Linked List: October 2008

This Is What Desperation Looks Like 


The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace 

David Lipsky’s touching, heartbreaking look at David Foster Wallace’s losing struggle against depression. (Via Kottke.)

The Talk Show, Episode 26 

Back for a new fall season, the only podcast featuring Dan Benjamin and yours truly. We talk about everything that’s important: the Phillies and MacBooks.


My thanks to MacRabbit for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their upcoming web development app Espresso combines extensibility with a refined UI sensibility. If you’re familiar with MacRabbit’s excellent CSSEdit, that’s pretty much along the lines of what they have in store for code and text editing.

Sign up as a tester, download the Espresso Engine Preview today and get a taste of what’s to come.

Classics (App Store Link) 

There are a bunch of book reader apps in the App Store which use public domain classics for content. What sets Classics apart is the UI — it does very little, but what it does do, it does with panache. Pages actually animate as they turn, for example. I can’t see myself reading an entire novel one iPhone screenful at a time, but if you can, for $3 Classics is worth checking out.

Photos During (and After) the Phillies World Series Celebration 

This is one happy city.

Daring Fireball RSS Feed Sponsorships for 2009 

Back in August, every remaining week for 2008 sold out on the Daring Fireball RSS feed sponsorship schedule. I started selling weeks in 2009 yesterday. If you’ve got a product or service you’d like to promote to the DF audience, check out the sponsorship page for more information and current rates.

Magic Cocoa Pixie Dust 

Everyone out there with a stiffy for the “rewritten in Cocoa” Snow Leopard Finder needs to get a grip. Cocoa is just an API. It is not some sort of magic technology where you just sprinkle a ton of square brackets in your source code and you instantly get a better UI.

From a user’s perspective, the Snow Leopard Finder is going to be pretty much the exact same turd we’ve had in Mac OS X all along.

About the Late-September 2008 MobileMe Update 

Decent release notes covering recent updates to MobileMe.

iPhone Version of Opera Rejected From App Store 

I’m getting tons of emails regarding this bit from Saul Hansell’s interview with Opera CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner:

Mr. von Tetzchner said that Opera’s engineers have developed a version of Opera Mini that can run on an Apple iPhone, but Apple won’t let the company release it because it competes with Apple’s own Safari browser.

I don’t see how this is surprising at all. One can argue about whether it’s a good policy for Apple not to allow third-party web browsers on the iPhone, but unlike other rejections, this one is not arbitrary. The iPhone SDK Agreement clearly forbids writing your own JavaScript interpreter. I’m not sure what Apple would do if someone tried to publish a third-party iPhone browser based on the system’s version of WebKit, but a browser based on a third-party engine is clearly not allowed.

Again, I’m not saying that’s a good policy. Just saying it’s different than the rejection of apps that don’t violate any of the published rules.

Update: It’s also possible that the version of Opera Mini they developed for the iPhone doesn’t even have a JavaScript engine, that it’s built with minimalist rendering in mind. If that’s the case, this would be another rejection of an app that doesn’t violate any of the written guidelines. It’s unclear whether that’s the case.

25 Years of Frustration, Popped Like a Cork 

The New York Times:

In Northeast Philadelphia, thousands more gathered at the intersection of Frankford and Cottman Avenues, where city workers had greased the light poles to keep fans from dangerous, inebriated ascents.

They didn’t grease them in Center City.

The Parade 

Tomorrow at noon:

Officially, Philadelphia public and parochial schools will be open. But if past parades are predictive, many pupils will contract a serious case of “Phillies Fever,” which is treated by fresh air and loud cheering.

In 1980, some teachers even conducted impromptu field trips with their students, citing the importance of studying history.

Pictures from the last one.

Philadelphia Phillies Win World Series 

It’s been 25 years since the last championship in this city, and tonight, it feels worth the wait.

Five Things You May Not Know About NetNewsWire 

Brent Simmons:

NetNewsWire was designed to be read with a cup of coffee in one hand while the other drives the keyboard.

Dig those old screenshots.

Griffin iTalk 

Free (at least for now) audio recording app for iPhones. Combined with the free Mac client, you can transfer your recordings from your iPhone (or iPod Touch) to your Mac. Best iPhone audio recording solution I’ve seen yet.

November 4 


Free AT&T Wi-Fi for iPhones 

Includes Starbucks stores. Instructions seem like a bit of a pain in the ass, but otherwise they’d have to give free access to everyone who knows how to spoof a user-agent string. The horror.

Rob Enderle Demos Windows 7 Multi-Touch 

I’m sure it will work better eventually. And I’m sure the whole thing won’t wind up shipping a year or two late.

The Case for an Apple Stock Buyback 

People sure like to tell Apple what to do with its cash. If Apple’s executives had listened to these same analysts years ago, they wouldn’t have this $25B pile of cash in the first place.

Charles Meets Barack 


Lou Dorfsman, Design Director Who Developed CBS Corporate Brand, Dies at 90 

A print design genius who worked for a TV network.

First Look at Windows 7’s User Interface 

More cluttered than ever.


Teaser site for Pixar’s next feature, Up. (Via Coudal.)

Glenn Fleishman Reviews Google’s Android G1 Phone 

I’ve had a slew of G1 reviews sitting around in browser tabs for a week. Fleishman seems to nail the consensus:

The G1 would come off much better if it wasn’t competing with the 3G iPhone and iPhone OS 2.1.

The Unfinished Swan 

One of the most beautiful game trailers I’ve ever seen. (Via Kottke.)

Zune Hits the Mainstream 

As the butt of jokes.

Cruz 0.1 

New WebKit-based browser by Todd Ditchendorf, the creator of Fluid. Includes an open plugin architecture for extending the app, and Greasemonkey-style user scripting. Ambitious and interesting. Be sure to check out the demo videos.


Real-time feed of people swearing on Twitter.

Reconstructing Apple’s 2008 Earnings to Reflect iPhone Sales 

Andy Zaky on Apple’s share price, and how most mainstream financial analysts don’t seem to grasp the implications of Apple’s use of subscription-based accounting for the iPhone:

Right away, one ought to notice the staggering growth rate in both revenue and earnings that Apple displayed in 2008. Apple’s real revenue grew 54.5% from $24.637 billion in FYE 2007 to $38.041 billion in FYE 2008 — a full $13.4 billion growth in revenues. Even more impressive is Apple’s 81.2% growth rate in adjusted net income. For a company that is trading at 12 times 2008 earnings, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that Apple is severely undervalued. Especially since Apple currently trades at about 3.37 times its cash position — which is objectively and significantly lower than every other large cap tech company.

GOOG trades at 7.18 times its cash position, RIMM at 15.51 times cash, AMZN at 9.15 times cash, MSFT at 9.13 times cash, CSCO at 3.62 times cash, IBM at 10.96 times cash, INTC at 6.54 times cash, and HPQ at 5.15 times cash. What is more, only GOOG, AAPL and MSFT have no debt of the companies mentioned above. Apple has the largest net cash position than any of those companies and Apple has more net cash than RIMM, GOOG, AMZN and IBM combined.

