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User Journal

Journal: Desperately Seeking iTunes Server.

Journal by amper

Apple needs to develop and release an iTunes Server. And I'm not talking about a DAAP server.

While we're at it, let's have an iPhoto Server, as well. And as long as we're wishing, can we rip our DVDs to iTunes, please (legally?)? Maybe this last thing is more of a DVD Forum/MPAA problem, but if any company (aside from Kaleidoscope's loophole) can get this working, Apple is the one. But I'll set that aside for the moment, because my more immediate problem is the lack of a centralized repository for various iTunes libraries.

I'm sick and tired of managing my media manually among several computers and players. It takes way too much time and way too much effort. Right now, I have in operation:

1. An iMac (triple boot Mac OS X, Fedora, XP Pro)
2. A MacBook (triple boot Mac OS X, Fedora, XP Pro)
3. An eMac
4. An iPhone
5. An Apple TV
6. Two 4th gen 40GB iPods (Mine lives in my Jeep, the other is my wife's)
7. A 1st gen 2GB iPod nano (mostly replaced by the iPhone). I really only bought this to stick it in a Tunebuckle.
8. A 1st gen 1GB iPod shuffle (mostly replaced by the iPhone)
9. Two iMac G3's running Mac OS X Server that run my home network off of RAID volumes which hold the main media repository in a "family" account.
10. A Power Mac G5 for music production

But that's just the beginning. Here's what I envision for the future:

1. Another iMac for the family
2. Another iMac for each of my kids (only one, currently)
3. My iMac
4. My MacBook
5. My wife's computer (generally work-issued Windows laptop)
6. My iPhone
7. My wife's iPhone (once the Exchange support is available and her company OK's it)
8. A player in my car (Apple TV ?, Mac mini ?, iPod ? more below...)
9. A player in my wife's car
10. Maybe a third car with another player
11. Apple TV in the home theatre
12. Apple TV in our bedroom
13. Apple TV in the kid's room (one or more)
14. Apple TV in the kitchen
15. A iPod for each kid (one, currently)
16. the two servers, to be replaced with newer machines
17. the music production station

So, you can see that managing iTunes libraries across 18 devices with possibly multiple user accounts and multiple iTunes Store accounts can be rather unwieldy.

Let me talk about the cars for a few minutes. What I have in my Jeep right now is one of my 4th gen 40GB iPods hooked up to a Kenwood ez500 stereo using Kenwood's KCA-iP500 iPod controller. This lets me keep the iPod in a steel lockbox and control it from the head unit, albeit with limited functionality. I also use an AUX input to connect my iPhone through the line out jack from the Monster charger I use (not really iPhone compatible, but it works). My plan is to eventually install some sort of more full-featured unit, possibly a Mac mini or or an Apple TV hacked with an SSD. This would give me the ability to put the car in the driveway and sync the local library over Wi-Fi. The Kenwood unit also has a Sirius tuner, and I'd like to also add an HD Radio tuner. I may accomplish this by upgrading the head unit to one with a video display, or I may just put in a DIN-space touchscreen to control a computer, leaving the current head unit. I also plan on duplicating this setup in my wife's car, and possibly a third commuter car, since my Jeep is terrible with gas mileage.

The other cumbersome problem I have is with my iPhone. Because I'm trying to keep all the media files in one location, I'm currently using a "family" account to store everything, which syncs up to the Apple TV. I sync the iPhone's Info to my personal account, but sync the media to the family account. But I may want different playlists on different devices, especially because my iPhone only holds 4GB, while my Apple TV holds 40GB, and my computers can hold hundreds of GBs, so keeping everything in one account is less than ideal. Yes, I can sync different playlists to different devices, but then I have to create multiple redundant playlists in one account with mnemonic names to distinguish them, and when dealing with a player like my Kenwood head unit, this is truly annoying.

What I need is a centralized server to keep one or more master media repositories and manage multiple iTunes Store accounts. If I could utilize the iTunes program as a client to a centralized server with access control features, then I could set up an iTunes Store account for different purposes (mine, my wife's, and one for the kids to use), but still be able to share media easily among all devices and user accounts. One of us could buy a song or video from the iTunes store, and then share it with everyone else in the family, or watch it on any particular device we own.

