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CD Notes: Monty Python’s Total Rubbish

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I remember back in 1974, when the first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was broadcast on the local PBS station WNET in New York. I seem to recall that there had been a bit of publicity before the series aired, and I made sure to not miss it. I was immediately hooked. Shortly afterwards, I started buying their records, which contained some of the sketches from the show. By the time the show had aired in the US, it was no longer on TV in the UK, but there were already three or four albums available.

I remember nearly memorizing some of the sketches, and I especially recall the loony way the albums were presented. There was even one album – Matching Tie and Handkerchief – which had three sides, which was particularly clever. (On side two, there were two concentric grooves, so depending on where you placed the needle of your turntable, you’d get one of two sides of material.)

Over the years, I saw all the movies, then later bought the series on DVD. While not everything stands up very well now, there remains a huge amount of wonderful comedy in the 45 episodes and three feature films that were produced.

As you may have seen, the Monty Python gang (minus the late Graham Chapman) got together recently for a run of shows in London, one of which was broadcast to cinemas, on TV, and which will soon be released on DVD and Blu-Ray. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) It wasn’t a great performance – they’re old, and they didn’t seem to really have the rhythm – but it was enjoyable.

At the same time, they released a set of all their CDs, Monty Python’s Total Rubbish. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) This lavishly produced box set contains all nine CDs, a 10-inch vinyl single, and a hardcover book with notes about each recording and track listings. I got mine yesterday, and started listening to it; it immediately brought back memories of being a teenager, and reveling in this irreverent humor. While much of the material on the records was taken from the TV series, some of it was not, and the records stand on their own; they’re not just compilations, but were programmed to be like individual performances. (These CDs also have a lot of bonus material that wasn’t released on the original LPs.)

While some of this material is dated, much of it stands up as classics, the way we can still watch or listen to Abbott & Costello do “Who’s on First.” Having the recordings on CD -actually, ripped to my iTunes library – allows me to skip over the bits that I don’t really want to hear again, but I’ll be listening to these discs when I need a pick-me-up for quite a while. There’s lots of fun on these nine discs, and if you’re a Monty Python fan, this set is worth getting.

What Do You Do When Your Solid Gold Apple Watch Is Obsolete?

On last week’s episode of The Committed Podcast, Ian, Rob and I were speculating on the prices of the Apple Watch when it is finally released. We know the base price of the sport model, with the plastic watchband: $349. But for the others, not a clue.

My guess for the solid gold watch was a bit lower than theirs, but other people have speculated even higher prices. My thought was that Apple couldn’t see a gold watch at a high price if it becomes obsolete in a year. People who pay for premium watches keep them for a lifetime, and pass them on to their children or grandchildren.

The thought had crossed my mind that they might be upgradable. Imagine that, if the high-end Apple Watch costs, say, $10,000, you can upgrade it with future internal models for a few hundred dollars. (I see that John Gruber is suggesting this as well.)

But there’s a problem with this idea: it suggests that Apple will never change the form factor of the watch, that it will always have the same shape and size. And it’s a pretty fair bet that future models will be thinner, and may have slightly different shapes.

The upgrade idea might wore for a few generations, but it wouldn’t be a long-term possibility. Maybe Apple will let you trade in their watches, for new models; Apple could melt down the gold and use it for new watches. Because one thing about luxury watches is their style; it’s pretty much frozen in a style that will live on for decades without looking outmoded. The Apple Watch we’ve seen so far will probably look like the first iPods when compared with new models in 5 years or so.

Apple has to balance two competing concepts with the Apple Watch: the need for tech devices that are useful, and that can evolve as their capabilities expand, and the need for a device that people want to keep for a long time. Having a luxury model prevents the company from treating this product family as they treat iPods and iWatches. The more expense the high-end Apple Watch, the more tension there will be between these two concepts.

Apple is hiding an embarrassing iPhone 6 camera bulge

“Apple has an unpleasant bulge it’s hiding. The latest iPhone 6 has slimmed down to just 6.9mm of metal in what Apple describes as a “streamlined profile,” but it has picked up one element that isn’t particularly streamlined: an ugly camera bulge at the rear. You wouldn’t necessarily spot it if you were browsing Apple’s website though. While some images display the bulge clearly, there’s a number where it has simply vanished from sight.”

I’ve noticed this in many of the Apple photos, which are actually 3D-rendered graphics. I also notice that on the iPhone 6 case that I bought – which I got from Amazon yesterday – there is a slightly raised border around the hole for the lens and flash. This suggests that the case is thinner than the height of the camera. So If I put the phone in this case flat on a table, it won’t really be flat, but raised a tiny bit by the camera.

via Apple is hiding an embarrassing iPhone 6 camera bulge | The Verge.

Don’t Like the U2 Album? Apple Is Providing a Way to Delete It from your iTunes Library

Apple has finally admitted that the U2 free album debacle was wrong. They have set up a web page where you can ask to have the album removed from your iTunes library.

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I’m glad Apple has realized that they made a mistake, and have decided to offer a way to get rid of it if you don’t want it.

I find it interesting that this issue is so polarizing. A lot of my fellow tech journalists see it as a non-issue, but I tend to think that the customer is always right. I’ve gotten enough emails from readers that show that the majority of people had no clue about this promotion until they saw the music in their iTunes libraries, or on their iOS devices. Tech journalists tend to forget that the vast majority of people don’t follow the news that we do. And, as I pointed out here, lots of people don’t get promotional emails from the iTunes Store, so weren’t alerted by Apple about this either.

I Wonder How Much Money Google Makes from This

Let’s say you’re searching for a web site that you don’t use regularly, or haven’t bookmarked. In Safari on OS X, you type the name into the search/address bar, then press Return. Since there’s no bookmark, Safari won’t auto-complete the domain with .com, and you’ll end up in a Google search.

So what Google does now is show ads that look like search results. Here’s an example: I wanted to go to Audible UK, which isn’t bookmarked, so I typed “audible” in Safari.

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The top hit is an ad – because Audible runs ads with Google – and, while it’s clearly marked with an Ad icon, it has more than just one URL: it also lists a few sub-sections. Anyone typing “audible” as I did is likely to just click on the first result. And Google gets a cut.

Google’s ads didn’t used to look like this; they didn’t look like search results with nothing more than a small icon in front of the URLs. They were clearly different, so as not to make users think that they weren’t ads.

But now, they mimic standard search results exactly. My guess is part of the reason is to get people to click the ads instead of the search results, when companies have ad campaigns running. It’s pretty sleazy, when you think about it. I think ads should be different, and have more than just a small icon as a reminder.

This Is How Big the iPhone 6 Is Compared to the iPhone 5s

No, I don’t have an iPhone 6 yet; I won’t have one until Friday. But I do have a case for my iPhone 6. Here’s the iPhone 5s, in my current case, which is about the same thickness, next to the iPhone 6 case:

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I like the larger size. I have large hands, and it’s actually more comfortable than the smaller iPhone 5s. I’ve felt for a while that the iPhone was just a bit too small for my hands, so I’m looking forward to getting the iPhone 6.

Apple Sells 4 Million iPhones in First Day of Pre-Orders

We knew that the iPhone 6 was popular, because it was so difficult to get an order in. Apple has announced that the company sold more than four million phones on its first day of availability.

I’ve ordered an iPhone 6, and it scheduled for delivery on Friday. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

I remember last year, with the iPhone 5s, I ordered one on the first day as well. When the UPS guy came to my door, I signed for the package, and asked him if he had lots of them. “A truck full,” he said, looking a bit flustered at how many little packages he had to deliver that day.

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