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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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
15:48 - Just the lift Ballmer needed
http://gizmodo.com/5101522/barack-obama-uses-a-zune

(top)
Oh for Pete's sake. Even Bush has an iPod. There'd better be a damn good explanation for this.

Via VodkaPundit.

UPDATE: Or not.

UPDATE: You know, this is exactly the kind of thought that struck me when I saw that they'd released a statement countering the Zune claim:

Except I didn't say anything at the time, so now I look like a tool.

I mean, c'mon, I was being facetious. They didn't need to go flying off the handle, right?



06:58 - Some nerds grow down
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/a-microsoft-veteran-embraces-open-source/

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Via JMH—it's news when a Microsoft veteran goes open-source. At least according to the Times.

However, I'm a bit skeptical that there's anything more to this than just a case of delayed adolescence. According to the article, Curtis only really took a hard look at Linux after he got bored and left Microsoft; while he was there, he just took his coworkers' word that it was crap.

And now he's full of insights like these, which wouldn't be amiss coming from a starry-eyed freshman whose roommate has just helpfully installed Debian for him on the gaming rig he brought from home:

“The key to faster technological progress is making software free,” he writes. “The difference between free, and non-free or proprietary software, is similar to the divide between science and alchemy. Before science, there was alchemy, where people guarded their ideas because they wanted to corner the market on the mechanisms used to convert lead into gold.”

He notes that there is an important parallel to the end of the Dark Ages, which came when society began to freely share advancements in math and science.

Oh riiiiight: closed-source software is like alchemy. Because before science came along, everybody got their gold from alchemists, who feared competition in their cornered market.

My God that's a moronic analogy.

I suppose it would be more accurate to talk about patent law and how it protects the secrets behind people's genuine and legitimate inventions from becoming commonly exploitable; but then it wouldn't have cool derisive vocabulary (like "alchemy" and "Dark Ages") to sling at a venerable and respected industry like commercial software. True, software patents are an iffy subject; but the concept of patents in general is sound, and has encouraged many an inventor to throw his life's savings into creating something that might make him rich and famous. One can only assume Curtis doesn't hold Edison in contempt for being an alchemist.

Okay, true, Curtis' trajectory has been an unusual one; most people these days form their opinions of open-source and proprietary software based on contemporaneous experience with both. But just because this dude is only experiencing Linux now after eleven years with Microsoft doesn't make his viewpoint any more insightful than—or indeed much distinct from—some college kid who got his first glimpse of the open-source world after a youth spent knowing nothing but Windows.

I'd like to hear what Curtis thinks of Linux after he's been using it on his desktop for five or six years.

Experienced software engineers in this day and age have plenty of seat time in front of software of all kinds, whether open-source or proprietary, and I would guess that the bulk of them understand that there are roles for both types in the future of the industry. Open-source does some things well, closed-source does other things well. I have maintained for a long time that server software is best suited to being open-source because it's infrastructural and just needs to serve a well-understood need, in a fairly rudimentary but totally correct way. People love to write to that need, and will do so for free, because often it's their own needs they're serving in the process. But consumer software, particularly multimedia-heavy consumer software, really desperately needs to be driven by a pervasive and entrenched culture of user interface design, and that's something you only get by paying people and paying them well. We've all seen what happens when open-source types—mavericks all—try to develop a user experience. Nobody can agree on which features to hide or simplify away or even on the overall vision, and without a hierarchy of command where design decisions are imposed from an overarching master plan (so that even if it's not the best possible execution, at least it's consistent), you either get a splatter of uncontrolled functionality, or splinter groups running off to do their own thing. Or both.

It's no great breakthrough for someone who's only ever been used to Microsoft software to suddenly discover Linux and go nuts over it. What would be newsworthy to me would be Microsoft learning to take a page from Apple and others who have embraced the open-source development model for those components where it makes sense, and recruiting seasoned engineers who are able to operate in both worlds, understanding the merits of both.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008
04:23 - And what generation of writers are you guys on again?
http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/01/the-simpsons-mocks-m-apple/

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Really. This is what The Simpsons is reduced to? Playing to a perceived popular anti-Apple backlash?

Few have been spared the satire of Matt Groening's long running animated sitcom. Last night, The Simpsons took on Apple, or uh, Mapple for a full 6 minutes of lampoonery -- a pretty harsh ride at a two-joke per minute pace. It all starts when the Springfield mall gets its very own Mapple store, "it's so sterile," gasps Lisa upon entering. Perhaps the best exchange comes from Bart's dubbing of a Steve Mobs' product announcement in front of a crowd of gaping nerds, "You think you're cool because you buy a $500 phone with a picture of a fruit on it. Well guess what? They cost 8 bucks to make and I pee on every one!" A Mapple store employee then angrily responds, "Who dares question the boss we fired 10 years ago and then brought back!" Yuk yuk. Videos after the break for as long as it takes for the copyrighters to wake up.

"Eat Up Martha" this ain't. I mean, sure, they're a much bigger target now... but so's Google and a bunch of other companies whose products have become ubiquitous for much better reasons than mooing mob mentality.

Lisa's their mouthpiece for social commentary as per usual these days; and her complaint is that the stores are sterile? Right, those barnyard-themed Gateway stores were a lot better.

Who really thinks the writing staff isn't completely populated with Mac/iPod/iPhone users anyway? Then again, maybe it isn't; maybe they're all bitter Luddites who fume about DRM, or self-satisfied techno-weenies who pay $600 for a contractless Blackberry and then laugh at iPhones that start at $200.

No wonder I stopped watching it years ago.

(Then again, maybe they're doing a "TruthMedia" thing, trolling for thin-skinned Apple dorks to write hasty, ill-thought-out snarky reaction blog posts about it out of context. Or something.)

Via JMH.

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