|Friday, 28 March 2003, 2:18 pm
You may remember that my TV co-host, Patrick, was considering the switch to Mac. He still has the Apple iBook at home, but at work he’s toting around the new IBM X30 Thinkpad based on the Centrino chipset. I can’t help eyeing it with some interest. It’s lighter than the iBook, and much faster. Patrick is claiming six hours battery life, too, which is about three times what I’m getting on the Mac. I don’t think I could handle the lack of a DVD player, though. But wait. IBM’s T40 includes the DVD-ROM for just $1664 right now. I’m sitting on the web page staring at the machine. The price is right, and I should really spend more time with Windows XP, but I just can’t bring myself to press the Checkout button. Despite all the compelling reasons to switch back to Windows — it’s cheaper and faster, I need to keep my WinChops® up, it supports the application we use for our TV scripts — I can’t buy a Windows notebook.
I don’t mind spending money on a Windows desktop. In fact, I just spent $500 to upgrade my home machine with a P4 2.5Ghz with 512MB DDR RAM and an nVidia Ti 4200 graphics card on the superb Asus P4PE motherboard. Yeah I run FreeBSD and Linux on the system, too, but it’s mostly a Windows XP machine. Windows is fine on the desktop (especially if you want to play Unreal Tournament), but there’s something intimate about a notebook. My iBook is my little plastic pal. I spend more time with it than my family (ask them – they’ll be glad to tell you). And even though I’m very aware of the price I pay to use a Mac, there’s just no other operating system I want to have such a personal relationship with.
I haven’t always been a Mac zealot. My first computers were an Atari 400 and a Northstar Advantage running CP/M. I did conceive a burning lust for the first Lisa I saw, and quickly consummated that desire when the Mac shipped in 1984. I have owned a Mac of some kind or another ever since – just as I’ve always owned a DOS or Windows machine. Nevertheless, I was pretty unhappy with Apple during most of the 1990s. Under a succession of execrable CEOs from Scully to Spindler to Amelio, Apple let Microsoft catch up then surpass it. Mac OS 9 was an antiquated rattletrap that crashed for any reason and no reason at all. But then Steve came back and Apple shipped Mac OS X, the closest thing to the perfect operating system ever created, and I rejoined the choir.
Microsoft has done more and more to discourage interoperability and lock people into the Windows universe, and Linux is just not pretty enough for daily use. Only OS X gives me a great looking desktop with that robust UNIX flavor I crave. I’ve trashed nearly all my Microsoft applications. Internet Explorer has been replaced by Camino, Powerpoint by Keynote. I’ve tossed Entourage in favor of Powermail, iCal, and Address Book, and as soon as NisusWriter for OS X ships, it’s bye-bye Word. The Appleworks spreadsheet is no match for Excel, but it does enough for me, and it doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars.
Most importantly, there’s no more programmable operating system than OS X. Applescript, Perl, Python, and the tcsh shell ship with the computer. gcc and the best IDE and RAD development environment anywhere are free for the download. Even for someone with my limited skills, Mac OS X is an enticing programmers’ playground.
So instead of spending my tax refund on a new Thinkpad, I’ve got my finger poised over the checkout button at the Apple store. I really like that 12 inch Powerbook. But… I just wish it were a little bit faster. And.. what if Dvorak’s right and Apple is planning a move to x86? I sure would like to see OS X running on the Opteron or Itanium. Maybe I’ll just stick with my old 600 mhz iBook for now. It’s not all that slow, and after all, it is my little plastic pal.
|Wednesday, 26 March 2003, 2:48 am
Here’s the painting Jeremy Sutton did of me tonight on the show. Click it to download the Quicktime movie (MPEG 4) of the painting process.
|Monday, 24 March 2003, 4:02 pm
I don’t normally write about politics here, and I don’t plan to do it again, but I am surprised at the anger and divisiveness in the comments to my previous post and I feel I should say something. This war is incredibly polarizing, and I’m sure that it will get worse as combat drags on and the casualties on both sides go up. For better or for worse, Operation Iraqi Freedom is a fait accompli, but it’s not too late to re-consider the policies that led to it.
The emminent historian and former aide to JFK, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., wrote very eloquently in Sunday’s LA Times about the issues raised by our new national doctrine of pre-emptive war.
NEW YORK — We are at war again — not because of enemy attack, as in World War II, nor because of incremental drift, as in the Vietnam War — but because of the deliberate and premeditated choice of our own government.
Now that we are embarked on this misadventure, let us hope that our intervention will be swift and decisive, and that victory will come with minimal American, British and civilian Iraqi casualties.
But let us continue to ask why our government chose to impose this war. The choice reflects a fatal turn in U.S. foreign policy, in which the strategic doctrine of containment and deterrence that led us to peaceful victory during the Cold War has been replaced by the Bush Doctrine of preventive war. The president has adopted a policy of “anticipatory self-defense” that is alarmingly similar to the policy that imperial Japan employed at Pearl Harbor on a date which, as an earlier American president said it would, lives in infamy.
. . .
“We must face the fact,” President John F. Kennedy once said, “that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient — that we are only 6% of the world’s population — that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94% of mankind — that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity — and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem.”
