Linked List: December 2009

Microsoft’s Secret Lingo 

Joel Spolsky on a bizarre jargon-filled job description from Microsoft:

The whole reason Microsoft even needs a v-team of 13, um, “V DASHES” to compete against Open Office is that they’ve become so insular that their job postings are full of incomprehensible jargon and acronyms which nobody outside the company can understand.

Update: Here’s the full job listing. The whole thing is even worse than the bit Spolsky quotes.

Bruce Schneier on Aviation Security 

Bruce Schneier:

Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country’s way of life; it’s only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage. The more we undermine our own laws, the more we convert our buildings into fortresses, the more we reduce the freedoms and liberties at the foundation of our societies, the more we’re doing the terrorists’ job for them.

My thoughts exactly.

One Vaporware $100 Computer Per Child 

Michael Gartenberg on One Laptop Per Child’s newly-stated plans to switch from a traditional clamshell laptop to a touchscreen tablet:

Like the mythical predecessors that came before it, the new device is said to have an 8.5 × 11 inch touch screen made by Pixel Qi with an indoor/outdoor display, use inductive charging (like the Palm Pre), will be waterproof and cost no more than $100. Of course, you can’t buy or order one as they’re targeting 2012 for the ship date. I’ve been asked by a few folks how the OLPC project could manage this with their current specifications and the answer is simple: they won’t be able to.

Gizmodo: Nexus One Will Sell for $530 Unlocked, $180 With T-Mobile Contract 

Not ridiculous, but certainly not cheap, either. There’s still no Android equivalent of the $199 iPod Touch.

Java Programmer Rob Williams on Learning Cocoa Touch 

Interesting perspective:

BTW, in the course of scoping this out, I got to mess around with CoreData a little. This is another classic example of Apple wares: looks like a tinkertoy at first blush, comes with a tinkertoy tool (the data modeler in Xcode), but in fact, it’s pretty awesome.

FreeHand vs. Illustrator 

The only designers I know who preferred Illustrator were those who never really learned FreeHand. It says here that FreeHand is the greatest app that ever died.

Update: I’m getting an earful from those who prefer Illustrator, including this gem from a friend: “Never was there a happier moment in software than when FreeHand bought the farm. Fucking FreeHand. It can kiss my ass.” In a nut, I think it’s safe to say that Illustrator was aptly named, insofar as it seems to be preferred by those who draw. I was just a layout guy, hence, perhaps, my strong preference for FreeHand.

Safety Light 

If you’re going to make an iPhone flashlight app, you might as well make it the best one.

Google Announces January 5 Android Press Event 

Presumably to announce the Nexus One.

Anthony Mangieri, Pizza Perfectionist 

I never tire of listening to obsessive perfectionists, no matter the topic. (Via Gus Mueller.)

Wolf Rentzsch’s BusyCal 1.1 Review 

I agree with every word.

Claim Chowder: AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega’s Promise of iPhone Tethering in 2009 

Well, so much for that. As Rentzsch says, “it’s a mistake to put ‘hope’ and ‘AT&T’ in the same sentence.”

The Long Tail of Humor 

Buzz Andersen on the difference between Tweeteorites and other Twitter favorite aggregators:

As I’ve used it, I’ve found I like Tweeteorites better than the Favrd leaderboard for the same reason I like Foursquare but not Yelp; or the reason I like the Last.fm page that shows what my friends are listening to, but not actual music recommendations; or the reason I like my Delicious network or Tumblr dashboard but not Digg. The latter services are usually only reliable ways to find the broadest possible stuff, because things have to appeal to the masses to bubble up to the top. The former services, however, show me what individual people whose opinion I respect think is cool simply by allowing me to observe them appreciating.

Using Email Aliases in Apple Mail 

I did not know this: You can set up a single account in Apple Mail with multiple “alias” email addresses.

Update: Works the same way on the iPhone.

Irony Explosion, Indeed 

Check out the second YouTube comment on the winning video in the “make a commercial for Psystar” contest — the guy who made the video now “despises” Psystar. (Via Cabel Sasser.)

‘Nation’s Pride’ 

Six-minute version of the fictional Nazi propaganda film from Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, directed by Eli Roth.

Which movie (i.e. Inglourious Basterds), I’ll add, I finally got around to seeing this week. Watched it twice already. So good. Seemed to get decent reviews when it was released, but I found it remarkably entertaining. Mark me down as a big Tarantino fan in general, but I’d score Inglourious Basterds as his best film since Pulp Fiction.

DashNote 

Free Dashboard widget from Resen: a Simplenote client. Works great. (Via Minimal Mac.)

Nate Silver on the Odds of Airborne Terror 

Nate Silver:

You could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

AT&T No Longer Selling iPhones in NYC? 

Hard to believe it’s come to this.

Apple’s Trademark and Domain Registrations for ‘iSlate’ 

Nice scoop by MacRumors: Apple registered for the islate.com domain name and filed for a trademark on iSlate, through a shell corporation named Slate Computing.

I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions that this is the name of any actual upcoming product, though. I assume that Apple has secured the rights to dozens of various iWhatever names. Very much like how many (maybe even most) of Apple’s patent filings aren’t necessarily related to any actual products. Also, these iSlate filings are relatively old, dating back to 2006 and early 2007. It is certainly possible that Steve Jobs latched onto a name over three years before the product was finished, but that would be highly unusual.

John Hughes’s “Christmas ’59” 

Merry Christmas.

RipIt 

RipIt is my favorite Mac DVD ripping software; my thanks to The Little App Factory for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote it. RipIt is simple, stylish, and just works. I’m not the only one who loves it — RipIt was just awarded a 2009 Editors’ Choice Award from Macworld.

Even better: Daring Fireball readers can save 25 percent off RipIt’s regular price using coupon code “DARINGFIRE2009”.

Make Your Mockup in Markup 

Meagan Fisher on designing web sites live, in the browser, rather than as image-based mockups in Photoshop.

Photoshop CS5 and Command-H 

Nice bit of Mac OS X-ification.

Jason Chen’s Hands-On Review of a Google Nexus One 

Jason Chen says it’s significantly faster than the Droid:

When comparing the three phones in loading a webpage over Wi-Fi, the Nexus One loaded first, the iPhone 3GS came in a few seconds later, and the Droid came in a little while after that. This was constant throughout many webpage loads, so it’s indicative of something going on inside with the hardware.

I ran all three through a Javascript benchmark engine for some quantifiable numbers, and while the results were similar between the Nexus One and the iPhone 3GS, the Droid still came up at about 60% of the other two. Surprisingly enough, Mobile Safari on the iPhone scored better on the Javascript benches than the Nexus did, even though the Nexus was able to pull down and render actual web pages faster.

Update: And Engadget claims to have the full tech specs, along with this:

Unfortunately, it sounds like you’re going to need to cross your fingers (or pull out that eBay emergency stash) to get one out of the gate, because we’ve got some intel here suggesting that it’ll be available only by “invitation” at first. Our tipster doesn’t have information on how those invites are going to be determined, other than the fact that it’s Google doing the inviting.

