Linked List: March 2012

SkyView 

My thanks to Terminal Eleven for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote SkyView, their amazing augmented reality app for the iPhone and iPad. SkyView has one purpose: to make stargazing easy. It shows you where the sun, moon, planets, stars, and satellites will be on any date at any time.

SkyView is a great app and it costs a mere $1.99 — buy it now on the App Store, or check out their webpage to learn more.

Readability Directs Shared Articles to Own Servers, Cuts Out Original Publishers 

A.T. Faust:

Regardless of your computer or mobile platform, when an article link is emailed or tweeted from inside Instapaper or Read It Later, those services will share the original article link (or a shortened version thereof). That way, the article’s official host is properly rewarded for its content. The standard economic model of internet publishing requires this kind of basic cooperation, and most blogs, aggregators, and apps are pretty good about citing sources and redirecting traffic.

Readability is not.

For some reason, when an article gets shared via this particular service, it ends up on Readability’s own servers. If viewing the article on their mobile devices, readers are presented with a formatted facsimile of the original content, and — though a small link of citation is provided — readers are not compelled to seek out or visit the original site. This approach neither drives traffic to the appropriate place nor properly cites the author’s work, and it violates the inherent goodwill required of such service providers.

I’ll give you the reason: Readability is run by scumbags. They collect money on behalf of publishers with whom they have no relationship, and now they steal page views too. Everyone knows shared links should point to the original resource.

Update: Readabilty has now changed the sharing feature to do the right thing, in response to Faust’s criticism. No word on when they’ll stop collecting (and keeping) money on behalf of unaffiliated publishers.

Update, 1 April 2012: My use of the word scumbags has drawn condemnation from Jeffrey Zeldman and Anil Dash — both of whom (a) sit on Readability’s advisory board, and (b) I consider my friends. I take back nothing, and judge Readability only by their actions, but allow me to take another crack at the above:

I’ll give you the reason: Readability has long exhibited a profound sense of entitlement to work published by others. They collect — and if unclaimed, keep — money on behalf of publishers with whom they have no relationship, and so I find it in-character for them to now steal page views too. Everyone knows shared links should point to the original resource.

RIM to Give Up 

Horace Dediu:

The idea of focus has huge benefits. Focus and the art of saying no are keys to greatness. However, you only succeed if you focus on the right thing. “Enterprise” is not the right thing. It’s not a valid target. Enterprise support is a feature, not a product. I don’t mean that as opinion, but as a point of fact. Focus on a set of customers whose only characteristic is a job description is missing the whole point of focus.

RIM’s problem hasn’t been focus. It’s execution. They need to ship a truly great phone. That’s it.

Adobe’s Latest Critical Security Update Pushes Scareware 

Ed Bott on the “PC system checker” promoted in Adobe’s latest Flash Player update:

This is pure, unadulterated scareware. It is designed to prey on unsophisticated computer users who have been told that they need to update their Flash Player and who are then subjected to this misleading advertising and technical mumbo-jumbo to scare them into paying for something they don’t need.

Adobe is trading on their own good brand for a quick buck. Just makes me sad.

Matt Burns: ‘It’s Time to Believe in RIM and the BlackBerry Again’ 

Filed for future claim chowder.

On Building Flipboard for iPhone 

Craig Mod:

There’s a feeling of thinness that I believe many of us grapple with working digitally. It’s a product of the ethereality inherent to computer work. The more the entirety of the creation process lives in bits, the less solid the things we’re creating feel in our minds. Put in more concrete terms: a folder with one item looks just like a folder with a billion items. Feels just like a folder with a billion items. And even then, when open, with most of our current interfaces, we see at best only a screenful of information, a handful of items at a time.

Study Tracks How Conservatives Lost Their Faith in Science 

Alan Boyle, MSNBC.com’s Cosmic Log:

An analysis of 36 years’ worth of polling data indicates that confidence in science as an institution has steadily declined among Americans who consider themselves conservatives, while confidence levels have been at steadier levels for other ideological groups.

No other trend has done more harm to the U.S. than this one.

Dell Ends Smartphone Sales in the U.S. 

Wait until they stop selling PCs.

BlackBerry ASP Takes a Nosedive 

Matt Richman:

Though the average selling price of a Blackberry has been very volatile over the last year, an almost $40 drop in ASP in one quarter is unprecedented. My data goes back to 2007, and I couldn’t find anything like it. ASP dropped by more than 13 percent in 90 days.

This shows just how bad a quarter it was for RIM: unit sales dropped precipitously but would have been even worse if they hadn’t also slashed prices to goose sales. When unit sales and average selling price are both dropping, that’s a death spiral.

RIM’s Fourth Quarter Financial Train Wreck 

Who didn’t see this coming?

Fair Labor Association Releases Audit of Foxconn Apple Factories 

Joanna Stern, ABC News:

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has released the results of its independent investigation of Apple’s Foxconn supplier based in China, and has found “serious and pressing noncompliances” with its Workplace Code of Conduct and Chinese labor law, with forced overtime as the top concern.

UDID Is Now UDIDon’t 

Just in case there was any lingering doubt that Apple is rejecting apps for this.

Jeff Bezos Discovers Apollo 11 Rockets at Bottom of Atlantic Ocean 

Badass.

Condé Nast on the iPad 

David Wheeler on Conde Nast’s ham-fisted iPad magazines.

Google Has Profited Four Times More From iPhone Than Android 

Charles Arthur, The Guardian:

Android generated less than $550m in revenues for Google between 2008 and the end of 2011, if figures provided by the search giant as part of a settlement offer with Oracle ahead of an expected patent and copyright infringement trial are an accurate guide.

The figures also suggest that Apple devices such as the iPhone, which use products such as its Maps as well as Google Search in its Safari browser, generated more than four times as much revenue for Google as its own handsets in the same period.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Google made a mistake by deciding to oppose rather than ally with Apple on mobile.

The New iPad’s Screen Is Underrated 

Dan Frakes:

My colleagues Jason Snell and Lex Friedman came to similar conclusions. Jason wrote, “Once you get a load of that Retina display, it’s hard to go back to anything else.” And Lex noted that, “If you envision yourself primarily reading on your new iPad, you may well benefit from getting that new iPad and its Retina display.”

I go a step further: The new iPad is the best device I’ve ever read on.

Agreed.

Paper 

Exquisitely well-done new drawing app. Note the complete lack of persistent on-screen UI chrome — there is a fork in this regard between Apple and third-party iOS developers. Cf. Clear for another recent example.

The tension is between simplicity and obviousness. Eliminating on-screen chrome is simpler, more elegant and beautiful. But Apple’s use of minimal but persistent on-screen chrome makes things more obvious. Big differences can result from a slight shift in priorities: simple and obvious vs. obvious and simple.

The Man Who Broke Atlantic City 

Mark Bowden on Don Johnson, the man who beat Atlantic City casinos for around $15 million — without counting cards.

Bowden is a bit misleading about card counting, implying that it’s a form of quasi-cheating (he says Johnson won “fair and square”). But card counting is totally fair — card counters are only making use of information that can be gleaned by observing the exposed cards. The difference between card counting and what Johnson did is more subtle and more interesting. Successful card counters must operate in secret, disguising what they’re actually doing, because the casinos don’t want to allow it. Johnson played openly. The casinos knew exactly what he was trying to do and they not only let him, but encouraged him.

Keynotopia UI Design Libraries 

Speaking of using Keynote as a UI design tool.

Lion’s Auto Save: If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It 

Pierre Igot on the shortcomings of Lion’s document auto-saving feature. I totally agree that BBEdit is the gold standard for auto-save behavior — it does exactly what I expect, and only what I expect.

Tim Cook Visits Foxconn iPhone Plant 

Now everybody’s going.

Jason Perlow Is Sick to Death of Android 

Jason Perlow:

When it came time for my two phone contracts to renew on Verizon, I had decided within a span of a few months to purchase the Motorola Droid Bionic and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

I had believed both of these devices would be well-supported by Google and would be most resistant to the fragmentation and carrier bloatware issues, as the first device was being made by a company that was about to be acquired by Google, and the second being the flagship Google Experience handset device for Ice Cream Sandwich.

In both cases, I turned out to be wrong.

Can you imagine being so dumb — or blinded by idealism — as to take until now to see how fundamentally broken Android is in these regards?

CNet on ‘Ultrabooks’ 

Dan Ackerman, writing for CNet, “How the PC Industry Killed the Ultrabook”:

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

No it wasn’t.

The personal computer industry backed a promising candidate in the ultrabook concept, convincing even a skeptic like myself that a new class of superslim, superlight laptops was the key to exciting consumers. Ultrabooks were well on their way to becoming the PC form factor of the future.

And now, it’s already over. In record time — something less than six months — the ultrabook term has become so overused and amorphous that it’s well on its way to being useless.

Maybe the PC industry should focus less on marketing buzzwords and labels, and more on just making good products people want to buy and use.

The Real Foxconn 

Tim Culpan, writing for Bloomberg:

Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators. We saw none of that. And we did try to find them. Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads. We didn’t get such an anecdote.

Magic Johnson-Led Group to Buy Dodgers for $2 Billion 

$2 billion for the Dodgers. Can you even imagine what the Yankees would fetch?

Asus Transformer Pre-Sale Numbers Revealed by Lawsuit: 2,000 

Android is winning.

Farhad Manjoo: ‘Why Microsoft, Not Apple, Will Dominate Television Streaming’ 

Farhad Manjoo, writing for Slate:

Apple’s television set will, of course, be an actual television, so it will probably sell for hundreds more. But why buy the TV when you’ve already got one? And, if you’re one of the millions of people who already own an Xbox and a Kinect, why buy anything else?

Manjoo may well be right that the Xbox’s maximal approach has given Microsoft a lead over Apple (which has taken a decidedly minimal approach, hardware-wise). But he’s making an awful lot of assumptions about what Apple will do. I remain unconvinced, for one thing, that the “Apple TV” we have today — $99 super-simple iOS boxes — is not Apple’s actual strategy.

Microsoft: Entertainment Overtakes Multiplayer Gaming on Xbox 

Even just a year ago I’d have disagreed with this, but it now seems clear that Xbox and Apple TV are competitive. They’re post-PC devices hooked up to TV sets to access an ecosystem of media content.

‘Stars War’ 

Hilarious Turkish rip-off action figures from the ’80s.

App Rejections Are a Lousy Way to Communicate Policy Changes 

Pretty much says it all in the headline:

The problem is the timing. Apple’s established pattern has been to deprecate a function or method in one major version and, at the speediest, remove the call in the next major version. Many developers, myself included, expected that we had until iOS 6 to get off of the UDID.

But instead, without warning, the app review process is being used as an immediate death-penalty for the uniqueIdentifier call.

Jeffrey Zeldman Gets an Invitation to Google I/O 

Zeldman:

So Google wrote to my zeldman.com address, which they won’t allow me to associate with my Google+ address, to invite me to start a Google+ account (which I already have) on my zeldman.com account, which they won’t support. And if I do that (which I can’t), and some other complicated stuff, they promise that I will then be able to participate in Google IO, whatever that is.

Twitter’s Pull-to-Refresh Patent 

I did not know Twitter had a patent on this.

Update: Ah, they don’t yet have a patent on this — they have an unissued patent application.

The Power of Keynote 

Paul Woods on using Keynote as a general purpose layout and UI design tool:

In fact, when I first started working at ESPI last July, I was very surprised to find out that designers were using Keynote for laying out presentations. My surprise turned to alarm when I found out that they were also using it as a design tool to build UI designs for websites and apps. It turns out that I was absolutely wrong. Keynote is an incredibly powerful design tool. Less then one year later, I now rarely (if ever) use InDesign to layout presentations, and I have started using Keynote almost exclusively for any web layouts I do.

The Mac App Store Needs Paid Upgrades 

Wil Shipley:

Without paid upgrades developers are strongly dis-incented from writing new major versions of existing products. Which stinks for us, and for customers.

Shipley makes a case that’s hard to argue with. (And it applies equally to iOS apps.)

Counting Clicks to Report Twitter Spam 

Ryan Irelan:

I’ve used several different Twitter clients on OS X and iOS. Here’s a run-down of some of the clients and how many taps (or clicks) it takes to report spam. Some are better than others as you’ll see. All but one of them fall into either 3 or 4 clicks/taps to report a spammer.

Lobbyists, Guns, and Money 

Eye-opening column from Paul Krugman:

Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.

iPad Battery Nonsense 

Lex Friedman, writing for Macworld:

Your new iPad’s battery is fine. Despite some media reports suggesting that Apple’s newest tablet suffers from a pair of battery-related issues, Macworld’s own research concludes that the third-generation iPad’s battery works as designed, and that customers needn’t fear harming the battery by over-charging it.

Why would anyone believe that Apple, of all companies, would design a product that gets damaged if you do the obvious thing and simply leave it plugged in overnight? Some outfits are so desperate for negative iPad stories that they’ll report allegations that don’t even make sense.

iPad and Android Tablet App Comparison 

Sasha Segan, PCMag:

Do Android tablet apps really suck? Yes. Yes, they do. We take a close look, and provide examples.

No surprise here, but the difference in quality is eye-opening. I think Mac apps are generally better than Windows apps and that iPhone apps are better than Android phone apps, but the differences there are nothing compared to the differences between iPad and Android tablet apps.

163 

A.T. Faust at AppAdvice makes a good argument why, if Apple were to release a smaller iPad, exactly 7.85 inches diagonally makes perfect sense for the display size.

Android Phone or Condom? 

Des Traynor:

Here’s a simple rule: if your product isn’t a condom then don’t name it like one. What am I talking about? Let’s take a look…

Hilarious.

AnandTech Tests New iPad Battery Life 

Anand Lal Shimpi:

Now for the killer. If you have an iPad on Verizon’s LTE network and use it as a personal hotspot (not currently possible on the AT&T version), it will last you roughly 25.3 hours on a single charge. Obviously that’s with the display turned off, but with a 42.5Wh battery driving Qualcomm’s MDM9600 you get tons of life out of the new iPad as a personal hotspot.

PCWorld Testing Shows iPad Heat Levels Comparable to Android Tablets 

Melissa J. Perenson, reporting for PCWorld:

Though the new iPad did run hotter than the iPad 2, the difference wasn’t great. And in repeated lab tests of the new iPad, we could not replicate the disturbingly high temperatures that some sources have reported. More important, the new iPad was not dramatically warmer than either the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE, even though its battery has a substantially higher milliampere-per-hour (mAh) rating than theirs do (11666mAh for the new iPad, versus 7000mAh for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 6930mAh for the Transformer Prime).

Remember when Consumer Reports reported on the temperatures of the Transformer Prime and Galaxy Tab? Yeah, me neither.

AT&T to Sell Nokia Lumia 900 for $100 on April 8 

It’s a shame they’re not selling the Lumia 800 instead, but the carriers seem hell-bent on pushing LTE, no matter how big the phones have to be to support it. It’ll be interesting to see whether Nokia can get any traction here in the U.S.

Dick Head Calls iPad a ‘Penis Iron’ 

Rob Enderle:

Last week was an interesting week. Apple announced what appears to be a penis iron in the new iPad, and folks are burning through their monthly 4G data plans in a few hours. Tim’s having his first Antennagate moment, and Steve Jobs he isn’t.

It’s getting harder and harder for Enderle to stay in character as the “Apple is in trouble and I’m the only guy smart enough to see it” guy.

‘Kind of a Letdown’ 

Joe Brown, Reviewing the New iPad for Gizmodo:

And there are many things the iPad New is not. But we’re going to skip right to the end of that list and hit you with the main point:

It is not worthy of a press conference.

“… that we didn’t get invited to.”

LG P925 Driver Updates 

As Craig Hockenberry quips, the easiest way to improve an 11-step software update process is to just pretend it’s only 4 steps.

iOS 5.1 Adoption Stats 

David Smith:

The current adoption rate hits a significant milestone. It took iOS just 15 days to get the same percentage of users on the latest OS version as are currently on any single version of Android.

How Apple.com Serves Retina-Caliber Images to New iPads 

Inefficient, but it works.

MacUpdate March 2012 Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their March 2012 bundle. 11 great Mac apps for just $49.99. At the top of the list: VMware Fusion 4, Drive Genius 3, and PDFpen 5. Each one of those three apps retails for a regular price higher than the price of this bundle.

Also included: ForkLift, Typinator, DesktopShelves, Snapheal, Boom, Phone to Mac, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, and Worms Special Edition. Total retail value: $379 — all yours for just $49.99. Offer ends March 28.

Progressive JPEGs: How to Publish Hi-Res Photos for iPad on the Web 

Duncan Davidson:

After reverse engineering the limits and then later being pointed to the documentation about the limits, a birdie dropped a hint into my inbox telling me to try using a progressive JPEG file. Within just a few minutes, several people also chimed in noticing that the large iPad hero image is a progressive JPEG. I’ve not used progressive JPEGs in years, but following the lead of the birdie and the crowd, I gave it a shot. Lo and behold, it’s indeed the ticket to large JPEG joy on the iPad Retina display.

Coming Soon: Smartphones Running Last Year’s New Version of Android 

Daniel Shen, DigiTimes:

The supply of smartphones running on Android 4.0 will increase substantially starting the second quarter of 2012, with mid-range to high-end models coming from brand vendors including HTC, Samsung Electronics, and Sony Mobile Communications. […]

Smartphones running on Android 4.0 account for only 2-3% of all Android phones in use currently, the sources indicated.

You don’t need sources for that. You can just check with Google’s own usage numbers.

Windows 8 Is Retina-Ready 

Devin Coldewey, AOL/Techcrunch:

All the talk these days is of the new iPad and its magical screen. Apple isn’t the only one who can do that, you know. In fact, most display makers are looking forward to post-HD resolutions as one of the big selling points of the next generation of displays. Other tablets are already approaching iPad levels of pixel density and it would be foolish of the likes of Google and Microsoft not to be planning for it.

Fortunately, Microsoft is well aware of the trend and has plans in place for dealing with pixel-dense displays (or “Retina” to the vulgar).

Good for them that they’re ready for it, but let’s see some shipping products before we start slapping them on the back. That’s why Apple gets all the praise for the iPad display: it shipped.

More Consumer Reports Sensationalism 

Embarrassing.

In-Flight Wi-Fi Usage Growth 

Scott McCartney:

Virgin America, which has both wireless hot spots and standard power plugs on all its 50 planes, says some cross-country “nerd bird” flights between tech strongholds like San Francisco and Boston have averaged 26% of passengers paying for airborne Wi-Fi service, even on redeye flights. Overall, the airline is hitting about a 16% usage rate. Airlines say popular activities include book downloads, Facebook updates and real-time flight-tracking.

I’ll go to great lengths to book a long flight with Wi-Fi. For me it’s the difference between unproductive versus being more productive than usual. Best thing to ever happen to air travel.

Pictures From a Chinese Gangster’s Phone 

Answers a question I’ve long pondered: who buys those crazy-expensive Vertu phones?

WebKit Limit on Retina JPG Image Display 

Duncan Davidson ran into an interesting problem trying to serve retina-caliber photographs to the new iPad.

Related: Steve Streza on Quora on how best to add 2x graphics to a website.

Carriers Whine: We Wuz Robbed 

Great piece by Jean-Louis Gassée on the carriers’ complaints about the subsidies they pay to Apple for the iPhone.

On These Rumors of a 4.6-Inch iPhone Display 

Reuters:

Apple Inc’s new iPhone will have a sharper and bigger 4.6-inch “retina” display and is set to be launched around the second quarter, a South Korean media reported on Thursday.

Lots of attention on this rumor, but no one seems to be pointing out that if it’s true, this new iPhone would need way more pixels than the current 960 × 640 iPhone display. (If they increased the size but kept the pixel count the same, it would drop beneath Apple’s “retina display” threshold — not going to happen.) That means every app in the App Store would need to be redesigned/resized.

Sure, developers would get on board and support the new size. But why would Apple want to add another vector of fragmentation? For this reason and others, I say it’s bullshit.

Tim Cook’s Latest Promise to Apple’s Employees 

Horace Dediu:

Therefore Apple’s $10 billion dollar pledge is not only a commitment to shareholders that the dilution will be eliminated. It’s also a signal to employees: for at least three years, Apple will continue to offer shares as compensation and will do so in a ratio of 1:4 of wages.

This seems like a good use of cash.

Agreed.

Back to the Shareholders 

Matt Drance:

Apple said Monday’s news was all about cash, but it was really about stock. It highlights the company’s shift from an underdog-turned-juggernaut, to the world’s biggest company securing its position as the world’s biggest company.

Agreed.

Daisey’s Upcoming Venues All Defend Him 

Disgraceful.

Daisey, Daisey, Give Me Your Answer, Do 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show:

John Gruber and Dan Benjamin discuss how dinosaurs publish digital magazines, the speed and signal of LTE on the new iPad, and the Mike Daisey fiasco.

I really enjoyed our discussion on the Daisey fiasco — a good follow-up to my piece here on DF yesterday.

Brought to you by Gitbox, Freshbooks, and BBEdit.

Crummy Non-Retina iPad Magazines 

It’s always been a bad idea for iPad magazine apps to deliver “pages” as static 1024 × 768 images, but now, with the retina display iPad (3), it’s even worse. They look terrible.

Hipstamatic, Instagram to Unveil Photo-Sharing Partnership 

Austin Carr, Fast Company:

Later today, Hipstamatic is set to unveil a partnership with Instagram that allows photos taken on the camera app, which enables users to snap professional-looking pictures with stylized films and vintage-era lenses, to be ported directly into Instagram’s network with just one click. It represents the first time Instagram has opened up this platform API to third parties, and marks a move toward letting photos freely flow into Instagram’s network from outside sources.

Cool news.

Shocking Wall Street Journal Exposé: Video Streaming Consumes Data 

It’s almost amusing watching news sites manufacture bogus problems with the iPad.

Apple’s Dividend and Share Re-Purchase Plan: The Impact on Cash Growth 

Horace Dediu crunches the numbers and comes to the same conclusion I did after Apple announced its dividend and stock buy-back initiatives: their cash hoard should still grow.

Hitchcock’s Definition of Happiness 

Sounds good.

