Linked List: January 2009

The Talk Show, Episode 28 

Save your time and don’t bother if you don’t like football. But do listen if you want to hear me tell you who’s the best quarterback ever.

Webby 

After I linked to Brent Simmons’s description of his new homegrown Ruby-based content management system, a few DF readers recommended Webby:

Webby is a fantastic little website management system. It would be called a content management system if it were a bigger kid. But, it’s just a runt with a special knack for transforming text. And that’s really all it does — manages the legwork of turning text into something else, an ASCII Alchemist if you will.

And Brent just linked to two others, Nanoc and RubyFrontier.

Doing It Wrong, Indeed 

Neven Mrgan:

Well, I’m convinced. I guess I’ll just switch to an email client that doesn’t allow me to drag a goddamn file into the message to attach it.

Google Flags Entire Web as Malware 

Didn’t take long to fix, but man, what a mistake.

Brent Simmons’s New Web Publishing System 

I love stories like this. The system Brent just built for himself sounds a lot like the system I was this close to building for myself when I started Daring Fireball: a template-based system that runs locally on the Mac and pushes static HTML pages to a remote server. I went with Movable Type instead not so much because I liked it better than the home-grown system I had in my head, but because it was finally starting to dawn on me that my programming projects always take a lot longer to complete than I think they will.

There have been many times since 2002 that I’ve regretted not building my own publishing system from scratch. But, now that I can post and edit to Movable Type from my iPhone, I have a major reason to be happy that I have a system that doesn’t run on my Mac.

How ClickToFlash Works 

Peter Hosey:

Speaking of everybody’s favorite WebKit plug-in, here’s how it works. This should help you understand how it fails on some sites, and maybe aid you in contributing to its development.

Hosey has contributed some cool stuff to ClickToFlash. One thing I’m noticing about GitHub is that it seems to be the first open source community through which multiple forks of the same project feed back to one another.

‘I Don’t Know What Hand-Wringing Is’ 

Greg Sandoval looks back at Rolling Stone’s 2003 interview with Steve Jobs regarding Apple’s then-nascent music business.

Fraser Speirs on the Flickr Support in iPhoto ’09 

Fraser Speirs:

As you may know, Apple added Flickr uploading to iPhoto ‘09. As you may guess, I was a little perturbed at this since I pay my mortgage by selling, er, a Flickr upload plugin for iPhoto. I acquired my copy of iLife ‘09 yesterday and decided to dive deep on how Apple have implemented Flickr integration in iPhoto ‘09. Here are the results of my investigation.

He admits he has a stake in it, but he makes a strong case that iPhoto’s built-in Flickr integration leaves a lot to be desired.

Zumobi 

My thanks to Zumobi for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Zumobi is a mobile development house offering a bunch of apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, including “Inside Xbox 360” and “REI Ski and Snow Report” (both of which are free) and “Pro Football” (which is currently on sale for $2 for this weekend’s Super Bowl).

Löve 

Löve is an open source, cross-platform game engine that allows for game development in Lua. Very cool, with good documentation and tutorials. (Via Why the Lucky Stiff.)

Amazon Quarterly Results: Surprisingly Good 

Good for them — Amazon is one of my favorite companies.

1925 Drexel Institute Girls’ Rifle Team 

I love this photo. You still hear occasional gunfire near Drexel’s campus today. (Thanks to DF reader Jim Sims.)

Engadget on Apple’s and Palm’s Touchscreen Patents 

Interesting piece, with some video examples showing the specific features certain patents cover, by Mathew Gavronski and Nilay Patel.

Per-Song iTunes Plus Upgrades Now Available 

Previously it was an all-or-none deal.

iSteamPhone 

New shirt from the team behind the excellent “Exploded iPhone” shirt — daVinci-style iPhone schematics.

Regarding the ‘Mercury in HFCS’ Story 

Sandy Szwarc is highly skeptical of the “high fructose corn syrup contains mercury” story:

So, the 0.113 ppm of mercury purportedly in HFCS makes even less sense to panic over. Even more, it’s biologically implausible for 0.000113 part per million that might be digested to be dangerous. We’d have to eat impossible quantities to get enough to worry about.

Still sounds like bad news to me, but it only seems fair to link to the opposing argument.

Flickr Apps for iPhone 

Jonathan Seff reviews three of the top iPhone Flickr clients: Darkslide, Mobile Fotos, and Reflections.

‘Programmers Are Tiny Gods’ 

Derek Powazek:

Like designers, if you give a programmer a problem with parameters, they’ll apply every bit of genius they have to solve it in the best possible way. If you tell them how to do it, you’ll suffer the wrath of an angry God.

Mike Arrington:

Of the 137 billion estimated total searches performed in the U.S. last year, 85 billion were done on Google. What’s even more impressive is that nearly 90 percent of all the growth in search volume was also captured by Google. Most of that growth came from increasing the number of searches per person, rather than bringing more people to Google.

Wait, but Sarah Lacy told me just last week that Google has been dethroned because no one stays on top for more than four years and because Twitter is growing.

AOL Layoffs 

AOL still exists?

What Happened to iPhone Push Notifications? 

Dan Moren:

We put in a call to Apple to find out the reason why, but unless you’re new to this whole scene you won’t exactly be flabbergasted to hear that the company was about as communicative as your average sullen teenager. The company’s approach appears to be pretending that the system was never announced in the first place — you won’t find any notice of it on Apple’s site, save for the plaintive cries of users wondering what happened to it.

How to Write a Book 

Steven Johnson, guest-blogging at Boing Boing, on how he writes his books:

My word processors have varied over the years: I swore off MS Word after Mind Wide Open, and used Nisus Writer for Everything Bad and Ghost Map; had a quick dalliance with Pages, and then actually returned to the latest version of Word for Invention. But the one constant for the past four books has been an ingenious piece of software called Devonthink, which is basically a free-form database that accepts many different document types (PDFs, text snippets, web pages, images, etc). It has a very elegant semantic algorithm that can detect relationships between short excerpts of text, so you can use the software as a kind of connection machine, a supplement to your own memory. I wrote about this several years ago for the Times Book Review, and I still get emails from people every couple of weeks asking about the software. (The Devonthink guys should put me in an infomercial.)

‘Veering Away’ 

Grant Hutchinson is leaving Veer, which he co-founded seven years ago and has helped steer ever since. Grant is one of the good guys, and Veer is a terrific success story.

‘Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu’ 

John Updike on Ted Williams’s final home game at Fenway Park in 1960, for The New Yorker. So good.

Zeldman’s Recession Tips for Web Designers 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

Bad times are hard on overweight companies and over-leveraged start-ups, but can be kind to freelancers and small agencies. Clients who once had money to burn and big agencies to help them burn it suddenly consider the quality of work more important than the marquee value of the business card. Fancy offices and ten people at every meeting are out. A close relationship with an individual or small team that listens is in.

Apple Concept Designs From the Early ’90s 

A lot of it is cool in a sci-fi sort of way, but none of this stuff was even close to practical at the time. One of the first things Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple was put an end to “concept” designs, and focus the entire company on making actual, real products. (Via Steven Sande.)

Studies Find High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury 

I’m sure the HFCS industry will soon let us know that a little mercury never hurt anybody.

iMovie ’09 Image Stabilization Examples 

Nice before/after example from Beau Colburn, with footage from a Flip Mino HD. And here’s an example from Neven Mrgan. Update: And an example from Jason Snell here.

