iphone analogies

Mark Pilgrim has written a now-dugg post on the iphone, and how people should learn to stop buying products from Apple in the hopes that they will get a clue and truly open them up.

Although the blog post is nice, I prefer the simplicity of his delicious comment:
“Doctor, it hurts when I buy Apple products.”

The punchline, for those that don’t recognize the joke: “Then don’t do that.”

Or take the digg comments when Steve Jobs took X+200$ from people for an iphone, then gave them 100$ back so they can spend it at the Apple store. Commenters were falling over themselves praising Apple for doing the right thing, even though customers have still spent X+200$ at Apple, and the only thing Apple loses is the equivalent of a few months iphone subscription revenue. My response: “Thank you sir may I have another!”

Similarly, I often describe buying a Mac as a deal with the devil. You get the best-available computing experience money can buy, but you’ll have to put up with Steven P. Jobs’ odd whims — some of which cost money18-month 129$ charges for OS upgrades, plus money for simple utilities that should be free, others of which just make you mad“Why do I have to buy the expensive laptop to get it in black?”, some of which screw you over“you mean this device that worked with my ipod two days ago doesn’t work now because it doesn’t have a chip from apple?”.

But I think the most apt analogy for Apple and its users is the abusive relationship. Apple will slap you around and beat you up, but it’ll always come back with a bouquet of flowers and promise that this time things’ll be different.


Now apparently Apple is saying “I’ll buy you a bouquet of flowers, and you can choose the flowers, but only if I think they go with the drapes.”

Buddha Box music — now with more zen

At FUDCON 2007, someone brought a Buddha Machine, aka Buddha Box. It was very cool, and I was pleased to see that the sound tracks are available for download.

However, Track 1 has some nasty high-frequency distortion in the wave file that renders it extremely not zen. I decided to run a filter over it to clean it up, and turned to my usual go-to sound program (which I dislike) called Audacity. Audacity wanted no part of Buddha:

audacity: layer3.c:2633: mad_layer_III: Assertion `stream->md_len + md_len - si.main_data_begin < = (511 + 2048 + 8)' failed.
Aborted (core dumped)

So I turned to the new kid on the block, Jokosher. It actually worked quite well. Sometimes it was difficult to know when to right click, when to left click, and when to doubleclick[1], but once I figured that out I was able to apply a lowpass filter and an EQ to clean up the audio. I feel much calmer now.

Here's the resulting ogg file: buddamachine01.ogg (fixed)

These files (transcoded to ogg with oggenc) play great inside my sonata activity on the olpc. Add one of the files to the playlist, right-click the playlist and select "repeat."

[1]answers: Right click on timeline of audio file instrument to import file; doubleclick on an effect to open effect properties

Moment in the Sun

Chris Blizzard let me know a while back that Red Hat Magazine was coming to the olpc offices to shoot some promotional video, and that they might want to interview me. So I dropped on by after work and gave them some good bites.

They’ve posted the edited video, which is a pretty nice peek into the place where the magic happens. It’s not my best on-camera appearence ever, but luckily they cut away from me pretty quickly 🙂

Me appearing in the olpc video

Game theory and movie piracy

I haven’t seen anyone else linking to this, but the blog Freedom to Tinker is doing a badass academic analysis of the effectiveness of HD-DVD AACS encryption using Game Theory. Rather than simply concluding that the studios are evil and hackers will beat the system, they’ve analyzed the encryption method to determine the optimal behavior for each side.

They come to a fascinating conclusion:

It turns out that the attacker’s best strategy is to withhold any newly discovered compromise until a “release window” of size R has passed since the last time the authority blacklisted a player. [. . .] Once the release window has passed, the attacker will use the compromise aggressively and the authority will then blacklist the compromised player, which essentially starts the game over. The studio collects revenue during the release window, and sometimes beyond the release window when the attacker gets unlucky and takes a long time to find another compromise.

They point out that this resembles the current studio model of release cycles:

Interestingly, this release window strategy resembles the studios’ current approach to extracting revenue from films, in which a film is available first in the highest-revenue format — in theaters — then later in a succession of lower-revenue formats — DVD and television. The idea is to extract more revenue from the most enthusiastic fans in early stages and pick up whatever revenue is available from everyone else later.

There are currently seven long articles about the topic, but they are all worth reading.

Side-by-side comparison of X-Men 3 anti-aging effects

As I posted on Digg:

Side-by-side comparison of X-Men 3 anti-aging effects

“The actors had no special makeup, not even hair colouring. There were no special tracking markers, greenscreens, measurements or considerations given to the effects team.” As photoshops these would be pretty good, but in motion — wow.

This story reached the front page like I knew I would. It was an awesome link and I made sure to put the “wow” in there. “Wow” seems to guarantee a front page story.

Sorry fxguide for killing your server.

For posterity: