Results tagged “iPod” from kwc blog

$399 iPhone, semi-ouch

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iphone.safari.jpgApple lopped $200 off the price of the iPhone, which puts the price of early adoption at $100/month. I'm a tiny bit bitter, but its tempered by the fact that the iPhone really is the best gadget I've owned (I exempt my SLR equipment, which I consider to be 'tools'). My only real complaints are the basic ones -- I want more than 8GB, and it's much harder to get information off the device than it is on. Nothing Apple announced today changes that, though the existence of a 16GB iPod Touch sends the signal to me that Apple could put more storage into the iPhone. Perhaps Apple is keeping a 16GB iPhone off the table for awhile to temper the inevitable uproar from their iPhone user base that is locked into their 2-year contracts. They already have to deal with the backlash from the $200 price drop.

As for the iTunes WiFi music store and Starbucks partnership? Yawn. Perhaps I would care more if I actually bought more than 5 iTunes tracks per year. My most frequent use is to download free tracks and listen to previews... perhaps the latter will be useful for instant song identification.

Other iPhone thoughts

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Today's Penny Arcade made me laugh before I even clicked to view the comic: "The Microsoft Zune: 2006-2006." What Jobs orchestrated yesterday was an assassination. He named names -- Microsoft, RIM, Palm, Nokia -- put up screenshots of their products, mocked them, and pulled the trigger. It was merciless. He waited until all the manufacturers had their chance to make their CES announcements and then he announced his own product that won't come out for six months. He killed the with vapor, with words. My opinion was that the Microsoft Zune was perhaps a generation behind the iPod in refinement: with one more iteration you could imagine the Zune being on par. The 3G iPod launch on Windows was hardly stellar. Microsoft was finally understanding the need to integrate the hardware and software experience. So we must take a little bit of pity on the Zune, still learning to stand up, while Jobs stood over it with a shotgun held to its head. Perhaps it was the merciful thing to do.

When I saw the first iPod announcement, I was among those that went WTF? It wasn't the first hard drive mp3 to market and I imagined others would be able to meet the form factor quite easily. I underestimated the importance of software. Yesterday, though, even d's mom in Tennessee had heard about the iPhone. It was the front page of CNN. Billions of dollars in market cap shifted hands.

Next day thoughts on iPhone

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iphoneYesterday expressed my unbounded enthuisiam for the iPhone. I'm still 90% enthusiastic (great screen, no stupid clickwheel, solves many cellphone gripes), but the iPhone is currently vaporware. There is a big difference between making choices about a technology you would buy today versus one that is six months away. If you are willing to wait six months, then why not 10 months, 12 months? I find this line of thinking especially difficult with the iPhone: it has a two-year contract. Thus begins the paralysis of the never-ending improvements of technology.

My top area of paralysis is the 4 or 8 GB. The pattern on this paralysis is: the big screen and UI are great for __, but I won't be able to use it much with that little bit of storage. For example, video looks great on the larger screen, but a 1-hour TV show is 500MB: how are you going to leave room for other stuff? Or, yeah I'd love to sync my photos onto it, but I can take 4GB of photos in a single weekend. Or one final one: Cover Flow is nice, but how necessary is it if you only have room left for 10 songs?

The fact is, if it were just a cheaper 30GB iPod without the phone and commitment, I'd probably buy it, which is perhaps why TUAW has a post titled, "WIll the iPhone Cannibalize iPod Sales or Vice Versa?". But I really do like the phone.

Then there are the other breakdowns: * If I take it is a device of fantastic convergence, how many of those features could I use with its limited battery life? I charge my phone perhaps every three days, which I find annoying. Do I really want to give myself the choice of, "If I watch this episode of Scrubs, will I have enough battery life to talk to my parents tonight?" * The Internet browser looked great, but I imagine that Jobs was demo-ing using WiFi. Is it going to be even half as great with the relatively slow Cingular EDGE? Note: EDGE isn't even the fastest capability that Cingular has, which means that you can be sure that there will be an upgrade to the iPhone's specs in the near future. Also, how much will that EDGE plan cost?

And I'll finish with meta's sage advice: 1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia. 2. Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line 3. Never buy the first generation of new Apple hardware.

