Press "Enter" to skip to content

Year: 2004

Dear Paul Thurrott…

Could you explain just what you mean in your article [Apple Macintosh Installed Base Set To Grow Again](

1) You show Forbes quoting Goldman Sachs as saying in 2005 Apple will see “unit growth of 10% compared to our industry growth estimate of 9%”. Doesn’t that mean, at least, that *Goldman* thinks Apple’s installed base will grow relative to the rest of the industry? Why should we use Goldman’s numbers for Apple, but Gartner or Merrill Lynch’s numbers for the industry? Isn’t that comparing apples to — no, I promised not to use that phrase again…

2) You say “if just one ex-PC user switches to the Mac this year, than the Mac’s ‘installed base’ increases, rendering this headline moot.” Doesn’t this argument *support* the headline, instead of making it moot (which I looked up to make sure I understood: “1. Subject to debate; arguable / 2. b. Of no practical importance; irrelevant”)?

3) “I’ll mention once again just for kicks that I’d love to see Apple really grow its Mac market, though no one seems to believe it.” I’d *like* to believe it, but as you seem to keep going out of your way to find the worst in every Apple item, it’s hard. Perhaps twenty years’ of Macintosh use has enfeebled my mind.

Thanks for your consideration.

[Since I can hardly pretend Paul Thurrott reads my weblog, I actually sent this by email as well. Let’s see if I get an answer.]

Comments closed

The Tres Amigos of Iraq

Al Kamen in the Washington Post (scroll down):

> President Bush announced yesterday he’ll be awarding the presidential Medal of Freedom to the Tres Amigos of Iraq: former CIA chief George J. “Slam Dunk” Tenet, who gave him bad information; retired Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who didn’t have enough troops for the postwar occupation; and former Iraq viceroy L. Paul Bremer, who complained about the troop levels too late.

The Medal of Freedom? Are you kidding?

Comments closed

Prehistoric links fixed

To the fraction of a person who cares: the one [page][] on the Internet that links to my pre-MT blog is now correctly redirected to the equivalent items in the MT blog. (Originally, I used a [Redirect][] directive instead of a [Rewrite][]. After I reinstalled MT and switched to a MySQL database because the Berkeley DB was corrupted, I just put the archives at a compatible URL.)

Oh, and Google finally indexed my website again, so searching for the title of the weblog now yields the weblog as the second result (the first result is still [Blogshares][], for some reason — I don’t play, but I claimed my blog anyway).

That is all. Please resume your regular indifference.


Comments closed

Ketchup: the "Esperanto of cuisine"

I’m not sure exactly where I came across the reference to this article about [ketchup][] — apparently it hit the blogosphere a while back — but like many others I found it quite fascinating.


The author, Malcolm Gladwell, writes periodically in [The New Yorker][] on a variety of topics and apparently makes them all equally fascinating. His articles are archived [here]( (Bonus pick: [How caffeine created the modern world][].)

[The New Yorker]:
[How caffeine created the modern world]:

Comments closed


I finally got to see _The Incredibles_ — I took my wife for her birthday. (We had decided based on the reviews that it was probably too intense for my five-year-old daughter; as it turned out we were completely justified. Maybe when she’s eight.)

Summary: Fantastic. I can’t imagine any way it could have possibly been made any better. It’s difficult to imagine another studio who could have even made this movie. The set design alone is worthy of an Academy Award nomination — there’s a scene in which the walls of a room are decorated in minute detail, even though the room is not directly lit and the walls are barely visible. But as usual with Pixar, it’s the story that propels the picture; the technology is there to support the story and not to be the main focus.

Every Pixar film has met or surpassed the previous release, and _The Incredibles_ is no exception. It’s difficult to imagine how _Cars_ (scheduled for November 2005) will continue the streak; the early teaser is amusing but not particularly captivating.

Comments closed


In a previous post I suggested Googling my name might be interesting. I should have tried it myself first. 🙂

For the record, I am not a [super featherweight boxer from Queensland, Australia]( (And if I were, I wouldn’t have anywhere near an 8-7-2 record.) Nor am I an [Australian tour guide]( looking for platypuses in the Otway Forest. (Wonder if that’s the same person.)

I am also not a descendant of [William Henry Berger]( of Bern Twp., Pa., or the son of [Daniel Finn and Anna Addison]( (If you’re interested in my Finn family genealogy — hint: I’m not Irish — I’d be happy to put you in touch with my father, who’s spending his retirement tracking our family history; I believe he’s got us back to [Pepin the Short](

And finally, I’m not a [twenty-year-old from Newcastle, England](, looking for a job in a British pub in Ibiza (scroll down). Although there are days when that does sound pleasant.

(However, I *am* the person who contributed the CLU and DCL entries to the list of programs that print “Merry Christmas” in various programming languages — posted to Usenet in 1983. Boy, am I old.)

Comments closed

EA Spouse speaks out

I’m only just hearing about the [EA spouse][] who spoke out about the increasingly extreme conditions under which the SO was working. At last count this single weblog entry had 2780 comments.

[EA spouse]:

Reading the description of the EA development process from the point of view of a longtime software engineer, my mind boggles at the idea of a “pre-crunch” to ramp up for the “real” crunch, followed by a “super-crunch” — all apparently planned for in the schedule. Folks, apart from being disgraceful and probably illegal, this plain just doesn’t work; engineers get fatigued and you end up with crappy software. And no compensatory considerations for the staff? No money, no comp time? It’s not like EA is a startup company; they’re making money, and they’ve been making games for years. They should know better.

