While reading the excellent Mac OS X Tiger Review on ArsTechnica, I came across this Quicktime rant that I had to share.
Mac OS X ships with a complete integrated development environment that supports C, C++, Objective-C, Java, and all of the APIs in Mac OS X (not to mention distributed compiling, a GUI design and layout tool, and a suite of performance monitoring applications). Tiger includes a free web browser, e-mail client, address book, dictionary, thesaurus, font manager, and AIM/Jabber instant message client. When you buy an iMac you get all of the above plus iLife: iPhoto, iMovie, Garage Band, and iDVD.
The total development cost of this software bundle is absolutely huge. The total retail cost of iLife alone is $80. And yet after spending $1,500 or more on a new Mac with this great software bundle, what's waiting for you when you fire it up for the first time and try to watch a QuickTime movie trailer in full-screen mode? Why, it's a nag screen asking you to pay $30 more for the "privilege" of calling the QuickTime APIs that are sitting right there in the library code on your disk.
This is just criminally stupid. It mars the otherwise exemplary out-of-box experience for buyers of consumer Macs especially. Having spent well over $4,000 on my current crop of Mac hardware (plus $80 for iLife '05 plus who knows how much for the Mac OS X Public Beta through Tiger), I find it personally insulting that I'm still not entitled to the "wonders" of QuickTime Pro.
Yeah, sure, I can download a third-party movie player application and find a third-party QuickTime browser plug-in. I can watch movie trailers in iTunes, which will go full-screen even without the magic "pro" key. Or I can google for an illegitimate QuickTime Pro key code. I can even shell out the $30. But it's not the money that bothers me, it's the principle. I'd be happy if Apple simply raised the price of its hardware by $30. On a $4,000+ bill, it's practically a rounding error.
But please, Apple, give up on the QuickTime Pro thing. It's always been annoying, but when viewed alongside today's suite of bundled Apple software, it's downright ridiculous. Worse, it makes the Mac platform look bad when the bundled QuickTime Player application can't do all of the things that make QuickTime so cool: cut, copy, and paste together different kinds of media into a single file, extract and recombine tracks, import and export a huge number of formats, and yes, view video in full-screen mode.
Amen to that!
I wonder how Apple will package it up. Will blogging be one of the sleeper features in Tiger?
This has been a quiet week at work: no big projects, few meetings, several coworkers gone. In fact, I'm working from home today because UPS needs my signature for some damned thing I ordered. But that's another story.
This week I've had a chance to really catch my breath, catch up in things, and finally close in on having empty inboxes for both my personal and work e-mail.
To do this, I needed three things:
As of this moment, there are 6 items in my Yahoo! Inbox and 8 in my personal Inbox. I'm going to try this GMail-like "archive-only" approach to managing my Inbox for a month or so to see how it shakes out. But so far it feels far more efficient and I don't think I've really sacrificed much to get it.
As a side note, the "Possible Meeting Notice" filter is my most recent creation. It's used to find those stupid meeting notices that Outlook/Exchange clients sent to non-Outlook users. I have a habit of letting them get lost in the pile if I don't act on them the minute they appear.
I haven't abandoned my big folder hierarchy, but I'm not longer manually moving messages around in it. I suspect I'll end up drastically pruning it before this experiment is over.
How do you deal with an assload of email?
I had fun flying yesterday. Launching at 12:45pm with a local tow, I made it down to the Hernandez Dam and back. I even had a side trip to Gilroy after passing by the San Luis Reservoir. Here's a picture:
Isn't all this GPS technology cool? :-)
Sadly, it wasn't until after I was on the ground that I noticed I was just a few km short of a 200km flight.
Oh, well. Next time!
It seems that springtime allergies are hitting once again, so I've turned to my old friend Benadryl.
On the plus side, those little pink pills really work. The sniffles, sneezing, and runny nose are gone in about 40 minutes. But this effectiveness comes at a price. I find that the first few hits of the season manage to reduce my mental and physical energy in a dramatic way. I feel like a walking zombie.
Luckily the season is pretty short for me and the effects tends to become more mild after repeated use. So, I end up using Benadryl more than any of the other over the counter allergy medications.
But I haven't tried all of them. Have you found one that works wonders without the side effects?
It just occurred to me that Papal is almost Paypal. That got me wondering about whether the pope uses PayPal. Would he accept donations via PayPal? Would paypal still take their cut of the cash?
After what seems to have been a very long wait, the spring soaring season is finally starting to heat up in Northern California. The soaring forecasts for tomorrow look like a repeat of last Tuesday's "epic" conditions, hopefully including the cloud streets.
The 21 hour ETA forecast has lift to 5,000 feet by 11am and moving up to 7,000 feet by 2pm, possibly higher. I'll check the high resolution forecasts as they become available tonight and tomorrow morning, but I'm planning to spend the day outside and, hopefully, well within glide of a good airport. :-)
It's nice being somewhat back to normal after a few weeks.
I was in Nevada for about nine days, sharing a house with two other glider pilots. During the last few days of my trip, Derek began staying at my place. He was in town for the MySQL Conference and was the first of my two house guests. Then, toward the end of the week, Kasia also camped at my place.
Now, I like my friends as much as anyone, but it was rather nice to have the house to myself (and my cats) yesterday. It was the first day in about 2.5 weeks where that was the case.
I guess it's a good thing I don't have any roommates.
In semi-related news, there will be a second edition of the book.
Every once in a while I get the urge to report a spammer on my blog.
This morning I found a message in my inbox from Digital Camera Battery Inc. (sorry, no linky for them). It was addressed to the administrative contact address for the Yahoo! Search blog and began with:
Dear Digital Camera Battery customer,
And went on to talk about how their products provide better battery life for digital cameras and laptops. But nowhere does he claim to have permission for this mailing. The message ends with:
President / CEO
Digital Camera Battery, Inc.
2328-B Destiny Way
Odessa, FL 33556
Phone: 727-375-9865 MTWT 9-6PM EST
Feel free to give them a call or fax if you've also been spammed by them.
Amusingly, there's a note in light grey text below his signature that says:
Digital Camera Battery tries to ensure only valid customers are contacted.
Google: Pays less than other Silicon Valley tech companies. A system administrator earns around $35,000, which in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its astronomical housing prices and cost of living, might as well be minimum wage.
I have to believe that's a crazy-ass pre-IPO number of some sort. That's just way, way low. It makes no sense. I know engineers there who make way, way more than $35k/year.
I made more than that as a college undergrad in 1996!
On the off chance that it's accurate, I'd be glad to take resumes from any disgruntled Google sys admins! :-)
But seriously, WTF is with that number?
Okay, after sitting on my MovableType 2.6x ass for far too long, I've upgraded to MovableType 3.16. I'm posting this mainly to see if it still works and let you know that if stuff doesn't seem to be working right, shoot me an email about it.
Now, to go install some shiny new anti-spam plugins.
Halley recently wrote about the lack of search engine transparency in Search Products On The Supermarket Shelf and said:
If I made an analogy to this lack of transparency in search engines with a supermarket shelf full of 50 types of yogurt, or cookies, or soup, there is one striking difference with search products. I really don't know what's inside, but I gobble them right up anyway. When it comes to the foods I mentioned, I could most likely pick out the one with the lowest fat content, the one that has low or no carbs, or the highest salt content. I could turn the package around and verify my assumptions. I'd never pick one without looking at the contents.
That search engines just sit out there dumbly with no "Nutrition Facts" label seems insane to me. We really don't know what we're buying when we make a decision to search in Google or MSN or Amazon's A9. (Maybe all the geeks do, but "regular folks" don't.) I'm not saying I want to know the mind-numbing details of the search algorithms, but I would like some sort of product description of what I'm actually searching through to help me know what search engine I need.
However, I'm left wondering what she's really after. I understand that she wants more information about what's going on behind the scenes, but I still don't know what she wants to know.
So, I'll ask the question here. Aside from simply publishing a ranking algorithm, what are the bits you'd like to know more about?
Over on Google Lets Users View Search Histories Pam Dixon (apparently a privacy rights expert) is quoted as saying:
"It's really a bad idea," said Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "If you need to keep track of your past searches, I recommend using a notebook. It would be a lot more private and a lot less risky."
