By John Gruber
Build web apps, iOS apps, and workflows with Retool.
Fortune Small Business “tech guru” Jonathan Blum concludes Macs aren’t a good choice for “most” small businesses. Regarding the iMac he tested:
But why should locating the “on” switch be such a struggle? Just stick the thing where I, and my employees, can find it: right up front.
Sounds like his employees are a bright bunch.
No matter what you do with a Mac, you have to face Apple’s peculiar vision of all things computerish. First off, the packaging is seriously overdone: The slogan “Designed by Apple in California” posivitively shouts at you from the box. Like I care.
“Positively shouting” indeed, what with it being set in small gray type on a white background.
The one test that stood out more than anything else, though, was battery life. The batteries themselves didn’t change, nor did the Leopard operating system. Apple didn’t invent some great new power-management utility. The improved battery life is a direct result of the Penryn CPU’s deeper sleep states and its more energy-efficient processor core. The new MacBook Pro produced 3 hours 56 minutes on MobileMark 2007 tests, which is a significant jump from the 3 hours 10 minutes of the previous-generation MacBook Pro. That’s about a 15 percent improvement, which should be music to the ears of road warriors.
Speaking of vintage ’80s magazines.
Modern Mechanix has both the full transcript and scanned pages of Byte’s 1983 interview with Wayne Rosing, Bruce Daniels, and Larry Tesler regarding the then-new Apple Lisa. (Thanks to Ravi Khalsa.)
Kevin Poulsen scored an interview with the guys who hijacked Comcast’s domain names:
The hackers say the attack began Tuesday, when the pair used a combination of social engineering and a technical hack to get into Comcast’s domain management console at Network Solutions. They declined to detail their technique, but said it relied on a flaw at the Virginia-based domain registrar.
Network Solutions spokeswoman Susan Wade disputes the hackers’ account. “We now know that it was nothing on our end,” she says. “There was no breach in our system or social engineering situation on our end.”
However they got in, the intrusion gave the pair control of over 200 domain names owned by Comcast. They changed the contact information for one of them, Comcast.net, to Defiant’s e-mail address; for the street address, they used the “Dildo Room” at “69 Dick Tard Lane.”
My thanks to Noodlesoft for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Hazel is their “personal housekeeping” utility — think of it as sort of a cross between cron and folder actions, with a very slick UI for editing the rules used for moving/sorting/labeling/trashing files and folders. Hazel does for the Finder what Mail’s rules do for email messages. Check out the video tour for screencasts showing Hazel in action.
Hazel costs $22, but through the end of the week, DF readers can save 15 percent with coupon code “DF2008”.
This is going to take some getting used to.
Dmitry Chestnykh finds “Mobile Me” in a few resources in the latest iPhone 2.0 beta SDK.
Someone needs to let these people know about the upcoming new iPhone.
Open source bug-tracker written in Rails. It’s the one Panic is going with after yesterday’s “Which web-based bug trackers should we consider?” question from Steven Frank.
But how bold?
Three-player networked Pong for the iPod Touch, purportedly written in “about an hour”. (Via Andy Baio.)
Steven Poole dissects the revisions Microsoft made to their “Five Misunderstood Features in Vista” paper. As a company, their copywriting is roughly on par with their user interface design.
“Anti-piracy” company MediaDefender flooded Revision3’s BitTorrent tracker with over 8,000 SYN packets per second.
Check out the oddball windows in the new Fireworks beta from Adobe. Custom close/minimize/zoom buttons and toolbar buttons where the title text should go. Not visible in the screenshot is the way window resizing works: you drag from window edges, just like in Windows.
Mac users are complaining in Adobe’s forum, and Windows users are too. Adobe seems to be moving in a direction with most of their apps where they’re following neither Mac nor Windows conventions, but rather making up their own Adobe UI conventions, which conventions few of their users seem to like.
Update: Looks like this new Adobe-style window title bar might be coming to Photoshop, too. Check out this video where John Nack demos an in-development version of Photoshop, starting around the 18:00 mark.
On the occasion of the publication of the third edition of Hillegass’s Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X, which is generally regarded as the best getting-started-with-Cocoa book on the market. Hillegass:
It is difficult to explain how the NIB file (and a few other scary ideas) create leverage. It is that leverage that enables one guy in his basement to compete with a team of engineers at Microsoft or Adobe. It is like I showed a chain saw to a early American colonist, and he said, “Can I cut down the tree without starting the engine? I don’t like the noise. Maybe I can just bang it against the tree?”
Nice update to one of my very favorite utilities.
John August, asked by a working screenwriter how he can keep improving throughout his career:
My advice for you is to dedicate one day a week to disassembling good movies. Take existing films (and one-hour dramas) and break them down to cards. Think of yourself as an ordinary mechanic given the task of reverse-engineering a spaceship. Figure out what the pieces do, and why they were put together in that way.
I think this true for any craft.
Steven Musil on Blockbuster’s new idea:
Applying that Hollywood approach, the latest idea from Blockbuster can best be described as “Netflix meets YouTube, without the convenience.” That’s basically the pitch Blockbuster Chairman and CEO James Keyes made at his first annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday when he unveiled an in-store kiosk he hopes consumers will use to download movies.
At least you don’t have to drive back to return them three days later. (Via Rands.)
