Monthly Archives: January 2010

My take on Apple and the iPad

I went to sleep with just knowing checking Jason Calacanis’s twitter false leaks.  It sounded awesome and expensive.  Now I’m watching the live twit stream and Merlin brought up a great point about making a place to buy a lot of content.

Apple wants you to spend as much money on iTunes as possible.  This way they have can all the cool expensive digital content that only plays in their closed ecosystem.

I prefer the web and free content so I might have to hold off going back to the iTunes store.  It’s weird that I’m thinking from the perspective of content producers like music, movies, books, software, all the expensive content that you want to consume.  From their point of view everything is kind of viewed against the open web.  On the open web you can publish anything and see anyone’s else’s stuff, but now it might be a lot of indie musicians listening to their friends while all still trying to land a record deal.

The content people feel more like television programmers that want you to watch their own programming without leaving their channel.  All the big acts want to be on TV and they’ll do anything to get on there even if it’s not in their interest.  I’m curious to see what sports and different media outlets are going to support.  Do you think that movies, books, and touch apps will only stay in the mac world and they’ll ignore Windows or the browser.

I think Google wants us to live in the browser and our internet connected appliances are just ways of getting to this online content like games, movies, music and all of that.  I see two trends that will hopefully get us there.  One is bandwidth increases and the focus away from desktop apps or Mac vs. Win apps.  I always felt superior when Mac people would complain that desktop software wasn’t available for the Mac so I felt good about being on Windows with the hackery software that you needed to be a little smart about using.

For the bandwidth point, if we ever get better connection speeds and the average speeds go up instead of going down then we can build better browsers apps.

I think it’s interesting during the iPad announcement that Jobs is comparing his company to other hardware manufacturers.  Those companies are kind of on their decline because they don’t really understand the mindset of users and the mindset of the content pushers.  Apple does a great job to put these things together.

Steve Jobs must have an idea of what people want to do and tell you what to do.  This does seem more like an iPhone for older people.  So the aunt can change the front page to a new baby.  Then have a place to email and maybe use the browser.  For the apple fan boys that want to buy a lot of content will spend some money on it.  So you can buy a lot of things on it and use the apple apps like maps, browser, books, and then special apps later.

Ok I think the knock on netbooks that they’re slow and have small screens is bad and I hope a chrome OS netbook or terminal can solve some of these things.

I just realized that I don’t really want to geek out just now about this product.  Avatar or the Nexus One yes, being tempted to spend any money in iTunes not so much.  I will focus more on Google and the Open web more.

Also follow Garyvee’s advice and F— Lost.  He really needs a T-shirt that says that.

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Moblogging

I’m waiting for my haircut, listening to JJGo and its so nice to have something to work on to pass the time. Last nights blogging session hurt my brain after watching so much basketball.

I got hooked on Bill Simmons podcast after a google reader recommendation. One hour long podcast led to the other. He covered Tiger, pop stories, and interviewed Jason Reitman who I suspected but is the son of Ivan Reitman.

One of the cool things about listening to a podcast while on the laptop is being able to google the topics brought up. So I learned about Britney Spears in 2007 and the rock and roll hall of fame. It cool how sports is popular that Ivan Reitman can compare himself to Greg Popovich and tell some great George Clooney stories. Being able to get caught in the links on the web is great to learn what the heck some people are talking about but I know that I wasn’t paying full attention.

It got me thinking about how we experience the web now and in the future. Back then it was just text and images and not a lot of it was original to the web. A lot of stories were posted in print first and then online. Now so much is made just for the web. Youtube side by side is possible. Live streams with comments and google wave were not possible 10 years ago. Blogs with links are the internets native art form but what will be possible in the future.

Will we experience the web differently? I had this idea of a topography where instead of a lot of little sites not connected you would see more links. Its like instead of going to your favorite stores in a mall its more like exploring outside. So you could use links and data to see paterns and get a sense of things over time. Just having more data is not enough, we need to be able to hunt interesting data in the wild.

Taste and Dilettantes via Jordan Jessie Go

Man showing CDsI was thinking about this after watching Rachel Weize’s character in The Brothers Bloom. It also just came up in JJGO and that’s hobbies and people trying to be into everything. I think the part that people don’t put into the equation is how much time you spend doing something. If you play Farmville all day you can say that you’re into Farmville but not into video games. If you watch about a movie a day then you can be into film, it doesn’t matter what you watch, it can be anything really but if you watch it that much you’re into it. If you listen to entire albums at a time then you can be into music. If you just listen to music in the car or on the radio that’s not enough. You have to have playlists, listen on flights, and listen on speaker systems, even if it’s just a computer system, and live music helps.

