Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A manifesto I can believe in...

Why, oh why did no one draw my attention to this fine manifesto before the election? I would have voted for this...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Grauniad gets it right!

I recommend looking at this article, from the Grauniad Unlimited, which explains why Live Aid wasn't such a good thing. All the facts, and the right conclusions too: dear Christ, one would barely believe that it is, indeed, the Grauniad...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Inspiring who?

Edinburgh Council have come up with a new logo to market Edinburgh, the "Inspiring Capital" to the world.

The idea is that the logo will market our fair city to businesses and to tourists. In this way, it will halp to inject more money and investment into this fine city. To help with this aim, City of Edinburgh Council hired Interbrand, a London design agency, and paid them £800,000 to come up with a new logo and slogan for Edinburgh.

Here it is. Pretty inspiring, eh?

Let's leave aside whether or not it is any good (don't worry, we'll get to that in a second) and ask this question instead: if CEC wants to encourage more investment in Edinburgh, maybe they should have started with handing £800,000 to one of Edinburgh's creative agencies, rather than a London firm?

They have just earned the opprobrium of Scottish creatives, and probably of the ordinary Edinburgh people too ("Who are these Sassenach bastards to tell us how to market our city, eh?").

The other bonus is that, knowing and loving the city as those of us who live here do, Edinburgh designers might have come up with something as beautiful, historic and dynamic as the city itself.

The logo is not inspiring. Is it the Forth Bridge? Is it the Crags? Arthur's Seat? Even the designers don't know. They seem to have gone for the scattergun approach of claiming all and any major Edinburgh landmarks as inspiration. And blue? How exciting and dynamic is blue, really? Blue is a cold colour, a background colour.

As an extra joke, Interbrand forgot to gain the domain names that attach to the slogan "Inspiring Capital". See here for details. Ha!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Tony lies shock!

Now, if you were to click on this link to a Commons debate on 21 June 2004 and then click on the "See this speech in context link", you might see documented evidence of the Prime Minister lying. Oh, no, sorry, I do apologise: Tony doesn't lie. After all, it's still all to be decided, isn't it...?

Essentially, Our Glorious Leader says, explicity, that even if other countries veto the Consitution, Britain will have a referendum. Interestingly, if you scroll yet further, to here, then you can have a really good laugh as Tony says that all other countries in Europe are in favour of the Constitution and that, if Britain were to vote "No", that we would be the only ones. I laughed my arse off for fucking ages. (Almost as long as I laughed for when I found out that the "Make Poverty History" wristbands were manufactured in sweatshops paying less than the Chinese minimum wage.)

Other highlights of this little debate include Tony repeatedly dodging the question of whether economic policy will—under the Consititution—be subject to Qualified Majority Voting and Teddy Taylor pointing out that the EU has not had its accounts signed off by the auditors for about 8 years.

What he failed to point out, of course, is that we are breaking the EU's own anti-money laundering laws by paying money to an organisation lacking proper accounting procedures. You really, really couldn't make this shit up...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Waiter! There's an Intel in my Apple...

So Apple have decided to switch to Intel chips: is this a wise move?

Most commentators seem to have been caught out by this one, it has to be said. Most of the ones that I read either thought that it was complete rubbish, or that Intel would, in fact, start manufacturing PowerPC ships (the Apple/IBM/Motorola designed chips that replaced the older CPUs in Apple Macs in the early 90s).

The timing does seem slightly bizarre, it must be said. Multi-core PowerPC chips have finally arrived and the new XBox and Playstation machines are going to start using PowerPC chips (one justification for the idea that Intel would manufacture PowerPC chips).

It's also something of a climbdown for Apple, who have been—aided by AMD—lecturing us about the "megahertz myth" and how much more efficient, megahertz for megahertz, the G family chips were than Intel's Pentiums. So what has changed?

I watched Steve Jobs's keynote speech from the WorldWide Developers Conference this morning, and IBM's inability to deliver 3 GHz G5s, or a G5 efficient enough to run in a notebook seem to have been major factors. There also seem to be rumours that IBM was trying to get Apple to commit to a large volume of the multicore PowerPCs. Steve Jobs is well known for being slightly capricious—see Folklore.org for some amusing stories about the man—and IBM's inability to deliver what they said they would (why else would Jobs have promised 3 GHz machines unless IBM had told him it was possible) and (rumoured) attempts to tie Apple down, would be adequate reason for Jobs to look elsewhere.

Jobs talked about Intel's future chip "roadmap" being much better than that of the PowerPC's, and maybe this was the real reason for the switch. I would suggest that all of these points have been factors in the change.

It is also obvious that Apple have been incredibly wise in preparing for just such a scenario. According to Jobs, all of the variants of Mac OS X have been run and tested on Intel processors, as well as PowerPCs, since the very first release of the OS. Indeed, Jobs revealed half way through the presentation that the computer on which he had been demoing software was, in fact, an Intel machine (although we were unable to see it, so we don't know if it was a Pentium-equipped Mac, or a "standard" Pentium box).

Furthermore, developer CDs with XCode 2.1 (Apple's programming enviroment) that allow compiling for both Intel and PowerPC processors were ready at the WWDC for developers to take away. Apple have been working at this for some time, and they have obviously thought through all of the complications and consequences.

And what are these consequences? Well, afficionados such as me will be slightly horrified—although Steve's "reality distortion field" has partially cleared that up—and Apple will have to spend time explaining to them that, actually, the Pentiums are better than the PowerPCs, and that Apple has just been joking about the higher efficiency of the PowerPC for the last 10 years.

They are going to see a certain amount of the Osbourne Effect, i.e. that PowerMac sales will now drop, as people wait and hang on for the Intel machines. However, I suspect that Apple are prepard for this and, given that IBM's slow production of G5 chips has meant that fewer machines have been produced than needed, I suspect that Apple's inventory of PowerMacs is pretty small.

What will be interesting to see is if Apple contribute towards Intel's chip research in the way that they did in the old AIM grouping, and whether they use custom designed chips, or the usual Pentium 4. Because, this is the rub...

If the Mac OS runs on Intel machines, then surely people will be able to run the Mac OS on bog-standard "Wintel" boxes. This will remove a certain amount of demand for those that might buy Apple machines to do so. Also, why should existing customers pay over the odds for Apple hardware when they can run their favourite OS on a cheap Wintel box? Much of Apple's income is from the hardware that they sell, but I don't think that people are going to be willing to pay a 20% premium just because the Mac looks prettier. If it is the same on the inside as a Pentium box, what would be the advantage?

It may be that Apple simply doesn't care, and that its current strategy is just to increase its market share in terms of system use, rather than hardware. What then? Perhaps it will become the next big thing, and the Mac OS will start to replace Windows. One fears that this would be at the expense of its individuality, and I can see fewer and fewer "fanatics" flocking to the cause. This is probably a good thing, but one can't help thinking that the individuality of the Mac is being slowly eroded in the drive for greater market share.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Go Go Gadget Euronihilism!

I am now joining in with Tim Worstall's Euronihilist nomenclature. I think that it suits perfectly.

By the way, I must apologise for the lack of posting. I have been not only working may way around the blogosphere (and generally reading comments and opinions that are far more eloquent and better informed than mine), but also working like a maniac. Those of you who have ever started a small business (with no method of funding it) will, I am sure, sympathise with me here. Every day is a scrabble for money, and a lot of effort goes into reassuring your employees, too.

However, things are beginning to look up slightly: I have made some good contacts, money is starting–at last–to come in and I am faced with the possibility of not having to worry too much for the next three months or so. So it's time to get a network of people who are willing to sell for us. With no shopfront and no coherent strategy, we have been relying on those contracts that we already have, and a couple of people who are just not reliable. It is time for me to sort out what we are going to do and start going out and marketing us as a valuable company.

I have to admit that I've never given a thought to the company not succeeding, so I had better ensure that it does actually do so. Besides, as Jamie, my programmer, said: we've all invested too much in this company to just let it slide.

So, visit our site: feel free to email comments about ways to improve it, or leave them as comments on this blog. Or, if you feel that we can help you out, you know what to do.

I will also be making a return to blogging a big more regularly. Well, I say blogging: I mean ranting, of course...