Linked List: November 2010

When You Should Give Your Android Phone a Factory Reset 

Ryan Whitwam:

In an ideal world, your Android phone would run like a dream forever. This being real life, we can’t always expect that sort of robust performance out of our devices. Things can happen that slow your phone and damage the experience. Maybe you install a lot of apps, and some of them are acting a little mischievous, or maybe something has just gone wrong deep down in the system where you have little chance of fixing it. At times like this, you could agonize over tweaks and possible fixes, or you could spend time uninstalling different combinations of apps. But maybe wiping the phone clean and starting over is the best overall option sometimes.

I am not going to crack any jokes about this. I am not going to crack any jokes about this. I am not going to crack any jokes about this.

Anonymity Breeds Contempt 

Julie Zhuo:

Even in the fourth century B.C., Plato touched upon the subject of anonymity and morality in his parable of the ring of Gyges. That mythical ring gave its owner the power of invisibility, and Plato observed that even a habitually just man who possessed such a ring would become a thief, knowing that he couldn’t be caught. Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly. […]

Psychological research has proven again and again that anonymity increases unethical behavior.

The Claim Chowder Is Really Piling Up Today 

John Paczkowski:

Two years. Three at the most.

That’s how long Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci figures it will take his company to overwhelm the iPad and commandeer Apple’s early lead in the tablet PC market.

Unit sale share only, or profit share too?

More Thurrott 

Paul Thurrott, taking a quote from this NYT story way out of context (boldface his):

The New York Times asks, “With so much going for them why, eight months after the iPad’s release, is the design of so many of those apps so boring?”

To which I answer: They’re boring because the iPad is boring.

I actually feel bad for him and his sad, small little world. Imagine being a tech enthusiast and finding the iPad boring.

How to Compete With Free 

Time, on how the iTunes Music Store succeeded in the face of file sharing:

It turns out that there is something that can compete with free: easy.

PCWorld: ‘Apple Is Getting Desperate in the Mobile Arena’ 

Katherine Noyes:

I believe Apple’s iPhone is rapidly becoming a niche device. Its restrictions are too numerous, its approach too condescending, and its choices too few to have the broad appeal it needs to succeed on a grander scale in the long run.

In short, Apple may always have its share of fans among consumers who don’t mind living in its “walled garden,” but there’s no way it can compete in the market as a whole with the diverse, compelling and powerful platform that is Android.

Filed away for future claim chowder.

Paul Thurrott: ‘How Apple Can Fix the iPad in 2011’ 

Is there anyone who thinks Thurrott’s choice of the verb fix in lieu of, say, improve does anything other than show what a dick he is?

Mac of the Future: The CPU 

Nice to see Anand Lal Shimpi writing for Macworld.

Hybrids vs. Trucks: Comparing Sales Over the Last Decade 

Interesting data visualization work by Mike Kruzeniski.

James Clark: XML vs the Web 

James Clark:

But this vision seems to have been lost sight of over time to the point where there’s a gulf between the XML community and the broader Web developer community; all the stuff that’s been piled on top of XML, together with the huge advances in the Web world in HTML5, JSON and JavaScript, have combined to make XML be perceived as an overly complex, enterprisey technology, which doesn’t bring any value to the average Web developer.

‘Simple Trumps Complete’ 

Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt on what they A/B test, and what they’ve learned.

David Pogue: ‘Lessons Learned in 10 Years on the Tech Beat’ 

Pogue, looking back on his ten years as the NYT’s tech columnist:

Things don’t replace things; they just splinter. I can’t tell you how exhausting it is to keep hearing pundits say that some product is the “iPhone killer” or the “Kindle killer.” Listen, dudes: the history of consumer tech is branching, not replacing.

Irvin Kershner, R.I.P. 

The AP:

Irvin Kershner, who directed the Star Wars sequel “The Empire Strikes Back” and the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again,” has died at age 87.

Empire, of course, is a masterpiece. Never Say Never Again is not, but it’s interesting. The director’s commentary on the latest DVD edition is just great, and really covers the legal hurdles the production faced.

SubZin 

Great site: enter a phrase from a movie and it tells you which movie, the time within the movie, and links to it at Netflix. (Thanks to Jory Prum.)

Smartphone Loyalty Survey 

Reuters:

The survey found that just 25 percent of smartphone owners planned to stay loyal to the operating system running their phone, with loyalty highest among Apple users at 59 percent, and lowest for Microsoft’s phone software, at 21 percent.

Of users of Research in Motion’s BlackBerrys, 35 percent said they would stay loyal. The figure was 28 percent for users of phones running Google’s Android software, and 24 percent for users of Nokia Symbian phones.

Android’s loyalty numbers are much closer to Windows Mobile’s than the iPhone’s, which, of course, proves that Android is winning.

No iPhone? DoCoMo Turns to the Dark Side 

Disuse Wakabayashi, for the WSJ:

The iPhone accounts for about two-thirds of the domestic smartphone market, making DoCoMo’s efforts even more challenging in image-conscious Japan, where the iPhone is starting to become a must-have personal accessory among many young people.

Persuading people to buy a Samsung smartphone in Japan — a country where the South Korean giant has maintained a fairly low profile in the past — may require Jedi mind tricks or possibly a “force” of nature. What pitchman could pull off such a task? You guessed it, Darth Vader.

Lucasfilm is racking up the endorsement dollars on Android phones.

Japanese iPhone Craze Attracts Global App Developers 

Yuri Kageyama, reporting for the AP:

Foreign developers of applications for phones didn’t give the Japanese market a second thought because of its insularity. But that is changing as the iPhone, for which tens of thousands of applications have been created, dominates Japanese smartphone sales.

Everywhere one turns, on commuter trains and urban cafes, people are tapping away at their iPhone screens in a relatively rare Japanese embrace of technology that isn’t homegrown.

Remember when Brian X. Chen claimed the Japanese “hated the iPhone”? That’s a classic bowl of claim chowder.

‘A Waste of Money and Time’ 

Bruce Schneier makes the case against the TSA:

Exactly two things have made airplane travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money. Add screening of checked bags and airport workers and we’re done. Take all the rest of the money and spend it on investigation and intelligence.

Pinboard Bookmark Archiving 

Maciej Ceglowski on how Pinboard archives bookmarked web pages, by storing not just the page source, but resource dependencies too.

Jason Bell on the TSA’s Claims Regarding the Safety of Backscatter Body Scanners 

Molecular biologist Jason Bell:

According to the TSA safety documents, AIT uses an 50 keV source that emits a broad spectra (see adjacent graph from here). Essentially, this means that the X-ray source used in the Rapiscan system is the same as those used for mammograms and some dental X-rays, and uses BOTH ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ X-rays. Its very disturbing that the TSA has been misleading on this point. Here is the real catch: the softer the X-ray, the more its absorbed by the body, and the higher the biologically relevant dose! This means, that this radiation is potentially worse than an a higher energy medical chest X-ray.

(Via Ben Brooks.)

How Germany Got It Right on the Economy 

Harold Meyerson:

It’s quite a turnabout for an economy that American and British bankers and economists derided for years as the sick man of Europe. German banks, they insisted, were too cautious and locally focused, while the German economy needed to slim down its manufacturing sector and beef up finance.

Wisely, the Germans declined the advice. Manufacturing still accounts for nearly a quarter of the German economy; it is just 11 percent of the British and U.S. economies (one reason the United States and Britain are struggling to boost their exports). Nor have German firms been slashing wages and off-shoring — the American way of keeping competitive — to maintain profits.

Robokill 

My thanks to Sourcebits and Wandake Game Studios for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Robokill: Rescue Titan Prime, their new dual-stick action shooter for the iPad. Remember arcade classics like Robotron and Smash TV? If you liked them, you’re going to like Robokill. It’s got my son and me fighting over my iPad. Fun to play and the graphics are terrific. There’s a free version, and the full game is just $3.99 at the App Store.

Switch — Multi-User Web Browser for iPad 

Sort of like fast user switching for iPad web browsing — might be just the thing for shared family iPads. One buck, cheap.

LA Times Feature on Microsoft’s Retail Stores 

Nathan Olivarez-Giles reporting for the Los Angeles Times:

John Smits of San Clemente bought a laptop at the Mission Viejo store, lured by a discount he found out about on Facebook. But he said the Microsoft Store lacked the exclusivity that draws consumers to the Apple Store.

“Everything sold here can be bought somewhere else, likely for a lower price,” Smits said. “There is no exclusive product here to pull me in. But at the Apple Store, there’s all kinds of stuff I can’t get anywhere else.”

Interesting consumer perspective. It gets to the heart of the problem with Microsoft’s copycat retail strategy: they’ve created Apple-like stores but have almost no Apple-like products of their own. Just Xbox.

Speaking at Webstock 2011 

I’m delighted to be heading to New Zealand to speak at Webstock this February. What a speaker lineup — looks like a great conference. I’ve got a few friends who’ve attended Webstock before, and they each rave about it.

Tom the Dancing Bug: A Security Issue at the Office 

“As you know, somebody stole peanut butter from my jar in the break room’s fridge.”

The Talk Show, Episode 18 

What better way to celebrate a long holiday weekend than with a new episode of The Talk Show, wherein Dan Benjamin and I talk about the Samsung Galaxy Tab? This week’s show was sponsored by Rackspace OpenStack (open source, open standards cloud computing platform) and Camera Plus Pro (an iPhone camera app with a slew of cool filters and effects — for photos and video).

Apple’s Black Friday Shopping Event 

All sorts of discounts, including iMacs and MacBooks for $100 off.

Where Roger Ebert Draws the Line 

Roger Ebert:

Are we doomed to submit to humiliation every time we fly? Perhaps you can argue that the terrorists have won a victory just because of the cost and nuisance of airport security. Not exactly. They have generated vast numbers of jobs for security agents, and inspired millions of dollars in contracts for scanning machines and so forth. Indeed companies have spent fortunes to lobby for their machines to be required. One of the big supporters of scanners is Michael Chertoff. Under his face on the news it always says, “Former U.S. Homeland Security chief.” It should say, “Board Member of Companies Selling Scanners.”

Charles Arthur Reviews the Novatech nTablet Windows 7 Tablet 

Charles Arthur:

There’s worse: Novatech is hoping to aim the Windows version at “educational customers” — in other words, teachers and children (and particularly the people who buy kit for them to use). To which all I can say is: NOOOOO! Unless, of course, you want to persuade children that computers are frustrating as well as boring, in which case go right ahead.

ChangeWave Predicts Soaring Laptop Sales for Apple This Quarter 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, quoting from the results of this consumer purchasing survey (PDF) from ChangeWave:

“The manufacturer most responsible for the surge in laptop demand is Apple,” writes research director Paul Carton, “with 36% of planned laptops buyers saying they’ll purchase a Mac — a huge 11-pt jump since our previous survey of a month ago (Oct ‘10).

“Simply put,” he writes, “it’s the highest level of planned laptop buying ever for Apple in a ChangeWave survey.”

The new MacBook Airs are clearly a hit. That’s obvious, and if ChangeWave’s survey is accurate, it probably explains most of the spike in interest. But the big picture is that Apple has created a virtuous circle. People who buy one Apple product and like it tend to start buying more Apple products.

What Android Is 

Nice high-level overview of Android by Tim Bray.

Sony’s Next-Gen Developer Framework to Be Based on GNUstep and Objective-C 

Sony:

Sony’s Networked Application Platform is a project designed to leverage the open source community to build and evolve the next generation application framework for consumer electronic devices. […]

The foundation upon which this project is base comes from the GNUstep community, whose origin dates back to the OpenStep standard developed by NeXT Computer Inc (now Apple Computer Inc.). While Apple has continued to update their specification in the form of Cocoa and Mac OS X, the GNUstep branch of the tree has diverged considerably.

