Linked List: February 2010

Merlin Mann on The Atlantic’s Dropping of Full-Content RSS Feeds 

Merlin Mann:

This reeks of the same bush-league decision-making that hobbled Hulu, gets music fans sued, and keeps high-quality content locked in a tower like an aging virgin — too special to be manhandled by the riff-raff who are reluctant to pony up the lavish dowry that was the fashion fifty years earlier.

The good news: it’s a bug in The Atlantic’s updated CMS — full-content feeds are coming back. But so while Merlin’s arguments don’t apply to The Atlantic in particular, they stand as a fine essay on the turning point traditional paper-and-ink publications are facing.

iPhone, Android, and WebOS Demographics Via AdMob Survey 

I question whether the survey group is representative of the platforms as a whole, but some of the numbers are striking. Android skews heavily male, for one thing. But by far the most striking stat in these results is the number for 17-and-under users:

  • iPhone: 13%
  • iPod Touch: 65%
  • Android: 7%
  • WebOS: 2%

For the phones, 17-or-younger is the smallest demographic. For the iPod Touch, on the other hand, it is by far the largest. More evidence that the iPod Touch is the strongest competitive asset for iPhone OS.

Deep Insight Into Apple From Morgan Stanley Analyst Kathryn Huberty 

Thank goodness AppleInsider is here to bring me wisdom such as this, from analyst Kathryn Huberty:

“We expect Apple to launch new iPhones in June that offer both a lower total cost of ownership and new functionality, potentially including gesture-based technology.”

Huberty, of course, is the analyst who 10 months ago set a target for Apple’s April 2010 stock price at $105. As of Friday, it was over $204. I’m sure investors who listened to her advice then have a certain gesture for her.

They’re All Out of You 

The Macalope:

So far, 2010 has been dominated by non-stop iPad speculation and Macworld Expo, but it’s time to get back to basics: jerks!

Brent Simmons on Switching Away From Core Data to Direct SQLite 

Brent Simmons:

This isn’t about being a hardcore low-level developer or some crap like that.

Good follow-up too.

Rivet 

My thanks to The Little App Factory for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Rivet. Rivet lets you stream your movies, photos, and music from your Mac to your Xbox 360 or PS3. It integrates with iTunes and iPhoto (and Aperture); changes and additions on your Mac are instantly visible on your console.

This week only, DF readers can save 25 percent with coupon code “DARINGFIRE2010”.

Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages 

An animated appraisal from Steven Heller.

‘Let It Beep’ 

Terrific interview with Jim Reekes, creator of the Mac startup sound. Starts out in Dutch, but the interview is in English. (Via Keith Lang.)

Update: One More Thing’s complete one-hour interview with Reekes is now on YouTube.

Mark Lamster on Las Vegas’s CityCenter 

I was there the week after Macworld Expo. Crystals (the high-end shopping mall) is a disaster inside; it feels like a maze. Aria is nice; its casino has an intriguing modern decor. Vdara seemed like a billion-dollar empty tower. CityCenter as a whole strikes me as a fundamentally bad idea — a massive complex in Vegas that doesn’t feel one bit like Vegas.

Lamster, attending the grand opening for architecture critics:

The absurdity of CityCenter’s urban gesture of separating its buildings now becomes apparent. The PR team has arranged for SUVs to take journalists from the Aria to the Mandarin Oriental for a cocktail party. The buildings are maybe 150 feet from each other.

(Via Kottke.)

Nexus One From an iPhone Developer’s Perspective 

Jeff LaMarche on the Nexus One:

To make matters worse, the sensors on the Nexus One for the four hardware buttons are not exactly aligned with the silkscreened icons. You have to tap noticeably above the button to get it to register. That was very frustrating for me until someone (from Google nonetheless) pointed out the mis-alignment. Up until then, I consistently had to hit the buttons three or four times to get it to register.

But even worse than that, the home button on the Nexus One is right below the fracking space bar on the portrait keyboard. Combine that with the not-completely-precise touch screen, and you have a UX disaster. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been typing and ended up leaving my application due to accidentally hitting the home button. Leaving an application mid-sentence is hardly a good user experience.

He’s got lots of other observations I agree with, but the above one is, without question, the biggest WTF on the Nexus One. It’s just bizarre.

Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein’s Letter to Employees 

He had me until the triple-bang to end the thing.

‘Mandrake, Have You Ever Seen a Commie Drink a Glass of Water? Vodka, That’s What They Drink. Never Water.’ 

Dr. Strangelove is out on Blu-ray and it’s magnificent. (Buy it from Amazon and I’ll get a kickback.)

Dan Frakes on Apple’s Shareholders Meeting 

Dan Frakes:

As usual, there were also a number of off-beat comments and questions, ranging from suggestions that Apple invest in Tesla Motors (Jobs: “We were thinking of a toga party, actually”) […]

‘Find My iPhone’ Rescues Two Stolen Phones at Busch Gardens 

Great story.

Inside Apple’s Shareholders Meeting 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, relaying information from unnamed attendees at today’s Apple shareholders meeting:

Another shareholder then asked a longwinded Q about what Apple/Jobs fears. “What keeps you awake at night?” … Jobs deadpans: “Shareholders meetings.” Audience erupts in laughter.

Tim Berners-Lee Rejects Adobe’s HTML5 Procedural Arguments 

Tim Berners-Lee:

I agree with the WG chairs that these items — data and canvas — are reasonable areas of work for the group. It is appropriate for the group to publish documents in this area.

FontShop Now Licensing Web Fonts 

Including great families like DIN and Meta. Even better, they work with Typekit for cross-browser compatibility and ease-of-use.

Sirius Posts Profit, Sees Big Subscriber Growth 

Reuters:

Sirius XM Radio Inc. posted its first quarterly profit since its merger and said it expected to add 500,000 new subscribers in 2010 as the recovery in the car market boosts demand for satellite radio.

Looks like they’re going to make it.

Dan Frommer Says Palm’s Decline ‘Shows That Apple Is Screwed Without Steve Jobs’ 

Obviously, this is the pessimistic take on the “What happens to Apple post-Jobs?” question:

Palm is basically Apple, Jr. And if a bunch of Apple geniuses can’t kick butt on their own at Palm, how are they going to kick butt without Steve at Apple?

He has a point, insofar as that Palm is staffed with many former Apple employees, and, in terms of design and feel and concept, WebOS is the most Apple-like, by far, of any other software platform in the world. But Frommer’s logical presumption that Palm’s former Apple employees are interchangeable with those who are at Apple today is headache-inducing.

Worse, with regard to mobile, today’s Palm — the Rubinstein-led, stocked with former Apple people, WebOS Palm — only came into existence after the iPhone debuted. For the sake of argument we can concede that the team at Palm today is just as talented as the team under Jobs at Apple and it still might not be enough to dig the new Palm out of the hole it started in.

As I stated in my talk at Macworld this month, what Apple will be like post-Jobs is simply unknowable.

About PeepCode’s Blog 

Pushing the limits of per-post art (and code) direction. Geoffrey Grosenbach explains in detail how it works.

Apple Posts Audio From Tim Cook’s Q&A Session at Goldman Sachs Conference 

Smart stuff. (Via MacDailyNews.)

Citibank Blocks Bank Account of Startup Fabulis, Citing ‘Objectionable Content’ on Company Weblog 

Very odd, since (a) there doesn’t seem to be anything even vaguely “objectionable” anywhere on the company’s weblog, and (b) even if there were, what business is it of Citibank’s?

Fabulis describes itself as a “network that connects gay men with amazing experiences down the block and around the world”.

Palm Slashes Guidance, Stock Tanks 

Not good.

Khoi Vinh and Nicholas Felton Comment on Their Layer Tennis Match Last Week 

“Exhibition” or not, this was a great match. I particularly loved the cohesive branding they established.

Motorola Droid Now Just $50 at Amazon 

Four months after debuting as the top-of-the-line Android handset, the Droid is now selling on Amazon for just $50 (with a Verizon contract). Still can’t upgrade it to Android OS 2.1, either. (Via Kontra.)

Ibis Reader 

Pure web app e-book reader for iPhone and Android. Install it on your iPhone home screen and it acts like a regular app, including the use of local storage for your saved books.

Apple May Be Adding ‘Explicit’ Section to App Store 

It’s not in the store yet, but there’s a new “Explicit” category in the form developers use when submitting apps.

Update: Oops, maybe not. Gizmodo is reporting that the “Explicit” category has been removed.

Flash Player 10.1 Battery Performance on the Android Nexus One 

The guys who made the video demonstration of the Flash Player 10.1 beta argue that battery performance isn’t a problem:

Our own tests show that video can be played for well over 3 hours over Wi-Fi from YouTube in H.264 (Baseline 1.2).

If you think that sounds good, note that the Nexus One is rated for 7 hours of video playback time.

HP’s Failure in Mobile Phones 

Ashlee Vance, reporting for the NYT on HP’s failure in the mobile market:

Sales of HP’s hand-held products, including its iPaq smartphone, dropped to $25 million in the quarter, down from $57 million in the same period last year. Apple, by contrast, had sales of $5.6 billion for iPhones and related products during its most recent quarter.

