Wednesday, January 3, 2007

21st Century Journalism (and Geek Wednesday)

Next week, Gitmo turns five, and AI has some ideas on how this infamous anniversary might be observed.

Before we get to Geek Wednesday, how about this bizarre statement for our quote of the week: “we said we thought it would be better if they delayed until after Id, and use the delay to resolve the legal issues.”

That's an American government official explaining why certain unnamed American policy geeks were encouraging Iraqi PM Maliki to postpone the Saddam necktie party until after a Sunni holiday known as Id. Does anyone else besides me hear Freud shouting in vindication through that cloud of cigar smoke rising from the underworld?

Well, I'm not listening to any pundit's take on the probable consequences of this until I hear Baghdad Bob break his silence...

And here's a parallel reality news moment of the week: I was at the deli next door and heard this over the TV set there, and I swear I'm not making up a word of it. It was the ABC News show, and a reporter in Texas was wrapping up a piece on some violent storms there that had caused the Secret Service to take the Bush family, dogs and all, off to an underground shelter near the Crawford ranch. They cut back to the studio, where Gibson mused how it reminded him of Dorothy scooping up Toto as the tornado approached. He then blandly concluded the story with the news that the President and his family, including the dogs, are now safe. 21st century journalism.

Geek Wednesday

I'm writing this within Blogger on Firefox/Windows in Parallels Desktop in a Win XP window on my MacBook. XP is set to use 256MB of the 1GB of RAM I have on the machine, and oddly, it seems to run just fine on that (with the help of the Intel Core Duo 2 processor, of course). What is even stranger is that it seems to hurt the Appleware more: I'm getting this situation now where all my open Mac applications won't minimize: the yellow button becomes disabled and double-clicking the window title (on a Mac, that minimizes; on a Windows app, it toggles the full screen setting) does nothing. Like I said, strange.

So unless you're on a network sharing files between Mac and Windows, I don't see the point of having a Parallels installation running on an Intel Mac. The Parallels software itself takes up 200MB of RAM, and for this Macophile, it's just too weird. Anyway on to the geek news of the week...

A Small Victory: Geeks and all the rest of us who support Net Neutrality have won a tentative victory this week in the concessions made by AT&T as part of its deal for the $85B BellSouth takeover (er, excuse me, merger). Frankly, I'd leave the cork in the Moet on this one, but yes, it is the same sort of victory as the Kansas City Chiefs won over the weekend (it's known as backing in: for the Chiefs, five teams had to lose so that they could go on to the playoffs--which indeed happened). But for anyone who's imagining that this is a final win for Net Neutrality, I have two words: Mission Accomplished.

Our theme today is 21st century journalism, so it's a good moment to insert a link to this article that our buddy Nearly Redmond Nick sent over. It's by John Pallatto of eWeek, and presents the case for treating bloggers as journalists (real journalists, that is, not the ABC variety discussed above). Believe me, sometimes I wish I had the problem that Pallatto mentions, but no one's ever offered me a thing to write about their product, and I never even knew there was such a thing as a Ferrari laptop until I read this.

Now, on to a little Google bashing. What's gotten into Blogger's brain these days? I know I've mentioned this before, but their blog is now toasting all kinds of features in the new Blogger that I personally can't find: drag and drop template editing (huh? where?); expanded RSS functionality (I still don't see anything more than the usual atom feeds); and accelerated publishing (kids, it's as slow as ever). What I am seeing is plenty of this: MS-style unknown-problem reports.

I'm also getting some inexplicable failures with image uploads in Blogger. Fortunately, I have a licensed copy of Graphics Converter for Mac, one of the great software bargains of them all, from one of the greatest geeks out there, Thorsten Lemke. If you have a Mac and do anything with images—whether it's keeping the family photo album in order or doing sophisticated image editing for the web—you will never regret spending $30 to get this fabulous program, which contains roughly 80% of the functionality of Photoshop and all of the convenience and ease of use of the Mac platform. Lemke has just released a Universal Binary version for those of us in the Intel Mac camp, and it won't cost a dime if you have a licensed copy. Certain other software purveyors—most notably, Softpress Freeway, which forces users of its web editor to spend on an upgrade to UB—could stand to spend some time at Lemke's feet on the subject of customer service and product support.

Finally today, I found an accessory for the new MacBook that I think every laptop computer owner should consider. It's from Targus and is called the ChillHub. It's a platform containing two fans and four USB ports. You put your laptop on this unit, plug it in, and the fans start up, drawing heat out and away. Once you've attached the unit's USB connector to an open port on your computer, you can plug your printer, keyboard, mouse, and whatever else into the available USB ports. The ChillHub keeps my MacBook comfortable when I'm using it as a desktop, and that's very cool. When I'm ready to roll, all I have to do is to disconnect my ethernet cable, AC adapter, and the ChillHub's USB connector, shut the lid and fly. For $50, this seems to me a must-have accessory for anyone who uses a laptop as a combination desktop and mobile computer.

That's all for now: next week, we'll have stories and perspectives on the fallout of Macworld, now that Al Gore has buttressed Steve's Job in the wake of the ongoing Apple stock dating scandal. Don't worry, Steve: even if you do wind up doing some Martha time, we'll send you a MacBook Pro with a file inside.

No comments: