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Jan. 30th, 2010


Where the conversation with me went…

Some people have such fragile egos that they can’t stand any criticism of things they personally (and often irrationally) like.  If you question them on it – even in a polite and civil manner, they explode.  Usually this sort of behavior is reserved for religious zealots, but fans of certain ‘technology’ can be just as bad.

Case in point – a certain person I know who used to be a rational, civil and even thoughtful debater.  Now, he’s someone who only sees a particular viewpoint and can tolerate absolutely no criticism, no matter how constructive or civil that viewpoint may be.  In fact, he deletes comments from his journal when questioned on such topics.

Exhibit A – he blows up at someone who enjoys using their computer to play games.  He states that the person has ‘sold’ their freedom to play games, and that’s lame.  Really?  Selling your freedom to look trendy is so much better?  Giving up your freedom for a Fisher-Price computing experience, that’s not lame?  Give me a break.

The victim of his vitriol in that case responded with the question, “Do you even know who I am anymore? Has it really come down to this? You've forgotten so completely?” I feel exactly the same way, although frankly, I have no idea who he is anymore either.  The guy I knew wasn’t petty to the point of deleting dissenting comments from his journal.  He felt his input carried enough weight that it wasn’t eclipsed by an opposing view.

Exhibit B – the comments I left on this post, which were summarily deleted.  I tried to have a civil discourse about this new product which he was obsessed with.  I guess given the fact that the general consensus about the device is negative, he’s decided (in the image of the devices creator) to create a little walled garden of happiness where everything is joy and love for it.  A place where he can post the 3 positive articles about it that he’s spent hours scraping the web to find.

The worst part is that he swore up and down he wouldn’t become this way (and probably still thinks he isn’t).  I had a feeling it was inevitable.

Jan. 29th, 2010


Flash poll on Ars

On Ars Technica they’re doing a poll on whether or not people want Flash on the iPad.  The leading answer (as of writing) was 32% for people who wanted Flash to be available on the device (and want the device itself).  Not surprising, much web content out there is made in Flash.

The interesting thing is the comments.  Nearly all of them are people bitching and whining that Flash is a proprietary format owned by Adobe, and thus they’d like to see it gone.  How much of that is a legitimate gripe against Flash, and how much is inspired by owning certain devices which epicly fail to support it, I can’t be sure.

I do have to agree though.  Flash is poorly written.  It uses way too much CPU and way too much memory.  HTML5 video as a replacement would be a great leap forward.

However, there is another similar plug-in.  I’m tired of clicking on a video link or trying to watch a movie trailer, and then being told I need to install some poorly-written, third-party, proprietary piece of garbage called “QuickTime” to watch them.

I’m hoping however that the company who is rallying against proprietary crap plug-ins believes that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.


Recalls, admissions…

I’ve been following the Toyota recalls lately with some confusion.  From what people who’ve purchased them have told me, quality was a big motivator in most cases.  What is most interesting though, is that apparently that image has been nothing more than that – an image – for quite some time.

An interesting article from David Olive, business columnist at The Star posits that their reputation for quality was lost ages ago.  He also points out that Toyota isn’t doing the right thing by recalling the cars for altruistic reasons, but rather that they are forced to by US law.  And of course, if they can’t sell them in the US, there is little point in continuing production at all until the problem is resolved.

Apparently, the reason for the decline in quality has been due to Toyota constantly trying to push down production costs.  By using the same gas pedal in numerous vehicles, and sourcing them all from a single supplier, the costs and delivery times are drastically reduced.  The problem of course is that they’ve put all of their proverbial eggs in one basket.  If the pedals are bad in one model, they’re now bad in 10.

Makes me glad I went with Honda, not that I ever truly considered Toyota in the first place.  Back in the late 80s/early 90s my father bought a Tercel Station Wagon, which turned out to be the biggest piece of crap my family ever owned.  The interior was cheaply made to put it nicely, the thing had 4WD, which if you ever used – you’d be hard put to get out of.  The transmission died twice in the two years we had it.  It was rusting like an SOB when we finally sold it.

Back on the iPad topic, after the keynote, Steve Jobs was questioned about the battery life, and whether or not you’d be able to read for 10 hours on it.  A reasonable question, since while he’d said you get 10 hours of battery life – he didn’t provide any information as to what that 10 hours would be composed of (video, reading, etc).  In the end, he says “you’re not going to read for 10 hours… you just end up pluggin’ it in”.  Interesting.

