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Until the "2.0 DRM" is removed, GOODBYE KEURIG.

Dear Keurig,

Ever since becoming the owner of a Keurig coffee maker a few years ago, I have been a happy customer.  As I am the only coffee drinker in my home, I find it very convenient to brew single servings of coffee throughout the day when I want them, instead of having to brew an entire pot at a time.  Your product is innovative and changed the face of the industry.  Over these few years I've sampled many of the coffee pod selections sold or licensed by Green Mountain and have enjoyed many of them.

When the patents on the K-Cup form factor expired, it was obvious that third parties would begin manufacturing compatible pods and brewers.  It should have also been clear that as the inventor and leader in this form factor, Keurig products would continue to lead the industry.  Instead, however, you chose to deploy an abusive tactic in your "Keurig 2.0" brewers that simply locks out all pods manufactured by producers who have not paid a licensing fee to your company.  This is beyond disappointing; it is beneath contempt.

I am writing to let you know that I stand with a growing multitude of customers who refuse to ever purchase a "Keurig 2.0" product.  When my existing brewer reaches the end of its service life, I will replace it with an unlicensed, third-party manufactured brewer that happily brews licensed or unlicensed pods.

Furthermore, I will no longer purchase Keurig licensed pods, even the brands I had purchased and enjoyed in the past.  I have identified a number of roasters who are not participating in your draconian licensing program, and will purchase their products instead.  In fact, due to your monopoly abuse, I have discovered that several roasters whose products are quite good, sell their pods at a substantially lower price than Keurig licensed pods.

Keurig, the quality of your product should stand on its own.  I implore you to remove the draconian restrictions from your products before your reputation as an innovator of quality products is replaced by a reputation as an abusive monopolist.  The latter will happen if you continue on your current path.

This is an open letter.  I will be posting it to social media sites and I encourage anyone reading it to spread it around.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sun Feb 22 2015 14:13:34 EST
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Why Acer's new Android desktops are a game-changer

This year at CES, Acer is introducing two new desktops – yes, you read that correctly, desktops – running the wildly successful variant of Linux known as Android. They're cleverly positioning these exactly as I've been predicting for a long time: as monitors. They're monitors with video inputs that the luddites can connect to a computer running Windows 8, complete with touchscreen input. But they also have a full Android stack available, which will operate independently with no external computer attached.

Why is this relevant?

At the current price point set by Acer, it isn't. However, we should hope to expect that this will become the norm for all new monitors, just like televisions now include “Smart TV” features. Mass production of SoC (system on a chip) components will make it a no-brainer for even cheap monitors.

Now imagine your typical Windows luddite, trying to get something done on their old-fashioned desktop computer, when Windows does what it always does: it fails. If our luddite has technical knowledge, he may be faced with setting aside his work or research or whatever, and spending the next couple of hours repairing or reinstalling Windows. If our luddite is a nontechnical consumer, he will have to stop and wait for someone to come and help – or, possibly, spending money at the local computer shop having Windows fixed again.

But wait! Our luddite suddenly remembers that there is another computer built into the monitor. He unplugs the mini-tower and boots into Android. He's back on the Internet and he has a working computer again. The day is saved! After a few days, he begins to realize that he doesn't need the Windows hassle, and stuffs the mini-tower up into the attic, never to be seen again. Our newly minted non-luddite is now a happy Linux desktop user. He doesn't ever have to worry about viruses, spyware, lost data, or being regularly gouged for money by Microsoft.

This, my friends, is the Network Computing vision of the mid 1990's. Thanks to mobile data, ubiquitous Internet connectivity, and excellent Linux client operating systems like Android, it is rapidly becoming a reality. Windows has no place in the post-PC era, and Android desktops are accelerating the pace of adoption.



Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sat Jan 04 2014 15:42:33 EST
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I hate clarinets. And here's why.

When asked the simple question:

Which instruments do you play, Ig? 


I gave the answer...

Recorder (C and F), flute, guitar, keyboards, and a bit of teh drums. And I have a three octave vocal range. 


But I couldn't just stop there.  Not when I was given the chance, like Dr. Heinz Doofenschmirtz, to tell another emotionally scarring backstory.

As is the case with every child receiving a public school education in the People's Socialist Communist Republic of New York, I played the recorder in third grade. It's just a standard part of the music curriculum for that year, and I loved it. 

Fourth grade came along and I was told that the instrumental music program was available to us and I could select an instrument and play in the band too. Naturally I said that I wanted to continue playing the recorder. And of course I was told that the recorder was not a band instrument and I would have to select something else. 

And here's where it all went wrong. Mr. Salingo, the instrumental music teacher at the school, confidently told me that if I liked playing the recorder, I would like playing the clarinet. 


I hated playing it, I hated practicing, to the point where I would deliberately break the reeds to prematurely end practice sessions ... at one point I started making tape recordings of myself practicing so I could play them back the next day behind a closed door, which worked great until my stupid bitch sister ratted me out. 

So, one must ask, why did Mr. Salingo offer me a painful clarinet experience when he knew that a concert flute plays in the same key as a recorder, in the same register as a recorder, with almost exactly the same fingerings as a recorder? The only answer I can imagine is that he had it in his mind that the flute is a "girl's instrument." So I played the clarinet for a year and gave up on it, and missed out on what would have been some very cool band experiences in high school. 

My stupid bitch sister, when she reached fourth grade, played the flute for a year, and gave up on it because band was just not her thing. But for some reason, the instrument found its way into our attic instead of back to the school or rental place or wherever it came from. 