The guys at Panic are looking for a new bug tracking system:
Simplicity and speed, first and foremost. Our bug records are extremely simple. Bugs have an ID number, a one-line summary, a description, a creation/modification/close date, a status (open or closed), a severity (only 4 levels), an owner, the version filed against, the version targeted for resolution, and that’s pretty much it.
A lot of trackers go way, waaay too overboard with the fields. We need to work on bugs, not placate a needy database.
Thomas Ricker at Engadget:
Yup, you read that right. We’re not talking about just any WebKit-based browser, Samsung’s long-rumored L870 slider features Apple’s WebKit-based, Mobile Safari browser. A first outside of the iPhone.
Sure, I’ll bet they just copied the binary over and it runs no problem, even though it’s a different OS (Symbian), doesn’t have the Cocoa Touch runtime, and the phone doesn’t have a touch screen.
In a forum post, the author of the weblog editor Ecto writes:
The official announcement will be made soon (once we’ve moved and set up the infrastructure), but yes, I’ve sold ecto to illumineX for a variety of reasons I will explain in a blog post accompanying the official announcement. It’s a move that’s definitely for the best. I’m also still involved with ecto on a consultation basis.
Illuminex is the company that bought Freshly Squeezed Software from Brad Miller and Erik Barzeski and then did nothing with it, including even letting the domain name lapse.
Update: More from Barzeski, including a gracious comment from MarsEdit developer Daniel Jalkut. Update 2: Illuminex CEO Gary Longsine comments on the acquisition at Will Benton’s weblog.
I can’t resist linking to any article with both monkeys and robots in the headline.
Looking good. The home screen is far more like a Mac/Windows-style “desktop”. I love the gesture-based screen unlock feature — both cooler and more convenient than the iPhone’s number combination lock. Some interesting browser zooming features, too.
Turn it on in Address Book’s preferences window. Update: Here’s the curious thing: the feature is only available for iPhone and iPod Touch users. I don’t understand why either Apple or Google would want this limitation.
Insightful essay by Jamie Stuart on the differences watching 2001 on different formats (e.g. 70mm and 35mm film prints, laserdisc, DVD):
Of course, this all changed when I watched the DVD for the first time, because as soon as the picture faded out on the Star Child, on came The Blue Danube to accompany the end credits. This completely changed my perception; all of a sudden, this mythic work of art became Earthborn. That transition is probably my favorite moment of 2001 now: it’s Kubrick deflating the hot air balloon.
(Via, who else?, Jim Coudal.)
Jason Snell on the analysts who think Apple is not on pace to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008. Spot on.
“Upload a scanned image of the font and instantly find the closest matches in our database.” I’ve been using this site for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever linked to it. Works surprisingly well.
Slightly overdue; still haven’t heard anything about why it took so long for this to come out.
Update: At 420 MB for the standard update and 536 MB for the Combo update, I think this might be the largest single update ever. Word on the street is that the reason for the delay is related to the fact that today’s new beta 6 release of the iPhone SDK depends on 10.5.3.
Book of the week:
President Bush “convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,” and has engaged in “self-deception” to justify his political ends, Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, writes in a critical new memoir about his years in the West Wing.
In addition, Mr. McClellan writes, the decision to invade Iraq was a “serious strategic blunder,” and yet, in his view, it was not the biggest mistake the Bush White House made. That, he says, was “a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.”
Update: Save money and time, and read Matthew Baldwin’s detailed summary of the book.
From John Markoff’s roundup of current iPhone rumors:
It sold just 1.7 million phones in the first three months of this year, meaning it must sell more than 8 million phones to reach Mr. Jobs’s publicly stated goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008.
“They’re going to have a difficult time” hitting that number, said Edward Snyder, an analyst at Charter Equity Research. He said that Nokia, the world’s largest maker of cellphones, sells more phones every week than Apple has sold since the iPhone’s introduction.
I’ll bet McDonald’s sells more hamburgers per week than Nokia does phones, though.
Just four short years after the smash hit 1.0 release, Delicious Library 2.0 ships.
Pragmatic keeps up their tradition of great content from smart developers, presented with atrocious typography.
Jon Whipple’s comprehensive 14,000+ word comparison of four Adobe Illustrator competitors for Mac OS X: Intaglio, Lineform, VectorDesigner, and ZeusDraw. Very thoughtful analysis.
Danny Hillis on working with Richard Feynman at Thinking Machines. (Via Simon Willison.)
High-quality prints from Duncan Davidson. My favorite so far is this one. More from Duncan on his blog.
A longstanding bug in Flip4Mac’s Mac OS X plugin for Firefox and Camino causes window contents to get scrambled. Camino developers reported the bug to Telestream
six months over two years ago, but it still isn’t fixed, so they’ve released a patch to fix it themselves.
Always with the Kubrick references in these sites in the Deck network. Always.
Another to-the-point-and-no-more PR:
TeliaSonera today announced it has signed an agreement with Apple to bring the iPhone to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia later this year.
Here’s an interview (Google translation) in which nothing at all is revealed.
A fine director and actor.
Radio signals received at 4:53:44 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53:44 p.m. Eastern Time) confirmed the Phoenix Mars Lander had survived its difficult final descent and touchdown 15 minutes earlier. The signals took that long to travel from Mars to Earth at the speed of light.
