Perspective

It is amazing, unfathomable, and ridiculous how little perspective people have these days. 24-hour news cycles filled with misinformation, skewed sound bytes, and no objectivity has created streams of fear-mongering spewing from our TV sets. And, no one stops to think, to reflect, to attempt to understand. 

Last week, there was a "controversy" here in eastern Massachusetts, because while on a school field trip to a mosque, a few middle school students chose to participate in the prayer service. They were not forced or coerced. They chose to participate and attempt to learn more about a religion. The school also took kids on field trips to a synagogue, and a Catholic church, but whether or not anyone took part in prayer on those trips apparently wasn't news-worthy. Worst of all was that the video of the supposed controversy at the mosque wasn't released for 4 months. When the video was released, it came from the horribly misnamed organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which seemingly does nothing but promote intolerance of Islam. 

The controversy came from people who thought it was "wrong" that the kids would be allowed to participate. Though, unsurprisingly, they never quite explained why it was wrong. If you check the comments on the news story, you see the culprit pretty easily. People assume that anything related to Islam must be violent and dangerous. People continually posted links to stories about terrorist attacks, with comments rehashing the theme "THIS is supposedly a non-violent religion?"

Not surprisingly, my response never made it into the comments section when I posted a link to a story about how in Zambia the Catholic church held a meeting to decide how to best commit genocide. (Note: that last link should work eventually, but when I first checked, that site had been hacked, so nothing was there.) 

How about a little perspective? There are over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Even if 99.9% of all Muslims are peaceful people, that leaves over 1.5 million extremists out there making the only news headlines you see. And, as we've covered before, people are lazy and don't want to think (one reason why religion exists in the first place,) so people believe only what they see on the news. 

More perspective: have you ever heard or seen any stories in which any high-ranking Muslim priests or officials, or anyone related to someone of high-rank has committed an act of terrorism? Probably not. You've only heard stories of the fringe groups. Just like you've never heard any stories of high ranking Catholic priests or officials committing crimes. Oh, wait just a tick...

This is a big world, with a shit-ton of people in it. There will always be people who want to do bad things, no matter what their race, creed, or religion. But, there will also be a lot more people who want to do good. We can focus on the former, or we can have some perspective and see the latter. It should never be a "controversy" when kids are being taught to understand other cultures/religions and take more information into account than just what you see on the news. 

With A Clear Mind, I Can See Your iPod Tricks

A long time ago, my headphones broke, and fairly recently I got around to sending them back for replacement. In the interim, I had been using the terrible headphones that came with my old iPhone, but sometime in the last week, I lost those as well. So, for the past few days, I haven't been listening to my usual dose of podcasts. I usually listen to a range of podcasts covering tech (TWiGTWiT), sports (BS ReportThundering Herd), gaming (Beyond!Game Scoop), news (On The Media), and comedy (Doug Loves MoviesSmodcastSklarbro Country). With my hour/hour and a half commute to and from work each day, I can usually cover a lot of territory in the podcast landscape. 

At first, the podcast free time seemed odd, and void, but eventually a strange thing happened: my brain started breathing again. I realized that I never give my mind time to think any more, unless I'm going to bed, at which point I'm usually too tired to think too much. My mind never had time to absorb, to process, to percolate, to create. 

Whenever I'm listening to podcasts or music, I have ideas for things that should become blog posts, but (as you may have noticed) those ideas rarely make it to the page. If I don't turn off the podcast and write down the idea quickly, it gets lost in the noise.

We always here older folk going on about how kids don't read, blah blah blah. And, I've always fallen on the side that kids may not read books as much, but there are so many more places to get information these days, so it shouldn't matter. Well, it does matter. Getting information from TV, podcasts or other visual/audio media doesn't give your mind time to process. You have to manually insert those pauses, and most people don't. With reading at least, you control the flow of information. You can go as fast or as slow as you want. You can stop to think, or research. 

That's the real point isn't it? People don't want to think. They don't want to have to formulate opinions for themselves. They want to be told what's happening AND what to think about it. That's why our media has become what it is. Because people are lazy. We don't want to learn, and research, and think for ourselves. 

But, that's not a rant I want to get into. The point of this is me. My brain has been freed to think, and that's what I'm going to use it for. And, my first thought is this: the iPod Nano is Steve Jobs' design whipping boy. 

Steve Jobs knows that at all of these announcements there needs to be something that pops, something dramatic. With the iPhone and iPad, they don't need to try too hard, the drama is built in with the relative newness, and strides forward for each device. iPods are a whole different beast. They can't get anything exciting from the iPod Shuffle; it's a small boring device that has so little functionality that there is nothing that can be done to make it exciting. The iPod Touch is screwed from the start, because it's be red-headed stepchild to the beautiful Aryan iPhone. The Touch doesn't get all the premier features of the iPhone (like a useful camera), and it's basically just a device for those who want an iPhone but don't want to be on AT&T, and haven't discovered Android yet. 

Then there's the iPod Nano. The biggest seller of them all. The most versatile, and the most malleable. Steve can do anything to that thing simply to generate buzz, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter, because no one cares about those other features. In gen 3, they made it square, then changed it back the next year. Then last year, they added a shitty camera. This year, they added WiFi (a supremely useless thing for a Nano,) and TOOK OUT both the camera, AND the ability to watch video. But, because of its bold new look, it creates buzz, and that's all Steve cares about. 

Of course, this will all backfire, because as Apple should have learned with the Shuffle last year: people want tactile controls on MP3 players. The Touch and iPhone can get away with touch screens because of the added functionality in the device. On a Nano, people want to be able to skip forward or back without looking, which is an incredibly difficult thing for a touch device to give. So, in a bold move that "will appease the customers" and show that Apple "cares and listens", next year the Nano will bring back tactile controls with another dramatic redesign. Because that's it's job. 

Revisiting the iPhone 4 debunking (after hands-on)

Over the past couple days, I've taken some time to play with the new iPhone to give it a real hands-on review. And after some hands on time, I wanted to quickly run through the points I brought up in my last post.

1) All New Design

It's an Apple, that's sure. The phone looks good, and feels nice in the hand. That said, just like previous iPhones, it feels awkward when up to my ear. The angles and edges just aren't comfortable when using the phone as a phone. I tried to recreate the issue people have been talking about with blocking reception when holding it a certain way, but I wasn't able to, so no comment there.

I'm still a little hesitant about the glass enclosure though. Apple claims it's stronger than plastic, but I dropped my iPhone 3G about half a dozen times and the worst that happened was a couple microfractures, and those are not the results that have been had with iPhone 4 drop tests.

