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Thursday, April 08 | The Bleat.

Sunny day; that’s nice. Stupid day, since I forgot to post the links, but heck: makes for a linky Thursday. I’ve been busy – wife’s birthday, which meant I had to get the cake she insisted she didn’t want; had to wrap the presents, get the flowers, arrange the tableau, make the child draw a card. Karate, dinner cooking, two columns to write, blogging, and an insane scanning project. Well, I only do that between the hours of 8:15 and 9:00, but it’s one of those completist anal-retentive things that hits me sometimes. I’m sure you’ve been there: you look at your website about matchbooks, look at your shoeboxes full of matchbooks, and say “how do I know I’ve scanned them all?”

For the most part, I have; the First Rule of Accumulation now states that everything that enters the studio must be scanned immediately, and tagged. But. I have a folder named MATCHES RAW with 27 files, and each file has ten matchbooks, and each matchbook has 20 matches, and how many were going to St. Ives? The only way to know what I have would be to isolate each matchbook, save it, name it, tag it, and file it. Then it gets worse: I have to create a text database so I know what I have, and whether I’ve used it.

The bad news: at present, I only have enough matches to keep the site going – with weekly updates – through early 2015. But I’ll probably get a few more between now and then. The good news: this is all shaping up into a nifty book, one I’d like to sell by unusual channels, like lulu, on the iPad.

Which means rescanning some matches for higher resolution. Sigh.

The internet has made our hobbies into second jobs. And that’s good! Right? Well, no, if you consider that any iPad book I create would not allow you to add comments, and we all know comments are the Lifeblood of the Internet. Before I go on, let me say I love our comments here; it’s nice to have Beatniks going back and forth about the froth and spume I provide, and I enjoy it. But comments – and the interactivity they represent – are not necessarily the greatest thing about the internet. Which brings me to Jeff Jarvis’s public renunciation of the iPad.

He’s taking it back, because it’s shallow and vapid.

First, in its hardware design, it does not include a camera — the easiest and in some ways most democratic means of creation (you don’t have to write well) — even though its smaller cousin, the iPhone, has one.

The next version will probably have one. In the meantime, there’s this. Which adds a camera. So.

Equally important, it does not include a simple USB port, which means that I can’t bring in and take out content easily. If I want to edit a document in Apple’s Pages, I have to go through many hoops of moving and snycing and emailing or using Apple’s own services. Cloud? I see no cloud, just Apple’s blue skies.

I assume he means editing a document created on another machine? Here’s the old way: put it on a thumb drive, move it to the other computer, or move it to a remote disk, and take it off when you’re on the other computer, or some other form of transfer that involves dragging the file to one icon representing a drive, then retrieving it from that icon on another machine.

Moving a Pages file from a computer to an iPad can be done like this: From the share menu, choose send via email. The email program pops up with the email already prepared and addressed to you. Click send. Voila. One hoop. On the iPad, click mail, tap the email, tap the document, it loads. More hoops, but hardly the sort you see on the arm of a circus performer.


So I see the iPad as a Bizarro Trojan Horse. Instead of importing soldiers into the kingdom to break down its walls, in this horse, we, the people, are stuffed inside and wheeled into the old walls; the gate is shut and we’re welcomed back into the kingdom of controlling media that we left almost a generation ago.

What does he mean by “controlling,” exactly? In another post about the subject of control and content, he says:

We in media have a bad habit of viewing the world in our image. . . We in media also think we get to define what content is: It’s what we make.

Google, for one, doesn’t define content that way. It sees content everywhere, in everyone’s words and actions and it gains signals, knowledge, and value from that. We in media are blind to that value because we can’t see the content in that.

I love Jeff – he’s a brilliant guy, and he gets the future; we had lunch once and he’s just a delight to talk to. But sometimes I suspect Jeff would applaud a Google initiative to hook up motion-capture devices to people so they can create a database of unusual sexual positions, which would then tie into search requests and serve up ads for pain-relieving cream. More:


So when I complain about the iPad hampering our ability to create content, I mean that it makes it harder to share links and thoughts and images when I wish it had made it easier. And the apps media companies are making also make it hard to share our views and link into or out of their closed worlds. When they do that, they are shutting themselves off from the content people create every day and the value it holds.

There is content everywhere. You just have to be able to see it. And respect it.

It’s all content, but that’s like saying a lawn is made of grass: true, but not a reason to want to examine every single blade. I respect it when it’s worth it. Comments on some blogs can be amusing and enlightening; on political subjects 95% of the conversation is a nasty bash-session rehashing everything you know. On sites devoted to TV shows, you can get a barnburner, a gen-u-wine festival of greatness, because everyone’s sharing a common object of interest and affection. On tech sites, where people also share a common object of interest and affection – tech, computers, gadgets – most the conversation is useless as a source of information, mildly useful as a source of amusement.

In the end, what does the content add up to? Are we better off with a billion billion bytes that tell us who was the Foursquare mayor of the bathroom at McDonald’s on 34th street AND liked Avatar BUT hates Farmville ALTHOUGH he downloaded “Green Acres” from the Usenet WHILE searching for “left-handed midgets” on Bing? I know it’s not a better-off / worse-off argument, because there’s really nothing about it that makes us worse, and nothing that makes us “better” in any meaningful sense. Having access to more streams of information does not necessarily make us better informed. I did a few searches on the ship I took last month, and a high percentage where complaints and criticisms. They were all wrong. Look at Netflix: the ratings, assembled by people with widely disparate tastes and critical abilities, all end up as three stars, just as most movies on imdb seem to be a 6.2. the more voices, the more the consensus gets squashed into a useless flabby muddle. Oh, it’s interesting that Netflix can tell me that a particular comment about a movie was made by someone whose preference are 62% similar to mine, but A) I know that’s based on my own haphazard grading of movies I’ve watched, which I do maybe 25% of the time, because – here’s another admission of slovenly net behavior – it’s really not important to me to build a personal critical database in Netflix so they can cross-match me with guys who have Nosferatu icons and also liked the movie about dragons in post-apocalyptic England. And B), I don’t care.

I love the potential for hyperconnectedness more than the reality, to be honest. Nice tools, but not something I use – when I see a button that says “email this story to a friend!” I usually think now why in God’s name would I want to do that? He’s busy. I’ve never done it.


Yes, the iPad has limitations as a “tool of creation,” but I write on it, and find I’m writing on it a lot. Mostly I use it to read, and it’s far superior to reading on a laptop. Without question. But it’s a step backwards, because it’s closed. You can’t email links or leave comments.

True, but here’s the secret: it has a “web browser.“ You can use this “browser” to make comments or email links. Really.

Nothing with a web browser is closed. Yes, the news apps are closed, and I suppose this is a step backwards to the bad old days when you could shout at a magazine and your remarks would not instantly be appended to the article for all to see, but I don’t care. This may make me a bad web citizen, but I have to say it: for the majority of websites, I don’t care what other people are saying, and it’s almost a relief to read something in a news app that doesn’t have comments at the end. It’s like reading in a quiet room by yourself.

Now and then that’s nice.

If I want the loud commons, I can go on the web. On the same device.

So what’s the problem? If I put a book on the iPad, am I obligated to include space for people to trash it right in the book? If I publish a book in paper form, am I obligated to include pencil, paper, and stamped envelopes so people can mail around some quotes or write me a letter of complaint? Books are closed apps, and once they’re anything but they don’t belong to the author anymore. Not to say someone can’t parody, or photocopy and remix, or do anything to add “content” to the original item, but there’s no obligation for the content provider to make this easy. Or even encourage it. Mahler is “content,” and no one suggests he should have left the last few moments of the 9th symphony unfinished so people could add their thoughts on how it should end.

1. luv the fadeout but chimes would have been nice

2. OMG I hated this BORING why do liberals hate tonic chords?

3. typical Jewish garbage so he’s sad 2b dying well they are dying in gaza

Fanboy Applehead nonsense? Add your thoughts in the comments! But seriously: It’s the portability, depth of available material, multiple media forms (video, music, words), and speed of the device I love. I had to sit in a dojo for an hour tonight, and I wrote one article on the machine and read six others. I didn’t do anything I wouldn’t have done with a laptop, I just did it better. Without three windows open, I concentrated on what I was doing – which sounds like a pathetic excuse defending the lack of multitasking, but I’ve come to enjoy the speed bump the machine places on my attention span; I spend most of the day skittering back and forth between two monitors with multiple open windows, and the ability to do one thing, and one thing only is pleasant, for a change. On computers, the lure of the other thing is always intruding on your consumption of the present thing.

