In re: iPhone’s achillies heal?

iphone.jpgSo if you follow gadgets at all you may have heard that yesterday at 6pm the iPhone was unleashed for the relatively unheard of price in cellphone land of $499 or $599 depending on the 4gb or 8gb model. Now critics and fans have been writing about the phone for a while now, really ever since the phone was first rumored. One of the biggest weaknesses that everyone has been hyping is the lack of 3G data speed, instead opting for the much slower edge, which Apple has recently claimed was due to lower power consumption.

In reality there is potentially a much bigger problem that New York Times writer Joe Nocera points out in ‘iPhone Spin Goes Round and Round‘ (sub required) that really the iPhone faces a much bigger problem, that Apple refuses to address and it is the lack of a removable battery.

Steve Jobs has always worshipped at the altar of closed systems,” mused Mark R. Anderson of Strategic News Service, a technology newsletter. “Go back to the original MacIntosh. To get into the Mac computer required factory-only tools…I don’t think it serves the consumer…”

“And what about the people who have early battery problems? Or those who are such heavy users of their iPhone that they need a new battery after a year? The question remains, What are they supposed to do? Go without a cellphone while Apple is replacing the battery? From where I’m sitting, this is classic Apple behavior. It is perfectly happy to sell you the coolest $599 device you’ve ever seen. Just don’t expect them to be especially helpful when it runs into problems…” iPhone Spin Goes Round and Round‘ (sub required)

What does that mean? It means that you can’t carry a spare battery, it means if the battery dies (some say heavy use will end it after only 1 year, others say likely 2 – either are likely to be after the warranty is up). Even so it most importantly means if it dies you’ll have to mail the phone in, which, means armageddon for oh so many phone users. Yet it might not actually be the end of the world as Nocera thinks, instead being a GSM phone (AT&T & T Mobile are both like most of the world and unlike Verizon & Sprint) means that your phone number is connected to the transferable SIM card (easily removed on the iPhone) meaning any-phone it is placed in (GSM phone that is) will become associated with that number. I assume they will think up some scheme to toss you a loaner phone that you can pop your card into (if you don’t have 4 old ones sitting there) and while losing your movies, music, calendar for a few days, can still get your calls, I say problem solved…

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In re: Charles Whitebread lecture at Bar/Bri today

charliewhitebread.jpgIf you are or have been in law school pretty much anywhere in the country then you probably have heard of Professor Whitebread of USC.  The reason I say that is each fall he somehow visits practically a third of the law schools in the entire country (I think his site said 81 law schools this year) talking about writing essays in law school, or something to that effect (it was 1L year, which was a long time ago).  Well aside from this and teaching a few courses at USC he teaches the Bar/Bri course in criminal law in 25 classes.  How is this possible?  How can one person do all this, it doesn’t seem to make sense and why would he want to bother with all that travel.  It does help that he has quite an amazing style to his speaking (and an uncanny impersonation of small woodland creatures).

Some might complain that he narrows down the subject of Criminal Law to too little (he claims that cutting all the extra out is good as you can’t learn it all anyway and I might agree).  Anyway, he is quite a legend, quite a personality and it seems he makes quite an impact on the community of law students through his efforts, although I am a bit confused about his lecture circuit where he (or is it Thompson West the owner of Bar/Bri?) gives out a free copy of his little book on lawschool and I believe a pizza lunch as well.

In re: Anthony Bourdain’s Trip to Cleveland

Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite ‘celebrity’ chefs. Actually for the most part the true celebrity chefs I am not to big a fan of for the most part and I’ve lamented my loss of the Food Network earlier on here. Anyway, one of the few non-cooking, cooking shows that I really enjoy is Bourdain’s No Reservation’s show on the Travel Channel. On the show he travels to a country or city and documents his time and experience with local food (& some culture). Anyway, author Michael Ruhlman who is friends with Bourdain (as seen in the Las Vegas episode of No Reservations) somehow convinced Bourdain to come and do a show on Cleveland (where I grew up!), which they filmed last January. September 3 is supposed to be when the episode airs and I am really excited as I can’t imagine anything better to do. To hype up the episode they made a little teaser clip that features Bourdain and Cleveland’s legendary comic author Harvey Pekar.

One of the featured locales in the episode is The Sausage Shoppe (despite Bourdain apparently being woeful about the demise of such places, at least for now Cleveland has more then its fair share of great sausage makers although who knows how long they can keep standing).

“West Side Market , I wish we had a market that good in New York..”  “…go to the Sausage Shoppe instead of the supermarket” Bourdain said, he thought it was “authentic and artisanal,” and would create “a line around the block in Seattle or New York.” Bourdain’s Thoughts on Cleveland from PD article (link below).

Over on the Sausage Shoppe’s website they have some photos from the visit. Also listen to 90.3 WCPN’s (a Cleveland NPR station) show Around Noon archived show that feature Bourdain and Ruhlman and an article from the Plain Dealer.

In re: Bye bye parking lots?

Looking out my window at work to the East yields these amazingly stunning views of acres and acres of surface parking lots, right in the center of downtown. Time after time I have thought how this space could be put to such better use, the lots could be combined into two or three garages and a huge chunk of space could be brought back.

