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A Saturday well spent

Today I learned that Stairways Software, of Interarchy FTP fame, is based in Perth, Western Australia; my home town. I also learned that Pty is short for Propriety, not Proprietary, as I’d believed since I was nine or so.

To be honest, though, when I was eight I thought Pty stood for Party… but I believed all kinds of crazy crap at that age, so I’ll let it slide.


Ten things I learned while my laptop was in the shop

Yes, it’s back, and it only took a whole month for them to get an obsolete part back in stock! “Like for like”: it’s a sensible warranty system, that’s what. On to the list:

  1. PC133 RAM (ie- RAM that was common three years ago) is now practically twice the price of its modern equivalent. It’s still available, it’s just horrendously overpriced because it’s old. It’s a freakin’ antique. This is all just part of a larger conspiracy to keep me from upgrading my aging desktops, of course, but system cannibalism has proven just as handy as ever.
  2. Flamingos can live to be 80. Seriously.
  3. I need to keep my receipts better organized. When I bought jeans earlier this year and asked the guy why mine always tear in the crotch he said it was probably because they were poorly made, or because my crotch is too big. Either way, these new jeans came with a twelve month warranty, and you can guess what has already happened… now if only I could find my receipt.
  4. When I’m using a desktop Mac with a mouse I don’t use any of the commands I would normally invoke with my right hand on a laptop: Exposé, Dashboard… uh, Eject. It completely changes the workflow. I can still hit Caps Lock by mistake, though, old lefty is keeping up his end of the bargain.
  5. USB 1.1 is sloooooow…
  6. Ruthlessness with one’s media is a trait to be cultivated. I first learned this when I bought my Shuffle —the increased chance of hearing music you hate quickly teaches you to delete that which you hate— but I need to get crazy and start applying the same behavior to my photo library.
  7. IMAP is slooooooooow…
  8. While I’m busy cultivating that aforementioned ruthlessness I should just stow any documents more than three years old in an encrypted disk image and archive them somewhere off-disk. They’re not doing me any good clogging up my Spotlight results.
  9. When service technicians have your laptop for a whole month they feel kinda guilty about stealing your baby, so they’ll do nice things like fix the little case-pucker above the latch at the front, and transfer the data from your old hard disk to the new one.
  10. It’s good to be back in the world of mobile computing.

iTunes 5: What, no new icon?

It’s that time of year again: there are new iPods and iTunes has had a major revision. The new interface is… new — I’ll give it that much. It looks meaner, but I’ll give it time to grow on me before I go dissing it too much. Let’s talk features. Despite the fanfare, there hasn’t really been whole lot added, but what’s new is great and is actually useful without adding bloat. Thank the gods.

Lyrics
At last! Now all those lyric-fetching apps and dashboard widgets just need to be updated to paste lyrics into the track info, and we’re in business Check out pearLyrics for all your automated lyric-fetching needs. Shame a file’s lyrics can’t be searched with iTunes or Spotlight, though.
Skip when shuffling
It’s always the little details that make a difference: here it’s the tiny option to keep a track from turning up in a shuffle (and off of my iPod Shuffle), and it’s neat. It’s something I would hope is auto-enabled for podcasts and audiobooks (I haven’t checked, since I use neither), but I’ve found it useful for the odd stand-up comedy album or interview track. What we really need is a way to batch-apply the option. It’s Applescriptable, which is nice, but a contextual menu item or checkbox in the ‘Multiple Song Information’ editing dialog would be just ducky.
Smart Shuffle
People may be chumps, but they know that when you hit Shuffle you aren’t really looking for random: you’re looking for a mix. This new option to suppress (or encourage) same-artist streaks in shuffle mode is pretty nifty. Still waiting for the Rating bias, though.
Playlist Folders
Long overdue.
Parental Controls
I’m not a parent, but I can appreciate the options here. Finally, a way to supervise your child’s media consumption without having to do any parenting! At least I can suppress the Podcast source item now.
New Interface
I know, I know, not a feature. The buzz over the web on this one is already deafening, so I won’t add to it, but I’ll encourage everyone to give it time. With iTunes ditching brushed metal and adopting the Mail 2.0 source list style, I fully expect the rest of the OS to follow. What happens in iTunes happens everywhere.

