Sometimes the Incompetence of the Press Amazes Me

Friday, 2006-04-21; 02:03:00

Seriously, can't they do any better?

This is kind of random, but today in the press I noticed some really stupid writing. I really can't fathom why things like this really get into the press, whether it's online or in the newspaper.

First off, I've seen a number of websites reporting today that PortalPlayer, the company that typically produces the chips that power Apple's iPods, has announced that its upcoming chip won't be used in Apple's future iPod models. Take a look at this quote from Macworld (as of 1:27 AM, 2006-04-21):

Stock of San Jose-based semiconductor maker PortalPlayer tumbled on Thursday after news surfaced the company’s chips would not be used in future Apple iPods.

This statement is misleading at best, and outright false at worse. If MacWorld had bothered to actually check PortalPlayer's press release on the topic, they would have found this sentence (as of 1:27 AM, 2006-04-21):

[PortalPlayer] has recently been advised that the follow-on to its PP5021 System-on-Chip (SoC), which is expected to be available in the second half of 2006, has not been selected by Apple Computer, Inc. for use in their mid-range and high-end flash based iPods.

So no, PortalPlayer chips will still be used in Apple's iPods. They just won't be used in all flash models. Note that it also specifically EXCLUDES low-range flash-based iPods. From this, it's reasonable to assume that for now, PortalPlayer expects Apple to continue to use its chips for the iPod shuffle and for the video iPods.

I also could have sworn that MacDailyNews made the same mistake, because earlier today I specifically left that article open in a Safari tab over this discrepancy. It's possible they changed it, or maybe I was just dreaming, so I'll give MacDailyNews the benefit of the doubt.

Then there's the whole deal about Apple planning to cut iPod prices. There's an article at Personal Tech Pipeline entitled "Apple To Cut iPod Prices." But in the same article, it states "Apple [...] expects the average selling price of its iPod digital music players to decline in the current quarter from the prior period."

Sorry, but that's not the same thing. This is a financial conference call. Apple is not going to be revealing any pricing plans, and Fred Oppenheimer specifically stated so in regards to iBook G4s. When Oppenheimer says that "average pricing" is expected to fall, that means that he expects more iPod shuffles and iPod nanos are going to be sold as compared to video iPods -- it's the average pricing in terms of sales that Apple made, not the actual pricing on the iPods themselves. (I would quote verbatim from the conference call if I could find the specific place where Oppenheimer talks about the average pricing, but I can't find it, and I don't particularly care to listen to the other half of the conference call to which I haven't listened.)

Digg has also picked up on this (as have a number of other websites), and it's blatantly wrong. Digg, however, is filled with lame-ass users who like to post stories to the homepage that have misleading headlines and summaries. I'm not surprised that digg has picked up on this myth.

Now to transition from the "that's just false" category to the "WTF" category, we have two entries from the San Francisco chronicle. From the Chron's article about protests in Nepal:

The Royal Nepalese Army fired at pro-democracy protesters in an eastern town on Wednesday, as the death toll climbed to at least eight in two weeks of defiant demonstrations and the country appeared headed toward a dangerous brink.

The brink of what remained unclear.

Um, what? It's headed towards a dangerous brink, but the brink of what remained unclear? Are you seriously kidding me, this got in the newspaper? News flash: you can't identify something if you don't know what it is. "Sandy was taken aback by the statement, and reached for the handle. The handle of what was unclear." Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

Then comes a picture accompanying an article about pedestrian fatalities on train tracks. It states:

Roberto Cuevas crosses the tracks legally near Carolan and Morrell avenues in Burlingame.

He crosses the tracks legally? Is that word really necessary? He's crossing at a designated crossing, and there's no train in sight (at least in one direction) which also implies that he's making a legal crossing. Is it necessary to specifically spell that out? I mean, we're talking about an article regarding a death, not about how there's as many people illegally crossing railroad tracks as there are immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. Furthermore, I don't think a kid would appreciate a photo of him making an illegal crossing being posted in a newspaper, complete with his name and the fact that it was illegal.

I mean, if a member of the press snapped a pic of you illegally making a crossing, would you give them your name?

Yeah, I've probably wasted too many words on this, but little things like this really piss me off sometimes. And seeing them all today really magnified that effect. Grr.

And if you've kept with me on my rant until now, here's a link for some GOOD journalism: David Weiss gives you a tour in pictures and words of Microsoft's Mac Lab. They've got an insane number of Macs there, complete with some 150 Mac minis, and at least 20 each of Blue and White PowerMac G3s, G4 towers, and dual-processor G5 towers. There are some seriously awesome pictures in here, and man, they supposedly had one of each Mac model ever produced, at least until recently. Weiss says that "[w]e even had an old SE/30 and IIci and super expensive Mac II all connected via PhoneNet running Spectre, just for fun. It's always super fun to boot Word 1.0 or Excel 1.0 on these old machines and see how much things have changed."

Man, I don't even know what PhoneNet is! I have to say, they've got themselves a serious Mac lab there, and it shows that while Microsoft as a company may be evil, there are still pockets of non-evilness inside Microsoft (or perhaps the pockets of evil are all we see -- two of which seem to be Gates and Ballmer :P ).

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