Linked List: October 2013

FAA to Allow Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics 

FAA press release:

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled — i.e., no signal bars displayed — and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones.

Finally.

Samsung Ekes Out iPad to Top J.D. Power Tablet Satisfaction Study 

Seems strange, given that the iPad scored top marks in every single category other than cost, and Samsung didn’t score top marks in any category, including cost. But a win’s a win. Guess I’m switching.

iPhone 5S vs. Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera Shootout 

Laptop Magazine:

The iPhone 5s conclusively beat the Nokia Lumia 1020 in our photo face-off, taking seven out of 10 rounds–and tying one. Even after updating the Lumia 1020′s camera software, which reduced issues with the blue color cast on many images, colors were still more accurate on the iPhone. Apple’s device also excelled when delivering detail and contrast.

The advantage that the Lumia 1020 has is that you can recompose your shot after you take it because of the phone’s very high 41-MP resolution. Overall, though, the iPhone 5s snapped better-looking images in a wider range of conditions.

Classic Mac OS in the Browser 

Amazing JavaScript port of the PCE emulator, by James Friend.

Felix Salmon: ‘Apple Should Be Like Bloomberg’ 

Felix Salmon:

But here’s the thing: Tim Cook is a caretaker of a company which is designed to be around in perpetuity. Icahn, on the other hand, for all that he claims that “there is nothing short term” about his intentions, still has an exit strategy: he wants to buy low, drive the share price up through shareholder activism, and sell high. Apple should go along with Icahn’s plans only if they increase the long-term value of the company — and it’s pretty obvious that they don’t: Icahn is, at heart, advising Apple to have both large borrowings and a large cash pile at the same time. Which is bonkers.

Easily the best piece I’ve read regarding Carl Icahn’s desire to see Apple mortgage itself, and, really, a spot-on big-picture summary of what Apple is and should be:

Debt makes sense when you need money to invest today, and can repay that money with a substantial future income stream. Apple is in the exact opposite situation: it needs no money to invest today, while its long-term future income stream is quite uncertain. So it makes sense to save up in flush years, like it has been doing. It will continue to create amazing new products; what’s less clear is whether any of those new products will have the ability to become a world-conquering profit monster like the iPhone. The job of the markets is simply to price the shares accordingly; it’s not the job of management to change the deep structure of the company just to make the markets happy.

Ashton Kutcher Joins Lenovo as ‘Product Engineer’ 

Jon Swartz, reporting for USA Today:

Engineers are at a premium, yet Lenovo landed a new product engineer and celebrity pitchman when it inked a partnership with Ashton Kutcher on Tuesday night.

“It’s somewhat of a dual role,” Kutcher told USA Today in a phone interview hours before a live-streaming broadcast to announce his appointment and the introduction of the PC maker’s Yoga Tablet. Shortly after the event, Kutcher was scheduled to fly to China to meet with Lenovo engineers and executives.

Like my pal Mike Monteiro quipped last night, “What’s particularly sad about this is Lenovo thinks they hired Steve Jobs.”

Ben Bajarin on the iPad Air: ‘A Truly Mass Market Personal Computer’ 

Ben Bajarin:

Every year, I field many questions from friends and family on whether I can recommend that they buy an iPad rather than a new notebook. Of course, this question has to be followed with another question related to how they primarily use their notebook. If you sit at a desk all day, use a keyboard and mouse to input, and run software that requires a hard-core Intel or AMD processor then you probably need a notebook or desktop. However, for most consumers when they are at home or even if they don’t have a desk job, the iPad is the ideal personal computer.

The way I see the iPad taking over the mass market from laptop PCs is subtly. I think it’s more about people hanging on to old laptops for legacy tasks, spending their money now on new iPads, and then using their old laptops less and less over time. I can tell from my email and Twitter feedback that there is much skepticism among some of you about the iPad as a full-on PC replacement, but if you’re thinking about this trend as switching cold turkey, dropping all Windows/Mac usage in lieu of iOS in one fell swoop, you’re thinking about it wrong. It’s a subtle weaning. And as I wrote in my review yesterday, this year’s A7-powered iPads are going to accelerate the trend.

Fantastical 2 for iPhone 

Great iOS 7 update to my favorite iPhone calendar app. Looks great, works great, and now integrates iOS reminders. $4.99 regularly, but available for just $2.99 for a limited time.

AnandTech: The iPad Air Review 

Great review by Anand Lal Shimpi. Most telling line:

I’m still vetting other SoCs, but so far I haven’t come across anyone in the ARM camp that can compete with what Apple has built here. Only Intel is competitive.

Remember too, that Apple has only been in the custom ARM silicon game since the A4 in 2010.

Oh, and guess who just announced they’re going to start making ARM chips?

Second-Gen Google Glass Looks Even Dorkier Than the Original 

And here’s a sneak peek at a prototype of the upcoming third-gen model.

Motorola Ara: Modular Phone Design 

Remember that Phonebloks concept design I linked to last month? Ends up Motorola has been working on something along those lines. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for this to actually produce a competitive device, but it’s certainly an intriguing idea.

The Great Apple Lull 

Dan Frommer:

And it’s not that Apple has stopped innovating. One particularly impressive feat — which will never get the appreciation it deserves — is that in half a decade, Apple has scaled from a company that can reliably design, produce, sell, and support 75 million gadgets in a year to one that can move that many in three months. (The first time Apple sold 9 million iPhones in a quarter was three years ago — September, 2010. This year, it shipped 9 million iPhones in a single weekend.) This despite increasing competence and competition from Google, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft.

But where Apple has disappointed recently is in novelty, or surprise. Perhaps this is unfair, but it’s real. Apple became the company that delivered “new”. People got used to hearing about new stuff all the time — iPod nanos, iPhones, MacBook Airs, iPads — and now it seems like it’s been a while. The more people got, the more they wanted.

No, Apple’s Not Trying to ‘Bust Your Phone’ 

This is what the world has come to: the New York Times is printing jacktastic nonsense in its Sunday magazine, alleging that Apple purposefully sets old iPhones to slow down and lose battery life when new iPhone models hit the market; and it’s up to Gizmodo to set them straight. Cats are chasing dogs.

Apple’s Quarter in Charts 

Interesting to me: in terms of revenue, iPad is only slightly ahead of Mac. (iPod is down to just a sliver.) A year ago, I’d have expected iPad revenue to be closer to iPhone than to Mac by now.

Apple Q4 2013 Results 

Apple:

The Company posted quarterly revenue of $37.5 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.5 billion, or $8.26 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $36 billion and net profit of $8.2 billion, or $8.67 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 37 percent compared to 40 percent in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 60 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

The Company sold 33.8 million iPhones, a record for the September quarter, compared to 26.9 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple also sold 14.1 million iPads during the quarter, compared to 14 million in the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 4.6 million Macs, compared to 4.9 million in the year-ago quarter.

It’ll be interesting to see whether iPad sales are flat because their popularity has peaked, or because people were waiting for the new models. My guess is the latter. Update: Sounds like Tim Cook thinks so too, saying on Apple’s quarterly conference call, “It’s going to be an iPad Christmas.”

This style seems a bit nutty to me, but I know the crew at TidBITS have sworn by it for years.

‘Cups of Water’ 

John Lilly:

Sometimes people call Apple a hardware company, but that’s not quite right. Others have said they’re a software company, pointing out that it’s the quality of the software experience that really sets them apart, but that’s not quite right either. Having watched Apple for nearly 30 years now, and having worked at 1 Infinite Loop, I really think they think of themselves as a personal computing systems company and always have. They sell systems that work. Samsung, by contrast, sells hardware — they’re not as complete in their systems ambitions as Apple.

Regarding iPhone Touchscreen Accuracy 

Nick Arnott, regarding the results of a robot-driven test that suggested the Galaxy S3 has vastly superior touchscreen accuracy to the iPhone 5S and 5C:

I haven’t been able to find official documentation on this, but I think this behavior is intentional compensation being done by Apple. Have you ever tried tapping on an iPad or iPhone while it’s upside-down to you, like when you’re showing something to a friend and you try tapping while they’re holding the device? It seems nearly impossible. The device never cooperates. If the iPhone is compensating for taps based on assumptions about how it is being held and interacted with, this would make total sense. If you tap on a device while it’s upside-down, not only would you not receive the benefit of the compensation, but it would be working against you. Tapping on the device, the iPhone would assume you meant to tap higher, when in reality, you’re upside down and likely already tapping higher than you mean to, resulting in you completely missing what you’re trying to tap.

There’s no doubt in my mind that iOS touch recognition is offset in this way. It is interesting, though, that the test results suggest that the iPhone has a built-in right thumb bias.

Update: A little birdie tells me they “don’t think there’s a right-thumb bias” in iOS. Could just be a problem in OptoFidelity’s testing, which is impossible to prove given the dearth of documentation provided about how the tests were actually performed.

Apple Presents Video About New Headquarters Ahead of Cupertino City Council Vote 

Skip to around the 3:30 mark or so. Starts and ends with audio clips of Steve Jobs talking about the endeavor — to my recollection, this is the first time since his death that Apple has used his voice or image.

Exploring the New iWork for Mac File Formats 

Interesting post by Nick Heer, looking into the new iWork document formats. The big change is that most document data is now spread across a series of small binary files, as opposed to the single XML files the iWork app used previously.

Drew McCormack, following up on Heer’s piece:

The post concludes that it is unclear why Apple would take this apparently backward step.

I don’t know for sure, but I think I can take a pretty good guess at why they have done it. It has nothing to do with being malicious, or trying to stop people seeing into the document’s format, and it has everything to do with iCloud and iOS devices.

And for good measure, Michael Tsai on the file sizes and document read/write performance of Numbers 09, Numbers 13, and Excel 2011.

How to Avoid Big International iPhone Data Charges 

Good advice from Jason Snell.