Ouch

My brother seems to have had a less-than-peachy experience upgrading to iTunes 5.0 on his Dell. Poor bugger.

I’m yet to try the upgrade on my Windows machine, but given that there isn’t any music on it there isn’t much of an incentive.


FireWire ist kaput?

Apple’s new iPod nano So the nano doesn’t do FireWire, and there is all manner of pissing and moaning and conspiracy theorizing about our old favorite serial bus’ demise. Me, I’m calling bullshit on the whole deal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m miffed by the USB2 requirement too —I felt the burn of FireWire incompatibility when my PowerBook was sick and I had to load my Shuffle over a USB1.1 connection— but don’t try to tell me this is planned obsolescence. The nano took a helluva lot of engineering talent to come to fruition; FireWire support was just another in a long line of sacrifices made by those engineers in the name of competitive pricing.

As if you hadn’t already noticed, the thing is fucking tiny. It’s miniscule. True, I would’ve sooner had them call it a Generation 3 iPod Mini, or an iPod Micro, since I find the word nano to be mildly jarring (and the use of Myriad Light in the logotype distracting), but the key point here is that it’s the smallest full-featured iPod ever to hit the market, barely larger than the featureless iPod Shuffle, and still on close par price-wise with the Mini it superseded. That drop in size didn’t come cheap.

In fact, it has been speculated that because of the high price of the flash memory used, Apple’s margins on the nano are razor thin —at least by Apple standards— and with the kind of costs they incur keeping themselves ahead of the pack, inessential components are being cut from manufacturing. You might’ve noticed there isn’t a remote port, either… but unless you bought a third-gen iPod or earlier, chances are you never bothered with a remote. With those models the remote came free, and so did the dock, but when push comes to shove and Apple needs to cut the retail price of an iPod, things like that get cut from the box.

The lack of FireWire support and remote port will likely cross the minds of naught but one tenth of the nano-buying public. Maybe less. Considering the end product, it was a sacrifice worth making. The only problem I see for Apple is the drive toward lower and lower margins on the hardware. If the iTMS is a loss leader used to sell iPods, and the iPods aren’t raking in the dough like they used to, where does that leave Apple in the long run? Commoditization. I’d like to think the iPod’s incredible popularity is having a net positive effect on sales of Macintoshes, which I doubt will ever be a commodity item, but what happens when you win the race to the bottom?


Craptastic

Ugh. Excuse the downtime.

Damned power outage. Who’d have thought line damage in LA would affect a site from Western Australia?


(They’re all too self-involved to notice you anyway, sweetie)

To the girl at the gym with the predilection toward strapless bras and low-cut tops (and to girls everywhere just like you): give it a fucking rest, you’re in a gym.

Look around you, the people here fall into two broadly-defined categories:

  1. Out of shape, and wish they weren’t.
  2. Totally ripped, and wish they were even more so.

Regardless of which of those you fall into, or which of those you’re trying to impress, everybody here knows you should be wearing a sports bra. We can all see that you have nice breasts, bravo, but we can also tell that you’re kind of a slut.

Gym, not bar. Water bottle, not Martini. Sportswear, not eveningwear.


Itsy bitsy teeny weeny

The nano arrived today to much grinning and gaping (mine); a 4GB white model; and I’m still in awe. Seeing as my last iPod was a 1GB Shuffle, and prior to that a 20GB ‘Classic’ 3G (as Andy has taken to calling them), I hadn’t done the whole color-screen thing before; nor had I really done the whole click wheel thing; nor had I done any of the other things that have been done since last I did a done do. Moving on… The iPod nano is tiny, tiny, tiny.

Take a standard 3"×3" Post-It note and fold it in half. Now tape some coins in there to add a bit of weight to it. There. That’s basically your iPod nano. Some thoughts:

And that’s that.

