Tuesday, January 31, 2006

George says it...

Now we all can walk in Karl Rove's shoes, even if only for a moment.

Link (thanks Mike!)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hasselhoff's hooked on a feeling

Yes, that's David Hasselhoff. Yes, he's performing a balancing act on a motorcycle before taking flight with the angels. Yup, that's him in an Eskimo costume with a fish in his mouth.

Yes. It is quite awesome.


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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Google kowtows to Chinese government with self-censorship

Do No Evil. Don't Be Evil. I'm sure you've heard that before. Google's slogan, good behavior and financial performance has made it a media and Wall Street darling. The first line of their own corporate overview states that "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." [emphasis added] They go on to state that "[w]hile many companies claim to put their customers first, few are able to resist the temptation to make small sacrifices to increase shareholder value." Lately, it seems that financial interests are starting to undermine its relatively progressive (when compared with most large corporations) philosophy. After all, as they say, "Google is a business."

Google's recent move to kowtow to the Chinese government's demand to censor its searches has wide ranging implications for not only Google, but other companies that may follow Google's lead. Google, having put themselves into the position of moral authority, has been able set precedents in the American court system. Just last week, they won a case establishing that Google Cache constitutes fair use, which will certainly be cited in future copyfight cases. The day before brought a demand for search data from the Department of Justice to which Google refused to comply, side-stepping an unsettling precedent with regards to privacy (even if that wasn't their stated intent). The point is, companies are watching Google for queues about how they should behave. Like it or not, Google is setting a precedent of a different kind by complying with the Chinese government's requests.

Ultimately, it's the Chinese people that continue to pay the price for this suppression of information. Philip Lenssen has compiled a list cataloguing the variance found in search results from both www.google.com (the US version) and www.google.cn (the Chinese version). In it, search terms such as "tibet," "human rights china," and "tiananmen massacre" yielded some interesting results:
  • Tibet: 47,200,000 matches at Google.com vs. 14,100,000 at Google.cn
  • Human rights China: 102,000,000 vs. 33,300,000 matches
  • Tiananmen massacre: 541,000 vs. 1,050
  • Falun Gong: 2,750,000 vs. 11,900
And for good measure:
  • Playboy: 48,900,000 vs. 17,700,000 matches
  • Fuck: 89,600,000 vs. 189,000
There are a couple threads about this on Slashdot, with some lively discussion (as always). I encourage you to read them. Here are some choice quotes:
lamasquerade (172547):
Google is an informaiton [sic] company. Their entire existence is justified by making access to and use of information easier. If they censor that information based on the petty politics of nationalists (or any other political concern) then they are not serving their purpose. They are in fact reinforcing the policies of censorship and repression in China.

BewireNomali (618969):
I'd trip over myself to do business in China. Are you kidding me? Also, you lamers don't realize that Google in China would do more to erode the government's power than not? It's better for the young Chinese that Google be there, censorship or no.
Bambi Francisco expands on Google's need to reach the Chinese audience in an article for Yahoo! Finance, Singapore:
Google is expected to report $4.03 billion in sales for all of last year and to generate $6.55 billion this year. By comparison, Baidu.com Inc. (BIDU) - the leading search engine in China - generated $38 million in sales in 2004 and $72 million in 2005.

While China's potential revenue may be a rounding error today, the search engine is implicitly saying that not to work in China will be a much larger error a decade from now.

Once you start adding up the sales across the Chinese Internet companies, the numbers do get larger. The 2005 combined revenue of Sohu.com Inc. (SOHU), Sina Corp. (SINA), Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd. (SNDA) and NetEase.com Inc. (NTES) is $748 million.
Google's position on the matter is that "while removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission."

Anders Bylund at ArsTechnica goes further to point out the obvious hypocrisy in this statement:
[Reporters Without Borders'] point about Google's hypocrisy looks spot on: the company is bending and twisting the language of its own mission statement in an effort to make it look like going into the Chinese market is the Right Thing To Do™, even under heavy censorship. From our vantage point here at the Orbiting HQ, it looks like an effort to justify going after the almighty Yuan before someone else starts to dominate that market. And what about the hard-line attitude to that American subpoena?
Although hypocritical, maybe there is a nugget of truth in Google's statement. Perhaps by just being there, even under censor, they can make a difference. History has shown that it's nearly impossible to filter the almighty Internet. I took the search engine for a spin and found that the top two search results for "Tibet" were links to www.tibet.org and www.tibet.com, the latter being the website for the Tibetan Government in Exile, which is pretty high up on the Chinese government's shit-list. I'm pretty sure that it will only be a matter of time before those results are stripped from the searches, but the information wants to be found. The idealist in me hopes that the information will find a way to seep through, but time will tell.

