Linked List: August 2009

The Vanderbilt Republic Foundation: ‘Art From the Heart’ 

Great event next week in NYC from my friends at Vanderbilt Republic Foundation, featuring work from an arsenal of terrific photographers. $75 advance ticket grants access for two, and one ticket redeemable for any one photograph at the show — plus all the beer and wine you can drink and a DJ.

Update: Oh, and check out the VRF’s new weblog, The Feed.

John Siracusa’s Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Review 

The definitive review, as always.

More Nice Snow Leopard Refinements 

Good finds from Bill Eccles.

Sun Microsystems Posts Loss in Final Quarter as Independent Company 

An ignominious end to a once-great company.

iPhone App Wins Top Honors at Microsoft Sponsored Event 

John Cook:

Interestingly, 14 of the 15 teams at the event built their products on the Microsoft platform — driven in part by the prize money offered by the BizSpark program. But at the end of the day, it was a mobile app on a competing platform that won the most votes in Microsoft’s backyard.

“Awkward,” whispered Startup Weekend organizer Clint Nelsen into the microphone upon announcing the top voter getter.

Disney to Buy Marvel for $4 Billion 

I wonder what this means for the Marvel-themed attractions at Universal’s theme park in Orlando.

The WSJ Asks: ‘Did AT&T Get a Sour Apple When It Snagged the iPhone?’ 

This type of article drives me nuts. What AT&T got with the iPhone was an incredible opportunity. Just because they’ve blown it doesn’t change that.

Larva Labs on Android Market Sales 

Matt Hall from Larva Labs reveals the sales numbers for a top-selling game in the Android Market. (Spoiler: Surprisingly low.)

Samsung Application Store 

Good luck with that.

Snow Leopard Screenshots Get Smarter Default File Names 

Nice find by TUAW’s Michael Rose: on Snow Leopard, screenshots are no longer given names like “Picture 1”; instead, they get names that start with “Screen shot” and include the date and time.

Apple Approves Spotify iPhone App 

Not available in the U.S. because Spotify itself isn’t yet available here, but it’s a good sign that Apple isn’t going to block iTunes Music Store competitors from the App Store.

Wil Shipley: ‘On Heuristics and Human Factors’ 

It’s easier to write about programming from a logical perspective. It’s harder to write about programming how software feels — explaining how much work and thought goes into seemingly small details that don’t really affect what the software can do but rather how it feels to use it. It’s like the difference between writing about cameras and writing about photography.

This piece by Wil Shipley captures it.

RipIt 

My thanks to The Little App Factory for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote RipIt, their excellent simple DVD ripping app for Mac OS X. RipIt makes it easy and obvious to get your DVDs onto your computer, with a simple one-click interface. Check out the screencasts on their web site to see just how easy it is.

They’ve got a special offer for DF readers: save 25 percent off the regular $20 price through 31 August 2009, using the coupon code “DARINGFIRE2009”.

The iPhone Is Going to China 

China Unicom:

China Unicom and Apple have reached a multiyear agreement for China Unicom to sell iPhone in China. The initial launch is expected to be in the fourth calendar quarter of 2009. We will share more details at that time.

Leander Kahney Disputes $2.4B iPhone App Store Estimate 

He quotes iPhone developers Layton Duncan and David Barnard, who present compelling numbers suggesting it’s about a $500 million business right now.

I Believe in Murphy’s Law 

How I upgrade to a new version of Mac OS X, from 2007:

So, in short:

  1. Do a complete backup clone to an external FireWire drive.
  2. Test that the backup is indeed bootable and up to date.
  3. Unplug the backup drive.
  4. Pop in the installer DVD and launch the “Install Mac OS X” app.

[Update: Starting with Snow Leopard, instead of booting from the DVD directly, you should instead pop in the installer DVD and launch the “Install Mac OS X” app on the disc. This will reboot your machine from the DVD, yes, but first it will download any necessary software updates that have come out since the disc was pressed. It’s a subtle but very nice improvement to the installer.]

App Store Rejection of the Week 

Convertbot 1.4 rejected for using a clock icon to represent “time”, even though the exact same icon was used for versions 1.0 through 1.3.

Mac OS X Automation 

My single favorite improvement in Snow Leopard is the overhaul to system-wide Services. Services were one of the best features of the NeXTStep OS, and while they made the transition to Mac OS X, they never seemed well integrated into the user interface. From 10.0 through 10.5, the Services menu was hidden away in a sub-menu of the application menu, and keyboard shortcuts were not user-configurable (and in fact, it was common for multiple third-party applications to define Services menu items with conflicting shortcuts). The Services system has been completely overhauled for Snow Leopard.

Mac OS X Automation is a great new web site devoted to AppleScript, Automator, and Services, with examples and tutorials from the one and only Sal Soghoian. Their write-up of the changes to Services in Snow Leopard is the best you’ll see, emphasizing four C’s: Contextual, Convenient, Configurable, Customizable.

Customizable is the best part. You can now create your own system-wide (or app-specific) services using Automator, AppleScript, and shell scripts. Check out the list of downloadable Automator services you can install (and modify).

Playgrounder 

New “buyers guide for kids and parents” from my friends Dan Benjamin and Larry Angell. Looks like a great resource for finding new toys.

Om Malik on the Size of the App Store Economy 

Interesting survey numbers from mobile ad network AdMob regarding the iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry app economies. The takeaway: people are happy to buy a lot of low-price apps for their smartphones, especially iPhone users. Free apps are the gateway to paid apps, and (no surprise here) the bestseller lists are the most popular way for users to find new apps.

Jesse Grosjean’s App Store Economics Experiment 

Grosjean reduced the price of his nifty WriteRoom iPhone notes app from $5 to free over the weekend, and has now raised it to $1, and he’s publishing the sales numbers.

Macworld’s Complete Coverage of Snow Leopard 

Lots of coverage, including Jason Snell’s review and Dan Moren’s look at the new built-in malware detector.

Nokia’s New Maemo Site 

They’re billing it as a full computer in a handheld. It’s hard not to see Symbian as implicitly deprecated.

Joe Hewitt on the App Store 

Joe Hewitt, advocating for Apple to open the App Store to all technically compliant apps:

Oh, but you say that iPhone apps are different, because they run native code and can do scary things that web pages can’t? Again, you’re wrong, because iPhone apps are sandboxed and have scarcely any more privileges than a web app. About the only scary thing they can do outside the sandbox is access your address book, but Apple can easily fix that by requiring they ask permission first, just like they must do to track your location.

