What have I done? (comics)

In my ongoing frivolous spending with Fantagraphics theme, I ordered the complete “Love and Rockets” series. This is a comic that I started reading in high school. I didn’t really get it back then, but I really liked the art and I could tell that there was something big going on. It has intrigued me ever since. After reading a zillion reviews saying that the series is a landmark achievement blah blah blah and seeing it on sale, I broke down and ordered it. Whoa…

 

show_image_in_imgtag.png

 

I didn’t realize that the series had gone on for close to 20 years. That’s 7 volumes at 270+pages, that’s a lot of comics… Still, at only 68 bucks, it was a steal. I’ve started the first volume and I’m enjoying it quite a bit. It’s my understanding that it gets serious later on. Right now, it’s a lot of fun. Will keep folks updated if it’s worthwhile…

Why Bento (software) is awesome

Bento is a personal database program for Macs made by Filemaker. It’s a database program for those of us that don’t really want to take the time to learn how to use an actual database. So what does it do?

 

Imagine having a table of information. It could be anything, pieces in a collection, addresses, bills you have to pay, health records, whatever. You could arrange it in a spreadsheet so it is all organized, you could even use  it to calculate stuff if there were numbers involved. Now imagine taking that info and adding pictures to each item in that group. Imagine being able to tie contacts or calendar events to those items. In addition, imagine being able to tie just about anything else to that information that you might think of. Things like URLs, ratings, times, dates, etc. can easily be added to those items. All of it is searchable by those tags as well. That’s Bento.

Bento is a great way of organizing info for all sorts of purposes. They have templates for inventories (collections, insurance purposes, etc.), class information, health records, project planning, event organizing, and lots of others. There are also thousands of other templates available for download at their site. You can always make up your own as well of course. It supports imports from excel and numbers and ties in directly with iPhoto and your address book.

So Bento is great for lots of stuff, but this is what got me, it is incredibly easy to put that same info on your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad. They have apps for those devices and it is literally one tap to synchronize the databases with each other. So, let’s say you have a database of books that you want to buy, put it on your iPhone and take it with you to the second hand bookstore. If you have  collection, you would be able to take the info with you to swap meets. If you are planning a party, you can take the database with you to both make sure you buy the right stuff and cross off people’s names as they RSVP to you. You can keep track of milage and other expenses for reimbursement purposes while you keep track of your customers and what they are buying and selling. It is the ease of portability that blew me away really. Bento gives you the simplest and fastest way to sync personal databases across your devices. It’s one thing to have data organized, it’s quite another to be mobile with it.

 

I’m sounding a bit like an ad I know, but I’m seriously impressed with this software. There are all sorts of organizing software packages out there, but this is the only one that I know of that allows you to move your info so easily. Check it out!

What did I actually learn in School? pt.3 The undergrad years

Wow, this has become a little bit more than I anticipated. Still, it’s good to keep this stuff going while I’m thinking about it. I’m realizing things as I type…

 

Graduating from high school is still one of the happiest moments of my life. I felt like I was being released from prison. Truth be told, I hadn’t really thought much about what I was going to do in college. I just wanted to do something, something interesting. Somehow high school hadn’t crushed my curiosity or my thirst for knowledge. I was drawn to photography (pardon the pun) and decided on a dual film/photography degree at the last minute. I had been known as the photographer in high school. I was probably the best technician in high school, I had pretensions of expression, but I never really developed my vision enough to do that well. Years later I realized that my photography was really a way for me to try to make sense of what I saw on a really basic level. As in, looking at reality was interesting to me and only seemed to make sense when I made an effort to understand it. Once I figured this out, I was able to pursue this without the camera. Taking pictures, doing things in the darkroom, and cameras are still all fun, but I no longer need them like I once did.

My BFA degree program had over 100 people in it freshman year, 13 of us graduated with the BFA. I’m pretty proud of that. 3/4 of the program was made up of required courses in the photography, film, TV/radio, art history, and art departments. The remaining quarter of credits were left totally open for us. WIthout exception, the courses I got the most out of were the theory classes. The tech classes were fun, but ultimately useless. Most of my technical skills and abilities were made obsolete within 10 or 15 years. The theory classes stuck with me. They taught me how to read images, how first principles shape our expression, and how do deal with things that made you think. I realized about my junior year that these critical insights are far more important than any particular thing that I might “express” in photography. To this day, I feel that an arts education structured around these ideas is a very valuable experience. In this vein, Danny Guthrie was probably the teacher that stood out the most. He wasn’t afraid to engage us in conversations about art, what it meant, what it could mean, and how to integrate it into your life. He is still who I think of when I think of teachers that made a real important contribution to my life. His teaching was more about an approach to life and art than the technical stuff. That has stuck with me and always will.

Equally important, and perhaps what allowed me to learn what I did in my photo/film theory classes was a series of philosophy classes I took. My ratio of fluff to good classes was quite good in college, but some of my philosophy courses were pretty bad. I got a minor in philosophy and religion. At the time, I took a lot of the “applied” philosophy courses like the philosophy of art and the philosophy of lies and self deception. What a waste. I wish that I had taken more of the historical philosophy courses instead. There were three classes that really stood out though, and they were all taught by the same professor. Professor Klee taught both my intro to logic and intro to symbolic logic courses. Wow, those were classes that I could not get enough of. They took me back to the one class in high school that really fired my imagination, Geometry. Studying logic really helps organize your thoughts (duh), and symbolic logic gives you an avenue for expressing arguments that is as clear and concise as possible. My new view blazed in me as only a convert’s faith could. It took years for me to understand the limits of deductive logic. Not coincidently, it took about the same amount of time for me to appreciate my religion classes.

I was an avowed atheist back then, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had socialist leanings, all based on my ever so astute logical approach to the world. Religions were a curiosity, nothing more. I only took classes on Eastern religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zen in particular. All of them helped shape how I thought about ethics and were to play an important role in my later religious life.

The third course taught by Professor Klee is probably the class that has had the deepest effect on me. I originally signed up for his “Philosophy of Science” course because I needed another class to get my minor and I liked the other two classes of his that I took. Turns out following a professor is a good way to get good classes. I expected it to be something to get through, it turned out to be a mind blowing experience. The first lecture started with him throwing an eraser across the room. He then demonstrated how that action could be explained using Aristotelian physics, Newtonian physics, and relativistic physics. So which one was right? That was what we essentially spent the rest of the semester on. The essential gist is that none of them are “right,” or at least none of them are any righter than another. We used Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to explain how people get caught in world views but don’t have any monopoly on the truth. That insight has continued to inform me on a whole host of other topics and continues to be the most influential paradigm (ahem) in my life.

I learned plenty of other things in my college life outside of classes of course. My first taste of the internet was back in ’91. Back then, it was all command line based, there was no web, no graphical interface. It was all gopher servers, WAIS and the Internic. Even then I was an infovore, I literally gave myself tendonitis the night I discovered the internet. I had trouble opening my dorm room door that night my hands were aching so badly… That’s a habit I’ve kept ever since. Gotta say, the graphical interface is quite a bit better and more entertaining…

There are too many memories and experiences from college that have shaped me to bring up here. I was pretty burned out by the time I graduated and swore that I’d never go back to school. I went into the real world and worked for a number of years. Eventually, I started taking classes again. I’ll do another post about my further education soon…

 

What did I actually learn in School? Pt. 2

I got to Gloucester in the 7th grade. 7th and 8th grade were called Intermediate school. What an awful place. It was the old high school, built in the late 50’s/early 60’s if I remember correctly. I have almost zero happy memories of actual school there. Boredom reigned supreme. I met Chuck and Dean, two guys that became good friends there, but I’m having trouble thinking of much else noteworthy. I did take band in the 7th and 8th grades, played alto sax, did pretty well. I coasted through math in the 7th grade. I don’t remember what the circumstances were, but about a month in, it was clear I shouldn’t be in that class, I literally already knew all of it. Most of my new friends were in pre-Algebra, I should have been there too. The next year they put me into Algebra I without the benefit of the pre-Algebra class. I struggled along with Algebra until much later in life… I think this was the first time I started to develop real contempt for some teachers. At best, some were nice, at worst they were actively hampering us and engaging in power games, with kids… Even then I felt like they were pathetic.

