Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Due to a freak snowstorm (in Seattle!) I spent most of the day on the couch - no commute to work for me today.

Which means I spent most of the day looking at the Macworld announcements (A Tablet PC is a great device for web-surfing on the couch. Highly recommended.)

My opinions:

Time Machine: Meh.
For $300/$500, I fully expect somebody to come over to my house every day, to backup all my computers. After giving me a foot rub. I wasn't expecting a boring-as-a-box-of-bandages Airport Extreme box with a hard disk in it.

Seriously, with a name like Time Capsule, I was expecting the device to look like this:
That's the robotic turret from Portal, in case you didn't play the best game of 2007. And 2008, probably.

Is it just for backup, or can I use it as a regular hard disk? (I'm guessing yes, as that's how Time Machine disks work today.)
Can I backup/access files across the internet? Doesn't look like it.
Windows Home Server does allow you to do that, but it also suffers from overpricedness.
Oh, and "server-grade" hard drive? That's a pretty woolly statement.

I'd still like one, though. But I wouldn't go to much effort. I'd pick it up if you dropped one off at my doorstep.

$20 Touch Upgrade: WTF?
There has to be some legal reason for the upgrade fee. Maybe some technology in the bundle has a licensing fee. Can't think of what it could be, though.

Macbook Air: Hmmmm
This is either the new Cube, or sheer genius.

Crunchgear hits the nail on the proverbial.

Dumping the DVD drive is a risky move. Yes, they are bulky, and are not used very much. But walk around any airplane/train, and you'll see a huge number of people with laptops watching movies. (The general public seems to have horrific taste in entertainment. Seriously, why is CSI: Miami popular?)

Here's a hint, Apple: Not all those people are going to rent a movie off iTunes for a four-hour flight, like you cheerfully propose (See "Ahead of the Curve"). I can borrow a movie from my roommate's DVD collection. For free. For more than 24 hours. People generally pick the easiest and cheapest solution available to them.

Like ripping your CD collection? Not on your Air, you don't.

So, this is not for the general public. Probably. But the Air will be the new status symbol. Unlike the Cube, you can cart it around with you, to show everybody your newly purchased Good Taste in Technology.

The Remote Disk feature is typical Apple: A innovative idea in theory, woolly in practice:
Can I rip CDs? (Probably not)
Watch DVDS? (No?)
How fast would a software install be, via Remote Disc/wireless network? (Slowish, I would guess.)

I expect CEOs to love the Air. And support techs to hate Remote Disc.
They should really include the USB DVD drive as a standard item.

AppleTV: Must buy
I'm buying one of these. Although; The Xbox 360 has had the same thing already. Kinda. But I trust Apple to (a) get content from every studio, and (b) do a better UI.

Though, the watch-a-movie-within-a-minute statement by Jobs is pure bullshit. We have a lot of people who crunch numbers like that, and the average consumer is not going to get that.

The fact that the average (er...rich) consumer can now easily get HD content via their Internet connection (via Apple, or Microsoft) means that HD-DVD is dead. As is Blu-ray.
Check Craiglist Seattle for a cheap HD-DVD player tonight.


Andrei said...

I would like to invite your over at WindowsVienna.com where I can give you all the necessary tools and the anonymity that you need.

We get a lot of exposure and most of the people that have interest in Windows 7 end up on this website.

If you are interested, please contact me at andrew at geekpedia dot com.

Shawn Oster said...

Neat, it's like I'm trying to get some kind of statistical sampling of comments strewn through your blog.

Anyway, I came away with the same feelings for most things, though I still find AppleTV mostly useless without a DVR. Yeah, I know, who actually uses a DVR anymore but honestly I'm too lazy and too cheap to spend $2 to wait to download anything I don't know I absolutely want to watch, which means no trying out new shows. I recorded the whole new season of 'Life' on a whim, not because I was that interested but I figured why not, which turned out great because it's actually a good show, yet no way I would have dumped even a $1 to try it. Same the other direction, if I would have paid $2 to watch the new 'Bionic Woman' I would have been pissed considering how that must be the worst show since American Idol or Big Brother.

Anyway, without a DVR it's just a crappy, expensive, no DVD, no game playing, crippled XBox 360. Personally I consider the AppleTV the worst produce coming out of MacWorld.

I think the Macbook Air will actually work well for watching movies. Personally I rip movies to wmv or h.264 because running a DVD drive for an entire movie kills battery life. All the Air is going to do is make DVD ripping software companies (and AnyDVD) rich. I'd also be surprised not to see some kind of iTunes library syncing to help people pepper their lappies with media.

I'd like to see more about Time Capsule, it may just hit a niche for people that don't backup though personally I love my HP Home Server. Seeing an entire image backup done every night across all my computers is awesome and being able to install my source control server and Sonos on it make it the butter than Time Capsule lacks.

OK, enough commenting, this is what happens when you have to deal with a slow code update from a slow subversion repository, it gives you too much free time.

