Linked List: January 2010

Amazon ‘Capitulates’ to Macmillan 

Amazon Kindle Team:

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book.

Just me, or does it seem like an Apple device that won’t ship for another 53 days already upended Amazon’s Kindle business? What kind of sense does it make to accuse a publisher of having a “monopoly” over its own titles?

Andy Ihnatko’s Hands-On iPad Impressions 

There were two types of writers in the iPad demo unit press room. Those who rushed in and rushed out so as to immediately begin filing and publishing coverage of the announcements, and those who stayed in the room soaking up time spelunking with the demo units until the ever-friendly Apple reps started politely suggesting it was time for us to go. Andy and I (and Dan Moren and Glenn Fleishman and Jeff Carlson) were in the latter group.

The Little Boy Who Cried Tablet 

Mike Davidson on Jason Calacanis.

Old World vs. New World Computing 

Steven Frank gets it.

The iPad Is the iPrius 

Jim Stogdill:

The automobile went through a similar evolution. From eminently hackable to hood essentially sealed shut. When the automobile was new, you HAD to be a mechanic to own one. Later, being a mechanic gave you the option of tinkering and adapting it to your specific interests. In fact, that’s how most people up until about 1985 learned to be mechanics. The big changes came with the catalytic converter and electronic ignition (and warranty language to match). Now the automobile has reached the point in its development where you don’t even have to know whether it has a motor or an engine to use it, but to tinker at all requires highly specialized skills.

That’s a better car metaphor than my automatic transmission one.

Second-Hand Reports From Steve Jobs’s All-Hands Town Hall Meeting at Apple Last Week 

Take it with a big grain of salt, because it’s second-hand and illustrated with a goofily menacing photo of Jobs, but Wired has a report on Jobs’s post-iPad all-hands company meeting:

On Google: We did not enter the search business, Jobs said. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them, he says. Someone else asks something on a different topic, but there’s no getting Jobs off this rant. I want to go back to that other question first and say one more thing, he says. This don’t be evil mantra: “It’s bullshit.” Audience roars.

About Adobe: They are lazy, Jobs says. They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it. They don’t do anything with the approaches that Apple is taking, like Carbon. Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy, he says. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.

Sounds about right to me. If anyone who was there disputes Wired’s synopsis, I’m all ears.

Update: Arnold Kim has a few more tidbits. And one DF-reading little birdie emailed to say that while the gist is right, the Wired transcript is clearly paraphrased: “He actually said ‘teams at Google want to kill us.’ He never said it in a way that made it sound like the whole company did. Mostly just the Android team.” Update 2: Another little birdie in attendance tells me, “The quote was actually, ‘Don’t be evil is a load of crap,’” and that Jobs was nostalgic about the kick-ass Adobe of old.

An Outsider’s Guide to the Amazon/Macmillan Fight 

Charlie Stross on the fight between Amazon and book publisher Macmillan. After reading this, I take it back about saying that Amazon might be happy with a popular Kindle app for the iPad.

Flash’s Decline on Lifehacker, From 2006 to 2010 

Gina Trapani:

Because its readership represents a mixed group of both Mac and Windows users — albeit more tech-savvy ones than your average internet surfer — I ran the numbers for Lifehacker, which currently gets about 39 million visitors a month. As you can see in the chart above, the number of Lifehacker visitors without Flash installed nearly tripled from 2.32% in 2006, to 6.07% in 2009.

Gina quotes this tweet from me today, where I mentioned that for January 2010, 32 percent of DF web site visitors do not have Flash enabled. A little over 7 percent of web visitors were using MobileSafari. I suspect most of the rest have Flash installed, but not enabled thanks to things like ClickToFlash for Safari and Flashblock for Firefox.

The iPad and Chrome OS Netbooks Are on a Collision Course 

Good observation from MG Siegler: the iPad and Google’s forthcoming Chrome OS netbooks are aimed at the same space — that between smartphones and PCs.

One major difference: Apple’s iPhone and iPad are clearly on the same page technology-wise and concept-wise, whereas Android and Chrome OS are not. The iPad’s popularity (obviously, at this point, measured in terms of interest rather than sales) is propelled by the success of the iPhone and the UIKit App Store. Let’s say Android has a banner year — that the Droid and Nexus One and whatever other handsets are coming in the next few months sell like hotcakes. How does that help sell Chrome OS netbooks, which are neither conceptually nor technically compatible with Android?

That doesn’t mean Android and Chrome OS can’t both succeed. But they exemplify how Google seems like a federated company.

The Omni Group: iPad or Bust 

Ken Case:

Yes, we already had a big year planned for 2010, with several long-anticipated major product releases — but we think iPad is really important: important enough to spend some time juggling our plans to figure out how we can introduce five new iPad apps.

Yes. Five. We want to bring all five of our productivity apps to iPad: OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, OmniPlan, OmniFocus, and OmniGraphSketcher.

As one wise friend observed to me this week, AppKit may be the next Carbon. UIKit is the frontier.

Bunch of Phonies Mourn J.D. Salinger 

The Onion:

“He had a real impact on the literary world and on millions of readers,” said hot-shot English professor David Clarke, who is just like the rest of them, and even works at one of those crumby schools that rich people send their kids to so they don’t have to look at them for four years.

That $50 Billion Annual Revenue Thing 

I think it has something to do with this.

Update: Throw Google and Intel into the mix as well. And, to be fair, note that however close their revenues are getting, Microsoft is still way out ahead in terms of net income — the margins on software are better than hardware.

Getting Used to the Blue Legos 

Merlin Mann on what Lee Brimelow’s iPad demo would have looked like if it had itself been rendered in Flash instead of a JPEG.

Future Shock 

Fraser Speirs gets it:

What you’re seeing in the industry’s reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock.


Adios, Sun Microsystems.

Adobe Flash Evangelist Lee Brimelow Plays the Porno Card 

I’ve been wondering for a while how much of the angst over iPhone OS’s lack of Flash is about porno. And as for Flash games, isn’t it utterly obvious that existing Flash games, which work via keyboard and mouse, wouldn’t work at all on devices which lack both keyboard and mouse?

Anyway, I presume Brimelow put this together as an intended slag against the iPad. I look at this, though, and my first thought is that Brimelow ought to start looking for a new job.

Update: DF reader Ryan Cooley emails with this alternative take on MobileSafari’s lack of Flash. And, even better, several readers emailed to point out that the porno site Brimelow used as his example, Bang Bros, in fact has an iPhone-optimized web site that serves video using QuickTime.

Lastly, I didn’t mean to imply that Brimelow ought to start looking for a new job because he linked to a porno site as example of Flash. He probably deserves credit for honesty for that. (I have no idea how that’ll fly politically inside Adobe, though.) I’m saying he ought to look for a new job because his current one is as an evangelist for a technology that is past its prime and is now measurably in decline.

John Nack: ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ 

Thoughtful piece from Adobe’s John Nack on Flash. Nack works for Adobe, but on Photoshop, not Flash. The whole thing is worth reading because I think he’s genuinely trying to be fair about the whole situation. But this bit betrays a bit of pro-Adobe mindset:

And today, more than 15 years after Netscape debuted, Flash remains the only way to, say, display a vector chart across browsers (i.e., such that you can count on every viewer seeing it). That’s sad — especially given that Adobe plowed a hell of a lot of time and money into trying to get the open SVG standardized and adopted.

The real situation is that today, two and a half years after the iPhone debuted, web developers can no longer count on every viewer being able to render Flash. The percentage of web user agents with Flash installed is now going down, not up. My money says that trend is permanent, and further, it’ll reach a tipping point in the not-so-distant future and Flash will turn into something like Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Reaction to iPad 

David Worthington interviews Brandon Watson, “director of product management in the developer platform at Microsoft”:

Watson claimed that many developers of applications for the iPhone OS–which the iPad uses–are not making money. Developing applications for the iPhone and iPad is expensive, he said, because iPhone OS uses the Objective-C language rather than Microsoft’s more pervasive .NET platform. And Apple’s control over the platform has alienated some people that make software for its products, he said.

Yes, there is much jealousy from iPhone developers at the sacks full of money being made by Zune and Windows Mobile app developers.


My thanks to 37signals for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Sortfolio. Sortfolio is a web site that helps web designers find clients and clients find web designers — visually. The best way to find a designer is to browse examples of their previous work; the best way for designers to pitch themselves is to show off their work. That’s how Sortfolio works.

Plus you can filter by price and location and all sorts of other cleverness. No surprise that a site that’s all about finding good designers is itself very well designed.

J.D. Salinger, Dead at 91 

The New Yorker has made available all his stories from their archive. So great.

I’ve always hoped against hope that Salinger did not stop writing, that he’d only stopped publishing. And that yes, there’s a vault with a few manuscripts, and instructions for posthumous publication. A secret lonely safe containing one — two, dare we dream? — of the best novels ever written. I don’t want to lose that hope.

It’s Not a Big iPhone 

Marco Arment isn’t quite getting it yet. He’s on the cusp of it, though. He writes:

Most of us had some crazy ideas. John Gruber wanted Apple to reinvent mobile computing. I wanted Apple to reinvent portable input mechanics and novice usability. I think a lot of other people wanted Apple to reinvent the laws of physics.

In reality, none of this happened. The iPad is effectively a giant iPod Touch, which itself is effectively a data-app-only iPhone.

I would say that redefining mobile computing is exactly what happened. It is surprisingly, delightfully, iPhone-esque in many ways. But if you use it for just a few minutes, it becomes obvious that the iPad is not a big stretched-out iPhone, but rather that the iPhone is a shrunken stripped-down version of the iPad. The iPad is what they’ve been building toward all along.

The iWork apps are amazing. Totally usable. Totally new UI for office apps — there’s no menu bar. Maybe the best comparison is the Calendar app. It doesn’t look anything like the iPhone Calendar app. In terms of, say, style and UI grammar, yes, it’s the same vibe as the iPhone. But in terms of scope and ambition, it’s a far bigger thing.

‘A Message to the Internets Regarding the iPad’ 

Michael Pusateri gets it.

Adobe Flash Platform Blog on iPad’s Lack of Flash 

So Jobs’s demo of the NYT’s web site showed the “missing Flash” icon in several spots. If you think Apple didn’t expect that, you’re nuts. Apple is not embarrassed by iPhone OS’s lack of Flash.

Stephen Fry on the iPad 

Stephen Fry:

You know how everyone who has ever done Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? always says, “It’s not the same when you’re actually here. So different from when you’re sitting at home watching.”? You know how often you’ve heard that? Well, you’ll hear the same from anyone who’s handled an iPad. The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class. This is a different order of experience. The speed, the responsiveness, the smooth glide of it, the richness and detail of the display, the heft in your hand, the rightness of the actions and gestures that you employ, untutored and instinctively, it’s not just a scaled up iPhone or a scaled-down multitouch enhanced laptop – it is a whole new kind of device.

I found myself nodding my head in agreement from start to finish.

Apple Posts Video From Today’s Event 

If I were you, I’d kick back with a nice beverage and watch it.

Adam Lisagor on the iPad’s 4:3 Aspect Ratio 

It’s the Jungian thing, sir.

Yours Truly, Interviewed by CBC’s Nora Young Regarding the iPad 

15-minute overview of my initial impressions. (I’m finding it hard to remember to say “iPad” when talking about it — I keep wanting to keep calling it “the tablet”.)

Update: Fireballed at the moment, alas. But the direct link to the MP3 is still available.

iPad Tech Specs 

Just like with the iPhone, no word from Apple on the RAM.