Very similar to Wil Shipley’s proposal. The bottom line is that Apple should remove subjectivity from the review process. That would benefit everyone: developers, users, and even Apple itself.

Ikea Switches From Futura to Verdana 

Horrible decision. Baffling, really. I have never seen Verdana look good in any way other than in small sizes on-screen. (Via Adam Lisagor.)

Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies 

NYT:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.

Ramp Champ 

New $2 game from The Iconfactory and DS Media Labs. Lovely, intricate design work, and fun to play. Also a nice instance of using in-app purchasing to obtain additional game levels.

Design Evolution of ‘Convert’ 

Iterate, iterate, iterate.

Sony Unveils Upcoming ‘Reader Daily Edition’ With 3G Networking 

Like the Kindle, it will have free always-on 3G. Considering how much I pay per month for 3G for my phone, I don’t get how the economics work out for these deals.

Update: Unlike the Kindle, there’s no web browser in the Sony Reader, so the 3G is effectively just for buying books. And several readers emailed to say that the Kindle browser is so bad that it doesn’t get used much, so Kindle owners don’t use much bandwidth either.

Phils Beat Mets With Game-Ending Unassisted Triple Play 

Only the second to end a game in MLB history.

Bloomberg on Apple’s Fifth Avenue Store 

Bloomberg:

Apple’s Fifth Avenue emporium probably has annual sales of more than $350 million, topping any of the chain’s other outlets, said Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president of real- estate broker Newmark Knight Frank Retail in New York. The location is 10,000 square feet, putting its sales per square foot at a minimum of $35,000, based on Roseman’s estimate.

That’s the equivalent of selling one Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan per square foot. Apple may be the highest grossing retailer ever on Fifth Avenue, said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the retail leasing and sales division at Manhattan-based Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

I walked by the Fifth Avenue store a few weeks ago — just looked in from above outside, on a weekday afternoon — and there’s no way to describe it other than impossibly busy.

Snow Leopard Ships Friday 

The ship date is old news for DF readers, but it’s worth the excitement. I’ve been running the betas full-time since WWDC and it’s really nice. I can’t think of a single change that isn’t an improvement over 10.5.

Typedia: A Shared Encyclopedia of Typefaces 

From the About page:

In a nutshell, Typedia is a community website to classify typefaces and educate people about them. Think of it like a mix between IMDb and Wikipedia, but just for type.

Do not miss the backstory on the creation of Typedia’s wonderful logo by John Langdon.

RIM Acquires Torch Mobile 

Torch Mobile PR:

Torch Mobile is excited to announce that our company has been acquired by Research In Motion (RIM), one of the most renowned mobile technology companies in the world. Our team of developers will join RIM’s global organization and will now be focused on utilizing our WebKit-based mobile browser expertise to contribute to the ongoing enhancement of the BlackBerry platform.

Getting harder and harder to find mobile platforms that don’t use WebKit.

Nokia Booklet 3G 

Nokia announces their entry into the laptop PC market. The OS is Windows.

Real Announces That They’ve Submitted a Rhapsody Client for iPhone 

It’ll be interesting to see whether Apple accepts it. Assuming it contains its own self-contained audio codecs, it might technically violate the SDK guidelines. But if Apple chooses to block all competing music services from the App Store, it will inevitably raise antitrust concerns.

Unless there are specific technical problems with the app, I think Apple will accept it.

Where To? 

My thanks to FutureTap for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote “Where To?”, the excellent location-aware points of interest finder for the iPhone. Where To version 2.0 adds a bunch of new features from iPhone OS 3.0 — best of all, a built-in map display directly within the app. This makes Where To better than the built-in Maps app for finding types of nearby establishments. Check out their screencast to see how it works.

Where To is on sale for $0.99 ($2.99 regular price) until Sunday 23 August.

Lucy and Ethel Get Jobs as App Store Reviewers 

80 apps per reviewer per day, every day. These numbers alone explain a lot.

(Thanks to Jason Snell.)

AT&T and Google’s Responses to the FCC App Store Inquiry 

Only Apple’s is available as a web page on the company’s own site. Engadget is hosting copies of the responses from AT&T and Google.

Apple Answers the FCC’s Questions 

Did you expect Apple to publish their full response to the FCC’s inquiry regarding the Google Voice iPhone app? I did not.

Ajaxload 

Create your own indeterminate progress spinners. (Via Leah Culver.)

Upcoming Nokia N900 to Run Linux-Based OS 

Looks like Nokia is moving beyond Symbian with an OS based on Maemo (which is what they’ve been using in their tablets). Certainly looks interesting, but, judging from all of these screenshots, it doesn’t seem like the display rotates — it only works in landscape orientation. Other than for games, I almost never use my iPhone in anything but portrait mode. (Via Slashdot.)

Update: I stand corrected. There is one screenshot (out of several dozen) that shows the phone contacts screen in portrait orientation. Perhaps the phone app runs in portrait because that’s the only natural way to hold the device for use as a phone, but everything else is landscape?

Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad 

Mid-’80s presentation from Alan Kay showing off Sketchpad, a simply incredible vector drawing application written by Ivan Sutherland in 1963. 1963! This is astonishing. (Via Swiss Miss.)

Sony Versus the iPhone 

Jared Newman:

Sony continues to insist that it’s not competing with the iPhone on gaming, even though the opposite is increasingly becoming true.

Think of all the various separate devices Sony makes which compete with the iPhone to at least some degree: PSPs, Walkmen, point-and-shoot cameras, and mobile phones. Games are just a part of it.

Kind of Bloop 

Kind of Bloop, the 8-bit tribute to Miles Davis commissioned by Andy Baio through Kickstarter, is now available for download for just $5. It’s just great.

I’ll tell you what’s weird about it, though. When I hear the music from an actual old 8-bit game, I can see the game in my mind. Kind of Bloop is so evocative, but yet in some ways so familiar, that it like triggers a like sort of false deja vu, a feeling that I’m just on the cusp of remembering the game to which it went.

David Weiss on the App Store 

Best summary I’ve seen regarding the shortcomings of the App Store from the perspective of an app developer.

The Three Key Parts of News Stories You Usually Don’t Get 

Matt Thompson:

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are four key parts to news stories, and we typically only get one of them, even though journalists possess all four, and the other three are arguably more important.

A great analysis of the shortcomings of newspaper journalism. (Via Andy Baio.)

Bloomberg Report: ‘Palm’s Colligan Said to Snub Jobs’s Recruiting Offer’ 

Bloomberg:

The exact details of what Jobs proposed to Colligan aren’t known; Jobs didn’t mention a proposal in the communications reviewed by Bloomberg. Jobs said Apple had patents and more money than Palm if the companies ended up in a legal fight, according to the communications.

