Linked List: July 2008

Security Update 2008-005 

Addresses the DNS issue in the news this month, as well as the AppleScript/ARDAgent issue from a few weeks ago.

The Cast of Mad Men, Out of Costume 

It’s amazing how much younger they look to me like this. (Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Scott McNulty Leaves TUAW 

Big loss for TUAW — McNulty was far and away their best writer.

Flip Video Codec Now Works With iMovie 

I missed this when it shipped last month, but if you update to the latest version of iMovie ’08 and the latest codec from Flip, videos you shoot on a Flip camcorder now work in iMovie ’08. They also work in iMovie ’06 (a.k.a. iMovie HD). Apple’s support document only mentions the new Flip Mino specifically, but it works for me with the Flip Ultra, too.

Sunday Times Subeditors Reply to Giles Coren 

Christ this is fun:

Sub-editing is a noble profession. It is also a thankless one — particularly when your writers call you a “useless cunt”.

Delicious 2.0 

Total revamp of the UI, including even the domain name. My quick impression is that it’s a big improvement, but I pretty much stopped using Delicious when I started posting links to DF. It’ll be interesting to see how regular users react to this big a change.

Turning Off Apple Data Detectors in Apple Mail 

Great tip from Michael Tsai.

Joe Wilcox on the ‘Mojave Experiment’ 

I think Wilcox is right, that the biggest problem with this campaign is that the whole point of it seems to be that Windows users are too stupid to realize how good Vista really is. Not exactly a Draper-caliber message.

Wade Meredith: ‘I’ll Give You $50 for a Worse Brand Name Than Knol’ 

Might be a tough bet to win.

Wil Shipley on Microsoft’s ‘Mojave Experiment’ 

I know, Mac guy shooting holes in a Microsoft marketing campaign for Vista: how shocking. But Wil Shipley has some good points about whether Microsoft’s “Mojave Experiment” actually proves anything at all about Vista:

My point is that the problems that Vista has become famous for are not the kinds of problems you encounter in a few minutes of playing with it in a controlled environment. Vista is known for people initially liking it, then after a while discovering it’s not working for them, and “downgrading” to XP. This study has told us exactly what we already knew: that, initially, people like Vista.

From a marketing perspective, though, this might prove to be a fairly successful campaign for Microsoft. The science of this “experiment” really does seem to be of the same caliber as that of the old Pepsi Challenge, but the Pepsi Challenge was a success in terms of selling more Pepsi.

Double-Tap and What? 

Regarding MagicPad, the upcoming iPhone notes app with text selection and copy/paste, a few readers have emailed to point out that Safari uses double-tap-and-release (tap, up, tap, up) for zooming, whereas MagicPad is using double-tap-and-hold (tap, up, tap, drag) for selection — and that so therefore there isn’t any conflict between those two gestures.

I just don’t see how typical iPhone users could be expected to make that distinction. On the Mac, double-clicking in text means “select this word”, whether you release the button after the second click or not. Single- vs. double-tapping is complicated enough for most people; double-tap-and-hold vs. double-tap-and-release would be baffling.

Garfield Minus Garfield, the Book 

Jim Davis seems to have a great sense of humor about the whole thing. (Thanks to Jesper.)

Unstressed 

Giles Coren, to his editors at The Times (London) for removing the word “a” from the closing sentence of his review:

And worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed ‘a’ so that the stress that should have fallen on “nosh” is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you’re winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear that it is wrong? It’s not fucking rocket science. It’s fucking pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.

Coren is, of course, correct. The sentence was mutilated.

Analogy of the Week 

Jonathan Hoefler on Dieter Rams’s office hi-fi, as seen in a production still from Gary Hustwit’s upcoming Objectified:

Look at it: it’s smart, stylish, functional, and badass; it’s the Steve McQueen of audio equipment.

Field Tested Books Photos 

A few pictures from my trip to New York for Monday’s Field Tested Books book reading, which was a blast, and you should have been there.

More on MagicPad’s Text Selection UI 

Ah-ha, I misunderstood when watching the video demonstration of MagicPad:

Oh yeah, MagicPad also has copy and paste support within the app. To select text, simply do a double tap hold, wait for the loupe, and drag. This is the easiest way to select text on the iPhone and you only need a single finger.

So single-tap dragging for placing the insertion point with the loupe isn’t completely overridden, as I assumed, and so this is better than what I thought. I still wonder about the shelf life on this design, though — if Apple adds text selection and copy/paste to the system-wide UI, I don’t think this is going to be how it works. (For one thing, double-tap means “zoom” in Safari.)

Yankees Trade for Pudge Rodríguez 

Starting to smell like another AL East title in the Bronx:

In a move that was conceived and completed in less than six hours, the Yankees acquired Rodríguez from the Detroit Tigers for reliever Kyle Farnsworth on Wednesday. Five years after leading the Florida Marlins to a title, and two years after lifting Detroit to a pennant, Rodríguez becomes the regular catcher for the Yankees.

I have no idea what Detroit was thinking.

MobileMe: Important Steps for MobileMe Sync Issue Resolved on July 28, 2008 

Apple:

Apple identified and resolved an issue with MobileMe Sync on iPhone and iPod touch. Although no action is required for most members, some may need to reset their data from MobileMe to sync normally again. To do so, follow the steps outlined in this article.

If your iPhone (or iPod Touch) seemingly deleted all your contacts or calendar events, but you still see them in your online MobileMe account, this should help you get them back.

Dell Getting Back Into MP3 Player Market? 

The Wall Street Journal (I’m linking to Google News, because the link from them gets you past the Journal pay wall):

In recent months, Dell has been testing a digital music player that could go on sale as early as September, said several Dell officials. Launching the player — along with an online download service and related software — would be part of a strategy that Dell Chief Executive Michael Dell hopes will move the company into a broader range of consumer markets than it has served before.

And:

Rob Enderle, an industry analyst whom Dell hired to consult on the new entertainment strategy, said he is still discussing with Dell whether profits would come mainly from the subscription service or from devices tied to it.

I don’t see how things can go wrong for Dell with Rob Enderle on board.

Update: Reader Julian Lawton, via email: “I’m thinking of the episode of The Simpsons where they let Homer design a car.”

Two Neat New iPhone Things 

Adam “Sandwich” Lisagor links up two new iPhone projects: MagicPad, an iPhone note apps that offers multiple fonts, text selection, and cut/copy/paste; and MultiTouch.framework, an upcoming Mac OS X framework that lets you use an iPhone as a multitouch input device for your Mac.

I think MagicPad has gone in the wrong direction. I don’t really care about the multiple typefaces and font sizes, but their UI for text selection is wrong. The gesture they’ve chosen is single-tap-and-drag — but that’s the standard system-wide gesture for just moving the magnifying glass around. So it’s both inconsistent with the rest of the system, and it prevents you from moving the insertion point with the magnifying glass in any way. (Also, they could just do text selection a whole word at a time, like when you double-click and drag on the Mac. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about character-precise accuracy with your way-bigger-than-a-single-character fingertip.)

iPhone OS 2.0 More Like a Public Beta? 

Chuq von Rospach, speculating on why the iPhone SDK NDA is still in effect:

Apple is using this as a quiet hammer to limit developers’ ability to talk about problems with the new iPhone, MobileMe, the App store, etc, etc, until Apple fixes the worst of the problems.

It’s pretty clear that 2.0 was a subset of “the real 2.0” and that stuff was left out and not really ready for prime time, and OS 2.1 seems to be adding most of the functionality that should have been in 2.0, and hopefully pushes all of this out of “you’re really beta testing our stuff, we just didn’t mention that” mode.

PerversionTracker: The Dark Knights Return 

I have glorious news to report: After a brief four-year hiatus, PerversionTracker is back, with their sights set on the lower depths of the App Store.

A List Apart: The Survey for People Who Make Websites, 2008 

A List Apart:

Remove the web, and billions in trade disappear. Websites enable people who can’t walk to run to the store. They bring knowledge and freedom of thought to places where such things are scarce; make every person with a connection a citizen of the world; and allow every citizen to be heard.

Yet nobody bothered to conduct a serious inquiry into the working conditions of people who make websites until A List Apart launched its first survey in 2007.

If you work in this racket, you should take it.

App Count 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

The number of offerings on the App Store — the venue for independently produced programs that helps distinguish Apple’s smartphone from all others — hit 1,001 on Monday night.

The total app count isn’t that interesting to me, because the majority of the apps are just plain crap. The real question is how many apps in the App Store are actually of decent quality. My guess is around 100. (Sturgeon’s Law at work?)

Dell Studio Hybrid PC 

Nice industrial design from Dell. (That’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write today.) The bamboo model looks particularly nice. (Via Jon Hicks.)

Lightroom 2.0 

Detailed release notes for the first major update to Adobe’s outstanding photo management app.

iPhone NDA: Doing More Harm Than Good 

Good piece by Chris Foresman on the frustration developers face working under the NDA that covers the iPhone SDK. I think this is the nut of it:

“I don’t know of any successful platform that developers can’t actually talk about online,” added Brent Simmons of NewsGator.

How Cool Is Cuil? 

Rory Cellan-Jones shows just how far Cuil has to go to truly rival Google.

Objectified: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit 

Gary Hustwit, director of the outstanding documentary Helvetica, has unveiled his follow-up: Objectified, a film about industrial design. The cast of interviewed designers includes Jonathan Ive from Apple and Dieter Rams from Braun, among dozens of others.

Cuil 

New web search engine founded by former Google employees. The results seem pretty good in my quick tire-kicking test, and I like the way results are presented. And you have to admire the stones of a company that is taking Google head-on in web search. More about Cuil from Google News.

Leaked Trailer for Oliver Stone’s ‘W.’ 

Cast looks great. Have a feeling this movie’s going to make some noise.

Update: Updated the link to point to the video on Trailer Addict — the version I linked to on YouTube yesterday was pulled.

The iPhone Remote App Has a Better Interface Than the Native iPod App 

The Remote app looks better, shows more information at once, and has very nice optimizations for scrolling long lists. Plus it has a search feature.

StupidFilter 

Open source natural language processor that attempts to identify idiotic comments on the web — like a spam filter for stupidity.

Update: Their server seems to be struggling to handle the traffic, at the moment.

NetNewsWire 1.0.7 for iPhone 

Brent Simmons on the first update to NetNewsWire to appear in the App Store. Amazing how much improved it is over 1.0. Update: Just to be clear, the version that the App Store calls “1.0.1” is actually version 1.0.7. Sorry for any confusion, but it’s the App Store’s fault.

Apple Fails to Patch Critical Exploited DNS Flaw 

Rich Mogull on Apple’s lack of response to the critical DNS flaw that nearly all other OS vendors have issued patches for.

Amazon Explains the July 20 S3 ‘Availability Event’ 

“Availability event” is euphemistic, but the actual explanation is cogent and up front regarding what happened.

Dan Lyons on Steve Jobs’s Call to Joe Nocera 

Dan Lyons thinks there’s something fishy about Jobs’s insistence that his conversation with Joe Nocera be off-the-record:

Nocera also knows why guys like Jobs play the off-the-record game, and he knows that it’s the surest way to get pwned by a source. So he had to be suspicious about Jobs calling him out of the blue and then demanding to speak off-the-record. It’s one thing when someone wants to go off the record to talk about someone else — their boss, their neighbor, their colleague. If someone inside the Bush administration wants to tell you something but doesn’t want to lose their job, that’s one thing.

But people who want to set the record straight about themselves don’t go off the record. They don’t need to. They don’t want to.

Lyons is implying that if Jobs is actually fine, then there’s nothing he shouldn’t be willing to talk about on the record regarding his health. But that’s only true if the full story isn’t the least bit embarrassing or private. In Jobs’s case, it seems clear that whatever it is that’s been bothering him this year, it is related to his digestive and intestinal system. Even if he’s recovering fully from this problem, set to live a full life for decades to come, is it any wonder he might not want to speak on the record about digestive problems like, say, extreme diarrhea? Fuck that.

Joe Nocera Gets a Call From Steve Jobs 

Joe Nocera, in a column about his investigation into the state of Steve Jobs’s health:

On Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record.

Now that’s how you start a phone call. Christ, I love Steve Jobs.

MobileMe Status Weblog 

Someone at Apple:

Steve Jobs has asked me to write a posting every other day or so to let everyone know what’s happening with MobileMe, and I’m working directly with the MobileMe group to ensure that we keep you really up to date.

iPhone Free Software Ringtone 

Assuage your guilt with Richard Stallman’s performance of “The Free Software Song” as a ringtone for your iPhone, thanks to Dave Walker.

DF Feed Sponsorship 

Speaking of RSS feed sponsors, now is the first time in a few months that there are near-term openings. If you have a product or service that you’d like to promote to Daring Fireball readers, get in touch.

The Start Conference 

New conference next month in San Francisco from Jeffrey Veen and Bryan Mason, targeting would-be entrepreneurs. Here’s a report from Veen regarding their plan to have an on-stage ombudsman to track the Twitter / IM / email backchannel from the audience.

Superbiate & Son, Inc. 

My thanks to Superbiate & Son for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Superbiate is the studio of George Del Barrio, NYC-based portrait photographer extraordinaire. I often quote this remark by Stanley Kubrick: “Sometimes the truth of a thing is not so much in the think of it, as in the feel of it.” I have worked with Del Barrio, and what I like about his method is that he goes for the truth in a “feel of it” way.

Check out the Superbiate web site for examples of his work. For bookings, portfolio requests, or more information, please contact Matthew Bogosian at The Vanderbilt Republic.

Dan Lyons, Fake Steve, and Newsweek 

Dan Lyons, who recently took over Steven Levy’s old spot as Newsweek’s technology columnist, on why he walked away from his Fake Steve Jobs weblog:

The truth is simply this. I began hearing a few months ago that Steve Jobs was very sick. I wasn’t sure if these rumors were true or not. Then I saw how he looked at WWDC and it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I just couldn’t carry on. I hope and pray that he’s not sick. But for now I just can’t carry on with the Fake Steve character.

I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that continuing the Fake Steve blog might have an adverse effect on the amount of access to new products Apple will grant to Lyons and Newsweek. Levy, while at Newsweek, was often seeded with new products a few weeks in advance of release, in the same rarified air as Walt Mossberg and David Pogue.

Even with Fake Steve on ice, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of access Apple gives to Lyons at Newsweek.

Tarantino’s Mind 

Super cool, pitch-perfect short film. (Via Andy Baio.)

Field Tested Books, Live in NYC Monday 

This Monday night in New York City, my friends at Coudal Partners are hosting a reading from contributors to their Field Tested Books series. Readers include Jeffrey Zeldman, Jason Santa Maria, Michael Bierut, and yours truly. They held a reading earlier this week in Chicago, and it looks like it was a swell time. See you there.

Fannie Mae Bailout: Taxing America’s Poorest Citizens to Help the Richest 

Count me in with Philip Greenspun:

In Roman times the employees of Fannie Mae would be decimated, i.e., they would draw lots and 90 percent of them would beat the unlucky 10 percent to death with clubs. What would be a modern equivalent? At the very least taxpayers should have the satisfaction of seeing the highest paid 100 Fannie Mae employees fired with two weeks of severance pay (it can’t be that hard to find replacements given that the current staff’s primary achievements have been accounting fraud and then insolvency).

The App Store and GPL Apps 

Aristotle Pagaltzis on why I was wrong about the GPL and the iPhone SDK:

Sorry, John. I can clearly write GPL software for the iPhone — but not free software. And if I do that, Apple can’t give it to you — not on the App Store’s current terms and conditions. They impose restrictions on the recipient of the software that the GPL forbids third parties from placing upon the recipient on pain of losing the right to distribute the software. Apple is in violation of the software’s licence for distributing these GPL applications through the App Store in the first place.

Interesting conclusion. I think the counter-argument is that the GPL (as well as any other software license) applies to third-parties, not to the developers of the apps themselves. And when developers grant Apple permission to distribute their apps through the App Store, they’re explicitly granting Apple permission to distribute them under Apple’s licensing terms, not the GPL.

Update: And the counter-counter-argument to that — as pointed out by numerous thoughtful readers — is that the above would only apply if the developer in question were the sole author of the entire app. If the app makes use of GPL’d frameworks or libraries written by others, the developer would not have the right to grant Apple permission to distribute the app under the App Store terms. And then there’s the whole GPL3 vs. GPL2 thing.

iPhone OS and SDK 2.1 Betas 

New 2.1 beta releases of both the iPhone OS and iPhone SDK — registered developers only, of course. The 2.1 tools can’t be used to produce apps for the current App Store, though — and a device updated to the 2.1 beta OS supposedly can’t go back to the production 2.0 OS release. What a pain.

Dan Frakes Reviews Nine iPhone To-Do Apps 

There are a slew of basic to-do/task/checklist apps in the App Store already, and Dan Frakes looked at all of them. If you’re interested in this sort of app, this is the best comparison written yet.

Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera 

Kodak’s upcoming Zi6 pocket video camera looks like a possible Flip killer. Similar size and shape, but a bit more expensive at $180. But the Zi6 shoots in HD at up to 60 frames per second, it accepts SD cards for storage, and, in a huge win for Mac users, records directly to H.264 format. (The Flip only shoots VGA at 30 fps, and uses a video codec that doesn’t work in iMovie.) The Zi6 also offers a macro focusing mode — Flip’s cameras can’t focus anything closer than about three feet.

I also love that Kodak is starting to get its mojo back in the post-film world.

(Via Andy Ihnatko, to whom Kodak is sending a review unit.)

Jon Hicks’s Design Iterations for the Silverback Mascot 

Worth a re-link from back in March.

Yahoo Music Shutting Down, DRM Keys Will Stop Working 

Greg Sandoval:

Yahoo is shutting off support for Yahoo Music after September 30, which means starting October 1, if users want to move music to new hard drives or computers, they will be out of luck.

Walt Mossberg on MobileMe 

Walt Mossberg:

Unfortunately, after a week of intense testing of the service, I can’t recommend it, at least not in its current state. It’s a great idea, but, as of now, MobileMe has too many flaws to keep its promises.

I am not referring to the launch glitches that plagued MobileMe earlier this month, such as servers that couldn’t keep up with the traffic and email outages that, for some users, persist as I write this. Those were bad, but they have eased considerably. Apple already has apologized for them and is giving customers an extra 30 days on their subscriptions to make up for the poor start. The problems I am citing are systemic.

My biggest complaint about the MobileMe web apps is that after logging in, everything goes over HTTP, not HTTPS. Google offers HTTPS for free, but MobileMe costs $100 a year.

CS193P 

Jeff Smykil on the what the hell is going on? status of the iPhone SDK non-disclosure agreement. So far as anyone can tell, the NDA is still in effect, even though the SDK is out of beta and the App Store is open. But Stanford is offering an iPhone Application Programming course to computer science students this fall.

Silverback 1.0 

New $50 usability testing application from Clearleft. Interesting. This seems incredibly useful, and I’m not aware of anything else like it.

BoxOffice 

Another GPL app for the iPhone? That’s unpossible.

Aurora Feint Game De-Listed From App Store 

The game was uploading unencrypted versions of your entire address book to their servers, ostensibly for “community features”.

New iPhone 3G TV Ads 

Speaking of The New Yorker, it’s the featured web site in one of Apple’s new iPhone 3G spots.

Google Launches Knol 

Google’s previously announced Wikipedia competitor is now open. (But, of course, it’s labeled “beta”. Gmail is four years old and has tens of millions of users and is still in “beta”. What a fucking crock.)

Anyway, here’s an interesting bit regarding Knol:

We are happy to announce an agreement with the New Yorker magazine which allows any author to add one cartoon per knol from the New Yorker’s extensive cartoon repository. Cartoons are an effective (and fun) way to make your point, even on the most serious topics.

The Balcony Is Closed 

Roger Ebert on the end of his long-running (33 years!) TV show. Here, on when he and Gene Siskel realized they’d hit it big:

The day we fully realized it in our guts, I think, was the first time we were invited to appear with Johnny Carson. We were scared out of our minds. We’d been briefed on likely questions by one of the show’s writers, but moments before airtime he popped his head into the dressing room and said, “Johnny may ask you for some of your favorite movies this year.”

Gene and I stared at each other in horror. “What was one of your favorite movies this year?” he asked me. “Gone With the Wind,” I said. The Doc Severinson orchestra had started playing the famous “Tonight Show” theme. Neither one of us could think of a single movie. Gene called our office in Chicago. “Tell me some movies we liked this year,” he said. This is a true story.

WordPress for iPhone Source Code Released 

There must be some mistake here, because the Free Software Foundation told me last week that you couldn’t write GPL software for the iPhone.

