Friday, November 28, 2014

It figures

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Deep down I somehow knew this when I bought my Nano a couple days ago: there are new Nanos on the way. Word is they will be 8 and 10 GB. I’m assuming the pricing will be in the same range.

Word is they’re coming in the summer or maybe early fall. If that’s the case I don’t really have any regrets–I really did want one now. However, if there are 10 GB versions later this year I’ll probably update. It’s day three and I’m already out of space on the 2 GB and there’s a bunch of additional music I’d like to be carrying.

Delayed Photo Postings, Part 2: The Jen, Richard, and Grace Kelly Visit

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The weeks-old photo postings continue. This time I posted the pics from my day with Jen, Richard, and Grace Kelly.

Once again, if you can’t see them for some reason 1) email me (or leave a comment, if you don’t know my address) and tell me you can’t see them and 2) use the alternate link.

I finally gave in…

Thursday, April 20, 2006

…and bought an iPod. A white 2 GB Nano, to be specific. It arrives tomorrow.

I’ve been good for a full five years and really never missed having an iPod, regardless of how cool they were. Five months in New York with virtually no time behind the wheel, though (I used to do the majority of my listening in the car), made me susceptible to the iPod’s lure. Right now I’ve only been listening to tunes at home on Saturdays and Sundays. I miss my music.

I wanted the iPod so bad, in fact, that I had it overnight shipped from Amazon. So urgent was my need that I decided to ignore the fact the Nano hasn’t been updated since September, hence making it ripe for an revision. I’ve been hoping for a more scratch-resistant and maybe a more interesting color (I liked the blue Minis). I didn’t feel like waiting any more, so I bit the bullet (and bought a case to keep off the scratches).

My rationalization is if I use the Nano a lot and the next full-size iPod goes wireless or adds the rumored full-size screen maybe I’ll update later in the year. Since I didn’t buy the full 4 GB and got the 2 GB on discount this plan feels justified (Amazon discounts most of them, and also prices the white ones cheaper than the black ones). Self-delusion at its best.

Anyway, tomorrow I become the ultimate late iPod adopter. You’ll be able to find me zoned out on the streets of New York City.

Asheville photos

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I finally posted the photos from my Asheville trip of a couple weeks ago.

Note: I’ve gotten feedback the pictures are not always displaying. If you try to view the photos and can’t see anything, please come back to this page and use this backup link instead. Please email me or leave a comment if you can’t see the photos using the primary link.

Reluctant switch

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I begrudgingly set Firefox as my default browser today.

It’s not that I don’t like Firefox–it’s a solid product and always has been. It’s just I’m more of a bundled browser kind of guy. On Windows I’ve been using IE exclusively since 4.0 was released in late 1996 despite many (sometimes better) competing browsers. On the Mac I’ve been using Safari since I returned to the platform in early 2003 (I took a Mac hiatus from 1996 through early 2003).

I haven’t used a non-Microsoft or non-Apple browser since 1995-96 when I used Netscape 2.0 and 3.0 on my Windows machines and Mac. Even at that time I used IE 3.0 on Windows whenever I could, but the product was buggy and slow, so I didn’t completely trust it.

I generally feel the OS developer’s bundled browser should be the most tightly integrated with the platform. This is definitely the case on Windows, for better and for worse. I like the way IE is integrated into Explorer and other areas of Windows.

Safari doesn’t feel as tightly integrated to me, but that’s not why I’m moving away from it. The reason is simple: site compatability. For a long time I’ve lived with a degraded experience on Gmail (rich text editing and chat don’t work), (the posting feature is degraded), and other sites. Even the WordPress admin console doesn’t optimally in Safari (rich text editing again). Since I use Windows as much as I use the Mac and I use the same sites on both platforms I’m constantly reminded of Safari’s limitations.

In the end Google Calendar is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s in beta, so I’m sure it will be compatible with Safari eventually, but I’m an early adopter of services like Google Calendar, so I don’t want to wait. I’m tired of second-guessing browser compatability when I visit sites.

