So Robert Scoble, the bafflingly still employed — shit, you know what? I don’t even know what the bastard does. Is he a pitch man? He’s not selling anything, other than that grating laugh of his, which I’m honestly surprised hasn’t killed anyone yet. Have you heard it? It’s like the sound of a rabid water buffalo buggering you when it has a head cold, and your head is jammed inside a church bell and quasimodo is just hammering that son of a bitch like there’s no tomorrow. To be fair to Scoble, he’s not selling that suicide-assist of a laugh; he’s acting like Google and flooding the market with it, for free, possibly in some bizarre effort to reduce the market for sitting-in-a-running-car-in-your-garage suicides. Maybe he should be investigated for anti-trust violations, or have a baby with Fran Drescher that would have the capability to laugh once and end the world.
Anyway, it’s not that. He works for Rackspace, which is a hosting services company, and his entire day job seems to consist of talking to people who actually do work, then honestly taking credit for it. The smug little fucker actually said that since Flipboard, the pretty fun magazine-style newsreader app, started doing really well after he saw an early build and made a brilliant, totally unimaginable suggestion like “integrate it with Google Reader,” or some such thing, that he was responsible for its success. (He subsequently edited out of the blog post he wrote it in, which some might say was because he realized how it sounded, but I’d tended to attribute to his head being so far up his own ass that he poked up through his own neck hole, and saw daylight again) This is something that he actually thinks; he actually thinks that by making suggestions that are so obvious that the chipmunks who live in my front yard would make them — “Hey guys, I think you should make your product better!” — that he’s contributed to the project on a level that’s comparable with the engineers and developers who actually built it. This is staggering to me. Now that I think about it, I wonder if Microsoft’s “Windows 7 Was My Idea” campaign was all an elaborate inside joke, telling their former evangelist that he can go fuck himself.
Rackspace obviously thinks his videos, which aren’t at all laughably, with a host who doesn’t at all think that his commentary and fucking laugh are better than the comments of whomever he’s interviewing, are worth his salary, though I can’t imagine how. I mean, yes, he’s a startup evangelist — maybe? — who works for a hosting company, so theoretically when people starting their own startups start their own startups, they’ll get hosting with Rackspace because that guy with a laugh that makes me feel like I’ve just shoved a drill in my eyeball works for them? It’s pretty muddled.
One time on Twitter, I asked aloud why Rackspace felt Scoble’s paycheque was worth it to them, and Scoble himself responded to me, sending me a link to a discussion of “The Scoble Effect,” which is supposedly like The Digg Effect for startups, only sweatier and I want to punch it more. Unfortunately for Mr. Captain of Industry, he sent me a link to a blog article where the author concluded that there was no Scoble Effect, and that he really wasn’t worth his paycheque.
Sweet Lord, Scoble, I hope your kids weren’t home-schooled.
So, anyway, at some “500 Startups” thing, Loic Le Meur of Seesmic asked Scoble about $500K that Bill Gross offered him for a startup. Scoble turned it down, choosing to remain at Rackspace. This is Scoble’s Google+ post about it, where he says this:
I told him that I didn’t want to do the hard work of building a company. Raising money. Doing HR (hiring and firing). Keeping the books. All that.
That led to a conversation where he said “what if I do a lot of that for you?”
That led to a months-long internal conversation with me, my family, my coworkers, my bosses.
Today I turned down the money and told my bosses I’m in at Rackspace.
Why turn down an opportunity like this?
Because, well, I just didn’t have the passion for it. I was already being derailed from what I love to do because of it, which is helping entrepreneurs, not being one.
I call shenanigans on this. Hell, I’ll even call bullshit on it. Sure, Scoble probably didn’t want to do the hard work of building a company. But what would that company have been? What could that have been? Take away the steady paycheque that Rackspace provides, and Scoble’s an unemployed Youtuber with a miniscule audience. Scoble couldn’t be on his own; he needs a sugar daddy.
Also, Scoble loves helping entrepreneurs? That’s nice an all, but has he ever? Yes, he talks to them, but is he somehow the only way for word to get out for companies or their products now? Has the entire internet been rerouted through his ass? Scoble finds companies that have an amount of buzz — because if they didn’t, would Scoble himself even hear about them? — and then talk to the founders. And laugh on camera and make the founders’ ears bleed and baby Jesus cry. And then puts the videos up, which virtually no one watches them. Who’s being helped by this? Scoble’s ego? I’m sure it’s large enough to qualify as a distinct organism, but is his grey goo worth the sanctity of the entire planet?
