Category: The Rant


Digital Review has an interesting in-depth comparison between the Nikon D90/D5000 and the Canon Rebel T1i 500D. Nikon offers better build quality, double the shutter life, better ergonomics, better button/menu/interface design, better image quality, better video mode, lower pixel density, better high ISO performance…not to mention the whole lineup of lenses that so many Canon V-SLR shooters are picking up so they can shoot better video on their Canons.

Short translation: the Nikon kicks the crap out of the Canon. Again.

There’s a tremendous difference between price and value. I’m not afraid to pay top dollar for what I buy, but only if by paying more I’m receiving a greater value. I’m frankly surprised so many people can willingly spend more for less, as is almost always the case with Canon cameras. I think, generally speaking, that Canon shooters don’t understand that “more megapixels” doesn’t automatically mean “more camera”, or better images for that matter.

If you’ve seen the Laptop Hunters ads from Microsoft recently, you know that every single one of them features an Apple computer at some point during the “Hunter’s” shopping adventure. But why? Microsoft has TEN TIMES the software market share Apple has, and is the de-facto standard in personal and business computing markets. So why is Microsoft dumping incredible amounts of time, money, and emotion into this ad campaign against a flea on their back? Because they’re scared. Microsoft isn’t just scared, in fact, they’re terrified.

While on one hand you might look at Apple’s paltry 9% market share and balk at the infinitesimal nature of it, you might also contrast it with the 2.41% market share Apple held only 4 years ago. Apple is hitting the consumer/business sweet-spot hard, and Microsoft has nowhere to go but down.

Case in point: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Once hailed as the titan of web browsers with a >95% user base, IE today seems to be in a virtual market-share free-fall, nearing the 50% install base for all browsers worldwide. Just a few very short years ago Microsoft had a clear market advantage, while competitors had little hope of breaking in on the exclusive browser party. Yet, despite all the haughtiness of IE (maybe even because of it), other browsers such as Firefox and Safari have been able to chip away steadily at IE’s grip.

But most frightening to Microsoft must be the fact that while they’ve employed over 1,000 full-time developers at one time on IE, Mozilla employs only 175 full time employees. How did this small, lean, hodge-podge group of hackers manage to take the rug out from under Microsoft? While there are probably many factors (which I certainly won’t address here), it’s likely in part due to the fact that the Firefox developers were focused, determined, and eager to address a serious problem that was crippling the web space.

I can only see the competition having a royal fit behind closed doors in response to the current “browser war” climate. When all you have is everything, how can you survive if someone starts taking it away, little by little? In the last two years we’ve seen Microsoft pledge renewed support to web standards, CSS3/XHTML support, and even :gasp: transparent PNG’s. For those of you who don’t know how big of a deal this is, just ask your IT guy.

And don’t forget the smartphone market. I recall a couple of years back watching Steve Ballmer (chair-throwing CEO of Microsoft) scoffing violently at the idea that the iPhone posed a threat to their smartphone market dominance. His smarmy “Well, let’s wait and see, hahaha” attitude is nothing short of epic by way of fail. Not only has Microsoft lost half of their Windows Mobile presence seemingly overnight, they’ve lost nearly all of it to one, single phone: the teeny-weeny iPhone. Yes, that fledgling little phone has snuck in and stolen the proverbial wind right out of Microsoft’s smartphone sails.

And so the Déjà vu begins for Microsoft. Apple has gone from just over 2% desktop market share in ’05 to nearly 10% today. If Apple were to continue at this rate, they could theoretically own the entire OS market within the next ten years. Unlikely, but a frightening prospect for a company that has just witnessed how deafening the sound of a little trickle can become once it turns into an unstoppable landslide. Even with Microsoft’s sudden “conversion” to open web standards for their browser lineup, they’ve been able to do little to stop the inevitable slide down the slippery slope. Losing their grip on the web through IE is bad enough in a world where desktop apps are dwindling. But to lose additional OS install base to Apple, well that would be downright disastrous. Microsoft had a pretty good lock on consumer’s buying decisions because of IE. But with that strangle hold now loosened, people are beginning to peel back the scales from their eyes, and are curious to learn what else there is to see. Of course, there’s Apple. And oh, what a sight for sore eyes it is.

Then there’s the matter of money and power. Apple may be half the size of Microsoft, but as others have shown, Microsoft isn’t impenetrable. And Apple’s half-as-big size isn’t a bug that can be stepped on, it’s a smaller army with shorter swords but sharper tactics. Apple pulls in a healthy $33 Billion (that’s B) per year, and has over $15 Billion in cash on hand (probably closer to $18 bil by now). This from a company that Michael Dell (Founder of Dell Computers) stated that, if deciding what to do with Apple were up to him, he would “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders”. Oh, and that was before Apple kicked Dell to the curb, surpassing Dells market cap in 2006. Yikes!