Sounds more like a threat than an offer, but it might be legal trouble either way.

OmniOutliner 3.9 

Sweet, the last version of OmniOutliner I’ll ever have to download and update manually:

This release brings some much needed updating in the form of our self-installing updater and switching to Apple’s auto-save feature. Any file you have open will now be backed-up even if you’ve never saved it!

John Resig on Why the Lucky Stiff 

Why the Lucky Stiff, a pseudonymous Ruby programmer and writer with an engaging, friendly, playful style, has deleted his entire online presence. John Resig has a nice appreciation of Why’s work and style.

Software Keyboards 

Tim Bray is a convert. (And TouchPal looks good.)

‘Art & Copy’ 

New documentary “about advertising and inspiration”, by Doug Pray. Check the list for upcoming screenings.

TV News Giant Don Hewitt Dies at 86 

CBS:

Don Hewitt, recognized as a father of modern television news and the creator of the medium’s most successful broadcast, 60 Minutes, died of pancreatic cancer Wednesday. He was 86 and had homes in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, New York, where he was with family at the time of death.

Microsoft’s Mobile Strategy: Irrelevance 

Om Malik:

Microsoft is apparently going to counter the Android and iPhone offensives on the mobile market with a new strategy: confusion. The company will allegedly continue to sell its increasingly less relevant Windows Mobile 6.5 for a lower price when it launches version 7 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The fourth quarter of 2010? I mean, does Redmond expect Google and Apple to go on a yearlong vacation? No wonder Microsoft is becoming irrelevant on the mobile platform.

This is based on a report in DigiTimes from unnamed sources, so I’ll take it with a grain of salt. But it sounds plausible given Microsoft’s confusing, fragmented mobile strategy to date.

(Speaking of which, I’ve heard from a second developer of a popular iPhone app who was approached by Microsoft to port their app to the Zune. They, like my initial source, declined the offer. Keep in mind that the Zune is not Windows Mobile.)

Merlin Mann Is Writing a Book 

“It’s not about email.”

Lessn 

Shaun Inman:

Lessn is an extremely simple, personal URL shortener written in PHP with MySQL and mod_rewrite.

‘No Chance’ 

Some classic claim chowder from Steve Ballmer, back in April 2007 (two months before the iPhone hit stores):

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.

Self-Enforcing Protocols 

Bruce Schneier:

Self-enforcing protocols are safer than other types because participants don’t gain an advantage from cheating. Modern voting systems are rife with the potential for cheating, but an open show of hands in a room — one that everyone in the room can count for himself — is self-enforcing.

(Via Wilfredo Sánchez.)

DF RSS Feed Sponsorship 

If you have a product or service you’d like to promote to Daring Fireball’s audience of Apple nerds, designers, nitpickers, perfectionists, and connoisseurs of fine sarcasm, perhaps you should consider sponsoring the DF RSS feed. September and October are nearly sold out, but November is wide open.

Palm WebOS App Catalog Now Open to Submissions 

Chuq Von Rospach:

All developers can submit both free and paid applications today for evaluation by Palm. Details of the program are the following:

  • You can charge a one-time fee for the download of your application.
  • Initially, the user base for e-commerce will be limited to the United States.
  • Developers will receive 70 percent of revenues generated through application sales (less applicable sales taxes).
  • webOS users will pay for their application purchases using credit cards and will download apps directly to their webOS device.
Mailsmith Now Freeware, Under New Ownership 

From the Bare Bones press release:

Bare Bones Software today announced it has transferred ownership of Mailsmith to Stickshift Software LLC, who in turn are releasing Mailsmith 2.2 today as freeware.

“Like many others, I use and rely on Mailsmith on a daily basis,” said Rich Siegel, founder and CEO of Bare Bones Software, Inc. and owner of Stickshift Software. “However, at this point it is strictly a labor of love for me. Since I’m in the unique position of being able to support it for others who also use and rely on Mailsmith, I have created a new company whose sole purpose is to provide a home for Mailsmith, while allowing me to focus on my work at Bare Bones Software, which remains my first and highest priority.”

MSNBC.com Acquires EveryBlock 

Smart acquisition.

No Donut or Eclair Software Updates for G1 Owners? 

It’s not even one year old.

Gmail Passes AOL to Capture Third-Place in Web Mail 

Just eked past AOL, still behind Hotmail and Yahoo Mail in total users. But, in terms of mindshare, Gmail utterly dominates. Many of my friends — technically knowledgeable, demanding email users — use and love Gmail. None of them use Hotmail or Yahoo Mail. Raw user count is the wrong metric; Gmail has already won.

Google is like Apple in this way. It starts by taking over the premium end of a market.

‘The Most-Introduced Vehicle in America’ 

Ed Wallace in BusinessWeek on how GM doesn’t understand how to sell cars:

There’s a fundamental rule of a successful business: “underpromise and overdeliver.” That concept has been around since the Studebaker Brothers were building wagons for the Civil War. After the war ended, they codified their business ethic in Studebaker’s motto: “Always give a little more than you promise.” Nothing better sums up GM’s wrongheaded thinking than its execs’ promise that the company will return to technological superiority once they finally bring the new Chevrolet Volt to market. […]

Why won’t it be knocking socks off? Because by the time dealerships actually receive their Volts, the impulse buyers will have been seeing the vehicle for almost three years. To GM’s most cherished buyer demographic, the Volt will be old news by the time the first one hits the streets.

GM could learn a lot from Apple. (Via John Siracusa.)

Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Schedule 

Buzz Andersen:

Franklin’s plan is an inspiration to me because it reminds me why I went down the tough road of being an indie developer in the first place: to live a more balanced, reflective life.

A nice page design, too.

Secrets of Magus 

Speaking of Ricky Jay, Mark Singer’s 1993 profile of him for The New Yorker is a classic. Perfect reading to start the weekend.

SimplyTweet 2.0 

My thanks to MotionObj for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote SimplyTweet 2.0, their feature-packed Twitter client for the iPhone and iPod Touch. SimplyTweet 2.0 now has built-in support for push notifications for mentions and direct messages on iPhone OS 3.0, support for themes, search, and multiple picture uploading to sites such as TwitPic and Posterous.

Zune SDK Is XNA Game Studio? 

Apparently this is the SDK for the Zune, and, presumably, the Zune HD.

