Daniel Eran Dilger
Random header image... Refresh for more!

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.

Like reading RoughlyDrafted? Share articles with your friends, link from your blog, and subscribe to my podcast! Submit to Reddit or Slashdot, or consider making a small donation supporting this site. Thanks!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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

    PS: To the guy above… Obama; Member of Council on Foreign Relations. Also Clinton, Edwards, Dodd, Richardson. Kucinich; No… Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Thompson; CFR members. Paul; No (Huck also not, but being advised by president of CFR).

  • UrbanBard

    The only reason I posted is in an attempt to persuade Daniel to leave out the politics out of his technical articles. They are like pissing in the soup. You might like the flavor, but many don’t.

    It would have taken a half hour to unpack all the implications of that one sentence. Since, I used to be a Democrat who left when the New Left took over, I know full well Daniel’s position. Mostly, his contentions are either rendered moot by technology like Environmental Stem Cell research or they are Leftist contentions long ago disproved when they were tried and failed in the real world. Or they are Daniel patting himself on the back for having a mixed up world view.

    Not that Daniel will argue his position with me. I’ve tried. He tries to slip his propaganda beneath other people’s notice. I know my history better than him and apply the rules of logic to everything. Like most Leftists ideologues, he runs out of argument quickly and has not the intellectual honesty to allow him self to be persuaded when he is in the wrong.

    Too bad. I like his technical writings. But, his politics are screwy.

  • roz

    I really think the appleTV is great now but I would be happier still if I could play a dvd and blueray in it. then I could eliminate a box and save an hdmi port.

    I could live without vcr, but no blue ray dvd slot is annoying.

  • Jesse

    Dan, your charts are mystifying to me.

  • IntelVet

    Leaving out the “politics” washes out the message, the “Think Different”. Rather than being shrill, it is the crux of what Apple is all about.

    It would be like describing the most beautiful woman in the world with simple measurements. The “politics” connect the dots and fill in detail.

    Thanks

  • http://www.netytan.com netytan

    Is Apple going to add Remote Disk to the AppleTV, it seems like it would be a good idea.

    If the AppleTV does get Remote Disk then surely it could be used as a DVD player too. That would make a lot of people happy :).

    What do you think?

  • flybynight

    At any rate, Daniel is entitled to his opinion and since this is his site, he can write whatever he damn well pleases. I just personally prefer to separate my tech and political (if I agree or not) news/opinions – due to what you see here in the comments. A great article on what AppleTV will do for entertainment has become a battleground for rival ideologies to slug it out with glee.

    And we ignore questions that should be relevant… like when will we see TV show rentals??? You can do it at the video store or NetFlix now, but I’m sure it will take some convincing for the networks to let it happen. If you do like TV shows that are offered on traditional TV/cable channels, renting (DVD or hopefully soon digitally) is the best way to do it.

  • gus2000

    OMG Nat, you’re right! Every US President until now has won both the Electoral College AND the popular vote!

    Oh wait, except 1824. And 1876. And 1888. And there were several others that were very close (Nixon won an electoral landslide with less than a 1% popular margin).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Electoral_College

    Actually I support the use of the Electoral College, I just despise the “winner-take-all” system that was never intended by the founders.

  • kent

    Maybe there would not be such a huge number of negative comments about Daniel’s political comments if he would stop characterizing those who differ with his leftist San Francisco worldview as “fascists”. Not a good way to treat your readers. Sadly those with the “San Francisco world view” run the Canadian Human Rights commision, where they use public funds to prosecute writers who “offend” anyone who makes a complaint. If you want to true fascism, or at least totalitarianism, infecting Canada, see http://ezralevant.com/ – where you can watch a government interrogator deciding if a Canadian should be put out of business for exercising free speech. I have not seen this from the “evil” George Bush yet, but maybe some of the enlightened liberal observers on this board can provide hard evidence of something similar in the US. Daniel is determined to piss off any conservative who likes his technical blog. That’s OK. Just don’t look for donations.

  • http://www.jon-wright.co.uk/oldarchives/ mrunderhill

    Jeeez i forgot what i was going to say.

    Ah i remember now…my Apple TV arrived today and now i’m just waiting for the HDMI cable.

    Then is it just a case of putting on my colours, getting my gun and Viva la revolution?

    Seriously though i agree with some of the others who comment here when they ask to keep the politics separate from the techie talk.

  • WebManWalking

    Apple TV is hardware. Its interface, Front Row, is software. So if you change just the interface, on the same hardware, it’s Front Row 2.0.

    As for 1080p, the heart wants what it wants. I’m willing to pay for it. I accept that this implies large file. Apple needs to know that there’s a existing market for electronic delivery of 1080p.