I thought JJGO brought up a good point even though they’re both white and listen to white people music (indie rock). That is the most hipsterish thing they can do while also discussing “film” and the LA media scene.  I knew about some of the bands and what most of them sound like Spoon. On a side note, the one song I love from an indie band like Arcade Fire ends up in commercials because the people who pick those commercials (Where the Wild Things Are) have similar taste. Where you go to find out about music, like radio or online, says how committed to finding music you are.

It’s hard to discover music without a radio station or someone else picking stuff for you and sometimes you share albums with your friends but a lot of times they just want the few hit songs and that’s it. I think you can have a good knowledge about music and know Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick, and Young Jeezy and I don’t think there’s a problem with liking pop music from different decades and genres. The people who like only music from one period or genre really like a narrow slice of music. If you like one genre that means you’ll listen to bad stuff in that genre. That means you’ll listen to the more than half the songs on an indie rock album over and over again. I’m that way with Jay-Z where I’ll listen to the songs that have videos but also the ones that don’t have as good of beats or lyrics but they’re good in their own ways, like if i’m feeling a certain way. If you only listen to one song per artist then you can’t like music.

The way I will educate my kids on music will be to introduce them to the history of music and popular music from back in the day and what was going on. I mean you can watch Almost Famous and then want to listen to some rock music from the 70s or watch Ray and then maybe get more interested in blues music. It might help to play an instrument to understand the differences in music but you can appreciate it in different ways. One thing I don’t like about indie rock is the way that most of the lyrics seem like poems that are mumbled. Where as rap to me is trying to make a joke or be witty in as few words as possible.  There are always some puns or jokes that you have to know about something to get and I feel like in rock it’s mostly just storytelling without being witty or funny and just being serious about love.  Rappers can tell stories but dissing someone takes a little skill and putting rhymes together that have unusual word pairings does it for me.

Then there’s the whole culture of things behind it. Like I bought the Buena Vista Social Club album and a lot of people did but not everyone. So if you play it for someone who doesn’t know it they’re like wow that’s great. But I’m not going to say I’m into Cuban music because of that.  BVSC was a cross over hit that you can be fine liking and sharing with music n00bs who don’t have a dilettante taste for world music.

The music you listen to can also reinforce your culture and the groups that you want to hang out with. I can see heavy metal folks liking to listen to loud music that they can’t hear that well so they blast it in their car. There is a certain amount of football machismo that goes along with it, or just lifting weights and maybe being in a gang. Then there’s going to metal concerts and online following the culture of things which I admit I don’t know since I don’t follow the culture of metal.

What I know from hip hop and rap is that I follow some of the culture. I mean I like basketball and a lot of rappers mention that, not a lot of football references and definitely no baseball outside of the Yankees. They might also bring up some fashion, maybe cars, or guns, or just random stuff like 80s movies, black actresses, and Transformers. You gravitate to the people singing about the stuff you like. That’s why Lupe Fiasco is great.  He might bring up Transformers, soap brands, skateboarding, and Allah and if you appreciate his taste you might feel he’s adding to you cultural knowledge.  So you can be culturally drawn into something but you can also enjoy the Rolling Stones just for having great music even if you get none of their references or the time period.

Watching too much Tennis

TV Broadcasts on Tennis CourtI love sports that I can obsess about for 2 weeks and then forget about for a while.  The Olympics, World Cups, and Tennis Grand Slams are all sports events that come along once in a while and dominate for a few weeks.  Soccer is easier to watch in it’s entirety because I can record all the games on the slate and the broadcasters do a good job of letting you know the match-ups ahead of time.  Tennis is harder to record since some matches are done in 2 hours and some almost go 5 hours if there’s any delays or 5 sets.  The worst is recording a match and then having the end cut off if it goes long.  For the quarters and semis I will be adding time to make sure I watch the whole match but now it’s just a pain.  There’s also no place to watch these games on repeat since I don’t have ESPN 360.  If CBS was showing this then maybe they would put up the games online after they air. None of these events are worth watching live and having to suffer through the same commercials over and over.  I especially hate the ESPN2 crawl at the bottom of the screen that repeats the same scores over and over again.  I get how that might be fine watching in a bar but at home it’s just annoying.

The ups and downs in Tennis make it painful to watch someone getting blown out but spectacular when they come back in 5 sets.  In tennis you’re really never out of it.  The odds might be against you but it is possible to come from 2 sets down, match pt in the 3rd and then win all the rest of the games.  The mental chess match is always interesting, to see if you can take a players body language and figure out how they’ll play.  A good example was Federer yesterday who just didn’t seem interested, had low energy, and lost a set.  The hard part for the TV announcers is just calling the game play.  Unavoidably they’ll talk about how awesome a player is only to see them make an unforced error at the same moment.  HD also helps the viewer see balls on the line and one day when every court has a hawk-eye system the umpires will have less to screw up.

