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My last post October 8, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, iPod, Microsoft, Zune.
10 comments

After more than 12 months, I’ve decided to stop blogging. There are several reasons for this, one of them being that I don’t think WordPress is the right place for me to express my opinions.  That said, I don’t plan to blog elsewhere. I plan to spend less time on the internet and more time enjoying my Zune 80, which is on the top of my Christmas wishlist (yes, I’m one of the 7 people who wants one). So, to the two readers  who were reading my posts (and to the one who turned too snarky for his/her own good), goodbye! Enjoy your iPods while I enjoy (yes, enjoy) the Zune. I leave you with my reasons for liking the Zune:

  1. Supports Recorded media from Media Center.
  2. On screen resolution is 320×240 – but new Zunes will import  720×480 @30fps or 720×576 @25fps without transcoding.
  3. Wireless sync with PC.
  4. May support WebGuide in the future. I don’t know.
  5. I am hoping that by buying the Zune, Microsoft will reward my loyalty by giving me a job.

Ta ta then. Mail me at cspkcats@yahoo.com if you have any questions or comments.

UPDATE: If you want to get your daily Microsoft fix, here are a few sites that may be interesting (organized by tone):

1. I love Microsoft so much, I want to take it behind my middle school and have sex with it:

    • Can’t think of any at the moment.

2. I like Microsoft. It’s not bad:

3. Microsoft’s just another company:

4. Microsoft’s okay, but its competitors rock:

5. I hate Microsoft so much, I want to take it behind my middle school and shove a pole up its ass:

So, there ya go. Enjoy!

P.S.: An update to a post does not constitute a new post!

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Microsoft sings new Zunes October 3, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, iPod, Microsoft, Music, Zune.
3 comments

OK, y’all* knew I was going to post about this, especially after writing an extensive article about the first Zune. Microsoft released details about the v2 Zunes yesterday. They’re not revolutionary, but I’m impressed nevertheless (you knew I’d say that too). The new Zunes basically come in 3 versions – 80 GB hard drive based and 4 and 8 GB flash based. The 80 Gig Zune (aka Zune 80) is available in black and is easily the most eye catching Zune in my opinion. The 4 Gig (Zune 4) and 8 Gig (Zune 8 ) models come in red, military green (which replaces brown as the new black), baby pink, and black.  See more images here. The old 30 GB model is not being discontinued. All new Zunes come with a squircle shaped click wheel known as “Zune Pad”, which is apparently easier to use. The Zune software has also been overhauled. Overall, there’s less to separate the Zunes form iPods this year (except for Touch) and I think Zune may do better than the 3% overall marketshare that it had last year. I don’t see it threatening iPod’s dominance any time soon, though.

Here’s a comparison of Zune 80 with iPod Classic.

*the two people who bother to read my posts. 🙂

The MIT – Harvard rivalry continues… September 25, 2007

Posted by sk in Halo 3, Microsoft, XBox 360.
2 comments

This is funny!

By the way, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be getting anything right with the XBox. Some Halo disks were scratched by the packaging apparently. Whoa!

I hate you, Bungie. I really do. Truly. Madly. Deeply. September 24, 2007

Posted by sk in Halo 3, Microsoft, XBox 360.
9 comments

Thank you SO much for hurting my intelligence.

Bungie, I WANT TO PUNISH YOU!

I NEED YOU TO WRITE USING MY SPECIAL keypad—-

I MUST NOT TELL LIES!

UNTIL YOUR HANDS START BLEEDING. Please stop questioning our intelligence by dishing out such hogwash and then acting as if you have developed the BIGGEST EPIC in the history of gaming!!!!

All you guys who liked Halo 3- Congratulations!!! GOD BLESS YOU! I’m not ready to read any shit they dish out here. And all those of you who want to tell me to stop ranting – the plot has holes bigger than the grand canyon.

I was going to buy that legendary version from Amazon. You know? Just to keep a neat copy to pass it down my family tree. It would become an antique heirloom kind of thing. It sounds corny, but I mean it. I have no kids now. damn, not even married. But I was really serious.

Okay, I know this reeks of plagiarism. Can’t help it. I wanted to write a post on all the hype surrounding Halo 3 for XBox 360, but I have no idea about the game. All I know is there is a character known as Master Chief, who is out to save the world. I’m actually ashamed to admit it. In fact, I don’t know much about two of the biggest releases this year – Harry Potter and Halo 3. I look forward to the Halo movie trilogy, though –mainly because of Peter Jackson.

