Mac personal

iTunes 9 Review

I didn’t rush out my iTunes 9 review, simply because I felt the need to actually use it for a while to see how I felt. Also, I’m not a gadget blog, so I can take my damn time. Anyway, my feelings and wants for iTunes are no one’s but my own. Anyway, I wrote a little wishlist before Apple’s music event, which if I had to sum up, was for iTunes not to suck anymore. While that didn’t entirely come true, iTunes 9 sucks a hell of a lot less than before.

First of all, iTunes 9 plays much, MUCH nicer with my dying iPod than 8 did. It manages to sync the first time, almost every time. It may not seem like much, but its a vast improvement. Its also quite a bit faster with the 3GS. It still beachballs for a second when I connect the phone, but it takes (subjectively) less time than before. Switching views from Music to Podcasts to Applications is very fast, with no beachballing at all. Note that I have just shy of 10,000 tracks with 984 artists, 45 podcast subscriptions, and 96 apps. ITunes 9 seems to have pulled a lot of its speed by drawing icons on the fly after the view switch. I’d far rather switch fast and see the icons drawn while I’m interacting with the window.

Which is not to say that I don’t have problems. The first and worst is that smart playlist sync seems to be broken between iTunes 9 and iPhone OS 3.1. I mainly listen to podcasts on my iPhone, and exclusively while commuting. I set up a smart playlist that grabs podcasts as they’re downloaded, and I’l go in and manually arrange the order. I did this because my car’s iPod connector only sees playlists, artists, albums and songs, so I had to make a playlist to listen to my podcasts in the car. It actually turned out to be a really convenient way to consume them. The problem is that the podcasts showed up in a random order after the update. This seems to be a problem with iTunes, rather than the iPhone OS, since turning off live updating solves the problem. Its annoying to have to do additional steps, but I’m sure a fix is coming.

I only had one crash, right after I updated. I still had to wait while iTunes checked the library, but it only took about a minute. I’m sure that this is a result of iTunes’ Carbon-ness and inability to use Core Data. (I’m making the assumption that Core Data will handle crashes more gracefully than whatever it is that iTunes does now. We all know about assumptions, right?)

As far as the rest, I can’t use Home Sharing, because I have one updated machine and almost nothing from the iTunes Store. I tried Genius Mixes, and while the feature is cool, its not my cup of tea. I love the ability to arrange apps from iTunes and really wish it had been there last year, but what can you do? Clearly, Apple didn’t expect people to put hundreds of apps on their phones, so it took a while. I don’t like the white background behind the icons. The black background provided more contrast and was easier on the eyes. Maybe a background preference?

So, yeah, I’m really happy with iTunes 9, and hope that it just keeps getting better. ITunes is home to a lot of stuff and it takes some serious UI mojo to keep everything simple and tidy and fast. While I still say that iTunes has some suckage to work out, its with the understanding that a lot of work goes into it.

Mac personal

Music Event Wishlist

I’m not going to predict anything about tomorrow’s event, mainly because other people are far better at it than I. That, and I could give a shit about the Beatles or even new iPods. Although I might pick up a current-gen Classic if it gets the cheap refurb treatment, since my 4th gen is dying. No, I shall again engage in pointless and useless speculation. This is what I want from tomorrow’s event:

I want iTunes to not suck any more.

That’s it. iTunes is slow, oh so slow. It takes forever to load, to check the library, to switch between music, podcasts and iPhone apps. God help you if it crashes, because it has to “check the library” until I get a gray hair.

I don’t care how Apple pulls it off. I don’t have to code iTunes, so I don’t care if its Carbon or Cocoa (even though it has to go Cocoa sooner rather than later because everything has to go Cocoa) or if its a glorified WebKit shell talking to a CoreData blob. (Like my mindless name drops there?)

Just let iTunes not suck. This not not involve adding a fucking Facebook or Twitter button to spam everyone with my favorite embarrassing music or anything stupid like that. We’re in the Snow Leopard era here. Less is more. Smaller and faster is better. That is my wish, and I’m not even sure I’ll get that.

iPhone Mac stoopid Windows

Fights With MacMacs

Earlier I made the mistake of commenting (negatively) on a post here. I’m not innocent here as I flame-baited the thread by linking to John Welch’s immensely entertaining takedown here. Dilgar seemed to be getting a bit defensive, so when I posted my own comment here, he got all pissy about it.

I’m posting my response not because I feel wronged or offended, I just wanted to share the stupid, especially when it comes from a real-life Artie McStrawman.


I am not an IT goon and have neither an Exchange server nor a Snow Leopard server lying around to play with, so my response is written from the perspective of a knowledgeable user. You have been warned.


I think your perspective has been contaminated by the vitriolic strawman attacks posted by John C. Welch in his franticly unprofessional frustration outlet known as

Just because you think it doesn’t make it so.

When you say “the idea that MobileMe is a credible Exchange alternative is a joke,” where did you get the impression that I wrote of MobileMe as a drop in replacement for the majority of Exchange shops?

