In re: Apple has gone insane

This is, in short, a nightmare scenario for long-time iPod fans: are we entering a world in which Apple controls and taxes literally every piece of the iPod purchase from headphones to chargers, jacking up their prices, forcing customers to re-purchase things they already own, while making only marginal improvements in their functionality? It’s a shame, and one that consumers should feel empowered to fight.

via Review: Apple iPod shuffle (Third-Generation) | iLounge.

It's small and it talks to you, but doesn't play well with other headphones...

It's small and it talks to you, but doesn't play well with other headphones...

I am a big fan of Apple, but they have a very annoying habit of nickle and diming their customers on overpriced adaptors, plugs and cables.  There are too many instances of this to mention, but one example is switching to the new mini display port (mind you there are no monitors using this when this came out, and probably only one right now – a $1000 apple monitor) meaning that people who were plopping down a whole lot of cash for Apple’s computers needed to go shell out another $29 for the adaptor.  Every now and again Apple seems to get wise, the new Mac Mini’s include a mini dvi to dvi cable, nice… And the 3G iPhone moved to using a flush headphone port rather than the recessed for no reason on the first gen, meaning lots of us went and bought adaptors, special headphones, etc.

Well now Apple has really gone and done it, and I mean this is really nuts, they have limited the newly released iPod Shuffle to using only Apple headphones (that contain the controls) or to Apple licensed headphones that will contain an authentication chip, yes that’s right an AUTHENTICATION CHIP IN THE FREAKING HEADPHONES.  This is not a step forward, this is a huge step backward.  You know how each cellphone charger doesn’t work with other brands, well they are working to get a universal format (micro usb I think is what they have planned).  Thankfully for music the mini plug has long been a standard and we don’t think twice about what kind of headsets you buy.  Apple has said enough and the Shuffle will limit you (at least if you want to control the tracks, volume, etc).

Mind you the Shuffle was already a less than stellar device, kind of an afterthought of Apple to get into a cheap MP3 market and charge a premium, I bought the 2nd generation shuffle as I am already a heavy iTunes user and its nice for the gym, but other than that it doesn’t have benefits over other mini MP3 players.

I am sure this tiny MP3 player will still sell well for Apple, but its really disappointing to see such a horrible design (I already don’t like the idea of controls only on the cord) and adding to people the prospect of only having overpriced headsets available or having an adaptor that will probably be $20 or $30 (due to the chip) when it comes out.  Oh well…

In re: Huntington Park sponsorships rolling in

Huntington Park won’t open for five weeks, but it’s almost a sellout — for sponsorships.

The ballpark’s board has nailed down $39.6 million in corporate money for naming rights and is negotiating deals worth an additional $9 million.

The new ballpark in the Arena District, to open April 18, had promised to raise $37 million from private sponsors.

via The Columbus Dispatch : Huntington Park a hit for sponsors.

Surprisingly in this tough economic times when we have been hearing about the horrors of Citi Groups sponsorship of the Met’s new stadium the Clippers here in Columbus have not had trouble selling sponsorships for their soon to open new stadium.  For sponsors it might be a good deal compared to higher level leagues and the prices that come from that as well as the fact that attendance at the new team is likely to be strong with the new Indians AAA team as well as being an affordable entertainment option.  I know I am getting really excited for the new park and team, seems like companies are too.

In re: Cost to get railroad going in Ohio

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland says the state could restore passenger rail service with $250 million in federal stimulus money.

Strickland’s administration released the estimate Friday. Trains would run along existing freight tracks connecting Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland, with the eventual goal of making the service high speed.

The governor also estimates it would cost $10 million a year to operate the service, less than 1 percent of Ohio’s $7.6 billion, two-year transportation budget.

via WTTE FOX 28 – Ohio News.

As you may know I strongly support rail travel and I am hoping that the Governors plan to restart Ohio rail travel works.  One thing that people don’t seem to think about but that I read recently was the amount of state employee travel by car and how we could get some of them using rail.  I can attest that I would love to be able to travel this way, fire up my computer (hopefully with wifi) and get work done instead of billing the state for 5 hours of driving, doing some actual work.  Not sure how easy it would be to quantify this kind of information, but companies may also see a benefit here if they travel in state.  Of course we have problems as a lot of our cities sprawl and you would need easy public transport connections, but for a lot of us going downtown to downtown for meetings it would work great.

In re: Funny signs

The Telegraph is one of the newspapers that I regularly read (although admittedly mostly for football stories) one of my favorite sections is called “Sign Language” and consists of funny signs from the UK and around the world…one such example below.

sign-dog_tele

City of London Speak to the Dogs

In re: Technology in Soccer Broadcasts

I’ve been surprised (not really upset I might admit) that the television in England hasn’t jumped on all the gimicks of digital imaging and breaking down plays that the US has.  Some of these efforts were complete jokes (the glow puck in hockey, thanks Fox) but others like the first and ten line worked and caught on and are now the default in all but the lowest level of college broadcasts.

I’ve noticed that Serie A (Italy) has used some tech such as putting up a graphical distance circle when someone takes a free kick (although I haven’t seen this recently) and I have seen the distance run stats popping up in Champions League broadcasts – not saying they need to change or add crap to the game but its interesting to see the vast differences in broadcast styles from ESPN here to foreign feeds.  That said I really hope ESPN doesn’t get EPL rights for the US anytime soon… well that’s a different story.

In a comment to the post on Manchester United’s use of an iPod a commenter noted that they liked ESPNs Euro coverage’s use of a 360 view, I don’t remember loving it, but I don’t remember it real well so I can’t say I hated it, but you know if ESPN got into the game they be busting this stuff out for good or for bad.  Oh well..

In re: Prank war… really funny

Can’t say I am ever on the CollegeHumor.com website except when the occasional item gets a lot of diggs, this is one of those and this was pretty amazing in the amount of setup for this prank and how good it was (I guess its been an escalating prank war) anyway check it out at CollegeHumor where the whole basketball arena helps trick a guys friend into thinking he won $500,000 for hitting a blindfolded half-court shot.

In re: iPod helps Manchester United win the Carling Cup?

In an interview with BBC Sport, Foster noted “We went into the shoot-out as well prepared as possible. We have had things to look at over the last couple of days and before the shoot-out, you can see me looking at an iPod with Eric Steele. It had actual video on it and showed where players put things. Eric brought it when he came to the club. I have never seen anything like it. It is a fantastic tool for us.”

via iPod helps Manchester United win the Carling Cup.

Loving gadgets and loving soccer thought this was an amusing story despite my lack of interest in the Carling Cup final (why couldn’t they both lose?  seriously even being an Arsenal fan and hating all things Tottenham I still think I would rather have seen ManU win the worthless trophy with their kids).  Anyway, the only thing I wanted to say is that I am surprised by the lack of tech that has gotten involved in top flight football, given that there don’t seem to be restrictions a la the NFL in American football on showing video on the sidelines (hence all the guys up top calling down) I would think goaltenders, substitutes and players during injurying stannding around moments would be getting some video updates or using some other type of tech aids.  Even the locker rooms seem low tech, you would think they’d have lots of video setups at the big clubs, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

In reality the iPod didn’t really have much to do with the win, the English can’t seem to hit their penalties and Sir Alex was wise enough to lineup 5 foreigners.

Update: a good comment on the use of technology in soccer to checkout, that said I still think the use of video for breaking down games takes a much lower profile in terms of percieved value in soccer than in many US sports that seem to get into this stuff a lot (for better or worse).