2) "Retina Display"

Images and text were certainly crisp. It was sharper than my Nexus One (I tested by looking at the same images on Flickr on both devices.) But, as I expected, the colors were much richer on the Nexus One. Overall, the iPhone display would be better for small text, but since there's a zoom function, I don't really see the point. I'll take the better colors on AMOLED than sharper tiny text on an iPhone.

3) A4 Processor

The iPhone is fast, just like all new smartphones. I've played with the EVO, a lot of time with my Nexus One, and I didn't feel like the iPhone was any faster or more responsive really.

4) Gyroscope

I completely forgot that this existed, so I haven't played with it.

5) Camera

The camera app UI and quality are the best I've seen on a phone. Can't argue that. However, I didn't see a huge difference between the HD video on the iPhone and the HD video I've taken on my Nexus One.

6) iOS 4

Again, nothing special here. If you like the iPhone, there's nothing especially new here. Folders exist, so what? Multitasking is there, but it's not really multitasking, so much as a better task switcher. It's still just as closed down and sterile as iOS always has been. Custom wallpapers doesn't change that. It's still as pretty a UI as it's always been, but with no customization or control options, I just don't see the value.

7) iBooks

Meh. Kindle is on all platforms now, and there's nothing special about iBooks. Kindle is already moving on to offer video and other media into eBooks, so Apple is already playing catch-up.

8) iAds

No comment. Oh wait, one comment: ANTI-FUCKING -COMPETITIVE.

9) Facetime

Not available on the store demo models, and I haven't had a chance to check it out, but I still don't see the point.

Debunking the iPhone 4 Hype

For ease of construction, I'm just going to use the "Top 9 featuDebunking the iPhone 4 Hyperes of the Apple iPhone 4" from ZDNet as my basis.

1) All New Design

Oh wow, Apple made a pretty device prettier and thinner! That's never happened before! Let's all go crazy! Especially since even though the phone is thinner it still isn't as light as my Nexus One.

2) Retina Display - 3.5" IPS display with 900x640 resolution and 326DPi.

This is the one feature of the new iPhone that I am legitimately interested to see. The second it drops, it will be the highest resolution display on the market. That said, it is still an IPS (read: LCD display) which does not have the same color depth as an OLED screen. Case in point, Apple touts the new screen as having an 800:1 contrast ratio, and because the general public doesn't understand the number, they think it's great. But, just for comparison, my Nexus One has a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, which in real life terms means more vibrant colors and deeper blacks.

I have to see the screen to pass full judgement, but I'll expect that for all practical purposes because of the resolution, the iPhone will have the best screen on the market for about another 3-4 months or so, before an Android phone eclipses it.

3) New Processor - the A4

Given the benchmarking results, the A4 is slightly faster than the ubiquitous Snapdragon, at least in the iPad. We don't know how the iPhone will stack up, but I'd assume similar results. Again this is a spot where Apple will have the lead for a few months, but, with newer Snapdragons on the way, plus Tegra 2 chips coming along as well, Apple won't be at the top here for very long either.

4) Gyroscope

Useful only if you use the iPhone as your primary portable gaming device. And, even then, all it will do is make a few games better. Ultimately, developers will probably find uses for this, but nothing really exciting except better flight sims will result. Personally, I could care less, because I don't do much gaming on my phone anyway. I mean did you see the video demo of this? Do you really want to be spinning around in order to do something on your phone?

5) Camera - 5MP and 720p video

Yay! You caught up with 2 year old Japanese cell phones, and my Nexus One. Be proud of yourself for pushing the envelope, Steve!

6) iOS 4

Still lagging behind Android on all fronts except for design (although even that isn't as wide a gap as one would think). The apps and system are still gimped because of Apple's need for control. And, no matter how Steve takes things out of context, it's not true multitasking like in Android.

7) iBooks

Still not as good a store as Kindle, which is also available in the App Store. Plus, reading on a phone is silly and uncomfortable. Next.

8) iAds

Just another proprietary platform that Apple had to create because competition was getting too tough and they lost the bid for AdMob. Anti-competitive, ho!

9) Facetime - front facing camera chat.

Useless unless the person you are talking to also has an iPhone 4, because Apple is sure to make it incompatible with offerings that use the Evo and future Android front-facing cameras. Anti-competitive, ho!

Overall, I'm not that impressed with Apple. At the speed that Android is evolving, Apple just isn't coming hard enough. The best thing they could have done would have been to announce the iPhone coming to Verizon, because they have saturated  their limited market on AT&T.

It's Windows vs Apple all over again. Apple can't compete with the hardware when Android is licensed to so many companies, and they simply won't compete in software because that would mean giving up control over their system. The only thing they have left is the gaming aspect, but even that can't hold forever.

Another Look at the iPad, and How It Will Help Newspapers Commit Suicide

In my last post, I explained why you don't need an iPad, but as is the case with Apple fever, whether or not you need an iPad has little to nothing to do with whether or not you are going to buy an iPad. So, with that in mind, I wanted to write a bit about the positives of the iPad, the reasons why it is a good device, and try to see both sides of the iPad fiasco. But, ultimately, I want to talk about why the arguments for the iPad are nothing more than hype.

First, I had a chance to play with the iPad at an Apple Store on launch day. I didn't have a huge amount of time, and I was limited because the Apple Store (according to an employee) has strict rules about what apps they can load onto iPads for the public to demo. So, I was not able to use some major things, such as  the Kindle app, or Marvel apps, but I was able to use my iTunes login to load up the New York Times app, Wall Street Journal, BBC, ABC, Netflix and Reuters apps.

The iPad is what you would expect from Apple. It is pretty, easy to use, fairly intuitive, and has the clean Apple look. The iPad is completely a consumption device, not a creation device, and that is both its allure and downfall. If all you want is something to surf the web, check e-mail, play some games, read and watch video, the iPad is a very nice device. It does all of those things well. If you want to write e-mails, blog posts, or even Twitter updates, maybe the iPad won't do so well for you. Typing in portrait mode was tough for me. Typing one handed is slow and the device is a bit too heavy to for most people to hold comfortably one handed for an extended time. Typing with my thumbs worked okay, but even with my pretty big hands (I'm 6'4",) it was a stretch to reach the middle of the keypad. Typing in landscape mode was surprisingly comfortable, but that requires something to lean the iPad on, something that was already set up at the Apple Store, but not a good sign for if you want to use the iPad somewhere other than your living room or bathroom.

Also, while the ABC and Netflix apps work very well on WiFi, I don't imagine those apps being very useful for the most part. I don't think streaming video is really the way for this device. The iPad is technically "unlocked" but won't work on anything but AT&T, and given AT&T's past, I'd expect a downgrade in video quality for the 3G models, which effectively makes the screen pointless. When you're at home, unless you're in the bathroom, there is no need for these apps, because with On Demand services through cable providers, or Netflix streaming on any number of devices, there are better options for these things than the iPad. Ultimately, I see the iPad working best with preloaded video, or purchases from the iTunes store (sneaky Apple!), because none of the other options will be useful enough.

