Linked List: July 2009

HexFiend 2.0 

Peter Ammon has released a major update to HexFiend:

This app is about exploring the implementation of standard desktop UI features in the realm of files too large to fully read into main memory. Is it possible to do copy and paste, find and replace, undo and redo, on a document that may top a hundred gigabytes, and make it feel natural? Where do we run into trouble?

Cultured Code 

My thanks to Cultured Code for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Things, their excellent, award-winning task management app for Mac OS X and iPhone. It’s no exaggeration to say that Things sports one of the most influential UI designs in recent years.

They have a coupon code for DF readers, but it’s in the form of a riddle:

When we designed Things — our powerful yet easy to use personal task management application — we followed the lead of a well known great mind, who said:

“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.”

If you guess our coupon code, you can get 20% off in our online store this week.

He’s Like Grand Moff Tarkin Come to Life 

The NYT:

Mr. Ballmer defended Microsoft’s position in other markets. He laughed off Apple as a minuscule player in the computing market and mocked some of Google’s efforts to develop software to run on PCs.

“Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.”

Ian Betteridge Says I’m Wrong About Microsoft 

Ian Betteridge:

Windows 7 isn’t a mediocrity. It’s good. It’s not going to get Mac users to switch, but it is going to stop a lot of Windows users from switching. And, more importantly from Microsoft’s perspective, something that will persuade the legions of their most important customers - IT managers - that it’s time to move on from Windows XP.

I say that’s a low bar.

Harry McCracken: ‘Will Windows 7 Win Back Defectors to the Mac? Probably Not. and That’s OK.’ 

Harry McCracken:

But Gruber wasn’t talking about whether Windows 7 will stop more people from leaving Windows; he was talking about whether it’ll convince Mac users to switch from Macs, and saying that if Windows 7 is really good, it will.

I’m not so sure. History suggests that people don’t like to switch operating systems and the most striking significant shifts in operating-system market share have happened when one OS has been on alarmingly shaky ground. Back when the exodus from Macs to Windows 95 and Windows 98 that Gruber refers to happened, Apple’s OS was floundering and it wasn’t clear that the company was going to survive. And Apple has made major inroads over the past couple of years in part because Windows Vista was such a mediocrity.

It’s not so much that if Windows 7 were good, it would attract some Mac users, but rather that if Microsoft were driven by technologists rather than sales and marketing guys, they would be hungry to build an OS that wins those switchers back. It’s not that they need those customers, but that they used to drive the industry’s technical agenda, and now they don’t.

iPhone OS 3.0.1 

Fixes the SMS vulnerability.

Ridley Scott to Direct ‘Alien’ Prequel 

This should be good.

Steve Ballmer on Apple and PC Pricing 

Several of the objections to my “Microsoft’s Long, Slow Decline” piece (e.g. here) are arguments that Microsoft wants PC selling prices to continue to drop. That’s just not so. Peter Burrows reports on Microsoft’s financial analysts meeting:

I’m at Microsoft’s financial analysts meeting in Redmond, where Ballmer joked about the many Apple laptops in use by the financial analysts in the room. “We have low share in the investor community. I see a lot of Apple logos,” he said during his opening remarks. “Don’t bother to hide them. I’ve already counted them. And it’s okay—feel free [to use the Macs], so long as you’re running Office.”

And:

Of course, Ballmer also explained that the company’s goal is to raise PC prices in the next year. That’s due both to expected popularity of a new class of higher-end and higher-priced netbooks, a new pricing strategy around Windows 7 that the company hopes will result in far more upgrades to premium SKUs, and a reversal of a strategy in the last year to cut prices to spur demand in emerging countries. “The theory was wrong,” said Ballmer, in that Microsoft didn’t tap enough untapped demand to compensate for the price hit. “You’ll see us address the theory. We’re going to readjust those prices north” with Windows 7.

Hacker News Thread on ‘Microsoft’s Long, Slow Decline’ 

Many thoughtful remarks, both in agreement and disagreement.

Motorola Is Betting on Android 

Om Malik interviews Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha:

As part of our conversation, Dr. Jha stressed that handset makers need to pick a single smartphone OS and devote resources to it in order to win. He pointed to Nokia and Symbian, Apple and its iPhone OS and RIM’s BlackBerry OS. He used that logic to justify why his company was betting the farm on Google’s Android. Why? Because it’s the best option for the company right now.

I’d love to see a Motorola comeback. Ditching Windows Mobile and focusing on Android sounds smart to me.

Steven Frank Has Had Enough 

Steven Frank:

I haven’t heard a single explanation for the rejection of the Google Voice app that makes a shred of sense at all. […]

My position is not that every app should be approved — it’s that rejected apps should be rejected for reasons that at the very least make consistent, logical sense, without garbage form-letter rejection notices that explain nothing, and with at least some sort of guidance available to the developer about how to fix the problem instead of meeting them with a brick wall.

“Consistent, logical sense” gets right to the heart of it. He’s putting his money where his heart is and switching to a Palm Pre.

Licensing Issue Threatens to Shut Skype 

So let me get this straight. eBay paid $2.6 billion for Skype, but that didn’t include the licensing rights to the core technology?

Un-Humble Opinions 

Remember the piece I linked to earlier this week on research suggesting that people prefer advice from a confident source, regardless how accurate the source has been in the past? Davin O’Dwyer had a good piece on the same subject in The Irish Times last month:

At first, this quirk of human psychology sounds like an interesting nugget of pop science, until you consider the cumulative cost of this cognitive error. If the result of this psychological quirk were restricted to football commentators embarrassing themselves before a Champions League final, no harm done. Unfortunately, the implications are rather more profound, and dangerous.

David Pogue’s Take Back the Beep Campaign 

David Pogue:

Last week, in The Times and on my blog, I’ve been ranting about one particularly blatant money-grab by U.S. cellphone carriers: the mandatory 15-second voicemail instructions.

Also interesting:

iPhone owners’ voicemail doesn’t have these instructions — Apple insisted that AT&T remove them.

Brent Simmons: ‘Anatomy of a Feature’ 

“Oh, it’s easy.”

WSJ: Never Mind 

The WSJ has posted an update to Ben Charny’s “Apple at CES 2010” story:

Correction: It is not clear whether Apple will attend the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. This post previously stated that Apple would attend.

Security Researchers to Unveil iPhone SMS Exploit 

Elinor Mills:

Researchers have discovered a way to take complete control over an iPhone merely by sending special SMS messages and demonstrated it on my iPhone at the Black Hat security conference on Wednesday.

Spooky, to say the least.

The Windows 7 Upgrade Story 

Walt Mossberg on the differences between the many versions of Windows 7, and how to upgrade to them:

However, there’s another complication. For each of the three main consumer versions of Windows 7, there are actually two editions. One is meant for PCs with standard processors, called 32-bit processors, and the other for PCs that sport newer processors called 64-bit processors. The 32-bit version of Windows can recognize only 3 gigabytes of memory, but the 64-bit version can use much, much more. For most average users, 3 gigabytes is plenty, but some consumers have 64-bit Vista machines, which can move faster when lots of programs are being used at once, or when doing tasks like playing back high-definition video.

The problem is that you cannot directly upgrade 32-bit Vista to 64-bit Windows 7, or vice versa. So that adds another layer of complexity to the upgrade process.

iPhone Application Design Patterns 

Mike Rundle’s thoughtful analysis of the most common iPhone app design patterns.

Apple KnowledgeBase: ‘Unauthorized Modification of iPhone OS Has Been a Major Source of Instability, Disruption of Services, and Other Issues’ 

Apple support article:

This article is about adverse issues experienced by customers who have made unauthorized modifications to the iPhone OS (this hacking process is often called ”jailbreaking”). Issues that have been encountered include instability, disruption of services, and compromised security.

Not sure if this article is new, but it was just modified.

How to Tell if Your Intel-Based Mac Has a 32-Bit or 64-Bit Processor 

Core Solo and Core Duo: 32-bit.
Core 2 Duo and Quad-Core Xeon: 64-bit.

Tom Insam: ‘It’s Hard to Like Android’ 

Tom Insam on the little annoyances in Android:

Linux vs Windows/MacOS, all over again. You gain Freedom by using an open platform, making life worse for yourself in a thousand tiny ways, any one of which can easily be dismissed, so they are. But it’s still worse.

MarketWatch: Microsoft’s Zune Continues to Struggle 

Sales are way down, and they weren’t high to begin with.

Ryan Block on Apple and CES 

Block calls bullshit on Ben Charny’s odd report that Apple is attending:

Unfortunately, it’s also specious and flatly wrong. I was seated directly across from Gary, and present for the entire conversation, wherein a dozen or so other journos chatted with him and one another. […] At no point did Gary even remotely imply that Apple would be present at a future CES — let alone state flatly that Apple “will be there” in 2010. In fact, at one point, someone asked if, hypothetically, Apple did want to attend CES, whether the CEA could accommodate them. Gary said flatly that if pressed, they might be able to come up with a small 2,000 square foot booth, but they couldn’t do anything, say, Microsoft-sized on such short notice.

The Gary in question is Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the CEA, the trade group that puts on CES.

WSJ: Apple to Exhibit at CES 2010 

Ben Charny, reporting about CES for the WSJ Digits weblog:

Apple plans to attend the show’s 2010 version, marking the first time in memory the Cupertino, Calif., consumer-electronics giant will be there.

Stated as fact, but there’s been no such announcement. There have been rumors, but no announcements. Interesting.

Justin Williams: ‘Where Do I Sign Up?’ 

iPhone developer Justin Williams:

With the latest app rejection being Google Voice, I am one step closer to selling off my iPhone products and focusing entirely on the Mac once more. I can’t help but feel that I’ve wasted the past 9 months of my life building on a platform that is so hostile and anti-developer.