What I’ve found is that iMovie won’t apply any stabilization at all to a clip that contains any portions which are too shaky to stabilize. Like, say, a single clip where you shoot pointing north for a few seconds, then quickly whip the camera around to point south for another few seconds. But if you break that clip up into two separate clips — editing out the blurry “whipping around” frames — iMovie will then stabilize the separate clips. iMovie helpfully indicates the “too shaky” portions of a clip with red squiggly lines. Here’s the relevant portion from iMovie ’09’s help:

A red squiggly line underlines any video in the Project Browser or Event Browser that was too shaky to stabilize. To play a clip stabilized in a project, you must remove any parts underlined with a red squiggly line.

But I’ve found that iMovie will stabilize some clips which contain the red squiggles, if the squiggled segments are short.

Amazon’s Kindle 2 to Debut February 9 

At a special event hosted by Jeff Bezos.

Apple Gets Patent for Multi-Touch 

Very broad language — taken at face value, Apple effectively owns the IP rights to multi-touch in the U.S. This sucks.

To be clear, my beef is with the U.S. patent system in that it allows something like this. Given the state of software patent law in the U.S., I don’t blame Apple or any other company for pursuing the broadest patent claims they can. And just because they hold an apparently broad patent doesn’t mean they’re going to use it as a weapon. Here’s to hoping they don’t.

Mark Papermaster to Begin at Apple as Senior Vice President of Devices Hardware Engineering on April 24 

Apple:

The litigation between IBM and Mark Papermaster has been resolved.

Wonder why he doesn’t start until April, though? I suppose that’s part of the settlement. (Via Dan Moren.)

Update: Yup, according to IBM, the April start date is part of the negotiated settlement.

iPhone OS 2.2.1 

Fixes the image-resizing bug introduced in 2.2.0 and “improves general stability of Safari”.

John Updike Dies at 76 

As good a prose stylist as there ever was.

“I would write ads for deodorants or labels for catsup bottle, if I had to,” Updike told The Paris Review in 1967. “The miracle of turning inklings into thoughts and thoughts into words and words into metal and print and ink never palls for me.”

Softwear by Microsoft 

These are actually cool. The problem for Microsoft is that nothing they’ve done recently is cool. (Via Alissa Walker.)

Muxtape Is Dead; Long Live Muxtape 

Muxtape is back, reborn as “a minimalist platform for bands to promote their music and listeners to create mixes”. Great idea, well done.

Macintosh 25th Anniversary Reunion 

Guy Kawasaki’s photos from a reunion of the original Macintosh team at Apple.

ClickToFlash Is Dead; Long Live ClickToFlash 

So it appears the original project page at Google Code for ClickToFlash is no longer accessible, for reasons unknown. That’s OK, though, because the project was open source, and it’s already been forked and slightly improved. Wolf Rentzsch is now maintaining a forked version hosted at GitHub, and it now supports Option-clicking to add the current domain to a whitelist so that Flash content will subsequently load automatically. You can add domains to the whitelist manually with the following command-line invocation:

defaults write com.apple.Safari ClickToFlash.whitelist -array-add 'vimeo.com'

Most of you probably just want the binary installer, not the source code. There’s a download link for the installer at the bottom of the page.

ClickToFlash’s original author took care to remain anonymous. Whoever you are, thank you.

‘The Auteur Theory of Design’ 

Video of my presentation at Macworld Expo earlier this month, from the new Macworld Pulse program.

Podcaster, Renamed and Rejiggered, Now Available From App Store 

Now named RSS Player, and without the built-in directory of podcasts. But it still allows you to download podcasts larger than 10 MB.

Adobe UI Gripes 

Hilarious expletive-laden analysis of Adobe CS4 UI design details. Go ahead and read the whole thing, it’s worth it, but I’ll point out a few of my favorites here and here and here. (Via Michael Tsai.)

iLife ’09 Available Tomorrow 

Available in Apple stores tomorrow. Or, if you don’t want to leave the house, you can make me rich and buy from Amazon:

Unofficial Web-Based Version of iTunes App Store 

I saw this last week and wasn’t sure if it was going to be around for long, but it’s still up, so maybe Apple doesn’t mind. You still have to use iTunes to actually buy or download apps, so effectively it’s just an affiliate site, but it more or less tries to reproduce the layout and appearance of the official App Store. I can’t figure out who’s responsible for this.

Intego: New Variant of ‘iServices’ Mac Trojan Horse Found in Bootlegged Photoshop CS4 

Similar deal as the version identified last week in bootleg distributions of iWork ’09.

The HAL Project 

Gorgeous homage to HAL by Joe Mackenzie. I haven’t used a screensaver on my computer in at least 10 years, but I’m running one now.

(Thanks to DF reader Darren Geraghty.)

ClickToFlash 

BSD-licensed open source WebKit browser plugin that prevents Flash content from loading automatically. Instead, each Flash element appears as a simple gradient; to load it, you click it. Works in both Safari and WebKit nightly builds, and, in my testing, significantly decreases the amount of CPU used when you have a slew of open windows and tabs. And it’s a legitimate browser plugin that goes in ~/Library/Internet Plug-Ins/, not a dirty input manager hack. I can’t remember the last time a piece of software made me this happy.

(Via Steven Frank and Erik Barzeski.)

Update: The project has been forked.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall 

Errol Morris:

During the last week of the Bush administration, I asked the head photo editors of these news services — Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) — to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration.

Rob Griffiths Reviews Eight Third-Party iPhone Web Browsers 

Interesting that Apple is now allowing them in the store, but none seem particularly useful yet.

The Curious Case of Missing Yen 

Ken Aspeslagh has an interesting tip for App Store developers:

If you don’t remember filling out 12 pages of Japanese tax forms, you might want to go do so immediately.

Layers 1.0 

New $15 screenshot utility captures images as layered Photoshop images — one layer per window.

Dan Moren Reviews the T-Mobile G1 

Detailed review of T-Mobile’s Android G1 by Dan Moren:

Unfortunately, the usability of Android’s browser is limited by a few factors: among them the lack of multitouch functionality. There’s no pinch-and-zoom as there is on the iPhone; instead, when you scroll, you get a translucent bar at the bottom of the screen with zoom in and zoom out buttons, along with another button that gives you a full-screen view of the page. In that mode, you can drag a loupe-like viewer around; when you release your finger, the view will zoom in on that section of the page.

It works okay, but it’s somewhat kludgy and the whole experience feels like surfing the web with a periscope. Having to move your finger down to hit a specific button to zoom in or out is a pain: when you want to zoom in on a particular point of a page (say, a small link), it’s annoying to have to move your finger back and forth between the zooming and panning around the screen to find the part you want to see. 

The only natural interface for arbitrary zooming on a touchscreen handheld device is multi-touch pinching. There’s no conceptual abstraction between the gesture and the result. It’s the sort of broad, general idea that should not be patentable but unfortunately is. Palm seems ready to use it in the Pre, though.

Microsoft Reports $100M Decline in Zune Revenue 

Down 54 percent from the year ago quarter.

Guardian Interview With Andy Hertzfeld 

Nice little video interview with Andy Hertzfeld on the Mac’s 25th anniversary. He shows the prototype motherboard he used to write the device drivers for System 1.0.

Pirating the 2009 Oscars 

Speaking of Andy Baio, his annual analysis of bootleg distribution of Oscar-nominated films is out.

OCR and Neural Nets in JavaScript 

John Resig explains how a captcha solver written entirely in JavaScript by Shaun Friedle works. Good illustration of how programming is often just about breaking hard problems into a series of smaller, simpler problems. It’s extremely clever code. (Via Andy Baio.)

Snow Leopard Screenshot Leaks? 

Sort of a retro look. (Via Craig Hockenberry.)

