Archive for the ‘Software’ Category (feed)

Apple’s in-app subscription rules are anti-competitive

And now Apple wants 30% cut of every subscription carried out through an iOS app. And apps are not allowed anymore to include a simple link to load a web browser page and let a new user subscribe through it either. In other words, if you need to sign-up new users, and your service is not free, you either have to have existing customers that don’t need to sign up, or pay Apple a 30% cut.

At first, this doesn’t sound that bad. I mean, apps can increase their prices so they can afford to pay up Apple. But there is a specific kind of app that it’s simply impractical to do that. See, there are some companies that serve their own content, and these can compensate. But there are other companies, who license the serving content, that can’t.

I’m talking about the music streaming subscription services, like MOG, RDIO, Rhapsody, Napster 2.0, Thumbplay, Spotify etc. And then there’s Netflix, Kindle too. These apps already pay a heavy price to RIAA or studios, so their margins are very small, in the already competitive market of entertainment. It’s very possible that these companies don’t make more than 10% per song streamed, maybe much less! And now Apple wants 30% off of a $10 subscription? How could these companies survive?

Increase prices from $10 to $15, you say? How are they gonna stay competitive when iTunes Streaming is coming this year for possibly no more than $10? Yes, it IS coming, it’s the natural evolution of the music market and gadgetry/networks. This is clearly anti-competitive, because Apple will be able to offer the same service for less, by squeezing the other guys out with mafia tricks. There are anti-trust issues, as WSJ noted.

AAPL, just like RIAA and MPAA (all the AAs, it seems), are dictators. And they all take decisions that only benefit their shareholders in the very short term. Because, I can tell you right here right now, that developers will be forced to give Apple the finger, and move to Android — even if they might not like Android as much as iOS.

Talk about Apple shooting its own foot. I think this great documentary, on Netflix Instant, asks the right question to corporations: “how much is enough money, where would you stop?” A highly recommended documentary.

Sometimes I keep thinking of Apple, particularly of Steve Jobs, and how he keeps making the same mistakes over and over. Mistake in the ’80s with the Mac clones and an open ecosystem, and exact same mistakes now. Some people never learn. Either that, or he finds the eventual minuscule market share, “cozy”.

GoogleTV: Nightmare on a Remote Street

I never had anything good to say about GoogleTV 1.0. The UI sucks, the content is lacking, and it’s throughout inconsistent. But I think that my biggest peeve of all is its various remote control incarnations. I mean, look at this mess: 1, 2, 3, 4. They’re over the top, with many more buttons that I would personally like shoved in 5 remotes, let alone 1.

My biggest problem in these remotes is the TWO d-pads. They let you move with the one or the other, but they also allow you to confirm with them, only that it won’t carry through your action, because the focusing of that d-pad was at different position in the screen than the other d-pad, resulting in clicking the WRONG thing. Sure, sure, Google TV is still a 1.0 product. But THIS specific UI problem should have been fixed with a firmware update within the first few weeks. All it requires is to synchronize the two d-pad positions on the screen, so they focus on the same widget when one or the other is moved. Maybe there are some edge cases where the current behavior is needed in Chrome/Flash, but for everything else, this creates a major usability issue — especially for users who are accustomed to gaming controls (where you move your character with the left thumb, but you confirm/fire with the right). This is the No1 reason why I don’t even turn ON our GoogleTV anymore: I keep pressing the wrong controls!

What I need instead is a simple, elegant design. I do hope that GoogleTV redesigns their whole UI, but along with it creates a new Bluetooth remote like in my mockup below:

Until then, I will continue using the Roku, although I would certainly move to my Apple TV (which we currently use only for music), if Apple was to allow content providers to create their own “channels”, like Roku does. Preferably with the same UI for every channel, for consistency. But so far, the Roku, despite its simpler and dumber software, delivers a better overall experience than Google’s or Apple’s TV devices.

