Linked List: August 2010

Apple to Provide Live Video Streaming of Tomorrow’s Event 

How many years has it been since Apple has tried this? If it holds up — a big “if”, considering Apple’s previous live-streaming efforts — there goes the live-blogging racket.

Bloomberg: New Apple TV Tomorrow 

Ronald Grover and Peter Burrows, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc., preparing to announce a new set-top box that delivers TV to consumers, will include movies from Netflix Inc., according to three people with knowledge of the plans.

But is the Netflix integration built into the system, or, is it an app?

Just How Bad Is Flash on Android? 

Ian Betteridge:

What does this demonstrate? Simply that the idea that Apple could simply magically put Flash on the iPad (which runs a processor in the same class as the Nexus One) is fantasy. Ignoring the broader reasons for Apple wanting to keep Flash off its platform, it’s clear that Flash is simply too processor-intensive to work properly on mobile-class processors as currently specified.

Pointing at the TV 

Hans Gerwitz on the tricky user-interaction problems posed by an iOS-based Apple TV.

Put This On, Episode 3: Work 

Best episode yet. More “Nerd Boyfriend” segments, please.

NYT: ‘Army Revises Training to Deal With Unfit Recruits’ 

“Oh that’s right, Private Pyle, don’t make any fucking effort to get to the top of the fucking obstacle. If God would have wanted you up there he would have miracled your ass up there by now, wouldn’t he?”

Martin Scorsese Attends Free iMovie Demonstration at Apple Store 

With most Onion stories, 90 percent of the joke is in the headline. With this one, it’s in the photo.

Palm Previews WebOS 2.0 Details 

Looks like some great improvements. The “Just Type” feature sounds like LaunchBar or Quicksilver.

AutoCAD Returns to the Mac, Along With iOS Viewer Apps 

Everything is coming up Milhouse.

Intel Buys Infineon’s Wireless Unit 

The future is mobile.

Oxford English Dictionary ‘Will Not Be Printed Again’ 

Alastair Jamieson, reporting for The Telegraph:

Simon Winchester, author of ‘The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary’, said the switch towards online formats was “prescient”. He said: “Until six months ago I was clinging to the idea that printed books would likely last for ever. Since the arrival of the iPad I am now wholly convinced otherwise.”

The Oatmeal: ‘This Is How I Feel About Buying Apps’ 

A classic.

Last Call on DF T-Shirts 

Tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, I’m going to pull the plug on this round of new t-shirts. Order now if you want one, because we’re only going to print as many shirts as there are orders. This is your last chance to order a DF t-shirt for at least the next few months.

And where by “we”, I mean my friend Brian Jaramillo, who handles the screen-printing and shipping for all DF shirt orders. (Brian is the guy who prints great shirts like Andy Versus Apple and Exploded iPhone.)

Thom Holwerda on Apple’s Stance on Jailbreaking 

Thom Holwerda:

Apple fought hard to maintain jailbreaking as an illegal activity, and now Gruber is seriously arguing that all this was, well, just a joke? Didn’t happen? A figment of our collective imagination? I guess we’re seeing revisionist history in the making here. Fascinating.

I didn’t say Apple doesn’t have a stance regarding jailbreaking. But judging by their actions to date, they’re treating it as nuisance, not a significant problem. The context for all this, recall, is Colin Gibbs’s argument that Apple is wasting significant effort fighting jailbreaking. They might, someday. That wouldn’t surprise me in the least. But they haven’t to date.

The Talk Show, Episode #5 

This is actually last week’s show, but we didn’t record it until over the weekend and so it didn’t hit the airwaves until today. We’re still set for a show this week, after Wednesday’s Apple event. You should subscribe to the show’s podcast RSS feed, and you’ll stay up to date automatically.

The show is sponsored by Battery Go Plus, a neat little battery management iPhone app from 9magnets.

Bing App for Android 

Andy Chu, from Microsoft’s Bing for Mobile team:

Today we are happy to announce the first official Bing for Mobile Android App available to Verizon customers. You can now download the free Bing App from your Verizon Wireless Android phones’ Marketplace.

Does that mean there’s no Bing app for Android users on AT&T? Or anywhere outside the U.S.?

Nope 

“Chpwn” — a young developer of apps for jailbroken iPhones — says I’m wrong that Apple is not fighting jailbreaking:

If that was actually how Apple felt, they would not block downgrading to 4.0.1. They would continue to sign the SHSH hashes required for a downgrade. Their SHSH system — which prevents any unapproved firmware installation — is direct proof that they are strongly against jailbreaking. There is not other benefit to the server-side firmware signing mechanism they are using except preventing us from freeing our phones. […]

I also want to point out that a jailbroken 4.0.1 with saurik’s PDF fix is no less secure than 4.0.2 from Apple.

It’s not about jailbreaking. It’s about security and support. Once 4.0.2 was released, it became the only supported version of iOS 4. Apple isn’t going to support downgrading to an older version of the OS with known security vulnerabilities. And they’re certainly not going to support or trust a fix for the vulnerability from a jailbreak developer.

Put another way: I know that many App Store developers wish that Apple were “fighting jailbreaking”, because App Store piracy depends upon it.

‘Color, Photos, and One Fuzzy Little Boy in a Field’ 

Merlin Mann, on old color photographs:

When done well, these images help repudiate the implicit modern reading that pre-color photography realistically captured the simple but alien lives of people who were neither as complex, interesting, nor sophisticated as we CMYK people are.

Apple Isn’t ‘Fighting’ Jailbreaking 

Colin Gibbs, in a piece headlined “Why Apple Should End Its Fight Against iPhone Jailbreaking”:

The Register reported last week that Apple is looking to fire back at iPhone jailbreakers with an application to patent a system designed to identify the “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking or removal of a SIM card” from a phone so the device can be located and its data erased. The company has released a new firmware update for the sole purpose of patching a hole that was being used to jailbreak handsets running iOS 4 as well, according to the group of developers that created the first iPhone 4 jailbreak.

As I write in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, it makes no sense for Apple to pour efforts to these kinds of things; allowing jailbreaking — even implicitly — could actually help move iPhones off the shelves.

A few points. First, patent applications aren’t necessarily indicative of actual product plans. Apple files for patents on any idea or design deemed patentable, whether they intend to actually bring it to market or not. Second, the point of such a system as described in the patent depends on your perspective. If you want to jailbreak your iPhone, then yes, such a system would seem like “anti jailbreaking”. But if you don’t want to jailbreak your iPhone, such a system would be a useful security feature — reassurance that your device’s OS has not been tampered with by malware.

Last, Apple isn’t “fighting” jailbreaking. They simply don’t support it. iOS 4.0.2 fixed a serious security vulnerability. By arguing that Apple shouldn’t have bothered doing so, Gibbs is implicitly arguing that Apple shouldn’t fix security vulnerabilities. It’s that simple. A more apt headline for Gibbs’s piece would be “Apple Shouldn’t Fix Security Vulnerabilities in iOS”.

Boston Globe Tailors Print Edition for Three Remaining Subscribers 

News you can use.

More on the TechCrunch/JooJoo Ruling 

Nilay Patel:

The court didn’t buy most of those arguments and dismissed everything but the breach of fiduciary duty claim in this latest ruling, which is both a significant loss and a significant win for TechCrunch: breach of fiduciary duty has always struck us as TechCrunch’s strongest argument, and the court’s now effectively ruled that Fusion Garage and TechCrunch were indeed involved in a joint business venture with legal obligations to protect each others’ interests. That’s not a bad position from which to proceed — although TechCrunch now has to prove that Fusion Garage actually violated its duty by releasing the Joojoo on its own, which is a whole new fight.

Other analysis of the ruling: Hank Williams says I’ve got it all wrong, and there’s a good thread on Hacker News. As Patel points out, though, perhaps the most curious aspect of the suit is that anyone is willing to pay for it — the JooJoo has been a total, utter bust. Surely this suit is costing more to litigate than the JooJoo has generated in revenue (let alone profits, which I’m guessing are non-existent).

Building a Nation of Know-Nothings 

Timothy Egan:

Take a look at Tuesday night’s box score in the baseball game between New York and Toronto. The Yankees won, 11-5. Now look at the weather summary, showing a high of 71 for New York. The score and temperature are not subject to debate.

Yet a president’s birthday or whether he was even in the White House on the day TARP was passed are apparently open questions. A growing segment of the party poised to take control of Congress has bought into denial of the basic truths of Barack Obama’s life. What’s more, this astonishing level of willful ignorance has come about largely by design, and has been aided by a press afraid to call out the primary architects of the lies.

As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. I’m not so sure, though, that all the conservatives professing to believe that Obama is a Muslim, or wasn’t born a U.S. citizen, or any of these other fabrications, truly believe them. I think they know they’re spreading lies. See, for example, this story of a confrontation in an Oklahoma Starbucks.

CrunchPad Denial of Preliminary Injunction 

Mike Arrington gets smacked around in the first round of his lawsuit over the JooJoo/CrunchPad. In short: TechCrunch didn’t get much in writing regarding their “partnership” with Fusion Garage to develop the product, and, well, they should have. Curiously, I’ve seen no coverage of this decision on TechCrunch.

(Thanks to DF reader James Grimmelmann for posting the document.)

Sentence of the Year? 

DigiTime:

Sources from upstream component makers believe the device is aiming to compete against Apple’s reportedly upcoming 7-inch iPad.

How about competing against the bestselling iPad that, you know, actually exists?

iPads Now Shipping Within 24 Hours 

AppleInsider:

After struggling to meet consumer demand for the iPad since it launched in April, estimated shipping times for new online orders have improved to within 24 hours, suggesting any production problems have been resolved.

This Is Not a Recovery 

Deep pessimism from Paul Krugman.

Dan Wineman’s Gesture-Based Apple TV Remote Concept 

It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know. The magic in the iPhone/iPad UI isn’t about putting your fingers on a flat surface and tapping/sliding/dragging. It’s in the direct manipulation. It’s that you’re touching the actual visual elements on the screen itself. A layer of abstraction peeled away. That’s why the Magic Trackpad does not make your Mac feel like an iOS device.

This concept might prove better than the current Apple TV remote, but something about it rings wrong to me. Sure is fun to think about, though.

Sourcebits 

My thanks to Sourcebits for again sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Sourcebits offers software development services, specializing in mobile platforms like iOS (including both iPhone and iPad), Android, BlackBerry, and the web. If you’re looking for software development services, check out Sourcebits’s website for more information and examples of their work, including Knocking Live Video, a live streaming video app for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Rob Rhyne’s Briefs, Still in App Store Limbo 

Jeff LaMarche:

I’m pissed on his behalf, since he won’t be. Make no mistake: This sucks. This is no way to treat anybody, but especially him. Rob has bent over backwards throughout the process to be nice and work within the system and to avoid saying anything negative about the problems he’s faced. Rob has kept the discourse on a level I think few of us could manage. He didn’t go out and raise a stink the way many developers have when they felt slighted by the App Review team. Rob just calmly and patiently worked within the system trying to make his case and get a product he worked on for months onto the app store.

Paul Allen, Patent Troll 

Are these ex-Microsoft guys the worst patent trolls, or what?

Pictures of Upcoming ViewSonic Android Tablet 

Reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Dowling Duncan Redesign of U.S. Currency 

I kind of love it. (Via Jonathan Hoefler, who doesn’t like the choice of Helvetica.)

BBC iPlayer Usage, iOS vs. Android 2.2 Devices 

From a Freedom of Information request in the UK:

In July 2010 6,400 programmes were streamed  from the BBC iPlayer to Android devices. […]

In July 2010 there were 5,272,464 programmes requested via the BBC iPlayer from Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.

Why so striking a difference? Because Android users can only access iPlayer using Flash, Flash is only available on Android 2.2, and the overwhelming majority of Android handsets — even brand-new ones — are still running older versions of the OS.

But, of course, there are no iOS users with Flash installed. That’s what I see as the main problem with Android’s official support for Flash: it gives providers like the BBC an easy way out. Would there exist a dedicated iPlayer app for the iPhone if iOS had supported Flash all along? Does Android’s support for Flash make it less likely that the BBC will develop a native iPlayer app for Android?

(And wouldn’t you like to see a battery life comparison between iPlayer on an iPhone 4 and a few Android phones running the Flash version?)

Update: My bad: ends up the BBC iPlayer for iOS devices is not a native app — it’s a web app that serves H.264 video streams. But then why can’t Android phones use that, too?

Dell’s Relationship With Intel 

Andrew Orlowski, on the bizarre financial scheme between Intel and Dell:

Intel’s rebates amounted to 38 per cent of Dell’s operating profit in the fiscal year 2006, and rose to 76 per cent (or $720m) in one quarter alone, Q1 2007. While almost all of the Intel funds were incorporated into Dell’s component costs, Dell did not disclose the existence, much less the magnitude, of the Intel exclusivity payments.

Effectively, Intel bribed Dell not to use chips from AMD, and, eventually, Dell grew financially dependent upon those bribes.

Creating ePub Files With Pages 

Interesting: a new iWork ’09 update adds ePub exporting to Pages. (ePub is the standard file format used by iBooks.)

Scott Rosenberg on Google News and Content-Farm ‘News’ 

Trending keyword spam seems to be working its way into Google News. This seems like something they should be able to fix, thanks to the curated nature of Google News’s sources.

Whither the iPod Classic? 

Dan Frommer wonders whether Apple is set to eliminate the hard-drive based iPod Classic next week. I wouldn’t be shocked if they did, but I bet they won’t. The iPod Classic is like the Mac Pro — not something that sells in huge numbers compared to Apple’s mass market products, but it fills a lucrative and important niche. Some people really do want 160 GB of music in their pocket.

How Long Until These Pictures Show Up on Gizmodo? 

Joshua Topolsky:

Just got an email from someone trying to sell a photo of Steve Jobs while he was in Memphis for medical treatment. Stay classy internet!

So Much for the H.264 ‘Bait and Switch’ Licensing Theory 

MPEG LA:

MPEG LA announced today that its AVC Patent Portfolio License will continue not to charge royalties for Internet Video that is free to end users (known as “Internet Broadcast AVC Video”) during the entire life of this License. MPEG LA previously announced it would not charge royalties for such video through December 31, 2015, and today’s announcement makes clear that royalties will continue not to be charged for such video beyond that time.

Technologizer: New Kindle ‘Selling Like an Unspecified Number of Hotcakes’ 

Harry McCracken:

There’s no doubt that the Kindle is an important product and a hit for Amazon, but unless the company discloses actual figures someday, you’ve got to wonder: Does it choose not to get specific because it worries that hard numbers would provoke a spate of “E-readers are still a tiny market compared to the iPod and other landmark gizmos” stories?

Steve Jobs, in an interview with David Pogue last year:

He said that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a big market at this point, and pointed out that Amazon.com, for example, doesn’t ever say how many Kindles it sells. “Usually, if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.”

Note, for example, that Apple never talks about Apple TV unit sales.

Details 

On the pace of Mac sleeping indicators:

In July 2002, Appled filed a patent for a “Breathing Status LED Indicator” (No. US 6,658,577 B2). They described it as a “blinking effect of the sleep-mode indicator in accordance with the present invention mimics the rhythm of breathing which is psychologically appealing.”

The average respiratory rate for adults is 12-20 breaths per minute, which is the rate that the sleep-indicator light fades in and out on most Apple laptops.

Netflix App Now Available for iPhone and iPod Touch 

Now imagine a version for Apple TV.

What You Get With Hulu Plus 

Nice comparison chart between standard Hulu and Hulu Plus, but it only regards TV shows. Do Hulu Plus subscribers get more movie options, too?

Laptop Mag Runs Android Battery Test 

The Motorola phones have significantly better battery life. The Droid X and Droid 2 finished at the top; handsets with AMOLED screens finished at the bottom. So, AMOLED: colors look weird, you can’t see them in sunlight, the components are in short supply, and battery life is worse.

(They turned Flash Player off for the tests; would be interesting to see if turning it on makes a difference.)

Apple Announces Media Event Next Week 

I expect a new iPhone 4-caliber iPod Touch (retina display, dual FaceTime-ready cameras), new iTunes TV show rentals, and a new iOS-based Apple TV. The wildcard is whether there’s going to be an App Store for the Apple TV.

Update: Readers are asking about iOS 4.1. I expect that, too, along with the official debut of Game Center, which is part of 4.1 and will help reinforce the image of the iPod Touch as a mobile gaming device (and the App Store as a gaming platform) going into the holidays. Look for a bunch of Game Center demos during the event.

As for the iPad, no, I don’t think 4.1 is going to be released for it. iOS 4.2, coming late in the calendar year, is a more likely unification release for all iOS devices. Think about it — how can Apple release iOS 4.1 for the iPad next week if they haven’t released a single beta for developers?

Google Announces Phone Calls From Gmail 

Integrates with Google Voice.

Future Claim Chowder on Tablet Market Share 

DigiTimes:

In a Chinese-language interview with the Economic Daily News (EDN), JT Wang, chairman of Acer, said that he expects Apple’s iPad market share to drop from close to 100% currently to only 20%-30% after the tablet PC market stabilizes.

Sounds like a dramatic drop, but I’d say even if he’s got it exactly right, that’s enough for Apple to remain in first place. Imagine if Apple had 20-30 percent market share in desktop PCs.

Now imagine if he’s wrong and Apple’s long-term tablet share is more like 40 or 50 percent.

He also cited a research report indicating that the market share for Android smartphones has already surpassed that of iOS models, and noted that according to past experience, a closed platform will eventually lose to an open one, and that he believes Android simply needs a little more time before it turns strong, the paper added.

And the evidence of platforms winning solely on the basis of “openness” is what? And the Android handset maker selling more units or making more profit than Apple (or RIM) is who?

Andrew Orlowski: ‘Why Android Won’t Worry RIM and Apple’ 

Andrew Orlowski:

The Android licensees think that today — but throwing out lots of mediocre products isn’t the passport to success. The lucrative end of the mobile device market is a product culture, and it pays to put more of your wood behind one arrow, or just a few arrows; the more you make, the less distinctive each one is. Android doesn’t really do anything to encourage the development and marketing of distinctive products, must-have phones that people talk about in the pub.

I agree. Where are the people who love their Android phones who aren’t computer geeks. Non-geek iPhone and BlackBerry lovers are everywhere.

Update: Pushback on Twitter, example A, example B.

Dan Provost Ruminates on Next-Gen Apple TV Remotes 

One thing’s for sure: five button up/down/left/right/action isn’t good enough.

User Interface of the Week: Max Magic Microtuner 

Bonus point for putting the version number in the application menu name.

Update: Alternate link.

Simplenote 3.0 

Nice update to one of my favorite iPhone and iPad apps. For me, it’s essential.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Seen in the Wild 

Nice catch by Electronista: a Samsung Galaxy Tab in use in Australia:

Subjectively, the worker thought the device was “awesome,” and labeled it “different” when compared to the iPad.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 

This reminds me of another product, but I can’t recall the name of it. Give me a minute, here…

Bloomberg: Apple Preparing New 99-Cent TV Show Rental Service 

Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is in advanced talks with News Corp. to let iTunes users rent TV shows for 99 cents and is in discussions with other media companies about similar deals, said three people familiar with the plan.

Viewers would be able to rent programs from News Corp.’s Fox for 48 hours, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions aren’t public. CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co. — where Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is a board member and the largest shareholder — also are in talks about joining the effort, the people say.

Sounds like the subscription service idea is dead, but 99-cent shows would be an improvement over the $1.99 status quo.

‘Apple: Short Term Winner, Long Term Loser’ 

Perhaps the dumbest entry yet in the “Android will do to iOS what Windows did to the Mac” sweepstakes. Business Insider: jiminy.

Motorola Bought 280 North 

Fascinating; let’s hope we hear from them again.

Android Developer Revenue 

Arron La, developer of the popular Android Task Manager app, on his experience with Android Market. Interesting perspective.

Update: Fireballed; here’s a cached version.

Motorola’s Android 2.2 Rollout 

Sounds like fun.

Mac Enterprise Sales Growth 

According to analyst Charlie Wolf, Mac sales are way up in the enterprise, including this:

Mac shipments in government grew 200%, sixteen times faster than the market’s 12.1%.

That’s a policy change from the Obama administration. More or less: buy the best tools.

All of Chewbacca’s Dialogue From ‘Star Wars’ 

Drawn on a sticky note.

iTunes Phishing Scams 

John Paczkowski:

So these reports of a major security hole in iTunes, one through which people have had their PayPal accounts drained? Not much to them, I’m told. Or, rather, not much to their assertion that Apple (AAPL) is at fault here. There’s no security hole in iTunes and if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have hundreds of dollars in unauthorized purchases charged to your iTunes acount it’s likely because you’ve fallen victim to a phishing scam — a variation on the one that’s been around for years now. Sources close to Apple tell me iTunes has not been compromised and the company isn’t aware of any sudden increase in fraudulent transactions.

I like how TechCrunch’s evidence that iTunes had been “hacked” was to cite a few tweets.

Google, Friend of the Carriers 

Jason Hiner:

Here’s the dirty little secret about Android: After all the work Apple did to get AT&T to relinquish device control for the iPhone and all the great efforts Google made to get the FCC and the U.S. telecoms to agree to open access rules as part of the 700 MHz auction, Android is taking all of those gains and handing the power back to the telecoms.

That is likely to be the most important and far-reaching development in the U.S. mobile market in 2010. In light of the high ideals that the Android OS was founded upon and the positive movement toward openness that was happening back in 2007-2008, it is an extremely disappointing turn of events.

What high ideals, though? Actions, or merely words?

Layer Tennis Season Three 

Speaking of Jim Coudal, the third season of Layer Tennis opened last week, with two crackerjack matches.