The screen is nice, but has problems with both glare and smudges, another issue that would make this device fairly useless outdoors. I can imagine short bursts of reading being fairly comfortable on the iPad, but extended periods of staring at that screen could lead to strain. The built in iWork app suite is also very well designed, but again, somewhat limited, because while you can use the device to write documents, it is awkward to do so. Games look great on the device as well. So, I can see tablets having niche uses (not just the iPad mind you, all tablets. This is an important point: Colgate is toothpaste, but not all toothpaste is Colgate. Kleenex are tissues, but not all tissues are Kleenex. The iPod is a media player, but not all media players are iPods. The iPhone is a smartphone, but not all smartphones are iPhones. The iPad is a tablet, but not all tablets are iPads. Name recognition does not the best product make.) I can imagine tablets being incredibly useful in the classroom, on the train, in the bathroom, at a coffee shop, or as a cheap alternative to a DVD system in a family car.

Ultimately, the iPad is a nice device. For better or worse, it is what you would expect from Apple, but because of that, it is not what everyone wants and it's not what everyone needs. And, because of the hype surrounding it, I fear that this device could hold off the evolution of the media industry, which in the end, will only hurt the media industry, and here's why: the iPad will allow the media industry to hold onto their walled gardens and pre-packaged products just long enough for them to become completely irrelevant.

I played with a number of the media apps like NYT, WSJ, BBC, and Reuters. Reuters had good ideas with pushing the UI, NYT and WSJ both just looked like digital scans of newspapers (the worst option possible), and BBC had the best offering by far. BBC did what American newspapers can't quite grasp: the old way of the print media does not apply any more, it is old and dead, and we need a new way forward. We are no longer a mass consumption audience. We all want different things, easy access to the content we want and we want to be able to get other relevant information as well as share stories we like. Newspapers do not allow that, and that is not how you build a successful digital format. NYT and WSJ don't understand this. They are offering a newspaper and nothing more. BBC offers a news discovery platform, and that is what we really need.

Consider these examples:

1) The New York Times website, and article about Global Warming. It is static, the only links are relevant people, not concepts, ideas or events. Past coverage is limited to 2 links all the way a the bottom.

2) The New York Times teamed with Google for "Living Stories" about Global Warming. There are links for all relevant information, a timeline of important events, and tons more articles related to the story.

Which one presents the news in the way you want to consume it?

The expected additions of pay walls and limited content only exacerbates the problem. The newspapers are trying to hold onto control when their best way forward is to give up control. Stop trying to sell us a package and give us quality content. Give us control over what we see, how we see it, and what we can do with that content. The old media is dead. If you try to exclude us, or pretend you have something special we need to pay for, we will go elsewhere. There are plenty of organizations willing to give us what we want and how we want it. And, many of them don't have to subsidize a dying print business, they can focus on making the best product for us, not the best life raft for them.

Syncing My Social Networks

Ever since Google Buzz came on the scene, I've been trying (and failing) to have my status update automatically sync between Buzz, Facebook, and Twitter. This in itself is not that difficult an undertaking. The problem rose from three issues:

1) I wanted to have Buzz as my originating space. It's in my Gmail, and there's a nice Buzz widget for my Nexus One. I didn't want to start from Facebook or Twitter. I wanted to start from Buzz.

2) I didn't want any feedback loops.

Why Obama is Right to Cut Manned Space Travel

I have been hearing recently about how despite President Obama's plan to increase the NASA's budget by 6 billion dollars, he has planned to delay or cancel manned flights to the moon. Of course, I didn't get this information from Fox News, as they don't like to bother with understanding issues in order to report on them. Obama has been getting criticized by Neil Armstrong and others for hurting "the United States' future as a superpower." I have to disagree.

Like many of my generation, I grew up being fascinated by astronauts and space flight. I love sci-fi and dreaming of untold worlds beyond our reach. But, ultimately, that is the real point here - the true riches of space exploration are beyond our reach. It doesn't matter how much money gets diverted towards NASA right now, we simply do not have the technology to do more with manned space flights than get to the moon. President Obama's plan is not to kill the dream of manned space flights completely, but to shift the focus in order to bring about that dream faster.

At this point in time, manned space flights past the ICC are a waste of money. The issue is power. The fuel and engines that exist today are terribly inefficient for what our dreams require. Sure, we have made huge technological strides because of the space program, but aiming to put men on the moon or to Mars will not accelerate future strides, it will simply lead to more waste. We need technological revolutions here on Earth before we can set our sites on Mars or beyond. We are still slaves to gasoline, combustion engines, and other wasteful power sources. If anything should be the focus of NASA, it should be in developing new propulsion systems that are cheaper, smaller and more efficient and in developing better radiation shielding.

With current systems, it would take anywhere from 4-7 months for a manned flight to reach Mars. Then we still have issues involving landing on Mars, getting astronauts from the surface back to their main ship and back home. VASMIR rockets which have been in development for close to a decade, could cut that time to 39 days. This is a good step forward, but these rockets are still barely in the testing phase and won't even be ready for orbital testing until 2013 at the earliest.

More importantly is the issue of radiation. We here on Earth have the good fortune to have an atmosphere that shields us from that radiation. What do we have in place to protect astronauts? Not much. Currently, radiation shielding is big, heavy, expensive and not that effective. Radiation levels on the ICC are monitored very carefully, and the plan has been to not let astronauts spend more than 4-6 months in space at a time. This is not only because of radiation, but because of the effects of low gravity and other issues which have a profound effect on the human body. There is research into electrostatic fields and other options for shielding, but most are still very far from practical use.

So, with a mission to Mars, even with the VASMIR rocket fully functioning, it would take 78 days of round trip flight, plus however long the astronauts spend exploring Mars itself (say 30 days as a conservative estimate.) That's 108 days at least. Less than the 4-6 month limit currently placed on astronauts living in space, but not by enough. The further from Earth they travel, the more dangerous it is if something goes wrong.

Some day, I would love to see humans traveling to Mars or beyond, but that day is not today, and it is not in the immediate future. Americans don't need to be the first to put more people on the moon or on Mars in order to be a technological superpower, because there are still plenty of technological issues that need solutions right here on Earth. Let's focus on those first, and work our way up to those sci-fi dreams. We don't need to aim for the stars to be successful, as long as we know that each step gets us closer to them anyway.

Racism and Nerds

I just watched this video set to Carl Sagan talking about the "pale blue dot" that is our home. While watching, I thought of all my years being an omninerd, and everything that life has taught me about science, nature, music, movies, literature, travel, sports, technology and people. And suddenly, I had the following question: Is it possible to truly be a nerd, and still be racist?

