Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Final Destination 3



I'm a movie buff. From time to time I take a break from the Apple and eBay related drama that is usually reported here and review a movie. Generally, I only review older movies on DVD ... but today, I'm choosing to review a movie currently in theaters that you probably might skip.

The Final Destination series of movies have a great horror/suspense formula ...

Someone in a large group sees a horrific accident take place in a vision ... this causes them to panic and get off the plane (1st movie), get off the highway (2nd movie), or get off the rollercoaster (3rd movie) they were on. The people that get off see the accident happen just as the vision had shown with the exception of the few that "got off". Death is portrayed invisibly as an inevitable force that "catches up with you quickly".


In all 3 movies ... I have never gotten tired of the formula. Each death, while graphic; is almost comical. If you don't belt out loud and say, "OHHHHHHHHHHHH Gosh!" when each teen meets their death there's something wrong with you. Most of the deaths are satire for teen vices and allegory for everyday fears.

For instance, in this 3rd installment ... two teens that managed to get off of a rollercoaster visit a tanning bed. The tanning bed fries them. You root for their demise because they are portrayed as pretentious.

Each of the Final Destination movies will remind you of people you knew in high school ... in a sick twisted way ... you'll snicker when you see them "get theirs"

I'm not typically a horror/gore fan ... but these movies are worth the time.

Another interesting thing to note about the Final Destination trilogy that typically isn't mentioned elsewhere ... these movies are extremely well made with great special effects and decent acting ... something that can't be said for most slasher movies like the Nightmare On Elm Street series. These movies cost 1/3 to 1/4 of typical hollywood blockbusters.

Final Destination 3 cost 25 million to make and has already grossed 50 million in 3 weeks of release. To me ... this thumbs mainstream Hollywood in the face. Entertainment doesn't have to bankrupt the studio or be controversial/ostracizing to be good. While movies like the recent King Kong are modern classics ... it also cost 207 million to make and another 35 million to market. It made 226 million domestically and 525 million worldwide. Without the worldwide box office, the movie would have lost money for the producers. Movies like Final Destination make many more millions on video and possibly again on premium movie services and cable TV. (King Kong will too) But I would rather have multiple returns on 25 million dollar movies and double my money ... than take risks to double my money investing 250 million.

I'm waiting for Final Destination 4 ... I read somewhere they may call it ... The Final 4

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Apple Intel Ad Reloaded

Apple Intel Ad Reloaded

Watch and laugh!

This Nano Copycat Is Only A Nanometer Of Difference



As reported by ENgadget:

Clearly, this is no iPod nano; since among other subtleties, it lacks a display! Still there's no denying its heritage with that big 'ol Apple logo, clickwheel, and "iPod" slapped right up front. This “4GB" player was purchased in Hong Kong for $110 -- a good deal right? Yeah, except it’s really only a 128MB flash player. Well, at least it plays MP3 and er, “MP4” files.




* photo courtesy of ENgadget

Of All People ... Jack Campbell writes a letter to the Mac Community in support of a site that loves to hate him.

Some of you remember my article on eBay dropoff locations from early January of this year ... where I told the completely detailed and documented story of how I gave $25,000+ of inventory for consignment to such a company and I ended up with less than $4000 to split 4 ways equally.

Well, Monday February 27th 2006 I am to appear in front of a local judge to determine if Bidzirk can get an injunction against me and get the article removed from my site. Their claims are defamation ...

This website started around the "drama of Jack Campbell" ... the infamous owner of MacMice/DVForge. I have always maintained this site as a consumer watchdog/provocative thinking website. I don't hold the opinions of the manistream press. I am the biggest supporter of Apple Computer and eBay (the main topics here) ... but I am neither a fanboy nor a fanatic.

In the case of Jack Campbell, I had to assemble facts from various online sources and interject my opinion often to show how I understood the events and details as I uncovered them.

In the case of Bidzirk I was an eyewitness and I had a third party who detailed and journaled all of our events. I have other eyewitness accounts as well. To put it simply ... I have eBay records to prove that my experiences with this particular eBay dropoff are similar to other experiences I have read around the web.

There is no opinion in the eBay Dropoff story ... it is a factual account designed to alert my readers and educate those looking to use eBay dropoffs. The opposing attorney has chosen to harass me and challenge my constitutional rights. The business owner has decided to hide behind an attorney rather than make things right. I will stand by the article and fight for you ... yes you ... the anonymous readers who read this website and enjoy the debate that goes on here. Thank you for your support and comments ... both positive and negative.

Last week, the opposing attorney contacted several of the subjects of my articles asking them to join in against me to get my entire site taken down ... the attorney chose to email Jack Campbell with the following (defaming) letter:

Mr. Campbell: I am an attorney in Greenville, SC. I represent a client that has filed a federal lawsuit against one Philip Smith (a.k.a. Jackwhispers) for trademark infringement. I have learned that Mr. Smith has attacked/libeled/slandered a number of other folks in his blog, you included. I was wondering if you would mind giving me some idea of your history with this individual, what kinds of contacts you have had with him, what you have done about his personal attacks, if anything, etc. A copy of my client’s complaint and motion for preliminary injunction are attached for your review. Thanks for any help.


