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



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, February 1, 2004
02:52 - Share the Dearth
http://www.whatacrappypresent.com

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Well, this is just lovely, isn't it? So very heartwarming.

This, and its parent site, make me wonder just how eerily appropriate the title "Downhill Battle" really is. To wit, it's so tempting to sympathize with the file-sharing grass-roots communities, isn't it? Theirs is such a worthy cause. The filthy corporate whores of the RIAA may have the letter of the law on their side, but we all know the Internet has changed all the rules of copyright and information and creativity forever, right?

Well, this is where that downward slope-- as slippery as it is-- leads us:

PEPSI IS ABOUT TO DUMP 100 million free iTunes songs into circulation. During the Super Bowl, they'll be launching a promotion that gives you a 1 in 3 chance of winning a free iTunes song under the bottlecap of a Pepsi. Those 100 million caps could theoretically mean 65 million dollars for record labels and musicians (that's what's left after Apple's cut).

But we have a hunch that most Pepsi drinkers won't bother to download and install iTunes just to get a single song. To help remedy the situation, we are announcing the Tune Recycler which lets people donate their unwanted iTunes codes, which we will redeem. Of course, we would never send Pepsi's money to the big five labels (that would be a little incestuous, don't you think?). We'll be using the codes to buy music from independent labels. We're going to pick single albums and buy them over and over-- each purchase sends a little cash to some cool people.

So charming. So populist. So forward-thinking. So egalitarian.

It's for the artists' own good that they're tearing down the only hope the music industry's infrastructure has of surviving the transition into the digital future. It's for the artists' own good that these people can't compromise. Hell, they have all the power; they have the bludgeon. The genie is out of the bottle, and it's theirs to command, and they know it. Why should they compromise?

It all sounds so heartfelt and selfless. Too bad it all boils down to nothing more honorable than wanting to keep getting stuff for free.


11:49 - Helpful E-mailing Tips

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Here's a lesson in how not to begin an e-mail to me:

Good daytime, my name's Tavu and I am under severe circumstances claiming your assistance.

Now, as luck would have it, this message goes on to become an actual on-topic piece of correspondence for me to answer. But the e-mailer will probably never know how close his message came to going reflexively into the "Nigerian Spam" bucket...

Saturday, January 31, 2004
00:31 - Train wreck of a nation
http://www.arabnews.com/?page=4§ion=0&article=38880&d=31&m=1&y=2004

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What must it be like to live in France?

Where Nazi slogans appear on WWI cemeteries and Jewish schools are firebombed, and there's always empathy for the perpetrators above action against it? Where capitulation is the prescribed treatment for any social or cultural disagreement-- where it becomes forbidden to sell pork in major chain supermarkets, while McDonald's outlets become gang-occupied strongholds in street warfare that outguns the police?

Where a Muslim immigrant population that makes up a third of France's under-18 demographic harasses and rapes women in the walled suburban projects, but the government thinks it's a useful gesture to try to ban headscarves in public schools?

And where slaughterhouses televise mass butchery because of a "right" demanded as part of a religious ritual?

The Paris suburb of Evry, which has one of France’s largest Muslim populations, has decided to install video screens to enable the local faithful to watch some 3,300 sheep being slaughtered for Eid this year.

The televised ritual slaughter which will take place in a large mobile abattoir is the idea of a local meat wholesaler.

“If the idea succeeds this year then it’s likely to become a permanent fixture of Eids in future,” a local municipal spokesman said.

Meanwhile, at Le Mans, west of Paris, the local authorities have decided to build a “hard” structure in which the sheep belonging to local Muslims can be killed.

“If this works out,” says an official for the prefecture which is overseeing the development, “then it’s an idea that will probably be tried elsewhere in France.”

The new approach to the slaughter of the Eid sheep comes after years of difficulties for French Muslims who, having bought a sheep for Eid, thought it was their right to see them killed in a local slaughterhouse.

