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.
If your company has a legacy intranet or a customer community built on SharePoint, you should give Igloo a try. This report from Igloo outlines the five main areas SharePoint falls short and how Igloo does it better. Best of all, Igloo is free to use with up to ten people — free! — so you can start building your own Igloo today with no obligation or hassle.
‘This Is a Generic Brand Video’ ★
Google Mandates ‘Powered by Android’ Branding on New Devices ★
Russell Holly, writing for Geek.com:
HTC and Samsung have something new popping up on their smartphones
every time you boot them up, and apparently the feature was
mandated by Google.
Android is not a household brand. Google is but, despite having a
significant portion of the global marketshare, their smartphone OS
is not. And as long as hardware manufacturers are allowed to
design their own user interfaces for Android, it’s going to be
very difficult for the average consumer to look at a Nexus 5, an
HTC One M8, and a Samsung Galaxy S5 and know that they are all
running the exact same operating system. Google is hoping to
change that, and one method the company has started to use is
mandating that the phrase “Powered by Android” be present
during the boot animation on new phones.
Yet another sign that Google’s relationship with Android OEMs is growing ever more adversarial. The handset makers do not want this — or at least the major ones like Samsung and HTC do not. Samsung and HTC want to promote their own brands, not “Android”. (If they wanted to promote Android, they’d have done so before Google mandated it.)
And this is quite different from the Windows and “Intel Inside” stickers that most PCs have shipped with for years — PC OEMs get paid for those promotions.
Roku CEO Claims Apple TV Is a Money-Loser ★
Joan E. Solsman, reporting for CNet:
“Apple TV is essentially an accessory for the iPad. They lose
money, which is unusual for Apple,” he said Thursday, speaking at
the Recode conference here. “If you’re losing money, why would you
want to sell more?”
He characterized his comments about Apple TV as speculative.
Always fun to read speculation from outsiders regarding Apple and profits.
Three Mozilla Board Members Resign Over Choice of New CEO ★
Alistair Barr, reporting for the WSJ:
Three Mozilla board members resigned over the choice of Brendan
Eich, a Mozilla co-founder, as the new CEO. Gary Kovacs, a former
Mozilla CEO who runs online security company AVG Technologies;
John Lilly, another former Mozilla CEO now a partner at
venture-capital firm Greylock Partners; and Ellen Siminoff, CEO of
online education startup Shmoop, left the board last week.
The departures leave three people on the Mozilla board:
co-founder Mitchell Baker; Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn,
and Katharina Borchert, chief executive of German news site
If there were six board members, and three of them were so staunchly opposed to naming Eich as CEO that they resigned afterward, how exactly did the math on that vote work?
An ugly transition like this is as sure a sign as any that Mozilla is in the midst of institutional collapse. They have one successful project: Firefox for Windows. That’s a relic of a bygone era. All the growth in the industry is in mobile, and Mozilla browsers have, effectively, zero share of the mobile market.
And this doesn’t even get into the fact that the Mozilla rank-and-file are opposed to Eich on the grounds that he was a financial supporter of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative to prohibit gay marriage.
Microsoft Changes Policy on Inspecting Customer Email ★
Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel:
Last Thursday, news coverage focused on a case in 2012 in which
our investigators accessed the Hotmail content of a user who was
trafficking in stolen Microsoft source code. Over the past week,
we’ve had the opportunity to reflect further on this issue, and
as a result of conversations we’ve had internally and with
advocacy groups and other experts, we’ve decided to take an
additional step and make an important change to our privacy
Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that
someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or
physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a
customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the
matter to law enforcement if further action is required.
Seems like exactly the right way to handle this. And, credit to Microsoft for acting on this in a matter of days.
Field Notes Brand ★
It’s my pleasure to thank Field Notes Brand for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their new seasonal release for spring is the Shelterwood Edition. We all know that paper is made from wood; these memo books are made of wood. They feature covers made from American Cherry and no two are the same. They’ve made a gorgeous short film showing how they’re made — every step of the way from uncut logs to finished notebooks.
The Shelterwood Edition is available right now in 3-Packs and as part of a year-long subscription. Sign up for a subscription today and get the Shelterwood Edition right now and the next 3 seasonal editions as they’re released. Use the coupon code “FIREBALL” and the Field Notes crew will jam-pack your first shipment with extra stuff. Lots of extra stuff.
Quite simply, Field Notes are the best notebooks in the world. I never leave the house without one in my pocket.
On Rotation ★
John August, on adding landscape support to his iPhone app Weekend Read:
Ultimately, every choice comes with a cost. Adding landscape to
the iPhone isn’t impossible, but it means not doing something
else, and right now the many “something elses” are worth a
For a lot of apps, adding landscape support almost doubles the design work. (But I realize many people type better in landscape; it’s on our radar for Vesper, at least for editing.)
