Things I Ran Simultaneously On An i5-Based Mac Book Air 11″

* Remote Desktop, running remote updates.

* Software Update, running local updates.

* Safari, surfing Wikipedia.

* Reeder, reading RSS

* Twitter, duh

* Mail, ditto

* Google Chrome Canary, playing a full-screen HD stream of last night’s USMNT match in its own Flash engine

* And whatever was active in the two other accounts that were logged in previously in the background.

This is the cheaper of the two processors, with 4 GB of RAM backing it.  In other words, the second-cheapest MacBook Air.  Now obviously this is all going to bleed the battery dry, esp. since I was on Wi-Fi the entire time.  One of the things I want to try next is metering this sort of thing without the power plugged in at any point and see how far we get.

ARD is not as ineffective as I expected, but it’s still trying to work with a large-scale display.  I also strongly suspect the battery life will suffer by comparison.  Still, the 11″ is a dandy little piece of work, and if I were only interested in a personal machine, it would be a tough option to pass up…

That’s the way it goes…

It wasn’t a good week to be a Bay Area pioneer/visionary/control maniac in black.

Steve Jobs and Al Davis probably never met, but both of them were in the same business: they were carving a path in their own image through an industry that was hidebound by conventional wisdom and safe practices.  Don’t hire the minority coach.  Don’t sign the maverick free agent.  Don’t try to compete with Blackberry and Nokia and Motorola on phones.  Don’t branch out into digital music.

Don’t be different.

Conventional wisdom, and its amen chorus of pundits, is the greatest threat to this country and to our way of life.  Everybody knows the truth is somewhere in the middle. Everybody knows you can’t raise taxes on anyone in a recession.  Everyone knows there’s no way Vanderbilt can be competitive in SEC football.  Bow to the status quo.  Accept the world as it is.  Be the way everyone thinks you ought to be.

And Steve and Al spoke, and they said, fuck you.

Everybody knew the AFL was a joke, and everybody knew beleaguered Apple Computer had no future.  And the moral, as always, is beware of what “everybody knows.”

Just win, baby

Al Davis was one of a kind.  No other owner – not Mark Cuban, not George Steinbrenner, not Jerry Jones – nobody has embodied the franchise like Al Davis, who went from scout to position coach to head coach to AFL commissioner to “President of the General Partner” – for much of his career, his actual personal ownership stake in the Raiders was only about 15%, but he was the face of the franchise.

Teams, companies, organizations spend literally millions upon millions of dollars to craft the kind of brand and image that Al Davis achieved for the Raiders as a matter of course.  And they were all true for him.  Outlaw?  Absolutely.  Maverick?  Naturally.  Visionary?  When he took the helm of the AFL, it was with a mandate to force a confrontation and take on the NFL where they stood.  He testified on behalf of the USFL when they challenged the NFL in the early 80s.  He moved his team to Los Angeles, into the teeth of Rams country, and won a Super Bowl into the bargain.  First franchise to win the Super Bowl from a wild-card berth.  For years and years, the winningest franchise on Monday Night Football.

And famously, a guy who called Art Shell into his office, rambled for 20 minutes, and then said “They’re going to talk about you being first.  Ignore all that.  You’re getting this job because you’re a Raider.”  Which is how Art Shell found out he was the first black head coach in the modern NFL.  Al also made Tom Flores the first Latino coach in the NFL, and hired a woman as his CEO.  And by contrast, his was the last practice facility to still get by on old-school weights and barbells in an age of plyometrics and resistance training.  His was the last team to eschew Cover-2 and West Coast offense for vertical passing and “the quarterback must go down and he must go down hard.”

In a league that is the most hidebound, the most conservative, the most conformist in all of sports, Al Davis was a permanent middle finger.  A thorn in the side of three commissioners. A guy who was absolutely right about Lane Kiffin.  An NFL icon in five decades and change.

Clear skies, Al.  Thanks for the commitment to excellence.

Texas Roulette

The conference shuffle continues.  Texas A&M, for better or worse, is now part of the SEC.  Syracuse and Pitt have weighed anchor and jumped to the ACC.  Comes now the news that Texas Christian University (TCU), as successful a non-BCS football team as has played in recent years (if not nearly as hyped as Boise State or Utah), is flaking on its move to the Big East to join the Big XII instead.  This gets the Big XII back to 10 members and preserves a modicum of viability, assuming they hang onto Missouri.

However, the Big East as a football conference is in serious jeopardy.  The class of the remaining league in football is undoubtedly West Virginia, which has purportedly been rebuffed by SEC and ACC alike.  Then you have Louisville and UConn, both top-flight basketball schools with occasionally passable football.  Then Cincinnati, two years removed from a BCS berth but otherwise undistinguished in football and some distance from its Bob Huggins-led basketball success.  Then South Florida and Rutgers, with little hope of hanging on.

Because that’s only six teams.  By rule, a BCS conference must consist of no less than eight.

The Big XII may have saved itself for now with the TCU move, but the Big East is doomed, for BCS purposes.  The ACC would be happy to pick off Louisville and UConn and cement itself as the ultimate power in college basketball.  Maybe the SEC takes West Virginia after all, tired of the dithering from Mizzou and accepting that academic quality – indeed, quality in any aspect other than football – is no longer a critical criterion of SEC membership.  Cincy, Rutgers and South Florida are officially left grasping for something else – maybe the Sun Belt or Conference USA, maybe continuing in a non-football Big East and making their way in some sort of alliance of independents (this is where Notre Dame might be able to lend a hand by adding those three to their football rotation).

