Friday, February 29, 2008

Another possible reason you can't rent HD movies from iTunes to a computer

In AnandTech's article on Apple’s 45nm Refresh: New MacBook & MacBook Pro, I found a statement extremely interesting:

The Mobile GM45/47 chipsets are an integral part of Montevina and will feature the new GMA X4500HD graphics core. The X4500HD will add full hardware H.264 decode acceleration, so Apple could begin shipping MacBook Pros with Blu-ray drives after the Montevina upgrade without them being a futile addition. With full hardware H.264 decode acceleration your CPU.

Could Apple be waiting on a refreshed hardware platform from Intel before releasing HD movie downloads from iTunes to computers with this stuff? When H.264 encode/decode goes off-CPU for all computers, then the battery drain while be manageable. I might hold off purchasing a new Mac until this happens.

Tip: Open the main menu from anywhere on Apple TV 2.0

When Apple TV was upgraded to 2.0, a completely new main navigation menu replaced the 1.0 style list, though those lists still exist in some places. I stumbled on this little trick, ff you hold down the menu button on the remote for a few seconds (maybe 2), then the main menu will fly in no matter how deep you are in the navigation, which can get really deep when looking at movie rentals.

The remote trick/shortcut makes it obvious now why Apple went with this floating navigation menu. One of the tremendous problems I have with Xbox Live from an end-user standpoint is that you are always going back from somewhere to reset to home. Apple TV 1.0 didn't really suffer from the depth problem because you where always only 2-3 levels deep. With Apple TV 2.0, you can always get home at anytime, and still see where you currently are faded out behind the menu. If you want to stay where you are, you can click the menu button again. Simple, and a great example of a reason to rethink your UI if original assumptions are no longer true

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Microsoft made the Vista "experience" bad on purpose to help Intel sell older chipsets

I wasn't really paying attention to the Vista Capable lawsuit as it had no effect on me, but this article popped up on the radar this morning, and there is some pretty damning email trails from MS execs, including this shocker:
we lowered the requirement to help Intel make their quarterly earnings so they could continue to sell motherboards with the 915 graphics embedded

You can read through the whole article, but Engadget has a good summary.

One word version: damning.

Dear PayPal, Safari Isn’t The Security Problem

After I read that PayPal says don't use Safari (via MacCentral), I thought about clueing them in that users don't know about EV certificates, and most of the anit-phishing stuff is annoying, but Jeremiah has done it for me. These extremely subtle pieces of chrome around the actual pages are just one more things users ignore. I have turned off the anit-phising in IE, and I didn't even know/remember that a green address bar meant that EV certificates where being used, but maybe I am a stupid user :-). One thing I want to call out though in Jeremiah's post is that he says technical solutions are most likely not the answer, but then says as long as it's part of his DNS (which is a link to OpenDNS, then its OK). OpenDNS sounds like a really cool idea, but you know it blocks phishing sites, which is a technological solution:
OpenDNS protects millions of people a day across hundreds of thousands of schools, businesses and homes. We block phishing sites, give you the power to filter out adult sites and proxies among more than 40 categories, and provide the precision to block individual domains.

This sounds like a better solution than anti-phishing that is application specific, and of course it would obviate the need for anti-phishing in Safari.

iPhone SDK: Enterprise Development Coming?

The prevailing sentiment seems to be that the presence of the word enterprise in the iPhone SDK unveiling meeting Thursday March 6th means that Apple is taking a RIMshot. While that may be true, I think it at least equally likely that, since we are talking about an SDK, and the details haven't leaked, it could mean that development for the SDK is coming to Windows and Visual Studio. I know, sounds crazy, why wouldn't Apple use the iPhone SDK as leverage to guarantee new Xcode and Mac OS X developers? A developer halo? They may, but they may also be thinking that they sacrifice exclusive development on Mac OS X to accelerate and increase iPhone OS X adoption by making the SDK available on Windows. They ported Safari to Windows for iPhone Web app testing, so there is some precedent. Could Xcode be coming to Windows? Seems like if that's the case, Cocoa is only a stones through from being fully ported and supported on Windows as a development runtime. This of course may all be entirely wrong, and enterprise only means integration with Notes and Exchange, but Apple likes to surprise, and it's fun to speculate. If this is even half right, I will look like a genius ;-), and I have absolutely no insider information.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New HD Format War: Downloads via iTunes Movies Rentals with Apple TV 2.0 vs. Blu-ray