Via Avi Bryant, who aptly quips, “NeXT gets the last laugh.”

Robert Graham Was Detained by the TSA for Taking Photographs 

Robert Graham:

I tried to act nonchalant, as if I didn’t care about the time, but I certainly did. This is Thanksgiving, the flights are full, so it’s unlikely the airline would be able to book me on another flight. If I missed that flight, it would mean missing Thanksgiving. On the other hand, it would be a better blog if the TSA forced me to miss my flight for doing something that is perfectly legal. So I decided I was willing to miss my flight, making me as calm on the inside as I was trying to project on the outside.

Here’s his paraphrased transcript of a bit of conversation with a TSA manager:

TSA: Not all parts of the government are accountable to the public, especially the TSA.

Me: Wow. No, ALL parts of the government are accountable to the people, especially the TSA. I’m not sure what type of country you think we live in.

Kiwi 2.0 

Major update to YourHead Software’s highly configurable Twitter client for the Mac. I’m not a fan, in general, of theme-able apps, but Kiwi 2 is good enough to have me trying it out. Be sure to check out the preferences if you give it a try — there are a lot of options. $10, or free with ads.

3.5-Inch Floppy Sets for Modern Software 

Posters imagining a world where we’re still installing apps via floppy disks. 46 disks for iTunes 8; 358 for Photoshop CS4.

The Safety Question Regarding Backscatter Scanning 

Even if you’re not opposed to these machines on privacy grounds, the health risks should concern you. The best anyone can say about them is that maybe they’re safe. This piece by a TPM reader is a strong, cogent objection to the answers we’ve been given regarding their safety:

The TSA also admits that the ionizing radiation penetrates through 1/10 of an inch of the skin. While that might not sound like much to many lay folks, that is actually quite significant. There is A LOT going on in your skin at 1/10 of an inch. To expose that layer of skin to increased ionizing radiation will lead to increased damage and the potential for mutations and ultimately cancer. It would take years to figure this out and maybe that is what the TSA/DHS is hoping for… the fog of epidemiology to hide the true health impacts. Look how long it took for the risks of smoking cigarettes, with a clear danger, to become well accepted with tons of independent data confirming the point.

The FDA response to the UCSF letter basically says, “the machines are below the threshold of an arbitrary dose limit we developed with the help of the manufacturers of these machines.” Some scientists don’t think that that is good enough.

A Visual History of the Credit Card 

Dig that 1968 American Express Gold card. (Via Mike Davidson.)

‘Gate Rape’ 

Urban Dictionary nails it.

New Netflix Pricing 

The new $8 a month streaming plan is perfect for Apple TV, Roku, etc.

A Third Kind of Freedom 

Rafe Colburn:

What Apple offers in exchange for giving up Freedom 0 (and they ask not only end users but also developers to give it up) is a new freedom for computer users — the freedom to install stuff on your computer without screwing things up. Freedom 0 is about giving you the right to screw up your computer in whatever way you see fit.

Adam Savage on Going Through TSA’s New Security 

They missed the 12-inch razor blades he forgot to take out of his bag.

Fining Terrorists 

Susanna Kim, ABC News:

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says it can fine individuals up to $11,000 for walking away from the airport security process. But will it? People in government say the fine is mostly a deterrent so that terrorists cannot back out of a security check once it starts.

They’re not even trying to make sense at this point. (Via Paul Kafasis.)

Touchy Touchy 

Judging by the front page of today’s Inquirer, TSA is worried about tomorrow’s patriotic boycott of their naked body imaging backscatter machines. I say opt out every day, but tomorrow’s a good day to start.

Mobile Safari Improvements in iOS 4.2 

Maximiliano Firtman on what’s new in Mobile Safari for web developers (including accelerometer support). (Via Mark Pilgrim.)

Matt Kernan Stands His Ground 

After returning to the U.S. from a flight to Europe, Matt Kernan was asked by TSA to go through a new backscatter machine. He declined, and declined to be groped as well. This is his story. Keep in mind that he wasn’t trying to get on a plane — he’d just gotten off one and was simply trying to go home.

Samsung Sells 600,000 Galaxy Tabs in First Month 

Impressive.

The Integrated iPad News Daily 

Horace Dediu on why newspapers are so heavily tied to actual printing:

To give you an idea of how important the printing plant is, consider that a huge proportion of a newspaper’s assets are tied up in its printing plant. That plant is so large and so demanding that it ends up causing the whole business to revolve around it: Print runs are done at night to make sure the product is delivered in the morning. That puts a hard deadline on the writers to submit stories before the product is “frozen” into a final edition. Writers and editors and advertisers need to march in lock-step to the cycle time of a big manufacturing operation.

And advertising revenue is going to sink, not rise:

In the US, a large part of the local paper’s revenue base was wiped out by Craig’s list. Classifieds are a fading memory. With respect to regular ads, the story is almost as bad. 26% of ad spend in 2009 was allocated to print, while only 12% of time spent consuming media was spent on it. In contrast, Internet use is at 28% of time where only 13% of ad dollars are allocated.

Apple’s Video Demo of AirPlay in Action 

Killer feature: it works in the background, so you can use your iPhone or iPad to browse the web or check email or whatever while the video continues to stream from it to your Apple TV. Or you can just turn the iPhone/iPad display off.

Maybe They Should’ve Called It ‘YouTube TV’ 

Electronista on the latest TV networks to block Google TV:

Websites for Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and other networks now show that the “content is unavailable for your device” rather than loading the Flash video. The restriction was expected earlier given Viacom’s failed lawsuit against YouTube but comes relatively late. It joins blocks from Fox, NBC, SyFy, ABC and CBS and now virtually leaves just Turner as one of the major networks allowing Google TV.

How many devices become less useful after they hit the market?

Macworld’s Top Ten List of Features iOS Still Needs 

Pretty good list, I say. They’ve also got a list of the top new features that are in iOS 4.2.

‘Point-and-Shoot Has Become Point-and-Shoot-and-Share’ 

Nice piece from MG Siegler on how the ability to share is pushing smartphones past dedicated point-and-shoot cameras:

Smartphones are always connected. Point and shoots never are. When I take a cool picture, I often want to share it right away. With my smartphone, it takes 20 seconds. With my point and shoot, it’s impossible. I have to wait until I get home, upload it to my computer, then upload it to the web.

He points to the camera popularity trends on Flickr as proof: The iPhone 3G is the single most-used camera on Flickr. Flickr’s a site for enthusiasts, though. Note that fifth-most-popular camera is the Canon 5D Mark II, which retails for $2500.

Siegler also writes:

And if you look at the popular point and shoot list, you’ll see that all of them are trending downward. Fast. Meanwhile, cameraphones are going the opposite way. Soon, I imagine that several Android phones will join the iPhones at the top of the popular list.

I’ll take that bet.

Oprah Says the iPad Is Her ‘Number One Favorite Thing Ever’ 

Oprah: “Words cannot describe how I feel for this device.”

I wonder if Apple will sell a lot of them for the holidays?

TSA Screeners Dislike the Pat-Downs, Too 

Steven Frischling:

A few days ago I contacted 20 TSA Transportation Security Officers (TSO) to ask their opinions of the new “enhanced” pat downs. Of the 20 I reached out to, 17 responded. All 17 who responded are at airports where the new “enhanced” pat down is in place … and the responses were all the same, that front line TSOs do not like the new pat downs and that they do not want to perform them.  I expected most to not like the pat downs … but what I didn’t expect was that all 17 mentioned their morale being broken down.

The Changing Browser Market 

Speaking of Josh Marshall, he revealed some interesting numbers regarding browser and OS usage among the TPM audience:

Indeed, if you add up Mac and the iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) devices, 34.95% of visits to TPM are now coming from some Apple operating system.

TSA Chief Digs in on Body Scans and Pat-Downs 

The AP:

Pistole on Sunday noted the alleged attempt by a Nigerian with explosives in his underwear to try to bring down an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight last Christmas. “We all wish we lived in a world where security procedures at airports weren’t necessary,” he said, “but that just isn’t the case.”

So one man from Nigeria tries to pack a bomb in his underwear last year, and now we’re all subjected to invasive naked body scans and physical pat-downs. Keep in mind that this “underwear bomber” succeeded in destroying nothing other than his own genitals, and that experts agree that even if his bomb had worked as he intended, it wouldn’t have brought down the plane.

Here’s the question for Pistole, and anyone else who argues that these new TSA procedures are an appropriate response to that incident: What happens if the next guy hides his bomb up his ass?

The Republican War on Science 

Josh Marshall:

Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) is running to be the head of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has a key role in climate policy. And he created a stir a couple weeks ago after he reiterated his belief that global warming is not a problem because God has promised he wouldn’t destroy the Earth again after Noah’s flood.

Watch the video. That is not an exaggeration of his stance on climate change and environmental policy. We can do whatever we want to the environment and no harm will come, because The Bible says God won’t allow the earth to be destroyed.

Google Docs Web Apps Now Support Mobile Browsers 

Google:

In the next few days, we’re rolling this out to English-language users around the world on Android with Froyo (version 2.2) and on iOS devices (version 3.0+) including the iPad.

The comments are largely complaints from people with Android 2.1 handsets.

App Store Rejection of the Week: The Snuggie Sutra 

The e-book version is on sale in iBooks, but an iPad app version was rejected, because of a blanket policy: “We don’t need any more Kamasutra apps.” It’s not a “Kamasutra app”, though — it’s a parody of Kamasutra apps.

Apple TV 4.1 Software Update: AirPlay and VoiceOver 

Two big new features. AirPlay is really the key feature in Apple TV 2. The original Apple TV was a standalone $200-300 device; more or less an iPod for your TV. The new Apple TV is a $99 peripheral for your iPhone and iPad. How do you get video from your iOS device to your TV? If you have an Apple TV, just hit play.

As for VoiceOver, does any other home theater system offer this level of accessibility?

Isarithmic History of the Two-Party Vote in U.S. Presidential Elections 

Fascinating data visualization by David B. Sparks, depicting the ebb and flow of election results in the U.S. since 1920. Be sure to watch the video. (Via Kontra.)

Paul Krugman: ‘There Will Be Blood’ 

Paul Krugman:

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.

TSA Pat-Down Leaves Traveler Covered in Urine 

Harriet Baskas, reporting for MSNBC on Thomas Sawyer, a retired teacher and bladder cancer survivor who now wears a urostomy bag to collect his urine:

“One agent watched as the other used his flat hand to go slowly down my chest. I tried to warn him that he would hit the bag and break the seal on my bag, but he ignored me. Sure enough, the seal was broken and urine started dribbling down my shirt and my leg and into my pants.”

The security officer finished the pat-down, tested the gloves for any trace of explosives and then, Sawyer said, “He told me I could go. They never apologized. They never offered to help. They acted like they hadn’t seen what happened. But I know they saw it because I had a wet mark.”

Humiliated, upset and wet, Sawyer said he had to walk through the airport soaked in urine, board his plane and wait until after takeoff before he could clean up.

This is how United States government agents treat innocent citizens.

This is sick. Update: Here’s the story behind the incident, from The Salt Lake Tribune.

iOS 4.2 Available Today for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch 

Apple PR:

“iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.”

“Once again”?

And some news:

The Find My iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) feature is now free to use without a MobileMe subscription and helps you locate your missing device.

Scoble on iOS’s Domination in Mobile Apps 

Terrific companion piece to my piece on the profound difference between today’s Android and iOS app markets. These “datapoints” from Scoble are exactly the sort of things that I’m talking about.

The Story of Polaroid Inventor Edwin Land 

Great piece by Matt Linderman.

RipIt 

My thanks to The Little App Factory for again sponsoring the DF RSS feed to promote RipIt, their award-winning DVD ripping app for the Mac. It’s my go-to app for DVD ripping, and a great way to get movies from DVDs onto an iPad.

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

Verizon’s Service Charges for the Galaxy Tab 

An activation fee here, an overage charge there, and all of a sudden your first monthly bill for your “$20 plan” is $89.

Mike Schramm Interviews John Carmack 

Nice interview at TUAW regarding Id’s amazing new Rage game and iOS gaming in general.

The Talk Show, Episode 17 

Yours truly and Dan Benjamin, talking about The Beatles, killer apps for Android, the RIM Playbook, the Jambox, dropping your pants for TSA, and more.

This week’s show was brought to you by the .tv top-level domain, and TaskSurfer, a to-do manager for Mac OS X.

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner 

If only I could go back in time and show this game to my six-year-old self. AR mode makes you look goofy but it’s crazy fun.

TSA Told Cancer-Surviving Flight Attendant to Remove Her Prosthetic Breast 

Molly Grantham, reporting for WBTV:

A Charlotte-area flight attendant and cancer survivor contacted WBTV after she says she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.

TSA and Those Deadly Nail Clippers 

From an email to Erick Erickson from a soldier returning from Afghanistan:

This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers.

Marshalls Has Those $399 iPads, Too 

MacRumors, on those $399 iPads at TJ Maxx:

T.J. Maxx sister chain Marshalls is apparently also offering the same deal. A MacRumors reader notes that several Marshalls stores in Florida are stocking the entry-level iPad and are reportedly receiving 100 iPads per day over a three-day period.

Where are they coming from? Why only the 16 GB Wi-Fi model?

Bud Selig Plans to Expand MLB Playoffs to 10 Teams 

ESPN:

Commissioner Bud Selig’s plan to expand baseball’s playoffs to 10 teams gained a sense of inevitability after little to no opposition emerged during meetings this week with owners and general managers.

They’ll be playing the World Series in December, with 16 playoff teams, before this guy gets done ruining the sport. They should figure out a way to let fewer teams into the postseason, not more.

Are TSA Airport Screeners Allowed to Wear Radiation Badges? 

Ira Flatow, a month ago:

This weekend, when traveling through the airport at Buffalo, NY I happened upon one of those new whole body x-ray scanners. Refusing to be screened that way, I chose for a full body pat-down. Upon gathering up my stuff, I asked one of the screeners if she knew how much radiation she was exposed to each day. She said she did not know and wanted to wear one of the badges that her friend wears at a local hospital, but was told “no,” that would not be permitted. She was upset with that decision.

Why do dentists, doctors, med techs, etc. who work in other x-ray environments gladly wear these exposure detectors on their clothing but TSA employees do not or cannot?

This is just hearsay, of course, but it’s a good question for TSA. Maybe someone should ask Blogger Bob: Are TSA screeners permitted to wear radiation exposure badges?

TJ Maxx Selling 16 GB Wi-Fi iPad for Just $399 

I don’t understand how this is possible — that’s $100 less than every other retailer. But my friend Paul Kafasis confirms that he saw them at this price from his local TJ Maxx.

Apple Seeds Developers With iOS 4.2.1 GM Build 

The good news is, the GM seeding process worked: major bugs were found. The bad news, of course, is that the public is still waiting. Update: These aren’t really “GM” releases — they should be labeled “Final Candidate”.

Woz Interview at Engadget 

Nilay Patel:

Some comments attributed to Steve Wozniak caused quite a kerfuffle this morning — according to Dutch paper De Telegraaf, Woz said that “Android phones have more features,” which would help Google’s OS become the dominant smartphone platform. Obviously, a statement like that from Apple’s co-founder rocketed around the web, and it’s set off yet another round of furious Android-vs-iOS debate. There’s just one problem, though: Woz never said anything like that. Turns out Woz is an Engadget commenter just like you, and when we saw that he’d left a clarification on the post, we called him up for a quick chat to sort everything out.

He’s in the comment thread on the article, too — search for “stevewoz”.

‘20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web’ 

Web-based e-book from the Google Chrome team. Content-wise, it strikes me as a nearly perfect layman’s explanation of what web browsers are and how the web works. It’s really good.

But it’s also fascinating technically. In lesser browsers, each “page” turn is a full reload of the web page. Slow. In modern desktop browsers, though, the page turns happen via AJAX, but the URL in the location field changes too. In Firefox 3, you get AJAXy-looking URLs like “http://www.20thingsilearned.com/#/foreword/3” — a nicer experience, but still nothing I haven’t seen before. But in leading browsers like Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox 4, you get AJAX page-turning and nice clean URLs like “http://www.20thingsilearned.com/foreword/3”. I did not know that was possible.

Here’s the JavaScript they’re using for this, and here’s some documentation on the new HTML5 history.pushState() and history.replaceState() methods that make this jiggery-pokery possible. Imagine if every team at Google built things with the same design quality and attention to detail as the Chrome team. (Via Michael Heilemann.)

Safari 5.0.3 

Looks like they’ve made some nice tweaks to the smart completion in the location field.

Android Game Development Sounds Like Fun 

The Angry Birds team, on Android compatibility problems:

We are aware that a number of our fans have had trouble running the game on their devices. For example, some older and lower performance Android devices are experiencing severe performance issues.

We are preparing a new solution for the next update, but for the time being, the Android devices listed below are not officially supported by Angry Birds:

And they list about 20 Android models, including some brand-new ones like the T-Mobile G2. Don’t miss the comment thread on this one.

‘Cowboys and Aliens’ Trailer 

I’ve got high hopes for this.

Chance of Dying From Airport Backscatter Radiation About the Same as Chance of Getting Killed by Terrorists 

MSNBC:

Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, did his own calculations and found the exposure to be about one-fiftieth to one-hundredth the amount of a standard chest X-ray. He calculated the risk of getting cancer from a single scan at about 1 in 30 million, “which puts it somewhat less than being killed by being struck by lightning in any one year,” he told me.

While the risk of getting a fatal cancer from the screening is minuscule, it’s about equal to the probability that an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist, he added. “So my view is there is not a case to be made for deploying them to prevent such a low probability event.”

(Via Randal Schwartz.)

Basic Maths 1.1 

Nice update to Khoi Vinh and Allan Cole’s $45 grid-based theme for WordPress — now including mobile-optimized layouts.

The Staggering Size of iOS’s Game Collection 

Richard Gaywood, writing for TUAW, on the size of the App Store’s game catalog.

Rage HD 

Imagine going back in time just four years ago and showing this to someone, explaining that it’s running on your cell phone. Unbelievable.

David Pogue Reviews Google TV 

David Pogue:

This much is clear: Google TV may be interesting to technophiles, but it’s not for average people. On the great timeline of television history, Google TV takes an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity.

TSA Checkpoint Sign 

Would make a great sticker.

How iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry Users See Each Other 

Pretty much spot-on. (Via Scott Beale.)

TikTok and LunaTik 

Speaking of iPod Nano-wristwatch conversions, here’s a new Kickstarter project to create two very impressive-looking designs. Count me in for a TikTok.

Ben Kuchera’s Review of the Kinect 

Far less effusive than, say, Pogue’s review. But I get the feeling the Kinect and its initial game titles were purposefully designed more for casual gamers than serious ones. It’s more like the Wii with better graphics than Xbox with motion control; about appealing to (and creating) new Xbox users, not existing ones. See, for example, today’s entry from Penny Arcade’s Tycho, and the accompanying comic.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen on Flash’s Effect on MacBook Air Battery Life 

Sean Hollister, for Engadget:

Getting a little more oomph out of your MacBook Air after giving Flash the boot? Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen stopped just short of saying that’s Apple’s fault for not handing Adobe a device ahead of time. We asked the CEO what the greater battery life sans flash in Apple’s new laptop meant for the platform vis-a-vis HTML5 at the Web 2.0 Summit just a few minutes ago. He said it’s really all about optimizing for silicon: “When we have access to hardware acceleration, we’ve proven that Flash has equal or better performance on every platform.”

But it’s not like the MacBook Air is the only Mac that gets vastly superior battery life without Flash. That’s true for all MacBooks.

Photographs of Destroyed Apple Products 

Photo credit: Steve Ballmer.

Kottke Calls for Kindle and Kinect Christmas 

Kottke thinks Amazon’s Kindle and Microsoft’s Kinect are going to be big holiday sellers. I agree. The Kindle because (a) it’s gotten so cheap; (b) it gets great word-of-mouth recommendations; and (c) Amazon has a strong consistent marketing campaign behind it. The Kinect because Microsoft has already sold a million of them, in the first 10 days. When people are lined up to buy something new on the day it’s released, you’re doing something right.

Apple Has Exclusive Digital Download Rights to The Beatles Until 2011 

Jim Dalrymple:

“The Beatles will be available for digital downloads exclusively on iTunes, with the exclusive expiring in 2011,” an Apple spokesperson told The Loop. Apple declined to comment on exactly when the exclusivity with iTunes would end, only saying 2011.

Pretty Good for Government Work 

Warren Buffett, well-known foe of capitalism, thanks the U.S. government for its efforts to prevent an economic collapse two years ago.

Update on the Glif 

Nice report by Glenn Fleishman on the status of the Glif, the upcoming Kickstarter-funded iPhone 4 tripod adapter from Dan Provost and Thomas Gerhardt.

Griffin Technology’s Slap 

Wear your iPod Nano as a wristwatch.

NMA World Edition Reports on TSA’s Enhanced Security Procedures 

Nailed it, as usual.

Watts Martin on the App Console Model of Computing 

Watts Martin:

The model we’re moving toward, though, is premised on the idea that computers shouldn’t require routine tech support. Again, look back at game consoles: an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 is a fully programmable computer with networking capability, offline storage, removable media, the whole shebang, yet all of that is invisible to the user. What file system does a Playstation use and what directories does it put your downloaded games in? The correct answer is: “Who gives a shit?”

And if what you do with a computer is spreadsheets and flow charts and word processing documents and slide presentations, web browsing and media watching and game playing, even recording music and editing photographs and writing text adventures, there’s an excellent case to be made that you should not have to give a shit about any of that, either. But right now — no matter what platform you’re using — you kinda do.

Via Marco Arment, who adds:

Think of how many people are so afraid of their PCs that they only do the bare minimum with them and never venture into unknown territory because they’re afraid of “breaking” their computers. How many of them recently bought iPads and have become much more confident and adventurous with usage and applications, since Apple tricked them into thinking that the iPad isn’t a computer?

Isaac Z. Schlueter’s TSA Success Story 

This might be my favorite TSA-related story of the week. Nothing sensational about it. Just a story about using and sharing information, and having the fortitude to act on your beliefs.

‘You Can’t Do That Stuff in a Browser’ 

Michael Tsai’s 2007 juxtaposition of Steve Jobs’s comments to Walt Mossberg at D5, hailing the advantages of Apple’s native CocoaTouch iPhone apps, and his announcement on stage at WWDC two weeks later, that Apple’s “very sweet solution” for third-party developers who wanted to write iPhone apps was to write web apps.

RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie’s ‘Sweet Solution’ 

Claudine Beaumont, reporting for The Telegraph, on Jim Balsillie’s appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco yesterday:

He also criticised Apple’s ecosystem of applications for its iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and said that users “don’t need an app for the web”. […]

“We believe that you can bring the mobile to the web,” he said. “You don’t need to go through some kind of software development kit. That’s the core part of our message. You can use your existing development environment.

Everyone remembers that this was Apple’s story for third-party iPhone development back in 2007, right? And that the announcement was met with dead silence — no applause whatsoever — during the WWDC keynote? And that Cocoa developers were so itching to write truly native iPhone apps that they started doing so on their own, via jailbreaking, with no help, tools, or documentation from Apple? And that when Apple was ready to release a native SDK in early 2008, that response — from both developers and consumers — was overwhelming?

My guess is that Balsillie knows this, but he’s spinning it this way because RIM is going to release the PlayBook long before its native SDK is going to be ready. And so what else is he going to say?

‘Not a Good Dancer’ 

Todd Richmond, reporting for the AP:

Prosecutors say a rural Wisconsin man blasted his TV with a shotgun after watching Bristol Palin’s “Dancing With the Stars” routine, sparking an all-night standoff with a SWAT team.

According to court documents, 67-year-old Steven Cowan became enraged while watching Palin dance on Monday evening. He felt Palin was not a good dancer.

The Old Fashioned 

At the other (non-poisonous) end of the drinking spectrum, here’s Buzz Andersen on the classic cocktail.

‘It Tastes Like Regret’ 

Paul Kafasis drinks a can of Four Loko:

In the end, I bought a can each of Blue Raspberry and Watermelon because that’s what the liquor store had. While ringing up the purchase, the store owner glanced at the cans of Four Loko before stating “that’s the closest I come to selling real poison”. I couldn’t make that up.

OpenTable From a Restaurant’s Perspective 

Fascinating look at the relationship between OpenTable and restaurants, from restauranteur Mark Pastore:

The access fees can be substantial, particularly for restaurants operating on thin margins. One independent study estimates that OpenTable’s fees (comprised of startup fees, fixed monthly fees, and per-person reservation fees) translate to a cost of roughly $10.40 for each “incremental” 4-top booked through OpenTable.com. To put that in perspective, consider that the average profit margin, before taxes, for a U.S. restaurant is roughly 5%. This means that a table of 4 spending $200 on dinner would generate a $10 profit. In this example, all of that profit would then go to OpenTable fees for having delivered the reservation, leaving the restaurant with nothing other than the hope that that customer would come back (and hopefully book by telephone the next time).

In short, restaurants pay a lot for each reservation booked through OpenTable.

Twitter Adds Push Notifications for Its Official iPhone Client 

But it’s only for its own official client — third-party Twitter clients that want push notifications need to run their own servers. (That’s what Boxcar and Notifo have done for a while now.)

In other news, the Twitter iPad app is much improved over its initial release. It’s the same basic multi-panel slide-to-the-left premise, but the interaction is much improved — it’s easier to flip your way back to the “root”, and a selected tweet no longer stays pinned to the top of the list as you scroll down.

Hard-Coding Bias in Google ‘Algorithmic’ Search Results 

Benjamin Edelman:

I present categories of searches for which available evidence indicates Google has “hard-coded” its own links to appear at the top of algorithmic search results, and I offer a methodology for detecting certain kinds of tampering by comparing Google results for similar searches.

I’d never noticed the “Google Health” results before.

Huawei Ascend: $130 Android Phone 

Now this is interesting: an Android 2.1 phone from Cricket that sells for $150 (currently on sale for $130), with no rebate, and no contract. It does require one month of prepaid service, though, which costs $55. But for $185 you can get a seemingly decent Android phone. Here’s Engadget’s review; here’s CNet’s.

Airports Can Opt-Out of TSA Screening 

Byron York, writing for The Washington Examiner:

Did you know that the nation’s airports are not required to have Transportation Security Administration screeners checking passengers at security checkpoints? The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

I did not know that. (Via Mike Rundle.)

Less IMDb 

Safari extension from John August and Ryan Nelson; vastly improves the layout of IMDb web pages. More from August here. (I’m so old that I remember when the “interface” to IMDb was email — you’d email them the title of a movie, they’d email you back with cast, credits, etc.)

Astronut 

Fun new game from The Iconfactory. Looks great, sounds great, feels great. (I’m addicted to the bonus level music.) My six-year-old son gives it a thumbs-up, too.

Interesting business model: there’s just one app, no separate “lite” version. It’s free to download, but not all levels are included — the upgrade to the full game is a $1.99 in-app purchase.

TSA Opens Investigation on John Tyner 

Robert J. Hawkins, reporting for The San Diego Union-Tribune:

The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, the Oceanside man who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan. […]

Michael J. Aguilar, chief of the TSA office in San Diego, called a news conference at the airport Monday afternoon to announce the probe. He said the investigation could lead to prosecution and civil penalties of up to $11,000.

How tone-deaf are these idiots? If they harass Tyner, he’s not going to lack for public support. Of course, as John Cole points out, this isn’t so much about harassing Tyner as it is about sending a message to the public: “Don’t submit to the police state, and we’ll come after you.

Google Voice for iPhone Now Available in the App Store 

So ends the most controversial “study” in App Store history.

Fly With Dignity 

Seems like a great site from the Reddit community.

Ray Sun on Facebook’s New Email/SMS/Messaging Thing 

Ray Sun:

In other words, the tagline of Facebook’s blog post is indicative of everything that’s wrong with this feature: “Joel Seligstein, a Facebook engineer, is relieved he no longer needs to keep track of which friends like texts vs. email vs. chat.

He designed this feature to abstract away texts vs. email vs. chat. But 99% of real humans don’t care about this, and won’t experience his “relief” because this was never a problem in the first place. Teens always text each other, because they always have their cell phones and this is the way to reach them. And to reach your grandma, you use email. Simple. No mixing up grandma with your girlfriend.

Nexus S to Sport Near-Field Communication for Payment Processing? 

Michael Liedtke, reporting for the AP:

The new phone will feature a Near Field Communication, or NFC, chip that will enable phones to transmit the payment information of the device’s owner to vendors using compatible technology. The transactions will be completed by tapping a physical point, such as a payment terminal or other objects encoded with the information needed to complete the purchase.

RIM Releases Video Pitting PlayBook Against iPad in Web Rendering 

Impressive demo.

Gizmodo Uncovers Saved Images Body Scanner at Federal Courthouse 

Joel Johnson, for Gizmodo:

At the heart of the controversy over “body scanners” is a promise: The images of our naked bodies will never be public. U.S. Marshals in a Florida Federal courthouse saved 35,000 images on their scanner. These are those images.

A Gizmodo investigation has revealed 100 of the photographs saved by the Gen 2 millimeter wave scanner from Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc., obtained by a FOIA request after it was recently revealed that U.S. Marshals operating the machine in the Orlando, Florida courthouse had improperly — perhaps illegally — saved images of the scans of public servants and private citizens.

The government keeps insisting it “can’t” save images from these machines, where what they really mean is that they “won’t”, because they have a policy against it.

Engadget Reviews the Nook Color 

The Nook is interesting. It costs a lot more than a Kindle, but has a color display and touchscreen. It costs a lot less than an iPad, but is smaller and the software isn’t as nice. It’s not just in between the Kindle and iPad price-wise, either. The Kindle is a reader. The iPad is a tablet computer. The Nook Color sounds like it’s primarily a reader, but with its Android foundation and color touchscreen, it’s far more of a general-purpose device than the Kindle.

Video of TSA Screener Accosting 3 Year Old Child at Security Checkpoint 

Despicable.

The Beatles on iTunes 

Huge promotional push.

Love this from the PR:

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” said Ringo Starr.

Business Insider’s iPad User Survey Results 

I’m always a little skeptical of surveys like this — I suspect participation tends to be self-selecting. Those most likely to complete such a survey are fans of the device. But, still, even if you consider that, these results are interesting. My favorite is question 4: the most popular activity on the iPad is surfing the web.

That’s what I mean about Apple being a big proponent and supporter of HTML5 and the open web. Not out of any sort of benevolence, but because best-of-breed mobile web browsing is essential to the success of the entire iOS platform.

(Also interesting: Kindle e-books were more popular than iBooks.)

The Staff Recommends 

“The Staff Recommends is an advertorial publication that only features books we like.” From their About page:

So what you’re saying is that The Staff Recommends is kind of like the part in the bookstore where the employees put little cards on the books saying what they liked and why, only online?

Yes, that’s what we’re saying.

Great idea.

WSJ Says It’s The Beatles 

Ethan Smith, reporting for the WSJ:

Apple Inc. is preparing to announce that its iTunes Store will soon start carrying music by the Beatles, according to people familiar with the situation, a move that would fill in a glaring gap in the collection of the world’s largest music retailer.

Update: My inbox is filling up with emails along the lines of, “Sure, The Beatles are great, maybe even the best, but they’re still just one group. Why would Apple make such a big deal out of this?” Mike Davidson explains.

Bill of Rights Security Edition 

The U.S. Bill of Rights printed on a metallic card, with the Fourth Amendment — which specifies our right to be secure “against unreasonable searches and seizures” — highlighted. Penn and Teller sell these at their theater in Las Vegas.

Billboard’s Guess: The Beatles 

Anton Bruno:

For these (admittedly thin) reasons and others that we can’t yet divulge here, place your bets on a Beatles announcement tomorrow.

I’ll go with The Beatles catalog as my guess, too. It’s really the only explanation I can think of that would be a big enough deal to warrant this promotional hype but which would not warrant a media event. I think the clocks are just clocks, but the headline is, to my ears, a bit stilted, and makes a lot more sense if it’s a reference to the McCartney song. (Might also be one last fuck you to Yoko Ono from Jobs — by making the headline a reference to a song Paul released as a solo artist.)

Other popular guesses:

  • Music streaming service, based on Lala acquisition. Possible, but I doubt it. I think they’d have an event for that, and as Peter Kafka writes, there have been no leaks from the music industry about such a deal. Apple can keep its mouth shut, but the music labels can’t.

  • Cloud-based backup/streaming of purchased content. Possible, but I think this is the sort of thing they’d demo and explain at a media event.

  • A digital “newsstand”, for subscription-based delivery of newspapers and magazines to iOS devices. No way — again, that’s the sort of thing they’d demo and explain at a media event.

In short, major new Apple products are unveiled at events. A major new content deal is the sort of thing Apple might announce without an event.

Full List of Countries That Have the ‘Exciting Announcement’ Apple.com Teaser 

Jesper:

There’s no real pattern that I’ve been able to tell with regards to any existing iTunes Store feature. Greece and Luxembourg are Eurozone countries that already have the full-on music store but that are excluded. Portugal has the teaser but isn’t a country where Ping is available (according to Apple themselves). Only a few of these countries have movie purchases, rentals and TV show purchases, and only the US has a limited range of TV show rentals.

How Israel Handles Airport Security 

Far better security, far less hassle.

Update: Bruce Schneier says Israel’s model wouldn’t scale for the U.S. — we have bigger airports, far more passengers, and far more planes. But the point isn’t “this is how the U.S. should do it”. It’s about their attitude and priorities.

Update 2: Via email from reader JW:

I recently heard the Israel vs USA versions of airport security succinctly summed up this way: “In the US, they search for weapons. In Israel, they search for terrorists.”

‘Don’t Touch My Junk’ 

Software engineer John Tyner’s account of refusing an X-Ray scan at the San Diego airport on Saturday. He recorded much of the incident on his cell phone. At the 8:30 mark of the first video, a TSA agent tells him: “Upon buying your ticket, you gave up a lot of your rights.”

