The MacHole

The Obligatory Super Hole VIII – The Uppity Armchair CD Edition
— 12:57 PM on February 3, 2014

Jason Fox, our resident Mac blogger, spends his days in the advertising business, and he has a tradition of rating the Superbowl commercials each year. We've made a tradition of running his post here at TR, because why not? Read on to see what a true professional thinks of this year's crop of Superbowl ads.

Oh, and please forgive the slow page loading. Pulling up a bunch of embedded YouTube videos ain't easy.

Welcome to the eighth annual edition of a futile exercise I call The Super Hole. This year, unlike Super Holes VI and VII, I'll return to passing out letter grades along with proffering tidbits on how the spots could've been better. Granted, I could take the easy way out for all of them and just say, "Step 1: Hire me. Step 2: Leave me alone. Step 3: Drink in the genius." But that would be rude. Very rude. Besides, some of these spots are actually quite good.

As usual: I only review ads shown during the four quarters of the game, so no pre- or post-game spots (although a couple sneak in). And no movie trailers, TV show promos, NFL ads or local ads.

Spots are arranged in alphabetical order according to brand. If I missed a couple, try one of the 8.3 million other blogs writing about this today.

And if you helped make one of the ads that I ream, take solace in the fact that you worked on a Super Bowl ad. I worked on a blog about Super Bowl ads.

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Audi, "Doberhuahua" – I love this spot, so I'll just pick some nits. The banter between the dog show commentators could've been funnier, in the vein of "Best in Show." I'm sure Fred Willard would've been available. The dog park scene could've used a smaller moment, perhaps between the doberhuahua and a bulldog. As it is, the "save yourselves" line feels forced. Don't quite believe the end of the fantasy where the doberhuahuas overrun the city, but whatever. Best scenes: Big Wheel kid and Sarah McLachlan spoofing her old PSAs. A-

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AXE Peace Bodyspray, "Call to Arms" – On the one hand, this spot is better than last year's "Astronaut." On the other, it's nice to see AXE take a step away from the "use this and get lucky" motif. On the other other hand, the first other hand is actually not true when you think about it. The overriding message of this spot is that getting a piece equals getting peace. Umm, no. And who, exactly, is the target for a classier AXE? Exactly. I'm guessing that's why that Kiefer Sutherland "Susan Glenn" spot from a couple years ago didn't lead to more. But what do I know? I was lonely in my youth. B-

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Bank of America, "U2" – A new song by U2. An opportunity to download it for free and help stem HIV infection in babies. Really, the only thing wrong about this spot is that it wasn't 15 minutes long and called The Pepsi Presents Pepsi Sponsoring the Pepsi-Cola Halftime Show. Man, I miss 2002. Sucking up to the band with an A

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Beats Audio, "Goldilocks" – This spot launches the new streaming service from Beats Audio. And while the production is a slick twist on Goldilocks, and Ellen Degeneres is her affably goofy self, I still have no idea why I should spend $15 a month for this service. Nor does the spot really invite me to find out that info for myself. In a world of Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio and a host of other streaming services, you better have something unique to bring to the party. Maybe Beats does, but this spot doesn't show it. C+

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Bud Light, "Ian Up for Whatever" – This spot officially launches Bud Light's new tag line "The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens." And while all the things that happen to Ian (I'm guess his last name in Grunberg, as in brother of Greg) in the spot are, well, nice for Ian, they don't seem terribly extreme or random enough for the "whatever happens" category. There's just no intrigue here. Everything is good and nothing is terribly unexpected. There's no tension to be resolved. And tension is the heart of any story, even happy ones. If this spot had gone off the deep end a little more (Ride the llama!) and kept Ian Greg a little more off-kilter, this spot could've had real repeat value instead of just being pleasant to watch once. I mean, you have Arnold Schwarzenegger channeling Bjorn Borg, Don Cheadle with a llama, Reggie Watts and Minka Kelly and the best you can do is end up at a OneRepublic concert? I like "Counting Stars," too, but I'd rather end up across the country with a tattoo I don't remember getting. Or is that more of a Busch Lite thing? B-

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Budweiser, "A Hero's Welcome" – I don't care what brand you are: If you use a soldier returning home in a way that doesn't feel scripted or contrived or opportunistic (even if it is), most people are going to get goose bumps and go along. I did. Yeah, I know, I know. Sue me. A-

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Budweiser, "Puppy Love" – Budweiser long ago reached the point where they don't even have to talk about their beer (which is probably for the best) and can, instead, evoke pure "brand affiliation" goodness. Usually, the means busting out at least one Clydesdales-themed spot during the Super Bowl. This entry into the canon is marred only by the song choice. Granted, I've never cared for this song, but even if I did I'd consider it a poor fit. The spot is about best buds (if the hashtag at the end is to be believed), but the song is obviously a ode to romantic love lost. I realize it's not easy finding a song about friendship instead of love, but I'm not sure the creators would have had to go that far. Just something that feels more appropriate than trendy is all. But at least they didn't have Dog Lady and Horse Man fall in love at the end. Even though we all know that's totally what happened. In which case, the song is really about them. Sweet Moses, I just blew my own mind. B

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Butterfinger, "Therapy" – And what does it say about me that I instantly recognized the therapist from the early-90s Fox sitcom "Herman's Head" which also co-starred the voice of Lisa Simpson, Yeardley Smith? Jeezo, I'm weird. The spot itself, however, actually made me want to not sample the candy. Which is saying something. C

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CarMax, "Slow Clap – Human Version" – While the spot has some nice details—Sean Astin popping up as his character from "Rudy" might be the best—most of the spot is just a slow build to nothing. The point of a slow clap is that it is either sarcastic, or it builds to a full ovation and celebration of a finally triumphant underdog. Neither happens here. Why are people slow clapping? Is the protagonist such a backwards boob that managing to get a decent deal on a used car counts as one of life's great victories? Is he such a psychopath that the townsfolk humor his every action with clapping? Why do they all look so bored? What in this spot would make me consider going to CarMax? Jackola, that's what. Assuming we keep with the slow clapping as our central theme (just to avoid the kneejerk "start over"), I'd just open on the scenes of the clappers with them commenting to one another about Car Guy's negotiating prowess, great taste, ability to beat Kasparov at chess, etc. before cutting to a flashback at the CarMax. CarMax makes him seem smarter, wiser, sexier(?) than he is. Yeah, it's still not great, but it could at least make a bit of sense. Keep Rudy, though. Hobbits gotta work. C-

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CarMax, "Slow Clap – Puppy Version" – They say the test of a great song is how it sounds with just a voice and an acoustic guitar. And they say the test of a great spot is how it plays when human actors are replaced with dogs. They are drunk. C