At my request, Jack Campbell responds with the following letter:

An Open Letter To Jackwhispers Readers
From: of all people... Jack

The past three years has been an interesting time for me, as I chose to move many of my business pursuits from other industries and to focus my efforts in the Apple computer peripherals market space. I have had my ups and downs in that time, and have learned much about the industry, the culture, and the people moving the Apple experience forward these days. And, along the way, I bumped into Philip Smith, publisher of Jackwhispers.

My history with Philip is well known in Mac circles, as most of it has been created in the very bright light of public debate and scrutiny. Philip has disagreed with me almost continually for three years... in almost every way, on almost every topic. We have fussed and feuded over big issues and small. And, he has been a relentless adversary to many of my business activities. At times, clearly, nobody in my life has annoyed me more than Philip, and the merciless attack he launched and sustained against me on both his web site and other web outlets.

I am writing this letter to state my beliefs about the rights of bloggers like Philip to make such public accusations and to foment such public debate as Philip has done with me these years. In a nutshell: Bravo!

Has Philip been a pain in my posterior at times? Yes. Has he infuriated me at times to a degree where I wanted to hurl incendiary devices toward his home in South Carolina? Oh, yes. Do I think Philip should have been gagged and shut down at some point along the way? No way.

We live in interesting times where our definitions of 'media' are being challenged on a near daily basis, where our ideas about the creation and dissemination of information and the rights and abilities of people everywhere to engage in the public activity of doing these things is being expanded regularly. The Web is changing everything at lighting speed. And, in what I think is a wonderful way, it is pushing the way the public can be exposed to and can debate issues small and large back to an earlier time... to a time of the Citizen Journalist.

We are leaving a time when Big Media prints or broadcasts information to us, and we simply gobble it up as gospel, unchallenged. Instead, we are being pulled back to an era -- a great and nobel era -- where citizens were expected to hear the news of the day, and receive it with some skepticism, and to engage their own minds and resources in evaluating the claimed statements and drawing their own conclusions. We are reentering an era where citizens must actually begin thinking about the issues of the day with their own minds, and with their own analytical thinking fully engaged. The God of Unimpeachable Big Media is tumbling down.

Philip and his site(s), and his various causes are but a small slice of this overall return of the world to a time of the Citizen Journalist. Facts are not triple checked, beliefs are not screened with an institutionalized editorial policy... people just say what they believe and report what they see around them. And, we as readers and listeners have a larger responsibility to evaluate and judge the merits of the claims. It is a wonderful system... anarchic, yes... but it is the way a democracy should work. Unfettered public speech, coupled with a demand that citizens actually think... well, that system is the root of an open, unencumbered society.

I would not slow this shift to a more open society no matter what the personal issues I face. It is entirely too important of a larger issue for everyone for it to be stifled for the convenience of one person. So, again, I fully support Philip's right to publish what he sees and to publish his opinions on the web... or anywhere else.

Philip recently had some interaction with a South Carolina based eBay third-party auction services company. And, he has published reports of the things he saw in that process. It seems that the person who owns that company does not believe in the higher values of the Citizen Journalist, as he has not only filed suit against Philip asking to enjoin Philip from publishing Jackwhispers, but has reached out to pull other people into his case... people including me.

To Mister Complaining Business Guy in South Carolina, I say this: If you cannot stand public debate of your actions and operations, you are hiding something. And, by legally attacking anyone who disagrees with your beliefs and practices you are simply bullying a small guy, in an effort to continue hiding whatever the details of your business might be that you believe cannot stand the scrutiny of public debate. If you think Philip is wrong, there is a Comments system alive on this site where you enter the debate for yourself. Present your facts and claims against his, and let the public use their own minds to draw their own conclusions

Mister 3rd Party eBay Auction Services Guy, if you are a big man, you will be big enough to face criticism openly, and to face it with your own defense. If you are guilty or are too small of a man to do this... well, you will resort to hiring a team of lawyers to bludgeon the little Citizen Journalist into silence.

That said, I am publicly declaring my support of Philip Smith and Jackwhispers in this matter. He is within his rights (as they should exist in this country) to report what he sees, what he believes, and what he thinks. If someone does not like what is said, they have just as much right to counter publish their positions, or to even participate in debate right here. That is pure democracy at work at the grass roots level. And, I support Philip's unequivocal right to be here.

Jack Campbell
http://www.aboutjack.com

___________________________________________________________


The oddest thing about this issue ... if i win ... Apple loses it's case against bloggers or at the very least ... this will hurt their case. If I lose ... well ... I won't.

The Nisus Thesaurus definition for journalist is:

journalist (as in "writer") n. : a writer for newspapers and magazines

journalist (as in "diarist") n. : someone who keeps a diary or journal

reporter n : a person who investigates and reports or edits news stories

There is no mention of "peer review" as the opposing attorney plans to argue in my case.

The Bill Of Rights doesn't say "certain kinds of publication are excluded" ... no law of clarification says I am not allowed to publish my factual account of a story containing information that I have eyewitnessed or obtained legally in a non binding ungagged manner. Notice how the Bill Of Rights says freedom of speech OR of the press. Is the internet not the modern day press? The word "press" does not refer to a human being with a degree; it refers to a printing press and now refers to the internet ... the new instrument for putting words on a format for distribution to the public.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Why RadioShack Will Be Fried! And What They Should Have Tried . . . (hint; sell Macs)



I read an interesting post on Forbes & Slashdot this morning.