Adventures in Cocotron 

Glen and Ken Aspeslagh on how they wrote the Windows version of the FileMagnet Uploader:

The promise of Cocotron is a big one. Wrote a Cocoa app? Just add a new Xcode target, hit compile and out shoots a Windows version. Your mountains of Objective-C code now cross compiles and is no longer stranded on the Mac. You put your feet up, having just shipped a Windows app without ever touching a PC. Your cat brings you a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Read on for our journey from app to exe.

MTV Music 

Remember when MTV played music videos? They’re back. Includes the ability to search by director, so you can check out, say, Spike Jonze’s oeuvre.

Rainer Brockerhoff on the New MacBooks 

Sounds about right to me:

Now, of course, there’s a sizable contingent of users who want Pro features at consumer prices, and want Apple’s designers to produce such a miracle every time. These “prosumers” are also prone to think that the “real” Macs are the high-end ones, but that Apple then maliciously cuts features from them to produce the low-end machines; call it the conspiracy theory of hardware design.

While I can’t say with certainty that this never happened in the past (remember the Performa days?), it’s very unlikely in this specific case; the MacBook is not a crippled MacBook Pro. Indeed, indications are that, surprise, the MacBook Pro is really an expanded MacBook.

The Origins of Watchmen 

Early sketches. (Via Rands.)

Amazon Still Has Previous Generation MacBook Pros for $1644 

I linked this up two weeks ago, but they’re still in stock, and such a good deal it’s worth linking up again. Amazon has MacBook Pros on sale for $1794, with a $150 rebate that brings the price down to $1644. These aren’t the new ones released October 14, they’re the previous generation. This is the exact configuration model which I bought seven months ago, and on which I’m typing this post — 2.5GHz, 250 GB hard drive, and a matte LED display — except when I bought mine, it cost $2500. If you want to hold on to a MacBook with a matte display, this is the one.

Fission 1.6 

Rogue Amoeba:

The biggest update is that Fission now has built-in iPhone Ringtone saving, using the same method found in our MakeiPhoneRingtone application. With Fission, you can take any audio file in any format (not just AAC), and easily turn it into a ringtone/alarm sound for your iPhone! Just crop it down to 40 seconds or less, then choose “Save as iPhone Ringtone”, and Fission will handle the rest. Your file will be transcoded to AAC if needed, then passed off to iTunes and ready for syncing.

Google Earth for iPhone 

Pretty cool.

Wassup 2008 



My thanks to Magnetism Studios for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their app FileMagnet is a terrific utility that lets you store and view documents on your iPhone or iPod Touch. First, run the FileMagnet utility on your Mac or Windows machine, and drag in whatever files you wish to copy to your iPhone. Then run FileMagnet on your iPhone, and the files are copied over Wi-Fi. Couldn’t be easier.

FileMagnet supports viewing/playing a slew of formats, including Office, iWork, images, rich text, Safari WebArchives, and iPhone-compatible audio and video. Check out the demo video to see it in action. FileMagnet is available for $5 in the App Store.

Apple Opposes California’s Proposition 8 

Good for Apple:

Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.

Build It For Yourself 

Tim Bray:

Everything I’ve done over the years that’s worked out well—software, standards, writing — everything, without exception, was something I did for myself. I’ve done the other thing too: built things based on guesses about what people out there might want or need. Never worked, not once.

Same here. The most successful thing I’ve ever made is Markdown, and the one and only user I had in mind for it was me.

Apple Developer Forums 

“Beta”, but very welcome.

NDA Officially Dead 

As promised earlier this month, Apple has posted new terms and conditions for the iPhone SDK.

Listen to The Fonz 

Ron Howard reprises his roles as Opie and Richie Cunningham, alongside Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler as The Fonz.

Biggest Flop of the Century 

Self-proclaimed “marketing expert” Laura Ries in June 2007:

The hype and intense media, consumer and Wall Street excitement comes from the impression that the iPhone will become another iPod (it even has a similar name.) And that Jobs will do in phones (a market 4 times the size of music players) what he did in music. In other words, he came, he saw, he conquered.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If the iPod is the biggest success of the 21st century then iPhone is likely to be the biggest flop of the 21st century.

Someday I will tire of linking to these things. That day is not today.

AnandTech on Mac OS X vs. Windows and Battery Life 

Anand Lal Shimpi is surprised that Mac OS X has far superior power management than Windows Vista:

All I can do for now is report the numbers as is. An unexpected benefit of OS X appears to be better battery life.

I don’t think this is unexpected at all.

Neil Gaiman Buys a G1 

Well, he tries to.

Brief Interview With Yours Truly on the iPhone Big Picture 

Dig that cool portrait they made to accompany it.

Nice profile of Jerry Dior, designer of the excellent logo for Major League Baseball.

Pixar University 

Here’s a 2003 San Francisco Chronicle profile of “Pixar University” — perhaps the model for Apple University.

Apple Hires Dean of Yale’s Business School for ‘Apple University’ 

Yukari Iwatani Kane, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is hiring the dean of Yale University’s business school to start a project that it calls Apple University.

The Cupertino, Calif., computer maker said Joel Podolny, the dean of the Yale School of Management, will join Apple as vice president and dean of Apple University. The company declined to provide details about the university or the position.

I’m all ears if anyone out there knows what this means.

Handshake 1.0 

New free iPhone app lets you exchange contact cards over the air with other Handshake users. Should be a built-in iPhone feature.


Henry Blodget:

Steve and Apple need to find a clear, strong No. 2 soon, and then Steve needs to start sharing the stage with him or her. This person can come from within Apple or outside of it, but investors need to know who it is.  The sooner the better.

Two takes on this:

  1. The last time Apple tried this was when they brought John Sculley in as CEO. And then he turned around and engineered a boardroom coup to kick Jobs out of the company. So don’t hold your breath waiting for Jobs to establish a “clear, strong No. 2”.

  2. Tim Cook has been Apple’s “clear, strong No. 2” for years. When Jobs was out of commission for his cancer surgery in 2004, he handed the reins of the company over to Cook.

My vote goes for #2.

MacDailyNews’s Compendium of iPhone Naysayers 

Quite a list.

‘No Chance’ 

Steve Ballmer on the iPhone’s prospects, back in April 2007:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money.

Well, he was right about the “may make a lot of money” part.

‘No Likelihood’ 

John C. Dvorak, calling for Apple to abandon the iPhone in March 2007:

The problem here is that while Apple can play the fashion game as well as any company, there is no evidence that it can play it fast enough. These phones go in and out of style so fast that unless Apple has half a dozen variants in the pipeline, its phone, even if immediately successful, will be passé within 3 months.

There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive.

