How Apple screwed up AppleTV

AppleTV is Apple’s hardware “set top box”. You hook it up to your TV, the Internet and your stereo and you can listen to music and podcasts, buy and watch movies, watch youtube, look at flickr photos and more. It’s a nice little box.

But it could be a great little box if Apple hadn’t screwed up a few major things. These include:

  1. You can’t use a keyboard and mouse. It has USB and Mac OS X running inside of it, but if you don’t have a little white remote, you can’t operate it.
  2. Nor can you use it for web/email/etc. Major fuckup.
  3. It doesn’t have a DVD player in it. WTF? Those things cost like $80 and they are very slim. If their heads are not up their asses, the next AppleTV will have a Blu-Ray drive.
  4. DRM.
  5. The relative paucity of available movies and TV shows. There’s a lot, but it is a small fraction of what it should be.
  6. The lack of other web content. Boxee might eat Apple’s lunch if they don’t get on it. We want to watch Hulu, BitTorrent, Flash — all of it.

With all that said, I love the AppleTV and it is a glimpse of things to come. We won’t talk about “TVs” and “computers” in the future, there will just be displays and things we show on them*. The network will certainly be the delivery mechanism.

It is getting more common for people to gather around a computer to look at photos or watch video clips. The giant TVs that people have these days are the perfect place to do that. In many ways, once again, Apple has realized this first. So the AppleTV is, perhaps, an imperfect step in the right direction.

* The ancient X-Windows system for Unix got it right by totally separating the notion of display/keyboard/mouse with the physical system. Linux makes use of this to this day.

How Apple screwed up AppleTV

Bah AND Humbug

I’m finding the Holiday season quite annoying this year. I have very fond memories of Christmas when I was a kid and I do enjoy seeing how much Myles enjoys the holidays. He sings Christmas carols and watches the holiday specials and loves the Christmas lights.

The bah humbug, for me, comes from the fact that Christmas has become this unwieldy cultural tradition that lasts a month. Christmas should start on 12/24 and conclude on 12/25. That’s it. No, we have to celebrate Christmas with every possible mother and father every single year. So this year we have my family Christmas on the 20th and then Cindy’s extended family Christmas on the 25th and then Christmas with her Dad on the 26th and then with her Mom on the 27th. That is just ridiculous.

I also hate the mindless spending that goes on. I don’t buy many Christmas presents. It’s not that I’m not generous, it’s that I hate the spending warfare that goes on. I don’t think we should spend a lot of money at Christmas time. I’d rather get a book or a photo and kids would be fine with one new toy or two. I’m forced practically at gunpoint to bring home a car full of plastic crap every year.

We do this to ourselves. We pile all these events into this one tiny little timeframe because we have escalated what was once an intimate and modest and quaint little holiday into a multi-week hell of running around spending money.

I have no war on Christmas on philosophical grounds. I’m an atheist and I don’t care who celebrates what, when or how. But I do feel a minor war coming on practical grounds. We’ve gone too far. It’s not fun anymore. I’d prefer the holidays be…smaller.

Bah AND Humbug

Photographers suck

(OK, sorry for the inflammatory title — just trying to get your attention!)

I think the financial model that most photographers adopt is ridiculous. The problem is, they don’t charge for what I do value and they charge a lot for what I don’t value. I have 2 examples to illustrate this.

We went to Smirk for a photo shoot with the kids. It was $100 for the sitting. We went there and there was a nice studio with lights and equipment and the photographer and her assistant did a nice job with the kids. It took about 30 minutes.

Then it came time to buy photos. First of all, they didn’t want to give us any proofs. They wanted us to come to their studio to choose photos. My wife insisted they give us proofs so they gave us crappy inkjet proofs on plain paper.

Then the price list — if we wanted a digital copy of a single image, $125! So to get digital copies of 10 photos would be $1250! Are you fucking kidding me? All of the print prices are like this, too. They act like their prints are original works of art that they own.

Here is my objection: Having a studio with lights and equipment is expensive. Having talent to take pictures is something I’m willing to pay for. Charge me for these things which I value! Copying the image to a CD is not something I value. I also don’t consider photographs I paid you to take to be your property, they are my property. That’s why I paid for your time to take the pictures. If you charge me $100 for the things I value and $1250 for the things I don’t value, I will think you are an idiot.

Here’s my other example — we went to a wedding. The wedding party paid a lot of money for a very good photographer. Said photographer then charged $10 per 4×6 print. Know what Apple charges for a 4×6? $0.12. snapfish charges $0.09. Why in God’s name would this photographer, who was paid very well for their time and expertise, charge 100 times the cost of a normal 4×6?

I highly value the skills of great photographers. I will pay for it. But in the age of digital photography, they have to get over this notion that they make money on the prints. The age of darkrooms and hand-crafted prints is over. Charge for the time and the expertise, do not charge for making me a goddamn CD.

Photographers suck

Things greater than yourself

Most of my readers know that I am an atheist. I’ve written about it extensively but let me summarize to say — atheism is a movement of hope, rationale and enjoyment of life. It is not an outlook which is depressing or fatalistic.

There are many people I love in this world but, if push came to shove, it is hard to predict who among them, if any, I would actually die for. It is easy to say that I would die for my awesome wife or my brother or sister but if the moment were to arrive, without time to think about it, I cannot really predict what I would do.

This is not true of my children. I would absolutely and without a moment’s hesitation die for them. My kids are a higher purpose, of a sort, for me. They need me, they love me and they are wonderful lovable little beings. They are without question the most important thing in my life.

I’ve written before about my belief that life without children is a wonderful thing. I don’t think parenthood is necessarily greater than any other lifestyle choice. But once that bridge is crossed I think all but the most selfish losers quickly find their higher purpose in their children.

The tension is — there is much I want to do in my life. I to not intend to be a servant to my children. Yet my life has been unquestionably enriched by their presence.

And finally — I think perhaps the only good thing about religion is that it gives people a little humility about their place in the world. I don’t need religion to give me that, personally, but the realization that there are things more important than yourself is one that is quite necessary in this world.

Things greater than yourself