Windows Vista is a Cutter!

Turns out, there’s an interesting—and dare I say, innovative—bug in Windows Vista’s speech generation and speech recognition software.

Seems that since the speech recognition is “speaker independent”, it will respond to indiscriminate voices and, if it recognizes commands, will follow through with them. Y’know, like half the Leather Community of San Francisco.

Anyhoo, it’s possible to make Windows Vista hurt itself:

In one scenario outlined by users an MP3 file of voice instructions was used to tell the PC to delete documents.

But Microsoft, of course, downplayed it:

[Microsoft Corp] has pointed out that in order for the flaw to be exploited the speech recognition feature would need to be activated and configured and both microphone and speakers would have to be switched on. “There are also additional barriers that would make an attack difficult” said a Microsoft security researcher.

So as long as you don’t use the highly-touted and marketed speech-recognition feature of Microsoft Vista, you’ll be fine!

Is this a joke? Wait, it is! A very, very old joke: “A man walks into a doctor and says, ‘Doc, it hurts when I do this. Doc replies: Well, don’t do that!”

Reminds me of a guy I used to work with back when I was doing Computational Biology back in Pittsburgh in 1991. He was one of the Junior IT guys and he heard my office mate (an awesome guy called Ryan) and I talking about the future of computers—wall-sized display and voice interaction. He walks by the office and said, “delete .!” I thought at the time he was being incredibly unimaginative. Turns out he was prophetic—because you can still find a DOS prompt on Windows and do a del . to your own files!

So anyway, you go out and buy that, ahem, very tony new PC so that you can have translucent windows and a 3D representation of a rolodex for your onscreen windows; you get a camera for it and a microphone (don’t they build these things into PCs yet?)—to say nothing of some kick-ass speakers to play back your ZuneTunes and the other music (the types that “Play for Sure”—and you’re all set to bark orders at your Windows Vista, but Microsoft tells you not to do that!

No solution offered, no indication that they’re working on a solution to it…just “say no”.

Well, actually, “say nothing”.

•••

In other news, Bill Gates called Apple, Inc. a liar. Even thought most Windows industry folks are saying that you need to upgrade your hardware in significant ways in order to get the “new”-fangled 3D and translucency effects in your Windows windows, Bill Gates says that Apple’s lying in this ad:

But Bill goes on:

I don’t know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don’t even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you’re really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There’s not even the slightest shred of truth to it.

First, Bill, get a sense of satire. Second, Principal Vernon, what would you know about “cool”? Besides baby-shit brown-green being the new black, of course.

And third? Pay attention to your users and care about what they need. If Apple’s superior in one way, it’s that. They pay attention to usability.

Or maybe, Bill Gates knows something about John Hodgman’s ass that the rest of us don’t?

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Aperture Wins 2006 Eddy Award!

EddystatueToday Macworld announced its 22nd Annual Editors’ Choice (Eddy) Awards, and Aperture was on the list!

Check out Macworld’s page for the award. It gives you a pretty good idea of how Apple’s been busy this year. It’s nice to have contributed in some way to something that the public knows about (most of the work I’ve done in my career has been for in-house development), and something that kicks such serious ass.

Logoaperture20060925

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Couldn’t Call It ‘Beleaguered’

I saw these two links side by side in Macsurfer this morning:

Upanddown

I have noticed over the years, long before I even had an official affiliation, that these analysts like to find the lowest number possible when reporting a current marketshare and then do the opposite when quoting a previous marketshare, thus making it appear that there was a marketshare loss.

Gotta love statistics. There’s no lie to the letter, but violations of spirit, no matter how egregious, never get reported.

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Things To Do In A Blog When You’re Dead

Ok, so I’m not really dead. But I feel like I’ve been excised-through-absence from the normal ebb and flow of my own life, and from friends’ lives. Dramatic, I know—and it’s all me—but there it is. I’ve managed to get out exactly twice in the last month or so and both times (one of which was tonight) had me feeling like a visitor, or the occupant of a space that’s been saved for someone who might show up.