Also, because I haven’t said his name enough this post: Scoble Scoble Scoble. Scoble? Scoble!
Scoble acts like the choice was between continuing to do what he loves at Rackspace, or do what he loves on his own, while also doing front office stuff. I say the choice was between him getting paid to whip out a portable video camera and chat with people who are actually making things, while sipping wine on the company dime in ridiculously nice places all over the world, or starting a company with zero hope of ever repaying the money because how the hell could he earn money doing what he does? Sure, there’s the Google Ad money for his videos, but with his viewership numbers, it’d only take him 481 years to repay the money.
Yes, I did the math.
Scoble’s basically like a trust-fund baby, rambling on about how great he is, and how valuable his presence is. People only talk about him because people talk about him, and everyone seems afraid to stop talking about him, as though something worse would happen than people no longer talking about him, as though there’d be some consequence to the entire tech world goddamn waking up and realizing, like in so many terrible sitcoms, that no, nobody knows who invited that weird guy standing in the corner, I thought you did, someone call security.
I’d make a joke about Scoble being the snake who eats himself, but I think we all know he’s not that flexible.
Glenn Beck is off the air soon, and will be launching his new online network, called GBTV, over at gbtv.com, because apparently he doesn’t know how to register a .tv domain. There’s a snippet of his radio show where he talks about his leaving television, saying it’s going to implode soon, because the young people don’t watch it anymore. This is probably news to the scads of young people who do, in fact, watch more television now than they ever have before.
That’s some great research, there, Glenn Beck.
He described GBTV as being a broadcast network unlike anything that’s ever existed before, because apparently the left-wing liberal conspiracy has kept him from ever hearing about podcasts, or podcast networks. Or maybe Leo Laporte, Dan Benjamin, and Jesse Thorn, among many, many others, are operating a goddamn fever dream.
I swear, Glenn Beck gives idiots a bad name.
So Gruber called Nokia’s new N9 phone a worthy rival to the iPhone. Then took a shot at the fact that it’s based off of Meego, not Windows Phone 7, because, hey, why not take a shot like that? I mean, it’s not like this phone was already goddamn built, and them not releasing it would mean a massive waste of money, which would be goddamn idiotic. Gruber’s implication — and I know I’ll get all his cheerleaders yelling at me for daring to know what he was implying, because nobody can possibly know that, even though they claim to — seems to be that the Microsoft/Windows Phone 7 deal was a bad idea, even though we’ve yet to see the fruits of that deal.
Now, time may prove that correct, I don’t know. What I do know is that right now, Gruber thinks the phone looks pretty sweet, and if you watch the promotional video, I think you’ll see why: they’ve done their best to make an Apple product video, right down to a nearly-bald designer talking about how wonderful a designed product is. In this case, Nokia SVP of Design Marko Ahtisaari says:
Every once in a while, a product comes along that changes our perception of how we use technology, and how natural it can feel.
Compare this to, say, Jony Ive’s description of the iPhone 4:
iPhone 4 is so much more than just another new product. I mean, this will have a lasting impact on the way that we actually connect with each other.
And his description of the iPad:
You know, it’s true, when something exceeds your ability to understand how it works, it sort of becomes magical. And that’s exactly what the iPad is.
So, apparently, all you need to do to get Gruber to say something looks great is to make their promotional materials seem like Apple materials. Protip: If you’re ever around Gruber when a bell goes off, mind the drool.
Over at patentlyapple.com, there’s talk of a new patent Apple has applied for what the site calls a “Breakthrough Platform Independent Word Processor,” one that could operate in the browser. This is the problem Apple wants to solve:
The recent proliferation of web browsers and computer networks has made it easy to display the same document on different computing platforms. However, inconsistencies in the way fonts are rendered across different computing platforms could cause the same document to be rendered differently for users of different computing platforms. More specifically, for a given font, the way in which metrics for various font features are interpreted, such as character height, width, leading and white space, can differ between computing platforms. These differences in interpretation could cause individual characters in a document to be rendered at different locations, which could ultimately cause the words in a document to be positioned differently between lines and pages on different computing platforms.
This inconsistent rendering could be a problem for people who are collaborating on a document. For example, if one collaborator points out an error on a specific line of a specific page, another collaborator viewing the same document on a different computing platform may have to first locate the error on a different line of a different page.
Hence, what is needed is a technique for providing consistent rendering for documents across different computer systems and computing platforms.
