Linked List: May 2014

Igloo 

My thanks to Igloo for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Igloo describes itself as “the intranet you’ll actually like”, and it’s about to get even better with their next major release, Unicorn. One of the headline new features in Unicorn iis social task management, providing the perfect balance between project management and getting your day-to-day work done.

You can manage projects with task lists, optimized for large groups of people; assign tasks from any piece of content, like requesting changes be made on a document; and you can create personal tasks that are assigned to you or another person. And you can see all your tasks in one unified view.

Learn more at Igloo’s Unicorn landing page. Or come see Unicorn in person — Igloo is hosting an event in Toronto on June 12, with customer presentations by Hulu and Nextel International. Register today as seating is limited.

Kontra’s Law 

Another one worth a re-link. Kontra, back in 2008, “Why Apple Doesn’t Do ‘Concept Products’”:

Apple would gain nothing from telegraphing its intentions and capabilities by releasing public conceptual products. The company is being more than prudent by not displaying their unconstrained fantasies to competitors, media, investors or customers.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, this inexorably leads us to Kontra’s law:

A commercial company’s ability to innovate is inversely proportional to its proclivity to publicly release conceptual products.

From the DF Archive: ‘The Type of Companies That Publish Future Concept Videos’ 

Yours truly, back in 2011:

“We’re like Apple in 1987” is not a badge of honor — it’s a flashing red warning light.

This is why I’m so skeptical about Google today. Their biggest, splashiest product announcements are for things like Glass and these new self-driving cars. They’re closer to being real products than Apple’s 1987 Knowledge Navigator, but they’re not real products. The seeds of Apple’s 1996 nadir were sown a decade earlier with unfocused pie-in-the-sky stuff like “Knowledge Navigator”.

See also: “Products for Nobody”, from earlier this year.

Matt Yglesias: ‘Google Wants to Reinvent Transportation, Apple Wants to Sell You Fancy Headphones’ 

Matt Yglesias, writing at Vox:

There were two striking pieces of business news this week from America’s leading technology brands. On the one hand, Google unveiled a prototype of an autonomous car that, if it can be made to work at scale, promises to end mass automobile ownership while drastically reducing car wreck fatalities and auto-related pollution. Meanwhile, Apple bought a company that makes high-end headphones.

Which is to say that Apple’s playing checkers while Google plays chess.

I’m usually a big fan of Yglesias, but this comparison seems like a dud to me. Even if you think Google’s self-driving car announcement is a big deal, and think that Apple’s acquisition of Beats is a bad one, the fact that they hit the news in the same week is mostly coincidence. (It’s possible — I’d even say probable — that Google unveiled their new car prototypes this week to take some wind out of Apple’s sails in the lead-up to the WWDC keynote Monday, and it’s also possible that Apple wanted to get the Beats deal announced before WWDC, which is why I say “mostly” coincidence.) What if Apple’s Beats deal had happened at the same time as Google’s (similarly-priced) acquisition of Nest? Somehow I doubt Yglesias would have written a “Google Wants to Sell You a Fancy Thermostat; Apple Wants to Sell You Fancy Headphones” piece.

Google tends to show its hardware initiatives early (exhibit A: Google Glass). These cars haven’t even hit actual roads yet, let alone hit the early adopter/enthusiast market, let alone the consumer mass market. Apple doesn’t do that. It could be that Apple is completely bankrupt creatively and has nothing truly new in the works. Or, maybe they do. Either way, it would look the same to us on the outside.

Update: Jon Snyder, on Twitter:

Maybe a better headline for Yglesias: Google may get around to reinventing transportation. Apple wants to sell headphones tomorrow.

Right. It’s foolish (but alas, common) to judge Apple based on what it is actually shipping today against what other companies might ship in the future. And in the case of self-driving cars, we’re talking the distant future.

Update 2: I feel like I’m repeating myself.

Comparison of the Day 

Jim Edwards, preaching for the Church of Market Share:

Branding and quality are important, of course. Apple usually wins there. And Apple’s business model is to only do the most profitable thing, not the most widespread thing. So loss of share may not bother Apple CEO Tim Cook. It may, in fact, be good for both margins and shareholders.

But the history of computing has one iron-cast lesson for us all: Devices get cheaper over time, and better over time. The high-priced seller usually loses. This is why nobody uses $8.8 million Cray computers anymore.

Yes, that’s what Apple’s iPhone business resembles: Cray. OK, sure.

Update: The 100 supercomputers in the world today. About 20 percent of them are from Cray.

Breakdown on the Beats Acquisition: $2.5 Billion for Electronics, $500 Million for Music 

The WSJ:

Apple Inc. is paying slightly less than $500 million for the Beats Music streaming service, and more than $2.5 billion for Beats Electronics in its $3 billion deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

The breakdown between the two portions of Beats Electronics LLC offers insight into Apple’s thinking for the most expensive acquisition in its history.

A person familiar with Beats said its 2013 sales totaled close to $1.3 billion — all from the electronics unit that sells headphones and other audio gear — and the company was profitable. Beats launched its streaming-music service in January.

Steve Ballmer to Buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 Billion 

ESPN:

Shelly Sterling announced late Thursday night that she has signed an agreement to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.

A source close to the situation told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that Sterling and Ballmer signed the final papers of the sale shortly before midnight at the offices of her Los Angeles-based attorneys. Sterling announced she was acting under her authority as the sole trustee of the Sterling family trust, which owns the Clippers.

Ballmer’s $2 billion bid beat a $1.6 billion bid from a group with some familiar names:

Geffen’s group also included Oracle CEO Larry Ellison; Oprah Winfrey; Guggenheim executives Todd Boehly and Mark Walter; Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Jobs; Steve Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn; and Beats by Dre co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

Ballmer should make for a great sports owner. He’s got plenty of money and a passion for winning.

Engadget: ‘Samsung Is Working With Oculus on a Media-Focused VR Headset’ 

Ben Gilbert, writing for Engadget:

Last week we told you about Samsung’s unannounced virtual reality headset: a peripheral that enables VR interaction for flagship phones from the world’s largest phone manufacturer. This week we’ve got far more details. First things first, Samsung’s headset is the fruit of a collaboration with Oculus VR, the Facebook-owned virtual reality startup that both literally and figuratively kickstarted the current wave of VR products.

Oculus is handling the software side of the product, while Samsung handles the hardware. The deal is a swap: Oculus gives Samsung early access to its mobile software development kit and helps develop user interface software, while Samsung gives Oculus early access to its next-gen OLED screens. And yes, Oculus is still making its own, gaming-focused, PC-based virtual reality headset; that’s why it needs next-gen, high-pixel-density OLED screens from Samsung. Join us below for new details about the device itself, as well as more on the unlikely partnership between two tech giants.

Now this seems interesting.

Robin Jasmer’s iPhone Photography 

From his 500px about page:

I am French and live in Denmark. I take pictures with my iPhone 5 and edit them with photoshop express app on the iPhone. I don’t use a Mac or PC to edit my pictures. I do it as a hobby and amateur, during my free time. I started about a year ago and I enjoy it a lot.

Lost amidst all the talk of “phones” is the fact that Apple has become one of the leading camera companies in the world. It’s a new ballgame when your camera itself serves as your editing device.

The Internet With a Human Face 

Remarkably thoughtful piece by Maciej Ceglowski on privacy, memory, and more. Must read.

Kids React to Old Computers 

Our nostalgia is their “What?!”

Hopscotch: Coding for Kids 

I mentioned Hopscotch off-handedly during the latest episode of The Talk Show, while discussing iPad apps that allow you to program on the iPad itself. It’s really an amazing app — I recommend it wholeheartedly for anyone with kids, and quite frankly, it’s fun for adults too. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see Hopscotch win an Apple Design Award next week.

Using Apps Side-by-Side on Windows 8 

Scroll down to “Using Apps Side by Side” and watch the video. It’s certainly interesting, and I can see how it’d be useful, especially on devices with larger screens like the new 12-inch Surface Pro 3.

But the interface for managing this is opaque, abstract, and complicated. You need to know how to do it before you can do it. There is nothing self-evident about it. If anything, it’s more abstract to manage side-by-side apps in Metro than it is in regular desktop Windows. With traditional windows on Windows and Mac OS X, you directly manipulate the window itself to move or resize it. In Metro, you need to memorize special edge gestures to enter different modes for rearranging, entering, or leaving the split-screen mode.

There has to be a better way.

Massimo’s Letters 

Julie Lasky, writing for the NYT:

“To see what people are saying, I cannot repeat it even, because I feel blushing,” Mr. Vignelli said that day, seated at a desk in his double-height living room next to a giant window of leaded glass. (Though he lived in the United States for 49 years, the Italian-born designer still spoke endearingly mangled English.)

Dressed in his habitual black, he had the same aquiline profile as always, the same irrepressible eyebrows. But he was as gaunt as a thin stroke of Bodoni, one of the few typefaces he used in his designs. (He famously confined himself to five or six out of the expanding font universe.)

Lovely video, too.

‘The Shawshank Residuals’ 

Great piece for the WSJ by Russell Adams on the lasting popularity of The Shawshank Redemption:

“Shawshank” was an underwhelming box-office performer when it hit theaters 20 years ago this September, but then it began to redeem itself, finding an audience on home video and later becoming a fixture on cable TV.

The film has taken a near-mystical hold on viewers that shows no sign of abating. Steven Spielberg once told the film’s writer-director Frank Darabont that he had made “a chewing-gum movie — if you step on it, it sticks to your shoe,” says Mr. Darabont, who went on to create “The Walking Dead” for AMC.

Tim Cook’s Memo to Employees on Beats Acquisition 

Tim Cook:

The Beats Music team will report to Eddy. The teams will be getting to know each other better in the weeks ahead, and we are very excited about the possibilities for the future.

Beats Electronics has become the brand of choice for headphones and speakers in both the music and sports world, just five years after its launch. They are among the most popular and highest-rated third-party products sold today in Apple’s retail and online stores. We see an incredible opportunity to bring Apple’s legendary design and engineering capabilities to these popular products under Phil’s leadership.

Not sure why anyone is surprised by this arrangement. Cue has long run Apple’s entertainment/iTunes stuff, and that’s where Beats Music clearly fits. As for the hardware reporting to Phil Schiller, that’s a little less obvious, but makes sense: what Beats needs as an Apple subsidiary is product marketing, a replacement for Ammunition, the firm that previously handled this for Beats.

The weirdest part of this whole thing to me is the idea of Apple acting as a parent company to an independent subsidiary brand. But with Beats Music that might make sense: Cook told the Financial Times’s Tim Bradshaw today that Beats Music will remain available for Android and Windows.

