You could and I believe still can, buy all the parts for a PC and build it yourself. Where are the entirely open, 100% user repairable, industry standard, kit laptops?
Excellent question, Greg! The answer is quite simple, and in the form of a question: Why buy an expensive kit when you can easily buy all the parts separately? Kits are for lazy people with too much disposable income and no Maker spirit. If you aren’t willing to painstakingly research each individual component, you might as well just sell your soul to the computer retail industrial complex. What good is owning a laptop if you can’t point to it as a marvel of your technical prowess? Or are you one of those people that wants something that “just works”, as if a functional computer is the end goal of all this? You don’t even write your own software do you?
My question now to you, Greg, is how do you even consider yourself a computer enthusiast?
Editor’s Note: Warren will be answering this question. Enjoy.
Why does Hollywood insist on producing so many remakes? Are remakes as a total percentage of movies produced by large Hollywood studios even that large, or does it just seem larger because of aggressive marketing?
By now you should know there are no new ideas, only louder ones. In fact, there are only about 4 stories that have ever been told, and while some of the retellings involve more explosions than others, it doesn’t add anything to the story.
I’ll use, as a for instance, your favorite movie of all time. Let’s say it’s Fletch.
You have terrible taste in movies.
But let us dissect Fletch, boil down its greasy marrow and divine its past and future from the offal that is left. What themes does Fletch depend on? There are the obvious ones. The Byronic Hero, misunderstood and unappreciated. The Loner, set against the Brobdingnagian bureaucracy of both his employer and the LAPD. The Joker, always ready with a quip, an acerbic aside, or a stanza from Moon River even, or especially, in the face of danger or unwanted proctological exams.
Fletch, the character, is a 12-year-old boy’s ideal of “what I would do if…”
Fletch, the character, is the 35-year-old boy’s dream of “what I should have done…”
As for the story, it’s the Little Guy against The Man. People in power taking advantage of the unwitting masses, and only the shining knight of the fourth estate to stand between them and…what, drugs? I suppose?
(An aside: This was the 80’s. The sheer number of creative endeavors whose storylines centered around trying to stop the trafficking of illegal narcotics is ironic, considering that most of the narcotics were being ingested by the very people writing those storylines. But I digress.)
Let’s compare this to your second-favorite movie of all time and see what we get.
In this second movie, the main character is also an unappreciated, misunderstood loner. He spends time with the dregs and scrapings of society. Gamblers, con men, politicians. The Irish. But rather than becoming one with them, he stays apart, and above, them. And he does this with panache, with a smile, with a song.
And the story? Why, it’s that classic tale of victory over oppression, the lone hero drawing a line and saying “beyond this line you shall not pass.” It’s the Little Guy against The Man. He rails against the rats in charge, gathers support of the seething masses, and turns the tide against the forces of evil. He’s the gilded hero, crowned with the victory laurel of his people. He is, of course, Fievel Mousekewitz.
The hero of Don Bluth’s An American Tail.
PS: Jesus Christ, man. An American Tail? Not even, you know, The Great Mouse Detective?
Now that “antennaegate” has died down, would you say it was a high water mark of anti-Apple hysteria or just another example of the rotten nature of “tech journalism”? Should Apple have responded earlier to what appears to be mostly non-issue?
Disclosure: I own a trivial, but non-zero, number of Apple shares.
I suspect there is a certain psychology at work here and it’s rooted in the fact that Apple didn’t die in 1997. This was to be a glorious event in the tech world. This was to be the time when Apple got their due for the crimes they committed against technology. Crimes? Yes, Greg. Crimes. It’s clear that Apple was out to kill the idea that computers had to be difficult. Can you imagine not having to spends hours upon hours to learn arcane commands to perform even the most trivial of tasks? Sure, you might think that sounds great, but what about all the people that had already put in those hours. They had invested their lives into “knowing” computers and then along comes Apple giving away what they had to earn. Well, I’m sure you can imagine how pissed some folks were about this.
Now, as long as Apple stayed at the bottom of the computer market share, they could easily be ignored or ridiculed. The people that bought Apple products could be dismissed as being too dumb to know when they were being ripped off. Yes, it’s true…Apple tried to turn a sizable profit off their computers. Scandalous, I know. And in America of all places! The shame of being an Apple customer was palpable.
But Apple didn’t die in 1997. Steve Jobs, who had returned to the company he helped start from nothing took over and cleaned house. He unleashed the creative people inside of Apple. Apple looked to have life again, but the drum beat of “beleaguered” seemed to be all you ever read in the press. It had been foretold that Apple was going to die or get bought. Those were the only two options. Apple making a comeback was simply not in the cards. Luckily for Apple, Jobs rarely plays by the rules.
As we fast forward past the iPod, MacBooks, and even the first three generations of iPhones we come to today, where Apple is in a position of power. The company that was probably no more than three months from going bankrupt just over a decade earlier is now climbing to the pinnacle of the mobile device world. Here is where we have the convergence of the original “haters” that have always wanted Apple to simply go away and the type of folks that simply detest things which people seem overly eager to enjoy. We saw it with Obama as well. He had a message, people liked it and they set aside for a moment the fact that it was probably an unrealistic message. These people were ridiculed in a similar manner to those that are commonly referred to as the “Apple faithful.” When you see the world “magical” associated with a piece of electronics do you think “Wow, I wonder how it does that” or do you think “Anybody that believes that deserves a punch in the neck?” This is, of course, an oversimplification of the pathology of an “Apple hater”, but I think you get the point.
So, with this frame of reference I will say that the iPhone 4 antennae hysteria is just a continuation of what we’ve always seen with Apple. Detractors will of course claim that anybody that says anything positive about Apple, or something negative about an Apple competitor, is simply a “fan boy”, a “sheeple”, or an “Apple apologist”. As if ad hominem attacks somehow make facts disappear. You can sense the extreme sense of joy they take from seeing Apple “get theirs”, for being “arrogant”, “closed”, and “telling people what they should like.”
I’m not exactly sure what Apple should have done, but I will tell you one thing, I trust Steve Jobs to do a better job running Apple than anybody writing about Apple. Personally, as a shareholder, I was fine with the approach.
I don’t understand why there is debate about flash…using it or not using it. Can you explain?
When I hear the word debate I tend to think of the fabled presidential debates of old. What’s going on here is more like some bad Pee Wee Herman skit. There are actually valid arguments to be made for or against, but those haven’t really been discussed much.
Basically, Apple has decided that it doesn’t want Flash running on their mobile devices. There are reasons both historical and technical, but at the end of the day they just said ‘no’ and that was that. Adobe has decided that it really wants Flash to run on Apple mobile devices because it’s like a gold rush for application developers. Why does Adobe care? They make most of their money selling tools to developers and designers. They thought they would extend Flash to make generic “apps” that could run on the iPhone. Oh, and Android-based phones. And whatever other platform they could get their tool to work with.
No, you can imagine how developers that know Flash would totally dig this setup. They do something one time in Flash, hit a button and it craps out an app for every mobile device that could run Flash. Now, you can probably also imagine that Apple telling them that “NO EASY APP FOR YOU” would totally kill their “IMMA GONNA BE RICH” buzz. Well, for now at least, that’s just how the game is going to be played.
Now, this is for mobile devices only. Using Flash for mobile devices right now is silly because not only is it not on the iPhone, it’s not really working on any other mobile device either. Oh, there are some early beta releases floating around and it almost works on youtube, but I’m pretty sure none of them work with Hulu. So, without those two sites we’re basically left with Facebook games and Bejewled. Oh, and Bejewled 2. I’m pretty sure we’ll survive. Somehow.
I hope that has cleared up any questions you had about Flash.
Where do socks go when they disappear?
They go to a better place. A place called Socktopia. I’m sure you’ve noticed that socks don’t disappear in pairs. They think they’re being clever and that we wont notice that one of them is gone. It’s like they don’t know we have two feet or something.