This is the solution:
Some embodiments presented in Apple’s patent application describe a system that typesets and renders a document in a platform-independent manner. During operation, the system first obtains the document, wherein the document includes text content and associated style information including one or more fonts. The system also generates platform-independent font metrics for the one or more fonts, wherein the platform-independent font metrics include information that could be used to determine the positions of individual characters in a rendering of the document. Next, the system uses the platform-independent font metrics to determine how the document is divided into line fragments and pages. Finally, the system uses the determined division while rendering the document, so that the division of the document into line fragments and pages is the same across different computing platforms.
Now, call me senile, but a consistent cross-platform experience is something that seems right up Flash’s alley. A swf on PC looks the same on a Mac, or Linux. They’ve been doing this for over a decade. But you’re probably thinking wait, Walt, you senile old bastard — I’m in your head — a consistent cross-browser experience that’s already built and already used by 99% of everyone online isn’t a word processor. True, it isn’t, but aside from the fact that Adobe purchased a product called Buzzword — a Flash-based wordprocessor — years ago and integrated it into Acrobat.com, there was also Virtual Ubiquity, which doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but did.
So, you know, prior art, and all that.
I love how moist Patently Apple is getting at the idea of this, talking about how Apple, if they put out a cross-platform word processor, will change the landscape again. Look, I’m no Apple hater, but they’re clearly trying to patent something that’s existed for several years.
Is Patently Apple going to get all excited at Apple’s upcoming plans to replace the horse and buggy with an automated, mechanical machine? I hear it’s going to be goddamn huge.
If you’ve got someone you need to insult, but you aren’t sure how, ask me how! Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll tell you how to give your nemesis a verbal butt-whupping.
After Gruber dismissed Ed Bott’s warning about Mac Malware as being “Crying Wolf,” Bott responds with a potential nuclear bomb: he’s got an interview with an AppleCare call center employee, who reports that Mac malware infections are going through the goddamn roof, and lets slip with an astonishing bombshell: if AppleCare employees help customers remove malware from their compromised systems, they could be fired.
I assume Gruber won’t respond for a few days, as he’ll need some time to learn how to be a journalist.
Gruber put up a post titled “Wolf!” the other day, wherein he quoted a bunch of folks, from 2004 onward, stating that Apple’s era of relative freedom from security threats would soon be over. The implication moptop’s going for is that people have been gleefully calling for the end of the Mac’s freedom for years, and been wrong, so they will continue to be wrong forever.
First, if you’ve read any of Gruber’s posting, him poking fun at someone else trying to rub a person’s nose in anything is ironic in the extreme; Daring Fireball is nothing if not an exercise in the cult member angrily trumpeting his superiority at having picked the one true faith. It’s an angry blog.
Second, Gruber’s wrong. Shockingly. SHOCKINGLY. Yes, the threat of Malware on Mac has been one that hasn’t, to date, materialized in a large way. But so what? The quotes he provides from these articles aren’t wrong; people ARE making more attempts to crack into the Mac as it gains popularity, and Malware IS becoming more of a threat for the thing. And Mac users DO act all superior about the fact that they don’t have to worry about viruses and other threats. And his own predictions about not just the continued marketshare increase for the Mac, but the continued decrease of marketshare and prominence of Windows means that now, more than ever, people will be using these mobile devices, and it’s not like these malware producers, whose livelihood is based on building malware for either themselves, or organized crime, are going to change their profession because iOS has such a wonderful polish to it.
The Mac isn’t some perfectly secure thing. Nor is Safari. Mac is easily hackable, and every year at the PwnToOwn contest, where hackers crack into browsers for money, Safari — used quite a lot on the Mac — is always the first to fall. And Safari’s on iOS. And is crackable. And Apple has sold 100 million of the devices. And hackers go where the money is. And Mac users are sold security as a benefit of the platform, meaning they’re less on the lookout for threats than PC users are.
Here’s the thing: Gruber is saying that these folks have been calling for the end of Mac safety for years and are wrong because they’ve been wrong so far. This is a logical fallacy, as past performance isn’t a guarantee of future performance, but what kind of Mac devotee — which is what Gruber is — can’t appreciate the value of being forward thinking? Gruber, like so many others, spent YEARS in the wilderness saying “The Mac is superior and one day, ONE DAY YOU WILL ALL SEE.” He’s spent a sizeable chunk of his life spreading that message, and is now able to say “SEE, I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG, YOU PC-LOVING TWATS!” How, exactly, is that different from security experts saying “The Mac is insecure and one day, ONE DAY YOU WILL ALL SEE?”
Is Gruber too drunk on imagined power to see his own inconsistencies?