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
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, January 11, 2004
00:28 - Oh, that's subtle
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0360139/

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Boy, somebody sure went out on a limb to pitch this movie.

It's called Chasing Liberty, and it's all about the embarrassingly rebellious daughter of the President running amok in Europe and causing headline-worthy havoc in her pure and youthful search for romance and individual expression, away from the stultifying and banal land of her birth.

In the trailer, said President says, "Why can't she just do what I tell her to, like the British?"

And the title suggests the hypocrisy of America and our so-called freedom. Brilliant and subtly thought-provoking, I'm sure.

Mandy Moore, huh? Wonder if she's any relation.


21:57 - They also serve
http://www.apple.com/xserve/cluster/wgcluster.html

(top)
How well is the Xserve selling?

Not splendidly well, some people say. But numbers are hard to come by in the Xserve's segment of the market. Apple claims to be doing brisk business, with lots of big corporate customers coming to Apple out of the blue with proposals for lucrative deals on the "solutions" level rather than the "we'll buy some computers" level, as-- most wags would agree-- is the way they would want it. However, just as many pundits will grumble that a few big-name customers do not a market segment invasion make, and sniff that the Xserve is doomed to be an expensive failure.

I certainly don't know which it is. But sometimes products speak louder than words.

The Apple Workgroup Cluster for Bioinformatics provides a faster, easier and lower-cost path to scientific discovery. You’ll get rapid access to data analysis with minimal administrative burden in one comprehensive, industry-leading solution. All starting at $27,999.

They're now making whole new product lines-- like this "Workgroup Cluster for Bioinformatics", which includes the new Xserve G5 Cluster Node, a specialized low-cost Xserve with stripped-down components and a cluster-optimized airflow design (a life-support system for two more CPUs for the pool, really)-- around what appear to be highly focused customer initiatives. This one's clearly aimed at the BLAST market, which is currently providing Apple with most of its high-performance cluster-computing specs. And the Cluster Node itself is designed for things like university clusters, workgroups, and render farms (hellooo, Pixar).

Some people just find the kind of cool that Apple technology brings to the table to be nigh-irresistible. I mean, just look at iNquiry, a "scalable informatics tool" for biologists that is designed to be deployed in minutes onto a ready-made cluster of Xserves... from an iPod.

Clearly Apple wouldn't be throwing its weight behind fully realized integrated products like the $28K Bioinformatics box without the potential for a major market coup. Somehow I get the feeling that Apple's been making certain inroads into the rackmount server space, not with its story for traditional server applications (though that is hard to dismiss), but with its story for technical and scientific number-crunching capacity.

Once again, they'll be looking at tackling the market from the top down. Hey, it's what they're used to.

Thursday, January 8, 2004
01:28 - Material Science

(top)
Steven Den Beste is in the middle of a series of long essays regarding the nature of philosophical thought, of both the idealist and the realist varieties. As it happens, by coincidence, I'm in the middle of reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything-- a fairly lightweight tome on the technical details of cosmology and quantum theory and such, but one that does a pretty good job of covering all the bases... and a better one still at tying them all together in a coherent narrative with fascinating historical relevance. (I hadn't known anything, for example, about Sir Humphry Davy and his early-1800s work in identifying many key elements-- including alumium, to whose name he added an extra n four years after discovering it, which American scientists adopted readily-- but the Brits later decided they didn't like the word and added another i to the name. So take that, aluminium proponents!)

What's interesting, though, is the characterization in Den Beste's analyses of science as (at least in part) a realist's game. Engineers naturally get to be the most realistic ones of all, since by definition the things they propose have to be put into practice. But scientists are just engineers who work on paper, and should therefore think more or less like engineers do, right?

Bryson's book reminds me that no, science can easily be seen as just as arcane and idealistic as any of the "intellectual" disciplines so readily mocked in Den Beste's examples. After all, the history of modern science-- from Copernicus onward-- is a long tale of the battle between idealistic contemplations on the nature of the Universe, and the occasional realistic glimpses into the actual nature that our most gifted minds give us from time to time. We all wanted to believe in the model of the atom with three little electrons zipping around the nucleus in neat circular orbits, right? It's only grudgingly that we attempt to wrap our minds around things like wave/particle duality and p-orbitals and "spin". We wish the Universe would resolve itself into neat and elegant laws that we can understand in simple terms that relate to each other without our having to develop new vocabulary; but that seems not to be our destiny. (Even Einstein couldn't unify macro-scale and quantum-scale physics, obsess over it though he did for decades.) On only some occasions do we get to see something as conceptually elegant-- in the engineering sense-- as the periodic table of the elements. Such solutions are rare. For much else of the time, theoretical physics consists of so much hand-waving and refusal to think too hard about any given problem.