Philadelphia Inquirer story on the misconception that for a “true” Philly cheesesteak, you’ve got to order one with Cheez Whiz:
At John’s Roast Pork, which serves up taste-test winners on Snyder Avenue, the processed cheese sauce isn’t even served.
“I’m a cheese eater, sweetheart, and I love cheese, but Whiz is not cheese,” says owner Vonda Bucci, 75. “It’s a lot of grease and coloring.”
Provolone, or as we call it, “provie”, all the way. (Via Atrios.)
New command-line tool from Dave Dribin:
osx-trashmanipulates the Mac OS X trash from the command line, just like the Finder does. It uses AppleScript via Scripting Bridge on top of RubyCocoa to communicate with the Finder. You can move files to the trash, empty the trash, and list items currently in the trash.
Chris Liscio on the development of TapeDeck.
Rik Myslewski looks back at Apple’s decade-ago Mac OS licensing program:
In April 1995, while lunching with reporters at San Francisco’s trendy LuLu restaurant, Power Computing CEO Steve Kahng was asked how his company, which had just released its first batch of Mac clones, planned to compete with Apple Computer. “We’re going to squeeze a nickel out of every dime,” he said, smiling.
Two and a half years — and three Apple CEOs — later, Steve Jobs took back that dime. In between were the clone wars, which ravaged both Apple’s reputation and its bottom line.
Long list of additions, changes, and fixes to Nisus’s $79 word processor.
Will Wright on the science behind the upcoming Spore, along with a bunch of footage of the game itself. (Thanks to Faruk Ates.)
If ever there was a music video you should watch on YouTube, this is it. My wife thinks I’m some sort of idiot for not recognizing a bunch of these Internet memes.
Thoughtful summary by Amar Sagoo of the keyboard design recommendations from The Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction:
The work successfully produced empirical evidence that led to very concrete and specific recommendations for the design of keyboards. Even so, today’s keyboard makers seem either oblivious or ignorant of all this latent wisdom. Given that we’re talking about a device that millions of people have to physically interact with on a daily basis — in many cases for several solid hours — it is sad that we’ve kept repeating the same mistakes that we’ve had the potential to avoid for more than twenty years.
Like a Moleskine, but with a softer but still hard cover, and overall higher quality. Sure wish I could get my hands on one of these. (Via Notebookism.)
My thanks to MacMiniColo.net for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. As you might surmise from their name, they’re a hosting service dedicated to colocation of Mac Minis. Your Mac Mini, running whatever software you want, hosted at their data center, with prices starting at just $35 per month.
Comprehensive gallery of Apple advertising and promotional material. They’ve come a long way since, say, this.
New site from Damon Clinkscales, lets you check whether someone on Twitter is following someone else.
From the A.V. Club’s interview with Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh:
I remember going to visit [Warner Bros. head] Mo Ostin about six to nine months after audio cassettes became a big deal. Before that, people were just buying vinyl, but then, audio cassettes were becoming the most sought-after item. People were not buying records anymore; they were buying these little audio cassettes. [The record label was] paying [us] less money for an audio cassette, but there were articles in all the papers about how much cheaper it was to make an audio cassette than it was to press vinyl. So I went in and had a meeting with Mo Ostin, who was the president of Warner Bros. Records, and said, “You know, Mo, I need to ask you something really important. Why is it that in our deal, you have it so you’re paying us substantially less money for every audio cassette that you sell than for every piece of vinyl, yet you make a bigger profit off every audio cassette?” He just smiled and looked at me like I was his dense, naive son. And he goes, “Because that’s the way it is.” That was his answer.
(Thanks to Henry Lincoln, who sent this in regarding this week’s bit about the record labels wanting to charge more for songs downloaded over 3G wireless networks than for songs downloaded over Wi-Fi.)
Nice post from Twitter engineer Alex Payne:
Twitter is, fundamentally, a messaging system. Twitter was not architected as a messaging system, however. For expediency’s sake, Twitter was built with technologies and practices that are more appropriate to a content management system. Over the last year and a half we’ve tried to make our system behave like a messaging system as much as possible, but that’s introduced a great deal of complexity and unpredictability.
If you’ve never watched Yahtzee Croshaw’s excellent Zero Punctuation video game review show before, this is a good time to start. Hilarious.
John Resig has a solution. A couple others in my inbox, too.
Wow, little Dorito logos showing up on your screen. Maybe I do want a Zune.
I say Ballmer’s gone within a year.
Jim Coudal has more on that incredible Zeiss lens Kubrick used for Lyndon.
Classy, real classy. Looks like as much fun as shopping for a used car.
Twitter’s reliability problems are so bad that people are starting to speculate that they’re deliberate publicity stunts.
Italian-language story, replete with stills from Barry Lyndon showing the lens in use. (Thanks to Alex Merz.)
Not a link to his review, but rather his journal entry on the metacritical backlash against Kingdom of the Crystal Skull based on one anonymous bad review posted to Ain’t It Cool News earlier this month:
Now Indy’s early reviews are in, and I’m amazed to find myself in an enthusiastic majority. The Tomatometer stands at 78, and the more populist IMDb user rating is 9.2 out of 10. All this before the movie’s official opening on Thursday.
Sounds like a challenge to me.
(And here’s a Python version by Jordan Sherer.)
$100 Apple TV competitor from Netflix:
Setup is simple, and—if you’ve got a solid broadband connection—picture quality is acceptable and streaming performance was almost entirely lag-free.
Those looking for the HD video quality and polished interface of Apple TV and Vudu will be disappointed. The Netflix Player is strictly barebones—you’re not intended to do anything more than just dive in and watch the movies and TV shows you’ve already queued up via your online Netflix account.
The explanation, delivered scathingly by Pierre Igot, is surprisingly long. Hilarious, for me at least, in that I haven’t used Word in years.
My guess, given their track record to date: no.
John Sullivan, The New York Times:
Tests performed over the weekend at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston indicated that Mr. Kennedy, 76, has a type of cancer known as a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe, the upper left portion of his brain.
Damn it all.
The Macalope reads the jackasses so you don’t have to.
USA Today story on “minimum 50” grading policies, whereby any test score lower than 50 is rounded up to 50:
Their argument: Other letter grades — A, B, C and D — are broken down in increments of 10 from 60 to 100, but there is a 59-point spread between D and F, a gap that can often make it mathematically impossible for some failing students to ever catch up.
“It’s a classic mathematical dilemma: that the students have a six times greater chance of getting an F,” says Douglas Reeves, founder of The Leadership and Learning Center, a Colorado-based educational think tank who has written on the topic. “The statistical tweak of saying the F is now 50 instead of zero is a tiny part of how we can have better grading practices to encourage student performance.”
This is so profoundly stupid it’s hard to believe it isn’t from The Onion. That F covers 0-59 doesn’t make it six times more likely that a student will get an F than any other grade, unless test scores are based on random numbers rather than actual performance.
Update: Clearly, when you’re talking about what to do with grades lower than 50, you’re dealing with students who need help. Maybe this “minimum 50” policy is a good way to do that; I don’t know. What I’m saying is stupid is this Reeves fellow’s argument about it being a “classic mathematical dilemma”.
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, regarding the glossy-black-front-with-silver-bevel-edge BlackBerry Bold:
This is three years in the making. So I’m sorry but this wasn’t a response to another device. Either that or we have a time machine somewhere, or some kind of magic crystal ball or something. This was actually designed three years ago and the actual physical design of this product — I have the original models from 2006.
Perhaps Apple copied the iPhone design from them.
Saul Hansell, in a report for the NYT Bits Blog on current negotiations between Apple and the major music labels:
Also under discussion is whether Apple can sell songs from its iTunes store directly to iPhones over the cell-phone broadband network. With the next generation of phone expected to use much faster 3G technology, this is technically feasible. Here too, music labels argue that they should be paid more for an over-the-air download than a standard track bought over the internet, where the wholesale price is about 70 cents.
So let’s get this straight. The music labels think we should pay more for a song downloaded from a server that isn’t theirs, over a network that isn’t theirs, because, well, just because. One gets the feeling that, if given the chance, music executives would just hire thugs to mug anyone on the street wearing white earbuds.
Splendid new best-of-Twitter tracker by Dean Allen. Bookmark and prepare to be amused. Love the About page:
FAVRD runs on a no-webcock algorithm. If you see Twitter as a venue for public relations or marketing, or as an audience eager to hear news of a post on your ‘blog’, or a rich hot sticky vertical, or if you consider yourself a web strategist, or if you talk earnestly about social media, or if you can read Techcrunch or listen to the Gillmor gang with a straight face, it’s very unlikely the things you say on Twitter will show up here.
Maybe the best explanation of Twitter’s appeal yet.
Detailed review by Robert Mohns.
Sounds useful for heavy battery users.
Complaints about Apple’s exorbitant markup on factory-installed RAM — from 1984.
Release notes for the first release candidate of Firefox 3.0.
Which sites aren’t for sale?
France Telecom’s Orange said in a one-sentence statement that it will sell the handset in Austria, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Jordan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and African markets later this year.
France Telecom spokesman Bertrand Deronchaine said Orange will be the exclusive iPhone provider in Belgium and Romania, with co-exclusive or non-exclusive deals in other countries. He declined to offer more details about the arrangement.
I get the feeling these one-sentence press releases are part of the deal these carriers are making with Apple. Mum’s the word until WWDC.
Saudi Arabia Friday rebuffed President Bush’s request to immediately pump more oil to lower record prices, saying it does not see enough demand to increase production.
Gov. George W. Bush of Texas said today that if he was president, he would bring down gasoline prices through sheer force of personality, by creating enough political good will with oil-producing nations that they would increase their supply of crude.
“I would work with our friends in OPEC to convince them to open up the spigot, to increase the supply,” Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, told reporters here today. “Use the capital that my administration will earn, with the Kuwaitis or the Saudis, and convince them to open up the spigot.”
International design award so prestigious that it isn’t even awarded some years; Apple’s won six since 1999.
Thoughtful interview, but Bowler should have asked Dan what he really thinks about WordPress.
The problem with Icahn’s argument is that Yahoo’s stock price remains significantly above where it was prior to Microsoft’s offer. Yes, it’s still below what Microsoft offered, but not by much.
Nifty convenience wrapper for developing with Google App Engine on Mac OS X, from Googlers John Grabowski, John Skidgel, and Brett Slatkin.
My thanks to An Event Apart for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. I’ve been to two An Event Apart conferences, and they were both just terrific — informative and inspiring. If you care about standards-based web development, this is the conference. Upcoming events include Boston on June 23-24, San Francisco on August 18-19, and Chicago on October 13-14. Daring Fireball readers save $100 off registration using discount code “AEADARE”. Register during an early bird period and save a total of $200.
The New York Times interviews Matt Walsh, lead videographer from 1999-2002 for the New England Patriots’ systematic videotape cheating system:
In the week after the game, Walsh said he asked a quarterback — again, he declined to name whom — how helpful the signals were. Walsh said the quarterback told him “probably about 75 percent of the time, Tampa Bay ran the defense we thought they were going to run — if not more.”
Ten bucks says the quarterback in question is Tom Brady.
Colin Devroe has assembled all of Gary “Wine Library TV” Vaynerchuk’s TV appearances in one spot, including his appearance on Jim Cramer’s show this week. Vaynerchuk and Cramer are perfect together.
Cable companies lying and cheating their customers? That’s unpossible!
Philip Elmer-DeWitt deconstructs yesterday’s rampant rumor of a supposed “Newton iPhone Tablet” based on a comment by a German Intel executive. (Why would anyone think something new from Apple, whatever the form factor, would have anything to do with the dead-for-a-decade Newton?)
A 45 percent premium over their closing stock price yesterday; doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.
Great story in The Guardian on how Apple is changing the way the music industry thinks about DRM. In short, the labels thought DRM would give them control, and somehow sell more music. The reality is they’ve given Apple control, and, duh, people prefer buying DRM-free music. Plus, everyone other than Apple needs to go DRM-free if they want their files to play on iPods.
I think Microsoft has helped doom DRM for music, too — by screwing it up so badly, so many times.
The flip side, though, is that DRM rules the day for paid video content.
Sure makes that purported NBC-friendly Zune sound appealing, no?
And I thought last year was crowded.
An open reference library and encyclopedia by and for web developers. Crackerjack idea.
Update: Here’s Mark Pilgrim’s introduction on the Google Code Blog.
Sounds great, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Updates from NASA’s probe, currently en route to Mars.
Spot-on advice from Macworld’s Jonathan Seff and Jason Snell on how to choose which Mac to buy.
So the city-wide network they contracted to build never worked well and now they’re bailing. And they’re suing to rip out and take back the infrastructure. Heck of a job, EarthLink.
Henry Blodget projects that Google’s search revenue will surpass Microsoft’s Windows revenue next year.
When we came to the realization in 2006 that there was no way for us to keep VB in the product and still ship Office 2008 on any semblance of the schedule we wanted, we announced its removal, but kept looking at how to bring it back into the suite even before we shipped. Many of the technical challenges I wrote about then still remain, but for a while now I and several others have been working with a group of people who know a heck of a lot about the internals of VB, and once we determined that we could achieve the revival VB in the new schedule for the next version of Mac Office, we locked it into place on the feature list.
Nice guide to advanced Spotlight query syntax by Kirk McElhearn.
Lawrence Ulrich, from New York City:
If the engine is mediocre, the five-speed automated manual transmission is an engineering embarrassment. You could practically squeeze a half-inning of baseball into the maddening delay between the release of one gear and the engagement of the next. The Smart loses momentum in the pause, lurching passengers forward, and then Barcalounges backward when it oozes into a higher gear.
And for another opinion, Eric A. Taub from L.A.:
When accelerating, the dreadful 5-speed automated manual transmission shifts awkwardly and slowly. It may be enough to make you reach for the Dramamine: the engine temporarily slows as the car is about to upshift, jerking the driver forward and then back with each shift. Several times, my wife threatened to walk home.
Even if it weren’t based on Silverlight, I still don’t get why anyone would use this rather than the web site. But it is based on Silverlight, so it’s even worse (e.g. no support for copy-and-paste).
Really does seem like a big improvement over the previous mobile version, which wasn’t optimized specifically for MobileSafari.
Record sales for the new version of Mac Office — this despite Apple’s own iWork suite. The MacBU also announced that VBA scripting will return in the next major update.
Episodes of The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Rome cost $2.99.
The Bold is the new iPhone-inspired model, but while it’s been named and the price is set ($300-400), there’s no release day yet. Some time this summer, apparently.
Huge win for both companies.
The WSJ reports on a non-traditional trademark Apple has received on the three-dimensional shape of the iPod.
Insightful analysis from Charlie Wood regarding the aforelinked “Good Enough” piece.
Jonathan Ive consulted with Andrew Stanton on the design of Eve, the gleaming white robot in Wall-E.
Confirmation that there will be multiple carriers in Australia.
Charles Jade, suggesting that Apple abandon hard-to-negotiate revenue sharing agreements with phone carriers around the world:
Every day that goes by is a chance for someone, even Microsoft, to pull its collective corporate head out of the nether regions and create a “good enough” iPhone competitor that costs half as much.
Just like how every day is another chance for someone, even Microsoft, to create a “good enough” iPod competitor for half the price? No one’s going to beat Apple by being “good enough”. The only way to beat the iPhone is by creating something better. Someone may well soon deliver such a worthy rival, but, if so, it sure isn’t going to be at half the price.
Speaking of just-released version 1.2’s of indie Mac image editors.
Feature and performance upgrade to Flying Meat’s excellent $50 image editor.