‘Apple After Jobs: Pretty Much the Same as Ever’ ★
Farhad Manjoo nails Haunted Empire.
Scoble Is Concerned About Google Glass ★
Larry Page is on stage at TED right now. I’m at home watching.
He is not wearing Google Glass.
Scoble, Scoble, Scoble. Glass is so 2012. It’s all about Android Wear watches in 2014.
Google’s Dominance of the Mobile Ad Market Is Slipping ★
WSJ Digits (curiously un-bylined):
The global market for mobile ad dollars more than doubled in 2013
to $17.96 billion and it is on pace to hit $31.45 billion in 2014,
according to data from eMarketer that was compiled by Statista.
Google’s share fell below 50% in 2013 and is projected to slip
further, the data show. Facebook, on the other hand, ramped up
quickly last year and its share is expected to top 20% in 2014.
It’s not just that Google’s share keeps falling — it’s that the overall mobile advertising marketing is growing so fast. Financially, Google is still geared for a world where the majority of online use is on PCs.
Google Announces ‘Android Wear’ ★
I’ve been thinking about this for days, and I just can’t get past the fact that they don’t explain how these watches have always-on color displays and reasonable battery life. Maybe I’m too skeptical, or too biased against Google and this sort of “we’ll do the OS, a bunch of OEMs will make various devices” model — but I just don’t believe this is anywhere near ready to ship as a practical product.
I’m reminded of this.
Update: Apparently the watch display is not always on. It goes off, and uses motion/gyro sensors to turn on when you move your wrist (and, I presume, turns on when you receive a new notification). We shall see how well that works. Even so I remain skeptical regarding battery life.
Google Under Fire for Data-Mining Student Email Messages ★
Benjamin Herold, reporting for Education Week:
As part of a potentially explosive lawsuit making its way through
federal court, giant online-services provider Google has
acknowledged scanning the contents of millions of email messages
sent and received by student users of the company’s Apps for
Education tool suite for schools.
In the suit, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company also faces
accusations from plaintiffs that it went further, crossing a
“creepy line” by using information gleaned from the scans to build
“surreptitious” profiles of Apps for Education users that could be
used for such purposes as targeted advertising.
How Microsoft Tracked Down Trade Secret Leaking Employee ★
Four days later, on September 7, 2012, the FBI says
The source indicated that the blogger contacted the source using
a Microsoft Hotmail e-mail address that TWCI had previously
connected to the blogger. After confirmation that the data was
Microsoft’s proprietary trade secret, on September 7, 2012
Microsoft’s Office of Legal Compliance (OLC) approved content
pulls of the blogger’s Hotmail account. [emphasis added]
Those email messages in turn led to instant messaging
conversations and links to files shared on SkyDrive. Every piece
of data was stored on Microsoft servers using an account allegedly
linked to Kibkalo.
Microsoft is taking a serious PR hit on the privacy implications of this. They’ve been telling us for years that they don’t read our email (unlike Google), but now it turns out they do, if they think we’re using it to leak Windows source code.
They nailed a guy who was flat-out stealing from them. I’m not even saying they were wrong to do it — I’m simply questioning whether it was worth it.
Some Classic Claim Chowdhry ★
So much to choose from, but here’s a good one from 2009:
Investors should not think the upcoming version of iPhone 3 is
going to be as successful as iPhone 2.0 because it will have solid
competition from Palm Pre, developed by ex-Apple designer Jon
Palm Pre has a superior operating system than iPhone. It runs on a
better network — Sprint CDMA — versus iPhone which runs on GSM.
60 Days ★
Cadie Thompson, writing for CNBC, “Time Is Ticking for Apple to Announce an iWatch, Say Analysts”
Apple needs an iWatch sooner rather than later, or the company
will risk losing its innovative edge to rivals, analysts say.
“They only have 60 days left to either come up with something or
they will disappear,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director at
Global Equities Research. “It will take years for Apple’s $130
billion in cash to vanish, but it will become an irrelevant
company … it will become a zombie, if they don’t come up with an
I’m guessing the ellipsis denotes when he paused for another line of coke.
Jony Ive Interview With John Arlidge ★
John Arlidge scored a rare interview with Jony Ive for the (London) Sunday Times Magazine; Time has a U.S. reprint. There are several illuminating remarks from Ive; he may be publicity-shy, but when he talks, he thinks. He does not phone it in. There’s a great anecdote about what it was like traveling with Steve Jobs, but I’d be remiss not to quote the following:
If that were true, if Apple could no longer make stuff that
shreds, not pushes, the envelope, would Ive give up? “Yes. I’d
stop. I’d make things for myself, for my friends at home instead.
The bar needs to be high.” But, he adds: “I don’t think that will
happen. We are at the beginning of a remarkable time, when a
remarkable number of products will be developed. When you think
about technology and what it has enabled us to do so far, and what
it will enable us to do in future, we’re not even close to any
kind of limit. It’s still so, so new.”
