Particle Debris (wk. ending 7/29) The Future Arrived Yesterday

| Particle Debris

Some companies think they can do better on their own and don’t need Apple. Observers frequently point out that when these companies defect from Apple’s way of doing things, it’s good-bye and good riddance. I, for one, think that Apple should be promoting a healthy business environment for all partners, but sometimes an Apple partner doesn’t see the healthy goodness of Apple’s way. Here’s a couple of those cases in point: “Sidestepping Apple: From Amazon to Condé Nast, Companies Rethink App Strategies.”

This is just too funny. It’s a story about how McDonalds is rolling out Wi-Fi in its restaurants and has provided a nice quick tip sheet for its customers on how to connect. Compare Windows XP and Vista instructions on the left to the Mac version on the right. I can just see customers thinking to themselves, “Why am I not using a Mac?” Thanks, McDonalds, for the free Apple advertising!

Sooner or later, we’ll all be faced with this dilemma in a household move. What to do with all those darn books. A New York Times writer was faced with just that problem in a relocation to San Francisco and wrote about the agonizing decisions to be made about his collection of books. “Print Books: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

As for me, I’ve already embarked on a project to get all my magazines moved to the iPad, but some titles are lagging — or in a format I don’t like. But I think I’ll be paper free by next summer. As for those old physics and astronomy books from the 1970s? Outdated and headed for the trash.

You would think, off hand, that the enormously popular iPad would be a giant blob on the Netflix radar. That turns out not to be the case. Here’s some fascinating data that shows who the heavy hitters are when it comes to Netflix viewing. I was particularly surprised to see the data for the Apple TV. It just goes to show how global statistics can burst our balloon of Apple provincialism. “Netflix Is for Movies, Hulu Is for TV Shows. Neither Is for Your iPad or Your iPhone.

Agent 007For a company selling a product, there’s trouble and then there’s real trouble: when you have more returns than sales and you take a big loss. That’s what’s happend to the Logitech Revue and Google TV. This is no surprise. We all told Google and Logitech that living room users don’t use keyboards, but they wouldn’t listen. Instead we got the infamous Kevin Bacon TV commercial. Here is the sorry tale: “Logitech shows Google TV’s trouble as Revue drops to $99.” The Logitech CEO Gerald Quielen was forced to step down. Hey, guys, we told you!

Meanwhile, Apple is selling an estimated 500,000 Apple TV’s per quarter, according to AppleInsider.

It’s not like the old days. When a company ships a product that’s crap, millions of people know that within minutes thanks to Twitter pointing to website reviews, so there’s no early launch momentum. The product is screwed on launch day. That happened to Hewlett Packard’s TouchPad, and Jon Rubinstein was quickly relieved of his former duties.

The carnage is not over. Motorola revealed this week that the Xoom is also a flop. The company expects to sell a total of 1.5 million Xooms or less this year. Apple sells that many iPad 2s in two weeks. If you can stand the pain, here’s the story from All Things D’s Ina Fried.

If you thought Google would answer Facebook by delivering a service with more privacy and more warm fuzzies for the astute customer, think again. Here’s a catalog of creepy things that Google+ does that you probably didn’t know about before you signed up. “Why I was banned on Google+ (and how I redeemed myself)” Done reading? Cool. Now tell me why I should sign up. Seriously.

Perhaps Apple should get into this business and do it right. And I don’t mean Ping. Apple is really good at understanding how to use technology and basic human needs to undermine the competition. It would be a good use of Apple’s talent. Mayhap Apple is becomming the James Bond of consumer electronics - the handsome, high-tech slayer.

Finally, here’s a really cool tech story that combines two of my favorite things: computers and chess. For awhile, we had the famous encounters between humans and computers playing chess, most notably IBM’s Deep Blue against Gary Kasparov. That got to be too humiliating for humans, so as I understand it now, computers play computers, men play men, and women, generally (unless they’re Grand Masters*) play women. But what if we change the rules? What if we marry good players with great computer assistance and play them against the most powerful supercomputer programs? If you have any interest in computer chess, check out: “Friction in Human-Computer Symbiosis: Kasparov on Chess.

Technical Word of the Week

iOSification (n.) or iOSify (v.) The process of making OS X more like iOS. Thanks and credit to Ted Landau.