‘Repetition Is the Death of Magic’ 

Jake Rossen scored a rare interview with Calvin and Hobbes author Bill Watterson:

You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic.

Interesting to think about that in the context of the seemingly growing spate of complaints about the familiarity and predictability of Apple keynotes.

20th Century Headlines Rewritten to Get More Clicks 

1955: “Avoid Polio With This One Weird Trick”.

‘iPad Square’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, featuring special guest Dan Frommer. We analyze last week’s Apple announcements: the event itself, the new iPads, new MacBook Pros, the controversial new iWork suite, and more.

Brought to you by three great sponsors:

  • An Event Apart: The design conference for people who make websites.

  • Mailroute: Innovative cloud email protection.

  • Squarespace: Everything you need to build exceptional websites.

How Times Change 

An excerpt from John Buck’s Timeline, on the announcement of QuickTime at WWDC in 1990:

Casey announced that QuickTime would allow the Macintosh to be the premier platform for digital media, and in doing so pre-empt Microsoft’s release of multimedia extensions to Windows 3.0.

In his own summary at the conference, John Sculley promised:

…the next generation of breakthrough applications will be on the Mac.

Sculley did not mention that work on QuickTime had not even started.

Announced with just a name.

With iWork, Apple Walks It Back Before Moving Forward 

Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch:

Lots of folks are getting all worked up about iWork being “dumbed down,” but it feels like a reset to me. I can see this playing out pretty much like Apple’s recent Final Cut Pro X re-thinking. That app was introduced in a radically simplified and streamlined form that caused immediate outcry. Over time, Apple has steadily added back features that were missing from the early dramatic redesign of the pro video-editing suite. A handful of mishandled decisions like pulling the old version of FCP too soon caused unnecessary friction there, but recent updates to FCPX have made it a very viable choice for professionals again.

The most telling thing about Apple’s expectations for this version of iWork: when you upgrade, it leaves your existing copies of the iWork 09 apps in place.

Glove.ly 

My thanks to Glove.ly for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Glove.ly designs warm, stylish gloves that work with your touchscreen. They’re available in a variety of styles and colors, including leather and lined or unlined wool blends. They look like regular gloves and work with your whole hand, so you can use your phone in the cold.

Lovely design details abound, including magnets cleverly hidden inside the logo to keep your gloves together when you aren’t wearing them, and a care label that doubles as a screen cleaner.

They’re perfect for any smartphone user in cold climates, and make for a great gift.

Product RED Mac Pro 

One of a kind, estimated price: $40,000 to $60,000. And gorgeous.

(Via Matthew Panzarino.)

Theodolite Goes to the Great Wall of China 

Craig Hunter:

So there I was on Tuesday, sitting on the living room floor with my 7-month-old daughter, watching Apple’s Special Event live stream on my MacBook while we played with some toys. About an hour into the Keynote, Tim Cook put up a “Life on iPad” video to show some amazing things customers have been doing with their iPads.

I imagine every developer sees these videos and hopes their app shows up; I know I always have. But in this case, something felt different. In addition to the usual feel-good stuff Apple always shows, they were demonstrating serious uses of the iPad, in settings ranging from medical to industrial, to hard-core sports and the outdoors. A couple minutes into the video, I was shocked to see my signature app, Theodolite HD, being used atop the Great Wall of China as an iPad user surveys the mountain scenery and architecture around him. Wow!

Bloomberg Estimates Major League Baseball Team Valuations 

Sorting by wins provides an interesting perspective.

Qualcomm Marketing Chief Who Called 64-Bit A7 a ‘Gimmick’ Reassigned 

Brooke Crothers, reporting for CNet:

“Anand Chandrasekher, is moving to a new role leading our exploration of certain enterprise related initiatives…Anand will continue to report to Steve Mollenkopf, COO and President of Qualcomm. This will be effective immediately,” according to a statement Qualcomm sent to CNET.

And he no longer appears on the Qualcomm leadership page.

Federico Viticci on Tweetbot 3 

Copiously detailed and illustrated review. Here Viticci sings the praises of one of my own favorite new features:

Now, whenever you follow a link, a web view will be opened and confined to the tab it’s been launched from. If you open a link from your timeline, you can switch to the Mentions tab and do something else; if you open a link from a DM, you can go back to the timeline and read tweets while the page is loading.

This change to the app’s navigation makes for an incredibly more convenient workflow for people who, like me, deal with links every day and found it cumbersome to be forced to wait for a page to load, act on it, then close it. The “multitasking” experience inside Tweetbot is much improved because of this change and, in comparison, the old app’s way of handling web views looks silly now. For me, this has been particularly handy when receiving DMs: I get a lot of direct messages every day, and with Tweetbot 3 I’m no longer forced to close a webpage I’m reading if I have to reply to a DM immediately.

‘They Are the Featurephones of Tablets’ 

Great piece by Benedict Evans:

But there’s also another proposition, a $75-$150 black generic Chinese Android tablet, half the price of a Nexus 7. That proposition is also selling in huge numbers, but it appears to come with a very different type of use.

Why are people buying these? What are they being used for? They’re mostly in China (that’s the pink bar above) and emerging markets and in lower income groups in the west. And it seems that they’re being used for a little bit of web, and a bit of free gaming. Perhaps some book reading. And a LOT of video consumption. In fact, one might argue that for many buyers, these compete with TVs, not iPads, Nexuses and Tabs. But regardless of what they’re being used for, they’re not being used the way iPads are used. In effect, they are the featurephones of tablets.

If this theory is correct, it suggests that Apple’s $300 Mini really isn’t a competitive problem, because the iPad doesn’t yet face a strong competitive threat (quite unlike the iPhone). Rather, there are actually two quite different markets: the post-PC vision, where Apple is dominant, and a ultra-low margin product that’s also called a tablet but which is really a totally different product.

In short, Apple’s share of the overall “tablet” market is shrinking, fast. But the part of the market where the iPad is not dominating is nothing at all like the part where it is.

Matthew Panzarino on Tweetbot 3 

Matthew Panzarino:

That sense of joy permeates the app, with subtle animations and wonderfully redone audio cues. Everything is lighter, brighter and more readable overall. Within a couple of days of using the new app it was nearly impossible for me to look at the old version of Tweetbot for any extended period. It felt dark, static and very, very old. Part of this is the natural effect that iOS 7′s ‘shock to the system’ has had on all apps, but a lot more of it is a careful re-evaluation of what makes Tweetbot work.

Former Spy Chief Overheard Giving Off-the-Record Interview From Train 

Tom McCarthy, reporting for The Guardian:

The former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden ended up on the wrong end of a surveillance stakeout on Thursday afternoon when, while riding a commuter train, he was overheard “disparaging” the Obama administration. The over-hearer was a private citizen — Tom Matzzie, an entrepreneur who previously worked for MoveOn.org and John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Hayden was aboard an Acela train outside Philadelphia and talking by phone with a reporter when Matzzie, who was sitting nearby, recognized him. Matzzie heard Hayden insist to the reporter that he be quoted anonymously, as a “former senior administration official”.

Then Matzzie began live-tweeting as the nation’s former top spy badmouthed the Obama administration, apparently in connection with the revelation hours earlier that NSA had monitored the phone calls of at least 35 world leaders’ telephone lines.

It’s like a scene from a modern day sequel to Dr. Strangelove.

Tweetbot 3 for iPhone 

Lots to like in this iOS 7 update to Tapbots’ acclaimed Twitter client. I’ve been beta-testing it for a few weeks, and can’t imagine going back to the old version. Tapbots painted themselves into a corner with their previous look and feel — they were the ziggyest thing going, but with iOS 7, Apple zagged. They’ve figured out a way to drop the zig but still maintain a very distinctive character in the app. $3 launch price, but soon to be $5 (and yes, existing users need to pay again for the new version). Recommended.

iWork 13 is the New iMovie 08 

David Pogue, six years ago:

Most people are used to a product cycle that goes like this: Release a new version every year or two, each more capable than the last. Ensure that it’s backward-compatible with your existing documents.

iMovie ’08, on the other hand, has been totally misnamed. It’s not iMovie at all. In fact, it’s nothing like its predecessor and contains none of the same code or design. It’s designed for an utterly different task, and a lot of people are screaming bloody murder.

Or, if you prefer, consider the brouhaha over Final Cut Pro X two years ago. The bottom line: Apple tends to value simplicity over functionality.

Carl Icahn Demands $150 Billion Buyback in Letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook 

The artwork attached to this post from John Paczkowski says it all. Perfect.

Whither iWork? 

Nigel Warren:

The fact that iWork on the Mac has lost functionality isn’t because Apple is blind to power users. It’s because they’re willing to make a short-term sacrifice in functionality so that they can create a foundation that is equal across the Mac, iOS, and web versions. It will take time to bring these new versions of iWork up to parity with what the Mac used to have. In the meantime all platforms have to live with the lowest common denominator.

This is what I think, too. Doesn’t make it any easier to stomach if you relied on features that have gone away though. And let’s see how long “short-term” is.

Glide and the Rebooted Loop Magazine 

Rene Ritchie:

As you tap into the issue and the article, as you scroll through the words, as the images zoom in and out, as you swipe to the next article, and as you pinch back to the issue or the rack of issues, it’s all fluid, it’s immersive. It’s an amazing confluence of technology and media, and one that very much sparks that same childlike sense of wonder Apple strives for in their products.

I got a sneak peek at the updated Loop Magazine app from Dalrymple the other day. Very impressive — far more interactive and, for lack of a better word, app-y.

See also: Matthew Panzarino, writing at TechCrunch.

The Value of Zero-Priced Software 

Horace Dediu:

I believe the logic for Apple is that usage of the products determines their value and therefore placing powerful software in the hands of more users means they will value the entire system more. This leads to the notion of greater “stickiness” or “lock-in” but also to higher satisfaction and loyalty, rate of upgrades and even more third party purchases and yet more usage.