Imagining Developing for a Split-Screen iPad 

Roopesh Chander:

The case of the status bar might look like a small thing, but I take that as a significant hint. The iOS 7 transparent status bar works best with one app on the screen at a time. Apple being the company that thinks through well before shipping a design, it’s unlikely that they set the status bar transparent in iOS 7 and change course in the next major version.

My bet is that we are not going to see split-screen mutitasking being allowed for third-party apps in iOS 8, at least initially. If at all we’re going to get this feature, it would probably be restricted to some of the Apple apps.

Smart take. Either Apple has solutions to all the problems he lists, or this split-screen rumor isn’t happening.

GigaOm: ‘Apple Now Offers Education Discounts on iPads. Is That Because of Chromebooks?’ 

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines wins again.

Jackass of the Week: ISI Group Analyst Brian Marshall 

ISI Group analyst Brian Marshall:

Important to note, since 1996 and enacted through Proposition 215, medical marijuana has been legal in the state of California. However, based on our knowledge, there are no plans to house a medical marijuana dispensary in AAPL’s new “spaceship” campus headquarters currently under construction in Cupertino (expected occupancy in early 2016). Considering Dr. Dre’s debut solo album in 1992 was called The Chronic (slang for powerful marijuana), AAPL may want to reconsider the construction plans…

(Via Darby Lines.)

In Case You Were Wondering What Iovine and Dre’s Titles Would Be 

Hannah Karp and Alistair Barr, reporting for the WSJ:

Mr. Iovine, a longtime friend of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, said the two men’s titles would simply be “Jimmy and Dre.” They will work with both Apple’s electronics and music-streaming divisions, spending as much time at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., campus as necessary, while serving more broadly to bridge the cultural divide between technology and entertainment industries.

“The ugly truth is that there is such a Berlin Wall between Silicon Valley and L.A.,” Mr. Cook said in an interview. “The two don’t respect each other, don’t understand each other.

The Talk Show: ‘We’re Allowed to Make Stuff Up; It’s a Podcast’, With Dan Frommer 

Special guest Dan Frommer. Topics include Dan’s new gig as senior tech editor at Quartz, tablets as a form factor for full-featured PCs (and the now-aging design of the MacBook Air), WWDC rumors, the rumored iOS-style redesign of Mac OS X, previous Mac OS visual designs, and more.

Listen for ticketing information for next week’s live audience show from San Francisco, Tuesday evening.

Update: The first round of 350 tickets are sold out. I hope to make at least 50 more available later in the week after I finalize seating arrangements with the venue — so if you missed out, stay tuned.

Apple Store: Headphones 

Apple currently sells a lot of different third-party headphone brands — Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Sennheiser, Marshall, and more. Does Beats get special placement now, or do they remain peers to these other companies?

Apple to Acquire Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3 Billion 

Apple:

Apple today announced it has agreed to acquire the critically acclaimed subscription streaming music service Beats Music, and Beats Electronics, which makes the popular Beats headphones, speakers and audio software. As part of the acquisition, Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre will join Apple. Apple is acquiring the two companies for a total of $3 billion, consisting of a purchase price of approximately $2.6 billion and approximately $400 million that will vest over time.

“Music is such an important part of all of our lives and holds a special place within our hearts at Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “That’s why we have kept investing in music and are bringing together these extraordinary teams so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.”

“I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belonged with Apple,” said Jimmy Iovine. “The idea when we started the company was inspired by Apple’s unmatched ability to marry culture and technology. Apple’s deep commitment to music fans, artists, songwriters and the music industry is something special.”

$200 million less than the rumored price in The Financial Times’s scoop three weeks ago, but who’s counting?

‘My Natural Home’ 

Brent Simmons:

As much as I love writing iOS apps — and I do — the Mac is my natural home. I think of myself as a Mac developer first. The last Mac app I wrote was NetNewsWire Lite 4.0 in early 2011. It’s been over three years. Definitely time to come home.

Vesper for Mac is entirely a UI job. The data layer and API and syncing code already builds for Macintosh. Now, of course, UI is no small thing, not at all — but the challenge isn’t UI plus other things. It’s just that.

Google Unveils Self-Driving Vehicles 

“Really, they’re prototype vehicles,” says Chris Urmson, director of Google’s team.

You don’t say.

Joanna Stern: ‘Surface Pro 3: A Tablet That Desperately Wants to Be a Laptop’ 

Joanna Stern, reviewing the Surface Pro 3 for the WSJ:

In fact, at its news conference, the head of the Surface team directly said that this device would meet my expectations of the laptop of the future. Sometimes real life can be stranger than dreams.

Yes, Microsoft is confident that — with a larger, higher-resolution 12-inch HD screen, new keyboard, improved kickstand and $799 starting price — its new Surface Pro 3 tablet can replace not my iPad, but my beloved 13-inch MacBook Air.

So I tested that claim. For the last week, my laptop has lived under my bed as I’ve spent my waking life with the Pro 3. On its third attempt, Microsoft has leapt forward in bringing the tablet and laptop together — and bringing the laptop into the future. But the Pro 3 also suffers from the Surface curse: You still make considerable compromises for getting everything in one package.

Debug 37: Simmons, Wiskus, Gruber, and Vesper Sync 

Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and I were guests on the latest episode of Rene Ritchie and Guy English’s Debug podcast, talking about — what else? — Vesper 2.0 and Vesper Sync. If you want the long answer to the question, “Why did you roll your own sync service?”, this is the podcast for you.

Love that photo Rene took to illustrate the post.

Vesper 2.0 and Vesper Sync 

Yours truly, writing at the Vesper blog:

Today we released Vesper 2.0, which introduces our new sync system, which we’re calling Vesper Sync.

We’ve tried to make it as easy and simple as possible to use. Here’s how it works. First, you create a Vesper Sync account using an email address and a password. Then, your Vesper data — the text of your notes, your image attachments, your tags, everything — syncs to our cloud service. Sign in using the same account on another device, and your Vesper data will appear on that device.

That’s it.

There is no charge. No subscription. You just create an account using your email address as your identity and it works.

It’s the weirdest thing, to spend eight months of intensive development, design, and testing to build something that (we hope) simply works almost invisibly. I’m really proud of this release.

Apple to Stream Next Week’s WWDC Keynote Live 

Apple:

Watch streaming video from this special event and learn more about our exciting announcements.

I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Massimo Vignelli Dies at 83 

Michael Bierut:

Finally, from Massimo I learned never to give up. He was able to bring enthusiasm, joy and intensity to the smallest design challenge. Even after fifty years, he could delight in designing something like a business card as if he had never done one before.

It was Massimo who taught me one of the simplest things in the world: that if you do good work, you get more good work to do, and conversely bad work brings more bad work. It sounds simple, but it’s remarkable, in a lifetime of pragmatics and compromises, how easy it is to forget: the only way to do good work is simply to do good work. Massimo did good work.

Jesper’s WWDC 2014 Predictions 

Jesper:

OS X 10.10 introduced, and never once referred to as “OS ten ten ten”. Maybe as OS X Napa.

As an aside, please stop arguing that Apple “can’t” use 10.10 as a version number because that’d be the same thing as 10.1. Version numbers are not decimals — the periods simply act as separators between major and minor fields. They’re more like IP addresses, and I don’t see anyone arguing that 10.10.10.10 is “equivalent” to 1.1.1.1. Plus, it’s not like we haven’t been here before.

iOS-to-OS X AirDrop.

Some of the items on Jesper’s list sound more like wishes than predictions, but this one I really hope happens. It’s frustrating when you have something in front of you on your Mac that you want to send to your iPhone (or vice versa) and you have to do something silly like iMessage yourself to transfer it.

Update: A few good predictions from Rich Siegel.

Financial Times: ‘Apple Readying New Software Platform for the “Smart Home”’ 

Tim Bradshaw, reporting for The Financial Times:

Apple is readying a new software platform that would turn the iPhone into a remote control for lights, security systems and other household appliances, as part of a move into the “internet of things”.

Apple plans to take on rivals Google and Samsung and make a “big play” in the world of smart home technology at its Worldwide Developer Conference on June 2 in San Francisco, according to people familiar with the matter.

This will reinforce the view, held by some in Silicon Valley, that Jetsons-style home automation is the next frontier in technology as growth in smartphone sales begins to slow in developed markets.

I’m pretty excited for next week.

Farhad Manjoo: ‘Amazon’s Tactics Confirm Its Critics’ Worst Suspicions’ 

Farhad Manjoo:

Just wait, the company’s critics have always shot back. Wait till Amazon controls the whole market — then see how well it treats authors, publishers and customers.

Now Amazon is walking right into its detractors’ predictions. There are a couple obvious reasons this is a bad strategy. It’s bad public relations — if it doesn’t already, Amazon may soon control a monopolistic stake of the e-book market and its tactics are sure to invite not only scorn from the book industry but also increased regulatory oversight.

But the more basic problem here is that Amazon is violating its own code. To win a corporate battle, Amazon is ruining its customer experience. Mr. Bezos has long pointed to customer satisfaction as his North Star; making sure customers are treated well is the guiding principle for how he runs Amazon.

Aug(De)Mented Reality 

Clever mix of traditional cell animation and iPhone photography, by Marty Cooper.

(Via Andy Baio.)

Mustbin 

My thanks to Mustbin for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Mustbin is an iPhone app and cloud-based service that allows you to capture, collect, organize, and share your important information and personal moments — privately. Capture anything you want using your phone’s camera. Use “bins” to organize everything you collect. Mustbin uses AES-256 encryption on every file and end-to-end encryption during cloud sync — even Mustbin can’t look at your documents. Your data is your data, except when you decide to share it.

Download Mustbin for free and see for yourself, or check out their website for more information and details.

2010: McGraw-Hill Axed From iPad Launch After CEO Leaks on TV 

Paul Boutin, writing for VentureBeat back in 2010:

This is one of Steve Jobs’ slides from this morning’s iPad launch presentation. Can you tell what’s wrong with it?

The awkward array of five logos used to be a tidy lineup of six. The day before the show, Apple removed McGraw-Hill, the 122-year-old publisher whose 61-year-old leader, Harold McGraw III — better known as Terry — prattled like a teenage schoolgirl about the tablet’s iPhone operating system on CNBC:

Yes, they’ll make their announcement tomorrow on this one. We have worked with Apple for quite a while. And the Tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system and so it will be transferable. So what you are going to be able to do now is we have a consortium of e-books. And we have 95% of all our materials that are in e-book format on that one. So now with the tablet you’re going to open up the higher education market, the professional market. The tablet is going to be just really terrific.

