Marco.org • About ▾

I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

I find Mac OS X to be the least frustrating of the currently available options, but the buck certainly doesn’t stop there. We have miles and miles to go in terms of making computing better. I want my socks blown off, and I don’t care whether it’s Apple, Microsoft, Google, or the open source movement that does it, as long as someone does.

Steven Frank

Vimeo usually makes good policy decisions. But their complete prohibition of anything that can remotely be considered for commercial purposes, even with a paid Plus account, doesn’t strike me as particularly necessary. I really don’t see why this is the right move.

I need to find somewhere else to host the Instapaper demo video. (We should move the Tumblr v5 intro video, too. I hope we’re allowed to keep the Vimeo API integration…)

Where should I go? Well, YouTube has HD now… I just hate to go without all of the niceties that Vimeo offers, especially their excellent player interface and transcoding quality, because Instapaper Pro costs money and Tumblr is incorporated.

Should I just install the JW player and host the video directly in the most mediocre way possible, or is there somewhere else that’s good at hosting commercially-natured embeddable product-demo videos with a tastefully designed player?

Yes, he stole $65 billion from some already quite wealthy people. I know that’s upsetting to them because rich guys like Bernie are not supposed to be stealing from their own kind. Crime, thievery, looting — that’s what happens on the other side of town. The rules of the money game on Park Avenue and Wall Street are comprised of things like charging the public 29% credit card interest, tricking people into taking out a second mortgage they can’t afford, and concocting a student loan system that has graduates in hock for the next 20 years. Now that’s smart business! And it’s legal. That’s where Bernie went wrong — his scheming, his trickery was an outrage both because it was illegal and because he preyed on his side of the tracks. Had Mr. Madoff just followed the example of his fellow top one-percenters, there were many ways he could have legally multiplied his wealth many times over. Here’s how it’s done. First, threaten your workers that you’ll move their jobs offshore if they don’t agree to reduce their pay and benefits. Then move those jobs offshore. Then place that income on the shores of the Cayman Islands and pay no taxes. Don’t put the money back into your company. Put it into your pocket and the pockets of your shareholders. There! Done! Legal!

Michael Moore (via azspot, read the whole article)

Despite my years of occasionally encountering Apple laptops’ odd behaviors, getting stuck on “Finishing Charge…” is one I surprisingly haven’t seen before.

It’s better than another favorite menu-bar battery status message, “Not Charging”, which raises interesting philosophical questions and occasionally yields questions with funny titles.

Phoenix’s questionable photo-radar speeding tickets

Phoenix has set up photo-radar speed cameras all over their highways. This has not gone over well with Phoenix residents, but the politicians love them: they’re a giant money-maker for the state.

Here’s how it works. If you’re going 10 or more miles per hour over the speed limit when you pass a camera, you see two bright flashes as it takes two photos: one of you in the driver’s seat and one of your license plate. Then they mail you a ticket for about $200 that most people can’t reasonably contest. It costs the authorities almost nothing to issue a ticket, and they get a lot of money in exchange.

Like ticket quotas, it’s a wide-open invitation for corruption. Rather than promoting healthy enforcement of traffic laws, it encourages local governments to trick people into getting more citations.

As a visitor spending a weekend in Phoenix with a rental car, I hardly ever knew the speed limit on the highways. It seems to fluctuate frequently between 55 and 65 MPH. Since the cameras trigger at 10-over, which itself is an unreasonably low threshold for an automatic ticket, this is the only city I’ve ever heard of that frequently issues tickets for driving 65 MPH in a 55 MPH zone.

And I’ve never driven anywhere that had fewer speed-limit signs posted on the highways. I noticed that on my first drive before I even knew about the cameras. It’s almost entrapment.

Whether it’s intentional or not, what’s their encouragement to add more speed-limit signs? They probably make a lot of money from people driving 65-68 MPH who think they’re being perfectly safe and legal but are unknowingly in a limit-55 zone.

The incentives here are all wrong. I can see why the residents have major problems with this.

  1. That’s a required field.
  2. For a city with almost no natural water, they’re sure obsessed with it and seem to be in denial, proudly naming their airport “Sky Harbor”. They take this very seriously — the residents even call it Sky Harbor in casual conversation rather than “the airport”.

I got absolutely no work done.