And he makes a strong point here:

Rather than saying duplicating functionality, I wish Apple would just own up and say why they are really rejecting these apps: they compete with existing Apple products or Apple’s carrier partners. Google Voice and GV Mobile compete with Apple & AT&T by offering an alternative to hefty minute and SMS plans.

This “duplicate functionality” explanation is worse than no explanation at all, because it just can’t be the true reason. If “duplicate functionality” were disallowed, there’d be no third-party note apps, or timers, or calculators. If Apple is not willing to say that they removed Google Voice apps because AT&T required them to (and who knows, perhaps their contract with AT&T prevents Apple from saying so), it’d be better if they just said “We will not explain the reasons behind this decision” than to offer an explanation that doesn’t make sense.

Layton Duncan: ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ 

Scathing critique of the entire App Store from iPhone developer Layton Duncan. Here, on iTunes Connect:

Any developer who has experienced the business side of the App Store, iTunes Connect, the app submission process, is well aware that there is virtually zero care and attention to detail taken, it barely works for it’s intended purpose, and that lack of care and attention even creeps into the customer facing App Store. Put simply, the whole thing is entirely unprofessional, bordering on incompetent, and Apple should be highly embarrassed by it. The astounding thing is that this is so at odds with what most people expect from Apple: it’s certainly a far cry from the usual obsessive attention to detail in most of it’s consumer facing products.

Earlier in the piece, Duncan focuses on how everything is skewed toward 99-cent prices.

There are exceptions, to be sure. Cultured Code’s Things is $10, and is a consistent top seller in the productivity category. But there’s no denying the overall dollar-store atmosphere.

I’m wondering how much of the problem is that the App Store is built on the foundation and framework of the iTunes Music Store, which was designed from the outset specifically as a venue for selling 99-cent downloads.

MobileMe iDisk App for iPhone 

Works great.

Update: Playing around some more, not so great. Every time I play a QuickTime movie from my iDisk’s Movie folder, the app freezes.

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule 

I so deeply love this simple piece from Paul Graham:

I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you’re a maker, think of your own case. Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.

A day with nothing scheduled, nothing at all, feels like a holiday to me.

Like Talking to a Brick Wall 

Riverturn — the developers of VoiceCentral, one of the Google Voice-based iPhone apps yanked from the App Store yesterday — posted a paraphrased transcript of their phone call with an Apple representative regarding the decision.

AT&T’s Inability to Handle the iPhone 

Spot-on, must-read piece by MG Siegler:

AT&T is constantly promising that network upgrades are coming, but Apple keeps selling more and more iPhones. While it would never admit it, I think it’s beyond time to wonder if AT&T can handle the exclusive iPhone partnership anymore. I’m not saying that the situation would be different had it been Verizon who got the exclusive deal, I’m simply stating what is on everyone’s mind: AT&T is simply not working the way it should be for customers who are paying close to, or in excess of, $100 a month.

Siegler’s piece is titled “Can AT&T Handle the iPhone?”, but it needn’t have been posed as a question. They have shown that they cannot. However much they’ve improved their network over the past two years, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with the growing demand from iPhone users. Coverage here in Philadelphia has gotten far worse over the past few months. iPhone users were unhappy with AT&T’s network quality in 2007; it has only gotten worse since then.

Of course, AT&T is said to be working hard to extend the exclusive deal with Apple beyond next year. But that will be a nightmare for everyone involved. We have no shortage of sources, some very close to Apple, now telling us that as mad as all of us (the customers) are with AT&T, Apple is just as mad, if not more so. Apple can speak in platitudes all it wants during earnings calls about its partnership with AT&T — behind the scenes, trust me, they hear our complaints loud and clear.

Apple slagged AT&T twice during the WWDC keynote, for their inability to offer iPhone users either MMS or tethering. These are not advanced cutting edge mobile phone features. That was seven weeks ago, and AT&T still hasn’t said a peep about making either feature available. Of course Apple is furious. They are dependent on an incompetent partner in their biggest market.

Mind Share vs. Market Share 

Steven Hodson, regarding the iPhone/Google Voice affair:

It is amazing that Apple continues to do business in this heavy handed way and still get away with it. If Microsoft ever did anything like this the howls of outrage would be resonating through the tech world an the Department of Justice would be seeing its phones ringing off the hook.

This is no-longer about a computer manufacturer with a minor market share. We are talking about the iPhone here which is now one of the biggest powerhouses in the mobile computing space. It is at the point that if Apple sneezes everyone runs to grab the Kleenex.

To be clear (and judging from my email yesterday, I haven’t been clear), I think this decision stinks. But it’s bad because it erodes trust in the iPhone platform, not because it’s illegal. The iPhone’s actual market share of the total phone market remains relatively small. Antitrust regulators don’t measure mind share. Microsoft must play by different rules with Windows because Windows is a genuine monopoly. The iPhone isn’t even close to that. And in the meantime, acting like protectionist bastards is not illegal.

(I do think it’s the case, though, that if the iPhone eventually garners a monopoly-sized market share, that the current App Store model will be unsustainable. But I think the current App Store model will prove itself unsustainable in the market long before the iPhone reaches monopoly-size market share. It’s already bursting at the seams.)

Palm’s Pre Can’t Offset Sprint’s Subscriber Losses 

Larry Dignan on Sprint’s dismal quarterly results:

Sprint called the launch of the Palm Pre a success, but it wasn’t enough to offset a net subscriber loss of 257,000 in the second quarter. The subscriber loss, which came amid a churn rate of 2.05 percent, illustrates Sprint’s challenge. The company is launching new handsets—Palm Pre, Samsung Instinct s30, HTC Snap and the BlackBerry Tour—but is still having trouble retaining customers.

Meanwhile, Sprint reported a wider-than-expected second quarter loss, a fact that may be worrisome given the carrier’s big bet on the prepaid market, which includes a bunch of subprime customers.

Related: Verizon will have the Pre starting in “early 2010”.

Microsoft and Yahoo Make Deal for Search 

Pending regulatory approval, Yahoo gives up on its own search and becomes a front-end for Bing.

Simon Willison asks a good question: What happens to the Yahoo Search APIs?

Unofficial Rules of the App Store 

New weblog devoted to “unpublished rules and clarifications from Apple’s App Review team that can cause your iPhone app to be rejected.” (Via Marco Arment.)

Cocksure 

Malcolm Gladwell on the psychology of overconfidence.

Dave Cronin’s Spot-On Criticism of the iPhone Phone App 

This has bothered me for two years now, but I never really thought about just how wrong it is:

Whenever someone calls me, I don’t answer, and the caller leaves a voicemail, a “2” is displayed in the little red circle over the Phone icon on the Home screen. […] Maybe I’m kind of a simpleton, but doesn’t that kind of make it seem like I’ve missed two calls? Or that I’ve got two voicemails?

He makes some good suggestions for how Apple can fix this.

New Scientist: ‘Humans Prefer Cockiness to Expertise’ 

New Scientist:

The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record. Moore argues that in competitive situations, this can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are.

This might be the best explanation of how someone like, say, Rob Enderle continues to be quoted as an expert regarding issues on which he is almost always completely wrong.

(Thanks to DF reader Glenn Cole.)

A Man’s Home Is His Constitutional Castle 

Christopher Hitchens on Henry Louis Gates’s arrest:

It is the U.S. Constitution, and not some competitive agglomeration of communities or constituencies, that makes a citizen the sovereign of his own home and privacy. There is absolutely no legal requirement to be polite in the defense of this right. And such rights cannot be negotiated away over beer.

AT&T’s Special Treatment of the iPhone 

Om Malik on the Google Voice/App Store situation:

Some allege that Apple is doing this at AT&T’s behest. That is just flat-out wrong: If it were true, then Google Voice would be banned on BlackBerry devices that use AT&T as well. As of this morning, everything is working fine on my AT&T-connected Bold (except for the usual dropped calls, of course). And are people forgetting that you need AT&T’s voice network to send and receive Google Voice calls?

Leaving aside my information from an informed source that it was indeed AT&T that got Google Voice pulled from the App Store, Malik’s reasoning does make sense.

But, trust me, it was AT&T’s decision. And this is not the first time AT&T has treated the iPhone differently than other phones they carry. Remember the SlingPlayer app? At AT&T’s behest, the iPhone version was restricted to Wi-Fi, despite the fact that the BlackBerry version works over 3G.

The big difference, of course, is that there is no single BlackBerry store.

Update: It Was AT&T 

I just posted the following correction to today’s earlier piece on the Google Voice/App Store thing:

Well, so much for my speculation. A reliable little birdie has informed me that it was indeed AT&T that objected to Google Voice apps for the iPhone. It’s that simple.

Train Wreck, Eh? 

In the face of ever-more-rampant rumor and speculation that Apple is preparing The Tablet for release, Michael Scalisi has declared it a “train wreck” in a piece for PC World. Yes, it’s a very foolish thing to do, reviewing a product based on nothing more than assumptions and idle speculation.

But really, Scalisi only made one mistake. His list of design and marketing problems faced by any “tablet” computer is accurate. His mistake is assuming that Apple would ship a tablet without having solved these very real problems. How do you type? How do you carry it around? How do you protect the screen from getting scratched? If you’re supposed to watch video on it, how do you prop it up? If you already have an iPhone and a MacBook, what would you need this for?

I have no idea what the answers to any of these questions are. But rest assured that if The Tablet is indeed imminent, Apple does. This thing is like the iPhone before it was revealed. There was a frenzy of speculation and rumor that Apple was poised to announce a mobile phone, but no one had any clue what it was actually going to be like.

William Shatner Performs Palin’s Farewell Speech as Poetry 

See, now this is mockery.

Texting While Driving Raises Crash Risk 23 Times, Study Finds 

Matt Richtel, reporting for the NYT:

The first study of drivers texting inside their vehicles shows that the risk sharply exceeds previous estimates based on laboratory research — and far surpasses the dangers of other driving distractions.

Terrifying.

Steven Frank’s Internet Garage Sale 

Steven Frank introduces Internet Garage Sale, his new “members-only, trust-based online auction site”.

Vanity Fair Copy-Edits Sarah Palin’s Resignation Speech 

Not mockery — it’s an honest attempt to clean up the prose of a very poorly written speech.

Spotify’s iPhone App 

So Spotify has created an iPhone app, and, just like their desktop software, it looks to be very well-designed. Its biggest shortcoming is that, like all third-party iPhone apps, it can’t run in the background, but there’s nothing Spotify can do about that.

But so the big question is whether Apple will accept the app, despite the fact that Spotify is clearly a competitor to the iTunes Store. They should. For one thing, competition is good for Apple. For another, I think rejecting Spotify from the App Store could result in an antitrust investigation from the E.U.

Also worth a look: Spotify’s still-in-progress Android version.

Spotify 

Spotify is a streaming music service available in Europe, but not yet in the U.S. It’s totally legit, they have a huge catalog of popular music, and they seem to have nice software. Service is free with advertising in the U.K., otherwise you can pay for a day pass or monthly premium subscription and listen ad-free.

Check out David Appleyard’s excellent screencast review of the Spotify software and service to see how it works.

Singular ‘They’ 

Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, filling in for the vacationing William Safire, make the case for my beloved singular they in the On Language column in The New York Times Magazine:

The idea that he, him and his should go both ways caught on and was widely adopted. But how, you might ask, did people refer to an anybody before then? This will surprise a few purists, but for centuries the universal pronoun was they. Writers as far back as Chaucer used it for singular and plural, masculine and feminine.

Frank Rich on Walter Cronkite 

Frank Rich:

Moving as it may be to repeatedly watch Cronkite’s famous on-camera reactions to J.F.K.’s death and the astronauts’ moon landing, those replays aren’t the story. It’s a given that an anchor might mist up during a national tragedy and cheer a national triumph. The real test is how a journalist responds when people in high places are doing low deeds out of camera view and getting away with it. Vietnam and Watergate, not Kennedy and Neil Armstrong, are what made Cronkite Cronkite.

TUAW: Promo Codes Again Allowed for 17+ Apps 

One step forward.

‘Tallscreen’ 

It’s been little remarked upon that the ergonomics of the iPhone 3GS are such that it encourages you to shoot video in portrait orientation. Tallscreen is a good name for it.

Suspicious Package 

Speaking of excellent free plugins, Mothers Ruin Software has released Suspicious Package, a Quick Look plugin that lets you examine the contents of Mac OS X installer packages.

Developer Color Picker 

Great free utility by Panic’s Wade Cosgrove: a Mac OS X system-wide color picker panel that lets you copy color values in NSColor, UIColor, CGColorRef, CSS, and HTML styles.

Numbrix (App Store Link) 

My thanks to Parade Magazine and Threemagination for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Numbrix, their new number puzzle game for the iPhone and iPod Touch. New puzzles are added automatically, and I can confirm that it’s both challenging and fun. Currently on sale for $3 on the App Store.

Flynn Lives 

HD trailer for the upcoming Tron Legacy. Phenomenal. I love it. (Thanks to Chris Carlozzi.)

Update: Direct link to 1080p QuickTime version.

Kickstarter and the 1,000 True Fans 

Andy Baio, who recently took the position of CTO at Kickstarter, on their amazing stats to date:

Based on data from the first three months of Kickstarter’s existence, it looks like there’s more than something to it. To date, if a project manages to get to 25% of its funding goal, it has a 94% success rate.

I’m convinced that Kickstarter is really on to something.

The AP, Stuck in a Hole, Digs Deeper 

Richard Perez-Pena, reporting for the NYT on the AP’s latest announcement regarding their attempt to restrict their articles from being linked to or appearing in search results:

Tom Curley, The A.P.’s president and chief executive, said the company’s position was that even minimal use of a news article online required a licensing agreement with the news organization that produced it. In an interview, he specifically cited references that include a headline and a link to an article, a standard practice of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, news aggregators and blogs.

And:

Each article — and, in the future, each picture and video — would go out with what The A.P. called a digital “wrapper,” data invisible to the ordinary consumer that is intended, among other things, to maximize its ranking in Internet searches. The software would also send signals back to The A.P., letting it track use of the article across the Web.

They have no idea what they’re talking about. Seriously, look at this gibberish. Someone just sold the Associated Press a bag of magic beans.

How Palm Re-Enabled iTunes Sync 

Dieter Bohn:

The Pre is now telling your computer that the vendor who made it is Apple. The change here is that with previous versions of webOS, the Vendor ID was “0 × 0830  (Palm Inc.).”  So while previously the Pre identified itself as a “mass storage device” called an iPod, now it’s identifying itself as a “mass storage device manufactured by Apple” called an iPod.

This is a direct violation of the USB licensing agreement. But, in what can only be described as true chutzpah, Palm has preemptively filed a complaint against Apple to the USB Implementors Forum, accusing Apple of misusing the USB Vendor ID.

Dave Winer: ‘What Worked for HBO Won’t Work for News’ 

Dave Winer, responding to David Simon’s essay in Columbia Journalism Review arguing that newspapers must start charging readers for online access:

With all due respect, putting up a “pay wall” is exactly what these organizations don’t need. They need to decentralize, get further out into the world, not hole-up behind a wall and try to tough it out.

What worked for HBO won’t work for the news because HBO is fiction, and news is not. You can take years writing and developing a story on HBO, polish it, cut out parts that don’t support the plot you’ve devised, even drop the series in the middle if you lose interest. That doesn’t happen with the news. News is happening all the time, on its own schedule, all over the place, including many places you don’t have reporters.

I’m working on my own response to Simon’s argument, but I think Winer is correct that the HBO model is fundamentally incompatible with the nature of news.

The Onion Publisher T. Herman Zweibel: ‘Well, I’ve Sold the Paper to the Chinese’ 

Now a subsidiary of Yu Wan Mei Amalgamated Salvage Fisheries and Polymer Injection Corp.

Update: Zuo Xiabing, CEO of Yu Wan Mei Group, has put the newly acquired news-paper back up for sale:

It appears that in America the very business of published news is in the midst of widespread atrophy, and now carries forward as does a sickly and aging man, coughing up blood and gasping for breath and bearing the pronounced stench of inevitable failure.

Why did no one inform us of this?

Mark Hamburg Returns to Adobe 

Jeff Schewe reports:

After over a year spent working at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington offices, Mark Hamburg has resigned from Microsoft to rejoin Adobe Systems, Inc. where he will again be working in the Digital Imaging department. Mark, a former Photoshop Architect and the founding engineer on Lightroom had gone to Microsoft to work on new usability for Windows. His decision to return to Adobe is more a statement of desire to again work on products in the digital imaging realm rather than a more research driven project.

Hamburg is undeniably a rock star. His role at Microsoft, as I understood it, was grand and ambitious: to design a truly next-generation user experience for computer software. I can only assume that his Microsoft experience went poorly.

Flash Security Vulnerability Exploited in PDFs 

Shocking.

HTC Hero Supports Flash in Web Browser; Performance Is ‘Maddening’ 

Engadget’s Joshua Topolsky has a detailed review of the HTC Hero, the new top-of-the-line Android phone and the first to support Flash in the web browser. Here’s a transcript from his video demonstrating loading a web page containing Flash video:

“As you can see, it’s loading a video page, not super content-heavy. We’re on a Wi-Fi network. (Waits.) It’s not really… that snappy. It’s actually… it’s actually kind of maddening waiting for pages to load.”

Flash video playback is so atrociously slow that it doesn’t even look like video — it looks like a slideshow of still images. Shocking, I know.

But yet Topolsky concludes the video by saying “It’s nice to have Flash.”

I’m Starting to Feel Bad for Rob Enderle 

Just a few hours before Microsoft announced their worst quarterly financial report in company history:

“I’m expecting some really good news in terms of outlook for [Microsoft],” Enderle told CNBC. […]

Enderle said Microsoft has been executing well in the last several months. “They brought out a solid advertising campaign,” he said. “Microsoft has always been under-marketing and now they’re marketing well.”

Google Latitude for iPhone, But Only as a Web App 

Google’s Mat Balez, announcing the Google Latitude for iPhone web app:

We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users. After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles.

Translation: Apple rejected their native iPhone app.

Jeff Bezos Apologizes on Amazon’s Behalf for Removal of Books From Kindles 

A big apology for a big mistake, with no minced words. Admirable.

Palm WebOS 1.1 Restores iTunes Syncing 

Palm:

Oh, and one more thing: Palm webOS 1.1 re-enables Palm media sync. That’s right — you once again can have seamless access to your music, photos and videos from the current version of iTunes (8.2.1).

Looks like Palm wants to make it a game. (Via Dieter Bohn.)

$4.99 ‘Super Hits’ Albums at Amazon MP3 

I’m a sucker for these discount greatest hits collections. (Disclosure: make-me-rich affiliate link.)

Apple Releases New Final Cut Studio, All Apps Still Only 32-Bit 

Apple today released new versions of the entire suite of Final Cut Studio apps: Final Cut Pro 7, Motion 4, Soundtrack Pro 3, Color 1.5, and Compressor 3.5. A little birdie tells me that none of these apps are 64-bit compatible yet, and I suspect they’re all still using Carbon. I can’t find any mention of 64-bit compatibility on the Final Cut Studio tech specs page.

