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  • Newsletter Issue #390

    May 20th, 2007

    THIS WEEK’S TECH NIGHT OWL RADIO UPDATE

    You know, it’s been a pretty easy ride for us when it comes to our Internet domains and our sites. Over the years, I’ve worked with some pretty solid companies, overall, to manage things, and some very talented people have offered their services to make the sites look good and efficient. Especially the latter, since a fancy look and feel may work against delivering speedy page display.

    However, as I’ve already said, the Internet still has far too much of a wild west atmosphere. That issue was again discussed this week on The Tech Night Owl LIVE.

    On our latest all-star episode, we brought you up to date on the massive failure of a major registrar of Internet domain names with Justin from Registerflies.com, which has followed the soap opera surrounding RegisterFly. You can’t believe how badly some businesses have been hurt by that debacle, which, as of this writing, still hasn’t quite been resolved, despite the promise of an early solution.

    In another segment of the show, Macworld Senior Editor and gaming guru Peter Cohen brought us up to date on the latest news and views from the Mac universe. Among the subjects he dealt with is why there aren’t more games available for the Mac OS.

    You’ll also learned all about the latest version of the Night Owl’s favorite fax application, PageSender, from Greg Scown, co-founder of SmileOnMyMac.

    On this week’s episode of The Paracast, we are joined by UFO researcher and artist Tommy Allison, who recounts some of his own sightings and the troubled aftermath of his attempts to produce a forensic reconstruction based on the controversial Starchild skull.

    Indeed, that whole episode of artistic recreation turned out unexpectedly for all concerned. But you’ll have to listen to the show itself to learn more.

    As far as the show itself is concerned, We get reviews. Lots and lots of reviews, in fact. Some folks love us, some folks hate us because we refuse to serve as cheerleaders for every single silly paranormal claim.

    Indeed, it is hard to take a middle-of-the-road approach to this subject, and avoid the extremism that infects both sides. You see, we’re not necessarily married to a particular point of view, but David and I do believe that an awful lot of strange things are indeed going on.

    In fact, David has already described some of his own incredible experiences on The Paracast, and you know he’s mystified by it all.

    So where do we go from here? Well, we do hope we can continue to provide some illumination on the strange and the unknown, and we hope you listeners appreciate our no-nonsense approach to the subject.

    THE CONSEQUENCES OF POSTING FAKE STORIES

    When someone writes about “the good old days,” it ages them. It means they’ve been around long enough to have survived another era. For me, I still remember when you couldn’t get away with one-tenth of the nonsense that has become the stock and trade of today’s shock jocks, but when it comes to yellow journalism, that’s existed for ages.

    But the most damaging episode of the past week didn’t come from a news source with a reputation with gossip above facts. In fact, Engadget is supposed to be a pretty responsible information source, so when they published a story about the possibility of major delays in the delivery of the iPhone and Mac OS X Leopard, people listened and believed.

    Indeed, Apple’s stock price took nosedive, losing a billions of dollars in value in the space of just a few minutes, as the news spread to the ends of the planet. Or at least those portions of the planet where investors cared about such things.

    The story allegedly emerged from a source inside Apple, and apparently looked authentic enough to elude Engadget’s fact checkers, so they published the report, and all hell followed!

    In the end, it turned out that the letter was a malicious prank, but one faked convincingly enough so that it seemed to have been sent via Apple’s own mail servers. Of course, online crackers can do most anything Internet headers, so it often takes someone really savvy such things to separate the fake from the real.

    Fortunately, the erroneous information was quickly corrected. Apple PR announced that there were, in fact, no delays at all, and Apple’s stock price recovered appropriately, again approaching and surpassing the $110 per share plateau by the end of the week. In passing, you have to wonder just how far it’s going to grow before Apple’s board of directors decides to split the stock. Or maybe they’ll just follow Google’s example and let it reach the stars and beyond.

    Now I am sure that the editors of lots of tech news outlets are going to be reviewing their editorial process carefully in the wake of this near-disaster. You see, and now we get back to those good old days all over again, in the era when print was king, you often had hours in which to do your fact checking before a story was published. Sure, a few sacrifices might be made if the presses are about ready to roll, but otherwise, there was adequate opportunity to kill or correct a false story before it was published.

    Today, you have the Internet and instant gratification. If a story turns out to be wrong, you can quickly make your corrections in a fast update. Take this site, for example. I have a few readers who carefully comb every single word of my peerless prose to find errors. Since I don’t have a staff of copy editors at my beck and call, I value their efforts, since you can’t really proofread your own work. Corrections are easy to make, but usually they are so minor, little harm is done, unless spelling and grammar lapses upset you.

    However, when it comes to information that can potentially hurt a large company and its investors, there is the never-ending need for extreme caution. As you saw in this particularly nasty affair, nervous investors pulled the chair out from under the stock price in the space of minutes, all from a single story.

    I suppose you can say no real harm was done, since the price soon recovered and increased. But I wonder about the motives behind this peculiarly nasty prank. Did someone plant the story, hoping to make some huge gains from the rapid fluctuations in Apple’s stock price. Did that multibillion dollar decline mean hundreds of millions of dollars lining the pockets of some investors who bought the stock at a lower price and quickly unloaded it when it returned to its original level?

    Surely, some laws may have been broken here, and I hope and trust the SEC will figure out who was responsible and make sure they are forced to give back their ill-gotten gains and perhaps pay the appropriate fines. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the offenders are located offshore somewhere and will never be caught.

    I also hope this all turns out to be a learning experience. Next time a rumor of this sort appears, tech news sites may not be so quick to jump upon it in order to get a scoop!

    THE TECH NIGHT OWL: BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: THIS DELL PRODUCT REALLY EXCELS

    Night Owl Rating: ★★★★★
    Pros: Superb picture; easy setup; four USB ports and card reader.
    Cons:
    Industrial look might not appeal to the interior designers in our audience.

    It’s very easy to voice knee-jerk reactions about a company. Dell, for example, must be bad because they sell tens of millions of cheap PCs that, by the way, happen to occupy the desktops of lots of businesses, including banks and hospitals.

    Indeed, Dell has gotten its share of criticism of late because of its recent growing pains. But I’m not so much concerned about the intricacies of running a huge corporation as am about its products. And, to be perfectly honest, Dell makes excellent displays. They may not be as pretty as the ones you buy from Apple, but they are usually a lot cheaper, and provide equal or better picture quality.

    Last year, for example, Dell sent me one of their 24-inch UltraSharp 2407WFP displays. I had planned to compare it to Apple’s 23-inch HD Cinema Display and comparable models from several other manufacturers. But it never quite came to be, because products were in a constant state of flux, PR agencies were in the process of changing, so finally I decided enough was enough.

    My preliminary report comparing the Apple to the Dell appeared last summer, in Issue #350 of this newsletter. Since then, prices have been lowered for both displays. But while Apple fetches $899 for theirs, the Dell is now priced at $569

    So what is Apple giving you for $330 extra besides a prettier case?

    Well, that and a FireWire port, I suppose. But that’s really it. After living with the Dell 2407WFP for all these months, I can tell you that it provides a superior picture, particularly in the mid-tones, and the extra inch of screen real estate is the icing on the cake, because it makes small text just a tad larger. That can mean the difference between reading something comfortably with one’s aging eyes, or straining just a little too much.

    To be sure, Dell has clearly anticipated the fact that Mac content creators have happily embraced its displays. The setup menu includes a custom setting for Mac gamma. But that’s half the loaf. You also need to go to the Appearance Preference panel in System Preferences and choose the “Medium” setting for font smoothing. Mac OS X doesn’t seem to recognize the Dell properly when you choose the default Automatic setting, so text may strike you as a tad light until the setting is corrected.

    Evidently Steve Jobs and Michael Dell need to get together and have a friendly chat about this anomaly. But, seriously, the Dell strikes me as an incredible bargain, one of the best deals you’re likely to find in a display anywhere.

    In addition to great color, you get a wide viewing angle and consistent brightness from end to end, which is something not all displays can deliver. What’s more, the Dell reproduces high definition movie trailers beautifully, without noticeable artifacts. That’s indicative of a super-fast response time, a characteristic extremely important for a top-flight LCD display.

    Dell provides a few wrinkles that Apple doesn’t, such as four USB 2.0 ports, compared to just two on the Apple display. In addition, there’s a card reader, something that’s common in the PC universe, but has been lacking so far on the Mac platform.

    While some of you might object to a positive review for hardware that didn’t come from Apple, I regard their display line as overpriced, and sadly in need of an upgrade. I’m also sure that you have better things to do with $330 than waste your hard-earned money on looks alone.

    In short, the Dell 2407WFP is a winner in nearly every respect for both home and business users. And it’s also relatively inexpensive for such an imposing device, making it a wonderful bargain too.

    THE FINAL WORD

    The Tech Night Owl Newsletter is a weekly information service of Making The Impossible, Inc.

    Publisher/Editor: Gene Steinberg
    Managing Editor: Grayson Steinberg
    Marketing and Public Relations: Barbara Kaplan
    Worldwide Licensing and Marketing: Sharon Jarvis



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    5 Responses to “Newsletter Issue #390”

    1. […] Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter. […]

    2. Dan Kinoy says:

      Gene –
      This panel has a 6ms response time according to this cnet review:
      http://reviews.cnet.com/lcd-monitors/dell-ultrasharp-2407wfp/4505-3174_7-31899303.html

      I have read elsewhere that fast response times like this may be a tipoff that the LCD in question is actually 6 and not 8 bit (the controversy du jour). Is there some way to track down the screen’s supplier’s part number and discover for sure? I have an inexpensive Samsung SyncMaster 730b for instance, and it appears to be of the 6 bit variety (not certain, but that’s the way the clues are trending).

      And what Apple screen do we absolutely know is 8-bit? I thought I’d wander over to the local Apple dealer and make a comparison.

      Dan Kinoy
      (Not about to throw either my Samsung LCD or Macbook overboard anyway)

    3. Larsa says:

      I ran my iMac side by side with a Dell 24 monitor. The iMac won, hands down. See for your self at http://www.flickr.com/photos/larsa/259699384/

    4. I ran my iMac side by side with a Dell 24 monitor. The iMac won, hands down. See for your self at http://www.flickr.com/photos/larsa/259699384/

      In order for this comparison to be done properly, you must make sure you use the color calibration tool in the Displays preference panel to tweak the color and brightness. All I see from your comparison is that the iMac’s brightness setting is higher, which proves nothing. The Dell has a brightness control, and, in fact, a lot of basic controls with which to adjust the panel. You should also make sure that you choose the Mac gamma as opposed to the PC gamma, and select the Medium option in the Appearance preference panel.

      In short, I do not think your photo shows anything but two displays adjusted differently.

      Peace,
      Gene

    5. I just wonder here whether or not this whole 6-bit versus 8-bit thing is a red herring for the lawyers to fiddle with and nothing for the rest of us to concern ourselves about.

      Peace,
      Gene

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