What I told myself before the trip:

Nope. I hardly did anything. I think it was a combination of factors:

I never even took my laptop out on the plane rides. I played iPhone games, slept, and was infuriated by screaming infants. (Seriously, I’d gladly pay $50 extra for a flight with a minimum passenger age requirement of, say, three years old. Or maybe two. At what age can you be reasonably assured that most kids won’t scream and cry constantly for three hours? This one was young enough to be carried — and seated, I think — in one of those little chair things with a handle, which I assume means that the parents still probably express the kid’s age in months.)

Now it’s 2 AM, my body thinks it’s 11 PM, I can’t sleep, and I’m recovering from a day of bad airport food (except for our breakfast of natural, organic, extremely locally grown stolen fruit) and a long weekend of busy days with strange hours. There’s absolutely no chance I’m getting anything done until tomorrow.

Next time I travel, I’ll be a bit more honest with myself about my work expectations: I won’t get anything done, and I should just let go of productivity delusions and enjoy the trip.

How to fix iPhone restore error 2005 and maybe other restore failures

After my Genius encounter last week, I got a very nice email from a former Apple retail employee (who requested anonymity) describing a “firmware reset” procedure that, in all likelihood, is what the Genius actually did to fix the problem I was having, in which the phone wouldn’t boot and attempts to Restore from iTunes failed with error code 2005.

This is also called putting your iPhone in DFU mode, or Device Firmware Update mode.

How to do a firmware reset
Note: If this screws up your phone, it’s not my fault. This is unsupported and you may have to go to the Apple Store anyway. Perform this procedure at your own risk.

  1. Connect the iPhone to your computer and have iTunes open.
  2. Press and hold both the sleep/wake and the Home button until the screen goes black.
  3. Release the sleep/wake button but continue holding the Home button for about 20 seconds.
  4. After about 20 seconds, you should see your iPhone pop up in iTunes in recovery mode, asking for a restore. Your iPhone LCD should remain black. This is firmware reset mode.
  5. Restore it from iTunes normally.

“From my experience, it does take a couple of tries to get it into ‘firmware reset’ mode. I stress when the iPhone initially pops up in iTunes, the phone will still have a black screen. Only after you start the restore will the iPhone display anything in the LCD.”

And another note about the declining quality and standards for the “Geniuses”:

As a former (Mac) Genius (worked 2007-09) […] I can attest that most Geniuses including myself did not know jack about computers and the quality has gone way down. They key factor is cost. Geniuses were paid $50-65k back in the day […]. Now an average Genius gets paid about $30-35k. Yes there are certifications, and all geniuses are certified Apple technicians. However, the certifications have been Fisher Priced very much down. For example, to certify today, a Genius is not expected to be able to use or even open Terminal and run commands. […] Remember a Genius is a retail employee, and believe me from first-hand experience, I was treated like one.

It’s not a huge surprise that Apple’s retail stores have gone through the same shift as every other retail chain: first hiring knowledgeable staff and correspondingly providing great service, then slowly cutting costs (matching common practices by other retailers) by reducing salaries and hiring standards until the salespeople are much lower-skilled and provide mediocre service at best. It’s just sad that even Apple succumbed to it.

Anyway, thanks to this anonymous ex-Genius, I’ll probably save myself (and hopefully many others who find this post) a few trips to the Apple Store.

Cellular data speeds: New York vs. Phoenix

Cellular data speeds in New York really are slower than other metro areas in the country (as Kevin points out).

I benchmarked an iPhone 3G (with full signal strength) and a Verizon UM175 (EVDO Rev. A) on my laptop. I tested with this app [iTunes] for the iPhone and this site on the laptop.

New York
iPhone 3G: 342/104
Verizon EVDO: 1106/485

Phoenix
iPhone 3G: 905/80
Verizon EVDO: 1987/489

(Speeds are measured in kilobits per second, down/up.)

Best guess for an explanation: Congestion on the New York infrastructure destroys any chances of high speeds most of the time.

Another great coffee roaster in Phoenix: Matador (here). It’s almost as good as Cave Creek Coffee Company and is much more conveniently located for most people in the area.

Brooklyn Time Warner cable-internet users:

Do the premium speed tiers (15M/768k or 20M/1M) truly deliver that bandwidth, or is it crappy like Westchester’s Cablevision where it drops to 1-4M in peak evening hours?

Afghanistan’s only known pig has been quarantined because of fears over swine flu.

Quarantine for lonely Afghan pig (via Terry Blakey)

There’s probably a better way to approach that.

Dear Twitter:

Planned maintenance is fine. But when an API application requests JSON-encoded data from a JSON URL, it is not OK to return an HTTP 200 status code and an HTML response.

Serious weekend business.

What happened to Microsoft?

