John C. Welch has been bitching today about how he can’t get his CS4 license installed. It’s been going on for a few hours now, and it’s pretty funny. Until it happens to you.
Yesterday, Apple replaced my MacBook Pro because of an issue I was having. The Genius took my old and new machine into the back room and transplanted the hard drive from my “broken” machine and into the new machine.
All was fine. Well, it was until I launched Fireworks today. I was presented with a dialog saying I needed to activate my copy of CS3. WTF? I understood when I had to reactivate CS3 on my MacBook Pro when I first got it. It was a different computer with a new installation. This situation, however, is completely different. This is the same damned hard drive and installation on which I already had the suite activated.
The reason this is a stupid fucking way to approach licensing is because I can’t go back and deactivate the other machine. It’s gone! And even if it wasn’t, the hard drive isn’t in it anymore! Marcus said it best recently, “Don’t treat your customers like thieves." I’ve paid for the software. I can prove that. I own this piece of shit software, but Adobe is so piss scared of piracy that they’re treating their legitimate customers like criminals. But Adobe needs to understand two things. First, the people who pirate their software are going to pirate their software and there’s nothing they can do to stop that. Second, their legitimate customers are getting sick and tired of their bullshit. It’s a sad, sad day when a legitimate customer is looking for a way to crack a legitimate copy of a software that he owns legally.
This post over at Get Rich Slowly got me thinking about how I’m currently consuming video entertainment, i.e. television, movies, etc.
To save money, we cut our cable to just the basic channels, which reduced our bill to $11.30/month. We also began to use the iTunes Music Store to subscribe to the shows that we wanted to watch. And over the past year, I’ve become a fan of Hulu, an online service that allows users to watch many past and current shows for free.
More than a year ago, we ditched cable entirely. We bought an HD antenna to get our locals in HD, which is even better than cable because the signal isn’t compressed the way I understand it. For Christmas this year, Ann Margaret bought me an HD TiVo. I paid ~$140 for a one-year TiVo service, but I’m considering ponying up for the lifetime subscription. I don’t anticipate upgrading the TiVo past this one any time soon other than to add an eSATA hard disk for more storage. We’ve spent a couple hundred dollars on iTunes TV shows, and when we rent a movie, it’s almost always from iTunes. We have a Netflix account at $17/month that we use mostly for streaming stuff.
What I have found is that, while our entertainment bill isn’t substantially lower, I consume the content differently. I buy and watch what I want to see rather than surfing cable for something “good enough” to while away an hour of my time. That’s not to say that I don’t waste a lot of time watching TV. That’s certainly true. But I watch things I enjoy more. I am watching through The Wire for the second time. (Just finished Season 3.) Moreover, I don’t watch programming as scheduled because I can consume smarter. My guilty pleasure shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Cops, and Judge Judy I record on the TiVo, watch, and delete. If a case is boring on Judge Judy, I fast forward; I don’t watch commercials; and I don’t worry about missing shows. “Time shifting” my consumption with things like the iTunes Store and TiVo mean that Monday and Wednesday night classes don’t prevent Ann Margaret and me from sitting down together to watch The Big Bang Theory & How I Met Your Mother and Lost respectively.
What it comes down to for me is that with the way I consume video entertainment now, I am in control. I say what, when, and where. This has the unanticipated effect of making me more responsible in my time management. In the past, I knew what time it was by what was on TV. “SVU is on so that means it’s time to start thinking about sleep…Now the news is on so it’s time to feed the sugar gliders and get ready for bed…Watch the weather forecast…Time for bed.” (Ever watch a late football game on TV and feel like it was earlier than it was because the 11/10c news was on?) Now, that responsibility has shifted back to me to say, “I don’t care what’s on the TV. It’s 10:30 and it’s time for bed.” Doesn’t always work that way but when it doesn’t work, I can’t blame the TV.
While J.D.’s point is about how to save money on video entertainment, my point of view is slightly different. I am more interested in taking control back and not being beholden to a box (even a big, shiny, skinny one with lots of pixels). If that costs me the same (and it almost does) as when I was paying for cable, I’m OK with that. Sometimes, freedom is worth the cost.
This morning, I’m sitting in Starbucks with my latte in one hand and my other on my keyboard going through my RSS feeds in NetNewsWire. (What, you didn’t know it was designed that way?) So, as is my habit, I began opening longer, more interesting articles in tabs in NetNewsWire and moved on through the headlines. A few minutes later, I looked up and noticed this:
That’s right! Several of the tabs that I had opened were eaten by the damned AT&T Wi-Fi login page. I could go back through my feeds and find those articles, but that’s extra work that I have to do just because AT&T and Starbucks want me to see some ads.
What’s worse is that I had already logged in this morning. (I use the Devicescape daemon. If you haven’t encountered it yet, download it and their Easy Wi-Fi app for iPhone.) So, it’s not like I just “forgot” to log in. I was logged in and AT&T “forgot” about me. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to buy a broadband mobile setup.
I have tried to talk sense to AT&T about this as well. First, they tried to bullshit me that this was the only option for having users log in to use the service. I called bullshit because there are all kinds of things such as MAC lists (I know you can spoof a MAC.) and WPA2 Enterprise like my school uses. And those are just off the top of my head. I called the situation for what it is - AT&T wants me to see ads - and this was confirmed in an email from AT&T Wi-Fi customer support.
This post doesn’t really have a point except to point out another instance of a company having its hands out at every turn. I pay - TWICE! - for AT&T Wi-Fi hotspot access: once as part of my home phone and DSL package and once for my iPhone. To me, having to see ads after I’m already paying for a service is like if they put commercials in my iTunes TV show downloads. I’ve already paid for it. If that’s not enough, raise the price, you greedy bastards.
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot from another perspective, that of personal organization, productivity, time management, whatever. I think a lot of people are really scared to get done with all the stuff they have to do because then they’ll be left alone with themselves and what it is they really want to do and who they really are and want to be. I’d like to say it sounds like a swell problem to have, but I’m not sure it won’t drive me mad when I get there myself.
Brett Kelly (@inkedmn for those of you scoring at home) tagged me in his post of a similar ilk. So, without further ado or superfluous linking…
1. I collect Pez dispensers
I have photographed (where by “I” I mean “@slb”) a bunch of them, but some of the pictures are kinda blurry as the battery got weaker. My collection is currently around 400 unique dispensers, plus some duplicates that I’ve kept in the package. I started this collection in high school (freshman year?). The most I’ve paid for one is about $15, but I’m getting to the point where I will be expanding my collection backwards in time.
2. I’m an Only Child
I have two step brothers, but I don’t really count them because they weren’t around when I was growing up and we’re different as night and day anyway.
3. I Have a Masters Degree
I completed my Masters of Theological Studies in May 2005. I did another year of masters work before I changed directions and began the program in Computer Information Technology that I will be finishing in May. In my graduate work, I studied New Testament and early Christianity for the most part. My final paper for the program was on Acts 13:25, its relation to the Gospels, and its meaning and function compositionally within Acts.
4. I’m a Steelers Fan
This might be a little less obscure given the past week’s events, but I have been a huge Steelers fan for more than ten years. I latched onto them when Kordell Stewart began playing for them after he left Colorado, but I had a strong appreciation for them before then as well. Glad I stayed latched onto the Steelers more so than Kordell Stewart. :) Now, my favorite Steeler is Troy Polamalu, partly because…
5. I’m an Orthodox Christian
I read The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Amazon affiliate link) in my first undergraduate program (this was Spring 2001 maybe?). We began attending an Orthodox church in 2004 and were chrismated in 2005 at Pascha. Orthodox thought and this book in particular is one of the key formative influences in my life.
I have seen FIF four times. The last time I saw them was in Denver on November 22, 2003. This was their final show and was played in Denver, CO. Ann Margaret and I went and it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had.
7. I was sort of a music major in college the first go round
I was in band and choir. I played low brass instruments (tuba, trombone, euphonium) and sang baritone. I took four semesters of music theory, five semesters of piano, music history, and some other classes. I took private classical guitar lessons as well. Unfortunately, due to some political and personal conflicts, I wasn’t allowed to pursue the degree completely and in the end, I had a whole bunch of electives.
So, there we go. Seven things you may or may not have known about me. So, who am I tagging? I’ll tag @slb, @incanus77, @huperniketes, @pbur, and @pbowden. Of course, if you weren’t picked, don’t be shy. Pipe up and post your list of stuff I might not know about you. Be sure to let me know. :)
Alex Payne (@al3x) recently wrote a post about what he calls “Everything Buckets.” You know the kind. Digital junk drawers that go by a variety of names such as Yojimbo, Evernote, and ShoveBox. In this age of ubiquitous capture and GTD’s emphasis on getting everything out of your head, this is an opinion that goes against much of the sentiment of computer users, programmers, and pundits.
For me as a user, I find the truth somewhere between Alex’s and Dan’s points of view. The way I distinguish between the items that I organize in the filesystem and those that I use Yojimbo for is whether or not I created the digital artifact in question. I like to save archives of tutorials and such from the web. This is information I didn’t create but that I would like to hang on to for future reference. (And for me, saving to Delicious isn’t a satisfying solution because the article might not be online forever so I save a local archive.) If I find funny pictures on the web that I want to save, I put them into Yojimbo because I don’t want them crufting up my iPhoto library, where I store the images in my digital life that I created.
Moreover, I find that when I start creating a bunch of nested folders in the filesystem to reflect my perfect taxonomy, I am building a house of cards. Taxonomical filing in the filesystem is a fragile proposition, and Alex’s suggestion to use aliases or symlinks to approach tagging is frankly ridiculous. By using tags and smart folders in Yojimbo or Evernote, (or in the filesystem for that matter), it’s possible to create a more flexible, scalable organization system.
The real question is about user behavior. It has been said that it’s possible to write FORTRAN in any language. It’s equally possible to be irresponsible and sloppy in organizing digital information. For some users, that irresponsibility is corralled in their “everything bucket,” and for others, that irresponsibility is strewn out on their ~/Desktop. It doesn’t matter what tool you use if you’re using it irresponsibly.