Steve Jobs’s Home Run With the iPhone 

Saul Hansell gets it:

Apple generates so much hype and gratuitous superlatives that it can be hard to distinguish when it has done something that is truly remarkable. But going over what Apple said in its earnings release and conference call Tuesday, it’s clear that the dimensions of its cellphone business — its sales, profits and market share — deserve the strongest words of praise that can be summoned.

John McCain, Eight Years Ago, on Negative Attack Ads 

Sounds exactly right to me.

Pixish Closing October 31 

Sometimes good ideas don’t work out.

We’re All Lucky Scott McNealy Is a Tightwad 

1996 NYT article about Sun’s lowball bid to buy Apple Computer. How things have changed since then: Apple today could make a lowball bid to buy Sun Microsystems using just the cash they’ve earned in the last six months.

Why the iPhone Is Now Apple’s Most Important Product 

Good piece from Tom Krazit. This breakdown of iPhone revenue divided by units is interesting:

It allows us to make imperfect estimates on just how much Apple is receiving in subsidies on each iPhone 3G. $4.6 billion in revenue divided by 6.9 million units equals $666.67 per iPhone. That’s a little high, since some portion of that revenue has to be attached to Apple TV sales, but even making the unlikely assumption that Apple sold $500 million worth of a product it calls a “hobby” during the fourth quarter puts the average cost of an iPhone 3G at $594.20.

Claim Chowder Time for Richard Sprague 

Richard Sprague, a senior marketing director at Microsoft, back in January 2007:

I can’t believe the hype being given to iPhone.  Even some of my blindly-loyal pro-Microsoft friends and colleagues talk like it’s a real innovation and will “redefine the market” or “usher in a new age”. 

What!?!?  [...] I just have to wonder who will want one of these things (other than the religious faithful).  People need this to be a phone, first and foremost. But with 5 hours of battery life?  No keypad?  (you try typing a phone number on that screen, no matter how wonderful it is — you will want a keypad).  And for all that whiz-bang Internet access, you absolutely need the phone to work, immediately, every single time.  Will it do that? 

So please mark this post and come back in two years to see the results of my prediction:  I predict they will not sell anywhere near the 10M Jobs predicts for 2008.

I bookmarked it and I’m back to see the results.

Seeking Alpha’s Apple Earnings Call Transcript 

These transcripts are a terrific resource provided by Seeking Alpha.

Macworld: New MacBook Pro Benchmarks 


Not Been a Good Year for Sun 

Sun Microsystems’s market cap is down to $3.6 billion. Doesn’t seem like anyone is interested in buying them, though.

Dave Shea on CameraBag 

Fun $5 iPhone app that runs photos through filters that attempt to replicate the look of old cameras. As Shea says, it makes lemonade out of the iPhone’s lemon of a camera.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Apple’s Quarterly Earnings Call 

Rare appearance from Steve Jobs — he’s only appeared on a handful of quarterly financial calls since 1999. Also: Apple is officially past goal of 10 million iPhones for calendar year 2008, with the entire holiday season ahead.

The main points:

  • Apple’s subscription-based accounting for iPhone sales makes it easier to overlook just how much money they’re making from the iPhone. If not for subscription accounting, iPhone would account for 39 percent of Apple’s quarter.
  • Apple sold more phones than RIM last quarter: 6.9 vs. 6.1 million.
  • Measured by revenue, Apple is the third-largest mobile phone supplier in the world, behind only Nokia and Samsung. And they’ve been in the market for just 15 months.

Also: Excellent live coverage from MacJournals on Twitter.

Apple Q4 2008 Financial Results 

iPhone, iPod, and Mac sales are all strong:

Apple shipped 2,611,000 Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing 21 percent unit growth and 17 percent revenue growth over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 11,052,000 iPods during the quarter, representing eight percent unit growth and three percent revenue growth over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone units sold were 6,892,000 compared to 1,119,000 in the year-ago-quarter.

“Apple just reported one of the best quarters in its history, with a spectacular performance by the iPhone — we sold more phones than RIM,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We don’t yet know how this economic downturn will affect Apple. But we’re armed with the strongest product line in our history, the most talented employees and the best customers in our industry. And $25 billion of cash safely in the bank with zero debt.”

So they’ve sold just over 13 million iPhones to date, and over 9 million in calendar 2008 alone. Given that the remaining three months of 2008 are the holiday season, Apple’s “10 million in 2008” goal looks like a sure thing — given that the current quarter started three weeks ago, they’ve probably already done it.

Also, the 6.9 million iPhones sold last quarter are more than the 6.1 million iPhones sold in the previous five quarters combined.

PCalc 1.1 Post-Mortem 

James Thomson on getting noticed in the increasingly crowded App Store:

Anyway, right towards the end of development on 1.1, I heard that the App Store was going to change so that updates were no longer going to count towards the release date of your app. And worse, everything was now going to be sorted by the initial submission date of the app. And since PCalc was there on day one, it meant it was now on the very last page.

“Hmm…”, I thought, “that’s not going to be good”. And I was right. Sales went from very healthy to call-in-the-coroner levels.


David Sedaris, on undecided voters:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

iPhone-Optimized Web Site From MapQuest 

Better than nothing, but no matter how good their maps and directions, it seems hard to compete with the built-in (Google) Maps app with a web app that doesn’t have access to CoreLocation.

Another Example of Why ‘Cult of Mac’ Is Held in Such High Esteem 

Pete Mortensen, back on October 6, regarding 9to5Mac’s report that Apple’s then-upcoming new laptops were going to be carved from solid pieces of aluminum:

I’ve been talking with other industrial designers about this issue, and they all agree that the reasoning behind the current Brick rumor doesn’t add up. One friend of mine guessed it would add up to $50 in manufacturing costs and might not be any stronger or lighter than more traditional manufacturing approaches.

Does Apple have a game-changing laptop in the wings that will reinvent the MacBook and MacBook Pro design language? For their sake, they’d better. Will it be milled from a single block of aluminum? Not in this lifetime.

Great call.

What’s important to Apple about this process isn’t that it makes laptops cheaper. It’s that it makes them better at the same prices.

Apple Enabled GPU Hardware Decoding of H.264 on New MacBooks, Pros and Airs? 

Interesting report by Arnold Kim, suggesting that the new MacBook lineup offers hardware-accelerated H.264 decoding. In particular, 1080p playback now consumes far less CPU time. I presume that the iPhone has done this all along for H.264 playback, but, if true, this would be the first time Macs have used hardware acceleration for H.264. More on this from David Chartier at Ars Technica.

Benchmarking Flash Player 10 

Performance still sucks on Mac OS X compared to Windows Vista. Using the exact same computer (four-core 2.66 GHz Mac Pro with 6 GB of RAM), Hulu video playback consumes 56 percent CPU on Mac OS X 10.5 vs. just 7 percent on Vista. Flash video playback is about eight times more efficient on Windows. And yet people wonder why Apple isn’t anxious to get Flash on the iPhone.

