The Blog of Tom Webster

Chronic Ranter, Reviewer, and Developer. I speak only for myself, opinions are my own.

Didn't learn your lesson the first time, eh?

  2009-01-29 19:57:00 PST

I wouldn't consider myself an Apple fanboy in any way, but one thing is for sure, they know how to make things simple for their customers. One thing that's always irked me about Microsoft's Windows line... Why all the different versions? Why do I (the consumer) need to choose between Windows 7 Starter, Basic, Home Basic, Pro Basic, Pro, Home Extended, Premium Pro Home, Home, Premium, and Premium Ultimate Home Pro Edition with Sprinkles?

Ok... ok.. so I'm being a little ridiculous here... But even still.. I think I could work with two versions, three is pushing it.. but five?? Why do we need to choose from five different versions of the same product? When you buy Leopard 10.5 for the mac, you buy Leopard 10.5. There isn't a pro, basic, starter, or business edition. Its just Leopard. All of these different versions cause a bit of a headache with Windows XP, and somewhat of a migraine with Vista. _What do you want to do with your computer? Take a look at this handy table full of terms consumers don't understand and some terms that only exist in our marketing textbooks!! _No, Microsoft! This shit has to stop. People want to use their computers. People don't want to choose between 2, or 3, or 4, or hell.. 5 different versions of the exact same codebase. Its fucking stupid.

I've got an idea.. a brilliant idea. No tech company has ever, Ever done this before. Make a solid product (You've got me there, 7 is a fucking rock), make it shiny (7's got this one down too), then make it stupid easy to buy. How do you go about doing this? Put one version out, put it on every shelf. Don't even put out Upgrade packs and Full install packs. Throw it on one disk, put it on shelves, in schools, in the hands of celebrities (You can skip Seinfeld safely.. don't worry), and make people want it. You'll be the talk of the town! You'll be unique! You'll be pretty and everyone will love you! Oh wait... Apple did that already.

This post is in reply to:

http://gizmodo.com/5139306/evidence-of-five-windows-7-retail-versions-surprises-no-one

Daily Lit

  2009-01-13 22:10:00 PST

Haven't posted in a while, but I've been reading about a ton of new tech. While I could go on about the amazing Public Beta of Windows 7 (which I've been using for about three weeks already), or Palm's return to form with the new Pre. I'm going to delve into a website I've been using for years that I think you should give a shot.

First off: We don't have time to read. We have jobs, classes, friends, family matters, and reruns of I Love Lucy to attend to on a daily basis. Reading just doesn't top our priority lists, and even if it does, we have to deliberately carve out sections of our day to make it fit. The solution is DailyLit. An amazingly simple idea that allows you to read a book slowly over time through email or RSS. DailyLit sends you small, easily digestible chunks of books to your inbox, your cell phone, or your favorite RSS program. They even include a link to grab the next chunk instantly if you get really involved in the story.

Most of the books on DailyLit are public domain or Creative Commons licensed (this means FREE), but there are a few premium books scattered here and there. You won't find the newest books or best sellers here, but if you feel like reading a classic, you're in luck. Next time you're at work, checking emails, browsing digg.com, and genuinely wasting your time, try something new, feel like you're making a slow but steady accomplishment by reading a book on DailyLit. Check it out, I'm sure you'll like it!

DailyLit.com

By the way: Right now I'm reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, and I'd suggest starting out with Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig. Its quite the amazing book that takes a detailed look at Copyright and how its essentially broken and useless in this day and age of technology. But that's another post for another day.

Hulu

  2008-12-19 22:02:00 PST

Yea, we've all heard of Hulu and its amazing abilities to completely consume one's life and free time, but I'm here to inform you of some of the changes its gone through. When I first started using Hulu, there were a few big shows, a few movies, nothing too too special, nothing mind-blowing, but now... all that has seemed to change. For instance... Did you know that Hulu has taken on quite a number of classic TV shows?