When you wrote this: “With Snow Leopard and the iPhone each now providing their own client layer for accessing Exchange Server, Apple can now offer its users alternative access to other server products as well, from its own MobileMe and Snow Leopard Server offerings to web services from Google and Yahoo. This effectively turns Microsoft from a direct seller into a wholesaler that has to deal with Apple as a middleman retailer.”

That very strongly implies that Exchange and MM are in direct competition. While SL Server is a more credible drop-in replacement/alternative to Exchange, MM is most certainly not. MM is just that: all about me. It has no groupware functionality at all, even between members of a family plan. In order to share calendars, I had to build a hack that goes through Google calendar and BusyCal, which requires at least one of our Macs to be on to sync everything. Its an ugly solution for something that should be built-in, especially considering how easy it is to share calendars using Google. If it wasn’t for the fact that Google tends to mangle my contacts, I would seriously be considering dropping my MM.

Your next line, “The fact is that MobileMe is and always has been a consumer solution, and Apple has always billed it as such (Remember “Exchange for the rest of us”?)” is correct, and harmonizes with what I did write, that MobileMe offers an Exchange alternative for “us,” that is users who don’t need or want to spend $25,000 on an entry level Exchange infrastructure.

Then why compare them? As if a $25k solution is in the same ballpark as a $100 one. An apples to apples comparison should be Exchange vs SL Server and/or MM vs Live/MyPhone vs Google. Exchange is not a consumer product and MM isn’t for business (or even for groups). They’re totally different markets with different needs. If there’s any confusion on my part, its the fact that you weren’t clear about the distinction between them.

The problem with reading delusional, fact bending, strawman burning, poop flinging rants like those published by Welch is that you end up repeating talking points that have no connection to the discussion at hand. You might as well sit in front of an AM radio spewing lather about death panels, Kenyan birth certificate forgeries, and how public insurance will turn the USA into Nazi Germany.

Frankly, I don’t even want to address the knuckle dragging, sexualized fantasies Welch manages to inject in every rage tantrum he writes, even if they might include random jabs as me.

His point, that there is only one market on earth, and only one problem solved by one solution, is so simple minded that it doesn’t deserve discussion. Apple is rapidly selling its services to users who don’t need Exchange. Nobody is suggesting that Exchange Server installations are directly competing against MM or SL Server, any more than FileMaker Pro is pitted against Oracle or SQL Server. There’s still a big market for FM Pro.

OK, exactly which of his “talking points” did I mindlessly repeat. He brought up some very specific technical inaccuracies which you failed to address. I pointed out the obvious (and non-conspiracy theory) reason why MS would license Exchange to Apple (and Google) and mentioned my personal experience with MM and connecting a SL Mac to an old Exchange account. Neither Welch nor I insinuated that there’s only one email market, but there two markets that use Exchange: Big organizations and SMB. MM is a poor solution for either one. Its that market that uses Exchange, and since you were comparing it to MM, the logical conclusion is that you were mentioning those markets.

Also, for the AM-radio crack: fuck you. Using flowery language to hurl your shit doesn’t make it smell any better.

In the mobile market, MM offers a superior alternative for anyone who wants a personal account that provides desktop/mobile sync and push messaging, and lacks a connection to a huge corporation that has invested millions in building an Exchange infrastructure.

Clearly, but that’s like being surprised that the sky is blue. (Although, I’ve lived in SF long enough to know that it is a pleasant surprise when there’s a blue sky, but you get the point.) Again, no one uses Exchange who isn’t using it for business, so why bring it up? Consumers use Yahoo, Hotmail/Live and Gmail or their ISP for email. So yeah, if you want the features that MM offers, its a good value, but that’s hardly worthy of analysis.

Microsoft has a very strong position in corporate messaging, but it isn’t making much headway in mobile messaging, thanks in part to the failure of Windows Mobile. RIM has eaten up Microsoft’s business prospects in the mobile push messaging arena. That’s why Microsoft is desperate to associate the iPhone with Exchange. It’s also happy to have SL apps working with Exchange.

I don’t know what you mean here. If you’re talking about BES, then we’re still on Exchange. If you’re talking about EWS, then we’re STILL on Exchange, but including WinMo, iPhone, Pre, Symbian and HTC Android builds. Basically every non-BB smartphone and a bunch of dumbphones. MS isn’t doing nearly as much work to integrate the iPhone and OS X with Exchange as Apple is. Apple has far more to gain from the proposition than MS does. Again, we’re dealing with entirely different divisions of MS here. Exchange cares about Exchange, not WinMo.

Will SL apps help Microsoft sell upgrades to the now two year old, current version of Exchange? It doesn’t matter if it does. Mac users who think Apple should have made SL apps support old versions of Exchange dating back to 2003 or 2000 are simply pinning the problem on the wrong vendor. It’s Microsoft that has changed its strategy and API enough to leave Apple with less than ideal options.

The new Outlook for Mac will likely also use EWS, as even Microsoft sees MAPI as a pile of old spaghetti code.