The first rule of making a deal with Apple is that you do not talk about making a deal with Apple. Take a guess what the second rule is.

On the Future of MetaFilter 

Matt Haughey:

Since we’ve never seen a return to our pre-Fall 2012 traffic levels, I have to assume whatever hidden law we broke we’re still breaking, or that Google sees us as a home for comment spam even though we boot every single one we can find though a series of sophisticated methods, and the whole experience has been frustrating to say the least. At this point, I’m at wits end trying to figure out why our high-quality site, featuring good advice from a dedicated community of real people with a best-in-industry 24-hour moderation staff has seen such big decreases.

On the flip side, I’ll accept that MetaFilter is from “two or three Internets ago”, and perhaps this is Google’s way of saying they’re changing with the times and we’re not. I’m ok with that too, but since Google is a giant black box to outsiders, we’ll never really know.

Depressing news.

Update: Says Marco Arment:

Google owns the ad-driven web: their search brings all of your pageviews, and their ads bring all of your income. You’re just along for the ride, hoping to stay in Google’s good graces — an arbitrary, unreliable, undocumented metric that changes constantly. (Google’s only “open” with the trivial, unprofitable parts of their business. Search and ads are closed, proprietary, and opaque in every possible way.)

This is one reason I’ve never tried to monetize pageviews at Daring Fireball. My goal has always been to increase readers — to reach and appeal to people who want to come here to read what I write, on a daily or at least regular basis. I get thousands of referrals every day from Google, but I don’t try to monetize them. My only hope is for a few of them to like what they see and come back.

I think I can keep writing stuff that people want to read. I don’t know how to write stuff that Google’s ever-changing algorithms will return as highly-placed search results, so I’ve never really tried.

Glassholes, Google Web Search, and Google Plus 

EV Grieve:

So when the other diner came in wearing Google Glass, management asked her to take them off before dining. She refused, and left the restaurant. […] On April 20, the diner wrote a post about what happened, which apparently angered some of her 3,000-plus Google+ followers.

Around this time the spate of reviews arrived on Google. Feast looked into this, and discovered that all of the one stars are from people who commented on the diner’s original Google+ post. The negative reviews include lines such as: “Ignorant bigots and hateful. Perhaps being illegally discriminate too. The food is irrelevant as the service is less than poor.” The reviewer lives in Phoenix. […]

“When the first thing that comes up when you search Feast in Google is a 3.1, it can really hurt a restaurant like us. Then you have 13 people, which is about half the total reviews, who have never been to our restaurant let alone live in NYC, leave you one-star reviews … it’s malicious and technically a violation of Google’s own terms for leaving reviews,” the Feast manager said. “Again I can understand her leaving the one-star based on her experience, but 12 others with no experience on who we are or what we do is unfair.”

It’s a perfect storm of Google-ism. Glass users are weirdos. They also tend to be users of Google Plus. They vent/lash out on Google Plus when an establishment — even respectfully — asks them not to wear Glass. Google web search shows the establishment’s Google Plus profile as its top search result.

What’s troublesome here isn’t Glass. It’s Google’s favoritism for Google Plus. If Google Plus were an independent company, there’s no way Google web search would give it such prominent placement.

Regarding Steve Jobs and the Leaking of Deals Before Apple Is Ready to Announce Them 

AppleInsider, back in July 2000:

On Monday, a message posted from an ati.com company address appeared on BusinessWire, detailing the company’s plans product plans for Macworld. Under normal circumstances, this would not pose as a problem. However, the published blurb provided advanced information on Apple hardware products to be announced at the expo.

“ATI plans a surprise announcement on July 19,” the messages stated, in part. “In a keynote, wait for Apple to announce three new systems with ATI graphics in them. One will be an iMac with the RAGE 4XL chip, the remaining two are PowerMacs which will ship with RAGE 128 PRO standard and RADEON.”

This blurb was apparently enough to send Apple cofounder and CEO, Steve Jobs, through the roof. As a result, source said, Mr. Jobs ripped all mention of ATI and their products from his keynote presentation this morning. Apple’s introduction of new Power Mac G4 systems went without mention of the graphics chip that would ship inside, and the same was the case for the company’s new iMacs and Power Mac G4 Cube.

InsideMacGames, on the same day:

Well, that rumor cost ATI, big time! When the Bizwire report on Macworld Expo Exhibitors surfaced, dozens of news outlets (including IMG) reported ATI’s plans for the Expo. However, that short summary gave away several key secrets from the Keynote - specifically, it hinted at the two new PowerMacs (the MP models) and the new iMac DV SE revision, and Steve Jobs was extremely upset at this. He likes surprises.

According to ATI, Steve ordered all Radeons to be pulled from the show floor, and wiped all mention of ATI out of his keynote speech. He also canceled part of the keynote where an ATI exec was supposed to speak, and demo the Radeon! It seems no one leaks Steve’s secrets without dire penalty. It wasn’t clear who was at fault for the leak, but it seems to have come from the ATI side.

(Thanks to DF reader Jeff Clatworthy for the reminder about this incident.)

About That Apple-Beats Deal 

Yinka Adegoke, writing for Billboard:

When news broke on Thursday May 8 that Apple was in talks to buy Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre’s Beats Electronics for a shocking $3.2 billion the deal’s closure seemed imminent. In fact Billboard’s sources repeatedly said late that day, the transaction would be announced the following Monday… “Tuesday, latest.”

Well, Monday and Tuesday passed and we were assured the deal would actually be announced early this week. By early this week we were told it would now be announced next week. We, like other outlets, have been reassured the deal is happening…or as close to definitely happening as any source is willing to say given they’re speaking on background.

That they’ve been so wrong thus far makes me disinclined to believe anything Billboard (or The Financial Times, or The Wall Street Journal, or anyone else who reported the deal as imminent back on May 8) reports about it now.

Among the reasons Adegoke cites for the delay:

Apparently, the Apple family near imploded with outrage when that video went up on Facebook of an ‘excited’ Dr. Dre with R&B singer/former Coca Cola pin-up Tyrese. In the video they share, in language perhaps unsuitable for a family blog, how Dre will be hip-hop’s first billionaire and other nice things about Compton. People often forget that despite Apple being this company that makes sexy products, with sexy profit margins, and sexy retail outlets… it is not in fact a very sexy company. It is a conservative company, particularly without the leadership of its guiding light Steve Jobs who would shake things up massively on a daily basis.

Steve Jobs did not “shake things up massively on a daily basis”, and my guess is, he would have been more pissed off than anyone at Apple about Beats’ leaking of the deal to the press. And it seems pretty clear that that’s what happened. It wasn’t Apple that leaked, it was Beats, and their leaking it might have scuttled the deal.

One thing’s for sure: Apple is suffering a crisis of confidence right now and they could do with a pair who help them to “Think Different”.

Anyone who thinks “Apple is suffering a crisis of confidence right now” doesn’t understand Apple at all. No wonder Billboard has botched the story on this acquisition.

Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers 

David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy, reporting for the NYT:

Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle.

The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling’s new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as “unavailable.”

In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have disappeared.

John Moltz: “Time for more ebook sanctions against Apple.”

HP Plans 16,000 More Layoffs 

Rick Merritt, reporting for the EE Times:

On a quarterly earnings call, HP chief executive Meg Whitman took a hammering from Wall Street analysts, clearly surprised by the magnitude of the numbers. Whitman announced her turnaround plan in May 2012 estimating layoffs of 27,000. The numbers were later boosted to 29,000, then 34,000 and now are estimated at a total 50,000.

Analysts asked if Whitman had lost confidence in HP’s ability to grow revenues.

“This has nothing to do with our confidence in business, it’s about opportunities to make this company better,” Whitman said. “I’ve done a number of turnarounds — not at this scale — but you see more opportunities the deeper you get in,” she said.

She’s right about one thing: she’s in deep.

When is the last time HP had a single interesting product?

Ted Rall’s Tweet Manifesto 

Ted Rall, writing for Pando Daily:

The kerfuffle (← word that must be used in pieces about this sort of thing) over game-show host Pat Sajak’s climate-denialist tweet proves that enough is enough. It is time for a Tweet Manifesto, a definitive, universally agreed-upon declaration that restores the tweet’s rightful, inherent status as a free-fire zone for stupid thoughts for which no one may be held responsible, much less, say, fired over.

The Talk Show: ‘Bring Back Jerry Yang’, With John Moltz 

Finally, the first episode of The Talk Show hosted here at Daring Fireball. Who else but John Moltz — my go-to guest for “first episodes” — joins me to discuss Apple’s still-only-rumored acquisition of Beats, WWDC rumors, the ringer switch on the iPhone, the ZTE Open C Firefox OS phone (spoiler: it’s a turd), and the electrifying stage presence of former Cingular CEO Stan Sigman.

Engadget: ‘Samsung Is Making a VR Headset for Its Phones and Tablets’ 

Ben Gilbert, writing for Engadget:

We’re told by sources close to Samsung that a virtual reality headset is not only in the works at the company’s mobile division, but it’s set to be announced this year. The urgency is said to be a measure of beating Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus to market.

Sounds like Samsung — wait for someone to innovate, then copy it and rush some crap out the door to beat them to market.

Core Animation Creator John Harper Joining Facebook 

Facebook’s roster of ex-Apple talent continues to grow.

(The original version of this post implied that Harper was leaving Apple for Facebook; I was unaware that he’d left Apple a year ago.)

‘For Me, the Movies Are Like a Machine That Generates Empathy’ 

Trailer for director Steve James’s Life Itself, a documentary on the life and work of Roger Ebert. Can’t wait.

Arcade Story 

Steven Frank:

Like everyone else, I wasted a lot of my parents’ quarters playing Dragon’s Lair and lasting for about 2 minutes before losing all five lives. Fortunately, the local grocery store had a Dragon’s Lair cabinet, as well as a couple of other games, so I got many occasions to practice.

One day I was sitting in our apartment reading a video game magazine (nerd!), and in the back was a little section of classified ads. My eye was caught immediately by the words “Beat Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair!” For a few bucks, you could send away for this random guy’s strategy guide, which listed all the moves and when to make them.

Please realize there was no residential internet. We had a computer, but no modem. There was no just going to Google for an FAQ or walkthrough. If you didn’t know the moves, you just didn’t know them, unless you knew someone else who knew them, which of course you didn’t.

What a great story.

Just What Are ‘Tablets’? 