At least Adobe was up-front about the latest version of its CS suite still being 32-bit only. And Lightroom 2 shipped a year ago with full support for 64-bit mode, which means Adobe still has more shipping 64-bit “pro” Mac apps than Apple does.

Microsoft Revenue Falls $1B Short of Projections; Shares Tumble After Hours 

Ouch:

The global slump in PC sales left a bigger dent than expected in Microsoft’s earnings in the latest quarter, pushing its sales down by 17 per cent from a year before and its after-tax profits down by 29 per cent.

The software giant’s shares slipped nearly 7 per cent in after-market trading on the news, which came as a setback after signs from other big tech companies that the worst of the downturn might lie in the past.

They’ve just finished their worst fiscal year ever. Or perhaps just their worst year yet.

New Details in Case of Foxconn Employee Suicide 

Evan Osnos, reporting for The New Yorker:

A reporter at the newspaper Southern Daily claims to have viewed surveillance footage of two sessions of Sun’s interrogation and says that they show no evidence that he was beaten or locked up. If true, this would contradict earlier reports in the Chinese press alleging that Sun was beaten.

White Sox Pitcher Mark Buehrle Throws Perfect Game 

Watch this video clip of center fielder Dewayne Wise making a circus catch to rob Gabe Kapler of a home run and preserve the perfect game.

AT&T CEO: iPhone Won’t Be Exclusive Forever 

Ina Fried, reporting for CNet:

“There will be a day when you are not exclusive with the iPhone,” Stephenson said, speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm: Tech conference here. However, he declined to get into details on the company’s negotiations with Apple.

Translation: It’s over.

Bazaar Version Control 

In light of my earlier mention of Mercurial and next-generation version control systems, it’s also worth mentioning Bazaar. Probably even less common than Mercurial, but arguably even more elegant. Part of the reason I’ve procrastinated so long on switching from Subversion is that all three of Git, Mercurial, and Bazaar are tempting. It’s an embarrassment of riches compared to the days when CVS was the only established open source version control system.

See also: Dave Dribin’s “Why I Chose Mercurial”, an excellent and thoughtful comparison of all three from December 2007.

NPD: Apple Has 91 Percent of Market for $1,000+ PCs 

Joe Wilcox on Apple’s growing domination of the high end of the computer market. This is what has Microsoft acting so defensive: Windows still has overwhelming unit sale market share, but it is now almost entirely at the low end of the market.

Think of it this way: You can now predict with a high degree of accuracy whether someone bought a Mac or Windows PC knowing only the price they paid.

PeepCode: Meet Mercurial 

I’ve been dissatisfied with Subversion all along. They set out to make a better CVS than CVS and succeeded, but that was a low bar. The two new revision control systems that have caught my eye are Git and Mercurial. Of the two, Git is more widely-used, but Mercurial seems more elegant. What sealed the deal for me was this $9 screencast on Mercurial by my friend Dan Benjamin. It answers exactly the right questions: why would I want to use Mercurial, and how do I start?

Amazon Acquires Zappos 

Zappos is an amazing company: good prices, great selection, and absolutely top-notch customer service.

The Vanderbilt Republic Foundation 

The Vanderbilt Republic Foundation was founded by a team of professional photography creatives with a shared desire to return attention to the value of the human experience. The VRF’s mission is to increase public awareness of critical arts, cultural, and human rights organizations. The Foundation does this by producing commercial-grade photography shoots with the industry’s most diverse and innovative working creatives.

The VRF’s first project is a four-week-long shoot in Cambodia this October, to document the lives of Cambodian performing arts masters — musicians and artists with cultural roots going back a thousand years, but whose ranks were decimated by Pol Pot’s regime in the late 1970s. It’s a fascinating, deeply moving subject, and I’m proud to announce that I’ve accepted a position on the VRF’s advisory committee.

Watch the movie, read about the project, and consider getting involved. Every donation, no matter the size, helps.

CNBC: Willfully Ignorant? 

MacJournals on CNBC’s influential but erratic coverage of Apple’s financial results.

Apple’s Market Cap Nearly as Big as Google’s 

Speaking of Dan “Fake Steve” Lyons, he has a good summary of Apple’s quarterly results for Newsweek:

Sales of Macintosh computers were strong too, perhaps thanks to a bit of a price cut that Apple introduced during the quarter. Apple sold 2.6 million computers, up 4 percent from last year. With market research analysts expecting the overall PC market to decline by as much as 5 percent this year, “this puts us 7 to 9 percent ahead of the market,” Cook said.

Sales of portable Macs — MacBooks and MacBook Pros — did even better, growing 13 percent in the quarter.

Maybe those Microsoft “Laptop Hunter” ads will kick in next quarter.

Hacked iPhones Share Phone Network ID, Receive Same Push Notifications 

Remember how hacked SIM-unlocked iPhones weren’t getting push notifications? Now there are hacks that enable them, but a side effect of at least one such hack is that push notifications are shared between multiple devices that have applied the hack.

Fake Steve on the True Cost of Chinese Manufacturing 

Fake Steve:

We all know that there’s no fucking way in the world we should have microwave ovens and refrigerators and TV sets and everything else at the prices we’re paying for them. There’s no way we get all this stuff and everything is done fair and square and everyone gets treated right. No way. And don’t be confused — what we’re talking about here is our way of life. Our standard of living. You want to “fix things in China,” well, it’s gonna cost you. Because everything you own, it’s all done on the backs of millions of poor people whose lives are so awful you can’t even begin to imagine them, people who will do anything to get a life that is a tiny bit better than the shitty one they were born into, people who get exploited and treated like shit and, in the worst of all cases, pay with their lives.

Apple Confirms Death of iPhone Worker in China 

Jim Dalrymple:

According to various Chinese media reports, the worker at Chinese manufacturer Foxconn committed suicide last week after a fourth-generation iPhone prototype for which he was responsible went missing.

According to Shanghaiist’s translation, what drove him to jump to his death from a 12-story building was the torture he was going through at the hands of Foxconn security.

Even if the missing prototype was stolen, not lost (and let’s not be naive about how unlikely it would be for someone to lose, Uncle Billy-style, a secret Apple prototype when it’s clear that Foxconn doesn’t exactly chalk such losses up with an “oh, well”), torture is evil. Apple needs to investigate this, publish the results, and if the man was truly tortured, sever ties with Foxconn.

Claim Chowder: Mike Elgan on the Zune and Soapbox 

Mike Elgan, in a piece titled “Why Microsoft’s Zune Scares Apple to the Core” in September 2006:

Microsoft will make the movement of media between Windows, Soapbox and the Zune natural and seamless. […] Apple faces the prospect of competing not with the Zune alone, but with a mighty Windows-Soapbox-Xbox-Zune industrial complex.

Soapbox, of course, is the video sharing site Microsoft killed today.

Apollo 11 Source Code 

Yes, yes, we all know that one iPhone has many times more raw computing power than the entire Apollo program. But here’s how they made it work. (Via Lambda the Ultimate.)

Matt Gemmell’s iPhone Development Emergency Guide 

Excellent fundamental overview of iPhone software development.

Microsoft Closing Would-Be YouTube Rival 

CNet:

Microsoft is closing Soapbox, its onetime video-sharing rival to Google’s YouTube, the company said Tuesday.

I don’t recall ever having heard about this service.

Apple Reports Third Quarter Results 

Revenue and profits are up, Mac unit sales are slightly up, iPod sales are slightly down, and iPhone sales are way way way up.

(On the conference call, Apple stated that iPod Touch sales are up year-over-year, so regular iPod sales must be way down. They don’t usually break out iPod sales by model.)

United Arab Emirates Blackberry Update Was Spyware 

Odd story from the BBC:

An update for Blackberry users in the United Arab Emirates could allow unauthorised access to private information and e-mails. The update was prompted by a text from UAE telecoms firm Etisalat, suggesting it would improve performance.

Instead, the update resulted in crashes or drastically reduced battery life.

Snow Stack — 3D CSS Visual Effects Demo 

Amazing demonstration of 3D CSS transformations from Charles Ying. You need a recent WebKit nightly build (or a recent seed of Snow Leopard) to get the full effect — otherwise, you can watch the movie. What makes it amazing is that it barely budges your CPU meter — almost all the computation is done on the GPU. Source code, and a CoverFlow implementation for MobileSafari, are here on Google Code.

More info, and several other demos, are on the WebKit blog.

Update: Fireballed at the moment; here’s the main link in Google’s cache.

Alex Payne: ‘Fever and the Future of Feed Readers’ 

Thoughtful essay from Alex Payne on Shaun Inman’s new Fever web-based feed reader and the state of feed reading software, including the big question of whether it’s even a good use of one’s time to bother tracking a pile of feeds in the first place.

(For what it’s worth, though, the feeds at DF are more popular now than ever.)

Newsrooms vs. Newspaper Companies 

Mark Bernstein argues that newspapers aren’t overstaffed:

The heavy staffing of traditional newspapers was not the fault of management bureaucracy. It was the fault of technology and distribution.

But he’s talking about the newsrooms. The vast number of reporters and editors and support staff focusing on producing the actual content of the papers. And of course there are a lot of them, and the operation looks unnecessarily large compared to a web-only publication, because a newspaper is a hell of a thing to have to fill up with content 365 days a year.

I’m saying that for however many people there are working in a newspaper newsroom, there are several times more people working for the company in non-editorial positions. The size of the newsroom staff is the least of their problems.