SL is not at all likely to get companies to upgrade their Exchange servers, which as you like to point out, is a very expensive undertaking. I also don’t think that either Apple or MS is to “blame” for anything. Clearly, MS is going to be using its own new standard for upcoming products. Whether or not Outlook 2010 will be backwards-compatible remains to be seen. Also, MS now isn’t allowed to break from the past or update their API’s? I thought we all wanted MS to embrace the future (or at least the recent past). That’s why people are still bitching about Win7 still having the registry, etc. Apple building its own apps to connect to other people’s services is nothing new. Office for the Mac has been shitty for years, but MS screwed Apple over by switching to something new? Something Apple likes to do itself quite a bit, BTW. Color me unconvinced.

Apple is adding Exchange support to SL to increase the visibility of Macs and bypass the third rate clients Microsoft has provided Mac users. The fact that Microsoft keeps moving its own goalposts in terms of the latest Exchange features is no surprise. It’s not Apple’s goal to beat Microsoft at its own game. Look at how unwinnable that has been for WINE, OpenOffice, or any other attempt to clone Microsoft’s proprietary protocols.

Which is why Apple licensed it. The reason why all of those projects suffer from such high levels of suck is because they have a religious devotion to the GPL that Apple doesn’t share. Updating their software with new features is hardly “moving the goalposts,” especially since this is the first time that Apple has offered this level of integration.

As I pointed out, Apple’s goal is to offer workable Exchange support while focusing on delivering products targeted to its own customer base, sharing much of the investments made. Apple isn’t trying to make SL apps on par with Outlook, it’s making its own MobileMe and SL Server on par with its own support for Exchange, enabling and encouraging Mac users to switch to Apple’s own offerings wherever possible.

But you were talking about MM in comparison to Exchange. Users don’t use Exchange or SL Server, they use Outlook, Entourage or Mac users aren’t going to switch from Exchange to SL Server; that’s generally not a decision they get to make. MM exists in parallel to Exchange. It offers value for an individual similar to what one gets from Exchange, but since one generally uses Exchange for work and MM for personal stuff, there is little room for overlap or “switching.”

If you doubt that, come back in 5 years and tell me how MobileMe compares to MyPhone or whatever Microsoft is offering for its dwindling Windows Mobile platform. Then tell me how much progress Exchange has made in expanding its market share compared to SL Server. Exchange will certainly still be making Microsoft money, and more money that Apple makes in the enterprise by some factor of ten, but Apple isn’t about winning dominance, it’s about making a better product. And for many Mac users, MM is a superior alternative to running their own Exchange Server.

You’re asking me to predict what an Apple service will look like in 5 years? I can say pretty confidently that MM will still be a consumer product and will not be a viable replacement for Exchange. And since MM is already superior to MyPhone/Live (even though both have features that the other lacks), I don’t know what point you’re trying to make here. As for the progress part, I think you got turned around. Its Apple that needs to catch up to MS. Apple is adding features to OS X server that make it more enterprise friendly, but here Apple’s solutions are immature. I have no doubt that Apple will continue to improve OS X server, but MS’s services are robust and mature already. Hell, Apple HAD to use EWS for the iPhone, since OS X server only gained the ability to remotely manage iPhones with SL. Its nice that Apple finally supports its own product that’s been on the market for more than two years, isn’t it?

personal stoopid


So, there are a bunch of dipshit Pretards on Twitter who feel the need to constantly search for any mention of the Pre and butt in regardless of how appropriate or not it might be. They also seem to be more thin-skinned than freetards, Macmacs or even Trekkies. Anyway, here’s a sad little exchange I had a little while ago. I was only inspired to do al of that copy and pasting because @vara411 had the same exchange with @bynkii tonight, and I just had to get it out there.

I should also point out that I don’t have anything against Palm or the Pre. I just happen to think that its not the right solution for me and Palm has some issues to work out both with their hardware and their OS. Oh, and I don’t give a shit what phone you use or why either.

Played with a Pre today. Slow as shit compared to the 3GS. Palm needs to get their shit together. 7:08 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl That’s the 1st Generation pre. It took Apple 3 generations. And yes I do own an Iphone. Switching over to a Palm Pre. 7:15 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss Whatever. Apples to apples = original iphone to Treo 700. Pre has same guts as 3GS, so there’s little excuse. 8:41 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss BTW, I don’t really care what you use. I only care about my experience/needs, and the Pre doesn’t do it for me. 8:42 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl @GuttaMoss Palm Pre is plenty fast if u multitask. But hey I understand. As an iPhone fan you wouldn’t know anything about that. 8:14 PM Aug 8th

@vara411 I multitask pretty well on an iphone. I also like being able to answer a phone call without waiting for the phone app to boot. 8:43 PM Aug 8th

@vara411 Meaningless PR terms don’t do much to sway my opinion BTW. 8:44 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl Let me guess?….your needs are for more useless apps (iBeer) rights? Palm Pre and it’s WebOS is light years ahead of iphone’s. 10:01 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss What’s with the assumption that I even downloaded shit like that? Light years? Really? Care to elaborate? 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss Seems to me that Palm seriously needs to work on their optimization. I can move between apps pretty quickly on a 3GS, but just… 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss loading anything on the Pre takes forever. Maybe because I don’t waste time on Facebook and IM. 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl You know what the competition between the two is great for us consumers. 10:03 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss I like competition. Palm has some good ideas. I just think their implementation needs a lot of work. 10:08 PM Aug 8th