Update: “Eight times more efficient” may well be the wrong conclusion, in that the 56 percent figure for Mac OS X is for one of the four CPU cores, whereas the 7 percent figure for Windows may be 7 percent of all available CPU cycles. Even so, it’s still twice as efficient on Windows than on Mac OS X.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Upgrade It 

Dan Moren profiles Bob Staake, the artist who still uses Photoshop 3.0:

But the way he talks about CS2 makes it clear that it’s more of an obstacle than an enabler when it comes to getting down to creative work. “When I open up Photoshop 3.0, it’s there and ready to go in four seconds flat, and when I have opened CS2 my fingernails will have grown a quarter inch before the app appears,” Staake says.


Say it out loud and it makes perfect sense.

Developing Cocoa Applications Using MacRuby 

New ADC article introducing MacRuby, Apple’s in-progress project for writing Cocoa applications in Ruby. What makes MacRuby different than the RubyCocoa bridge is that MacRuby is an implementation of the Ruby language built on the existing Cocoa runtime:

More specifically, MacRuby’s fundamental data types such as String, Array, and Hash are re-implemented on top of their CoreFoundation counterparts (CFString, CFArray and CFDictionary, respectively). All strings created in MacRuby are native Cocoa strings and can be passed to underlying C or Objective-C APIs that expect a Cocoa object, no conversion occurs. This implementation detail also implies that strings in MacRuby are UTF-16 compliant by default.

NYT Report on the Health of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates 

Best write-up I’ve seen regarding John McCain’s history of melanoma and Joe Biden’s brain aneurysms.

Also interesting is to compare Sarah Palin to Ronald Reagan. Regarding Palin:

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, 44, Mr. McCain’s running mate, has released no medical information.

That’s it. Zip. Nada. Not even a one-page summary. Regarding Reagan, back in 1980:

A leading example of openness was Ronald Reagan, whose age, 69, had become an issue in the 1980 election. Mr. Reagan authorized his doctors to be interviewed. He also agreed to an interview himself, against the wishes of his aides, answering all my questions, including what would he do if he became senile as president.

“Resign,” he said.

Microsoft Patents Automatic Audio Censoring 

Maybe they can put this technology to use on their “V word” problem.

‘V Word’ 

Apple’s new “V Word” commercial is rather interesting. On the surface it’s typical “Get a Mac” comedy. But the message is actually meta-mockery of Microsoft’s recent rebranding push. Apple’s calling Microsoft out for something that is obvious but which I hadn’t really thought about until seeing this spot — that they’re no longer mentioning “Vista” by name but talking only about “Windows” generically. The “Windows 7” moniker fits in with this.

“Vista” has turned into such poison, marketing-wise, that even Microsoft is dropping it.

1991 Steve Jobs NeXT Video 

YouTube version of a 1991 internal NeXT “chalk talk” by Steve Jobs. The bottom line for NeXT was that they had very good products that no one wanted to buy. Jobs’s description in this video of where NeXT’s computers stood compared to the rest of the industry is, as usual, very astute. On the one hand NeXT offered usability and consumer software like Macs and PCs, but on the other hand, UNIX workstation-style networking, performance, and OS features. (TCP/IP networking, for example, was not a standard feature on either the Mac or Windows in 1991.)

Jobs was trying to make the case that this position was an advantage for NeXT, but in hindsight, it serves as an explanation for why NeXT never really took off. There was no market for what they were trying to sell.

(Here’s part two.)


My thanks to FlipBook for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. FlipBook is a very cool animation app — yes, that’s right, animation — for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Draw with your finger, then use onion skinning and layers to create new frames. Very ambitious concept for the iPhone, and developer Josh Anon has devised some very clever UI ideas to make it work. My favorite is a single-finger tap-and-hold gesture that brings up a five item contextual toolbar.

You can share your animations on the web site, and you can browse the flipbooks created by others. Here’s my favorite. The full version of FlipBook costs $10, but FlipBook Lite is free, to let you get a feel for it before buying the full version.

Regarding the Twitter CEO Shake-Up 

I’m not sure what the deal is with Ev Williams taking over as CEO from Jack Dorsey, but I get the feeling it’s not at all a sign of trouble for Twitter. Twitter’s doing better now, both in terms of popularity and in terms of uptime, than it ever has — I think they’ve actually licked their scaling troubles. My slightly-informed hunch is that Ev Williams wants to be CEO and that’s that, and tough shit for Jack Dorsey.

As for Twitter’s financial prospects, I concur with Henry Blodget:

Why is Twitter different than the 9,000 other Web 2.0 companies that are intending to figure out a revenue model eventually? Because people are obsessed with it. 

DisplayPort: What You Need to Know 

Peter Cohen on why DisplayPort is better than DVI.

External USB SATA Drive Dock 

As an alternative to the Newer drive adapter, a bunch of DF readers suggest docks such as this one on sale at ThinkGeek. It’s a bit less hacky, but it only works with SATA drives.

Newer Technology Universal Drive Adapter 

Even better than a drive enclosure, this adapter lets you use just about any naked hard drive (like, say, one that you’ve taken out of a new MacBook) as an external USB 2 device. Here’s Dan Frakes’s review for Macworld. For just $30, this seems like a no-brainer.

Chicago Tribune Endorses Barack Obama for President 

The first time in the 161-year history of the Tribune that it has endorsed a Democrat for president. (Via FakeJohnMcCain.)

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About the New MacBook 

The regular MacBook no longer offers FireWire, and therefore no longer supports Target Disk Mode (which does not work via USB). The only solace in this regard is that the hard drive is so much easier to access on the new MacBook. If I bought one, I’d invest in a standalone 2.5-inch drive enclosure to have handy for all the situations where I’d normally use Target Disk Mode.

Investing Advice From Warren Buffett 

Warren Buffett:

A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.

AppleInsider: Next-Gen 17-Inch MacBook Pro Due in a Few Months 

I heard the same thing a few days ago.

Halloween ‘The Shining’ Party at the Timberline Lodge 

Sounds like a fantastic party:

In 1980, Stanley Kubrick came to the Timberline Lodge to film one of the all-time great horror classics, The Shining. In the film, Jack Nicholson slowly loses his grasp on reality and loses himself in a hallucination of a 1920s era ball. Twenty-eight years later, Nike Sportswear and Fantastic Fest have joined forces to recreate the very same ball at the very same lodge.

Check out the photo of the Timberline Lodge on the about page, and compare to the composition Kubrick used in the film for this shot (and this storyboard).

Update: To be clear, Kubrick only shot exteriors at Timberline; the interiors of The Overlook were shot on a custom-built soundstage in England.

