The Sony Tax, Redux

I was given a gift recently, a very nice gift by somebody who I am confident doesn’t read this, so let me tell you a little about it.

It’s a Sony DSC-M2, a very clever little flip-openy camera. It is,
I hear from the internets, supposed to take pretty good pictures,
and movies! It’s a Sony product, though, so of course, it’s got a
very shiny silver case and, well, in the spirit of doing one thing
and doing it well, Sony has made a camera that actually looks pretty
cool. Want to hear more? Well, it’s nothing I haven’t said before –
it’s all Sony Tax, all the time.

  • It’s got a brand new, nobody-else-uses-it memory format,
    of course. The Memory Stick Duo, so super-high-tech that it’s
    a whole half-centimeter smaller than an SD Card along only one
    axis. Of course, I don’t own an adapter for that. I had a perfectly
    functional one for Memory Stick Solos, but for the Duo I’d need an
    adapter for my adapter. So I can’t get at it unless it’s plugged
    into the camera, and my camera is plugged into my PC. This isn’t
    unexpected, because it’s Sony, but it’s exacerbated by the fact that:

  • It doesn’t even have a USB port on it. It has a docking
    station. So if I want to, you know, go anywhere with my
    camera, I’ve got to cart the entire docking station with me. Which
    has a USB port on it, but it won’t charge over that,
    either. It charges from:

  • A power adapter with a unique, never-seen-anywhere-else plug
    that as far as I can tell has been manufactured exclusively for
    this device. And the best part of that, bar none is that:

  • I can’t access the data on the camera and charge the battery
    at the same time. I have to reach over and flip the whole camera
    open on the dock to get the USB connection to work, and close
    it up again to charge it.

I mean, what the hell? I can buy fifty-dollar widgets built by
nobodies in some Taiwanese backwater that didn’t even exist last
year that are smarter than that. Dear Sony, what the hell are you
doing? Why?

Incidentally, this is why the whole HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray debate
was an easy one for me; Sony is on one side of that argument,
and Sony has never been on the right side of a format war.
Whenever they’ve got a the choice between doing their own thing and
making something that’s interoperable with the whole world, they’ll come out strong for whatever side screws their customers the hardest. Case closed.

Moving on, the less said about the interface the better. I mean,
it’s not at all obvious at first what, and I’m not kidding about
this at all, is and is not a button on the camera.

There’s clearly a very powerful person somebody in the Sony
executive heirarchy whose retarded nephew ended up in the design
department.

There are three large buttons that all right-handed
people will agree are in the right place, but to use the rest of the
camera’s admittedly broad functionality you should keep an obedient
infant on your person at all times. You’ll need their tiny fingers
to get at the tiny buttons that have been sneezed all over the rest
of the camera. There are more than you first expect, I promise.

So awesome. And it only gets better; it hasn’t worked right since it crashed. That’s right, since my camera crashed after the first two dozen pictures I took. And even though it’s a Sony camera with a Sony memory stick in it, the staff at the Sony Store were the most unhelpful people I’ve dealt with in months. Doesn’t work? Sorry. You’ll have to ship it to our repair depot, which will despite our warranty cost you. Want to use it, say, today, for a friend’s wedding, you say? That’s just tough luck, I guess. Such tough luck, in fact, that they won’t even look you in the eye when they’re talking to you, and spend the time looking over your shoulder at the other shoppers while brushing you off.

Nothing says “I’m on commission” like ditching the customer service thing to look for more suckers. Thank you, Sony.

No, wait, not thank you; that other thing.

28 Comments

  1. Guillaume
    Posted August 7, 2006 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Well, if we’re sharing stories of getting screwed hard by Sony, I’ll share my experiences with Sony. I bought a MiniDisc player when I was still in high school. At the time there were no good MP3 players, iPods didn’t exist, and the only MP3CD players were the Soul and Soul2 players (my friend owned both). After having bought the device, I quickly realized that I couldn’t actually transfer songs onto it. I had to record everything through the line-in. Songs were seperated by auto-detecting 3 seconds of quiet in-between songs. The real problem started when the minijack plug would constantly break off from the leverage exerted by the massive in-line remote for it. I had the extended 3 year warranty, and brought it in to get fixed no less than 6 times, always for the same problem. They as well would not look straight at me, and no matter how big of a fuss I made, they wouldn’t exchange it for a newer non-broken unit. I even brought in a friend to help me make a REALLY big fuss, but alas, no dice. So my MD player now sits unused and broken on my shelf, along with any games for my PSP. Needless to say that I’ll be giving the finger to the Sony Store every time I walk by.

