Apple TV Take Two – A few criticisms

Now, I’ve heard my share of the complaints about the new interface. I, too, had problems with it right at first. It’s something you have to get used to. You have to learn that there is no “sources” menu. You have to accept that what’s been synched with your Apple TV is undifferentiated from what’s in your iTunes library. However, you can adjust. Humans have adapted for millennia to things far worse than a new digital media menu.

So, now to my criticisms… The new interface is fine. But don’t like the weird synching behavior. I have to go downstairs to my G5 to initiate a synch of the podcasts that used to be synched automatically throughout the day so that they were there when I got home. I have a new option — Automatic Synch. It’s a mystifying, magical process where iTunes decides what to synch. It takes hours and, in the end, you have no idea what’s going to be synched.

Another new feature, which I adore, is the ability to direct audio output to any other connected output device, including the Apple TV, on your network. This includes any Airtunes receivers, wireless speakers, networked computers, and even some windows media extenders. A fantastic addition that allows you to enjoy internet radio over your central HiFi system. Or whatever it is you have.

Perplexingly, Apple has not made similar functionality available for video. DEAR APPLE, I want to share my DVD drive on my main Mac downstairs with my Apple TV. I want to create video playlists that allow me to group certain types of content into a single, endless, video stream. With over 10 new podcast episodes to watch each day, it would be fantastic to create a smart video playlist where I can hit play a single time and watch all new podcasts. The fact that I can’t reeks of marketing shenanigans and defies the image Apple has earned inside my mind.

The streaming of podcasts, live, from Apple has me flummoxed. Why can’t the menu tell me when there’s a new episode available of a podcast I pay attention to? Why can’t I group a day’s worth of podcasts into a playlist where I hit play once and I have an hour’s entertainment in front of me?

I love renting movies from my couch and I can’t wait till the library is full and more inviting. But Apple really needs to pull it together in order to make me adore this platform. Yes, I understand the need to gear the box toward streams of revenue, but until they can offer a full entertainment package at a reasonable price, I will be unhappy with a device I can’t custom fit to the needs of my nightly allotment of time toward passive entertainment.

So, though I doubt it, if Apple or any of the Apple staff are watching my blog, I’m available for a consultation. I charge $75 per hour, and though I understand that’s ridiculously cheap, I only want to help right some of the wrongs I’ve encountered in the past two years of Apple product development after a lifetime of being surprised by the continual forward thinking aesthetic of Apple’s product quality. In being a tried and true Mac user for two decades, I think I know when I see a solid reputation heading toward disaster.

Primer – 2004

Here’s a super half-assed review:

I tried to watch this film with my mom and my wife, but they were having none of it. I was intrigued, and what seemed to be lurking in the near future was absorbing, but I didn’t know exactly what I was watching. They made me turn it off. “Thank you!” said my mom to my wife when she said, “I’d rather watch news or something.”

Well, yesterday my father in law and step mother in law took my wife and new son to the dentist, leaving me at home with several hours to kill. I sat down in front of the TV and decided to start up Primer again.

I don’t really have a lot to say about it, but I read a review that kind of summed it up as “It was like watching someone incredibly smart think aloud.” And not just someone who is smart, but someone who is really smart about a subject you love. And they’re not just thinking out loud, they’re telling the story of how their brilliance led to their downfall.

While I don’t think there was some science I don’t get behind the story, explaining how you can travel back in time to relive a day, I also didn’t feel like the filmmaker was trying to convince me that he had come up with something too smart to be exposed by my bullshit detector. The characters avoided paradoxical time travel situations, not because they knew what would happen, but out of an abundance of caution.

It was pure, smart entertainment. Plenty I didn’t understand, so many timelines and stories to keep track of, and an abundance of techno-babble, but with everything that was there to try and figure out, nothing retarded stood out enough to leave me thinking, “but, that’s not how it would be…” Which usually ruins a movie like this for me.

Four stars. And it was made on a $7,000 budget. Pure fun.

Link to Official Movie Site

The Internet’s most horrible diseases

Yes, you’re dying. We’re all dying. But what, exactly are you dying of? That nagging cough, your marked indifference, what could they mean? Don’t bother running around the internet looking up your symptoms in an attempt at self diagnosis. We all know that, in the end, the internet is going to tell you you’ve got a horrible, incurable, communicable disease.

To that end, here I’ve gathered the internet’s most popular deadly diseases for your edumacation. And face it, chances are you’ll get one of these soon. Thanks to The Worst Case Scenario Internet Diagnosis for all the data.


Kuru

How you get it: Contact with infected human brains, usually as part of the canibalistic funeral ritual of the Fore tribe in New Guinea or as a doctor treating someone with kuru.
Incubation period: 1 to 30 years
Early symptoms: Unsteady gait,slurred speech, marked feelings of indifference
Symptoms at full disease onset: Tremors, total loss of muscular control
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Incapacitation, coma, death within a year of onset

Ebola

How you get it: Contact with infected person or other carrier. Due to the quick and destructive power of ebola, it’s believed that there is a yet undiscovered ebola resistant carrier animal that is responsible for the occasional outbreaks.
Incubation period: 3 weeks
Early symptoms: headache, weakness, and muscle aches
Symptoms at full disease onset: vomiting, abdominal maladies, throat and eye inflammation, bleeding from body openings
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Destruction of internal tissues through rapid viral replication, blood loses the ability to clot and you die from extreme internal hemorrhaging. To the outside world, it looks as though your insides have liquified and are pouring out your various holes.

Rabies

How you get it: Bite of infected animal. Transmitted through saliva.
Incubation period: 21 to 120 days
Early symptoms: Mild depression and anxiety, soreness around bite.
Symptoms at full disease onset: Extreme thirst accompanied by acute fear of water. Constant state of terror and feelings of asphyxiation and claustrophobia.
Final outcome of this horrible disease: You feel as though you’re drowning in the thick, confining air around you. Your thirst is unquenchable, but even if it weren’t, your acute hydrophobia wouldn’t allow you to drink it. Death occurs within a few horrifically bad days due to convulsive seizure accompanied by respiratory failure.

Tetanus

How you get it: Bacteria enters body via puncture wound
Incubation period: 3 to 21 days
Early symptoms: Soreness in neck and jaw, heart rate fluctuations, low grade fever
Symptoms at full disease onset: Lockjaw, muscular spasms, sweating, utter fatigue from muscular contractions
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Severe muscular contractions cause the spinal column to twist and curve, eventually bending and snapping bones in the arms and legs. Death is caused by respiratory failure. Have you had your shots?

Creutzfeldt-Jakob

How you get it: Genetic; variant (Mad Cow) acquired by eating the brain or nervous tissue of an infected animal. Like Kuru, this is a prion disorder.
Incubation period: 1 to 30 years
Early symptoms: Confusion, involuntary muscle jerks, insomnia, impaired judgment, memory, and vision
Symptoms at full disease onset: Loss of muscular coordination, slurred speech, severe mental impairment.
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Systematic loss of brain function over the course of a year within onset of symptoms. Inability to control muscles, blindness, cognitive failure, coma, death.

SARS

How you get it: Contact with highly contagious airborne virus. Lock-down quarantine is common once a case is diagnosed.
Incubation period: 2 to 7 days
Early symptoms: Headache, chills, stiffness
Symptoms at full disease onset: High fever, shortness of breath, dry cough.
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Those early breathing difficulties progress into pneumonia and, in the end, you’ll slip into a coma and die rather abruptly of accute respiratory failure while your grief stricken family watches tearfully from outside your plastic bubble.

