Critical Section

Archive: December 7, 2003

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Back from lunch

Sunday,  12/07/03  10:52 AM

Okay, okay, I'm back from being out to lunch.  The hard drive in my laptop failed and I was down.  Not completely - I used my iMac for a few days, and therein lies a story, and a blog post to be made later - but to the point where I couldn't blog.  Anyway I'm back - thanks, Compaq, for the excellent next day support - so stay tuned for a blizzard of updates...

[ Later: I had some old posts trapped in my laptop, which I've posted on their original dates.  Please see below, especially our Chardonnay tasting... ]


Sunday,  12/07/03  02:50 PM

Okay, here's five days' worth of stuff, over 1,000 RSS items.  Whew!

Citizen Smash chronicles the pathetic attempts to put negative spin on the "Bush serves Thanksgiving dinner to the troops" story.  A lot of links.  Why do people find it so hard to believe the simplest explanation?

Looks like IBM won a legal battle against SCO, but the war continues.  SCO has been ordered to respond to IBM's request that they specify exactly what parts of Linux infringe their Unix copyrights.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with...

Econopundit on the Economics of the Alternate Universe.  Really good stuff.  The best way to analyze policy is to compare what's happening to what else might have happened, not to the way things were.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

CNet wonders VoIP's Best Week Ever?  It is now such a Thing that you don't even get points for saying so.  Big companies have the most to save, and are diving into VoIP in a big way.  And with services like Vonage, residential customers are, too.  I can easily see the day when there are no 'phone companies, and no cable companies, only ISPs.  They provide two-way data, and you run voice, video, whatever on top of it.  "Hey grandpa, tell us about analog phones again, would you?"

So, there are now more female medical school applicants than males.  Does this surprise me?  No.  [ via John Robb ]

Look Out design competition winner, Aurland, NorwayCheck out the Look Out Design Competition, from Norway.  Yeah, there is a plexiglas barrier at the tip.  Whew!  [ via Ottmar Liebert ]

Jubilee Church, Rome, ItalyAnd more architecture as poetry, the Jubilee Church, in Rome, designed by Richard Meier & Partners.  In addition to being beautiful, the concrete sails let in an amazing "play of light".

Andrew Anker contemplates Carrot Capitalism.  Gorillas use sticks, but startups can use carrots.  And also, your car as an open system?  Why not?

Jonathon Delacour is Overloaded.  Yeah, me too, especially after being mostly down for four days.  What would happen if you were on vacation for two weeks?  Would the earth keep spinning?  I guess it would, but it is hard to believe :)

Matt Haughey says Wait Until Next Year to Buy that Flat Panel TV.  Okay, I will.  I'm waiting for that 60" HDTV plasma for under $1,000.

Matt also notes the Dish Network's HD DVR.  "TiVo is being beaten (badly) to market by their competitors.  I know half of the posts on this site end with 'and this looks like another nail in TiVo's coffin' but it's increasingly looking to be the truth."

AlwaysOn agrees that HDTV Reaches Mainstream.  I think HDTV is still in the early adopter phase myself.  I live in a pretty geeky circle, and nobody I know has one - yet.

Kevin Laws suggests perhaps smartphones portend The End of the Laptop.  "First, people had computers at work.  Next, they got them at home.  Eventually, the work computer became a notebook, or one was added.  The next step is to eliminate the notebook and go back to a home pc with access via your smartphone."  Interesting point of view, but I still like the ability to blog upstairs while watching football.

Steve Gillmor thinks RSS will let Sun and Apple challenge Microsoft Office.  I don't know about that.  I think RSS is important, but...  Steve's argument is essentially that RSS levels the playing field.  Yeah, maybe, but I think Office still wins on a level playing field, the applications are that good.

Kazaa Lite K++ has been shutdown by Sharman Networks, owners of copyrights on Kazaa.  It continues to work, however, and many copies are available on the Kazaa network :)

Gizmodo is innundated with "connected media center" devices to review.  Poor babies!  This is the latest thing, and everyone has to make one.  Or so it seems.

Are you familiar with the story?  Yeah, these guys discovered that the iPod's one-year warranty is only valid for one year, and the unreplaceable battery actually cannot be replaced.  This irritated them, so they created the aforementioned (but unlinked) website, and ran around spray-painting Apple's iPod ad posters.  Anyway Daring Fireball suggests some nice alternative slogans.

