Linked List: November 2009

Give Retweets a Chance 

Atebits support FAQ on Twitter’s new-style retweets and Tweetie’s support for them.

Bart’s Blackboard 

“I do not have power of attorney over first graders.”

Dave Winer Says Stewart Alsop Is Right About the Droid 

And I agree with Winer about the iPhone: call quality sucks. It doesn’t matter if it’s technically AT&T’s fault or Apple’s, since we don’t have a choice.

But the overall iPhone experience definitely does not suck.

CrunchPad Saga Ends Bizarrely  

According to Mike Arrington, they got screwed by their hardware manufacturing partner at the last moment.

No word from Popular Mechanics yet on whether they get to keep their product of the year award.

Claim Chowder: Stewart Alsop in 1997 on Apple’s Acquisition of NeXT 

Stewart Alsop in February 1997:

Let’s get this straight right away: Apple Computer did the wrong thing. On December 20, Apple announced that it would spend $400 million to purchase Steve Jobs’s company, Next Software. The company said it would adopt Next’s NextStep operating system for future versions of the Macintosh computer. Most of the commentary I’ve seen about this decision is off the mark, especially the talk about Jobs coming back to save Apple. That is sheer nonsense. He won’t be anywhere near the company.

Maybe the best claim chowder ever? (Thanks to DF reader Charles Bouldin.)

Curious Headline: “Microsoft ‘Worked With Apple’ for Silverlight on iPhone” 

Where by “Silverlight” they mean “streaming video from a Silverlight server”, and by “worked with Apple” they mean “implemented the non-proprietary H.264 and HTML5 standards that the iPhone already supports”. This has nothing at all to do with the iPhone running code for the Silverlight runtime. (Adobe, take note.)

But if Microsoft is willing to serve H.264 video via HTML5 for MobileSafari users, why not do it for desktop Safari and Chrome users on Mac OS X too?

Microsoft’s Latest Security Updates for Windows Lead to ‘Black Screen of Death’ 

Jeremy King:

Microsoft’s latest round of security patches appears to be causing some PCs to seize up and display a black screen, rending the computer useless.

The problem affects Microsoft products including Windows 7, Vista and XP operating systems, said Mel Morris , the CEO and CTO for the U.K. security company Prevx.

Sounds like a major conflict with third-party antivirus software.

Update: Ends up this story is bogus.

Stewart Alsop Trashes the Droid 

He blames the OS, not the hardware, and complains that the UI is frequently not responsive. It’s always interesting to see reviews after a device has been out for a month, but I haven’t (yet) seen any others like this about the Droid.

(Via Michael Gartenberg.)

Dave Winer Wants a Programmable Twitter Client 

Dave Winer:

Unix had a shell language. DOS had a batch language. Lotus 1-2-3 had its macro language. Emacs is a programming tool as much as it is a text editor. We have gotten out of the habit of making programmable end-user products, but they are still just as important today as they were a couple of decades ago.

Chuck Shotton has a good follow-up.

Nokia Siemens Networks CEO, Paraphrased: ‘It’s Just a Flesh Wound!’ 

Reuters:

Ailing telecom equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks has changed its business focus to increasing its market share, the new chief executive of the venture was quoted as saying on Sunday.

“In early 2008 we made a strategic decision to focus more on cash flow and profitability than on the market share. Now it’s time to give it up and to focus solely on the market share,” Rajeev Suri told Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat.

It’s one thing when a nascent company runs in the red for a short time while building market share. Amazon is a good example. But it’s another thing when an established market leader claims they’re not trying to be profitable. Is anyone buying this? What I hear is: We’re lost and don’t know what to do.

Update: I am aware that Nokia Siemens Networks is a joint venture half-owned by Nokia. I’m saying this attitude — that the pursuit of profits and market share are in opposition — is unhealthy.

More on Handbrake, VLC, and 64-Bit Problems 

Using Fairmount as a workaround.

How Aaron Swartz Hires Programmers 

Good advice.

NYT Story on the U.S. Food Stamps Program 

Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff:

With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. […]

From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day.

jQTouch 

Looks good:

A jQuery plugin for mobile web development on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and other forward-thinking devices.

But the demos show just how far short even best-of-breed iPhone web apps fall compared to native apps.

Psystar Promised Investors Huge Clone Sales; Actually Sold Only 768 

Hard to believe these jokers weren’t on the up and up.

Alan Storm Explains My URL Regex Pattern 

Great follow-up from Alan Storm to my piece yesterday on the regex for matching URLs. Storm does what I was too lazy to do: dissect the regex and explain how it works. I’m a big fan of the “/x” format for regex patterns — it’s a big aid for readability and maintainability.

As for Storm’s list of exceptions:

  • I didn’t bother trying to make the pattern match anything other than a single pair of balanced parentheses in a URL because I’ve never actually seen a real life URL that contains parentheses in any other form. I was ready to get all Friedl on this pattern’s ass and let it match nested parens, but thought the better of it. Why bother complicating the pattern to match something that doesn’t seem to occur in the wild? That’s what I mean about the pattern being practical.

  • As for web site addresses that lack both a protocol (like “http:”) and a “www.” prefix, it didn’t seem worth the effort for my own purposes. In the places where I use this pattern personally (I’ll write more about that soon), there’s almost always a protocol for the URLs. I special-cased “www.” because it was easy and obvious. It’s hard to match something like “example.com” without also matching something like “example.txt” unless you use a list of known TLDs, and that’s a direction I didn’t want to go.

(I got a bunch of other great feedback and suggested tweaks via email; still going through them, but will post a follow-up.)

HandBrake 0.9.4 

Tons of improvements, especially regarding H.264 encoding.

Update: If you want to use it with VLC for ripping from DVDs, note that you’ll need the 32-bit version of HandBrake, because the latest stable Mac OS X version of VLC is 32-bit.

Update 2: Some readers are reporting success with the previous stable release of VLC (1.0.2), which has a 64-bit version.

You Should Follow Daring Fireball on Twitter 

A few months ago I started an official DF Twitter feed. Everything I post to Daring Fireball gets posted to Twitter automatically. Effectively, it’s a Twitter version of the DF RSS feed.

(Yes, some Twitter clients don’t correctly parse the ✪df.ws URLs. That’s because these Twitter clients have bugs. Also, yes, when you open one of these URLs in Firefox on Mac OS X, you have to manually hit Reload. Again, this is a bug in Firefox. Don’t ask me to use another domain name for the shortened URLs. If no one uses IDN domain names, what will motivate developers to fix (or work around) IDN bugs?)

Bob Sheppard Officially Steps Aside as the Public Address Voice of the New York Yankees 

The man whom Reggie Jackson dubbed “The Voice of God” officially retires at age 99.

Amazon’s Apple Store 

Huge discounts from Amazon on Apple kit. E.g., the current price for a new white MacBook is just $884.98 — savings of $114 off the regular price. iPods, MacBooks, iMacs — all on sale. Shop from this link (for anything from Amazon) and I’ll get a kickback.

‘It’s Like Twitter. Except We Charge People to Use It.’ 

This is what every client should get when they ask for spec work. Brilliant.

iTunes LP and iTunes Extras Developer Documentation 

Apple:

Automatic, electronic submission of your iTunes LP or Extra is scheduled for the first quarter of 2010. Until then, the submission process is manual and limited.

Includes an interesting appendix on TuneKit, the JavaScript framework.

Dan Frommer: Android and Palm Need Their Own iPod Touch 

I agree wholeheartedly. Remember: the iPod Touch accounts for about 40 percent of the overall iPhone OS market. Neither Android nor Palm has anything like it.

Voices 

My thanks to Tap Tap Tap for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Voices. Voices is a fun new iPhone app — make an audio recording and Voices will change your voice into one of several funny characters, including a chipmunk, a robot, a protected witness, and over a dozen more. You can even share your recordings over the Web (like this) via Twitter, Facebook, and email.

Voices is available at an introductory price of just $0.99. Perfect iPhone gag app for Thanksgiving.

Pie Guy 

Free Pac-Man-style iPhone game by Neven Mrgan — but, fitting in with this week’s theme, it’s a web app, not a native app from the App Store. And it runs locally, no network access required.

Field Notes: Just Below Zero 

I want to kiss them, they’re so beautiful. Best batch of Field Notes Colors yet. And check out this swell video the gang at Coudal just released (which includes a nice coupon on yearly Field Notes Colors subscriptions).

PPK Follows Up on Native iPhone Apps vs. Web Apps 

Still no mention of the Cocoa Touch framework. I’m telling you, that’s the key to the popularity of native iPhone development.

Apple Is, in Fact, Attempting to Trademark Just Plain ‘Pod’ 

Which would explain the stink eye Apple Legal cast at The Little App Factory’s initial attempt to rename iPodRip to PodRip. I still say it’s crummy. (Via Nilay Patel.)

The Droid Battery Cover Problem 

Funny, I’ve never heard of any problems with the iPhone battery cover falling off.

Turley Muller on Apple and AT&T 

Fact-checking and countering a Bloomberg TV interview with analyst Brian Marshall.

Palm Profiles Suffering Major Backup Failures 

Love that cloud.

iPodRip Renamed iRip 

At the request of Apple’s attorneys, The Little App Factory has renamed their iPodRip app “iRip”. (Disclosure: The Little App Factory is a previous and future sponsor of the DF RSS feed.)

I’m sympathetic to both sides, especially with regard to The Little App Factory’s rights under Australian trademark law. (They’re not a U.S. company.) But I also understand Apple’s desire to protect and control its “iPod” trademark. I think a name change to “PodRip” would be the ideal middle ground. I asked TLAF’s John Devor about that, and he replied, “That was the original plan and we bought the domain and setup the new website. Apple’s lawyers noticed and made it clear they would go after that name as well.”