West Nile

How you get it: Mosquito bite, organ transplant
Incubation period: 3 to 15 days
Early symptoms: Headache, irritability, fatigue, rash
Symptoms at full disease onset: Confusion, swelling of the brain, tremors and weakness
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Encephalitis and meningitis are the most deadly features of this malady. Brain swelling causes convulsions and cognitive failure. Swelling of other nervous tissues cause muscular degeneration and severe pain. Either way, the outcome is coma and eventual death.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

How you get it: Contact between bacteria and abrasion or laceration in the skin
Incubation period: 24 hours
Early symptoms: Redness around skin abrasion, deep tissue soreness, diarrhea, nausea, fever, confusion, dizziness, weakness, and general malaise
Symptoms at full disease onset: Black blisters form in the skin and spread quickly. Within hours the blisters begin to appear on other parts of the body and eventually burst and ooze black fluid.
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Rapid degeneration of the body under the effects of the toxins released by the bacteria, causing severe nausea, deep tissue pain, unconsciousness, death.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

How you get it: Exposure to mice or rat droppings, nest, or contaminated dust, especially while cleaning in areas prone to mouse infestation.
Incubation period: 5-15 days
Early symptoms: Fever, headache, fatigue, general malaise
Symptoms at full disease onset: Coughing, shortness of breath, low blood pressure
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Lungs slowly fill with liquid as breathing becomes more and more labored. Panicked feelings of suffocation and constriction precede respiratory failure, death.

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis

How you get it: Abnormal immune response to reactivated measles virus, usually within 2 to 10 years of recovery. Immune system turns its attention to healthy nervous tissues.
Incubation period: 2 to 10 years
Early symptoms: behavioral changes, memory loss, irritability
Symptoms at full disease onset: seizures, involuntary movements, and neurological deterioration
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Memory loss and irritability progress into encephalitis induced hallucinatory dementia. convulsions, blindness, and death.

Amoebic Meningoencephalitis

How you get it: Organism enters bloodstream through nasal passages while swimming, especially in stagnant, warm water. This amoeba has been found throughout the world.
Incubation period: 1 to 3 days
Early symptoms: Severe headache, fever
Symptoms at full disease onset: Convulsions, lethargy, cognitive failure
Final outcome of this horrible disease: After entering the bloodstream, this amoeba finds its way into the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal chord. Within a day or two, the brain and spinal fluid are overwhelmed by amoeba, causing meningitis, encephalitis, cognitive failure and convulsions. Coma and brain death follow within 72 hours. There is no treatment.

Cerebral Malaria

How you get it: Parasite passed through mosquito bite, especially frequent in children.
Incubation period: 7 days to 6 months
Early symptoms: generalised body ache, tiredness, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, and fever
Symptoms at full disease onset: Sudden onset of high swinging fever with marked shivering and dramatic perspiration
Final outcome of this horrible disease: In this form, the malaria parasite is able to pass from the bloodstream into the brain. As time passes and the parasite eats away at brain tissue, delirium, coma, and death are a certainty.

Pneumonic Plague

How you get it: Caused by the same bacteria that causes bubonic plaque, but rather than spreading through a flea bit, this form is results from inhalation of bacteria laden saliva. This is particularly horrible due to the growth of “bubos” in the lungs rather than on the skin.
Incubation period: 3 hours to 2 days
Early symptoms: fever, headache, weakness, and a bloody or watery cough
Symptoms at full disease onset: Trouble breathing, fever, chills, heavily flowing, bloody sputum
Final outcome of this horrible disease: Rapid progression from cough to bleeding lungs, usually within a few hours, toxic shock, death.

Bacteremia due to Burkholderia pseudomallei

How you get it: Skin abrasion making contact with contaminated soil, or via bio-terror attack.
Incubation period: 2 days to Many Years
Early symptoms: Fever, muscle aches
Symptoms at full disease onset: Chronic suppurative infections often develop with secondary abscesses in the skin, brain, lungs, myocardium, liver, spleen, bones, lymph nodes, or eyes
Final outcome of this horrible disease: The bacteria can lie dormant in the body for years. Or, if it finds conditions irresistible, it will begin a destructive rampage through your fragile body. After a brief period of general malaise, pus-filled lesions begin to form on the skin, in the joints, and eventually most major organs, including the brain. Septic shock and death soon follow as the lesions burst internally and seep into your bloodstream.