@GuttaMoss Hence, “they need to get their shit together.” 10:09 PM Aug 8th

@dssstrkl I’m sorry “meaningless PR terms?” What exactly are you getting at? 9:23 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Do you even know what the word multitask means? Go look it up and tell me how you used it incorrectly. 9:47 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Then think about how you wanted to use it (ie using more than one app simultaneously in userland) and explain exactly how one does 9:47 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 that one the Pre. Seems to me like you use 1 app, then go use another. Again, meaningless PR BS. 9:47 AM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl Wrong again but I forgive u. GPS nav + Pandora + txt + Twitter + multiple emails… simultaneously. THAT’S Palm Pre multitasking. 10:30 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 BWAHAHAHA! Really? You can do all that at the same time? When I tried, I had to move from one app to another since you can only 10:41 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 interact w/ 1 app at a time. Hope you’re not texting while driving! BTW, you clearly still don’t know what multitasking means! 10:41 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Also, why are you even engaging? I still don’t give a shit what phone you use or why. 10:41 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Ah, 4451 tweets since 5/1? All about Pre? You’re clearly a Palm plant. You should ask @chuq how to evangelize w/o being a dick. 11:07 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Don’t bother answering. I’m clearly not going to have an interesting convo w/ a marketing drone. 11:07 AM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl LOL suit urself. Yeah I’m a fanboy but no employee. Honored you’d look me up like that tho. Just remember who’s being a jerk, here 11:29 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 Don’t be too honored, it took about a minute, drone. You started this, so the jerk would be you. Look up multitasking yet, drone? 11:44 AM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl I’m “engaging” b/c ur obviously a jaded, angry little iSheep who likes to rant but then gets all defensive when someone answers. 11:43 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 iSheep? LOL, that worked out pretty well for Sandisk, didn’t it? 🙂 Jaded & angry? Wow, does the Pre come with a psychology app? 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 You’re clearly engaging because you’re a marketing drone. Your twitter account is 100% Pre and you’re a dick to people who disagree 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 with you. Again: I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU USE. I’m not you and the Pre doesn’t work for me. The Pre has some serious flaws that 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 need to get ironed out, primarily that apps boot REALLY slow and the hardware feels cheap. Smartphones don’t live in some zero-sum 11:59 AM Aug 9th

@vara411 game that one needs to lose for the other to survive. Even if you’re some psychotic fanboy jizzing over his gadget, you should 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 recognize that other people have legitimate reasons for choosing something other than what you have. But resorting to name calling 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 in the absence of any actual or reasoned argument is just sad. Your inability to use a dictionary & resorting to calling me an 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Apple fanboy indicates that you have no actual points of comparison between the iphone or pre and that you have no idea what you’re 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 talking about. Grow up and look up multitasking. 12:00 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl Hey douchebag I just read ur conv w @vara411. U talked shit abt da Pre, he called u on it and now ur running ur fukkin mouth STFU! 12:07 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl I turned in my iPhone 3GS for a Palm Pre and have no regrets. Mostly hated AT&T. Wat, u gonna talk shit to me too? Go fuk urself 12:08 PM Aug 9th

@danmiam No, but I will block you for being boring. 12:25 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl That’s what I thought ass wipe 12:30 PM Aug 9th (After I blocked him. This guy says he’s a med student. Right.)

@dssstrkl I do in fact have point of comparison. Owned the original iphone for 1.5 yrs. Palm Pre suits my needs better. 12:10 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Sorry, I just don’t believe you. Know what multitasking means yet? 12:26 PM Aug 9th

@dssstrkl Cracks me up that an iPhone fanboy like yourself would dictate to me what multitasking is. Run along, iSheep. We’re done talking. 12:34 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Thats rich, calling me a fanboy. All I did was point out that you don’t know what the word multitasking means. 12:37 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Not my problem if you’re not too proficient in English. 12:38 PM Aug 9th

@vara411 Also, learn the diff between fanboys like yourself and people who hold other opinions & have diff needs. 12:38 PM Aug 9th

So if any other Pretards feel like butting in, I still don’t give a shit which phone you use or why. Get over it. 12:52 PM Aug 9th

People who go around advocating shit really need to learn how approach others. Its not like acting like a douchebag and telling me how I’m doing shit wrong is going to win me to your side or anything. On what planet does contacting random people to tell them that their life choices (really, since these clowns live and breathe the Pre) are ugly and wrong, but then get all pissy when people respond in a way other slavish agreement or fellatio. There are few things in this world lamer than fanboys, and this is just another example of that.

personal politics science stoopid

Invading Ideas

When I was going through my Twitter feed this morning, i happened across this: Extinction & invasive species are PART of nature. Things change. Why r we obsessed with freezing current ecology? and this: “Survival of the Fittest” means that, unfortunately, that some of our favorites will be pushed out. It’s not “Survival of the Cutest.” and this: Every species u see now pushed another species out. And those pushed out the ones before them. No such thing as “original” or “native.”