As said on Slashdot, "at least they have MS and Y! to keep them company."

Another contributor suggested they add a caveat to their slogan:
Do no evil(*)

(*) Void where prohibited

Windows Live Messenger invitations available

I have five invitations to try Windows Live Messenger Beta. Comment here to get one.

Update: All gone.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Thumb Thing: Why didn't someone invent this earlier?

Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools features a $3-4 fancy schmancy piece of plastic to keep books open with your thumb. If they're anything like guitar picks, I'll be ordering a gross of them.
When I was a teenager I remember reading a science-fiction story which predicted that by the 21st century, information would be piped directly into the brain. In this story, a character encountered that most archaic object, an old-fashioned book, and felt appalled that people in the 20th century had been forced to endure so much physical discomfort, holding books and turning their pages manually--or trying to prevent the pages from turning if there was a breeze.

Well, here we are in 2006, and yet another science-fiction prediction has failed to pan out. While we're waiting for wetware implants, we'll just have to make do with a stopgap solution: A plastic thumb aid.
I'll be damned.

Link (via Boing Boing)

Truthiness is sweeping the nation

More on the Daily Show tip. The Onion AV Club has a pretty good interview with former Daily Show contributor and "correspondent" Steven Colbert. In it, he discusses his opionions on truthiness, Bill O'Reilly, his new show, playing D&D as a kid, and more.
I don't know whether it's a new thing, but it's certainly a current thing, in that it doesn't seem to matter what facts are. It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the president because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Two quality Daily Show clips from last week

I'm catching up on my recordings of the Daily Show from the last week. I've come across two good clips for your enjoyment. The first is hobo expert John Hodgman's first appearance on the Daily Show since having been interviewed for his book, My Areas of Expertise. John is now setting his sights on the Iranian nuclear situation and offers his perspective in this video clip.

The second clip is a brilliant foray into the world of Congressional taint (video clip: Comedy Central, Google Video). This is easily one of Ed Helms' brighter moments. He says it best: "The fact is, everyone in Congress has a taint, but while most taints are small, some just can't be overlooked." Did I mention the diagram?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The basics of Madden 06

As I've posted before, I finally got my Xbox 360. I recently picked up Madden 06 to pick up some skills before our Super Bowl party. Besides, I've been meaning to get into this game for a while now.

I've just started to scratch the surface of the game, and I was surprised not to find some sort of tutorial within the game. This is standard issue on so many games nowadays that some have a training session built into the first level. You've got no option but to play through it. Not so with Madden 06 on the 360. The only way for a newbie to figure out the multiple control schemes is to jump right into a game.

The lack of a training mode, practice or tutorial (call it what you want) makes the learning curve a little steeper than I expected. That coupled with the fact that many people have been playing the game for over ten years makes me a little overwhelmed about playing online. I've done some digging on the web, but most of the "game guides" I've found skip right over the basics. It makes sense, since most of their audience are loyal Maddenites from revisions past.

I have a passable knowledge of the game of football, and I consider myself a pretty good gamer. I'm no pro, but I pick games up pretty quickly. Where can I find a solid intro to the basics of Madden 06?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

How to survive a shark attack

Divester has pulled together some news bits about how to fight off an attacking shark and more importantly, how to avoid getting attacked in the first place. Some obvious tips come to mind, of course.

You never know when this information might come in handy.


Salvage your electronics from a watery grave

I always assumed that getting an electronic device wet was a death sentence. At the very best, it may work, but it'll never be the same again. Here are some useful tips for bringing your devices back from the brink of death after a liquid spill.

Link (via Engadget)

Gamer broadcasts own suicide on web forum

This is shocking, and quite sad. Follow the link for links to a Yahoo! News story and an archive of the forum thread.

Link (via Digg)

Private made public: Oversharing on P2P networks

Here's an bad example of people oversharing on P2P networks.
It took me all of ten minutes find tax returns, bank statements, court documents, alimony papers , (copies of) passports etc. These documents have the names, bank account numbers, SSNs, dates of birth and so on.
Wow. I'm speechless.

Link (via Digg)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Being IT

If only we could do such things in real life...

Link (via Joystiq)

Xbox 360 feature requests

Ok, ok. Lots of Xbox 360 entires, I know. I just got the console last week, so cut me some slack!

