Daniel Eran Dilger
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Apple TV Promises to Take 2008

Apple TV 2008
Daniel Eran Dilger
While 2007 was the Year of the iPhone, 2008 appears to be set as the Year of Apple TV. After languishing for a year with weak sales, derisive media scoffing, and an official designation as a “hobby” for Apple, the product’s newly unveiled software upgrade has already kick started sales, even prior to the new “take two” software being released.

As one Apple Store employee observed a day after Macworld ended, “Apple TV is crackin. We went from selling one a week to one or two an hour.”


The Humble Placeholder.
Apple first announced its plans to deliver a living room set top box in the fall of 2006, shortly before the unveiling of the iPhone. That unusual prerelease preview was clearly made in order to create a bump of attention that would fade just in time for its fated overshadowing by the climate changing, meteoric impact of the iPhone’s release.

Once the iPhone hit, nobody had much reason to talk about Apple TV. That was fine because in 2007, Apple wasn’t big enough to manage more than the three huge hits on its plate: iTunes and iPods, Leopard and the Macintosh, and the new iPhone. Apple TV was a side dish sharing the spotlight of iTunes, and was commonly described as “an iPod for your TV.”

That didn’t exactly cause a rush of consumer attention, because everything Apple TV could do was pretty much possible using a long DVI cable, for anyone who has a Mac within close range of their TV. Given the popularity of MacBooks, it’s simply not that hard to play iTunes movies on TV, and unlike Apple TV, a Mac of any type can also play DVDs.

Why Apple TV?
Why pay $299 for a box that can only sync with iTunes? Most early Apple TV buyers were enamored with its slick ability to display photos effortlessly and serve as a playback repository for ripped DVDs, but ripping a DVD takes a lot of time and is still somewhat legally questionable. Outside of those users, finding a reason to buy Apple TV was more difficult.

Pundits demanded that the Apple TV play DVDs and HD discs, and act like a DVR for straining content from cable feeds. That wasn’t at all what Apple had in mind for Apple TV, however. A more intelligent minority suggested that Apple TV should act more like iTunes itself, allowing users to buy music and movies directly from their TV. I originally argued against this, noting that it’s simply much easier to search and shop for content from the rich iTunes interface, and that trying to duplicate that on a TV display would be difficult to do.

It turned out that I was wrong. I first realized this when Apple delivered the WiFi store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Rather than cramming the full iTunes interface into the small display, Apple put together a custom client for the iTunes Store that was graphical and intuitive and a perfect fit for a mobile device. The WiFi Store not only made shopping easy, but also integrated into iTunes so that purchases could flow from the mobile to any central iTunes desktop library connected to the same account. Once it was released, the obviousness of creating the same thing for Apple TV was evident.

Curious Stuff About the New iPods
Something in the Air: Anticipating Macworld 2008
Windows XP Media Center Edition vs Apple TV

Apple TV Take 2.0.
I’m happy to admit that my initial expectation for the pace of Apple TV development was too conservative. In a single year, Apple TV has jumped from a placeholder product designed to serve as an alternative to manually cabling your laptop to your TV into a full fledged, self contained media computer for watching and ordering Internet content.

Apple’s overview of the device’s new ability to preview and order any existing iTunes paid content (music, music videos, TV shows, and movies), as well as new HD movie rentals and a new and improved interface for bringing up free YouTube videos, Flickr and .Mac Web Galleries photos, and podcast content streamed directly from the podcasters’ servers is big, really big.

When I recommended that Apple plug into alternative networks and allow broadcasters to pump their programming through Apple TV, it didn’t immediately occur to me that all the pieces to do this were already in place. Apple already maintains a huge selection of podcasts, all organized and tagged and rated and commented upon by users. Anyone can podcast.

Podcast Prowess Plus.
Apple doesn’t archive, manage, or broadcast the podcasts listed within iTunes; it simply hosts the RSS feeds of those programs. When you select and watch a podcast from iTunes (or from the new Apple TV software), you’re watching it directly from the server of those hosting the program. That means podcasters can broadcast HD content, line up their own ad supported revenue models, and begin broadcasting simply by giving Apple a simple RSS feed.

That also means Apple has no proprietary lock on podcast content. Apple’s contribution has been to encourage the development of standards-based content publishing: MP3 or AAC audio, and H.264 video. Any modern device and software running on any platform can download and play back the free, open content delivered for podcasts. Apple is competing in an open race on a level playing field, competing on the merits of its own ability to deliver smart, convenient software and competitive, compelling hardware.

What Apple has helped to cultivate in podcasting is a worldwide, decentralized, uncensored medium that allows any group with news, entertainment, or a information a way to reach millions of viewers without massive investment and without having to build and maintain a distribution network or court the favor of a broadcasting network that already has.

Apple TV Take Two appears to be among the best ways to watch podcast segments, but it also offers commercial music, TV, and movie downloads, movie rentals, and local and Internet photo viewing. That means while anyone can copy Apple’s podcast prowess, to compete with Apple TV, they’ll also have to figure out how to match the sophistication of iTunes and the desktop and web-service savvy that Apple has been developing over the last several years. Given the flaccid competition to the iPod and iTunes in general, Apple’s position on HDTV integration looks pretty secure.

That means Apple is currently the best shot at deploying this wide open pipe, and consumers who are attracted to movie rentals and pop music downloads will unwittingly open themselves to a wide open font of information with the capacity to broaden their perspective and outlook on the world around them.