Oh, and about that content creation? Call up Google on a laptop, rub your finger around the screen, and do this.

BleatPlus is up for members; Black and White World is HERE. With an old friend!


100 Responses to Thursday, April 08

  1. browniejr says:

    @bgbear: re- backstabbing woman who knows nothing, but is an expert on EVERYTHING: I knew one of these women, and it was in the early ’80s when I first met her. Absolute poison to your soul. She ended up sleeping with the boss to get ahead. I have worked with other women who were technically adept and knew their stuff- and they REALLY hated her. These other women were a joy to work with.

    And, like you, I still hate her and hope she dies in a fire.

  2. browniejr says:

    By the way, the boss she slept with was also a psychopath. I hate him still, and hope he is torn to shreds by sharks.

    Usually I am easy going and try to work well with everyone. Some people test your faith in humanity, however.

  3. No matter how much we perfect ourselves and society, I am convinced that 5 -10 percent of the population will still be psychopathic to one degree or another and we will always have need for good old fashion punishment.

    Fiery tanks of sharks should be sufficient.

  4. Mr_Hat says:

    “No matter how much we perfect ourselves and society, I am convinced that 5 -10 percent of the population will still be psychopathic to one degree or another” Unfortunately they seem to be dominate Congress and the infotainment business.

  5. Sigivald says:

    “No USB port. No Camera. Lame.”

    Oh, the referential funny.

    (Seriously, a USB port? Why the obsession, people?

    It has one, you know. That dock connector? It’s a USB port (among other things). The iPad, like the iPod and iPhone, comes with a plug with a USB A connector on the other end.

    If you want a USB A Female connector to plug into, they sell an adapter, to plug your camera into. If you really want it.

    Why, again, exactly?

    That’s the question people never seem to answer. They all demand “a USB port!”, but none of them add “for task X”.)

  6. Charlie Young says:

    Bleat Plus still showing content for 3/31 in the 4/7 link.

  7. JeffdeCal says:

    I just want my Touch to run PowerPoint. But then, everyone who presents more than occasionally wants that. Are you listening, Steve?

    A USB port (and, sigh, I camera, too) on the second-generation Pad is an inevitability, as consumers tell the designers what they got right and what they got wrong. Expect the Pad to move a step closer to a laptop-without-a-lid. There has to be a bit more interconnectivity (I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before: hmm).

  8. hpoulter says:

    That would be:

    frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ heads.

    [finger twiddle]

  9. or seabass with bad attitude.

  10. Apple v Windows, again?

    Apple products, on the majority, are very elegant.
    Microsoft OS / tools generally work (currently, anyways), and are the standard everyone knows, especially in a business environment.

    I’ve developed database applications for both Windows and Macs (the windows apps were quicker and less buggy for me, but YMMV). Since I build more Windows boxes, and use more of them, I’m generally faster in that OS.

    …….. As I type this from my Linux notebook, which is the most trouble free notebook I’ve ever used.

    Shields up.

  11. Charlie Young says:

    The whole point of the iPad, as I see it, is to give you access to information when you want it and where you want it. It isn’t a notebook replacement like those ultra-portable and under powered netbooks. It also isn’t a place for you to store your digital life. The utility of USB or a camera on this device is questionable. Basically, the way it was designed with the limited amount of capacity is to have snippets of your digital life available to you. You just need to pick what you want to bring along and load it on the device. An internet connection will get you most of what you want that you haven’t downloaded. If you want something that does more, I’m sure a few months down the road, there will be something to make you drool.

  12. hpoulter says:

    Charlie Young:
    April 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm
    Bleat Plus still showing content for 3/31 in the 4/7 link.

    Don’t expect the hyper-busy Mr L to catch it soon. As noted above, edit the URL, changing 8.html to 9.html

    It is a short but strange one.

  13. swschrad says:

    @James S: and a [disk$1]:sys$system to you, too.

  14. browniejr says:

    @juanito- John Davey: “Shields up.” – Ain’t no shields in the Star Wars Universe! You must be one of them “Star Trek” geeks!