Vimeo for example, has a real, full-featured application on the Roku, while the web-based versions of Vimeo CouchMode/Youtube Leanback on GoogleTV suck goats because of the unnatural usability created by the web browser that’s used to deliver them (instead of having a binary app to fit perfectly in the usability of your device’s overall UI and remote control) — while AppleTV does not even allow third party apps/channels. For example, when I hit the “Menu” button, I want to see the menu for Vimeo or Youtube, not Chrome’s menu. Jeez. I guess you can say that I absolutely hate web apps on my TV. Every web app I’ve seen so far on GoogleTV (MSNBC, HBO, Blip, etc etc), is terrible UI-wise, does not fit with the overall UI and remote control buttons, does not correspond to its own “menu”, they’re all inconsistent with each other, and some are very difficult to use (parts of the HBO web app are almost impossible to use without a *real* mouse).

Why education-focused Linux distros fail to deliver

I came across Edubuntu tonight, a Linux distro focused on education. Their goal is to create a distro that official education organizations can use to deploy to students.

As much as I hate my country for all its shortcomings, I do love my country just as much (if not more) for the things that it does well. And it’s because of this love why sometimes I envision how things should happen in order to bring Greece to become again all that it used to be. But it all starts with education. It’s the No 1 building block for a future.

So I’d love to see cheap netbooks given/sold to students, netbooks running an open platform, with each school having a WiFi network that can access certain web sites (e.g. Wikipedia), lets the kids to use Skype to video-chat, and with administrative tools to keep unwanted fiddling out. Most of this can be done today with Edubuntu. But the biggest feature on this laptop should be the access to interactive curriculum, and this is where Edubuntu falls short.

I’m not talking about Edubuntu providing the curriculum of course, that would be impossible as education is very different depending on the country/area/school. But what I am talking about is a PLATFORM where each country/area/school can use it to DEPLOY their curriculum. A sort of an “App Store”-type application where the kids can download books, exercises, even applications that have heavy graphics to teach them Geometry or Math. Virtual books that have annotations, comments, and clipboard support. No need to carry 8 kilos of books every day on your back (I had to endure that when I was at school), no need to learn math the old way that it’s so wrong (check the embedded videos for more), no need to buy books anymore (as it’s common in some countries). There could be even exercises carried through by team of students at the same time, kind of like collaborative word processors work, to endorse team spirit. The possibilities on how you educate kids using modern methods are endless once you go digital.

But for a government or private school to go digital, the said platform must exist. The tools they need, and the special file formats, and special apps they need to do all that, must first exist. All they must have to do is provide the CONTENT. But the infrastructure must exist, must be cohesive, must make sense. And this is the biggest feature these Linux education distros must provide. Locking down a student user account and limiting internet access (that can currently be done) should only be an afterthought to the whole education thing. What governments need first and foremost is the infrastructure to deploy content — limiting users is secondary.

Even OLPC falls short in that front. I wrote in the past that I was against a custom OS interface for educational purposes, but that’s a small misstep compared to the fact that even OLPC doesn’t get it, and never provided the said platform for deployment. Instead, they developed some useless butt-ugly tools, and expected the educators to learn Squeak or some shit like that, and write useless apps like “eToys”. No wonder OLPC went nowhere either.

Sure, OLPC’s main attraction was its supposed $100 price tag, but you see, you will have to be realistic and logical here, even if that doesn’t always mean “humanistic”. See, when a country like Greece, Italy, Spain still don’t have what I suggest above, do you think that Uganda can afford OLPC — even at its lower price tag? The answer is “no”. As cruel as this may sound, the digitization of education must start from the richer countries (heck, even USA is lacking!), and move to the poorer countries as both hardware becomes cheaper, and these countries get *the rest* of the infrastructure (e.g. server rooms, hordes of devs, country-wide internet) to run such a big project. Trying to sell OLPCs to poor countries, is like trying to sell a FORD car to some tribal leader that lives 10 Khm from the nearest paved road. You can’t force progress, sorry. It has to happen in stages.