High school was mostly more of the same. There were more enjoyable teachers, but mostly boredom and pointless activities. Band was a real let down. Marching band really sucked, I had zero interest in it, probably wouldn’t have signed up for it if I had known what was involved. It was what made me decide to ditch it after freshman year. English class and Biology were real low points for me. Biology I just hated. There was nothing to figure out, it was almost all just memorization. The teacher was hot, but ugh, what a terrible class. English was maddening. I should have taken AP English, instead, I was in the level right below it. I think this was due to my inability to do well on spelling tests back in 7th and 8th grades. Never mind my reading ability and vocabulary was too high for the level, better to put me in a class that I could be bored in. We read 2, or maybe 3 abridged novels. I read the unabridged novels instead, and still beat the class to the end of them. I distinctly remember being appalled at the abridged version of A Tale of Two Cities. I had already read Great Expectations and Oliver Twist before 9th grade and really enjoyed them. The abridged version of A Tale of Two Cities cut out an entire main character!

The high point of freshman year had to be Ms. Windley’s Geometry class. We got an introduction to logic and symbolic logic and I ate it up. This was new information for me, and it had to be taught to me. It was exhilarating to have things explained to me and it just “click” with me. It challenged me and really opened up a part of my brain that had needed some stimulation. Deductive logic was something that made sense to me, and it would show up again later in life…

A couple of other classes stood out. I took two years of chemistry. Once again, I think I liked the aspect of having to figure things out. We were given the rules and some abstract concepts to constrain our view of what was happening and were told to figure it out on tests. Don’t get me wrong, most of my time in those classes was incredibly dull (Ms. Isner’s class was suicidally dull, I think I actually hallucinated in there due to a lack of mental stimulus at times), but it was still stuff that I had to pay attention to and be taught. I had to take notes! That was a sure sign of something that was new to me and required extra concentration. We had some decent books assigned to us in 11th and 12th grade. Standouts include 1984, Steppenwolf, Lord of the Flies, and I’m sure there were others. There were some books that were so awful that I’m still seething with hatred becaue we were made to read them. A Separate Peace, Madame Bovary, and Billy Budd stand out as possibly the worst books I have ever read. Part of the problem I think was that the teachers were so preoccupied with us understanding the books that they never explained why some of them are important even though they have not aged well.

Another important moment for me was in AP government my senior year. Olin Lewis took us up to Richmond so that we could hang out with a state representative for a day. It really was a significant thing for a high schooler to do and I’m glad I got the opportunity to do this. I think it had the opposite effect on me than it was supposed to have though. I followed my representative (a guy representing a district in Richmond if I remember properly) around and was appalled. We spent close to an hour in a ways and means committee meeting where they argued about the placement of commas, wasted time with procedural shenanigans, and generally did a lot of nothing. We then went to a subcommittee meeting so that my guy could plead his case to one of the senior muckty mucks in the house. The old guy essentially asked my guy what he could give him for the vote. It was log rolling at its finest. The old guy was from one of the mountain counties and didn’t give a damn about the traffic bill my guy was pushing. My guy agreed to vote for the old guy’s bill that had no relevance to his Richmond constituents (other than them footing the bill) in exchange for the old guy’s vote. It was remarkable that I was allowed to be there, but I then knew that government work was not my calling…

