Monday, January 31

Apple beats Google as brand with most impact

This article from MacCentral is a recap of Apple's enormous presence as a brand of products and services over the last year (The "Apple Edges Google as Top Brand" article in the sidebar lists the full top-five brandchannel lists).

Google has been the "brand with most impact" for the last two years, but Apple's foray into the digital music arena garnered it a lot more worldwide attention. It's almost getting to the point where "iPod" means "MP3 player" in the same way that "Kleenex" means "tissue" or "Coke" (for some) means "soft drink." 2004 was the first time I bought anything from Apple (a 15" Powerbook that is now slightly outdated by a brand-new generation), and I'm really in awe of both the simplicity and underlying complexity of their products.

OS X 10.3 is easy to use; much more so than Windows XP. However, there is a lot more under the hood for the die-hard computer tinkerer to "tweak out" the system to exactly their own specifications. I can't really say a whole lot about this truly modern OS that hasn't been said before, but I've really come to like it. I still use my Windows desktop PC for games (The processor is nearly twice as fast, and I have four times as much RAM), but the ease and elegance of Macintosh make it my favorite computer.

Anyway, back to the point of the linked article... Mac is changing lives. It's turning heads. It'll never have a tremendous marketshare, but it's here to stay and will always be offering the very best in modern technology.

Friday, January 28

Diebold to Market Paper-Trail E-Voting System

Diebold is racing to the computer-voting scene once again with their newest product-- a digital voting apparatus that gives voters a 'receipt' to review their recorded votes and for polling places to keep as a paper-trail safeguard in case a recount is called.

Computers fail. Everybody knows that. I haven't ever gotten the Blue Screen of Death on my Windows XP machine, but it was a fairly common occurence for me in Windows 98. I ran quite a few unstable beta products, and as many games as I could get my hands on, on that system, so the messiness of the hard drive and Registry are partly to blame... but even so, it's still a demonstration of the fact that computers aren't infallible.

I didn't mind using a Diebold screen-only machine when I voted in the California recount election two years ago, but I understand citizens' complaints about the lack of a paper trail. I personally am currently in the process of removing the paper trail from my life, preferring to pay bills online and stop the flow of personal-information-laden paperwork that will eventually end up in public view in a dumpster anyway (of course, I rip things up first, but no system is foolproof).

So, for record-keeping, a paper trail can be good. Especially when a large part of the populace still eyes computers as somewhat devilish. Once there isn't a generation who can remember a time without computers, computerized and electronic workflows will be more accepted.

Until then, I'm fine with playing it according to the rules of the previous generations. After all, one day I'll be in the generation that has seniority and will be telling the new crop of whippersnappers what it was like to "only" have a 50MHz PC with 4MB of RAM.

Thursday, January 27

More Identity Theft Offline Than Online-Study

Despite fears that the Internet is a haven for immorality, a recent report states that 72% of identity theft still takes place offline. Criminals aren't taking their exploits online as a general rule, and (in the case of this study) it's shown that half of people stealing personal information and impersonating others are "friends, family members, and neighbors."

In general, I take this as a sign that the Internet is much safer than the paranoid among us would have you believe. Sure, precautions should still be made to avoid giving away personal information such as home and email addresses to the casual observer, but it seems that these common-sense measures are all that is necessary to avoid becoming a target yourself. You wouldn't walk around the mall wearing your telephone number on a sandwich board, would you? Then don't put such details on your website.

I feel that disclosing your city of residence or business shouldn't be an issue, because those merely help occasional readers to understand or define your perspective and point-of-view. A city is too big to narrow down to one person, but photos, more specific locations, and/or other specifically personal information are certainly among those facts that don't belong in public places.

After all of this common-sense caution is taken into consideration, though, I still find the Internet to be a relatively harmless place. Just as a city is harmless if you stay in the well-lit and respectable areas, exercising just a bit of care when browsing and posting things online will definitely keep you away from its unhealthy aspects.

Wednesday, January 26, Part 2

I've used my RSS feed from, in conjunction with a great free service called RSS Digest, to publish my latest bookmarks in the left sidebar of this blog. I may not actually post to this blog very often now that I have a more expedient way of linking to sites, but the latest links which have interested me will now be available on this page.

Edit (3:50PM PST, 1/26/05): By the way, I've edited it so that the feed in the left sidebar will only show bookmarks that I've tagged as "myblog." This way I'll be able to choose which links will appear here on this site, and all of the random just-for-my-own-reference type of bookmarks won't be posted here. However, you can still view all of my bookmarks by going to my mainpage.

Saturday, January 22

Well, I found it. is the service I really wanted when I started this blog. This "social bookmarking" network is nothing but a system whereby I can share the pages I've found interesting enough to mark for later review. You can go to at any time to see the latest things I've bookmarked (this means that the number of posts to this blog, which has been low lately anyway, will diminish). bookmarks are collected according to tags, much like gmail's labels. This "flat hierarchy" (described in detail on beelerspace) allows each item to have any number of individual "tags," instead of the more traditional organizational method of placing each item in only one category or folder. For example, I can have a site about Windows freeware that is attached to the labels "windows," "free," and "software." The single item is accessible through any of the tags applied to it. You can view the contents of any of my tags through the URL[tagname], inserting the name of the desired tag in the appropriate spot.

The *best* part of, though, is the integrated RSS feature. Using your favorite RSS aggregator, you can use the URL to see my latest bookmarks, or[tagname] to see the latest entries in any of my tags. You can even see *all* of the latest entries in any common tag, added by any user, at the URL[tagname]. I'm following the entries about music software people have been posting to (adding a plus sign between tags brings up only the items that have been tagged by posters with both of the specified tags).