After using the console a little over a week, I've got my own list of what I think the Xbox 360 needs to make it "the total package." Here goes:

1. An easy way to toggle between private and public chat. This may exist, but I haven't stumbled upon it yet. There needs to be an easy way to bounce back and forth between the public chat in the lobby of a live game (like PGR3) and a private chat that you're having with a friend at the same time. Chatting it up with people that you're racing is a fun part of live play, but it depends on the group. Even if the group isn't all the chatty, you may still have to say a few things (explaining the parameters of a race, for instance) without having to end your private conversation.

2. Background file downloads and a download queue. It's a real pain that you can't do other things while downloading a file. I understand that it may not be desirable to allow the user to play a game while downloading, but why not let that user continue to browse the Xbox Live Marketplace? Better yet, why not let me add a number of files to a download queue? When I'm finished browsing, I could download everything at once.

3. How about RSS with enclosures? Let's enable podcasting and "video-casting" (hey, this site is called Neologies) support. Microsoft has the potential to reel in a lot of non-gamers (or just increase the "spouse acceptance factor," or SAF) with its movie trailer section, but my fiance doesn't want to sit and watch a progress bar all evening. Why not implement some sort of opt-in mechanism to check for syndicated content on a set schedule? If we only had the technology. Imagine a world where you could power up your console to find your new trailers (or other media) ready for your perusal.

4. Add the ability to play/stream anything to my Xbox. This is probably a long shot, but let me stream content encoded in something other than WMV, WMA, MP3 or MPG-1/2 (see Microsoft's FAQ) from my Media Center. DivX or AAC anyone?

5. Tweak the navigation. This is minor, but how about improving the menu system a bit? It's already a pretty efficient system, but some minor changes could go a long way. For instance, how come it takes three button presses (or more) to watch a video I just downloaded? Why can't I jump straight to my gamer card after downloading a gamer picture? It's not as bad as PGR3's menu system, but it could be better. A search feature in the Xbox Live Marketplace would be helpful, as would a customizable short-cut screen a-la a Motorola cell phone. Again, these are nit-picks, so don't jump down my throat.

Please be aware that I'm making these comments in the interest of making the console better. I am in no way implying that the Xbox 360 is not a good system. In fact, I think that it's a great system. Please try to take another perspective: If you were Microsoft, wouldn't you want to know what people thought so that you could make the best console possible?

Am I missing anything? Please post your ideas and comments below.

Oh yeah, feel free to drop me a message or game invite:

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Biometrics on game controllers?

Joystiq poses a question about the use of biometrics in Xbox 360 controller to verify an Xbox Live user's identity or as an aid to parental controls:
Why? Because there are very frequent scenarios (especially when playing PGR3!) that require users to sign in, sign out, and sign in again. Because parents can't remember the passwords required to lock their kids out of certain content, but never forget their fingerprints. Because it'd be awesome (and a bit scary) to have your friend's console pull up your gamer profile instantly at the simple swipe of a finger. Because it's unsafe to enter your passwords into an Xbox 360 in a room full of people who you may not trust with the password to your Hotmail account. Because of the cool factor. Because anything that helps us avoid that godawful texting interface is a blessing. Because I'd like to make sure that my actual presence is verified prior to every purchase that rings up a charge on my credit card. Period.
These could be very useful applications for biometrics on the Xbox 360. While it may seem like a great feature, I don't think that it is a good idea. It may be handy as a way for parents to forgo the use of passwords at the home console, making it work for multiple consoles brings up a couple of issues:
  1. Privacy. There's a big difference between storing your fingerprint on your local console (a 1:1 system) and using it online (1:N). To do that, your prints would have to be stored online and transmitted whenever used. If any part of that process were compromised, the affect would be more dangerous than a lost password. That raises serious privacy concerns.
  2. Feasibility. I don't know much about the technical details, but I don't think that those biometric readers are all that accurate. 1:1 systems are "fuzzy." That is, they store the minimum amount of data points about a fingerprint to make a match. Since they only have a small set of prints to work with, that isn't a big deal much. In large scale systems (say 1:250000), the amount of points to match are much, much higher to avoid false matches. That would take extra horsepower. I don't know how much, but it may make the system less feasible from a technical perspective.
  3. Accuracy. An Avaya study on a 1:100 scale system found a false match rate (FMR) of 0.02% when requiring a single swipe of the user's digit. If that rate held up in a 1:250000 user scenario, that's 5000 false matches. That doesn't inspire confidence.
While it may look like a good idea on the surface, I don't think that it would (or should) work out in practice. I know I wouldn't want to send my fingerprints to anyone, let alone Microsoft.