Fake Steve Jobs on what’s wrong with Dell:
Bottom line is this: the only innovations worth making are the ones involving product ideas and product design. I mean, Duh. Right? It’s pretty obvious. What’s amazing to me is how few companies actually seem to realize it. To sustain an edge in any market you must make better products than your competitors, consistently, over and over and over again. Just making the same products as everyone else but taking a little friction out of the system can give you an advantage, but only a temporary one.
Great idea: arbitrary artificial constraints never piss anyone off.
Nice guide by Matt Neuburg regarding the aforelinked
tms command-line Time Machine tool.
Command-line tool by Robert Pointon, “allows basic cvs style operations on Time Machine volumes.”
Who’s hungry for some WWDC lunch?
Fun little Google App Engine project: store arbitrary variable data in a short URL, get the data back in XML or JSON. (Via Andy Baio.)
“It’s the first time I’ve seen rats swimming toward a sinking ship.”
The stylish Safari search hack is now owned by Yahoo. Watanabe isn’t joining Yahoo as an employee, though.
My thanks to DEVONtechnologies for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They have a lineup of products designed to help you organize, store, and retrieve documents and information, including DEVONthink, DEVONagent, and DEVONnote. Their handy feature comparison page shows the features of each app at a glance.
Buy through this offer for DF readers and save 25 percent.
Pretty good list, I say.
James Bond fan site MI6 interview with Michael Gillette, the illustrator behind the aforelinked new covers for Ian Fleming’s Bond novels. (Thanks to James Gowan.)
2 millions Zunes sold to date since they went on sale in November 2006. But it looks like they’re taking sales from Creative, not Apple or second-place SanDisk.
New $25 audio recording app, a joint production of SuperMegaUltraGroovy and Toastycode. The gimmick is that it’s modeled after an ’80s era cassette deck. It uses a library for recording management — no interaction with the file system necessary — but you can easily send clips to iTunes or email. Worth a download just to watch the tape spin while you record.
Lots more red added this week.
Coming soon from Penguin: Exquisite new editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. Perfect.
Nice feature update to Rainer Brockerhoff’s €7 pop-up menu utility for the Leopard Dock.
Adam Lisagor, on how You Look Nice Today got started:
The three of us had talked very briefly and noncommittally about doing some sort of project together. A couple months later, by chance, Bobby Andersen, kid-genius of Pixel Implosion suggested on his Twitter that the three of us do a podcast. In this town, when Bobby says do a podcast, you do a fucking podcast.
Doubt anyone at Apple is losing sleep over this. I especially love the way you’ve got to rub your thumb like a crazed junkie to move the mouse pointer half an inch in the web browser.
Jake Seliger on the Unicomp Customizer keyboard, a modern version of the “buckling spring” keyboards IBM used to make:
Today, buckling spring keyboards are never or almost never shipped with computers. Fortunately, Unicomp has accomplished what Matias couldn’t and produced an excellent modern version in the Customizer. Keystrokes are crisp and precise. The “shadow key” problem that bedeviled the Tactile Pro is absent, and the Customizer itself is solid, recalling a slab of stone, unlike the fragile, mushy keyboards most PCs ship with.
The only downside is that the meta keys are for Windows, not Mac. You can remap them using the Keyboard & Mouse panel in System Prefs, but you’re stuck with that ugly Windows key. Unicomp might do well to sell a Mac-specific version, or to at least offer Mac-specific keycaps you could pop on yourself.
Panic’s Cabel Sasser, responding to a Coda user who’s worried that it’s been five whole months since the last update:
A company like Adobe, which has hundreds of engineers working on Photoshop, releases ONE version every two or three years, and maybe a single bug fix release in the interim. For the most part, we’re all cool with that, myself included! :)
But a shareware company that has, say, one or two people working on a product, is somehow expected to do releases every few months — even free major ones — or people start getting itchy.
Commercial-free, but crummy quality. (Via MacDailyNews.)
Reg Braithwaite on why the music industry has a problem with the iTunes Store’s dominant position:
They want consumers using devices in proprietary silos like old-fashioned cell phones, where you pay for the track, you pay for the bits transferred over the air, and then you pay all over again when you want to use a few seconds of the track as a ring tone.
As soon as they can break this pesky iPod-iTMS-iPhone nonsense, the labels want to get back to dictating what you pay and how often you pay. The labels want to do business with people like Microsoft. Microsoft gets it: all the people who bought music using MSN music? They can buy it all over again at the Zune store.
So why are NBC TV shows now available for the Zune but not for iTunes? Saul Hansell reports:
First, Apple insists that all TV shows have an identical wholesale price so that it can sell all of them at $1.99. NBC wants to sell its programs for whatever price it chooses.
Second, Apple refused to cooperate with NBC on building filters into its iPod player to remove pirated movies and videos.
Microsoft, by contrast, will accept NBC’s pricing scheme and will work with it to try to develop a copyright “cop” to be installed on its devices.
That sounds like a surefire winner to help the Zune catch up to the iPhone. I can see this both ways, though — perhaps Microsoft has no intention of actually doing this, and they simply conned NBC into an agreement with a fingers-crossed promise to “get right on it”.
Mark Wilson reports at Gizmodo:
Starting May 9th, Sprint will begin a massive, $100 million marketing campaign aimed straight at the iPhone’s nether regions. Stacking its [Samsung] Instinct against the iPhone, Sprint hopes to show that EVDO and GPS make their product way better than anything coming out of Cupertino.
They’ve got video of the first two spots. Watch them.