Five Ways Apple Will Change TV: 1
Five Ways Apple Will Change TV: 2
Five Ways Apple Will Change TV: 3
Five Ways Apple Will Change TV: 4
Five Ways Apple Will Change TV: 5

Why No Composite Video?
Apple TV observers learned last year that the hardware has the native ability to deliver composite video output for use with older TV sets. There wasn’t any obvious reason for Apple to turn this off by default in the existing software. Now that the Take Two software has been unveiled however, the method behind Apple’s madness is more evident.

While composite output would have been marginally good enough for many users of the 1.0 software, fewer would have been happy to see an ambitious 2.0 software release that shoehorned in enough features to make the overall experience too soft and unreadable on anything less than a widescreen display offering 480p quality.

Apple clearly had more ambitious plans for Apple TV than it revealed last year, when the unit was rather quietly advanced in the shadow of the far more spectacular iPhone. Both products were 1.0 releases, but the iPhone was a much bigger bet with a much larger payoff, so Apple invested its resources to ensure that the new smartphone would hit the ground running in 2007. Apple TV could hang out as a hobby while Apple lined up the content and finished the software.

With the iPhone now running along smoothly at top speed, Apple now has the opportunity to fire up Apple TV as its fourth engine. This time, the professional naysayers only have a couple weeks to disgorge their rivers of fear, uncertainty, and doubt before Take Two hits the public’s hands and shows up their analysis as the stupefying nonsense that it is.

Brent Schlender's Apple TV: Fortune Dud or Fortune FUD?

Brent Schlender’s Apple TV: Fortune Dud or Fortune FUD?
Scott Woolley Attacks Apple TV in Forbes, Gets the Facts Wrong
Forbes’ Fake Steve Jobs Is Also Fake On Apple

The Impact of Apple TV.
So far, the biggest complaints they’ve managed to lodge relate to the industry standard, 24 hour limitation on movie rentals once the play button has been hit. I’ve railed against exploding media rentals for years now, and insisted that Apple wouldn’t sell a media rental model. While that’s still the case in terms of music and subscription media rentals, it turns out that Apple can’t always lead every tango.

When the company dances with the Devil in the pale moonlight, it sometimes has to let its partners bust out a few moves of their own. Apple wasn’t able to force Cocoa down the throats of its major Mac developers back in the late 90s, so it went out of its way to produce Carbon for them. It couldn’t squeeze DRM free tracks from the RIAA labels from the beginning of iTunes back in 2003, and was forced to develop FairPlay to appease them. It couldn’t wean AT&T off of pay per message SMS with the iPhone to deliver a standard instant messaging client, it couldn’t immediately ship a free ringtone construction set without throwing coins toward the RIAA, and it couldn’t get Microsoft to support a variety of Mac OS X features in Office.

Apple also couldn’t force all of the labels to sell their movies in iTunes as digital downloads. It could, however, get them all to sign up for movie rentals if it matched the rules the studios have laid out for Pay Per View TV and every other digital rental service. So Apple did. And after things begin to sell, Apple’s movie rentals will obsolesce the NetFlix mail model and the mainstream rental store. This is as obvious as the big Apple logo on top of the box.

Apple might have been unable to deliver the NetFlix ‘return at your leisure’ rental subscription model that I envisioned due to external factors, but the upside is that, as demonstrated, Apple TV’s rental model matches the features of other digital competitors without requiring a monthly subscriber fee as NetFlix does. Based on the forums survey related to the iTunes Rentals article I wrote, users will be happier being able to rent when they want on occasion as opposed to signing up to an all you can eat monthly service with the subscription obligation that entails. The service subscription model certainly has been a huge failure for the music business.

Rise of the iTunes Killers Myth

Rise of the iTunes Killers Myth
Cocoa and the Death of Yellow Box and Rhapsody
How FairPlay Works: Apple’s iTunes DRM Dilemma
How Apple Could Deliver Workable iTunes Rentals

Rated M for Massive Impact.
Good riddance to Blockbuster and its moral monitoring that prevents the rental distribution of anything that might spin the crusty corpse of the MPAA’s Jack Valenti. Apple TV will not make Apple rich on its low profit hardware nor its nickels of rental profits, but it will further establish the company as a major media outlet and bust open the floodgates of content to America’s living rooms.

Apple has included easy to use content ratings limitations for families who want to control access to the content their kids watch, but it won’t act as the nanny of the nation. This is a company that invited Randy Newman on stage to perform “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country,” a song that defends the people of America and observes, “Now the leaders we have, while they’re the worst we’ve had, are hardly the worst this poor world has seen.”

Apple didn’t just serve as the stage for independent political expression, but also allowed Newman a moment of uncensored speech that the company then broadcast to millions in its streaming keynote feed. Seriously, which is more impressive: Newman casually saying “shit” in an inoffensive context on stage at Macworld, or Apple, Inc. making no effort to bleep it out in its keynote feed?

Apple – QuickTime – Macworld 2008 Keynote

Reality TV, Take Two.
Perhaps once we expose ourselves to enough uncensored, unpolished, unscripted reality, we’ll realize that the occasional broadcast of a casual expletive or an exposed boob is really not as big of a deal as widespread corruption that results in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and ensures a world full of fundamentalist violence.

Perhaps if we all have access to real news, published by anyone with a camera and a voice rather than by a few huge media organizations with a documented desire to convert the world into a single fascist global government, we’ll figure things out for ourselves.

