My Take on Amazon Kindle

Another year another eBook reader.   Ignoring the Kindle’s circa 1981 industrial design, here’s a simple experiment to explain why eBooks will never succeed:

  1. Make a list of the top 10 biggest geeks you know
  2. Make a list of the 10 people you know who own the most books

Create a Venn diagram of these lists.If the geeks don’t want their books digitized, who does?

Leopard Has Been a Bummer, Overall

So, anyone on the fence about upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard, just… don’t. I mean, it’s not as much a step backward as going from XP to Vista, but I’ve found very little in it that has improved my life. In fact, I’ve spent a whole lot of time figuring out how to hack away most of its changes:

  1. Removing the horrible translucent menu bar. Here’s how I did it.
  2. Getting rid of the ridiculous 3D dock. Here’s how I did it.
  3. Changing the folder icons to ones that are, well, distinguishable. Here’s a good set.
  4. Getting rid of the abysmal Stacks. Oops, can’t be done. But putting Aliases instead of folders in the dock can help. You don’t get the “show-as-menu-mouse-button-hold” thing, but at least you can avoid the stupid Fan and Grid views, and use a recognizable icon.

I also have never gotten my Aiport Disk drives to work quite right in Leopard, and Time Machine, the one compelling reason to upgrade, required a hack to work with my wireless drives.And just as a final note, the OS has literally lost its sheen. Sure, early versions of brushed metal were a bit tacky, but I really miss the faint pinstripes, metal textures and other subtle effects. The totally flat gray widows of Leopard are just… blah.I guess there’s some good back-end stuff going on in the Leopard kernel and whatnot but nothing that’s really changed MY life. And, of course, you can’t sell a $129 OS upgrade to regular folks without throwing in some new whizbang features. But I get the feeling that (aside from the brilliant Time Machine) Apple just focused on the back end for Leopard, and threw in some entirely rushed and thoughtless UI changes just to give folks the impression that they were buying an improved experience. I wouldn’t say that Emperor Leopard has no clothes, but they’re wearing out as quickly as a $20 acrylic sweater.

Windows Live Writer and the Big and Small

Microsoft has a major Web 2.0 PR problem. I’m an avid blogger and I had never heard of Windows Live Writer (which has been in Beta for over a year) until now. It’s out of Beta and I’m using it to write this very post, and I have to say, this is a killer “desktop” blogging tool. I’ve tried out several, and this is by far the best I’ve ever used. Do get it if you’re a Windows-using blogger.If this program were developed by a small “Web 2.0″ startup, the blogosphere would be all over it, raving and gushing. But it’s by Microsoft, so it’s gone practically unnoticed.Microsoft is a purveyor of big, expensive software like Windows and Office. Any time they release a small, inexpensive/free, but totally useful program (the very essence of Web 2.0), it just automatically feels like a “throwaway” app. I’m wondering how they can shake this sort of bias. Clearly creating the “Live” brand is a step in the right direction, but I think they have a way to go.Is Web 2.0 not only about what is developed but who develops it? Spend enough time in the blogosphere and you realize that the conversations around products are often as much about the creators as the products themselves. Cults of personality are built up around single developers or small teams, and people root for the success (or failure) of the product based on these perceptions. This generates significant buzz.Can a truly successful Web 2.0 app be made by a small anonymous team in a small division of a giant corporation? Just putting that out there… I don’t know the answer.