The Globe and Mail: John Sculley Considering BlackBerry Bid 

Steven Chase and Iain Marlow, reporting for The Globe and Mail:

John Sculley, the former Apple Inc. CEO who famously clashed with Steve Jobs, is exploring a bid for beleaguered BlackBerry Ltd. with Canadian partners, sources have told The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Sculley said he could not comment on the matter, but noted “I’ve been a long-time BlackBerry fan and user.”

Taiwan FTC Fines Samsung $340,000 for Fake Online Comments 

A $340,000 fine will really teach Samsung a lesson. They’ll only have $4 billion left in their ad budget.

Google Testing Huge Banner Ads in Search Results 

Barry Schwartz, writing for Search Engine Land:

In 2005, Google promised that banner ads would never come to web search, saying:

There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever.

Eight years later, it seems Google may be ready to break that promise.

That 2005 blog entry promising no banner ads in search results was written by Marissa Mayer.

Mixed AppleScript Signals 

Dr. Drang:

As for spreadsheets and presentation software, the only competition I’m aware of is Excel and PowerPoint from the MS Office suite. I’ve never used PowerPoint and haven’t used Excel in almost 20 years, but David Sparks says their AppleScript support was better than iWork’s even before the purge. Now Apple is essentially pushing its power users toward Microsoft. It’s a funny world.

Pierre Igot on Pages 5 

Pierre Igot:

Dear oh dear. They really have done it, haven’t they? They have taken what had evolved into a rather decent word processor / page layout application and have eliminated so many useful features that it effectively is now a piece of useless junk, and I honestly have no idea for whom this latest version of Pages is intended.

Tell us what you really think, Pierre.

Siracusa’s Review of OS X 10.9 Mavericks 

John Siracusa:

According to Apple, Mavericks has a dual focus. Its first and most important goal is to extend battery life and improve responsiveness. Secondarily, Mavericks aims to add functionality that will appeal to “power users” (Apple’s words), a group that may be feeling neglected after enduring two releases of OS X playing iOS dress-up.

24,000 words, not bad.

Why Android First Is a Myth 

Steve Cheney:

While in theory Android provides a very modern platform for mobile development, the realities around Android-first are quite different. Startups simply cannot afford to bypass iOS and go Android out of the gate. One could even argue the gap is widening.

iWork 13 and AppleScript 

Clark Goble:

Here’s the bad news. They won’t work now. Effectively Applescript support is gone. Numbers doesn’t even have a dictionary. And Pages has had nearly everything removed.

Damn.

Update: Fireballed; cached here.

‘Non-Standard’ 

Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw:

  • The Surface and Surface 2 are less expensive than the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively, and yet offer more storage, both onboard and in the cloud.

  • … come with full versions of Office 2013, including Outlook, not non-standard, non-cross-platform, imitation apps that can’t share docs with the rest of the world.

I don’t want to argue about Shaw’s whole piece; overall, he makes a clear argument for Microsoft’s vision of tablet computing. But that second bullet point quoted above is a doozy. There’s nothing “standard” about Microsoft Office, and there’s nothing “imitation” about the iWork apps. Microsoft Office certainly remains the most-used office software in the world, but its ubiquity makes it no more a standard than Windows itself. But most interesting to me is the accusation that iWork is not “cross-platform” — what then, is the iWork for iCloud web app version of the suite?

I’m not sure how this is going to play out. Could be that iWork isn’t going to do much more than put a small dent in the Office hegemony. But Apple seems to be aiming much higher than that. Any gains in iWork usage are just icing on the cake for Apple — but any corresponding loss in Office usage (or perhaps better put, Office dependency) is very bad news for Microsoft.

Betting against the iPad as a device on which people can work, for any meaning of “work”, is a bad bet in the long run. Shaw though, is doubling down on just that bet.

How Apple Makes the Mac Pro 

Nice insights from Greg Koenig into the processes Apple is using:

What the Mac Pro video puts on display is Apple’s unique talent for bringing together disparate manufacturing technologies to produce incredible precision at extremely high volumes. Sure, having $140B in the bank and the ability to bring a mind boggling number of zeros to a purchase order has its benefits, but plenty of resource rich product companies would never think of combining processes in the manner that Apple does routinely (see: injection molding, machining, polishing and coating an iPhone 5c case). With the Mac Pro, Apple has elevated a relatively low-precision/low-tolerance process (deep draw stamping) used to make my dog’s water bowl and toilet brush canister into the creation of an aerospace grade piece of desktop jewelry.

Whither Liberal Arts? 

Ben Thompson thought something was off in yesterday’s Apple event. I don’t agree with his take, but it’s an interesting view. No doubt though, whether you think it’s for better or worse, Apple is a different company without Scott Forstall and it shows.

Apple Releases iOS 7.0.3 With Updated Reduce Motion Setting, Spotlight Improvements, iCloud Keychain, and More 

Federico Viticci:

A subset of users asked Apple to reduce the motion of the OS as it was causing motion sickness for them; a setting that the company had included in the Settings app wasn’t enough, as it disabled the parallax effect of iOS, but not the new animations.

Apple has listened, and in iOS 7.0.3 the Reduce Motion setting (available in General → Accessibility) now truly reduces animations: switching to apps and back to Home screen, unlocking the device, and moving between folders is now a cross-fade that is much faster than Apple’s animations with Reduce Motion turned off.

Why Does Windows Have Terrible Battery Life? 

Jeff Atwood:

Apple is clearly doing a great job here. Kudos. If you want a device that delivers maximum battery life for light web browsing, there’s no question that you should get something with an Apple logo on it. I just wish somebody could explain to me and Anand why Windows is so awful at managing idle power. We’re at a loss to understand why Windows’ terrible – and worsening! – idle battery life performance isn’t the source of far more industry outrage.

iWork for iCloud Beta: Supported OS and Browsers 

Interesting that even the latest version of Firefox is only partially supported.

First Look at the Nokia Lumia 2520 Tablet 

Somehow I think this won’t be the most talked-about tablet in the news today. Looks interesting though — especially the keyboard cover with a built-in battery extender.

Motorola, Google’s Money Pit 

Ben Popper, writing for The Verge, after Google announced that its Motorola division is on pace to lose over $1 billion this year:

Does a money pit like Motorola have a major impact on Google’s bottom line? In a lot of ways, the answer right now is no. Despite the losses, Google is profitable overall, and its cash on hand has grown steadily. But if Motorola continues to slide, Google may eventually be forced to write down the cost of the $12.5 billion acquisition — and its investors could clamor for the company to scuttle what has so far been a painful experiment into the world of mobile hardware. “Looking at the purchase I’m still scratching my head about why they did it,” says Avi Greengart, the research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis, “and how they see it playing out going forward.”

Almost $13 billion in the hole to start and still digging.

Big-Three Credit Bureau Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service 

Brian Krebs:

An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers — as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans — purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.

Netflix Passes HBO in Paid U.S. Subscribers 

Cliff Edwards, reporting for Bloomberg:

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, reports third-quarter results today after markets close. Already the world’s largest subscription-video service, the company probably reached 30 million paying U.S. customers as of Sept. 30, according to Needham & Co. HBO, Time Warner Inc.’s premium cable-TV network, has about 28.7 million, according to researcher SNL Kagan.

Reed Hastings knows what he’s doing. If you’d told me five years ago this would happen in 2013, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Update: Ends up Netflix added over 1.3 million new U.S. subscribers, for a total of over 31 million.

Marissa Mayer Announces David Pogue’s Hire 

Wait, she’s not using the exclamation mark after “Yahoo” either. Did Yahoo finally drop this nonsense?

Siegfried and Roy, 10 Years Later 

Great profile by John Katsilometes for the Las Vegas Weekly:

Hip-high rails have been constructed along those winding sidewalks, so Roy Horn has something firm and steady on which to lean as he makes his way around, visiting Little Bavaria’s animal kingdom, which includes horses, mini-donkeys, black swans, exotic chickens, African cranes, royal turkeys, canines and assorted cats, big and small. Siegfried Fischbacher ordered those rails built, once more providing support to his friend, life companion, performing partner and co-founder of a Strip show that entertained more than 25 million fans for more than 35 years. Siegfried also enforced the construction of a new house outfitted to offset Roy’s physical limitations, suffered a decade ago when he was dragged offstage by a white tiger named Montecore during a performance at the Mirage. October 3 marked the 10-year anniversary of that incident, which Siegfried and Roy alternately refer to as “the accident” or “the thing,” as in, “When the thing happened …”

But they hardly speak of it, and only when asked.

Why Microsoft Word Must Die 

Charlie Stross:

I hate Microsoft Word. I want Microsoft Word to die. I hate Microsoft Word with a burning, fiery passion. I hate Microsoft Word the way Winston Smith hated Big Brother. Our reasons are, alarmingly, not dissimilar …

David Pogue Leaves The New York Times for Yahoo 

David Pogue:

But 13 years is a long time to stay in one place; we all thrive on new experiences. So I was intrigued when Yahoo invited me to help build a new consumer-tech site. Actually, “site” doesn’t even cover it. I’ll be writing columns and blog posts each week, of course, and making my goofy videos. But my team and I have much bigger plans, too, for all kinds of online and real-world creations.

Now, listen: I realize that Yahoo is an underdog. I’ve given them a few swift kicks myself over the years. But over the last few months, as I’ve pondered this offer, I’ve visited Yahoo headquarters. I’ve spent a lot of time with its executives. And what I found surprised me.

This is a company that’s young, revitalized, aggressive — and, under Marissa Mayer’s leadership, razor-focused, for the first time in years. Since she took over a year ago, Yahoo has regained its position as the #1 most visited Web site on earth. She’s overseen brilliant overhauls of several Yahoo sites and apps, and had the courage to shut down the derelict ones.