Looks like the Radioshack CEO is resigning after the company announced a 62% drop in fourth quarter earnings. That's 62% less than last year and includes Christmas.

No one really touched on the REAL reason Radioshack has lost money and is just saying, "We are restructuring". Restructuring usually means cutting back on full time employees, paying part timers less, cutting out at as little executive management as possible, and closing a few stores.



I don't know if any of you have ever been to a Fry's Electronics or not, but it is nothing short of a geek paradise ... they are like an Apple Store, a Circuit City, a Barnes and Noble, a Best Buy, and a Radioshack ... all under one roof. (Outpost.com is Fry's online storefront) They sell pretty much everything that Radioshack does ... they don't sell much if anything under their own brand name.

Tandy corporation, which owns Radioshack seems to think the Radioshack namebrand is a strong name ... so therefore they brand everything with the logo you see at the top of this post. Only until recently (the last 5 years or so) has Radioshack started selling a lot of non branded electronics. A lot of items that Radioshack carries and has carried in the past ... have been rebrands of other products ... some with their supposedly prestigious name Optimus.

Here are the key areas Radioshack has truly failed and most likely can never recover ...

1) Too many store locations ... in my area we have one every 10 miles or so. Do people need Radioshack like McDonald's?

2) Rebranding instead of carrying unique items ... I know of few people who actually want to own Radioshack branded products ... in fact it bothers me that simple cables have the Radioshack name embossed on their connector ends ... I feel cheap just plugging it in. Radioshack's name is not a strong name brand ... of course nothing with the word "shack" in it when referring to high end consumer items is appealing.

3) Radio Shack has the same problem as Toys R Us ... they sell things in their retail stores that kids simply do not want. The most recent example I can think of ... Cat In the Hat remote control cars ... from the Cat In The Hat live action movie ... this movie was out 2 years ago and some stores STILL have stock! Merchandise managers and purchasers are just plain clueless when it comes to what it's customers want.

4) Most Radioshack stores I have visited (even if newly renovated or newly opened) are crowded or messy ... one thing the Apple Retail Stores excel at is cleanliness and focus on product ... eventhough each store has thousands of items for sale.

5) Competitors like Fry's are expanding and offering a greater selection ... kind of ties in to # 4

6) Their commercials are some of the worst in the advertising industry and almost solely focus on cellphones. Really ... Radioshack commercials are often idiotic featuring ignorant or whiney characters. Their Christmas holiday ads were ineffective.

I have always thought that Radioshack's should try to sell Apple computers. The deal with HP was very awkward and from what I know ... HP reps rarely visited Radioshack stores. This would be an opportune way for Radioshack to get true geeks in their store and get them a fan base that would visit and buy because of loyalty. It would also allow radioshack to carry a truly prestigious name in their stores. Maybe Apple would even share in some advertising and merchandising.

One other tip I have for Radioshack that I see a lot of other big electronics business do; is sell on eBay. I don't think Radioshack does this.

What do you think?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stressed spelled backwards ...

I received an eCard today with a very thought provoking and uplifting message:

Stressed spelled backwards = Desserts

* from Hallmark.com eCards

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This Worm Has Teeth!

A new piece of "malware" is circulating that supposedly progates via Bluetooth wireless.

As reported by Engadget:

[If you have ] already patched [your Mac] with last June's OS X security update 2005-006 [there's nothing to worry about.] Apparently there's a new Bluetooth worm out called Inqtana that that actually propagates to vulnerable OS X machines wirelesslessly, and moves on to the next. F-Secure & Symantec don't believe Inqtana is anything more than a proof-of-concept worm right now (kind of like the Leap / Oompa Loompa OS X trojan going around right now), but being that it could easily be modified and turned into some a little more dangerous to your data and the fact that you should be updating your computer more than once every year, sounds like you should just take the two minutes and go get that Apple fix...


I believe that this is Symantec/Intego/Sophos writing these little media buzz creators. They aren't even proof of concept ... although some people at Sophos and Ambrosia are trying to get hits and media attention saying it is a worm, trojan, and proof of concept ... these are just lame misunderstood buzz words for a really lame attempt to get attention.

See FYT related stories:

Mac Fanatics cause iVirus

Viruses On The Mac Like Herpes? How Delicious!

Rumor Has It; The 1st Mac Virus Is In Town

Friday, February 17, 2006

Scary Customer Service Tales: Attack Of The Waygoner II: The Return ...



I received an email last night that contained the following [edited for condensing & identifiers]:

I just read your piece about Wegener Media on your website. I have had a very similar experience with these people. Twenty-two months ago, while looking for a replacement DVD drive (mine had broken) I stumbled across Wegener's website and decided to purchase instead a superdrive upgrade for my pismo. They charged me $320 for the product. It shipped with no instructions and never worked. Wegener blamed my laptop (I checked on my wife's machine too same problems),my system software (I did three clean installs) ... I wanted a replacement. After 19 months of emailing (most ignored), and expensive phone calls (I live in the UK), they grudgingly agreed to replace the unit - although I had to pay the return postage for the old one. The new drive, when it arrived, similarly had NO documentation with it at all and furthermore, the moulded plastic bezel they supplied with the drive was so crudely fashioned that it would not fit in my drive bay.