As always, thanks for the consistently smart and stimulating content, Vladimir and company! I always look to Joystiq for the latest news and opinions that rise above regurgitated press release fare.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

There is no such thing as a blogger

I caught wind of Simon Dumenco's column in Ad Age via BoingBoing. In it Simon poses that a blogger is just a writer using a different medium:
I've been thinking of what I am -- about what any media person in the digital age is -- since having coffee last week with a 30-something newspaper editor who bemoaned the fact that newspapers keep on setting up blogs as these separate, exotic add-ons to their Web sites, instead of integrating blogging into their usual newsgathering operations. There's simply no good reason to segregate the functions, he insisted.

And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing -- writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder. It's just software, people! The underlying creative/media function remains exactly the same.
This idea really resonates with me. We're all just writing. Some are better than others, of course. The difference, I suppose is that although some are more influential than others in the realm of the written word, this new(ish) medium allows for a greater degree of participation by the layman. Its ease of use also speeds up the rate at which content can be published, which may have an impact on the process itself:
In the very near future, there are only going to be two types of media people: those who can reliably work and publish (or broadcast) incredibly fast, and those ... who can’t.
Link (via BoingBoing)

Urban Outfitters rip off independent t-shirt company?

Johnny Cupcakes, a small t-shirt designer with his own clothing line, claims that he was ripped off by Urban Outfitters. Says Johnny:
Urban Outfitters have just released a shirt with a jet dropping cupcakes (with a different color scheme) which is the exact same thing that Johnny Cupcakes released around 2 years prior. [...] I know over a dozen people that work at different Urban Outfitters across the US, and they've told me this happens all the time. [...] I am Johnny Cupcakes, this company is my life, and this awful, scummy situation upsets me.
Link (via BoingBoing)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Why the Xbox 360 is not my media hub

First things first: I'm no Sony fanboy. I think that the PS3 is going to be a hit, but I'm still on the fence about whether or not I will buy it if it ever comes out. It'll all depend on whether or not I can afford it after over-paying for my Xbox 360. More on that later.

I waited in line for three hours the morning that the 360 was released. As it ends up, I should have gotten up a half hour earlier as I watched the last system get snagged by the person two places ahead of me in line. I tried to get in on the second round at Best Buy, only to show up the night before just a few minutes too late. Granted I had no plans to stay the night, but it makes for a better story.

Finally, after weeks of monitoring online retailers I relented and bought one on eBay. I figured that paying $75 over retail was better than being forced to buy a $1000 bundle from Amazon or Walmart. I was ecstatic about receiving my new box. I couldn't wait to try out the three games still sitting in shrink wrap on my shelf, Xbox Live Arcade and the new and improved Media Center Extender features.

After a relatively painless setup, I started digging into Xbox Live Arcade. Some slight navigation nit-picks aside, this is a great part of the console. I've already spent more hours than I care to mention just playing around with the arcade remakes and titles such as Geometry Wars, Bejeweled 2 and Zuma. These games are just plain fun. I can't wait to see what's next. Gameplay has been covered by the big boys already, so I'll spare you my thoughts on that one. On to the Media Center features!

To set up the Media Center Extender (MCX), you need to install a package from Microsoft on your Media Center Edition (MCE) PC. Depending on how up to date your machine is, the size of this package varies. I already had MCE Rollup 2 installed, so I only needed to run a small updater. Overall, the setup process was fairly easy.

Once set up, you can launch the Media Center Extender on your Xbox. Doing so presents you with a Media Center interface that looks exactly like the MCE PC to which it is connected. It looks great. Now come the gripes.

I had delusions of being able to move my Media Center PC into the closet now that I have a fully functioning Xbox 360 Media Center Extender to replace it. That certainly isn't going to happen any time soon. While the extender interface looks slick, it doesn't do what my MCE PC does.

First off, I have an iPod. In order to avoid having to re-encode a number of my albums that were ripped in AAC format, I use MusicBridge, a solution offered up by the good people over at TheGreenButton.com. Unfortunately, this causes the extender software to crash. I can understand why this particular solution isn't supported, but I shouldn't have to hack my Media Center to play these files in the first place. If the Xbox 360 can support playing AAC files from my iPod, why is it that the MCX cannot do the same? At the very least, the files should be skipped rather than cause the software to crash.

Secondly, I have video files that use the DivX and XviD (the open source flavor of DivX) codecs. The Xbox 360 MCX simply won't play these files, even though they work without a hitch on my MCE machine. I've seen a number of reasons for this, and what follows is a point-counterpoint that I have cherry picked from a number of sources.

Major Nelson indicates in his podcast (starting at 00:13:15) that the Xbox won't support DivX because the codec is commonly used for watching copied DVD's.

That is absurd.

What about MP3's? By Major Nelson's rationale, we shouldn't be able to use MP3's because they are commonly used for listening to copied CD's. The RIAA would loooove that one. It's a typical case of blaming the medium for the offenses of its users. It's a very slippery slope. Why the double-standard?

Charlie Owen states that the Xbox 360's digital media features are determined by the consumers. Which consumers are Microsoft talking with? Chris Pirillo submits that DivX is "arguably among the most popular video formats for creating and distributing videos online," and I tend to agree. I'm sure that many of the interesting and funny video clips that you've downloaded from the web are in DivX format. It's simply one of the best ways to compress video.

I read somewhere that, considering DivX's source, Microsoft will never support it.

I apologize that I can't link to this comment as I can't remember where it came from. I'll keep digging and update this entry should I find it.

This one had me confused, as it implied some sort of bad blood between Microsoft and DivX, Inc. I did my homework, and it looks like DivX has its roots in one of Microsoft's codecs (from Chris Lanier's Blog):
DivX started out as a hack of Microsoft’s MPEG4v3 codec. MS MPEG4v3 was [n]ever meant to allow encoding into an AVI container, only ASF. This hack was used widely for “underground” encoding of commercial movies that then distributing them via P2P Networks, IRC, USENET, etc. In 2000, DivXNetworks was formed and they released DivX 4 which was supposed to have been completely re-written so that is didn’t infringe on Microsoft’s codec.
Apparently, this explains the hard feelings between the two companies. Since I can't find the source of the original comment, I will simply say: "Get over it!"

Microsoft can't support every codec as the associated licensing fees would drive up the cost of the console.

Jake Ludington makes a pretty good point at Sync2Play. He asserts that "the real story is probably more like DivX competes with Windows Media, so they won't support it and/or DivX wanted money for putting the support into every Xbox and Microsoft didn't want/need to pay for it." That helps explain why we aren't seeing support for Real Media or QuickTime. Although I see his point, I can't help but to feel shafted here. If the Xbox 360 is supposed to be all about flexibility and "having it your way" Burger King style, why am I'm locked into Microsoft codecs? HD Beat makes a solid counterpoint:
If you want to be in my living room all of the time, you need to open up to all of the possibilities. The fact is: folks are downloading high-def videos in formats you don't readily support. They're going to keep on doing this, so why fight it with closure of codecs? Embrace the openness and reconsider DivX support. Sure, your WMV-HD is a solid vehicle; that's not the point. The point is: the more you shut down my entertainment options, the more I'm going to shut down products that you write software for. It's that simple.
There are ways to do this without getting into codec hell on the Xbox 360. Since a Media Center PC is already required, why not have it do the work? Why not use DirectShow or another mechanism to transcode "alternative" forms to a WMV/MPEG-2 format? More from Chris Lanier:
Here’s the fact of the matter, Microsoft’s Media Center Extenders, including first generation standalone devices (Linksys/HP), Xbox v1 Extender, and the Xbox 360 are all DLNA Compliant! All of them support JPEG (Image Requirement), LPCM (Audio Requirement), and MPEG-2 (Video Requirement). PCs are coming that will allow for transcoding of formats like DivX to DLNA Compliant Formats.
It is possible. A resourceful gamer named brainsNbrawn just posted a workaround last Friday that enables the MCE PC to transcode DivX and XviD on the fly for streaming to your Xbox 360. It's pretty kludgy at this point, but it's also a pretty creative use of technology already built into the Media Center. That's a good sign. Hopefully others will help pick up the ball that Microsoft dropped.

What do you think? Are we locked into WMV for the foreseeable future, or is there a glimmer on the horizon?

For the time being, my MCE PC will stay right where it is and I think I'll stick with playing games on my Xbox 360.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Missouri Senate votes to ban laptops in chamber...again

As a Missourian, I'm embarrassed. Luddites in the Missouri Senate Rules Committe voted to extend the current ban on laptops yet again. Currently, Senators are restricted from laptop use in the Senate Chamber while debating legislation. The reasoning for this is preposterous (from TelecomWeb):
"It would be a distraction," said Sen. Chuck Gross (R-23rd District), a Rules Committee member who voted against the proposed resolution. "When you have a conversation with someone, you want to look them in the eye."
The restriction does not apply to staff members or the press, and laptops have been used in the Missouri House of Representatives since 1997.

