Sunday, April 6, 2008

Disappointed in Steve Jobs

I spent about four hours today screwing around with trying to be able to paste tables from Excel into WordPress directly, with no luck whatsoever really, and another four hours or so trying to figure out some CSS and PHP related stuff in WordPress (I was a little luckier on that front, but not much really). I don't want to talk trash about WordPress because it blows my mind that you can get an extremely powerful content management and publishing system essentially for free. But it does piss me off that I can post an Excel table directly into frakking Blogger and it works with no problems whatsoever.





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Anyway, Fred Wilson kind of pissed me off because he was right twice. First, last week he said he wasn't interested in the NCAA semi-finals because after Davidson was ousted, it just wasn't very interesting. I figured, you know, that with a bunch of number one seeds playing each other the games would at least be good. They weren't. Boring as hell really. The only good outcome at all of any of that was that the Kansas/North Carolina game was such a blowout, out of boredom I flipped channels and wound up hitting the two-hour pilot of Firefly right at the very beginning. I'd heard many good things about it and had been meaning to watch (the series only lasted 14 episodes, but then they also added a 2 hour movie later). I enjoyed it.

Other than that, the only good news was that in about the span of one week, the Washington Capitals went from not being in the playoffs to winning their division and getting the #3 seed in the Eastern conference. It all came down to the last game. If they won, or even lost in overtime, they would win the division, and if they lost they would be eliminated. They won. Alex Ovechkin will certainly win the MVP award without question now that the Caps are in the playoffs and Ted Leonsis, in addition to getting to go to the playoffs, and having the home ice advantage for the first round, will get some playoff revenue. I'm delighted for him. Go Caps!

Ok, Steve Jobs. I sort of had a "I knew it was you, Fredo!" moment. Damn you Fred Wilson. I took a break from studying php code and saw a comment by Fred on one of his blog posts were it said he was disappointed in Apple/Jobs for not going with Flash on the iPhone. While there is no Flash on the iPhone, I'd always heard it was "coming soon" (of course that's been over 9 months now) and was unaware any decision had been made. So I Googled and yep, sure as hell Jobs said a month ago that it wasn't going to happen.

I hope this is just some negotiating strategy, and not some business strategy. In fairness, you need a good WiFi connection to stream anything well, but that's not a problem for me. The H.264 streaming built into the iPhone to work with YouTube works extremely well on the iPhone with a WiFi connection, even for very high quality videos. But here's the problem, MOST of what I want to watch isn't on YouTube. In fact, almost nothing I want to watch is on YouTube.

It seemed like Adobe thought they could build it anyway because of the iPhone SDK, but from what I read, it doesn't play really nicely with Flash, and so it's not looking good, and I'm guessing that's going to scuttle any thought of Slingbox on the iPhone, too. I hope that's wrong. If not, it sucks. It also limits significantly how I want to use my iPhone for video. I've got a DVR on my computer and a couple of ways that I can stream to other computers (whether I'm at home or not). One just directly via my computer via software from, the other SlingBox. And whatever Orb does with H264 or .MV4 it isn't the same as what YouTube is doing because even over a good WiFi connection, it's pretty useless for the iPhone, sadly (I could stream music well enough, but video never worked well).

It took Jobs a while to come around to saying, "DRM is bad for consumers," and for the same reasons I hope that he'll come around with Flash. Because really, making your device so it is prohibitive from working with the stuff your customers already have – that's got to be bad for consumers. iTunes is fine, but I don't love it so much that I'd marry it. And if someone makes an iPhone clone, with a phone, with a touch screen, with an actually, real-life operating system such as Apple has done with the iPhone (and NOT something like Windows Mobile), oh I will switch for sure. Of course, exactly at the point that happens, Jobs will make sure my phone works with whatever I already have.

I understand Steve Jobs' desire to have "control", but it's a double-edged sword. One edge of it did wonders for the way the iPhone works. The reason Windows Mobile sucks compared to the iPhone is because it's not a full operating system that takes up nearly a Gig of space. The way Apple went about "control" allowed them to actually put a full-fledged computer on the phone.

But for all the reasons DRM is bad for consumers, this is bad too. We want control of our stuff, and if your stuff doesn't play nicely, it's bad. If it's 2:30pm and I'm not home but I have my iPhone and a good WiFi connection, I feel like I ought to be able to connect to my computer or SlingBox and stream Pardon the Interruption to myself. But no dice. And yeah, I know ESPN winds up putting it online, but guess what? That's ALSO in Flash.

Steve Jobs, like Fredo, you broke my heart.

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