All this is of course a big job to take on for a few volunteers, and honestly, I think this is where UN or some other organization (maybe UNESCO?), should put money where their mouth is, and help out the Edubuntu volunteers by providing R&D, engineers, and education ideas to create that server-client software platform discussed above. There is no need for custom hardware, there is no need for custom interfaces, there is no need to unearth useless programming languages. Instead, there is a need for a management and deployment solution, along interactive and [complex] apps that explain the sciences in a very visual way. All that should run on a NORMAL Linux distro (e.g. Edubuntu) and hardware (e.g. Atom netbooks), instead of the incompatible wet-dream like OLPC was. I hope UN/UNESCO takes the bite, otherwise I don’t see us going anywhere on that front…

BTW, if you made it through this article, make sure you watch the videos. They explain how educational software must go further than traditional teaching methods.

Video Quality: Vimeo vs YouTube

As I’ve written in the past, since we bought our Roku XD|S, we watch lots of online video. Of course, my favorites are mostly on Vimeo, but not because YouTube doesn’t carry the same videos (it does), but simply because it’s easier to find them on Vimeo — since quality content is encouraged, and promoted there (rather than these stupid vlogs that are getting promoted by YouTube).

So while we were watching such content, on our 50″ Pioneer plasma TV, from 2.5-3 meters away, my husband and I clearly noticed that YouTube HD videos were not as detailed as Vimeo’s. Ignoring the PNSR result graphs below, even with the naked eye the difference is noticeable. There was lack of detail and sharpness. And I’m not talking about artificial sharpness that anyone can add during post-processing, but lack of true sharpness and detail in the video compared to the original. I could see this problem on my PC too for months now, but I thought that on a TV this would not be as evident. But it was.

So I went ahead, ran some tests, and here’s what I found. Utilities used was pDiff, a pixel differentiation meter over the original, and a bandwidth calculator. The originally uploaded videos can be downloaded from Vimeo, if you’re logged-in. I used video samples from PLUS users because these are the only ones that the original file is still in tact after a week (non-PLUS users can only offer for download the re-encoded version after a week). You can double-check and verify the results after downloading some of the frames used for the comparison (12 MB).

1080p sample
YouTube: 4 mbps (includes 128 kbps audio). Pixel difference: 644980 px.
Vimeo: 4.62 mbps, 2-pass (4.5 mbps for video, 128 kbps for audio). Pixel difference: 513204 px. Please note that 1080p is only activated on Vimeo IF a Vimeo PLUS user specifically checks the 1080p box in the video’s preferences.

720p sample
YouTube: 2 mbps (includes 128 kbps audio). Pixel difference: 258864 px.
Vimeo: 2 mbps, 2-pass (includes 128 kbps audio). Pixel difference: 213288 px.

The difference looks small, but it’s actually very visible while watching something. YouTube’s version has too much softness over both Vimeo’s and the original’s. I personally think that both Vimeo and Youtube should upgrade to 2.5 mbps for 720p (with 160 kbps VBR audio), quality could be better in that resolution — there were times that I wasn’t satisfied with either of the two!

But for 1080p, Vimeo seems to have found a sweet spot at 4.6 mbps: quality is indeed stellar, and better than our Comcast cable box! This was one of the multitude of reasons we actually got rid of our cable TV just last week. On a second thought, I’d love to see Vimeo supporting 5.1 audio in 1080p, bringing the bitrate at 5 mbps overall.

Google TV file formats

For those who own a Google TV device, here is a report on the media/video file formats it supports, either via USB drive, or UPnP. Tested on my Sony ‘s GoogleTV Blu-Ray player.

The device played 1080p at: h.264 in MP4/MOV/M2TS, mpeg2 in .mpg/.m2t, MP3/XViD in AVI, MJPEG in MOV, MKV with h.264/AAC (didn’t try XViD).

The formats that were not supported are: OGG/OGV, WMV, MJPEG in AVI, 3GP, AMR. Interestingly, there is no support for WebM either.

