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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Sunday, September 5, 2004
18:16 - Just a note on multiculturalism
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,176-1247801,00.html

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Via LGF, this one's worth reading.

But it's just an excuse for me to note: when I was in Toronto, the guy driving me to the airport on the last day (in a conversation where I talked about my 1991 trip to Russia, where the only language that we and our host family shared was Spanish, between me and their oldest daughter, making me the interpreter) issued a curious statement:

"My workplace," he said, "is so diverse that I can walk from one end of the office to the other and hear English, French, Hindi, Gujarat, Arabic .... and I'm like, all I speak is English! It's the only way we can communicate... I suck!"

And what I didn't say was: No, you don't suck. If you were, say, to move to another country where you didn't speak the prevailing language, and you didn't bother to LEARN the prevailing language, THEN you would suck.

Maybe I was in a weird mood after being heckled on the sidewalk by Arabic-speaking youths on the way back to my host's apartment, leading to dreams that night wherein old acquaintances of mine had turned out to have converted to Islam and joined al Qaeda, and were now waylaying travelers in mountain passes and mimicking their speech and mocking their clothes from horseback.

Or maybe I shouldn't let strange dreams affect my waking thoughts.

UPDATE: And for God's sake, the word is spelled HAMSTER, not HAMPSTER! Aarrgh! Not even Disney can grasp this. What is so hard about this?!

Damn kids! Get offa my lawn!


17:46 - The sky is green, and all the leaves are blue

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It's easy to see how people get so they don't want to watch TV anymore. Sometimes it gets so that you can't even turn it on without feeling like you're peering into a freakshow, a Stargate to another dimension where everybody behaves according to the most cultured illogic imaginable, like Kirk in that one old Star Trek episode where he and Spock and McCoy foiled the evil robot of the Ron Jeremy villain by dancing around acting as incomprehensibly as possible until its head exploded.

I bring up Star Trek because two nights ago, in the wee hours, an episode came on that I can't imagine anyone even pitching today: The Omega Glory. If you're not familiar with it, just read the synopsis and think about how hard they'd laugh at you if you tried to submit this script in Hollywood today. Imagine what kind of world it must have been in 1968: one where intoning the preamble of the Constitution in a sci-fi show wasn't part of an irony-filled parody of McCarthyism or an indictment of American propaganda as being worse than anything the Stalinist state ever dreamed up. Imagine it being sincere.

For that matter, imagine an age where a utopian idealist like Roddenberry, committed to the idea of the abolishment of money and personal property and national identity, nonetheless produced this episode, which ends with Kirk smiling and exiting as the camera fades out over the faded and tattered Stars and Stripes. It's so cheesy and overdone it's distinctly embarrassing to watch, even for me; how did audiences react to it? I can't even begin to guess, as the concept of a world where a show like this can even be broadcast is utterly alien to my modern eyes. Nothing would surprise me.

Because flipping around the channels, I keep landing on things like Jay Mohr finishing up "Last Comic Standing" with a monologue about how "We'll be back after the Republican convention... yeah, those wacky Republicans..." to raucous catcalls from the audience; and other comics taking the stage to issue tired routines about how Bush stole the election by rigging the polls in Florida with the help of his brother, which elicits deafening cheers from the audience. Now, I know all too well that it's possible to laugh at a funny joke even if you disagree wholeheartedly with the logic underlying its premise. But have I completely lost my ability to find things like that funny? Or is it just that I'm too bowled over by the idea of whole roomfuls of people who see nothing wrong with the comedian's reasoning, and too frightened by that prospect, to toss it off with a giggle?

I wasn't quick enough to the remote on Friday, and the first few seconds of The Daily Show blared behind me before I had a chance to turn it off. Jon Stewart and his comic troupe of reporters were covering the convention, and the first thing they sneered about was how tight the security was—"which shows you just how dangerous they thought WE WERE." Which is such an insultingly disingenuous piece of misleading language as to make me want to claw my eyes out: which convention was it that put all its protesters into a razor-wire-topped "Free Speech Zone" cage? And which one let the protesters run amok in the city? And which convention's protesters mobbed the downtown of the city all week long, causing vandalism and violent attacks and kidnapping flags (and planning much worse, like barrages of urine bombs and throwing marbles under the hooves of mounted cops' horses) until they had to be arrested by the scores, not to mention infiltrating the actual convention to be repeatedly within weapons range of the speakers? "There was a distinct feeling of fear in the air at this convention..." said the reporter, flashing a shot of a big projection screen saying FOR A SAFER AMERICA AND A FREER WORLD or something. And I wonder, just what kind of cataclysm would it take before our lionized and implicitly trusted comedy organs should start to suggest that maybe, just maybe, it's possible to be funny without cramming reality through a garlic press first? That it's possible to entertain without lying? When our first national impulse is to see the word FREE and read it as FEAR, hasn't the spirit of this country become completely obscured and banished from polite discourse? And shouldn't something be done about that?