Occam’s Razor suggests it’s no coincidence that a lengthy, rare interview with Jony Ive appears just before Haunted Empire hits shelves. This is Ive’s way of saying Kane’s book is nonsense. He knows what’s coming.
Must Have Touched Something, That’s for Sure ★
Recode has a response from Yukari Iwatani Kane regarding Tim Cook’s calling Haunted Empire “nonsense”:
“For Tim Cook to have such strong feelings about the book, it must
have touched a nerve,” Kane said. “Even I was surprised by my
conclusions, so I understand the sentiment. I’m happy to speak
with him or anyone at Apple in public or private. My hope in
writing this book was to be thought-provoking and to start a
conversation which I’m glad it has.”
Somehow I doubt she was surprised by her conclusions. As for why Cook saw fit to comment, sure, it could be because her book hit painfully close to home. Or, it could be that it truly is nonsense. Reviews thus far clearly suggest the latter.
‘There Were Some Interesting Bits’ ★
Seth Weintraub, reviewing Haunted Empire:
The book concludes exactly how it has been prepared to conclude
(sorry, no surprise ending). Apple is in a free fall (increasing
sales numbers notwithstanding). Employees are leaving for Google
and other Valley startups as soon as their stocks vest, if they
can wait that long. Behind the scenes, morale is low and people
are scrambling to find that lost sense of purpose. There is no
room to believe that Apple could, in fact, have “its most
innovative years in front of it”, to use Steve Jobs’s
All of that said, I didn’t hate this book like a lot of other
Apple reviewers did. I believe it is good for folks like us who
often bathe ourselves in pro-Apple news and opinion to get an
alternate reality that perhaps the mainstream sees more often in
the 24-hour news/entertainment cycle. There were some interesting
bits and, if nothing else, Kane’s view of Apple is somehow both
cautionary and entertaining.
Weintraub’s is the least negative review I’ve seen — the only one that isn’t downright scathing.
Rene Ritchie: ‘This Is a Bad Book’ ★
Rene Ritchie on Haunted Empire:
To be clear, my opinion is both objective and subjective. I freely
admit I dislike some works that are genius and absolutely love
some that are trashy as hell. That isn’t the case here. This isn’t
a great book I simply didn’t like. This is a bad book.
I was sent an advanced review copy a week ago and it was arduous
to get through it. I don’t have anything against the premise,
gloomy as it may be. No one can deny how important Steve Jobs was
to Apple and the hole his death left in the company and everyone
who worked with him. There’s certainly a case to be made that
Apple post-Steve Jobs is no longer the company that shook the
world with Mac and iPod + iTunes and iPhone. There is a case to be
made that Apple is doomed. Kane just fails to make it. Worse, she
doesn’t even try.
Looking forward to reading my copy.
Rumor Monger ★
Harry Chesley, who worked in Apple’s Advanced Technology Group during the Jobs-in-exile years:
Rumor Monger was conceived as an experiment in distributed, light-weight communication, what today we would call peer-to-peer instant messaging with broadcast. The program sat in the background, continually exchanging messages with other machines. The user could, at any time, bring it to the front and enter a new message, which would then be distributed to every other instance of the program within the company-wide local area network. As an afterthought, I added the option to send messages anonymously. This was done sort of on principle, more than because I thought anyone would actually use it. The test population was Apple Computer employees.
To my surprise, Rumor Monger rapidly became very popular within the company. And even more to my surprise, 99% of all messages sent were sent anonymously. This changed it from an experiment in technology into an experiment in sociology.
Interesting precursor to Secret and its ilk — from 1990.
Jason Snell on ‘Haunted Empire’ ★
If Yukari Iwatani Kane’s Haunted Empire teaches us anything, it’s that a dogged newspaper reporter who wants to write a book about Apple needs a narrative hook to hang the story on. In Kane’s case it’s right there in the title: Apple is an empire that’s haunted by its fallen emperor, Steve Jobs, an organization that just can’t make up for his loss and is falling apart right before our eyes.
The book pounds that premise endlessly, wrapping up numerous chapters by describing photos of “the emperor” looking down on his former subjects at Cupertino. No, seriously. Apple’s foundation, she writes at one point, is “a cult built around a dead man.” When Apple Geniuses knock on your door and offer you literature describing how AppleCare can guarantee eternal life, you’ll have to admit she’s right.
Tim Cook Issues Statement on ‘Haunted Empire’ ★
This nonsense belongs with some of the other books I’ve read
about Apple. It fails to capture Apple, Steve, or anyone else in
Tell us what you really think, Tim.
Horace Dediu Illustrates Apple and Samsung’s Domination of the Handset Industry ★
Jaw dropping graphs, and this insightful conclusion:
To earn profit is hard, to do so in an outsized way is very hard
and to do so with consistency shows a defensibility of market
access that is rarest of all. The only cases where this typical is
in a monopoly or protected market situation (aka cronyism.)
