Damn wireless

So I tried to upgrade my linux last night so it would do some really cool stuff.  And I ended up fucking up the entire thing, so I started to download the new CD.  (No, they haven't come out with a new version of Ubuntu, and they won't until June 1st, but they already have a pre-release version available.  Because I like playing with fire.)

So I walk into the living room this morning, and discover that the damn thing downloaded for about five minutes after I left the room, then it gave up.  Fucker.  That means I can't reinstall linux now, I have to wait another 5 hours.  Which means I'm stuck using Windoze.  "Khhhhaaaaannnnnnnn!!!!!!!!"

Cool stuff I've come across this week:

  • A guy posed as a doctor and went door to door offering breast exams.  A few women actually went for it.  I need to try this.
  • If you're having trouble understanding the new terror alert codes, this simplifies it for you: http://www.geekandproud.net/terror/
  • Rob (a friend of mine, he was in my wedding party) sent me a link to another guy running a blog as he goes through law school.  His aptly named blog is: http://www.threeyearsofhell.com/  His problem is that he concentrates too much on school and legal stuff.  I concentrate more on real life; I get enough of school thank you very much, I'd rather concentrate on other things when I have a chance.  But he does have some very impressive features on his blog, including "EXAM WATCH," complete with a DEFCON meter.

I also have a link about Apple, but first I thought I'd share another reason why Apple is the new Evil Empire: Apple makes little girls cry.  I don't think Microsoft has ever done that; a cookie for the first person who proves me wrong (finds empirical proof that Microsoft has made a little girl cry).  But the point of this rant is an opinion article recently released by the Wall Street Journal.  They say Apple's mistake is that it wrapped its products in the ethos of the 60's and 70's.  They were the counter-culture, more concerned with saving the world than profiting off of consumers.  The classic paradigm was the "blue jeans" at Apple versus the "blue suits" at IBM.  (I wonder if anyone in Silicon Valley still wears blue suits.)  The article describes this as a marketing flaw, and points out that Apple has dropped this shtick.  No one claims that an iPod is ethically better than any other music player; it's just fashionable.

I think the article gets it wrong on two points.  First, that special brand image is what made Apple such a hit.  Think about it: "We're going to build a computer that's not compatible with the other billion computers out there.  And we're going to expect people to buy it anyway."  How the hell are you going to do that?  Brilliant marketing and a very unique, special brand image.  Apple maintained that image until very recently, with a flower-power iMac and the "Think Different" ad campaign that featured people like Rosa Parks and the Dali Lama.  Apple's uniqueness and specialness is the only thing that kept the company alive (and not just alive, but thriving).

The second way in which the WSJ article missed the point is that Apple still has a unique and special brand image.  It's not "let's save the world" any more because there aren't enough hippies.  Maybe the low sales of the flower-power iMac is what tipped Steve Jobs off.  But Apple's new unique and special brand image is coolness and fashion.  What other electronic product makes a fashion statement?  Even Sony can't do that any more.  Computers and music players are about functionality, but not with Apple.  The reason everyone buys an iPod is because if you buy something else, the message you exhude is "I'm not cool enough to buy an iPod."

When the original iMac came out, it revolutionized the entire tech industry.  Not only does everything have to have a lower-case "i" in front of it (I'm going to iPost to my iBlog, and then I'll have some iCereal with iMilk).  The bigger impact was that it created the rule that computers and other electronics have to look cool.  Take a look at a computer sold by Dell or HP or Compaq.  They ain't beige boxes any more.  They may not be Macs, but they're trying.  They're trying really hard.  Bold colors, trim, crome, brushed metal, and clear plastic are all elements of electronics design now.  Apple once again revolutionized the tech industry.

But I wouldn't expect an opinion writer for the WSJ to understand that.  He belongs to the "blue suit" mentality.  But he should understand it, because it's all about marketing.  Not only is Apple no different from any other computer maker, but it's overpriced.  You pay a lot extra for that cache.  Apple is the luxury car of electronics.  A lot of money is made by creating that type of brand image, and the WSJ should understand that.