That’s crummy. “iPod” is Apple’s. “Pod” is just a word.

U.K. Retailers Suspend Sales of Sony Ericsson’s Satio After Customer Complaints 

The Telegraph:

Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U suspended sales of Sony Ericsson’s Satio after a flood of returns from angry customers citing problems with the phone. […]

Speaking at the launch of the handset in May, Nathan Vautier, managing director of Sony Ericsson UK, said the phone would “help return the company to profitability”. Sony Ericsson has made a loss for the past five consecutive quarters.

Jon Stokes on Chrome OS 

A smart take on Chrome OS from Jon Stokes:

Apple and Microsoft began decades ago with “the PC,” and they’re currently involved in a slow and painful process of trying to stretch and push “the PC” out towards the Internet and towards a more useful and integrated relationship with the cloud as a new type of server. Google, on the other hand, began with the Internet, and it presumes the cloud in everything it does. With Chrome OS, the company is now trying to push and stretch the Internet back down onto “the PC” as just one of a growing range of cloud clients.

Magic Highway USA 

“Speed, safety, and comfort will be the keynotes of tomorrow’s highways.” Awesomeness from Disney in 1958.

When Information Overwhelms Facts 

Alexander Micek on last week’s report on laptop reliability from SquareTrade:

When you only have two data points to model, however, two things happen: (1) you can easily model the two points with a linear curve that perfectly fits the data (R2=1). (2) Your model is capable of predicting nothing. So, the SquareTrade authors have formed an inappropriate model based on sloppy data to make fallacious projections.

Zeldman on Self-Promotion 

Jeffrey Zeldman:

Marketing is not bragging, and touting one’s wares is not evil. The baker in the medieval town square must holler “fresh rolls” if he hopes to feed the townfolk.

Howard Bryant on the Misguided Demand for a Salary Cap in Major League Baseball 

Howard Bryant nails it:

So the Yankees are champions, and thus begins an offseason that will be centered on money. Owners across the league this offseason will promote the creation of a salary cap, ostensibly for “competitive balance” — a way to take money from the players and take down the Yankees simultaneously. All this at a time when the owners have a golden opportunity to improve the quality of the game but won’t because they refuse to reduce their sizable profits.

Apple’s iPhone Web Apps Directory 

Just in case you’ve forgotten, Apple has a directory of iPhone web apps that predates the native App Store. Slim pickings, as you might have guessed.

(Judging by my email, one misconception many people have is that iPhone web apps only work when you have network access. That’s not necessarily true — you can write an iPhone web app that runs offline, uses local storage (via HTML5), and launches from your home screen without the MobileSafari browser chrome. My favorite example of such a web app: Neven Mrgan’s Glyphboard.

Snow Leopard’s Creator-Code Snubbing Now Official 

Apple updates the Launch Services documentation to address Snow Leopard’s abandonment of creator codes.

Jackasses of the Week: BBC News 

BBC News on the latest jailbroken iPhone attack:

Users who have installed SSH and not changed the password are especially at risk.

By which they mean that users who have installed SSH and not changed the password are the only ones at risk.

Update: They’ve fixed it.

AdMob’s October 2009 Mobile Metrics Report 

The full report, in PDF format, is here. Page 7 is where the interesting numbers are. The two most popular handsets are the iPhone and iPod Touch. Most interesting to me is the column showing percentage share change in the list of top device manufacturers:

  • Apple’s is great (+6.9%).
  • HTC’s is good (+1.2%).
  • Nokia’s, Palm’s, and Sony Ericsson’s are bad (-2.6%, -1.0%, and -0.8% respectively — particularly ominous for Palm, I think, in terms of traction for the Pre).
  • Everyone else, including RIM, is pretty much just treading water.

Also interesting on p. 7 are the pie charts comparing device market share with OS market share. The two charts are nearly identical. That might change if Android takes off.

Apple Joins AT&T/Verizon Spat With New iPhone Ads 

Two new commercials from Apple tout the iPhone’s ability to access the AT&T data network while on a voice call — something Verizon’s CDMA network doesn’t allow.

This is a much more effective response than AT&T’s own. Attack with your strengths rather than defend your weaknesses.

Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.2 Now Available, Restores Previously Disputed Apple Icons 

New version of Rogue Amoeba’s iPhone app is already available in the App Store, restoring the previously-disputed display of icons showing the type of Mac and the application from which the audio is being sent.

I hate to say I told you so (where by “hate” I of course mean “love”), but I told you this was not about violating the terms of the SDK agreement, but was about trademark protection. In plain English, the SDK Agreement says you can’t misuse Apple’s trademarks. It’s clear that Apple agrees that Rogue Amoeba was not misusing Apple’s trademarks.

Today’s ‘Not Invented Here’ 

The App Store is getting more efficient.

International Blue Beanie Day 

Zeldman:

Don a blue toque to show your support for web standards.

Phil Schiller Talks About the iPhone App Approval Process With BusinessWeek 

The most interesting thing about Arik Hesseldahl’s interview with Schiller for BusinessWeek isn’t anything that Schiller says, but that the interview exists at all. The debate about the App Store review process is expanding into the mainstream press, and that’s a good thing. Apple cares far more about how customers perceive the App Store than developers (which attitude is probably exactly right).

Some of the details of the interview are interesting, too, including talk about Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil Speakers Touch rejection on trademark grounds:

Schiller didn’t directly address Airfoil Speakers, but he says Apple is trying to make trademark guidelines more sophisticated. “We need to delineate something that might confuse the customer and be an inappropriate use of a trademark from something that’s just referring to a product for the sake of compatibility,” he says.

That sounds exactly right.

AOL Reveals New Brand and Logo 

They should have just renamed the company “lol”.

Russell Beattie on Android Fragmentation 

Russell Beattie disagrees with Tim Bray:

Well, actually, I have to say there is splintering going on, and it is a big deal. The splintering isn’t in the traditional “binary break” style that one normally thinks of when using that word, but it’s still just as deadly to a platform.

Tim Bray on Android Market Fragmentation 

Tim Bray:

Here’s what I think: First of all, Android is still one of the most important platforms out there for the next few years. Second, we still haven’t seen a truly great Android phone (the Droid’s not it). It’s going to be interesting.

I don’t disagree with Bray’s conclusion. And I haven’t used a Droid so I won’t judge it, and there are definitely others who would argue that the Droid is the first great Android phone. I’ll just say that if the consensus winds up that the Droid isn’t a great Android phone, this is the sort of attitude that’ll sink Android. It’s the same attitude desktop Linux has always had, that the future is going to be great, so don’t worry about the present.

Like a sports team that’s always saying “Wait until next year”, meanwhile, Apple has won another championship this year.

Lux Delux 

My thanks to Sillysoft for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Lux Delux, a Risk-like world domination strategy game for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Lux offers over 700 maps, including fantasy realms and historical scenarios, and has a map editor for building boards of your own. Lux also offers cross-platform network play. There’s even an SDK for programming AI opponents.

And there’s a version for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I’m a sucker for this type of game — I’ve lost a lot of time to both the Mac and iPhone versions of Lux.

Gameloft Says It’s Cutting Back on Android Development 

Alexandre de Rochefort, finance director of French game developer Gameloft:

“We are selling 400 times more games on iPhone than on Android.”

Yours Truly on iPhone OS Private API Usage 

Apologies for the self-link, but I’ve gotten a few questions today from readers asking, honestly, just what the problem is with private APIs. This piece I wrote last year addresses it.

As an addendum, I think there are many developers, especially those who aren’t coming to the iPhone from the Mac, who don’t understand how seriously Apple takes its public APIs. When Apple publishes an official API, it’s a serious commitment that says how something works and will continue to work in the future. Private APIs are subject to change or go away. The idea that something marked private works now so why not use it? is short-sighted. The iPhone OS isn’t just something that Apple has built to last for a couple of years. It’s a platform they’re building to last for the foreseeable future. They don’t want apps in the Store that aren’t future-proof.

Amazon.com Has the Droid for $150 

Requires a two-year service contract with Verizon, of course, but that’s $50 lower than Verizon’s price. Even cheaper: Dell is selling it for just $120 (again, with a contract), at least in certain areas.

The Geography of the U.S. Recession 

Animated time-lapse map of county-by-county unemployment rates in the U.S. since January 2007. Jarring.

Juicy Bits App Incorrectly Flagged as Using Private APIs 

This one seems to be a genuine incorrect rejection for private API use: Juicy Bits has a camera-based app that uses OS 3.1-only camera features, but still runs on OS 3.0 by disabling those features when the app runs on OS 3.0. This particular feature — customizing UIImagePickerController — was frequently abused by private API users in the past, prior to Apple’s introduction of official support for this stuff in OS 3.1.

According to Juicy Bits, they’re not doing that, but their app was rejected anyway:

We’re now wondering if the static analysis tool sees the 3.1.x API call in our app, notices that it runs on 3.0.x devices (that don’t support the new APIs), and flags or rejects it as a result. This would actually make sense! The only problem is that the tool appears to be ignoring the code where we check the device version before making that call, and that may be the nuance that’s causing all of our delays.

Gdgt’s Downloadable Chrome OS VMware Image 

Gdgt has a VMware image of the open source Chrome OS version that Google released yesterday. Engadget put together a video showing how to install and use it. If you’re curious to see it in action (as I was), this is far easier than compiling it from source. Hooray for VMware.

But be warned — this release is far behind the version of Chrome that Google actually demoed during their event yesterday. This open source release is missing much of the cool stuff shown yesterday, and only fully works if you have a special google.com account — presumably only available right now to Google employees. You can get more from watching this aforelinked video than by running this image in VMware.