After a bit of forcing, I got the thing in there - and again, didn't work. This time, I contacted them asking for my money back. They said they cannot refund me as the drive is nearly two years old - even though the only reason I accepted the replacement was on the grounds that if this one didn't work they would refund me the full amount for the drive. They have failed to offer me a full refund - instead offering me $89 - which is the price they buy the drives for. I doubt if they will even refund me this - and they refuse to cover post and packing as they promised to do. So, it's not worth me bothering. I have lost $319. In talking to these people on the phone David Wegener actually put me on hold, mid sentance, claiming that I was interrupting him and would only resume dialogue with me if I promised never to interrupt him again. He knows there is very little I can do, as I live in the UK. [Jackwhispers: I live in the same state and wasn't able to do much either, that's why I posted the article]

... Wegener Media seems to make a habit of treating their customers badly, customers who are by nature often in a tight spot and faced with little choice for spares or repair of their older Macs. I personally think that their service has been a disgrace and bordering on fraudulent. It sounds like you have been treated in a similar manner to myself and feel similarly frustrated and outraged. [Thank you for] exposing the scam of these shady companies that supposedly refurbish / upgrade Macs and charge an awful lot of money for a whole lot of nothing. [Your] article would is a useful warning to people like us to steer clear of people like Wegener.


This is after reading this BLOG earlier this month.

http://www.lestercat.net/info/wegener_media.php

If you recall ... I brought you the story Attack Of the Waygoner in October of 2005 where I detailed the deception and impropriety of Wegener Media. Wegener Media also was "released" of a bad BBB report from me because they mentioned that they wanted to litigate.

Wegener Media's BBB report has almost 20 such marks on it's record, but you have to subpoena the record in order to learn that. Wegener Media moves frequently and has, I believe, 4 different reports for the Columbia South Carolina BBB. They are currently located in Cayce SC.

Here is information from that report:

The Bureau processed a total of 10 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 10 complaints closed in 36 months.

These complaints concerned:

2 Sales Practice Issues
1 Delivery Issues
1 Product Issues
1 Refund or Exchange Issues
2 Customer Service Issues
3 Service or Repair Issues

They were closed as:

2 Resolved
8 No Response

As I stated, Wegener Media actually has had 20 complaints processed, but sometimes the BBB cannot process a report ... especially if there is litigation involved.

Lastly, I wanted to address an advertisement that I have seen for Wegener Media on Macsurfer:



Remember from my story? David Wegener said that he wrote for XLR8YourMac.com ... he doesn't. Here's an excerpt from my previous story:

I managed to speak at length with Mr. Wegener. During this conversation, I mentioned that I had placed an unfavorable review at XLR8YourMac.COM. He commented, "I used to write for them!"

As far as I am aware, XLR8YOURMAC has always been run by ONE person. Mike Breeden.


Well, David Wegener and Wegener Media didn't create the process for this upgrade either ... as with many things ... Wegener stole this idea and upgrade from an article on XLR8YourMac. Wegener Media also discovered me on XLR8YourMac because I'm a regular contributor there. He stole several of the ideas from my commerce site and sells them on his site.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rumor Has It; The 1st Mac Virus Is In Town


It's a slow news time for Apple websites ... so ... it's time to start making up news.

While we're at it, why don't we just make it controversial?

Late last night, MacRumors posted the following:

On the evening of the 13th, an unknown user posted an external link to a file on MacRumors Forums claiming to be the latest Leopard Mac OS X 10.5 screenshots. The file was named "latestpics.tgz"

The resultant file decompresses into what appears to be a standard JPEG icon in Mac OS X but is actually a compiled Unix executable in disguise. An initial disassembly (from original discussion thread) reveals evidence that the application is virus-like or was designed to give that impression. Routines listed include:

_infect:
_infectApps:
_installHooks:
_copySelf:

The exact consequences of the application are unclear, but according to the users that originally executed the application have noted that it appeared to self propogate:

If anyone remembers last night, when lasthope [a poster on the macrumors website] spread that picture that opened in terminal. I just turned on my other computer and it said it had an incoming file, from my computer, which was the latest pics file. Any help. I have already secure deleted it off of my harddrive, but how do i know that it will not come back.

Andrew Welch who had done some of the initial disassembly is posting updates to this thread.

According to the initial investigation, the application uses Spotlight to find the other applications on the infected machine and subsequently inserts a stub of code into each application executable.

Update: It appears that there is some debate about the classification of this application, and as it does require user activation, it appears to fall into the Trojan classification, rather than self-propogating through any particular vulnerability in OS X.


Looks to me that it's just a terminal executable disguised with a different icon that types "suspicious words" ... there are no such commands for the terminal ... so how could they spread ... even if they are inserted into the code of other applications?

Further, this would only happen if the user has a Mac that has no password. Users who are on the internet with no password are foolish and in my opinion may actually deserve a virus. <----- eventhough this IS >>> NOT A VIRUS OR TROJAN <<<!

