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Technology

Daring Fireball on Microsoft’s crisis of confidence

Another good article by John Gruber: this time he compares Apple’s current situation with Microsoft’s ongoing crisis of confidence. A few months back I wrote a piece for PC Plus about Microsoft, and concluded that Microsoft’s biggest enemy wasn’t Apple, Google or Linux; Microsoft’s biggest enemy, I reckoned, was Microsoft itself. It seems Gruber is thinking along the same lines:

In the ’90s, to sell copies of Word, they needed to beat WordPerfect, and they did; to sell Excel, they needed to beat Lotus 1-2-3. Now, though, to sell new copies of Microsoft Office, they need to beat older copies of Microsoft Office. Hence the much-maligned ads in which Microsoft casts their own users as dinosaurs simply because they haven’t upgraded to the latest version of Office.

Most of the criticism of these ads revolves around the fact that it’s a bad idea to insult your own customers. But what I found interesting about them is the tacit acknowledgment that Microsoft’s strongest competitor in today’s office software market isn’t OpenOffice, or any other competing suite from another company, but rather the Microsoft of a decade ago.

The article also makes some good points about the new MacBooks, so it’s worth a read even if you’re a committed Microsoft-phobe.

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Media Technology

Apple can’t decide what constitutes “legitimate journalism”

Interesting court verdict in the US:

a California appeals court decided against Apple today in the company’s bid to force bloggers to turn over sources who leaked information about the Apple product codenamed “Asteroid”… the appeals court roundly rejected [Apple’s] notions as contrary to California’s reporter’s shield law and the state Constitution, effectively stating that it wasn’t Apple’s place to decide what constitutes “legitimate journalism,” and that Apple could have investigated the leak of trade secrets themselves without drawing the websites into the mix.

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Technology

You need to buy a new iPod at least once a year

So says Steve Jobs, although he didn’t mean iPod replacement due to faulty kit and what looks like Apple UK’s ridiculous interpretation of the sale of goods act.

It doesn’t matter that iPod lovers can spend up to £300 on their gizmo. Apple operates on the basis that the iPod life expectancy is a year, and that’s it.

I really like Apple kit, but stuff like this really gets my goat. I’m with the Guardian: electronic items, particularly expensive ones, should last more than a year. If your iPod dies just outside its warranty period and Apple won’t repair it for a reasonable amount, I’d seriously consider raising a Small Claims Court action.

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Technology

Sony needs a Wii

Both Sony and Nintendo have announced the price of their forthcoming games consoles: the PS3 will be a “Holy crap! You’re kidding!” £425, while the Wii will cost $249 in the US (so I’d assume well under £200 over here). Meanwhile Xbox 360s are currently selling at £279 for the premium system and £209 for the core system, and that’s bound to drop before Xmas. Which makes me wonder: what the hell is Sony playing at?

Yes, the PS3 is impressive, on paper at least. Yes, there’s a rabid fanbase of PS2 owners. But come Christmas, there’ll be oodles of Xbox 360 games, a stack of Wii games, and about three PS3 games; there’s bound to be PS3 shortages, and that will no doubt lead to retailers taking the piss by only offering bundles. So you’ll have a choice: an overpriced PS3 bundle with a few lacklustre games (and by “overpriced” I mean “overpriced compared to the overpriced PS3 itself”), or for the same cash you’ll be able to get a 360, Halo 3 (possibly), a Nintendo and a few games for that as well. Hmm, tough choice.

Maybe Blu-ray drives offer something utterly amazing, so compelling that games developers will prefer PS3 development to Xbox or Wii development. But I suspect not . Faced with the choice of developing for a next-gen console that’s hugely expensive and won’t be widely adopted for ages, or for a much cheaper console that’s already in millions of homes, making PS3-exclusive games might not be the smartest strategy.

I really wonder about Sony sometimes. From Super Audio CD to its bone-headed refusal to make MP3 players that support MP3, and now its insistence of bundling Blu-Ray to put the cost of a PS3 into orbit, it’s like watching a very slow corporate suicide.

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Technology Uncategorised

Yes, I am hopelessly immature

Best headline ever, via TechCrunch:

Jobster To Acquire (two month old) Jobby

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Media Technology

High definition TV sucks

So says Mr Biffo, anyway. Is a slight improvement in picture quality worth the extra cash and the hassle of a constantly crashing Sky HD box?

If my sense of deflation could be measured in cows, it would be forty eight cows strong.

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Technology

The best/worst virus in the world, ever

A terrifying new virus is sweeping the Internet, according to Sophos:

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos’s global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have discovered a worm that attempts to send a photograph of an owl to attached network printers.

The picture it prints (see link) made me laugh like a drain.

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Technology

MySpace: full of crap

I haven’t linked to anyone slagging off MySpace for a while, so here’s a new one (some language NSFW). It’s long, frequently funny and gets extra bonus points for printing a pic of a Goth with the caption “I’m so goth, I shit bats”. But there are some serious/scary points in there too:

Before TV, people thought it would be an incredible tool for education and it would be used for benevolent purposes. It turned out that what people wanted to watch was crap, so the people who made TV made crap. This is what’s happening to MySpace. It’s a great tool at first glance, but the desire to produce crap by those in control of the content (the users) overwhelms the networking aspect almost 5 to 1.

The most depressing bit comes courtesy of the New York Times:

To expand ad sales, especially to big brands, Mr. Levinsohn plans to supplement the MySpace staff with a second sales force linked to the Fox TV sales department. He wants to expand one of Mr. DeWolfe’s advertising ideas — turning advertisers into members of the MySpace community, with their own profiles, like the teenagers’ — so that the young people who often spend hours each day on MySpace can become “friends” with movies, cellphone companies and even deodorants.

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Media Technology

Engadget’s looking for writers…

…and yes, it’s a paid gig. The site’s looking for an afternoon/evening editor, night time editor and weekend editor for the main site, a morning and afternoon editor for the Mobile site, an HDTV expert and a podcast producer. Interested? Here’s what you need to do.

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Technology

The new MacBooks


It’s not a surprise that Apple’s replaced the iBook with the MacBook, but what is surprising is that they support external monitors both for mirroring and for extended desktops. In other words, you can use a MacBook as part of a twin-screen setup (albeit without much graphics horsepower: the MacBooks have on-board graphics). Prices start at £749.