It’s inevitable that kids will one day be equipped with hardware with software like this that will allow a parent to track their position on a map. If I were a parent, I’d love to be able to pop up a map that allows me to pin point the position of my kid with relative ease. Imagine if you could embed this technology in you kid someplace so that it couldn’t be removed easily. Of course the privacy issues still rear their head, but for me, I don’t think my kids, below a certain age, should have privacy. It’s my responsibility for them, there for I need to know what’s happening to them and where. Now if we could just surround this technology with effective security.
Archive for March, 2005
The Mac OS seems to have a problem with keyboard consistancy. For instance, in Abiword or TextWrangler, if I hold the shift button down and press the up or down arrow, the program selects the line of text down to the next line (just like in Windows or Linux). If I do the same thing in iTunes or Mail, the section goes one up or one down from my initial selection point. So if you had the following:
1 2 3 4 5
and I selected 3 then pressed shift-up, the selection would include 3 and 2. If I pressed shift-down, the selection would include 3,2, and now 4. There is no way to unselect a mistake (i.e. if you go one to many up or down) so you have to be careful in you selection.
The simple solution to the Terri Schiavo is to change the law. The way (I think) it works, spouse trumps family. Therefore, the law gives Michael Schiavo the right to decide her fate in absence of other evidence (i.e. a living will). If Governor Bush, President Bush, the Congress or the People of the United States want to keep her alive, they will need to change the law. Otherwise they have to play by the rules that they have laid out. I find it a bit hypocritical that the conservatives push for the sanctity of marriage and small government until it results in a decision they disagree with, at which point they want to step in and take control.
So why hasn’t Justices John Paul Stevens (the oldest member of the Supreme Court) and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (with his cancer) not retired from the Supreme Court? Assuming they play politics now would seem to be an opportune time for them to retire with the Republicans controlling the executive and legislative branches of government. This would give the Republicans a lasting hold on the judiciary branch for years to come. I can understand why the democratic justices (Breyer and Ginsberg) might not want to leave, but it just seems like a perfect time for the Republican justices. Then again, maybe none of them are playing politics and just want to stay on.
There is a folder in Mac OS X called library. Instead of this being a place to store your electronic books and magazines, it’s a place for applications to keep settings. Why is this folder called this? More importantly, why is it visable to me as a user? Is this something I’m going to be going into to play around (okay, I might, but the average user probably won’t). Call the folder something else (like Application Settings), hide it, and let me have a folder called library that I can keep my books and magazines in!
I’ve been a vegetarian for about 15 years. I am one because of moral reasons (God knows I’m too out of shape to claim health reasons). I feel that the meat producing industry is just cruel when it comes to harvesting their animals for consumption. So when I see video’s like this one ( the so called Bright Coop E-Z Catch Harvester), two things pop into my mind. The first is the abuse the animals are going through to placate out meat needs. Second is the tragic humor of the entire thing. If the chickens weren’t being hurt (are they?), the video would be funny.
I’m a believer of what ever I am currently reading. As I read Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture, I believed that the copyright system needed to be torn down and the RIAA/MPAA were evil incarnate. Then I read “The Long Tail“, and I suddenly find myself thinking copyrights don’t really effect content availability. Either way, I change my mind based on what I’m reading .
Okay, it’s not that simple. Both pieces compel me to evaluate what I think about the copyright system and come to my own conclusions. Yes, I do think that the current copyright system effectively gives incentive to the media companies to pay for extensions to their copyrights (which is what they are basically doing by “donating” to an elected member of the government to entice them to vote a particular way). And yes, I do think that any work, no matter how obscure or just bad can find an paying audience among the 6 billion plus people on the planet, enough to make a profit. No, I don’t think that the creators of copyrighted works should expect a perpetual monopoly on their works any more then I believe that patents should be perpetual. No, I don’t think that people should steal copyrighted works. And yes, sometimes I think a little civil disobedience now and again is necessary to force the companies to drop such silly concepts of DVD regions and selective releases in order to irk out an extra dollar or so. And yes, I believe that the US Government has the best laws money can buy and that large companies and wealthy people have been doing so since the dawn of government. I’m done ranting.