Currently, FairPlay allows us to authorize five computers and any number of players (iPods, iPhones, Apple TVs), and this wouldn't be much of a problem, assuming that a single server authorization would be acceptable to Apple as "one computer".

If I buy a song on the road on my MacBook, iTunes could sync it back to the server repository. If it's something the kids shouldn't have access to, then my wife and I can restrict that track. As far as other access controls, I should be able to associate multiple iTunes Store accounts to the server, and associate allowed iTunes Store accounts with particular server user accounts. I should also be able to restrict computers or devices to only operate through the server (to prevent kids from bypassing purchasing restrictions, say if they have an iPod touch), but still allow certain devices or computers to purchase directly from the iTunes Store (like my iPhone when I'm on the road).

This would necessitate a few changes to Apple's device and client software. The necessary software infrastructure would need to be incorporated into upcoming iTunes and iPod software releases. I can see this as a driver of revenue for Apple in the future. As these devices become more and more a part of our families' lives, we will need easier and more flexible ways of managing our media across multiple spaces. Certainly, from Apple's perspective, they would probably want to incorporate an iTunes Server as part of the Mac OS X Server software package, driving server purchases.

I can also see this as a boon to businesses who are already struggling with users accessing the iTunes Store from corporate workstations. You're not going to entirely stop this behavior, so why not make it more controllable?

If Apple can make managing multiple devices and accounts easier, then consumers are more likely to purchase more devices that can be specialized for the needs of individual users or environments. I see no downside for Apple or the content studios.

We also need the same for iPhoto. My wife has a camera, I have a camera, my daughter has a camera, and we also share photos with friends and family. We need a centralized repository for photos to sync with all these devices, and possibly external iPhoto Servers, since the photos are ours to do with as we please. I think a variant of INNd might do nicely, don't you? Let's keep it FOSS where we can. Apple's good at that. Currently, I'm starting to sync all cameras to the same "family" account, but this is a PITA. I was trying to use Mobile accounts sync'd to my Mac OS X Server to sync my laptop and desktop, but the new iPhoto Library format has been hosing my files. I'm tired of spending so much time and energy manually sharing and synchronizing.

One last comment for now--the 24-hour time limit for watching movies is too short. Please make it at least 48-72 hours. 30 days to start is fine, but 24 hours once you've started is too short. I agree with Woz on this one. That said, I'm very pleased with the quality of the rentals, though 5.1 sound on all movies that had it would be even more welcome. I don't have an HDTV, yet, but things work great through my 480i, 16:9 capable Sony KV-32FS100 hooked up to my Sony 5.1 home theatre system. I'll be upgrading my receiver to accommodate the Apple TV, DVD player, and forthcoming Samsung ATSC/QAM tuner with better ease-of-use.

I lied--one more comment about the DVD ripping. It's really silly that we can't rip DVDs to a personal media server. While I generally deplore DRM, I'm willing to live with it for a little while longer (though not indefinitely, because ultimately it's unworkable) if it means I can at least store my DVDs away so they don't get scratched and watch the ripped file from my iTunes Server. I personally have no interest whatsoever in piracy. I just want my Fair Use Rights. I understand the DVD Forum and MPAA's desire to get the money they deserve, but the current restrictions are overly onerous, and not much of a hindrance to pirates, in any case.

Here's a couple of good links talking about the same topic:

http://blog.hardmac.com/archives/itunes-server (this is from 2005!)

http://www.drury.net.nz/2008/01/31/itunesiphoto-server-your-time-has-come/ (this from earlier this year)

User Journal

Journal: iPhone 2.0

Journal by amper

Well, now that I've gotten my Apple TV Take Two hooked up and watched the March 6 Apple Event podcast, I have a few things to say...

While I certainly applaud the efforts that Apple has made thus far to improve the iPhone, it strikes me as incomprehensible why they have also thus far failed utterly to address most of the original, glaringly obvious, shortcomings of the iPhone software. Furthermore, while I am sure that licensing Microsoft's ActiveSync technology will be a good thing for Microsoft, it is much less certain that it will ultimately be a good thing for Apple.