Apple’s lack of market monopoly coupled with a (near-) monopoly in
profits can only be explained by disproportionate value creation.
The mystery then is how is it possible to build a monopoly in
Apple Replaces iPad 2 With iPad 4 at Same Price ★
Interesting mid-generation lineup move. $399 buys you a lot more iPad today than it did yesterday — retina display, A6X chip, better cameras, Siri, and more. This leaves the $299 iPad Mini as the last remaining non-retina iPad.
In other news: Apple today released an 8 GB iPhone 5C in a few non-U.S. countries. Not sure what the point of this is, given that it’s only about 8-9 percent cheaper than the 16 GB model.
Úll 2014 ★
Great lineup of speakers — including, once again, yours truly — and an intriguing venue in Kilkenny, Ireland from April 28–30. The first Úll was great; the second was even better; I can’t wait to see what’s in store this year. They just opened up a new round of tickets — if you’re interested (and you should be), act fast.
More on Android and SD Cards ★
Jerry Hildenbrand, writing for Android Central:
It’s simple, really. Prior to Android 4.4 KitKat, applications —
provided they had permission to access the SD card — could read
and write to any area on removable storage, including the system
folders like DCIM, Alarms, etc. That has all changed, and now
third-party applications — as in ones you download from Google
Play or elsewhere — can only write to files and folders that they
have created or have taken ownership of.
This keeps things “tidy.” Apps aren’t dumping files everywhere on
the card — something we’ve all encountered — and instead have
one central location to put all their files. There also are some
serious security concerns that were addressed by not letting an
app write files just anywhere.
I’d venture to say this change is a lot more about security than it is “tidiness”.
Worth noting: 97.5 percent of active Google Play Android devices are using Android 4.3 or older.
Update: Also worth noting: with the
READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission, apps on KitKat can still read the entirety of the SD card.
Reading the WhatsApp Message History on Android ★
Ingrid Lunden, writing for AOL/TechCrunch:
WhatsApp — the popular messaging app with 465 million users
acquired by Facebook for $19 billion last month — came under fire
earlier this week after tech consultant Bas Bosschert published a
blog post explaining how malicious developers can access your
messages via the microSD card, and the post went viral (yes, we
wrote about it, too).
Now, WhatsApp has responded — perhaps unsurprisingly, to refute
the weight of the information. A spokesperson tells us the reports
“have not painted an accurate picture and are overstated.” He also
notes that the latest version in Google Play was updated with
further security protection.
The original blog post (and follow-up) make for an interesting read. The gist of it, as I understand it, is that if WhatsApp is configured to store your message history on your phone, it uses the SD card (or, on devices without an SD card, the general file system). Any other app with access privileges to the file system can then read WhatsApp’s history database. The file is encrypted, but this Python script will decrypt it.
That any app with SD card access privileges can read anything on the SD card is not a bug — that’s how Android is designed to work. Android is more like Mac OS X or Windows in this regard than iOS (on iOS, all file storage is sandboxed, and apps can only read and write to their own sandbox). It seems like a problem, though, that WhatsApp’s encryption has been cracked.
Mac apps worked liked this for decades — all apps had complete access to any file owned by the current user. Today, apps from the Mac App Store are sandboxed by default, as a defense against just this sort of thing. But apps from outside the Mac App Store still have read/write access to your entire home folder.
Speaking of Sonos ★
Todd Bishop, writing for GeekWire:
Marc Whitten, the longtime Xbox Live leader who has worked most
recently as Xbox chief product officer, is leaving Microsoft to
join Sonos as chief product officer.
‘Available for Android Today and iOS This Spring’ ★
Only fair to point out when an app does ship Android-first — in this case, Sonos.
Update: Ah, this explains it: it’s a public beta, and public betas can’t be distributed on the iTunes App Store. Funny that The Verge doesn’t mention that.
Wall Street’s Valuation of Yahoo’s Core Business ★
Matthew Klein, writing for Bloomberg View:
Alibaba is valued at about $153 billion, according to analysts
surveyed by Bloomberg News. Yahoo itself is worth about $39
billion as of this writing and this includes its ownership of
about 24 percent of Alibaba. If you subtract that out you are left
with a company that’s worth just a little more than $2 billion —
less than AOL Inc., Groupon Inc., or Zynga Inc.
Yahoo also has a 35 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, a publicly
traded company now valued at about $32.3 billion. Subtract out
Yahoo’s stake and this means that investors seem to value Yahoo’s
own business at less than nothing — not what you would expect
from a profitable enterprise.
I’d say this is more damning of Wall Street than Yahoo.
