talker's ear off, bringing a rush of satisfaction and an inward smirk to someone else in the room.

And you know what? I may just be that smirking person.

13:42 - How's That for Forward Migration?
http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0201/18.migration.php

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Faced with a bewildering multiplicity of hardware profiles in all the students' laptops, a Cincinnati university decided to standardize on a single model of laptop: the 400MHz TiBook.

Result? Support costs are way down, networking problems are gone, classes can sit right down and get to work, and all the software is still covered just fine. And:

The most interesting find: when asked if they would trade their Mac in for a PC isgiven the chance, not one user would, he added. And this coming from a historically PC-centric industry, where most users' previous experience with computers in high school and around the home was with Wintel-based products.

Not one.

11:05 - Okay, so it wasn't just obvious, it was VERY BLOODY OBVIOUS...

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In the past two days, not one but two independent instances have been discovered of people doing CG-rendered spoofs of Pixar's "Luxo" logo animation, starring the new iMac.

http://www.mab3d.com/images/quicktimepop02.html

http://www.macboy.com/cgi-bin/forum/ikonboard.cgi/?act=SF;f=1


Damn, that didn't take long. And these are just the ones we know about so far...

11:00 - 1GHz PowerMacs next week?
http://www.macuser.co.uk/macsurfer/newnews/newsarticle.php3?id=1695

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Okay, so apparently Apple noticed the same thing the rest of the world noticed: that the iMacs now present a better package across the board than their top-end G4 towers. So it seems they're getting ready for a speed-bump to widen the gap a little.

A little, mind you. The new top-end machine is supposed to be a dual 1GHz. Whoah, big whoop. That'll sure shut 'em up.

I'm worried about what they think the G5 will buy. Sure, it'll debut at 1.2 through 1.6GHz speeds... but that's about as high as it will ever get. The G5 design is supposed to top out at 2GHz. If they expect this processor to have any legs, they'd... hmm. I don't know what they'd better do. I don't know what they can do.

Maybe they have a very short lifespan in mind for the G5; maybe the G6 and G7 specs we've been reading about are closer to reality than we'd thought.

I sure hope so, anyway. Because just watch, Intel will magically not need to EOL the x86 line after all, and will come out with a Pentium 5 with a 42-stage pipeline running at 6GHz and spec'ed up to 20GHz.

We need the Itanium very quickly so we can leapfrog it.
Thursday, January 17, 2002
02:05 - A Random iMac Thought...

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It just occurred to me that one of the things that made the original iMac so outrageous-- and drew so much ridicule from the Wintel crowd and even from the Mac faithful-- was that it had no floppy drive. It was the first computer that strode up and confidently said "Hey, I don't need a floppy. The floppy is dead and useless. I'm a Net citizen."

I remember spoofs like the "iCar" ad, showing the iMac's contemporary icon of cutesy industrial design-- the VW New Beetle-- in translucent Bondi Blue over white plastics, and touting its lack of a fuel tank as a "feature". And my classmates reacted in shock and horror when I expressed approval of the bizarre new machine. Wasn't I supposed to, like, be smart and stuff? How could I back such a monumentally stupid piece of equipment?

Well, time has told the tale of the iMac, and it's a success story. It certainly hasn't suffered from the lack of a floppy drive, even in the obscure ways that the Apple-community naysayers said it would. In fact, the rest of the Apple line has ditched floppies as well since then, and we haven't missed them a bit. Even the Wintel weenies can't deny now that after six million units sold, the iMac gamble has paid off big-time.

But what I'm wondering all of a sudden is this: Was the iMac's lack of a till-then-considered-fundamental feature in fact the secret of its success? Would it have had the same impact and acceptance if it did have a floppy?

I don't think it would have. And not because of the Jobsian gamble in favor of simplicity. I think it's purely because the lack of a floppy was such an outlandish idea that the idea itself was what sold the iMac. It's what got people talking. It's what got it into people's brains. It's what made it so different from the rest of the computer world. If it had had a floppy drive, people would have looked at it and said "Eh, okay, an all-in-one with a translucent shell. Big whoop." But because it was missing a feature that everybody had until then considered indispensable, it forced everyone suddenly to question the foundations of their understanding of computers. We had to re-examine our beliefs and our values. Whatever decision each of us eventually made, the iMac challenged our preconceptions and made us think about it, whether we wanted to or not. And that's what made it famous.

"Any publicity is good publicity," as they say.

So what about the new iMac? This is what I'm curious about. It isn't missing any big fundamental features like an optical drive or a mouse. Its big selling points are enhancements to existing features and a funky design-- the things the original iMac had without its lack of a floppy. Compared to the previous iMac, this one is more squarely in the realm of evoking a reaction of "Eh, okay, an all-in-one with a desk-lamp base and an LCD. Big whoop." It doesn't challenge us the same way.