  • nat

    gus2000 said:
    “OMG Nat, you’re right! Every US President until now has won both the Electoral College AND the popular vote!

    Oh wait, except 1824. And 1876. And 1888. And there were several others that were very close (Nixon won an electoral landslide with less than a 1% popular margin).”

    Thanks for the link, but it doesn’t disprove what I was saying. The examples you brought up were during a time when a number of states didn’t have popular elections that decided the votes of that state’s electors.

    I was saying that for every US election in which ALL states had popular elections, no president has ever lost the popular election and then won through the Electoral College. Bush is the only one in history thanks to Florida, in which Bush’s brother was governor at the time.

  • daniel.lucas

    @ nat

    I found your flicking through podcasts idea quite interesting and it got me thinking of how that could be implemented.

    The closest I got was bringing up a list of related videos/podcasts, similar to YouTube. Or a Google-style “I’m feeling lucky” button. Of course, related videos wouldn’t be much use if the idea is to explore new and unrelated content, but something along those lines could work.

    I have to admit that I’m not very good at exploring new stuff but mainly because there’s so much choice I’m not sure where to start. Then again, when I do come across something new that takes my fancy, I wonder how I didn’t find out about it earlier.

  • solipsism

    @ netytan (#55),

    I don’t think it would be hard to hack the AppleTV’s OS X to auto-mount the optical drive your Mac. They have created the software I’m sure the hackers will put it together.

    Leopard’s FrontRow will show a DVD option when one is inserted. I don’t know if the software has been altered or just isn’t activated because there is no DVD player attached to the AppleTV. I guess we’ll see soon.

  • kent

    Nat,

    So we had a close election last time. The system worked and we have a president. We have never had a system based on direct popular vote. The same people who complain about the 2000 election also complain about Ronald Reagan, who won two landslides. George Bush would not have won in 2000 if Tennessee had voted for Al Gore, but they knew him. In 2004 Kerry would have won if North Carolina had voted for him, but they knew John Edwards. The Democrats lost both elections. If you want to engage in what ifs, then just remember John Kennedy only defeated Nixon because of fraudulent votes in Illinois and Texas. Nixon decided not to make an issue of the obvious fraud because he did not want to put the country through a post-election trauma. There’s one difference between the parties.

  • http://leifwright.com leifwright

    I disagree with those who want you to keep your political opinions to yourself.

    Part of what makes RoughlyDrafted a great site is that you look unwaveringly at the issues that get you riled up, which happens to most often be FUD about Apple. Despite that, politics, it seems, occasionally gets you, too, and that’s OK.

    After all, this isn’t APPLEroughlyDrafted. It’s RoughlyDrafted. No eschewing of political commentary promised or implied.

    Yeah, I happen to be a leftie, too, but I’d support your right to vent even if you were *gasp* a right-winger. Although, come to think of it, you’d probably be using a Dell.

  • flybynight

    WebManWalking said:
    “Apple TV is hardware. Its interface, Front Row, is software. So if you change just the interface, on the same hardware, it’s Front Row 2.0. …”

    Actually, Front Row 1.0 existed before AppleTV. AppleTV (Take 1) had the code name “Back Row,” and that rolled out to Leopard users as Front Row 2.0. I suppose you could call AppleTV Take 2 “Front Row 3.0” but I doubt we will see this interface updated in the desktop version of Front Row. I could be wrong, but on the desktop, you have iTunes, so it seems a little redundant.

    As for 1080p, yes there is a market for it, but a lot of obstacles as well. Everything I’ve read leads me to believe that the AppleTV hardware couldn’t handle it. Sure, they could have revised the hardware, but I think giving existing users a free update will make a lot more people happy than offering it only to new buyers. And to have 2 different sets of hardware out there with different resolution options would be a support nightmare – at least when first starting the rental store.

    The other issue is file size vs. download time. If they compressed 1080p enough to make reasonable download times (for most people in the US), the quality would not be much/any better than 720p. I think they found a nice balance. 1080p will happen eventually, but for now, this will be good enough for 95% of users.

    netytan,
    Interesting idea about Remote Disc and AppleTV. Could be interesting, but perhaps too confusing for some consumers. Maybe not. And of course, Apple will have to start shipping Macs with BluRay drives. Is there enough bandwidth on home networks to stream 1080P?

    My personal (unrelated) hope is that the iPhone/iPod Touch gains the ability to output to AirTunes (AirPort Express). How cool would that be??? They added that in the new AppleTV, but it don’t see most people using it there. The AppleTV will be right where most people have their good stereo speakers. I suppose for a cheap “whole house audio” solution, it could work if it can output to multiple AirTunes in unison.
    Think about it – the iPhone/iPod Touch is the only networkable iTunes device that cannot send audio to AirTunes.

