Scripting News for 2/6/2007

Interesting essay by Steve Jobs on DRM. “If the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system?” 

Brother printer with HTTP server 

Based on a recommendation from Julian Milenbach, I bought a Brother HL-5250DN printer, and so far I’m quite happy with it. You can set it up to connect via USB 2.0, which I tried for a few days with good results, but it can also connect via Ethernet, which I’m using now, and that’s much more interesting. The cool thing which is becoming almost routine, is that it has a built-in HTTP server — and it works quite well. Weird thing, the printer has an email address. Not sure what this means. Can you mail jobs to it? Oy!

Mike Arrington was over to watch the SuperBowl on Sunday, and I demo’d my Denon receiver with its built-in HTTP server. Following up by email he encouraged me to write it up. It’s hard for me to write a feature story like the ones Mike does on TechCrunch, I prefer to write things as they occur to me, and so the story is here, but it’s in chunks spread out over days.

It’s hard to explain why it’s so exciting to be able to control a consumer device like a stereo through a web browser. I have explained it verbally, often to very technical people, but the only thing that makes the point is a demo. The idea of an HTTP server in a stereo sounds like a gimick, people say they get it but you can tell they don’t because they can’t put it all together to see that you could use a laptop (or a cell phone for that matter) to control the stereo. I think you have to live this stuff for years to see how exciting it is. But the really coooool thing is that there’s someone at DENON who sees it too, someone with the resources to get it into the product.

Every picture tells a story 

Yesterday, I showed some graphs produced by Google Analytics that tell a story about the readers of Scripting News. Perhaps I didn’t provide enough detail to support one conclusion I drew: We don’t get a lot of new readers here.

I know that for a couple of reasons, and it’s supported by Ian, who works at Coremetrics, a company that is in the business of analyzing web traffic.

1. Even though it shows that 46 percent of the traffic are first timers, that’s based on a four day sample, of which two days were weekend days. Traffic patterns change on the weekend, esp for a business oriented site like Scripting News.

2. I could compare it to the graphs for the XML-RPC site, which I also host, a relatively high flow site. Its traffic is almost entirely new people. It’s not a blog, it’s a reference site, with several popular specs that are widely pointed to.

Over time the graph for Scripting News will likely skew even more toward repeat business.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this, I’m just sharing something I’ve learned. I’ve deleted some personal comments about this, which are completely ridiculous. These no doubt are the people who edit my Wikipedia bio. :-)

Why I have a bio here 

One reason is to counteract the mischief of the idiots who keep defacing my bio on Wikipedia. :-)

Taking care of business 

Apple is a big successful company with lots of customers and lots of employees. Microsoft is also a big successful company with lots of employees.

The iPod is a publicly released product. Vista was in public beta for many months.

Yet, Apple is warning iPod users to not install Vista, which shipped last week, until they get a chance to adapt their software so that it doesn’t destroy the user’s music and podcasts.

From outward appearances it seems someone isn’t taking care of business, and it seems that’s Apple, since you didn’t need a special agreement with Microsoft to test software with Vista. Apple can hardly plead poverty, they make enormous amounts of profit from Windows iPod users. Further, it’s so typical of Apple to ding users of Windows, to use them as pawns in their psychic battle with Microsoft, which serves no one, except perhaps them. Putting the users in the middle is bad business.

Now, it could be that a bug surfaced in the final shipping version of Vista, one that wasn’t in earlier test versions, in which case it’s just a bug, and no one is to blame. If not, it seems someone screwed up. Lots of people, actualy.

15 responses to this post.

  1. In re: iTunes and Vista -
    Don’t you recall “DOS ain’t done til Lotus won’t run”? I’d say it is too soon to assess who is to blame for this snafu…
    -Aaron

    Reply

  2. It wouldn’t be the first time that Microsoft shipped a new version of the OS that caused problems with a competitors product.

    On the otherhand, I’m less than thrilled with the quality of iTunes. It takes forever to sync a few files on my iPod, and it often uses lots and lots of CPU.

    Reply

  3. Following up on Aaron’s comment, Gizmodo is reporting that Vista is not playing nice with MP3 players made by Samsung, Cowon, and iRiver, too.

    Gee, a company with a history of illegal anticompetitive practices releases a new product that does not work as expected with competitors products!

    Reply

  4. Dave, thought you might like to read this…Jobs/DRM…a new post by Jobs on the Apple site… http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

    Reply

  5. I think I disagree with your theory Dave, I’m betting he’s deflecting the Norwegian/Europe interoperability situation and putting it back to where it belongs, the music companies.
    Good move on Jobs part.