    (full disclosure: just wanted to get another nerd/ internet argument out there on the table, so we can all get it out of our systems. I have no dog in the Star Trek/ Star Wars hunt.) I am partial to Mac OS, but have also used Windows- as long as the tool works, use it.)

    btw- how come the Princess’s ship in The Phantom Menace has shields, but then no other ship after that does? Did they get stupid as time went forward? (I have purged the rest of Ep. 1-3 from memory, so if there were other ships with shields, I apologize in advance…)

  15. Brian Lutz says:

    My Dad actually spent quite a few years as a DEC Field Service (Circus) Engineer while I was growing up, and always had all sorts of interesting DEC hardware (Vaxen and otherwise) coming into the house at various times. Back when I was in grade school I actually wrote some of my reports by dialing into a Vax at the local DEC office and typing them up in WPS (on a real VT102 even.) Never could quite wrap my head around VMS though… Seriously, it’s an OS that manages to make command-line Unix look user-friendly in comparison.

  16. DensityDuck says:

    Dude, first movie. “Switch your deflectors on, double front!”

    Of course, LucasArts added shields to all kinds of things in the “X-Wing” games. But then, as we’ve learned, if George Lucas didn’t write it then it Isn’t Part Of The Star Wars Canon, and he’ll happily ignore it if it suits him. (Just ask Karen Traviss.)

  17. swschrad says:

    @Brian Lutz: nah, VMS was the most orthagonal OS ever. every command prepared you to understand every other one. there were a couple of OS functions that rather seemed silly, but they worked out.

    unix is also misunderstood. it’s very user-friendly.. but as the saying goes, it is somewhat particular about who its friends are.

  18. browniejr says:

    @DensityDuck- point taken. However, what good are shields/ deflectors that DON’T prevent the energy blasts from getting through/ causing damage? (lots of ships got blasted in the real first movie…)

  19. Jerry Ray says:

    The shields can only absorb so much energy before stuff starts getting through, of course. They recharge, but can be overwhelmed by sustained or very powerful fire.

    Kicking all Traviss’ Mandalorian porn out of canon (with the Clone Wars cartoon, of all things) didn’t really bother me – I found most of her stuff tiresome, and making up languages and stuff getting a bit too close to Star Trek fanwankery for my tastes. What they’ve replaced it with, admittedly, isn’t very interesting.

  20. browniejr:
    April 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    @juanito- John Davey: “Shields up.” – Ain’t no shields in the Star Wars Universe! You must be one of them “Star Trek” geeks!

    Alas, I’m something of a heretic. I have a foot in both worlds Star Trek & Star Wars. Star Trek was an important foundation piece for my from about the First Grade through the Fourth Grade. Yes, I have the original Star Fleet Technical Manual and The Star Trek Concordance. My best friend and I named our own ships, and assigned Hull Registry numbers to them, based on what was available from those two books (scripture).

    Star Wars came out when I was 10, and George Lucas went to school with my older cousin in Modesto, so, hellllllooo wheelhouse. I was, of course, thrilled that Star Trek The Motion Picture would be released, and disappointed in the final product. The alternating quality of the even/odd releases made things a bit better.

    And the Millennium Falcon had rear deflectors as noted in Episode IV A New Hope:

    Han Solo: “We’re losing a deflector shield,”

  21. WalterPeck says:

    This just in: Some people like Apple products and some do not.

  22. Stjohnsmythe says:

    @James S, Brian Lutz, swschrad, et al:

    VMS was my entr?e into the wonderful world of IT lo these 20 years ago. It was easy to learn, easy to script, but I always wondered about the excessive use of dollar signs. Ran a 6xxx cluster using a DECWindows console, and had the pleasure of converting an old 8550 into a PC file server using (*shudder*) Pathworks. I was fortunate to work in an ecumenical environment where Macs and PCs were equally spread throughout the campus, the unifier being the aforementioned Pathworks. It was a fun time to be a DEChead with the birth of RISC computing and the Alpha chip. Pity to see Digital go by the wayside.

  23. Teresa says:

    Um… it’s way easier to share files even than using email and it can be done between your PC, Mac, and iPad – it’s called Dropbox. You can get 2GB storage for free or pay for more. It works beautifully and all you need is an internet connection. AND – for people who hate Mobile Me – it is not an Apple product.

    So much neater and far far less hassle than thumb drives. I love it.

  24. browniejr says:

    @Teresa: Agree- Dropbox is a great service that helps to make all your data accessible wherever you are/ as long as you have a connection. Another great one for capturing data like web pages is Evernote. It is also free/ you can pay for additional capacity if you need to.