Online Advertising: Losing the Race to the Bottom (MP3) 

Worth a re-link: hour-long MP3 audio of yours truly and Jim Coudal speaking at SXSW earlier this year.

Sammy Davis Jr. for Suntory 

Ends up Bob Harris is only the second-coolest pitchman for Suntory. (Via Guy English.)

NMA World Edition on Google’s ‘Domination of the World and Loss of Mojo’ 

Their visualization of Google’s alliance with Verizon is subtle.

The #4A525Aholes Group on Flickr 

You can join, if you buy one of these fine t-shirts.

Inkling 

Interactive textbooks for the iPad; looks really well done.

‘Then This Happened’ 

Marco Arment asks if the iPad is going to do to netbook design what the iPhone did to smartphone design.

Irony 

Brian Lam left his phone behind in a restaurant; now, thankful that an honest patron turned it in.

UPDATE: Here’s a screenshot, from before Lam locked his Twitter account. And Google’s cache.

Big Words 

WSJ interview with Chang Ma, vice president of marketing for LG:

The first LG tablet, which will run on Google Inc.’s Android software, will set itself apart from Apple Inc.’s iPad by focusing on the ability to create content, rather than simply display it, Mr. Ma said in an interview.

Mr. Ma said that the iPad is a great device, but he doesn’t do much work on it. “Our tablet will be better than the iPad.”

RipIt 

My thanks to The Little App Factory for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote RipIt, their excellent, award-winning DVD ripping app for Mac OS X. RipIt is just great, with an easy, one-button UI. Great for ripping DVDs to a format that can be played on Apple TV, iPhones, and iPads.

Even better: use coupon code “DARINGFIRE2010” and save 25 percent.

1980 Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford Interview 

On The Today Show, one week before the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back.

Apple Adds ‘Compare Macs’ Option to Apple Store 

Nice interface.

People Magazine iPad App Now Free for Existing Subscribers 

But you can’t subscribe from within the app itself, right? That’s the holdup Time Inc. was running into, I think.

Intel to Buy McAfee in $7.68 Billion Deal 

The WSJ:

The deal, the largest in Intel’s 42-year history, was described by the companies as evidence that security is becoming one of the fundamental pillars of computing. With Internet connections rapidly being added to consumer electronics devices, appliances, industrial equipment and other hardware, the approaches that have served to protect today’s personal computers and servers aren’t adequate, Intel and McAfee officials said.

That’s a bet on Windows; McAfee is irrelevant on every other platform.

Avram Piltch on the New Android Flash Player 

Avram Piltch:

I’m the last person on earth who wanted to believe Steve Jobs when he told Walt Mossberg at D8 that “Flash has had its day.” I took it as nothing more than showmanship when Jobs shared his thoughts on Flash and wrote that “Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices.” After spending time playing with Flash Player 10.1 on the new Droid 2, the first Android 2.2 phone to come with the player pre-installed, I’m sad to admit that Steve Jobs was right. Adobe’s offering seems like it’s too little, too late.

Update: Don’t miss the comments.

Chrome Web App Store to Launch in October 

Jason Kincaid:

One key piece of news: when the Web Store was first announced, Google VP of Product Sundar Pichai indicated that there would be a standard 70/30 (developer/Google) split — the same as on Apple’s App Store and Android Market. However, the slides from the 1Up report say (in bold text, no less) that Google will take only a 5% “processing fee”, with no additional revenue share.

Translation: ads everywhere.

iPhone 4 a Big Hit in South Korea 

The South Korea Herald:

KT Corp., the exclusive provider of the iPhone in Korea, said Wednesday that the number of people who made pre-orders for Apple’s iPhone 4 surpassed 130,000 in the first 13 hours of registration.

Download Squad: Google Launching Chrome OS Tablet on Verizon, November 26 

That’d be one solution to the Android fragmentation problem.

Natural Selection 

Malibu plastic surgeon drives off cliff while trying to send a tweet about his dog.

The Talk Show #4 

Star Wars nerd talk, coin-op arcade etiquette, and Apple TV rumors. What would apps for Apple TV look like? If you like podcasts, maybe you’ll like The Talk Show, the only show co-hosted by yours truly and Dan Benjamin. Sponsored by MailChimp.

Speaking of sponsors, we’ve got some openings in the next few weeks. If you have a product or service you’d like to promote to an audience of world-class Apple and web nerds, get in touch with us.

‘Your Lucky Day’ 

Cool short film by Dan Brown. (Note for the NSFW crowd: It’d be R-rated if it were rated.)

Sony Mocks App Store Games 

Good luck with that.

Trip Hawkins on Android as a Gaming Platform 

Trip Hawkins:

The good news is that Android is ramping up and a lot of devices are selling. Android has the potential to be a platform comparable to Apple by 2012. But as a game platform right now, Android strikes out.

Hibari 1.0 

Promising new Twitter client for the Mac by Victoria Wang. Simple, clean interface. Minimal feature set, but it has some intriguing filtering, muting, and saved search features.

Asustek CEO Blames Faltering Netbooks Sales on iPad 

DigiTimes:

Asustek Computer saw sales of its netbooks in the second quarter fall short of expectations mainly due to competition from Apple’s iPad, and has downward adjusted its target shipments for the third quarter, the traditional peak sales period, to 1.4 million units, according to company president and CEO Jerry Shen at an investors conference on August 13.

Update: I’m sure he’s wrong, though — Paul Thurrott told us that the iPad wasn’t hurting netbook sales, as did David Coursey.

Apple and RIM’s Disruption of the Mobile Handset Market 

Fascinating analysis by Horace Dediu of the last three years in the global mobile phone industry. Looking at the top seven handset vendors, Apple and RIM went from 1 and 6 percent of the total profits to 48 and 17, respectively.

Dediu posits that Android is now the OS of choice from those handset makers that have lost the most over the last three years. I’m not sure about that. For one thing, HTC isn’t included in the comparisons. For another, the biggest loser, by far, is Nokia, which is still doing its own thing OS-wise.

Kindle and iPad Displays: Up Close and Personal 

Close-up photos of the Kindle and iPad displays — plus print magazines and books, for comparison — taken with a USB microscope.

Elements 1.0 

Oh, this is juicy. New iOS app from Second Gear:

Elements is a beautiful, versatile text editor for iOS. Elements allows you to view, edit and share plain text documents on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. All of your data is stored on your personal Dropbox account so that it’s accessible from any device you have.

Works like a charm. Great idea. And: it’s a fat app that’s native both on the iPad and iPhone; just $4.99 in the App Store.

Rob Beschizza on the Terrible Graph Wired Uses as ‘Evidence’ That the Web Is Dying 

Rob Beschizza:

Without commenting on the article’s argument, I nonetheless found this graph immediately suspect, because it doesn’t account for the increase in internet traffic over the same period. The use of proportion of the total as the vertical axis instead of the actual total is a interesting editorial choice.

So, so stupid. It’s hard to describe just how stupid this is. The only question is whether Wired’s editors are so stupid they actually believe what they’ve written.

Translation From Sensational-Headline-Speak to English of Wired’s 18.09 Cover Story 

Wired:

The Web Is Dead.

Translation:

“We are a bunch of shitheads.”

Vimeo Releases Embeddable HTML5 Video Player 

Adrianne Jeffries:

Vimeo is releasing a “universal player” today that allows user to watch embedded Vimeo videos on mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad using the video playback capability built into the new HTML5 standard.

Vimeo will deliver the optimal player — Flash, HMTL5 or native — based on a user’s browser, as well as the appropriate video definition (HD, SD, mobile) and compression standard (H.264 or WebM, an open format developed for use with HTML5).

Vimeo has been serving HTML5 video for iOS devices for a while now, when you watch them at vimeo.com. What’s new is that they’re now doing this for Vimeo videos embedded on other sites as well. Update: Looks like YouTube is testing something similar.

(Via Cameron Moll.)

Stephen Wolfram on The Setup 

Now this is a setup.

More From James Gosling on Oracle v. Google 

James Gosling:

It’s a sad comment on the morality of large modern software companies that Microsoft, while I don’t think they’ve gotten any better since Sun sued them, probably has the high ground.

Goldman Sachs Calls BlackBerry Torch Launch ‘Underwhelming’ 

Street Insider:

The firm noted that nearly all of the stores they called did not sell out of the device. Also the checks showed that the vast majority of Torch sales were driven by upgrades from existing BlackBerry subscribers.

Shocking.

Zagat Survey Names Five Guys America’s Best Fast-Food Burger 

Five Guys is really great. I love In-N-Out, too, but I’m happy I live on the coast with Five Guys. (Plus: Five Guys’s fries are really good, too.)

Update: Several readers point out that Five Guys has started opening restaurants on the West Coast; In-N-Out should watch their backs.

Daring Fireball T-Shirts 

I’m happy to announce that DF t-shirts are available again. I’ll be taking orders for the next week or two, then we’ll get them printed and ship them out in early September. Two designs, both available in men’s and women’s sizes.

Is Google Discouraging Paid Android Apps? 

Royal Pingdom:

You can only pay for apps in 13 out of the 46 or so countries where Android phones are available. For those of you who like stats, 13 in 46 works out to less than 30%. Contrast this with Apple’s App Store, which supports paid apps in 90 countries. This is a huge advantage iPhone developers currently have over Android developers.

The cynical view: Google prefers free Android apps over paid ones, because free apps try to make money through ads, and Google serves nearly all the in-app ads for Android apps.

Git for the Lazy 

Nice intro/cheatsheet for Git.

Adobe Comes to Typekit 

Bryan Mason at Typekit:

Adobe and Typekit are teaming up to bring some of the world’s most popular, recognizable, and respected fonts to the web. Starting today, you’ll be able to use classics like Adobe Garamond, News Gothic, Myriad, and Minion plus many more on your website — all of them newly optimized and hinted for the screen.

Oh hell yes.

Slow Start for iAds 

Yukari Iwatani Kane and Emily Steel, reporting for the WSJ:

Part of the reason some marketers are experiencing delays in getting their iAds to market is that Apple has kept tight control on the creative aspects of ad-making, something advertisers aren’t used to, according to several ad executives involved with creating iAds.

Better get used to it.

WSJ Reports From Behind-the-Scenes of the HP/Mark Hurd Imbroglio 

Ben Worthen and Joann S. Lublin, reporting for the WSJ, have sources from both sides:

According to the person familiar with the board’s thinking, before the Hurd-Fisher settlement, H-P had seen enough evidence of misconduct by Mr. Hurd for there to be a sense among directors that he was no longer fit to serve as CEO. The alleged misconduct was said to include failing to disclose a personal relationship with an H-P contractor—something H-P defines as a conflict of interest—and filing expense reports the company determined were intended to conceal the relationship.

A person close to Mr. Hurd said that he didn’t conceal a relationship, he didn’t fill out expense accounts himself, and Ms. Fisher’s name was on some of them.