    And don’t even get me started on the whole Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD thing.
    Sorry about the wall of text.

  2. Alex Rootham
    Posted August 7, 2006 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Sony’s memory-stick stuff is half-open. YOu can get memory-sticks made by non-Sony companies. Memory-sticks are also used in all kinds of different Sony products (cameras, PSP, I think even some of their tv’s take it). Then again, why not just use SD?

    I used to have a camera with CompactFlash. Indestructible, but bulky. It was stolen in Koln. I got a Cannon SD-600 which takes SD-cards now. I also have a PSP, and upgraded memory-sizes twice. But sorry, there’s enough Sony-users out there that my 512MB memory-stick is already-designated for someone else, so I can’t offer you a convenient hand-me-down. Still, they’re not that expensive (online says $30/GB, which I think is a lie, but $50 should do it).

  3. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 8, 2006 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Alex: I appreciate the thought, but I can’t use your Memory Stick. It’s not a Memory Stick Duo, you see, which is an entirely different beast.

    Guillaume: It’s amazing how warranties can cover “manufacturing defects”, but obvious design defects seem to escape unscathed.

  4. sir front all the time
    Posted August 8, 2006 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Innovators != always working products.

    Maybe Sony just is not your kind of language? Lemme try to explain it so that in the future you won’t feel like such a lost puppy when you’re in the mall.

    Target groups and potential customers can be selected from marketing segments which are often categorized into people of different risk tolerances. These are the : Innovators (~10%), Early Adopters (~10%), Early Majority (~30%), Late Majority (~30%) and Laggards (~20%).

    Sony is selling to the Innovators and if they get a lucky technology that “catches” then to the Early Adopters too. Look for them to always pull away from any technology where outside competition to the newest “shiny thing” will come into play and erode profit margin pricing.

    That’s the “nobody-else-uses-it/does it” part of the reason why. In a sentence, because nobody will compete with them and “real” Innovators “not suka mcs” want the new things.

    You, in my opinion, should probably stay away from new technologies. Trust me, if you’re looking for snuggles and birthday cards from technical support staff perhaps Mac will be coming out with something new and equally expensive just for your needs, very (cough) soon.

  5. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 8, 2006 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    You totally cut and pasted that from somewhere. Except maybe for the sucka-MC bit.

  6. sir front all the time
    Posted August 8, 2006 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I appreciate this blatant smack talk. It makes us feel like Sir-front-all-the-time isn’t “keeping it real yo”. But audience, this “side dish” noise isn’t true. Why Mike, do you turn to cut and hate? We’re giving you fresher and more in perspective conversation.

  7. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 8, 2006 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Rest assured, dearest homies, it is not the game that I, in this instance, hate. It is the player, yo.

    So, Front, show me where that trick has worked for them. More importantly, show me why they should believe it will keep working, over and over again.

  8. Posted August 8, 2006 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I call bullshit on Mr. “Sony only sucks because they’re so AWESOMELY INNOVATIVE.”

    I am, I daresay, a bit of an early adopter myself. I’ve got an HD-DVD player, almost all the software on my PC has “Beta” in the version number, I bought an Xbox 360 within a month of launch, &c.

    As a tech-savvy early adopter type of person, one of the things I tend to look for is products that don’t suck. One of the things that defines sucking is ultra-proprietary bullshit; life on the leading edge doesn’t need to involve pain if you stay away from weird, doomed stuff. Sony doesn’t make it easy to do that — whether it be a portable music player that only plays ATRAC, cameras that only take Memory Stick, or their abortive attempt to make UMD a movie format — so they don’t appeal to the early adopter crowd.

    (Another part of sucking is actually sucking, maybe by using antique MPEG-2 codecs on your fancy Blu-Ray movies, so that they look noticeably inferior to the VC-1 encoded HD-DVDs…)

    About the only Sony products that aren’t total shit right now are their SXRD displays, which are insanely pricy, but very good.

  9. sir front all the time
    Posted August 9, 2006 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    sweet jesus, you are a marketers wet dream aren’t you!

    My point was never about specific products, formats or standards.

    Instead, I made the argument that Sony, like other companies, put forth the business philosophy of competition free profit margin pricing. By appealing mostly to a market segment who are actively leaning into those punches, by being seen as producing bleeding edge tech (whether they do or not) and by having well established that reputation, they seem to make it work. Even my father knows Sony is going to be “new” and “different”. That’s why, his grand kids, get presents like Mike’s crashing Sony flip video wheel hoohaa.

