Grand Larseny



What's a sweatshop without a little fun?

The New iPad

Don’t call this a review. It’s more of a mild disappointment with the general level of discourse about Apple with non-tech people I run into (well, even a lot of tech-oriented people too). Take for example the new iPad.

The iPad has a completely new display that is demonstrably better than what came before. It makes every activity on the iPad more enjoyable. We can know this without having used a new iPad. Just look at the iPhone display upgrade (iPhone 3GS -> iPhone 4). It made everything more enjoyable. Going back and looking at the old display you constantly felt like you needed to blink away the ugly. Truly, the new display is a standalone feature.

The new iPad also has double the amount of RAM which will make it feel faster, and it connects to 4G wireless networks, which is a really, really fast way to connect to the internet when you’re out and about. Seriously, it’s fast.

These are not minor upgrades. And yet, most everyone I talk to looks down their nose at the progress that happens before them. It’s like that for  more than the iPad, too. People really don’t want to think there’s anything out there better than what they have. In one sense it’s definitely healthy to not spend money on things you can’t afford, and one strategy for doing that is to downplay the need for potential purchases. I can understand that.

The better strategy is to acknowledge that there is something better, but to still be happy with what you have. And, like before, that goes for more than just an iPad.

What Makes Them Pro’s

So after digitizing my thoughts about roasting your own coffee instead of purchasing it online, I’ve done the opposite the past month. See, we had to pack up the roaster during our move (oh yeah, we’re moving houses), so I couldn’t do it. Yes, this makes me a hypocrite and you should probably feel better about yourself because you’re not me. Aren’t you so smart.

Turns out, professional roasters really know what they’re doing. Who woulda thought that passionately working on your craft each day would make you better than the guy who passionately works for fifteen minutes or so a week. Plus having a coffee roaster that didn’t start out it’s life as a Ronco Rotisserie Chicken Roaster helps. In any case, the beans I’ve been getting the past month have been better in most every way. In a strange way this is a very good thing.

Now I know where I need to improve and where I’m doing well. I am getting good green beans, and this is a great start. Some of the professionally roasted beans clearly start out as good, but not great, greens. You can tell in the cup since they don’t absolutely sing, and since the roaster isn’t crowing about all the specifics of where the coffee comes from. Other times I have been able to tell because they actually say it’s from a large farm (such as La Minita in Costa Rica). These coffees are good, don’t get me wrong, but they don’t hold a candle to the great coffees I’ve been getting from places like PT’s Coffee and Terroir. My roasts don’t come close either.

I definitely can improve in my roast stability. That is, after the roast I find way too much variance between the beans in roast level, at least visually. It might be interesting to split up a batch into lighter and darker tones after roasting to see if there’s really a difference in taste. I imagine most of this variance is due to not having a slot-loading roaster. In order to load the beans into the roaster it must be cool (or at least it takes so long to load the beans it is cool by the time they are loaded). Since the roaster is starting from a low temp it is my hope that getting a slot-loading roaster will fix the variance I’m seeing.

In all this has been a very tasteful and insightful month. Oh, and I’m getting coffee from Square Mile next. Jealous?

The Daring Fireball Wanes

Daring Fireball is losing its edge.

For those who may read this who don’t know, there’s a website that’s become very popular with folks who love technology called Daring Fireball. It’s been available for readers since 2002; I’ve been a regular reader since about 2004. It is authored by one man, John Gruber. I doubt he’ll ever read this.

I have loved reading his site mainly because he states what I’m feeling about technology in good, concrete terms, and elaborates on what subtle movements by companies can mean in the long term. He is seldom wrong in his predictions. I don’t think he can handle not being the underdog, though.

Over the past few months I’ve been following along with both is writing at Daring Fireball and his regular talk show, appropriately titled The Talk Show and there is a greater undercurrent of carelessness than usual. I’ve found his writing to always be brave and honest; part of being honest is stating things as directly as possible and part of being brave is only caring about the listener you have in mind. John seems to be exceptional at this part; only caring about being honest for his intended listener.

My problem is that he seems to be caring about less and less these days. Either that or I don’t care about what he writes as much. To me, it’s an interesting case of being a victim of good fortune.

Everything John does revolves to some extent around Apple. Apple has become the largest corporation in history. Apple is now the incumbant. When you are the incumbant you are treated differently; rebels take on a different shape when they assume power. John has been a very successful rebel online, writing honestly and bravely about the up-and-coming Apple. Now that Apple has the power, the shape of John’s writing is changing in my mind.

Windows and Intel are shrinking dramatically. Yep. And?

RIM is history. About right to me; this is old news.

And then there’s the Claim Chowder1 that just keeps rolling in. Very, very old. People say stupid things, this is not news.

So now that I’ve sufficiently buried the lede, let me tell you what I think should happen. John should do what I think all successful entities should try to do: be honest and brave and open about the future. Where does he see Apple going and why is Apple going to be the best? The pieces that still resonate with me are future oriented; subtle stings at ailing companies don’t make me laugh anymore.

Psychologically speaking there are different positions you have to take when you are the majority versus when you are the minority in order to resonate with people. The minority states its case as loudly as possible and never acknowledges the opposition’s points as even potentially valid. The majority acts magnanomous in victory and emphasizes its plan. I believe in the past John’s posts followed the minority position very well.

Daring Fireball is no longer a minority blog, it’s time for it to accept success.

  1. An idea Cabel had of keeping track of outlandish predictions against Apple. The idea being a play on the phrase Clam Chowder that would be served back to the predictor once the future proves them wrong.

Digital Pencil

My Idea: digital pencil. Partnering with an existing eBook app, like the Kindle app for iPad, create a digital pencil that can sense when it’s being held and notify the app to interpret any touches as notes, not page turns or interactions with the UI.

Really, I think the idea of integrating a touch sensor in a stylus would really be amazing in terms of its usefulness. The big advantage of writing in the real world with a pen or pencil is that most of the time you can just pick it up and start writing. You generally can’t do that with an iPad. If you had a sensor in the stylus, you could.

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