I responded with some rather insultingly rude comments @scottsigler Natural invasions occur at a fraction of the rate of human caused invasions. Its not freezing ecology, its protecting diversity and @scottsigler You seriously need to bone up on your populations genetics. The shit you said was stupid. As is laughably incorrect. Its rather hypocritical of me to call someone else out for saying talking shit without backing up my own. Invasive species occur all over the planet, in all manner of ecosystems. My experience, as well as the article in question, is mainly marine, so most of my examples will be as well.

The problem is not so much with the assertion that natural invasions don’t happen, or that extinction isn’t a part of life. Its with the complete disregard for the very real damage that invasions do to local and regional ecologies and the disregard for the differences in the rate between natural invasions and those caused by human activity. I’m going to consider the kelp species mentioned in the article. Assuming that no one reading this has ever seen a giant kelp species in the flesh or know anything about their life cycle, it goes something like this. Kelp, as an algae, reproduces via sporulation. Unlike plants, which have tissues analogous to animals, all kelp cells are effectively the same and all produce spores. I have personally forced kelp to sporulate in the lab and collected from seven blades, enough spores to change the consistency of 1L of seawater into something more like syrup. That’s a concentration high enough that it needs to go through several dilutions in order to be at a low enough concentration to be useful for the experiment we were conducting, about 1E12 spores/mL. If I can generate that many spores from seven blades in 20 minutes, imagine how many spores an entire kelp forest releases during a season.


Kelp spores


Sand dollar larvae. Most broadcast spawners have larvae about this size.

Now consider how tiny kelp spores are, at the micrometer scale. In order for a Japanese kelp to invade California, especially to the point where it can out-compete native species, these spores must cross the Pacific Ocean by riding natural currents, which run through the Arctic Circle and then down the California coast with the cold California current. Any such invasion would likely start north and work its way south, with the currents. Now consider, instead of some space spores managing to survive that trip, a container ship sitting in a Japanese port. Well, it doesn’t just sit there. As containers are being loaded, the ship is loading its ballast tanks with a few hundred tons of coastal seawater, which is filled with not only kelp spores, but a host of other algae species, fish, crab, mollusk and echinoderm larvae. This ship will then cross the Pacific in the best time possible. These ships are required by US maritime law to stop mid-ocean and cycle their ballast tanks, but rarely do, as the fines for failure to comply with the law are less than the cost of stopping. Thus, when the ship reaches port its ballast tanks will be full of all sorts of foreign beasties who are ready and often at the perfect stage in their life cycle to colonize.

This can be problematic for local ecosystems, especially when low level members of the food chain get out-competed by invaders. Not only can food stocks radically change, but things like seagrass height can prevent birds from nesting, an invading clam that reaches the adult stage a week before native species and consumes resources, a marauding crab that rampages through the tidal zone, and on and on. I can also safely assume that no one reading this has ever inspected a cargo ship’s ballast tanks, or even boarded or been close to one. You really have to personally experience it to internalize the scale.

Besides the havoc that such invaders can wreak on native ecosystems, but they can cause massive economic devastation as well. Fisheries can be wiped out, mussels can clog outflow pipes of power plants, clams can bore into mudflats and massively increase erosion, threatening all sorts of human communities and commercial facilities.

As for the Survival of the Fittest comment, that’s social Darwinist bullshit. That’s not a scientific concept or something that’s ever brought up in scientific literature. Natural selection is cruel and impartial, but works on populations in entire ecosystems. It also works at a particular rate, usually called evolutionary time (like how geological processes function at geological time). That’s kind of why they’re called ecosystems, since they are functional systems. If you start introducing massive disruptions into any system, it will collapse. That’s not natural selection, any more than climate change is a natural process. The fact is that there was no massive invasive species problem before the advent of fast trans-oceanic shipping. The only major cause of species invasion before that was deliberate human introductions. Unless anyone thinks that rabbits just happened to pop up out of nowhere in the Australian outback. Or that most of the lust Hawaiian vegetation that we all like is invasive, and happened to show up after European colonists showed up (which was after Polynesian colonists showed up). I could go on, but the fact is that natural invasions are so rare and mild that they can be absorbed by the ecosystem with minimal disruption.

Next, there’s this comment: Every species u see now pushed another species out. And those pushed out the ones before them. No such thing as “original” or “native.”Wrong. There are plenty of examples of empty niches being filled in by opportunistic species. Classic example: early mammals didn’t exactly wipe out the dinosaurs by themselves, now did they? I don’t know what Scott meant by original, since that’s not a word we use in the context that he was using. There is, however, such a thing as a native species. What constitutes a native species is even defined scientifically. All one has to do is look it up.

@pcharing there is no “permanently disasterous” in nature. One species’ apocolypse is another’s gateway to dominance of the open niche.I think the dinosaurs and trilobites would disagree with you. An apocalypse tends to effect more than one species at a time, and extinction, at least in nature, doesn’t just happen. Again, we’re dealing with systems with lots and lots of interdependencies. For example, it would really suck for us if phytoplankton stopped fixing nitrogen and the atmosphere turned into poison.