Further thoughts

  • The iPod’s Notes feature is, and always has been, a completely bunk implementation. Why is there an arbitrary 4KB limit to my notes? Why do I have to enable Disk Mode to add notes when I could just as happily drag text files to the iTunes source list? Questions, questions.
  • My nano’s name is Monte; succeeding former playthings Bingo and Bailey.
  • I never used the Hold switch on my Shuffle (where by “switch” I mean “press and hold Play/Pause for three seconds”) because the time taken to switch it on and off was a complete hindrance in the “uh oh, somebody’s trying to engage me in conversation, better kill the music” situations I often found myself. Leaving it off Hold, however, meant I hit buttons by mistake pretty frequently: fumbling in my pockets, sitting down, etc. The nano’s Hold switch, although much more useful, still doesn’t see any use. Why? Because it’s up top. With the nano upside-down in my coin pocket (hey, the headphone cable has to come out somewhere, and I ain’t cutting my jeans), the switch is deep inside the pocket. Thankfully, there is very little mistaken button pressing going on, so I’m happy enough without it.
  • I have a ridiculous aversion to clutter in top-level menus; I’m currently set with Music, Photos, Extras, and Settings. Nothing more. The thought of having a scroll bar in the top menu irks me something fierce.
  • A habit I developed using mobile phones that doesn’t carry over to the iPod: pressing and holding Menu to take me to the top level menu. Doesn’t work here. Instead, I have to hit Menu once for each level I’ve drilled down through. I know it never did this, not even back in the Classic days, but it seems pretty damned sensible to me.
  • One more time: bejesus it’s small. A comfortable and secure fit in the coin pocket of my jeans.
  • Ars should’ve tested putting their nano in the back pocket of a tight pair of jeans and sitting down on a park bench, or getting into a car. Seems like the kind of scenario that will really turn up —more than dropping it from a car window at 50mph— and tests a dimension of stress they didn’t seem to touch on.
  • Autofill really shouldn’t be a feature limited to Shuffles, it should come up for any iPod whose capacity is less than your music library. I mean come on, what could make more sense than that?

Pipe-dream of the day

OK, so Shuffle is great, and the so-called ‘Smart Shuffle’ is a nice riff on an old staple, but I think we’re missing the bigger picture here. We’re missing an opportunity to make our computers and portable music players more like our clever personal assistants than assembly-line drones, and an opportunity for math geeks to really shine.

Sounds weird, I know. Stick with me for a sec.

The problem with Shuffle is that you’ll eventually hit something that doesn’t match your expectations. In the old days of shuffling CDs you had pretty explicit control over what you heard; in fact, there was no other way about it. If I loaded Punk-O-Rama volumes 1 through 6 into a stacker and hit the Shuffle button I could be damned certain I was going to get a hundred and thirty four whiny punk rock tracks in a row; if I wasn’t in the mood for that I would’ve loaded something else. But Shuffle really doesn’t work that way any more: on any given occasion I’m likely shuffling my entire music library at once. I could get Pantera followed by Jewel… and who wants that kind of mix?

The simple solution, the ‘sensible’ solution (read: the unimaginative solution), is in carefully-constructed playlists. Create every conceivable interrelation of musical themes you could possibly enjoy and move through lists those depending on your mood. Upside: there’s no way it can go wrong. Downside: it’s no different to shuffling a handful of CDs… except this time you had to compile those CDs yourself. Too much work, not enough sexy.

The next solution on the ladder lies in faceted genres and better tagging systems for our music. This makes the relationships between tracks more complex, creating “track families” and “track peers”, and gives us the ability to filter through them without explicit playlist creation. It shifts part of the workload onto the programmer (tagging is internet buzzword of the year, next to AJAX, and we still don’t have it in our music libraries), but everyone would still need to expend a lot of energy organizing their music. So while I’m personally anal enough to do that and love every minute of it, it’s still a lot of work for normal people.

What would really make a difference, moving forward, is machine learning. Bayesian algorithms. Buzzword-compliant music exploration strategies. Marketing fluff for what is essentially the nerdiest thing in the world being used to facilitate the coolest thing in the world: a personal DJ that figures out your mood after the first few songs, and sticks with the theme until you change your mind.