Jan. 28th, 2010


iPad.. heavy flow edition

As some of you may know, I’m not a big Apple fan (although I do have an Apple keyboard, which could only be better if were designed to work with Windows).  At the same time though, I was expecting a lot more from this tablet announcement than was delivered.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is going to be a flop – I have no idea where it’ll go.  Maybe it’ll be as big as many of other Apples huge sales successes like the Newton, AppleTV or the MacBook Air.

Several rumors attributed to ‘anonymous’ Apple employees had stated things like “you’ll be surprised how you interact with the tablet” and “it’ll have a bit of a learning curve compared to anything you’re used to.” I had expected Apple to come up with some sort of paradigm-shifting interface that never materialized.  Some proposed it would have some sort of 3D interface (based on patent filings).  Again, no-go.

After the demise of the CrunchPad, I was thinking this might even be on my list (the low-end model still might be, strictly as a lightweight web surfing device), had some of these rumors turned into fact.  This was not the case.  In the end, the device ended up being nothing more than an iPod Touch on steroids.  Judging by the critical reception it’s receiving (even on Apple-heavy sites like Ars Technica) I’d have to say that I’m hardly the only person who is underwhelmed.  Many rabid Apple fanboys are also less than enamored with it.  It seems like a product that was rushed to market.

Some of the big gripes people seem to have with it;

1. No SD/CF card port, so you can’t transfer photos onto it.  Well, they have an accessory kit for this purpose which includes a dongle that does this, but only for SD.  The lack of a CF card port limits to amateur photographers only, as SD is typically confined to low-end cameras.  The reason it wasn’t included was relatively simple (no, cost is not an issue, it costs next to nothing) – if you could add your own memory to it, then why would you pay Apple for a model with more storage?  After all, Apple charges about twice as much for the flash as you’d pay for an SD card of the same size. 

2. The 3G option is excessively priced.  This is a no-brainer.  At the type of volumes Apple is planning on a 3G chip would cost under $30.  $130 extra is exorbitant.

3. No webcam.  Honestly, I have no explanation for this one.  The module itself for basic webcam functionality would be under $15.  It also seems like a no-brainer type feature for video chat (iChat, or whatever).

4. Still no Flash support.  Sure, you can go on a retarded rampage about how you don’t like Flash, but the fact of the matter is that most websites that embed video require Flash.  I don’t like Apple, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant.

5. The name.  Yes, it’s a horrible name, ripe for satire.  Some people anticipated iSlate as the name, but frankly, that makes little more sense.  Let’s face it, with one of Apples major brands being the iPod, they’d be hard put to not name this device in a similar fashion.  It was too hard for Steve to resist, and since Steve doesn’t understand humor…

6. Positioning – what market is it targeting?  Some people erroneously believe it has the netbook squarely in it’s sights.  It doesn’t.  Netbooks are full-fledged computers with real operating systems, on which you can install anything you’d like.  Do they last 10 hours?  No, maybe 7-8 at best.  But they have cameras, keyboards and general utility that the iPad lacks.  But they’re underpowered!  No.  You’re wrong again.  An Intel Atom running at 1.6GHz is roughly equal in performance to an ARM Cortex A8 at 1GHz.

Also, a netbook multitasks.  Apple still wants to go back to the early days of MacOS with no multitasking.  If you’re an Apple fan, that’s right – you’re too stupid to understand the concept of two things running at the same time.  Steve knows better than you do, let Apple help you.

The device also fails to reach criticality at either end of the spectrum.  It doesn’t have a physical keyboard (without carrying extra crap), and isn’t powerful enough to replace a notebook/netbook.  It won’t replace an iPhone either since it has no phone functionality – and the iPhone can do pretty much everything the iPad can.  Plus, if you’re using both an iPhone and iPad on the go, you’ll have two 3G connections to pay for.

Ostensibly, it is also trying to target the Kindle and other e-readers, even though it is woefully ill equipped to do so.  We spend enough of our time staring at LCD screens, and every study done has shown far less eye fatigue reading a display that uses reflected light.  It also won’t be particularly usable outside in sunny conditions – a flaw in all LCD panels that don’t use transflective technology. 

7. Stylus input.  Truly puzzling why this was omitted, as again, it seems like a no-brainer.  When you’re walking around holding a device like this, the most logical form of input is handwriting.  Unless of course, you don’t have handwriting tech that is up-to-snuff.  Hunting and pecking with one hand on a virtual keyboard would be painful at best.

8. Aspect ratio.  Using a 4:3 screen is puzzling, given that we live in an age where practically all new content, be it movies or TV are created with 16:9 in mind.  The low resolution of the screen has been criticized as well (1024x768), although this is likely a combination of two factors; a) keeping the cost of the device low, and b) the processor can’t really drive much more than that anyway.