NYT: In 2003, U.S. Withheld Data Showing Cellphone Driving Risks 

The U.S. Department of Transportation withheld information showing just how dangerous it is to use a mobile phone while driving:

That letter said that hands-free headsets did not eliminate the serious accident risk. The reason: a cellphone conversation itself, not just holding the phone, takes drivers’ focus off the road, studies showed.

The research mirrors other studies about the dangers of multitasking behind the wheel. Research shows that motorists talking on a phone are four times as likely to crash as other drivers, and are as likely to cause an accident as someone with a .08 blood alcohol content.

And:

But “my advisers upstairs said we should not poke a finger in the eye of the appropriations committee,” he recalled. He said Mr. Flaherty asked him, “Do we have enough evidence right now to not create enemies among all the stakeholders?”

Those stakeholders, Dr. Runge said, were the House Appropriations Committee and groups that might influence it, notably voters who multitask while driving and, to a much smaller degree, the cellphone industry.

Rich Mogull on the Security Features of the iPhone 3GS 

Rich Mogull:

The iPhone 3GS includes a hardware encryption chip that uses the industry-standard AES 256 protocol (that’s the Advanced Encryption Standard, with a key length of 256 bits). Hardware encryption enables a device - a phone, a hard drive, or what have you - to be nearly instantly wiped by erasing the encryption key stored on the device.

PCalc 1.7 

A detailed review of what’s new in PCalc 1.7 for iPhone.

Apple and RIM Outsmart the Phone Market 

Sara Silver, reporting for the WSJ:

[Apple and RIM] accounted for only 3% of all cellphones sold in the world last year but 35% of operating profits, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Modoff. The disparity will become even starker this year when, he estimates, the two will take 5% of the market in unit terms but 58% of total operating profits.

The graphs are striking. This is the same route Apple has chosen with the Mac: an emphasis on profit share rather than unit sale share.

Apollo 11 Landing on TV as It Aired 40 Years Ago 

Fabulous idea and presentation from Kottke.

Why Japanese Cell Phones Haven’t Gone Global 

Hiroko Tabuchi reports for the NY Times:

The Japanese have a name for their problem: Galápagos syndrome. Japan’s cellphones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands — fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins — explains Takeshi Natsuno, who teaches at Tokyo’s Keio University.

Web Fonts — Where Are We? 

Another good overview of the various and competing proposals for web fonts, from I Love Typography reporting from TypeCon in Atlanta.

Type Sellers, Web Fonts, and Typekit 

Tim Brown on the state of licensing fonts for use on the web. The future of font licensing is being shaped right now.

Serious App Store Doubts  

Marco Arment, in response to Apple’s decision to disallow promo codes for iPhone apps rated 17+, despite the fact that any app that allows access to web content must now carry that rating:

Sure, some issues get fixed. But they’re introducing problems more quickly than they’re fixing them.

The overwhelming big picture success of the App Store — lots of apps, lots of money, and 1.5 billion downloads — is blinding Apple’s executives from these very real problems.

And That’s the Way It Was 

Walter Cronkite dies at 92.

My earliest memory of TV news is simply that Cronkite was the news.

Kottke’s Giant Apollo 11 Post 

Eagle has landed.

VMware Fusion 2.0 

My thanks to VMware for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote VMware Fusion, their excellent virtualization software for the Mac. What I like best about VMware Fusion is that it provides a very Mac-like interface and experience for doing the most un-Mac-like thing possible — running operating systems other than Mac OS X on your Mac.

Lots of people use VMware Fusion to run Windows simultaneously with Mac OS X, and it’s great for that — its ease of use and smooth integration is a big reason why many Windows users have been able to switch to the Mac even if they have a few must-use Windows apps. But you can use VMware to run any x86 operating system. I’ve been using it this week to play with the new Live Android “netbook” OS release, for example.

Amazon Flushes Kindle Editions of Orwell Books Down the Memory Hole 

It’s one thing to stop selling them. It’s something else entirely to remove them from the Kindles of those who already bought them. That this happened with 1984, of all the books that have ever been written, is simply incredible.

(Point of comparison: when apps get yanked from the App Store, they don’t get deleted from the iPhones of people who already bought them.)

Regarding Evernote 

I’ve gotten a slew of nice responses to my piece on Simplenote yesterday, but the most common one is “Why not Evernote?” It’s free, it has over-the-air-syncing, it has native Mac and Windows clients in addition to the web and iPhone apps, and it offers a slew of additional features.

I have no doubt that many people love Evernote. That’s great. But I don’t like it at all. I don’t like the Mac app. I don’t like the web app. And I especially dislike the iPhone app, which, even if I did like it, doesn’t work at all on the iPhone OS 3.1 betas. (I’m sure they’ll fix that before OS 3.1 actually ships, but every app I do depend on runs just fine on the OS 3.1 betas.)

Simplenote is a perfect example of my primary guideline for iPhone UI design:

Figure out the absolute least you need to do to implement the idea, do just that, and then polish the hell out of the experience.

Evernote goes in a very different direction: a long list of features but a janky experience.

Jackasses of the Week: CNN 

40 years after the launch of Apollo 11, one of the greatest achievements in the history of mankind, CNN runs a top-of-the-homepage story lending credence to the tin-foil-hat kooks who claim it was a hoax.

For those of you who are as proud of the Apollo 11 mission as I am, I suggest a few viewings of this clip of Buzz Aldrin punching jackass moon-landing-doubter Bart Sibrel in the face.

Regarding Simplenote’s Icon 

Patrick Rhone:

That said, I do have to take issue with one little thing that I don’t like about Simplenote. I hate the icon. Seriously, it has the most unattractive icon of any app I’ve seen for the iPhone.

It is pretty bad.

Don’t Offer $50 for Your Favorite Feature 

Brent Simmons:

I bet every Mac and iPhone developer (and probably some Windows developers too) has heard this at least once, if not dozens of times, from someone who uses their software: “I will PayPal you $50 right now if you will add this feature for me.”

Note to world: don’t do that!

Bye-Bye Pocketpedia 

Amazon kills another iPhone app for violating their new mobile software licensing terms.

iPhone Developer Craig Hunter on Palm’s WebOS SDK 

Craig Hunter:

While the webOS SDK allows access to raw accelerometer data, it’s limited to a 4 Hz sampling rate (that’s four samples per second). Applications like gMeter and greenMeter need 50-100 Hz to even be practical, and most games need at least 20 Hz for smooth inputs that won’t lag too far behind typical graphics framerates. A low rate of 4Hz is not usable for dynamic motion where high fidelity is desired. Accelerometer support in the webOS is suitable for detecting basic movement of the phone for interface rotation, but that’s about it.

No Kubrick Movie Is Just a Movie: 10 Years After ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ 

Insightful essay by Todd Raviotta marking the 10-year anniversary of Kubrick’s final film. See also: this essay on EWS by Jamie Stuart. (Via Jim Coudal.)

Tweet Push 

Polar Bear Farm’s aptly named Tweet Push is another option for receiving Twitter push notifications on the iPhone. Like the aforelinked Boxcar, it isn’t a full Twitter client itself, but rather acts as a companion to existing iPhone Twitter clients (currently: Tweetie, Twitterrific, Twittelator, and TwitterFon; I’d love to see Birdfeed added to the list).

Tweet Push costs just $1, and includes a month of service. After that, each month costs another $1 via in-app purchasing. Tweet Push offers fine-grained settings — you can turn on notifications for direct messages, mentions, and even your main timeline (presumably for people who follow only a handful of other Twitter users, or, perhaps, for the insane). I’ve been trying it this morning and I like it.

Boxcar — Push for Twitter 

The aforelinked Tweetbit is the first full iPhone Twitter client that includes its own support for push notifications, but there are at least two other apps that focus just on push notifications, while integrating with existing Twitter clients.

Boxcar costs $2, and checks your Twitter account every two minutes. It sends push notifications for direct messages and/or mentions. For mentions, it lets you choose between opening them in Tweetie or Twitterrific; for DMs, though, Boxcar shows them in its own interface.

Royal 

Jason Santa Maria:

This typewriter is a product of the technology and needs of its time.

Free Kindle Edition of ‘Free’ 

As promised, the Kindle edition of Chris Anderson’s Free is available for free, at least for a limited time. I’m going to read it on the free Kindle iPhone app, just to set the mood.

Palm’s Mojo SDK Now Available to All 

They need to hurry, yes, because they are behind. But it’s impressive that they’ve shipped the official SDK just six weeks after shipping the original device. The big question, though, is whether the SDK is good.

Twitbit 1.0 — iPhone Twitter Client With Push Notifications 

The list of iPhone Twitter clients continues to grow. But the ante keeps getting raised — the market may be crowded, but it is far from settled. Twitbit, a nice $5 client from High Order Bit, adds something major: push notifications, for both direct messages and mentions. I tried it and it works well.

(Too well, in fact, for me personally. In the 1.0 version, push notifications are an all or nothing affair in Twitbit. You can turn them off completely, but if you turn them on, you get them for both DMs and mentions. I’d love to get push notifications for DMs, but I have enough followers that it’s simply untenable to receive a push notification every time “@gruber” appears in a tweet. High Order Bit plans to make this configurable in a future update.)

‘We Came in Peace for All Mankind’ 

The Big Picture looks back at Apollo 11, which launched 40 years ago.

Tal Leming and Erik van Blokland’s .webfont Proposal 

A joint proposal to the W3C for a .webfont standard. This is very clever and practical, and I concur with Leming’s conclusion:

We’re hopeful that this is a good format for everyone. It gives users smaller file sizes. It gives the font vendors a simple format that allows them to include information about the font. It doesn’t require entirely new technologies from the browser developers.

Update: Worth noting that this proposal is endorsed by top-notch foundries like H&FJ, House Industries, and many more.