I apologize to anyone who gets offended. It’s only a joke. Sorry! 😐

Oh, and happy birthday, Tismar. Hundreds of thousands of gamers will be on the streets tonight celebrating it.

The Tao of Steve September 22, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, Microsoft.
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Elizabeth Spiers has an interesting post that explains the attitude of some Apple fans such as the one I wrote about in my previous post.

I blame Steve Jobs [for] seduced me into buying his sleek machines, even if their delicate organs seem to fail with alarming regularity, like the beautiful consumptive heroines in Victorian novels.

Steve–we’ll call him Steve because he seems like a first-name-basis kind of guy–is the human incarnation of the average Apple product: He’s good-looking, he overpromises, and he’s notoriously temperamental. He evokes the feel-good indie populism synonymous with the company’s brand and manages to retain a solid reputation as a creative person while managing a $118 billion business.

The image is, of course, a facade. The dollar-a-year salaryman has been rewarded with at least one corporate jet.

We forgive Steve in a way that we won’t [Bill] Gates. We do this because outward appearances are important to us, and the products are a reflection of how we think of ourselves. Apple products are stylish and innovative. (We’re stylish and innovative!) We love Steve for the same reason. He’s creative and he seems appealingly antiestablishment. (We’re creative and antiestablishment!)

Mind you that Elizabeth herself is a huge Apple fan. Paul Thurrott has this to add:

I think this hits it on the head. What’s interesting, of course, is that the bad parts of Mr. Jobs’ personality–his prickly defensiveness whenever one suggests that an Apple product is lacking in some way, for example–seem to ooze down to the fanatics as well, as if by osmosis. You can see it in their vitriolic emails and their rabid and sometimes illogical defenses of the company in online forums. As the saying goes, they are a minority, but they are a very loud minority.

I think I should make it clear here that I don’t think Microsoft is perfect. The company makes a lot of mistakes and it’s not a “convicted monopolist” for no reason. I also think Apple makes some really good products. The iPhone (whether I think I need it or not) is revolutionary in my opinion. What I can’t stand is the attitude of these Mac fanatics. I know it doesn’t justify my vitriolic in my previous blog post, but my intention was to show what happens if one lets emotions get in the way of objectivity. It’s not pretty. I mentioned this even in my Windows and crapware post. I hope the “blogger formerly known as cotton” is listening.

The EU’s case against Microsoft September 21, 2007

Posted by sk in Microsoft.
7 comments

The recent ruling by the European Court of First Instance came as a surprise to me. I thought Neelie Kroes had gone too far in her efforts to make Microsoft bend or break and the court would cut down some of her powers. The strong endorsement of her methods by the court does not set a good precedent in my opinion. Neelie has taken it upon herself to reduce Microsoft’s market share. The problem is that Windows’ market share was not achieved forcefully. Microsoft never forced people to buy Windows PCs. Buy a Mac if you want to. I don’t think either the company or the Government is forcing you to buy a Windows PC. Actually, this type of monopoly by force exists only in communist, autocratic or even socialist countries. My personal opinion is that the Government should step in when a company indulges in anti-consumer tactics but not when a rival company that is unable to come up with good products complains. Excessive Government interference ultimately does more harm to the consumer than good.

I do agree that some of the fines against Microsoft were justified. The company did indulge in strong arm tactics to keep its monopoly. However, the bundling issue itself is kind of tricky. Given that an OS is used mainly for word processing, music, and internet browsing, isn’t it necessary for an OS to have these three programs? While I do agree that Microsoft’s motivations in bundling an internet browser and a media player with Windows in the 90s may not have been noble, things have changed a lot since then. These programs are integral parts of the OS and any Government that asks a company to unbundle these is still living in the dark ages in my opinion. I’m surprised that they really think unbundling the media player from Windows will help consumers. Also, for those who think it unbundling WMP from Windows offers an incentive to OEMs to bundle rival media players, they have no idea how these things work. My computer came bundled with all sorts of crap –even when Microsoft had similar programs in Windows– because the OEM had entered into monetary agreements with software publishers.
Ruhi has written a post that in my opinion is low on facts and high on emotions. She supports the EU ruling against Microsoft because of her dislike for Microsoft. It’s probably going to surprise her to know that once the EU is done with Microsoft (and I don’t think they’re going to be done any time soon. As mini msft remarks, “”I can’t see the EU dropping this bone while the meat is still sweet.”* What is going to happen now is that the EU is going to take a closer look at Office and Vista. We’ll probably see more versions of Windows in the future in Europe – ‘N’ version without the media player, ‘I’ version without the internet browser, ‘F’ version without the firewall and so on. Moreover, rivals such as Google and IBM will probably file more complaints against Microsoft just to keep EU’s eyes off of them.