I having been beating the drum for a decade and more now about the need for the industry as a whole to focus more energy on products that can compete with Microsoft's Exchange platform head-to-head. Superior and inferior products have come and gone, but it is still Exchange that delivers the best experience in an integrated messaging and calendering/scheduling solution, absent the continuation of Netscape SuiteSpot. What makes this even more problematic is that Apple itself now has all the tools it needs to build a standards-based full-fledged competitor to Exchange with it's integration of OpenLDAP, Postfix, Cyrus IMAP, and Darwin Calendar Server in Mac OS X Server v10.5, and yet, rather than configure the iPhone so that it can make direct connections to iCal Server, Apple elects to bow before the beast?

Certainly, there is much money involved in selling iPhones into the enterprise, but I submit that Apple should be more concerned with getting in the back door rather than pleasing corporate IT managers and bean counters. This is not the sort of revolutionary thinking that we have come to expect from Apple.

That aside, let me return to my original point about the various and sundry shortcomings of the iPhone, as I related in my original journal entries on the iPhone...

1. No USB Disk mode. Still not available.
2. No tethering. Still not available.
3. No user widgets. Finally, we have the iPhone SDK, closely similar to what I expected.
4. The contract cancellation fee. Still a problem.
5. No Bluetooth sync, No Bluetooth file transfer. Still not available.
6. No Wi-Fi sync. Still not available.
7. No infrared. OK, this is a hardware feature, but I'm sticking with my original list here, *and* I now have an Apple TV.
8. No 3G. Again, a hardware feature, but more on this later...
9. No voice dialing. Still not available.
10. No sync of Notes. Still not available.
11. No Flash, No Java. OK, Sun's committed to Java on the iPhone, but SJ's explanation on No Flash rings hollow. Let's face facts here, the iPhone needs Flash, and if Adobe's not up to making it work, then Apple needs to invest in getting it done.
12. No RSS Feed reader. Yes, my RSS bookmarks *did* transfer over from Safari, but they only work through Apple's servers. Not ideal.
13. Only 200 messages in Mail. Still a problem.
14. No removable battery. Another hardware feature, about which more below...
15. No voice recorder. Still not available.
16. Desktop computer required. Still a problem, especially as noted before and above concerning iCal Server.
17. No QuickTime in the browser. Still not available, as far as I can tell.
18. YouTube. I still would have rather seen a custom movie trailer client with local theatre lookups and ticket purchasing.
19. The camera on the back, No iChat AV client. Again, this is more of a hardware thing...
20. No 802.11n. Another hardware thing...
21. No insurance. Still not available.

I will reiterate that the software features I think the iPhone suffers from the lack thereof that were missing from it at the launch date are mostly items that would have required a relatively insignificant amount of effort to address, compared to the total effort expended on the iPhone. While I am certain that the SDK is a critical item, I am equally certain that the lack of the SDK has not been a significant hindrance to iPhone adoption, and had Apple spent the intervening nine months addressing the issues above, the lack of an SDK would have been even less significant.

Let me now turn to the hardware problems. If there is one thing that I have discovered about the iPhone (oh, did I mention that I ended up with a iPhone being given to me?) in the last four or five months of usage, it's this--it's too thin. I can't hold the thing reliably without it slipping out of my hand because there is insufficient surface area on the sides to properly grip the device. Had Apple made the iPhone just a smidge thicker, it could have had much more internal space to incorporate at least some, if not all the hardware features I list above without dramatically impacting the aesthetic values of the iPhone.

No 3G? The official line is battery life was a problem. A thicker iPhone could have had a bigger battery to compensate.

No removable battery? While Apple surely has a battery replacement program, that means that I'm without a iPhone while the battery gets replaced. The bigger problem is that due to the insufficient battery life, especially when the software goes into a loop or I'm using Bluetooth, I'm constantly attached to a charger. This is truly cumbersome. Give me a swappable battery and a charging cradle for a spare.

