Radio Open Source to Close

Posted on June 27, 2007. Filed under: Art, News, Open Source, Politics, Software, Technology |

I first started listening to Christopher Lydon when he hosted a show on NPR in Boston called “The Connection.” I was living in Massachusetts at the time. This was back in the late 90s, before the tech bubble burst. His show was so intelligent and informative that I became a regular listener. After I left New England, I was chagrined to find that his show was not nationally available. But he soon moved on to other things.

What made “The Connection” so great? I think it was Lydon’s openness to new ideas, the great range of his intellectual curiosity, and his ability to listen–not just to his guests–but to everyone. According to my recollection, at least half of each show was reserved for listeners to call in. Lydon demonstrated the power and the joy of listening–and this is still his greatest gift.

I had similar hopes for “Radio Open Source,” Lydon’s current project. The idea behind OS was to allow listeners to contribute to the development of show topics using the Internet. The web site also encouraged listeners to comment on shows. “Radio Open Source” took the format of “The Connection” to the next level of user participation. In that sense, “Radio Open Source” had far more potential than “The Connection.”

The shows I downloaded were as interesting as they were informative. Unfortunately, “Radio Open Source” is shutting down. I hope it gets new funding and it returns this fall. Until then I will pick up the mantle, raise my escutcheon against the fray, unsheath my rapier, carry the standard, beat the bongos…well, let’s not get carried away.

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iPhone is going to be huge hit!

Posted on June 26, 2007. Filed under: Apple, News, Software, Technology |

I sat on the sidelines while the hype rose about the iPhone. I had my doubts about the design. I still have some. One is about the software keyboard: I don’t know how many users will prefer this feature to the tactile feedback of the little buttons on the Blackberry. I suspect that the iPhone will appeal to the lighter users of keyboards: the heavier users will have a hard time getting used to hitting the glass. My other complaint is with the price: this is really a marketing issue. $499 to $599 for a phone is high. But buyers will be able to rationalize because they are getting an iPod and a high-end cell phone. What throws the iPhone over into hit territory for me are the price plans that were just announced by AT&T: The starting price is about $60.00 for 450 minutes and unlimited data. If I’m reading that right, that means downloading media on iTunes will not count against the 450. I’m guessing that most people pay a lot more than $60/month for cell phone charges.

That said, I’m not buying one. 8GB is too small. And in my view, Verizon is the best carrier in my neck of the woods. I was an ATT customer once, and I had a lot of dropped calls and dead zones. Too many. And guess what? The next version of the phone will probably be announced in a few months–at a lower price point–with more storage space.

Here’s what I’d like to see in version 2.0:

1. Large hard drives: 15, 30GB, 80GB.
2. Allow connections to Airport for broadband (without ATT)
3. Bluetooth connections to external monitors, printers, and keyboards
4. Expandable RAM, smart cards
5. Better camera

Let us replace our desktops!

Check out this FAQ on the iPhone!

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Posted on June 22, 2007. Filed under: Apple, Humor, Jokes, News, Software, Technology |

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A Lotta Fucking TV Screens

Posted on June 15, 2007. Filed under: Humor, News, Software, Technology, Television |

I don’t mean to be crude or crass, but if Bill Gates’s and Steve Job’s visions are fulfilled, you, me, and every other schmo is going to own a lot of fucking television sets. How many? God himself only knows. I came to this realization after listening to Bill and Steve at the D5 conference podcast. Here’s Bill Gates on the future:

“I believe in the tablet form factor…And then you’ll have the device that fits in your pocket.”

Ok. Ok. A laptop and a “device” that fits in your pocket. A little vague. Sounds possibly sexual. Probably means a cell phone. But wait.

“Well, home, you’ll have your living room, which is your 10-foot experience, and that’s connected to the Internet and there you’ll have gaming and entertainment and there’s a lot of experimentation in terms of what content looks like in that world.”

You got that right. For a lot of people that’s gonna mean porn. And gambling. And catatonic kids staring into gigantic 10-foot screens. But wait, there’s more.

“And then in your den, you’ll have something a lot like you have at your desk at work. You know, the view is that every horizontal and vertical surface will have a projector so you can put information, you know, your desk can be a surface that you can sit and manipulate things.”

It seems to me that while this is a perhaps generous view of the future, the “cart,” as it were, is before the “horse.” Not every one has a home with a den and a living room. Many never will. Before every one has one of these pieces of shit in every room, they have to have a place to live.

Why do we need one of these pieces of shit in every room anyway? So we can watch YouTube or American Idol?

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Bringing Up Baby

Posted on June 12, 2007. Filed under: Apple, Software |

Leopard is the new version of the Mac OS. Steve Jobs demonstrated ten of the three hundred new features yesterday at WWDC. I watched his presentation here. Leopard looks great. But it also costs $130.00. I recently purchased a MacBook and I don’t want to upgrade because it’s too expensive. I have a little shit-fit rant to go through about the high prices software companies charge for upgrades.

Basically, I don’t think software companies like Apple should be charging their customers for upgrades to core products like OSX. After all, OSX is built to run exclusively on Apple machines. Basically everyone who uses OSX has already paid Apple for the hardware it runs on. When you charge them for upgrades you’re gouging them unfairly. Of course Apple should be paid for its work. But they already have been. Why do users need to shell out another $130 for what looks to me like a cosmetic upgrade? Here are the ten features:

1. Finder

Looks like iTunes. If it’s truly superior to the old Finder, it should be given to current users of Tiger.

2. Spaces

Allows you to group applications in virtual desktops. Interesting. But not earth shattering.