To stream videos from your Nexus One phone (h.264/AMR in .3GP) to Google TV, you can use the freeware Android UPnP utility Twonky, which automatically re-wraps 3GP to MP4 for better compatibility. Unfortunately, while you will get picture, you won’t get any audio, since Google TV doesn’t support the AMR audio codec. To go around the problem, you will have to use Quicktime Pro on your desktop and re-wrap 3GP to MP4, while also re-encode AMR to AAC with it. h.264 needs no re-encoding.

Premiere Elements 9 now supports 24p

The new Premiere Elements 9 has quite a few new features, features that you can read about at Adobe’s own page. What I would like to talk about instead, is about its brand new 24p support, a feature that mysteriously was not mentioned anywhere in their marketing material, or other reviews — even if it’s a major feature for people who are even a tiny bit serious about video!

So, as you can see in the screenshot below, there is now AVCHD and dSLR 24p project presets. There is 1080/24p & 720/24p for dSLRs, and 720/24p for AVCHD. Unfortunately, and I hope Adobe fixes this with a free update, a 1080/24p template for AVCHD is missing. Also missing is HDV 720/24p. If you have an HD digicam instead (e.g. a Canon one), you must use the app’s… “Flip” presets.

Running files on their non-native frame rate or resolution, reduces performance (it’s only normal, this behavior applies to any video editor). This is why the way to go around the multiple choices project settings problem, is to let users pick their own project properties (res, fps, aspect ratio, field order, etc), like Sony Vegas Platinum allows you to (Elements’ main competitor).

Premiere Elements 9 now has a brand new Mac support! This is the ONLY Mac video editor that supports 24p but doesn’t cost thousands of dollars (costs just $80-$90 instead). You see, both iMovie, and the $200 Final Cut Express, don’t support 24p timelines!

Regarding h.264 performance, there’s a huge improvement! Even on my old P4 at 3 Ghz, without any hardware acceleration, 720/30p digicam h.264 files were real time! Vegas Platinum 10 was slower than Elements 9 on the same files! On 1080/24p, where both editors had trouble, Elements had an easier time! I expect 1080p to be real time on a faster machine than this old P4 computer. AVCHD performance was pretty good too, and again, I expect a real time preview on a more recent PC.

Where the application loses points in terms of performance is in its user interface. The app itself is slow. Slow to load, slow to carry through actions, and there’s a lot of “order prints”, “sign up here and there”, and other such useless garbage all over the interface. It feels like an Adobe ad, more than an app. The UI is simply overloaded, and confusing.

Regarding color grading, the Channel Mixer plugin is the most interesting tool in the app, but a 3-way color wheel would have been as useful too if it existed.

One other problem I encountered is with the logic of the app. For example, if you have a 1080/24p dSLR project and such files loaded, and then you load a 1440x1080x1.333 Cineform file, your Cineform file will load up as 4:3. Premiere only recognizes it as having aspect ratio 1.000 instead of 1.333, and there’s no way to tell the app that the file is widescreen. Vegas provides ways to do that.

There are also a few bugs. The timeline cursor doesn’t always move when you preview, the “Organize Media” doesn’t always show you the file you’re trying to load, etc. Oh, the app also crashes:

I believe that the app is in urgent need of a software update, but here’s hope. Since there’s now 24p support, and good h.264 performance, things are looking brighter. It just needs some polishing.

H.264 performance on Vegas Pro 10

Disclaimer: This article is published with Sony’s permission, but they had no say in the content or benchmarks.

Vegas Pro 10 is almost out of the door, with many new features (particularly 3D support). One feature that is of major importance to modern dSLR and digicam videographers, is its new h.264 support.

In the past, Vegas was using Quicktime or MainConcept to decode the various h.264 streams. However, especially when Quicktime was used, there was a major stability and speed problem. Add more than a handful of h.264 MOV files on your timeline, and you will be most likely looking into a crashed application. And when it would not crash, you’d probably had to deal with low frame rate performance. A very common problem for dSLR users.

