802.11n is $0.99 Too Expensive

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Apple’s catching some flak for charging $1.99 (down from the $4.99 initially rumored) for turning on 802.11n functionality in existing laptops. They claim it’s the result of Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules that prevent them from adding new functionality to an existing product. This interpretation of the Sarbox rules has been challenged,.

I’m not an accountant or a lawyer, but I suspect Apple’s wrong here. Regardless, though, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt in this case. I do believe Apple genuinely believes, rightly or wrongly, that Sarbanes-Oxley requires them to charge for this. However, Apple does have a dishonest track record of charging $20 shipping and handling fees for “free” updates. If they really want to be clear that this is just a technical fee they’re required to charge, not another scheme to extort money from customers to make an already purchased product work well, there are two things they should do:

  1. Reduce the fee to $1.00. This is the generally recognized nominal price for indicating that you have to charge something, but don’t really want to. For instance, it is what juries award in damages when they want to indicate that the plaintiff is legally right, but is basically a putz and is wasting their time with a trivial suit they were largely responsible for in the first place.
  2. Make sure the updater is not copy protected, and look the other way as it is freely distributed on file sharing networks.

$1.00 is still annoying, but I think that price would make clear to everyone that Apple really doesn’t want to charge for the update. They’re just being forced to by their interpretation of the Sarbanes-Oxley laws.

Photographic Proof that Muscovy Ducks Are Breeding in Jefferson Parish

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Muscovy Duck with chicks

Lafreniere Park, Jefferson Parish, 2006-12-27

Steve Wiseman Nails Vista

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Steve Wiseman nails Vista. It’s crap like this that separates the pros from the amateurs. The reason I do most of my work on the Mac is that Apple and the Mac community seem to have a much higher ratio of pros to amateurs than do Microsoft and the Windows community.

The Mac isn’t perfect by any means. I could say a few unkind words about its file copying too. However, problems crop up a lot less often there than they do on Windows.

The Linux community mostly doesn’t even try. These days they’re pretty much all amateurs when it comes to user interface design. The pros all left when Eazel closed shop, and the money spout got turned off. As a rule, talented kernel hackers and server optimizers do not make great designers. However, Microsoft still has the money spout flowing. Can’t they hire somebody who knows what they’re doing?

On the plus side, at least the Aero dialogs look pretty, not the crayon colored monstrosities XP offered. I suspect this time around Microsoft hired a real artist to design the look and feel. That’s important, but it’s still just skin deep. The user interaction design is much more important than the graphic design, and here Microsoft is still sucking wind.

Opening a Link in a New Back Window

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Anyone know off the top of their head how to get a regular HTML link to bring up the linked document in a new background window when clicked? I do not control the document being linked to. The goal is to run through a site such as Artima or Digg and click all the interesting links. Then close the window and have all the articles opened there for me to read. In my case, I can control the page I’m linking from but not the page I’m linking to. This is for my personal aggrgeator so it only needs to work in Firefox. Ideas?

Field Sparrows

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Field Sparrows

Bayou Sauvage National Wildife Refuge, 2006-12-23

Upgrading WordPress

Monday, January 15th, 2007

I’ve upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.0.7 to close various security holes (though I very much doubt this release closes the last of them. WordPress is still breaking one of the most fundamental rules of HTTP: Thou shalt not use GET for unsafe operations.) Holler if you notice anything funky.