Also, let’s not overlook the irony of Microsoft paying their “hunters” to buy a computer with Windows on it, giving the deeper impression that the only value that comes from a PC comes by way of free, not cheap, when cheap is probably the biggest selling point of the commercial. I mean, even I would be thrilled for at least one day if someone outright bought me a Kia. Still, that wouldn’t stop the realization from hitting the very next day that I wanted to sell it.

So, back to the Laptop Hunters. For Microsoft, this isn’t a campaign to be cool. This isn’t even a campaign to sell the brand or the product. This is a campaign to survive. I’ll repeat myself, because this is really the point of it all: THIS IS A CAMPAIGN TO SURVIVE. This campaign is an attempt at a controlled blast to try to stop the Apple avalanche. Because Microsoft knows if things keep going as they have been for the last 5 years, they’re Applesauce. Maybe a more apt name for Microsoft’s Laptop Hunters campaign would be Apple Sniping. Clearly, the last thing Microsoft is hunting here is laptops.

*EDIT: As of Aug. 3rd, Apple apparently has just about $25 billion in total cash.

Apple share:, IE Reference:, Mozilla reference:

Apparently, the latest Microsoft ad was shot on the super sexy RED One digital video camera. Shame. The piece borders on painful, and is a cheap reproduction of a cheap reproduction of something that shouldn’t have cost what I’m sure it did in the end. Funny that it could only be created using a Mac. Not funny that RED’s name got a little dirt on it today.

Ads that have ranged from childish plastic-dinosaur-headed pc using morons to lame action adventure wannabes compels me to ask over and over and over again: “Microsoft—WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? Does your demographic find this funny? Glad I’m not your demographic.

microsoft dinosaur head campaign

Trying to be cool. Trying to be funny. Trying to be smart. Trying, and failing. Why don’t you try just being yourself. Be honest. Be open. Be clear. What in sam hill does telling me that I’m going extinct by using last year’s “latest and greatest” Microsoft product have to do with building brand loyalty? How does showing me a lame commercial starring recently deceased MS Word character clippy make me want to trust you more than I trust a crocodile in heat?

I want to know that YOU know that you suck. That you have sucked. For the last 20 years. Then I want to hear you promise that you are changing. I want to hear that you are committed to making life better for everybody, not just your paying constituents. I want to hear you will begin supporting standards, openness, and honesty, and that this is your new mantra starting today. And five years from now when I check back in on you I want to see that this commitment has only grown stronger. Because frankly, at this point I don’t believe you any more than I believe Kim Jong-il when he says he only wants uranium so he can “…power the fizzle fountain at the National Children’s Friendly Forest Flower Exhibit, and not because I want to make nuclear warheads to blow those idiotic Americans all to hell.”

Here’s the original MS ad shot on the RED:
UPDATE: That file has been closed off to non-paying subscribers. Here’s the video on Youtube. It still sucks:

John Timmer reports on the city of Bozeman’s frightening new anti-privacy policy:

“The city of Bozeman Montana…is now requesting that potential employees hand over the login credentials for any social networking sites they frequent”

Note this is not a request to be added as a friend, but your personal and private account login information.

“Please list any and all, current personal or business websites, web pages or memberships on any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.” the form reads. But Bozeman isn’t simply interested in finding out where to look for potentially embarrassing personal details; the city wants full disclosure, since the form demands username and password information for each. City employees will apparently be able to dig through any information applicants have put online, regardless of whether it’s accessible to the public.

This sounds insanely scary to me. I don’t think I have anything to hide from anybody on my facebook, twitter, or blogs, but if someone asked me to give them my login credentials to any of those, I’d tell them to take a flying leap. Apparently, I’m the only one:

“…Sullivan indicated that nobody has objected to the city’s request for login credentials.”

Tim Wasson has given a very good explanation of why iPhone 3g users are being whiny driveling babies who need to check their entitlement at the door. Below are the comments I left at the article link:

I have to agree with this article. Although, of course, I wanted to hear that there were many more features in the “S”, and a much lower price for recent 3g buyers, I felt from day 1 (once all the whining started) of the announcement that it was quite a foolish platform from which the new iPhone-pricing-haters were standing on. I’m not saying I love AT&T, or that I think an iPhone is really worth $800 new/unsubsidized. But for such a large group of people to act so entitled was a little unsettling for me, especially when I belonged to that group, generally speaking. Nobody owes you the new iPhone 3GS, and nobody owes you a price break on it. If you want it now, pay for it. If you don’t want to pay, then finish your contract as you originally agreed.

I will say, however, that AT&T is partly to blame for their issues today. They gave their first iPhone buyers a big pile-drive to the face, and seemed to be wielding quite a lot of their muscle when they wanted us to pay the unsubsidized price for the original iPhone, but then asked us to wait 2 years before we were eligible for a subsidized price of the 3g.

Of course we all know they quickly made an about face soon after the original announcement of 2g-3g upgrade pricing. Yet, by trying to milk their new Apple customers, many of whom had just left another, better carrier for one sole reason (which was the iPhone) – this was a blunder on AT&T’s part that would come back to bite them. And it has. In spades.