Bootleg iWork ’09 Installer Contains Trojan Horse 

Rob Griffiths:

Intego, makers of VirusBarrier and other security software for the Macintosh, issued a security alert for Mac users on Thursday, advising them about the existence of a new Trojan Horse, which they’ve named OSX.Trojan.iServices.A. This new Trojan Horse can be found in pirated copies of Apple’s iWork ’09 application suite, which has been downloaded over 20,000 times, according to Intego’s numbers.

You’ve got nothing to worry about unless you installed a bootleg copy of iWork from BitTorrent. If you do you have something to worry about, Intego’s description of the Trojan horse says it’s installed at /System/Library/StartupItems/iWorkServices.

Kindling 

My thanks to Kindling for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Kindling is a web-based “idea management and collaboration tool”. The basic idea is that it acts as a forum for an organization or team to submit, discuss, and vote on ideas. The voting system brings popular ideas to the attention of everyone. Their web site has an excellent introductory/screencast video — really makes it clear how Kindling works and what it’s for. They also have a demo installation you can try for yourself, and you get a 30-day free trial when you sign up.

Curious Sourcing at The Telegraph 

This segment of a report titled “Can Anyone Replace Steve Jobs at Apple?” by Rupert Neate and James Quinn that appeared last week in the U.K. Telegraph caught my eye:

Apple insiders say Mr Cook — who also took the helm while Mr Jobs took time off for treatment for a rare type of pancreatic cancer in 2004 — has been effectively “running Apple for a long time”.

Michael Janes, who runs Apple’s online store, said: “Steve is the face of the company and very involved with product development but Tim is the guy who takes all those designs and turns it into a big pile of cash for the company.”

First, I never heard of Michael Janes before. Second, if he currently “runs Apple’s online store”, why on earth would he be talking to the press about Apple senior management? When is the last time anyone at Apple has been quoted by name in a news story regarding how Apple operates?

It ends up Janes does not “run Apple’s online store”. Jennifer Bailey does, as Apple’s vice president of the Apple online store. Michael Janes did run the Apple online store — emphasis on the past tense — about six years ago.

‘RT’ vs. ‘via’ 

I hate the whole “RT” thing. Just link to noteworthy tweets, don’t regurgitate them.

Good Quarter for Google 

CNN Money:

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company reported an 18% jump in fourth-quarter revenue to $5.7 billion for the period ended Dec. 31. That’s up from $4.83 billion in the year-earlier quarter.

My Setup 

Daniel Bogan is conducting a series of interviews called The Setup, asking about the hardware and software people are using to get their jobs done. Today’s interview: yours truly.

Microsoft Defends Return to DRM 

PC Pro on Microsoft’s latest music initiative:

While companies such as Apple and Amazon have finally moved to music download services free of copy protection, MSN Mobile locks tracks to the mobile handset they are downloaded to.

And:

Hugh Griffiths, Head of Mobile at Microsoft UK: “At the moment, to be honest with you, we don’t have the functionality in-house to provide a mechanism for transferring between mobile phones and PC. We don’t have that functionality available.”

Methinks whoever is behind this ought to be on the Microsoft layoff list.

Layer Tennis 2009 

Coming soon: the second season of Coudal Partners’ viciously fun Layer Tennis. Get your free season tickets now.

No Oompa Loompas 

Gary Hustwit, director of the upcoming Objectified documentary:

We did a follow-up interview with Jony Ive at Apple in California last week, and enjoyed the opportunity of filming inside Apple’s design facilities.

You Stay Classic, Mac OS 

Short piece I wrote for Macworld’s “25th Anniversary of the Mac” issue regarding what Mac OS X could learn from the Classic Mac OS.

Microsoft to Cut 5,000 Jobs 

Growth slowed, but they still reported $4.17 billion in profit for the quarter.

Update: And this interesting news:

In a stunning announcement, Microsoft will offer no forward guidance for the remainder of fiscal 2009. Clearly, the global economic crisis has become a Microsoft crisis.

‘Like Going From an Xbox to an Atari’ 

Obama administration officials meet the existing White House tech infrastructure:

The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing. The team was left struggling to put closed captions on online videos.

Senior advisers chafed at the new arrangements, which severely limit mobility — partly by tradition but also for security reasons and to ensure that all official work is preserved under the Presidential Records Act.

Notes App Doesn’t Train iPhone System-Wide Auto-Correction Dictionary 

Interesting find by Erica Sadun: the iPhone’s Notes app doesn’t seem to add new words to the system-wide auto-correction dictionary. Sounds like a bug in Notes to me.

Sony Projects Record $3 Billion Loss 

Again, context for Apple’s results.

Nokia Profit Drops 69 Percent 

Helps put context around Apple’s results.

Oblivious, Eh? 

Brian X. Chen, in a piece for Wired regarding Apple’s quarterly conference titled “Apple Still Oblivious to Netbook Opportunity”:

During its quarterly earnings call Wednesday, Apple reinforced its skepticism in netbooks, saying their low-powered CPUs, cramped keyboards and small displays are not enough to satisfy customers.

Here’s what Tim Cook actually said, from Macworld’s transcript:

We’re watching that space, but right now from our point-of-view, those products are based on hardware that’s much less powerful than what we think that customers want, software quality that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays. So we don’t think people are going to be pleased with those products, but we’ll see. We are watching that space. About 3% of PC industry was in this netbook kind of category so it’s a category we watch. We’ve got some ideas here. But right now, we think the products are inferior and will not provide [an] experience to customers that they’re happy with.

Sounds to me like Apple’s about as oblivious to the netbook opportunity as they were to the smartphone opportunity around, say, 2006.

Chen adds:

Apple would be ignoring trends seen in its own earnings report if it refused to offer a device in the netbook category. In Wednesday’s earnings call, Apple announced it sold a record number of iPods in the quarter: 22.7 million. With iPods priced no higher than $400, it’s clear the netbook price range is attractive to consumers.

Apple sells a lot of copies of iWork, so maybe they should make a $79 netbook, too.

Tim Cook on Apple TV Sales 

From Macworld’s report on Apple’s finance conference call:

Though Apple didn’t provide sales figures for its Apple TV set-top box, Cook said sales were up three times what they were during the year-ago quarter, citing the addition of movie rentals to the iTunes Store. The company still describes the Apple TV, which lets you watch digital content on your television set, as a hobby, but Cook noted, “We think there’s something there.”

Double here, triple there, and next thing you know they’re going to have something. You wait and see.

Roger Kay, Soothsayer 

Brian X. Chen, on the day Apple released the current MacBook lineup:

Despite a raft load of nifty new features, Apple’s new Mac notebooks will have a hard time moving off store shelves during the economic crisis, industry analysts say.

“There will be a lot of people looking at a lot of stuff at the Apple Store, and they’ll probably come out with [iPod] nanos or shuffles,” said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies. “That’s what people are going to feel like they’re going to afford this year.”

As a reminder, Apple’s laptop sales for the quarter were up 34 percent year-over-year.

Roger Kay doesn’t say outright foolish things the way, say, Rob Enderle does. But his record as an analyst regarding Apple is simply atrocious. He seemingly has no comprehension of what Apple really does, and why people buy Apple products.

‘Not Going to Just Walk In’ 

Apple has now sold over 17 million iPhones to date, and almost 11 million in the last six months alone. Good time to recall Palm CEO Ed Colligan’s prediction regarding Apple’s prospects in the mobile phone business, a few weeks prior to the iPhone introduction:

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

Some Flop 

Robin Harris, back in November, on Apple’s revamped lineup of MacBooks:

By investing in a costly feature no one asked for Apple is stalling its rapid growth in notebook marketshare. Whether it is a flop or a fiasco depends on how bad and how long the global recession is.

