Gadgetry In Motion


Apple’s iTV project is exactly what I have been hoping they would do – create a media link from my network to my television. Bring it on. But waiting until Q1 2007 is such a tease, although I can see if the reason were to bring in a higher bandwidth specification for wireless.

I have to wonder about the long stretch between now and launch though, and the motivation behind announcing so early. Are they concerned a competitor will release a similar box beforehand? Probably. I mean, that’s why Microsoft does vaporware announcements – to create that purchase anxiety so people will wait for their offering before buying something that already works and is available in the marketplace.


Zune, Microsoft’s attempt to piggyback on some of the iPod shine, really looks like something I stepped in last week. The thing is an obvious iPod knock-off – looking like a cheap plastic piece of crapware that I would probably find in a flea market or mounted in cardboard and plastic in the Safeway toy aisle. I actually resisted commenting on this for a while, but when I saw the brown, I had no choice. Sorry.

The announcement of the Zune certainly has generated it’s share of poopy journalism, too. What really cracks me up is how people think that the wireless DRM-protected music sharing feature is going to force Apple to somehow react. As John Gruber points out:

If the Zune were already shipping, and people were buying it, and this feature proved to be popular, then, yes, Apple would need to do something about it. Or even if the Zune had just now shipped, and we could actually see this feature and determine that it was actually pretty cool, then, maybe, Apple would need to do something about it. But the Zune is vaporware.

Not only does the Zune look like a floating steamer, but in typical Microsoft fashion, it is all just pie in the sky now and months away from actually seeing the light of day. Every competitor to the iPod has crashed and burned so far, and it doesn’t look like Zune is promising to be much different. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to see a competitor, but no-one seems to have been able to step up to the plate yet.


Nintendo’s Wii looks pretty damn sweet. And looking at the comparatively steep price points for Sony and Microsoft’s bloated systems, combined with some cool new features, I suspect it will compete just fine in the game console marketplace. With plenty of interesting games (including Zelda, Mario, and Sonic themes), an innovative (if somewhat odd) game controller solution, and it’s low price point, it should do well. I myself lean towards the Wii, simply because it’s cheap, the kids are pretty young, and no-one does that much gaming in our house anyway. (That would have been my job before, but life is busy these days…)

Sealing the crack

One of my biggest pet peeves about iTunes has finally been corrected. The Gapless Playback feature is described thusly:

Live albums, classical works, or any work that sounds best when it���s continuous, now seamlessly transitions from one song to another

I had been importing certain CDs as single files just to get around the gap problem. And downloads from the iTunes music store with segues and track delineations in the middle of works will be heard as they were intended – seamlessly.

My only question is: What took you so long?

Only one thing left to do.

Last night we were up late watching the live satellite feed of the massive demonstrations just now getting underway in Taipei to attempt to depose Taiwan’s current president of ineffectiveness: Chen Shui-Bian.

The issues at hand are numerous real and alleged scandals that have touched far too close to Chen, coupled with complete dissatisfaction from his support base on pushing forward Taiwan’s sovereignty and violent opposition to sovereignty from the KMT and other pro-China parties. It’s a no-win, thankless job, and getting stuck in the controversy of corruption has tipped the scales way over. Everybody wants him out.

Chen had long been a proponent of Taiwan’s sovereignty and standing up to China’s aggression. If he was still true to that agenda, it occurs to me that there is one thing he could do, right now, that would propel Taiwan’s bid further along than anything anyone has done before: Resign.

If he made the smart move to sacrifice his own position and resign, two things would happen. One is that the outspoken nutcase Annette Lu would then become president. She would probably take Taiwan’s bid a hell of a lot farther in two years than Chen has done in six, and the PRC would be up a creek again. The other thing that would happen is that Taiwan would be showing the people across the strait what a real people’s government does when there is dissent. The protests in Taipei remind me of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, except what if the result here was actual real reform? No tanks, no deaths, just the people demanding change and a president stepping down. What message would that send to China, eh? Rise up.

Anyway, my opinion is that a resignation would be an absolutely brilliant final move by Chen, if he was smart enough to do so. My suspicion though is that his pride is going to get in the way and he won’t be able to see the forest for all the trees, and he’ll try to ride out the protests. That would be sad – it’s time for him to move on.

Testimony of an Election Fraud Programmer

In software engineering textbook I’m currently reading, there’s a part in the first chapter about ethics, in that the software engineer must act with a certain sense of responsibility so that the users build trust in the software you’re using. How would you feel if, say, a programmer made it so that one out of every fifty dollars you earned got electronically routed over to that programmer’s own personal retirement account? Well here we seem to have the electronic voting machine equivalent. It’s old news, but I hadn’t heard about it until today:

AlterNet: Blogs: Evan Derkacz: Shocking election-theft testimony

Are there computer programs that can be used to secretly fix elections?


How do you know that to be the case?

Because in October of 2000, I wrote a prototype for Congressman Tom Feeney [R-FL]…

It would rig an election?

It would flip the vote, 51-49. Whoever you wanted it to go to and whichever race you wanted to win.

And would that program that you designed, be something that elections officials… could detect?

They’d never see it.