And the board apparently searched Hurd’s computer:

As the investigation evolved, said a person close to it, the board came to believe that the CEO had a personal relationship with Ms. Fisher, even if not sexual. For instance, the investigation found that Mr. Hurd had looked at clips from racy films featuring Ms. Fisher, a former actress, this person said. Someone familiar with Mr. Hurd’s thinking said he just did a Google search of 10 minutes or so.

Engadget: ‘Philips’ Android-Powered GoGear Connect PMP Seemingly on Sale Overseas’ 

Would-be iPod Touch competitor from Philips. But no one’s sure if it’s actually on sale yet, it hasn’t been announced for the US, is marked at costing $340, and may not have access to the Android Market.

‘Eye of the Tiger’ Remix, Played Entirely Using iPad Apps 

We need reprints of that memo about the iPad being for consumption, not creation.

NYT Reports Hulu Preparing for IPO 

Seems a little (a lot) premature, if you ask me. They have no profits, and their content comes from companies that may well choose to create their own online publishing services. Hulu is a brand new middleman in a world where middlemen are going away.

‘Hallowed Ground’ 

Daryl Lang:

Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric.

Deleted Opening Scene of ‘Return of the Jedi’ 

Speaking of Return of the Jedi, George Lucas showed the legendary deleted opening scene, with Vader reaching out to Luke via the Force, while Luke finishes constructing his new lightsaber on Tatooine. I remember reading about this in a magazine when I was 10; now it’s on YouTube. Amazing.

Luke Skywalker, ‘Walking Off Alone “Like Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Westerns”’ 

Gary Kurtz, who produced the first two Star Wars films with George Lucas, on the original vision for Return of the Jedi:

“We had an outline and George changed everything in it,” Kurtz said. “Instead of bittersweet and poignant he wanted a euphoric ending with everybody happy. The original idea was that they would recover [the kidnapped] Han Solo in the early part of the story and that he would then die in the middle part of the film in a raid on an Imperial base. George then decided he didn’t want any of the principals killed. By that time there were really big toy sales and that was a reason.”

The discussed ending of the film that Kurtz favored presented the rebel forces in tatters, Leia grappling with her new duties as queen and Luke walking off alone “like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns,” as Kurtz put it.

Bad ass.

Joe Nocera on Why HP Fired Mark Hurd 

Joe Nocera:

On the other hand, putting up dazzling short-term numbers that have the effect of enriching himself while robbing H.P.’s future — isn’t that what a C.E.O. should be fired for? Firing Mr. Hurd for that reason, however, would have taken courage, something that has always been in short supply on the H.P. board.

Apple Manager Arrested in $1 Million Kickback Scheme 

Pete Carey, reporting for The San Jose Mercury News:

A midlevel Apple manager was arrested Friday and accused of accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from half a dozen Asian suppliers of iPhone and iPod accessories in a federal indictment unsealed and a separate civil suit.

Coincidence? Or Special Sauce? 

Oracle.com disappeared from Google search results for a few hours yesterday.

Update: Apparently not: it was a forged query.

Flickpad 

My thanks to Shacked Software for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Flickpad, their iPad app for browsing photos from Facebook and Flickr. I love it. I don’t use Facebook, but I can vouch that Flickpad is a great way to browse Flickr. It’s one of those things that feels better and more natural on the iPad than it ever could on a Mac. You don’t spend much time touching UI controls — you touch photos. Check out the screencast and see for yourself. Buy it for just $6.99 in the App Store.

Announcing the jQuery Mobile Project 

John Resig:

The jQuery project is really excited to announce the work that we’ve been doing to bring jQuery to mobile devices. Not only is the core jQuery library being improved to work across all of the major mobile platforms, but we’re also working to release a complete, unified, mobile UI framework.

Looks great.

Bogus TweetDeck for Android App in Android Market 

TweetDeck:

Someone has uploaded a “TweetDeck” app to the Android Market and is charging for it. THIS IS NOT THE OFFICIAL APP. Do NOT download.

Here’s the listing in DoubleTwist’s Android Market site.

Voogle Wireless 

I liked 2006 Google’s stance on net neutrality a lot better than 2010 Google’s.

Journalism Warning Labels 

We need a Safari extension to enable these online.

Miguel de Icaza on Oracle’s Patent Suit Against Google 

Intriguing stuff. I think he’s dreaming when he thinks Google could just switch from Java to .NET, but he makes a good case that Jonathan Schwartz “shopped Sun with a big ‘Sue Google’ sign.”

Drew Thaler’s JavaScript Blacklist 

One of my favorite Safari Extensions (and one that didn’t make Frakes’s aforelinked list), blocks annoying scripts from “services” like Tynt and Intellitxt. If you tried it a few weeks ago and found it crashy, that was a bug in Safari 5.0, fixed in Safari 5.0.1, so try it again.

Dan Frakes’s Top 25 Safari Extensions 

Some good ones I hadn’t seen before, like BetterSource.

Java Creator James Gosling on the Oracle/Google Lawsuit 

James Gosling (who left Oracle after the Sun acquisition):

During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer’s eyes sparkle.

How Google Routed Around Sun’s IP-Based Licensing Restrictions on Java ME 

I linked to this keen piece by Stefano Mazzocchi back in November 2007, but it’s worth a re-link in light of the lawsuit Oracle just filed against Google over Android’s use of Java. Google is avoiding Sun’s (now Oracle’s) Java ME licensing restrictions by using their own virtual machine, Dalvik:

But Android’s programs are written in Java, using Java-oriented IDEs (it also comes with an Eclipse plugin)… it just doesn’t compile the Java code into Java bytecode but (oops, Sun didn’t see this one coming) into Dalvik bytecode.

So, Android uses the syntax of the Java platform (the Java “language”, if you wish, which is enough to make Java programmers feel at home and IDEs to support the editing smoothly) and the Java SE class library but not the Java bytecode or the Java virtual machine to execute it on the phone (and, note, Android’s implementation of the Java SE class library is, indeed, Apache Harmony’s!)

‘Give the Gordon Gekko Speech Already’ 

MG Siegler:

The problem is that Google themselves are unwilling to admit that greed is what’s at play here. They’re still trying to put on this charade that this is all about what’s best for us. That’s insulting. What’s best for us is net neutrality, pure and simple.

If someone at Google just stood up and gave a Gordon Gekko-esque speech about their passion for expansion and securing deals it would be easier to stomach.

British Network ITV Responds to Apple iTV Rumor 

It’s just a rumor, dudes. (My understanding, though, is that this is why Apple went with the name “Apple TV” instead of “iTV” in the first place, back in 2006.)

The iPad and Autism 

Ashley Harrell, reporting for SF Weekly:

Though there are other computers designed for children with autism, a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It’s cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people. “I just couldn’t imagine not introducing this to a parent of a child who has autism,” says Tammy Mastropietro, a speech pathologist based outside Boston who uses the technology with numerous clients. She sees it as a game changer for those with autism, particularly those most severely affected.

The iPad wasn’t designed with autistic children in mind, but, anecdotally, the results are seemingly miraculous. My guess is that it has something to do with the lack of indirection — fingers touching screen elements directly, rather than pushing hardware buttons or manipulating an on-screen pointer using a mouse or trackpad.

Stanley Kubrick, on the Set of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ 

Great photo by Dmitri Kasterine. (Be sure to click it to show the whole thing; the web page defaults to showing just a small crop of it.)

Oracle Sues Google Over Use of Java in Android 

MarketWatch:

Oracle Corp. said Thursday it has filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Google Inc., alleging that the Internet search giant infringed on intellectual property related to the Java software that Oracle acquired when it purchased Sun Microsystems Inc.

Hmm. Makes no sense to me, but the story is light on technical details. Google sure is picking up enemies, though.

Update: Tom Krazit has a copy of Oracle’s complaint and the patent numbers they claim Google is violating.

David Pogue Gets an Advance Look at Google App Inventor 

David Pogue:

But one thing’s for sure: App Inventor has been overhyped to the skies.

I don’t understand why Google starts hyping products so long before they’re ready to ship.

Id Demos Impressive ‘Rage’ on the iPhone 

Mike Fahey:

Carmack’s demonstration, using the id Tech 5 engine, could possibly be the most impressive tech we’ve seen on the iPhone. Running on the iPhone 4 but easily run on the 3GS, the visuals indeed rivaled anything from the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox, and might even be able to give a few current-gen titles a run for their money.

Droid 2 and BlackBerry Torch Are on Sale 

David Goldman:

There were no lines to speak of for the Droid 2 and Torch. Calls to a handful of Best Buy locations, Verizon stores and AT&T stores showed that stock of the new devices was generally plentiful.

Times for iPad 

Technically, Times is a feed reader, but in use (and I’ve been using it for a few days) it feels more like a personal newspaper — which is exactly how it’s billed. I’d say it’s very competitive with Flipboard. The level of panache and elegance in Times’s UI is astounding.

Unsuck It 

New from Mule Design: business jargon to plain English translator.

Voice Actions for Android 

Intriguing new voice-recognition features for Android 2.2. The voice recognition takes place on Google servers, not the phone. It seems to me that the Google iPhone app is just as accurate at recognizing these commands — it’s just that it (the current Google iPhone app) interprets everything as a search query, rather than recognizing certain terms as commands.

Dave Caolo on the Best Keyboard Ever Made 

Dave Caolo has been using the same Apple Extended Keyboard II for 20 years:

First is the sound. That lovely wooden-stick-on-a-hollow-log “thonk” that announces each keystroke is yet to be duplicated. It’s satisfying in a way that affirms your productivity. Much like the jackhammer operator feels content at the end of a noisy day’s work, I feel that I got much accomplished with all that thonking and clacking.

I’m on my second.

Also, with an iMate ADB-to-USB adaptor and the Camera Connection Kit, it works with the iPad.

‘A Phone Tracker Spy’, iPhone App With Hundreds of Seemingly-Fraudulent Five-Star Ratings 

This is a rather bizarre $1 iPhone app. At a glance purports to allow you to “locate any cell phone in the world, on any network, anywhere in the world”. Enter a phone number, wait, and it shows you where the phone is on a map.

Now, of course, this isn’t technically possible. And the developer’s description of the app starts with “For entertainment purposes only” — the only indication given that the app is a gag. Most people don’t read descriptions closely, and the app is categorized in the App Store under “Utilities”, so, unsurprisingly, the comments are filled with angry people who consider themselves ripped off for having bought it. People are buying it because they think it does what it says.

But here’s the really odd part: If you view the app info in iTunes (as opposed to the web), you can see that the app has an average rating of 3.5 stars, including 532 five-star ratings. But if you sort the customer reviews by “most favorable”, all but two (both of which were left in the last 24 hours) are one-star reviews. It would appear that someone has figured out a scam to rack up fraudulent five-star ratings.

The Talk Show #3 

Yours truly and Dan Benjamin, talking about nerdy shit like the Verizon iPhone rumors and the cultural differences between Android and iPhone developers. Sponsored by MailChimp.

HTML5 Boilerplate 

Paul Irish and Divya Manian:

HTML5 Boilerplate is the professional badass’s base HTML/CSS/JS template for a fast, robust and future-proof site.

