Why ask why

Uncle Walter has reviewed a new thing called the “Eee Pad Transformer Prime”. In his review, he said:

Asus and Nvidia build in three battery modes, and I tested only the one called Normal. Unfortunately, Nvidia now says that nomenclature is misleading, and that Normal is really meant for only high-performance tasks. So, early next year, when it switches to the next version of Android, it plans to rename Normal as “Performance,” to steer users to a less power-hungry mode called “Balanced.” I can’t say how the Prime’s battery will perform in that scenario with the new OS.

Ben Brooks asked:

Why ship the tablet with a battery mode mislabeled?

A better question might be, why ship a tablet with a battery mode?

Things I do in the morning

  • Catch up on Facebook
  • Catch up on Twitter
  • Catch up on Tumblr
  • Catch up on my RSS subscriptions
  • Look at few blogs I like enough to check-in on but not enough to add to my RSS subscriptions
  • Catch up on unread emails
  • Look at my calendar, think about my day
  • Eat a bagel

All while listening to NPR. Even though it’s begging for money.

Is it any wonder I hardly ever read the NYTimes anymore?

Crazy ones

I’ve seen many, many comparisons of Steve Jobs to the likes of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison in the past few days, but only one so far to the guy I think he most closely resembles in American life: Walt Disney.

Surely, Ford was an innovator as was Jobs. Edison was an inventor as, in a different way perhaps, was Jobs. But neither of those men, with their impressive catalog of achievements, had the same kind of emotional connection that Jobs seems to have had with the world. Facebook on Wednesday night was like one big Steve Jobs tribute site. People I never would have expected to were posting their reminiscences about their first Apple products or how Steve’s aesthetic impacted their lives, both professionally and otherwise. You have to go back to 1966 to see a moment where the death of a business leader had the same kind of impact.

Both Walt and Steve (besides being known worldwide by their first names) were the embodiment of the companies they founded. They were equal parts celebrity, business leader, and inspirational innovators. Walt turned our perception of animated film on its head and advanced the art, both technically and artistically, more than any other person before or since (though John Lassiter is giving him a run for his money). He turned his enthusiasm and attention to detail to motions pictures, television, theme parks, and even urban planning and revolutionized them all. He would have fit perfectly into Apple’s “Think Different” campaign had his likeness not been locked in a steel vault under the Matterhorn. Steve of course “ignited the personal computer revolution” (as the Apple press releases always say), and radically impacted the entire entertainment business, from music to movies to gaming. His devices made possible the explosive rise of such diverse interests as social media, photography, and even filmmaking, from guys in their bedrooms to guys like Peter Jackson. His influence on design and manufacturing will be felt for a decade, at least. The mobile device industry is nothing at all like what is was only four years ago. All because of Steve’s vision.

Both Disney and Jobs pushed to create idealized realities. Steve’s very much in the present through a fanatic attention towards experience design, both virtual and physical, and Walt by representing both the past and the future as how he’d like them to be rather than how they were or would be. Their visions, based solely on their own internal ideals, were wholeheartedly embraced by millions. We not only loved what they created, we loved how they saw us in their creations.

They’re very different in what they left behind, however. When Disney died, he left a company that couldn’t replace him. Not only was there no heir, there was no interest in finding one. They went along for years thinking “what would Walt do?” and ended up nearly being consumed in the process until another leader came along and (for good or ill) started to create a new vision for Walt’s company. Steve, however, has done much to leave Apple in the best possible spot it could be. All the assets that make Apple great are still there. He even oversaw the creation of an internal Apple University to distill the qualities he led with and to ensure they’re passed on to others. Where the Walt Disney Company wandered and became diminished in the years following Walt’s death, Apple seems poised to continue its remarkable ascension specifically because of its founder’s vision and commitment.

Walt always acted like his company was there to enable him to follow his passions. In the case of Jobs, Apple was his passion. His single greatest creation. And that will make all the difference in the world.


It’s an odd thing, shedding tears at the death of someone you didn’t know.

We have this chair. An old oak, mission style rocking chair. We bought it years ago in terrible shape and took it to be reupholstered. At the shop, the upholsterer told me about the thumb prints he’d often see inside hundred-year-old pieces. The prints of their makers, long dead. In these inanimate objects, you could see the literal fingerprints of the people who created them from raw wood.

Of course, most things today aren’t like that. They’re made by teams of people. Hundreds of them. But there are still a few things we get to use — even those that are the result of the talent and labor of hundreds — that bear the obvious fingerprints of a singular talent. And as you use them, you get to know that talent.