So my advice to both sides –

AT&T: Stop sucking so bad and don’t be so greedy.

iPhone lusters (me included): Grow up, be reasonable, and realize that just because you can’t afford the full price of the new gadgetry doesn’t mean someone else should pay your way. Not even the sub-standard service provider, AT&T.

MacBook Pro Crashing OS X Leopard

I’ve had really bad luck with my last three Macbook Pros. Not too inspiring.


Satirically from the image:

Dear Microsoft,

Being an avid professional Mac user for many years, I’m surprised today to come to the sudden realization that you certainly must be co-designer of the OS X Kernel, and the Apple MacBook Pro. I can think of no other possibility, as this is the third time today that my computer has frozen with that impressive grey screen that tells me I’m more hosed than an ice cube on the surface of the sun. This has been happening for months, nay, years now, and I’m quite fed up with it. I bought an Apple Computer to be rid of the problems that plague the “PC”. Please return to making windows suck, and stop secretly affecting my Apple Macintosh system.

Apple, if you’re listening, this isn’t nice!


Ron Adair

I’m so happy that Microsoft has made such stunning advancements in recent years. Like today for instance, when I turned on my virtual instance of Windows running in Parallels on my Apple MacBook Pro, and it conveniently informed me (through a series of beeping sounds and pop-up notifications) that it had found new hardware. In fact, it was so helpful, you see, because I realize immediately that my recent strenuous efforts to install a power cord onto the side of my laptop computer were successful, and I needn’t fear any longer the dreaded ‘power cord re-install’.

How lucky for me.

Windows is so smart, it's sexy

What would I do without all of these helpful little notifications every time I move my mouse in Windows?

Safari blows

June 8th, 2009 Permalink

UPDATE: Lately I’ve been surfing the great world wide web with nary a flash flash plugin installed on my machine. I am now convinced my problems in the post below were largely or completely stemming from a lame Flash plugin. Go figure. Thanks for changing this for all of us, Steve.

I’ve had tons of issues with Safari, both version 3, and version 4 beta. I now have version 4 (final release), and I’m praying it’s better. I used to crash at least once or twice a day, often more. But please, Apple, in the meantime, give back the tabs on top. I like screen real estate, and you just took an extra 25 pixels off of my shortest side.

Now if I could just find a hidden pref I can hit via terminal…

Safari Tabs on Bottom SUCK!  Bring them back to the top!!!

Just read it. It’s hilarious. I laughed so hard I spit out a little food.


If you think nationalized health care, universal health care, or state funded health care is the answer to our undeniable health care crisis, then think again. Time and again this argument comes up with very strong views on each side, and quite often the information presented is just plain wrong.

England and Canada are quoted by proponents of nationalized health care as the “shining examples” of what an NHC program could be like here in the U.S. The equivalent to this rationale would be like you or I walking outside on a sunny day, and stating that the sky is green. A better example yet would be you or I stating the sky is green while being holed up in a bunker 50 stories under ground.

In other words, we like the concept of free medical care for everyone – and on paper that sounds so happy and dreamy – but for those living in these “chocolate butterflies and purple polkadot fairytale zones” (Canada and England), life is quite different than the dream of big government when they enact such legislation. Like they say, the grass is always greener until you’re on the other side.

Quoted below is an article showing just one example of what lack of competition to healthcare does for you and me (A&E stands for Accident and Emergency, and is not a reference to the TV network):

Father of two dies after six-hour wait in A&E

Sophie Goodchild, Health Editor

The family of a father of two who died after a six-hour wait in Accident and Emergency today called for an inquiry.

Stewart Fleming, 37, suffered multiple organ failure from a virus after being sent by his GP to Kent’s Medway Maritime Hospital with a note warning that he had to be seen “straight away”.

Hospital staff sent him back to queue despite the fact he was in agony. It took three hours to assess Mr Fleming as a “priority case” and another three to admit him on 12 December. Only then did doctors start treating the infection.

The railway signalman had a leg amputated before he died at Harefield Hospital near Uxbridge on Saturday. His wife Sarah, 42, described him as a “fantastic father” to Matthew, 12, and Lauren, 14. Mrs Fleming said: “I was with Stewart when the GP called the hospital. He typed us a letter and told us to go to A&E and hand this letter over and that Stewart should be treated immediately. But when we got to A&E it was full to bursting. I walked to the front with the letter and told them what the GP had said, but I was just told to go to the back of the queue.”

Medway NHS Foundation Trust today said it was “saddened to hear of the death of Stewart Fleming”. It added: “Mr Fleming came to Medway Maritime Hospital’s Emergency Department on a day when it was experiencing long waits due to a high number of admissions. The situation was not unique to Medway – hospitals across the country were all experiencing a rise in demand for their services at the time.”

(Emphasis Added)

So much for the virtues of socialism.