Ever since I made this video of David Letterman talking to
drummers, I’ve wondered if he’s actually seen it. I recently
asked one of his writers, Bill Scheft, on Twitter. According to
Scheft, not only has Letterman watched it, but “he loved it as he
loved few things.” I realize that it just seems like I’m
bragging on the internet, but that’s about the greatest thing
I’ve ever heard.
With all the news surrounding Letterman’s retirement, it feels
like a fine time to revisit the video.
I remain highly skeptical that a modular design can compete in a product category where size, weight, and battery life are at such a premium. Even if they can bring something to market, why would any normal person be interested in a phone like this?
Unfortunately, I fear that tech-industry observers have completely
lost their perspective. As Rene has written, no matter how
big the wearables market gets, it’s still not going to touch the
IDC reported that in 2013, one billion smartphones were shipped,
up 38 percent from the previous year. That’s a fast-growing market
worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, on Thursday IDC
predicted that the wearables market will reach 112 million units
In other words, in four years the wearables market might grow to
be one-tenth the size of today’s smartphone market — in units
shipped. Presumably the average selling price of wearable items
will be a fraction of that of smartphones, meaning the dollar
value of the wearables market is even more minuscule compared to
the smartphone market.
The pricing issue is a big one: carrier-subsidized pricing blinds many people to the fact that iPhones really sell for $700-800 a pop. Some analyst predicted last week that Apple will sell watches “priced at several thousand dollars”. Maybe they will, but if they do, they sure as shit aren’t going to sell as many of them as they do iPhones.
It feels a lot more likely to me that any new wearable devices from Apple will be priced more along the line of iPods: in the $100-400 range. Maybe a little higher at the outset, coming down over time. (I wouldn’t even be surprised if they use the iPod brand for them.)
My thanks to Igloo — “the intranet you’ll actually like” — for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. This week Igloo introduced four new templates to help start your next intranet project. You can start with:
an app-based social intranet;
a corporate intranet;
a customer community;
or a partner portal
Igloo’s new templates share a unified visual language, but your Igloo can be fully designed to match your brand and the way your business is structured. All Igloo templates feature responsive design, so they looks great on any device — desktop, tablet, or phone. Igloo built its own public-facing website using the Igloo platform.
You can start using Igloo instantly and, amazingly, Igloo is free of charge for up to ten people.
Fedor Indutny, a core member of the node.js team, has proved that
it is in fact possible for an attacker to sniff out the private
SSL keys from a server left exposed by the Heartbleed bug. The
proof came in response to a challenge from CloudFlare that called
on the security community to grab the keys from a demo server.
Even judging by the low standards of creepy data-mining apps,
“Brightest Flashlight” did something pretty egregious. The free
app, which was installed by at least 50 million Android users,
transmitted users’ real-time locations to ad networks and other
third parties. It was, in other words, a stalking device disguised
as a flashlight.
Comic fans may groan about the sale — it’s always sad when a plucky, groundbreaking start-up is bought out by a corporate giant — but Amazon’s track record with purchases is actually pretty good. The company has bought Zappos, Goodreads, Woot, and Audible, all of which continue to operate more or less as they did before, rather than being integrated into Amazon.com.
Sweet typography-centric playing card design by Robert Padbury. The Kickstarter project is just a few days old, but already fully-funded. I say we all pile on and make this project a big hit. (Bonus: the t-shirts are being printed by my pal Brian Jaramillo, who’s handled all DF t-shirts for many years.)
This week we learned, thanks to a February 2012 internal Samsung
document marked “top secret” and unearthed by Apple as part of its
ongoing patent infringement proceedings, that we were right and
those more credulous news outlets were wrong.
When Strategy Analytics was telling the world that Samsung sold 2
million Galaxy Tabs in six weeks, the truth was that it took
Samsung all of 2011 to sell half that many.
Shocker. But as Elmer-DeWitt points out, the blame doesn’t lie solely with Samsung or even Strategy Analytics — it lies also with the news outlets that gleefully passed along the report as fact. The reason: they wanted it to be true. iPad Continues to Dominate Tablet Sales is a boring story.
And now, some bad (but unsurprising) Heartbleed news, reported by Michael Riley for Bloomberg:
The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years
about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive
information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it
to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the
The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national
security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over
the role of the government’s top computer experts.
Wonderful remembrance of Steve Jobs from Don Melton
So Steve started the rehearsal, going through slides on the
“Switcher” ad campaign and then the Apple Stores.