I’m for granting exclusivity on created works for a limited time. It’s a fair reward system that promotes creativity. I am against permanent exclusivity on a work as much as I am against unlimited patents. It effectively becomes a legal monopoly. This is never good because it stagnates technological advances and artificially elevates prices.
So when it comes to copyright, I wonder if there is a compromise that can occur that benefits all. Why not allow the exceptions of copyright that allow for the redistribution of lower quality versions of a work. Take for example Star Wars – A New Hope. It’s going to be under copyright till at least the middle of the century. That prevents anyone from building on that work without paying George Lucas, which could be expensive. So instead of requiring that payment, why not require that any version used in another work be of a lower quality? There are a number of techniques for programmatically evaluating audio quality. Why not apply that type of technology to measure the level of degradation? This would give people the ability to use new works while simultainiously giving the originator an exclusivity on a better version of a work.
Do these works infringe on copyright? The first combines ‘Office Space’, the movie, and ‘Superfriends’, the TV show. Next up an artist (?) combines the motivational posters of the late 90′s with the villains of comic books. Lastly the Portland Mercury combines the adventures of the Bible (who owns that copyright) with characters from Marvel Comics. Clearly these are parodies, but in our sue happy world, can artists actually take the chance of creating them for fear of exorbitant legal costs? I’m listening to an audio version of Lawrence Lessigâ€™s ‘Free Culture‘ and it’s gotten me thinking about the direction that our culture is moving. In the 80′s the ‘Greed is Good’ mentality of Gordon Gecko (‘Wall Street’, the movie) seems to have exploded into the 00s with the advent of massive legalities and the pervasive problem of paid government. While something may not be illegal or morally wrong, the law has been written to enable a select few to essentially crush the upstart competition through lawsuits and legal fees. Ultimately it’s a problem with capitalistic republics, where the few, rich and powerful, can influence the masses by controlling both the means of communication (TV, Radio, Movies, News) and the politicians through campaign contributions. Even worse, those few can create a political candidate that is a puppet for their agenda. God bless America.
I was working on my Mac Mini and I had a realization. The Mac isn’t about innovation. It’s about making a device work exactly the way Apple thinks people should work. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s exactly like Sony or Pioneer, engineering a device to perform a function. The Mac is a consumer device that doesn’t take many chances. It takes an established technology and makes it the best it can as long as it fits the Apple paradigm.
I like the Mac. I do. But I just can’t do as much with it as I can with a Windows or Linux box. With those, you can get down the nitty-gritty and get a bit dirty. Working with a Mac is like working with a Cadillac. It’s safe and reliable, just not that interesting to play with.
I will admit, it’s pretty. And it does help get stuff done, assuming you subscribe to the Apple model. But it you try to veer to far from that model, the Mac falls behind. The problem isn’t that the hardware is bad or the software is inherently flawed. Both are fine pieces of work. The problem is that Apple does everything for the user. Need a mail application, use Mail. If you need a web browser, Safari. Calendaring, iCal. Again, they are fine applications, workable in that Apple way, but they don’t entice the user to make better alternatives. WIth Windows or Linux, the built in applications are lacking and the user base wide enough to foster an environment of opportunity for something better. The Apple user just doesn’t have incentive to make a better application because Apple has done just well enough to satisfy the basic needs. iTunes is a perfect example. Before it’s inception, there was a market for Apple MP3 player. After it appeared, the market disappeared. iTunes is good enough to satisfy the majority of users who don’t realize that there could be something better.
I was watching Steve Jobs give his Keynote, talking about the features of Tiger. RSS, iChat AV, Automator, he talked about them as if they were innovative technologies that defied the laws of computing. And people applauded. They screamed in excitement as he pulled up an RSS feed as if it were some new magical world never seen before.
And I wondered if they had. Had the Apple community become so dependent on Apple that innovation, that interesting technologies needed to be developed by Apple for the Mac community to adopt them? In the Windows world, no one applauded the introduction of Windows Media Player. No one screamed in excitement when Windows Messenger was revealed. There was always a sense of “about time” or “application X” does that so much better.
So why do Windows people act so jaded? In part I think it’s because Microsoft, like Apple, isn’t that innovative. They move slowly into new technologies, only taking the minimal amount of risk. As a result, the users of the Microsoft OSs are forced to take the big risks, to develop the technologies that they need. I don’t see that with Apple (Quicksilver being an exception). Instead I see responses to questions like “why would you want to do that” or “I let iTunes handle all my sorting”. It’s a dependency that breeds complacency. The innovative, think different mentality of 1984 has vanished to one of paradigms and tunnel vision fosters by Apple.