  • higher ground

    Gee, I can’t wait for Daniel to take on religion!

  • nat

    daniel.lucas,

    I hear what you’re saying. It’s pretty easy to think of systems that can recommend media based on purchases/downloads, but more difficult to think of a way to find random diamonds in the rough.

    Your YouTube example reminded me of the rating system. I suppose the best way to find good random gems would be to look at something like YouTube videos listed under the “Popular” heading. I’ve discovered a few interesting sites and bands that way. Digg has to be my favorite site for finding completely random, strangely appealing stuff. Perhaps I should put more faith in iTunes rating system, but at the same time it would recommend me Brittany Spears over Elliott Smith. I guess the problem lies in the type of person that frequents and submits stories to a place like Digg compared to those buying tons of music off iTunes, though that’s not a slam of iTunes users as a whole, just those buying the singles of the top 10 BS pop artists.

    Take a look at a site like Neave.tv which features original content from a number of different sources. The videos differ greatly, yet they all seem to go together in a strange way. Fortunately, at least for podcast-lovers like myself, the content is dominated by interesting and creative works like those on neave.tv, rather than the mediocre mainstream crap that always makes it to the top of iTunes’ Top Songs list.

    I share your ironic frustration with the endless choices. Yes, there are hundreds of great artists out there, for example, but WHERE DO I BEGIN!! I have a Last.fm account, but I get discouraged when I listen to the music it recommends and it’s just not my kind of stuff, so I discontinue my search. Same with websites. I want to find more sites like RoughlyDrafted that just seem too good to exist! :D

  • nat

    kent said:
    “So we had a close election last time. The system worked and we have a president. We have never had a system based on direct popular vote.”

    The last election was close, but the system did not “work.” The candidate who has the most popular votes has = the candidate who has the most electoral votes.

    That changed for the first and only time in US history in 2000 and the fact that Bush’s brother governed the state which gave him, the candidate that held the minority vote the presidency was no coincidence.

    As for 2004, yeah Bush won both the popular and electoral votes mainly due to him being the incumbent (incumbents have a much better chance of being reelected for a second term) and swift-boating by his followers.

  • WebManWalking

    Thanks, flybynight. I wasn’t aware that Leopard had already hollered dibs on calling its version of Front Row 2.0, because, as I said earlier, I don’t and won’t have Leopard on my G5. All I knew was, my Apple TV had 1.1 and the Tiger hack talked about downloading 1.3.

    P.S.: You might be interested that, in the Washington DC area, the Yellow Pages once listed a computer consulting company called Nocturnal Aviation.

  • kent

    Nat,

    You are confused. Our system chooses by state with electors from each state generally voting for the popular winner in the state. This is how the founders set it up to balance big state and small state influence. Read The Federalist Papers. George Bush won the Florida vote with about 7 recounts. His brother had nothing to do with it. There were strong efforts by the Democrat controlled Palm Beach machine to change the outcome thru the invention of the “chad” issue as a means of disallowing valid Bush votes. Gore did not win any recount.

  • daniel.lucas

    nat said:

    “I want to find more sites like RoughlyDrafted that just seem too good to exist!”

    My thoughts exactly. This is the only blog I read on a truly regular basis. I find myself checking the RSS feed several times a day just in case there’s a new article that I can distract myself with instead of doing whatever it is I’m really supposed to be getting on with.

    Mind you, the main reason behind that is of course that I’m a true Mac evangelist and I find myself defending them to so many people, so much of the time that I wish I could be as eloquent as Daniel is at explaining just how good they are and why :)

  • nat

    kent,

    I know how the Electoral College works.

    Bush got Florida, but he did not have the popular vote of the US as a whole – that’s the issue.

  • nat

    daniel.lucas said:
    “I’m a true Mac evangelist and I find myself defending them to so many people, so much of the time that I wish I could be as eloquent as Daniel is at explaining just how good they are and why.”

    I’m in the same boat. At first, I really enjoyed Macs, but I couldn’t tell the guys in my computer certification technician class, in which I had to diagnose countless Windows problems (both created for our correction and those that happened for no reason other than Windows’ instability) why. I had to deal with this one foreign exchange student everyday who debated me using misinformation that sooo many people have been fed, including myself. I can’t remember when I found RoughlyDrafted, but once I did I swear I spent days reading these articles I kept expecting to be bored by. That’s the difference with Daniel here. He can talk about complicated technical topics I might not even understand in a way that makes logical sense. Our shared political views are the icing, though I do not believe tech and politics or any other facet of one’s life should be or can be segregated.

