Three Easy Steps for Apple to take on Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft

August 26th, 2010

Here’s how Apple gets into the gaming console market:

Step 1: Launch the Apple Game Center as part of iOS 4.1

Step 2: Put iOS 4.1 on Apple TV

Step 3: Uh . . . there is no Step 3.

Okay, so it is highly unlikely that an A4-powered Apple TV (or iTV or however they brand it) is going to offer much that is desirable to the Call Of Duty-style hardcore gamer, but the Nintendo Wii and the Facebook/Farmville combo have already proven there’s a huge, under-served market of casual gamers drooling for interactive games that don’t involve getting pwned by a 14-year old with Mountain Dew-fueled catlike reflexes.

Plus, the iTunes media empire puts the media capabilities — and catalogs — of traditional gaming consoles to shame. And, if, as rumored, the price point for the new Apple TV offering is a very attractive give-away-the-razor $99, then the game console big boys might be scrambling to try to get into a new market segment they’ve ignored for decades.

And if Apple wants to really bring the unicorn tears, my secretest, bestest wish is that Apple TV bundle a TiVo app.

Greg Apple, Gaming, Technology & Internet

Readability, or Maybe I’m Just Getting Old

August 1st, 2009

Last year, I found myself having to remove my glasses to read a piece of paper in my hand. A quick trick to the optometrist confirmed that it was time to start to be more like my Dad and switch to progressive lenses. In case you’re still a kid, “progressive lenses” is the modern euphemism for “bifocals” (because bifocals seems so — I don’t know — so Ben Franklin). But progessives are also like “stealth” bifocals because they don’t have that little sideways D-shaped lens-within-a-lens my grandmother’s glasses had. Whew. Still hip.

Anyway. Perhaps another evidence of my increasing Ben Franklinness is my newfound love of Readability, a little product from the Arc90 Labs.

Readability is a configurable bookmarklet you drop in  your browser toolbar. Say you encounter a page for a magazine article or weblog post that has a narrow column of tiny type (at least to my increasingly Franklinesque eyesight), like this:

screenshot of the NewYorker.com

You click the Readability bookmarklet, and it reformats the page for you, stripping out all of the cruft (headers, ads, linkrolls, etc.) providing you with a simple readable format, like so:

picture-3

My eyes thank you, Arc 90.

Greg Technology & Internet

And permalinks are working (sort of)

April 5th, 2009

The Apache mod_rewrite module provides a nifty little way to redirect URLs by rewriting them on the fly at the server level. Whip together a little regular expression to parse the incoming URL, construct a new destination URL for it, and presto — seamless transition. So, for example, an old link to the RSS feed like . . .

http://www.tenreasonswhy.com/weblog/atom.xml

. . . gets transformed on the fly to this . . .

http://www.tenreasonswhy.com/weblog/feed/atom/

. . . so I don’t think I’ll be breaking your feeds.

That’s all well and good when the incoming URL has the data you need. Unfortunately, Ten Reasons Why has gone through being originally hosted on Blogger’s blogspot.com way back in 2000, to being managed via Blogger but FTP’ed to an account on my at-the-time dial-up ISP Mindspring, to being hosted on tenreasonswhy.com through several different versions of Movable Type. And apparently, I wasn’t really very diligent about making sure the permalink approach was consistent among all of those changes.

A good number of the old posts in this blog have permalink URLs that, while based on the title of the entry, have been truncated in some fashion. For example, in some past version or configuration of Movable Type, the permalink URL for an entry titled “Wireless Saves The Day” became . . .

http://www.tenreasonswhy.com/weblog/archives/2003/12/wireless_saves.html

. . . but in WordPress that URL uses the full title, thus is:

http://www.tenreasonswhy.com/weblog/2003/12/wireless-saves-the-day/

. . . which is a fine and attractive URL, but finding a regular expression that will magically add those missing words is, well, impossible. Given only “wireless_saves.html” as the incoming location there’s no way to reconstruct “wireless-saves-the-day” out of that.