I try not to write too much about the comings and goings of who’s writing for whom in this racket, but, Pogue leaving The Times is a big deal — especially since it comes hot on the heels of Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher leaving The Wall Street Journal. Raises a couple of questions: Who replaces him as The Times’s technology columnist and product reviewer? Who is he recruiting for this new thing at Yahoo? How long can he hold out omitting the silly exclamation mark at the end of “Yahoo”?

So I’ll be starting there in a few weeks. (I’ll still keep up my NOVA specials on PBS, my “CBS Sunday Morning” stories, my Missing Manual books, and my Scientific American column.)

Hard not to admire Pogue’s prolificacy.

Eject 

Great story about Apple’s (current) campus from Landon Dyer.

NSA Accessed Mexican President’s Email 

Der Spiegel:

The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.

You don’t say.

NSA Surveillance on France  

70 million phone calls per month, according to Le Monde:

Amongst the thousands of documents extracted from the NSA by its ex-employee there is a graph which describes the extent of telephone monitoring and tapping (DNR – Dial Number Recognition) carried out in France. It can be seen that over a period of thirty days – from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70,3 million recordings of French citizens’ telephone data were made by the NSA. This agency has several methods of data collection. According to the elements obtained by Le Monde, when a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words. Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each target – or the meta-data.

65 Cases of Pappy Van Winkle Heisted From Kentucky Distillery 

Trip Gabriel, reporting for the NYT:

Sheriff Melton said the culprit stole 195 bottles in three-bottle cases of Pappy Van Winkle 20 Year, which has a suggested retail price of $130 a bottle, and nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye, with a suggested price of $69. The thief had an obvious motive: the secondary market for the scarce whiskey is hot. A single bottle of 20-year-old Pappy, as aficionados know it, sold at Bonham’s auction in New York on Sunday for $1,190.

If anyone knows anything about this crime, please let me know.

Roadee Music 

My thanks to Dailycatessen for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Roadee Music. It’s a terrific iPhone app that does one thing and does it well: tell Roadee Music your favorite musical artists, and you’ll get push notifications whenever they release new music. That’s all there is to it. No account sign up, no login, no social network sharing, no bullshit. Just follow artists in the app and you’ll get notified.

It’s got a great design and nice touches like listing the full discographies of your artists. Only $1.99 in the App Store, and well worth it.

Podcast App Playback Speeds 

Speaking of podcasts and Marco Arment, it ends up that playback speeds like “½×” and “2×” may not mean what you think they mean.

‘One for the Pedants’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, featuring special guest Marco Arment. Topics include speculation regarding what Apple will and won’t announce at next week’s special event in San Francisco — iPads, Mac Pros, MacBook Pros, iPods, Apple TV — jailbreaking as a reason for holding on to iOS 6, and Microsoft’s coolness (or rather, lack thereof).

Brought to you by three excellent sponsors:

  • Audible.com: The world’s leading provider of audio books.

  • Backblaze: Unlimited, unthrottled online backups for just $5/month.

  • Fracture: Your photos, printed in vivid color directly onto glass.

CSS Transforms: An Interactive Guide 

New e-book for iBooks by former Safari technology evangelist Vicki Murley. Deeply interactive, and self-referential — the CSS transformations she defines and explains are shown in live examples. Well-designed and clearly-written, too. A steal at just $4.

Siri, Now a Real-Life Pokédex 

Mike Wehner, writing for TUAW:

The massive information engine Wolfram Alpha just added a whopping 649 pokémon to its database. For fans of the games, that fact is pretty cool all on its own, but if you happen to own an iPhone or an iPad with Siri, it’s even more awesome. You see, thanks to Siri’s ability to search Wolfram Alpha for information, your iDevice is now as close to a real-life Pokédex as you’ll probably ever have.

See also: Announcement from Wolfram Alpha.

In iOS 7, the Final Straw for Newsstand 

Marko Karppinen:

For years, I’ve argued that choosing Newsstand is the best thing — the right thing — to do when publishing periodical content within the Apple ecosystem. But with the redesigned app, and with automatic content downloads no longer a being a Newsstand exclusive, the balance has finally shifted.

We think publishers should skip Newsstand and publish their iOS apps as regular non-Newsstand apps instead.

1946–47 Sporting News: Sketches of Major League Parks 

Splendid work by Boston Globe cartoonist Gene Mack, during a tour of major league ballparks in 1946–47. They don’t make them like the Polo Grounds any more. (Via Coudal.)

8-Bit Cinema: The Shining 

Kubrick’s classic, retold in the form of an 8-bit video game. (Via Golan Klinger.)

Elon Musk to Make James Bond Submarine Car a Reality 

Peter Valdes-Dapena, reporting for CNN Money:

When the car-turned-submarine from the 007 classic “The Spy Who Loved Me” was sold at auction in September for nearly a million dollars, the identity of the buyer was kept secret, as it usually is in collector car auctions.

Thursday night, a Tesla Motors spokeswoman confirmed that the submarine, modeled after a Lotus sports car, had been bought by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Musk plans to take the movie prop and turn it into an actual car that transforms into a submarine, the very thing it was built to portray in the movie.

Fucking-A.

What Tim Cook Said Back in April Regarding ‘New Product Categories’ 

I’ve been fielding a few questions from readers who seem under the impression that earlier this year Tim Cook promised an entry into a “new product category” by the end of this year, and what I expect that product to be. Here’s the thing though, I don’t think Cook promised any such thing. From Macworld’s transcript of Apple’s April 23 quarterly analyst call, here is what Cook said in his opening remarks:

We will continue to focus on the long term, and we remain very optimistic about our future. We’re participating in large and growing markets. We see great opportunities in front of us, particularly given the long-term prospects of the smartphone and tablet markets, the strength of our incredible ecosystem which we plan to continue to augment with services, our plans for expanded distribution, and the potential of exciting new product categories.

Take the smartphone market, for example. IDC estimates that the smartphone market will double between 2012 and 2016 to an incredible 1.4 billion units annually. And Gartner estimates that the tablet market is growing at an even faster rate, from 125 million units in 2012 to a projected 375 million by 2016.

Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014.

Those two phrases I’ve highlighted in bold aren’t necessarily related. Cook said Apple sees opportunities in new product categories, and had new products lined up for introduction in the fall of this year, but it doesn’t follow from his words that Apple has a product in a new category to introduce in the fall of this year.

It’d be great if Apple does have something altogether new to unveil next week, but if they don’t, it won’t contradict what Cook said in April.

Regarding Nike’s Decision to Forgo Android Support in New FuelBand 

Roger Cheng, writing for CNet, “Nike’s No-Android Stance on FuelBand Is a Huge Mistake”:

It’s a glaring omission that Nike still doesn’t offer support for Android, which is the undisputed mobile platform champ with 80 percent of the global market. At a time when more developers are looking to expand the number of platforms they are on, Nike has stubbornly clung to its comfort zone and stayed with iOS.

600 words into the article:

Bluetooth support is also an issue. The new FuelBand SE also runs on the newer Bluetooth 4.0 standard, which hasn’t really yet been embraced by the Android community and was only recently officially supported by Android in version 4.3.

In comparison, Apple’s iPhone 4S and later all support the standard, which allow for simpler, longer, and more power-efficient connections between devices.

So even if you want to argue on market share alone (which is a terrible idea, but let’s go with it), Android may well account for 80 percent of the world smartphone market, but it accounts for only a small slice of the Bluetooth 4.0-capable smartphone market. Cheng is effectively arguing that Nike should have: (a) used magic to make the new FuelBand work with most Android phones in use; or (b) designed an entirely different device that could work with most Android phones in use; or (c) spent the effort to support the Android phones that do support Bluetooth 4.0. None of those options suggests that keeping the FuelBand iOS-only is a “huge mistake”.

The Verge Reviews Windows 8.1 

Tom Warren:

Microsoft ties together its visual changes and features with a new set of built-in app improvements, centered more than ever around SkyDrive. Microsoft’s cloud-based storage system really powers Windows 8.1 this time around. The sync engine is built directly in, and Microsoft has made some smart improvements to the way that files sync to Windows 8.1 PCs. Instead of pulling down the entire SkyDrive storage to a local PC, it loads icons, and just enough information required to identify the file. When you open the file, it downloads it on the spot. You can set folders and files to download fully so they’re available offline, or just set an entire SkyDrive instance to remain offline on the PC.

The end result is that all your settings, files, and apps are stored in SkyDrive. This makes it incredibly easy to log in to any other Windows 8.1 PC and start loading apps and documents as if it was your own machine. Like so many things about Windows 8.1, sync seems like a logical update, but it’s one of the most significant improvements to Windows 8.1.

Sounds like a great feature. Effectively, system-level Dropbox.

Update: Regarding Warren’s overall review of Windows 8.1, keep in mind that he gave Windows 8.0 a glowing review (and 8.8/10 score) in his review last year.

David Pogue on Windows 8.1 

David Pogue:

The fundamental problem with Windows 8 hasn’t changed: you’re still working in two operating systems at once. You’re still leaping from one universe into another — the color schemes, fonts and layouts all change abruptly — and it still feels jarring. There are still too many duplicate programs and settings, one in each environment. And you still can never live entirely in one world or the other.

The more you work with Windows 8, the more screamingly obvious the solution becomes: Split it up. Offer regular Windows on regular computers, offer TileWorld on tablets. That way, everyone has to learn only one operating system, and each operating system is suited to its task.

Microsoft PR chief Frank X. Shaw, on Twitter:

Dear David Pogue, what a classic Pogue piece. Funny, inaccurate, opinionated in the skewed way only you can bring.

I haven’t seen Windows 8.1 yet, so I can’t comment on it in particular. But the fundamental flaw in the “two worlds” approach of Windows 8 has been obvious to me from the get-go. A big part of the appeal of iPads (and even Android tablets) is that they are so much less complex than Windows or Mac PCs. Complexity is a turn-off. Windows 8 is inherently more complex than even Windows 7, because it includes all the complexity of traditional Windows plus the new Metro layer.

Study Claims Facebook Ad Return on Investment 18 Times Higher on iOS than Android 

John Koetsier, writing for VentureBeat:

The study is by Nanigans, one of the biggest buyers of Facebook ads, and it focuses on retailers, saying that in the past year on Facebook’s desktop ads, clickthroughs are up 375 percent and overall return on investment is 152 percent.

But it’s when the report focuses on mobile advertising that the really surprising numbers pop up.

“Retailers are realizing significantly greater return from audiences on iOS than audiences on Android,” the report says. “For the first three quarters of 2013, RPC [revenue per click] on iOS averaged 6.1 times higher than Android and ROI [return on investment] on iOS averaged 17.9 times higher than Android.”

The report explicitly states that it applies to retail ads only, and results may be different for other categories, but the differences claimed here are so remarkable I find it hard to believe.

A Look at the iPhone 5S 120fps Super Slow Motion 

Philip Bloom, explaining how he made this lovely short film shot using an iPhone 5S. (Via Ryan O’Donnell.)

2001: The Aliens That Almost Were 

Fascinating, copiously researched piece by Simone Odino regarding Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s fruitless efforts to conceive a way to show alien life forms in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

(Via Scott Falkner.)

iPhone Still Growing Share at Verizon 

John Paczkowski, reporting on Verizon’s Q3 resuls:

Of the 7.6 million smartphone activations Verizon racked up during the quarter, 3.9 million were iPhones, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said during the company’s earnings call. That means that Apple’s device accounted for about 51 percent of all smartphone activations for the period. In the year-ago quarter, the 3.1 million iPhones Verizon activated accounted for 46 percent of its 6.8 million smartphone activations.

Siri Response Times 

I was listening to the latest episode of Accidental Tech Podcast, and they had a segment about Apple’s seemingly institutional inability to get online services right. It made me think about this anecdote from Marissa Mayer back in 2006, as relayed by Greg Linden:

Marissa started with a story about a user test they did. They asked a group of Google searchers how many search results they wanted to see. Users asked for more, more than the ten results Google normally shows. More is more, they said.

So, Marissa ran an experiment where Google increased the number of search results to thirty. Traffic and revenue from Google searchers in the experimental group dropped by 20%. Ouch. Why? Why, when users had asked for this, did they seem to hate it?

After a bit of looking, Marissa explained that they found an uncontrolled variable. The page with 10 results took .4 seconds to generate. The page with 30 results took .9 seconds.

Half a second delay caused a 20% drop in traffic. Half a second delay killed user satisfaction.

If a half second difference made people search less on Google, imagine how much less people are using Siri given that its response times are often multiple seconds long. I think the single biggest improvement Apple could (and really must) make to Siri is to make it faster. And that’s exactly the sort of thing Apple has never really shown the chops for.

Gartner Projects PC Sales Down 9 Percent for Q3 

Tiernan Ray, writing last week for Barron’s Tech Trader:

Research firm Gartner a short while ago reported that PC shipments in Q3 declined by 8.6% from the prior-year period, to 80.3 million units, marking “the sixth consecutive quarter of declining worldwide shipments.”

One year ago, they were saying PC sales were down because PC buyers were waiting for Windows 8.

Six months ago, they were saying PC sales were down because PC buyers didn’t like Windows 8.

The time has come to simply acknowledge that the PC era peaked two years ago, and has started to irreversibly contract. The only question is how fast.

iPhone 5S Camera Test in Patagonia 

Austin Mann:

This iPhone 5S beats out the 5 in every camera test and in many ways I prefer it to my DSLR. Sure it has its pros & cons… but for the first time ever, I didn’t bring my Canon 1DX and I didn’t regret it one bit. That’s saying a lot.

‘And Steve Said, “Fuck You Guys, Do Whatever You Want. You’re Responsible.” And He Stormed Out of the Room.’ 

Chris Fralic:

10 years ago today, Apple did something extraordinary, but it didn’t seem like it at the time. Like the story of a butterfly flapping its wings and eventually causing a tsunami halfway around the world, this had a profound impact on the trajectory and fortunes of Apple over the next decade. It’s something you don’t often hear about, even from fervent Apple watchers, but it was the day “Hell Froze Over.”

On October 16, 2003, Apple launched “the best Windows program ever” — iTunes for Windows.

Square Cash 

Walt Mossberg reviews Square’s new super-simple cash-by-email service:

Here’s how Square Cash works. Say you want to send $47.12 to your sister. You just compose an email with her email address in the “To” field and, in the “CC” field, you enter “cash@square.com.” In the subject field, you enter the amount you’re sending — in this case, “$47.12.” You can leave the message body blank, or add a note explaining you’re sending the money and why. Then, you just press Send.

If this is your first time using the service, Square will email you a link to its service, where you’ll be asked to enter your debit-card information. This is required one time only. In seconds, Square verifies the debit card and checks that you have sufficient funds, using existing, routine Visa or MasterCard procedures, and sends an email to your sister. (Square says it never knows how much is in your account, and it encrypts your card number.)

Seems almost too good to be true — not least because there are no fees at all. If I send you $25.00, you get $25.00.

Regarding Supplier Rumors of iPhone Demand 

Lots of news today about reports from suppliers that Apple has reduced orders for the 5C and increased orders for the 5S. The only sensible conclusion I’ve read regarding this was buried at the bottom of Reuters’s report:

Some analysts caution against correlating the cuts to Apple’s supplier orders with poor sales, because of the complexity and opacity of the company’s supply chain.

“We’ve seen this several times. There are too many moving parts in the supply chain to draw any conclusions,” said Benedict Evans, who covers mobile and digital media at Enders Analysis, a research consultancy in London.

“We don’t know what other suppliers they use or what inventory they already have.”

Or whether it’s as simple as yields being higher than expected. Tim Cook warned against reading into these rumors from Apple’s supply chain early this year, in the face of then-rampant rumors of decreased demand for the iPhone 5. And indeed, iPhone 5 sales were just fine in the two quarters following these supply-chain-rumor predictions of slower sales.

Cupertino Council Approves New Apple Campus 

Good time for a reminder about just how enormous this building is going to be.

Spitballing Apple’s Event Next Week 

Good slate of guesses from Nick Heer regarding what we may see from Apple next week.

Om Malik on Angela Ahrendts 

Good piece by Om Malik:

That said, I think the biggest challenge and perhaps one that could prove to be her Achilles heel has less to do with her capabilities and more to do with how Apple works.

First, she is not Ron Johnson. And she is definitely not John Browett. She is Angela Ahrendts, and she is a rock star.

She hobnobs with rock stars, hangs out with models and graces the covers of magazines. She is the personification of a media celebrity CEO. She is a woman who seems to have it all. She is used to being the center of attention and being able to access reporters and give interviews. She is not the nameless, faceless functionary that Apple loves and makes sure that they remain anonymous.

Anonymous isn’t quite the right word, but it’s true that Apple has a distinctly quiet executive culture.

Angela Ahrendts at TEDx Hollywood: The Power of Human Energy 

Apple’s new SVP of retail and online stores, speaking at TEDx Hollywood in March this year. A bit touchy-feely for my taste, but interesting. As she says up front, what she’s talking about is difficult to articulate. Rare to get insight like this into the mindset of an Apple executive.

For Many Hard-Liners, Debt Default Is the Goal 

Bruce Bartlett, domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and as a Treasury official under George H. W. Bush (well known left-wing radicals both):

This week, according to the Treasury Department, it will exhaust its “extraordinary” measures to avoid hitting a hard debt ceiling. It is not known precisely the date at which it will lack the cash to pay interest on the national debt, but on the day that happens, the United States will be in default.

The Obama administration and those on Wall Street have long thought that such a prospect was so horrifying that it would necessarily lead to resolution of the current budget impasse. What I don’t think they understand is that there has been a movement under way for some years among right-wing economists and activists not merely to default on the debt, but even to repudiate it.

In other words, these right-wingers aren’t using the threat of debt default to undo the Affordable Care Act — they’re using the threat of undoing the Affordable Care Act (which they know/hope Democrats will not agree to) to get what they really want: putting the United States of America into default.

Right on Schedule: Apple Announces Special Event for October 22 

This one is in San Francisco, in the Yerba Buena Center. To me, that signifies that this is a bigger, more important event than last month’s iPhone 5S/5C introduction on Apple’s campus. Higher profile location, and the space holds more people.

(I think it holds a lot more people, but I’m a bad estimator of crowd sizes. The Yerba Buena Center website says their theater has 757 seats. I’d guess Apple’s Town Hall holds at most 350 people. Anyone know how many seats are in there?)

Update: A few readers pointed to this 2011 piece by Jeff Richardson, wherein he links to a 360 degree panorama of the Town Hall theater, which shows a seating capacity of about 250. But I think Apple recently put all-new seating in the room, and an anonymous little birdie on Twitter says the official capacity is now 301, which sounds about right to me.

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to Join Apple as Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores 

Apple:

Apple today announced that Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, will be joining Apple in a newly created position, as a senior vice president and member of our executive team, reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Ahrendts will have oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of both Apple retail and online stores, which have redefined the shopping experience for hundreds of millions of customers around the world.

Hindsight is 20/20, etc., but the CEO of Burberry sure seems like a better fit for Apple than the CEO of Dixons.

Update: 9to5 Mac has Tim Cook’s company-wide memo announcing her hire.

Pizza Place Geography 

Interesting visualization of the franchise chain pizza shop locations in the U.S.

All I can think looking at this map is that there’s a lot of terrible pizza out there.