Apple’s laptop unit sales for the just-ended quarter were up 34 percent year-over-year.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Apple’s Quarterly Earnings Call 

See also: MacJournals’s live coverage on Twitter.

Apple Reports First Quarter 2009 Results 

Good news for Apple all around:

Apple sold 2,524,000 Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing nine percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold a record 22,727,000 iPods during the quarter, representing three percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone units sold were 4,363,000, representing 88 percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.

“Even in these economically challenging times, we are incredibly pleased to report our best quarterly revenue and earnings in Apple history — surpassing $10 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time ever,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. 

I expected the iPod Touch to be the sleeper hit, but according to Apple’s data summary (PDF), while iPod unit sales are up 3% over last year, iPod revenue is down 16%.

The Big Picture: The Inauguration of President Barack Obama 

Terrific collection of photographs, as usual. I like the one inside Bush’s helicopter as he departs Washington. It’s sort of like being President fades away rather than changes in an instant. It’s like he’s still part-President there.

QuickTime 7.6 

Media playback and encoding improvements, and a bunch of security fixes.

$999 White MacBook Gets a Speed Bump 

Faster bus, better graphics card, and now with 2 GB of RAM (up from 1).

MacDev2009 

New U.K. indie Mac developer conference:

On the 16th and 17th of April 2009 The Mac Developer Network with Steve Scott (Scotty) and Tim Isted will be hosting the UK’s only independent Mac Developer Conference and we have very imaginatively called it MacDev 2009.

The Best Mac Ever 

Macworld:

The 25th anniversary of the Mac is bound to spark debates, particularly when it comes down to the ultimate question for Mac aficionados: Which system was the greatest Mac ever?

Adam Engst, John Siracusa, and yours truly all picked the same answer. In my book, that’s definitive.

Andy M. Zaky on Apple and Subscription-Based Accounting 

Zaky argues that Apple’s use of subscription-based accounting for iPhone revenue has significantly hurt its share price — casual investors who are only looking at Apple’s GAAP results don’t realize how much revenue they’ve deferred.

Edge Online Interview With Greg Joswiak 

Regarding the iPhone and iPod Touch as a gaming platform:

How do you update a cartridge? You can’t. But you can update the games here via the App Store and that’s an automatic process. Not to mention not having to carry around a bucketful of cartridges. You can store as many games as you have space for. Everything about the iPhone suggests where the future’s headed, and I think a lot of the other guys are trying to scramble for what they do in response.

‘A Return to These Truths’ 

President Barack Obama’s inaugural address:

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.

The New Gothams 

H&FJ expands the Gotham family of typefaces:

But designing a typeface is an arduous process requiring serious commitment, and we realized early on that if we weren’t careful, there could suddenly be an endless number of very specialized Gothams. The prospect of a “Gotham for embroidery” collection and a “Gotham for box scores” was daunting, and ran counter to one of H&FJ’s core philosophies: that type families should be as small as possible, but as large as necessary.

Welcome to the White House 

Whitehouse.gov is updated. There is a weblog.

Update: For the web nerds out there, the new web site passes the W3C HTML validator.

A Simple Act of Faith 

“Invest in and for the future. Right now.”

Flat N All That 

Matt Taibbi on New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman:

Or how about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:

The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the editors over at the New York Times editorial page spend their afternoons dropping acid or drinking rubbing alcohol.

My iPhone Is Not a Mac Pro 

Savoy Software, on optimizing iPhone drawing code:

When looking at the results it gets obvious that there’s a huge difference in performance between a desktop computer and the iPhone. Translating the numbers to a rule of thumb you could say: “What takes one second on a Mac takes one minute on the iPhone”. Or, what sounds even worse to me: “A frame rate of 60Hz on a Mac means one update per second on the iPhone”.

Harper’s Index: A Retrospective of the Bush Era 

My last-ever link regarding President George W. Bush, before I get to use the “former” prefix:

Percentage of Republicans in 2005 who said they would vote for Bush over George Washington: 62

‘Are They Just Riding the Shipley Train?’ 

Cabel Sasser’s catchy theme song for Jessie Char’s soon-to-be-in-production reality podcast regarding just what the hell is going on at Delicious Monster.

Video of a Guy Beating Marble Madness in 2:35 

Marble Madness ranks high on my list of video games I desperately wanted to be good at, but frankly just stunk at. (Via Cabel Sasser.)

Belkin Caught Paying for Fake User Reviews 

Good reporting by Arlen Parsa at The Daily Background. Folks, Mechanical Turk is not a good venue for commissioning fraudulent reviews: the job requests are out in the open.

BlackBerry Application Storefront 

Becoming more and more clear that the iPhone’s killer app is the App Store.

MacNN Reports Apple Signs Lease for Philly Apple Store 

1619 Walnut, which until earlier this month was the spot of Brasserie Perrier, a restaurant. IFO AppleStore has a photograph, and reports that the building is a historical landmark.

The Impossible Project 

Dutch enthusiasts plan to restart production of Polaroid instant film.

User Interface of the Week: Max Magic Microtuner 

It’s the “ear” button that cinches it.

The Book Cover Archive 

“An archive of book cover designs and designers”, edited and maintained by Ben Pieratt and Eric Jacobsen. Wonderful. (Via Yves Peters.)

Hope 

All sorts of good stuff in this NYT/CBS News poll regarding Americans’ expectations regarding Barack Obama, but I like this nugget best:

By contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration.

Kottke Redesigns 

Like seeing a close friend with a new haircut.

Mobile Colloquy 1.0 

$2 iPhone IRC client. You remember IRC, right?

Gina Trapani Steps Down as Lifehacker Site Lead 

Gina Trapani:

The bottom line is this: for someone who loves making things on the web, spending 100% of the time blogging about what other people are making is simply untenable.

App Store Hits 500 Million Downloads 

From Peter Burrows’s story for BusinessWeek on the App Store’s 500 millionth download, which includes quotes from several “mobile” developers who are switching to iPhone-only developers:

Indeed, analysts think iPhone sales fell significantly in the fourth quarter from the previous one, when the economy was healthier and consumers were snapping up the brand new iPhone 3G.

My understanding is that these analysts are wrong, and that holiday-quarter iPhone sales were good. How good, exactly, I don’t know, but I would bet heavily against sales having “fallen significantly” quarter-over-quarter. And, if you’re talking about the strength of the App Store market, not just iPhone sales specifically, I’m almost certain that iPod Touch sales were somewhere in the range between outstanding and unfuckingbelievable.

The New York Times’s Interactive Graphic for Flight 1549 

The Times does these so well.

A New Reality Distortion Field 

Dan Miller:

You’d think they’d add a clause to the Hippocratic Oath — “First, do no diagnoses of patients you’ve never seen.”

MDJ’s Weekly Attitudinal: Write Your Own Steve Jobs Story 

It would be funnier if this weren’t exactly what so many news publications are doing.

I’ll Show You a Clown 

Rob Enderle will not be ignored in the race to say the stupidest possible thing regarding the Steve Jobs medical leave hoopla:

“Steve Jobs is the Ronald McDonald of Apple, he is the face,” said Rob Enderle of Silicon Valley research company Enderle Group. “They either need to redefine the company so his role is divided among different people or they need to find somebody that can clone Steve Jobs.”

So Enderle either (a) believes that McDonald’s was founded by a man named Ronald McDonald; or (b) believes that Jobs’s role at Apple is equivalent to that of a fictional clown.

Lego Hoth Diorama 

Four years in the making, 60,000 Lego pieces. Outstanding. (Via Michele Seiler.)