A notebook?!?! Pen and paper?! Are you f*#king kidding me?
Maybe Pam is just a lot better at copying down URLs than the rest of the word. But I'll be using computers to save my searches.
The Yahoo! 360 team has a blog, hosted on Yahoo! 360 of course. Good move. I forsee more Y! team blogs.
However, I notice that the first entry is not signed by anyone. I hope they don't keep posting anonymously.
I have no idea why, but I've found that the wireless networks in use at O'Reilly events (such as the MySQL User Conference, were I am now) are quite hostile to anyone using Cisco's VPN client.
I guess I get my email but not reply to anything while I'm here.
I'm looking forward to several of the talks on the schedule:
Who knows... maybe I'll see you there.
Well, now that the deal is done, we're starting down that road of destroying Flickr just as everyone feared...
I used to keep my grocery list on it back in 2000, but eventually gave that up for some reason. I still don't know why.
I say we take it step farther and give some wiki space to every Yahoo! Group as well. I wonder how many groups would use it...
Where else should Yahoo have wiki functionality available? Mail? Messenger? Others?
If you're going to leave your cell phone at your desk while you're not there, please disable that loud and annoying ringtone that you're so fond of. Consider using the "vibrate" feature or the silent profile. Or, better yet, take the phone with you.
Your ringtones do not impress me.
A coworker pointed out the Mozilla Web-Mail project:
The Web-Mail extension creates a platform which other extensions use to integrate web based email accounts into Mozilla Thunderbird. POP is the only protocol supported, this means Thunderbird can only download emails. To send emails use your ISP’s SMTP server, Thunderbird will set the “Return-Path” and “From” email headers using the web account email address, too the recipient the email will appear to have come from the web base account.
It currently handles Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, and Lycos. I'd expect to see Gmail soon too.
We've got some great stuff in store, and having him around will make a lot of it much easier.
Jeffrey, welcome to Yahoo!
Since I flew 4.5 hours yesterday, I was doing ground operations most of the day. The eastern wave window was open to FL250 (25,000 feet) until 3pm and most folks were able to get all the way up to 25,000.
At one point, Eb and I were the only two Wave Camp participants who hadn't flown yet today, so we the Grob landed we took it up. Here's a shot of Eb flying from the rear seat:
Earlier in the day Eb mentioned that he'll be celebrating 65 years of flying this year!
I flew the takeoff and tow (with lots of fun rotor) and got us to 18,000 feet. Then I gave Eb the glider and he flew for the next couple of hours, exploring the wave. That gave me time to relax, eat the second half of my lunch, take a bunch more pictures, and so on.
The winds were quite strong at altitude. In the picture below, you can see the GPS telling us we had a ground speed of 147 knots! The airspeed indicator is only showing 70knots, so we had one hell of a tailwind going. I have a blurry shot taken 5 seconds later where we're over 150 knots.
After we'd had our fill, Eb gave me the glider and I got us back on the ground. The wind was howling down on the ground, so the pattern and approach were quite interesting. I decided to land on the old taxiway for the closed 21 runway, because it was the safest. Those who saw the landing said it was well done and I was quite happy with it.
What an awesome day!
And there are still five days left of the camp. :-)
The wind started blowing over the Sierras just right today and we got the wave were were hoping for. I had an early flight in the Pegasus, which I hadn't flown in about a year. I managed to eventually thermal up to 10,500 feet after I spotted a pair of dust devils merging.
I hit the bottom of the secondary wave a few times but never got up in it. So I tried pushing into the primary but ended up in the rotor.
I then flew in the club Grob with Ralf in the front seat. We took a wave tow and released in 10knot lift that took us all the way to 18,000 feet. Here's a shot of the alitmeter reading just below 18,000:
And here's one of many pictures I took of Lake Tahoe from above 17,000 feet.
We flew down south to Alpine and then north to Reno and I-80. Of course, we screwed around in a few other places too.
The scenery was simply beautiful. I've uploaded the photos from the first three days (smaller versions):
And yes, it was cold up there. But luckily the sun was shining. :-)
I'll put the full sized images on Flickr when the trip is over.