  25. swschrad says:

    twigged by a Tweet… if you’re wondering what that Murrow nonsense was all about…

    region 4 online news feature Edward R. Murrow Award was won by some wack at the Strib whose diligent investigative efforts over many months revealed… FLU. danm, I’m glad I read the Strib.

    Video Feature Reporting
    Star Tribune – Minneapolis, MN
    Flu me once, shame on you
    Watch the winning entry


    slashdotting the RTNDA starts in 5, 4, 3……..

  26. browniejr says:

    @juanito John Davey: I had to check myself after my first post and to be fair to the whole shields/deflectors in Star Wars question, there is also a “Shield Generator” on Endor that has to be knocked out in Return of the Jedi in order to destroy the 2nd Death Star….

    I have the original Star Fleet Technical Manual and the Enterprise Blueprints, but not the Concordance. Never named a ship or joined any clubs. I would watch the Star Trek reruns after school. I was in High School when Star Wars came out, and since I lived in Modesto it was almost a requirement to become a fan due to local hero George Lucas.

  27. swschrad says:

    @Stjohnsmythe: if you didn’t have an educational license, the dollar signs were easy to figure out ;)

    PathWorks was basically Microsoft networking and AppleTalk after DEC got done with them. they all had to be turned into DEC devices, as did ciscoSystems routers. it was fun to put DEC bridging on a port and see it change from a cisco mac address to a DEC one.

    yes, n00bs, the RFP for MAC addresses specifies they can be modified in software. you had to do it, for DECnet only talked to DEC MAC addresses. if your network card in the 11/782 blew out, for instance, and took the PROM chip with it, you had to enter the new MAC address into the Ethernet start script, and save a backup copy for when the next VMS upgrade or patch fiddled the script.

  28. hpoulter says:

    April 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm
    This just in: Some people like Apple products and some do not

    In other news…Fire Hot, Water Wet! Film at 11.

    By the way, Walter – is it true you have no …..?

  29. swschrad says:

    that is, if you wanted to have the machine rejoin the VAXcluster. if you didn’t care to correctly network that machine again, including all public, global, and local references to resources, you didn’t have to software-spec the same MAC you once had.

    else once your system came up and asked to join the cluster, CCS looked at the bogus address paired with a known machine, and sent the kill command. yes, a true kill command, equivalent to “eff you, D I E !!!!!!!!!!. upon which the newly carded machine immediately rebooted.

    much fun ensued, I can attest.

  30. JamesS says:

    Two more DEC stories and then I’ll stop:

    Getting help with VMS was a matter of typing “help” at the prompt. A plethora of commands appeared, for which one could get help for by typing “help [command.” The first time I sat down at a UNIX box I typed “dir,” which got me nothin’, and then I typed “help” which nearly exploded the box. A helpful coworker explained that “ls” listed the directory and “man” got you to help pages (HA!). I instantly realized that the inmates had taken over the asylum.

    Second story: I used to work at the Defense Mapping Agency (now called the National Geospacial Intelligence Agency), and in the early ’90s we were implementing a digital mapping extraction system to make maps and charts for the US DoD. They were based on Mini VAXen with embedded Motorola 68000 chips, and the cartographers got used to delineating a 15,000 vertex feature (a lake or city boundary, for example), hitting the GO button and then taking a smoke break.

    In the late ’90s the system was upgraded to use the new Alpha chip instead of the old Motorola chips, and after the systems were redelivered the cartos were chagrined to learn that now one would hit the GO button and the feature would save in about fifteen seconds.

    That Alpha was a nice chip. Too bad that Digital didn’t make it.

  31. rivlax says:

    My favorite newspaper movie of all time: “Call Northside 777.” Jimmy Stewart at his best as the idealistic reporter, Lee J. Cobb as the salty editor, Richard Conte as the poor railroaded con. Great movie.

  32. hpoulter says:

    VMS was nice. Too bad you couldn’t do much with it (and believe me, I tried).

    Old-school UNIX was a nightmare to me. The adepts were all guys who looked like a slightly healthier version of Stephen Hawking, and they had perfect recall of thousands of command-line “switches”.

    On the other hand, the standard install of UNIX came with Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork (pre-Infocom version). Move the rug!