Granted, its design is a bit more radical than the first iMac's was for its time. And yet fewer people hate it than hated the original. I worry that this will translate into protracted, simmering admiration-- but not challenged fundamental beliefs, not a rethinking of what computers are for, not a "stupid-ass Apple thing that's so insane that I can't get it the hell out of my head" like the original was. We'll get used to the new iMac very quickly, and while people will like it, it won't rule our thoughts this time.

What am I saying? Am I suggesting the new iMac should have been designed without USB ports or a hard drive? Nah, I don't think there's anything in the current hardware landscape that's as dispensable as the floppy was three years ago. But I do think that a big part of what made the iMac magic was that it represented a big psychological gamble and a sacrifice of deadwood that most people thought was part of the trunk. The dynamic is different today-- the "iMac" name is not new, the concept is not new, Apple is continuing a tradition of design rather than forging new ground. But I'm simply worried that the new iMac won't make as many waves as the first one did, purely because it's not radical enough. It doesn't get in people's faces and make half of its beholders hate it, and so those beholders will forget about it rather than writing angry articles about it, and that's that much less valuable press. The fact that it was "bad" press doesn't make it any less valuable, because where the iMac lives or dies is in its visibility, whether for good or ill.

Let's just hope the desk-lamp design is controversial enough to take up the mantle of the lost floppy drive as the iMac's new big news-making feature.

00:48 - iPod Analysis, Two Months On
http://www.osopinion.com/perl/story/15863.html

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A little real-world discussion of the iPod and how well it's really been received. Hint: very damned well indeed.

Nyah. Let this be a lesson to everybody who scoffs at the White Earbud Clan. We are more numerous than you might think.

00:07 - FotR DVD Will Be 4.5 Hours Long
http://filmforce.ign.com/lotr/articles/317493p1.html

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So goes the current rumor... enough footage will be added into The Fellowship of the Ring when it hits DVD this summer to bring it up to 4.5 hours, all told. And the scenes that the article quotes as making up that new footage is exactly the stuff that the current movie feels like it's missing-- Shire footage, Gimli and Galadriel, the orc attack as they enter Lrien, that sort of thing. No Bombadil, though. That's fine with me.

Take that, "it's too long" whiners. I'm sure there'll be a 90-minute "reviewer's cut" on the disc too, just for you.

22:02 - Damn, now that's what I call a birthday.

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So I get home from work, and I'm greeted by Lance, Dusty, and Drew with a weird conspiratorial look on their faces. They sit me down on the couch, run around for a bit and reappear in front of me with their arms behind their backs, looking like Oompa-Loompas at a spelling bee. Then they whip out... a DV camera. And a tripod. And tapes.


Actually it's one of these things. A Canon ZR20. I'm completely at a loss... these guys rule so much. And now I have to think of something to do with it... oh! I know. Skiing is coming up soon...

The funniest thing is that I was completely expecting this birthday to go by without anybody noticing, let alone buying me anything. And I would have been perfectly happy with that. But geez, this...

26, before you ask. :)


18:19 - An Emotional Post-Mortem for Be
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/23718.html

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I was never a Be person, but that's only because I never really got around to it. And recently I've read enough about BeOS to know just how cool a thing we had. In the words of the song, don't it always seem to go...?

This article is by an editor at The Register attending an asset-liquidation auction of the now-dead company in a dimly lit storeroom. The people standing in line for their chance to bid have the air of the monks whapping themselves with boards in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Pie Jesu Domine... <whap> dona eis requiem. <whap>" Idealistic young bit-heads who caught a glimpse of just how good we could have had it, if only the success of the world's companies and technologies wasn't determined by what company was willing to spend the most money to ensure that no competitor would never reach the public's eyes.

We should have taken a lesson from history. Oppressive despotic governments who control the media and never let the masses become aware that there's a huge, rich, free world out there beyond the borders-- they spend so much time building statues and holding tank parades that they don't have any left over for making the nation a place that anybody with a choice would ever want to be. But fortunately for them, the people don't know any better.

And so it is with the computer world. We've spent so many years with our heads encased in papier-mache boxes made of Microsoft's braying propaganda that we not only don't want to give anyone else a chance, we can't. We no longer have the capacity.

Well, we've reaped the reward now, and on the idyllic pasturelands of the alternative operating systems are built the stinking textile mills and coal mines of Windows: it fuels a population, sure, and it makes McDonald's possible. But don't ever go to see where the work actually gets done, where the machines scrape for purchase and a few more square feet of clear land into which to extend themselves. You don't want to see it.