No 802.11n? I'm probably going to move to a new AirPort Extreme network in my house soon, replacing my WRT54G's running DD-WRT. What with my iMac, MacBook, and Apple TV all supporting 802.11n, it's about time to upgrade, especially since I use network home directories for several of my accounts. While I'm sure the inclusion of 802.11n would probably impact battery life, I'm also sure that had the thing incorporated a user-swappable, larger battery, this would not be a problem.

The camera situation? I'm never going to use my iPhone as a real camera when for $200 or less I can get a camera that far outshines any cell phone camera. Even the $200 Sony U20 2.0 Mpixel I purchased in 2003 is incomparably better, and has user-swappable memory and AAA rechargeable batteries that last a long, long time. Now, I'm using a $200 Canon A540 5.0 Mpixel camera, again with user-swappable memory and AA rechargeables. My U20 is broken, but since there still isn't a comparable unit on the market, I'm going to send it back to Sony for repair. It's the best travel snapshot camera I've ever seen. I would have stuck with Sony, as I've always been pleased with their cameras, but I purchased a Nokia 770 in the meanhile, and I wanted memory compatibility with a camera. The RS-MMC cards for the Nokia work great in the Canon.

Which means, of course, that the only purpose I really have for the camera in my cell phone is for quickie video conferencing, so put the damn camera on the front, thank you very much.

Well, at least we'll finally get new apps, but come on Apple, get on the ball with the annoyances!

User Journal

Journal: The Right Price.

Journal by amper

OK, my friend Doug over at Polar Microsystems just let me know about the new Apple news. I haven't really been paying attention this week, because I've been doing other more importnat stuff.

First of all, I was already considering buying a refurb iPhone. I bought a refurb iPod nano 2GB (1st gen) right after the 2G nano was announced, and the experience I've had with it was perfect, so I have no problem buying a refurb iPhone. Second, the remaining stock of 4GB iPhones is selling at $299. Since I really don't forsee using the iPhone as a primary music player, I don't have much problem with a non-upgradeable 4GB of memory, especially since Apple *still* hasn't released an SDK. Besides, at $299, I won't care so much about upgrading in the future. $299 and $399 are the right prices for this phone, considering the lack of insurance available. $599 was just silly, given the problems with the iPhone.

I'm *still* waiting for significant software upgrades, though.

The iPod touch is nice, but with Bluetooth and email, it doesn't make sense for me. The camera I can live without, although it would have been nice.

The iPod classic is something I didn't see coming. I rather thought that Apple would go with an iPod touch with a HDD.

The new iPod nano is cool, but I don't really have any desire to watch video on such a small screen. The only reason I bought the nano in the first place was just to show off pictures and have an auxiliary player for buying adding media while on the road without my primary iTunes library. Plus, at $99 for my refurb, it entirely replaced my 1G iPod shuffle for that purpose.

So, my new lineup will probably be either a 4GB iPhone or 8GB refurb (currently $349), and an 80GB iPod classic, once the refurbs start coming out. My 4G 40GB iPod will be handed off to a family member, and my 1G 2GB nano will remain in service. My 1G 1GB shuffle will be reduced to USB drive status.

User Journal

Journal: And #21, No Insurance. This is a deal breaker.

Journal by amper

I just found out that although Apple will, in fact, be offering an AppleCare program for the iPhone, no standard cell phone insurance coverage is available through AT&T. This is absolutely outrageous! I've always had insurance coverage on my phones, which up to this point have been Palm phones that sell in the area of $500, so I don't buy AT&T lame explanation that the insurance coverage would be "too expensive to be marketable". What do you take me for, a rube? Do you think I just fell off the turnip truck yesterday?

Phones get dropped. Phones mysteriously break. I've used my insurance three times in the last decade or so to get broken phones replaced. The only reason my wife hasn't used hers is because we've been lucky that when I eventually upgraded my phone, I was able to offer her my old one as a back up.

We started out with cheapy Motorola's, and then I upgraded to a Kyocera 6035 Palm phone. My wife's Motorola one day started making alarming noises at her for no apparent reason. Luckily, I was able to give her my old Motorola to replace hers. I used the insurance on my 6035 twice. The first time, I dropped it and broke the glass screen. The second time, the microphone mysteriously quit working. Both times, a $35 fee replaced a $500 phone. Now, we both have Samsung SPH-i500 Palm phones, and word on the street is that these will be replaced with Treo 650's if damaged, because stock of i500's has finally dried up.