Steve Jobs quoted this BusinessWeek story in a keynote a few years ago:

Vista, the latest version of the software giant’s Windows operating system, looks like it could turn out to be one of the great missteps in tech history.

But this is the wrong way to interpret Microsoft’s marketshare and mindshare losses to Apple since Windows XP’s release in 2001.

Vista, itself, wasn’t a misstep. Microsoft must keep updating Windows regularly to remain competitive and preserve revenue. It had problems and delays, but the concept was solid and is still defensible even in hindsight.

In 2003, Joel mentioned Microsoft’s impeccable strategy relative to the failed software giants of the 90s such as Lotus, VisiCorp, and Micropro:

Microsoft was the only company on the list that never made a fatal, stupid mistake. Whether this was by dint of superior brainpower or just dumb luck, the biggest mistake Microsoft made was the dancing paperclip. And how bad was that, really? We ridiculed them, shut it off, and went back to using Word, Excel, Outlook, and Internet Explorer every minute of every day. But for every other software company that once had market leadership and saw it go down the drain, you can point to one or two giant blunders that steered the boat into an iceberg.

I think it’s safe to say that Microsoft is hurting now. They’re probably not going out of business in our lifetimes, and they’ll likely continue to dominate many markets for at least another decade or two. But a major shift has occurred between 2001 and today that’s causing some big problems for Microsoft:

As far as I can tell, none of these are Vista’s fault, specifically. Vista is just a logical continuation of Microsoft’s style and culture. Die-hard Windows fans like it.

The bigger problem is that Microsoft isn’t very good, and I mean that in a big way. I was too young to appreciate their word-processor and spreadsheet battles of the very early 90s, but that’s what Joel typically cites as an example of Microsoft’s excellent strategy and their production of high-quality software. They may have been great back then, but that’s not the Microsoft we know today.

Today’s Microsoft is impulsive and sloppy. It has become massive and complex with too many layers of management, committees, and bureaucracy to produce anything great — the best they can hope for is good, and even that’s rare. Their products are weakly anticipated and receive mediocre reviews. Most importantly, they’re unable to grow their positions in the technology industry’s biggest new markets as their old markets slowly erode. Top leadership seems to have no strategy or direction for the company, and there’s no sign of any problems being meaningfully solved in the foreseeable future.

After Internet Explorer 6’s release in 2001, when Microsoft had crushed all competing browsers, they rested on their laurels for too long. Now, Firefox and Safari are eating their lunch. Microsoft finally scrambled to release IE 7 and 8, but they delivered too little, too late — Internet Explorer’s marketshare will probably dip below 50% within three years. (I’ll bet Jeff Atwood a beer on that.)

This pattern didn’t just happen in web browsers: it applies to the entire company over a longer interval. After effectively destroying most of the competition by the mid-90s, Microsoft got lazy. But then the internet exploded, and Microsoft wasn’t part of it. Soon afterward, Apple got their act together. Linux became a popular server platform. Google dominated web search, advertising, and applications. Microsoft’s being assaulted on nearly every front by companies that are producing much better products, and they can’t catch up.

None of this is Vista’s fault.

Vista has no major failures. Rather, it’s an immense collection of tiny failures: awkward interfaces, hostile behavior, ugly design, and tons of small bugs. They’re the same of tiny failures that plague all of Microsoft’s modern products, which is why I have absolutely no doubt that Windows 7 will suffer the same fate.

Microsoft’s woes aren’t specific failures of strategy or execution: the company culture, structure, inertia, and ethos are so deeply flawed that it can’t recover. Microsoft can never do what Apple and Google are doing today. It’s too broken. Insert your Titanic metaphor of choice.

Joel paraphrased Bill Gates in 2000:

One of the most important things that made Microsoft successful was Bill Gates’ devotion to hiring the best people. If you hire all A people, he said, they’ll also hire A people. But if you hire B people, they’ll hire the C people and then it’s all over.

Bill Gates is a very smart guy — he’s fully aware of the problems that his company now exhibits. Maybe he semi-retired (or whatever he did) because he saw that it’s all over long before we will.

The corollary to this “A People” theory is one my boss envisioned: The Corporate Concentric Asshole Theory. In it, the guy at the very top of the company, through his hirings, eventually hires an asshole. … That asshole, knowing that he’s an asshole, but not wanting to appear as such, hires a bigger asshole. That asshole, probably unaware of his assholishness, hires an even bigger asshole, most likely because he likes the cut of his jib, or “reminds him of when he was younger”. And so it goes.

Eventually, the A guy cashes in and retires, and the company is left with nothing but assholes who haven’t a clue about anything but getting their asshole cleaned.

