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Archive: October 17, 2003

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Friday,  10/17/03  09:25 AM

world series logoNow you have to feel sorry for Boston fans, eh?  Great game last night, but the un-loveable Yankees triumphed in the end.  For me, Florida - New York is the least appealing matchup of all the original possibilities, I don't even know who to root for.  I guess I'll get more work done next week...

By the way, is it just me or is the ESPN website getting less and less usable?  Not only is it chock full of ads (including - arg! - pop-unders), but all the crap makes it very slow.  And the content is going downhill, too.  I always thought of ESPN as one of the really nice sites on the web, but I'm changing my mind...

[ Later: Dave Winer: Well, the Cubs lost and the Red Sox lost.  Why didn't we see that coming? ]

iTunes for WindowsSo - Hell Froze Over.  That's how Steve Jobs introduced Apple's iTunes for Windows yesterday, in his inimitable fashion.  Of course I immediately downloaded and installed it (I'm listening to Acoustic Alchemy in iTunes right now), and it looks and works exactly like the Mac version.  Interesting and nice.  In this CNet clip from the announcement Steve emphasizes "this is no baby version of iTunes, it is the best jukebox for Windows, and maybe the best Windows app ever".  No, he isn't given to hyperbole, is he?  So now virtually the entire desktop universe has a usable legal paid download alternative to file-sharing.  It will be interesting to watch the numbers.

Belkin iPod voice recorderIn addition to compatibility with Windows, new features for the iTunes Music Store include more songs, now up to 400,000, audio books, gift certificates, and celebrity playlists.  Nice.  There's also a little voice recorder add-on for iPods, and a media reader.

[ Later: Wow, just learned something new which was under-reported but potentially really important.  iTMS has an "allowance" feature, which let's parents give their kids money for buying music without giving them free-reign on the credit card.  I'm going to use this immediatelyExcellent! ]

Online coverage of this announcement has been heavy, as you might expect, and quite positive, with even stick-in-the-mud Salon proclaiming Steve Jobs leads Microsoft users to the promised land.

And for once, David Coursey makes a good point; Apple is still behind Windows as a "media hub", because they don't do [TV] video.  You have to believe that's going to change, right?

Meanwhile Matthew Fordahl reviews Napster 2.0, which is still in beta, and finds it "buggy".  Ouch.  I think they missed it by that much.

A Minnesota court has ruled Vonage is an "information service" rather than a "telecommunications service".  "Legal experts said the decision offers an early win for VoIP in what's sure to be a drawn-out legal battle with state regulators and local phone carriers worried about losing market share to a new brand of competitor."  Fascinating.

The BBC has a funny article which includes the top 10 data disasters.  #1 is "laptop shot in anger".  I haven't done that - yet - but I have done #6, "red wine spilt on laptop over dinner", and almost done #10, "laptop left on car roof as owner drives off".

Red Herring on DVRs for the Masses.  "Five years ago, if you had to pick the technology most likely to change the face of television, the hard disk drive would probably not have made your Top 10 list."  It would have made mine.  And the future trend: "In coming years, both Sony and Microsoft say they plan to make DVRs standard in their video game systems."  Kind of like BroadQ is doing now...

Sun continues to fade.  Yesterday they announced a net loss of $286M, on top of their 10th consecutive quarter with declining revenue.  They're rapidly becoming irrelevant - I debated whether it was worth even mentioning them in this post.

In Debbie Does Bittorrent, Tim Bray reports his experiments which this cool technology.  The bottom line, despite the cool technology, content is still king.

 

The Joy of Craftsmanship

Friday,  10/17/03  09:20 PM

Shimano dura ace cassetteThis morning I took my road bike to a local shop to have the derailleur adjusted.  (This is the thingie in the back that shifts gears.)  There was a young kid working there, clean cut, wearing a uniform, listening to Pearl Jam.  He said "nice bike" and after I explained my symptoms, "no problem".  Now I know adjusting a Shimano Dura Ace derailleur is not "no problem" (there are nine thin sprockets very close together, and if it isn't totally dialed in at least one of the gears will miss), but I figured he knew what he was doing.

Later on I picked up the bike.  The kid had decided to change the shift cable, and said everything was now okay.  So be it, the cable was a little worn.  Then I went for a ride.  Or rather, I tried to go for a ride.  The gears were messed up beyond belief.  Much worse than they had been.  Unrideable without damaging the chain and probably the cassette, too.  Sigh.

I took the bike back to the shop.  Instead of the kid, there was an old guy there in the back, kind of portly, wearing dirty clothes under a shop apron, listening to Mexican mariachi music.  I told my story.  He shook his head gently and put my bike in the stand.  Instead of looking at the alignment, he bent his head next to the gears and listened, while gently turning the adjustment screws.  After five minutes he was done.

I'd brought my shoes and helmet so I could take a test ride at the shop.  In the first ten seconds I knew the gears were dialed in perfectly.  Every one shifted with a sweet "click" followed by perfect silence.  That old guy had nailed it.

Kestrel road bikeI just love real craftsmanship.  It goes beyond mere doing things right, it extends into art.  It is a combination of skill and experience, driven by the desire to do a thing as well as it can be done.  This guy who could adjust a derailleur just by listening to it was a real craftsman.  When I went back to the shop to tell him how delighted I was, we both shared the joy of his work.

I'm really going to enjoy going for a ride tomorrow.

 
 

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