Until this year, the best hope for such a conduit of reality was the Internet. Unfortunately, there’s no accountability or security on the Internet, and no way to really know who’s behind what’s being said. If you trust the Internet, you’ll be led to believe that the Microsoft Zune is a phenomenal hit, that Leopard is as problematic as Vista, that iTunes sales collapsed in late 2006, that the iPhone is in critical danger of turning into a spybot network, and that a Trojan is a Virus if Macworld UK wants it to be.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 11 Leopard.Vs.Vista.016-2

Ten Myths of Leopard: 10 Leopard is a Vista Knockoff!
Zune vs. iPhone: Five Phases of Media Coverage

Free TV.
Apple TV promises to deliver the freedom of the Internet with an additional measure of accountability. Watchers will be able to watch Fox News next to news feeds from around the world and actually decide for themselves what’s really happening. It won’t single handily force open the minds of people who don’t want to face reality, but it will serve up reality to those who want it.

Delivering movie rentals is just a way into living rooms for the new box; once there, Apple TV will pipe the world to users over the impartial Internet Protocol, without any external filters imposed by big businesses. No cable cartels, no telephone company filtering or NSA spying, no Blockbuster, no FCC, no MPAA, no Microsoft, no Think Tanks in the Public Interest, and no witch hunting fundamentalists hell bent on inflaming perpetual wars.

Apple TV will be a commercial success as an expansion of iTunes, but more importantly, it will dramatically challenge the hypocritically puritanical layers of mind-control, groupthink conformity erected by a well meaning but wholly delusional minority that think they need to roundup Americans into the OK Corral.

It is fitting that Apple TV is springing on stage in 2008, the year that will define the future of America as either a deeper dive into the black waters of willful ignorance and fear, or a targeting of the moon as John Kennedy did back in the 60s, when America aspired to lead the world as a well educated, optimistic, liberal minded, progressive role model rather than as a inquisitional holy crusader running roughshod over international conventions and hypocritically killing babies while outlawing stem cell research.

I for one welcome our new set top box liberators.

What do you think? I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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  • Brau

    Wow! I never thought of the AppleTV that way. Liberty seems to be pretty good deal at a mere $249. I do find myself conflicted as to which side of freedom or fascism Apple is on when they so openly court Gore, GreenPeace, and their global political agendas.

  • BjK

    I agree. Take that, liberal media!

    (just kidding, don’t get too upset)

  • UrbanBard

    “It is fitting that Apple TV is springing on stage in 2008, the year that will define the future of America as either a deeper dive into the black waters of willful ignorance and fear, or a targeting of the moon as John Kennedy did back in the 60s, when America aspired to lead the world as a well educated, optimistic, liberal minded, progressive role model rather than as an inquisitional holy crusader running roughshod over international conventions and hypocritically killing babies while outlawing stem sell research.”

    Boy Daniel, You can sure pack a whole bunch of leftist bigotry into one sentence. It’s too mind twisted for me to decode. Besides, you never listen to anything that I have to say. So, Dream on.

    I have a wait and see attitude on Apple TV.

  • http://tim.geekheim.de/ timpritlove

    A minor correction: Apple does not “host” the RSS feeds. The iTunes Podcast Directory just “lists” these feeds by storing the URL of the feed in their system.

    I wonder if the new Apple TV actually allows subscribing to the feeds therefore creating the first non-iTunes podcast client or if it is just a Podcast Directory browser that allows you to download and view individual episodes on-demand.

  • addicted44

    I wish they had added a TV tuner to the Apple TV. For no reason other than to make it the only box besides the TV in a living room…

  • lmasanti

    quote:
    “No … NSA spying,…”

    I think this is utopian.
    They will figure it out pretty soon.
    (And, of course, will cost billion of dollars to the taxpayer to get an unworkable system!)

  • lmasanti

    quote:
    “I wish they had added a TV tuner to the Apple TV. For no reason other than to make it the only box besides the TV in a living room…”

    This –I think– is the BIG POINT to Apple, from Dan’s point of view.
    We are lazy people. If we have a TV tunner we “just zap” thru the trash they send us.
    If we have not “we have to decide” what to look for.

    And democracy is about “deciding”, not “eating shit”.

  • kent

    Right on Daniel. I was just reading memos written by Jay Rockefeller in which he recommended using the government power to destroy any critic of Hillary’s National Health Plan in 1994. We need Apple TV so we can fight these forces of fascism when they get back in office.

  • Rich

    The Apple TV has been a niche product so far, but it’s been a niche that I’ve been part of.

    About 6 months ago I was looking for a way to watch my ripped DVDs and music on my home cinema system. The 160GB Apple TV seemed ideal since my home wireless network is really too slow for streaming and all my media is stored in iTunes. I even met the requisite of having a HD widescreen TV already. Since then I’ve really been happy with it. It doesn’t have a mass of functionality but what it does, it does well.

    The update is an added bonus. I don’t know if I’ll ever pay for movie rentals but we’ll have to see.

    “Apple might have been unable to deliver the NetFlix ‘return at your leisure’ rental subscription model that I envisioned due to external factors”

    The ‘return at your leisure’ model is doing fantastically well in the UK via physical mail. There’s a lot of competition and the monthly price isn’t much more than renting a single movie per month. A lot of the services also offer video games too. I think a digital version is the way forward.

    “The service subscription model certainly has been a huge failure for the music business.”

    I think it’s near impossible to succeed when your music service is incompatible with 70%+ of DAPs. I don’t see any reason why an Apple music subscription service wouldn’t be a success. I’d love to have access to the entire iTunes store for $15 a month.

  • Mike in Helsinki

    Daniel,

    You’re a great observer and commenter in the tech arena. Been reading your column for some time now. I have even been a donator in the past to your work. I, as most of us, appreciate your competency, skills and passions.