Anyway, where is this “Socktopia”? You’ve seen or read The Chronicles of Narnia, yes? Okay, now just imagine that your dryer is the magic wardrobe, but instead of going to Narnia it goes to Socktopia. Here every sock can be an individual, without worrying being conjoined to their sibling.
So there you have it. “Mystery” solved.
The Pixies are not playing in NorCal. Yet. Band touring schedules are often as ridiculous to us as they are annoying to the band members themselves. It’s all about venues, travel times, and trying to keep everybody from killing one another. The current leg of the tour, as listed at their new site, only has one California stop. I’m sure this will be rectified with future shows during additional legs of the tour.
Do you feel a sense of entitlement with age? When does this happen? Can you explain at what point in a person’s life they stop viewing themselves as youthful/invincible and start being overprotective about what they have (ex: lawns). Any advice you can offer that can help me prepare for the perspectives of old age would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much. Cody
Get off my lawn. Yes, yes…every softball deserves to fly high into the outfield and hopefully over the fence. But sports metaphors aren’t why we’re here. You’re curious about entitlement with regard to aging and responsibility, which is funny considering your graduating class is being greeted with the worst unemployment in decades. Okay, yeah, that’s not funny at all.
So, when does a sense of entitlement begin? Actually, contrary to what you might think, it starts as soon as you’re born. It grows steadily from then on through the late teens. In certain populations, people not named Paris Hilton for instance, it starts to ebb as life becomes more personally controlled. You know, like when you have a lawn. If you helped that lawn grow to be a lush, yet tiny forest that wastes precious fresh water from our ever dwindling supply, then damn straight your gonna lash out at some punk riding his bike across it for kicks. Of course, as you age, the control over your own life starts to fade again. Real entitlements like Social Security and Medicare start to kick in. You expect your kids to do stuff for you because, well, I’m sure everybody has their own set of reasons and rationalizations. My friend, and sometimes co-author, feels that when the whole “I brought you into this world, I can take you out” no longer applies, you feel entitled because you didn’t take them out. Which I can totally get behind.
My advice to you depends on where you feel you are on the spectrum. If you feel that you have no sense of entitlement I can only assume that you’re nearing middle age, and thus are not in need of any advice. I strongly suspect, given the oh so subtle snark in your question, that you might be emerging from the ebb. Every birthday brings another year where you feel yourself getting dumber because you’re shown daily how much of the world you know absolutely nothing about. You force feed yourself as much knowledge as you can every day, only to discover that you’re just still digging that hole. At which point you just say, you know what, I totally need a lawn. Lawns rarely add to your growing fear that you know absolutely nothing. Even when they die, you know it was from lack of water or the neighbor’s dog pissing on it too much.
In reality, you don’t need my advice at all. You live life as you need to live it, yelling at kids on your lawn when the need arises.
Looking at the long picture of American demagogues, like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, O’Reilly and Beck, are they only in it for the money? Does anyone who engages in political demagoguery even believe in what they are saying or is it all for entertainment purposes? Who are the demagogues on the left, or is there only Michael Moore?
Yes. No. Chompsky. Moore is rich and fat, thus making him ineligible for leftist demagoguery. Sure, there are some who want to put Al Gore in that category, but those people are simply ignorant or are just being intentionally obtuse. Olbermann? Please. The man now makes a living mostly through playing clips of Fox News. Maddow? Too new. Although being a woman and a lesbian probably scores her some serious leftist points. If Chomsky isn’t good enough for you, I guess I would have to say the last great hope for demagoguery on the left rests with Flo, the Progressive Insurance lady. Progressive. Get it?
What will become of poor Flash now that Apple has declared “war” on it, and Microsoft has announced it will support h.264 in IE9? Will it go the way of the dodo or will it be ultimately vindicated on Google’s Android platforms? Is there even a “war” on Flash at all? Is Flash “open” in the same way that Webkit or Firefox are? What does it mean to be “open” anyway?
That’s quite a question! Since you posed this question there have been a few major events that will undoubtedly have an impact on the whole Flash situation. The first is that Android 2.2, aka Froyo (is it bad that the first hit on Google right now for ‘froyo’ goes to Urban Dictionary?), will include a beta version of some kind of Flash plugin for the Android web browser, which as we all know is based on WebKit. The second is that Google is open sourcing WebM, some video thing they bought a while ago, and now h.264 has a legit competitor.
Now, I know you’re thinking Jeebus this crap is boring, where are the jokes? and I wish I could bring the funny on this, but lets face it, nerd fights are about as interesting as watching somebody calculate Pi to 100 digits. By hand. So, lets just get down to it.
You see, Greg, Flash was created to fill technology gaps in browsers and the HTML standard. Like any technology, it was abused with reckless abandon. You’ll notice that popular extensions or add-ons to browsers today help you block Flash content. It’s not quite irony, but it still cracks me up. You know, when there’s no good lolcats on the internets. Apple has a history of leaving behind things it thinks are crufty. Do you remember the ragegasms that were sparked by the exclusion of a floppy drive in the first iMac? Yeah, nobody else does either. Today those gaps are being filled with new standards and in the end, Flash will either fade away or find new gaps to fill.
It seems I missed the announcement that IE will support WebM (aka VP8). Oh, but I was right about how it could happen:
In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows.
As we said at MIX recently, when it comes to HTML5, we’re all in.
If by all in you mean “we’ll let the user install the codec because we don’t want to distribute it because our lawyers are afraid we would be the target of a patent lawsuit if we did and we’re not going to be on the hook for millions because Google screwed up on the due diligence”, well, then I suppose you are. But, now Apple will be in a tough spot to not at least offer the level of support that Microsoft will have.
Editor’s Note: It’s probably not wise of me to do this, to expose my own writing for the shallow, grammatically poor, semi-literate ravings that they are by letting my friend Warren provide answers where I have so completely failed Greg with my own attempts. But screw it. It’s a big innernet and there’s room for both of us on this humble site. So without further ado, or spelling errors, I give you Warren S. Taylor and his response to Greg regarding software developers.
Why do software developers think that no one understands but themselves what it is they do?
Software developers are sociopaths. They hate themselves and others, and if given the chance, would steal your woman and your truck, and shoot your dog, not out of spite or malice, but because the dog, simply by virtue of lacking dexterous fingers, could not be taught to use EMACS properly.
Historians argue amongst themselves about who was the first programmer. This is because historians have nothing better to do, and are themselves sociopaths of a different nature, ones who have no place in a modern service-based economy. Many of them also cannot be trained to use EMACS. A modern historian’s most repeated phrase is “do you want fries with that?” but his second-most repeated phrase is “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” They often repeat this phrase to prospective employers, when interviewing for jobs that don’t leave them smelling like rendered tallow and dried tears.
The earliest software developers were not computer programmers; for what is software, but a series of rules set down by the figurative godhead known as The Programmer? And what is a computer, except millions of circuits, each consisting of thousands of transistors? A computer is little more than the physical representation of the theological golem that exists in the mind of the programmer; it is a mindless beast of unimaginable power, a beast, not easily tamed, that only exists to serve the whims of the Godhead Programmer. A beast that needs to be coaxed and prodded, controlled through threat and bribe, a beast that does what it’s told, exactly as it’s told…as long as you can make the trains run on time.
As such, there have been software developers as long as there have been systems to program. From the time Medieval Fiefdoms received the first virus in their inbox, software developers have been building and breaking, defending and cracking the systems that life itself runs on. Just ask the Europeans what they thought of the Trojan Horse that led to a cascading failure, and eventually them having to reinstall their OS, but only after calling Tech Support. Unfortunately, not every software developer is created equal, and often a hastily applied patch can leave a back door open that an even more malicious hacker can exploit, leading to another expensive call to Tech Support.
In short, Greg, the modern software developer thinks that no one understands, because they don’t. And he’d have it no other way.