At the end of the retail update, he was supposed to conclude
with something like “1.4 million visitors in the month of
December alone,” but he added, “so to all of you in the press
who doubted us…”
And then clicked to reveal his special slide — poster art I’m
sure everyone has seen before — a 1940’s-style rendering of a
grinning man holding a big mug of coffee next to his face with
this text alongside like a world balloon:
“How about a nice cup of shut the fuck up.”
And then the best part — the part we didn’t know was coming —
Steve paused, turned to his V.P. of Marketing and deadpanned,
“What do you think, Phil? Too much?”
Some potentially good news on the OppenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability front, from CloudFlare:
While the vulnerability seems likely to put private key data at
risk, to date there have been no verified reports of actual
private keys being exposed. At CloudFlare, we received early
warning of the Heartbleed vulnerability and patched our systems 12
days ago. We’ve spent much of the time running extensive tests to
figure out what can be exposed via Heartbleed and, specifically,
to understand if private SSL key data was at risk.
Here’s the good news: after extensive testing on our software
stack, we have been unable to successfully use Heartbleed on a
vulnerable server to retrieve any private key data. Note that is
not the same as saying it is impossible to use Heartbleed to get
private keys. We do not yet feel comfortable saying that. However,
if it is possible, it is at a minimum very hard. And, we have
reason to believe based on the data structures used by OpenSSL and
the modified version of NGINX that we use, that it may in fact be
And now, back to changing passwords on a slew of my accounts around the web.
Pamela Vagata and Kevin Wilfong, writing for the Facebook Engineering Blog:
At Facebook, we have unique storage scalability challenges when it comes to our data warehouse. Our warehouse stores upwards of 300 PB of Hive data, with an incoming daily rate of about 600 TB. In the last year, the warehouse has seen a 3x growth in the amount of data stored. Given this growth trajectory, storage efficiency is and will continue to be a focus for our warehouse infrastructure.
600 TB of incoming data per day is mind-blowing. I can’t fathom it. And it’s great that they’re sharing this information. There can’t be that many entities dealing with this scale of data storage, and the others likely aren’t sharing what they’ve learned. This is the cutting edge of computer science.
Eye-opening feature by Steven Godfrey for SBNation on the stream of money paid to college football recruits and players:
Remember, your job as a bag man isn’t to hide the benefit. It’s to
hide the proof. In a region as passionate about college football
as the American South, there’s no real moral outrage when new cars
or clothes or jobs for relatives appear.
“We can only get away with whatever’s considered reasonable by the
majority of the folks in our society. That’s why it’s different in
the SEC. Maybe that’s why we’re able to be more active in what we
do. Because no one ever looks at the car or the jewelry and says,
‘How did you get that, poor football player?’ They say, ‘How did
they get you that and not get caught, poor football player?’”
Joshua Brustein, reporting for Businessweek on the Jonathan Hoefler/Tobias Frere-Jones breakup:
Several designers I spoke with said they were under the impression
that Hoefler was almost exclusively focused on managing the
business in recent years, leaving design to Frere-Jones. This
makes it easy to cast Hoefler in the role of the villain
exploiting the work of a naïve genius. But Hoefler and
Frere-Jones’s relationship was more complicated than that, says
Mike Essl, who teaches design at Cooper Union. Hoefler had all of
Frere-Jones’s design chops, but also had the ability to propel
Frere-Jones to prominence in a way he couldn’t have done on his
own. Business partnerships rarely last forever, says Essl, and
when they end, it’s often ugly. “Van Halen isn’t going to be Van
Halen forever,” he says. “Someone is going to leave.”
Tucked away near the end of a Businessweek article on the startup
is news of Rice taking a fourth seat on the board:
The former secretary of state’s consulting firm, RiceHadleyGates,
has been advising the startup on management issues for the last
year. Now she’ll help the company think about such matters as
international expansion and privacy, an issue that dogs every
cloud company in the age of Edward Snowden and the NSA.
Here’s an argument for counting them as “both, sometimes”:
Quantcast, the Web measurement/ad company, says nearly a quarter
of mobile Web views may be coming from in-app browsers running on
Facebook or Twitter. That is: People who click on links and open
up stories are in apps and on the Web, at the same time.
Yes, fans of Colbert “in character” will miss his show, but the
truth is that the format, despite being an excellent vehicle that
launched Colbert to stardom, was far too limiting for Colbert’s
talent. He’s absolutely going to blossom with this new freedom.
From his time on Strangers With Candy to The Daily Show and
The Colbert Report, he’s shown his comedic talent in various
forms with an improve performer’s fluidity. Those are traits that
will make him instantly watchable doing his own taped (and live)
skits on The Late Show, plus they will serve him well behind the
desk doing interviews.