9. More vendor lock-in.  Ars Technica’s Jon Stokes put it best; “It'll probably also be the first time that I "jailbreak" a device. That's because Apple's closed ecosystem is feeling less and less like an exclusive resort and more like Big Love's Juniper Creek compound.”.  I’m not buying a device where I can’t acquire and install my own applications/games.  I’ve always been surprised so many people are willing to put up with this onerous limitation.

The App Store is destined to become a victim of it’s own success.  While Apple, pundits and mentally challenged fanboys like to point out – there are over 140,000 apps.  The law of averages would tell you at least half of those are pure garbage.  Ars’ Ben Kuchera is a fan of the device from a gaming perspective, but still points out, “The problem is that for every good iPhone game, there are literally a thousand terrible games.”.  Assuming the same holds true for apps, and I see no reason why it wouldn’t – then there are really only about 140 “apps” in the store, which really obfuscates ones search for quality.  People will waste a lot of money on garbage they don’t want/use. 

The statistics are particularly telling; Only 30% of people who buy an app use it by the second day.  Within 20 days, only 5% of people who download an app, free or not are still using it.  Long-term, only 1% of people who download an app still use it.  Eventually, people will realize that most of the stuff on the App Store is pure garbage.  The only way Apple can stop this is one that would cause even more controversy, and that would be to start approving apps on a qualitative basis.


At this point though, I’m thinking it’d probably be best to hold off to see what other products are introduced this year in the tablet segment.  I’m sure there will be many, including the HP Slate which looks great.  This article at Mashable sums up a whole bunch of them.

Nov. 26th, 2009


TV Ramblings…

It’s been a while and things are building up.  Heck, many of them have built up and long since escaped me.  This time, it’s TV…

#1. Stargate Universe

Before it came out, I was heavily against it.  I was upset that they’d cancelled Atlantis, which was possibly one of the best sci-fi shows in a long time.  In the end though, I was willing to give it a chance.  There’s too little good sci-fi on TV to not give it that much.

Sadly, I was right in the first place.  This iteration of the franchise has been retooled (good word, vaguely implies the creators are tools) to appeal to an audience it’s not supposed to appeal to.  Who’s that?  Well, they’re going after the younger demographic and I think they’re trying to pull in more chicks as well.  Sad.

In the end, what did we get?  Well, it’s a show based on a space ship.  One that can’t be controlled by our cast and is usually out of something (power, water, ideas, plots, etc).  Most of the characters are boring sacks of skin who are more interested in the petty concept that they can’t get back home rather than the life that is in front of them, or the million year old ship that surrounds them.  Rush (played by Robert Carlyle) is the only truly interesting character. 

We’ve got a replacement character for David MacKay from Atlantis in Eli Wallace (played by David Blue).  He comes off more as a “Seth Rogen in space” but without the fun.  He also can’t really seem to figure much of anything.  Instead, he’s constantly hanging around with the shipboard slut, Chloe Armstrong.  There’s some major crushing going on there.  Occasionally he’s thinking about her, while she’s off somewhere else in the ship fucking some guy in a closet.  It’s kinda sad.  According to Wikipedia, he’s supposed to be “Matt Damon’s character from Good Will Hunting with a little Jack Black thrown in.”  Except that those characters get the girl.

Which sort of brings me to the indiscriminate love scenes that are peppered around various episodes.  No rhyme or reason, no relevance to the plot.. they just pop up occasionally for no apparent reason.  They’re not particularly hot either.

Add all of this together with the fact that they rarely turn the lights on, the cameraman is the same noob they had for BSG who can’t seem to hold the camera still and that we’re 9 episodes in now and haven’t met (or even heard a passing mention of) a single alien or race – and what have you got?  Well, not much.  Stargate Universe.  Congrats, you’ve escaped science fiction and now you’re left with… just fiction.

I wish that the creators of the show and the people at SyFy would just come to grips with their lot in life and accept it.  You can’t have a sci-fi show with the numbers of Gossip Girl.  You’re a specialty channel.  That means specializing, not generalizing.  If you want to make boring, tedious soapy teen melodrama – GO WORK SOMEWHERE ELSE.

PS. Lou Diamond Phillips – you were much more likable at the tables of the World Series of Poker than you are on this show.

#2. Defying Gravity

Sadly, this show has been cancelled.  It was great though, trust me.  And Peter from Office Space made a good “guy-in-charge” spaceman.  It’s funny, because before the show came out, someone called it “Greys Anatomy in Space” (presumably because the creators worked on that show, and they said this was a character drama that just happened to be set in space).  In the end though, this show was 10x more sci-fi in it’s first 9 episodes than SGU has managed.  The acting was stellar, the effects were great and it wasn’t boring.