After being escorted — by TSA — out of the airport for refusing to allow his genitals to be groped, he was then threatened by a TSA supervisor with a lawsuit and $10,000 fine for having left the screening area.

NPR Report on Safety Concerns Regarding TSA Naked Body Scanners 

I’m adamantly opposed to these new scanners on privacy and Fourth Amendment grounds, but the health concerns alone seem worrisome. Here’s a PDF of the letter from four members of the UCSF faculty, laying out their concerns.

Unions Advise Pilots to Avoid Full-Body Scans 

Brian Kalish, reporting for Nextgov:

Two pilot unions urged members in the last week to avoid security screening by the full body scanners being deployed at airports across the country. They are concerned about the amount of radiation the advanced imaging technology machines emit and the cumulative effects on pilots.

Apple Teases ‘Exciting Announcement From iTunes’ Tomorrow Morning 

Screenshot of Apple’s homepage. I have no idea what this is about. Zilch.

Update 1: The question to keep in mind if you’re guessing what this about is, “What could Apple announce without a media event to explain and demo it?” Best guess I’ve heard so far: it’s just iOS 4.2, and the reason it says “from iTunes” is because iTunes (the app) is where you go to get the update. Apple wants everyone, especially iPad owners, to get this update. But that’s just a guess. Second guess: additional content deals for TV show rentals. Admittedly, neither of these seem like something we’ll “never forget”.

Update 2: A couple of readers are guessing “Beatles”, arguing that the clock faces vaguely resemble the album cover for “Help”. No on-stage performance from Paul and Ringo, though? Maybe Yoko insisted on singing.

Boxcar 4.0 

Nice update to a great app and service. Boxcar gives you highly-configurable push notifications from Twitter, email, RSS, Google Voice, and more. Pretty much push notifications for anything. Free with ads, $4.99 without.

MG Siegler argues that Apple should buy Boxcar. I don’t know about that, but it’s damn good.

The Lobbyists Behind the TSA’s New Naked Body Scanners 

Timothy Carney:

Many experts and critics suspect that the full-body “naked scanners” recently deployed at U.S. airports do little to make us more secure, and a lot to make us angry, embarrassed and late. For instance, the scanners can’t see through skin, and so weapons or explosives can be hidden safely in body cavities.

But this is government we’re talking about. A program or product doesn’t need to be effective, it only needs to have a good lobby. And the naked-scanner lobby is small but well-connected.

Apple TV Ranked No. 12 on Amazon’s Best-Selling Gadget List 

Curiously, as Dan Frommer reported the other day, it wasn’t on the list at all earlier in the week. Not bad, not bad. The whole list is interesting — e.g., their best-selling camera is a relatively expensive one: the $367 Canon PowerShot S95.

Android Fragmentation, Exhibit 47 

Greg Peters from Netflix, on why Netflix already supports Windows Phone 7, but still doesn’t support Android:

Although we don’t have a common platform security mechanism and DRM, we are able to work with individual handset manufacturers to add content protection to their devices. Unfortunately, this is a much slower approach and leads to a fragmented experience on Android, in which some handsets will have access to Netflix and others won’t. This clearly is not the preferred solution, and we regret the confusion it might create for consumers. However, we believe that providing the service for some Android device owners is better than denying it to everyone.

More and more, I’m convinced that Android isn’t a single platform. It’s a meta-platform upon which handset makers build their own platforms.

Apparently He Didn’t Get the Memo About iPads Being Only… Ah, Forget It 

NME News:

Damon Albarn has told NME that he has been recording a new Gorillaz album on his iPad. […]

“I’ve made it on an iPad – I hope I’ll be making the first record on an iPad,” he said. “I fell in love with my iPad as soon as I got it, so I’ve made a completely different kind of record.”

TouchUp for iPad 

RogueSheep is one of my favorite indie developers, and I thank them for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote TouchUp, their new photo editing app for the iPad. It’s a recurring theme for me here at DF that pointer UIs (mouse or trackpad) are fundamentally different than touchscreen UIs. TouchUp gets it right. It doesn’t work like Photoshop or any other traditional pointer-based photo editing UI. It’s touch-based, from the ground up.

It’s a simple premise: each effect is a layer atop the original photo. Each effect can be “painted” by touch onto the photo. It doesn’t feel like any app I’ve used before, and it’s a lot of fun — and very easy to get started with. One example of TouchUp’s clever design: “brushes” are always roughly the size of your finger — you pinch-zoom the photo to adjust how big an area your brush affects, rather than changing the size of the brush. Check out the screenshots and demo videos at RogueSheep’s website to get a sense for how it works. Get it on the App Store for just $2.99.

Why Wesabe Lost to Mint 

An honest — and, to my eyes, very astute — analysis from Wesabe co-founder Marc Hedlund. Sometimes being good isn’t enough — you have to be the best to survive.

Rachel Maddow Interviews Jon Stewart 

Thoughtful, smart, reasonable debate on the role cable news plays in U.S. political discourse. (Want to watch it in Safari, without Flash? Turn on Safari’s Develop menu, then choose Develop → User Agent → Mobile Safari 3.2.2 — iPad.)

Comparing Democratic and Republican Tax Plans 

Striking infographic from the Washington Post.

iTunes 10.1 

You need it for some of the new stuff in iOS 4.2.

Get Your Arial Out of My ‘Simpsons’ 

I, too, was annoyed by this. And, yes, I also suspect there’s a pea under my mattress.

Christie’s Auctioning an Apple I 

Estimated value: £100,000 – £150,000. That’s a little bit more than it sold for new in 1976.

Talking Points Memo Turns 10 

I’ve been reading TPM almost since the beginning. To this day, it’s my favorite site for politics, but it’s also a great success story for independent web-based publishing. Great reporting, great analysis, and a business model and organizational structure that works.

Here’s the Wayback Machine’s archive of what TPM looked like at the beginning.

Oracle and Apple Announce OpenJDK Project for Mac OS X 

Apple PR:

Oracle and Apple today announced the OpenJDK project for Mac OS X. Apple will contribute most of the key components, tools and technology required for a Java SE 7 implementation on Mac OS X, including a 32-bit and 64-bit HotSpot-based Java virtual machine, class libraries, a networking stack and the foundation for a new graphical client. […]

Apple also confirmed that Java SE 6 will continue to be available from Apple for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and the upcoming release of Mac OS X Lion. Java SE 7 and future versions of Java for Mac OS X will be available from Oracle.

Sounds like great news for Mac-using Java developers.

Note, too, this statement from Oracle VP Hasan Rizvi:

“The Java developer community can rest assured that the leading edge Java environment will continue to be available on Mac OS X in the future. Combined with last month’s announcement of IBM joining the OpenJDK, the project now has the backing of three of the biggest names in software.”

A very big name not on that list: Google.

The Talk Show, Episode 16 

You might hear the opening and think, “What the hell kind of way is that to start a podcast?” But it’ll all make sense when you get to the end.

Two great sponsors for this week’s show: Friends, a handsome new iPhone client for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; and the .tv top-level domain.

Engadget Uncovers ‘Nexus S’ — Purported Nexus One Sequel From Samsung 

Nice bit of detective work throughout the day. And, amazingly, without stealing a phone.

“Helping your child understand why he may pose a threat to National Security.”

Silicon Alley Insider: Jack Dorsey Back at Twitter 

Nicholas Carlson:

Dorsey is working on “fixing” Twitter’s product, sources say.

Interesting. When Ev himself got pushed out of the CEO slot in October, Twitter PR told everyone it was because he wanted to focus more on product.

Some sources say Jack is back on new Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s request, and that Ev isn’t thrilled about it.

That “Ev stepped aside as CEO voluntarily” story smelled fishy to me all along.

Can Carriers Block Windows Phone 7 OS Updates? 

Peter Bright is skeptical of Ed Bott’s report that Microsoft is in full control of Windows Phone 7 updates:

As long as we’ll get our updates without carrier or OEM interference, even if only through USB, that’s still good enough; we’ll still get new features and bug fixes on our existing phones.

Sadly, it looks as if that too many not come to pass: carriers will, in fact, be able to hold back updates to some extent. Worse, it seems that Microsoft is doing everything in its power to avoid giving a straight answer about the situation.

Jamie Thomson Reviews Windows Phone 7 

Thoughtful, detailed Windows Phone 7 review.

Movie Rentals and Purchases Come to Japanese iTunes Store 

Dan Moren:

As in other countries’ stores, rentals are valid for 30 days, though Japan also gets the longer 48-hour watching period that’s available in every store except the U.S., which remains limited to 24 hours.

Why is the U.S., and only the U.S., stuck with this 24-hour limit?

TSA Outrage of the Day 

Free Talk Live:

The TSA chose Meg McLain for special screening. They wanted her to go through the new porno-scanners. When she opted out, TSA agents raised an enormous ruckus. When she asked some question about what they planned to do to her, they flipped out. TSA agents yelled at her, handcuffed her to a chair, ripped up her ticket, called in 12 local Miami cops and finally escorted her out of the airport.

So their policy is that you can opt out of the porno scanners (perfect name, I say), but if you do, you’ll be detained, physically molested. Most of us have a natural and deep-seated inclination to avoid being treated as a “troublemaker” by law enforcement agents, and they’re taking advantage of this to coerce people into submitting to these scans.

Update: The TSA has posted security camera footage of the incident. It’s hard to see much detail, but at the very least it proves she was detained for about 20 minutes and then led away by five officers.

Lucius Kwok on Mac App Store Submission Hassles 

Not exactly a streamlined process, yet:

If the “Build & Archive” menu item is dimmed out or disabled, you’ll need to download and install the Xcode 3.2.5 GM that is on the Mac Dev Center page, and not the one with the iOS SDK that’s on the iOS Dev Center page. Why this makes a difference, even though the version and build numbers are the same in the About Xcode box, I don’t know.

‘Ram, This Is Steve.’ 

iPad developer gets phone call from Steve Jobs regarding his use of private API calls to work around a bug in iOS.

Fox Joins ABC, NBC, CBS in Blocking Google TV Devices 

I get the feeling Google didn’t anticipate this, considering that finding and watching network TV shows is a big part of the Google TV pitch.

Is Windows Phone 7 Too Late? 

Harry McCracken on whether Windows Phone 7 is simply too late to the game:

I’m not saying it’s a winning gameplan, or that Windows Phone 7 is the mobile OS that will finally win smartphone unbelievers over. But this much I’m confident of: A couple of decades from now, we’ll look back at 2010 as being really early in the history of smartphones, before most of the interesting stuff happened.

Agreed. Most people have yet to buy their first smartphone — and pretty soon, all cell phones are going to be smartphones.

RIP JooJoo 

Wong Joon Ian:

Fusion Garage told us yesterday that its Joojoo tablet is at “its end of life” and that it is working on several new devices to be released next year.

When, exactly, was it alive in the first place?

Ping Hooks Up With Twitter 

Remember, Ping was originally slated to ship with Facebook integration, but Apple didn’t like the “onerous terms”.

(Interesting, perhaps, that Twitter doesn’t mention “Apple” at all; they describe Ping as “iTunes’ new social network for music”.)

Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira Win Gold Gloves 

Alex Rodriguez needs to get his act together.

Flash Player and Security Updates 

A data point regarding Apple’s official stance regarding its decision to no longer bundle Flash Player with Mac OS X. Here’s the statement I got from Apple last month:

“We’re happy to continue to support Flash on the Mac, and the best way for users to always have the most up to date and secure version is to download it directly from Adobe.”