Dorian Nakamoto ‘Unconditionally Denies’ Involvement With Bitcoin ★
Michael Hiltzik, reporting for the LA Times:
It’s still possible, very marginally, that Newsweek is correct in
fingering Dorian S. Nakamoto as the mysterious inventor of
bitcoin. But it’s hard to imagine a more thorough and detailed
denial than the one the 64-year-old Temple City man issued late
Sunday through a Los Angeles lawyer.
Either he’s lying, or Newsweek screwed up big-time.
The United States and United Kingdom Join Reporters Without Borders’ ‘Enemies of the Internet’ Index ★
Why ‘Veronica Mars’ Embraced UltraViolet and Angered Fans ★
Moisés Chiullan, writing for TechHive:
The experience of signing up for UltraViolet is completely unlike
signing up for an AppleID or Amazon account.
First, you have to sign up for an UltraViolet account at UVVU.com,
a logical, easy-to-remember (not really) acronym for a service
that legally can’t live on an individual studio or recognized
Second, you need to sign up for an UltraViolet-backed service like
Flixster, formerly owned by Fox and now owned by Veronica Mars
distributor Warner Bros. When forced to use UltraViolet, I prefer
Vudu, even though it’s owned by Walmart. Other options include
CinemaNow (Best Buy) and Target Ticket (Target).
And possibly third, you may find that the service that you chose
is “already linked to an UltraViolet account.” You may have signed
up in the past and forgot about it, back when the service in
question was owned by a different company or went by another name
or identity. (Flixster, for example, snagged its first big wave of
users as a Facebook app.) Or you might have tried to redeem a
digital copy of a disc from a studio that doesn’t give you the
option of redeeming via iTunes or Amazon.
What a mess. This turd of a system has no chance of long-term success with a process like this.
Christina Warren, on Twitter:
This whole Veronica Mars redemption BS really is a reminder that
as much as I love the idea of UltraViolet, it has an awful
Ideas are nearly worthless; implementations mean everything.
‘It’s Time for Us to Start Making the News a Little Nerdier’ ★
Nate Silver’s ambitious re-imagined and vastly expanded FiveThirtyEight has launched.
‘We Used to Finger Each Other’ ★
Special guest star Brent Simmons joins yours truly on this week’s episode of The Talk Show to discuss: the past and future of Apple programming languages; how to make coffee and popcorn (albeit not together); whether links should be underlined on web pages; and Brent’s new podcast (co-hosted by Chris Parrish), The Record.
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How the Tablet Made an Ass of the PC ★
John Kirk, writing for Techpinions:
Suspend belief for a moment and imagine that the PC is an Elephant
and that the Tablet is an Ass. (That wasn’t so hard, now was it?)
Imagine further that you lived in a land where the only pack
animals were Elephants.
If you only have one tool, then that is the tool that you will use
for most every task. If you only have one pack animal, i.e., the
Elephant, then that is the pack animal that you will use for most
every task. (Similarly, if you only have one type of computer,
i.e., the PC, then that is the computer that you will use for most
every computing task.)
It’s exactly like the command-line vs. GUI arguments from the late ’80s and early ’90s. People today forget that that was a thing. But I remember when just about every single thread on Usenet — not just on tech groups, but on any group: sports, movies, politics, whatever — eventually devolved into an argument about whether GUIs were a fad and/or just for dummies who couldn’t figure out how to drive a computer using DOS or a UNIX shell.
Post-PC devices have already secured victory. It’s just a matter of waiting for the endgame to run its course. And then we’ll collectively forget the argument ever happened.
Mark Zuckerberg: ‘The U.S. Government Should Be the Champion for the Internet, Not a Threat’ ★
This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated
reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers
work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting
you against criminals, not our own government.
The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a
threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re
doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.
(Also, note the attribution: “Via Paper”. Did he write that whole thing on his iPhone?)
Interviews with interesting people, pulled from Reddit, organized, and made prettier.
Measles Outbreak in New York City ★
Tara Culp Ressler, writing for Think Progress:
Federal health officials have already been able to connect the
dots here. Last fall, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) issued a report warning that anti-vaccine beliefs
have fueled a rise in measles cases. Researchers noted that 2013
saw the highest number of measles cases in nearly two decades, and
80 percent of those cases occurred among unvaccinated people —
most of whom cited “philosophical differences” with the MMR
Is this anti-vaccination movement just a U.S. thing, or is it spreading in other countries too?
Update: Reader responses make clear that this is not just a U.S. thing; it’s a problem in a slew of first-world countries today.
K-Cup Coffee Prices ★
Tonx co-founder Tony Konecny:
The popularity of capsule coffee systems like K-Cups and Nespresso
is a marketing marvel. GMCR estimates that around 13% of all U.S.
households have one of their devices. But the real money comes
from not from the razors but the blades. Ounce for ounce,
consumers are generally paying anywhere from $35–60 a pound for
the ground coffee inside these capsules. Lock-in is lucrative.
