Linked List: October 2009

‘Sometimes Gruber Is Right’ 

Bottom line: this video from my pal Albert McMurry — with contributions from dozens of kind folks around the web — is precisely the sort of concentrated awesomeness that just might make my dream come true. Thank you all. Don’t be lazy.

Greg Kumparak Compares the iPhone 3GS and Motorola Droid 

Seems like a good way to put the Droid and Android 2.0 in context.

Engadget’s Droid Review 

Joshua Topolsky likes it, especially the hardware. The software clearly isn’t as polished as the iPhone’s, but the year-over-year improvement from last year’s HTC G1 to next week’s Droid is pretty remarkable.

Google Not Making Their Own Android Hardware 

Shooting down a report from the always-wrong Scott Moritz.

Ulysses 2.0 

My thanks to The Soulmen for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Ulysses 2.0, their Mac OS X semantic text editor for writers. It uses a plain text syntax that borrows from LaTeX, Setext, and Markdown, separating content from presentation. It uses a project metaphor that lets you group all related documents, and their notes, together in a single window — think of it as an IDE for writers. It also has several options for full-screen editing, a big boon for concentrating. Check out their screencasts for a tour of Ulysses’s interface and features.

Ulysses has a generous 60-day fully-featured demo period, and DF readers can save 25 percent off the regular price with coupon code “DARING”, good through the end of November (which, not coincidentally, is National Novel Writing Month).

It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers 

Speaking of Halloween, Colin Nissan has a festive piece at McSweeney’s.

To Sweet Hereafter 

More good writing from another good friend — a Halloween poem by Jim Coudal.

Thoughtful Piece From Brent Simmons 

Good writing from a good friend.

Jason Snell on Apple TV 3.0 

Jason Snell:

Steve Jobs said, “The reason I call [Apple TV] a hobby is, a lot of people have tried and failed to make it a business. And it’s a hard problem. So we’re trying. I think if we work on it and improve things over the next year, 18 months, we can crack that.”

That was 29 months ago. Apple still hasn’t cracked it. Apple TV 3.0 is a nice, mild update to an outdated piece of hardware that’s still not nearly as capable as it should be.

I’m with Snell. The good news is that the 3.0 software is a nice update for the existing hardware. The bad news is, the hardware is outdated, and isn’t really capable of the sort of killer features people are really hoping for in Apple TV.

Sprint: No Internet Tethering for Smartphones 

That’s a shame. Not sure though if he means no tether at all, or no tethering for “free” without an extra tethering charge.

Sprint Loses $478M, 135,000 Subscribers in Quarter 

Guess the Pre isn’t helping.

Updating iTunes Extras and LP Content for Your Apple TV 

You have to wait for updated versions of existing iTunes LP and Extras content before they’ll work on Apple TV 3.0.

Apple TV 3.0 Software Update 

New UI and adds support for the iTunes Extras (movies) and iTunes LP (music) formats. Screenshots of the new UI are here. Looks good to me — especially how they’ve moved “My Movies”, “My TV Shows”, etc. to the top of the menu lists. (And they’ve switched the system font from Lucida Grande to Helvetica.)

A Comparative Study of User Intellect Based on Anti-Productivity Applications Included in Operating Systems 

I’m a sucker for a good cheap shot like this.

One-Handed Computing With the iPhone 

Nice observation from Jason Kottke:

The easy single-handed operation of the iPhone is not one of its obvious selling points but is one of those little features that grows on you and becomes nearly indispensable. A portable networked computing and gaming device that can be easily operated with one hand can be used in a surprising variety of situations.

One-handed operation wasn’t feasible on stylus-based systems.

iTunes 9.0.2 Breaks WebOS Syncing Again 

At this point, it’d be news if a new version of iTunes didn’t break Palm’s WebOS syncing hack.

Wired: ‘An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All’ 

Splendid feature in Wired by Amy Wallace on the movement to skip childhood vaccinations:

The rejection of hard-won knowledge is by no means a new phenomenon. In 1905, French mathematician and scientist Henri Poincaré said that the willingness to embrace pseudo-science flourished because people “know how cruel the truth often is, and we wonder whether illusion is not more consoling.” Decades later, the astronomer Carl Sagan reached a similar conclusion: Science loses ground to pseudo-science because the latter seems to offer more comfort. “A great many of these belief systems address real human needs that are not being met by our society,” Sagan wrote of certain Americans’ embrace of reincarnation, channeling, and extraterrestrials. “There are unsatisfied medical needs, spiritual needs, and needs for communion with the rest of the human community.”

Looking back over human history, rationality has been the anomaly. Being rational takes work, education, and a sober determination to avoid making hasty inferences, even when they appear to make perfect sense. Much like infectious diseases themselves — beaten back by decades of effort to vaccinate the populace — the irrational lingers just below the surface, waiting for us to let down our guard.

How Critics Reviewed the Original Macintosh in 1984 

Somehow I missed this vintage 25-year claim chowder collection from Philip Elmer-DeWitt back in January. Here’s John C. Dvorak’s take on the Mac:

The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation — as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a “mouse”. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don’t want one of these new fangled devices.

Phillies Hope to End 364-Day World Series Drought 

The Onion:

“The bottom line is we’re a pretty inexperienced team, and for many of these young players, this will be the first time they’ve been to the World Series in a year.” Manuel said. “A lot has changed in that time. If you would have told me last October that this country would elect a black president before the Philadelphia Phillies made it back to the World Series, I would have laughed in your face.”

While Philadelphia players admitted the 11-month championship- winless streak has been difficult for them personally, most agreed that it’s the fans who’ve suffered most, enduring more than 500,000 minutes without a World Series victory.

JSON vs. Plist for Sending Web Service Data to iPhone Apps 

Sam Soffes:

What I found was very surprising. TouchJSON actually beat plists. It was slightly faster in every test I ran. This is awesome because plists have a much larger file size. They are usually about twice as big as JSON files due to all of the extra markup.

Count me in with Wolf: I wish Apple had just updated the old plist text format — which looks remarkably like JSON — instead of going XML.

(Another great web site design, too.)

Update 1: A bit of chirping on Twitter complaining that Soffes should have used the binary plist format, rather than XML. But how do you create binary plist data from web apps written in Ruby, Python, PHP or whatever, if they aren’t running on Mac OS X? I don’t think the binary plist format is documented by Apple.

Update 2: Dave Dribin points to this open source Core Foundation code, where the binary plist format is documented in the comments.

Phil Coffman on iPhone Photography 

Some great iPhone photography app recommendations from Phil Coffman. I hadn’t heard of either Mill Colour or TiltShift Generator before, and both are fabulous. I’m having fun with both.

(Also, I adore the design of Coffman’s web site. Just perfect.)

NYT Profile on Motorola’s Android Resurgence 

Good piece by Saul Hansell in the NYT on Motorola’s effort to build itself around Android smartphones, and the leadership of co-CEO Sanjay Jha. But just to note how different a position they’re in from Apple, note this bit on early prototypes of the Droid:

Verizon worried that the angular design of what was to be the Droid appealed much more to men than women. Motorola quickly rounded some of the phone’s edges and added a rubberized backing to create a softer feeling.

Can you imagine Apple taking industrial design feedback from a carrier?

eWeek: Google Working on Maps Navigation for iPhone 

Clint Boultron, reporting for eWeek:

Apple already offers similar GPS capabilities on its iPhone 3GS maps applications, which leverages Google Maps data. However, Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google, said Google is working to build a version of Google Maps Navigation for the iPhone.

Buzz Andersen on the Purportedly Upcoming ‘Twitter Peek’ Dedicated Twitter Device 

Interesting idea, but it’s a shame it’s a separate device from the regular email/SMS Peek. Integrated Twitter support would fit right in with a dedicated “messaging” device. (But I can’t imagine using Twitter without having a way to follow links to web pages.)

Engadget’s Motorola Droid First Impressions 

Video includes a side-by-side browser speed test with an iPhone 3GS; the 3GS wins, but not by much. Interestingly, browser scrolling in Android 2.0 seems to have far less “friction” than the iPhone — flick the page and it seems to scroll until you stop it.

The iPhone Is a Platform 

Nice piece from Paul Chapel:

A war? When did Apple start a war? I distinctly remember Steve Jobs saying he wanted 1 percent of the phone market. I don’t remember any rhetoric about invading Poland. Do you?

One of Those Classic Gartner Predictions 

From August 2006:

Vista will be the last version of Windows that exists in its current, monolithic form, according to Gartner. Instead, the research firm predicts, Microsoft will be forced to migrate Windows to a modular architecture tied together through hardware-supported virtualisation.

(Via Kontra.)

Jim Dalrymple on the iPhone Platform 

Jim Dalrymple:

The next version of the iPhone is already well underway and it will have cooler features than the existing models. Apple created a platform, not just a piece of hardware that uses the same old software. That’s a huge distinction.

If you want a parallel, try this. Apple had the most successful music player on the market with the iPod mini. Any other company executive would have given their right arm to have that device. What did Apple do? It dumped it. Apple stopped making its top-selling iPod and introduced the iPod nano in its place. Just when the competitors thought they had Apple in their sights, Apple completely changed the game.

Right. You know who thinks the iPhone 3GS stinks? Steve Jobs. No one is working harder on an “iPhone 3GS killer” than Apple.

Philip Elmer-Dewitt on Apple’s Advertising Budget 

$500 million for 2009, less than Dell’s or RIM’s ad budgets, and about one-third of Microsoft’s.

Garmin, TomTom Shares Sink On New Google Navigation Feature 

Ben Charny, reporting for the WSJ on the aftermath of Google’s announcement of maps navigation in Android 2.0:

The move sent shares of the top two navigation device makers reeling. Shares of Garmin fell 17.2% to $31.88 on very heavy trading, foiling any lift shares would have seen from an upgrade Wednesday from Goldman Sachs, which raised its Garmin rating to sell from conviction sell.

A Garmin spokesman wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, TomTom N.V. shares fell more than 20% to €8.11, a new 52-week low. The company also warned Wednesday that selling prices were 9% lower than it had forecast.

A TomTom spokesman was unavailable for comment.

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails from readers objecting to my earlier comment that the end is near for dedicated GPS devices. The biggest objection is that the dedicated devices store all the map data locally. That’s great, and I’m sure it’s essential for some people. But the writing is on the wall. Google is entering the field. Their service is going to be free. It is going to improve constantly. Surely, eventually, map data will be stored (or at least cached) locally on devices. Soon enough, Google’s service will be both free and superior. Garmin and TomTom are toast.

Peek, Low-Cost Email and SMS Device 

This might have been something five years ago. Can’t see it going anywhere today, though — it does email and SMS, but doesn’t even handle phone calls, let alone browse the web.

Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 

The imminent Droid will ship with built-in GPS maps navigation. Methinks the end is near for expensive dedicated GPS systems.

Scammers Distributing Fake Chrome OS Betas 

Wait a minute, Chrome OS ships with the Gnome desktop environment, OpenOffice, and GIMP? I thought the whole point was that it was purely web-based?

Update: Ah-ha, it’s a fake. Just some scammers hosting on Google Sites. No wonder I was confused. My apologies for the false alarm. I can’t imagine that Google is OK with this, but apparently this site has been here for two weeks.

Microsoft Retail Stores Selling PCs Sans Crapware 

Todd Bishop:

People visiting Microsoft’s new store in Scottsdale, Ariz., have started noticing something interesting, apart from its shameless similarities to Apple’s retail outlets. The computers on display in the Microsoft Store come without any run-of-the-mill “crapware” — the derisive term used for generic trial software and other unwanted programs that commonly clog new PCs when they’re shipped by computer makers.

(Is the term “derisive” or just blunt?)

The Mythical LSSetApplicationForItem 

Example code from Ben Artin of Fetch Softworks showing how to add a “usro” resource to a file for the “case when you need to make sure that a particular file will open with a particular app when the user double-clicks it in the Finder”. Note that “usro” resources are undocumented by Apple and subject to change at any time, but there’s no other way to get this behavior in Snow Leopard.

John Resig: ‘Google Groups Is Dead’ 

Public groups are swarmed by spammers. As Andy Baio quipped, “if you want to know which areas of big companies are being ignored, watch for spam taking over.”

I Dare You to Read This and Not Start Humming the Theme From You-Know-What 

You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

(Via Jim Ray.)


Chris Ware’s Halloween-themed cover and comic for this week’s issue of The New Yorker. So good.

Microsoft’s Online Services Division Losses Grow 

Charles Arthur:

But what about the Online Services division? Different story. $490m revenue — which is down from $520m in the same period last year — and losses of $480m, an increase against last year’s $381m loss.

In other words, for every $1 that Microsoft’s online services division brought in, it spent $2.

The harder they chase Google, the worse it gets for them.

Update: Silicon Alley Insider has a graph of Microsoft’s online division results since 2005.

Android 2.0 Highlights 

Tons of new features and improvements in the imminent new version of Android. The web browser appears to have caught up to MobileSafari in several ways, including HTML5 database and geolocation support, and double-tap to zoom. The email client adds support for Exchange and, moving ahead of the iPhone’s MobileMail, adds support for a combined “all accounts” inbox view. Check out the official video for a tour of the new features.

(Via Daniel Sandler.)

Mets Fans Have Choice of Two Evils in World Series 

A.G. Sulzberger on the dilemma faced by Mets fans:

Chuck Rose, the owner of the Pine Restaurant and Sports Bar near Citi Field, said he was so disheartened that he could not even choose between the Phillies and the Yankees. “I hope it rains for 40 days and 40 nights,” he said, adding that he might dedicate one television in the bar to a replaying of the 1986 World Series, when the Mets last won the championship.

As a Yankees fan, that’s how I felt about that ’86 Series.

Another Genius Move From Microsoft Marketing 


Turns out Seth MacFarlane isn’t PC enough to be a PC. Microsoft was set to sponsor a prime time special by the “Family Guy” creator as part of its Windows 7 media blitz, but was somehow surprised when the typically MacFarlane-esque fare didn’t exactly “fit with the Windows brand.”

Did they sign up to sponsor MacFarlane’s special without any familiarity with his work? I thought it was a good match, in that MacFarlane serially rips off The Simpsons, and Microsoft serially rips off Apple.

More on Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) 

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels on where Amazon’s new hosted MySQL Relational Database Service fits in with their other cloud storage services. (Via Dan Benjamin.)

El Vetica 

Mule Design’s latest t-shirt:

Celebrating the career of Mexico’s only typographer/luchador. El Vetica, also know as El Kernudo, held the Mexican Inter-Continental belt for an unprecedented 7 years, from 1977–84.

Amazon Relational Database Service 

MySQL as a web service from Amazon. Interesting.

A Graphic History of Newspaper Circulation Over the Last Two Decades 

Breathtaking declines this year, and the trend is gruesome.

Transcript From Mark McGwire’s First Session as Cardinals Hitting Coach 

“See, what you want to be doing is hitting dingers.”

In One Man’s Garage, Pan Am Still Makes the Going Great 

Candace Jackson reports for the WSJ on Anthony Toth, a Pan Am aficionado who has recreated the first-class cabin from a Pan Am 747 in his garage. Awesome.

Mark McGwire Rejoins St. Louis Cardinals as Team Doctor 

[Insert your own comeback joke regarding Alex Rodriguez here.]

Microsoft, Google, and the Bear 

Following up on his aforelinked story in the NYT today, Saul Hansell makes the case that Google’s rival for Android is not the iPhone, but specifically Windows Mobile:

“If you asked me to go to a venture capitalist and pitch the Android business model, I don’t think I could,” said Robert J. Bach, the president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, at a meeting with reporters earlier this month. […]

“If you get Android, you get an operating system that is a version of Linux and a few tools,” Mr. Bach said. “That’s fine. But what are you going to do as your music experience? What will you do for your photos experience?”

So when everyone thinks about great mobile music and photo experiences, they think of Windows Mobile? This is another one of those quotes from a Microsoft executive where it’s scary to consider that maybe Bach actually believes what he’s saying.

Microsoft’s angle is that because Android is freely available to handset makers, that Google has no business model for Android. But they do: search advertising. (Another case where I wonder whether Microsoft says this because they think people are stupid and will believe whatever Microsoft says, or, worse, if their executives actually believe this.) What Google wants are lots of mobile search queries. The one angle Hansell misses, which further makes the point that Android is not targeted against the iPhone, is that the iPhone generates a ton of mobile search queries for Google. Apple may see Android as a competitor, but Google loves the iPhone.

NYT Story on Major Cellphone Makers Switching From Windows Mobile to Android 

Saul Hansell, reporting for the NYT:

Cellphone makers that have used Windows Mobile to run their top-of-the- line smartphones — including Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson — are now also making Android devices. Twelve Android handsets have been announced this year, with dozens more expected next year. Motorola has dropped Windows Mobile from its line entirely in a switch to Android. HTC, a major cellphone maker, expects half its phones sold this year to run Android. Dell is using Android for its entry into the cellphone market.

This is actually sugarcoating it for Microsoft. HTC isn’t merely “a major cellphone maker” — HTC is the single biggest maker of Windows Mobile phones. Just eight months ago, Microsoft revealed that despite having 50 handset “partners”, HTC was responsible for over 80 percent of Windows Mobile phone sales.

Indeed, a J. D. Power & Associates survey found that Windows Mobile had the lowest satisfaction rating among customers of any smartphone operating system. The iPhone has by far the most satisfying software, the study found. Android is a distant second, followed closely by BlackBerry’s operating system. Windows Mobile scored below average on every attribute, said Kirk Parsons, director of the study, especially in ease of operation, speed and stability.

I love that “especially”. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Retrevo Survey Results Indicate That PC Users Hope Apple Tablet Has Low Price 

I’m sure Apple’s executives will take these survey results very seriously, given that they come from the same company that, just a few weeks ago, predicted doom and gloom for Apple’s back-to-school laptop sales because the kids all want “netbooks”.

I hear next week’s Retrevo survey will show that people in hell want ice water.

Public Citizen: ‘In Google We Trust? Think Again’ 

Joe Newman of Public Citizen:

How much of your personal information is Google willing to turn over to a third party without a fight? We’ve asked a California federal court to unseal a report that would give customers of the world’s largest Internet company an answer to that question. [...] A Gmail user who did nothing wrong had his or her account shut down because of the bank’s monumental screw up. And Google, a company that basically prints its own cash, didn’t lift a finger to protect the rights of one of its users.

Harry McCracken Surveys the Field of E-Readers 

So many options, but I just can’t see how this product category has long-term legs.

What Startups Are Really Like 

Paul Graham:

Unconsciously, everyone expects a startup to be like a job, and that explains most of the surprises. It explains why people are surprised how carefully you have to choose cofounders and how hard you have to work to maintain your relationship. You don’t have to do that with coworkers. It explains why the ups and downs are surprisingly extreme. In a job there is much more damping. But it also explains why the good times are surprisingly good: most people can’t imagine such freedom. As you go down the list, almost all the surprises are surprising in how much a startup differs from a job.

Larry Dignan on Verizon’s Quarterly Results 

Decent numbers overall, but:

However, AT&T added customers at a faster pace in the third quarter on the strength of the iPhone. Verizon is hoping to change that equation via a partnership with Google. John Killian, CFO of Verizon, characterized the company’s wireless performance as strong and said there “are plenty of revenue growth opportunities” ahead. It’s clear Verizon is betting big on Android.

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate how important the iPhone is to AT&T.

Tim O’Reilly on the Switch to Drupal 

More than just a win for Drupal, it’s a win for open source software in general.

Heck of a Job, Schwartzy 

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, back in June 2007:

“In fact this week you’ll see that Apple is announcing at their Worldwide Developer Conference that ZFS has become the file system in Mac OS X.”

Symbian Executive Lee Williams Rips Into Google’s Android 

Symbian executive Lee Williams, in a video interview with Om Malik:

“I don’t view Apple as evil, just greedy. Google... come on! When you have to say in your motto that we’re not evil, right away the first question in my mind is, ‘Why do you have to tell me that?’”

Not your typical corporate-speak, to say the least. Worth watching.

Screenshots of System 7.0 

Coudal linked to these the other day, “apropos of nothing”. It really was a beautiful system. Elegant and minimal.

Yankees Win 40th American League Pennant, Head to World Series Against Phillies 

William C. Rhoden:

Beginning Wednesday, the Yankees will try to win their first championship since 2000 when they take on the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.

At a number of levels, this will be a fascinating confrontation. You get the sense that Philadelphia — the fans, not the team — has been looking forward to taking on a glamour franchise that routinely fields the best team that money can buy. New Yorkers and Philadelphians regularly commute to, and hang out, in each other’s backyard.

It’s an epic matchup. The last NL team to win back-to-back championships was the 75-76 Cincinnati Reds. So either the Phillies become back-to-back champs by beating the Yankees, the most storied franchise in the sport and the team with the best record this season, or, the Yankees return to form and win their first championship in nine years, doing so against the returning champs.

Jeff Bonwick Confirms That Apple Abandoned ZFS Over Licensing Issues 

Bonwick is the lead developer of ZFS at Sun.