Stock Market Returns by Presidential Party 

OK, I said the previous link on this “stock market returns by presidential party” thing was the last one, but this one is way too good to pass up. Theodore Gray, co-founder of Mathematica, used Mathematica to create a very rich interactive model. He plays with the data in different ways, like by assuming that it takes a full year for a president to have any effect on the market, factoring in dividends, and by factoring in inflation (in which case the data looks really good for Republican presidents).

Gray has convinced me that this is not a good metric for measuring presidential economic policies, and his conclusion is too good to spoil.

(Thanks to Andreas Weiler for the link.)

One More on That NYT S&P Index Graph 

Mark Newhouse took the chart and reordered it into chronological order. Interesting result. The conclusion I draw looking at this version is not that the stock market performed poorly under Republican presidents in general, but rather just under Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. A thoughtful exercise in information design.

To make it even more accurate, I’d suggest widening the arrows to represent the length of each president’s term. Two-term presidents (not to mention Roosevelt, who was in office for over 12 years) should be weighted more heavily than one-termers (and Gerald Ford).

iTunes Store Tops 200 Million TV Shows Sold 

200 million shows sounds pretty good for something that’s supposedly a failure.

Vintage 2004 Claim Chowder 

Alex Salkever, back in October 2004, in a piece subtitled “Apple lost one war to Microsoft by not licensing its Mac operating system. It may repeat the error with its iPod and music software”:

Are Apple and its enigmatic CEO bringing about a doomsday déjà vu with their steady refusals to let others partake in the iTunes juggernaut? That seems to be the case.


Microsoft will probably make a steady stream of improvements in its media-player software. Will it ever match Apple in ease of use and elegance? No — but who cares, really? Many consumers are more than happy with something that’s good enough, and cheap.

Who cares, indeed.

Mark C. Chu-Carroll on That S&P Graph From the NYT 

Chu-Carroll says it’s not a meaningful comparison because it doesn’t address dividends.

I would retort that the chart didn’t claim to represent anything other than the change in stock prices in the S&P index. It shows the change in one metric over time.

Harry McCracken on the New MacBook Pro 

Harry McCracken on the build quality:

I hate car metaphors in computer reviews, but I can’t help myself: The old MacBook Pro was a solidly-built Toyota, and the new one is a Lexus.

The Android Fine Print 


The Android Market business and program policies also include an item that says users can return any application for a full refund within 24 hours of the time of purchase. In the absence of a trial version of applications, this offer will let users return an application that might not deliver exactly what they expected.

Sure wish the iTunes App Store offered this.

Apple Changes Developer Documentation Typography 

Apple’s developer documentation has been set in Palatino for as long as I’ve been reading it. Looks like they’ve switched everything to Myriad this week. (I’m linking to the Human Interface Guidelines web page here; you’ll have to click the PDF link to see the new design.)

Update: Several readers pointed out that the PDF metadata indicates Apple has finally stopped using FrameMaker in Classic to produce its documentation. The PDF Producer string now reads “XEP 4.9 build 20070115”.

The Spreadsheet Psychic 

Adam Sternbergh profiles Nate Silver for New York Magazine:

At his day job, Silver works for Baseball Prospectus, a loosely organized think tank that, in the last ten years, has revolutionized the interpretation of baseball stats. Furthermore, Silver himself invented a system called PECOTA, an algorithm for predicting future performance by baseball players and teams. (It stands for “player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithm,” but is named, with a wink, after the mediocre Kansas City Royals infielder Bill Pecota.) Baseball Prospectus has a reputation in sports-media circles for being unfailingly rigorous, occasionally arrogant, and almost always correct.

Apple 2008 Environmental Update 

Steve Jobs:

For the past several years, Apple has made a concerted effort to be more transparent about the steps we are taking to protect the environment and make our business more sustainable. In this environmental update, I’d like to inform you of our recent progress and introduce you to a groundbreaking system of reporting that we believe is unmatched in our industry.

(Via Dan Moren.)

Bulls, Bears, Donkeys, and Elephants 

Tommy McCall compares the growth of the S&P stock index under Republican and Democratic presidents since 1929:

As of Friday, a $10,000 investment in the S.& P. stock market index would have grown to $11,733 if invested under Republican presidents only, although that would be $51,211 if we exclude Herbert Hoover’s presidency during the Great Depression. Invested under Democratic presidents only, $10,000 would have grown to $300,671 at a compound rate of 8.9 percent over nearly 40 years.

Facts continue to hold a liberal bias. Electoral Projections Done Right 

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight is a marvel of statistical analysis. The middle column is opinion and analysis, and, yes, Silver (along with his colleague Sean Quinn) is a Barack Obama supporter. But the left and right columns are math, not opinion. Check out the FAQ for a look at just how complex the models are.

App Store Usability 

Michael Tsai on the App Store:

Since the prices are generally low, I haven’t been shy about buying apps that look promising. This looks to Apple like a success, but I wish I could return about 2/3 of my purchases.

I’d say my average is around the same.

Khoi Vinh: ‘Make Note of the Exits’ 

Good advice.

Phillies Win National League Pennant 

Phil Sheridan:

Say it out loud. Shout it so William Penn can hear it atop City Hall. The Phillies are going to the World Series for the first time since the mullets-and-beer 1993 team lost to Joe Carter and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pictures here.

2.5 GHz MacBook Pros at Amazon for $1644 

Amazon has the old MacBook Pros on sale at a steep discount — $1794 with a $150 rebate. This machine sold for $2499 at the Apple Store two days ago. (Buy through this link and I’ll get a kick-back from Amazon.)

Michael Tsai on the New MacBooks 

Good list of pros and cons. The lack of FireWire on the regular MacBook is the worst con, from my perspective.

The Macalope Asks: ‘Is This a Joke?’ 

Adam DuVander apparently thinks the difference between a BMW and a Chevy is that BMW “charges more”.

‘In No Other Country Is My Story Even Possible’ 

Poster design by Jonathan Hoefler.

Bento 2.0 

Looks like a solid update to FileMaker’s consumer-oriented personal database.

New features include “more spreadsheet-like behavior”, which I think is good, but which conflates Bento even more with Numbers. Numbers is a database-y spreadsheet, and Bento is a spreadsheet-y database. I think there are many use cases where it’s hard to tell which to choose.

The Problem Isn’t With Predictions 

Peter Kafka:

We thought that at this point, everyone understands: The blogosphere isn’t 100% reliable, especially when it comes to Apple-related news. Some combination of intense fanboy and investor interest, mixed with Apple’s secrecy fetish means that the Web is riddled with eroneous [sic, I swear] predictions about Steve Jobs’ next move.

The problem is not with predictions. Predictions are fun. My predictions about Apple have been wrong far more often than they’ve been right. The problem is with false reports. None of the reports I called out yesterday were “predictions”, they were false reports. “Here’s what I think Apple will do” is very different from “Here’s what a trusted source tells me Apple is going to announce”.

I find that it is easy to be right with what I report, because I only report what I know to be true. This is not some sort of high standard. It is basic journalism.