So, as a workaround, all of the old Movable Type permalinks (which are all distinguished by the “archives/” directory) now point to the monthly archive instead of to the individual entry. Therefore, the old MT permalink . . .

http://www.tenreasonswhy.com/weblog/archives/2003/12/wireless_saves.html

. . . will now automagically redirect to the archive page for the appropriate month here in WordPress-land:

http://www.tenreasonswhy.com/weblog/2003/12/

For the most part, that shouldn’t be a major problem for actual users, since, except for a few years between 2003 and 2006, when I was really active, few months have more than a handful of posts. It’s going to hork up my referrer stats, but you don’t really care about that, do you? :-)

And, in any event, that’s plenty of thinking about regex for a sunny spring afternoon. Off to the outdoors!

Greg Uncategorized , ,

Feeds Are Working

April 5th, 2009

Feeds appear to be working now. Permalinks for old posts . . . not yet. :-/

Greg Uncategorized

Up and Running Again

April 5th, 2009

So that migration between web hosts took a bit longer than expected, but turns out the issue was PEBKAC — I had to flip a switch in the new host to get it to use the new domain name servers.

Things are up and running again, though you’re probably not aware of it because I’m pretty sure no one actually comes to this web site directly anymore. Anyone who might be reading is probably reading via the RSS feed . . . but that’s probably not working. See, I’ve migrated this weblog from Movable Type 3.something-or-other to WordPress 2.7.1, and in the process have managed to munge all the URLs.

WordPress handles URLs differently than Movable Type, and I haven’t figured out (yet) how to rewrite the old Movable Type-style URLs to point to the new WordPress-style URLs.

On top of that, WordPress apparently doesn’t like the way that Movable Type did paragraph breaks, so all of the paragraphs in old posts are all mushed together. I’m hoping I can correct that with some CSS hackery and that I don’t have to try any SQL manipulation of the data.  Me writing SQL statements: not pretty.

Anybody with awe-inspiring Movable-Type-to-Wordpress migration skills, feel free to get in touch.

Greg Uncategorized

Life-Changing iPod/iPhone Tip

November 7th, 2008

In his Tangled Up In White post, John Gruber of Daring Fireball writes about the “green” revisions to the most recent batch of Apple headphones that serendipitously make them slightly more tangle free. I had to purchase a new set of headphones in September when my original iPhone headphones went from functional to complete disintegration in a period of about 72 hours. When those things fail, they fail. I probably should have done my research and bought some uber-headphones for a couple hundred bucks, but instead I dropped into the AT&T store a block from the office and got a pair of the new Apple headphones (the ones that shipped with the iPhone 3G). I can attest to Gruber’s estimation that they are more “rubbery” than “plasticky,” but that’s not really the point of this post.
The point of this post is whether your headphones are rubbery or plasticky should be irrelevant to the effectiveness of keeping them untangled, because you should be following the One True Way Of Headphone Wrapping. Wrapi-do in Japanese, I believe. Also affectionately known as The Devil Horn Method. All snark aside (momentarily at least), this little hack really has kept my buds tangle-free for years now.
Here’s how it works: Pretend you’re at a Def Leppard concert and make the devil horns with your left hand. (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean — middle and ring fingers bent and held down by the thumb, index and pinky extended.) Tuck the buds underneath the middle and ring fingers to secure them and use your devil horns as posts around which to loop the cord. (Some people advocate a figure-eight wrap, but I find a simple loop works fine.) Leave a couple inches of cord at the end. Slide the loop off the devil horns, and wrap the remaining cord around the middle of the loops, creating a little bundle. Thread the plug end through the loop opposite the buds and give it a gentle pull to tighten the bundle. This little package now fits neatly in your pocket, is almost entirely tangle proof, and unravels with ease.
There’s no video of true wrapi-do, but here are two that come close. This dude has the right idea, but he has clearly never attended a Def Leppard concert:

On the other hand (haha, get it?), this fellow has nearly perfected the devil horn methodology, although the flailing thumb concern me a bit.
The figure-eight wrap is acceptable, if a bit ostentatious, but he goes off track with that whack tuck move at the end, instead of threading the plug through the loop appropriately. That’s just wrong. You’ll never get to nationals with form like that, bub.
UPDATE: Daring Fireball linked here and also to a perfect example of wrapi-do. This is dead on:

Greg Uncategorized

Voted.