It's enough to make a grown man weep.

11:54 - Guess it was just golfers exploding or something.

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Still no word as to what those explosions were last night. But oddly enough, CNN.com chose just that time to start running all sorts of articles about how most cities in the US aren't prepared for terrorist attacks, particularly San Jose.

Meanwhile, prisoners in Guantanamo are vowing to kill their American captors, and Americans are raising hell about how we should be treating them more humanely. Isn't there something rather fundamentally backwards about this?

And finally, one of those lines that sounds really funny in a dream at 7:52AM:
"Richard Reid today in court pleaded 'I do not plead with American infidel dogs' in a sworn deposition..."
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
23:49 - Why the NES Was As Good As It Gets

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I was talking with Hiker tonight, and he has a theory about how the NES was the Golden Age of gaming, and how today's console systems-- while their graphics are so immeasurably better, and the games are so much more complex-- do not make for an inherently better gaming experience.

I've never really gotten into 3-d... somehow, taking 2-d games and adding a third dimension makes them awkward and annoying and less fun, where it OUGHT to make things better by making the game deeper... but usually, it doesn't. Ech.

The SNES was a huge letdown. Let me tell you something that will be relevant again, very soon.

The reason the NES was a hit was because it was easy to make games for. The graphics were limited, but the system was easy to program for. Actually the lower res graphics helped it- it made development cycles for games shorter because less work was needed to make the graphic elements.

The SNES was a problem because now the graphics HAD to be good to justify the purchase of the game. They had to be detailed, animate well, etc, because now we would notice if they were cutting corners.

Suddenly the art department was on equal or greater footing then the programmers...

And it slowed them down. made games harder and more expensive to produce, :/

And games that couldn't survive any other way would get by solely on graphics... witness Mortal Kombat. Those games SUCKED but everyone played them...

I'm inclined to believe there's a lot of truth to this. Remember the "gamer generation" of the 80s? It was kids-- preteens, subsisting on a steady diet of Nintendo Power issues and immersed completely in the worlds of their games. Not in the community combat of Quake or Asheron's Call, but in the quest for the Triforce or Kuribo's Shoe. Sure, the graphics weren't complex, but that was the whole point. I remember whiling away many a happy weekend plotting out all the Mega Man villains on 1/4-inch graph paper so I could import them into the school's Apple IIgs machines in 816 Paint with big block cursors and smoothing them out to add my own detail. That's called back-end-loading the imagination onto the players, dude. Today's games leave nothing to the imagination, and so while they'll keep players entertained, they won't inspire them.

So are we past the curve now? Is there no going back? It may be... and that's a pretty sad thing. But I'm glad I was there to enjoy the Golden Age while it was there; and I'm glad for emulators that let me relive it anytime I want.

23:31 - What the Hell Was That?

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Lance and I were out in the hot tub a little earlier, and we saw a series of very bright bluish-white flashes of light on the southeastern horizon. Soundless, but they lit up the entire sky.

First there were two or three flashes in quick succession, like a very regimented lightning strike (but the sky was clear)... then a pause of about 15 seconds, and then another couple of flashes, exactly the same.

We have no idea what it was. One theory was that the power station lost a transformer, but the flashes seemed way too regular and uniform for that-- and besides, the Metcalfe substation isn't in that direction.

We're hoping there's some mention of it in the news later. Big mysterious flashes aren't very reassuring these days.

19:18 - Hey, sometimes Dell does do cool design...
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.asp?Sku=320%2D4105&spagenum=1&categ

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I'm not above admitting that on occasion Dell can package a nice piece of technology. Like this one that our IT guy just put on his desk. It's a $1700 20-inch LCD monitor with a genuinely cool-looking body. It's even fairly ergonomic, except for the giant Dell logo in the middle that looks like it's supposed to be a button (to bring up the Dell website, probably). And I'm not sure why an LCD would need all those other buttons anyway.

But what I especially like is that it has four inputs-- VGA, S-video, composite video, and DVI. That's three analog and one digital. And if you hook up more than one of them (this is the really cool part), it can do picture-in-picture stuff. So you can, say, have your desktop PC hooked up via DVI, and the football game or a movie playing in a small window.

Granted, it's still not as big as the Apple Cinema Display, nor does it have the cool slide-your-keyboard-underneath design or the letterbox layout. But it is cheaper and does more. And it looks pretty nifty for a Dell.

(Still, though, I've had my Cinema Display for over two years now, and this thing is only just now hitting the market.)

12:50 - It's just a typo... really!
http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/News/01/16/life.plaque.reut/index.html

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Oh, this is good. They meant to get a plaque honoring James Earl Jones, to be used as part of a Martin Luther King celebration. But the Texas contractor who made the plaque instead used the name James Earl Ray, King's assassin.

"Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive."

Indeed. Naturally there are all kinds of people accusing it of being done on purpose (because, hey, if it were for real, that'd be a pretty hard-hitting subtle sick joke). But of course they claim it was simply a typo.

"Whoops! I meant to type 'King', but 'Ray' was just one set of keys over on the keyboard.'

Uh huh. Yeah, and James Earl Ray is so much more famous than James Earl Jones, too.

Sheesh.

11:08 - Mmmmmmeat

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Forum this morning on NPR had a chef (Anthony something-- didn't catch his full name) talking about his experiences in world cuisine. And naturally, just as I pulled into the parking lot at work, some guy named Alfredo called in and started reading off what sounded like a rehearsed PETA manifesto: "An animal is a living being, with thoughts and emotions, and I find it offensive and disgusting that you would consider sacrificing such a being for the sake of food." And I had to hang around in my car just to hear the chef's response.

"I agree-- animals have thoughts and emotions, and I do believe that there's very little difference between us and animals in that regard. However, I'm a little faster, and a little smarter."

He clearly didn't want to make enough of a joke out of it to enrage the caller, but I wish he had. See, it's all very well and good to pretend that it's somehow "natural" to live our lives without eating food that our teeth and taste buds and digestive systems are designed to eat. But people who predicate vegetarianism on the idea that "humans are no different from animals" shoot their argument in the foot purely by making the decision to not eat meat. Animals don't feel any such qualms, do they? So why do we? "Well, beause we're more intelligent and sentient--" Whoops! Guess we're not so "no different from animals" after all, are we?

It's like Douglas Adams' disproof of the existence of God:
GOD: "I refuse to prove that I exist, for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
MAN: "Well, the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It couldn't have evolved by itself. It proves you exist, and therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."
GOD: "Whoops, I hadn't thought of that. <poof>"

If you make the argument that humans and animals are subject to the same laws of nature and have the same (or similar) mental capacities, you have to accept that eating meat is a much more natural part of life for animals shaped like humans than eating couscous and hummus is.

Now, this doesn't deny that killing animals for food sucks, or that veal farms or stockyards are grotesque. But, well, the tigers and the wolves somehow got over the ethical dilemma. I'll bet they would feel remorse over it, but oh wait, I forgot, we're actually mentally different from them after all, right? C'mon. Killing for food sucks, but it's how this planet works. You don't like it, feel free to pack up and leave.

Or if my argument isn't worded well enough, there's always the 2 rant on the subject (warning: explicit language ahead).

10:48 - The Coolest Spam in the World

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I got this back in mid-October, as did a lot of other people; I would have mentioned it here if I had been blogging back then, but-- hey, the cool thing about the Internet is that it knows all, sees all, and remembers all.

Subject: attention time travelers and aliens

If you are an alien disguised as human and or have the technology to travel physically through time I need your help!

Also if you are from, I'm not sure this is the correct pronunciation: The planet (Valnator) please reply.

My life has been severely tampered with and cursed by a very evil women of my past.
I have suffered tremendously!

I need to be able to:

Travel physically back in time.

Rewind my life including my age.

Be able to remember what I know now so that I can prevent my life from being tampered with again after I go back.

I am in great danger and need this immediately!

Only if you are an alien or have this technology please send me a separate email to:

core0139@aol.com


Thanks
Robby

Poor guy. I sure hope someone was kind enough to help him out.

But what I like best about this spam is that it's not selling anything, it's not offering anything, it's not a virus, it's not a Trojan. It's just cool. Someone went to the effort a regular spammer goes to purely in order to make everyone's day on the Internet a little more surreal. And I think that kicks ass.
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
22:59 - Beauty and the Big Screen

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I've now seen Beauty and the Beast twice in its new IMAX release, once on the regular six-story flat screen and once on the Dome screen at the Tech museum. And I can say with certainty that I have no desire to see any more flat movies on the Dome screen.

Sure, the sound is great, the picture is nice and clear, and the theater itself is a funky shape that gives you a weird plane'arium-like sense of cameraderie with the rest of the small audience. But the unfortunate fact is that the dome-morphed picture is so bizarrely distorted that even in the very middle of the theater, you can't properly enjoy the movie. Doorways are curved like Dali watches, close-ups of faces look like half-baked Shrinky Dinks. And on top of all that, the Dome screen really isn't all that big. I've seen many 35mm screens that were bigger. I've sat seven rows back at the Chinese Mann. I know from big screens.