By the way, a lot of people have drawn comparisons between Ma Bell and Microsoft. However, if you read the Wikipedia article on Ma Bell, you realize that their stories are as different as chalk and cheese or even an MBA and common sense.

<Note: After talking to my shrink, I decided to rewrite this article and remove most of the personal attacks. I also decided to refer to this anonymous blogger by her name. It’s healthier, my shrink says. :-)>

*He also compares Neelie Kroes to Dolores Umbridge, a Harry Potter character. I don’t know much about this character but the Wikipedia entry on her says she is one of the villians.

UPDATE: Ruhi is under the impression that I do not think she knows the meaning of a “monopoly”.  I didn’t say that. I would assume that she knows (or at least I hope she knows) the meaning of the word. The fact is her post seems to imply that Microsoft achieved a monopoly for its “crappy products” illegally, when in fact, that is not true. Comparing Microsoft to WalMart is also naive and shows a lack of understanding of how businesses work but I won’t get into that.

The EC accuses Microsoft of monopoly abuse because the market share of Windows Server has gone up during recent times. Can it just be because it’s a better product? Naah. It’s Microsoft. Also, the point that the EC makes about bundling is also debatable, as I mentioned earlier in this post. 

By the way, I’m not the only one who thinks this ruling is not going to help consumers. The US DOJ released a statement against the verdict. I would comment on her blog but my comments keep getting deleted for some reason.

Oh, and before I end this, Ruhi get’s one thing right: my biggest regret i life is not that I’m not on the MS payroll. 🙂

Crapware and Windows September 8, 2007

Posted by sk in Microsoft, windows.
2 comments

If crapware is ruining your Windows Vista experience, is Microsoft to blame? Well, I guess, sort of. After all, the operating system is the most noticeable part of your computing experience. Cheap parts, bad drivers, PCs loaded with crapware – nothing matters. If there’s a problem, it must be with Vista. I was reading a post where the writer talked about Microsoft advertising free games on the computer. The only problem — it’s not Microsoft that’s doing it but the PC manufacturer. Of course, you or I would know that but there are some ignorant people out there who don’t realize or understand it (such as the writer of that blog post). And again, I really don’t blame them. Is there no way to change things? Well, fortunately or unfortunately, Microsoft can no longer pressurize OEMs ever since the monopoly ruling. PC manufacturers, therefore, in an effort to save costs, fill up their computers with free trial versions of software.

One way out is to use a tool called PC decrapifier, which removes some of this crapware, but not all of it. Some OEMs are beginning to work on this and Dell recently introduced a line of crapware free computers (Vostro). My friend also got his XPS laptop without any of this crapware and he’s very happy with Vista Business. Most others haven’t caught up yet. Hopefully, as Apple’s marketshare continues to rise, more and more PC manufacturers will fall in line.

The other option is of course, is to switch – either to a Mac or to Linux.  Ubuntu Linux is a pretty good distro and offers some of the cool 3d animations and effects found in Vista and OS X. Moreover, it’s free and ad-free. With Macs, since Apple controls the hardware too, they load only trial versions of their own software. However, if you want a computer at bargain basement prices, like the blog author did, you have to live with crapware.

I’m not saying Vista is perfect. Like any new software, it has its share of problems. It’s still slower than XP (in my opinion) on equivalent hardware. Moreover, the wireless networking problems haven’t been fixed yet.  However, six months after I switched, I haven’t seen any reason to go back to XP. My experience with Vista has been pretty good so far. Hopefully SP1, which is due out in early 2008 will fix some of the problems.

OK. End of rant.

PC World – Is Apple the New Microsoft? September 7, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, iPhone, iPod, Microsoft.
4 comments

PC World – Is Apple the New Microsoft?

Don’t look now, but the role of the industry’s biggest bully is increasingly played by Apple, not Microsoft. Here’s a look at how Apple has shoved Microsoft aside as the company with the worst reputation as a monopolist, copycat and a bully.

Apple the monopolist

The core complaint about Microsoft in the 1990s was that its Windows market share gave it monopoly power, which it abused in multiple ways. Attorneys General and others zeroed in on the “bundling” of the Internet Explorer Web browser, which they claimed was forced on users because Microsoft offered it as part of Windows.

And “bundling” works. Steve Jobs bragged this week that Apple has distributed 600 million copies of iTunes to date. The overwhelming majority of those copies were iTunes for Windows. And iTunes for Windows’ popularity isn’t driven by software product quality. ITunes is the slowest, clunkiest, most nonintuitive application on my system. But I need it because I love my iPods.