What must it be like inside the average French person's brain? Behind what must be a mask of a fixed, quivering, teary-eyed grin? Happy, happy, happy! ... But what will PETA think? But non! We must do everything to make all cultures happy! But... the animals! But-- freedom of religion! But... secular society! But... France's traditional valu--aaaauurrghhh! POP!


22:26 - His boots are ivory, his hat is ivory, and I'm pretty sure that TOWER is ivory
http://cognocentric.blogspot.com/2004_01_25_cognocentric_archive.html#10755528400720

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Well, well. It seems that not every college student in the country is a complete raving nutbar. There are in fact some out there who are articulate, forthright, and willing to point out the hypocrisy in a prevailing campus atmosphere that so perversely shuts down all dissenting opinion in the very name of "free speech".

On Monday, January 26th, 2003, a debate about the Iraq War was held out in the hallways. While there was strong anti-war support, there were a few individuals, such as myself, who believed the war was justified. Those individuals, who believed that there was such justification, were badgered, and silenced by one person, because their opinions differed from her own. Even those who unsuccessfully tried to moderate the discussion were criticized viciously for having done so.

Because I was not allowed to openly say my piece, I expressed myself in an alternative form- writing. I put a three page paper on my door (largely derived from the online journal, “USS Clueless”) [Stephen denBeste -ed.] that for the most part, outlined, why I believed that there was a need to remove Saddam, and the Baathist party in Iraq; and also reform sects of the Arab culture (such as the Wahabi) that have long supported terrorism by all means. These three pages have caused quite a stir on the hall. So much so that:

· someone removed the three pages from my door

· I have been called (possibly by the same person who removed the paper from my door) a racist, a fascist

· those who stuck by me were repeatedly vilified for doing so.

I have reposted my opinion on my door, only to have it torn down again and again.

But now it's on the Web, and it deserves to be read by more open-minded heads than those tragicomical figures in her hall.


22:12 - What I Did Today

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I was here:



I've said it before and I'll say it again: Having a roommate with a private pilot's license kicks ass.

And so does Yosemite, covered in late-January snow, on a crisp cold day where the clouds break over the foothills to give flyers-by a perfect panorama suitable for filling up whole Flash cards with photos. (Plenty more where this came from.)

The trip was a fairly exciting one, too. Columbia airport, in the foothills east of Stockton, is a hideous bitch goddess. Crosswinds of 15 knots made it impossible to line up accurately on the runway without losing rudder authority, so after two go-arounds we moved on to Oakdale, on much flatter valley ground. And thence a straight shot home. Yeah, mountain flying is cool-- but so is getting home in one piece.

I may get some nice high-quality iPhoto prints of a few of these photos. My brother might like some of them...

Friday, January 30, 2004
17:29 - I've seen things, I've seen them with my EYES

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As thoroughly insane and mind-melting as this is, somehow I think this is even worse.

Kuala Lumpur... you know, Simpsons references show up in the damnedest places, don't they?

EYES!

16:16 - Hey! Me too!
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0672326124/qid=1075507781/sr=1-2/ref=s

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Woo-hoo! It's here!

And it sure did take its sweet time, huh? Panther was released in late October, and within a couple of weeks David Pogue already had a book out on it. How in the name of high holy hell did he write it so fast? Especially since the UI wasn't ready for screenshots until early October at the latest? That's why I had no fewer than three weeks' work beyond the release date just trying to get all the screenshots done. Now, the Apple Stores all have Panther books of all types, from this series and that series, and even one from another series by the same publishing company as mine. (Huh?!) I'm jostling for space, instead of being first out of the gate.

But if there's one lesson I'm learning from all this, it's that the world of Mac tech publishing moves very damned fast. Why, a few days ago-- not two weeks after iLife '04 was released-- O'Reilly published a 56-page PDF pamphlet on iLife '04 which is freely downloadable. It's instant documentation! Quite an industry we got here.