I don’t follow tennis the whole year so it’s hard to know how people did in other tournaments but now that I watch all the major opens that’s less of a problem.  I remember when I only used to watch Wimbledon and the US Open mostly because the other 2 (Austrailian and French) were not highly marketed and came on at weird times of the day and during the school year.  I remember watching Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras battle it out in America and the UK but not anywhere else.  Playing Tennis a little bit with friends and mostly playing raquetball makes me more interested in following tennis more than other niche sports.

Tennis games also have a math aspect with the scoring and where some points are more “important” than others such as when you’re down match point there’s more tension than being up 40-0.  It’s weird that Tennis is never really on ESPN unless they’re talking about a young American winning since Pete and Andre are gone and the young guys are not elite yet.  Women’s tennis is tough because the Williams sisters are so dominant and the good women are so much better than the lower ranked ladies.  It’s cool that there are so many young super tall guys who could possible upset the old guys like Fed.

Tennis is also a cool individual sport where you see the emotions of people and the crowd can affect you.  Golf and Swimmers block out the crowd and focus on what they are doing.  Cycling is exciting with the danger and crowd support but the guys are in a large pack so it’s hard to get a good closeup when they’re suffering the most.  You also can’t make out what they yell as they fall or crash which might be cool.

Tennis and Cycling are hard to get excited about and follow everyday without good social media commentary.  There is no well known podcast that follows Tennis that I know of, and besides Lance Armstrong, there are not Tennis or Cycling guys I follow on Twitter.  I’m sure Federer on Facebook is nice to talk to his fans but the people who cover like Brad Gilbert or some of the coaches or journalists need a Basketball Jones or This Week in Tech type roundup. If not everyday than at least for weeks during a major or weekly and then daily during a major.  If there was that kind of value added thing that got me sucked in more as a Tennis fan that would be great.  If you are an awesome Tennis Podcast let me know and I’ll write up a review. I have a lot more tennis to get back to watching.

Proprietary vs. Open Technology and the Future of the Internet

I just had a few quick thoughts about Jason Lanier on World Wide Mush and Caterina Fake’s rebuttle.  I think Jason was mixing some things up with open and proprietary and competition.  He says Google, Apple and Microsoft shouldn’t be put together and work on a wiki project.  But what about web and video standards?  These companies are not reinventing proprietary versions, except maybe Apple, of the internet and not all the best technologies are closed systems like the iPhone.  Microsoft code is proprietary but they work with all the manufacturers to make sure windows works on most computers.  Android is also open source, with closed sourced google apps on top.  The google apps are similar having an Open source OS and then paying for applications on top of that.

I think Caterina focused on the added value that people give to services to make them better.  I might not add reviews to Yelp or Amazon but I find it helpful to find products and that makes me use those services, which lead to ads and selling products.  With Flickr the sharing and commenting is what the site’s value is.  It’s not the hosting of photos but the people who are on there, commenting on their friends photos and sharing with family.

I didn’t like the T-shirt robot that will make all designs available at home, like pirated music.  First of all shirt.woot.com is a great “collectivism” type site where users vote on t-shirt submissions, with the best shirts being made and sold online.  This is a great croudsourced/community driven site where people add value (by voting) and receive value (in shirt form).  It adds to their brand loyalty knowing that it’s not one person in charge of selecting designs and everyone is free to compete if you have skill.

The innovation argument  

Now that we’re all the same, part of this mass, there is no innovation?  Innovation is built on open source technologies and ideas.  The LAMP stack, HTML, even Twitter with APIs, there are a ton of businesses that are built in relation to these technologies.  Also the iPhone, a closed system that created a platform for some developers to develop on.  There are alternatives but if you compare it to car companies, can you say there is no innovation in cars.  If the iPhone is a BMW and most people drive Toyota Nokia phones then there is opportunity to start a company like Android or Konieegsegg and compete and innovate. Ford sync would be a technology innovation that will have its own app store soon.

I think the idea of merging companies together is also misguided.  Just because we all use common websites doesn’t mean they should all work together.  That’s what’s great about online is that we can move our blogs from hosting providers, in and out of blogger, move google docs around. We are free to compete, for the most part, and go from company to company, even if the two companies are on the same server at Rackspace.  Companies work together on security and privacy to keep the user experience trouble-free and if they don’t then we can go somewhere else.  The fact that you can launch a site of Amazon’s S3  is great, and Kevin Rose has talked about how it’s so easy to start a web business where all you need are ideas.

I agree with Jason’s last point about young people all being the same.  But I think you can’t stop things from being popular and mass marketed.  You can’t stop the Beatles, Twilight, or Facebook fans but you should encourage people to make their own music, books, and websites.  There is a ton of interesting work being done in obscurity by kids in other countries who need a platform like youtube and digg to be noticed and shared on delicious and make connections and share links.