Culbreath

This is so much better than the snowman.

RSS feed for Wikipedia’s daily Featured Articles

I can’t believe I had to build this. Nobody else had done it the way I wanted it.

The feed’s direct RSS link. (If you’re not a geek, that might be a confusing link. Sorry.)

How this differs from the other Wikipedia Featured Articles feeds:

This feed uses those summaries (text only) as the item descriptions, but links to the complete, original article as the item URLs.

For example, today’s item:

There are four-foot-long stingrays down by the Rockaways and off Coney Island, and they’re hard to see when they’re flat against the bottom. A diver will be going about his business when he encounters a section of mud the size of a coffee table that suddenly—zooomp!—up and swims away.

Uncovering the Secrets Beneath the Surface of the New York Harbor

One of the many tiny reasons why I keep using Firefox, despite Safari being much more Mac-like and much nicer in a few key ways, is the impeccable state-saving and Undo Close Tab (⇧⌘T).

I disliked the “Awesome Bar” at first, but now I’ve become addicted to its URL substring matching for autocomplete: for example, to go to the Tumblr Dashboard, I just type “dash” (autocompletes to http://www.tumblr.com/dashboard based on the substring match), down, Enter. In Safari, I’d have to type “tumblr.com/d” at minimum, and I’ve never quite been able to reliably use Safari’s autocomplete without frequent accidents.

Other reasons include XML pretty-printing (which even IE6 did, yet Safari still doesn’t) and other friendly web developer tools that, despite the recent improvements, Safari still doesn’t fully match in a few key ways that are important to me.

And it drives me crazy, because Firefox really isn’t particularly amazing. It has tons of bugs, interface quirks, and shortcomings. They’re just not bad enough for me to go without the features I use that Safari doesn’t have.

I get the most interesting email. (This is likely a response to this 2005 article, sent from an Apple Store.)

Allison Weiss rocked last night. Why don’t you have her music yet? (Amazon MP3, iTunes. This album’s even free.)

For newcomers, I suggest starting with An Eight Song Tribute To Feeling Bad & Feeling Better. (Just go for it. You’ve probably risked more than that album’s price on a sandwich that wasn’t nearly as good as this.)

Technical notes from last night’s photos

  1. I did not plan my lens ahead of time, so I had to use the fastest one I had with me: the macro. This was decent, but not ideal, since apparently music is played in cool-people places, and light is not a common feature of cool places. I really should have brought the 85.
  2. Nearly every photo was shot at ISO 6400 and I could still barely maintain a fast enough shutter (usually 1/40-1/60). I had to wait for the slower songs in which Allison didn’t move as quickly.
  3. Noise Ninja is awesome and made these photos presentable.

See the other photos here.

I enjoy sharing technical details because I’m still relatively new to most of this, and I wish others would share more technical knowledge. A lot of people can tell you about better composition and other artistic merits, but very few tell you that your photos are too red or that you should use the lowest ISO sensitivity that you can get away with or that the Thrifty Fifty has a terrible focus motor or that many lenses aren’t very sharp at their widest apertures even if you nail the focus.

Christopher distinguished himself by consistently working at roughly half his capacity, which fortunately for us is more than enough considering the output of the vast majority of our other employees. His ability to provide adequate, mostly functional web applications at the last possible minute, leaving no time for feedback or changes, was a hallmark of his working style. Christopher is highly intelligent and has good analytical and communication skills, which he frequently utilizes to avoid work, and/or limit the amount of work he has to do. These talents combined resulted in a long, largely uneventful, somewhat productive 15 year run at [company].

Topherchris’ actual recommendation letter from his previous boss to Tumblr.

Sounds like all of the personality traits of the best programmers. All good programmers are lazy, avoiding tedious and boring work at all costs. That’s what makes them good: that’s a valuable skill in programming, in which you’ll benefit highly from automating repetitive tasks and avoiding large amounts of work that seem necessary at first but probably aren’t. (“I don’t like the way someone else wrote this perfectly working class, but I have to add a feature to it… let’s rewrite it from scratch using my favorite new buzzwords!”)

Cablevision.com: “Yes, we serve 11215!”
Cablevision: “No, we don’t serve 11215.”

TimeWarner.com: “We can’t let you proceed with anything useful because someone else recently lived at your new address. Fill out this form and someone will call you!”
[sound of crickets for a week, no phone call]
TimeWarner.com: “We’ll bury the phone number so you can’t easily call us, but here, use this phone-gateway Javascript thing to coordinate the call so you don’t learn our actual number but we learn yours!”
[phone-gateway Javascript thing maintains terrible sound quality and frequent dropouts, then disconnects in the middle of my order]

I love cable companies.

