|5 January 2000|
Flunky: Mr. Prime Minister! The captured soldiers in Lower Felda are revolting!
Duke Leonardi: I'll say.
Flunky: No! I mean they're rising up in revolt!
Cerebus: How bad is it?
Flunky: Our occupation forces have been driven to the Beduin city limits.
Lord Julius: At least they didn't have to walk...
Duke Leonardi: Atsa very true.
-- Cerebus: High Society by Dave Sim, p. 415
Tonight: Democrats debate again, 6:00 Central on MSNBC. Fur will fly, I suppose.
I listened to the opening keynote of Macworld Expo this morning. Highlights:
- Steve Jobs has dropped the "interim" from his title, though he kept the "i"; he's now the "iCEO" of Apple.
- MacOS X will have a very different interface from the 'classic' MacOS of today. From what I saw through the sometimes-streaming video, it's rather nice, adding some original things and borrowing some good things from Windows (while prettying them up with major high-end graphics appeal). The Dock, while conceptually similar to the Windows TaskBar, stomps it decisively by showing live thumbnail images of the minimized windows instead of simply the windows' title text. Oh, and the transparency and the appropriately-animated transitions you get when you minimize things are a lovely icing on top. Hoo hah.
Apple's preview of MacOS X (click on 'Aqua' for interface-specific info)
- There was no new PowerBook and no updated iBook with DVD, as some rumors had it. Maybe in a month. Jobs did say that all their products were AirPort-ready, and the current PowerBook isn't, so it can't be far off.
- A couple of the demos didn't work: Jobs making an online greeting card, and Phil Schiller trying to play Quake. Oh well. The demo gods demand sacrifice!
- Apple is starting to use their website to provide services to Mac users ("iTools") that no one else can get, providing a higher level of integration with the local desktop environment than we've seen before. Some of the pieces are particularly promising, like iDisk (20MB of free storage on Apple's servers, accessible just like any other volume on your desktop). These new services require MacOS 9 or higher (again, since I don't need OS 9 for anything, I'm waiting till MacOS X).
- iReview is a new section of Apple's site with reviews of other websites, primarily so Internet beginners will have some guidance on what to do once they've made it online. I'm not sure there isn't already something like this out there with places like about.com, and I think they're answering a question nobody's been asking, namely: where does Apple think I should surf? I could be missing something, but I don't think it'll catch on.
- Apple will host free e-mail accounts for Mac users, with the addresses looking like firstname.lastname@example.org. The server will handle POP & SMTP connections, so you don't have to switch what mail program you use.
This is a good thing; Jane Mac User now has an easy way to get a free e-mail account no matter what ISP she uses, and she doesn't have to use a web-only built-to-foster-ad-impressions mail provider like Yahoo! or HotMail. Cool. On its face it doesn't seem like it should require OS 9, but they're saying it does.
The QuickTime streaming-video version of Jobs' keynote worked OK for me for about a half-hour on my 46667-bps connection, then my connection dropped and I couldn't get that feed back.
I hopped over to ZDNet, which was broadcasting both audio and video versions of the keynote. I could get into their RealAudio feed with no trouble, so I continued with that until Jobs started showing the OS X interface, at which point I did get back on the QuickTime feed.
This makes me think: wouldn't it be nice to be able to tell your media-streaming tool to just take the audio track from a video feed, if you were more interested in listening to a decent audio feed than in watching a poor video feed on a low-bandwidth connection? QuickTime is already supposed to dynamically change the streaming rate depending on your connection speed; I think it should be feasible to opt for audio-only from a video media stream too. I'm probably wrong, but anyway...it would be nice.
Incidentally, in the 'future QuickTime' program Jobs used today (see graphic), it looked like they might be fixing some of the interface objections people have had -- notably, the Play button won't also be acting as the Stop button...