  33. swschrad says:

    @hpoulter: what couldn’t you do? Mobil crunched all their seismological data on VAXen, for instance. SLAC ran their linear accelerator on an 11/785 using a homebrew DMA card… way past the time support existed for the beast, in fact.

    didn’t take all that much fiddling around with functions to break down a disk stripe, and direct all new user storage to the correct disk, based on the amount of usage of first letter in the last name. taking out a VMS striped disk is generally considered to be the devil’s own work, and jealously guarded.

    you had to go to X and display terminals to do anything really useful in graphics. but on miniVAXen, with a color screen, you already had your display terminal ;)

  34. RPD says:

    Man, I was taught to look down on VMS and consider DecVAXcluster to be a swear word. Our university environment was VM/CMS. Our geeks were all IBM bigots and Virtual Machine was our savior. Heh.

  35. Mikey NTH says:

    All of this Star Trek v Star Wars, and I think I am going to be the first to bring up Traveller.

    Go, Third Imperium! Get the Zhodani!

  36. JamesS says:

    OK, ONE more DEC story and I’m done.

    That data extraction system at the Defense Mapping Agency? It ran on Ada. Three hundred simultaneous threads going on at once inside that puppy. The General Dynamics contractors called DEC once for help with the compiler, and when the GD guys told the DEC guys what they were doing to their compiler the DEC guys said “You can’t do that!”

    Oh yes they could. Awesome program.

    Ada on a VAX under VMS. Top that somebody.

  37. Stjohnsmythe says:

    Wow, we’ve got three holy wars going on here: Mac vs. Windows, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Unix vs. VMS.

    I’m reminded of an old Dilbert strip: http://tinyurl.com/ycnsb75

  38. I liked /this/ site better before comments. You’ve gotten complacent, man. You sold out.

  39. Tacobob says:

    Meh. It’s typical Apple. Overpriced and under-featured.

  40. Tom in Clareville says:

    Hey Dillweed:

    As much as I hate to say it, but your BleatPlus is directing me back to doughnutville.

  41. Stewart says:

    In Black & White World, there’s something missing from the end of the second full paragraph: “They’re all unrealistic – but this one is so serious and self-important you want to ”

    What do I want to? Inquiring minds, or at least one, wants to know.

  42. granular says:

    Lileks, you are under the spell of the Jobs distortion field, big time. Single tasking is now a feature? Connectivity is now an unnecessary frill? Consumer feedback is now an annoying cacophony of useless opinion? Are you sure a colour screen is necesssary, when grey scales would be so much less intrusive? And shouldn’t that resolution be toned down a bit, with all those pixels cluttering up the screen?

    Your Apple worship has entered a dangerous new phase of denial.

  43. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – doctor who-o-o-o…. ‘ey! doctor who… doctor who-o-o-o… ‘ey! the tardis! doctor who-o-o-o… ‘ey! doctor who… doctor who…


  44. ancient hacker says:

    Both VMS and Unix are quirk-full to the max. It’s kinda hard to say which one leads to more hair-pulling.

    I’d give VMS the edge as the help was VERY helpful, and logically arranged, totally unlike Unix help.

    The FORTRAN and Pascal compilers on VMS were extremely slick, Unix compilers have yet to catch up.

    VMS was kinda heavy on the real dollars of cost and lots of dollar-signs in the coding too.

    It’s hard to explain to the youngguns how it was a tremendous deal to be able to buy a 1 MIPS computer the size of three fridges for only $120,000. And that you could compile a 3,000 line program in two seconds, versus nowdays the same program takes ten times as long, on a computer that is 3,000 times faster.

  45. wendy gunther says:


    “The adepts were all guys who looked like a slightly healthier version of Stephen Hawking”…

    If our genial host had written that, I’d be one of 15 people exclaiming in awe how insightful and funny it is.

    As it is, I’m alone.

  46. swschrad says:

    @ancient hacker: ever use the common feature? it was a back door between all the compilers, assembler, memory in VMS.

    do please type the area the same between all the languages, or you will have to convert in your head between many different wormholes trying to debug.

    that stack of 74S TTL with a few little pieces of magic array glue did some very curious things. of course, you did need 40 amps of three-phase power, and 60 more of Liebert cooling, and another 15 amps per disk drive to do it….

  47. Bill says:

    When I’ve used MS products it’s been kicking and screaming. I’ll use them for the one task I have to and then it’s gone forever. I don’t own a single one, thanks in large part to OpenOffice and Apple’s iWork apps. There’s nothing I can’t do between the two.

    I’ve got the best of both worlds in Mac OS X, a beautiful GUI and UNIX underneath. Mac OS X is my fun OS, Solaris for when I’ve got real work to do and need systems to just STAY up until they’re replaced. Gotta love machines with uptimes in years as opposed to the daily reboot kick in the teeth most versions of Windows require.

    As far as the iPad goes, the press has reached a point where they believe every product is for EVERYONE, and that’s never been true but they want to make it true. The iPhone isn’t great for people who want a hard keyboard and who want Crackberry-style push email. The iPad isn’t great for people who need the functionality of an actual laptop. And so on.

    But the iPhone works beautifully as a smart phone for most, better than any phone I’ve ever used. Its syncing with iTunes is EXACTLY what I want from it.

    The iPad is the perfect antidote to the netbook craze. A smallish Internet DEVICE for people who aren’t writing papers, who don’t want to have to install 4,136 operating system and plug-in updates and just want something with a larger screen than an iPhone.

    In a very real way, it’s the perfect device for those who just want to check their email and surf the web, and nothing more. Great for the parents or grandparents who want to be online but who would be calling you daily asking whether they needed to install Security Update 333321 or Microsoft Authentic Windows Verification v17.

    As far as the ports go, I’ve got to admit that Apple has been ahead of the curve, often TOO far ahead, for years. I complained and moaned when they got rid of the floppy drive and bought an external which I’ve used about 20x over ten years. I complained when they dropped SCSI but have never needed to buy another SCSI device since then. No optical drive on the MacBook Air? Still torn on that one.

    No USB ports on the iPad for I/O? Seems painful now, but I can’t imagine it’s too long before people laugh at the concept of plugging a physical device into your computer for “storage” when all the data is saved on a network storage device somewhere (“Lose ALL your data for ALL of your devices at ONCE!.”) Sort of like the way kids now laugh at the idea of having to purchase a round piece of shiny plastic encased in a plastic box to obtain music, and you have to buy lots of songs you don’t like to go with the one you do! (Ironic that many of those same kids are now feeding the rise of vinyl LPs, but that’s another story.)

    In short, Apples don’t work for everyone, and they’re not designed to.

    But if you need to do what they DO do, their products tend to do it better and more elegantly than anyone else’s.

    It’s like complaining that BMW or Porsche don’t make pickup trucks; that’s why there are companies that DO.

  48. Stjohnsmythe says:


    Not on Twitter, but in response to your “140 Or Less” entry about dropping the iPad, we give you… iMaxi:


  49. NerveBag says:

    Oh, good lord… another overpriced, under-featured, user-raping piece of dreck from the evil empire, and James is ALL OVER IT. C’mon, man. I love your site. I’ve been reading it religiously (a term that should easily hit home in the 20-square-inch, Apple-worship region of your frontal lobe) for the last five or six years. You’re creative, insightful, funny and a good arbiter of what’s worthy in the world of nostalgia. Your motel postcards are my favorite, and I’ve bought all of your books — well, the foods, desecrations, mommy knows worst ones, anyway. But this Apple fetish is very unbecoming. NO ONE — I repeat — NO ONE needs an iPad. Tablets, in general, are pretty useless, but Apple’s “We’ve revolutionized computing” take on something that’s been around for a while is unconscionable, overblown and ridiculous. Why… WHY!… do people keep paying for products that don’t have replaceable batteries and lack basic functionality that numerous other products provide? Nikes don’t make you run faster. Ferraris don’t make you more attractive to women. Rolexes don’t make you more you more successful. And i-ANYTHINGS don’t make you more “cool.” I know you’re better than this. You’re an iconoclast in so many ways. Don’t keep drinking the Apple Kool-Aid. For Christ’s sake, that $500 could have been spent on SO many better consumer products. Please get past the Apple hype machine and use the logic and intelligence evolution gave you. Sheesh!


    Love the site.


  50. RJ says:


    Apparently you are more of an anti-fan than any Apply fanboy. The iPad is an interesting device.

    But if you don’t want it, I suggest you resist those ruffians who are holding guns on you to buy it.

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