A bunch of readers emailed me with the link to this “case study” from Microsoft a few weeks ago regarding an iPhone developer who ported their app to Windows Mobile 6.5 (well, to one specific Windows Mobile phone). But trust me, my iPhone Twitter client developer source was pitched on porting his app to the Zune, not to Windows Mobile.

The whole situation just goes to show how utterly convoluted Microsoft’s mobile development message is. They’re all over the map. And that’s not even mentioning their “Pink” project, which is apparently some sort of next-generation Sidekick.

Capo 1.1 

Nice update to SuperMegaUltraGroovy’s tool for musicians. I just love this UI.

Update on Pogue’s ‘Take Back the Beep’ Campaign 

David Pogue, on his campaign to get U.S. mobile phone carriers to eliminate the 15-second recorded instructions you hear when leaving a voicemail message:

Verizon’s PR contact, Tom Pica, hasn’t responded to my request for a progress report. He’s probably still irritated at me. When ABC News interviewed him about this campaign, he told them that customers can already turn off the instructions. Which isn’t true. So that night on Twitter, I said that he was lying.

He called me to let me know that he wasn’t lying — he was misquoted. What he said was that you can turn off voicemail altogether if you don’t like the 15-second instructions.

Well, O.K., but … huh?

Isn’t that like saying, “My son bites his nails, so let’s chop off his hands”?

iPhone 3GS vs. Palm Pre Customer Satisfaction 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

Palm Pre owners love their smartphones, but not as much as owners of Apple’s new 3GS iPhone love theirs.

In a survey of 200 3GS users conducted Aug. 4-11 by RBC Capital and ChangeWave Research, 99% pronounced themselves satisfied, of which 82% were “very satisfied.” In a matching survey of 40 Pre owners, 87% said they were satisfied and 45% “very satisfied.”

The Pre’s numbers are good. The 3GS’s are amazing. I can’t recall ever seeing a number like 99 percent in a customer satisfaction survey before.

Number one source of dissatisfaction for iPhone owners: AT&T’s network. It’s an anchor around Apple’s neck.

Always On 

Adam Lisagor notes a subtle but significant improvement to the camera with the iPhone 3GS:

My hypothesis: from the moment you launch the Camera app, data is not only streaming to the viewer, but being cached to memory at full resolution, much like a TiVo with a live broadcast. Where there’s been latency in previous versions of the iPhone hardware/software due to processing limitations, those limitations have been overcome in the iPhone 3GS, closing the gap between intention and result by processing the streaming input from a microsecond before the shutter was released. In essence, the iPhone is constantly storing the picture you want before you even take it.

I sort of noticed the same thing subconsciously — a few times where I thought I’d missed the shot based on my experience with the original iPhone and 3G, I’ve gotten the shot with the 3GS. But after reading Adam’s piece and testing it out side-by-side with my old 3G, there’s no maybe about it. As Adam says, something smart is happening here.

Jon Stokes on OLED Displays 

Interesting chart showing power consumption: OLED wins versus LCD for most cases, but loses when most of the screen is white. This favors light text on dark backgrounds for user interfaces.

‘Insider’, Eh? 

Brian Lam has a much-linked-to piece on Gizmodo today titled “An Insider on the Apple Tablet”:

They went on to say that although the project has been going on under various names between four and six years, the first prototype was built around the end of 2008. Adding, “The time to market from first prototype is generally 6-9 months.” That would place the device’s release date in this holiday season. They then said, “There was a question of what OS the device would run, too.” (Other people I’ve talked to have implied this remains a huge secret.)

I’m almost certain there’s no tablet coming this year. It’s a 2010 thing. (Update: Jim Dalrymple is hearing 2010, too.)

So Lam’s source is an “insider” but has no idea what the OS is and has the ship date wrong. Sure.

Microsoft: New Outlook for Mac App Replaces Entourage in Next Version of Office, Scheduled for Late 2010 

Jason Snell:

Microsoft announced Thursday that the next edition of Microsoft Office for Mac will be released in late 2010. The new edition of the venerable office suite will include Outlook for Mac, a new application that will replace the Entourage. […]

Microsoft Mac Business Unit general manager Eric Wilfrid said that Microsoft will create Outlook for Mac using Apple’s modern Cocoa development frameworks, rather than the older Carbon system used by previous Office applications because of their legacy of having been originally developed for the Classic Mac OS.

I concur with this tweet from Snell — that they’re pre-announcing this so far in advance to discourage current Entourage users from switching to the new Exchange-compatible versions of Apple Mail and iCal in Snow Leopard.

Zune HD Available on September 15 

Joshua Topolsky at Engadget:

The Tegra-packing, HD Radio-playing, 720p-outputting device will come in a black, 16GB flavor for $219.99, or a beefier, “platinum” finish 32GB version clocking in at $289.99 (apparently the player will come in five additional colors, but no word on which ones, exactly).

The angular industrial design is original and wholly un-Apple-like. But isn’t it odd that the word “marketplace” doesn’t quite fit on the screen in the Zune’s main menu?

Clearly, the Zune HD is going to be compared to the iPod Touch. Its biggest shortcoming is that it’s just a media player and web browser; no apps, no games. The Zune HD prices look good compared to today’s iPod Touches, but not so much compared to the new camera-equipped ones Apple is set to announce next month (16/32/64 GB for $199/299/399).

Laying It All Out 

Another comprehensive review and comparison of design apps by Jon Whipple, this time looking at five competitors to InDesign and QuarkXPress in the page layout space: Create, iCalamus, iStudio Publisher, Swift Publisher, and WorksWell.

This is not just a kick-the-tires checklist comparison. It is a deep 12,000-word examination of what these apps offer and how they stand compared to InDesign.

Palm Collects Location Data From Pre Users 

Joey Hess reports that WebOS periodically sends Palm your location, which apps you use, and crash logs. The crash logs I understand (although that should be opt-in). But I don’t understand why Palm would collect location information. Dieter Bohn has more at PreCentral.

Update: Palm has issued a statement acknowledging that they collect location information.

Smoking Apples’s Roundup of iPhone Notes Apps 

Jonas Wisser has a good survey of the current field of iPhone notes apps. He comes to the same conclusion I did: Simplenote is the best. But there are several others worth a look, especially if you don’t like Simplenote’s minimalism. E.g., Notespark, which finally supports SSL for syncing.

How iPhone Sudoku Grab Works 

iPhone Sudoku Grab is a 99-cent iPhone app that lets you snap a photo of a printed Sudoku puzzle, then lets you play it or just shows you the solution. Developer Chris Greening explains how it works. (Via Andy Baio.)

