You Should Buy a New Daring Fireball T-Shirt ★
In case you missed it, brand-new Daring Fireball t-shirts are now available. We’re only taking orders until tomorrow, so if you’re interested, act now.
Hey Reuters, JK Keller Fixed Your ‘Glass Ceiling’ Graph ★
Weather Line 1.1 ★
Not one but two weather app recommendations today. And this one, Weather Line, has become my primary weather app. I find the temperature graph (hourly, daily, monthly) to be an incredibly useful visualization. How warmly do I need to dress today? What should I pack for this trip? And it has built-in precipitation forecasts powered by Dark Sky. $2.99, cheap.
Update: Here’s an interview from Rene Ritchie at iMore with Weather Line director Ryan Jones.
Perfect Weather 1.1 ★
Before podcast listening apps became the new Twitter clients, weather apps were the new Twitter clients. I remain a sucker for good ones. Perfect Weather is a good one; my favorite feature is the integration with NOAA animated weather apps. $2.99, cheap.
Castro 1.0 ★
New podcast listening app for iPhone, with an elegant, simple iOS 7 interface. I don’t recall ever seeing a playback/scrubbing interface quite like Castro’s, and it’s really good. $2.99, cheap.
Here’s John Moltz on Castro:
So far Castro has been great about downloading episodes in the
background and having them waiting for me when it’s time to walk
the dog (which is not a euphemism I actually have a dog that I
walk). The only downside to Castro I can think of is that it’s
iPhone-only, so there’s no syncing, of course. Not that Apple’s
syncing has worked that well for me anyway.
‘If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating’ ★
Ravi Somaiya and Leslie Kaufman, reporting for the NYT on a string of “viral” stories that garnered millions of page views, all which stories turned out to be false:
“The faster metabolism puts people who fact-check at a
disadvantage,” said Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for The
Huffington Post, which reposted the fictional airplane tweets, the
letter to Santa and the poverty essay. “If you throw something up
without fact-checking it, and you’re the first one to put it up,
and you get millions and millions of views, and later it’s proved
false, you still got those views. That’s a problem. The incentives
are all wrong.”
Think about that. The guy who allowed all three stories to run says it’s a problem and the incentives are all wrong. I’ve been saying for years that page view-based advertising is a corrupting force. This is where it leads.
Scott Forstall ‘News’ ★
Juli Clover, writing for MacRumors yesterday: “Former iOS Chief Scott Forstall Surfaces After Quiet Year of Traveling and Philanthropy”. Where by “surfaces”, they mean “is mentioned”. The source for this breaking news is this report by Amir Efrati for The Information. The relevant bit from that report:
What he’s doing now: Laying low after some travel to places
including Italy and South Africa, with occasional appearances at
Silicon Valley networking events. He advises some companies and
has become more active in philanthropy in areas such as education,
poverty and human rights.
What’s next: Venture capital firms including Kleiner Perkins
Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz have maintained ties with
him, but Apple insiders bet he’ll want to build something.
No news at all, other than that Forstall traveled to Italy and South Africa at some point in the last 13 months.
At Business Insider, Jay Yarow writes:
One of the biggest mysteries in technology is what has happened to Scott Forstall.
What I’ve heard is that when Tim Cook fired him, Forstall was offered (and accepted) a big truck full of money as part of a severance package. The terms of the severance agreement included a period of time during which Forstall can not (could not?) work for any other company, nor make any public statements. A garden leave, if you will — and pretty standard stuff in a tempestuous senior executive shake-up like this. The only question I’m curious about is how long the quiet / non-compete period is. I thought perhaps it was one year, which would mean he’s now free to talk and work elsewhere, which in turn was why I was at first excited to read The Information’s report yesterday. I thought perhaps they’d landed Forstall’s first post-Apple interview. (And I was jealous.)
For all we know, Forstall is free to talk and is simply choosing to remain quiet until he actually has something to announce. Shocking, right?
For the next month I thought it would be a fun little project to
rewatch every James Bond film and create a little illustration
for each one and maybe a little review.
Great work so far.
Matthew Bischoff on Software Criticism and the NYT’s ‘Today’s Paper’ ★
By my count there are at least 13 ways to read the Times: Paper, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, Kindle, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Web, Mobile Web, Replica, Times Skimmer, Time Wire, and now Today’s Paper. We don’t need more ways to read the same content that better imitate the past. We need the existing applications and websites to be much much better and focused on the future of news consumption.
The platform-specific apps aren’t a problem, but the fact that The Times has so many different ways to read the exact same content on the web is damning. Why not work on making the standard web view less cluttered and more elegant instead of creating an entirely separate view?
Square’s New Card Reader ★
Kyle Vanhemert, writing for Wired:
Jesse Dorogusker is used to working tiny. Before becoming Square’s
VP of Hardware, he spent eight years leading the accessories
division at Apple, heading the development of the works-both-ways
Lightning connector. With the new Reader, he had the chance to
take a crack at a flagship product. Sitting in a booth in Square’s
immaculate new offices, huddled over a piece of paper with a dozen
half-assembled Readers taped to it like bugs pinned to a science
museum display, he detailed the challenge for Wired. […]
The even greater undertaking with the new Reader, however, was the
development of a custom chip, built from the ground up. “It’s not
typical for a startup to do that,” Dorogusker says. “It’s a little
bit of upfront cost to build this from scratch.” But the benefits
were huge. After all, this tiny fleck is the brains of the
operation. And by building their own chip, Square was able to
improve several aspects of the product–its performance, its size,
and its overall reliability–in one stroke.
Custom chips are the new competitive edge.
See also: retention of talent is perhaps the biggest problem Apple faces.
Disney Takes Over Rights to ‘Indiana Jones’ Franchise ★
Justin Kroll, reporting for Variety:
Under the arrangement, Disney gains distribution and marketing
rights to future films, in addition to retaining its current
ownership rights which it secured when it acquired Lucasfilm.
Paramount will continue to be responsible for distribution of the
first four films in the franchise and will receive a financial
participation on any future films that are produced and released.
Though Disney now owns the rights they have not officially
announced that a fifth films is in the works.
Do they keep going with Harrison Ford as an older Indy, or reboot with a young actor, James Bond-style? (Casting off the top of my head: Ryan Gosling. My pal Dave Wiskus says Bradley Cooper.)
Claim Chowder: Windows Phone Edition ★
BGR, back in May 2011:
Pyramid’s Senior Analyst Stela Bokun explains that Windows Phone
is poised to overtake Android’s massive market share much earlier
than that — as soon as 2013, in fact. Beginning this year, Bokun
sees Windows Phone popularity exploding even faster than Android
adoption has since its introduction in 2008.
Anything could happen in the next three weeks, I suppose.
‘Everyone Laughed’ ★
Vincent Washington, senior business development manager at RIM from 2001-2011, in Businessweek’s “The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry: An Oral History”:
One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep
BlackBerry. He said, “Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m
your brand ambassador,” basically. And we pitched that to
marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the
teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the
room. They said, “This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.” I
said at the meeting: “This kid might outlive RIM.” Everyone
The Information ★
Jessica Lessin (whose reporting I’ve linked to numerous times) left the Wall Street Journal earlier this year to start a new publication. It launched this week, with a staff of eight:
The Information, launching today, is our first step towards
building a publication that operates differently. We’re a team of
reporters and editors who have learned from the best in the
business, and we want to challenge ourselves to write better
articles that break new ground. Period.
To do that, we are focusing on writing for readers we think are
underserved: professionals in technology and in industries being
upended by it. These readers find plenty to read every day but
they don’t consistently find news that is relevant to them and
their business challenges. They don’t often find news that takes a
stand supported by facts. We aim to do both.
So, instead of chasing the highest number of eyeballs, we will
chase and deliver the most valuable news. We’ve set the bar high.
To succeed, we need to write articles that deliver value worth
paying for. That’s why we’re a subscription publication.
Subscriptions cost $399/year or $39/month. All articles are behind the paywall. That’s an intriguing business model. I think it will work. 2,500 subscribers gets them to $1M in annual revenue; 5,000 gets them to $2M. If you’re going to charge for subscriptions, charge a lot.
Update: A few readers have asked whether I subscribed. Good question. I did, for one month.
Twitter to Be Available on Mobile Phones Without Internet ★
Sruthi Ramakrishnan, reporting for Reuters:
Twitter Inc. is tying up with a Singapore-based startup to make
its 140-character messaging service available to users in emerging
markets who have entry-level mobile phones which cannot access the
U2opia Mobile, which has a similar tie-up with Facebook Inc, will
launch its Twitter service in the first quarter of next year,
Chief Executive and Co-founder Sumesh Menon told Reuters.
Seems like forever ago, but Twitter was originally conceived as an SMS service.
‘Apple’s Star Chamber’ ★
Scathing WSJ editorial (warning: WSJ editorial) regarding Judge Denise Cotes and Michael Bromwich, the monitor she appointed to oversee Apple’s compliance in the e-book price-fixing case.
Eric Schmidt Says Drones Should Be Banned From Private Use ★
Self-driving cars, though, those are OK.
Brightest Flashlight ★
Alice Truong, writing for Fast Company:
The Android app Brightest Flashlight has been installed between 50
million and 100 million times, averaging a 4.8 rating from more
than 1 million reviews. Yet its customers might not be so happy to
learn the app has been secretly recording and sharing their
location and device ID information.
Eff Your Review ★
And another one:
If I wanted to leave a review of our app I would have.
I’ve long considered a public campaign against this particular practice, wherein I’d encourage Daring Fireball readers, whenever they encounter these “Please rate this app” prompts, to go ahead and take the time to do it — but to rate the app with just one star and to leave a review along the lines of, “One star for annoying me with a prompt to review the app.”
(Via Jim Younkin.)
Apple’s App Store Usage Numbers Suggest iOS 7 Adoption at 74 Percent ★
Remember those people who thought iOS 7 adoption would be slower than iOS 6’s last year because people would reject the new UI design? Didn’t happen.