HP’s anemic performance in the smartphone market has left analysts perplexed.

There’s nothing perplexing about it. HP doesn’t have their own mobile OS. Instead they banked on Windows Mobile, and Windows Mobile stinks.

YouTube Version of Your Humble Narrator’s Macworld Feature Presentation 

Now that the whole thing has been posted to YouTube, you can watch from Flash-less devices such as your iPhone or Apple TV, or even sans Flash on your Mac if you’ve signed up for YouTube’s HTML5 beta.

SSDs and the MacBook Pro 

Check out the side-by-side comparison late in the video of the time it takes to launch 10 apps simultaneously from an SSD versus a traditional hard disk.

EU Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google  

You’ll never guess who’s leading the charges against them.

Mimeo and the Kleptopus King 

Shaun Inman’s upcoming iPhone platform game. You collect power-ups not to upgrade your character but to upgrade the world. Looks glorious.

Merlin Mann Interviews Clipstart Developer Manton Reece at Macworld 

Nice interview, and if you haven’t checked out Clipstart, you should. (Click the “Download MOV file” link to get a nice big H.264 version right in Safari.)

Tim Cook Q&A Session at Goldman Sachs Conference 

Paraphrased transcript from Dan Frommer:

We are the most focused company that I know of or have read of or have any knowledge of. We say no to good ideas every day. We say no to great ideas in order to keep the amount of things we focus on very small in number so that we can put enormous energy behind the ones we do choose. The table each of you are sitting at today, you could probably put every product on it that Apple makes, yet Apple’s revenue last year was $40 billion. I think any other company that could say that is an oil company.

If you want to understand Apple Inc., listen to Tim Cook.

Justin Van Genderen’s Minimalist Star Wars Tourism Posters 

So great.

‘Daisy Mae’ Game Pulled From the App Store; a Few Days Later, It’s Back In 

From the department of tags I never expected to create for DF posts: “Sexy Apps”.

Your Humble Narrator’s Presentation From Macworld 2010 

My list of the top ten issues facing Apple, presented at Macworld Expo earlier this month. Thanks to everyone who was there — it was a great audience.

Minimalist Movie Posters By Eduardo Pox 

Via Curved White.

Mike Chambers on Scrolling With Flash Content on Touch Devices 

More information from Mike Chambers on how the Flash Player plugin for Android works with regard to scrolling. The key is that you double-tap to zoom the Flash element to full screen.

The Coming Conservative Health Care Freakout 

Jonathan Chait:

You can imagine how this feels to conservatives. They’ve already run off the field, sprayed themselves with champagne and taunted the losing team’s fans. And now the other team is saying the game is still on and they have a good chance to win. There may be nothing wrong at all with the process, but it’s certainly going to feel like some kind of crime to the right-wing.

NYT: ‘Apple Purges Blue Apps From Online Store’ 

Phil Schiller comments to The New York Times’s Jenna Wortham regarding Apple’s recent decision to remove sexually titillating apps from the App Store. I like how The Times uses the adjective “blue”. (I also love how The New York Times has published an article mentioning an app named “Dirty Fingers”.) I used “porno” the other day, but that’s clearly not just what’s been removed. I think the best adjective to describe what’s no longer allowed is “sexy”. The problem, though (in addition to the fact that saying “sexy apps are not allowed” sounds silly), is this:

Indeed, a Sports Illustrated application tied to its annual swimsuit issue was still available for download on Monday, as was one from Playboy.

When asked about the Sports Illustrated app, Mr. Schiller said Apple took the source and intent of an app into consideration. “The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format,” he said.

I don’t see how it’s anything other than hypocrisy to say that Time Warner can have an app showing swimsuit models and others cannot. I totally understand Apple’s desire to keep the App Store free of flat-out or even borderline pornography. I do not think it’s wise to remove/ban R-rated content, though — isn’t that exactly what the 17+ rating is for?

But to allow Sports Illustrated and Playboy to publish it and others not? That’s bullshit.

Demo Video Showing Flash Player 10.1 on Google Nexus One 

Frame rates seem good. But it seems like the battery drains noticeably over the course of 6 or 7 minutes. It looks to me like it drops from about 50 to 25 percent in just 8 minutes.

By the way, my big question about Flash Player for Android is whether Google has any plans to include it with the system by default, and if not, which (if any) handset makers do.

How John Dowdell Wants Apple to Talk 

Here’s how John Dowdell of Adobe “would prefer Apple communicate”:

Get your CEO to either talk, or not. Put some skin in the game, put your rep on the line with attributed statements. The lack of confirmation, denial, or clarification from Apple PR about rumored quotes from The Great Man is telling.

What a great idea. Respond to every rumored quote attributed to Steve Jobs with a confirmation, denial, or clarification. I’m sure Apple will get right on that.

Flash Player Content, Mouse Events, and Touch Input 

Mike Chambers, responding to this piece at Roughly Drafted, shows that the only mouse events Flash Player doesn’t have on touchscreens are those for right and middle buttons, and scroll wheels. Hover and mousemove events do work. The problem, though, for a hypothetical Flash plugin that renders pages within web pages (as on traditional desktop browsers), is how to tell whether a tap-and-drag within a Flash element is supposed to scroll the entire web page or be passed as a mouse movement event to the Flash element. It can’t do both, and it can’t read the user’s mind. (You can see these problems with straight HTML in MobileSafari today — it’s cumbersome to scroll a <textarea> field within a web page because a single finger tap-and-drag within the <textarea> control still scrolls the entire page, not the text content inside the control.) This is one reason why, when you play a movie embedded in a web page on MobileSafari, it always switches you to a full-screen movie player view. Perhaps you could do that with a mobile browser Flash plugin, but except for Flash content that was designed to fit on a small screen, how do you allow the user to both scroll/pan the content and pass mousemove and hover events to the underlying content? I’m interested to see how the upcoming Android Flash Player solves this.

It’s not so much that you can’t use mouse-centric UIs on a touchscreen, but that they’re inherently awkward.

Flash, Google, VP8, and the Future of Internet Video 

Jason Garrett-Glaser, currently lead developer of x264, on the state of Internet video. Thoughtful, detailed, insightful analysis.

Ngmoco Buys Freeverse 

Freeverse is a long-standing Mac developer and publisher.

Filed Away for Future Claim Chowder 

Peter Ha, writing for Time:

But it’s a brand-new decade, and Microsoft is about to leapfrog Apple — and every other player in the cell-phone world — with the launch of Windows Phone 7 (WP7).

Jackass of the Week: Scott Moritz 

Scott Moritz, last month, reported that the iPhone was going to Verizon this summer. He also reported, in an “exclusive”, that the iPad would debut on Verizon. Now, rather than admit to being wrong, he’s framing it as Apple having delayed it for another year. (Via MacJournals.)

Total Tweets Per Day 

Especially remarkable considering how much more reliable Twitter has been for the last year or so.

Correction of the Week 

Appended to the bottom of this item by the NYT’s Dave Itzkoff, regarding David Remnick’s upcoming biography of Barack Obama:

An earlier version of this post misquoted Mr. Remnick on his comparison between the book and a New Yorker article he had previously written. He said the book would not be a “pumped up” version of the article; he did not say that it would not be a “pimped out” version of the article.

(Via David Kurtz.)

Free Software Foundation’s Open Letter to Google Regarding VP8 

Free Software Foundation to Google:

With your purchase of On2, you now own both the world’s largest video site (YouTube) and all the patents behind a new high performance video codec — VP8. Just think what you can achieve by releasing the VP8 codec under an irrevocable royalty-free license and pushing it out to users on YouTube? You can end the web’s dependence on patent-encumbered video formats and proprietary software (Flash).

There’s a chicken-and-egg problem with regard to client-side support for VP8, but that can be solved over time. (Hardware decoding chips, in particular. The reason H.264 playback is so smooth and uses so little power on mobile gadgets like iPhones is because of dedicated hardware.) Google hasn’t said what they want with On2 and VP8, but it doesn’t seem silly at all to think that they’d want to establish it as a truly free and unencumbered video standard.

Gregg Keizer on Randall Kennedy 

Kennedy flat-out lied about his dual-identity as late as Friday. Keizer:

But on Friday, after I confronted Barth with evidence that linked him to Kennedy — I didn’t yet know they were one and the same — he assured me that although the two had worked together in the past, and in fact, now worked together at Devil Mountain, any allegations that he and Kennedy were the same person were ridiculous.

Paul Thurrott on Randall Kennedy 

Paul Thurrott:

But what makes this delicious is that the “source” for this information was egotistical evil maniac Randall Kennedy, and I want to be clear about this description here, because calling him this makes other egoists, evil people, and maniacs look bad by comparison. Put simply, Kennedy is one of the craziest guys I’ve ever met and I state that with no sense of humor at all; the guy is nuts. Like actually crazy.