Mathematics was a real struggle for me after geometry. I loved geometry, and then I went into two algebra courses where I simply tried to keep up. Nothing  made any sense to me, I just went through the formulas as best I could. It all fell apart my junior year and was asked “You’re not going to take calculus are you?” by the teacher at the end of year. No, I wasn’t. I had been interested in math and that was totally driven out of me by my junior year. They wouldn’t be the last awful teachers I had in math, but they certainly had a long lasting impact on me. It wasn’t until I read a 30 page chapter in a book 10 or 12 years later did any of that stuff make sense to me. I read 30 effing pages and it explained all of my high school mathematics, why couldn’t they have presented that info in high school? Yes, I am bitter…

Umm, that’s about it for high school really. I enjoyed my time on the Tidewater Challenge team. Adam and Wade were the real stars there, but showing off my knowledge of trivia was fun. There were good times to be had in the art room, tech theatre, and a few fluff courses that were given social science titles like psychology and sociology. They mostly revolved around us talking about different things. All those things were at least fun, but I don’t think I actually learned much. What strikes me about my pre-college education is how much I ended up learning on my own and in my free time, mostly by reading stuff. It seems to me that there must have been a lot of stuff absorbed over the years I spent in school before college but I’ll be damned if I can think of much. I still have awful memories of high school, only my friends made it worth going at all. I’m so happy I hung out with you guys, I could have just as easily hung out with the “wrong crowd” and things could have been so much worse for me. Thanks to you I did OK and went on to a place where real learning took place…

What did I actually learn in school?

I’ve been reading about how degrees are being pushed too much these days. Too many people get degrees for the sake of having one and then can’t find a job because they just don’t have anything to offer. I also just read an article talking about how half of Yemen’s college grads are unemployed. I don’t remember the exact figures, but I remember a stunning number of Yemeni college students majoring in Arabic, something around 40%. Keep in mind that unlike a typical English major, a lot of an Arabic degree involves advanced grammar. In other words, it’s a course of study that will help very few folks once they get out of college. I haven’t heard any talk in these articles about what else people might have gotten out of their education other than a job, seems to be there should be a bunch.

 

Along those lines, I started to think about all of my years in school. What did I actually learn there? What proved to be useful or important to me in my life? Thinking back to my elementary days… well, I can’t remember much. I do remember moving in the 1st grade and it messing with my development. I went from copying my name off of a piece of paper in one school to being expected to take dictation at the next. I was actually put into a remedial ed group for a while. It seems to me that once they figured out that I didn’t actually have a learning disability I was placed back into the regular classes. Most of my memories involve not being able to spell and having terrible handwriting, things which I have never really gotten very good at. I remember my 4th grade science book talking about how “One day man will go to the moon,” which I thought was hilarious. We had new books the next year, they spent a chapter talking about the upcoming ice age…

I guess the thing that stands out to me the most from back then was how much I read. I read both of those textbooks even though we only used parts of them in school. I read Lord of the Rings in 3d grade and I think I read the Foundation Trilogy in 4th although I don’t remember a thing about that. I had read the entire history textbook in 4th grade within the first month or so of school. I ended up spending a lot of time bored in class. I spent a lot of time factoring big numbers in math class in the 6th grade just to kill time. I deemed homework boring and pointless. My grades started to tank and hit a low point in the 6th grade.

Interestingly enough, one class in 6th grade stands out to me. We had an “elective” course that was actually split between… 3 classes? We had  home economics, art, and music classes split evenly across a school year. I must have learned something in the home ec. class cause I’ve never been shy about working in the kitchen. The art class was a total waste of time. We were expected to draw stuff and I was hopeless at it. Advice to “just draw what I saw” wasn’t very helpful. The music course, now that was the real deal. We didn’t play anything, but I learned how to read music, tap out time to sheet music, and what different instruments sounded like. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that class changed my life. It was what, 9 weeks long? By the end I could tell my musical IQ had gone way up. I could hear much more when I listened to music and i could start to appreciate the layers and complexity as well. It was probably the first time I came into contact with actual expression.