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Cheerios, "Gracie" – Cheerios returns with a sequel to a "controversial" spot from last year that featured a biracial couple and their young daughter. This sequel finds the family subtly acknowledging the internet trolls and then moving on to more important matters. It's beautifully written—an example of what "conversational dialog" really is and something so many spots fail at. And the acting is sublime, especially the little girl's. Now if only Cheerios would add some protein to the mix so I wouldn't be hungry 15 minutes after eating a bowl. And by protein I mean bacon. A-

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Chevrolet, "Life" – It's not easy doing a spot with real pathos. This piece, in support of World Cancer Day, nailed it. And nailed it square. Minor ding for not much replay value. Very minor. A-

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Chevrolet, "Romance (Silverado)" – The story is cute and nice spin on Chevy's recent "A man/woman and a truck" campaign. But there's absolutely nothing about the truck. And when your truck ad will be inevitably compared to last year's "God Made a Farmer" spot for Ram, well, you might want to step it up a bit. Also, a more current and/or ironic song than "You Sexy Thing" would've been nice. I've started a petition to ban that song from advertising for all eternity. B

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Chobani Yogurt, "Ransacked" – Bear? Good. Connection to natural ingredients? Tenuous. Joke of bear pausing to ring bell for assistance? Meh. Frankly, if you're going to go the bear route (and again, to avoid just tossing the concept, we'll go with that), this sort of spot yearns for a talking bear. Even if it's just a guy in a suit. He comes in, freaks people out, bad mouths the other snacks, then opts for the Chobani. What? You need an example? Okay, here. [Warning: Angry Squirrel] C+

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Chrysler, "Bob Dylan" – Dylan gives an interesting soliloquy, and the footage is great, but why does Chrysler keep trying to push the 200 down our throats as the ultimate expression of American automotive know-how? This should be a pure brand spot, not one for a particular model. Unless it was for Chevy and it was a Corvette. B

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Coca-Cola, "Going All the Way" – Hmmm. As always from Coke, great production values and direction. Just don't know what about this spot deserved a full 60 seconds. So the kid runs off the field all the way to Lambeau. I kept expecting him to morph into Adrian Peterson or something. Instead, we get a Mean Joe Green Lite Moment. And the kid doesn't feel like much of an underdog aside from his size and one comment from a teammate about "don't mess this up again." Needed a bigger setup and payoff. Maybe more fancy footwork razzamatazz or the aforementioned pro-player morph. Something guys. C'mon. You gave us Happiness Factory. Pick it up. B-

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Coca-Cola, "It's Beautiful" – Sorry. I know what Coke's going for in this spot, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm glad so many people want to come to America. I'm glad almost all of them bring delicious food for me to try. But a multi-culti montage of "America" in multiple languages doesn't exactly make me feel the love. B-

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Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt, "The Spill" – First, does anyone find yogurt sexy? Second, even when combined with The Stamos? Third, do we need a trouser-related reference in a Super Bowl spot? Fourth, isn't this the same spot they ran last year, but with Danny Tanner and Alanis Morissette's ex added to the mix? Fifth, dude, c'mon. If you're going to use the guys from "Full House" to pimp yogurt, the best you can probably do is have the three guys sitting around talking about how weird it is they're all sitting around eating yogurt together while the Olsens are off counting their billions. But at least the spot didn't promise to help me poo. D+

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Doritos, "Finger Cleaner" – Once again, Doritos has convinced production companies across the land to make hundreds of spots for them. While the results have been quite uneven in the past (and I'm being kind), this spot is actually pretty decent. It veers a bit into Skittles territory in its celebration of absurdity, but thank Ogilvy it doesn't rely on clichés and bad acting like so many Crash the Super Bowl entries do. The only part that rings false is the line "You ask too many questions, Billy" as it implies something menacing. That character should have embraced his ignorance of the situation—who cares how it works, it just does! Also, curly hair is not to be laughed at. So saith the J-Fro. B

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Doritos, "Time Machine" – Hey, look, a middle-aged dude in a hoodie who gets fooled by a kid and a cardboard box. Is this Dorito's target market? My head says yes, but the bag of Cool Ranch in our pantry says no. I own no hoodie. C-

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Ford, "Nearly Double" – The message came through loud and clear, so that's something. But special effects and tigers don't equal interesting. And frankly, I'd rather watch Rob Riggle than James Franco. B-

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GoDaddy, "Bodybuilder" – So confused. For the first time in years, I'm actually commenting on a GoDaddy spot instead of silently and ineffectually protesting its advertising's raunchicity. This spot would've worked even without the creepily buff Danica Patrick. It's not the most original execution (a play off old Yellow Pages spots of "advertise with us and the hordes will come"), but it is well executed. I would've made all the body builders pasty, though. Pastiness is always a plus. That's what I told my wife when we were dating. B

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GoDaddy, "Puppet Master" – While better than the GoDaddy fare of the past, you would think a spot with John Turturro and a woman quitting her job in front of 100 million people would be a little more exciting. Even the puppets were a let down. I mean, really. Boring puppets? Sacrilege. B-

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GoPro, "Red Bull Stratos" – Hey, guys, remember when that Austrian dude jumped out of a space balloon and, like, broke speed of mach barrier or something? Yeah, that was cool. In 2012. C-

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H&M, "Beckham" – A non-payoff to a tepid teaser campaign, this homage to Sir Beck's abs could have used some real element of (yes, faux) danger instead of the, gasp, drama of getting locked out of a photo shoot. Also, who doesn't notice their underwear getting ripped off? Is the man just that used to that happening that he really ignores the tugging and the breeze? Oy. C-

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Heinz Ketchup, "Hum" – For the first time in 16 years, Heinz Ketchup returns to the Super Bowl. Should've waited another year. The spot itself isn't horrible by any means, although the ending gag with grandma falls very, very flat, it's the strategy that lets the brand down. "Where there's happy it has to be Heinz." Seriously? Happiness is a tomato-based condiment imbued with a dollop or ten of HFCS? I love me some ketchup as much as the next Midwesterner, but come on. I thought advertising had moved past this sort of thing. Yes, the product itself may conjure up thoughts of baseball games, family reunions, picnics and float trips, but no one attributes the fun of those experiences to ketchup. It's a tagalong. And maybe, just maybe, that's what should been played up. It could still be fun and lighthearted without veering into ironic detachment. And it would actually ring true. Which, you know, is kind of important. C+

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Honda, "#hugfest" – People will watch Bruce Willis. People will listen to Bruce Willis. But will they remember anything about this ad 60 seconds from now? Fans of "Portlandia" notwithstanding? B-

