Monday, April 30, 2007

The Bell Tolls for Microsoft

Sorry I missed the last couple of posts. I went to Orange and White on Friday, and that was fun. I'd share more pictures from it, except that I think my date would kill me for that, so I'll hold off on that. Then last night was her performance in the Texas Latin Dance spring show (which was stellar, by the way), so I couldn't post then either. I'm back in action now though, with chills running up my spine from reading Paul Graham's latest essay. His basic premise is that Microsoft dead, and what's funny is that he's right. I've been saying for a while when people asked me why I didn't want to work for Microsoft that they've been going downhill for a long time now and they lost that zest they started out with. Graham takes it much further arguing the harsh effects of Google's rise to glory, the movement of the desktop to the web, and Apple's resurrection have laid Microsoft to waste. I'm going to argue one more cause: letting their own weight pacify themselves. They've become so entranced with churning out upgrades for their software that they haven't innovated in an explosive way in a long time. If they don't do something drastic, it honestly is only a matter of time before Windows crashes and burns, which is obviously their bread and butter. Their best second bet is the Xbox 360, which is doing alright right now and I think has potential, but unless they start investing in fresh ideas without corrupting them, they're going to fall under their own weight very soon. I don't know how I feel about declaring them dead quite yet - I'd probably say fatally ill instead. Even worse, instead of competing with Apple products or trying to 1up them in another arena, they just scoff at their efforts. Yeah, the iPhone is no big deal; it's not like everyone pissed their pants when they saw it and forgot what the letters C, E, and S meant when used together (confused?) and didn't care what Microsoft had to say. Though all these pundits are lashing out against the iPhone, I can tell you right now that it won't flop despite the issues most techies sees. It will only succeed like the iPod has if Apple plays their cards right, which is very likely, and so it's definitely a threat to be taken seriously. Well, Microsoft, you had a good run. Maybe Ray Ozzie will turn the company around? Nah, doubt it.

Remember that big brew-ha-ha about Internet radio getting screwed by Congress? Well, a couple of Democrats are proposing a reversal of that, along with a slight compromise, to the applause of the Internet radio community and Clear Channel among others. Wow, I guess mass mobilization really works!

Apple has now told its iTunes providers that it will be offering DRM-free music and videos next month, and the authoring software was available to whoever wanted it. I didn't know about the video thing before, especially not that EMI wasn't planning a price increase for it. I wonder if they'd then allow you to retroactively remove the protection from your older music video purchases? It's unlikely, but it'd be neat.

eWeek has a really great slideshow of what you shouldn't do if you don't want your computer's and data's security to be compromised. It's simple, short, and covers a ridiculous amount of security violations, so it's a must-see if you're not already cautious about this sort of stuff.

Computerworld has a good editorial about why eBooks will fail, and I think I agree with them. I've been optimistic about this technology for a while now, but it hasn't taken off in the least, and the prices of eBooks really aren't nearly as cheap as I was expecting. I don't think trust technology enough yet to burn their paper-backed books for these things (especially since they're still not cheap).

Have you heard of Vudu? I actually hadn't either until today, when Gizmodo put up some pictures of it in action. It competes with products like the Apple TV that strive to stream your computer's media content into your living room except that it also allows you to buy movies for download directly onto it at an extraordinarily fast rate because of its torrent-like model of pre-seeding content and then sharing it across a distributed network (i.e. peer-to-peer distribution). If they put DVR in this box, as well, it may just take over the world. Let's wait and see what happens.

I wanted to make quick note of two more things. A bunch of Aussies came up with a site called Fatsecret to help people lose weight with a free, ASP empowered website drawing heavily on the commnity aspect. It needs an exercise area, but otherwise awesome (I personally used Nutrisystem to lose weight, so I always love these kinds of sites). Lifehacker has some neat USB thumbdrive tips, like how to sync your data or how to put together a PC repair kit.

Once again, the box office made little sense with Disturbia staying on top with under $10 million. The films that came out though were received poorly by critics. It doesn't matter though, Spider-man 3 will come out this weekend and easily pass the $50 million mark (though my personal estimate is beyond $100 million). I wonder if I'll have time to see it.

I salivate at any Dark Knight news, so I thought it was interesting that they had a fire on set delay things a bit. Also, if you're in the Chicago area, you may want to try their open casting call so you can be in the movie. I wish they'd film a scene in Austin!

AICN got their first review of Transformers, and it's obviously from a huge fan. Still though, fans are usually the harshest, and he loved this movie (he wrote a review that rivals most short stories), so now I'm more optimistic about Michael Bay doing a good film for once.

It looks like Quentin Tarantino is remaking a Hong Kong martial arts movie called Come Drink With Me before he starts work on Inglorious Bastards, which I think is kind of an odd project for him since he usually does homages, not remakes. Still, I obviously loved what he did in Kill Bill so I'm infinitely intrigued with this project.

All I have for you now are trailers, most of which are great. The first is the red-band trailer for a comedy called Superbad, and I can't recall the last time I laughed so much in a trailer. I think that the premise can give rise to a wildly hilarious movie, and I look forward to seeing if it ends up being that funny. Yahoo Movies has a strange trailer for the horror movie Captivity, featuring hottie Elisha Cuthbert, but it doesn't really explain much or why it's "controversial".

The trailer for Brad Bird's next movie, Ratatouille, is cute and clever. I think it could be a fun movie, but I don't see it comparing with how great The Incredibles was as an animated feature. The last trailer is for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and it's much more amazing than I had imagined it would be. I didn't see the first one and now I really want to see this one. I did watch the cartoon when I was little, but this movie seems to stray from what I remember the series as being in a very interesting direction.

Now for some Monday Madness:

1. Currently, what television commercial is your least favorite?
I don't watch live television barely at all, so no idea.
2. And which commercial is your most favorite?
See #1.
3. Of the sitcoms that are on during "prime time" how many do you watch on a regular basis? Please share.
Just "The Office" if that counts as a sitcom?
4. Is there a television series that you enjoy watching that is ending this season?
Veronica Mars =( I don't think it's official yet, but the ratings aren't looking too good. Oh Kristen Bell, how I will miss your witty, smartass humor.
5. Is there any type of program you'd like to see more of on television?
Not really. I think that the great stuff on television right now is mixed pretty well between different genres.
6. Is there any type of program you'd like to see less of on television?
Yeah, reality shows.
7. Is there a series that is no longer aired that you wish would come back?
Freaks and Geeks!
8. Do you watch re-runs of anything on television?
When I'm in Houston: Seinfeld, Friends, Family Guy, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Futurama.

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