Louis Gerbarg on Apple and ZFS 

Best piece on the Apple/ZFS/next-gen-FS situation I’ve seen anywhere, spanning everything from the potential licensing problems to the technical ways that ZFS is not ideal for Apple’s needs.


My thanks to Edovia for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote TouchPad, their excellent remote control track pad/keyboard for iPhones and iPod Touches. Just turn on screen sharing on your Mac (in the Sharing panel of System Prefs), and you’re ready to go. For mouse control, TouchPad works just like a track pad, and its keyboard includes Mac-specific keys like Control, Option, Command, Tab, and Escape.

It also has a dedicated remote control mode for use with Front Row. If you have a Mac Mini hooked up to your TV, you’re nuts if you don’t have TouchPad.

Regular price is $3.99, but TouchPad is currently on sale for $1.99 on the App Store.

MG Siegler’s App Store Hypocrisy Update 

Heck of a job, Apple.

(Includes semi-NSFW screenshots from an “Asian Boobs” app Apple did accept into the store.)

Pre-Order Link for Magic Mouse From Amazon 

Get a multi-touch mouse, skip the sales tax, and make me rich with Amazon kickback lucre.

AdMob’s August 2009 Mobile Metrics Report 

Perhaps the most telling thing in these numbers: Windows Mobile has the same share as WebOS. The full report is available in PDF format.

Zed’s Dead, Baby. Zed’s Dead. 

Apple’s official project to port ZFS to Mac OS X has been canned:

The ZFS project has been discontinued. The mailing list and repository will also be removed shortly.

The writing’s been on the wall for this ever since 10.6 shipped with less support for ZFS than 10.5. There was unofficial “kinda sorta works” support for ZFS in 10.5, but none in 10.6.

Word on the street in Cupertino is that dropping ZFS wasn’t an engineering decision, but a legal one, and it might have had something to do with Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. I don’t know if it was a problem with the terms of the CDDL license, general distrust/dislike for Oracle, or what — only that the word came down from legal that ZFS was a no-go. Update: Perhaps it was the NetApp patent lawsuit against ZFS.

The flip side is that I’ve heard that Apple’s file systems team is full steam ahead on their own next-generation file system. And, perhaps not coincidentally, they’re hiring.

Rob Enderle on the Magic Mouse 

Rob Enderle on Apple:

Their big news this week was a couple of PCs, a new keyboard and a multi-touch mouse. This last will likely go down in history as one of the lamest devices yet as they should know, given the iPhone, that touch is connected to the screen and not anything else. They likely would have done better putting fir [sic] on the damn thing and building it to fart the star spangled banner at least that would have been patriotic.

I’m coming around to the idea that Enderle’s really a genius and his doofus routine is a Stephen Colbert-esque schtick.

Feel That Microsoft Retail Excitement 

YouTube video of Lisa Seigneur, a manager at Microsoft’s new Scottsdale Arizona retail store, giving away free Zunes yesterday to the six customers who showed up early.

Where was she two years ago? Selling iPods to Oprah and Bono as a manager at Apple’s Michigan Avenue store in Chicago.

New Round of ‘Get a Mac’ Ads Directly Take on Windows 7 Launch 

Apple’s pushing the “if you have to go through a major migration to upgrade, why not just upgrade to a Mac?” angle. If you stop and think about it, it’s really rather odd for a company to be adding to the hype surrounding a major product launch from a competitor. But this is exactly what I was getting at last week when I wrote that Windows 7 might be good for both Microsoft and Apple.

GitHub Flavored Markdown 

The specific case of “user myopia” in the aforelinked piece from Jeff Atwood was related to Markdown formatting for submissions to Super User. Markdown’s popularity — still growing — is incredibly gratifying. But I never intended for it to be used by people who don’t actually know the Markdown formatting rules. I created Markdown for my own use, and, well, I know the formatting rules pretty well.

For use in situations like user-submitted comments, GitHub Flavored Markdown is a superior variant. It changes just three rules from regular Markdown, all of which make for a better set of formatting rules for people who don’t even know the rules.

Jeff Atwood on ‘User Myopia’ 

Jeff Atwood:

The plain fact is users will not read anything you put on the screen.

That’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. It’s not that you shouldn’t bother using words, or that you shouldn’t sweat the details on your UI copywriting, but simply that you should keep in mind that many users won’t read a damn one of them.

Lukas Mathis on Whether iPhone Settings Should Go in the Settings App 

Lukas Mathis:

  1. If you can at all avoid them, don’t offer preferences.
  2. If you absolutely need to offer preferences, put them into your app.

It’s a subtle distinction, but it’s worth noting that in iPhone OS, they’re called settings, whereas in Mac OS, they’ve always been preferences. Settings are often unavoidable — things like usernames and passwords for online services must be adjustable.

And as for which way the wind is blowing, note that even Loren Brichter, who created the web site back in December 2008, has moved the settings for Tweetie 2 out of the Settings app and into Tweetie itself.

Unofficial Simplenote Backup 

Excellent free utility from Alex Payne — back up your Simplenote content in your choice of plain text, CSV, JSON, XML, YAML, and Evernote archive formats.

Gene Munster: Nokia Only Wants $200 Million From Apple in iPhone Patent Suit 

Jay Yarow, reporting for Silicon Alley Insider:

Nokia is looking to collect a 1%-2% patent royalty — worth around $6-$12 — off each iPhone sold, according to a note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster.

He says it’s pocket change for both companies, but I wouldn’t count on Apple settling it.

Apple’s Smartphone Profit Share 

Follow-up to the last post:

Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi estimates that Apple, though it is only the fifth-largest handset vendor, claimed nearly a third of handset industry profits in the first half of 2009.

And that’s from before the release of the 3GS.

More on the Nokia Patent Lawsuit Against Apple 

Om Malik:

But the timing of the suit also underscores the degree to which Apple has overtaken Nokia in the smartphone space. Nokia last week reported its first quarterly net loss in more than a decade as its North American sales tumbled by nearly a third. Apple’s momentum, meanwhile, just keeps growing.

Nokia still sells way more phones than Apple does, even counting only “smartphones”, but the iPhone sells for a far, far higher average selling price than Nokia’s phones. In terms of profit from handset sales, Apple is either already ahead of Nokia or soon will be.

According to these numbers from pseudonymous Apple analyst “Deagol”, the average selling price for an iPhone last quarter was $612. Nokia’s average selling price per handset last quarter was about $93.

Welcome to the Microsoft Store 

It’s creepy, as in like stalker-ish creepy, just how blatantly they’ve copied Apple. (Via Cabel Sasser.)

Om Malik on the iPhone’s Importance to AT&T 

Om Malik, on AT&T’s quarterly results:

In the third quarter, the company added 2 million new wireless subscribers to reach a total of 81.6 million. Further, some 4.3 million 3G-integrated devices were added to the AT&T network, of which the iPhone accounted for 3.2 million activations.

Three out of every four new 3G devices added to AT&T’s network for the quarter were iPhones.

Volkswagen Launches Free Version of Real Racing to Promote 2010 GTI 

Clever move from Volkswagen — they’re giving away a bespoke version of the iPhone racing game Real Racing to promote the new 2010 GTI.

‘That’s Why They’ve Got 75,000 Applications’ 

From the bottom of an AP story about today’s big release of Windows 7:

“Let’s face it, the Internet was designed for the PC. The Internet is not designed for the iPhone,” Ballmer said. “That’s why they’ve got 75,000 applications — they’re all trying to make the Internet look decent on the iPhone.”

Of course Ballmer’s going to downplay the iPhone’s success, just like how Apple COO Tim Cook downplays the release of Windows 7 earlier in the story. But this just doesn’t even make sense. The iPhone’s success is really getting to him.

Nokia Sues Apple, Claims iPhone Infringes on Slew of Patents 

If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em.

Phillies Rout Dodgers to Head to World Series 

They become the first World Series champs to return the next year since the 2001 Yankees. Phil Sheridan makes the case that they’re the greatest team, from any sport, in Philadelphia history.

Macminicolo: ‘The State of the Mac Mini’ 

Who better to write about the new Mac Mini server than the guys who specialize in colocating Mac Minis as servers?

Google Adds Live Public Twitter Feed, Too 

Marissa Mayer:

Given this new type of information and its value to search, we are very excited to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results.

I guess they weren’t kidding about the Bing deal being non-exclusive.

Apple Stock Hits an All-Time High 

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Apple’s market cap will surpass Microsoft’s by the end of 2010. (Also worth noting: Apple has enough cash on hand — cash — to buy every share of Dell.)

Microsoft is paying Twitter for non-exclusive access to the entire public Twitter feed. You can try it here. (My verdict: the results are interesting, but the design/presentation is a mess.)

Fear of Upgrades 

Marco Arment:

Our industry has collectively taught average people over the last few decades that computers should be feared and are always a single misstep from breaking. We’ve trained them to expect the working state to be fragile and temporary, and experience from previous upgrades has convinced them that they shouldn’t mess with anything if it works.

TLA Video 

A sad local note: the best video rental store in Philadelphia is closing.

TidBITS Issue #1 

19 years and, as of this week, 1,000 issues ago. Here’s Adam Engst’s announcement of issue #1 from comp.sys.mac. “A hard disk is recommended, but not necessary since each week’s issue of TidBITS will never be more than 40K.”

Five Surprising House Hacks 

From Merlin Labs.

Dan Benjamin’s 2009 Podcasting Equipment Guide 

Worth reading just for the photo at the top.

Nook Based on Android 

A Nook detail I missed yesterday: according to Barnes and Nobles’s comparison page, it’s the “first Android-based eReader”. (Thanks to Marc Zeeder.)

Freeverse Concludes That App Store ‘Top Grossing’ List Includes In-App Purchasing Sales 

Their Flick Fishing app is behind their Top Gun app in the regular sales list, but their relative positions are flipped in the top-grossing list, which indicates that the top-grossing list takes in-app purchasing sales into account. This, in turn, means that free apps which offer in-app purchasing will be eligible for the top-grossing list.

(We’re left to suss this out for ourselves because Apple does not state how the top-grossing apps list is compiled.)

Lost in Translations 

Nice piece by Wil Shipley on localizing Cocoa apps, including his own clever technique for doing so without maintaining separate XIB files for each separate localization.

iDon’t Know How to Use Proper Apostrophes Consistently 

Tony Delgrosso:

You know, if Verizon is going to pour millions of dollars into rolling out their iPhone-killing “Droid” handset, they could have at least hired an ad agency who knows how and when to use proper apostrophes and primes, and who doesn’t mix them multiple times in the same television ad.

Update: Raza Syed has a better illustration.

