Particle Debris (Week ending 1/2) Behind the Curtain

Purchasing a few Blu-ray movies at Christmas, I noticed that there is still some incoherence and feuding when it comes to digital extras. Sony's Hancock, for example, has an extra digital copy on disc for PCs and PSPs, but doesn't appear to support iTunes. I suppose that's par for the course for Sony, interesting but not unexpected. Universal's Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor does include an iTune compatible version. I've asked Sony about this and will report when the company responds.

Some indication of the problems encountered by Hollywood were discussed by Stephen Wildstrom at BusinessWeek: "The basic problem is that Hollywood is attempting to preserve an analog business model in a digital age. The result is a crazy quilt of availability in different media, in different geographies, and at different times," he wrote, and went on to explain why various titles first show up on iTunes then disappear later. He also pointed to the Turner Classic Movies poll of the top 200 movies requested but not yet released on DVD. I voted for PT 109 with Cliff Robertson.

Previously, TMO and others reported on the Leap Year bug that caused Microsoft Zune's to freeze up on December 31. At first, one would think to blame Microsoft programmers, but Graham Cluley dug deeper and found that the problem can be traced to the clock chip from Freescale.

In my experience, this is inexcusable. Professionals who work with with hardware clocks need to understand how time and the calendar are maintained. Forgetting about leap years is a serious breach of professionalism. So much so, that I fear that inadequate education and immature business practices lead to the kind of code showcased in Mr. Cluley's blog. Someone should be fired, and coders who work with time and calendars should first buy an astronomy textbook, study and then consult with an astronomer.

Behind the Curtain

The headline at Computerworld on Friday points out that Windows market share continues to dive, but one has to read the whole article carefully to discover that this is an annual even brought on by the reduction in business use of PCs, thanks to the holidays, and the uptick of personal Macintosh usage with people at home and on vacation. Despite that deeper explanation, Windows market share continues to decline overall, and Mac market share continues to rise monotonically, a mathematical progression that now appears unavoidable.

The best way to find out about what it's really like to work at Apple is to read a story by some who worked for Apple for 17 years, Chuq von Rospach. In his premiere article at The Guardian, Mr. von Rospach described what it was like to work through the Christmas holiday, preparing for a Steve Jobs Macworld keynote. He also explained why Apple no longer finds a Macworld immediately after the Christmas buying season useful. [Could that have been the source of friction between Mr. Jobs and IDG? Mr. von Rospach didn't speculate on that, however.] "Enjoying the show, avoiding the flamethrower: life inside Apple" is an insightful article, well worth your time.

Right after speculated last week that the iPhone's killer app could be books, and wonders if scientific books, protected by Apple's DRM, might be a good way to go, released Mathomatic, "the first full-fledged symbolic math solution for the iPhone and iPod Touch." It's not just a calculator, but can solve algebraic problems from simple high school problems up to polynomials and multivariate systems. With the discussion of a possible 9-inch Apple iPad due in the fall of 2009, Apple could take the scientific community, again, by storm and leave the clunky Linux and XP-based netbooks in the dust.

Some companies have an immediate vision for near term money, and some companies, like Apple, have a grander vision. That's why we're Apple customers.

For those who need to run Vista in virtualization or with Boot Camp on a Macintosh, Computerworld published a great article on Wednesday on how to secure your Vista installation. All you'll need is Vista's built-in security tools and some freeware. For those, however, who decide to jump the gun and grab a Windows 7 beta illegally, there are hidden security gotchas. It's probably better to leave the Windows 7 experimentation to Rob Enderle.

Finally, it appears that the iPhone Dev Team has developed a tool to unlock the iPhone 3G. It works with the latest firmware update, 2.2, released by Apple. It's called yellowsn0w.

See you at Macworld!