Peter Cohen on the Apple TV ‘Losing’ 1080p Playback 

Peter Cohen:

There’s only one problem.

The Apple TV never had support for 1080i or 1080p video.

I know that many of you will do a double-take, and will immediately fire up your flatscreen TV to check. And you’ll find that your Apple TV says it knows you’re on a 1080i device. I know that’s one of the first things I changed when I set up my Apple TV.

But check the specs on Apple’s own Web site to confirm. The Apple TV simply does not output 1080p or 1080i video. It never has.

I see what he means; Topolsky’s headline at Engadget could be misread to mean that the new Apple TV’s — purported — lack of 1080 playback is a regression from the existing shipping model. It’s not. It’s a regression from a previous rumor regarding the next-gen model.

What Happened to Yahoo 

Paul Graham on why Yahoo fizzled out in the ’90s. Astute. Regarding their stance toward Microsoft:

It’s hard for anyone much younger than me to understand the fear Microsoft still inspired in 1995. Imagine a company with several times the power Google has now, but way meaner.

‘Words’ 

What a wonderful short film by Everynone. (You’re checking Devour every day, right?)

Another Intriguing Engadget Scoop: Sony Ericsson to Introduce Android 3.0 Gaming Platform 

Joshua Topolsky:

The device is described as cross between the Samsung Captivate and the PSP Go — in other words, it’s a landscape slider with game controls in place of the typical QWERTY keyboard.

Why would Sony work with Google on this, though?

Josh Topolsky on the Upcoming Apple TV 

Interesting scoop:

Apparently the box won’t be capable of handling (or enabled to handle) 1080i or 1080p video. Instead it will only push out 720p clips. The word — and cause for much internal debate, we’re told — is that this has something to do with the A4’s inability to crank on higher resolution content, but we don’t see how that’s possible considering the iPhone 3GS could play back full HD video. Furthermore, the device will be getting apps and presumably an App Store entry, though it’s unclear if there will be cross-pollination between iPad and iPhone / iPod touch offerings and new Apple TV applications.

And he says it’s going to be renamed — or re-renamed — “iTV”.

Marc Hedlund’s Wacky Google/Verizon Net Neutrality Theory 

Marc Hedlund:

Let me propose a total grassy-knoll/two-shooter conspiracy theory so you can talk me out of it. What if Google agreed to Verizon’s stance on wireless net neutrality in order to keep Verizon from making a deal with Apple for the iPhone?

Crazy theory, but these are crazy times.

Alpha Dog of the Week: Steven Slater 

Well-deserved accolade from Stephen Colbert.

‘Subject: Hey Jerk’ 

Larry Ellison sends an email to Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

Adelyn Lee went to jail for a year for falsely accusing me of sexual harassment. Why did you leave that out of your story you scum bag? Let me guess … your job is telling half-truths. Fortune Magazine must be very proud of you.

Apple Responds to FutureTap Regarding Ripped-Off App UI Appearing in Patent Application 

Ortwin Gentz:

So the use of the Where To? screenshot is not an offense in any way but merely an illustration that apps such as Where To? could make use of the invention. We feel honored over this mention and appreciate that Apple is looking into a proper attribution of the screenshot. In retrospective, I can say we wouldn‘t ever have considered the story alarming had the screenshot included a short attribution notice.

‘Why Google Became a Carrier-Humping, Net Neutrality Surrender Monkey’ 

Ryan Singel for Wired on Google and net neutrality. The most damning bit is this quote from Google’s own weblog, back in 2007:

The nation’s spectrum airwaves are not the birthright of any one company. They are a unique and valuable public resource that belong to all Americans. The FCC’s auction rules are designed to allow U.S. consumers — for the first time — to use their handsets with any network they desire, and download and use the lawful software applications of their choice.

It’s not that Google is worse on net neutrality than other companies with a stake in the mobile phone game. It’s that they made such a show of being better, of being on the side of the public interest — before they had a big stake in the game.

Apple Releases iOS 4.0.2 Update; Fixes JailbreakMe.com Exploits 

iOS 3.2.2 for the iPad, too. I recommend upgrading to these quickly.

Pretty good turnaround time from Apple: less than two weeks since the exploits were unveiled.

The EFF’s Review of Verizon and Google’s Net Neutrality Proposal 

Cogent analysis by Cindy Cohn.

Johnny Carson’s ‘Tonight Show’ Digitized for Searchable Database 

Matea Gold, reporting for the LA Times:

Carson Entertainment Group, which owns the archive of the late-night host’s 30 years on “The Tonight Show,” is set to announce Wednesday that it has digitized all 3,300 hours of existing footage from the program and created a searchable online database for producers and researchers.

The library will initially be available just for professional clip-licensing purposes, but the company also plans to release 50 full-format shows on DVD and post a rotating series of historic clips for public viewing on http://www.johnnycarson.com/.

Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac Still Doesn’t Support Hebrew 

Also: worst URL ever? (Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Update: They’ve changed the URL.

Pencil Tip Micro Sculptures by Dalton Ghetti 

Amazing work. (Via Jason Zimdars.)

Glenn Fleishman Interviews Susan Orlean Regarding the iPad 

Two of my favorite writers talking about one of my favorite devices.

Lex Friedman Cautions Against Allowing Safari Extensions to Auto-Update 

He posits that a developer could write an innocuous extension, wait for it to get popular, then publish an update to the extension with nefarious privacy invasive features.

Jonathan Mann’s ‘Ballad of Steven Slater’ 

Another, even better song about America’s newest folk hero, this time from Jonathan Mann (the “song a day” guy whose “iPhone 4 Antenna Song” was played by Apple at the start of the Antennagate press conference).

Adobe Ships Mac OS X Flash Player With H.264 GPU Decoding 

Thibault Imbert:

We just pushed a few minutes ago a new version of the Flash Player 10.1.82.76 containing a nice feature that was in beta until now called “Gala”. Yes, H.264 GPU decoding in Mac OSX is now officially enabled in the Flash Player.

The catch? Hardware accelerated decoding requires Mac OS X 10.6.3 and one of the following video cards: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M, or GeForce GT 330M GPUs.

The Ballad of Steven Slater 

Hit play, trust me. See also: this and this.

Flexibility and Power 

Brent Simmons:

Whenever I think about new (or old) features in software, I think about whether they’re flexibility or power features.

They’re different things. Flexibility is the ability to change how software works; power is the ability to do more with less effort.

Mike Monteiro Beats Gmail 

“Who needs to delete when you have so much storage?”

Dell Streak Pricing: $300 With Two-Year AT&T Contract, $550 Without 

That’s almost twice as much as a good iPod Touch, and if you wait a few weeks to buy the Touch, you’ll get one with a Retina Display and dual cameras. If Dell can’t make an iPod Touch competitor, who can?

And if you want to argue that at 5 inches diagonally, the Streak is a tablet, that means it costs $50 more than an iPad with a 9.7-inch display. And apparently it’s going to ship with a year-old version of the Android OS. Great work, Dell.

Chuck House on HP’s Shitcanning of Mark Hurd 

Chuck House speculates that HP’s board was looking for a reason to force Hurd out:

The Voice of the Workplace, HP’s thirty-five year historic ‘measure’ of employee feelings (done every five years) showed in April an astonishing finding — more than two-thirds of HP’s employees would quit tomorrow if they had an equivalent job offer. Not a raise, not a promotion, simply an alternative. That number never used to be in double digits.

Hurd was, apparently, very unpopular with the HP rank-and-file.

Engadget: ‘HP Tells Employees WebOS Tablet Coming Q1 2011’ 

So will there be a single credible iPad competitor out in time for the holidays?

Select Scenes From the World’s Longest Yard Sale 

A film by Jess Gibson:

Follow four assholes along Highway 127’s annual “World’s Largest Yard Sale”. From Defiance, Ohio all the way down to Gadsden, Alabama. 627 miles.

‘Stanley Was a Great Dancer’ 

Lovely interview with Christiane Kubrick by Tom Happold at The Guardian. (Requires Flash, alas.)

The Incident 

Games like this are why iPhone users get laid so much.

Statistical Analysis of the Attractiveness of User Profile Pictures 

Fascinating statistical analysis of user profile pictures from the dating site OkCupid. Among their conclusions: iPhone owners have more sex than BlackBerry and Android owners. (Via Andy Baio.)

Cadillac’s CTS-V Coupe 

Dan Neil, car columnist for the WSJ, says the Cadillac CTS-V coupe is more fun to drive and makes the BMW M3 and Audi RS 5 “look like taxis”. Agree or disagree, it’s a sign of resurgence in the U.S. auto industry.

‘God’s Number’ Is 20 

With about 35 CPU-years of idle computer time donated by Google, a team of researchers has essentially solved every position of the Rubik’s Cube, and shown that no position requires more than twenty moves.

South Korean Police Raid Google Office 

Choe Sang-Hun, reporting for the NYT:

The South Korean police raided the offices of Google Korea on Tuesday as part of an investigation into whether the company had illegally collected and stored personal wireless data.

What Google Could Learn From Pixar 

Peter Sims:

Despite an unbroken string of 11 blockbuster films, Catmull regularly says, “Success hides problems.” It’s an insight Google should acknowledge and act on.

Android Market Worldwide Limitations 

Android Market is available in 46 countries around the world, but there are only 13 countries where people can purchase apps. In the other 33 countries, you can only download free apps. And there are only 9 countries from which developers can sell priced apps in the Android Market. So if you live in, say, Scandinavia, you can neither buy nor sell paid Android apps in the Market.

Yours Truly, Back in 2008, on Why RIM Is Screwed 

Synopsis: mobile phones are evolving into pocket-sized computers; Apple has 20 years of experience making portable computers, and RIM does not.

I’d say the latest iPhone and BlackBerry models bear this prediction out. RIM’s new flagship 9800 (a.k.a. Torch) is, relative to current Android and iPhone models, slow and chunky. It may well be a great phone and texting device, but it’s not much of a mobile computer.

‘My Cooking Diary’ 

Recipes by Sharon Hwang, photos by Mike Matas, a fascinating website design.

‘Commitment to Openness and Freedom’ 

Andrew Melnizek, for Android Central:

Developer Unstable Apps just released their latest update to their ‘Easy Root’ application yesterday. Though, just as soon as it went up, Google quickly yanked it off the Android Market. The latest ‘Easy Root’ update (1.2.2), allowed owners running Froyo on the Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid X, and the Motorola Milestone to easily root their phones by a single touch of a button.

The developer of the app, “Nathan”, gave Android Central a statement:

When I first started getting word from people that Easy Root had been pulled from the Market I was surprised. I am sure that like many others I choose the Android platform for its commitment to openness and freedom.

That’s a good one.

Stacey Higginbotham on the Google-Verizon Net Neutrality Plan 

Stacey Higginbotham follows the money:

So Google sold the tech world out as it hopes to keep one of the largest pushers of its Android operating system happy.

What happens to the heads of those who still buy the “Google is open, Apple is closed” worldview if Apple were to issue a statement disagreeing with this proposal, and stating a desire for wireless networking to be treated no differently than wired?