Randall Kennedy, Unapologetic, Claims Microsoft Ordered ‘Hit Piece’ Against Him and That InfoWorld Knew What Was Going On 

Kennedy has posted several comments on the ZDNet exposé, including this one:

Would you people please get down off your high horses, remove your blinders and realize this was a “hit piece” order [sic] by MS?

(I’m always wary of believing that commenters really are who they claim to be, so I’m hoping that ZDNet has verified that the comments in this thread from “Randall C. Kennedy” truly are from him.) More damning for InfoWorld is this one, however:

1. IDG knew. Galen Gruman, Executive Editor of InfoWorld knew. As did Eric Knorr. And several others. But poor Gregg Keizer — hey, the man was looking for an anti-Microsoft angle at every turn, and he let his zeal get the best of him. I honestly never meant any harm, especially to Gregg.

2. InfoWorld didn’t let me go. I resigned. In fact, up until Saturday afternoon they were still trying to salvage the situation. They didn’t want to lose 2+ million page views per year, which is what the shock jock persona they developed for me delivered.

Take all of his claims, including his accusations of IDG’s complicity, with a large grain of salt — quite obviously Kennedy’s word isn’t exactly good. (Gregg Keizer is the Computerworld reporter who frequently cited Kennedy’s alter ego “Craig Barth” as an expert source on Windows performance issues.)

Last, Kennedy claims to be semi-retired at the age of 40 and living on Mauritius, a tropical island in the Indian Ocean, famous as the only known home of the dodo.

InfoWorld Fires Randall C. Kennedy 

Eric Knorr, InfoWorld:

Integrity and honesty are core to InfoWorld’s mission of service to IT professionals, and we view Kennedy’s actions as a serious breach of trust. As a result, he will no longer be a contributor to InfoWorld, and we have removed his blog from this site.

A few of Kennedy’s recent greatest hits that DF readers may enjoy:

Going to be hard for InfoWorld to fill his shoes.

Rob Griffiths Leaving Mac OS X Hints 

Griffiths founded the site in 2000 and sold it to Macworld five years ago, but he’s remained the editor. It’s simply a great site. It’s amazing how many Google searches for how to do something on the Mac lead to a Mac OS X Hints entry with the answer.

He’s leaving to join Peter Maurer’s software company, Many Tricks.

The Bizarre Saga of InfoWorld Writer Randall Kennedy and Devil Mountain Software  

Good investigative reporting by Larry Dignan and ZDNet.

Core Animation and Flash Player 

Adobe engineer Tinic Uro on the performance improvements in the forthcoming Core Animation-capable Flash Player 10.1 for Mac OS X.

In his browser comparison matrices, Uro only mentions Safari (which gets the Core Animation support in Flash), Firefox (which gets Quartz 2D), and Opera (which is still getting QuickDraw). But in the comments he states that Chrome (which is already far more popular than Opera on Mac OS X) doesn’t yet support Core Animation.

Flex 4 List Scrolling on Android With Flash Player 10.1 

“It’s a little slow… but we haven’t really optimized this yet for this sort of thing.”

Google Deprecating Gears in Favor of HTML5 

Ian Fette, of Google’s Gears team:

If you’ve wondered why there haven’t been many Gears releases or posts on the Gears blog lately, it’s because we’ve shifted our effort towards bringing all of the Gears capabilities into web standards like HTML5.

ShrinkIt 1.1 

Free utility from Panic; losslessly shrinks PDFs by running them through Mac OS X’s built-in PDF engine. See Dan Frakes’s review at Macworld — which review, Cabel Sasser notes, is 17 words longer than the source code to ShrinkIt itself. Note that ShrinkIt wasn’t designed for typical (for users) PDFs-as-documents, but rather for PDFs-as-vector-images; in Panic’s case, for resolution-independent user interface elements.

The Chess Master and the Computer 

Garry Kasparov:

What if instead of human versus machine we played as partners? My brainchild saw the light of day in a match in 1998 in León, Spain, and we called it “Advanced Chess.” Each player had a PC at hand running the chess software of his choice during the game. The idea was to create the highest level of chess ever played, a synthesis of the best of man and machine.

Devin Coldewey, Jackass 

Devin Coldewey:

Now here we have Steve Jobs saying in a WSJ interview that using Flash for video would reduce battery life from 10 hours to 1 hour, and suggests H.264 as an alternative.

Where by “WSJ interview” Coldewey means “anonymous paraphrased summary at Gawker of Jobs’s remarks from a private meeting with WSJ staff”. The remarks as reported by Gawker may well be accurate (and they ring true, mostly, to my ears), but to call this a “WSJ interview” is curious.

They’ve got a grudge against Flash and Adobe and they’re going to pursue that to the bitter end. They could call up Adobe and say “Hey guys, Flash is blowing it in our OS, why don’t we get a few guys together and work it out?” But they won’t. They’d rather they had an excuse for railing at it and excluding it from the table. Flash is getting punched in the breadbasket here for no reason other than that Apple doesn’t want to play nice.

Couple of things are wrong here. For one thing, I know for a fact that Apple’s WebKit team does work with Adobe’s Flash Player team. Reports indicate that the upcoming Flash Player 10.1 will perform significantly better on Mac OS X than before.

But “better” does not necessarily mean “good enough”. And “good enough” on multicore 2.5 GHz Core 2 Duo CPUs is a far cry from “good enough” on mobile 1 GHz ARM CPUs. Flash has always sucked performance-wise on Macs. It sucked on Mac OS 9 and has always sucked on Mac OS X. At one point Adobe even let the version of Flash Player for Mac OS lag behind the current version for Windows. (Update: I recall the aforestruck sentence being the case, but can’t find a source to verify it.) Adobe (and before their 2005 acquisition, Macromedia) has had over a decade of chances to show that they’re committed to making Flash Player sing on Apple’s OSes, and they haven’t done it.

And let’s just wait and see how well Flash Player actually runs on Android and WebOS and whatever other mobile platforms where it’s supposedly coming soon.

Kubrick and Clarke’s ‘Newspad’ 

From Arthur C. Clarke’s novel of 2001: A Space Odyssey:

When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers.… Switching to the display unit’s short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him.… The postage-stamp-sized rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination.

MemoryMiner 

My thanks to GroupSmarts for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote MemoryMiner. MemoryMiner is a “digital storytelling” app for the Mac; it lets you link your photos to the people, places, and events in your life. MemoryMiner starts with photos, but it’s a storytelling tool more than anything else. The demo screencast on the web site is a great overview of how it works, and MemoryMiner developer John Fox gave a great presentation at the Los Angeles Idea Project that explains more.

Try the demo version for free, and save 20 percent when you purchase MemoryMiner using the coupon code “daring”.

Apple Removing Porno Apps From App Store 

Not sure exactly what Apple’s new policy now bans, but apparently sexually-explicit apps are no longer allowed. The developer of “Hooters Calendar Girls Crazy Eights” forwarded me an email from Apple with the same language as the one forwarded to TechCrunch by the developer of “Wobble iBoobs”.

Layer Tennis: Khoi Vinh vs. Nicholas Felton 

Speaking of Photoshop’s 20th anniversary, there’s a Layer Tennis exhibition match going on right now, with commentary from Photoshop product manager John Nack.

20 Years of Adobe Photoshop 

Angela West:

They called on Supermac and Aldus, but were turned away at both, a move that Aldus would come to seriously regret.

Shortly after, the Knoll brothers struck gold when they won over Adobe management with their product, and formed a licensing partnership with Adobe that was to launch their software and Adobe into the stratosphere.

Hulu May Come to iPad as Paid Subscription Service 

Peter Kafka:

Hulu and its owners, three of the big broadcast TV networks, want to bring some version of the Web video service to Apple’s device. But the most likely scenario is one in which access to Hulu on the iPad comes as part of a subscription package, multiple people familiar with the company tell me.

A paid service could work and could be successful, but it’d have to offer more than the free web version. It’s not going to fly if the iPad version offers the exact same content as the Flash version except you have to pay for it.

And if Hulu decides to define the iPad as a mobile device, it would also need its content owners to grant it mobile rights, which it doesn’t actually have. Again, doable. But the broadcasters are already making money from other mobile services, like Verizon’s V Cast. So they have to tread carefully.

This sort of nonsense gets to the bottom of what’s wrong with these entertainment executives’ outlook on the world. They want to define everything by arbitrary device types — this is a “TV”, that is a “computer”, this other thing is a “mobile device” — and then sell/distribute the same content to different device types separately and with no spillage. But it’s all bullshit in the digital world. It’s all just ones and zeroes and pixels. To these TV executives it makes sense to block Boxee from supporting Hulu because Boxee is for “TVs” and Hulu is only intended for “computers”. Now they’re stuck trying to figure out which arbitrary slot the iPad fits into.

Aaron Swartz on Google’s Method of Testing 

Aaron Swartz:

So it seems totally reasonable to imagine them releasing something without heavily testing it; their whole culture is based around testing things in the wild.

Good point, but I’d replace “totally reasonable” with “unsurprising”.

Harry McCracken on Scott Moritz 

Harry McCracken:

Anyone want to explain why Moritz keeps relaying Kumar’s rumors as “exclusive” facts – and why TheStreet lets him do so?