This is not to say that I don’t feel at home in that spot, that I don’t feel as at-home as I’ve always felt with my Fred, but my attitudes about some things are not my own. Or at least not my traditional own. Case in point: unlike most gay men, I have made a very clear distinction between friends and fucks. It’s just too weird to mess around with friends—and no, that’s not a point of immaturity.

Maybe I’ve hit my own personal Absolute Zero, where everything goes so still and stale that it explodes into something new and frenetic. Or maybe observation isn’t enough and I’m experiencing it instead (naaah, see “new tricks, old dog”), or maybe I’m recasting my past along new frame boundaries and have come up with thigns I don’t much care for. Or maybe you can’t depend on your own libido and your own affinities to stick to the same playbook forever. In any event, I have a crush on a close friend of mine, one that follows a crush I had when he was just a new friend. I saw him out, not at work, this past weekend and I actually swooned. It was lovely.

So somewhere between Accident and Essence, between Provender and Providence exists a life that borrows from either and both. The trick is to be enough of a witch or warlock to draw funnel clouds out of Essence to touch down into your own Accidental existence; to guide Providence to feed whatever hungers and slake whatever thirsts. And, of course, to be enough of a pragmatist to exist in a cause-and-effect universe. Teaching a man to fish can work magic to his own world, but lessons can’t be heard over the grumbling of an empty stomach.

So what have I been doing instead of writing nearly-daily here? I’ve been working. A lot. And doing pretty much nothing besides. And only recently have I realized that this won’t do and that I need to be cleverer. To that end, I’ve begun a list of Apple Babes. I figure that if so much of my life is to be devoted to work, I might as well enjoy the scenery. And trust me, chil’ren, there are plenty of Apple Babes at the Mothership. Are they gay? Who cares? They’re babes! It’s fun and it’s harmless. And did I mention that it’s fun?

Your God of Biscuits needs more fun.

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An Apple a Weekday

I feel like I should have laid out my clothes for the next morning, or packed a lunch, or make sure my shoes were shined. Or any of those things that I used to do as a way of burning off the excess chi at the start of something new.

Only this isn’t something new so much as something renewed.

Life got derailed when my Vespa (with me on it) got derailed on December 30, 2005. I have effectively, psychically lost 5.5 months of my life. The continuum broke. Expectations dashed. Assummptions turned and made an ass out of u and umption.

The biggest single step forward happens tomorrow. The locomotive (heavy on the loco) gets set back on the rails and off it goes: I return to work at the Beloved Mothership.

I

cannot

fucking

wait!!!

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Our New Mac mini

Indextop20060228

Our new toy. Strange. It looks like a tin that might hold some fancy cookies; it looks like a stand-alone DVD player; it comes with a teensy remote control that has six buttons.

Frontrowremote20050228They managed to squeeze in an IR port in the front without messing with the minimalist front of the unit. The remote runs Front Row, which provides a unified interface to all our our music and our photos and porn home movies.

There are two CPU cores in it, with 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive (it’s a laptop-form-factor hard drive) and a DVD burner which is slot-loading and burns every type of blank DVD media known to humankind, including dual-layer).

The only monitor the mini is hooked up to is our HDTV; it makes less noise than the Comcast DVR does and actually fits under the TV next to the TV’s pedestal stand. Crazy.

And? It’s the very first Intel-based machine I’ve ever purchased!

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Apple v. Dell

Way back when—October 6, 1997, to be exact—Michael Dell was asked what he’d do if he were running Apple. His reply? “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

As of the close of market today, Apple Computer, Inc. is worth more than Dell, Inc.

Apple is worth $161,720,000 more than Dell.

Tipping point or technicality? You decide.

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Nerdy In-Joke

Apple’s shares soared nearly five points yesterday. This is weird and I’m not sure what to do with it, because typically Apple could announce an anti-gravity fountain of youth at a Macworld Keynote and the stock price would waver and weakly fall a bit.

Yesterday, during the keynote, Apple’s shares surged and mostly held on to the higher price til the close of the market. The closing price? $80.86

Yes, on the day that Apple announced Intel-based (x86) Macs, the price matches the very first x86 ever, the 8086. <spins propeller on beanie />

Oh, and Apple’s up another 3 points today. Goooooo, stock options!