Timothy B. Lee, writing for Vox, says the Surface Pro 3 shows that Microsoft “doesn’t get the tablet revolution”:

But this makes as much sense as selling a digital camera that also takes film photographs. Anyone who needs the power of a PC can and should just buy a PC. The point of buying a tablet is that it’s cheaper, smaller, lighter, simpler, and more power-efficient than a traditional PC. Those advantages are only possible because tablets don’t try to be all things to all people.

I’ll take the devil’s advocate position here. I think Microsoft now fully understands what the iPad is and why it’s popular. What they’re saying with the Surface Pro 3 is that the tablet form factor isn’t necessarily only for iPad-style devices, but that it’s a good form factor for full-featured PCs as well.

This isn’t new to the Surface Pro 3 in particular — it’s been the point behind the Surface Pro all along. As Harry McCracken noted on Twitter, “Surface Pro 3 seems less like an iPad-era tablet, more like the Tablet PC which Microsoft couldn’t design in 2000.”

In other words, Microsoft’s point is less about Windows 8 vs. iOS, and more about the tablet vs. laptop form factor for full-featured PC users.

Dan Frommer on the Surface Pro 3 

Dan Frommer, writing for his new gig at Quartz:

The main problem is that this is still a Windows 8 machine, missing the elegance of Apple’s iOS, its touch-based app selection, and its accessory and media ecosystem. Really, Microsoft has just made a good argument for Apple to release a larger (and even thinner) iPad Pro sometime sooner than later — that actually sounds great.

Ads Everywhere 

Rolfe Winkler, reporting for the WSJ:

In a December letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was disclosed Tuesday, the search giant said that it could be serving ads and other content on “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”

Google made the statement to help justify why it shouldn’t disclose revenue generated from mobile devices, a figure the SEC had requested and that companies like Facebook and Twitter both disclose. Google argued that it doesn’t make sense to break out mobile revenue since the definition of mobile will “continue to evolve” as more “smart” devices roll out.

“Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future,” the company said in the filing.

What a depressing, oppressive view of the future.

Disneyland’s Original 1953 Prospectus 

Nice find from Boing Boing.

eBay Accounts Compromised 

PayPal:

Later today, eBay Inc. will be asking all eBay users to change their passwords due to a cyber attack that compromised an eBay database containing encrypted eBay passwords and other non-financial information. eBay will notify its user base directly within the next 24 hours with more details.

Seems like weird phrasing, “later today”. Why wait?

Christina Warren on the Missing Surface Mini 

Christina Warren, writing for Mashable:

Last week, Mashable Chief Correspondent Lance Ulanoff urged Microsoft not to release a Surface Mini unless it was every bit as good as the iPad mini. Go big (or in this case, “small”) or go home. Good enough doesn’t cut it.

It looks like Microsoft had the same thought process. The Surface Pro 3 event was clearly targeted at laptop buyers — not at tablet owners. Most tablet owners, Microsoft noted, also own a laptop.

So rather than trying to go after the consumer tablet market, where it sits in no man’s land, Microsoft is smartly pivoting and going after the laptop space.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Pennsylvania Gay Marriage Ban 

Amy Worden and Angela Couloumbis, reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

The decision by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III marked the first and most significant to date in a series of court challenges to the state’s 1996 ban.

“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them onto the ash heap of history,” Jones wrote in the 39-page opinion. “By virtue of this, ruling, same-sex couples who seek to marry in Pennsylvania may do so, and already married same-sex couples will be recognized as such in the Commonwealth.”

Finally.

Interesting, too, that Jones was a Bush appointee, and cited an argument by Antonin Scalia.

Android Fragmentation, Gyroscope Edition 

Game Oven, announcing the postponement of the Android version of a new game:

In the Vine above are 7 devices all running the same compass app (ironically named Steady Compass) on Android. Yet, all compasses indicate that North is somewhere else. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with electromagnetic fields confusing the compass; it has everything to do with the diversity of hardware inside these devices.

We have been developing Bounden for Android alongside its development on iOS, and have tested the game on a number of devices. It was only a week ago that we started expanding our list of test devices, after we quickly discovered that:

(a) some devices had ‘broken’ gyroscopes that didn’t work on all axis,
(b) that some devices were faking gyroscopes by mixing and matching the accelerometer data with compass data, or
(c) that some devices did not have a gyroscope at all.

Curious, I grabbed a handful of iOS devices laying around my house — iPad Mini and iPad Mini with Retina Display; iPhones 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, and 5S — and tried a similar comparison.

Seven different iOS devices running compass applications, all showing similar results for true north.

About That Heathrow/Samsung Terminal 5 ‘Rebranding’ 

Rene Ritchie followed up with Heathrow officials regarding Samsung’s claimed rebranding of Terminal 5:

“Heathrow Terminal 5’s signage and passenger wayfinding has not changed,” a Heathrow spokesperson told iMore. “Samsung have rented advertising space in Terminal 5 with a tongue-in-cheek campaign using the line: ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5’.”

Samsung hasn’t taken over any signage or branding at Terminal 5 but are simply renting existing advertising placements in the terminal, those that are available to anyone.

Great copywriting too.

Microsoft Announces Surface Pro 3 

Lots of comparisons to the MacBook Air during their announcement event. A decade ago, it was Apple that was comparing the Mac to the PC (in the long-running John Hodgman/Justin Long “Get a Mac” campaign) — now the tables are turned.

From everything I’ve read today (including Microsoft’s own blog announcement), they’ve designed the Surface more as a competitor to a Mac or PC laptop than as a competitor to the iPad. (In fact, they didn’t even announce an ARM-based smaller Surface, as was rumored.)

Swallowing the Spider 

Jon Bell, on the rumor that Apple is adding split-screen multitasking to the iPad in iOS 8:

But while you can debate the worth of the feature, or whether Apple will implement it, some things are beyond debate. It’s an immovable law of design physics — adding functionality adds complexity. You can’t get around it. All you can do is try to add functionality that people really want, and do it carefully enough that the increased complexity is worth it. There are no shortcuts or magic bullets.

Or to put it in Rands-ian terms: When you say “I wish I could run two apps side-by-side on the iPad,” I hear, “I wish the iPad were more complicated.”

Time’s Up 

60 days ago:

[Apple only has] 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 iWatch.”

I’m really going to miss Apple.

YouTube Pondering Acquisition of Video Game Livestreaming Company Twitch for $1 Billion 

Eric Johnson, writing for Recode:

Twitch is a fast-growing service that lets people — mostly men — watch livestreams of other people — mostly men — playing videogames.

And it is booming: When Twitch started up in June 2011, it claimed five million users a month. In 2012, it was up to 20 million. By the end of last year, that number had jumped to 45 million. Broadband service provider Sandvine says Twitch now accounts for 1.35 percent of Internet traffic during peak hours in North America. That’s more than HBO Go’s 1.24 percent.

My 10-year-old son loves watching videos of people playing video games. I thought this was odd at first, in a grumpy dad “These kids today…” way. Then last week, while watching my beloved New York Yankees for the umpteenth time this year, it hit me: there’s nothing different about watching video of one sort of game (video) than another (sports). I watch hundreds of hours of baseball every year.

Tricia Duryee, writing at GeekWire, calls Twitch “the ESPN of the video game industry”, which I think captures the potential opportunity here perfectly.

AT&T to Buy DirecTV for $48.5 Billion 

Puts some perspective on Apple’s still-only-just-rumored $3 billion acquisition of Beats.

Slingshot 

My thanks to Squirrels for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Slingshot. Slingshot is a new service for sharing your screen — Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android — to anyone, anywhere. Built on the same foundation as AirParrot and Reflector (two other great products from Squirrel, both of them worth checking out), Slingshot securely mirrors desktops, apps, and mobile devices and adds great features like document sharing, meeting minutes, video chat, and even telephone dial-in.

In short, Slingshot is a powerful way to collaborate with anyone, on almost any device. You can even use it for customer support. Slingshot is free to download, and includes a 30-day full-featured trial — no credit card required. It’s a great product from a great company.

The Salary Gap Between Female and Male Journalists 

BuzzFeed:

As men and women advance through their careers, the pay disparity appears to grow. The median pay for senior non-managers was $77,500 for women, but $92,500 for men. These results are generally in line with earlier studies that show the pay gap increasing as careers advance.

Apple Issues Fix for Hidden ‘/Users’ Folder 

Fixed in iTunes 11.2.1.

Google Acquires Word Lens, the Live Translation App Featured in Apple’s Latest TV Commercial 

Seems like a natural fit for Google — now that I think about it, I’m surprised they hadn’t acquired them long ago. But I doubt we’ll ever see Apple feature this app again.

Stop Forcing People to Wear Bike Helmets 

Joseph Stromberg, writing for Vox:

For most bikers, this advice is anathema. The importance of wearing a helmet has been drilled into everyone since childhood. And, it’s true that, as study after study has shown, you’re better off with a helmet if you’re in an accident.

But in the world’s most popular biking cities, particularly in Europe, very few bikers wear helmets. And there are good reasons for that: biking, it turns out, isn’t an especially dangerous form of transportation in terms of head trauma. And the benefits of helmets may be overstated. While they do protect your head during accidents, there’s some evidence that helmets make it more likely you’ll get in an accident in the first place.

‘/Users’ Folder Bug Botches Permissions in Addition to Visibility 

Rich Trouton:

The permissions on the /Users folder were also changed to be world-writable, so that anyone could read and write to the /Users folder.

After considerable investigation by the folks in the ##osx-server IRC room, it looks like the issue has been tied to two causes:

  1. iTunes 11.2 being installed

  2. iCloud’s Find My Mac being enabled.

That’s a pretty bad permissions bug. Trouton has a script that fixes all the damage (restore visibility to /Users and /Users/Shared, then run Repair Permissions), but note that you must turn off Find My Mac, or it will just happen all over again when you restart.

Iconfactory.com Redesign 

Nice typography and responsive design.

Dan Rubin on iPhone Photography 

The Guardian:

Dan Rubin, editor-at-large of the Photographic Journal and an early Instagram adopter, takes a tour of London to test some of the best smartphone photography apps. By shooting a variety of people and places, Dan shows how using some specially selected apps throughout your photography workflow can dramatically improve the shots you capture — and offers some cool tips and tricks of what you can do with those shots afterwards.

Great advice, including technique and app recommendations.

Breathing City 

Beautiful animated map by Joey Cherdarchuk showing Manhattan’s work and home population hour-by-hour.