Apparently Jeff Edwards had the same thoughts, a local real estate mogul (the Quarry among other developments) who has purchased up all this land and has set to work with a plan to redevelop it into a residential urban neighborhood that I gotta say looks mighty interesting. Instead of the condos that are going up elsewhere downtown, he is set on building more typical housing, with personal garages and lower density housing (compared at least to vertical condo housing). The plan was revealed recently and they have since put up a large banner that wraps around the corner of N.4th and Gay St. (bottom picture shows the construction site for those first units) that shows what the first units on the corner will look like. They have also put up a new website Neighborhoodlaunch that has an interesting walking tour movie and a before and after rendering of the neighborhood. (Also see Dispatch)

Of course parking is bound to be an issue with all these lots being taken away eventually and city planners are supposedly picking up the ball and determining how best to address the problem. I also wonder how much downtown development Columbus can take, as right now there is massive development going on all over the Short North, Italian Village, Harrison West, Arena District and countless downtown projects, eventually I imagine there will be more housing then downtown living types, although hopefully I am proved wrong and all this building coincides with growth in jobs and population.

In re: Pooping pill?

You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.” 

Alli warning labl on ‘treatment’ side effects.

You may have heard about the new wonder drug, the over the counter weight loss pill Alli (actually its just a lower dosage of a long time Rx drug).  Anyway, the pill is supposed to keep 25% of the fat you eat from being digested (doesn’t do anything to stop calories from carbs and protein from being absorbed – too bad for us carb addicts..)  Anyway, the drug sounds wonderful until you read (and they aren’t being too subtle about this although the angry aussie does translate to even less subtle warnings at Why Am I Angry, alli: Miracle diet pill with teeny-tiny side effect. 

“How do you prevent these side effects? Simple. Just limit yourself to no more than 15 grams of fat per meal. Yes, you heard that right — in order to get the benefit of alli, you’re supposed to eat a low-fat diet. Correct me if I’m missing something, but if you’re already eating a low-fat diet, why would you need alli?

Putting it a different way, if alli prevents you from absorbing a quarter of the fat you eat, that means that for a meal with 15 grams of fat in it (at nine calories per gram), it’d be saving you approximately 36 calories. Not to get all philosophical, but if someone were to ask me how many calories it would take to get me to risk shitting myself in public, it’d be a hell of a lot more than 36.” from Salon Broadsheet

In re: A knighthood worth killing over?

The United Kingdom knights various people for various reasons, and most recently the controversial author Salman Rushie, who is most famous for his book The Satanic Verses, that led at the time to violent protests and a death wish from Iran (which has since been taken back).  I will be the first to admit I do not understand what it is like to live life with the fervor of worshipers who take such offense at what others say about them they wish death upon them.  To me the fact that England bestows knighthoods is just a matter of casual curiosity, a relic of olden times and the meaning of the knighting having lost most of its meaning when the likes of Elton John and Keith Richards enter the round table.  Still it is of course England condoning a controversial author, but being a modern pluralistic democracy that thrives upon diversity of opinions England can embrace these various ‘knights’ who hold  very little in common with the knights of yore or each other.Returning to the Middle East I am left to wonder why it is okay for them to get so upset when their religion is spoken poorly upon, but I am left to be told by them (and I assume without recourse) that I am to believe in one god and it is to be theirs.  The logic of this seems to be lacking and I really wonder why they are so (is it insecure?) about their religion that others cannot go attempting to poke holes in it?  There is inherently a flaw in such a stance I feel.

“If someone commits suicide bombing to protect the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, his act is justified,” the minister said, according to Reuters news agency.The minister later clarified his statement, saying extremists could use it to justify attacks.”  See BBC

In re: Why milk cartons are square and soda is round?

I’ve always loved everyday economic explanations to simple little things that often we don’t notice. I found a great post over at Design Observer that mentions the milk carton situation (has to do with maximizing the space in refrigerated spaces, versus unrefrigerated soda – although carbonation may prove to be another answer that some of the comments point to) this example and some other situations come from The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas by Robert H. Frank. While my nightstand is currently packed with books waiting to be read, I think this is one I will add to the queue.

Frank takes this cost-benefit accounting through a number of interesting design examples (these are posed as questions that his students in “economic naturalism” originally asked). For example: Why, even though the discs are exactly the same size, do DVDs come in such larger packages than CDs? The answer, as supplied here, is that vinyl records came in tightly shrink-wrapped sleeves, 302 mm square. If one made the CD package a little less than half that size, one could fit two CDs in the racks that countless record stores had installed. The height could be kept the same, which is why you may remember CD jewel cases themselves used to wrapped with all kinds of surplus packaging, strange cousins of vinyl sleeves that were to be ripped away and discarded. DVDs, meanwhile, were riding in the wake of the VHS tape, which came in a 191 mm-high box. Keeping DVD cases the same height meant retailers (and consumers) could simply stack DVDs on their VHS shelves. One does wonder if some brave designer, some Howard Roark of the blister-pack set, stood up in an early meeting and asked if the cost of the excess packaging was indeed greater than the cost of retrofitting shelves. It could also be that Hollywood was leery of people thinking they were getting “less” for their money.”