Turn your iPod on and hit Shuffle All. Korn’s Y’All Want A Single starts blaring through the earbuds, which is great music for smashing bottles to, but you aren’t in the mood. Skip to the next track. That skip doesn’t just move you forward, though, it register’s with the iPod that you aren’t ready for that kind of music today and adjusts the upcoming playlist accordingly. Nothing too hardcore, no metal, and definitely no Korn, Limp Bizkit, or any of the myriad soundalikes that flood the charts. So how about the Dixie Chicks with Godspeed? No? Coldplay’s Clocks? Sure, let’s go with that. So now your iPod knows you’re in the mood for some mellow alternative …stuff, and it’ll keep working to make you happy.

The real magic happens when, after you’ve expended all the tracks stereotypical to your favored style (though honestly, just because I’m in the mood to hear Clocks right now doesn’t mean I want to hear three Coldplay albums back-to-back, which is something else it needs to account for), the player starts branching out. After a few hours of listening, I might be back to Dixie Chicks, but I chose the path that brought me from alt to country today: I’m ready to hear it now.

Far fetched, I know. Impossible, certainly not. Back-end it with information gleaned from your own hand-constructed playlists, song metadata, play metadata, and clicks to the all-important Next Track button —clicks that say “not this song, not right now”— and you have scads of song relationships to work with. Like all machine-learning applications it needs to be taught what you like, but the end result is magic: Kahlua goes with milk, and Kahlua goes with Coke, but milk and Coke don’t mix.


Three ways til Sunday

Since when was oral sex even remotely taboo? Why the media flurry? Maybe I’m exposing a generational gap between myself and the legitimate media here, but to my recollection oral sex has been considered stark-plum normal for, well, forever. Girls go down on guys, guys go down on girls, guys go down on guys, girls go down on girls; nobody even blinks. And if the out-of-date porno I stole from my old man in the ninth grade is anything to go by, oral sex was as prevalent (and as boring to watch) in the late sixties as it is today.

Frankly I’m shocked that the newspapers are shocked that more than half of the country’s teenagers have given or received a blow job in their lives. Going down on someone is a basic commitment to physical relations without going “all the way”. Dammit kids, you could’ve learned this watching Dawson’s Creek.

Sure, maybe teens need to be better educated that oral isn’t completely risk-free —there is, no doubt, a huge number that believe that you can’t transmit disease giving head because “it’s not sex”— but give them some credit for reducing the risk of pregnancy, they’re using their noggins; better a habitual cocksucker than a teen mother. This is an issue for the education department, it’s not a moral dilemma.

But hey, this is the US of A. Smut is a bigger threat than terrorism.

Now anal sex, there’s some interesting numbers; because even if it is the new black people still see it as a Barbarella’s exotica. As taboo. Jesus, I just named three local strip joints; throw in a Doll’s House and a Red Windmill and I get the set. But people know about the dangers of anal sex, it’s been high on the list of panicky drills (excuse me) since the late-eighties HIV hysteria. Anal sex might be fifty times more dangerous than oral sex, but I’d wager people are ninety-nine times more likely to use a condom during anal sex than oral, and to address Saletan’s question:

Presumably, oral sex is far more frequent than anal sex. But are you confident it's 50 times more frequent?

The answer is yes; I’m entirely confident oral sex is fifty times more frequent than anal sex. I’d venture several hundred times more frequent, actually, and that’s just from casual polling. How ‘bout we all go set up some sex diaries and count for real?

The media need to lighten the fuck up, then go home and surprise the wife.


Things I don’t expect to hear from passersby

As a nerd, and particularly as a Mac nerd, there are certain things I don’t expect the average person I meet to comment on. When a decent portion of your week is spent explaining that wireless internet isn’t actually magical, and that it’s basically the same as the cordless phones they’ve had in their homes for years, you start to work with the assumption that the general population needs a good decade or so to get up to speed. That said, the people I’ve bumped into lately have had a curious awareness of tech.

Oh wow, is that the nano?

After the first few years of “what’s that?” … “an iPod” … “a what?” … “it’s like a walkman for MP3s” … “oh, OK” I lost the expectation that anyone should know what an iPod is. I guess with the batshit-fucking-crazy iPod explosion of ‘aught four I should know better now, but it’s still a little odd to have someone like my uncle —a man who feels the switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox would be too steep a learning curve for him to handle— should know about some gadget that was released two weeks ago.

