Monthly Archive for October, 2003

LCD Remote for iPod?

You know what would be cool? (in fact my best friend and I were just discussing this, this past weekend)

An LCD Remote for the iPod

We can all wish can’t we?

Text Drop-shadows using CSS

Chuq was bitching about Marc Canter’s whining about Paolo’s pointing to a post by Todd Dominey. I read Chuq’s post, and followed the trail through to Todd’s post about the text-shadow CSS2 attribute, and am pleased to announce I am using it on this here website.

If you’re using Safari 1.1, then you’ll notice the drop-shadows on the title of each post, as well as in the sidebar title’s and the banner at the top of this page… pretty cool, in my opinion.

It looks like this in the stylesheet:

text-shadow: dimgray 3px 3px 3px;

And that code produces this type of a title:

text-shadow

If you can’t see the drop shadow under my entry titles in your browser, you’re not using Safari 1.1, and for that I apologize… I wish your browser supported the CSS2 attribute properly. (If you can’t see the image of the drop-shadow above, then your browser doesn’t support PNG files, and I’m sorry for that too).

Panther has shipped

From:    [email protected]
Subject: Shipment notification for order # XXXXXXXXX
Date:    October 22, 2003 5:16:17 AM CDT
To:      John

Dear Apple Customer,

The following products shipped on 10/22/2003. Transit time will depend upon whether you have chosen standard or premium freight options. If your order is shipping standard freight, it should arrive within 2 - 5 business days of shipment.

Product #  Product Description                      Qty  Ext Price
__________ ________________________________________ ____ ________________
M9231LL/A  MAC OS X PANTHER 10.3 FULFIL/UTD-USA     1    129.00
_________________________________________________________________________
SHIPPINGA  OVERNIGHT SHIPPING CHARGE                1    12.00
_________________________________________________________________________

Woohoo! Panther is on it’s way. I wonder if I’ll get it on Thursday instead of Friday. That would be cool.

iTunes for Windows and the Experience

Now that everyone has commented on iTunes for Windows and Microsoft’s reactionary statements, I figured I’d take a stab at sharing my own comments.

The WSJ published an article [sub. req.] that talked about the iTunes profit margins:

Consider the economics of the iTunes store. Apple charges 99 cents per song that is downloaded by a consumer. Of that 99 cents, Apple pays the record label about 65 cents for licensing rights to the song, estimates Charlie Wolf, an analyst at brokerage firm Needham & Co. Other analysts come up with similar figures. In addition, Apple incurs costs such as credit-card fees, which typically amount to 25 cents a transaction (which can include several songs), plus 2% to 3% of the amount charged. The result: On average, Apple earns less than a dime for each song it sells from the store.

pespi and itunesApple has admitted that they don’t make money on the iTMS, and that the introduction of it on the Windows platform is really a “Trojan Horse” aimed at getting Windows users to buy iPods, and getting them to think about buying Macintosh computers in the future. I think that’s a coy ploy for Apple, and I’m happy to hear that they’re pursuing this course of action. And don’t underestimate the power of the AOL and Pepsi promotions that Apple has secured. Those should prove to be very lucrative promotions for Apple.

Now, for my comments on iTunes and iTunes for Windows (the experience):

I’ve used SoundJam, Audion and N2MP3 back in the day of MacOS 8 and 9 … they were good, but not great. I didn’t have a large hard-drive, and I didn’t enjoy having to work hard to organize my MP3s due to the fact that I had a small drive. I also didn’t play with Napster all that much when it was an easy way to trade music illegally (it was just too much of a hassle for me to keep up with). Lastly, I didn’t buy all that much music…

In the past year or two, things have changed. Apple really improved MacOS X and the iTunes software. I bought a used 5GB iPod a year and a half ago. I fell in love with iTunes and the iPod (my only complaint was the earphones). When the iTMS was launched, I tested it. I was impressed, but not sold on the idea, and still wasn’t buying much music.

Then, about three months ago, I bought a used 10GB iPod from a friend and sold my 5GB to another friend. I also bought a few individual songs and an album from the iTMS. I also finally told iTunes to “Keep my iTunes folder organized” and to “Copy files to iTune Music folder when adding to library”. And with that final step, I’ve been very satisfied with iTunes and my MP3 collection.

I also helped talk a friend of mine into replacing his old Archaos MP3 player with an iPod for Windows. I warned him that without iTunes on the PC using the iPod might not be as nice an experience as it was for me, but he quickly found EPH Pod and was happy enough with his iPod for Windows, but then I told him that iTunes for Windows was coming out by the end of the year.

Last week, when Apple announced iTunes for Windows, he almost took half a day off to go home to play with it. He installed it later that night when he got home from work, and he’s completely happy with iTunes and his iPod on his PC now. In fact, he’s already thinking he wants to upgrade to a new 40GB iPod, he’s so happy… weird how that whole ‘experience’ thing makes him want more…

My thoughts are that one of these days he’ll ditch his old PC and buy a new Mac, but I’m not holding my breath just yet.

Steve Jobs proclaims that Hell has frozen overLong story short, iTunes for Windows is a good thing. It’s a smart tactical and strategic play on Apple’s part, and I hope it pays off. It’s all about the experience.

If you’re into dance/electronica music, I’d recommend you check out Smart Music’s MP3 collections. Oh, and I’d recommend you check out AllofMP3.com as a great place to get music in addition to your usual sources. And if you’re an iTunes for Mac user, check out Doug’s Applescripts for iTunes and SmartPlayLists.com.

“Never ask a man what computer he uses. If it’s a Mac, he’ll tell you. If it’s not, why embarrass him?” — Tom Clancy

Further Reading:

Side note: I’m still waiting to read Scoble’s take on iTunes for Windows after he mentioned that he’d test it out. I’m actually sort of wondering if he’ll blog about it or not, considering who his employer is and that he gets paid to evangelise their technology…

Powerful Statement through Gaming

Wow.

go play this game, really. We need more like this. The power of video games to effect your world view has never been clearer.

[via Abstract Dynamics]

Pather Compatability Chart for Unsanity Haxies

If you’re planning on upgrading to Panther, and use any of Unsanity’s great haxies, then you should check out their compatability chart.

I use WindowShade X, SafariNoTimeout 1.0 and ClearDock personally, so it’s nice to know that they’re all compatible now, except WSX, which is coming along quite nicely. Thanks Slava, et al.

Discussion Software – a request

An old friend (former boss of mine, actually) asked me for some advice on web-based discussion software. At first, my friend just asked a simple question:

“Can you recommend some sort of web-based software that I can use for online discussions?”

I’m sure that you’ll agree that that’s a pretty open-ended question, so, before I started pointing him at things like phpBB, UBB, slash, phpnuke, or anything else out there, I asked a few more questions, and narrowed down the basics of a list to start with in his requirements request.

It turns out he’s really looking for a piece of software that will help facilitate the delivery of news and discussion of that news to a local group of people in a community. (Think school-board meeting minutes and the discussion of those minutes, as one possible example.)

We discussed a few more requirements, and I ended up recommending TypePad to him as a starting point in his quest for the perfect solution to a yet undefined need. I haven’t thought of recommending weblog software to anyone yet (and maybe the right people just aren’t asking me) but, as I started analyzing the needs that were being described, the weblog format started making sense.

Any public organization really probably could use the weblog format to make public it’s meeting notes, diagrams and graphics, as well as solicit feedback and faciliate discussion for those interested, but unable to attend public meetings (think: interested parents have to work when school board meetings happen more times than not). I know this isn’t neccessarily a revolutionary thought, but with the extremely low barrier to entry now that TypePad is a shipping solution, I think I’ll end of recommending the weblog format to people more and more… It’s obviously not a million dollar solution, but it’s got the right price-tag on it for organizations that don’t have huge IT/web budgets… and the format isn’t all that different than a printed newsletter, but has so many more benefits… And because there aren’t any technical requirements for setting up a TypePad site, it’s very easy for a public organization to start using one as a discussion and feedback forum.

I thought about recommending Blogger, but honestly, it doesn’t have anywhere near the feature-set that TypePad has, and that puts TypePad in a completely different ballgame.

End of story (for me at least): My friend is going to sign up for a free TypePad trial sometime soon, and will recommend it as a starting point for the group discussion and feedback model within a public organization.

The GoogleBot on PageRank

Great little story here:

“I only index,” it told me. “I leave the ranking to the pigeons.”

“Oh,” I said, disappointed. “Well, then. Revisit-after soon, k?”

And then Googlebot was gone.