Chris Barnes’s iPhone 3G Availability Tracker 

Uses Apple’s JSON data feed, updated live throughout the day.

Markoff on Jobs 

John Markoff reporting for The New York Times:

But in recent weeks, Mr. Jobs has reassured several people that he is doing well and that four years after a successful operation to treat a rare form of pancreatic cancer, he is cancer free.

People who are close to Mr. Jobs say that he had a surgical procedure this year to address a problem that was contributing to a loss of weight. These people declined to be identified because Mr. Jobs had not authorized them to speak about his health.

And that’s the end of that, thankfully.

iPhone 2.0: The Glory Wore Off in Wash 

David Heinemeier Hansson runs down the list of problems with iPhone OS 2.0. I’ve seen just about all of these, too. The temporary freezes are particularly annoying. The Mac’s SPOD/beachball cursor is infamously annoying, but at least when it appears, you see it, and you know not to bother clicking or typing until (you hope) it goes away. On the iPhone, you get no visual indication that the system is too busy to accept input, so you just sit there tapping repeatedly until it comes back.

MDJ/MWJ Trial Subscriptions 

Murphy’s Law, hard at work: the MacJournals free trial subscription order form wasn’t working yesterday, when I linked to their coverage of Apple’s accounting methods. The trial subscription order form is working now, if you’re interested — and if you care about deep, intelligent coverage of Apple, you should be.

Indie Fever 

Academic paper by Michiel van Meeteren on the indie Mac development community.

Lucky to Be a Programmer 

Gustavo Duarte:

For the past few weeks I’ve been working with a fellow developer on a project that required an all-out programming effort. It’s done now, so we’re back to a regular schedule, but when people hear about the crazy hours they often say they’re sorry. They really shouldn’t be. I would never do this often, or for long periods, or without proper compensation if done for an employer, but the truth is that these programming blitzkriegs are some of my favorite periods in life. Under the right conditions, writing software is so intensely pleasurable it should be illegal.

(Via Gus Mueller.)

Sort of Like Goldilocks but With Keyboards Instead of Porridge 

I think Tim Bray has a good point here: the numeric keypad on a full-size keyboard takes up more space than it’s worth to most people, but Apple’s smaller wireless keyboard goes too far by getting rid of the regular arrow keys, home/end, and page up/down.

Font Conference 

The best joke is the Courier New one.

BusinessWeek on Steve Jobs 

Arik Hesseldahl:

After the earnings call last night I talked with a source who is close to Apple and who has in the past proven very well informed on the concerns of Apple senior management. This source told me with near-certainty that Jobs’ cancer has not returned.

Excellent news.

MacJournals on Apple’s Accounting Methods 

Speaking of detailed MDJ coverage of Apple financials.

Steve Jobs ‘Health’ Issue Just Gets Curiouser and Curiouser 

A measured piece by Jim Goldman regarding the rumormongering regarding Steve Jobs’s health, specifically an Associated Press report on yesterday’s conference call that read, “Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, did not join the conference call with investors as he commonly does, prompting an analyst to inquire about his health. Jobs survived pancreatic cancer.”

Goldman writes:

You see, Jobs is never on the company’s earnings call. Never. Ever. And anyone covering this company knows it. And anyone investing in the company should know it. And that’s why that sentence in the AP story is so troubling, and so factually off base.

That’s not quite true, though. Jobs has participated in a handful of these analyst calls over the last decade — but only when there is extremely bad news to report. (MDJ publisher Matt Deatherage, who covers these calls in more detail than any other reporter in the industry, put the number at three — three calls in 11 years — in a post to the MacJournals-Talk mailing list yesterday.)

(Via MacDailyNews.)

A Ringtone Tragedy 

When will the menace of music piracy end?

Also: Free ringtones!

Regarding Margin-Reducing ‘Product Transitions’ 

There’s an awful lot of pants-wetting this morning regarding Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer’s repeated references during yesterday’s quarterly analyst call to a “significant product transition that can’t be discussed today”. This product transition is one of the reasons Apple specified for their 31.5 percent gross margin guidance for their next quarter (compared to the 34.8 percent gross margin they reported yesterday for the just-completed June quarter).

Oppenheimer also said:

“We are working to develop new products that contains technologies that our competition will not be able to match. I cannot discuss these new products, but we are very confident in our product pipeline.”

This sort of statement isn’t exactly unprecedented. A year ago, Oppenheimer said pretty much the exact same thing:

Finally, Oppenheimer said, there will be a “product transition I can’t get into.”

A “product transition” that reduces profit margins in the interests of building market share could mean nothing more than price cuts, like, say, for the iPod Touch.

Nokia N810 Portable Internet Tablet 

Nokia’s N810 “Internet Tablet” sounds a lot like the web tablet TechCrunch has set out to make: it runs an OS based on Linux and has a Gecko-based browser and Skype. It has an 800 × 480 pixel 4.1-inch screen, and sells at Amazon for $380. I’m sure TechCrunch won’t have any problem making a device with a much larger screen that sells for $100 less.

Apple Shares Fall in After Hours Trading 

Rex Crum, reporting for MarketWatch:

However, Apple’s shares fell 9% in after-hours trading as the company gave one of its typically conservative fourth-quarter earnings forecasts that fell short of Wall Street analysts’ expectations. A similar event took place following the company’s prior quarterly report in April, when a conservative forecast sent the stock tumbling despite strong results for the period.

Now’s a good time to re-read the piece I linked to over the weekend from Andy Zaky on Wall Street’s misguided obsession with Apple’s conservative guidance numbers.

TechCrunch Is Building a Web Tablet 

They don’t know what the components will cost and they’re going to use volunteer labor to write the software, but they’re hoping it costs $200 or so and to have a prototype ready soon. Good luck with that.

Macworld Live Coverage of Apple’s Q3 2008 Conference Call 

Here’s the answer to a question about Steve Jobs’s health:

“Steve loves Apple, he serves as CEO at pleasure of Apple’s board and has no plans to leave. Steve’s health is a private matter.”

Good answer.

Apple Reports Record Third Quarter Results 

Apple:

The Company posted revenue of $7.46 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.07 billion, or $1.19 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $5.41 billion and net quarterly profit of $818 million, or $.92 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 34.8 percent, down from 36.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 42 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

Apple shipped 2,496,000 Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing 41 percent unit growth and 43 percent revenue growth over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 11,011,000 iPods during the quarter, representing 12 percent unit growth and seven percent revenue growth over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone units sold were 717,000 compared to 270,000 in the year-ago-quarter.

41 percent year-over-year growth in Mac sales. Astounding. Where does this growth end?

iPod sales are up, too, which is interesting, given the iPhone. (These iPhone numbers are irrelevant, in that this year’s numbers cover the quarter leading up to the iPhone 3G, for much of which time iPhones weren’t even available for sale. And last year’s numbers for Q3 only covered the first two days the iPhone was available for sale.)

The History of AppleScript (PDF) 

Fascinating 37-page paper on the history of AppleScript, written in 2006 by one of AppleScript’s original creators, William R. Cook. If you’ve ever wondered why AppleScript is the way it is, this is the best explanation I’ve ever seen.

News to me is that Apple originally developed an alternative “Professional” dialect, wherein this bit of English AppleScript:

the first character of every word whose style is bold

could be written like this in the Professional dialect:

{ words | style == bold }.character[1] 

What a shame they abandoned that.

Peter Merholz Interviews Michael B. Johnson of Pixar 

Michael B. Johnson, on Pixar’s practice of creating a complete prototype of every film before starting work on the actual movie:

We’d much rather fail with a bunch of sketches that we did (relatively) quickly and cheaply, than once we’ve modeled, rigged, shaded, animated, and lit the film. “Fail fast,” that’s the mantra. With a team of 10-20 people (director, story artists, editorial staff, production designer and artists, and skeleton production management) you can make, remake, and remake again a movie that once it hits 3D will take an order of magnitude more people to execute. The complexity of the task does not ramp up linearly.

Johnson leads one of Pixar’s internal software tools team — his annual lunchtime talks at WWDC fill to standing-room only.

End of the Line for ‘Ebert and Roeper’ TV Show 

The show hasn’t been the same since Gene Siskel died — he and Ebert were simply perfect together. But the basic format was brilliant for a TV show for film criticism. (Via Andy Ihnatko.)

Sony’s Amazing Crapware-Free PC 

Ed Bott:

Sony is finally taking on its crapware problem. For the past two months, I’ve been using an astonishingly light and agile Sony VAIO notebook and loving every minute of it. The best part of all was that this machine was absolutely, completely, unequivocally crapware-free, which meant I was able to be productive within a few minutes of unboxing.

Good for Sony, but Bott’s enthusiasm is like being amazed after buying a sandwich that wasn’t spit in.

Icahn Drops Proxy Fight, Yahoo Puts Him on Board 

Yahoo to Carl Icahn: “You’re an idiot, your ideas for what we should do are wrong, welcome to our board.

iPhone Native Apps — The Great Leap Backwards? 

John Allsop arguing that most of the native iPhone apps he’s looked at would be better off as web apps. He has a good point but overstates his case.

He mentions Cocktails as an example that could have been an iPhone web app a year ago with “a little bit of CSS”, and links to PocketBar, an iPhone web app that serves the same purpose. But Cocktails is far slicker and far faster than PocketBar. That may not be worth $10 to most people, but it’s worth $10 to me.

(Via Ajaxian.)

Tim Bray on Mobile Software Development 

Tim Bray, gloomy on the prospects of mobile software development:

But there’s a little problem and a big problem. The little problem is that I don’t wanna learn Objective-C and I don’t wanna learn a whole new UI framework. I acknowledge that lots of smart people think Objective-C and Cocoa are both wonderful, and quite likely they’re right. I don’t care. I’m lazy; I know enough languages and enough frameworks. You’re free to disapprove, but there are a whole lot of people like me out there.

The big problem is this: I don’t wanna be a sharecropper on Massa Steve’s plantation. I don’t want to write code for a platform where there’s someone else who gets to decide whether I get to play and what I’m allowed to sell, and who can flip my you’re-out-of-business-switch any time it furthers their business goals.

These are both reasonable objections to writing native iPhone software. But there is never going to be a phone with a native API framework that isn’t new. Sure, most do and perhaps will continue to use Java as the language, but I’d say that learning Cocoa Touch (the framework) is a far bigger obstacle than learning Objective-C (the language), especially for someone like Bray, who knows C.