Easy: because Moritz is an unscrupulous hack and TheStreet.com is a rag.

Roger Ebert on His Profile in Esquire 

Ebert:

I was a little surprised at the detail the article went into about the nature and extent of my wounds and the realities of my appearance, but what the hell. It was true. I didn’t need polite fictions.

Chris Jones’s profile captured what I’ve been thinking for the last year or so: that Ebert has become a far better writer now than he was before. And that’s saying something, because he’s always been a terrific writer.

The Mariana Trench to Scale 

Spooky.

Intellectual Ventures Uses Over 1,000 Shell Companies to Hide Patent Shakedowns 

Techdirt:

The NY Times is now running yet another profile (they do this every two years or so) of Myhrvold and Intellectual Ventures that covers the usual bogus claims by Myhrvold about how he’s creating “invention capital,” with very little skepticism. However, it does reveal one interesting tidbit that we had missed. Last year, a research firm released a report highlighting that Intellectual Ventures has up to 1,110 shell companies, with which it can hide its activities. No wonder IV can pretend it doesn’t sue anyone. It can simply hide behind its shell companies.

I like how the Times story (by Steve Lohr) starts the second paragraph like this:

Admirers of Mr. Myhrvold, the scientist who led Microsoft’s technology development in the 1990s, see an innovator seeking to elevate the economic role and financial rewards for inventors whose patented ideas are often used without compensation by big technology companies.

But then never goes on to actually name any of these “admirers of Mr. Myhrvold”. Who admires this guy?

Andy Baio Interviews Ted Rall 

Rall is financing a trip to Afghanistan using Kickstarter.

Microsoft Renames Windows Mobile 6.5 ‘Windows Phone Classic’ 

They’re no longer in denial.

Roger Ebert: The Essential Man 

Excellent profile in Esquire by Chris Jones.

Dan Frakes on Whether Apple Will Approve Opera Mini for iPhone 

Judging from the description, it doesn’t sound like it violates any of the rules, so I think it’ll be accepted.

Matt Gemmell on How to Compete With iPad 

Matt Gemmell:

It’s difficult to get our heads around the fact that these non-technologically-savvy users can suddenly constitute a core market for a device, yet that’s the case here. Nintendo saw it, and Apple sees it too. It’s an uncomfortable realisation since these people are so unfamiliar to people like you, as hardware manufacturers, and me as a software engineer. This discomfort leads to a kind of understandable blindness, and more importantly can make us leave money on the table. The relative sales and demand figures for Wii vs PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 over the last several Christmases are indicative of that.

Tim Bray on the Style of the HTML5 Spec 

Delightfully wonkish.

Earth: 6.8 Billion People, 5 Billion Cell Phone Subscriptions  

And just under 1 billion with Internet access on their phones.

Jim Ray on the WebKit Mobile Browser Monoculture 

Jim Ray:

More importantly, though, with something like browser rendering engines, I’m philosophically opposed to a monoculture.

First, I was observing more than celebrating. (But if any one rendering engine had to win the whole mobile shebang, I’m delighted it’s WebKit. But I’d love to see Mozilla get its mobile balls on.) But, bigger point: if any individual WebKit platform vendor disagrees with the direction of the mainline WebKit trunk, or simply thinks they can do better, they can do so. Real open source.

And:

For one, replace “WebKit” with “Flash” and suddenly the iPhone is the holdout.

Really? Every WebOS, BlackBerry, and Android phone today ships with Flash? I didn’t know that. (Not to mention Windows Phone 7, which isn’t shipping until “holidays 2010”, and which apparently isn’t going to ship with Flash.)

Windows Mobile 7 and Copy-and-Paste 

Greg Kumparek:

As far as I could tell, there is currently no copy/paste functionality. We were told that “developers will hear more about that” at Microsoft’s MIX conference next month, though it was implied that it would be about why copy and paste “won’t be necessary” rather than when it was coming.

How 2007.

Kontra on Google Buzz 

Kontra:

Google is a $170 billion company. It employs thousands of engineers and developers. It tests, tests, tests, and tests more. In fact, its “designers” once unable to pick a shade of blue tested 41 variations of it. It’s ludicrous to think that the Buzz fiasco was simply a result of under-testing.

Simon Willison’s Questions About the ‘Blocking’ of HTML5 

Good questions, and some informative comments.

A Conversation Dan Wineman Has Every Month or So 

Me too.

‘We’re the Stupid Ones’ 

Ed Finkler:

When folks need an elevator, we should give them an elevator, not an airplane. We’ve been giving them airplanes for 30 years, and then laughing at them for being too stupid to fly them right.

Information Resolution on the Windows Phone 7 Series 

Luke Wroblewski compares the Windows Mobile 7 photos and app store apps to their iPhone counterparts.

Tonio Loewald on Adobe and HTML5 

Tonio Loewald:

This is procedural bullshit, plain and simple.

I know Adobe claims they’re not “blocking” anything related to HTML5, and many of you are taking them at their word on this. I hope you’re right. But they are undeniably doing something behind the scenes with, as Loewald eloquently boils it down, W3C procedural bullshit. Adobe can call it “seeking clarification” or whatever they want. I say it’s obstruction.

I think they’re trying to get the W3C to agree that 2D canvas is not part of “HTML5” proper as a first step.

RIM Previews WebKit Browser for BlackBerrys 

Every major mobile platform is now either using WebKit or will be soon. Except for one.

Gawker Reports on NYT Turf Battle Over iPad App Pricing  

I love the New York Times, and the iPad app demo they gave last month looked great, but $360 a year is insane. It’s a simple choice between playing for the (digital) future and temporarily propping up the (print) past.

Report Claims Malicious PDF Files Comprised 80 Percent of All Exploits for 2009 

At least it wasn’t Flash.

Josh Topolsky’s Windows Mobile 7 Impressions 

Josh Topolsky:

The design and layout of 7 Series’ UI (internally called Metro) is really quite original, utilizing what one of the designers (Albert Shum, formerly of Nike) calls an “authentically digital” and “chromeless” experience. What does that mean? Well we can tell you what it doesn’t mean — no shaded icons, no faux 3D or drop shadows, no busy backgrounds (no backgrounds at all), and very little visual flair besides clean typography and transition animations. The whole look is strangely reminiscent of a terminal display (maybe Microsoft is recalling its DOS roots here) — almost Tron-like in its primary color simplicity. To us, it’s rather exciting. This OS looks nothing like anything else on the market, and we think that’s to its advantage.

Certainly interesting and original. My first impression, though, is that if nothing looks like a button, and tappable text looks like non-tappable text, how do you know what you can tap?

Matt Buchanan on Windows Mobile 7 

Matt Buchanan:

Every phone will have a Bing (search) button and a Start button. Custom skins, like the minor miracles HTC worked, are now banned. The message to hardware makers is clear: It’s a Windows Phone , you’re just putting it together. Basically, phonemakers get to decide the shape of the phone, and whether or not there’s a keyboard.

Microsoft’s dilemma by not building their own phones: they’re acknowledging that hardware matters, but if hardware matters, what’s the motivation for handset makers to excel if there’s nothing they can do to stand apart from others except for lowering their price? Microsoft’s message to handset makers is, more or less, “You’re going to do what we tell you to do and we’re going to take all the credit.” Very different from Android. Maybe that’s what these handset makers want, though.

One other word on hardware, in a manner of speaking. Hardware it won’t work with? Macs. Which is kind of stupid to us — a lot of the people Microsoft wants to use Windows Phone 7, like college students, have been going Mac in droves. You wanna lure them back Microsoft? Let them use your phone with any OS.

I think Microsoft has its fingers in its ears and is doing the na-na, can’t hear you thing regarding Mac market share (and demographics).

Yes, the browser is Internet Exploder. And yes, the rumor’s true: It won’t be as fast as Mobile Safari. Not to start.

“Not to start”, eh?

History is on Microsoft’s side here—we know what happened the last time Apple had a massive head start.

Not to be a smug dick here, but wasn’t the last time Apple had a massive head start over Microsoft the iPod? Speaking of which, no word on whether Windows Mobile 7 phones will support PlaysForSure.

NYT: Steve Jobs Cooperating on Biography by Walter Isaacson 

Brad Stone, reporting for the NYT:

Apple’s chief executive is set to collaborate on an authorized biography, to be written by Walter Isaacson, the former managing editor of Time magazine, according to two people briefed on the project.

Windows Phone 7 Series 

What a great product name. Not a mouthful at all.

Homebrew App for the Palm Pre Reboots Your Phone on a Schedule 

Steven Frank:

This is such a perfectly encapsulated nutshell of exactly why Apple does not allow third-party background processes on the iPhone.

Lessons From Hewlett-Packard’s Massive Job Cuts 

Chris O’Brien:

This column began when I tried to find the answer to what I thought would be a simple question: How many job cuts has Hewlett-Packard had over the past decade?

The answer shocked me: 75,505.

That includes people who were fired or took early retirement. Despite the cuts, HP’s workforce has tripled in size as the company hired people in new areas and bought companies such as Compaq and EDS.

The Wholesale Applications Community 

Jason Kincaid nails it: “write once, run everywhere” has never worked out. It’s a pipe dream. More laughably, this initiative comes from mobile carriers, not OS vendors. It’ll never pan out.

The Widening HTML5 Chasm 

Simon St. Laurent on the process forging HTML5:

HTML5 will be damaged, its credibility weakened, but will still be important, one way or another.

Yeah, I sure wish HTML5 were going more like, say, the W3C’s XHTML 2.0 spec. That worked out great.

Update: Mark Pilgrim says to look at primary sources.

Ian Hickson on Adobe and HTML5 

Ian Hickson:

Since I was mistaken about the formal objection, should I prepare the drafts for FPWD publication now? What date should I use?

Either this was all a major mistake and misunderstanding, or Hickson is calling Adobe’s bluff.

Adobe Claims Not to Be Blocking Anything Related to HTML5 

Adobe’s Larry Masinter, in a comment on 9 to 5 Mac:

No part of HTML5 is, or was ever, “blocked” in the W3C HTML Working Group — not HTML5, not Canvas 2D Graphics, not Microdata, not Video — not by me, not by Adobe.

Neither Adobe nor I oppose, are fighting, are trying to stop, slow down, hinder, oppose, or harm HTML5, Canvas 2D Graphics, Microdata, video in HTML, or any of the other significant features in HTML5.

Claims otherwise are false. Any other disclaimers needed?

Great news.

Adobe Puts Secret Hold on HTML5 Spec  

In public, Adobe claims to “support” HTML5. On the private W3C mailing list, though, they’ve placed an objection to prevent the current spec from being published. My understanding is that Adobe is trying to block the API spec for the canvas element. The canvas element hasn’t gotten as much attention as the video element, but clearly, 2D graphics in canvas is competitive with Flash, and it appears that Adobe’s plan is to sabotage it via W3C politics.

Google Buzz a Privacy Disaster 

Seems like a terrible mistake to glom a public broadcasting feature onto a private email system.

Sourcebits 

My thanks to Sourcebits for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Sourcebits is a contract developer specializing in iPhone, mobile, Mac, and Web software. Their iPhone apps have been downloaded over 4.5 million times from the App Store, and they have a growing list of Android and BlackBerry apps, too. If you’re looking for software development services, check out Sourcebits’s web site for examples of their work, and contact them for a quote.

‘Facebook Login’ 

Fascinating. ReadWriteWeb has a weblog post that ranks highly in Google’s search results for “Facebook login”. The comments on the post are filled with complaints from confused people who think that this is the new Facebook login page.

It’s funny, yes, but it’s a fascinating glimpse at just how confused many people are about how web sites and browsers work. They don’t use bookmarks, they don’t type “facebook.com” in the location field. They just Google for whatever they’re looking for and assume the first result is correct. All this argument over whether the iPad is too simple — if anything it’s probably still too complex.

Meat Stylus for the iPhone 

Kottke:

Sales of CJ Corporation’s snack sausages are on the increase in South Korea because of the cold weather; they are useful as a meat stylus for those who don’t want to take off their gloves to use their iPhones.

iTunes 10 Billionth Song Countdown 

Interesting perspective: looks like they sell about 100 songs per second.

Introduction to Square 

Another little masterpiece from my friend Adam Lisagor.

SublimeVideo Now Supports Firefox 

Better and better.

New Beta of Google Chrome for Mac 

Now with support for extensions.

Kara Swisher on Microsoft’s Mobile Dilemma 

Kara Swisher on the dwindling enthusiasm for Windows Mobile:

Indeed, this is why Microsoft and its giant wallet might be better served by buying one of the big and more established telecom companies, such as Research in Motion, Palm or even — as another Microsoft exec said to me, “Why not?” — Nokia.

Nokia has a market cap of close to $50 billion, with RIM at close to $38 billion. And Palm? A paltry $1.74 billion. Microsoft’s current valuation is $246 billion, and the company has $40 billion in cash and marketable securities on hand. […] And, in fact, many sources at Microsoft have told me that CEO Steve Ballmer has expressed interest in buying RIM many times (while also dismissing any interest in Palm).

RIM seems like a natural fit, in terms of its customer base and the whole look and feel of BlackBerry software. Palm would be the bolder play.

Bill Hill on the iPad 

Bill Hill, formerly of Microsoft:

The trouble is trying to innovate at Microsoft, which is a company of geeks, run by geeks, and dominated by Windows.

When TabletPC began at Microsoft, it was a research effort - outside of the regular Windows organization. Once it was re-organized into Windows, that was the kiss of death. I never really thought much about this while I worked there, but it’s my belief that despite all the lip-service paid to end-users, the only Windows customers with any real power are the Windows Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

Creative Review on MTV’s Tweaked Logo 

Patrick Burgoyne:

After 29 years, MTV unveils a logo ‘refresh’ – like many of its viewers, the network has become a little wider and a little fatter.

Tputh 

New site for tech and design news. I dig it.

In Case You Had Any Doubts About Where Microsoft’s Profit Comes From 

Nice chart from Alley Insider, showing Microsoft’s operating profit by division.

I’m Too Late 

I missed this last month. Ends up a financial analyst last month really did issue a pre-preliminary estimate of how much it’s costing Apple to manufacture the iPad — three weeks before Apple announced it. (Via Louis Gerbarg.)

WSJ Op-Ed Piece by Holman W. Jenkins Jr. Argues Apple Is Getting All Microsofty 

Holman W. Jenkins Jr. on the iPad:

And what about Apple’s decision to exclude Flash? Apple and its supporters stake out aesthetic and philosophical grounds: Flash is buggy. Flash is a power hog. Flash is “proprietary” (horrors). Flash is used to create those annoying Web ads (never mind that advertising is what pays for most of the Web).

Uh huh. Flash would also allow iPhone and iPad users to consume video and other entertainment without going through iTunes. Flash would let users freely obtain the kinds of features they can only get now at the Apple App Store.

So his argument is that no matter how bad Flash is technically and experience-wise, Apple should add it to the iPad so people can watch Hulu. And that there’s no other way to obtain video for the iPad other than stuff you buy from iTunes. Jiminy. If only there were, say, a YouTube app included with the OS.

I suppose that if you really miss things like Hulu and animated web ads, it makes sense to argue that Apple should support Flash on iPhone OS no matter what. I honestly don’t see how anything regarding the iPad, the iTunes Store, or Apple’s policy toward Flash is in any way reminiscent of Microsoft, though. I’d say the iPad only serves to bring into relief just how different the two companies have become. Perhaps what Jenkins is getting at is Apple’s willingness to impose its will, to make decisions rather than offer choices.

iBooks Isn’t Bundled With iPad 

Apple didn’t emphasize this heavily at the introduction, but the iBooks app is not going to be bundled with the iPad — it’s an app you download from the App Store, putting it on an (at least somewhat) equal footing to e-book readers from other companies. From the “Features” page in Apple’s iPad web site:

The iBooks app is a great new way to read and buy books. Download the free app from the App Store and buy everything from classics to best sellers from the built-in iBookstore.

If you look at the photos of the iPad, the only bundled apps included with the system appear to be Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Maps, Videos, YouTube, iTunes, App Store, Settings, Safari, Mail, Photos, and iPod. Perhaps this will change if and when iBooks becomes available outside the U.S.

Update: Good point from a reader on Twitter: making iBooks an App Store download will allow Apple to update the app more frequently than if it were tied to OS updates.

Warner Retreats From Free Music Streaming 

Ian Youngs, reporting for BBC News:

Record label Warner Music has said it will stop licensing its songs to free music streaming services. Companies like Spotify, We7 and Last.fm give free, legal and instant access to millions of songs, funded by adverts.

Warner, one of the four major labels, whose artists include REM and Michael Buble, said such services were “clearly not positive for the industry”.

Update: Spotify, on Twitter, says Warner isn’t pulling out.

Paul Thurrott, Warming to iPad 

No sarcasm intended, I’m enjoying Thurrott’s perspective on the iPad. I found this perspective intriguing:

Further unclear is why we would want to learn yet another user interface. Phones, by nature, are simple to use and limited by onscreen real estate. Laptops, of course, offer more expansive screens and more powerful capabilities. But the iPad introduces yet another UI, one that is based on that of the iPhone, of course, but one that is different and more advanced (and complex). Not as advanced and complex as a PC, perhaps. But different from both the iPhone and laptop.

The starting point Thurrott is espousing here, more or less “Let’s start with something the user will already be familiar with” sounds good, and many times it is the right approach. That’s the consistency argument for Mac software being Mac-like, and Windows software being Windows-like. But if you shackle yourself to starting with something already familiar, then the state-of-the-art is never going to make a great leap forward. This sort of thinking is why Microsoft’s tablet computers all run Windows 7.

Clearly, the way Apple approached the iPad was that of course the iPad was going to introduce a new UI. They’re really rather fearless about it, because, I think, they’re so confident in its obviousness. Unfamiliar and new isn’t a problem if the whole thing is obvious and easy to figure out.