I'd originally submitted a TOC with 33 chapters; after I'd written and submitted them all, I was told that it came in at nearly 700 pages, and there was a hard 500-page limit. Besides which, as I was unaware, there's an iLife in a Snap book being done at the same time by another author, and it covers everything four of my chapters did, in yet more detail. So I had to combine those four chapters into one big mega-chapter on iLife, liberally spattered with references to the other book, and covering only the high points of the (then) four iApps-- which still entails quite a lot. (I also had to cram in things like QuickTime and image conversion and DVD playback into that chapter, which is about the only place they fit.) After all the hacking and slashing and consolidating and wholesale culling, I was down to 19 chunky chapters straining at the seams of the covers.

I just got my copy last night, and it ended up looking a lot better than I'd dared hope. It's very densely packed; they got it down to 600 pages (that's 600 exactly, including the insides of the front and back covers, which have actual content on them), and the illustrations came out nice and bold. Capri is featured front and center on lots of pages, as are various friends.

It's my first solo, and I think I'll pop me a Diet Coke in celebration. Huzzah!

Oh: The woman on the front? I believe her name is Joanne Royalty Free.


11:44 - Getting there
http://www.world66.com/myworld66/visitedStates

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I'm still working on the South. One of these days!

Thursday, January 29, 2004
11:32 - FBI: "Get a Mac"
http://www.securityfocus.com/cgi-bin/sfonline/columnists-item.pl?id=215

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This has been popping up in various places. It's quite a good read, eliciting many a tired smile from anybody who's ever tried to educate a friend or loved one about the importance of computer security (or from anyone who's spent the morning cleaning out 500 copies of the MooreTurd virus, or whatever it's called).

It's not every day that I have an FBI agent who's also a computer security expert come speak to my class, so I invited other students and friends to come hear him speak. On the night of Dave's talk, we had a nice cross-section of students, friends, and associates in the desks of my room, several of them "computer people," most not.

Dave arrived and set his laptop up, an IBM ThinkPad A31. He didn't connect to the Internet - too dangerous, and against regulations, if I recall - but instead ran his presentation software using movies and videos where others would have actually gone online to demonstrate their points. While he was getting everything ready, I took a look at the first FBI agent I could remember meeting in person.

Dave is from Tennessee, and you can tell. He's got a southern twang to his voice that disarms his listeners. He talks slowly, slightly drawling his vowels, and it sort of takes you in, making you think he's not really paying attention, and then you realize that he knows exactly what he's doing, and that he's miles ahead of you. He wears a tie, but his suit is ready to wear and just a bit wrinkled. His dark hair is longer than you'd think, hanging below his collar, further accentuating the country-boy image, but remember, this country boy knows his stuff. All in all, he gives off the air of someone who's busy as heck, too busy to worry about appearances, and someone who's seen a lot of things in his time.

So what does this country boy have to say about security? We-hell:

Dave had some surprises up his sleeve as well. You'll remember that I said he was using a ThinkPad (running Windows!). I asked him about that, and he told us that many of the computer security folks back at FBI HQ use Macs running OS X, since those machines can do just about anything: run software for Mac, Unix, or Windows, using either a GUI or the command line. And they're secure out of the box. In the field, however, they don't have as much money to spend, so they have to stretch their dollars by buying WinTel-based hardware. Are you listening, Apple? The FBI wants to buy your stuff. Talk to them!

Dave also had a great quotation for us: "If you're a bad guy and you want to frustrate law enforcement, use a Mac." Basically, police and government agencies know what to do with seized Windows machines. They can recover whatever information they want, with tools that they've used countless times. The same holds true, but to a lesser degree, for Unix-based machines. But Macs evidently stymie most law enforcement personnel. They just don't know how to recover data on them. So what do they do? By and large, law enforcement personnel in American end up sending impounded Macs needing data recovery to the acknowledged North American Mac experts: the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Evidently the Mounties have built up a knowledge and technique for Mac forensics that is second to none.

(I hope I'm not helping increase the number of sales Apple has to drug trafficers.)

No, but you sure gave a boost to our image of the Mounties! Dudley Do-Right goes Mac-hackin'. I love it. We always get our Mac!

Okay, I'll stop now. But the article is plenty entertaining, even aside from that section. Well worth a read.

UPDATE: Oh, one more, thing, from an anonymous tipster.

Here's how Microsoft recommends you protect yourself from malicious URL-spoofing, phishing, and other spam-scam tricks:

The most effective step that you can take to help protect yourself from malicious hyperlinks is not to click them. Rather, type the URL of your intended destination in the address bar yourself. By manually typing the URL in the address bar, you can verify the information that Internet Explorer uses to access the destination Web site. To do so, type the URL in the Address bar, and then press ENTER.

Now that's the wave of the future right there. Good going, Microsoft.


11:12 - What's wrong with this picture?

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Israel releases more than 470 Palestinian terrorists from prison, in exchange for a few corpses of IDF soldiers and a businessman who may or may not be alive.

On the same day, a Palestinian policeman blows up a bus in Jerusalem, killing ten and wounding fifty.

It's clearly Israel's fault. And the natural outgrowth of poverty and desperation.

What? You say my logic doesn't hold? You say the Jews aren't monsters who deserve to be killed no matter what they do? What are you, some kind of Nazi?

%^&$%^.

10:20 - Go to the source
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/archives/2004_01_01_iraqthemodel_archive.html#10753

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You know... in all the rhetoric over Iraq that has come from the Left and from various Presidential candidates, there's something that seems very conspicuously absent.

Namely, any indication that any of them have taken the seemingly obvious step of seeking the Iraqis' opinion of the war. It's just taken as a foregone conclusion that the Iraqis never wanted the war to happen, and that they now resent us for waging it. Any reports of cheering or jubilation-- bah. Just propaganda.

Well, Dr. Dean, I hope you're as open-minded as the Left always claims to be, because here's yet another of the long string of testimonials straight from the mind of an Iraqi that wonders just what the hell people like you are smoking. What's more, this guy is responding directly to you.

I’m not going to comment about the rightness of the statement with more than saying that only a (blind) man would believe it and only a man blinded by his ambitions would dare to say it, but when you say such words, don’t you mean in other words that the sacrifices made by the American soldiers are all in vain? And that these soldiers are not doing a service to the world, nor to Iraqis and not to America. In fact you are saying that since they didn’t do the world, America or us a favour then they’re only doing a favour to GWB and his administration.

Don’t you agree that by saying those words you accuse the American soldiers of one of two charges each of which is worse than the other;
You are saying that, either they are stupid enough to sacrifice their lives for the sake of GWB political future, or they are evil people who love fighting and killing and they are doing this only for money, in other words they’re no more than mercenaries. Saying that you only disagree with the way this issue is handled will also not change the fact that you are only harming your men and women on the battlefield.

By statements like these you deny any honourable motives for the great job your people are doing here. How in your opinion will this affect the morale of your soldiers? Feeling that their people back at home don’t support them and that they’re abandoned to fight alone in the battlefield.

And all of this for what? For staying in the white house for 4 or 8 years? Is it worth it?
And this is not directed only to Mr. Dean, it’s for all the Americans who support such allegations without being aware of their consequences. What’s it that you fight so hard for, showing your soldiers as s occupiers and murderers, the soldiers who I had the honour of meeting many, and when talking to some of them, I didn’t see anything other than gentleness, honesty and good will and faith in what they’re doing.

Your words and those of others were insults to the Americans, Iraqis and moreover to yourself, and I’m certain you don’t represent the number of Americans you fanaticise about.

