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Exit ArchiveArchive for November, 2007
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Anyone who can look at pictures like this and not feel there’s something truly evil in those sulfur-colored plumes should have their soul checked. They might not even have one installed! The poison just one test puts into the environment… It’s horrifying to ponder.

Licorne Mushroom Cloud

From Pierre J.’s Flickr stream.

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Without even seeing the movie, I could tell something was wrong with Beowulf. I’m glad I can latch on to someone from a major publication who, after seeing the actual movie, agrees.

If the first trailer was bad, the second trailer is even worse. I simply don’t think I will bother to drag myself out to see this one. Ech! CREEPY!

Well, I’m very disappointed in Ben Stein. No longer will I be able to watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and think of Ben as the funny teacher. I will think of him as the pathetic mouthpiece of ID who, despite himself, must have accidentally been funny.

What the hell am I talking about? This:

Wow. There is so much that’s horrible about that clip, I can’t even see straight. O’Reilly really is an ignorant, posturing creep. It makes me sad that so many people hang on this man’s every word. And that Ben! What? He always presented such a fun yet rational image!

Okay, it’s not very fair to bludgeon Ben and his talents because he believes in God, but he really is asking for it. Perhaps I’m persecuting him for his beliefs, as he says “the seculars” do! Well, no. I’m not persecuting him for that, I’m persecuting him for his ignorance on the matters he’s trying to discuss. If you’re going to summarize the “secular” viewpoint of the beginning of life on Earth as “lighting striking a mud puddle,” then you are open game. Trying to sell the ID agenda as a simple first amendment right to free speech is full-on bullshit.

I got into all this again thanks to a very good Ars Technica article describing how, after a defeat in the courts, Intelligent Design is rebranding itself to take another shot at infiltrating schools. Ben mentioned in the above clip how desperate “seculars” are because Darwin’s theory is so flawed. “Seculars” aren’t the ones who are desperate, it’s the creationists who are desperate. Science doesn’t need to throw up a smokescreen to get taught in classes. Only fake, made-up ideologies reliant on ancient superstitions and human failings need to do so to be considered as proper curricula for schools.

While certain slimy types keep wanting to force ID into everyone’s consciousness, it’s good to keep finding articles like this one, which demonstrate how, little-by-little, humans can piece together the true evolution of life and the workings of the universe. There are no little pieces like this to support the concept of a creator, and I think, Mr. Stein, that that is what is making ID lovers nervous. All science needs to do is explore, finding clues and proof about the real world, while ID must rely on attacks, whining that science hasn’t discovered all the answers yet. Somehow, ID folks feel religion has, which is ludicrous.

What I find amusing (in a very scary way) is how Ben says evolution was a “brilliant proposition,” but faults it for not describing how life began in the first place. Gee golly gee! I wonder if perhaps Ben expects the theory of relativity to explain how H. G. Wells came up with the idea for his novels? This is a perfect example of propaganda. All you need to do is distort the facts enough, make up false doubts, and you’re on your way to a successful undermining of truth.

May I finally point out, Ben, that while you deride Darwin’s evolutionary theory as being out of date (“[it] was a brilliant theory in the middle on the 19th century… it’s the 21st century, there are a lot of questions…”), the concept of a creator is even more out of date and even more full of questions. Nice try. “Stein? Stein? Stein?”

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The iPhone went on sale Friday in the UK and Germany. I’m so happy for the people in those countries.

I never did post my full impressions of my iPhone, but you can be assured it is now an irreplacable part of my gadget life, along with my 160GB iPod Classic, my Canon G9, and my 12" PowerBook G4.

(If one of those things seems older than the others to you, then your astutity is to be celebrated. My loved 5G iPod and my less-loved SD9000 were stolen at the last sales meeting, so I have brand-new devices to replace those. My little PowerBook, though still in perfect shape and wonderfully behaved, is too slow and old to suit my needs any more. However, Apple will be coming out with some new laptops soon, and I need to keep waiting to see what those are before I buy a replacement.)

I mentioned that Stephen Fry, known for his acting and wit, wrote at length about his iPhone and his own history of mobile communication devices. (See my own personal cell phone/PDA ownership survey.) In Stephens’ new tech column for The Guardian, he summarizes some of my own thoughts and feelings on the iPhone and the swirl of love and vitriol surrounding it. Do read it.