Yesterday, Apple released Mac OS X 10.6.5. The security-related release notes for this update list 134 CVE IDs for fixed vulnerabilities. 55 of those vulnerabilities are for Flash Player alone.

David Pogue’s Galaxy Tab Review 

He likes it:

Samsung sweated the details on this thing. The screen is gorgeous. The touch response is immediate and reliable. The whole thing is superfast and a pleasure to use. […]

But the Galaxy doesn’t feel like a cramped iPad. It feels like an extra-spacious Android phone. And the payoff is huge. The Galaxy is much lighter than the iPad (13 ounces vs. 1.5 pounds), which makes a huge difference when you have to hold it to watch a movie on the plane. And it’s so small you can carry it in a blazer pocket.

I can’t recall a device where the reviews have been so divided. Some are saying it’s good, and a credible iPad rival. Others are saying it’s garbage.

(Curious, too, that The Times copy desk let “superfast” through.)

Walt Mossberg’s Galaxy Tab Review 

Positive review overall, but:

I found the Web browser to be a bit jerky in zooming into text and scrolling through long pages. I tested several Adobe Flash videos and websites written in Flash. Sometimes they played and sometimes they didn’t. In all cases, they slowed the browser down. On one site written in Flash, I got a warning saying I might want to “abort” lest the computer become “unresponsive.” In another case, the Tab crashed. So I conclude that while the Tab does play Flash, it needs work on that score.

Seems like Flash Player support is a feature that sounds good — “the Galaxy Tab supports Flash, the iPad doesn’t” — but actually makes the product worse in practice.

Apple’s Tablet Computer History 

Fabulous collection of prototype Apple hardware designs. Be prepared for a wave of powerful nostalgia for things that never were but could have been.

Wired’s Samsung Galaxy Tab Review 

The headline: “Samsung’s Galaxy Tab: iPad’s First Solid Contender”.

The conclusion: “The Tab ultimately reveals itself not as a competitor to the iPad but as a new class of mobile devices: a minitablet that is designed to go everywhere you do.”

Sounds great:

In use, the Galaxy Tab performs well, but is not exemplary. It feels snappy enough, but longish load times can sometimes be tiresome, and webpages invariably loaded more slowly than the iPad — sometimes taking twice as long. We also ran into a few issues with apps hanging and the Wi-Fi connection suddenly vanishing without explanation. Reboots solved both issues.

Instapaper 2.3 for iPhone and iPad 

Worth reading just hear the algorithm Marco devised for the new “automatically switch to dark mode” feature.

Also, Apple is promoting Instapaper with a nice video in their iPhone Quick Tips podcast.

Mac OS X v10.6.5 Is Out 

Release notes for what’s new; security update info here.

Apple Did Not Purchase Bluetooth Headphone Maker Wi-Gear 

Apple did hire company co-founder Michael Kim, and the Wi-Gear company has ceased operations, but Apple didn’t buy the company or its IP. It wasn’t a bad guess, but alas, 9to5 Mac’s Seth Weintraub didn’t report it as a guess — he reported it as a fact:

A source tells 9to5Mac that Apple scooped up a small Bluetooth wireless headphone designer in San Francisco two months ago. […] Apple plans to build its own stereo Bluetooth headphones for future iOS devices and MacBooks with technology and expertise from Wi-Gear.

Weintraub has corrected the story, and published an apology for the mistake.

Undercutting, Eh? 

Paul Thurrott, today, on the news that RIM is going to sell the BlackBerry PlayBook for “under $500”:

It looks like RIM is going to try and undercut iPad pricing with its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook. This is very wise: The iPad is overpriced, and thanks to this pricing, the competing tablets coming from the Android world and elsewhere are coming in too high as well.

Call me a cynic, but when RIM says “under $500”, I hear “$499”. But we shall see.

Bonus claim chowder postscript: Thurrott, back on January 27, live-blogging the iPad announcement event:

The big question, of course, is the price. I’m guessing $999 to start. […]

iPad pricing starts at $499. That’s actually quite aggressive for Apple. In fact, that’s pretty amazing. So good for them.

(Via Kyle Alden.)

Sprint ZTE Peel 

$79 slider case for the iPod Touch from Sprint, including a 3G hotspot. $29 per month for service. Interesting, but why not just buy an iPhone?

Update: My thinking on the “why not just buy an iPhone?” is that almost everyone is going to want a cell phone, too, and even a cheapie feature phone is going to run another $30 a month in service. So, once you’re paying $60 or $70 a month, why not just get an iPhone? But clearly, there are reasons to be tempted by the ZTE Peel. Maybe you don’t like or can’t use AT&T. Maybe you already have and rely on an iPod Touch and just want Internet access everywhere. And, perhaps most enticingly, it’s a real Wi-Fi hotspot, so you can use it to get your laptop or Wi-Fi-only iPad online too. It’s just that my first instinct is that $29 a month is too much. But if you can make do without a phone, and just use Skype or something for voice (FaceTime, perhaps, eventually) $29/month is cheap if that’s your total bill.

Gizmodo Reviews the Samsung Galaxy Tab 

Scathing review overall (“a pocketable train wreck”, “this thing is just a mess”), but he does say battery life was good.

RIM to Sell PlayBook for ‘Under’ $500 

Jun Yang, reporting for Bloomberg:

Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, said it will begin selling a tablet computer in North America in the first quarter for “under” $500 as it takes on Apple Inc.’s iPad.

Chopper 2 

Another game that lets you play on an iPad using an iPhone as the controller — including the ability to use a TV as the output device for the iPad. Check out the demo video.

Microsoft Will Control Windows Phone Updates 

Ed Bott on who controls Windows Phone 7 OS updates:

The official response from Microsoft, on the record:

Microsoft will push Windows Phone 7 software updates to end users and all Windows Phone 7 devices will be eligible for updates.

No equivocation, no qualifiers. And because of Microsoft’s strict control over the hardware standard we’re unlikely to see oddball hardware configurations that don’t qualify for OS upgrades.

They’ve learned a lesson from the old Windows Mobile — and perhaps from Android.

Sneak Peek at The Incident 1.3 

Running on a TV (via a connected iPad), controlled by an iPhone. Look at this and tell me you’re not intrigued by the idea of native iOS apps for Apple TV. Update: Video of it in action.

‘Like the Difference Between Buying From an Upscale Mall, or Buying From a Back Alley Black Market’ 

Jon Buys:

I love Angry Birds for iOS, so I thought I’d see how the game looked and felt on Android. I searched for “Angry Birds” on the HTC and found two screens worth of knock-offs. Some of these applications took the artwork and Angry Birds name directly from the real game. There was one game called “Angry Avians”, who’s icon looked like a closeup of the red bird from the real game. There were Angry Birds wallpapers, Angry Birds books, and Angry Birds unlockers. I can’t imagine that any of these apps were actually licensed to use either the Angry Birds name or the Angry Birds artwork. They are ripoffs riding the wave of the original game’s success.

1.0 Is the Loneliest Number 

Matt Mullenweg:

But if you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long.

The Washington Post App for iPad 

I love this trend of creating high-production value movies to promote apps.

Rene Ritchie’s iOS 4.2 for iPad Walkthrough 

And here’s the corresponding walkthrough for the iPhone and iPod Touch; both are based on the GM releases of iOS 4.2 from last week.

Kno E-Reader Tablets to Start at $599 

To their credit, the $599 model has a larger display than the iPad. But rollout sounds problematic:

Kno would not say exactly how many it has ordered for its first tablet production run–the device is being built by China’s Foxconn–but co-founder and CEO Osman Rashid said in an interview earlier today with BoomTown that units would number “in the thousands.”

Rashid said the Kno tablet will initially be aimed at 10 college campuses across the U.S., although he also declined to name them.

“Thousands”? In the meantime, Apple will be selling over a million iPads a month.

Derek Jeter’s Value to the Yankees 

Richard Sandomir:

Vince Gennaro, a consultant to several major league teams, said, “As a nameless, faceless shortstop, I have him worth $10 million to $11 million, but as Derek Jeter, I have him worth about $20 million.”

In 2011, Gennaro said, a little more than half of that value would be as a performer, but in future seasons “his performance value goes down as his marquee value ascends.”

Sounds about right. Baseball is a cold hard business, dominated by numbers and statistics. But Jeter is different. He’s a living, breathing extension of the most valuable thing in all of sports: the Yankees brand.

Verizon iPad Commercial 

I don’t recall any AT&T commercials for the iPad. It seems like Verizon is already a better partner for Apple.

9to5 Mac Reports Apple Bought Bluetooth Headphone Maker Wi-Gear Two Months Ago 

Nice scoop by Seth Weintraub:

A source tells 9to5Mac that Apple scooped up a small Bluetooth wireless headphone designer in San Francisco two months ago for an undisclosed sum. The company, called Wi-Gear, made three generations of A2DP stereo headphones called iMuffs as well as a Bluetooth 2.0 adapter for older iPhones and iPods that don’t support Bluetooth 2.0. Wi-Gear’s products were specifically geared to be used with Apple iOS devices.

Update: So much for the nice scoop.

Adobe Ideas 1.1 

Nice update to Adobe’s clever drawing app for the iPhone and iPad.

NetNewsWire for Mac 3.2.8 

Brent Simmons on what’s new in the latest update to my favorite RSS reader:

64-bit code (on 64-bit Intel systems). This may not have much of an effect, except for one big thing — when Flash crashes, it should no longer take down the app with it. (Flash is the single biggest cause of crashes in NetNewsWire.)

I’m guessing it doesn’t cause many crashes in NetNewsWire for the iPad or iPhone. And, of course, Flash doesn’t even load in NetNewsWire if you disable it system-wide.

Boy Genius Report on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 

Jonathan Geller:

Browsing the web with Flash on (enabled by default) proved to be a pretty frustrating experience. Scrolling was jittery, slow, and sometimes pages just wouldn’t even finish loading. However, once we changed the browser’s plug-ins setting to on demand (think Click2Flash), the browser popped to life.

Maybe the wrong default setting, no?

Windows Phone 7 Launches in the U.S. 

Josh Lowensohn and Ina Fried, reporting from San Francisco:

If Microsoft hopes to get back in the smartphone game, it had better hope that Windows Phone 7 makes a bigger impact than it appeared to be having at one AT&T store here.

As of midday Monday, the store had sold less than half of its supply of 20 devices.

Not good. (Via Shawn King.)

Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch on Flash’s Effect on Battery Life 

Austin Carr, writing for Fast Company:

Today, in an interview with Fast Company, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch answered critics who might say HTML5 is somehow more efficient than Flash.

“It’s a false argument to make, of the power usage,” Lynch explains. “When you’re displaying content, any technology will use more power to display, versus not displaying content. If you used HTML5, for example, to display advertisements, that would use as much or more processing power than what Flash uses.”

That remains to be seen. My money says that on Mac OS X, native HTML5 animation will prove more efficient than Flash. And it’s certainly true for video playback — full-screen video through Flash Player always makes my MacBook Pro’s fan kick in; it seldom does with H.264 through the HTML5 video element.

But, anyway, that’s not what last week’s news was about. Last week’s news was that, right now, today, if you disable Flash Player on a MacBook Air, you can gain two extra hours of battery life while surfing the web. That doesn’t mean you aren’t missing anything while surfing without Flash. It just means you get far longer battery life. No one, including Adobe, is disputing that.

“I just think there’s this negative campaigning going on, and, for whatever reason, Apple is really choosing to incite it, and condone it,” Lynch says. “I think that’s unfortunate. We don’t think it’s good for the web to have aspects closed off — a blockade of certain types of expression.”