So is all bad with the Mac? No, not at all. It’s built on Unix. Powered by the most powerful OS developed. It is attracting scores of jaded Linux hacker tired of living in a world of a “just working” operating systems. The Mac Mini is pulling in hundreds of Switchers from the Windows world who are tired of a “it works, just not well” technology called XP or 98. This influx of users inevitably leads to a diversification of thought. The Apple way will give way to the User way. Think different will soon be coupled with ‘from Apple’. People will innovate and expand the OS. It will drive the hard-core cult of Mac zealots to gafaw at the user who dares not to think the Apple way. Maybe these new users will cause Apple to think different.
So I’ve been using my Mac Mini since I got it back in January. Overall, it’s okay. I’ve had to hard restart it about 5 or 6 times (maybe result of uControl). I can’t run that many applications simultaneously (even with 512mob of memory) or push an application to hard (like opening 20 tabs in Firefox) risking system slowdown. Most of my complaints are on usability. I’ve tried not to let my experience in the WIndows/Linux world bias me towards particular way (though Home and End buttons should go to the beginning and end of a line, dammit!), so my complaints are more on the “why did they do that” concept.
First off, the Dock. This is a wholly great idea with a poor implementation. First off, the shape is never good. It leaves space on either side of it as if the user is going to use it some how. The more applications I run, the bigger the bar gets. But there is still that wasted, unused space on the sides. Maybe when Tiger comes out the Dashboard technology can be used to put something useful on either side.
Next up is the inability of the Mac to close some applications. I occasionally download quicktime files to watch. When I open them, up pops Quicktime. I watch the clip and click the red button on the Mac. But Quicktime doesn’t close. Wait, I’m sorry, it doesn’t exit. The window closes, but the Quicktime icon is still sitting in my Dock, taking up space. Why? Am I going to really use Quicktime again, or Preview, textedit, or any of a dozen 1-shot apps that I might open up in a day. Probably not. Apple is trying to save time opening an app by storing part of it in memory (though I wonder if it actually is keeping the app up or if it’s just remembering your most recently used applications), but users are going to occasionally open up an image or file that doesn’t need to have it’s handler sitting in the task bar and in order to close it, the user will need to take and additional step.
One of the things I loathed about Linux is having to eject a USB drive. Mac has the same problem. It seems completely unintuitive to have to drag a mounted drive to the Trash Can before I can take it off my system. I want to drag those documents from my home folder to a USB key then grab the USB key and stick it in my pocket. I don’t want to have to remember to Eject it first in order to have usable files. More importantly I shouldn’t have to. It’s a computer, it should be smart enough to not require me to do so.
The built in mail app works. The only complaint I have is that hitting the delete button will delete the current message and then highlight the previous. This just seems wrong. I’ve already read the previous message (hence it being the previous), go to the next message.
And what is up with the Drawer on so many applications? Is this really a more usable concept? It seems like it’s an add on to an application instead of being part of it.
So was there anything I liked about OSX? One word, Quicksilver.
Quicksilver amazed me when I discovered it. This little search app integrates so well into the OS and I can’t think of an equivalent in the Windows or Linux world. My fear, though, will be that Apple will ‘innovate’ it away with the introduction of Spotlight in Tiger. Will there be a need for a potentially better application like Quicksilver if Spotlight works just well enough to satisfy the Mac community?
I love the integrated address book. Finally an OS integrated address book that provides such innovative fields as Birthday or Anniversary. I’m not exactly sure why other OSs haven’t done this before.
Despite my gripes about the Dock, I will admit it has beautiful icons. All of OSX is just amazing to look at, with amazing coloring and representations.
I’ve wanted a Mac for a while. Actually I wanted the OS and would have been very happy if Apple had decided to port it to x86 hardware. Like most software out there (MS Solitaire being the only perfect software ever created), the OS has it’s quirks. I’m looking forward to Tiger but I’m afraid that as Apple continues to Innovate it’s operating systems, it will innovate the the OS out of anything interesting or useful. Time will tell.