November 4th, 2008

I was quite impressed with the voter turnout today. This is my sixth year voting in this precinct — and second presidential election, which, in DC, is the only time you see any significant voter turnout since we don’t have Congressional representives/senators who can vote.
Kudos go out to the poll workers at my precinct, who kept the line moving swiftly.

Line for the polling location

Line for the polling location,
originally uploaded by True_Gritt.


Greg Uncategorized

So what if he is?

October 23rd, 2008

Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, during his endorsement of Barack Obama on last weekend’s Meet the Press:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

(Full transcript. Comments above on page 2 of the transcript.)
I can accept stupidity among the populace. There will always be angry, scared, bigoted people. I can even accept that some of those angry, scared, bigoted people are powerful enough to wind up in positions of authority in places like the National Review that allow them to spread their angry, scared, bigoted ideas on a national stage.
But what’s really demoralizing to me is that this is the first time I’ve heard a major public figure in American politics raise the appropriate response to the purely idiotic question of whether Barack Obama is a Muslim (or an Arab, since most of the angry, scared bigots don’t understand the difference). The right response is so what if he is?
Bravo, Powell. I wish more public figures had the courage to say that.

Greg Politics

OMG, OS X soon available for non-Apple hardware!!!!

June 6th, 2008

Or not.
Okay, so there really should be question marks, not exclamation points, at the end of that headline, but if you’re trying to start a Mac rumor, you just can’t go with question marks. It’s all about projecting the confidence. ;-)
John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes that Apple had dropped the “Mac” from the name of their operating system. Evidence is this photo of the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference 2008 hall, all geared up for next week’s conference. It pretty clearly shows banners that say only “OS X Leopard” and “OS X iPhone” — no “Mac” branding to be found anywhere.
That’s a contrast to the last two WWDCs where all the branding was “Mac OS X Leopard.” You can bet that Apple’s marketing team doesn’t make big glaring mistakes like “Oops, we left out a major part of the brand from all the conference signage,” so it’s a safe bet this is a new branding strategy. The question is why?
The easy and most expedient answer is given by the other banner in the photo, the one for OS X iPhone. Now that OS X is the underpinning for the desktop OS and the mobile OS, calling it Mac OS X is a bit bizarre since, well, the iPhone isn’t a Mac.
However, they could just as easily have left “Mac OS X” as “Mac OS X” and called the iPhone flavor “iPhone OS X” or (better, IMHO) “Mobile OS X.” No real pressing need to drop the Mac from the OS X brand.
The other factoid contributing to my rumor-mongering is the rumor that broke two days ago that Apple will announce OS X 10.6 (code named “Snow Leopard”) at WWDC and that OS X 10.6 will be the first Intel-only release of OS X, i.e. the first version that does not support the now-legacy PowerPC processors.
Dropping the Mac-specific branding from OS X plus announcing the first Intel-only version OS X — seems like things are nicely set up to allow for licensing of OS X to third-party hardware vendors.
OMG, OS X soon available for non-Apple hardware!!!! Extra bonus exclamation points: !!!!!

Greg Apple

Garfield-free Garfield

June 3rd, 2008

Simply brilliant: photoshop the main character out of one of the most insipid and un-funny comic strips and you get Garfield Minus Garfield, a delightfully existential exploration of the mind of a mildly insane man. I’m torn between thinking that it reveals a depth to Garfield’s characterization that I hadn’t previously given the strip credit for and thinking that making the strip better by removing the main character reveals just how crappy Garfield really is.
Now the New York Times has gotten hip to Garfield Minus Garfield

Greg Culture