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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Thursday, December 22, 2005
20:28 - Aperchurn

(top)
Aperture has certainly come in for a lot of criticism already in its short life. Even if we (unfairly) dismiss the Ars Technica review as the work of a crank more interested in crowing over flaws he's found than in presenting a balanced review, the VersionTracker reviews (a solid 1.0 starsóouch!óthough the just-released 1.0.1 update is a whole half-star better), many from pro photographers with tart words for Apple, have got to count for something.

But then, so has thisóa much more positive take on it, also from a pro-photographer perspective; not without its guardedness, but also a lot more dedicated to making Aperture sing the way it was apparently meant to, in ways that those who see it only as a half-baked Photoshop imitator were unable or unwilling to ferret out.

Now this is the most important point I want to make. Stop concentrating on what Aperture WONíT do, and start concentrating on what it WILL do. Youíll get a bunch more out of the program if you take that approach. It is not, nor has it ever been, designed to be a Photoshop replacement.

Why are people so obsessively comparing Aperture to Photoshop? The blame has to be shared by three groups. The media hasnít helped because in the interest of getting a story done quickly, they used the easy comparison, i.e., Photoshop. The photo community is partly to blame for not being willing or able to open their minds to a new paradigm, and Apple is partly to blame as well. I think Apple made three big mistakes with Aperture. One: They over-hyped it - but then again, all companies seem to do this lately. Two: They overpriced it. $299 would have probably been a more reasonable price point and would have helped to manage expectations. Three: Apple rushed to market in order to get it out before Xmas and/or MacWorld. But the past is the past. Itís time for everyone to take a deep breath and look at the future.

In fact, the author, Scott Bourne, has a whole blog on the subject. This many posts so far, and it looks like there might be more to this than just an uncharacteristic whiff by Apple.

I sure hope so. Apple has a big opportunity to either own a market segment or lose it forever.

Via Daring Fireball.


11:25 - Cupcakes in the hizzy
http://thatvideosite.com/view/1341.html

(top)
Huh. Maybe Saturday Night Live has some life left in it after all: the Chronicles of Narnia Rap.

It's got that elusive absurdism thing that I don't think I've seen anyone successfully capture in anything not British.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
09:51 - At least the trains run on culture

(top)
Remember this?

AVC: Right, right. Culturally, how do you feel about it?

AM: It may sound weird, but I don't really look for culture, particularly in an American city. I went to Havana, and I was like, "Wow, there's culture everywhere!" I don't think the American government has a lot of respect for culture. That was one thing that I did notice when I went to Cuba was that artists are paid to be artists, and poets are paid to be poets, and musicians are paid to be musicians by the government. The governmentóand I'm not saying that the Cuban government's perfectóbut the government does place a value on culture. Much more so than here, where culture is just a matter of commerce. So, you know, I don't really look for that, and I don't expect to find it in any city. You know, I'm not crazy impressed with New York. I mean, I don't buy into that whole thing: Everyone in New York is all sophisticated, and they're into art and sophisticated things, and everyone in L.A. is just shallow entertainment people. I think people are just shallow across the board.

AVC: You mentioned going to Havana. What was it like meeting Fidel Castro?

AM: It was really cool. It's cool because it's Fidel, and it's a world leader, and there's so much history behind the man and who he is in this hemisphere. And then at the end of the day, he's, I think, just like a big mayor. There's only, like, 11 million people in Cuba. He's a big mayor. He just talked a long time, and he talked and he talked and he talked and he talked... and he talked. I think it was about four hours. But I guess that's part of the Castro spirit. But, you know, it was cool, and Cuba was fantastic, at least just in terms of... Not to romanticize or glorify it, but just seeing a place that had not really been touched by the hand of American capitalism. Because it's a genuinely different place. A lot of times when you travel, things start to feel the same from place to place to place, because the same people own everything all around the world, you know?

No wonder Aaron McGruder is the fresh hotness of the Turner empire:

Ted Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. Thereís really no reason for them to cheat [on nukes]....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. You know, just because somebodyís done something wrong in the past doesnít mean they canít do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time."

Wolf Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isnít that a fair assessment?"

Turner: "Well, I didnít get to meet him, but he didnít look ó in the pictures that Iíve seen of him on CNN, he didnít look too much different than most other people."

Blitzer: "But, look at the way, look at the way heís, look at the way heís treating his own people."

Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, butĖ"

Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."

Turner: "I didnít see any, I didnít see any brutality...."

ó Exchange on CNNís The Situation Room, Sept. 19.

Dictators know who their friends are.

UPDATE: Okay, I kinda didn't want to ruin the sheer impact of the direct quotes with too much blathering on my part, butóin the pictures that Iíve seen of him on CNN, he didnít look too much different than most other people?! What is this guy, an infant? I'm completely at a loss as to how someone can say something like that with a straight face, on national TV no less. How does such a toddling naif get to be in such a position of financial power? Did he free a genie from a lamp or something? Geez Louise.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005
22:32 - It slices, it dices
http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/?p=69

(top)
Interesting, if fanciful, take on the upcoming Intel Macs from Daniel Jalkut: he thinks they're going to drive Dell out of business.

A much under-discussed aspect of the new Intel Macs is that, as far as I have been able to glean, Apple has no plans to restrict the ability of users to install Windows on the machines. And why would they? Thatís the secret weapon! In the market for a new laptop? Has to run Windows? Why buy a Dell when you can buy a Powerbook with all the same abilities, a sexier design, and the added bonus of being capable of running Mac OS X? Apple is about start selling PCs, and the slightest bit of marketing or consumer word-of-mouth about this fact should ignite a huge increase in hardware sales for Apple at the expense of other Intel-based computer manufacturers.

Whenís the last time you sat in a room with a bunch of Linux/Unix nerds? Have you noticed what kind of computers they use? Sure, there are a bunch of PC-compatible laptops, but in many rooms Iíve observed that perhaps the majority of these users are using Apple Powerbooks. Why? Because people like nice hardware. Apple gained many of these customers without selling them on Mac OS X. They install Linux, BSD, or Darwin on their machine and otherwise continue their GTK/X-Windows/Whatever lifestyle as they did before. These users are the warning bell for Dellís collapsing customer base. People who run Windows in 2006 will be doing so more and more often on Apple hardware.

When Apple releases their first Intel-based computer, it will also be the first computer in history that has the ability to triple-boot Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, all with full performance and compatibility. When the computer maker whose designs have been the envy of the technology world for decades suddenly becomes the most compatible player on the block (Apple!?), youíre looking at a dangerous combination.

Letís imagine a hypothetical analogy. Youíve got all the car makers in the world. The Fords, Toyotas, Porsches, etc. They all make cars, and people donít love them, but they donít hate them. They get them from point A to point B, and some of them are even somewhat well designed. Now imagine the ďSuperlacarĒ that looks prettier and performs better than any on the market. Itís sexier than a Maserati, safer than a Volvo, and more fuel efficient than a Toyota Prius. The only problem is it runs on corn oil, while every other car on the market runs on gasoline. A small niche of the public buys into the car because itís just too sexy to pass up. They make excuses for the vats of corn oil they keep in their garage. They argue into the night with Honda owners that the Superlacar is a better choice, because itís just so sexy, reliable, safe, and (in the long run) affordable. The Honda owner agrees with most of the points, but itís damn inconvenient to store those giant vats of corn oil! For most people, itís just not worth it.

When Superlacar announces that, from this day forward the vehicle will run on gasoline, every other car maker in the world is screwed.

Interesting hypothesis, and there's lots of reason to doubt it, but there's plenty more there to support it too (mostly of the gut-feeling variety, but still, hard to argue with conclusively). True, Dell is still a significantly bigger company than Apple, but I haven't heard many fawning articles describing them as the darling of the burgeoning PC industry anymore. Ever since they brought out their first laptops with 802.11 cards, and said proudly that theirs were "the first wireless laptops in the world" (ignoring the fact that iBooks with AirPort were already a year old by then), their vaunted leadership in manufacturing efficiency has always seemed to be coupled with a curious lack of originality in design. Of course, originality isn't what people buy Dells for. But still, it's hard not to wonder whether manufacturing efficiency alone is enough to see Dell through the storms that have foundered IBM, Compaq, Gateway, and so many other PC manufacturers in a world where the trend has always been toward more of a closed-box computing experience from a big-name company and away from homebrew Frankenstein computers, a world where companies like the ones that have been fizzling ought to be thriving.

If Apple is indeed planning not to care about preventing people from running Windows on their Macs, it certainly seems like a win-win situation for themóit'd forgo any warranty on support, but for the people who'd do that sort of thing, a support warranty is worthless anyway. Apple certainly hasn't tried to keep people from putting Linux on their PowerBooks and taking them to geek conventions; why would they mind people spending the full price on a new Mac and then putting Windows on it of their own accord? Hell, I can see a whole potential business opportunity for value-add resellers who might put Windows on your Mac and support it for you. Why should Apple mind that?

The only unknown here is cost, and a Mac with Windows would certainly cost significantly more than a comparable Dell. Most people surely wouldn't have any reason to spend that money, just to get access to the Mac universe, regardless of how sanguine Jalkut is on the subject. But people within the tech industry would find it hard to resist.

Could this have been a factor in Apple's decision to go Intel? I kinda doubt it; but it would be a nice side effect, to be sure.

Via JMH.

UPDATE: For that matter, the "Superlacar" metaphor is flawed; it only holds if the Superlacar still retains all its desirable traits if you run it on gasoline instead of corn oil. But to make the metaphor consistent, the Superlacar would have to become dowdy, unsafe, and inefficient if you ran it on gasoline; if you wanted it to remain sexy and safe and economical, you'd have to stock all that corn oil like you normally would.

A Mac that you only run Windows on is just a Windows computer that looks stylish; it's no Superlacar. You've still got to run Mac OS X and buy Mac OS X applications in order to get access to the Mac-ness you bought.

UPDATE: Bob Crosley has a much more sober set of predictions.

Monday, December 19, 2005
23:03 - Lotta handprints on foreheads
http://www.jvc.com/presentations/everio_g/

(top)

JVC is promoting their new Everio as "the world's first hard-disk-based video camera". And I certainly haven't seen one before, so I guess they're justified in saying so.

What I wonder, though, isówhat took so long?

With 24 hours or more of high-res digital video storage, and with four years of iPod success proving that hard disks can withstand the heaviest of rigorous activity, what's the downside? Why didn't anybody do this sooner? Why have we been stuck with MiniDV tapes and little pygmy DVD-Rs? What's been the freaking hold-up?

I guess maybe price, but a camera like this has way fewer moving parts, so it's got to be a lot simpler in execution than a tape-based or disc-based camera, with their intricate ejection mechanisms. And there's always the consumable media question which is no longer relevant.

What am I missing? I mean, I'll grant that I didn't go on record with some prescient statement about the inevitability of hard-disk-based camcorders, not least because I never really thought about it too hard; but is that the excuse everyone but JVC is going to cop? I mean, congratulations to JVC, but it doesn't seem like the insight of the century to move camcorders to a proven and superior-in-every-way technology, does it?

Be that as it may, it seems like this could really be a drop-kick for home video production, as suddenly people will be forced to archive and edit their footage instead of just tossing it in a drawer. Maybe that's the answerómaybe it's that the camcorder companies had to wait until people were ready to use their computers as the backup libraries for their old movies instead of a shelf full of tapes, but it seems to me that that could have happened anytime since about 1999. Still, good to see it happening...

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© Brian Tiemann