I'll be clear here: I'm still 90% certain I'll buy one, but I have six months to think about it, and six months to debate whether or not waiting another six months will solve all the problems I listed above. None of the problems I listed are inherent to the notion of an iPhone. Do I want to be the person who rushes to buy the first generation, or do I want to be part of the second generation crowd that laughs at the first generation crowd stuck in their 2 year contracts? Apple could put in a hard drive. Apple could release a 16GB flash version. Apple could upgrade from EDGE to the faster UMTS. Apple could release a cheaper iPod-only version. Apple could add video conferencing. Apple could, could, could.

I think I'm getting a new phone

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I get the widescreen iPod I've always wanted plus a smartphone? Sick.

update: and the Apple Web site now has fancy video tours

One more thought: this is the first time I haven't been jealous of Japanese cell phones.

Day of the Video: Apple

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Overall, I'm disappointed, maybe because I expected a major new device like a Video iPod or video-streaming airport, though the latter is very difficult to get right. Pretty much every site I read overpredicted for this event, which perhaps relates to the fact that it has been a long time since Apple has pulled a 'wow.'

Instead of going for one big wow, today's announcement was mostly a parade of updates. For something approximately a wow, they had to do continue their more recent trend of pre-announcing (is this Apple we're talking about?). The 640x480 video upgrade was major to me as it took the video from being iPod-only to something I might watch on a big screen, and the revamped iTunes 7.0 is nice but overdue (did anyone think that the video browser was laid out well?). The inclusion of Disney movies in the movie store is minor given Amazon's Unbox, which offers many more movies with just as many silly encumberances (I'll use neither), and the updates to the iPods were mostly minor (brighter screens, bigger storage, better battery life, new cases) with the exception of the new Shuffle -- it got a lot more attractive. The biggest item, the iTV, is months out and isn't even capable of recording TV -- it's just another box through which you can buy more stuff from Apple. It's one thing when an Apple device induces you to buy more stuff from Apple, but this really just looks like a dedicated box to fill Steve Jobs with money.

  • iTunes 7.0: The UI got a minor major revamp, which was necessary: the left pane was getting very overloaded with each successive Apple media event. There is a new album/DVD cover art flipper that looks similar to the freeware app CoverFlow (update: CoverFlow licensed their tech to Apple), which necessitated Apple finally offering free cover art (Musicmatch did this for me 6 years ago!), and there are some other needed tweaks like making the controls for iPod sync a first-class citizen.

  • iTV: Perhaps the biggest announcement was the pre-announcment of a set-top box, the iTV (side note: what is it with Apple and pre-announcements nowadays?). As far as I can tell, it's a Mac mini that just runs iTunes/Front Row. There are no input jacks for it to record TV, so most of the video will have to be purchased from Apple unless you really, really like vodcasts. I'm patient enough to wait for any show to hit DVD, so I've only purchased a TV show once when my TiVo couldn't record two programs that were on at the same time. This might be attractive for the person who likes TV but doesn't want cable.

  • aluminum Nanos: what do you do when everyone complains about scratches on their black Nanos? Make it out of metal and give people colors. As far as I can tell, that's the only big change to the line; no mention of video support though the screen and battery life have been improved.

  • Shuffle 2.0: Jobs now claims it is the World's Smallest MP3 player. I actually think is it a tad bit larger than the quarter-sized ones I've seen, but it doesn't matter too much -- it's tiny. At this form-factor, the absense of a screen finally makes more sense to me.

  • 640x480 video: at long last, the video on the iTunes store is now 640x480. I've previously whined about how 320x240 is far too small to pay money for -- it's only good enough for the iPod and looks like crap on TV -- so I'm very happy to see a more respectable encoding used.

  • Movie store: leaked awhile ago, there are now 75 Disney-related films on iTunes for purchase. yawn. I'm not a person who cares about this sort of stuff. I'd rather buy CDs because I can play them on non-Apple devices without having to reburn a playlist, and I'd rather buy a DVD because even if that is a more locked format than a CD, I actually own the DVD and I'm free from Apple deciding what devices I get to play my movies on.