But the big thing Bray seems to be overlooking is mobile web app development. If your primary concerns are like his — (a) not wanting to learn new languages and frameworks, (b) not wanting your software distribution under anyone else’s control, and (c) not wanting to be tied to one proprietary device — web app development solves all three.

Good News, Eh? 

Sprint Connection:

The iPhone shortage may be good news for Sprint, which launched the iPhone-challenging Samsung Instinct in June.

Yes, the more iPhone customers AT&T signs up, the better it gets for Sprint.

The Fallacy of Choice 

The Linux Hater’s Blog:

So not only does the addition of so many choices alienate would be users, it also makes it difficult for developers to create tested, working configurations. It’s a double whammy. Obsession with providing choice at every level actively works against efforts that would otherwise push Linux to provide what the mainstream wants.

iPhone 3G Sold Out Nationwide 

I just went through Apple’s iPhone availability checker for all 50 states in the U.S.: one store in Hawaii has one model (8 GB), one store in California (out of 38 in the state) has one model (16 GB black), and the Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York has one model (16 GB white). That’s it.

So much for my “just wait a week and then cruise in and pick one up in five minutes” plan.

Update: I mistakenly skipped New Hampshire, where they still have one model (16 GB white) at the Rockingham Mall. We regret the error.

OpenMoko Usability Train Wreck 

Dave Fayram’s hilarious video demonstrating the OpenMoko user interface and on-screen keyboard. Don’t miss his follow-up video showing an alternative interface also in development. This is the phone the FSF wants would-be iPhone buyers to wait for — and which is currently selling for $400.

Shake It Like a Metaphorical Picture 

Jason Santa Maria on Polaroid’s decision to stop producing instant film.

Apple’s Complaint Against Psystar 

Philip Michaels summarizes the complaint Apple filed against would-be Mac cloner Psystar.

Starbucks Closure List 

The Huffington Post has the full list of Starbucks stores that are closing. None in Philly.

From the DF Archives: A Wee Bit More on AAC, Ogg, and MP3 

One of the Free Software Foundation’s complaints regarding the iPhone (and Apple in general) is the lack of support for “free” media file formats such as Ogg Vorbis. Here’s what I wrote last year:

With regard to Ogg Vorbis, or the idea of “free” codecs in general, the consensus seems to be that this is an ugly patent lawsuit waiting to happen. Yes, the creators of Ogg Vorbis have released the format (and source code for encoding and playback) openly, but the holders of the patents behind MP3 (and other patented codecs) very likely consider part of Ogg Vorbis to violate their patents. If Apple, or any other company with a serious amount of money behind it, were to use Ogg Vorbis in a mainstream widely-used product, it could lead to an expensive lawsuit.

Do software patents suck? Yes. Is it possible that Ogg Vorbis does not actually infringe on anyone’s patent, but that some patent holder could sue and win even though they shouldn’t? Yes. The point is, Ogg Vorbis is intended to be free, and it would be great if it were free, but no one with deep pockets has yet tested the water to see whether it really is. Worse, there are some experts who do believe that Ogg violates at least one significant patent.

Perhaps the same goes for why Apple chose to create the Apple Lossless format rather than use FLAC. For Apple to support Ogg Vorbis would be to take a potentially large risk (a lawsuit, by, say, Fraunhofer, an MP3 patent holder) for an utterly minuscule financial upside (whatever handful of people exist who won’t buy an iPod or iPhone now but would if Apple supported Ogg Vorbis).

In short, Apple supporting Ogg Vorbis makes wonderful political sense, but no business sense whatsoever.

iPhone Development NDA Holding Up Books and Screencasts 

Dave Thomas on how the NDA surrounding the iPhone SDK is preventing Pragmatic Programmers from publishing books and screencasts on iPhone Development:

So, to write a book about the iPhone SDK, you have to download it. In order to download it, you have to accept the agreement. And the agreement says that the download will contain confidential information that you can’t pass on to third parties. That makes it hard to publish the book. And, if that wasn’t enough, it also appears that you can’t even use the word “iPhone” (for example, in a book title).

The secrecy was frustrating but understandable while the SDK was in beta. Now it’s just frustrating.

Charlie Sorrel Interviews Brent Simmons Regarding iPhone Development 

Brent Simmons:

The secrecy makes it difficult. For Mac programming, there are all kinds of resources — mailing lists, bits of code posted on the web, wikis, other developers — to help out. It makes a difference. For iPhone programming, no. We’re not supposed to discuss actually programming on the iPhone with anybody — even though that would raise the quality of the apps.

What’s With the Irrational Preoccupation of Apple’s Guidance? 

One of the smartest investor-oriented pieces about Apple I’ve seen, from Andy M. Zaky.

Tap Tap Tap 

My thanks to Tap Tap Tap for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Tap Tap Tap makes “tasty bits for your iPhone”, and their first two apps are very well done: Where To, a $3 app for finding nearby restaurants, stores, services, and more; and Tipulator, a $1 tip calculator.

A year ago I was dismissive of the idea of a dedicated “tip calculator”, but I got a bunch of emails about that from DF readers who clearly didn’t enjoy math class as much as I did. There are a bunch of tip calculators in the App Store already, and eventually I’m sure there will be dozens — but what Tipulator has going for it is that it looks and feels like the tip calculator that Apple would make if Apple were to make one. A few simple features with a very detailed UI.

Counterpoint 

Darby Lines sees it otherwise.

Point 

Gina Trapani on the Free Software Foundation’s iPhone screed.

iPhone 3Gs in Short Supply 

Only one out of four Apple Stores has any in stock, and the black 16 GB model is even harder to find.

Twinkle 1.0 

Twinkle, previously a jailbreak API Twitter client, has been revised and expanded by Tapulous and is now available for free at the App Store. It’s an interesting contrast with Twitterrific — even ignoring cosmetic differences, the two apps take significantly different UI approaches.

The Free Software Foundation’s Five Reasons Not to Buy an iPhone 

They’re accusing Apple of concocting the whole thing as some sort of profit-making scheme.

Sean Tevis: Running for Office xkcd-Style 

Information architect Sean Tevis is running for the state legislature in Kansas. An innovative way to bootstrap a campaign.

Demographics Is Destiny 

Fraser Speirs, predicting (rightly, I think) that the iPhone OS will be Apple’s main platform four years from now:

Put this another way: my iPhone app, Exposure, has picked up on average 3,200 new users per day since the App Store opened. Exposure already has twice as many users as FlickrExport for Aperture.

Stanley Kubrick’s Notebooks 

I put together a small photoset of stills from Jon Ronson’s new documentary Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes — “A biography of a remarkably talented man as seen though the rich collection of material he left behind.”

It ends up Kubrick was a bit of a notebook and stationery aficionado.

PHP Syntax Checking in BBEdit 

Back in December 2003, I posted this AppleScript to add a simple PHP syntax checker to BBEdit. I just fixed a few minor bugs, so if you’ve already got a copy, you might want to replace your version with the current script.

Richard Solo Backup Battery for iPhone and iPod 

$50 external battery for iPhones and iPods. (Via Steven Sande.)

For a Phone 

Lance Arthur on his experience in line for an iPhone 3G. (Via Kottke.)

Apple Fixes App Store Alphabetical Listings 

I still say they should sort by a criterion other than alphabetical by default.

Cocktails 1.0 

Nicely designed $10 iPhone App from Skorpiostech: a searchable cocktail recipe database. Check out Bill Bumgarner’s review. I love the way that the older the recipe is, the older the “paper” looks.

What Getting Buzzed Says About Yahoo 

Om Malik:

A story by Judi Sohn, who edits WebWorkerDaily, one of our growing portfolio of blogs, was featured on the home page of Yahoo last night. The story got voted up via Yahoo’s Buzz, a service akin to Digg, except much more powerful.

In a few hours, the story about what to expect when switching from a BlackBerry to an iPhone was viewed over 200,000 times and attracted over 350 comments.

That’s about ten times the traffic that I’ve seen from Digg.

At the risk of repeating myself, Yahoo’s core business now is “audience”. The company, instead of trying to out-Google Google, needs to beat itself by figuring out new ways to keep the audience growing.

This goes along with Dave Pell’s advice from a few weeks ago.

Mike Arrington Interviews Evan Williams 

Video, with a transcript below.

Apple Apologizes for MobileMe Launch, Extends Subscriptions 

Pretty good way to handle this. A free month of service for four or five days of downtime. Here’s Apple’s FAQ on the extension.

Grawlix 

“A string of typographical symbols used (especially in comic strips) to represent an obscenity or swear word.”

M.G Siegler:

Google accounted for a ridiculous 69.17 percent of all U.S. search in June, according to new data from Hitwise. What’s even more ridiculous is that the search engine is still adding market share. One year ago it accounted for 63.92 percent. Just last month it was at 68.29 percent.

Revealing Hidden Assumptions in Estimation 

Classic post from 2005 by Jamis Buck at 37signals, on users’ estimations for how long and how difficult new features might be:

Imaginary work is always easier to do than real work. It is much more attractive (being more quickly done) and once you see the imaginary work, it can be very difficult to identify the real work it masks. People estimating imaginary work often assume they have all the facts in hand when making their estimates, which assumption leads them to believe that there is no “big technical hurdle” preventing its implementation.

These users are inevitable, and they never cease to annoy. But no product team will ever be successful without the confidence to know when to ignore them. What these users want is everything, and if you try to do everything, you will fail.

Ars Technica’s Extensive iPhone 3G Review 

Some nice photos showing the details of the new hardware.

Jeremy Horwitz’s Extensive iPhone 3G Review 

He reports that the audio improvements are for real.

Felix Sockwell’s Icons for the NY Times iPhone App 

Splendid icons, and a great look at the iterative design process they went through. (Via Armin Vit.)

Byline — Google Reader Client for iPhone 

Phantom Fish’s very impressive $10 feed reader for the iPhone. Syncs over the network with your Google Reader account, not just for subscriptions and read/unread status, but also for saving web pages for offline reading. Very strong rival to NetNewsWire. Be sure to check out the video tour.

Review: MLB at Bat for iPhone 

Jeff Smykil reviews MLB at Bat, one of my very favorite iPhone apps so far. The UI is effective, intuitive, and attractive. (Too bad Smykil boogered up the screenshot with unnecessary labels and boxes; check out the screenshots in the App Store to see what it really looks like.)

iPhone 3G Sold Out in 21 States 

Still long lines, too.