I mean, just flipping on the radio is fraught with peril these days. I stepped into Lance's car to go get lunch because my own car was boxed in; he has KCBS running, and the only times I hear it are occasions like this. But I can't listen to five minutes of KCBS without hearing something that makes me furious. Last time it was the uncritical, ten-minute long promotion of Fahrenheit 9/11 put on by the on-scene reporters interviewing exiting moviegoers. And this time it was some guy from the "Progressive Democrats of America" (anyone wanna bet his favorite band is Rush?), responding to Henry Kissinger's remarks about the War on Terror by saying that "The way to make America safer is to make friends, not to make new enemies." I wanted to slam on the brakes and scream at the radio: So what you're saying is, we should have made FRIENDS with Saddam? We should be making FRIENDS with Bin Laden? Since when the %^&$ was Iraq a NEW enemy?! ... Not that it would do any good, of course. Just as it would do no good to shout at the author of this cartoon and ask him exactly how it's possible to be neither "with us or with the terrorists". But that's futility in its most distilled form, since we're talking about someone who can make Bush look like some kind of mutant rodent and Kerry resemble a square-jawed superhero, replete with halo and beatific grin.

Maybe I'm doing something to attract things to my senses that infuriate me. Maybe I've got some sort of magnetic field that starts right outside arm's reach that pulls freaky things into view, shows them to me just long enough to make me mad, and then clears them off and makes room for the next one. I really don't know. But if the alternative is sealing myself off in a little box, only to emerge for November 2nd and then re-ensconce myself like a groundhog, I'm not convinced that it's a worse choice. At least as far as my mental health is concerned.

Friday, September 3, 2004
15:56 - I did not use Capri as the model
http://www.imao.us/archives/001877.html

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Frank J. has unveiled the new Chomps t-shirt, with design by yours truly.

Also be sure to look here, here, and here, as Frank chronicles the journey of a dozen sketches that led to the final Chomps. His recollection of the politeness level of the exchange is very much in the "fevered" category, though now in retrospect I wish I'd sent him one joke sketch of, like, a French poodle yapping or something, right about at #10 or so. Ah well.

Best of luck to Frank as the marauding hurricane seeks for his hidden underground base.


13:46 - Now that that's over...

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I didn't see Bush's speech live, but here's the transcript, and CapLion and Stephen Green (among others) liveblogged it. Sounds like it was a pretty good one, with some really choice moments (Bush winking at a protester being dragged out of the hall? Jokes about his own walking and speaking abilities?); I'll have to catch the video tonight.

Then apparently Kerry came on stage somewhere at midnight to issue this oh-so-measured response:

"We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.

The vice president even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.

Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new course for America."

So let's see here: Kerry's already said that he himself would have gone into Iraq if the decision had been his; I guess he's saying he's just as unfit to lead as Bush, huh? Brilliant move. Does Kerry have ADD or something? How can he contradict everything he says so breezily, so regularly? Does he maybe just honestly not remember what he himself said?

Cheney's four student deferments make him unfit to defend the nation. Or maybe it was the one he got because he'd just become a father. Got it. And Bush was only in the National Guard; he didn't actually blow himself up throwing a grenade into a rice stash or get a thumbtack in his ass or anything medalworthy like that. From now on, only people who fought in Vietnam are capable of making military decisions for this country. Right, Clinton?

And from there one just has to wonder whether Kerry actually researched any of the barbs he flung at midnight, or if he knows full well that he's being disingenuous, but trusts the American people to be too stupid and the news media to be too biased for him ever to get called on it. For instance, Kerry must understand that Cheney is not on Halliburton's payroll; he has deferred compensation, on terms that were laid out at the plan's inception such that the amount he gets paid cannot change regardless of Halliburton's corporate fortunes; and on top of that, he gives all his deferred compensation income to charity. Does Kerry not know this? Or does he just hope people will blindly believe him without looking up the facts?

