Stopped by the Apple Store today on the way to a movie, and played around with the new iPods.
Something I noticed about the nano—aside from the fact that it's really, really thin and shaped very attractively—is that its screen interface response seems really sluggish. Moving between screens, and especially using the Cover Flow interface, take a second or so to activate, at least some of the time. It's more than a little distracting. I compared it to the response on the iPod classic, which has ostensibly the same software feature set; the classic was much snappier. But then, the classic seems oddly bulky and heavy now, possibly because the new nano invites more direct comparison than it used to—now there's no intentional differentiation beyond capacity, so the things that are different incidentally—weight, bulk, interface speed—really stand out more than they used to.
I also noticed that the front faceplates of most of the display iPod classics in the store seemed to be blemished—scraped, nicked, gouged. I don't know what caused it or how easy it is to happen compared to past iPods, but somehow this anodized, bulging front faceplate seems to attract abuse. Now to just hope it resists it better in people's pockets.
The iPod touch, though, I found I have mixed feelings about. Sure, it's cool, and sure, the interface is super-slick; but I don't know if I'm just getting super-mega-ultra-jaded in my old age, or if Apple's just been spoiling us lately, but the experience of using it is oddly anticlimactic. I mean, yeah, I've played with an iPhone already. I know how it works. It's pretty much the same thing, without the camera or phone or maps or a few other things. Yeah, I can see using it. I'm sure it would revolutionize my life the way the original one did. But it didn't speak to me.
(Then again, maybe it was just the asinine comments I kept hearing from the people shouldering their way through the store:
"It's the new iPod." "Oh, the iPod touch?" "Yeah, it's like the iPhone without the phone." "Well that's pretty stupid."
Anyway—it's quite a lineup, that's for sure. But I don't need to go out and buy an upgrade just right now. There's plenty to like about the 5G I have.
And I'm not just saying that because it's looking at me with big sad puppy-dog eyes.
Hah! The dark forces of metric have been turned back at the gates:
The European Industry Commissioner now says he cannot even understand why there was ever a movement to homogenise measurements.
“When I looked into this matter it was obvious to me that there was no reason why imperial measures should go. And then we held a very wide-ranging consultation which confirmed how unpopular this move was,” Mr Verheugen said. “I think up to that point nobody had really asked the obvious question which is ’do we really need [to ban] it?’
“Things such as pints and miles and feet and inches are what makes us love Britain. We don’t want to get rid of them. The idea that you could not go for a pint in a pub in Britain is not acceptable.”
I guess if we're going to be humiliated, we might as well be in good company. And we might as well derive our humiliation from a victory, at that.
What I love about this story is how the commenters read right past things like this:
Almost forty years later the EU has concluded that trade is unaffected by the discrepancy in measurements; indeed exports to the US may be aided by the inclusion of imperial measures alongside metric on British produce.
... And say things like this:
The European Commissioner who pushed this backward move through the EC should be ashamed of himself. If he can't see the value in harmonising measurement across the EU then he is not fit to hold such a post! Every modern civilised society needs a system of measurement that everyone can understand and use, we don't need two or more.
Never mind what the numbers say; everybody knows the truth!
Beautiful. I'm lovin' this.
(Of course, I'm being somewhat facetious. ...Or am I?)
Okay, joke's over. What is going on with Apple these days? Will the real Apple please step forward?
Dorky first-run manufacturing defects, ugly ringtone software hacks—if Apple's trying to shake up the music and cell phone industries all on its own, I'm starting to wonder if maybe they've bitten off more than they can chew here.
Why am I reminded of a good old-fashioned mob war, where Apple starts strutting a little too confidently through the territory where it's cleaned out the corruption and won all the hearts and minds—until a long black car slinks up alongside and tommy-guns him to death?
(... Serial number. Heh... that was good, though.)
You know... I liked MS-DOS 5. It had DOSSHELL. Remember DOSSHELL? A nice, lean, logical file manager and app switcher. It was awesome. And of course Microsoft removed it from MS-DOS 6.0, because it was so good that customers like me preferred to keep using it rather than buy Windows.
So much for the simplicity and intuitiveness of the iTunes model of media ownership and enjoyment, hailed by legions since its inception. Now we're reduced to bitterly fuming about the weird bugs, stupid UI decisions, and bewildering legal labyrinth surrounding cell phone ringtones.
I don't know what's more depressing to me: that Apple couldn't make this feature work any better, or that so many people are so obsessed with ringtones that the labels feel they can get away with smacking Apple around with them to the point where this artificially crippled, disclaimer-riddled garbage is what they have to end up foisting on users.
In a perfect world (well, one that's perfect aside from the existence of cell phones, I guess), you could make any damn MP3 or AAC file you wanted into a ringtone. It's such a ridiculous thing to charge money for: you can't listen to it, it's bad quality, and you can't even control when you hear it. It's like paying $10 for a movie ticket, but you don't go into the theater right away; instead, at random times throughout the day, someone will tap you on the shoulder, stick a scratchy old 10-inch black-and-white TV in your face, and show you the first 15 seconds of the movie, and then run away. Boy, that's money well spent.
But then, I'm the kind of person who thinks it's hysterically stupid that all voice-mail features don't work like Apple's "Visual Voicemail". Messages appear in a list, and you can select them at random to listen to, rather than sequentially like on a tape? Wooooo. Why is this something to be proud of? This is freaking e-mail. We've had e-mail for thirty years now. How can this possibly be a differentiating feature? I feel dirty just thinking about a supposedly "modern" Apple technology that's forced to tout something like this as an "advancement".
This is precisely what I dreaded about seeing Apple wade into this cesspool with the iPhone in the first place.
Six years later isn't exactly a traditionally meaningful anniversary. But this time there's one thing in particular that makes it stand out: what with the leap year in between, this is the first time since 2001 that 9/11 has fallen on a Tuesday.
I remember in that first week afterwards, before anyone had decided what to call it, it was "Tuesday's events". In the second week, it was "the events of last Tuesday". And for the rest of September, I heard names bandied about like "Black Tuesday".
Most years on this date I tend to remember the unreal way the day itself went down, the headlines on the news sites, the lurid footage, the nervous IMs making nervous jokes about the poor Khlau Kalash vendor. But this year, instead, I find myself remembering the dull sense of unknowing dread that followed, in the uncertain days of mid-September. How seriously should we take the Taliban's on-camera follow-up threat of "a storm of planes"? Who was that Osama bin Laden guy—wasn't he the one who created Kimba the White Lion? Why do I have to learn about Islam all of a sudden? What does it look like when a nuke goes off in a city sixty miles away, visible above a line of rooftops out your bedroom window?
In some ways, it's just another Tuesday this year. A day to make appointments to get your car's climate control fixed, to sort out your third-quarter estimated tax payments, to get some vacuuming done. But in another sense, well... it is Tuesday.