Add that to the ability to have access to my bookmarks from any computer I happen to be sitting in front of, and I'm sold. users can even send bookmarks to each other through an "inbox" system... all in all, one of the best Internet services I've seen.

Thursday, January 20

Wired 12.10: The Long Tail

This article describes the current state of economics involved in the distribution of recorded music and movies, but I think it is a precursor to the current shift of economics generally.

Due to the boom in Internet sales of everything from coffee mugs with custom-chosen Dilbert cartoons to full- and partial-album recorded music, all of the available items in the world are at consumers' fingertips when they sit in front of their personal computers. This means that e're no longer limited to the 20% of "hit" items that actually make it into our local Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, or even the movie theater.

In order to place an item on a shelf in a physical store, there has to be a big enough demand among the shop's nearby residents. However, placing an item up for sale online requires much less, as stated in Chris Anderson's article:

What matters is not where customers are, or even how many of them are seeking a particular title, but only that some number of them exist, anywhere.

The "long tail" of economics that he describes comes from a depiction of the graph of a company or store's sales, shown with the number of sales on the vertical axis and the items, ranked by popularity, on the horizontal axis. A conventional "brick-and-mortar" store only has enough shelf space to carry its best-selling merchandise, so after the first roughly 20% of available items the graph will abruptly drop off.

However, the Internet allows everything to be available, so it is apparent that there will be at least some demand, however small, for nearly all available merchandise. Even if a song is downloaded from the iTunes Music Store only once a month, it is still creating profit while not taking up valuable physical space in order to keep it in stock.

I, personally, have found great use in this principle (without even realizing it) from the comsumer's point of view. For instance, my electric shaver is fairly old and relatively obsolete in terms of availability of replacement parts. Every six months, however, I readily find replacement blades on the Internet and have them shipped to me at home. There is no way I would ever find these blades in a conventional shop, but since Joe's Online Razor Supplies (or whoever it is I keep finding to sell me blades) stocks this item they make a profit, no matter how few people like me still use a Remington R9000.

Also, I recently came across an item I didn't even know I wanted, and would have never found in a store, browsing on (or possibly it was It's a small removable-storage gadget made by Lexar that looks like a USB flash drive but instead carries the 256MB Secure Digital card from my Palm handheld computer. This has been useful to me in various ways, and I love it -- but I checked later, and even Fry's doesn't carry such a useful little device (by the way, it's Lexar part number RW023-001, and I got it from J&R Music & Computer world for less than $25, including shipping).

In any case, read the article. It goes into a lot more depth than I have, and I even see digital delivery taking over in the music publishing industry (in which I work) at one point as well. In addition to taking away the necessity for paper and other physical media to be consumed, digital delivery allows everyone, everywhere, access to everything.

Legal Music Downloads Increase Tenfold

This is just a prelude to my next post, which I suspect will be a fairly big one. Read this article if you want, but the next will be a bit more in-depth.

The Onion | Supreme Court To Break Up If Rehnquist Leaves

This is hilarious! I can't do justice (pun sort of intended) to this article in a summary; just go read the whole thing.

Morgan Freeman, Intel Showcase Digital Home

This looks really cool. I also like the idea of Morgan Freeman describing himself as a "technological idiot" who must learn about techno-gadgets to avoid falling behind the times.

It seems just the sort of cynical thing his character Red (from Shawshank Redemption, my favorite of his portrayals) would say.

Friday, January 14

Hitchhiker's Guide movie poster revealed!

The movie poster has finally been displayed! A close look at the credits reveals a huge team that has been involved in the making of this film. Douglas Adams has been posthumously credited as writer (along with Karey Kirkpatrick) and also one of the executive producers.

May 6 is getting closer every day...

Wednesday, January 12

Apple Goes Budget Friendly

This is pretty cool. Steve Jobs just announced in his Macworld keynote that new hardware for the value-conscious has been released from Apple. The iPod Shuffle is a Flash-based music player (think USB memory sticks) with a tiny design and no LCD screen. I think it's pretty nifty, but I'd never buy one because it doesn't also have digital storage space to use like my Flash drive. Oh yeah, by the way, I got a Flash drive. The best part is that it's an SD card reader in addition to being small and USB-powered. There's no internal storage media in it, but I can stick the SD card I normally have in my handheld into it and use it to save data and transfer MP3's to my Tungsten for playback on long car rides.

Also, Apple announced the Mac mini, a *very* small G4 computer that's something like a cross between a PowerMac and an iMac (though a bit less powerful than either). It's just a little box, less than a seventh as tall as a PowerMac, that cases an entire computer setup that optionally even includes AirPort and Bluetooth wireless capabilities. Quite an interesting device for the cost-conscious (as is the iPod Shuffle), but I'd never purchase computer equipment just because it's cheap.

Microsoft Issues 2 New 'Critical' Security Patches


More reasons never to let Internet Explorer run on your Windows PC. I realize that hackers are always looking for (and creating) security holes, but I really wonder why Microsoft could release a piece of software that needs updates every two weeks and still remain credible.

To everyone who reads this, dump Internet Explorer! Mozilla's Firefox is a much better alternative... for the home, the office, and every computer in the world running Windows.

Or just get a Mac, of course... but run Firefox on it as well.

McConaughey Leaves Nest to Try for 'Failure'

Matthew McConaughey is going to do another film... and (surprise!) it's a romantic comedy. I thought he was great in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," so I'm looking forward to this new one. As long as it doesn't turn into a major chick-flick, anyway.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author (use the link above).

The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.