Friday, July 23, 2010

Is Mac OSX unsafe or what?

I had some good laughs reading this article in Ars Technica this morning. Apple the new world leader in software insecurity. That's cool. Never heard that before. Not to mention that these days you can make a big splash as a blogger or industry analyst if you discover something abnormal and against all persisting knowledge about Apple. I've been using Macs for over 20 years now and never had to install any bleedin' antivirus, even for kicks; then all of a sudden I'm learning anno 2010, from an obscure so-called security company that listens to the name 'Secunia', that Apple is on top of all software vulnerabilities on planet Earth! Wow! What a slogan! Wakes up the dead!

Wait a minute... the article specifies that there's nothing wrong with the operating system... vulnerabilities are not to be found there... see, they are actually hidden in Adobe's Reader and Flash, most of the time! Now you are talking! Where did I hear that again about Flash... insecure, slow, battery drainer, proprietary... Oh, yes, el Jobso's open letter to them a few months ago, explaining why he prefers HTML5 instead.

So, we learned something from Secunia today: Apple tops the insecurity list with somebody else's products. I got another buzzer for today's news-lines then: Get rid of Flash and Adobe Reader on your Macs (don't need the Reader to read PDF's, right?) to be able to sleep safe on both your ears, like we use to say here in Belgium.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seven days and seven nights...

 Apple Stock performance the last thirty days...
There is this story going around about Steve Jobs, who many years ago complained (when Apple computers were getting less attention whereas ugly Windows grey PCs were selling like hotcakes and spreading like viruses): (paraphrasing) I don't get it, he said, we are doing our best to create a beautiful restaurant with tasty and healthy recipes, a relaxing atmosphere in a compelling surrounding, soft background music, skilled and good mannered waiters attending customers with warmth and personal care, and all you get is people flocking to the freakin' McDonald's opposite the street. What's wrong with these... morons?!

It seems that the trend is a-changing though. How else can you explain people queuing in front of Apple stores these days, and stores of their partners to buy Apple's latest devices and computers? At the same time, Apple haters seem to become increasingly more vocal by the minute. Apple has become the envy of many. Notwithstanding, their revenues are touching levels (60B annual) that we were only used from the likes of Microsoft so far, although a comparison between the two would be rather misplaced here. Apple is to be considered almost not a computer supplier anymore, Macs are a 'small' part of their far larger offering, whereby they became a supplier of ecosystems and broad solutions to a variety of problems, ranging from communications to personal entertainment, and soon to come, advertising itself.

The last few days there's been a serious pressure developing upon Apple's stock price, mainly coming from the company's obsessed haters and short-sellers. Peculiar enough, no one of the financial analysts focusing upon Apple has often publicly considered Antennagate to be a serious inhibitor in Apple's future business. It's just the losers of the 'opposition' who are moaning and bitching. Many of them being encouraged (sponsored) by Apple's most fierce competitors I am sure, like Google, Microsoft, RIMM and Nokia (although, these last Eurotrash buggers have got far more serious problems to deal with than badmouthing Apple... Can you imagine? Their stock went up yesterday at the news that their current CEO is getting sacked! Poor bastard! Or maybe not so poor, considering his golden parachutes and windfalls and such... Anyhoo, they seem to change CEO's each time Apple announces a new iPhone model, nowadays).

Since the last few days of June the pressure was reflected on Apple's stock price taking some beating in various stages. From its upper 260s it fell in a matter of days to low and mid 240s and back again. I have been following the evolution hour by hour in the last week before July options maturity, as I was still holding to a few open puts at 250 strike. At a given point, around the 10th of July, I even considered to cover them, but then I said, so what, even if they end in the money, it's still a good deal, since my favorite analysts (Gene Munster) predict 300 to 350 in a year from now. Most of the fun of course I experienced on maturity (last) Friday though, whereby, after Thursday's antennagate apologies in a press conference by El Jobso himself, the price kept on flirting with out of the money values north of the 250 strike. It later started falling closer and closer to 250. Stupid cow! You're not gonna let me down the last five minutes of the Bloody Friday, will you? But then, I had the feeling that the stock was artificially kept around 250, as a result of option sellers pushing it upwards and buyers sweating it south. It was just another Tug of (Wall Str.) War! The behavior those traders exhibited was so peculiar that I asked my good pal John, chatting online with me from Atlanta, GA, about why he thought the 250 threshold was so conspicuously fought about. He sent me a link to the Options Max Pain Calculator. It showed 250 as the max pain point! Mighty Allah! These things seem to work after all... Or is it a self fulfilling prophecy?