Joe Wilcox on Microsoft’s Glut of Middle Managers 

Insightful reporting based on interviews with current and former Microsoft employees:

“When I started at MSFT in 1996, there were six people between me and [Microsoft cofounder] Bill Gates,” Boris said. “In 2009, there were 13 people between me and [Microsoft CEO] Steve Ballmer.” Fred said, “the number of managers between me and the CEO went from six to 10,” during the last decade. Another long-time Microsoftie, whom I’ll call Barry, saw his reports go from six to 12.

Fascinating stuff, too, about the bizarre incentive structure for Microsoft employees. I think this gets to the nut of exactly what’s wrong with Microsoft. They’ve evolved a powerful, deep bureaucracy that has lost any sort of focus on creating great products. Worse, for obvious reasons Microsoft’s management is unlikely to see itself as the problem. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Google Announces Experimental Fiber Network 

Google:

We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Remember the Old Days, When iSuppli Would Actually Wait Until They Could Take a New Apple Device Apart Before Making Up a Ridiculously Lowball Estimate for How Much It Costs to Make? 

Arik Hesseldahl on a “preliminary estimate” of iPad component costs from iSuppli:

Research firms including iSuppli conduct so-called teardown analysis of consumer electronics to determine component prices and makers and estimate margins. Researchers at iSuppli didn’t have an actual iPad and instead relied on Apple’s public statements on its features.

The next step, I guess, is issuing “pre-preliminary estimates” of component costs for products that haven’t even yet been announced.

Opera Mini for iPhone to Be Previewed at Mobile Web Congress 

However, from the comments:

We have not submitted it yet to the Apple App Store. However, we hope that Apple will not deny their users a choice in Web browsing experience.

There are plenty of third-party web browsers in the App Store. It’s just that the ones that are allowed are ones that use the system version of WebKit. See this piece I wrote back in November 2008 for more on Opera Mini, including why it might be a very cool app.

Adam Engst: Does the iPhone OS Need Multitasking? 

Better questions: when will iPhone OS support third-party multitasking, and in what form?

What’s New in Aperture 3 

Faces, places, and brushes.

ComScore Reports December 2009 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share 

Palm, RIM, Microsoft losing market share; Apple and Google gaining. (RIM has the most to lose, of course.)

BashFlash 

Nice complement to ClickToFlash — BashFlash monitors Snow Leopard’s Flash Player process and lets you kill it when it starts using excessive CPU time.

LESS CSS App for Mac OS X 

CSS nerds: have you checked out LESS? If so and you dig it, you might be interested in this.

Panelfly 

Gee, I wonder if e-comic-book distributors are excited about the iPad?

Wolf Rentzsch: MobileSafari Is Not the New IE6 

Wolf, responding to PPK’s argument that MobileSafari is the new IE6:

Mobile web developers, like most developers, are future-focused. We’d rather all mobile phones catch up with the iPhone we have in our pockets today, rather than bend over backwards to accommodate the current majority.

When Koch damns developers for professional hypocrisy and incompetence, I see a quiet revolution of mobile developers waiting for other phones to catch up to the iPhone.

Count me in with Wolf on this one.

An Even-Tempered Apology From White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel 

Apologies to the Hulu-less.

‘Who’s Scruffy-Looking?’ 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt on the highlights of this week’s Macworld Expo in San Francisco:

John Gruber. The ill-tempered author of the widely read Daring Fireball blog is flying from Philadelphia, presumably without his “What Are You Looking at Dicknose?” t-shirt, to discuss the “top 10 issues facing our world.” Friday 4:30 p.m. PT

First, “ill-tempered”? Second, everyone knows that shirt doesn’t have a question mark.

How the Letterman-Oprah-Leno Super Bowl Ad Came Together 

My favorite commercial of the night by far.

‘The Gadget Disappears’ 

Love this line from the New York Times’s David Carr on the Charlie Rose show, regarding the iPad:

One thing you have to understand about this gadget is that the gadget disappears pretty quickly. You’re looking into pure software.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Carr is a business reporter, not a tech reporter. He sees the forest, not the trees. But this is really astute. I’ve been using a Nexus One Android phone for the last few weeks, and Carr’s quote summarizes the fundamental difference between Android and iPhone OS. On the iPhone, once you’re in an app, everything happens on-screen, with touch. Everything. You go outside the screen to the home button to leave the app or the sleep button to turn off the device. On Android, many things happens on screen with touch, but many other things don’t, and you’re often leaving the screen for the hardware Back, Menu, and Home buttons, and text selection and editing requires the use of the fiddly trackball. An Android gadget never disappears.

Before You Place Your Bets on Retrevo 

Keep in mind that back in August, Retrevo released survey results showing that Apple’s MacBooks were getting killed by netbooks in the back-to-school market. That didn’t exactly pan out.

Retrevo: iPad Doubters 

Retrevo, which bills itself as “the ultimate electronics marketplace”, has been getting a lot of attention in recent months for its consumer surveys on Apple products, including this one from Friday:

As we like to say, it’s the apps that sell smartphones like the iPhone and it could very well be those same apps that motivate buyers to run down to the Apple Store and get in line to buy a shiny new iPad. Whether this device becomes a big hit is anyone’s guess but based on this study it sure looks doubtful.

So let’s mark them down as bearish on the iPad.

Let’s also keep in mind that Retrevo is the same outfit who, just three weeks ago, released survey results showing that the most important features in an (at the time, hypothetical) Apple tablet were “long battery life”, “3G”, and “an e-book store with big selection” — and that the main thing people did not want was a required monthly data plan. Oh, and the price needed to be under $700. Sounds like something familiar.

Saints Beat Colts 31-17 to Win New Orleans’s First Super Bowl 

A great win by a great team from a great city. Sports at its best.

Sketchpad 

Simple web-based painting/drawing app. No Flash.

Five Dials No. 10 (PDF) 

Special issue of Hamish Hamilton’s excellent literary magazine, “A celebration of the life of David Foster Wallace with contributions by Don DeLillo, Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, George Saunders and others.” Designed by our old friend Dean Allen. So good — do yourself a favor and print it out.

Liquid Scale: Content-Aware Image Resizing App for iPhone 

Remember this video from 2007, demonstrating a technique for content-aware image resizing that didn’t involve cropping or distorting the central elements of the image? Savoy Software’s Liquid Scale brings this technique to the iPhone. Pretty cool.

The Second Post 

Dan Phiffer’s second weblog post is about second weblog posts.

Radioshift 

Radioshift is a Mac app that acts like a DVR for Internet radio stations. My thanks to Rogue Amoeba for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote it. Radioshift has thousands of preset stations from around the world (including, for me, all my favorite stations here in Philadelphia) and a great interface, including the ability to schedule shows to be recorded automatically. Download it for free, and through the end of February, save 20 percent when you purchase using coupon code “DARINGRADIO”.

Plus, Rogue Amoeba is exhibiting at Macworld next week. See them at booth #1545.

Microsoft Joins SVG Working Group 

Bill Clinton was president of the United States when SVG started.

Greg Knauss: ‘The Days of Miracles and Wonder’ 

So good.

If Global Warming Is Real Then Why Is It Cold? 

Funny, never heard that one before.

How Long in the Works Was the iPad? 

Ken Segall:

My point is, Apple has always demonstrated tremendous common sense. It’s just hard to believe they’d choose the name iPhone OS if iPad was already on the drawing board. My inner Sherlock tells me iPad wasn’t even a twinkle in Apple’s eye until well after March, 2008.

There’s no argument about it that “iPhone OS” no longer makes sense as the name for this OS. The iPad HIG and developer documentation is chock full of features and APIs and guidelines that do not apply to the iPhone (or iPod Touch). So there are features in the iPhone OS which do not apply to the iPhone.

I still say the iPad has been in the works for a long time. Many, many years. Certainly not the iPad exactly as it was announced, but the general idea — the final design of an Apple product is the result of non-stop iteration. I could be wrong, and Apple, of course, isn’t going to say. But I’d say the awkwardness of the “iPhone OS” name is proof only that Apple picks names from the gut — names that feel right rather than think right. “iTunes” is exhibit A.

Clang Successfully Self-Hosts 

Doug Gregor of the LLVM project:

We built all of LLVM and Clang with Clang (over 550k lines of C++ code). The resulting binaries passed all of Clang and LLVM’s regression test suites, and the Clang-built Clang could then build all of LLVM and Clang again. The third-stage Clang was also fully-functional, completing the bootstrap.

Is there any other type of project that offers the same potential for recursive satisfaction as a compiler that can compile itself? It’s a singular milestone for LLVM.

Engadget Staff’s Initial Thoughts on the iPad 

Remarkably dismissive overall. Nilay Patel is the only one who sees the potential.

Sling and AT&T 

Chris Foresman:

AT&T made headlines Thursday by announcing that it had decided to allow SlingPlayer Mobile for iPhone to stream video from a Slingbox over its 3G network. AT&T’s CEO claimed in the announcement that Sling Media modified the app to be more efficient on its network, but Sling has responded, saying it didn’t have to change a thing.

