g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, December 3, 2006
23:42 - Everybody wins... sometiiiiimes
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2061973,00.asp

(top)
Jason Cross of ExtremeTech has what must be the longest, most in-depth Zune review yet. It's also one of the most positive ones, which seems to suggest that in order to get a better impression of the Zune, you just need to give it a chance.

Ultimately, I'm pleased to see that; it means, as I've said before, that Apple—who didn't feel the need to rush any new iPod-related products to market for the 2006 Christmas season—gets to take all the time it needs in responding to all the things the Zune does well. Some of the things that Cross discovered (such as more sophisticated Smart/Auto Playlists and better device-to-computer syncing, which is new in iTunes 7 in the first place) Apple might well take the opportunity to absorb into its own stuff, and I doubt anybody would blame them—indeed, I know several iPod/iTunes users who seem to get hung up on the geekiest of shortcomings, such as the ability to do really specific, oddball database queries in their Smart Playlists. Apple might even look into the sidelong navigation system that the Zune has and everybody seems to like, where you can go left-and-right from album to genre and so on no matter where you are in the hierarchy, and might even try to spiff up the screen transitions to respond to the well-executed in/out zooms that telegraph clearly how you're moving "in" or "out" of the device's depths: the iPod's left/right wipes are purely functional, but they don't grab one's avaricious eye anymore.

But it's anybody's guess whether Steve and crew will consider these things worth disturbing the purity of execution that the iPod exemplifies, and that iTunes exemplified up till version 7 with all its kooky glitz came along. Either way, though, we know this for sure: the 6G iPod and iTunes 8 will probably be the most significant updates—as far as basic usability goes—since the first generation, because this will be the first one that's driven by competitive pressure that inspires real, high-profile praise going somewhere other than straight in Apple's direction. I, for one, can't wait to see what they've got cooking.

Via JMH.

Saturday, December 2, 2006
20:19 - Fellaaas? Come baaaack! Wait for meeeee!
http://www.sony.com.au/vaio/article.jsp?id=3861

(top)
You've got to be kidding me. I know it's been a rough couple of years for them, but... this is what Sony is reduced to?

"It's more fun to be a Vaio!" Uh... yeah, you sure shut those guys down.

Via evariste.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
12:50 - Oh good, someone's noticed
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2006/11/29/cstillwell.DTL

(top)
At SFGate.com/the San Francisco Chronicle, no less.

Via Dave.

12:43 - Greeks bearing gifts
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/29/ugreek129.xml

(top)
I knew they'd sort of developed the steam engine, but this one (via JMH) is new to me: what amounts to a Babbage-engine-like computer from ancient Greece.

Prof Edmunds said: "It makes you wonder what they would have achieved if they'd have carried on, and the Romans hadn't taken over and put a stop to things. Would they have had a man on the Moon by AD 300?

"It sounds ridiculous, but if they were able to construct something as technically brilliant as this, it's not complete fantasy," said Prof Edmunds.

"The Romans were great at the stuff like building sewers and getting things done, but it was the Greeks who were the thinkers, and came up with real innovative technology."

Talk about your alt-history fodder.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
16:58 - MAKE WAY FOR LUMBERING ELEPHANT
http://www.engadget.com/2006/11/28/zune-oddnesses-zune-pretty-in-pink-zune-on-a-mac/

(top)
Okay, much of what's been said about the Zune so far can be chalked up to Microsoft's newness to the gadget market, stodgy corporate culture, or calculated attempts to cash in on existing revenue streams such as the Xbox Live online model. Clumsy, but at least you can see some thought went into it at some level.

But what to make of this?

I mean, how do you even come up with an explanation for this sort of thing other than that Microsoft is explicitly trying to screw up the Zune's launch in as many ways as is humanly possible, like by pulling a bizarre bait-and-switch on a hundred "lucky" customers and hoping—presuming—they'd like it?

"Aw, dammit... I wanted brown!"

Via Daring Fireball, whose headline for this I love.

Monday, November 27, 2006
14:01 - Ah don't care who y'are, that's funny raht there

(top)
Check this out. If you have a non-standard browser, such as Camino, go to Zune.net, and notice that the whole page is rendered without any CSS, as one big long retro-1995 unformatted mess.

Then view it in a "standard" browser, like Safari or Firefox. It looks quite nice.

Then check out the source. For "recognized" browsers, it's spitting out the following:

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/xweb/lib/css/Argo_default_UpLevel_en.css?ver=1420" /><link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://www.zune.net/en-us/z_singlesource/fl-toplevelskin-coachella.css" /><noscript><link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/xweb/lib/css/Noscript.css" /></noscript><script type="text/javascript" src="/xweb/lib/javascript/general.js?rev=1420"></script><script type="text/javascript">

Or something similar, presumably a browser-specific set of CSS files. But on non-recognized browsers, it doesn't print out those lines at all.

What's especially funny is that the conditional block above also contains the <script type="text/javascript"> that opens the big chunk of JavaScript that follows; so the JavaScript doesn't work in a browser that doesn't trigger the block to be emitted—it's interpreted as a big comment. But it also has a <noscript> tag. So they tried to do traditional browser backward-compatibility, and only succeeded in screwing up actual browser backward-compatibility.

This is just as much fun as back when they released IE 4.0 (I believe it was), and their site contained a whole big long list of features explaining why it was better than Netscape—but it was missing the </TABLE> tag, which made the entire page not render in Netscape.

Or back when they released IE 3.0, and put up a page at the old IE 1.0 default URL to push users to the new browser's download page; but it had a broken include in it that printed out an error that said something like: "Error #88022: Type mismatch." So hapless users signing up for Internet accounts would fire up their browser for the first time, see this page and this error message, and start uncertainly typing "m-i-s-m-a-t-c-h"...

Via Chris.


11:11 - Silence the dissenters
http://www.cartoonbrew.com/archives/2006_11.html#002488

(top)
It just adds to the irony that the image accompanying this post at Cartoon Brew is of a show that served as the visual basis for Moral Orel, clearly one of the shows whose unceasing broadsides against religion over the past couple of years are surely among of the reasons for the backlash being discussed.

I mean, look here... I'm sure that to most people in animation, shows like Drawn Together, Moral Orel, The Boondocks, Minoriteam, and movies like Happy Feet are just innocent cartoons, and people who take offense at them are in need of a "priority check". But Veggie Tales—now, that is subversive, indoctrinating propaganda.

And yet when Drawn Together takes on Veggie Tales by blowing them apart into bloody chunks in an apocalyptic rampage, those people who are the butt of the joke by proxy are expected to just sit back and take it. Because raising up a protest and threatening a boycott—why, that's a crusade.

The world sure must look weird from the Hollywood Hills. I'm glad I got out of there when I did.

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© Brian Tiemann