Long story short, the stock closed at 249.90 for the day, just ten cents below the infamous 250 strike. Like every options trader knows, if you play by the presumed sanity rules, there's no point to exercise any contract at such a pitiful differential... Talking about chicken-shit! Not worth the trade cost. However, out of the Nasdaq woodwork, there came a genius trader who went to exercise part of my open positions, as he obviously held to his well earned right! Sonovabitch! I didn't quite want to acquire more AAPLs right at that moment, you see... I knew in my guts that, come Monday, the stock was going to get slaughtered by short-sellers. That's what the overall trading climate suggested, anyway. I knew the flirting around 250 had definitely to do with the options expiry, and now that the 'puts seller' motivation was gone, short-sellers would simply take over. The Antennagate was in a pole position and haters ruled! So, if I really planned to buy the stock, Monday would be a much better day. Whatever. Eventually I was proven right. Monday came and the stock tanked! At one point it hit 240 bucks! Already 10 bucks lost on my options trade excluding brokerage and bank commissions/taxes (virtual loss of course).  I felt really stupid! Well, it's only money, you see. John kept telling me it was still a good trade and filled me with compassion to calm me down. I still felt a braindead moron.

End of the trading day on Monday (that's two days ago) IBM and TI came out with their own numbers, followed later by GS. Plain disaster! Housing data sucked too. Economists kept blogging about prospective double dips of the economy. US unemployment still around 10 percent. Anything's OK if you can take the shit on His Obamaness! So bad that it drove Jack Wells nuts out of his retirement, and he showed up on CNBC yesterday to teach current day GOP 'so called leaders'  how to get serious and stop playing cheeky bastard games... The bottom-line? Armageddon about to strike the economy again. And BP's oil well still leaking in the Mexican gulf more than a mile deep, drop by drop!

So, Tuesday trading dawned pretty abysmal for the entire market, with AAPL waving the flags on their deep fall towards the familiar by now, low 240s. Although late Monday AAPL ended reasonably higher than its day lows, the stock was still under severe shorting pressure. You could just feel the smell in the air! The smell of negativity and shorting. Hater press and blogs were moaning all day about the risks on the imminent to be announced Apple's quarterly figures, for colorful reasons such as the Droid telephone selling out the previous weekend and shit, etc... Every article you'd read was ranging from negative to deeply f*ck-all... What's wrong with these people?! Am I the only one who swears by the iPhone and iPad? No, serious!?!

Tuesday early pm PDT, after the close, was the moment supréme planned for Apple's Q3 earnings conference call. Sigh! Maybe there's some goodness coming from that angle, I prayed! On a positive note, during the trading day and having started deeply in the red, the Dow paired its losses from its early 170 points fall to more than 70 points in the black at the close. Of course each dollar IBM stock moved south translated into about 7 Dow points following suite, so IBM alone was responsible for a large chunk of this clusterf*ck. The remaining blue chips were presumably behaving...

One major catalyst for the day was this wonderful man, David Einhorn, a Hedge Fund manager, the dude who shorted Lehman to its death a few years ago. David, 41 (he's just a kid), wrote in a letter to his clients that he was happy buying into Apple at 248 and he was holding to it with pride! Given the stock's future prospects, that is. The instantaneous viral spread of David's remarks eventually started to push new Apple trades north, slow and steady. Apple's conference call, scheduled for 2pm PDT, that's 11pm CET, gradually became the only subject on all financial networks, CNBC, Bloomberg, Reuters, the works. CNBC's famous anchor, Maria Bartiromo was counting the seconds to Apple's earnings announcement. The moment Apple's Press release hit the wires everything else stopped and TV reporters and analysts started screaming who'll pass the news first. 3.51 is the number we're looking for, Maria shouted! 3.51! She meant EPS of course, against a Thomson Reuters analyst consensus estimate of 3.11! WOW! They did it again! Awesome! How can these people keep on sandbagging us so much every time, said Piper Jeffrey's Gene Munster, a celeb Apple analyst, bullish on the stock for as long as I know him... We gotta change our estimates models, I guess... Whatever... they keep saying that every single quarter! And Apple still keeps beating the hell out of their estimates, for kicks...

What followed then was of course a subject for the history books! AAPL zoomed more than ten bucks into 261 and change in a heartbeat, before even Maria got the time to finish her sentence! I betsa HFT kicked in to make this happen, but I'm not sure they do that during after-hours. It was plain orgasmic! The stock came down later, 7 bucks and change before traders headed home for dinner and a good night's sleep. Of course the Asian Bourses followed by the European this morning are still swaying in the euphoria of Apple's announcement and all get pretty bullish for the day. We needed some of that. I'm just so pissed with all this negativity. Especially when I can't reasonably see anywhere any solid reasons for legit pessimism.

What's going to happen to AAPL later this morning is anybody's guess. Mine vacillates around 260, which will keep my August puts trades at 240 and 250 safely out of the money, I hope... Or, I rather cover them if they get cheap in the next few weeks. I sold these puts at around 14 and 10 (bucks a share) respectively last week, naughty me... they should be trading far less than that later today! A price point for cover?

As a last thought, I empathize with the idiot who decided to sell me his stock at a pathetic 250 when the market ended at 249.90. What an amateur! Oh, BTW, thanx much for the gift, moron! I think, I'll keep them though. To sell at 300 in less than six months. Mark my words...

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Not many companies get the coverage Apple Inc. 'enjoys' these days... other than BP about the oil spill. I wouldn't know of any company other than Apple, typically not too keen to talk to the press as a matter of policy, that anything happening inside or outside their ecosystems, or about to happen, or because someone thought it might happen, or should have happened, creates this amount of media commotion all the way around the globe and back!

Take this antenna issue, for instance. The hundreds of thousands of miserable reporters and bloggers out there, struggling to make a buck and get thru the day, found all of a sudden a new stick to beat Apple's bum and waive their hate flags. Calls are being dropped they say, signal strength icon bars move up and down depending how you hold the darn thing! So what? How many users do really have this problem? How many returned their phones and went back to their Nokia, Motorola, HTC or Berry instead? 20%? 50%? 70%? The way these articles get written, you'd say more than two for every three buyers. Turns out to be less than one in 200. Cool. These are the facts. Apple haters scream and shout! Taking the shit on Jobs. Calling him a liar!

Know what? You morons of the Press, the official journalists who took Journalism classes and 'learned' how to write properly... Why bother even writing about the matter? In order to tell us the 'truth', us being the ignorant Public? Whose truth is that? Yours?  What's your credibility level and why should I better believe your shit than Apple's? What's your problem? Do you own one of these iPhones 4.0 and feel cheated? Bring it back. Get full refund! Buy a plastic 20 bucks worth Nokia and vanish to obscurity! Go write something about the sea-life that will perish in the Gulf spill. You kinda feel smart and horny (and hope to get laid) by writing your ugly filth about the most wonderful company this planet ever seen and the most masterful CEO any company ever had or will ever have, right? Feel envy? Is that your problem? Oh, that's it. You can't afford that others out there are far more competent, hard working and far more successful than you'll ever be. Can't take it that Apple goes on to break Guinness Book records in Business every other day, right? Well, get used to it. It ain't changin' any time soon. Even if it becomes illegal to buy Apple products, available stocks would still be dry. Ever heard that the number one item starving Palestinians are smuggling back to Gaza via their Egyptian border underground tunnels? The iPod, my dearest! Neither food nor guns. Just iPods. I rest my case...

As for those of you, who get easily convinced by such tabloid rumors, and go to spread them to your close friends and relatives to 'awake' them too, well, don't bother. Don't even waste your breath or a single minute of your precious lives to read such Apple hate articles. Lead your lives in happiness and don't even think there's a tech company in California called Apple. Think of Apple as The Beatles' label company. That's it. Because, quite likely, not a single of Apple's geeky products is meant for you either. Each one of these items is made for a special sort of sophisticated and elegant folks with a soft spot in their heart for style and beauty. You've probably got none of that, so stay away from anything coming from His Jobness Holy Temples, because you're wasting His available inventories, and there are scores of us who are prepared to offer our right arm for the privilege to buy these things. Capice?

Update: Many haters claim that Jobs denied there was an antenna problem. That is not what he said. He said they didn't know yet... they had to work out the 'physics' and that many other phones, among which some quite popular from HTC, RIM and Nokia, have exactly the same problem, a fact that the companies' concerned CEO's categorically denied. What would you expect?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Trying HDSLR

Forced to produce some clips for an industry conference I decided to learn shooting better footage by using my Canon 7D DSLR. I read the manual and applied 720p50, this is 50 fr/s at HD Ready HDTV resolution. I used a Sigma wide angle zoom 10-20 mm... pretty cool! I then conformed the footage files with Cinema Tools to 23,976 fr/s which changed the original shooting speed to a kind of slow-mo at less than half the original shoot. That's cool because it slows down the free hand uncontrolled camera movements and the final outcome looks pretty smooth.

Doing a simple non-linear edit in Premiere Pro after shooting proved more of a challenge than I thought. First downloaded and installed the trial version from Adobe, but after loading my trial footage no single of them clips could play on the timeline for more than 16 frames. I tried all sorts of frame rates and clip formats... to no avail! I found then a dude's comment on a Net forum claiming he had a solution that he got from Adobe support (he was 2.5hrs on the line with them, he said, wow!), but it all felt like witchery to me. Listen carefully. These are the steps I had to do, following his advice.
  1. Repaired disk permissions.
  2. Deleted Premiere Preferences in the /user/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Premiere/5.0
  3. Enabled Root Login (that's a nice one)
  4. Logged out and back in, as Root this time.
  5. Launched Premiere and tried the clip playback, believe it or not, it just worked! 
  6. Logged-out again and back in with my regular user ID.
  7. Tried Premiere to make sure, and indeed it now runs smoothly!
The clip you see above was the result of my edit. I could also burn it in BluRay format with Ti Toaster all on a regular CD, and play it at the right 720p res on my player, no shit. Sweet! Other than the install problems (now I understand why el Jobso takes the piss on Adobe lately), Premiere Pro CS5 works fine. Lot easier then FCP. Also, quality of export clips is fantastic! They have foreseen all standard formats coming from DSLRs these days, I am told. Rendering times and edits went lightening fast on my Quad i7 iMac 27", 2T, 8G. Kinda workstation horsepower that is. With a real estate to kill for...

I remember when I was editing family clips the analog way, late 80ies. 20 yrs later the world looks like from another planet. Thanks much for the treat all of you out there, hi-tech geeks!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bart the Ghostbuster!

Wondering around in Ghent on a Sunday with a good friend, I pulled my camera to shoot whatever seemed cool as pastime shoot! I loved that fresh graffiti of ghostbuster Bart de Wever, or aka Schart de Klever...

If you're curious to see the rest, go watch a slideshow of the shoot by clicking here.

That's what Fibernet is all about...

As a private Internet user I had mixed feelings about moving to the 100 Mbits/sec internet offering by Telenet, my local service provider in Flanders, Belgium. What is this good for? Until I had to download a trial CS5 from Adobe, streaming serviced by Akamai! At 11MB a sec it took less than 5 minutes to download the whopping 3.5 GB of the trial install disk. Almost twice as fast than a local BluRay disk, one could say. Pretty quick, eh?