    And anyone who is open-minded would also compliment you on wanting to assert your political opinions … even those who would be 180 degrees in thought.

    But there comes a point when one transgresses upon the other, and it begins to cloud your judgement. You are being seen as progressively co-opting your tech column now as a forum for your political thinking, and the objective is colliding with the subjective.

    You are sounding shrill, dogmatic and detached from the what has been the objective of Roughly Drafted.

    Think. We are customers, consuming your product. We compensate you by clicking on your site and by sending you contributions. When you start to become a political commentator, you diverge from serving your customers (surely though, not all. Some certainly like BOTH your tech and political commentary). But it is misguided.

    Think.

    Why not create a second blog that segregates your political commentary from your tech commentary, of which both have little in common. Your customers, of any political persuasion, would both welcome that and appreciate it.

    Its a friendly suggestion.

    If, however, you are unable or unwilling to compartmentalize the two subjects into separate blogs, then so be it. Its your column, you have that right.

    So Mike in Helsinki indeed lives in Finland. And as such, you could dismiss my advice and pass it off as cultural differences. Here, you’ll find the same breadth of political opinions as anywhere, but we do tend to compartmentalize things to remain clear thinking.

    The unforgivable sin here is to be seen as not being able to cope. Are your fits of anger in your articles a reflection of an inability to cope, or a failure to compartmentalize one from the other?

  • ibookfast

    Dan, thank you for writing about two subjects I’m passionate about.. Apple technology, and politics. As usual you’re right on the money. One of these days I’ll send some donations your way. You’ve become my favorite blogger.

  • solipsism

    Not a fan of the political stuff in these articles but I’ll take what I can get from RDM.

    Many sites/magazines voted the AppleTV the worst product of 2007. I wonder if it will be voted the best product for 2008 after the software update.

  • lmasanti

    quote:
    “Many sites/magazines voted the AppleTV the worst product of 2007. I wonder if it will be voted the best product for 2008 after the software update.”

    I wonder if they will say something like…

    “It turned out that I was wrong.” (Dan’s dixit)

    Or in the lines of…

    “We didn’t see it coming…”

  • solipsism

    @ Imasanti,

    I think it’s more likely that they’ll denigrate Apple in the process to mask their own short-sidedness.

    “We knew the AppleTV would be a hit if Apple would just eat some humble pie and play nice with the movie studios for once.

    I figure they’ll pull a cliché out there asses. They always do.

  • heitorfr

    “Perhaps if we all have access to real news, published by anyone with a camera and a voice rather than by a few huge media organizations with a documented desire to convert the world into a single fascist global government, we’ll figure things out for ourselves.”

    It’s good point but I’m not sure Apple TV is the answer. I’m fond of Apple for putting out great products but It wouldn’t be fair to give them the credits of liberating information from the media business domain. That is emerging now from a mix of new technologies and new attitudes independently of Apple, they’re just riding the wave.

    And I think that kind of effort should come outside of the commercial sphere. You should look at projects such as Miro (previously Democracy TV).

    Besides I wouldn’t call Apple liberators of any sort because of the degree of control they want to impose on your computer/media experience, although for positive reasons such as giving you the best user experience. Apple TV is a closed product which you cannot extend with any services, protocols and applications besides what Apple decides fits your needs and theirs.

  • http://www.reneritchie.net rener

    The one disadvantage the Apple TV has compared to cable (and maybe satellite) is that Apple does not own nor control the pipe.

    You not only have to pay for the rental, you have to consumer your cable/dsl/whatever bandwidth to download it.

    I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that (was it Warner?) started talking about pay-per-bandwidth the same week Apple TV Take 2 was announced, but I can easily see the pipes trying to throttle Apple by adding usage fees on the bandwidth, while leaving their own competing services with free access.

    (I’m in Canada, with a 20GB cable limit per month, no such thing as over-the-air or clear qam HD, no cable card, and large ISPs down-throttling things like Skype to try and “encourage” their own VoIP services already, so I’m not hopeful that HD downloads via Apple TV would be practical based on file size alone — though some independent DSL resellers are still unlimited)

  • Pingback: ReneRitchie.net » Apple TV Take 2 and Find Bandwidth in the Morning…()

  • MikeInSyracuse

    Ah, to be a Bay-area leftist.

    Apple didn’t just serve as the stage for independent political expression, but also allowed Newman a moment of uncensored speech that the company then broadcast to millions in its streaming keynote feed. Seriously, which is more impressive: Newman casually saying “shit” in an inoffensive context on stage at Macworld, or Apple, Inc. making no effort to bleep it out in its keynote feed?

    Why is either thing “impressive”? What would censoring it out have deprived listeners of? Why would you cheer Apple for not wanting to be the “nanny of the nation” while simultaneously being obviously in favor of politicians who want the federal government to be the “nanny of the nation”?

    It is fitting that Apple TV is springing on stage in 2008, the year that will define the future of America as either a deeper dive into the black waters of willful ignorance and fear, or a targeting of the moon as John Kennedy did back in the 60s, when America aspired to lead the world as a well educated, optimistic, liberal minded, progressive role model rather than as a inquisitional holy crusader running roughshod over international conventions and hypocritically killing babies while outlawing stem sell research.

    seriously, you should be the tech writer for Democrat Underground or Daily Kos or something. Perhaps you already do post over there, this tripe reads like a cut-and-paste from a typical rant on one of those sites.

  • Bob Forsberg

    Love the AppleTV and will buy one when it does 1080p. Right idea, just slow getting started.