The Future: When the Editors Hire the Publishers 

Choire Sicha on the inversion of authority exemplified by Joshua Marshall’s TPM Media:

My friend’s point was: here is an editor, who built and owns his publication, who is now going to be the editor-owner, who will employ the publisher. For those of you who have worked at any sort of publication, the implications of this are staggering.

Lehrer’s Rules 

Jim Lehrer’s approach to journalism. Hard to find anything to quibble about in the list.

Information Is Beautiful: Climate Change Skeptics vs. The Scientific Consensus 

Copiously researched and fairly presented.

Google’s ‘Meaning of Open’ 

Google senior vice president Jonathan Rosenberg published a long memo “about the meaning of ‘open’ as it relates to the Internet, Google, and [Google’s] users.”

It’s the biggest pile of horseshit I’ve ever seen from Google.

Basically, he’s spewed 4,000 words to say that “open” is always good and always wins, Google is always open, therefore Google is always good and will always win. And please don’t worry your pretty little minds about things like Google’s search or ad algorithms or the specific details of how its data centers work, all of which things Google could not possibly be more secretive about. Because if you think about these things, you’ll see that Google isn’t open at all about certain financially lucrative areas where it has built huge technical advantages over its competitors, and that’s not possible, because Google is always open.

I really hope for Google’s sake that this horseshit artist Rosenberg is not representative of their executive ranks. Also: open is an adjective; the noun form in this context is openness.

Craig Mod’s Lumix GF1 Field Test: Video 

A follow-up to Mod’s astounding travelogue-cum-camera-review, detailing the Panasonic GF1’s video capabilities.

Auto-Buffering Video in Firefox 

Christopher Blizzard of Mozilla:

Safari and Chrome do apparently autobuffer by default, but he incorrectly says that Firefox does as well. Just to be clear: Firefox does not autobuffer by default, nor does it autoplay by default. I’m not sure how his testing led him to believe that it does, but I wrote up some examples to show that it does not.

I’m not sure how my testing led me to believe that Firefox auto-buffers by default, either. But looking at his test pages using Firefox now, it’s clear that I was wrong. Firefox honors the autobuffer attribute, unlike Safari and Chrome. I very much regret the error, and have revised the original article accordingly.

Why ‘Duke Nukem Forever’ Took Forever 

Clive Thompson on the story behind the greatest vaporware in video game history:

It’s a dilemma all artists confront, of course. When do you stop creating and send your work out to face the public? Plenty of Hollywood directors have delayed for months, dithering in the editing room. But in videogames, the problem is particularly acute, because the longer you delay, the more genuinely antiquated your product begins to look — and the more likely it is that you’ll need to rip things down and start again. All game designers know this, so they pick a point to stop improving — to “lock the game down” — and then spend a frantic year polishing. But Broussard never seemed willing to do that.

Blue Moon 

Panic’s Dave Hayden on the history of calendars.

The Known Universe 

Neat movie from the American Museum of Natural History: zooms out from the Himalayas in Tibet to the entirety of the known universe.

Best Sign Yet That AT&T’s Days as Exclusive iPhone Carrier Are Numbered 

iPhone call reliability has become a punchline.

Andy Ihnatko’s E-Book Reader Gift Recommendations 

His top three: Sony Reader Pocket Edition, Amazon Kindle 2, and the iPod Touch.

Psystar Shuts Down 

So much for this beingfar from over”.

Update: Psystar attorney (paraphrased): “It’s just a flesh wound!”

Browser Pong 

Just what it says on the tin.

70-Minute Video Review of ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’ 

I know, a 70-minute long video review of The Phantom Menace sounds nutty. And, when you start the first segment, you’re going to be tempted to close the tab when you hear the guy’s voice. But trust me, stick with it, it’s worth it. Amusing and genuinely astute regarding the differences between the two trilogies.

Verizon’s Solution to Loose Droid Battery Covers 

A sticker.

Keyboard Maestro 4.0 

People sometimes ask me whether I have any — for lack of a better term — secret weapon software to recommend. Utility apps like, say, LaunchBar or Quicksilver (on that one, I’ve been in the LaunchBar camp for a few years). The sort of apps Batman would keep in his utility belt if his utility belt were a metaphor-stretched Macintosh.

Keyboard Maestro is such an app. It’s several utilities in one: a powerful macro program, a clipboard history manager, a hot key manager, a keyboard switcher, and more. Version 4 is a great update, including a complete overhaul of my very favorite Keyboard Maestro feature, the clipboard history, and an all-new Automator-esque UI for the macro editor. Keyboard Maestro is copiously documented and comes from one of the longest-standing and most-respected indie Mac developers, Peter Lewis’s Stairways Software. I recommend it highly.

BusinessWeek: ‘Verizon Wireless Prepares for the iPhone’ 

Don’t get all excited — the story is about Verizon Wireless CTO Anthony Melone claiming that Verizon could handle the traffic, not any sort of announcement of a deal with Apple. But it’s interesting nonetheless:

Melone credits the company’s reputation to a focus on high network standards backed by consistent investments and a sophisticated troubleshooting program. Over the last three years, the company has invested nearly $19 billion in its wireless network, or about $6.3 billion a year. “It comes down to backing that process with money,” says Melone. “We’ve been more consistent than any carrier in the last 10 years investing year over year.”

Here’s a [graph comparing Verizon’s and AT&T’s capital expenditures as a percentage of operating income][g]. Verizon has done things like build out a FIOS network, too, but it seems hard to dispute that Verizon spends more on its network infrastructure than AT&T.

Update: Dumb mistake on my part: Verizon Wireless is not Verizon, so this chart is not a useful comparison. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone, split 55-45 between the two.

Regarding Kindle Sales 

Tom Johansmeyer at BloggingStocks:

It wouldn’t reveal the number, but Amazon did announce that it realized record sales for its Kindle e-reader this month. And, there’s still the rest of the month to go, including the run-up to Christmas. Just as the battle for e-reader market share began to flare up, it already seems to be over.

Seems a little early to call this race, especially since Amazon has never revealed Kindle sales numbers.

Google on Their Iterative Improvements to Gmail Mobile Web App 

Alex Nicolaou of Google:

As of today, and thanks to numerous optimizations, I’m happy to report that Gmail for mobile loads 2-3x faster than it did in April. In fact on newer iPhone and Android devices, the app now loads in under 3 seconds. So yes, the mobile web can deliver really responsive applications.

Google’s mobile Gmail app is a fine example of a well-made and popular mobile web app — more mobile-WebKit-optimized than iPhone-optimized, insofar as it’s designed to turn equally well on both iPhone OS and Android. But it’s another one where it clearly isn’t as polished UI-wise as a native iPhone app. Its toolbar is a real hack — scrolling as you scroll the page, and then moving itself to the top of the screen when you finish scrolling.

iPhone Has 46 Percent of Japanese Smartphone Market 

These numbers must be wrong. Wired’s Brian X. Chen explained to us back in February how the iPhone wasn’t good enough to meet the high standards of the Japanese.