Twitter Buys Summize 

What was Summize is now search.twitter.com.

The Loopt SMS Mess 

Merlin Mann:

Friends, my patience with organizations that feel you should have to email them in order to not have your private information abused has passed the breaking point. If Loopt chooses not to see this nonsense as an invasive and potentially costly breach of many people’s privacy, then I pity the actual Loopt users who agreed to let these people publicly announce where they are all the time. Suddenly this goes from “potentially kinda creepy” to “Holy mackerel, what the fuck were you thinking?”

Update: Loopt has disabled this feature for the next update to the app.

The Clang Static Analyzer 

Quentin Carnicelli on Clang’s static analyzer, a source code analyzer for C and Objective-C about which I’ve heard nothing but raves.

iCal, Google Calendar, BusySync, and MobileMe 

John Chaffee of BusyMac on how MobileMe affects calendar sharing and synching for BusySync users.

The Letters of Stanley Kubrick 

A genuine treasure trove. Includes the letter Kubrick wrote to Arthur C. Clarke suggesting a collaboration to create “the proverbial really good science-fiction movie”, Laurence Olivier backing out of the role of Humbert Humbert in Lolita, and Kubrick’s camera advice to fellow gadget-nut Peter Sellers.

PC World: 3G iPhone’s Mediocre Battery Life Still Beats Rivals 

Longest talk-time of any 3G phone they tested, but 3G is so battery-intensive that it’s still not a great score. (Via MacDailyNews.)

Bugging 

Craig Hockenberry on the difficulties iPhone app developers face attempting to debug problems encountered by App Store customers.

Short Review of Evernote for iPhone 

I can’t understand why anyone would deem an app in this state ready to ship.

Leaked Photos of Touchscreen BlackBerry Thunder 

April 27, in an interview with The New York Times for a story on RIM’s competition with the iPhone:

There’s a reason that R.I.M. is averse to the iPhone’s glass pad. “I couldn’t type on it and I still can’t type on it, and a lot of my friends can’t type on it,” says Mike Lazaridis, R.I.M.’s co-chief executive and technological visionary. “It’s hard to type on a piece of glass.”

Perhaps he’s starting to get the hang of it. (Also: dig that Comic Sans.)

Also, two paragraphs down in the same Times story:

Indeed, two independent developers writing software for coming R.I.M. devices say that a touch-screen BlackBerry is in the works, and that R.I.M. engineers privately refer to it as the A.K. — for “Apple Killer.”

Steven Frank on FTP 

Steven Frank:

If your host doesn’t support SFTP, you should find a different host. It’s not hard to support, and it’s ridiculous to force people into using insecure protocols in the year 2008. Ask them, for example, why they don’t support telnet. FTP is no better.

Bit.ly, a New URL Shortening Service 

Marshall Kirkpatrick on Bit.ly, a new URL shortening service with some innovative new features. For example, because I’m linking to Kirkpatrick’s article through a Bit.ly shortcut, you can track how many times the link has been followed on this page.

Adobe Acrobat 9 and Flash Video 

Apparently now you can embed Flash within PDF. Joy, that’s just what I wanted.

How We Built an iPhone App for $4873.92 

Geoff Litwack:

So last year I read Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start, inspiring, then I started reading his blog, and then he published “By the Numbers: How I built a Web 2.0, User-Generated Content, Citizen Journalism, Long-Tail, Social Media Site for $12,107.09” and I was like whoa, that is useful information.

But it turns out that if you do your own development work, you can launch an iPhone app for even less. Here’s what we spent.

Namco’s Ms. Pac-Man iPhone Game Controls 

Good analysis from Touch Arcade on the dilemma facing developers writing traditional video games (like in this case, Pac-Man) for the iPhone: how do you take input on a button-less system for a game conceived around a very twitchy joystick? Namco offers three choices for the iPhone Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man ports: (a) an ersatz D-pad, (b) the accelerometer, and (c) “swipe”, where you just swipe your finger anywhere on screen in the direction you want to move.

I’m a Pac-Man junkie, so I bought Ms. Pac-Man, and I agree with Touch Arcade that swiping works the best, by far. But, alas, it still stinks overall — you can’t make turns quickly or precisely enough.

Apple Sells One Million iPhone 3Gs in First Weekend 

“iPhone 3G had a stunning opening weekend,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It took 74 days to sell the first one million original iPhones, so the new iPhone 3G is clearly off to a great start around the world.”

Over 10 Million App Store Downloads in First Weekend 

That’s a big number.

Jirbo Jerkos 

The App Store is filling up with scammy-looking apps with names that start with spaces or punctuation marks so as to sort to the top of the lists. Apple needs to put an end to this; it already looks junky, and it’s just going to get worse as jackasses prepend their app names with more trick characters.

Update: On Twitter, Tim Wood points out that the problem is endemic to alphabetical sorting — if Apple merely disallows spaces and punctuation, the scammers will just switch to “AAAA Solitaire” to get to the top. Dave Dribin points out that Amazon avoids this by not even offering alphabetical sorting as an option. Apple should let you choose between popularity, release date (newest on top), and user ratings.

In the meantime, it also occurs to me that a few zero-star ratings from DF readers might help discourage the practice.

Tom Insam on the iPhone’s Three Different Sliders 

It’s not so much that one of them looks different that’s odd, but that they act differently.

A Small Change 

In horizontal mode, the iPhone 2.0 keyboard is about 30 pixels shorter, which leaves more room for content above. That’s the good news. The bad news: you still can’t use horizontal mode in typing-heavy apps like Mail and Notes.

iPhone 3G Display’s Color Temperature Is Warmer by Design 

Interesting, but I’m not sure it’s software. The speaker died on my original iPhone and I got it replaced under warranty in late May. The color temperature of my “new” original iPhone is far warmer than my original one from a year ago, and when I compare it side-by-side with my wife’s year-old iPhone, it looks similar to Macworld’s example picture here. This makes me think it’s hardware, not software.

Where Should iPhone App Settings Go? 

Lukas Mathis on the question of whether third-party iPhone apps should use the system-wide Setting app for their preferences.

Shawn Blanc’s iPhone 2.0 Observations 

Good list of new and updated features in the 2.0 OS.

MobileMe Is up, Sort Of 

It’s up, mostly, but slow as molasses for me. The UI looks great, and there are some very thoughtful touches, but the overall experience is miserable because of the performance. Update: 15 minutes later, and now it feels very zippy. Seems like they’re working out the kinks.

Jason Snell’s iPhone 3G Review Notes 

Best coverage of the new phone I’ve seen anywhere. Looks like 3G performance is a solid win: web pages loading about 2-3 times faster. Also, Snell has a video here, with great side-by-side comparisons to the original.

iPhone Customer Calls Jackass TV Reporter a ‘Jackass’ 

“This is not smart. This is journalism to you?”

Bravo.

Activating Your iPhone 3G 

Macworld’s Jonathan Seff on the Apple Store activation experience.

Indie Mac Software Summer Sale 

My thanks to the developers behind the Indie Mac Software Summer Sale for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. The promoted apps include:

DF readers can save 20 percent with the coupon code “DF2008”.

iPhone Launch-o-Mess-o-Rama  

Patience, it appears, is advised.

iPhone Demand in Japan 

So much for the notion that the iPhone wouldn’t appeal to the Japanese.

The iPhone Naysayers, One Year Later 

Jake Widman at The Industry Standard tracks down a bunch of iPhone doubters and critics from a year ago to see what they have to say now. Rob Enderle chalks up the iPhone’s success entirely to Apple’s marketing acumen. Steve Ballmer, unsurprisingly, did not offer a comment.

First Look: Exposure for the iPhone 

Scott McNulty looks at Exposure, Fraser Speirs’s very cool Flickr client for the iPhone:

The neatest feature, and the creepiest, is the ‘Near Me’ button. Press it, and through the magic of Core Location, Exposure will show you all the photos on Flickr that were taken near your current location.

How to Hide Selected Feeds From NetNewsWire for iPhone 

Better than nothing, which is what I thought I had.

Pinch Media: iPhone Application Price Distribution 

Most are $5 or less, but $10 is a popular price point, too.

NetNewsWire for iPhone 

I’ve been using Brent Simmons’s NetNewsWire for the Mac for just about as long as I’ve been publishing Daring Fireball. The iPhone version is one of the apps I’ve been most anticipating, ever since the iPhone shipped a year ago. It doesn’t disappoint, but it’s far from perfect. On the plus side, I’ve found it to be far superior to any web-based feed reading option for the iPhone. And, because it’s backed by your (free) NewsGator account, it syncs your subscriptions and read/unread status with the Mac version of NetNewsWire (as well as other NewsGator clients like FeedDemon for Windows).

But synching has its downsides. The main one for me is that I have a lot of feed subscriptions in NetNewsWire — and most of them are things I have no interest in reading from my iPhone. What I’d prefer is to have the option of synching just a subset of my feed subscriptions through NewsGator — just the ones I’m interested in the most.

My other complaint is the built-in web browser. In theory it’s a lot like Twitterrific’s — when you tap a link while reading a feed item, NetNewsWire displays the web page in a built-in browser, so that you don’t have to quit NetNewsWire to switch to Safari every time you follow a link from a feed. But unlike Twitterrific’s, NetNewsWire’s browser replaces the current item view, rather than appearing on top of it. When you go “back”, you go back to the list of feed items, not to the item you were reading. This makes it a pain to follow multiple links from the same feed item: tap link, read web page, back to the list, tap the same item again, tap the next link.

Those complaints aside, in the week or so that I’ve been using it, NetNewsWire for the iPhone has proven to be very satisfying for “standing in line at the grocery store, wish I had something good to read for a minute or two” situations. And don’t miss the Clippings feature — tap the “+” button to add any item to your NewsGator “clippings”, which sync across clients just like your subscriptions do. A perfect feature for flagging items you want to come back to on your Mac.

Twitterrific for iPhone 

The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific is another of the iPhone apps I’ve been beta testing for a bit. It’s not just a great iPhone app, it’s a great app, period. I prefer its layout and presentation to that of the Mac version. Like its Mac sibling, you can choose between paying for Twitterrific for iPhone ($10) or using it for free, with occasional ads from The Deck.

Use it for a bit and you can see exactly why it won an Apple Design Award for the user experience. First, it looks beautiful. But it is very, very usable. My favorite feature is the built-in web browser. When you tap a link in a tweet, the built-in browser slides down from the top. In the browser itself, there are three standard browser buttons — back, forward, refresh — plus another button to leave Twitterrific and open the current page in Safari. Tap “Close” and the built-in browser slides away, putting you right back where you were in the tweet view. If it weren’t for the built-in browser, you’d have to quit Twitterrific each time you tapped a URL.

