Linked List: June 29, 2009

Adobe Shuts Down for a Week 

Uh-oh:

Adobe Systems has shut its North American operations for the week as part of a cost-cutting effort that the company said it will repeat at least once more this year.

This strategy has never made any sense to me. In a manufacturing business — like an auto factory — I get it. But at a software company, shouldn’t every week be a productive week? And I can only guess that on some, if not most, teams, there is subtle (or even not so subtle) pressure to keep working from home on whatever your current project is.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a blog post from John Dowdell explaining how this is a positive sign for the future of Flash.

Update: Apparently this is old news, but it’s still bad news.

Microsoft’s New Ads for Internet Explorer 

What strikes me about these spots is that even Microsoft’s own ads use Helvetica rather than Arial.

Jakob Nielsen Calls for an End to Password Masking 

Jakob Nielsen:

Usability suffers when users type in passwords and the only feedback they get is a row of bullets. Typically, masking passwords doesn’t even increase security, but it does cost you business due to login failures.

The iPhone strikes an interesting middle ground here — it shows you each letter you’ve typed in a password field for a second or so before turning it into a bullet.

Birdfeed 

Excellent new $5 iPhone Twitter client from Buzz Andersen (with design by Neven Mrgan). I’ve been beta-testing Birdfeed for a long time, and it is truly worth your attention. It looks good and feels smart, and it has some features which, once you get used to them, you can’t believe aren’t in every iPhone Twitter client. Among my favorites:

  • Scroll to the bottom of a list of tweets and Birdfeed will start loading more, from further back chronologically, automatically.

  • Update timestamps in tweet lists.

  • Your last loaded tweets are stored locally in a database, so you can fire up Birdfeed on an airplane and read what was there when last you launched it with a network connection.

Comparing Birdfeed to other good — but very different — Twitter apps like Tweetie and Twitterrific is exactly what I had in mind when I wrote “Twitter Clients Are a UI Design Playground”.

Sputnik 

Christian Plesner Hansen announcing Sputnik, Google’s new open source JavaScript test suite:

The goal is not that all implementations should pass all tests. V8 set out with that intention and we learned the hard way that sometimes you have to be incompatible with the spec to be compatible with the web. Rather, we want Sputnik to be a tool for identifying differences between implementations.

(Via John Siracusa.)

Speaking of the Two-Year Anniversary of the Original iPhone 

Palm investor Roger McNamee, back in March:

“You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two-year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone,” McNamee said today in an interview in San Francisco. “Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.”

Two Years Ago Today, This Was Still My Phone 

Here’s a photo of the old Nokia freebie I was using before I got my first iPhone, two years ago today.

Free ‘Free’ (Or: Who’s the Blowhard Now?) 

Regarding my link earlier today to Gladwell’s review of Free, I got the following gracious (and interesting) email from Chris Anderson:

I may be a blowhard, but I’m not a hypocrite. “Free” will be free. Ebooks free for first week, web book (Google Books) free for first month, abridged audiobook free to all hardcover purchasers and unabridged audiobook (the whole thing) free to everyone forever. All starting on pub date (July 9th).

BTW, I made those audiobooks free by reserving the rights to myself. I paid for the studio time (and recorded it myself), the abridging and the audio editing (more than $25,000, all told), so that the audiobook could be free to all.

I stand corrected, regret the error, and very much appreciate the note from Anderson.

There, I Fixed It 

“Epic kludges and adventures in home ownership.” (Via Rands.)

Mariano Rivera Records 500th Save, First RBI 

The best closer there ever was.

Speaking of Walkmen 

The BBC Magazine had 13-year-old Scott Campbell swap his iPod for a Walkman for one week:

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Fake Steve: Jon Rubinstein Now Says He’ll Get a New Liver, Too 

If you haven’t re-subscribed to the Fake Steve RSS feed, you should. It’s been great all week.

Malcolm Gladwell Reviews ‘Free’ by Chris Anderson 

I’ll preface my recommendation of this book review by telling you that I’m a big Gladwell fan, and that I think Chris Anderson is a hypocritical blowhard who tells you to give your work away for free while he earns enormous sums selling decidedly-not-free books. Anyway, love this bit from Gladwell on Anderson’s “free” poster child YouTube:

YouTube is a great example of Free, except that Free technology ends up not being Free because of the way consumers respond to Free, fatally compromising YouTube’s ability to make money around Free, and forcing it to retreat from the “abundance thinking” that lies at the heart of Free. Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube will lose close to half a billion dollars this year. If it were a bank, it would be eligible for TARP funds.

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