Like I said, by 6th grade, I was bored beyond belief and was skating by with mostly D’s if I remember correctly.Then we moved. I had been living in what turned out to be a rather tony suburb of Richmond Virginia and we moved to the sticks, Gloucester, VA. Luckily for me, one of the first people I met there, and my first friend was Todd Shelton. He went on to become the Valedictorian of our graduating class. From the time I moved to Gloucester till I went to college, my friends were a much bigger influence on me than any teacher. Todd, William, Dean, and many others really pushed me, expected me to be smart and I felt like I had to live up to that expectation. All of us were in the same classes from the 7th grade through high school and their influence was the only thing that drove my grades to a respectable level.

This is getting long, so I’ll continue in the next post…

 

The new Mabook Airs

Well, they’ve done it again. The new Macbook Airs are amazing. For the longest time, we have seen a steady improvement in laptops, but they had gotten a bit boring. I mean, sure, the newest laptops were always impressive, but they were just another laptop. These new airs are something else. Once again, like so many other Apple products, you have to get your hands on one and use it before you can really appreciate it. God, i love this company… For a while, I wondered if Apple had killed off the laptop market for casual users with the iPad. It has been a runaway success and I figured that it would simply take over the laptop space for a lot of folks. Well, I think they will capture even more sales with these new beauties. Other manufacturers are going to have a hard time matching the price on a comparable computer, let alone the design. They are going to end up ceding even more market share to Apple.

Laptops have been powerful enough for most people for years. The success of the iPad pretty much proves that. We really don’t need a very powerful computer for most things nowadays. These new airs are still more powerful, but the 11″ model isn’t all that different in size and weight than the iPad. The things that gets you are the overall responsiveness and the sexiness of the design. If you haven’t done it yet, check out the video and pictures of the new laptops

But what about the iPad? These new laptops have really driven home the idea that tablets are just different than laptops no matter how much people want to replace one with the other. Even if there are functional similarities, you use them in very different ways. Laptops are best used when put onto a table. Yes, you can put them on your lap or use them in bed, but that’s really not very good for your wrists, and the heat is enough to make you sweat. Tablets work really well when you’re sitting or laying down. Because you can hold them and use them like a book, the ergonomic comfort is much better when away from a table. I think that when customers ask me which they should get, I’ll simply ask them where they will be using them.

 

I have been planning on getting a desktop computer (this one to be exact, the larger one) and an iPad for a while now. My first experience with these new Macbook Airs had me reaching for my wallet. Apple is going to have a ton of impulse purchases of these things, especially the 11″ models. After giving myself a little cooling off time, I think I’m going to stick with my original plan. The way I’m currently living, I am usually in my bed or on the couch for doing most of my web browsing and the iPad is an easy choice for those situations. When I’m sitting at my desk, the larger screen of an iMac is an easy choice. With my computer over 4 years old now, I think the desktop computer will be my next purchase. If I wasn’t in a cash bind, I’d own a Macbook Air, but for me, the iPad with the desktop makes much more sense… With the pricing on the Macbook Airs being what they are, I’m optimistic that the next generation of iMacs will also have flash memory in them. I’m waiting for that, then I’ll buy…

Luck be a lady… (stocks)

Wow, two of my stocks are going great guns this week. One has gone up 40 something percent, it’s a stem cell treatment company. I was intrigued by their potential to treat various diseases like MS. What is the product that is causing it to spike? Cosmetics… sigh…

 

The other is an oil exploration company. I bought 100 shares of it several weeks ago and it has been going up ever since. It is now to the point where I can’t afford to buy it with my normal bi-weekly contribution to my 401k. That’s good, but it would have been nice to have bought some more of it…

 

Unfortunately, I was not able to put any real money into either of these. Yes, they are nice returns, but 40 percent more of nothing much is… a little more than nothing much. I plan on selling these, put half of the profits into my stable dividend stock and put the rest towards more speculation. It’s fun, hope it lasts!