So I wanted to talk to you about this VOIP thing

My grandfather. Yow. A man in his seventies who I’ve recently declared I can’t support over the phone anymore because it’s impossible to navigate him around Windows verbally (and will instead be looking into VPN solutions, eg- Copilot), and he’s buying VOIP hardware. Bought VOIP hardware.

Hey, that’s a rather minimalist dock.

You’d grant UWA’s Computer Science staff a clue when it comes to computers, but it’s such an embittered-Linux-nerd culture there that I’d sooner expect the “Macintoshes are toys” speech than an I-wonder-what-apps-this-guy-is-using glance over the shoulder. But hey — some guy knew.

Actually, looking at my dock, I suppose it is kind of spartan these days. Speaking with Richard after his interview with David Allen, I became convinced that Mail and NetNewsWire (not to mention IM) were distracting me constantly. It was the urgency of “crap, there are three unread news items, better stop what I’m doing and read them!” that cut into my day, and now that I’ve cut my formerly quite zealous dock use down to just the Finder and Safari —launching others only as required— I feel much better. Liberated, even.

Holy Crusader Against Windows, eh? …So does that make you a Mac person or a Linux person?

There’s something you don’t expect a bartender to ask you. Then again, I used to be a bartender, and if I was serving a bunch of bloggers —one of whom clutching an amusing Award— I would’ve asked the same thing. Strange times we live in.


Linklogs are for nancies

  1. I think we have a contender for the next volume of Joel’s Best Software Writing: Wil Shipley’s Unit testing is teh suck, Urr. The title says it all. Sensible, accessible advice. The ensuing discussion in the comments and around the web is worth your time, too.
  2. After being identified INTP some years ago, I don’t think I’ve ever read as lucid an account of what it is to be introverted before; the common misconception being that introversion is just shyness, or aloofness. Thankfully I can still take advantage of the ‘strong, silent type’ defence whenever required. (via Kottke)

Byte Me

Some months ago a film crew joined in at the regular Perth Weblogger Meetup evening and threw questions at us for a good hour, recording our every word and tortured facial expression with smiling reassurance from Skribe and ToxicPurity that they were producing a geeky TV show by the name of Byte Me, and were shopping it around the networks.

They could’ve been lying and compiling footage of us for more nefarious purposes, of course, but this was happily not the case. After a few months of shopping and post-production, Byte Me was taken up by Aurora on Foxtel Digital and has been screening for the last month or so; with our little blogging segment hitting the air just last week. Usual disclaimers apply, but with Skribe’s permission (indeed his encouragement, since his server is feeling the strain), I’ve mirrored it here. [Warning: 30MB WMV]


See the world through the eyes of a newbie

A week ago my older brother finally broke down from the years of subtle mental pressure applied by his girlfriend and me (Linux and Mac nerds, respectively) and dumped his Dell for an iMac G5. Being the family tech support agent and the Mac evangelist that affected the change, easing him through the transition became my burden; at some stage in his life he clearly gave up on natural inquisitiveness and self-initiated learning and figured “ask the guy who knows” is a better option, so I’ve been inundated with questions this week. Not that I can complain; in his case I know he’ll retain the information and be able to reapply it in the future. The same cannot be said of every family member I support.

It’s been interesting, in the mean time, to see his reaction to the different snags he has hit along the way. It’s as though (and I suppose I can be blamed in this regard) he expects the Mac to be an entirely magical entity, one that always does everything exactly right… usually reading your mind to do so. Often his problems aren’t because he’s a n00b (not to put too vulgar a spin on it, damned gamer slang), but exactly the opposite: because he’s a Windows Power User. When he migrates from Thunderbird to Apple Mail he doesn’t have problems setting up his accounts or composing email, his problem is that he can’t find where to set up mail filters because they’re called ‘rules’ instead, and that the contextual menu he once relied on to create filters isn’t there either; problems my parents or uncles or grandparents would never run into because they’ve never used a mail filter in their life.

