SXSW 2014 Cover Art is Posted

I have just post­ed this year’s album art for SXSW, the Music fes­ti­val in Austin in eleven days.

But all is not well. SXSW has offered one track from each artist as a down­load (as a .tor­rent) since at least 2005. Accord­ing to the Unof­fi­cial SXSW Tor­rents site, while there are a small num­ber of tracks avail­able so far, SXSW has decid­ed to put the files up on Sound­cloud, instead. Sound­cloud works hard to pre­vent cap­ture of the music they play, which makes down­load­ing the tracks… dif­fi­cult.

Go to the cov­er art page to get this year’s art, and find out how to let SXSW know that you don’t like this.

SXSW Show­cas­ing Artist Cov­er Art

I’m unfriending you, Internet

My dar­ling wife alert­ed me to a post on Face­book, by a Friend of a Friend (so I can’t com­ment there, since I’m not Friends with the Friend… ugh), a post that began with, “This just in: ADHD also diag­nosed as ‘child­hood’” and linked to a blog post at the Psy­chol­o­gy Today web­site about how the French (of all peo­ple) don’t have any ADHD cas­es, because they (are enlight­ened?) diag­nose the root caus­es: mal­nu­tri­tion, poor par­ent­ing, dumb­ness, etc.

The com­ments on this post (to which I can­not com­ment) cov­er the range, but are most­ly fol­low­ing the lead of the orig­i­nal poster, fun­ny quips pre­sent­ed as insight, opin­ion mas­querad­ing as fact, and assump­tions pre­sent­ed as research.

I have a child with ADHD (inat­ten­tive, not hyper­ac­tive). He is bright, fun­ny, cre­ative and dis­tract­ed. He is on med­ica­tion, and it has done won­ders for him. At one point before he was diag­nosed, my bril­liant lit­tle boy came to us, after watch­ing a com­mer­cial on TV, and told us that he thought he need­ed to go to the Syl­van Learn­ing Cen­ter. The look on his face, that defeat­ed, but pathet­i­cal­ly hope­ful look, stomped on my heart.

If you know us, you know we do noth­ing with­out research. Our child was test­ed, diag­nosed, seen by doc­tors, sec­ond opin­ioned, and final­ly med­icat­ed. He has gone from being a reme­di­al con­cern to excelling in every aspect of his life, because he can pay atten­tion to the things that are impor­tant to him.

But the ADHD diag­no­sis issue is just the trig­ger that got me going this morn­ing. I now know a lot about ADHD, about the process of diag­nos­ing, about how it affects my kid, about the ins and outs of med­icat­ing my child, about the “cock­tail” need­ed to help him con­cen­trate then help him sleep. I see how he feels when he lets him­self down because his brain doesn’t work, and how he feels when he tops a test or a con­test or fin­ish­es a project or a book. I know what ADHD looks like, to me. This Friend of a Friend does not know what it looks like to me, but that did not pre­vent him from lump­ing every­one in togeth­er, damn the shades of grey, in the ser­vice of his clever com­men­tary.

Here’s what I want­ed to add to this guy’s Face­book post, but couldn’t:

Hi. This post is so insen­si­tive, thought­less, and knee-jerk that I am inclined to answer in kind. With­out know­ing you, your chil­dren, how you par­ent, or what you are like, I’d like to take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to be an ass­hole to a per­fect stranger, because online, there are no reper­cus­sions. Ready? Here goes. ‘I bet, since you’re so into respon­si­ble par­ent­ing, you beat the fuck out of your chil­dren if they mis­be­have. You cretin.’ What’s that? I’m sor­ry, did I over­step? Did I say some­thing with­out know­ing shit about what I was say­ing? Why, yes, I did. You’re wel­come.”

There’s been some dis­cus­sion online about com­ments on arti­cles, how they rarely add to a dis­cus­sion, being either trolled or face­tious or down­right harm­ful. I agree, and would like to add to that the sug­ges­tion that all of Face­book (et al.) is one big com­ment thread full of mean­ing­less pan­der­ing and hate­ful, irre­spon­si­ble, self­ish com­men­tary.

This is what is wrong with Inter­net com­ment­ing.

There is no space for com­pas­sion, for empa­thy, for under­stand­ing.

I know I am also guilty here of over­sim­pli­fy­ing the issue. The Inter­net is a tool, after all. There are places set aside for thought­ful dis­cus­sion and grate­ful heal­ing. There are nice peo­ple online, even on Face­book, and I like being con­nect­ed to them in a way I nev­er could in Real Life. I appre­ci­ate and love them.

But the rest of the Inter­net can seri­ous­ly fuck off. I don’t have time for you any­more.