    If you’re “calling bullshit” ( and btw wtf cuz like OMG R U 8 ) on that because I’m defining Sony’s business model incorrectly then great, let’s hear it right. But, let’s talk on general market appeal and business model. Not on the “totally suckyness” your experience has been and how “totally format savvy you obviously are”. I can do without more geek narcissism personally.

    Mike Hoye, one very successful example you may have heard of before is a company called INTEL. I think the evidence between 1969 and 1979 is especially clear on how this “trick works” well for some at times.

    Others who employ this trick are immediately obvious too, as a business concept, I think this model goes pretty far back (60’s?). It isn’t new and they teach it in most business schools i’m sure.

    I daresay “self professingly savvy”, you don’t address the point of Sony’s corporate rationale at all IMHO, yo. But, we did learn a lot about your personal Sony likes and dislikes which is GREAT, too.

    SFATT

  10. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 9, 2006 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    There is almost nothing in there substantial enough to grab, let alone contest. Intel has gone ahead and just ignored the market’s established standards whenever it’s suited them? Please. “Sony is going to be new and different”… is that a reason, or an excuse?

    This isn’t “geek narcissism”; this is “ease of use”. It’s about having things like getting pictures out of my camera and into my computer be as trivially easy as it is with a $40, 2MP piece of crap camera. It’s about being able to keep using the cables and memory cards I’ve already bought. Yeah, I’ve got a few gigs of SD cards around; can I use them with my new camera? Not if it’s a Sony.

    You’re mistaking elitism for just not wanting everything to be an expensive pain in the ass.

    More to the point, how does any of that excuse deciding to re-fight, over and over again, a fight the market’s already picked the winner of? Ok, Sony innovated, and then the market decided something else was the way to go – do they have a big sign in the wall in the executive suite at Sony that says “Never, Ever Admit We Were Wrong”?

  11. sir front all the time
    Posted August 9, 2006 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Look up something called “Intel Corporation: 1968-1997″. (It’s a standard business school text, google away, it will cost you 3.50$ online if you want to read the whole thing)

    [... the story, in part, was about DRAM and Intel's strategy across four generations of DRAMS 1K, 2K, 4K and 16K which succeeded wildly by introducing products before the competition could react and in doing so commanded significant profits for the company over a 10 year period....]

    And this stuff you’re spouting back at me is totally geek narcissism! If you were sincere about that “ease of use” argument you’d be a mac and not a linux user for real, yo. But, am I mistaking your issues with Sony as a company for geek elitism…hrm… how much did this camera cost you Mike? Why didn’t you just flat out return it in the first place and get the $40 job in Chinatown? Would Sony repair have fixed their bug and would it have cost you more than then the original camera which was a gift? No, I think I got it spot on the first time.

    But let me be more to the point too, what is Sony’s mission then? (Let’s look it up shall we, I’m sure everyone has done so already)

    Core Values:

    Being a pioneer — not following others; doing the impossible

    Elevation of the Japanese culture and national status

    Encouraging individuality and creativity

    Core Purpose:

    To experience the sheer joy of innovation and the application of technology for the benefit and pleasure of the general public

    Mission Statement:

    Become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products.

    (That Mike, I did cut and paste!) ;)

    Your dad has this great expression “Boys, you can’t polish a turd”.

    It’s great advice, drop the geek whine and move on.

  12. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 9, 2006 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    The camera, and stay with me here, was a gift that I can’t return. This is covered in the paragraph at the very top of this page.

    Your Intel example is a complete and utter missing of the point. Intel has managed to innovate without breaking interoperability or deliberately choosing not to interoperate, which is what this is all about. The x86 instruction set still works fine. It’s not like they have their own proprietary USB plug that nobody else can use, or like you need to buy Intel-branded hard-drives or graphics cards if you buy an Intel processor. No, there are standards, and Intel follows them because that’s what’s best for Intel, and as a result I can plug a ten-year-old hard drive into a modern motherboard, and it will still work fine.

    Sony doesn’t follow standards. They just make shit up as they go along. And that’s fine if you’re building totally new markets around totally new products, but not if you’re competing in a well-occupied space. Digital cameras, removable memory and so forth, are well-occupied spaces.

    Honestly, I don’t know how you could possibly be coming down in favor of vendor lock-in. A big part of a product’s value is ease of use, and a big part of ease of use is ease of interoperability. And Sony makes interoperability extremely hard, whatever their mission statement says.

  13. sir front all the time
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    That’s funny, I think you’re missing the point too. I’m trying to explain the what and why of Sony and you can’t let go of the idea that all products in competition should be interoperable. The point, which I’m making is that Sony doesn’t need to follow others and be interoperable to sell products. That the market segment they target accepts this, that Sony manufactures with this in mind and oddly, this even lets Sony charge and receive a high premium for their product.

    And to say Sony doesn’t follow standards!? That just sounds like your nonsense to me.

    Pioneering and interoperability are words that don’t always have to get along. Open architectures and “doing the impossible” are also often at odds too. Your question was i think “Dear Sony, what the hell are you doing? Why?” And, I think I’ve given you a valid perspective for Sony’s business practice, and market philosophy. I’ve at least cut and paste for you their mission statements.

    You’re assuming however I’m pro Sony, I’m not. But, I’m interested by the rationale of their business model because it is alternative and still works.

    Finally and again, if you really believe that “easy of use” noise show me! Switch to mac. Then I’ll be more inclined to accept you aren’t just talking straight up trash for the sake of trash talk.

    Sir front all the time thinks you’ve forgotten how to keep it real! And it’s making me sad, you’re blarging over a nice gift which was kindly given to you after all. It deserved more respect than your whine about interoperability don’t you
    think.

  14. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    “The point which I’m making is that Sony doesn’t need to follow others and be interoperable to sell products.”

    Very well, I concede that they don’t have to. They also don’t have to create cameras that can both charge and communicate over USB at the same time. Nevertheless, the fact that they don’t is really irritating. I’m not saying, strictly, that Sony “doesn’t follow standards” – I’m saying that even when the market has clearly picked a winner, Sony insists on sticking with its own homebrew, which basically means you’ve got to drink the entire bucket of kool-aid if you want things to work together easily.

    This business model is not “alternative”. It is pure, straightforward vendor lock-in. It is a business model older than dirt. It works because they’re perceived as “lifestyle products”, not because they’re innovative. Memory sticks have no technical advantages over SDRam cards, but because Sony is (or, at least, is as lose as makes no difference to being) the sole supplier of them, it keeps them from being commodified, and as a result Sony’s captive audience is bled for more money, because that’s what vendor lock-in means.

    They interoperate just fine when there’s absolutely no other choice – that’s why you can plug a PlayStation into a non-Sony TV. But whenever they have the least bit of choice in the matter, they choose not to interoperate easily, which I regard, completely apart from Sony’s merits or success as a corporation, to be a huge pain in the ass.

    As for “ease of use” being the same as “switch to a mac”, well, if you think ease of use is a short-term decision, then good luck to you. I say it’s not. That’s one of the reasons that academics will write their papers in TeX, and that’s one of the reasons that I’m not buying a Mac.

  15. sir front all the time
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Wait every company that goes for vendor lock-in is successful like Sony? So why does it work in Sony’s case then? I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with being alternative in appeal, mandate or manufacturing structure. And clearly, this “pure” vendor lock-in model hasn’t brought any distinct margin of success to Sony either. Weird, no wait… it’s yeah that other thing again.

    Who lied to you that academics use Tex to write and submit papers?! They generally don’t!!! How many big journals can you name that ask you to submit a Tex file? Go ahead and google it if you can’t name any, I know I can’t. (the answer I guess is probably the journal of CS linux noodlers and this might be it)

    Finally you’re giving us, your fun and often “dancing bear” audience, the impression that Tex, being an open format i guess, is a big reason to not buy a mac in the long run. Not that I contest your ability, to argue a poor simpleton like sir front all the time blind, but what does Mac have to do with not being able to write a Tex document? NOTHING, and they are “easy to use” even when doing so.

  16. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Nature, strangely, is the only one I came up with that doesn’t. All the rest, I looked at (IEEE, anything math-related, Science) all take TeX. But I’m tired of repeating myself, and gave up Usenet for a reason. Let me sum up:

    • Lifestyle products shiny
    • Interoperability good
    • Walled-gardens bad
    • Ease-of-use important
    • Ease-of-interoperability more important
    • Ease-of-use and ease-of-interoperability orthogonal

    Thank you for your attention in this matter, I will return later in the day with an entirely new entry to discuss.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I call journal of math anything small potatoes. IEEE though i love those guys are linux noodlers by definition. The only big shocker to me was your claim that Science accepted Tex submissions! Our group has published there (it was a big deal for the authors)… wow, i never knew that cool… Mike is right…wait… this is Mike… I’d better check… he’s shifty you know…

    From science

    “Please do *not* send TeX or LaTeX files for your initial submission. Convert the files to PostScript or PDF instead. [Important: Screen legibility of the PostScript or PDF file is essential for rapid and thorough evaluation of your manuscript; please ensure that the .ps or .pdf file you generate from your TeX/LaTeX”

    If you read on they will tell you it will slow the process considerably if you send them Tex later on. If, and i mean if, you have ever submitted to science you might know that “will slow down the process” is code for this is a bad bad idea.