If you haven't seen the Macworld 2008 keynote (extended demo?), or the Apple TV Guided Tour, please do so before you keep reading. It has been a few weeks now that I have spent with iTunes Store movie rentals on both Apple TV 2.0 and on the Mac/PC. Before I really start making my case, I thought it highly interesting to look at the following timeline (inspired by Keith Olbermann's Bush Administration Terror and Polictics timeline):
I don't think I missed anything in the HD format war timeline. Make no mistake the HD format war continues, but it has shifted to downloads vs. Blu-ray discs. When I look at this timeline, a few possibilities emerge about what went on behind the scenes:
  • Warner's was paid off (by some amount, not necessarily the rumored $400m) by Sony to end the HD physical media format war
  • Warner's looked at their 2007 HD physical media sales data and sees Blu-ray always outselling HD DVD, decides to stop supporting HD DVD
  • Studios know that digital downloads are the future anyway, agree to start supplying Apple with content that most every other digital download supplier has
  • Warners in particular know that digital downloads are the future, Apple TV 2.0 might just have this right, better consolidate on a single HD physical media format as a hedge against iTunes
  • All of the above
Seems pretty clear to me that HD movie rentals on iTunes, in particular Apple TV, are going to be very successful. They have a high probability of marginalizing Blu-ray, but overall won't be wildly successful because there are still a bunch of limitations imposed by Hollywood on legal movie downloads. Once these restrictions are lifted, I think you can say goodbye to Blu-ray, joining HD DVD in the dead HD format graveyard.

iTunes to Hollywood: You're holding me back
Hollywood is afraid of cannibalizing DVD sales, and likes a lot how expensive Blu-ray discs are. The restrictions Hollywood is imposing on every legal movie download service only serve to reinforce pirating. They don't protect sales, I believe they actually have and will continue to cause the erosion of total sales. A lot of people have already decided they want to go digital, they have stopped or curtailed buying physical discs (DVD or HD anything), but no legal download service has been implemented that has done it totally right because Hollywood isn't letting it happen. The only place to turn for a lot of people when a business won't provide you product you want is piracy. The iTunes Store is the closest among all the services to getting it right, but Hollywood needs to take the shackles off Apple to let legal digital video distribution soar. With both Sony and Toshiba bribing studios at various times to exclusively support their HD format, will Apple use some of its $18 billion cash hoard to swing some studios exclusively to their camp and start eliminating the following restrictions:
  1. 24 hours is just too short. Jeff McManus calls me out as one of the twelve people who bought an Apple TV when they first came out. It's true of course, I have been championing the capability, the potential, of a device like Apple TV since before it came out and after I started using it. It has been great for watching movies my son likes over and over again because no one has to touch physical media. However, I have not been shy about pointing out my experiences and the flaws in Apple's video strategy.. This issue is no different. The 24 hour rule is just stupid, brain dead, as if no one has actually tried to use any service that has this rule in place already and realized there is a high consumer burn rate. It's dumb on Xbox Live, its dumb on Patriot Media (my cable provider), and it's dumb on iTunes. Jeff links to The 27 Hour rule, which easily solves the issue. Pre Apple TV 2.0, I rented Pirates of the Caribbean 3 in HD from Xbox Live. It expired because I started it on Sat. night, stuff happened, and I couldn't get to it on Sunday. This is going to be the biggest inhibitor to the service and Apple TV being extremely successful. The fact that on Apple TV you can watch something past the 24 hour window seems like a small attempt on Apple's part to let you watch a movie you have paid for, but it's a cop-out because this is totally undocumented.
  2. You can only rent HD movies from Apple TV 2.0, not to your computer. The only reason I can conceive of for Apple not allowing this is because normal user's might be confused as to why the HD copy of the movie won't transfer to their iPod or iPhone. Understandable, but give renters the option because a lot of people would love to watch in HD on their computers
  3. Still no DVD ripping. I know, legal implications and all that, but this is pretty simple. I have the CPU power and the hard drive space to do this, make it happen through iTunes. I can't chuck my DVD player for Apple TV, like I could the CD player once the iPod came out, until this happens. Either allow this, or Apple should just add a DVD player to Apple TV
  4. Rentals aren't available until 30 days after DVD release. Once again, the studios won't let consumers decide the market, they continue to try to prop up the old way of doing things, buying little slivers of plastic with bits, instead of letting consumers that want to, just download the bits. Seriously though, if I haven't gone to a theater to see a movie, and waited the 3-6 months from theatrical release, what makes a studio head think I won't wait 30 more days. You really have to have you your head in the sand to not realize most people won't care, or the ones that do are not going to buy a disc, they are going to steal your movie. Studios, you are only hurting yourselves.
  5. You can buy that movie, rent this movie, buy or rent this movie, sometimes only in SD, sometimes only in HD, and sometimes in bothWhen you need a matrix to figure out how to rent or buy content, you know it's not going to be wildly successful. When the iTunes Store was called the iTunes Music Store, the terms were relatively simple and straightforward, and sales exploded. Hollywood needs to get it's head out of the sand on this, but Apple is also to blame. 5.x generation iPods can't play rentals, for reasons unknown, but that was a huge chunk of the iPod market that can't rent, but can buy.
The Competition
AppleInsider has a good matrix of how Apple TV with iTunes Movie Rentals stacks up to the competition feature wise. The more important point though then the feature matrix I think is AppleInsider's cost comparison. Looking at the costs, if you go the Netflix subscription with a PS3, then Blu-ray is the cheaper option for HD rentals than Apple TV. However, the same problems you have with Netflix continue in this model:
  • You have to spend time managing a queue to increase the chance you get the movie you want when you want
  • You have to wait on delivery in the mail from Netflix
  • You are paying a subscription (which I dislike when they can be avoided) no matter what
So for HD rentals, I think Apple TV is the right mix of cost and convenience. What if you want to buy HD movies? Live Free or Die Hard Blu-ray on Amazon is listed as $39.98! It's on sale for $24.95. Purchase on HD media is way overpriced, that's 5x more expensive than a rental, insane. I have bought a few HD-DVD discs when I was, uh, being very stupid. Now I can rent Live Free or Die Hard in HD from iTunes on Apple TV for $4.99. My local Blockbuster store just added Blu-Ray rentals, and those are $4.99 as well. But there is no way the visual difference between 1080p and 720p and extra features (that I won't have time to watch) would justify me driving to Blockbuster and not using Apple TV. I don't think I am ever driving to Blockbuster again. Sure, I have to finish something from Apple TV in 24 hours which is a significant hurdle sometimes, but that or driving out to the store, I am not picking driving.

Ah, my cable company
They have been getting the bulk of my video on demand dollars unless they didn't have something I wanted to watch and Xbox Live did. But no more. I hate my cable box/DVR, the interface is some Motorola crapfest that works slowly, or just plan incorrectly, doesn't even use a widescreen layout on my HDTV, and is almost entirely text based. The new Apple TV UI (see the guided tour) uses the whole width of your HDTV and shows you actual posters to help you pick a movie you want to watch, what a concept! However, Apple TV still has the 5-15 minute stream queue time that Xbox Live does, though Apple TV is better about it not telling you the download is ready when it isn't. The Moto cable box works well once you have found something you want to watch, but it's pain until you do. Prices are the same though.

Xbox Live
I am just going to quote a comment I made on Scott Hanselman's blog:
This is so easy, I mean I know you work for MS now, but Xbox Live is only competitive on the surface. Renting any movie on Apple TV will be much simpler than renting them on Xbox 360. The blade interface is simply horrible by comparison to what the new Apple TV interface is. It will take more clicks of the Xbox remote or the controller to actually get to rent anything than with Apple TV. On the 360 you have to browse for something, the Apple TV has search. No MS Points, no loans of fractional dollars to a multi-billon company, you buy in dollars and pay in dollars (or whatever your local currency is when that comes online). Movie previews that don't suck, even with the latest Xbox software update, the movies previews are simply horrendous compared to what the Apple TV already offers. Rentals from Apple TV will have real chapters comparable to DVDs, not the time based division that all rentals I have seen from Xbox Live have. Apple will never remove content from iTunes, it's there forever. Pirates 3 expires from Xbox Live in May I believe. Apple TV is silent, Xbox 360 sounds like a low power hairdryer. Xbox HD rentals are a little more expensive than Apple TV, unless I have messed up my MS Point to dollars conversion again. The only "advantage" is the the 360 plays games, but I don't think it's wise to rely on the 360 for too much besides games since it's so fragile. Everyone I know, except for me, has had their 360 die, some more than once.
I may still get a PS3, actually now that the Metal Gear Solid 4, DualShock 3, 80 GB Playstation 3 bundle for $499 in June has been announced, that is looking like a pretty sweet deal. But I would get the PS3 as a game machine first, and as an upscaling DVD and Blu-ray player second, or maybe hardly at all. I mean, having a physical disc player still makes a good target for birthdays/holidays for the parental units to buy something for, they don't know or understand how to gift through iTunes. I can't see myself buying Blu-ray movies though at current prices, the price is wrong Bob.

Monday, February 25, 2008

F***ing Ben Affleck

The funniest thing Jimmy Kimmel has ever done, trumping F***ing Matt Damon

Thursday, February 21, 2008

MacRumors, stop publishing actual news

I have had it with sites named for a specific purpose, in this case
RUMORS about Macs/Apple, that post off name. I expect to read about iTunes
7.6.1 from MacCentral or MacDailyNews. When I click on MacRumors in
NetNewsWire, I expect a rumor, a new iTunes release is a fact. Stop
clogging up my feed reader with reality when I want dirt.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Selling Some New Items on eBay

Just posted a few items on eBay that some might be interested in:

How to choose your development Windows OS

For Windows development, the decision about which OS is pretty simple on the surface:
  • If you are developing a Windows client application, develop on the client OS release that the majority of your users are using (most likely Windows XP)
  • If you are developing an ASP.NET application, you should be developing on Windows Server, whichever release matches your deployment environment

Why do I recommend this approach? Pretty simple, as you develop you are testing your application, and my rule of thumb is develop on what you deploy to. This sounds easy on the surface, but is pretty hard in practice when you consider the configuration of the deployment environment, and how much control you have over it. Given the number of variables involved, making this choice correctly can help reduce deployment/environment bugs.

The ASP.NET case and Windows Server Case
If you're an ASP.NET developer, the choice to use Windows Server 2003 (staying on current/older Windows OSes for a minute) should be brain dead simple. Windows XP comes with IIS 5.x, Windows Server 2003 comes with the significantly different IIS 6, which is what you are going to deploy to. The IIS versions are different enough that you are not going to be able to debug deployment problems, or even tell someone how to properly configure your ASP.NET app, if you don't have Windows Server 2003 handy, and having it as your development OS is that much easier.

Configuring Windows Server for workstation use
You have to remember though that since it's Windows Server, the default configuration is designed to favor background processes and to have stuff turned off that is only important for a workstation OS, but you might want to make some changes for a better user experience. I am actually a bit conflicted about this. On the one hand, if you modify the default configuration to make it more workstation-y, you are straying from the most likely deployment target. On the other hand, you probably get a better user experience by tuning Windows Server a bit. Windows Server 2008 is just making it out of the womb. I haven't installed it anywhere yet, but MS blogger Vijayshinva Karnure has some tips for Using Windows Server 2008 as a SUPER workstation OS. I wouldn't recommend using Windows Server as a general purpose OS for consumers, a bunch of stuff is bound to act weird, mostly installers not looking for Windows Server, but I can see the rational of starting with a limited configuration and adding onto it with Windows Server as opposed to either Windows XP or Windows Vista, where the onus is still on the user to turn stuff off.

For Windows Server 2003, I have a few additional recommendations to make the experience more like a Windows client. None of these by themselves are going to make you sit up and say wow, this OS now performs so much better, and as I said you might not even want to make these changes, but I have usually chosen to make them, so here they are:
  • Change both Processor Scheduling and Memory Usage to favor Programs instead of Background services and System cache respectively. You can find this in System properties -> Performance settings -> Advanced.
  • Change File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks to Minimize memory used. This is on the properties of your network connection(s).
  • Tune Windows Services. This is a dark art in and of itself. So much gets started in Windows that you might, or might not, need that a lot of people have spent considerable time through trial and error disabling as much as possible in hopes of improving the Windows experience. I have mostly given up on this, I use to spend oodles of time on this, now I just make a few selective tweaks.
    • Turn off the Indexing Service, both for IIS and SQL Server, unless you are really using them. This stuff just pounds your disk if it somehow gets triggered to index, just killing performance.
    • Turn off Computer Browser. Your really not going to use it.
    • Disable Wireless Configuration. If you are using a wired connection, or are in a VM, you don't need this running
    • Set Help and Support to Manual. How many times are you pulling up OS help? That's what I thought.
    • Set Error Reporting Service to Manual. If you get an application error, this should just startup and nag you to report something. No need for it to be running all the time
    • Enable/disable Themes according to your preference. I have turned if off and turned if back on, but in Windows Server I have it off for good.
  • Remove Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration using Add/Remove Windows Components in Add or Remove Programs. It is way too annoying to use on a daily basis.
  • You already listened to Karnure and configured Server not to prompt you with the Shutdown Tracker
  • If your screen is an LCD, turn ClearType on in Display properties, Appearance, Effects.

You could keep going, and a lot of this stuff, really as much as possible, I recommend implementing in Group Policy through either a development AD domain, or at least through an OU in AD that the development machines are in. Some stuff you won't be able to set through Group Policy, but it's a great tool if you can use it to enforce more consistent configurations when that consistency doesn't cause a development problem.

Review: Super Mario Galaxy

You know a game is special when a non-gaming web site or blog, like Mac developer blog Theocacao by Scott Stevenson raves about Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. He's dead on, go read his stuff. I haven't finished Super Mario Galaxy yet, but it's clear this is an amazing game, the best game I have played in a few years, I don't think coincidentally since I played New Super Mario Bros. when I got the DS Lite.

What makes Super Mario Galaxy so special? The best of use of 3D I have ever seen in a game. How? Perhaps I have been playing first person shooters too long (think Doom when it first came out), but the way most other games use 3D is create depth perception. That was of course a tremendous advance, but just take Halo 3 for example, your always pinned to one of the planes in 3D space. In Super Mario Galaxy, Mario is of course fixed to an object most of the time, 3D is used for depth, but all 3 dimensions (X,Y, and Z) are used. Shapes that you end up on both sides of play a huge factor in the game. Spheres, ovals, squares, doesn't matter, you have to think in 3 dimensions. I am reminded of Star Trek II: The Wraith of Khan. Kirk and Spock ultimately defeat Khan, a product of the 1990s (in Star Trek lore), by outsmarting him in the 3rd dimension of space, the Z plane. Spock says Khan exhibits "2 dimensional thinking", meaning he has limited himself to X and Y tactical manuevers, just like most (all?) shooters have, and I would argue most games. Not Super Mario Galaxy. If you don't start to think in Z, you can't get past a lot of this game. It's an eye-opening experience. I am not saying there are no games that have done this before, I see Mario 64 referenced, and I gave that a go on the DS Lite, but I guess I never got it because the controls on the DS for that type of game don't map well. The Wii Remote and Nunchuck don't have these problems.

Super Mario Galaxy is also a beautiful game. I don't know if this is the best a Wii game will ever look or can look, but it's a combination of excellent use of the hardware with amazing art direction. The music is also excellent. About the only thing I can point to as a negative is that the early boss battles are pretty easy, 3 hit affairs. I say this knowing that my first encounter with Bowser did not go well, and I actually stopped trying for a while and went to play a different galaxy. It wouldn't even matter if this was a Mario game or not, you could plug in any other character and this would still be possibly the best game of 2007, though Portal comes damn close, and maybe no surprise, it also takes the use of 3D in a game to new heights. If you don't have a Wii, this is reason enough to pick one up if you are a "core gamer".

