Linked List: September 2007

The Talk Show, Episode 11 

Regarding movie trailers and the iPhone 1.1.1 update. I sleep better now that we have such a good-looking web site for the show.

Apple’s Insomnia Film Festival 

Student filmmaking contest from Apple: You get 24 hours to make a three-minute film.

Richard Sprague, iPhone Doubter 

Richard Sprague, back in January:

So please mark this post and come back in two years to see the results of my prediction:  I predict they will not sell anywhere near the 10M Jobs predicts for 2008.

Consider it marked. As of earlier this month, Sprague still thinks his prediction is looking good. Perhaps Sprague would like to make it an actual wager.

Okay, it’s possible there are enough Apple religious people to buy a lot of them at first, but even the most diehard Mac fans who buy one of these will secretly carry two phones. One to prove how loyal and “cool” they are, and the other to actually make and receive calls.

Looks like Apple made a smart move shipping this guy from their marketing department to Microsoft’s.

Technical Stupidity 

The Times of London claims the price of the iPhone in the U.K. as £899 — £269 for the phone, and the rest from the minimum monthly contract with O2. Do they compute the price for other phones this way? (Let me guess: No.)

Phillies Win First NL East Title Since 1993 

I love the Phillies and hate the Mets, so this is pretty sweet. The Mets had a 7.5-game division lead just a few weeks ago. Hard to believe, really, given just how bad the Phillies have been since ’93.

iPhone Human Interface Guidelines 

Note the note:

Note: Currently, developers create web applications for iPhone, not native applications. Therefore, this document focuses solely on the presentation of web applications and other web content on iPhone.

Interesting word, “currently”.

Inman on Layer Tennis 

Perceptive criticism and analysis from Shaun Inman on his Layer Tennis match against Kevin Cornell yesterday.

Examples of High-ISO Photos Taken With Nikon D3 

Stunning low-light performance. (Thanks to Raj Premkumar.)

Inman vs. Cornell 

Layer Tennis is live.

BusySync for iCal 

This sounds damn cool:

BusySync lets you share iCal calendars with family and coworkers on a local area network without a dedicated server and with full read/write access.

(Via Gus Mueller.)

iPhone Update Tip: Plug Directly Into Your Mac’s USB Port 

MacJournals asks “Did the 1.1.1 update ‘brick’ your iPhone?”:

Even if, like ours, it wasn’t hacked in any way?

We promise nothing, but here’s a tip: make sure the iPhone dock is plugged directly into the USB 2.0 port on your computer, not into a hub or keyboard (even a USB 2.0 keyboard).

Acorn Scripting Using Python 

Frederik De Bleser adds an embedded Python scripting panel to Acorn.

Thieves Steal New Coppola Script 

Daniel Schweimler, BBC News:

It was reported that five armed robbers raided Coppola’s house in a wealthy neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, and took computers and camera equipment. Saved on one of the computers was the script and pre-production work for his forthcoming film, Tetro.

Layer Tennis Match Preview 

From my match preview at the Layer Tennis site:

All-American baseliner Chris Evert Lloyd vs. Czechoslovakian net-rusher Martina Navratilova. Graceful, dancing Muhammad Ali vs. power-puncher Joe Frazier. Bird vs. Magic. Nicklaus vs. Palmer. Contrasting styles, which, when brought together in head-to-head competition, snap together like puzzle pieces and produce spectacular, unpredictable results.

We now add to that list Shaun Inman vs. Kevin Cornell.

FileSpot 

My thanks to FileSpot for sponsoring the DF RSS feed this week. FileSpot is a nice searching and organizing utility that provides its own interface to the underlying power of Spotlight, allowing far more complex queries than the system’s built-in search UI. Buy FileSpot this week and get $1 off using the coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL”.

iPhone 1.1.1 Breaks iPod Hi-Fi Integration 

Todd Ditchendorf:

Before updating to iPhone software 1.1.1 (which was released today), my iPhone basically worked with my iPod Hi-Fi…

Wired: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined 

Ted Greenwald interviews Ridley Scott regarding Blade Runner.

iPhone Central: Bricking my iPhone 

Macworld’s Jonathan Seff:

I decided to try the 1.1.1 iPhone update on my unlocked and hacked phone. The process went along just fine until the iPhone restarted. Then I got a message on the screen that I had an incorrect SIM.

He went to an AT&T store, got a new SIM, and still no dice — his iPhone won’t work.

The One Ill Building 

Jonathan Hoefler:

Suddenly, intercaps have a genuine purpose: invisible to machines, they aid human comprehension, which is ultimately the goal of all typography.

SIM-Unlocked iPhones No Longer Work With Non-AT&T SIM Cards 

iPhoneSimFree is reporting that there’s nothing “bricked” about an iPhoneSimFree-unlocked iPhone updated with 1.1.1 software — but, of course, they no longer activate with non-AT&T SIM cards.

Oskar Blues’s New Brewery 

Oskar Blues — brewers of my favorite beer, Dale’s Pale Ale — is opening a new brewery. (Via Jim Ray.)

Say Hello to Web Standards 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

There’s something new at Apple’s online store: web standards and accessibility.

FastScripts 2.3.4 

Daniel Jalkut:

So let me try to summarize some of FastScripts’s selling points more effectively than the current product page does.

Lightroom Journal: Personality as a Conscious Part of Software Design 

Mark Hamburg, Adobe software architect and project lead for Lightroom:

All products have a personality of one sort or another. That personality is at the heart of how the product works, what it feels like to use, etc. Sometimes that personality is relatively muted and/or buried behind other conventions. Sometimes it is directly in one’s face. Very often it is something that happens more or less by accident, but that accidental nature doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Michael Tsai on Pixelmator 1.0 

“It feels a lot like older, less Windowsy, versions of Photoshop.”

Layer Tennis Tomorrow 

Keep your afternoon clear.

The Reason It’s Called the Wi-Fi Music Store 

Just in case you had any doubt, the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store doesn’t work via EDGE.

iPhone Update: September ’07 

QuickTime movie from Apple showing off the new features in the 1.1.1 iPhone update.

iWork Updates: Pages, Keynote, Numbers 

Available now via Software Update: Keynote 4.0.1, Pages 3.0.1, and Numbers 1.0.1. Love these detailed release notes displays in Software Update:

(Keynote:) This update primarily addresses issues with builds and performance.

(Pages:) This update primarily addresses issues with change tracking and performance.

(Numbers:) This update primarily addresses issues with tables and performance.

Macworld: Apple Releases iPhone Update 1.1.1 

Jim Dalrymple has the run-down on what’s new:

New for the iPhone with software update 1.1.1 is loud speaker and receiver volume; Home button double-click shortcut to phone favorites or music controls; Space bar double-tap shortcut to intelligently insert period and space; Mail attachments are now viewable in portrait and landscape modes; Stocks and cities can be reordered; Apple Bluetooth Headset battery status is now in the Status Bar; support has been added for TV Out; Preference to turn EDGE/GPRS off when roaming internationally has been added; Passcode lock time intervals; and adjustable volume alerts.

Security Fixes in iPhone 1.1.1 Update 

Mostly in MobileSafari.

iPhone Software Version 1.1.1 

Best new feature: double-tapping Home button to jump to your phone favorites. (It’s configurable in Settings → General → Home Button.) Unsurprisingly, it breaks all known methods for adding third-party software, as well as breaking Ambrosia’s iToner.

I installed 1.1.1 directly on top of my hacked 1.0.2 system. All my custom apps were wiped out, of course (because the restore process that installs the 1.1.1 upgrade installs the entire OS from scratch), but all my data is intact. Worth pointing out that I’d only “hacked” my phone with custom software — no diddling with the SIM unlocking.

The Histogram as the Image 

Clever.

Tracking Twitter 

Wonder why this is SMS/IM only? When I use Twitter from my phone, it’s via the web.

Hotel Chevalier 

Now available from the iTunes Store: Hotel Chevalier, a free 13-minute short film by Wes Anderson, starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman. It’s a prequel to Anderson’s soon-to-be-released The Darjeeling Limited. (Might not be work-safe, depending on your workplace’s policies toward nudity, profanity, and Futura.)

Update: Alas, it’s apparently only available from the U.S. iTunes Store. Anyone knows of a workaround for our non-U.S. friends, let me know. Update 2: What works, at least for some people, is changing your store to the U.S. and creating a new account with a bogus U.S. address. You won’t be able to buy anything, but you can download free stuff.

Apple Store Redesign 

Nice job from the Apple Store design team, bringing the look-and-feel in line with the recent apple.com redesign.

The Intersection of Cool and Awesome 

Speaking of Acorn, Jonathan Wight’s plugin for using the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator in Acorn looks cool as shit. (Via Gus Mueller.)

Brief Acorn/Pixelmator/Photoshop/Graphic Converter/iPhoto Comparison 

Jon Whipple:

Pixelmator has arrived, and just when I was processing cover art, scans and stuff to add to my iTunes collection. Here are some rushed first impressions, where I compare it to Acorn, the venerable Graphic Converter, iPhoto, and of course Photoshop.

Correct Me If I’m Mshtakan 

Andrew Watt revisits the case of the ugly Unicode Black Star in the Mshtakan font. Love the pun.

Per-Folder Settings in Path Finder 4.8 

Cocoatech Blog:

Unlike the Finder (with its notorious .DS_Store files) we use no hidden files, we do not require files scattered around in every directory, and no helper files will ever silently appear on your network shares or external hard drives.

Path Finder 4.8 will store its visual per-folder settings in a centralized SQLite database located in ~/Library/Application Support/Path Finder/CoreData. Its size is very small - mine currently weighs just about 150 KB.

Mac News Junkie Bundle 

Good deal from C-Command and Cynical Peak: $55 for a bundle with both EagleFiler and Cyndicate.

On Browsing eMusic 

So it ends up you can browse eMusic without signing up for an account; still, I don’t like their “you can’t just buy a song and that’s it” business model.

Paul Thurrott, Unimpressed by Amazon MP3 Store 

Paul Thurrott:

Amazon’s previously announced MP3 music download service is live. Dubbed amazonmp3, the service offers DRM-free MP3 music downloads. Nothing exceptional yet, and sort of the lame selection found on Wal-Mart’s similar store. Still, a step in the right direction.

I think offering the largest library of DRM-free downloadable music is quite exceptional. I predict a year from now, Amazon’s store will be a solid #2 to iTunes — and that Wal-Mart’s, assuming it’s still peddling DRM-ware, will remain in nowheresville. Any store selling music that won’t play on iPods is doomed.

Jeebus Car Emblem 

If I were going to stick something on my car, this would be it. It ought to be “Jebus”, though. (Thanks to Nat Irons.)

15 Billion More Reasons to Worry About Facebook 

Kara Swisher:

More laughable still is that Facebook, according to the Journal story, might be holding out for a $15 billion valuation.

Why? Because I believe Silicon Valley can now be considered to be at Delusional Level Red. Or green, given all the cash that is being shoved in Facebook’s direction now.

Amazon MP3 Files Don’t Contain User-Identifying Metadata 

The Associated Press:

Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president for digital music, said it will be up to customers to use the music they buy legally.

To help stop music piracy, Carr said some record labels add a digital watermark to MP3 files that indicate what company sold the song, and Amazon adds its own name and the item number of the song, for customer service purposes. He added that no details about the buyer or the transaction are added to the downloaded music file.

Apple’s DRM-free iTunes Plus files contain your name and email address (well, your iTunes user account ID, which is generally an email address).

Pixelmator 1.0 

Pixelmator, the HUD-a-riffic $59 bitmap image editor, ships:

Pixelmator supports more than 100 different file formats, including Photoshop images with layers, and it comes with more than 15 color correction tools and 50 Core Image-powered filters, transform tools, fill and stroke, Gradients, QuickMask mode, full-screen editing mode, Automator support, ColorSync support, Spotlight support, and much more.

I don’t mind that all the palettes are HUD-style, but it seems gratuitous that the document windows are too.

Scott McNulty Reviews Amazon MP3 

“I am not an audiophile, so both files sounded the same to me, but in my heart of hearts the Amazon track sounded better only because it has no DRM and it cost me 10 cents less.”

Macworld: Adobe to Release Mac Version of Photoshop Elements 6 in ‘Early 2008’ 

“There is no indication if the Mac version will include these same features.”

Helvetica Coffee Mug 

“Coffee, like Helvetica, is an acquired taste.” (Via Swissmiss.)

Amazon Launches ‘Public Beta’ of DRM-Free Music Download Store 

Very cool: Amazon has launched a “public beta” of Amazon MP3, a DRM-free music download store. Compares well against iTunes: singles cost $.89 or $.99, albums cost $5.99 to $9.99, and, because the format is DRM-free MP3 (encoded at a respectable 256 kbps), the files are compatible with all digital music players, as well as all operating systems. The only downside is that with just two million songs, it offers far fewer songs than iTunes. The problem there, surely, is with music labels that refuse to sell DRM-free tracks. The music labels should get their heads out of the sand and get on board with this, because unlike Amazon’s Unbox, this looks like a terrific iTunes rival.

Griffin Technology: Radio Shark 2 

I don’t know how I missed it, but I wasn’t aware that Griffin had come out with a second generation Radio Shark until I saw it mentioned as a supported input device for Rogue Amoeba’s new Radioshift app. Radio Shark is a $50 USB AM/FM radio tuner — the only one I know of that works on the Mac.

Virgin Digital Music Store to Shut Down 

Exhibit #44731 in the case against DRM:

The site now advises its customers who have purchased tracks to back them up, as they will not be able to download them again once Virgin Digital has closed. It’s unclear whether the purchasers of individual tracks will be able to access their songs without burning them to CD and reimporting them as MP3s, but it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re one of those customers. And naturally, subscribing members will lose access altogether once their subscriptions lapse.

Photoshop Elements 6 

Looks like a dumbed-down (and homely) version of Lightroom. Windows-only.

Another AppleScript for Getting the Size of the Main Display 

Mike Byrne with a multiple-monitor-aware alternative to this script I posted last year.

Phil Schiller on Unlocked iPhones Warning 

The Associated Press:

“This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in an interview. “It’s unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for … those consequences.”

Apple: iPhone Unlocking Apps May Render iPhones ‘Permanently Inoperable’ After Upcoming Software Update 

Warning from Apple regarding unlocked iPhones:

Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone’s software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed. Apple plans to release the next iPhone software update, containing many new features including the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, later this week.

To be clear, it seems as though Apple is specifically talking about SIM unlocking — the hacks that allow iPhones to be used on networks other than AT&T’s — not iPhone hacking in general. Assuming some unlocked iPhones really will be rendered inoperable by the upcoming update, the innocent explanation is that the unlocking tools diddled where they ought not to have diddled and Apple isn’t going to, or isn’t able to, undo the damage while still closing the holes that allowed these unlocks to work. “Irreparable” is a strong word, though. What exactly is it that can’t be reset to factory conditions?

(Via Nik Fletcher.)

Rogue Amoeba: Radioshift 1.0 

Like TiVo for radio.

I repeat: like TiVo for radio. Not only does Radioshift record streaming audio in all popular formats — RealAudio, Windows Media, QuickTime, even AM/FM if you have a Griffin Radio Shark — but it also offers 50,000 schedules for programs and radio stations, so, like with TiVo, you can simply subscribe to the shows you want to follow and they’ll be recorded automatically. But unlike TiVo, the programming schedules are free — you pay $32 for Radioshift and the program schedules are just there.

This is a killer product.

Seed Conference: Chicago: 29 October 2007 

One-day conference on design, entrepeneurship, and inspiration. Sounds like a good way to spend a Monday to me.

Starbucks to Give Away 50 Million Songs on iTunes 

Free songs to be given out at Starbucks stores across the country, starting October 2:

Thirty-seven artists with featured songs include Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell — the first two to sign on with Starbucks’ Hear Music label — along with Joss Stone, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Annie Lennox and Band of Horses. The first song will be Bob Dylan’s “Joker Man.”

(Via Jacqui Cheng.)

Someecards 

Best e-cards ever. (Via Merlin Mann’s newly-redesigned 43 Folders.)

‘Hotel Chevalier’ 

Director Wes Anderson is releasing Hotel Chevalier, a 13-minute short film prequel to The Darjeeling Limited. Hotel Chevalier stars Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman, and is premiering Tuesday night at Apple Stores in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Santa Monica — then will be made available as a free download from iTunes.

Cowboys Rout Bears 34-10 

Cheer up Chicago: Your quarterback is a complete disaster, but (a) the Cubs are looking good to win the division, and (b) Homer Simpson visited town during the The Simpsons season premiere.

Darth Vader Blues 

Now we know the power of the Dark Side. Via CP.

New York Times Magazine Profile of Justice John Paul Stevens 

Inspiring profile of 87-year-old Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, by Jeffrey Rosen:

Since Stevens joined the court, he has also been the only justice routinely to write the first drafts of his own opinions — the other justices have generally relied on clerks to write their first drafts and then rewritten (or at least edited) the drafts to various degrees. “Sometimes the draft is pretty short,” Stevens told me, “but at least I write enough so that I’ve had a chance to think it through.” Stevens said writing a first draft was “terribly important” because “you often don’t understand a case until you’ve tried to write it out.”

The man’s 87, but fit as a fiddle: he plays tennis three times a week and swims every day.

Douglas Coupland: I Luv Helvetica 

Newly freed from behind The Times’s pay wall, author Douglas Coupland on Helvetica:

In the world of type, Helvetica was the supposed endpoint of design. It was designed to be 100-percent emotionally neutral (yes, how Swiss, the same country that brought us sleeping pills — Helvetica is the Latin name for Switzerland), and when it was marketed in 1961, it caused a revolution, because everything the font touched it modernized. Helvetica essentially takes any word or phrase and pressure-washes it into sterility. I love it.

Hahlo 2.0 

New version of Dean Robinson’s iPhone web app client for Twitter. Very nice.

‘He Gets His Social Skills From His Father’ 

My wife with the funny on Twitter.

A Better Analogy 

The Macalope:

A better analogy would be someone who claimed they had something you knew existed but just hadn’t seen before. Like maybe an Indian Head nickel. And when you asked to see it they said, oh, they’d love to show you but you wouldn’t understand it because you’re not a coin collector. And you were like huh? C’mon, stop being a jerk and show it to me. And they said they couldn’t because the U.S. Mint might sue them.

‘A Singular, Unparalleled, Variety Extravaganza’ 

Splendid work from the crackerjacks at Airbag Industries.

Photos From iPhone Event in Berlin 

Great photos from Thorsten Wulff from the iPhone announcement in Berlin. There are a few more that aren’t in the photoset in his Flickr stream.

‘Unlimited’ Means ‘Limited’? What a Country! 

Glenn Fleishman on O2’s iPhone data plans:

The data plans for EDGE and Wi-Fi are “unlimited” not unlimited. The footnote on O2’s information page says that unlimited “fair usage” is included. But that’s just garbage.

iPod Touch: State of the Jailbreak 

Hackers still haven’t figured out how to “jailbreak” the iPod Touch to access the underlying file system. Strikes me as a good bet that the next iPhone update will be locked similarly — so get your iPhone hacking ya-yas out now, or be prepared to stick to the soon-to-be-outdated 1.0.2 iPhone software.

Macs Really Do Run Windows Better 

Steven Frank:

Ever since Boot Camp appeared on the scene, there have been several comments about Macs being better Windows machines than Windows machines. The weird thing is it’s actually true.

From Boys of Summer to Men of Steel 

A brief message from Paul Lukas on sports uniform design trends.

iLounge: Is Apple Going Rotten? 

iLounge on the rash of recent “Boy, that sucks” decisions from Apple. I think Apple is going to do the right thing with crummy iPod Touch displays, but the other three issues are spot-on: new iPods don’t work with existing video-out docks and cables, instead requiring expensive new cables from Apple; if you bought games for your video iPod last year, you have to re-purchase the same games to play them on the new Nanos; and the whole ringtones racket.

Zengobi Curio 4 

My thanks to Zengobi for sponsoring this week’s RSS feed. Zengobi’s Curio combines mind-mapping, brainstorming, and project management. And it looks good, too. Through the end of September, use the coupon code “DARING” when purchasing and you’ll save 10 percent.

Bottled Drinks 

Izze Sparkling Clementine Juice FTW.

Walt Mossberg’s iPod Touch Review 

Complains about battery life — it’s not bad, but it wasn’t as good as what Apple claims — and gets confirmation from Apple that the display problems reported by many Touch owners are, in fact, a hardware problem affecting some units. (Mossberg reports that the displays on his two demo units both look great.)

VoodooPad and Acorn Updates 

Gus Mueller:

Both have bug fixes, and a couple of new features. Acorn’s update is mostly to fix a handful of crashers and a couple of new features that lots of people have been asking for. VoodooPad’s “wiki markup engine” (vroom vroom?) has had some minor tweaks so that it won’t wipe out custom links pasted from other apps, among other things.

MacJournals: On Ringtones and Copyrights 

MDJ’s scrupulously detailed look at the intersection of ringtones and copyright law. Part of the argument here is that making a ringtone necessitates making an additional copy of the song file, whether it’s truncated or not. That’s just a matter of implementation, though — Apple could easily allow the iPhone’s phone app to play the same song files in your regular music library.

Also, this is interesting:

You can peek behind the curtain just a little bit by looking at the FAQ page from TuneCore, a company that takes a flat fee for putting digital music to which you own the copyright onto online stores such as the iTunes Store, Napster, eMusic, Rhapsody, MusicNet, GroupieTunes, and others, both in the United States and internationally. TuneCore swears up, down, and sideways that it does not keep even the tiniest percentage of the royalties from any online store, instead taking a flat fee per year and per album to get your tunes listed. As part of this, TuneCore discloses the royalty rates paid to artists on the various systems.

Playlist Reviews the iPod Touch 

Christopher Breen: “Among my list of concerns only one is a deal-killer—the quality of the video.”

Dr. Copperplate and Mr. Gothic 

Armin Vit on Copperplate Gothic.

Mint: Year Two in Review 

Shaun Inman:

Two years ago this past Labor Day I launched Mint. No, not that “inspired” third-party finance aggregator the VCs are going gaga over. The original Mint, the only (to my knowledge) self-hosted, real-time, extensible web stats app. So what’s happened since the first yearly review (for posterity and those who are just now joining us)?

I count Mint as one of my essential tools for running DF.

Canadian Dollar Reaches Parity With Staggering U.S. Greenback 

The dollar also hit an all-time low against the Euro. Heck of a job, Bushie.

Carl Howe on Apple’s iPhone Marketing Strategy 

Carl Howe is a very smart dude:

Consumers value what they pay for. They don’t value things the perceive as free. And that’s the marketing blunder the US mobile phone market has bought into over the last 10 to 15 years. By bundling “free” and generic phones with cell phone service, mobile carriers have devalued both the brand values of the handset makers and their own services.

Put Your Content in my Pocket, Part II 

Second part of Craig Hockenberry’s outstanding guide to MobileSafari-optimized web development for A List Apart.

iPhone and iPod: Contain or Disengage? 

Terrific essay from Wil Shipley on Apple’s growing hubris:

Apple’s emulating the most pernicious qualities of Nintendo and the Microsoft XBox — you pay us a tax or you don’t work with our systems.

But Apple’s “approval” just comes from Apple getting a cut. It’s a measure of greed, not quality. We’re not talking about THX-certification here, we’re talking about extortion. This kind of lock-in seems very appealing for the company doing the locking early on, but it always, ALWAYS ends up biting the company in the butt. Ask IBM with their ubiquitous 970 servers and their extortionist service contracts. Oh, wait, those don’t exist any more.

The best thing that could happen to Apple this year would be for Microsoft’s Zune 2.0 to be a kick-ass product, both technologically and in terms of being designed to make customers happy, not entertainment conglomerates. Apple needs competition.

More on JetPens 

After I linked to their wonderful Japanese imported .38mm Pilot G2 pens, they sold out. Good news: the black ones are back in stock.

Number One Priority 

One more thing regarding Bill Carter’s New York Times report on NBC’s idiotic new “free TV show downloads that only work on Windows, expire in a week, and have commercials you’re not allowed to fast forward through” initiative:

But, Mr. Gaspin said, “piracy was and is our No. 1 priority.” He said that the music industry had been devastated by the free exchange of music, much of it facilitated by iTunes.

That’s Jeff Gaspin, the president of the NBC Universal Television Group. So his number-one priority is piracy. Not making high-quality shows. Not forging a sponsorship or advertising model that is less annoying and distracting to viewers, such that they (the viewers) would be less likely to want to fast-forward the advertising messages. No, piracy, that’s his top priority.

And shame on Bill Carter for letting Gaspin’s statement regarding iTunes being a facilitator of music piracy stand undisputed. What Gaspin means is simply that iTunes allows you to play non-DRM-protected music (and video). In the entertainment industry’s mind, anything that can be used to play bootlegged copyrighted material is deemed problematic. It’s despicable.

What To Do With 756 

Mike Monteiro on Bonds’s home run ball: “I voted to send it to the Hall. It’s history; and not all history is pretty.”

Vote756.com 

Designer Marc Ecko paid $750,000 for Barry Bonds’s record-breaking home run ball; he’s now holding an online poll to determine whether to (a) send it to Cooperstown; (b) brand it with an asterisk and then send it to Cooperstown; or (c) banish the ball.

I give Bonds shit because I do believe he cheated by using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. But I voted for (a), if for no other reason than that he’s been proven guilty of no such thing. The fact is he hit every one of those home runs, and every one of them is in the books.

Mint.com: Refreshing Money Management 

(a) A web app that, at least at a glance, looks like an arch-rival to the year-old Wesabe; (b) the “winner” of the TechCrunch 40, a depressingly uninspired collection of (in many cases laughably-named) startups competing at a conference organized by Mike Arrington and Jason Calacanis; and (c) a name that was already taken.

Regarding the Idea That Maybe You Can Make a Copy of the Helvetica Font Files on an iPhone and Just Give Them Marker Felt’s File Names 

Dozens of readers emailed to suggest this; I tried it, it doesn’t work. In short, font names are embedded within the data of the font file, they don’t come from the font’s file name.

It wasn’t a bad idea to try it, though.

NBC to Offer Crappy Windows-Only Downloads of Its Shows 

Bill Carter, reporting for The New York Times on NBC’s new plans for “free” TV show downloads:

But the files, which would be downloaded overnight to home computers, would contain commercials that viewers would not be able to skip through. And the file would not be transferable to a disk or to another computer.

I get the feeling NBC would like to force us to watch the commercials Clockwork Orange-style.

The files would degrade after the seven-day period and be unwatchable. “Kind of like ‘Mission: Impossible,’ only I don’t think there would be any explosion and smoke,” Mr. Gaspin said.

This sounds way better than iTunes!

The programs will initially be downloadable only to PCs with the Windows operating system, but NBC said it planned to make the service available to Mac computers and iPods later.

I’m sure NBC has some intern downloading a copy of Xcode as we speak.

Gems From the Archive of the New York Times 

Jason Kottke:

Now that the NY Times has discontinued their Times Select subscription program and made much more of their 150+ years of content available for anyone to read and link to, let’s take a look at some of the more notable items that the non-subscriber has been missing.

The Conscience of a Liberal 

The world’s best political commentator, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, is now also writing a weblog for The Times. Hooray for the unpaywalled Times.

Stephen Fry: ‘Device and Desires’ 

Actor and writer Stephen Fry is a gadget hound, and proves it in this extensive survey of the current state-of-the-art in the smartphone market. E.g., regarding the Sony-Ericsson P1i:

The P1i is what happens when “oh, that’ll do” becomes the corporate motto. UIQ promised something, the actual GUI is reasonable, in fact quite delightful, but it needed refinement, it needed acceleration and it needed flair. Instead we’ve got a very, very slow device that eats power, is difficult to use in varying environments and frequently hangs and crashes. In a word unusable. And I can just hear them hiding behind the excuse of “price” and “sectors of the market” and other bullshit. What, Apple’s a bigger company than Sony? Got more muscle? What muscle it has got, it got from daring to be better. That was once true of Sony too.

T-Mobile to Sell iPhone in Germany 

Goes on sales November 9 for €399; plans to be announced later.

Interesting stuff at the end of the story on iTunes song pricing in Europe. The European Commission is investigating charges that Apple is breaking the law by selling the same songs at different prices for different countries. Steve Jobs flatly lays the blame at the music labels’ feet: “We think the prices should be the same.”. “Anybody in Europe should be able to buy off of any store. I’ve been saying this from the start. But the music companies don’t permit us to resell their music that way. So it’s really an issue with the music companies.”

Smartphone Market Shares Across the World 

It’s fascinating how different the markets are in different regions of the world. Microsoft and RIM are huge in the U.S., but mere also-rans everywhere else. Linux is huge in Asia, but barely registers in Europe or North America. And Symbian dominates the entire world except for North America, where it’s behind even Apple, which only entered the market three months ago.

David Maynor’s Home Office 

David Maynor:

Here is a pick [sic] of the home office I have been working from, this setup is mostly duplicated everywhere else I would work from, I thought you might just want to see what the fuss is about.

Let me guess which part of the setup is not duplicated everywhere else he might work from. Um: all the guns laying around on the table and floor?

‘Always Wait for Something Better’ 

The Macalope on David Berlind:

New Yorkers like to say that the outdoors is something you have to go through to get to the cab. Well, EDGE is something you have to go through to get to WiFi. My god, people act like EDGE is some blight on the human condition like polio or something, as if there were no trade-offs to be made that 3G was simply better.

It’s not.

Comments on John Nack’s weblog are rather negative.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.0 

Looks like a splendid update to Mike Bombich’s donationware rival to SuperDuper. New features include block-level disk-to-disk clones, better synchronization features, network backups, and scheduling features.

WireTap Studio Preview Movies 

Ambrosia’s Andrew Welch links to a slew of QuickTime movies showing off their upcoming WireTap Studio.

Undercover 

$49 theft-notification software for Mac OS X notebooks; if your machine is stolen, it starts transmitting things like current screenshots, network settings, and, if there’s a built-in iSight, photos from the camera. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

TrueGrain 

$300 “pro-grade tool for accurately recapturing the aesthetics of black-and-white film with digital photography”; simulates the grain of a bunch of specific black-and-white film stocks.

Complete Archives of ‘Siskel & Ebert’ and ‘Ebert & Roeper’ From 1986 to Present 

Via Kottke, the complete post-1986 movie reviews from Siskel, Ebert, and Roeper’s show. Gene Siskel, we miss you.

Watch Siskel hand Ebert his hat in their review of Full Metal Jacket from 1987 — Siskel calls it a “near masterpiece” and nails it with regard to the dual emotions evoked by the combat scenes: thrill and terror. Ebert, on the other hand, seems to have watched some other movie, and his repeated comparisons to Platoon seem utterly irrelevant 20 years later.

Another classic, this one they both get right: GoodFellas in 1990.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 

Upcoming Wii game lets you use the controller as a lightsaber. As if demand for Wiis weren’t high enough already.

David Maynor Releases Details of Wi-Fi Exploit Report From August 2006 

Details available in this paper.

Only app I know of with a logo that isn’t used at all as part of its icon or about box. Sort of reminds me of the old PBS logo. (Thanks to Neven Mrgan.)

Double-Tap Home Button Preference in iPhone 1.1.1 OS 

iPhones running the 1.1.1 release of the OS were on hand at today’s event in London; this screenshot from Engadget shows the new options available for double-tapping the Home button: Home, Phone Favorites, or iPod. (Plus, you can optionally set it to invoke heads-up display playback controls if audio is currently playing, which is what double-tapping Home does on the iPod Touch.)

Good call by Steven Berlin Johnson back in July.

iTunes to Be Exclusive Distributor of Ed Burns’s New Movie 

This AP profile of filmmaker Ed Burns ends with an interesting nugget:

Next month, Burns’ new romantic comedy, “Purple Violets,” will become the first featured film to be released and distributed by iTunes.

I looked for more information about this, and found this excerpt of an interview with Burns from PremiumHollywood:

Burns: So, we’re gambling and we’re gonna be the first film that is released exclusively through iTunes. It’ll be available for four weeks exclusively, and the idea is we’ll promote it the same as you would a theatrical release and we’ll see what the numbers are. If the attendance, if the downloads, which we expect to be a much higher numbers than the attendance, I think it’ll be the way I would go in the future for small movies like this. […]

Reporter: When did you say it would be available?

Burns: Um, October 9th.

Reporter: Is iTunes promising you a huge amount of promotion for doing this?

Burns: Huge is a relative term. We’ll have to see, but they’re promising promotion. I hope it’s huge.

New Promotional Site for Mac Office 2008 

Whole thing is done in Flash.

The D/Objective-C Bridge 

Michel Fortin on his newly-released D/Objective-C Bridge.

Candid Camera: The Cult of Leica 

Anthony Lane in The New Yorker:

The Leica is lumpless, with a flat top built from a single piece of brass. It has no prism, because it focusses with a range finder—situated above the lens. And it has no mirror inside, and therefore no clunk as the mirror swings. When you take a picture with an S.L.R., there is a distinctive sound, somewhere between a clatter and a thump; I worship my beat-up Nikon FE, but there is no denying that every snap reminds me of a cow kicking over a milk pail. With a Leica, all you hear is the shutter, which is the quietest on the market. The result — and this may be the most seductive reason for the Leica cult — is that a photograph sounds like a kiss.

The Talk Show, Episode 10 

“I hear a pussycat.”

iToner Still Works 

So yesterday’s iTunes 7.4.2 update breaks all the known workarounds for freely adding custom iPhone ringtones via file-extension renaming and AAC metadata hacking. But Ambrosia’s $15 iToner still works like a charm. (iToner doesn’t go through iTunes, it communicates directly with your iPhone, so I think only an iPhone software update could affect iToner, not an iTunes update.)

Jeffrey Zeldman: ‘Facebook Considered Harmless’ 

Thank goodness Zeldman joined Facebook; gets me one step closer to my goal of being the last person on the web who has not.

Big Sale at Freeverse 

30 percent off Freeverse’s games and apps, through September 20.

Presentations Added to Google Docs 

Doesn’t work with Safari (including version 3). Otherwise, seems like a reasonable web-based presentation editor.

Apple Chooses O2 as Exclusive Carrier for iPhone in U.K. 

Apple:

iPhone is scheduled to go on sale on November 9 and will be sold exclusively in the UK through Apple’s retail and online stores, O2 and The Carphone Warehouse’s retail and online stores. iPhone will be available in an 8GB model for £269 (inc VAT) and will work with either a PC or Mac. Three new great value iPhone tariffs will be available from O2 starting at £35, which all include unlimited anytime, anywhere mobile data usage and, in a market first, free unlimited use of the UK’s largest single public Wi-Fi network, covering over 7,500 cafes, restaurants, airport lounges, pubs and other locations across the UK.

The free access to a large network of Wi-Fi hotspots sounds great; I wish AT&T had something to offer like that.

European Court of First Instance: Microsoft Abused Its Dominant Position 

David Charter reporting for The Times Online:

The judges in Luxembourg supported a fine of €497 million and confirmed the Commision’s ruling that by bundling up Windows Media Player with its Windows operating system, Microsoft had damaged rival media players’ ability to compete. They also upheld an order by the Commission in 2004 that Microsoft supply technical information to other companies, such as Sun Microsystems, so that they can make their servers compatible with Windows-based software.

Gary Vaynerchuk on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday 

Set your TiVos to record: Gary tells me he has a bet with one of Ellen’s producers that he can generate a 15-percent spike in TiVo recordings for the show.

The Truth Hurts 

The Boston Herald:

Griffin Whitman, a 10-year-old Red Sox fan from Swampscott, was excited to attend his first Yankees vs. Red Sox game Friday night. The young autograph-collector was even more thrilled to score Yankees outfielder Shelley Duncan’s signature before the game. That is, until Griffin read the message from the 27-year-old rookie: “Red Sox suck! Shelley Duncan.” […]

Griffin’s mother, Karen, blasted the Yankees slugger’s bad manners.

“This is someone who wears the Yankee uniform and is on the payroll and should be setting an example for 10-year-olds,” she said.

Jesus, they really bleed the sense of humor out of Red Sox fans from a young age. Maybe they’re just born joyless and miserable. When I was 10 I would have laughed my ass off if some player from the Red Sox had given me a “Yankees suck!” autograph.

Meizu M8 

This upcoming phone looks like a rip-off of Nokia’s upcoming phone.

New York Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site 

Glad to hear it. I didn’t mind paying the $50 a year for TimesSelect — I’d pay that just to read Paul Krugman and Frank Rich — but it was frustrating not to be able to link to certain articles at The Times because they were behind the pay wall.

iTunes 7.4.2 

No release notes online (that I’ve seen), but the Software Update blurb says: “iTunes 7.4.2 addresses an issue with creating ringtones using iTunes Plus song purchases and includes bug fixes to improve stability and performance.”

Where by “bug fixes” they mean “closes the loopholes that allow you to create ringtones for free from the music you already own.”

Reuters: ‘Apple’s iPhone Can Only Help Rivals in Europe’ 

Tarmo Virki reporting for Reuters:

Major handset vendors have much more to gain than to lose from the buzz Apple Inc’s coveted iPhone will create when it arrives in European stores for the key shopping season ahead of Christmas.

In other news, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

Inscribed in the Living Tile: Type in the Toronto Subway 

Joe Clark on the sad typographic history of the Toronto subway system.

Trailer: ‘No Country For Old Men’ 

Modern-day Western from Joel and Ethan Coen. Can’t wait. The Coen brothers are on my list of filmmakers who I’d go see a movie they made about paint drying.

Pay Phones on Chestnut Street Between 10th and Broad 

Photographs taken on my walk home from lunch yesterday.

10¢ Phone 2 Your Right

TechCrunch: ‘Yahoo Acquires Zimbra for $350 Million in Cash’ 

Mike Arrington:

Yahoo will announce the acquisition of open source online/offline office suite Zimbra this evening, we just heard through a very solid source. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 for iPhone 

“Also, we’ve done away with warning dialog boxes in Photoshop. Instead, Photoshop actually calls your iPhone and tells you the warning!” (Thanks to Dan Benjamin.)

‘Where Thieves and Pimps Run Free’ 

So that aforelinked quote on the music business from Hunter S. Thompson? Ends up it’s a widely-cited misquote. The actual quote is about the TV industry:

“The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”

That it’s equally true for the music industry is why the misquote resonates. (Thanks to Ramanan Sivaranjan for the link to David Emery’s investigation on the quote.)

Cinemascapes 

Rosecrans Baldwin interviews photographer Aaron Hobson.

Devicescape Connect 

Glenn Fleishman:

Devicescape has released a simple application for the iPhone that lets you connect to Wi-Fi hotspots without all the fuss of tapping in user names and passwords, clicking Accept buttons, or remembering WEP and WPA encryption keys. Devicescape’s Connect application requires the Nullriver AppTapp application installer, a third-party hack that enables easy installation of software on the iPhone.

Mark Cuban Switches to the Mac 

Billionaire captain of industry Mark Cuban — who really does capitalize and punctuate his writing as you see below — got frustrated with Windows, bought a MacBook, and loves it:

First is that when I close my MacBook without turning it off, it doesn’t lose power. It can sit there for hours and then work when I open it up.

The 2nd is that it rarely freezes up. Maybe 3 or 4 times in months.

Finally, i LOVE the fact that it boots up in 1/1000000000 of the time it takes my PC. It probably will add years to my life .. (ok an exaggeration).

Im not an Apple fanboy, but I love me some MacBook

There’s a whole class of recent switchers who define “Apple fanboy” as “anyone who’s been an enthusiastic Mac user since before I switched to the Mac”.

Humanized Enso Beta Products 

New software from Humanized; might be of interest to DF readers who use Windows.

Hunter S. Thompson on the Music Business 

Good words to keep in mind regarding the ringtone racket, from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson:

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

Update: Ends up this is a misquote.

Jottit 

Radically simple web-based web page editor, by Aaron Swartz and Simon Carstensen. Starting a new page, the first time you visit the site, could not be any simpler: you just type text (Markdown-formatted, natch) in a textarea and click a button. No sign up, no account creation. Just write. After creating a page, you can password protect it, but you don’t have to if you don’t need to.

More info on Jottit from Aaron Swartz.

Nasty Legal Fight Over Ringtones Between Bob Marley’s Family, Verizon, and Universal Music 

I love the lead by reporter Andrew Adam Newman:

The licensing dispute between the estate of the reggae singer Bob Marley and the Universal Music Group took an ugly turn yesterday, with nobody getting together or feeling the least bit all right.

Market Share 

2003 piece from the DF archives, just as apt today, on the Mac’s market share:

Overall PC market share covers large market segments where Apple isn’t competing — including markets where Apple doesn’t want to compete. Fifteen or 20 years ago, personal computers were generally only purchased and used by people who were “into” computers. Today, however, many computers are purchased for use as generic business machines, modern-day typewriters and adding machines.

Randall Stross in The New York Times on the Mac’s Overall PC Market Share 

So The New York Times ran a piece today by Randall Stross, which can more or less be summarized as follows: Microsoft’s Windows Vista is a turd, and Apple has blown it by not increasing the Mac’s market share even more than they have in the past year. Stross makes all the usual mistakes in Mac market share analysis, first and foremost by confusing who Apple is competing against. Apple does not sell an operating system that competes against Windows. Apple sells computers. Apple does not sell as many computers as Dell or HP, but Apple makes way more money per computer sold than Dell or HP (or any other major PC maker).

Precise Screen Sizes for iPod Touch and iPhone 

Just in case you wanted one more piece of evidence that the iPhone and iPod Touch use different screens, Apple’s documentation for iPod and iPhone case designers has precise dimensions. The iPhone screen measures 76.38 × 51.42 mm; the iPod Touch screen measures 74.9 × 49.9 mm. (Thanks to François Menu.)

iPhone Features You’ll Miss Out on by Buying an iPod Touch 

Bill Palmer runs down everything the iPhone has that the iPod Touch doesn’t.

iPod Classic Audio Measurements 

Detailed audio quality analyis of the iPod Classic by Marc Heijligers:

Trying to reveal what I hear with the new iPod, I’ve measured the device and I’ve compared it to the iPod Video 5G. The measurements show is that the iPod Classic (also called 6G) indeed has an uplift in treble, and its timing response is incorrect. I assume Apple is able to patch the flaws by means of a firmware update.

Apple Engineers Refer to Chinese Factory as ‘Mordor’ 

Entry for “send to Mordor” at the Double-Tongued Dictionary:

Hardware techies at Apple are regularly sent from California for intense two-week shifts to the city-sized FoxConn factory in Shenzhen, China where iPods are made and tested. Internally at Apple this is known as “being sent to Mordor.”

I’m sure it’s a lovely place. (Via Kottke.)

1996 Charlie Rose Interview With Steve Jobs and John Lasseter 

Terrific interview, after the release of Toy Story, but before Jobs’s return to Apple. (Via Kottke.)

The Definition of Insanity 

Jeremy Allison, on the suspicous voting patterns in the ISO standardization process for Microsoft’s OOXML document formats:

So we saw over the past few weeks some strange and rather irregular national positions coming to light. My own favorites were Cuba voting “yes” to the fast-tracking of OOXML, even though Microsoft is prohibited by the US Government from selling any software on the island that might even be able to read and write the new format, and Azerbaijan’s “yes” vote, even though OOXML as defined isn’t able to express a Web URL address in Azeri, their official language.

(Via Simon Willison.)

The ‘longdesc’ Lottery 

Mark Pilgrim, writing for the WHATWG weblog, on the longdesc attribute:

That means that less than 1% of images that provide a longdesc attribute are actually useful. No more than one in a hundred get it right, of one in a thousand that even try.

One-Fifth of Retail Copies of Microsoft Office Are for Mac 

From a CNet story on Vista’s slower than expected adoption rate:

Retail sales of Office products from January through June were roughly double those of Office 2003 during its first six months on the market and up 59.6 percent from Office sales for the first six months of last year. […]

While much of the sales were for the new Office 2007, Swenson said just over 20 percent of all boxed copies of Office were Office for Mac. Swenson credited the large number of people switching to Macs as part of the reason for the spike in Mac Office sales.

That doesn’t mean Mac Office account for one-fifth of Office’s total sales — the corporate enterprise market doesn’t buy boxed retail copies of Office — but it’s still impressive, especially considering that the current version of Mac Office is rather old and doesn’t run natively on Intel Macs. (Thanks to Alex Merz.)

iPod Touch Technical Specifications 

According to their tech specs pages, the iPod Touch and iPhone both have 3.5-inch displays with 480 × 320 resolution, but the iPhone checks in at 160 ppi, the iPod Touch at an ever-so-slightly-denser 163 ppi. So they apparently don’t use the same display. (Thanks to everyone who pointed this out.)

Adobe Releases Lightroom 1.2 and Camera Raw 4.2 

Looks like Lightroom 1.2 is mostly a bug fix update; Camera Raw 4.2 adds support for a slew of new cameras.

iPod Touch’s Display Not as Good as iPhone’s? 

Photos from Macworld, comparing the iPod Touch’s display to the iPhone’s:

The touch is noticeably darker, lacks fine detail, and blows out dark “highlights” into the negative.

I didn’t expect this — I figured the Touch would use the exact same display. I wonder if they just got a bad iPod Touch, or if this is evident across the board?

Why the Magnifying Glass Doesn’t Work in Some iPhone Web Apps 

Justin Williams:

We designed PocketTweets so that scaling isn’t necessary. Unfortunately, setting user-scaling to false is what is causing the magnifying glass to not work in <textarea> tags. Taking the user-scalable parameter out of the equation allows me to magnify as I please.

Jiminy, That’s Thin 

Side-by-side, the iPod Touch is a lot thinner than the iPhone, which itself is pretty thin. From AppleInsider’s unpacking photos and tour.

iPhone Store Credit Page Shows Screenshots of iPhone OS X 1.1.1 

The screenshots that show you how to check your iPhone’s serial number are based on the as-yet-unreleased 1.1.1 version of the OS. (The current release version is 1.0.2; no idea what happened to 1.1.0.) One change is an additional setting under General for “Home Button”; my guess is that it’ll let you select an action for double-clicking. The iPod Touch uses a double-click of the Home button to bring up music player controls.

The Zap Colors Bookmarklet 

Nifty bookmarklet for those of you who dislike the DF color scheme. Adding a dark-on-light option to the DF preferences page has been on the to-do list for years.

Cottyn 

New online t-shirt shop. (Via Naz Hamid.)

Phone Different 

My thanks to this week’s RSS feed sponsor, Phone Different. If you want iPhone peripherals — cases, Bluetooth headsets, chargers, anything — Phone Different’s got them. Through Wednesday, use the coupon code “MACNERDERY” to get a 10 percent discount on any purchase. They’ve got a weblog and forum packed with additional iPhone nerdery, too.

Coudal Partners’ Layer Tennis 

At long last, the return of the game formerly known as Photoshop Tennis:

We’re just about ready to roll with Layer Tennis and we’re sure you’re going to find that it has been worth the wait. If you are going to be screwing around on Friday afternoons this Fall (and who isn’t?) make sure you’re screwing around somewhere with high-speed web access.

First match, Friday 28 September: Shaun Inman vs. Kevin Cornell, with commentary by yours truly. I can’t wait.

Fake Steve on the Ringtone Racket 

Fake Steve:

Perhaps, if enough people complain, we will drop this policy at some point in the future and make ringtones free. And maybe, at that point, we will offer anyone who paid 99 cents for a ringtone a retroactive partial rebate in the form of a fifty-cent store credit. I’ve got Phil Schiller working on this right now.

Namaste right back at you, Fake Steve.

A Baffling Phenomenon: Customized Ringtones 

David Pogue on the ringtone racket:

If I buy and download a pop song legitimately, shouldn’t I be able to trigger playback any way I want? Why must I pay one fee to play it by tapping Play, and a second fee to play it when someone calls my phone?

It just makes no sense.

The New England Patriots: Cheaters 

Shameful:

The National Football League fined New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick $500,000 yesterday, and the team will forfeit its first-round draft pick in 2008 if it makes the playoffs, for violating league rules Sunday when a Patriots staff member was discovered videotaping signals by Jets coaches during the season opener at the Meadowlands.

See also: “Shady Brady and Bill Belicheat”.

iPhone $100 Store Credit Redemption 

Easy as pie: Just enter your iPhone phone number and serial number, and Apple sends you an SMS with a 6-digit passcode. Enter the passcode on Apple’s web site, and you get your $100 store credit. Took about two minutes, start to finish.

Mac Rumors’s Preview of Ambrosia Software’s WireTap Studio 

Impressive stuff. Stores your original recordings in a library:

Another related feature is lossless editing. No matter how many changes you’ve made to the recording, you can always go back to the original recording (at the highest quality). This feature is similar to how Apple’s iPhoto and Aperture applications work on digital photos, keeping the originals intact while you apply edits over time.

The LivePreview feature has to be seen to be believed.

Wii Overtakes Xbox 360 in Global Sales 

Not only did the Xbox 360 have a year-long head start, but the Nintendo still isn’t producing Wii consoles fast enough to meet demand. I still haven’t seen one on a store shelf.

iPod Touch Features Guide (PDF) 

This is certainly curious:

Before you can use any of the iPod touch features, you must use iTunes to set up and register iPod touch, and to create an iTunes Store account (if you don’t already have one).

(Thanks to Rosyna.)

Mac Office 2008 to Use the Standard Mac Installer 

Good news from Microsoft’s Mac BU’s Dunstan Gourlie:

To that end, I am happy to announce that Office 2008 for Mac will use the Apple-recommended Apple Installer technology for Office 2008 installation. This means that the data that Office installs will ship on the disc in .pkg format, installs will work well with Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) and will be Applescript-able. Once installed, the user has the freedom to move the Office folder to a different location on the system and Office will run from there. I hope that this will make Office for Mac configuration/deployment easier for IT admins.   

And in other good news, they’re no longer going to spew additional fonts in your Library folder whether you like it or not.

Apple Schedules U.K. Press Event for September 18 

Hello, iPhone.

Impressionism, Realism, and Blogging 

Kottke:

The downside for Impressionist blogs is that their individual posts don’t work that well outside of their intended context.

A good example of this is Monoscope.

Bugs Are Magic Tricks 

Spot-on analogy from Steven Frank:

A good bug, I mean a really good, pound-your-head-on-the-desk-for-a-week bug, is exactly like a magic trick in that something impossible appears to be happening.

Yours Truly on Last Night’s ‘Your Mac Life’ 

I was a guest on last night’s episode of Your Mac Life, talking to host Shawn King about the breakdown between NBC and Apple, and iTunes’s new ringtones racket.

Kirk McElhearn on the New iPod Interface 

Kirk McElhearn:

When you are on the main menu (the top-level menu), or the Music menu (which leads to Playlists, Artists, Albums, etc.), you see album art on the right half of the iPod screen. This is a random cover from your music, and it changes about every 8 seconds. It also moves around; you know, like those annoying Flash ads on web pages that distract you so you can’t read articles?

Lessons on the Surge From Economics 101 

Oliver R. Goodenough, on the U.S. occupation of Iraq:

Economics professors have a standard game they use to demonstrate how apparently rational decisions can create a disastrous result. They call it a “dollar auction.” The rules are simple. The professor offers a dollar for sale to the highest bidder, with only one wrinkle: the second-highest bidder has to pay up on their losing bid as well. Several students almost always get sucked in.

Exporting the iPhone 

Canadian Dave Shea, on the SIM unlocking hacks for the iPhone:

If you’re an American iPhone owner, you probably still remember what June 29th felt like. To a lesser degree, that was what today felt like for the rest of the world.

Sun to Become Windows Server OEM 

Scott McNealy is rolling over in his grave.

All Cool 

Emma Story, on Microsoft’s customer support for Xbox 360:

I don’t know if you’ve ever called Microsoft about a problem with your Xbox, but the whole experience seems clumsily targeted at teenage boys and fills me with murderous rage. The automated voice system has that sort of fake-cool tone you get in soda commercials, and the rep I spoke with kept asserting that various things were cool. The Xbox serial number, the color of the power supply light, my zip code: all cool. He also didn’t know what he was talking about. (“It sounds like your AV cables just, uh, died. I guess.”)

MemoryMiner and PulpMotion Cross-Promotion 

Sounds like a good deal.

Doofus 

Paul Boutin in Slate, on why he prefers his BlackBerry to an iPhone:

When I’m in a tight spot, my BlackBerry always helps me out. It also sends a subtle signal to my correspondents that I’m getting a lot done. An e-mail that says “Sent from my BlackBerry” gives the impression that you’re on the move but still chained to work, e-mailing from the elevator. An e-mail that says “Sent from my iPhone” conjures an image of a doofus who wants you to know he has an iPhone.

One could, of course, simply change the email sig in the iPhone Settings app to read “Sent from my BlackBerry”. Your colleagues will think you’re working your ass off. (Some of Boutin’s other observations, especially about BlackBerry’s AutoText feature, are actually practical.)

Billable 1.2 

Bunch of new features added to Clickable Bliss’s neato $35 invoicing app for Mac OS X. Top of the list: AppleScript support and the ability to send PDF invoices by email with a single click. Check out the screencasts to learn more.

MessagePad 2007 

Andy Ihnatko’s iPhone.

Free iPhone Unlock Software? 

According to MacApper, iPhone hackers have duplicated the iPhoneSIMfree technique for unlocking an iPhone to run on any SIM card. (If it’s true that the technique depends on a buffer overflow, kiss it goodbye with the next iPhone OS update.)

JetPens — Japanese Pens and Stationery 

The Japanese have a far better selection of pens on the market than we do here in the U.S. Maybe you knew this already, but I just learned about it a few weeks ago. For example, earlier this year I switched from the Pilot Precise V5 rollerball to the Pilot G2 gel pen. The G2 is a great pen, but alas, the finest available point — 0.5mm — isn’t quite fine enough for my taste.

It ends up Pilot produces 0.38mm G2s, but they’re only available in Japan. Luckily, JetPens.com sells Japanese pens and stationery over the Internet. I ordered a fistful of these 0.38mm G2s and they showed up yesterday — and damn if they’re not perfect. Best pen I’ve ever used. If you’re a pen nerd, prepare to break out your credit card.

Josh Pigford: ‘Image Editors Are the New FTP Application’ 

Josh Pigford, observing the recent run of new bitmap image editors for Mac OS X (Acorn, Pixelmator, Iris):

I think what really turns me off about all of this is that all of these image editors do, more or less, the same thing. Sure, they each have a different UI and will each perform tasks a tad different than the other but for the most part they all just edit images.

Substitute “text” for “images” and he’d be arguing that Allan Odgaard never should have written TextMate, or that the Coding Monkeys shouldn’t have written SubEthaEdit.

As for why image editors are suddenly popping out of the woodwork, that’s easy: Core Image. That’s not to say Core Image makes it easy to write apps like Acorn, Pixelmator, or Iris — just that it makes it a lot less work than it would have been before Core Image existed. (And don’t miss Siracusa’s quip.)

Joswiak Says Apple Has No Position on Unofficial Apps for iPhone/iPod Touch 

It’s kind of implicit that this has been Apple’s stance all along, given that there aren’t any technical barriers in place to prevent third-party apps from running on the iPhone.

Ringtones Now Available in iTunes Store 

I’ve been playing with this for about two hours; it’s buggy and frustrating.

Blackfriars’ Marketing: Why a Million iPhones in 74 Days Is Better Than You Think 

Carl Howe has a good point:

Everyone is focusing on estimates of about 700,000 iphones sold over 74 days. But in reality, iPhones were very hard to find for nearly 21 days of that selling period! I’ve included a (admittedly very rough) movie showing iPhone availability at Apple stores during the first month of sales. Suffice it to say that if you wanted an iPhone during the period between July 1 and July 21, you had to be either lucky or determined to get one, because most Apple stores were out of stock of them.

MakeiPhoneRingtone 1.0 

Freeware drag-and-drop tool from Rogue Amoeba to automate the bizarre “change the file extension, show it to iTunes, then change the file extension back” song and dance for creating your own iPhone ringtones.

Teaser for Another New Image Editor: Iris 

From Nolobe, the guys behind Interarchy. Waiting for Leopard, apparently.

Take Fetch Back to School Contest 

Big prizes from Fetch Softworks:

Fetch Softworks is celebrating the new school year with the Take Fetch Back to School essay contest. Students, teachers, and other school employees in the U.S. can win an Apple MacBook or iPod Nano by sharing how they use Fetch in their academic work.

MobileSafari-Optimized UI for MT 4 

Great work from Brad Choate and Walt Dickinson at Six Apart. I’m upgrading to MT 4 just for this.

Coda Toolbar and the Three Pixel Conundrum 

Great story by Cabel Sasser on the custom toolbar Panic came up with for Coda.

The takeaway is this: Mac developers shouldn’t merely copy Apple’s UI trends from head to toe. If you can devise something better than what Apple is doing, Apple might copy you, and you’ll be the one setting the trend.

Dan Frommer Says 1 Million iPhones in 74 Days Is Not a Good Number 

Dan Frommer:

Jobs has announced plans to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008 — a year and a half after launch. But a million iPhones in 74 days works out to a little less than 5 million iPhones per year — if you’re selling them at a consistent rate.

Pointing out that iPhones aren’t yet selling at a pace to reach 10 million by the end of 2008 is like pointing out that a car that just pulled out of a parking spot isn’t yet going 65 MPH. Sales curves bend.

It’s so obvious I can’t believe everyone doesn’t see it. Apple is going to push the price down as fast as they can. At $599, the iPhone was better but more expensive than its competitors. At $399 it’s better and cost-competitive. Next year Apple will have iPhone models that are better and cheaper than its competitors.

Apple sold 270,000 machines in the first two frenzied days it was on sale, which means it took 72 more days to sell another 700,000 phones.

It’s absolutely true that Apple’s “million iPhones in 74 days” number is severely distorted by the unprecedented opening weekend demand. But 700,000 phones over the remaining 72 days is great. Did any other smartphone sell better in that period?

Anyone who wants to bet me that Apple won’t sell 10 million by the end of 2008, let me know. And before you place your bet with me, recall that the iPhone still isn’t on sale anywhere other than the U.S.

Bloxorz 

Boy, this is a fun game.

Styling File Inputs with CSS and the DOM 

Nifty CSS and JavaScript library from Shaun Inman for styling file inputs in web forms.

Engadget: iPhoneSIMfree Unlocking Video 

I would have wagered that this was a scam, but it looks like I would have lost that bet. Still, though, $100 for a service that Apple seems likely to disable with the next iPhone software update, and which you’ll have to pay for again if they do?

Fix the Leopard Folders (FTLF or FTFLF) 

Brandon Walkin examines the crummy new folder icons in Leopard. Unfortunately, from what I’ve heard, you-know-who likes them.

Adam Engst on Eudora 8.0.0b1 

Adam Engst:

But realistically, Eudora 8.0.0b1 is by no means ready for normal users yet.

Introducing TypePad for iPhone and iPod Touch 

Very nice MobileSafari-optimized interface for TypePad. I bet we see something similar for Movable Type 4.

RegexKit 

Open source Cocoa framework wrapper for my favorite regex library, PCRE. If you’re a Cocoa developer adding regex support to your app, I beseech you to consider RegexKit. (Via Michael Tsai, who notes that RegexKit’s documentation is exceptional.)

Should Apple Burn Its Economics Textbooks? 

Perfect analysis on the iPhone price cut from Steven Levitt:

By starting high, you get as much money as you can from those who really want the product, then expand the market at the lower price point.

Hmm … that sounds exactly like what Apple just did with the iPhone. They brought it out at $599, sold one million iPhones, and then dropped the price to $399 after two months, in the hopes of selling nine million more this year.

So why did this strategy blow up in Apple’s face, leading them to offer a $100 coupon to the early adopters, many of whom remain irate despite the rebate?

What economists (and Apple too, I guess) ignore is that consumers hate it when companies follow practices that look like they are designed to maximize profits.

Creating iPhone Ringtones With Fission 

Paul Kafasis:

Using Fission, you can crop audio down to your desired snippet, fade the ends in and out, and save, all in just a few clicks.

Growl Global Positioning System 

Growl project leader Chris Forsythe on the new two-years-in-the-making “global positioning system” in Growl 1.1.

Ringles 

Sony BMG and Universal Music Group plan to begin selling $7 “ringles”: CDs that contain a popular single, a remix, and a ringtone. On CD. For $7 each. What a great combination: inconvenient and expensive. Hard to believe they’re actually this stupid.

Jobs Offers Apple Lisa Early Adopters Store Credit 

BBSpot:

Apple released the Lisa in January of 1983 for $9,995, and the similar Macintosh was released a year later for $2,495.

“I’ve felt bad about people who bought the Lisa for a long time. Anybody who bought one of the first Apple Lisas really got screwed,” said Jobs. “Now that we’ve got some cash, I think it’s about time we made it right.”

Scott Moritz: ‘Apple Faces Cold Christmas’ 

You have got to be kidding me. Moritz is selling AAPL short, right? I’m sure there are people holding out for future iPhones with faster 3G wireless networking, but no one — no one — ever expected them in the U.S. this year. Moritz just makes shit up, then references his own previous bullshit reports to back up his new ones.

No Way to Add New Calendar Events on iPod Touch? 

If true, this is really lame.

It’s even lame as a marketing differentiator (going on the assumption that Apple has done this to further establish the iPod Touch as being less than the iPhone). Leaving out entire apps makes it easy to compare the iPod Touch and iPhone just by looking at their home screens, but if some of the apps on the iPod Touch are crippled like this, it’s unnecessarily complicated to compare the two.

Flying Meat: Acorn 1.0 

Brand-new $40 image-editing app from Flying Meat’s Gus Mueller. Highlights include terrific layer support, tablet support for pressure strokes, GPU-powered for performance, vector shapes and text layers, full-screen mode, Photoshop-style single-character tool selection shortcuts, and a plugin API that not only supports compiled Objective-C extensions, but also single-file scripts written in Python.

What sets Acorn apart, though, is the simplicity of the UI. Acorn’s main ploy in this regard is that rather than spewing multiple palettes across your display, it shows just one, which changes contextually based on the tool you’re using. I’ve been beta-testing Acorn for months, and it’s sweet.

Apple Sells One Millionth iPhone 

Sure, last week’s price cut accelerated this, but given that it was only five days ago and Apple’s announcing this on the 10th, it seems pretty clearly they really were on pace to sell the millionth iPhone this month. So can we please stop arguing about whether the price cut was a response to poor sales? Note to certain other iPhone doubters who’ve emailed me: Take note that the PR claims they’ve sold the millionth iPhone, not just shipped it.

John Welch on Mike Elgan 

If The Macalope’s deconstruction of Mike Elgan’s “Apple Is the New Microsoft” wasn’t enough for you, be sure to read John C. Welch’s take, which includes comments from Elgan himself.

The Macalope on Mike Elgan’s Absurd ‘Apple Is the New Microsoft’ Thing 

So last week Mike Elgan wrote a piece for IDG titled “Apple Is the New Microsoft”. It was, as you might guess, craptacular. There is a core tenet of truth to his premise, in that success breeds enemies and resentment, and Apple has been very, very successful this decade. (As Dave Winer often quotes former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée: “As the monkey climbs the tree, more people can see his bottom.”)

But what Elgan misses, by a country mile, is that the core problem with Microsoft was that they broke the law. The problem wasn’t that they built a monopoly. The problem was that they abused their monopoly powers.

As for the specifics of Elgan’s crummy article, just read The Macalope, who, bless his heart, picks it apart perfectly.

SourceListView 

Open source implementation of Apple’s current style for source lists, by Mark Alldritt.

Can Michael Dell Refocus His Namesake? 

Steve Lohr of The New York Times examines the problems Michael Dell faces trying to turn Dell around:

[Chief marketing officer Mark] Jarvis, a former Oracle executive, says Dell’s brand is widely known and respected, but often not linked to a clear message. So he wants to give the brand a makeover, saying that in the consumer market, it needs to be “much cooler and go away from low prices; a lot of people see us as a cheap PC company, and that’s not where we want to be.”

It’s hard to differentiate your computers by anything other than price when you’re shipping the exact same software as every competitor other than Apple.

Anti-Piracy PSA Spoof 

Hilarious. (Thanks to Alex Sanders.)

David Watanabe Finds Hint of iTunes Movie Rentals 

Intriguing, to say the least.

Pre-Order iPod Touch From Amazon 

The 16 GB iPod Touch is already the top item in Amazon’s electronics best-seller list. Order yours (or any other new iPod) through this link and make me rich. Free shipping.

iLounge Reviews New iPods 

Detailed, comprehensive reviews of the new iPod Nano and iPod Classic. Too bad they’re broken up into 10 annoying pages each.

iTunes 7.4.1 Ringtones Re-Rename Workaround Discovered 

Clear instructions from Ryan Block on how to get free iPhone ringtones using iTunes 7.4.1.

Gus Mueller Interviews Tyler Durden 

I have reason to believe this is a pretty cool app.

iPod: TV Out Support 

Apple KnowledgeBase article on TV Out support for various iPods. Confusing as hell, in my opinion, given all the various combinations of cables and docks. And why isn’t the iPod Touch listed?

Growl 1.1 

New version of the open source system-wide notification system. Changes include close boxes on notifications, fixed memory leaks, and a “global positioning system” that I think is supposed to address the problem of notifications from different apps appearing on top of each other. Does not address the fact that most of the notification themes look like ass.

iTunes 7.4.1 Is Out, Changes Free Ringtone Workaround 

So that “change the file extension to ‘.m4r’ and get free ringtones” trick? Broken in iTunes 7.4.1, which seemingly has no other discernable changes. But — and this is just weird — Joe Maller reports that if you change the file extensions back to “.m4a”, the trick works again. Let’s just say I’m back to thinking there’s a solid market for iToner ahead.

DF RSS Feed Sponsorship 

Speaking of feed sponsors, I’m sold out through October 8. If you have a product or service to promote to the DF audience, let me know.

PeepCode Screencasts 

My thanks to PeepCode for sponsoring the RSS feed this week. They sell kick-ass screencasts for web developers, specializing in Ruby, Rails, and Ajax. Special offer this week: buy a 10-pack subscription and get two free screencasts, or get one free with a 5-pack.

Engadget Reports iPhoneSIMfree to Ship on Monday, This Time for Realsies 

If they’ve got screenshots, it must be real.

iPhone Hacking Kit, the Next Generation 

Ben Long updates his instructions for how to install and use third-party iPhone apps. (The iPhone screenshots are full resolution; that they look so big on your computer display shows how small the pixels are on the iPhone’s 160 ppi screen.)

iToner 1.0.1 

Updated for iTunes 7.4 compatibility. Given the aforelinked “use any AAC audio file as a ringtone just by changing the file extension” tip discovered today, though, I’m not sure there’s a market for iToner any more.

Mémoires 

Still-in-beta journaling app by The Coding Robots, with a simple, elegant user interface. (Via Daniel Jalkut.)

Free Custom Ringtones in iTunes 7.4 

Tip of the week, from “Cleverboy” on the MacRumors forums: just duplicate any (non-DRM-protected) AAC file, change the file extension to “.m4r”, and iTunes 7.4 will treat it as a ringtone.

TUAW, Gizmodo Falsely Report Gloating ‘Congrats, Late Adopters’ Google Ad Was Placed by Apple 

So far only Gizmodo has posted a correction. Hard to believe anyone thought Apple would place an ad taunting their own customers. Update: Correction appended to TUAW’s post.

The Times Giveth, The Times Taketh Away 

Katie Hafner and Brad Stone, reporting for The New York Times:

Mobile phones tend to be more prone to price declines because the pace of product introductions is faster than for televisions or DVD players. Motorola, for instance, introduced the ultrathin Razr phone for $499 with a two-year service contract in early 2005. Six months later, Motorola realized it had a hit on its hands and dropped the price to $199 in an effort to aim at more mainstream buyers. By the end of 2005, the price was $99.

Perfect example disproving that the iPhone price cut was “unprecedented”. But, then:

Rob Enderle, president of the Enderle Group, a market research firm in San Jose, Calif., was skeptical of the store credit.

“A $100 credit could be perceived as adding insult to injury,” said Mr. Enderle, noting that store credits are seldom well received. “It’s a way to make you go buy something else, and gives the company a chance to make more money.”

Thank you for explaining what “store credit” means. The Times, of all places, should realize that quoting Rob Enderle does not add credibility to a report. (See also: The Macalope.)

Steve Jobs Speaks the Truth 

Saul Hansell, writing for The New York Times’s Bits weblog:

We are so used to cryptic and seemingly disingenuous communication out of Apple that we miss it when Mr. Jobs says crassly what most businessmen try to hide: Apple lowered the price of the iPhone because it wants to make lots more money by selling boatloads of them this Christmas.

I think Jobs speaks the plain truth far more often than many think. Or at least he says what he believes is the truth.

Another thought on why the price drop doesn’t mean sales have been slow. The central rule of technology is that the unit price drops sharply with volume. If Apple sold more than it hoped, then it would achieve scale faster and would be able to drop prices sooner. Apple’s introduction of the iPod Touch, using many of the same components as the iPhone, gives it an even bigger checkbook to brandish in Taiwan to secure good supplies at good prices.