My thinking on this issue follows as such:

1) For the purposes of this discussion, I define a "nerd" as someone who values information and knowledge over almost anything else. Once a nerd limits the scope of their intellectual pursuits, or begins to shut out any part of the world, they fall into the category of "geek." Someone who knows a lot about astronomy, but not geology would be a geek, because the two sciences are very closely tied and aid the understanding of one another. Someone who is possibly not a master of any one subject, but well versed in many would be a nerd.

2) Information, knowledge and experience create the death of all bigotry. The more information one has, the more it is clear that though society, economy, geography, and history may give us different life experiences, we are all human, and ultimately all the same.

3) Racism is learned. This is why with each successive generation, there is less and less racism. As our world becomes more connected, and people are exposed to more cultures, information, knowledge and experience, people reject what their parents or grandparents believed. With each generation, and the continuing penetration of networking technology, we all get a little nerdier.

The problems to this line of thinking are:

1) Sometimes, no matter how much evidence to the contrary, people still cling to their beliefs, no matter how absurd or dangerous. (Insert slap against conservatives and religious fundamentalists.)

2) The problem is systemic. The way society is structured can reinforce stereotypes, and thus racism. Especially here in America, black people are kept poor and uneducated because of how the system is run, and as we should know by now (though many people don't), being poor and uneducated is what leads to crime. Add in a legal system that is also skewed against minorities and that stereotype gets even more basis in reality, even if built on controlled and designed "facts". Also, historically, because Europe developed technology faster, they were faster to be corrupted by the enhanced power that industry and technology produces, and then used that technology to become oppressors.

Consider this: More recently in history, Africa has undergone localized industrialization, and many societies have followed that same pattern of ancient Europe. When Europeans developed the technology, they were corrupted and began taking over the world because the rest of the world was less technologically advanced. Today, African leaders are equally as corrupted, but do not have the ability to travel with their power because that era has passed for much of the rest of the world. If the situation had been reversed, and hundreds of years ago, the history would still follow the same pattern, just with different "world leaders" today.

Consider this:



Notice a pattern? Well at the base of it all, that's all it is: a pattern based on sunlight. Humans adapted darker skin in areas of stronger sunlight as a form of protection. End of story. Why are people from Ireland so pale, easy to burn, and susceptible to skin cancer? Because generations of humans in that area never had to deal with very strong sunlight. Where are humans the darkest? That's right! At the equator. And what else is it rare for black people to get? Bingo! Skin cancer. It's scientific fact.

Why you don't need an iPad or a newspaper

I wont lie to you all. For the majority of the last few years, I had fallen in as an Apple fanboy. Over the course of my life, I've had a string of terrible Windows computers (including two Sony Vaios - a laptop and desktop.) Then, upon moving to Osaka in 2006, at my wits end with all things Microsoft, I bought a Macbook. It was a revelation. Things worked. I didn't have to worry about viruses and random dll errors. It was bliss, and still is.

My Apple addiction didn't take long to dig its claws in, so when I saw the first screens of the iPhone my mind went blank and all I could see was a gadget that I needed to own. Luckily, I was still in Japan, so the first gen iPhone was able to pass by without any battles between my self-control and my credit card. The iPhone 3G was released about 2 weeks before I left Japan and returned to the States, so of course buying one was my first act upon leaving the plane. The first 6 months or so were bliss, but things began going downhill quickly.

I was forced to continually jailbreak with each software upgrade, because the device simply wasn't allowed to do what I wanted. The more I saw, the more Apple's arbitrary and obtuse approval process annoyed me and completely put me off. Here was a device that was revolutionary, but at the same time held back from its full potential by Steve Jobs' draconian practices. Only apps that he deemed acceptable could run on the device, it could only sync with iTunes (obviously), no apps could duplicate built-in features (anti-competitive), and huge parts of the system were cut out of the official SDK only allowing developers to do what Steve said they could. Couple that with being bill-raped by AT&T (you want me to pay extra for SMS? f*** off,) and I needed out. I bought a Nexus One, got switched over to T-Mobile, and just like the moment I bought my Macbook, it was a revelation.

Yes, the iPad looks pretty, and it has all of the apps and everything just like the iPhone/iPod touch, but it also still has all of the problems, but now on a bigger scale. Let's put aside the fact that it's a first gen Apple device, which are notoriously flawed products. This thing has the guts of a netbook, and a beautiful interface, but it's still cut off at the knees because it's locked down. The App Store has unknown and constantly changing review criteria, though the anti-competitive policies are well known. It can't multitask (except for the anti-competitive multitasking with first party software.) It can't run Flash. It isn't expandable. Consider this on that last point: this is a 16Gb micro SD card. That card costs about $40 and equals the storage capacity of the lowest rung iPad. Given the size, there is no way Apple could build a slot for that? Of course not, because then they couldn't charge you an extra $100 to jump from the 16Gb iPad to 32Gb iPad.

Here's a dirty little secret everyone: the iPod was almost never the best MP3 player on the market, but you were so stuck in the web of iTunes, you couldn't break free, and never knew what you were missing, couple that with the Apple branding juggernaut, and to this day all MP3 players are called "iPods" by the casual consumer. The same is now true for the iPhone. It is nowhere near the best smartphone on the market. It was the first one to be beautiful and to rope in the luddites, and now that those people are trapped in the Apple web, they aren't going to get out, because people are inherently afraid of change. So, here's the answer: don't buy an iPad, don't get stuck deeper in that web. The iPad, like the iPod and iPhone, will be the first tablet on the market to get it right, but that doesn't mean it's the best, and more to the point, it will not be the best tablet on the market by the time the year is out.

Sometime this year, the Notion Ink Adam Tablet PC will be released and that will blow the iPad out of the water. Here are some of the differences:

Notion Ink Adam Tablet (NIAT) will have a dual core processor, and therefore be able to easily multitask and run Flash, the iPad cannot do either (except for crippled multitasking which is only allowed by Apple software). NIAT has an amazing screen which will not only offer better resolution and battery life than the iPad, but will also be able to switch to a mode similar to E-Ink (think Kindle) for more comfortable reading and even better battery life. NIAT will support Android OS, Ubuntu Linux or Google Chrome OS, giving you access to anything you would want to do, whereas the iPad will run iPhone OS, limiting you to the App Store (and remember apps are rejected if they duplicate functionality, so no alternatives to Safari, Mail, Calendar, and maybe not even the iWork that comes bundled.) NIAT will also have a camera that swivels 180 degrees, whereas the first gen iPad has no cameras. And, to top it all off, NIAT will be cheaper than the iPad.

Not sold? There will also be plenty of tablets coming out running Windows 7 (not some form of the Zune or Windows 7 Phone software, full on Windows 7,) Linux, and Android.  So, you can choose a tablet that runs Windows 7 and can use all of the software that goes along there, or a tablet with all of the benefits of Android (open development).