Chrome OS Demo From Yesterday’s Google Event 

This YouTube video has the demo portion of yesterday’s Chrome OS announcement event. Best tour of the UI I’ve seen.

Postage 

By the way, if you haven’t seen it before, RogueSheep’s Postage is a very slick iPhone app: it’s a simple little “virtual postcard” app with tons of polish and style.

RogueSheep’s Postage App Flagged by Apple’s Static Analysis Tool 

This is admittedly a little technical. But the gist of it is that RogueSheep sort of got screwed by having their app rejected for this. Their app linked to a version of the Three20 framework that overrode, not called, a private API — i.e. it replaced a private method with its own method of the same name. And Postage, the app, wasn’t even actually calling it. Apple’s tool apparently can’t discern the difference, so developers need to be aware of this or risk automatic rejection.

RogueSheep’s Chris Parrish concludes:

Personally, I’d love to see Apple give us access to the analysis tool to run against our own builds before submission. Or if that’s not possible, perhaps a modification to the review process so this automated analysis happens sooner in the process so we don’t lose so much ground in the now 14-day wait for the review process to complete.

Making the static analysis tool available to developers would indeed be helpful. But I suspect it wouldn’t work in terms of game theory. Honest developers could make good use of having access to the tool, to help ensure their projects are free of private API violations. But dishonest developers would use the tool to figure out ways to slip private API calls past the checker. Parrish’s second request, for Apple to run the tool against submissions far sooner in the review process, strikes me as a good and reasonable one.

Update: Here’s a note from an informed DF reader:

Overriding private methods in a category is far worse than calling them directly.

Everything in your process will get the overridden behavior of the private method and assumptions about side effects go out the window.

Joe Hewitt’s Three20 Framework and Private APIs 

One consequence of Apple’s crackdown on the use of private API calls is that some apps are using them, or at least including them in their binaries, without knowing it. One popular open source framework, Joe Hewitt’s Three20 (linked here on DF back in March), played a bit fast and loose with private APIs, and so now there are numerous developers with apps getting flagged for private API calls made from the Three20 framework. This Google Groups thread covers the problem and the work that’s being done to create a branch of Three20 that’s free of private API calls.

(Hewitt, of course, was in the news last week after he quit as lead developer of the Facebook iPhone app citing frustrations with the App Store process. It’s reasonable to wonder whether this had anything to do with Apple’s crackdown on private APIs, because the Three20 framework was originally extracted from the Facebook app. I exchanged a few emails with Hewitt on the matter, and that’s not the case — his frustrations with the App Store process lie elsewhere.)

App Store Submissions Are Now Being Tested for Use of Private APIs 

John Herrman at Gizmodo explains the basic gist of the static analysis tool Apple is now running against App Store submissions, to identify (and reject) apps that use private API calls. Apple has been explicit from the get-go that doing so was a bad idea and reason for rejection, so I think this tool is a good idea, in general. The trick will be making sure it doesn’t generate false positives.

Check Out This Photo From a Microsoft-Hosted Event 

Notice anything about most of the laptops?

Paul Graham on How the App Store Has Damaged Apple’s Reputation With Developers 

The hard part about criticizing the App Store is that it doesn’t fit into a black-and-white narrative. It’s not bad or good. It’s both. In fact, it’s more extreme than that — it’s both amazingly good and horribly bad. And, frustratingly, many of us see how the bad parts could be made better without sacrificing the good parts.

This piece by Paul Graham addresses this dichotomy, and tries to make sense of Apple’s seeming blindness to the App Store’s severe problems:

Actually I suppose Apple has a third misconception: that all the complaints about App Store approvals are not a serious problem. They must hear developers complaining. But partners and suppliers are always complaining. It would be a bad sign if they weren’t; it would mean you were being too easy on them. Meanwhile the iPhone is selling better than ever. So why do they need to fix anything?

Later on, Graham captures what it is that gives me The Fear:

An organization that wins by exercising power starts to lose the ability to win by doing better work.

I wish I’d written that sentence.

Michael Gartenberg on Apple’s Retail Stores 

Michael Gartenberg:

I used to postulate that Apple had become the Nordstrom for technology retail. Ever shop at Nordstrom’s? If you haven’t, you should just for the experience. In fact, if you run a support organization, you should go to Nordstrom’s and shop for training purposes.

I don’t think Apple is the Nordstrom of technology any more. I just think they’re the new Nordstrom as defined by level of service.

Yeah, but do they dance?

Birdfeed 1.2 

Lots of new stuff in Buzz Andersen’s excellent iPhone Twitter app, including support for Flickr for uploading image attachments and excellent integration of Twitter’s just-released geolocation API.

Chrome OS Will Not Support Hard Disk Drives 

Lucas Mearian:

Google Inc. said today that the upcoming release of its new Google Chrome operating system will not support products hard disk drives in favor of solid state drives (SSD).

This is smart. First, Chrome doesn’t need large amounts of local storage. Second, going SSD-only lets Google use a file system that is designed from the ground up for random access drives. If you can count on the drive being solid state, you can make all sorts of performance optimizations. They’re building for the future.

Alex Payne on Chrome OS 

Smartest thing I’ve seen so far about Chrome OS is this tweet by Alex Payne:

I have no opinion about Chrome OS. All I know is that cheap hardware feels cheap. It’s less “cloud computing” than “disposable computing”.

Microsoft Files Patent Claim for Edward Tufte’s Sparklines 

Ridiculous. It seems as though they’re not trying to patent sparklines in general, but rather the specific idea of sparklines embedded in a spreadsheet grid, but still.

Here’s Microsoft’s write-up on the feature. Looks great. Excel has always been my favorite app from Microsoft.

Chromium OS User Experience 

Lots of information here about what Chrome OS is going to look like and how it’s going to work. In a nut, it’s an OS that boots in under 10 seconds and gives you a WebKit browser. It does more than a browser, like by recognizing when USB mass storage devices (cameras, Android phones, etc.) are plugged in, but you don’t do things like deal with a local file system or install applications. You turn it on, you use the Web.

(Just like with Chrome the browser, with Chrome OS, “Chromium” designates the open source branch.)

Live Stream of Google Chrome OS Webcast 

The only options are RealPlayer and Windows Media. In Google’s defense, though, Apple hasn’t bothered to even try live-streaming an event for years.

Mark Pilgrim is killing it with his live-tweet coverage.

Update: VLC-friendly streaming URL.

Olympus BioScapes Competition Winners 

Nice microscopic imagery.

DigiTimes’s Odd Tablet Rumor 

So the big news so far today is this report in DigiTimes stating that Apple has delayed its tablet from March until “the second half of 2010” because of significant changes to the display components. Keep in mind that Apple has never publicly said a damn thing, not a word, about any new tablet computer, let alone ever stated that it was due in March. This is one of those stories where what they really mean is that Apple has missed a rumored deadline.

But the details of DigiTimes’s report strike me as very odd:

The sources also indicated that in addition to Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), Quanta Computer and Pegatron Technology are expected to be manufacturing partners for Apple’s two tablet PC models — one of which will have a 10.6-inch TFT LCD panel while the other will have a 9.7-inch OLED panel.

This makes no sense to me. Why would Apple have two tablet models with entirely different displays that are only one inch different in size? We’re into the third year of the iPhone and there’s still just one single display type and form factor. Apple may well have placed orders for both these types of displays, but I say no way are both for tablet computers.

Amazon.com Has the Palm Pre Phone for $80 

Requires a two-year contract with Sprint, but still, that’s a big discount off Sprint’s regular price of $150. And, they’ve got the Pixi for just $25.

12,000-Faceted Diamond 

The NYT:

By the time the Yankees rushed the field to celebrate their 27th World Series victory, Robert Caplin had photographed the action — 12,000 times. The result is a romantic and captivating time-lapse presentation.

Captivating.

Camino 2.0 

Tons of new features and improvements. I’m going to give it a shot as my daily browser.

Scroll Clock 

Nice JavaScript hack.

Google’s Clearwire Investment Gives It the Option to Resell Sprint 3G and 4G Wireless Service 

Dan Frommer:

Recall that Google has the ability to buy Sprint 3G (and Clearwire 4G) services and re-sell them to consumers, via its $500 million investment in Clearwire. Google could play the role of “virtual” network operator, offering smartphone service for much cheaper than a carrier might sell it at retail.

Could Google’s Phone Be a Net Neutral One? 

Carl Howe speculates that if Google is going to release their own phone, it’d be unsubsidized and unlocked, able to run on any major carrier’s network. That would still be contrary to what Andy Rubin said last month, and still strikes me as something that would antagonize existing Android handset makers. And you’d still have to pay for a monthly voice and data plan, the cost of which isn’t likely to be any less than the plans for subsidized phones.

But, if this is what Google has in mind, perhaps Google itself would be willing to “subsidize” the cost of the phone to some degree in anticipation of mobile advertising revenue. There’d have to be some sort of hook like that, because a starting price of $400 or $500 just isn’t going to cut it against subsidized iPhones and Droids that start at $99.

What if the Google Phone Is Data Only, With VOIP for Voice? 

If there’s any truth to this Google phone rumor, I think Mike Arrington may be onto something here:

The Google Phone may be a data only, VoIP driven device. And Google may be lining up at least AT&T to provide those data services for the Google Phone, says one person we spoke with today.

The idea is that you’d just pay for a data plan, get a phone number and voice mail through Google Voice, and all your “calls” and SMS would go over IP. Lower monthly bill, no bullshit about minutes. It’s a wonderful idea — I just can’t believe any of the U.S. carriers would go for it.