Balloon Animals Getting It On 

Possible NSFW. Definitely awesome.

(Via Mikey-san.)

Gizmodo’s Brian Lam Comes Unhinged 

Gizmodo editorial director Brian Lam:

Professionally, I think we did what we were supposed to do, and let me be clear, I am proud of the work I did with Jesús Diaz on this series.

But then:

THESE STORIES ARE NOT ABOUT TRAFFIC! WE DON’T EVEN GET TRAFFIC BONUSES ANYMORE! Sure this post is tacky, I don’t care. At this very moment, I am very self aware that I’m being a tacky, angry, crazy person. I just can’t listen to another person miss the point of why it’s shitty to cover Steve’s health like we, the press, have.

Writing about a man’s health, trying to figure out if he’s dying or not by talking to third-party expert doctors, checking statistics for Whipple procedure survival rates and timelines, checking in with sources who know people who know people who have heard that he’s dying—they’re all basically indecent things to do.

I want to apologize to everyone who knows Steve, everyone who’s known anyone who’s been sick that’s been covered in the press, and my parents, who are probably ashamed I’m tracking a man’s health so rabidly at work, and raised me to be better than some journalist/vulture dickhead.

Here’s a hint: When you’re actually proud of your work, rather than just telling yourself you’re proud of it, you sleep well at night.

Why Hulu Is Great 

Honest, open communication from Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. This is how you do it, folks.

(Also, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is a great show. Daring Fireball Seal of Approval winner.)

‘Why Are You Still Here?’ 

I linked to Adam Lashinsky’s profile of Apple COO Tim Cook for Fortune back in November, but it’s worth another link this week:

One day back then, he convened a meeting with his team, and the discussion turned to a particular problem in Asia. “This is really bad,” Cook told the group. “Someone should be in China driving this.” Thirty minutes into that meeting Cook looked at Sabih Khan, a key operations executive, and abruptly asked, without a trace of emotion, “Why are you still here?”

Khan, who remains one of Cook’s top lieutenants to this day, immediately stood up, drove to San Francisco International Airport, and, without a change of clothes, booked a flight to China with no return date, according to people familiar with the episode. The story is vintage Cook: demanding and unemotional.

Hoefler & Frere-Jones 

My thanks to Hoefler & Frere-Jones, typographers extraordinaire, for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. H&FJ are the makers of some of the world’s best and most popular typefaces, including an enormous number of my own personal favorites. Gotham, Archer, Mercury, Verlag, Knockout — man, I don’t even know where to start. And consider the craftsmanship put into Chronicle Text, which is supplied in four different “grades” for different combinations of ink and paper.

(If you’re using a Mac, you almost certainly already have some of H&FJ’s work on your system. Hoefler Text, an excellent serif text face, has been included with the Mac OS since System 7.5.)

Tweetie 1.2, Now With App Store Popularity EnhancEr (PEE) 

Loren Brichter:

Why buy a dedicated fart app AND a flashlight, when you can have BOTH, and get a TWITTER CLIENT along with it!

Hard to argue with that.

BigStopWatch 1.0 

Beautiful minimalist iPhone stopwatch app by Japanese developer Yuki Yasoshima. Looks great, works great. Free, at the App Store. (Via Peter Hosey.)

(Anyone know what typeface he’s using for the numerals? Update: Huh. Ends up that’s Trebuchet. I’ve long despised that typeface, but I actually like the numerals.)

Walt Mossberg on Steve Jobs’s Health and Apple 

Voice of reason.

This Is Speculation 

I’m inundated with email from readers telling me that Bloomberg is reporting that Steve Jobs is having his pancreas removed. This is not so.

What Bloomberg has published is idle speculation from doctors who have never even met Jobs, let alone examined him, that maybe he needs to have his pancreas removed, and that if so, the most likely reason would be a recurrence of pancreatic cancer. Not one person in this Bloomberg story claims any familiarity with Jobs, his current condition, or even with Apple. Compare and contrast with yesterday’s Times story, where the two sources were identified as people familiar with the treatment Jobs is currently undergoing, both of whom stated that he is being treated for an inability to absorb nutrients from food, and not for a recurrence of cancer.

Maybe Jobs’s pancreas is doing just fine. Maybe it is riddled with tumors and he’s having it removed right now, as I type this. I don’t know. But neither does Bloomberg, or the doctors they’ve quoted. And yet thanks to their “reporting”, there are now untold thousands of people who now believe it is a fact that his pancreas is being removed.

Yahoo’s New CEO: Carol Bartz 

The other big CEO news of the week.

Joe Nocera: ‘It’s Time for Apple to Come Clean’ 

Joe Nocera, the NYT financial columnist who got the infamous “I think you’re a slime bucket” call from Steve Jobs back in July:

I can even understand why he doesn’t want to disclose details about his medical problems to the world — it’s very distasteful, and Mr. Jobs also believes strongly that it’s nobody’s business except his and his family’s.

But he’s wrong. There are certain people who simply don’t have the same privacy rights as others, whether they like it or not. Presidents. Celebrities. Sports figures. And, at least in terms of his health, Steve Jobs. His health has become a material fact for Apple shareholders. His vagueness about his health, his dissembling, his constantly changing story line — it is simply not an appropriate way to act when you are the most important person at one of the most high-profile companies in America. On the contrary: it is infuriating.

I disagree with Nocera, but his position represents that of the financial community. Just because Nocera’s “infuriated” by Jobs’s refusal doesn’t mean Jobs doesn’t have the right to privacy.

Jim Goldman: ‘What a Difference a Week Makes’ 

CNBC’s Jim Goldman, regarding a story he was working on regarding Steve Jobs’s health:

I sent a very personal note to Steve Jobs about this on Monday. I didn’t hear back. I did get a call from someone at Apple asking about what it was I was working on, in relation to these executives and Jobs’s health status. I confided in this person that if they had read my email to Jobs, they knew what I had. I informed Apple that we were going to try to gather more information, but would like to give Apple, and Jobs, a chance to come forward to respond. That was yesterday. I wanted to give it just a little more time. Apple had to be aware that if colleagues this close to Jobs were beginning to emerge from the shadows to speak to me, chances were very good that these sources and others would be talking to others as well.

I’m not saying we forced Apple’s hand, but I’m sure it contributed in some small way to the release tonight, especially since it was merely a week ago when Jobs issued his other release, ending that one tersely, “So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.”

Something sure happened in the last nine days. The gist of Jobs’s January 5 PR was “I’m being treated but I’m not going anywhere.” The gist of his email today was “I’m going away for six months.” I somehow doubt that Goldman is correct that idle speculation from two industry executives who can no longer get Jobs to answer their phone calls or instant messages is it.

The New York Times’s Policy on Anonymous Sources 

Clark Hoyt, the Times’s public editor:

The policy requires that at least one editor know the identity of every source. Anonymous sources cannot be used when on-the-record sources are readily available. They must have direct knowledge of the information they are imparting; they cannot use the cloak of anonymity for personal or partisan attack; they cannot be used for trivial comment or to make an unremarkable comment seem more important than it is.

Is this proof that Jobs’s problem is not a recurrence of cancer? No. But if you think The New York Times published the aforelinked paragraph lightly, or didn’t measure every single word of it very carefully, you don’t understand how The New York Times operates.

NYT on Steve Jobs 

Brad Stone, reporting for The New York Times:

Two people who are familiar with Mr. Jobs’s current medical treatment said he was not suffering from a recurrence of cancer, but a condition that was preventing his body from absorbing food. Doctors have also advised him to cut down on stress, which may be making the problem worse, these people said.