#3. Eastwick

Also cancelled.  Yet, the show airing before it, the truly sub-par Cougars with Courtney Cox was picked up.  Eastwick was an excellent TV adaptation of the movie/book and the acting was great.  The three actresses they picked for the women were stellar in the roles (including Rebecca Romjin) and Paul Gross was intriguing as Darryl Van Horne.  Gross didn’t ham it up too much, and wasn’t over the top given the previous iteration portrayed by (the always over-the-top) Jack Nicholson.

#4. Dollhouse

Cancelled.  I didn’t watch it, but given the large body of truly pedestrian crap that Joss Whedon has bestowed upon us in the past, I’m not surprised.  Frankly, the only surprising thing is that it lasted into a second season.  I’ll never forgive him for that hot mess he called Buffy the TV series, nor the truly ghastly script he wrote for Alien 4 that pretty much put the final nail the franchise’s proverbial coffin.

#5. Fringe

This is getting to be the best sci-fi that TV has to offer, at least, until JJ Abrams other vehicle, Lost, pulls into the lot.  It meanders a bit here and there, but overall the script quality is high, the acting and effects are good.  Did I mention it has Spock?  Sorry – yeah, it’s got Spock!  He lives in another dimension, but that doesn’t diminish the coolness.  Watch this show.

#6. Sanctuary

For a show done on a shoestring budget with all virtual sets, they’re not doing bad at all.  Some of the things they’ve done seemed a bit odd, but in the end, most worked out well.  They killed off a major character in S2, a good one too – I’m still up in the air about that one.  It was abrupt and seemingly pointless.  Overall, it’s a great little show.  Kudos, Amanda Tapping.

#7. South Park

Up to season what, 45?  Still funny, still irreverent and relevant.  Amazing.

Jul. 14th, 2009


Polaris 23 – a blast…

So, first the first time in my history of going to Polaris, I actually felt the need to see the guests on-stage (and beyond..).  I missed both Michelle Forbes and Claudia Black, but luckily they were lower on my priority list.

I did see David Hewlett (Rodney McKay, SGA), David Nykl (Dr. Radek Zalenka, SGA), Michael Hogan (Col. Saul Tigh, BSG) and Matt Frewer (Max Headroom). 

Since day one, Rodney McKay was my favorite character on Atlantis, so it was great to see him in person.  Before his appearance, I had him autograph the box on my McKay action figure.  He’s very friendly and amusing in person, and he pointed out that I was lucky and didn’t get one of the figures that made him look like he’d just eaten a blueberry pie.  What I found most interesting though, was the minimal divide between his character and his actual personality.  Many times you see a character on a show (at least I do) and think to yourself that the person is cool and would be interesting to meet – then you realize it’s just a character and the actual actor/actress is probably very little like the character they play.  After his on-stage appearance, I realized that this is most definitely NOT the case for David Hewlett – which is very cool.

David Nykl, who basically played McKay’s sidekick on the show was on right after Hewlett, and I guess it was decided by all at some point that the two should be on-stage together for at least half of each others time.  This made for some great back-and-forth banter, the best I’ve ever seen at a con.

Before we went, I’d mused to some friends that I’d hoped that David’s sister Kate would be there as well (she lives in Toronto, so.. why not?).  There had been no announcements (even internally) that she would be present, so it was pretty much a pipedream.  For those of you who don’t know, she was a guest star on Atlantis, playing Rodney McKay’s sister, Jeannie Miller.  The chemistry between the two was of course excellent, and what you’d expect from a real life brother/sister playing the same on-screen.

Kate Hewlett

As luck would have it, she was there.  She lined up in the question line before going on-stage and I recognized her the second she got into line.  After asking her question about who the best actor was, she joined her brother and Nykl on stage for the rest of the time.  It was a hilarious, insightful two hours and it flew by before we even knew what happened.

Afterwards, Kate signed autographs.  Here’s one of the pics I snapped while waiting in line.

Seeing Matt Frewer was awesome too, since I’ve always been a fan.  It was also a rare opportunity, as this is the first time Matt has ever done a con.  Hilariously, his demeanor and mode of speech is very similar to some on-screen personas, such as his character Berlingoff Rasmussen in the ST:TNG episode, “A Matter Of Time”.  He also had many insights into the Max Headroom TV show, and the reasons for it’s cancellation.  Apparently, in their quest to be groundbreaking, they also burned many bridges.  Specifically, during the run of the show, they made frequent fun of network television personalities (newscasters in particular) who didn’t appreciate it much, and had friends in high places.  Really cool guy though.