Google Mobile App 

Google engineers Alastair Tse’s and Nicholas “Quicksilver” Jitkoff’s free iPhone app is sort of a universal search app, with options to search the entire web, Wikipedia, news, shopping, and your own contacts database on the phone. The UI is very well-done, but I’m not convinced I’ll ever use it instead of MobileSafari’s built-in search.

The Angry Drunk: ‘Dan Costa Has Sand in His Vajayjay’ 

If you like your jackass mockery straight up, this one’s for you.

Actually, It Might Be Like VersionTracker 

Touché.

iPhone OS 2.0 Screenshots 

Great tip from Gina Trapani:

With the iPhone 2.0 software installed, hold down the Home button and press the Lock button and your screen will flash — and an image of your phone’s screen gets saved to your Camera Roll’s images.

PCalc for iPhone 

James Thomson’s $10 PCalc is one of the iPhone apps I’ve been lucky enough to be beta testing for a few weeks, and, while I’ve seen a few iPhone apps that are really good, PCalc is the best so far. The iPhone’s built-in Calculator app is much improved over the 1.0 version, but it’s got nothing on PCalc, which offers: unit conversions, paper tape, hex/oct/bin modes, and more. UI cleverness includes a very intuitive visualization of parenthesis stacking when you use the “(” and “)” keys — the only other calculator app that’s this nice is PCalc for the Mac.

And speaking of keys, PCalc’s work just like the iPhone’s keyboard — you not only get sound when you tap them (the built-in Calculator 2.0 finally has sound now too), but also get the large-type pop-up showing exactly which key you hit. The keys feel perfect.

The App Store in Your Pants 

Jacqui Cheng walks through the process of buying/downloading an app from the iPhone’s App Store app.

Paging Returns to the Twitter API 

Lost amid the iPhone 2.0 and App Store hoopla: Twitter has apparently restored paging to its API, which means third-party Twitter clients should now be able to load more than just the 20 most recent tweets in your timeline.

Gizmodo on Similar Apps in the App Store 

Amongst the aforementioned slew of task list apps, there’s one called “To Do” and another called “ToDo”. (“To-Do” is still available.) Also: “Shopping List” and “ShoppingList”.

Update: Gedeon Maheux observes that six different apps in the “Productivity” category use a checkmark for their app icons.

Browse the App Store in iTunes 7.7 (iTunes Link) 

Seems like some people are having trouble getting the App Store to appear in iTunes 7.7. This link should do the trick.

Apple Remote: Remote Control Done Right 

Bill Bumgarner on the new Remote app:

This changes the game in my living room. Completely. My media center’s remote is now more powerful than any computer I bought in the 1990s.

Enterprise Rails Tapping 

Jesper spotted something unusual amidst today’s avalanche of Apple releases:

Perhaps the weirdest creature to come out of the iPhone 2.0/3G launch paraphernalia is the iPhone Configuration Web Utility. It is a Rails app using SproutCore, downloaded and installed on your local machine. It literally starts a server on port 3000, as a service using WEBrick on Windows and as a launchd job using Mongrel on Mac.

Apple Launches MobileMe and Apple TV 2.1 Updates 

The new iPhone Remote app works like a charm with my Apple TV. Very slick.

E-Books as ‘Apps’ 

Raven Zachary:

Almost 8% of the apps on the App Store right now are individual public domain ebooks by AppEngines! Apple, please create an eBook category.

The other overloaded category, as Koz quips, is task/to-do/”GTD” apps.

iTunes Remote 

“The free application that turns iPod touch and iPhone into a remote control for iTunes and Apple TV.”

iTunes 7.7 

Now available for download, and from Software Update.

Amazing New Cell Phone in AT&T Stores This Friday 

Looks like it has a great web browser, too. (Via Jack Shedd.)

Survival of the Sudsiest 

George Will on the importance of beer.

ChangeWave Survey on Near-Future Smartphone Purchasing 

Paul Carton, reporting on a survey of 3,567 consumers:

An astonishing 56 percent of respondents who plan to purchase a smart phone in the next 90 days say they’re getting an Apple iPhone — a huge 21-pt leap from the previous survey.

The second chart — showing future smartphone buyer results for Apple, BlackBerry, and Palm — is rather striking.

Forbes: App Store to Launch Thursday 

Mary Jane Irwin, reporting for Forbes:

Apple may launch its iPhone App Store Thursday, according to three people who have been briefed on the matter. The online store will open at noon, Eastern Time, Thursday, to coincide with when the iPhone goes on sale in New Zealand, according to one source.

Jibes with TechCrunch’s report a few hours ago.

NY Times Story on iPhone App Store 

John Markoff and Laura M. Holson, on the debuting-in-a-few-hours App Store:

Twenty-five percent of the first 500 applications at the store will be free, Mr. Jobs said. Of the commercial applications, 90 percent will be sold for $9.99 or less, he said, adding that a third of the first wave of applications will be games.

The sidebar features a preview of all three apps from Tapulous — not a bad publicity coup at all for Mike Lee, I’d say.

Update: Gibberish alert:

Mr. Jobs failed to make his personal computers dominant, in part because software developers did not write as many programs for Mac-based machines as they did for Microsoft Windows PCs. He did not make the same mistake when he developed the iPod music players. Apple’s iTunes stores, with easy and inexpensive downloads of music, gave the device an insurmountable lead, to date, over other players.

So Markoff (and/or Holson) are arguing that the Mac failed to dominate because it had less software written for it, and Jobs “did not make the same mistake” with the iPod — a platform whose entire third-party software library consists of a handful of casual games — because it had a music store? Methinks Markoff is holding on too tightly to his own fallacious 20-year-old pet theory about why the Mac was overrun by DOS and Windows in the ’80s and ’90s.

AnandTech’s MacBook Air SSD Benchmarks 

Anand Lal Shimpi’s real-world testing indicates that the SSD option improves battery life noticeably with the MacBook Air:

As expected, the impact on battery life isn’t huge but it’s definitely noticeable. With the 64 GB SSD installed we’re actually able to hit Apple’s 5 hour battery life claim with the MacBook Air. Our wireless browsing test actually saw the biggest improvement in battery life, increasing a full 43 minutes from a simple drive swap.

Web Surfing Test Shows SSDs Better for Battery Life 

Avram Piltch at Laptop Magazine disputes Tom’s Hardware’s findings regarding SSD drives and battery life:

Our conclusion is that, in real-world use, SSDs offer a small improvement in battery life. While this tiny improvement may not be enough to sell users on SSDs as power-saving devices, it is certainly enough to say that upgrading to SSD will not cost you any battery life and may provide you with more productive minutes as you wait shorter periods of time for programs to load or for your system to boot.

Tom’s Hardware: Flash SSDs Don’t Improve Your Notebook Battery Runtime 

I missed this article from Tom’s Hardware last week:

We’ve looked at almost a dozen different flash SSDs from seven vendors over the last few months, and measured acceptable or sometimes even disappointing power requirements with most flash SSDs. In an effort to determine the actual impact on notebook systems, we took four SSDs that we had available in our test lab, and ran a series of Mobilemark benchmark runs on a Dell Latitude D630 notebook. We found runtime differences of up to one hour (!) when using a flash SSD compared to a high-performance 7,200 RPM 2.5-inch notebook hard drive.

Has anyone run battery life benchmarks comparing SSD- and hard drive-equipped MacBook Airs?

Learning From ‘Bad’ UI 

Ryan Singer has a thoughtful piece regarding TripLog/1040, specifically regarding developer Steve Patt’s defense of its design in the comments on my Flickr entry.

My takeaway is this: I’m genuinely intrigued to see how things pan out for iPhone apps written by developers who don’t get the iPhone’s UI. Mostly these apps are going to come from developers coming from platforms other than the Mac, but I’ll bet some Mac developers will struggle, too — the iPhone UI isn’t anything at all like the Mac’s.

Patt’s defense of TripLog/1040’s design is that users will want all of these things on a single panel. Even if that’s true, though, to me the fundamental mistake in this design is shrinking everything to fit on screen at once. Just use more vertical space and let the user scroll the screen with their thumb to see the bottom. See, for example, the iPhone’s Settings app — it almost fits on a single screen, but instead of shrinking things to make them fit, it just scrolls off the bottom. But even if you’re sure that you do want to fit all of these controls on the iPhone screen at once, with no scrolling, this design is bad, because it takes up so much space for the number picker alone. That there is some logic behind TripLog/1040’s current design doesn’t make it good.

And a postscript regarding the tone of some of the comments in the Flickr thread: Constructive criticism of the design itself is, of course, OK. Gentle ribbing is OK. Personal insults are just wrong, though. Criticize the design, not the designer; the work, not the person.

Update: From the comments on Singer’s post, here’s an iPhone-style redesign by Raphael Campardou. And another here.

Thsrs — The Shorter Thesaurus 

David Friedman’s new thesaurus, only suggests words that are shorter.

Rogers to Offer Reasonable Data Plan 

Rogers:

Effective July 11, and as a limited time promotional offer for customers who activate by August 31 on a three year contract, a data-only offering of 6GB of data for $30 per month is being made available that can be added to any in-market voice plan. For example, with 6GB of data, iPhone 3G users can visit 35,952 web pages, or send and receive 157,286 emails, or watch 6,292 minutes of YouTube videos each and every month.

That’s extremely reasonable. Compare to the plans Rogers originally announced, where for $30 (CAD) you got just 300 MB of bandwidth.

For the sake of comparison, according to AT&T I used 242 MB of data transfer over EDGE in my most recent billing cycle — but I almost never load video or audio files over EDGE. I suspect anyone who makes frequent use of YouTube over the mobile network could go over 300 MB in a monthly easily. 6 GB, on the other hand, seems like enough to cover any reasonable usage.

The Big Three on the iPhone 3G 

Everyone else is still under NDA, but David Pogue’s, Walt Mossberg’s, and Ed Baig’s reviews of the iPhone 3G and iPhone OS X 2.0 are out. Such are the benefits of writing for the three highest-circulation newspapers in the country.

The consensus is clear: the iPhone 3G is a nice hardware update, but most of what’s new is in the software, which will be available to all original iPhone owners. If you have an original iPhone and are considering upgrading, you should wait until you install the OS update.