“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” Mr. Colbert said in a statement. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”
He added: “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”
Great choice. Should keep Late Show the funniest of the late night shows.
According to multiple sources inside and outside the company,
Christie’s exit has been known for weeks — and planned for even
longer. His stepping aside has been designed to allow for a
transition of leadership inside the Human Interface group.
Christie worked under Forstall for many years, and there may have
been plenty of times he didn’t agree with Ive, but there has
reportedly been a distinct lack of drama in this transition.
If there was any ill-will between Christie and Ive, it doesn’t
appear to have taken the form of any open conflict and a flare-up
of friction was apparently not behind this exit.
Mr. Christie’s group will report to Mr. Ive, who is Apple’s senior
vice president of design, according to the email. The team
previously reported to Craig Federighi, Apple’s software chief.
“Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20
years at Apple,” said a company spokesman. “He has made vital
contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a
world-class human interface team which has worked closely with
[Jonathan] for many years.”
I’ve been asking around since the news broke this afternoon. What I’ve heard, from several sources: Christie and Ive may not see eye to eye on UI design style, but his departure isn’t nearly as contentious as Mark Gurman’s report at 9to5Mac implies. The basic gist I’ve heard is that Christie is a guy who’s been in a high-pressure, high-profile job for 18 years, most of it reporting to Steve Jobs. He’s made a lot of money and is ready to enjoy it. That’s largely in line with the Apple PR line given to the WSJ, but I heard all of this from ground-level Cupertino-area pixel-pushing designers.
Interestingly, Christie’s retirement was announced internally a few weeks ago — yet it didn’t leak outside the company until today. Also interesting (and backing up the company line that his departure is not contentious): he’s staying at the company until later this year — and from what I’ve heard, it’s more like “end of the year”. If it’s ugly, why hang around?
There’s no way to spin the fact that Ive is taking more authority (or perhaps better said, consolidating all aspects of “design” under his direct authority), and surely that played some part in Christie’s decision. But from what I’ve gathered, it is wrong to think that Ive in any way forced Christie out.
Following friction between top Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie and Senior Vice President Jony Ive, Apple’s hardware and software design is being dramatically shaken up, according to sources familiar with the matter. After adding human interface design direction to his responsibilities in 2012, Ive will soon completely subsume Apple’s software design group, wresting control away from long-time human interface design chief Christie, according to sources briefed on the matter.
Huge deal. Christie’s influence over the look and feel of OS X and (at least pre-7) iOS cannot be overstated. Say goodbye to Lucida Grande in OS X.
Special guest Ed Bott joins me for a special episode of my podcast, recorded in front of a live audience at Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco last week. Topics include the news from the conference — including Windows Phone 8.1 — and a broader look at the new Microsoft and its position in the industry.
As for how powerful these apps are, consider this. I loaded up
my 575 page Windows 8.1 Field Guide Word document, and while
it took a while to download originally (it’s stored in
OneDrive for Business as part of my Office 365 Small Business
Premium subscription), the performance reading and editing the
document was impressive. In fact, it was… amazing. This is
the real deal.
As important, the fidelity of the document was perfect: Everything
was formatted correctly, including images. I could actually write
a book on this thing if I wanted to. (Relax, I don’t.) Microsoft
claims that documents look as good on the iPad as they do on the
PC. And I gotta say. They really do.
I re-read Maurice Annenberg’s “Type Foundries of America and their
Catalogs”, tracked down business directories of the period, and
spent too much time in Google Earth. But I was able to plot out
the locations for every foundry that had been active in New York
between 1828 (the earliest records I could find with addresses) to
1909 (see below). All of the buildings have been demolished, and
in some cases the entire street has since been erased. But a
startling picture still emerged: New York once had a neighborhood
(I couldn’t help but take note of Frere-Jones’s own type choices for his site: Benton Modern and Interstate from The Font Bureau — both of which he designed prior to the Hoefler deal.)
Amazon doesn’t innovate by crafting new product categories, like
Apple does. It also doesn’t make much money selling its hardware.
Instead, it takes all the data it gathers as the world’s biggest
online retailer, breaks down exactly what’s available and what
consumers want, then produces a piece of hardware that it can sell
cheaply in order to bring consumers into its ecosystem. Just as
Netflix created House of Cards to satisfy the particular tastes of
its viewers, Amazon made the Fire TV because millions of buyers
are already looking for it. To understand the Fire TV is to take
one glance at Amazon’s best-selling electronics list: two Roku
models, Google’s Chromecast, and the Apple TV are the only
non-Amazon devices in the top 10. The world’s largest online
retailer just took on all three.