  • updated iPods: gapless playback is nice -- though I had a plugin for Winamp that did this 7 years ago -- but I could care less about playing video games or inputting search text on a scrollwheel.

TiVo Desktop 2.3

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TiVo Desktop 2.3 is out with the long promised features of being able to transfer video to your PSP and iPod. This is a cool upgrade to have, but for me, the coolest thing has been the ability to auto-transfer and auto-convert videos in general. It's nice that I can then stick the converted videos on an iPod, but one of the major features of TiVo Desktop that has been missing for me is the ability to reasonably archive footage that I am interested in. I would like to keep around videos of cycling races that I know will never be put on DVD or available via BitTorrent, but with previous versions of TiVo Desktop the size of the .tivo files are often over 2GB. With TiVo Desktop 2.3, I've been able to autotransfer all my favorite cycling races and have them compressed down to about 400MB/hour. Even better: the conversion removes the .tivo DRM, so you can actually play the video in something other than Windows Media Player, like QuickTime on a Mac. Before anyone cries, "Piracy!" let me note that pirates already offer much higher quality video at the same file size than TiVo Desktop produces. TiVo Desktop 2.3 is a tool that lets you watch your video on your devices much more than ever before.

The iPod integration is a bit better than the PSP integration, which is more the fault of Sony than the fault of TiVo. I've converted many videos, but transfer very few of them to my PSP because I don't want to spend the time plugging in my PSP, navigating to the MP_ROOT directory, and then copying in videos manually -- which includes having to manually rename the files to MPxxxxx.mp4 (unless something has changed). iTunes made me realize that I've become far too lazy for that. The PSP has no iTunes equivalent to make it easy for third-parties to deliver content, unless you count the software that Sony expects you to shell out an extra $20 for, and why would any company ever spend money to support that? The fact is, no one can save the PSP from Sony.

TiVo Desktop still lacks the polish of TV TiVo, but TiVo is relinquishing a bit of control over your video and that's a very good thing. Is it worth $24.95? I would say a qualified yes: $24.95 is cheap for video, but I expect more polish out of something I pay for.

TiVo Desktop 2.3

Apple *yawn* fun

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I fail to see much fun in today's announcement of an Intel Mac mini, iPod HiFi, and leather cases.

  • Mac minis are the most exciting announcement, but this just feels like Jobs milking the MacIntel announcements -- the MacBook Pros just started shipping last week.
  • iPod HiFi is no different from any of the other Bose/JBL/etc stereos on the market -- except I don't think it's very attractive. They did add software updates to the iPods themselves, but it's minor upgrades such as large album art display.
  • The leather cases are 4x as expensive as my Case-ari leather case, but my Case-ari case is both high quality and it lets me use the controls and see the display.

If I were a thirdparty Apple accessory provider I would start looking for another platform to develop products for. Why develop accessories for the iPod when you know Apple is just going to take a huge cut of every product you sell, copy your ideas, make minor updates to the iPod firmware, and put the full weight of their marketing division behind it?

There is a balance between having total control over the user experience and farming it out to thirdparty vendors. Apple is moving towards total control over the user experience -- hardware, software, accessories, .Mac and store. This provides very little incentive for companies like Belkin, Griffin, Adobe, Konfabulator, and others to develop new and innovative products -- Apple will just copy them and win. Control over the user experience is nice, but if other companies are already making great accessories for your products, why not just help make them even better instead of pushing them out?

Microsoft has obviously gone too far into the farming out territory and lacks a good end-to-end user experience with music players. Jobs is right that Microsoft would probably have to do it's own music player if it wished to beat the iPod, but if Microsoft exercised half the control over it's platform that Apple has it would probably find itself back in antitrust court.

Today's Apple humor

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In anticipation of Apple's Feb 28th announcement, I bring you Fair and Balanced humor coverage (one dig at Apple, one dig at Microsoft):

special leak from Engadget's What Would Jobs Do 3: apple parody

Microsoft redesigns iPod packaging (click for video)

Case-ari iPod nano case review

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case-ari caseI just received my Case-ari iPod nano case, which will replacing my homemade Altoids case. The Case-ari case is similar to the premium Vaja leather cases, but about half the price as they ship from Georgia instead of Argentina and they don't offer any customization.

