Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Priceless Piracy

Season 1 of Man vs Cartoon on iTunes

Trying (and failing) to convert to non-DRM format
1 hr

Trying (and failing) to find a way to burn DRM videos to DVD
45 mins

Tearing your house apart to find external speakers since you'll HAVE to watch it on your computer
30 mins

Being able to pirate the shows you like


There are some things that money can buy.... but the free version is usually better

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Twitter: Example of a failing race

First of all I want to say that this post is nothing negative towards Twitter as a service, company, or concept. I love Twitter and I still continue to embrace it (even if it is sometimes unreliable). What this post is about is how the human race continues to self-destruct because of a growing "logic" that is counter to what we are designed for.

When I first started using Twitter it was only because I thought it would be a way of updating my clients to let them know which building I was in and whether I was able to take on extra projects that day. As for the concept of Twitter, I thought it was absolutely retarded. I had the reaction that pretty much everyone that hasn't tried Twitter has: "Why do I care that someone is eating a cheese sandwhich?" It wasn't until I set up my Twitter account that I realized the community was a breeding ground for very strong relationships because what everyone's tweets were was simply daily life. It was them in a very unfiltered way. Because of this you start to understand a lot more about people and you find ways to connect with them that you never would have in any other fashion. Sure there are blogs but the majority of blogs are passed through our internal editor (aka, IMO, the frontal lobe) and is dulled down and made to be exciting or made to hide true emotions. It wasn't until what happened with the Frozen Pea Fund that I fully realized the potential of what the community inside of Twitter held. A couple years ago everyone would have said it was crazy to want to tell the world that you are holding a bag of frozen peas against your breasts.... but now we see where the "stupid" little things make a huge difference when a single tweet, stating just that, launched a movement that has raised many of thousands of dollars for breast cancer research.

But what happened? One of my tweets last night said "Starting to feel like I'm tweeting to the wall".... and I started thinking about that. Twitter used to be a place where I had a lot of encouragement when I was down. If I said something was bugging me, there were people that responded with advice or even just a simple "I'm thinking of you" but now I notice less and less replies to anything that I am saying. Interestingly enough, I start feeling this way around the same time that "Follow Spam" is becoming a heated topic. On top of that, it seems like the people that embraced Twitter for the community that it was are now more concerned about their "numbers" than about what is actually going on in people's lives. The concept of more followers is interpreted as cash value to so many people now and it's gone so far as someone selling their Twitter account on eBay.

So now it appears that Twitter has progressed into a medium to make money while losing the concept of community and compassion that was what brought people to Twitter in the first place. I think its great that there are people who have Twitter accounts to broadcast news and I think its great when a person shares a story that really jumps out at them because these are all part of the community but where the community is starting to self-destruct is when the focus becomes getting more followers rather than recognizing the followers that you do have. More and more tweets are being consumed by "I'm almost at 500 followers and need 8 more" while 492 people now don't matter because they already are a follower. Of course once you have someone following you it's rude not to follow them and now it's also a sure sign of many spammers so you, in turn, have to follow the 500 people that are following you and, in doing so, you eliminate the ability to genuinely care about the people you follow simply because you are overloaded and don't have the time to care about the person that is eating the cheese sandwhich and we revert back to life before Twitter except that now we drive ourselves to post tweets and now it's another "task" that we have to do rather than something we want to do.

The whole timeline of Twitter has displayed exactly why we, as humans, simply can't seem to be happy anymore. We focus on everything in ways that it can be turned into money, add stress to our lives, and lose any kind of compassion that we have on anyone else. Interestingly enough I think the reason why Twitter and just about any other social network gains such a following in the beginning is because our human emotions are so starved for interaction in this face paced world. Social networking allows us to interact with real humans while being "on the go" but the problem is that the world teaches us that the most important thing is to make money so we end up self-destructing any process that gives us that interaction by trying to monetize the most important thing to the human race: emotional stimulation. Once emotional stimulation is monetized it becomes a job rather than an enjoyment.

In 1997 after Steve Jobs rejoined Apple Computer, he made an annoucement at his keynote that Apple Computer was joining forces with Microsoft. Steve, who has an almost cult-like following, was literally booed. Steve's response was "we have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose". Steve went on to say if someone wants to help them then that's great because they need all they help they can get. The reality of the human race is just that. We all truly do need all the help we can get. I don't care how much money you make or what you have -- you still need other people's help and they need yours. When those 492 people don't matter because you are trying to get a mere 8 more and you focus on those 8 people you are trading 492 people that could potentially be those that will help you in exchange for only 8. It's so true that everyone's focus is on acquiring more that they lose any consideration to what they do have and it creates a perpetual greed cycle which, sadly, is becomming just as true with regards to emotions and compassion than it is with money.

Our society certainly is self-destructing and we're doing it because we turn our advancements into things that only set us back because the prize is always what is ahead and never what is already there. We're in a vicious cycle that is only gaining more and more force with each advancement and, while we are solving one or two problems with advancements, we are creating 5 more. The end result is that we display an image of advancement but in each person's lives we realize that it really is just that: nothing more than an image.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacWorld Keynote - Disappointing and Scary

Steve Jobs just announced the MacBook Air at Macworld. This is something that I had been looking forward to seeing but now that it's announced, its really nothing that I'm interested in -- in the slightest bit.

In the past year Apple has become obsessed with making thinner and thinner machines. It started with the iMac (seriously, a desktop needs to be super thin?) and now it seems to be the only thing they were really interested in with the MacBook Air. Now, I give it the lightness factor. The weight of a portable device is a concern but the thickness of a machine does not directly affect weight - especially if you're using aluminum. The worst part of the whole announcement is that it's got a 13" screen - same size as the regular MacBook.