That’s an insane price for mass-produced quality coffee. The appeal of these machines escapes me — I wouldn’t want one even if the coffee prices were roughly in line with regular market prices. But at these prices it just seems nutty. Is it because they can brew just one cup at a time?
Update: Full disclosure: Tonx has been a recurring DF sponsor, but my interest here is in what people see in these pod brewers.
The Auteur Theory ★
Justin Williams, reflecting on True Detective:
As I read up on the show I learned that the entire eight episode
season was written by a sole writer (show creator Nic Pizzolatto)
and directed by a single director (Cary Fukunaga). Traditionally
TV shows are helmed by a cast of behind the scenes folks who take
turns at writing and directing different episodes. With True
Detective, a true auteur theory was allowed to play out on screen.
One writer. One director. Eight hours of the best television I’ve
seen in a long time.
The best creative works, whether they be TV shows, books, or apps,
are the products of focus and vision.
The Setup: John McAfee ★
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say this is one you don’t want to miss.
Businessweek: ‘How Target Blew It’ ★
Epic, feature-length cover story for Businessweek:
In testimony before Congress, Target has said that it was only
after the U.S. Department of Justice notified the retailer about
the breach in mid-December that company investigators went back to
figure out what happened. What it hasn’t publicly revealed: Poring
over computer logs, Target found FireEye’s alerts from Nov. 30 and
more from Dec. 2, when hackers installed yet another version of
the malware. Not only should those alarms have been impossible to
miss, they went off early enough that the hackers hadn’t begun
transmitting the stolen card data out of Target’s network. Had the
company’s security team responded when it was supposed to, the
theft that has since engulfed Target, touched as many as one in
three American consumers, and led to an international manhunt for
the hackers never would have happened at all.
It occurs to me that a similar breach is surely one of the biggest risks facing Apple today. Nobody has been trusted with more credit card numbers than Apple, and there’s no company whose shortcomings garner more press attention.
‘Mad Men’ Final Season Artwork by Milton Glaser ★
Randy Kennedy, writing last week for the NYT:
On a recent morning in a townhouse office on East 32nd Street in
Manhattan, reality was treading closely, and somewhat strangely,
in fiction’s footsteps. The client sitting in the conference room,
waiting for his real-life ad man, was the show’s creator, Matthew
Weiner. And the ad man was not just another bright, creative type
from the art department. It was Milton Glaser, who — probably
more than any graphic designer of his generation — forged the
sophisticated, exuberant advertising look of the late 1960s, the
time “Mad Men” is now traversing, and whose work to publicize the
show’s new season will begin appearing next week on buses and
billboards around the country.
I feel like I should have guessed in advance that they’d turn to Glaser for the final season’s art. That Glaser is still working is obviously due in part to his longevity (he’s 84 years old), but it also goes to show that Mad Men’s timeframe, though it can feel like ancient history, isn’t really all that long ago.
Measuring Attention Instead of Clicks or Pageviews ★
Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, writing for Time:
Chartbeat looked at deep user behavior across 2 billion visits
across the web over the course of a month and found that most
people who click don’t read. In fact, a stunning 55% spent fewer
than 15 seconds actively on a page. The stats get a little better
if you filter purely for article pages, but even then one in every
three visitors spend less than 15 seconds reading articles they
land on. The media world is currently in a frenzy about click
fraud, they should be even more worried about the large percentage
of the audience who aren’t reading what they think they’re
The data gets even more interesting when you dig in a little.
Editors pride themselves on knowing exactly what topics can
consistently get someone to click through and read an article.
They are the evergreen pageview boosters that editors can pull out
at the end of the quarter to make their traffic goals. But by
assuming all traffic is created equal, editors are missing an
opportunity to build a real audience for their content.
Solid piece, and I’m largely in agreement with his main point: measuring advertising value by counting clicks and pageviews has led the entire web astray. But as the CEO of a data analytics company, I think Haile is naturally biased towards advanced analytics as the way out of this mess. It’s hard to measure quality — but that’s what ought to be valued.
‘It’s the Software, Dummy’ ★
Dan Moren, writing for Macworld:
Most people probably don’t ever think about the software in their
car. And with good reason, too, since most automakers aren’t
exactly consumed with a passion for developing software. Even in
the cases where car companies do want to pimp the software
features, the spotlight’s always going to be on the newest model
— they don’t have too much interest in continuing to update the
software on older models, especially when it comes to adding new
Sound familiar? Because to me it’s reminiscent of the state of the
cell phone market prior to about, oh, 2007.
I like the analogy. But is CarPlay the iPhone in 2007, or the Rokr in 2005? From what I’ve seen today:
Update: I guess Eddy Cue drives a Ferrari?