I approve of the Case-ari case so far. It comes with a detachable belt clip and plastic screen protectors that you stick right on the screen and scrollwheel. Strangely there is no protector for the center button. The inside of the case is plush and there is a separate cleaning cloth. The customer service, from what I have seen, is good. Within a couple hours of my order they called to let me know that my chosen color was out of stock and gave me the choice of choosing a different color, cancelling, or waiting. The case also arrived with a free Case-ari keychain and signed personalized letter. All little things, but quite a lot for a $24.95 product when compared to the crap you might find for the same price in the Apple Store.

I liked the Altoids case, but I never quite finished it and it felt silly carrying around something as large as a regular iPod to transport a nano. I may revive the Altoids case for snowboarding or the like, but otherwise the Case-ari case will be absorbing most of the blows.

New Apple laptops

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Intel dual-core Apple laptops, $1999+, and Intel dual-core iMacs. Maybe one of these days I'll finally pickup a Mac... or maybe after I recover from the purchase of my TV. Also cool to see Apple embracing video blogging and podcasting with iLife '06. An interesting tidbit from the announcement was that Apple sold 14 million iPods last quarter. That's a whole lotta white earbuds.

Note that at this time, the Apple.com homepage is still advertising the "new iMac G5" and "new Powerbooks." Hope they didn't produce too many of those.

update: apple.com has finally updated with the new products

Misc notes

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  • My aunts, uncles, and dad all grok iPod. My dad e-mailed me for Christmas to ask if I had an "IPOD." I sadly wrote back that I already had two. I think it would be fair to call this as a tipping point condition: people over the age of sixty grokking a piece of technology. I envision Steve Jobs swimming in dollar bills ala Duck Tales after the next quarterly report.
  • Katamari Gingerbread House is leagues above my own efforts at gingerbread house making.
  • Solar vs. Sonar: snortykills' sister has solar panels for her iPod. It gets about 1 hour of playback per hour of charging. He points at that this is not half as niche as the Gameboy Pocket Sonar.
  • Wishlist: one-click software to turn a mini-DVD into a VCD. My sister got a fancy mini-DVD camcorder, but the software I'm finding is either expensive or impossible for her to use.
  • Silicon Dominion my @$$: I have to drive ~10 miles to get free WiFi (at Panera)

A nano case, sort of

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I've been stopped by several Apple accessory stores over the past several weeks to try and find a case for my iPod nano. I've been using baby socks (0-3 months) as my Nano Case 1.0 and I've been wanting to provide it with slightly better protection for pocket travel. No affordable case has yet to catch my eye, so I've decided to upgrade Nano Case 1.0 from soft cover to hard cover. Nano Case 2.0 uses the same baby sock, but the sock now has a hole for viewing the screen. The modified Nano Case 1.0 with hole now sits inside of an Altoids case. A hole drilled in the bottom allows me to plug my headphones in. As soon as I find a metal file to file down the sharp bits it will be ready for primetime.

nano case nano case

Hands on iPod with video, mixed impressions

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I got my first hands-on experience with the iPod with video yesterday. My immediate impression was, "It's bigger," even though it's smaller. They aided this illusion by shrinking the scrollwheel (comparison pic). The more interesting comparisons came once I picked it up and started playing with it. Perhaps it was a matter of expectations. If someone had said, "Checkout the new iPod photo with new screen," I probably would be more favorable to it. Two disappointments came to mind:

  1. I felt strained watching video on it's tiny screen, though this may have been because the first video I watched was the Fantastic Four trailer. Although the screen had beautiful colors, I felt that I had to concentrate to watch, something I don't have to do when I watch video on the larger screen of my PSP. I was biased against it going in and nothing I experienced changed that.
  2. The ergonomics are much worse. I appreciate that they made the iPod thinner, but they also decided to change the plastic face of the iPod. Instead of the smooth, rounded edges of the third- and fourth-generation iPods, it's back to the old sharp edge of the first-generation iPod. It didn't feel as comfortable sitting in my hand as I tried to manipulate the smaller scrollwheel.