So it’s a First Amendment issue now? And how did Apple incite anything? All they did was start shipping Macs without Flash Player pre-installed. They didn’t even mention that fact publicly. It wasn’t mentioned on stage at the announcement event. And their battery life claims for the new MacBook Airs were measured with Flash Player installed. It’s not Apple who’s inciting anything. It’s people who are realizing just how much of a drain on battery life Flash Player is.

37signals Working on New Framework for HTML5 Mobile Apps 

Ryan Carson, regarding an interview with 37signals’s Ryan Singer:

There is nothing like Rails for mobile web app development, so 37signals are creating a web app MVC framework specifically designed for mobile phone web apps. The code will be comprised of local JavaScript, with the network just being used for data. The apps will work offline, when live data transfer isn’t required.

It’s built in CoffeeScript and Eco, a new templating language created by 37signals.

I don’t know. It’s not like their last app framework went anywhere.

Google Chrome Sponsors Free In-Flight Wi-Fi on Virgin America, Delta, and AirTran 

Great sponsorship idea.

Calvetica 

$2.99 calendar app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, with an emphasis on fast, convenient event creation and a very crisp, stylish UI design. Behind the scenes, it’s built on the iOS system level calendaring APIs, so it syncs perfectly with the built-in Calendar app. I have a few niggles, but Mysterious Trousers — the excellently-named developers of the app — are improving it at a very steady clip.

Trailer for ‘Linotype: The Film’ 

“How does the Linotype fit in with new technology?”

“It doesn’t.”

RockMelt — Like Flock, But Junking Up Chrome Instead of Firefox 

They solved the problem of Chrome having a nice, simple, minimalist interface.

Careful With Your Recurring iPhone Alarms Tomorrow 

John D. Sutter, CNN:

A glitch in the iPhone’s operating system will cause recurring weekday alarms not to ring on time on Monday morning because of the end of Daylight Saving Time, which occurs at 2 a.m. on Sunday in the United States. The phone’s alarm app doesn’t recognize the time change and will ring an hour late if users don’t go into the program and manually reset the alarms.

Users who depend on the iPhone to wake them up should create one-time alarms specifically for Monday morning, said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison.

Ross Rubin on the iPadification of Mac OS X 

Ross Rubin:

We’ll know something went wrong if we have to shake an iMac to undo.

Nicholas Kristof on U.S. Income Inequality 

Nicholas Kristof argues that the U.S. is at the level of plutocratic banana republics:

CEOs of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

Step back and (for the moment) avoid passing judgment on whether this state of affairs is good or bad. What’s fascinating is that against this backdrop, last week’s election went to the Republicans, who admit that their top priority is passing large tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans. I know much has been written about this, but I think it defies easy explanation how economic policies that benefit so very few enjoy the support of so many.

Microsoft vs. Software Piracy 

Long NYT feature by Ashlee Vance on Microsoft’s counter-piracy measures around the world. Seems crazy to me how much of it revolves around physical media — counterfeit CDs, DVDs, and holographic stickers.

It’s Been a Long Five Years 

I was flipping through old DF entries last night, and this one caught my eye. In July 2005, HP was still reselling an HP-co-branded iPod. Seems like a long time ago.

Update: John Nack, via Twitter: “5 years ago, Adobe had yet to own Flash.” Exactly. It’s been a long five years.

Fortune on the Hurd/HP Saga 

Not sure what’s going on, but Fortune published its own lengthy, well-sourced report on the Mark Hurd/Jodie Fisher/HP saga, on the same day as the WSJ. Both reports are interesting, and contain different information. The timing seems beyond coincidence, though, so I’m guessing some of the sources (presumably from the HP board) are the same.

Here’s Fortune on how HP came to hire Jodie Fisher in the first place:

When Hurd was displeased, he let people around him know, and one person who was always around was Caprice Fimbres. A former public relations account executive, Fimbres was Hurd’s “program manager,” an aide with broad sway over the CEO’s schedule.

Fimbres took on the challenge of allaying Hurd’s concerns. At some point, she began thinking about a television show she’d been watching. Fimbres was hooked on reality TV, and that summer she’d been following a particularly bad NBC series called “Age of Love.” Its gimmick was inane, even for an inane genre: “Age of Love” pitted a group of female twentysomethings — the “kittens” — against a group of fortysomethings — the “cougars” — vying for the affections of a real-life tennis star.

Apparently Fimbres concluded that experience in a made-for-TV cat fight was the ideal preparation for playing gatekeeper to one of the most important corporate CEOs in the world.

WSJ Investigation on the Mark Hurd/HP Saga 

Lots of new details on the Hurd/HP saga in this report from the WSJ:

An investigation by The Wall Street Journal into Mr. Hurd’s sudden ouster reveals that the letter contained an explosive allegation: that in early 2008, Mr. Hurd told Ms. Fisher of a still-secret H-P plan to buy Electronic Data Systems Corp.

Shaun Inman’s HTML5Audio Safari Extension 

New Safari Extension that replaces certain popular Flash audio players with the HTML5 <audio> element.

.tv 

My thanks to the .TV top-level domain name for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. If you’re publishing video online, what possible better top-level domain could you have? My friend and The Talk Show co-host Dan Benjamin uses it for his budding podcast empire, 5by5, for just that reason.

Marco Arment: ‘Developers Don’t Rush to New Platforms’ 

Spot-on analysis from Marco Arment:

The problem is that hardware manufacturers and tech journalists assume that the hardware just needs to exist, and developers will flock to it because it’s possible to write software for it. But that’s not why we’re making iPhone and iPad software, yet those are the basis for the theory.

We’re making iPhone software primarily for three reasons:

  1. Dogfooding: We use iPhones ourselves.
  2. Installed base: A ton of other people already have iPhones.
  3. Profitability: There’s potentially a lot of money in iPhone apps.

It’s a classic chicken-vs.-egg bootstrapping problem. Developers adopt new platforms with lots of users; users buy into a new platform if it has a lot of developer support. So how can a new platform get off the ground? Apple got past this with the iPhone by making it so damn compelling and useful right from the start. Not only did that get users in line to buy it without any third-party software whatsoever, but it even got developers interested in writing native iPhone apps before the iPhone even went on sale, because developers wanted to write the sort of inspiring apps Apple itself had written (and shown off) for the original iPhone.

Review — UI Mockup Preview App for the iPhone 

Even if you personally have no need for a UI mockup preview app, it’s worth checking out the website just for the cool magnifying loupe. (Via Matt Drance.)

Kevin Tofel on the Market for Chrome OS Netbooks 

Kevin Tofel on rumors that Chrome OS netbooks are set to start shipping soon:

The problem: The mobile computing landscape has changed since that announcement, causing me to wonder if there’s really a need for Chrome OS devices, or if Android has already won the day.

The market has certainly changed dramatically since when Chrome OS was announced, and with iPad-fueled touchscreen tablet mania, there certainly seems to be a lot less enthusiasm for Chrome OS today than there was a year ago. But I wonder if it might not prove to be a sleeper hit for Google. Maybe the lesson from the iPad is not specifically that no-keyboard touchscreen tablets are the future, but rather that Apple has broken the logjam of thinking that all computers need to run a traditional OS like Windows or Mac OS X. There are certain use cases where a hardware keyboard is a necessity, and Chrome OS might scoop up that segment of the mobile market.

If you wanted me to bet, I’d wager that Chrome OS is not going to succeed. I think Android is Google’s best mobile OS — it ought to be able to do everything Chrome does because it contains a great WebKit implementation, plus it has a native app layer that already has developer momentum. But I don’t think it’s a sure thing that Chrome OS won’t find a solid niche. And the idea of making notebook computers based on Android seems to have fizzled out.

Bank of America, Citigroup Said to Test Apple iPhone 

Hugo Miller, reporting for Bloomberg:

Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. are considering whether to let employees use the Apple Inc. phone as an alternative to Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry for corporate e-mail, said three people familiar with the plans.

More good news for RIM.

Dell to Take on RIM 

Shayndi Raice, reporting for the WSJ:

In a direct shot at BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., Dell Inc. plans to move its 25,000 employees over to its own line of smartphones and then aggressively market a service to help other companies do the same.

“Clearly in this decision we are competing with RIM, because we’re kicking them out,” the computer maker’s chief financial officer, Brian Gladden, said in an interview.

Dell employees will be offered the upcoming Dell Venue Pro — which runs Microsoft Corp.’s new Windows Phone 7 software — in exchange for their BlackBerrys. Eventually, the company also will offer phones powered by Google Inc.’s Android software.

Embrace both Windows Phone and Android, ignore the iPhone, and target RIM. I don’t know if it’s going to work, but it sounds like a good strategy for Dell.

Fireballed.org — Caching/Mirror Service for Sites Linked From DF 

Great idea from Brian Stucki at Macminicolo — a mirror for sites I link to from DF:

All you have to do is change the domain name in the link. So, if the link is “daringfireball.net/linked/page” then you can use “fireballed.org/linked/page” to load the mirror.

And, given today’s Xserve news, quite a nice example of the Mac Mini’s utility as a server.

(And I can’t help but be curious how it’ll handle this very link.)

‘Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design’ 

New book by Khoi Vinh on grid-based web design. Hell yes.

The Abandoned Six Flags in New Orleans 

Creepy video by Teddy Smith, touring the abandoned Six Flags New Orleans, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina five years ago. (So nice to watch full-screen HD video without my MacBook Pro’s fan kicking in.)

Update 1: Here’s an aerial photo of the theme park taken on 14 September 2005. Unreal.

Update 2: Great Flickr set of photos from the park.

Ebert on ‘Superman’ 

Roger Ebert, on Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman:

More recent superhero movies are top-heavy with special effects and wall-to-wall action. Superman is more restrained in its telling, but doesn’t seem slow, probably because it tells a good story rich in archetypes. It started something. “It is to the superhero genre what Snow White is to animation,” writes the young Indian critic Krishna Shenoi. “It is literally the film that started the superhero film genre. Without it, there would be no Batman, no X-Men, no Iron Man.”

Superman pointed the way for a B picture genre of earlier decades to transform itself into the ruling genre of today.

Not a word, though, for John Williams’s score, which I’d argue did as much to make this movie work as anything visible on screen. Effects and scenes that looked like B-movie cheesiness instead felt like they were real, because of that music.

Apple Shitcans the Xserve 

Apple:

Xserve will no longer be available after January 31, but we’ll continue to fully support it.

More information in this PDF document. (Told you Apple wasn’t filling that North Carolina data center with Xserves — the writing has been on the wall for Xserve for a while.)

Damn You, Auto Correct 

“The power is out in my condoms”.

Update: Fireballed. Here’s a cached version of the home page.

Looking at Kinect Using IR Goggles 

Interesting. Update: Here’s another video showing Kinect’s projected IR dot grid.

‘I’m Here’ 

Magnificent short film by Spike Jonze. Probably the Spike Jonze-iest thing I’ve ever seen. Set aside 30 minutes for it. (Via Roger Ebert, who has links to it on YouTube in three parts here.)

Cooks Source Magazine Proudly Admits to Plagiarism 

This is really rather amazing. Monica Gaudio wrote an article for a website called Gode Cookery. Cooks Source republished the article, including her byline, without any permission or notice. Gaudio wrote to them, assuming it must have been an honest but egregious mistake. She received the following from editor Judith Griggs at Cooks Source:

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally.