On the Standard Model of subatomic particles:

It is all, as you can see, just a little unwieldy, but it is the simplest model that can explain all that happens in the world of particles. Most particle physicists feel, as Leon Lederman remarked in a 1985 PBS documentary, that the Standard Model lacks elegance and simplicity. "It is too complicated. It has too many arbitrary parameters," Lederman said. "We don't really see the creator twiddling twenty knobs to set twenty parameters to create the universe as we know it." Physics is really nothing more than a search for ultimate simplicity, but so far all we have is a kind of elegant messiness-- or as Lederman put it: "There is a deep feeling that the picture is not beautiful."

And a page later, after describing a treatise by the estimable Michio Kaku on superstring theory:

Matters in physics have now reached such a pitch that, as Paul Davies noted in Nature, it is "almost impossible for the non-scientist to discriminate between the legitimately weird and the outright crackpot."

Precisely the ideological conflict that Den Beste has been talking about.

I can think wryly about the cynically satirical intro to Science Made Stupid: science, it claims, is "a way to obtain fat government grants" and "a way of baffling the uninitiated with incomprehensible jargon".

Surely I take natural exception to these characterizations, since after all this is the area in which my own education lies. But I can't help but think that there's some truth to it. I know why I ended up leaning toward an engineering degree rather than a theoretical physics degree. See, in the middle of your freshman year, each Caltech student is supposed to choose between "practical track" and "analytical track" (or prac and anal, as we liked to call them); these tracks led us into engineering/applied physics and theoretical physics, respectively. It was very difficult, once that decision was made, for a student to jump from one track to the other, and more so as time went on. (I never regretted my choosing prac track, for the record. It meant not getting to study with the likes of Kip Thorne, but you can't have everything. Where would you put it?)

And now that I look back on it, where for all the tedium of the frustrating lab work we had to do (this classic gem being a prime example, albeit from another campus) I could just as easily have been sitting in deep leather chairs in old vaulted libraries postulating about whether, as Dennis Overbye said, an electron can be said to exist before you observe it-- a very solipsistic view of the Universe, if you ask me-- I'm just as happy with where I ended up, thanks.

From the Rutherford atom to the "ether" to the geocentric Universe, science has had a very philosophically idealistic history. The past century has seen science become more and more accessible as we learn more and more of its secrets, and more and more of its formerly incomprehensible jargon has become part of our daily discourse. (At MacWorld today, I pointed at the "pitch bend" knob on one of the M-Audio keyboards on display, and said, "Hey, pitch bend-- isn't that what the Curies discovered uranium in?" And the Apple employee on duty guffawed heartily, and then sheepishly confessed that he found it really disturbing that he'd gotten it.)

But there's always the danger of science veering off into the ineffable again. I'm a little worried that we're on the verge of the same thing happening. Den Beste quotes C.P. Snow thus:

Scientific topics receiving prominent play in newspapers and magazines over the past several years include molecular biology, artificial intelligence, artificial life, chaos theory, massive parallelism, neural nets, the inflationary universe, fractals, complex adaptive systems, superstrings, biodiversity, nanotechnology, the human genome, expert systems, punctuated equilibrium, cellular automata, fuzzy logic, space biospheres, the Gaia hypothesis, virtual reality, cyberspace, and teraflop machines. Among others. There is no canon or accredited list of acceptable ideas. The strength of the third culture is precisely that it can tolerate disagreements about which ideas are to be taken seriously. Unlike previous intellectual pursuits, the achievements of the third culture are not the marginal disputes of a quarrelsome mandarin class: they will affect the lives of everybody on the planet.

Some will, sure. I don't doubt that things like neural nets and nanotech will become engineering problems, and therefore relevant to everyday life through natural product evolution. But what about stuff like string theory and the inflationary Universe and such? We learn the basics of these on the Science channel, but they aren't as relevant to our lives as the atom bomb was. Nor are they likely to be. Things are branching out, growing more byzantine. With the tendency toward the esoteric and abstract comes the tendency toward anal-track jargon.