Gizmodo: Steve Jobs Preparing His Farewell? 

At Gizmodo, Jesus Diaz posits that Jobs is preparing to leave the company, “probably very soon”.

I’d say no. Having Tim Cook and Jony Ive on stage with him was certainly different, and it may well be part of grooming both of them to take bigger public roles. It was also a good way to inspire investor confidence. But it’s hardly unprecedented for Jobs to act more as MC than showman during an event. He played an even smaller role in the keynote at WWDC 2006 when Leopard was introduced; most of the demos were presented by Phil Schiller and Scott Forstall. Diaz writes:

[Jobs] was saying: “Hey, look, Apple is more than Steve. These are The Guys, the Goodfellas, the A-Team. They share the same vision I have. And they are going to push the company forward when I change my office chair for a hammock and caipirinhas on my private beach in Hawaii”.

I think he’s right that Jobs is proud of, and has tremendous faith in, Cook and Ive. If Jobs dies or gets really sick, Apple’s obviously going to have to replace him. But so long as he’s healthy, working at Apple is exactly the thing Jobs wants to do. He’s consumed by his work, and I think it’s only in the last two or three years that Apple has gotten to the point where Jobs feels he has a decent set of crayons at his disposal. In Jobs’s mind, the iPhone is only the beginning of what a truly flourishing Apple can produce. Why would he leave now? “A hammock and caipirinhas on a private beach” would be living hell for Steve Jobs.

PCalc Updates for iPhone and Mac 

And developer James Thomson has launched a new weblog, “Three Letter Acronym”. Check out the screenshots of the new color themes for the iPhone version of PCalc.

Old Apple Cinema Displays Still Available 

Apple is still selling the full lineup of old Cinema Displays, including the 23-inch model that one would think was replaced by today’s new 24-inch LED Cinema Display. I’m not sure what the story is here, but my best guess is that it’s about the new DisplayPort connectors. The new MacBooks all have them and so does the new 24-inch LED display. But no other Macs have these ports, and Apple doesn’t (yet?) have a DVI-to-DisplayPort adapter, so Apple needs to keep the old displays around for the time being.

Update: To clarify, Apple is selling adapters that allow MacBooks with mini DisplayPort ports to connect to DVI displays. What they don’t sell is an adapter that would allow a Mac with a DVI port to connect to the new 24-inch LED Cinema Display.

Announcing the New York Times Campaign Finance API 

The confluence of programming and journalism continues.

DisplayPort Versus HDMI 

Comprehensive comparison of DisplayPort and HDMI by Ann R. Thryft for EDN last month. Worth a bookmark now that Apple is fully behind DisplayPort.

First Look: MacBook and MacBook Pro 

Jason Snell:

The new MacBook and MacBook Pro are here. No, not just “here” in the sense of “publicly acknowledged by Apple and being shipped to arrive in Apple Stores tomorrow.” Here in the sense of, in my office right now. So in advance of our full reviews and lab tests of these products, let me give you a quick tour of the products.

Here’s a bit I did not know:

Yes, it’s true — these new MacBooks work with your iPhone headphones. If you click the button on your iPhone headphones, iTunes pauses. Click again, and the music resumes. A double-click advances one track, and a triple-click moves back a track—just like on the iPhone. What’s more, the headphones’ built-in microphone appears as the input device “Microphone port” in the Sound preference pane.

Apple Posts Video From Today’s Event 

As usual, it doesn’t include the Q&A session at the end.

How to Configure Graphics Performance on the New Two-GPU MacBook Pros 

You have to log out and log back in for the change to take effect. Would be a lot cooler if it just kicked in automatically when you switch between running off the battery and AC power.

MyWeather 1.1 for iPhone 

WeatherBug is free and pretty good, but I switched to MyWeather this week and it’s better in just about every way. It seems faster at downloading data, and the radar maps are far more reliable. Plus, MyWeather lets you view the radar map in full-screen mode when you rotate your iPhone. MyWeather also uses location services to show you the weather where you are now. Normally $15, but currently on sale for $10 “for a limited time”.

‘No Firewire’ 

“No FireWire” is one of the top trending terms on Twitter at the moment. Clearly the biggest downside to the new MacBooks.

MacBook Design Video 

Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the new MacBooks are manufactured.

Answers About the New Buttonless MacBook Trackpad 

Jacqui Cheng:

The trackpad also knows when you are holding onto something, like a window or a folder. For example, if you are dragging a file across the desktop with your pointer finger and your thumb is holding down the invisible button on the bottom, you can let go with your pointer finger and still be holding onto the file. Move things around all you want just like you would on a normal trackpad, and it’ll figure it out.

Which MacBook Are You? 

Apple’s new guide to choosing a MacBook.

Macworld’s Live Coverage of Apple’s Notebook Event 

Jason Snell’s on solo duty; Dan Moren was too busy sulking over the Red Sox to make the trip. See also: Ars Technica’s live coverage; Ars is now including photos in their live coverage.

I’ll be cracking wise on Twitter.

Advanced Gmail IMAP Controls 

Excellent new IMAP features for Gmail. I’ve wished I could hide the magic [Gmail]/All Mail mailbox from IMAP clients ever since I switched to Gmail.

Grafly 1.1 

Nicely-done $10 2D/3D graphing calculator for the iPhone from Em Software. The touch controls for rotating and zooming 3D graphs feel just right.

Pentagram’s Redesign of The Atlantic 

Very nice work. Like Kottke, I also like their Helvetica-based proposal.

Tap Tap Tap Partners Break Up 

There’s an opportunity here — as part of their breakup, John Casasanta and Sophia Teutschler are trying to sell the rights to Where To, a location-based iPhone app which has grossed over $200,000 in sales so far. (Tap Tap Tap and Where To have sponsored DF’s RSS feed several times.)

Just Making Things Up 

Mac Soda:

Mac Soda has heard that iLife ’09 and iWork ’09 are going to be announced this Tuesday at the MacBook event. Similar to last year, when Steve introduced the iMac, and then branched off into the iLife and iWork updates, Steve is expected to do the same thing this year, announcing the iLife/iWork update with the introduction of the new laptops.

This is complete bullshit. No new versions of iLife or iWork tomorrow.

Paul Krugman Wins Nobel Prize for Economics 

Sometimes I forget that writing his excellent NYT column isn’t his day job. Congratulations.

Hockenberry on iPhone Splash Screens 

The real problem is minimizing startup times. But when you can’t launch instantly, you have to decide what to show while waiting. I actually don’t mind iPhone splash screens — what I dislike are default screens that feel like a locked-up UI. The screen shouldn’t look like it’s responsive when it isn’t.

Ply It Forward 

This idea is genius.

Apple Retail Store ‘Field Trip’ Program 

I think it’s downright sickening that any school would consider a trip to a retail store as a legitimate field trip. Consumer advertising has no place in education. The fact that the U.S. public education system is in such a sorry state that this is even possible doesn’t mean Apple should encourage it. It’s appalling.

iPhone Application Graveyard 

Peter Hosey is maintaining a directory of apps which were rejected or pulled from the App Store.