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14: Biggest Upset in Football History

I have been a Giants fan my whole life. The Giants won their first Super Bowl, XXI, when I was the wee age of 10. It's hard to say if the Giants style of play (dominating, powerful defense, just enough offense) fit my personality, or my personality became molded to their style of play. Either way, we fit like a glove. My relationship with the Giants was cemented when the Giants won Super Bowl XXV in 1990 when I was 15 against the Bills 20-19, in the face of what most at the time said was an insurmountable task. The Giants were the aging team, and I remember clearly reading in Sports Illustrated that even after the Giants had suffocated the Bills high flying offense of the day, the Giants had won with smoke and mirrors, not respecting the tremendous feat that had been accomplished. The refusal to lay down and die, to just keep getting up and fighting for what you want and believe you can achieve, epitomizes to me why you never listen to someone when they tell you something can't be done, you take your best shot, and sometimes, you win. The win exemplified for me the best in sports, as they say, that's why you play the games.

By the time the Giants lost Super Bowl XXXV to the Ravens 34-7, I was living in California. My good friend John and I watched that game together, and like all sports fans did, we questioned if our presence together had somehow altered the karma enough to jinx Big Blue. Neither of us believe that crap, but it makes for a good joke together. Now though, the jinx is no more. We watched the Giants upset in dramatic fashion what most were just waiting out Super Bowl XLII to call the greatest team of all time. Perfection denied, the Patriots are 18-1. Statistically, the best offense in the history of the NFL. How did the Giants do it? The same way they always do, with a dominating powerful defense that says to any offense "go ahead, try and impose your will on us, we are going to smash you in face when you do" and just enough offense. With the toughest opponent in their history, the Giants once again prove there is no fate but what we make (quote from Terminator 2: Judgement Day). For the first time in my life, I can say I was a direct part of it in some way. I actually attended two games this year at Giants Stadium.

Giants 16, Eagles 3
Giants vs Eagles
My first game ever at Giants Stadium, and what a treat. Sure, I was high in the nose bleeds, but it was tremendous fun and it looks further away with the iPhone pic than with your eyes. The Giants sacked Donovan McNabb 245 times (no seriously, only 12) to utterly destroy the Eagles. If the Washington game the week earlier gave fans a taste for what the Defense was capable of, this was the first time during the season the D dominated. It wasn't even as close as the score suggest.

Patriots 38, Giants 35
Giants vs Eagles
Who could know in early September when I bought these tickets the fire it would ignite in the Giants. I was literally in the last row in the stadium, at the top of an isle. They were actually pretty good seats, I could get up and down whenever I wanted, and we were on about the 28 yard line. I nearly sold the tickets because the Patriots were 15-0 going into the game. I am so glad I didn't sell them. I was surrounded by Pats fans, and the Giants had them on the Patriots on the ropes the entire game and it was a delight to watch the Patriots fans completely silent and still, until the Pats finally took a 10 point lead and there wasn't enough time for Manning to get it all back. This was the best the Giants played all year, and I had a feeling it would be the spark they needed to take out Tampa. I also thought of all the teams in the playoffs, the Giants, the league leaders in sacks for 2007, were the only ones likely to beat the Patriots if they could get to Brady enough times. That was exactly how they won the Super Bowl, they just beat on Brady, disrupting the Offense, and it was glorious.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Hillary's Inner Tracy Flick

Or for a humorous look at why you really don't want Hillary as President...