@niltiac afraid that isn’t true, as proven by the FIVE mass extinctions in Earth’s history. 5, yet life flourishes, including all u see now.Life that tended to be quite dissimilar to that which preceded it. Sure, it all has DNA, but the first life forms in this planet (who dominated far longer than any eukaryote) thrived in what was an alien planet with a toxic atmosphere. Its lucky for us that they fouled their nest by filling the atmosphere with a toxic, caustic gas that eventually drove them off the face of the Earth. Sounds familiar, yes? Except oxygen gas, at atmospheric pressure, isn’t toxic to life forms like us. What makes you think that we could survive the next mass extinction? Maybe we should be less blasé about it.

@j0ni “balance” is a myth. Extinction is the rule. There was no balance before us, there us none now. Equilibriums are temporary in nature.Yes, there is no such thing as a perfect equilibrium in nature, and yes, its a model. Yes, given enough time, everything is temporary, even the universe. But, statistically, its an accurate model that predicts how ecosystems function. If you’re going to dismiss an accepted biological model with decades of support, please offer some evidence to back up your claims. Creationism is a myth, equilibrium is science. The difference? One is supported by observation, correct predictions, and cold, hard math, the other, not so much.

@CJWellman Most “native” Galapaos species are “invasive” from long B4 man arrived. Native state is barren. When did “native state” start?Its hardly invasive to colonize a barren rock with lots of empty niches. If you don’t think there’s a difference, go ask an indigenous person, anywhere in the world, what he thinks of being colonized, then go ask a Martian what he thinks of us sending all those probes and planning to colonize Mars. Oh, wait, there’s no life on Mars. There’s no indigenous life to get pushed out. When did the native state start? When life started growing there are formed an ecosystem. Barren is the state of there being no life, no ecosystem. Native state requires life.

@j0ni “Fatalism?” Please. Life goes on. Just not this snapshot of life. Good luck stopping time, nature and evolution.Look at Mars. The conditions for life existed there once, but no longer. Think that can’t happen here? Besides, there’s no such thing as a snapshot of life. Life is always in motion, always evolving, us included.

@DomonicMongello so if species arrives on Galapagos from wind or ocean currents, that’s okay, but on ship (from man), that’s not?Again, its a matter of scale and time. You can’t honestly compare wind-borne seeds landing on islands to the Dutch bringing coffee to Java. If you really don’t understand the difference between the mechanisms, then there’s not much I can say to convince you otherwise.

@j0ni show me one example of equilibrium, “balance,” that did not replace a previous state of “balance.” Ergo, balance is temporary at best.
@j0ni no straw man. U say “balance” is observable phenomenon. I ask for permanent example in nature of your statement. Do u have one?
There’s no such thing as a permanent ecosystem. Anyone who would suggest such a thing is ignorant of how they work. However, that doesn’t mean that equilibrium doesn’t exist, or that ecosystems can’t persist for periods of time longer than the existence of human civilization.

All ecosystems function in a state of equilibrium, or else they collapse, extinctions occur, opportunists move in, and a new equilibrium is formed. Equilibrium in environmental biology is not some biblical harmony. All it means is that conditions are stable enough for biological niches to be filled, allowing the native organisms to go through their life cycles. Every single organism depends on a stable and functional ecosystem in equilibrium to thrive. That includes us. We require far more equilibrium and stability than most species. Our food supply is dangerously homogenous, depending on only a few species for our staples. Imagine a virus that attacks grain spreading around the planet, wiping out wheat, rice and corn. Think about just how tenuous our food supply really is, especially when you also consider the havoc that we’re wreaking on the atmosphere, the water supply, the soil. Look at the food you have in your house, think about where it came from, and then tell me, with a straight face, that equilibrium isn’t real or that its doesn’t matter.

Scott challenged me to point out what was laughably incorrect. At the very least, the vast difference between natural aquatic invasions and ballast tank discharge fits the bill. I could stand to be more polite in the future, but I can’t make any promises.

hardware Mac personal


Right now everone’s publishing thier WWDC predictions. I’m not going to do that this time because a) I again have absolutely zero real information and b) it’s gotten boring. Instead I’m going to go totally pie in the sky and publish my wish list. There are no predictions here, and I seriously doubt that this stuff will happen; this is all fun and games.

Now, I am assuming that the iPhone late 2009 version will be announced tomorrow, and Snow Leopard will get talked up. That’s as safe a prediction as saying that I need to see an optomotrist tomorrow. Which I do. So here we go!

Background processes

I think that iPhone v.3 will be powerful and robust enough to allow full background processes. The current 3.0 OS hasn’t seen an update for over a month and is stable on my original iPhone. For all intents and purposes, it seems to be done (minus miscellaneous bug fixes for the final release). So what has Apple been doing all month?

Background support! Yay! Assuming wishes come true, this will only work on the new hardware with it’s increased CPU, RAM and battery life. Teardowns on the Pre indicate that modern chipsets allow for significant reductions in logic board footprints. Smaller, more efficient circuits could allow Apple to both increase battery life and physical battery size. Serious optimization combined with a 1300, 1500 or (O-face here) 1800mAH battery would make background apps a real possibility here.

Also, Apple is clearly not afraid of adding features which will not work on older hardware. MMS, terhering and full A2DP Bluetooth are not available for the original iPhone. This would be a great point of differentiation for the iPhone v.3. If Apple could pull this off AND have a battery life increase would rocket the iPhone ahead of the competition.

