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:

Steven Den Beste
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
As the Apple Turns
Cold Fury
Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
Ravishing Light
Cartago Delenda Est

Cars without compromise.

Book Plugs:

Buy 'em and I get
money. I think.
BSD Mall

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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
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10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, May 12, 2002
02:16 - Notice that they don't show PPG late at night...


Who keeps cool when things are hot?
Yogi Bear!
Who believes the world may dream
But always ends up on the beam
Yogi Bear!

Who wrote this stuff? How can the so-called "entertainment industry" ever have decayed to the state where this was considered top-drawer prime-time material? Was there really that much despair in the world back in the 60s, that we were content with this Hanna-Barbera dreck and the godawful contemporary Disney features carrying the torch of animation, what was once a national treasure of creativity?

What can be said about an era in which Daws Butler is considered the paragon of voice-acting talent?

Did Hanna-Barbera consider it to be the height of avant-garde hilarity to have everybody run around with their hands in their pockets?

And who the hell ever wore those ridiculous stylized hats that all the Hanna-Barbera characters sported all the time? Hey, never mind that-- what about those bizarre hats from Heathcliff and Archie-- you know, those crown-looking things that garbage men and sidekicks wore? Or did they? Was it a fashion statement among blue-collar workers and annoying lidded-eyed comic-relief high-school classmates?

And what insane German-accented high-voltage-torture-equipment-using mad scientist prevailed upon the entertainment industry to cause every studio from Warner to Disney to Hanna-Barbera to milk the "sickly-cute-baby-duck-with-high-pitched-squawky-voice" genre so far beyond its original scope (which by rights should have lasted approximately seventeen femtoseconds)? Why do we have to see "Yakky Doodle" cartoons from the 60s right next to new geriatric-Joe-Barbera cartoons from 1999 starring the same damn duck?

And why did that Harry Potter ad that I just heard pronounce "Hermione" as "her-MY-oh-nee"?

And why am I still awake thinking about this stuff? The weekend's over, Brian. Go watch that "We Drink Ritalin" animutation again.

"Gather me eyes!"

01:29 - This is a cool company.

Marcus points me to this PDF file, which is the installation instructions for an under-desk mounting kit for G4 Power Macs.

Read the text... y'know, this is the kind of company that simply rules-- but invariably dies, because everybody always prefers mediocrity and blandness to fun and spunk and audacity.

Not that Marathon is in any trouble... but I've seen that sort of thing happen over and over.

12:22 - Jaguar Watching-- NDAs Breaching Right and Left


Well, as predicted, the page full of screenshots I mentioned on Friday has been taken down by Apple-- but there's an even better page up now at Think Secret, with a whole lotta pictures (including the new "wait" beachball cursor.

I tell you what, though-- what I want most of all is QuickTime 6, so I can start using MPEG-4.

So hurry and check out the Think Secret page, before the C&D order hits 'em...
Friday, May 10, 2002
16:43 - Come to the Party, and Bring a Towel

Here's a story on the posthumous Douglas Adams collection The Salmon of Doubt:

This collection, complete with foreword by Stephen Fry and epilogue by Richard Dawkins, will certainly please those who are already committed to Adams family values. If you have not read, or do not love, the five volumes of the "increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker trilogy" and the two extant Gentlys, then The Salmon of Doubt will seem like an excellent party to which you have not been invited.

Nevertheless, whether hymning Bach and The Beatles or Wodehouse and the Pythons, recounting the joys and frustrations of computer geekhood, observing endangered species or coining epigrams like they were going out of style, Adams demonstrates the wit, compassion, eccentricity and generosity of spirit which his admirers sorely miss.

16:41 - Get 'em while they're hot!

Wow-- it certainly didn't take somebody long to violate that WWDC NDA and post an album full of screenshots of Jaguar.

Whoever is behind that blurred-out smear is really audacious about it, too-- they're using their mac.com space to post the pictures. Right where Apple has the ability to remove them at their whim. I wonder how long this page will last.

But in the meantime, go suck 'em down! Lots of cool stuff-- Preview has been souped-up (yay!), MIDI support is being handled by some kind of massive panel, and there's now a series of "Digital Hub" system preference panels that control how the system deals with DVD discs, MP3 CDs, iPods, external hard drives, and pretty much everything else that can be described as "digital".

Image Capture appears to handle scanners now... you don't suppose it would know how to deal with my ScanMaker 6400XL, do you?

14:01 - Jaguar is Lookin' Good

Andrew Orlowski has a cool run-down on Jaguar, the next Mac OS X release (10.2? Possibly, but still not officially certain), from an everyday-use perspective. It's pretty darn encouraging, especially for what Steve himself described at WWDC as "not even Alpha code".

“It’s got the usual bugs associated with a beta,” was the most downbeat comment we heard.

What should gladden the hearts of the patient X faithful, if our correspondents are not engaging us in a vastly elaborate hoax: is that with Jaguar Apple has the performance issues nailed.

“I get the impression Apple said 'we’re never going to let the user see the spinning cursor again',” said one Jaguar user, speaking – as all others were – on condition of anonymity. “For all practical purposes, it’s been eliminated.”