Because of this hubbub, The Register UK who has almost zero journalistic integrity and is having a slow news time, picked up on the story with the following:

Mac OS X virus sighted

Look before you Leap
By John Leyden
Published Thursday 16th February 2006 2:11AM

Antivirus researchers have discovered what's claimed to be the first computer virus to infect Apple Mac OS X computers. The malware, dubbed Leap-A, spreads via the iChat instant messaging system as a file called latestpics.tgz that infected machines send to contacts on an infected user's buddy list.

The malicious file is disguised as a jpeg, and users who open it will find their machines infected. Mac viruses were relatively common at the dawn of personal computing, but these days the overwhelming majority of viruses are Windows specific. Leap-A shows other platforms are also vulnerable.


"Mac viruses were relatively common at the dawn of personal computing, but these days the overwhelming majority of viruses are Windows specific."

Mac viruses were common?

And are they using their source as the MacRumors forum and calling the forum comments "Antivirus researchers"?

Gimme a break!

I am really disappointed in the MacRumors staff for this story!

More examples of poor reporting:

Another favorite site of mine called DeepThought posts this at the end of their report/rehash:

"I know that Mac users like myself can get complacent since we’re not usually the target of malware, but be careful out there, surf safely, and don’t panic."


"...not usually the target of malware"? When have Mac users EVER been the target of malware?

DeepThought also posts that this "malware/virus" asks for your admin password ... interesting ... how dumb do you have to be to view a picture to type in your password. That's almost like someone coming up behind you at a bank teller machine and saying:

"Can I see how you type in your secret code, I don't know how to use an ATM?"


See FYT related stories:

A Jacked Up Virus

Mac Fanatics cause iVirus

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Two Suits: Not Of The Poker Kind; But Watch Out For These Jokers



Apple has had two suits filed against them in the past week:

The first involves the iPod Nano and a consumer's group in California:

As reported by MacMinute:

According to a report on Macworld UK's Web site, a consumer group has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging faults with the digital music player's quality. "Apple Computer's iPod nano music player, marketed for its sleek beauty, cannot withstand normal use without becoming severely scratched, often to the point where its screen is unreadable," the complaint alleges. "Apple is refusing to give refunds to purchasers who bought the defective product, while forcing others to pay a $25 fee to get a replacement that is supposed to be 'free' under Apple's warranty," the complaint continues.


I'm not sure whether this is the first lawsuit coming to action that was filed a few weeks after the Nano came out, whether this is the second lawsuit that was filed in December, or whether this is an entirely new lawsuit.

See this previous FYT story:

The Great Winshield Scare Of '54 / The Great iPod Nano Scare of '05

Moving on, Apple also saw a potential threat from AT&T:

PC Magazine claims to have obtained a letter sent to national retailers that Apple and four other companies are infringing on AT&T's Mpeg 4 video compression patent


Back in October of 2005 MacMinute reported:

AT&T considering Mac OS X for internal use

AT&T is evaluating different operating systems, including Mac OS X and Linux, as alternatives to Microsoft Windows for internal use. "The company's chief information officer, Hossein Eslambolchi, has set up a team in AT&T's research labs to assess the appropriateness of desktop operating systems for the company," reports CNET News.com. "The company currently uses Windows on its desktop PCs, which number in the tens of thousands. The engineers are testing and measuring how Windows, Linux and Mac OS X stack up on security, reliability and total cost of ownership, Dickman said. AT&T expects to make a decision on the merits of the desktop operating systems by the end of next year or early 2006."


Were they really just evaluating Quicktime for patent infringement?

I'm not sure if AT&T couldn't be countersued for defamation ... I'm not sure if they have the right to warn retailers without a court hearing or judgement about patent infringements.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Can PowerPC G4 Laptops Boot Windows 98?

The Apple Blog shows this picture:



The Apple Blog spotted this picture on the Best Buy website advertising their laptop section in last week's website update.

I get really tired of lazy graphic artists ... "Apple people" are suppose to be more creative.

The truth be told ... Apple could prosecute Best Buy for copyright infringement for lifting pictures from the Apple website. This picture is of a PowerBook G4 taken DIRECTLY from an Apple website photo.

At least it's not as bad as this one ... where Office Depot photoshopped a USB port onto the CD tray of an iBook:

What The Dell Is Wrong With Teachers?

It seems as if Henrico County has decided to keep at least part of its school system with iBooks.

If you recall, Henrico County was one of the first school systems to integrate a countywide Junior High and High School 1 iBook per child and teacher program

Macinfo gives a good "reason roundup" of why Henrico decided to keep Junior High students with iBooks.

Again, if you recall Henrico's board made a really big deal about switching to Dell for their contract ... citing ignorant reasons ... such as Microsoft Word not being available and the weirdest of all ... not being able to read Word files created on PCs on the Mac. One teacher even posed the scenario saying there wasn't a spell check or dictionary application.

See FYT previous mentions of Henrico County Schools here:

Stampede At The iBO-OK Coral

Henrico: see also debacle

I have to be honest with you ... I hate dealing with educators. There are few exceptions to this. They are bossy, impatient, pay late, expect "no profit on sale" discounts, and are ...