Best iPhone pricing analysis of the week. Brilliant.

(This is why The Times is so well respected — they hire smart writers. That they’re putting their writers to work on weblogs such as Bits bodes well for their future. Most old media companies are hell-bent on the quixotic goal of keeping the world the way it was; The Times seems to be trying to adjust their business for the changing world.)

Washington Post Op-Ed Columnist, Who Admits He Doesn’t Own One, Writes Entire Column Complaining About iPhone Price Cut 

Washington Post op-ed columnist Eugene Robinson:

If I were an iPhone owner, I’d be hopping mad. I’d be iRate.

“iRate”. That’s so funny.

This time, though, he has failed to live up to one clause in his implied contract with iPhone buyers. The sky-high price was supposed to guarantee a decent period of exclusivity. For a time, if you bought an iPhone, you were supposed to be the envy of your friends. The ability to show off all the neat things it could do was your compensation for the fact that the iPhone didn’t really change your life.

It’s hard to shake the sense that mainstream media outlets are reaching for any sort of negative angle related to Apple and the iPhone. The attitude Robinson is describing here has a name. It’s called being an asshole. His point seems to be that Apple is being a dick because they betrayed customers who enjoyed being assholes about owning a $600 iPhone.

Federal Court Strikes Down Part of Patriot Act 

Linda Rosencrance, reporting for Computerworld:

A federal court today ruled that the FBI can’t compel ISPs to turn over user records without notifying those users unless it has a court order or a grand jury subpoena.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down part of the amended Patriot Act’s National Security Letter (NSL) provision, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which had filed a lawsuit challenging the provision.

Good news. (Via John Welch.)

Cringely on the Price Cut 

Great one from Cringely:

Had nobody complained, Apple would have left it at that. But Jobs expected complaints and had an answer waiting — the $100 Apple store credit. This was no knee-jerk reaction, either. It was already there just waiting if needed. Apple keeps an undeserved $50 million and customers get $50 million back. Or do they? Some customers will never use their store credit. Those who do use it will nearly all buy something that costs more than $100. And, most importantly, those who bought their iPhones at an AT&T store will have to make what might be their first of many visits to an Apple Store. That is alone worth the $50 per customer this escapade will eventually cost Apple, taking into account unused credits and Apple Store wholesale costs.

I think Cringely’s wrong, though, that Jobs is still obsessed over his getting fired from Apple in 1985. I don’t think he’s forgotten it, but I think that in his mind it’s ancient history, and he’s been vindicated several times over since returning to Apple in 1997. For example, at last month’s iMacs/iLife/iWork special event, Jobs several times alluded to Apple having released the first version of iLife “a long time ago”. It was actually just four and a half years ago, but I think in Jobs’s mind, even 2003 is the distant past.

iToner Disabled With iTunes 7.4 Update 

Ambrosia’s Andrew Welch:

We’re on it. Here’s what is happening. iTunes 7.4 thinks it is the sole entity that puts custom ringtones on your iPhone. As such whenever you sync (even if you aren’t using any ringtones from iTunes), it just blindly writes over the database of user-installed ringtones.

USAToday Interview With Steve Jobs: ‘That’s What Happens in Technology’ 

Interesting pre-$100-store-credit interview with Jobs regarding yesterday’s announcements and the status of getting The Beatles catalog into the iTunes Store.

The Need for Web Standards Support in Email Clients 

Smart argument from David Greiner of Campaign Monitor, particularly his practical take on the plain-text-vs.-HTML argument:

Let me preface this by saying I completely respect everyone’s choice for the email format they prefer to send and receive. I also understand that it probably wasn’t the original purpose of email to go beyond one-to-one plain text messaging. I really do. This is one of the biggest reasons we encourage everyone to include a plain text alternative whenever they send a HTML email.

But we need to be realists. Every popular email client supports HTML email and most use that format out of the box.

(Via Shaun Inman.)

Engadget Interview With Phil Schiller 

Ryan Block: Speaking of taking these products around the world, especially these touch screen devices, what do you make of the iPhone software unlock, um, “market”?

Phil Schiller: [Laughter] I’m not really sure there is a market there at all or yet. So, I’d really rather not make a comment on it. But I don’t think there is a “there” there.

Maybe Schiller doesn’t read Engadget, because Block reported back on August 24 that AT&T has already lost “iPhone exclusivity” because of iPhoneSIMfree.com’s amazing software technology. Sure, it was promised for release within “24-72 hours” and that didn’t happen, and sure, just three days ago Engadget reported again that bulk orders would begin shipping on September 4, and that hasn’t happened.

But it certainly isn’t a joke that Phil Schiller should be laughing at. It was reported on Engadget.

Corrupt Countries Were More Likely to Support the OOXML Document Format 

Microsoft is sort of like a comic book villian (e.g. Lex Luthor) — even when they appear to be acting respectably, it ends up they’re up to something dastardly behind the scenes.

About the Security Content of iTunes 7.4 

iTunes 7.4 closes a security hole in the way it processes album art data embedded in song files.

Open Letter From Steve Jobs to All iPhone Customers 

The nut: a $100 Apple store credit for everyone who already bought an iPhone, and a straightforward apology to anyone who was upset by the price cut. It’s also a wonderfully plain-spoken statement regarding “life in the technology lane”:

Second, being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon.

I think it’s clear that Apple was taken by surprise by the magnitude of the backlash regarding the price cut. They’ve responded quickly, humbly, and well, to avoid letting this issue spoil the good news from their impressive product releases yesterday.

AT&T Calls New iPhone Pricing a ‘Special’ 

Hmm. AT&T:

iPhone is currently available at AT&T retail stores or at apple.com with special pricing available now through January, 31 2008; $299 (4GB model - while supplies last) and $399 (8GB model).

My reading of this is that for anyone who’s gun-shy about the price dropping again, they’re establishing that the new prices are good for at least the next five months.

Damn Good Question 

Rob Sama’s question for Steve Jobs:

When you released the iPhone, you declined to open up its API for fear that malevolent (or incompetently authored) programs had the potential to bring down AT&T’s network.

Given that the new iPod Touch is not connected to AT&T’s network, will you at least open up the API for that? Or are you afraid it might bring down Starbucks’ network…

iTunes 7.4 

I wonder why they bothered releasing iTunes 7.4 before the ringtones feature was ready at the iTunes Store. It seems to me you’d want this feature available as soon as people upgrade, so it’s there to play with (and pay for ringtones).

Update: Duh, they released it now because the new iPod Nanos and Classics require it, and they’re shipping already. Thanks to everyone who answered.

‘No Longer Joe Cool’ 

Steven Riggins on the $200 iPhone price cut:

One person on IRC said “I don’t have a ton of cash to burn, I could have used that $200.” Well apparently he did have the cash to burn and burn it he did. He gave it to Apple. Willingly. They didn’t twist his arm. They asked a price, and he paid it.

But now the self esteem kicks in. He’s no longer joe cool on the block. In fact, any schmuck with $200 less can buy one and laugh at him.

That is why people are upset. Being laughed at, poked fun at. It was all good as long as they had the phone that others could not afford. Now more people can and those early adopters are less special.

A Different Kind of Personal Computer 

Interesting to watch more long-time Windows nerds switch to the Mac. Long-term, I think it’s very dangerous for Microsoft how many power users are abandoning Windows. It’s most palpable at non-Mac-specific nerd conferences — MacBooks abound.

ThisService 2.0 

New version of Jesper’s excellent freeware utility for turning AppleScript and Unix scripts into system-wide services in your Services menu. Highly recommended; I can hardly live without my handful of custom services.

There’s an awful lot of polish and refinement in the UI for a freeware app.

New iPods and the iPhone All Run Video Out 

Mike Schramm:

Apple is selling Component and Composite video cables right now, and listing them as compatible with the new Nanos, iPod Classic, iPod Touch, and even the iPhone.

‘Zune Thoughts’ on Today’s iPod News 

Jason Dunn:

Today isn’t a good day to be a Zune fan, that’s for sure. Why? Because Apple unleashed a new wave of iPods today, and they’re every bit as impressive as I was fearing they’d be. This was no simple product refresh with memory bumps and price drops — no, this is a whole new generation of iPods.

Fake Steve: Be Afraid 

“Our enemies shall talk themselves to death and we will bury them with their own confusion.”

Hoefler & Frere-Jones 

Brand-new web site (and, finally, a weblog) from Hoefler & Frere-Jones, type designers extraordinaire. Coincides with the release of Chronicle, an expansive and impressive family of text faces.

Apple Price Protection 

From Apple’s Sales and Refund policy:

Should Apple reduce its price on any shipped product within 10 calendar days of shipment, you may contact Apple Sales Support at 1-800-676-2775 to request a refund or credit of the difference between the price you were charged and the current selling price. To receive the refund or credit you must contact Apple within 14 business days of shipment.

So if you just bought an iPhone in the last 10 days, you can get $200 back. I wonder about the 30-day refund period, though — the $200 cut is far more than the restocking fee.

Update: My mistake, the refund period is 14 days. Interestingly, one DF reader who bought an iPhone in early August reports that he called Apple and they offered him a $100 refund. Anyone else corroborate this?

Regarding July Smartphone Sales Numbers 

Worth pointing out that the source for these “iPhone is best-selling smartphone in July” is iSuppli, the market research company whose break-apart cost analyses I questioned last month. The source for their sales estimates is, according to Reuters, “a consumer survey of 2 million participants in the United States that it carries out online once a month.” So take them with a grain of salt.

Joe Hewitt Gets Fifth Row Seat for Keynote 

Hewitt helped create the Facebook iPhone-optimized site:

Apple was kind enough to invite myself and Dave Morin from Facebook to the event, telling us only that Steve would be browsing the Facebook iPhone site at some point in the presentation.

Nice move on Apple’s part, but it leads to a question: What do we call iPhone-optimized sites now?

Scott Moritz, Jackass of the Week 

TheStreet.com’s Scott Moritz:

Then, in an unexpected move, Apple killed the 4-gigabit [sic] iPhone and slashed the price of the 8-gigabit [sic] iPhone by $200, to $399. Apple rarely cuts prices on products, preferring to introduce replacements and discontinue previous models.

The move will add more evidence to the speculation that the iPhone, while causing quite a buzz, may not be selling as rapidly as some optimists had expected.

There is no need for speculation. We know exactly how well the iPhone has been selling, because Jobs said so on stage today: they’re on track to sell their millionth iPhone some time this month. That’s a good number. Earlier this week the news hit that the iPhone outsold every other smartphone on the market in July.

Apple didn’t cut the price because demand is low — they set the debut price ridiculously high because demand was ridiculously high. I suspect that for the first few weeks, they were selling iPhones as fast as they could make them. Apple’s being aggressive, not defensive. (And for those of you who’ve already bought one and are pissed about the price cut, if you didn’t think the iPhone was worth $599, you shouldn’t have bought it. That’s how supply and demand works.)

(Via big-time Moritz fan Gedeon Maheux.)

Jackassiest Headline of the Day 

Post-event headline on Apple 2.0 (Business 2.0’s Apple weblog): “iPod Refresh Does Not Include the Beatles”. Yeah, iPod Touch is a “refresh” and the still-unannounced Beatles deal is the biggest news of the day.

The Scourge of That Damn Frog Song 

Jeff Harrell on Apple’s ringtone strategy. Reasonable and interesting theory, but I disagree.

KT Tunstall 

Love the design of her web site.

Welcome Back, Kottke 

I’ve been waiting to use that headline ever since he went on paternity leave.

Regarding OS X-Based iPods 

Re-linking this one from July, on why I expect to see iPhone-esque OS X-based iPods announced today. In short, don’t get trapped over-thinking Apple’s fundamental strategy. It’s simple: Make the best products they can and sell them.