Snow Leopard Goes GM 

What I’m hearing is that it went GM last Friday and could be on sale by Friday August 28.

The Impossible Cool 

Just what it says on the tin. Outstanding.

Goodnight, Suite RISC 

John Nack:

It’ll probably come as no surprise that Adobe is following Apple’s lead & going Intel-only with the next generation of the Creative Suite. That is, CS4 is the last version that’ll run on PowerPC-based Macs.

Texas Judge Blocks Microsoft From Selling Word 

Patent trolling at its worst.

Stephen Hawking and Britain’s NHS 

Stephen Hawking: “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

The Guardian has a series of good articles comparing the health care systems in the U.K. and U.S. My favorite so far is this one, which puts the facts to a series of claims circulating in the U.S., and lists the bad along with the good (e.g., breast cancer survival rates are significantly higher in the U.S.)

What’s weird to me about this focus on the NHS from conservatives here in the U.S. is twofold: (a) the current reform proposals are not at all like the U.K. system; and (b) the NHS is quite popular in the U.K. — if it were as bad as these U.S. conservatives claim, don’t you think Britons would be up in arms about it?

Microsoft, Nokia Team to Put Office Apps on Mobile Phones 

Prediction: Microsoft, gunning for market share, eventually tries to pull a Yahoo on Nokia and get them to switch to Windows Mobile.

Lance Ulanoff: ‘Love My BlackBerry Bold, Hate AT&T 3G’ 

It’s not just iPhone owners.

La Petite URL 

Another URL-shortening WordPress plugin, this one by Phil Nelson. Includes support for Short URL Auto-Discovery.

Vanderbilt Republic Foundation ‘Masters’ Project at Kickstarter 

A few weeks ago I linked to the Vanderbilt Republic Foundation, a new creative initiative whose first project is an upcoming month-long photographic documentary project in Cambodia, to capture the stories of performing arts masters whose ranks were nearly wiped out by Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970s. A few days later, I linked to Andy Baio’s announcement that he’s taken the position of CTO at Kickstarter, an amazing new fundraising platform for artists, designers, journalists, and more.

VRF and Kickstarter are two of the most interesting new projects I’ve been following this year. (I’ve gone so far as to accept a position on the VRF’s advisory committee.) And, now, I can link them together: the VRF is using Kickstarter to raise funds for the Masters project.

I got things started with the first backing pledge, for $100. I hope you’ll watch the project video and consider backing this project too.

Managing UI Complexity 

Splendid piece by Brandon Walkin on designing complex user interfaces. The side-by-side comparisons are excellent; I especially like the comparison between Adobe Lightroom and Microsoft Expression Blend.

Safari 4.0.3 

Apple’s list of security issues fixed in today’s new Safari release.

Doctype 

New Stack-Overflow-style question-and-answer site for web designers, from the makers of Litmus.

Tr.im ‘Resurrected’ 

The tr.im URL shortening service, which announced it was shutting down a few days ago, now says they’re back, for good. But who’d trust them now? I’ll never use them again.

Apple Brings Back Matte-Finish Display Option for 15-Inch MacBook Pro 

$50 option.

USAA Bank Will Let Customers Deposit Checks by iPhone 

Susan Stellin, reporting for the NYT:

USAA, a privately held bank and insurance company, plans to update its iPhone application this week to introduce the check deposit feature, which requires a customer to photograph both sides of the check with the phone’s camera.

What a great idea.

Steven Soderbergh on HDTV Aspect Ratios for 2.40:1 Films 

You thought the pan-and-scan vs. letterboxing wars were over with the move to 16:9 HD TVs? Wrong. Steven Soderbergh, in the DGA Quarterly:

Television operators, the people who buy and produce things for people to watch on TV, are taking the position that films photographed in the 2.40:1 ratio should be blown up or chopped up to fit a 16:9 (1.78:1) ratio. They are taking the position that the viewers of television do not like watching 2.40 films letterboxed to fit their 16:9 screens, and that a film insisting on this is worth significantly less—or even nothing—to them. They are taking the position that no one will dare challenge them and risk losing revenue.

(Via Nat Irons.)

How a Macworld Cover Is Made 

Captivating time-lapse video from photographer Peter Belanger, showing the process for creating the cover of Macworld magazine.

Andre Torrez Is Using an Android G1 for a Month 

Interesting perspective on what it’s like to go full-time Android after two years of using an iPhone. He’s got two follow-ups so far, here and here. This bit from his second entry, on what is widely regarded as the best Android Twitter client, captures the sort of “Eh, good enough” attitude that would drive me nuts:

Twidroid is a little chunky when scrolling, offers lengthy menus you have to scroll through when the phone is turned sideways, and generally feels rough to me. There is a “delete” option for every tweet, not just my own, but every tweet. When you push that option you are told, “You may not delete another users (sic) status”. They shipped that.

The best thing that could happen for iPhone users would be for the Android and/or WebOS communities to start shipping apps that make iPhone owners jealous. Google Voice for Android is the best example so far.

Update: And he’s given up after just seven days. Cripes.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, Part Two 

Anti-health-care-reform activist, reportedly injured in a fight at a town hall meeting last week, is collecting donations to pay his medical bills because he was recently laid off and lost his health insurance.

Update: The man’s lawyer says he’s just unemployed, but has health insurance through his wife, and that he’s collecting donations to profit from the alleged attack.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, Part One 

From an Investor’s Business Daily editorial arguing against the current U.S. health care reform proposals:

The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the “quality adjusted life year.” One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on. The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Stephen Hawking was born and has lived his entire life in the U.K.

(Via Josh Marshall.)

Facebook Acquires FriendFeed 

Facebook is a good match for FriendFeed, insofar as I’ve never understood why I’d want to use either of them.

Pre-Order Snow Leopard From Amazon 

Those of you reading this on the DF web site (as opposed to the RSS feed) may notice I’ve added a promotional reminder up in the top-right corner, shamelessly pimping Amazon pre-orders for Snow Leopard and the Snow Leopard family pack. I know I linked to these a week ago, but it really is a big deal — I make more from Amazon kickbacks for these biennial major Mac OS X updates than I do from all other Amazon products combined. For obvious reasons, DF’s audience is pretty much square in the middle of the market for selling Mac OS X updates.

If you buy from Amazon, you get a good price and Amazon’s price guarantee — if the price goes down before Snow Leopard actually ships, you’ll get that price. Also, after clicking these links, any other purchases you make from Amazon throw referral lucre my way.

Snow Leopard doesn’t seem to yet be available for pre-order from Canada or the U.K., but readers in those countries can set a preference to get Amazon.ca and Amazon.co.uk links on the DF preferences page.

