Monday, April 30, 2007

What do they paint HUMMVEEs with?

hummveeEver noticed how you never see pictures of scratched up military vehicles?  Further, you never see pictures of military personnel out with Turtle Wax to protect the shiny finish of their vehicles.  I started wondering what the military paints their vehicles with and was actually able to find out. 

Hentzen Coatings is the supplier of paint for military HUMMVEEs.  The particular coating product used on military vehicles is called Zenthane, a urethane-based flat coating and is CARC (Chemical Agent Resistant Coating).  According to literature on the Hentzen site, Zenthane is normally the top coat layer of paint, applied over a couple of epoxy-based primer layers.  Not surprisingly, Zenthane can be applied via traditional spraying methods, but can also be directly applied via brush for touch-up; my guess, though it doesn't state it anywhere on the site, is that you could probably touch up a pretty significant-sized area with a spray paint can of Zenthane.

Digging a little more, I found a reference on this site that claims Imron paint and AwlGrip paint are nearly the same as Zenthane, especially for those of us that don't need the CARC.  If you use Imron, you have to do this apparently:

If you hace trouble locating Zenthane, then
just have a body shop supplier mix up some Black Imron or Awlgrip and
add the flattening agent.

Have you gotten to the point where you ask: "So what, Ross?"  Here's the point: this hard-use paint is available, but not used on civilian vehicles because it would probably disrupt the entire body shop industry. 

Ever wanted to go touch up a nick in your paint with a brush?  Pretty hard to do now, but pretty easy to do with these products.  Do you need a shiny finish?  I sure don't care about it -- flat's perfectly fine with me.

Link -- Hentzen Coatings

Link -- Zenthane product page

Link -- AwlGrip 

Hat tip to jonwedd for the picture 

Are blogs a fad?

Whenever I hear this question (or someone turning this question into a statement) I'm always reminded of this quote from Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew Grove:

"Is the internet a big deal? Or is it an over-hyped fad?

I think it is a big deal.  I think anything that can affect industries whose total revenue base is many hundreds of billions of dollars is a big deal."

I wonder how Andy would answer this question about blogs -- I'm guessing the answer would be exactly the same. 

Friday, April 27, 2007

Twitter on Blackberry without SMS charges

Anyone want to guess what it's called?

TwitterBerry, of course.

Does exactly what it says in the post title -- download options via the link below (I'm an OTA guy myself).


It's the experience that matters: Voce is trying to capitalize on it


Voce is marketing itself as the first "Premium Wireless Service."  For a $500 initiation fee and $200 per month you get unlimited voice services and text services across the United States.  In addition, you get free 411 service, a new handset and upgrades every 12 months (yes, free), 24/7 mobile assistant, and personalized training and device set-up.  I don't like that you don't get data in the all-inclusive plan (if you do, I don't see it on their site), but there are plenty of people out there that are spending $200 per month in voice and messaging without using data. 

In addition to domestic services, Voce will also help you out with international roaming and international phones (free loaner phones if needed).  It's not clear what technology Voce is using in the US, but from the phone offerings it appears to be GSM, so I'm not entirely clear why you would need an international handset, but it's cool that they'll give you a free loaner.

Here's what's important to understand about this service:


Voce will not get you any better coverage than any other carrier because they're buying time on someone's network (likely Cingular).  Just like a Green American Express card has the same purchasing power as the Platinum card, it's about the experience of using it and to some degree the amenities that come along with it (I know a lot of people that have a Platinum Amex and have no idea that they get all kinds of cool services; even people that pay to belong to Hertz Number One Club Gold when it's included free with the Amex Platinum).

Will Voce be successful?  Maybe.  But they have to make the experience worth it in such a way that the fact that they are a MVNO is irrelevant.


GC Mobile

gc mobileIn the footsteps of Google Mobile, GrandCentral now has a lightweight, mobile-specific version located at

Don't get confused: this is not yet a Java app (though I'm hoping they're going that way with it), but rather a very convenient way to access most GrandCentral features on your mobile device.

In order to really use the service effectively, it's best to have a device that has the capability to play MP3 files so that you can listen to voicemail messages -- works great on my Pearl.

