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, July 27, 2006
21:13 - Geeks rule
http://www.ex-parrot.com/~pete/upside-down-ternet.html

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Suddenly everything is kittens! It's kitten net.

/sbin/iptables -A PREROUTING -s 192.168.0.0/255.255.255.0 -p tcp -j DNAT --to-destination 64.111.96.38

For the uninitiated, this redirects all traffic to kittenwar.

Brilliant.

Via Chris.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006
21:13 - Reply hazy
http://daringfireball.net/2006/07/magic_8ball_zune

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John Gruber's Magic 8-ball on the Microsoft Zune:

Q: So what they’ve done is leak a November release date and a fantastic feature list — a feature list that the next batch of new iPods, no matter how cool, are unlikely to match — and hope that people will wait for the Zune. And then even when it misses the holiday season and slips into 2007, and won’t include all of the previously-promised features, they’ll say it wasn’t their fault (despite the fact that the whole point of the Zune platform model is that Microsoft controls the entire system) but that it’ll be worth the wait anyway. That sound right?

A: SIGNS POINT TO YES.

See, here's the thing about the iPod:

Apple never put any features or capabilities into any iPod that they didn't think would sell, given the technical reality at the time. The first iPod didn't ship with a color LCD screen, though it could have, and though some hot-on-its-heels competitors did; did that slow iPod sales or benefit the competitors? Noooo. Apple could have put video support in the iPod back in the 5GB days (remember the Archos device with those four big round corner bits that played videos back in 2002?); but they didn't, and hardly to their detriment. Apple to this day does not ship FM tuner functionality built into any iPod model, much though every one of their competitors trumpets their own built-in radios; fat lot of good that does the competitors.

Instead, Apple has called just about every shot with almost uncanny accuracy. They waited until just the right time, when the technological market was just about right and everyone had big enough hard drives and was comfortable enough with TiVo'ing their shows and buying iTMS songs, to roll out color-screen iPods that played videos. You can be sure that they could have done so at any time—that they probably had video-playing iPod prototypes in their labs four years ago. But they didn't ship them until the time was right. And now the video-playing iPod is every bit the icon that the music-playing iPod was in 2003; and they might as well have invented the market for all the penetration anybody else's video-playing devices ever achieved.

Apple similarly decided to ship FM tuner functionality not as a built-in feature, but in the form of a dongle—a Radio Remote that you plug into the Dock connector and place inline with your headphones. Those people who want radio functionality can buy the remote; those people who don't—a pretty sizable majority—can forego it and save themselves $50. The dongle method is the preferred approach for all features Apple has opted not to put into the iPod itself: voice recorders, camera connectors, car adapters, you name it. And that goes for stuff that isn't even out yet, too. Bluetooth functionality, for example, could be hot-spliced into the iPod firmware and supported with a slim little dongle, and Microsoft's wireless-sync advantage would be gone like that. But there's a reason why Apple hasn't put Bluetooth into the iPod yet, and that's because they don't think the average user cares that much about syncing wirelessly or downloading Starbucks-endorsed music from their Starbucks hot-spot. Those users who might care about such a thing might exist in such numbers as to warrant the creation of a dongle; there surely aren't enough of them to justify building Bluetooth into the iPod directly. And the kind of people who would care about wireless syncing are the kind of people who don't mind using a dongle attached to the Dock connector; so Apple can continue to reap the cost benefit of not having to put a feature hardly anybody will use into every unit sold. Microsoft won't be able to claim that.

Maybe Apple is just continuing to be buoyed along by some irrational market force that forgives them all transgressions and rewards their every fortuitous move while spurning success from the hands of all the competitors who, God bless 'em, keep doing everything right that Apple's doing wrong. But that seems to me a tad unlikely. Apple's winning this fight because they keep hitting homeruns, whether in deciding on the opportune time to add photo-viewing or video-playing functionality to the iPod, or deciding which features to support in software for third parties to make dongles for, or sticking with the download-to-own, flat-pricing model despite all the pressure from everyone but their customers to go to a subscription model or variable pricing, or identifying heretofore untapped market segments like the no-screen-no-control one now dominated by the iPod shuffle. I can't help but think they know what they're doing. And if the iPod doesn't have the features the Zune promises, it's not because Apple isn't up to the challenge. It's because Apple has thought about it and decided it's not worth it. And given their track record thus far, I'm going to bet on Apple weathering the Zune storm and coming through dry and shiny.