Apple TV

I have no idea what the hell Apple is trying to do with the Apple TV. Right now it’s just a dongle to stream iTunes content to an HDTV. I have lots of iTunes content and an HDTV, but I just don’t have any desire to buy one.

Why? Well, quite simply, because my old Rev A Macbook Pro from 2005 is so much better. With the addition of less than $20 of cables and adaptors from and my Harmony 880 remote, the laptop makes a far better solution. I can play DVD, but mote importantly, I can play EVERYTHING ELSE. I can get Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Skype, Internet, everything. I can fire up the NES emulator and play MegaMan 2. I can do all sorts of things with a Mac that I can’t with an Apple TV.

Well, updated hardware and an awesome sdk could fix that. People have suggested and rejected such an sdk recently, but it was always about Apple turning the thing into a game console. I agree that the console route is the height of stupid, but there is so much more. An sdk would allow Netflix and Boxee to be first-class citizens. I would imagine that games would happen, with an iPhone / iPod touch as the favored controller.

As for hardware, Apple needs to replace that Pentium M. Maybe they could scoop up a few of those mobile Core 2 Duos that Intel is so desparate to dump on someone. Also that awful integrated graphics chipset might be good enough to drive a set-top box, or Nvidia might give Apple a deal on 9400M chips.

I have no idea how feasable any of this is, or how hard it would be to release an Apple TV sdk, but it sure would be nice. On the other hand, I’m not going freak out and call lame if none of if comes true. Unlike some people, I can tell the difference between things that are likely to appear and the shit I just made up.


Monsoon Orthos

Another quickie. I have my Monsoon orthos, screen grabbed from Lightwave. I also included a beauty shot of my first try and of Lars Joreteg’s final model. I don’t remember exactly where I got Lars’ mesh, but that last one is his. What a difference textures make!

I suppose that’s the difference between profession and amateur work! That and actually taking the time to finish. 🙂

Actually, the big difference is in all of those small details. The actual geometry between Lars’ mesh and my own isn’t actually all that different. He just put lots of finishing touched on his mesh that I never got around to like beveling out the gun barrel, adding support structures and a bunch of other stuff. That’s what really makes a model pop and look great. Perhaps I should actually follow through…


Dark Clouds

Over the past year or so, there has been way too much ink, electrons and air spent on cloud computing. The only constant through all of this hype is that no one really knows exactly what the hell it all means other than it has something to do with the web. I’ve heard stories about how The Cloud will render all PCs to little more than thin client shells running everything out of a futuristic browser or less insane stories about how just our data and bandwidth-light applications will live in the cloud. I personally don’t buy the hype and think that the future of teh cloudz will be far different that what the hype machine is making it out to be.

For people who have paused long enough to catch their breath, cloud computing is nothing more than server-side computing available over the open internet (rather than a LAN). The thing that makes this round of server dominance is the rise of wireless internet, particularly cellular data networks, which allows you to get the internet anywhere. The idea is that given the availability of data everywhere, the ever-increasing speed and robustness of wireless networks and the power of distributed computing, you’ll be able to do all of your computing through the browser.

The thing is, most of the people who are so into cloud computing already live in their browsers. When all you do is troll around on the web for news, live in Gmail and do some light text entry, then yes, doing everything in the browser seems quite doable. If you combine your Google Docs with Pandora and use an Android phone (or a Pre in a week or so), upload all of your pictures to Flickr, then guess what? You’re already living in the cloud! Congratulations! You know what else? You have ceded control over all of your data to someone else, usually a large corporation.

That’s my biggest problem with the cloud. I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about this on a blog hosted by someone else, but bear with me. Sites like Flickr and Facebook are notorious for deleting content and banning users, often by deleting entire accounts, which can have far-reaching consequences. Or, they might decide that they own your data and content in perpetuity. Or, the company that’s holding all of your super-encrypted backups or your RAW files just goes out of business, giving you a day to get your stuff back. You and everyone else who has files on that server, that is. 24 hours doesn’t seem quite like enough time for any given server to upload how many terabytes, especially over American intertubes.

And then there are the ISPs. American internet connections are slow and expensive and cellular data is even worse. The future does not promise to get any better, as the large cable companies are still pushing towards tiered connections with ridiculously low data caps, all at a higher price. How many videos do you plan on editing online when you have to count your bits after a YouTube binge?

There are too many roadblocks and bridge trolls in the way for cloud computing to really ever take the place of local computers. The question that I never hear asked is why? Why do I need online storage when 1TB HDDs cost less than $90? When my two year old iPhone has more storage, RAM and processor than the Mac I had in college? When my old-ass Quicksilver G4 (or a Mac Mini) makes a perfectly adequate server? When Amazon suggests that you buy your own drive, fill it up and mail it to them because networks are that much slower and unreliable than FedEx?

Not good enough? How about because anything you put on a remote server can be looked at with a court order because your data doesn’t deserve Fourth Amendment protection when its on someone else’s box? Your TCP/IP requests aren’t protected and neither is your email. I use Gmail like all the other cool kids, but I’m fully aware that the stuff I send and receive is there for everyone to see. That’s why I use because Google doesn’t give you this:


Cloud computing is seriously over-hyped and under-thought. Yes, there are things that live on the web that should live there. Yes, the browser is becoming increasingly powerful. But the fact is that client-server computing is not going to be better than native apps on increasingly powerful and cheaper hardware running operating systems that are super-optimised to take advantage of that hardware. I think that this is all a fad, but one that will be quite persistent.