From the DF Archive: ‘A Simple Explanation for Why HP Abandoned Palm and Is Getting Out of the PC Business’ 

HP’s problem, in a nut:

  • The traditional PC market is shrinking and Apple takes most of the profit in what’s left of it.
  • The growth is all in smartphones and tablets.
  • HP’s only OS choices for the mobile market are Windows/Windows Phone and Android, which puts HP right back in the same low-end commodity business that it wound up in with the PC market.

The irony is, HP had a solution to this dilemma: Palm and Web OS. I’m not saying it’s a sure-thing that they could have made a success of Web OS if they had stuck with it. But it would be hard for them to be in a worse place than they are now, and they would have been able to control their own destiny.

It’s just sad how far HP has fallen.

Meg Whitman Finally Sees Intel and Microsoft as HP Competitors 

Julie Bort, reporting for Business Insider last week:

On Wednesday, [Whitman] blamed some of HP’s growth problems on Microsoft and Intel:

“HP’s traditional highly profitable markets face significant disruption. Wintel devices are being challenged by ARM-based devices. … We are seeing profound changes in the competitive landscape. … Current partners like Intel and Microsoft are turning from partners to outright competitors.”

Yours truly, four years ago:

It’s not just that Apple is different among computer makers. It’s that Apple is the only one that even can be different, because it’s the only one that has its own OS. Part of the industry-wide herd mentality is an assumption that no one else can make a computer OS — that anyone can make a computer but only Microsoft can make an OS. It should be embarrassing to companies like Dell and Sony, with deep pockets and strong brand names, that they’re stuck selling computers with the same copy of Windows installed as the no-name brands.

And then there’s HP, a company with one of the best names and proudest histories in the industry. Apple made news this week for the design and tech specs of its all-new iMacs, which start at $1199. HP made news this week for unveiling a Windows 7 launch bundle at Best Buy that includes a desktop PC and two laptops, all for $1199. That might be great for Microsoft, but how is it good for HP that their brand now stands for bargain basement prices?

It’s not a new problem for HP that Microsoft and Intel are attempting to consume all the value from the PC industry and leave the actual PC makers holding an empty bag.

The Verge Reviews the HTC One Max 

Challenge: Read the section on the fingerprint scanner and try not to laugh.

iPhone 5S and Sports Photography 

Jim Zellmer:

While the iPhone 5s will not completely supplant the big lens crowd, perhaps the next generation or two might.

The more I use the 5S camera, the more impressed I am.

New Relic’s FutureStack Conference 

My thanks to New Relic for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their FutureStack conference. Join over 800 industry leaders and disruptive developers on October 24-25 in San Francisco. They have two days of great sessions, and a terrific speaker lineup featuring Jim Dalrymple, Hilary Mason (Data Scientist in Residence at Accel Partners), Artur Bergman (CEO and Founder of Fastly), and much more.

Looks like a great event. Visit their website and get your ticket today.

New York Comic Con Sends Spam Tweets From Attendees’ Accounts Without Permission 

Unbelievable that anyone thought this was OK.

Google Sets Plan to Sell Users’ Endorsements 

Claire Cain Miller and Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYT:

On Friday, Google announced an update to its terms of service that allows the company to include adult users’ names, photos and comments in ads shown across the Web, based on ratings, reviews and posts they have made on Google Plus and other Google services like YouTube.

When the new ad policy goes live Nov. 11, Google will be able to show what the company calls shared endorsements on Google sites and across the Web, on the more than two million sites in Google’s display advertising network, which are viewed by an estimated one billion people.

Looking forward to hearing from Google fans how this is acceptable.

John Moltz on That Piper Jaffray Survey on Teens and iOS Devices 

Three solid grains of salt to take with that survey. I linked to it simply as refutation of the silly “teens don’t want Apple products any more” claims.

Are Operations Like Flipboard Scams Against Publishers? 

Josh Marshall:

You can’t eat ‘reach’ and we can’t pay salaries with ‘brand awareness’. I don’t pretend to know other people’s business models or strategies. But successful business practices are always about having a close understanding of the costs of what you produce and the origins and mechanics of your revenues and more than anything else the interaction between the two.

“Scam” might be too harsh a word, but Josh raises a good point. In some ways isn’t Flipboard just a magazine that doesn’t pay for the content it displays? (And don’t get me wrong, I like Flipboard.)

Asymco: ‘The Five Year Plan’ 

Horace Dediu:

If we include all iOS and Android devices the “computing” market in Q3 2008 was 92 million units of which Windows was 90% whereas in Q3 2013 it was 269 million units of which Windows was 32%.

Like I said yesterday, mobile is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and it’s still growing fast.

‘This Will Cause Problems for Nokia.’ 

Helsinki journalist Lauri Malkavaara got a Nokia E51 in 2008, couldn’t figure out how to use it, and wrote a letter to Nokia. Simple perspective, but incredibly prescient.

Cloudpaint 

HTML5-based recreation of MacPaint, by Martin Braun. Well done.

(Via Dave Mark.)

Piper Jaffray Poll Shows iPhone and iPad Popular Among Middle- and High-Income U.S. Teens 

I haven’t seen the actual report, but based on this bit in AppleInsider’s coverage:

Piper Jaffray’s survey is built on interviews with thousands of teens from high-income families (household income above $104,000) and similar visits with more teens from average-income families ($54,000). The study had a total participant pool of 8,643.

I would say AppleInsider’s headline (“More Than Half of Teens Own an iPhone, iPad Immensely Popular”) is wrong. The description of the methodology suggests that lower-income teens were not included in the survey.

But, still. This, like previous versions of the same survey, seemingly refutes the oft-trotted-out notion from Apple competitors that teens don’t like iOS products because they’re seen as being for old people. Examples here, here, here, and, perhaps most hilariously, here:

“Teens are telling us Apple is done,” says Tina Wells of the youth marketing agency Buzz Marketing Group. “Apple has done a great job of embracing Gen X and older [Millennials], but I don’t think they are connecting with Millennial kids. [They’re] all about Surface tablets/laptops and Galaxy.”

(Also worth noting: the iPad Mini seems curiously unpopular in this poll. Seems odd given the overall popularity of the Mini.)

The Prodigal Guide Reviews the Vertu Constellation 

Timothy Barber takes a look at Vertu’s new £4,000 (roughly $6,000 USD) Android phone (which does have one interesting feature: a sapphire crystal display):

So is it worth it? OH GOOD LORD NO, of course not. If a £7,000 phone is for people who sneeze that kind of money without noticing, we can’t really see how a £4,000 phone isn’t. But Vertu, which has been heavily researching a fast-changing market as it goes through its own fast change post-Nokia, is going after a broader market, and judging that there’s a bunch of people to be tapped who’ll respond at the lower price point.

Remember “I Am Rich”, the $999 iPhone app that served no purpose other than as a statement that the purchaser could afford such an app? That’s Vertu.

Windows Phone 8.1 to Eliminate Hardware Back Button? 

Paul Thurrott, regarding what he’s heard about Windows Phone 8.1:

No more Back button. Aping the iPhone navigation model, Microsoft will apparently remove the Back button from the Windows Phone hardware specification with 8.1. The Back button just doesn’t make sense, I was told: Users navigate away from an app by pressing the Start button and then open a new app, just like they do on iPhone. And the “back stack” is ill-understood by users: Most don’t realize what they’re doing when they repeatedly hit the Back button.

Yours truly on hardware back buttons, last year:

When it does exactly what you expect, the system-wide Back button is convenient. But when it doesn’t, it’s maddening.

Now That’s a Gold Phone 

HTC mints five phones plated with 18-carat gold. Might be easier to get one of these than a gold iPhone 5S, though.

Qualcomm Backtracks From Claim That 64-Bit in A7 Is a Marketing Gimmick 

Agam Shah, reporting for IDG:

“The comments made by Anand Chandrasekher, Qualcomm CMO, about 64-bit computing were inaccurate,” said a Qualcomm spokesperson in an email. “The mobile hardware and software ecosystem is already moving in the direction of 64-bit; and, the evolution to 64-bit brings desktop class capabilities and user experiences to mobile, as well as enabling mobile processors and software to run new classes of computing devices.”

Qualcomm did not provide further comment.

You know it’s bad when your own PR department cashes in your claim chowder.

Capo 3.0 

I don’t play guitar, but if I did, I’d be all over this. Capo is an amazing tool for “reverse engineering rock and roll”, and remains a forward-looking inspiration for Mac app UI design.

John Paczkowski: Apple Will Hold Fall iPad Event on October 22, iPad Mini Going Retina and Getting A7 

John Paczkowski:

The fifth-generation iPad is expected to feature a thinner, lighter design akin to the iPad mini’s, and an improved camera. It will run Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip. The second-generation iPad mini will be upgraded with a retina display and also see the A7 incorporated into its innards. It’s not clear whether Apple’s new iPads will feature the Touch ID fingerprint sensor that recently debuted on the iPhone 5s, though that has been rumored.

The date seemed rather obvious, given that it coincides with last year’s announcement schedule. Apple is a company of patterns; if they held separate iPhone and iPad events on Tuesdays 11 September and 23 October last year, then held an iPhone event on Tuesday 10 September this year, it was pretty obvious Tuesday 22 October would be the date for the iPad event this year. And given that they haven’t refreshed the iPad lineup since last year’s event, it was even more unlikely that there would be no iPad event.

Interesting to me is Paczkowski’s reporting that the iPad Mini is going retina and getting the A7. The current Mini is running the A5, so if Paczkowski is right, the Mini is going to skip an entire generation. I know nothing about Apple’s plans for the Mini this year, but simply as an observer, I find that unusual.