I really want to use Safari and I think the Safari crew is working hard on the compatability problems. Until I can be confident that even the minor compatability problems are going to be a rarity, though, I’m going to be spending the majority of my Mac browsing time in Firefox.

At the top again

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Windows on (Intel) Mac is at the top of Memeorandum again. It’s not quite 24 hours since my previous post and the developments continue.

Today’s top headlines focus on individuals who bucked Apple’s compatibility commitments and installed Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Windows XP Media Center Edition.

Windows on Mac is really capturing imaginations. Exciting stuff.

Windows on Mac, for real (and goodbye, Dell)

Saturday, April 8, 2006

So Apple quietly announced Boot Camp Wednesday and it’s been covered by pretty much everyone since then. It was at the top of Memorandum Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night (okay, it was third at 9:50 Friday) and it’s at the top again tonight.

It’s of course been covered by the usual folks such as Mac Rumors and MacWorld. It was covered in Business Week this week, was on the cover of USA Today, and Walt Mossberg has already weighed in on it. Nowadays Apple gets a lot of coverage from the mainstream media, but this level of coverage is unprecedented. Every variation of “Hell has frozen over” and “pigs are flying” has been used to describe this event.

My first thought when I read about Boot Camp was “Goodbye, Dell.” My initial feeling was the Mac would now work as a full-fledged Windows PC and the early tests already appear to confirm this.

From now on it will Macs all the way for me. My PowerBook and Dell will eventually be replaced by a single MacBook Pro. I’ll dual boot it using Boot Camp or its successor, or maybe I’ll use a virtualization solution like Parallels or VMWare. (I didn’t know until this week that emulation and virtualization are two very different things from a technical perspective. No more Virtual PC for me. My bet is Microsoft kills the product.)

Even if I need a second or dedicated Windows system for some reason (I hope I won’t) I’ll just buy an additional Mac. I like the hardware that much better. Life’s too short to burn money on another annoying Dell laptop.

I’ve been thinking about the impact this will have on Apple’s business and what it means for their product strategy. In general I think it will bring more folks to the platform, both “typical” folks and enthusiast users.

I’d guess dual booting will serve as a nice security blanket for potential switchers held back by fear of being unable to run Windows programs. How many of those individuals ever actually dual boot their system is another question, though configuring a dual boot system should get easier when Apple integrates Boot Camp into Leopard. Configuring a dual boot system would seem to be a nice value added service for whatever remains of the independent Mac reseller channel.

Interestingly, Nicholas Carr postulates (with credit given to Daring Fireball) the dual booting capability will be particularly attractive to “high end” or enthusiast buyers who are more profitable and this is the reason for Apple’s dramatic stock price increase following the announcement:

It’s not that Apple may be able to expand its general market share by a couple of percentage points; it’s that those percentage points are likely to represent many of the most attractive customers in the market.

I consider myself an enthusiast buyer and the capability is obviously attractive to me, so I think the argument holds water.

Will Macs that run Windows ultimately marginalize the Mac OS? I’m not as confident as John Gruber at Daring Fireball, but in general it seems that, given exposure to both operating systems, folks find Mac OS X more appealing than XP. The Apple-developed Mac-specific software like iLife and Final Cut Studio are also selling points for the Mac OS.

With regard to third-party software available on both platforms I don’t think the picture is as clear. If Leopard and subsequent versions of the Mac OS continue to keep Windows as a dual boot option instead of providing some sort of cleanly-integrated virtualization solution it would seem most of the dual platform developers will probably continue to create Mac-only versions.

If, however, Windows runs within the Mac OS in a fashion similar to the Classic app integration I wouldn’t be surprised if some developers scuttle their Mac versions. Software like Quicken, which has a weak Mac version, comes to mind.