Ah, but not quite, it seems. The notorious spinning CD-ROM cursor, also known as the beachball of death – and a legacy from the NeXT era - has been laid to rest. The wait cursor has morphed into an animated Aqua blob. If you’re unlucky enough to catch it, that is.

Whether starting applications, switching applications or simply scrolling, the system remains responsive, say users, and one reported several hours use on a G3 system without seeing the wait cursor once.

Sweeet. Yeah, I was hoping they'd get rid of the spinning beach-ball-- I wasn't expecting them to go to this much effort to eliminate system wait behavior so it would never appear, which is extremely happy news; rather, I was hoping (rather more pettily) that they would replace the cursor itself with something a bit more up-to-date and "Aqua" than the old NeXT-era CD-ROM (or whatever it is).

There are spring-loaded folders, you can put icon labels either at the bottom or the right of the icons, and there's a new visual addition that I had written in to request like a year ago (though I doubt I was the only voice that managed to get this feature implemented): "window zooming" effects are back, e.g. when you double-click on a folder, the shape of the window zooms out to where the window appears so you know where it came from. But since this is OS X, it doesn't just zoom the outline-- it zooms the entire opaque window smoothly, à la the "scale" minimize effect.

I wonder whether they intend to put in a "masking-out" effect for the icons of open folders or running applications, like OS 9 had. That's another thing I'd written in about.

Windows and documents in the Dock have a little icon of their associated applications overlaid on top of them, so you'll know what they will open in. Neato!

The code that Orlowski's correspondents got to see has a number of troublesome bugs-- apparently copy-and-pasting of icons is broken, and other pieces of Finder behavior are, er, "in transition", one might say. Orlowski seems to hate the Dock and the horizontal striping on Aqua widgets, but I'm going to need to hear some better bitching before I consider those to be problems.

This thing is looking better and better. I can't wait...
Thursday, May 9, 2002
17:32 - Hee hee... cute.


User Friendly weighs in on the MP3-sharing/fair-use/DMCA question. Very silly.

It's unclear exactly what message the strip is trying to convey-- is it mocking people who flout the DMCA? Is it mocking the DMCA itself and the record labels?

Sure, there are some shining moments of insight and wit-- but this kind of lack of clarity is one thing that tends to keep User Friendly out of my general rotation. Ah well.

Still good for a giggle.

15:51 - Watson is dead-- long live Watson?

The fact that Sherlock 3, in the upcoming Jaguar release of OS X, resembles Watson a great deal both in functionality and in look-and-feel has not gone unnoticed or uncommented-upon.

Dan Wood of Karelia Software, the developer of Watson, confirmed for MacCentral that he had no part in the development of Sherlock 3. Wood also confirmed that Watson is alive and well and he will continue the development of the product.

"We see no reason not to continue development of Watson, especially basing any decisions on software from other companies that hasn't been released," Wood said.

Watson is an extendable application for Mac OS X that gives an Aqua interface to a number of Internet-based services such as stock quotes, telephone lookup and movie schedules. Watson functions much like Sherlock in that it bypasses the Web Browser for specific functionality. But instead of being a search engine, Watson connects to a handful of other useful services available on the Internet.

"Watson has been incredibly popular, and seems to have struck an emotional chord with its users," said Wood. "Many have written us to tell us that Watson is the reason that they finally took the plunge from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X, and I have even heard stories of Wintel users who have been convinced to buy a Mac based on playing with Watson. It's incredibly gratifying to hear such stories."

Wood said that users could expect more plug-ins for Watson in the near future as the third-party developer community continues to develop.

"We do have a 'Weather' tool in progress, though I can't make any promises when it will be ready," said Wood. "Even more exciting is that the third-party developer community is starting to bear fruit. Watson has an open architecture, and any developer can make their own module. Around the corner, we will be seeing some great plug-ins for News, Genealogy, Sports Scores, Astronomy and so forth."

The feedback commentary on this story spans the poles of opinion. One contingent cheerfully agrees with Wood's confidence that the Watson user base will continue to support it and extend it; the opposition bemoans the imminent death of a truly outstanding product as Apple "Microsofts" it with a workalike app built into the OS.

Both sides have their merits, I must admit. It's easy to smell Redmond in Apple's handling of this matter. After all, what makes the free and integrated Sherlock 3 different from IE, and what makes the shareware/commercial Watson different from Netscape?

One could defend Apple here by saying that all Watson does is to access readily available XML database resources across the Internet, reformat them, and package them in a way that's easy to use an extensible; and Sherlock growing to encompass that kind of functionality is really a "no-brainer" for the kind of data-mining app it is, in this day and age of instant interconnectedness.

But honestly, isn't that just what web browsers were?

Just a couple of months ago, Apple awarded Karelia a coveted Apple Design Award for "Most Innovative Mac OS X Product", and continue to list it as a featured download, an exemplary piece of Mac OS X functionality in action. They're still touting Watson's superiority-- Apple is, not Karelia. That in itself is something that makes Apple different from Microsoft-- Microsoft never would have dreamed of endorsing Netscape while they were in full smush-all-competition mode. And frankly, I think Apple doesn't see Watson as any kind of "threat", particularly not on the order of how much Microsoft was threatened by the power of the Web when it wasn't clear that they could control it.