  • dicklacara

    I do not mind being lambasted as a “conservative” but being called a Dell user is beyond the pale…

    I bought my first computer in 1978, an Apple ][… I have never owned a PC!

    Great article, Dan!

  • Nicky G

    The diatribes of some of this site’s readers are insane. I don’t care how much you identify with conservatism, liberalism, socialism, capitalism, anarchism, you name it. There is a lot of truth to the idea that the two-party system, as far as what it’s evolved to today, is deeply flawed and corrupt and needs major change.

    But geez louise — I don’t understand how ANYBODY could look at the Bush administration, the neocons, the vast shredding of the constitution (used to be conservatives loved the constitution?), vast expansion of power in the executive branch, gagging whistle blowers who reveal the extent of high-level corruption in the FBI and other agencies — man, I could go on and on. I just don’t know how ANYONE despite their political leanings could look at what’s going on today and not be SHOCKED and FRIGHTENED by the state that things have come to. It had NOTHING to do with liberalism versus conservatism or anything like that at all, we are talking about a criminal cartel that has deep influence on both parties, is made up of people from different nations, and is fundamentally opposed to the tenets of BOTH conservatism and liberalism. But man, they sure can get away with it so long as they can keep decent folks bickering about completely inane BS!

    *sigh*

  • kent

    Nat,

    Since you understand “Bush got Florida” and you understand “how the electoral college works” then you know Bush won the election. If we had a system based on popular vote, Gore would have won. We don’t. And there are reasons for that.

  • kent

    Nicky G

    In your listing of “shredding of the constitution” you failed to mention the Clinton’s stealing of 500 FBI files of their political opponents, their fabricating of charges against the Travel Office employees so they could put Harry Thomason in this job ( a jury exonerated all after they spent a life’s fortune defending themselves), their use of NSA spy satellites to listen to John Boehner’s cell phone conversations with other Republicans, and the release last week of Jay Rockefellers memo in 1993 encouraging use of government resources to smear opponents of Hillary’s Soviet health care system, including planting innuendos in the media about opponents “lifestyles”. I guess you just forgot these things, or you are OK with crimes by government committed by Democrats. By the way, your diatribe was pathetically weak or real concrete examples of the supposed shredding of the Constitution by Bush. You are lame.

  • Nicky G

    kent, you are nuts — first of all I am not a fan of the Clintons, but guess what, BILL CLINTON IS NOT OUR PRESIDENT NOW, BUSH IS. And I hate to say it, but the scale of it all is so over the top now, it’s on a level that Bill CLinton can’t compare to. I don’t remember Clinton getting us into a MAJOR WAR with the WRONG COUNTRY. Did we even lose ANY soldiers when we invaded Yugoslavia under Clinton? I didn’t support that war at the time, although in retrospect maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing, because now I know how you REALLY mess up a war! Oh and guess what, Bin Laden is still missing, so is the head of the Taliban, but I suppose that’s Billary’s fault? You are a nutball, something about your type must be very susceptible to the charms of fake southern drawl (remember that the Bushes are as Eastern Establishment as any other Power Family in the USA.) I simply do not understand what motivates you, I guess you need something very square to “hate” and for some reason that equals “liberals.” SOme liberals are the same way, they have to hate “conservatives.” Me, I have both liberal and conservative tendencies, don’t tend to support either of the two parties, I just believe in a little thing called the constitution, freedom to do what you want so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, etc. I’m probably closest in some ways to a libertarian, but I do believe there needs to be some government, I mean, you can’t live int he world of today with no government, it just couldn’t work. But people like you HAVE to try to pigeonhole people who don’t agree with you, and because idiots like you happen to be particularly verbal about your insanity, people come to believe they have to put up with it! Guess what, WE DON’T — and just to be ironic we will send the likes of you to the Afghani/Pakistani borderlands, because despite your rantings I think you’d actually fit in quite well with the the type of nutballs who live out there!

  • kent

    NickyG

    Unless you missed it we were attacked and 3000 citizens killed on our soil within one day. Our financial center and our capital were directly attacked by Islamic terrorists who receive direct support from regimes including Iraq. The war was voted on by both parties – Bush did not do this on his own. All current candidates have supported the Iraq war – including Hillary, Obama and Edwards. In case you did not know this, you pathetic product of our public education system, soldiers are killed in war. And I dare say you don’t like the military including the soldiers killed. The soldiers aren’t complaining about the war – it’s left wing loons who don’t even let military recruiters on campus. War involves death. So does failure to confront enemies. The World Trade Center was first attacked, you nut job, in 1992, and Clinton treated that attack as a legal case to be solved by Janet Reno. You are so stupid you don’t deserve freedom.

