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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11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
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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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  9/9/2002 -  9/15/2002
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  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
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  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 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, September 9, 2005
14:09 - Still determinedly staring at anything non-hurricane-related
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002CYTL2/002-4641806-8520862?v=glanc

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I'm not at all sure what to make of this:



Apparently it's real. Ages 4 to 7.

No word on related accessories, such as little smiling terrorist figures in ascots.

Thursday, September 8, 2005
17:09 - "No talk of canceling Mardi Gras"
http://www.mysanantonio.com/specials/katrina/stories/MYSA090505.24A.katrina_french.8

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Wow. I had no idea.

NEW ORLEANS — You know a city has legs when three or four dozen of them are parading down Bourbon Street — some clad in tutus and grass skirts — six days after the most damaging hurricane in American history.

But the annual Southern Decadence parade through the heart of the French Quarter stops for nothing — not even Katrina.

"Hey, we've got to keep our morale up, too," said Jill Sandars, aka "Jelly Sandwich," her "Quarter" name.

Resplendent in a fluffy red skirt, dark hat and small black umbrella, she strutted and sang with 15 to 20 other storm survivors who'd hunkered down in battered but not beaten streets normally associated with bead-throwing at Mardi Gras.'

I thought I'd seen some unbelievable pictures of New Orleans in the past week, but these—in a different way—are almost even more so.

Via Mary Madigan.


11:15 - That's what I'm on about

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For some reason I get a weekly e-mail update from Newsweek; the subject line today was:

Katrina: Who's to Blame? Plus: The Heroic Rescuers

That's their priorities for you, right there in black and white.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005
18:04 - We Love You, Uncle Steve

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Reader Kim A. sent me this True Tale of Apple Joy:

Thought you would get a kick out of this story.

My son works at the computer store on the campus of Notre Dame and gets a discount on all his Apple stuff. Stupid me decides to buy him a new iBook through the online Apple store instead of through Kendall (my son). I tell him about the computer, only to find out that if a student buys a new iBook, they get a free iPod mini. Ooops. Now, we all have iPods in the family, so Kendall wants the mini iPod so they can raffle it off at school and send the proceeds to the Katrina relief efforts. He decides to write to Apple and ask it they will let him have the mini iPod anyway. He doesn't know who to address the email to so he addresses it to, ahem, Steve Jobs!

The next day he gets a phone call from an Apple executive relations staffer who says something to the effect that Kendall must have gotten Steve in a good mood, because Steve told them to send the iPod!

Needless to say, I was impressed.

I love Apple!

We love the Leader!

12:00 - Stirring the Secret Sauce

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Well. Now that everybody reportedly has Apple's number, and now that Napster and the various subscription services are poised to eat iTunes' lunch, and now that the iPod is <deep breath> doooooomed... here they go again, grabbing up the goalposts and scurrying off downfield again, cackling.

Just when I'd finished the book, too.



iTunes 5: Now with Even Less Aqua!

It's all Tiger-style now. No more brushed metal, which I guess was bound to happen sooner or later as Steve tired of it. But this is an even weirder, newly mutant look: the corners are barely even rounded anymore. The radii of the curves have been reduced to only about two pixels; this is the first time I believe we've ever seen this look, and the first non-rounded upper corners on a primary (non-palette) window since OS X debuted. What new chapter in the UI Guidelines are they trying to write with this one?

iTunes 5 now has a Spotlight-style search function, too; whatever you type into the Search field, a bar appears above the navigation window that lets you select the searching scope at a single click, between "All" and "Music" and "Podcasts", among other sources. This has definitely become necessary as iTunes has subsumed media like videos and podcasts recently; this goes some distance toward unifying them all within the same navigation structure, just as they were threatening to break loose.



Speaking of structures, when you install iTunes 5 it updates your music library—meaning there's a schema change. For what, you ask?



Lyrics!

Well, it's nothing but a text field, and it doesn't present the lyrics in time with the music or anything, like I still hope someone figures out how to make AAC do. But it's definitely a start, and I applaud it.

I'm less sanguine about "folders for your playlists". Well, I guess I shouldn't say I don't like the feature, because I've often found myself wanting some way to organize the playlists better, particularly when doing screenshots; it's not easy to get the Source pane looking exactly the way you want it to when there's exactly one way to sort its contents. Folders—particularly nested ones—fit the bill nicely. I guess what I was worried about was that Apple would bend to clueless peer pressure and put in "hierarchical playlists", a concept that fits into Windows-navigator-style music players with the ease of a prepackaged toolkit but that has no bearing on music listening patterns or ease of use. Smart Playlists cover the "playlists that contain other playlists" angle, and this way you don't have to have things nested in weird places unless you specifically put them there, using a folder, which has no effect on the music's behavior—just its organization. I can deal with that.