More coverage at The Guardian and LA Times (which points out that Cooks Source has not yet responded to the uproar over this; the whole story, as we know it, comes from Gaudio thus far).

Jambox by Jawbone 

Stylish new Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone, perfect for use with an iPhone or iPad. Commercial spot by my pal Adam Lisagor.

David Pogue on Microsoft’s Kinect 

Pogue:

There’s a crazy, magical, omigosh rush the first time you try the Kinect. It’s an experience you’ve never had before.

I hope it’s a big hit for them. And contrary to how I would have bet when it was first announced, it does what they said it would do.

Bill Maher Interviews Former President Jimmy Carter (Flash) 

I found this to be a fascinating interview. It’s tragic how prescient he was about our country’s dependence on foreign oil. (The video is only available in Flash, and I’ve linked directly to the Carter interview segment. But you can download the audio for the entire show as an MP3 from HBO’s podcast.)

Dish Executive Claims Hulu Is Destroying the TV Industry 

Janko Roettgers, for NewTeeVee, on comments made by Dish Networks vice president Bruce Eisen:

The model of sites like Hulu that make catchup content available immediately isn’t benefiting the industry, he said, adding that broadcasters should instead reserve catchup episodes for authenticated TV Everywhere services, and only make them available freely after 30 days. “If people decide that they don’t have to pay for pay TV, then one of the pillars (of the TV industry) starts crumbling,” he said.

In short: in the face of popular new technology, he wants things to stay as they were before that technology existed. Good luck with that strategy, TV executives.

How Much Profit Did Vendors Capture From Android-Powered Phones? 

HTC seems to be making a nice profit from their Android phones. Why isn’t Motorola? I don’t get it.

FTC Names Ed Felten as Agency’s Chief Technologist 

Fantastic news from Washington, what a great choice. I’ve linked to Felten’s Freedom to Tinker blog many times over the years. He’s a genuine expert on technology policy, and a great advocate for consumers. (Via Anil Dash.)

The Talk Show, Episode 15 

Topics this week on my and Dan Benjamin’s podcast: the Kindle (I got one), the Galaxy Tab, iOS 4.2, and the rumor about next-gen iPhones using near field communication. And a little bit of baseball talk, too — but the kind of baseball talk you will enjoy, not the boring kind.

Apple Begins Accepting Mac App Store Submissions 

Still an awful lot of questions about how this is going to work.

iTunes Song Samples to Expand From 30 to 90 Seconds 

I never thought 30 seconds was long enough, but I’ll bet the music industry resisted even that.

Update: Previews for the App Store remain at zero seconds.

The Effect of Flash on Battery Life 

Chris Foresman, in his review of the MacBook Air for Ars Technica:

We did find (quite by accident) that Apple may have more reasons behind not installing Flash by default other than the stated reason of ensuring that users always have the most up-to-date version. Having Flash installed can cut battery runtime considerably — as much as 33 percent in our testing. With a handful of websites loaded in Safari, Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary, and the best time I recorded with Flash installed was just 4 hours. After deleting Flash, however, the MacBook Air ran for 6:02 — with the exact same set of websites reloaded in Safari, and with static ads replacing the CPU-sucking Flash versions.

Two hours of battery life, just by keeping Flash Player uninstalled. (Via Steven Frank.)

Wings — The Making of Field Notes 2010 Fall Edition 

Just like it says on the cover, “Proudly printed and manufactured in the U.S.A.”

Official Twitter App for Android Updated to Resemble iPhone App 

The icon on the far right of the toolbar (and the tweet details panel) looks like a pair of underpants, no?

T-Mobile myTouch 4G Commercial 

Fascinating commercial from T-Mobile. It’s a parody of Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign, but it brands the iPhone as being appealing, in and of itself. The insult target is AT&T. T-Mobile is practically begging to carry the iPhone.

Jason Calacanis Threatens to Sue AOL/TechCrunch 

Mike Arrington:

Jason Calacanis, our former partner on our TechCrunch50 events, is threatening to sue us.

Lovely story.

Apple Support Document on the iOS 4.1 Daylight Savings Time Alarm Bug 

Apple:

To resolve this behavior for existing alarms, set the repeat interval to Never. You will need to reset these alarms for each day you need them.

After November 7th, 2010, you can set your alarms to repeat again.

The bug is apparently fixed in iOS 4.2, but I doubt 4.2 is shipping before November 7 anyway.

Shawn King Gets Email From John Casasanta 

Delightful, as ever. Don’t miss the follow-up.

Pearl Jam, the Perils of Fame, and the Trouble With Avoiding It 

Great piece by Steven Hyden for The AV Club on Pearl Jam’s rise and sort of purposeful halt in the 1990s. (Via Bill Simmons.)

Super There Will Be Blood 

As Kottke says, pitch perfect.

Don Draper Says ‘What?’ 

Oddly hypnotic supercut.

Horace Dediu: ‘What Do You Have to Believe for an Android Dominated Future?’ 

I like his categorization of “modular” vs. “inter-dependent” smartphone architectures. He makes a strong case that no single platform — Android, iOS, or other — is going to dominate the smartphone market any time soon.

Garmin Profit Up, but Exits Phone Business 

The AP:

Garmin Ltd., maker of GPS devices, reported higher earnings but lower revenue Wednesday for the third quarter, and said it would abandon its efforts to break into the smartphone market and instead focus on selling GPS hardware to plane and boat makers.

So long Nuvifone, we hardly knew you.

Not Sure About This Analogy 

Darrell Etherington, in a piece headlined “Why the iPad’s 95.5% Market Share Means Nothing, Yet”:

Right now, claiming that Apple is dominating the tablet market is a little like saying Alexander Graham Bell dominated the telephone industry in 1876. By almost all accounts, the iPad forged its own niche, and left competitors scrambling to catch up. But, as with the telephone, that doesn’t mean competitors won’t catch up.

If only Bell had managed to create a massive monopoly that lasted a century and ended only when the government broke it apart.

Roger Angell on the Giants’ Win 

Eloquent as ever.

Larry Dignan on Tablet Pricing 

Larry Dignan:

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched the iPad it wasn’t clear how aggressively these newfangled devices were priced. Now we know because Android tablets and other rival tablets can’t hang on pricing.

Today’s Apple has turned the pricing story on its head. Used to be the knock against Apple was their kit was overpriced. Now, even putting quality aside, competitors can’t match Apple’s prices.

Chalk 

Free web app for the iPad from 37signals.

Muji Apps 

iPad and iPhone apps from Muji, the minimalist Japanese design retailer. As Kottke writes, the apps really feel like the products Muji sells in their stores.

New York Times Election Results Map 

Flash app for desktop browser, and a really nice HTML5 version for the iPad. (But, oddly, not the iPhone.)

Update: TPM’s election map is entirely Flash free, and works great on any mobile device with a decent browser.

From the Department of Headlines You Don’t See About the iPhone 

Lifehacker: “How Can I Tell If an Android App Is Malware?”

San Francisco Giants Beat the Texas Rangers for First Title in 56 Years 

Last time the Giants won the World Series, Willie Mays was playing centerfield at the Polo Grounds in New York. They earned it, with fantastic pitching and clutch hitting. A fun team to watch, and worthy champions. A great city gets to celebrate.

What the Fuck Has Obama Done So Far? 

Apt domain name.

iPhoto ’11 (Version 9.0.1) 

Bug-fix update from Apple to address the library-updating data loss bug that was triggered — according to Apple — “in extremely rare cases” when upgrading from iPhoto ’09.

Ben Kenobi: Private Jedeye 

Pairs well with the previous link.

‘Tatooine’ 

“The Star Wars trilogy recreated with paper animation, set to a Sith-ly mellow song by Jeremy Messersmith.” Just great.

The NPD Group: Apple and RIM Are Top U.S. Smartphone Handset Makers, but Android Takes Big Lead in OS Share 

Remember, though, that they’re only counting phones, not iOS devices in total. See also: similar numbers from Canalys.

Amazon S3 Price Reduction 

A great service gets even better. Maybe the greatest success of the “cloud” computing era.

Engadget’s Samsung Galaxy Tab Review 

Joanna Stern:

The browsing experience on the Tab is rock solid — pages loaded quickly over WiFi and scrolling / zooming was snappy. […]

Perhaps the best part about the Tab is that you don’t have to worry about the sluggish performance we’ve seen on other Android and Windows tablets. The entire experience is very snappy, and it kept up with us even when we had four or five applications open. Of course, there were times when it would freeze up — notably when we had a game of Angry Birds running and we were attempting to test a 720p video — but chances are you won’t be taxing the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor and 512MB of RAM that much. As we mentioned earlier, Flash videos within the browser took a few seconds to appear and did slow down the general browsing experience, but once we were able to hit the play button they ran smoothly. […]

So, how about that battery life? It’s pretty good. After periodically surfing the web and reading on the Tab for about a day and a half with just 3G on, the battery is at about 20 percent.

Very different comments on scrolling, performance, and battery life than the aforelinked review by James Rivington at TechRadar. So which is it? Smooth scrolling and long battery life? Or juddery scrolling and poor battery life?

Update: Stern has slightly updated her review, at least regarding scrolling. It now reads:

For the most part, the browsing experience on the Tab is rock solid — pages loaded quickly over WiFi and scrolling / zooming on most pages was snappy. When loading a few sites — like this very technology site — we did notice the scrolling to be a bit jittery and not as smooth as on the iPad.

Disunion 

New from The New York Times: follow the Civil War as it unfolded, 150 years later. Great idea for a weblog.

TechRadar Reviews the Samsung Galaxy Tab 

James Rivington:

So let’s get this out of the way right off the bat — the Galaxy Tab is not as slick as we were hoping it would be. In fact, it’s not slick at all.

Despite the 1Ghz processor, there are some significant performance issues here and in many cases they hamper the usability and performance of the Tab to treacherous levels.

The problems are most evident when browsing the web. Scrolling down your average website is quite juddery. The smoothness of the iPad is nowhere to be seen, and our fingers had often swiped and left the screen before the device responded and began to scroll.

Runs hot and gets poor battery life to boot. (Via Matt Gemmell.)

‘I Remember’ 

The Democrats should have had this ad running non-stop nationwide for the last week.

The Android UI Dilemma: Unify or Differentiate? 

Ben Hookway on Android fragmentation:

The economic model of handset OEMs necessitates UI differentiation and Google is taking that away. For Google to expect Apple-like control on a fundamentally different business model is just unrealistic.

Here’s the fundamental question: Is Android a single platform, or is it a foundation upon which carriers and handset makers build their own varyingly compatible/consistent platforms?

Blekko: New ‘Slashtag’ Search Engine 

Competing against Google Search sounds quixotic, but eventually someone’s going to make one that sticks. Blekko’s core premise sounds appealing: they’re working actively, via human-created indexes, to keep “content farm” material out of results for certain very popular categories. Blekko’s results strike me as being pretty good.

But what’s the deal with the name? Blekko? Really?

Update: Another good story on Blekko, from the NYT.

Meet the Resistance 

Paul Kafasis on TSA:

Let’s find our balls, and then make them touch ’em.

Jean-Louis Gassée on Apple’s Next Macintosh OS 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The main cause of OS cancer is backwards compatibility, the need to stay compatible with existing application software. OS designers are caught between yesterday and tomorrow. Customers want the benefit of the future, new features, hardware and software, but without having to jettison their investment in the past, in their applications.

OS architects dream of a pure rebirth, a pristine architecture born of their hard won knowledge without having to accommodate the sins of their fathers. But, in the morning — and in the market — the dream vanishes and backwards compatibility wins.

Enter the iPhone.

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