Facts, Mr. Kerry, appear to be your enemy. Holy damn, though—you need to listen to your handlers once in a while.

Everybody has weighed in on Kerry's little diatribe, focusing on one point and another: Ann Althouse finds it disturbing that Kerry's response to questions about his leadership abilities is to say that he will not have any such questions. Boy, that sounds like a guy I want to have accountable for running the country. And "pouncer" in Stephen Green's comments points out the idiocy of conflating "health care" with "health insurance", as well as of suggesting that anyone who doesn't stand up to the Saudis on oil matters is unfit to be President—which includes everybody who's been in office since OPEC was formed. But Kerry doesn't have to come out and say, somehow, that his presidency would "put the Saudis in their place", or whatever we're to assume the alternative is. It's sufficient, apparently for the New York Times and the rest of the media machine, for him to say things like "People die of cancer" and "Not everybody on the planet is happy", and everybody just implicitly understands that the only thing standing in the way of unspoken, ineffable solutions to those things is that John Kerry is not President yet.

Is there anything he said last night that wasn't a stupid, easily deflated conspiracy-theory-ridden canard? If that's what Kerry's running on now, I've got another word for it: fumes.

Oh, but MoveOn.org has already proclaimed, shockingly enough, that Bush's speech was a failure and Kerry's was a hard-hitting masterpiece:

Republicans hoped that their convention would strike a ringing tone that would echo through the media for the next week. But between the speakers' nastiness and belligerence, John Kerry's swift and tough response, and our hard work, the momentum they're banking on is nowhere to be seen.

At a midnight rally last night, John Kerry stood up to Bush's attacks. "For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and even my fitness to serve as commander in chief," he said. "Here is my answer to them: I will not have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and who misled America into Iraq."[1]

Now that the convention bubble has burst, we have an opportunity today to focus the media on the soap scum that remains. Commentators have been surprised at how ruthlessly negative and bitter the convention was - from the Purple Heart band-aids that Karl Rove's mentor handed out on the stadium floor [2] to Zell Miller's rabid attack on John Kerry [3]. Whether or not that perception solidifies into conventional wisdom depends on the conversation in the nation's editorial pages, where our letters to the editor can make a big difference. We've loaded up our letter to the editor tool with all the information and talking points you need to write a letter -- all it takes is a few minutes of your time.

"Letter to the editor tool". Could it be any more perfect? I'm gonna go call someone that right now.

UPDATE: Oh, and eat this, MoveOn.org.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004
17:36 - Hey, that was my line
http://www.capitalistlion.com/article.cgi?1184

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Earlier, I had wondered aloud whether Apple would duly provide free iTunes downloads of the speeches at the Republican National Convention, after their announcement of free availability of copies of their Democratic counterparts.

I was waiting to see Apple's periodic QuickTime newsletter to see what their plug for them might look like; but CapLion has no such patience:

iTunes users can download speeches from the Republican National Convention in the "New & Noteworthy" section under the Audiobooks category for free.

There was some speculation of whether they'd do this or not, as they did for the DNC speeches, but it looks like they did. Good for you, Apple.

Indeed. Though I still wonder what form the newsletter's mention will take. Will it match the earlier plug's glowing lines like "Last week in Boston, the Democratic National Convention radiated energy and new ideas" and "Amazingly, Ramirez used 10 Canon S60 digital cameras to simultaneously photograph a panoramic image"? Can Apple bring itself to play to those of their customers who prefer an Arnie speech to a Clinton one? That much remains to be seen...


16:33 - This time with feeling
http://www.panic.com/unison/

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The inimitable Cabel Sasser of Panic Software has released version 1.5 of Unison, the most jaw-tremblingly beautiful Usenet newsreader of all time. It's got a ton of new features, many of which I recognize from letters I sent him asking on bended knee for his consideration:

This major new version adds buckets of new features, including a significantly faster and less memory-intensive article storage system, the ability to mark anything as "read" (including files), a Mail-like Rules engine for automatically filtering posts, an improved Download manager, switchable personalities, .NZB file support, image groups, and much, much more.

It also, unfortunately, has a lot of significant bugs. On very large newsgroups, it seems, the database back-end chokes and dies such that after you've clicked a few of the image download icons, all the rest of the icons show up as generic "image" placeholders with "null / null" for the author and subject lines. Quitting and restarting helps, but only temporarily; it seems to be a fairly fundamental underlying weakness in the schema, and maybe it's just my system or the groups I read, but it seems pretty egregious and a usability-killer. So is the fact that Unison still seemingly doesn't use the content of each message to determine whether there's an image, but rather the inferences present in the subject line, which leads to image icons being presented for posts which are just text replies, which then become "broken image" icons when you click them, and revert to a noncommittal "undownloaded image" the next time you look.