The final appearance was Michael Hogan, who played Saul Tigh on the re-imagined Galactica series.  As anyone who knows me can attest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the new series.  While I appreciated the fine acting that many of the cast members put forth (especially Hogan) it was still too grim a re-imagining of a light, fluffy staple of my childhood television diet.  His chat was great, and he covered much of his history on television and in movies (which is substantial to say the least).  You could tell he loved his character as he’d occasionally blurt out “Frakkin’ Toasters!” in that oh-so-Tigh way.

After all the festivities were over was when the coolest part happened though.  I was outside the front of the hotel having a smoke, and when I turned around, I was face to face with Michael Hogan.  He introduced himself and we chatted over a couple of smokes.  Awesome guy, and so incredibly down to earth that I’m still blown away.  When I mentioned how rare it was for celebrity guests to hang out with the fans, he was shocked.  He basically said he assumed all of the celebrities did that, as it was the best part of the fan circuit (he just started doing these a while ago).  He actually couldn’t figure out why the other celebrities would hide from the fans. 

Frankly, for the most part, neither can I.  I mean, if they’re anti-social,  I can understand.  But most aren’t, and sci-fi fans, generally are among the meekest fans of anything.  Anyway, cool experience… shame I was driving, or I would’ve headed back to the bar and bought him a drink or twelve.

The other thing that made Polaris 23 the best one I’ve been to was the location.  They finally put it in an easily-accessible location.  Until now, the show has always been held at airport hotels with their minimal, painful and overpriced parking and limited transit access.  This year it was held at the Sheraton at Leslie & Hwy 7, which had plenty of free parking and was easy to get to by transit for those who needed it.

Jul. 8th, 2009


Google Chrome OS?

Very amusing!  Read about it here on Ars Technica.  Google is basically planning a slimmed-down OS that boots right into Chrome.  Sounds good for a simple device.  Chrome is a great browser*, I use it everywhere.

As per usual, the comments are where the story is most interesting.  There seems to be a divide between people who think this is a great idea, the next big thing, etc and those who are taking a more rational viewpoint.  “ZOMG!  MICRO$OFT IS DEAD NOW!”  Yeah, okay.  Heard that one before, where’s the moron that said it last time?  Hiding, I’m sure.

I don’t think it’ll be the next ‘big thing’, but I’m sure it’ll find itself a place in the ecosystem.  A computing platform that only browses the web still has it’s place.  For example, I can’t wait for the CrunchPad.  Sleek, sexy and functional… I’ll buy one the first day I can.

Interestingly, the comments also went in another direction: netbooks.  The usual array of completely uninformed comments are present as well.  Most notably the “netbooks are slow” argument.  This is simply untrue.  They boot quickly, they run Office and browser tasks quite decently.  No delays running applications, nor are the apps themselves slow.  Some things need to be experienced before one can render a valid opinion on them (unlike say… oh, I dunno… any Apple product).

My final post on the comments was that we already have PC’s equivalent to what Google is proposing.  They’re called netbooks with Linux on them.  Boot up, go into Firefox, tada… just ignore the OS and everything that comes with it.  It’s not like you paid anything for it.

It should be noted the number of people that believe that everything will ‘shift to the cloud’ is relatively low.  Many more vehemently state the complete opposite.  I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  Some applications will lend themselves to a web-only paradigm whereas many will not. 

A couple of commenters also pointed out the perfectly rational fear of leaving your data on a server located god-knows-where rather than on your own PC.  With the recent and rather lengthy outages, I think the last couple of months have clearly demonstrated why you don’t want your data and apps hosted by Google.  You may not be able to get to them when you need them.  This doesn’t just go for Google either, it goes for any web-based application.  Any poorly hosted app is vulnerable… for example, the app may be hosted by amateurs -- and you won’t know to be wary until it’s down.

* My only gripes about Chrome are the same as those for IE and Opera – memory and CPU usage.  Figure this out guys.  There shouldn’t be a reason why having 6 tabs open causes 250MB of memory usage.  CPU time... if I’m not looking at the tab, please suspend it.  Don’t let it continue running slow, bloated JavaScript feces in the background.

May. 20th, 2009


Welcome back…

Since you haven’t been reading this blog for a while, I’ve got some updates for ya.