One thing that I haven't tested, though it is listed as a feature, is that if you get voicemail files sent to your e-mail and receive them on your mobile device and listen to them on your mobile, using the GC Mobile client will synchronize those activities.  Because I don't have my GrandCentral messages forwarded to the e-mail addresses I access on my Pearl, I haven't tested this, but it sounds pretty cool if it does what I think it does.

As I said above, hopefully they'll package this up in an application just like the Google applications on the Blackbeery; it would be very cool to simply have a little GrandCentral icon rather than having to launch the browser.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Blackberry Pearl user now

pearlAs much as I've tried to use Blackberry alternatives over the past few years, I am now a Blackberry Pearl user on Cingular.  Previously I've defended not using a Blackberry because it makes it look like you're talking into a pocket calculator (I still think that, by the way, about the non-Pearl form factor Blackberrys) and because a lot of my mobile e-mail interaction in the past has been simply cleaning out my inbox.  However, I now find myself needing to be able to send responses that extend beyond the abilities of T9 text input.

Cingular provides an unlimited Blackberry plan aimed at consumers for $29.99 per month, which is $10 more than the unlimited MediaNET plan that also includes 300 SMS messages -- the net cost effect for my changing to Blackberry is $10 per month in additional data charges + $4.99 per month for the 200 SMS message package for a total of $15 per month.  A lot of the people that I used to interact with via SMS have Blackberries, so I may drop the SMS as we start doing pin-to-pin communication, but it's going to take me a few months to figure out the best option.

The Pearl is an impressive device and from a form factor perspective it is not any larger than my 2125 and is much thinner with a better camera and a bigger screen.  I had no problem setting up the BIS service with Cingular (actually did it on the phone rather than their site), but I have a word of caution: if you purchase a Pearl (or Blackberry for that matter) on Craigslist, eBay, etc., you need to ensure that the PIN has not been previously registered or you'll wind up spending a bunch of time with RIM support to try and get a new PIN.

A few gripes about the Pearl:

  • No HSDPA (i.e., not 3G)

  • No wifi

  • No software reset (rectify this with SoftReset, which you can find here along with some other cool software -- donate if you use it)

  • Relatively low megapixel camera (I'd like to see it 3MP+, but that's just me)

I don't gripe about SureType because I've been using T9 for so long that I don't feel like SureType is too much of a departure from a QWERTY keyboard; I think you either love (or learn to love) SureType or you hate it.  Bear in mind that you'll not currently find a phone with full keyboard capabilities that has the same form factor as the Pearl.

In trying to determine the optimal configuration for Gmail, here's what I came up with:

  • Use Gmail's automatic forwarding feature to send a copy of each e-mail to my BIS address

  • Use the BIS filters to ensure that any mail sent from my Gmail address is not sent back to the device (this ensures that e-mail replies are not sent back to the Pearl)

  • Use BIS settings for mail sent from my BIS address to look as if it was sent via my Gmail address (this ensures that the reply-to and sent from addresses are my Gmail address, which keeps my BIS address out of circulation)

Although the method described above still requires me to access Gmail to mark items as read, etc. it's pretty effective in pushing e-mail to the Pearl in real time.

Speaking of Gmail, Google has an amazing software suite available for the Pearl.  Although I still get a network access challenge for their apps from the phone, what I love is that the Gmail, Google Search, Maps, and News show up as real applications on the Pearl as opposed to having to go to the MIDlet Manager on the 2125.

Overall I'm pretty happy with the phone.  More to come I'm sure. 

Friday, April 20, 2007

Thunderbird 2 is official

Seemed to go pretty quickly from Release Candidate to full version, but still it's pretty cool that Thunderbird 2 is out.  I've been using Thunderbird 2RC1 with an IMAP account for the last few days and couldn't be happier with the product.  Unless you're locked into an Exchange environment, you should definitely check out Thunderbird -- Gmail users will appreciate the quick setup for Gmail accounts.

Note that for some reason the release candidate update engine isn't working right now, so you may want to download the application directly to update. 

Click the picture below to download.