The machine is going to have a 1.8" hard drive which simply can not perform like a 2.5 or a 3.5 drive can. They are great drives for iPods but not for computers. My favorite lightweight solution is by far the Fujitsu Lifebook machines which also carry 1.8" hard drives and this is a notable performance decrease. The thing is, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. With the MacBook Air you still have a machine with the same footprint. Not only is that the case but the machine is thinner and this creates an issue with durability. This is a physics thing, really. The thinner something gets, the less durable it can be. Last I checked, if you're looking for a machine that is lightweight its because you're going to be carrying it with you. This means it will be in various types of bags, will have the chance to fall off numerous tables and chairs, and come in contact with many different people including children. If you can fit all that stuff in something that will fit in an envelope, why not keep it the same thickness and move it down to a 10" form factor and still have the same weight while adding a 2.5" hard drive back in. That's portability and a little more durable.

Among other announcements was the Time Capsule. This is basically an Airport with a built in hard drive. Ok, its a decent idea but the question that comes to my mind is why did the ability to talk to remote disks disappear from Time Machine. According to Apple it was because of instability. Sadly, we believed them. Now they announce that it will work with their new Time Capsule but not for other disks. How does this not work over wired ethernet with other computers but it works fine with apple's disk over wireless? If your talking about data integrity (which Apple was) then you're definately more solid on a wired connection. It really has the taste of "hey thats great that time machine can do that but let's cripple it so we can sell a device later".

I have to admit I do like the announcements regarding iTunes and AppleTV. I think there is potential there. I'm not at the point of buying an AppleTV but with my ever-growing hatred for Comcast, I am keeping my eyes open to alternatives.

Overall, this day has been very sad for me. What I have somewhat feared is starting to show it's face and I hope that it gets put back under the consumer's control. Apple has shown examples of Microsoft-like practices. These tactics aren't what rebuilt Apple into what it is today and, while it's not going to immediately hurt them, it will start building animosity towards a company that will later be in control of everything and have the average consumer trapped.

I like Apple... I'm sticking with OSX... I just think I'm going to keep an active eye on what's going on from here on out.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

iBook sex


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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ok, well... it's official.... the sidekick is going back. It absolutely amazes me at how idiotic companies can be at times. The sidekick is a perfect parallel of what the RIAA is doing to music.... cripple things so much that it's not even functional because you see something that can make more money.... lock the shit down so that people are forced to buy $5 applications for everything and force thousands of potential customers away. Then, completely ignore the fact that not everyone uses windows and outlook...

There are a lot of issues with the SK3 for me.... Now, I will admit that the SK3 is a great phone for the non-geek and someone who is attached to microsoft's nipple. It has a lot of cool features to it -- and the $20 a month for both unlimited data and unlimited text messaging is awesome. The problem is that the people that rely on the additional services that a "smart phone" offers will gain absolutely nothing from the SK3. Basically, if you don't realize you can check email and surf the web on the phone, the SK3 is going to be amazing.... but if you understand the technology, the SK3 will do nothing more than piss you off.

And the biggest complaint of all - no IMAP support! Ok, yes, the "box" says that it support IMAP but all it can do is download messages from your inbox. It does not talk back to the server and mark messages as read, read folders on your IMAP server, or even store sent messages on the server... It is 100% pointless as an IMAP client.

Oh... and get this one... a new feature in the sidekick 3 that wasn't in the sidekick 2.... a USB cable! But wait.... all the USB cable does is allows you to use your SK3 as a card reader. Yup... no syncing or anything via the USB cable... just copy your mp3's over to your card so you can listen to them (and I mean listen - not use them as a ringtone because that would mean you wouldnt buy their 20 second version of the same song for $2)

Bluetooth? Yea... if you use a headset it works.... but forget doing anything else with it... it ONLY supports headsets -- absolutely nothing else. No file transfer (not even to the SD card), no modem use.... NOTHING. It's nice to see universal protocols adapted so that they will only work with one feature.... it's incredible.

Did I mention it doesnt work with Mac OSX and doesn't have IMAP support?

The most upsetting thing about all of this is that the sidekick has so much potential but the problem is that, like so many other corporations, the belief is that you have to cripple things and force people to buy them -- thus making the product absolutely worthless.

I set up my T-Mobile account because the SK data plan would have saved me $40 a month... any other phone with T-Mobile really (afaik) won't save me much, if any, money at all.... so I guess I'll be sticking with Cingular a while longer.... maybe I'll end up with an iPhone? Well, the issue with that is whether or not it will have an SSH client or anything else useful..... for now I'll be using my Nokia -- from yet ANOTHER company that refuses to interact with anything other than Microsoft's nipple but at least has enough sense to let there be some back doors and loophole's that those using Macs and Linux can actually function.

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RIAA VP Calls Steve Jobs "Hypocrite";
Tries To Punch Him At Recess

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Monday, April 02, 2007

Apple Press Release

iTunes will offer EMI Music DRM-Free in May

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I am unsure of whether I am becoming trendy or just feeding my new-found Apple addiction, but I just placed my order for an iPod. I'm getting a refurbished 40GB iPod w/ Click Wheel and Dock.... The Apple store's refurb center has them for $130 so I figured what the heck?

Ok, stop laughing! :)

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(C)2003-2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved

(C)2008, Bob K Mertz - Some Rights Reserved
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