Imagine how pissed he must be, to write an open letter to someone running for the government of a foreign country, and to make these kinds of value judgments about Americans and how much of them Dean's statements represent.

And you know, for all the talk about whether Bush is losing his base, I can't help but think that there's something missing from the debate, and that's the debates. Remember those? Kerry or Dean or Edwards or somebody is going to have to spend the year standing up on stage next to Bush, and they're going to have to debate the issues.

In past years, these debates have involved things like: One guy says how he'd improve government-covered health care as President. The other guy responds by explaining the budgetary impact and how Americans have shown they don't want it, and the other guy would rebut with his own viewpoint, blah de blah de blah. The kind of stuff that puts the sitcom audience to sleep.

But what's it gonna look like this year? Will Kerry stand up there, point at Bush, and say, "You took us to war with a fraudulent coalition"? Will Dean wave his arms and shout about how Bush sold the war based on "lies"? Will Clark call on Michael Moore randomly from the audience to ask questions about how much ooooiiil Halliburton has stolen from Iraq? I sure hope so, because Bush won't have to do a thing but stand there with his palm pressed to his forehead, shaking his head and chuckling softly, as the opponent gets dragged off-stage with a shepherd's crook. In the primaries, these guys aren't describing plans for serving Americans' interests; they're just batting around conspiracy theories, and I don't think they're equipped for the kind of shifting of gears that's going to be necessary to take on Bush on actual issues like, oh, 9/11, and the removal of regimes that Americans have wanted to see gone for over a decade.

All Bush has to do is read a few letters from Iraqi bloggers, like Ali's, and it'll be in the bag.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
18:36 - Eat oil, France
http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20040128-094014-7323r.htm

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Via InstaPundit, of course. It's aaaall about the oil.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The oil ministry papers, described by the independent Baghdad newspaper al-Mada, are apparently authentic and will become the basis of an official investigation by the new Iraqi Governing Council, the Independent reported Wednesday.

"I think the list is true," Naseer Chaderji, a governing council member, said. "I will demand an investigation. These people must be prosecuted."

Such evidence would undermine the French position before the war when President Jacques Chirac sought to couch his opposition to the invasion on a moral high ground.

If this pans out, and people I talk to still grumble about possibly moving to France to become disaffected expatriates like Fitzgerald, I'll buy them a ticket my damn self.

I wonder what these bribes looked like, incidentally? Oh, look, Saddam's here-- let's get this party started! And-- oh my God, look what he's brought! Forty million barrels of OIL! Someone get the spigots out and tap these puppies! Chug! Chug! Chug!

Bleh. Seriously, though. At least something we suspected we'd find in Iraq is finally coming to light.

UPDATE: Interestingly, though, this represents a rather less nuanced and more pedestrian (though more sensational) view of things than Steven Den Beste's thesis, which states that France (and friends) have been actively trying to thwart American power and influence in the world by creating a European political bloc to oppose us in our international endeavors, obstructing us in post-9/11 action, etc. This news suggests that they're simply motivated by money. Does it mean that if Saddam hadn't bribed Chirac, he would have supported us? How much oil did it really take to move France from a "token participant" to an outright diplomatic opponent? Or was it more like a "thank-you" note?

Neither interpretation is going to leave Chirac standing, if the right questions end up getting asked.

Oh, and now is it clear why our soldiers guarded the Oil Ministry building after April 9th, and not the Iraqi National Museum?



15:07 - "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to change the world?"
http://www.apple.com

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If only John Sculley were around to see this...



(Of course, the sweet, luscious, fizzy irony has been noted before. But now we're on the brink of the release, and a lot more people will be making these kinds of jokey observations, so I'd better at least get my hand in.)

Apple's sure feeling their oats lately, huh? A friend noted in e-mail how GarageBand seems to him to be something that "makes great demo"-- it isn't intended to alter our perceptions of reality the way iTunes and the iPod have, or even to change how we spend much of our leisure time the way iMovie did; he says GarageBand's primary purpose is to sit on computers on showroom floors and ask customers, "Is that a bulging wallet in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?"