As Wilson writes, it boggles the mind that Sprint is hanging a $100 million dollar advertising campaign on two features — GPS and EVDO networking — that the iPhone is widely-rumored to be picking up in its next-generation hardware. Worse, side-by-side, even in commercials commissioned by Sprint, the Instinct looks like crap next to an iPhone — the screen is way smaller and way less bright.
What’s clear is that Sprint is run by MBA-trained executives who see everything as a general “business” problem. In their minds, the same things apply to selling phones as toothpaste. How about this idea: Take $100 million and use it to design a better phone?
Mark Pilgrim on Mozilla’s “we’ll just stay on the sidelines” attitude toward the Acid 3 test.
You’re aware that Roger Ebert is now writing a weblog for the Sun-Times, that it’s about whatever is on his mind, and that it’s excellent, right?
Ian Beck reviews the new mimic-the-look-of-a-newspaper RSS reader Times:
All of my feeds fit neatly into one of two categories: feeds whose headlines I skim, and feeds where I read every headline and often read every article. NetNewsWire is great for the former category; Times is perfect for the latter (minor bugs notwithstanding).
John C. Welch on Matt Freestone’s claim that Leopard doesn’t run well on three-year-old Macs:
Matt is so far out in left field here, he’s in right field. While Apple does regularly cut off older hardware from the latest OS releases, that is still not, nor never has been the same as “You have to buy new hardware to get new OS versions”, nor is it even close. In fact, prior to Mac OS X, Apple would constantly provide for truly ancient hardware in their OS releases. Mac OS X 10.5 still supports a machine with at least an 867MHz G4, 512MB of RAM, and a DVD drive. You have to go back into 2002 to start hitting sub-867 MHz G4s.
Leaked memo states they wish to ensure sufficient staffing for “an exciting Summer Promotional Launch.” They did the same thing last year for the original iPhone debut.
So, question: Will there be tens of thousands of people across the country lined up all day waiting to buy the new iPhones, just like last year? I say yes.
Sad that in 2008, Apple is still producing OS X software with DOS-style file name limitations.
Another short press release. In fact, the URL is longer than the PR itself.
I took the boy to see this exhibit of props and costumes from the Star Wars films at the Franklin Institute here in Philly over the weekend. Some favorites here, here, here. and of course here.
On the newswire today:
Vodafone today announced it has signed an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone in ten of its markets around the globe. Later this year, Vodafone customers in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey will be able to purchase the iPhone for use on the Vodafone network.
Best press release I’ve seen in years. 56 words, short and to the point. No mention of exclusivity, so there’s speculation that other carriers will have the iPhone in these markets, too.
Free upgrade for current VMware Fusion owners. New features include multiple monitor support, 3D acceleration, and conversion of Parallels virtual machines.
Richard Townhill, Apple’s director of marketing for professional video applications: “I can categorically state, on the record, that is not the case.”
Good news from Google regarding text encodings on the web:
Just last December there was an interesting milestone on the web. For the first time, we found that Unicode was the most frequent encoding found on web pages, overtaking both ASCII and Western European encodings—and by coincidence, within 10 days of one another.
Very nice MobileSafari-optimized news site from the Associated Press. Be sure to check out the Settings page, which lets you configure the stories that appear on the home page. (Thanks to Steve Curtis.)
I think Scott Stevenson is making this more complicated than it is. Borders around text on a web page can look good (and Theocacao is a fine example), but they’re never necessary, and when done ham-fistedly, create a Russian doll effect — a box within a box within a box. In print, you’ve got two boxes at a minimum: the page, and the text itself; on the web, you’ve got the browser window and the text. That’s enough boxiness for anyone. The key is to remember that a column of text, by itself, forms its own box. See Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style if you need further convincing.
At this writing it’s trading at about $24 a share, a 20 percent drop from Friday. But that’s not bad, given that their stock was at $19 prior to the Microsoft takeover bid.
Dean Robinson’s excellent web-based iPhone Twitter client gets even better. Now integrates with Summize for tweet searching, and the interface has been improved across the board, including a new option to include replies and direct messages in your regular timeline. A slew of the issues I mentioned in my iPhone Twitter client comparison have been fixed, but typing in the posting field still feels a bit slow.
Microsoft gracefully concedes. Surprising to me, given that reports yesterday claimed the two were close on a price. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Yahoo’s stock price.
Great interview with Pixar’s Brad Bird:
You don’t play it safe — you do something that scares you, that’s at the edge of your capabilities, where you might fail. That’s what gets you up in the morning.
And, regarding Pixar’s headquarters:
Then there’s our building. Steve Jobs basically designed this building. In the center, he created this big atrium area, which seems initially like a waste of space. The reason he did it was that everybody goes off and works in their individual areas. People who work on software code are here, people who animate are there, and people who do designs are over there. Steve put the mailboxes, the meetings rooms, the cafeteria, and, most insidiously and brilliantly, the bathrooms in the center — which initially drove us crazy — so that you run into everybody during the course of a day. [Jobs] realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen. So he made it impossible for you not to run into the rest of the company.
“Facebook is Webkinz for adults.”
So why, then, was Apple quietly shopping around its entire professional application business to prospective buyers at the recently completed National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas? These include Aperture, Final Cut Pro, Logic, and Shake — applications that are hardly also-rans in their segments and none of which are antiquated in the least.
That sounds crazy to me, and it’s the first I’ve heard of this rumor. But his explanation is even nuttier:
It seems obvious to me, however, that there is only one real reason why Apple would sell off its professional applications and that’s to avoid antitrust problems when/if Apple buys Adobe Systems as I predicted at the beginning of the year.
Even if Apple were to buy Adobe (a big if), and if that acquisition raised anti-trust concerns, Apple would sell the competing Adobe apps, not their own current ones. (And Cringely’s suggestion that Sony might buy Apple’s apps is nutty too — none of these apps have Windows versions, so none would run on Vaios.)
Update: So, after fishing around a bit: Selling off the pro apps division? Doubtful, but there are rumors floating around about it. Buying Adobe? Not in the cards. The only reason Apple would sell off the pro apps division would be to keep the company smaller and more focused; buying Adobe would make Apple bigger and less focused.
Looks like it’s all come down to a dollar or two in share price.
Cleve Nettles at 9to5 Mac, back on February 10:
We just got a tip that Apple is planning on dropping the prices again on the iPhone and iPod Touch line within the next month or two - perhaps at the late February event, perhaps as late as mid-April. Our tipster says that Apple will drop the prices by $100.
Or maybe by zero.
Sales are slow because most people can’t see the difference between Blu-ray and upconverting DVD players (which cost just $70 or so).
Fixed in source and the nightly builds, should be in the next public beta.
My thanks to DoubleTwist for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They’re a venture-funded startup in San Francisco founded by DVD Jon and Monique Farantzos, is hiring Cocoa developers — one full-time in San Francisco, one contractor.
Want to send a video shot on your cell phone to a Facebook friend or sync your iTunes library to your PSP? doubleTwist takes care of protocols and format conversions so that you can enjoy your media without technical headaches.
Sounds like a great gig for anyone interested in media format transcoding and social networking.
The Deck moves to its own domain and a swell new design by Jim Coudal. Even better, new member sites: Chip Kidd (!), Dean Allen, Ze Frank, and Aviary. I was going to say something flattering about these sites, but Zeldman did it for me, with more flair.
When I joined The Deck just a bit over two years ago, DF was the fourth site in the network. Now, there are 29. But the basic idea remains the same:
Each one of these principles is contrary to the conventional wisdom in web advertising — most sites that draw revenue from advertising attempt to cram as many ads as possible on each page, in as big and garish a format as possible. Yet I feel strongly that our policies make for a superior experience both for you, the reader, who is neither distracted by animation nor insulted by “punch the monkey” nonsense, and for the sponsors, who do not have to compete for attention from other advertisers on the same page.
New €10 utility syncs contact data between Address Book and Gmail. (Via Macintouch.)
Attractive, inventive new $30 news reader for the Mac. I don’t think it’s for me, but it’s interesting.
New Dell Vostro laptops in the U.K. have a new keyboard layout where the entire bottom row of letters has been shifted one key to the right — rendering them completely unusable for anyone with even rudimentary touch-typing skills. This is so stupid it’s hard to believe it’s not a prank. (Via Kieran Healy.)
Spiffy new web site from Dave Pell (with development by Alex King and design by my pal Bryan Bell). Pell describes it thusly:
Addictomatic searches the best live sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images. It’s the perfect tool to keep up with the hottest topics, perform ego searches and feed your addiction for what’s up and what’s now.
I’d say it’s sort of like a cross between a news search engine and an RSS aggregator.
Derek K. Miller gets it:
I spent many a year pounding my fingers on an Extended II, in university and as a freelance technical writer. The IBM 101 is a very different beast, also built like a tank but with a more metallic, punchy feel, and an audible note to its astoundingly loud typing sound.
He’s got photos of his collection over at Flickr.
For what it’s worth, I’ve gotten a slew of recommendations this week from IBM keyboard aficionados, recommending keyboards from Unicomp, a company that still makes IBM-style keyboards with buckling spring key switches.
There’s also this preamble on their Byte of the Apple weblog, where Arik Hesseldahl writes:
A Yankee Group survey that is soon to be published, found that of some 250 companies surveyed, 87% of them have some Macs in their organizations, whereas this number was only 48% two years ago.
For a market that remained relatively stagnant for about 20 years, that’s a remarkable change for just two years.
Serendipity — Christopher Turner reviews the new aluminum super-thin Apple Keyboard in the new issue of ATPM:
Moving from a keyboard like the SmartBoard, which uses mechanical key switches — think of the loud clackety-clack of keyboards of yore; those used mechanical key switches — to one using the now more-common rubber membranes to control key function can take some getting used to, and it was an odd couple of days at first. Now, I can’t imagine going back. You don’t have to press very hard on these keys, meaning less finger travel, which saves wear and strain on your digits’ muscles.
Interesting Time Machine tip from Matt Neuburg.
Apple today announced that new movie releases from major film studios and premier independent studios are available for purchase on the iTunes Store on the same day as their DVD release. New releases and catalog titles will be available from 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios.
Next step: work on moving the rental availability up.
Update: Ends up they’ve also enabled purchasing movies directly from Apple TV — prior to today, all you could do from Apple TV was rent.
Joel Spolsky on Microsoft Live Mesh:
It’s Groove, rewritten from scratch, one more time. Ray Ozzie just can’t stop rewriting this damn app, again and again and again, and taking 5-7 years each time.