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
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
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12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
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11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
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 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
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 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
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 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, June 3, 2005
21:36 - Breaking! Steve Jobs really secret son of aliens and Bigfoot!
http://news.com.com/Apple+to+ditch+IBM%2C+switch+to+Intel+chips/2100-1006_3-5731398.

(top)
Hey, it's not Think Secret spilling Apple's dirty little secrets this time, so surely it must be one of those reputable news media outlets we've heard so much about lately:

Apple Computer plans to announce Monday that it's scrapping its partnership with IBM and switching its computers to Intel's microprocessors, CNET News.com has learned.

Apple has used IBM's PowerPC processors since 1994, but will begin a phased transition to Intel's chips, sources familiar with the situation said. Apple plans to move lower-end computers such as the Mac Mini to Intel chips in mid-2006 and higher-end models such as the Power Mac in mid-2007, sources said.

The announcement is expected Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, at which Chief Executive Steve Jobs is giving the keynote speech. The conference would be an appropriate venue: Changing the chips would require programmers to rewrite their software to take full advantage of the new processor.

Yyyyyyeah. How likely is it that this is for real, given that all the analysis in the field is just as valid as ever (and the consensus is that Apple would be insane to switch to Intel)? And how likely is it that "CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos and Richard Shim" simply read last week's rumors and figured that hey, since the burden of proof in the mainstream media these days is to show that something is false rather than that it's true, gee, why not post this as a full-fledged "CNET News.com has learned" story?

If this "scoop" turns out to be true, it will catch pretty much everyone in the Mac community and pundit corps by a real booga-booga kind of surprise—nobody thinks Apple switching from the G4/G5 to Intel makes any sense. (Solutions using the ARM processor for some kind of tablet or super-iPod, now, that's got possibilities.) But you know—if the story turns out to be false, which it most likely will, CNET is going to have a whole omelet on its face.

Which by today's standards means it's a "respectable news organization". And surely more responsible in its reporting than those stupid bloggers.

Via Chris and evariste.

UPDATE: Now, as various people have informed me, other organs including local ABC affiliates and even the New York Times are echoing this same story—and covering their tracks by saying "according to CNET.com" and "industry executives informed of the decision said Sunday".

Do these guys even care anymore about being accurate? Or is getting the scoop out the foremost, overriding goal?

UPDATE: Even the Mac news sites are full of "confirmations" of this story, including Wall Street analyses and such. Apparently the Wall Street Journal "confirmed" the story too, on Saturday.

I still can't see how this story can possibly be true—but how can this many news organizations be so credulous of such a freakish decision with no confirmation from any of the companies involved? If it's false, I can't imagine any circumstances under which Steve Jobs will start his keynote more monumentally pissed. I'm picturing with his head inflated to balloon-size over his turtleneck like Mr. Mackey.

Of course, there remains speculation over ways that Apple could (for instance) be tapping Intel for fab and yet not switching to Intel's own processors (via James A.). But I guess we'll find out at 10:00AM...

Thursday, June 2, 2005
00:34 - A little too much honesty, perhaps?

(top)
BayAreaJobFinder.com has been airing these weird, weird ads late at night by a "Dr. David Batstone" who sits behind a desk like a personal injury attorney and issues proclamations such as:

Most employees, on the day of their termination, express surprise. Yet upon reflection, they realize there were certain signs that should have warned them that the end was coming, if they'd just connected the dots. Just remember: just because your last employer may have been happy to get rid of you, doesn't mean that somebody else won't be happy to employ your brains, skills, and work ethic.

And

Have you ever been forced to choose between your sense of business ethics and your job? Many employees in the technology sector have found themselves asked to do things by their employers that they themselves found objectionable. Just remember, even though you may have been fired for refusing to compromise your principles, another employer might be happy to hire you for those very principles.

Just a tad direct, don'tcha think? I mean, I suppose I can't argue with either one of those sentiments, but I don't think I've ever seen such raw honesty in that kind of ad before...


15:30 - Smithers, release the robotic Richard Simmons...
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8075298/

(top)
Good news for early-generation iPod owners miffed at their battery lives:

Customers whose older iPods had poor battery life will get $50 coupons and extended service warranties under a tentative settlement in a class-action lawsuit.

Lawyers representing consumers in the case said Thursday that the settlement could affect as many as 2 million people nationwide who bought first-, second- or third-generation versions of the digital music player through May 2004.

I've noticed that even my 3G iPod (the current one is less than four months old, as I got it as a replacement for one whose dock connector came loose under warranty) has problems reporting an accurate battery life—after a two-hour bike ride it says it's about 30% full, then I plug it in and let it charge, and within an hour it says it's 100% charged—but then I unplug it and sync again, and it starts charging again and doesn't stop all night. I realize that battery level reporting technology is more art than science, but clearly there's room for customers to get steamed. I find the problem is mitigated in that I mostly use the iPod in the car these days with a charger, but that's no more a solution than saying "Well then, don't move your arm like that".

The site for the settlement details is http://appleipodsettlement.com/.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005
12:04 - Powerpuff Progress

(top)
You know, some days it seems to me that feminism and the push for gender equality have been brilliantly successful, even too successful—and then some days it seems like it never made an impression on anyone at all.

I think this is because society has taken all the wrong lessons to heart—like the Japanese post-Perry producing pornography with pointless little letter-of-the-law black bars covering almost nothing in lick-off-able soy ink, we've decided to adopt some aspects of gender equality to the point where the effects saturate us, and at the same time we've chosen to ignore some other intractable aspects of traditional gender roles that survive to this day.

The whole precept of feminism was to establish that women can aspire to more in life than being seen as creatures to woo and marry and raise a family with so they can keep the house clean while you (men) work, right?

So, then: why is it that when a movie like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants appears in TV trailers, critical reviews say things like "You'll fall in love with the girls of the Sisterhood"? As though the default reaction to seeing girls in any context is to "fall in love" with them. Reverse the situation, in the usual tired old mental exercise. Never mind how absurd a movie trailer would sound with a female announcer reading off the blurbs—who would advertise a movie like Lords of Dogtown by saying "You'll fall in love with the Boy Kings"?

At a concert by a US Marine Corps band at my high school years ago, a female Marine vocalist was introduced by the emcee as "The Lovely" so-and-so. As though beauty is the only characteristic by which to describe a singer before you hear her voice, or as though you'd introduce a male vocalist in anything like the same way. And many years before, when my brother and I were kids, I remember how we used to go through decks of cards giving nicknames to the face cards: the Queen of Hearts we named the "Marrier", because, see, she's female, and her icon is a heart—obviously all she wants to do is marry people. Hearts and love and kissing are still the icons of the feminine, even in trendy grrl-power vehicles like The Powerpuff Girls.

These staples of our discourse endure. And yet during the same commercial break as that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants trailer, there was an ad for the new Honeymooners movie with Cedric the Entertainer. Yep, it has the "To the moon, Alice!" line in it—but of course now it's supposed to be a romantic line, and it gets thrown back at the buffoonish husband by a hip, urbane, sarcastic wife making that "schoolmarm" finger gesture—and the rest of the movie is full of the women's exasperated eye-rolling at the husbands' stumbling boobery.

And throughout the rest of the evening's commercial breaks, just you try to find an ad featuring both a man and a woman that has them in any other tableau than "Bumbling, obnoxious, thoughtless, juvenile man who gets shown up by the smart, patient, omniscient, long-suffering, yet stunningly attractive woman". Dumb husbands who upstage their wives talking about digital cable get bowls of popcorn dumped on them by the wives. Husbands too stupid to be able to help their kids with their homework are banned from using the Internet by their wives. Husbands who want to take time out for a game or two of golf during the vacation they're planning are discovered and cowed into submission by righteous wives demanding uninterrupted relationship time. Stick them into the middle of an Everybody Loves Raymond episode and you've got a perfect little capsule of Americana that's going to look as freakishly unbalanced fifty years from now as the original Honeymooners does to us today.

And to really creep yourself out, try reversing the man's and woman's roles in any such ad. Just see if you can even picture it being filmed today.

What are we left with in the post-PC, post-feminist world? A pop culture in which we've swapped the male and the female in the "competent" and "incompetent" roles they've occupied for so long, ensuring that anyone who portrays a man as being more intelligent or more correct in an argument than a woman in any TV ad or movie will be hounded from the public light—and yet, at the same time, in which it's still okay to prefix women's names with "The Lovely" and where the immediate reaction you're supposed to have to a female on any public stage is to fall in love with her. Portrayals of women have been purged and transformed beyond recognition, whereas expectations of women have essentially remained static.

Seems to me that society has missed the point of feminism—if indeed it were ever articulated properly in the first place. Unless the goal all along was so that women could take on the mantle of "Better than men at everything, and prettier, too"... which I suppose isn't too much of a stretch in the minds of some engines of the movement.