3, 4. Dock and Desktop

Cosmetic. Now there is a “downloads” folder on the Dock. When you download files form the Internet, they all go to this folder on the Dock. You can do this already by setting preferences in Safari, the only difference is that now the files pop out of the folder. BTW, IBM’s OS2 Warp had a similar feature. Warp came out in

Also, the Title Bar for the active application is more visible. This is a bug fix, not a feature.

Quick look is a way to preview documents before openning them.

5. Time Machine

An attractive skin on top of a backup program. It’s not that difficult to back up a machine these days. Disk space is cheap. Lost of backup programs allow you to look through a backup set as if it were a drive.

6. Movie Widget for Dashboard

Cute. Not exactly rocket science. Cosmetic. And how different is Dashboard frm Microsoft’s “Active Desktop”?

7. 64 Bit Computing

Of interest only to developers. No one else cares.

8. Core Animation


9. Boot Camp

Now it’s built-in. Don’t we have enough problems already without running Vista and OSX on the same box?

10. iChat features

Leopard adds a couple of new features to iChat: document sharing, camera effects. I think this is really fun. I’ve never actually used iChat before.

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Insert Flap “A”: A Review of The Complete New Yorker

Posted on June 8, 2007. Filed under: Books, DRM, Humor, Main Stream Media, Software, Technology, The New Yorker |

I dithered for months about purchasing The Complete New Yorker on DVD. Although the concept was great, the product itself was a disappointment to many. Most of the criticisms focused on the excessive disk-swapping required to use the product. I knew that this would annoy me no end. The only other alternative was to purchase an external drive with all the content in one place. The New Yorker sells this item for about $200. If you buy the hard drive, however, I don’t think you get the book that comes with the DVDs. The DVD product sells in a retail store for $100, but if you are willing to wait several weeks, you can purchase it $30.00 on The New Yorker’s web site. If you do buy it there, they will throw in an update DVD as well.

I have read about ways to load the DVDs on to a hard drive that will save you the trouble of swapping DVDs. Since the method is undocumented, it’s not clear to me whether you can do this without violating the license agreement you agree to when you install the product. The license agreement brings up the topic of digital rights management.

The product’s packaging is handsome but flawed. For example, the book that accompanies the DVDs is glued to an cardboard cover (an uber cover?) that requires the reader to cart around the DVDs every time he wants to read the book. The book, it seems to me, ought to slide out of the set.

The DVD sleeve should slide out of the set, too. The DVDs are housed in a folder that is glued to the same uber outer cardboard cover as the book. There are two additional pieces of cardboard that come tucked into the folder. I guessed that they were there to stiffen the product and protect the DVDs. So I retained them. The problem is that they could slide out of the folder. If you are having trouble picturing them they are like those pieces of cardboard that the hand laundry inserts into your shirts. The only difference is that you don’t throw these away. But while you’re looking at the DVDs, what do you do with the two pieces of cardboard?

You could try to separate the book from the uber sleeve. If you do, you will notice that while the book does indeed come loose from the uber sleeve, it takes some of the cardboard from the uber sleeve with it, which is unattractive. You will also notice, if you have not already, that the book itself does not have a title printed on its spine, which will make it harder to identify when it is placed on a bookshelf. This leads to the inescapeable conclusion that the The New Yorker neither intended the book to stand alone nor contemplated that anyone might try to make it so.

I’m thinking out loud here but if the book and the sleeve were removable, in theory you could be left with an empty cardboard uber cover. What would you do with that? It’s attractively printed so I don’t think I would throw it away.

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Wading into the Linux World

Posted on May 22, 2007. Filed under: Linux, Software, Technology |

Over the past few weeks I have waded into the Linux world. One of the reasons is that I have an old laptop that I am loathe to throw away, if only for sentimental reasons. I thought that Linux might give the old machine a second life.

I downloaded Debian first. Later, I tried Ubuntu. Both are pretty similar. Both run slow as shit on my laptop. And I don’t think it’s the OS per se, either. It’s really the GUIs that slow the box down to the point where I wonder if I running Windows 2000. GNOME is a resource pig. What Linux really needs is a lightweight GUI. According to my understanding, the current GUIs, like KDE and GNOME, run on top of Xfree. In order to get the speed, a new system needs to be developed from scratch. And it needs to become a standard part of every major distro.

The whole point of these operating systems should be that they are superior to their alternatives. It’s not enough just to be free.

The stakes are pretty high. Revenues in hardware and software depend on our old machines being too slow to run new software. If the current trend continues a lot of older machines will have to be tossed. And it can’t be good for the environment to have all that plastic sitting in landfills. The Linux Community needs to address the needs for a lightweight GUI that is independent of xFree.

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  • Quotes of the Day

    "Writing editorials is like wetting your pants in a blue serge suit. It feels good, but nobody really notices."

    --Jack Germond

    "Famous men and women, by the act of putting themselves on display, whether as politicians, actors, writers, painters, musicians, restaurateurs, or whatever, invite public appraisal. They are all, impressively or pathetically, acting on the presumption that their ideas, their fantasies, their music, their bodies are more original than those of, say, a plumber or a certified public accountant. They are all exercising the impulse, as Mencken put it, ‘to flap their wings in public.’ This is so obvious to the critic–and, I believe, to the ordinary reader or spectator–that it seems hardly worth saying. But resentment of the practice of criticism itself is strong among professional artists (and all Presidents of the United States). There is a psychological type among them that hates critics on principle as parasites or failed performers. This is very natural but surely very childish and, in any country claiming to be civilized, actually anti-social. The existence of critics, good, bad, or indifferent, is a firm clause in the social contract between the governors and the governed in any nation that is not a dictatorship. Public figures should accept with good grace the public response to their invitations to be admired and resist the temptation to retort, except in the face of flagrant malice."

    --Alistair Cooke

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