From Saturday the 9th until Sunday the 17th, I'll be in the Minden, Nevada area at the annual BASA Wave Camp. Posting here will be pretty light.
Only two days into the camp, I already have some good stories to tell. But the days are long and we're rather tired by the end of the day. In fact, I've only uploaded a few pics so far to Flickr. But I'm tagging all my photos with wavecamp2005, so you can find all of my Wave Camp 2005 pictures easily.
Three of us are renting a house for the week.
Note the killer view off the back porch in the morning.
That's the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains "in the back yard." Lake Tahoe is just on the other side.
Also, here's a picture of me in a 1-26.
Someday I'd love to fly a 1-26 with a sport canopy on it.
What I really did today was fly the DG-1000. Here's a shot of me and Hans a few minutes before takeoff.
We flew for about an hour so that I could get familiar with the area.
The 2005 MySQL Users Conference isn't far off. It runs from April 18th - 21st at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
The session list is impressive. MySQL and O'Reilly have put together a great program. I'll be participating in a panel discussion titled Scaling and High Availability Challenges that's moderated by Om Malik on Tuesday the 19th.
After meeting the required training and experience for a Commercial Pilot License, there are three tests one must pass. The first is a 100 question multiple choice written test. The second is an oral examination administered by a FAA Designated Examiner (DE). The final test is a flight test with the Examiner which typically consists of two flights.
The FAA publishes the majority of the questions in the pool for the written test on their web site. As a result, a small industry of test prep books and software has sprung up around the written test. I use and highly recommend the ASA Commercial Pilot book and their software.
A passing score is 70% or more.
So there's really no excuse for not passing. In fact, it's hard to imagine not getting a decent score. The written test for the Private Pilot certificate is like this too, except that it is composed of 60 questions instead of 100.
There are three hours allotted for the test. I went through the whole test twice (had to check my work), using only 24 minutes, and walked away with a 98% score. This met my goal of beating the 97% I got on the Private Pilot written test two years ago.
A passing score on the written test is valid for two years.
On the assigned day, you meet with the examiner at the airport. He or she will go over your paperwork (application, written test score, etc). In addition, you will have prepared a weight and balance worksheet for the glider you'll be flying. Similarly, you'll have prepared a cross-country plan for a flight you could make in the glider you'll be flying. You'll need the maintenance records handy for the glider (to make sure it's legal). And finally, you'll need recent weather reports and data for the area you're flying in.
With all that out of the way, the examiner will then ask you questions about aviation regulations, aircraft performance, or anything listed in the FAA's Practical Test Standards. This continues until the examiner is satisfied that you're know your stuff--or you don't. If you don't, the day is over. If you do, the flight test comes next.
My examiner was Dave Morss, who also administered my oral and flight tests for my private pilot license two years ago. Dave is a great guy who flies anything and everything. He's a test pilot and also flies in races. Plus he's just a total flying addict.
We talked about the privileges and limits associated with a commercial license, weather, and a few other things before my oral exam was complete. But we had to wait for the weather to clear before flying, so he told me we were "done" but he was going to keep asking me questions about the DG-1000 we'd be flying, mainly because he wanted to know more about the ship.
So we spent some time looking at the flight polars, comparing the 18 meter and 20 meter configurations, and learned a bit about the water ballast system as well. He also demonstrated a cool application and service on his phone. For $13/month he has access to a ton of aviation related services. We looked at the local weather radar a bit so that we'd know when the rain might end.
This is the fun part. :-)
The flight test typically consists of two or three flights in which the examiner will ask to your perform various maneuvers until he or she is convinced that you can do them smoothly and accurately. Anything listed in the Practical Test Standards if fair game, but most examiners will do a subset of those. Typically they'll ask you to box the wake on tow, recover from a slack rope situation, turns and stalls, a no spoiler landing, and a precision landing.
As the clouds were clearing out, we prepared for the first flight. We pushed out to runway 24, hooked up, got in, and launched. The tow pilot took us toward the big blue hole that was opening up in the clouds. Dave asked me to box the wake when I was comfortable. I told him I'd do it when we were above 1,500 feet and did so. Then he took the glider to induce a slack line situation before giving the controls back so that I could correct it. No problem. Compared to the slack I had practiced on, it was easy.
