Well I got my AppleTV.  Hooked it up, synched up, and turned it on.  I would say its interesting, but probably not ready for primetime.   If you just want to listen to iTunes stuff on your home theater… and maybe put pictures on your flatscreen, it’s probably good for that.

It would be much cooler if you could buy TV shows right from the couch, but you can’t.  You have to buy them on iTunes, wait for them to download (not much Apple can do about that I suppose), and then watch them. 

So I bought the pilot of a new show called Supernatural.  It had good reviews on iTunes and seemed interesting.  It took a while to download, it was 464mb, but I watched it eventually.  It seemed to be the right aspect ratio, but not HD.  So it was a little dark, but not too bad.  All-in-all a reasonable experience.

But not really a wow experience.  It wasn’t so cool that I’ve downloaded 10 more shows.  I did try to buy 1 or 2 other shows because my crappy Scientific Atlanta DVR (PIECE OF SHIT) decided to only recorded 53 minutes of several shows rather than the whole show.  I still can’t get over how bad that thing is.

Anyway, my recommendation on the AppleTV is to wait until version 2.

Unless you have an addiction to shiny new technology gadgets… but in that case you probably already bought one.

COPA, Porn, Kids, and the Internet

COPA:  Child Online Protection Act

Now I’ve felt for a long time that COPA is yet another example of misguided, stupid legislation coming from Washington.  It’s purpose is noble:  protection children from the Internet.  It’s purpose is also misguided.  How do we protect children from the Internet?  Well, in my opinion, you can’t easily do that at a macro level withouth pretty much breaking the Internet (the web specifically) as we know it.

As an entrepreneur I found COPA particularly annoying becuase it creates a substantial amount of overhead on anyone who is starting a site.  In theory you are supposed to verify someone is over 13 anytime they register.  Really, it is when you “collect personally identifiable information” I think, but since that includes an e-mail address (although everyone who knows the Internet is not made from TUBES knows that e-mail is hardly personally identifiable – any moron can get 100 e-mail address that are not remotely traceabe unless you work for the NSA or FBI).   That’s why all these stupid agreements ask if you are over 13.  Although some lawyers argued that wasn’t enough.

I once got a bill for $10k for COPA compliance work.  WTF.  We ended up ignoring 75% of what the lawyers said anyway because if we had one it no one would have every registered for the site.  So we did mimicked what Google did, which according to our major law firm was not enough.  I’m not going to kill my site because of legalese, but it did worry me a lot.

Thankfully it has been mostly beaten down:  Net porn ban faces another legal setback

I really like but this title really pisses me off.  COPA is a lot more than a porn ban, but I guess that doesn’t make a good headline. 

And NO my site was not a porn site.  COPA messes a lot more crap up than just porn sites.  It basically forces webmasters to maintain all sorts of checks to make sure kids don’t access the site.   Some of them are virtually impossible.   But of course no one in Congress thought this crap might make live difficult on web entrepreneurs.  Do it for the kids!  Keep your kids safe!

I’m not a parent, but I’m going to solve this problem for Congress.  Here is how you keep your kids safe from the Internet:

  1. Don’t let them have unsupervised access to the Internet!  (ZOMG, this might require parenting!)
  2. Assuming that is that is to inconvenient, install a filter.  You can buy a ton of good filters that will stop your kids from going to almost all inappropriate sites.  (ZOMG, this might cost $50 and require a parent to “install” something on their computer.)
  3. Assuming visiting bad sites is only part of the problem, you can also configure your router (which you almost certainly have) so that access to the outside world is only available during certain times.

Wow!  Three easy steps and your kids are safe!

Oh wait, parenting isn’t a requirement.  Soundbites are good.  We must protect the children.  What the hell.  Yet another example of the failure of personal responsibility / accountability in the United States.  Sad.

Anyway, I hope they don’t bring this albatross back.


Success and Blogging

I’m really not sure what success is in blogging.  I guess it is somewhat contextual.  Many blogs are probably cathartic and success is measured by how the blogger feels after righting.  Some are even more basic, diaries made public (or kept private), and offer similar psychological benefits.  Many are for friends and family – an easy way, ergo a place, to share goings on in words and pictures.  Still more likely find there basis in ego gratification and, therefore, presumably, numbers matter.  And some are for business or profit.