I'm careful with my phones. I really am. But, sometimes things happen, and that's why I'm happy to pay for the insurance. If I were using a chepo phone again, I wouldn't bother, but a $500-plus phone that also dictates you buy at least a hundred dollars in accessories means you *need* to have insurance.

I'm going to look into the reports of third-party insurance coverage. Our car insurance is with State Farm, and they supposedly are offering a "personal items" policy that will cover the iPhone. If I can't get insurance for the iPhone at a reasonable price, I won't be buying one. Period.

User Journal

Journal: Apple can't possibly be *that* stupid. 20 iPhone Missteps.

Journal by amper

Well, it's finally here, and the world has had a couple of weeks to prod at the new baby, so I think it's time to come out of the closet. You see, there's a lot to like about the iPhone, but there's also quite a lot to hate about the iPhone. I myself am an avid proponent of Apple products, but I find myself scratching my head as to some of the design, interface, and marketing choices made by Apple and AT&T for the iPhone.

So much more could have been done with this product that it absolutely boggles the mind why so many features are missing! Granted, some are missing by design, because of the limitations imposed upon the device by the bean polishers at The Big "T", but when you look at other missing features, you just have to scratch your head and think, "WTF?" Most of the problems with the iPhone could be solved with software updates, but it remains to be seen whether or not such things will exist, and how frequent they may be if they appear.

1. No USB Disk Mode. It's bad enough that the iPhone doesn't have a memory card slot, even though it does have more internal storage than just about any other phone out there, but iPods have had this functionality since Day One, and it's lack here is truly puzzling. It's hard to imagine, for me anyway, what possible downside there could be to AT&T by including this feature, so why the absence? BTW, don't even get me started on the discontinuation of FireWire support in iPods...but this also means no downloading files on the iPhone, then later transferring them to my desktop.

2. No tethering. Now, this really just pisses me off. I don't ever use a Bluetooth phone as my primary Internet connection, but there are times that I need it. Because of this, I'll have to maintain a second phone just for the occasional, but critical, remote Internet access.

3. No user widgets. I really thought that Apple wasn't serious when they said "Web 2.0". It's quite clear that iPhone widgets are exactly the same as Dashboard widgets, so why can't I sync widgets from my desktop machine? Perhaps this will happen with Mac OS X v10.5?

4. The contract cancellation fee. This is just usurious and insulting. Carriers have always justified their cancellation fees by subsudizing the hardware, but the iPhone has no such subsidy.

5. No Bluetooth synchronization, and no Bluetooth file transfer. Why bother with a Bluetooth radio at all? Just so you can use a headset? Bluetooth headsets are more of a PITA than a help. Somewhere around here, I have a Samsung WEP200. I lost it because I stopped using it because the battery life was pathetic.

6. No Wi-Fi synchronization. Less of a problem then the lack of Bluetooth sync, because the Wi-Fi is otherwise useful.

7. No Infrared. Please, please, please let me do away with every infrared remote in my life, starting with the Apple units included with my iMac and MacBook (and future AppleTV).

8. No HSDPA. I understand Apple's explanation, but I don't buy it. Maybe this can be a firmware upgrade. I read somewhere that Palm was doing this with one of the Treo's, so we can only hope. (Before you get all up in arms about differing radios for EDGE and HSDPA, rest assured I know at least a little bit about software defined radios)

9. No voice dialing. In a phone without physical buttons? Are they insane?

10. No synchronization of text notes. What good is it if I can make notes on the iPhone, but not share them with my desktop?

11. No Flash and No Java. I have hopes that Adobe will eventually offer Flash for the iPhone, but the lack of a J2ME environment is upsetting. Not that I'm the biggest fan of Java in general, or J2ME, specifically, but it works for some things.

12. No RSS feed reader. This really should have been part of the browser, just as it is in the desktop Safari. I use the RSS feed reader on my Nokia 770 all the time, despite its limitations.