And although some of his problems are outlandishly n00bian, they’re not always what they seem. Like demanding to know why QuickTime couldn’t play such-and-such a video file. The answer was that he needed to install precisely the same software on the Mac to play the video as he did on his PC —namely DivX— but it did uncover a rather glaring failure on QuickTime’s behalf: it’ll tell you that it can’t play a particular file, and it’ll even direct you to a yawningly useless page of potential plugins, but it won’t identify the unplayable format for you. It could, don’t doubt it —the required information is there in the Movie Info pane, if you know where to look— so why not just tell the user what he needs instead of offering the UI equivalent of a shoulder shrug?

It is, with that in mind, that I walk through some of the troubles he has had this last week with fresh eyes and think my god, what were they thinking?

Plugging his eight-button laser mouse into the iMac and having it work out of the box with no driver installation or rebooting is nice, sure, but wondering why each of the buttons don’t do precisely what they did on Windows and blaming the computer isn’t so cool. I don’t even know what I’d expect those buttons to do, but the thought of customizing them with the mouse’s own bundled software never crossed his mind. Why not? Because he didn’t need to install that software for the mouse to function in the first place.

I’m definitely not advocating a sideways “education through necessity” approach that mandates additional software be installed just so we know it exists, but given that OS X has such great support for mice of all shapes and sizes one wonders why the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane doesn’t let you customize those additional mouse buttons. If you’ve gone so far, why not the extra mile? So… besides that and a wish that his iMac had multiple optical drives (!!), he’s positively thrilled with the machine and the OS X experience, but there are some niggling issues that persist.

For god's sake when I put a program into HIDE mode then damn well stay hidden. I don’t care if I have just put a new CD into iTunes and that the computer is going to start backing it up. I KNOW THAT YOU DUMBASS COMPUTER — I PUT THE DISC INTO THE DRIVE MYSELF! I want you to just rip it, then eject it, AND STAY IN THE BACKGROUND WHILST YOU DO IT, YOU EXTROVERTED, EGOMANIACAL SOCIOPATH!!!

You can taste the bile, but he’s completely right. Applications demanding (and getting) attention front-and-center is one of my pet peeves on Mac OS X, and it seems to go so completely unnoticed in Mac circles that I thought I might be the only one that thinks this way. When you’ve hidden something (or, more appropriately, when an app is in the background and you’re working on something else), having it move to the foreground is a pain in the ass. A huge one. This is precisely what dock-bouncing was built for; a “hey, I need attention!” cry that actually gets your attention without messing with your work. In Dave’s case, when iTunes is set to read a disc, rip it, and eject it, it should be that simple. Worse still when you’re clicking on or typing in Application A and the attention-seeking Application B jumps forward to ask a question, there is the off chance that your input (intended for A) will go to B. Not what I intended. Not at all cool.

On a similar thread, although deviating from Dave’s complaints, it’s beyond me that a boring background process like the disk image mounter should put a window front-of-screen. Just mount the disk image, and quietly! I’m coming to be of the opinion that this kind of feedback would be better integrated into the Finder — especially since DiskImageMounter and other archive tools don’t launch into the Dock like they used to. They’re effectively faceless, so why not make them completely faceless and be done with the progress window? People already believe, however misguided they be, that things like this are done by the Finder because ‘the Finder is the computer’… so impose the progress onto the file icon, with an animated spinner or progress bar, and have done with it.

Speaking of disk images, boy are they a bizarre distribution method when you think about it. Don’t worry about me, I get why they were invented and why (at least in the early days) they were used to distribute anything and everything for OS X, but they’re a ridiculous concept to explain. “You see the .dmg file? Yeah, clicking that creates a kind of ‘virtual disk’ that sits there on your desktop. Yes, the white one. So instead of dragging the Firefox icon from that virtual disk to the dock, you need to drag it to your applications folder and then you can get rid of the virtual disk… otherwise every time you click the Firefox icon in your dock it’ll have to remount the image to launch the application, and if you ever deleted the .dmg file it wouldn’t be able to mount and you’d be fucked”.

Yeah, real intuitive.

I think at this point in Mac OS X’s history we could safely deprecate disk images and not hear a complaint. So I’ll say it straight out: if you’re distributing a GUI application that requires no more than a drag-n-drop installation, zip it up.