Apple iPad 

The video is worth watching. Interesting that Jobs never appears in these videos. This one’s got Ive, Forstall, Schiller and Mansfield.

‘You’ll Rule the World’ 

Alan Kay, regarding his reaction to the iPhone in January 2007:

When the Mac first came out, Newsweek asked me what I [thought] of it. I said: Well, it’s the first personal computer worth criticizing. So at the end of the presentation, Steve came up to me and said: Is the iPhone worth criticizing? And I said: Make the screen five inches by eight inches, and you’ll rule the world.

What Derek Powazek Hopes Apple Unleashes Tomorrow 

Me too.

Apple’s 1995 Tablet Concept Video 

Here’s the difference between the old Apple and today’s Apple, in a nut. In 1995 Apple made cool concept videos about Internet tablet computing. Today, they make it for real.

McGraw-Hill CEO Says That Tablet Is iPhone OS Based 

That’s a good way to get taken off Steve Jobs’s Christmas card list.

Update: Pushback from several DF readers, who think it was a deliberate Apple-sanctioned leak. (I don’t buy it; I think the guy just has a big mouth.)

Conjuring Up the Latest Buzz, Without a Word 

David Carr had an interesting piece in the NYT yesterday:

This Wednesday, Steven P. Jobs will step to the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and unveil a shiny new machine that may or may not change the world.

In the magician’s world, that’s called “the reveal.”

And the most magical part? Even as the media and technology worlds have anticipated this announcement for months, Apple has said not word one about The Device.

That’s the most amazing thing about this run-up to the event. So much written (including several thousand words from yours truly), and Apple has not once said one word publicly about the device.

(I talked to Carr for this piece, and he quotes me as saying that Apple doesn’t “do prototypes”. To be clear, I mean they don’t unveil or reveal prototypes publicly. They of course build many prototypes internally.)

NYT on The Tablet and Apple’s Relationship With Content Publishers 

This news piece by Brad Stone and Stephanie Clifford has an odd tone:

People who have seen the tablet say Apple will market it not just as a way to read news, books and other material, but also a way for companies to charge for all that content. By marrying its famously slick software and slender designs with the iTunes payment system, Apple could help create a way for media companies to alter the economics and consumer attitudes of the digital era.

This opportunity, however, comes with a sizable catch: Steven P. Jobs.

Mr. Jobs, the chief executive, made Apple the most important distributor of music by imposing its own will on the music labels, bullying them into accepting Apple’s pricing and other terms. Apple sold lots of music, but the music labels claimed that iTunes had destroyed the concept of the album and damaged their already deteriorating bottom lines.

Music industry executives may well not like what’s happened to their industry, but is it really bullying from Apple? Or isn’t it simply that Apple does not do what the music executives wish? That Apple runs its music store its own way? What the music industry really doesn’t like is the whole idea of downloads. They want to go back to selling $18 discs. Pre-iTunes, “music downloads” were pretty much all free bootlegs.

The print publishing industry should be so lucky to have iTunes do for them what it’s done for music.

Doonesbury on The Tablet Announcement 

“You can feel it in the air.”

David Weiss’s Prediction Score Card for Wednesday’s Event 

I’ll go with yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no, no (but I hope), no, no, yes, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, no.

And, even cooler, just today Apple approved Weiss’s new iPhone app for aggregating such rumor predictions, the aptly-named Prediction.

Macworld’s Coverage of Apple’s Quarterly Results and Finance Call 

Everything is up year-over-year: Mac sales, iPhone sales, revenue, and profit. Here’s Apple’s press release.

Update: Here’s Tim Cook on the conference call, regarding Apple’s relationship with AT&T:

“As you know, AT&T has acknowledged that they’re having a few issues in some cities, and they have plans to address these. Have personally reviewed these plans, and they have high confidence that AT&T will address them.”

This tone gibes with what I’ve been hearing lately, which is that Apple is sticking with AT&T in the U.S. for now. I expect the 3G version of The Tablet to debut as AT&T-exclusive; if I’m wrong, I expect it to debut on both AT&T and Verizon.

Richard Stallman on The Setup 

Say what you want about him, but he walks the walk.

Google’s Nexus One Won’t Transcribe Curse Words Via Speech-to-Text 

I can confirm that swear words all appear as “####” in the transcription. So if you say “That’s fucking bullshit”, it’ll be transcribed as “That’s #### ####.”

‘Get Some Balls’ 

This nicely sums up my feelings on health care reform here in the U.S. (Via Andrew Sullivan.)


My thanks to TheNextTrain for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. TheNextTrain is an iPhone app for commuter rail passengers. It has offline train schedules for rail systems in 16 regions across the U.S. and Canada, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco — along with maps for most of them. Completely replaces the need to carry paper train schedules.

TheNextTrain is available on the App Store for just $4.99.

What Analysts Should Ask Apple During Their Finance Call 

Excellent, must-read piece by MDJ’s Matt Deatherage, reprinted at Macworld:

Analysts: you may only get one shot at asking questions, so I’m here to help you with the do’s and don’ts of the conference call. I don’t have all the answers, but I haven’t missed one of these calls in nearly 14 years, so I have some experience. Our interests are temporarily aligned here—we all want more information from Apple, without spooking the executives so they run away from your questions. Here’s the basic map for the January 2010 conference call.


After looking at the paint-splattered invitation design, a few DF readers have emailed me with the same idea Cabel Sasser tweeted on Monday:

Regarding the Apple invite, and just throwing this out there: what if it’s called “Canvas”?

Even without considering the invitation design, I love this name. It looks good, it sounds good, and it evokes the right feelings and ideas: thin, light, clean, crisp, blank, the thing great artwork is made upon. It’s a perfect name.

The Downside to the Kindle’s Free 3G Wireless 

From Amazon’s Kindle Development Kit terms:

Active content will be available to customers in the Kindle Store later this year. Your active content can be priced three ways:

  • Free — Active content applications that are smaller than 1MB and use less than 100 KB/user/month of wireless data may be offered at no charge to customers. Amazon will pay the wireless costs associated with delivery and maintenance.