    I’d also enjoy your articles more if the left wing looney liberal political stuff wasn’t there.

  • Blad_Rnr

    Daniel said:
    “…targeting of the moon as John Kennedy did back in the 60s, when America aspired to lead the world as a well educated, optimistic, liberal minded, progressive role model…”

    Daniel, I don’t know how old you are, but if my memory serves me, President Kennedy was the one who sent American troops to Viet Nam, ignoring the fate of the French just a few years before. Just because he was assassinated before taking the full blame for it is immaterial. And please explain just what spending trillions on moon exploration ever did for us, besides increase American Fascism (us versus the Communists)?

    I love your tech articles. You are a voice in the wilderness when you delve into the real stories of the tech age we live in. There is no writer who seems to have your talent. I commend you for telling it like it is.

    But mixing your liberal politics into the mix is just awful, especially when you distort the past for the sake of taking pot shots at our President who was elected by a majority vote by the Electoral College, twice.

    Why go there?

  • LyndellR

    Does Apple TV support encrypted protocols? Encryption could frustrate policing the internet and throttling bandwidth.

  • Brau

    One thing to remember before going too far and predicting Apple will take over the world, is that the movie studios (IE: Time Warner) are hell bent to make sure Apple doesn’t become the defacto distributor. When they signed their contracts with Apple, they did so knowing they already had other alternatives coming down the pipeline. Indeed, they have already announced an initiative to offer movie downloads (Windows only) through HBO (http://tinyurl.com/2j7zlg). More will services be added through the Xbox and the Sony PSP meaning AppleTV will still have a very hard time competing against the features these offer.

    So here goes … I going to say it … I predict AppleTV2 will languish (after a brief surge by early Apple fans) just the same as the first version unless Apple truly opens the device and thereby make it the must-have device it should have been. If they had done this it would have sold millions by now. Adding movie rentals simply does not make it that much more attractive, not does the paltry price drop. Instead they continue to employ the same protectionist tactics that Steve Jobs has accused the music industry and cell networks of, by locking down the AppleTV and artificially limiting it to iTunes streamed content. Apple should allow iTunes to be used side-by-side with whatever competing content the customer desires to use on their AppleTV – just like we do on our PCs.

  • solipsism

    @ LyndellR,
    TV supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption for wireless.

    They are encrypted files on the application layer only, which is why you need your iTunes account to play them. Even if they were encrypted at the network layer, any network engineer could easily setup priorities based on the origination network to throttle back access from the iTunes servers.

    However, i don’t think any US broadband provider would do that. It could easily be considered an anti-trust issue. Throttling back torrents is a different story.

  • David Dennis

    I have to agree with many of the others, Daniel. I enjoy the technical articles, but leave US politics to the billions of political blogs that do it better. Particularly since Apple is not controlling the content of podcasts and so it’s really no different from the Internet, just with more video.

    It looks to me like Apple, despite their image, has a customer list split roughly 50/50 between left and right, so by showing lefty bias you are antagonizing roughly 50% of your potential readership.

    However, I thought your expose of the Muni was very well done, so local politics is not so bad. Corruption and incompetence, sadly, crosses party lines.

    D

  • UrbanBard

    It’s more absurd than that, Blad_Rnr. President Kennedy got us into the war, LBJ changed it from a guerilla war using surrogate forces, which we were winning, into a conventional war.

    Then LBJ placed incompetent generals to run it, and micromanaged the war for its political value, so we stared to lose it. The TET offensive, which the Leftist Press says we lost, was a stunning victory which destroyed the North Vietnamese Army. Who says that? The North Vietnamese commander, Nguyen Giap, said so in his book five years ago.

    Then, the New Left took control of Congress and, in 1975, cut all military aid to Vietnam. This hampered President Nixon’s ability to get us out of the war. When the Communists attacked again against a vastly weaker South Vietnamese army, they naturally won. The leftist press then blamed Nixon and the Republicans for a war they never caused, then won and was sabotaged by the New Left politicians in Congress.

    The Left has whipped us with this lie ever since then. They get away with it because of public ignorance and their control of the Mainstream Media. Now, their political drones have no knowledge of the truth since they only read from approved Politically Correct sources.

  • mrbee

    To the guy in Canada that is paying for cable and now “has to pay for content” … I am in Canada also and what we do is use the second option. We get our internet from the phone company (actually faster) and don’t watch cable at all. That way, you are only paying for the bare bandwidth and not all that programming on the cable that you don’t watch or need.

    Kudos to Dan for the censorship angle. Censorship is rampant in today’s world and it’s *always* a good thing to get rid of it (read your history people). Why is it that three year olds are allowed to watch exploding heads on some shows in prime time but the saying “god damn” or showing a bare bum will be censored? Twisted stuff that.

    I am shocked also at all the backwards right-wingers here. I would think if you were on the same page as the average Apple user you would be beyond all that George Bush bullcrap, because anyone with a brain can see reality if they want to.

    While Dan does wax political once in a while, in this particular case, all he is saying is that JFK was overall a good man with a positive vision for peace and hope for the future. This is not exactly in dispute, regardless of any presidential orders he may have signed. As Americans, you should know that part of the job of being President means signing papers to send men and women to their deaths once in a while. That doesn’t have any bearing on the overall direction of a particular presidency. Even Jimmy Carter, one of the kindest nicest people ever to be elected to President had to do things like that.

    The positioning of JFK as the antithesis of George Bush and Dick Cheney is *very* relevant and very indicative of the choice you all face this year, and to argue against that is idiotic and shallow. You may like the way your country is going now, that’s your choice, but to imply that “JFK was just as bad” or some such nonsense makes you look like you just don’t know much about history.