Critical Crypto Bug Leaves Linux, Hundreds of Apps Open to Eavesdropping ★
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica:
The bug is the result of commands in a section of the GnuTLS code
that verify the authenticity of TLS certificates, which are often
known simply as X509 certificates. The coding error, which may
have been present in the code since 2005, causes critical
verification checks to be terminated, drawing ironic parallels to
the extremely critical “goto fail” flaw that for months put users
of Apple’s iOS and OS X operating systems at risk of
surreptitious eavesdropping attacks. Apple developers have since
patched the bug. […]
Matt Green, a Johns Hopkins University professor specializing in
cryptography, characterized the vulnerability this way: “It looks
Karelia Acquires Potion Factory ★
Interesting indie Mac developer news:
Today is an exciting day for us at Karelia Software because we are
finally announcing that Andy Kim — and his company Potion
Factory, and its wonderful apps — are now part of Karelia. […]
We have been big fans of The Hit List, Potion’s flagship app, for
a while now. We’ve looked around, and we’ve never found a better
designed app to handle personal task management than The Hit List,
perfectly balanced between power and ease-of-use. We use it every
day. And we wanted to keep improving it, but also bring to it a
bigger marketing force and level of support than Andy was able to,
so that it can reach a bigger audience. You can learn more about
The Hit List here on our site.
Christopher Soghoian to Interview Edward Snowden at SXSW ★
Speaking of SXSW, big news from Hugh Forrest:
On Monday, March 10 at 11:00 am, join us for a conversation
between Edward Snowden and Christopher Soghoian, the principal
technologist of the American Civil Liberties Union. The
conversation will be focused on the impact of the NSA’s spying
efforts on the technology community, and the ways in which
technology can help to protect us from mass surveillance. Hear
directly from Snowden about his beliefs on what the tech community
can and must do to secure the private data of the billions of
people who rely on the tools and services that we build.
iOS 7.1 and the iTunes Festival at SXSW ★
Apple’s first iTunes Festival in the U.S. starts a week from today at SXSW in Austin. Apple is going to stream the performances to iOS devices using an app, but I’ve heard from a little birdie that the app requires iOS 7.1 (which explains why the app isn’t out yet). That means iOS 7.1 should ship any day now.
Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer to Retire at the End of September ★
“Peter has served as our CFO for the past decade as Apple’s annual
revenue grew from $8 billion to $171 billion and our global
footprint expanded dramatically. His guidance, leadership and
expertise have been instrumental to Apple’s success, not only as
our CFO but also in many areas beyond finance, as he frequently
took on additional activities to assist across the company. His
contributions and integrity as our CFO create a new benchmark for
public company CFOs,” said Tim Cook, Apple CEO. “Peter is also a
dear friend I always knew I could count on. Although I am sad to
see him leave, I am happy he is taking time for himself and his
family. As all of us who know him would have expected, he has
created a professional succession plan to ensure Apple doesn’t
miss a beat.”
On the surface, sounds like a man who’s ready to cash out. He took the helm as CFO after Fred Anderson
took the hit for the stock options backdating scandal retired in 2004, but he’s been at Apple for 18 years — predating the NeXT reunification. He’s only 51, but that’s a long run.
But it’s only fair to recall MG Siegler’s observation back in April when Microsoft CFO Peter Klein retired:
Who is best positioned to know that winter is coming?
Like Oppenheimer, Klein’s stated reason for retiring was to spend more time with his family. By December, Klein must have had enough time with his family, because he took the CFO gig at William Morris. Oppenheimer yesterday took a board seat at Goldman Sachs, but my hunch is he really is just retiring. I doubt we’ll see him take a CFO gig at another company. We’ll see.
Correction, 7p: I scrambled the timeline of the Anderson-Oppenheimer succession. Anderson retired in 2004, on good terms with the company. The options backdating scandal didn’t occur until 2007 (although Anderson and then-chief counsel Nancy Heinen did take the fall for it.)
WhatsApp Is Different ★
These charts show that not only Whatsapp different, but it is
exceptional and did well to capture the moment (i.e., rise of the
mobile broadband) near perfectly. They are not just exceptional,
they are a standout with highest rate of growth and getting to
that point the fastest.
Some eye-opening numbers.
(And to think I was worried about seeing less of Om’s byline.)
iCloud Keychain Security Details ★
Rich Mogull, writing for TidBITS:
For the first time, we have extensive details on iCloud security.
For security professionals like myself, this is like waking up and
finding a pot of gold sitting on my keyboard. Along with some of
the most impressive security I’ve ever seen, Apple has provided a
way to make it impossible for agencies like the NSA to obtain your
iCloud Keychain passwords.
The paper is incredibly dense, even getting to the level of detail
of which flavor of particular encryption algorithms are used in
which security controls. I will likely be digesting it for months,
but one particular section contained an important nugget that
explains why the NSA can’t snoop on your iCloud Keychain
Lukas Mathis on Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface ★
A few months ago, I gave away my iPad, and replaced it with, of
all things, a Microsoft Surface Pro 2.
Thoughtful and comprehensive review and analysis.