Jason Snell on the New iMac Lineup 

The new 27-inch model looks amazing, with a 2560⁠ ⁠×⁠ ⁠1440 pixel count. But it also makes me wonder why we still haven’t seen a new 30-inch Cinema Display.

Update: The new dual-core 27-inch iMac is $1699. The 30-inch Cinema Display is $1799. As Jeff Mancuso notes, it’s like buying a nice display and getting a built-in Mac for free.

What We Mean by ‘Bad User Experience’ 

Steven Frank:

It’s not just that the iPhone has fancy woo-woo transitions and purty graphics; it runs all the way down the software stack. For example, when I tap on something, I don’t have to hover for five seconds wondering “now did it get that tap, or do I have to do it again?” This is something other platforms are still struggling with. When we say you have a bad experience, this is the sort of thing we mean. It has little to do with features, and everything to do with core functionality.

What matters is how things work in actual use, not how they’re supposed to work.

Apple Lost Rights to ‘Mighty Mouse’ Trademark for Input Devices 

I suspect they would have used a new name for the Magic Mouse anyway, but even the former Mighty Mouse is now called the “Apple Mouse”.


Jason Santa Maria kindly invited me to write a short piece for his October series on candy. How could I resist? Love that purple.

Jamie Zawinski Gets an iPhone 

Syncing bugs and performance problems led him to abandon the Palm Pre:

If the Calendar app is not running, it takes 10-15 seconds to get from “I clicked on the Calendar icon” to “I can see today’s events”. And then, switching from the display of one day to the next takes 2+ seconds (and it doesn’t buffer swipes, so you have to keep trying).


It seems to me that the only way this phone is going to be usable is for it to get literally 10× faster across the board. There was a speed improvement of maybe 10% between WebOS 1.0 and 1.2.1, so I think it’s safe to assume that they’ve already picked the low-hanging fruit. I don’t expect the performance of this phone to be even remotely suitable for every day use for at least a year.

It’s worth recalling that Apple had a similar idea to WebOS for the iPhone, where certain apps would run as Dashboard-style widgets, written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Apple abandoned the idea in the six months between the iPhone’s January 2007 announcement and when it went on sale at the end of June, concluding that performance for such apps was unacceptable and that they should go native Cocoa across the board. And Apple was only going to do it for small apps, like Weather, Stocks, and Calculator, not the flagship apps like Calendar and Mail.

Barnes and Noble Announce $259 ‘Nook’ E-Book Reader 

Good name and much nicer looking hardware than the Kindle, with a color touchscreen underneath the e-paper display instead of the Kindle’s clunky looking keyboard. Their tech specs comparison is explicitly aimed against the Kindle. Supports Wi-Fi, too — which is good, because the Nook’s 3G is provided by AT&T.

New Apple Remote 

No longer ships with iMacs, it’s available separately for $19. Wonder why they moved play/pause out of the center?

Analyzing the Analysts 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports on the estimates from the leading Apple financial analysts. Andy Zaky and “Deagol” were pretty close, but were still low. (Deagol has a nice post-mortem here.)

I’m not surprised that so many of the analysts were way off overall. I’m only surprised that so many of them were so far off on estimates for iPhones sold. The two 3GS models are selling like hotcakes, and it’s not hard to find people at Apple who’ll tell you that.

Financial Wizard of the Week: Jim Cramer 

You could make a lot of money by doing the opposite of what Jim Cramer tells you to do.

How Low Will Apple Go on Price? 

Peter Burrows at BusinessWeek:

But Oppenheimer repeatedly said that the company planned to deliver “greater value to consumers” in the quarters ahead. He cited lower ASPs (average selling prices) as a reason why those record gross margins will come down from 34% to more like 30% in the current quarter. And COO Tim Cook talked about “closing the umbrella,” so that rivals with lesser products couldn’t steal business simply by offering lower pricetags.

Intriguing, to say the least. I can’t see them reducing iPhone or iPod prices now, so it must be about Macs. But we’ve seen Apple pessimistically forecast lower margins before, too — they like to set expectations low.

Dan Lyons Apparently Thinks Yours Truly Hasn’t Heard About the Redesigned Plastic MacBooks, Redesigned (‘Impressive’) iMacs, Updated Minis (Including One That Ships With Mac OS X Server), the Multi-Touch Magic Mouse, and, as the Wildcard I’m-Not-Sure-I-Really-Believe-It-Myself Out-There Rumor, Maybe Even Some Sort of Mentioned-Nowhere-Else-But-in-This-Very-Headline Multi-Touch Trackpad Gadget for Desktop Macs That Apple Is Set to Release Tomorrow Morning 

Unseemly for the Fake Steve character to be so wrong (or, frankly, even to care) about what I know.

Apple Reports Fourth Quarter 2009 Results 

Another record quarter:

The Company posted revenue of $9.87 billion and a net quarterly profit of $1.67 billion, or $1.82 per diluted share. These results compare to revenue of $7.9 billion and net quarterly profit of $1.14 billion, or $1.26 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. [...]

Apple sold 3.05 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, representing a 17 percent unit increase over the year-ago quarter. The Company sold 10.2 million iPods during the quarter, representing an eight percent unit decline from the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 7.4 million iPhones in the quarter, representing seven percent unit growth over the year-ago quarter.

More Macs and more iPhones than in any previous quarter in history. In a worldwide recession. With the holiday quarter still to come. Yowza.

Update: Check out those after-hours numbers on the stock price: up 7 percent as I type this.

Upcoming BlackBerry Watch? 

This is a prank, right? Why would the display occupy so little of the surface?

Fake Steve on Microsoft’s Collapse 

Nice Fake Steve piece by Dan Lyons, simultaneously providing spot-on business analysis of Microsoft’s slide into technical irrelevance and media analysis of this profile by Ashlee Vance from yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, which (the NYT profile) was remarkably negative. Be sure also to read his follow-up on the Times’s “objectivity” straitjacket.

Genesis Does What Nintendon’t 

Forerunner of Verizon’s “iDon’t” campaign? (Thanks to DF reader Aditya Sood.)

Boy Genius Report on the Motorola Droid 

BGR has hands-on first impressions of the Droid:

It’s thin. Just slightly thicker than an iPhone 3GS and the thinnest QWERTY-slider we’ve ever seen.

That makes me wonder just how thin they could make one without a hardware keyboard.

Mozilla Working on Mystery iPhone App 

Om Malik:

Earlier today when I interviewed Mozilla CEO John Lilly onstage at the Play conference, an annual confab organized by the students of the Haas School of Business at the University of Berkeley, he hinted that the company was going to launch a brand new application for the iPhone, though he declined to reveal any details. “Mozilla will release an app to the iPhone App Store in the next few weeks,” Lilly said. “It’ll surprise people.”

Malik guesses that it has something to do with Weave, Mozilla’s still-in-progress sync service. That’d be my guess as well. But I strongly doubt that they’re working on a mobile web browser, as Kevin C. Tofel guesses here. Tofel points to the fact that Apple has approved numerous third-party web browser apps, but what he overlooks is that all of those apps are using the iPhone’s system-standard WebKit framework for rendering and JavaScript. And none of those browsers run in the background, like MobileSafari does. If Mozilla is working on an iPhone browser of some sort using the system WebKit framework, no problem. And I suppose it’s possible they’re working on an iPhone port of their Fennec mobile rendering engine — but I’d be flabbergasted if Apple were to approve that.

There are third-party web browser apps in the App Store, but there are no third-party HTML rendering engines or JavaScript interpreters.

Regarding the Pricing of the Wolfram Alpha iPhone App 

Wolfram has released a native iPhone app for their Wolfram Alpha “computational knowledge engine”. It looks good, but what’s getting the most attention is the price: $50. MG Siegler says it should be $5 or $10. Rafe Needleman says it’s overpriced.

I haven’t bought it, but I’m glad they’ve set the price high. There’s widespread consensus that the current race-to-the-bottom in App Store pricing discourages the development of deep, significant applications. If all anyone is buying are quick-hit apps, then all anyone will make are quick-hit apps. We can’t have it both ways, folks. By pricing the app at $50, Wolfram is clearly saying, “This app is significant.”

It’ll be interesting to see how they do on the top-grossing list. Maybe it won’t work, but I’m glad to see someone try.

Emoji RubyGem 

New Ruby gem by Ryan Orr, making sense out of the emoji chaos:

There are 3 carriers (NTT DoCoMo, SoftBank & Au by KDDI) who’ve all created their own set of emoji glyphs in differing areas of the private-use range Unicode character space. Basic emoji supports 176 glyphs plus an additional 76 for C-HTML 4.0 for a total of 252. The iPhone — which uses the SoftBank implementation — supports 471 emoji glyphs and to top it off, Apple and Google have been working on a standards proposal for inclusion in ISO/IEC 10646 which proposes 722 glyphs in total. Confused yet? Right then.

With millions of mobile phones supporting emoji & Internet connections, web developers want to take advantage of the extended glyphs in the data they send to mobile devices but in the Ruby community there doesn’t seem to be a clear library that implements all 4 standards. Hence Emoji for Ruby.

Roger Ebert on ‘Rashomon’ 

Ebert on Rashomon:

Its very title has entered the English language, because, like “Catch-22,” it expresses something for which there is no better substitute.

Raphaël: Open Source JavaScript Vector Graphics Library 

Impressive work by Dmitry Baranovskiy. Many of the demos work just fine on the iPhone, too. (Via Andy Baio.)

Verizon Unveils Teaser for Upcoming Android 2.0 ‘Droid’ Phone, Pitched as Direct iPhone Rival 


  1. The whole site is Flash.
  2. The animation is pretty close to the commercial they showed during tonight’s Yankees-Angels game, which (I’ve heard) will be in heavy rotation during football games tomorrow.
  3. Those “iDon't”s, with the straight primes instead of proper apostrophes, make the commercial look slapdash.
  4. Seems pretty clear that Verizon isn’t getting the iPhone any time soon.
  5. The small print notes that “Droid” is a registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd., licensed to Verizon.
  6. It’ll be running Android 2.0.

Lastly, the big point: “Droid” is going to be a Verizon-owned brand. It’s purportedly a Motorola-manufactured phone, but Verizon is the licensee of the “Droid” trademark. (Which name, by the way, strikes me as the perfect name for an Android OS phone — sort of implicitly establishes it as the Android phone.) That’s the big thing. Verizon doesn’t see itself as a mere carrier for other companies’ phones. It sees itself as being bigger than the phones. It’s Verizon-vs.-Apple in this spot, not Verizon-vs.-AT&T.

Damned Fireball 

Some Grease Monkey-fueled solace from Greg Knauss, for those of you with sensitive baseball proclivities.