I mean, geez—how could they not?

UPDATE: Chris M. writes:

Oh, and what happened to, um, sheesh I can't remember it's name. I'm not kidding, I can't. It was a small tablet-like PC. It had some sort of "viral marketing" campaign and now, as far as I can tell, it's gone.

The Origami? I think it folded.

UPDATE: Uh-kay then.



15:46 - Doom! Dooooooom!

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At the Japanese restaurant where we all just had lunch, there was a laminated sheet of paper sitting on the table warning customers direly that CAR BURGLARIES ARE ON THE RISE IN CUPERTINO.

I don't have the sheet in front of me (they took it away when the food came), but here's the gist:

In 2004 thus far [April], there have been 74 car burglaries in Cupertino. This number does not count thefts from cars that were unlocked. Cars have been broken into for cellphone charging cords, children's backpacks, even the change in the center console.

In 2001, there were 281 car burglaries, which remains the high for the five-year period.

There was a lot more to these paragraphs, including a few more, but these are the parts that stuck in my mind. It should be fairly clear why:

If the five-year high for car burglaries was 2001, and the rate partially through 2004 (when the paper was published, apparently) was 74, then how on earth are car burglaries rising?

If I'm reading this sheet right, the numbers would have had to go from 281 in 2001 down to idlyllic, pastoral levels in 2002 and 2003 for a figure of 74 partially through 2004 to register as a "rise" in any meaningful way.

Pardon my cynicism, but it seems to me that whoever put together this little sheet either took some piece of boilerplate from an earlier, more lawless time and just plugged in updated numbers; or else has some kind of heretofore unclear nefarious purpose in making people more paranoid about getting their cars broken into, and knew that even the true statistics look scary even if they're really not, as long as you frame them deftly. Because if you're just skimming over this paper, you wouldn't necessarily think too hard about those numbers and years and what they mean—all that is likely to register in your head is "Car burglaries on the rise.... highest in five years... lots of break-ins so far this year already... crooks lurking around every corner just waiting for their chance to swipe my iPod and stereo faceplate". But if you look at the numbers more carefully, and extrapolate the figure of 74 in April to a yearlong figure of 222, it looks a lot more like the figures are flattish and decreasing nicely.

I don't know who's in charge of the fear industry, but I'd like to buy stock.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006
19:56 - iTunes Moment of Zen
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=162753178&s=143441

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Okay, this is very likely the Most Incongruous Thing Ever™:



Man. Beat that.

(Then again, having heard it, it's hard to believe that that's really him. Maybe a much younger version...)


17:06 - Here I Come to Save the Day — again
http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/

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About frickin' time!



The wireless Mighty Mouse. Finally, no more need to putter around with the arrow keys simulating mouse movement while I tap away on the wireless keyboard from across the room.

All this time the wireless mouse has been the plain old one-button variety, and yet still $60 or so. Finally, the mouse lineup has been brought in line with reality. I'm so there.


17:03 - New cup day at Chipotle!

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If you can't hear anything in there, at least you can read the cups:
People We're Pleased to Know - Part 1

In 1984, Houman Iskandani found himself in France, alone, unable to speak the language and uncertain about his future. Sent there by his parents in a life-or-death effort to avoid compulsory military service in the Iran-Iraq war, Houman was 14 years old.

He scraped by, walking dogs and gardening while living in a closet-sized apartment. He sat in the back row of a class of first-graders to learn French. He taught himself first how to boil water, then to cook.

By 18, Houman was fluent in French, had graduated from high school and been accepted to college in the United States. A vacation took him to Denver, and the mountains and climate reminded him of his native Tehran. It was there he met and fell in love with Chipotle. We were smitten, too.