The Curious Case of the Hidden ‘/Users’ Folder in OS X 10.9.3 

Kirk McElhearn:

Yesterday, I showed how you could unhide the /Users folder in OS X 10.9.3, the latest update to OS X that was released yesterday. Yet many users, in comments, emails and on Twitter, have pointed out that their /Users folder is not hidden. Here, it’s hidden on both my Macs: a late 2011 Mac mini, and an early 2013 MacBook Pro.

It really doesn’t make sense for this folder to be hidden; it contains the /Users/Shared folder, which you may want to use to provide files to other users, since all users can access it. My guess, given that not everyone sees the /Users folder as hidden, is that this is a bug; one way or another. In other words, it should either not be hidden, or it should be hidden for everyone.

Sounds like a bug to me too. In the meantime, the best workaround I’ve seen is Dave Mark’s idea to make an alias.

Translation From Polite British Spokesperson-ese to Plain English Regarding Samsung’s Rebranding of Heathrow Terminal 5 

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

Samsung’s marketing juggernaut is reaching new heights today with the announcement that Heathrow’s Terminal 5 will be rebranded for two weeks to promote the company’s flagship Galaxy S5 Android phone. Starting on Monday, every area of the terminal will feature the “Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5” moniker, with all the signage and digital screens promoting the handset and projecting images of it. Russell Taylor, Samsung’s UK marketing VP describes this as a “one-off opportunity to push the boundaries like no other brand has been allowed to do before.” A Heathrow Airport spokesperson clarifies that Samsung hasn’t bought the actual naming rights to the terminal, just an expansive ad campaign to be distributed within it. She says “Samsung want to call it Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5 and we are relaxed about that.”

Translation: “We’re every bit as appalled as you are by the crass nature of this, but holy shit you should see how much money they’re paying us. Pass the gin.

Apple Integrates LLVM Compiler to Boost WebKit JavaScript Performance 

Peter Bright, writing for Ars Technica:

The LLVM-based fourth tier is called FTL, for Fourth Tier LLVM (and, of course, faster than light). It shares some portions with the third stage, since the third stage already does important work for handling JavaScript’s dynamic nature, but has a different code generating portion.

The result is a healthy performance boost. FTL produces code that is more than 40 times faster than the interpreter, with benchmarks taking about a third less time to run than the old three tier system.

It’s pretty clever: the new FTL compiler takes longer to compile the code, but the code it generates runs much faster. But while the FTL compiler is working, WebKit will execute code generated by the (faster-to-compile) existing JIT compiler, then switch over to the FTL-generated code when it’s ready.

Lots of details in the official announcement on the Surfin’ Safari blog.

Discover.typography 

Fun new SVG-powered typographic examples from Hoefler & Co. Be sure to play with the size sliders.

The New York Times’s Innovation Report 

Khoi Vinh:

It has become increasingly clear that we are not moving with enough urgency. That’s been true for years, and it was exactly my experience while employed there. To be sure, for a company founded in 1851, The Times has done a remarkable job navigating the turbulent digital landscape, but there’s no prize for best 19th Century enterprise still operating in the 21st Century.

Art of the Title: The Rockford Files 

Will Perkins on the opening credits of The Rockford Files. Guaranteed to evoke vivid memories for anyone who was around in the 1970s.

Military Infographics 

Paul Ford:

Part of what makes military diagrams so fascinating is that they look a lot like the images civilians use to do their regular workaday jobs. It’s just software and hardware, after all, and there are only so many ways to draw a network diagram. Yet the scale of these systems is immense; the lines being drawn are between jets and satellites, not between a couple of web servers. You can smell the money burning.

Good thing Edward Tufte is alive and well; otherwise he’d be rolling over in his grave.

See Also:Glenn Greenwald Reveals 7 New NSA Crimes Against Graphic Design”.

Mac OS X 10.9.3 

Josh Centers, writing for TidBITS:

Apple has released OS X Mavericks 10.9.3 Update, which brings a pixel-doubled Retina mode to external 4K displays and restores contact and calendar syncing between Mac and iOS devices in iTunes. The Retina mode makes content much sharper, rather than just using all the pixels to create a truly huge desktop.

iMac with Retina Display, please.

Polygon Reviews Mario Kart 8 

Speaking of Nintendo, Philip Kollar reviews the new Mario Kart 8 for Wii U:

While the intricacies of drifting and boosting are rote by this point for long-time Kart players, Mario Kart 8 drives home the brilliance of this system. It’s simple — you’re just pressing one button and adjusting your angle to make sure you don’t run off the track — but it looks cool and made me feel skillful when I pulled it off. It also forced me to constantly be engaged with a track. I couldn’t just memorize a layout and be safe; I was constantly tweaking and improving my approach to each lap.

Can’t wait for this one.

‘Intelligent Details’ Commercial From Bentley, Shot Using iPhone 5S 

Crazy that something like this could be shot using a phone camera. Stick through to the end to see behind-the-scenes footage. (Via Phil Schiller.)

If Internet Providers Ran Public Services 

This is the question at the heart of the net neutrality debate: is the Internet a public service? I say yes, very much so.

The Rise of Nintendo: A Story in 8 Bits 

Fascinating excerpt from Blake J. Harris’s new book, Console Wars:

With so much invested in this game, the last remaining hope was for a designer in Japan to quickly create a game and send over processors with that new game to America, where NOA employees could swap out the motherboard and then repaint the arcade cabinets. This task was given to Shigeru Miyamoto, a floppy-haired first-time designer who believed that videogames should be treated with the same respect given to books, movies, and television shows. His efforts to elevate the art form were given a boost when he was informed that Nintendo was close to finalizing a licensing deal with King Features, enabling him to develop his game around the popular cartoon series Popeye the Sailor Man. Using those characters, he began crafting a game where Popeye must rescue his beloved Olive Oyl by hopping over obstacles tossed in his way by his obese archenemy, Bluto.

Shipments containing the code for Miyamoto’s new game began to arrive. Due to last-minute negotiation issues with King Features, Nintendo had lost the rights to Popeye, which forced Miyamoto to come up with something else. As a result, Arakawa, Stone, Judy, and a handful of warehouse employees didn’t know what to expect. They inserted the new processor into one of the thousands of unsold Radarscope machines and then watched the lights flicker as the words “Donkey Kong” came to life on the arcade screen.

The Half-Century Anniversary of ‘Dr. Strangelove’ 

David Denby, writing for The New Yorker:

Kubrick was thirty-six when “Strangelove” came out. It was the last movie directed by the young Kubrick — the ace filmmaker who put emotions right on the surface and moved quickly through charged narratives. He was superseded by the “visionary” Kubrick, the artificer of slow-moving “sublime” movies like “2001,” “The Shining,” and “Barry Lyndon.” Many of us who loved the drive and the sardonic wit of such movies as “The Killing” (1956), “Paths of Glory” (1957), “Lolita” (1962), and “Strangelove” never loved the late films, with their glacial pacing and coldly sarcastic tableaux, in the same way.

You’re going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company.

Design Is About Intent 

John R. Moran:

The opposite of design, then, is the failure to develop and employ intent in making creative decisions. This doesn’t sound hard, but, astonishingly, no other leading tech company makes intentional design choices like Apple. Instead, they all commit at least one of what I term the Three Design Evasions.

Spot-on.

Coda 2.5 and the Mac App Store 

Cabel Sasser:

Coda 2.5 is essentially complete. But, we’re still encountering sandboxing challenges. So, in the interest of finally getting Coda 2.5 out the door and in the hands of you, our very eager and patient customers, we’ve decided it’s time to move on — for now.

In short: Coda 2.5 will not be sandboxed, and therefore will not be available in the Mac App Store.

Please note that this doesn’t mean Coda 2.5 was rejected by Apple, rather that we’re going ahead and proactively making this call since all Mac App Store apps are required to be sandboxed and Coda 2.5 will not be.

Lots of good news here, too, though. Coda users who bought through the Mac App Store can upgrade to version 2.5 free of charge, and Panic has created their own (free) sync service to stand in for iCloud. But it’s pretty damning for the Mac App Store (and the sandboxing requirement in particular) that a top-tier developer like Panic has to pull an app like Coda.

Update: Daniel Jalkut points out that Apple awarded Coda “Best of Mac App Store” in 2012 and an Apple Design Award (for which only App Store apps are now eligible) last year.

Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines Now on the iBooks Store 

Federico Viticci:

The 20 MB guide is compatible with iPads as well as Macs running iBooks on OS X Mavericks, and it takes advantage of the app with inline video playback, two-page page layouts, and built-in annotations (plus, of course, font size and color controls for reading settings).

It looks like Apple did a nice job in converting the guidelines to iBooks, and annotations appear to be especially useful for developers and designers learning the principles of the iOS 7 visual language.

Nice work from Apple.

The iPhone and Japan 

Takashi Amano, reporting for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. boosted its share of the Japan mobile-phone market to more than a third after the country’s largest wireless carrier started selling the iPhone.

Apple boosted iPhone shipments in Japan to 36.6 percent of the market in the year ended March, up from 25.5 percent a year earlier, according to Tokyo-based MM Research Institute Ltd. The Cupertino, California-based smartphone maker shipped 14.43 million phones in Japan the past fiscal year, the researcher said.

Worth revisiting this vintage 2009 claim chowder: “Why the Japanese Hate the iPhone”.

Update: Worth noting that this is about total mobile phone market share, not “smartphone” market share. Mobile phone share is a much more meaningful number, because very soon all mobile phones will be smartphones. We’ll just call them “phones”. Apple’s smartphone market share has looked bad, and in many cases declined over the first half of this decade, because the rate at which all phones are becoming smartphones has grown faster than the iPhone’s share of all mobile phones. But that focus on “smartphone market share” has obscured the fact that the iPhone’s share of all mobile phones sold has grown ever since 2007.

iMessage Purgatory 

Adam Pash:

I recently switched from an iPhone to Android, and discovered shortly thereafter that my phone number was still associated with iMessage, meaning that any time someone with an iPhone tried texting me, I’d receive nothing, and they’d get a “Delivered” receipt in their Messages app as though everything were working as expected.

The Subway Map That Rattled New Yorkers 

Regarding this week’s episode of The Talk Show:

After all, there were other problems with the System Map. Mr. Vignelli had modeled it on the hugely popular 1933 diagrammatic map of the London Underground designed by Harry Beck, a freelance draughtsman who compiled it in his spare time. Beck’s “diagram,” as he called it, applied similar organizational principles, arguably with even greater rigor. Unlike him, Mr. Vignelli had included some geographical references, by identifying Central Park and areas like Manhattan and the Bronx. He has since regretted doing so, arguing that the map should have been wholly abstract, devoid of such distractions. But Beck’s design was gentler in style, particularly in its choice of typography, while Mr. Vignelli used the searingly modern font Helvetica.