Why all this musing? Do I disagree with Den Beste or with Snow? Nah. I just wanted to get a few thoughts down on paper, since the serendipity of all these things crossing my field of vision at once just seemed too interesting not to comment on. And much as I'd like for science to be as divorced as possible from disciplines that talk about "deconstruction and signifiers and arguments about whether cyberspace was or was not 'narrative'," I have to say with some disappointment that I don't think it's as far from that pole as it could be.

Long Live the Engineers.

UPDATE and random thought: Many people seem to be under the erroneous assumption that engineers love saying it depends, because we say it so much. Really, we don't. But we recognize that it's the only way to give a correct answer to most technical questions. We'd love it if we could explain things in simpler terms, but most often we just can't if we're trying to be accurate. Engineers vastly prefer correct answers over pleasing answers. It's when an answer is both correct and pleasing that we like it the best-- that's what elegance is.


23:24 - Critical Mass?

(top)
Lots of stuff happening in Mac land lately. Yyyyyep.

If I didn't know better, I'd say there's a change in the weather afoot. At least, my ol' trick knees been sayin' so. Never do know when to trust it or not.

But I can usually trust news stories sent to me by vigilant readers. Looking through my inbox over the last two or three days, I'm struck by what seems to be a wholesale industry-wide diplomatic lurch in Apple's direction. Normally it's Apple vs. The World, Apple with its stubbornly proprietary solutions versus the rest of the world's defaulting to the prevailing breeze. But is that starting to change?

Take, for example, this story sent by Kenny B: HP is planning to resell OEM'ed iPods, and preload iTunes on their PCs.

HP expects to begin shipping its own iPod this summer at what the company calls a "competitive price". In addition, the company will produce its own branded version of Apple's iTunes jukebox software that connects to Apple's iTunes Music Store.

HP plans on pre-installing iTunes software on all of its consumer PCs and notebooks. According to internal HP research, more than half of its consumer PC customers download music.

They could have partnered with Dell, or Rio, or Creative, or any other portable player makers-- all of whom support WMA music-- just as they could have gone with BuyMusic.com or Napster or any of the other WMA-based music stores. But they haven't. Instead, they're throwing in their lot with Apple. Apple has said, Who will stand with me? Who? --And after a long, awkward, and shameful beat, HP has stepped forward: I will.

And look who else has joined them: RealNetworks, in a story sent by Aziz.

Net multimedia company RealNetworks announced a sweeping overhaul of its digital audio and video software Wednesday, along with a digital song store aimed to compete with Apple Computer's leading iTunes service.


Real is betting that the flexibility of its RealPlayer 10 music-playing software--thelatest entry in an increasingly crowded digital-download market--will distinguish it from rival stores and software packages.

To this end, the company has created a jukebox that will play all the media formats used by its own and other song stores--including secure downloads from the iTunes store.

...

On the audio front, Real is substantially updating its technology in several ways.


Songs sold in the music store will be distributed in the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, an open standard developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), rather than a proprietary RealNetworks format. However, they'll be wrapped in Real's own Helix digital rights management technology, which will limit the number of players or other software applications they can be used in.

...

That support for iTunes songs is likely to prove controversial. However, Real says it has tapped into the workings of Apple's well-publicized QuickTime technology without any need to break through the digital rights management features that protect iTunes songs against unauthorized distribution.


Instead, RealPlayer 10 essentially triggers the QuickTime and iTunes content-authorization process in the background, instead of breaking through it. That means that a computer must already have iTunes installed, and be authorized to play a given song, in order for the iTunes song to play in RealNetworks' software.

"We don't believe in violating digital rights management," said Ryc Brownigg, general manager of Real's consumer products. "We work with copyright holders, and we make digital rights management software ourselves."

In other words, the big news here isn't that Real is competing with Apple-- that's no news. What's new is that Real is implicitly siding with Apple, opting for the AAC format that previously was only used in iTunes and the iPod. This amounts to the first big endorsement by a monster player in the digital media field for Apple's technology versus Microsoft's, heretofore the default choice for everybody but Apple. Real has evidently acknowledged the reality of the iPod being where it's at for digital music players, and iTunes being a foolish thing not to get behind when it comes to music management and downloads. So AAC it is.

