Computers

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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RIP, Steve Jobs

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has died.

He shared life lessons:

Update:

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams wrote:

I once thought his success was mostly a matter of luck. Anyone can be at the right place at the right time.

But then he did it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

He was my only hero.

Links to many more tributes in the comments at TidBITS.

Computers
Music

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Why Does Life Got to Be So Hard?

Via TidBITS: Music video about cleaning a laptop fan.

Sadly, I don’t think modern Mac laptop fans are any easier.

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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Black Belt

Back in high school, I had a friend who was deeply interested in the martial arts. He told a story of a martial-arts student — I’ll say a karate student — who had started out as a “White Belt” and earned different-colored belts as his skills progressed — yellow, orange, green and so on — until he was finally awarded the coveted Black Belt. When he received his Black Belt, the student said, “Now I truly know karate!”

His teacher said, “No, the Black Belt means you are finally ready to begin learning karate.”

I’ve remembered that story for decades, now, but I never really understood it until I was learning to program computers. I’m a “self-taught” programmer; I never took classes, but I read books, studied programs printed in magazines, and talked to a more knowledgeable friend when I got stuck. I started with the BASIC programming language, but eventually I learned assembly language, which is much closer to the native ones and zeros that are the computer’s true native language.

With assembly language, I could create routines that worked ten, a hundred, or even a thousand times faster than similar code written in BASIC. That’s a good way to impress a BASIC programmer.

If you don’t know how to do it, assembly language programming is a dark and mysterious art, and the people who can do it look like wizards. When I set out to learn it, I thought it would make a pretty lofty capstone to my education in programming. But when I’d learned it, and used it for a while, I realized assembly language wasn’t a destination; it was a starting point. Everything I’d learned formed only a foundation on which to build a real education. Assembly language was a Black Belt; it meant “Now you are ready to begin.”

I’ll bet it’s the same way in many other fields, as well: the apparent goal is only the starting point. I’d guess that, even if you attain the top rank beyond Black Belt in karate, you look at what you’ve learned and say, “Oh, now I see how to begin.”

It doesn’t end.

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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I’m Cool Enough

I’ve gotta get me one of these:

“Those who really understand what we do here at Apple are going to love this new product,” Schiller continued. “Unless, you know, they happen to be totally lame.”

When you’re using something this advanced, some people look at you as if you were crazy, which just shows that they don’t “get it.” I feel sorry for those people.

Computers

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Antique Future

Via Daring Fireball, Mac Mother Ship has a gallery of Apple advertisements and brochures. I bought my first computer — an Apple //e — twenty-five years ago, and this didn’t bring back memories for me until well down on the second page.

Computers

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Competing With Themselves

John Gruber makes an interesting point about Apple:

Apple doesn’t wait for someone else to knock one of their hit products off its throne or slowly run it into the ground (cf. the Motorola Razr) — they do it themselves. For six years pundits have been declaring that competitors would “soon” catch up to the iPod, but the iPod has never been a static target — over the same six years Apple has released significant new iPods every year.

But it is frustrating, buying the latest best-of-breed product in order to have bragging rights over all the poor saps who don’t have the latest, coolest thing, and then seeing it made less cool when the same company releases something even cooler only a few months later.

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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When You Gaze Into the Abyss, the Abyss Gazes Also Into You

Via Gizmodo, an internal Microsoft video to motivate the Vista sales team.

Caution: May induce self-inflicted eye gouging and/or eardrum piercing.

So you see, even the biggest companies have horrible, horrible internal videos.

I wonder if it’s possible to die of embarrassment.

Computers

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Pioneers

I bought my first computer 24 years ago today.

The computer magazines of the time kept reminding me that I was a pioneer, but I sure didn’t feel like a pioneer.

You want pioneers? How about the people responsible for this 5-megabyte IBM hard drive from 1956?

5 Meg hard drive

Thrilling Wonder has more.