  • http://ephilei.blogspot.com Ephilei

    Yeah, please leave out the political tripe. Or at least isolate it into its own articles so I can avoid it neatly instead of wading thru it in your tech articles.

  • Blad_Rnr

    Thank you, UrbanBard. I was hoping I wasn’t the only one who was blindly accepting revisionist history.

    Seriously, when are we going to all realize that the political spectrum is not one-dimensional? It’s 2-dimensional!

    Think of personal freedom as the Y-axis, and financial freedom as the X-axis. Now we have a true picture of where the parties fall (in theory): Democrats are typically in the top left corner (high personal freedom, high taxes for social works) and Republicans in the bottom right corner (lower taxes, less personal freedom). Fasicsts, Communists, Ultra-Left Wing and Right Wings fall in the lower left corner (is there really a difference between Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Hitler?).

    Where is the party, or group, who is in the top right corner? The Libertarian Party, for one. They support low taxes, high personal freedom, limited government. But on the one-dimensional scale, they don’t (can’t) exist. How convenient for the two-party system.

    But I digress.

  • Blad_Rnr

    mrbee,
    Thanks for calling some of us “backward right wingers.” See above.

    I wasn’t calling Kennedy anything. All I was pointing out was that he sent troops to a country to fight in a war we couldn’t win, and didn’t learn from the French experience. I agree Kennedy was a forward-thinking visionary. A smart guy. But I don’t agree that we can look at politics in this country along party lines. BOTH parties share an equal amount of blame for the destruction of financial and personal freedoms. They have both abused their powers. You may dislike Bush. You may think he is a red-neck, ignorant crony who is lining the pockets of his friends. But this is somehow a new thing to American politics?

    Give me a break.

  • flybynight

    Tech, tech, tech, Apple is great, AppleTV this and that, WHOA! Liberal landmine!

    I don’t agree with you politically, but even if you were a conservative, I still wouldn’t appreciate the political stuff intermingled with the tech stuff.

    As for Blad_Rnr, I disagree with your analysis of the personal freedoms. The left has been very hard on personal freedoms (think smoking bans and property rights, nanny-state policies, etc). Unfortunately, many of the Republicans aren’t true conservatives anymore. Government messes things up, so we need less of it, and therefore, they need less of our tax dollars. I think we need to push people that lean more towards the Libertarian to run under the Republican ticket. I don’t see the 2 party system going away, but it can be improved.

  • John

    I’m with the others as far as the political comments, but I vote that we give Dan a pass on it, and just filter it out as we read it.

    As far as AppleTV 2 – in the context of all Apple products, it fits well. Apple provides a nice wireless context that makes life simpler for us. The Apple TV for playing in the family room what’s actually on our computer; Airport Extreme for our network and backup; iTunes for managing our media on all our devices; and now the Apple TV2 for also playing in the family room what’s on the internet. The key is “simpler”. All this capability exists outside of Apple, it just requires a Geek to do it! Now it’s for the rest of us.

  • http://www.reneritchie.net rener

    @Mrbee:

    While some, usually re-seller DSL companies have unlimited* (*fairuse) accounts, unadvertised limits are increasingly the norm, and if force wholesale prices for re-sellers disappear (as I believe they may be in the US), then there goes unlimited* internet.

  • Robert.Public

    Electoral college? That institution that should have been tossed a longtime ago disqualifies this county frombeing a real democracy.

    And just because it isn’t new to have a red neck ignorant crony lining his pockets, how in any way does that make it acceptable in this day and age? It is an absolute OUTRAGE!

  • http://www.reneritchie.net rener

    BTW- The political injection in the article seems to have cause comments to get caught up in that aspect, and mostly ignore the technology discussion. Sad.

  • gus2000

    Dear Daniel,

    I love your articles, except for when they suck. Could you please leave out any words or topics that I personally find offensive? I’ll be happy to send you a list. Thanks.

    YOU GUYS NEED TO GIVE DANIEL A BREAK. He lives in San Francisco! Most of his friends probably think he’s a moderate. I have the opposite problem living in Texas, where drinking a lite beer is enough to get you branded as a left-leaning homo.

    Political ideology exists in all media and art; there is no such thing as 100% objectivity. The difference here at RDM is that Daniel will tell you exactly what he thinks, right to your face, no bullshit. If you want to get told exactly what you want to hear, there are plenty of other outlets that will be happy to help you.

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    The ability to rent or buy directly from you T.V. is the killer feature, I think. It makes more sense that purchased content sync back to your Mac or PC and that rented content never does. I believe in time, this will be a game changer in entertainment and information content delivery. I think it’s a fantastic upgrade!

    For those offended by political shots from the left I must say, I think that’s one of the qualities that make RDM unique and interesting. Feel free to disagree and post a counter opinion. These forums are wide open to just about anything but spam. Asking that he leave it out or separate tech from social opinion, I’ll have to disagree. It sounds to me like you’re asking that he voluntarily censor his own work.

    “when America aspired to lead the world as a well educated, optimistic, liberal minded, progressive role” ah yes, that would be nice. I wasn’t born yet. Those were troubling times and we had a leader who believed in his people. I’m no fan of the current administration – full disclosure – so perhaps I don’t mind the political comments because I mostly agree with them. I don’t mind a good debate though. I don’t like to loose but I’m OK with calling it a draw.

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    well gus, it looks like you hit your submit button before I hit mine. Damn people around here keep interrupting me with work.

