Archive for the 'Rants' category

Patronage in the Digital Age

 | November 10, 2009 2:20 pm

As wonderful as the internet may be, it causes a lot of problems.  For starters, it is putting newspapers out of business.  It’s also radically changing how artists, writers and musicians make their living.  And in case you weren’t paying attention, it’s starting to look like a crisis.

Different groups have responded to the impending collapse of publishing in different ways.  Some writers sell sponsorships for their books and then offer an acknowledgement when it is printed.  Many musicians have adopted the self-publishing and distribution tools long available to authors, leading to experiments like Amazon’s CreateSpace.  And there are those who have gone the route of directly asking for contributions and donations to support their work; the digital equivalent of a performer passing the hat, you might say.

The problem is that some of these experiments are running head-long into good old American sensibility and propriety.  There are even people saying that some of the new content generation schemes are inappropriate; including that old bastion of American common sense, Ms. Manners.  Manners has even gone so far as to say that for a novelist to ask for a contribution is the same as begging, or panhandling.

She says it like it’s a bad thing.  The simple truth is that artists, musicians and storytellers have long been beggars.  The content industry of the 20 industry is a tremendously new invention, and as I noted above, it’s running into another time tested American value: frugality and a love of private property.

In fact, there seems to be this attitude that, “After I’ve purchased the novel or CD, I own the work and ideas.  I’ve invested in its creation.”   This little nugget rears it’s head most commonly when discussing music.  Even the great Steve Jobs has been known to say, “People don’t want to rent music, they want to own it.”

Except … that’s bullshit.  An interesting idea, or a well written book, or a beautiful piece of music isn’t like paying for a hamburger.  You aren’t reimbursing someone for providing you a good or service.  And I’m frankly shocked that anyone would think that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” is only worth the price that paid on iTunes.  The true worth is far greater than the price of admission.  Would you seriously think yourself exploited for buying a second recording, or for paying to hear it at a concert?

Of course, that’s when people can be bothered to pay for content at all.  An exacerbating factor is that many people expect ideas to be free or very inexpensive.  How many times have you heard a variant of this argument, “I would buy more music (or books) if it wasn’t so expensive!  Nine dollars for an album is just out of my budget!”  Ironically, these same people don’t blanch at dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars for an iPod or iPhone.

While bad, this attitude can further devolve into something much more poisonous: “The artist owes me for reading, viewing or listening to their work.  My piracy is helpful!  After all, I am promoting them and making them famous!”  But being famous doesn’t pay the bills.  There have been many authors, artists or musicians who lived in squalor while enjoying enormous fame and prestige.

A music or literature pirate might even justify their position by saying, “I’m sticking it to the music industry (or publishing industry), they’re a bunch of greedy pigs!”  And the pirate might have a point, if he weren’t doing far more damage to the creator of the content than to its distributor.  Big businesses like record labels and big publishing houses don’t respond to that attitude by lowering prices or dealing fairly with their customers.  Rather, they become more draconian in how that content is disseminated.  Ever wonder why Digital Rights Management (DRM) and related technologies were born?  It might just have something to do with the American sense of entitlement.

Clearly, something needs to change.  Artists and musicians can continue to experiment with different pricing and distributions schemes, but I remain rather unconvinced that it will have a lasting effect.  What we really need is a return to the patronage system of old, with a few major modifications.  Certainly, artists should continue to sell recordings, books and other tangible goods.  But the public should also undergo a shift in our attitudes and ideas about what the arts are and how we support them.  That might mean that we transform our understanding of what a “donation” is.

When buying a book or donating to a writer, it’s foolish to think that you are somehow providing a fair compensation for the ideas and entertainment that you receive.  Instead, it is much healthier to view your contribution as a support so that the artist can continue to create future content.  This notion actually fits in pretty well with the concept of Fair Trade.

We also need to understand that the price we pay for a book or CD isn’t about the value of the materials.  Textbooks aren’t expensive because they are printed on beautiful paper with artwork and in color; they’re expensive because researching and writing their content is hard.  For example, the “Contributors and Reviewers” page for Gray’s Anatomy (the anatomical guide, not the television show) lists sixty different authors and content reviewers, though only the editor and chief is credited on the cover.

Except, how do you actually bring about the needed shift in attitudes and culture?

