New MacBreak Weekly is up!

Me Podcasting - Angry

Recorded a new MacBreak Weekly with Leo Laporte and Merlin Mann. I actually wondered if the show would be any good: Leo managed to infect half of the usual panel with his flu so it was just the three of us. “This is like that episode of “M*A*S*H” when everybody’s sick and Hawkeye and Hot Lips have to run the whole camp by themselves,” I said, just before the mics went hot.

So we were understaffed. Plus, a week of podcasting at Macworld Expo had left all of us pretty damned talked-out. But it actually came out pretty great, with discussions of the new Office, and the rather subtle business dynamics of MacHeist’s otherwise fantastic bargain package of Mac software…it was a hum-dingah.

20 thoughts on “New MacBreak Weekly is up!”

  1. That episode turned out good. Felt like investigative reporting in the Mac community. I hope the other side does get in contact with Leo and gets on the next episode, because I know they also have strong opinions on the subject.

    -OwlBoy

  2. I really liked the episode too, but I felt a little conflicted by Rich Siegel’s comments. On the one hand, I can totally understand where he’s coming from, and would love to see developers get their due (and get paid) but on the other hand, as someone who goes from “So broke I can’t pay attention” to “Whew, I can afford my apartment again this month” a deal like the MacHeist bundle is the difference between getting to use the software, and only hearing about how great the software is.

  3. I actually liked this epispode a lot too and I think it was because of the smaller panel. With the massive panels it’s sometimes hard for a good discussion to get going as threads are picked up and dropped.

    Should be an interesting episode next week too since Leo says he has some of the Macheist guys lined up.

  4. i just finished listening to this episode and i have to say that this recent episode was the best one i’ve heard.

    the go between with you, merlin, and leo is the best.

  5. Andy,

    Must say, love your work.

    With all the discussion about YouTube tools, I was surprised to hear no mention of CosmoPod – http://www.cocoamug.com/cosmopod/ – a great little toolbar button for Safari that downloads and converts any .flv file. I’ve only checked out a few of these apps, but CosmoPod is by far the best I’ve seen so far. So simple.

    Also, I would love to hear more of your and the group’s thoughts about the upcoming iPhone SDK. Specifically, about possible location-based services that might come out of it (presuming the new cell/wifi triangulation thing will be made available to apps.) Besides all of the cool services that are possible, I’m curious about the more existential question of whether people would be comfortable with their location being tracked so continuously with always-on data connections. I can envision apps with WordPress widgets and Facebook plugins constantly updating my location on a Google map every 5 minutes. Will people really want this?

    Thanks!

  6. Have to follow up on Andy’s recommendation of Richard Feynman’s autobiographies. I must have read them almost 20 years ago and I still remember many of his wonderful anecdotes. One that comes to mind where his tweaking the noses of the security people at Los Alamos. There was, apparently, a large whole in the fence surrounding the installation that everyone knew about. One day Feynman kept signing onto the base, go out through the hole and signing in again, over and over. The higher ups solution? Fixing the hole? Not likely. They Ordered him to stop doing it!

    Some people shouldn’t be allowed to die. Their loss is just too great. He was one of those people.

  7. This episode was nearly perfect, and it’s all because of this week’s panel. Seriously Andy – even if it’s just a monthly event, you and Merlin MUST do a podcast together. Add one more person to facilitate (I nominate Chris Breen) and throw topics at you and Merlin. And that’s it, for a good half-hour plus. I’d be more than happy to keep show notes.

  8. It seems to me that Rich Siegel conflates a number of different issues when presenting his view of MacHeist. On the one hand, he appears to object to MacHeist on the grounds that it is a bad business move. On the other hand, he seems to imply that developers that include their programs in the bundle are in some way morally suspect because 1) they are indirectly supporting a morally/ethically suspect group of individuals, or 2)because they are undervaluing software generally which is adversely affecting the well-being of all developers.

    1. If participation in MacHeist is a bad move from an economic standpoint then Siegel’s reluctance to judge the actions of the participants a bit disingenuous. Either it is empirically verifiable that selling software at a price less than the market will ultimately damage the revenue of these companies or it won’t. Also, his argument that individuals that participate in a limited offer to purchase a software bundle will come to expect that all software should be equally as inexpensive seems to be an insult to the intelligence of those purchasing the bundle. I’m fairly certain that most consumers of any product can recognize the difference between getting software cheaply and cheap software.

    2. At times Siegel seemed to indicate that those that supported MacHeist were directly or indirectly supporting morally suspect individuals. I am not sure whether the actions of the MacHeist crew are or have been unethical in the way they promoted MacHeist, but this is a completely separate issue as to whether the bundling of the software is ethically questionable. As a number of individuals have pointed out, the developers were not coerced into participating in the promotions and they are being compensated for their product. While the empirical question remains as to whether this is a wise business move on their part, it is hard to argue that it is morally suspect.

    3. Unless I am mistaken, Siegel and the other developers are engaged in an economic endeavor and not a non-profit cooperative. If MacHeist causes a market re-adjustment when it comes to software prices (something I don’t believe will happen), then it might be against the developer’s interests to participate, but they have done nothing morally questionable.

