Saturday, May 29, 2010

Random Stuff and The Curse of the Murse

This will be a long one. You have been warned.

Geek Speak
I'm trying something a little different and putting the cartoon first. Also, this post really did go a lot longer than I thought it would. If I like this layout I may stick with it. Regarding the cartoon, it doesn't take a lot of explanation; my wife referred to my laptop case as a "murse" and I thought that was funny. This comic leaped fully formed from my head onto the page, much like the birth of a Greek God, but with less pathos or promiscuity.

Geek Speak

Questionable Content:
Do not read this blog go to this website, click the "First" link and start reading: This comic has effectively devoured most of my day today and a fair number of my evenings this week. There are a LOT of jokes about indie rock, most of which fly right over my head, but the rest of the time it's mostly about the characters, their relationships, and shenanigans.

Random thought of the day:
I've decided that burnt orange is not a color. It's an extrusion into our dimension of some elder evil entity, perverting the world through grandmothers who buy shirts of this hue for unsuspecting grandchildren. This subtle devil then so corrupts these helpless little old ladies into insisting their children wear the Shirt of the Abominable Shade to family gatherings. Be warned. Your cousin in that awful shirt at the family reunion is actually robed in pure evil. 

Apple Shenanigans, or Everyone Should be Very, Very Afraid of Apple and The Jobs
The fervor over all things Apple is driving me bananas. I have a number of friends who will disagree with this, but I cannot wait for this apple fad to die. Do I have anything in particular against Mac, per se? No. Why would I? A Mac is a thing. It cares about my grudges about as much as I might care about hatred directed at me from a coffee table. As an operating system Mac is ok, I've just never seen anything in it that I found to be a terribly compelling reason to switch. Do I have a problem with any of their products? For the most part, no. They make decent computers and some fun toys (let's just be honest here; the iPad is more a toy than a tool). My problems with Apple have more to do with the company than what they sell. Here are just some general thoughts:
  • Overall misrepresentation of their products. The Macbook Pro, for example, is running an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor (the new models, any purchased before 2010 were running the older Core 2 Duo). Apple would like you to believe that Macs are somehow different, or special, or in a class by themselves. They're not. For the most part, they're using the same hardware you'll find in any mid-to-high end PC running Windows. Since Apple started using Intel components there is virtually no difference between a Mac and PC under the hood! In fact, I could easily run Mac OS X instead of Windows 7 on the computer I just built. Make no mistake, all Apple is peddling is their bullshit aesthetic.
  • Misrepresentation of system security. One of the selling points touted by The Jobs and the Disciples of Apple (DoA) is the apparent security of Mac over Windows. "Mac's don't need anti-virus," is the battle cry of DoA, worldwide. This loses some credibility when hackers at CanSecWest exploit vulnerabilities in Mac OS and Safari, bringing down the Mac within minutes on a pretty consistent basis. As the Mac star continues to rise the DoA can only rely on 'security through obscurity' so much longer. 
  • Draconian user and developer agreements. No shit; the developer agreement for programmers wanting to create apps for the iPad not only required the development device to be secured to a table, but the goddamn table to be bolted to the floor. That's just the tip of the Jobsian iceberg. There are other things, as well. Programmers can develop using only one language set. Programmers can only develop apps using certain development tool kits. The list goes on. 
  • Media control. Given the requirements for the iPad how does Apple allow a developer working for them to wander off campus with a prototype of the next iPhone in his pocket. When said developer then gets drunk and loses it at a bar, how does Apple then not take him out back and behead him slowly using dental floss? How does something like this just happen at a time that it can steal all the press away from HTC's launch of the Droid Incredible? The world may never know, but I like to picture The Jobs sitting behind a massive white desk with no hard edges stroking a genetically engineered hypo-allergenic cat that doesn't shed on his black turtlenecks and muttering things like, "soon my pet, soon, it will all be ours."
  • Unprecedented control over delivery channels and the developer community. This, seriously, this gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. Let's follow this as logically as possible:
    1. Apple under the direction of The Jobs releases the iPod. After a rocky start it crushes all other portable media devices. Hell, even I have one. Like I said, I don't have anything against the products, and they make some nice toys. 
    2. iTunes, despite having serious performance issues and a number of other, even more aggravating flaws, becomes the number one seller of music in the country. 
    3. With the massive success of the iPod, followed by the iPod touch, Apple launches the iPhone. Despite a rocky start due to bad design and poor service from AT&T, the iPhone goes on to become wildly popular.
    4. The Apps Store opens up marking the availability of an unprecedented means to consume content on a portable device. The rallying cry of Apple becomes, "We have 200,000 Apps! What have you got?"
    5. Apple launches the iPad a device meant solely for wireless media and content consumption. A battle begins with Apple's once good friend, Adobe, over Flash support. Apple refuses to support Flash, claiming that everything can be accomplished through HTML 5, javascript, and CSS. These are standards, it should be pointed out, that are (as yet) unsupported in the majority of Internet browsers. It should also be pointed out that while most video is encoded in H.264 (Apple's 'open standard' poster boy), it is displayed in a Flash container.
  • Do you see what's happening here. Slowly, incrementally, and in collusion with consumers (with or without their knowledge), Apple is gaining control over the standards under which content is developed, the delivery mechanism for the content, and the means in which the content is consumed. If their management of apps in the App Store is any indication they are also well on their way to controlling the content itself. We've actually started to see them exert this influence with actions such as going to the recording industry and telling that bag of assholes (I have no love for the RIAA, either) they would not carry any music in iTunes that was also made available in other delivery mechanisms. While they didn't name any names, this was pointed at Amazon, the number two music sales vehicle in the country. 
So the bottom line of this whole thing is we are very much in danger of allowing Apple and, by extension, The Jobs, to take control over what we see, how we see it, and where it comes from.  Scary stuff.