Here’s where this insulting, degrading video to real geeks went wrong.

While some people in it are really geeks, most aren’t, and the inclusion of some is baffling. Being a popular user of a “new media” site, or being a “new media” celebrity, doesn’t make you a geek. There’s absolutely no connection whatsoever. This video tarnishes true geek culture with new-media celebrities because — surprise — it was made by new-media people, many of whom try to be cool by saying that they’re geeks (which, in addition to being far from the truth, is guaranteed to insult and frustrate actual geeks).

Being a good user of computers and internet-based services stopped being a geek-exclusive behavior a very long time ago. Geek culture isn’t something that a Twitter celebrity suddenly enters because Twitter was written by programmers and runs on servers.

I could rant about this for much longer, but anyone who can tolerate my tumblelog for more than a few sentences is much more likely to be a geek than half of the people in this video, so I’m preaching to the choir.

What that they don’t understand, maybe, is that being a real geek is a very bad thing for a lot of people. Geeks generally had a pretty rough time in school, socially, and rarely have much romantic success during the first portion (if not the entirety) of their lives. Many have crippling social or psychological problems that severely limit their ability to interact with others or work on any sort of team.

Sure, some geeks eventually make something of themselves with knowledge and passions, but many can never overcome their social problems enough to succeed in any field. Many, while they may like geeky things with associated careers (e.g. programming, math, science), aren’t actually very good at them. Many geeky people just don’t have any strong interests in the job-relevant areas — and the job market’s pretty small for experienced LARPers, fanfiction authors, and Trekkers. And many others are socially treated like geeks but don’t have the associated knowledge or passions — they just had some other social problem that caused them a lot of trouble in school, such as disorders, disfigurements, unattractiveness, or poverty.

For a clear non-geek to start saying they’re a geek for commerical benefit or trend appeal, it cheapens and minimizes the problems and pains that real geeks go through. It’s disrespectful at best.

Imagine the outrage if hip white people started wearing blackface and calling themselves the N-word because it was trendy. This isn’t anywhere near the same magnitude of offensiveness, of course. But it hits on the same sort of nerves: the “you don’t understand what we’ve gone through” sentiment, as if all of the trials and tribulations of a group of people with a rough past can be summarized by a few stereotypes and appropriated for its commercial or social value by people who never went through any of the same difficulties.

This sentiment is exacerbated by the continued problems and oppression of true geeks. Geeks haven’t gone away, and they haven’t become cool. People haven’t stopped being cruel to them, and they haven’t magically overcome their problems. Most of the people in that video would never give an actual geek the time of day.

A bunch of people incorrectly suggesting that they’ve suffered the same fate as a continually repressed group — repressed, sometimes, by the kind of people in this video — is offensive at best, and it degrades the reality of being a geek, the worst of which these people (with a small number of exceptions) will never experience or understand.

(Also, this.)

FlightControl looks fun and people keep talking about it, but 99¢ seems a little expensive. How about a free version that isn’t a ripoff?

@helplesstwat, still my favorite Twitter gimmick

I appreciate Apple’s recent reasonable RAM pricing, but this is a bit ridiculous for hard drives.

For reference, these are the best drives on the market right now in these sizes, and since there aren’t a lot of 640 GB drives and Apple frequently uses Western Digitals, these are likely the exact same drives they’re selling:

Tip: It’s easy to buy hard drives from Newegg and install them in a Mac Pro yourself.

Spot the Tiff camouflaged in her box habitat.

Post-move

Priorities.

I had an empty apartment. I had to.

(The original is by Diana Walker, and this remake was shot by Tiff.)

I’m a guy who doesn’t see anything good having come from the Internet. Period. [the Internet has] created this notion that anyone can have whatever they want at any given time. It’s as if the stores on Madison Avenue were open 24 hours a day. They feel entitled. They say, ‘Give it to me now,’ and if you don’t give it to them for free, they’ll steal it.

Michael Lynton, CEO Sony Pictures Entertainment (via tedr, kenyatta)

He’s implying a false dichotomy: either internet distribution of films cannot be possible, or everyone will download everything illegally without paying.

Obviously, this doesn’t reflect reality. The third option is for the major publishers to address the demand for internet distribution and PC-compatible formats by building online content stores and establishing distribution relationships.