The Overlook Hotel 

“Ephemera related to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece of modern horror, The Shining.” Caretaker: Lee Unkrich. He’s always been the caretaker.

The Browser You Loved to Hate 

I’ll say it: this is actually a pretty good spot from Microsoft for IE 9. It’s part of this campaign.

Michael Dell Should Be Satisfied 

Apple’s finally giving that money back to its shareholders.

Apple Statement on iPad Temperatures 

Jim Dalrymple has a statement from Apple:

“The new iPad delivers a stunning Retina display, A5X chip, support for 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life, all while operating well within our thermal specifications,” Apple representative Trudy Muller, told The Loop. “If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.”

Allow me to translate: the new iPad can get warmer than the iPad 2 but that’s expected.

Comparing Temperatures 

Sam Byford, writing for The Verge, “Tests Show New iPad Runs Up to 18 Percent Hotter Than iPad 2”:

Dutch website Tweakers.net has taken an infrared camera to the new iPad and revealed that it runs at up to 33.6 degrees Celsius (92.5 Fahrenheit) when running the GLBenchmark — that’s an 18.7 percent increase on the iPad 2, which reached 28.3 degrees Celsius (82.9 Fahrenheit).

As Alex Dedalus points out on Twitter, to say this is a crap headline is give crap headlines a bad name. Celsius and Fahrenheit are relative temperature scales, not absolute, so you can’t do percentage-based comparisons. Think about it: 33.6 / 28.3 gives you an “18.7 percent” increase, but if you do the math with the same temperatures in Fahrenheit, you get 92.5 / 82.9 = “11.6 percent” increase. If you really want to do a percentage based comparison, you need to convert to an absolute temperature scale like Kelvin, which shows you that it’s actually a 1.8 percent increase in temperature (306.75 / 301.45). This is middle school science.

That doesn’t make for a good Verge headline though, and neither would “5.3 degrees” (Celsius), so I suggest going with Fahrenheit — “Tests Show New iPad Runs Up to 10 Degrees Hotter Than iPad 2” — to maximize the sensational impact while still being technically true.

Monthly Reporting of Excessive Work Hours in Apple’s Supply Chain 

Apple seems to be updating this page in its Supplier Responsibility section monthly (the section quoted below is toward the bottom of the page):

In our effort to end the industry practice of excessive overtime, we’re working closely with our suppliers to manage employee working hours. Weekly data collected in January 2012 on more than 500,000 workers employed by our suppliers showed 84 percent compliance with the 60-hour work week specified in our code. In February 2012, compliance with the 60-hour work week among 500,000 workers at those suppliers increased to 89 percent, with workers averaging 48 hours per week. That’s a substantial improvement over previous results, but we can do better. We will continue to share our progress by reporting this data on a monthly basis.

48-hour average workweek and a five-percent month-over-month decrease in 60+ hour weeks — for February, the month where Apple was ramping up production of the new iPad (3).

‘This Is a Work of Non-Fiction’ 

Alli Houseworth, former marketing director at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company:

For months and months four major non-profit organizations across the US (Seattle Rep, Berkeley Rep, Woolly and the Public Theater) worked to put TATESJ on the stage, bringing the story we all felt was so enormously important — a story Mike told at least me time and time again was true. He insisted that “This is a work of non-fiction” be printed in playbills. This was to be a work of activist theatre.

And:

And to the tens of thousands of Americans who paid money to sit in our theatres to see this show that was billed as a non-fiction piece of theatre, I am so sorry. You deserve an apology from us art-makers. We should have known better. We should have done our fact-checking. Our dramaturgs should have gone through every fact in that show, just like they do with other plays that go on our stages. We as marketers should have positioned this as “based on a true story.” We should have known better. We all should have stood up against Mike and made sure with 100% certainty that the story he was putting on our stage was true because why, WHY, when we are producing works of non-fiction should we ever be held to a different standard than journalism.

Why indeed. Imagine how frustrating this situation must be for monologists who do value the truth, who are performing true journalism.

‘Being Right’ Point Awarded to Brian Ford 

Brian Ford called Mike Daisey out as a fabulist over a month ago.

In-App Ads Consume Mucho Battery Life 

Jacob Aron, NewScientist:

Up to 75 per cent of the energy used by free versions of Android apps is spent serving up ads or tracking and uploading user data: running just one app could drain your battery in around 90 minutes.

Abhinav Pathak, a computer scientist at Purdue University, Indiana, and colleagues made the discovery after developing software to analyse apps’ energy usage. When they looked at popular apps such as Angry Birds, Free Chess and NYTimes they found that only 10 to 30 per cent of the energy was spent powering the app’s core function.

For example, in Angry Birds only 20 per cent is used to display and run the game, while 45 per cent is spent finding and uploading the user’s location with GPS then downloading location-appropriate ads over a 3G connection.

I’ll bet it’s true for ad-based iOS apps too. Another reason to pay for apps rather than settle for free ones.

Apple Sold Over Three Million New iPads in First Weekend 

How many other companies have even sold three million tablets, total?

From the DF Archive: Rhymes With Ditty 

Just as “coveted” a brand now as they were in 2005.

‘With “Coveted Brand”, Dell Will Breach Tablet Market’ 

There’s an awful lot wrong with this eight-word headline.

iPad Sales 

AT&T press release:

On Friday, March 16, AT&T set a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations, demonstrating robust demand for the new iPad on the nation’s largest 4G network, covering nearly 250 million people.

That’s just AT&T — and Verizon has the bigger LTE network. Tim Cook, during this morning’s analyst conference call, said Apple itself had “a record weekend”.

Putting the I in Story 

Matthew Baldwin, who worked with Mike Daisey at Amazon in the late ’90s, quoting from Daisey’s appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher:

Daisey: People work on that line tirelessly, hour after hour until they drop. I met people who were —

Maher: Until they drop?

Daisey: They drop. A worker at Foxconn died after working a 34 hour shift…

And here there’s the slightest of pauses, as if Daisey has reached the end of the statement. But then he adds, almost mechanically:

Daisey: … while I was in China.

A worker did indeed die after a 34 hour shift. But the truth of this fact isn’t enough for Daisey; he has to then attach to it some connection, however tenuous, to himself. A Chinese man didn’t just die; he died while Daisey was in China.

The Media and Mike Daisey 

Arik Hesseldahl:

At this point, it’s hard to determine what’s more outrageous, Daisey’s lies to Ira Glass and his team, or the national media’s willingness to give Daisey a platform to repeat the same lies and fabrications without making the slightest effort to vet them.

Apple Announces Plans to Initiate Dividend and Share Repurchase Program 

Apple:

Subject to declaration by the Board of Directors, the Company plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share sometime in the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2012, which begins on July 1, 2012.

Additionally, the Company’s Board of Directors has authorized a $10 billion share repurchase program commencing in the Company’s fiscal 2013, which begins on September 30, 2012. The repurchase program is expected to be executed over three years, with the primary objective of neutralizing the impact of dilution from future employee equity grants and employee stock purchase programs.

They expect to spend about $45 billion over the next three years on these programs. At their current rate of generating earnings, even with these initiatives their cash war chest should grow.

Sitting on It 

Om Malik on Apple’s soon-to-be-announced plan for its cash hoard:

I, for one, believe the company should just sit on the cash and not worry too much about Wall Street just yet. It is important that they use the cash to lock up supplies of components for its products. The cash cushion gives the company room to actively compete for talent as well as any future startups it might need to acquire to enhance its overall ambitions.

I’ve always thought Apple’s cash hoard was about freedom. That cash meant — and means — that they don’t have to answer to anyone. Apple’s market cap — the value of all outstanding shares of the company — is at record levels now. But it only crossed the $100 billion threshold in 2007. Its mean market cap for the past 10 years is $114 billion. That’s about how much cash the company has on its hands today.

Apple can’t control its stock price; that’s in the hands of investors. But it can control how much cash it keeps in reserve. If investors sour (or the market crashes) and the stock price dips, Apple could take itself private. I’m very intrigued about what they’re going to announce tomorrow.

Dialing for Dollars 

Apple PR:

WHAT: Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, and Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, will host a conference call to announce the outcome of the Company’s discussions concerning its cash balance. Apple will not be providing an update on the current quarter nor will any topics be discussed other than cash.

9a ET. Shareholder dividend? Or a Judge Smails-style “You’ll get nothing and like it”?

Why This Is What Samsung Is Calling Ice Cream Sandwich 

JR Raphael is upset that Samsung’s version of Ice Cream Sandwich doesn’t look like Google’s:

Here’s the thing: In baking its proprietary TouchWiz skin into the software, Samsung has watered down the Ice Cream Sandwich experience and delivered a UI that’s barely different from what you have now.

I understand the frustration if you’re a technically savvy user who owns a Galaxy S II and who wants the pure Google Android 4 experience. The problem is, the vast majority of Galaxy S II users are not technically savvy, have no idea what “Ice Cream Sandwich” is, and, most importantly, would totally freak out if they OK’d an over-the-air software update that completely changed the entire UI of their phone.

Sparrow for iPhone 

My thanks to Sparrow for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their brand-new version for the iPhone. It’s a full-fledged alternative to iOS’s built-in Mail app, and it’s really quite remarkable. On the practical side, it’s loaded with features that make reading and writing email efficient. Just one example: swipe on a message in a message list to reveal a shortcut bar of actions for that message — very reminiscent of the way most popular Twitter apps for iPhone work. On the look-and-feel side, the UI is extremely polished, with a delightful attention to detail.

Federico Viticci’s review at MacStories delves into the whole UI in great detail. For a quick overview, you can’t beat Sparrow’s own demo video. Writing an email client is no small undertaking, let alone writing a good one. I don’t hesitate to call Sparrow one of the most ambitious and bold third-party iOS apps I’ve ever seen. Buy Sparrow for $3 on the App Store.

Theaters Won’t Cancel Performances or Issue Refunds for Daisey’s ‘Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs’ 

Edward Champion:

When I contacted theater companies on Friday afternoon, it was evident that they were more taken with the “engaging” nature of Daisey’s show rather than its veracity. DJ from New York’s The Public Theater informed me that the three remaining performances of Daisey’s show scheduled on Saturday and Sunday were still on. There were no plans to cancel.

But what of theatergoers who might have believed that Daisey’s story is real and who booked tickets in advance of these allegations?

“We don’t offer refunds,” said DJ.

Unbelievable.

Apple, China, and the Truth 

Great piece by Evan Osnos, reporting from Beijing for The New Yorker:

But Daisey lied. He made up things about his trip, and the show’s attempts at fact-checking failed to uncover them. It all fell apart when Rob Schmitz, a seasoned reporter who is the China correspondent for the public-radio program “Marketplace,” got suspicious and tracked down the translator who’d worked with Daisey. It’s worth a listen, but, in short, Schmitz discovers that Daisey made up scenes, never took notes, conflated workers, never visited a dorm room, and so on. Watching it unravel from Beijing makes me wonder: What does the debacle say about how we all look at China? Why were so many people so eager to believe it?

This American Life: Retraction 

Full transcript (PDF) here. Worth listening to, though, not just reading.

Credit Where Credit Is Due 

The Stranger’s Brendan Kiley pegged Mike Daisey as a liar after watching his show in May 2011:

I hate to write this: I really, really hate to write this, because I admire what Daisey does, because labor abuses in China are serious business, because I want to believe that theater can be a world-changing force for good… but I kind of saw this coming. And it disturbed me at the time, because when journalists and activists (and activist-journalists) play fast and loose with the facts, they not only hurt themselves, but the people they’re supposed to be advocating for.

Pixels Pixels Pixels 

Macro photos of the old and new iPad displays, by Dom Sagolla using the Olloclip.

Mike Daisey’s ‘Truth’ 

Truth is one of Mike Daisey’s earlier monologues, from 2006. The subject: fabulists. Daisey’s own description of the show (scroll down on the page to see it):

TRUTH follows the fictional and nonfictional stories of James Frey’s (author of A Million Little Pieces) self-destruction, the sordid and shocking tale of J.T. LeRoy, (The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things) a world-famous transsexual author whom the world learned ultimately didn’t exist, and Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet whose great works were written by warring multiple personalities inside his head. These stories are reflected against an autobiographical accounting of Daisey’s own history of lying and telling the truth in an attempt to illuminate the uncertain landscape of the emotionally true, the literally true, and the constant struggle to speak the truth.

Jason Zinoman, in his review of Truth for the NYT:

He admits that he once fabricated a story because it “connected” with the audience. After telling this lie over and over again, it became so integrated into the architecture of his piece that it became impossible to remove or, perhaps, to distinguish from what really happened. Mr. Daisey seems embarrassed by this confession, but he also pursues the issue further. Is lying acceptable when in service of a greater truth? What does truth mean in the context of art?

(Thanks to DF reader Doug Stewart.)

‘Dramatic License’ 

Mike Daisey, on his weblog today:

I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.

Except the investigations by The Times and labor rights groups haven’t uncovered the sensational things Daisey claims to have found. Worse, Daisey, in his numerous interviews and media appearances, has made these same claims under the pretense that they were factual. Here’s a transcript of his appearance on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC:

SCHULTZ: OK. What did you see?

DAISEY: I saw all the things that everyone has been reporting on. I saw under-age workers. I talked to workers who were 13, 14, 15 years old. I met people whose hands have been destroyed from doing the same motion again and again on the line, carpal tunnel on a scale we can hardly imagine.

SCHULTZ: Making Apple products?

DAISEY: Yes. And making products across the electronics industry. All our electronics are made in this fashion.

‘This American Life’ Isn’t the Only Outfit With Retractions Due 

Mike Daisey, in an op-ed piece published by The New York Times on October 6:

I have traveled to southern China and interviewed workers employed in the production of electronics. I spoke with a man whose right hand was permanently curled into a claw from being smashed in a metal press at Foxconn, where he worked assembling Apple laptops and iPads. I showed him my iPad, and he gasped because he’d never seen one turned on. He stroked the screen and marveled at the icons sliding back and forth, the Apple attention to detail in every pixel. He told my translator, “It’s a kind of magic.”

Daisey now admits this is false. This is what The Times chose to run on their op-ed page the day after Steve Jobs died.

Update, 30 minutes later: The Times has now removed the above paragraph from the piece, and prepended this editor’s note:

Editor’s Note: Questions have been raised about the truth of a paragraph in the original version of this article that purported to talk about conditions at Apple’s factory in China. That paragraph has been removed from this version of the article.

This isn’t over. “Questions” haven’t just been raised — Daisey has admitted it was a complete fabrication. Sort of a bogus move to pull the paragraph without saying what the paragraph claimed.

Update: Here’s a cached version of the original piece, hosted by Maciej Cegłowski.

‘Do You Really Think Apple Didn’t Know?’ 

29 January 2012 report by Martha Teichner for CBS News:

Daisey went to Shenzhen. Foxconn wouldn’t let him in, so he stood outside the main gate with his translator, talking to workers at shift change.

“In my first two hours of my first day at that gate, I met workers who are 14 years old,” Daisey said. “I met workers who were 13 years old. I met workers who were 12. Do you really think Apple doesn’t know?”

All false.

Rob Schmitz’s Takedown of Mike Daisey’s Fabrications 

Rob Schmitz, reporting for American Public Media Marketplace:

Cathy Lee, Daisey’s translator in Shenzhen, was with Daisey at this meeting in Shenzhen. I met her in the exact place she took Daisey — the gates of Foxconn. So I asked her: “Did you meet people who fit this description?”

“No,” she said.

“So there was nobody who said they were poisoned by hexane?” I continued.

Lee’s answer was the same: “No. Nobody mentioned the Hexane.”

I pressed Cathy to confirm other key details that Daisey reported. Did the guards have guns when you came here with Mike Daisey? With each question I got the same answer from Lee. “No,” or “This is not true.”

Simply devastating to Daisey’s credibility.

This American Life Retracts ‘Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory’ 

Ira Glass:

The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show. On this week’s episode of This American Life, we will devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory.”

Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.

Kudos to Glass and This American Life for getting on top of this and devoting as much time to the retraction as they did the original story.

I’ve only mentioned Mike Daisey once on Daring Fireball, when I linked to This American Life’s now retracted episode, and when I did, I added no commentary. I caught much shit about this from critics, who posited that my lack of analysis or coverage of Daisey’s claims was proof of my hopeless bias in favor of Apple, no matter the evidence. But the thing is, Daisey’s supposed stories always set off my spidey sense — one guy claiming things that no one else was claiming or reporting, all uncovered during a single six-day trip to China by a man who doesn’t speak Chinese and with no prior investigative reporting experience. Ends up my spidey sense was right: Daisey made it up.

Five-Time World Series Winner Andy Pettitte Comes Out of Retirement, Joins Yankees 

Holy shit.

J.D. Power 2012 Mobile Phone Satisfaction Survey 

J.D. Power and Associates:

Satisfaction levels with battery performance differ widely between owners of 3G- and 4G-enabled smartphones. Among owners of 4G-enabled smartphones, battery performance ratings average 6.1 on a 10-point scale — considerably lower than satisfaction among owners of 3G smartphones (6.7). Part of this difference stems from the fact that new 4G smartphones use substantial battery life searching for next-generation network signals, which tend to be scarcer than 3G signals. In addition, owners of 4G-enabled smartphones use their device more extensively — they talk, text, email, and surf the Web more often than do customers with 3G smartphones or traditional handsets — which puts a significantly higher demand on the battery.

This is why I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk that the next iPhone will support LTE. Now that the iPad does, it sure seems a lot more likely that the iPhone will too. And surely many people will be expecting it. But it’s only going to fly if Apple can figure out a way to maintain current (or better) battery life.

Speaking of Apple:

For a seventh consecutive time, Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple achieves a score of 839 on a 1,000-point scale and performs well in all factors, particularly in ease of operation and features. HTC (798) follows Apple in the smartphone rankings.

When is the last time you can remember the largest company in the world leading in customer satisfaction surveys?

The King’s Thumb 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, with yours truly and Dan Benjamin talking about — what else — the brand new iPad (3). Makes for a great postscript/follow-up to my review.

Brought to you by three fine sponsors: Hover, Squarespace, and Sourcebits.

Last Man in the ‘iOS Should Support Flash Player’ Room, Turn Out the Lights 

Ed Baig, listing the pros and cons of the iPad (3) in his review for USA Today:

  • Pro. Stunning screen, 4G speeds (on certain models), decent dictation and improved camera optics. Strong battery. Apps galore.

  • Con. Shooting with camera can be awkward. No Adobe Flash. No camera flash. No expanded storage.

You know it’s bad when you’re behind Adobe — Adobe! — regarding Flash Player for post-PC devices.

‘You Just Have to Close Your Eyes’ 

Benjy Sarlin, reporting for TPM on Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett’s support for a law requiring women to undergo mandatory ultrasounds before terminating a pregnancy:

The quote in question came after Corbett was asked at a press conference whether “making [women] watch” an ultrasound went “too far.”

“I don’t know how you make anybody watch,” Corbett said. “You just have to close your eyes.”

Pogue on the New iPad 

David Pogue:

Weirdly, though, speech-to-text is the only piece of Siri, Apple’s smart voice-control software, that the new iPad inherits from the iPhone 4S. You don’t get the rest of Siri’s features: the ability to set alarms, send text messages, look up calendar appointments and snag facts from the Web just by asking out loud. That the full Siri isn’t available smacks more of a marketing department holdback than technical limitations.

I understand the theory that Apple has kept Siri exclusive to the iPhone 4S as a marketing carrot to spur existing iPhone users to upgrade to the latest model. But what marketing advantage would Apple gain by withholding Siri from a new product like the iPad (3)? Maybe it is technical: not a technical issue on the device itself, which has a faster processor than the iPhone 4S, but rather on Siri’s cloud-based back end. If Apple’s Siri servers are struggling to keep up with usage demand today, with Siri limited to the 4S, they’d do even worse after a soon-to-be-avalanche of iPad (3) users jump on board.

The new iPad doesn’t introduce anything that we haven’t seen before, either in the iPhone or in rival tablets. There’s no Steve Jobs “one more thing” moment here; Apple just took its white-hot iPad and added the latest screen, battery and cellular technologies.

This strikes me as overly cynical. We’ve seen an IPS retina display in a consumer product before, but only at 3.5 inches. What product have we seen with a 9.7-inch IPS retina display? What product have we seen that gets 8 hours of battery life surfing the web on LTE?

Dalrymple on the New iPad 

Jim Dalrymple:

I struggled after the event to put the right words together to describe the display and a week later I’m still lost for the proper analogy. The only thing I can think of that comes close is comparing it to the first time you ever saw an HDTV. Remember how startling it was to go from one of those giant standard definition projector TVs to an HDTV? That’s what this is like.

Good analogy.

PayPal Here: PayPal’s Square Competitor 

Dieter Bohn, The Verge:

As for the dongle itself, well, it’s a big, blue, plastic triangle. It’s big: much bigger than the Square card reader. It’s blue: matching with PayPal’s own branding and coming in two tones, neither of which is very appealing. It’s plastic: presumably these were prototypes we were looking at, but we’re not impressed with the build quality at all. There are big seams where the parts come together and the plastic itself has a finish that lacks the subtle elegance of the Square reader.

Really looks like a rough hack.

iFixit Takes Apart an iPad (3) 

Answers one question I had: whether the display is bonded to the glass touchscreen like the iPhone 4/4S. (Answer: no.)

Apple Shares Hit $600 

John Paczkowski:

A stunning rally. Apple’s stock is up about 47 percent for the year, and seems destined to continue its ascent. Analysts certainly seem to think so: Earlier this week, Morgan Stanley and Canaccord Genuity both lifted their price targets on AAPL to above $700.

Kindle 3.0 for iOS 

Nice update to the iOS Kindle client, including support for retina-display text rendering (but not UI graphics) on the iPad (3).

New iPad Doesn’t Allow FaceTime Over LTE 

Dieter Bohn, The Verge:

Apple had no comment on FaceTime over LTE when we asked, but we’re still waiting to hear from AT&T and Verizon, who are the more likely forces behind the restriction — we’ll let you know what they say.

Honest question: are there any carriers around the world where the iPhone or iPad is able to use FaceTime over the cellular network?

