Category Archives: April Fools

The MacMini HDTV revolution

Yesterday I was over talking with the team behind Retrevo, the consumer electronics search engine.

We all agreed that Apple TV sucks. More on that in a minute.

But we all notice a trend: hooking MacMinis up to your HTDV. I think it’s a revolution. Revolutions always start small and among the weirdos.

Dave Winer had been on me for a while to get rid of my AppleTV and get a MacMini. As with other revolutions that Dave has started it took me about 1.5 years to get what he was saying and see the brilliance in it. Seriously, he showed me RSS for 1.5 years before I really started using it.

So, a few weeks ago I bought a MacMini, partly to get Dave off of my back and partly to help him test his new software, releasing today.

Now I’m pissed that it took me so long and I’m pissed at the industry that it just doesn’t get what’s coming and they keep trying to lock me into closed boxes like the Apple TV or the Xbox. I have an Xbox too, and a Media Center, so hear me out where I’m going.

Putting a MacMini on my TV is geeky. It’s not for everyone. Damn, I sound just like someone who discovered the Apple II back in 1977. Only the geeks got personal computing back then. Most people thought personal computers were stupid, back then. Heck, Wozniak offered to HP and Atari a chance to build his personal computer. They turned him down because revolutions in this business never are very obvious at the beginning.

Anyway, how is this a revolution? Ask my son. He now plays World of Warcraft on our 60-inch screen. He never really cared about the HD screen before. Or, look at Maryam. She loves putting pictures of Milan up on it. She also is crazy about Dave Winer’s new thing. More on that in a second too.

But why is this a revolution? Easy. It has a Web browser. It’s amazing how often I use the Web browser on the TV. “But you can’t read the fonts,” I can hear you saying. That’s not true. On the Mac keyboard you hold down the “Ctrl” key and then use your mouse’s wheel to zoom in and out.

The MacMini has totally changed my TV into something that’s NOT just a TV anymore. It’s revolutionary after you use it. Especially when you compare to the Xbox’s Media Center Extender (no Web browser) or the Apple TV (no Web browser) or my DirecTV box (no Web browser).

Why isn’t it a mass-market revolution yet? Three reasons:

1. They haven’t seen Dave Winer’s new software running on it.
2. The MacMini is too expensive to be a consumer electronics purchase (it costs about $700, and the Nintendo Wii demonstrated that consumer electronics needs to cost closer to $300, which is what the AppleTV costs, but the AppleTV doesn’t come with a Web browser so is ultimately crippled and will never participate in the new HDTV revolution).
3. It still seems a bit weird to hook a computer up to a TV (although the MacMini is ultra quiet, and cute so that it overcomes two of the previous objections that people had to bringing a computer into the living room).
4. Too many people assume a TV is just for watching TV and haven’t considered doing anything else on it. Sounds like the cell phone market before the iPhone, huh?

Anyway, what does Dave Winer’s new software do? It puts pictures up on my HDTV. “Huh, that’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard,” I can hear you saying. But didn’t you also say that about Twitter? About IM? About the PC itself back in 1977? Yeah, yeah, you did, own up to it.

But it doesn’t just do that. It brings YOUR photos into my house if you put them on Flickr and I add you to my TV set. Even better, it puts professional photography up on my HDTV. Amazing images from around the world.

I love having great photography on my TV from my friends and from the best professionals around the world.

Oh, and the AppleTV does suck. I gave it to Patrick, maybe he can sell it to you so he can afford to buy a MacMini for his house.

Putting a MacMini on my HDTV was the best gadget purchase I’ve made this year.

UPDATE: I’ll demo it live over on as soon as it’s released. Dave tells me that should be tonight sometime, although it’s software so we’ll Twitter about it as soon as it’s done.

UPDATE2: we’ll be demoing it LIVE at 9 p.m. on my Qik channel. You can participate by leaving comments — I’ll see those on my cell phone.

Why are some bloggers turning on Apple?

I’m seeing more and more anti-Apple blogs lately like the one Dave Winer posted yesterday. Why is that?

Well, Apple is getting bigger and bigger and our attitude is changing. Seven years ago Apple was a cute company that was in severe trouble. People generally like rooting for the underdog. Microsoft was (and still is, really) on top so it was fun rooting against Microsoft and for the company with 4% market share.

Then they started doing stuff we liked. The stores? Sheer genius. iPods? Finally we had a great player for our MP3 collections (which many of the geeks I knew had started collecting in the mid 1990s). Macs? Moved to Intel chips. Finally we could use Windows and whatever weird OS Apple produced on the same machine. Speaking of that weird OS. Back in the 1990s it was pretty damn buggy. I remember making fun of Steve Broback cause he was an Apple freak and his Mac seemed to crash every few minutes. Compare to NT4 and Microsoft was way ahead back then. But then they brought out OSX, which was based on Unix. Overnight it seemed like my friends who were Linux geeks switched over to OSX.

Now those geeks have to wait in line at Apple stores just to get machines fixed. My son today went to a Genius bar and had to wait until 8 p.m. to get help. That didn’t used to be the case.

Add in that even Dell has bloggers and has a team of people dedicated to building relationships with bloggers while Apple employees aren’t even allowed to talk with you if you’re a blogger at the iPhone Dev Camps (at least they aren’t allowed to identify themselves as being an Apple employee).

But back to Dave Winer’s post. It’s totally ridiculous to charge $160 for a drive that costs $90 elsewhere and then force the buyer to give over his old hard drive. Freaking amazing.

So much for the brand promise of Apple.

On the other hand, when my son’s iPod battery died they gave him a new iPod without asking too many questions. That was pretty cool.

Anyway, is your opinion of Apple changing lately? Or do you think they have nothing to worry about?

Coming in 2008: iPhone battery rot?

Just picked up Patrick and turns out his iPhone is only lasting a few hours now in standby mode without doing anything on it!

So, it’s going into the shop tomorrow. Damn, we sure have a lot of problems with Apple stuff. On the other hand, Dave Winer’s Mac just died and he thinks that only means one thing: a new Mac is coming soon. Well we already KNOW a new iPhone is coming soon, so maybe Dave has a point? Me? Now I know why I keep my Nokia around.

Anyone else having problems with iPhone battery life?

Why I’m buying another Mac…

I have too much invested now in my Macintosh-based video tools. Final Cut Pro, for instance, is more than $1,000 a pop and we’ve popped that three times already. Plus there’s a network of video editors in the San Francisco area that all use Final Cut Pro and don’t like using anything on Windows. So even if I were able to make the switch and dump my software investments I am swimming upstream against the video editing community that I’m tied into here in San Francisco.

My Mac today isn’t booting up. It needs to go into the shop to get fixed. I guess the problems that started showing up last week were worse than I thought. I need a backup and I need a machine that’ll work when I go to Europe.

Now I really understand why so many people were so angry with Microsoft. People felt they didn’t have a choice in what to buy because of the ecosystem surrounding that platform and, yet, when the platform let them down they could do nothing else but rant about it.

Off to the Apple store I go.