So I was gone for a few days, and meanwhile blogshares died and then was resurrected.  So be it.  Personally I found it was an interesting concept, but it didn't suck me in.

This week's sign of the Apocalypse: Dodge plans Lingerie Bowl.  I am not making this up, but I wish I was.  Are you kidding me?  [ via Woundwort ]


I Switched! [temporarily]

Sunday,  12/07/03  11:00 PM

Windows LogoApple LogoSo, for the past four days my [Windows] laptop was down, and I switched to using my iMac as my "main" computer for a few days.  Overall the experience was pretty good.  I thought you might find a brief review interesting.

My "usual" Compaq laptop is a 2GHz P4 with 1.5GB RAM, running WinXP Pro.  My iMac is the original "lamp", with a 700MHz G4, 512MB RAM, running OSX 10.3 ("Panther").  The biggest hardware difference is screen resolution; my laptop has a 15" screen with 1400x1050 pixels, and when docked I have a 21" 1600x1200 external monitor.  The iMac's 15" screens has just 1024x768 pixels.  The lack of screen real estate was actually the biggest drawback to the [temporary] switch.

The real estate issue was greatly ameliorated by the single coolest thing about Panther - Exposé.  Hit F9, and poof, all your windows are visible simultaneously, making selecting the one you want trivial.  Hit F11, and poof, your desktop is visible.  I really loved Exposé, and miss it back on Windows.  Hopefully Microsoft will copy Apple on this one!

I have Office X on the Mac, and it's quite comparable to the Office XP I've grown to know and, er, like.  I'm a pretty experienced Mac user so the Mac-ish-ness of Office X didn't throw me; actually I liked it!  I had to use the online help every once in a while to figure stuff out (yeah, the Mac has one of those "clippy" pseudo-natural-language processors, too), but overall it was cool.

I use email a lot, and so I used Entourage a lot (the Mac equivalent of Outlook).  This worked fine, no problems.  I was able to setup my four email accounts in no time (taking care to leave messages on the server, so I could get them later on my PC), and poof, I was getting email.  In fact, I was getting spam!  So I found SpamSieve, a nice little Bayesian filter which integrates nicely with Entourage.  Seemed to work just about as well as Matador, the spam filter I use with Outlook.

Another thing I do a lot is surf, and so I used Safari (Apple's standard web browser).  I have to say, I really liked it a lot.  Unlike Mozilla (on either platform) Safari pretty much renders all pages exactly like IE on Windows, for better or worse.  I didn't encounter any sites which didn't work or looked funny.  And I really liked tabbed browsing.  This made a big difference since I had so little screen real estate.  On Windows I don't miss it, because I can space out a bunch of windows.

And of course I needed an RSS reader!  So I tried NetNewsWire, which is the most popular Mac client, but I didn't like it.  Your mileage may vary, but I found it was much clunkier than SharpReader.  So next I tried AmphetaDesk, but this didn't play nice with Panther.  Then I tried Shrook, and I liked it!  In some ways it is cooler than SharpReader - maybe because it is so Mac-ish.  Anyway that's the RSS reader to use, and once I had all my subscriptions entered I was off and reading.

The other thing I spend lots of time doing all day is coding (under Visual Studio), and this I could not do on the Mac.  Well, I could have installed VS under WinXP under Virtual PC, but I didn't.  So that part of my experience was incomplete.  I've messed around with Xcode a little but not enough to compare it, and anyway I don't have any "real" coding to do for Macs, so it wouldn't be a good test.

Oh, and what about performance?  Well, the Mac's specs were quite a bit worse than the PC's, but I really didn't notice any difference.  Programs launched quickly (especially Safari, which I launched a lot), the screen was responsive, network access was fast.  I was able to keep lots of stuff up and running without any degradation, despite having less memory.

Wrapping up?  It really was no big deal.  I was every bit as productive on the iMac as I was on Windows.  The one thing about Macs, you can pretty much figure out what to do because they're simpler.  Everything sort of seems to make sense.  If I'd have had a bigger screen, I might even have found the iMac to be better.


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?