1. Old Timey Radio Podcasts

    February 11, 2014

    Some time ago I decided to stop listening to tech podcasts for reasons which are both irrelevant and well-known to most people. Instead I’ve spent my commutes with old radio dramas from a variety of sources. They have the advantage of generally being under thirty minutes in length and being utterly devoid of technology product rumors. Additionally, they often have some damn fine stories to boot. It occurred to me that some of my readers might be interested in this so I’ve decided to share some of my sources.

    One of the most comprehensive sources for radio dramas is Relic Radio. They have mysteries, science fiction, comedies, horror stories, westerns, and war stories. You can find all their podcasts on iTunes.

    A show that is a particular favorite of mine is Suspense!. There are a few different podcasts collecting this show, but here is the iTunes link for the one I subscribe to.

    Last but not least. Welcome to Nightvale is a newer—and highly popular—podcast drama that takes the form of a community radio show set in a community unlike any other. You can find them here on iTunes.

    There you go. Just a few things to listen to that don’t involve self-absorbed bloggers talking about what products Apple should make. You can thank me later.

  2. Thoughts on Google’s Acquisition of Nest

    January 14, 2014

    I don’t currently own a Nest product and now that Nest has been purchased by Google I almost certainly will never own a Nest product. Here are my reasons for coming to that conclusion.1

    1. Google has a bad track record of maintaining products: There really isn’t a lot to say here. The record of Google’s long-term maintenance of acquired products is a charnel house of badly maintained and abandoned software and services. While this isn’t a huge problem with software and services, it is a huge issue to me when we’re talking about an expensive piece of hardware that sits at the core of my home’s climate control system.

    2. This purchase is almost certainly not about the product itself: My buddy John Welch made an interesting point on App.net. There is a very good chance that this purchase is more about Nest’s portfolio of patents relating to learning hardware than it is about cornering the thermostat market. Additionally, bringing Tony Fadell into the fold gives Google something that it desperately needs: someone who actually has a clue about consumer hardware design.

    3. Google’s consumer support is atrocious: Well, Google’s enterprise support ain’t no great shakes either but let’s focus on what’s important. Everyone reading this blog has heard stories of Google’s horrific “look it up on the web / here’s a Google Group if your lucky” method of “support”. While that model is (barely) acceptable in the world of software and services it is absolutely untenable in the world of consumer hardware. This is even worse when you consider that the Nest thermostat is a device meant to connect to a system that most consumers have absolutely no experience with and, if installed improperly can theoretically destroy a system that costs thousands of dollars to replace.

      From what I’ve seen Nest has done an admirable job of making the process of tying a Nest thermostat into an existing HVAC system as consumer friendly as possible, but I’ve also read numerous tales of woe from tech luminaries unable to get a Nest thermostat to work with their system. This shit ain’t simple2

    4. I just don’t trust Google: I’ve listed this last, because the previous three points are actually sufficient for me remove Nest devices from consideration but honestly if the previous issues didn’t exist, this would be enough. I simply don’t trust Google to not put it’s all-consuming desire for data above my privacy. In some instances this isn’t an issue to me but when applied to a device that sits in my house tracking my coming and going it crosses the creepy line.

    1. Note that tribal loyalty to Apple is not among these reasons. 

    2. I have a fairly extensive, if not precisely licensed, level of experience with home electrical systems. This stuff is more complicated than the average tech pundit knows. 

  3. Will The Real iPad Please Stand Up

    November 02, 2013

    The iPad Air is now on sale and making its way into the hands of the blogoratti and the Retina iPad mini will be arriving later this month. Unfortunately this fact heralds the oncoming blitz of self-indulgent tech bloggers smugly proclaiming either the iPad Air or the Retina mini to be the “real” iPad.

    This is fucking stupid.

    I know that the default narrative in tech punditry is that there can only be one of any given thing in a category but that is a stupid narrative and it needs to stop. Proudly proclaiming that the “real” iPad has arrived, as many did after the announcement of the iPad mini last year only makes you look like an idiot. Playing the same game this year with the iPad Air is just fucktarded.

    After the initial iPad announcement in 2010 I wrote a post explaining my rationale for purchasing an iPad. In that post I posited that the iPad shouldn’t be looked at as a laptop replacement, but as a laptop alternative. The relevance of that concept as applied to the iPad Air vs. iPad mini debate is that the “correct” choice for any given person is going to be determined by their existing ecosystem of devices.

    For example, prior to the iPad my computing setup consisted of an iMac and an iPhone. The original iPad filled my need for a highly functional portable computer that didn’t force me to replicate my existing OS X environment. That need will now be met by the iPad Air.

    The contrary example would be someone who already was using a laptop; perhaps in conjunction with a desktop machine, perhaps not. For that person the original iPad would not have made as much sense and the iPad mini would have been a more likely purchase. Now that the iPad mini is in every respect other than size identical to it’s larger sibling that decision makes even more sense.

    In both cases the choice of which iPad is the “real” iPad is based on personal needs. The pundits proclaiming one iPad “realer” than the other are simply projecting their particular situation onto the general public…again