Growing up around Stanford University and the greater Silicon Valley (before it was Silicon Valley) I encountered my fair share of electrical engineers—a brilliant bunch who, to a person, lacked any discernible sense of humor. Today’s crop of propeller heads are a wittier (though occasionally cruder) crew, as evidenced by some of my favorite Websites and Twitter streams:
A pseudonymous goof on Apple, its CEO, and its passionate fans and detractors, Dan Lyons’ fake diary (Twitter: @fsjblog) can be funny, obscene, insightful, inspirational, and irritating—often all in the same post. Lyons started the blog while he was still a technology writer for Fortune. But even with his identity exposed, Lyons rarely pulls his punches: Companies, corporate heads, publications, politicians, journalists, and celebrities all suffer the wrath of Lyons’ faux CEO.
Another fake techno-celebrity site. Walt Mosspuppet (Twitter: @mosspuppet) is a cantankerous puppet-version of Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg. I’ve met Mossberg, and the puppet’s caustic personality is nothing like his. But that doesn’t make the videos, the blog, or the Twitter stream any less of a hoot. As with Fake Steve, the puppet’s humor often transcends mere jokes to offer real insights into technology and journalism.Read more »
I recently wrapped up my second (nearly) annual look at three leading Intel Mac virtualization products—VMware Fusion, Parallels Desktop, and VirtualBox—along with an overview piece designed to help you figure out which one best suits your needs.
If you followed my Tweets during the development of these articles, you got a glimpse behind the scense at what went into the project: “Spent 5+ hours yesterday setting up a test that will probably only merit a couple sentences in final writeup. But it had to be done.”
Based on the response to those Tweets and some e-mailed inquiries, it appeared there was some interest in a “behind the scenes” look at just how a large comparison review/roundup like this comes together. So if you’re interested, grab an All Access pass from the bin on the right, and join me on a tour of the virtualization review production studio. I’ll try to give you some idea what it takes to put together a comparison test like this, and why it can take so long for it to finally appear online. (I started this project in mid-October, and it wrapped up in mid-January.)
After a particularly trying weekend moderating the Macworld forums, it occurred to me that there are a handful of ways to become an Internet pariah in a very short period of time. In the hope that you might not fall into some of these traps, allow me to enumerate those ways.
1. Troll Let’s start with the most obvious. Take up an unreasonably opposing point of view simply to get a rise out of people. This is most effective when you visit a site devoted to Subject A and then state that just about everything related to that subject stinks. For example, visit a Nikon forum and slam its cameras in favor of Canon. Trail over to the Huffington Post and gush over Sarah Palin’s first literary effort. Drop by our sister publication PC World’s site and let them know just how much you love Snow Leopard and despise Windows. Whether your comments are based in fact or not, they’re unlikely to be welcomed.
2. Passionate cluelessness Okay, we get it that you have very strong political/religious/hygienic views. Derailing a discussion of the benefits of a new computer graphics chip to present those views in inglorious detail may not be the best way to make friends and influence people.
My wife and I recently purchased an iPod touch (8GB, second generation) primarily for our kids to use for games. After setting it up, however, I couldn’t get any sound out of the speaker—audio worked fine in headphones, but not at all when trying to use the speaker. So I made an appointment at the local Apple Store’s Genius Bar to have them take a look.
After a few minutes of blowing compressed air into the headphone jack, and plugging and unplugging headphones, the Genius gave up and handed me a new iPod touch with a functioning speaker. The whole process took about 30 minutes (including my wait time), and didn’t cost me a penny. Well, technically it didn’t cost me a penny.
In actuality, it cost me 17,390 pennies (that’s $173.90 in the more-common dollar units). That’s because I was sucked in by the real genius of the Genius Bar: it puts Apple’s customers in a store filled with desirable Apple products, and with some time to waste while waiting for their appointment at the Genius Bar. In my case, that time gave me a chance to purchase a spare battery for my 15-inch MacBook Pro, and a case and screen protectors for the iPod touch. These were all items on my “I need to get these at some point” list, but the visit to the Genius Bar was the perfect excuse to get my shopping done.
Since then, I decided to make the switch to something faster. At 7,500 feet from an AT&T central office, the fastest standard DSL speeds I could get were 2.5 Mbps down (about 310 KBps) and nearly .5 Mbps up (about 60 KBps). For things like downloading giant Apple software updates and uploading photos and HD videos, that just didn’t cut it. Although I’ve had a great experience with my ISP, DSL Extreme, over the years, the company simply couldn’t offer me better speeds for a reasonable monthly fee.
After I wrote the original story, Comcast—our local cable provider—expanded its broadband options to our house to include several faster tiers. Although weary of the company’s 250GB-per-month bandwidth cap, I bit the bullet and ordered a 15 Mbps/2 Mbps plan for about $65 a month (I don’t have Comcast cable or phone service, otherwise it would have been less expensive).