If you're like me and hate the idea of voice cellular calls on airplanes, then check this out

Qantas is doing a test of service that allows you to access GPRS data service (read: send and receive e-mail) and send SMS messages on planes.  This system only works for GSM carriers and essentially creates a mini GSM tower on the plane that acts like a virtual country (read: international roaming must be enabled and expect to pay international roaming fees).  Furthermore, GSM phones self-regulate their power, so by having the mini tower within the plane, the RF output from the phones will be minimal.

I wouldn't mind having the ability to send and receive my e-mail (I'm assuming that Blackberries would also work by using the GPRS data connection) and to send and receive text messages while flying nor would I mind if anyone else on the plane was interacting with the data portion of their phones; lots of flyers, me included, will queue up messages on their phones now so that they can be sent as soon as the phone can be turned back on.

I've posted about voice service on planes and had some people disagree with me being against it, but I have to say that the small experience of calls made on planes prior to take-off and after landing are enough for me to maintain being against voice capabilities while flying. 

While this solution works well in countries where GSM is the predominant or only technology in use, implementing a similar system might prove to be much more expensive and complicated due to the competing technologies.


La Caja China

I was watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay and he was doing a competition around roast pork; both he and the competitor were using La Caja China:

la caja china

La Caja China allows you to cook a variety of meats, including whole pigs, within the box.  The box is lined with metal and the coals are put on top of the box, which creates indirect radiant heat throughout the enclosed cooking area.

I don't frequently need to cook whole pigs or large pieces of meat, but if I did need to even once or twice a year, I would look hard at buying one of these boxes. 


Monday, April 16, 2007

The experience

I have to admit that my recent trip to San Antonio was the first time I had actually booked a hotel through, which is surprising to me upon reflection due to the amount I travel.  Here are a couple of things that I found interesting about the experience:

  • No points at the Wyndham chain when you book with  I don't know if this is unique to Wyndham, but I tried to get them to add my number when I checked in and they told me I was ineligible due to the fact that it was an internet booking.  Based on the fact that there was around a $90 price differential, I wasn't too upset about not earning points or getting other amenities, but I was still a guest in their hotel, so what should they care?

  • doesn't actually print out the phone number of the hotel on their confirmation sheet.  Not a big deal if you don't need to call the hotel, but if you're like me, even with the GPS system you sometimes need to call to get some directions.  Furthermore, it makes it very challenging to call and request an early check-in or late check-in.

  • No receipt available when checking out.  Again, I don't know if this is unique to the Wyndham chain, but I was told that the Wyndham could not generate a receipt as it was an internet booking.  After I thought about it for a few minutes, it did make sense that Wyndham probably had no idea what charged me for the room, but it's important to ensure you keep your confirmation if you need to expense the room.

Would I use again?  Sure I would now that I know the process.

Link -- 

Fat wallets

Does your wallet look like this?

fat wallet

If it does, do you actually sit with it in your back pocket?

I do just about everything I can to have the smallest wallet possible and I still find myself taking it out on long car drives, sitting in the office, etc. -- have you ever seen someone with a wallet like the one above actually sitting tilted?  It usually happens on a non-cushioned chair, but you can actually see a guy sitting cockeyed because his wallet it offsetting his equilibrium.

I'm sure that there are studies showing how fat wallets can have a negative impact on your spine, etc., but really this is just common sense: if you were sitting with one side of your butt on a brick and another not on a brick, and you had the ability to massively reduce the size of or eliminate the brick, wouldn't you do it?

Outside of the sitting issue and potential health problems, fat wallets just don't look good; there is absolutely nothing impressive about carrying around an enormous wallet.

Just my $0.02, of course, you may disagree with me. 

PS -- do yourself a favor and visit Just One Club Card to consolidate your club cards as a start.  Do you really go to Petco often enough to carry the card in your wallet?  I didn't think so.

Picture from mikeying88.