I Am Not Making This Up 

To watch this video from Microsoft regarding the upcoming IE 9’s support for standards and interoperability, you are prompted to install Silverlight. (Via Mark Pilgrim.)

Fraidy Cats 

I’ve started a log of who’s afraid (and not) of the terrorists.

‘I’m Going to Tell My Son the Worst Swearword in the World’ 

Jon Ronson:

My eight-year-old son, Joel, comes into my office to ask if there’s a worse swearword than fuck. “No,” I say.

There’s a silence. “You’re lying,” he says.

“There’s none worse than fuck,” I say.

Joel narrows his eyes. “I know you’re lying,” he says.

(Ronson made the excellent documentary Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes.)

Filed Away for Future Claim Chowder: Mike Arrington Says Google Is Making Its Own Android Phone 

Mike Arrington says Google is definitely making its own phone, coming in “early 2010”:

Way more interesting are the rumors we’ve been hearing for months about a pure Google-branded phone. Most of our sources have unconfirmed information, which we describe below. But there are a few things we have absolutely confirmed: Google is building their own branded phone that they’ll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding (Microsoft did the same thing with their first Zunes, which were built by Toshiba).

That puts Arrington on the same side as the almost-always-full-of-shit Scott Moritz. On the other side: Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Android at Google, who just two weeks ago said Google would not “compete with its customers” and “We’re not making hardware. We’re enabling other people to build hardware.”

So either Mike Arrington is totally wrong or Andy Rubin is a liar.

At the outset of Google’s Android initiative, I was a proponent of their creating a Google-branded, Google-designed reference handset. But at this point, after promising their hardware partners for 18 months that they wouldn’t do that, I don’t see how Google could do it without infuriating their partners and spoiling their trust. It’d be like what Microsoft did to its PlaysForSure partners when it introduced the Zune.

Atlas Developer Beta 

Now in beta, 280 North’s developer tool for building and designing Cappuccino apps for the web and desktop. Access to the beta program is $20.

Indie iPhone Developers Band Against Jackass Tim Langdell’s ‘Edge’ Trademark Claims 

This is great:

In an apparent move to band against Tim Langdell’s over aggressive defense of the trademark “EDGE”, a number of indie developers have made announcements today that their games will incorporate the EDGE name.

Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie on Mobile Apps 

Anthony Ha for VentureBeat:

Microsoft’s chief software architect Ray Ozzie weighed in at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference today on the battle between different smartphone platforms (including Windows Mobile). It’s not the applications available on the different platforms that will be the differentiators, Ozzie said, even though that’s what many companies and writers seem to focus on.

“All the apps that count will be ported to every one of them,” he said. It’s a completely different situation from the PC market, where software’s built to run on a Windows or a Mac, he said. Mobile apps require very little development, so it’s much easier to bring them onto every platform.

Stupid and wrong, but what else is he going to say? There’s nothing truthful or accurate he could say about mobile development that looks good for Microsoft. If I were at Microsoft, I’d say their best bet should be to start arguing that mobile web apps are the future of mobile development, rather than native apps. That might actually be true, and it actually gives them a chance — if they were either able to produce a WebKit-caliber mobile browser or willing simply to adopt WebKit themselves. A big if, but at least that’s possible.

Good Question 

Good question raised by Guy English: Why is it OK for the new Star Wars: Trench Run iPhone game to include this image of an iPhone, when many other apps, like for example Instapaper, have been rejected for including original icon artwork that merely resembles an iPhone?

Scene From a Microsoft Store 

Jiminy.

‘My Perfect Day Is Sitting in a Room With Some Blank Paper. That’s Heaven. That’s Gold and Anything Else Is Just a Waste of Time.’ 

Terrific WSJ interview with Cormac McCarthy:

WSJ: How does that ticking clock affect your work? Does it make you want to write more shorter pieces, or to cap things with a large, all-encompassing work?

CM: I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.

Silent Over-the-Air Software Update Fixes Droid Camera Bug? 

Am I the only one who thinks that if Apple issued an over-the-air iPhone software update — no notice, no confirmation — that it would generate a Category 5 shit storm?

Update: Oops, too quick to judge on this one. Here’s a forum thread suggesting that there was no software update, but instead that it is a date-based bug:

There’s a rounding-error bug in the camera driver’s autofocus routine (which uses a timestamp) that causes autofocus to behave poorly on a 24.5-day cycle. That is, it’ll work for 24.5 days, then have poor performance for 24.5 days, then work again.

The 17th is the start of a new “works correctly” cycle, so the devices will be fine for a while. A permanent fix is in the works.

Droid users who set their clocks back a few days now have the autofocus problem again.

Basic Maths 

New from Khoi Vinh and Allan Cole: a sharp, clever, grid-based theme for WordPress. Customizable and well-documented. $45.

Dan Provost on Interruptions From the iPhone SMS App 

Dan Provost:

My proposal has nothing to do with running apps in the background, but rather, to improve the way the native out-of-the-box apps run in the foreground. As an iPhone user, my ultimate annoyance is receiving a text message notification while using an app, and not being able to reply to the message without exiting the app. The proposed solution (demonstrated in the video below) has the messaging interface open up in the foreground when “Reply” is tapped, rather than exiting the app.

Receiving an SMS you wish to reply to while using an app that loses context when you quit/relaunch is, without question, one of my biggest iPhone peeves. I filed a Radar enhancement request on this back in July and it was marked as a duplicate.

(Also, dig the title of Provost’s weblog.)

Star Wars: Trench Run Game Released for iPhone 

Oh hell yeah.

File This One Under ‘Things I Never Expected to Say’ 

I agree with Grover Norquist.

Windows Mobile Market Share Drops by About 30 Percent in 2009 

David Meyer reports:

According to figures released by Gartner on Thursday, Microsoft’s mobile operating system had 11 percent of the global smartphone market in Q3 2008. A year later, it had 7.9 percent of the market, while the iPhone’s share had risen from 12.9 percent to 17.1 percent, and RIM’s share had risen from 16 percent to 20.8 percent. Symbian’s market share fell from 49.7 percent to 44.6 percent over the same period — a 10 percent drop.

I’m sure Steve Ballmer has the whole situation under control, and everything is proceeding exactly according to Microsoft’s plans to achieve their stated goal from May 2008 for Windows Mobile to account for 40 percent of the global smartphone market by 2012.

Facebook App for WebOS 

It looks like a Twitter client.

Turley Muller on iPhone Profitability 

Turley Muller, whose track record on Apple financials has been remarkably accurate in recent quarters, shows why he believes that (a) Apple generated $2 billion in profit on iPhone sales last quarter (suggesting that Strategy Analytics’s $1.6B estimate was low), and (b) Apple’s profit margins on iPhones are around 60 percent.

In short: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer implicitly revealed during the most recent finance call that the average selling price for an iPhone during the quarter was about $610. If Apple can sell iPod Touches for $199, the cost of goods for an iPhone 3GS is probably around $250. That’s right in line with other savvy Apple analysts’ estimate of around $350 average margin (pre-tax) per iPhone. Give or take $10 or $20 here or there and it doesn’t make much difference: you multiply that by 7.4 million iPhones and you get a lot of fucking money.

Seriously, just look at these numbers from Muller.

Taming Light: Stanley Kubrick Exhibition Poster 

Gorgeous poster by Martin Ansin.

Google Wave’s Scrollbars 

Another spot-on bit of UI analysis from Lukas Mathis. I love how he illustrates these pieces — so thoughtful.

Learning Advanced JavaScript 

Nifty interactive tutorial by John Resig.

Typographic Howlers 

From a NYT story on those who notice typographic errors and discrepancies:

“I think sometimes that being overly type-sensitive is like an allergy,” said Michael Bierut, a partner in the Pentagram design group in New York. “My font nerdiness makes me have bad reactions to things that spoil otherwise pleasant moments.”

Apple Beats Psystar in Court 

Groklaw:

The court’s message is clear: EULAs mean what they say; if you don’t want to abide by its license, leave Apple’s stuff alone.

Nice Piece by the Macalope 

Love the “inappropriately-named” joke.

Combination Log-In/Sign-Up Forms 

Clever UI design from Leah Culver.

Apple Reverses Decision on Congressional Caricatures iPhone App 

As previously linked here. (Via MacDailyNews.)

BusyCal 

Thanks to BusyMac for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote BusyCal, their new alternative to iCal. On their web site, they say “Think of it as iCal Pro”. That’s a bold statement, but that’s exactly what BusyCal is. It does nearly everything iCal does, does it better, and adds so much more. The biggest feature is sharing calendars — both on the local network and across the Internet. BusyCal contains all the features of BusySync, which I’ve raved about for years.

BusyCal also offers: a superior event-editing interface, recurring to-dos, a list view, and it syncs with Google Calendar and the iPhone. I consider BusyCal a must-have utility.

Through 1 December 2009, DF readers can save 20 percent off BusyCal with coupon code “DARINGFIREBALL”.

Fighting Fantasy Gamebook Flowcharts 

Per yesterday’s link regarding the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, and my desire to see their decision trees mapped out as info-graphics, DF reader Neil E. Hobbs kindly pointed me to this collection of SVG flowcharts. Excellent.

(Note: I couldn’t get the SVG images to render properly using Safari, but they seem to render fine in Firefox and Opera. They’re enormous. For those of you using browsers where they don’t render, I’ve exported the map for the first book, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, as a GIF file here.)

NASA Mission Finds Water on Moon 

Kenneth Chang, reporting for the NYT:

The satellite, known as Lcross (pronounced L-cross), slammed into a crater near the Moon’s south pole a month ago. The impact carved out a hole 60 to 100 feet wide and kicked up at least 24 gallons of water.

“We got more than just whiff,” said Peter H. Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator of the mission. “We practically tasted it with the impact.”

Do Music Artists Fare Better in a World With Illegal File-Sharing? 

Fascinating data assembled by The Times Online, indicating that music artists are making more money in the post-file-sharing era than before, because of a big jump in live performance revenue. The only group that is making less revenue is the record labels.

(Terrible choices on the chart colors, though. Almost impossible to discern the different shades of blue. Update: Reader Chris Moore put this clarified version up on Skitch.)

Today’s XKCD 

Apt.

App Store Four-Month-Long Wait for a Bug Fix to Be Accepted of the Week: Airfoil Speakers Touch 1.0.1 

[Update: Rogue Amoeba’s site was down, but is now back up.]

Rogue Amoeba submitted a small bug fix update to Airfoil Speakers Touch in July. It wasn’t accepted until this week. The reason: when you use it to stream audio from a Mac on your local network, it (a) shows a picture of the type of Mac doing the streaming, and (b) shows a small icon of the app on the Mac playing the audio. Version 1.0 did these things and was in the Store. Version 1.0.1 did the exact same things and was not accepted.

Paul Kafasis:

Rogue Amoeba no longer has any plans for additional iPhone applications, and updates to our existing iPhone applications will likely be rare. The iPhone platform had great promise, but that promise is not enough, so we’re focusing on the Mac.

At a certain point good developers are just going to say, “I don’t need this.” Also, judging from the comments on the piece from die-hard defenders of the App Store, there’s clearly a misconception about where these images of Mac computers and app icons are coming from. These images — which, yes, are copyrighted by Apple — are not stored within the Airfoil Speakers Touch application. They are being sent from Airfoil on the Mac over the network, live, as the audio streams. Airfoil on the Mac is using public APIs to get these images. It’s petty nonsense. It’s like if you wrote a VNC client for the iPhone and Apple rejected it because when you connect to the display of a remote Mac, you can see Apple trademarked icons in the Dock. The UI problem Rogue Amoeba solved was the question of which computer your iPhone Airfoil client is connected to. Which computer? This computer, look at it. Apple, of all companies, should know that a visual solution is better than a textual one.

Dell Zino HD 

Mac Mini-ish PCs with original, colorful industrial design.

David Pogue on Verizon’s and AT&T’s $2 Per Pop Data Scams 

This is awful.

‘I Can Go a Little Deeper’ 

Hilarious, gruesome Penn and Teller appearance on the old Late Night With David Letterman Show, with Rob Pike as their lab assistant. How did I not know about this? (Thanks to Dr. Drang.)

Rob Pike’s Google Tech Talk on the Go Programming Language 

Probably not of much interest if you’re not at least somewhat of a comp-sci nerd, but, if you are, how many times do you get see a legend like Pike introduce a new programming language? I have a feeling that Go is going to be a big deal.

Fighting Fantasy Game Books 

Of all the various Choose Your Own Adventure-type books, the Fighting Fantasy series, created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, was by far and away my favorite. I read/played them all, obsessively. They felt more like games than any of the others (and included a simple D&D-esque dice-based combat system), but were also much better written, better typeset, and better illustrated. Rather than going by pages, they went by numbered entries, generally with more than one entry per page. Most of the books had exactly 400 entries, so the gameplay was vastly more complex than any of the regular CYOB-style books. I’d love to see info-graphic diagrams of their decision trees a la the work by Christian Swinehart I linked to yesterday.

I can’t say enough good things about the Fighting Fantasy books and how much they meant to me in my early teens. I loved them.

Update: Unsurprisingly, there is a good Wikipedia entry.

AT&T Files Legal Complaint Against Verizon Over 3G Coverage Map Ads 

Funny to read a legal filing that references Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Abominable Snow Monster.

Gartner Estimates for Worldwide Smartphone Market Share 

Apple’s year-over-year share grew from 13 to 17 percent; RIM’s from 16 to 21. HTC grew from 4.5 to 6.5, and Samsung held steady at 3. Nokia dropped from 42 to 39 percent, and the big loser was the “Other” category, which dropped precipitously from 21 to 13 percent.

Now seems like a good time to once again recall the words of Steve Ballmer two years ago:

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

ifoAppleStore on the Upper West Side Store 

Don’t miss the photo gallery.

News From the Opening of the New Upper West Side Apple Store 

Matt Buchanan reports on Ron Johnson’s remarks:

  • Sales per store: $26 million, which is just below what Macy’s, Target and Best Buy make per store. But, if you look at the real estate, it’s a slightly different picture. Apple Stores do sales of $4,300 per square foot which is 5× the $872 per square foot Best Buy does.

  • Wow — over 100,000 applicants on file for jobs at the Apple Store worldwide. 10,000 people submitted applications for the new Upper West Side store. Just over 200 got a job.

One Book, Many Readings 

Detailed analysis and info-graphic visualizations of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, by Christian Swinehart. Beautiful and fantastically detailed work. Be sure to explore the sections of the site from the menu atop the page. Truly wonderful. (Via Andy Baio.)

Joe Hewitt, Developer of Facebook App, Quits iPhone Development Over App Store Review Policies 

Joe Hewitt:

My decision to stop iPhone development has had everything to do with Apple’s policies. I respect their right to manage their platform however they want, however I am philosophically opposed to the existence of their review process.

Update: Regardless how you feel about Apple’s App Store stewardship, you have to admit there’s at least some irony here.

Wolfram Alpha Partners With Bing 

Seems like a good deal for both of them. I don’t see the integration yet when I try their suggested examples, but Microsoft’s announcement claims the features are coming in the “next few days”. I thought this was curious, though:

Microsoft’s initiative and interest in Wolfram|Alpha began earlier this year. In fact, there is an interesting story that circulates within our walls around some of our early discussions with Microsoft.

Highlighting examples of Wolfram|Alpha to the most senior executives at Microsoft, Stephen Wolfram entered the query “2^2^2^2^2”. Upon seeing the result, Bill Gates interrupted to say, “What, is that right?”

A profound silence fell over the entire room. Stephen replied, “We do mathematics!”

Bill Gates still attends meetings like this at Microsoft?

‘We Don’t Lie to Google’ 

Ben Casnocha on the contrast in Google suggestions for slightly differently-worded queries. (Via Kottke.)

Apple’s Pursuit of Profit Rather Than Market Share 

And speaking of MG Siegler, he has a good piece about Apple’s pursuit of profit rather than raw market share. This might be the single key factor to understand about Apple as a business. The difference between Apple and its competitors can be striking. Siegler writes:

According to the report, Apple made $1.6 billion in operating profit off of the iPhone in Q3. Nokia, meanwhile, made $1.1 billion. Let’s put this in perspective. Recent numbers suggest Nokia controls roughly 35% of the worldwide handset market. Apple? About 2.5%.

Not 25%. Two point five percent.

Another way to put it is that Apple is concerned with unit share, but only in the most profitable segments of the market.

Birdfeed and Twitter Geo-Location 

Speaking of Twitter, here’s MG Siegler on the imminent new version of Birdfeed, which has terrific built-in support for Twitter geo-location.

Evan Williams Explains Twitter’s New Retweet Feature 

Great explanation of the thinking behind a major new feature.

One thing to keep in mind is that Twitter, having reached the size of a pop-culture (rather than mere tech-culture) phenomenon, is going to stir up loud complaints every time they change anything, regardless of the merits of the change itself. Good for them for not being afraid to keep moving the service forward.

Quote of the Day 

James Cameron, from Dana Goodyear’s profile in The New Yorker:

“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.”

So true. (Via Jamie Dihiansan.)

Updated Version of Khoi Vinh’s Revenue/Payroll Baseball Table, Taking Into Account Mid-Season Trades and Acquisitions 

Nice work from Punching Kitty.

Visualizing CNN.com’s Traffic 

Nicholas Felton:

Ultimately, I think the most fascinating story here is the change in our news habits after September 11, 2001. After this day, a new and higher baseline for visits to the site is established, and the inference is that this event really established CNN.com and the greater Internet as a reliable, timely and indispensable source for news.

Hacker Tool Copies Personal Info From Compromised Jailbroken iPhones 

Intego:

It is important to note that standard, non-jailbroken iPhones are not at risk; it is extremely dangerous to jailbreak an iPhone because of the vulnerabilities that this process creates. (Estimates suggest that 6-8% of iPhones are jailbroken.)

I am personally wary of jailbreaking, but more from a stability/reliability perspective, not security. I’m skeptical about the above blanket statement. To date, the only security problems that have arisen are not for jailbroken iPhones in general, but jailbroken iPhones running SSH with the default root password. What security holes have been identified that affect jailbroken phones that aren’t running SSH or on which the root password has been changed?

Update: OK, here’s a good security issue created by jailbreaking itself, from Dino Dai Zovi (whom I interviewed back in 2007):

Also, remember that jailbreaking your iPhone disables code signing enforcement. That’s the thing that makes exploits so hard on iPhone.

Google Tutorial Videos for Android 2.0 

Google’s tour through the Android 2.0 UI. (Via Dave Winer’s excellent new weblog, Droidie.)

The Go Programming Language 

New systems level programming language from Google (but, judging from the copyright statements, not an official Google project). Go has built-in garbage collection, a simpler syntax than Java or C++, fast compilation times and excellent performance — and it was designed with concurrency in mind. Interesting and ambitious, to say the least.

Among many interesting details, it ships with a utility named gofmt, which formats Go source code according to a standardized style — which standardized style uses tabs, not spaces (hooray). Go uses a Pascal-style “:=” assignment operator for initializing values (hooray). And, regarding my own tiny sliver of expertise, the Regexp library offers only a crude regular expression syntax (boo).