13. Only 200 messages per IMAP account. This is patently ridiculous. The whole point of IMAP is that the mail can be stored on the server, and only the headers need come down to the client until a specific message is desired. Of course, this doesn't even begin to address the spam question, which is the biggest problem facing mobile email users. Until somebody gets a decent Bayesian filter setup that will work comfortably on a mobile, mobile email isn't very useful at all.

14. No removable battery. OK, so it has decent battery life, but I've grown accustomed over the years with my Palm phones to keeping a extra battery in the cradle. A low battery means a "swap and go", rather than a wire tether.

15. No voice recorder. I don't even use this often, but it's a really nice feature to have in my Samsung SPH-i500 Palm phone. It should be in the iPhone.

16. Desktop computer required. Come one, guys, it's 2007 already. The iPhone has the power to be a completely stand-alone system. Why isn't it? Why can't I access a Darwin Calendar Server with it directly? Again, when Mac OS X Server v 10.5 comes out, maybe this will change, but I'm not holding my breath.

17. No QuickTime in the browser. And this thing was made by Apple???

18. YouTube. Fsck YouTube. I would have been more impressed with a custom movie trailer client for Apple's trailer site.

19. The camera is on the back. Which is fine for taking pictures (What, you don't already own a digital camera that takes even better pictures?), but rules out videoconferencing, which also means...No iChat AV client. Of course, Apple would really need an iChat AV client for Windows, first. I've asked for it, and I'm still waiting.

20. No 802.11n. This is really going to make people angry in a couple of years, unless a new iPhone model that includes "n" appears and is such a significant upgrade that you'd be silly to stick with Version 1.0.

What really burns my ass about all this is that we can all see the potential of the iPhone, and if we can see it, Apple can see it, too. It's not a phone, it's a handheld computer that happens to have a phone built-in.

Everything else the iPhone does, it does so well that it makes you wonder what the people at Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson, and the rest having been doing all these years. So, in the end, I'll probably get one. Right now, I'm sitting on the cash desperately trying not to rush out to the AT&T or Apple store to get one. I think perhaps I'll wait until the appearance of a significant software update, just to reassure myself that Apple will actually produce them.

User Journal

Journal: Motorola Moves Emergency Comms to MS Platform

Journal by amper

Another submission...

C|Net is reporting that "Motorola plans to enhance the reliability of its emergency services software applications by integrating them on the Microsoft platform". Fantastic...now we can expect our public service and emergency first responders to expose our public safety to the legendary robustness and security of Microsoft software, not to mention locking our critical public safety services into the infamous Microsoft upgrade lockstep machine. Is it just me, or does this seem like an amazingly Bad Idea?

Update-rejected again. I'm beginning to think that the submission editors have something against me...

User Journal

Journal: Another rejected submission.

Journal by amper

What with all the talk about dubious methods of increasing fuel-efficiency, I thought Slashdot readers might be interested to know that Volkswagen has announced two new engines that look quite amazing on paper. First up is a 170 horsepower supercharged and turbocharged 1.4 litre petrol engine that is capable of 39 MPG city/48 MPG highway. The other engine is a 170 horsepower 2.0 litre direct-injection turbo diesel that can get 48 MPG (driving type not specified). Both engines will be used in the upcoming Golf GT. The gas engine runs at 2.5 bars of boost on top of a 10:1 compression ratio! Yum!

User Journal

Journal: Fedora Core 4 on ThinkPad T30 w/ WPA-PSK 802.11b

Journal by amper

Well, I spent the day installing Fedora Core 4 on a borrowed IBM ThinkPad T30 (2366-96U). Also managed to update the firmware on a Prism chipset-based Siemens/Speedstream SS1021 card to v1.1.1 primary and v1.8.2 secondary using the Host AP package (which requires later firmware than what I had to run WPA), and got everything connected to my WPA network. Pretty cool. I'm typing this from the ThinkPad right now.

At least I finally found a use for the old Speedstream card which didn't work with WPA under Windows XP...

User Journal

Journal: A recent Ask Slashdot submission...

Journal by amper

Just in case it gets rejected, I'm archiving this here in the hopes that it may help to spur further debate.