Brian Lam Throws a Fit Because RIM Didn’t Send Gizmodo a Storm 2 Review Unit 

Hard to believe any company wouldn’t put Gizmodo at the top of their list for review units after reading this thoughtful well-reasoned piece by Brian “I Guarantee the iPhone Will Be Released the Monday Before Christmas 2006” Lam.

Update: It certainly could be that RIM knows the Storm 2 is a clunker, and they suspected that Gizmodo’s reviewers would flatly say so, and so they didn’t send a review unit simply to avoid a sure-fire bad review. Product reviews are without question the best part of Gizmodo (and Engadget). But that’s not how Lam’s diatribe reads. Lam feels insulted, but rather than say so, he says instead that RIM has insulted Gizmodo’s readers, which I find humorous in that Lam is the guy who has so much respect for Gizmodo readers that, for instance, when he found out that Cisco was going to announce some sort of slapdash “iPhone” VOIP dingus in December 2006 in an effort to protect their iPhone trademark, Lam let them (i.e. trusting Gizmodo readers) believe for an entire weekend that Apple was announcing the iPhone that coming Monday — a stunt that converted trust into extra page views.

Pzizz Relax (iTunes Link) 

My thanks to Pzizz Relax for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Pzizz Relax is a $3 iPhone app designed to help you relax for refreshing afternoon “power naps”, with music, sound, and positive affirmations. Adjustable nap durations and unique soundtracks each time you use it. The UI is obvious and convenient.

Spelling ‘HTML5’ 

I’ve been confused for at least a year about whether it’s “HTML5” or “HTML 5”. The answer is “HTML5”.

Sony Ericsson Quarterly Loss Grows 

The AP:

Mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson said Friday its losses widened to €164 million ($245 million) on sagging sales in the third quarter, and announced new financing from external investors. [...]

Sony Ericsson said it had strengthened its balance sheet by securing €455 million ($676 million) in external financing facilities, primarily from parent companies Sony and Ericsson.

Two thoughts: (a) This is what happens to a phone maker today that isn’t building on a solid software platform — even one like Sony Ericsson, which has always made delightful hardware; and (b) Sony Ericsson’s “external investors” are Sony and Ericsson?

Dive Into HTML5: Video on the Web 

You may recall a few months ago I posted a slew of links related to the new <video> tag in HTML5. My obsession was fueled by two things: (a) that adding built-in official support for video in HTML5 was a great idea, one of the very best new things in the spec; and (b) that, due to the convoluted situation surrounding audio and video codecs, it was utterly unclear how exactly one should or even could use it, even if only targeting Firefox and WebKit-based browsers.

I had the idea that I should figure it all out and document it. I gave up. Luckily for all of us, Mark Pilgrim did not, and his new chapter on video for his in-progress Dive Into HTML5 is comprehensive — and as usual, written with clarity and style. This is a must-bookmark reference for anyone who makes web sites.

Baby Struck by Train, Unharmed 

No hoax here. Just plain old-fashioned holy shit!

Marco Arment on the New In-App Purchasing Policy 

Good overview of what the changes mean for developers.

Daniel Tenner on Google Wave 

Strongest case I’ve seen yet for what Google Wave might be good for. One quibble with Tenner’s argument, though. He writes:

Wave is built for the corporate environment. It’s a tool for getting work done.

I think you can replace “corporate” with “team”.

Apple Now Allowing In-App Purchases for Free iPhone Apps (Link Requires iPhone Developer Account) 

Just got a mass email from Apple to iPhone developers, which states:

In App Purchase is being rapidly adopted by developers in their paid apps. Now you can use In App Purchase in your free apps to sell content, subscriptions, and digital services.

You can also simplify your development by creating a single version of your app that uses In App Purchase to unlock additional functionality, eliminating the need to create Lite versions of your app. Using In App Purchase in your app can also help combat some of the problems of software piracy by allowing you to verify In App Purchases.

This is a major policy change. Prior to today, free apps were not allowed to use in-app purchasing. As of 10 minutes ago, developers can now make “lite” apps that are free which let you pay to upgrade to a full version from within the app itself.

The App Store has been hard to predict so far, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is going to be a very big deal. I think soon, many (most?) apps will be free in “lite” form, with an in-app upgrade option to a full version.

Jonathan Stark’s ‘Building iPhone Apps With HTML, CSS, and JavaScript’ 

It seems mostly under-publicized and under-utilized, but Apple fully supports a way to publish iPhone apps that doesn’t involve the App Store at all: optimized-for-the-iPhone web apps. You can get an icon on the home screen, operate off-line, store data locally, and more. For anyone who wants to use JavaScript and other web technologies to develop for the iPhone, this is in many ways a better route than the upcoming Flash CS5 compiler.

Jonathan Stark is writing a book for O’Reilly on iPhone web apps, and the contents (currently in “beta”) are available for free on the web.

Update: Fireballed. Here’s Google’s cached version.

Collaboration Is Not Communication 

Nice insight on Wave’s live-typing feature from SubEthaEdit co-developer Martin Pittenauer:

Google Wave is — in its current form — “next generation wiki”, not “next generation email”. That’s way unsexy as a marketing slogan, but would emphasize collaboration instead of communication.

Nokia Posts Third-Quarter Loss of €559 Million 


Nokia Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, had its first net loss since the company began reporting quarterly in 1996, hurt by costs related to a joint venture with Siemens AG and weaker demand.

The net loss totaled 559 million euros ($834 million), after a profit of 1.09 billion euros a year earlier. Sales declined 20 percent to 9.8 billion euros, missing the average estimate of 10.03 billion euros in a Bloomberg analyst survey. Analysts had anticipated a profit of 367 million euros.


Exploded iPhone Settings Icon Shirt 

Fantastic t-shirt design by Sebastiaan de With, now available for just $20.

Amazon Introduces Same-Day Delivery 

Brad Stone:

On Thursday morning, took another step in its effort to bring instant gratification to its customers, introducing a new “Local Express Delivery Option.” If an eligible item is ordered between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (depending on the city) Amazon will have it delivered on the same day. To start out, the e- commerce giant is rolling out the service in seven cities — New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, Baltimore, Las Vegas and Seattle. (With Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix to come soon).

Costs just $6 if you’re a Prime member.

Sublime Text 

A new Windows text editor with clever original features and a graceful UI. Never thought I’d write those words. I’m particularly intrigued by the “minimap” — a zoomed-out view of the entire file. (Via Alex Payne.)

Chris Ziegler’s Motorola Cliq Review 

On the other hand, reviewing the Cliq for Engadget, Chris Ziegler doesn’t like the on-screen keyboard:

The screen can only be characterized as the strangest capacitive screen we’ve ever used, because it feels... well, resistive. We found it usable but perhaps the balkiest of any Android phone to date, giving the user plenty of motivation to slide open the keyboard rather than trying to deal with the virtual one. Although it’s nothing more than a reskinned version of the default Cupcake keyboard, it was basically impossible to use without injecting enough mistakes to make it more trouble than it was worth — a problem we haven’t had (at least not to this extent) on the myTouch.

Mossberg Reviews the BlackBerry Storm 2 and Android-Based Motorola Cliq 

Two notes. One, I’d imagine neither BlackBerry nor Motorola is feeling good about the fact that their phones had to share a single review with each other, a clear indication that Mossberg considers both to be also-rans. Two is this bit on typing on the Cliq:

My biggest gripe was with the physical keyboard, which I found cramped and hard to use. The top row is too close to the bottom of the screen and, on the bottom row, I kept hitting the symbols key when I was aiming for “M” or “N.” So I found myself constantly resorting to the virtual on-screen keyboard, which worked pretty well.

So for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard, here we are two years later and Walt Mossberg is pretty much saying that the Cliq’s hardware keyboard is a waste of space.

Microsoft Confirms Data Recovery for Sidekick Users 

Roz Ho, vice president for Microsoft’s division in charge of the Sidekick:

We are pleased to report that we have recovered most, if not all, customer data for those Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage. We plan to begin restoring users’ personal data as soon as possible, starting with personal contacts, after we have validated the data and our restoration plan. We will then continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible.

Great news. Perhaps their statements last week, that the data was “almost certainly” lost for good, were along the lines of under-promising and over-delivering.

We have determined that the outage was caused by a system failure that created data loss in the core database and the back-up.

Well, that certainly explains it.

James Kwak Nails It 

James Kwak, writing about Calvin Trillin’s “smart guys” theory on last year’s Wall Street collapse:

Technology firms also face a similar problem. In technology, as in most businesses, the way to make it to the top is through sales, so you end up with a situation where the CEO is a sales guy who has no understanding of technology and, for example, thinks that you can cut the development time of a project in half by adding twice as many people. I have seen this have catastrophic results.

That’s precisely what I meant about Trillin’s piece’s applicability to the difference between the old Microsoft under Gates (programmer), and the new Microsoft under Ballmer (sales guy). Ballmer is running a company whose products he doesn’t really understand.

The Lost Lesson of Instant Typing 

Jens Alfke:

The same thing happened seven years ago with the live-typing feature that I implemented in iChat 1.0 (which was only supported for Bonjour chats.) I thought it was an awesome idea, and I’d wanted to have it in a chat program since about 1997. But it turned out that, in actual use, people hated it, for exactly the reasons Manjoo describes: it makes you self-conscious. We took it out in the next release.

I never mind instant updating when I use SubEthaEdit to collaboratively edit a text file, but I can’t think of a good reason Google Wave uses it other than the demo factor.

Disney Plans Extensive Overhaul of Mall Stores, With Design Input From Steve Jobs 

Brooks Barnes, reporting for the NYT:

Mr. Jobs provided access to proprietary information about the development and operation of Apple’s highly successful stores, and Disney executives visited Apple’s research operation in Cupertino, Calif. Mr. Jobs, who declined to comment, also insisted that Disney build a prototype store to work out kinks, a costly endeavor that most retailers skip.

The company followed his advice, working for the last year on a full-scale, fully stocked store inside an unmarked warehouse in Glendale, Calif. The prototype was crucial to shaping an overall philosophy, Mr. Fielding said, noting that he discovered the shops needed more “Pixar-esque winks and nods.”

Apple did the same thing before opening its first retail store.

I Remember When It Used to Be Called ‘Fixing Bugs’ 

Jim Dalrymple:

Apple has taken an unusual step in its efforts to stop groups from hacking its iPhone hardware — it changed the iPhone 3GS in mid- production.

The news of the modified iPhone 3GS BootROM was first reported on iClarified on Tuesday. The report noted that the new iPhone is no longer vulnerable to the so-called “24kpwn” exploit. As AppleInsider notes, it’s this exploit that hackers have used to jailbreak the iPhone. With the most recent update, they will have to find another way to hack the device.