Update: Some amazing names are behind Go, including Ken Thompson and Rob Pike.

Bada — New Mobile Platform From Samsung 

Samsung bada is a new open platform that enables a richer user experience in applications on Samsung mobile devices.

No idea what it looks like or what the technical details are. Nothing specific at all, really. But one thing is certain: Samsung isn’t comfortable putting their fate in Windows Mobile’s hands. [Insert your own joke about integration with Microsoft’s Bing here.]

Mac OS X 10.6.2 Doesn’t Run on Hackintoshes With Atom CPUs 

“There is no other logical reason why Apple would do this unless they’re going to enter this space with some sort of tablet-type device,” said Shane Spiess, president of Portland, Ore.-based Apple reseller MacForce.

Um, how about the simple explanation that they don’t want people installing Mac OS X on machines other than Macs?

Even simpler explanation: it could just be a bug that’ll be fixed in 10.6.3. Breaking compatibility with a CPU Apple has never used certainly isn’t a high priority.

Theme Park Maps 

I just lost an hour here. Fabulous. (Via Nicholas Felton.)

Analyst: Apple Beats Nokia as World’s Most Profitable Handset-Maker in Last Quarter 

Reuters:

Apple overtook Nokia in the third quarter as the cellphone maker generating the highest total operating profit in the industry, research firm Strategy Analytics said on Tuesday. […]

Apple does not unveil profits per business line, but Strategy Analytics estimated Apple’s operating profit for its iPhone handset unit stood at $1.6 billion in the third quarter, compared with Nokia’s $1.1 billion.

Now seems like a good time to recall the words of former Palm CEO Ed Colligan, a mere three years ago:

Responding to questions from New York Times correspondent John Markoff at a Churchill Club breakfast gathering Thursday morning, Colligan laughed off the idea that any company — including the wildly popular Apple Computer — could easily win customers in the finicky smart-phone sector.

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

CFPropertyList — PHP and Ruby Libraries for Generating Binary Plists 

Remember this link two weeks ago, where Sam Soffes discovered that for iPhone apps that take data from web services, JSON (parsed with TouchJSON) out-performed XML property lists?

The most common pro-plist retort was that of course XML plists were slow and one should use the binary plist format instead — smaller to transmit, faster to parse. And on iPhone OS, every bit of size reduction and speed counts. The problem with binary plists is how do you generate them from a non-Mac OS X server?

Ends up there’s an open source PHP library by Rodney Rehm and Christian Kruse that does just that, and a Ruby version too.

Editor Takes Constructive Revenge 

Toronto Star editor edits memo from publisher announcing the layoff of 100 in-house editors. Blood bath of red ink.

Redesigning the Worst NFL Helmet Graphics 

I particularly love the re-imagined Buccaneers helmet, and I like how the Redskins one stays true to their established brand. Any discussion of great NFL helmet designs ought to mention the Steelers, though.

Le Petit Dummy 

Crudely funny, exquisitely crafted iPhone gag app by Robert Hodgin and William Lindmeier. It’s the Clutch Cargo trick, with moving lips on a still photo. Interesting business model too — the app is free, but you have to pay (using in-app purchasing) to unlock the ability to use your own pictures or audio.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Has Rare Form of Leukemia 

NPR:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is being treated for a rare form of leukemia, and the basketball great said his prognosis is encouraging. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer was diagnosed last December with chronic myeloid leukemia, he told The Associated Press on Monday.

Godspeed.

One Finger Discount 

20 percent discount, this week only, for Mac software from more than 100 indie developers.

Google Providing Free Airport Wi-Fi for the Holidays 

Google:

Google Inc. today announced that it is working with airports across the country as well as Boingo Wireless, Advanced Wireless Group, Airport Marketing Income and others to provide free Wi-Fi as a holiday gift now through January 15, 2010. The gift currently includes 47 airports, including Las Vegas, San Jose, Boston, Baltimore, Burbank, Houston, Indianapolis, Seattle, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis and Charlotte. Additionally, as a result of this project, Burbank and Seattle airports will begin offering airport-wide free Wi-Fi indefinitely.

What’s not to love about that?

Joe Posnanski on the Yankees Payroll 

Here’s the flip side of the Yankees payroll argument. Needless to say, I disagree.

Lots of Excuses 

The first comment on Robert Scoble’s Droid piece I linked to earlier today is from Thomas Marban, one of the developers of Twidroid, which is widely (maybe even universally) hailed as the leading Twitter client for Android. Marban writes:

one of the main reasons why UIs are unequally inferior are not only the way you build apps (open vs. closed hw/sw system) and the SDK itself but also marginal to non-existing UI standards, no ready-made drag & drop UI items, variations in carrier- & device firmware, hard- & software input, screen sizes, international customizations, modded phones, rooted phones and last but not least completely different expectations among users and the linux’ish target group itself. in a nutshell: beautiful mess. obviously, all these reasons eat up a huge pile of time that one could better spend with improving UX and polishing the interface. those who started early with android development have learned and are still learning it the hard way, just like they did with win 3.1 back in the days.

That doesn’t sound like someone who plans to ever ship something of the caliber of Tweetie, Birdfeed, or Twitterrific. From what I’ve seen of Twidroid, it’s not even as good as Craig Hockenberry’s original version of Twitterrific for iPhone, which was written as a jailbreak app before the iPhone officially supported third-party software. If Android hardware diversity is already a problem for third-party developers, it’s only going to get worse.

Close Votes Are a Feature, Not a Bug 

Interesting political observation from Rafe Colburn:

Every vote over the minimum necessary to secure passage represents compromises that the Democrats as a group would prefer not to make. It’s not that Nancy Pelosi was lucky to pass the bill, it’s that the Democrats wrote the strongest bill they could that would get enough votes to pass. That’s good strategy.

Why Google Dropped $750 Million on AdMob 

$100 million in annual revenue and growing fast.

Droid Limited to 256 MB of Storage for Apps 

Taylor Wimberly:

The Motorola Droid will be the most powerful Android phone to date when it launches on November 6, 2009. However, the device still features the same shortcomings of all other Android phones. The Droid ships with a 512 MB ROM which contains only 256 MB available for app storage.

Google does not support installing apps to the SD card (and likely never will), so developers are limited in what they can create.

This is another one of those things where I simply don’t understand why Motorola doesn’t follow Apple’s lead and provide ample built-in storage rather than relying on removable SD cards. I just checked, and I have about 1.8 gigabytes of apps installed on my iPhone. Many of the top iPhone games weigh in at 50 or even 100 MB each. My two biggest games alone (Texas Hold’em and Need for Speed Undercover) weigh in at just over 256 MB combined. Just two games.

Did Motorola even look at the size of popular apps in the App Store before releasing this?

(HED) Folo My Lede (UNHED) 

William Safire, back in 1990, on “lede” as a variant spelling of “lead”.

Mac OS X 10.6.2 Update 

Lots of fixes.

Marshall Clow Reviews Yojimbo 2.0 for MacNN 

Marshall Clow:

The Tag Explorer, a welcome new feature in Yojimbo 2, lets you see which items are marked with particular tags. Unlike a search mechanism, which is top-down, the Explorer lets you see how your data is organized or, if you are like me, disorganized.

Agreed, great feature.

Google Acquires AdMob for $750 Million 

AdMob provides in-app advertising to a slew of iPhone apps.

Support for Same-Sex Marriage by Age and State 

Striking differences in support by different age groups. There are only 12 states where same-sex marriage doesn’t have majority support from 18-29 year-olds.

Upcoming Ricoh GXR Interchangeable Lens/Sensor Camera System 

Interesting new camera system from Ricoh — rather than just interchangeable lenses, each lens comes with its own image sensor. Ricoh cameras aren’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. My love for my Ricoh GR-D is unholy. (Via Wouter Brandsma.)

Update: Here’s a thread on DPReview.com with some info.

App Store Rejection of the Week: Bobble Rep 

Directory of U.S. congressional representatives and senators, rejected because each is illustrated with an animated bobblehead caricature by Mad Magazine’s Tom Richmond.

(Via Metafilter.)

AT&T Announces New 3G LaptopConnect Device 

So they’re rolling out higher-speed standalone 3G tethering for use with these devices, but still won’t sell tethering service to iPhone users. I cannot wait to dump these clowns.

Robert Scoble on the Droid 

Robert Scoble, long-time iPhone user, bought a Droid, and his thoughts on it are interesting:

Second, the hardware. I totally disagree with CrunchGear on this point. Greg Kumparak said that the Droid is “a shining example of great industrial design.”

Oh, please.

It’s a phone an engineer could love. Compared to the iPhone or the Palm Pre it isn’t even in the same league. The battery door on the back proves my point. The iPhone? They just got rid of the idea of replaceable batteries and the Palm Pre spent a LOT of time making sure that having a replaceable battery did NOT make the phone have a noticeable door. The back of both the iPhone and the Palm Pre is smooth. The back of the Droid is not. That is NOT a shining example of great industrial design.

Android may well have a bright future, and I’m certainly very intrigued by it personally. But I suspect no Android phone will show the attention to detail of an iPhone or a Palm WebOS device.

I’m very much enjoying Scoble’s perspective on the Droid — more about the user experience and less about the technical specs — but I can’t let this bit from his conclusion go without comment:

I told Dave Winer that it looks a lot like Windows 3.1. The Mac back then was way better, but we all know that Apple ended up in 1995 with a small market share compared to Windows 95. The thing is, the Droid is Windows 3.1. It is showing the momentum is shifting but now Google has to ship their metaphorical equivalent of Windows 95. It isn’t this phone.