Bubonic Plague

How you get it: Close contact with an infected host. Fleas, cats, rats and squirrels are the most common hosts.
Incubation period: 2 to 6 days
Early symptoms: Fever, Chills, Sore throat, Headache, Weakness, Malaise, Nausea, Diarrhea, Gastrointestinal distress, Cough, Bloody sputum, Shortness of breath, Stiff neck
Symptoms at full disease onset: Gangrene and necrosis of areas such as the digits, penis. Bleeding from body openings, red circular lesions form on skin.
Final outcome of this horrible disease: The rosy lesions. “bubos,” that have gradually formed on the skin begin to necrotize, turning the skin black, especially in the extremities. Internal lesions become infectious pustules that seep into the bloodstream causing blood poisoning, or “septicemia,” and eventually death.


This is for entertainment purposes only, in case you were wondering. If you know of a horrifying disease that’s not covered here, please email tony with a link and a list of symptoms.

Well, it is a free country…

I came home from work yesterday, exhausted from the stress of a few incidents at work. In a bit of a daze, I opened a can of cat food and fed the kitties. The fat one, Screech, who, at feeding time, acts more like a meowing dog than a cat, was still desperately hungry and simply would not leave me alone. So I pulled out the kitty treats, gave him a few, and retired to the couch.

This morning, before work, Kris was prepping the day’s lunch and snack pack when she noticed a bag of kitty treats on the top floor of the refrigerator. Puzzled, she pulls them out and turns to me.

“Hey, do you know why the kitty treats are in the fridge?” she asks.

Stunned, aware of the fact that I actually remember finding a spot for them in there after feeding Screech yesterday, I try to come up with an explanation. “Oh, I must have done that unintentionally after feeding them yesterday in my zombie-like state” didn’t cover the honest stupidity involved in the thoughts bouncing around my head, so I paused in what probably looked like a deer in headlights moment.

About 5 seconds went by.

“It’s a free country!” I shouted, indignantly.

iPhone Lust

I made a very clear and sensible decision to stay clear of the iPhone hype. I don’t need a phone that does all that. Actually, I have a phone that browses the web, gets my email, wi-fi, bluetooth, mp3, and a gorgeous screen. I use the phone feature only.

Unfortunately, I have friends who are not as budget conscious as I am and were able to stand in line yesterday to get their mitts on an iPhone. We were all out having drinks to celebrate the semi-retirement of a brilliant and lucky buddy in his mid thirties who arrived half an hour late with his brand new iPhone. It was un-activated, so all we could do was marvel at the form factor, which was enough.

It’s smaller than you think it’s going to be. It’s a bit shorter than my T-Mobile SDA and narrower than an iPod. Fits nicely into my pocket with no uncomfortable bulk. Unactivated, it allows you to look at the main screen and slide the slider for an “Emergency Call”. The numeric keypad pops up so you can dial 911, I guess.

Later, Solomon showed up with his brand new, activated iPhone. That was pretty much the end of my social interaction. The world went silent and my vision went tunnel. It works exactly like they say it will. Typing is something you have to get used to, but you will. You’ll want to start out by holding your finger down on the keyboard until you have the letter you want. This allows you to slide a little to the left to get O instead of P, or a little up to get N instead of the space bar. Or, just type as fast as you can and trust that iPhone will correct you correctly when you hit the space bar. It’s pretty slick.

Internet is decently fast, and for the applications I can see myself using, perfectly fast enough. YouTube videos take a while to buffer, but once they start playing they’re solid.

We played around with the contacts list a bit, which was actually fun. Tap the edit button and then the contact picture icon, point at your friend, and grab a picture of them for their profile. Then when you contact them or they contact you, the background is filled with the designated picture, full screen.