The iPad will act as a gateway for content providers to charge you for everything. Hulu is planning an iPad app, but it won't be free, even though Hulu turned a $100 million dollar profit last year, and expects to double that this year from ads alone. NBC is considering a paid app for the iPad as well.

But wait! you say? The iPad will have custom built apps for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, plus the iBook store! It will revitalize the sinking print business! First of all, why do you need access to thousands of books in your pocket? You need one book, and you can get that one book you will read at a time from a library, for free if you want. Owning a Kindle or iPad will simply lead to impulse buying of books that you won't read and won't feel guilty about because they won't be staring at you from the shelf, they'll be hidden away on your tablet.

And, here's a crazy question: maybe the newspapers are dying for a reason. Maybe they are still clinging to outmoded ideals and business practices and want you to pay for their inability to evolve with the times. Consider this: these apps that are supposedly going to "revitalize" the industry are simply repackaged newspapers, and they will charge you subscription fees. These companies are just repackaging the stuff you already don't buy. We don't need newspapers, we don't need the packaging, we just need the content, and we can access that content redistributed in hundreds of different sources. The Times and WSJ don't have anything that you can't find elsewhere, but they want to charge you a fee as if what they are giving you is some sort of precious commodity. The news is not a rare commodity, especially not in the world of the Internet. These companies are not giving you paper (an actual commodity that could easily become limited,) they are giving you information that has been digitally distributed and copied. It is nothing special. WSJ is going to charge $4 per week for full access on the iPad. Alternatively, it only costs $2 a week to subscribe to WSJ online. Double the price for what? The privilege of owning an iPad? B.S. They know the target market of the iPad: people who don't know that there are better options, people who won't notice that they are living in Musolini's Italy.

Sure, with the iPhone and iPad, the trains will run on time. But, that doesn't change the fact that you don't have full control over the device you bought, it is purposely crippled, and the apps available are subject to the whim of dictator Steve.

The Argument Against MSNBC and Fox News

Yesterday, I talked about how to kill Fox News, but today I want to get into the why of it all. A lot of my argument does boil down to the fact that both MSNBC and Fox News masquerade themselves as "news" sources, when they are both anything but. So, to start this discussion, I'd like to lay out what, in my mind, is the role of a news source.  I believe the most important attributes of a news source are: 1) unbiased, objective, and only concerned with the truth; 2) actively trying to inform the public about matters that affect them; 3) actively trying to contextualize and inform the public about world affairs.

The biggest problem with media today is that "unbiased and objective" has become synonymous with boring. This is partly because of the popularity of "entertainment news" sources like MSNBC, and Fox News, but also because of the recent move to the "24 hour news cycle". News outlets need to realize that "unbiased and objective" does not mean emotionless. Journalists need to rediscover their passion for the truth, and need to take pride in delivering that to the audience. As I mentioned yesterday, we as the audience have a duty to support true news sources, but those news sources also have a duty to give us the information we want.

Ultimately, the news needs to be a conversation. The news source engages the audience, gives us the truth of the situation, explains what needs explaining, and we as the audience give our reactions and help steer the news sources away from things that are trivial (ie. surfing alpacas or whatever Sarah Palin is doing at any given moment) towards things that are informative and relevant to our lives (ie. real explanations of the health care reform bill.) "News" sources like MSNBC and Fox News only serve to drown out the true news with their constant shouting back and forth. Imagine you went to a college lecture, but throughout the class, while the professor is explaining how government works, two students on either side of the room were shouting at each other constantly. Eventually, no matter how ridiculous the argument between the students, all attention moves to them, because they are loud, disruptive, and passionate. What happens at the end of the year? Everyone fails that class.

The answer seems simple: throw those students out of the class. So, why can't we do that? Why are we allowing MSNBC and Fox News to take over the public discourse? Why do we as a society enjoy being ignorant, so long as it's entertaining? And, why do we hold such low standards for those we give authority to keep us informed?

In "30 Rock" a couple weeks ago, Elizabeth Banks, playing an NBC News reporter, said, "It's a 24-hour news cycle, Jack. We don't have time to get it right." How has this idea become the truth? If access to 24-hour news comes at the expense of accuracy, I'm against it. I want the truth, and nothing else. I am smart enough to form my own opinions on what it all means.

The other detriment of the 24-hour news cycle is that politics have become unendingly corrupted. Remember this: just because the Republican party keeps getting in the news by repeating the words, "The American people do not want health care reform," does not make those words true. That is the point of living in a democracy: we tell the politicians what we want, not the other way around.

My next post will be more on my thoughts about democracy and America. Expect it when you see it.

How to Kill Fox News

This is something I've been thinking about for some time, but it finally crystallized just now while reading What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. The book is about new business models versus the old. Openness vs. closed environments. Google vs. the world. Jarvis makes the point that the old way of corporations, in which they create something where "Companies own customers, control distribution, make exclusive deals, lock out competitors, [and] keep trade secrets," is no longer how to succeed, because the Internet has destroyed that paradigm. The Internet has empowered consumers. The blogosphere can alternately destroy or create companies based on what we say, and how the crowd gathers around a certain topic. To this end, we as consumers must take control over the power we wield, and we must take responsibility to drive out individuals, companies or products that we deem to be destructive to what we want for the future.

Obviously, and most detrimental to this undertaking, knowledge is power. Not just knowledge of the situation and subjects, but knowledge of those running counter to us, and how they may use misinformation or distractions to lead us to give them what they want, and, we must also have full knowledge about how our actions truly effect the situation. In many cases, gathering a group around an issue will effect that issue in direct relation to the spirit of the gathering (ie. support leads to positive effects, and opposition will lead to negative effects for the target.) But, the key that people forget with this line of thinking is that those effects are tied directly to the culture of payment in question. For example, if a group gathers around the recent issue with Toyota car safety, that group can directly impact Toyota because ultimately we, as consumers, decide whether or not to buy a Toyota. However, in the case of media, all groups lead to a positive effect for the target, except for a group of boycotters.

This connects me to the Limbaugh Corollary (alternately the Howard Stern Corollary, or Fox News Corollary.) When it comes to media, all attention, good or bad, is ultimately good for the target. If you love Rush Limbaugh, aside from being willfully ignorant on issues, you will listen to him and you will tell others to listen, leading to better ratings and more advertising revenue for Rush. However, the problem arises in that most people who hate Limbaugh will listen because they "want to know what he's going to say," thus making his comments newsworthy to those who don't agree with him, their friends, and on until reputable news sources are even guilty of spreading links to content that is better off ignored.