I hope that this is not Apple's final statement on handheld video playback. Apple usually tries to one-up it's competition when it enters a new space, but now I feel like they have to catch up. The only advantages they have are in video content and software, especially now that I see that Sony wants to charge $20 for software to put content on your PSP. These are not advantages that I underrate, but the handheld experience currently does not measure up to them.

Toys, toys, toys! (Nano edition)

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galleryimage06.jpg

Screw the new iPod with video -- thanks to d I have a svelte small tiny iPod nano. My Elph is jealous. My only problem is that I don't have a sock small enough to hold it. Thanks d!

update: d got some baby socks (0-3 months) for my nano. They fit perfectly. Scary small. My baby nano.

First gripes

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With euphoria of new announcements comes a bit of a hangover. Time to do a reality check (read on if you want my gripes and predictions):

Apple gets video

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ipods.video.JPGI've long wished for an iPod with video out that I could sync with my TiVo to transport my TV shows around. Now it looks like I will get something close as there is now an iPod that can playback video with video out as well as an a new 'FrontRow' media-center-like app, a new iMac with remote, TV shows for $1.99 via iTunes, and music videos. Today's laundry list of announcements show that Apple has thought about the full video experience that they wanted and waiting until they could have all the pieces in place: iPod, iMac, and store.

$1.99 is a really good price for TV shows IMHO, even if the video resolution is a bit low (324x240). It matches well againt the per episode cost of DVDs and comes with the additional benefit that you are only getting the episodes you want and sooner. It should also give Apple some leverage with the music industry, which is already losing sales due to the pricing of DVDs versus CDs. It's hard to argue for more than $0.99/song when an hour long TV show is only $1.99.

The iPod is ultimately a generic storage device, not a music player, and with the addition of photo and now video capabilities it is a more complete portable device for media. Video was the last pillar of standard media and they now have them all.

Quick thoughts

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No time, no time, some rapid fire rants and praise:

The good

Zimbra: I just check out their demo of their Web-based e-mail/calendar suite and it has some great stuff that makes me think, "why haven't more companies done that?" If there's an address in an e-mail you can mouse over and it pulls up a Google Map and if you mouse over a date reference ('tomorrow', 'Aug 20') it shows your schedule for that day. It's all about saving that extra step. The rest of the UI is pretty fancy and desktop-like, but I'm no longer sure why desktop-like is a plus.

Microsoft Max: A Microsoft product that I actually had fun with, though I have no idea why I would use it on a regular basis and the UI is confusing in all its modalities. I can't think of any other Microsoft product that I thought of as fun -- most just cause me to break DVDs (others agree). The feature I most enjoyed was the mantle, which arranges your photos in 3D space. (Examples: my nephew, Pinnacles, Red Bull). It looks great and it also lets you view more photos in less space. You can rearrange the clusters that it creates, but the ones it chose seemed intereresting. Side note: are the clusters in the mantle view randomly assigned? Some of their clusters are great, some make little sense, but overall it's a nice new spin on things.

iPod nano: strap one of those to the back of my cellphone and another to the back of my PSP. Slide another into my Elph case and ... oh, now I'm getting greedy.

Lost: is there anyone in the 18-35 demographic not watching this show? Everyone at the wedding was either watching the new episodes or catching up with the DVDs.

The maybe good

PSP + TV: The head of Sony says that soon you'll be able to watch video using the wireless capabilities of the PSP and sync with your DVR. Sounds pretty cool but I won't jump for joy unless I hear "TiVo."

The almost good

Google Desktop ate my CPU: I had to uninstall because the new Google Desktop decided that 99% of my CPU was quite nice to utilize, even when instructed to pause indexing. Rather unfortunate as there were some aspects of the sidebar I liked, even if it was ugly. You can tell that it's paying attention to what you're doing and trying to help and with a couple iterations I could imagine it becoming a great product, but not quite yet.

The probably ugly

Google Reader: davextreme pulled me aside during the wedding reception to let me know that Google had released a feed reader, news that I have been waiting to hear for a long time. Less than 24 hours is not enough to evaluate a feed reader properly -- for now I'll say that it's slick, but who wants to read through your feeds one entry at a time. BoingBoing alone has 20-40 entries a day -- even with keyboard shortcuts that means I have to hit 'j' 20-40 times to read just one site, at which point I want to rent a helper monkey to break up the monotony.