I think that people will be utilizing web-based apps in greater numbers as web standards become more powerful and are adopted by browsers. I also think that native apps will always have their place and will always be better, first-class citizens. There will always be serious compromises when using remote apps over native, not the least because web apps will always be somewhat lowest common denominator unable to take advantage of local hardware to any significant extent nor interact with the native OS in a first-class way.

Finally, there’s the security issue. If you want to be in control of your own shit, then you leave it on a box that you physically control. End of story. That’s not to say that persistent data access is a bad thing. Next time!



I’ve been re-trying my hand at the creative thing. Trying to learn the Wacom tablet, draw some concept art and get good at Lightwave again. I did a lot of fan renders back in the day and have a bunch of half-finished models. One of the ones I came pretty close to finishing is my version of Lars Joreteg’s Monsoon class gunboat. I’m not going to get into the details of the ship, since this is all about me. 🙂


Click to enlarge.

A radiosity render with the generic Babylon 5 panel texture.


Click to enlarge.

A lightdome render with no texture, but I was playing with metal surface settings.

I’ll add some orthos next time, then my first attempt at this bad boy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to put up some fresh meat soon!


Radio Killed the Radio Star?

I sometimes find myself worrying that in my increasing old age (pushing 30 *shudder*) that I’m going to end up like my parents and so many in their generation and just stop listening to new music. I have just shy of 10,000 tracks from just under 1000 artists in my collection. If you want to go old school, that’s 1553 albums, a bunch of singles and unsorted stuff, for a total of 26:14:13:34 listening time. Not including audiobooks and podcasts, that’s almost a month of music without repeating. Yikes!

Now, while I already have more music than I can reasonably listen to, I still like to discover new stuff. The tried and true way is to see what’s playing on the radio. I tend not to do this because Scion was very thoughtful and included an iPod dock connector that routes directly to the head unit. I tend to turn on the radio when I happen to have unplugged the iPod and forgot to plug it back in. When this happens, the head unit defaults back to the radio, since there’s no other input. (It does have a CD player, but I’ve only ever put one CD in once, when a friend gave me a burn of Human by the Killers to listen to. iPod > CD to the point that I haven’t listened to a CD in forever. CDs go straight to iTunes and then go on the shelf.)

When I hit the radio one of two things happens. There’s a commercial on or the idiot DJ is talking, I realize my mistake and immediately plug the iPod back in. Or an actual song is playing. When this happens, I usually find myself wondering if I’m back in college or even high school. My default station is Live 105 in San Francisco (105.3 FM), which is the alternative/new rock station. The problem is that their playlist is even older and far more limited than mine. I’ve bounced around some of the other local stations on occasion and its the same everywhere. The radio is no longer the place to find new music!

What the hell happened? Is there nothing new? Clearly something is going on, because I manage to discover new music all the time. The problem with new music and the radio is ultimately the source of all of today’s problems with music: the corporate recording industry. All that I’ve seen coming out of this cultural cesspool is a string of pop culture garbage that’s aimed at pre-teens and young teenagers, a notoriously profitable group. There’s nothing wrong with seeking profits, but they’re not doing anything to advance their art.

Of course the people running the recording industry are the same type running Wall Street and the auto industry. A bunch of “professional managers” with high power MBA’s. These are people who went to Harvard or Stanford business schools and come out with the arrogant notion that they can run any business and know better than anyone else, including people with specialized knowledge about those businesses. Just like how Wall Street executives seem to know nothing about how to run a sustainable bank, recording industry execs know nothing about music. They know how to make lots of money and how to promote artificial groups and artists to impress the kids, but they know shit about music.

Several people have noted that a large percentage of the recording industry’s income comes from their library. That’s either people re-buying things or people discovering older music and slurping it up. What this requires though, is artists with lasting power, not a string of one hit wonders or groups that you loved when you were 12, but horribly embarrassed that you ever listened to when you were 14 and up. The problem is, good, real artists are hard to come by, hard to recognize, and generally have a more limited audience that every 12 year old girl in the US. Its simply not as profitable to nurture talent as it is to manufacture it.

So what am I supposed to do about it? Do I just accept that fact that I’m old and all the good music has been recorded? Ummm, no. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to the radio, and it just happens to be the thing that the industry claims is killing music. I don’t need to enumerate what I use to find new music, since I’m sure everyone reading this already uses them (Pandora, Last.FM, RCD LBL, etc). The point is you have really work to find good music, and then do some more work to actually buy it. Its almost as if the music corporations don’t want us to find any new music. That is to say, they don’t want us to find any new music that fits our tastes and is good. Its like they want us to just mindlessly buy the extremely profitable manufactured music that they shit out every year. But that can’t be it, can it?

In any case, I’m glad that the relative lack of new stuff on my iPod isn’t due to the fact that I’m becoming an old fart, but because, yet again, the recording industry sucks.