The music industry had a rough start with the internet, but now it’s returning to solid footing: the legal, profitable ways to sell music to consumers on the internet (iTunes, Amazon MP3, etc.) are more attractive than piracy for most people.

But the movie and television industries are lagging far behind.

It isn’t that difficult to be more attractive than piracy. Pirating movies and TV shows is unreliable and time-consuming. You have to find what you want on a BitTorrent tracker or a filesharing network, then you have to download it (which is usually much slower than downloading from the legal stores), then you might need to un-RAR it from 45 parts, then it has a badly formatted, often unreadable filename, then you finally get to watch it (if you don’t hit codec or container-format problems), then the quality is mediocre or the audio is slightly out of sync or it was badly deinterlaced or it’s anamorphic or it has TV-network overlays and promos and weather alerts splattered all over it or the audio is overdubbed in Russian with burned-in Spanish subtitles.

Yet, the movie and TV publishers are stuck where the music industry was sitting four years ago. Consumer demand for internet distribution is very high, and many computers and portable devices are capable of playing internet-delivered video content and common file formats. There are very few legal download options, and the few that exist are burdened with such restrictive DRM that the product is inflexible, limited, consumer-hostile, and unattractive to most pirates.

The video publishers only need to follow the music industry’s lead in taming internet piracy: make a better product.

They’re almost there. iTunes movies and TV shows are quick and convenient to find and buy, especially for Apple TV owners. Xbox 360 owners get the Live video store, which is similarly convenient. Pricing is slightly high, but not fatal. Download speeds absolutely fly, usually maxing out your internet connection. Video quality is acceptable at the standard level and very good at the “HD” level, and there are hardly ever any quality, sync, or metadata problems with the files. TV shows are better than watching on TV because there are no commercials, and movies are better than watching on DVD because there are no FBI warnings or legal disclaimers or forced previews or bad menus or animation delays or P-UOPs.

The next step is very simple: Drop the DRM. All of it, except where necessary for the definition of the product (the only good example I can think of here is a rental, which needs to be able to expire).

The music industry finally dropped their DRM, and look: nothing bad happened. Quite the opposite, actually: they’re achieving record-high sales. Music piracy didn’t skyrocket, because DRM wasn’t stopping pirates.

The record industry finally killed mainstream music piracy by offering a better product. It’s the movie and television industries’ turn. And any delay or failure along the way is entirely their fault — not the internet’s, not the pirates’, and not ours.

Somebody just left this as a voicemail message with “Restricted” caller ID.

Internet connection: installed. The upstream could use some help, but damn that’s nice on the way down.

Oh, that was just on a weekday morning when nobody else is using it.

This is what happens when I try a few big downloads during peak evening hours. This is Time Warner’s premium, second-tier 15 Mbps plan in Park Slope. I guess I can call them and have them downgrade my plan to the base 10 Mbps option if I can’t even reliably approach that.

Naturally, there’s no competition, except Verizon DSL — except their highest speed is 1.5M/384k. FiOS is, as usual, not available here. Are there any other options that I’m missing?

Responses to answers: (thanks so far!) Cablevision, RCN, and Speakeasy DSL are all not available here. The graph was generated with my pfSense router. I can’t find a WiMAX provider in the area (11215) — know of any?

Whoever invented WiFi clearly didn’t live in a long skinny apartment with thick brick walls.

I’m not a big fan of WiFi for stuff in a home or business that’s important and tends to stay in one place. By my standards, if an Ethernet wire can practically go to something, it should, even if the device is capable of connecting via WiFi. There are only a few exceptions, such as couch-laptop use. But Apple TVs, Xboxes, printers, desktop computers, and desk-bound laptops should be wired. This results in a much more reliable, secure, simple, and fast network than WiFi no matter how many antennae you attach or how far the letter after “802.11” progresses in the alphabet.

WiFi performs very poorly in our new apartment, barely sustaining file transfers without stalling, and only managing about 2-10 Mbps even in the best conditions. The Apple TV can’t stream HD shows in real time, and the 360’s instant-Netflix will be nearly useless.

But we have a bit of a layout problem for wired Ethernet. For the first time ever, our TV-area devices are very far away from our computers — too far, and across too many doorways, windows, and fancy walls, to reasonably run a wire.

But I’m going to do it anyway.

See this wire? That’s a coaxial cable that connects the same two areas of the apartment. Its insane run spans 18 wall segments, 3 windows, and 3 doors — and the doors and windows are 8 feet high with big antique crown molding that I shouldn’t touch. The wire has been painted to match the walls and meticulously stapled down along the run to be as inconspicuous as possible. The entire run is about 125 feet.