But then again, this is pretty much par for the course for Apple: their weekly OS X newsletter frequently features useful tools that third parties write in order to compensate for shortcomings in the core OS, and Apple isn't shy about implicitly admitting that those shortcomings exist. At one point, they endorsed Super Get Info, which provides the ability to edit Type and Creator codes and other pieces of meta-data; in the description of the product, Apple didn't dance around the fact that these were crucial pieces of functionality that were missing from the OS. They're not as paranoid as Microsoft.

But just the same, some say, Apple should have hired Dan Wood, or bought Watson, or paid Karelia a licensing sum-- and just because no law explicitly would require them to do so, it would have been nice of them.

If it was the "obvious" next step in functionality for Sherlock to evolve into a Watson-like tool which taps public XML databases, then we would have to grudgingly accept that the same reasoning is valid for Microsoft building IE into Windows.

Watson has an open architecture, which means that anybody can write new modules to add to it, potentially extending its feature lead over and beyond Sherlock-- but then again, Sherlock's architecture is open too, and anybody can write modules for it as well.

So it may well be that Watson's main differentiating feature from Sherlock will be presentation-- the "drawer" concept (which Sherlock 3 doesn't seem to use), the more Aqua-like (rather than brushed-metal) UI motif, and the psychological satisfaction of there being "a Watson to complement Apple's Sherlock" (frankly, one of Watson's biggest selling points, when you get right down to it-- people love to live by metaphor, even when it gets stretched beyond usefulness).

Then again, Karelia might discover some new dimension in which to take Watson-- something that can't be matched by the contemporary generation of Sherlock. That would be further proof of the innovativeness of the Mac-using community, and I don't doubt that that will in fact happen.

But even so, Apple may have burned up some goodwill among fiercely loyal Watson fans with the Sherlock 3 maneuver-- though that goodwill would be immediately and firmly restored with an act of good faith by Apple (an offer to buy Watson, to pay Wood for the innovation, a discount on OS X-- or simply an acknowledgment somewhere of Watson's influence on Sherlock's development).

It's not terribly likely, but Apple has surprised us with weirder things in the past.
Wednesday, May 8, 2002
02:19 - A site that's a product of... something

Take a look at this site... it's lots of stickers and t-shirt designs and bumper-stickers and coffee mugs with cynical, world-weary, post-modern slogans that are not for the faint of heart.

But the real treat is the JavaScript pop-up descriptions for each of the items. Read a few of those, see how they relate to the slogans they're attached to, and you get the impression of a mind that's charmingly "stop-and-smell-the-roses", like seeing 2 the Ranting Gryphon suddenly break into a Disney song or preach a heartfelt ode to the power of the human creative spirit.

There's some pretty funny stuff here, too.

21:15 - Huh huh huh huh. That was cool.

Well, the radio interview went really well, by all accounts. Kris and Chris were listening to the Real stream there in the lab, and Chris made an ON AIR sign (with flashing blue LED back-light) for me to hang outside my cubicle. He also fended off the cleaning lady with the vacuum cleaner who came in and started drowning me out towards the end of the hour.

My mom called me five minutes after the show ended to tell me she'd caught the whole thing-- that it was a really interesting show, that I didn't get too esoteric or unintelligible, and that she'd almost got my old boss Jim to phone in and harass me. (It would have been an improvement on our actual call-ins, as a matter of fact-- we just got one guy asking for the Ukiah Mac Users Group phone number, and a lady with a question about fonts and PDF printing in OS X.)

Both the hosts were big OS X fans, actually, which made for a nice set of common ground. There was all kinds of stuff to talk about, and I didn't even get to some of the stuff I wanted to bring up (Apple's stance on "fair use", for example, versus Microsoft's firmly pro-Hollings stance-- it's in Apple's interest to produce cool software that lets people do new stuff, because that might encourage people to switch platforms; but it's against Microsoft's interest to innovate in that area or to support creativity tools, because that threatens their ability to strike licensing deals with other corporations-- and because they don't need to woo anybody to Windows). So maybe I'll see if I can get on a future show. There's all kinds of opinions that I wouldn't mind transferring from blog to radio...!

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Hey Lileks! I'm one 'a you now! (Shyeah...)

17:39 - Nearly ready to go on air...

Cool-- they've updated the above page with info about the show, the book, me, and ... agh, now I'm getting the shakes and stuff.

Bob says that he and Jim Heid (the other host) will be doing a couple of other items before they bring me on, so I'll be joining some time after 7:00.

The RealAudio stream is online right now, though, in case anybody wants to tune in beforehand.

13:28 - Yeah, what he said.



This is the strip from yesterday, and the author has been taking heat for it:

Those who wrote feel it's ridiculous to suggest that movie studios release multiple versions of DVDs because of piracy. Agreed.

rather than get into multiple email discussions with everyone who wrote in, let me go ahead and concede the point. Movie studios release multiple versions of DVDs because it's profitable, not because piracy forces them to do so.