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Hyundai, "Dad's Sixth Sense" – Awesome. Great idea, great CGI, great vignettes. All based in the truth of being a dad (trust me, non-papas). Even nailed the little things like the teen's voice being deep instead of going with a clichéd, pubescent squeal. Also glad the dad didn't come off like Phil Dunphy, as much as like Ty Burrell. A

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Hyundai, "Nice" – Why is "The Big Bang Theory" star Johnny Galecki driving an entry-level Hyundai? Has he really burned through all his BBT and "Roseanne" cash? Ignoring this puzzler, the spot is okay. It's fun and well produced, but doesn't make a whole lot of sense even in fantasyland. Although I guess the real question is, with her ability to speak things into existence, why isn't that woman flying an invisible jet? To improve this concept, Johnny should have the same powers, resulting in a battle of the witty-cum-physical retorts. Possibly ending with Richard Lewis on fire. B

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Intuit, "GoldieBlox" – It's hard to judge this spot impartially when you know the backstory of GoldieBlox jacking a Beastie Boys song and then pre-emptively suing the remaining Boys to use it under the pretense of parody speech. (Here's a hint: Real commercials are never considered parodies.) This spot, created by RPA, is pretty good, but I just can't get that taste of theft out of my mouth. Also, "Cum On Feel the Noize" should not ever be associated with children. Jeezo. C+

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Jaguar, "The Rendezvous" – This should have been awesome. A spot based on the question "Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood movies all the villains are played by Brits?" There are all sorts of ways to answer this question with all manner of past Brit villains making appearances. Instead, we get Sir Ben Kingsley dressing for cocktails, Tom "Loki" Hiddleston shuttling about in a chopper like the guy in those old Scottrade ads, and some dude I don't recognize. All reciting a script that was obviously written for a 30-second spot but stretched in a 60. And it shows. Badly. This is a spot that demanded more cash and even more charisma. The leads are wasted, there's not enough evil afoot, and the opening question actually isn't a true question—it's a rhetorical one. Which means everything that comes after isn't an answer so much as an example. Instead, the question should be WHY are villains always Brits, and the answer is because that lets them drive cool Jags. Throw in eight times the amount of villainy showed and you're done. You're welcome. C+

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Kia, "Morpheus" – If I didn't know anything about Kia's new K900 (and I do because I'm into such motorized things), this spot would not provide any reason to search out information. For something that's supposed to make us "never look at luxury the same way again," the product looks an awful lot like other luxury cars. Which wouldn't be so bad if, you know, Mr. Fishburne hadn't raised the issue. And as much as I love The Fish busting out a pitch pipe, I'm going to have to recommend scrapping the tie-in to a 15-year-old movie. That's right, "The Matrix" is 15 years old, people. Whoa. C+

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M&M's, "Delivery" – M&M's have a history of fairly strong Super Bowl spots. This brings down their average. A Russian(?) oligarch talking into a trunk is not the stuff of legend outside a Tarantino movie. C+

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Maserati "Now We Strike" – A manifest spot on the Super Bowl? No way, Garth. The verbiage may have been stirring, but I was so distracted by the disconnected visuals that I didn't pay close enough attention. Maserati, you are Italian. In a good way. Act like it. And not like "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Still want the car, though. B-

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MetLife, "National Anthem with Peanuts" – I cannot lie. I've loved Charlie Brown and the gang since I remember memories. Sure, I had flings with "Calvin & Hobbes," "Bloom County," "The Far Side," and, most recently, "Get Fuzzy," but I doubt any of those would have existed in the forms they did with the little round-headed kid leading the way. Naturally, I'm prone to like a spot featuring Snoopy, et al. But MetLife has licensed these characters for decades now, to varying degrees of effectiveness. This time, they got it right. A small(ish), patriotic, reflective moment just moments before the most bombastic sports and media event kicks off. And whoever did the animation work did a great job incorporating the 2D characters into the real world along with the lighting effects. To all involved, I can only offer a hearty wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah. B+

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Microsoft, "Empowering" – There's nothing inherently wrong about this attempt at uplift by the folks in Redmond, except that there's nothing inherently great. The individual pieces are all worthy, but another montage about how technology makes our lives better just doesn't inspire like once did. Keeping the spot focused on the narrator could have produced a more powerful message. B-

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Old Spice, "Meeting" – For a brand that has spent the last several years producing work famous for cramming in as many jokes, bits, homages and meta-everything as possible, this spot feels a little tame. I like the weird hair, of course, which was well produced. And I can appreciate the more subtle approach taken than that of, say, Axe. But it felt like a long way to go for the punch line. I just wanted Isaiah Mustafa or Terry Crews to bust in and defeat the hair. Or eat it. Or, in Terry's case, make it his own. Something. B-

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Pepsi, "Pepsi Halftime Intro" – Technically, this 30-second piece was just an intro to the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show featuring a highly inaccurate hologram of Bruno Kirby. A nice idea and seamless effects, plus a lack of over-the-top tomfoolery helped this be a fairly decent bit of marketing for the brand in its own right. I would've used a bottle slide (as in blues guitar) on the opening bridge shot, though. B

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Radio Shack, "The 80s" – Great self-deprecating spot that is only marred by a lame "let's do this together" message at the end. Outstanding use of Mary Lou Retton. A-

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SodaStream, "ScarJo" – The entire point of this spot was to get pre-game media coverage for having to edit out a mention of Coke and Pepsi (as seen in the embed below). Ooooh, censorship! As if the NFL would let someone diss the main sponsor of their halftime show (Pepsi). Aside from that, this spot is all over the place. I'm supposed to use SodaStream to save the planet? To be like Scarlett Johansson? To make their spot go viral? To give a Barry White impersonator some work? I just don't know! Look, I have nothing against using Scarlett Johansson in an ad. But why all the unnecessary flash? If the product is basically anti-Coke and anti-Pepsi, shouldn't the spot reflect that ethos? Go simple. Like the E*Trade monkey in the garage. Only it's ScarJo sipping a soda for 30 seconds. So much better. Sorry, monkey. C

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Squarespace, "A Better Web Awaits" – My own ad blog is currently hosted on a Squarespace site. But maybe not much longer if my money is going towards this type of ad. How does building a website on Squarespace equal less duck lips and fail memes? If I go with another provider, are those atrocities built in? Why do I feel like this is a recycled AOL spot? The problem with this spot is the strategy. People aren't out there pining to create subjectively better websites as a bulwark against the gyrating lower-my-bills hordes. People want a simple way to produce a nice-looking site. Can you do that on Squarespace? After this spot, I do not know. Perhaps they should have gone with a message of "Ugly is easy. Now nice is easy, too." And feature bad design instead of bad content. C-

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Toyota, "Terry Crews and the Muppets" – It's hard to hate on the Muppets, and Terry Crews could pummel me by flexing a quad. Nonetheless, this spot left me somewhat wanting. I liked the premise and the payoff with Kermit. And Mr. Crews has nailed down his insane face after much practice pimping Old Spice. The big issue is: too much setup and not enough wackiness. "We ain't go no room for boring" is a great refrain, but why does it take 33 seconds to get the hilarity ensuing? More vignettes, bring on Fozzie and let's recut this thing. B-

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T-Mobile, "Tim Tebow – No Contract No. 1, No. 2 & No. 3" – Proof that the underlying idea doesn't have to be new for the work to be entertaining and relevant. Who knew Tebow could act? He gives Peyton a run for the money in the pitchman department. Fun stuff that's relevant to the media placement and the millions of wireless phone users out there who are tired of two-year stints with their carriers. Well done, Butler, Stern, Shine & Partners. A

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TurboTax, "Prom" – This spot's message: Your team didn't make the Super Bowl so you might was well do your taxes. Hey, I've used TurboTax for at least a decade. But no. Even with the Chiefs blowing that playoff game to Indy. No. C

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Volkswagen, "Wings" – As the proud owner of a 2012 Volkswagen GTI, I am predisposed to liking the brand's advertising. Not that that's been a difficult thing to do over the years. This spot is above average and would, in a non-Super Bowl environment, be considered quite good. The premise is a bit odd—I can't imagine ever telling my teenaged daughter that VW engineers get wings every time a VW passes 100,000 miles. But, the wackiness that ensues is generally well done. I don't like the scene in the elevator with the accidental wing-to-cheek contact as it's too cliché. ( know many will complain that that is the only scene featuring a female engineer, but let's be honest—has society reached the point where we can feature women and engineers and also mock them? I have. But society? Knickerbocker, please.) Anyway, I also wish the daughter hadn't used the word "butt." Yes, I'm that kind of dad. Now someone in VW PR give me a 2015 Golf R and I'll rewrite this. I'm not a journalist. My opinions can be bought. B

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WeatherTech, "You Can't Do That" – I've used WeatherTech products for years—a full set of their mats is protecting our sweet, sweet minivan as I type. With mace and a .45. So, I was interested to see what their first Super Bowl spot would be. (The brand is known for long-copy ads in every major car mag in America.) This spot didn't have the most original foundation in the world, but it was interesting enough to keep my attention, and the message rings very true in today's maker culutre. Not to shabby, pappy. B

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Wonderful Pistachios, "Stephen Colbert No. 1" – There's such a thing as being too subtle. And while I realize this was a setup to spot No. 2, it failed to make me anticipate the punch line. I prefered Colbert's Mr. Goodwrench spots of yore, to be imperfectly honest. C

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Wonderful Pistachios, "Stephen Colbert No. 2" – Oooooh, "branding." This spot would've worked if the eagle had flown off with Stephen's pistachio head. That's comedy. C+

50 comments — Last by dashbarron at 2:53 PM on 02/10/14

Papa's got a brand-new, undead-proof European carryall
— 11:02 AM on October 16, 2013

So iPhone 5S and 5C mania has died down (although someone needs to tell the entrepreneurs on eBay), OS X Mavericks has yet to go gold master, and the new iPads won't be trotted out in all their magical unicorn glory for at least a couple of weeks yet. Obviously, only one thing will fill this gaping, Mac-news gap: luggage.

Boy howdy, luggage.

As someone who has schlepped a laptop and other assorted business paraphernalia to and fro betwixt office and home for nigh on 15 years (because such mobile devices were too expensive the first five years of my so-called career), I have developed a rather particular list for what I require in my personal technological man purse. In an era when eBags.com alone lists nearly 1,200 items in their "laptop bags" section, compromising form for function or function for form seems anathema. Yet, like most things used personally but produced en masse, it quickly becomes less about finding the perfect bag and more about finding one that's close enough. Which technically only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but since I can neither tan my own hides nor sew 1050 denier Cordura into shapes more complex than a taco, close enough will have to do.

The last time I went looking for a new laptop tote, I attempted to go a bit old school, opting for a leather shoulder bag with classic buckles. I imagined that, over time, the leather would patina gracefully and obtain a look not dissimilar to Ricardo Montalban's skin in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khaaaaaaaaaaan. Alas, my rudimentary knowledge of leather coupled with a desire to not drop several, as the kids from 1992 say, Benjamins led me to purchase a bag that only appeared to be of sound quality. If you know what bonded leather is, you know how this story ends—with me cursing the white backing layer that eventually began wearing through. And while said white backing was reminiscent of Mr. Roark's suit on Fantasy Island, it was not quite the look of rich Corinthian leather for which I had hoped. Instead of looking like something Steve McQueen would toss over his shoulder as he leapt onto a Triumph Bonneville and sped off into the desert sun in search of some unfiltereds, my bag would eventually look like something my grandma would carry to bunko night.

So, the search for a new satchel began. And, reflecting upon the times in which we all now find ourselves, I knew I needed more than just a bunch of Chinese textiles woven into a series of oddly shaped pouches into which my 18 random USB sticks would eventually get lost. I needed a bag capable of getting me, and probably at least one of my children, through the impending zombie apocalypse. I know there's a full-on 28 Days cycle of undead violence in the offing because I've seen it on the TV. And, obviously, the movies. And to those who scoff at the notion that the entertainment industry is an infallible prognosticator of future events, I point to the Great Dobie Gillis Outbreak of 1962.

Naturally, I turned to the world of tactical gear. In days gone by, that would have meant trekking down to Mickey's Surplus in lovely Kansas City, Kansas ("The Town So Nice They Put Most of It in Missouri to Confuse People"), where inhaling the dusty remains of K-rations before purchasing an authentic East German bayonet lovingly machine-stamped in Taiwan made perfect sense. Sadly, Mickey's is now 200 miles south of my current residence, and Omaha's selection of military surplus stores is, conveniently for my wordplay, running at a deficit. To the Internet!

After what my company's logs tell me were hours of online research, I settled upon the Messenger of Doom tactical messenger bag from Hazard 4. Yes, that's its real name. No, it did not come pre-loaded with any amount of doom or an actual messenger thereof. Not even a tiny Gollum figurine stabbing a Precious Moments angel. I will not bore you (more) with my imaginary unboxing video, especially when I can just direct you to this one.