I’ve been watching the original Twilight Zone again.  I’d forgotten what an awesomely well-written show it was, and how effectively it could deliver thought-provoking stories with a minimal budget.  There is just something about those old episodes..  in any case, I found this great list of the top 10 TZ episodes.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately, but the soft drink companies (Coca Cola primarily, and Pepsi to a lesser extent) have been gouging the market bigtime.  2 liter bottles of pop are up to $2.29 in most Canadian stores, and even at Costco, where a 30 pack could be had for $8.99 at this time last year, the price is now $10.49 for Pepsi and $11.99 for Coke products.  Ridiculous.  Coca Cola blames the price hike on their bottlers, whom they should just fire and bottle their own product.  Unsurprisingly, Cott shares are surging on better than ever sales figures.  Gee, I wonder why… maybe because a 2L bottle of Cott Cola is $0.99.  Get with the program Coke – unlike Apple, I don’t think you’ll be able to conjure up enough of an RDF to keep the #1 spot forever.  Especially when your product is 100% more expensive than it should be.

A report from the Ontario Public School Boards Association shows that students who are subjected to pen and paper exercises instead of computer-based learning are tuning out.  I’m so shocked.  Wait, I’m not, that was sarcasm.  When I was in school, I too tuned out due to the lack of technology, and that was years before the Internet.  "Many students feel that when they come into school they have to 'power down' to fit into an environment that offers fewer options for learning than are available in the life they live outside of the school. This can erode students' perceptions of the relevance of education as they experience it in many schools today." That describes exactly how I felt, and why I didn’t bother going.

The Arctic icecap is twice is thick as had been assumed by environmental nutjobs.  Remember, I’m basically an environmentalist, I’m just sick and tired of people exaggerating, putting forth assumptions as fact, etc.

In order to counter the bewildering success of the Wii, and the upcoming release of motion-sensitive controllers by Sony, Microsoft will be releasing a sensor bar of sorts soon for the 360.  Unlike the Wii however, the technology won’t rely on woefully inaccurate and infuriating Piimotes, but rather three cameras that capture real human motion.  Apparently, from those who’ve seen the technology from 3DV that it’s based on (not just this article) the technology works perfectly and exactly as one would imagine it ideally should.  Hopefully Microsofts developers (developers, developers) can come up with some games that not only demonstrate the technology effectively, but are also fun to play (unlike ALL games for Wii).

Oracle bought Sun.  Many people I know told me they wanted Sun for the server hardware, so that Oracle could be an integrated company from end-to-end.  I never understood that reasoning, since as we all know, hardware isn’t a big money maker (unless you can trick people into paying a tax for the privilege of buying your products) – but software sure is, and Oracle is after all, a software company.  Except of course that Oracle’s initial offer for Sun was solely for the software assets (primarily Java, but Solaris as well) and the only reason it turned into a complete buyout was because Sun wasn’t willing to piece out the company.

Netbooks are burning up the sales charts.  Not at all surprising if you think about it.  If you ever were in the market for a laptop before, and you wanted something small and light, yet capable… you were in for a shock.  The ultra-portable notebooks were all $2000+ and of course, unless you’re travelling for business – all the time – there was no way any sane person could justify the expense.  Netbooks blend the best of both worlds.  Small form factor, decent battery life and low cost.  My wife has an Acer AspireOne, as does my boss and they both love them for different reasons.  But for web surfing, word processing, spreadsheets, email, etc – it’s a perfect product.  The thing I found most fascinating is that Acer has really pwned the market with the AspireOne (30% of the netbook market, which is now 20% of the overall notebook market).  It’s odd, since ASUS was first to market with them, and I know people who have non-ASUS netbooks and still refer to them as Eee PCs.

The Intel Atom processor is at the heart of all of these netbooks, and it’s a surprisingly capable little chip.  An Atom based machine doesn’t feel sluggish, in fact it’s rather fast, at least in XP.  I’m currently building embedded PC’s for the company I work for, and we’re putting together machines with 1GB of RAM, 4GB of Flash, a custom-made case, power supply and Windows Embedded Standard (XPe 2009) for under $225CDN per unit.

Another great story about Windows 7, and how Apple will respond to it.  Particularly how the new taskbar puts the OSX dock to shame.  Very interesting.  Also amusing is the lineup of retarded Mac fanboys in the comments thread.  Another group of fanatical loony-tunes who value form over function, and wouldn’t know anything about UI design if it were a living, toothy entity that could physically bite them in the ass.  Got Douchebag

A great article about being a critical person, and why you don’t have to self-flagellate, but instead can revel in your criticism.  To me, people who criticize nothing are non-people.  Whether they’re simply too simple-minded to formulate opinions, or are haplessly extroverted to the point where they ponder nothing… it’s still a non-person thing in my view.  He talks for a small bit about how he feels Steve Jobs is a prime example of the critical personality type, and how he’s managed to parlay it into huge success.  I agree to certain extent that is the case, although just as with Bill Gates, a large dollop of PFL* sure helped.