    Reply

  6. “Now, it could be that a bug surfaced in the final shipping version of Vista, one that wasn’t in earlier test versions”

    People where I work claim there are a number of such issues. (And the wife of one of them did QA for Microsoft, some version of Windows which didn’t ship until a third party app didn’t work.)

    Reply

  7. On the subject of new/return visitors:

    Dave, I can only speak on my own experience but I, like many I’m sure, am an avid reader of your RSS feed but rarely visit the site any more. And even my RSS traffic comes via Bloglines so you wouldn’t be able to tell me from any other Bloglines user.

    (As an aside, Bloglines currently reports that it has 8,340 people subscribed to your feed.)

    I have also configured Firefox to trash my cookies every time I close the browser and since my net connection is on a dynamic address its doubtful that you could tell if I was new or a repeat visitor.

    I know that’s perhaps not a typical scenario but I imagine a large portion of your audience is tech-savvy so its possible many of them do something similar.

    All I’m saying is: figures can lie :)

    Reply

  8. Simon I already figured that out, in yesterday’s post I said that since the feed is full content, none of this traffic is generated from people reading the feed.

    Reply

  9. I think that feed subscribers can generate some site traffic.
    One of my methods is scrolling through tons of items and seeing ones that are of special interest. I click on them to “hold” them in a new tab which is the HTML page.
    It’s kinda like a short term bookmark. So I contribute some site traffic to scripting news, even though I’m a subscriber.
    Also, when I have hundreds of items in my feed reader, there are times when I go directly to certain sites that I “need” to know what’s happening with.
    This is one site. Or it could be someone like Tom Morris or James Corbett. Or it could be PodTech.net.

    You are right. I have access to those feeds in my reader. I guess it’s just a about 3/4 of a second quicker to type ‘scr’ into the browser and hit return.

    Maybe I need a better feed reader, if that’s the case.

    Reply

  10. Also, though your site is different than most, feed subscribers generate traffic when they clcik through to leave a comment.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Jack Richins on February 6, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve been beta testing Vista since Beta 2 and I’ve seen the same iTunes errors all along. Interestingly, if I reboot, sometimes I’ll get lucky and my iPod will sync flawlessly and quickly. But usually it sync’s like I’m on USB1.0 and I’ll get sync errors. I’ve seen some speculation that the iPod drivers iTunes use don’t work with the memory layout randomization that Vista does, and that seems plausible to me given the random way it works then doesn’t work for me. At this point, whether Microsoft is to blame or Apple doesn’t matter. It’s broken, Microsoft isn’t planning on doing any more fixing so if Apple wants iPods to work with Vista, they have to do it. And it seems like Apple has to have known this since at least November.
    I think they just wanted to wait for the Apple TV update of iTunes to fix it all at once. I figure it was a gamble that they wouldn’t lose many customers for the few weeks Vista was out before Apple TV and they’d save themselves the expense of a release just fixing the problems with Vista. And they are probably right.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Steve on February 6, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    “Now, it could be that a bug surfaced in the final shipping version of Vista, one that wasn’t in earlier test versions, in which case it’s just a bug, and no one is to blame. If not, it seems someone screwed up. Lots of people, actualy.” Dave

    I don’t believe it, I’ve been running iTunes with RC1 and not so much as a hiccup,I have had problems with iTunes priyor to the present release,
    it was rather buggy and nothing from Apple about it , just an update several weeks later.

    “Apple can hardly plead poverty, they make enormous amounts of profit from Windows iPod users. Further, it’s so typical of Apple to ding users of Windows, to use them as pawns in their psychic battle with Microsoft, which serves no one, except perhaps them. Putting the users in the middle is bad business.” Dave

    In other words it’s buisness as usual for Apple, while I’ve adimired some of Apples products from time to time,it’s this constant Unwarranted and self created smugness and the strange cult of Steve Jobs personality that some Mac fans seemd to have addopted, that just keeps me from purchasing anything more than an iPod.

    Reply

  13. Posted by john on February 6, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Steve has a blog. Well a fake one…

    http://fakesteve.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  14. Posted by Zachary Hartley on February 6, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I just bought the Brother 5250DN a few weeks ago myself. What I love enough more than the built-in webserver is the duplexer. I still can’t believe the printer is only just over $200.

    Reply

  15. Re Jobs and the music companies . . . he won’t be able to blame the Europeans when the discussion turns to movies.

    Reply

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