(As far as I can tell, Apple has been silent on net neutrality issues; for all I know, they support allowing preferential treatment for those companies that can afford it.)

There’s Only One Internet 

John Bergmayer, staff attorney at Public Knowledge:

The biggest problem with the framework is that, while purporting to support “the open Internet,” it draws illogical distinctions on the basis of what technology you use to access the Internet, and between “the public Internet” (Verizon’s mantra on the press call) and “additional online services.” […]

The companies seem to want to divide the Internet yet further — not just between wired and wireless, but between “the public Internet” and “additional online services”.

Dan Gillmor on the Google-Verizon Net Neutrality Plan 

Dan Gillmor:

Throughout the conference call, we kept hearing references to the “public Internet” — an expression that leads inescapably to something else.

Right. What exactly is the non-public Internet?

The other big news in today’s announcement was Google’s clear retreat on network neutrality when it comes to wireless networks.

Right. And who doesn’t agree that wireless is going to be to the coming decade what wired broadband was to the last?

Larry Ellison on HP’s Firing of Mark Hurd 

Ashlee Vance for the NYT:

“The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago,” Mr. Ellison wrote. “That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.”

Oracle, the world’s largest database software maker, has been a close partner of H.P., which sells large computing systems to corporations.

U.S. Tax Revenue as a Fraction of GDP, 1950-2010 

Interesting charts, especially the relative stability of total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP.

The Tiger Oil Memos 

Hilarious collection of memos from 1978 by Edward Mike Davis, the CEO and owner of the Tiger Oil Company in Houston. A personal favorite:

Do not speak to me when you see me. If I want to speak to you, I will do so. I want to save my throat. I don’t want to ruin it by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches.

Don’t Get Fireballed 

Matt Brown explains how to make WordPress capable of serving more than one page per second: the free WP Super Cache plugin. Must-read for anyone hosting their own installation of WordPress.

I have no idea why WP Super Cache (or some other caching solution) isn’t part of the default WordPress installation.

Devour 

The best of YouTube, hand-picked by the gang from Uncrate. Perfect on the iPad.

JetBlue Flight Attendant Pops Open Plane Chute at JFK, Slides Away 

Sean Gardiner:

Slater demanded an apology from the passenger, the official said, but the passenger refused. The two argued before the passenger told Slater to  “fuck off”, the official said. The official said that Slater then got on the plane’s PA system and directed that same obscenity at all the passengers and added that he especially meant it for the man who refused to apologize.

Slater is alleged to have then activated the plane’s inflatable emergency slide, grabbed two beers from the galley, then slid down the chute, the official said.

Weak Sauce 

Stacey Higginbotham:

The Google and Verizon agreement also leaves room for broadband operators to offer managed services, although Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg pledged that the goal of such managed services would not be to circumvent providing quality services to consumers, which was a concern the FCC had for such products.

Thanks for the “pledge”. So why not ask for the FCC to regulate this by law?

Google and Verizon’s Joint Policy Proposal for an Open Internet 

Just keep repeating the word “open”:

Sixth, we both recognize that wireless broadband is different from the traditional wireline world, in part because the mobile marketplace is more competitive and changing rapidly. In recognition of the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace, under this proposal we would not now apply most of the wireline principles to wireless, except for the transparency requirement.

Channel Insider: Ten Reasons Why the iPad Won’t Be a Long-Term Success 

Highlights include #1 (“The Cisco tablet is coming”), #7 (“A BlackBerry tablet is coming”), and #10 (“The power of Windows”).

Microsoft’s New ‘PC vs. Mac’ Site 

Matt Gemmell nails it:

Apple and Microsoft have something in common: their “Mac vs PC” comparisons both target PC users.

Offense vs. defense.

Everything You Need to Know About Lifehacker’s Cheapskate Audience, in One Sentence 

From their (highly questionable) list of the best iPhone apps:

Pano’s not particularly cheap, at $3, but it can create some enormous, impressive panoramas right on your iPhone.

Three bucks, “not particularly cheap”. (Via Jonathan Wight.)

Is Apple’s Growth at an End? 

Robert Paul Leitao:

In the June quarter close to 50% of Apple’s revenue was derived from products that did not exist in the market just over three years ago. In the September and December quarters, well over 50% of Apple’s reported revenue will be derived from iPhone and iPad sales. At the moment there’s no practical limit to the size of the market for these two products.

50 percent of their revenue now comes from products that didn’t exist three years ago. Amazing. (Via Philip Elmer-DeWitt.)

Your Beautiful Eyes 

Macro photography by Suren Manvelyan.

New From Sharpie: The Liquid Pencil 

Intriguing new pen from Sharpie: writes like a pen, erases like a pencil, becomes permanent after three days.

Update: It’s an uncached WordPress site, so, no surprise, it’s crapped out. Here it is in Google’s cache.

Note the Word ‘Intimate’ 

From a press release issued by Jodie Fisher:

“I was surprised and saddened that Mark Hurd lost his job over this. That was never my intention. […] Mark and I never had an affair or intimate sexual relationship.”

From which John Biggs concludes:

There was no sexual contact and generally it just looks like they had dinners together when she was “under contract to work at high-level customer and executive summit events” for the company.

I think that’s the wrong conclusion. This repeated use of the phrase “no intimate sexual relationship” sounds to me like it means “we had a sexual relationship but it wasn’t an intimate one”. I have no idea what they mean by that (“no intercourse”?) — but if you look at it that way, the whole saga makes a lot more sense.

Mark Hurd’s Lady Friend: Former Actress Jodie Fisher 

Xeni Jardin:

Ms. Fisher, who is now 50, worked as a contractor with HP’s marketing division from 2007 to 2009. She earned “up to $5,000 per event to greet people and make introductions among executives attending HP events that she helped organize,” according to the AP.

WSJ: Papermaster ‘Lost the Confidence of Mr. Jobs’ 

The well-sourced Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ian Sherr, reporting for the WSJ:

The iPhone 4, a key device for Apple, has been beset by issues such as antenna reception and delayed production of a white version of the gadget. Several people familiar with Mr. Papermaster’s situation said his departure was driven by a broader cultural incompatibility.

Mr. Papermaster had lost the confidence of Mr. Jobs months ago and hasn’t been part of the decision-making process for some time, these people said. They added that Mr. Papermaster didn’t appear to have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple and wasn’t used to Apple’s corporate culture, where even senior executives are expected to keep on top of the smallest details of their areas of responsibility and often have to handle many tasks directly, as opposed to delegating them.

And that’s that. The antenna wasn’t the only thing, but it may have been the final straw.

MG Siegler (and, judging by my email, he’s not alone) wonders why Apple didn’t wait a few months to show Papermaster the door, to wait for the Antennagate ashes to run cold. That’s not how Apple rolls. These senior executives are not figureheads. They work their asses off, under a lot of pressure. (Remember Tim Bucher?) When Jobs decides you’re a bozo, you’re done, timing be damned.

Questions and Answers on the JailbreakMe Vulnerability 

Comprehensive overview from F-Secure of the security implications of JailbreakMe’s new iOS exploit.

Regarding Mac Market Share Among College Students 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, quoting survey results from Student Monitor:

Among those who planned to purchase a new computer, 87% planned to buy a laptop. And among those students 47% planned to buy a Mac.

Among student laptop owners, Apple has the highest share, at 27 percent. These numbers are short of the claim by analyst Trip Chowdhry that “70% of incoming University freshman students are coming with Macs”, but they’re still remarkable, and the trend is very strong in Apple’s favor.

Mark Papermaster Leaves Apple; Responsible for iPhone 4 Antenna 

Miguel Helft, reporting for the NYT:

Mark Papermaster, the Apple executive in charge of hardware for the company’s flagship iPhone, has left the company in the wake of widely reported problems with the antenna of the recently introduced iPhone 4.

It is not clear if Mr. Papermaster was ousted or left on his own accord.

From what I’ve heard, it’s clear he was sacked. Papermaster was a conspicuous absence at the Antennagate press conference. Inside Apple, he’s “the guy responsible for the antenna” — that’s a quote from a source back on July 23. (Another quote from the same source: “Apparently the antenna guys used to have a big chip on their shoulder. No more.”)

Nice Catch 

Masato Akamatsu, center fielder of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, climbs the wall to catch a would-be home run.

Karl Bode on Google and Net Neutrality 

Karl Bode, writing at DSL Reports:

While this tactic of pre-empting real consumer protections with lobbyist-written fluff is Verizon’s usual modus operandi, it’s an interesting shift for Google (at least in terms of neutrality). It’s clear the search giant is now willing to shelve their previous principles in order to protect their lucrative Android relationship with Verizon.

The New York Times on Mark Hurd’s Ouster From HP 

Ashlee Vance:

Sources close to the company and familiar with the situation said that over a number of months, the contractor attended events for H.P. in Asia, Europe and the United States, and often dined alone with Mr. Hurd after the events. The contractor’s fees ranged from $1,000 to $5,000 for events in the United States and up to $10,000 for overseas ventures. Even though the same contractor was present, Mr. Hurd said that he dined alone or with a different person on his expense reports, these people said.

But, curiously, both Hurd and the woman (who has not been named) claim the relationship wasn’t sexual:

Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer who has agreed to represent the woman, said, “We want to make clear that there was no affair and no intimate sexual relationship between our client and Mr. Hurd.”

Hurd — under whose leadership HP’s stock price has doubled since 2005 — didn’t want to go. He offered to reimburse the company for the disputed expenses, but the board refused.

Hurd’s severance package: $12.6 million in cash, and a boatload of stock options.

The Economist on Net Neutrality 

The Economist:

If companies always agreed with regulators’ rules, there would be no need for regulators. The very point of a regulator is to do things that companies don’t like, out of concern for the welfare of the market or the consumer.

Mark Hurd Forced to Resign From HP for ‘Inappropriate Behavior’ 

Hurd was president, CEO, and chairman of the board; just like that, he’s out. CNet has the memo sent to HP employees by Cathie Lesjak, CFO and interim CEO, which states:

Based on the investigation it was determined that the former contractor’s claim of sexual harassment was not supported by the facts. The investigation did reveal, however, that Mark had engaged in other inappropriate conduct. Specifically, based on the facts that were gathered it was found that Mark had failed to disclose a close personal relationship he had with the contractor that constituted a conflict of interest, failed to maintain accurate expense reports, and misused company assets.

Ignominious.

(I wonder if Jon Rubenstein is in the running to replace him?)

My-Cast Weather Radar 

My thanks to Digital Cyclone for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote My-Cast Weather Radar, their excellent weather information app for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

It’s fast and well-designed. It presents a bunch of information and maps in a clear, well-designed way. I’ve tried a bunch of iPhone weather apps over the past three years, and My-Cast Weather Radar is the first one that has replaced Apple’s built-in Weather app on my iPhone’s first home screen. It hits the sweet spot between a quick overview and detailed data. $3.99 on the App Store.