    Sir front all the time disappointed again by Mike. Sigh, sadder than ever cuz Mike not at all keeping it real anymore even for homeboy.

    Finally good summing up, I’m not sure you understand the concept of orthogonal but I enjoyed the usage. I think orthogonal in mathematics makes sense but in English it probably just means mutually independent? ease of use and use of interoperability need not be mutually independent in my mind. Perhaps CDs, USB, text (not TeX) files and mac computers are good examples of not so independent; where ease of use and ease of interoperability can come together.

    Wow, I disagreed with you a lot for once. Weird, it’s all usually one sided Mike.

    Anyways, I am excited for your next post, dizzy, silent, but excited!

  18. Melanie
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Journals in my neck of the scientific community definitely would not accept LaTeX submissions (except maybe some of the computational modeling ones, but even that I’m not sure of). Otherwise, I think I’m on Mike’s side for this one. The reason businesses don’t change their bad practices is because people don’t complain. Mike’s got every reason, and maybe a responsibility, to grumble about lack of compatibility with mainstream systems.

  19. sir front all the time
    Posted August 10, 2006 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mel, I’m saying for some it’s a “vive la difference!” strategy. For example, smart cars are not as compatible with the standard car parts but I think the people who buy into their philosophy appreciate the “off standard” design. Ipod connectors and music formats are very much not compatible with everything else and still I think they have a great and positive impact accentuated by their ipody qualities rooted in their format uniqueness. Google video is another example of deliberate incompatibility made popular and business responsible in many ways.

    Why begrudge Sony for employing their own style of uniqueness to say the Ipod connector / incompatible music format? As it happens I wish all of these products were more compatibility wise, ubiquitous too. However, I get the impression that a large measure of product integrity is maintained by the design of incompatible formats to ward off competition. And, in Sony’s case, as one interesting way of profit and product output quality assurance. That way when all the Sony devices are talking you look at the screen and go Wow great picture, listen to your ipod and think this sounds great and watch a google video without fear of it being a carrier of the plague.

    It’s not so weird a thought is it? Anyways it seemed entirely reasonable to me at the time.

  20. Mike Richters
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I own three Sony products: a 10-year-old Trinitron television, a VCR that I bought a few years ago, and a digital 8mm video camera. All of these products interoperate well with other devices as I need them to. I can even capture video from the camera using various programs on my Linux machine over a Firewire cable. Not all of Sony’s products suffer from proprietary exclusivity; some of them are quite standard, and these products are aimed at the majority of consumers, not just the early adopters. Sony may claim in their mission statements that they only care about the latter, but there really aren’t enough of them to produce the revenue that a company the size of Sony needs. Most of use just go to Best Buy, look at a few VCRs (or TVs, or whatever), recognize the name “Sony”, and buy it because we have the vague impression that they’re good.

    Second point: The camera that started this discussion sounds like junk. It was poorly designed, it uses inconvenient methods of communicating with other devices, and it doesn’t actually work. Only one of the three strikes me as typical of Sony products (poor interoperability).

    Third point: “Ease of use” != “Mac”. That depends on what types of things the user does with his computer, and what type of user he is. I have used MacOS, and Windows, and various Linux distributions. For me, and I suspect for Mike, MacOS is a poor substitute for Debian GNU/Linux when it comes to ease of use, though it has been getting a bit closer since it became UNIX.

    Fourth point: If I have written a paper in TeX, and a journal that I am submitting to requires it in PDF, it is trivial for me to convert it. Formats that journals accept is not an accurate way to determine the tools that are used to write scientific papers.

    If Sony wants to sell gadgets to people who covet shiny new baubles, and who have a surfeit of cash (and/or no fiscal restraint), so be it. It may even be working for them. Nevertheless, Mike’s diatribe (and I feel his pain) serves as a welcome warning to those of us who care about the quality of our products, rather than just their novelty.