The ugly

iTunes 5.0 (Windows): can't seem to play a song without skipping and the 'streamlined' UI makes me wish for ole' big and bulky.

Flickr + Yahoo: the extra year of service plus two free giveaway accounts were nice presents, but Flickr still goes out for massages all the time and I don't want my Flickr ID linked to my Yahoo! ID.

TiVo: what the hell are they up to? I love my three TiVos, but their current directions have been entirely pro-broadcasters and anti-consumer. It's a very capable platform that they try to do less and less with every day. Why can't I play shows on my PSP? Why can't I share episodes with friends? Why is TiVo Desktop so buggy? Why why why?

iPod nano, pico, pinto

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galleryimage012.jpgApple introduced a whole slew of music stuff: iTunes 5, iPod: Harry Potter Edition and the Motorola ROKR photo (100 songs on your phone, rather paltry for an otherwise uninteresting phone). The one that caught my attention the most was the iPod 'nano', the successsor to the iPod mini. It's tiny. It uses flash instead of a hard drive, making it about the width of a #2 pencil. It's small enough that I worry about whether or not the scroll wheel on it will actually be usable. It also comes with a color screen and new features like a better clock, a lap timer, and stopwatch.

The Apple marketing team must have taken a cue from the iPod flea parody: one of the first accessory items that will be offered are 'nanotubes' -- green, purple, blue and pink slipcases -- presumably a step up from the iPod sock.

Anthropomorphic iPod (Shuffle edition)

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Newsweek has has revived the Anthropomorphic iPod argument in light of the "Random is a Virtue" iPod shuffle marketing gimmick.

More than a year ago, I outlined these concerns to Jobs; he dialed up an engineer who insisted that shuffle played no favorites. Since then, however, millions of new Podders have started shuffling, and the question has been discussed in newspapers, blogs and countless conversations. It's taking on Oliver Stone-like conspiracy buzz.

Apple execs profess amusement. "It's part of the magic of shuffle," says Greg Joswiak, the VP for iPod products. Still, I asked him last week to double-check with the engineers. They flatly assured him that "Random is random," and the algorithm that does the shuffling has been tested and reverified.

Anthropomorphic iPod

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My post frequency is down, so I'm going to cheat and mine a post from an e-mail thread.

This New York Times has an article on people and their iPods, and more specifically, how people attribute a higher level of intelligence to their iPods than actually exists. For example,

The iPod "knows somehow when I am reaching the end of my reserves, when my motivation is flagging," Mr. Greist insisted. "It hits me up with 'In Da Club,' and then all of a sudden I am in da club."

People also seem to think that the iPod favors certain artists, and point to the fact that the songs by the same artist will frequently play in proximity to one another. Often this artist will be someone the person likes, so they think that the iPod has learned their music tastes.

Personally, I think this viewpoint may be a result of how humans have a hard time comprehending random.

There is a problem that math/CS majors study called the Birthday Paradox, which asks "given N people, what is the probability that 2 have the same birthday?" It only takes 23 people for the probability to reach 50%. When we did this in class it only took ~15 people before we had two of the same birthdays. (Rubin reminds me that birthdays are not actually distributed evenly throughout the year, so the probability of having two people with the same birthday is actually much higher "since people in certain weather areas always seem to get randy around the same time").

This problem has applications to the iPod shuffling problem. Assuming that you had an equal number of songs from 100 different artists, then you would need 12 songs for there to be a 50% probability of at least two songs by the same artist (100 different artists). This doesn't mean that the songs by the same artist are 12 songs apart; it just means within that span of 12 songs there are at least 2 songs by the same artist, which means on average they will be a lot closer than 12 songs apart. If there are only 50 artists, then it only takes 9 songs, and for 200 artists it takes 17 songs.

However, like the Birthday Paradox, these assumptions are unrealistic: there are definitely artists that we have a lot more songs of, and soundtracks also inflate the number of artists. We also, as the article points out, buy more music of the kind we like. Putting this all together, even if the iPod is being completely random, it should be the case that you frequently hear songs by the same artist close together, and that artist will likely be someone you like. Thus, through complete mindless randomness, the iPod has 'learned' all about your preferences.