Mark Gurman: Split-Screen iPad Multitasking in iOS 8 

Mark Gurman:

In addition to allowing for two iPad apps to be used at the same time, the feature is designed to allow for apps to more easily interact, according to the sources. For example, a user may be able to drag content, such as text, video, or images, from one app to another. Apple is said to be developing capabilities for developers to be able to design their apps to interact with each other. This functionality may mean that Apple is finally ready to enable “XPC” support in iOS, which means that developers could design App Store apps that could share content.

Sounds cool. I’m very curious to see how you get into (and back out of) this mode, though. It’s easy to say you want to see two apps side-by-side on the iPad. It’s not easy at all to implement such a feature without losing the wonderful can’t get lost/can’t get confused about where you are or how you got there simplicity of the iPad today.

MG Siegler on Instagram Switching From Foursquare to Facebook for Geolocation Data 

MG Siegler:

I get that Facebook owns Instagram and so they want to bring the geo functionality in-house as well. But the product is worse because of this change. Facebook place database is a nightmare of mislabeled and mislocated geo-barf.

‘Design Is a Job’ Audiobook 

Speaking of the sweet dulcet tones of Mike Monteiro’s voice, the audio book edition of his excellent Design Is a Job is out. Highly recommended.

‘Beats by Tim’ 

Mule Radio honcho Mike Monteiro joins me for a very special episode of my podcast. Topics include the nature of podcasting and the future of The Talk Show, design legend Massimo Vignelli, ComiXology’s abandonment of in-app purchasing now that they’re owned by Amazon, and more.

A Love Letter to Twitter 

Doug Bowman, on his last day as Twitter’s director of design, shows us how to leave a company.

‘If You’re Hungry, There’s a Roast in the Fridge.’ 

Great Mother’s Day story by Erika Hall:

That moment has stayed with me my whole life — that cool, controlled response to a threat, the absolute refusal to play the victim. In both my grandmother’s stand against city hall and my mother’s calm dispatch of a home invader, I witnessed the assertion of one’s basic right to live life without being fucked with. And I saw the power of that assertion.

Neither my grandmother nor my mother would have ever described themselves as feminists. Far from it.

But I sure do.

Ken Shirriff Takes Apart an iPad AC Adapter and a Cheap Counterfeit 

Ken Shirriff:

One safety difference is obvious: the Apple charger has much more insulation. The upper (high-voltage) half is wrapped in yellow insulating tape. Some components are encased in shrink tubing, there are plastic insulators between some components, and some wires have extra insulation. The counterfeit charger only has minimal insulation.

The build quality of the Apple charger is much higher. In the counterfeit charger, some components are visibly crooked or askew. While this doesn’t affect the circuit electrically, it indicates a lack of care in construction.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorships 

Speaking of DF RSS sponsors, the schedule is almost booked up through July, with one exception: this coming week. If you have a cool product or service you want to promote to DF’s discerning audience, get in touch.

Applause 

My thanks to Applause for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Applause is an “app quality company” that provides solutions for testing, build distribution, crash reporting, user feedback, and analytics — all of it focused on helping developers listen to users and improve their apps. Applause has tools for web, mobile, and even wearable apps.

Check out their website to learn more about how it works, and the integrated dashboard that brings everything together. Applause gives you insight into how people really use your app, and can help you make better decisions about everything from when to launch to where to steer your product roadmap.

Apple, Beats, and Black America 

John Herrman, writing for The Awl:

Anyway, has anyone noticed that the loud and visceral reaction to Apple’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of Beats, the headphone and music service company, is kind of racist?

Clearly, some of the reactions may be racially-tinged, but the ones cited by Herrman seem dubious to me. Most of the head-scratching I’ve seen — including my own — is no different than if Apple were purportedly buying, say, Bose or Harman Kardon, for $3 billion.

Apple’s previous biggest acquisition was NeXT, all the way back in 1996, for $400 million. (It’s worth noting that $400 million was an enormous sum of money to Apple in 1996, and $3.2 billion represents just 2 percent of the company’s cash today, but still.) Tim Cook has long said Apple isn’t opposed to large acquisitions, but they’ve never made one. And Apple doesn’t have sub-brands. Apple is the opposite of a conglomerate. It’s new territory for Apple, regardless of any racial component.

If anything, as Micah Singleton argues at The Daily Dot, Beats’s brand stature among black Americans might help explain why this deal makes sense for Apple: 73 percent of black smartphone owners in the U.S. are on Android. Beats has brand appeal that Apple does not.

The other thing Beats has that Apple wants: its relationships in the entertainment industry. $3.2 billion? I still don’t know about that. But I’m no longer confused about what Beats has that Apple would want.

Massimo Vignelli Is Ill 

Creative Review:

One of the world’s great designers, Massimo Vignelli, is very ill and will be spending his last days at home. His son Luca would like all those for whom Vignelli was either an influence or an inspiration to write him a letter. […]

According to Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, “Luca said that Massimo would be thrilled to get notes of good wishes from people whom he’s touched or influenced - whether personally or remotely - over the years. Luca has visions of huge mail bags full of letters. I know that one of Massimo’s biggest fantasies has been to attend his own funeral. This will be the next best thing. Pass the word.”

Just dropped mine in the mailbox.

The Illusion of Life 

Cento Lodigiani:

The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the “old men” of Walt Disney Studios, amongst them Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, during the 1930s. Of course they weren’t old men at the time, but young men who were at the forefront of exciting discoveries that were contributing to the development of a new art form. These principles came as a result of reflection about their practice and through Disney’s desire to use animation to express character and personality.

This movie is my personal take on those principles, applied to simple shapes. Like a cube.

Wonderfully illustrated. UI designers would do well to study this.

Sure Seems Like Dr. Dre Thinks Apple Is Buying Beats 

“The first billionaire in hip-hop, right here from the motherfucking West Coast.”

Jon Maples on the Apple/Beats Acquisition 

Jon Maples:

While music purchases may be falling, it’s still a big business for Apple. So instead of creating another option in iTunes that would potentially cannibalize download sales, why not just buy a service and keep it separate? Streaming blows up: Apple wins. Streaming doesn’t pan out, well, they still have the iTunes store chugging along.

Best take I’ve read so far, and the first to make a case that the separate (and established) Beats brand makes sense as a separate entity from iTunes.

Hachette Says Amazon Is Delaying Delivery of Some Books 

David Streitfeld, reporting for the NYT:

Amazon has begun discouraging customers from buying books by Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, J. D. Salinger and other popular writers, a flexing of its muscle as a battle with a publisher spills into the open.

The Internet retailer, which controls more than a third of the book trade in the United States, is marking many books published by Hachette Book Group as not available for at least two or three weeks.

A Hachette spokeswoman said on Thursday that the publisher was striving to keep Amazon supplied but that the Internet giant was delaying shipments “for reasons of their own.” Hachette is one of the largest New York houses, publishing under the Little, Brown and Grand Central imprints, among many others.

Thank goodness the Obama Department of Justice saw fit to go after the book publishers to protect poor little Amazon.

Classic Joe Nocera 

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan:

Mr. Nocera made some serious factual errors in those columns, particularly in the second one, in which he also took Mr. Buffett to task, calling him “cowardly and hypocritical.”

After a complaint from Mr. Buffett, which I was sent a copy of, corrections were appended to the columns, and published in print. […] But there’s a much bigger problem. The entire premise of the second column is built on a mistake: that Mr. Buffett had changed his tone after “licking his wounds” over the reaction to statements he made on April 23, including Mr. Nocera’s criticism. As Mr. Nocera told it in the second column, after several days of this embarrassment passed, Mr. Buffett decided to “bite back” by going on the offensive in a Fortune interview on April 28.

But that “remarkable interview” with Fortune — the so-called biting back — actually took place the same day as the initial statements, not after five days of wound-licking.

Typical Nocera hatchet job.

ZTE Starts Selling $99 Firefox OS Phone in the U.S., via eBay 

Ina Fried, writing for Recode:

While Firefox OS remains targeted at first-time smartphone buyers overseas, China’s ZTE said Thursday it will start selling a model in the U.S. via eBay.

The ZTE Open C is listed for the “Buy It Now” price of $99.99.

What the hell, I bought one. (22nd one sold so far, according to the eBay page.)

‘Year of Luigi’ Generates $456 Million Loss for Nintendo 

John Teti:

Among the most notable fuckups that can be attributed to Luigi’s piss-poor leadership are dwindling sales of the Wii U — Nintendo sold 2.72 million of them, well behind the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One — and a dearth of quality non-Luigi-related Wii U games. But even Mario’s idiot brother couldn’t run the Nintendo 3DS into the ground, as Nintendo’s flagship portable continues to sell at a steady clip — 12.26 million of them were sold in the fiscal year.

Something’s gumming up the plumbing, poor Luigi’s in a bind.
Killer turtles out to get him, creepy crabs are right behind.
Fighter flies, jeepers cripes!
They’re all coming out the pipes!

Mario, where are you?

Here’s How Odd This ‘Apple Buys Beats’ Rumor Is 

So odd that it was an April Fool’s joke just five weeks ago in The Lefsetz Letter, the most popular music industry newsletter.

The Financial Times: ‘Apple in Talks to Buy Beats Electronics for $3.2B’ 

Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw:

Apple is closing in on its largest ever acquisition with the planned $3.2 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, the headphone maker and music streaming operator founded by music producer Jimmy Iovine and the hip-hop star Dr Dre.

The deal could be announced as early as next week, people familiar with the negotiations said, but they cautioned that some details had yet to be agreed and talks could still fall apart.

On the surface, this doesn’t make any sense to me. I can’t see Apple keeping the “Beats” brand around for headphones. If Apple wanted to sell expensive high-end headphones, they don’t need to spend $3 billion. The Beats streaming service is interesting, but can’t Apple do that on its own, as an expansion of the iTunes Music Store and iTunes Radio? And it’s not like Beats Music is even popular (at least yet) — Peter Kafka reports they only have 200,000 subscribers, most of them from a deal with AT&T.

Nothing from Beats looks like Apple. Not the brand, not the hardware. If this report is true, and Apple keeps the brand, how does that work? When is the last time Apple sold anything that wasn’t under its own brand? Filemaker is the only thing that comes to mind, and the origins of that arrangement are downright prehistoric. And if Apple doesn’t keep the Beats brand, what are they paying for?

I don’t get it.