Another Tumblr site dedicated to documenting questionable web design practices.
‘This Is What Happens When Analytics Make Decisions for You.’ ★
Andy Beaumont, regarding his Tab Closed; Didn’t Read website:
What we’re witnessing here is the first wave of the second world
pop-up war. Those of us who lived through the first one can only
describe the horrors to our disbelieving children. This time
though, the pop-ups are winning because we don’t yet have the
tools to fight back. The web has seemingly evolved into something
that actively antagonises people — why would anyone in their
right mind hide the content that visitors are there to see?
In short, maybe they’re not in their right mind. This is what
happens when analytics make decisions for you.
Whole piece is simply brilliant.
Tab Closed; Didn’t Read ★
A weblog by Andy Beaumont devoted to one of the worst practices on the web today:
If you’re going to insist on obscuring your content with some
stupid social shit, a promo for your shitty app or a full-page
newsletter signup form, then I’m not going to read your content.
Or click on your ads. Or help you generate revenue in any way.
Also, reminds me of this old tweet of mine from 2009.
Chasing A-Rod ★
Well-reported, well-written piece by Steve Fishman for New York Magazine. No matter what you think of Alex Rodriguez, this is a fascinating story. I’m an avid Yankees fan, but I never understood exactly what was going on with this A-Rod/PED story until reading this. It’s a complicated saga full of secrets, and Fishman has done an extraordinary job untangling many of the threads.
Andy Rubin’s New Role at Google: Leading Robotics Team ★
John Markoff piece in yesterday’s NYT:
If Amazon can imagine delivering books by drones, is it too much
to think that Google might be planning to one day have one of the
robots hop off an automated Google Car and race to your doorstep
to deliver a package?
Google executives acknowledge that robotic vision is a “moonshot.”
But it appears to be more realistic than Amazon’s proposed drone
delivery service, which Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive,
revealed in a television interview the evening before one of the
biggest online shopping days of the year.
What justifies the phrase “appears to be more realistic than Amazon’s proposed drone delivery service”? Amazon claims their Prime Air service is ready to go, and only awaits regulatory approval. Maybe neither of these things will come to fruition any time soon — always beware of anything pre-announced — but I’ll put my money on Amazon’s drones making a real delivery before the above scenario of a Google robot “hopping off” a robot-driven car.
The New York Times: Today’s Paper ★
A much nicer way to read the Times in a web browser. Utterly uncluttered.
My only complaint so far: when you page down (space bar, or Page Down key), the top line of text is positioned under the persistent nav bar at the top of the window.
The Latest in the Carl Icahn / Apple Romance ★
Writing for Fortune, Adam Lashinsky says “Icahn blinked”:
So what is the new level? CNBC, citing a source, says Icahn wants
$50 billion now, and that he’d like it by the end of the current
fiscal year, which is 10 months away. Icahn didn’t tell Time that
figure, and he hasn’t yet tweeted it. We’re relying on CNBC’s
source for it.
But assuming the figure is correct, Icahn has gone from $150
billion right now to $50 billion when Apple can get around to it.
For the most part, the commentary has been of the variety that
Icahn remains on Apple’s case, riding it hard for the cash hoarder
it is. Forbes.com wrote that Icahn “wasn’t joking” about the $150
billion buyback. Except it appears he was.
This, in response to Time Magazine’s cover profile of Icahn, which included this:
Apple confirms that Icahn has filed a precatory proposal and, in
response to TIME’s query about it, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling
said: “Earlier this year we more than doubled our capital return
program to $100 billion, including the largest share repurchase
authorization in history. As part of our regular review process,
we are once again actively seeking our shareholders’ input on our
program, and as we said in October, the management team and our
board are engaged in an ongoing discussion about it which is
thoughtful and deliberate. We will announce any changes to our
current program in the first part of calendar 2014.”
How often does Apple respond to press inquiries? Rarely. Very rarely. I don’t think this standoff with Icahn is contentious (certainly not by Icahn standards), but the fact that Apple responded at all shows that they’re taking him seriously.
The Siege of Sinatra ★
Great Frank Sinatra story I’d never heard before:
It was hardly the right moment for Sinatra to get up on stage at
Melbourne’s Festival Hall and describe Australia’s female
journalists as “buck-and-a-half hookers”.
A furious Australian press howled for blood. Sinatra refused to
apologise and sparked an extraordinary chain of events that
resulted in the cancellation of Sinatra’s second Melbourne
concert, a black ban of his private jet by airport refuellers and
a three-day siege at Sydney’s Boulevard Hotel. […]
Sinatra even suggested calling the admiral on board the American
aircraft carrier in Tokyo Bay and asking him to sail into Sydney
Harbour and send a helicopter to land on the roof of the
The New Adjustable Glif ★
Clever new adjustable design. Mine just arrived, and it’s very nice. I’ve kept a Glif in my bag and on my desk ever since the first one shipped in 2010.
Goddamn adorable Adam Lisagor-narrated video, too.