But the "real" IMAX, the flat kind-- now that's something else again. The sound is crystal-clear, the visual detail is crisp and clear, the colors are rich... a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

I only wish now that I'd had some way to see this version and the previously released theatrical version side by side. I have no idea what's been modified for this release, aside from the one scene ("Human Again"). And likewise I can't tell any differences in the new TLK trailer, other than general audio-visual richness and clarity, which I ascribe simply to the IMAX presentation. I'm led to believe that there's a lot of extra detail that's been added in; I can't see it, though. I don't know what I should be looking for. There weren't more birds than usual, I don't think there were more animals clustered around Pride Rock... I really don't know. If anybody has any insights to offer, I'd love to hear them.

I'm not wild about the fact that IMAX is a 4:3 ratio screen, by the way. All this special-edition-ness, and it's pan-n-scanned. But hey! That means the DVD release will be the world premiere of the leftmost and rightmost vertical strips of the "Human Again" scene! :)


Anyway, the movie itself is very cool. I never saw it in theaters in its original run (it wasn't until TLK that I started to take an interest in such things), but now I wish I had. There's a historical awareness to the character design that was pretty much lost after BatB-- it was the last movie where the characters (especially the secondary ones, the villagers and so on) were designed in that 40's-Peter-and-the-Wolf style, with the round red noses and the big yappy mouths and the manic motions where people throw each other around the stage and bounce each other like basketballs and gravity's effects are like elastic. Mingled with the up-and-coming Andreas Deja's muscle-man animation of Gaston and the proto-TLK movements of the Beast, it all made for a very engaging ensemble, if inconsistent like nothing else until Pocahontas.

The whole ending feels very flat, though. The characters after their transformations feel like they're animated by second-stringers, the final ballroom dance is populated by 2D courtiers in tableau, and then there's the Prince: blaugh! I always get the feeling that Belle only kissed him because the camera was watching and she didn't want to lose face. His head and hands were disproportionately big (to say nothing of his lips), and his animation was bad. And these are only a few of the reasons why she probably would have been just as happy if he'd stayed just the way he was.

20:27 - Interview with Jonathan Ive
http://news.independent.co.uk/digital/features/story.jsp?story=114276

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If you can't for the life of you figure out why the new iMac is shaped like it is, or if you think it's designed purely to shock or titillate, or that it's a case of blatant form-over-function, you need to do yourself a favor and read this article.

The new shape emerged shortly afterwards: a dome is the only shape that lets the screen swivel without having "preferred" positions, maximises stability and offers lots of horizontal space. After that, it was the fine detail of which there is a huge amount.

Ive is no idiot, and hiring him is one of the best things Apple has done in recent history. I hear the rest of the badged AppleLust staff got to meet him at MacWorld, and now I wish I hadn't been so sick that day and had thought to register with the staff, because I'd love to have the chance to meet the guy. He understands physical UI design the way the guys who went to Xerox PARC understood software UI design. The good old spirit of Apple is alive and well.

20:12 - Slashdot Comes Out in Apple's Defense
http://slashdot.org/features/02/01/14/1647208.shtml

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It's always refreshing these days to see postings on Slashdot that are charitable towards Apple, particularly in crucial times like the first two weeks after a funky, controversial new product's announcement. It's even more refreshing to see vaguely disapproving, cautionarily anti-Apple articles there, followed up by hundreds of kilobytes' worth of thrashing from a pro-Apple feedback force.

One comment I thought was particularly interesting:

I think Katz's gibberish about the "middle-class" is wrong is not because the tech industry has overlooked them, or is trying to be 31337 kewl. Katz is wrong to think that misguided tech notions of cool are what cause Harry and Martha Homeowner to be overlooked. The reason the middle class is a hard sell is because personal computers are still a nascent technology. The technology hasn't evolved to the point where it is totally acceptable or suited to everyone. Our culture hasn't evolved to place the proper niche for computers in the home. After twenty-five years of the PC, we still have a way to go. When the automobile was twenty-five, black utilitarian Model T's ruled the rutted dirt roadways. A quarter century since PC's first appeared, beige utilitarian Windows boxes clog our mostly narrow-band information superhighway.

Good stuff, that. The rest of the conversation seems to have a consensus that Apple has indeed figured out a way to succeed against Microsoft: by carving out a high-end niche of stylish boutique computers where they control the whole package, rather than trying to compete with entry-level OS-only offerings to run on bargain-basement hardware, an area in which they'd undoubtedly be creamed. But in their current niche, they're in fact a monopoly.

He-hey, how's that for irony?