Om Malik Reviews the iPad Reviews 

Nice consensus summary and roundup of links.

Chris Pirillo’s Dad Uses Mac OS X for the First Time 

Nice follow-up to the piece where he gets lost trying Windows 8. Eye-opening to see how essential it is for him to get to the Google homepage to get anywhere else on the web. (Perhaps he’s a Firefox user, accustomed to Firefox’s default homepage, which is a Firefox-branded Google web search field.)

iPhone Becomes Bestselling Phone in Japan for First Time 

Imagine how much better it’d be selling there if the Japanese didn’t hate it.

The Most Telling Sign that H.264 Is Still Rising in Prominence 

Piracy groups have switched from Xvid to MP4/H.264 as their preferred format for bootleg TV episodes.

Gizmodo Reviews the Sony Tablet P 

Brent Rose:

Should I Buy It?

No. Absolutely not. If it only cost $150 I would still say no, but that’s not the case. It’s $400 with a two-year AT&T data contract (which isn’t cheap) or a completely insane $550 off-contract. I really like that Sony was trying to do something different with the tablet form factor, but instead of getting best of both worlds, they got worst of both.

Trying something different is indeed a great idea. The problem is with companies that try something different, it turns out shitty, and they ship it anyway.

Told-You-So of the Day 

Yours truly, back in January 2010:

The practical effect of Mozilla’s current position will not be to drive adoption of Ogg Theora. What’s going to happen is that Safari, Chrome, and even IE9 users will be served HTML5 video, and Firefox users will get Flash. Publishers will support both HTML5 video (for Safari, Chrome, and IE9 users) alongside Flash (for browsers that don’t support HTML5 and H.264) because they already have the Flash video publishing infrastructure in place, and because Flash can be used to publish H.264-encoded video. Publishers don’t have to encode (and store) video twice; they can encode (and store) it once and serve it two different ways. The sites that are the most popular — YouTube being number one, obviously — would bear the most expense to support an additional encoding format. It isn’t going to happen.

So, even those using the latest version of Firefox will be treated like they’re using a legacy browser. Mozilla’s intransigence in the name of “openness” will result in Firefox users being served video using the closed Flash Player plugin, and behind the scenes the video is likely to be encoded using H.264 anyway.

That was written before Google opened the VP8 codec and WebM Project — and it’s true that Google has since dual-encoded YouTube’s copious library in both H.264 and WebM. But I think my core argument was correct: by not embracing native H.264 <video> playback, Firefox users have been stuck with less-efficient H.264 Flash Player playback.

I suspect one factor driving Mozilla’s rethinking of its stance on this is that Flash Player’s future prospects have diminished greatly over the last two years. Then, there were many who believed in Adobe’s promise of a full version of Flash for mobile platforms. Now, even Adobe has abandoned it. Without Flash as a fallback for H.264 playback, Mozilla-based browsers for mobile platforms will need to either support H.264 playback natively, or eschew it completely.

How Yahoo Weaponized Andy Baio’s Work 

Andy Baio:

I thought I was giving them a shield, but turns out I gave them a missile with my name permanently engraved on it.

I was naive. Even if the original intention was truly defensive, a patent portfolio can easily change hands, and a company can even more easily change its mind. Since I left in 2007, Yahoo has had three CEOs and a board overhaul.

The scary part is that even the most innocuous patent can be used to crush another’s creativity. One of the patents I co-invented is so abstract, it could not only cover Facebook’s News Feed, but virtually any activity feed. It puts into very sharp focus the trouble with software patents: Purposefully vague wording invites broad interpretation.

Some software patent suits are spiteful, some are just shitty, but some reek of desperation. Yahoo’s gambit feels desperate to me.

Yahoo Sues Facebook for Patent Infringement 

Kara Swisher:

In what is either the boldest gamble of its history or the most boneheaded, Yahoo has filed a massive patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook.

Idealism vs. Pragmatism: Mozilla Debates Supporting H.264 Video Playback 

Ryan Paul, at Ars Technica:

Google’s major investment in advancing its unencumbered VP8 codec gave open Web advocates hope that H.264 could still be displaced, but it hasn’t happened. The lack of follow-through from Google on its promise to remove H.264 from Chrome has eroded faith in the search giant’s ability to popularize VP8. Gal says that it’s no longer feasible to wait for the open codec to gain additional traction.

“Google pledged many things they didn’t follow through with and our users and our project are paying the price,” he wrote. “H.264 wont go away. Holding out just a little longer buys us exactly nothing.”

Exactly. Glad to see Mozilla rethinking their stance on this.

Here’s a quote from Firefox developer Justin Dolske, in a mailing list post:

We spent a lot of time and made a lot of blog posts about why H.264 was bad for the web. Leaving those who advocated for us suddenly high-and-dry doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.

“Idealism vs. Pragmatism” is exactly what’s going on here. Because as time goes on, the practical arguments in favor of supporting WebM exclusively over H.264 are looking worse and worse. No one is serving WebM. Everyone is serving H.264. And while Mozilla is both talking the talk and walking the walk with regard to their ideals regarding open video, their supposed partner Google is merely talking the talk, shipping a wildly popular browser (Chrome) and mobile platform (Android) that fully support H.264.

After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses 

They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine on new technology
And now I understand the problems you could see.

Chris Pirillo’s Dad Tries Windows 8 

Could be this has no predictive value regarding how regular people will think about Windows 8, but it’s an eye-opener regarding the risk Microsoft is taking by making essential UI navigation elements hidden until you hover the mouse in the right spots. People navigate with their eyes, not by scrubbing the screen with the mouse. It’s a few minutes long but worth watching for the payoff at the end.

Why James Whittaker Left Google 

James Whittaker:

The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

Technically I suppose Google has always been an advertising company, but for the better part of the last three years, it didn’t feel like one. Google was an ad company only in the sense that a good TV show is an ad company: having great content attracts advertisers.

InstaGamer 

Speaking of pals, my friends and former colleagues Bryan Bell and Chris Morris have just released an excellent free game for the iPhone: Instagram meets Memory. Really fun way to do Instagram, and retro Polaroid-inspired UI is just exquisitely well done.

What Could Go Wrong? 

Reuters:

CNN is in talks to buy social media news site Mashable for more than $200 million, according to a source familiar with the discussion.

Going to be hard for anyone to beat my pal Mike Monteiro’s take on this.

Hacking Is Important 

Michael Lopp:

Reasonable people are often scared by the new. This is because reasonable people are not Barbarians and they are not hackers. They appreciate the predictable, profitable, and knowable world that comes with a well-defined process, and I would like to thank each and everyone of them because these people keep the trains running and on time. No one likes Barbarians because the Barbarian strategy is one at odds with civilization. By definition, a Barbarian, a hacker, is building on a strategy that is at odds with the majority.

It’s awesome.

4G 

Brad McCarty, TheNextWeb:

It’s true, today I’m disappointed in Apple. Not because of the iPad thing. I’m pretty impressed with what the company announced today. My disappointment is a matter of something deeper – a sign that Apple gave in to a carrier, rather than standing up for the customers. Anyone with iOS 5.1 and an AT&T iPhone 4S will now see a 4G symbol in certain areas. The only problem? It’s not really 4G, it’s marketing BS from AT&T.

It is bullshit, but when a new iPad is connected via LTE, it says “LTE” up in the status bar, not “4G”, so it’s not like Apple is pretending “4G” and “LTE” are the same thing.

Via 

Marco Arment:

Codifying “via” links with confusing symbols is solving the wrong problem.

Interview With Jonathan Ive 

The London Evening Standard:

Q: What are your goals when setting out to build a new product?

A: Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.

Twitter Acquires Posterous 

Not sure I see Twitter’s angle on this one, unless they see Tumblr as a serious competitive threat.

First Prize: Two Motorola Droid Xyboard Tablets 

Second prize: three Motorola Droid Xyboard tablets.

Apple and Their Maps 

Justin Miller of MapBox on the new maps Apple is using in iPhoto for iOS.

Apple to Shut Down iWork.com, Steering Users to iCloud 

iWork.com always seemed a little silly because Apple never got around to making it work with the iWork Mac apps. They’ve come a long way in a few years, though — by this time next year I’d wager that most iWork users will be storing most of their active documents in iCloud.

Not Your Normal Beard 

I was unavailable, but don’t fret: my pal Jim Dalrymple took my place on this week’s episode of The Talk Show. The topic, of course, is the new iPad.

The iPad Is Unbeatable 

Farhad Manjoo, writing for Slate:

Let’s say you’re Steve Ballmer, Michael Dell, Meg Whitman, Larry Page, or Intel’s Paul Otellini. How are you feeling today, a day after Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new iPad? Are you discounting the device as just an incremental improvement, the same shiny tablet with a better screen and faster cellular access? Or is it possible you had trouble sleeping last night? Did you toss and turn, worrying that Apple’s new device represents a potential knockout punch, a move that will cement its place as the undisputed leader of the biggest, most disruptive new tech market since the advent of the Web browser? Maybe your last few hours have been even worse than that. Perhaps you’re now paralyzed with confusion, fearful that you might be completely boxed in by the iPad — that there seems no good way to beat it.

Exactly right.

MacLegion Spring Bundle 

My thanks to MacLegion for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their spring 2012 bundle. It’s a great deal: Billings Pro, Kinemac, MoneyWell, Hydra Pro, Circus Ponies NoteBook, GarageSale, Home Inventory, My Living Desktop, App Tamer, and WhatSize all for only $49.99. That’s $800 worth of apps.

No gimmicks, no tricks, and each app is the latest version and includes full upgrade privileges for future updates.

ZDNet: ‘Android Tablet Surge Will Be Led by Google-Motorola, HP, Dell in 2012’ 

Paula Rooney, writing for ZDNet:

Apple and Microsoft are getting all the ink in the tablet wars these days but no doubt Android tablets will be matching if not outselling iPads within a year or so.

Or so.

Netflix Everywhere 

Good piece by Christina Warren at Mashable on the implications of Netflix’s “just use your iTunes account to subscribe” setup on the new Apple TV.

iTunes 1080p Video Looks Better, Saves Space Using Better H.264 Compression 

Nice explanation by Iljitsch van Beijnum at Ars, on how iTunes 1080p content can look better without doubling the download size from 720p.

Mika Mobile’s Future With Android 

Mika Mobile:

From a purely economic perspective, I can no longer legitimize spending time on Android apps, and the new features of the market do nothing to change this.

Something’s Unraveling, Alright 

So great.

Google Leans on Developers to Use Payment Service 

Alistair Barr, reporting for Reuters:

Google Inc has been pressuring applications and mobile game developers to use its costlier in-house payment service, Google Wallet, as the Internet search giant tries to emulate the financial success of Apple Inc’s iOS platform.

Google warned several developers in recent months that if they continued to use other payment methods — such as PayPal, Zong and Boku — their apps would be removed from Android Market, now known as Google Play, according to developers, executives and investors in mobile gaming and payment sectors.

Open beats closed, every time.

Unraveling, Indeed 

I couldn’t disagree more strongly with this piece by Jolie O’Dell, starting with her criticism of the closing image of the event, a photo of which accompanies her article. Evoking the classic six-color Apple logo warmed my heart, and the message could not be more clear: Apple is still Apple.

‘New Apple iPad Does Little to Fend Off Rivals’ Advance’ 

Claim chowder of the day.

AT&T and Verizon Keep Data Plan Pricing the Same for the New iPad 

I’m happily surprised by this — I expected them to charge more for LTE than they do for 3G.

‘It’s Not Just a Spec’ 

Ryan Block’s first impressions of the new iPad:

It’s the best display I’ve ever seen. Anywhere, period. And it makes a meaningful difference to the experience — it’s not just a spec.

Yes.

‘This Article Generating Thousands of Dollars in Ad Revenue Simply by Mentioning New iPad’ 

The Onion covers the new iPad.

Netflix: Integrated iTunes Sign Up and 1080p HD on Apple TV 

Bill Holmes, Netflix:

Starting today, you can sign-up for Netflix directly on your Apple TV and pay via your iTunes account. Plus, with the new third generation Apple TV, you’ll also be able to watch thousands of hours of great movies and television streaming on Netflix in 1080p high definition and with room-filling Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

You can sign up for MLB.tv on Apple TV through your iTunes account now, too. All of this is coming to everyone with the previous Apple TV, too — the only difference between the new and previous Apple TV is 1080p.

Correction: Another difference: the new Apple TV supports Bluetooth 4, which means going forward, it might support advanced remote peripherals that the old 720p Apple TV doesn’t.

The Name 

Jonas Lekevicius on Apple’s decision to call the new iPad just “iPad”, and refer to it in marketing as “the new iPad”:

And here’s a prediction: the next iPhone will simply be “The new iPhone”.

I like that prediction.

Lightroom 4 

Speaking of cool new photo editing and management software.

iPhoto for iOS 

Unbelievably impressive software. The tools are useful and innovative, the use of touch is both natural and fun, and it’s chock full of nice little touches, like being able to choose which side of the display you want the thumbnails on.

I thought the understatement of the day was at the very end of Randy Ubillos’s demo, when he added, as a mere aside, that iPhoto is a universal binary that runs on the iPhone too.

iPhoto for iOS Not Using Google Maps? 

They sure don’t look like Google Maps to me.

Update 1: But I asked, and was told that the maps data is indeed still from Google Maps.

Update 2: OK, what I’m hearing now is that Places still uses Google Maps, but the maps in Journals and slideshows are not using Google Maps, and are Apple’s own stuff.

Video From Today’s iPad Introduction Event 

Whole thing is worth watching, as usual, but I thought Tim Cook’s wrap-up was especially interesting:

“Only Apple could deliver this kind of innovation, in such a beautiful, integrated, and easy-to-use way. It’s what we love to do. It’s what we stand for. And across the year, you’re going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started.”

Fraser Speirs: ‘We Need to Talk About Android’ 

Fraser Speirs:

You’re either buying into a platform or you’re buying gadgets. The fundamental disconnect between the apprently solid Android engineering that’s happening at Google and the actual packaging and deployment that’s happening to end-users is turning into a real problem. To my mind, it’s a dealbreaker for schools or anyone thinking beyond their next carrier subsidy.

Toy Shining 

Toy Story meets The Shining — perfectly-cast storyboards by Kyle Lambert. (Via Andy Baio.)

Ben Brooks on Readability 

Ben Brooks:

Lastly I just think they are largely a copycat business with a free model and a heavy focus on UI design over UX design.

Like Brooks, I’ve never been comfortable with the way they collect money on behalf of publishers. And their app is nowhere near as good as Instapaper.

Speaking of Obama 

From zero to the U.S. president’s daily briefing in two years.

iOS Ebb and Flow 

Chris Sauve examines iOS version fragmentation:

Some folks have told me that it is unfair to compare iOS and Android on this metric because iOS is effectively just three devices (iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone), whereas Android is a multi-manufacturer ecosystem with dozens of devices. This line of thinking is extremely frustrating to me. Developers and users don’t care that the two platforms aren’t the same. Users want the most recent features and security updates, and will demand them either directly (by complaining) or indirectly (by making a different purchasing decision), and developers want a unified base to minimize testing. Android apologists can list off the differences between the two all day long but it doesn’t change the fact that more versions with smaller share is worse for, at the very least, developers and users.

I expect major-new-version adoption rates for iOS to get even better now that Apple has implemented over-the-air software updates.

AT&T Clarifies Data Limitations on ‘Unlimited’ Data Plans 

Joel Hruska, writing for Hot Hardware, which I swear is not a porno site:

So bits of data are just $10 per GB if you buy 3GB in advance, but $67 per GB if you buy a 300MB plan — and this somehow reflects the reality of a competitive situation, or maps in some reasonable fashion to issues like spectrum usage and bandwidth availability. The goal here is to push 3GB+ users with unlimited plans over to tiered options where they’ll pay at least $40 for that use. If this was truly about keeping the network balanced, AT&T would implement a throttling solution that didn’t choke users by as much as 95% once they exceeded the 3GB threshold. It would also offer data plans that created more reasonable tiers of service. As things stand now, AT&T has a major selling point — if you exceed 300MB a month on the $20 plan, you’ll actually end up paying $40 — $10 more then you’ll pay with that nice, roomy 3GB option.

Don’t get me wrong regarding yesterday’s piece on AT&T “unlimited” plan users — AT&T’s data plans have never been fair and the “unlimited” plan was never honest.

Ed Bott on the Real Estate Devoted to Advertising in Google Search Results 

Actual search results are falling below the fold.

AP: ‘New iPad Expected to Have Modest Upgrades’ 

Peter Svensson, writing for the AP:

Apple is expected to reveal a new iPad model on Wednesday, with a sharper screen and perhaps an option for faster wireless broadband. The upgrades are relatively minor, but the iPad is secure in its position as the king of tablets.

I suspect this is a prelude to much of tomorrow’s post-event coverage, echoing the initial tech press reaction to the iPhone 4S. But if a faster processor, more RAM, a double-the-resolution retina display, a better camera, and maybe even LTE networking make for a “modest” update, then what would it take for the iPad 3 to be deemed an immodest update? A fusion energy source? Teleportation? A camera that sees into the future?

With Microsoft-Designed Touchscreens, What Could Go Wrong? 

Nick Bunkley, reporting for the NYT:

The Ford Motor Company began adding touch-screen control systems to some of its most popular models two years ago as a way to stand out from the rest of the industry and draw in new customers.

But after many buyers grew frustrated with flaws in the system, known as MyFord Touch and developed with Microsoft, Ford’s quality ratings plunged and a feature meant to increase loyalty instead damaged perceptions of the company.

Good Thing You Don’t Need to Use the Trackpad Much on a Notebook 

Sean Hollister at The Verge reviews the new Dell XPS 13, and had some serious problems with the trackpad:

The problem is that the Cypress drivers are all over the place. I tried three different versions of the software and manually tweaked every setting I could, and couldn’t find a single combination that both allowed for smooth two-finger scrolling and decent palm rejection. The pad is sensitive enough and close enough to the keyboard that it’s almost impossible not to hit it as you type, and the software’s not always smart enough to keep you from jumping a line when you do. There’s no way to easily and quickly turn off the touchpad while you’re typing, and scrolling can be exceptionally jerky, too. Also, no matter which version of the software I used, the Cypress pad was sluggish to respond to gestures like scrolling, pinch-to-zoom, and tap-to-click, which meant that the laptop only did what I told it to do after a noticable delay. Eventually, I gave up and switched to a mouse. I suspect you’d do the same.

That’s pretty much everything wrong with Windows PCs in a nutshell: dicking around with “drivers” and settling for a crummy experience anyway.

Gabe Glick: ‘The Case for an iOS Aperture’ 

I’m thinking more iPhoto than Aperture — mass market, not pro market — but I’d be happy to be wrong.

Apple Names All-Time Top App Store Apps 

Some interesting apps in these lists.

iPad 3 and Photography 

Neven Mrgan:

Every announcement of iOS hardware has included new software as well; it only makes sense, whether iOS itself is getting an update at the time or not. So, what new app will we get this week?

Photography seems like the obvious target. All of Apple’s creative apps have been ported to iOS with the exception of iPhoto. The built-in Photos app overlaps iPhoto slightly. What aspects of iPhoto aren’t there on iOS today?

I speculated along similar lines during last week’s episode of The Talk Show. My thinking is three-fold:

  • We’ve already got iMovie and GarageBand for iPad. iPhoto seems like a glaring omission.
  • A good way to predict what’s coming next for the iPad is to ask yourself what sort of things are keeping regular people from using an iPad as their main computer. Photo management is the biggest one I can think of.
  • A retina display iPad should make photos look amazing.
The Obama Poster Project 

Like Wes Anderson films? Support Obama’s reelection? Then the artists at The Obama Poster Project have some excellent posters, t-shirts, and associated swag to offer. Ka-ching.

Why Eileen Brown Thinks Google’s New Unified Privacy Settings Make Great Business Sense 

Eileen Brown:

Remember, you explicitly created that Gmail account, so you could get early access to Google+.

What a load of crap. Gmail was launched in 2004. Google Plus launched in 2011. Arguments like this show how deluded Google supporters can be when trying to defend Google’s questionable privacy actions.

And no one is arguing that these changes don’t make “great business sense”. The argument is whether they make good privacy sense. And they don’t.

Inaccessible iPhone Apps 

Speaking of Joe Clark and accessibility, he’s got strong words for some popular new iPhone apps.

The Hands That Feed 

Interesting piece by Chris Hofstader regarding accessibility advocacy groups:

While slamming Apple at their annual convention, they celebrated Google with lots of presentation slots for their Android system. As I wrote above, Android accessibility is poor at best but NFB probably got a fat contribution from Google and, as any advocate knows, money talks, accessibility walks.

(Thanks to Joe Clark.)

Mat Honan on What to Expect at Apple’s Event Tomorrow 

Mat Honan:

How important? Here is an anecdote: A major player in the consumer electronics industry had an event planned on Wednesday morning at the same time as Apple’s announcement. It was a chance for an intimate group of technology journalists to meet with a C-level executive, and to walk away at the end of the meeting with unreleased products to review. […]

Nonetheless, [Redacted] had to reschedule its event due to lack of interest. Too many inky hacks pulled out to cover Apple instead. We, the Press would rather sit in a dark room, unable to ask tough questions or actually touch and test an Apple product, than do our job. We would rather serve as a gateway for Apple’s live action press releases.

Good piece overall; Honan captures just how strong Apple’s attention gravity is. But, to quibble, the last two years there were hands-on demo areas where everyone invited could touch and inspect the new iPads — and if you try hard enough, you can ask questions.

Pictures of People Scanning QR-Codes 

As busy as you’d expect.

Christian Cantrell: ‘Windows 8: A Giant Misstep Forward’ 

Christian Cantrell:

In my opinion, the best computing model is one in which all the devices you use have operating systems, UIs, and interaction models that are appropriate for that device’s form factor and for its intended purpose with data being seamlessly shared between them. My interpretation of Windows 8 is that Microsoft tried to anticipate Apple combining their operating systems into one, and tried to beat them to it. However, I think they’ve beaten Apple to something Apple isn’t interested in doing, and that actually represents a big step backwards in computer interaction and productivity.