    4. Finally, I think Siegel is mistaken when he says individuals that receive this bundle will not pay for upgrades, or will simply tap the resources of the developers. I think that in most instances those that buy the bundle are simply taking advantage of a great deal, and they would most likely have not bought the software at all. If they had really felt the need to purchase the software, then they would have already purchased it. I suspect that there are individuals like myself that agonize over every software purchase (including the $15-$20 applications). As someone previously noted, we can’t all afford (particularly poor college professors) to buy every interesting application like Leo and others may have the luxury of doing. I suspect that it is more likely to be the case that those that get an app that they wouldn’t normally have purchased at full-price, and suddenly find indispensable, are more likely to pay for the next upgrade (I suppose that I am subscribing to the ‘first dose if free’ approach to software marketing – an approach that resulted in my purchasing the non-beta version of OmniFocus).

    Anyway, that’s my two cents on the matter.

    By the way, 74 was a GREAT show.

  9. In my opinion all the best TWiT or MBW shows have had smaller panels, 3 or 4 in size, this one included.

    The Siegel interview was excellent, but I was disappointed that Rich wasn’t asked about his participation in the Macsanta promotion. By his reasoning, any large discount of otherwise reasonably priced shareware is going to:

    1) Negate any profits with a single support call/email; and
    2) De-value the “perceived value” of the software.

    Can’t really argue with him on #1 I guess, but the fact is that certain customers, especially poor students like myself simply won’t fork out even $30 for something like Yojimbo when we can easily get it for free. [For the record I got that wonderful app through the MacSanta promotion.]

    The fact that I didn’t pay full price for Yojimbo doesn’t lower my high esteem for the software at all, it’s easily worth much more than it even sells for … but so

  10. Yeah, my overall take on MacHeist is that unless it turns out that the developers were misled or that they’re not getting paid as agreed, MacHeist is a fantastic deal for consumers.

    In fact, I bought the bundle myself at the show. I needed to purchase a copy of Snapz Pro (I needed it for professional projects so it wouldn’t be right to accept a freebie) and was pleased to get just the thing I wanted at a good discount…with tons of great tools thrown in “for free.”

  11. Andy, excellent Audible book pick! I didn’t get turned on to Feynman until my 30s, but I was hooked and read everything on Feynman I could find. I recently got my 13 year old reading it when she had to have an autobiography for school. I had her check if a transcription of drum circle conversation counted as an autobiography, and luckily her teacher had the good sense to allow it.

    An interesting thing I picked up about Feynman, after listening to the Oppenheimer biography from Audible, is that Oppie basically picked up the whole Princeton team for the Manhattan project because he was familiar with Feynman. Like you mentioned, he was jsut grad student at the time. This doesn’t come across in Feynman’s books because of his modesty.

  12. It’s counter-intuitive, but true: modesty comes from self-confidence.

    Even in his final years, as all of his fans were praising him for being the clear-thinking straight-shooter who blew the lid off of the Space Shuttle’s O-ring problem (“How typical…only Feynman!”)…he didn’t hesitate to admit that he was actually being manipulated by an Air Force general who couldn’t come out and make the charge himself without bruising too many egos, and that Feynman didn’t realize how skillfully he’d been worked until later!

  13. @Tim – It’s my standard “My hair is a mess but I need to get to Kinko’s before the FedEx pickup and I don’t have time to do anything with it” solution. :)

  14. I’ll agree with the praise for “Surely you’re joking…”

    In the further discussion you had about Feynman, I was surprised not to hear mention of the comics about him. But that could easily have been due to two things.

    1. Too much of a rathole, especially when the original point was to sell audiobooks, not comic books.

    2. You have never read “Two Fisted Science”. In which case, let me remedy that here.

    Written by Jim Ottaviani and drawn by a variety of artists, “Two Fisted Science” tell biographical stories about a number of scientists. Feynman is featured in darn near half of them. It was from this book that I first discovered Feynman, and which led me to his own books. The stories about Feynman would be familiar to anyone who’s read his autobiographical works, especially the three part “Safe-Cracker”.

    The whole volume, ( http://xrl.us/beurk ) is excellent. I can also recommend it’s spinoff, Dignifying Science, also by Ottaviani, which features similar biographical tales, narrowing the focus onto female scientists, including Hedy Lamarr (yes, THAT Hedy Lamarr).

  15. If you’re saying that you got the other apps “for free” you are proving that Rich is right in how the software is being devalued. I bought MacHeist, and love the apps, but I was just pointing that out.

  16. @Conner – You’re not suggesting that unless I wet my pants with glee equally over each and every app in the bundle, I’m devaluing the work of developers? No, of course you aren’t.

    What I’m saying is that like all purchasers of the bundle, it was two or three apps that sealed the deal for me. The benefit to the authors of the rest of the apps is (a) they might very well gain a new fan by virtue of the fact that I wouldn’t have tried their apps anotherwise, and (b) if more sales of the bundle translate to more money for each developer…then who cares why that copy got sold?

    Rich is a good pal but I keep returning to my original position: so long as the developers understand the deal they’re signing and so long as what’s being promised to them is being delivered, I can’t be against this bundle. It’s a fab deal for consumers.

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