Friday, August 21, 2009

Why is Seattle still hating on Oklahoma City?

It was right at a year ago that an Oklahoma City investor group headed up by Clay Bennett ended a months-long struggle to move the hapless Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise to the comfy confines of a new home in Bennett's home town. And, as the now-renamed Oklahoma City Thunder head toward the early stages of their 2nd season, it appears some folks in Seattle are still holding a grudge.

First, it was apparently Thunder player Nick Collison who indirectly let the rest of his Twitter-following world know he wasn't crazy about his new professional home. That can be forgiven, possibly, because no one is every truly delighted at the prospect of being uprooted from their hometown by job mandates. Yet the e-warfare finally drew in Oklahoma City radio talk show host (and former Major League Baseballer) Jim Traber, who called Collison out for his apparent "anti-Oklahoma City" attitude. Traber's position was pretty simple - if you don't like Oklahoma City, stay in Seattle. After some pointed on-air volleys, Collison joined Traber on his afternoon talk show, and while the two probably won't be doing lunch anytime soon, the two found some peace, and supposedly that part of the feud has ended.

That might be considered only a minor skirmish, but now its spilling over to the broader media. An ESPN writer by the name of Bill Simmons, in a manner that could only be deemed as slightly more mature than that of the first graders my wife teaches, refuses to refer to Oklahoma City by name when discussing the Thunder - as if each omitted word somehow pierced Oklahoma City to its very heart - assuming more than 5% of the population even knew who Simmons was. They know him now, because that same Jim Traber has taken him to task for his pettiness. And who can blame him? Oklahoma City doesn't owe anyone any apologies for now serving as host to the NBA in contrast to a city that expressed its utter disinterest over a broad period of years.

Worst of all, now, is a Seattle sports radio host by the name of Dave "Softy" Mahler who took carefully edited snippets of the Traber-Collison interview and decided to make Traber the foil for all of Oklahoma City, and apparently incited dozens of people to send profanity-laced email tirades to Traber about, well, everything..from the general hick level of most Oklahomans, to a variety of topics that couldn't be repeated on air. Traber is now encouraging his own radio entourage to follow suit, minus the profanity, to convey a bit about Oklahoma City back to ol Softy. (Note: After this was published, Mahler responded to me and indicated his remarks and disdain were more generally directed towards Traber specifically rather than Oklahoma City in general. Fair enough...)

All of this brings up a simple question. Why does the city of Seattle, famous, world-known, coffee-drinking, hyper-elite Seattle, still harboring ill-will toward Oklahoma? No one in Oklahoma City held a gun to the head of the then-Sonics ownership to sell. No one stopped Seattle from building a half-decent facility to host the Sonics. And what about all those fans at latter-day Sonics games that showed up dressed as empty seats? Ultimately, if Seattle didn't want the Sonics, that's fine.

Oklahoma City did.

Put simply, in the battle for the NBA, Seattle lost, and Oklahoma City won. Oklahoma City owes Seattle no apologies, and Seattle's false erudition and own personal offense at having lost their not-so-beloved NBA franchise to a less-cosmopolitan Midwestern town shows more of their own personal bigotry and bias than anything else. And that's to Seattle's shame.

Power to ya, Jim Traber.

As for you, Seattle...I think its time you just got over it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No Sense UI for the myTouch? In a word, RATS...

When Charlie Brown let loose a home run pitch, the last-frame scream from his mouth was always "RATS."

It's also what came to MY mind when I read that, barring some miraculous intervention, the grand new Sense UI for Android phones being released by HTC will NOT be available for Google-branded T-Mobile phones in the US.

I've heard a variety of rumors on why this is the (unfortunate) case, ranging from T-Mobile interference to legal/licensing entanglements with Google.

And that makes no sense.

The worst thing that could happen to Android is for uneven development and deployment to occur, implying whole classes of devices don't get access to the same or similar breadth of features purely for non-technical reasons. If Google asked me (and they didn't), I'd be in their face making sure the reasons for this particular snafu had nothing to do with them. Google should do everything it can to get the very best face on Android-specific development out to the world just as fast as it possibly can, legal obstacles be darned.

Android has a real chance to pivot itself into serious relevance as a new-generation development platform - if Google, carriers, and phone makers can stay the heck out of the way.

Sadly, whether they can remains to be seen.

Google, are you listening?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Great New T-Mobile myTouch

I suppose it goes against the grain to admit that I, a tech geek by just about any measure, have not found myself caught up in PDA/Cellphone/iPhone mania. I found the iPhone to be ludicrously overblown, a monument to the extremes of trendy excess, and surely wasn't going to be stuck with the Evil Empire for a data and voice plan for months on end just to be contemporary. Ultimately, I didn't care about being trendy.

Until now.

When my wife finally concluded that her (way too) old Nokia phone's antenna was capable of receiving service only when within 25 inches of a cell phone tower, it as time for a new phone.

And it was then I heard about the successor to the clunky but loveable "GooglePhone," the myTouch 3G - known to the rest of the world as the HTC Magic. After reading and musing over the costs of the phone and the data plan, I gave in to technical whimsy.

And I'm glad I did.

The myTouch, which is a horrible name for a phone, probably because it has the word "touch" in it, is one marvelous piece of technical goodness. No, it probably isn't as sexy as the iPhone (which is fine with me), but does give me a 21st century cellphone without a penny of my income going anywhere near ATT.

My "merlot" (advertising jargon for "dark red") myTouch suits me to a tee, for several reasons.

1. It's Google-written Android OS is Linux based. I've just about come to think everything electronic ought to have Linux somewhere involved, even just for good luck - and I don't even believe in luck.
2. It's got absoltely nothing in it from Microsoft.
3. The Android OS community is practically begging developers to join their bandwagon. As soon as I can sort out the details of the Eclipse IDE and the Android SDK plug-in, I'm there.
4. It just plain works. While standing in one store that was sold out of an item my wife needed, I used the voice search to find a different store, and the weblink it prsented gave me a phone number - which my myTouch happily dialed for me.
5. I didn't spend one penny on ringtones or wallpaper. I grabbed existing mp3's and jpegs, copied them to my myTouch's SD card, and turned them into a ringtone and wallpaper.
6. Android is new. It is entering uncharted water, where I haven't been technically in a long time..yeah, its a risk, but so long as Google is behind it, I figure its future is pretty darned bright.
7. Android's gaps are a roadmap to its future. In its youthful stage, Android is a little rough around the edges. It needs to flush out better support for streaming media sources - unfortunately, including some Windows Media formats. It needs a native Voice Recorder application to accompany its great voice-enabled search capability. It needs to continue to evolve in conserving power and extending battery life. The beauty, however, is that all of these things are obvious, and in my mind, just about inevitable.
8. Android is beholden to no one. It does not aspire to be the Polo Shirt and Yuppie toy that the iPhone is. It does not aspire to emulate the anachronistic Windows Mobile social orphan. It is not confined to the constructs of a phone; its future is as broad as the imaginations of those who realize its potential.
9. Android reeks of Geek Cool. If you understand that, you get it. If you don't, well, never mind.
10. The only things my Android is missing are virtually sure to arrive.. Support for Windows streaming media formats, and a built-in FM radio receiver. But those, I suspect, will come in time...

And time, for today, is out....