That’s an excellent question, and I’m not sure that I can offer any insight.  The Europeans have tried to shape public perception through generous subsidies.  But direct governmental support of news agencies and publishers is controversial for good reason.  As a cure, it might even be worse than the illness.  If you’ve got any ideas, let’s hear ‘em!

Obama Won the Nobel Peace Prize?

 | October 9, 2009 12:27 pm

There’s big news this morning: Barak Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  According to the committee, here’s why: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given it’s people hope for a better future.  His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”

Huh?

Upon reading the headline and rationale, I had to do a triple take.  First response: this is an Onion story that someone allowed to get way out of hand.  Second response: clearly there’s a mistake, after all, the nominations were made before Barak Obama was even in office.  He hasn’t had time to engage in any diplomacy.  Third response: shocked silence.

I’m an enormous supporter of Obama.  I generally like his vision and thinking on health care reform, nuclear disarmament, and middle east peace.  But what has Obama done to deserve a Nobel peace prize?  I wasn’t aware that we were handing them out for intentions or even vision; and after looking at the language describing the prize, I remember why:

The Nobel peace prize should be awarded to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations, for abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses [Emphasis Added].

There are a couple of keywords in that passage which defy intentions, for starters: “shall have done” and “best work”.  Both phrases have one thing in common: they describe accomplishments of the past and not the potential of the future.  Moreover, it’s more or less an expectation that the award be given for work already done.  A brief review of past Nobel laureates clearly demonstrates this:

  • Martin Luther King Jr (1964).  King was the face of the human rights struggle in the United States, and his philosophy, eloquence and organizational ability are probably the single most important factors of it’s success.  Even though he was the youngest person ever to receive a Nobel Prize, 1964 came after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, and “I Have a Dream”.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev (1990).  This guy had just finished dismantling communism, thereby ending the cold war.  (And all this while worrying about the very real possibility of a military coup.)  It’s hard to argue that removing the threat of Nuclear Holocaust didn’t make the world a better place.
  • Nelson Mandela (1993).  After spending 27 years in prison for the audacious crime of demanding equality (given the much more seditious label of sabotage), he had finally realized a major agreement with the regime of South Africa, ending apartheid forever.  He then went on to unite his country and serve as the first president elected in a fully representative democratic election.

And now, Obama …  but what has he accomplished?

Sure, our European allies no longer hate us. Except … they never hated us in the first place.  The strained feelings of the past few years have had much more more in common with a serious sibling disagreement than anything else.  Now that the real problem (George W. Bush) is gone, relations have largely gone back to what they were prior to 2003.

I’ll give you that Obama has some wonderful plans to bring about peace in the Middle East …  But that has been a major goal of every US administration for the last fifty years.  And at the moment he’s made about the same amount of progress as his predecessor: that is to say, none at all.

Awarding the prize without a true legacy of accomplishment is not only controversial, it’s short sighted; and this is the second time in the last three years that the award has been a real stinker.  The 2007 award, given to Al Gore for his educational efforts to combat climate change, was also a tremendous disappointment.  Why so many divisive prizes all of a sudden?

Nobel prizes aren’t supposed to be controversial, they’re supposed to be obvious.  The scientific prizes (Physics, Chemistry, Medicine) aren’t awarded at the time discoveries are made, but after the utility and importance of those discoveries is known, which requires time.  It isn’t uncommon for the award to recognize work that was done twenty or thirty years ago.  Ditto for literature.  Why should the peace prize be any different?

Nor was there a scarcity of qualified nominees, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times summarizes it well:

[What of]  Dr. Denis Mukwege at the Panzi Hospital in eastern Congo, or Jo and Lyn Lusi in the Heal Africa Hospital of western Congo, or Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health for his tireless work in Haiti and Rwanda, or Greg Mortensen traipsing all over Pakistan and Afghanistan to build schools, or Dr. Catherine Hamlin working for half a century to fight obstetric fistula and maternal mortality in Ethiopia … or so many others.

Obama has the potential to be one of the truly great presidents, but before showering him with accolades, we should allow him to actually accomplish something monumental.  Becoming the first African American president was an impressive start, but is insufficient for a great legacy.  It’s impressive the way a birth is impressive and for largely the same reasons: it was the beautiful start of something new.

But Nobel Prizes aren’t birthday gifts, they’re lifetime achievement awards.  So shouldn’t we wait for a little bit more of that life to happen before handing it out?

Glass Houses and Stones

 | October 6, 2009 4:24 pm

Apple Store - Glass Cube Regular readers of this blog might accuse me of having a deep seated resentment against iPhone, Mac OS X and Apple in general.  The only problem, of course, is that resentment is the wrong word.  Disillusionment and disgust are much more accurate.

You see, purchasing a Mac computer was one of the single biggest disappointments of my young technical life.  I had been promised so much!

If you read the ramblings of online pundits or dedicated Apple purists, you will know that switching to a Mac brings a Zen like state to your computing.  It will make you more productive, more creative, more organized, more intelligent and possibly even more attractive.

Except after nearly three years of owning one and using it more or less daily, I’ve come to a simple conclusion: my MacBook Pro, in addition to being a lovely paperweight, is a computer.  Nothing more, and quite possibly a whole lot less.  (Were it just a computer, I might even be able to use it the way that I want, instead of capitulating to the desires of a mega corporation.)

In fact, I’ve further decided that there is only one possible way that you can possibly claim that a Mac is easier to use than a PC (short of using mind altering chemicals, that is). You must  choose to stay within Apple’s suffocating glass greenhouse and allow Apple to decide what you can do and dictate precisely how you will do it.  The Apple experience demands nothing less.

Want to use Time Machine to back up to a network storage unit different than their ticking time bomb?  Sorry, you can’t do that.  “It’s not supported.”

Want to run that piece of software that worked just fine until you installed Apple’s latest glorified service pack?  Sorry, that isn’t going to happen, either.  “Backwards compatibility prevents us from creating innovative and utterly amazing (tm) new user experiences.”

Or want to use that iPhone program that was approved at the highest levels, and then rejected without explanation?  “We just can’t allow that.  It could result in user confusion.”

It’s either Apple’s way or no way, even when Apple’s way is pathologically stupid.  Yet, there is no lack of iCult members who are positively giddy to be treated like iTools!

In contrast, when something goes wrong on a PC, people – rightly, might I add – blame Microsoft.  Microsoft makes a disgusting amount of money from their software; and in a sane world, money buys accountability.  We pay the CEOs of large corporations obscene salaries and even more ludicrous bonuses to fix problems.  If there’s a malfunction, someone is reassuringly responsible; if there’s a disaster, someone is handily available to be lynched.

Except, reality breaks down within the Church of Apple.  If a Mac user has a problem, you can rest assured that she will blame herself.  You just know that a technical glitch couldn’t possibly be because Apple made a mistake, or the product contains a flaw.  Apple merchandise is loving crafted and precisely engineered!  And the omnisicient Steve Jobs thinks of absolutely everything!

Is it really so hard to see that Apple’s technical accomplishments represent the pinnacle of human accomplishment? Or that every contact with the Holy Church is divinely sublime?

It is positively convenient to drive 50 miles to the nearest Apple store, wait for more than an hour because the iDisciples can’t keep to their appointment system, and lose your computer for a week and a half because a computer repair service doesn’t stock hard drives.  You get to talk to a human being, who will insult you to your face rather than over the phone!  simpsons-mappleIf you can’t get it to work, that’s your problem.  You’re obviously not smart or cool enough to be an Apple person.

In Apple’s pristine little world, it’s just inconceivable that Apple’s products might not be nearly so desirable as the punditocracy claims.  It’s blasphemy of the highest order, requiring that thorough penance to be administered by the all-too enthusiastic congregation of assorted hippies, losers and online freaks.  Any individual who so much as implies something negative about Apple deserves the accusations of bias – defined as anything less than a total willingness to sacrifice their firstborn’s blood on the iAltar – that will plague them for the rest of their public life.

After all, Apple has never done anything to encourage resentment or anger.  They’re far too busy voiding warrantees, sabotaging relationships and having a party to promote the thousands of invisible (albeit refined) features and APIs of their near-perfect operating system.  As a result, it’s simply incorrect to assert that I resent Apple.  Until such time as they do something improper, I’ll just have to classify my feelings as disillusionment and disgust.

Why Bother With a Personal Website?

 | July 10, 2009 3:45 pm

An On Elephant Walkabout

Seven or eight years ago, I remember seeing a print advertisement for Apple’s latest computer: the MacBook.   Like most Apple ads, it hyped the benefits of a connected digital lifestyle promising things like “Web design for the rest of us,” and “Access to the ‘Podcast Revolution.’”  At the time, I remember thinking, “Why would I ever want to have a connected digital lifestyle?  I like my anonymity.  That just seems like a privacy violation ready to happen!”

And while I still hold many of those same opinions, I probably should mention that I have thoroughly changed my ideas on the necessity of the digital lifestyle.  And, ironically, it wasn’t the promises of convenience, understanding or creativity which resulted in my change of heart.  Not at all.  Rather, I came to realize that I should embrace digital existence for one simple reason: necessity.

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Trials and Travails of a Tack Snob

 | June 2, 2009 12:25 am

Peekaboo - 2008 0328-5 Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I am self-centered, arrogant and more than slightly conceited.  In addition, I have exquisitely “discerning” tastes, pretenses to education, and sophistication.  Put simply: I am a snob.

I like to have nice things and I enjoy browsing and shopping in tremendously stuffy stores.  I want people to think about the overall experience and quality,  and I have an extremely low tolerance for when they don’t.

Unfortunately, being a snob is substantially easier when you have the income and social standing to support it.  In what I consider to be one of the tragedies of existence, I have neither.  In a genuflection to reality, therefore, I take the approach of owning a very small number of high quality things.  Quality, not quantity.

While I try to apply this rule to most things, there is one area of my life where I make absolutely no compromises: horsemanship.  My tack needs to look, feel and hang a certain way.  Some of these preferences stem from the “need” to look a certain way, but many are practical.  I hold strong opinions about how things should be done and get more than a bit fussy when life doesn't follow my lead.

Consider, for example, a specialized riding hackamore that I often use (seen modeled by my somewhat evil mare, Peekaboo).  I like for it to be made from yacht cord, with a 25 foot lead rope and rawhide touches and tassels. (Style is just as important as substance in most everything.)  While I might be willing to concede that my hackamore is a glorified halter, the various evolutions I’ve added are extremely important to me.  I’ve ridden quite a few colts, and I’ve found that spending the first 30 to 60 days in a halter helps develop a foundation that will last for the rest of the horse’s life.  The tugs, weighting and motions of the halter are first instilled on the ground and then transfer to work under saddle.  You can use a halter with 8 foot rein and 25 foot lead right from the very beginning without having to change tools and this can make a big difference in the horse’s overall development.

There’s just one problem: I’ve never been able to find a 35 foot lead made of yacht cord and I’m simply not willing to go with nylon.  (The yacht cord is important because I like its feel, weight, and durability.)  Additionally, no one makes a halter with rawhide and tasseled accents. (What can I say, I’m a sucker for horse hair tassels.)   Because no one sales the tack I want, I am left with only one alternative: I make it myself.

Hand made (by me) halters, headstalls, riata, and a large variety of other things made from rawhide (in addition to those made of string, leather and miscellaneous baling twine) all hang in my tack locker.  Each one was (more or less) lovingly crafted with an eye to detail and quality.  But even taking the route of the obsessive connoisseur doesn’t solve every problem.

Like … how can the materials for custom, hand-made tack cost more than the store-bought finished product?Don’t believe me?  Consider my quest for the perfect lariat (a handbraided piece of rawhide wonder known as a riata) some 60 feet in length.  I’ve been saving for rawhide so that I can braid it for a while now.  Naturally, it will be my third riata since I just can’t seem to keep my hands on the others.  The first one that I created was both spectacularly beautiful and according to a good braider friend of mine, utterly unusable.  Thus, it hangs in my office as decoration.  On the second round, I created a usable piece of kit (which quite unfortunately parted my company during a weekend roping clinic).Braided Reata

Thus, we are now on round three.  From the first two attempts, I have given up trying to find usable rawhide in my local area.  The local leather supplier largely pedals crap, and overcharges to boot.  My first experiment in buying hide from California was an utter disaster.  It was only after a great deal of searching and writing to every commercial braider in the Western US that I was finally pointed to a nice little website that sales quality stuff.  The catch?  It’s horrifically expensive and the supplier is often out of stock.  Apparently, there is a reason why most serious raw-hide braiders both treat and cut their own string.  Pity that I don’t really have the time, space, or overall desire to do so.  Gives new perspective to, “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”  More depressing, you can find a perfectly passable riata on e-bay for between $150 and $200 dollars (a little less than it would cost me to braid my own).

This situation doesn’t only apply to raw-hide or leather.  Oh no, getting hold of the rope of preference (double braided yacht-cord) is just as difficult.  There are only three stores in my area which will sale it by the foot, and each one overprices it horribly (often 2.00 per foot or more).  It’s even difficult to find it online for much less (about $1.60 per foot from u-braid it).  Given my taste for longer leads, it is essentially impossible to get rope cut for less than fifty dollars.  And yet, fifty dollars can buy a huge amount of crappy rope. Even worse, you can buy a Parelli hackamore for about $75.  What. The. Hell?

It’s just not fair.  Since when are raw materials more expensive than finished products?

I suppose that I could use inferior materials, but that would lead to an inferior product.  And inferior products are simply intolerable.  Truly, it is a curse to be gifted with superior taste.

Barn Architecture

 | May 9, 2009 4:21 pm

balancing-barn-by-living-architecture-and-mvrdv-squ-mvrdv-balancing-barn-su.jpgThere is a reason why the tuxedo hasn’t changed in more than a century.  Put simply, there is no need for it to.  Unlike other things, it doesn’t need to evolve or mold itself to the fashions of the current age.  It’s just fine the way it is.  It’s traditional.

And barn architecture should be traditional.  They are practical buildings, and as a result should be made of relatively impractical things.  That means natural materials.  Most of the structure should be made of wood (preferably oak) or stone with big timbered logs being an even better choice. Steel and concrete can be acceptable, but edge out on the tacky side.

Thus, there is only one word to describe the structure being proposed by MVRDV and Mole Architects near Suffolk in the United Kingdom: travesty.  (Though monstrosity comes remarkably close as well.)  First, they are proposing an “open” architecture with beautiful bay windows and gobs of free-space.  While barns can certainly be open, they should not include bay windows.  Have you ever seen the type of slime a dedicated horse can produce?  Second, it’s made out of modern materials: specially treated steel and composites …  and it’s cantilevered.  Words do not even begin to describe how wrong it is to cantilever a barn.  (Even if it is really a vacation home that some hack decided to call a barn.  I would never house animals, much less people in such a disgusting and clearly unsafe building.)

Traditional barns are so much better.  Traditional barns have character.

John Moulton Barn - Mormon Row - Grand Teton National Park Hi Ute Ranch - Park City, Utah

Winter Barn in Utah - Park City

Wagon Wheel and Barn - Morgan, Utah

Utah Farm near Capitol Reef National Park

Save Your Favorite Show By Watching Online

 | May 5, 2009 2:13 pm

nbc_kings_header1Whenever I hear the statistics on television watching, I get more than a bit nauseous.  “According to the AC Nielson Co, the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (~28 hours/week or 2 months non-stop TV watching per year).”  I’m not nauseous for the significant amount of wasted time, but for the fact that there is almost nothing worth watching.  How can the average American spend four hours a day watching hideous reality TV and Law and Order reruns?  Eck.

Sure, are a few awesome shows (Battlestar Galactica for one), but the majority of television is utter rot.  And sure, reality TV may be responsible for the cultural illiteracy of entire generation of American youth, but the real problem lies among timid television executives.  Despite noble sentiments to the contrary, television (in addition to music and literature) is a business.  (A horrifically expensive business.)  TV executives want to make money, which is done by running programs that are popular and profitable.  This usually means that instead of trying something different, they opt for renewing Law and Order: White Collar Crime over something, for lack of a better word, good.

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Of Artists and Artisans

 | March 3, 2009 2:14 pm

When dealing with creative types, I've always felt like there were two separate camps: the artists and the artisans. Artists are those people out on the fringe -- experimenters, big thinkers, creatives. Many amongst these types would probably say, "Fine art exists to do new things. Ya know, push the boundaries."

Then there are the artisans. Compared to the artists, this group is probably a bit dull. Because, someone has to do the actual work. Illustrators, soundtrack composers, advertising and design people, and writers. While creative, an artisan is usually much more concerned about craft than about launching cultural revolution. Moreover, the output is usually subservient to some larger purpose: sale a product, tell a story, whatever.

And while it might not be completely fair, I think it is safe to say that these two groups don't like one another very much. Artists look down their noses at artisans. Artisans aren't really creating art, after all.

And I've met more than a few artisans which feel like artists have thoroughly wrecked fine art. The pretentious, latte drinking, beret wearing snobs! Who do they think they are, creating sloppy work and calling it "experimental." I mean, what do you really get for that experimentation? Art so bizarre that few people recognize it as such. What is the point of art which no one understands?

In the fight between high and low art, I'm partial to the cause of the artisans; particularly in literature. If there is one area where craftsmanship really matters, it's wordsmithing. Any three year old can finger paint, not every three year old can sling a coherent sentence. This is probably why I don't really like "literary" or "experimental" fiction. It's hard to read, it's weird. If it were difficult for a reason or a purpose, that would be one thing. But most often it's weird simply for the sake of being strange. The odd plotting techniques, dialogue, or structure most often gets in the way of the story rather than aiding it. You can keep your polycosmic perspectives and dimensional dialogue. I just want read a good story which is competently written.

This is why I am grateful for "genre fiction." Like great artisans everywhere, the goal isn't about doing something new, but creating something enjoyable. A solid piece of work rather than a striking new piece of art. Artisans don't bog down in the style while trying to be innovative. Rather, they focus on the story first and then revel it in its delivery. I find this approach to be so much more satisfying. A good story drags you in and compels you to turn the pages. Then you can relish the language. When both come together, that's brilliant literature.

Which brings me to the point: high literature stopped trying to tell stories quite some time ago. After all, storytelling is so old hat. It isn't new, it isn't experimental, it isn't exciting. And while they were trying to invent a new art, high literature stopped being literature. Which is probably why it's dying. It's ironic that when art comes before craftsmanship that both suffer. But any artisan know this, which is why they keep good company: da Vinci, Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, Rembrandt, and most other great "artists" were artisans (craftsmen) first. They weren't artists till some 20th century scholar got around to calling them such.

A Pitiful and Pathetic Story

 | February 11, 2009 4:51 pm

Man Upset at Laptop

It may just be me, but I find it tremendously ironic that we spend so much of time in the thrall of computers.  I mean, if a computer goes out, it completely destroys the ability of far too many people to get anything done.

Consider a quick example.  Last week, while out to lunch with my Dad at the Cheesecake Factory, the power went out and computer systems died.  The entire place just stopped working.  People weren’t able to place their orders or receive their food.  My Dad and I ended up splitting his pasta because mine wasn’t put into the system before it went down.  (This was okay, since the Cheesecake Factory serving sizes are enormous and I still felt bloated on even half an order of pasta). 

And even though lunch was still great, this experience reveals an important point.  Why, exactly, is modern society so in thrall to computer systems?  A restaurant is perfectly capable of operating without a fancy, just-in-time computer tracking system.  Waitresses can still take orders, chefs can still prepare food and people can still eat.  Yet … the place completely fell apart without their computers.

The truly ironic bit, however, is that it hasn’t always been this way.  Within the living memory of most people (including me), life happened without computers.  People managed to get our work done, communicate with loved ones, and stay on top of the news.  And while the big beige boxes make all of these tasks easier, it is still possible to perform them without a computer.

Theoretically, at least.

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Reluctantly Reviewed: iDefrag

 | February 6, 2009 12:05 am

iDefrag There are few things more inconvenient than unplanned or unanticipated software reviews.  If you are going to review and look at software, it is substantially more fun to plan out a careful comparison between two products.  When done in a methodical way, you can think about how to test them, explore their corners, and determine if they they might make a good fit with your workflow.

In contrast, if you are drafting an unplanned software review, it usually means that something has gone terribly wrong.  What is tremendously ironic, however, is that the unplanned reviews are often much more extensive and thorough then the planned variety.  They are more valuable.  Unplanned reviews show you how the software performs in a time of relative crisis.

Or, that’s how this particular software review began life at least.  Rather than setting out to review defragmentation utilities on Mac OS X, it’s something that mostly just happened.  The original goal was easy: I wanted to do was use Apple Boot Camp to install the Windows 7 Beta on my Mac.  It’s amazing that such a simple thing could spawn nearly two full days of relative misery.

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