Craig Mod: 16 Days in the Himalayas With a Panasonic Lumix GF1 

I love this: a photo essay and camera review together in one piece. Truly remarkable. Regarding the advantages of small viewfinder-less cameras, Mod writes:

About halfway through the trip I realized something strange was happening — the people I photographed were looking me in the eyes. Indeed, they could see my eyes! I had spent so long traveling with a DSLR strapped to my face that I had forgotten about true eye contact.

For better or worse, a camera without a viewfinder is less intimidating. You are no longer half-human half-camera. You’re all human with a tiny play thing in your hand.

So true.

Palm’s Project Ares 

Palm launches public beta of their IDE for writing Mojo apps for WebOS. The whole thing is browser based — works in Safari, Chrome, and Firefox — and looks pretty slick.

Disappointing Quarter From Palm 

It’s safe to say at this point that the Pre, although not a dud, is not a hit. And Palm needs a hit.

Strong Quarter From RIM 

And strong guidance for next quarter.

Apparent Software’s Problems With PayPal 

Horrendous.

More From Fake Steve on AT&T 

More Dan Lyons than “Fake Steve” in this one:

But at some point, and I think it will be soon, the network operators will have to compete, for real, based on quality of service.

The fact that AT&T is already bonking, here in the first five minutes of a 60-minute game, is terrifying. It’s their own fault, of course. Go look at their financial statements and open up the Financial Operations and Statistics Summary and look at capital expenditures over the past eight quarters. I’m no math whiz, but it looks like capex has gone down by about 30% over the time period. Scroll down a bit to the Wireless section and check out data revenues — they’re up 80% over the same period.

There’s simply no excuse for the quality of service AT&T is providing.

Chromium Bug Report: Close Tab Button on the Wrong Side 

Google’s Nicholas Jitkoff on the placement of Chrome’s tab’s close buttons on Mac OS X:

We have decided to keep the close boxes on the right to avoid having them compete with favicons.

Safari doesn’t include per-tab favicons, so there’s no reference design from Apple. I say put the favicon on the left, and have it (the favicon) change into a close button when the mouse hovers over the tab. (Adium does this, but with IM status indicators rather than favicons.) Safari already only shows the tab close buttons when you hover. Update: iChat puts its close-this-chat buttons on the right, but iChat doesn’t have tabs — it has a sidebar list.

There Is No Page Fold 

True. (Via Sam Soffes.)

The Bygone Bureau’s Best New Blogs of 2009 

A slew of great new sites.

Give Me Back My Google 

Re: today’s prior link on crummy Google search results, Give Me Back My Google is a front end to Google web search by Oliver Humpage that filters out affiliate link and product comparison sites from the results. (Via Kevin Maguire.)

Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea 

My thanks to Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their damn fine tea. They’ve got high standards, eschewing the shotgun approach and instead offering just a few limited-edition varieties of tea at a time. And they have wonderful, stylish branding and packaging to match their high-quality product. Order now for a last-minute holiday gift idea.

Paul Kedrosky:

Over the weekend I tried to buy a new dishwasher. Being the fine net-friendly fellow that I am, I began Google-ing for information. And Google-ing. and Google-ing. As I tweeted frustratedly at the end of the failed exercise, “To a first approximation, the entire web is spam when it comes to appliance reviews”.

I’ve noticed this too, for numerous competitive areas of consumer products. And Google’s conflict of interest is clear: all of the spammy pages clogging the results for such searches display AdWords or other keyword-based advertising. What would solve the problem — but Google is unlikely ever to offer — is an option to show results only from pages that don’t have keyword-based ads.

Counternotions: ‘Google’s Mad Dash to Microsoftdom’ 

Kontra on just how Microsoftian Google is starting to look from a strategic standpoint. He makes a good point about the potential for the Nexus One to piss off existing Android licensees — it could drive them back into the arms of Microsoft and Windows Mobile, even though Windows Mobile was the stated rival of Android at the outset.

What’s happened, of course, is that in the two years since Android was announced Windows Mobile has collapsed and the iPhone is on a meteoric rise.

Zune HD Twitter Client: Shitty Performance, Censors Swear Words 

What a joke.

Iron Man 2 Trailer 

They had me at Garry Shandling.

Regret the Error’s 2009 Year in Media Errors and Corrections 

One of my very favorite year-end list traditions. (Via Jim Coudal, who spotted one of the best.)

CatPaint: Top Selling App in the iTunes App Store 

Well, in Vietnam. Interesting to see how little action there is in the Vietnamese store.

Shop at Amazon and Support Daring Fireball 

We’re all running out of time here on holiday shopping season. Do your last-week shopping after clicking this link and I’ll get a nice kickback. Remember: mindless consumerism is the reason for the season.

Microsoft Acknowledges MSN China Copies Code and Features From Plurk 

Microsoft:

We are obviously very disappointed, but we assume responsibility for this situation. We apologize to Plurk and we will be reaching out to them directly to explain what happened and the steps we have taken to resolve the situation.

Android Market Only Open to Developers in Five Countries 

Swedish mobile developer wants to sell apps in the Android Market but can’t, because you can’t create a Google merchant account in Sweden.

Dan Bricklin’s Note Taker 

Speaking of new iPhone apps by famous creators, Dan Bricklin — who invented the spreadsheet in the early ’80s — has an iPhone app called Note Taker. Instead of typing, you write on screen as though your finger is a stylus. In practice, it’s even crazier than it sounds. It doesn’t attempt to translate your handwriting to actual text (à la the Newton) — you just get an image of your handwriting. It’s downright wacky — I can’t imagine how this is faster for anyone than using the on-screen keyboard.

Lou Zoom 

Large-type front-end to the iPhone contact database. Designed by Lou Reed. Yeah, that Lou Reed.

Update: Fireballed; here’s a link to it in the App Store if you can’t get his site to load. And so yes, today’s the day I knocked over Lou Reed’s web site.

Pastebot 

New iPhone app from the guys at Tapbots: a clipboard manager for stored images and snippets of text. Done with the usual Tapbots visual (and audio) panache. And the really cool thing: they have a Mac counterpart that lets you transfer your clipboard contents from the Mac to iPhone and vice versa. Slick. $2 cheap.

Free Speech 

David Pogue on the remarkable Dragon Dictation app for iPhone, and the brouhaha over its privacy implications:

I mean, if you’re gonna be paranoid, at least be rational about it.

Change Blindness 

Freaky.

Googling for Sociopaths 

Aaron Swartz:

Google gets a lot of criticism (often deserved), but it’s worth taking a moment to think of all the things they haven’t done. If Microsoft had Google’s market share in search, is there any doubt that they’d be systematically demoting or even banning their competitors in the search results? Demoting someone in Google is a virtual death sentence, and yet not only has Google never been accused of using this vast power, the idea itself is almost unimaginable.