Update

Word from Dave…

I’d like an amendment. I was hesitant about installing the Logitech software because on Windows they installed spyware, which then fucked my system when I tried to uninstall. The spyware did NOT uninstall, and using Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy fucked Windows up the wazoo.

So saying, The Logitech Control Centre did NOT effectively control the mouse. No, I had to download (and pay for) USB Overdrive, a completely third party piece of software. Which gives me incredibly good control by the way.

Well, even though that part of the post was berating Apple, it looks like Logitech are the asses here. The functionality he describes as missing from the Logitech Control Center software was custom control for the tiltwheel, which on Windows was set for sideways scrolling, whereas on OS X defaulted to browser Forward/Back controls.


Silhouette

Take a look at the eight logos below; I’m betting you’re familiar with every one of them. Even if, at first glance, you’re a little unsure about a couple, hovering over the graphic to see its title text will no doubt foster a silent revelation… “ohhh, yeah. I knew that”.

Warner MusicPepsiSchwarzkopfMitsubishiWindowsAppleNikeAdidas

So what is it about these symbols, these miniature signifiers of the corporations and products we interact with in the real world, that make them so recognizable? Here they’re stripped of their color and their context; they aren’t printed on a t-shirt or stamped onto a car chassis or computer case, they’re just there. Down to the bare.

Of course, that’s exactly it, and it’s exactly what I love about them and the hundreds of logos like them. You reduce them to one color and they’re still instantly familiar. There’s been such a mad rush in the last half-decade to make your logo more flashy, more photorealistic, more 3D, more animated that we’ve moved a long way from this simplicity.

But there’s something else. Something very subtle. Here’s a hint.

Every one of these logos could be cut out, or stenciled, and remain true to its form. I think that’s marvelous.


Talk about your twisted panties

So the Mac mini caught an upgrade this week: an 80-100MHz processor bump, double the video memory, faster DVD burner (in SuperDrive-equipped models) and Bluetooth 2.0. Not a massive overhaul, just a nice update.

Even so, there has been great wads of bitching and moaning that Apple is ‘deceptively’ clearing stock of the older model hardware at the same time as deploying the new: that there is no guarantee of receiving, say, a 1.5GHz mini if you order today.

But considering you can’t order a 1.5GHz mini today, I doubt you should be expecting one.

The new hardware hasn’t even been announced; it ain’t on the hot news, there’s no press release, there’s no nothing. This is a silent upgrade, and not a very big one at that. The product page and the store still list old tech specs, and the price hasn’t changed. But apparently, if you’re a big enough douche, it’s still possible to complain about it:

This sort of thing makes me really angry, as does the mainly muted response on this site. I’m sure that if this was anything other than a Mac there would be outrage that they’re basically trying to flog off old crappy stock to unwitting customers. Outrageous

Right… being advertised a 1.42GHz computer, ordering a 1.42GHz computer, paying for a 1.42GHz computer, and then maybe receiving a 1.5GHz computer is cause for outrage. And I thought the comment thread on Wil’s virus bounty was full of wankers.


Disclaimer

Warning: bullshit ahead I’m sure one of the perks of running a rumor site is that you can fabricate any kind of crap you please, say it came from “a reliable source close to the company”, and hit Publish. Slow news day? Time to hit the bottle and get inventive. Better yet, with rumor sites constantly poaching each other’s hot scoops, your ‘report’ is usually picked up by four other sources; it becomes fact overnight.

So what if the bulk of your prediction doesn’t come true, who gives a rat’s ass? Just report that the project was canned internally, if you report your mistake at all. If something close but not quite what you reported emerges, milk it! You scooped that story months ago.

That said, I think in future instead of publishing my wild hardware and software fantasies as precisely that, I might start ‘reporting’ these ‘rumors’ from ‘my inside source’.

So anyway, a source close to Britney Spears told me today that the singer’s marriage to Kevin Federline —as well as the ensuing pregnancy— was a publicity stunt. And that she is, in fact, totally hot for me and will be coming to my place tonight for throwdown. Well that’s what I heard.