It's not like Senators haven't been trying. This is the fourth time such a resolution has been rejected in seven years. Sen. Matt Bartle, the Senator who introduced the latest resolution, believes that laptops are beneficial to the process (from the Jefferson City News Tribune):
"I don't think laptops speed up the deliberative process," said Bartle, who was able to use a laptop when he served in the House. "I think they enhance the deliberative process."
A previous attempt to ban the use of other technologies such as cell phones and palm tops has failed.

At least they're still allowed to pass notes.

TG Daily
Jefferson City News Tribune

Friday, January 13, 2006

Terry Tate: Office Linebacker

I found this oldie but goodie on Google Video. It's from a Reebok ad campaign from couple of years ago.

Classic stuff.


Chuck Norris is a badass

Things you'll want, no need to know about Chuck Norris. He is truly a man among men. Some choice facts:

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

Chuck Norris originally appeared in the "Street Fighter II" video game, but was removed by Beta Testers because every button caused him to do a roundhouse kick. When asked bout [sic] this "glitch," Norris replied, "That's no glitch."

When Chuck Norris falls in water, Chuck Norris doesn't get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.

Manufacturing Desire

A few days ago, Steve Jobs announced Apple's latest and greatest notebook, the MacBook Pro. Set to replace the PowerPC-based PowerBook, this machine boasts a brighter screen and a super fast Intel processor, among other goodies. It looks pretty sweet.

This Macworld also marked the first Macworld in recent memory that didn't include a new iteration of the iPod. I was somewhat surprised, since it seems like a Macworld without a new iPod is like a day in Seattle without rain. Let's take a look at the iPod's history (thanks Wikipedia!):
  • October 2001: iPod released
  • March 2002: 10 GB iPod released
  • July 2002: PC compatible 20 GB iPod V2 released
  • April 2003: iPod V3 released
  • June 2003: 40 GB iPod released
  • January 2004: iPod mini and HP co-branded iPod introduced
  • July 2004: iPod V4 released
  • October 2004: iPod Photo/Color released, iPod U2 Special Edition released
  • January 2005: iPod shuffle introduced
  • February 2005: 40 GB iPod Photo discontinued, 60 GB price drop, iPod mini V2 released
  • June 2005: iPod and iPod Photo lines merged, prices drop. U2 iPod gets color
  • September 2005: iPod nano announced
  • October 2005: iPod V5 (iPod Video) announced, Harry Potter iPod reintroduced
Lately, it seems like Apple has a new iPod announcement every month or two. I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get "iPod fatigue." Perhaps it's a good thing that we didn't see a new iPod this January, since I'm probably not the only one.

Apple's continued ability to generate desire for each iteration of their iPod is impressive. The past two years have seen iPod sales nearly doubling every other quarter, give or take. It's not stopping either. Apple's Q1 2006 iPod figures account for one third of all iPod sales to date.

I have an iPod. Two actually: an iPod Photo and a Shuffle. My Shuffle has found new life accompanying me on my snowboarding trips and I listen to my Photo every day. They're pretty nifty little devices. I don't think that I'll be replacing them any time soon. I'm happy with what I've got.

Am I the only one? Do others replace their iPods the minute a new one hits the shelves? I don't think so. It takes a certain kind of person to keep up with Apple. The obsolescence curve on these products is pretty steep, and it's just too pricey to stay on. My bet is that people will continue to use their old iPods for as long as they continue to work. There will be exceptions of course, but it's hard to justify dropping another $300 on a new iPod with video when I don't use the photo features on the one I've got.

So when will it end? So far, Apple has sold just over 41 million iPods. How many more need to be sold before they saturate the market? I don't have an answer for that, but it'll probably be the day my grandma gets an iPod for Christmas.

Come to think of it, we've still got a long way to go.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Welcome to Neologies, a depository for my stumblings on the 'net and beyond. In the near future, you'll likely encounter an esoteric mix of links and opinion pieces related to but not limited to:
  • Technology
  • Politics
  • Activism
  • Sports (a little bit)
  • Gaming
  • Music
  • Books, magazines and newpapers
  • Travel
Mostly, I'm going to cover what I'm into at the moment, from the substantive to the viral crap that I just can't get out of my head. We'll identify the trends later.

Thanks for stopping by, and stay classy San Diego.