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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bill Gates on Windows XP usability


Bill rants as he struggles to download Moviemaker. Here's the opening paragraph:

"I am quite disappointed at how Windows Usability has been going backwards and the program management groups don't drive usability issues."

It only gets better. Click here for the full, internal e-mail which was published by SeattlePI.com.

I must say that reading the e-mail makes me like Bill more. It's nice to know he actually understands (and experiences) things can are frustrating for end users and isn't living on some other planet.

Image courtesy of here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Ani DiFranco concert

A buddy of mine from work had a couple extra tickets to the Ani DiFranco concert on Saturday night.

"Who?"

Exactly. I'd never heard of her either. A quick trip to iTunes revealed some folksy, mellow acoustic music. Sure, it was a bit pro-woman, but the chance to hang out with my wife at a free outdoor concert was too good to pass up. So we decided to go.

We arrived on-time, picked up our tickets and made our way to the back of a very long line to receive wrist bands (why you need a wrist band when you have a ticket is beyond me). It's not often that I feel overdressed but the fact that I had on all standard articles of clothing (shirt, shorts, shoes) made me feel really out of place. That, and I'd bathed within 72 hours of the concert. Based on some snap judgments of other attendees, I would say the stereotypical Ani DiFranco fan is...how do I put this tactfully?... liberal, earthy, bra-less women who dig chicks.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

While waiting in line we became friends with a guy named Christian who was selling homemade jewelry to raise money to fix his '72 VW van. Christian was a proper earthy, hippie-type complete with a beard, matted dreadlocks, and nothing on but overalls. He seemed like the perfect candidate for my new project and he agreed.

When we finally found a spot at the very back of the venue we came upon a girl who had her back to us, laying on the ground puking. We spread out our blanket a few feet away and she slowly moved away, using a railing for support and continuing to vomit every few feet. We spent the rest of the evening screaming, "PUKE!" at people who wandered over to the barf-soaked open area looking for a place to enjoy the concert. Everyone was very grateful that we warned them and, hey, who doesn't like to be appreciated?

The acoustics weren't great so we couldn't hear too well. My wife and I passed the time enjoying the beautiful backdrop of the mountains and people watching. Then I suggested brainstorm Things You Won't See at an Ani DiFranco Concert. Here's what we came up with:

  1. Confetti cannons
  2. An opening prayer
  3. A Saturday's Warrior montage
  4. Tap dancing
  5. Someone boasting about their Girl Scout Cookie sales record
  6. Ventriloquism
  7. The Pledge of Allegiance
  8. Army recruitment officers
  9. Sequins
Since we're old, boring, married people we ended up leaving around 9:30. Overall, despite all the "negatives" we had an enjoyable time.

Image courtesy of here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hmmm... I think I want to get a degree

I found this beaut' on KSL's homepage. If I understand correctly, it reads:

"Education! What separates us from a dead fly."

Now, I generally eschew taking advertising too literally but I'm not sure how else to interpret this one. And why is the fly hovering? Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Help set a world record - today

Download Day - English
Download Firefox today and help set a world record for the most software downloads in a 24 hour period.

For those of you who don't know, Firefox is a free browser and is a popular alternative to Internet Explorer and Safari. I've been using the Firefox 3 betas and release candidates for months now and I must say... DANG this is one speedy browser - you'll notice a difference.

Also, note that when you start typing in the address bar it searches both your history and your bookmarks. And the UI is tailored to the operating system your using which is a nice touch. Oh, and there are more add-ons and extensions than you can imagine (ah, the beauty of open source).

At the very least, you should download it and try it for a while. I think you'll like it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Giving credit where it's due

According to TUAW:

"As Mark Siegel from AT&T explained to me yesterday, "AT&T wants to be as fair as possible to customers who very recently purchased an iPhone." Thus, if you purchased an iPhone from an AT&T store AFTER May 27, 2008, you have the option of returning the phone to an AT&T store between July 11, 2008 and August 1, 2008 for the new iPhone 3G. Those customers will also be refunded the difference between the price paid for the 2G iPhone and the iPhone 3G."

I must say I'm impressed. Especially because they're refunding the difference in the two phones. Well played AT&T, well played.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Will the iPhone soon be on T-Mobile and Verizon?