Update: Foresman has updated his article; seems Sling did do some lab testing with AT&T to prove that the app behaved well.

Apple: Core Location Not for Use Solely for Serving Location-Targeted Ads 

Apple Developer Connection:

If you build your application with features based on a user’s location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.

Movist, Alternative Video Player to VLC for Mac 

Federico Viticci on Movist, an open source Mac video player:

Where Movist really outstands the competition is in file support. It’s the only app that played my .mkv files perfectly, even when VLC was crashing. Not to talk about .mp4 and .avi support, pretty obvious. Moreover, Movist plays .wmw files faster than Quicktime, and you can also switch from FFmpeg to Quicktime playback with a single click on a toolbar button. Awesome.

The Official Microsoft Blog Responds to Dick Brass’s NYT Op-Ed 

Why in the world did they respond to this? And even worse, without refuting any of his claims, most especially his core premise that Microsoft is divided into dozens of bureaucratic fiefdoms that fight against each other to protect their turf?

App Store Previews Now on the Web 

I’ve been waiting for this for so long — a way to link to App Store entries without requiring iTunes.

Jonathan Schwartz Tweets His Resignation in Haiku 

Ran Sun into ground.
Schwartz cracks cute with jokey tweet.
Ignominious.

AT&T Gives Green Light to Sling TV Over 3G 

Brad Stone:

AT&T announced Thursday morning that it will now allow the SlingPlayer iPhone app to stream live over its 3G network. “Since mid-December 2009, AT&T has been testing the app and has recently notified Sling Media — as well as Apple — that the optimized app can run on its 3G network,” said the carrier in a press release.

Comcast Rebranding as ‘Xfinity’ 

Bob Fernandez, reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Comcast Corp. said yesterday that it would re-brand its TV, Internet, and telephone services as Xfinity on Feb. 12 to signal to customers that this isn’t the same old company. […]

This re-branding comes as Comcast has struggled to rebuild its reputation because of poor service and problems with its network that resulted in telephone and Internet outages. Its customer-satisfaction rating is among the lowest in the industry, but it has improved slightly in the last year. Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury said the re-branding was not an attempt to distance the service from the Comcast name. “This is about our product. It is about providing our customers with products that just keep getting better.”

Many companies walk away from household name brands just for kicks. Sure.

James Kendrick Gets Poor Results From Palm Mobile Hotspot 

James Kendrick:

My findings are disappointing to say the least. I found that both the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus performed virtually identically in the testing, which was expected given the similarity of the phones. The problem is I could never get anything above abysmal bandwidth with either phone.

I hope it’s something Palm can fix in a software update. It’s a killer feature on paper.

‘They Want the Thing in the Movies’ 

Mike Monteiro gets it.

‘Microsoft’s Creative Destruction’ 

Former Microsoft vice president Dick Brass, on Microsoft’s internal culture:

Another example: When we were building the tablet PC in 2001, the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn’t like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed. To guarantee they were, he refused to modify the popular Office applications to work properly with the tablet. So if you wanted to enter a number into a spreadsheet or correct a word in an e-mail message, you had to write it in a special pop-up box, which then transferred the information to Office. Annoying, clumsy and slow.

Can you imagine the head of Apple’s iWork team declaring by fiat that there wouldn’t be versions of Keynote, Pages, and Numbers for the iPad because he didn’t like the concept?

Speaking of Gays in the Military 

Speaking of which, this piece from The Economist is delightful.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Tweets His Support for Repealing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Policy 

Is there a more iconic sign of the times?

Firefox for Maemo RC3 

Stuart Parmenter:

We’ve decided to disable plugin (not to be confused with add-ons, which are supported) support for this release.  The Adobe Flash plugin used on many sites degraded the performance of the browser to the point where it didn’t meet our standards.

Shut Up 

Steven Frank:

shutup.css is a custom user stylesheet that can be applied to your browser to hide comments on many popular web sites without user intervention.

H.264 to Remain Fee-Less for Free Internet Video Through 2016 

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 next License term from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2016.

Corporation Says It Will Run for Congress 

“Now that democracy is truly for sale, Murray Hill Incorporated is offering top dollar.”

More on iPad Widgets 

Dimitri Stancioff, speculating on iPad widgets last week:

Can you imagine a full-screen Weather app (in its current incarnation) running on the iPad? Or a full-screen clock or calculator? Weird, right? Of course, Apple wouldn’t do that. They would have to improve on those apps to make them do more to better take advantage of the large screen. But doing so would actually stray from the purpose of these utility apps by adding complexity where simplicity is desired. In short, most utility apps don’t have any need to be any larger than they are on the iPhone.

iPhones Vulnerable to Forged Signature Certificates 

Apple has a list of 224 root certificates that it trusts. As part of the attack, the anonymous researchers obtained a signature certificate from VeriSign for a company named Apple Computer. They backed the certificate up to disk, then used iPCU to create a mobileconfig file called “Security Update,” and attributed it to Apple Computer. They then exported it to disk without a signature as an XML file. They then signed the file and its CA trust chain and uploaded it to a Web server.

Opening the file with Safari on an iPhone results in the phone trusting the configuration file.

Charlie Miller verifies that it works, but also states it doesn’t lead to remote code execution. What popped out at me is that VeriSign issued a security certificate in the name of “Apple Computer” without, you know, verifying that it was Apple.

Softbank’s Net Profit Jumps 41 Percent on iPhone Sales 

Kenneth Maxwell, reporting for the WSJ:

“When we launched the iPhone [in the summer of 2008], some people said those phones were not suited for Japanese cellphone users,” said [CEO] Masayoshi Son at a news conference. Most Japanese cellphones are smaller and lighter than the Apple device.

“But those [skeptics] have been proven completely wrong … The iPhone is selling so well that we are really feeling the boost from it,” Mr. Son said. He declined to say how many iPhones Softbank had sold, but described the handset as “the biggest contributor to third-quarter handset sales,” and “a major contributor to growth in data communication revenue.”

And here’s Apple COO Tim Cook from last week’s 2010 Q1 conference call:

In Japan what is going on there is the iPhone has been a runaway hit. The iPhone was up over 400% year-over-year during the quarter. So that is what is driving the huge revenue growth you see in Japan.

The Lost iPad Icon 

Charles Ying reminds us that Apple only announced the iPhone YouTube app nine days before it shipped. The idea being that when they pre-announce something, they like to keep something back to have a new announcement just before it actually goes on sale. That’s what’s fueling this mania over the iPad secretly containing a camera. If there’s anything Apple hasn’t revealed about the iPad yet, I think it’s far more likely to be software than hardware.

Update: The site is back up.

Widgets for iPad? 

Intriguing theory from Kevin Fox, regarding the built-in system apps from the iPhone that aren’t included — or haven’t yet been included — on the iPad. The glaring omissions are Weather, Stocks, Clock, and Calculator. Fox’s theory:

These apps are missing from the launchpad because they’re no longer apps. They’re dashboard widgets.

I’ve been thinking about the missing apps since Wednesday — I mean, the thing has fewer apps than the 1.0 iPhone. And Weather and Stocks seem like no-brainers. One thought I had was that they were just not finished yet, and would be there in March. Another thought was that they’d left these things off for third parties. But that doesn’t sound like Apple.

Widgets are an interesting explanation, and it never occurred to me that the missing ones were mostly widget-izable. In fact, until April 2007, the iPhone 1.0 Weather, Stocks, and Calculator apps were Dashboard-style HTML/JavaScript widgets. Jobs called them “widgets” on stage at the MWSF iPhone debut, and I later verified it with informed sources. (The iPhone OS 1.0 jailbreakers even found an empty /Library/Widgets/ folder.) Apple scrapped them and reimplemented them as native apps late in the game because the performance just wasn’t there — they all felt sluggish.

One thing that strikes me as off about Fox’s hypothesis is the Mac OS X Dashboard-style mode. No, I think they’d just live right on the Home screen. And then that might also explain why the home screen is so sparse. And maybe on the lock screen too? I like this idea.

Can You Get by With 250 MB of Data Per Month? 

Glenn Fleishman:

This prompted me to check my usage, which you can do in the Settings app by tapping General → Usage, and then scrolling down to the Cellular Network Data section and adding the two numbers there. As far as I can tell, I haven’t reset the phone’s usage statistics: I’ve used a combined total of 1.9 GB over 7 months or about 270 MB per month, just over the limit. I checked my AT&T account to see how much I used in January, a month in which I traveled with the iPhone and no laptop - just 150 MB total.

Free Speech for People 

“This campaign seeks to restore the First Amendment to its original purpose: to protect people, not corporations.”

Apple Demands Removal of USB Sharing Feature in Stanza iPhone App 

Robin Wauters:

I’m sure Apple has good reasons to prevent people from being able to transfer files to iPhone and iPod Touch devices using a USB cable, and I believe this isn’t the first time they’ve asked developers of apps with this or similar features to remove them for new users. That said, I’m not 100% certain which rules were broken here, and since Apple requested Lexcycle not to discuss specifics we’re left guessing why Cupertino had an issue with the USB syncing features.