Enjoying the hell out of iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio is a rev­e­la­tion to me. Not that I didn’t know what it was going to be like, I mean, intel­lec­tu­al­ly. I’ve used Pan­do­ra, after all. But Pan­do­ra was annoy­ing, brows­er-based, finicky, and I nev­er used it very long. When I first tried iTunes Radio yes­ter­day, while try­ing to write, I picked some of their pre-pro­grammed “sta­tions” and was all, meh. Their “iTunes Top 100: Alter­na­tive” has too much Killers in it. Which is to say, any Killers is too much. My taste is def­i­nite­ly Alt, but I like my alt more eclec­tic than that. And that Fall­out Boy song (Alone Togeth­er) sounds like Rihan­na in drag.

But today I made my own “sta­tion” based on a song in heavy rota­tion in our house, Lit­tle Brass Bear by Rachel Goodrich.

And it turns out, basi­cal­ly, that iTunes Radio is like Genius, but with the entire iTunes cat­a­log as your library. Which is freak­ing awe­some.

Of course, it also turns out that iTunes Radio is just like Pan­do­ra, Rdio, etc., but with­out the has­sle of using some­thing added on to my ecosys­tem. I am, as stat­ed else­where, ful­ly entrenched in the Apple ecosys­tem, and in here I am as hap­py as a bug that is snug in a rug.

My playlist so far:

Jay­may (one of my favorite songs, Gray or Blue!)
Woody Guthrie
Matthew and the Atlas
Kimya Daw­son
Lang­horne Slim
Lau­ra Veirs
Lind­sey Ray
The Col­or­ful Qui­et
Malv­ina Reynolds
Lucy Wain­wricht Roche (dang there are a lot of Wain­wrights, no?)
Cast Spells
Rachel Goodrich

I’ve heard of… six of those artists. I own one of the songs I have heard so far. New music! Which is what makes this so awe­some.

Edit: How I “watched” the Apple announcement

Edit: So, I end­ed up watch­ing via Engad­get most of the time, and when they had hic­cups, I went over to Ars Tech­ni­ca. Good job guys.

Hey folks, I am plan­ning on “watch­ing” the Apple announce­ment (iPhone 5S, 5C, iOS 7, maybe some iPads, ever so maybe a TV-relat­ed announce­ment that might just be new soft­ware) today at 10 am Pacif­ic (noon, where I am). Here’s how.

Last time I had the great­est suc­cess with Engadget’s live feed. It has lots of fea­tures, appears to be home­grown (or at least unique) and worked well dur­ing this past WWDC Keynote. If you’re only going to do one feed, do this one:

Engadget’s Live Feed

If you are like me, and you want to swap between sev­er­al feeds of almost the same cov­er­age with slight­ly dif­fer­ent snark, you might also try the fol­low­ing links:

The Verge
Ars Tech­ni­ca

What else is out there? Well, if you like pre­ten­tious hair and live video (of peo­ple talk­ing about the reveal, not of the reveal itself) you can’t do bet­ter (or worse) than C|Net’s ad-dri­ven pre-show page. Oy. Then, there are the lud­dites. AllTh­ingsD seems to be doing a straight up refresh-and-read approach, and Jim Dalrymple’s The Loop is proud­ly pro­claim­ing their refresh for new sys­tem to be “old school.” I’m on the fence about Slashgear’s approach (they are new to me in live blog­ging) and MacWorld’s cook­ie-cut­ter ven­dor-prod­uct-live-blog­ging-plat­form.

No dilemma, Apple is a hardware company

John Gru­ber of Dar­ing Fire­ball points to this arti­cle at the WSJ: Apple Has an Iden­ti­ty Cri­sis: Is It a Hard­ware Com­pa­ny or a Soft­ware Firm? Gru­ber notes that this dichoto­my has been true every one of Apple’s 37 years.

But I beg to dif­fer. There is no dilem­ma. This has nev­er been true. Back when I used to write about Apple, twen­ty years ago, and today, it is quite clear: Every­thing Apple does is about sell­ing hard­ware. You can set your watch, your rumor mill, and your stock options by this.

If they don’t think it will fur­ther hard­ware sales, they won’t do it.

iTunes Match Airport Wall Wart

Delight­ful name, no?

I would like Apple to build a wall wart1 that con­nects to my iTunes Match account (nee, my iCloud account) to stream music.

It should be very much like an Air­port Express, being wall-wartish, and hav­ing an audio out option, but it should be pur­pose built to con­nect to my music in my Apple ecosys­tem. I would set it up via my Apple i(OS)X device, con­nect to my WiFi, log in to iCloud, save my cre­den­tials, and it would be ready to go.

This mag­ic wart would then let me lis­ten to my music, via iTunes Match, with­out a com­put­er or a copy of iTunes run­ning. I wouldn’t have to plug my iPhone in any­where, or use minutes/battery to stream music. I wouldn’t have to “Start iTunes, Hon­ey, so we can lis­ten to music.” I could still use Remote (or iTunes on OSX?) to skip, pick a playlist, etc.