You can watch such great shows as:

Yea... you can watch He-Man! All of your favorite cartoon 80's violence rolled into the internets! Well.. almost all of it... They're still missing Tom and Jerry, Flintstones, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest, and others. That said.. their library has vastly improved, including the movie selection: You can watch both, The Karate Kid and Ghostbusters right now. In-fucking-credible. I'm not gonna lie: I love Ghostbusters. Everyone should.

By the way, the best part about Hulu is right here:
The Three Stooges Collection
Fuck yea... The Three Stooges. That's all there is to say.
Hulu = Epic Win.

Enlightening isn't the right word...

  2008-12-11 17:47:00 PST

But its the first word that came to mind.

Most of you have already witnessed a work by Chuck Palahniuk, most likely it was a movie, to most of you, it presented an interesting concept, a counter- culture of sorts. That movie was Fight Club. But you liked it because of the brilliant film making, the impressive cinematography, and the starring roles of two big-name actors. Most of you didn't know this was also a book. First a book. I'm not gonna lie. I saw the movie first, then I read the book. I'm not going to judge you, I'm not hypocritical, I did the same thing. But I'm not here to discuss that movie, nor that book. I'm here to tell you about some of Palahniuk's tales that you might have missed.

Recently I've finished Invisible Monsters by Chuch Palahniuk. No spoilers here. I just wanted to say that it is quite an amazing book. Its the type of book that you'll read two or three times just to fully grasp the concepts it throws at you. While Invisible Monsters shared some similar themes with Fight Club, both books stand alone in their own right. Both take a hard look at society, consumerism, and the daily grind, but each has its own story to tell and its own way of telling it.

This isn't your grandfather's paperback. This isn't your grandfather's world anymore, and Palahniuk's books perfectly represent that. Fight Club hooked me from the start, same with Choke, same with Survivor, but Invisible Monsters hooked me somewhere in the middle. Not to say that the book was bad, boring, or dry, it wasn't. I guess it just didn't have the same "Kick in the door" beginning that the other books had. Invisible Monsters is one of those books that you figure out all the twists half-way through, then it kicks you in the groin, tells you you're wrong, daddy never loved you, and then reveals what's really going on. Its an amazing book that looks at modeling, beauty, deformation, and individualism on an entirely different level.

Palahniuk's books are never about a happy person. Its always the person in the back row you'd never expect (This is an exception in Invisible Monsters, in the beginning, she is all but invisible). The person who you think is quiet and content, only to be thinking the entire time. You can't shut their mind up. They have a bleak view of society and humanity. And that's what kicks off each story. A person who isn't content. Or is it a person who is all too content? You'll just have to read and find out.

Regardless, all of these books are absolutely engaging, enthralling, and ultimately entertaining. I'm two chapters into Survivor (or is it two chapters out of Survivor?) and I'm already hooked. You know a book is good when you consider that it could be your favorite book of all time two chapters in.

Go buy these now.

From Generic to Trendy: The Apple School of Marketing

  2008-12-09 06:58:00 PST

Thanks to arstechnica.com for the Image

Now.. don't get me wrong.. I'm the farthest thing from an apple fanboy there is. I'm a Linux advocate and heavy PC user. But Apple is the only company on the planet to turn "Generic" Marketing into trendy, beautiful, effective marketing. Do you remember walking into the grocery store as a kid, seeing the cans with the white label, black text, that reads "Corn"? Yea, that was generic. Simplistic. Run of the mill. Poor. Cheap. Now look at the iPod box: A picture of the product, name on the top in a clear, non-stylized font. Essentially the same idea: Avoid the fluff, get the information out there, keep it simple, keep the focus on the product itself. Apple took an old concept, made it trendy, and is now at the top of the branding charts everywhere. People recognize iPods, Macbooks, iMacs; Hell, mis-informed consumers even refer to personal media players as the one generic term "iPod" now. Apple has taken an idea from old-world save-a-buck cans and applied it to a consumer electronics device in such a way that it became a phenomenon.

Congratulations, Apple. It really is a beautiful thing.

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