I am, however, suprised at how many people actually defended piracy. Maybe it shouldn't surprise me, considering how many gamers and tech people I know. If I had a nickel for everytime someone said "Dude, burn me a copy." I would be rich.

And I think, ultimately, that's the strongest argument against piracy.

I think that stealing content is wrong. Period. I'm not getting preachy here, because I'm as guilty of stealing content as the next guy. Some offenses have been worse than others. I mean, I tape and rebroadcast football games without the express written permission of the NFL.

I'm not above admitting my guilt, but please...PLEASE don't tell me that it's okay to steal. At least have the balls to admit that it's wrong. You know?

Well said.

Content producers expect a certain amount of stretching of the rules on the part of consumers. People will tape football games, people will fast-forward past commercials, people will copy favorite CDs to their MP3 players. That's "fair use", and content producers gamble that such actions will not occur to a degree that will impact sales. Steven den Beste had an article about exactly that a little while ago, on the subject of whether a TV viewer is "obligated" to watch commercials in order to get content for free (in this case, skipping through commercials is economically equivalent to taping a show or e-mailing someone an MP3):

The producers of ad-supported material are basically taking a statistical gamble. It's never been the case that ad-viewing has been 100%; it's never even been remotely that high. The advertisers base their ad-rates on an assumed lesser rate, multiplied by a certain chance that any given person viewing the ad will then become a customer. If the amount of new business brought in offsets the cost of the ad, then it's good business practice. And ad rates are set based on the expected return.

But that's between the broadcaster and the advertiser. If the effectiveness of the ads drops, then the advertiser will pay less to the broadcaster, and the broadcaster has a problem. But the fact that they both need the ads to be viewed has nothing to do with the viewers.

But when you start harrumphing about how software companies are greedy for expecting to be paid the advertised price for their product, or how movie producers should not have the right to terminate with extreme prejudice people who make bootleg copies of movies and make them widely available on the Internet, you cross the line into "actively trying to undermine the market". You may not be doing it maliciously. All you want is notoriety ("I'm so l33t! This v1d iz encoded by --=-[]-DeAtHwOlF-[]-=-- !!!!1!1`") and convenience.

But you're breaking the law, and (more importantly) you're betraying the trust of "fair use"-- the trust that companies have given you on the assumption that you will be reasonable about what you do with the content.

And when you betray the trust that gave you the technological freedom to make those copies, you send them the message that you can't be trusted with that capability-- and then Fritz Hollings gets to pass bills that make it illegal to rip a CD onto your MP3 player.

I hope you're proud of yourselves.

11:39 - My Radio Debut

It would seem that I'm going to be interviewed on the air tonight at 7PM Pacific, on a show called "Point & Click Radio" hosted by Bob Laughton on KZYX, the public radio station in Fort Bragg, California. We'll be talking about FreeBSD Unleashed, which I guess means we'll be talking about what FreeBSD is supposed to be, how it differs from Linux, and why Microsoft must die. Well, we'll see how it goes.

Since I'm a local boy, I'll be talking about how it was that I of all people managed to land the book deal; so I suppose I'll have to tell the whole story of lionking.org and its derivative benefits and services, and my current job, and past jobs, and all sorts of boring-as-hell stuff. I'll have to see how much I can gloss over and still have it make sense. (Not that it would make any sense if I put in all the details, mind you.)

It's a call-in show, so I might get to answer questions from local geeks. We'll set up our very own North Coast Open-Source Resistance. We shall not be dislodged!

It'll be about a half-hour show, and because KZYX doesn't exactly have an international broadcasting range, I'll be getting a tape of the interview afterwards, which I'll convert to MP3 and put online somewhere for people to listen to if anyone in the wider world is interested in hearing it. It'll also be available at the above URL in Real format.

Whee! Another milestone to fame!

10:53 - Arr, me mateys.

Let's be theoretical for a moment, shall we?

Suppose you come across a car sitting by the side of the road. It's unlocked, and the keys are in it. What do you do?

To my mind, there are three possible basic courses of action:

A) You don't take the car, because that would be wrong.
B) You don't take the car, because you're afraid you'll get caught.
C) You get in and drive happily away.

Now, take "car" and replace it with "cracked copy of Photoshop".

We're still being theoretical here; but my theory, the theory that is mine, that it is, is that those people who chose options A or C above will treat the pirated software exactly the same way that they would a car. If they don't steal things because it's wrong, they won't use pirated software. If they do steal things just because they can, they'll have a raft of bootleg software on their computers.

But people who chose option B-- those who don't steal only because they fear getting caught-- those are the ones who make software piracy such a funky gray area. They know theft is wrong-- they just don't care. They're very practical-minded, these people-- they want to maximize the benefits to themselves while minimizing risk, and they'll take whatever they can get away with. The problem is that it's so much easier to get away with stealing software than stealing a car. And so someone who would never dream of stealing a car-- indeed, someone who wouldn't palm a jellybean from the serve-yourself bins at the supermarket-- sees no wrong in using an unlicensed copy of Photoshop or Windows or WinZIP or Maya.