I guess it has to do with success. The more successful a company gets, the more enemy it makes. On the other hand, Apple has a lot of friends too … those starry eyed fans (you know who I’m talking about). Which other company can take an ugly product like the new fatty Nano and turn it into a bestseller? (Of course, the iPod Touch looks awesome.)

Apple launches iPod touch and new fatty Nano September 6, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, Computers & Internet, iPhone, Microsoft.
1 comment so far

 

Another year, another iPod redesign. In my opinion, the iPod Touch is pretty cool and actually redeemed the keynote because the rest of the products were nothing to write home about. iPod Classic may be thin, but it’s also ugly. Same with the new redesigned Nano. With the iPhone, His Holiness, Jobs actually screwed early adopters. Of course, he gave them $100 back but that was a gift voucher. What can you get for $100 in an Apple store? A Shuffle or a keyboard. What can a Windows user get? A Shuffle. Obviously, this forces people to spend more money to buy a Nano or even a Mac. Smart marketing move. Of course, no other company would have got away this easy. Maybe the Reality Distortion Field hasn’t dampened yet.

Yup, the Zune is probably doomed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually liked it, even though I never bought one. I guess its days are numbered unless Microsoft can come up with something revolutionary when the v2 Zunes come out this fall. However, I think Microsoft should forget about the Zune and concentrate on the phone platform. The iPhone is a blessing in disguise for Microsoft. They’re obviously working on their own version of a touchscreen consumer phone OS. Thanks to the iPhone, more hardware vendors will be interested in partnering with MS now. Also, unlike the mp3 market, which was really in a nascent stage when Apple entered, the phone market has some huge OEMs and networks. If Microsoft plays its cards right, we could have a PC vs Mac type scenario once again. After all, Apple has a five year contract with At&T.

BTW, I was reading some comments about leaked Nano photos a few days ago (I think it was on Gizmodo). Most commenters felt the product was too ugly to have been designed by Apple. Yesterday, when it was confirmed that the leaked photos were indeed real, the general consensus changed. Suddenly the new Nano was HOT! Funny. 🙂

The i Word August 19, 2007

Posted by sk in Apple, Computers & Internet, iPhone, Microsoft.
16 comments

The word being iPhone (well, not a word but…). It’s been nothing short of a success so far for Apple and AT&T. Apple has probably sold a million of them already or at least close to a million. The lack of applications (that’s a feature rather than a weakness), the initial bug reports (hey, bugs are for Microsoft; with Apple, they’re called eccentricities), lack of GPS support (it has Google Maps, that’s more than enough), 3G,… hasn’t stopped people from buying it in hordes. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve checked out the device a couple of times at the local Apple store and it really is impressive – not something that I would personally pay $600 for but that’s another issue.

Frankly, I think this is a device that is capable of revolutionizing the cell phone industry. Microsoft, Nokia, Sony Ericsson all have something to learn from this. Don’t throw in hundreds of applications into the phone if you don’t provide users with an easy way to get to them. With the iPhone, the applications that you see in the main menu are all that you get and it looks . Like every other device designed by them, the first iteration is simple and lacks features. With subsequent iterations of the device, Apple will add more and more complexity without losing focus on their main goal – keeping the UI as simple and uncluttered as possible. I’m pretty sure the iPhone will cause Microsoft to either come up with a better design for Windows 7 or a new OS for casual users.

By the way, it looks like AT&T too is milking the device for all its worth. Blackberry Cool reports that AT&T has locked down “the GPS functionality in their upcoming BlackBerry 8820 so that the only functioning 3rd party software will be TeleNav.” Blorge also talks about a rumor that “the device’s WiFi will only be usable if you purchase an EDGE data plan to go along with it that was reported on Engadget.” Wow!

I’ve been enjoying playing around with my new Media Center PC. It features XP Media Center 2005. I will probably upgrade it to Vista Ultimate in a few months   – after SP1 comes out. I wonder why Microsoft never really advertised Media Center. Their stupid Vista ads focused on Flip3d. Who the fuck cares about an application switcher? Media Center has an amazing UI and has tons of features. It’s not only the Tivo like functionality where you can record, pause, and rewind live TV. You can also listen to FM radio and play songs, videos, photo slideshows on your hard drive. It also has an online spotlight which features material from MTV, NPR, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. Everything accessed with one remote control. Microsoft should change its marketing agency – really. They’re idiots.