iPhone has new spots

Apple gives Leopard a new tale
I’m sick to death of the iPhone and it hasn’t even been launched yet. The hype has been near-continuous since its announcement, which seems like eons ago if the volume of fawning coverage is an indicator. Release. The. Phone. Already.

Never to pass up an opportunity to mention its new product, Apple has even worked the iPhone into the delay of its new Mac operating system. Leopard won’t be ready to go until the fall, says the company, because it’s devoting its developer resources to … the iPhone.

Another word about the iPhone – other than “it’s out!” – and I will scream.
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To boldly route
Having apparently run out of space in its equipment rack, the U.S. military is putting a router into orbit. This is described as a first step in creating an interplanetary Internet, which is critical to facilitate access to MySpace pages for extraterrestrial life.
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Misunderestimated storage needs
The White House has apparently “lost” five million e-mail messages because of a storage system it knew was “flawed.” And this does not remind us at all of Richard Nixon’s Watergate-era “tapes” that were “destroyed,” almost getting him “impeached” and sending several of his aides to “jail.” No, nothing about this is suspicious at all.
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Geek in the bathroom
Are you one of those people who hangs on every word uttered by a Best Buy employee? If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume no. Insider gets mildly ticked when he goes to a Best Buy for a fix of PC peripherals and iPod accessories and gets assaulted by Mr. Know-it-all with a fistful of warrantees you don’t want or need. Once they tried to sell Insider a warrantee for a camera battery. Insider kids you not.

Anyway, busybodies are only a minor inconvenience compared to the outside help they recommend. A California woman is suing Best Buy after an employee referred her to Geek Squad to repair her computer. The Geek Squad rep did more than that – he used his cell phone to videotape footage of the young lady showering. There’s a moral here somewhere, but darned if Insider can find it. Don’t bathe around Geek Squad employees? Don’t spy on your customers, especially when they’re in the bathroom? Surely it’s one of those two.
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Vista or bust

You know what Insider really wants? A PC preloaded with Windows 95. Think of it . . . a cute little OS with solitaire and minesweeper. Well, maybe not. But I’ll settle for a PC preloaded with XP. I mean, Microsoft went to the trouble of patching the crap outta that thing. It’s gotta be at least usable. Well, one would hope anyway. Such a shame you won’t be able to get a copy come 2008. Nope. It’s only Vista after that. (Pause while my eye stops twitching and I can get the hyperventilation under control.) Is it me, or is that thing just a big pain in the bum? Well, get used to it.
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Please, Dell, can I have just a little XP?

Speaking of Vista, a ComputerWorld reader wrote in with the following transcript from a session with a Dell employee. Said reader (Michael) was trying to order hardware with XP pre-installed rather than Vista. Hilarity ensued.

Michael ———
What does the extra CD for the Pro Installer cost?

That would be $299.00 for the XP Pro.
8:56:26 PM

Just checking our connection.
8:57:42 PM

Are you still there Michael?
8:57:50 PM

Michael ———
Thats insane. Thank You for your time. I am going to post this conversation out on the net to let everyone know how what Dell is up to. I will also be forwarding a copy to Dell corporate with a letter.

Then later . . .

I do apologize if this has insinuated anything terrible to you. I am only giving you all the options that are available, not forcing you into anything you don’t wish to do.
9:26:57 PM

These are all the options I know of, and truly I an sorry for the inconvenience if I have caused any.
9:27:06 PM

Michael ———
Thank You, Please have a pleasant evening I will be looking at Acer now. Good By.

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Hackers love a bargain
Do you enjoy quality, name brand goods for less? Sure you do. Insider does too. We’ve all shopped at Winners. Yes, even you, Mr. CIO with your six-figure salary. You expect us to believe you paid full retail for that tie? Damn, that thing’s ugly. Anyway, where I? Oh yes. We’ve all shopped at Winners at some point. That also means that some enterprising kid with a high IQ and low moral fibre has a copy of your bank/credit card information. Pesky kids! How did they do it? Well, perhaps only they know for sure, but Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jon Oltsik examines the facts on his blog for News.com. The short of it is, too many IT departments are asleep at the wheel and it’s going to take more than better security solutions to wake them up.
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This is Major Gates to ground control
No doubt countless Apple enthusiasts have considered the possibility of launching Bill Gates into orbit, possibly out of a cannon. Well, it turns out they might get their wish. Apparently, Microsoft’s main man is considering joining his colleague Charles Simonyi who is currently aboard the International Space Station.