Microsoft Admits Windows Vista Mistakes, Criticizes Apple Ads 

J. Nicholas Hoover, reporting for InformationWeek:

In the coming weeks and months, Microsoft will launch a huge advertising campaign that’s been reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“We’ve got a pretty noisy competitor out there,” Brooks said of Apple whose “I’m a Mac… and I’m a PC,” commercials criticize Windows Vista. “You know it. I know it. It’s caused some impact. We’re going to start countering it. They tell us it’s the iWay or the highway. We think that’s a sad message. Software out there is made to be compatible with your whole life.”

I’m not sure whether to make fun of the “It’s caused some impact” or the “They tell us it’s the iWay or the highway”. Update: Several readers point to the last sentence: “Software out there is made to be compatible with your whole life”. What does that even mean? That’s just gibberish.

Bembo’s Zoo 

Clever, beautiful children’s book by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich: animals from A-Z, illustrated using only letterforms and punctuation from Bembo. Buy it at Amazon. (Thanks to DF reader YellowBirdMan.)

Cornerstone vs. Versions 

Jade Ohlhauser’s comparison and review of the two new Subversion clients for Mac OS X, Cornerstone and Versions.

Handwritten Typographers 

Cameron Adams asks:

Do typographers exert some extraordinary control of the pen that laypersons don’t? Does a typographer’s handwriting influence the typefaces they produce?

And answers with handwriting examples from leading type designers. (Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Apple Expects 15-Minute In-Store Setup Process for New iPhone 3G 

Bloomberg:

“Our expectation is that in 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll be set up and ready to go,” Ron Johnson, Apple’s retail chief, said today in an interview. Apple’s more than 185 retail stores in the U.S. each aim to handle about 100 customers an hour, he said.

(Via MacDailyNews.)

What to Bring When Buying an iPhone 3G 

Instructions from Apple for those of you buying an iPhone 3G this Friday.

This Supposed Apple-Rogers ‘Spat’ Smells Like Bullshit to Me 

AppleInsider:

Apple, disgusted with Rogers Wireless for dumping egregious service plans on would-be iPhone 3G buyers, has decided that its Canadian retail stores will have no part in helping the carrier market the new handset to customers, AppleInsider has learned.

The Rogers iPhone plans do seem terrible, but the idea that this has caused friction between Apple and Rogers implies that Apple had no idea what Rogers’s iPhone plans would look like when they signed the contract. Highly unlikely. Apple executives may well agree that the Rogers plans stink, but I don’t buy that they were surprised by them.

And as Scott McNulty reports:

Looks like this is just a tempest in a teapot. After looking at the iPhone pages for countries where Apple has retails stores (UK, Japan, Italy, and Australia) it looks like you won’t be able to buy an iPhone in any non-US Apple Stores. Everyone can stop freaking out now.

If You’re Open to Growth, You Tend to Grow 

An interesting story in the Times regarding the importance of looking for a “growth mindset” in potential employees:

After reading her book, Scott Forstall, senior vice president of Apple in charge of iPhone software, contacted Ms. Dweck to talk about his experience putting together the iPhone development team. Mr. Forstall told her that he identified a number of superstars within various departments at Apple and asked them in for a chat.

At the beginning of each interview, he warned the recruit that he couldn’t reveal details of the project he was working on. But he promised the opportunity, Ms. Dweck says, “to make mistakes and struggle, but eventually we may do something that we’ll remember the rest of our lives.”

Only people who immediately jumped at the challenge ended up on the team. “It was his intuition that he wanted people who valued stretching themselves over being king of their particular hill,” she says.

(Thanks to DF reader Michael Amend.)

Southwest Airlines’ Seven Secrets for Success 

Joe Brancatelli:

By some estimates, the country’s major carriers have consumed perhaps $100 billion in capital during the past decade, but Southwest Airlines continues to be profitable. It’s been in the black for 33 consecutive years and, last week, for the 127th consecutive quarter, it paid a modest dividend. Its balance sheet, with about $3 billion in cash on hand and $600 million in available credit, is the envy of an otherwise fuel-price-ravaged industry.

Southwest isn’t just my favorite airline (they have great service out of Philly, and I fly them whenever possible), but is one of my favorite companies in the world, period.

Second-Generation Drobo Adds FireWire 800 

The biggest gripe about the original Drobo was that it only supported USB 2.0. The new model, released today, adds FireWire 800, a fast processor (which should make even USB I/O faster), and purportedly runs quieter. The price remains the same: $499. (Via Dan Benjamin.)

Making It Up on Volume 

From The New York Times, in February 2007:

If his Olevia line of televisions was ever going to get any attention from consumers, Vincent F. Sollitto Jr. would have to do something big, splashy and, in economic terms, just plain crazy. On the day after Thanksgiving, Mr. Sollitto, the chairman and chief executive of Syntax-Brillian, had 32-inch Olevia liquid-crystal display TV sets selling at Circuit City for $475, almost half its regular price.

Syntax almost certainly lost money on the TVs. The flat screen that makes up about half the cost of an L.C.D. TV is about $350 on its own. But Mr. Sollitto could not have been more pleased. The Olevias outsold Sony and other brands while they lasted. That forced the premium brands to lower prices throughout the holiday season and take notice of the upstart from Tempe, Ariz.

Today:

U.S. television set and digital camera maker Syntax-Brillian Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday after a year of weak sales, litigation, executive changes, accounting problems and liquidity concerns.

Perhaps instead of “just plain crazy”, selling your product at a steep loss is “just plain stupid”.

Marko Karppinen: ‘Apple Just Gave Out My Apple ID Password Because Someone Asked’ 

Marko Karppinen:

I tried to log in to Apple Developer Connection this morning to find out that my password had been changed and the email associated with my account was now a yahoo.com address that wasn’t mine. Luckily, my “security question” was still the same, so I was able to reset the password and email address back.

Based on the emails that have appeared in my .Mac mailbox, this was accomplished by sending this classy one-liner to Apple:

am forget my password of mac,did you give me password on new email marko.[redacted]@yahoo.com

This is crazy.

iPhone U.K. Web Sites Swamped Before Friday Launch 

Reuters:

Apple’s new iPhone sold out online in Britain ahead of its Friday launch, defying general consumer gloom as the country’s economy threatened to tip over into its first recession in more than a decade.

Carrier O2 said on Tuesday its website had been unable to cope with demand, which peaked at 13,000 per second. It later said it had sold out. Carphone Warehouse said the level of interest was 10 times that for the original iPhone last year.

House Industries: Studio Lettering 

New family of hand-lettering style typefaces by House Industries’ Ken Barber. Check out the amazing OpenType substitutions and contextual alternates.

The Greatest Bug of All 

Great debugging story from Wil Shipley.

The iPhone’s Gaming Mettle 

Good overview of the iPhone’s hardware capabilities from Touch Arcade.

(Re-)Designing a Preferences Window 

An interesting look at the iterative design process Christopher Bowns went through designing the preferences window for his aforelinked CPU History utility. It’s a good case study because the “before” design isn’t all that bad.

CPU History 1.1 

Christopher Bowns:

CPU History is an application that graphs your current CPU usage history in the Dock icon, and optionally in a floating window. You can customize colors, update frequency, and bar thickness.

I’m not sure I see the need for this instead of just using Activity Monitor, but it’s free.

Hazel 2.2 

New features for Noodlesoft’s $22 automated file organizer include pattern matching and better scripting support. I especially like that scripts (AppleScript or shell) can be embedded within a rule, obviating the need to create/save/locate/attach external script files.

The Tyranny of ‘Free’ 

Dan Moren on Anita Hamilton’s aforementioned Time “why doesn’t Apple just make everything on the iPhone App Store free?” Time piece:

When it comes right down to it, what’s wrong with exchanging money for a product? It’s a system that’s worked pretty well for, oh, a few thousand years.

Butterflies Are Free, So Why Aren’t iPhone Apps? 

The Macalope’s hilarious response to this asinine piece by Anita Hamilton in Time questioning why everything in the upcoming iPhone App Store can’t be “free” thanks to the magic of advertising.

I’ll just add one thing: There will be free-but-with-ads apps from the App Store, but the ads will be sold by the developers of the apps.

Unexpectedly Quit 

Mike Essl:

Every time an Adobe application misbehaves I upload the error message.

(Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Teaser Trailer for ‘Rolando’ iPhone Game 

Looks sort of like a cross between a platformer and Crayon Physics. (Via Andy Baio, who describes it as a clone of Loco Roco, a PSP game.)

The Nikon D3, D700, and Canon 

Insightful analysis from James Duncan Davidson on Nikon’s resurgence, particularly with the introduction of the amazing D700.

‘Gonzo’ 

Official web site for Gonzo, including a list of theater dates. (Here’s the trailer on Apple’s site.)

The Great Magnet 

A placard in the lobby at the Ritz at the Bourse theater here in Philadelphia, where my wife and I saw Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Alex Gibney’s new documentary. The movie is terrific — if you can catch it while it’s in theaters, I highly recommend it.

Big Contrarian 

Jack Shedd’s Big Contrarian has quickly turned into one of my very favorite weblogs. Good writing, interesting links, and an original, thoughtful design. Highly recommended.

ContextFree.js and Algorithm Ink: Making Art With Javascript 

Aza Raskin:

Computers programs lost something important when displaying a splash of color stopped being one line of code. As a kid, I remember being able to type “plot x,y” on the Apple II to throw up a phosphorescent splotch. When the simplicity of the one-line plotter went away, so did the delight at being so effortlessly generative — in a visual way — on the computer. ContextFree.js is a stab at making it easy again. It’s like a grown up version of Logo (or at least the Turtle Graphics part of Logo).

If you remember Logo, you know how cool this is. If you don’t, trust me, check this out. And as Ryan Singer points out, the UI that Raskin created for the Algorithm Ink “IDE” is quite clever, too. Plus, the whole thing is implemented using just JavaScript and the Canvas element.

Flip Mino Rolling Demo 

Andy Ihnatko on the even-smaller-than-the-Ultra Flip Mino camcorder.

Flipping for the Flip Video 

Macworld’s Christopher Breen on the Flip Ultra camcorder.

Fox News Airs Altered Photos of NY Times Reporters 

Given how bad the Photoshop work is, it seems silly and juvenile. But it makes me queasy thinking about how effective, in the Orwellian sense, this sort of thing could be in the hands of a more talented Photoshop jockey.