Megamovies, TV Shows as Days-Long Movies 

Kottke, referencing this astute 1999 review by Vincent Canby of the first season of The Sopranos, on serious TV shows as days-long movies:

Episodes of these megamovies, Canby argued presciently, are best watched in bunches, so that the parts more easily make the whole in the viewer’s mind. For many, bingeing on entire seasons on DVD or downloaded via iTunes has become the preferred way to watch these shows. If stamina and non-televisual responsibilities weren’t an issue, it would be preferable to watch these shows in one sitting, as one does with a movie.

Video: Content-Aware Scaling in Photoshop CS4 

Technically very impressive, but in practice I can’t help but wonder if the feature is going to be abused. (UI sidenote: Why in the world did Adobe put the close buttons for document tabs on the right side of the tabs for the Mac version?)

How to Record a Podcast With People in Multiple Locations 

Dan Benjamin describes the “double-ender”: the simple, highly effective technique we use to record The Talk Show. (Speaking of which, the new fall season starts next week.)

‘Not Something That Can Be Debated’ 

Someone seems a tad defensive.

Mad Men, Mad Props 

Mark Simonson on the occasional anachronistic typeface choices in Mad Men.

Opera Hires Jon Hicks 

Smart move for Opera.

Dan Benjamin Compares the Kodak Zi6 to the Flip Ultra 

Dan Benjamin:

[...] the Flip seems to somehow be specially tuned in to the human vocal range. Dialog seems to pop out over background noise in a pleasing way, and there’s virtually no bleed-through of environmental noise such as wind or water.

I’ve got both the Zi6 and Flip Ultra, and I agree with Dan that the audio advantages to the Flip might be the single biggest “little thing” advantage to the Flip.

Memeorandum Colors: Visualizing Political Bias With Greasemonkey 

Very clever hack from Andy Baio and Joshua Schachter. This would be a terrific feature to build into Memeorandum itself.


My thanks to LateNiteSoft for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Their iPhone drawing app Sketches is a ton of fun and very well-designed. You can use it for everything from doodling to annotating photographs — just drag your finger to draw or add shapes and text. Sketches has extensive export options, undo support, and it costs just $5.

Reuters: ‘Plunge in RIM’s Shares Could Attract Takeover Bid’ 


“RIM is a massive strategic fit” for Microsoft, said Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek. “I’m fairly certain they have a standing offer to buy them at $50 (a share).”

Whereby “massive strategic fit”, he means “would signal a complete abandonment of their decade-long Windows Mobile strategy”.

Exposure 1.1 Post-Mortem 

Fraser Speirs on the significant performance improvements in the just-released Exposure 1.1, his iPhone Flickr client.

$800 MacBooks? 

I find an $800 entry point very credible for a bottom-of-the-line MacBook. What I find hard to believe is that Apple would distribute price lists to retail stores in advance.

Merriam-Webster’s Entry for ‘Invite’ as a Noun 

I reiterate my earlier plea: Get off my lawn, you damn kids.

New MacBooks Next Tuesday 

Two things. One, I told you so. I’m not sure why there was so much doubt (and why I got so many emails yesterday and this morning) that there’d be a MacBook event next week. This event has been scheduled for months.

Two, invite is a verb, invitation is the noun.

Also: Get off my lawn.

iPhone Tech Talk World Tour 

Act fast, New York is already full.

McCain Rips Off Foo Fighters 

You can sort of understand why Republicans repeatedly rip off music from artists who don’t support them — if they stuck to those who did, they’d only be able to play Ted Nugent and shitkicker country songs.

Google’s Open Source Patches to Wine 

This idea deserves a full essay, but for now, consider: In the same way that Apple took Mac OS X and Cocoa and shrunk them to serve as a handheld device OS, I think Google could take Android and grow it to serve as a PC OS. Wine would be to Android what Classic was to Mac OS X.

The big win is saying “screw you” to KDE and Gnome and all those crap Linux interfaces and APIs. Start over with something new, cohesive, better, and, most of all, which is not, conceptually, a watered down clone of Windows.

BusinessWeek on the BlackBerry Storm 

Stephen Wildstrom likes the Storm’s tactile-response touch screen.

Kids Today 

Survey of U.S. teenagers shows high interest in the iPhone and incredible market share for iPods.

‘All I Smell Is Raw Power and Speed’ 

DaddyTypes has more on the custom Volvo station wagons Paul Newman commissioned for himself and David Letterman.

Time Reports on BlackBerry Storm Rumors 

The article title is “BlackBerry’s Storm Aims to Blow the iPhone Away”, but it’s based not on a hands-on review, but on rumors regarding the Storm published on the web. The author is Anita Hamilton, whom when we last heard from her, was questioning why Apple didn’t just force every app in the App Store to be distributed for free. Her BlackBerry piece starts:

You just can’t keep a secret in the tech industry these days.

Which seems contradicted by much of what Apple debuts, including, for example, the iPhone.

One More Bob Staake Link 

Even better video showing how he illustrates with Photoshop 3.

Microsoft Should Never Make Another Video Ever Again 

What is wrong with this company? Who authorizes this crap?

iPhone Contacts and Maps Fast Start 

Tom Insam:

Apps on the iPhone can ship a ‘default.png’ in their bundle. When you start the app, it’ll first show this image, then load the rest of the app. The idea is, you can ship a picture of the start state of your app, and it’ll appear to have started very quickly. This is why some apps are unresponsive just after they start — they’re not actually started, you’re just looking at a picture. Other apps misuse this feature to display a splash screen. Urgh, splash screens.

Anyway, I digress. I have noticed that both the Contacts and Maps applications can change their default.png files.

Insam also reports that Maps will continue running in the background, until forced to quit from memory constraints. Another background-capable Apple app?

Pragmatic’s iPhone Development Training 

Four-day hands-on workshop in November. Hooray for the death of the NDA.

Staake Uses Mac OS 9 in Classic, Not System 7 

He really does still use Photoshop 3.0, though.

Famous Programmers From Adleman to Zimmermann 

211 men, 6.5 women, and 4 transsexuals.

Proof Again That It’s the Artist, Not the Tools 

Speaking of The New Yorker’s endorsement of Barack Obama, here’s the story behind the cover for this week’s issue by Bob Staake. According to Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing, Staake still uses an old version of Adobe Photoshop 3.0 running in Classic. I’m actually less surprised that he uses such old software than I am that he uses Photoshop instead of Illustrator.

The Choice 

The New Yorker’s detailed endorsement of Barack Obama for president. A persuasive read for anyone still undecided.


New command-line tool from Keith Alperin: you give it a filename extension, defaultapp tells you which app will open it by default.

iPhone Doubles Pandora Growth 

I think it’s finally starting to hit people that the iPhone is the first mainstream consumer mobile computing platform.

