Monthly Archives: September 2006

Microsoft to rival innovation with theft

It seems like every time I open my RSS reader I hear that Microsoft is going to make something to “rival” someone. Microsoft to launch Zune to rival iPod. Microsoft to launch new search to rival Google. Microsoft to launch video service to rival YouTube. Rival has just become another term for “steal an idea, and screw it up”. Much like Windows rivaled Mac, or Microsoft’s lame version of rival Java.

If Microsoft wants to be part of the future, they should replace the word rival with a new term…innovate. I’ll link this to a dictionary so Mr. Gates can learn this new word, because no doubt when he hears this term, his head will tilt like the RCA Dog.

But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to try to make Microsoft innovate. I remember one of their last innovations…Microsoft Bob. How wonderful was that little piece of technology? And they did innovate the OS by including the registry. That was a home run for Bill.

Let’s face it, Microsoft hasn’t really created a stable piece of software since some intern pushed out Solitaire.

But yet the masses will still line up sometime in the next quarter or two for the launch of OS X rip off Vista. Their slogan should be “Just like Mac, only broken.”

Seriously Bill, or Steve, or whoever is in charge over there this week, try to make something of your own Vista is just OS X, except you can’t get it to work. Do something that blows everyone’s minds. Or just get your shit to work. That will blow my mind.

My First Impression Of iTunes Movies

I was pretty excited about the Apple announcement this last week. I do wish we would have seen a next gen iPod, especially with the Zune rearing it’s ugly head. But overall I was impressed that we were finally going to see a true television/computer convergence. We have been waiting for someone to deliver on the promise of downloadable movies for a while. I’m happy that Apple decided to add the television element to the mix.

So I waited until I had some time to go and download the new iTunes and grab a movie. I decided to download Gross Pointe Blank. The download was obviously as simple as downloading a song. And I loved the fact that I could watch it as it downloaded. I was able to find the movie I wanted, buy it, and start watching it in under 5 minutes. That is pretty damn amazing.

But…I have to say that I’m not very happy with a couple of issues. First, the picture quality kinda sucks for television. I have a 23″ Cinema Display, so I thought this would be ideal for watching a movie. But, the picture is grainy and a bit blurry. I even had a couple shot freezes on me. If the picture quality is this bad on a 23″ display, what will it be like on my 60″ television? Hopefully when they launch the iTV box, they will bump up the resolution. Keeping in mind that these are not rentals, we actually own these movies, I would like to own them in at least DVD quality, preferably in HDTV quality.

My second issue is the lack of option to burn to DVD. It would make sense that I could just burn this to DVD and watch it on my TV now, without having to wait for the iTV. And I don’t know if Apple has done the match on hard drive space and how many movies I can possibly buy. But by my calculations, even if I had nothing else on my hard drive at all, less than 100 movies. Keeping in mind that I am supposed to own and keep these movies.

This brings me to my next complaint; why not rent? I can understand not renting music. I will listen to the same CD hundreds of times in my life. But, movies are not the same. I rarely watch the same movie twice, and hardly ever more then that (except Planes, Trains and Automobiles which I watch on television every holiday season). So, why not let me rent the movies for $3 or $4? To be honest, I wouldn’t mind the picture quality as much then.

My third complaint is the opposite. If the idea is to store all my movies on to my hard drive, why not let me rip movies to iTunes? If this is going to be my digital lifestyle hub, I will need access to the large collection of movies I already have.

Overall I get the feeling that Steve didn’t get the agreements he wanted from the movies studios. It seems like they made this like music in the sense I have to buy to own each title, but not like music in that the quality sucks and I can’t rip my old stuff. Hopefully Steve is able to battle this back a bit. If the MPAA thinks this is how to stop piracy, they are wrong as usual. They can stop it by providing the highest quality possible, something that you can’t really get through pirates, and by letting us rent the movies so we can keep the price low, and not worth the effort to pirate the movies.

Hopefully we will see some upgrades next year in this. For now I don’t see buying many movies through iTunes. I’ll just have to keep going to Blockbuster or using pay-per-view.

I Installed Parallels

I did a bad, bad thing. As much as I hate Windows, I have always admitted that it’s a necessary evil. So today I installed Parallels on my Mac. There is something so wrong about seeing Windows on a Mac, but it’s needed.

Install was a piece of cake, with the only hiccup coming from the install of Windows itself, which always takes forever. Other than that, no problems.

Ironically after the install, I was at a loss for what I needed Windows for. But I quickly came up with a reason. I installed the software player for PokerRoom.com and played a quick tournament (I got 103 out of 508 players!) and lost $5. I won’t blame that on Microsoft, but I could.

I also got a lot at the Zune. What a piece of crap. I love what Microsoft thinks is important in a player. The only thing I’m a little jealous of is that they will have a subscription option. This is something that I wish iTunes had. I don’t think it should be the only option, but it would be nice to have the option of just paying a flat fee for everything. I’ll just figure out a way around the DRM anyway and rip it, but still would be nice if they offered it.

On the Apple side; I wish they would announce if they are doing this phone or not. I’m really interested in the Blackberry Pearl. It looks really cool. I have always secretly thought about the Blackberry. After a negative experience with the Treo I was turned off to “smart phones” for a while. But this thing looks as good as my Razr, and it has a lot of nice functions. If Apple doesn’t announce an iPhone by the time the Pearl hits Cingular, I’m going to have to pick one up. It’s about time for a new phone.

What I Like About Chicago

I am doing a multi-city trip right now. I was in Charlotte, now in Chicago. I come to Chicago about 5 -6 times per year. And I actually spent the first 10 years of my life here. Having lived here off and on for a good part of my life, I feel I know the area well. I never really enjoyed living in Chicago, but now that I’m just a tourist, I have grown found of the city.

There are a couple areas where Chicago just can’t be beat. First, there is the food. This trip is killing my diet, and I’ll be so happy to get the hell out of here and back to losing weight. If you’re ever in Chicago, there are a couple places you have to ear at.

Gene & Jude’s Hot Dogs in River Grove is the best hot dog stand on the planet. Do not go in asking for ketchup, it’s wrong and they will just ignore your ignorance. Giordano’s Pizza is the best pizza chain. Everyone has their own preference in pizza, but this is really the best. Portillo’s offers great Italian beef sandwiches, and you can find them all over the area. Chicago is not what I would consider a steak town. They have Morton’s, which is really good, but that’s about it really. One different type item is the Bookbinder soup at the Drake hotel. It’s really incredible, especially on a cold Chicago winter night.

But I wouldn’t recommend the Drake. A bit over hyped to be honest. I recommend the Hard Rock. It’s fairly new, the staff is pretty cool, the rooms are awesome and the location is pretty nice. And 24 hour room service with really good milkshakes.

Besides the food, Chicago has really got everyone beat when it comes to things like 4th of July parties. Maybe I’m just a bit stuck in youth here, but I don’t think anyone celebrates 4th of July quite like Chicago. The burbs all have really nice park areas with great shows and music. It’s really the best summer festival place as a whole. And Milwaukee is fairly close, so their Summerfest event is a nice extra.

The shopping Chicago is nice. And I have to say is my favorite place to do Christmas shopping. Something about the horrible winter adds to the Christmas shopping experience. And Michigan Avenue does have that special feel to me still.

And the Chicago music scene is still awesome. I would say only second best to Austin. But that’s a very subjective thing.

I have become quite found of my old home. It’s very weird, but I really had to leave Chicago to love it.