Vote Barack Obama: It's time to become the United States of America again

Three months ago, if you told me that I would write about politics on this blog, I would ask you what you were drinking and could you pour me a glass. Strangely though, this is what I am compelled to do, I feel I must do, as I watch the presidential primary unfolding. I am watching this race as closely as I have watched the season of my beloved NY Giants become magical. Why do I suddenly have a red hot interest in politics? Because Barack Obama has inspired me. Put simply, I believe. Every time I watch him speak, I believe in him and his message. I feel compelled, pulled even, to write this. Even if politics isn't your thing, I encourage you to read and think about this anyway. Full disclosure, I am a registered Democrat but I vote across party lines based on who I like better as a candidate, and is not to divergent on my core issues.

Barack can heal the country
Americans like no time I have been alive are questioning what we stand for, our place in the world, and thanks to the Bush administration, we have lost our moral authority due to the Iraq invasion. I think by simply electing Barack Obama, we can restore a measure of faith to the rest of the world that we have not all lost our way. More importantly though, electing Barack I think can symbolically heal the literally centuries old racial schism between whites and blacks.

Barack is an inspirational story
Born in Hawaii to an immigrant father from Kenya and a mom from Kansas, his is a truly American story, the embodiment of the American Dream. His election to the presidency would be a wake up call to the world, this is what America is really about. Not true for Hillary because...

I have seen Billary for what they really are, evil
First, Christopher Hitchens at Slate makes a strong case that the Clintons have been playing the race card all along. Bill Clinton, who I previously liked and thought did not deserve the impeachment nonsense, has really crossed a line. It couldn't be more clear he is trying to divide the Democratic electorate to exploit fear of race to get Hillary the election. Make no mistake, this is a calculated Clintonian strategy for Bill to play bad cop, and Hillary to be good cop, well as good as she can conceivably be. Paint Obama as the "black" candidate, marginalize him, and it's despicable, and I have had enough of those kinds of politics. During the primary it has also become crystal clear that Hillary by herself is the worst kind of politician, the one that will say anything to get elected. I don't for a second see that when I hear Barack speak, I believe he actually means what he says. The final nail in the coffin is the fact that the candidate is Billary. Put another way, I am not sure if Bill is running for a third term, or Hillary is running for her first, but it's clear she is leaning on him like a crutch. I would love to see a woman president in my lifetime, I think that will happen, but not one who so obviously counts as her experience for commander in chief her time as spouse to a former president. I am sorry, she was never elected until she got to the Senate, and she isn't standing alone as a candidate, at times the situation is nearly to the point that Bill is the candidate and Hillary is just there to end run around the constitutional term limit. When Hillary lost South Carolina, the first Clinton to give a concession speech was Bill, how wrong is that. The presidency is not a dynasty, and I don't want to see Bush/Clinton alternating in perpetuity.

With McCain the Republican frontrunner, Hillary has an immense electability problem
With McCain all but certain to clean up the Republican nomination on Tuesday, you have to look at the Democratic candidates electability in the general election. With Mike Huckabee the presumptive VP candidate for McCain to throw evangelicals a bone, I don't think Hillary can win the general election. Hillary is a lightening rod candidate for Republicans, they want her to be the candidate. She plays to McCain's strengths, she is weak with Independents, McCain pulls from that demographic. McCain most of the time seems to say what he believes, even breaking with his party, whether you disagree with him or not, you can at least count on mostly the truth. Independents love that. John Pearce and Kathy Cramer have a great post on Hillary's electability problem at the Huffington Post. Barack pulls votes from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, trumping McCain's independent pull.

On the issues, Barack and Hillary are very similar, but where they differ, Barack has made the right choice
Look no further than the Iraq war. Hillary clearly voted yes to bolster her foreign policy credentials, and refuses as of the last Democractic debate, to repudiate or apologize for her vote.

There is only one Dream Ticket, Barack for President, Hillary for Veep
The reverse doesn't work, Hillary's negatives become much too strong if she is on top of the ticket. Hillary could be Barack's Dick Cheney (and yes I know they are distant cousins), the nasty crafty Washington insider that knows how to break the system. Also, there is no place for Bill with Hillary as Veep, and after watching the primaries, I am firm in my conviction that I never want to see Bill Clinton in the White House again.

For all these reasons and more, I urge those who can and those that are able to vote Barack Obama on Tuesday Feb. 5th.

F***ing Matt Damon

Just watch this: