Cause that’s the ONLY possible reason…

Did ZDNet ever write well?

I ask that as a serious question because, over the past few years, it seems their columnists just write whatever drivel pops into their heads with absolutely no thought, logic or common sense associated. Is there no one who reads their dreck and calls bullshit on what they post?

The latest is from David Morgenstern in “Backroom only for Thunderbolt cables”, he talks about how difficult it is to find cabling for his Thunderbolt-capable devices. Perfectly fine topic of conversation although I don’t know of how much real value the article provides. It boils down to “It’s hard to find new technology and it’s expensive”. No shit, Sherlock.

He ends his (mostly useless) article with a story of going to an Apple Store to buy a Thunderbolt cable. He can’t find any on the shelves so he asks staff to assist:

He said they were likely in “the back.” Another round of internal discussions ensued until the shrink-wrapped cable was finally brought out. $49. Could it be that these easy-to-shoplift cables are so valuable (or rare) that they must be left in the back room? Or is it that there are few sales of the cables and they don’t warrant a spot on the shelves? Could be both reasons.

REALLY? That’s the best you could come up with? If you had the common sense God gave rocks, you could have looked around the STORE YOU WERE IN to see if anything with a greater value than the $49 cable you were buying was on the shelves. Because….you know…that would be a data point for your idiotic shoplifting theory….

But you didn’t. Instead, you wrote your little screed and showed the world that, once again, common sense and logic are slowly dying…

Disingenuous? Moi?

After the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple, they took two days to come up with the statement sent to the media. They should have taken a few more shots at it.

Apple’s spokesman Tom Neumayr:

The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.

I hope Neumayr was holding his nose when he wrote that. While it is true to a point, there’s no denying prices have gone up for consumers because of Apple and the other publishers breaking Amazon’s “monopolistic grip”.

Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging.

Irrelevant.

Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.

Again, true to a point but ignores the fact it allows, and Apple has actively encouraged, much higher prices for ebooks.

Don’t get me wrong – both issues, Amazon’s (potential) monopoly abuse and Apple’s participation in “agency pricing” – are of concern to any number of constituents. But Apple should not be allowed to hide behind the “we’re only thinking of the consumer” bullshit.

“Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Met With Valve” (we actually have no idea…)

Cult of Mac is low hanging fruit for misanthropes. If you’re ever feeling too up and happy, simply go to their web site and some egregious example of bad journalism, awful writing, muddle headed thinking and just plain rampant stupidity will jump up and send you into a murderous rage which, quite frankly, some of us deal with better than relentless perkiness. Today is no different.

With a headline of “Why Apple CEO Tim Cook Met With Valve [Exclusive]“, you smack your lips in anticipation of yet another dumb CoM article full of bad information and poor writing. It doesn’t disappoint.

Let’s start with the “[Exclusive]” in the headline. Really? As you wander around the web, make note of which sites use that in their headlines. It’s a pretty accurate pointer to a web site that is trying to be more important than it deserves to be, has an inferiority complex and is trying way too hard to get noticed by Techmeme.

An unconfirmed report surfaced yesterday saying that Apple CEO Tim Cook was spotted at Valve’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. Whenever Cook is spotted out and about, people take notice. The CEO of the world’s most valuable company doesn’t personally visit other tech companies to simply have a chat.

Maybe Cook was just asking for directions. I’ve been to Bellevue – it’s kinda confusing to drive around. And the only people who “take notice” when Cook is spotted in the wild is the media. Average people couldn’t give a rat’s ass but the media seems to take every sighting as if it were a rare white rhino somehow spotted roaming the vast plains of Palo Alto.

And how the hell does CoM know that Cook doesn’t just pop in to other companies to have a chat? Jobs did it all the time. As a matter of fact, I once spotted him in the Turkish Baths in Vancouver, BC – a story he swore me to secrecy until after his death….

But CoM knows because they have “sources” – obviously, highly connected ones that know the intimate details of this very secret project and the details of what Cook discussed with the people at Valve. So – what was discussed?

According to sources to Cult of Mac, Apple is working on a television set with an iTunes-integrated touch screen remote and Siri-like voice command technology. The TV set will be coming before the end of 2012. Our sources also say that Apple’s television set will come with an Apple-branded, Kinect-like video game console. The interface will rely heavily on motion and touch controls.

Are you kidding me? All that buildup just to trot out the same old rumor? CoM sources just repeat what every other “source” at every other web site has said. Repeating the obvious doesn’t make you a source – it makes you a parrot.

But, as always, there’s a kicker. The second to last paragraph has this line:

We don’t know the exact details of why Tim Cook met with Valve…

Wait….WHAT? Talk about burying the lede! So, when your headline said, “Why Cook met with Valve”, you were just pulling our leg, right? The headline you actually wanted to write was, “We have no Clue why Cook met with Valve (or frankly, much of a clue about anything) but We thought We’d gin up a Sexy Headline, Mix in some Old Crock of Shit Rumors, toss in a Dash of History and Voila! Serve Our Readers a Shit Sandwich with Light Mayo….”

That’s the headline they should have written.

“Could” it have happened or *did* it happen?

One of the beauties of the internet is fact checking. It’s made even easier when the people you are fact checking don’t bother to check their own facts.

Alex Heath of Cult of Mac posts this today:

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell recently addressed the rumor that Apple CEO Tim Cook visited his company last week. Newell flat out denied the rumor, originally published by AppleInsider, that Tim Cook visited Valve HQ.Cult of Mac originally added to the rumor by saying that Apple could have been meeting with Valve because Apple is working on its own type of gaming console for the living room, and was potentially looking for partnering with Valve.

All true – except where it’s not.

In a story written by….huh….look at that….Alex Heath…he says:

We’ve gotten word that Cook was indeed at Valve yesterday…

Here’s an idea, Heath. When you are demonstrably proven wrong, apologize for your mistake and make amends. Don’t make it worse by writing another story basically making the same claims as the first one.

Oh wait…you quote your sources in both stories. So you’re doubling down on The Stupid.

Spilling the Beans – Norton Identity Safe now available

In my day job, I get a lot of press releases announcing everything from the latest cool new products to dumb stuff like “we updated our web site with pretty new graphics!” The vast majority of them are of little interest but occasionally, a gem pops up that has to be commented on.

For those of you unfamiliar, companies will sometimes have embargoes – where they tell the media about their products days or weeks in advance but ask the media to not reveal the details until a particular date and time. You see it often with products from Apple. Ever notice how The Usual Suspects all get their Apple product reviews posted at almost the exact same time? It’s because Apple has contacted them and said, “We’ll let you use our latest toys but you can’t tell anyone about it until this date/time”.

The key is the method I described – the company contacts the journalist and asks if they would like to be involved but constrained by certain ground rules. This allows the journalist to decide whether or not to participate. But what happens when you have a company that sends you a press release with all the details and then tries to put you under embargo, without you ever having agreed to it? This…

Tomorrow [Tuesday], Norton will announce a new, free, secure password manager – Norton Identity Safe – that works on Macs and iOS.According to a recent survey by Norton, 70 percent of people have forgotten at least one of their passwords in the past month – not surprising, when you consider how many passwords we all have to remember on a daily basis, whether on our home computers, laptops or mobile phones. In fact, when given a choice of several challenging tasks, 40 percent of people indicate remembering all of their passwords is among the top three most difficult – more than those who selected balancing their checkbook.

As a result, people often resort to using weak passwords based on their pets’ or family members’ names or using the same password across multiple sites, leaving them at risk of identity theft and loss of personal information when a hacker cracks one obvious password and gains access to all of their online accounts.

Others keep a physical list of passwords at home – not much use for the 48 percent of people who access online accounts on the go from their mobile device.

The Norton PR person sending out the email then writes, “Below are the press release and screenshots of the product, under embargo until Tuesday, April 24 at 8 a.m. ET/ 5 a.m. PT.”

I never agreed to be embargoed. I have no prior relationship with Norton or this PR person. They never contacted me by phone, email, Twitter, smoke signals….From my point of view, I am under no obligation to “keep their secret”.

You can get this new product, for free, at Norton’s web site.

But contrary to their own press release, it doesn’t seem to be available for the Mac OS yet.

9to5Mac/Gizmodo – Douchenozzles again…

I follow Dan Frakes of Macworld on Twitter. This morning, he RTed this from Marco Tabini:

I’m sure the original author of the article will be grateful for the link back.