(I didn't verify any of the math I used in this entry)

The links overfloweth

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ultimate iPodAs if to answer my post on link dearth, the harvest is now bountiful. I should save some of these for 99, but oh well:

HULK Blog SMASH!: which shall entertain me now that the anthropomorphic mars rovers have run their course. 1

Ultimate iPod (well, not really): pqbon and I were discussing the simplicity of the iPod last night. As if to fly in the face of everything we discussed, someone mocked up what the iPod would look like with everyone's absurd feature request. 2

NYTimes on Giant Robot: mmmm, fried mochi on a George Foreman grill. Definitely will have to try that one out. 3

A reason to add Belgium to my visited countries map: Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art: Yerba Buena had a good comics exhibit awhile back, but an entire museum would be even cooler 4

tranSticks: finally, a Sony product I can say positive things about :). If done right, I think wireless tech like this can fix usability and security issues that we see with technologies like Bluetooth, while making the overall setup so much easier to understand. The color-coded sticks allow the person to actually see the setup and interact with it physically without worrying about PINs/passwords, device names, menus, etc...

Whee! Backyard coaster 2/5

1 via kottke 2 via engadget 3 via metamanda 4 via fwak 5 via boingboing

Photo of the Day: iRaq

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06-29-04.iRaq-1.jpg

Seemlessly deployed political statement...

Sony bloggin'

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After blasting Sony in my review of the Connect service, it's only fair that I list some of their cooler announcements that have hit the Net today.

VAIO PocketSony has finally launched a real iPod competitor. The VAIO pocket appears to be slightly larger than an iPod and features a color screen, ability to sync with digital cameras via USB, 20GB of storage, video playback (where does this video come from?), and weird G-Sense touchpad that you have to watch the flash animation to even begin to grok (instead of a dial, it's a 2-D raised grid that you move your thumb across). It's only in Japan, and it also costs over $500, so Apple probably isn't going to worry just yet. It also doesn't appear that it will win any beauty competitions.

In typical Sony fashion, it comes with an uber remote with LCD display. Also, in typical Sony fashion, they've stubbornly insist on converting all of the music into ATRAC format when transferred. I've already discussed how annoying this is. To me, this one annoying feature ruins the whole deal. Another deal-breaker for me is the fact that you have to use Sony's SonicStage player, which I also already discuss my annoyances with, as have others (Note: apparently Sony has already announced that there will be an update to SonicStage by summer's end to address the rampant criticism).

sony u70Another bit of news, and my reaction on this isn't as mixed, is that Sony has released a not-quite tablet PC, that IMHO is pretty innovative. It's very small as computers (click on the photo for more images), and I think it would be a good device to have around the house for channelling your media. In that regard, it may be difficult to find a niche: the screen is too small to make it usable as a day-to-day laptop, and despite the remote and earbuds it's not really a portable music player, so it all comes down to how many people have an extra $2K to spend on a computer that's easy to tote around the house as well as read e-books on (a market that still as yet has not materialized). I withhold judgement for now as to whether or not it would be useful for watching movies on airplanes, as I can't tell whether or not it has a built-in DVD drive.

Finally, Sony has finally released a widescreen laptop.

Wired: Sony Civil War

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This is an interesting Wired article on why my favorite electronics company is forced to make terrible mp3 players: full text.

It's slightly dated, but especially relevant given Apple's new music store and Sony's failures with Pressplay. Apple has it a lot easier, though, because nearly everyone who buys an Apple:
- uses iTunes
- if given the choice of mp3 player would buy an iPod
- is used to Apple controlling their entire digital life


Sony, on the other hand, makes PCs, and OpenMG is a terrible music player when compared to the best-of-breed PC applications. Thus, being forced to switch over to OpenMG or RealOne just so I can buy music online and transfer tunes to my Network Walkman isn't a great user experience for me (as I own a Sony mp3 player, I speak from experience: it's sloooow to transfer songs with the unnecessary mp3->ATRAC re-encoding).