In college I picked up the recorder again and played with some very cool people in an ensemble. It was a lot of fun. We played in on-campus events and around the community as well. The instructor for the group was Professor Charles Scanzello, one of an extremely small number of people I can truly call mentors. He was scatter brained and disorganized, but he poured his love for music and community into everything he did. He was the one who encouraged me to pick up the F fingerings, which enabled me to play sopranino and alto recorders. 

All this time, most of my friends were band people, mainly because my best friend was/is a guy who stuck with the band program and he was also the one through whom I met most of my other friends. I had longed to play in the band all that time. So one day I remembered hearing at one point that the fingerings for a C recorder and a concert flute were almost identical, and I remembered that my stupid bitch sister's old flute was still in the attic. That summer I went home and taught myself how to play the flute. 

The next fall I returned to campus and joined the marching band. And yes, I was the only male flutist in the band. Imagine that: just me, and a bunch of cute co-eds. And they were all my type. In fact, I ended up marrying one of them. So it's an emotionally scarring backstory, but one that eventually has a happy ending.  I do hope that Mr. Salingo is retired by now and not foisting his agenda on another generation of children.  To this day, however, I hate clarinets.  I hate everything about them.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Wed Dec 11 2013 14:49:02 EST
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I admit it.  I'm into schadenfreude.  I know it's not a psychologically or spiritually healthy pleasure, but having spent my entire childhood (and several major episodes during my adulthood) being abused by bullies, I can't help but take delight when the "karma's a bitch" equation completes itself and misfortune lands upon the head of someone who so richly deserves it.


Over at Uncensored we had a "recurring villain" who would show up from time to time and derail every thread he could wedge his keyboard into.  He went by the screen name "Curly Surmudgeon" and was pretty extreme about everything.  He'd frequently claim that anyone who isn't a militant atheist like him is clinically insane.  He'd force rather bizarre political views down everyone's throats and say very rude and disturbing things about anyone who tried to steer the discussion back on course.  He was a tinfoil hatted lunatic who ran OpenBSD.  When he was asked to leave he screamed about censorship.  Insults flew in every direction, and when someone randomly called him a pedophile he suddenly came completely unhinged and started threatening to sue everyone involved for defamation of character.

A few years later we have just discovered that, as a matter of public record, he actually is a pedophile, having been arrested on some pretty serious child pornography charges.   I think that pretty much slams the door shut on any possible libel or slander lawsuits.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer person.  :)

There are limits to my schadenfreude, though.  Despite the delight of imagining his tinfoil-hatted head exploding after having a government-issued tracking device strapped to his ankle, I hope and pray that this incident will truly convict him and get him thinking, reflecting, etc. and eventually repent before he has to stand before the God that he spent his entire life trash-talking.


There's another bit of schadenfreude in my life right now, and it will culminate in a delightful celebration early next year.

As many of you know, I am a nerd.  I like computers, I hate sports.  I can play four instruments but I despise popular culture.  I'd rather have a chess board in front of me than a dance floor.  I can name all the characters on the original Star Trek but I could count the number of reality show characters whose names I know on one hand -- even if you cut my fingers off.

So it's no surprise that my childhood was pretty miserable.  I was unpopular, I was un-cool, I didn't get invited to parties, and I seldom had more than a handful of people I could truly call my friends.  My sister, on the other hand ... was a cheerleader.  She was popular and trendy and cool and had lots of friends.  We have always been opposites in every way; if we didn't have a Sebastian-and-Viola resemblance to each other I would really doubt that we were even really related.  But she was my sister, and she could be the one person who could give me some street cred, right?  The one person who could socially prop me up?

Nope.  Instead of helping me out, she made it worse.  She distanced herself from me as much as possible, assuming that I would be toxic to her reputation.  "Oh he's a total loser," she'd tell everyone.

Fast forward a few decades.  I now have a gorgeous wife, beautiful children, a nice house in the quiet suburbs, and a successful career.  What's she up to?  Well, let's just say that she still likes to "party like it's 1999."  In other words, she still acts like a 25 year old, hanging out with her friends and consuming way too much alcohol.  She doesn't have the things she really wants: a family and a meaningful career.  So it is no small pleasure for me to count down to her 40th birthday early next year. 

Turning 40, no husband, no kids.  Karma's a bitch, bitch.

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Thu Nov 28 2013 18:54:23 EST
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We're aaaaaaaaaall connecteddd...
It was probably 1983 or so when New York Telephone (now Verizon) upgraded our exchange from electromechanical switching to an AT&T 5ESS.  I clearly remember the day when I finished dialing a friend's number and didn't hear that satisfying "ka-CHUNK" indicating that you had successfully dropped a trunk line and the call was on its way.  I also remember shortly after that, using touch-tone on our line even though "we didn't have that service."

Adding touch-tone to a line served by mechanical switch required modifications that really did cost telco money.  On an electronic switch it was just an intrinsic part of the system, but for several years they tried to get away with continuing to charge extra for it.  I used tone dial on my modem and when telco tried to slap us with the fee we told them, "nope, not paying for it, shut the service off."  I knew they didn't have the ability to do that, so they simply took the fee off the bill.

That was a generation ago, when my dad was skeptical that I could even make a touch tone dialer work, and even more skeptical when he brought in the phone bill and I told him we can easily refuse to pay for tone service.  Today, my kids wouldn't know how to use a rotary phone if they saw one (Wes would probably figure it out, he's into that kind of stuff) but it's fun to think about how the dialing isn't even decoded by a switch at the telco, but rather by a 612A ONT in the basement that terminates the analog leg and sends the call out digitally over fiber optic cable between my home and the central office.   And long distance is billed at a flat monthly rate -- who'd have ever thought?

Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Mon Nov 18 2013 07:48:55 EST
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