That’s worth noting.

Text of Jobs’s Email Announcing Medical Leave 

In its entirety:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

Godspeed, Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs on Medical Leave Until June 

The Associated Press:

Apple Inc.’s CEO Steve Jobs says he is taking a medical leave of absence until the end of June. Jobs told employees in an e-mail that his health issues are more complex than he thought. Last week, Jobs announced he had a hormone deficiency that had caused him to dramatically lose weight.

Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, will take over Jobs’ responsibilities while he is on leave.

Palm Pre Introduction Event at CES 

My last bit of non-Macworld catch-up, I think. If you haven’t seen it yet, Palm’s introduction of the Pre is definitely worth watching. I’m impressed. Palm could be shaping back up into just the rival Apple needs.

I have more to say about the Pre, but the thing that struck me the most about it is that it’s a complete and utter break from all previous Palm software. No compatibility whatsoever — which, given just how decrepit the original Palm OS has become, is exactly what they needed to do. But credit to Palm for having the stones to do it.

Casino Profile Details Luxurious Lifestyle of Former Fry’s Executive 

The San Jose Mercury News has obtained a Las Vegas Casino profile for Ausaf “Omar” Umar Siddiqui, the former Fry’s Electronics executive who’s in a bit of trouble for embezzling millions to pay for his gambling debts:

When “Mr. S” showed up in Las Vegas, bellboys, butlers and blackjack dealers made sure they were prepared for the high-rolling Fry’s Electronics executive flying in from San Jose with his long list of demands.

Fiji water, grouped in bottles of three. Golden raisins and warmed mixed nuts. Aramis cologne and badger hair shaving brush. Lint-free towels. Dom Perignon Rose champagne and Kurosawa Sake in the fridge. And never, under any circumstances, approach him from behind.

What the fuck.

Hackintosh Videos: Wired or Tired? 

Another one from Jason Snell, this time regarding Apple’s legal department sending a complaint to Wired regarding “some articles and videos related to hacking PCs to run Mac OS X”. Wired’s Brian Chen reported on Twitter today that Apple was suing Wired, but he later retracted that — it appears to be a cease-and-desist request.

What apparently raised Apple’s ire was a video by Chen containing explicit step-by-step instructions for installing Mac OS X 10.5 on an MSI Wind notebook. Wired has pulled the video, but Gizmodo is hosting a copy.

Gallup: Bush Presidency Closes With 34% Approval, 61% Disapproval 

In the post-WWII era, ahead of only Harry Truman and Richard Milhous Nixon. The most popular, of course, was Bill Clinton.

Obama’s Official Presidential Portrait Released 

First presidential portrait with EXIF data? DF reader Charles Vestal reports that the EXIF data reveals:

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, taken 2009:01:13 17:38:39

No flash, 105.0mm focal length, 1/125 exp, f/10.0, ISO100

Quick turnaround.

Jackass of the Week: John Cox 

John Cox:

The Pre’s big screen: 3.1 inches, with 320 × 480 pixels. That compares to the 3.5-inch iPhone screen, also at 320 × 480. Apple touts the 163 pixels per inch of the display; a Palm PR spokeswoman had no details of the Pre’s ppi number.

Mr. Cox, the Pythagorean Theorem is calling, and it wants to know if you’ve heard of it. You haven’t? … It says you should have learned about it in seventh grade, and it’s all rather simple, you could work it all out on a calculator in about 30 seconds or so… No? Nothing? Not ringing a bell? OK, well, the theorem says the answer is about 186 ppi, give or take a pixel per inch or two, and that it weeps for the state of the American education system.

(Alternative basic math solution: (3.5 / 3.1) × 163 = 184 ppi.)

Advertising Age Interview With Macworld’s Jason Snell 

Great interview with Macworld chief Jason Snell:

I think the entire idea of a “replacement” for Steve Jobs is misguided. Let’s just all admit that Jobs is a unique sort of franchise player. He does a lot of things really well. If he were to reduce his role at Apple for whatever reason — I like to imagine that someday he’ll just buy a tropical island like a James Bond villain and retire — he will not be replaced by any one person, but by different people in different roles. Tim Cook appears to be the operations and management guy, the adult supervision. Jonathan Ive has a similar design taste to Jobs. Phil Schiller actually does a pretty good job as a demo guy — I think most tech companies would love having Phil Schiller be their keynote guy. Jonathan Ive is a brilliant designer — I don’t think he needs to be a CEO or good with a clicker on stage in front of thousands of people.

Couldn’t agree more. There is no reason why the CEO has to be Chief Showman.

Palm WebOS and Third Party Applications 

Andrew Shebanow (formerly of Adobe) is now working at Palm:

The main thing I’m responsible for is third party application distribution, and although we’re fairly far along in this area, its not too late for your input to count. So let me know what you’d like to see and/or not see. Here are a few questions to get things rolling, in no particular order.

Good questions. I don’t recall seeing anyone from Apple seek feedback from the developer community on a single one of these issues regarding the iTunes App Store.

Update: Shebanow has yanked the original post:

The popularity of my post has caught me and Palm by surprise, and my boss has asked me to hide the post while management decides what they want me to do about it.

Update 2: It’s been re-posted to the official Palm Developer Network weblog.

More on Google’s New Favicon 

I’m with Andy Baio — I like the original version submitted by student André Resende better.

The Remnants 

Web pilot written and directed by John August during the writers strike last year. Cast includes Ze Frank and Justine Bateman. Love the bit about the surface texture of refrigerators.

Safari RSS Security Vulnerability 

Brian Mastenbrook:

I have discovered that Apple’s Safari browser is vulnerable to an attack that allows a malicious web site to read files on a user’s hard drive without user intervention. This can be used to gain access to sensitive information stored on the user’s computer, such as emails, passwords, or cookies that could be used to gain access to the user’s accounts on some web sites. The vulnerability has been acknowledged by Apple.

Choose a default RSS reader other than Safari (in Safari’s preferences) and you should be safe.

Update: Mastenbrook has updated his advisory, indicating that you need to do more. Download RCDefaultApp and disable or change the assignments for the “feeds:” and “feedsearch:” URL schemes, too (that’s in addition to the “feed:?” scheme, which is what gets changed when you use Safari’s preference to set the default RSS reader).

Feltron Eight 

What a great tradition.

Google Quick Search Box 

New Mac utility from Google: Quick Search Box. Sort of like a cross between Quicksilver and the iPhone Google Search app. The Quicksilver similarities aren’t surprising — one of the Google engineers responsible for Quick Search Box is Quicksilver auteur Nicholas Jitkoff. It’s like a re-thinking of Quicksilver from the ground up, with a lot less fiddliness.

Calling it a “developer preview” seems apt at this point, though — it hung on my machine several times in the hour or so I’ve been trying it. Lots of promise though, including a plugin system that, as far as I can tell, isn’t yet documented anywhere. (Look inside the app bundle and you’ll see that most of its features are implemented as plugins.)

Remember When Slashdot Carried Cutting-Edge, Breaking News? 

Also: remember when Slashdot was relevant?

Update: Here’s a story from Slashdot two years ago regarding this same topic.

Runnin’ With the Songsmith 

Not sure why people are making fun of Songsmith, sounds great to me.

Apple at CES? 

I’m with Tom Krazit on this: I think it’s very unlikely Apple would want anything to do with CES. I think it’s far more likely that these rumors are plants from CES, in an attempt to draw third-party exhibitors from Macworld Expo next year, than that they’re true.

I see no reason to doubt what Phil Schiller told David Pogue last week: January is just a bad month for Apple and they just don’t care about trade shows any more.