The title of Dalrymple’s story is “Apple Ships Modified iPhone 3GS to Stop Hacking”. It wouldn’t seem unusual at all if the title were “Apple Fixes Exploitable Bug in Boot ROM”. The bugs exploited by jailbreakers aren’t sacred. They’re bugs.

Stay Out of the Middle 

Director Brian Belefant on choosing projects:

You want my advice? Of course you do. Don’t aim for the middle. Make everything you can for nothing until something hits so big that Hollywood comes knocking.

I’d say this advice applies to more than just movies.

Wall Street Smarts 

“If you really want to know why the financial system nearly collapsed in the fall of 2008, I can tell you in one simple sentence.” So said a guy in a bar to Calvin Trillin.

I don’t want to spoil it, but I think the theory espoused by Trillin’s barmate applies to technology companies as well — e.g. Microsoft under Ballmer rather than Gates.

Petulance and the Prize 

Garrison Keillor:

The wailing and gnashing of teeth that you hear among Republicans is 68 percent envy and 32 percent sour grapes. Here is an idealistic, articulate young president who is enormously popular everywhere in the world except in the states of the Confederacy, and here sit the 28 percent of the American people who still thought Mr. Bush was doing a heckuva job at the end, gnashing their teeth, hoping and praying for something horrible to happen such as an infestation of locusts or the disappearance of the sun, something to make the president look bad, which is not a good place for a political party to be, hoping for the country to slide into chaos. When you bet against America, you are choosing long odds.

Farhad Manjoo on Google Wave’s Complexity 

Farhad Manjoo:

Live-typing illustrates Wave’s bigger problem: In many cases, the software creates new headaches by attempting to fix aspects of online communication that don’t need fixing.

Tracking Down Snow Leopard’s Apple Events Bug 

Matt Neuburg on a devilish Apple events bug in Snow Leopard:

The bug sounds minor, but it is really very important because Apple events are crucial to so much of what goes on under the hood in Mac OS X, and in any case it has caused everyone’s scripts to break (whether written in AppleScript, rb-appscript, or anything else that sends Apple events). The underlying Apple event manager assigns a new return ID to every Apple event, and so sooner or later some Apple event is going to hit the magic FFFF value, and whatever sent that Apple event is going to error out, apparently randomly. You may even have seen such random errors on your machine without knowing it.

Seth Weintraub: Apple Is Building FM Tuner App for iPhone OS 

I wasn’t even aware that recent vintage iPhones and iPod Touches had FM-tuning hardware.

(Sidenote 1: Why do so many of the sites reporting on this, including Weintraub at 9 to 5 Mac, decorate their article with a mock-up showing the iPod Nano’s FM tuner photoshopped onto an iPhone? See: Engadget, The iPhone Blog. There aren’t even any small-print disclaimers describing these mock-ups as artist’s renditions or whatever. Surely most casual readers of these sites are left with the impression that these are leaked screenshots of the actual app.)

(Sidenote 2: This scoop belongs to Weintraub. But yet TUAW gives credit to Engadget first, and Weintraub’s report at 9 to 5 Mac second. Crummy. Update: TUAW has changed the links in the post to make at least slightly more clear that 9 to 5 Mac is the original source for the story.)

Michael Dell Says Netbooks Disappoint Customers 

They’re just cheap, small laptops.

App Store Non-Rejection Rejection of the Week: Trillian 

Submitted 60 days ago, no response from Apple to date.

SuperDuper 2.6.2 

Terrific update to one of my essential utilities. Not often that you get 2-3 times performance improvements in a minor-version-number update.

iMovie 8.0.5 Update Adds Support for New ‘iFrame’ Video Format 

Based on H.264 and AAC audio, iFrame is already the native shooting format of two new cameras from Sanyo.

Speaking of Regrets 

Unix co-creator Ken Thompson, asked what he’d do differently if had it do all over again, replied that he’d include the trailing “e” in the creat() system call.


Lukas Mathis’s detailed, thoughtful critique of Tog’s proposed Springboard redesign. Worth it just for the illustrations, which show just how much complexity Tog’s proposal would add.

Spammers, Evildoers, and Opportunists 

Derek Powazek:

The problem with SEO is that the good advice is obvious, the rest doesn’t work, and it’s poisoning the web. I’m going to tell you about the problems, and then tell you the one true way to generate traffic on the web, based on my own 14 years of hits and misses.

Tim Berners-Lee’s One Regret Regarding the Web 

Steve Lohr, interviewing Tim Berners-Lee:

If he were do it over again today, would he do anything differently? Any regrets?

Mr. Berners-Lee smiled and admitted he might make one change — a small one. He would get rid of the double slash “//” after the “http:” in Web addresses.

@font-face and Performance 

Steve Souders on how loading web fonts via @font-face affects web site performance. Short answer: adversely. (Via H&FJ.)

Who’s the Real ‘Mr. October’? 

All it takes is one great game.

Snow Leopard Bug Can Wipe Out Home Directory After Guest Account Login 

Erica Ogg:

For the past month, some Mac OS X users have been reporting their personal data missing after logging into their guest accounts, and Apple now says it’s working on finding a fix.

“We are aware of the issue, which occurs only in extremely rare cases, and we are working on a fix,” an Apple representative said in a prepared statement Monday.

What happens, according to numerous reports, is that after logging in and out of a Guest account (which, upon logout, wipes out any data stored within the Guest account’s home folder), and then logging in to a regular account, people are finding that their regular account has been wiped too.

Seems to be at least somewhat rare, and definitely doesn’t occur in all cases. I’ve tried it here and can’t reproduce it. Needless to say, though, I’d disable Guest account access until Apple releases a fix.

I’m Liking the Sound of the ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Movie More and More 

I like this:

Reporter: “What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?”

Sendak: “I would tell them to go to hell. That’s a question I will not tolerate.”

Reporter: “Because kids can handle it?”

Sendak: “If they can’t handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it’s not a question that can be answered.”

Brian Krebs on Safe Online Banking 

Brian Krebs:

An investigative series I’ve been writing about organized cyber crime gangs stealing millions of dollars from small to mid-sized businesses has generated more than a few responses from business owners who were concerned about how best to protect themselves from this type of fraud.

The simplest, most cost-effective answer I know of? Don’t use Microsoft Windows when accessing your bank account online.

The Two App Stores  

Marco Arment divides the store in two: attempted quick hits and works of lasting craftsmanship. There’s certainly some overlap between the two groups, but on the surface this rings true.

Arthur Levinson Resigns From Google’s Board of Directors 

Fuel to the fire of growing tensions between Google and Apple (where Levinson remains a board member).

Harry McCracken Revisits the Reviews of Vista 

Copiously researched claim chowder. Good way to put reviews of Windows 7 in context.

(There seems to be widespread consensus that Windows 7 has to be a hit because Microsoft needs it to be a hit. I wonder how much this assumption has colored the reviews.)

WebKit, Mobile, and Progress 

Nice response from Alex Russell to PPK’s aforelinked piece on compatbility across mobile WebKit implementations:

The important takeaway for web developers in all of this is that WebKit is winning and that that is a good thing. The dynamics of the marketplace have thus far ensured that we don’t get “stuck” the way we did on the desktop. That is real progress.

Restoring Spring to iPhone Springboard 

Tog has run out of space for his iPhone apps, so he’s made a concept design for an upgraded version of Springboard that could handle more apps and offer a greater amount of organization.

I don’t agree with his proposed design (way too fiddly and fussy), but as always with Tog, it’s an interesting read and a thoughtful proposal. And he’s addressing a genuine problem — even with the nice improvements in iPhone OS 3 and iTunes 9, dealing with dozens still seems ungraceful, to say the least.

QuirksBlog: There Is No WebKit on Mobile 

Typically copious comparison testing from Peter-Paul Koch, examining the differences between various mobile WebKit implementations.

What Caused the Microsoft/Danger Disaster? 

Make no mistake: this is a large-scale catastrophic loss of valuable data. The story reported here, that it was a botched SAN upgrade with no backup in place, jibes with what I’ve heard on background.

It betrays Microsoft’s utter disregard for the value of Sidekick customer data and the veracity of Murphy’s Law.

Name Squatting in the App Store 

One solution would be for Apple to stop treating app names as unique, at least for those which aren’t yet released. It’s not like music albums or songs or movies are required to have unique titles.

Google Search Options for Mobile 

I love the comments from Windows Mobile and BlackBerry users complaining that it doesn’t work in their crummy browsers.

T-Mobile Sidekick Data Loss 


Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger’s latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device — such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos — that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger. That said, our teams continue to work around-the-clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information. However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low.

Can’t wait to find out whose fault this is.

The Maven, Nevermore 

Ben Zimmer on William Safire in his role as the NYT’s “On Language” columnist:

For more than 30 years, in more than 1,300 crisp installments, Safire used this space to create a singular voice, that of the “Language Maven,” as he styled himself. We lost that voice last month, but we are left with a rich and varied legacy that shaped how Americans talk about talk.

When Safire died and I wrote that he was one of my favorite writers and columnists, I got a slew of complaints from left-leaning DF readers. How could I say such good things about a man who, among other things, so strongly supported George W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq?

Here’s the thing. I didn’t read his op-ed column because I agreed with him; I read it because I didn’t agree with him. Though I seldom agreed with his politics (and when I did, it was in favor of individual privacy and liberty), Safire was always thoughtful and his writing always playful. I feel it’s important to read the opinions of those with whom you tend to disagree, politically or otherwise.

But even if your politics and constitution are such that you could not abide his op-ed column, I don’t see how anyone who loves U.S. English didn’t cherish his Sunday “On Language” column as the national treasure that it was. 30 years! And he kicked ass until the very end.

Good Piece by the Macalope 

Includes a link to this delightful piece by Mitchell Ashley from January 2008 declaring that Windows Mobile 7 would spell doom for the iPhone.

FIFA 10 for iPhone and iPod Touch by EA Sports 

My thanks to EA Mobile for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote FIFA 10, their new game for iPhone and iPod Touch.

Look no further than EA to see just how seriously the big game developers are taking the iPhone OS as a gaming platform. FIFA 10 features great gameplay, 3D graphics, 30 real leagues, 570 real teams, and 12,620 real players from around the world. Available now in the App Store for just $10.

Adobe’s iPhone App 

Way more interesting and Adobe-like than the lame expense-approval app that appeared the other day.

Building a World That “Gives Life to the Promise of Our Founding Documents” 

To any American who isn’t happy about our president having won the Nobel Peace Prize: There is something wrong with you.

Tweetie 2 for iPhone (iTunes Link) 

Trust me, the bar has been raised.

Rumors: Microsoft Pink Project Even More Fucked Up Than Expected 

Well, not more fucked up than I expected.