Of course, there's another effect at work here: when you steal a car, you're stealing it from somebody. You're sticking it to a particular person-- the hapless shmoe who left his keys in the car. But in stealing software, you're sticking it to the Man-- all you're doing is diluting the value of the software, because a copy can be made effectively for free. It's not a physical good. So the "B" people will frequently rationalize software piracy by claiming that they're not really hurting anybody, they're just thumbing their noses at those greedy software companies who have the gall to charge $600 for Photoshop. "We're just adjusting the fair market price to a more realistic number!" they will cry, puffing themselves up with pride in their understanding of supply-and-demand, smug in their for-the-greater-good freedom-fighter platform, their self-styled moral high ground of knowing what's really better for the world. "Information wants to be free! You can't fence in creativity! Free tools for all! Long Live the glorious Revolution!"

But you know, second-guessing the free market is the same thing as theft, no matter how you rationalize it. At best, it's the equivalent of running a black-market underground fence for Rolexes of dubious authenticity.

The company sets a price for its products, based on how much return from sales they know they can get at that price. They maximize profits by adjusting the price so as to cover development and to support the exclusivity of the software. Why don't they sell Photoshop for $70? Because they feel that only professionals should be able to afford it. That's customer-targeting.

And here's a secret: Adobe has the right to make that decision.

Someone who says "You know, I can't afford to buy Photoshop, but I can get it for free by just pulling this little wire out of my ethical center" and who rationalizes it by saying "The company shouldn't be charging that much for it anyway-- they should expect people to pirate it!" should ask himself whether he would treat a car or an NVidia card the same way. Is the only difference the fact that the product's distribution model is different? Is that all that makes it okay to steal it?

So when I see an e-mail pass through my box that says something like "So I can understand suing him for copywrites and such, but going after him for pirated software I think is a little much. Yeah sure he does it, but why bother? I myself would rather have a free copy of Adobe photoshop then pay some outragous price of 400$+ for it," ... that's when I have to ask the question about the unlocked car on the side of the road.

And if the person answers "B", then I put the testicle-crushing tips on my boots.
Tuesday, May 7, 2002
20:49 - Must... write... blog...

There probably won't be much in the way of posting tonight. I'm dog tired.

My team spent two and a half hours today in an interminable meeting about process and restructuring and roles, drawing up matrices on whiteboards and asking the same questions over and over again and defining terms and proposing alternatives and going off on tangents until what was supposed to be a quick pre-meeting jam session to get some tedious but necessary stuff out of the way before tomorrow's weekly "real" meeting turned into a grotesque parody of an office nightmare, something right out of Dilbert:

"Welcome to the four hour... MEETING FROM HELL! Ha ha ha ha haaah!"

"That's rarely a good sign..."

And now Ed, Edd, and Eddy is on. Has the world no mercy upon me this night?

20:46 - Can we elect Peruvian politicians to our own Senate?

Microsoft has just had its anti-open-source FUD boilerplate fed to it with a jagged spoon by Dr. Edgar Nuñez of the Peruvian Congress.

Peru had made a resolution to adopt only open-source ("free") software in its government data-management systems. Microsoft, as could be expected, presumed that this decision was made based on a lot of idealistic hoo-hah and uninformed, unrealistic assumptions by local lobbyists or something-- that some Peruvian politician had heard that "Open Source is Free!" and decided on that basis to outfit all the government offices with Linux.

So Microsoft fed them a standard line about how Open Source is evil and how Peru was making a big mistake-- that free software is insecure, expensive to maintain, depresses the local economy, and all kinds of further allegations.

And they got a response. Boy, did they ever. Dr. Nuñez takes the Microsoft statement and drags it through a hedge trimmer backwards, and the result is an impression of a government that's a whole lot more enlightened about technology and the realities of programming and innovation than anybody in this country's Congress seems to be.

I wonder what Dr. Nuñez' position is on MP3 players?
Monday, May 6, 2002
21:20 - Okay, some elaborations are in order.

Okay-- seems I was rather unclear in my statements about the recent slant on Doonesbury, and I must clarify and re-illustrate.

Back on May 2, I said this:

Shortly after 9/11, he tackled the problem of racial profiling by putting a scary-looking Arab on a plane, scaring the bejeezus out of his seatmate Mike-- until you discover that he's a baggy-eyed, cynical Palm-Pilot salesman who's just out to live the American Dream like the rest of us. That was fine, because at the time it was a very real concern-- we had no idea that events would transpire such that incidences of anti-Muslim aggression in the US would be so vastly outnumbered by incidences of anti-Jewish aggression in Europe. His concern has turned out to be a non-issue in the scheme of things.

But lately, it seems as though he's realized that what he'd figured would be important to lampoon has turned out not to be-- and so rather than drifting back towards center, he's slammed the rudder hard-a-port.

Read over the past couple of weeks' worth of Doonesbury strips. I knew Trudeau was a fiery liberal and all, but this is just weird. If it goes any further, he'll be comparing Sharon to Hitler-- and if you haven't read Lileks' latest Bleat on why that comparison can be ascribed to nothing but utter barking madness, you need to go do so right now.

And the current contention is that reading through the past couple of weeks of Doonesbury doesn't seem to reveal this biased leftward swing. In fact, it would seem to show equally weighted stabs at the Palestinian suicide bombers and at Sharon.

To witness I call the following:

Now, at first blush one might conclude that these are intended to ridicule the suicide bombers. But I don't agree. The interviewee is portrayed not as a religious nutcase or a raving lunatic or a fiery young Uzi-toting world-shaker with dynamite strapped to his toddler's forehead. Instead, it's a teenaged girl, with Trudeau's trademark cynical baggy eyes and full pouting Cover Girl lips and everything. She gets to defend her cause without so much as a wry, pointed, ironic question from Roland. All he does is ask her how old she is.

Then she gets to remain on the topic of the urgency of martyrdom-- which still is not portrayed as insanity. The ridicule is still not aimed at her, but at the shallowness of American youth-- you know, those blonde mallrat bimbos who represent all that is evil about America with their valley-girl vocabulary and their petty, provincial socializing. By contrast, the Palestinian girl is businesslike, focused, determined, idealistic-- why, she even would seem to make a strong case for blowing herself and the patrons of a pizza parlor into chunks.

After some sidelong ribbing at the "72 virgins" thing-- which manages to come off as a gentle, offhand guffaw on the part of both participants-- we're back to the idealism and the righteousness... until Roland brings up a parallel with Jewish culture, upon which the interview is cut short with the urbane curtness of a Hillary Clinton or a Bill Gates.

Maybe I am seeing this from a biased perspective. Maybe Trudeau did indeed mean in these strips to poke fun at the concept of suicide bombing. But to my mind, if that was his intent, he did an uncharacteristically piss-poor job of it. I can think of a dozen more scathing and funny ways to ridicule people who are willing to blow up civilians because of their religion, and I'm not even being paid to try to be funny. (And a good thing, too.)

Especially when these strips are immediately followed by a series on Sharon's rolling tanks through innocent civilian neighborhoods and crushing the downtrodden refugees under his jack-booted heel. If I were more petty about this, I could point out that even the Palestinians are admitting that the Jenin massacre never actually happened... but that would be "propaganda", wouldn't it?

20:43 - Ooh, baby.


Saudi Arabian authorities have confiscated thousands of full-length black cloaks for women for violating strict Islamic law (Sharia), a Saudi newspaper has reported.

Al-Jazirah said religious police and officials from the commerce ministry had searched more than 350 shops and factories producing the abayas in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam.

The newspaper said 82,000 of the garments were removed.

The confiscated abayas, which are worn from head to toe, were considered to be too revealing or carried decorations and drawings prohibited under Sharia.

Yeah. Go, Ministry of Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue. Burn those filthy whores in their on filth. It's their own fault for showing too much nose.

I swear.

You know, we Westerners are taking a lot of flak for "not seeing the world through Muslim eyes" and "not having the proper perspective" and "not having enough respect for other cultures". Well, you know, some cultures are worthy of respect because they have pure and pristine ties with the land and sing primal tribal songs and stuff. Some cultures deserve honor because they've been hunted to extinction and lost their homelands and yet manage to preserve their ancient traditions into the modern day. Whatever hip new-age reason one might have for striding about in a white suit and bolo tie and wide-brimmed hat singing about the virtues of whatever backward culture you have romantic notions about, you're going to have a platform with some merit. Humans are humans, and all humans are equally worthy.

But some cultures have actively waived their right to respect. They're doing it every day, they're doing it loudly and proudly, and they're not stopping. The same mentality that blows up ancient Buddha statues in cliffsides (to the consternation of fatherly colonial imperialists everywhere) is today punishing women for daring to wear abayas that are too revealing.

And yet these guys are our "allies".

15:46 - Rendezvous == Zeroconf

Aha... so the new "Rendezvous" stuff in Jaguar would seem to be an implementation of "Zeroconf", an already-extant working group whose purpose is to make TCP/IP configuration wholly automatic.

AppleTalk currently handles this very well. If you take a group of Macs and plug them into an Ethernet hub, then you have a working AppleTalk network without any expert intervention, and without needing to set up special servers like a DHCP server or a DNS server. With current Macs with IEEE 802.11 "AirPort" networking built-in, you don't even need the cables and the hub.

On Windows PCs, Microsoft NETBIOS provides a similar ease-of-use for small networks.

One major problem with this situation is that it requires application developers to support one protocol for wide-area communication and a different protocol for local communication. For example, a game developer writing a multi-player game will usually support IP to allow game-play across the Internet. A developer selling a game for $50 doesn't have the technical support budget to provide telephone support for people trying to configure their own "Net 10" IP network at home, so for the sake of ease-of-use, that developer also has to support AppleTalk (in the Macintosh version) and NETBIOS (in the Windows version). Unfortunately, even after doing all that work they haven't really solved their problem, because if someone with a Mac laptop wants to play a network game with their friend who has a Windows laptop, they are still in the position of having to set up their own IP network, because IP is the only cross-platform protocol their two machines have in common. Network printer vendors have the same multi-protocol support issues. It would be much better if a single common protocol worked in all environments.