But the features like sorting images by author, date, or size, and the general idea of the back-end database, are very encouraging. I hope Sasser is able to fix these showstoppers fairly quickly, because in the interim this is turning into one hot piece of software, one that I'm impatient at not being able to use.


15:52 - Don't blink

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I caught most of the premiere of Father of the Pride last night... and I regret to say that I predict it'll last no longer than Capitol Critters did. I give it six episodes.

It's a shame, too, because it's a gutsy concept. It must have looked great on the pitch boards. The gag writers had a lot of interesting stuff to work with. But, well... it's supposed to be a comedy, right? Unfortunately it just wasn't funny enough. There were way too few gags, and what ones there were were telegraphed, or we'd seen them already in the trailers. Or they all centered around the humor potential of interspecies sex, so self-consciously handled that they made me feel uncomfortable. I just can't see the broadcast-TV-watching prime-time Nielsen audience making time to sit down for this every week.

This reminds me of nothing so much as the frantic 1990 season of shows produced in the astonished wake of The Simpsons' unexpected success: Fish Police, Dinosaurs, Family Dog. Many of which were very well executed. They just all had concepts that were too wacky to work, too embarrassing for grown-ups to watch. Who was going to go in to work the following day and ask his co-workers at the water cooler what they thought of last night's episode of Fish Police?

Same thing's going to happen now. This show is an attempt to capitalize on the democratization of CG animation into the low-budget weekly production market, egged on (no doubt) by the existence of Tripping the Rift on the SciFi network. (The level of animation quality is about the same—which is to say, not very impressive.) It's got star power and the Shrek meme propping it up, but it's already been dealt a major blow by the real-life Roy unlikely ever to perform again. And really—who's going to be able to clear his throat and ask whether it's okay to switch the TV from WWE Raw to Father of the Pride? It just doesn't roll off the tongue with any testosterone. It's just too laden with cognitive dissonance, between cute-and-fluffy animals and anything-but-innocent adult humor, for people to be able to feel comfortable watching it. Anyone deciding to be a fan will have to do so furtively, in the basement with the old cast-off TV. And I'll be surprised if the show lasts a whole season.

Too bad. It was a valiant effort, but... too soon.

UPDATE: Paul Denton liked it, but in a lukewarm sort of way. You know, your pilot episode can't be lukewarm. It's supposed to be your top-drawer material. I think it's sunk.


13:45 - The iPod Is The Computer™
http://www.whatithinkiknow.com/Archive04/WIT20040901.html

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Aha! Damien Del Russo has identified the reason why Apple is marketing the new iMac by sticking it in shot with an iPod and tilted at the same angle:

As a consumer, I look at this a little differently. I should note, first, that I am not a big fan of all-in-one designs. Mostly, it’s because I feel the screens are wasted – my setup at home is a G4 and a separate 17” display. If I replace the G4, I can keep the display. Nonetheless, all-in-ones certainly have their place.

That’s where the new iMac comes in. This is not a computer aimed at existing Apple customers. Well, not Mac owners, that is. I think this product is designed to convert iPod owners into Mac users. Having the computer look so similar to the iPod gives assurance to the customer that the same great experience of the iPod is available with an actual computer.

And the small footprint makes it easy to squeeze into a small space. A 17” or 20” screen works as a DVD-player (or even TV) for a dorm room or office, which is emphasized by the wide-screen format and surround sound-capable output jack.

Apple is making two great pushes this year. First, they are clearly focusing on entertainment. The iPod, the new iMac-as-TV/DVD-player, Airport express for streaming music – these are not things that PCs have done in the past. Apple’s products look nice together and play nice together – and there is no unified competition. Jobs appears to be trying to dominate this market, as the iPod dominates the strictly-music market. And why not?

Absolutely. Apple has more momentum with the iPod than they've had with any other product in its history, I believe, depending on how you measure such things; it's certainly the biggest piece of good branding they've had since the original Macintosh, and probably more so still (since plenty of people ridiculed the Mac, but you have to dig hard to find people pooh-poohing the iPod). It's a no-brainer for them to be parlaying (there's that word again, John Gruber) their smash success in digital music into a new initiative to pump their primary business, the spiritual descendant of the pride of 1984, the all-in-one consumer Mac.

And the article also covers another major component to this puzzle: wireless. AirPort Express has been another runaway success, and Apple seems to be making the iMac as wireless as possible, with AirTunes for music and Bluetooth (optionally) for keyboard and mouse. It's all part of the same initiative, as Damien explains, and all poised to benefit from the same momentum.

I can't wait to see one of these babies in person. No, it's not the most original or groundbreaking thing on the planet; but it's pure Apple elegance, and customers are going to grok it far better than they grokked the weird but cool desk-lamp iMac. Especially if they're iPod owners who are just starting to think, "Hey, I guess maybe Apple is okay after all..."


13:31 - That's what I get for not watching the news
http://opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/09/01/do0102.xml

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JMH sends this Telegraph editorial by former Vietnam protester Janet Daley, titled "In the 1960s, we marched for a reason":

But the biggest difference between then and now, of course, is that we marched against our government when it supported dictators, not when it removed them. The logic of the anti-Vietnam War movement was that America, in its ferocious determination to hold back the spread of communism, was prepared to back the tyrannical Diem regime in South Vietnam even to the extent of thwarting democratic elections when they threatened to put communists into power.

Our complaint was that America's foreign policy was deeply hypocritical and self-serving: committed unswervingly to democracy and liberty at home, while supporting any murderous despot abroad who was prepared to be "our son of a bitch" rather than the other side's. The ultimate paradox is that the country that still behaves in this way - prepared to do business with pretty much any murderous regime or criminal dictator who will cater to its interests - is France: the nation that today's anti-war protesters regard as the epitome of wisdom and restraint.

But the "warmonger" Bush, supported by the "liar" Blair, is doing precisely the opposite in Iraq, where a peculiarly vicious tyrant has been overthrown and subsequently arrested with due legal process, in the hope - idealistic and even naïve, perhaps, but unquestionably sincere - of introducing democracy and freedom to his country.

She also describes the televised back-and-forth between John McCain and Michael Moore thus:

I watched Michael Moore's buffoon-ish reaction when he was attacked by John McCain at the Republican convention, over and over again yesterday.

Fox News showed it repeatedly, probably figuring that the sight of Moore behaving like a snotty 10-year-old defying the headmaster was the best gift the anti-war movement had presented to George W Bush since Howard Dean's "I Have a Scream" speech. (The BBC, which also ran it time after time, was presumably just overcome with admiration.)

And as I watched this puerile performance from a man who is regarded as the spiritual leader of American, and now British, conscientious protest, I thought "Has it come to this?" Is this how it ends, the great modern tradition of American dissidence launched by my generation of students in the 1960s?

I'd love to know what gestures Moore offered the camera (though I suppose I can guess). Time for me to do some Googling...

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
01:47 - Happy thoughts

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After one thing and another, and the post from Monday night, and reading the work of the true master (start there and read the whole week—it's prime cuts), I've come to the conclusion that I'm rapidly sliding down a slippery slope of negativity, where to read these posts here, one would easily be forgiven for thinking that I hated everything except for Macs and Capri. So I'm gonna have to do something about that.

I don't know what, though. I imagine it'll have something to do with trying harder to find things to be happy about, like when I used to write about clouds and architecture and stuff. I guess that won't be too hard, right? My memory's not that truncated.

Or so we'll see. And for the record, I'd like to say that the Monday post notwithstanding, my vacation totally rocked. Seriously. And it's worth mentioning, though I had avoided it for fear of committing some grievous national-security faux pas, that I shared a cabin with a guy serving in the Army unit in charge of Camp Delta at Guantánamo Bay. He had some stories to tell, mostly to do with how ridiculously lacking in fact or reality the media's stories about life at Gitmo have all been. I think he may have disseminated a bit of sanity and wisdom through osmosis, too. And I hope we conveyed plenty of appreciation to him, as much as I hope he had a good and restful vacation before he ships back to his post there as soon as he gets home.

So, yeah. Sorry about the last few weeks, everybody. I'm gonna do better.


16:53 - The Mythical Man-Month Strikes Again
http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1104_2-5327150.html?tag=nl

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So this happened while I was away, eh?

"In order to make this date (of 2006), we've had to simplify some things, to stagger it. One of the things we're staggering is the Windows storage work," Jim Allchin, Microsoft's vice president in charge of Windows development, said in an interview with CNET News.com. "We’ll still have rapid search covering the data just as we planned."