The MagUnSafe power adapter, which up until now served no function – finally is serving a function!  As a target for a class action lawsuit against the incompetent ‘computer’ manufacturer.  I always found this product hilarious.  Anyone so stupid that they’d trip over the power cord for their laptop is… oh wait, an Apple user for sure.  I forgot.  My bad. 

Two of the top three smartphones sold in Q1 ‘09 are Blackberries (and that would include the #1 spot, by the way).  PS – if you’re Canadian, you should own a Blackberry and not that other lame smartphone imitator from the US (the #2 phone, BTW).

Linksys has discontinued their line of Media Center Extender products.  Not shocking, since I know of almost nobody who has one.  Considering; the cost of these devices, the fact that the Xbox 360 includes this functionality, limited advertising to educate the public on what they can do and truly pathetic user interfaces it is entirely unsurprising that they’ve made this move.  Sadly, many of the people who’ve tried these products have found that the video stutters (a lot).  This is of course due to the fact that the devices are specced out with hype.  Almost every one includes wireless support.  This is the root of the problem.  Wireless just doesn’t work.  After having done several site surveys with advanced WiFi spectrum analyzers, the amazing thing about WiFi is that it works anywhere at all.  The spectrum is so jumbled up with crappy cordless phones, poorly made WiFi devices that clutter up the spectrum and cellphones constantly looking for open networks that it’s almost impossible for it to reach it’s potential.  Standard a/b/g is insufficient for any video, and n is barely capable of SD.  What Linksys and other companies SHOULD HAVE DONE was to omit the wireless feature and tell people they have to run a cable.  Nothing wrong with that.  Too lazy to do it?  Oh well, watch your crappy cable television or sit in front of your computer.  You ain’t streaming HD over wireless, not for some time to come.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the case of the RIAA vs Tenenbaum.  A poor guy who just wanted some music, and who is now facing the wrath of an industry drowning in its own shortsightedness.  Luckily, to the rescue comes Harvard Law professor Charles Nesson.  He is about to argue that file-sharing is covered by Fair Use.  To my (and most Canadian legal experts) understanding of the concept as long as you are copying for noncommercial reasons, it is fair use.  From what I gather, things aren’t as clean-cut in the US and fair use does not extend this far.  Hopefully his argument holds water, as I firmly believe that sharing for noncommercial purposes is fair and always has been.  More details here.

And one last thing, a public service announcement if you will.  I’m tired of people who bandy about figures based on completely bogus data, scientific or in this case, marketing wise.  Two numbers I take serious issue with…

1. PC market share based on number of units shipped.  These numbers are always held against how many units Dell, HP, Acer, etc shipped.  The problem is that there are a great many computers being shipped from companies that aren’t tracked by the companies who compile these numbers.  A great many are put together by distributors, local computer shops, buddies who ‘know about computers’, tier 2/3 vendors etc.

2. The prolificity of a platform based on web browser responses.  For example, these constant ridiculous stories I read about how XX% of mobile web traffic comes from iPhones due to the Safari tag.  It’s no biggie to report the information, but they’ll go on to say that Blackberry users only account for 1/4 of that amount of traffic.  I don’t buy this, and the reason I don’t buy it is simple; if you leave the browser ID on your Blackberry set to “Blackberry” you end up getting saddled with WAP versions of sites where there is limited content at best, and the site looks like shit.  I set my BB to respond with “Internet Explorer” so that I don’t get a crappy web experience.  The BB has no problem displaying 99% of the websites I’ve visited in their full form.  As a result, I’ll bet that a majority of BB users are responding as IE when in fact they are not.  iPhone users don’t have to do this, because websites don’t seem to feel the need to saddle them with a subpar web experience for no reason whatsoever.

My fingers hurt.  I’ll be writing sometime later this week about my experiences with PHP and C#.

* Pure Fucking Luck

Mar. 20th, 2009


Oh, Ars...

... you unthinking, mindless Apple automatons.  Check out this tidbit.  It's about an interview with Steve Ballmer in which, according to the poorly written article, he "predictably calls Macs too expensive".  Predictably?  Really?  REALLY?  Sad, sad Ars Technica, run by the Mactard elite..  I do believe the word you were searching for was "correctly".

Echoing the sentiments of anyone with an IQ over 75, Ballmer says "Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment—same piece of hardware—paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be".  Indeed!

Hilariously though, the author of the Apple-sponsored piece erroneously states at the bottom of the article "That still doesn't take into account the fact that Macs are not "the same piece of hardware," despite being architecturally similar."  Sorry, dude, it's the same fucking hardware.  There is a reason why a company like Psystar can so easily sell "Mac clones" -- they aren't clones, it is exactly the same hardware.  You just aren't paying $500 extra for a useless logo.