10:52 - Mac the Mouse

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Here's a random tidbit that I should remember to mention when I'm trying to explain to someone about the fundamental design concepts of the Mac:


The mouse is designed to be attached to the keyboard. Always has been. Back in the earliest days when ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) was the norm, the keyboard connected to the computer, and the mouse connected to the keyboard. The cords could plug into either side of the keyboard for handedness flexibility. And the cords were short, so they wouldn't tangle, but you had the mouse's whole vicinity for its range of motion. (In fact, early Mac keyboards and mice had coiled cables like telephone cords, so you could stretch them far from the machine if you wanted to, but they would gather themselves back up neatly if you didn't.) The same thing is true today, except that USB has replaced ADB; Mac keyboards have two USB plugs so you can connect your mouse however you feel most comfortable. And if you don't want to use up a keyboard USB plug, the monitors have USB hubs too, and you get the same benefits.

But on the PC, most mice are still serial, and they connect to the PC case via a long, slender serial cable. In fact, even USB mice are the same way, because most PC USB keyboards don't have hub ports, and certainly nobody is designing them for the purpose of ergonomic placement of your mouse. The upshot is that if your PC is kept under your desk, your mouse cord trails off and disappears over the edge of your desk, and at the bottom of its loop it gets tangled and weighed down by other cords, and your mouse tends to migrate away toward the back of your desk, and you're always tugging it back to you.

This is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about. A PC gives you all the parts that normally make a computer, but provide no help in actually making them all work together. The benefit the Mac gives you is that all the details of ergonomics have been taken into account; comfort doesn't end at the boundaries of each individual component.

Oh, and I won't get into the "one-button mouse" argument... except to note that at least with one button, left-handers aren't at a disadvantage over right-handers.
Monday, January 14, 2002
00:53 - Oh, now that's good.
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/011502.html

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Lileks is so fun to read. There you are, whittling your way through a series of languid observations on radio commentators and the way the snow looks on the fences and trees and new historical documentaries on DVD, and suddenly, without warning, you'll run across a gem like:

I have an odd reaction everytime the camera shows the World Trade Center:

I want to be bad. I want to throw stones at birds. I want to embezzle from my employer and lie to my wife; I want to gamble my daughter's college fund. I want to live a life of petty evil so I end up in hell, and I can spend eternity kicking Mohammad Atta's ass.

It would almost be worth it.



21:41 - Mad Dawg Has Bite

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Drew and Jareth strike again! This time it's with a bizarre new twist on candy that seems to be a combination of just about every extreme, "special-effects" candy on the market. It's called "Mad Dawg", and (c'mon, ignore what the tube looks like) it's like a cross-pollination of Pop Rocks, that stuff that foams in your mouth, citric-acid-heavy powder, the stuff that turns your tongue purple, and gum.

Pouring a mouthful of this stuff is like taking a swig of really hot tea: at first, you don't know whether it's really really hot or really really cold, and it takes a few seconds for you to tell what kind of agony you're in for. With Mad Dawg, it's a rush of sharp, liquid sour more than anything else, filling the corners of your mouth and making you cough involuntarily, no matter how you might be enjoying the taste.

One weird thing about this candy is that the walls of the tube are so thick that from the outside, it looks like there's about three times as much powder inside as there really is. It's a triumph of geometry, really.

If this candy were bad, I'd send it to bad-candy.com; the guys there would undoubtedly have a fine old time writing about the horror of their Mad Dawg experience. But this candy isn't bad. It's in fact very good, and I need to find out where they got it from. 'Cause I want more.

20:22 - "Pixel-Perfect": Such a 20th-Century Concept

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Ever since the release of Mac OS X, there has been a weird, tacit push by Apple-- a stealth paradigm shift-- that feels like it's one of those things that we'll look back at in ten years and hail as either one of the most significant steps in computer design in history, or one of the biggest and most misguided failures. Only time will tell which.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about the death of the concept of "pixel-perfect."


By "pixel-perfect", I mean the idea that a picture or icon should have a single, authoritative size, with specific pixels at precisely defined places in the image, like the example at left. Icon design has traditionally relied very heavily on this concept, especially in the early days when color palettes were limited; an icon designer who could produce pixel-perfect icon art that gave a clear and accurate idea of what the icon represented was at the top of his game.

Similarly, full-size images always had definite pixel sizes. This here image is 647x892 pixels, and that's the size it should display, dagnabbit. Sure, you can scale it to half-size or quarter-size or one-third-size, but scaling algorithms being as CPU-intensive as they are, the output is generally blocky and ugly.