* I don’t recall that exact rule for that.

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Lee Dronick

This is just too funny. It?s a story about how McDonalds is rolling out Wi-Fi in its restaurants and has provided a nice quick tip sheet for its customers on how to connect. Compare Windows XP and Vista instructions on the left to the Mac version on the right. I can just see customers thinking to themselves, ?Why am I not using a Mac?? Thanks, McDonalds, for the free Apple advertising!

It like the difference in the way that you the MAC address under Windows or under OSX


As for those old physics and astronomy text books from the 1970s? Outdated and headed for the trash.

Physics and astronomy texts from the 1970s are outdated?  Nonsense.  OK, there are some new aspects - and even some authors who can convey the old concepts better, but the basics of physics and astronomy have not changed that much at all.  I learned from and still retain invaluable text books from the 1940s (and before) that have not yet been equalled. The General Theory of Relativity (which impacts both physics and astronomy) is almost 100 years old.  Classical physics (mechanics, electromagnetism, thermodynamics) had already been thoroughly developed and explained.  And by the 1970’s, even quantum theory had been well advanced, and quasars had already been discovered.  Physics and astronomy have inched ahead since then.


But I think I?ll be paper free by next summer.

I remember hearing something like this in about 1972, when the paper-free office was the thing to aim for.

That never happened, either.

Mind you, I read a lot of epubs on my iPad and find its ease of carting books from one country to another a real boon.

But paper-free? I fear not.

John Martellaro

I meant to imply, from the context, that I would be free of paper magazines.


John, I’d love to take my magazines that I have lying around, from before Zinio came to be, and My Mac|life copies and get them digitized. If you are doing this, please tell me how? Scanning them in?!? (A long and tedious process.)

As for the text books, if you are like me those old Physics books haven’t been cracked in 10 or more years and so, if I do need that information it’s easier to go to wikipedia or google it. But it is hard to let go of those old friends.



Some amusing pieces here.

I shared Nick Bilton’s piece on print books with my wife, and your comment about your old physics texts, and she immediately referenced my old medical texts, which take up an entire wall. The reality is, whenever I want to reference something, whether new findings, treatment regimens, vaccine development, or standard-of-care guidelines, I go online, and not to my medical texts from the mid ‘80s up to late ‘90s, when I was still buying printed texts. All my active reference material is electronic and stored in a reference manage, EndNote. Given that I have not cracked any of these texts in ages, and would not trust anything I glean from them, you have inspired me to bin them (donating outdated medical texts to developing countries has ethical implications).

As for Netflix, I do occasionally watch on my iPad, I just don’t watch many movies and almost no TV. Given my kids’ habits, however, I am not surprised at the Netflix and Hulu figures; our most Netflix consumption in our home is from our kids, and on their computers.

Facebook and Google+ are both brothels. I am only on Facebook to monitor and follow my kids (which remains a necessity), and would only migrate to Google+ if they did. While I love Twitter and use LinkedIn, I have seen precious little value in Facebook, but accept that I may be viewing it through the wrong lens. Whichever of these survive, and I continue to see them as a toss up between equally debilitating disease states, more needs to be done to protect consumer privacy.


On Chess: humans vs computers - as I understand it.  Gary won tournament one, and IBM asked for a follow up.  IBM won tournament two (by one game), and Gary asked for a follow up.  IBM closed the project.

I don’t have a reference for the latter. But it’s a long way from showing that the best computers can consistently beat (or “humiliate”) the best human chess players.


Can I ask you to donate your unwanted books to charity. I recall hearing of a fellow taking unwanted books to developing countries where they have very few resources. Please don’t trash them as outdated as you think they are.

Best wishes.


Can I ask you to donate your unwanted books to charity

Not sure to whom this is addressed, but actually I do donate some of my old medical texts to developing country libraries. Generally, these end up in one of my clinics for use by my medical team.

The problem is that I have to vet them, as some are okay (e.g. infectious diseases, physiology, anatomy - doesn’t change much), whereas others may be a bad idea (clinical management, drug therapies), particularly where low-cost and even free manuals are available (e.g. WHO clinical management pocket manuals).

But your suggestion is a noble one.

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