Herd Mentality

Apple’s ability to produce innovative hardware is inextricably intertwined with its ability to produce innovative software. The iPhone is an even better example than the Mac.

It’s not just that Apple is different among computer makers. It’s that Apple is the only one that even can be different, because it’s the only one that has its own OS. Part of the industry-wide herd mentality is an assumption that no one else can make a computer OS — that anyone can make a computer but only Microsoft can make an OS. It should be embarrassing to companies like Dell and Sony, with deep pockets and strong brand names, that they’re stuck selling computers with the same copy of Windows installed as the no-name brands.

And then there’s HP, a company with one of the best names and proudest histories in the industry. Apple made news this week for the design and tech specs of its all-new iMacs, which start at $1199. HP made news this week for unveiling a Windows 7 launch bundle at Best Buy that includes a desktop PC and two laptops, all for $1199. That might be great for Microsoft, but how is it good for HP that their brand now stands for bargain basement prices?

Operating systems aren’t mere components like RAM or CPUs; they’re the single most important part of the computing experience. Other than Apple, there’s not a single PC maker that controls the most important aspect of its computers. Imagine how much better the industry would be if there were more than one computer maker trying to move the state of the art forward.

via Daring Fireball: Herd Mentality.

Facebook Users Are Poorer Students — And Dont Know It

Facebook Users Are Poorer Students — And Dont Know It | Epicenter from Wired.com

Like drunk drivers who insist to the arresting officer that the booze has no affect on their ability behind the wheel, college students who are on Facebook are poorer students than those who dont partake — and say it has no impact on their studies.
A study by a Ohio State University education researcher Aryn Karpinski found that the GPAs of Facebook users were in the 3.0 to 3.5 range, compared to 3.5-4.0 for non users. Not a huge spread, but maybe the difference between the grad school of your choice and your safe school.
True scientist that she is, Karpinski reports this as a correlation, not necessarily a matter of cause and effect.

This and a heavy dose of law preaching from my campus friends convinced me. I no longer get email from Facebook. I am absconding Twitter. They are over. Yes, I read blogs but I’ve whittled those down to maybe 60 posts per day, many of which can be easily skimmed or captured for archive. Its far too easy to waste time.

Keeping the iPhones and Macs in sync

This is a blatantly computer (and Mac) related post. If you have no interest, move along.

A fellow seminarian at StL and Mac user asked how I keep the family computers and phones in sync with each other. Most of this is Mac-based but might be adaptable to the PC realm. First, I tried Apple’s MobileMe and was not impressed. For a newbie, its good solution. For the geeky crowd, its too limited. So, my solution is to use other free or inexpensive solutions. Over the last day I did some more tweaking that has helped significantly.

1) I host my website/blog with iPower. Today I’d use Dreamhost. Both are low cost web hosting providers. I prefer WordPress over the iWeb blog templates. Plus with FTP/MySQL support you can do almost anything. Cost: $60/yr

2) Mail is hosted by Google. I use IMAP on the home desktop, laptop, and phone. Mail stays in sync everywhere (including sent and and drafts.) Cost: Free

3) Address Book syncs between Google and all the Macs/iPhones. A hack is necessary to get this working on Macs without an iPhone synced. http://lifehacker.com/393855/enable-google-contact-sync-without-an-iphoneipod… Cost: Free

4) For calendaring, I use Google’s CalDAV support on the Macs and Exchange support on the iPhones. We have a collaborative family calendar and then individual read-only calendars. Exchange support is limited to five calendars (for me: Chris, Anne, Family, Work, Seminary). Cost: Free

5) Photo hosting is a combination of Flickr for archive/public sharing and DropBox for sharing between our various computers and family. Plus direct uploading from iPhoto’09 makes sharing a cinch. Cost: Free (or $25/yr for Flickr Pro)

6) For backup, we have onsite backup using a Drobo and offsite using a combination of sources. iPower and Dreamhost frown against using their shared storage for backup. I have a few archives there for long term storage. For synced backups, I use Mozy Unlimited (https://www.getdropbox.com/home). Cost: $60/yr/computer.

My franken-system of iPower/Google/Flickr/Dropbox is $85 with unlimited photo storage and 2GB on the Dropbox. If you take into consideration the unlimited Mozy accounts, things look pretty good. $205/yr for unlimited backup, unlimited photo storage, high transfer limits, interchange on calendaring, sharing of contacts, WordPress, and full sync.

Compare this to $150/yr for MobileMe’s limited storage and backup (+$50/20GB/yr!), problems with downtime, and iWeb’s limited blog templates.