Use Thunderbird 2.0 with Google Apps to take on MS Outlook and Exchange


Thunderbird 2.0 is going to be a killer Outlook competitor, but you can already use the Thunderbird 2.0 RC1 to synchronize between Google Calendar and Thunderbird bidirectionally.  Find full instructions via the link below and understand that it's sort of kludgy right now, but will become more and more polished as additional release candidates are put out by Mozilla.  Furthermore, understand that you should probably be backing up your calendar data before assuming that this will just work correctly.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Populate mail into Gmail using MailTraq Server

Let me start this post off by saying that all credit for these instructions goes to Robert Ciaccio who had the idea to set up MailTraq on his computer, populate in his e-mail, and use Gmail's Mail Fetcher to POP into the server and retrieve all of his e-mail.  Most importantly, I would like to thank Robert for providing me with these directions and allowing me to share them with all of my readers.

Note that the method described below will allow you to keep all of the date and time information intact from your original e-mails as opposed to other methods that I have previously described.  Further note that  Robert used this on a connection that provided him with a dynamic IP address, but the IP address changes infrequently and his provider is not NATing behind a group of IP addresses.

Here are the instructions:

  • Download and install the mailtraq 30 day trial version from (choosing complete as your setup option is fine).

  • After installation, the setup wizard should start automatically (if it does not, go ahead and start mailtraq by clicking on its icon in the windows start menu).

  • Go ahead and let the wizard create a new database for you at the default location.

  • When you get to the screen that asks for your domain name, enter any domain you like, such as (this will be used later as part of your login username).

  • The next screen asks for a string which identifies IP addresses on your local network. If you don't understand what this means, just go ahead and enter 192.168.0.* (assuming you have a home network, this gives machines on it the ability to access the mailtraq server). Click 'next'.

  • Leave the sending mail selection as "I wish to send mail directly..." and click 'next'.

  • On the "Mail Collection" screen, choose "I am my own mail host..." and click 'next'.

  • Type the username that you would like to use as the part of your login before, enter your full name, choose a password and click 'next'.

  • Click "finish" to exit the wizard.

  • Now you'll import the Gmail messages that you have downloaded into Thunderbird to make them accessible through the mailtraq email server.

  • Go to the mailtraq administration console (it should already have popped up after the wizard, but if not, go to the start--->all programs--->mailtraq), and choose tools--->message import wizard, and click 'next' on the first screen.

  • Choose "Mozilla Thunderbird Mail File" and click 'next'.

  • Note: At this point, I made a copy of my Thunderbird inbox file that I used for importing the messages into mailtraq, just so I would have a backup copy in case I screwed something up. Your Thunderbird mbox file is located at 'Documents and Settings[yourusername]Application DataThunderbirdProfiles[somecrazytextstring].defaultMailLocal FoldersInbox. Copy this file to a location easy to browse to, such as c:temp.

  • Back in the wizard, click 'browse', then navigate to the location where you have stored your inbox file, select it, click 'open' and then 'next'.

  • Choose the mailbox you would like to import the messages into, which will be the username you created earlier in the previous wizard, and click 'next'.

  • Select "Assign all messages to the folder selected below", click 'next' and 'next' again.

  • While mailtraq is busy importing your Gmails into your new mailtraq mailbox, go to your Gmail settings page for the account you will be checking from now on.

  • Click on "Accounts", and in the section labeled "Get mail from other accounts", click "add another mail account".

  • In the popup that appears, enter the username that you created in the earlier wizard, ie "", and click 'next step'.

  • In the "username" field, enter the full email address, not just the part prior to the @ symbol. Enter your password. For POP server, enter the IP address of your home network or your computer, depending on whether you have a router or not. Leave the port at "110", and make sure that your router and/or software firewall is allowing/forwarding incoming connections on this port to your computer. I also checked the box "Label incoming messages" and typed in the username of my old Gmail account, so all the imported messages are labeled as such. If you don't want all the imported messages clogging up your inbox, also choose "archive incoming messages". Check to see that the mailtraq wizard has completed the task of importing your messages into your mailbox. When it is complete, click "add account".

  • At this point, Gmail should begin downloading the messages from your computer, in groups of 200. In my case, it took about 2 days for Gmail to retrieve everything (3500 messages?) from the the mailtraq server. Once gmail is finally done, go ahead and uninstall mailtraq and you're through!