Pogue on iPhone 3GS and VoiceOver Accessibility 

David Pogue:

But from what I’ve seen of VoiceOver so far, it certainly seems as though Apple has gone to some pretty amazing impressive lengths to make the iPhone friendly to blind people.

Fake Walt Mossberg Answers Reader Mail 

Hilarious. Plus: bonus points for slagging on Arrington.

Apple Statement on iTunes 8.2.1 and Pre Syncing 

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris, in a statement to BusinessWeek’s Arik Hesseldahl:

“iTunes 8.2.1 is a free software update that provides a number of important bug fixes. It also disables devices falsely pretending to be iPods, including the Palm Pre. As we’ve said before, newer versions of Apple’s iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with unsupported digital media players.”

You can’t accuse them of being coy about it.

New York Nearest Subway Augmented Reality App for iPhone 3GS 

This is one of the most impressive software demo videos I’ve ever seen. It’s like something from Minority Report. This is holy shit! stuff. The developers, Acrossair, also have a similar app for London; both apps are awaiting approval from Apple.

(Update: I originally stated that the London app was already available; it is not.)

Do Unto Others 

Mike Arrington, writing late last night at TechCrunch:

Here’s a dilemma: The guy (”Hacker Croll”) who claims to have accessed hundreds of confidential corporate and personal documents of Twitter and Twitter employees, is releasing those documents publicly and sent them to us earlier today. The zip file contained 310 documents, ranging from executive meeting notes, partner agreements and financial projections to the meal preferences, calendars and phone logs of various Twitter employees.

What you may ask, is the dilemma, since it is clear that any decent human being would simply refuse to have anything to do with something so lurid? Arrington’s dilemma is that he’s unsure how to clean the stains from his pants, incurred during his excitement at the opportunity to publish as much of this material as he can get away with.

He is a very sad excuse for a man.

iTunes 8.2.1 Blocks Palm Pre Syncing 

Not a surprise, considering Apple’s warning last month.

iPhone 3.1 OS Beta 2 Disables Unauthorized AT&T Tethering 

This is going to keep a lot of people on 3.0 — tethering is simply marvelous.

Auto-Correcting German and Swiss German 

Lukas Mathis, responding to my footnote regarding how the iPhone’s auto-correction doesn’t work as well in some languages as others:

All this is to explain why people in Switzerland often don’t use auto-correction: Instead of helping us type properly, it replaces correct words with incorrect words most of the time.

It’s worth pointing out, too, though, that the fact that the iPhone’s keyboard is implemented in software is a huge win for anyone who wishes to switch between different languages. I suspect that’s a huge selling point for the iPhone, albeit not so much here in the U.S.

The Words You Wear 

Rands translates buzzwords:

Heads-up — “You’re screwed.”

‘It’s a Medium, Not a Grande’ 

Good design and clever copywriting by Mucca Design for Brooklyn Fare. (Via Monoscope.)

Apple Press Release Trumpets 1.5 Billion App Downloads in First Year 

Interesting quote from Jobs in the press release:

“The App Store is like nothing the industry has ever seen before in both scale and quality,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With 1.5 billion apps downloaded, it is going to be very hard for others to catch up.”

He sounds confident.

Dan Frommer on Why BusinessWeek Might Only Fetch $1 

Whoever buys them assumes their union contracts, debts, and subscription liabilities.

Update: And, answering my other question, here’s a report yesterday from BusinessWeek’s own Jon Fine.

Paul Constant Reviews Twitter Using Twitter 

A thoughtful and interesting essay, posted as a series of tweets. E.g.:

As in haiku, which has dozens of esoteric limitations, when you constrain a form, you can often broaden what people can do with it.

Wolfram Alpha and Hubristic User Interfaces 

Mencius Moldbug’s perceptive critique of Wolfram Alpha:

Briefly: there is actually a useful tool inside Wolfram Alpha, which hopefully will be exposed someday. Unfortunately, this would require Stephen Wolfram to amputate what he thinks is the beautiful part of the system, and leave what he thinks is the boring part.

WA is two things: a set of specialized, hand-built databases and data visualization apps, each of which would be cool, the set of which almost deserves the hype; and an intelligent UI, which translates an unstructured natural-language query into a call to one of these tools. The apps are useful and fine and good. The natural-language UI is a monstrous encumbrance, which needs to be taken out back and shot. It won’t be.

BusinessWeek Sale May Fetch Only $1 

Two thoughts:

  1. This makes no sense to me. Even if they just shut down the print magazine and kept the web site, it seems like it should be worth more than $1. I mean, shit, I’d personally offer double that to buy them myself.

  2. It’ll be interesting to see how BusinessWeek covers this.

MetaFilter’s $5 Sign-Up Fee 

A few readers emailed to point out that Pinboard’s new user sign-up fee isn’t entirely original, pointing to the $5 fee that MetaFilter has had in place for a few years. I’m sure others have done something similar, too. What I think is original, though, is the way Pinboard’s fee increases slowly as new users join — (a) encouraging early adoption, and (b) throttling growth. I.e., in addition to bringing in some cash, it’s also a clever way to ensure that a new web app doesn’t grow too fast too soon. It serves a similar purpose to a strictly-limited-number-of-invitations beta rollout like Gmail’s.

Verizon Wants to Build Its Own App Store 

Good luck with that.

Push Notifications Don’t Work for Third-Party Apps on Hacked SIM-Unlocked iPhones  

There’s nothing app developers can do about it, but the users of hacked carrier-unlocked iPhones are blaming them anyway.

Pinboard — Antisocial Bookmarking 

Remember when Delicious was simple and focused? So does Maciej Ceglowski. Pinboard, his new “antisocial” bookmarking site, hearkens back to Delicious’s early heyday. It even offers a way to import your bookmarks from Delicious.

In addition to the fact that Pinboard itself is promising and clever, Ceglowski has implemented a genius feature on the sign-up page: you must pay a small one-time fee to create a new account:

The signup fee helps discourage spammers and defrays some of the costs of running the site.

The fee is based on the formula (number of users * $0.001), so the earlier you join, the less you pay.

As I type this, the fee is $2.91; when I joined four days ago, it was $2.33. This is brilliant.

Update: 16 hours later and it’s now up to $4.33

iPhone and iPod Touch: About Backups 

Excellent documentation from Apple explaining the details of iPhone and iPod Touch backups. (Via Ted Landau.)

Notes on a Dual-Mode AirPort Extreme Network 

Excellent step-by-step instructions for setting up a dual-mode Wi-Fi network with two AirPort base stations. The idea is that you bridge two base stations and create one network with two modes: one using 802.11n at 5GHz and the other using 802.11g. This setup allows all clients to connect at their highest possible speed.

The very latest AirPort base stations can do this by themselves, with no need for a second base station. But if you’re like me and already have more than one AirPort base station, including one that supports 802.11n, there’s no need to buy a new base station. I put off setting this up until a little over a week ago — up until then, I’d been running just my 802.11n base station in “compatibility” mode. The difference has been dramatic, especially on n-capable clients — both speed and Wi-Fi signal range are better.

Mini-Microsoft on Microsoft and Google 

Mini-Microsoft:

Rather than pulling an Apple on us anymore, Google has picked up the nasty habit of pre-announcing technology. Guys, you stole the wrong playbook. And, uh, we don’t want it back.

Khoi Vinh: ‘Minimalism, Michael Mann and Miami Vice’ 

Khoi Vinh on Michael Mann:

Over the course of his career, Mann has produced a taut, stylistic and often brutally impersonal filmography that seems most interested in the concept of work. His movies are preoccupied with how men (almost always men) of extraordinary skills practice their craft — and the price they must pay for doing so.

I’m a huge fan of Mann’s work, and agree with Khoi that Miami Vice is underrated. In Heat, Al Pacino’s character, a police detective in the midst of a crumbling marriage, says, “All I am is what I’m going after.” That’s the core theme of all of Mann’s best films, and, I suspect, an apt description of Mann himself. And so while most people would describe Mann’s films as impersonal, they are in fact deeply personal — reflections of his own obsession with his craft.

Craig Hockenberry on the App Store 

Thoughtful criticism and suggestions on the one-year anniversary of the iPhone App Store.

Classics (App Store Link) 

My thanks to Classics for sponsoring this weeks’ DF RSS feed. Classics is a beautiful, elegant e-book reader for the iPhone and iPod Touch, available on the App Store for just $1. It comes with over a dozen works of classic literature laid out with nice typography and custom cover designs. Classics’s interface is so nice that Apple featured it in a TV commercial.

Google Native Client 

Many people are speculating that Native Client will play a significant role in Chrome OS:

Native Client is an open-source research technology for running x86 native code in web applications, with the goal of maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability, and safety that people expect from web apps. We’ve released this project at an early, research stage to get feedback from the security and broader open-source communities. We believe that Native Client technology will someday help web developers to create richer and more dynamic browser-based applications.

Could be this is part of Google’s plan for Chrome OS. But then again, maybe not — it’s unclear how much coordination there is across various teams at Google. But if it is, then so much for Chrome OS being “just web apps”. Native Client is ambitious and interesting, but native x86 code is a far cry from “web apps”.

(And if Native Client is limited to x86 code, that would rule it out for use in Chrome OS, since Google has stated that Chrome OS will run on both ARM and x86 systems. Update: According to slide 26 in this presentation from I/O, they plan to bring Native Client to x86-64 and ARM in the future.)