All this is speculation, of course. Apple’s been playing things pretty smart, so I remain optimistic. This is great news for me personally. I’m a lot more anxious to get a MacBook Pro. Paging Apple: please deliver the 17-inch version.

NY Tech Meetup

Saturday, April 8, 2006

I attended the New York Tech Meetup for the first time Tuesday night 4/4. This meetup is “show and tell” of new technology for “geeks, investors, entrepreneurs, hackers, anyone that wants to see or show something interesting”. In a nutshell it’s a get together and networking event for tech folks.

I was one of many first-timers there. Given the meetup is limited to 200 people (apparently due to space considerations) the organizer said a lot of regulars were ticked to have been squeezed out.

Anyway, early in the organizer described the presentation format as “Gong Show”. That characterization might be a little strong, but there’s a five minute limit for each presentation (followed by five minutes for questions) and the crowd is definitely critical. I like the format.

There were seven presenters this time. The technologies and products shown were diverse and the presentation approaches varied from from professional and polished to rough and technical.

Here’s my take on each. I’m going totally from memory; next time I will try to take notes so I can provide more (and more accurate) detail. Presentations are listed in the order presented on the meetup agenda, which is not the order in which the presentations actually happened (again, my lack of notes is hampering me).


Andrew Rasiej, FON

FON is a really interesting service. FON provides a technical framework and business model for connecting folks’ individual Wi-Fi hotspots.

The basic idea is everyone opens their Wi-Fi router to everyone else and in exchange for doing that we all get free, ubiquitous Wi-Fi. Those who cannot or will not share their Wi-Fi can connect to the FON network for $2.00 per day (paid by the day, I think), which is a steal, assuming the network has coverage where you are. Even the broadband providers get a cut, which Andrew said has made them FON supporters.

I think this is a really neat concept, but there are a lot of practical, technical, and business hurdles. (Where’s the coverage? Personally, I’m on the fourth floor of an Upper West Side building and I’m within range of 10 access points as I write this–no one here needs my access point. What about EVDO and HSDPA?)

I’m nowhere near an expert on wireless technologies, but I’m a bit skeptical about this approach. Still, it’s pretty interesting, and I’ll look into it more closely before I commit to EVDO or HSDPA.

Jim Coffman, BlogAmp

This service was not presented particularly well. Based on the bread crumbs in the presentation and a later review of the BlogAmp site it appears to be a Flash-based MP3 player that can play files hosted anywhere, including BlogAmp’s hosting service. One value-add is playback statistics, which is useful but of course can be gleaned using standard Web logs.

Given the weakness of the presentation and the fact any reasonably technical person can download and integrate into their site a free Flash-based MP3 player from SourceForge (like I did about six months ago for a project) I don’t find this service particularly compelling. Maybe I’m missing something.

Tom Kane, Commontales

I’m going to cop out and just link to the Commontales FAQ page to describe it. I sorta got it from the presentation and sorta get it now. Apparently it’s a place to post stories and pictures and build upon them. Supposedly the stuff posted will remain there forever.

I like the concept, but I’m not sure yet on the execution, and given it’s a startup I’m skeptical stuff will be there forever. Maybe I’m missing something on this one, too.

At the very least it needs a better sales pitch. I don’t think I was the only skeptical one in the audience.

Patrick Fitzsimmons, ZipApp

The meetup agenda described this as “building a browser based Excel/Access, allows users to turn their spreadsheets or Access DBs into an online web app” and that overview works for me.

The presenter was talking really quickly as he tried to demonstrate every cool feature of the app in five minutes. There were a bunch of features that were definitely cool, though the coolness was largely due to the fact they were implemented in a browser (using AJAX, of course).

The service is interesting, but there were a lot of valid questions about the target market and eventual competitive threats from Microsoft (via Live services and products such as SharePoint) and the like.

The audience applauded and then lightened up a bit when Patrick confessed he’s a college student who wants to turn this into a business when he graduates.

I’m not sure about the service as it currently stands, but Patrick will be a guy to watch.

