June 28, 2003
Uncut author interviews by Don Swaim
These are interesting partly because the authors aren’t “on” : Rather than the interview being aired, Swaim would pull quotes here and there, and assemble them with a radio story on the author or book being discussed. As a result, these interviews typically have a chatty and informal feel.
Among the authors:
June 27, 2003
Anyone active on wsall.westside.com?
I'm getting 14-15 hits at a time from wsall.westside.com. They just grab my RSS file once a second or so, then come at me again some indeterminate number of minutes later. Host string is just "Java1.4.1_03", so it looks like someone writing a Java RSS reader, and I got to be a test feed.
If this is you, I wonder if you could throttle back a bit, or fix the bug that's causing multiple requests on the same side. Also, look into the HTTP 304 response code. If I'm still seeing rude behavior tomorrow, I'll move on to mod_rewrite.
This Vargas guy quoted in this story is pretty convincing. That’s my college roommate and best man commenting on his group’s part in the Roe v. Wade of gay rights.
The Neanderthals running around saying now we’ll have to legalize sex with garden hoses are more than a little loony.
I don’t know much about Strom Thurmond (the salacious stories, and Al Franken’s joke that he was the last one in Congress to refer to a microphone as “the machine” are about it), but Lester Maddox is another story. Lester lived near my parents in east Cobb County. Sometimes you would drive by, and see him doddering around his yard. I considered rolling his yard when I was in high school, but I figured ex-governors probably got state patrolmen like ex-presidents, so I never did.
The next time I saw Lester was in 1987, in Cumming, during the “March Against Fear” led by Hosea Williams. This was the largest civil rights march in the South since the ‘60s, and it’s woefully underrepresented on the web. Maddox was, characteristically, on the wrong side of the police lines (as I was briefly while the boys in blue set up their crowd control. “Um, excuse me,” I said very quietly to the state trooper in front of me. “We should, um, be over there,” pointing to the throngs the people around us were jeering.)
iChat AV audio test
I finally got to use iChat AV to talk to someone today.
I took advantage of Apple’s directions on setting up your firewall — I used port forwarding so that any iChat comes directly to my laptop. I’m not entirely sure how I would manage the Linksys if I needed to allow multiple machines to use it; possibly you could set up a private filter group….
There’s a bug that’s been reported where the volume of one user or the other fades out. Today, that was me, but I also discovered a workaround. When I muted the conversation on my end, then unmuted, the volume returned to normal (or so I was told). Later, when the problem recurred, I did it again, and fixed it again.
Ive on the G5
The key word is minimalist. The front panel is practically a veil, and where the hell are all the cables? Apparently the fans slide out to allow memory upgrades, and count me among those glad that there are still handles, even if I rarely use them.
I do wonder how they'll stand up to cat hair, however.
Apple's page on the enclosure design "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "The Little Prince"
Sidekick: T-Mobile killing the platform?
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing posts about what a woeful job T-Mobile is doing with the Sidekick. His immediate complaint is that T-Mobile is unilaterally removing the arcade games from the color Sidekick, but more generally, he doesn’t like T-Mobile’s “phone company shenanigans:”
“[I]t may be that AT&T will do a better job of marketing the tool — there’s no technical reason it has to suck, but T-Mobile’s operational division has castrated it into near-uselessness.”
I have a Sidekick, and love it for mobile data services, don’t hate it for phone service. I’m starting to think about getting a new phone and just carrying data service on my Sidekick. Better yet I would get a Palm with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth phone, and use Wi-Fi at home and work, and cellular wireless on the road. I have yet to see a Palm that can do both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so I soldier on with the Sidekick.
Their approach is kind of like the manufacturers of game consoles, but you’re not even able to buy applications to extend the device (except for ringtones). There’s no SSH client, no RSS reader, no integration with desktop calendar and address book.
Smackdown on the Mac-down
John Gruber over at Daring Fireball offers a graf-by-graf refutation of Paul Boutin’s Monday column in Slate, called Flipping the Switch: Linux’s new popularity may hurt Apple more than Microsoft.