This one is primarily for business, with a dash of the friends and family component.  Many people ask me what I’m up to.  I have many irons in the fire right now:

  • A complete book, tenatively titled Accidental Gods, that I need to polish up and sell.
  • Plerts, a web 2.0 experiment that I will discuss soon.
  • And, number one on the agenda, Oxygen Games – my new game company

At the time of this writing those links go no where.  But they will, just like the projects.

Anyway, that wasn’t so much the point.  The point is, I’ve started this blog to cover those things and to discuss things I’m interested in which are usually relevant to the projects listed above.

What I can’t figure out is how successful I am right now.  Does 20 visits a day constitute a successful blog?  200?  2000?  200k?  Somewhere in there the blog could likely be monetized, but again, when?

Why am I asking?  Two reasons:

  1. I’m curious.  Both as a web entrepreneur and as a blogger I wonder what makes a blog successful in a business / traffic sense.  IE:  what qualitative metrics (probably measured in unique vistors or page views) must be achieved to be successful?  It’s hard to be successful when you don’t know what to target.  And since most blogs (not all) aren’t run as much like businesses as other sites, it’s hard to set goals, much less meet them.  I’m not out marketing this site and don’t really have any “value of a customer” model even remotely in mind.
  2. I’ve been getting a lot of spam comments recently.  That must mean something.  I’m sure there are bots posting blog spam now, but they have to be finding me somehow.  So maybe I’m a little successful in some way since I’m attracting these spam bots. 

Anyway, who knows.  I just wanted to air this.  It was carthartic.  Or something like that.  Anyway, any thoughts on metrics in non-spam comments would be appreciated.  I wonder what other bloggers see trafficwise or if they even track it.

So in the interest of openness here is the quick summary on my blog (as of this post 3/21):

I use Google Analytics and WordPress.  I’m getting 20-30 unique visitors a day right now, of which about 25-35% are repeat vistors. 


Game Addiction

So people have been talking a lot about “game addiction recently.  This Blogma post (from C|Net):  Subliminal rescue for game addicts? kind of scared me.  Two things about this scare me:

  1. Subliminal shit that makes you not want to play games… Seems like it could make you not want to do anything.  Mind control stuff is just creepy.  I mean who verifies that all it is doing is making you not want to play games?  Soon we’ll need a “subliminal verification agency” that makes sure all this crap is only doing what it says it’s doing.  And can we really trust the agency?
  2. Games addiction…. uhm yeah.  I wish people would get their heads around “personal responsibility.”  Sigh.  I’m not going to get started on this.


Verizon Update

So daylight savings happened.  My Q (with Windows Mobile) didn’t handle it… even though I had done the update (see previous post).  I did the update again after verifying I was running Windows Mobile 5.  It seems to have worked this time around, which is weird.  Anyway, I think someone needs to test this stuff a little more. 

Dumb Moments: Brought to You by Verizon Wireless

So I have Verizon Wireless (probably not for long since I’m a phone junky and I’ll get the Apple iPhone), which I switched to so that I could get a Motorola Q.   So today, I get a text message from Verizon.  It tells me that because daylight savings time is on March 11th this year that I may need a software message.  The text message (remember this is a text message sent to my phone) had a URL in it.  So I followed the URL.  I scroll around the page, lots of cell phones for sale.  Lots of navigation.  Nothing I can find about daylight savings time.  I scroll back up, AH HA!  There is a link that says “skip to main content”.   Then:

  1. This takes me to something about daylight savings time, let’s me select Microsoft, Palm, RIM, and go.  
  2. I pick Microsoft.
  3. I browse around some Microsoft page, finally find some link that says “steps for updating your device.”
  4. Then I have to choose if I synch with my PC or wirelessly.
  5. This takes me to another page – I guess it’s the Windows Mobile mobile main page.  There is something to click there for an update.
  6. Now I’m at another page telling me to get the update or click here if I can’t.  It warns me I have to accept a license agreement.  I click “start the process”.
  7. Sweet, another page with a accept / decline licensing agreement.  (Who declines this?  Especially since I have to have it or my phone won’t know what time it is.)
  8. Now I have to choose whether I want to download the upgrade for Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows Mobile 2003 second edition devices.  WHAT THE HELL!  Can’t these clowns auto-detect this crap?  I mean give me a break.  I’m not about to go away from this stupid web page I’m on to look it up because it’s taken me forever to click this far.  Just give me the update for crying out loud.
  9. Well, well.  When I click Widnows Mobile 2003 second edition devices (I hope that’s me, otherwise my phone will probably die some horrible death) it asks if I am sure I want to download (insert stupid filename here).  I, of course, say yes.
  10. SWEET!  Installation of (insert stupid filename here) was UNSUCCESSFUL.   Wow, thanks for the useful info.
  11. So I went back and got the Windows Mobile 5.0.  I mean, I have no other useful guidance so it seems like the logical step.
  13. Hmm, well it downloaded it and rebooted my phone.
  14. I guess it worked since it didn’t tell me it failed.

Now.  Let’s look it took OVER FIFTEEN STEPS for me to update my phone.  (Well, to hope that my phone was magically updated.)  Did anyone test this process before sending out this text message?  I’m sure this message had to have gone to millions of people, so I mean it’s not like they shouldn’t have tested the process.

So let’s review:

  • I have a signed contract with Verizon.  They probably own my future children and I’m sure they have the right to monkey with my phone at their leisure and that I have no recourse.
  • I am sure I “signed” (ie: clicked) some agreement when I activated Windows Mobile on my Q.  So I have some contract of some type with Microsoft on this issue (and many others I’m sure).
  • Verizon sent me the text message – they know what kind of phone I’m using.
  • I clicked a link.  I’m sure the mobile phone browser (like all others) transmits its browser ID and OS ID to the web server.  WHY THE HELL COULDN’T THEY JUST USE THAT AND SEND ME RIGHT TO THE FILE I NEED!

Wow this was such a bad experience. 


I bet the iPhone isn’t this stupid.


Apple TV Delayed

i got an e-mail from Apple today telling me my Apple TV was delayed. 

Wrapping up Apple TV is taking a few weeks longer than we projected, and we now expect to begin shipments in mid-March, not in February as originally anticipated.

Oh well.  You can read more here:  Apple TV Slips to March.   (C|Net’s Crave Blog is pretty cool.)

My bet is the delay is caused by compatibility issues with Vista.  If that’s true I’m sure it’s gotta piss them off.  But you can’t really release a broad consumer media product that doesn’t work with Windows.  And given all the marketing Vista compatibility is probably a requirement.  (Although I’m not sure what the actual Vista installed base is.) 

Anyway, I know I’ll be really angry if my fancy Apple TV doesn’t work with Vista… when it finally shows up.

How will we know?  My prediction is we also get an iTunes / Quicktime update in mid-March that fixes all these Vista issues.  (Fingers crossed.)

Things I Like in Vista

Here are the things I like about Vista:

  1. I like the new UI.  It’s nice looking and comfortable.  Not too far from XP to be annoying (which is sometimes the case in the switch to Office 2007), but cleaned up enough to be a reasonable step forward.  I’m pretty sure my system isn’t running all the cool stuff (because my PC for some reason has a 5.0 Windows Experience Index), but it is still pretty nice. 
  2. I like the way sharing works now.  I think it’s better – Sync / Make Available Offline is definitely way better.  Microsoft, if you are watching, a suggestion:  there appears to be some issues with out connecting – I am mounting shared folders from another system (XP) and they show up with the X (as in not connected) pretty frequently.  Clicking them sometimes requires a password (another suggestion – let me have it remember my password or put it in that Card Folder thing) and then things work again.  This stuff should auto-connect.
  3. The Sidebar is a cool idea… I like have time and date up there.  I haven’t gotten Outlook 2007 to work with RPC yet so I’m not sure if the calendar thing or Outlook in general integrates with the Sidebar, but if it does that would be really cool.  (Free new feature idea!)