Breck, Alias-i

LingPipe is a natural language processing component implemented in Java. I don’t know much about natural language processing, but my sense from the crowd’s response was this software was not particularly unique. It’s open source and free for non-commercial uses. I didn’t get a clear picture of who the customers were.

Mark Hurst, GooTodo

This is one case where I was much more impressed with the presenter and his presentation than I was with the product.

As presented the product is a simple online to-do list that distinguishes itself by being able to convert email forwarded to it into to-do list items. In my book this is a neat feature, but it’s one that could be easily copied by any of the other to-do list services such as Ta-da Lists. Outlook already does what is effectively the same thing–to convert an email message to a task you just drag it to the tasks folder or shortcut.

He emphasized the popular “less is more” approach to feature implementation in selling the benefits of GoTodo. I agree in principle with minimalism, but I personally consider things such as RSS feeds to be a basic requirement for a lot of services nowadays, including to-do lists. RSS feeds are one of things I like about Ta-da Lists–I keep a copy of my personal to-do list on my personalized Google home page. In general I think the “no features is a feature” argument is being stretched a bit thin at this point and this is a good example.

Definitely an impressive individual and a good salesperson, but I’m not sold on the service.

Some other guy, an apparently interesting virus analysis service with a seemingly solid business case

This presenter and presentation were not listed on the agenda, which is a shame because the service presented seemed very interesting. Maybe the omission was intentional; he may want to stay off the radar for now.

In a nutshell the service supposedly will allow analysts to digitally photograph microscope samples and send them to an Internet service that will analyze them. In my mind this is an automated, Internet-based first-level lab analysis.

My description isn’t doing the service justice. I will try to find out more about this and will post a follow up if I do.


I plan to attend the NY Tech Meetup regularly, at least for the next few months. Though the presentations were mixed the people impressed me and I want to connect with other tech folks in the city, which is something I haven’t done as much as I wished I had in the other cities where I’ve lived. Hopefully there will be room for more than 200 people in the near future, because there’s a lot of interest.

Good week

Friday, April 7, 2006

It’s been a good week, a little crazy in places:

  • I got back from Asheville at about 1:30 Tuesday morning.
  • Tuesday night I hit the NY Tech Meetup. Interesting.
  • Wednesday Apple announced Boot Camp. I’ve been wanting to ramble on it ever since.
  • Wednesday night I did the New York Flyers group run. It was a better-than-usual night. Good company.
  • Thursday was a low-key night. I rode my bike for the first time in a couple weeks.
  • Today I went to Bryant Park after work and chilled for a while. Very therapeutic. I ran into my neighbor on the train and found out she’s the new sales head for Fast Company. I’m getting ready to run out and see Inside Man.
  • My friend Jen will be visiting this weekend. She’s bringing her daughter Grace and her husband Richard.

Most of this stuff I’ll blog about later, I just want to get in a brain dump now.

ecto for Windows sucks

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

I used ecto for Windows for the first and last time yesterday.

I was stuck in the airport and on a plane and decided to make productive use of my time by writing the Asheville post I published a short while ago.

Without going into detail I’ll just quickly ramble off the issues that made ecto for Window a pointless piece of software:

  • Saving an item as a draft is cumbersome and counterintuitive.
  • Saying the above makes it sound like the feature ultimately worked, which it didn’t. I launched ecto tonight and the post had mysteriously disappeared. Were it not for Google Desktop Search’s cache, which caught the preview HTML ecto generated, I would have lost the post.
  • Speaking of preview HTML, the preview HTML 1) did not display paragraph breaks and 2) displayed styles which look nothing like the styles on my server.

I’m pretty bummed I paid $8.00 to add the Windows version onto my order when I bought ecto for Mac. It feels like an afterthought product developed by a Mac-focused developer.

Now that I think about it I’m not thrilled with ecto for Mac, either. The text editor isn’t very robust and you can’t add new categories within the editor. Sigh.

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