Brought a chuckle to my lips…

Definitions

Google has a surprisingly web-centric view of the world:

define Google -›Currently the most important spidering search engine by far, Google is dominating the search engine market.

define Yahoo›-›a combination search engine and search index to information on the World Wide Web.

define PayPal -›G&#243mez distributes payments through its fulfillment partner, PayPal. Therefore, G&#243mez PEERs are required to register for a free PayPal account that can be found at http://www.paypal.com to be eligible to receive any payments. Current PayPal users do not have to register for another PayPal account. Due to account reconciliation, G&#243mez PEERs eligible for payment for Online Time, Processing Time, or Referral Bonuses (“Active” G&#243mez PEERs only) will have funds deposited into their PayPal accounts within 10 days of the Earnings Closing Date as long as they meet the Minimum Monthly Payment. NOTE: Please be sure to register your PayPal account with the same e-mail address. G&#243mez submits your payment to PayPal using the e-mail address you provided during the G&#243mez PEER application process.

define images – Images are generally useful and improve the web experience, but some users prefer not to see them. Turning images off improves download speed for dial-up users, and eliminates advertisements that don’t use scripting, movies, or Flash animation.

Empowerment

(Preamble: I wrote this entry one year ago today… but never posted it for some reason. I’m posting it now, as originally written, as a reminder to myself about where I was a year ago)

Are you empowered?

In your life? In your job? In your life outside your job?

I am one of those that feels that empowerment is a key to happiness. I feel completely empowered outside of my job, and fairly empowered within the confines of my job, but I know that we have some serious problems with empowerment in our organization. Many of the employees that I work with (100+ in the company) feel that they have no power at all to make any improvements in their work environment. At all.

This is a serious morale issue within my organization that really should be addressed, but I don’t think it ever will (think small business entreprenuer done good, but only by luck and not by sound principles) get addressed fully. Many people above and below me in the hierarchy of decision makers…

One of my co-workers is fond of the saying “Happy employees make customers happy.” I agree.

In Search of an External Firewire Hard Drive

Over the past year, I’ve slowly gotten into ripping Mp3s of CDs that I own, and now that I own a computer with an 80GB HD, I don’t really have an issue with storage space like I used to (largest hard drive before the one in this new Powerbook was 40GBs, but that one is stuck in my old 1998 era iMac which is starting to show its age). That being said, I’d really, really like to buy an external hard drive that can hold at least 120GBs of data for backup and easy portability purposes, but I want that drive to be semi-stylish (I am a Mac guy afterall) and I’m having a hard time deciding what to buy.

I’ve narrowed down my choices to the following few manufacturers and would love to hear any feedback that my readers might have, as well as provide some advice for other searching for a great looking, well built external firewire hard drive:

I’d really like to buy an “Organic” drive from Googie Drives, but can’t find a US reseller. Their website doesn’t talk about the Organic series, but their web-based store offers them for sale in Denmark. Forbes thinks Googie’s drives are worth ink, and that’s encouraging, though obviously not enough to make me buy them, yet.

(Note: the following three links are to deep links that should be contained in a framed layout)

Googie Organic 3.5 inch driveOrganic 3.5″ drive: I’d like to have one of these, as I’m looking for a solution over 120GBs, and they look great on the website.

Organic 2.5″ drive: I’d settle for one of these (at 80GBs) if I had to, because another thing I’d like to have would be a small, stylish hard drive that could run on buspower.

Googie Sandwich drive: Looks fantastic, though isn’t as small as I’d hope to buy… still, looks like a great drive and would go well with the Aluminum PowerBook.

update: I found a US based reseller thanks to a link from MacMinute. DVDojo in New York is authorized to sell Googie Drives in the US, but I can’t find a damn thing on the DVDojo website about them selling hard drives… argh… later: I found this page on the DVDojo website after searching Google for DVDojo+Googie. Useless though. Lastly, a search on MacMinute.com reveals a “USA” page on Googie’s online store, but it’s pretty useless too at this point… not sure if I trust this Googie company to stay around long enough to be trustable for a consumer level product. Much later: after reading the comments on this post by Jason Fried, I’m not so sure about Googie anymore…

WiebeTech MicroGB800 driveBecause I can’t find any real information on the Googie drives, or on where to buy them in the US, I’m thinking I might buy a Wiebetech drive. I like their MicroGB800 products, as well as their UltraGB products, but the prices for the larger drives are more than I really want to spend (looking to stay in the $200 – $400 range here).