Shorten This 

Zeldman:

Rolling your own mini-URLs lessens the chance that your carefully cultivated links will rot if the third-party URL shortening site goes down or goes out of business, as is happening to tr.im, a URL shortener that is pulling the plug because it could neither monetize nor sell its service.

He’s using the Short URL Plugin for WordPress.

MG Siegler on the Case for Apple 

Long, personal response to Calacanis’s rant. I think Calacanis’s heart is in the right place, but his arguments just don’t add up.

URL Shortener tr.im to Discontinue Service 

They plan to keep redirecting existing tr.im URLs through the end of the year, but after that, they’re all dead. And people ask me why I wrote my own URL shortener for DF’s Twitter account.

Planet Calacanis  

Marco Arment on Jason Calacanis’s “five-part” criticism of Apple:

This, unfortunately, is the fate of Calacanis’s piece: he has some good points, but they’re buried in so much off-base ranting and misplaced frustration that it’s difficult to take any of it seriously.

Write When Inspired 

Jeffrey Zeldman on writing.

How ‘Fail’ Went From Verb to Interjection 

“Fail” makes the On Language column in the Sunday NYT Magazine (with Ben Zimmer filling in for the vacationing William Safire.)

How Will We Know? 

Steven Frank:

The problem with my self-imposed iPhone boycott is I’m not sure how I know when it ends.

He proposes some good benchmarks.

Comics by ComiXology 

My thanks to ComiXology for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Comics, their new iPhone app. It’s a combination comic book store, reader, and library, all on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You can browse and purchase new comics using the new iPhone OS 3.0 in-app purchasing system. The app itself is just 99 cents, and comes with over 30 free comics.

Check out the screencast guided to tour to see how it works. The reading interface is very well-designed, including thoughtful features like the option to auto-rotate the display depending on the orientation of the current panel. Very clever design, and a perfect example of in-app purchasing.

Vacation ’58 

John Hughes’s “Vacation ’58” story for National Lampoon, which he later adapted into the screenplay for National Lampoon’s Vacation.

See also: Hughes on how he wrote it.

The Windows 7 Upgrade Chart 

That’s a lot of blue boxes.

Making It Up as They Go 

Buzz Andersen, responding to the aforelinked piece by Daniel Jalkut:

My guess would be that Apple had to set up a large organization to do this reviewing very, very quickly and ended up with a bunch of people who can quickly go down a very literal laundry list of things to check, but don’t have the time, expertise, or incentive to make nuanced judgements about an app’s suitability.

I suspect that almost every complaint people have about the App Store is related to the fact that Apple set it up practically overnight by the standards of a large software project. They’re making it up as the go along, and it shows.

I think Phil Schiller’s email regarding Ninjawords hints at this too.

And I keep thinking about the fact that they’ve built the App Store on a foundation that was originally intended for music and movies.

App Store Mercenaries 

Daniel Jalkut has a thoughtful theory on what’s going on with the App Store:

Why would somebody waste time typing profane words into a dictionary, gathering screen captures, and sending them to developers, except to defend their prize “catch”? If perfecting the product was the goal, we’d see a lot more nuance and thoughtfulness. But excellence is one goal, and collecting proof of “doing one’s job” is quite another. I think I know what many App Store reviewers aspire to.

Why Ninjawords Drew a Response 

Jason Kincaid on Schiller’s public statement regarding Ninjawords:

All of that said, I find it totally bizarre that Phil Schiller took the time to write this lengthy explanation without saying anything about the myriad of other problems with the App Store (it is possible that Gruber omitted portions of the letter, though it doesn’t sound like it). No mention of the Google Voice fiasco, nothing on the awful support developers have seen from App Store representatives, nothing on the inconsistent and nebulous approval policies.

To be clear, the unpublished portions of Schiller’s email were not substantial, and did not touch upon any other topics regarding the App Store. Of course, I’d love to engage Schiller in a similarly detailed discussion of Google Voice. I agree that it’s a far more important topic. However, it’s also far more complex. No one from Apple is going to discuss it on the record. (Note to Phil Schiller: I’d love to be proven wrong.)

The Google Voice issue involves Apple’s contentious relationship with AT&T (and, eventually, when Google Voice is available outside the U.S., Apple’s carrier partners around the world), and Apple’s competitive relationship with Google itself.

The beauty of the Ninjawords story — what drew me to it like a magnet — is not that it is a particularly important case, but rather that it is particularly simple. The problems are clear, uncomplicated, and, I think, undeniable.

MacJournals News: On Phil Schiller’s Credibility 

MacJournals:

We do not offer an opinion as to whether Schiller is being truthful in the App Store censorship matter. We only point out that his past statements when Apple was under fire mean that he does not get the benefit of our doubt. If Apple’s policy truly is not to censor applications for “including references to common swear words” (or ask their developers to do so to gain approval, either explicitly or implicitly), we’ll see the results in the App Store, and Schiller will have won back some credibility.

His statement was encouraging, but all that matters is whether it results in actual changes to the App Store review process.

Virtual Keyboards on iPhone and Android 

Must-read comparison of the virtual keyboards on the iPhone and Android HTC Magic, by Lukas Mathis:

A virtual keyboard lives and dies by the details. It’s not that there’s a single feature which makes the iPhone’s virtual keyboard better than Android’s; it’s death by a thousand cuts. A number of small differences end up making a huge difference.

(Android does win on one count: its auto-correction feature shows a menu of suggestions, rather than the iPhone’s, which only shows one.)

David Pogue on the Google Voice/Apple/AT&T Affair 

Pogue simply nails it:

In short, what Apple and AT&T have accomplished with their heavy-handed, Soviet information-control style is not to bury these useful apps. Instead, Apple/AT&T have elevated them to martyr status — and, in effect, thrown down a worldwide challenge to programmers everywhere.

“Get around THIS,” they’re saying.

But guess what? It won’t take long. They’ve put a rock in the river, but the water will just find a way around it.

The Good Old Days of Swear Words on the iPhone 

It’s a little thing, but this week’s Ninjawords saga has reminded me of this nugget from my day-one first impressions review of the original iPhone:

The auto-suggest correction system works pretty damn well, considering it hasn’t yet had a chance to learn much about what and how I type. Most impressive touch: it knows the word “fucking”.

I think it was OS 2.0 where the “ducking” thing kicked in.

John Hughes Dies at 59 

I don’t think you can overstate how influential his films were for my generation. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is, in my book, his masterpiece.