I understand that even writing this blog connects me to this vicious circle, but only in the hopes that I may convince more like-minded people to follow my path. Because in the end, you cannot fight misinformation with the truth when the misinformation is being promulgated by everyone. If you want to go to every supporter of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, you'll have far more luck. Because the only thing that will kill Fox News and Limbaugh is if we all ignore them, and urge other influential sources to do the same. We all have to realize that Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are not pushing content that they actually believe in, they are simply pushing content that they know will sell. Whether or not Limbaugh or Hannity believe the bile that they spew forth is irrelevant. All that matters to them is growing their audience, and if you are part of their audience, you are part of the problem, in my opinion.

As Jeff Jarvis sums up so well: If I link to a story, "I'm recommending that you watch it. Even if I criticize the show, I'm saying there's something worth seeing and discussing." There is nothing worth seeing or discussing with partisan so-called "news", this includes MSNBC just as much as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. But, I'm willing to bet if you tracked the stories on both networks, MSNBC runs stories on Fox News much more often than Fox covers what's said on MSNBC. And, in the end, all that does is bring more of the conversation towards Fox News.

Probably the best option would be to enact laws similar to England, where such stations wouldn't legally be able to call themselves "news" organizations, but rather "entertainment" (one reason why BBC is one of the best true "news" organizations in the world,) but I have no faith in that ever coming to pass, because the people would never support government intervention into media like that. So, that leaves the work to us, and it's not really difficult work. All you have to do is ignore it, don't support it, and don't support any supposed "news" outlet that does.

The Girlfriend Experience

"The Girlfriend Experience" is fucking brilliant. It's slow, but beautiful.

1) The cinematography is used beautifully. In general, the movie is shot in normal color, but with lots of silhouettes or shadowed faces on a bright background, except when the lead girl (no idea what her name is in the movie) and her boyfriend are together, when it shifts to a bright sepia color scheme.

And the framing of the shots is also fantastic. At the beginning of the movie, it is mostly mid-zoom two shots, almost no close-ups (perfect idea when your lead is a porn star, good way to hide her acting), and certainly no extreme close-ups. But, as the movie progresses and you get a more intimate knowledge of the characters, the camera actually pulls back to more long shots (again, perfectly obscuring your lead actress' acting skills in long shot partial silhouettes during the most interesting emotional moments.)

2) The story is amazing, and the characters are wonderful. The transformation in the lead girl, and her relationship with her boyfriend is very intimate and moving. At first, because of the closer camera angles, we physically can't see the situation the girl is living in, we really only see where she is on these "dates" she goes on, but as the camera pulls back, we see that she has quite an affluent lifestyle (especially when shown in contrast to her boyfriend). Suddenly, as we see her apartment, and her shopping trips, and where she goes to the gym, we can understand how well she is doing for herself. But, as we go we are also shown how, she is really just a lower level escort. She still can climb a long way.

This shift in how we see her lifestyle also changes how we see the clients she has. At first, it seems like these guys she is with are big time businessmen, in the upper levels of society. But, as we understand more the money level she is at, we understand more that these men are not social elites. These are just men who are looking for something in their lives. Again, she has a long way that she can climb in her profession.

The story is shot in a way that feels closer to life than most. Because the visuals are so spot on, I attribute this more to the sound design. The sound levels are such that you can hear a lot of the background noises (forks on plates, etc.) much more than in most movies. So, even though visually it is slick, the sound of the movie is closer to a home movie, and this makes it more intimate, but it also is another trick that helps you forgive some of the leading lady's lack of acting skills.

Of course, by now I've taken a couple of jabs at Sasha Grey's acting skills, but honestly, even taking out the camera and sound trickery, she did a pretty good job. She may not be an award winner, but she's at least on par with "actresses" that just play themselves in every role (see: Lindsey Lohan, Tara Reid, et al.) and for a porn star, that's pretty elite acting territory. I can't imagine her straying to far from a subtle role of playing a high-class hooker, but she did well for herself.

The movie started slow, but it built its way up and ended up surprising me. I'd give it 3.5 stars.

(I need something better than stars, by which I can rate movies. (There must be a better way to make that sentence come out grammatically correct.)

Game controllers

Kotaku - In Defense Of The Classic Controller - Project Natal

Admittedly, I didn't read this article, but based on the title, I assume that I agree. Here's my thinking: making games accessible to everyone means that you also have to change the types of games you make. It's the same reason why I will never own a Wii, or if I do buy a Wii, it won't be for myself, it will be for my girlfriend or for when we have guests over. I would never play a Wii while at home alone. Never, ever. There is absolutely no fun in motion control unless it is a social situation, because it's bad enough to look like a goofball when others are doing the same thing.

But really, it's not even the waggle controls that get me, it's the fact that the games created for the Wii are not fun games. Well, they are fun in extremely short bursts, when playing in a group, but I cannot imagine a situation where I would play any of those games for an extended period of time. The graphics, gameplay and story just aren't there. Sure, there's always Mario and Link and Metroid, but once you get past that, what do you have? Oh! Another game with Mario in it? Yippee! Fuck that. I have a PS3 because I want to play games that pull me in. Earlier today, I was playing Bioshock and I was totally immersed. When a freaky bitch threw a corpse at me to distract me as she pulled out a metal pipe and charged at me, I was honestly freaked the fuck out. If there were a similar situation on Wii, I would be pulled out of the moment, because my instinct with a Wiimote would be to swing it like a pipe to defend myself, but the game wouldn't allow that, because as a first person shooter, the pointer would be mapped to my view, so the camera would just swing around wildly. Or alternatively, I wouldn't be immersed in the first place, because a situation like that would NEVER FUCKING HAPPEN on the Wii. Did you read the description of what happened? A fucking crazy bitch THREW A CORPSE AT ME before she charged me with a pipe.

When you start making games "accessible" to everyone, that means the content becomes pop, which means anything truly artistic, controversial, thought-provoking or offensive (read: interesting) gets stripped out so it will be something everyone can enjoy.

Aside from that, one thing I love about classic controls is that with a simple press of a button, I can do amazing things that I could never do in real life. And this concept isn't just limited to killing zombies, or running across walls, or throwing fireballs, but to things like hitting a golf ball properly, or pulling a sweet crossover to drive in for a layup. I have tried playing golf on the Wii and it is just as frustrating and annoying as real golf. That is not fun. Not even a little bit. And now with Wii Motion Plus, I can only imagine it would be even worse.

I play games for the same reason I watch movies or read books: it's a form of escapism, and when done well it can be just as amazing an experience as any other well told story. Sure, sometimes I play just to have fun, but there still needs to be something interesting, and it is rare that I find anything pop to be interesting any more.