SmartDisk has a good looking FireLite model, which would suit my needs. Their CrossFire drives are also good options, as they’re a little larger. I’ve bought from SmartDisk before, so I know they make decent stuff, but don’t know if they make good Firewire drives.

LaCie’s Pocket Drive and d2 Hard Drives look like good alternatives.

Last year, MacWorld did a review on several Firewire Hard Drives, which is a very informative read, but I’m still not sold on a particular brand or drive…

Anyone have any other suggestions?

MP3 Caper

Great EFF movie:

Those wacky kids at EFF have done it again. Everybody must watch The MP3 Caper.

[via Vertical Hold]

Note: I’m not a member of the EFF, primarily because I haven’t taken the time to read up on what their real policies are and I have a tendency to stay out of political organizations…

linkdump for October

Here’s a few links to stuff I’ve read over the past month or so:

Brad Sucks: Making Me Nervous

I don’t write about music at all, but I’m making an exception this one time.

I just sent Brad $16 (via Paypal), the price of a normal CD, because I love one of his songs, and I would have bought his album at full price, had I heard the song on the radio… but I didn’t. I heard it on the internet:

Brad Sucks: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

The one song I’m totally digging: Making Me Nervous.

So, that’s the power of RSS/RDF. I read about this ‘album’ on someone’s weblog (can’t remember whose at this point), and I checked it out. I downloaded the songs, put them on my iPod, and at this point, I think it’s listed in a lot of my automatically generated playlists like the “most played” playlist, the “Top 25 rated” playlist, and the “Top Dance” playlist. I really like the tune (it’s catchy and helps pick me up at the office after a long day). I paid $16, because I really would have paid that much for it in a record store (come to think of it I would have paid $16 at Target… haven’t been to a record store in about 4 years) if they sold the album, or if I heard it on the radio.

Recommendation: Go download the song from Brad, and if you like it, send him a little cash donation, or pay him $5 and he’ll burn you the album and send it to you.

(Thanks to the person who wrote about Brad Sucks a few weeks ago…)

update: I figured out where I read about Brad Sucks first: Matt’s ‘A Whole Lotta Nothing’ (and I found that by searching for it on Feedster, not Google, thank you very much Scott!)

Purchase of Blogsnob

Adam Kalsey has purchased BlogSnob from idya [Press Release]. Congrats Adam… hope it works out well for you.

BlogSnob is a neat little text based advertising system that operated (in my opinion) much like LinkExchange did back when it first launched. Kalsey’s using BlogSnob to upgrade his Textad Exchange service.

You know what the fun thing about Textad and BlogSnob is? Surfing via those services. Find a site with one of them installed, and then just read a bit on each site, then click through to the next, read a bit and move on… you can find some fun stuff that way.

MT-Blacklist Installed

Ok, after having my comments broken all day, because I tried to install MT-Blacklist without Storable.pm installed (it’s required), I’ve gotten it to work. I got an email from a few of you alerting me to my broken comments, and I appreciate it. If your host doesn’t support Storable.pm and it’s a shared server, then you should ask them to support it before you try installing MT-Blacklist.

If you have a server that you can control, then you should download the Storable.pm source, and then follow the instructions for how to install it. If you don’t know what you’re doing, ask someone knowledgeable about your server set up to install it for you. (I know better than to try and teach people about how to install stuff on platforms I know little to nothing about).

The slick part about it being installed is that you can’t login to it unless you know how to sign into my MT installation… Very Slick!

Get rid of Comment Spam

MT Blacklist – a plugin for getting rid of MovableType comment spam… coming to a blog near you as soon as I find time to install it.

Panther upgrade will cost me $129

Steve previewed Panther (Mac OS X 10.3) in June of this year. Apple announced the shipping date yesterday. It’s coming to an Apple Store near you (not near me… there aren’t any Apple Store’s in Austin) on Oct. 24th.

They’ve also announced an Up-to-Date program for purchasers of new Apple computers… but it’s not like the Up-to-Date program I remember. If you buy a new Macintosh between yesterday and the release date of the new OS, you can get Panther for $20, but if you bought a new Mac the day before yesterday, or two weeks ago, you’re screwed into paying the full price for the upgrade.