I think the fact that you can decide what you want to follow online and where you want to go makes the internet really whatever you want it to be.  There will be the big staples of internet like Google, Amazon, Facebook, but geeks will go to certain places, kids to another, and soccer moms to another.  The big thing will be when everyone gets online all the time, and the kids who spend so much time there right now grow up.  When the people who used to watch the nightly news and daytime tv, read the newspaper, all get online and now that they’re there what do they do.  Will they gravitate to Wikipedia, will they stay on Yahoo’s frontpage, will they discover Etsy or Techmeme, will they start their own blog, podcast, video show?  Will they compete with each other, help each other out, compete against one another or collaborate on a better future.  That is what is exciting about the future of the Internet.

Talent and hard work

I serendipitously discovered an article that summed up the gulf between being the best in something and how we all wish we had talent. The post, titled I have no talent by a programmer John Nunemaker which I found in Google Reader’s suggested stories. In summary, he responds that his recognizable talent is the result of a lot of hard work and mistakes along the way. What he points out is that people for the most part wish for easy talent instead of doing the hard thing and doing the work everyday.

I don’t think we see all the hard work that goes into a product and all the bad ideas throw away during the creative process. From a podcast creator you can go to their early work but even then you don’t see all the podcasts that failed to upload or their earlier time as a radio DJ. On the internet it’s easier to dig up the first episode of Wine Library TV and see how things have changed (for the better). In other media like TV and Music, we see the end product and not unless we watch the extras or the videos of a musician practicing do we know how much work goes into it.  On the internet we never see all the pages it takes to get to just a few paragraphs, but we all tell ourselves we can blog because it seems so easy when Professionals do it.

My friends always think I’m smart when I know a weird fact off the top of my head.  I think trivia might help me in a board game but not in life.  It’s almost like someone is saying “Hey I don’t know how to use Google and I’m lazy but do you know this easy query off the top of your head?”  The “smarter” things to me are those connections you get in a conversation where someone has that light go on and says, “Oh you need to check this out or did you think of this?”  But people never see the smarts and learning, they just see the easy answer.  It’s hard to show learning and show connections being made when the results are part of everyone’s conversations.

When you’re talking to someone trying to figure something out the learning and discovery is easy, it comes naturally.  In writing, you’re really talking to yourself or your audience depending on how crazy you are.  For the non crazies who can follow an outline, writing a review is following a bunch of lock steps.  For movie reviews, there’s usually setting a scene in the movie, giving the basic plot, positive and negative points and then a summary with if you should go see it. Reviews for applications on an iPhone are a little different and have price and functionality as higher priorities. When it comes to wine you have quality price ratio (QPR) where it’s the price of the wine factored into the quality.  If you take the same 90 pt score for a $10 dollar wine and a $200 dollar wine, the first is a deal and the second is too expensive for what you are getting.

I might be rediscovering the wheel that English professors, journalists, and critics have known for centuries but it’s nice when you think you discovered something. So John’s article on having no talent is true but people need to hear about it because we still all wish for that talent to go without the hard work. If you flip it you might just find that  what you work hard at is your talent. Or that might be a weird language thing where you contradict yourself with fancy language trying to win an argument. I wouldn’t know since I have no talent at writing.

China Google Story Continues

So the story of China vs. Google isn’t going away and besides the rumors about Google leaving and free speech is the bigger issue of Business is War.

I can imagine that behind all the reports and journalism both the US and China are constantly hacking at each other to get information for political, military, and economic reasons. China is probably trying to get all the intellectual property they can to at least catch up with Western companies. I think that back in the day the US got ahead by stealing ideas from the old country and that new rising superpowers call us on that fact all the time. If you stole, we should be able to as well.

The interesting part is how the espionage is spilling over into public companies. Freedom fighters, pirates, and activists are using Gmail, Skype, and open source tools to evade spying eyes. Old spy novels always used codes, secret letters, and defections but that stuff was separate from your own mail, your own telephone line. Do we all just assume that we’re being spied on? Or do we hide in obscurity knowing that whatever we don’t post online or say on the phone is safe?

The methods of hacking that the Chinese supposedly used are bad for everyone, and might make people think about security more. I hope that companies are not giving up on “Cloud computing” and that they people in charge of IT know what they’re doing. Besides being a Google fan and wanting Chrome OS to succeed so I can just give my mom a computer and not worry about it, I like security. I want to just have alternatives and not have to be locked into something the way companies are so locked into Win XP and IE 6.

It will be interesting to look at computer lock in going forward and if the same problem will crop up with the iPhone or Android in the future. I hope that new versions and ways of computing will evolve and we won’t have to lug around legacy apps like iTunes and have to do things a certain way because they became popular and no one wanted to change. Here’s hoping the changes come quickly and often.