The software maker has not had a full release of its desktop operating system since Windows XP debuted in October 2001, although the company has shipped specialized versions of the operating system, such as the Tablet PC and Media Center editions. Microsoft has also been faced with a strain on its programming resources for Longhorn, with much of the Windows development team commandeered to complete the Service Pack 2 security update to Windows XP, which Microsoft finished earlier this month.

Longhorn was originally supposed to have three major changes: a new file system, WinFS; a new graphics and presentation engine known as Avalon; and Indigo, a Web services and communication architecture.

Microsoft is making changes to all three pillars. WinFS will be available as a beta when the Longhorn release comes out as a client. Avalon and Indigo will be part of Longhorn, but also made available separately for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

That's majorly sucky for Longhorn fans... and anyone who was hoping to see WinFS go head-to-head with Spotlight when Tiger hits shelves next year. But now it looks like Apple will be hitting the streets alone with a fully rich data-mining subsystem, and one that's totally backward-compatible and doesn't require a new filesystem at that. We'd thought Tiger would be competing with a contemporaneous rival on the merits of specific functionality advantages of its implementation; now it seems it'll be running with a multiple-year head-start to boot. I hope Steve's pancreas is okay, because oh, the sugar rush he must have got when this news broke. Gates is still calling a unified file-storage/search system the "Holy Grail"; now the grail-shaped beacon will be alight in Cupertino for years before the Redmond knights storm the keep.

And Avalon (the Quartz-like windowing effects manager) is going to be severely scaled back; and Indigo, the communication/Web engine, is going to be chopped up too. Word is also that Microsoft has been hemorrhaging employees and morale is nose-diving. It doesn't sound like much of a fun time going down at the ol' dream factory. But hey, at least they'll ship on time, huh? Well, more on time...

As some friends and I were discussing over lunch, Microsoft's policy of making absolutely everything infinitely backwards-compatible has always been destined to bite them on the ass—they've just been able to stave off the inevitable for years and years. But the end might be near; something has to break, and now that the whole house of cards that is Windows is so huge and so rickety that it essentially has to be swept clean off the table and begun again from scratch, every user in the world will be left in the cold. Meanwhile, Apple's policy of allowing small breakages in backward-compatibility—along with "soft" upgrade pressures like the general malaise of running Classic apps within Mac OS X, rather than any specific OS feature necessities—means that Mac users have always been able to deal with upgrade growing pains on a small, relatively painless, piecemeal basis. So your favorite newsreader breaks in 10.3? Just wait, there'll be a patched version out in a week. But what'll Windows users do when everyone's apps have to be rewritten to deal with WinFS?

I don't see that Microsoft could or even should have done things differently; they may well have had no economically viable choice in the matter, and they may have been fated to wed themselves eternally to 1985 by the very nature of their business. But since Apple is in a different business from Microsoft's, they get to stand at the minimum safe distance, still patiently turning flittery hand gestures into Fabergé eggs while a flaming wreck crashes to earth in the background. This is going to be an interesting industry to watch for the next couple of years...


16:27 - Oh hell yeah
http://www.apple.com/imac/

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Yes. Yes, that will do quite nicely.



I seem to recall that when the flat-panel iMac was first announced, three and a half years ago, Steve made a big joke out of the idea that it would simply be an iMac with a flat screen and all the components crammed up behind the monitor, so it would just be a flat vertical piece. The real solution, at the time, was to separate the computer and the monitor and use that awesome flexible arm.

But I guess maybe the arm has turned out not to be quite such an important component as it was previously thought. So instead, now the components are all crammed up behind the monitor, and the left-right swivel takes place by simply sliding the thing on its stand. This is precisely what Steve said he wasn't going to unveil in January 2001.

As I recall, the whole deal with the rejection of the vertical design had to do with the fact that optical drives don't work well in a vertical orientation; that's why the CD-ROM in the 20th Anniversary Mac was so slow-running. Maybe optical drives are more robust now (remember when you couldn't wave a hard drive around at more than 1g acceleration, because the heads would crash?). Or maybe Steve is just fickle.

17- and 20-inch screens, eh? Nice. And widescreen. Nicer still. I might just be in the market for one of these, as my original 2001 desklamp model (with its 15" screen) is now only a quarter the screen space as Apple's biggest monitor. I feel so behind-the-times...

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© Brian Tiemann