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Surface Tension

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As an unapologetic Apple fanboy, I am probably not the most expected source for seemingly anti-Apple sentiment. But a fact is a fact, and chief among Apple’s key strategies is waiting for years after a new service, feature or function is adopted and implemented by EVERY other competitive platform before putting their own spin on it and taking all the credit as if it were their own invention. They are almost always the last to the party, but they are always the best dressed, the most interesting, the sexiest and the only one everyone remembers the next day.

I don’t fault Apple for this type of behavior because all they are really doing is letting the other guys take the risks and make the mistakes and gauging public response based on other products before taking all of that knowledge and refining the hell out of their own product before launching it (2 or 3 years after the first one came out). Then WE, not Apple, create the notion that Apple did something new, different and spectacular. Apple is the only tech company not frothing at the mouth to be the first to a milestone. They have the foresight to know that in 5 -10 years, no one will remember who did it first. They will only remember who did it best. No one will ever say, “Did you see Apple’s new Diamond Rio Mp3 Player? It’s called an iPod.”

It’s the same with the upcoming inclusion of turn by turn GPS in iOS 6. Android has had this feature for free since 2009 or so. Apple has outright neglected this feature (like they did video recording, 3G and apps on the early iPhones), but I guarantee you that as soon as people are asking their iPhones, ” Siri, tell me how to get to the nearest Thai place,” they are going to think Apple not only invented GPS, but also the orbits that hold the satellites in place and probably The Moon too just for good measure.

So when Apple finally puts a keyboard in a Smart Cover, don’t be surprised. I feel like that’s the only real standout feature of The MS Surface. I’m sure it will be a perfectly fine tablet, but I promise you the full Windows 8 version will be at least $1000, which makes it more of a competitor to the Macbook Air than the iPad. I also think it’s foolish to release two identical products with the same name when one is essentially a full computer and the other is a tablet running an mobile version of Windows 8. Leave it to MS to create confusion within their own brand. They just don’t have that singular vision that Apple has (or perhaps had… time will tell). I do not think poorly of Windows users or MS fans, but I firmly believe they are children of a lesser Steve. Everything they release seems very “design by committee.” Actually it seems like an outside committee was hired to consult the committee that advised the design by committee committee who worked on the design for four years before being reassigned to a different project, at which point a new committee as brought in to rush the design to completion despite having no idea what it was for in the first place.

COMMENTERS: Is the MS Surface finally going to put Redmond on the hardware map? Are their any standout features of the Surface that have you excited? No? Is that because they really didn’t announce any features, like at all? Weird, huh? Is it just me or is the whole “every device must have a Metro OS” thing a horrible idea? I find the current Xbox dash nearly unusable and it’s as Metro as all get out.

Any other examples of a company or service that was “late to the party” but gets all the credit? 

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OK… But I Could Set The Internet On Fire

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[reddit-me]Hello, IE6. Whaaaat’s happening?
We have sort of a problem here.
Yeeeah. You apparently stopped rendering webpages correctly in 2001.
Mmm yeah. Ya see we’re rendering valid html correctly from now on… did you SEE the memo?
If you could just do that from now on that would be great.
And I’ll make sure you get another copy of that memo.

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Our Buttonless Future

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There was some sort of trend at E3 2009 towards getting gamers off their collective ass-flesh. Microsoft debuted it’s full body/no controller Project Natal while Sony offered their magic wand/raver glow stick hybrid dubbed the… well, nothing. They’re just calling it the PS3 motion controller. I’m sure by the time it’s released they’ll be calling it the “Cyber Lance” or “Excitement Bulb” or something.

Not being an active gamer, these products hold little promise for me for future entertainment, but I am quite intrigued by the technology involved. Microsoft has opted to do away with the controller completely (a ballsy yet foolish movie IMO) so that you can swipe furiously at menus, roundhouse kick your gamer tag to log in and scream movie preferences at your TV with all the fervor and zeal of someone who’s been on the phone with a Discover card voice-robot for 45 minutes (I think you said “Cock Shitting Fuck Mouthed Piece of Shit… If that is correct say “Yes” or Press 1). Their tech-demo was impressive but I really don’t see it translating well into an actual living room gaming experience. Although, finale getting to act out a “Hadouken” and having it actually accomplish something other than confused stares from the cats would be pretty sweet.

I think Sony actually came a lot closer to creating something people can actually use to play games. Their “web cam tracks the glowing orb in 3d space” tech makes a lot more sense to me than the Wii’s clumsier set up. Plus, you need buttons. That’s just how it is. Why would anyone think it’s easier to cartwheel across your living room than to hit A or X? Unfortunately, everyone already has an X-Box 360 (I don’t even have one and I HAVE ONE) so their arm flapping, high kicking back injury inducing system will probably prevail (if any of them do).