Happy Friday! Here’s something incredibly amusing to send you off into the wild, wild west of the weekend.

So I’ll tell you what I did…

I sold.

Now I am a couple steps away from happy, blissful freedom. Debt-free for the first time since college. Of course, I’m not poor, but it sure sounded good in the headline.

Please forgive me as I talk of finances. This may be considered uncouth, but I think it’s an interesting tale to tell.

I had a plan middle of last year: sell my Disney stock (gained through the employee stock purchase plan), and buy Apple stock. Take the money that was doing me no good, and put it into a stock that was doing very, very well. After a certain time, sell the stock and pay off all my remaining debts.

It was my Debt-Free Super Plan! (Long-time readers might remember me discussing this plan here and here.)

When I finally got all the arrangements in order—setting up an online account, selling the Disney stock, getting the funds deposited and transferred and ready to go—I’d missed an opportune time. Apple was at $40ish when I’d decided to do this, $50ish when I finally got all the tidbits in order, and then $60ish when I finally made the purchase. I was a bit peeved that I hadn’t acted sooner to get in on that $40ish price.

And now here I am. At the close of yesterday, Apple was above $186. Incredible. I have been patient, through some dips, only to be rewarded with this excellent gain. I had decided to be a little more patient, wait for the holiday season, when Apple is going to kick some retail ass. Then, in January, when the no-doubt very exciting Macworld announcements create some buzz, finally sell. Poof! Debt-free, including any taxes incurred from this experiment.

Then yesterday, Google announced their own mobile phone OS platform, Android, to be executed and sold with the help of 33 other companies. This, I reasoned, is the kind of thing that sets people to panicking. I’d lived through a few of these kinds of seemingly bad-for-Apple announcements, and Apple had bounced back. But why not get out now, when I was way ahead? This was Google. Google can do no wrong. Only Google can kill Apple! I pondered this last night, and came to a conclusion: Sell! Even if Apple takes a dive and then recovers, how much more is there to gain? Why not sell and be happy that I did so well?

I logged into my online trading account, perused the trade trigger options, and then sat. Pondered. Made sure I was doing the right thing. I set a trigger to go off if Apple sank below $183 today. Was this correct? Smart? Foolish? Whatever the answer would prove to be, I did it. Time to finish gambling with my money. I went to bed, assuming by this morning that I’d have no more Apple stock to my name.

My trigger never took. This morning, Aplpe was up almost a dollar. Then as the day came to a close, I watched my Dashboard widget in wonder until, by the close of the trading day, Apple ended up at almost $192. Impossible! Amazing! What happened?

The Google announcement, once analyzed, is of no consequence. As some guy named Steven Frank says, he’s “never seen so much hot air.” The press today has, in fact, been fairly unanimous: This is a nothing announcement from Google. Nothing is coming. Sure, Google will be releasing an SDK for their new open mobile OS, but no products are due until late next year, and there’s no promise that such products will even ship by then. Whereas Apple has, today, a shipping product that is popular, revolutionary, beloved, and bound to be even better by the time anything comes out of the Android camp.

Read that Steven Frank post, linked above. He’s exactly right. “A 34-company committee couldn’t create a successful ham sandwich, much less a mobile application suite.” Even though I thought last night that Android might be Apple’s Nikon, I thought the touchy markets might not see it that way. Competition is bad for success in some eyes. But this is Apple, and I think people are learning that that means something. Apple can weather competition. It has a strong foothold in the minds of people who love things that just work and look good while doing it. Vaporware from Google can’t challenge Apple. Only later, if or when Android-based product ships, can we judge what might happen.

Tonight I will ponder this: Shall I return to my plan of waiting for the holidays? Or shall I take today’s boost and sell? Is it worth it to me to have some fun finding out how high Apple can go? Or would I be better off on the sidelines, enjoying Apples success while being free of the burden of debt in my own life?

Oh, what will I do?

Here’s a post from one of my favorite Apple-biased sites, Daring Fireball: “Apple Needs a Nikon.” John Gruber starts off by quoting Stephen Fry, a fantastic fellow with the writing skills of a really good guy with good writing skills (much like myself, if I do myself say so!), and a fellow who wrote a long, glowing post about his iPhone. Then John goes on a bit about design, bandying ideas I can’t agree with more.