Motorola Drops LiMo for Android  

LiMo = “Linux Mobile” = something no one wants.

Smartphone Market Share Numbers  

Apple is growing astonishingly fast. RIM is huge in the U.S. Nokia is huge in Europe. Microsoft is embarrassing itself.

President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize 

A great day for the United States.

Walt Mossberg Reviews Windows 7 

He likes it:

After using pre-release versions of Windows 7 for nine months, and intensively testing the final version for the past month on many different machines, I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced.

But, as Philip Elmer-DeWitt observes, Mossberg liked Vista too, when it debuted, including calling it “the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced.”

There’s no question 7 is better than Vista. The question is whether 7 is going to get the majority that’s still on XP to upgrade. My guess is that it will, but I wouldn’t bet too much on it.

Louis Gerbarg on the Technical Details of Flash iPhone Apps 

Louis Gerbarg, after inspecting the contents of the IPA file from an iPhone app produced with Flash CS5:

Technically speaking, these do appear to basically be within letter of the SDK agreement, modulo the fact that Adobe appears to making private API calls. They should be able to do what they need to without making those calls, so ultimately that should be a non-issue.

Now, the notion that what this thing emits is indistinguishable from something Xcode emits is laughable. They are very different, and not in a good way. While the apps may get acceptable frame rates on an iPhone 3GS, they don’t on earlier hardware, and they almost certainly uses substantially more power battery than native games.

(Via Michael Tsai.)

Survey: 22% of Upper-Income U.S. Teens Want to Buy an iPhone; 15% Already Own One 

It’s not a fad, it’s a long-term trend.

Update: It’s definitely worth noting that the survey results were not for all U.S. teens, but rather were the results of a survey of “middle-class and upper middle-class teens... representing the top 30% of U.S. households.”

Mac OS X DP3’s Purple Button 

For those who didn’t get the reference the other day, here’s John Siracusa review of the third developer preview of Mac OS X from February 2000.

AT&T Wireless CEO Hints at ‘Managing’ iPhone Data Usage 


WTF of the Week 

Popular Mechanics, in their list of the “10 Most Brilliant Products of 2009”, includes the TechCrunch Crunchpad, which does not yet exist as an actual product.

HTC Profits Down 

No surprise: they’re the world’s biggest maker of Windows Mobile phones.

Creator Codes and Modern File Browsing 

Interesting observation from Thomas Worrall on a subtle shift in UI abstractions between the old and new Mac eras.

Pogue Reviews Garmin’s Nuvifone G60 

GPS-maker Garmin’s first entry in the phone market, originally announced almost two years ago and much-delayed, is finally out. Looks interesting but expensive, with nickel-and-dime monthly costs and, according to Pogue, a crummy touchscreen.

Guy English on Not Being a Dick About Compiled Flash 

Guy English:

But one day I’ll be wrong. And if there’s one thing I hate more than being wrong it is having dismissed as trivial that which has defeated me.

DoubleTwist Adds Built-In Interface to Amazon MP3 Store 

Check out the screencast demo. Looks like a great interface — if anything, it’s less cluttered than the iTunes Store.

Counting Unhatched Verizon Chickens 

Karl Bode at DSL Reports advises skepticism regarding any Verizon promises regarding “openness”.

AT&T Changes Policy, Allows VoIP Over 3G for the iPhone 

Surprising good news.

Lewis Butler in TidBITS: Mac OS X’s Hidden Single-Application Mode 

The remnants of the purple button.

The Best Flag in the World 

Hard to argue with Kottke on this one.

Telus and Bell to Become Second and Third iPhone Carriers in Canada 

Those of you dreaming about the end of AT&T’s exclusivity in the U.S., keep in mind that the only other GSM carrier in the U.S. is T-Mobile. And the scope of today’s Verizon announcement suggests that they’re betting on Android.

Windows Mobile 6.5 Consensus: Yikes 

Pretty strong consensus that Windows Mobile 6.5 is a turd. Greg Kumparak at MobileCrunch: “Windows Mobile 6.5 Review: It Still Sucks”:

Typing on this keyboard is like sewing with your feet. Even with a stylus (do not even TRY typing without the stylus. You can not.


The only time you should spend in Mobile IE 6 is the time required to download another browser.

Matthew Miller at ZDNet: “Windows Mobile 6.5 disappoints; no Start customizations and stylus still required”.

Jeff Rock on Authoring iPhone Apps via Flash CS5 

Pretty good rundown on why serious iPhone developers aren’t going to use Flash CS5:

SDK changes. Apple moves at the rate of Apple. Keeping up with their SDK changes is vital and waiting for Adobe (or anyone other than you) to address these changes is not smart.

HIG-busting. I’ve read through the FAQ and it doesn’t look like you get access to UIKit. So you can’t use any of Apple’s excellent interface controls. So you get whatever convoluted mess of a UI the developer wants to cobble together in Flash. I’ll let you think about that for a moment.

The lack of UIKit access pretty much rules out anything other than games, I’d think. And judging by the games produced using Flash CS5 already in the store, I’m not sure it’s very good for that, either. I tried all the free ones, and have nothing good to say about any of them.

(Via David Chartier.)

John Herrman’s Windows Mobile 6.5 Review 

John Herrman reviews the new Windows Mobile 6.5 for Gizmodo:

To put it another way, handset manufacturers have done more in the last two years to improve Windows Mobile than Microsoft has, which borders on pathetic. In the time since Windows Mobile 6.0 came out in February of 2007, Apple has released the iPhone — three times. Palm has created the Pre, with its totally new webOS. Android has come into being, and grown into something wonderful. RIM has created a touch phone and a revamped BlackBerry OS. For these companies, the world has changed.

And Microsoft? They eked out some performance enhancements and a new homescreen in 6.1, and executed a gaudy facelift for 6.5. This is what they’ve done to Windows Mobile.

The release of Windows Mobile 6.5 has been mostly overlooked, lost amid all the other mobile news this week: the Verizon/Google Android deal, Palm’s major WebOS developer announcements, and Adobe’s Flash developer tools for iPhone OS.

Microsoft’s irrelevance in today’s mobile space is nothing short of a spectacular failure. Worse than the mere fact that Windows Mobile 6.5 is a total turd is that no one is surprised, and no one cares.

Verizon and Google Announce Deal for Android Phones 

The only top-tier phones Verizon carries are BlackBerrys. That’s going to change:

Verizon Wireless and Google plan to co-develop several Android-based devices that will be pre-loaded with innovative applications from both parties as well as third-party developers. The family of Android phones on the Verizon Wireless network will come from leading handset manufacturers.

Smart move for both. Of the three new mobile platforms — iPhone, WebOS, and Android — Android is the first to land on Verizon. The bottom line is that this is Verizon’s way of announcing that they’ve pulled their head out of their ass regarding handsets.

New Verizon TV Commercial Slags AT&T’s Network 

John Paczkowski:

Want five times more 3G coverage? There’s a map for that.

That’s the cheeky slogan of a new Verizon ad reportedly set to debut during tonight’s “Monday Night Football” game. Riffing on the tagline from Apple’s iPhone commercials, it essentially turns widespread complaints about the quality, coverage and speed of AT&T’s network into a Verizon marketing campaign–if it wasn’t that already. “Browse the Web and download music and apps, at 3G speed, in five times more places than the nation’s number two wireless carrier,” the ad suggests. “Before you pick a phone, pick a network.”

This is a brilliant ad campaign from Verizon. The “there’s a map for that” slogan is cute, but the “Before you pick a phone, pick a network” slogan sounds like common sense and works directly to Verizon’s advantage. They’re selling their strength (the network) instead of spinning their weakness (their lineup of phones). The ad works because it’s true.

And Speaking of Apple Logo Rip-Offs 

See, but there’s no bite out of it.

ClickToFlash Video Site Support 

Speaking of ClickToFlash, its development team is looking for help:

ClickToFlash has support for viewing videos from YouTube using the QuickTime Player instead. We’ve heard a lot of feedback indicating that users love this feature, and that they’d love it even more if we expanded it to other video sites. [...]

What do we need from you? We need help figuring out which video sites we are actually able to support in ClickToFlash.

ClickToFlash 1.5.3 

There doesn’t seem to have been any mention of it at Adobe’s MAX conference, but the best Flash-related technology in recent years continues to improve. ClickToFlash is an open source web content plugin for Mac OS X that blocks all Flash content on web pages by default. As the name implies, if you do want to load a Flash element, just click it. I give ClickToFlash my highest recommendation — everyone should install it.

Palm’s WebOS Developer Announcements 

MG Siegler, reporting from Palm’s developer event:

The first is that they’re allowing developers to fully distribute their apps via the web. What this means is that developers can simply submit their apps to Palm, and Palm will return to them a URL that they can then blog, tweet, do whatever they want to share it. When a person then clicks on that URL they can easily install the app. And while Palm is providing the URL, it is not going to be reviewing the apps in any way — a clear dig at Apple’s approval process.

This is a good opportunity for Palm. Perhaps being more open than Apple isn’t going to help them, but it certainly isn’t going to hurt.

Update: Extensive follow-up from Siegler here.

Adobe Promoting Flash for Mobile Platforms 

Marin Perez, reporting for InformationWeek:

Flash technology is nearly ubiquitous around the Web and it is used by popular sites such as YouTube, Hulu, and But one of the main criticisms of Flash on smartphones is that it is too resource-intensive and can slow down a device or drain its battery.

This is actually one of the main criticisms of Flash on Mac OS X, too. The other, of course, is that it’s crashy. Other than poor performance, memory consumption, and crashiness, though, Flash is well-regarded.

Adobe will be releasing a public developer beta for Windows Mobile, Palm webOS, Windows, Macintosh, and Linux later this year. The company also said public betas for Android, BlackBerry, and Symbian mobile devices will hit in early 2010. Adobe expects mobile devices to be released with full Flash support in the first half of next year.

The only major smartphone platform missing from Adobe’s roadmap is the iPhone.

Missing it will remain, I think. I don’t see how anything has changed since I wrote “Flash on iPhone Political Calculus” back in February 2008.

BlackBerry Desktop Software Syncs With iTunes 

Someone should send this link to Palm.

What an Apple Job Offer Looks Like 


When the real, physical offer letter and associated paperwork arrived, I was highly amused to see that it has the same graceful design, fit and finish that they devote to many of their products. So I thought it deserved the same sort of review that their other products might get.

I’m surprised that anyone is surprised by this.

Adobe’s Flash for iPhone Developer FAQ 

From the FAQ:

Can I run content created with Flash in the iPhone simulator on Mac?
No. Flash content created for the iPhone will not run within the iPhone simulator on Mac.