Allow me to point out a few more things:

  1. Mailtrq is only available for Windows, so all of the instructions above specifically relate to Windows.  I'm pretty sure that you should be able to get all of this to work with Parallels , but I haven't tested it, so no guarantees.  I'm guessing that you might be able to pull off something similar on any platform with the open-source version of Zimbra -- if you do, please send instructions -- or possibly with some other application, but I haven't tested it.

  2. If your high-speed provider NATs behind IP addresses or constantly reassigns dynamic addresses, you may want to check out NO-IP -- the free version should be sufficient for a simple mail server.

  3. Be aware that you are potentially opening up your network/computer for port attacks by disabling security on the 110 port.  You can configure a random port in Mailtraq, but be aware that you will have to also specify that port in Gmail in order for Mail Fetcher to work correctly.  Instructions for this are not provided here, but are probably easily obtained by doing a Google search.

  4. Although Robert presents these instructions as a way to consolidate multiple Gmail accounts, provided you can get your e-mail into Thunderbird, this is a very effective way to populate e-mail into a Gmail account from a non-Gmail account.

Robert, thanks again for putting this together for everyone.

These instructions are mirrored on the Gmail Options Squidoo Lens

Sunday, April 08, 2007


droboIncreasingly the biggest challenge for home consumers will be managing their data storage.  As broadband speeds continue to accelerate to allow rapid downloads of larger files, as we start to store multiple gigabyte video files, as we continue to store increasingly large photos at higher and higher resolutions, and as simple software takes more and more space, the need to store massive amounts of data and to do so in a redundant manner will become increasingly necessary.  Currently most home consumers use external drives to store files and more sophisticated consumers use multitudes of external drives as software RAIDs; some consumers use hardware RAID devices as they become more and more popular and cheaper.

Unfortunately hard drives eventually fail, meaning that if you are using non-redundant external drives, you constantly face the risk of data loss.  Furthermore, some RAID configurations require the use of identical drives, meaning that failures can cause you to have to redesign your entire RAID configuration.

Drobo is an intelligent storage solution that seeks to solve all of the problems traditionally associated with external storage.  There are 4 bays in the Drobo device that accept SATA drives and no requirements that the drive be the same speed, manufacturer, or size.  In order to function correctly, Drobo really requires 2 drives for data redundancy, but is designed for 1 drive to fail and to give you time to replace the drive in a single drive configuration.

User interaction with Drobo does not necessarily require software: status of the available storage and the state of each drive is shown through the use of colored LEDs on the front of the unit.  For drive status, Drobo uses a very simple stoplight methodology: green means everything is fine, yellow indicates a warning, and red means there is a problem.

If you install 4 drives in Drobo and begin to run out of space, Drobo will actually visually indicate the smallest drive that needs to be replaced in order to add more storage, which is really cool.  Furthermore, because the SATA drives slide into the ports on Drobo without any sort of adapters or cables needed, you can keep your eyes open for the best SATA deals and only upgrade, replace, or add drives when there are acceptable deals for you.  Drobo winds up being infinitely expandable and will be as expensive or cheap as you make it based on the best SATA drive deals that you can find.

I'd like to see whether or not Drobo could be effectively used when connected to a server/computer and shared over a network -- I don't see nay reason why this would not work and it could be a very elegant and simply managed solution for non-complex LANs (i.e., small business).

Cost of the Drobo without any drives is $700, which seems expensive until you think back on the amount of money that you've spent on external drives and the fact that once you have the Drobo unit, you have infinite expansion options.

Link -- Drobo main page

Link -- video of how Drobo works (worth watching) 

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Dip

the dipI was fortunate enough to receive a galley edition of The Dip, Seth Godin's newest book.  As the book is a pre-production version, there may be some changes to the final language, etc., but I'm going to try not to really quote anything and just give you my $0.02.