So maybe, in a way, I did know him. Maybe we all did.

Steve Jobs, dead at 56. Too damned soon.

The magical slab of glass

Stephen Hackett said:

Apple has released an iPhone every summer since 2007, except for this year. WWDC came and went with no new hardware.

Since then, many people have claimed — including myself — that Apple can’t release a spec-only update to the iPhone 4, since the device has been on the market for 16 months. It would be a let-down, a disaster, a failure.

This, of course, is just based on our own expectations. We expect that — given the extra time — Apple’s hardware team has whipped up something shiny and new, far removed from the iPhone 4s we’ve all been carrying around for so long.

Whatever Apple announces tomorrow, some people are bound to be disappointed. That’s what expectations do when they grow out of control. Apple doesn’t owe us anything. Remember that as you pre-order your new phone tomorrow.

Thing is, I love the iPhone 4 form factor. Not just like, love. I love how it feels and its heft and its total lack of tapered edges. It’s a magical slab of glass. Like something from a science fiction movie. Like the illicit love child of a new iMac and an old titanium PowerBook. It is timeless and classic. I would mourn its passing.

Of course, I know I have it bad and will end up ordering the next iPhone because it is the next iPhone (all the while holding up the tattered fig leaf of  “professional necessity” to justify my actions), but I don’t want the next iPhone to look like anything other than the old iPhone. If the rumors are true and the iPhone 5 is a mirage and the iPhone 4S is the spitting image of the iPhone 4, I will be overjoyed.

Now if it only had a larger screen…


I’ve seen several blogs mention in the past day or so the news from Instagram that their users are now uploading 25 photos every second (even prompting Gruber to note that’s more frames per second than a motion picture). It is, truly, a lot of pictures. But, to put this in perspective, Facebook back in April of 2009 said their users were uploading 220 million photos every week. That’s almost 22,000 a second. A year and a half ago.

My latest Instagram masterpiece

This isn’t a “neener neener, your social site sucks” kind of observation at all. I love Instagram. Instead, it’s a “OH MY GOD, FACEBOOK IS HUGE” kind of observation. So. Frickin’. Huge.

CNN buries the lede

CNN seems to think their job is to play highlights of the big game like ESPN when, in fact, it’s to make sure those who want to run the country aren’t lying and/or distorting the truth to suit their needs. It’s the fundamental role of the Fourth Estate in modern society to act as a check on those in power. Running highlight reels of the best zingers and constantly focusing on the strategy and mechanics of electoral politics does not fulfill that responsibility.

Obviously, I think the position of those two stories should have been switched.

What the government is not

Found on Facebook:

‎”If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year, & are $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing big spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand.” Dave Ramsey

I’ll say right now I don’t know who Dave Ramsey is and I don’t know if he even said that, but it’s useful only because I think it highlights the fallacy of how some perceive our nation and its debt.

First of all, our country is not like a family. It’s not like a company, or even a state. It’s something entirely different than all those things. And, because it’s the United States of America and the dollar is the reserve currency of the world, it’s not even like other countries. It is unique. The US government is the last ditch backstop for the entire world’s economy. When companies and consumers won’t spend, the nation has to in order to ensure money keeps flowing through the economy and people keep their jobs. The world is happy (no, really – they’re overjoyed) to loan us money to do that because we are the largest import and export market in the world. By far. If we seize up, so does everyone else.

Back to the family metaphor. Irresponsible borrowers are penalized with high interest rates and/or a lack of access to new credit. The equivalent to that for the US government is the treasury bill market where we sell our debt to the world. Currently, the yield on these is insanely low meaning a) there’s plenty of people lining up to buy them, and b) we could borrow a hell of a lot more if we wanted to. Plus, the rates are so cheap that the cost of doing so is ridiculously low by almost any measure.

Bird food

Upon further reflection, as much as I enjoy the Newsweek Bachmann cover from a purely visceral standpoint, it probably won’t do anything at all to stem her popularity. In fact, it may only increase it.

Instead of reading the content of the article and judging her to be a dangerous candidate and representative based on her positions and statements, people will look at the picture and decide that Newsweek has unfairly published the most unflattering and stereotypical photo of her it could in order to score a cheap shot. The left will point to it and say, “Look at her! She’s crazy!!” (just like I did) while those on the right will use it as further proof that the media is liberal and biased (which it demonstrably is not). And, at the end of the day, Bachmann will simply regurgitate it down the throats of all the baby bird Tea Partiers already sitting in her nest.