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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12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
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11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, January 18, 2008
08:35 - The Ultimate Rubber Band Gun
http://gizmodo.com/345666/disintegrator-gun-shoots-40-rubber-bands-per-second-provid

(top)
Well, that's pretty frickin' cool.

Via Mark.


Thursday, January 17, 2008
19:51 - Ben Franklin too
http://homestarrunner.com/trogday08.html

(top)
Hey, look—I share a birthday with the Internet's most famous dragon!



17:01 - Who invited you, Facebook?
http://www.cracked.com/article_15825_internet-party-what-happens-when-googles-parent

(top)
These Cracked people have really reinvented themselves since the days of being a low-rent MAD ripoff. This video is pure undiluted genius from beginning to end.

For some reason, Digg is my favorite. "<stare>...Go on!"

Via CapLion.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008
22:46 - Sillier than Air
http://www.manilamac.com/

(top)
Yes, you can fit a MacBook Air inside a manila envelope. For as long as you own one.

Via Chris.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008
13:31 - Upstaged

(top)
So I'm not wowed by the MacBook Air. I mean, what I'm hearing is that the selling point for this thing pretty much begins and ends with "image". How much people will drool when you whip it out on the plane; how much bragging rights it will afford you in the thinness wars; and so on. Nobody's talking about usefulness, just how "cool" it is.

Which is fine; I mean, nobody's denying that that's what's driving a lot of iPod/iPhone/Mac sales lately. But to build a whole product around coolness rather than usefulness? I dunno, man.

(The most surprising thing, to me, about the MBA is that it is not the spiritual descendant of the 12" PowerBook G4 that everyone has been pining after since it left the market. For all its thinness, the MBA has a larger screen, keyboard, and footprint than the 12"PB did, and at twice to three times the price. What people wanted, I think, was something in the MacBook Pro range that came in at the $1700 price point with "Pro" features, yet with a screen and footprint smaller than the MacBook. Thinness does not trump rectangle dimensions for portability, especially if you have to pay out the nose for it and give up a ton of core features. I think that even with the MBA, there's still ample room in the lineup for that elusive, hard-drive-frying, power-socket-breaking, 12-inch will-o-the-wisp of yore.)

But that doesn't mean I think today's announcements in general are a wash. For me, the big winner is the new Apple TV—or, should I say, the new software back-end for the old Apple TV, because all the new stuff that pretty squarely answers all of my gripes about the Apple TV I already have at home is going to be showing up in a free software update in a couple of weeks. Bitchin'.

The demos are brief, but they speak for themselves. YouTube is no longer the only community Web service that can be accessed from your couch; now there's Flickr too, as well as the .Mac Web Gallery feature introduced in the latest iPhoto, and new browseable podcasts. Movies can be rented (from all the major studios, in regular or HD, for $3 or $4 respectively, or $4 and $5 for new releases, which gives you 30 days to start watching and then 24 hours to complete it—more generous terms than Microsoft's by a good margin), TV shows can be bought—though TV shows can't be rented or movies bought—right from the Apple TV interface. Music can also be bought. And crucially, everything you buy gets synced directly back to your iTunes library, which is what I was just thinking last night would be a critical component. It's a no-brainer: wherever you buy your media from, whether your computer, your iPhone/iPod touch, or your Apple TV, it all goes into the same data store and gets synced across the whole media universe in your household. Which means that the hard drive size is really pretty much immaterial, which is great—it means the new entry-level price of $229 (down from $299) will be the prime calculus. It now comes in comfortably lower than the Xbox 360, and with a better value proposition for what it does (well, aside from the whole "games" thing). I wouldn't want to buy a whole new box for this, but—glory be—I don't have to! I call this one a big fat win for Apple, and I'll be renting movies left and right as soon as I've got the thing upgraded. Netflix might lose a lot of customers to this model. Especially since it's Mac/PC agnostic.

One question I have is: whither movie purchases? Granted, I've spent a lot of time grousing about how renting is actually a more appropriate model for movies than buying, and how the to-date preferred purchase-to-own deal in iTunes is less compelling and probably a lot less lucrative than if they were to bend on the "we don't do rentals" mantra and allow it for movies if for no other kinds of media. But now that we have that... what about buying movies through the Apple TV? There doesn't seem to be a way. Yet I presume that the movies that have always been for sale in iTunes are still for sale there. So—am I reading this correctly?—you can buy but not rent movies through iTunes on your computer, whereas you can rent but not buy movies through the Apple TV. Is that the shape of it?

Ideally I'd like there to be a way to buy movies through the Apple TV and have them sync back into iTunes like the TV shows and music videos and songs you buy through the new couch conduit. Less important, but also nice, would be the ability to initiate a rental from the iTunes side, sending the data stream straight to the Apple TV. The usefulness of this is not clear to me, but the user-interface simplicity is: you ought to be able to expect that any movie Apple offers you can be had either as a $4 rental or a $15 purchase, and you ought to be able to do either one from any seat in the house.

That said, I'm not complaining. This development is friggin' sweet. And it's only going to get better. One thing that the keynote mentioned but that doesn't seem to be on any of the PR material is that Fox is so far on board with the new model that they'll be putting "iTunes-friendly" versions of their movies onto new Blu-Ray discs along with the regular for-direct-play streams. How cool is that? No doubt there will soon be more pleasant surprises where that came from.

Other interesting announcements include Time Capsule, which is Apple's answer to the freestanding NAS market—and a bloody fine one, as it incorporates not just seamless storage for Leopard users (and standard network storage for everyone else, including PCs), but also a Wi-Fi base station. This means that Apple's Wi-Fi offerings now comprise a genuine family of products—from the AirPort Express (wow, they're still selling that?) to the AirPort Extreme (with its new USB shared hard-drive deal) and now Time Capsule. Apple was first out the door with AirPort back in 1998 or whenever it was; it's good to see they're still keeping in the game after all this time.

Nice set of announcements. I suppose it's inevitable that they made the MacBook Air the headliner this time; but to me, it's pretty much everything else that makes it worth the wait.

UPDATE: Gruber has the details on movie movement as gleaned from the new updated TOS document in iTunes.



10:46 - One of these men is crazy

(top)
Okay, this sounds like an Oscars™ Moment in the Making or something.

Randy Newman took the stage at the end of the Stevenote and started singing... well, I'll repeat what Jason Chen of Gizmodo said:

10:32 AM ON JAN 15 2008
And for the entertainment at Today’s keynote, Randy Newman.

10:34 AM ON JAN 15 2008
Randy’s singing a song about America, the president, and comparing them to Hitler and Stalin. USA! USA! USA!!!!!

10:36 AM ON JAN 15 2008
“It pisses me off a little that the Supreme Court is going to outlive me.” What the crap is he singing about? We have no idea. We think he’s gone nuts.

10:39 AM ON JAN 15 2008
The first song’s over, but now Randy Newman’s just riffing about random stuff. The next song is from Toy Story. Randy says he wrote another song to go with the love scene between Buzz and Woody, but the scene was cut. This guy is blowing our minds right now.

10:41 AM ON JAN 15 2008
Aaaand it’s over. Holy crap. Who knew Randy Newman, the guy who makes the songs your kids play over and over and over again, would sing such crazy crap about our government?

Oh, I don't know, it's pretty hard to find any song or artist in the modern age who doesn't indulge in America's Favorite Pastime. But what I want to know is, did Steve know in advance that Randy was going to go off like that about Toy Story and such? Did he see this as his Michael Moore spotlight time? Is Steve going to have to give him a talking-to? Has Randy finally lost it entirely?

Or was this all part of the plan?

I don't know about these people sometimes...


Particularly when we're talking about stuff like this:



Is it just me, or is this a ridiculously overpriced, feature-poor, and generally useless pig of an idea? Who would pay $3000 for a laptop with far fewer features than a regular MacBook?

It's not like you're going to be able to stick it in your pocket or something. You'll always be conscious of a computer being there. There will be a huge market for slipcovers and bags and stuff. It's never going to be something that's any less a weight on the mind when you carry it around.

In other words, it's all the cost and all the drawbacks of a large laptop, plus some extra drawbacks in the form of no optical drive or FireWire or hard drive space... and the benefits? Lightness? Thinness? Dude, being able to fit a computer into an envelope isn't worth $1000 to me even if you don't reduce its feature set. You'd have to pay me to use a computer like this.

But that's just me, I guess.


UPDATE: Okay, well, the share-a-nearby-desktop-computer's-optical-drive feature is pretty frickin' cool.

UPDATE: Gizmodo's hands-on from the show floor.

UPDATE: Yeah, you'd have to be a humorless Bush supporter in order to not enjoy this.

What's funny is that in the YouTube comments, it appears that European listeners are taking his diatribe as not being anti-Bush and anti-patriotic enough, in that he frames the whole thing as "Well, our leaders are the worst we've ever had, but at least they're not as bad as all these European leaders in history!" To which the Euros in the audience react by saying, "Hey, come on now, you're judging us based on Hitler and Stalin and Caligula? C'mon, that's not a way to solicit friendship!" Ha. I chortle.

Though I've got to admit that at least the "song" was actually more coherent than the random babbling he followed it with.

Dude. What the hell.


Monday, January 14, 2008
17:27 - Renter's Insurance
http://daringfireball.net/2008/01/macworld_expo_predictions

(top)
Gruber:

Jobs has called Apple TV a “hobby” for Apple. I think they have high hopes for it, but calling it a hobby is a practical way to buy time for it. What Apple did with the iPod was start as small and simple as they could — one device, in one configuration, only for the Mac, and all it did was play recorded audio — and then build the platform slowly from there. Things like Windows support, color screens, video playback, and expanding to a range of form factors all came incrementally.

I think that’s the plan with Apple TV. Start simple and humble, and build from there, year after year. One obvious improvement (albeit contingent upon another rumor) would be to allow us to buy (or rent) movies and TV shows directly from the iTunes Store, right from the Apple TV. If the iPhone can do it, the Apple TV should too.

I'm surprised he didn't mention this, but the plain fact is that Microsoft is already in this market space and milking it for all it's worth. It's called the Xbox 360, and it does precisely what the Apple TV is rumored hopefully to do after some changes and earthshaking announcements.

I've seen one at a friend's place—a 360, that is. It's got an always-on connection to the central video store. It's got a browseable catalog of every TV show and movie known to man (well, okay, only 48 titles at its launch in November '06, but one can only assume that was just a starting point). It's got a pricing structure based on those Xbox Marketplace points. The 360 has a keyboard (wireless, naturally) and a mouse, and when you decide you want to watch a movie or a certain episode of South Park, you don't have to go to your iTunes computer, look it up, purchase it, then sync it to your Apple TV or wait till it shows up in the streamed media menus—you just select it right there on the TV screen, like you'd select the on-demand stuff from cable, only with a much higher-resolution display and full-color preview cover shots and so on.

If this is anyone's vision of Apple's future, I hope they're prepared to accept the idea of it being a vision of Microsoft's past.

Granted, I'd love to see Apple do this; it seems like a no-brainer, since if they've gone to the trouble of making the Apple TV in the first place, and of making it so slick and polished and pretty, you'd think they were prepared all along to take the (seemingly trivial) next step of having it be able to rent stuff straight from the iTunes Store. It's not like there are any esoteric technical hurdles to clear. It's not like it can't already browse YouTube. It's not like it doesn't have a hard drive. It's not like it's any less capable a computer than a 360 or a PS3 or a Wii, all of which have nailed-up connections to a central digital store for buying random bits. And in this case it's got a built-in infrastructure in the form of Apple, lock-stock-and-barrel owner of the largest and most widely recognized digital marketplace in the world. It's amazing that they haven't connected the dots yet.

If Apple has any thoughts in its head about keeping the Apple TV alive as a brand and a product, they need to not only match the offerings that Microsoft has had on the market for more than a year now—they need to kick it out in front of the pack, like by having the entire library of iTunes TV shows and movies available for rental, for cash amounts rather than "points", and by offering rental terms that are at least as generous as Microsoft's. Plus more. There needs to be a killer-app-ness to it, something to justify our having to wait around with a weeny stopgap iTunes-to-your-TV bridge for a whole year while the Xbox runs around eating all of Apple's coolness points.

If they don't, they might as well kill the Apple TV brand here and now, because it's already an antiquated idea. Sure, it works great and looks great. But it's only got a fraction of the functionality not only that it could have in an ideal world, but that the general public might reasonably expect it to have, after having ever poked at an Xbox 360 on a pedestal in Best Buy.


UPDATE: Yes... yes, that will do nicely.

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