And I’m going to run mine right alongside it.

I ordered a white, 150-foot Cat6 cable from my favorite network-cable vendor, Kalron, and picked up a bunch of those little white clamp-staples from a hardware store. I’m hoping the landlord will be able to help me match the paint color so I can paint the wire to match the walls, just like the coax. (I’m also hoping they don’t hate this idea.)

Screw WiFi. I’m getting my fast, reliable Gigabit network back.

There’s a Wikipedia article.

I may have bought myself an office-warming present tonight.

Starting this July, the first iPhone developers from last year will start having their iPhone Developer Program memberships expire. A developer cannot submit updates after the membership has expired, but presumably the app would be removed from the App Store as well. (I’m not sure if anyone actually knows whether that’s the case.)

This is actually a good mechanism: it’s an automatic removal of abandoned apps. It will probably help remove a lot of the gold-rush crapware, but a few legitimately good apps might disappear as well if the developer either forgot to renew the membership or no longer felt that it was worthwhile. Users of removed apps can continue using them, but they can never gain any new users, effectively forcing the apps’ death.

I wonder how many apps will disappear before September.

This might be the shittiest and most outrageous App Store rejection to date, and that’s saying something.

John Gruber on the rejection of Eucalyptus, an ebook reader that can download content from Project Gutenberg, because the reviewer was able to search for and download the Kama Sutra.

I couldn’t quite come up with the words to express my feeling on this yet. I like John’s.

The App Store is so infuriating, developer-hostile, overly complex, and needlessly obtuse that it’s an embarrassment to Apple and all of the developers caught up in its ecosystem.

We’re making them a ton of money. Remember how Ethan Nichols has made over $800,000 (probably a lot more by now) from iShoot? For every $1,000,000 earned by developers, Apple earns $428,571. And that’s not even counting the ripple effects of selling more iPhone OS devices.

It’s time for them to start treating us like the business associates that we are.

And the status quo couldn’t be further from that.

Eating less meat

I’ve made a dramatic shift in my diet over the last few weeks: eating almost no meat. (update: thoughts on fish.)

There are plenty of good reasons not to eat meat, including:

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food makes a great argument for low-meat diets. (You should really read it regardless of your thoughts on meat. Do you eat? Then it’s relevant to you.)

Wait, so are you a vegetarian now?

No.

I’m not big on all-or-nothing obsessiveness. I’m not a recovering hamburger addict who will sink back into meat abuse if I ever have another taste again. All things in moderation.

The problem isn’t eating animals. It’s a lot of people eating a lot of animals. If demand was reduced to 25% or less of its current level, we’d see massive environmental and health improvements. Humane animal treatment is trickier, since you’re still killing and eating them, but it could be improved if less meat was needed and it could command a higher price. For instance, actual free-range (not the bullshit kind) and grass-fed animals would become more practical.

A few weeks ago, I decided to significantly reduce my meat consumption. To start, I went all-vegetarian for one week to force myself to broaden my horizons a bit (especially for office lunches) and try new non-meat options. It worked, and was much easier than I expected.

Now, I’ve lowered my overall meat consumption to approximately these levels that I intend to maintain:

With such a severe reduction, I’ll achieve most of the benefits of vegetarianism, but without many of the inconveniences. It’s still ridiculously easy to get good meals at restaurants or while traveling. I don’t even like tofu or giant mushrooms, and it’s still much easier than I expected to avoid meat most of the time and still eat healthy, satisfying, widely available meals.

Try it.

If a lot of people made this change, we could make a big difference on many important fronts.

Do the vegetarian week, then see how little meat you really need to eat. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy and practical it is.

I didn’t address fish because I don’t really like it, and eat almost none of it anyway.

I don’t know much about industrialized fish production, but the little I’ve heard sounds like it’s really not much better than land-animal production. It’s generally healthier than meat, at least.

Moderation is still important — I think it would be self-defeating to stop eating cows and chickens and pigs for ethical and environmental reasons, only to eat fish twice a day as a replacement.

Brushing up on my XSL. It’s been too long and I’ve gotten rusty.

What? How do you spend your Fridays?

Upstate for the weekend, enjoying the local produce.

All ready… but nowhere to go.

There’s a minor snag in the submission process: Since my last submission was for a version called “1.4”, Apple won’t let me submit something else called “2.0” — my only option in the iTunes Connect interface is to resubmit a new binary that, if approved, would be published as 1.4.