Computers
Funnies

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Mac vs. PC, South Park Style

Mac vs. PC ad parody with South Park-style animation. (This is not done by the creators of South Park.)

Computers

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Short Shrift for the Mac

In January, Apple Computer, Inc. announced it was changing its name to Apple, Inc. –no “Computer” — and got into the cell-phone business when Steve Jobs demonstrated the iPhone.

The iPhone may look like a scaled-down version of the Macintosh, but Apple says we will not be allowed to write programs or install third-party software on the iPhone. Customers will also be unable to select their cellular carrier — iPhone buyers are locked into a two-year contract with Cingular.

Today, Apple delayed the promised spring release of the next version of Mac OS X until October because of iPhone:

Apple on Thursday released a statement noting that Mac OS X v10.5 “Leopard” won’t be released until October. The cause of the delay? The iPhone.

“iPhone has already passed several of its required certification tests and is on schedule to ship in late June as planned. We can’t wait until customers get their hands (and fingers) on it and experience what a revolutionary and magical product it is,” reads a statement published by the company.

Getting the iPhone ready for its June launch has had an unintended consequence, however: QA and “some key software engineering” resources allocated to Mac OS X needed to be diverted from their work to finish the iPhone. As a result, Apple won’t release Leopard at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, as it had first planned.

Shades of Microsoft’s oft-delayed “Longhorn,” now finally shipping as Windows Vista.

I’m guessing that as October approaches, Leopard will be delayed until 2008.

Computers
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Forging Ahead

Via Boing Boing, computer scientists are developing software to spot fake photos:

Hany Farid, a computer scientist at Dartmouth College … has created mathematical tools to determine whether a digital photograph was altered after being taken. His methods work so well that the Associated Press now asks him to scrutinize any photo that seems fishy.

“We’ve developed a bag of tricks,” Farid says. “Every time somebody tampers with a photograph, we try to understand what they did and how to detect it.”

[One] way to doctor an image is to piece together two separate photographs. For example, during the 2004 presidential campaign, an image surfaced on the Web showing John Kerry speaking with Jane Fonda at an anti-war demonstration in the 1960s, complete with an Associated Press insignia. Some veterans of the Vietnam War reacted with rage at seeing the presidential candidate sharing a stage with the controversial actress and anti-war activist. But the picture, it turned out, was a fake.

Forged photo: John Kerry and Jane Fonda

With computer software exposing faked photos, how will dishonest politicians stand a chance in future elections?

“Even after it was determined that it was a fake, people were still talking about Kerry at a war rally,” says Farid. “The power of the images stays with us.”

Oh. Guess the important thing is to get the image out there, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s real or fake. You can hear the Swift Boat crowd breathing a sigh of relief.

Computers

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Third Party

Wired has a couple “Get a Mac” parody ads from software company Novell, promoting Linux.

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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Totally Wired

The Dark Roasted Blend blog has us really wired:

Do Not Touch Any of These Wires

The sign says, “Do not touch any of these wires.”

You know, I don’t feel quite so bad about the tangle of wires under my own desk right now. And yet — maybe I should just tidy that up a little bit.

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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Come Vit Me If You Vant to Laugh

By far, the most popular post here on brainrow has been this one, with a funny YouTube video of a guy demonstrating speech recognition in Windows Vista. Well, too much of a good thing is never enough.

Computerworld has tracked down what they’re calling the top 10 funniest tech videos on YouTube. I don’t agree with every decision, but they’ve found some good stuff. Here’s their video #1:

You might not understand video #2 unless you watched the iPhone’s introduction at January’s Macworld Expo. (Apple customers are real fans.) Video #5, with comedian Wes Borg explaining tech support, is waaaay more true than you’d like to believe. The pranksters in video #7, messing with the demo machines at a trade show, may be just a little too proud of themselves.

Check them out.

Airy Persiflage
Computers

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Meanwhile, Across the Sea

Via Lockergnome, we learn that there’s a British version of Apple’s PC/Mac TV ads. They’re similar to the U.S. ads, but different.