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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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, December 10, 2004
12:11 - Dashboarding through the snow
http://thedashboarder.com/

(top)
Wow, people have been busy with the Tiger pre-release. This site archives all kinds of third-parties' Dashboard widgets, created using Apple's SDK. See, this is an area where it is important and sensible for Apple to release tools for third parties to build on. The possibilities for Dashboard are nigh-limitless, but Apple isn't going to be able to fulfill all those needs.

Nor should they, if their preliminary iTunes widget is any indication of the UI design sense of whoever is in charge of developing Apple's final Dashboard tools. Whoever built that piece of fugly demoware needs some good old-fashioned re-Neducation down at Zero Infiinite Loop. Disappointingly, there doesn't seem to be a replacement for it yet on the Dashboarder site. But at least there are quite a few other cool ones.


11:52 - Everything Your iPod
http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000610023097/

(top)
Not only has a whole industry sprung up to sell gadgets for enhancing your iPod's functionality, from FM transmitters to voice recorders to little LED flashlights and laser pointers that plug into the iPod's headphone jack. The other side of the equation is well represented too: geek tools that allow you to customize your iPod's embedded graphics.



Looks like a lot of fun. It's a Windows utility, though, which is interesting—something about this tool and the way it's represented just doesn't feel like something a Mac user would create.

Maybe it's this:

On a side note, Apple and every other music player maker should make this part of the software that comes with their device, we all change the icons, desktops, and everything else on our computers, so it makes sense to be able to brand our music players any way we want.

Am I the only one who's getting reeeeeally tired of people who say things like this? Yeah, I'd love to be a fly on the wall of the marketing meeting where someone brings up this idea: "Hey, Steve? What do you say we produce an Apple-supported utility to allow people to debrand their iPods? Just think—we could sink all kinds of money into development and support, and we'd relinquish control of the user experience. It's win-win!"

Apple is a company like every other. They create and sell the products that their analysis tells them will make more money. They run the iTunes Music Store not to stick it to the record labels or to spread music across the populace or even to make money on direct track sales, but to sell iPods—because that's where the business plan lies. It's where their revenue stream comes from. Very little else in the iPod realm does that. Apple doesn't even make most of the accessories, leaving that to the third-parties; their analysis tells them that their bottom line is best served by selling headphones, remotes, iPod Docks and iPod socks—and that's about it. Other accessories would require too many extra resources from within the company to offset the revenues they'd make from sales. Much as I might like to think Apple's in business as a labor of love, magnanimously sacrificing profits at the altar of the salvation of the computer industry, they're driven by the numbers just like everyone else—and I'd just love to see someone try to make the pitch to management that it's in Apple's interest in any way whatsoever to even officially support low-level customizability of the iPod or Mac OS X, let alone to release a utility that productizes the process. Customizability is fun—but I'm not going to hold Apple accountable for supporting me if I screw things up, any more than I'd call Ford to complain if I managed to bore my engine's cylinders into each other.

But then, of course, some people simply refuse to be satisfied; the iPod can revolutionize the world, and they'll still sneer because they can't officially swap out its Do Not Disconnect icon for a "No RIAA" one to advertise their commitment to not listening to any music with a corporate label on it.

That's not a market Apple can ever win, no matter how many dollars they dump down the black hole. Nor, one might argue, should they.

Still, this is cool. (Via Marcus.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2004
01:12 - The holiday that dare not speak its name

(top)
I'm thinking of starting a running auto-incrementing tally. You know, kind of like the one Mike has in his sidebar. But mine would be for the number of times I hear the word "Christmas" all December long.

I know that on my way to the store and back this evening, I heard something like six consecutive news items and ads on KCBS, all of which either centered prominently on some major business (Macy's, in this case) adopting an official position of never again mentioning the C-word in its decorations, or involving convoluted and massaged dialogue that had clearly had the naughty word excised in early drafts: "Be sure to add that special person to your... shopping list this holiday season!"

Happy voices, happy thoughts, smiles all around. Plastered across the faces all throughout the recording studio. Because if you let the beaming veneer slip you get beat up with a rubber hose.

Why do I get the feeling that a lot fewer people were "offended" by things they saw on the street or heard on the radio back when they didn't have to work so hard to be offended as they do now? I think the last time anyone actually intended to offend anybody in a print advertisement or commercial decoration was in about 1846. Now we've got whole departments at huge corporations dedicated to nothing but vetting every word the company emits to make sure it can't possibly offend anyone, and yet there's always something someone can construe in some scandalous way that gets it onto the front pages and sends the stock price tanking. Working in said department must be one of the most unsatisfying, most psychologically draining jobs in the world: it's like walking on springtime ice, where if you accidentally slip and break through, the townspeople gather to jeer and spit on you as you flail in the frigid water.

This is the world I dreamed of when I was in high school. So why oh why does it suck?

I couldn't have been wrong, could I?

UPDATE: I suppose it should go without saying that I'm getting mighty sick of that "Christmahanukwanzakah" ad by Virgin Mobilantic Wirelessgalactic or whatever. It's trying to be funny, I know, but it just ends up being just as patronizing as the stuff it's trying to parody.

UPDATE: Don't miss this article on Chanukah and why it's obtuse and a little bit demeaning to defer to it in the way we do with our All Cultures Have Their Own Christmas season.

UPDATE: Heh. Now this is more like it. (Thanks to Keith H.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2004
17:41 - A little light reading
http://discussion.autodesk.com/thread.jspa?threadID=357889

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Wow. CAD people are cool. They're lucid and reasonable and pragmatic, and occasionally show bursts of brilliance.

That's my considered opinion after reading this Autodesk forum discussion on the possibility of a DWG/DWF file viewer app being released for Mac OS X. Wait'll you see the post by "mactheblade".

This is one of the neatest, most civilized, most self-contained little discussions I've ever seen. Oddly thrilling to read.

And all because I wanted to see some maps of the city of Yellowknife.


14:42 - I think we landed on a witch

(top)
Wow. There sure aren't many leaves left on the trees after that thing that blew through here last night.



Weather reports indicated wind gusts up to 25-35 mph, and I can believe it—it whipped the tarp off Lance's motorcycle, knocked down trees and palm fronds all around the area, and knocked out power in a number of places. Right at the end of my block, all night we watched as the rainy gusts blew at the transformer and wires hanging off the power pole at the corner, and every time they touched a shower of sparks would fly off and shoot northward for about thirty feet across the intersection. Very strong southerly wind, yes indeed. We called 911 to get someone to come deal with it, but I didn't see anyone arrive all night—I think they had their hands full.

And now we get one of those day-after-the-storm cloudbreaks, where the air's as crisp and clear as it's ever going to get.

Aaaahhh.


13:34 - You will be assimilated
http://instapundit.com/archives/019684.php

(top)
The Axis of Steevil claims another victim:

IPODS HAVE REALLY TAKEN OFF, and I've decided, as a Christmas present to myself, to replace my iRiver with one. So do I get the iPod mini or the 40 GB model? (I'm guessing that the 20 GB model is a worst-of-both-worlds compromise, but I could be wrong.) I'm leaning toward the mini at the moment. Any advice?

Soon the blogosphere will be ours! Mwa ha ha!

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© Brian Tiemann