But Mac OS X is tacitly changing all that. The first step was Quartz and its built-in smooth scaling algorithm. This enabled features like the Dock to have real-time scaling of its icons to any arbitrary size as you move your mouse over them, and for icons to be arbitrarily sized in folder windows. You choose the size of your icons by a slider in the View Options pane, but while there are little tick marks to show you various divisions along the slider's length, there are no "notches", or places where the slider will naturally fall or magnetize. Usually you'd assume that a slider moved to the vicinity of the halfway marker should snap exactly to that marker (as with the Balance setting in audio controls), but that doesn't happen in Mac OS X. Why?


It's because Mac OS X doesn't want to perpetuate the idea of display sizes that are bound to the pixel size of an image. Instead, it wants you to pick a size you like, whatever size that might be, and it will conform everything to fit that size as though it were the "authoritative" size. No more having to worry about where each individual pixel goes: with Quartz, in which anti-aliasing is at its historical best, sub-pixel rendering is not only possible like never before, but it is a crucial underlying foundation to how interface elements should behave. Text smoothing now permeates the OS, and tiny labels in icons (as at right) can be shown at much smaller sizes than before, regardless of the actual display resolution.

(It should be noted that at multiples of "authoritative" sizes, like 100% or 50%, or in icons where a clear 32x32 or 16x16 icon has been set with the lines sharpened so as to avoid excessive blurriness as you continuously scale down, there is a perceptible clarifying of the image. Just barely. Stray one percentage's worth from the authoritative size and the smooth scaling kicks in, and the clarity is lost.)

Whoah, now. Hold on here. This all sounds very good in theory-- and no doubt it all sounded great in Apple boardrooms circa 1998-- but how does it work in practice? What kind of resistance is this going to hit?

Well, first of all, people expect their full-size images (photos, Web graphics, random stuff exchanged between friends) to be of a certain pixel size, and they expect them to open and display at that size or be damned. And it's all well and good to have application icons that shrink smoothly down to any size-- not just 16x16 or 32x32, but whatever size you might want-- but we've built up some expectations over the years. We like the feeling of there being a "prescribed" size for displaying things. We like the psychological reassurance of the tactile feedback in sliders with "notches" at likely spots like halfway and one-quarter and 200%. We don't take kindly to a slider that lets us select 51% or 23% without assuming we mean the "obvious" nearby choice. How are we going to overcome this? And should we?

Well, let's look at a couple more things Apple has done with Mac OS X since its release, which help to further the death of "pixel-perfect".

First of all, the built-in Preview application. In 10.1, it stopped displaying images at the pixel-perfect 100% size by default if there was an embedded DPI setting in the image. This meant, since the screen resolution on Macs is 72 DPI and most images have an embedded DPI of 300 or 150, the images would show up shrunk down to 1/3 or less of their expected size. Needless to say, this has caught many users off guard-- myself not least. (And Apple will definitely need to address the counterintuitiveness of this feature in the next release-- have a preference so the user can elect to always open images at the pixel-perfect size, and/or a quick keyboard shortcut to zoom to that size.) So the authoritative size of the picture as displayed on-screen has now been superseded by the embedded print DPI setting, in the interest of displaying the picture on-screen at the same size that it would print out on paper. Which means that, say, 10 years from now, when we have 300 DPI monitors, we'll be able to see the pictures on-screen in all the detail they would have on paper, and at the same size. But in the interim, those "lost" pixels that you don't get to see at 72 DPI... well, they're just extra information. You can see it if you zoom in. Just like everything will be in the future: full of extra information that you'll only be able to see if you zoom in... or if the hardware can handle it. Just imagine: One day you'll have two displays side by side in the same workspace; one a traditional 72-DPI display, and the other a 300-DPI monitor. You can grab an image in the low-res screen and drag it to the high-res screen, and the size of the picture won't change-- but the details and clarity will. It will become as clear as the printed page; all the depth the display can handle will be revealed. It'll be like moving it under a different lens at the optometrist's: "Camera 1... Camera 2." (Ten years ago you could have made the same argument with a monochrome screen and a color screen side by side.) Move the picture back onto the low-res screen, and the details will simply blur again, rather than the picture blowing up to accommodate the pixel-level details that can't be shown at the resolution of the low-res screen. Just because a screen's display resolution doesn't match the embedded DPI settings in a picture doesn't mean the picture's displayed size should be altered to fit the pixels. If you want all the pixels to show at 72 DPI, then set the image's embedded resolution to 72 DPI.

And the second big milestone in this effort is iPhoto. Open up the Preferences and set the double-click action to open the picture in a separate window. Now double-click on a picture. Note that it doesn't show up at 100% pixel-perfect size... but oddly enough, it doesn't look any the worse for wear. Grab the lower-right corner and drag it-- and the picture scales in real-time, with no perceptible loss in quality. Even if you scale it up! Scale-up artifacts only start to appear around 150% or so. Similarly, if you take photos at super-high-res on your 3.2 megapixel camera, and then publish them to the Web, it scales them to a comfortable display size, rather than keeping them at full pixel-perfect size. And the scaling options in the other Sharing features are geared to inches, not pixels. So the message here is that the number of pixels in an image is not important. What's important is how it looks... just like icons in the Finder, you should be able to scale a picture to whatever size you feel like, and it should not punish you for that by applying a crappy chunky scaling algorithm.