Thankfully for all of us, Vegas Pro 10 has dealt with the problem by optimizing their own h.264 Sony AVC decoder, named “compoundplug.dll”. Here’s the kick of the story: the decoder does not use special h.264 decoding APIs from graphics cards (like CUDA) for full hardware acceleration (like Premiere or CoreAVC do). Instead, it’s using the generic Windows APIs, but with some hard-earned hand optimizations. The downside is, that while fast, it can’t be faster than true hardware acceleration. But it might just be “good enough” for most of us who don’t own very expensive graphics cards (and a good bonus for laptop users too who can’t install fast nVidia cards).

Optimization was carried out especially around Canon’s dSRL/digicam MOV clips. However, the optimizations are also very visible on AVCHD and .MP4 h.264 files too! How fast you ask? Here’s a rundown, from my own PC:

Vegas Pro 9 32bit (Pro/Platinum 7/8/9 numbers should be pretty close to this):
30p 1080p Canon 5D file: about 8 fps
720/60p 7D file: about 10 fps
720/30p Canon P&S digicam file: 25-30 fps
Main Profile CABAC MP4 720/30p: 12 fps
AVCHD 60i: 28-30 fps (near real-time)

Premiere Pro CS5 64bit (software rendering):
30p 1080p Canon 5D file: choppy (~10-20 fps, no exact numbers available)
720/60p 7D file: choppy (~10-20 fps, no exact numbers available)
720/30p Canon P&S digicam file: real-time
Main Profile CABAC MP4 720/30p: real-time
AVCHD 60i: Anywhere between 10 and 30 fps (very choppy at times)

Vegas Pro 10 32bit (64bit version was identical in numbers):
30p 1080p Canon 5D file: smooth, real-time playback
720/60p 7D file: smooth, real-time playback
720/30p Canon P&S digicam file: smooth, real-time playback
Main Profile CABAC MP4 720/30p: smooth, real-time playback
AVCHD 60i: smooth, real-time playback

The PC used was a DELL workstation, with a 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Quad, 6 GB of RAM, 64bit Vista, Quicktime 7.6.6. Proper project settings, and Preview(“Full”) fullscreen view were used. The video performance was measured while running on a secondary 1080p screen. Please note that playing back a file on a 1080p screen, in full screen, is slower than on a smaller window — but it makes for a better stress test, and it is how most professionals would edit anyway.

Also note that my PC does not support Adobe’s Mercury Engine (it requires an nVidia card with 768 MB of VRAM, while my 9800GT is “only” 512 MB). However, even the plain software rendering on CS5 is significantly faster than on CS4, so this is a more even comparison to the “software-only” Vegas Pro 10 decoding ability. I have no way to test this for you, but common sense says that the Mercury Engine would be faster than any software-only hand optimization.

Anyways, the point is that for us dSLR/digicam users, Vegas Pro 10 is a major update in terms of h.264 stability and performance. h.264 is now fast enough, even on less fortunate machines.

For those who prefer the old way of doing things, like, converting to Cineform, you will also be glad to know that Vegas now uses the Cineform SDK to decode Cineform files, rather than the old “Video for Windows” API. This means that some modern, extra features of Cineform (e.g. 3D) will now be working on Vegas too, the same way they do on Premiere.

Update: A friend sent me a link to test a Kodak Zi8 file (1080/30p h.264), and the results were:
– Vegas Pro 9: ~7 fps
– Vegas Pro 10: 30 fps, real time.

Update 2: Another friend sent me a link to a 1080/60p file from a Panasonic AVCHD camera. The results were:
– Vegas Pro 9: ~3-4 fps
– Vegas Pro 10: 18 fps.

RDIO is in my future

I used to get angry at Apple for not offering a 120 GB iPod Touch, so I still have to use the 120 GB iPod Classic with its clunky wheel (not very easy to navigate through countless of artists with the wheel).

Now, I feel there’s no point waiting for a bigger iPod.

