January 28, 2010
Looks like I kicked over the bee hive...

My little post about the iPad is getting a lot of views, and strident, indignant comments from my beloved Internets. That you for all the comments that exactly, perfectly prove my points...

I would reply point by point, but as this is the Internet, discussion can never end in someone changing their mind, so it becomes fruitless.

The best is me being called an Apple fanboy. Let's be clear here, this is my computing environment at home:

4 desktop running Vista - one per family member
1 desktop running Vista - a media hub/home audio/phone dock
1 Media Center PC - hooked to TV to watch DVDs and Blu-ray
1 laptop running Vista
1 Microsoft Home Server - backing everything up
Currently putting together a new gaming PC to run Windows 7
and to top it off, one of the desktop PCs is a 20" Mac that only runs Vista - good design for my wife
3 iPhones - me, wife, eldest daughter - youngest uses a Samsung Impressions

If that make me an Apple fanboy, then everyone is an Apple fanboy.

Posted by michael at 12:30 PM | Comments (12)
January 27, 2010
A message to the Internets regarding the iPad

"Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." - Gertrude Stein

Oh Internets, how I love your unrealistic optimism, your pervasive cynicism, your willingness to believe any rumor, no matter how far fetched, and your desire to pronounce judgment on things with the tiniest amount of actual information.

Today Apple announced the iPad. Amazingly it did not fulfill every expectation that was floating out there. Most importantly, it does not fulfill every, specific desire you have and expected. The rumor machine of tech web sites promised you so much more.

Oh noes.

Let me explain it clearly and talk you off the ledge before you go and do something stupid.

Remember way back to January 2007, when the iPhone was announced? Oh Internets, you wailed and gnashed your teeth endlessly. No 3G network? No MMS? No apps on the iPhone? No replaceable battery? Oh, your complaints were endless. You were sure that the iPhone was doomed because it didn't meet all your requirements.

And what happened? Well, Apple has sold 40 million iPhones. FORTY MILLION. They have become the largest mobile device company in the world.

So today, you moan on and on about all the features you expected and demand in the iPad. What no Verizon? No two-way camera? It's not weightless? A full half inch thick? Only 10 hours of battery life? You make tons of predictions on the success and failure with scant details and without ever actually trying one.

Well, I am lucky enough to have been at the Apple Event today. Deep within the Reality Distortion Field. I saw the demo live, not snap shots on a web site. I got to use the iPad and see how it worked in person. I talked with other people that had tried it.

And you know what, just like Steve Jobs said, you need to hold it for yourself. It's a different computing experience. It's intuitive and simple. The device is blazingly fast and obvious how to use. It is a third kind of computing between a smartphone and a laptop.

For those that have iPhones, you know the experience of showing someone the iPhone for the first time. The look in their face, when they first flick the screen or squeeze the image to zoom. The realization that this is something different, very different, than what they have experienced before.

I am a technology professional. For almost 20 years I've tested, used, broke, fixed, and played with all kinds of technology from broadcasting to air conditioning to software. I am not easily swayed in these things. But even with all my skepticism, I think the iPad is something different. A new way of computing that will become commonplace.

Oh Internets, I know you won't believe till you hold one in your hands. You'll bang on about features, data plans, DRM, open source, and a multitude of issues. You'll storm the message boards, wring your hands, and promise you won't buy one till 'Gen 2'. The din will grow and grow as time passes.

And then one day, in a few months, you will actually hold one and use it. And you will say, "I want one. I want one right now."

So, my sweet beloved Internets, please take a deep breath, relax and stay away from your regular knee-jerk reactions. Have a little patience, a quality you are not known for, my sweet Internets.

And please, please stop trying to make predictions about what's next, you have no clue and just look stupid when you do.

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new." - Steve Jobs

Posted by michael at 08:24 PM
January 21, 2010
10 Years of Blogging

Today marks the 10 anniversary of the formal start of this weblog, the venerable Cruftbox.

In internet time, that's an eternity. While I'm not considered one of the truly early bloggers, I've been at this quite a while.

I registered my first domain back in 1997 and promptly posted a story about making a cup of coffee on August 31st. I had posted about my daughter being born even earlier, on July 19th. While some might claim that as the start of my blogging, I consider it when I started using a content management system of some kind.

My inspiration for Cruftbox was a site called Lum the Mad, a weblog about the game Ultima Online. Scott "Lum" Jennings still blogs about gaming today at brokentoys.org. My initial start was a rudimentary blogging app called NewsPro. Blogger was less than 6 months old, MovableType didn't even exist in those days, and owning your own domain was not for casual enthusiasts. Thanks to Ben & Mena Trott for making MovableType. Without it, I probably would have never kept on blogging.

My first post was January 21st, 2000, simply about starting the site. In the beginning, I mainly posted about video games and linked to interesting stuff I saw on the web. As time went on, I started to create more real content on the site.

To this day, the most popular page on Cruftbox remains How to make a Smoker from a Trash Can, posted in October of 2003. Even now, 50-100 people a day read this page. The more real content I made, the more visitors I had arrive. Once I added Google ads, I started making $100-150 a month and still do today.

Blogging led me to start attending SxSW Interactive and helped me meet a ton of great people all over the world. I have found blogging to be a rewarding experience, well worth my time and the headache. I have refrained from trying to turn my site into anything other than a window into my life.

I never believed in the "Bloggers will pwn the world!!!1!!" meme that still occasionally rebounds around the net. It's not blogging that changes the world, it's hard work that changes the world. Blogs are a great way to surface hard work, making it easy to publicly publish what you've been working on, but crap on a weblog is still just crap.

Over the years, I've been Slashdotted, Farked, Boinged, Dugg, and even hacked. To be honest, it feels good to get the attention. I'd much rather get many people reading my site than a bunch of hits to the Google ads.

Today, I mainly post about my experiments in food or science. I don't post as frequently, since I feel a lot of the personal stuff fits better into Facebook or Twitter. Who knows what I'll be writing about in a few years.

So what words of wisdom do I have after 10 years of blogging?

Not a lot really. Just a few things that are probably obvious to a lot of people, but I'll write them down anyways.

1) Blogging adds content to the internet, where as social networks add noise. A weblog tends to be a more permanent record of information that is searchable and retrievable over time. People still visit my post about loading XP on a SATA drive from 2004 regularly, because it's usefully content that they can find easily. Twitter and Facebook are fun, but their content is ephemeral, melting into the net like snowflakes in the sun. Beautiful for a brief moment and then gone.

2) Only write things on your weblog that you are comfortable your co-workers, friends, family, and strangers knowing. If you have private thoughts, keep them private.

3) Most of the social media experts are full of crap. Anyone who claims to know where the internet is heading or how 'you should establish a relationship with your reader' is simply selling something. The internet is wild and unpredictable. Your best bet is to simply sit back, do what you find interesting, ignore what bores you, and enjoy the ride.

The biggest thanks I have go to my wife, Michele, who has put up with my blogging of our lives, eaten food cooked in trash cans, let her kitchen be used as a lab, helped me count Halloween costumes, and watched me eat copious amounts of junk food in the name of science. Thank you sweet pea!

Lastly, thank YOU for reading. If not for the comments and emails over the years, I wouldn't still be doing this. Let's see what the next ten years brings, I have no idea what it will be, but it will be wonderful.

And yes, I know I need to redesign the site. ;)

Posted by michael at 08:00 AM