And now Macs will have it. This on top of AppleTalk (for LANs) and AppleTalk/IP (for point-to-point across the Internet) should make for some pretty bloody good networking bragging rights.

15:40 - Yay! The "newversion" page is back!

All of Apple's announcements from this morning's keynote-- well, not all of them, but the photogenic ones-- are now available to peruse and drool over. There's some neato stuff coming; I hope (as some have speculated) that by announcing Jaguar for a "late summer" release, they mean to time it to coincide with NVidia's new Mac-optimized video card (slated for August) and possibly a G5 workstation announcement at the July MacWorld expo.

Boy-howdy, these next few months will be full of anticipatory goodness...

Incidentally, Sherlock 3 looks an awful lot like Apple has absorbed Watson. The Watson discussion list seems to know nothing definitive about this. I wonder what the real story is...

13:48 - Steve Jobs' WWDC Keynote

Wow. Now that is what I call a keynote. Too bad we couldn't see it live or streamed...!

First of all, the showmanship and theatrics: he came on stage in a cathedral setting, with funeral music, and a coffin; he took out a copy of OS 9. He then delivered a "touching eulogy", saying that he's sure "he's looking down on us with the same smile that he had when he booted up all these times". Yes, rest in peace indeed, brave little OS.

Apple has officially committed to writing not one more line of code for OS9, except for customer-critical bugs (I would assume). That's because... well, time to start quoting, I guess.

"Jaguar is packed with incredible new features that Mac OS X users are going to love, including our iChat instant messaging software," Jobs said. "Jaguar takes the world's highest-volume UNIX-based operating system to the next level, adding amazing new technologies never before seen in any operating system."

The long-rumored Inkwell technology will let Mac users enter text using a pen in any application that accepts text. In talking of Inkwell, Jobs joked that finally Apple had gotten something out of all the technology it had invested in the Newton handheld device that never caught on with the general public.

Ah hah. This is something that we've been rumoring about for a long time, but it's never seemed really plausible-- I mean, is it something people need? And what kind of input devices are on the market-- or will become available? I hope this isn't stillborn. And I hope it doesn't make Apple the butt of "Eat up Martha" jokes all over again.

iChat is a new AIM-compatible instant messaging software that's built into Mac OS X and integrated with the new Mail and Address Book applications. It's compatible with AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), America Online's instant messaging community that has over 150 million registered users. Jobs said it would allow seamless instant messaging between Mac.com members, AOL members and AIM users. Mac users can use their existing Mac.com names with iChat or get a free Mac.com name quickly if they don't already have one, he said.

"We're very excited about bringing Mac users into the broader AOL community with the first fully compatible integration of another user base with AIM and AOL Buddy List users," said Bob Pittman, Chief Operating Officer-elect of AOL Time Warner, in a statement. "This will make it possible for Mac users to communicate within our network using their existing Mac.com identities. We look forward to working together with Apple on other innovative offerings."

The Mac OS X version of iChat will purportedly let users quickly see and change their online status and communicate with buddies from the menu bar. What's more, the Mail application in Mac OS X will show the online status of buddies, so users can turn e-mail exchanges into real-time chats. In addition, the new system-wide Address Book will manage buddy information including name, handle and photo along with the rest of their contact information.

iChat uses "dialogue bubbles" and buddy photos to present instant messages in a graphically conversational manner. iChat invitations pop on the screen using transparency and animation effects. Users will also be able to automatically discover and chat with other iChat users on their local Ethernet or AirPort networks, according to Apple.

...Innnnnteresting. I can't help but wonder if this is a panicked response to Windows Messenger-- after all, integrating a chat system into the OS is something that has always seemed like a weird idea to me, and in XP it's particularly slimy because it's designed to kill ICQ, AIM, Yahoo, and all the others because it's not compatible with any of them. iChat would appear to be AIM-based, which might mean-- well, okay, I don't know what it might mean for ICQ users. If it works well, though, hey-- I'm in.

QuickTime 6 and QuickTime Broadcaster will be integral parts of Jaguar. Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, said that by combining QuickTime 6 with the free QuickTime Streaming Server and QuickTime Broadcaster, "Apple delivers the world's first complete media solution for creating, streaming and viewing MPEG-4 content."

He said that key features of QuickTime 6 -- which is completed but not released due to MPEG-4 licensing issues -- include: a video codec for encoding and decoding MPEG-4 video content; Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), the next generation audio format; adherence to the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA) 1.0 specification; MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 playback, which is ideal for content creators who wish to preview and share work throughout the production process; DVC Pro (PAL) support; an updated user interface for easier access to QuickTime content; and skip protection enhancements.

This is a big relief. We need QT6, I've been saying for a while, because otherwise MPEG-4 won't gain enough strength to stave off Microsoft's "Corona" release of WMP. It had appeared that Apple would be waiting indefinitely to release, because MPEG-LA didn't seem to be willing to bend. But now Apple is committing to a release date, and I wonder what that means-- did they work out the licensing? Are they just "giving up"? Do we get the encoding codec in iMovie for free, or do we have to pay the licensing fee?

Jaguar will also come with Rendezvous, Apple's proposed new industry standard for automatic discovery of computers, devices and services on IP (Ethernet, AirPort) networks. In other words, the technology will let Macs automatically recognize other computers on a wired or wireless network and share files with each other or, theoretically, with other digital devices. In his keynote, Jobs demoed streaming music files off of another Mac connected through an AirPort network.

Holy crumbs. This is certainly a surprise. Apple is effectively proposing the first major extension to TCP/IP infrastructure since DHCP-- a new piece of functionality that we wouldn't otherwise have seen until IPv6, which effectively means "never". Dayamn. This will be something to watch.

Also, what this tells me is that the networking layer in OS X is under heavy development still. It's very versatile and cool as it is, but this is proof that Apple can see a huge landscape of potential directions they can take their software, and they're striking out in all sorts of uncharted directions. This is outstanding news.

The next major rev of Mac OS X will also offer big changes to the Finder, such as spring-loaded folders and new instant searching. It will come with Sherlock 3, a major revision to Apple's Internet search and services engine. Quartz Extreme will be a hardware accelerated Quartz graphics and compositing engine. Jaguar will also come with: Unix Tools, "the latest Unix advancements," including FreeBSD 4.4 updates, the new GCC 3 compiler, IPv6 and IPSec; and Windows Support, for increased compatibility with Windows networks with SMB browsing and sharing as well as built-in PPTP VPN security.

Squeeel! VPN/PPTP! Cutting-edge FreeBSD stuff! IPv6! SMB browsing! Spring-loaded folders! Built-in instant searching in the Finder! Multithreading and automatic thumbnail generation! And hey-- here's another quote from the keynote coverage about "Quartz Extreme":

Quartz Extreme: Takes the compositing engine in Quartz, and accelerates it in graphics cards. Combines 2D, 3D and video in one hardware pipeline via OpenGL. "Everything on the screen is being drawn in hardware by OpenGL." Requires AGP 2x and 32MB of video RAM.

It is not possible on older graphics cards like RAGE 128 cards, said Jobs -- that means it'll work on newer iMacs and eMacs, but not on older machines, he emphasized. AGP 2x and 32MB video RAM are required for this new technology. Jobs said this puts Apple two years ahead of "the other guys."

Geez! This stuff is going to fly. Guess I'd better go get myself a GeForce4 card after all, huh?

Some stuff on Mail and Address Book:

Mail. Sophisticated rules added. Auto merge mailboxes (multiple accts merged into a single mailbox). Cross mailbox searching. Color highlighting. Security features added. VPN client. Spam filtering. QuickTime support.

Address Book: Jaguar also features database technology which can be used for any app, system wide. Tied into Bluetooth. LDAP searching built in too.

Sweeet. I knew Mail was due for a major update; it's been a placeholder till now, as cool as it is. Now it will be a real contender. And the new Address Book stuff sounds like it'll start being something I can actually use. I wonder if it can be integrated with my Palm desktop DB?

Universal Access. Zooming supported via Quartz. Screenreader -- cursor over text will read it to you. Full keyboard access. Visual notification. They're all available to developers in APIs in Jaguar.

Spatchka. Kaopectate. And other such Russian expletives. More kickass cool stuff under the hood that most users probably won't see-- but it will make great bragging material. "Look what myyyy computer can do!"

Education customers will also get enhancements: Network management improved, and simple finder for kids. NetInstall enables admins to boot off network image and install and build that machine, completely automatically. Special needs users will see many enhancements. USB printer sharing, also.


Jaguar Server: Net Install and Net Boot support. Every single server can install off of that. Built in Open Directory (LDAP). Server-optimized Java Virtual Machine.

I suspect these announcements are related. Centralized net-booting and installation management, awesome... a Simple Finder for kids? Cool, bound to be better than the Launcher. I admit OS X hasn't seemed to me like much of an educational/kids' OS. But they're addressing that, now. Hearty applause.

Jobs: "A week from tomorrow there'll be some news on the server front." May 14th: Apple introducing a dedicated server, rack mount model.

And this is where Apple announces to the world, "We're here, we're queer, and we're not goin' away!" They're moving the chess pieces into place and making a play for a piece of the server pie. And I know a lot of people who have been waiting for precisely this. I cannot wait to see this announcement. Come on, May 14th...

You know, when they hyped the MacWorld iMac announcement with lines like "Beyond the rumor sites. Way beyond", something like this was what I was picturing. Cool stuff all the hell across the board. It's like Apple has suddenly blown the lid off all the blue-sky, pipe-dream rumors that we'd all learned to stop taking seriously, because the real announcements would always turn out to be a lot more pedestrian-- 10GB iPods and new Cinema Displays, ho-hum. Cool, yes, but not mad cool.

But this is Caligula pimpin' mad cool.
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© Brian Tiemann