I was at MacWorld today, and though I missed seeing Mike (due to scheduling mishaps, dangit), I did get to spend quite a bit of time with several friends poring over GarageBand and (over at the Guitar Center booth) Soundtrack and Logic, the upmarket tools to which a GarageBand user will graduate. Soundtrack, the sales guys explained, is all about looping; it's not so much a composing tool as just a thing where you can mix loops to your heart's content, essentially creating new music without having recorded any input yourself. But Logic, by Emagic (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple), is the Final Cut Pro of music composition, whereas CakeWalk is the Premiere. Apparently if you're seriously in the music business, it's all about Logic-- which is no longer available for Windows. Their booth dudes said, in fact, that when they got word that Apple was buying them and discontinuing their Windows product, they all heaved sighs of relief, because they knew how awful it was to try to support their software on Windows. Now they can focus on making the software better, not slogging through support issues caused by Registry instabilities and the like. I don't know how much of this was spontaneous and heartfelt, and how much was party-line propaganda; but frankly, I have never seen so dedicated and enthusiastic a group of software guys. These fellas mean it. They got so excited talking to us about the products that we stood there watching them demo it for over an hour, before leaving with a copy of the $200 entry-level toolkit for Van.

(And in the course of the conversation. Sinbad walked up to the booth. Sinbad. The comic. It said "Sinbad" right on his badge. There he was, the dude himself, there as a happy Mac-addicted show attendee. Just walking around, putting tchotchkes in his bag, talking to sales guys. Sinbad. He's fat now.)

And my friends got to play with things they hadn't seen before, like Exposé. And as J Greely points out, Windows is getting into the act on that front. Well, of course they are; it's too cool a feature for them not to. Apparently some third-party developer has come up with a workalike, which they're selling for $10 in a box. According to the Flash demo, it kinda works the same as Exposé-- but not quite. Windows don't slide off the screen in "Desktop" mode; they just disappear (like when you click the "desktop" icon in Windows). When application windows tile, the rest of the windows don't fade into the background, they just disappear. And you apparently can't zap from one tiling mode to another-- the super-cool Minority Report interface. It's another of those "nice try" things. Like the Windows implementation of the Dock that some guys tried a while back.

(And I have to imagine that it's only a matter of days before Apple's lawyers jump on "WinExposé" and make 'em change the name.)

These are features of Mac OS X that are so undeniably useful that rather than even trying to do them better, Windows developers are spending all their effort points doing their level best just to emulate the Mac. There's no mockery going on here, just a tacit acknowledgment that the Mac's interface keeps shaming Windows at every turn, and they'd better hop to it and get the same features in place on Windows-- some way or another-- or live in the grim knowledge that there are things they're just missing out on. Sometimes they don't quite "get it"-- ending up with cargo-cult interfaces that work like the Mac but without the unity of UI design that makes it all seem so seamless in the original article-- but they're gamely keeping at it.

Or giving up, and-- like one of my PC-using friends-- perusing the halls of MacWorld, telling me in the car on the way home that he was blown away by how much more effort clearly went into the polish and fit and finish of all the Mac versions of his familiar Windows apps, and how everything just looks better, works better, and feels better. More and more, I find that I'm actually playing devil's advocate, reminding these guys that there are downsides to using the Mac-- fewer games, fewer compatibility options, no ASX movies, no iPaq syncing. But they don't want to hear about it. They're smitten.

The Mac, it seems to me, has officially shed its pariah status. Steve has done himself proud over the last six years. Nice job, sir.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004
11:29 - The Politics of Nice

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Damien had some comments on my post from a couple of days ago about the Left's commitment to being "nice" above all else:

I think the Left is having such a hard time because the right has co-opted idealism. And idealism is a big part of nice, so they've somewhat lost the nice, and they aren't happy about it. Mostly, they are confused. "But, *we're* the nice ones - how can those mean repugs be freeing people in Iraq? How can they be deposing evil people like Saddam Hussein when *we're* the nice ones???" It's a real problem for them, but they are so brilliant they can easily postmodernize their way through it and come up with some twisted, convoluted logic where they are still idealistic and nice. But, it must be convoluted because they really have lost idealism. Their only real idealism now - environmentalism - is based on junk science. Ouch.

Speaking of idealism, I suspect I'll be pointing a lot of people at this post by Den Beste on the subject of the three factions fighting this long-term war. In part it's the age-old ideological struggle between those who think humans need shepherding and those who think humans can be their own damn shepherds; but now there's a new third force in the mix, one that we're all having trouble coming to terms with being there.