New Samsung Chromebooks Sport Faux Leather Finish, Including Fake Stitching ★
Again I say, perfect for people with no taste.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and iPhone Engineer Discuss Battery Technology ★
Speaking of Tesla, Apple, and their shared interest of battery technology.
Masters of Their Own Destiny ★
Great piece for Fast Company by Om Malik:
The strategy today is simple: In order to move fast, build what
you can’t buy or risk losing control of your fate and becoming the
next Palm, Motorola, or HTC. And if, in the process, you disrupt
an Oracle or a Qualcomm? So be it.
The Apple-Tesla Connection ★
Fun back-of-the-envelope calculation from Jean-Louis Gassée:
It’s a rough estimate, but close enough for today’s purpose: Apple
and Tesla need about the same tonnage of batteries this year.
Only ’90s Web Developers Remember This ★
1 × 1.gif should have won a fucking Grammy. Or a Pulitzer. Or Most
Improved, Third Grade Gym Class or something. It’s the most
important achievement in computer science since the linked list.
It’s not the future we deserved, but it’s the future we needed
(until the box model fucked it all up).
Nice trip down Memory Lane. For me, it was always “spacer.gif”. (Via Khoi Vinh.)
The Philadelphia Accent Fades Out ★
Great piece by Daniel Nester for the NYT:
The Philadelphia regional accent remains arguably the most
distinctive, and least imitable, accent in North America. Let’s
not argue about this. Ask anyone to do a Lawn Guyland accent or
a charming Southern drawl and that person will approximate it.
Same goes for a Texas twang or New Orleans yat, a Valley Girl
totally omigod. Philly-South Jersey patois is a bit harder: No
vowel escapes diphthongery, no hard consonant is safe from a
mid-palate dent. Extra syllables pile up so as to avoid
inconvenient tongue contact or mouth closure. If you forget to
listen closely, the Philadelphia, or Filelfia, accent may sound
like mumbled Mandarin without the tonal shifts.
The Very, Very Thin Wedge of Climate Change Denial ★
Phil Plait, writing for Slate:
Here’s the thing: If you listen to Fox News, or right-wing radio,
or read the denier blogs, you’d have to think climate scientists
were complete idiots to miss how fake global warming is. Yet
despite this incredibly obvious hoax, no one ever publishes
evidence exposing it. Mind you, scientists are a contrary lot. If
there were solid evidence that global warming didn’t exist, or
that CO2 emissions weren’t the culprit, there would be papers in
the journals about it. Lots of them.
I base this on my own experience with contrary data in astronomy.
In 1998, two teams of researchers found evidence that the
expansion of the Universe was not slowing down, as expected, but
actually speeding up. This idea is as crazy as holding a ball in
your hand, letting go, and having it fall up, accelerating wildly
into the sky. Yet those papers got published. They inspired lively
discussion (to say the least) and motivated further observations.
Careful, meticulous work was done to eliminate errors and
confounding factors, until it became very clear that we were
seeing an overturning of the previous paradigm. It took years, but
now astronomers accept that the Universal expansion is
accelerating and that dark energy is the culprit.
iOS CarPlay ★
Apple’s “iOS integrated with your car” initiative now has a name. Press release here.
The risk seems clear: Apple isn’t building the hardware in the cars. Color me skeptical that this is going to work smoothly. Also, no third-party app support — yet. Update: Actually, there are a handful of third-party apps — Beats Radio, iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Stitcher — but those are hand-picked partners. What I’m saying is there’s no way yet for any app in the App Store to present a CarPlay-specific interface.
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It’s more than just storage, though. Picturelife has great features: search, versioning, advanced de-duplication, similar shot stacks, importers for Flickr and Instagram, and robust private sharing.
Plans start at just $5, but they have a special offer for Daring Fireball readers: just use this link and you’ll save 20 percent off any plan, for life. I’ve been using Picturelife for a few months, and it’s a great service I’m happy to recommend.
WSJ Runs Excerpt From ‘Haunted Empire’ ★
More telling than the excerpt itself, which I found pretty much empty (Tim Cook is a demanding boss, intensely private, and a frugal spender), is the video interview with Kane:
Daisuke Wakabayashi: The one big question that hangs over Apple, anyone who follows Apple, is, have they lost their touch? Is Apple still king of the hill? After two years, what’s your conclusion?
Yukari Iwatani Kane: I think the answer is obvious to me. The answer has got to be yes. This is a company who had revolved around Steve Jobs for so long, I mean that was something that Jobs himself went out of his way to make sure of. And the people there are conditioned to operate, to play off of his strengths and weaknesses. And so now you’ve got this completely opposite guy in Tim Cook, who is I think brilliant in many ways, but in different ways. But so they’re going through some growing pains in that. […]
Wakabayashi: A normal great company, but maybe no longer an iconic company?
Everything Bill Drenttel Knew About Business in One Minute ★