Fascinating email from Jobs to Phil Schiller, entered as evidence in the latest round of the Apple/Samsung patent trial. Makes me wonder, again, whether this legal fight is worth it for Apple. Far more of Apple’s internal dynamics have been revealed through this lawsuit than through unauthorized leaks in the past few years.
It does go to show, though, that Steve Jobs was keenly aware of Apple’s competitive shortcomings. They never show it in public, which leads some to perceive the company as more arrogant than it actually is, and perhaps even out of touch.
It’s also a good deal for Tonx, which was attempting to raise
more money to purchase its own coffee roaster (it currently has a
contract deal where it rents one on the weekends) and open a store
front. While neither announced a price, Tonx did abandon a $4
million fundraising round it had been pursuing recently.
Presumably, the deal would be on par with that. It’s a big win
for the three year-old roaster that’s based in Los Angeles, but
lives all over the Internet.
“Tony and I were still bagging and boxing the coffee ourselves
last year, spending all day just listening to podcasts” recalled
Bauman. “Tony would go in and sometimes would take eight hours
or so of just stamping bags. We’d go and just stamp and listen
to [John Gruber’s] The Talk Show or This American Life.”
That’s good company. Congratulations to my favorite coffee roaster.
We launched Emu for iPhone on April 2, and we’ve pulled Emu for
Android out of the Play Store. We hope we’ll return to Android
someday, but our team is too small to innovate and iterate on
multiple platforms simultaneously. We’ve concluded iPhone is a
better place to be:
Our decision to build on top of SMS/MMS involved huge,
unanticipated technical hurdles.
Even when you don’t support older Android versions,
fragmentation is a huge drain on resources.
Google’s tools and documentation are less advanced, and less
stable, than Apple’s.
Android’s larger install base doesn’t translate into a
larger addressable market.
Interesting on two levels. First, the content of the story — these maps and statistics show why simplistic market share comparisons do not even vaguely tell the story of the competitive dynamics between iOS and Android.
Second, it’s an interesting contrast in headline writing. I’m linking to a reprint of the story on Slate. Slate’s headline: “Here’s Why Developers Keep Favoring Apple Over Android”. The original, published on Business Insider: “These Maps Show That Android Is For People With Less Money”. When you look at the web page titles (what you see in your browser tab), the contrast is even more stark: “Apple vs. Android: Developers See a Socioeconomic Divide” vs. “Android Is for Poor People: Maps”.
Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: “As a way
of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups,
individuals subconsciously resist factual information that
threatens their defining values.” Elsewhere, he puts it even more
pithily: “What we believe about the facts,” he writes, “tells us
who we are.” And the most important psychological imperative most
of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are,
and our relationships with the people we trust and love.
Kahan’s research tells us we can’t trust our own reason. How
do we reason our way out of that?
This is one reason why I went to Build last week — I don’t want to fall into this trap. I want to find the best in design and technology, no matter the platform.
My thanks to Crashlytics for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They provide tools for iOS and Android that allow developers to spend less time finding bugs and more time fixing them. Crashlytics provides deep, actionable insights, right down to the line of code your app crashed on.
The Crashlytics platform is designed for scale and enterprise-level security. They’re trusted by apps like Square, Amazon, Yelp, and Path, and they offer unlimited developer seats at no cost. Really — it’s free. It’s a great deal and a great service.
Although there was variability across the board, biological men
were significantly more likely to prioritize motion parallax.
Biological women relied more heavily on shape-from-shading. In
other words, men are more likely to use the cues that 3D virtual
reality systems relied on.
This, if broadly true, would explain why I, being a woman, vomited
in the CAVE: My brain simply wasn’t picking up on signals the
system was trying to send me about where objects were, and this
made me disoriented.
Cortana is named after a virtual character in Halo,
Microsoft’s science-fiction video game series, that uses her
encyclopedic knowledge about the universe to help the game’s
protagonist, Master Chief. The actress, Jen Taylor, who does the
voice for the character, also provided recordings for the phone
Two things jumped out at me regarding this story. First, that Microsoft gladly credited the actress supplying Cortana’s voice. Second, that Google and Android went unmentioned in the article.
Massive upgrade to Windows Phone; seems like more new features going from 8 to 8.1 than there were going from 7 to 8. Hoping to get my hands on a device running this.
And: Microsoft is making Windows free for phones and tablets with screens under 9 inches. (Insert joke here about 10-inch phones.)
About the Linked List
The Daring Fireball Linked List is a daily list of interesting links
and brief commentary, updated frequently but not frenetically. Call it
a “link log”, or “linkblog”, or just “a good way to dick around on the
Internet for a few minutes a day”.