As a laptop bag, the MOD works wonderfully. The laptop section is separate from other areas and very well padded, and it fits my 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina quite nicely. (Hazard 4 claims the section will fit a 17-inch MBP, but it looks a little tight to me.) On the storage front, there are plenty of pockets, flaps, and other cubbies to stash just about anything that may legally require stashing. The side panels are bereft of the water bottle pockets that seem to plague most bags these days. (I subsist off caffeine and bile, thank you.) The hardware feels a couple notches above the usual fare, with übertactical box stitching throughout and zipper pulls that won't yank off within a month. I'm pretty sure that, if I were to run out of shells for my boomstick, I could use the MOD as an impromptu mace and play Pop Goes the Zombie Head with it. At least after I add the spikes.

So sleek, so unassuming, so not a Targus bag. The giant Velcro area is for morale patches.

Map pocket on inside front flap. The small, green arch poking out is zombie repellent, assuming the undead fear delightfully fresh breath.

Which leads me to the best part of the MOD: the MOLLE/PALS webbing that covers much of its surface. With the main flap down, the MOD appears to be a clean, modern messenger bag. But just under the flap, a full panel of MOLLE/PALS webbing awaits for appropriate customization. Like, say, a carrier for three magazines that may or may not belong to the concealed carry weapon that may or may not be strapped in next to it. No, it won't carry an undead-dominating shotgun, but I wanted a laptop bag, not a tactical viola case. The MOLLE goodness extends to the main pocket area, as well, where I've already added an additional pouch to store vampire-repelling garlic and holy water (because the first word in True Blood ain't "fiction," Sookie).

MOLLE/PALS webbing permits the addition of accessories, including tactical wooden stake pockets and concealed holy water pistol holsters. Because sometimes zombies turn into David Boreanaz.

Main compartment shown with after-market pouch suitable for Milky Ways, Ready-to-Eat.

Admittedly, I have only tested my black MOD for half of its intended purposes—the toting of my office gear. But, assuming my background check checks out and the oracles of the airwaves don't let me down, I'll be set to start picking off slow-moving Dobie Gillises until the cows come home. Which is usually around 8:30.

Later,

Fox

33 comments — Last by TwoEars at 2:48 PM on 10/21/13

Back in jail with iOS 7
— 11:29 AM on September 20, 2013

Unless you're one of these people, you're probably aware that the entire Internet slowed to 300 baud modem speeds Wednesday as millions of First Worlders (We're number one, hey!) hammered Apple's cold fusion-powered data centers in hopes of being one of the lucky five to download iOS 7 or, as a consolation prize, a personalized scowl from Jony Ive. I was not one of the five.

Which was okay. Really.

I got through the disappointing day of no iOS 7 by trolling eBay for TI-99/4A speech synthesizer modules while occasionally working at my real job. And it was my birthday. Which would be more exciting if I had turned 21 and not 41. But at least I'm younger than Damage and Dr. Evil. Months count, people.

Anyway. In truth, I could not update to iOS 7 during the day because my iPhone 5 and iPad 3 were jailbroken. In their glorious and righteous benevolence, the Inquisitors of Cupertino wouldn't even let my devices recognize that an update existed. Now, I know what you're thinking: why on earth would I give up my sweet, sweet jailbreak for some skinny-fonted new iOS that will force its will upon me like some cool will-forcing metaphor I can't think of? Good question. The easy answer is that iOS 7 has incorporated enough features that used to only reside in the jailbreak community that I no longer feel it's worth the effort to maintain jailbroken status just for the couple of features I'll lose.

Also, skinny fonts, dude!

I was never a hard-core jailbreaker. I didn't download themes and abuse Winterboard like a 12-year-old from 2008 trying to decorate her MySpace page just right with the hearts and kitties. I liked SBSettings and Activator. And TV Tube Sleep, which made it look like my iPhone was an old CRT being turned off because I'm old-timey like that.

Did I ever use a tethering program? The world may never know. But if I did, it was only a couple of times a year, so no big loss.

To un-jailbreak a phone, one has to do a full factory restore of the scofflaw iDevice in question. When I did this to my iPhone, instead of upgrading it to iOS 7, iTunes upgraded it from 6.1.3 (the last iOS with an untethered jailbreak) to 6.1.4. Why? Because, I believe, I'm an idiot. I didn't upgrade iTunes to 11.1 before doing the restore. Since 11.1 is required for iOS 7, I got 6.1.4 and the chance to download 2.2 gigabytes of iOS data instead of just 900 megs. Glad I have the SuperTurboFireBlazerExtreme Internet package at home. However, restoring 360 apps via USB 2.0 is slow. So slow that I went to bed and finished updating the phone in the morning.

And then I had it: iOS 7 in all its mildly parallactic glory. And it was good.

Now that I've lived with the design for a couple of days, I must admit to really liking it. Cyril gives the new design a hearty "meh," but I'm a touch more enthusiastic than Mr. K.

While I agree that this new iOS doesn't break new ground in the seismic way the original iPhone/iOS combination did, I think that's expecting too much at this point. The original magic of the iPhone wasn't just what it did or that it did things simply—it was that it did such cool stuff on frickin' phone you carried around with you. I don't think any company is going to recapture that level of "Sweet Moses!" excitement without completely rethinking and reinventing the smartphone as we know it. I would suppose Apple and Samsung and Google are all heading down those paths, but who succeeds first (if at all) is still up for grabs.

Until then, we have iOS 7 (and the new iPhone 5C and 5S that I've yet to see in person). And it's better than what came before. More incremental than inspirational perhaps, but that's a bit like complaining your wife's new haircut only made her into a hotter version of her existing self instead of a Leather Goddess of Phobos.

From a usability standpoint, I'm enjoying the new elements like Control Center and swipe-mid-screen to search. The UI feels plenty snappy to me on my iPhone 5, but I do sense some lag on my iPad 3. Not surprising given the new level of graphics layering going on. Of course, I wish Apple would give us the option of turning off such things (you can turn off parallax in the Accessibility settings). Considering I've been railing against the lack of OS 9 window-shading in OS X for the past dozen years, I'm not holding my breath on this one.

I have run into a couple of odd niggles: While you can finally put as many apps into a folder as you like, the folders will only show nine apps at a time on screens that will clearly hold many more. It'd be nice if you could merge folders instead of having to move apps one-by-one to consolidate. Things like that.

In the realm of Apple Giveth and Apple Taketh Away, iOS 7 finally includes the option in Mail to mark all messages as read. Only took the seventh iteration of the OS to get there (this lack of functionality was another reason I jailbroke my iDevices). But to counter this, Apple removed the preference to limit your mail accounts to only showing the latest 50/100/200/etc. messages. At first I though I was just missing where the setting had been moved to, but the message boards told me otherwise. Silly.

All in all, I dig it. Of course it's not as magical or fantastical or orgasmic as the videos at Apple.com would have us all believe. But the new, unified look and feel is a winner. And the death of skeuomorphic tomfoolery has to be reason enough for some to upgrade. Although they didn't re-skin Find My Friends. I know it's not a built-in app, but still. The ghost of Scotty F. has yet to be exorcised.