  • One-time Purchase — Customers will be charged once when purchasing active content. Content must have nominal (less than 100 KB/user/month) ongoing wireless usage.

  • Monthly Subscription — Customers will be charged once per month for active content.

So for free and one-time-charge apps, there’s a monthly limit of 100 kilobytes of bandwidth. Go over that and the developer has to start paying the bill. As point of reference for just how small 100 KB is, the Daring Fireball RSS feed at this moment is 115 KB. With gzip compression, it shrinks to 36 KB. So even with compression, a free or one-time-charge Kindle app could only download the DF RSS feed twice per month without going over.

Andy Ihnatko on the Nexus One and Android OS 2.1 

Great review. Six days into my Nexus One test drive, I concur with nearly every word. (Don’t miss his excellent set of photos comparing the Nexus One’s camera to the iPhone 3GS’s.)

Realism in UI Design 

Lukas Mathis:

The thing on the left is a house. The thing on the right means “home”. Somewhere between the two, the meaning switches from “a specific house” to “home as a concept”.

Vimeo Introduces HTML5 H.264 Player 

Nice. And, just like YouTube’s, it only works with Safari and Chrome because they’re using H.264. Firefox supports the HTML5 video element, but only for Ogg Theora video. Get with the program, Mozilla.

iProxy — Poor Man’s iPhone Tethering 

Torsten Curdt has released an open source variation on the idea behind the late great NetShare. Writes Curdt:

iProxy is not as convenient as the real tethering. The internet connection is a few clicks more away. But if you’ve got a developer certificate (or have a friend that has one) it certainly is cheaper than handing out the money to your favorite telco. Especially if you only need this connection only every now and then.

Only those with iPhone developer accounts can make use of it, alas, because for obvious reasons it can’t be distributed through the App Store.

Pen vs. Keyboard vs. Newton vs. Graffiti vs. Treo vs. iPhone 

Phil Gyford time-tested six different methods of writing the same 221-word passage: pen-and-paper, Newton MessagePad 2100, Palm Vx Graffiti, Palm Treo hardware keyboard, iPhone 3G software keyboard, and a full-size MacBook keyboard.

What a great idea.

Products, Not Prototypes 

Joel Johnson:

The fact that Apple does not reveal prototypes but shipping products is the fundamental difference between their entire business strategy and that of the rest of the industry.


300&65 Ampersands 

Would make for a good printed calendar.

Amazon Offering Money-Back Guarantee on Kindle to Some Customers 

They’re sending an offer to frequent book purchasers, with the offer that if they buy a Kindle and decide they don’t like it, they can get their money back and keep the Kindle. Funny thing is, the offer expires next week, a day before Apple’s press event.

Kindle Development Kit 

Amazon pre-announces upcoming SDK for Kindle apps, “limited beta coming next month”. I wonder why they pre-announced this now?

YouTube Now Testing HTML5 as Alternative to Flash 

Sign up for the beta on this page, and boom, you get videos using H.264 and the HTML5 video tag instead of Flash. Working great for me. Note, though, that it only applies to videos on itself — YouTube videos embedded in web pages on other sites still use Flash.

Update: It’s worth noting that YouTube is only supporting H.264, so it only works with Safari and Chrome, not Firefox. (Firefox supports only the Ogg Theora format. Don’t hold your breath waiting for YouTube to re-encode everything in Ogg Theora.)

WSJ: ‘Apple Sees New Money in Old Media’ 

WSJ report by Yukari Kane and Ethan Smith, very light on substance but chock full of interesting rumors regarding The Tablet and deals with book, magazine, and newspaper publishers to sell content through iTunes. Also this, near the end:

Apple has also been planning a revamp of its iTunes music service by creating a Web-based version of it that could launch as soon as June, say people familiar with the matter. Tentatively called, the service would allow customers to buy music without going through the specialized iTunes program on computers and iPhones.

Star Wars Opening Crawl, Using Only HTML and CSS 

Guillermo Esteves just made my day. You can even select the text as it goes by.

Update: Works on MobileSafari on the iPhone. (Does not work in Android 2.1’s Browser.)

The White House Has an iPhone App 

Includes live video streaming for the president’s public events. (They’ve got a device-neutral mobile web site in the works as well.)

New York Times to Charge Frequent Readers of Web Site Beginning in 2011 

Richard Pérez-Peña, reporting for the NYT:

Starting in early 2011, visitors to will get a certain number of articles free every month before being asked to pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the newspaper’s print edition will receive full access to the site without extra charge.

Romenesko has the memo from Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger.

Count me in with Dave Winer’s take, though:

My opinion, the NYT will never implement the paywall they talked about today. If they were going to do it, they’d just do it.

Amazon Switches to 70-30 Revenue Split for Kindle 

Shh. Do you hear that? Off in the distance. It sounds like a freight train from Cupertino coming down the track.

Amazon hears it.

Speaking of Wednesday 

Today’s the day for Indie Relief: loads of great software, all proceeds to Haitian earthquake relief.

‘Today Is Wednesday’ 

“No coupon codes. No minimums. No bullshit.”

BumpTop for Mac 

Remember BumpTop, the sort-of 3D desktop file manager that shipped for Windows back in October? The Mac version shipped today, for $29. It’s interesting. I’ve had the beta versions for a few weeks, and I can vouch that it doesn’t feel like a Windows app ported to the Mac; it feels like a real Mac app.

But: I quickly realized I had no need for it. I found it fun to play with, and the “piles” idea is something that has been rumored for the Mac dating back to the aborted Copland project in the 90s — and it actually is very nice to have a way to group related file system objects together without putting them into a folder which itself is a file system object and which introduces another layer of hierarchy. The thing is, I don’t just want better file management for my desktop. I want better file management everywhere. BumpTop is a Finder alternative that only handles one folder: ~/Desktop/. And the 3D stuff, with a weird perspective on “walls”, just seems silly.