Oh, and Nintendo (Intenda to you Grandma’s in 1988) made a heart monitor that you ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO CLIP ON YOUR PENIS. Big deal.

Do any of these new control schemes excite you? Would you buy a system you didn’t already have to take adantage of one? Anything else from E3 that got your geek juices flowing? Why am I doing a gaming comic?

UPDATE: Lots of FB E3 09 talk on the Forum

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Like a Blacksmith, But For Songs

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DANCE, MONKEY-BOY, DANCE!

Microsoft spent hundreds of millions of dollars last year to try and undo the damage Apple’s “I’m a Mac/I’m A PC” ad campaign had done to their image. Judging from the infomercial they produced for Microsoft Songsmith (a software that lets you… well, read panel one in the comic) it only took about $500 to negate all of their damage control efforts and solidify their image as the ultimate “we still don’t get it” company.

By “it” I am referring to “cool” not quality. Microsoft products may fit your needs perfectly and that’s just fine. I used them for over a decade before switching to a Mac and the biggest complaint I had was Windows XP Networking and file sharing NEVER working the same way from day to day or machine to machine. Other than that I was able to compute to my hearts desire. To each his own. So, while I am not suggesting that their product is actually inferior to their competition’s, I am asserting that their marketing department is a butthole chewing dumbass factory (literally a factory that manufactures dumbasses that chew on their own buttholes for sustenance). Did you watch the infomercial? Watch it! Seriously. It’s like an exercise in lack of self awareness. Blade Runners actually administer that video as part of the Voight-Kampff test to identify potential replicants. If the subject doesn’t laugh at first, then slowly start to stare in shivering disbelief, they know it’s a synthetic and “retire” it on the spot.

Now, I said MS’s products weren’t ALL inherently inferior… Songsmith certainly is the exception. It is a product that fills no need. I have been to the internet and I promise you there weren’t any kids there clammering for a software that adds 1990’s-esque midi jams to their bittersweet lyrics about ponies and ninjas and such. It’s supply on one side and an absolute vacuum of demand on the other.

Luckily the internet occasionally giveth more than it taketh away. And it hath giveth a plentiful bounty, ten fold… a bunch of mash ups of modern song lyrics backed by Songsmith’s instrumental stylings. They are truly horrifying to behold. UPDATE: Turns out the Songsmith Classics were created by HE reader azz100c. There are more horrors on her blog entertainmentweakly.com/blog.

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It’s All In The Editing

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While the new Microsoft ads make more sense than the Bill and Jerry” ads, in that they do appear to be advertising something other than confusion, I don’t see how they are supposed to be selling me on Vista. The campaign is a clear rebuttal to Apple’s “Macs are cool slackers and PC’s are John Hodgman” adverts, but they seem to be off target. Yes, most people in the world use PC hardware (technically so do I). There is no questions about that. After Service Pack 2 was released, most of those PC users were pretty content with Windows XP, and thus pretty content with their over all computing experience. “I’m a (proud) PC doesn’t even address the operating system, which I assume is Vista. I know they aren’t spending 300 million to convince me to stick with XP.

I understand that Microsoft are in “repare the brand” mode and I don’t fault them for that. Apple are certainly playing dirty, and have dealt a pretty significant blow to how the general public perceives PC’s. The thing I don’t understand about the concept of “I’m a PC” is that Microsoft doesn’t control the “PC experience.” They make an operating system and suite of software that runs on PC architecture, and they certainly popularized the format in the 80’s but they don’t have final control over how a user intereacts with their PC.

What I’m getting at is if you are comparing Microsoft to Apple you are comparing a software company with a lifestyle company. Apple makes the only Mac hardware, they make the OS, they license the peripherals and keep close tabs on the software developed for their platform. Microsoft could never hope to acquire that control over the end user experience. How many non-tech people do you know that think “my computer sucks” because their email is slow? Or maybe they think they need a new computer because it’s always crashing, when all they need is new RAM. I’ve seen dozens of acquaintances and family members throw out their old machines because they loaded it down with so much spyware that it became unusable. THIS is their user experience and MS really doesn’t have anything to do with any of that.

I’m not saying Microsoft aren’t as good as Apple. I’m saying they probably shouldn’t even be compared other than in the areas in which they directly compete (operating systems).

Regardless, does anyone find it strange that Cordelia Chase [apparantly it’s Eva Longoria] is in those Microsoft ads (or that they were made on a Mac)?