Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Apple TV - Go And Buy One Now

On Sunday during our regular “go do something fun” time, Julian and I headed to the local Apple store with the notion of picking up an Apple TV.

I'd been previously toying with the idea of using Windows Media Center everywhere in the house for video, photos and music playback, but it's become increasingly apparent that the only way of doing this is to go and by more Xbox 360s for each location purely for the Media Center Extender functionality.

And there's no way in hell I'm doing that.

So, thought I, what about that new Apple TV thing? It's only $299 and basically acts like a Video iPod with a TV attached.

How wrong I was. It's way more than that.

So this evening I unboxed the incredibly sleek and sexy unit, plugged it into the TV, switched it on, typed in the wireless password (it's got built-in wireless), typed in the code it gave me to a copy of iTunes running on my PC, and viola! Instant gratification.

It just works.

Music, playlists, photos, podcasts and movies all playing on my main TV. It seems like as soon as the unit has synced the catalog of content, it'll stream the actual content across the wireless network while it's actually syncing the content, so you get to play very quickly - a great design decision as I'd have hated to wait for the sync to it's local disk to happen before I could muck around with it.

And did I mention video podcasts?

I subscribed to a bunch of them and they were available on the Apple TV very fast - I was watching Diggnation before you could say “Digg this”.

Plus, you get movie previews, etc… streaming from the internets.

Oh, and the UI is as sexy as all hell, in gorgeous HD 1080i wonderment.

In summary, if you use iTunes and have a TV, you must run, don't walk, to your nearest Apple store and buy one now.

You can thank me later.

Am I Turning Into A Curmudgeon?

After reading back over the past fews posts, I think I need to slap myself upside the head and tell me to lighten up!

Someone hand me the happy stick.

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Attribution Please, And Maybe A Link?

So I took some photos of the band Breadline, a local blues band, just over a year ago when they were performing at a local bar.

Nice guys, great music.

I offered to email them with links to the photos, which I did, and they asked if they could use the photos with appropriate attribution, which I was more than happy to agree to.

Now look at their site, compared to the photos that I took.

There's no link from the pictures to my source images and, to add insult to injury, absolutely no attribution at all. Anywhere.

Update: I'm blind. I'm named as a source for the photos at the bottom of the page, but a link sure would be nice… Ooops!

Apparently I'm An Old Fart

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg implies that I'm an old fart with no potential and that I wouldn't get hired there due to my age and, as of three days ago, my impending fourties…

Handily Matt Mullenweg, himself a mere whippernapper, is on the ball with his consistently thoughtful (and of course, beyond his years) analysis

I'm inclined to agree more with Mitch. Biasing your decisions based on something completely out of someone's control, specifically the year they were born, seems as likely to have correlation to talent and success in a company as gender, race, or anything else that everyone knows doesn't matter. It's not what you're born with, it's what you make of it.

Rock on, Matt. Now where's my zimmer frame?

Google Scalability Conference in Seattle

Google is hosting a conference on large scalable systems on June 23rd in our Seattle office. The call is out for participants.

We care a lot about scalability at Google. An algorithm that works only on a small scale doesn't cut it when we are talking global access, millions of people, millions of search queries. We think big and love to talk about big ideas, so we're planning our first ever conference on scalable systems. It will take place on June 23 at our Seattle office. Our goal: to create a collegial atmosphere for participants to brainstorm different ways to build the robust systems that can handle, literally, a world of information.

This looks like a lot of fun and I'll be going along.

We'll be providing the food :-)

I Love ParentHacks

Recently (i.e. it seems like forever), the boy has been testing my patience more and more - to the point that I just lose it and want to curl up in a ball because I can't react like a man would to another man winding him up in a similar fashion…

Along comes the wonderful ParentHacks with a link to Tips For Controlling Your Temper. Wonderful! Especially the link to 'The Problem' is the problem -- not the kid

When I have a problem that concerns one of my kids (meaning: When I want them to do something that they refuse to do), I see that I have a choice. I could visualize my child standing on the other side of a line, next to “The Problem”, with me yelling across the line, “Hey, you better solve ”The Problem.“ Instead, I get myself to stand next to my child, with ”The Problem“ alone on the other side of the line, with me putting an arm around my child, saying ”Hey, you and me, we're gonna defeat “The Problem” together." I find that this attitude seems to make my kids feel better about themselves. It minimizes/eliminates shame.

This approach is actually working well. I am so in debt to the ParentHacks folks that anytime they're in the Seattle area, beers are on me!

Man, I Suck

I can't think of anything interesting to say. Call it writer's block, call it brain stuck in writing C++ instead of english.

Well actually, I wish I'd been at GDC, it looks like Kim had fun.

So, in payment for my awful writing habits recently (and just for Karen), here's a picture of my daughter taken during my Mum's recent visit…


I Hate This Shit

The apparent “we have money, bow before us” dichotomy continues.

So, apparently there's an event in New England where Venture Capitalists go and ski and entrepreneurs can pitch to them if their lucky enough to be on the same ski lift.

The VCs wear one type of ski bib, and entrepreneurs wear another.

Happy times for the VCs, annoying times for the startup guys who must go but have no guaranteed face time - just the chance that they might.

Sure it means you've got to have your elevator pitch down pat, and there are some organised events with “best pitch on the slopes” type fun things.

Well, fun if your the VC.

Sweating buckets if you're the entrepreneur taking time away from building a product on the off-chance that you'll get face time on a chair-lift with the VC on a jolly.

Why don't those VCs take some constructive time like Rick Segal and Brad Feld and offer up valuable time for some no-harm, no-foul calls instead?

Without entrepreneurs, VC wouldn't have jobs. Show them a tad more respect.

Oh, and I don't Ski. Got time for me in the lodge bar?

Busy, Busy, Busy…

Warning, boring post time.

These days I just can't keep up with the feeds in my RSS aggregator. A few months ago (aka “before google”), I could pretty much get through everything every day and enjoy it.

A half hour here; a half hour there; an hour in the evening.

But these days I find myself skimming titles, going “next, next, next” with more frequency and sometimes just marking whole categories of feeds as read.

Do I feel bad about it? A little.

I'm reclaiming my time and unsubscribing from feeds of marginal value. My plan is to keep a steady state of around one hundred feeds…

Plus my job is just so damn fun and keeps me so damn busy that I have zero time during the day to slurp on the feeds.

Btw, did I mention that when we ship we're going to, ahem, rock your world in a “how on earth did I live without that” kinda way?

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Memeflow Gets Some Lockergnome Traffic

Thanks to Chris Pirillo linking to memeflow from his Pirillo's Picks, traffic jumped by 4000% yesterday. Of course, that isn't hard to do given the low usage of the site, but the normal 500 hits per day jumped to over 20,000 with an associated boost in membership of 25% to over 500!

A nice little ride for my unattended side project.

I shall christen it the “Pirillo Effect”.

Thanks Chris!

FSX Makes Its Debut In Bollywood

This is laugh-out-loud funny! Well, it is if you're a Flight Sim geek or the one partially responsible for the “what matters are the cool graphics” moments and married to someone who grew up having to endure Bollywood constantly playing in the house…

[Thanks to Susan for the link.]

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.