If you spend a lot of time dealing with files and folders on your desktop, though, it’s definitely worth a look.

PC World: Apple Tablet Won’t Mean Business 

I remember the old days, when PC World writers would wait until after Apple announced something new to declare that it was a toy.

Nexus One’s OLED Display and Subpixel Pattern 

Interesting look at the subpixel design of the Nexus One display.

The high pixel density of the display is marvelous for reading text. Letterforms are, as you’d expect, very crisp. My biggest gripe about the Nexus One display is that certain colors are way over-saturated. All skin tones look very orange to me. Everyone gets that spray-on tan look. Reds, pinks, and especially oranges all go fluorescent. In short, I love the pixel density and brightness (and, so far, the battery life), but I do not like the color reproduction. I don’t know if that’s the nature of OLED, or if it’s specific to the Nexus One.

Jeffery Battersby Reviews Pastebot for Macworld 

Pastebot isn’t just good. It (combined with its Mac component, Pastebot Sync) changed the way I use my iPhone. It’s that good.

Touchscreen Edge Cases 

David Barnard:

While fiddling with the Nexus One last week, I was incredibly annoyed at how many times I accidentally tapped the Home button while trying to tap the space bar on the software keyboard. [...]

While typing on the iPhone I’ve been subconsciously tapping slightly below the bottom row of the software keyboard because it requires less precision. My fingers were using that muscle memory while typing on the Nexus One keyboard.

Same thing with me using the Nexus One. And the Home button is a particularly annoying, almost devastating button to accidentally hit by mistake: boom, you’re back at the Home screen of the system, right when you were in mid-sentence, trying to type a space. Barnard links to this example of a Palm guy demoing the new Pre Plus making a similar mistake.

I think you can argue that this is a touchscreen application of Fitts’s Law.

‘Apple iPad’ 

MadTV sketch from 2006. (Via Jonas Wisser and Chris Herbert.)

MacRumors: ‘Will Apple’s Tablet Actually Be Called the iPad?’ 

I say no. I guess it’s not a bad name in and of itself, but it sounds and looks way too much like “iPod”. (And for what it’s worth, the “” domain name is not registered to MarkMonitor, Apple’s preferred domain registration service.)

I have heard nothing — zilch, zero — about the name of this thing from sources. So this is all just my opinion. If you wanted me to bet on a name, I’d say they bring back “iBook”. If so, maybe that’s the reason for the change from PowerBook and iBook to MacBook a few years ago. But that’s just a wild guess on my part, and mainly because I just think it’s a great name. Looks good, sounds good.

Second guess, even wilder guess: “Tablet”. Not “iTab”, not “iTablet”. I started referring to it as “The Tablet” just to have something to refer to it as, and because that’s what friends at Apple (who know nothing about the specifics) seem to call the whole secret project. (A lot of people at Apple refer to the iPhone as “the phone”, too.) But just plain “Tablet” actually started growing on me. Maybe it’s time to drop the whole “i” prefix thing anyway.

France Joins Germany Warning Against Internet Explorer 

This stuff about avoiding or abandoning IE6 is foolish. Everyone should abandon IE, period. These security problems will never end. How many strikes do they get before they’re out?

Also, if it’s true that Internet Explorer played some role in the Chinese security intrusion against Google, it raises the question of why in the world anyone at Google is using IE. What’s up with that?

Indie Relief 

Huge selection of indie Mac software, of which the entire proceeds tomorrow will be donated to Haitian relief. Great apps, great idea.

Why Is Tumblr Kicking Posterous’s Ass? 

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry argues it’s because Tumblr is better designed. (I concur. Although I still don’t get the whole “reblogging” thing.)

Gartner on Apple’s Share of Mobile App Sales 

Chris Foresman, on a new report from Gartner on mobile app sales:

Earlier this month, Apple announced that sales had topped 3 billion; that means iPhone users downloaded 2.5 billion apps in 2009 alone. Gartner’s figures show another 16 million apps that could come from other platforms’ recently opened app stores, giving Apple at least 99.4 percent of all mobile apps sold for the year.

I think Foresman is wrong here. Apple didn’t announce 3 billion App Store sales; they announced 3 billion downloads, including free apps. Apple has never (to my knowledge) publicly revealed the breakdown between free and paid app downloads from the App Store.

However, if Gartner is correct that all other platforms combined accounted for only 16 million mobile app sales last year, then Apple’s share of the market is astonishingly high. It’s not 99.4 percent, as Foresman indicates, but still crazy-ass high.

Update: Via email, Chris Foresman informs me that Gartner has clarified for him that their figures are indeed estimates of all apps downloaded for any platform in 2009, free or paid. In other words, Gartner is using the word “sale” to mean “download”, probably because that appeals to their market. So Gartner really is claiming that Apple has over 99 percent of the mobile app market. Wow.

Ed Bott: ‘It’s Time to Stop Using IE6’ 

I hear next week he’s going to say it’s time to stop using floppy disks.

John Siracusa Looks Back at His Decade-Ago Early Mac OS X Reviews 

Love this bit from page four, on why people love to save files to their desktops:

The reason is simple: the desktop is the one “place” on the computer that every user knows how to get to. People don’t even think of it as existing in the file hierarchy (though, of course, it does); to them it’s a location in the physical sense, and items placed within it behave almost as if they were real objects. A file can be “lost” in the file hierarchy — irretrievably, as far as novice users are concerned — but finding something on the desktop will never be any worse than rummaging through the messiest real-life junk drawer. And that bargain, that task of keeping things neat by placing, removing, and arranging, is something that people are comfortable with, and that their innate human abilities are tailored for.