That’s because the Simulator runs x86 binaries, but Adobe’s compiler only produces ARM code.

Can I use native iPhone OS Controls in my Flash based iPhone content?

Not surprising. I’m guessing this will mostly be used to make games anyway.

Adobe MythHackers 

Be warned: Microsoft-level of corniness.

Overview of How the Flash iPhone Compiler Works 

If you guessed “LLVM”, you get a point:

We created a new compiler front end that allowed LLVM to understand ActionScript 3 and used its existing ARM back end to output native ARM assembly code. We call this Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation—in contrast to the way Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR function on the desktop using Just in Time (JIT) compilation. Since we are able to compile ActionScript to ARM ahead of time, the application gets all the performance benefits that the JIT would offer and the license compliance of not requiring a runtime in the final application.

Flash CS5 Will Build Native iPhone Apps 

John Nack:

Today at Adobe MAX, the company announced that Flash tools will be able to build applications for iPhone that can be distributed through Apple’s App Store. A beta version of Flash Professional CS5 with this new capability is planned for release later this year. These aren’t Flash SWF files, they’re native iPhone apps.

This is not a port of the Flash runtime. You can’t use this to load Flash content over the web. What it means is that Flash developers can export native iPhone apps — compiled ARM binaries in .ipa packages — which can then be submitted to Apple through the normal App Store process. There are already seven such apps (built using beta versions of the new Flash developer tools) available in the App Store.

This is very interesting technology. But that Adobe would go to this length suggests that they suspect that Apple will never allow the Flash runtime on the iPhone.

Reaping What You Sow 

Joan Biskupic, reporting for USA Today:

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor says she regrets that some of her decisions “are being dismantled” by the current Supreme Court.

That’s rich, considering which way she voted on Bush v. Gore.

Apple Resigns From Chamber of Commerce Over Emission Regulations 

Kate Galbraith, for the NYT’s Green Inc. weblog:

Apple has become the latest company to resign from the United States Chamber of Commerce over climate policy.

“We strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the E.P.A.’s effort to limit greenhouse gases,” wrote Catherine A. Novelli, the vice president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, in a letter dated today and addressed to Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber. Click here to read the letter.

Good for them.

Vonage Releases Calling Apps for iPhone and BlackBerry 

Jenna Wortham:

On Monday, Vonage, the Internet telephony company, is releasing a mobile application for BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPod Touches. The application, which is free, will allow users to place low-cost international calls over Wi-Fi and cellular voice networks.

Wait a minute, I thought VOIP was only allowed over Wi-Fi for iPhone apps?

Update: Looks like it’s not VOIP over the cellular network. From MacRumors:

iPhone users calling international numbers via the Vonage Mobile application on a cellular network are automatically connected to Vonage’s network and utilize only domestic airtime minutes on their carrier while paying Vonage’s international rates for the calls from a prepaid, automatically refillable account.

So when not on Wi-Fi, you have to place a regular voice call.

CNet Asks: Is the iPhone Hurting AT&T’s Brand? 

You can’t make this shit up:

While a recent survey by the consulting firm CFI Group found that iPhone users are the most loyal smartphone users with 90 percent saying they’d recommend the device to a friend, half of all iPhone owners surveyed said they would like to jump ship to another provider if given the chance.

So it makes sense to ask if it’s the iPhone hurting AT&T’s brand... how?

Closed Border, Closed Economy, Closing Opportunities 

David Eaves on the “harrowing experience” of entering the United States as a tourist or visitor.

iSinglePayer App Now in App Store 

Remember iSinglePayer, the app promoting U.S. healthcare reform which was rejected by Apple for being “politically charged”? It’s now available in the App Store.

Adam Lisagor on Harman Kardon Soundsticks 

I use a set of Soundsticks of similar vintage here at my desk. I too adore them.

New York Times on the Quest for a Tablet Computer 

Brad Stone and Ashlee Vance survey the history and future of the tablet form factor. Some great stuff, including a rare on-the-record statement from a former Apple engineer who’d worked on prototypes back to 2003:

“It couldn’t be built. The battery life wasn’t long enough, the graphics performance was not enough to do anything and the components themselves cost more than $500,” said Joshua A. Strickon, a former Apple engineer whose name is on several of the company’s patents for multitouch technology.

And this gem:

Another former Apple executive who was there at the time said the tablets kept getting shelved at Apple because Mr. Jobs, whose incisive critiques are often memorable, asked, in essence, what they were good for besides surfing the Web in the bathroom.

Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made 

And on the other side of the pond, Jeff Dawson writes for the Sunday Times of London on Taschen’s imminent set of books on Kubrick’s unrealized Napoleon epic. Not sure why they put a question mark in the headline.

In the man’s own words:

“It has everything a good story should have. A towering hero, powerful enemies, armed combat, a tragic love story, loyal and treacherous friends, and plenty of bravery, cruelty and sex.”

(Thanks to DF reader Joe Soave.)

‘Nothing if Not Meticulous’ 

On our side of the pond, Alice Rawsthorn writes for the Sunday New York Times fall design magazine on Arne Jacobsen’s timeless 1957 flatware, chosen by Stanley Kubrick for use by the astronauts in 2001. (Via Jim Coudal.)


Fantastic new $3 iPhone game. Super-simple, pixel-perfect, great music and sound. It’s an official port of this free Flash version. (I find the iPhone version, with a narrower aspect ratio and therefore less look-ahead, more challenging.)

Apple Files Suit Over Australian Retailer Woolworths Logo 

Not that similar to my eyes, but this might be one of those things where Apple is obligated to fight just to protect their own trademark.

WTF, Indeed 

Wisconsin Tourism Federation rejiggers its name. (Via ThatWhichMatters.)

Craig Hunter: ‘On Palm, Competition, and iTunes Sync’ 

Craig Hunter nails it:

Clearly, other companies know how to sync painlessly with iTunes music (see RIM’s Blackberry Media Sync for example), so why doesn’t Palm develop a syncing solution for their own hardware? The exact reason is unknown, but my guess is that it’s a combination of things. Perhaps Palm doesn’t have the resources to develop their own sync app. Or maybe they want some publicity. Or maybe they just want to push Apple’s buttons. Who really knows. But I seriously question the strategy and brains of any company that ties critical product capabilities to the unsupported use of their competitor’s software. I mean, really? Can it get any more ridiculous? Can you possibly send a more mixed, less confidence- inspiring, “we’re a bunch of hacks who can’t provide our own sync software for our products” message to customers?

Ixnay on the Blu-ray 

My updated if-I-were-a-betting-man wagers for upcoming Apple hardware announcements: all-new iMacs, all-new low-end (plastic) MacBook, new keyboard and mouse, speed-bump/price-cut Mac Mini update. Scratch that previous bet on Blu-ray in the iMacs, though — the old word on the street was that it was in; new word is that it’s out. Hope you like the iTunes Store if you like HD movies. Rumors that the new mouse has some sort of integrated touchpad dingus to replace the scroller ball are sounding good.

WebOS 1.2.1 Update Restores Syncing With iTunes 9 

Guess Palm isn’t going to blink.


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One Day Left on the VRF ‘Masters’ Project at Kickstarter 

The good news: My friends at the Vanderbilt Republic Foundation are, at this writing, 96 percent of the way to their goal of raising $50,000 for their planned project to document the lives of Cambodia’s surviving master artists. They’re amazingly close.

The exciting news: There’s only one day left. Donate now and you might be the one to put them over the top.

(And, for one last bit of background information on the project and the people behind it, check out this excellent interview with photographer George Del Barrio on the Kickstarter Blog. So good.)

Update: Boom. They’ve hit their goal. But don’t let that stop you from joining in.

A Big-Assed Post About Fireworks 

Jon Hicks loves and hates Adobe Fireworks.

Philippe Casgrain’s C4[3] Wrap-Up 

Great summary of last week’s C4[3] by Philippe Casgrain, who himself gave a fine talk on creating documentation.

Engadget Finds FCC Filings for New Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse 

If I were a betting man, I’d bet on these debuting alongside all-new Blu-ray-equipped iMacs in a few weeks. Update: Ixnay on the Blu-ray.

BumpTop 3D Desktop Is Out 

This is the coolest software to ship Windows-only in years.

David Letterman Reveals Extortion Attempt Over His Affairs 

Bill Carter:

David Letterman said on his show on Thursday that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt over charges of sexual affairs with staff members, claims that he conceded were true.

Creepy story — he got in his car in the morning three weeks ago and the blackmail package was sitting in the seat. But, glass houses, etc.

Joby Gorillamobile for iPhone 3G/3GS 

$40 iPhone-specific case/tripod combination from the makers of the excellent Gorillapods. (Thanks to Rich Siegel.)

Walt Mossberg Reviews Sprint’s HTC Hero 


Overall, I found the HTC Hero to be the best Android phone I’ve tested, and a worthy competitor to the iPhone, the BlackBerry and the Pre.

Thank goodness they boogered up the front display with big “HTC” and “Sprint” logos. It retails for $280 but there’s a $100 mail-in rebate, and it only ships with 2 GB of built-in storage. That compares really poorly to the $99 no-rebate-necessary 8 GB iPhone.

Update: I should mention that Dave Nanian (of Shirt Pocket Software) has a Hero, brought it to C4 last weekend, and was kind enough to let me play with it for a few minutes. The Hero is clearly way better in every single way — way, way, way better — than last year’s G1. However, if I had to buy a non-iPhone today, I’d probably get a Pre, because the WebOS web browser is arguably as good as the iPhone’s, whereas Android’s is still behind, and Safari is by far my most-used iPhone app.

Ten Years of 

No surprise to any of you, of course, is one of my favorite things ever made. Congratulations.

The Original IBM ThinkPad 


PCalc 1.8 Prevents iPhone Profanity 

Never again will a child’s innocence be lost after turning a number like 5318008 upside-down. (Doesn’t yet filter out my personal favorite, though: 3704558.)

Peter Hosey on Uniform Type Identifiers 

Good piece from Peter Hosey last week showing how UTIs are in no way a replacement for creator codes.

While I’m revisiting the topic, I should mention that I realize there are many people who are pleased by the change in Snow Leopard whereby Launch Services no longer looks at a file’s creator code when determining which app should open it, and that there are several completely reasonable arguments to be made in favor of said change. It’s a matter of preference, and I prefer otherwise. What is not reasonable are blathering arguments that UTIs are in any way a replacement for creator codes.

Use Dropbox iPhone App to Automatically Import Photos Into Yojimbo 

Clever Dropbox/AppleScript/Folder Actions/Yojimbo hack by Ken Clark. I wouldn’t exactly call it a “Yojimbo iPhone App”, but it’s still a neat idea.