By Any Other Name 

Mandy Brown:

The ebook is an experiment, a study of possibilities, an idea in search of a name.

(Via Jason Santa Maria.)

Microsoft Songsmith 

“Microsoft, huh? So it’s pretty easy to use?”

David Letterman’s Top 10 George W. Bush Moments 

I just keep watching over and over.

Jason Santa Maria Leaves Happy Cog 

Zeldman’s take is, as usual, a must-read.

Happy Birthday, HAL 

“I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.”

What Are You Looking at Dicknose 

The shirt was a gift from my lovely wife.

Macworld Podcast: Expo Analysis 

Hour-long podcast discussing this week’s Expo news and events, hosted by Macworld’s Dan Moren, and featuring John Moltz, Paul Kafasis, and yours truly, recorded right on the show floor Wednesday afternoon.

BT-1 Bluetooth Webcam for Mac 

One of Macworld magazine’s Best of Show winners for this week’s Expo, and one of my favorite new products as well: a small $150 Bluetooth webcam that just works.

The MacBook Wheel 

The biggest complaint is that the battery isn’t removable.

Macworld Expo Best of Show 2009 

Good list of new product highlights from the editors of Macworld magazine.

Speaking Tomorrow at Macworld Pulse 

So there’s a new full-day session at Macworld this year called Pulse, with a great list of speakers including Merlin Mann, Andy Ihnatko, Craig Hockenberry, Adam Engst, and me. Each talk is just 20 minutes long — short and punchy, one right after another. I go on at 11 am.

(Wish I could link directly to a Macworld Conference page specifically about the Pulse sessions, but I can’t seem to find one.)

Regarding Pre Pricing 

Peter Kafka on the Pre:

The biggest unknown is price, which went unmentioned during the demo. My assumption is that Palm would try to take market share by coming in significantly lower than the $200 or so Apple wants for its iPhone. But when I ran that theory by Palm CEO Ed Colligan, he looked at me liked I’d peed on his rug. “Why would we do that when we have a significantly better product,” he asked, then walked away.

Translation: Bargain hunters are going to be disappointed.

If they’re going to charge a higher price than the iPhone’s, users are going to expect a better phone than the iPhone.

Palm Pre 

Palm unveiled their next-generation mobile device today at CES: a phone called the Pre running a new WebKit-based software platform they’re calling “WebOS”. The gist, from a software standpoint, is that all the apps are written as client-side web apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Hardware-wise, it’s an iPhone-style touch screen with a hardware keyboard that slides out underneath — but in portrait, not landscape.

No word yet on price, and they don’t expect to ship it until later this year. The biggest technical challenge, I think, is going to be performance. If it’s fast enough, though, this could be good.

‘All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy’ 

Phil Buehler has published Jack Torrance’s novel from The Shining. It’s a funny idea, but I wish the cover played it straight.

Update: Ah, there is in fact an alternate cover design. Much better.

CES: New SD Standard Will Allow for 2TB Cards 

From CES:

The SD Association announced the SDXC (extended capacity) memory card specification, which could drive up the size of Secure Digital Memory cards to 2TB. Initial SD cards released by manufacturers based on the specification will provide storage capacity of 64GB, said Rex Sabio, co-chairman of SDA.

‘The Noises Rest’ 

“When the Silent Film Institute calls, your phone doesn’t ring. You just have to know when to pick it up.”

Clint Ecker on the AppleScript Support in Numbers and Pages ’09 

Good news:

With iWork ’09, some of these deficiencies have been remedied. Users still don’t have the unlimited (maybe too extensive?) power of Excel and VBA, but the foundation has been duly laid in both Numbers and Pages ’09, allowing developers and individuals with AppleScript prowess to automate almost any aspect of either application.

Sebastiaan de With on the New UI Details in iWork and iLife ’09 

Good analysis along with a copious number of screenshots.

State of the DSLR Market, January 2009 

Neat collage from Derek K. Miller showing nearly 40 digital SLR (or sort-of SLR) cameras on the market today.

How Many Mac Users Use Microsoft Office? 

Todd Bishop:

About 77 percent of Mac users in the U.S. are running Microsoft’s Office for Mac, the Redmond company said today.

I know Office for Mac is a huge seller, but 77 percent sounds crazy high to me.

Piling On 

The Macalope:

Was it a great keynote? Well, no. Phil Schiller actually did a great job delivering it. Has anyone watched CEOs from other companies? They’d be lucky to have their keynotes delivered by Schiller, let alone Jobs. Apple followers are spoiled.

The problem is he just didn’t have that much to announce. But expecting pie-in-sky items like new iPhones and iPods is just jackassery in the third degree.

BusyCal 

BusyCal is an upcoming (“available in spring 2009”) $40 calendaring app from the makers of the excellent BusySync. Ballsy move, making a competitor to the free iCal.

iPhoto ’09 and Domain Language 

Ryan Singer on iPhoto ’09:

Apple realized that people don’t just want to find photos. Go back to iPhoto’s domain: it’s that situation where you have a bunch of photos and you want to look at them and share them. When you’re in that situation, you don’t just want to see random photos. You want to see and share photos of certain things.

‘Objectified’ Trailer 

Looks great.

Up Is Down 

Bizarre piece from Nicholas Carlson at Silicon Alley Insider yesterday, claiming that Gizmodo “got the story right” about Steve Jobs’s health. The report with the headline that read “Steve Jobs’s Health Declining Rapidly”, and included this quote from their “trusted source”:

Steves [sic] health is rapidly declining. Apple is choosing to remove the hype factor strategically vs letting the hype destroy apple [sic] when the inevitable news comes later this spring.

So Apple issues statements from Jobs and from the board of directors which indicate that the cause of his weight loss has been identified and is being treated and that he expects to be in better shape within a few months — and somehow this proves that Gizmodo was right about a report which stated that his health is “rapidly declining” leading to some dreadful “inevitable news later this spring”? What the fuck.

Windows Executables Inside Picasa App Package? 

A MacInTouch reader poked around in the app bundle and found Windows .exe’s. No wonder it looks so weird. Update: Doesn’t seem like the app is a WINE translation, as the MacInTouch reader speculates.

Macworld’s Keynote Coverage 

Snell and Moren’s live coverage had a good mix of play-by-play and commentary.

iWork ’09 

Another good overview of new features, with a separate page describing iWork.com. You know it’s a Web 2.0 because it’s clearly labeled “Beta” right in the logo.

I wonder how iWork.com displays fonts that aren’t present on the client side?

iLife ’09 

Includes extensive guided tours showing the new features in iPhoto and iMovie.

So I Graded My Macworld Predictions 

I predicted iLife, iWork, and the 17-inch MacBook Pro, but, as usual, I predicted a slew of other fanciful things that didn’t pan out. (It occurs to me that if everything I predicted had been included, it would have been a six-hour keynote.)

Kids Who Smoke: A Pictorial 

Kids just aren’t as cool as they used to be.

MacHeist 

My thanks to MacHeist for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. There’s something going on at the web site this week where you get a “mission”, solve puzzles, and then you get free software as a reward. You get the outliner Process (regularly $39) for free just for signing up.

DRM-Free Music at iTunes Store 

As of two minutes ago, it appears you can now buy music from iTunes from your iPhone over EDGE and 3G, not just Wi-Fi.

Even better: all the music in the store appears to be DRM-free now. I’m guessing Phil Schiller will announce it later on in the keynote. Maybe this is the “one more thing”?

Update: It’s official.

Update 2: During the keynote, Schiller specifically said music was now downloadable over “3G networks”, but I was right — it works over EDGE too.

Live Tweetage 

Doesn’t seem like Twitter is holding up well, but I’m jotting notes from the keynote there.

Macworld Expo Predictions From Previous Years 

My predictions from last year, plus those from 2007 and 2006.

Google Releases Picasa for Mac 

Quite an odd visual theme. Doesn’t really look like a Mac app at all.

Cue the Complaints 

Chuq Von Rospach on the non-removable 17-inch MBP battery rumor.

Statement From Apple Board 

Translation: If Jobs were terminally ill, or otherwise unable to do his job, Apple’s board would make it known.

Steve Jobs Issues Letter Regarding His Health 

He’s suffering from a “hormone imbalance” that apparently wasn’t diagnosed until recently, and expects to regain his weight within a few months.

Good news and well-said. The closing paragraph is pure Jobs.

First Comes Power 

Interesting argument from Sean Devine, that the current App Store balance, which tilts in favor of quantity over quality, works in Apple’s favor:

The KEY to maximizing iPhone profit is to create very high switching costs for users, just as they did for the iPod via the iTunes Music Store. Apple is using the App Store to create switching costs, and they know that if all of their users have “invested” in many little applications that will only work on the iPhone (a la songs from the iTunes Music Store), they will eventually have users locked in to a long-term investment in the iPhone franchise. The profit from the successful execution of the iPhone franchise strategy will dwarf any amount of profit that they could suboptimize if they focused on what was best for the iPhone application development community.

I can see how this might be the case, and the whole essay is worth a read. But, just playing devil’s advocate, I’d say the counter-argument is obvious: there is no stickiness with truly inconsequential apps. Are people really going to be less likely to switch to a phone other than the iPhone just because their fart joke apps won’t run on the new phone? The sweet spot is clearly somewhere between quantity and quality — not just many apps, but many apps that you feel like you can’t do without.

Bleeping Expletives 

William Safire on the difference between profanities, obscenities, expletives, and vulgarities, in the context of everyone’s favorite foul-mouthed Illinois governor.

Rogue Amoeba: Pulsar 

New app from Rogue Amoeba, lets you tune satellite radio from both XM and Sirius. You still need a (paid) account from XM or Sirius, but Pulsar works far better on the desktop than either of XM’s or Sirius’s official, clumsy, web-based clients. Pulsar works great with the XM account I have for my car.

Introductory price is just $15, and, even better, during this introductory period Rogue Amoeba is making Pulsar available for free for anyone with a license to any other Rogue Amoeba product.

Mike Ash on Private APIs 

Mike Ash:

One extreme is that private APIs should never be used, period, full stop. They’re bad, don’t want to touch them, don’t even acknowledge that they exist. The other extreme is that they’re fine and dandy, use them like you’d use anything else.

As with most things, I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But where, exactly, and how do you determine if something is worth using?

Acorn 1.5 

Free update to Flying Meat’s excellent up-and-coming $50 image editor. The big new feature is the all-new brush tool (and custom brush designer). Full release notes here.

‘I Shipped All That Shit Off to Stanford’ 

Steven Levy:

It’s the 25th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh, but Steve Jobs’ eyes are dry. At the company headquarters in Silicon Valley, where he was presenting a set of new laptops to the press last October, I mentioned the birthday to him. Jobs recoiled at any suggestion of nostalgia. “I don’t think about that,” he said. “When I got back here in 1997, I was looking for more room, and I found an archive of old Macs and other stuff. I said, ‘Get it away!’ and I shipped all that shit off to Stanford. If you look backward in this business, you’ll be crushed. You have to look forward.”

I think this attitude is one of the keys to Jobs’s long-term success.

(Via Chris Foresman.)

Bells and Whistles 

Nicholas Jitkoff hints at Google Mobile’s secret “Bells and Whistles” settings panel. Useful — I actually like being able to open web pages within the app itself.

According to Ars 

Erica Sadun:

In order to unlock a 3G iPhone, you’ll need to upgrade your iPhone to baseband 02.28.00. This is the baseband that ships with the latest 2.2 firmware update from Apple. It’s also the baseband and update that the dev team (and we here at Ars) have been warning you not to upgrade to.

So now it’s Ars Technica policy to recommend that users not upgrade their iPhones until jailbreak experts say so? Great advice.

Update: They’ve edited the above-quoted paragraph, removing the “(and we here at Ars)” parenthetical.

Delicious Library 2 

My thanks to Delicious Monster for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Delicious Library 2, their award-winning tool for cataloging your books, movies, software, toys, tools, electronics, and video games. Sounds dull, I know — who ever says “Let’s go catalog stuff for fun”, right? But just one look at a screenshot and you can see that Delicious Library is, at the very least, not dull. It’s got more of an Apple-style user interface than many of Apple’s own apps.

Delicious Library sells for $40, and you can purchase it, and find out more information, at their web site. Delicious Monster is also exhibiting at next week’s Macworld Expo in booth 2602, where, supposedly, they’re going to have something new to show.

Chuq von Rospach on Macworld Expo From Inside Apple 

Long piece by Chuq von Rospach for The Guardian:

Even two years after I left Apple, I still feel like I celebrate two Christmases: the one I celebrate with my family, and the one in January that we celebrate when Steve Jobs gets up on stage and says: “I have a few things to show you today that I think you’ll really like.”

Exploded Phone 

Sweet new t-shirt. Just bought one.

JPG Magazine Goes Under 

JPG Magazine never seemed quite the same after 8020 forced out founding editor Derek Powazek in May 2007. Can’t say I’m sad, or surprised, that they didn’t survive, but it was a grand idea.

David Chartier Reviews the Incase Power Slider Battery Backup for iPhone 3G 

Sort of the opposite approach of the Richard Solo backup batteries.

Pre-MWSF Rumor of the Week 

Seth Weintraub:

I’ve heard that iMovie will largely (if not entirely) be a Web Application and Apple would offer its users to “upload your movies to us and edit them there.”

Sure, iMovie as a web app. Uh-huh. Slogan: And you thought USB was slow.

Weintraub has also reported that the iWork ’09 apps are going to be web apps too. (I like how, when linking to the one and only report of iWork-suite-as-web-apps, which is his own report, that he says the move is “largely believed”.)

There may well be a germ of truth in here — some sort of online web-based document viewing/editing for iWork document formats (tied to MobileMe, perhaps?). But the idea that these top-line iWork and iLife apps are going web-based strikes me as impossible. The whole appeal of the iWork suite is that the user experience is extremely polished; nothing web-based comes even close to the polish of iWork ’08 today. The way Apple stays ahead of the web app trend is by creating native Cocoa experiences that can’t be duplicated in web apps — both on the Mac and iPhone.

AppleScript 1-2-3 

New AppleScript book co-authored by long-time AppleScript experts Sal Soghoian and Bill Cheeseman. Soghoian is the AppleScript product manager at Apple, and Cheeseman is the author of the amazing GUI scripting developer tool UI Browser.

Cause of Zune 30 Leap Year Problem 

A bug in the code to handle leap years leads to an infinite loop. (Via Michael Tsai.)

Apple Redirecting Some Web Pages to Wikipedia 

Interesting: Apple is redirecting requests for apple.com/hypercard to Wikipedia’s HyperCard entry.

Broken Record 

Phillip “The Swanni” Swann, in his predictions for 2009:

In 2009, dismal sales of Net TV set-tops will turn into non-existent sales, no matter how many different ways the products are promoted. So, I predict that Vudu will close its doors in 2009 and Apple’s Steve Jobs will finally call it quits on his least favorite hobby, Apple TV.

Predicted same thing last year. And in 2007.

(Via MacDailyNews.)

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