Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in March, 2007

Wow, 15 days without a post. It’s been a slow couple of weeks, news-wise, and I’ve been distracted by off-line problems; sorry about that.

Of course the TV has finally shipped, there’s been tons of reports about it, and Apple’s stock price even got a good boost from that. Still, it’s a device I find it hard to comment upon, either positively or negatively. I rarely watch TV or even DVDs, our TV is an old model that has none of these new-fangled inputs or features (I think), and even if the device were available here I’m not in the target market. What does seem slightly interesting is that it apparently runs Mac OS X (not the “lite” OS X many expected), and therefore some people have already twiddled it to install additional video codecs.

Other than that, I’ve just read an excellent piece by former Apple manager John Martellaro, essentially arguing that Apple has first-class engineers and designers and doesn’t (at least not nowadays) do anything dumb, although it may look like it from the outside standpoint:

What I’ve noticed is that there is hardly a single writer, including myself, who has complete insight into Apple’s reasoning and design decision for a product.

…when you get a lot of smart people together in an Apple conference room, and let them fight it out, good things happen. One person will invariably have insight and hindsight that’s lacking in the others. By the time the dust clears, and a lot of scribbling has been done on the white board, a pretty good solution will have been worked out. Gotchas will be discovered and diagnosed. Experience with the customer, intimate knowledge of Mac OS X internals, and next generation technologies coming down the road will lead to sound engineering judgment from the group.

…Just remember, no matter how experienced any one writer is, they can seldom out-think a corporation as good as Apple.

Indeed. There are many young pundits, journalists and developers out there that are way too eager to jump on the “Apple is obviously brain-dead” bandwagon – of course “young”, nowadays, describes almost everyone from my viewpoint icon_biggrin.gif. In contrast, I think that, today, most questionable decisions from Apple can be blamed on limited human resources. Doing insanely great stuff takes time and needs first-class people.

Another never-ending discussion is the Leopard shipping date. I stiil agree with Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng that Leopard should ship at WWDC. However, people have been picking up a rumor that Apple is delaying Leopard by several months to (supposedly) get Macs to boot Vista. Huh? This completely illogical reasoning is aptly skewered by Daniel Eran at RoughlyDrafted:

Apple didn’t exactly scramble to get iTunes working on Vista, and iTunes is an important part of Apple’s business. That being the case, will Apple hold up the release of Leopard for months in order to support Vista in Boot Camp, a product that Apple makes no money in providing?

The story is so absurd on so many levels that it’s hard to find a place to start pointing out why it’s so stupid.

It really is very strange. Apple says they will ship in spring (these local seasonal references are really obsolete in a global context, but that’s another rant). Spring in Cupertino goes until a week or so after WWDC, people tell me. Even so, people who have not seen anything of Leopard beyond some leaked screenshots wrote excitedly about a MacWorld release, then about a March release, then when their wild predictions aren’t confirmed start to moan that “Apple’s been having trouble getting Leopard out” and now, even, that “Leopard had reportedly been delayed until October”. I really hope that Apple will show more details before WWDC, but I won’t be too surprised if they don’t.

Musings on Apple

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Now that the waves around the iPhone have mostly died down, and we’re in a “silent period” between announcements, some further musings.

My earlier ideas about OS X in other products and a second-generation “tablet” device have percolated into the punditosphere. The trigger seems to have been the recent surge in larger or faster solid-state memory devices, as well as shipment of the first hybrid flash/disk drive. See, for instance, Jason D. O’Grady commenting about another analyst’s write-up:

There are numerous reasons why a diskless MacBook (or nanoBook) is the next logical progression of the notebook computer…

What’s interesting about the Reuters piece is that [it] claims that the nanoBook would run the stripped down, multi-touch version of Mac OS X that will ship with iPhone as opposed to the full-blown version…

In an included poll, however, 76% of voters said they’d want such a sub-notebook to run the full version of Mac OS X, and only 10% claim to accept with OS X (Lite). Others are skeptical of wider use of flash memory, even for larger iPods:

There is one brutally limiting factor to flash, though: cost. Flash is almost ten times more expensive than hard-disk memory. Although significant adoption of flash over the last 12 months has seen prices drop enormously, it’s still too costly to buy in the quantity needed for video iPods. Apple has a good relationship with its flash manufacturers though, and may secure a helpful price reduction it can pass on to consumers. But will that be enough to justify vanquishing the hard disk completely?

Still, I agree that prices are falling fast and that such a device may well be pre-announced at WWDC in June for shipment before the end of 2007. On the other hand, when so many financial analysts agree that such a device is in the works, it makes me suspect that they must be wrong… icon_smile.gif

Speaking of WWDC, only some radical holdouts (and a few financial analysts) still believe in an end-of-March launch of Leopard. I can’t say much about it because of NDAs; but to put Leopard on the market by the end of this month – meaning that, because of manufacturing and shipping times, it would be have to be ready about today – is impossible. Yes, some of the aforementioned radicals say that Apple has secret advanced builds in their labs and all the seed versions they sent out since last were just a cover. Hah. I’ll believe that when I see it; maybe not even then.

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs points at a brilliant Onion piece. Wish I’d written that…

“Get ready for the future of product introduction,” said Jobs, looking resplendent in a black turtleneck and faded jeans. “The iLaunch will be able to make announcements from this, or any other stage, making human participation in generating consumer awareness almost entirely unnecessary.”

“Before today, I couldn’t imagine paying $12,000 for a product-unveiling product,” CNET editor Jasmine France said after the presentation. “Now I can’t imagine living without it.”

Shortly after Jobs’ address, Microsoft announced that they are working on a similar product, the Launch-O, due to debut in 2009.

My ISP of choice for the last 2+ years, DreamHost, has been having a string of bad luck the last few months. Server outages, power problems, you-name-it. As usual, lots of people complained and some even switched providers. Then DreamHost’s CEO posted a self-confessed super-lame apology in their characteristically snarky style; Jesper summed it, and the majority of user’s feelings, up pretty well.

I must say I’m more relaxed about this. They (or at least the server I’m on) have, on the average over the last two years, had less downtime than the ISP I used before for longer than that – one that was 2 minutes away from my home, run by personal friends, yet in the end couldn’t do what I needed to. They’re located in a convenient place very near (in ping time) to my user base. They offer all the technical conveniences I need. Their bandwidth and space limits are so ridiculously large I never worry about them. And best of all, they’re inexpensive – with the rewards program those 2+ years have so far cost me about $200, and I still have almost that much in credit; if this goes on, I never will have to pay them again. (Click here to sign up and I’ll get yet another reward! Thank you!) Yes, if I had a high-traffic e-commerce site that needed 100% 24/7 availability I would probably host it elsewhere. And pay at least 10 times as much. Make that 20. Or 50…

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