The Talk Show: Predictions for ‘The Beat Goes On’ Apple Event 

We have about two hours until showtime; you can spend 18 minutes of the wait listening to Dan Benjamin and me guessing what Apple’s going to announce. My predictions in short: OS X-based iPods and iPod Nanos, the Beatles’ catalog on the iTunes Store, and over-the-air purchasing of content from iTunes directly to Wi-Fi-enabled iPods and iPhones.

Also: an iPhone software update with new features. A software update is a way to put the iPhone back in the news without changing the hardware product.

The New York Times on NBC-Amazon Deal 

Brooks Barnes reporting:

“Amazon is a company that understands the value we provide as content owners to its business,” said Jean-Briac Perrette, president of NBC Universal Digital Distribution.

Translation: Amazon bent over and took it, and told NBC how pretty they are.

Barnes’s report makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that Unbox’s DRM restrictions are far tighter than iTunes’s. That’s a central aspect of the story, so no cookie for The Times.

ISO Rejects Microsoft’s Office ‘Open’ XML File Formats 

Common sense prevails. Let’s hope they stick to it.

Dear New York Yankees: Your All-Star Game Logo Sucks 

Design. Typography. The Yankees. How could I not link to this?

(Not to mention that I agree wholeheartedly with Selikoff’s critique.)

Michael Arrington’s CrunchFood 

Spot-on parody of the TechCrunch “style”.

*Appendix A on The Talk Show 

Thomas McQuillan gets it.

Jeremy Horwitz: ‘Tomorrow, Dreams Come True’ 

Jeremy Horwitz:

I seriously believe tomorrow is going to be different. I think it’s going to be the day when iPod die-hards, technology geeks, and mainstreamers alike are all going to be genuinely excited by what Apple is going to show.

I think he’s right.

Lightroom Metadata Entry Tips 

Great Lightroom tips from James Duncan Davidson (who gleaned them from Patrick Lenz.)

Clockwork Lemon 

I picked up my copy of the Kubrick-themed issue #3 of Lemon today. It’s in the Art & Design rack in Borders’s magazine section.

‘After Ditching Apple, NBC Opts for Flex Pricing and More DRM With Amazon’ 

Ken Fisher:

“Protecting content” is a tip of the hat to NBC’s concerns over DRM. Apple’s DRM policies are considered to be “too lax” by many players in the TV and movie business, because shows can be authorized for playback on as many as five devices. Furthermore, any given device can be authorized to play content purchased from five different accounts.

Compare Unbox: Shows bought from Unbox can be kept on two computers max, and can be stored on up to two different media players. Users cannot “mix” accounts, meaning that a PC cannot have authorized content purchased from two different accounts. As you can see, Unbox is far more restrictive.

This just shows how moronic these NBC clowns are. You don’t have to be a nerd or obsessive to see how these restrictions suck — they’re obvious. No mixing means you and your spouse can’t both buy material for each other’s use.

What’s surprising is that Amazon, a company that grew to prominence specifically because of their reputation for great customer service and experience, would go along with such odious restrictions. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if an honest customer has to even think about the rules, your DRM system is odiously restrictive.

A Lengthy Message About A Brief Message 

Khoi Vinh: “There’s also another, more formal idea at work on A Brief Message: the notion that online publications don’t necessarily need to be decorated databases. They can be art directed, too.”

Palm Cancels Foleo 

Everyone knew this thing was a turd except for Palm. Well, it looks like they’ve figured it out — but only after (a) announcing it; (b) blowing millions on developing it; and (c) its original ship date. The sooner you realize a mistake the better, but at this point it’s hard not to see the company as a joke. Credit, though, to Palm CEO Ed Colligan for making the announcement in his own voice on the company weblog, rather than hiding behind a mealy-mouthed press release.

An even better joke is the name of this site.

‘Regrets’ 

Hilarious new short film by Steve Delahoyde; premiered last week at An Event Apart Chicago.

PodWorks 2.9.2 

Buzz Andersen’s nifty song-transfer utility for iPods now has support for iPhones, too.

Et tu, Washington Post? 

The Macalope:

It strikes the Macalope as slightly wacky that even the Washington Post is in the Apple rumor business these days. And you know it’s got to be good when the piece quotes AppleInsider’s Kasper Jade and Rob Enderle, the Huggy Bear and Angel Martin of Apple news.

Deck 21 

The Deck — the boutique ad network that provides the ads you see on Daring Fireball — has expanded to 21 sites. Newly added: Darius Monsef’s COLOURlovers, Veerle Pieters’s weblog (a longtime favorite of mine), and A Brief Message, a new site from Liz Danzico and Khoi Vinh, publishing 200-words-or-fewer essays on design.

New ‘Blade Runner’ Cut Is ‘How It Should Have Been’ 

The difference between Ridley Scott and George Lucas is that each time Scott goes back and tinkers with his masterpiece, it gets better. (Thanks to Dan Benjamin.)

MarsEdit 2.0 

Major update to Red Sweater Software’s excellent desktop weblog editor. Performance, compatibility, the user interface — I don’t think there’s any aspect of MarsEdit 2 that hasn’t been improved from version 1. Plus there are new features like Flickr integration. I’ve been using the 2.0 betas to write Daring Fireball for months.

Designers and Developers for MDA 

Do something good for a great cause.

Update: Looks like the server has been fireballed. Here’s a direct link to the donation page at Changing the Present. Send a few bucks and let’s hit this $5K goal.

Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Cory Shields’, Executive Vice President of Communications for NBC Universal, Response to Apple’s Press Release Regarding NBC’s Pricing Demands on the iTunes Store 

“I am high as a kite.”

Quote of the Week 

Michael Gartenberg on NBC: “Sometimes I think God put video content guys on the planet to make the music guys look progressive and visionary.”

More Idiocy From NBC 

John Bergmayer, back on July 17, on NBC Universal’s push for the U.S. government to establish content-based filters on Internet traffic:

NBC’s comments (read them here) are filled with ludicrous claims. Art already blogged about its position that file-sharing hurts the American farmer. It also claimed that the open Internet is like a FedEx or UPS delivery service for contraband—wouldn’t the government do something, they ask, if 70% of FedEx’s payload was stolen goods or illegal drugs?

Music Subscriptions, DRM, and iPods 

Music producer and would-be savior of the record industry Rick Rubin, in yesterday’s New York Times Magazine:

“You would subscribe to music,” Rubin explained, as he settled on the velvet couch in his library. “You’d pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you’d like. In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home.”

The iPod as we know it might be obsolete in such a world, but why couldn’t the Walkman-like device that plays the subscription music be an iPod? I’ve been saying this for years: just because Apple hasn’t engaged in subscription-based plans for music yet doesn’t mean they couldn’t. And if they did it now, theirs would be more popular than all existing ones combined.

But here’s the problem with subscription-based music: you can’t have it without DRM. Because without DRM, what’s to stop someone from subscribing for one month, downloading every song they might ever want, then unsubscribing but keeping the music? And the thing with DRM is that people hate it, because it restricts what they can do and where they can play their music. To argue that subscriptions are the future of music is to argue that DRM is the future of music, and the evidence points to the contrary.

Using del.icio.us as a Writing Summarization Tool 

Jeremy Zawodny:

It occurs to me that with a sufficient number of people bookmarking an article and selecting a short passage from it, I have a useful way to figure out what statement(s) most resonated with those readers (and possibly a much larger audience). It’s almost like a human powered version of Microsoft Word’s document summarization feature.

I’ve noticed the same thing: When something I write gets linked to by enough people, a consensus usually forms regarding which is the best or core passage. And it’s often not what I would have chosen myself.

iPhoneSIMfree Supposedly Set to Begin Fulfilling Orders, But Only to ‘Resellers’ 

This iPhoneSIMfree thing is smelling scammier and scammier, if you ask me. Minimum order is $1,800 (50 licenses at $36 each). No guarantee that it won’t break with the next software update from Apple. Plus, no one other than confirmed dimwit Ryan Block has verified that this thing even works. Update: CNN vouches for it in this unbylined story, but it isn’t clear whether the unlocked iPhone was provided by CNN’s reporters.

A Toot and a Snore 

Fantastic find: bootleg recordings from a 1974 jam session with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Xtorrent 1.1 

Performance and UI tweaks to David Watanabe’s excellent $24 BitTorrent client.

Fake Steve on the TV Networks 

Fake Steve:

In the second half of the twentieth century you had the great good fortune to be granted a kind of limited monopoly over the distribution of a very valuable commodity. There were only so many airwaves, hence only so many networks. There were way more advertisers than there were channels to carry their advertising. So you sat there with your choke-hold on the garden hose, controlling the flow of programming and getting fatter and fatter and fatter.

First Beta Release of Eudora/Penelope 

I hope it’s awesome. I suspect it’s going to blow.

Taiwan’s Acer to Acquire Gateway 

Associated Press:

Acer said Monday it is offering to buy Gateway for $1.90 per share in a deal expected to close by December, pending regulatory approvals in Taiwan and the U.S.

The offer price amounts to a premium of 57 percent to Gateway’s Friday closing price of $1.21. Gateway traded at $81.50 in 1999.

Ouch.

Steven Poole: ‘Goodbye, Cruel Word’ 

Author Steven Poole on switching away from Word after more than a decade of using it as his primary writing tool.

Little Snitch 2.0 Beta 

David Chartier:

Little Snitch’s UI has received a complete overhaul, offering tools to search and filter rules and a new Network Monitor to watch network traffic in real time. The connection alerts—one of my pet peeves about Little Snitch—are also getting a boost with keyboard shortcuts that should make it easier to allow or deny traffic on a per-connection basis.

Worth noting: This post marks Chartier’s jump from Weblogs Inc.’s TUAW to Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop.

Serious MagSafe Bug 

Bill Bumgarner discovered a bug in his MacBook’s MagSafe port.

Paul Kafasis: ‘Apparently No One at Apple Uses the Dock on the Side’ 

When Steve Jobs was showing off the new look of the Leopard Dock during his WWDC keynote this year, he off-handedly added something to the effect of “… and it looks great on the side, too,” and he proceeded to show it positioned on the side — for about a second.

Founder of Peet’s Coffee Dies at 87 

Alfred Peet, founder of the world’s best coffee house chain, dead at 87.

The Tale of the Mechanical Virus 

Sean McBride:

Soon afterwards, I noticed that other people’s Macs were refusing to project as well. Person after person would plug their Mac into the projector, but to no avail. What was even stranger was that the affliction only seemed to affect Mac users. PC laptop users laughed at us as they projected with impunity.

(Thanks to Nick Matsakis.)

How Not to Die 

Paul Graham, offering advice to startups:

When startups die, the official cause of death is always either running out of money or a critical founder bailing. Often the two occur simultaneously. But I think the underlying cause is usually that they’ve become demoralized. You rarely hear of a startup that’s working around the clock doing deals and pumping out new features, and dies because they can’t pay their bills and their ISP unplugs their server.

Startups rarely die in mid keystroke. So keep typing!

Wikirage 

“This site lists the pages in Wikipedia which are receiving the most edits per unique editor over various periods of time.”

The Laptop Herring 

Rands on bringing laptops to meetings:

The problem is that everyone attending this laptop-laden clusterfuck is subconsciously hearing “Hey, in this meeting, it’s A-OK to waste people’s time.”

Red Is Not Funny 

J. Tyler Helms: “I suppose red is also the color of doomed comedy.”

The Original Macintosh User Manual 

Peter Merholz:

I recently purchased an original Macintosh User Manual (thanks eBay!). I had seen one at a garage sale, and was struck by how it had to explain a total paradigm shift in interacting with computers. I figured I could learn something about helping make innovation happen.

(Via Swissmiss.)

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