I have found my self wondering of late whether or not the Moderation system of Slashdot (meaning, this site in particular, as opposed to the underlying implementation in Slashcode) would be more effective if a few changes were made.

For instance, it seems to me from my own experience, that readers are more likely to post in stories that cover a field in which the reader may have a particular expertise, yet the moderation system disallows those same posters from moderating any posts under the same topic. Would it not be more effective to allow moderation to all posts but one's own? Why isn't the moderation system open to all logged in users at all times? Why are we limited to five moderation points at a time? Why is the moderation scale limited to -1 through +5? Why are we limited to single point changes?

Personally, I have my preferences set to display +4 and above, and most of my own moderation tends to be downward, as I personally feel it is of more value to the community for me to down-mod those posts which I feel do not deserve a 4 or 5 rating. I take my moderation very seriously, and I do not mod on a whim. In fact, many times when I am awarded moderation points, I end up allowing them to expire because I do not feel any affinity for the topics currently being discussed, I do not possess enough expertise in the topics being discussed, or I want to particpate in a debate. Again, those discussions I join tend to be those in which I have particular interest or expertise, and I suspect that many posters here would tell similar tales.

I submit that changing the moderation system to -2 to +10 would result in a more accurate characterization of the relative quality level of the posts I see. I also think that we need a "-2, Incorrect" moderation type for posts that contain information that is just downright wrong, and perhaps a "+2, Definitive" moderation type for stellar examples. Perhaps other new moderation types would also help. Could we not open the moderation to all users at all times and do away with the five points at a time limitation by simply not allowing a particular user to moderate a particular post more than once?

I've read the FAQ section on moderation many times, and it still leaves me a bit disappointed. As a 5-digit UID Slashdotter (just a little way over 15 bits at #33785), I've seen Slashdot go through many different phases, and I'm wondering:

Where does the Slashdot community stand on these issues in 2005?

User Journal

Journal: The Return of the Mac

Journal by amper

Paul Graham's recent article, "The Return of the Mac", as covered here on Slashdot caused me to ruminate a bit on my own travels in the world of technology. I've been playing with computers ever since the first TRS-80's hit my local Radio Shack back in the 1970's. It was a common occurance for me to ditch my mother during trips to the local shopping mall and head straight to the Shack so I could check out silly bits of primitive software on a 4K TRS-80 Model I.

Of course, my real entry into the world of computing didn't come until 1986, when I matriculated at the esteemed Carnegie-Mellon University, despite my ownership, beginning in 1982, of an Atari 800 with 10K of ROM and 48K of RAM.

What made my experience at CMU interesting was the combination of Macintosh SE computers and the Andrew System, which was in development at the time on a mixture of systems, including the IBM PC RT, which would eventually morph its way into the RS/6000 series of workstation-class machines. Although my budding design skills were nutured by the Macintosh environment, my early exposure to the UNIX-based OS of the Andrew System and the Internet access that came with it left me hungering for much more than the simple Mac could provide at the time.

Over the years, while most of my artistic brethren found themselves captivated by the possibilites of Mac-based Desktop Publishing in the midst of the impending Internet explosion of the mid-90's, I began to immerse myself more and more in the inner workings of the Internet, starting with a simple shell account on a SunOS box at one of the first ISP's that offered accounts to the general public (well, at least those of the general public who gave two beans about the Internet in 1992) accessed via a 1200 baud modem. 9600 baud modems were the thing of the day, but I had gotten my 1200 baud device for free.

This all ended up with my heading up a new ISP that was one of the first to offer exclusively broadband service, through a combination of ISDN and T1 accounts. DSL was an up and coming technology at the time, but it would seem that Bell Atlantic was catching on pretty quickly to the use of "alarm circuits", over which it was at one time possible to provision 768Kbps circuits for the measly price of about $40 a year, plus the cost of two DSL modems.

By the time Steve Jobs completed his return to Apple Computer and installed my old schoolmate Avi Tevanian and his Mach Kernel in the role of Mac OS X, I had been successfully running Linux, MkLinux, Darwin, and OpenBSD on various machines, not to mention running the ISP almost exclusively on Windows NT (no mean feat in the mid-90's, but also helped by the existance of Netscape's server applications). Not that NT was my choice--the ISP was part of a systems integration house, and the suits wanted to prove it could be done. I think the most valuable experience I got out of it was learning to run a multi-hosting LDAP server.

Anyway, it makes me smile to see all these *nix hackers coming over to the Mac side of things, since I spent so much time using Macs as my workhorses, but secretly wishing for the power of UNIX that I had been exposed to at college. Through my association with a graphic arts service bureau that used Canon products heavily, I had also been exposed to NeXTSTEP, which made the Windows 3.11 of the time look extremely primitive, and rightly so. Too bad my Canon rep was never able to swing me a copy of OpenSTEP...not that I could have afforded a 486, though.

The first Mac I ever owned was a IIsi, which I bought for $900 the week after it was discontinued. I really wanted it loaded with A/UX, but that was quite expensive in those days--much more than I could afford on my pathetic salary of the time. 9MB of RAM and a 127MB Quantum LPS HDD went a long way in those days!

I miss the old days of Apple. Someplace around here, I have a copy on a SyQuest cart of a fantastic little Lisp multi-media development environment that never made it out of Apple's Development Labs. That was the thing that got me hooked on Paul Graham's Lisp books. Tonight, I ordered his "Hackers and Painters" from Amazon in tribute to his new essay. I never did pick up a copy of Macintosh Common Lisp (again, the lack of funds rears its ugly head).

I fear I may never fully understand the various uses of car, cdr, or the CLOS, but it could be worse...I could still be stuck on Dylan, right?

User Journal

Journal: 100,000 Iraqi Civilian Casualties (and counting)

Journal by amper

Re: 100,000 Civilians Dead in Iraq

I wanted to post this, but I'd already modded a couple of morons down and some other people up who obviously understand the difference between opinion/wishing and independently verifiable facts...

And what about when objectivity comes down on the side of "Bush is an evil fuck", hmm? Going by how the Republicans whine, objectivity is about making sure the GOP comes out smelling like roses, even when the facts are against them...

I am honestly amazed to see that there is somebody around here who can see through this "media objectivity" bullshit.

Facts are facts. Invading Iraq was an unbelievable display of utter incompetence on the part of the Bush Administration that will likely go down in history as one of the worst mistakes in the history of the United States.

While I do think that at some point the US would have needed to take a more aggressive stance toward Hussein (I refuse to call a head of state simply by his given name, unlike most of the ill-mannered politicians and media wonks, who can't even be bothered to consult an Arab on how to pronounce his given name, anyway)--pressuring Iraq in 2002 and invading Iraq in 2003 was certainly *not* the time to do it! Wrong War, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, Wrong Fucking Everything

Source after source after source has documented that the Bush Administration planned to invade Iraq from the day Our Inestimable Leader was sworn into office, if not well before that time. Hussein was a threat, yes--but a contained threat that posed no immediate, clear, or present danger to the security of the United States.

It was clear even to people like myself (with no access to classified materials) that the case the administration was trying to build was entirely groundless. I was highly embarrassed as a citizen of the US watching the broadcasts of Mr. Powell's presentation to the UN. There was simply no convincing evidence that Hussein was acting in the manner Powell was describing--in fact, there was significant evidence to the contrary.

Now, before you Bush apologists start trying to pass the buck around to the hard-working men and women in our intelligence services, you might want to take a second and think about the fact that the President of our country is personally responsible for the Executive branch of our government. It was Bush's job to verify that the information we had available was as accurate as possible.

What the Bush Administration did instead was to selectively ignore any evidence collected by our intelligence services that would in any way cast doubt on the administration's pre-conceived beliefs.

We should be demanding the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, as well as national and international criminal proceedings against both them and any in their administration who are found to have willingly misrepresented these facts.

There is no doubt in my mind the George W. Bush will go down in history as the absolute worst president in the history of our great nation--and I certainly hope that he loses next week decisively so that he and his incompetent and malicious administration do not get the chance to spend another four years putting the freedom, peace, and security of not only the United States, but entire world at greater risk.

Do your part.

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.

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