You see, within a single year, my iTunes library increased from 7 GB to 87 GB (all with legal music). No matter the advances in hard drives or flash storage, my iTunes library increases at a much faster rate. There’s just too much good, legal, free music out there. I buy 2-3 albums a week too, and recently I started listening to jazz too (which means a lot more new music being added).

So the way to go around this “problem”, would be RDIO‘s or MOG‘s “sync to mobile” ability. Using this way, I will realistically never need more than 4 GBs of overall storage on my device. Which makes the iPod irrelevant, and my cellphone the only device to have with me at all times.

RDIO/MOG can stream music from their servers directly to your device, via WiFi and/or 3G. Personally, I’m not interested in streaming, apart from quick previews. Streaming via WiFi/3G is just too costly, both in terms of battery life, and data usage. And it’s also annoying when you have to wait for the connection to initiate, down-times, or when out of coverage.

So their “sync to mobile” feature is where it’s at for me. For example, before I leave for vacations, or go out on a day trip, I can go to the RDIO/MOG web site, mark the albums I want to listen, and then sync them to the device. 1-2 GB of data later, the music is downloaded in full, and lives on to the device, and I can play it locally.

Yes, you can “manually sync” your iPod too with iTunes, but the upside of RDIO/MOG is that you can select through terabytes of music rather than just your own iTunes library. Also, if you leave for vacations and you forgot to sync an album/song, you’re screwed until you come back. With RDIO/MOG, you can always stream it, and even sync it at any time, if you acquire an internet connection for a few minutes.

So it’s MOG vs RDIO. I’m leaning towards RDIO just because their Android app is more stable than MOG’s. My only problem with RDIO right now is that they don’t have all the music I want to listen to. A lot of new hip releases arrive weeks later, if at all.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’d love to see a GoogleTV app of RDIO too, fully controlled with the RDIO mobile app (with the actual TV being OFF, the way we can listen to music today with our AppleTV/Remote app).

Missing innovation at music hardware companies

I bought the Casio CTK-3000 keyboard last week, and it arrived on Tuesday. It’s Friday, and I can ALREADY play the “Bridal March“. I never had any meaningful music lessons in my life, never played the piano before.

Now, don’t get too excited. I didn’t learn to play the short melody by using the piano’s tutorials, or song book that came with. I tried, and it’s impossible. The little LCD screen above the keys is impossible to follow. The keyboard doesn’t have “slow-down” versions of the melodies for me to catch up. The keyboard doesn’t have “light” keys to show me where to press each time. To get these features you need to pay a lot more money than the $140 I paid for. As for the song book, it’s useless. I can’t read musical notation. I’d need to wait another 2 months to first learn and practice the notation, and then start playing songs. And this goes against my instant gratification needs.

I mean, really. After all these years, the Casio and Yamaha engineers that’s all they could come up with? Some tutorial software that looks like it was written with ’80s usability? On a tiny LCD that’s so crammed?

Honestly, the little innovation we’ve seen in keyboards in the last few years kind of tells me that these companies have given up, and they essentially tell you: “go pay for real lessons”.

Well, I was able to go around the keyboard’s limitations, by using the freeware version of Synthesia (I didn’t even have to buy its extra $25 learning pack). Synthesia is like Guitar Hero, but for piano. It’s a game, so it’s fun, it makes you wanna get a better score so it keeps pushing you to work harder, can use a big PC LCD monitor with nice colors to make it easier to follow it, and more importantly, it can slow down a midi piece down to 10% of its speed, so you can catch up!

So I started playing the “Bridal March” with one hand on 20% speed, on Tuesday. Wednesday, I added the second hand. Thursday, I got to 50% speed. It’s Friday, and I’m almost fluent at 80% speed. How kewl is that?

I would have never be able to do this with traditional methods of learning. It would have been much more hard work, and it would have been extremely annoying and tiresome. I would have given up within a few days.

On the side, I’m also reading a music theory book, so I learn musical notation in parallel to learning to play by ear, rather than before or after.

