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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 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Thursday, April 27, 2006
10:07 - I'm a tenth-level Vice President!

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Al Gore might have gained himself some hip cred by doing his recurring, self-effacing voice role on Futurama. But I think I'm pretty safe in saying that Trey and Matt didn't even bother asking him if he wanted to voice himself in last night's South Park.

"Manbearpig". Yowch.


10:01 - Join us... iiiiiit's bliiiiisss...
http://discardedlies.com/entry/?15075_bloggiemac

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Long-time reader, blogger, and correspondent evariste has recently become the blogosphere's latest Switcher, for which he credits me and my incessant zealotry. Ha! My undead army of the night grows!

I've been slowly learning my way around, figuring out how everything works. It's amazing how many things I had to hack and kludge in Windows are designed into Mac. Two simple examples: I had a program called AllChars installed so I could chord-compose accented and European characters, like č or ř or ĺ. That's built in on Mac. Or, I had a program called Find & Run Robot, so I could hit the Break button, type a few letters of a program's name, and it would search for it and let me launch it. This lets me start programs without having to mouse around awkwardly and dig through menus. Spotlight is built into my MacBook and it does that. Every little thing smacks of "wow, somebody thought of that and decided to make it easy". It's really amazing. This thing is just gorgeous. Oh, by the way: the keyboard senses the ambient light and if it's dark, there are lights underneath the keys that come on so you can see. The power connector is magnetically attached to the laptop, so if you trip over the cord, you don't make the whole laptop fall off the table-the cord simply disconnects and the laptop stays on the table, unharmed. There's an eject button on the keyboard, so you can eject a cd or dvd. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many beautiful, subtle touches there are.

Even though I can put Windows on it, so I can work on Windows stuff if I need to, it feels like it would be sacrilege. I'm going to avoid doing so for as long as possible, hopefully forever.

I'm sure he just needs to be "deprogrammed".

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
11:30 - Feeding the albatross
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,193058,00.html

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Dorky one-sentence-per-paragraph writing style aside, this Dvorak column seems to have at least a grain of sense in it. That being: Internet Explorer is, and has always been, more of a detriment to Microsoft than an asset.

Of this I can assure you: People will not stop buying Microsoft Windows if there is no built-in browser. Opera and/or Firefox can be bundled with the OS as a courtesy, and all the defaults can lead to Microsoft.com if need be.

That's probably right. And thinking about all the late-90s portents of having IE bundled into the OS, it doesn't seem that any of them have come true, have they? The Web hasn't standardized on any proprietary MS-HTML language. ActiveX controls have not become so ubiquitous as to force Mac or Linux users to switch to Windows just to get full access to the Web. Certainly there's nothing of 1996's breathlessly predicted "Internet Appliance" platforms, whether embedded in IE or using Java, the great perennial almost-ran of the tech world. "Push" technology and Active Desktop died a mercifully quick, but insufficiently painful, death. So Microsoft hasn't even gained any benefits from its hubristic and legally vulnerable bundling effort.

Contrary to everyone's predictions, the Web pretty much stopped developing around 1998. Sure, everything's become more CSS-driven since then, but Flash is now the platform-agnostic application platform of choice, and it doesn't depend on any magic next-generation hocus-pocus like Java or jealously guarded corporate holy-water like ActiveX. All those wondrous layout technologies like multi-column flow and on-demand fonts that I remember seeing marvelous demos of circa 1998 seem to have vanished through lack of interest, and the only efforts that seem to have a stake in the Web's potential future are things like high-DPI rendering. And in the meantime, the basics of the Web are still perfectly serviceable using the technologies we all had available to us ten years ago. Which means open-source Web rendering efforts like Mozilla and KHTML (hence Safari) can efficiently do the job that corporate development can't seem to handle, on the same model as has made Wikipedia a respected information source and allowed Apache to trounce IIS and other corporate Web servers right up to the present day: if the feature set is known and established, the open-source community will make it asymptotically approach perfection.

If Microsoft's business is based on selling more copies of Windows and Office, then Dvorak's right: they don't need to worry about making sure everyone's using IE. It doesn't help them, and it's only hurt them and only continues to do so. But even if their goal is mindshare and corporate goodwill, IE fails to gain them anything there either—it's been a source of nothing but pain, both to them (in security holes) and to Web developers (who try to do awesome CSS stuff that every other browser supports, like alpha blending, the min-width/min-height properties, dotted line styles, and a host of other features that would make layout a joy if only IE supported them). If the goal is to make people look at the blue "e" logo with fondness, it's not working.

I wonder if it would speed up Vista development if Microsoft dropped IE? Or if anybody would notice?

Via JMH.

UPDATE: Via Steven Den Beste, a MetaFilter post explaining Microsoft's rationale for making IE: in short, not to advance the state of the art on their own, but to prevent anyone else from doing so.

It's a move you'd have to be a MSFT shareholder to love. Not that such folks are loving anything today.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
01:00 - Revolutions
http://www.angellabsllc.com/resourse.html

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Well, if this is remotely for real, it's hella' cool:



Those numbers sound awfully extravagant, but mechanically it looks very plausible—as elegant as a Wankel design, except with a shape that would actually generate torque. No reason why it shouldn't work. The question, of course, is whether it works as well as they claim...

Commentary from the informed (and otherwise) at Autoblog.


14:22 - SET VAR MOLEHILL="mountain";
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=1936

(top)
Here's today's most misleading headline: Apple's Intel-Macs Begin Shipping with Windows XP Pre-Installed. (Via Aziz Poonawalla.)

No, Dvorak/Cringely/whoever I see jumping and gesticulating in that unmistakable "See? See?" posture: This article is not about Apple suddenly deciding to sell Windows at the online Apple Store and make it a BTO option on new Intel Macs. It's actually about MacMall, an online Mac reseller, optionally preloading Boot Camp and Windows on their stock.

They're not actually the first to do this, but it seems to be becoming a trend, and naturally the tech press is keen to get started misinterpreting it.

What this is about is VARs spotting an opportunity. They know Apple won't be selling Windows, because they know Apple doesn't want to support Windows; so these VARs, ever keen to find some Value to Add, are taking up the slack and offering a Windows bundle to those customers who would otherwise want to play the Boot Camp game on their own steam. If the article's numbers are correct, it even sounds like a decent bargain over going it alone.

VARs have been looking for an edge against the Apple Stores for years now. It's been very slim pickings, too; Apple has been so aggressive about pushing the customer service experience into the hands of the staffers at the Genius Bars that the venerable Apple Certified Reseller network is slowly but surely drying up. Apple has been making it increasingly difficult to be a VAR, whether by being slow with new product shipments, coy with service contracts, stingy with reimbursements, or simply by making the Apple Stores too damn cool for customers to want to go anywhere else. Naturally the VARs see the Boot Camp opportunity as a cash windfall: money in the bank, theirs for the taking, for once in a decade. I'm surprised it's taken them this long.

(Now wait'll they start realizing they'll have to support Windows too.)

Steven Den Beste said in e-mail that the interesting thing about this is seeing how well the Windows bundled Macs sell. And indeed it will be, but the trick is figuring out how to interpret the numbers.

"A Mac that also runs Windows" is not a product that's replacing any single trackable existing item people have been buying; MacMall is selling to a market that has never had a single-source solution for this problem before.

What should we compare the sales numbers to? They're going to comprise people from three distinct categories, all quite different:

1) People who would previously have bought both a Mac and a Windows box;
2) People who bought Macs, and just did without Windows even though they wouldn't have minded having it;
3) People who almost bought Macs, but decided against it at the last minute because of certain indispensable Windows apps (or games).

The numbers won't really tell us anything substantive, unless we know which of these categories the buyers came from.

I mean, hell, if I were in the market for a new computer, I would probably buy one of these things. I'd love to have a Windows boot available so I could do screenshots and documentation for my books, instead of having to mooch off my roommate's machines; and if the article's numbers are accurate, it sounds like a better deal than buying a Mac and a separate retail copy of Windows. That doesn't, however, mean I'd want to use it for my daily computing.

Monday, April 24, 2006
09:33 - That'll make some people happy
http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/

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Portable Intel Macness now available in 17 inches. They're claiming a 5x increase in speed this time—5.5x if you're talking about floating-point operations. Dang, those PPCs must have really sucked at FP ops.

Though as Chris notes, this laptop has FireWire 800, so reports of its demise with the transition to Intel are apparently greatly exaggerated.

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