I’ve worked at three different companies, including one in the gaming subindustry. All of these companies were startups or startup-sized, and so the success or failure of any one project might mean the success or failure of the company as a whole. We knew this and reacted accordingly — when the time came, we put in the level of effort needed to accomplish the job, up to twelve- to fourteen-hour days, six or seven days a week. (I tried very hard to keep one day to myself, to protect my own sanity.)

In my experience, we were *always* compensated for our extra effort in some way, usually comp time or cash. In one case we had a specific deadline with promised bonuses for meeting it, including an extra bonus for the “team MVP.” We were given every opportunity to meet the goal (including moving the deadline back ten days after the server failed in the last month), and everyone got the MVP bonus. (We ended up not shipping for another fifteen months, but that’s another story.)

More meaningful were the “personal” rewards. Once our company president got us tickets to a Celtics playoff game (in ’85 — Bird/McHale/Parrish). At the gaming company I was given the opportunity to do a personally meaningful project and given a brand-new Mac II and hi-res color monitor to do it with. It’s a cliché to say this can mean more than the money does, but it’s also true.

So why would someone put up with the conditions described by the EA spouse? Sometimes (as in this case, seemingly) they needed a job in a weak market; sometimes they just didn’t know to expect any better.

One more story from early in my career: one Friday the boss asked me to demo my current project at the company-wide meeting on Monday. Unfortunately it wasn’t working yet, but I was young and the boss was new, and I was too intimidated to say anything. So I worked throughout the weekend, giving up going to New York on Saturday to attend a good friend’s wedding — to my lasting shame and regret. (And on Monday? No demo; something else came up at the meeting, and I didn’t speak up.)

[I wrote the above before skimming the comments. Apparently (a) EA’s record in this area is widely known, and (b) they’re not alone in this. It was nowhere near that at the gaming company I worked at in the mid-to-late ’80’s. I won’t name it here; it’s no longer around as an independent concern. If you Google my name you can probably figure it out on your own.]

Comments closed

Who, me?

[Josh Marshall]( has been trying to find out how many representatives have voted on the “DeLay rule” (the House rule change that will allow Rep. DeLay to keep his leadership position even if he is indicted by a Texas grand jury — which, to be fair, has not happened yet).

This task is made surprisingly difficult by the fact that some GOP representatives are denying that a vote has even taken place, while others say it is a private vote (and even that there are rules against disclosing the result of the vote), and still others say they will only discuss their vote in written letters to their constituents. Some are flatly refusing to say how they voted.

Rep. Christopher Shays, however, says outright [he voted against it]( Elsewhere he is variously quoted as saying there were a “handful” of other no votes, or [“between 30 and 50”]( At present Josh has identified between 16 and 18 members of “Shays’ Handful”.

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be a single representative who has gone on record as saying they voted *for* the rule change. I wonder why?

Comments closed

What to Ask the Nominee

[George Will][] has some difficult questions for the nominee for Secretary of State:

[George Will]:

> In 1991 the secretary of defense, explaining the lack of wisdom of regime change, said: “Once you’ve got Baghdad, it’s not clear what you do with it. It’s not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that’s currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it’s set up by the United States military when it’s there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?” Was Dick Cheney right?

Admittedly a question that some raised long ago; but anyway. I don’t often agree with Mr. Will, but he’s more readable than most on the right (and at least doesn’t appear to be a raving lunatic most of the time, like some).

Comments closed

Sauce for the goose, unnecessary for the gander

Despite this blog’s restart being motivated by the US political situation, I’ve been somewhat remiss in keeping up with this topic, having drifted into a stunned malaise once the initial shock wore off.

I was unaware, for instance, that Rep. Tom DeLay was on the verge of being indicted by a Texas grand jury. (Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.)

However, the House Republicans, unwilling to let a little indictment interfere with the actions of their go-to guy, are about to change the House rule which would have required DeLay to resign his leadership position if he is indicted.

And who instituted that rule? Why, it was the House GOP, eleven years ago, when they were in the minority and held themselves to higher ethical standards than Democrats like Dan Rostenkowski. Now that they’re in charge, they can’t be bothered to even pretend anymore.

(Oh, wait, I guess they are pretending — they’re apparently drawing a distinction between a state grand jury indictment, which might be a “political manipulation of the process”, and a federal indictment. Wow. Nice one.)

And how should the Democrats respond to this? I like the suggestion of Matt Deatherage:

[S]top pretending they’re the majority-in-exile, and start being a real opposition party. That doesn’t mean opposing sensible policies for its own sake, as the GOP does — it means making the majority live with every single one of its decisions.

and specifically:

Democrats have to flood the broadcast, cable, and radio shows now as much as Republicans have ever done, and every story is about Tom DeLay. Every story about legislation is about Tom DeLay’s imminent indictment. Every process story is about how his money controls the House so completely that … most of the GOP members clearly want to adopt a pro-crime rule that says, “We don’t care if our leaders commit felonies to gain more power.” Every political story is about Tom DeLay’s corruption and illegal activities. Every one of them.

Comments closed