  • Nicky G

    Oh and kent just for you bucko, here are a couple of primary examples of how Bush and his administration has exacerbated the shredding of the constitution:

    • Asserting “executive privilege” when it comes to releasing ANY documentation relating to ANYTHING they have been up to, and this extends to the administration’s encouragement of agencies like the EPA to do the same. I doubt any other administration in history has prevented the release of such documents to the extent as the Bush administration.

    • The administration’s embrace of executive signing statements, more than all other presidents COMBINED I believe, which essentially assert that they have executive privilege to ignore ANY LAWS THEY WANT TO by virtue of being president!!!

    • The administration’s leaking of a major CIA operation’s existence which was fighting anti nuclear weapon proliferation — while not strictly anti-constitutional, I think it can be argued that these actions were BLATANTLY TREASONOUS.

    • Using Colin Powell and other high-level members of the administration to spread FABRICATED EVIDENCE to get us into a MAJOR WAR WHICH WE ARE LOSING. Again, you could argue that it was just stupid, or bordering on treasonous, if the intentions were really to benefit OTHER foreign powers, which to my mind seems to be the case.

    I could go ON AND ON, and you won’t see me defending the Clintons, that’s for sure! But to say “because the Clintons did/do bad things, the Bush administration is incapable of doing bad things,” well, that’s just pretty much NUTS dude!

  • kent

    NickyG

    Your list is a rambling tirade. Where a specific constitutional violations? None listed.

    According to you Colin Powell is some sort of puppet who will say what Bush tells him to that Powell thinks is untrue? You trash Powell like that.

    Since you are concerned about leaks of security information I suppose you would like to see prosecutions of the New York Times for leaking details of the financial tracking system used by our government to track terrorist finances – all within the law. Their leak destroyed a tool used by the US Govt to protect real citizens. You don’t care about such details – or you are too stupid to know these things.

  • Nicky G

    kent, you have revealed yourself as nothing more than an internet troll with too much time on his/her hands — nobody could possibly be as dumb as you, I just refuse to believe it. There are plenty of people in the military at very high levels who are against the war, they told Bush the only way to win it is to send in a few hundred thousand troops at least, and you know what, he fired them! Either you are just wasting everyone’s time pretending you’re a freak, or you really are way more crazy than I can imagine, which is scary but not worth too much of my time. FOr the record, there is NO CONNECTION between Iraq & Al Qaida and repeating it over and over DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE. Iraq HAD NO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, saying it over and over DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE. Believe you me, I was VERY affected by 9-11, and I support going after anyone who had any level of involvement at all, to the fullest extend possible. BUT OOPS WE KIND OF LET AFGHANISTAN GO, BECAUSE WE WERE TOO BUSY FIGHTING THE WRONG WAR IN IRAQ! D’OH!!!! SO don’t try to label me in any way you IDIOT, I will call you out as such, and you will NOT be able to pigeonhole me into a corner as much as you would like to! Thank GOD in a few years I am convinced history will ask “WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH THOSE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED THAT LEVEL OF INSANITY?!?!” I don’t want to straight up call you a NAZI, but I will say, the last 7 years or so have taught a lot of us how something like the holocaust could have occurred — there are always a bunch of STUPID CHUMPS who will eat up ANY OLD BULLSHIT if it allows them to reinforce their own BIGOTRY, HATRED, and STUPIDITY.

  • kent

    By the way, this started not because I said Bush or other Republicans were incapable of mistakes. An intelligent conversation could include a long laundry list of the administrations mistakes. This pathetic discusssion began with the naming of our administration as “fascist”. This type of name calling by morons who haven’t a clue about what fascism is what destroys dialog. So until you can engage in debate without labeling your opponent as fascist then don’t be surprised if you receive a few names back – you big dope.

  • dicklacara

    Ahh… the Nazi card… so it ends…

  • kent

    NickyG

    Since you are so knowledgeable about Iraq, perhaps you can explain how the prior administration (Clinton) had a stated policy of regime change toward Iraq based on their WMD. And how the intelligence agencies of all UK, Germany and France all supported this. And, of course, knowing this, and knowing of the documented interactions between Iraq and Al Queda and the attack we had already endured and the civilian losses we had already incurred, you would have been OK with the risk. Oh yeah, and both parties voted by a lopsided margin to give the authority to remove Saddam. But you know better. What an ass.

  • Nicky G

    Dude, I can’t continue to chat with someone online who is an obvious loony, it’s over. I hope some sensible people out there can read what you’re saying and realize “man, that is kind of crazy” and maybe be convinced to vote later this year, and speak out against equally crazy stuff when they here it spouted and nobody calls it out for what it is. You are nuts, thank THANK GOD I think a lot of people are catching on and it will be a while before such a level of craziness is allowed to happen again.

    Oh and by the way, I hope you love reaping what you’ve allowed to be sown, when Obama or Hillary has all the executive power the Bush administration invoked uncontestedly for the executive branch — or did you think that only neocons were going to get elected from now on? Yeah that’s right, you’ll be crying about how Hillary “destroyed the Constitution” the first time she invokes the same privileges Bush and his fellow dweebs have been invoking for years now. “WAAAAAH WAAAAH” you’ll whine, and we’ll all laugh at you.

  • kent

    Believe me, when Hillary is in office there will be true constitutional issues – she believes she owns the revenues of oil companies, believes they and drug companies are evil, believes she can nationalize industry, believes she owns your income, and in the words of her husband, “loaths the military”. We get the government we deserve and it looks like we deserve the govt of Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, etc. Don’t get in Hillary’s way or she will treat you as she is treating Barak Obama – the uppity black guy that both Clinton’s are lying about left and right to win the primary.

  • s00p3rd00d

    Kent –

    Unfortunately you are misinformed with regard to the 2000 election. Don’t feel bad, you aren’t alone, as our friends in the so-called liberal media have ensured. A recount in Florida never occurred. It would have if the Supreme Court hadn’t short-circuited the Constitutional process in order to declare Mr. Bush President. By the way, chads are, and always have been, an issue with punch card voting systems and have nothing to do with Palm Beach. You’re thinking of the butterfly ballot, a completely unrelated issue that exacerbated the Florida voting problems.

    As for your Clinton conspiracies … I don’t even know where to start. What is it about Bill and Hillary that get Republicans so worked up? As a certified far-leftist, I can assure you that the Clinton are, to my disappointment, standard moderate-liberal corporate Democrats – not the crazed socialists you fear (and I long for). But I guess that’s the point, eh? You declare the Clintons (who are slightly left of Nixon) Communist and you shift the “center” way over to the right, leaving no room for socialism (Western European or otherwise).

    Bringing it back for Daniel … Microsoft, much like the “GOP” and its Authoritarian foot soldiers, are in the business of smothering alternatives in order to prevent honest, open and fair comparisons.

  • UrbanBard

    Nicky G, I have some disagreements to your statements. I doubt of their accuracy. Many Leftist contentions about the Bush adminstration have been disproved. You must not have gotten the memo. It is not my responsibility to support your contentions; it is yours. Let me look at you examples:

    1. It is often routine for the papers of an administration to held for twenty years to avoid embarrassment. I understand that the Clinton papers have been held up until after the 2008 election. This practice is nowhere in the constitution, but is merely a presidential custom. How this shreds the constitution, I don’t know.

    2. Executive signing statements are instructions to the executive branch on how to implement a law. Such statements are necessary because not even Congress knows what is in these bulls. Since Executive signing statements are Constitutional, how is more or less of them harming anything?

    BTW, the declaring a law unConstitutional is not a prerogative of just the judiciary. The Constitution indicates that all branches have that power. It’s called checks and balance.

    3. Armatige, not anyone in the White House, told Novak all about Valerie Plame. Armitage was in the State Department and was known to be antiwar. The bureucracy is so huge that disaffected bureucrats can thwart the White House’s plans. The President did not have to out Plame since she had alredy been outted six years before. Her husband, Joe Wilson, was a liar as the Senate select Intellegence Committee proved.

    There were hearings on this. If any laws could be proven to be broken, then Fitzgerald would have indicted the person. I must assume that this was a tempest in a teapot.

    4. I dispute this contention entirely. It is a Leftist tissue of lies. America was already at war and had be since Saddam Hussein broke in 1995 his cease fire agreement in UN Resolution 687. Nothing was done in the mean time because the country was waiting for a Republican president to be elected. Clinton got congress to authorize the Iraqi Liberation act, but he appropriated no money, nor moved any troop to the Iraq border.

    Nor are we losing the war in Iraq. The proof is that there is no news out of Iraq these days. This is typical Leftist ignorance.

    You have been listening too long to the Mainstream Media. You are gullible and are swallowing their lies and spin without question.

  • UrbanBard

    This is exactly why I wish Daniel would stop putting Political material in his technical articles. Not only is it that he is in error, but it prompts people to reply. It is not as though anyone here will likely change their minds, so why stir this up this fuss?

    So, why did I reply? I did so as a public service. To quote Edmond Burke, “All that is necessary for evil to win is for good men to do nothing.” So, I reply to blatant errors and political propaganda.