John Siracusa on Apple and the War for the Mobile Market: ‘Can You Buy Me Now?’ 

John Siracusa:

The only way for Apple to eliminate the distribution and marketing advantage currently enjoyed by Android is to make sure that everywhere an Android phone is for sale, there’s an iPhone sitting right next to it that will work on the same network.

Update 1: It occurs to me that we should be able to test Siracusa’s thesis, by comparing Android and iPhone market share in countries like the U.K. and Japan, where the iPhone is already available on all the major carriers. Is that data available?

Update 2: Not sure what I was thinking about Japan, but that’s a bad example: the iPhone is only sold there through one carrier, Softbank; Japan’s biggest carrier is DoCoMo.

Google and Verizon Statements on Purported Net Neutrality Deal 

Google’s public policy Twitter account:

@NYTimes is wrong. We’ve not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet.

That’s in reference to this story in The Times. And here’s Verizon’s response:

The New York Times article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.

But these strike me as non-denial denials. The question is: have Google and Verizon reached an agreement that allows Verizon to favor Android phones or Google web services over mobile networks?

Google, Champion of Net Neutrality 

Cecilia Kang:

Specifically, Google and Verizon’s agreement could prevent Verizon from offering some prioritization to the biggest bidders who want better delivery of content on its DSL and fiber networks, according to the sources. But that wouldn’t apply to mobile phones, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the companies have not officially made their announcement.

So Verizon and Google agree that net neutrality applies to Verizon’s DSL and fiber networks, where Google and Verizon have no shared interest. But mobile, where Verizon and Google are partners? Verizon can totally fuck over anyone except Android?

Imagine the uproar if Apple and AT&T worked out such a deal.

Skype for Android Is Exclusive to Verizon 

I wasn’t aware of this until the other day: Skype for Android (and apparently BlackBerry, too) is exclusive to Verizon. So if you’ve got an Android phone on another carrier, you can’t use Skype. This is where I’d normally make a wry joke about how great it is that Android is “open”, but I won’t.

It is a good example of how Android is open, though. In many ways, its openness is from the perspective of the carriers. The carriers can (and do) take Android and modify the default UI appearance. They add new un-deletable system apps. And they can make exclusive deals like this one with Skype.

I don’t think Apple would ever go for something like this. If and when the iPhone comes to Verizon, I can’t imagine Apple allowing an update to Skype that won’t run on non-Verizon iPhones.

Yoko Ono Says Beatles/iTunes Deal Still at Impasse 

Yoko Ono to Reuters:

“Steve Jobs has his own idea and he’s a brilliant guy,” Ono, the 77-year-old widow of John Lennon, told Reuters. “There’s just an element that we’re not very happy about, as people. We are holding out. Don’t hold your breath… for anything,” she said with a laugh.

Does anyone care any more? The digital music revolution is old news now.

Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty 

Fascinating piece by David Corn for Mother Jones, on Bob Inglis, a very conservative South Carolina Republican who lost the primary election to a “Tea Party” candidate. Why? Because Inglis is not insane:

I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, “You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!”

And because he wouldn’t falsely smear President Obama as a “socialist”:

For me to go around saying that Barack Obama is a socialist is a violation of the Ninth Commandment. He is a liberal fellow. I’m conservative. We disagree… But I don’t need to call him a socialist, and I hurt the country by doing so. The country has to come together to find a solution to these challenges or else we go over the cliff.

OK, Sure, Google Wave’s Failure Is a Good Thing 

Mathew Ingram:

But shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that Google was willing to experiment at all? That’s Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s view — he told reporters at the Techonomy conference that “we celebrate our failures,” saying the company encourages staff to take risks and possibly fail. And he is right to do so. […]

So maybe Wave was poorly designed, or over-engineered, and didn’t deserve to live. But we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn Google for releasing it or experimenting with it — if anything, we should be cheering them on.

The problem is, when Google unveiled Wave, they didn’t say, “Hey, maybe this thing is poorly-designed, over-engineered, and confusing — but maybe it’ll be useful.” They billed it as The Next Big Thing. Google itself pitched it as a replacement for email. It was supposed to be a big deal. Wave’s failure may not mean much to Google financially, but it has certainly cost them in credibility.

MoviePeg for iPad Now Shipping 

Back in December, a month before the iPad was announced and unveiled, I asked, among other questions:

If you’re supposed to watch video on it, how do you prop it up? Holding it in your hands? Flat on a table seems like the wrong angle entirely; but a fold-out “arm” to prop it up, à la a picture frame, seems clumsy and inelegant.

Apple’s answer: hold it in your hands, lay it flat on a table or in your lap, or put it in a case that can prop it up. I don’t keep mine in a case, so I’ve been anxiously awaiting Magnetic North’s MoviePeg for iPad. I got mine a few days ago, and it’s great. I’ll be using it to watch the Yankees beat the Red Sox this weekend.

The Talk Show #2 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, a so-called podcast featuring yours truly and Dan Benjamin, is now available for your enjoyment. In its new incarnation at 5by5, we’ve got video, but in my heart it’ll always be an audio show. If you want something to look at while listening to the audio, I recommend the car chase scene from Bullitt on a repeat loop.

This week’s show is sponsored by MailChimp, and our main topic is the question of what “market share” means for new mobile platforms like iOS and Android.

Khoi Vinh on Tumblr and Identity 

Khoi Vinh:

My biggest complaint, by far, has bothered me for some time but has taken me only until recently to put my finger on. Tumblr discourages identity. Or, to be more specific, it promotes shallow identity. Moreso than other blogging systems like WordPress or ExpressionEngine, Tumblr blogs frequently offer only scant few details about their authors. I can’t recall how many Tumblr sites I’ve visited where it wasn’t clear who was behind the posts, what their background was, or what their intent was.

I run into this all the time. It’s my policy to give credit by name whenever I link to or quote from someone; I often run into sites on Tumblr — thoughtful, interesting, well-written sites — where the author’s name isn’t indicated. In many such cases, I just don’t link. Yesterday I did link, but I felt weird about it.

And a separate problem is that when “reblogging”, the original source on Tumblr is hard to track down. I try to be scrupulous about linking to the original writer/creator of things, but Tumblr sites sometimes make that hard to do, or make it hard to even notice that what you’re reading/looking at originated on someone else’s Tumblr site.

Interarchy 10 

Speaking of good file transfer clients, Interarchy 10.0 is out, and it looks like a great upgrade, with support for Amazon S3, Google Storage, and Rackspace Cloud Files; Quick Look for remote files; and a new plugin API that allows you to execute code on the server.

Transmit 4 Shirts 

Sharp designs by Aaron Draplin.

Walt Mossberg on the BlackBerry Torch 

Walt Mossberg:

But there is still one big downside: third-party apps. While the iPhone boasts 225,000 of these downloadable programs, and Android claims 70,000, the BlackBerry platform is still stuck at a measly 9,000.

I know space is limited in newspaper reviews, but this “how many apps are in the respective app stores” metric is being given too much weight — not just by Mossberg, either. I’ve said this before, but by this metric, we’d all be using Windows, not the Mac. Which platform has the most apps is interesting, but which platform has the best apps is more important. I say the answer to both questions is iOS, but what if Android gets to 300,000 or 400,000 apps or whatever before iOS does? Would that make Android better?

Put another way: is it a bigger problem that RIM’s App World has only 9,000 apps, or, that the typical quality and polish of their apps is beneath that of the apps in Apple’s App Store? A simple app count is nice and comfortable because it’s not subjective (like my statement in the previous sentence about quality and polish), but it’s potentially misleading.

Google Shitcans Wave 

Glenn Fleishman on Google’s pulling the plug on Wave:

Wave’s primary problem is that it was a mishmash of too many separate elements crammed into one bulging interface. Was Wave email? Not quite, although it could handle notifications. Was it an annotation system used to mark up documents? Yes, but in an odd way that was hard to follow. Was it a wiki or a simultaneous editor? Yes and no. And so on.

It’s always seemed remarkable to me that they even shipped Wave in the first place. Interesting technology? Sure. But as a product, it was almost impossible to describe. When has a new product been successful when no one knows or understands what they’re supposed to use it for? It was the most Google-y product ever — no other company would have or could have shipped it.

How Many College Freshmen Are Bringing a Mac? 

From an AP report on Microsoft’s stock price going down after analyst Trip Chowdhry downgraded them:

To boot, Chowdhry said 70 percent of college freshman are entering school with Macs, up about 10 percent to 15 percent from a year ago.

Is that true? I haven’t seen it reported anywhere else. That’s a stunning figure, if true.

U.S. Court Overturns California Same-Sex Marriage Ban 

The New York Times:

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, handing a temporary victory to gay rights advocates in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Why Clear’s 4G iSpot Is Cheap: It’s Limited to iOS Devices 

Jacqui Cheng:

The iSpot can share Clear’s 4G WiMAX connection via WiFi with up to eight different devices simultaneously, and for an “initial” monthly service price of only $25 with no contract. Comparable plans from Verizon and Sprint, for the MiFi and Overdrive 4G, respectively, (both of which offer only five simultaneous connections) are $60 per month with a two-year contract. […]

The major catch, however, is that the device only works on the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad—unlike its competition, the iSpot can’t be used to share a connection with a laptop or another non-iOS device unless a Clear rep unlocks it and bumps the service fee to the standard $40 monthly CLEAR Spot 4G plan.

Fascinating business model.

Wad City: ‘Why I Miss the Blinking Red Light’ 

Dissent of the day, from “Wad City”:

I still miss that blinking red light. I remarked as such to a colleague earlier today, when it took me a half-hour to realize I’d missed his call because I’d stepped out of my office for a few minutes. This would never have happened with my BlackBerry, because the minute I’d have sat back down at my desk, the light would blink and I’d know to check it.

Even if we concede that it’s a good feature, though, is it really one of the top three reasons to use a BlackBerry today?

RIM Still Working on Flash for BlackBerry Devices 

Agam Shah, reporting for Macworld UK:

Research In Motion executives on Tuesday said the company isn’t ignoring Flash, but continuing to work with Adobe Systems on bringing support for the multimedia platform on its mobile devices.

I’m sure it’ll be here soon.

Why Do People Still Use BlackBerrys? 

John D. Sutter, writing for CNN.com, offers three reasons:

  1. The keyboard.
  2. The blinking red light on top.
  3. Their employer mandates it.

1 and 3 make sense. 2 is just nutty, though.

(Via Justin Horn.)

600 

See ya.

RIM’s Week Just Keeps Getting Better 

And it’s only Wednesday:

This is turning out to be a rough week for BlackBerry maker RIM when it comes to international relations: the latest blow is that the European Commission has opted for the iPhone and HTC handsets over the BlackBerry to roll out to its employees.

Library of Congress: Virtual Tour for iPhone and iPod Touch 

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it’d be sweet if there were an iPad version too.

The iPad Is for Consumption, Not Creation 

Corliss Blakely didn’t get the memo. (Via Rex Hammock.)

Flickr’s New Photo Page 

I’ve been using it during the beta period, and I like it a lot.