Sure, it would be thrilling adventure, but Insider’s personal opinion is that Gates and Simonyi just want to enact “Pigs in Space” for real. Expect arguments over who plays Dr. Strangepork and Link Hogthrob.
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Amiga Amigos
Regular readers of this blog will know that Insider occasionally likes to indulge the little guy inside him (for Pete’s sake, get your mind out of the gutter) and reminisce about the times of yore when video games were quality escapism. Oh, Mario, what have you done for me lately? (Actually, some of the Nintendo DS games aren’t bad, but I digress.) Before there was Mario, there was the Amiga. Compared to today’s CPUs it doesn’t seem like it would have been enough to power an Etch-a-Sketch, but back then, Amiga was the last word in gaming machines.

Wired has complied a list of the 10 Amiga games that helped make modern titles what they are today. Who could forget Lemmings? Watching those little suckers take a dirt nap was prime entertainment back in the late 80s. Inflicting pain on innocents must have a profound impact on the game’s designer, since he went on to create Grand Theft Auto.

If you’re old enough to remember Lemmings, you’re, well, old. Stop reading this and take a nap. If you’ve never heard of it, feel free to laugh at the dodgy graphics and return to your game of Guitar Hero II, you insolent pipsqueak.
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Are handhelds over?
I’ve a friend who’s been pushing handheld devices at me for years now, convinced that if I just try one, I won’t know how I lived without one. I’m sure this is entirely out of concern for my productivity and organization and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that his PR firm represents a client whose name begins with a P and ends in an alm.

Tried a few. One of them got me hooked on carrying a small notepad and pencil in my breast pocket, that’s about it.

Now it’s looking like I may have missed the handheld age altogether, what with Dell pulling its Axim off the market. It’s a hard sell when most of your functionality can be co-opted by a cell phone people are carrying anyway, and that which can’t is available in ever-smaller-and-lighter laptops and UMPCs. The Axim won’t be the last casualty.

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What’s this red button do?
Charles Simonyi, former lead developer on Microsoft’s Word and Excel applications, is as we speak circling the globe in the International Space Station, having paid about $25 million for the privilege.

And here we thought it took years of training and education to be safe in a small, hermetically sealed capsule in the vacuum of space. Apparently, it’s not rocket science after all.

A vaguely related not: the name Simonyi, which is, let’s face it, not common in English-speaking countries, is in Word’s spell-check dictionary.

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Bad for batteries, good for business
Insider is glad to see someone is profiting off the massive battery recalls that affected Lenovo, Sony, Dell and who knows how many other friggin’ laptop makers.

Lenovo, in its considerable wisdom, has released battery tracking software to aid IT managers in their bad battery witch hunt.

Now all we need is a piece of software that sniffs out crappy user interfaces, laggy Web sites, sticky mice, wonky monitors and annoying bosses who don’t understand how a budget works. Got that, Lenovo?

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Hide the kids, shoot the aliens

Do you have kids? Do you try to shield them from all the nasty stuff going on in the world? Well, sure you do. Then why play video games where the aim is to shoot holes in people the size of Cleveland? Because it’s fun!

That’s more or less the premise of this Clive Thompson column in Wired. “I was playing a round of Gears of War, trying to redo a level on insane mode, and the walls were painted with guts,” writes Thompson. “I slaughtered my way to the boss, revved up my chainsaw, and sliced into his chest — releasing a fractal fountain of gore. Woo!

“At that instant, I heard the front door to my apartment open, and in walked my nanny … with my 15-month-old son, his eyes agog. Daddy, I could see him thinking, what are you doing?”

Now Thompson has written repeatedly trying to debunk “video game gore begets real-world violence” theories – and this may be just another to add to your Clive library, but at least the guy can write a line like the “walls were painted with guts” and make it seem oddly endearing.

What’s more fascinating is Lego’s take on kiddie violence, which Thompson also mentions his column: “The Lego Company, it seems, has a policy of not producing toys that replicate 20th century weapons.

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Hide the kids, count the vampires

Call it Clive Thompson day on Insider if you like, but this was just too cool to ignore. Based on the admitedly somewhat specious math of others, Clive has arrived at the definitive number of vampires that inhabit the Buffy universe. If you don’t know what any of that means, then this blog entry is probably not for you. (Check in tomorrow for Linus Torvalds day.) If, on the other hand, you’ve always wondered how Sarah Michelle Gellar spends her evenings, then read on.

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