There are no public APIs in iPhone OS 3.1 that allow apps to sync via USB. This is a private API violation, not an e-book competition thing.

Update: More details, from David Sarno at the LA Times.

MG Siegler: ‘Apple Has Another Tablet in the Works. More Like a Mac Than an iPhone.’ 

I’m going to go way out on a limb here and tell you that this is total bullshit.

Nexus One Update Brings Multitouch Pinch-to-Zoom to Browser, Maps, Photo Gallery 

One cool difference the Nexus One offers over the iPhone is that it can download and install its own system updates. The downside: you have to wait your turn. Still no update for the one I have here.

Facebook Introduces HipHop, PHP to C++ Cross-Compiler 

Haiping Zhao of Facebook:

With HipHop we’ve reduced the CPU usage on our Web servers on average by about fifty percent, depending on the page.

Anthony Calzadilla’s Pure CSS3 AT-AT Walker 

Needless to say, works great on the iPhone, too.

Notational Velocity Adds Simplenote Syncing 

Been using it for two days; the syncing has worked like a charm so far.

On iPads, Grandmas and Game-Changing 

Rob Foster:

I told him about the new iPad and his eyes grew wide. He blurted out “Wait, are you talking about an iPhone but with a bigger screen? A regular sized computer THIS easy to use? $15 a month for internet anywhere? When can I buy one?”

Milind Alvares on iPhone OS Multitasking 

Milind Alvares:

The iPad (and the iPhone) supports background processes. It supports multiple processes, and it can do this without any adverse effects on your battery life. This capability however, is reserved for built-in applications, and not for third-party applications.

One small clarification: rather than “third-party”, I’d say “App Store applications”. Apple’s built-in iPhone OS system apps do all sorts of things the SDK doesn’t allow, but Apple’s iPhone apps distributed through the App Store all seem to play by the App Store rules. It’s system vs. App Store, not Apple vs. third-party.

New York Times Re-Runs ReadWriteWeb’s Comparison of iPad to Pie-in-the-Sky Chrome OS Tablet Concept Video 

Why in the world would The New York Times re-run this tripe? The iPad is “closed” because it has a web browser and the App Store, and Chrome OS is “open” because it has a web browser and no native apps whatsoever? And why compare the actual, real, soon-to-ship iPad to a not-at-all-like-the-Chrome-OS-we’ve-seen concept video rather than to the actual, real, soon-to-ship Chrome OS? And it’s premised on glaring factual mistakes, like that the iPad doesn’t support YouTube.

Marco Arment on When the iPad App Store Will Open 

Marco Arment:

Either I’m missing something, the initial iPad apps are going to suck, or we haven’t yet been told that iPad-native apps won’t be available for some period of time after the iPad’s launch. […] The problem, of course, is that before day one, we won’t have iPads ourselves for development and testing. This wasn’t a problem for iPhone development: by the time the SDK was released, we had all been using iPhones for many months. We knew how iPhone apps should look and behave, and we could test our apps on our iPhones during development for three months before anyone could sell apps to customers.

Good question. I didn’t really think about this in detail, but I just sort of assumed that iPad-specific App Store apps wouldn’t be available until a few weeks after it ships. The simulator developer tool is great, but not enough — setting aside technical differences, it just isn’t a valid way to test how it really feels to use. And even worse, the iPad simulator in this first OS 3.2 SDK beta only contains two apps: Contacts and Settings. So developers can’t poke around the UI and get a good feel for how the system apps are designed.

John Nack: Adobe Isn’t in the Flash Business 

John Nack gets it:

It isn’t in the Photoshop business, or the Acrobat business, or the [take-your-pick product name] business, either.

It’s in the helping people communicate business.

We’d all do well to remember that, because it means that the company’s fortunes are tied to building great tools for solving problems.

I hound Adobe because I care. Adobe is the greatest design software company there’s ever been. They’ve lost their way and we need them to find their way back.

The iPad Isn’t a Third Device, but a Third Revolution 

Dan Moren:

The iPad won’t kill the computer any more than the graphical user interface did away with the command line (it’s still there, remember?), but it is Apple saying once again that there’s a better way.

Typing on the iPad 

Dan Provost on the iPad’s software keyboard in portrait mode:

In this case the iPhone style keyboard doesn’t scale very gracefully. It sits in an unfortunately middle ground: way too cramped to type with both hands, but too large to be able to comfortably “thumb type”.

Having tried it last week, I agree. With years of experience now, I actually type way faster on my iPhone in portrait than landscape, because my thumbs have less far to move. On the iPad, it really felt like I had to very slowly peck to thumb-type.

Engadget Copies DF’s Patented Reader Comments Format 

Wonder if it had anything to do with this tweet?

Apple Releases Second Fix for 27-Inch iMac Display Issues 

Hope this one does the trick — this is probably my next Mac.

Translation From PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of Sony Director of Hardware Marketing John Koller’s Remarks Regarding the iPad 

About right.

Why the iPad Will Fail and Help Windows 7 to Succeed 

OK.

SublimeVideo — HTML5 Video Player 

This is so fucking great: an HTML5 video player by Jilion with beautiful playback controls, click-to-play control over automatic buffering, full-window playback with gorgeous animated transitions, and more. Works great in Safari, MobileSafari, and Chrome; Firefox support is in the works. Oh, and if you’re using a current WebKit Nightly build: full-screen playback. Seriously, this is the real deal — full-screen H.264 playback with no Flash, no browser plugins, full iPhone OS support, and sane CPU usage, better in every single regard than any video player ever made with Flash.

When I wrote this piece on HTML5 and auto-buffering last month, I was focused only on the built-in browser controls. SublimeVideo shows that I was wrong (or at least myopic) — the existing browser support is probably good enough, it just needs to be supplemented with JavaScript to exert necessary control over buffering and more attractive playback controls.

Update: Their server was down for a while, but appears to be back now.

Zeldman on Flash, iPad, and Standards 

The big Z:

Flash won’t die tomorrow, but plug-in technology is on its way out.

And his conclusion is spot-on. Adobe has a golden opportunity to make tools that embrace the HTML5 future.

John Scalzi on Amazon’s Botched Handling of the Macmillan Situation 

John Scalzi:

Leaving aside the moral, philosophical, cultural and financial implications of this weekend’s Amazon/Macmillan slapfight and What It All Means for book readers and the future of the publishing industry, in one very real sense the whole thing was an exercise in public communications, a process by which two very large companies made a case for themselves in the public arena. And in this respect, we can say this much without qualification: oh, sweet Jesus, did Amazon ever hump the bunk.

BBC iPlayer on iPhone 

Old news (from March 2008), but relevant to the current discussion: the BBC’s online video (available only within the U.K.) uses Flash for PCs, but works just fine with MobileSafari by sending straight H.264.

Vice Magazine Interviews Berkeley Breathed 

Speaking of interviews with heartachingly talented comic strip creators, Vice has a great interview with Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed. Asked how much he planned out the writing:

The problem is that you’re asking a guy who didn’t think of any individual strip or story line longer than it takes to read this sentence. I drew in a manic, sweat-flinging state of deadline panic EVERY week. Not most weeks. EVERY week. For ten years. I drew what occurred to me as I stared at the same blank strips I’d been watching for six days, and only because the plane that would deliver them to my syndicate editor was due to take off at 5:30 AM, about seven hours from that moment.

Cleveland Plain Dealer Interviews Bill Watterson 

First interview with the creator of Calvin and Hobbes in 20 years. Not much in it, but you take what you can get.

From the DF Archive: ‘And Oranges’ 

The aforementioned link to Mark Pilgrim on The Setup sent me back to a re-read of this piece I wrote in 2006, when Pilgrim announced his switch from Mac OS X to Ubuntu. I wrote:

I’m deeply suspicious of Mac users who claim to be perfectly happy with Mac OS X. Real Mac users, to me, are people with much higher standards, impossibly high standards, and who use Macs not because they’re great, but because they suck less than everything else. Pilgrim, to me, is a quintessential Mac user in that regard; and what he’s doing is wondering if maybe things might suck less somewhere else.

This is one of my favorite DF pieces ever. Don’t miss Pilgrim’s response to it, either.

Mark Pilgrim on the Setup 

Mark Pilgrim:

I’ve had my current desktop for a little over two years. I want to continue using it for another 20. I mean that literally: this computer, this keyboard, this mouse, these three monitors. 20 years. There’s no technical reason the hardware can’t last that long, so it’s a matter of whether there will be useful software to run on it.

Fascinating.

Flash Headed the Way of Director 

Michael Pinto:

Then the damn web came along and ruined it all: There was a web version of Director called Shockwave, but due to the overhead of bitmap graphics another program called Flash started to build rapid momentum. Macromedia would acquire Flash and rumor has it that Director is still around but the notion of getting a Lingo gig is history. And now that it’s the year 2010 I’m seeing the same thing slowly start to happen to Flash all over again.

(Via Gedeon Maheux.)

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