The parties have essentially switched - not policies, but in spirit. I've always been an idealist, and I am right at home in the current internationalist policies - freeing the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. I am not secretly evil, trying to take over their lands - I am genuinely nice and want people to have good lives, even if they had the misfortune to be born in the Middle East. I believe you share some of the same sentiments. It's the same reason I offer drunk people rides home from parties (if I am safely able to drive myself) or offer to lend my tools to my neighbors or stop to give people a jump start.

I like to think of myself as a realist-- it's the engineer in me. But above all I'm practical. If an ideology or a way of thinking has no use for me, I can't bring myself to waste time on it. But I'm known to allow a discussion to go on for months and months without my letting the other person know I loathe his ideas, because I find there's profit in the remainder of the conversation, the common ground. I'm into long-term solutions, and I'm willing to play the diplomacy game to curry favor from both sides of a disagreement so I can bring about harmony if possible. (How French of me.) But that's a part of practicality, to me. If by compromising or hiding my most deeply felt beliefs in the short term I can bring about an amiable and mutually beneficial result in the long term, I think it's worth it. I'd give a drunk friend a ride home instead of bugging out of there and staying away from him, because of practical impulses, not idealistic ones.

Maximizing happiness, in myself and the people around me, is a goal both for the practical and idealistic sides of the mind.

On a personal level, the liberals I live near are very nice, just the type of people I like to hang around with. However their politics have been dictated from the national level, and no longer align with the good-hearted people they are. It must be quite upsetting to have it thrown in their face by such a cretin as Bush, yet there it is - smiling Iraqis, Saddam - not Karl Rove - being frog marched.

Yeah. And just as the Islamists can't seem to imagine why all their piety hasn't earned them success like America's, the Left can't understand how the cold-hearted conservatives can possibly have it in them to be compassionate. The Islamists react by assuming that America succeeds because it's in league with the devil (and/or the Jews, whether or not that's redundant); and the Left reacts by assuming that Bush and co. must have ulterior motives. "Sure," they'll say, "Freeing Iraq was ultimately good for Iraqis. But come on... do you seriously expect us to believe that Republicans freed them just out of the goodness of their hearts?"

Uh, yeah. You expect us to believe that progressive taxes create jobs. Spooky.

It's true, the pro-war contingent does have other motives than the freedom of Iraqis in mind-- or at least, other aspects of that same goal. The long-term solution we're hoping for is a lust for freedom and democracy taking hold in the Middle East-- by gum a cause to fight for, against their own dictators, about which they can get just as incensed as they currently do over jihad. Only if their goal is personal temporal happiness and freedom rather than the death of the Americans and Jews, then the successful completion of that goal is in our interest and that of the world, not to our detriment. And we believe it'll be in their interest as well, if our own experience is any guide.

Talk about win-win. The only thing that has to lose out is fundamentalism. Tough thing for the Left to have to admit it can't get behind.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004
22:44 - Photo of the Day
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/005612.php

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Check out this photo. And Tim Blair's commentary above.

Geez, I'm in stitches over here...


22:06 - Oh, you smartasses...
http://www.apple.com/hardware/ads/1984/1984_480.html

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Oddly, I'd never actually seen the full 1984 ad before. I'd seen pictures from it, and I'd seen shortened versions, and grainy recordings on second- and third-generation retrospectives and such.

But I'm pretty sure this wasn't part of the original... was it?



You.... you guys. I love you guys.


20:34 - Dude, want a Dell?

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We can't give this thing away!

Lance and I both descended on Van's apartment today with the Dell in its shipping box; it had gone from our stairwell into my trunk, then to work, and then over to the apartment after Lance had already gotten there.

After putting the Dell on the counter, the conversation for the following hour was not about it at all, but about the potential purchase of a 12" PowerBook (which can slave-monitor Van's huge CRT) and GarageBand.

Thursday I'll be going up to MacWorld (there to meet up with Mike); I'll drag Van along with me, so we can see GarageBand up close and personal and verify that it's the CakeWalk-killer that it claims to be. And thereby to verify whether the Mac is the way Van's computing future shall go. (It'll be one more person brought into the intoxicating shared mass hallucination that is MacWorld; once you've felt the fizz, you can never truly claim virginity.)

And the Dell left with us, still unopened.