Update: Numerous people are wondering if it’s all about streaming rights from the music labels — i.e. rights that Apple couldn’t get on its own (because the music labels have long resented iTunes’s dominance in digital music downloads), so they’re buying a company that negotiated those rights on their own. The problem with this theory is that those licenses (to my understanding) aren’t transferable in the event of an acquisition. Music label executives may be dumb, but they’re not that dumb.

The Formula 1 Steering Wheel 

Jordan Golson, writing for Wired:

The modern Formula 1 car is among the most amazing machines ever made. And when you’re going wheel-to-wheel with someone like four-time world champ Sebastian Vettel at 180 mph, you can’t take a hand off the wheel to do, well, anything. Every task a driver might need to do, every bit of information he might need to know, is quite literally at his fingertips.

The modern Formula 1 steering wheel is, therefore, the most amazing ever made. It is, in every way, the nerve center of the car.

Whatever Happened to the Apple HDTV? 

Harry McCracken:

Analysts, pundits and other assorted Apple watchers have been talking about such a TV for years. Sometimes, they’ve even said that factories were in the process of cranking up production so that TVs could reach Apple Stores in the immediate future, or issued forecasts of how many units the company would sell.

And yet, the Apple HDTV not only isn’t here yet, but feels like it’s slipping away. When people bring it up now, they assume it will debut in 2015, if they specify a date at all.

Interesting new document from Apple, outlining in detail how they cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies and what information they’re capable of providing. This part caught my eye:

Upon receipt of a valid search warrant, Apple can extract certain categories of active data from passcode locked iOS devices. Specifically, the user generated active files on an iOS device that are contained in Apple’s native apps and for which the data is not encrypted using the passcode (“user generated active files”), can be extracted and provided to law enforcement on external media. Apple can perform this data extraction process on iOS devices running iOS 4 or more recent versions of iOS. Please note the only categories of user generated active files that can be provided to law enforcement, pursuant to a valid search warrant, are: SMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. Apple cannot provide: email, calendar entries, or any third-party App data.

Also:

Apple can intercept users’ email communications, upon receipt of a valid Wiretap Order. Apple cannot intercept users’ iMessage or FaceTime communications as these communications are end-to-end encrypted.

‘Threes a Magic Number’ 

Threes co-developer Greg Wohlwend is Glenn Fleishman’s guest on the latest episode of The New Disruptors.

How Things Change, Digital Camera Edition 

David Friedman:

Back in 2000, I was playing around with a Game Boy Camera, trying to use it to take color photos. (I finally got that to work.) When I first got the camera, I took a walk through midtown taking pictures. I just came across the images and thought I’d share them here for posterity (scaled up to 200% for visibility on our fancy modern displays).

I remember using a similar camera on my Handspring Visor around the same time.

Going Against the Grain 

Justin Williams, on running a niche social platform (in his case, Glassboard, but it applies to App.net and Mlkshk, too, to name just two such services in the news this week):

Finding an audience of people interested in your platform is challenging. This isn’t Field of Dreams where if you build it people will magically appear. Once you find that niche of users, you’ve got to ensure they’re also the type of folks that are willing to pay to support your platform. If they aren’t, you keep looking for a niche that will sustain your product.

The Man Who Literally Built ‘Star Wars’ 

Esquire interviews Roger Christian, set decorator from Star Wars:

ESQ: And you also did the first light saber, or “laser sword” as it was called, right?

RC: Yes. The laser sword was one of the most challenging props to find. Several attempts at mock-ups made by John Steers’ SFX department had been rejected. I knew the laser sword or light saber had the potential to become the symbol of Star Wars, like Excalibur was to King Arthur, so it had to look the part. And the Prop Master Frank Bruton, who had to get everything on trucks for Tunisia for the start of filming, was hounding me, and nothing I had found to adapt was feeling right. One day at the camera shop we rented equipment from, I asked the owner if he had any spare parts somewhere. And he pointed to some boxes buried deep under the shelves and there in the box were several Graflex flashgun handles. They were perfect, heavy, and had a red button for firing the flash. I could not believe my luck. I used rubber T-strip as a base, which I had also used for the Stormtroopers’ Stirling sub machine guns, and I pulled out my superglue and stuck strips along the base to form a handle grip. Then I had found some interesting bubble strip from an old calculator LED strip and they fit perfectly into the grip where the Graflex attached to the camera. I placed some chrome tape over the Graflex name and voila.

(Via Dan Moren.)

The Return of Upcoming.org 

Andy Baio:

Launched in 2003 and “sunsetted” last year, Upcoming.org was the original art and tech events community. Let’s bring it back.

‘This Deal’s Getting Worse All the Time’ 

Re: the previous item.

Apparently It Was a ‘Shocker’ 

Two weeks ago, when Moves announced their acquisition by Facebook (with a happy little exclamation mark in the headline):

For those of you that use the Moves app — the Moves experience will continue to operate as a standalone app, and there are no plans to change that or commingle data with Facebook.

Again, yesterday:

Moves, the fitness-tracking app recently acquired by Facebook, has changed its privacy policy to allow broader sharing of user data, including with Facebook.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”

Nintendo Probably Can’t Save the Wii U 

Matt Peckham, writing for Time:

Nintendo’s problem is that it’s in that deadliest of platform catch-22s, where you need a slew of standout, signature games to make your case, leveraged by third-party support for all of the triple-A multi-platform titles. The company has too few of the former and a shrinking dearth of the latter at this point. Third parties have either abandoned the system or failed to sign up for duty in the first place, their worries doubtless confirmed for the second cycle running with these latest fiscal results.

After Facebook Deal, ‘Moves’ App Changes Privacy Policy 

Reed Albergotti, reporting for the WSJ:

Moves, the fitness-tracking app recently acquired by Facebook, has changed its privacy policy to allow broader sharing of user data, including with Facebook.

As recently as Friday, Moves’s privacy policy said the company did not “disclose an individual user’s data to third parties,” without a user’s consent, unless compelled by law enforcement. The policy said it would stay in place even if Moves were acquired.

On Monday, the policy permitted a wider range of data sharing. “We may share information, including personally identifying information, with our Affiliates (companies that are part of our corporate groups of companies, including but not limited to Facebook) to help provide, understand, and improve our Services,” the policy says.

Shocker.

Whither App.net? 

Dalton Caldwell:

The good news is that the renewal rate was high enough for App.net to be profitable and self-sustaining on a forward basis. Operational and hosting costs are sufficiently covered by revenue for us to feel confident in the continued viability of the service. No one should notice any change in the way the App.net API/service operates. To repeat, App.net will continue to operate normally on an indefinite basis.

The bad news is that the renewal rate was not high enough for us to have sufficient budget for full-time employees. After carefully considering a few different options, we are making the difficult decision to no longer employ any salaried employees, including founders. Dalton and Bryan will continue to be responsible for the operation of App.net, but no longer as employees. Additionally, as part of our efforts to ensure App.net is generating positive cash flow, we are winding down the Developer Incentive Program. We will be reaching out to developers currently enrolled in the program with more information.

Count me in with Marco Arment:

I would have loved to be proven wrong on my pessimistic predictions and criticism of their scattershot product direction. They’re good people. But I just don’t see a fundamentally social platform, even with a bunch of other features on top of it, getting a usefully large audience to succeed “on a forward basis” rather than “winding down” without being mostly free and having explosive growth from the start — especially when competing with similar, massive, free services.

Image-Sharing Site Mlkshk Is Shutting Down 

Pour one out for a great little service from some good people.

On Apple Getting the Cloud 

Mark Rogowsky, writing for Forbes:

To look to a more visible Apple cloud success, perhaps we should consider the absolutely massive iTunes/App Store franchise, instead. There, a company who Wilson says, “[doesn’t] have anything in the cloud to speak of” has built a combination of the world’s largest music retailer and the world’s largest software store. Apple has sold more than 25 billion songs and there have been more than 50 billion apps downloaded. (Oh, and the company is also the leader in digital movie sales/rentals as well, though that business is far behind Netflix’s subscription-style offerings.)

Apple’s revenues from all those downloads would total $23.5 billion if it were accounted for as a standalone business, according to Asymco. That small part of Apple’s overall business would be #130 on the Fortune 500 if it were a standalone company. For a sense of just how much that is, Facebook — the company Wilson says will be the second-most valuable behind Google in 2020 — took in just under $8 billion last year. For having “nothing,” Apple’s producing a good deal more than nothing in cloud revenues.

Joanna Stern Reviews the Updated MacBook Airs 

Joanna Stern:

It’s still got the same unmatched trackpad response, comfortable backlit keyboard and sturdy aluminum build. The 11-inch version costs $899 and has 9 hours of battery life, but I’d suggest going for the $999 13-inch version if you need more screen and keyboard real estate, an SD card slot and 12 hours of battery life. Even if you double the internal storage to 256GB and double the RAM to 8GB, the total cost is still $1,299.

My verdict: If you need a new laptop, this is the one to buy, especially with the $100 price cut. In fact, that’s been my verdict on the Air for several years. I’ve never met a better laptop. And I’ve met a lot of laptops.

Twitter Is a Social Media Platform, Not a Social Network 

Smart piece by Will Oremus for Slate:

But Wall Street — along with everyone else who’s down on Twitter because it has “a growth problem” — is making a mistake by comparing it to Facebook. Twitter is not a social network. Not primarily, anyway. It’s better described as a social media platform, with the emphasis on “media platform.” And media platforms should not be judged by the same metrics as social networks.

Social networks connect people with one another. Those connections tend to be reciprocal. Facebook even checks in on you now and then to make sure you’ve actually met the folks who are sending you friend requests. As a social network, its chief function is to help friends, family, and acquaintances keep in touch.

Media platforms, by contrast, connect publishers with their public. Those connections tend not to be reciprocal. One Twitter user may be followed by millions of strangers whom she feels no obligation to follow back, any more than an evening news anchor feels the need to check in with each of her viewers every night at 6.

See also: Nitasha Tiku writing for Valleywag on Twitter and “monthly active users” as a metric for its growth.

Install Hoefler & Co. Fonts on iOS 

Hoefler & Co.:

Great mobile apps like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote make it easier than ever to use your iPad and iPhone not just to consume content, but to create it. Typography, a long-missing piece of the puzzle, just got a lot better: starting today, your iOS 7 devices can use all the Hoefler & Co. fonts you’ve ever purchased, and you can install them directly from this site. Free.

For those of us who care about typography, this is such a big deal. I still think Apple needs a better way to allow font management though — Font Book for iOS, more or less.

How Things Change 

Steven Frank, reviewing the then-brand-new Danger Hiptop (from the team that went on to create Android):

The camera application lets you store up to 36 postage-stamp size color photos with the included camera attachment. The camera is about the size of a quarter, and maybe half an inch thick. It attaches to the device via a mini-jack, and thus can be swiveled in any direction. The camera application shows you a preview of what the camera is seeing, updated every couple of seconds, and you can choose to capture at any time. Once stored in the album, pictures can be emailed straight from the device as .jpg attachments. The quality is about what you’d expect from a quarter-sized camera. Not great. But it is a very fun “extra” which I’m glad they added. Being able to be anywhere, take a picture of something, and email it to someone, is pretty darn cool, even if the image quality is not really sufficient to be useful for any practical purpose.

I re-read this after fixing the link from my post linking to it back when it was new — which was so long ago, it was before Daring Fireball even had linked list entries.

Fred Wilson on Apple’s Prospects 

Ingrid Lunden, writing for AOL/TechCrunch:

Fred Wilson of New York’s Union Square Ventures, one of the top tech investors around, believes that by 2020, the biggest tech company in the world — Apple — will cease to be the most important, and won’t even be in the top three.

Speaking at today’s TC Disrupt conference in NYC, he predicted that the top three tech companies, instead, will be Google, Facebook “and one that we’ve never heard of.”

Why? Apple, he believes, is “too rooted to hardware,” with not enough tied into the cloud, and that will make it too much of a challenge for it to evolve going forward. “I think hardware is increasingly becoming a commodity,” he said. “Their stuff in the cloud is largely not good. I don’t think they think about data and the cloud.”

Anything could happen, especially if our measuring stick is stock price. Apple certainly won’t be the biggest tech company in the world forever.

But keep in mind, Fred Wilson is the guy who sold his Apple stock in 2009 for $91 per share (it closed at $601 today), and who started pushing for companies he invests in to develop for Android first back in 2010. His track record on Apple is rather spotty. And prognostications that hardware is becoming a commodity have been made for decades, and never seem to come true. There’s a big difference between a market that is largely commoditized and one that is entirely commoditized.

Heidi Roizen: ‘It’s Different for Girls’ 

Former Apple executive Heidi Roizen:

Early in T/Maker’s life, I was working on a company-defining deal with a major PC manufacturer. We were on track to do about a million in revenue that year: This deal had the potential to bring in another quarter million, plus deliver millions of dollars in the years to come if it went well. It was huge.

The PC manufacturer’s senior vice president who had been instrumental in crafting the deal suggested he and I sign over dinner in San Francisco to celebrate. When I arrived at the restaurant, I found it a bit awkward to be seated at a table for four yet to be in two seats right next to each other, but it was a French restaurant and that seemed to be the style, so down I sat.

Wine was brought and toasts were made to our great future together. About halfway through the dinner he told me he had also brought me a present, but it was under the table, and would I please give him my hand so he could give it to me. I gave him my hand, and he placed it in his unzipped pants.

Galaxy S5 Explained: UX and Back Panel 

From a post on Samsung’s official weblog:

Morever [sic], while in previous Galaxy flagships, the features in the settings were only shown in a list, in the Galaxy S5, they can be seen in three types of views such as a grid, list, and tab (category). Thus, with an easy-to-see icons and interface, you can clearly say that the Galaxy S5 is a trendy smartphone.

Clearly.

However, there is another reason the UI of the Galaxy S5 looks so clean and simple.

The Galaxy S5 has 40 applications only, which is much reduced compared to, for example, the Galaxy Note 3 having 51 apps. 40 applications in the 2 pages. That’s it. If wanted, other relatively less frequently used apps can be easily downloaded through Galaxy Essential and Galaxy Gift widget.

Sounds great.

The Great Smartphone War: Apple vs. Samsung 

Kurt Eichenwald, in a well-reported feature for Vanity Fair:

One day in March 2011, cars carrying investigators from Korea’s anti-trust regulator pulled up outside a Samsung facility in Suwon, about 25 miles south of Seoul. They were there ready to raid the building, looking for evidence of possible collusion between the company and wireless operators to fix the prices of mobile phones.

Before the investigators could get inside, security guards approached and refused to let them through the door. A standoff ensued, and the investigators called the police, who finally got them inside after a 30-minute delay. Curious about what had been happening in the plant as they cooled their heels outside, the officials seized video from internal security cameras. What they saw was almost beyond belief.

Upon getting word that investigators were outside, employees at the plant began destroying documents and switching computers, replacing the ones that were being used — and might have damaging material on them — with others.

A year later, Korean newspapers reported that the government had fined Samsung for obstructing the investigation at the facility. At the time, a legal team representing Apple was in Seoul to take depositions in the Samsung case, and they read about the standoff. From what they heard, one of the Samsung employees there had even swallowed documents before the investigators were allowed in. That certainly didn’t bode well for Apple’s case; how, the Apple lawyers said half-jokingly among themselves, could they possibly compete in a legal forum with employees who were so loyal to the company that they were willing to eat incriminating evidence?

Eichenwald’s is the best overview of the Apple-Samsung rivalry I’ve seen; nothing else even comes close.

The Conjuring of the Mirage 

Great feature for Vegas Seven by David G. Schwartz marking the 25th anniversary of The Mirage:

Wynn had one advantage over his detractors: While many of them disdained the nuts and bolts of casino design, Wynn lived and breathed it. He was intimately involved with the design process — not to micromanage the team, but to provoke and inspire them.

“He created creativity,” Bergman recalls. “I can’t put it any other way. He has an insatiable work ethic. We had a ton of talent, and he brought it out in everyone. It was a fun project. There were moments, of course, where we struggled with the look of the building. The tower, for instance — we weren’t sure what we were going to have there. We built 50 different study models, then it fell into place.”

All along, Wynn was there, asking questions and sometimes offering answers. His own forte was space planning: What did the guest see when he arrived? How long could it take to get him where he wanted to go? Most important, how could he get there without getting frustrated?

The creative process was casual, with few set rules, but everyone knew that their boss wouldn’t tolerate anything less than excellence.

The difference between a Wynn casino — Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn/Encore — and nearly all other Vegas casinos is like the difference between an Apple Store and a Best Buy.

(Schwartz’s Grandissimo, by the way, is one of the best books I’ve read this year.)

Craft 

My thanks to Pixel & Tonic for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Craft, their award-winning CMS. Craft is laser-focused on flexibility, simplicity, and control, and it’s being used by thousands, including by great agencies like Happy Cog.

Craft 2.0 just shipped with over 250 new features, including taxonomy support and a redesigned control panel, plus all-new pricing that makes Craft more affordable than ever. Craft is flexible enough to work for everything from web publishing to feeding structured data to a native mobile app. Check it out and see for yourself.

Jury Awards Apple a Nice Bag of Peanuts in Samsung Patent Case 

Ina Fried, Recode:

A federal jury in the Apple-Samsung case delivered a mixed verdict Friday.

The panel ruled that various Samsung products infringed on two patents that Apple had sued over in its latest patent case and found damages on a third patent, awarding more than $119.6 million in damages. However, it found Apple did not infringe on two other patents and also awarded Samsung $158,400, saying Apple infringed on a Samsung patent.

It was never about the money for Apple. Even if Apple had been awarded the full $2.2 billion it asked for, the truth is that’s just not that much money in the grand scheme of the post-PC market. But $120 million? That’s chump change to either company.

It’s hard to see how anything related to this verdict would give Samsung pause before copying Apple in the future. The financial penalty was a mere pittance, and in terms of public perception, they clearly had no shame to begin with.

That said, I still don’t think Apple has any regrets about pursuing this case. It’s about the message it sends to all competitors, not just Samsung: We are irrationally protective of our work, and if you wrong us, we will go after you.

John Paczkowski: No Wearable Device or New Apple TV at WWDC 

John Paczkowski, writing for Recode:

If you’ve been anticipating the debut of some new category-defining hardware at Apple’s upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, a word of advice: Dial back your expectations or be disappointed. Sources familiar with Apple’s plans tell Code/red that Tim Cook will not use WWDC to unveil Apple’s mythical wearable device. Nor will he use it to show off a new Apple TV, or even preview the new software the company is developing for it.

Paczkowski’s Apple sources are golden, so we’d do well to set our expectations accordingly.

The Information: ‘Google Takes Aim at the iPhone With Android “Silver” Program’ 

Amir Efrati, behind The Information’s paywall:

LG Electronics, which has produced the last two Nexus phones with Google, is expected to participate in the Silver effort. Motorola, which Google recently agreed to sell to China-based Lenovo Group, is another prime candidate for the program, as are other Chinese manufacturers that have long wanted to enter the higher end of the market. Samsung, Sony and HTC, which already sell high-end phones and have made big bets on customized software and on their own consumer brands, are unlikely to partake in Silver, at least at first.

I’d say the headline is wrong here. Android Silver doesn’t sound like something aimed at the iPhone — it’s aimed at Samsung. There is a high-end Android phone market, and Samsung owns nearly all of it.

Samsung Holding Press Event ‘Around Health’ on May 28 

Timing this for the week prior to WWDC is the PR equivalent of those “FRIST!” comments.

Andy Ihnatko on the MacBook Air 

Andy Ihnatko:

Are we ever going to see a MacBook Air with a magazine-quality Retina-grade display? I’m sure it’s coming but Apple seems to feel little pressure to deliver such a beast. It’s going to suck down a lot more battery power than what’s in there now and Apple appreciates that next to the Air’s insubstantially slim design; the centerpiece of the experience is its amazing battery life. The 13-inch Air can outrun even an iPad. Apple isn’t going to dent that superlative feature unless it’s under duress from an alien invasion.

Angela Ahrendts’s Apple Bio 

I’m curious to see how big a public role she’ll play at Apple. Decidedly few Apple executives ever step out from behind the curtain, but I expect Ahrendts to be one of them.

Burying the URL 

Great piece by Allen Pike:

I realize that URLs are ugly to look at, hard to remember, and a nightmare for security. Still, they are the entire point of the web.

Sony’s in a ‘Bag of Hurt’ 

Aaron Souppouris, reporting for The Verge:

The second charge is due to what Sony calls “demand for physical media contracting faster than anticipated,” especially in Europe. Because of this, Sony says it does not believe the business will generate “sufficient cash flow in the future to recover the carrying amount of long-lived assets.” It anticipates an impairment charge on those assets, and a second charge on the overall value of its disc manufacturing business, which will amount to 25 billion yen ($245 million).

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