Fascinating: Referring Links to This Blog (Psychohistory)

This is just a quick note on blogging, but it is just so much fun to see the list of referring URLs every day in WordPress.

WordPress tracks the list of most common source URLs for your readers, every day.  You can click them, and see how people found your blog.  Unlike the “search keywords” that people use to find your blog, these URLs are usually real articles or blogs themselves, and it can always be surprising how people are finding your site.

One day, I noticed that a common referring URL was Google Translate, English to Spanish.  That’s right, it seems that a number of people out there are reading my blog regularly, in Spanish.  How neat is that?

Here is a fun one from today.  The referring page led a lot of people to my article on Wii Damage, which has been very popular the past few months.


I don’t know what they are saying (I think it’s Dutch, but I’m not sure), but it seems to be leading a lot of people to my blog.

Another referral today… Google Translate, English to Arabic:


It’s amazing how global the web is.  I’m a little surprised that my post is worth translating, but there you go.

For those of you keeping score at home, my blog is now averaging 300-400 hits per day, a steady increase of almost 100% month to month.   More importantly, the traffic seems much more even these days, as my older posts seem to draw a steady stream of views daily.

And the number one search term leading people to my blog is still, after two months:

harry potter and the deathly hollows

Right now, it’s link number #5 on Google for that query.

The Apple TV Does Not Suck

Sorry, I had to add a quick post here about Apple TV.

I had lunch this weekend with some close friends, several of which have worked for Apple in the past. And I was surprised at how negative they were about the Apple TV.

First, check out this article on Seeking Alpha.  It looks like the Apple TV may be blowing away expectations already, with 100,000 sold.

Second, the Apple TV does not suck. Here’s why I’m excited about it:

  1. Tivo Home Media Option 2.0. It feels like Tivo stopped innovating with the home media option once it got into trouble with it’s future as a company and a product. Right out of the box, the Apple TV takes the best things that I love about the Tivo interface, and brings them to my iTunes content. Tivo handles my iTunes playlists & iPhoto libraries just fine, but Apple TV takes support to the next level with support for iTunes Store content and TV/Movies/Music Videos. High definition is a plus, although I’m still living in the stone age of 480p.
  2. Media Server Heavy, TV Interface Light. I think this is the right model. You want a big, brawny server with loads of storage, and a lightweight client with smart caching to receive content. I honestly see my house with an Apple TV on every set instead of a DVD player. I know the first TV that’s getting one is the one in the kitchen, where my young son is just destroying DVDs left and right. No need for that – he can just pick from a menu.
  3. Goodbye AVI. Hello, MP4. I’m very excited about MP4 files, ripped with the H.264 codec. High quality, smaller files. A 2 hour movie seems to fit in about 1 GB. My friend John was very caught up with the lack of AVI support, and maybe he knows something I don’t. But to me, this just sounds like complaints that the iPod doesn’t support WMA. My prediction – the lack of support of AVI is going to turn out to be bad for Microsoft, and not hurt Apple TV.

Now, there are plenty of features I’d like to see on the Apple TV. I’d like to see a concept of “libraries” of content, so I could make a library of kid-friendly content for my son. Maybe some sort of enforced filter or protection would be sufficient. I’m also worried about 802.11N scaling across my house, especially with multiple TVs going.

I’m also concerned with the grey areas around ripping DVDs, versus the clear availability and accessibility of ripping CDs. Normal people need to be able to convert their DVD libraries to digital content easily, the same way that iTunes lets people convert their CD libraries.

The wild card here is YouTube and other ventures. Depending on how much unique content avoids the MP4 format, the more inclusive Apple may have to be. With Google & Apple linked at the board level, however, don’t be surprised to see the Apple TV support YouTube at some point, in some form.

I still would love a way to automate the conversion of my recorded Tivo programming into iTunes content. What I really would like to see is a Tivo Series 3 where the hard drive in the box is really considered cache storage – the real file store would be my media server, and the Tivo would archive all recordings to the server when it wasn’t busy.

All sources would lead to the media server, my digital content receiver. And all paths out of the media server lead to devices like the iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV.

But if that vision doesn’t work, maybe I need to rethink my $100/month DirecTV bill.  Maybe with basic programming, I could save $40/month and put that money into acquiring content in other ways.

Apple TV is definitely a 1.0, but it does not suck. 😛

Microsoft Caught with a Bad Case of Mac OS Envy

There is a new blog on WordPress called Graceful Flavor, and they tend to focus on Apple news. They had a post yesterday that immediately caught my eye, entitled:

New Microsoft Email Shows Panic Over OS X Tiger Features

Now, everyone these days expects Microsoft to have iPod-envy, iTunes-envy, even iPhone-envy. But given that the OS wars were largely fought and won in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it’s a bit surprising to see a dominant giant like Microsoft caught with not only acknowledging the strengths of Mac OS X, but almost despairing at them.

A snippet here, from an email from Lenn Pryor, the former Director of Platform Evangelism:

Tonight I got on corpnet, hooked up Mail.app to my Exchange server and then downloaded all of my mail into the local file store. I did system wide queries against docs, contacts, apps, photos, music, and … my Microsoft email on a Mac. It was fucking amazing. It is like I just got a free pass to Longhorn land today.

What about this one?

Here’s my take on this:

  1. Big suprise, Mac OS X is a strong product.  Let’s face it – the dominance of Windows over Mac OS had everything to do with x86 and DOS compatibility, and very little to do with the overall design of the 100s of features that make up modern operating systems.    At minimum, it’s fair to say that Mac OS X is an extremely strong product in many areas, and it’s not surprising to see Microsoft clearly interested in learning from its competition.  I know that within Apple, we spent plenty of time discussing new and planned Microsoft features.
  2. Microsoft is a huge company, these quotes didn’t come from Bill Gates.  Is it really so shocking that there are Apple fans within Microsoft?  Come on.  It’s a huge company, and it’s not surprising that several people in middle management are Apple fans.  Sometimes your best people are the ones who can look outside your four walls and see the world differently.  I don’t know if these people are considered thought leaders or pariahs within Microsoft, but either way, these emails aren’t really surprising.
  3. The grass is always greener…  When I was at Apple, while most people were convinced of Apple’s superiority in design, innovation and approach, there was always an inherent sense of insecurity and envy of Microsoft’s ability to reach the broadest audience.  There was envy of their resources, their ability to fund money-losers for years on end in long term markets.  But this wasn’t unique to Apple.  Or Microsoft.  All companies who compete ferociously in technology develop an appreciation, which can quickly turn to envy, for the unique advantages of their competition.  The trick is to remember that strategy is about unique differentiation – what makes your company, your products, your services and your brand unique in the market.  Trying to match your competitors feature-for-feature is a death spiral towards commoditization and lack of identity.

No matter the bravado, I guarantee you that there are people at Apple writing memos about the inspiration they have gotten from Vista.  Sure, they’ll say, there’s a “better way” to do some of these things.  But they’ll have a note of envy for DirectX 10.  They’ll be jealous of how quickly third parties come in to fix holes in the Vista feature set.  And Mac OS 10.6 will likely end up stronger for it.