Ultimately, though, it’s going to be like this:  SEC/Pac-12/ACC/B1G (formerly Big Ten) are now the upper crust.  The Big XII (-2) will struggle to stay afloat, and the new-look Mountain West Conference (featuring Boise State, Nevada, Fresno, Colorado State, Air Force and others) will probably grab the former Big East auto-bid.  Expect the next round of the shakeout to involve the mid-major conferences – the WAC, the Sun Belt, the MAC and Conference USA – as they try to pick off Big East stragglers (and as some of their top-tier members try to battle their way up the ladder).

The key thing in all this, though, is that the current round of Russian Roulette all stems from Texas and their attempt to create their own network.  They wanted all the benefits of independence while still owning the Big XII as their personal fief, and enough schools have rejected it that the Pac-12 and B1G are now at 12 and the SEC at 13…which compelled Syracuse and Pitt to escape while they could, which crippled the Big East and made TCU flee, which sank the Big East and set everything on tilt-a-whirl again…

Texas Roulette is just like Russian Roulette, only with a semiautomatic.

Further reflection

Steve Jobs, in many ways, is the foundational myth of Silicon Valley.  Along with Woz, bashing together their homebrew computers in the garage, or Hewlett and Packard in that Palo Alto garage, or Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore leading the Traitorous Eight to found Fairchild Semiconductor – what they accomplished is part of our DNA as an industry, part of what we believe about ourselves.  This notion that two guys in a garage can take their dream and conquer the world with it.  That’s what Silicon Valley is.  That’s the dream.  And to lose Steve – and lose him early, despite accomplishment enough for two or three lifetimes – well, it feels like we lost a piece of that dream, part of the proof that what we believe about ourselves as an industry is real.  It pushed Larry and Sergey at Stanford, it pushed a kid in a Harvard dorm room, it was the 21st-century Thomas Edison-crossed-with-Henry Ford: you can dream the future, make it real, and sell it to the whole world.

And I think for as much as the effusive hyperbole around the iPad launch was mocked, Steve meant every word of it when he said it was “magical and revolutionary.”  It was the Dynabook, in every way that mattered.  Alan Kay’s original vision, made real after almost forty years.  Steve chased that Dynabook from the earliest incarnation of the Macintosh, and you can easily make a case that in 2010, he caught it.

The man dreamed big.  We got to dream his dream with him.  Lucky us.


Fred Shuttlesworth is dead at 89.

The obituary in the Birmingham News – a paper that fifty years ago had very little kind to say about him – doesn’t even begin to cover the enormity of what the man undertook.  What the Reverend did in 1956, in starting the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, was to stand up to an entire society with segregation at its very roots and hold them before the eye of God’s judgement.  And he did it in the face of bricks, bombs, and a government and police force that was rotten to the core, and he did it for seven years before Dr. King ever showed up in Birmingham.

If you don’t know about Brother Shuttlesworth, Google him.  And then thank God for his life.


Well, we’re back to the prevailing model from years gone by – namely, if you bought your iPhone last year, there is not that much to tempt you; if your iPhone is two years old, run don’t walk.

The changes are mostly incremental – once again, the iPad processor makes its way into the iPhone (and once again, it is suspected, with even more RAM).  Once again, the megapixel and HD capacity of the cameras gets a bump to the next general tier.  Once again, battery life is slightly improved, and once again, there’s a single new big-ticket feature that’s hardware-dependent (true A-GPS in the 3G, video capture in the 3GS, Retina Display/FaceTime in the 4, and now Siri in the 4S).

If you’re still packing a 3GS, you should put in your order now.  If you have an iPhone 4…well, there are two things to wait for.  One: how will iOS 5 perform on the iPhone 4?  Given that it’s all we’ve had to test on to this point, one has to assume it’s broadly feasible (you’d want to be mad to run it on a 3GS; I know Apple is trying to preserve long-term viability but I suspect you’ll be sorry if you try to bump a two year old iPhone to the new hotness) but it’d be nice to see for sure, especially if Siri is so processor-intensive that it needs a 4S.  And two: is the whole thing really capable of both CDMA and GSM? Could you finally get a Verizon iPhone and take it abroad without a fight?  How will this work?  Will this work?

So far, it looks like I’ll be sticking with what I’ve got.  I reserve the right to change my mind, though, if the Verizon performance is so good (and the prospect of going to the UK/Ireland so high) that I can justify making the switch…

The punkass was convicted of being a punkass

Scott Beason (R-Jugtown) got called out by a farmer:

“After talking with famers at the tomato shed, Beason visited the Smith family’s farm. Leroy Smith, Chad Smith’s father, challenged the senator to pick a bucket full of tomatoes and experience the labor-intensive work.

Beason declined but promised to see what could be done to help farmers while still trying to keep illegal immigrants out of Alabama.

Smith threw down the bucket he offered Beason and said, “There, I figured it would be like that.”


Leroy, my man, your next beer is on me.