Wednesday, January 19

Apple's iWork not so "i"

Been thinking about Apple's new iWork software , mainly because I'll take any remotely plausible excuse to drop Microsoft Office for an alternative. Office and I have only come to work together productively after more than a decade of clashing heads, and really, it's me that's learned to work with Office, not the other way around.

Sadly, iWork isn't a replacement for Microsoft Office, because it only includes a word processor, Pages, and an upgraded version of Keynote, the presentation software I already own.

Yes, Pages has some cool features, and sure, I get the feeling it would probably take me less time to learn than a new version of Word. I'm even reasonably confident that Pages would learn to work with me, rather than the other way around. But without a trial version of Pages or iWork available to download, I'm not interested enough to invest the time to see. Swapping word processors is akin to changing religions when you're a writer, and I really need a limited-time demo version from Apple before I'm prepared to invest the time in evaluating it. Why doesn't Apple ever offer trial version of its software? It must be the only major software vendor yet to do it.

Some more questions: why hasn't Apple offered me an upgrade from Keynote to iWorks yet? Or even an upgrade from the previous version of Keynote to the new version of Keynote? The $199 retail price for iWorks is quite cheap compared to most office productivity software, but it's still $199 I don't really have a good reason to spend. How about a $99 upgrade offer?

One last, very important question: why isn't the cosy Microsoft/Apple relationship threatened by the release of iWork, when most Mac users own a copy of Microsoft Office, and when Microsoft Office is a very profitable and growing area of business for Microsoft?

Sadly, the answer is very simple: unlike Microsoft Office, iWorks doesn't include a spreadsheet application. Microsoft Excel remains unchallenged on Mac OSX as well as Windows. And very few customers - me included - will buy iWorks when we already own a copy of Microsoft Office. Bill's position on the Mac is still secure. What a bummer!

Sunday, January 9

Warmer, fuzzier blog

To placate the powerful whining bleeding-heart humanist lobby amongst my enormous readership (now in two digits) I've taken the drastic step of renaming my blog from "Why am i surrounded by idiots?" to "Why are you and i surrounded by idiots?"

By including you in the upper rung with me, you now share the burden that superiority brings; I hope you're up to it.

Don't waste too much time wondering if it's actually you I'm referring to in the title, and not one of my nine other readers. It certainly wouldn't occur to any of them, they're just not that bright.

You, on the other hand, well... you may prove useful.

40th birthday photos

While on the topic of photography, here's some photos from events commemorating my 40th birthday, including a birthday lunch at Lanie, Miles and Finn's house on the day itself, and some more from a special dinner cooked for me by my wonderful friend Angie and gorgeous wife Melissa the following evening (known by me as 'Boxing Birthday' and designed to extend my special birthday privileges just one more day.) Bon appetit!

New Years Eve: the photographs

Better late than never, here's some rather good photos from New Year's Eve 2005, even if I do say so myself. Taken from the roof of St Aloysius in Kirribilli. Quite simply Sydney's best NYE view!

For sale: Motorolla SB4200i cable modem and Netgear FM114P router/print server

Motorolla SB4200i cable modem
Originally uploaded by bigyahu.

Goodbye Telstra Bigpond Cable, I never loved you!

Frabjuous joy! I celebrated by finally installing an iPrimus-supplied DSL modem/router, an Apple Airport Extreme basestation and two (YES TWO!) Airport Express dongles. One Airport Express to connect my PowerBook to the Bose, so I can wirelessly play my iTunes library throughout the house and garden (1,575 songs, 103 artists, 152 albums - 4 non-stop days and nights of music... and counting!).

The other Airport Express I plugged in to the outdoor powerpoint underneath the stairs to the garden, next to the xmas lights (now complemented by the gentle green LED of the happy Airport Express) so that I have (geeky drumroll please...)

WiFi access across our whole GARDEN!!!

At last I can work on my laptop while my son excavates in the sandpit, denudes the plants, and kicks balls over the fence! Why? Because I CAN!

All I need now is a big sunshade in the garden so I can see my laptop screen, and a small bar fridge...

Friday, January 7

Great news! (kinda)

I got the following at the beginning of an email from a hotel chain loyalty program today:

Dear Alan,
Happy New Year from Priority Club� Rewards! We're looking to another rewarding year; however we remain deeply saddened by the devastation in Southern Asia...

Phew! It can't be easy to be celebratory, excited about the new year, and also deeply saddened at the same time. But the hotel chain, me and I guess most everybody else not directly affected by the natural disaster is trying to do all three at once.

