The Yugo of Operating Systems

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Seems FreeBSD wants to reach feature parity with desktop Linux. Excuse me while I guffaw for a minute. That’s like saying you’re designing a car and want to reach feature parity with a Yugo. When FreeBSD starts aiming for feature parity with the Mac, then I might take them seriously.

Why, oh why, do so few developers of free software know or care about user interface design? Or reversing the question, why do so few developers who know how to design user interfaces have any interest in working on desktop Linux? What little effort there is, is simply applied to imitating Windows. For a couple of years I saw some hope at Eazel, but then the money spout got turned off and the developers who actually knew what they were doing lost interest and moved on to other things.

Birdathon 2006

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

Yesterday I participated in the 2006 Birdathon here in Brooklyn. The goal is to see (or hear) as many bird species as you can from midnight to midnight. I visited six sites and racked up 100 species. I’m not sure, but that’s probably my personal one day record.

Canada Geese with four goslings entering bay at Breezy Point
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How Tennessee Screws Consumers

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

While surfing the Web to find the exact text of the Tennessee law that requires companies to extend warranty protection for the amount of time a product spends in repair, I found this gem on the website of the Tennessee Dept. of Commerce and Insurance:

LexisNexis Law publishes the Tennessee Code Annotated. This is the only company authorized to publish Tennessee Consumer Laws on the Internet.

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How Tennessee Protects Consumers

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

I was glancing at my AppleCare contract today before I filed it when I noticed this surprising clause:

Tennessee Residents

This Plan shall be extended as follows: (1) the number of days the consumer is deprived of the use of the product because the product is in repair; plus two (2) additional days.

How civilized! Doubtless this is the result of some specific law in Tennessee; but why couldn’t Apple (and other manufacturers and warranty providers) extend this same courtesy to non-Tennessee residents? It seems like the least they could do if we’re losing time due to their faulty products. It would also be a small incentive for them to expedite turn-around and make sure they have an adequate inventory of spare parts.

The Federal Trade Commission appears to have statutory authority to impose similar, though not quite as stringent, requirements on all U.S. providers of warranties and service contracts. However I don’t think they’ve done so.

I’m afraid this is likely a relic of earlier, more democratic state legislatures. I find it hard to imagine the bought-and-paid for legislatures you find today enacting such a sensible and fair provision. Even if one or two did, doubtless the lobby pigs would simply pay the U.S. Congress to preempt stronger state legislation with some nice-sounding bill that promised to protect consumers and in fact did the exact opposite. Still, I’d love to be proved wrong.

$599 for a PS3?!

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

Wow. $599. That’s a lot. I didn’t even buy my PS1 until the price came down to $199. And here I was thinking the XBox 360 was overpriced at $200 less. All I can say is that this better be one hell of a gaming console, and have some really spectacular games.
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Toast Survey

Monday, May 8th, 2006

Roxio (or Sonic Solutions, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) is running a survey about Toast. Perhaps because of the options I chose, the survey was refreshingly brief. The main thing I told them was that they still owe me money from unfulfilled rebates on previous versions, and they won’t be getting any more of my money until they pay up. Perhaps if enough people tell them that, they might get the message that upgrade rebates are a good way to lose loyal customers.

They may have already gotten the message. Popcorn 2 is the first product I’ve seen from them in a while whose upgrade price (though still excessive) doesn’t require you to first pay full price and then apply for a rebate. On the other hand, it’s electronic only and you have to pay extra (nearly full price in total) if you want a CD or a little less if you’d like to be able to download the software more than once.