Nest Protect: A Smart Smoke Alarm 

Steven Levy, writing for Wired:

Nest believes that voice communication boosts safety. The company cites a study by Australian researchers that indicates children are more likely to sleep through a standard alarm than a human voice. But introducing language into a smoke alarm system was a surprisingly complex step involving engineering, psychology, and thespian prowess. Nest scripted its brief messages carefully and auditioned its voice actors as if it were casting the next Hunger Games movie. User experience designer David Sloo asked for a female voice because it projects better though the device’s small speaker. For the American English version (eventually Nest will use a voice native to each market), he chose a 37-year-old mother of a toddler. Somehow, Sloo felt, a maternal characteristic shone through.

Nest is fascinating. Tony Fadell is clearly trying to bring Apple-level design and innovation to product categories we’ve all written off as too mundane to think about.

HP Chromebook11 

$280 Chromebook laptop from HP. Has a fun design — white plastic with Google-colored accents — and charges via USB.

Jony Ive Helped Design One-Off Leica Camera 

It’s a shame it isn’t going to be mass-produced.

Panic’s New Logo 

Cabel Sasser:

I could spin a yarn about how new logo really represents our apps themselves — a sharp, accurate core of precise engineering wrapped in friendly, warm creativity — but I’d totally be making that up.

Nice work. As a long-time fan of Panic’s work, I have a certain fondness for the old logo, but the new one definitely fits.

In Conversation With Antonin Scalia 

Fascinating, wide-ranging interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by Jennifer Senior for New York Magazine. Part of what makes it such an interesting interview is how far apart Senior’s and Scalia’s world views are. Dahlia Lithwick, writing about the interview for Slate, asked Senior to comment on the schism:

I asked Senior whether this felt accurate. She replied, “It’s embarrassing, but the overlap between our worlds is almost nonexistent. It explains why the left and the right both responded so enthusiastically to this piece. Each side sees its own view, affirmed. One sees a monster and the other sees a hero. It’s extraordinary, actually. The O’Reilly constituents think he’s speaking sense; the Jon Stewart vote thinks virtually everything the guy says is nuts.”

‘OS X El Camino’ 

New episode of Canada’s favorite podcast, The Talk Show, featuring special guest Guy English. Topics include the practical performance advantages of the A7 and iOS going 64-bit, Steve Jobs’s cars-vs.-trucks analogy, the future of Microsoft, and more.

Brought to you by three great sponsors:

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Capturing the Aura of the Scottish Highlands With the iPhone 5S 

National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson is shooting the Scotland highlands with no cameras other than his iPhone 5S. Not bad. (Via Phil Schiller. (!))

Eric Schmidt Calls Android ‘More Secure Than the iPhone’ 

“The response reportedly drew laughs from the audience in attendance.”

Carl Icahn’s Recent Lunch With Tim Cook 

Peter Dodge:

I hope that Tim Cook, and the board of Apple, will feel free to ignore Icahn because Icahn’s not invested in the company, he’s only invested in the stock price, in his own greed. Sure, he might file a lawsuit to try and effect the changes he wants, but ultimately I think the majority of Apple’s shareholders understand the difference between investing in a company with a future and a stock with a price.

Doesn’t seem to me that Icahn has the best interests of Apple in mind with his recommendation of a massive $160 billion stock buy-back.

Matt Drance on Samsung’s Gear Commercial 

Keen observation from Matt Drance:

The Galaxy Gear ad, and the Galaxy Gear itself, convey none of this. The ad primes us with decades of fantastic expectations — expectations which just about any review of the product you can find will tell you have not been met. It also implicitly, and very ironically, shows just how lacking in vision the product itself is. The iPhone ad says, “We’re starting over.” The Gear ad says, “We tried to make that exact thing you’ve seen on TV all these years.”

Matthew Panzarino on Samsung’s Gear Commercial 

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Samsung taking inspiration from the ‘Hello’ spot. However — and this is an important note — Samsung is a company which has had a billion-dollar judgement against it for copying Apple’s work.

If I was a company which had gained a reputation for copying Apple’s work, the last thing I’d want is to have my advertising associated with anything they’d ever done.

Right. You can’t separate this single instance from Samsung’s history.

Gizmag Reviews the Galaxy Gear 

I asked for it, DF reader Andrew Barnett found it: a positive review of the Galaxy Gear. Will Shanklin, writing for Gizmag:

Amongst a chorus of boos, hisses, and splattered fruit, we think the Galaxy Gear is a breakthrough product. It’s imperfect, but it’s a very strong debut, and by far the most exciting wearable computing device that you can buy today.

When thinking about the press’ [sic] generally negative response to the Gear, we can’t help but remember Samsung’s original Galaxy Note. At launch, it too drew a largely unenthusiastic, lackluster response from critics. Samsung was mocked mercilessly, especially by the Apple faithful, for centering a lavish marketing campaign around a giant-sized phone that uses a stylus.

But guess what? Customers ultimately voted quite differently with their wallets. The Note sold in bunches, made the phablet a legitimate product category, and became a surprise hit. Sure, it had a lot of help from Samsung’s clever and well-funded marketing machine, but so will the Galaxy Gear.

Fox News Debuts Bizarre, Giant Tablets in New Newsroom 

Perfect for Fox News. A total sham. As Richard Dunlop-Walters points out, these advanced 55-inch touchscreens are capable of showing four tweets at a time.

Acclaim for New Samsung Galaxy Gear Commercial 

I’m sure the similarity here is purely coincidental. It just doesn’t seem like Samsung to copy Apple.

Joanna Stern Reviews the Galaxy Gear 

Joanna Stern, writing for ABC News:

Over the past week I have repeatedly taken the Gear off and left it behind in meetings or on my desk at night because it just hasn’t been comfortable to wear. In fact, it actually took me awhile to write this review, because just keeping the watch on for longer periods of time was a challenge.

And when I wasn’t taking the watch off because of discomfort, I was taking it off to charge it.

Are there any good reviews of the Gear? Even just one? Pretty sure the Gear is the worst-reviewed major new tech product in a long time.

Steve Jobs Keynote Index Fund 

Back in 2007 (and linked from DF at the time), Matt Haughey had this idea:

I wondered what effect the Jobs keynote had on Apple’s stock price in the short term. What if you invested $10,000 the day before the keynote, then sold at the end of the keynote day? What if you waited until the day after? What if you did this every year for the past ten years that Jobs has been doing them? Is it possible to make money off the Apple keynote talks given by Steve Jobs?

So he put this site together. It’s now defunct — he stopped updating it after Apple stopped participating in Macworld Expo — but the Internet Archive has it. Bottom line: historically, Apple’s stock price fell more than it rose on the day of (and day after) Steve Jobs product announcements.

Bloomberg: ‘Microsoft Said to Ask HTC for Windows on Android Phones’ 

Tim Culpan, Dina Bass, and Peter Burrows, reporting for Bloomberg:

Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s operating systems unit, asked HTC last month to load Windows Phone as a second option on handsets with Google Inc.’s rival software, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Myerson discussed cutting or eliminating the license fee to make the idea more attractive, the people said. The talks are preliminary and no decision has been made, two people said.

Any port in a storm, I guess. But what a terrible idea.

Anyway, think about how fast this industry changes. Four years ago, HTC was, by far, the number-one Windows Mobile handset maker in the world.

Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo bills itself as “an intranet you’ll actually like”, which is a perfect description. Igloo offers blogs, calendars, file sharing, forums, microblogs (think: private Twitter), and wikis. Everything you’d want. It’s all modern (including responsive design for mobile devices), and all configurable.

Igloo is free to use with up to ten people — free! — so you can start building your own Igloo today.

Elon Musk on the Model S Fire 

Elon Musk:

For consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid.

Really admire the way Musk and Tesla respond to incidents like this. Clear, plain language.

Behind the Scenes of the Original iPhone Launch 

Fascinating piece by Fred Vogelstein in The New York Times on the development and launch announcement of the original iPhone, largely based on remarks from Andy Grignon, who was then the engineering manager in charge of the iPhone’s antenna systems (and who obviously no longer works for Apple; it’s rare to see the company’s code of silence broken even by former employees).

A taste:

It’s hard to overstate the gamble Jobs took when he decided to unveil the iPhone back in January 2007. Not only was he introducing a new kind of phone — something Apple had never made before — he was doing so with a prototype that barely worked. Even though the iPhone wouldn’t go on sale for another six months, he wanted the world to want one right then. In truth, the list of things that still needed to be done was enormous. A production line had yet to be set up. Only about a hundred iPhones even existed, all of them of varying quality. Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge; others had scuff marks on the screen. And the software that ran the phone was full of bugs.

The iPhone could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip reliably without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an e-mail and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks, performed in a specific way and order, that made the phone look as if it worked.

I don’t want to spoil the ending; it’s a great story.

2.9 Million Adobe Customer Accounts Compromised by Hackers 

Adobe:

Our investigation currently indicates that the attackers accessed Adobe customer IDs and encrypted passwords on our systems. We also believe the attackers removed from our systems certain information relating to 2.9 million Adobe customers, including customer names, encrypted credit or debit card numbers, expiration dates, and other information relating to customer orders. At this time, we do not believe the attackers removed decrypted credit or debit card numbers from our systems. We deeply regret that this incident occurred.

They took source code too.

How the White House Sees the Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Fight 

Succinct summary by Ezra Klein:

As the White House sees it, Speaker John Boehner has begun playing politics as game of Calvinball, in which Republicans invent new rules on the fly and then demand the media and the Democrats accept them as reality and find a way to work around them.

Redesigning WeddingDJ and Party Monster for iOS 7 

Speaking of iOS 7 redesigns, Steamclock Software’s Allen Pike has a nice look at theirs.

How to Make a Vesper: 1.007 

My Q Branch colleague Dave Wiskus goes deep on the thinking and process behind our update of Vesper for iOS 7.

iOS 7 Tip: ‘Short Name’ Settings for Display in Messages and Mail 

Great tip from Allyson Kazmucha at iMore. I like the first name with last initial option (which was the default setting in at least one of the beta releases over the summer).