How sweet would that be?

Real­ly sweet.

Bonus, it would be ready for iRa­dio, or what­ev­er Apple calls their even­tu­al stream­ing music ser­vice.

Yes, I know this is very spe­cif­ic to the Apple ecosys­tem. And it would be fab if Apple would let you con­nect it to Pandora/Rdio/Spotify/whatnot, but Apple would nev­er do that. On the oth­er side, Apple would nev­er allow a third par­ty wall wart to con­nect to iTunes Match, so. I am, in my cir­cum­stances, stuck with Apple. I can live with that.

But I can’t live with­out this thing. Build it, Apple!

  1. wall wart (n): elec­tron­ic nub­bin with plug prongs on the back that you plug into the wall where it sits like a par­a­sitic lump, doing “some­thing.” 

In Defense of Apple’s Maps

We got iPhones 5 a few weeks ago now, and I have been very pleased with it. The extra screen space is nice (the key­board doesn’t cov­er every­thing up now!) and the speed is espe­cial­ly wel­come.

But my favorite fea­ture, by far, is the new Maps app.

We’ve been liv­ing in Kansas City (KS) for a lit­tle less than a year at this point. I don’t know my way around ter­ri­bly well. I had been using Nav­igon for GPS rout­ing and it was… well, awful. Hard to start (slow, obnox­ious address entry), hard to man­age (vol­ume was always set to “whis­per”, see­ing the entire route was painful­ly slow, and end­ing nav­i­ga­tion was not easy to do), and the spo­ken direc­tions were too fre­quent and annoy­ing. I nev­er used it because by the time I knew I want­ed it, I was often already dri­ving, and stop­ping for ten min­utes by the side of the road to find the address and enter it was not going to be help­ful. Although I did that once or twice.

In con­trast, Apple’s new Maps app, in com­bi­na­tion with Siri, does exact­ly what I hoped it would. Easy to find des­ti­na­tions, often just by voice request. Imme­di­ate start­up of turn-by-turn direc­tions. Clear maps, just enough voice direc­tion, easy overview, resume, and end func­tions. What­ev­er prob­lems Siri or Maps have, I don’t feel them here in KCK. I have used turn-by-turn direc­tions more in the last few weeks than I did in the pre­vi­ous two years. Heck, some­times I do it just for fun.

So, count me a fan.

Make it easier for me, Amazon!

Went to buy some­thing at Ama­zon tonight, and decid­ed they real­ly need to let us add a nick­name or notes to our pay­ment meth­ods. I’d like to call my pay­ment meth­ods “Golf card” and “Reg­u­lar card” and “White card,” but instead all I get to dis­tin­guish my cred­it cards are the last four num­bers, which mean vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing to me, but it mean a whole lot to my banks, and to my like­li­hood of hav­ing enough funds to buy what I want­ed to buy tonight. Instead, I have to labo­ri­ous­ly haul out the wal­let. Make it eas­i­er for me, Ama­zon!

AT&T or Verizon for my new iPhone? (Updated answer: AT&T)

Updat­ed! — dis­count on Vz, too!
Update #2 — no voice+data on Vz
Update #3 — done and done

Hi all. Back to the mun­dane. Apple announced (or rather, con­firmed what we’ve all known for sev­er­al months now) a new iPhone today. The iPhone 5 will be avail­able for pre-order this Fri­day, to ship a week lat­er. I will be get­ting one, as will my wife, as we lurve our cur­rent iPhones 4, we are out of con­tract, and we would like faster more capa­ble phones.

There are three car­ri­ers avail­able to us: AT&T (our cur­rent car­ri­er), Ver­i­zon (with whom we car­ri­er-ed for a decade before we got iPhones), and Sprint (actu­al­ly a home­town com­pa­ny here in KC).

Sprint is out right away for poor cov­er­age and con­fus­ing plans that don’t actu­al­ly come out to any­thing bet­ter than the oth­ers. They do have unlim­it­ed data, mind you, but we actu­al­ly use our phones for phones, and their “add a tablet” options are ridicu­lous­ly expen­sive should we ever go that route.

Which leaves the oth­er two.

Ver­i­zon. We loved Ver­i­zon when we were cus­tomers, we always had a sig­nal and nev­er had a call drop. Of course, this was in the stone age of cell phones, and the num­ber of phones, the tech­nol­o­gy of the air­waves, etc. has changed a lot since then. But we hear from the hoi pol­loi that Ver­i­zon doesn’t drop calls. The plan would cost us $150 per month. Adding a tablet, if we should go there, is $10 per month, per tablet.

AT&T. We have AT&T now, and when we first start­ed two years (more, now) ago, we dropped calls like crazy. Not like, cray cray more-often-than-not crazy, but fre­quent­ly enough that we pined for good ol’ Ver­i­zon. But I reg­u­lar­ly use voice and data at the same time (look­ing up my cal­en­dar while on a phone call, for exam­ple), which you can’t do on Ver­i­zon right now. The plan would cost us $150 per month. And adding a tablet is also $10 per month, per tablet.

Research! Root Met­rics sur­veyed KC and com­pared voice and data reli­a­bil­i­ty for major car­ri­ers. The results sug­gest that AT&T has improved their dropped calls fre­quen­cy a lot (borne out by our anec­do­tal expe­ri­ence), but Ver­i­zon still has faster over­all data speeds (and few­er dropped calls, tech­ni­cal­ly). But most­ly, it seems a wash between those two. Here is the link. Apolo­gies to those of my friends in small­er mar­kets. Also: ha ha!

There are two oth­er fac­tors that will weigh on this deci­sion:

LTE. This is the new supa-fast mobile net­work the iPhone 5 uses, and both V and A sup­port. From what I read, LTE only does data, and can­not be used for voice. Instead, both use the pre­vi­ous 3G net­works for voice calls. (This will change some­time, maybe soon?) There­fore, when an AT&T LTE phone tries to do voice and data simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, it actu­al­ly drops to 3G for both. A lot slow­er than LTE, but you can do both. A Ver­i­zon phone with LTE, cur­rent­ly can do data and voice simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. It con­tin­ues using LTE for data, but fires up the sec­ond radio device for voice, and runs both at the same time. The jury is out on whether the iPhone 5 is equipped with two radios at once (I think Apple made beef about there being one mag­ic-task­ing radio in the iPhone 5 that did all things, but I don’t recall).

Research! Some­one explained the rea­sons why simul­ta­ne­ous voice and data are not pos­si­ble on all net­wor… zzzz, tl;dr. Basi­cal­ly, what I said up there. If you real­ly need to read it, here is that link.

State of KS Dis­counts. AT&T offers a dis­count for ser­vice to employ­ees of the State of Kansas, which we are. Our cur­rent AT&T plan has this dis­count applied. I would expect we could get the dis­count applied to a new plan with AT&T, which would make it cheap­er than the equiv­a­lent Ver­i­zon plan (though I don’t know how much cheap­er).

So, what do I need to do?

  1. Find out if the iPhone 5 can do simul­ta­ne­ous voice and data on both AT&T and Ver­i­zon.
  2. Find out if there is a dis­count for State of KS employ­ees for AT&T still, if there is one for Ver­i­zon, and how much a dis­count might be.
  3. Before Fri­day.

Update. Okay, so Ver­i­zon also offers a dis­count to employ­ees of the State of Kansas. So yay. Also, it appears from the Intar­webs that both car­ri­ers will be able to pro­vide simul­ta­ne­ous voice and data when you are on their LTE net­works. Also, when not on the LTE net­work, AT&T will still pro­vide that abil­i­ty. But we still have no ver­i­fied ver­i­fi­ca­tion of iPhone 5’s abil­i­ty to do this on Ver­i­zon once you fall off LTE. Not sure it mat­ters.

Update #2. So, in this arti­cle, it unequiv­o­cal­ly states that no, the iPhone 5 on Ver­i­zon will not be able to do simul­ta­ne­ous voice and data. Apple would have need­ed to add a third anten­na to the phone for that, and they chose not to. The short of it, tech­ni­cal­ly: AT&T does data over LTE, and when you make a phone call, does data and voice over 3G. Ver­i­zon does data over LTE, and when you make a phone call, drops to CDMA, but with too few anten­nas in the phone, they can’t keep work­ing the LTE for data, so presto, no data while talk­ing.

Turns out it does mat­ter to me, so we’re stick­ing with AT&T. Also, the Future will be awe­some, and you can see how by Googling “VoLTE” (Voice-over-LTE), which is com­ing Real Soon Now. Hon­est.

Update #3. Ordered two new iPhones. Had to use the Apple site, because AT&T’s was borked, and had to order them one at a time, because the Store’s sys­tem can’t han­dle more than one car­ri­er sub­si­dized phone at a time, so, what­ev­er. They ship in two weeks, and take five days to ship, and may require a sig­na­ture. That’s… like, Octo­ber 3rd or some­thing. Arr.

No more twitter here

I’m done. At least, I’m done with try­ing to include all my Twit­ti­cisms on this blog. You’ll just have to go to Twit­ter to get them (see the foot­er for direc­tions). It was too… not easy, to keep them all here, and there, and dis­play them nice­ly. So, screw it.

But, here are all my Tweets. Some­one warn me when I start reach­ing 3200?