Let's put it this way ... back a few years ago ... I used to have a page on Jackwhispers about problematic eBayers ...

My number one category that problematic eBayers fell under ... you guessed it ... education.

One of my first large eBay transactions was with a Penn State music director ... he harassed me day in and day out over a toner cartridge in a laser printer I sold him being only half full ... even after my auction had stated that I wasn't even including a toner!

Locally ... I have dealt with teachers ... and, in general ... it's a nightmare. They can't accept reasonable windows for schedules (like - I'll be there between 10 and 1) ... it's often a hassle to be paid or to make payment arrangements (like you have to go through a bidding and school board contract approval process) ... often payments have been late ... on average I am not paid when I do work for local school systems for 5-7 weeks.

The other thing I have noticed about educators (at least locally) ... they will take any opportunity they can to get a better deal ... with no loyalty or consideration. If anyone is a bargain hunter ... it's me ... so I understand bargain conscious minds. I price any service to schools that I do well below my individual or walk in service call.

If you question a teacher ... they instantly bounce it back ... blaming you instead. It's almost as if an educator believes they are the CEO of YOUR company.

It's really easy for me to see why Apple has lost a little ground in education over the years ... it's really not about compatibility, price, or service ... it's all about having to deal with the incredibly screwed up educational system in the US (and elsewhere)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fix Your Thinking Review: Legend



I'm a movie buff ... I have always found it interesting that Hollywood often features Macs in a lot of the movies set in the modern era. I find it telling of how good a director is, by the subtle elements hidden in the scenery of the movie. Ridley Scott is such a director. He always assembles magnificent set designers, costumers, and make up artists. The scenery in his movies are memorable and will fill your dreams from the first time you see them. Scott brought us Gladiator ... which contained incredible acting and introduced us to incredible actors. He brought us Aliens ... which was essentially a launchpad for artist HR Giger and new stylistic way of presenting modern horror. He also brought us the geek favorite ... Blade Runner ... another movie with incredible imagery.

From time to time - I post two movies that feature famous "apple or jack" keywords, actors, and imagery and/or themes that relate to the content on this website.

Legend



I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan ... but every now and then he's in a great movie. The Mission Impossible movies are decent, Minority Report is in my Top 10 ... and then there's this movie.

It's hard for me to get past the fact that he is a scientologist ... because frankly ... it's just weird.

__________________________________________________


Don't be fooled by the description or the imagery on the DVD. This isn't a really scary movie. It is a little dark, but the imagery is incredible. It may be one of the best stylized films ever produced.

Here is an exposition that scrolls before the movie begins ... this is the best way to give you a plot line without giving the movie away:

Once, long ago, before there was such
a thing as time, the world was shrouded
in darkness.

Then came the splendor of light,
bringing life and love into the Universe,
and the Lord of Darkness retreated deep
into the shadows of the earth, plotting
his return to power....by banishing light
forever.

But precious light is protected,
harbored into the souls of Unicorns, the
most mystical of all creatures.
Unicorns are safe from the Lord of
Darkness, they can only be found by
the purest of mortals....Such a mortal
is Jack, who lives in solitude with the
animals of the forest.

A beautiful girl named Lili loves Jack
with all of her heart. In their innocence, they
believe only goodness exists in the world.
Together they will learn there can be
no good without evil....No love without
hate....No heaven without hell....No light
without darkness.

The harmony of the Universe
depends upon an eternal balance. Out
of the struggle to maintain this balance
comes the birth of Legends.





Tim Curry as Darkness (The Devil) is by far the best portrayal and visual of evil in any movie I have seen.


Many of the sets were damaged in mid production due to a fire on a nearby James Bond soundstage.

One of Tom Cruise first movies. His 3rd lead character role:

Top Gun (1986) ... Maverick

Legend (1985) .... Jack

All the Right Moves (1983) .... Stefen Djordjevic

Risky Business (1983) .... Joel Goodsen

Losin' It (1983) .... Woody

The Outsiders (1983) .... Steve Randle

Taps (1981) .... David Shawn

Endless Love (1981) .... Billy

* Information from IMDB.COM

One movie mess up that that even the fan sites for this movie seem to skip over concerns the goblin Blix ... in one scene ... the face of Blix has a normal skin tone ... but in all other scenes, the face of Blix is green. See if you can spot this!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

As The Apple Turns: No Longer Turning Out Stories



Information Architects reports:

There was a time when there was one site I would spend the time to read every single day, and that site was As The Apple Turns. A pro-Macintosh site with a humorous slant, As The Apple Turns should have been, in my opinion, required reading for every Macintosh owner. But it hasn't been updated since the video iPod came out, and now as I search for it, it appears as though the server is gone.

This is a great loss to the Macintosh and humor community.

If you are out there, get in contact with us! We miss you!

As The Apple Turns

(Update: The site seems to be back up and answering now, but it still hasn't been updated.)


I enjoyed As The Apple Turns myself ... but I have to admit ... I saw it as competition to this site. While the webmaster and author of the articles, Jack Miller, is a much more talented writer than I am, I try to keep up with most of the Apple world's drama.

I often submitted ideas and often found ideas in the commentary at ATAT.