I'm not trying to be savvier-than-thou; why, I bet my tsunami donation to Oxfam was bigger than yours (not that it matters, right?). But I wonder how much of the extraordinarily generous global response to this particular aid crisis is down to the timing - when most of the western world is still celebrating Christmas and New Year?

There's some pressure in the office to slap a big set of "donate now" links across our site. I feel like we might be insulting the intelligence of our customers! You barely have to get out of your chair to donate to tsunami relief efforts in Sydney this week. My coffeeshop is donating its tips. The record shop is donating 5% of sales. I even read that most Sydney brothels have decided to donate 5-10% of client's fees (which would be a relief effort from a relief effort, or a relief effort, squared!)

The Australian government has even gone straight to the Indonesian government and committed $1 billion in aid. Put that in perspective: Indonesia's GDP in 2004 was about $220 billion and only four years ago it was $150 billion. So in 2005 it will probably represent a surprise windfall bonus for Indonesia's wealthy generals of about 0.4%. Holy Bucks, Batman!

Definitely worth thinking twice before invading now, you whacky generals! However, unlike some other larger economic powers, we haven't decided to forget about how much Indonesia is already in debt to Australia - about $1.4 billion. So the whacky generals can have a billion, but we still want our billion-plus back, thankyou. What if we'd just cancelled the debt and kept the billion, wouldn't that be simpler? Oh, wait, it wouldn't get the same media coverage back home, would it? Little Johnnie never forgets the media reaction.

If, say, the US ever wanted to make the same impression on the Australian economy, it would have to pump in about $2.5 billion. A big $2.5 billion present like that (assuming no strings attached) could pay for Australia's spending on fighting the "war on terror" over the next five years, or about half our government's spending on education for the year, or pay for our public road and train infrastructure for a year. Or pay the Federal private health care rebate for a year. Or buy a lucky 500,000 Australians a brand-spanking-new Lamborghini Gallardo (I would need to be one of these people, obviously, or Johnnie would lose my vote... errr... again...)

So Italy gets a nice economic windfall too. Except Lamborghini was only planning on selling about 1,000 Gallardos this year, so maybe we could stretch it to 499 other lucky Australians aside from myself (we can hardly deny the rest of the world the Lamborghinis they lust for). And it's quite possible the other 495,000 eligible Australians would prefer the Lamborghini Murcielago, or a second-hand Diablo, or even (shudder) an 'every-day' car, in which case we could probably stretch the largesse to another, say million Australians.

Our government would get about 22% of that spending back from us in motoring-related taxes, which we could probably lend to Indonesia (once we see evidence that they're capable of paying back what they still owe us, of course). And in the meantime, we're prepared to lend them our old cars, at least until they're able to rebuild all the roads, highways, houses, hospitals, schools, etc in the tsunami-affected province of Aceh. Which, let's face it, were in a pretty poor state before the tsunami, while the generals back in Jakarta have been driving around in supercars on their days off for years. So maybe they need to commit to spending the money on fixing up Aceh this time, instead of lining their own pockets.

...Is everybody clear on that?

Me at 40

Me at 40
Turning 40 on 3 Jan didn't kill me, it turns out. Nor did I turn into a youth-sucking pensioner-zombie. Though it did take me a few days to post this recognition of the fact, so maybe there's something subconscious going on there I haven't dredged up yet.

Lemme count my blessings:

  • still married to my soul-mate, still in love with her, she doesn't dislike me often, or for very long

  • got a truly wonderful child and he and i are CEO and Chairman of a Mutual Admiration Society that probably still has another 5-10 years in it

  • small circle of close friends who are intelligent, funny, caring and interesting (you know who you are)

  • still got my health!

  • still got all four limbs, knees and ankles still good, could still play tennis if i knew how

  • still fit and not too podgy, though maybe it's time to admit i'm not gonna get a sixpack

  • still got most of my hair, only a few grey ones

  • greasy skin means fewer wrinkles

  • only lost one tooth so far

  • like my job

  • not in debt

  • love my family, quite like my wife's family too, and my mother-in-law's awesome

  • What am I missing?A Lamborghini Gallardo. Honestly, I believe owning one of these (without having to pay for it, obviously) would complete me

  • With self-awareness comes the realisation that you're actually pretty shallow and materialistic (see: Lamborghini Gallardo)

Wednesday, January 5

New Year's resolution for 2005

With no further ado, ladies and gelatin, I announce the following New Year's resolution:

1280 x 1024

...and that's at 75Hz and 16bit colour too, none of that 65Hz/8bit crap for me any longer, oh no! Those days are gone and they ain't comin' back.

You have been resolved.

Buy content through ScooptWords