Then again, maybe if the reverse were true—if androgyny were the norm in how actors and actresses were presented to pop culture consumers, and if men had retained their pre-Homer-Simpson general competency in matters of life and household, perhaps our world would be as gray and Soviet as any dystopia we could have imagined.

So, hey, maybe things are just fine this way. It could be a lot worse, I guess.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
11:33 - This should not be difficult

(top)
Okay—so I'm trying to figure something out here. Anyone with any expertise in the GPS world, your input would be greatly appreciated.

I'm trying to find a cheap, small, portable GPS unit that will do one thing and one thing only: keep a long and detailed track log. The purpose being that I can record my route for the three weeks I'll be in BC, Yukon, and Alaska this August, come home, download the track log into my computer, and then link up the GPS data with all the photos that I intend to take.

I don't want any funky mapping stuff, or two-way radios, or route waypoints, or a heart monitor, or directions to local hotels and In-N-Out Burgers, or even a compass. I just want a long and detailed breadcrumb trail.

Looking at the Garmin product page, and poking through the specs for each individual unit, it seems that the company is being unnecessarily coy in conveying exactly how big a track log each unit will support. From what I gather, a 10,000-point track log is considered "large" these days, but what does that mean? How long will that many points last me? This page seems to indicate that the situation is nice and confusing:

In addition to these choice you will need to decide whether to place the tracklog in "automatic" recording mode or "time" recording mode. In automatic mode the unit itself decides when to drop a bread crumb (trackpoint). (The G-III family also supports a "distance" recording mode.) Generally, in automatic mode, it will enter a trackpoint when you have turned more than 25 meters (82 feet) from a straight line projection from you last point or you have significantly changed the speed from the last entry. Using these two criteria allows the Garmin to accurately map your journey, however it becomes difficult to judge exactly how much data can be collected before the tracklog becomes full. Some units will also make a log entry when the unit draws a new screen. With a typical 1000 point log you could overflow the log in 40 miles or in 400 miles depending on the terrain and your driving/hiking/riding habits. On the G-III family you can change the setting for the turn distance. The Street Pilot uses 50 meters by default and this turns out to be a good setting for driving down the road. This, of course, will increase the length of data that can be collected at the expense of accuracy on turns. The etrex vista, legend, and venture have both time and distance. Automatic mode has a setting where you can adjust the sensitivity to distance from the projected straight line from less to more often.

And every single unit seems to handle it differently—and Garmin doesn't seem to care too much about telling potential buyers about whether the interval is configurable, whether you can select "distance" or "time" mode, whether you can select whether new data will wrap around and overwrite the oldest data points or whether the whole log just shifts to keep the newest points (discarding the old ones as it adds the new) or whether it simply stops recording when the log fills up. I'm playing with a GPSMAP 295 that my neighbor lent me, and it doesn't seem to be configurable at all—you can just turn the track log "off" or "on", and in driving the 15 miles to work I used up 9% of the available track log space. Clearly this feature doesn't appear to have been a very high priority in the design criteria of this thing. And certainly nothing online sees fit to tell me how many track points the GPSMAP 295 has, so I could compare it to the capacity of a unit made in the last five years.

I don't mind downloading the log to my computer every night—I'll have a laptop along with me. I just don't want to have to pull over and suck down all the data every three hours lest I miss any numbers. That's ridiculous. How hard can it be to keep a day's worth of track points in a unit the size of my armrest?

Garmin's offerings seem to downplay the track log feature in favor of blaring headlines about how so-and-so unit is reliable and extra-precise as WAAS can make it or uses animated graphics that will help you identify your marked waypoints. The closest it ever gets to talking about track point capacity—even in the specification pages—is that it boasts Garmin's exclusive TracBack® feature that will reverse your track log and help you navigate your way back home. Wheeee! How helpful! Now give me some fleepin' NUMBERS, you morons. Even a price would be useful to add to some of these product pages.

(And Magellan seems to only support 2000 track points on any of their units, which—in light of the 10K that some of Garmin's units seem to have—seems a bit light.)

So: Anybody have any great insights? I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars here. I don't want to know where reefs and buoys are; I don't want to plot waypoints to VORs and airport towers; I don't want cute colorful icons of fish on hooks; I don't need it to be waterproof or camouflage-colored or even have a screen. I just want something that will log my trip (preferably on car power) and let me download the log.

Does anybody make such a thing? Can someone advise them as to how to advertise their products or maybe get them into Google?

UPDATE: Looks like the eTrex Legend is the way to go. Thanks to all who mailed!

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© Brian Tiemann