  • Nicky G

    UrbanBard, just calling me a liberal does not make it so, sorry to disappoint you. And I’m sorry dude, if you can’t look at the Bush administration and say to yourself “criminal stooges” I simply don’t know what your problem is. Sometimes I guess things that are SO OBVIOUS are actually oblivious to some people, it’s funny how it works that way. But hey, call me a liberal if you want, even though I don’t believe most of what I read in the “liberal media” (HAHAHAHAH what a ridiculous notion!) and have many opinions that are contrary to socialistic policies. I guess also that folks with simple minds can’t understand how sometimes some things can’t be black or white, but might be shades of grey, and that maybe BOTH parties have major problems and the main thing that needs to be fixed is the system itself. No, I guess “conservatives” (whatever that means) can do no wrong, and only the Clintons and their communist stooges (yeah, right) are the ones capable of doing anything untoward. Sure, if that’s how your simplistic mind needs to understand things, so be it.

  • Nicky G

    OK UrbanBard, only you can correct other people’s lies, but everyone else should listen to you and bow. Yes, BOW DOWN TO URBANBARD, ONLY HE IS RIGHT. Give me a freaking break dude, you take yourself way too seriously. People like you and Kent, there’s a place for your ilk, it’s called THE LOONY BIN. I can’t possibly imagine what could motivate a person to stand SO STRONGLY behind a single point of view — I guess it’s that you don’t actually have to think at all, and some people are lazy like that? You can take all your cues from the Fox News talking points and not actually have to put together anything yourself. I guess mental weaklings would tend to gravitate toward that way of doing things, it sure makes life easier. YAY BUSH ADMINISTRATION GOOD CLINTONS BAD YAAAY. Too bad it’s ridiculous and boring.

    Hmmm, maybe guys like you are really just bots programmed to repeat Fox News talking points ad nauseam, that I could actually believe, and it would explain a hell of a lot…

  • s00p3rd00d

    UrbanBard,

    Wow.

    1. What you’re referring to are archival documents, the “work product” of the White House, which are withheld from immediate release following every administration since Nixon (whose treasonous behavior necessitated new federal law). And, as a matter of fact, one of the first Executive Orders Bush enacted was re-classifying the archives of the Reagan/BushI White House, which were on the verge of release.

    What nat is referring to is the refusal of the current Administration to cooperate with Congressional oversight. See the Energy panel, U.S. Attorneys, and missing e-mail scandals for some egregious violations. Congressional oversight, “[i]t’s called checks and balance.”

    2. I agree, every member of Congress should read every word of every bill they pass – that is their job. Signing statements, however, are not at all routine.

    For your own edification, *only* the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. That was what all that Marbury v. Madison jazz was about. A quick primer: 1) Congress enacts laws 2) the Executive enforces laws 3) the Judiciary referee the process.

    3. “Scooter” Libby.

    4. I thought the U.N. was a bunch of no-good commies, here to take our guns and force us to watch French film? No? You can’t honestly believe this stuff. Did you give one moment’s thought to Iraq between the Gulf War and our invasion? Of course not.

    Please tell me what, exactly, we’re “winning” in Iraq?

  • UrbanBard

    Nicky G, I don’t know you. All I can do is judge you by your actions. I’m guessing that you are a Left Libertarian. The difference between us is that I believe we need to win this war. Even a half assed attempt is better than no attempt at all.

    All Governments are conspiracy against the public. A Democratic adminstritation is no less so.

    There is not reason to be insulting. All that does is presude me that I’ve won. Mine is a reasoned position.

    Nor am I lacking in intellegence; I could join Mensa if I chose. I’m just not a joiner.

    Many things are black and white in this world; there is right and wrong. But with governments, because they natually amoral, we must do what is pragmatic. The question is what works. Appeasment does not work, Deplomacy had been tried and failed. Doing nothing got us attecked on 9//11. What alterative is there that we have not tried?

    Certainly Conservative can do wrong, but that needs to be proven. Making alligations is not enough.

    Yes, the Bush admistration made many mistake, but that is Standard Operating Proceedure in war. This is a new kind of enemy, so methods need to be tried to see what works.

    Only an idiot mocks his opponent.

    I am quite willing to make my case, but the Left gives up after they run out of talking points.

  • Marian

    I personally am outraged about what’s happening in this country. I am outraged about what the Bush administration did (and it’s doing) to this country.

    I consider Daniel being very soft with the hypocritical social conservatives that run this country and want to dictate what’s wrong and what’s right for all of us. I consider Daniel being very soft with the Bushies in his commentaries. That’s probably because he tries a lot not to mix politics with tech. But frankly, sometimes they are mixed by our politicians and one cannot abstain from talking about it.