Uhm.  Well.  Cough.   Anyway, I do like using it.  Once all the drivers are stable I’m hopeful all the issues that have been haunting me will fade away.

Top 5 Vista Gripes

Here are my biggest problems with Vista right now:

  1. Sound periodically stops working.  This is kind of annoying.  At first I thought maybe it was an iTunes / Vista compatibility problem, but now I’m pretty sure it’s not.  I’ve had sound cut out in World of Warcraft, Ventrilo, and iTunes.  Rebooting fixes it, but strangely there are sounds from the OS as it shuts down.  I’m sure this is probably some driver problem, but I’m a little paranoid about updating drivers.
  2. Hold ‘Em, a Vista Ultimate add-on, looks pretty cool.  Except that all the text flickers like crazy.  So I looking around on the Microsoft site – nothing in the knowledge base.  I did find a discussions (that I would link, but I closed the browser already) in their community area.  It seems it is a problem with the nVidia drivers.  Seems strange that a bug would show up in text rendering in a simple game and no where else, but alas that appears to be the case.  And I’m running the “non-beta”, “certified” driver too.
  3. I think there must be a major memory like somewhere – either in Office 2007, the Sidebar, or IE 7 (possibly related to Flash).  My computer has 2 GB of RAM, 2×3.6ghz HT Xeons, and an nVidia 8800 GTX and things get really slow sometimes.  I’ve even had them come to a screeching halt – this never happened on XP.  I also only get a 5 on the Windows Experience Index, which seems kind of low give that much horsepower.
  4. Alt-Tabbing between a full screen game and Windows is pretty chunky.
  5. Lack of drivers – I want to use the cool features of gaming keyboards (I have a Logitech G15 and am also testing out the new Razer Tarantula).   I’m afraid to install the XP ones.
  6. (Yeah I know I said 5.)  The freaking security alerts get really annoying.  Those Mac ads are right on (and especially hilarious if you have used Vista).  Another annoying thing is that I have to run World of Warcraft in Administrator mode to get updates to install – what a hassle.

To be fair, there are a lot of things I actually like about Vista (one of the two reasons I haven’t rolled back to XP – the other is I like testing out the cutting edge stuff).  So I will write a Top 5 things I like about Vista.

Let’s Chat about Frivolous Lawsuits

I hate stupid lawsuits.  What a waste of society’s time and energy.  But to the point:

Man sues IBM over adult chat room firing

I’ve been pretty involved in the evolution of chat on the Internet (I founded ichat back in 1995) and I find this particularly amusing.  The article opens with this:

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.

So let’s dismantle this real quick:

  1. The guy makes $65,000 a year – what possible basis does he have for a $5 million claim?  Ludicrous.
  2. And then there is:

“Plaintiff was discharged by IBM because he visited an Internet chat room for a sexual experience during work after he had been previously warned,” the company said.

Ridiculous claim.  Previously warned.  STFU.

Anyway, moving on.  This scares me:

If it goes to trial, the case could affect how employers regulate Internet use that is not work-related, or how Internet overuse is categorized medically. Stanford University issued a nationwide study last year that found that up to 14 percent of computer users reported neglecting work, school, families, food and sleep to use the Internet.

So I have some other behavior disorders we should tolerate in the workplace:

  • Laziness.   I know a lot of people that have this affliction.  Especially with periodic, but extreme bouts.
  • Apathy.  (Also malaise, ennui.)   Similar to laziness, this can have a visible impact on workplace productivity.

You know, I thought about making a long list, but you probably get the picture.  Business exist to do business, not to entertain their employees.  Certainly companies that keep their employees happy, motivated, and energized, are going to be more successful in most cases.  But employees that don’t do their job or take advantage of the trust their employers deserver to be fired.

One more thing.  Imagine if TVs were required for work in a modern office environment (as, I’m sure you’ve noticed, are computers).  This article would read:

John Doe sued IBM today for $5 million dollars because he was terminated for watching 3 hours a day of the Yound and the Restless at work.  He claimed a television addiction and that he should be given treatment options rather than fired.

People would laugh at that.  It’s not like people have the right to smoke in the office any more and that’s an actual addiction.  No one is suing about that…. because they would get laughed out of court.