Something fishy is afoot. One thing I neglected to mention in my overview of the 3G iPhone is that the notorious revenue-sharing deal between AT&T and Apple is no more. (Up to this point, it was speculated that AT&T was giving Apple a monthly payment for each iPhone subscriber.)

So...why is AT&T still the exclusive provider of the iPhone? What's Apple's incentive to stay with them? Seems like a raw deal for Apple because they're still severely limited as to their potential market.

Don Reisinger over at CNET speculates the relationship between the two companies may be over in the relatively near future. He has some good points, so check out the article.

My speculation is that the (rumored) five-year contract isn't quite that long. In fact, I wonder if maybe the contract wasn't based on length of time, but quantity of phones sold. A wacky idea, I know. But it may explain a couple of things:

1. AT&T would be reassured in the beginning that they'd have a guaranteed number of new subscribers from this unprecedented arrangement.

2. AT&T says it will only gives kick-backs for the first year. Apple doesn't hit the 10 million mark in that time frame, so they lower the price and make it more difficult to unlock the phone so they can hit the target number and get out.

For what it's worth, I think T-Mobile may get the iPhone before Verizon (despite the larger Verizon customer base) simply because the hardware is ready to go. CDMA phones suck a lot more juice than their GSM counterparts, something Apple will have to address, especially if a CDMA phone is going to be using 3G and GPS.

Absurd? Possible? Likely? "You're a freak and should write about something else"? Sound off in the comments.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Reflections on WWDC keynote and the iPhone 3G


The Reality Distortion Field is strong with this one. I'm just finishing watching the keynote and in the 12 hours since it took place a lot of the shine has disappeared from Mobile Me and the iPhone 3G.

Because I know you're all very interested in this, I will elaborate.

Watching Phil Schiller present Mobile Me (logo look familiar?) was kind of embarrassing. He kept explaining its "new" functionality as if it were some revolutionary concept.

"And when you get an e-mail on your desktop, it automatically shows up on your iPhone too! It uses the cloud!"

Oooo..."the cloud". Try to work that buzzword into your presentation a few more times.

"Now watch carefully...you can drag and drop e-mail from your inbox to folders! You wouldn't expect to see that in a web application."

Actually, Yahoo and Hotmail have been doing that for quite some time. And they're free.

"Let's say my softball practice got moved back to Monday night. Using this web version of iCal, I can simply drag and drop that appointment from Tuesday to Monday. You wouldn't expect to see that in a web application."

Google Calendar does that. And it, too, is free.

I don't know, maybe Phil Schiller and the folks at Apple use a special, handicapped version of the Internet (see photo right).

Then there's the 3G iPhone. Or, as it is being called, the "iPhone 3G" (which is cumbersome to say). It's pretty much everything the rumors said it would be. Speaking of rumors, what's happened to Apple's penchant for secrecy? For the last year or every major announcement has been pegged beforehand. But I digress.

It's an iPhone. It's 3G. It's coming next month. The biggest news is that it's only $199. That's a big deal. There are much crappier phones out there being sold for a lot more. But there are a few things Uncle Steve forgot to mention during his keynote:

You HAVE to activate the iPhone at either an AT&T or Apple Store when you purchase it. There is no prepaid option. You can't activate it at home. You can't buy it online. Not only is this inconvenient and going to make its debut a nightmare for employees and customers alike, but from a logistical standpoint it makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to unlock. (Which, of course, is the whole point of doing it this way. But I just wish they'd come out and say it.)

Unlocking aside, AT&T customers (you have my sympathies), there are some additional costs you should be aware of.

1. You have to pay $10 more per month for that 3G speed.

2. Those text messages that were originally bundled with your iPhone plan are gone.


3. Your two-year contract will start over.

So, you're going to pay an extra $15 a month ($10 for 3G and $5 to replace your lost text messages) for 24 months which comes out to $360 plus the taxes and "fees" associated with those charges. So the REAL cost of your $199 iPhone works out to be more than $560 when all is said and done. (Note that that figure is just the extra costs associated with this particular phone and doesn't include the cost of the monthly plan.)

Oh, and while you're forking over that $560 over the course of your contract, there will be probably three or so upgrades to the iPhone. In fact, I'm willing to bet they have a capacity update (16 and 32 gig?) before Christmas.