Advanced Task Killer 

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, I switched, cold turkey, to a Nexus One on Friday. (I borrowed it from App Cubby developer David Barnard, who was kind enough to lend it to me for a few weeks.) I’ve been tweeting some initial observations, and eventually plan to write a full review/comparison to the iPhone.

As a snapshot, though, I can think of no better example to epitomize the difference between Android and iPhone OS than Advanced Task Killer, a third-party Android app. That this app even exists is, on the one hand, exactly what many Android fans like about Android, and on the other hand exactly what many iPhone fans see as wrong about Android. The truth is you do not need this app (or anything like it) for Android, but many Android users want it.

(Via Dave Winer.)


Worth a re-link, for those of you who bought new DF t-shirts last month.


Speaking of Grant Hutchinson and gorgeous gadgets, I’ve been meaning to link to his small collection of Sony Walkmen. I look at these and I can hear the tape hiss.

Grant Hutchinson’s ‘Batman’ Newton Prototype 

They were gorgeous gadgets.

Apple Announces Special Event for Wednesday January 27 

“Come see our latest creation.”

Verizon Palm Pre Plus Hands-On Video at Engadget 

They’ve got a native API for games now; the “Need for Speed” demo looks good. (Biggest niggle: That the carrier banner in the status bar says “Verizon Wireless” rather than just “Verizon”.)

Update: I know that the full name of the carrier is “Verizon Wireless”, and that it’s a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone, but, come on, everyone calls it “Verizon”, and those are valuable pixels. And for what it’s worth, the iPhone’s U.S. carrier’s full name is “AT&T Mobility”, but it just says “AT&T” up in the status bar.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush Lead Fundraising Efforts for Haiti 

Here’s where to go. “One hundred percent of your donation will go toward relief and recovery efforts in Haiti.”


My thanks to Sourcebits for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Sourcebits is a contract developer specializing in iPhone, mobile, Mac, and Web software. Their iPhone apps have been downloaded over 4.5 million times from the App Store, and they have a growing list of Android and BlackBerry apps, too. If you’re looking for software development services, check out Sourcebits’s web site for examples of their work, and contact them for a quote.

Company Introduces Sarcasm Punctuation Mark, Patent-Pending, for $2 

What a great idea. I’m sure it’ll be a huge hit.

Man of the Day: Jimmy Kimmel 

Don’t read the transcript first. Just scroll down and watch the second embedded video clip, of Jimmy Kimmel on Jay Leno’s show. Guy’s got stones.

The Text’s the Thing 

Dan Moren on the question of text entry on The Tablet. I’d say text entry alone is the biggest reason the tablet form factor has never (yet?) made for a hit product.

Garrett Murray’s Hands-On Nexus One Review for Uncrate 

Nicely done.

jQuery 1.4 Reference iPhone App 

Nice web app reference to jQuery 1.4.

WSJ on the Debate at Google Over China 

Jessica E. Vascellaro, reporting for the WSJ:

Mr. Schmidt made the argument he long has, according to these people, namely that it is moral to do business in China in an effort to try to open up the regime. Mr. Brin strenuously argued the other side, namely that the company had done enough trying and that it could no longer justify censoring its search results.

How the debate ultimately resolved itself remains unclear.

Actually, it seems pretty clear how it resolved.

Best Use of Quotation Marks in a Nixon White House Memo Ever 

Charles Colson lays the plan for getting Frank Sinatra on Team Nixon:

Preferably they would meet in the Oval Office briefly, then the President should indicate that he has had it for the day and invite Sinatra up to the Residence or over to the EOB office for “refreshments” and for a very informal one-on-one discussion.

Glaser’s Gig Prior to Real Networks: Vice President of Multimedia Systems at Microsoft 

Looking back at all the great material he provided, I’m sorry to see him go.

Magic 8-Ball Answers Your Questions Regarding Real Networks’ Harmony 

More classic Rob Glaser strategy.

Rob Glaser Forced Out as RealNetworks CEO 

John Paczkowski:

Rob Glaser is stepping down as CEO of Real Networks, the company he founded in 1994. Sources say the move was instigated by his own board, but that Glaser cooperated with the decision and was involved with the transition.

Hard to believe this could happen to a genius like Glaser. One of my favorite predictions ever was this one from Glaser in 2003 on the iPod:

“It’s absolutely clear now why five years from now, Apple will have 3 (percent) to 5 percent of the player market. … The history of the world is that hybridization yields better results.”

Apple still has a bit more than 5 percent of the music player market.

Macworld 2010: Indie Developer Spotlight 

IDG has announced some great new options for indie developers for next month’s Macworld Expo, including a $1,250 “Indie Developer Pavilion” kiosk. For indie developers who conduct so much of their business entirely via the web, a real-life opportunity to meet users — both existing and new — can be so valuable. Paul Kafasis of Rogue Amoeba nailed it back in June.

(Also worth mentioning: yours truly will be speaking at Macworld this year on Friday 12 February.)

Apple’s Multitouch Tech Began as ‘Safari Pad’ Concept 

I had forgotten about this 2007 article by The Times’s John Markoff, published the day before the iPhone went on sale, until Rene Ritchie linked to it today. Markoff had such great access to Steve Jobs — I can’t recall any other reporter who got this sort of access to him.

The iPhone could have an effect on the cellphone industry akin to the influence the Macintosh computer from Apple had on the personal computer industry in 1984, Mr. Jobs said. He said he thought that the iPhone’s “multitouch” control system, in which the fingers are used to scroll through data or enlarge photos on the screen, was the biggest shift in a computer’s user interface since the Macintosh was introduced.

“It’s the first thing to come along since the mouse and the bit-mapped display and take things to the next level,” he said.

Mr. Jobs seized on the multitouch technology after Apple product designers proposed it as a “safari pad,” a portable Web surfing appliance. Instead, he saw the technology as something that could be used for a similar purpose in a cellphone, a former Apple employee said.

