What a load of hogwash. When we received the player the first thing we did was open it up to get a look at the inside. Imagine my surprise when I found that not only did the Lexicon share the same boards and transport as the Oppo - it was in fact AN OPPO BDP-83 PLAYER, CHASSIS AND ALL, SHOVED INSIDE AN ALUMINUM LEXICON WRAPPER. As far as we could determine, Lexicon didn't change a single thing in terms of the hardware. Heck, they didn't even lift the boards out of the chassis, opting instead to cut out the bottom of their own chassis to accommodate the venting locations, and putting a darker blue filter over the Oppo's VFD display to give it a slightly deeper hue.
They took an off-the-shelf Blu-Ray player, took the shell off, put on their own shell, and jacked up the price by $3000. And Lexicon is reportedly a respected, high-end manufacturer, not some fly-by-night. Awesome.
Friday, January 15, 2010
11:40 - The way of the future... the way of the future... the way of the future...
"Oh yeah, Solaris doesn't allow >8 character usernames. You filthy heathen, why would you want more than 8 characters anyway? POSIX says that's the limit!"
"Oh, but okay, we'll let you create usernames of any length, we'll just give you a bizarre error message that looks like the whole operation failed but is actually just a warning!" # useradd abcdefghi UX: useradd: abcdefghi name too long.
"And then when the user logs in and tries to change his password, he finds that the passwd command doesn't support >8 character usernames at all and tells him he's passwd'ing the wrong username!" $ passwd passwd: Changing password for abcdefgh passwd: User unknown: abcdefgh Permission denied
"Hah! Serves you right, you MORON. Now go back to your Sun console with Sun keyboard and Sun mouse and entirely Sun hardware chain from fingertips to motherboard that nevertheless makes those "^[[~" sequences whenever you press Backspace like it's never heard of your alien space technology before."
Meanwhile, even Linux (freaking Linux) has supported 32-character usernames since 1997.
Maybe the reason why Microsoft has failed so spectacularly to come up with a technology that people respect is that this was what they identified as their target.
So. A few weeks ago I gave Dominos a try, because you could order online. While I worry that the computer reduces valuable human interaction, I do not mourn the possible loss of talking to clerks who are confused by the concept of “Extra Sauce,” and have to put the phone down and yell for the manager because there doesn’t seem to be a button for it. I was impressed with the way you can construct the pizza as you like, although that was a bit like choosing the pattern on the upholstery for your electric chair: choice is not always a guarantee of a good experience. When I completed the order I was surprised to find a progress bar that told me what was happening to my pizza – when it was being made, when it went into the oven, when it left the store. Clever; it lacked only the option to track it from a satellite.
. . .
Years passed, and so many local pizza options became available I was surprised Dominos even existed. But now here it was, the New Formula. I tried. I was impressed. The crust is better – I actually ate almost all the crust, instead of leaving the bones for the dog – and the sauce has a definite punch. Doesn’t seem sweeter; if anything it’s less sweet. The cheese was fine. The extra sauce was well-proportioned – and yes, you can specify that on line. You are in control of the button. It is a small price to pay.
I agree, the new Domino's is a pleasant surprise. I'd more or less written them off years ago as too variable—they had the occasional potential to be quite yummy, but only (it seemed) on the basis of a particular store being taken in hand by a manager who cared about the pizza, which was a rare and evanescent thing. But now, to judge from the ads and the suddenly super-interactive website (which does a marvelous job of pretending it's higher-tech than it is, what with the "pizza assembly meter" display that is in reality just a dressed up time counter—it's not like it would get stuck in a certain phase if it took too long to cook or they had to start over or something), it seems they're taking the product seriously all the way up the chain. The crust is quite good with all the new seasonings, and the other toppings seem plentiful enough and well enough sourced as to put it head and shoulders over Pizza Hut (whose toppings are scanty and sauce is sweet).
I spent the weekend back in Silicon Valley, and one of my priority items was lunch at Round Table; just one bite and I know I'm back in another world entirely. I still haven't figured out what it is they do so differently—they don't have to play games with salting the crust or overcheesing the surface to make their product stand out with seemingly effortless ease. I paid close attention to their technique on Saturday, and all I can figure out that they do that's unique is:
• They perforate the pre-made crusts using a spiked roller, which I assume makes it puff up more while retaining a cracker-like thin crispy bottom surface
• They spread the sauce and cheese right to the very edge, or else they cut off the crust where other places would roll it up into a big doughy heel
But neither of those things account for the flavor difference between Round Table and lesser chains, which is immense. I don't know if I can attribute it only to their much-vaunted insistence on fresh ingredients, or if it's more to do with the particular suppliers they choose. But their sauce has a distinctive spiciness that's found nowhere else, their cheese is rich and perfectly textured in a way that only Chipotle seems to have matched as masterfully to their product, their pepperoni is punchy, their mushrooms thin-sliced and flavorful. But that's it. They don't sprinkle basil or brush on garlic or inject cheese into the crust; they don't have to. The fundamental product is really that good.
West Coast brands appear to be getting subsumed by East Coast ones lately; while in San Jose I saw that CVS/pharmacy had taken over Long's, so now a whole swath of shut-in Silicon Valley geeks get to make the obligatory "cvs checkout" jokes that presumably were funny everywhere else ten years ago; and Weichert Realty has begun festooning its staggeringly ugly black-Helvetica-on-safety-yellow signs upon awnings that formerly announced local realtors like ReMax and Coldwell Banker. They say that when national brands take over the landscape, every place looks just like every other place, and local character is lost; but if Wells Fargo can make inroads into the East Coast by buying Wachovia, then maybe there's hope yet of seeing Round Table making more of a widespread showing.
If not, I just hope it stays strong where it is. I couldn't handle it if they were to vanish from the pizza landscape altogether. And you always have to be able to go home to something petty and trivial that somehow perfectly accentuates the whole experience.