True American Leadership 

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg:

This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions or favor one over another. The World Trade Center site will forever hold a special place in our city, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in lower Manhattan.

Coda Notes 1.0 

Panic’s fun, free Safari extension.

Warner Brothers Brings Back Looney Tunes 

Preview clip of a new Roadrunner-Coyote short. Looks good. Here’s a direct link to the MP4 video.

Tapbots’s Clever Solution to Allow Pastebot to Run in the Background 

Necessity, the mother of invention. (I’ve been running the beta for a few weeks; it works well.)

Thomas Hawk on Switching to a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S From an iPhone 3GS 

He likes it overall — both the phone itself and especially T-Mobile’s Bay Area service. But here’s what it’s like to connect it to his MacBook:

Connecting the phone to my MacBook Pro is a nightmare and not at all intuitive. Here are the steps I have to take. 1. Go to the main settings menu. 2. Go to the applications submenu. 3. Go to the Development submenu. 4. Select USB debugging. 5. Select my notifications bar at the top of my phone. 6. Pull this bar down. 7. Click on the Ongoing “USB Connected.” 8. Click on Mount. I then get two drives that show up on my Mac. Both are called “No Name.” One just has two folders: movies and music. The other has a bunch more of the phone files. This process is not at all intuitive.

Most people would never get this to work.

Horace Dediu on Apple’s Cash Holdings 

Horace Dediu points out that many financial reporting services are overlooking over $20 billion in Apple’s assets:

To illustrate, the following chart shows the total cash equivalents for the company. The orange colored bars represent long-term securities. If they are excluded, an investor may conclude that Apple’s cash has been declining since 2008 when the opposite is true. The company is shifting an increasingly larger proportion of its holdings to long-term (but fully liquid) securities.

If Dediu’s Asymco isn’t on your daily-read list or in your RSS subscriptions, I highly recommend it. He’s been killing it. E.g., check out this comment he wrote yesterday, positing that today’s Android handsets are iPhone knock-offs, along the same lines as the various BlackBerry knock-offs that were popular a few years ago, like the Samsung Blackjack, Motorola Q, and HTC Dash.

Unboxing Field Notes County Fair Box Set 

Just got mine the other day. Lovely.

Hello? 

Erica Ogg, reporting for CNet, under the headline “iPhone Jailbreak Could Double as Security Hole”:

The jailbreak for the iPhone released over the weekend may have exposed a flaw in the iPhone’s mobile Safari browser.

There is no question about it — no “may”, no “could”. This is a massive security exploit, and it is in the wild.

Capo 2.0 

How can you not love an app whose slogan is “Reverse engineering rock and roll”?

Boy Genius on the BlackBerry Torch 9800 

Good hardware build quality, clunky software, and a lame screen.

Update: And here’s Michael Gartenberg’s first take.

RIM’s New BlackBerry Torch 

A touchscreen and a slide-out hardware keyboard, and a 360 × 480 display straight out of 2007.

New Yorker Cartoons Captioned With Kanye West Tweets 

I suppose it helps if you’re familiar with Kanye’s tweets, but some of these are sublime. (Via The AV Club.)

The Economist on the State of the Wintel Alliance 

Good overview of the current hurdles facing the industry’s two longest-standing titans. (They predict, matter-of-factly, that Ballmer will be “tossed out a window” if Microsoft doesn’t soon have a competitive footing in the tablet space.)

Mint-Condition Geniuses 

The Genius Bar at the new Walnut Street Apple Store in Philadelphia.

In case you missed it over the weekend, I took a few photos and a video at the opening of the new Apple Store on Walnut Street here in Philadelphia.

MisinformationWeek 

From page 3 of Eric Zeman’s comparison of the iPhone 4 and Droid X:

The iPhone 4 won’t support applications built in-house by businesses. All iPhone apps must be approved by Apple and are only distributed through the iPhone App Store. Enterprise app writers can develop for Android handsets, which support non-market applications to be installed. This gives the Droid X a slight advantage when it comes to apps.

Yes, if only the iPhone supported an enterprise development system that didn’t route through the App Store, that’d be a heck of a feature. I bet it’d be successful, too.

Update: The article has been corrected.

Global Smartphone Market Share 

Graphs and analyis by Horace Dediu, based on data from Canalys.

PDF Security Exploit Allows ‘JailbreakMe’ Website to Jailbreak iPhones and iPad Over the Web 

Jim Dalrymple:

Unlike some jailbreaking apps, JailbreakMe.com does not require a third-party app. All you have to do is visit the JailbreakMe.com on your iPhone and follow the onscreen instructions. When it’s done, your phone will be jailbroken.

Yikes. It’s odd how the press is mostly covering this as “jailbreaking now more convenient” rather than “remote code exploit now in the wild”.

Here’s an analysis by Ching-Lan Huang suggesting that it’s using a PDF heap overflow to execute code. But Huang is wrong — Apple has its own PDF rendering engine, it doesn’t use Adobe’s, and the heap overflow bug Huang points to is in the Acrobat PDF renderer. Charlie Miller says it’s exploiting a PDF font bug in Apple’s renderer, and says:

Starting to get a handle on jailbreakme.com exploit. Very beautiful work. Scary how it totally defeats Apple’s security architecture.

Chris Glass’s Photographs of Graceland 

Just great.

Halo 2600 

New Atari 2600 game by Ed Fries; here’s a great write-up on how and why he made it. (Via Andy Baio.)

Washington Post Co. Sells Newsweek to Sidney Harman for $1 

Less than the cost of a single newsstand issue. Of course, that’s because the magazine comes with $70 million in debt. (Harman is the co-founder of Harman Kardon.)

MGSplitViewController for iPad 

Offers more layout options than the system’s built-in iPad splitview controller — like showing the left-side source list as a real source list rather than a popover when in portrait orientation. (Apple’s WWDC 2010 app used this style of layout in portrait; the standard behavior is like Mail, where you can only get a popover in portrait.)

Using Blocks in iOS 4 

Mike Clark:

Simply put, blocks let you encapsulate chunks of code and pass them around like any other object.

‘You Understand? You Love Whiskey. It’s Suntory Time! OK?’ 

English translation of the Suntory whiskey commercial shoot in Lost in Translation.

Peter Belanger Shot the Macworld iPhone 4 Cover Photo Using an iPhone 4 

Not just using the iPhone 4 camera, but he also limited himself to photo editing software on the iPhone itself.

On Turning Windows Into an Optimal Touchscreen OS 

Microsoft tech evangelist Joey deVilla responds to criticism that Microsoft just isn’t committed to or doesn’t get the mobile touchscreen revolution. The really good stuff is in the comments, though, where Peter Bright — who wrote the “Ballmer still doesn’t get the iPad” piece for Ars Technica that at least partly prompted deVilla’s piece — writes:

I have heard it suggested that there is an effort to produce such a front-end, a “modern shell” (though I don’t really like calling it a “shell”, because a shell implies to me something that is rather thin; something that can be chipped away to reveal the interior. This is not possible on the iPhone, nor should it be on a Windows slate IMO), that would be a better model for touch devices. However, it is hard to be confident or excited about such a thing — if it even exists — when Microsoft is saying nothing about it.

Maybe Ballmer thinks Microsoft can get away with a thin touch UI “shell” because that’s how Windows itself started — as a thin GUI shell on top of DOS. The problem with that is that 2010 isn’t 1990. Times change.

Justin Williams on Pull-to-Refresh 

Justin Williams:

If pull-to-refresh stayed exclusive to Twitter for iPhone, I wouldn’t mind it as much, but like most popular things, my disdain grows as I see more poorly implemented or misguided variations of the feature.

The Great Game 

Nice piece by Tim Bray on the state of the mobile market:

This is the big league; bigger today than the computer industry ever was, and growing fast. This is as fierce a concentration of R&D heat and manufacturing virtuosity and distribution wizardry and marketing mojo as humanity has ever seen.

But who’s in the race? Bray argues that it’s down to Android and iOS:

Thus I think there’s a good chance that while Gruber’s right about the no-monopoly bit, he may be wrong about the several-times-20-40% bit, at least in the Net-phone market: for the next little while it’ll be two players, with market shares something like 80/20 or 60/40 or 50/50.

He may be right. I’m loath to write off BlackBerry though — I see too many of them in the wild. And here’s a story today in The Guardian arguing that BlackBerrys are the smartphone of choice for teenagers in the UK. I don’t think BlackBerry will ever catch Android and iOS in terms of web surfing and apps, but Android and iOS might never catch BlackBerry in terms of messaging. I’m also loath to write off Windows Phone 7. What if WP7 is a best-of-breed mobile gaming platform?

A great game, indeed.

What Happens to Market Share Numbers If You Count the iPad as a Portable Computer? 

Answer: Apple shoots from number seven to number three in worldwide portable computer sales. And the growth curve is even more striking.

And what’s the argument against counting the iPad as a portable computer? The average selling price is higher than most Windows laptops. “Netbooks” count. Is it because the iPad’s OS didn’t have a 1.0 in the 1980s?

Nielsen: Android Sales Overtake iPhone in the U.S. 

Talking points: Tremendous growth for Android; Android (27%) and iPhone (23%) still trail BlackBerry (33%); but RIM’s in trouble, because most Android and iPhone owners like their phones and most BlackBerry owners are thinking about getting something else next time; the numbers only count phones, so the iPod Touch doesn’t count; the numbers are only for the U.S.

And, a question: How much of Android’s U.S. success is attributable to Verizon’s strength as the number one U.S. carrier? I.e., how different would these numbers look in an alternate universe where Verizon, not AT&T, is the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. carrier?

English Swear Words for Koreans 

Perhaps I have a future teaching English as a second language. (Via Mike Davidson.)

Ballmer: ‘The Operating System Is Called Windows’ 

Ballmer tells analysts that Microsoft’s answer to the iPad is Windows 7 running on tablets (or, in his parlance, slates). On its face, if he means this in the obvious way, their efforts are doomed. The iPad would not be a phenomenon if it ran Mac OS X — and Mac OS X is better-suited than Windows for this sort of thing.

Keep in mind, though, that Microsoft is willing to call anything “Windows” if it’s a computer OS. Exhibit A: Windows Phone 7, which, as I’ve pointed out before, offers a UI that doesn’t even involve lowercase-w windows.

But if they do have a plan for an iPad competitor that isn’t Windows 7, what is it? iOS scaled up to fill the iPad’s bigger screen. Windows Phone 7’s Metro UI, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would work at all on a larger display. Maybe it will, though?

(I’m not so sure how well Android is going to scale to fill 9-inch displays, either. The only other mobile OS that seems conceptually ready-to-go as a tablet OS is WebOS.)

Saudi Arabia and UAE to Block BlackBerry Messaging, Because They Can’t Snoop on It 

The AP:

The UAE said Sunday it will block key features on BlackBerry smart phones, citing national security concerns because the devices operate beyond the government’s ability to monitor their use. Officials in neighboring Saudi Arabia indicated it planned to follow suit.

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