  • lmasanti

    quote:
    “…And please explain just what spending trillions on moon exploration ever did for us…”

    The transistor and the microcircuits are “rests” from that spending.

    (And the famous multi-million space-pen that the russian suplanted with pencils!)

  • Blad_Rnr

    @ Robert.Public,
    When in ANY of my comments did I say it was okay to act as the current administration has? My point was that some people act like it hasn’t ever happened in any other administration. If you read all of my comments, you would see I am not keen on either party.

    As for the Electoral College, I was just stating the facts. I wasn’t making an opinion either way.

    @flybynight
    I agree. Which is exactly my point. BOTH parties are against us: they want to limit our freedoms AND tax us to death while increasing the size of our government.

    I will end my political opinions at this point.

    Dan, thanks for a great article, once again. I agree that the Apple TV has a chance to become huge this year. I think Apple has all the pieces in place to have a lion’s share of the video download market. I would like to know what your set-up at home is in regards to your flat panel TV. Many accuse the Apple TV of poor image quality. Would a 720P be a better fit than 1080i or p?

  • hrissan

    Well, it seems people can not stand reading political views reciprocal to their own. Relax guys and try to realize what’s the reason for this in your soul? Try to be wise. :) Daniel is fantastic apologizing for his wrong predictions/opinions. Such a person is not a dumb ignorant moron, right? Then his opinions obviously have at least some ground, whether they are appropriate in this blog or not. Daniel, you may continue to pick people but it really makes comments a bit irrelevant to the topic, sorry. :)

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    Because Apple TV is now connected directly to the internet and not just to sync with you Mac or PC, it has the potential to bring the internets freedom and wealth of information (good, bad, right or wrong) to your TV, much like a blog brings to your web browser. I think the point is that we will have far more freedom to choose where we get our TV content, not just the network approved feeds. Wasn’t that the point of the final paragraph? It is technically relevant to the rest of the article.

  • WebManWalking

    Apple can call it Apple TV Take Two or 2.0 if they want, but it’s actually Front Row 2.0. Apple TV 2.0 would be 1080p. I already have the 144.63 GB Apple TV, and have been perfectly happy with it as-is, but I’d like to upgrade to a 1080p box, when it and 1080p content are available.

    On a tangential subject, Front Row on the Mac, I cannot upgrade my PowerMac G5 to Leopard to get it, because I absolutely need the Classic environment. I will NEVER upgrade that particular machine beyond Tiger as a result. Since I’m clearly in a demographic that Apple wants (people with money to spend on Apple products), I’d like to point out something that Apple may want to heed: They would grow their movie rental market by making Front Row available to Tiger users without forcing us to hack the system software to allow it.

  • solipsism

    @ WebManWalking,

    — How would the rental market big larger in Front Row was on Tiger? You can already get rentals through any machine running iTunes v7.6.
    — AppleTV “Take 2” is much more than an updated Front Row. There is a great deal that needs to be altered on the back end. I’m sure we’ll be reading about it in a couple weeks.
    — 1080p content is not going to be coming anytime remotely soon. The files are way to big.
    — It’s been 7 years(?) since Apple has developed for System 7. Doesn’t take you out of being Apple’s most common customer type.

  • macmo

    Rock on Daniel. I enjoyed every word.

    Why are people so quick to classify under left or right? Whatever your political views, I submit that if you write thoughtful, well-supported, refreshing articles on tech, perhaps your points on other topics are just so.

    Some are simply afraid of being ‘corrupted’ by different points of view. Just another sign of the sad state of our public discourse.

  • nat

    UrbanBard said:
    “Boy Daniel, You can sure pack a whole bunch of leftist bigotry into one sentence.”

    Leftist bigotry’s = oxymoron. :b

    One of my favorite articles, Daniel. The depth is always there, but sometimes the subject really hits a chord.

    At the moment I’m in my senior year livin with ma. While I know when I move out during college that all I’ll need is WiFi and a MacBook Pro to get my music, movies, podcasts, etc. my mom is still hooked on cable TV. I showed her how almost every cable news station she watches can be viewed online, but since many only offer video clips and confounding Flash displays (at least for ma) she decided she couldn’t deal with it. Now AppleTV 2.0 is out and it’s sooo easy, all I’ll have to do is download some episodes of Meet The Press and subscribe to a few nature podcasts and she’ll probably give in.

    On that note, what does everyone think of the chances of podcasts playing on their own? One of my complaints about the idea of AppleTV (and the internet in general) is that many people only watch what they’re into, rather than exploring. Cable has a horrible selection of media, but on occasion I’ll stumble on to a show or movie I’d otherwise have never thought to watch. Is there a chance of an option that allows the user to switch from podcast to podcast like changing the channels, with different media streaming at different times set by the creator? If you stumbled upon something interesting, you could just start it from the beginning or if it got boring, you could fast forward. I know iTunes’ can recommend other media based on your purchases/downloads, but what about things I don’t know I want. :D Then again, I guess one of the ideas of AppleTV is to end the passive consumption of whatever might be on.

    On censorship, is there none on iTunes? I’m sure the shills would jump on any podcast that featured nudity, but I’ve never heard of such a podcast. Whenever I write a review of anything on iTunes there are tips for writing and the use of profanity, racism, etc. is prohibited, but is that enforced? Is there an atomized profanity-checker, or does Apple only check reviews people report? Should porn be allowed on iTunes if there were parental controls that could block it from young users? Would Apple allow that? These aren’t rhetorical questions, I’m asking anyone that might have some insight.