My Bobby

I had attempted to write this post on my iPhone right after posting that last blurb, but after getting about halfway through, I noticed that there was no "save" button and lost everything. Stupid glitch. Anyway, here's take 2:

It all starts with Craigslist. A couple weeks ago I was glancing through the postings in the Writing/Editing section of job in Boston and I came across a listing looking for "7 writers to work on screenplays and novels". It sounded interesting, and I've been wanting to get back into writing more, so I sent off my resume.

The following Sunday at 8:15AM, I get a call from a guy named Johnny. He begins the conversation, with no regard for the fact that I'm still mostly asleep, by telling me that he has just gotten out of prison. He had been in prison for 12 years, on charges that were not discussed, though he did admit to having been in the mafia and to being a mercenary. His voice does not lead me to doubt this information at all. He speaks with the oddly mixed accent of an Italian gangster who has grown up in Boston. He goes on to tell me about how he has all of these ideas for stories, but he is cursed with being a terrible writer, so he decided to post on Craigslist. He said, "I only expected to get about a dozen responses, but I've gotten hundreds!" Never underestimate the number of wannabe writers in the world.

At this point, I'm still half asleep and skeptical of the whole situation, but amused and interested in the ridiculousness of the situation. He starts to lay out the framework of about 4 different story ideas, and while a couple weren't very original, the stories had heart. I got the undeniable sense that this guy was really serious about doing this thing. A couple of the stories sounded like things I could do, and he mentioned some children's stories, which also piqued my interest. So, I set up a time to meet him. If for nothing else than to meet the guy and be able to tell that story.

I reserve a Zipcar, and head up to Wakefield on Wednesday two weeks ago. Knowing only that I'm meeting Johnny at a deli, there are a couple other writers scheduled to be there, and that the guy is "very tanned". That last bit turned out to be somewhat of an understatement. Johnny looks like he is made out of the leather from cowboy boots that have been left in the Arizona sun for a few years. He smells like it too. He's got white hair, and gold rings on each pinky, and seems to only wear button up shirts that are only buttoned about half way.

At first, it's just me and a girl named Julie there to meet Johnny. Johnny starts out this meeting by saying, "The literary world is the hardest job I've ever tried to get into. People keep telling me, 'These guys are cut-throat. It's tough.' But, I'm not scared of anything. When you have the blood of over a hundred men on your hands, you lose your fear. You lose your envy. Why envy the guy when you know, 'I can kill him'?"

I'm not sure how he managed it, but Johnny was able to seamlessly segue into the story ideas from there. Again the ideas were good, some were pretty generic, but there were some really solid stories too. And in all there was a hint of old school racism, like "a black guy who stutters, but is hung like a horse," or "a Chinaman that no one can understand what he's saying." It's all harmless until the third writer shows up, a black guy named Will, who has been doing some work in film in the area (check out the site for a movie he worked on "Business is War".)

Suddenly, the story ideas get subtly altered, and Johnny is now talking about "a Chinaman talking like ching chang chung," and "a guy who stutters." It got a little awkward because Johnny has no idea about the writing process and got down on Will for "being negative" simply because Will was asking questions on target audiences and such. A slightly confused and defensive ex-merc is an odd thing to see.

It did lead to another interesting bought as Johnny started to explain his start in the mafia (only tangentially related to one of the story ideas). He started doing favors for his grandfather and grandfather's friends when he was 5 or 6. Just the tips from these favors was making him about 20 dollars a day, while his father, who worked in a factory, made about $22 a week. By the age of 14, he was being asked to beat kids up. By 16, he was asked to stab people, because it was still a juvenile offense and he wouldn't go to jail. By 18, he was a killer. And in his 20s he was making about $4,000 a week.

Everything got pretty squared away, and we all thought things were just about done, when Johnny decides he needs to elaborate on one story about male divorcees. For some reason, Johnny felt the need to talk about the guys' sexual exploits in the story, but somehow got sidetracked into saying, "I used to ask every girl I met, 'Can I fuck you in the ass? Can I fuck you in the ass?' Then, I went to the doctor and I had to get a prostate exam. The nurse takes this stick about this big (miming something a little thicker and longer than a drinking straw) and shoves it in my ass. And, that thing feels like it's this big (miming something about the size of a tube of Pilsbury cookie dough.) I was like, Jesus! I never asked a girl to fuck in the ass ever again."

This was the end of a two hour meeting. I was assigned to work on a story with Julie (though luckily that partnership was basically disbanded in our last meeting.) I can't say why, but I just don't like that girl. She seems like too much of a kiss ass. No good stories from the last meeting with Johnny, but I'm excited to write the story I've been given, and to see what other ridiculousness comes from having met this guy.

Keep trying

As tends to happen to me all of the time, I've fallen out of the habit of writing. I'm finding more and more that things I would want to put into a blog post end up being just emails to friends. Basically I just want to know that what I write is being read.

If I write a blog post, I have no idea who, if anyone reads it. This was slightly better back in the LiveJournal days because of commenting, but I got so few comments that it didn't make much difference in the long run. With an email I can be almost 100% sure that my thoughts are at least being read (with the notible exception of anything I send to the Kid which will likely be read but not in a worthwhile time frame). And of course much of the time I will receive replies to the emails, this completing the social interaction and making he whole experience much more fulfilling than blogging.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I'm planning to occupy this space again and more often. The likelihood is that I'll still send the emails so this space may be repetitive for certain people, but I plan to expand things here more than I might in an email. Because we all know that if the email is too long, it won't get read.

I'm gonna end this one now because I have a story to tell so I want to start a new post for that.

NBA Draft

I just pulled this from the e-mail conversation on ESPN between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell:
Gladwell: "The consistent failure of underdogs in professional sports to even try something new suggests, to me, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the incentive structure of the leagues. I think, for example, that the idea of ranking draft picks in reverse order of finish -- as much as it sounds "fair" -- does untold damage to the game. You simply cannot have a system that rewards anyone, ever, for losing. Economists worry about this all the time, when they talk about "moral hazard." Moral hazard is the idea that if you insure someone against risk, you will make risky behavior more likely. So if you always bail out the banks when they take absurd risks and do stupid things, they are going to keep on taking absurd risks and doing stupid things. Bailouts create moral hazard. Moral hazard is also why your health insurance has a co-pay. If your insurer paid for everything, the theory goes, it would encourage you to go to the doctor when you really don't need to. No economist in his right mind would ever endorse the football and basketball drafts the way they are structured now. They are a moral hazard in spades. If you give me a lottery pick for being an atrocious GM, where's my incentive not to be an atrocious GM?


I think the only way around the problem is to put every team in the lottery. Every team's name gets put in a hat, and you get assigned your draft position by chance. Does that, theoretically, make it harder for weaker teams to improve their chances against stronger teams? I don't think so. First of all, the principal engine of parity in the modern era is the salary cap, not the draft. And in any case, if the reverse-order draft is such a great leveler, then why are the same teams at the bottom of both the NFL and NBA year after year? The current system perpetuates the myth that access to top picks is the primary determinant of competitiveness in pro sports, and that's simply not true. Success is a function of the quality of the organization.