Windows 95 was a huge improvement over Windows 3.1, and it appeared at a time when Apple’s leadership was weak and the Mac OS was stagnant. But even Windows 3.1 had a massive monopoly-size market share, and I’m pretty sure the Mac never had more than about 5 percent of the U.S. unit sale market share in the ’90s. I don’t think this analogy is applicable to the current situation at all.

Jon Deal on How to Move Your Home Folder Off Your Boot Drive in Mac OS X 

The idea is to use a smallish SSD drive as the boot drive, and a large hard disk for storage.

Rupert Murdoch Threatens to Pull WSJ, Other News Corp. Sites, From Google 

When news sites complain that Google is “ripping them off” by indexing their content, the question is why don’t they just block Google’s spiders via robots.txt? The answer, of course, is that they don’t want to give up the traffic Google throws their way — they want the traffic and they want Google to pay them for it. Murdoch, though, is now saying they just might do it and block Google’s spider.

FingerMgmt — Multi-Touch Demo App for Mac OS X 

Very cool freeware app by Jonas Nordberg — it plots the multi-touch input from a recent vintage MacBook trackpad or the Magic Mouse.

Burying the Lede 

There’s a new worm in Australia that attacks jailbroken iPhones using the default SSH password. I.e. it only works if (a) your iPhone is jailbroken, and (b) you haven’t changed the default root password. Forbes’s Andy Greenberg waits until the fifth paragraph before mentioning this.

Update: Several readers point out that OpenSSH isn’t even installed by default when jailbreaking an iPhone. So that’s a third essential requirement to be vulnerable to this attack.

Slide Different 

Neven Mrgan:

I love Photoshop. It’s where I spend eight hours five times a week. I just wish that one of these days, instead of piling on more furniture, they’d clean up the place.

Verizon Mocks iPhone for AT&T Network 

Great ads. They’re hitting the iPhone on the one factor that’s out of Apple’s control. The “Island of Misfit Toys” spot is particularly good, and is even reminiscent of one of Apple’s own “Get a Mac” ads.

My only quibble is that the message of these ads is along the lines of, If you get an iPhone, you’ll be disappointed by AT&T’s network; get a phone from Verizon instead. I think they’re missing an opportunity here by not making a specific recommendation. They should be pushing the Droid, with a message along the lines of, Don’t get an iPhone on AT&T, get a Droid on Verizon.

It’s fine to keep running separate ad campaigns for Verizon in general and for things like BlackBerrys. But if they’re going to run explicitly anti-iPhone ads, they should use them to establish Droid as the superior rival. I’m not arguing that Verizon should put all its eggs in the Droid basket, just all its holiday season 2009 anti-iPhone eggs.

The Many Sliders of Photoshop CS4 

UI sprawl.

Spots 

I’d like to thank Savoy Software for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Spots, their Wi-Fi hotspot directory app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Spots is a wonderful app, with a gorgeous visual style and thoughtful UI. It works offline (essential for use on an iPod Touch), with a built-in database of over half a million hotspots worldwide, and its use of location awareness and built-in map views feels super smart. If you want an app for finding nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, this is it. Spots is available for just $1.99 on the App Store.

Google Dashboard 

Single-page overview of everything tied to your Google account. Now that I’ve seen it, it’s hard to believe they didn’t offer this until now. Smart.

People in Blinking, Animated Glass Houses 

David Pogue, writing for The New York Times, which puts at least two blinking, animated ads on every page of its site, including this one:

Second, and more important, I don’t think advertisers should be blinking, animating and distracting in the first place. If I’m interested in the product, I’ll read the ad. But trying to pull my focus as I’m trying to read crosses some kind of line.

You know what? I would never click any ad that blinks or animates in the first place. It’s obnoxious and juvenile, and I’m not about to reward them.

(Via Merlin Mann.)

Google Promoting the Droid on Google.com Homepage 

Because the google.com homepage is almost always ad-free, and space there is not for sale, I would call it the most valuable ad space on the entire Internet.

Update: They did the same thing last year for the T-Mobile G1.

OpenOfficeMouse 

The OpenOffice.org open source community has designed their own mouse. It has 18 buttons. This is apparently not a joke.

Update 1: The same designers made an automobile, too.

Dan Frommer on the Lack of Consistency Between Android Phones 

The Droid has multi-touch support in the OS, but doesn’t use it in the UI. The cheaper HTC Eris runs an older version of Android OS and offers multi-touch, but only in HTC’s own custom apps.

Photoshop.com Mobile Android App 

Looks like a feature-for-feature peer of their iPhone app. If anything, the Android version has more features — the screen shots show a straightening tool the iPhone app currently lacks.

Update: Several kind DF readers have emailed or tweeted to point out that the Photoshop iPhone app does have a straightening tool — it just isn’t a named tool. You can straighten with a two-finger rotate in the crop mode. Perhaps the Android version made this a separate mode because the app doesn’t support multi-touch? (And perhaps it can’t because it supports pre-2.0 versions of Android OS?)

Joshua Blankenship on the American Airlines/Dustin Curtis Thing 

Interesting retort from Joshua Blankenship. I agree with him that Dustin Curtis’s original post regarding the AA.com website was flippant, to say the least. But Curtis isn’t the point. “Mr. X”, the UX designer whom American Airlines fired, isn’t the point.

The point is that American Airlines is clearly a failing company. They’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars every quarter. The experience of traveling on one of their flights is terrible. Their website is terrible. These facts are not unrelated.

How does this happen? It happens when a company is run by executives who don’t have taste and aren’t concerned about customer experience.

Update: Seriously, I don’t get this. Any airline should have two goals: make it easy and pleasant to book travel, and make it pleasant to be on their flights. AA sucks at both. Compare and contrast with JetBlue and Southwest.

Live Video From the Yankees Victory Parade and Celebration 

Hard to believe it’s been nine years since the last one. Thoughts already turning to next year, as the crowd chants “28!”

The Incompetence of American Airlines 

Dustin Curtis:

A few months ago, I wrote an article expressing my displeasure with American Airlines’ hideous online presence. I also spent some time mocking up a redesigned version of their website. To my surprise, a user experience designer at AA.com emailed me an amazing response describing some of the design problems faced in large corporations. You should read my original article here and the response from Mr. X here.

An hour after I posted the response, American Airlines fired Mr. X.

Worth reading in its entirety. What’s interesting isn’t that the guy got fired, but his insight into the culture of a failing company.

The bottom line is that American Airlines has talented designers on their UX team, but they’re unable to build a decent web site because the decisions are all made by executives with no taste for design, and no concern for customer experience. The experience of using the aa.com website matches the experience of taking an American Airlines flight: a mess.

Jason Snell on the Process of Getting Macworld’s ‘iPhone Superguide’ E-Book Into the App Store 

Jason Snell:

He also said something that really irked me. He suggested — again, perfectly politely — that if we had a problem with our app rejection, we should just reply to the rejection, because app reviewers pay attention and respond to complaints. I had to explain to him that we had entered into a back-and-forth with our reviewer. It just hadn’t helped — it was like talking to a brick wall.

Nilay Patel on the Droid’s Software Keyboard 

The iPhone’s use of multi-touch for its software keyboard is a key factor in its success. That the Droid doesn’t use it for its keyboard is a perfect example of how important it is for Google to add multi-touch to the standard Android system UI. It’s nice that the APIs are there for third-party developers to support multi-touch gestures in their apps, but the keyboard is a standard component used by every app on the system.

Update: Now I’m hearing that the Droid’s keyboard does support multi-touch in some fashion, but just not in the “press another key while still holding down the previous one” fashion that Patel demos.

Droid, Android 2.0, and Multi-Touch 

Picsay, an Android photo viewing application, offers pinch-to-zoom multi-touch on the U.S. Droid. (Looks pretty smooth in the demo video, too.) But this shouldn’t be confusing or surprising. As I wrote a few days ago, the Android 2.0 OS offers multi-touch APIs, so third-party developers can do things like this. What is missing are multi-touch gestures in any of the standard built-in apps or reusable controls.

Closure Tools 

Open source JavaScript compiler, debugger, library, and templating system from Google.

Fortune Interviews Eight Business Stars About Steve Jobs 

Fortune: “Eight people who rarely speak publicly about Jobs explain what makes him one of the best business minds of our time.” Love this bit from Larry Ellison:

I remember when Steve was my neighbor in Woodside, Calif., and he had no furniture. It struck me that there wasn’t furniture good enough for Steve in the world. He’d rather have nothing if he couldn’t have perfection.

And I jokingly said, “The difference between me and Steve is that I’m willing to live with the best the world can provide. With Steve that’s not always good enough.”

Part of Fortune’s package naming Jobs “CEO of the Decade”.

‘Unstoppable Matsui Goes Wild on the Field’ 

Hiroko Tabuchi, reporting from Tokyo:

For this baseball-loving nation, Matsui’s performance at the World Series on Wednesday — hitting a home run, tying a World Series record with six runs batted in and being named the most valuable player — sent a clear message. It put a Japanese player and the Japanese game on the American baseball map more firmly than any compatriot’s performance did.

Sure hope the Yanks re-sign him for next season’s repeat.

Viewfinder 1.0 

New Mac OS X Flickr search client by Fraser Speirs, with some clever Keynote integration. There’s nothing you can do with Viewfinder that you couldn’t do without it, but it’s about reducing friction. £15 for a limited time, £19 thereafter (roughly $25/32 in USD).

Yankees Beat Phillies to Win 27th Title 

What a game, what a team.

Andy Ihnatko, Droid in Hand, on Verizon’s ‘iDon’t’ Ad Campaign 

I think the main problem with the ad is that it doesn’t make any sense to non-nerds.