The recurring theme of these Windows 8 reviews: the brand-new Metro UI is elegant, clever, original and shows much promise; the updated classic Windows desktop is better than ever; the two environments don’t flow well together.

And I think Cantrell is exactly right about where Apple sees things going.

Matthew Baxter-Reynolds on the Windows 8 Experience: ‘Confusing. Confusing as Hell.’ 

Matthew Baxter-Reynolds:

Since installing, I’ve learnt to regard Windows 8 as being two operating systems. One part I’ve been thinking of as Windows 7.1. The “classic desktop” bits of Windows 8 is just Windows 7, minus the Start orb, with a new theme to replace Aero. This part is frankly superb. I can’t remember the last time I used a beta version of a Microsoft OS and had it work this well six or seven months ahead of RTM [release to manufacture, when the code is final]. Hence I’m thinking of this as Windows 7.1 — it’s really just a service pack. You could actually roll this part out and use it quite happily.

So he likes the updated Windows-as-we-know-it, and he seems keen on Metro, too, but, he doesn’t think they go well together:

What this does for you as you use it is a whole world of “wait … what?!” Trying to deal with Windows when your driving results in it flipping between classic Windows and Metro-style app is like having someone sneak up behind you and flick you on the ear when you’re least expecting it. This massive context switching of “YOU’RE IN WINDOWS WAIT NO NO YOU’RE NOT!” creates an appalling user experience.

There is no such thing as “no compromise”.

Andy Ihnatko on Windows 8 

Glowing review:

My overall opinion is so high that it has to be stated right here in the first paragraph: Microsoft has really cracked something here. With the Metro user interface, they’ve created a simple and beautiful design language that’s relevant to a broad range of devices and to the ways that people use computers in the second decade of the 21st century. […]

The Metro app interface is so free of white noise that when I launch a conventional Windows app and return to the world of menus and icons and overlapping windows, it’s jarring. I feel like I’ve switched the channel and landed in an episode of “Hoarders.”

Ihnatko’s response is pretty much exactly what Microsoft is shooting for.

There is a downside, though:

Also, a PC running Windows 8 feels like two entirely separate machines that share the same screen and keyboard via a KVM switch. I feel like I’m in Metro World and make occasional commutes to Conventional Windows World, or vice-versa. I’d like to see a smoother integration.

Who Said It? Mitt Romney or Mr. Burns? 

Another tough one.

CmdrTaco Joins the Washington Post 

Rob “CmdrTaco” Malda:

My title will be Chief Strategist, and Editor at Large. I’ll write and work with editorial folks inside the Labs, as well as with the talented engineering team already there to improve existing projects and create new ones. Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli assures me that I’ll also be working with the newsroom where I can contribute words, ideas, and tools that will improve the experience of the journalists doing work that I personally believe transcends the bottom line.

Filing this one under “Headlines I Never Expected to Write”.

Safari 5.2 Beta’s Big-Ass Tabs, For and Against 

MG Siegler agrees with me that Safari 5.2 beta’s full-window-width tabs are ungainly. (Here’s what they look like with one tab, and with two.)

David Chartier disagrees:

More importantly, using that space for wider tabs, even with just one or two open, means that you can actually see the entire name of the page in each tab. This is one of the interface issues that drives me nuts about Chrome: every tab is the same tiny, useless width, so you never can make out much a page’s name.

A clever compromise that perhaps would make us all happy: If there’s room, grow tabs to be wide enough to contain the longest page title, but no wider. (Bonus points for enforcing a sane maximum width for SEO-drunk websites with crazy-ass long page titles.)

NYT: ‘As New iPad Debut Nears, Some See Decline of PCs’ 

Nick Wingfield, reporting for the NYT:

In 2011, PCs outsold tablets almost six to one, estimates Canalys, a technology research company. But that is still a significant change from 2010, the iPad’s first year on the market, when PCs outsold tablets 20 to one, according to Canalys.

That’s a hell of a change, year over year.

Dan Frommer: ‘If You’re Still Whining About AT&T’s 3G Data Throttling, You’re Part of the Problem’ 

Dan Frommer:

If you use a lot of data, it’s only fair for you to pay more than people who don’t. That’s how many other constrained utilities work, and that’s now how wireless broadband works. That shouldn’t be hard to understand. Especially given the sorry state of AT&T’s data network. […]

Here’s the big picture bottom line: If you use a lot of data, you are clearly getting some sort of value out of it. Value isn’t free. The world’s finite resources simply aren’t trending toward free. That isn’t logical. I predict most of you will be spending significantly more per month for wireless data in 5 and 10 years than you do today. You’ll be getting faster and better service, and more value out of it, but it won’t be cheaper.

Not going to be popular with the “unlimited” plan hold-outs, but I agree.

The iPad 3 Claim Chowder Is Already Cooking 

Roger Cheng, CNet:

Apple should be blowing us away with the iPad 3, but it probably won’t.

The latest rumors call for a higher resolution screen on par with the iPhone’s Retina Display, a possible upgrade to the iOS software, and possibly a few other improvements. That’s certainly enough to draw the Apple faithful and sell a ton of iPads. But with the rapid advances that the competition is making, will it be enough to secure the company’s continued dominance in the tablet business?

Not even sure where to start here. The implication that iPads are only bought by “the Apple faithful”? Or the “rapid advances” he cites in the competition, which include “more CPU cores” and the Galaxy Note 10.1’s stylus?

Valletta: Markdown Editor With Single-View Live Preview 

You can’t shake a stick in the App Store — Mac or iOS — without hitting a few Markdown-optimized text editors. Valletta (Mac app, $7) offers something I hadn’t seen before and never considered: a live preview but with the current line rendered as raw Markdown. (Via Dan Frakes.)

Learning the Ropes 

Abdel Ibrahim and Jon Dick, “Microsoft Poised for Tablet Resurgence”:

That’s because the software company isn’t planning to simply share features between distinct operating systems, as will Apple. Rather, Microsoft hopes to introduce nearly identical experiences (or as close as the hardware will allow) to each.

If Microsoft pulls that off, and we have no reason to suspect it won’t, it’ll make a very powerful argument to embrace whatever tablets it simultaneously debuts. And it’ll do that for the same reason consumers have gone gaga for all things iOS: people like intuitiveness and familiarity; they like unwrapping a new product and not having to learn the ropes.

Windows 8 is certainly attractive and original, and it may well lead to success in the tablet market. (Where by “success” I simply mean a statistically meaningful slice of the market, not necessarily “beating the iPad”, which I would in fact bet against.)

But whatever success Windows 8 achieves, on PCs and on touchscreen tablets, certainly won’t be attributable to “familiarity” and “not having to learn the ropes”. What makes Windows 8 so interesting is that Metro is the first-ever complete break in the conceptual design of the Windows UI. (The Mac has never had such a break; even Mountain Lion is conceptually an evolution of the 1984 original Mac.)

I suppose Ibrahim and Dick’s argument is that Windows 8’s success in the PC market is assured, and that those users who start using Metro on PCs will then find using Metro on touchscreen tablets to be utterly familiar. I’m just not as sure as they are that Metro will prove to be a hit on PCs, exactly because people favor the familiar and are reluctant to “learn the ropes” of a new concept.

I think iOS-on-a-tablet would have been an utter failure if Apple had positioned it as Mac OS 11 instead of something separate and new.

Fasting to Beat Jet Lag 

Steve Hendricks, writing for Harper’s:

The Argonne Anti–Jet-Lag diet, as the putative antidote is known, was devised in the 1980s by the late Charles Ehret, a “chronobiologist” at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois who discovered that our biological clocks are cued in part by when and how much we eat. After experimenting on protozoa, rats, and his eight children, Ehret recommended that the international traveler, in the several days before his flight, alternate days of feasting with days of very light eating. Come the flight, the traveler would nibble sparsely until eating a big breakfast at about 7:30 a.m. in his new time zone — no matter that it was still 1:30 a.m. in the old time zone or that the airline wasn’t serving breakfast until 10:00 a.m. His reward would be little or no jet lag.

Research at Harvard suggests you can get the same results by simply fasting for 12-16 hours.

Edits Quarterly 

“Short narratives in film and photography”, by Ian Coyle. Do yourself a favor and view it on a big display in Safari in full-screen mode.

Rob Beschizza on the Sony Xperia S 

Rob Beschizza:

You can tell Sony is trying hard to catch up, however, because the edition of Android on it is only 14 months old.

Apple’s iOS Runs HTML5 Games Three Times Faster Than Android 

Dean Takahashi, VentureBeat:

Repeated tests show that iOS performed far better at running animations than Android. The newest iPhone 4S scored 252 PerfMarks and the iPad 2 score 327. That compares to just 53 for the iPhone 3GS from 2009. By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone scored 147 and the Kindle Fire scored only 25.

The iPad 2 beat every single Android device tested. The newly released Android Galaxy Nexus was the only Android smartphone that could handle images at 30 frames per second.

Some Android tablets performed poorly despite their powerful hardware. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 scored 65.

I wonder whether they used Chrome or the built-in (slower) “Browser” to test the Galaxy Nexus. Anyway, I suspect the iPad 2 only has about two days left at the top of the list.

The Never-Ending Stream of Experts Who Know Better Than Apple’s Board What to Do With the Company’s Cash 

Martin Hutchinson, writing for Money Morning, “If I’m an Apple Investor, I Want a Dividend”:

That’s why besides an annual dividend of $15-$20 billion (giving a 3.75%-5% yield on a $400 billion capitalization), shareholders should demand that the cash hoard itself, or the great bulk of it, be paid out to them, by a special dividend of maybe $100 per share.

If I were an Apple investor (I’m not), I’d want Apple to keep doing what it’s been doing the last decade or so.

Kottke Redesigns 

Looks great, and H&FJ’s Whitney has the perfect feel. (And Jason’s right: Whitney looks good on a regular display, but it looks amazing on the iPhone 4S retina display.)

Ralph McQuarrie Dies at 82 

Legendary conceptual artist and designer, largely responsible for the look of Star Wars.

Update: Terrific examples of his work.

OS X @2X 

Nicely illustrated post by David Barnard on retina display Macs:

The point is, PPI is much less relevant on OS X than on iOS. To create Retina displays, Apple doesn’t have to build displays that are exactly 2X current displays, they just have to build displays that work well with OS X when running @2X. For example, the current 27-inch iMac is 2560 by 1440 pixels, which translates to 109ppi. Doubling that to 5120 by 2880 pixels is not strictly necessary. Such a screen might be incredibly difficult to manufacture, and therefore incredibly expensive. Instead, Apple could build a 3840 by 2400 pixel 27-inch screen that presented itself as a pixel doubled 1920 by 1200 pixel display. That’s effectively an 84ppi screen @1X and 168ppi screen @2X.

The key thing to keep in mind is that on iOS, the precise physical size of screen elements matters. A button rendered on an iPhone 4 uses four times the pixels as the same button rendered on an iPhone 3GS — but they’re the exact same size. That’s not a concern with the Mac, because the Mac is not a touchscreen device — and I don’t think it ever will be.