Boutin suggested that Linux becoming number 2 on the desktop (which unnamed analysts believe it may next year) would cost Apple more than Microsoft, because “the software biz doesn’t have time for No. 3”. Gruber takes each of his arguments apart, pointing out that “Linux” is actually an amalgam of 2 primary desktop environments (KDE and Gnome), and that people who buy $250 Wal-Mart computers are unlikely to drop $800 for a copy of Photoshop, so Adobe would be out of their minds to do a port.
Gruber also notes that those people were never going to buy a Mac, but that they were going to have to buy a copy of a Microsoft OS, so Microsoft is in fact the party that suffers more.
One point Gruber and Boutin both seem to miss is that those $250 computers are largely first machines, bought for your teenager, or the family business, or by seniors who want to see what this net-thingy is all about. One day, they’ll move on, and if their experience with Linux is good, they’ll seek a platform with commonality to Linux. Some of them will buy custom white-box machines, some of them will buy name-brand PCs either with Linux preloaded or dual-booted, and some of them will buy Macs.
Judging by the number of Linux nuts I know who want (or have) new Macs, I would happily wager that significantly more than 5 percent of people who use Linux on a regular basis would spec a Mac as their replacement machine, and migrating any software or solutions they use on their Wal-Mart box to OS X would be trivial.
If this is true, the growth of Linux actually helps the Mac, by growing a new market better able to grok the value of the Mac environment.
June 23, 2003
Latest million-dollar idea
Both long-time readers of my site know that periodically I post tremendous, valuable ideas that I just can't quite get around to myself.
The latest: someone needs to build a software company focused on bringing OS X technologies to OS 9 users. There's a lot of hardware that people either can't or don't want to upgrade to OS X, and Apple has done a lot to make OS X resisters feel the pain, which translates into a business opportunity.
A couple of examples:
Rendezvous. Apple only supports Rendezvous on OS X, but it looks like it wouldn't be a nightmare to build service registration and service discovery modules for OS 9. Heck, Apple even provides a reference implementation.
iTunes. Apple doesn't build an OS 9 version of iTunes that can share over a network, so Christy's iMac can't stream music off my PowerBook.
An obvious downside to the business plan is that the market will shrink over the next few years as OS 9 machines get retired.
Update: I even have a name for the company: Nine-Tenths Software.
Wow: the new G5
On the new G5s: Nice work to Apple. These should sell very well, and thanks to the decision to equip only the top of the line with dual processors, should fatten Apple’s margins considerably.
Where the traditional Power Mac sell price is usually pretty close to the level of the midrange machine, I would guess average sell price for the new G5s will probably be $2,800 or even $2,900. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for fast Pro machines, and here they are. If I were buying, I would see the jump from the 1.8-GHz machine for $2,399 to the dual 2.0-GHz machines at $2,999 as buying more long-term value than the jump from the 1.6 at $1,999 to the 1.8. For maximum economy, you can build a 1.6 without SuperDrive or modem for $1,770.
The industrial design of the new boxes has gotten mixed reviews. I find them very functional looking, and I like the internals, which remind me of PC servers, with good access and ventilation. I’m curious to see whether 9 fans can really coexist at half the volume of a QuickSilver.
Slashdot, predictably, was home to nitpicking and fanboyism about whether the new box honestly qualifies as the first 64-bit personal computer, and whether it’s really the fastest thing available. I’m reserving judgment until I see independent numbers, but I noticed that most of those who claim the Xeon is faster were using numbers from an Intel compiler, rather than GNU’s GCC compiler as the Apple rankings do. It seems perfectly fair, where both platforms are supported targets of a single compiler, to benchmark using that compiler; after all, you don’t want the benchmark to be a measure of who is better at optimization.
I was very pleased to hear Steve Jobs talking about SPECint benchmarks — I thought Apple had given up on them about 1997. If the new boxes compete there, they should compete across the board.
Update: Also, I think it’s interesting to speculate on the future of the Xserve. Does Apple have something even faster up their sleeves for rackmount servers? Does the Xserve go away, to be replaced by G5s with Marathon computer rackmounts? I really doubt dual 970s will fit in a 1U enclosure, so does Apple introduce a 2 or 3U Xserve?
June 20, 2003
Biggest product launch of the week
I'm at the neighborhood Chapter 11 bookstore, which is jammed...
Sophie answered a trivia question and got the 5th spot in line as a prize. Pix to come...