I suppose what’s amazing is that Apple has done such wonderful work without any competition whatsoever. The new OS is, mostly, a marvel, and this without having anyone else define what a great OS should be. Microsoft certainly is nowhere near Apple when it comes to either OSs or design, though they would like to have you think they are. On the hardware front, Apple has zero design competition. Even though Gateway and Dell have stirred a tad, their efforts are marginal at best.

Though without competition, Apple does not design in a vacuum. It designs in the world as a whole. Its influences do not come strictly from other businesses relevant to itself, but from any good design anywhere. The shapes and colors and materials Apple has used, from the bondi-blue iMac of 1998 to the glass and aluminum iMac of today, are lovely and intriguing and different. That is good design no matter what it is you’re making.

Attention to quality, too, is an element of Apple’s successful design, as it is with any quality product from any realm. When you pick up an iPod, it’s built like nothing else, and it feels as good as its looks suggest. Pick up a lovely-looking Harman/Kardon TC 30, and the fit and finish, the button-feel, the cheapness of materials, and the lousy UI reveal what a poorly-thought-out product it really is. I have enjoyed owning a TC 30, but it is not a pleasure to use. Every iPod and Mac I have owned has been a pleasure to use.

So I have to wonder, thanks to John’s post: What if Apple did have a Nikon? Would we see even more marvelous baubles of technology than we have thus far? How much farther down the path of design, quality, and reliability can Apple go with some pushing?

Spacey Leopard

No, sorry to mislead you in the headline… I’m not writing one. It’s already been done for me by someone who actually can write a big, detailed, geek-targeted Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard review.

Where is it? It’s over there, at Ars Technica. It’s by John Siracusa.

I started reading Ars Technica back when Mac OS X 10.4 came out and John had just as intricate a tale to weave about Tiger’s inner workings. I fell in love with the idea that there were people out there that would not only delve so deeply into a Mac OS review, but that there were others out there who would want to read it enough that a publication would have their reporter write it in the first place. Chicken and egg? No. Chegg! Just chegg. It all happens at once.

I am sitting here at work still, re-installing Leopard on my lowly little 12″ PowerBook. My first install, the easy upgrade option, didn’t seem to take too well. So I’m trying an archive and install now. My 12″ PB is, quite literally, the oldest machine upon which Leopard will install. It’s an 867MHz G4. That’s the bottom, friends!

So far, I’ve loved using Leopard on my work machine. The OS is a thing of beauty! A delight! And yet, as is well documented on the Web, some of the new UI design features are… quirky. Okay, okay… they’re downright stupid. The translucent menu bar and drop-down menus? Ridiculous! Makes everything muddy and harder to see at a glance. The 3-D Dock? Unlike some others out there, I’m okay with it, but I agree with them entirely that its angle and shadow-casting are stupid. Destroys many a well-designed icon. Tell me, if the Dock is supposed to be 3-D, why is the dotted divider line on the right not in proper perspective? It drives me nutty! Luckily, there’s a fix for the Dock if you can type a little Terminal. (It looks like this. Much nicer, I think.)

If you dig knowing the nitty-gritty of how the Mac works, read the review. It’s long, long, long… it took me most of my jury duty day to read it on my iPhone (iPhone! Yum!), but you can do it. You’ll also see why Microsoft has no clue what it’s doing. Apple is setting itself up for brilliance and the future of its platform, when all Microsoft can do is bloat its way about the OS stage like a pungent, rotting whale corpse.

BREAKING NEWS! My little PowerBook is so old, it can not handle the fancy translucency in 10.5. My menu bar and drop-down menus are blissfully free of translucent underclutter! Hooray for my PowerBook!

BREAKINGER NEWS! I take it back… My PB does have some translucency, but it is much less obvious, and it does not have the blur that my faster work machine has. Interesting…

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Remember this one post? Linking to funny songs that only designers would appreciate? (Well, actually, a few of the songs are general office comedy, so normal people like yourself would enjoy them, too.) One of the songs on that page, which you should have gone to visit by now, is “Make the Logo Bigger.”

Hold on to your hats! Here comes Make My Logo Bigger Cream! Be sure to watch the whole infomercial. It’s wonderful.

Oh, and I did call that toll-free number. It’s for Agency Fusion, who created the Make My Logo Bigger Cream site.