I dunno, though. Damien Del Russo is enjoying the hell out of his copy, and J Greely has been all over GarageBand's technical minutiae (both pro and con); just keep scrolling. And of course there's MacJukebox, which appears to be growing in content faster than the admins can keep on top of their frantic lawsuit-avoiding domain-name change. And it carries breathless testimonials like:

This time, the adulation comes from Detroit Free Press columnist Mike Wendland. He wraps up his column by explaining to non-Mac folks:

"...if you've ever needed an excuse to buy a Mac, GarageBand is a pretty good one. It's that cool."

There seems to be more attention getting paid to GarageBand than a simple piece of fluffware usually gets. Let's see how long it lasts...


13:17 - Now that's good comedy
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4079086/

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Any fears that there's no mystique left in our international relations ought to be allayed by this silly Borowitz riff (at least I think it's a riff), via Dean Esmay:

Jan. 27 - North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il got his first glimpse of Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean on the evening of the Iowa caucuses last week and is now “terrified” by the former Vermont governor, associates of Kim revealed today.

According to those sources, the ruthless North Korean had spent a long, hard day reprocessing nuclear fuel rods and was looking for something relaxing to watch on TV when Dean first appeared on the screen, delivering his bizarre post-Iowa concession speech.

As Dean built to a crescendo...

Not to interrupt, but dammit! Do I have to go through this again?!

Anyway...

...Kim appeared alarmed and agitated, the sources said. “Who is that madman?” the madman reportedly asked.

According to one of Kim’s aides, “There’s only one way to describe the look on Kim’s face when he was watching Dean: pure, unadulterated terror.”

Kim’s every waking moment is now haunted by his fear of Howard Dean, the aide revealed. “At night, Kim gets out of bed and wanders the hallways in his pajamas, muttering Dean’s name,” the aide said.  “Dean really gives him the willies.”

Now that's a visual. Hey, I bet it made his hair stand on end too!

But according to Dr. Randolph Koestler, a professor of Far East Studies at the University of Minnesota, Kim’s all-consuming fear of Howard Dean could impel the brutal dictator to abandon his nuclear program if Dean is elected President.

And if Kerry is elected, or even if Bush wins, Dean should be made ambassador to North Korea. They could even dress him up like one of those weird Korean vampires with blood coming out of the corners of his mouth.

Or if nothing else, they can have a deathmatch between Dr. Scream and the Rumsfeld Strangler. How 'bout it, Frank?


11:04 - Sincerest form of flattery
http://www.winplosion.com/

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Hey, remember WinExpose? That implementation of Exposé (well, sort of) for Windows? Remember how I said it was only a matter of weeks before Steve's hired goons came a-calling to 'splain a few things about trademark infringement to them?

Well, it's happened, because they've changed their name. What are they calling it now?

WinPLOSION.

As J Greely says, "You just can't make this stuff up."

And you know, I was noticing something lately. Why do you suppose it is that all the major shareware on Windows-- all the really important pieces of software, the stuff that everybody has, the apps that people can't live without-- all have the prefix "Win" on their names? WinAmp. WinDVD Pro MX Platinum Edition (or whatever). WinZip. And now this one, which I guess they would have called "WinExplode" if Apple hadn't told them that that, too, was too close to the original for comfort.

Do modern computer users even realize what the "Win" refers to? I mean, ideally, Windows is supposed to be this invisible piece of infrastructure, right? You aren't supposed to be constantly thinking I'm using Windows!; rather, you're thinking, I'm using a computer! So what's the advantage of this "Win" prefix, as though there's a version of any of these apps for any other platform? I daresay many users don't even make the connection; to them, they're just playing a DVD on their computer, or undoing a ZIP file. What association does that have with "Windows" in their minds? It's probably more like, Oh, it's sort of like "Blue Ribbon" or "Acme" or "Best". Y'know, "Win".

I can't help but notice, either, that where you'd expect to find these platform-specific prefixes in third-party shareware-- namely, on the Mac-- they're almost nowhere to be found. On the Mac, you'd think you'd find "Mac-" versions of everything that was multi-platform, to distinguish it for the benefit of the minority platform and set it off from the main Windows edition. Indeed, back in the mid-90s, there were lots of apps whose names all started with "Mac"; there was a MacAmp way back when, and I remember supporting a browser called "MacWeb". But those are all gone now, in favor of apps with unique and "proper" style names, like Watson and Camino and Iconographer. Yet "Win" persists on Windows. I wonder why that is?

In the case of WinPLOSION/WinExpose, the answer's fairly obvious, though, isn't it? "It's Exposé... but for Windows."

I wonder how many of the other "Win" apps betray that subtext? "This app gives you a function that you're used to on other platforms or on other equipment... and simulates it under Windows. How 'bout that, huh?"

Poor guys.


10:43 - What the Internet was meant for
http://www.peggy.nu/

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I tell ya, it doesn't get any better'n this.

Penguins, a yeti, and range markers.

Wheeee!
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
18:24 - And the race is on!
http://www.mg.co.za/Content/l3.asp?ao=30179

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Who can catch Apple now? Apparently only Napster is left standing after all the other pretenders to the digital-downloads throne, and it's given Apple the ol' gauntlet-across-the-face, as Kris (who forwarded this to me) puts it.

After Apple's applications and internet service vice-president Eddy Cue made an upbeat pitch about sales on his company's $0,99-per-track iTunesstore, online competitor Napster warned music delegates to "stay-off the Apple platform".

These fighting words were issued by Chris Gorog, chairperson and chief executive of Roxio, owner of the relaunched Napster paying online music service.

Gorog tried to convince music execs they should make their record catalogues available on Napster with claims that its Windows-based PC platform is compatible with two-thirds of all the mobile music devices currently available.

I love that name, don't you? Gorog angry! Gorog say you no use Apple! You obey Gorog, or Gorog tear puny customer's head from puny customer's body! Aaaauuurrgh!

But whether Napster is being secretly headed by Howard Dean, this is a pretty silly piece of FUD. "Oh, gee, iTunes music doesn't play on 2/3 of the players out there." Hmm, that doesn't seem to have slowed down all those people for whom it doesn't matter, as they all just want iPods anyway. At the convention this weekend, out of over 2,000 attendees, I counted (just casually walking through the corridors) no fewer than thirty iPods being listened to, tacked to shirts or hanging off belts or even slithering up under big bulky costumes to have the earbuds sticking in prosthetic ears. Get with it, Napster-- the people have made their decision, and nobody's clamoring for something better.

Napster's Gorog claimed that its $9,95 monthly subscription service for unlimited downloads will become the favourite payment method, while Apple's customers are using their credit cards to pay for each 99c track oniTunes.

Credit-card payments for such small amounts could be a problem in Europe -- especially with coveted teen music consumers.

Interesting. I guess all those music stores that operated on a monthly flat fee (Rhapsody, anyone?) were such a huge success, Napster has decided that it's bound to leave iTunes floundering.

Durrr.

Okay, well, maybe Europe really is that different a place:

Old-fashioned red tape is delaying the eagerly awaited European launches for iTunes and Napster, the two popular online music stores said on Saturday.

A maze of licensing contracts, music release dates that differ by country and incompatible billing systems have combined to sidetrack the services, which many recording executives still hope will make their European debut in the first half of 2004.

"We will be here this year. I'm not going to announce the date at this time, but we are working very hard," said Eddy Cue, vice president of applications and Internet services for Apple Computer (AAPL).

Cue, one of the principal architects of Apple's iTunes, told a gathering of music and technology executives the layers of bureacracy in the European music industry were limiting the number of songs it could offer consumers here.

Like government, like industry, eh, Europe?

And as J Greely points out:

The best part, though, is the admission by the Napster spokesman that they expect $20 to $40 million in sales worldwide in a year, which is quietly compared to the over 30 million songs sold in the US through iTMS in 8 months. :-)


Napster's big trump card, the only thing it has that the other stores didn't, is its name. A name that's synonymous with illegal music sharing. A name that legal music downloaders remember as the thing they spurned, and a name that illegal file-swappers remember as the thing they never had to pay for. So why should they now? I'll be interested if they have any cred at all, and if they turn out to be capable of winning over any customers on name alone.

At any rate, this bit (from the first article) was interesting:

The other good news for the music business is that people buying online are not just snapping up current top hits, but are paying for a huge variety of tracks. A staggering 95% of iTunes's online music catalogue of 500 000 tracks have sold at least once.

Now, I remember that at the MacWorld keynote, Steve noted that some insane person had spent $29,500 on music from the iTMS since its opening. One person! (No, he said, it wasn't Bill Gates. Aww.) So maybe that's who's responsible for buying one copy of every single track in the store, even the really crappy stuff that they know nobody wants. (Him and all his rich buddies, anyway.) 95% is pretty amazing indeed.

Just think about the implications...

Monday, January 26, 2004
17:54 - Conventional Wisdom

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I was at another of those conventions this weekend, in case anybody's wondering where the devil I've been. One of those conventions where the parking lot of the hotel is filled with Saturns covered with rainbow stickers (it's a factory-installed option!) and little 80s SUVs plastered with upside-down American flags and slogans like REPEAL THE PATRIOT ACT and ONE NATION, UNDER SURVEILLANCE and IT'S THE OIL, STUPID and a blood-dripping BUSHARON and I MAY LOOK LIKE A FREAK, BUT I CAN BEAT YOU AT JEOPARDY and I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK (to which I silently respond, Yeah, well, good luck taking it away from the rest of us. See you at the polls, Scooter!)

At one of the art auctions that I attended in order to procrastinate more effectively, it was difficult not to notice that few people were in attendance, and bidding was less than energetic. People were putting up anemic bids of $15 and $20 for full sets of comic books and pieces of original art, and the best bid-baiting anybody could get to stick was to coax everybody to raise bids to the next prime number.

At one point, the auctioneer, holding up a particularly non-desirable piece of art, looked out despairingly over the crowd, who just wasn't biting. And he said, "This is all George Bush's fault!"

Which, of course, got applause and rueful laughter. And a fresh round of bids.

See, the Dow may be over 10,700, and every economic indicator in the world may be giddily positive. But here's what's infuriating.

a) People who aren't paying attention to the news are still convinced we're in a deep recession; and

b) They're sure it's all Bush's fault.

Point out to these people that the crash of the dot-com sector and the freefall of the stock market began during Clinton's term, and they'll just shake their heads and stare dumbly. Or they'll claim that if it weren't for Bush, the recession would have resolved itself much sooner.

Mention the tax cuts, and they'll sniff dismissively. "They weren't fair! And they haven't done any good!"

Point out that yes, in fact they have done a lot of good, and manufacturing expansion is at its highest level since the 1950s, and so on and so forth, and they'll say that they don't have jobs yet, so what's everybody so excited about? And anyway, the economy was bound to recover on its own. Tax cuts-- bah!

Come back in six months, when unemployment has sunk to late-90s levels or less, and the refrain will probably still be "too little, too late"-- there'll be some far more complex and less compelling argument made than "Tax cuts => economic recovery". And yet it'll be what's on everybody's lips come election time. Somehow or other, it'll still all be Bush's fault; somehow or other, the economy will be made into a liability for his campaign and not an asset.

Ah well. It's not like logic or realism were ever terribly popular at these conventions.

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© Brian Tiemann