Samsung Lawyers Supplied Executives With Highly Confidential Apple-Nokia License Agreement 

Florian Mueller:

The order came down after a hearing held yesterday on a request by Apple (and possibly also one by Nokia) for sanctions against Samsung (and/or its outside counsel) for violation of a protective order, i.e., for illegal disclosure of (in this case, extremely) confidential business information.

I must say that I’m shocked.

Licensing executives from Samsung and Nokia held a meeting on June 4, 2013 to discuss a patent license deal between these parties. In that meeting, a Samsung exec, Dr. Seungho Ahn, “informed Nokia that the terms of the Apple-Nokia license were known to him” and according to a declaration from Nokia’s Chief Intellectual Property Officer, Paul Melin, “stated that Apple had produced the Apple-Nokia license in its litigation with Samsung, and that Samsung’s outside counsel had provided his team with the terms of the Apple-Nokia license”. The Melin declaration furthermore says that “to prove to Nokia that he knew the confidential terms of the Apple-Nokia license, Dr. Ahn recited the terms of the license, and even went so far as to tell Nokia that ‘all information leaks.’”

Shameless.

See also: Philip Elmer-DeWitt, who has compiled a long list of similar dirty tricks from Samsung.

How Panic Got Into Video Games With Campo Santo 

Dave Tach, writing for Polygon:

So when ex-Telltale Games designer and writer Sean Vanaman announced last month that the first game from Campo Santo, his new video game development studio, was “being both backed by and made in collaboration with the stupendous, stupidly-successful Mac utility software-cum-design studio slash app/t-shirt/engineering company Panic Inc. from Portland, Oregon,” it wasn’t expected, but it wasn’t exactly surprising, either. It was, instead, the logical conclusion of years-long friendships and suddenly aligning desires.

Can’t wait to see what comes of this.

Every First-Edition Ian Fleming James Bond Book Cover 

They’re all great, but Dr. No and Moonraker are my favorites of the bunch.

The State of Cheating in Android Benchmarks 

Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klug:

We started piecing this data together back in July, and even had conversations with both silicon vendors and OEMs about getting it to stop. With the exception of Apple and Motorola, literally every single OEM we’ve worked with ships (or has shipped) at least one device that runs this silly CPU optimization. It’s possible that older Motorola devices might’ve done the same thing, but none of the newer devices we have on hand exhibited the behavior. It’s a systemic problem that seems to have surfaced over the last two years, and one that extends far beyond Samsung.

Just sad.

Qualcomm Executive Calls Apple’s 64-Bit A7 a ‘Marketing Gimmick’ 

Agam Shah, reporting for Techworld:

“I know there’s a lot of noise because Apple did [64-bit] on their A7,” said Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, in an interview. “I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There’s zero benefit a consumer gets from that.”

OK, sure.

Update: Here’s a bit more:

“Predominantly… you need it for memory addressability beyond 4 GB. That’s it. You don’t really need it for performance, and the kinds of applications that 64-bit get used in mostly are large, server-class applications,” said Chandrasekher, who previously ran Intel’s mobile platforms group.

So we have an easy claim chowder test for these guys who are now arguing that the A7 going 64-bit is a “marketing gimmick” because the only significant advantage of 64-bit computing is the ability to address more than 4 GB of memory: Let’s see if they come out with 64-bit chipsets in the coming years for devices with 4 GB or less of RAM.

Lavabit Case Unsealed 

Kevin Poulsen, reporting for Wired’s Threat Level:

In an interesting work-around, Levison complied the next day by turning over the private SSL keys as an 11 page printout in 4-point type. The government, not unreasonably, called the printout “illegible.”

“To make use of these keys, the FBI would have to manually input all 2,560 characters, and one incorrect keystroke in this laborious process would render the FBI collection system incapable of collecting decrypted data,” prosecutors wrote.

The court ordered Levison to provide a more useful electronic copy. By August 5, Lavabit was still resisting the order, and the judge ordered that Levison would be fined $5,000 a day beginning August 6 until he handed over electronic copies of the keys.

On August 8, Levison shuttered Lavabit, making any attempt at surveillance moot. He posted an oblique message saying he’d been left with little choice in the matter.

In case you missed it yesterday, I encourage everyone to join me in contributing to Ladar Levison’s defense fund. He deserves our support.

Three Major Microsoft Investors Want Bill Gates to Step Down as Chairman 

Nadia Damouni and Bill Rigby, reporting for Reuters:

The three investors are concerned that Gates’ presence on the board effectively blocks the adoption of new strategies and would limit the power of a new chief executive to make substantial changes. In particular, they point to Gates’ role on the special committee searching for Ballmer’s successor.

They are also worried that Gates - who spends most of his time on his philanthropic foundation - wields power out of proportion to his declining shareholding.

If anything comes of this — man, what an ignominious end.

Do You Miss the ‘.com’ Button on the iOS 7 Keyboard? 

Good tip from Kirk McElhearn. Like he says, it’s not new to iOS 7, but I bet most people don’t know about it.

Galaxy Note 3 One-Handed Mode 

I’m at a loss for words on this one.

iOS 7 Accessibility Improvements for Switch Users 

Christopher Hills explains the news-to-me accessibility improvements in iOS 7 for users of switches (like this one, from Tecla).

Lifting the Lid on the iOS 7 UIPicker 

Nice dissection by Sean Woodhouse:

The inset tap area causes real problems when the picker is placed inline within a UITableView. It’s the same old ‘scroll views within scroll views’ conundrum developers have been struggling with since the dawn of graphical user interfaces, but made worse because you can easily miss the tap area within the control’s bounds and end up inadvertently scrolling the whole UITableView.

Field Notes ‘Drink Local’ Edition 

If I liked notebooks, Futura Bold, and drinking beer, I’d be all over these.

Wait.

Tumult Hype 

Worth a re-link, in the wake of Google’s free-but-janky Web Designer app. If you’re looking for a great tool that lets you build Flash-style animations based on HTML5, Tumult Hype does it with a terrific native Mac interface. $30, cheap!

Samsung Recruited to Join ‘MobileBench’ Consortium Tasked With Creating New Mobile Benchmarks 

And in baseball news, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are collaborating on new tests for performance-enhancing drugs.

Support Lavabit’s Legal Defense Fund 

Ladar Levison, founder of Lavabit:

To fight for the right to keep private emails private, I’ve created this Rally for my company, Lavabit: the encrypted-email service said to have been used by Edward Snowden.

I’ve shut down Lavabit because I refuse to be complicit in the crimes against the American people and the U.S. Constitution. I wish I could say more about our situation.

What happens now? We at Lavabit have started preparing the paperwork needed to continue fighting for the Constitution in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me to resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit defense fund.

An American citizen running an American company, and he’s not even allowed to say why he’s been forced to shut down his company. I’ve already donated; if you care about true civil liberties, I encourage you to donate as well.

The Verge: Samsung Galaxy Gear Review 

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge:

A smartwatch the Galaxy Gear is not. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly what it’s supposed to be. Samsung describes it as a companion device, and the Gear is indeed chronically dependent on an umbilical link to another Samsung device, but it never left me feeling like it was a helpful companion. The notifications are Orwellian, the media controls are exiguous, and the app selection has no substance to underpin the hype. Samsung’s attempt to turn the Gear into a style icon is also unlikely to succeed, owing to the company’s indecision about its target demographic. Trying to please all tastes has resulted in a predictably charmless and soulless product.

Seems universally panned.

Google Web Designer 

Visual layout and animation tool for web designers, free from Google. Think: replacement for Flash using HTML5. As a Mac app it’s gross — fake menu bar within the window, and nothing but an Edit menu in the real menu bar. Poking around the .app bundle, it looks like it’s just an embedded Chrome browser running an HTML5 web app. Impressive for a web app; weird for those used to real native Mac apps.

Ars Technica’s Galaxy Note 3 Review 

Ron Amadeo, reviewing the Galaxy Note 3 hardware:

This time around, Samsung has opted to cover the back in a plastic faux-leather with pretend stitching around the perimeter. It sounds ridiculous, but it actually looks great. Along with the stylus, it really has a “Moleskin Notebook” vibe going. It doesn’t feel like leather at all; it’s just a textured soft-touch plastic. It’s a step up from Samsung’s usual glossy plastic, but the design here is still disappointing when compared to the HTC One, Nexus 4, or anything Apple has made in the last two years.

The S-Pen is still here too. While Samsung is clearly trying to ditch the “cheap-plastic” feeling on the exterior of the phone, they haven’t done anything to help the feel of the S-Pen. It’s made out of the chintziest plastic imaginable. It’s so light that it feels disposable, like something you’re supposed to throw out after every use. I would have preferred something closer to the nice heft of a metal pen, but this is basically a hollow plastic tube with a button on it. It just seems odd using your $700 device with a 25¢ pen.

Sounds about right. The fake stitches are my favorite.

Galaxy Note 3 Cheats on Benchmarks 

Ron Amadeo, writing for Ars Technica:

We noticed an odd thing while testing the Samsung Galaxy Note 3: it scores really, really well in benchmark tests — puzzlingly well, in fact. A quick comparison of its scores to the similarly specced LG G2 makes it clear that something fishy is going on, because Samsung’s 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 blows the doors off LG’s 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800. What makes one Snapdragon so different from the other?

After a good bit of sleuthing, we can confidently say that Samsung appears to be artificially boosting the US Note 3’s benchmark scores with a special, high-power CPU mode that kicks in when the device runs a large number of popular benchmarking apps. Samsung did something similar with the international Galaxy S 4’s GPU, but this is the first time we’ve seen the boost on a US device. We also found a way to disable this special CPU mode, so for the first time we can see just how much Samsung’s benchmark optimizations affect benchmark scores.

What a bizarre coincidence that a company as honest and reputable as Samsung would get caught doing this again.

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