The magnifying glass positioning tool is amazing. In fact, the way everything you’re tapping on pops up in a graphic above your finger so that you know what the phone thinks you’re touching is a fantastic innovation. Somebody at Apple must hate styluses as much as I do. This finger as stylus thing is brilliant, and brilliantly executed.

So, yes. Now I want one. Even though I don’t need it. It’s pretty much the greatest phone experience I’ve ever had. Even if it was fleeting.

Apple TV Feature Request: Video Playlists

I’ve enjoyed my Apple TV a lot since buying it in that first week it was out. Even upgraded my TV. We don’t have cable, so we get all of our TV from iTunes — but, it’s the off season and I was a little bored with my selection of podcasts and other non-purchased content. Playing with settings in an attempt to veg-out and entertain myself, I happened upon the Update Software feature. Sadly, my Apple TV is up to date.

So I went back to browsing my podcasts, checking them all for some older, unplayed stuff. “Wouldn’t it be great,” I thought, “if I could just create a playlist and play stuff at random?” Yes! It would almost be like watching TV, but it would be my own channel. I wouldn’t have to put up with commercials (as much) and I could lump things together by category, play in order or random, and select the compilation I feel like watching, almost like flipping channels!

Science and tech podcasts over here, comedy and serial TV over here. A veritable self-built cable network streaming through my house!

But the Apple TV won’t play videos in playlists. It doesn’t even see them. It will do music this way, so why not video? So Dear Santa, please give me video playlists (smart video playlists too!) with the YouTube update.

Love,
Tony

New Embedded YouTube Interface Very Leopard Inspired

I just downloaded the Safari 3 beta today and eventually made it around to viewing a YouTube video in a friend’s LiveJournal post. To my surprise, at the end, the video’s familiar Play Again and other navigation features had been transformed, as if inspired by the new Leopard Desktop that was shown off today.

You Tube Leopardized

Dock like icons adorned the bottom of the embedded window along with a nice reflective surface and even the bubbly mouse over effect! I thought perhaps it was a secret new player for Safari 3 only using the new h.264 encoded files, but confirmed that it does also look the same in IE and Firefox. But, oddly enough, only in videos embedded in a website.

This looks like a sign of bigger things to come from the partnership between Apple and Google. Besides that, Apple isn’t telling you about how much faster Safari 3 is than Safari 2. Especially its Flash support. I’d say it’s easily twice as fast! And don’t even get me started on the INCREDIBLE new page and source search features.

So go download the Safari Beta and check it out for yourself:

Apple + AT&T iPhone Ads

If this phone can do this, like this, this easy, I’ll sell my first born son to get one. And if you want to go to the actual, HQ version of this commercial just visit the Apple website.

Ha! Just kidding little guy, you’re worth WAY more than $600. Way more I would bet.

But I would be surprised if the iPhone lives up to this hype! I mean, jesus. Stop the movie you’re watching on a tiny little device only because you have nowhere else to watch it at the moment and you can call some seafood restaurant in San Fransisco to get it delivered?

You’ve either spent rent getting the phone, upgrading the memory, and downloading movies, and now you can’t have anything but delivery calamari, since your new address is “the alley behind the GAP on the Haight”, or the ad’s not telling the whole story.

The whole story would be: watching a movie on your iPod iPhone on BART and you see a clip in this movie — that’s so great you can’t wait till you get home and watch it on your non-hand-held entertainment devices — where the protagonist is thwarting thugs and earning 6 figures on this super cheap electric scooter that gets to ride in the HOV lane called the “Green Scoot Zoom”.

You pause your movie with a swipe of your index finger (or whatever) and discover that this amazing new carbon neutral carreer advancement device of transveyance can be delivered to your work before the end of the day.

Because why else would you be watching Pirates of the Caribbean on a handheld device and suddenly think, “Hey, delivery…”?