Now that we've arrived at (a) the software support in Quartz for this level of anti-aliasing and smooth real-time scaling, and (b) the hardware sophistication to support it, we are ready to ditch "pixel-perfect" image display, at long last. Not that anybody has really seen this coming, though. Did we really want this to happen?


Well, like I said, this is likely enough to be one of those things that seems horrendously obvious in retrospect. Video games have been undergoing this paradigm shift for years now-- instead of pixel-perfect 2D sprites like the ones at left, we now have polygon-mapped characters in 3D space who never appear as the same pixel map twice, depending on their position, distance from the camera, posture, and so on. Games have long ago abandoned the need for anything pixel-perfect. So why not have computers follow suit?

Our expectations will weigh us down as these changes overtake us. We'll still gravitate towards pixel-perfect display sizes for as long as they're available. But sooner or later, display hardware will experience a quantum leap in technological complexity, and we'll have a need to store pictures with much more detail and resolution than we've ever had before. Pixels will become so small as to be irrelevant in and of themselves. What will matter will be how the image appears on the display device you happen to be using-- monitor, paper, digital-ink, whatever. And we won't get there if we stick to the idea that pixel dimensions have any meaning in the long run.

Apple has bit off a big task here: one of the most fundamental shifts in computing paradigms we've ever faced. Probably the reason we've heard no fanfare about it (other than the stock Quartz rah-rah'ing) is that it's really hard to pitch this shift as a "feature", or get people to understand its utility in a quick PR bite. The only way to get people used to it is through a long, slow, immersion training process, like in a hot tub. And at least the trend here is toward encouraging people to use their computers in a Mac-like way: to treat your applications as applications, not icons; to treat your pictures as pictures, not collections of pixels. It's all about the final product, not about the trivial computer details that we should never ourselves have to deal with.

It should also be pointed out here that even though LCD monitors are all the rage, the Mac OS X push toward freedom from pixel-perfectness is occurring in spite of them, rather than because of them. LCDs are horrible for this new paradigm. They display individual pixels much more sharply than CRTs do; we can see the little lines between pixels, we can pick out individual dead pixels on our screens-- on LCDs, you'd think, it's more important than ever to be pixel-perfect. And you'd be right. CRTs by their very nature are much more flexible and arbitrarily scalable than LCDs are. You can switch resolutions to whatever you want in a CRT with no loss of clarity; on an LCD, you're stuck with one built-in resolution, unless you want to force it to do messy interpolation and anti-aliasing to emulate a different resolution (which, itself, is another technique which owes its existence to the modern power of anti-aliasing and smoothing technology). If we had started with LCDs and were now moving toward CRTs, the push to kill pixel-perfect images would make a lot more sense. But Steve Jobs is barreling ahead anyway, with visions of cheap 300 DPI LCD screens dancing in his head. Who knows when they'll reach this backwater planet? IBM has one already, but it's $8000 and powered by a video card that makes nVidia's latest offerings look like 16-color EGA adapters. So it's coming, but it'll be a while.

But to get used to the idea, fire up iPhoto and pop open a few pictures; you'll start to get an idea of just where this is all going.

13:09 - "Living Well is the Best Revenge" for Jobs
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20020110.html

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A good, insightful Pulpit article on the differences in personality between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates-- or, perhaps, between Steve Jobs and the Rest of Humanity.

For Jobs, says the article, "winning" does not entail dominating the PC world. It simply means surviving and continuing to forge ahead and break new ground and make millions of fans happy. It's like a rock star's outlook on life: not everybody on the planet likes the Rolling Stones; they only make up a very small percentage of what "music" is. But nobody can ever claim that they aren't a success.

Whereas, by the same metaphor, Microsoft isn't the Beatles or Elton John. Microsoft is Polygram.

09:50 - Judge Flunks Microsoft School Plan
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33754-2002Jan11.html

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Well, good. See, I'm generally encouraged by the judges in this country. Almost all of them seem to exhibit an admirable level of intelligence and an unwillingness to be fooled by wily lawyers.

I still treasure Judge Jackson's "Counsel, I know what a DLL is. Please move on."

Now if only they could move things along in such a way that time-sensitive cases like this could be settled before such settlement becomes irrelevant.
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© Brian Tiemann