No Unlimited iPhone 3G Data Plans in Australia, Either 

Feels weird to type this, but judged against many of these other carriers around the world, AT&T isn’t so bad. Update: No unlimited data plans in Switzerland, either.

Cabel Sasser’s (Annual?) Fireworks Packaging Design Roundup 

My favorite name is the “Neighbor Hater”.

Michael Bay’s Rejected ‘The Dark Knight’ Script 

Excerpt:

We pan to a beautiful woman: platinum blonde with a huge rack. She is the hottest woman in the world, but she wears glasses because she is also the smartest woman in the world.

On Google’s Web, the User Is #1, Google Is #0 

Remiel on Google’s deal with Adobe to index Flash content on the web.

ScreenCastsOnline 

My thanks to ScreenCastsOnline for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. ScreenCastsOnline provides a new tutorial every week available in formats compatible with Apple TV, the iPhone, and iPods. Topics cover a range of Mac-related subjects, ranging from Mac basics to the iLife apps to configuring hardware such as Time Capsule and Elgato’s EyeTV.

Use the coupon code “DF2008” to save 15 percent on a six-month membership, providing access both to new members-only screencasts and ScreenCastsOnline’s entire archive of over 150 members-only videos.

Wexner Center for the Arts: Kubrick Retrospective 

Completing today’s Kubrick-themed holiday quadra-fecta, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus is holding a Kubrick retrospective this summer. At the top of the list: next Friday’s screening of a 70mm print of the greatest film ever made.

(Hat tip, once again, to Jim Coudal.)

‘Kubrick’ 

Speaking of Channel 4 and Stanley Kubrick, here’s Armen Antranikian’s three-minute documentary Kubrick. Via Jim Coudal, who also found this 18-minute excerpt of Tony Kaye’s interview for the film.

Channel 4 Recreates the Set of ‘The Shining’ 

Exquisitely detailed, creepy, one-camera-tracking-shot recreation of the set of Kubrick’s The Shining — a promotional spot for Channel 4’s “The Stanley Kubrick Season”. Even includes the guy in the bear suit.

How to Replace an Original iPhone With an iPhone 3G 

Useful KBase article for next week:

This article explains how to replace an original iPhone with an iPhone 3G using the same carrier. If you follow these steps to backup your original iPhone first, and then restore the backup to your iPhone 3G, your saved SMS messages, email accounts, photos, notes, and other personal settings will be present on your iPhone 3G.

Behind-the-Scenes Photographs From ‘A Clockwork Orange’ 

Love the one with Kubrick drinking coffee with Malcolm McDowell. (Thanks to Dan Benjamin.)

Adobe 9 

Mark Pilgrim on the latest version of Adobe Reader.

Adobe today reminds me a bit of Apple in the mid-’90s. Tremendous engineering and design talent in the company. A loyal base of users built over 20 years. But management that just doesn’t get it at all, and seems hell-bent on running the company into the ground.

Historically, Adobe has provided terrific user experiences. Now, they’re a laughing stock.

Scenes From a Franchise 

Khoi Vinh:

In case you didn’t realize it, three years ago, Christopher Nolan brought our long, national nightmare of bad Batman movies to an end. Let’s hope The Dark Knight keeps us in the clear.

TripLog/1040 

Check out the UI on this upcoming iPhone app from Palm OS developer Stevens Creek Software. This is not a joke. (Via Macworld.)

How Pixar Created the ‘Wall-E’ Visual Style 

Fascinating Animation World Magazine story on the steps Pixar took to make Wall-E look and feel like a traditional film by mimicking the limitations and optics of real-world cameras. Director of photography Jeremy Lasky:

We used a spherical lens as a kind of control to look at depth of field and barrel distortion and the optical breathing you get when you rack from things really close to really far away. It gave us a chance to have something tangible. We used an Arriflex camera with Panavision lenses. We looked at lens flares and how to focus lights in the background. There’s that shot in the truck [his home] when EVE’s looking at the lighter for the first time from WALL-E’s POV and you see the bouquet stretched in the background. And this is the kind of thing we discovered doing those tests.

(Via Daily Kos.)

Gus Mueller on Adobe Reader 9 

Craptacular.

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner 

I don’t see how this will ever catch on with kids — there’s no dialogue.

Judge Orders Google to Turn Over YouTube Records 

Miguel Helft, reporting for the Times:

A federal judge in New York has ordered Google to turn over to Viacom a database linking users of YouTube, the Web’s largest video site by far, with every clip they have watched there.

The order raised concerns among users and privacy advocates that the online video viewing habits of hundreds of millions of people could be exposed.

Regarding ‘Wall-E’ and Kids 

Tyler Cowen (via Kottke) on Wall-E:

Better than better than good.  It is, however, not recommended for children.

I have no idea why not. My four-and-a-half year-old son loved it. Rapt attention the entire time. That large stretches of the film have no dialog whatsoever does not make it difficult for children to follow. If anything, I’ve found that Jonas is much better at following stories which are told cinematically than those which are told verbally. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best film for small children that Pixar has made since Toy Story 2.

The film is so good overall that it makes me wonder whether the Academy will have the balls to nominate it for Best Picture, rather than relegating it to the ridiculous and artificial “Animated” ghetto. The odds that there will be five better films released this year are slim.

‘Walkman Phone Nails Form, Fails Function’ 

Danny Dumas reviews the Sony Ericsson W350.

Microsoft Equipt 

Ina Fried, reporting for CNet on Microsoft Equipt, a new $69 annual subscription software package from Microsoft for Windows users:

The idea behind the subscription service is to convert more new PC buyers into Office buyers. It plays on the fact that although most people don’t buy Office at the same time as a computer, many do purchase a security software subscription.

Microsoft is trying to tap into the fact that while many people would rather find a copy of Office that they don’t have to pay for (either an older version or a pirated copy) they are willing to pay for security software. “Security is basically the No. 1 thing that gets attached with a PC,” said Microsoft group product manager Bryson Gordon.

Equipt includes Microsoft OneCare anti-virus software. So, when you buy a new Windows machine, even Microsoft encourages you to pay extra for security software.

Current iPhones Keep Cheaper Plan on Reactivation 

Glenn Fleishman:

You won’t pay a 3G rate for a 2G iPhone with a new service plan, AT&T confirmed for me today. This should be good news to anyone looking to either sell their so-called 2G iPhone when they upgrade to an iPhone 3G, or for those looking to buy (or beg) the older iPhone model without paying a fee for bandwidth they can’t use.

Buy n Large to Brand Direction ‘North’ 

What’s next, the Year of the Depends Adult Undergarment? Jiminy.

(Via the BnL home page.)

Tooltips for Disabled Menu Items 

Lukas Mathis suggests that Mac OS X apps should provide tooltips to explain why menu items are disabled.

Balloon Help 

System 7’s Balloon Help had an elegant solution to the “Why is this menu item disabled?” problem. Apple encouraged developers to provide separate Balloon Help strings for each state an item could be in; so, you could hover over a disabled menu item and Balloon Help would explain why the item was disabled.

iPhone 3G Is Totally Screwed 

I don’t think there’s ever before been an iPod (or iPhone) that’s had exposed screws.

Regarding AT&T’s iPhone 3G Upgrade Policy 

M. Jackson Wilkinson explains what I was missing with regard to AT&T’s upgrade policy for existing AT&T customers. In short, original iPhone owners can buy new iPhone 3Gs for $199/299 because the original iPhone wasn’t subsidized. But if you purchased a subsidized phone from AT&T and are still in your mandatory two-year contract period, you’re still paying off your last subsidy with your monthly fees, and so you’ve either got to wait or pay full price for an iPhone 3G ($499/599).

What this means, though, is that when Apple comes out with next year’s new iPhone(s), iPhone 3G owners are going to have to pay a penalty to upgrade.

Features Are a One-Way Street 

Ryan Singer:

The lesson: Once your user base has grown beyond a certain point, you cannot take features away from them. They will freak out. Whether the feature is good or bad, once you launch it you’ve married it.

Jacqui Cheng on AT&T’s iPhone 3G Pricing/Plans 

Sounds like current AT&T customers who are under contract with phones other than the original iPhone are stuck paying significantly higher up-front prices. I don’t get it.

‘What Happened Here’ 

Perhaps you think of Jeffrey Zeldman as a designer or as a web standards evangelist. He is those things, but first and foremost the man is a writer, and all else he does stems from that. This is the good stuff.

This is why I think today’s news about Google and Yahoo indexing Flash content is bad news:

Adobe is providing optimized Adobe Flash Player technology to Google and Yahoo! to enhance search engine indexing of the Flash file format (SWF) and uncover information that is currently undiscoverable by search engines.

It’s completely closed and opaque. Adobe is only providing the magic recipe to Google and Yahoo; all other search engines remain locked out.

Rogers’s Exorbitant Early Cancellation Fees 

This is usury:

An Early Cancellation Fee (EECF) applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of the service agreement. The ECF is the greater of (ii) $1100 or (iii) $220 per month remaining in the service agreement, to a maximum of 400 (plus applicable taxes), and applies on each line in the plan that is terminated.

Outrageous.

Update: Apparently it was a typo that has since been corrected. The page now reads: “The ECF is the greater of (ii) $100 or (iii) $20 per month remaining in the service agreement, to a maximum of $400,” which is reasonable.

Regarding Disabled Menu Items 

Joel Spolsky recommends not disabling menu items in context where they can’t be used:

Instead, leave the menu item enabled. If there’s some reason you can’t complete the action, the menu item can display a message telling the user why.

This is why Spolsky is a Windows developer, not a Mac developer. Disabling menu items when they can’t be used is a fine practice — it means that the visual state of a menu item reflects the actual state of the command it represents. One can argue that this can be confusing for users who don’t understand why a particular menu item is currently disabled, but it’s a classic trade-off. Spolsky’s suggestion — that you leave all menu items enabled all the time and show an alert when they’re chosen but can’t be used — would be irritating as hell every time you ran into it. (I’m reminded of Mac apps which don’t supply any Help content but which leave the default Help menu in place, with an “AppName Help” menu item that does nothing but show an alert stating that “Help is not available for AppName.”)

Spolsky’s suggestion is also predicated on the assumption that the user is stupid. Better is to assume that the user is clever and curious and will be able to figure out for themself why a certain command is currently disabled.

Google Learns to Crawl Flash 

Not sure if this is good news or bad news.

iPhone 3G Guided Tour 

Bob is back for another video tour.

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