The disappearing middle class

Pundits constantly decry the disappearing middle class. The NYT article I linked to last time made a comparison of hourly workers from 1976 and today and found that their hourly wages had gone down by 7% or so. They were comparing that to folks up in the top 1% and how much more their wages had gone up. I went over my take on the top earners in my last post, I’m going to talk about those poor hourly workers…

I make the claim that even if the wages have gone down by 7%, that is more than made up for by the stunning advances in the standard of living since 1976. Think about, what has changed since then…. damn near everything really. I will use myself as an example. How many retail workers were able to travel the world in 1976? How many of them managed their own retirement accounts back then? How many had retirement accounts? How many had color TVs? No I don’t actually have a TV, but I do watch the programs on my computer, in color of course. The air is cleaner, we have things like the internet, computers, more people can afford cars, more can afford things shitake mushrooms, brie, pomegranates, food that only the wealthy had access to in 76. What about medical advances? My God, things have come a long way. Folks with MS in 1976 were essentially SOL. The same goes for any number of other diseases. The advances in imaging, drugs, etc, have literally added 5 or 6 years to our lives…

It seems to me that folks that consider themselves as middle class would solidly be in the upper classes back in 76 when viewed through the lens of what their possibilities are. That is the only real way to judge wealth. Money, even adjusted for inflation, does not tell the whole story. A person with $500 back in 1976 could do far less than the person with the equivalent amount of cash today. Think about it, how much more money would you have if you lived like middle class folks did in 1976? Drop your cell phone, cable TV, computer, and internet. How much more money would you have in your pocket each month? Drive an (on average) older  and more dangerous car, stay in an (on average) smaller house/apartment, only pay for medicine from back then, etc. It’s difficult to do of course, but its a handy way of trying to see how much wealthier we are today.

I’m not saying that wages aren’t important but I am saying that there is an awful lot more that needs to be considered when we talk about how “bad” we’re doing. We’re doing really well. Even the folks below the poverty line are doing better than they did back then. They have longer life spans, a stunning percentage have more than one car, the average number of TVs in those households is over 2. The most common medical issue? Obesity….

There is a huge middle class today and we are quite a bit better even if our wages have gone down by 7%, so smile!

Harry Potter and income inequality

There’s a lot you can do with statistics, not all of them are useful. For example, I could average all of the address numbers in a zip code. I would come up with a number, but it wouldn’t mean anything and no one would care. In a similar vein, I can compare what the wealthiest people make and compare it  to what the rest make. Once again, we’d come up with a number, but it doesn’t actually tell you anything useful. Unfortunately, a lot of people do care about it…

The only reason why income inequality might actually be useful is if you think that making a lot of money is just a bad thing. In that case, you could point at those people and say, “Look, look at all the bad stuff they’re doing!” I’ve already covered some of this  ground before, but I’ll recap. There are four ways you can make money. You can a) take money from someone else, b) buy low and sell high,  c) offer a service that people find valuable or d) come up with a new idea or insight that lots of people like. “A” is generally called theft, and if you do it on a big enough scale you can get incredibly rich. See Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong Il for examples. “B” is your typical businessman and financial wizard. “C” has various sports and entertainment superstars as examples. “D” is made up of folks like Steve Jobs and JK Rowling, . Type “a” folks are unquestionably bad, we need to have as few of those people as possible. There are quite a few people that assume that type B’s are bad, but c’mon, there’s nothing wrong with buying something and selling it for more than you paid. They perform a valuable service, and they are rewarded for it. C’s and D’s are not controversial, everyone likes them. But somehow when B’s C’s and D’s are grouped together as “the rich,” they get treated like type A’s, as if they did something wrong.

 

That’s the only basis I can think of as to why people care if people are making more money than others. A friend recently posted a link to a NYT article wondering why economists aren’t saying more about income inequality. The whole piece has at it’s core the idea that income inequality=a bad thing. Here’s a few counterpoints to that.