Steve introduced a new Powerbook G4 on September 16th. I bought a new Powerbook within days of the introduction, because I really wanted one…

I agree with Dan Gillmor: Apple is being greedy.

Isn’t it enough that I’ve paid $3,000+ for a new Powerbook (bought Apple Care with it of course), within a few days of them being available? Isn’t it enough that I’ve just renewed my .Mac subscription even through I hardly ever use it? Isn’t it enough that I’ve talked 3 people into buying iPods to replace their other MP3 players? Isn’t it enough that I’ve bought 50 songs through the iTunes Music Service?

Why am I being forced to pay $129 to upgrade to Panther? Why can’t I pay ‘shipping and handling’ through the “Up-to-Date” program to upgrade to Panther?

The last time I applied for the Up-to-Date program, it was for my iMac that I bought in 1998… if I remember correctly, the program at that time had a much longer window prior to the release of the new OS that I was upgrading to. I can’t remember the specifics, but I know that the window was at least 30 days, which would still put me out of contention for this offer, but really, you’d think I could qualify for a cheap upgrade to panther considering I bought a $2,600 machine after Apple started shipping the PowerMac G5, and the Powerbook cost more than the two cheaper models of the G5.

The new Up-to-Date offer is bullshit. It really pisses me off, and you know what? I’ll wait to pay for an upgrade to Panther until I buy my next machine (which I won’t buy as soon as it’s announced ever again).

update:I just read this post on Macrumors.com and decided to go ahead and check to see if my new Powerbook qualified for the program and believe it or not it does. I didn’t trick the application or anything. I entered 9/19 as the purchase date, and the serial number from the “About this Mac…” window, and viola, Apple’s website told me my computer qualified…

So, I just ordered Panther at $19.95 plus $12 for overnight shipping (didn’t want to wait).

Thanks Apple, and I take back what I said earlier.

Yahoo News replaced Google News

Due to the release of Yahoo! News RSS Feeds, I’ve now stopped visiting Google’s News site. Thanks for the pointer Jeremy.

Sales Templates and Results

From Iuncture: Sales templates support personalization with consistency

Your customers want to be treated as individuals with every interaction– but how are you know what works to build strong buying relationships?› If every customer interaction is different it can be very difficult to discover best practices without some form of strategy.

Use models or templates based on the successes of your best sales people to guide each customer interaction.› A template provides guidelines for the interaction and could even include short scripts to help employees along.› Each interaction needs nothing more than a single page guide — more materials can be used in training, but at the interaction a few tips is all that is required.

Good read.

Get a job in Advertising

Top Advertising Recruiter Reveals Job Trends & Tips from MarketingSherpa. Great tips.

My Dock

Ok, I’ll play along. Here’s my dock:

dock

Pictured: Finder, iSync, Terminal, Adium, NetNewsWire, Mail, Safari, BBEdit (version 6.5 cause it works, and I’m too cheap/lazy to upgrade), Anarchie (I mean Interarchy), Fireworks, iCal, Address Book, iTunes, iPhoto, System Preferences, Explorer (note: I don’t actually open it that much), and Trash. I use Cleardock, a haxie from Unsanity, to keep the dock’s little transparent grey background from interfering with my desktop.

I only keep the few applications that I use constantly in my dock, and I keep them basically in the order that I open the applications for the most part. For all the other applications on my computer, I use Tigerlauch for quick and easy access.

Here are a few links to others docks:

Jonathan Greene, Erik Barzeski, Judi Sohn, Jeremy Keith, pillarist.net, Mike Cohen, Jon Hicks, Jason Kottke, Jon Gales, Michael J. Tsai, and David Jacobs.

Gruber’s Take on Dell’s MP3 Player

Gruber hits the nail on the head with his latest “Dell’s Dud“:

This idea that the iPod’s position is precarious — that any day now, some cheaper weak-branded knock-off will knock Apple off its perch — is exactly backwards. The iPod doesn’t just lead in market share; it leads in mind share. Any competing player that doesn’t establish an iPod-caliber brand isn’t even competing at all.

PC industry pundits continue to assert that Apple can’t possibly succeed by selling excellent products at premium prices — that they’ll inevitably succumb to mediocre products at discount prices. Tell that to Nike.

Confidence

“Confidence is contagious.”

Vince Lombardi (1913-1970)
Hall of Fame football coach