  21. Mike Richters
    Posted August 11, 2006 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and for the anonymous party who didn’t understand Mike’s usage of the word orthogonal, the more recent meaning is derived from the mathematical term which refers to functions or vectors being linearly independent. It is now regularly used in describing to properties that are independent; one can be changed without affecting the other. Thus, Mike’s definition of “ease-of-use” does not include uses that require interoperability.

  22. sir front all the time
    Posted August 13, 2006 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Mike, cool. It’s just hard to get my head around orthogonal and complex multivariate functions that are most english words. I’m not used to thinking orthogonal can be applied to say “running” and “jumping”, where they both share the variable of “legs” and there is overlap, for example “bounding”. Similarly, it’s hard for me to see ease of use and interoperability as independent where they share the mixed variables of hardware and software. But murky as it is for me to “get”, I’m sure you’re right, thanks.

    On the mac thing… I thought mac had a freeBSD monster growing on the inside already? Though perverted, if we wanted, couldn’t we soon run linux by itself over a nicely integrated mac?

    Writing a paper or a thesis in Tex is noble work. But interoperability, ease and pdfs seem to be the way to go for most journals and students alike i think. My point was that Tex writing and pdf creation is no more tricky on a mac, so it’s not a great point to take against the mac users imo.

    Anywho, a curmudgeon like me will support any and all neat ideas even when the end product isn’t the “shiz” or even works half the time (like say all my etch boxes, how can even free things cost money or be crappy in parts… sigh, turns out time is money and it’s pretty easy).I believe there’s a good market philosophy and appeal in that none-the-less.

    Anyways, is Sony an indecent company? Looks like the popular opinion here might be yes, in general. I know of other companies that make lots of bad products and a few really good ones. These companies try to recover the cost of a bad design by selling it anyway and that is okay with me. That someone bought it is also okay with me, even when i’m the suka-mc.

    But, that a company, say Sony, tried (at some point) to actively be different I think is noble and cool.

  23. Mike Richters
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I would say that “running” and “jumping” are not appropriate subjects for description by the adjective “orthogonal”. “Running speed” and “jumping height” might be (as in “how fast can you run” and “how high can you jump”), even though those two things are almost certainly not orthogonal, since they both depend primarily on leg strength. A better example would be “quality of eyesight” and “finger dexterity”. s/orthogonal/independent/g

    As for the Mac thing, there are many small things that I find make it more difficult for me to use than my typical Debian (etch) machine, and only one of them has anything to do with hardware (I actually use all three mouse buttons, and would dearly love it if Logitech would make an optical three-button mouse, rather than one with that stupid wheel…). Come to think of it, that one-button mouse is a severe ease-of-use problem in my case, and would, in fact, make things like web browsing and cutting/pasting text more difficult.

    As for writing papers in TeX, it occurs to me that a journal would not write in their submission guidelines “do not submit papers in TeX” if people didn’t attempt just that. And I’m not an expert, but I don’t know of a way of creating a PDF document from scratch; I just convert other formats to PDF when someone wants a PDF.

    As for Sony, I have no particular feelings for the company. In my experience, their products tend to be a bit over-priced (or sometimes very over-priced), but of generally good quality. Apparently they also make some stuff that’s real crap, and the interoperability issues that irritated Mike so much would also irritate me. In fact, I detect little difference between Sony and its competitors, despite what their marketing department would have me believe. Caveat emptor.

  24. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 14, 2006 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    You people are nuts. Draw two lines on a piece of paper that are orthogonal. They may meet, but if they do, they only meet at one point. Which is to say, they might be related in some cases, but that is only a coincidence, not an indication that they’re the same thing.

    As a further piece of random data, I have gone to the Sony Store and asked them if they could sell me a cable, rather than a docking station, that would plug into the camera at one end and a USB or Firewire port on the other. I was told such a product does not and would never exist.

  25. sir no front
    Posted August 15, 2006 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    yes, but it’s the good kind of silly for some.

    Oh fine, now Sony has gone TOO FAR! Those evil Japanese and their let us ruin Mike’s good mood! I’m with you now buddy… those evil robots must die!

    I hate evil robots.

  26. Mike Hoye
    Posted August 15, 2006 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    You build evil robots.

  27. Posted August 15, 2006 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    Also, apparently now Sony is trying to BLOW UP MY DELL LAPTOP.

  28. sir front all the time
    Posted August 18, 2006 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of evil robots I think you and I need to race a couple of those evil things around again soon.

    Mike K yeah, but I don’t blame them for that. ^_^