Whether you are for or against this war, you should read the rest of his essay at Common Dreams. (There are many more thought-provoking articles on the site for those who are willing to consider dissenting opinions.)
|Wednesday, 19 March 2003, 7:30 pm
We’ve been thinking hard about what to do about the war on The Screen Savers. Here’s what I’m planning to say on the show tonight:
In one hour, President Bush’s ultimatum to Saddam Hussein will expire and the US will very likely be going to war. As some of you know I have been active in the peace movement, but for now the debate is over. The die is cast.
I think it’s time for all of us to focus our energies on supporting the men and women in harm’s way. So many of our extended Screen Savers family members are on active duty right now. Many more of you have family and friends in the service. Our thoughts and prayers are with them right now. We all hope for a short war with few casualties.
Patrick and I have talked about what we should do on the show tonight and for the duration of the war. We’ve decided to continue on as usual. There are plenty of places you can get the news of the war. There’s only one place you can get the kind of information we offer. So we’ll go on doing what we do best, but always with the awareness that so many of those near and dear to us are risking the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.
|Tuesday, 18 March 2003, 10:11 pm
I just got word that Live with Regis and Kelly will finally air the segment I taped for them in February. It’s scheduled to air this Friday, March 21. And I’ll probably go back and do another show with them in June. They like me. They really like me.
|Sunday, 9 March 2003, 1:50 am
Henry, my brother, Noel, my Dad and I are in Phoenix for Spring Training. While the athletes prepare for the baseball season, we fans are working our way up to mass consumption of garlic fries and polish dogs.
We flew in this morning, rented a Sebring convertible at the insistence of the boys, and drove straight to the Phoenix Municipal Stadium. The game was sold out – standing room only – but we were able to buy tickets behind home plate from a scalper. The As shellacked the defending champion Angels 13-1. Barry Zito pitched five innings and gave up only one run on three hits. Hot prospect Graham Koonce hit a grand slam, and Stanford grad Dave McCarty hit a two-run homer. All-in-all a satisfying victory, even for a Giants fan.
For dinner we went to Ayako, a Benihana clone, to celebrate my dad’s birthday. Now we’re back at the hotel and Henry and Noel are relaxing playing video games. Relaxing for them, anyway.
Tomorrow we watch the Giants get their revenge against Disney’s finest. Then it’s back home tomorrow night.
Monday I fly to Denver for a Charlie Chat, live Monday night at 9p Eastern on the DISH Network, channel 101. I’ll be back on The Screen Savers on Tuesday. The garlic miasma should have subsided by then.
|Friday, 7 March 2003, 8:31 pm
I called Ken yesterday to ask how many episodes of The Screen Savers we had done. Since our five year anniversary is coming up May 28th, I thought we might be close to our 1000th episode. Here’s his response:
You called from your cell phone earlier today and asked how many episodes we’ve had because you thought we were getting close to 1,000.
Well, we missed an opportunity.
According to my records, here’s how many Screen Savers we’ve done…
1998 – 147
1999 – 220
2000 – 208
2001 – 200
2002 – 229
2003 – 43 so far
That would be 1,047 total as of today.
We reached our 1,000 episode on December 17, 2002.. a show co-hosted by Pat and Wil Wheaton.
We should do something… let’s chat.
So we went out and got drunk. Maybe on our 2000th.
|Friday, 7 March 2003, 8:17 pm
All Ore Poet
Pet All Oreo
Real Poll Toe
RE: Leap Tool
Pool Eel Art
Eat Poll Roe
Ol’ Alpo Tree
Tall Oreo E.P.
Let Oreo Lap
Port Leo Ale
Aloe to Perl
El Rolo Paté
Leo Pat Lore
Late Pro Leo
Ol’ Rope Tale
Root Poll Ale
|Monday, 3 March 2003, 6:54 pm
It’s TV Day today on The Screen Savers. The Chair of the FCC’s Digital Television Task Force will explain the planned transition to digital TV. We’ll tell you what digital TV has to offer, how to turn your computer into an HDTV receiver, and what to look for in your next TV.
We’re looking for DTV related questions for tonight, so if there’s something you want to know about digital television and HDTV call 888-989-7879 or fax 415 437-5869 by 6:30p Eastern.
As a side note, I’ve been playing with the Piano Avanti HE-3200 DLP projector to get ready for the show today. It casts an 80 inch screen on my bedroom wall which turns out to be the perfect way to watch The Sopranos. What I didn’t realize is how well it would work with my Xbox.
The Xbox has settings to support HDTV, including 480p, 720p, and 1080i resolutions. I bought a component video interface to connect it to the Piano and BAM! Wow! Most Xbox games work in HD. Some of them don’t look great (Sega’s World Series 2K2 baseball game, for instance, gets a little jaggy) but others look spectacular. Spiderman and Munch’s Oddysee are like watching movies. Xbox is surprisingly well prepared for the 21st century. Henry and I can’t wait until Rayman 3 comes out March 25.
|Sunday, 2 March 2003, 6:51 pm
Abby just pointed out that at 3:02 today it will be 3:02 03/02/03. Whee!