Darby Lines on the Tech Media’s Obsession With ‘X Is a Y-Killer’ Storylines 

Darby Lines:

Has anyone ever seriously made a comment such as “The new Vizio HDTV is totally a Panasonic killer”? No, they haven’t and if they did they would be laughed at. But somehow, if a device connects to a computer then we’re living under Highlander rules.

Any story that talks about some new phone being an “iPhone killer” is almost certainly a story you don’t need to read.

Microsoft China Rips Off Plurk 

Looks like they didn’t just copy the design, but even re-used Plurk’s JavaScript code. (According to Plurk, their service is ten times more popular than Twitter in Taiwan.)

Free iTunes LP Holiday Sampler 

Totally free, no strings attached, holiday album in iTunes LP format. Update: U.S.-only, alas.

Engadget Has More Photos of the Nexus One 

Here are my top two questions:

  1. What’s it going to cost?
  2. What does Andy Rubin have to say now regarding his comments just six weeks ago that Google wouldn’t be making its own Android phone?
3G Network Speed Is Not the Issue 

Good point by Pete Mortensen regarding Randall Stross’s AT&T puff piece in the NYT:

What’s most remarkable to me about all of this is how obviously manipulated the statistics are to make AT&T look better than Verizon. In one instance, Paul Carter of Global Wireless Solutions (which works for AT&T) notes that AT&T’s network throughput is “40 to 50 percent higher than the competition, including Verizon.” Sure, but no one denies that the maximum speed of AT&T 3G isn’t faster than CDMA. They complain that AT&T often lacks coverage of any kind, drops calls, and slips into EDGE for no apparent reason.

I missed this, but Mortensen’s exactly right. AT&T 3G is without question faster than Verizon’s — when you get a 3G connection. The problem is that you often don’t get a connection, or you do and then it drops. It’s like bragging about how fast your car is even though it’s often in the repair shop.

Gaming the System 

Rands on how games appeal to the nerd mind.

Grain Edit Interviews ISO50 Designer Scott Hansen 

Scott Hansen:

Balance isn’t a word I’d ever use to describe any aspect of my life. When it comes to work, everything is in extremes for me, it’s all or nothing most of the time.

Love this guy’s work. Love.

Photo of Google’s Nexus One 

Looks good. Note the lack of HTC branding. I’m unconvinced on the utility of trackball on a touchscreen device, but I’m willing to try it. The big advantage over the Droid: no hardware keyboard.

WSJ: ‘Google to Start Selling Own Phone Without Wireless Partner by Next Year’ 

Jessica E. Vascellaro, reporting for The Wall Street Journal (link to get behind the WSJ paywall):

Google Inc. has designed a cellphone it plans to sell directly to consumers as soon as next year, according to people familiar with the matter. The phone is called the Nexus One and is being manufactured for Google by HTC Corp., these people said. It runs Android, the operating system for mobile phones that Google developed, they added. […]

The Internet giant is taking a new, and potentially risky, approach to selling the device. Rather than selling the phone through a wireless carrier — the way the bulk of phones are sold in the U.S. today — Google plans to sell the Nexus One itself online. Users will have to buy cellular service for the device separately.

No word on pricing. As for the risks:

The move could alienate wireless carriers and handset makers that offer Android phones and do not want to compete with Google.

I’ll bet Motorola and Verizon are delighted.

‘The Tortoise Lays on Its Back, Its Belly Baking in the Hot Sun, Beating Its Legs Trying to Turn Itself Over, but It Can’t, Not Without Your Help. But You’re Not Helping. Why Is That?’ 

So the new Google Phone identifies itself as “Nexus One” in its user agent string. Nexus is the brand name of the series of androids (a.k.a. replicants) in Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. The story concerns escaped Nexus-6 models; in the movie, you-know-who is a prototype Nexus-7.

Update: Sony calls their custom Android UI “Nexus”.

Google Coyly Acknowledges New Android Phones Given to Employees 

Google product management VP Mario Queiroz:

We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe.

Google Hands Out Unlocked Android 2.1 ‘Google Phones’ to Some Employees 

No idea about the tech specs or what it looks like yet, but the Googlers tweeting about it claim it’s beautiful. I’ve started getting hits to Daring Fireball with this user agent string, which I believe is this “Google Phone”:

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.1; en-us; Nexus One Build/ERD56C) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17

With a few other slightly different build numbers mixed in. “ERD71F” is apparently the latest.

Also no idea when, how, or even if Google plans to sell this device to the public, and if so, whether the public model will be carrier unlocked. And credit where credit is due: my money says Arrington is going to be proven right on this one. I suppose this Google Phone can be squared with Andy Rubin’s comments at the end of October. Rubin shot down rumors of a Google-branded phone by saying, “We’re not making hardware. We’re enabling other people to build hardware.” You could parse that as being true, insofar as that the phone is apparently made by HTC.

Roger Ebert Gives ‘Avatar’ Four Stars 

Feel free to turn your Expectations dial up a few clicks:

It takes a hell of a lot of nerve for a man to stand up at the Oscarcast and proclaim himself King of the World. James Cameron just got re-elected.

VMware Fusion 3 

My thanks to VMware Fusion 3.0 for again sponsoring the DF RSS feed.

I still remember the PowerPC days, running Windows on my Mac via VirtualPC for web browser testing — amazed that it worked, but cursing the wretched performance. The ability to run native x86 virtualized OSes is perhaps the best single result of Apple’s switch to Intel processors. If you need to run Windows apps on your Mac, VMware Fusion is without question the best way to do it. Fantastic performance and a great Mac interface.

Just $79.99 for a new license, and just $39.99 to upgrade to 3.0 from a previous version.

Last Chance for This Batch of DF T-Shirts 

Today’s your last chance to order a DF t-shirt for this go-around. We’ll be printing new shirts to cover all the orders from this week over the weekend, so if you want one, be sure to get your order in tonight.

These shirts are top-notch, and could win an award for Best T-Shirt Representing the Brand of a Weblog, if there were such an award and if I were the sort of person who entered such contents. There isn’t and I’m not, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t look good in these shirts, because you would.

Update: Now closed. Thanks to everyone who bought one.

Widespread AT&T Outages in San Francisco 

Related to the last item.

Fake Steve’s Not-So-Brief Chat With AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson 

Exactly.

Matt Haughey Is Selling PVRblog.com on eBay 

No reserve price, either. 180,000 RSS feed subscribers, according to Feedburner. Can’t wait to see what it goes for. Update: PVRblog was literally an AdSense case study.

2009 Eddy Award Winning Apps 

Great choices from Macworld for the year’s best software: BusyCal, Bento, Dropbox, Things, PDFPen, ClickToFlash, Braid, RipIt, Logic Express, Acorn, Picasa, Painter, and FontExplorer X.

‘I Am Locking the Wikipedia Article on Our Sex Life’ 

Alan Trotter at McSweeney’s. (Via Coudal.)

Dan Frakes’s 2009 Mac Gems of the Year 

I use a bunch of these.