I hope everything is ok with Jack. Someone should update us.

[UPDATE] I tried going to the whois registry to see if I could find Jack Miller's contact information. No luck ... the information is locked.

This website has a good background on As The Apple Turns and it's author/staff.

Monopoly: Apple Edition?



Findlaw reports:


A lawsuit filed in September of 2005 can proceed says a California judge.

Plaintiff Thomas Slattery's lawsuit claims Apple configured the iPod so that it will play only iTunes files and not digital music files from competing vendors of online music. Apple has also encoded its iTunes files so they will only play on the iPod and not any other digital music player, the complaint says.

The suit says another company, RealNetwork, reverse engineered Apple's iTunes format and began selling iPod-compatible music files for 45 cents each, compared with the iTunes price of 99 cents each. Apple quickly changed its software code so that the RealNetwork files would no longer play on the iPod, Slattery says.


I can't see why this judge allowed this to proceed.

1) Some competing music stores sell songs with no DRM ... they will work on the iPod. And in actuality, any song from any store can be transcoded or ripped back from a CD and used on the iPod. Also, isn't Audible.com compatible with the iPod?

2) "Apple has also encoded its iTunes files so they will only play on the iPod" ... the songs seem to play fine on all the Windows PCs and Macs I have seen <--- those aren't iPods.

3) Apple has created the only successful business model for MP3 players and downloadable music ... what the RIAA and this litigator don't understand is that it takes a large market share for this segment of technology to be successful.

4) What is Thomas Slattery hoping to get out of this?

Conspiracy theory: this is one of the dangers I saw coming from Real Networks huge windfall from Microsoft. Is it remotely possible that Real's Rob Glaser has motivated (or handed money under the table) to Mr. Slattery? Something to think about.

Monday, February 06, 2006

How feeding hungry minds instead of hungry bodies kills children ...



My best friend and I were discussing the "1 laptop per child" program the other day.

We laughed at the satire in this thought:

The push is for these laptops to be battery powered ... recharged by cranking a crank.

How many calories does that take?

How can starving children who can't afford laptops, afford the physical effort to power these laptops?

Will hand cranking the laptops burn valuable caloric substance?

However ironic and funny that may sound ... it is a serious question.

See Jackwhispers previous story: I hate children and their little laptops too!

Dear eBay, I've found the most incredible way to stop scammers. Here's how...



Over the years, FYT has brought you several stories on eBay. Recently, I discussed my personal experience with an eBay Dropoff in my area.

Personally, I don't have the problem found below ... in my 9+ years on eBay I have only had ONE seller not ship me what was promised (at all). Not true for Yahoo auctions.

I think I have found a way for eBay Dropoff Stores to find a closer connection to eBay and be more useful for the protection of eBay users.

What about making dropoffs escrow clearing houses?

What do I mean?

The buyer (not the seller) can make a choice for an item to be shipped to a nearby eBay dropoff location. Said eBay dropoff store, gets item in, checks it against the auction description, calls the buyer, buyer comes to pick it up free of charge ... pays Paypal, postal money order, or cash - the end amount. At the same time, buyer leaves positive feedback AT THE DROPOFF store.

What's in it for each party?

First and foremost ... this solution almost completely eliminates the scamming seller in areas that there are dropoff stores.

Two ... it gives buyers and sellers more interaction with dropoffs - gives eBay more exposure ... makes eBay look like it cares for it's community

Three ... the buyer gets peace of mind, with slight inconvieniance ... but probably worth the gas and time for larger items.

Four ... the eBay dropoff locations get free exposure and ...

I think that eBay dropoff locations should get listing credit for each transaction that they process ... maybe 1.5% of each transaction they assist in this escrow with. These savings could then be passed along to their customers and help increase revenue.

Five ... both parties get feedback. The buyer is asked by the dropoff to post before leaving. The seller can authorize the dropoff to post feedback for the buyer, or the buyer can leave feedback once he or she ships the item.

Note: an eBay transaction is OVER FOR THE SELLER once the buyer has paid and the item has shipped and the item is received without complaint. The transaction is over for the buyer within 24 hours of receipt and no complaint. Both parties are obligated as "eBay citizens" to leave feedback ... personally ... I think eBay should REQUIRE feedback for all transactions within 30 days or else NOT let you continue to list or buy.

One of my pet peeves as a seller is my feedback ratio ... I have sold over 8000 items on eBay in 9+ years. I have as of now on an ID I have had for 7+ years, 2500 positive feedbacks. Most eBay buyers are one shots looking for something unique and don't return to eBay for months, years, or ever. A lot of buyers forget to post feedback. This process, as described, would also assist in feedback.

Good idea?

From an email:

What about the shipping costs? Shouldn't the buyer have to front the money for shipping?


Yes, I agree. Escrow should provide the seller with reasonable shipping and handling fees before shipping.

This topic almost merits another article though.

I personally don't think eBay/Paypal should deduct fees from the shipping amounts sent ... just the auction end price.

Anyways, this reader's concern is a valid one. I just think eBay needs to get a tighter reign on shipping charges.