  • UrbanBard

    Thank you for you polite reply, s00p3rd00d.

    I merely disputed that his examples were shredding the constitution. They seem mere petty politics.

    1. Is using Executive signing statements against the law? No. So, why is the Bush administration doing it? I suspect it is that Bush knows that he has a hostile Press and doesn’t want to give them ammunition. The government changes over time. So what?

    The President has powers granted to him by article II of the Constitution. Firing the US Attorneys is one, since they serve at the pleasure of the president. You need to be more specific about the other allegations.

    2. Who decides what is routine? Since these are part of the executive branch, I’d say that the President decides. If you say differently, what is your case? Does the President serve at the pleasure of Congress? I think not.

    You are wrong about it being “only” the Supreme Court. The founding fathers never envisioned such a power for the court. This was usurpation of power that has grown over the year. Judicial Activism needs to cut back. The best ways are two fold. We need “Originalist” on the court and have Congress to trim their excesses. Both require that the Conservatives be in power for some time.

    3. Scooter Libby was not convicted of any crime associated with the Plame case. There was a different between Scooter’s recollections and a reporter’s notes. The grand jury chose to believe the reporter and put a malignant spin on that difference. I suspect that Libby was a scapegoat; Fitzgerald needed some one to charge.

    Could Fitzgerald have charged Armatige for leaking information about Plame to Novak? Sure. But, Armitige is a Liberal and antiwar, so he couldn’t do that.

    4. I doesn’t matter if I gave any thought to the war in the meantime. If an organization will not enforce it’s edicts then, it has no reason to exist.

    I am conflicted over this. I’d prefer that the UN die a swift death by going the way of the League of Nations.

    I believe that Bush and Colin Powell made a mistake by going back to the UN. It was already documented that Saddam had broken the cease fire.

    A lapse of time means nothing. If you break your parole, you are going back to jail whether it is this instant or twelve year later.

    Are we winning? Yes. Did you read General Patreaus remarks to congress? Have you heard about the surge? Casualties of our troops and Iraqi civilians are the lowest in two years. Even bin Laden in his last tape admitted that al Qaeda is losing in Iraq. The Sunni’s are no longer fighting the government. The worse fighting is in Baghdad and bombings are way down.

    The Iraqi Government has been working out the mechanism to gain a peaceful society. The Sunni refugees are coming back home because they no longer fear a civil war.

    The Parliament recently pardoned the lower ranking Ba’athist party members. There is less gridlock in the Iraqi Parliament than in the US Congress. I know that you haven’t heard any of this. The Mainstream Media is hushing it up.

  • s00p3rd00d

    UrbanBard,

    1. Signing statements are not against the “law” because they aren’t real. There is no Constitutional provision for signing statements. The President carries out laws that Congress passes. The end. His *only* say in the matter is by veto. Question: when Bill Clinton was President, the line item veto was pilloried by Republicans – how is this at all different?

    As for the U.S. Attorneys, the President most certainly does not have the right to fire Justice Dept. employees for *not* subverting the law, which is what was happening. The Congress was attempting to investigate the firings, and the Administration refused to cooperate. That is the problem. Even if there was no wrongdoing, the Congress has an absolute right of oversight. I suspect when a Democrat regains the White House this will become apparent to you.

    2. As a matter of fact, the President does serve at the pleasure of Congress. That is why the Constitution lays out a clear process for how Congress can go about impeaching one for high crimes and misdemeanors.

    Are you disputing the finding in Marbury v. Madison? As for your contention about the Founders’ intent, please see Federalist #78. As for “originalism”, if it’s so great, why do you endorse patently unconstitutional power grabs by the Executive branch?

    3. “Scooter” Libby was convicted of lying to a jury about *outing Valerie Plame’s undercover identity to reporters*. I don’t know how much more “associated with the Plame case” it could be.

    4. I didn’t ask *if* we’re “winning”, I asked *what* we’re “winning”. Violence in Iraq back down to Saddam-era levels? *Fewer* car bombings? Not quite as many more dead people? These are not accomplishments. There can be no stabilization of Iraq until we’re gone, since *we caused the destabilization*.

    You’re obviously an American patriot … what exactly would *you* do if China invaded the U.S. tomorrow in order to spread democracy? How about if your friends were routinely killed by aerial bombings and you were afraid to go outside, couldn’t find a job in the devastated economy and needed to go through six check points where you are searched at gunpoint just to visit your parents?

  • Pingback: Who Was the Biggest Loser at Macworld? — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()