For those wondering, I did not peck this out while in line at an AT&T store trying to snag a 5S. That's what interns are for.

Later,

Fox

27 comments — Last by dashbarron at 9:45 AM on 09/25/13

A hands-off quasi-review of the iPhone 5C and 5S
— 1:19 PM on September 13, 2013

As expected, Tim Cook & Co. materialized this past Tuesday to confirm 98% of the leaks their supply chain "partners" had let fly over the past few months in regards to the iPhone 5C and 5S. The 5C (for "Cheap," "China," or "Charo") is basically the soon-to-die iPhone 5 with a polycarbonate shell, a slightly better camera, a larger battery, and 20 grams of extra poundage. The 5S maintains the 5's external trappings while sporting new innards and new colors, which I refer to as Space Silver, Space Gray and Space Grey Poupon. The latter of the trio is the gold/champagne version that got a fair amount of chatter flowing for no good reason.

I attempted to dub this version "The Continental," but that sobriquet has yet to catch on. A meme machine I apparently am not.

Anyway, back to the 5C. Prior to Tuesday's announcement, when leaks were as uncontainable as Miley's tongue (now try getting that image out of your head), the mass of tech punditry posited that the 5C was going to be a low-cost alternative for what polite econ wonks would dub "emerging Asian markets that rhyme with angina." While that may indeed be part of Apple's overall strategy, it doesn't really feel like it. After all, the 5C, in both 16GB and 32GB configurations, is just $100 less than the 5S. While I have no doubt that a number of folks just coming into the Wonderful World of Lifetime iPhone Upgrades would rather pocket the $100 than enjoy the 5S's biometric home button or new camera hardware, I don't think the 5C is really aimed at wooing the Chinese masses on price alone.

No, to me, it seems Apple simply grew tired of releasing an upgraded handset and then lowering the price of the existing model. It's as if they want it to be obvious that someone chose a lesser iPhone. Or, perhaps, more obvious that someone opted for the 5S. It reminds me of the white, plastic iBooks compared to the MacBook Pros. Only this new iBook is actually better than the current MBP. I don't know; it just strikes me as weird, but I've only had one cup of coffee as I write this and, not going to lie, I don't care a whole lot about the 5C. I'm sure my wife would love it, because she's still sporting a 3GS that she has come to loathe for its increasing slowness. But she'll never know. If we upgrade phones, I'll give her my 5 and get myself the 5S. I know that sounds selfish, but, slowness or not, my wife would use the 3GS until it self-immolated while trying to decipher Facebook's latest privacy changes.

The 5S, of course, is supernew, supershiny and, if certain pundits are to be believed, a massive superfail. Forget its new 64-bit A7 chip or M7 motion coprocessor. Or its upgraded camera with an f/2.2 lens and color temp-adjusting dual LED flash. Or its seemingly fail-proof biometric finger scanner of a home button. No, the 5S still fits in a normal pocket, doesn't resemble a small tablet (I refuse to use the word "phablet" unless I'm dropping mad beatz as my alter ego MC J-Fro), and still won't cure the heartbreak of psoriasis.

I get it. The new hardware, while a significant upgrade spec-wise, lacks any wowee-zowee, life-altering features. (Although I would argue that the biometric home button is rather astounding. I am one of the Apple-claimed 50% who do not passcode-protect their phones, and I'm sure the button's uses will expand over time.) And that's the rub. Ever since Apple split up the announcement of the latest iOS from the latest iPhone, the reveal of the hardware has been a bit anticlimactic. After all, most of the awesomeness of the iPhone is contained within iOS. Each successive hardware upgrade usually gives us better battery life and a better camera (and I am impressed with the 5S camera), along with one or two decently significant new items like the Retina display, wide-screen display, or Lightning connector. But as cool as such things are—yes, I believe the Lightning connector was a significant upgrade—they're all rather meaningless without the OS and apps. And since Apple lets most of the iOS goodness out of the bag at WWDC every year, those wow moments of new hardware running new software are more or less gone.

None of which will have any impact on sales, of course. I wish Apple would be a bit more adventurous in their upgrades, but the truth is that their form of a prevent defense actually works, in stark contrast to the Kansas Chiefs teams of the late 1990s. As much as I grow weary of incremental improvements—an issue that extends far beyond Apple in my world—the pattern will hold until someone like Samsung or, heaven forbid, Nokia does something truly game-changing instead of merely different or slightly better. (While the competitions' phones have improved markedly over the years and are, in some ways, probably better, there is a big difference between being a viable alternative and being a must-have.)

So, as the owner of an iPhone 5, will I lay down the cash for a 5S? I honestly don't know. I think it really will take a hands-on, thumbs-on demo to sway me on this one. But if I do, you know I'll be getting a champagne-tinged handset with a custom-printed Walken case.

Later,

Fox

112 comments — Last by Selous at 6:09 AM on 09/30/13

Netflix embraces profiling
— 2:46 PM on August 14, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night when I first joined Netflix in January 2007. Or light and breezy. Who knows? I can't remember three days ago. The membership was a (requested) Christmas gift, and there was much rejoicing throughout the Fox household, which, at the time, was two-fifths its current size. Back then, you could set up separate DVD/Blu-ray queues for different family members and alternate which queue your next disc was sent from. My wife, the hottest of all Megan Foxes, and I took advantage of this feature. Meaning there was almost always at least one movie in the house one of us had no interest in viewing.

And then Reed Hastings drove a stake through the heart of marital movie bliss and banished this feature to the junk pile of Betamax tapes and HD-DVDs. Boo. Hiss. So my wife's profile sat there for years. Still clickable, but with nothing in the queue and no way to add anything to the queue (although now such additions would be of the streaming variety, as we had given up the disc rentals after the Great Qwikster Flambé of 2011). So lonely. So forlorn.

Eventually, my wife pulled a double and spawned two offspring at once just to prove she was still a tough, Iowa farm girl at heart even though she doesn't know how to take a pork tenderloin from piglet to deep fryer. These spawn were then followed by a third and surgically guaranteed final Fox, and our Netflix Instant Queue ranneth over with the evil that is the whiny, Canadian scourge known as "Caillou." Sigh, eh.