Internet Explorer 5 for Mac is finally coming at the end of this month, and sounds quite nice: faster rendering, better CSS 1.0 and PNG support, more keyboard shortcuts, more customizable interface elements. MacCentral has some details and screen shots:
Particularly of note to long-suffering Mac surfers is the so-called 'resolution-switching' technology which gives the Mac browser the option of rendering things in Windows-like proportions. No more CSS problems where a web site specifies a teensy font size that looks fine on Windows but is unreadably small on Macs (designers should know enough not to do that in the first place, but this at least gives Mac users a defense other than simply turning Style Sheets off). Cool.
There have been some particularly fine links & musings lately at both http://rc3.org/ and http://www.girlhacker.com/log.html, two of my must-read stops.
In an apparent outbreak of grammatical (grammatic?) cluefulness, I haven't seen the phrase 'sneak peak' on the web in about a month.
Some folks take special pleasure in pointing out hypocrisy. Some folks are also rather good at it. Here's Maureen Dowd:
- Contract With Hypocrisy [NY Times]
Seems like only yesterday that Newt Gingrich was going to ... restore "a society that is emphatic about right and wrong."
[pledges the Republicans could make:]
The Republican leadership will stop cavorting with office vixens while attacking Democrats for cavorting with office vixens.
We won't dismiss things we did in our 40's as "youthful indiscretions."
We won't break up a marriage if we co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act.
Al Gore is getting more irritating every time I watch him. Now his campaign is dipping back into the 'moronic stunts' pile, while apparently on the street Democrat is fighting Democrat:
- Push Comes to Shove in Gore-Bradley Race [Washington Post, seen on KLBQ]
Gore folks have assigned a six-foot ear of corn to "stalk" Bradley when the New Jerseyan comes to Iowa; earlier, the Gore campaign sent a human chicken to a Bradley fund-raiser in New York (demonstrating Bradley's alleged fear of debates) and dispatched senior citizens - "our Gray Panthers," says a Gore spokesman - to do jumping jacks at a Bradley event in Iowa (mocking his idea that exercise would cut Medicare costs). Bradley isn't innocent, either: A Bradley disruption outside Gore headquarters in Nashua prompted a call to the authorities.
...the strangest element of the Democratic fight: With few exceptions, there is little history of bad blood between the Gore and Bradley operatives. They've spent years working on the same side of campaigns, and many of them are pals.
Pettiness is no obstacle. Gore puts out a press release to say "New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg Endorses Gore." Bradley responds with a statement titled: "Senator Frank Lautenberg Already Endorsed Gore." [and on, and on...]
Gore forces in Iowa announce that they are about to unveil "Corn Man," a six-foot-tall, human ear of corn. Corn Man will be "stalking" Bradley at his Iowa appearances to give the candidate an "earful" about Bradley's unwillingness to debate.
The dueling press releases put me in mind of Cerebus: High Society, where Cerebus the Aardvark and a goat (don't ask) are running against each other for the post of Prime Minister of Iest. They issue single sheets of paper with a couple of sentences on them (so the uneducated masses can comprehend them, you see):
The Sun: AARDVARK CLAIMS VICTORY -- "NO COMMENT" SAYS GOAT
...and so forth. Rather silly.
The Times: "AARDVARK CHEATING" -- GOAT BREAKS SILENCE ON CONTROVERSY
The Sun: AARDVARK CHALLENGES GOAT TO PUBLIC DEBATE
The Times: GOAT LOSES VOICE IN FREAK ACCIDENT -- "..." SAYS GOAT!
The Sun: "MUTE GOAT UNSUITED TO BE P.M." SAYS AARDVARK
The Times: GOAT ACCUSES AARDVARK OF PREJUDICE AGAINST HANDICAPPED -- "..." SAYS GOAT
Regarding the scuffles outside campaign events, I'm of the school of thought that the crowd generally takes their cue from their candidate; while some of Bradley's supporters are getting out of hand, I don't think they got the idea from Bradley. Gore, on the other hand, is being a taunting, childish twerp and a smug wannabe bully besides. Small wonder his more extreme supporters are being jerks, and I frankly wouldn't put it past Gore to be encouraging such behavior. Expletive deleted.
So...khaki, yes? Khaki, no?
Back on Friday!