I had a brief vision of going from door to door in the apartment complex, ringing doorbells and yelling Dude! You're gettin' a Dell! to every hapless soul who opened the door. And getting rebuffed at every turn: No way, man! We're buyin' Macs! A silly vision, but a lasting one.

At least, I'm still giggling. But that proves nothing.


12:23 - Merry Christmas! How'd you like some crap?

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So Steve just gave his keynote for this year's MacWorld. And though I didn't get to see it very well (the video stream kept freezing and cutting out), I got the gist of it. The gist in question is that this is going to be one helluva year for Mac-based musicians.

The big news is GarageBand, which is supposed to be what kicks CakeWalk into the gutter and pees all over it. Any USB or MIDI keyboard can plug into your Mac and do full MIDI mixing, audio track recording, and a whole bunch of stuff that I don't understand much, seeing's how I'm no musician. (Well, not these days, anyway.) However, one thing Steve said I found very interesting: he quoted a statistic that 50% of American households have at least one member who is an active musician. As in, currently plays an instrument-- not just "played trumpet once in junior high". Playing it right now. This from the country that has no culture, huh?

So right now I have a Dell in the back of my car. I'm going to be taking it over to a friend's house this afternoon, to give it to him as a late Xmas present, because his existing computer sucks so much. Get this. The reasons he wants to use a computer are as follows: 1) To listen to music; 2) to use an iPod; 3) to use CakeWalk for his MIDI music. I've been spending the past three weeks fighting with his machine trying to get it to play nice with my old iPod, and to use iTunes (which it does okay at), though his old copy of CakeWalk may not install. So here I come with this new Dell to give him, which will come as a great shock to him when I show up on his doorstep.

To top it all off, while he's spent the past few weeks in the dark about this, he's been discovering Macs. Browsing the websites, gaping at the features, ogling and drooling, finding out about student discounts, everything. And now, just as though to pound me between the eyes with a red hot irony, Steve has neatly removed CakeWalk from the picture as a reason why I should be giving the guy this Dell in the first place.

I'll show up at his door: "Hi! How'd you like exactly the opposite of what you need?"

Or maybe I'll just bury it in a hole and tell him all about GarageBand.


Anyway, there's also this: the "iPod mini". 4GB hard-drive based, the size of a business card, half an inch thick, and comes in anodized colors. Designed to go after the high-end Flash player market, the Rios and things that sell for $199 or so. But the price? $250. Yuck. I was hoping they'd be able to undercut the competition a bit. But considering that the competition in question is flash-based players capable of holding only 60 or so songs, $50 is perhaps a reasonable premium to pay. (And for $50 more, you can get a 15GB regular iPod.)

Then again, Rio (or whatever the company is called) seems to have just released its own 4GB, $250 player, though its website doesn't seem to have been updated. 2,000 songs and 16-hour battery life? Well, yeah, but it's not an iPod.

Oh, and with GarageBand, you can export your track straight into iTunes and thence onto your iPod. The promo video showed Cheryl Crow doing effectively that; and if those 50% of American households have musicians who are even moderately adept at composing music, we've just witnessed the birth of the direct artist-to-listener music market, bypassing not only the distributors and the labels, but the recording studios too.

We'll see how well this works out.

UPDATE: Incidentally, I'm a little annoyed that the iPod mini has ring buttons-- just like the old regular iPods. This is great. What they've done, apparently, is made the touch-pad wheel so that it rocks on top of the buttons, which click underneath the surface of the wheel. So it's still watertight and everything, but now it's back to the old spatial elegance of the ring buttons.

What annoys me is that the current generation of regular iPods has that row of indistinguishable round control buttons, which I'm still working on getting used to. It's okay, I guess, but I'd much prefer it if they'd been able to work in these new multi-layered ring buttons. Ah well-- fourth-gen iPods, right?

UPDATE: So there's this Pepsi promo, too. Did I hear that right? One in three Pepsi bottles will have a valid free-song code under the cap? That's got to be the most genuine value ever offered in one of these promo things. Usually it's like, every 10,000th bottle gets, I don't know, a free drink at Burger King or something. But a free iTunes song for a third of all Pepsi bottles? This'll be huge.

Monday, January 5, 2004
00:18 - RealUltimateMajority
http://www.spankbush.com/

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Wow. You know, for a fascist police state in which the slightest dissent from the prevailing party line is brutally suppressed with random midnight disappearings and torture, the jack-booted brown-shirts sure do give us an extraordinary amount of latitude, don't they?



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