(I deleted the link included in the original tweet – you’ll understand the reason why momentarily)

I followed the bread crumbs to the often criticized (by me, at least) 9to5Mac site to an article called “How to unlock an iPhone 4S in 12 easy steps” (again, no link intentional). I read the article, not understanding what Tabini was talking about until I got to the end and see “(via Gizmodo and Singularity)”.

I click on the Gizmodo link and see the same 12 steps and a link to the same Singularity site. Turns out, this is the site Tabini was referring to.

Both 9to5Mac and Gizmodo simply lifted the ”12 easy steps” from the other web site – almost verbatim.

Both of those sites will undoubtedly say, “We included a link to the original!” They did – after they took all the relevant content and made going to the original article completely unnecessary. Both sites also left it until the very end of the “article” to give credit where it was rightfully due.

This is a disturbing trend of a lot of sites - 9to5Mac and Gizmodo are just the latest sleazy examples. I’m sure both of those sites wouldn’t and aren’t happy when their content gets lifted by others – but are more than happy to do it themselves.

Why Instagram cheats the Viewer (no – it doesn’t)

In a piece at CNN, Nick Stern opines on “Why Instagram photos cheat the viewer“. It’s an interesting piece if only for the blinders the author has clamped down over his head.

He bemoans the rise of what he calls ”news images” – ones that have been altered in any number of ways, primarily through apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram. But as a professional news photographer, he should know better. Any reputable news organization does not allow that kind of manipulation to images. So his complaint is a straw man from the very start.

But his specific complain is this:

The app photographer hasn’t spent years learning his or her trade, imagining the scene, waiting for the light to fall just right, swapping lenses and switching angles. They haven’t spent hours in the dark room, leaning over trays of noxious chemicals until the early hours of the morning.

And he’s right. Technology, in any number of ways, has made many skills and talents moot. But it doesn’t mean if you don’t use those skills, you can’t/shouldn’t be taken seriously as a photographer.

I say his blinders are on because, look at what he’s doing – he’s writing on a web site. Did he hand code the page? Did he lovingly write out the HTML required to get that font just that size or that photo in just the right place? No – he used any number of tools to make the process easier for him.

He hypocritically complains about people doing exactly the same thing he’s doing – using technology to make communication easier.

I don’t consider him less of a writer because he didn’t hand code the article and he shouldn’t consider those taking good, newsworthy photos with iPhones any less of a photographer than he is. It’s not about the tools, it’s about your skills and abilities and how you use them.

Use your spellchecker or look like an idiot

Great article at Jalopnik - Meet The 14-Year-Old Girl Building A Car For Her Sweet Sixteen - ruined by the utter lack of copy editing.

Kathryn made a compelling argument, bought an old beather Fiero and dove right in…Kathryn’s gone from simple sanding and spray painting to sand blasting, welding, upholstry work and everything else…

Okay wielding looks terrifiying …

Great to see younger people intrested in working on cars…

she decided to sit out sping soccer…

Kathryn has also become aquainted with her ride…

Holy shit….USE A SPELLCHECKER, NUMB NUTS!

Why my next Tablet will run Windows 8 (Good. Stop writing about the iPad)

We are going to see a lot of these kinds of articles in the coming weeks and months. I encourage you to read them with an open mind and attempt to understand what the writer is trying to get at.

Just don’t start with this article from Tech.pinions.

Android and iOS tablets do a yeoman’s job when it comes to consuming content, but lack the software tools and hardware features needed to create content.

Garageband, iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Keynote…Those are all from Apple. There are hundreds of others from dozens of other vendors – all very capable of creating content in all kinds of ways.

He doubles down with:

“Content Creation” as I use the term applies to a broad range of activities that includes tasks as varied as a student taking notes, a worker recording and distributing meeting notes, a club secretary assembling and distributing newsletters, a teenager spiffing up the audio from a band performance, a webmaster updating a website, and a mother preparing her annual Christmas letter.

Ah! That’s how he defines it. OK. Fair enough. HE’S STILL COLOSSALLY WRONG.

It’s OK to critique the iPad for any number of reasons. But try not to do it in ways that make you look, at the very least, uninformed and at the worse, setting up a straw man argument to make your premise look better.