Oh, and also? Apple’s ad heralding the arrival of Mac OS X on Intel chips…check it out…sassy and brill.

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So…

Sf2006 Main Top

Y’all think Apple will announce anything new tomorrow at Macworld Expo SF?

I’m hoping to maintain my going-on-ten-years tradition with my friend, Steve, by making it down to the show floor, but with everything that’s happened, that may just not work out this year. Should be exciting, though…

I work for Apple and I have no idea what might be coming out, though based on what the rumor mills think, and the state of the industry, I’d say we’re coming out with a Perpetual Motion Machine that travels faster than light. Yeah, that’s what we’re coming out with.

Oh, and? A pony.

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Patterns of Past & Present

I’m reading a novel:

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Stephen Chbosky)

It was lent to me by JP, who thought I might like it. I like when people think I might like things. There’s that kind of “little intrusion” (this is where I wish I knew french: I always thought petit mort was a grand and fussy and silly and completely accurate way of describing an orgasm) that people surprise you with sometimes. The casual acquaintance who intrudes only enough to let you know they’d never intrude but that they wanted you to know they were there if you needed anything. The friend who stands within yourself who cannot intrude because you’ve invited him in but who nonetheless takes a chance on getting in further by asking new questions, covering a new topic, offering up a new dimension to themselves.

The book is written by a man from Pittsburgh, my first adopted hometown. I went to college at Carnegie Mellon University, which is geographically, literally across a short bridge from University of Pittsburgh, all in the Oakland section of town.

Pittsburgh often intrudes; so does Shavertown, PA, for that matter (my biological hometown). This happens more and more lately. Perhaps it’s a step-function of age, or a natural consequence of adversity, or from the very large number of books I’ve read in such a short time. Or it’s the index cards I carry around with me everywhere: some stuffed in my back pocket, in jacket pockets. In my backpack. On the end-table.

Homecomings, of a sort, which make me think of Homecomings of that sort: the real kind. The kind that you’d go back to CMU for, or to Dallas Area High School for.

The kind I used to imagine returning to myself, when I’d look at the few older “kids” who’d be around for the Homecoming Game. I was the escort of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Toni, for the Homecoming Court my senior year. No one knew I was gay, of course (and thank goddess that relatively fewer kids won’t ever have to say “I wasn’t out, of course”!), but I was the president of our class, sat on a vast number of cross-functional committees and panels, was well-respected by my teachers and by administrators—and even by the ‘snakes’ and ‘hoods’ in the class (in large part thanks to the “indefinite detention” I’d received towards the end of my junior year).

So yeah, the past intrudes as well. But only enough to dot the map between then and here, only intruding enough to say “remember me! I was on your path, too!”

It’s a pleasant feeling, like the hum and thrum of body parts after sex, like random breezings of “San Francisco air conditioning” at this time of year, like hearing Sam’s voice in the morning separate from everything else because I haven’t quite opened my eyes, haven’t quite awakened.

There may not have been only the one path from then to here—although given the more extreme places and events along my particular path, I am hard-pressed to imagine another route—but it’s the path I took and it’s indelible.

I am on Caltrain right now; the novel I mentioned is the reason for the writing, the reason for the gentle tug of memory, the piezo-electric snick of pattern gentled squeezed into place. On the train, I sit facing the City. I always do this. Going to Cupertino or heading back Home, I always sit facing Home, otherwise I get a bit motion-sick. Not the kind you get from moving backwards in the morning or even moving forwards at night, or the kind some get when reading in a moving car. It’s more about focus. It’s more about measuring distance to understand that which is not subject to the scorn of distance or the chill of Apart. Love of him. Love of City. Love of Family. Love of Self. Love of Life and all its self-made diversity, complexity and wonder.

But I digress.

I am a creature of habit. On the train I read. It’s what I do. And yet today I write, for the same reason I always write: because the words are there and permit nothing to continue until they go from here (head) to there (paper/iBook).

Habits can be measured only when you’re not performing for them. Otherwise, they’re just what you’re doing.

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