Dan Moren’s Palm Pre Review 

The gist of Dan Moren’s Pre review is that the WebOS is good software, the Pre itself is sort of chintzy hardware. Lots of good details, though:

The Pre’s mail client is pretty similar to the iPhone’s, but it adds in a couple of features I’ve been longing for on the iPhone. For one thing, if you have multiple e-mail accounts, you can choose to display a unified inbox that collects the new mail for all of those accounts into one. You still have the individual inboxes for each account as well, but if you just want to skim all the mail you’ve recently received, it’s easy to do so. The mail client also allows you to flag messages you might want to go back later and it provides a single mailbox that lets you easily view flagged messages in all your accounts. Even better, the flag-state syncs to your other clients, so when I looked later, the same messages were flagged in Mail on my MacBook.

I’d love those features on the iPhone.

Google’s Microsoft Moment 

Anil Dash on Google’s changing culture:

This is one of the simplest and most obvious examples, after this week’s announcements: Google is now offering not one, but two mobile operating systems. While they undoubtedly share code, I can’t help but think back to ten years ago, when Microsoft was vehemently protesting about how much code was shared between the Windows NT/Windows 2000 operating systems and the Windows 95/98/ME operating systems. If I make a screen two inches smaller, should I use Android instead of Chrome OS? If the keyboard works with my fingers instead of my thumbs, I should use Chrome OS and not Android? I know Google is convinced its employees are smarter than everyone else in the world, but this is a product management problem, not a computer science problem.

It makes no sense to me why Chrome OS isn’t based on Android. Maybe there’s a good answer to this, but Google hasn’t given it.

Layer Tennis: And So It All Comes Down to This 

Today, at 3 pm Eastern / noon Pacific, the championship match of the second season of Layer Tennis: Shaun Inman vs. Gregory Hubacek. Match preview and in-game commentary by yours truly and the one and only Jason Santa Maria. Cancel your meetings and stock your fridge.

Get in the mood pre-match by watching the amazing season two retrospective video.

Regarding Eric Schmidt’s Position on Apple’s Board 

I don’t understand why so many outsiders are concerned about this. If Steve Jobs and the other members of Apple’s board think Schmidt’s spot on the board poses a competitive conflict of interest, they’ll ask him to leave. If they don’t, then what’s the problem? Does Tom Krazit really believe he has a better grasp of Apple’s competitive position versus Google than Jobs? Does he think Jobs is too shy or polite to confront Schmidt?

iPhone 3GS Limited to 384 Kbps Upstream 

I’d be disappointed if I lived some place where iPhone carriers actually provide decent bandwidth. I seldom break 100 Kbps upstream with AT&T.

The Dumb-Dumbs at Engadget Post Fake Chrome OS Screenshots 

These purported screenshots were so bad my dog knew they were fake, and I don’t even have a dog.

A Robot Rises Over Tokyo 

Awesome.

DateLine 0.55 

Free (and open source) Mac app that displays a simple, attractive calendar on your desktop. It’s useful, too: double-click a date and DateLine will take you there in iCal. I have it configured with the Window Level set to “Desktop icons”, so I can see it when I trigger Expose’s Show Desktop command. (Via Dan Benjamin).

New Challenger for Title of ‘World’s Worst Online Advertising Gimmick’ 

Gavin O’Malley, reporting for Online Media Daily:

And consumers thought a blinking banner ad was hard to avoid. Taking attention-seeking to a whole new level, rich media company EyeWonder on Wednesday debuted a new home page-takeover ad that appears to manipulate a surrounding Web page by shrinking, stretching, crumpling or otherwise animating a real-time screenshot of the page.

The only way to beat this would be if they could figure out a way to get Flash to extend a finger from your display and poke you in the eye.

Best Method Name in Entire iPhone SDK 

Private API in the iPhone 3.0 SDK with a method name that warns against using private APIs. It’s only funny because it’s true. (Via Jonathan Wight.)

Update: Craig Hockenberry files a bug against the method.

The Impact of the iPhone 3GS RAM Increase 

John Casasanta makes an interesting point: the 3GS has twice as much RAM as previous iPhone OS devices, but from the perspective of developers, the result is much more significant than that: after a fresh boot, the 3GS has about 150 MB of free memory; on an old 3G, there’s just 40 MB free.

Fake Steve on Chrome OS 

Fake Steve:

If you ask me, Google is getting a little nutty about the Borg and it’s starting to show. They’re starting to look like the new Scott McNealy. Remember him? Ran a company called Sun, which had a great little business going until McNealy became obsessed with Gates and started doing things like paying millions of dollars to buy StarOffice so he could get into that booming free software business.

David Pogue on Bing 

Pogue’s review of Microsoft’s latest attempt to compete against Google’s core business. (Oddly enough, appearing the same day that Google announced its plan to compete against Microsoft’s core business.)

The Last Phone Booths in New York 

Scouting New York on the four remaining phone booths in Manhattan:

It’s funny to think how the idea of an enclosed space to have a phone conversation now seems like an incredible luxury.

(Via Scott Simpson.)

I don’t remember the last time I saw one here in Philadelphia.

Update: Fireballed at the moment, but it’s in Google’s cache.

‘Easy’, Eh? 

Love this piece by Benjamin Pollack responding to claims in this Hacker News thread that it would be easy to clone StackExchange, the software powering the Stack Overflow developer community.

Google Apps Is Out of ‘Beta’ 

Google’s Matthew Glotzbach announces that Gmail and the other Google Apps are no longer labeled “beta”:

We’re often asked why so many Google applications seem to be perpetually in beta. For example, Gmail has worn the beta tag more than five years. We realize this situation puzzles some people, particularly those who subscribe to the traditional definition of “beta” software as not being yet ready for prime time.

Imagine that — people thought that what Google meant by “beta” was what everyone else means by “beta”. Shocking. Anyway, though, glad to see the sham is over.

SnapTell Was Acquired by Amazon in June 

Perhaps this is why Amazon is refusing to allow mobile apps to use their APIs or data. They want to do it all themselves.

Amazon Forbidding Mobile Apps From Using Its Data 

Amazon changed its terms of use for its Product Advertising API to not just forbid the use of the APIs from mobile devices, but to forbid the use of data obtained from these APIs on mobile devices. The most prominent app affected by this: the iPhone client of Delicious Library, which was pulled from the App Store today. So the Mac version of Delicious Library can obtain and use information from Amazon’s APIs, but the iPhone version not only can’t call those APIs, it can’t even sync that data from the Mac version.

I don’t really get what Amazon’s angle here is. I can’t see how forbidding this does anything but harm their own interests — selling more products. And what’s the point of forbidding the use of data obtained from Amazon on a native Cocoa touch iPhone app, but not forbidding it on a web app optimized specifically for the iPhone, except that the native app can provide a richer experience?

Capo on Sale 

SuperMegaUltraGroovy’s beautiful music-training app is on sale for $20 — 60 percent off the regular price.

Henri Sivonen’s Unofficial Q&A About the Discontinuation of the XHTML2 WG 

Like Simon Willison, I very much enjoy Sivonen’s distinction between “marketing” XHTML and technical “XHTML”:

There are two meanings to XHTML: technical and marketing. The technical kind (XHTML served using the application/xhtml xml MIME type) is a formulation of HTML as an XML vocabulary. The marketing kind (XHTML served using the text/html MIME type) is processed just like HTML by browsers but the authors attempt to observe slightly different syntax rules in order to make it seem that they are doing something newer and shinier compared to HTML.

Matt Mullenweg on the GPL and WordPress 

Matt Mullenweg responds to Daniel Jalkut’s argument “that the GPL does more to harm collaborative development than it does to help it”:

  1. I’ve never encountered a serious client who chose not to use WordPress because it was GPL-licensed, and I think it’s hard to argue that WordPress’s license has had a dampening effect on its adoption, given its success over competitors with widely varying licenses.

  2. I think we have an incredibly strong third-party extension, plugin, and theme community that has flourished, not in spite of the GPL license, but because of it.

  3. I’ve seen the absence of GPL in practice; there have been times in the WordPress world when parts of the community have “gone dark” and claimed their code was under more restrictive licenses, like used to be common with themes. Every time this cycle starts it basically kills innovation in that part of the WordPress world until people start opening up their code again or until a GPL equivalent is available. I’ve seen this firsthand several times now.

I can’t speak for Jalkut, but none of these three points from Mullenweg address Jalkut’s argument.

  1. Jalkut wasn’t arguing about whether users will not use GPL software; his argument was about developers.

  2. Jalkut never argued that WordPress wasn’t popular or didn’t have a strong extension/plugin/theme community. Jalkut’s argument was that WordPress might have an even stronger extension/plugin/theme community if it were licensed under a BSD-style license.

  3. Jalkut wasn’t arguing in favor of more restrictive licenses; he was arguing in favor of less restrictive ones: BSD/MIT/Apache style ones.

In some sense, Jalkut’s essay could be considered a big “Duh” — a statement of the obvious. To wit: that GPL-licensed software projects discourage participation from developers working on anything other than other GPL-licensed software projects. That’s pretty much the stated goal of the FSF. BSD-licensed projects encourage participation from developers working on just about anything.

Prowl: Growl Client for iPhone 

New $3 iPhone app by Zachary West:

Prowl is a Growl client for the iPhone. Notifications from your Mac can be sent to your iPhone over push, with a full range of customization and grace you expect.

Great idea. This opens up iPhone push notifications for anything you can think of.

Eliss on Sale for $1 

Eliss, an innovative and clever musical (or not?) iPhone puzzle game, is currently on sale for just $1.

Boston to Debut iPhone App for Municipal Complaints 

Michael Levenson, reporting for The Boston Globe:

City officials will soon debut Boston’s first official iPhone application, which will allow residents to snap photos of neighborhood nuisances - nasty potholes, graffiti-stained walls, blown street lights — and e-mail them to City Hall to be fixed.

(a) This sounds like a neat idea. (b) The iPhone is turning into a de facto standard platform.