Another more radical idea is that you do a full lottery only every second year, or three out of four years, and in the off year make draft position in order of finish. Best teams pick first. How fun would that be? Every meaningless end-of-season game now becomes instantly meaningful. If you were the Minnesota Timberwolves, you would realize that unless you did something really drastic -- like hire some random sports writer as your GM, or bring in Pitino to design a special-press squad -- you would never climb out of the cellar again. And in a year with a can't-miss No. 1 pick, having the best record in the regular season becomes hugely important. What do you think?"


----------


I don' t know about pushing it to only having the lottery every other year, but full randomness in the lottery is actually pretty interesting.  Because I think he is right on the fact that the salary cap is the real determinant of success. The Lakers are always going to spend a lot, and they are always on top. The Knicks are starting to use their money wisely, and I like the way the future looks. The Spurs haven't really bothered with the draft since Tim Duncan, and they are consistently a top level team. While on the other side, Toronto and Milwaukee, Minnesota, Memphis, the Clippers and Golden State don't spend money, rely on the draft or spend their money unwisely and are consistently disappointing. I like how the future looks for Memphis and Toronto, but do we really expect them to be able to resign Gay, Mayo, or Bosh?


If teams aren't willing to spend money on 3 key guys needed to win, why reward them for losing the most? Maybe a better idea than either that Gladwell proposes would be to rank the lottery chances in order not reverse order. Give the teams who are on the fringe of making the playoffs like Indiana, Charlotte and Phoenix the best chance at the top picks, so teams won't routinely be stuck at the bottom with talent who don't want to be there. Give all the teams incentive to win, and make the top picks worth more because it could really mean the difference between making the playoffs and not.



Does this work to get a free PS3?

http://www.YourPS34free.com/index.php?ref=5569778

I found this, and I'm curious if it really works. If anyone has tried it: is it a scam or not? If anyone wants to help me out in giving this a real world test, there are a bunch of free trials and such that you can sign up for (with Blockbuster or Netflix or Gamefly), so it won't cost you much if anything.

The reasoning behind why it should work makes a bit of sense, but I just wanted to give it a real world attempt or get feedback from someone who has tried it. Supposedly, the company can afford to do this because most people never finish the process, so the company rakes in the advertising and referral commissions, but doesn't have to send out many PS3s.

If you want to help me out


Step 1: Click this link http:

http://www.YourPS34free.com/index.php?ref=5569778

Step 2: Sign up and chose an account type (Referral is the easiest and
best).

Step 3: Complete just 1 offer (like Blockbuster or Stamps.com) and refer
up to 13 people to do the same (use eBay! Do what I did, copy my ad).

Step 4: Receive your PS3 System for FREE (Even The Shipping Is
Free)

For proof that this is for real, click on the link below. It's the
company that is behind everything.

http://www.trainn.org/reviews.php


Thanks for helping.

My "Boss"

Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit of a dick to my "boss" or supervisor or whatever the hell he is. Just now, he came down to check in and see how I was doing, and towards the end of the conversation, I turned to my computer and started doing work. I didn't specifically mean it to be a gesture of "I'm done with this conversation", it was supposed to be more of a gesture like "My job is so fucking easy that I can do it while having a conversation, watching a movie, and rolling a blunt at the same time." 

The reason I feel like a bit of a dick is because my boss is so socially awkward that I feel like it's my job to put a difinitive period at the end of a conversation, because he will inevitably draw it out far too long with "ums" and "errrs" and other noises made by someone who has only truly learned to socialize with machinery involved. At one point in the conversation, he pulled out his iPhone under the pretext that he was checking the calendar, but really I was asking too many questions and he was feeling scared and in need of a techno-blanky. 

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no social phenom. I'm awful in big groups or loud spaces. I'm making slow progress, but still not the best with new people even in a small setting. But, I still understand the basics of human interaction and I can mimic the actions of a fully functioning cog of society. So, when confronted with someone who is so lost around other people, in a job where it is his job to manage a small number of people (I'm starting to think that I may be the only one,) I feel kind of bad for the guy. 

I should get back to work now.

iPhone in Japan

No surprise but the iPhone is a phenomenon everywhere except in Japan. Of course, the great 3G network in Japan makes it the perfect place, but unfortunately there are four things that Apple needs to do to make the iPhone sell in Japan.

1) Add MMS and make the SMS more robust. Maybe MMS is unnecessary because all Japanese cell phones come standard with email, but it's still a good feature that is missing. The real problem is the SMS. There are no options to forward messages or send messages to multiple people. This desperately needs a fix.

2) Upgrade the camera. A cell phone is the primary camera for most people in Japan, so 2 megapixels and no video just doesn't cut it.

3) 1seg TV antenna support. TV on the cell is huge because of all the time people spend on the train. Sure, he iPhone has video playback and you can buy stuff on iTunes, but that's no replacement for watching a live baseball game on your phone.

4) There needs to be a small notch cut into the side of the phone to accommodate cell phone bling. Everyone and their mothers puts danglies on their phones. The more the better.

That's all the iPhone needs in my opinion. The apps, maps and other functions are miles ahead of anything you find on a "futuristic" Japanese phone and emoticons are coming this month, so Jgirls can be all fucking cutesy with their messaging.

Oh yeah and marketing. In the weeks leading up to launch I saw no iPhone ads. People won't buy what they don't know about.

Missing the roar

Every once in awhile, I get the feeling that I miss Osaka. But that's not really true it's more than I  just miss living in a big city. Of course living in a city is very convenient there's stores everywhere and especially in Japan public transportation is fantastic. Now here in Waltham, the buses don't run very often the training also doesn't run very often and it takes a while to get anywhere good. So it's just not as but it's it's a very beautiful place clients are apartment is very nice and of course it's America everyone  well almost everyone speaks English so very no communication problems in the morning most of what I find that I miss is just simple conveniences of living in a city of course I'll so do miss my friends from Japan's I get to talk to them every once in a while end up meeting new well not really meeting new people here but I have no friends in the area and close in a the cellular telephone

I'm not going to edit this entry at all I've written this entire thing using a patient and software that I got. I just want to see how it works and what I need to do when speaking in order to make it works as best as it can just looking back so far I can see that I need to start saying my punctuation, so instead of saying I want to do this I need to say  ",". Otherwise the accuracy of the program is very good so it should should be very good for different things and  I will give it to Nadja (have to teach it to understand her name) so that she can type out her or her well-known type puts a speak her dictate her papers.

The only problem with dictation from me is that I tend to repeat myself or stutter us a little bit which comes out awkwardly and dictation but it is faster so editing will be easier