The whole article is well worth a re-read.

Help Relief Efforts in Haiti, Get Seasonality Free 

Gaucho Software:

To encourage more people to donate to the relief efforts, Gaucho Software will be donating all proceeds from Seasonality sales (minus a $3 fee we pay to process an order) through the end of this month to the Partners In Health organization. In other words, help the cause, get Seasonality for free.

James Higgs: The Concept Is the Execution 

James Higgs:

There are a number of trigger phrases that people use to try to prevent you focusing on the detail of a project and back to nice, sweeping, high-level thinking, and ‘that’s executional’ is one of them. I think it is supposed to mean that the particular detail you’re focusing on is not central to the service under discussion and is something that can be worked out at a later date.

This attitude frustrates me so much because I think you make great services by obsessing over details. I think one of the ways to make awful services is by developing some pure, abstract concept in isolation from how people will actually use it. To me, the concept is contained in the execution.

I completely agree. The details are everything. (Via Liz Danzico, whose Bobulate has been simply terrific lately.)

Gordon — Open Source Flash Runtime Written in JavaScript 

Works on the iPhone, too.

The Big Picture: Earthquake in Haiti 

Scenes of devastation.

Help Haitians With a Donation to the American Red Cross 

I’m not sure what to say about the devastating earthquake in Haiti, other than to encourage you to help with a donation. (The form includes an Amazon payments option — super easy if you have an Amazon account.)

Another good option: Doctors Without Borders.

Boy Genius: ‘Apple’s Tablet Is an “iPhone on Steroids”’ 

Everything in BGR’s brief rumor report jibes with what I’ve been hearing. Except maybe instead of thinking of The Tablet as “an iPhone on steroids”, it might be better to think of the iPhone as a slimmed-down, pocket-sized little sibling to The Tablet. I heard a story this week — friend of a friend knows a guy sort of thing — that The Tablet is what Apple set out to build all along, and the iPhone was an offshoot that shipped first because the technology wasn’t there yet to produce The Tablet. In short, that Apple has had something bigger in mind — both physically and conceptually — from the outset.

Could be bullshit, but it’s a heck of a story.

Priori Acute 

If M.C. Escher had been a type designer.

Google to Cease Censoring Search Results in China 

Google senior vice president David Drummond:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

He also revealed that Google was the victim of a large-scale security attack last month, aimed at getting access to the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights advocates. The implication is clearly that the attack was the work of the Chinese government.

Good for Google.


Simple, stylish web app for shared meeting notes. Read more here.

Logic Pro 9.1 Release Notes 

Imagine if more Apple updates came with splendid release notes like this.

Conan O’Brien Says He Won’t Do ‘Tonight Show’ Following Leno 

Funny and eloquent statement, addressed to “People of Earth”. Don’t miss the dig he slips in at Leno’s abysmal 10pm ratings:

It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule.

David Letterman’s Advice to NBC 

Dave at his best, including his Leno impression. (Via Dan Benjamin.)

See also (via Rod Begbie): this graph of the current late night landscape from the Chicago Tribune. Not much to argue with.

A Week With Chrome for Mac 

Nice overview of Chrome for Mac by Rob Friesel:

That said, I’ve tried out more than a few browsers over the years and almost always wind up “switching back” after a day or two (or at most: a week or two). With that in mind, I was more than expecting to go “Meh, back to Safari…” by the end of the week.

But at the end of that week, I’m beginning to think that Chrome might stick around for quite some time as my day-to-day browsing browser.

This seems to be a common experience. Mac users try Chrome, nothing blows them away right out of the gate, but then after a week or so it starts to stick. (Part of the not-blown-away-at-the-start factor is that Safari is a good browser.)

‘I Told the Guards Just What I Was Going to Do to Them When the Russians Came’ 

Kurt Vonnegut’s letter home upon getting out of a German POW camp in World War II.

Is the United States Senate Filibuster Rule Unconstitutional? 

Thomas Geoghegan:

But the Senate, as it now operates, really has become unconstitutional: as we saw during the recent health care debacle, a 60-vote majority is required to overcome a filibuster and pass any contested bill. The founders, though, were dead set against supermajorities as a general rule, and the ever-present filibuster threat has made the Senate a more extreme check on the popular will than they ever intended.

‘Does My Company Need an iPhone App?’ Is the New ‘Does My Company Need a Web Site?’ 

The shakeout in the next few years is going to be whether you just need an iPhone app, or whether you need a lineup of mobile apps.

How Pinboard Works 

Maciej Ceglowski:

Our technical goals are to never lose data, be very fast, and favor boring and faded technologies where possible. A rule of thumb that has worked well for me is that if I’m excited to play around with something, it probably doesn’t belong in production.

Update: Now a 404, alas. Here’s a version from the Internet Archive.

MG Siegler on the Nexus One 

MG Siegler:

Perhaps the single biggest reason that I like Apple products, and their software, in particular, is the attention to detail the company puts in. In my mind, that’s exactly what still separates the iPhone from all the Android phones. It’s the little things. The things that are almost too small for you to even notice, but which make the experience subtly better.

Avie Tevanian Joins Elevation Partners as Managing Director 

Elevation Partners’s managing director is former Apple CFO Fred Anderson, and they’re a big investor in Palm. It’s a regular club for former Apple executives.

The Killer App That Busted Ski-Resort Snow Jobs 

iPhone app for reporting snow levels at ski resorts busted the resorts’ practice of claiming exaggerated snow levels.

That’s ‘Confirmation’? Really, TechCrunch? 

I know, I should be slapped for being surprised at a link-bait headline from TechCrunch’s Robin Wauters. But, man, this one is just horrendous. Carriers do not get to see Apple products in advance. Remember Stan Sigman, CEO of Cingular? He admitted it flatly when the iPhone debuted: Cingular agreed to carry the iPhone without having seen it.