Incandescent Bulbs Return to the Cutting Edge 

Leora Broydo Vestel reports for The New York Times on innovations in incandescent light bulbs, spurred by the tougher efficiency standards coming into effect in 2012:

“There’s a massive misperception that incandescents are going away quickly,” said Chris Calwell, a researcher with Ecos Consulting who studies the bulb market. “There have been more incandescent innovations in the last three years than in the last two decades.”

Necessity, once again, is the mother of invention. (Via Dan Benjamin.)

Jon Stokes on the Palm Pre’s Battery Life 

Jon Stokes, after using the Pre as his only computing device for two days in an airport:

There is one diversion on the Pre that’s really great, but you’ll definitely want to be plugged in while you use it: Sprint TV. The live TV streaming to the device works quite well, and I got a huge kick out of watching ABC News and some reality TV shows on my phone. But I estimate (I haven’t formally tested) that I could stream about 30 minutes of TV to the Pre before completely nuking the battery.

Streaming video involves both playback and constant network use, but 30 minutes sounds shockingly low.

David Carr: ‘The Unhealthy Fixation on Steve Jobs’s Health’ 

Well said:

Is anyone really confused about Mr. Jobs’s health status? I remain unconvinced, in part because I believe that prurience, not legitimate financial concerns, drives most people’s interest in the illness of others.

Decoding the HTML 5 Video Codec Debate 

Good overview by Ryan Paul on the H.264 vs. Ogg Theora standoff between the major modern browser makers. With regard to Apple’s refusal to support Ogg Theora, though, I think he underplays the importance to Apple of H.264-decoding chipsets. That’s how iPhones and iPods get such long battery life for video playback. There are no such chipsets for Ogg Theora.

Disney World Monorail Crash Kills Driver 

Yikes:

A monorail train at Walt Disney World crashed into the back of another train early Sunday, killing one driver, according to an amusement park spokesman and a witness interviewed by CNN.

Here’s amateur video of the scene just after the accident, shot from the passenger platform at the Ticket and Transportation Center.

Update: Here’s the best speculation I’ve seen explaining how it could have happened, from someone who claims to be a former monorail employee.

Cabel Sasser’s Favorite Fireworks Packaging of 2009 

A great Independence Day tradition. My favorite this year is “Blond Joke”.

Delicious Library 

Delicious Library 2.1 is out, along with a free iPhone companion in the App Store. My thanks to Delicious Monster for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote it. The iPhone app syncs with the Mac version and lets you view everything in your library, with the same intricate attention to UI design and experience that has made Delicious Monster famous. It’s good.

If you need further convincing, check out the adorable guided tour video they made to promote the iPhone app’s release last month. Hand-crafted stop-motion animation. If this video doesn’t make you smile, you’re not hooked up right. Imagine how much work went into the app if they put this much work into the video.

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ Icon Set 

Nice set of icons by Mischa McLachlan.

‘Edge’ Is Back in the U.S. and U.K. App Stores 

Remember Edge, the iPhone game that was forced out of the U.S. and U.K. App Stores after some jackass claimed a copyright on the word “Edge”? Well, Edge is back. I bought it last night and I highly recommend it, as does my five-year-old son. Very fun.

Comments on Comments on Zeldman’s XHTML WTF 

There are a lot of misunderstandings out there regarding HTML 5.

The Setup: John Siracusa 

Another great entry in Daniel Bogan’s excellent The Setup.

Using Automator to Create a Simple Interface for ffmpeg2theora 

This lets you transcode video to Ogg Theora right from the Finder, either via the contextual menu or by drag-and-drop. Personally, I don’t mind using the Terminal for this, but Automator is a great solution for wrapping command-line tools.

Email Full-Resolution Photos From the iPhone 

Good tip: If you use copy-and-paste instead of the “Email Photo” button in the Camera app, you can email the full-resolution version of the photo.

Modes, Quasi-Modes, and the iPhone 

Lukas Mathis has been writing some of the most insightful essays on UI design I’ve read in ages. He has a great piece today on modes and “quasi-modes”:

Quasimodes require the user to do several things at the same time, such as holding down the Shift key while typing. Modes, on the other hand, allow users to do things sequentially — hit Caps Lock, type, hit Caps Lock again. Sequential actions, especially if guided well, are often easier to execute than parallel actions.

And he argues (correctly, I say) that the iPhone’s new modal interface for selecting text is superior to the WebOS’s quasi-modal interface.

XHTML 2 Is Dead, Long Live HTML 5 

The W3C’s XHTML 2 effort is (thankfully) now officially dead, not just effectively dead. This is good news for HTML 5, as there’s no longer any dispute over which standard is the future of HTML.

Getting Pretty Lonely 

Smart essay from Daniel Jalkut on how the GPL discourages participation from many (if not most) developers.

Apple Retail Stores Can Now Replace Broken iPhone Screens 

Speaking of fixing cracked iPhone screens, Jim Dalrymple reports:

The Loop has confirmed that if your iPhone has a broken screen and you take it to an Apple retail relocation, they have the capability to fix it on the spot. The machine, which is located out of customer view in the back of the store, reportedly separates the iPhone from the screen, allowing a new one to be installed.

Of course, your screen doesn’t have to be completely smashed to need some sort of replacement done. Some users have reported dust particles on the inside of the screen as well.

How to Replace a Cracked iPhone 3G Screen 

Step-by-step instructions, with photos, from Jeff Carlson.

Leaked AT&T Memo: iPhone 3GS Generated ‘Best Ever Sales Day’ 

MacDailyNews has obtained an internal AT&T memo:

On this year’s launch day, iPhone sales exceeded sales recorded on 2008’s iPhone launch day, Black Friday 2008 and Dec. 26, 2008 — all heavy-volume sales days. In fact, this year we surpassed 2008’s launch day sales at about noon Central time, and sustained our previous peak hour record, also set in 2008, for 11 straight hours.

Kroc Camen: Video for Everybody 

No-JavaScript HTML 5 markup from Kroc Camen that works across browsers and platforms and requires only two video source files: H.264 and Ogg Theora. (In browsers that don’t support HTML 5’s <video> tag, it falls back on Flash, QuickTime, and Windows Media.)

Ian Hickson on Codecs for the HTML 5 ‘audio’ and ‘video’ Tags 

The goal was for there to be at least one standard video codec that would work across all HTML 5 browsers — one format that would work across browsers and platforms with no plugins.

But, alas, the result is an impasse. Apple won’t support Ogg Theora, and Mozilla and Opera won’t support H.264. (Google, admirably, is willing to support both in Chrome, but they don’t consider Ogg good enough to use for YouTube.) So there will be no standard HTML 5 video codec. So it goes.

(Let it be said that Ian Hickson is the Solomon of web standards; his summary of the situation is mind-bogglingly even-handed and fair-minded.)

PragPub 

The Pragmatic Programmers’ new free monthly programming magazine, edited by Michael Swaine, former editor of Dr. Dobb’s Journal (and, once upon a time, an excellent columnist for the old MacUser magazine). Available in PDF, mobi, and epub formats. (Via Michael Tsai.)

Chris Anderson’s ‘Free’ Contains Numerous Uncredited Passages From Wikipedia 

Waldo Jaquith, at The Virginia Quarterly Review:

In the course of reading Chris Anderson’s new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price (Hyperion, $26.99), for a review in an upcoming issue of VQR, we have discovered almost a dozen passages that are reproduced nearly verbatim from uncredited sources. These instances were identified after a cursory investigation, after I checked by hand several dozen suspect passages in the whole of the 274-page book.

Jaquith includes half a dozen incriminating examples. Plagiarism is a strong word, but there’s no other way to describe some of these passages.

Anderson has responded, acknowledging it as a “screwup”, on his Long Tail weblog.

An Ant, Close Up 

GigaPan:

This ant is composed of 400 pictures, and it’s magnified 400x using a scanning electron microscope. The ant was given to us to image by Brian Fisher an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences.

The intersection of horrifying and wonderful.

Layer Tennis 2009 Finals 

On the one side: Gregory Hubacek, who played his way out of the qualifiers and had the toughest draw in the playoffs. On the other: defending champion Shaun Inman. In the commentary booth: Jason Santa Maria and yours truly.

See you next Friday, July 10.

The Em and En of iPhone 3.0 

Jeff Richardson wonders why Apple didn’t also add the en-dash when they added the em-dash to the iPhone OS 3.0 keyboard.

Meg Hourihan on the iPhone as a Computer 

Gina Trapani asked her Twitter followers if they were planning to buy a 3GS, and she compiled the 175 answers into a single post for her weblog. I love the first one, from Meg Hourihan:

Yes, iPhone = my computer, and $399 is worth it. Haven’t bought new laptop since late 06 and don’t plan to for long time.

This, to me, gets to the heart of the revolution at hand. A decade ago, my first PowerBook was a secondary machine to the desktop anchored at my desk. Now, my main machine is my MacBook Pro, but it feels a bit like an anchor now. My mobile secondary computer is my iPhone.

iPhone 3GS TV Ads 

The iPhone’s new copy and paste is so good they’ve made a commercial about it.

App Store WTF of the Week (App Store Link) 

New iPhone game named “Mariolife”, featuring Mario. What makes it a WTF is that the game is clearly neither from nor licensed by Nintendo. It boggles the mind that this made it into the App Store.

Can’t wait for the sequel starring Mickey Mouse. (Via Brian Ford.)

Update: Ends up the App Store review team simply doesn’t deal with copyright and trademark verification (with the exception of enforcing Apple’s own trademarks, of course). Any beef Nintendo has (and trust me, they’re going to have a beef with this app) is between Nintendo and Mariolife’s developer. Makes sense.

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