 

Imagine that JK Rowling moved next door to me. The income inequality in my neighborhood would shoot through the roof. Would I be worse off? Would anyone in the neighborhood? Even though she is only one person, she would impact the overall income inequality in the country. What if all of the 1000 most wealthy people moved to the US. Would we be worse off? If my next door neighbor become a football superstar, would anyone be worse off? The argument that we are actually worse off because of them only makes sense if those folks are taking money from everyone else. A lot of the arguments about why income inequality matters seem to revolve around jealousy.

The statistic of income inequality is an artifact, it is derived from something, but it has no meaning of its own. It has no descriptive power at all, it doesn’t give us any information. The fact that JK Rowling is worth $1.5 billion is totally irrelevant to me. The world is much better off due to her efforts that made her rich.  What’s wrong with that? Is it her fault if other people aren’t doing things that people consider as valuable? Should anything be done to prevent people from making gobs of money just because some people don’t? If you have a burning, powerful hatred of the type B’s of the world and feel that they should be punished (God knows why) for being wealthy, just remember that you can’t hurt them without hurting the Steve Jobs and JK Rowlings of the world.

I’ll talk about the “fact” that the wealthiest 1% have made significant gains over the last 30 years while the average hourly wage has gone down (according to the NYT article) in another post. If you want to read the original article, it is here:

Economic View – Confronting Income Inequality – NYTimes.com: “”

 

Played around with Google TV today

Stopped by the Sony store after work to look at some TVs. A guy at work put a bug in my ear about cheap, smallish TVs. Got me thinking that an actual TV would be kind of nice for hockey season… Anyway, the first thing I noticed when waling in was a 24″ TV with Google TV on it. Got a chance to play with it a bit.

 

Eh….

 

Look ma, it’s the internet! ON THE TV!!!!! Did I ever tell you I owned a WebTV? Back in the days when a Windows 98 box using a 386 processor was cutting edge tech, I had a WebTV. It did what I wanted, which was mostly getting online and email. I nearly went blind trying to read all that mostly text based internet on my TV, but I got my content. Of course a year later I dropped nearly 2 grand for the 386 based computer. The WebTV was quickly forgotten, until today.

 

The salesman brought up the Chrome browser on the fancy TV and it was…. the internet. It was WebTV 2.0. It was a lot sharper cause the TVs nowadays are that much better, but still, it wasn’t anything that I don’t have right now. The guy was trying to make a big deal about seeing the internet and the TV at the same time. I didn’t mention that I could do that now, it’s called a laptop with the TV on. And that highlights the other problem with Google TV, at lest the Sony version, it is beyond clunky. The interface is awful. Seriously, have you seen the controller? It’s a mass of tiny buttons, a total disaster. A laptop is sooooo much better, an iPad takes it to the next level. Once airplay allows you to put your iPad content directly on the TV, there really won’t be any reason to put up with the awful controller of the Sony.

 

The one thing that might help Sony’s Google TV is the Android store. The things I’ve liked about Boxee, and I think Roku does this as well, is the apps. If you’re looking for content on your TV that isn’t TV, the apps make it easy to find stuff. There are all sorts of video podcasts, webcasts, private streaming channels, web based sports, movies, etc The apps I’ve seen are a lot like on demand channels with their own content ranges. I didn’t see anything like that on the Google TV. You could do a search for content and it looks like it would grab stuff from both online and on demand. When they integrate the Android market on there, maybe there will be some interesting stuff to see.

 

After playing around a bit, I understand Apple’s approach with the Apple TV a little more. The Apple TV is much simpler, and keeps the TV the TV and doesn’t involve the internet much. I think that’s going to have much more appeal than Google’s approach. Personally, if I were to get something like this, I would drift towards a Roku or Boxee box. They seem to have a good balance between internet-ness and good old TV entertainment. I’ll be really surprised if Google achieves any widespread penetration in its current shape.