Then, earlier this very summer, Netflix announced that they were bring profiles back—up to five per account. They finally rolled out this much-requested feature beginning August 1, with the caveat that it could take up to two weeks for profiles to propagate amongst the user hordes. Naturally, my account was on the tail end of receiving the upgrade, but it did show up Monday evening. Which is when the fun really began. Which is sarcasm. Because while Netflix did add profiles with individual queues, they did not create any way of moving or copying movies between queues. It took me the better part of 90 minutes (I did save the best part for a chocolate bar) to re-look up every kids show in our main queue and add it to the new Kiddos profile. Because coding a way to move things between MySQL databases is apparently beyond the technical acumen of folks who figured out how to send "Tommy Boy" though space and time. Also, I have no idea if they use MySQL databases. Maybe they outsource queue-keeping to small, Nepalese villages where they write everything down by hand in between getting schooled in the art of shot taking by Marion Ravenwood.

Anyway, I'm happy the profiles are back and that my queue is now free of magical ponies. Although I did keep Pingu around because he's like an aquatic fourth Stooge. But the whole queue-shuffling experience led me to notice (or revisit) some of Netflix's other UI and UX shortcomings. For example, after creating the Kiddos queue and marking it as a profile for chitlins under 12 (an actual good idea), I still, while logged into said profile, received suggestions for adult movies. Like a documentary called "After Porn Ends." And searching for kids shows would also bring up adult suggestions. These occurrences are spotty, so maybe they're still working out the bugs. Let us hope.

Still in the kids vein, if you mark a profile as being for the under-12 set, you can't add movies to it that are NR, or Not Rated. Which nixes more than a few Discovery and NatGeo documentaries, as well as some hardcore Charlie Brown specials. Yes, Netflix, you may actually have to use a little human judgment instead of IMDB data to assess the ratings veracity of your content. So please do us all a solid and change "Horseland" to NC-17. Bunch of trollops.

Netflix.com doesn't work correctly with Chrome; it doesn't let us access the Instant Queue while in the Kiddos profile. It works fine in Firefox and Safari. I don't know where the blame lies for this one, but I'll go with Google since Sergey Brin sounds like a rejected Bond villain. So you're off the hook for now, Reed. Not that we stream much within a browser anyway not counting the nine hours I'm at work.

In general, the Netflix UI blows whether on a computer, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. On an iDevice, forcing me to side-scroll through my queue while being subjected to dubious "suggestions" is not my idea of well-played proactive content pimping. It's just annoying. And as readers of this blog know, no one understands annoying better than yours truly.

And here's an idea, when A-level fare arrives, let me know. Most of your "new releases" are straight-to-streaming clunkers like "I Was a Teenage Teenager" that don't really qualify for front-page treatment. If you don't have enough quality new releases to push, well, get back to work on those licensing agreements. The "Backyardigans" are sorely missed in southwest Omaha, by the way.

In the end, I'm still fairly happy with Netflix. Hard to argue with spending eight bucks a month for so much content in spite of the exceedingly high signal-to-noise ratio. Their push into producing original content is a worthwhile endeavor, even if the new "Arrested Development" episodes were critically ravaged (we still haven't managed to watch them). After all, I managed to watch the entire run of "Battlestar Galactica" in about 10 weeks. Which is pretty frackin' awesome. I just wish they'd put a little more thought and polish (because I prefer thought to spit) into their interface. And figure out a way to stream Junior Mints.

Later,

Fox

51 comments — Last by demani at 4:44 PM on 08/19/13

The least-timely, shoddiest review of Final Cut Pro X
— 7:17 PM on July 30, 2013

If you look at The Tech Report's main blog page, you'll notice a blurb describing each of the columns. In describing The MacHole (and more specifically its author, me), TR proprietor Scott Wasson wrote, "As TR's first self-described Mac blogger, Jason Fox joins us to cover the wonderful world of Apple products, with a focus on multimedia and video editing." As any medium-time reader of this sporadically published blog knows, I have pretty much ignored this specification and run roughshod over Scott's dream of having a moderately serious Mac blog on TR. But seeing as how I possess certain disc film negatives from seventh-grade homeroom involving an Atari ST and a marmoset, this arrangement shall remain.

My proclivities for ill-focused technological rambling aside, I do, in truth, enjoy video editing. My first exposure to real editing (as opposed to taping up broken splices on dad's old 8-mm reels) came in 1995 when I mistakenly entered the ad industry as a copywriter. This was during the big shift from online to offline editing. It was fun to watch and direct, but I was not allowed to play with the very expensive toys, even if I was technically the client. Smart move on their part.

In late 1999, Apple released iMovie and changed the way we edit poorly lit kids' birthday parties forever. It was easy to use and, thanks to the Ken Burns Effect, abuse. I used it at work to make a couple of new business pitch videos and rough TV spots (visual storyboards, if you will). But, as I often did, I craved more power, more control, more garbage mattes. So when Final Cut Express debuted in 2003, I ponied up the biggish bucks and went to town—if you consider being hunched over a Walmart computer desk with a dual-533MHz PowerMac G4 and a 16-inch LCD to be "town." A couple of years later, when I thought I was getting serious about shooting, I went all-in for Final Cut Studio, since I needed a version of Final Cut that supported 24p (FCE did not), along with DVD Studio Pro.

That was in 2005.

In 2011, Apple decided it was time to get the FCP editing community's collective panties (lion print) in a wad by introducing Final Cut Pro X. As in the Roman numeral for 10. Meaning, in theory, Apple skipped FCP 8 and 9, which isn't really accurate. It was more like they skipped FCP 8 though 23, because FCPX wasn't an upgrade to FCP7—it was a completely new program with new media management and, most importantly, an entirely new editing structure. Gone were the multiple video and audio tracks that pretty much every editing program extant had used since the dawn of computer editing. Gone were all your plug-ins until publishers released new versions for X. And gone were all your past FCP projects, because Apple didn't include a way to import old work.

Who wouldn't love that?

If you were paying attention to such things at that time, pretty much nobody who wasn't on the payroll in Cupertino loved Final Cut Pro X. Personally, I stayed out of the fray because I didn't (and don't) make my living editing. My editing needs were, as far as an FCP user goes, modest. I continued toiling away with FCP7, keeping tabs on updates to X that slowly, if not quite surely, assuaged the pro editors among us. At least those who hadn't bolted back to Avid or to Premiere in the interim. Yet I knew that some day I would have to give in and switch to X, hopefully before Apple forced my hand by including code in an OS 10-point-dot release that broke support for FCP7 altogether. Not that such a thing could ever, ever, happen. Never.

And so that dive has been doven. A few weeks ago, I finally started in on The Fox Family 2012 Year in Review video. Yes, instead of piecing together little vignettes of events as they occur (or, like normal people, never bothering to edit video footage at all), I wait until the end of the year and hack together what is basically a chronological spewing of scenes set to a song that may or may not have any relation to said footage. It's fun but rather time-intensive. And, this year, quite late. But I digress. The point is, I finally started my biggest editing project of the year, and I decided it was to time to quit cursing at my Hackintosh and to start cursing a new version of FCP.