Once we got to 3,500 feet, I released and got situated. He asked for a straight ahead full stall. I performed a 360 degree clearing turn and then demonstrated the stall. Next he asked for a turning stall with recovery in the turn, so I did that. Then he said, "okay, let's go look for lift!"
We were at 3,000 feet, so I headed toward the clouds and we spent some time playing in zero sink and 1 knot lift before finding the nasty 5 knot sink. At roughly 2,000 feet he suggested that I might do the no spoiler landing on the first flight, then launch of runway 31 and use 24 for my precision landing on the second flight.
I dropped the gear, did my landing checklist, and flew the landing without spoilers--no problem. I even came in nice and low over the fence, just like I hoped I would.
For the second flight, we took off on runway 13 and departed to the right. At 1,400 feet Dave asked me to release and then asked for the controls. He wanted to thermal! So I let him fly us around for about 10 minutes before getting the controls back to land. I flew a normal approach to runway 24, got a bit low on final, but hit the landing zone just fine.
We pushed the glider out of the way and finished up the on-line paperwork. I now have my temporary certificate and expect the real thing to appear in a month or so form the FAA.
The practice is always so much more work than the test.
I don't manage anyone.
Hell, with Daylight Savings Time, I barely manage to get up in the morning.
Today I was interviewing someone for a job at Yahoo. Near the end of the interview, I asked one of the questions I always ask: "Do you have any questions for me about Yahoo?"
He asked one that nobody has ever asked me before. After confirming that I'd been at Yahoo since some time in late 1999, he asked "Why are you still here?"
In the course of explaining why I'm still at Yahoo, I mentioned that fact that I've changed jobs a few times and had the chance to move around in the organization. I said something about how I generally get bored of what I'm doing (or some technology) every few years and need to change.
"Ah..." he said, "you're a startup guy."
The funny thing is that he's not the first person to tell me that.
In my defense, each time I switch jobs I end up at a company that has fewer employees than the last one. But at this rate I'll be 85 years old before I work at a startup. I'm told that it's a crime to be in Silicon Valley this long and not try it out.
I've interviewed at a handful startups in the last few years. Some have been massive flameouts and others are still going quite well. I try to keep an eye on what they're up to, just in case I ever start to wonder what I might have missed.
But you never know where I might end up in a few more years.
I found this rather amusing. In an email thread at work about a new "feature" someone wanted to introduce, I said:
... In other words, it sounds like we're trying to solve a solved problem.
A coworker responded privately with:
But solving solved problems is *so* much easier than solving unsolved problems! :-)
Even more amusing is that I could see his facial expression as I pictured him saying that in my head.
The current solution, in case you're wondering, is mod_rewrite.
The more I think about Intelliseek, the more I think they'll either try to muscle Technorati out of their market or they'll buy 'em.
Intelliseek's BlogPulse Conversation Tracker is the sort of tool that I expected Technorati to build last year. In fact, I've joked about trying to build it myself using their API. (Could I sell it to them if I did?)
If Intelliseek can provide a killer self-serve reporting and alerting system for business customers of all sizes, where does that leave Technorati in terms of paying customers?
I'm not saying Technorati is dead in the water--not by a long shot. But seeing a company like Intelliseek get serious about this tells you there's likely a big demand for such services. And I thought that was a market Technorati wanted a big piece of too.
This will be interesting to watch.
Update: As I just mentioned to friend via IM: "You can play with this for hours. It's like Alexa... for blogs."
I wonder if we'll put a stop to this moronic "daylight savings time" during my lifetime. Seriously.
I've had a pretty good routine going for the last month or so--waking up before my alarm clock goes off and feeling quite refreshed. Of course, after yesterday's time change that's all shot. I had to drag myself our of bed this morning because there wasn't yet enough daylight to convince my body that it was time to do so.
In unrelated news, would anyone care to guess how many requests I've received for Yahoo! 360 invites? In addition to the 250+ who left comments on my previous blog post, I got a lot of direct requests via email too. I'm quite surprised at how many folks are looking for invites.
I hit the limit on day #1, so I'm long past being able to invite anyone else. But that doesn't seem to stop people from continuing to ask.