If you have kids, or you want to learn yourselves, I highly recommend this setup: The free version of Synthesia, and any keyboard of your choice that has touch-sensitive keys. Added bonus if your keyboard has a USB port too (otherwise you’d have to also get a midi-2-usb adapter which are not always very compatible).

FCC disclaimer: I’m not getting paid, or work for the companies mentioned or linked. These were all my own purchases and personal honest opinions.

I HATE the new Apple TV

Well, that was a dud.

The new Apple TV has removed any possible way to store files locally, and to sync. This pretty much destroys the idea of using the Apple TV as your main MUSIC device in your living room, as we can do so right now with the current Apple TV. As some of my readers already know, we use the “Remote” app on an iPod Touch to control the AppleTV’s music. By sitting on our couch, and not lifting a finger. The TV is *not* ON while we listen to music. We have a REAL, 21st Century APPLIANCE EXPERIENCE for music.

Now, the only way to do the same with the new Apple TV is to stream from your PC/Mac’s iTunes library. And this is out of the fucking question for both JBQ and I.

When we want to listen to music, we need an appliance experience. Not a “run to the office, turn on the computer, WAIT for it to load, enter a password, open iTunes, run back to the fucking living room” type of thing. WE DON’T WANT TO HAVE A PC “ON” TO LISTEN TO MUSIC. WE DON’T EVEN WANT TO HAVE THE TV “ON”, LET ALONE A PC ON A DIFFERENT ROOM. If anything, leaving a PC “on” at all times (if someone suggests this), is not “green.” It’s a terrible idea actually.

What we do now instead, is simply picking up the iPod Touch Remote from the living room table. NOTHING FUCKING ELSE. It does not compare with this fucked up usability Apple is suggesting right now! The usability we have with our current Apple TV is MILLIONS of times better than streaming!

Steve Jobs mentioned that “people don’t want to sync anymore”, but I really wonder whom he polled. Everyone I know with an Apple TV does NOT want to stream from a computer. If anything, they want a bigger hard drive in there, and with more codec support!!! So I’m pretty sure that marketing research for the Apple TV was pretty slim, and instead, we just got what Steve wanted for his house. Not what consumers needed.

And you know, the new Apple TV wouldn’t have being such a terrible product if at least had a working USB port, so we could add our own hard drive! That would have been acceptable! But noooooooo… They went purely streaming. There’s not even software in it to sync anymore!

I’m seriously thinking of buying a second older-generation Apple TV, just so if our current one dies, we can still fulfill our needs for a few more years. But JBQ is afraid that iTunes and the iPod Touch “Remote” app might cease support for the old Apple TVs, and we will be left cold and dry again.

And no, the Mac Mini is not an option, so don’t suggest it. Not only it’s prohibitively expensive for what we want it to do (3x the price of our Apple TV), but it can’t sync with our main iTunes library which lives in our PC (and I need it to live there because we also have iPods, and because a lot of the music I gather is not from iTunes, but from Amazon/web/Bandcamp etc, and needs tag-fixing). Usually I need to change tags, update album art etc, so I need to do this work on my main PC. But if the Mac Mini takes our Apple TV’s place in our living room, then I’d need a full Bluetooth keyboard and do the same tag job TWICE (once in our main PC, and once in the Mini). So this is out of the question. The “appliance” experience is going the way of the dodo! Not to mention that it doesn’t have proper audio-out, since our amplifier doesn’t have HDMI. Headphones-out won’t do the trick, quality is abysmal. So the Mac Mini is out as a solution.

As for the new iPod Touch: I would have bought one (I really wanted one), but I needed 128 GB. My iTunes library is now at 81 GB, and still growing. But there was no storage size growth this year. In fact, this was the FIRST YEAR where there was no storage upgrade for the iPods!!!

I couldn’t care less about anything else they announced today. Especially “Ping”. Like we needed a new Twitter. And like I need to know what Lady Gaga is buying, or posts about. Who. the. fuck. cares?