Here are my thoughts after about 40 hours of use. And only two years after the program's debut.

Media management and browsing is easier. You can actually see clips and scrub through them without having to double-click them and stick them into another window. This doesn't sound like much, but when you're making selects from 700+ raw clips, the speed benefits become quite tangible. Also, FCPX reads the metadata on my files, automatically lists their dates with each clip (which FCP7 did, too, but in a much less at-a-glance fashion), and groups them as such. Grouping media into Events seemed odd at first, but it now makes a lot of sense. Although you'll want to invest in Event Manager X if you end up with a lot of events you don't need hogging up your window.

You can also directly edit AVCHD footage if you're a masochist or have a 96-core machine with 16 SLI'd video cards. Or you can let FCPX convert such footage to ProRes422 as it ingests. Me, I stick with converting using Voltaic, because FCPX requires additional files off your SD card in order to keep things straight, and I saw no benefit in changing my workflow.

The Storyline paradigm of editing makes a lot of sense once you pull a Yoda and unlearn your dependence on multiple tracks. In a way, you still get multiple tracks, where what's on top plays over what's underneath. But with the Storyline method, all those tracks above and below the, er, primary storyline are connected to that backbone. Which makes moving chunks of stuff around much easier and keeps the assorted bits and pieces in sync as you go. Is it better than the traditional, multi-track way? The jury is still out for me. It's different. It's fast. But I can't say it's superior.

Apple still doesn't provide a way of importing old FCP projects into X. Fortunately, you can drop $10 for 7toX (made by the same folks who publish Event Manager X) and get a fairly decent workaround. It's not perfect. The way it imports old sequences as Events instead of Projects seems a bit counterintuitive. But it works well enough and, as far as I know, is the only solution currently out there. Best advice: keep FCP7 on hand if you have frequent need of opening past projects.

Sweet Moses, is Final Cut Pro X a resource hog. I'd never had any issue with playing multiple tracks of 1080p video with FCP7 using a 5400-RPM SATA 3Gbps hard drive. "Sluggish" barely begins to describe FCPX's performance with this drive. Depending on what mood the program was in when launched, things were either minutely slow or majorly dysfunctional. As in, thumbnails would never generate, scrubbing was aborted, and the SBOD took up permanent residence in southwest Omaha. Obviously, I was forced to upgrade to a 3TB, 7200-RPM SATA 6Gbps drive. Speed and space problems solved. Except that I really need a new graphics card to speed up OpenCL rendering. Emergency flares have been fired. Stay tuned.

Two years of X existence have also led to a ton of new plug-ins flooding the market. I can only assume, because I'm too lazy to research, that coding plug-ins for X is easier than previous FCP flavors. I don't recall there being so many high quality, relatively cheap plug-ins out there. Best of all, for me, the few plug-ins I did own for 7 were offered in their X variants for free. Sadly, I was unable to find a plug-in that would take six hours of raw footage and cut it down to fit the glorious melody that is Mr. Mister's Kyrie. No, I'm not joking. My kids fell in love that song for some reason last year. Hey, it beats the snot out of Raffi.

And that's about it for the moment. Aside from figuring out where certain menu options are hiding, I haven't encountered too much grief. Granted, there's now something called YouTube that makes life a lot easier when it comes to learning a program like this. I learned quite a bit in a very short time following the smooth mouse movements and even smoother voice of Larry Jordan. Not all of his content is free, but his free stuff was enough to get me started with a minimum of vulgarities.

And if you've ever edited before, you know that isn't faint praise.

Later,

Fox

25 comments — Last by Scrotos at 8:50 AM on 08/06/13

The App Store heads to kindergarten
— 12:56 PM on July 12, 2013

So Apple's iOS App Store celebrated it's fifth birthday this week, culminating 260 weeks that could be described as arduous, touch-and-go, and fraught with peril unlike any seen since season 4 of Battlestar Galactica when Edward James Olmos finally landed on a nuked-out Earth and stood and delivered a few choice fraks. Except, of course, you'd be wrong in that description. Because if there was ever a business venture poised for success, it was the App Store, which didn't hit for a full year after the first nanogerbil-powered iPhone hit the market.

Naturally, every tech site had a least one article covering the event, with most offering a timeline of the App Store's growth. As of May 2013, over 50 billion apps have been downloaded and at least 33 developers have become semi-instant millionaires based solely on their ability to code realistic fart noises. (No, capitalism isn't always pretty, friends, but I shudder to think of life in a world where I can only enjoy government-approved fake flatulence.) The store also helped push software-as-a-download over the final hurdle, making it the preferred method of both distribution and consumption. Although users of Adobe CC may come to rue that development.

New terms, modes of business, and cultural touchstones also spouted forth in the wake of the App Store. Apple's marketing promised "there's an app for that" long before there actually was. The freemium model angered lovers of the English language everywhere (though not as much as when Kinko's—remember them?—turned "office" into a verb) and proved that giving your kid your phone for ten minutes could be a costly mistake. And ill-tempered fowl took over people's devices and their kids' birthday party decorations. Yes, the App Store even affected the crepe paper industry.

So while there is plenty of cause for honoring the App Store (and its Android, Windows, and Blackberry counterparts), getting all verklempt at little Appy turning five feels a bit forced. It was an accomplishment that my twins turned five last January without having once sent each other to the ER. It was amazing that my wife put up with me for five years (now almost ten) without feeling the need to go Full Oprah on me. Those things are impressive-ish because of the passage of time. The App Store is simply impressive. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

---

In other news, Apple was found guilty of violating federal anti-trust laws in regards to an e-book price fixing scheme. Those most relieved by this decision are those tech journalists assigned to follow the case. We'll see if this decision drives down any prices on the iBook bookstore. I would think the fact that I bought a Kindle version of a Final Cut Pro X training book from Amazon for 10 bucks less than it is on Apple site might be incentive enough. But apparently not.

---

My Hackintosh has a new home inside a Corsair Carbide Series 500R case. The USB3 front panel connections cause boot issues, so I've had to use the included USB2 adapter. And my Ethernet no longer works. What moving the innards to a new case did to cause this chicanery, I know not. But the case itself is quite nice, and the multitude of fans is keeping my plethora of hard drives, the SSD, and the CPU much cooler than my old Antec Sonata III 500 ever did. It's also less prone to slicing my fingers. So less fraks slip from lips.

---

Finally, I time-traveled to 2008 to master a DVD for a client. Tony Parker and Eva Longoria seemed so happy back then. Sigh.

Later,

Fox

19 comments — Last by Alexko at 12:15 PM on 07/21/13