Update: Dan Frommer clarifies that the iPhone accounts for half of Pandora’s growth, not half its usage.

SMS Privacy Hole in iPhone Emergency Call Mode 

Incoming SMS messages appear as alerts in emergency call mode even when SMS alerts are turned off and the iPhone is passcode-locked.

The Year of Linux 

MSI, makers of the popular Wind “netbook”:

The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.

David Letterman’s Tribute to Paul Newman 

Touching, inspiring, and funny. I love the bit about their custom-built Volvo station wagons.

270 to Win 

Historical Electoral College maps from every U.S. presidential election in history. Fascinating to see how quickly the map can change.

Using BusySync to Sync iCal Calendar Subscriptions to MobileMe and the iPhone 

You know how subscription calendars — like holiday and sports schedules — don’t sync from iCal to MobileMe? Here’s how to use BusySync to work around it. Man, I love BusySync.

Good Deal 

Pieter Omvlee removed the bitmap image editing feature from his app DrawIt. To compensate his users who were using it, he worked out a deal with Gus Mueller to offer them a license to Acorn. The indie developer community at work.

The Flickr Panda 

It’s a vomiting panda, but it’s OK because he’s vomiting a rainbow and nice photos.

Helpify, the Omni Help Emitter 

Python script and document template from The Omni Group for using OmniOutliner as an authoring tool for Apple Help Book content. This is the tool Omni uses to generate their own help books.

Matt Long’s Cocoa Touch Tutorial 

How to build a simple iPhone application.

Techspansion Closes, VisualHub Discontinued 

A real shame; VisualHub is a terrific app.

Fring, New VOIP App for iPhone 

Cory Bohon reports that audio quality is good, but echo-y. Update: It’s not the first VOIP app, as I initially stated; Truphone has been out for weeks (but doesn’t support Skype calls).

Apple TV 2.2 Software Update 

This is a pretty big update. It adds support for HD TV shows from the iTunes Store, genius playlists, music video playlists, and a brand-new playback feature menu that appears after you hold the Play/Pause button for a few seconds while a movie is playing.

Meta Tag Allows Full-Screen iPhone Web Apps 

Here’s an interesting tip from AppleInsider. If you include this meta tag in your iPhone-optimized web app:

<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes" />

Then, if you use the Add to Home Screen feature, it will launch as its own standalone app, with no Safari browser chrome. It’s a way to make site-specific browsers for the iPhone. They run as their own processes, outside MobileSafari. Update: Here’s the documentation.

The Macalope Weekly 

First edition of the Macalope’s new weekly column for MacUser.

SaaS Rails Kit 

My thanks to Rails Kits for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Rails Kits provides Ruby on Rails developers with tested, ready-to-use code libraries. Their SaaS kit is designed to help build subscription-based web apps, providing mechanisms for recurring billing, signup, and account upgrading and downgrading.

Use coupon code “df” to save 25 percent off any Rails Kit through Sunday.

Jim Goldman on the Bogus Steve Jobs Heart Attack Report 

“Selling first and asking questions later is the work of amateurs.”

Royalty Rate Doesn’t Change for Apple, Music Retailers 


The group representing music publishers had sought a per-song rate boost from 9.1 cents to 15 cents, a 66 percent increase. Certainly, nobody can predict what Apple will do, but at this point, it looks as if the company got what it wanted. In short, Apple won.

Can You Get a Good Cheesesteak in New York City? 

If a Philly expatriate like Jason Santa Maria says it’s good, it’s good. Hard to believe some of what his team of researchers discovered, like the kaiser rolls — kaiser rolls! — they were served at one joint. Glad to hear that several winners were found.

Kiwi — Wikipedia Client for iPhone 

Red Rome Logic’s Kiwi is a nice Wikipedia client for the iPhone. Article content is far more readable than the usual Wikipedia web pages, and Kiwi also allows you to save pages on your device for offline access. Normally $3, developer Tim Ritchey has dropped the price to $1 through this weekend in celebration of the end of the NDA.

A Touch of Cocoa: Inside the iPhone SDK 

Solid overview of the iPhone SDK by John Timmer.

Obama ’08: The Official iPhone and iPod Touch Application 

Official iPhone app from the Obama campaign, designed as a tool for people who want to get involved in the campaign. Written by a team of crackerjack Cocoa developers.

Kotaku Compares New Nintendo DSi to DS Lite 

The screen’s bigger and they’ve added two cameras, but the battery life is shorter.

Logbook 1.0 

New $13 client for Backpack’s status and log features; from SignalApps, a new shop focusing on client software for 37signals services.

Sony Vaio JS1 

New Sony all-in-one desktop PC and keyboard seem oddly familiar to me. Can’t place it, though.

Steve Ballmer Recommends Apple Separate iPhone Hardware and Software Businesses  

I’m sure they’ll get right on that.

NYT on the Credit Crisis 

Riveting reporting.

The Lake Wobegon Distribution 

This is why math nerds love baseball.

WebKit Web Inspector Redesign 

More great work from Apple’s WebKit team, including a new built-in JavaScript debugger.

Helvetica Revival Monopoly 

Speaking of Helvetica, this is gorgeous. (Via Chris Glass.)

New iPhone-Optimized Mobile Flickr Web Site 

The new version only appears if you’re using MobileSafari. If you’re not, take my word for it, it’s splendid. Maybe the best iPhone-optimized web site I’ve seen anywhere.

Typographical Interpolation: I have one niggle. They’re using Arial instead of Helvetica. There are reasonable arguments to be made for specifying Arial before Helvetica in CSS for a general-purpose web site, due to the way Helvetica renders on Windows. But for an iPhone-specific web site, there is no reason at all. There are two types of people in the world: those who can’t tell the difference between Arial and Helvetica, and those who despise Arial.

Craig Hockenberry on iPhone Inter-App Communication Using URL Schemes 

As we settle in to our glorious post-fucking-NDA world, Craig Hockenberry posts example code showing how iPhone apps can communicate with each other via custom URL schemes.

Apple Drops iPhone NDA for Released Software 


We have decided to drop the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for released iPhone software.

We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don’t steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.

However, the NDA has created too much of a burden on developers, authors and others interested in helping further the iPhone’s success, so we are dropping it for released software. Developers will receive a new agreement without an NDA covering released software within a week or so. Please note that unreleased software and features will remain under NDA until they are released.

There’s no byline attached, but it reads like one of those once-a-year open letters from Steve Jobs. Same formatting, including the use of Verdana 12px as the body font, as “Thoughts on Music”. Tell-tale sentence: “It has happened before.

Google Search, Circa 2001 

I love it:

In honor of our 10th birthday, we’ve brought back our oldest available index. Take a look back at Google in January 2001.

Only available for one month. All sorts of things I now take for granted weren’t there yet.