What does the new Mac Pro announcement say about the MacWorld Keynote

For those of us who have been waiting for a MacPro upgrade, today is a great day. New Mac Pros with 8 cores of Penryn power, new high-end video cards, all quite exciting.

You would think that this is something that Steve Jobs might want to announce from the stage in his keynote next week. So why announce it today?

Maybe they were holding back this announcement in case another one fell through… Maybe compared to the other announcements they were worried that this one might have gotten lost in the shuffle? Maybe it is to suck some of the attention away from all the announcements at CES?

This certainly ups the anty for next week.

[update: Here is Gizmodo’s take, they agree with me]

Alex Iskold’s tips for startups

36 Startup Tips: From Software Engineering to PR and More – ReadWriteWeb

This is a collection of startup tips covering software engineering, infrastructure, PR, conferences, legal and finance. They describe best practices for an early-stage startup. We hope that you will find these tips useful, but also please remember that they are based on subjective experiences and not all of them will be applicable to your company.

These tips are great for web startups. They are pretty useful for non-web startups as well. I’ve been through the startup mill myself a couple times and I still got some good pointers.

Wow, does the MyBook suck

So, I was at Costco and they had the Western Digital My Book Home Edition 1TB drives for $299.99. I snapped one up, $.30/Gb! What a deal! Then I plugged it in to my computer and… nothing. The drive didn’t power up. I tried different outlets, different cables, every combination. The drive was DOA. I should have looked it up on the web, but for some reason I was stupid, and I just brought it back. When I was returning it, I asked if they had many returns. “No, none.” So, I decided that it was just very bad luck and I got another two (I now actually need another 1TB and a backup as well).

I brought the replacement and the spare home. I opened one and it powered up (now that I know that the first drive never even powered up). However, this one refused to mount. Firewire or USB. Their cables or mine. Now, I actually checked the web and found out that the 1TB Home edition is particularly crap. So, I had to return both of these as well.

I’ve had several MyBook drives and haven’t had too many problems, except for one that had it’s firewire port crap out after several months.

I’m never buying another.

wow, Apple you tricked me again

There are three rules that everyone knows.

  1. Never Get Out of the Boat
  2. Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia
  3. Never upgrade your Apple OS if things are working fine.

I’d been on 10.4.8 on my main get-work-done machine for a while. There was no reason to upgrade. It was solid. I had no problems. Also, 10.4.9 was a piece of crap.

Then I had a problem. An iTunes problem which was also several dot releases behind. iTunes hung for some reason. After Effects hung at the same time, so it probably wasn’t an iTunes problem, but I’d been meaning to upgrade anyway so that I could get the un-DRM’d files from the iTunes store. So, I upgraded iTunes. The new iTunes hung immediately when I tried to download or play a file.

After trying a bunch of stuff, for some stupid reason, I decided to try installing 10.4.10. Mostly, it works except when external drives just go away for some reason. Which is a serious feaking problem, especially when you consider that one of the big “fixes” in 10.4.10 was around external drives. What happens to iTunes when the external drive where your files live goes away? It hangs hard. Like, you can’t reboot hard. Like you have to power cycle the machine hard.

Since trying to upgrade iTunes on Saturday morning, I’ve had to power cycle my most important machine about a dozen times.

the lesson: Never get out of the boat.

Apple announces iPhone/iPod Touch SDK coming in February

Apple – Hot News
Third Party Applications on the iPhone

Let me just say it: We want native third party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers’ hands in February. We are excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users. With our revolutionary multi-touch interface, powerful hardware and advanced software architecture, we believe we have created the best mobile platform ever for developers.

It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc. This is no easy task. Some claim that viruses and malware are not a problem on mobile phones—this is simply not true. There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network. As our phones become more powerful, these malicious programs will become more dangerous. And since the iPhone is the most advanced phone ever, it will be a highly visible target.

Some companies are already taking action. Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer. While this makes such a phone less than “totally open,” we believe it is a step in the right direction. We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

We think a few months of patience now will be rewarded by many years of great third party applications running on safe and reliable iPhones.


P.S.: The SDK will also allow developers to create applications for iPod touch. [Oct 17, 2007]

Dear Radiohead and the rest of the music industry

I applaud you, Radiohead, for doing such a forward-thinking experiment with your distribution for InRainbows. However, you’ve unfortunately made sure that any data you receive from this experiment will be useless. Why? Well, because your website and ordering process are HORRIBLE. I had so many problems getting your website to work that I almost gave up. I’m now concerned that I paid for it at all. I’m scared for the safety of my personal data. Really, it is 2007, get a web designer who knows what they are doing.