Now, years later, Houman happily oversees a number of our restaurants. He's a newly anointed American citizen with a wonderful wife, a home, and a dog he walks purely for pleasure. He has a contagious appreciation for life and a remarkable story he's reticent to share. Houman's journey always reminds us where character and fierce determination can lead.

It's a Houman-interest story.

Monday, July 24, 2006
15:32 - Money in the bank, that's right, a bank full of money

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The lunch conversation today took a turn down the iPod Accessories aisle. Specifically, I was wondering what's stopping the competing MP3 player makers from adopting Apple's Dock connector, the 30-pin, all-singing, all-dancing plug of the world.

I believe a big factor in the iPod's entrenchment in the market is the huge, multi-billion-dollar iPod accessory market. Companies like Griffin, Belkin, DLO, and a dozen more have all embraced the Dock connector as a published standard upon which to build their devices, from microphones to radio tuners to voice recorders to USB data bridges to Bluetooth adapters and everything else under the sun. Because all these things have standardized on the iPod's characteristic connector, you now see the whole industry as "iPod accessories", not just "MP3 player accessories". When you go to an electronics store, you head down an aisle that has the word "iPod" in its name, filled with all these toys that are explicitly—and exclusively—made for the iPod. Just seeing that kind of ubiquity is a psychological factor that further entrenches the iPod brand every time you encounter it, further establishing the idea that the iPod is "it": the gold standard, the Kleenex of MP3 players, and everyone else is an also-ran that's locked out of the gigantic accessory market.

But why? What's stopping Creative and Microsoft and iRiver and everyone else from using the Dock connector?

If they did, then the accessory makers would be able to advertise their wares as being "for iPod and all other MP3 players too"—and that would only increase their sales. Surely the accessory companies would jump at the chance. And if they did that, the whole accessory market would no longer be iPod-specific—the "iPod aisles" in stores would have to become "music player aisles", dismantling the iPod's de facto name ubiquity—and why wouldn't the competing MP3 player makers want that? They've got to know what a big bulwark the established iPod accessory market is against their success in breaking into the mindshare of the consumer base. Anything that combats it, it seems to me, they'd want to be a part of.

Unless it's just a "Not Invented Here" thing: We don't want to use Apple's connector standard. Which I guess I wouldn't put past them. But isn't that a dumb reason not to make a move that would net them a whole ready-made accessory market equivalent to the iPod's, essentially overnight?

The iPod competitors would probably instigate a lawsuit from Apple if they came out with music players that had iPod-compatible Dock connectors on them—but Apple would lose, because they certainly haven't guarded the Dock connector's schematics from the public, and even more certainly haven't fought back against every accessory maker in the world using those published schematics to make their own plug-in devices. Why would a Zen with a Dock connector be legally any different from a Belkin voice recorder that plugs into the bottom of an iPod? Who's to stop the Zen and the Belkin device from fitting together, other than the companies themselves? Do Apple's competitors hate Apple more than they like money?

The argument that Apple's standards are proprietary get more and more feeble with each iPod sold and each iTunes track downloaded. If the manufacturers who cling to "PlaysForSure" as a badge of openness and impartiality have any interest in securing a lasting legacy, it would be a pretty smart first move to use the public information that all the accessory makers have been freely using all this time, take a page from the history books that include VGA, RS-232, USB, FireWire, and Mini-DIN, and standardize on the Dock connector as the latest ubiquitous, cross-platform, infinitely useful connector design to unite the industry.

Time's running out for them to get a serious foot in the door.

UPDATE: I'm told that all the legit accessory makers have to sign an Apple NDA in order to find out how to interface with the software driving the connector, which presumably means that Apple wouldn't offer any such agreement to a rival manufacturer even if they wanted to jump on the bandwagon.


15:16 - Bigger hard drive
http://youtube.com/watch?v=oc4oP_ITqMc&search=macbook%20performance

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These Mac ads are even easier to spoof than the "Switch" campaign. What's cool, though, is that the best spoofs this time around are the ones that tacitly accept the ads' premise and expand on them, not the ones that contradict and attack Apple.

This is one of the best, though there are tons more.

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© Brian Tiemann