Bill said...

What sort of self respecting computer geek would carry a physical disk instead of a just ripping his DVD onto his laptop for a flight?

Totally ignoring the huge savings in battery life, it's just one less thing you have to keep up with.

I'm not sure why you think it's not possible to rip a CD from a shared CD Rom drive. You can print to shared printers. You can fax through a shared fax modem. You can save files to a shared hard disk. How hard is it to imagine Ripping from a shared CD Rom Drive?

I was kind of impressed that the Windows version of the CD Rom redirector also allows a PC to read a HFS formatted disk and share it.

nature photographer said...

Is this your insight into Windows 7? Saying how you don't like Apple products?

And that's funny, seeing as Microsoft often copies Apple. (Zune? Live thumbnails? Gadgets? Multi-touch?) I think that the little ad in the beginning of the keynote put it nicely:
PC: 2008 will be the year of the PC!
Mac: What are your plans?
PC: Just copy what you did in 2007.

And that couldn't be truer. I'm constantly finding new things Microsoft does that Apple already did.

Another example, Microsoft's new Office 2008? Well, not to go through every feature, but for example... You can snap objects into position like when making a power point presentation, you can snap an object to center on the screen. What do you know? That was already in iWork. Surprise...

andrei, I wouldn't think windowsvienna.com would benefit from merging with this blog. I haven't seen anything on the blog where he talks about the future of Windows 7. The closest he came to was linking to an istartedsomething.com article about Microsoft working on a new UI.

Shawn Oster said...

@nature photographer: *sigh* Really? we're going to turn this back into the age old "who copied whom" issue? Really? Anyone have a good page that shows the history of how both Microsoft and Apple have copied others, how they have each copied each other and how it matters very, very, very little who copied what, it's all in the implementation.

Also nature photographer this doesn't seem to be an "official" blog, it's not just about shipping 7 and if you've actually read more than a few posts you'd notice that he also respects Apple quite a bit, preferring the Touch to the Zune for example.

So before you get on your high horse and get defensive take a breath and realize he's just stating his opinions and that they're not all negative. He's not blindly trashing Apple though *you* on the other hand are wilding sputtering in a defensive rage.

Steve said...

And nature photographer if you were in the position of this blog's author, would you go spouting trade secrets (right at the start)?? Lawsuits, anybody?

Toph said...

I do seem to remember reading a while ago that something about the way Apple has been reporting the revenues from the Touch requires them to charge for new features. Annoying. Oh well.

Re: AppleTV, I'm happy with the Xbox.

nature photographer said...

I'm sorry you guys. The caption of the blog is basically 'random thoughts from someone who just works there', not 'all about windows 7'. It's just that I followed a link from WindowsVienna.com and andrei's comments make it out like it's a bunch of leaked details, which it isn't.

Still, it's been over a year since vista was released, so it would be nice to have some more details on the OS.

And about the Apple/Microsoft who-copied-who... You know what, you're right, it's pointless to talk about it. I guess when I checked out the blog and the first post was just talking about how wireless backups and portable computers and such were lame, it didn't make sense for the title of the blog to imply it's about the future of Windows Seven.

So, whatever... Unless you give new info about win7, there just doesn't seem to be anything special about this blog.

Shawn Oster said...

@nature photographer: Nice way to man up! I understand just how easy it is to go off sometimes and how rare it is for people to come back and actually tone things done. Seriously, that rocks.

As far as this blog not being all that special... well it's a blog, not many blogs are that special. Hell, mine's just a place to rant and jot things done so I can Google them later. Good thing he doesn't have ads in the page, he wouldn't be making much :)

nature photographer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toph said...

Here's a little clarification of the Touch $20 upgrade:


Shane said...

Blu-ray and HD-DVD aren't dead until the quality of on demand/downloadable/streamed HD content improves dramatically. Compare the video quality side by side and the difference is obvious.

John said...

The AppleTV looks good but its lack of codec support kills it. I've been wanting to ditch my vista media PC and move to an Apple TV since they originally shipped but its this lack of support that just kills it for me.

My content comes from a variety of sources, not just MPEG4 or iTunes content, and I need that respected. I also have a large library of media built up from the last 10+ years and I need to keep that intact.

Sure, I can hack the Apple TV but really just have better things to do with my time.

So until then I limp along with my underpowered, hodge podged Vista Media PC that torches hard-drives on a fairly regular basis. Bummer.

TechtalkRadio said...

Did you write that Portal was the best game in 2007? Hmmm, have you looked at Call of Duty 4 from Activision? Great use of DX10 and Multiplayer gameplay is phenom..just a thought!

Justin said...

@TechTalkRadio: Call of Duty 4 uses DirectX 9. Its graphics are definitely deceptive though.

alanhogan said...

Legal reason? Yes. SarbOx, actually. Can't remember how exactly, but you can Google (errp, Live Search) it.

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