Secondly, you also seem to have gone out of your way to make sure that the downloaded tracks themselves are sub-standard. I’d heard that the mp3s you are distributing were at 128 kBps, which would have been ridiculous. I see now that they are at 160 kBps which is just lame. How about 192 kBps or higher? I would have gladly paid $10 for this record at a higher bitrate. Given the bitrate you are distributing it at, I decided only to pay $5. Also, where is the cover art? How about tossing a jpg into the zip file with the album cover? Maybe a text file with some liner notes. Just because you aren’t shipping shiny plastic discs around, it doesn’t mean that all previous ideas with the album were bad.

Hey, here’s an idea. Give the album away for free at 128 kBps, charge a nominal fee ($5-$10) for a 200 kBps or higher bitrate.

How about an optional survey section at the end so that I could have told you this instead of posting it on my blog?

So Trent, and other artists considering following in Radiohead’s footsteps (although they weren’t the first to do this honestly), try downloading the tracks yourself and see how much easier it would be to do something much better for your listeners.

I may just do this with the next Intonarumori album…

Amazon’s new MP3 stores has some onerous restrictions

High quality non-DRMed MP3s cheaper than iTunes! Amazon’s store has really been getting a lot of people excited (including me). While they aren’t DRMing, they have created some pretty crazy legal restrictions in their terms of use. Is this a problem? Not really. Unless they start trying to enforce them.

Amazon’s contract says you “may copy, store, transfer and burn the Digital Content” for personal use. But then it goes further and specifies restrictions, saying you “agree that you will not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, sub-license or otherwise transfer or use the Digital Content.”

Concerned that I was being paranoid, I floated this past Fred von Lohmann, senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, a public-interest advocacy group.

He was surprised by the language and said it appears to enable record companies to pursue a breach of contract if, for instance, you loaned your mother an iPod containing MP3s bought from Amazon.

“It’s sort of like they’re adding another layer of restrictions potentially above and beyond what copyright law would restrict,” von Lohmann said.

Here’s the article from Brier Dudley of the Seattle Times.

Is Apple in trouble?

I was reading this great post from Scoble: Why doesn’t Microsoft get the love? « Scobleizer which was spot-on, but for some reason it got me thinking about Apple instead of Microsoft.

I think Apple is in serious trouble.

  1. The Amazon digital download store is much better than the iTunes store. Not the design or that dumb downloader, but the fact that they are selling high bitrate MP3s for the same price or less than iTunes sells the DRM’d files. Apple might be paying the price for being the ones who made legal downloading of music a reality. Losing the store isn’t a huge issue for Apple’s profit. The store exists to sell iPods, Apple doesn’t make much money on it. However, once you don’t need the store, you don’t need iTunes or an iPod. Apple’s innovation on the iPods will keep this business strong for them, but without the whole ecosystem, they become vulnerable.
  2. The desktop line is stagnating. I’m assuming that there is a reason that Apple hasn’t really bumped their desktop line in a while and I’m also assuming that we will get news soon. However, the GPUs on their highest-end machines are years old, and due to Apple’s locked-in nature, it isn’t a user-serviceable part. Letting this go so long is a problem. I and at least one friend of mine are waiting on new desktops before we upgrade our PPC-based machines. The GPUs in the laptops are better than what we have at the moment.
  3. The iPhone debacle: I think Apple is handling the iPhone all wrong. The phone is a triumph of technology, but even $400 for a phone is a lot of money for the average consumer. The phone doesn’t have enough features or speed on the network to replace serious smart phone competitors and it is still lacking some fundamental features that free-phone-with-subscription-phones lack like MMS and MP3 ring tones.

I don’t think Apple is dead or anything like that. I’m still an Apple fan-boy (as a user, not as a developer), but I think these signs are troubling and Apple can still snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

What do you think?

Microsoft buys itself a Swedish Standard – Updated

It looks like the Swedish Standards Committee was going to vote “no, with comments” on Microsoft’s OOXML proposal. Then, in the 3 days before the vote, 24 new companies paid the fees to join the committee. The result being that the standard was passed. Of those 24 companies, 18 of them were Microsoft Gold Certified Partners.

This is a huge blunder for Microsoft, which has been switching their position from ignoring standards to proposing them over the last few years in order to engender better PR.


Update – 9/1/07
Looks like the SIS board canceled the vote because of the irregularities  and so Sweden won’t vote in the ISO.

link: http://stupid.domain.name/node/389