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Simply Amazing

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My father-in-law visited over the last two-and-half days. I didn’t spend as much time with him as I wanted to, because of my work schedule. That’s too bad, because my wife’s father is an amazing man.

He’s 83, still spry, alert, and interested in continuing to grow and mature his character. He flew out to Philadelphia and drove down to Washington for the visit. Later, he braved the pelting rain (more than five inches fell in the Washington, D.C. area over the last two days) to drive back to Philadelphia, before going onto New York and then back to California.  Read More

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Google: It’s Not About Search

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These days, Google seems to be interested in just about everything—portals, search, VoIP, instant messaging, email, photos, blogging, maps, topography, Wi-Fi and NASA, just for starters. Google’s eclectic interests must aggravate Microsoft’s competitive analysis folks. Every week, someone asks me what any part of all this stuff has to do with search. After all, Google is a search company.

I disagree. Google no longer is just a search company, if it ever really was. Search is really a means to an end, and that end is the access to information. Looked at from this perspective, access to information, all of Google’s recent announcements make sense. And combined they foreshadow where the company is going and why Microsoft really should worry about Google.  Read More

Apple Culture Gear Society

Apple Makes Good

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With the tiniest of coaxing, my local Apple retail store replaced my wife’s ailing iPod mini. My daughter and I purchased it when the store grand opened, day before Mother’s Day, 2004. At the time, iPod minis couldn’t be purchased anywhere. But the store had a few in stock for the event.

Battery ran down over time, even though I took great care with the recharging. We’ve owned more than a half dozen iPods in the house; first one with battery problems. Few months back, when my wife eked out about two hours of playback, I took the iPod mini in to the store’s Genius Bar. The good folks there tested the device, which barely passed. Damn.  Read More

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There is No Excuse

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Sometimes I wonder what print publication editors think, what’s accidental or intentional in publishing and what is the backstory beyond certain decisions. Excellent example is last week’s New York Times Magazine.

On page 78 starts an article about luxury hybrid vehicles. Part way through the story is a two-page ad for Lexus, the kind of ad no legitimate publication would allow. Tagline: “Welcome to the Luxury Hybrid”. An ad for a Lexus hybrid vehicle in a story about hybrid vehicles? For shame! Print publication tradition, particularly in the esteemed New York Times Magazine, would forbid the mixing of editorial and related ad copy.  Read More

Culture Ethics Fair Use Free Speech Music Responsibility Rights Society The Arts

No Direction Forward

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I recorded the PBS special on Bob Dylan, “No Direction Home” and finished the first part last night. The film left me with a sense of loss about the state of American culture.

Dylan started making music at a time of counterculture poetry and song, the Greenwich Village crowd, that still had some lifeblood even through the early 1980s. My question: Where is the interest in arts for arts sake today? I recognize this isn’t exactly a new problem. The term counterculture is explanation enough for a longstanding problem.  Read More

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Greed Killed the Trojan Horse

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Seems like Apple and music labels are on collision course as iTunes contract renewals approach. Steve Jobs called record labels “greedy“, over alleged plans to move digital downloads to a tiered pricing model. Right now, iTunes buyers pay a 99-cent flat rate for singles, while most albums sell for $9.99. Apple does bundle some singles with music videos for $1.99.

So, I had thought Steve Jobs was being just a wee bit over the top, until a few days later when Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said during an investors conference: “We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don’t have a share of iPod’s revenue. We want to share in those revenue streams” [source Red Herring]. Ah, yeah.  Read More

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Frak That

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The second season of “Battlestar Galactica” closed with a major letdown on Friday. I suppose it’s really the end of the first season, cut in two. Series typically air about 24 shows per season, which is almost Battlestar Galactica’s count after two, uh, seasons.

The miniseries launching the series is a marvel. The show captures a quality, a flow of good storytelling that transcended anything else on television. The first season (OK, half season) delivers excellent entertainment and, again, some smart storytelling. Acting, direction, sets, special effects, the drama all are exceptional.  Read More

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Backyard Bunny

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As mentioned yesterday, I returned to using a PowerBook, the same one let go just a few months ago. One reason the temporary switch was so dumb: Somehow when backing up the contents some error occurred that I missed. The “2005” folder containing all pictures taken this year didn’t copy. So, when wiping the PowerBook’s hard drive, I inadvertently deleted thousands of irreplaceable photos, the majority taken with a Nikon D70. Bummed is too weak a word to describe my reaction.  Read More

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Switched Back On

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I worked out a trade with my buddy that took my PowerBook G4 just a few months ago. I’ve been missing my Mac, and he had been eying my Sony VAIO VGN-S460. So we swapped this afternoon. He got the VIAO, and I took back my old PowerBook. I still have an older PC notebook that will soon go to Windows Vista testing. But I’m largely back to using a Mac.

The 15-inch PowerBook feels huge compared to that svelte S460. But the fit is somehow better. It’s not like there are no Windows PCs in the house. I’ve got a Dell Media Center PC in the living room. The trick will be keeping up with all this new Microsoft software, which I most certainly will have to do for my day job and advising the company’s competitors and partners.

When will I switch again? I don’t dare even speculate. It has been more than a few times over the years. My heart belongs to Mac, but my work mind to Windows.

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Island of Islands

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I spent the day in Manhattan, where I had meetings at my employer’s office. After work I walked down 33rd Street from Park Ave. South to Seventh Ave., where is Pennsylvania Station. The first day of autumn ushered in while I walked, but the warmth of summer basked after-work walkers.

About every 10 feet I encountered someone wearing white iPod earpieces, and attached to purses or belts and bulging from handbags or backpacks I saw iPod minis of every color. It would be understatement to say that I saw less than 50 iPodders along my way to Penn Station.

In a way, the sight of them made me feel sad. For their iPods isolated them from the sounds and movement of a beautiful day coming to a close as the delightful new season ushered in. I thoroughly enjoyed my jaunt part way across the island. I only wish fewer people were islands to themselves.

Photo Edit: Jake Bellucci