For instance, if it's a CD, you should not be able to charge more than a certain amount for shipping & handling. eBay should be granting insurance anyway. (And they actually do --- up to $200)

A LOT of auctions circumvent fees by charging outrageous shipping.

Most cell phone accessories sold on eBay are done this way. Item ends for $1.95 Buy It Now --- but it costs $6.95 for shipping and handling. The actual cost to ship with processing, fees, and materials is usually under $2.00 - netting the seller an additional $4.95!

What The Dell?


* photo courtesy of ENgadget

As reported by ENgadget:

We've long since noticed Dell's lineup of hard drive-based portable audio players have vanished from their site, but this they officially commented on the death of the drive-based segment of their Dell Pocket DJ (Digital Jukebox) line and made it official that those devices were phased out over the last two months. ... they hinted at being a flash player-only shop from here on in.


Yet another casualty in the war against the iPod.

Recap of casualties so far:

Creative's Profits Fall Again
Rio Says Bye-o

Gateway drops MP3 players (it happened; all links lead to Gateway home site ... where you can see they no longer carry Gateway brand MP3 players)

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Modest Proposal About PBS: Sell It To Apple! (repost)

I thought I would repost a previous article for everyone to read as I take a few days off ... if any drama happens I'll make a special post:

Ever read A Modest Proposal by Gulliver's Travels writer Jonathan Swift?

This is a satarical essay involving a way to deal with the homeless child epidemic that plagued Ireland in the early 1700's.

The opening tagline goes like this:

A Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being Aburden to Their Parents or Country, and For Making Them Beneficial to The Public


* Writer Jonathan Swift


The "editorial" suggests that the wealthy consider gathering the children together and EATING them. Thus, solving two problems in one act ... hunger and poverty.

Here is a link to the story if you wish to read it online.

__________________________________________________________


In case you haven't noticed, PBS - the United States' Public Broadcast System nationwide television channel has become just about the worst collection of trash as far as tv programming goes. It also has lost focus ... with many classic shows (even Sesame Street) turning into political statements for the far left in the US.


* Many people have drawn conclusions that Oscar The Grouch is actually a Republican satire (green=money / grouchy = always telling people they are doing the wrong thing) The satire is ... it is implied since he lives in a garbage can, he is poor ... most lower income voters are democratic or liberal. Sesame Street has also made controversial moves like including muppets with HIV and using guest stars like Snoop Dog

Further, this government susbsidized channel is now so costly that you can hardly go a night or watch anything of interest anymore without it being interupted by two people who "need your money to continue to show programming like you are watching now"

I find most all of the programming like cooking shows, science shows, news, and specials ... redundant of programming on The Discovery Channel, History Channel, The Food Network, and National Network Programming (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX).

Some government officials have proposed cutting funding for PBS - as a means to cut spending.

I have a proposal! Sell PBS to Apple Computer! Even get Apple to license it on a yearly basis!

Apple and Education together again!



Think about this for a moment ... Apple could pull together all of the cable TV channels and start to broadcast TV ... in the same way as it is now, but also make money by paid download from the iTunes Music Store.

Apple could also stream programming the day of. Have available for download two days after, charge for archives after that.

Apple could stream PBS to schools and integrate it into PowerSchool ... helping to further leverage Apple laptops and desktops to school districts.

I see this generating a HUGE revenue windfall, for Apple and for the American public.

I would also propose that PBS be changed into a national cable channel conglomerate affiliate. Almost like a channel for channels.

Cable TV networks should love this idea ... they could advertise by having a show on ApplePBS. This would be like saying, "The full season of this show can be seen on The Discovery Channel, call your local cable operator for details". This proposal may also help pave the way for a la carte cable channels.

That's a lot of big words, let me explain:

How some favorite PBS shows would be on the Apple PBS:

Motor Trend - the weekly televison version of the car magazine - would be handled each week by The Speed Channel

Scientific American Frontiers and Nova - would be handled by The Science Channel and Discovery Channel

Newshour Nightly Business Report would instead become a feed for CNN / CNBC / FOXNEWS

This Old House would be handled by The Learning Channel (and maybe they would show Trading Spaces too)

Cooking shows would be handled by The Food Network ... I'd much rather see Rachel Ray than the cooks on PBS!

Large documentaries (like The Civil War series) would be handled by The History Channel.



The biggest impact such a venture would provide is an immense amount of advertising and creative outlet for Apple Computer. Think ... a whole channel that advertised Apple and was sponsored by Apple.

On top of all this there could even be Podcast shows ... letting individuals (taxpayers) actually have a channel that was their (nationwide) channel. Apple could occasionally feature Podcasts of interests for everyone to see.

I Hope He Hears This: You Are An Idiot!

As reported by MacMinute:

iPod 'hearing loss' lawsuit filed

An iPod user has filed a lawsuit in San Jose, CA against Apple, claiming the iPods are "inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss," reports the Associated Press.

[Speaking on the topic] "We have numerous products in the marketplace that have the potential to damage hearing," said Deanna Meinke, a professor of audiology at the University of Northern Colorado. "The risk is there but the risk lies with the user and where they set the volume." Apple has declined comment.


My editorial comment: Say What!!!!

This will be added to the Your Rights The Law & Litigation Section at FYT ... found in the right hand sidebar.