First off, the book is small.  Not small as in iPod Nano small, but small as in not a ton of pages (so maybe "short" is a better term, though I don't want to give the wrong impression), which is a refreshing change from the majority of business books, many of which seem to infer that the author or publisher derives the value of the hefty price by the overall number of pages.  Quite frankly, by making the book short and to the point, the book is far more readable and for more impactful -- there's no need to put in language about skipping chapters like some books do as you simply do not need to.  I know a lot of executives that skip the middle part of books and/or get book summaries: those of you that engage in chapter skipping or book summaries need not worry, this book can be read and understood in less than 2 hours.

The edition of the book I received was paperback, though it is listed as a hardback edition on Amazon.  Due to the fact that the book is small, the price of the hardback is only around $10, which makes it the best value for a business book that I have seen in a long time: skip Starbuck's for 3 days between now and May, and you'll have the cash to afford The Dip.  Furthermore, if you buy no other business book this year, make sure that you read The Dip because even at twice the price, it's that worthwhile.

I actually read Seth's book twice: I read it from cover-to-cover in 1.5 hours and started right back at page one and read it again.  The Dip, boiled down to the essence of its message is simply about this: knowing when to quit and when not to quit.  You might read those 9 words preceding this sentence and think to yourself that you already know when to quit and when to stick around, but my guess is that you don't.  Chances are good that you will read Seth's book and a lot of the information will seem totally obvious to you, but it takes someone like Seth Godin to put it together in such a way that makes it seem obvious.  My first experience in reading the book caused me to reflect on my life experiences while reading thinking things like, "I knew I should have quit" and "I probably should have stuck in there."

The principle of a dip is very straightforward: it is the area of time, work, etc. that exists between starting something and the mastering something.  In this dip is when you have to make the decision as to whether or not to quit.  When I first read the book, I immediately tried to compare Dips to Andrew Grove's Strategic Inflection Points ("SIPs"), but Dips are not the same as SIPs.  SIPs are periods where you choose to make a decision that has an impact on an alternate outcome; one of the decisions you might make in a SIP is to quite, while another might be not to quit, but SIPs can also encompass many other types of decisions.  Dips, on the other hand, are absolute in the decision that mus be made: you quit or you stick.

One of the most important things to understand about Dips is that they create scarcity: people that make it through Dips are more scarce then people that start something and wind up quitting.  Professional athletics are a perfect example of the scarcity created by Dips as the Dip itself, the barriers to entry (i.e., athletics, performance, mental toughness, etc.) make it unlikely that those that are not fully committed to making it through the Dip will succeed.

Quitting is scary stuff, but read The Dip so that you too can figure out how to evaluate when you should quit (and you should do it often).

This blog post gives some small amount of background about The Dip: I think it's enough to do 2 things -- (1) Make you want to go buy the book, and (2) Be able to understand Seth's blog about the book until you have a chance to read it.

Links below will take you to places where you can read more about the book, more about Seth, and some options on where to pre-order/buy the book.

Link -- The Dip blog (note that you can subscribe to this blog via e-mail) 

Link -- Dip tour details  

Link -- pre-order from Amazon

Link -- Seth Godin's main page  

Thanks to the Penguin Group, specifically Allison Sweet, and Seth Godin for allowing me to preview this book.

Juge says Vonage cannot get new customers

vonageCNN reports that a federal judge has ruled that Vonage can continue to infringe on Verizon's patents for all existing customers, but cannot add new customers and must post at $68mil bond.  The CNN article does point out that although Vonage feels that this is not an equitable solution, this really is a "middle-road" solution that allows Vonage to continue to service existing customers rather than completing shutting down the Vonage service and allows Verizon to not worry about additional patent infringements while knowing quantifiably the amount Vonage is infringing.

I used to love Vonage and would recommend it to everyone until I had that horrible experience trying to cancel my service (and, no, I have not had any response at all from Vonage).  The big challenge for Vonage in the face of the national attention that they're receiving is going to be existing customer retention as there are certainly going to be customers that want to switch off of the service to ensure no interruptions, they get to keep their number, etc.  If I were Vonage, I would take all of my marketing and business development and new customer acquisition people and stick them down in the call center so that they are fully bought into the process of retaining existing customers.  My guess would be that if they don't, they will continue to produce the same sort of lousy customer service experiences for their customers who will then convert into not being customers and tell everyone they know to stay away from Vonage.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007


iscroll2If you're like me and have an older (read "pre-2005") iBook or Powerbook and you miss the ability to enable the feature set that allows you to use 2 fingers on the trackpad to do various things, you'll definitely want to check out iScroll2.

iScroll2 enables all of the functionality that users of newer MacBooks and iBooks have on their trackpad.  The specific feature that I was missing the most was the ability to put 2 fingers on the trackpad and click to get the equivalent of the ctrl+click combination that is normally required.  Due to the fact that my Powerbook is running 10.3.9 it's hard for me to know if the ctrl+click functionality is something that is unique to 10.4, but I'm guessing that it is.   I can enable the "Clicking" gesture in the Mouse & Keyboard control panel and that does enable the ctrl+click gesture previously described, but it also enables the ability to click by tapping the trackpad, which drives me crazy -- on Windows machines with trackpads, the first thing that I disable is tapping.

I don't really use and of the other two finger gesture shortcuts on my MacBook Pro, but I know people that do, so certainly check this program out if you need/want to enable that feature set on an older machine.

Note that this program is open-source, but does accept donations.  Furthermore, rest assured that the installer package runs a check on your hardware to ensure that your hardware is compatible before running installation.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Doing the real math on success

chalkboard math

Matt McCall posted a great clip this morning about doing the real math on success.  I think I've seen something like this before, but this is a cool presentation, so I'm republishing the whole thing:

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint
it goes like this: 
What Makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE
than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more
than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you
to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer
these questions: 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

represented as: 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26.


8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%


 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96% 


 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

and B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T 
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103% 

BUT, look how far ass kissing will take you.

 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that, while Hard
work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there,
it's the Bullshit and Ass kissing that will put you over the top."



Photo from Mister Bisson  

EMI tracks DRM-free on iTunes

drm warning

Consumers now have a choice in music encoding when they purchase EMI songs on iTunes: pay $0.99 and get the song with standard DRM or pay $1.29 and get the song encoded at 256kbps AAC (DRM-free).  Apparently any full album purchases will still be at the same price, but will be DRM-free.  As an added bonus, customers that previously purchased DRM'd songs for $0.99 will be able to "upgrade" to the non-DRM tracks if they pay the $0.30 upgrade -- I'd like to actually see Apple create a filter for my library that shows me the tracks that are available for upgrade and offer me the ability to do so with a single click.

All of this is great and is likely where the industry is headed.  To summarize what Jobs said: they really are offering nothing more than the consumer expects when they rip a CD.  Good point.

Here's something interesting to think about: Where's the extra premium going?  EMI has created a premium choice for consumers that want to purchase individual tracks and, sure, they've encoded the songs at a higher sampling rate, but in actuality it doesn't incrementally cost EMI more to encode tracks at a higher sampling rate without DRM.  My guess is that they extra $0.30 goes straight to the record company (i.e., no split on the incremental lift with iTunes or the artist).

Something else interesting to think about: For years people have wanted Apple to license out their FairPlay DRM scheme, but Apple had never done it.  If Jobs is correct and 50% of music available on the iTunes store is DRM-free by the end of the year, Apple never will have to license FairPlay because it will simply fade away, at least for music.  I think that Apple no longer see FairPlay as the lock-in to Apple hardware; they've got such penetration and such a loyal audience, that their hardware sales will continue provided they continue to innovate.  Furthermore, Apple can lead the new market in video and lock people to the iPod standard in that market while still capturing music sales through iTunes.

Here's where I net out on this: I'm probably not going to pay to "upgrade" any of my previously purchased songs.  If I ever get to the point where FairPlay is negatively impacting my experience, I'll just burn a CD and rip the music off of it.  It's unlikely that I'll stop using iTunes for my music management and unlikely that I'll stop using the iTunes Music Store; I may think about paying for the "premium" version of individual tracks, but then again, I might not.  I'll probably continue to buy iPods and AppleTVs and iPhones, but perhaps I'll be happier that my music can play on other AAC-capable devices (Sonos would be a good reason to think about purchasing "premium" and being happy that albums will be DRM-free). 

Link -- TechCrunch coverage