"Effects" in the Preferences is now "Playback"; other than that it's the same, except that now there's a feature called "Smart Shuffle" that gives you an interesting continuous slider letting you coax iTunes into grouping your "random" music into sets grouped by artist or album.



This is actually something I suggested to Apple three or four years ago, in a feedback; I'm not going to claim that this was "my idea", but it's strikingly similar: I wanted a way to have the iPod "shuffle" the music through a series of links between songs, where every consecutive pair of tracks would have something in common—artist, album, genre, whatever. But, as usual, this way of doing it is quite a bit more elegant than what I'd come up with, and looks like it's been carefully engineered to match real people's listening patterns. This is what makes iTunes what it is: it does what people expect it to, and they don't have to jump through any flaming hoops to get it to happen.

The "Importing" tab in Preferences has been moved to a sub-tab under "Advanced", as has the "Burning" tab. Good thing, as that bar was getting pretty crowded. And now we've got a "Parental" tab, which lets you disable podcasts, shared music, and access to the Music Store, and has a lock that password-protects the settings. Probably a good idea; wouldn't want your kids listening to Air America or IMAO, after all.

Other than that, iTunes itself seems to be pretty much unchanged—just lots of cosmetic updates, most of which make it look a lot crisper, if blazing trails into a whole new realm of UI language. I guess if iTunes is to be a true cross-platform application, Apple's thinking is that it may as well not look like a Windows app or a Mac app. That way everybody wins!

Anyway, now we've also got this:



Nano nano! So much for the iPod mini, then. This baby's priced the same as the mini, but it's Flash-based and considerably smaller—like a mega-Shuffle, really, with a color screen and scroll wheel and everything. The styling is regular-sized-iPod-scaled-down, not mini-like in that regard. And it's available in black, which everyone has been saying would be a big hit. So we'll see.

Meanwhile, the mini itself is gone from the Apple Store; but interestingly, the ad copy on the main iPod page discusses the mini and even has a link to an iPod mini buying page that's not available through the Apple Store itself. So I guess iPod minis are still available to those people who are dorky enough to read Apple's ad copy, or something. (Me! Me!)

Meanwhile, there's this Harry Potter tie-in, where all six books are now available as audiobooks, and you can even get a special-edition Harry Potter engraved iPod. That's something that may or may not fly well, but they've got plenty of data now on how well the U2 edition sold, and meanwhile it gives Apple that coveted Harry Potter mindshare, for whatever that's worth. Certainly it's not something these guys can boast.

Oh, and "one more thing"?



Be still my beating pancreas. Do forgive me for not leaping for joy at this one; aside from the ugly screen and the uninspired interface (no scroll-wheel on this thing), I really don't want to have to think about people using their phones as music players, or vice versa—whole downloaded songs used as ringtones, for example. I'm dreading the inevitable: soon, twenty times a day I'll be hearing I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT... I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT coming from tinny muffled speakers in the cubicle next door; then, once the owner manages to fumble the thing from his pocket and it's no longer muffled, you hear it again, louder: I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT... I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT —and it keeps playing while he gropes and stabs at random buttons trying to answer it. I just know it's going to happen. Maybe this was an inevitability of some sort; maybe Apple had to get into the cellphone market or be eaten alive. Maybe it was unavoidable that we'd one day be seeing text like "As the exclusive U.S. carrier for the Motorola ROKR E1, Cingular Wireless offers great plans to go along with your iTunes-enabled phone" on Apple.com product pages, each cellphone-marketing-weasel-penned word a tiny little rusty dagger to my heart. But I don't have to like it, and I can't help but think that all this does is dilute the iPod/iTunes brand and make it less cool and more the stuff of tedious workaday drudgery.

I guess that means iTunes has officially become infrastructural, in any case; but nobody ever said that wasn't a mixed blessing.

UPDATE: Now this is genius. Poor guy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005
17:12 - Evil bores me. It's one note; it doesn't sing!
http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2005/09/04/katrina-response-timeline/

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I'm still doing my best to avoid reading any news sources that try to drag politics into the Katrina disaster; unfortunately, that sort of rules out just about everything. So, assuming we can't de-politicize the coverage here and now, we may as well just pass the time until politicization is deemed appropriate, by reading sites like this one: Rick Moran's Katrina Timeline. It's probably the best we'll do for a while yet.

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© Brian Tiemann