T-Mobile Users Can Bill Android Market Purchases to Their Phone Bill 

Also via Tim Bray, and I agree with him: this could be a big deal.

Bada Development Fundamentals (PDF) 

Developer introduction to Samsung’s upcoming proprietary mobile OS. C++, not Java. I can’t remember the last new consumer-facing system I’ve seen using C++ as the default language. (Via Tim Bray.)

Update: I forgot about the game consoles: Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii all have C++ APIs as their default.

Arrington’s Bad JooJoo 

Mosspuppet on the Arrington/Crunchpad/JooJoo saga.

Apple Relaxing App Store Policy Regarding Use of Private APIs? 

At least one developer got a note from the review team calling out a private API call, but the app was accepted and they asked for the private API call to be removed in the next update.

I think it’d be a huge mistake to assume this means private API calls are now allowed, but flexibility is a good thing.

Update: Here’s another one.

Apple Says Nokia Wanted Cross-License for Apple iPhone Patents 

Engadget’s Nilay Patel is reading Apple’s filing, and I think he’s found the heart of the disagreement:

Apple says Nokia’s patents aren’t actually essential to GSM / UMTS, denies infringing them, and says they’re invalid and / or unenforceable anyway. Apple also says Nokia wanted unreasonable license terms for the patents, including a cross-license for Apple’s various iPhone device patents as part of any deal, which Apple clearly wasn’t willing to do.

The big question about this dispute all along has been why Apple didn’t just license Nokia’s GSM/UMTS patents. Supposedly every other GSM phone maker (or at least all the other major ones) does, and they’re relatively cheap. The answer is that Nokia didn’t just want licensing fees from Apple: they wanted cross-license rights to Apple’s own iPhone patents.

Full Text of Apple’s Counterclaim Against Nokia 

John Paczkowski has the full text of Apple’s filing, including a list of the patents Apple claims Nokia is infringing.

Apple Files Countersuit Against Nokia 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple on Friday said it had launched a countersuit against the world’s largest cellphone maker, Nokia.

According to Apple, Nokia is infringing on 13 of its patents. Apple’s lawyer was very blunt in his statement concerning the case.

“Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours,” said Bruce Sewell, Apple’s General Counsel and senior vice president.

I wouldn’t want to fuck with Apple Legal.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorship 

Lately, the weekly DF RSS feed sponsorships have been sold out 10 or more weeks in advance. If you don’t want to wait that long, you’re in luck: some last-minute scheduling changes have opened up the next two weeks. If you have a product or service that you’d like to promote to Daring Fireball readers, get in touch.

Update Now sold out through the end of February.

Airlock 

New $7.77 utility for Mac OS X — uses Bluetooth to detect when your iPhone or iPod Touch is nearby, and locks/unlocks your Mac accordingly. Clever. (Via Joseph McLaughlin.)

The Invisible: ‘A Piece With a Lot of Screenshots About the Close Tab Behaviour in Google Chrome’ 

Excellent, detailed analysis by Basil Safwat regarding some very clever UI design in Chrome’s tab-closing behavior.

(But he’s wrong that it excuses putting the close buttons on the right. It’s a grammar thing — in the Mac UI grammar, close buttons go on the left. Even if you buy Safwat’s “least-funky behavior” argument, I’d argue that Chrome’s clever (but subtle!) tab-resizing-on-close behavior is far less funky than putting close buttons on the right side of a Mac app. I think Google put them on the right simply to stay consistent with its Windows, Linux, and Chrome OS variants — putting cross-platform consistency over Mac OS consistency. Update: And “Firefox does it too” is not a ringing endorsement for good Mac UI design. Firefox is a poster child for crummy fake-Mac-UI cross-platform ports.)

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 

“Hang on to your wigs and keys.”

Editor & Publisher Folds 

Speaking of the collapse of the newspaper industry.

Curious iPhone App of the Week (iTunes Store Link) 

“Google Wave” — a $1 iPhone app from developer David Crampton that seems to be nothing more than a web view that loads Google’s Wave web site.

Amazon Offering Free On-Demand Movies With Purchase of Blu-ray or DVD 

Interesting offer from Amazon:

When you purchase select DVD and Blu-ray titles from Amazon.com you will also receive an Amazon Video On Demand standard definition version as a gift with purchase. You’ll be able to instantly enjoy the video on demand version on your Mac, PC, compatible device or compatible TV when it is available.

But if you’re buying a Blu-ray disc, why would you want to watch a standard-def On Demand version?

David Pogue on the Nook 

Bleh.

Walt Mossberg on the Nook 

Eh.

Jeff Richardson on Dragon Dictation for iPhone 

Jeff Richardson:

Simply dictate a message to your iPhone and, almost instantly, your voice is transcribed with amazing accuracy. With one tap you can send the transcription to an e-mail. You can dictate a message to your iPhone a heck of a lot faster than you can tap a message on the iPhone keyboard, even if you are a good iPhone typist, so with Dragon Dictation you can save a lot of time writing messages or other text. And for a limited time, this amazing app is free. All I can say is, wow.

The app truly is impressive — it’s both faster and more accurate than I imagined possible.

Gorillacam 

Free iPhone camera app from Joby (makers of the excellent Gorillapods), adds things like a level indicator, time-lapse, and a self-timer. I wish the built-in Camera app had a level indicator.

TeuxDeux 

Clever, simple, date-based online to-do app from Swissmiss and FictiveKin.

‘Twilight of the American Newspaper’ 

Elegiac essay in Harper’s by Richard Rodriguez. (Via Dean Allen.)

Nokia Confirms New York and Chicago Flagship Stores Are Closing in Early 2010 

Same deal with the London store — big expensive stores that failed to generate sales. Chris Ziegler at Engadget writes:

The way we saw it, these stores were never about sales; they were about exposing Nokia to the public and vice versa in a cool, hip environment, and regardless of how you feel about the company’s handsets, they’d effectively accomplished that with the flagship strategy.

What kind of store is not about sales? That’s like saying you’ve got a pen that isn’t about writing.

Great Writer, Great Machine 

Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 32 he purchased at a pawn shop for $50 in 1963, sells at auction for $254,500:

“It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose. … I have typed on this typewriter every book I have written including three not published. Including all drafts and correspondence I would put this at about five million words over a period of 50 years.”

The proceeds are going to the Santa Fe Institute, “a nonprofit interdisciplinary scientific research organization”. And so what will McCarthy write with now? Another Olivetti Lettera 32 in new condition.

(Via The New Yorker.)

Walt Disney’s 1943 Creative Organization Chart 

Change the department names, “story” to “experience”, and s/Walt/Steve/, and this could apply to Apple today. (Via Curved White, a wonderful new design site which you should just go ahead and subscribe to so I don’t have to link up everything they post.)

Update: Here’s a copy of the org chart itself.

Journalists Told Not to Use or Mention Apple Products at Windows Mobile Event in Germany 

Childish, if true. Here’s the original story in German; would love to get a translation from a German-speaking DF reader.