Reuters Gets It 

Chris Aheam, president of media at Thomson Reuters:

I believe in the link economy. Please feel free to link to our stories — it adds value to all producers of content. I believe you should play fair and encourage your readers to read-around to what others are producing if you use it and find it interesting.

I don’t believe you could or should charge others for simply linking to your content. Appropriate excerpting and referencing are not only acceptable, but encouraged. If someone wants to create a business on the back of others’ original content, the parties should have a business relationship that benefits both.

Spot-on.

Lies About Lying 

Errol Morris interviews Ricky Jay on lying and deception:

ERROL MORRIS: But do you have a problem lying?

RICKY JAY: Not only do I lie, I take real pleasure in lying, in the transmission of magic effects. It’s creative, how you do it.

(I’m currently reading Jay’s out-of-print Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women, and it’s simply one of the best books I’ve read in years.)

The Logo Evolution of Coca-Cola and Pepsi 

Armin Vit compares the evolutions of Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s branding. Count me in with Dan Cederholm — Pepsi should revert to the 1973 branding.

Rupert Murdoch Plans Charge for All News Web Sites by Next Summer 

Good luck.

Lenovo Reports $16 Million Quarterly Loss 

The AP reports:

Lenovo Group, the world’s fourth-largest personal computer maker, reported a $16 million quarterly loss Thursday amid weak global demand but said its market share grew.

Revenue was down 18 percent from the year-ago quarter. Because so much of the PC industry is engaged in a race for the bottom, “market share” is no longer much of a bragging point. The computer maker that has weathered this recession the best is Apple — the company which last year many analysts predicted would weather it the worst. They predicted Apple would be in trouble because it focuses on the high end of the market, but it’s exactly that focus that has enabled Apple to not just tread water but continue to grow.

The Other Half of the Battle 

Great t-shirt from Nerduo for fans of the old ’80s GI Joe TV series.

Update: Another take on the same gag, from Snorg Tees. (Via Chris Pepper.)

ThatWhichMatter, a Splendid Twitter Feed on Grammar and Usage 

The account is just a few days old, and already chock full of gold. E.g. this story on the hunt for the first use “Ms.”, an essay by Edgar Allen Poe on the importance of precise punctuation, and this clever neologism.

‘We’re Working on It Right Now’ 

Design Glut has a great interview with my friend Jim Coudal:

If it’s a good idea and it gets you excited, try it, and if it bursts into flames, that’s going to be exciting too. People always ask, “What is your greatest failure?” I always have the same answer — We’re working on it right now, it’s gonna be awesome!

iPhone and iPod Revenue  

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

Apple passed an important milestone last quarter that nobody on Wall Street seems to have noticed: the iPod, once Apple’s No. 1 source of revenue, fell into third place after the Mac (No. 1) and the iPhone (No. 2).

It’s not that no one noticed. It’s just old news. If you count the iPod Touch as an iPhone (given that it runs iPhone OS), the revenue comparison isn’t even close. And CFO Peter Oppenheimer mentioned it specifically:

“This is one of the original reasons we developed the iPhone and the iPod touch,” he said. “We expect our traditional MP3 players to decline over time as we cannibalize ourselves with the iPod touch and the iPhone. However, we have a great business that we believe will last for many years and which we will continue to manage well and offer the world’s most innovative products.”

Photos of the 1981 Xerox Star 8010 Interface 

Fascinating examples from one of the groundbreaking GUI systems. (Via Darren Geraghty.)

The Smoking Gun Unmasks Criminal Telephone Prank Ring 

Terrific investigative reporting from The Smoking Gun unmasks the perpetrators of a series of cruel and dangerous telephone pranks. (Via Glenn Fleishman.)

Ironic Sans: The Google Voice Speed Dial Bookmarklet Generator 

David Friedman:

I’ve put together a web app at http://www.ironicsans.com/gv that generates bookmarklets for anyone you want to call with Google Voice, allowing you to organize your contacts as Safari bookmarks. You can arrange them in folders, and then dialing from your bookmarks is as simple as dialing from your normal Contacts app: just tap to dial!

I tried it out and it works like a charm. And it’s proof that you don’t even need a native app to place Google Voice calls from your iPhone. By blocking these apps, Apple and AT&T are simply making it a bit more inconvenient to use Google Voice.

The HTML 5 Equilibrium 

Jeremy Keith:

The WHATWG process isn’t democratic. There’s no voting on issues. Instead, Hixie acts as a self-described benevolent dictator who decides what goes into and what comes out of the spec. That sounds, frankly, shocking. The idea of one person having so much power should make any right-thinking person recoil. But here’s the real kick in the teeth: it works.

HTML 5 Canvas and Audio Experiment 

Fabulous HTML 5 demo using the new canvas and audio elements (and using the aforelinked Modernizr library.)

NeXTStep Icons Still in Mac OS X Leopard 

The NeXT screenshot camera icon is still in Snow Leopard, too. Are there any others?

Modernizr 

New open source JavaScript library by Faruk Ateş that handles browser detection for cutting edge CSS 3 and HTML 5 features.

Jonathan Alter: U.S. Heathcare System Is Just Fine As-Is 

Satire cuts through the rhetoric.

Pagehand 1.0.4 

“An elegant little word processor” is the perfect slogan for this new app by Ross Carter — a $40 writing app for Mac OS X with a thoughtful UI designed to stay out of your way, with a focus on helping you produce beautiful typographic output. The native file format is PDF, so there’s no document format lock-in.

I know it sounds crazy to launch a new word processor today. But Pagehand is a labor of love, and is definitely worth a look.

What’s Your Douchebag Name? 

Uncannily accurate.

‘Going Google’ With Google Apps 

Google launches ad campaign aimed at promoting IT departments to “Go Google”. Pretty much a direct assault against Microsoft’s core business.

The Edge of Reason 

Simon Parkin has written a comprehensive story for Eurogamer on the legal battle between Mobigame, makers of the wonderful iPhone game Edge, and Timothy Langdell, a despicable trademark troll:

He offered Papazian two ways out: “One: change the name of your game to something that does not contain the word EDGE in it within the next 7 calendar days. Two: License the right to use the trademark ‘EDGE’ from us.”

But what appeared to be a straightforward offer turned out to be a more complex settlement as Langdell continued: “If you decide to take option 1, then we would need payment for your use of the trademark to the day you change the name. We propose 25 per cent of the revenues you have received from the game to the day you stop using our mark. If you decide to take option 2, then [you would need to add] a subtitle such as “EDGE: An Homage to Bobby Bearing” and to add our company name (EDGE Games Inc) immediately below yours in the opening screen.”