I filled out their support form, hoping that someone there can manually edit that or delete the 1.4 submission altogether. I don’t have high hopes, though: I’ve never received a response from Apple Developer Support on anything. Ever. I’ve made them a decent amount of money in commissions, plus paid them $200 in membership fees, and they repeatedly ignore my (very few, very reasonable) requests for anything.

Please, Apple: Prove me wrong this time. Actually be helpful. Given how much money developers are making you, and how we’re all contributing to the strength of the iPhone platform (and giving you great lock-in against new competitors), it’s the least you can do.

What does it say about your developer program when I need to be this pessimistic and beg you for a response, given my terrible experiences in the past?

It’s easy to attack California for upholding Proposition 8 today. But how’s your state helping on that front? Unless you live in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, or Maine, your state’s just as guilty of keeping up this ridiculous bigotry.

Two weeks ago, the New York Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill, but it won’t become law until (and unless) the state Senate passes it as well, and it’s not incredibly clear whether that will happen.

But opponents said they will continue to fight against the bill in the Senate. Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, is organizing a rally of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization outside Paterson’s Manhattan offices on Sunday to oppose same-sex marriage.

Other opponents said they think the national movement toward same-sex marriage won’t last, including in New York.

“I think the tide is about to turn on same-sex marriage across the country,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, legislative director for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. “We are going to see that the redefinition of the family is stopped in its tracks.”

Let me be clear, for anyone who’s still in denial about this: Being gay is fine and gay marriage will soon be legal in most of the country. Maybe not within the next few years, but almost certainly within a decade.

Ask your grandparents what they thought and said about black people when they were teenagers. Or what their parents thought and said about women. Pay attention to how sad, offensive, and culturally backwards these things sound now. (Most still-living members of these generations now regret the bigotry common in their younger times and see how terrible it was.)

This will be the cultural acceptance movement of our generation. Having been on the wrong side of this won’t look very good in retrospect.

Tiff:

My perfect evening.

I used to have a Kindle.

Phish - Time Turns Elastic, a brand new studio single. (13:30)

It’s decent. As the first iTunes review says, “Not groundbreaking but not without promise.” Some of their newer songs from the recent live shows, like Backwards Down The Number Line, are revealing some new directions and the likely style for their next album, and I like where they’re going.

(Forgive the mediocre audio quality — I compressed the 13-minute song to fit into 10 MB, so it’s only 103 kbps ABR.)

Read the explanation.

Every part of this, down to the signature, amuses me.

Very few people will get this.

How many of you now have that stuck in your head or have begun listening to one of their albums? (Try the 2005 one if you haven’t yet. It’s good.)

Apple came through! Thanks, whoever had any part in making this happen.

So tonight I resubmitted the real 2.0, as 2.0, for real. I’ll modify my approval estimate to the morning of next Friday, June 5.

Every time I use 2.0 on my iPhone, I’m immensely happy with it. I originally made Instapaper to solve my own need, and it was a happy coincidence that I wasn’t the only one with that need. Now, with 2.0, I’ve taken this to the next level: it’s now an even better product, and it’s exactly where I want it to be right now. I’ve made a product that I love, and I hope you will, too. I’m sorry if this sounds arrogant, but that’s not my intent: I’m just very happy with this product, and immensely proud that I’ve finally finished it.

(Of course, I have more planned for the future, but this is a huge step forward — the biggest step in Instapaper’s history since offline reading.)

Tiff actually let me buy this sign to hang in our new kitchen.

Via This Is Why You’re Fat: “Domino’s Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese Pasta Bread Bowl.”

After the initial sheer terror, I’ve come to be slightly amused by the differences from its official menu photo and the apparent absence of its nutritional information from Dominos’ site.

I find this noteworthy because, unlike most featured foods on This Is Why You’re Fat, this is a heavily promoted entree by a major U.S. food chain available nearly everywhere that average people would assume to be reasonable to order.

Tiff:

I didn’t kill him. Damn it Brooklyn, the suburbs do not have spiders like this.

Crazy spiders invade our bathroom window when I’m at work. (Update: Identified. Probably harmless, but probably not someone’s pet.)

After today’s previous disgusting and horrifying images, this seemed like a nice closer.

Strange Brew is on Netflix-on-demand. Sorry about the loss of your next 90 minutes, you hoser.

150 feet of Cat6. 100 quarter-inch coax staples. A lot more time than I expected. But completely worth it.

The wire is done, and now I have my awesome all-Gigabit network back. Now we can actually use the Apple TV and Xbox 360 without hoping to eke 1 Mbps out of the weak wireless signal.

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