Whither the Crunchpad? 

Dan Frommer:

The story we’ve heard goes that Arrington’s suppliers have come back with quotes significantly higher than they had initially predicted.

That could explain why we haven’t heard a peep about the CrunchPad since the summer. Arrington told the New York Times in July that he would host an event “at the end of July or the beginning of August to make a big announcement about the CrunchPad,” and that the device would go on sale “as soon as possible.” It’s now November, with no event and no gadget.

BBEdit 9.3 

Lots new, as usual, but I like this change best:

BBEdit offers a new behavior: when you ask it to open a folder, rather than creating a disk browser (which allows only one document open at a time), you can ask it to create a temporary project. This provides the multi-document behavior of projects, without requiring you to manage and save a project document anywhere.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Droid and 3GS Cameras 

Nice comparison shots from Andy Ihnatko. Remember: megapixels are not an indicator of image quality.

Rod Begbie on Mockingbird and Cappuccino 

Rod Begbie pushes back on Mockingbird:

If you load the app, you can see custom scrollbars and navigation, a complete lack of accessibility, non-native controls, and all those other things that cause geeks to hate Flash. What, to the end user, is the benefit of this being done with JavaScript instead of Flash? You can get the patronage of the 0.000001% of web users who don’t have Flash installed? (Sadly, I don’t think Richard Stallman needs many wireframes drawn).

Gruber’s definition of “true web app” and mine greatly differ. Clue: If it’s completely unusable on the iPhone Safari browser, it doesn’t matter if it’s built in JavaScript, Flash or Microsoft Visual Fortran 2012. It’s not a “true web app”.

I think there’s merit to using an open web platform that isn’t in the control of a single company, like Flash. Practical merit, not just philosophical merit. No one can hold HTML5/CSS/JavaScript hostage. After loading Mockingbird in Safari 4 (with no other browser windows open), Safari’s CPU usage drops back to 0. With, say, Balsamiq — a Flash app along the same lines as Mockingbird — Safari’s CPU usage never drops below 4 percent, even when idle.

But Begbie has a good point. As I wrote back in February about Cappuccino:

I still think building web apps that look and act like fake desktop apps is the wrong way to go, but if anyone is going to prove me wrong on that, it’s probably going to be these guys.

“Web apps” doesn’t feel like the right term to call apps like Mockingbird, but I’m not sure what would be. “Desktop web apps”? Whatever we should call them, I still haven’t seen one I actually use.

WebKit Web Inspector Updates 

Joseph Pecoraro details the latest improvements to WebKit’s built-in web developer tools.

Mockingbird — Web-Based Wireframe App 

Interesting new wireframe tool. It’s a true web app (no Flash), written in Cappuccino. (Via Justin Williams.)

Nick Kallen on Information Technology and Heaps 

This piece by Nick Kallen really made me think. First on defining “heaps”:

Would you describe a single grain of wheat as a heap? No. Would you describe two grains of wheat as a heap? No…. You must admit the presence of a heap sooner or later, so where do you draw the line?

And then:

Consider the process of voting. If no one voted, one vote would affect the outcome. But if millions of people vote, one vote makes little difference. In fact, the defining characteristic of the modern era is that every aspect of society is heaping.

Letters From the Hellbox 

Splendid new column at McSweeney’s by Martin McClellan, on typography and its effect on culture.

Personal Droid Data Plan Will Cost $30 Per Month, Even With Exchange 

Gearlog:

If you have a personal account or family plan, your data will cost $30/month. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Microsoft Exchange, Facebook, Gmail, or whatever - it’s $30. This is the same for all Verizon Windows Mobile and Android phones.

Data on business accounts — “corporate liable,” multiple lines, purchased through business sales, usually mediated by an IT department — costs $45/month. Once again, this is the same for every Windows Mobile and Android phone.

The same deal as AT&T. And in other Verizon/Droid news, it looks like Droid users will have a $15/month tethering option in January. Still no word at all from AT&T about official tethering support for the iPhone.

Gestures as a Language 

Jeffrey Sambells nails it:

Gestures should be treated as a language, like sign language for touch devices. We need a common set of gestures to interact with all touch enabled devices. I shouldn’t have to learn a different language just to use a different device.

I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out why I cared so much about Android 2.0’s lack of standard multi-touch UI gestures. That’s it exactly. This isn’t something someone should be able to own.

Pierre Igot on Click-Through in the Snow Leopard Finder 

The rules are complicated. As Igot describes, click-through can change the selected item only in icon view, not list or column view, but click-through is enabled for double-clicks in all views. Igot writes:

How is the user supposed to “know” and remember intuitively that click-through now only works in icon view mode and not in list view mode and column view mode? And how is the user supposed to “know” and remember intuitively that, even though click-through no longer works, “double-click-through” (to coin a phrase) still does?

I don’t think the behavior is specific to the Finder, though — I’m pretty sure that in list and column views, what Igot describes is the standard behavior for Cocoa table, outline, and browser (a.k.a. column) views. The problem is the complexity of the rules. If the rules are hard to explain, it’s a good sign the rules are too complex.

Count me in with Chris Clark: click-through should be disabled.

Dutch Teenager Hacks Jailbroken iPhones, Tries to Extort €5 

He used port scanning to identify iPhones on T-Mobile’s network, and took advantage of the fact that jailbroken iPhones have SSH running and most use the same default password for the root account. The hack seems to have been nothing more than a wallpaper image that shows a fake alert dialog box. (A clever attack, but the fake alert was poorly done — he didn’t even use Helvetica.)

Apple to Open Store in Center City Philadelphia 

The Philadelphia Metro reports:

Design plans for a new store near 16th and Walnut streets go before the city Art Commission tomorrow. Apple has already posted job listings on its Web site for the store, but a spokeswoman said yesterday that an official announcement about a new store here isn’t ready yet.

Talking Apple had the scoop on the location about two weeks ago.

App Store Rejection of the Week 

Jason Snell:

Our book about the iPhone has been rejected from the App Store BECAUSE IT CONTAINS THE WORD iPHONE.

David Pogue, of course, has an e-book available in the App Store titled “iPhone: The Missing Manual”. (Dan Moren has a possible solution.)

Update: Looks like they’ve straightened this out.

TapeDeck 1.3 

Nice update to the fun $25 audio recording app from SuperMegaUltraGroovy, including the addition of lossless recording.

Andrew Shebanow’s Retort Regarding Open Government and PDF 

Andrew Shebanow:

The issue at hand is not whether governments should pick HTML or PDF. The issue at hand is whether governments are capable of publishing information at all. Show me an HTML creation tool that creates high quality, standards conformant markup from a Word document or any of the zillions of editing tools that government employees use.

Good point, and I regret having lumped PDF in with Flash in my criticism yesterday. It’s the idea that Flash should have any role whatsoever in a serious debate on open publishing formats that I have a problem with.

‘The Ones That Win Are the Ones That Ship’ 

Mark Pilgrim asks (and answers): Why do we have an IMG element in HTML? So good.

Exchange Access for Droid: $15 Extra Per Month 

So starts the Verizon nickel-and-diming. (Via Dave Nanian.)

Update, 4 November 2009: Looks like the $15/month charge is only for business plans, just like with AT&T.

Put This On, Episode 1 

New from Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor, “a web series about dressing like a grownup”. Exquisite.

Chris Foresman on Adobe’s Orwellian ‘Open Government’ Push for PDF and Flash 

Chris Foresman on Adobe’s “open government” website, which is entirely implemented in Flash:

After just a cursory browsing, here are some of the usability and data accessibility issues we observed. You can’t select, copy, or paste any text. Your browser’s font override features won’t work, so you can’t adjust the font or its size to be more readable. Your browser’s built-in in-page search won’t work, and you can’t use the keyboard to scroll through the text. You can’t parse or scrape the data in any way; the design is fixed-width, so it’s not going to work well on different screen sizes; and browser plugins, like Greasemonkey, can’t adjust anything. Basically when it comes to text at all, if you don’t like the style or are visually impaired, you’re screwed.

Adobe Is Bad for Open Government 

Adobe, in their “open government” whitepaper (which, of course, is a PDF):

Since the advent of the web, an entire infrastructure has evolved to enable public access to information. Such technologies include HTML, Adobe PDF, and Adobe® Flash® technology.

Clay Johnson responds:

This is nonsense. The fact is, sticking to open, standards based technologies like HTML, XML, JSON and others are far more important and useful in getting your information out to the public than the proprietary formats of Adobe. Here’s a hint — if the data format has an “®” by its name, it probably isn’t great for transparency or open data.

Dropbox iPhone App Now Runs on OS 3.0.1 

Now in the App Store: an update to the Dropbox app that’s compatible with iPhone OS 3.0.1, for those holding on to it for the samizdat tethering hack.

Ibis Reader and BookServer 

Upcoming e-book reading software for iPhone, Android, and WebOS, but written as a web app with local storage on the device via HTML5’s offline storage. Thus, it will completely route around the App Store. No DRM on the book content, no DRM on the software. A great idea — let’s hope the implementation is good.

Chinese iPhone Has No Wi-Fi 

Glenn Fleishman on the Wi-Fi-less iPhones now on sale, officially, in China:

There is some suspicion that WAPI’s authentication aspect, in which a login would be required to join a network securely, was partly desirable to track users, too. This would eliminate the “problem” of untrackable connections to Wi-Fi hotspots, coupled with security that would prevent local interception.

Ball Cap Sticker Removal: A Helpful Lesson for the Youngsters 

No matter which team you’re rooting for in this great World Series, I think we can all agree on the importance of this piece by Craig Robinson at the excellent Flip Flop Fly Ball.

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