Update: Here’s a translation from a DF reader:

“This is a Microsoft event” a manager harshly rebuked a journalist. “Apple products have no business being here.” And in the following silence, as some bashful laughter threatened to emerge, he added: “I’m serious about it!”.

The offense: Over dinner, the reporter mentioned — casually — that there has never been an easier-to-use smartphone than the iPhone. And this was an event meant to promote Windows Mobile 6.5.

“I was shocked about the emotionality” one of the present journalists exclaimed. “Apparently the company is under a lot of pressure”.

A little different than forbidding them from being used.

Also, in the original article in the Handelsblatt (a major German business daily), it’s ambiguous whether the “manager” in question was from Microsoft or from Samsung, but I think the best bet is Samsung.

What Is Google Voice? 

Chris Pepper on Google Voice for Macworld.

Ommwriter 

Artistic musical take on the idea of a full-screen text editor. Currently in beta, and requires you to send them your email address to download.

Jonathan Dobres Copy-Edits Rob Enderle 

Seems like a sin to change a word of the man’s rather distinctive prose style.

Nial Giacomelli on His Showtime iPhone Web App 

Nial Giacomelli:

The final point I’d like to make revolves around the fact that web app development has allowed me to avoid the App Store in its entirety. As a result, Showtime updates can be deployed in seconds, allowing me to accurately gauge user reactions. An experience which, rather paradoxically, native app developers (who pay for the privilege) sadly seem to miss out on.

That’s the trade-off, to be sure.

Showtime looked good when I first saw it a few weeks ago, and it looks even better today. It looks like a great native iPhone app. It just doesn’t feel like one, and scrolling is the main reason. I also believe that iPhone web app developers need to be careful about creating controls that look like native iPhone controls, but act different. Showtime uses On/Off toggle buttons that look just like the native ones, but the fake web ones can only be activated by tapping them. The real ones can be both tapped and slid. And my observations suggest most iPhone users slide them (including Phil Schiller in an on stage demo). If you have to tap them, better to use checkboxes, I say.

Rob Enderle: ‘Why JooJoo May Critically Savage the Apple Tablet’ 

Further proof that Enderle’s idiot shtick is an act. I mean, come on, no one really believes that the JooJoo is going to affect Apple even one iota, right?

Daring Fireball T-Shirts, Available This Week Only 

I’ve re-opened the DF t-shirt store with the classic logo tee, as well as the inverted-color silver one. There are a few dozen shirts from the last run still in stock, and next week we’ll print a new batch to cover the remaining orders. Most orders won’t ship until next week, so orders shipped within the U.S. should make it in time for Christmas, but international orders should not count on it. (Even Canada, alas — Canadian customs takes a few days.)

Also, if you order, please be sure to double-check your shipping address when you check out at PayPal. A lot of people have old addresses tied to their PayPal accounts.

‘We Own the Hell Out of That Bell’ 

Mike Monteiro on the Liberty Bell as an icon for Philadelphia, which Brand New’s Kosal Sen called “uninspired and obvious” in an aforelinked piece today:

The issue here is on Mr. Sen’s use of ‘uninspiring and obvious.’ By which I believe Mr. Sen means it was not a ‘clever’ choice. And I’d agree with that. It’s not clever, but neither does it have to be. The goal of design is to nail the problem, not showcase the cleverness of the designer. There are times when the solution to the problem is such a ridiculous slam dunk that cleverness only gets in the way of good work.

The problem with the new Philadelphia brand isn’t the bell. It’s the crap execution.

Seeking out the best solution, even if obvious, rather than the solution that makes the designer look the most clever or original, is a sign of maturity. Don’t run away from the obvious, run with it.

U.S. Helps Frequent Fliers Make a Mint 

Scott McCartney, for the WSJ:

At least several hundred mile-junkies discovered that a free shipping offer on presidential and Native American $1 coins, sold at face value by the U.S. Mint, amounted to printing free frequent-flier miles. Mileage lovers ordered more than $1 million in coins until the Mint started identifying them and cutting them off.

Coin buyers charged the purchases, sold in boxes of 250 coins, to a credit card that offers frequent-flier mile awards, then took the shipments straight to the bank. They then used the coins they deposited to pay their credit-card bills. Their only cost: the car trip to make the deposit.

Brilliant. (Via Kottke.)

Artwork From Panic’s Failed Series of Atari 2600 Games 

You knew Panic had a company blog, right? Well, they do as of today, and, of course, it is awesome. (Don’t miss the bits of subtle CSS trickery that, e.g., slightly skews the text baselines.)

These Atari 2600-style predecessors to their current software lineup are so well-done I’m at a loss for words. It’s one thing to pick apt colors and use the right typeface. It’s another to commission pitch-perfect paintings in that specific intricate style, and to actually print them up and make them real.

Darby Lines on AT&T’s ‘Mark the Spot’ iPhone App 

It’s a great idea for an app. My only gripe is that the UI is for shit.

Gizmodo Sees a JooJoo Tablet in Person 

I’m not seeing how this is in any way better than an old spare MacBook. It’s too big to be more convenient than a regular laptop, but lacks a regular laptop’s keyboard. Doesn’t seem tempting to me at all. Put me down as predicting failure.

Google Chrome for Mac Beta 

There’s a lot to like about it, but with just about no scripting support whatsoever, I can’t really use it. Extensions don’t work on the Mac version yet, either.

And I can’t stand how the close button for tabs is on the right. On the Mac, close goes on the left.

A Better Logomark and Slogan for Philadelphia 

Philly isn’t hard to get, people.

Andy Ihnatko: The Seven Words You Can’t Say in a Dragon iPhone App 

Andy Ihnatko discovered that the just-released iPhone edition of Dragon NaturallySpeaking won’t translate swear words:

Apparently, Dragon is perfectly fine with the concept of sucking (the Mets do it all the time, and most of those guys are millionaires). It’s also willing to give me the benefit of the doubt regarding a word that often describes roosters and what you must do with a revolver before you keep the little feathery bastard from ever waking you up before dawn ever again. But when you put those two words together, the Dragon collapses into the nearest fainting couch.

Bizarrely, it censors “motherfucker” not to “motherf*cker” but rather “m*therfucker”. I suspect their censorship routine simply strips out the first vowel.

Anyway, the question at hand: Was this Dragon’s own doing, or was it a demand from Apple?

Dragon’s Lair for iPhone 

$5 in the App Store. It pains me to think about how much I blew on this as a 10-year-old in the arcade.

Sickly. You don’t need to “tip” the Liberty Bell at a jaunty angle. It’s the fucking Liberty Bell — one of the greatest icons in the world. And if you were to tip the Liberty Bell at a jaunty angle, the clapper wouldn’t hang in the middle. Don’t get me started on the Trebuchet. This is despicable.

Update: Brand New’s server crapped out. Here’s a cached version.

NYT: Millions in U.S. Drink Dirty Water 

Charles Duhigg, reporting for The NYT:

More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. […]

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

Tweeteorites 

Twitter favorite tracking and ranking site. Much closer in spirit to Favrd than, say, Favstar. Neat that it offers a view showing tweets favorited by those you follow.

Mike Monteiro on Favrd 

Mike Monteiro:

It’s a cliché, sure, but in the year that Favrd existed I made some really great friends. Those are mine to keep. Favrd was Dean’s to kill.

Star.

Virgin Galactic Unveils Commercial Spaceship 

I love that the subsidiary is named “Virgin Galactic”.

Nokia Shuts London Retail Store 

The Times of London:

Nokia is to shut the doors on its high-tech store in London’s Regent Street after failing to tempt consumers out of the bustling Apple store across the road with interactive translucent walls and a glitzy lounge area. […]

Ben Wood, an analyst with CCS Insight, said: “There was no question that the store was trying to replicate what Apple had done and build up the brand rather than shift devices. The question in why that strategy has worked for one company and not for the other.”

The answer is easy: Apple makes great products. The success of Apple’s retail stores isn’t based on any sort of tricks or upon the design of the stores themselves. The stores are well-designed, and they do use clever tricks to make them even better, but the foundation is the products. No gadget company can duplicate the success of the Apple Stores without products of similar caliber. Duh.

More on Favrd’s Shuttering 

Good piece by Zeldman arguing that Dean Allen should have at least passed Favrd over to someone else rather than turn out the lights. I disagree, but as ever with Z., it’s a thoughtful argument. The comment thread is simply crackerjack, especially this one from Dean himself further explaining his decision.

(Count me in with Andy Baio on one thing, though: I do wish Dean had kept the archives up.)

Microsoft, EU Are Said to Modify Deal in Browser Case 

Bloomberg:

Under the modified settlement, computer users with Windows will see a “ballot screen” that randomly lists the top five Web browsers that compete with Internet Explorer, the people said. Users would then click on a browser’s icon and the program would be downloaded from the Internet.

There’ve been complaints about the proposed order of the browsers on this “ballot” screen ever since this proposal got underway, and understandably so. Everyone wants their browser listed first. I don’t know that this entire “default browser ballot” proposal is a good idea in the first place, but randomizing the order is the only fair way to do it.

LumaLoop — Killer New SLR Camera Strap 

$60 sling-style camera strap, by James Duncan Davidson and Greg Koenig. They sent me one a few weeks ago, and it is perfect. I’ve never been happy with either a regular around-the-neck strap or carrying my camera in a bag. The LumaLoop offers the best of both — you can use the camera while attached to the strap, but there’s a quick release clasp so you can take it off in (literally) a snap. It’s super convenient and very comfortable.

I love the whole mindset with something like this. Duncan is a full-time photographer, and rather than live with camera straps he didn’t like, he partnered with an industrial designer, got to work, and built his own. Gumption.

Halloween Droog 

Khorosho costume for a malchick.

(Thanks to DF reader David Sjödin.)

The Unbelievable World of Snowflakes 

Beautiful macro photography.

‘All That’ 

From the Dept. of Things I Won’t Be Able to Say Many More Times, If Ever: a new short story from David Foster Wallace.

Nilay Patel’s Liveblog Coverage of Fusion Garage’s JooJoo Video Conference 

The green tint on the screen is apparently the result of a color balance issue with the camera they used. Too bad — I thought maybe they were going for a retro Newton look.

Crunchpad Manufacturer Renames Product JooJoo, Promises Launch This Friday at $499 

Good luck.

Harry McCracken Reviews the Nook 

Meh.

Dean Allen Pulls the Plug on Favrd 

Dean Allen:

There are still lots of clever and funny things to read every day, but finding these is no longer a challenge – you already follow your sources. Sites like this one now serve mainly as fuel for emotional up-fuckedness in the guise of a game.

There may be other ways to find them, but there are none I like to look at. Favrd’s understated stately design was reason enough to love it.

Anyway. I’ve made flesh-and-blood real-life no-virtual-bullshit-about-it friends with wonderful people whom I first became aware of via their wisecracks on Favrd. Favrd may have been a toy, but it was a toy that made friends. That’s a hell of a thing.

EtherPad Is Back Online for Now, Will Be Open-Sourced 

Excellent news from Google for EtherPad users.

Long NYT Story on the App Store 

3,000-word feature by Jenna Wortham on the iPhone App Store and the mobile software competitive landscape, including interviews with Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue from Apple.

“Our goal is very simple: We want to have the best platform for applications that there has ever been on any product,” notes Mr. Schiller, the marketing executive. “We know we’re not perfect, but we know we’re better than anything else that has been and we want to keep improving it.”

Update:

Remarks in the article from Katy Huberty, an analyst at Morgan Stanley:

Ms. Huberty likens the advent of the App Store and the iPhone to AOL’s pioneering role in driving broad-based consumer adoption of the Internet in the 1990s. She also draws comparisons to ways in which laptops have upended industry assumptions about consumer preferences and desktop computing. But, she notes, something even more profound may now be afoot.

“The iPhone is something different. It’s changing our behavior,” she says. “The game that Apple is playing is to become the Microsoft of the smartphone market.”

There’s a big difference between being the next AOL and being the next Windows.

Student Design for Improved U.K. Power Plug 

Clever.

NYT: Apple to Buy Music Start-Up Lala 

The NYT’s Brad Stone confirms Bloomberg’s scoop from earlier today; reports that it’s a talent acquisition.

VMware Fusion 3 

My thanks to VMware Fusion for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. VMware Fusion 3 is a great update to what was already the best virtualization software for Mac OS X. It lets you run over 140 different x86 operating systems — including everything from DOS to Windows 7 to Google Chrome OS — within Mac OS X, alongside all your usual Mac apps.

VMware Fusion 3 has a great Mac interface and a new 64-bit engine. It works great on both Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6. New licenses are $79.99; upgrades from VMware Fusion 1 or 2 are only $39.99.

EtherPad to Shut Down After Google Acquisition of Parent Company AppJet 

No more new accounts, and the existing EtherPad service is scheduled to shut down March 31. The team is joining Google’s Wave team. If you want my opinion, it ought to be the other way around: keep EtherPad going and abandon Wave. As Glenn Fleishman writes:

I’ve been using [Google Wave] for some weeks, and still find it baffling, where EtherPad was instantly explicable and useful. I hope the AppJet team brings its approach with them.

Droid Video Recalls Duncan Davidson’s iPhone Debut Photo 

Duncan’s photo from Macworld Expo 2007, showing people examining the for-display-only original iPhones, truly is an iconic image. The original iPhone was awe-inspiring. There’s no other way to put it. His photo captures that.

Mark Coleran, Designer of Fictional UIs for Movies 

Some great work. (Via Metafilter.)

Kottke on Google Public DNS 

Surely there’s some good reason why Google is providing free DNS servers. Why? I say Jason Kottke nailed it: it’s about speed speed speed. Every tenth of a second matters. Faster DNS makes for a faster web experience. The faster your web experience, the more you use Google web services. The more you use Google web services, the more money Google generates from ads.