    The idea of people enjoying podcasts over the reruns that have been playing for the last few months is not hard to imagine. While I feel sorry for the writers, the strike will help freely available content and AppleTV become very popular, which would shift people from paying for lame content they have no control over to free content they can rate and listen to on their computer, iPod, iPhone. If AppleTV becomes the iPod of set-top boxes for the mainstream, I can’t imagine how much more fresh, creative, free content would be at our fingertips! It reminds me of Radiohead and other groups putting up their music for free while charging a bit more for concerts. If Apple added a “Donate to Podcaster” button, for the first time in a long time, independent content creators could really get their dues.

  • Moeskido

    Strongly-worded opinions breed backlash, which is why comment threads which venture into politics have become such a predictably shrill ping-pong game. Nobody wants to reconsider long-held beliefs after having invested so much faith and energy in them.

    Nifty article, Daniel. But I don’t hold out much hope for the utopian promise of Apple TV’s democratization of consumer entertainment, except insofar as I’ll finally have some sort of non-cable, a la carte method to choose only the tv I want, without paying for hundreds of channels of crap.

    Our country’s public education system has deteriorated for far too many decades. Most citizens raised within it haven’t been given the basic critical-thinking skills necessary to process the kind of choice you’re describing. Our nanny federal and local governments now outsource our expertise, because government “can’t perform that function” well enough any more. (I work for one of the companies that benefits from this brave new world.) It makes for a very cushy, ongoing, campaign-partner relationship for corrupt officials at every level, in both parties.

    Viet Nam was a mess that the French created, abandoned, and left us to clean up. It was never our fight, until foreign advisors convinced several presidents that it could prove politically valuable, aligning individuals with “patriotism” in the public eye.

    Those advisor guys are still around, providing similar wisdom to almost every presidential candidate on either ticket, advocating wars which will kill more innocent civilians. And so we continue to sacrifice the lives of working-class children everywhere, tax revenues disappear into private offshore accounts, the middle class disappears, and budgets for essential public services are cut once again.

  • nat

    Blad_Rnr said:
    “But mixing your liberal politics into the mix is just awful, especially when you distort the past for the sake of taking pot shots at our President who was elected by a majority vote by the Electoral College, twice.”

    Ha! A “majority vote BY THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE!!” :D
    Gore got the popular vote, made by the…the…POPULACE. If the candidate with the highest popular vote had also gotten the most electoral votes, which has been the case for every president in America’s history, Gore would just be finishing up his second term.

    As much as I loathe the current administration, there’s a bittersweet relief from the realization that Bush will NEVER be able to run again. In one year Obama will be in (b/c the Bush/Clinton dynasties are through) and this country will wake from its indifferent slumber of futility.

  • chotty

    Sadly, what many Leftists like this writer don’t see is that today, John Kennedy would be considered a right-wing hawk by today’s “Liberals”.
    Oddly enough, John Kennedy was also the last Democrat with a pair of balls to sit occupy the Oval Office… and you KNOW IT.
    *Harry Truman and John Kennedy were LIBERALS.
    The kooks today are LEFTISTS and COMMUNISTS.
    People like “Dan”are sorely in need of reading some Theodore Dalrymple, the best British Essayist since Orwell:

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_2_oh_to_be.html

    Take 2 Apple TV is merely what Take 1 should have been… ;-)

    [It’s easy to dismiss your POV as ignorant when in reality, the main difference between US Dem and US Rep are where they stand on legislating religious/moral issues. That’s pretty sad when you stop to think about it.

    Both parties are really right of center on the world stage, and cater to special interests and business as usual rather than espousing a particular political idea, so calling democrats leftist/communist just portrays a rabidly delusional mindset. I mean really, I’m open hearing a variety of opinions on things, but talking point jingoism is a bit too much.

    Your casual remark that a “version 2.0 product is what the 1.0 product should have been,” while made in jest, conveys the same kind of shallow shout-thinking that makes it easy to write off the efforts of others while barking up nonsense. – Dan]

  • http://www.fipscamp.com Michael Vasovski

    I don’t know how much longer ‘impartial’ will be correct in describing internet content. With HR 1955/S 1955 being so vaguely worded, I wonder how hard it would be to organize a false news story, propagated by the internet, that causes catastrophic results. With enough loss in life or economic damage, the government could be called into action against such ‘violent radicalization’ and begin to suppress all ‘non-sanctioned’ media outlets. They’re now setting up college think tanks on the best ways to do this type of censoring… Make no mistake, the central banks, governments, and military industrial complex have every enticement to make sure you get their version of the news. And if they can make an easy opportunity to silence any naysayers, all the better.

  • the shadow

    Who knew that so many apple fans were reactionary?

    The only story in politics today, in spite of the fevered efforts of their apologists and illusionists, is the Bush administration’s gutting of the Constitution, endless criminal war, pillaging of the public purse, illegal spying on the citizenry, and their open hostility to the Ideals that have made America great. No habeus corpus promised by the Constitution indeed. These are not run of the mill political hacks and criminals, they are radical reshapers of the mechanics and values of the republic. While your critics stay focused on the shiny stuff waved in the periphery, America is morphing into an oligarchy presided over by C students from Yale.

    Please continue to make connections between thought and consequences, continue to dig at knuckeheads who blame innocent bystanders for the sins against the republic. Your reward will come in heaven.

    By the way, couldn’t agree with you more that the story of MacWorld is Apple TV. I will purchase one soon and turn the 42″ electronic campfire in my living room into a democratic device, choosing of my own volition what media and information entertains the household and informs my world view.

    Great article. Your critics can get their tech information from the Australian’s many media outlets.