Regarding Motorola’s Google-Owned Future 

Phil Goldstein, in a report for FierceWireless headlined “Motorola Exec: Product Strategy Won’t Change After Google Acquisition”:

Alain Mutricy, Motorola’s senior vice president of portfolio and product management, told FierceWireless in an interview here at Mobile World Congress that Motorola will not alter its plans once it comes under the Google “umbrella.”

This echoes Andy Rubin’s recent remarks from a few days prior, as quoted by The Verge:

Google’s Andy Rubin led the charge to acquire Motorola, but the Android boss won’t have anything to do with the company once the deal closes — he told reporters at Mobile World Congress today that he “sponsored” the acquisition but now has “nothing to do with it…. I don’t even know who’s running it.” […] Rubin said he was “painfully aware” of concerns, but stressed that Google has “literally built a firewall” between the Android team and Motorola. “I don’t even know anything about their products, I haven’t seen anything,” he said. “They’re going to continue building Motorola branded devices and it’s going to be the same team doing it.”

(The same team minus CEO Sanjay Jha, that is.)

Does anyone actually buy this? It’d be one thing if Motorola were doing well, or even if they were merely doing OK, but they’re not — they’re doing terribly. They’re losing money and are generating little revenue. What sense does it make for Motorola to stay the course? Larry Page is just going to say, “Welcome to Google, you guys just keep doing what you’ve been doing — losing money and making phones that don’t sell very well”?

I presume Google and Motorola executives are saying these things to assuage the fears of Motorola’s rival Android handset makers. But do any of them believe it?

Mac DVDRipper Pro 

My thanks to Mac DVDRipper Pro for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Mac DVDRipper Pro is a great app for converting DVDs to formats compatible with just about any device imaginable — including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Download the free demo (fully-featured for the first five rips) and check out the quick start guide for an overview of the features.

‘Why the iPad 3 Won’t Replace Your Laptop’ 

Eric Grevstad, writing for PC Mag:

That’s because, for all the talk about whether the iPad 3 will have a quad-core processor or a retina display or a VW Beetle bud vase, we already know one thing about it: It won’t be a laptop. And we know, if we’re honest, that the iPad is no substitute for a laptop. Never will be. Isn’t supposed to be.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, every time I go into a coffee shop or airport, I see people using iPads for things which previously required a laptop. That the iPad is not a substitute for a laptop for everyone does not mean it is not a substitute for anyone. That’s the key to the iPad’s success. Many people don’t need a laptop for their away-from-the-desk computing needs.

Apple: Job Creation 

New promotional page from Apple touting the jobs the company has created, including over 200,000 jobs in what they’re calling the “app economy”:

With more than 550,000 apps and more than 24 billion downloads in less than four years, the App Store has created an entirely new industry: iOS app design and development. The app revolution has added more than 210,000 iOS jobs to the U.S. economy since the introduction of iPhone in 2007. And Apple has paid more than $4 billion in royalties to developers through the App Store.

Also:

While many companies locate their technical support call centers overseas to save money, we’ve decided to keep our call centers in the U.S. The vast majority of our customer support calls are handled by U.S. employees.

What prompted this? I’m guessing it was the first piece in the New York Times’s “iEconomy” series, which focused on manufacturing jobs that have gone to Asia, and made the case that engineering and support jobs tend to follow manufacturing jobs overseas. Not so with Apple.

Update: The bit about creating jobs at Corning implicitly confirms that Apple is using Gorilla Glass in at least some of its products — presumably the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

WTF QR Codes 

Just what it says on the tin.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 

Just announced this week, available now for pre-order. If I didn’t already have the Mark II this is the camera I’d buy. (Pre-order from Amazon and I’ll get filthy rich from the affiliate kickback.) Those bastards at The Verge already have their hands on one.

Retina Display Macs, iPads, and HiDPI: Doing the Math 

Terrific number-crunching analysis by Richard Gaywood for TUAW regarding “retina displays” and the general math of display pixel density. He makes a strong case that “retina” Mac displays, unlike the iPhone and iPad’s, would not necessarily need to be doubled from their existing resolutions.

The Verge: ‘Apple TV Stock Shortages Appear, Sources Say New Model Imminent’ 

Stock shortages are a pretty good predictor of an imminent new product, so now I’m thinking there might be an Apple TV announcement as part of next week’s event.

Foursquare Says Goodbye to Google Maps; Who’s Next? 

Who’s next to ditch Google Maps? Drawing a total blank here; can’t think of any Google Maps-using platform from a company with a tempestuous relationship with Google.

Yay Codes 

“A free service that makes it painless for developers to distribute promo codes to their customers.” I often hear from developers that managing App Store promo codes is a pain in the ass.

‘Welcome to the Mutually Incompatible, Silo-Based, Platform-Dependent and User-Unfriendly Future of Books.’ 

Mathew Ingram on the e-book landscape:

As we’ve described before, Apple and Amazon come at the e-book market from different perspectives: Apple sees books as just another form of content that it can use to sell iPads and other devices, whereas Amazon sees devices like the Kindle and the Kindle Fire as ways it can lock people into its content ecosystem and sell them more books, movies and so on. But both are dependent on having users locked into their products, and so they make it as difficult as possible to move from one to the other.

This is pretty much why I was so down on DRM e-books all along, and why I like Nick Carr’s idea to bundle e-books as downloads that accompany good old-fashioned printed books.

Lego Robot Solves Rubik’s Cube in 5 Seconds 

Not bad.

How Sandboxing and Gatekeeper Will Affect AppleScript 

Lex Friedman:

To the average user, the two new security technologies coming to OS X this year — sandboxing and Gatekeeper — should be virtually invisible. But they could be all too visible to more advanced users, particularly those who use AppleScript and Automator.

Fewer Than One Million Google TV Devices in Use? 

Janko Roettgers, GigaOM:

Google TV comes with a number of pre-installed apps, which are also listed on the Android Market. One example of this is the TV and Movies app, which is basically Google TV’s programming guide — an essential part of the Google TV experience that most users wouldn’t dare to delete from their machines. The active install base for this app, according to Google’s Android Market, currently is 500,000 to 1 million. The same is true for all the other apps that come pre-installed with Google TV, which suggests that the number of Google TV devices that are currently being used by consumers is less than 1 million.

Clock’s ticking on this prediction from Eric Schmidt.

More on Apple’s Rejection of Seth Godin’s Book for Linking to Amazon 

Brian Ford:

Clearly, a hypothetical customer who purchases Stop Stealing Dreams from the iBookstore 1) prefers (or at least enjoys) ebooks and 2) has chosen Apple’s offering over utilizing the freely available Kindle app. Common sense, then, says you cater to that customer’s established preference, right?

Opinions on this (and regarding my take on it) are all over the map. Some agree, but a bunch of others see Apple’s decision as blatant censorship. Glenn Fleishman tweets:

@gruber I don’t buy the iBookstore/B&N equivalency. Apple is asking for books to be changed b/c content doesn’t accord w/commercial policy.

There are other problems with my analogy yesterday to a brick-and-mortar bookstore not wanting to carry a book that contained coupons for buying books in a competitor’s store. Links to Amazon from an iBooks book are more like teleporting you into the competing store. And e-book stores are stores you never really leave — so long as you have a network connection, you’re never more than a tap or two away from the store. I don’t think Apple needs to sweat over links to Amazon.

Also, for those criticizing my take yesterday: I didn’t say I agreed with Apple’s decision. I simply pointed out the ways how I could see where they were coming from. I still don’t see this as over-the-line censorship, but I don’t think Apple should concern itself with links to Amazon. My recommendation would have been for Apple to suggest to Godin that he change the links to point to iBookstore versions of the books, but if Godin didn’t want to, to let it slide.

Photoshop Touch for the iPad 

Talk about the ways the iPad is revolutionizing computing — we now have a version of Photoshop that costs $10 and is no hassle to install. This app’s been out for Android tablets for a few months. I’d love to see the sales difference.

(And to be fair to Adobe, Lightroom has a very good installer.)

Coffee and Trucker Pills 

This week’s episode of The Talk Show, and it’s a good one. Topics include clicky keyboards (including the new made-for-Mac Das Keyboard) and next week’s iPad event in San Francisco.

Brought to you by two fine sponsors: TinyLetter and Shopify.

Give It Five Minutes 

Jason Fried:

Dismissing an idea is so easy because it doesn’t involve any work. You can scoff at it. You can ignore it. You can puff some smoke at it. That’s easy. The hard thing to do is protect it, think about it, let it marinate, explore it, riff on it, and try it. The right idea could start out life as the wrong idea.

Update: Good follow-up rule of thumb from Dustin Curtis.

Olloclip vs. iPro Lens Review 

Speaking of Abdel Ibrahim, I’ve been meaning to link to his detailed comparison of the Olloclip and iPro Lens camera attachments for the iPhone 4 and 4S:

There’s no question that the iPro Lens takes better pictures, and its handle gives it a leg up on videos, too. The Olloclip, on the other hand, comes in a much smaller, more convenient package that outshined the iPro when I was on the go.

New Instapaper Bookmarklet With Multi-Page Article Saving 

Marco Arment:

The previous little “Saved!” frame had a great run, but its time has passed. Readers are now saving more pages than ever on tablets and phones, and the old bookmarklet wasn’t visible enough there. Instapaper’s customers would often complain that they didn’t even see the old bookmarklet working.

So the bookmarklet now sports a completely new design that’s highly visible at every screen size, and works in more browsers, too.

Nice. And this is a clever bit of foresight:

You don’t need to reinstall your Read Later bookmarklet to get this update. It applies automatically to the one you already have.

New Tablets From Samsung and Sony 

Abdel Ibrahim and Jon Dick, writing for The Tech Block:

When Samsung made its latest Galaxy Tab pitch, for instance, instead of giving consumers reason to overlook the rest of the Tab family’s disappointing performance, the company overshadowed the tablet’s 7.7-inch, LTE credentials with this fuckup: The Galaxy tab 7.7 will set you back a minimum $499, and that’s with a 2-year contract. If you say to hell with carriers, the price of the puny tablet swells to an eye-watering, deal-breaking $699.

And Sony, already bleeding money, is similarly stupid. Its Tablet P, a 5.5-inch tablet with a Nintendo DS-like ability to fold in half, will price itself off the market with a 399-dollar contract tag, and that price skyrockets to $549 without a contract.

Perhaps Sony and Samsung aren’t stupid, though. Perhaps they simply can’t afford to sell these tablets for less. Don’t underestimate Apple’s supply chain and economy-of-scale advantages. (But if that’s the case, one could argue they’re stupid for even trying. If you can’t make something at a competitive price, why make it?)

But these guys are right that these prices seem like non-starters. The iPad is better, bigger, has more apps and better apps, and is cheaper. The fact that these tablets are only price competitive with the iPad when they’re bought with a two-year contract is a killer. People aren’t stupid. People hate contracts.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview 

Good demo movies showing how the new Metro UI in Windows 8 works, both for touch and with a mouse and keyboard.

David Pierce Reviews the Lytro 

Light field technology may be the future of photography, but the future isn’t here yet.

The Loop Joins The Deck 

Jim Dalrymple:

I’m very happy to announce that as of March 1, 2012, The Loop has joined the exclusive ad network, The Deck.

Ads via The Deck Ads via The Deck