(What’s particularly rich is that Bobby Bearing, the game Langdell claims Mobigame’s Edge is based on, was obviously inspired by Marble Madness.)

BusyCal Public Beta 

BusyCal, the new Mac calendar app from BusyMac, is now in public beta. I’ve been using it for a week, and I can’t imagine going back to iCal. It’s just great. It’s like iCal with a much improved interface, and with BusySync’s functionality built-in. Check out BusyMac’s weblog for a series of screencasts showing the various features.

AT&T and SlingPlayer 

With regard to AT&T’s non-denial denial about whether they played any role in Apple’s removal of Google Voice apps from the App Store, recall what AT&T stated regarding the iPhone SlingPlayer app in May:

AT&T told Wired.com that a 3G-capable SlingPlayer for iPhone would violate AT&T’s terms of service. An AT&T spokesman explained that a 3G-capable SlingPlayer could potentially strain AT&T’s 3g network.

“Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network,” an AT&T spokesman said. “The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirects a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service.  We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs.”

So, sure, it’s true that “AT&T does not manage or approve applications for the App Store”. But AT&T does require that the apps Apple approves for use in the U.S. adhere to AT&T’s interpretation of their own terms of service.

Brian Tiemann on Switching 

Brian Tiemann on the friction of switching:

Canon lenses are not interchangeable with Nikon lenses, which are not interchangeable with Sony/Minolta or Panasonic or Pentax lenses. Which is why the guy who puts down $2500 on a new Canon SLR is making a pretty big brand loyalty decision, a bigger one than it seems at first when he just recommends a $250 point-and-shoot to his family. If he’s going to switch brands, he’s throwing away (or, well, Ebaying) not just $2500 worth of investment; it’s more like $10,000. And committing to making that same investment all over again with a new brand. That’s a big decision.

Operating systems are a lot more like cameras than cars in this way. You can switch from GM to Ford, or GM to BMW, without a lot of fanfare; you just buy the car and drive it home on the same roads and stick it in the same garage where you had your old car.

These are good analogies, and I think it helps explain the relative stability of PC operating system market share. What lenses are to the SLR photographer, software is to the computer user. But I think one of the many reasons why Apple has started making significant gains recently is that today there are many computer users who don’t have much attachment to Windows-specific software (or Mac-specific for that matter). They’re the equivalent of SLR owners who never buy any additional lenses other than the one that came with the camera.

So I disagree with Tiemann’s conclusion that the market is running low on potential switchers. I think “the cloud” is making more of them every day. The hitch, for Apple, is that they won’t be all that attached to the Mac (or whatever they switch to) either.

Anil Dash on Apple’s Culture of Secrecy 

Anil Dash:

Apple must transform itself and leave its history of secrecy behind, not just to continue being innovative and to protect the fundamentals of its business, but because the cost of keeping these secrets has become morally and ethically untenable.

Thoughtful criticism. I agree with Anil that Apple has an institutional problem, but I disagree over what it is. I believe that it truly is beneficial for Apple to maintain secrecy regarding future products. The problem is that Apple is secretive about everything — not only does Apple not talk about what they’re going to do, they don’t talk about what they’ve already done. The relationship between the App Store and iPhone developers is emblematic of the problem.

Secrecy is fine. Paranoia is a problem.

Happy Cog Merges With Airbag Industries 

What a team. See also: commentary from Greg Storey and Jeffrey Zeldman.

More of a Non-Denial Denial if You Ask Me 

John Paczkowski, on AT&T’s statement regarding the FCC inquiry into Apple’s rejection of Google Voice apps from the App Store:

The gist of the reply: Don’t look at us.

“AT&T does not manage or approve applications for the App Store,” the company said in a statement. “We have received the letter and will, of course, respond to it.”

A flat denial, and one that would seem to throw Apple (AAPL) under the bus for denying iPhone owners access to Google Voice.

There’s no question that this statement is intended to put the blame on Apple. But it’s not a flat denial. A flat denial would be something along the lines of “AT&T has no objection to the Google Voice apps that have been removed from the App Store, and we welcome Apple to reconsider its decision.

Google’s Schmidt Resigns From Apple’s Board 

Apple PR:

“Eric has been an excellent Board member for Apple, investing his valuable time, talent, passion and wisdom to help make Apple successful,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Unfortunately, as Google enters more of Apple’s core businesses, with Android and now Chrome OS, Eric’s effectiveness as an Apple Board member will be significantly diminished, since he will have to recuse himself from even larger portions of our meetings due to potential conflicts of interest. Therefore, we have mutually decided that now is the right time for Eric to resign his position on Apple’s Board.”

RadioShack Re-Brands as ‘The Shack’ 

As ever, The Onion was prescient.

It Never Stops 

Lovely piece by Maira Kalman on Ben Franklin:

Don’t mope in your room. Go invent something. That is the American message.

Electricity. Flight. The telephone. Television. Computers. Walking on the moon. It never stops.

Pre-Order Snow Leopard From Amazon 

Amazon is now accepting pre-orders for Snow Leopard and the Snow Leopard edition of the Mac Box Set. Order through these links and you’ll help support Daring Fireball thanks to Amazon’s affiliate program.

The Wal-Martification of Microsoft 

Good piece from Rafe Colburn. In short, you get what you pay for.

Steve Jobs, the Anti-Internet 

Dave Winer:

Steve Jobs is the anti-Internet. The Internet is utilitarian, it works, but it’s ugly. Jobs’s stuff is so beautiful that when taken to its logical conclusion, and he’s almost there now, it’s so dazzling, so beautiful that you fail to see that it is also useless.

Splendid NYT Infographic on Music Sales 

Interesting and informative graph comparing the sales of music in various formats over time. (The graphic accompanies this column by Charles Blow on the music industry.)

FCC Opens Inquiry of Apple’s Ban of Google Voice Apps for iPhone 

Fawn Johnson and Amy Schatz, reporting for Dow Jones:

The Federal Communications Commission has launched an inquiry into why Apple Inc. rejected Google Inc.’s Internet-telephony software for the popular iPhone, another sign of the Obama administration’s stepped-up scrutiny of competitive practices in the technology industry.

In letters sent late Friday to the two companies and AT&T Inc., the FCC asked why Apple rejected the Google Voice application for the iPhone and removed related applications from its App Store. The letter also seeks information on how AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, was consulted in the decision, if at all.

The FCC’s letter to Apple (PDF) asks very pointed questions about what, if any, AT&T played in this decision, and asks Apple, “What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications?”

This should be good.

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