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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Saturday, March 31, 2007
15:34 - Pointless thought of the day

(top)
If they were able to find such convincing "young versions" of the characters in Austin Powers: Goldmember that during the flashback to Austin's graduation, you could recognize even characters like Basil and Number Two even before they were formally introduced...

...Then why on earth couldn't they come up with someone with just a slight bit more resemblance to Patrick Stewart than the guy that played Picard's youthful doppelganger in Star Trek: Nemesis?

Baldness is not his only defining physical characteristic, you know.

Thursday, March 29, 2007
13:30 - The march of progress

(top)
Well, here's something they should have done a long time ago:



It's seemed faintly silly since day 1 to me that a feature like this didn't already exist. I mean, it seems like it would be a pretty common use case, doesn't it—the customer buys a single track a la carte, which is allegedly the whole benefit of buying music online rather than on CD, and then once the customer decides he likes that music enough, he goes back and buys the rest of the tracks. But that either means painstakingly buying each individual track from the album (which at 99 cents a track adds up a price usually higher than the $9.99 standard album price), or buy the whole album, which means you get a second copy of the track you already had.

How dorky is it that iTunes can't keep track of the music you've already purchased, and mark it as such in the interface, like with a grayed-out button or something? Or, to ensure that you can download something again if you really need to (like if you lost it), maybe just make it a different color?

But for that matter, this is a database, for crying-out-loud... all your downloads are carefully linked to your account, and you can review all your past purchases in the account management section. What on earth prevents them from giving you the ability to re-download something you already purchased? They know you already paid for a given track. It's right there in the database. The track hasn't changed; it's the same as it always was. The DRM is still keyed to the same set of computers. So what's the harm in allowing someone to download it again, without having to go plead with support and make a convincing case that you need and deserve to be granted leniency on their "backups are your responsibility; if you lose your music, tough luck" policy? What, indeed, is wrong with them having an "unlimited downloads" capability for items you've purchased—something you've bought shows up with a green button instead of a silver one, say, and you can always come back to where you got it from and download it again?

Hell, that would alleviate the whole problem with movie purchases and the space they take up both on your regular hard drive and on your backup media: once you're done watching it, just delete it. You can always download it again later. iTunes itself becomes your own personal storage and backup system. (Lord knows they've got a better backup system than you or I do.) Wouldn't that solve everything? What's the downside?

Bandwidth concerns on Apple's part, sure. I know I wouldn't want people re-downloading a 1GB movie file over and over again just because they can. But c'mon—couldn't you maybe charge a 10-cent re-download fee or something? Amortized over all downloads from all users, I'm sure they could recoup the added costs. And imagine the goodwill it would foster.

They'd probably sell even more stuff through iTunes, if people were to start buying tracks just to see the buttons change color—"Turn the whole store green", to coin a phrase. It would encourage completism, just like this "Complete My Album" feature appears to do. Hell, even the labels would like it.

Awesome as I think iTunes is, it's certainly got some baffling quirks. I'm sure they've got a good reason for going to such great lengths to prevent people from even thinking about downloading their purchases more than once. (Schoolmarms who scold you about not backing up your stuff don't grow on trees.) But I'd sure like to know what it is...



... Or, then again, maybe the question is simply "What took them so long?"

UPDATE: Stephen Rider draws a sensible conclusion from this, for the benefit of the "Steve's just grandstanding about DRM" naysayers:

One of the things I’ve noticed about Apple’s handling of its dealings with the music industry is that they never want to do anything until all of the Big Four labels are on board with it. They probably made this deal with the labels one at a time, but they didn’t want to go to the public and say, “You can buy the rest of some of your albums!”, as that would A) confuse consumers, and B) rub it in the faces of the labels that had not yet agreed.

It’s probably a similar situation with allowing DRM-free (i.e. unlocked) music. Surely some of the independent labels would allow unlocked music, (and in fact much of the indie music you can buy locked on iTunes you can buy unlocked on other web sites), but Apple is not going to make that change until all four of the big boys agrees to it.

It's a user-interface thing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007
17:57 - Holy crap I found it lol

(top)
Remember that song I couldn't put my thumb on?

Well, I found it, after it randomly came up on Pandora. It's "Rap Tight", by Eliot Lipp, on the album Tacoma Mockingbird.

I'm sure you were all on pins and needles, huh?

...Well, at least I'll be able to sleep better now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
14:38 - Speaking truth to POWR
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2107805,00.asp

(top)
Far be it from me to applaud the headline-seeking, fashionably "outrageous" posturings of John C. Dvorak, but this is just too cathartic not to endorse:

The phone as a societal mechanism has always been disruptive, in the sense that it gets an inordinate amount of priority in day-to-day activity. You can be standing in a long line at a store, and when the store's phone rings you are put into a holding pattern while the phone caller gets the proprietor's attention. Once in a while the proprietor will say, "I have a lot of customers here waiting to be served. I'll have to put you on hold." But it's rare, since the caller will invariably hang up, as if that was an affront, so the sale is lost. Over time the phone caller ends up in a special priority situation.

The same holds true with the mobile phone. How often have you heard, "Hold on, I have to take this," from someone you are physically standing in front of and chatting with? The world is put on hold when a mobile phone rings. The fact is, no one "has to take" the call. People choose to take the call. Is anyone going to drop dead on the spot if they don't? It seems unlikely. Whenever someone you're with answers the phone, you should immediately flash your middle finger and walk off.

Many's the time I've been sorely tempted. Especially when the person's side of the conversation that you hear goes something like:

"Hello?"
...
"Nothin', what about you?"

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© Brian Tiemann