Overall, Android is looking like a great alternative.

In other news, Snow Leopard, OS 10.6, is due out in about a year. Apple is pulling a Microsoft here and the new OS will just be stability, security and performance tweaks - no new features, just things that should have been included originally.

Basically, it's Service Pack 1.

While I want to believe Apple will make this a free/very inexpensive upgrade, I know better.


Images courtesy of here and here.

Apple announces SIM Card Ejector Tool

At long last! Rumors have flown and people have clamored for it for over a year. As one of the biggest gripes about the original iPhone, I know it kept me from purchasing one for a long time. Paying $600 for a cell phone (no subsidy) and having to sign your life away to AT&T for two years for slow data speeds, poor sound quality, dropped calls and crappy customer service were all tolerable and easily overlooked when compared to having to use a bent paperclip to get to the SIM card in the iPhone.



Really, what kind of monsters work at Apple to think people want to deal with the hassle of destroying a perfectly good paperclip just to get to a SIM card most people never need to access?



I, for one, think this addition to the iPhone is welcome and long overdue.





Friday, June 06, 2008

New poll: tired of my anti-Hillary rants?

Check it out in the upper right corner of the site. Slake my curiosity. Vote, and leave your print on this site.

Note that you can vote for more than one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ding-dong the witch is dead

CNN is projecting that Obama has the delegates to "clinch" the nomination. Now maybe Hillary will ride her broom off into the sunset with her flying monkeys, although I doubt she'll go that quietly.

Don't do it Obama

Hillary has apparently said she'd be open to a joint ticket with Obama. I'd sleep with one eye open if I were you Barack - she's already brought up the topic of assassinations once in her campaign.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Presidential Motorcade

The other day El Presedente was in town. On day two of his visit I was dutifully riding the train to work. (I've been much better about riding the train lately - I haven't driven to work in a couple weeks.) As we approached the Courthouse stop Mr. Train Driver said we were going to have to wait a few minutes because of the presidential motorcade. Great. I Twittered that I'd be stuck waiting for the motorcade.



Sure enough, we waited a few minutes at Courthouse before Mr. Train Driver said we could proceed to Gallivan, but we'd have to wait there. When we got to Gallivan I considered jumping ship and walking the rest of the way, but decided against it reasoning that maybe the wait at Gallivan would be short too.



I opened up The Lappy and using Salt Lake's beautiful free Wifi jumped on the Internet. Looking at Twitter, I saw that someone had replied to my original tweet about being stuck, and said he needed to be downtown in 45 minutes and asked what parts to avoid. From that point on I Twittered where I saw traffic problems from my phone. Really, it's pretty cool that nowadays we can communicate this way. But I digress.



The train started moving again and we got as far as Temple Square and Mr. Train Driver said we weren't going any further, he was heading back to Sandy and everyone needed to get off.



As I walked toward work I came to 300 West, near KSL, and there was a cop in the street preventing anyone from passing. The motorcade was neigh.



Here are some pics I snapped with ye ol' iPhone. The camera on the iPhone is kinda crappy. Sorry.



About a dozen motorcycle cops came first. The whole motorcade was bookin' it - probably doing between 40-50 mph.







The President was in one of these limos. It was interesting to see that they weren't traveling in the same lane. Security measure I presume.





There go the limos. There were also probably about a half dozen Suburbans overall, some with crazy-looking comms equipment on their roofs.



Note the rolled-down rear windows in the Suburban in the above picture. The back tailgate window was also open and had what I believe was a sharpshooter (sniper) looking out the back. It was then and there that I was glad I had decided against mooning the motorcade.



After more cops there was an ambulance bringing up the rear with its lights on, just in case.



I admit it was pretty cool to see everything. I wonder if the President even thinks about all the measures and precautions that are taken for him, or if he's used to it now and it's just part of the job.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bad parents!


Who pays someone to take photos of their kid in front of the ugliest mural west of the Mississippi? These bozos, apparently. I threw up in my mouth a little when I realized what they were doing.

Just think about the traumatic childhood this kid will inevitably have with parents who are so misguided. These are the type of people who let their kid juggle kitchen knives because they're afraid telling him not to do something will damage him emotionally.

Nut jobs.