I totally understand why people are wary of trusting too much to Google. But their DNS privacy policy strikes me as utterly reasonable. It is not in any way tied to your Google web accounts.

Bad Numbers 

Apparently they don’t teach arithmetic in journalism school.

Update: Alas, they don’t teach WordPress caching in blogging school, and Nat Friedman’s site is down. Update 2: It’s back up.

Twitter’s New Mobile-Optimized Site 

This would have been great two years ago, before there were native iPhone apps. Still might be great for Android, Pre, and Symbian phones. Their old minimal mobile site is still available for now; the new mobile site, optimized for WebKit-powered mobile browsers, is at mobile.twitter.com.

‘You’re Constantly Looking at Something and Thinking, “Why Is It Like That?”’ 

Objectified, the latest documentary on design from Gary Hustwit (director of Helvetica) is now showing on PBS. One of the excerpts on the web site is the interview with Apple’s Jonathan Ive.

OpenDNS Founder David Ulevitch on Google Public DNS 

OpenDNS founder David Ulevitch:

Google claims that this service is better because it has no ads or redirection. But you have to remember they are also the largest advertising and redirection company on the Internet.

But Google only shows you ads on and redirects you to things you’ve asked for. OpenDNS shows you ads and redirects you to things based on mistakes you make.

To think that Google’s DNS service is for the benefit of the Internet would be naive. They know there is value in controlling more of your Internet experience and I would expect them to explore that fully. And of course, we always have protected user privacy and have never sold our DNS data.

Translation: Sure, we do something shitty with DNS right now today, but Google might do something shitty with DNS in the future so they’re even worse. Pure FUD.

Really Basic Maths 

Khoi Vinh shows the iterations he went through designing his Basic Maths theme for WordPress.

Google Public DNS: A New DNS Resolver From Google 

Fast, secure, and none of the filtering/redirection shenanigans from OpenDNS. I’ve switched. Here are the docs on how to use it.

Update: Here’s the privacy policy. Clear, cogent, and respectful.

New York Times ‘Article Skimmer’ Prototype Still Up 

Not sure how long it’s going to be around, but the prototype version of the NYT’s new “Times Skimmer” is still available. Interesting comparison.

G.E. Agrees to Sell NBC to Comcast 

The Times also has a behind-the-scenes look at how the deal was made.

Update: Good question from Andrew Elliott.

Ed Bott on the Bogus ‘Black Screen of Death’ Story 

Ed Bott excoriates IDG (publishers of PC World and ComputerWorld) for their role in publicizing the bogus “Black Screen of Death” story earlier this week. (I linked to Jeremy Kirk’s initial story at PC World, and this follow-up a day later.)

Pictory 

Splendid new web site from Laura Brunow Miner.

Wolf Rentzsch Recommends Disabling ‘Invisible’ Flash in ClickToFlash 

Here’s one reason why.

Justin Williams on iPhone Web App Scrolling 

Justin Williams:

I believe that with the current crop of Web technologies available in MobileSafari, apps like Hahlo, PocketTweets and Showtime could thrive as an alternative to their native counterparts if Apple allowed developers to adjust the scrolling/drag coefficient of Mobile WebKit. If you compare the scrolling speed of your Twitter timeline in Hahlo and Tweetie, the results are drastically different. Tweetie feels like it effortlessly scrolls based on how much momentum you exert in the scroll action, while Hahlo is being constrained by a fifty pound weight on its back.

Amen.

Anatomy of a Fireballing 

Jared Earle:

To put it simply, if you’re running a WordPress blog, you need to be using wp-super-cache. One day, someone will tell people about stuff you’re saying and you want your site to still be there when the people that listen to them turn up on your doorstep.

Parcycle: A Particle System With HTML5 Canvas  

JavaScript/Canvas particle system by Mr Speaker. Works — albeit slowly — on the iPhone too. (Via Geoffrey Grosenbach.)

Times Skimmer 

I like this new interface to the NYT online. The Times’s PR announcement describes it as more like a newspaper, but I’d say that’s true only in spirit. It’s far less cluttered than the regular Times web site layout, and it feels faster.

Cutting-edge on the tech side, too: in Safari it displays headlines and sub-heads using the same fonts as the print edition, thanks to the new CSS @font-face property and TypeKit.

Whither ‘Barry Lyndon’ in HD? 

One more Lyndon-related link to complete the daily trifecta. There’s an OK standard-def transfer from 2001, but still no Blu-ray or HD version on iTunes. Nick Kostopoulos reports on The Auteurs that we just need to sit tight — Warner Brothers is working on it and wants to get it right.

If it’s as good as the Blu-ray transfer of 2001, I’ll be happy.

Update: Ends up iTunes does have an HD version, but it’s only for rent, and only available on Apple TV (which is why I didn’t see it when I checked iTunes on my Mac). No idea how good a transfer it is.

Venn Diagram of the Day 

Perhaps better suited to Easter than Christmas.

8 Million Reasons for Real Surveillance Oversight 

Eye-opening research by Christopher Soghoian on government surveillance requests received by ISPs and phone companies in the U.S.:

Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with its customers’ (GPS) location information over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009. This massive disclosure of sensitive customer information was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers.

(You may recall Soghoian’s name from his Northwest Airlines boarding pass generator three years ago.)

More Lyndon 

Wonderful collection of Lyndon imagery and promotional material, including comparisons of stills from the film and 18th century paintings. (Via Jim Coudal, of course.)

‘Going West’ 

Splendid stop-motion animation for the New Zealand Book Council.

Against Camel Case 

Caleb Crain:

Word spaces should not be taken for granted. Ancient Greek, the first alphabet to feature vowels, could be deciphered without word spaces if you sounded it out, and did without them. Spaces or centered points divide words on early Roman monuments, but Latin, too, ceased to separate words by the second century. The loss is puzzling, because the eye has to work much harder to read unseparated text.

Lars von Trier on Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’ 

I cry like a baby every time I watch Lyndon. Last time, a few months ago, I went upstairs afterward to hold my boy while he slept.

Michael Gartenberg on the Future of Nokia? 

Count me as a Nokia pessimist. I think their leadership lacks the balls to move ahead aggressively.

Microsoft Says Windows Security Updates Not to Blame for ‘Black Screens’ 

They seem to have no idea what’s causing the problem, but deny changing the registry key that’s been blamed. So it looks like the whole story is bogus.

Consumer Reports: AT&T Cellphone Service Last in Customer Satisfaction 

Shocking.

Google Zeitgeist 2009 

Not sure why they release these at the start of December.

Android Developer Challenge 2 Winners 

A few of these sound interesting; most of them need serious help with their icons. (And Tasker’s icon seems oddly familiar.)

The Great iPhone Death Watch 

A cornucopia of iPhone claim chowder. Update: Changed the link to point to the original list at AAPL Investors.

Nook Ship Date Slips to January 11 

The dangers of pre-announcing products.

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