I'd go into the comments, but I'm sure you've all heard Mactards drone on and on, demonstrating their sheer ignorance.  Amusingly, many of them launch into tirades and call Ballmer a moron, an idiot, a fat bastard (I particularly enjoyed this one, seems just so appropriate coming from a Mactard).  They also reiterate many common misconceptions, stating that by using OS X they're immune to viruses and exploits.  In reality, OS X and Safari are merely a giant block of Swiss cheese from a security perspective.  Which browser/OS fell first during the recent Pwn2Own competition (in seconds, nonetheless)?  Yep.  Safari running on OS X.

It's funny.  The more I hear from these people, the it would seem that Mactards are the computer equivalent of people who love Bose audio products (Bose-o's).  It's well-known in the audiophile community that Bose products are overpriced, underperforming pieces of trash.  But people think because they're paying $3500 for something that's worth $400 at best that they're getting value.  And Bose markets in a very similar style to Apple, it's how they got to where they are today.  It's substandard equipment that looks really slick, and is marketed almost exclusively from a 'lifestyle' point-of-view.  Many of their products even have that word as part of their name. 

On various forums, even when faced with overwhelming criticism about their choice, they'll defend Bose to their dying breath (or at least, their dying keystroke before their forum account is deleted).  Just like Apple users.  Bose wasn't always as bad as it is today, and they do have a couple of great products.  But you won't see them pushing them, and you won't see them in Bose stores.  The Bose 901 series loudspeaker, introduced in the late 60's, is a piece of art and sounds great.  They still sell it today, if you can find it.

Oddly, Ars doesn't get everything wrong.  For example, check out this article, entitled "Wii Play becomes first bad game to sell 10 million".  Although, I suppose this could be attributed to the fact that the Wii is not an Apple product, in which case they'd no doubt have at least 5,000 words on why it is great because it is bad.

Mar. 9th, 2009


Constantly amazed...

... by the ever-increasing inability of Mac zealots to comprehend basic concepts.  A classic case in point from The Pre-Eminent Mac Zealotry site on the 'net, this article.  In it, they discuss the reasons why Apple may or may not release a netbook.

The reasons they describe about why Apple is about to release a netbook make perfect sense.  On the other hand, their arguments on "why we'll never see an Apple-branded netbook" are complete and utter nonsense.  I've known schizophrenics and Alzheimers patients who have a firmer grasp on reality.

First they start off with "Apple doesn't compete in the cheap crap market".  Really?  What the fuck is the iPod Shuffle?  You'd have to be a complete fucking imbecile to buy a shuffle, when there are mp3 players for $20 that outperform it in every conceivable way. 

Next up, they state "As we explained in January, the iPhone and iPod touch may already fill the space that would be occupied by an Apple netbook."  This only serves to demonstrate that either Ars Technica are the worst kind of Apple zealots or that they have zero understanding of why netbooks are appealing.

They seem to be under the impression that low cost is the only appealing factor of a netbook.  While a low price certainly does go a long way towards encouraging adoption, the form factor is at least equally appealing, if not moreso.  A small, easily portable computer with great battery life that doesn't cost much.  Sounds good.

"The iPhone is a highly mobile device that lets you stay connected on the go, offering news, e-mail, the Web, and digital media, much like most netbooks."

Actually, netbooks offer something much more than these items: utility.  You can do all of those things, and you can also do word processing, spreadsheets, etc -- the mainstay of most PC users.  You can't do that on an iWhatever.  The screen is too small, and on-screen keyboards suck, period.  Why would you want to waste any sizable percentage of your screen real estate (especially on such a small device) on a keyboard that should be separate?  Only a mindless Apple zealot is capable of the high degree of self-delusion required to think otherwise.

CNet also has a similar article.  In this article, they claim that the new netbook will be a touch-screen device with no keyboard.  Really?  So they've decided people don't need to type anymore?  What next, we don't need a display either?  Teh OS will be so advanced it'll just know what we want done and do it without us having to know about it?

One of the comments sums it up best, "When I type, I always hold my keyboard in front of my monitor in order to hide half my screen with it. It's how I like my clean usable UI that make my computing experience such a charm; only using half what I can for twice the price."

I do however find it gratifying to occasionally find Apple users who are more level-headed (I actually met one recently!), "I won't buy it if it doesn't have a keyboard. Typing on my iPhone is torture enough for me. (It probably won't have cut and paste, either! :-) I'm very happy with my MacBook Air, although I admit they are over-priced.

And finally... "No, they won't do copy/paste.  They'll do iCut and iPaste. It's where you personally switch back and forth between the two pages and write the information down yourself."

PS - typing long messages on a Blackberry is slightly better, but not much. 

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