And, for what it’s worth, I’m hearing there is no camera, webcam or otherwise, on The Tablet.

The Third & The Seventh 

Wonderful, gorgeous short film by Alex Roman. Hard to believe, but it’s almost entirely CG.

Small Caps 

Aegir Hallmundur:

Making a typographic decision based on some political or class motivation is fine if it’s appropriate for the text, but beyond that vanishingly rare case it’s a mere affectation. Don’t be swayed by trash-talking and accusations of ‘snobbery’, please.

Tim Van Damme: Dreaming of an Apple Tablet 

Lovely diagrams, too.


Clever, usable, well-designed $2 audio waveform editor for the iPhone, premised on the idea of making edited gag recordings of your friends. The waveform trimming and editing feature is just great — I wish the iPhone OS’s built-in “trim” UI worked more like this.

Against Small Caps for Acronyms 

Joe Clark argues that the problem isn’t (just) old-style 1’s that look like small-cap I’s, but the practice of setting acronyms in small caps.

Om Malik: Motorola Should Buy Palm 

I agree with Om. If you want to compete in today’s mobile market, you need great software. The problem with Android for Motorola is that they don’t own the software. If they bought Palm, they would.

Typeface Designers Wrestle With the World of Pixels 

Speaking of typography, Alice Rawsthorn has a profile of H&FJ type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones, regarding the difficulties they face in the shift from print to pixels.

Al Gore’s Number 1 

Al Gore, seeker of typographic clarity. (Most of Edward Tufte’s marvelous books, set in Bembo, use an old-style numeral 1 similar to the unambiguous figure preferred by Gore.)

Touchscreen Accuracy Analysis 

The iPhone’s is best. HTC’s are good. The Motorola Droid’s seems wacko.

Boy Genius on Android 

Boy Genius:

Other issues that I can’t live with day to day? How do I copy text from non-editable field like an email, webpage, or SMS, or even a 3rd party application? Oh, I can’t. Say what you want about the iPhone not having copy and paste for two years — a joke — it’s the single best implementation on the planet for a smartphone and Google’s approach is almost as bad as RIM’s with the Storm-series.

It’s not just the iPhone’s interface for copy-and-paste; it’s also the interface for selecting text and pictures before you can copy them. I’d say it’s one of the nicest and most thoughtful UI designs I have ever seen.

Natural-Born Product Category Fillers 

The Macalope on Microsoft:

They’ve already used up surface, tablet, and slate. They’re running out of flat things.

Pop Software 

Guy English:

Over the week covering this past Christmas Day a piece of software I had contributed to was downloaded two million times.

Neven Mrgan on Whether Apple Will Get Into the Publishing Business 

Interesting piece from Neven Mrgan, disagreeing with Andy Ihnatko’s guess that Apple, rather than get into the business of publishing e-books and periodical content, will simply let publishers make their own apps for distributing said content. Neven hopes Andy is wrong, so that it is easier for writers and other non-developers to publish. I do too.

Here’s my other thought: the old-growth print industry — books, magazines, and newspapers — have shown zero aptitude to date to produce compelling designs and business models for digital content. Left to themselves, they’d botch this too. And who wants a dozen different apps for accessing e-books? As Craig Hockenberry tweeted, “It’s like asking bands to release an app for each album. We need MP3 for words.”

More From Bruce Schneier on Air Travel Security 

Bruce Schneier:

The Underwear Bomber is precisely the sort of story we humans tend to overreact to. Our brains aren’t very good at probability and risk analysis, especially when it comes to rare events. Our brains are much better at processing the simple risks we’ve had to deal with throughout most of our species’ existence, and much poorer at evaluating the complex risks modern society forces us to face. We exaggerate spectacular rare events, and downplay familiar and common ones.

Lose It or Lose It 

My thanks to Lose It or Lose It for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. Lose It or Lose It is a novel community site for those trying to lose weight. Their trick is that you motivate yourself by putting money up front; fall behind in your goals, and you lose a portion of your money. Sort of reminds me of a kinder, gentler version of the outfit in the excellent Stephen King short story, “Quitters Inc.

Andy Ihnatko on the Rumored Apple Tablet 

Months like this are why I got into this racket. So much fun. Ihnatko’s predictions/assumptions are, unsurprisingly, damn good. Love this bit:

It’s not so much the quality of the latest “Apple will unveil their long-rumored tablet” scuttlebutt that convinced me to make the gamble… it’s the velocity. It’s hard to codify but as the debut of an under-wraps Apple device becomes imminent, Apple begins to collectively sigh with relief. The noise leaks out through the weatherstripping of the company’s legendary Storm Door Of Silence and though it doesn’t say anything as helpful as “10.2-inch OLED touchscreen, $699, mobile broadband contract is optional” it does say “Andy, book yourself a trip to San Francisco.”

Poor AT&T Coverage at CES 


Apple at CES 2010 Claim Chowder 

“Prince McLean” at AppleInsider, one year ago:

On the heels of announcing its plans to bail on Macworld Expo next year, Apple will be instead attending the more generic Consumer Electronics Show in 2010, according to sources familiar with the matter. [...]

Sources close to the company have indicated to AppleInsider that the move is a done deal, a remarkable turn of events given that CES has long been dominated by Microsoft’s product announcements issued in keynotes delivered by Bill Gates and now by CEO Steve Ballmer.

I haven’t seen any pictures of Apple’s booth at CES yet. Did they announce any new products?

Kottke Rates NFL Pundits’ Preseason Predictions 

For the record, I’m picking the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl.

Palm’s Verizon WebOS Phones Will Feature Built-In Tethering 

Not just tethering, but tethering for up to five clients — pretty much like having a built-in Mi-Fi. Must be nice to be on Verizon.

Meanwhile, over in AT&T’s shantytown, still no iPhone tethering at all.

Craig Ferguson on the Leno/Conan/NBC Rumors 


Jim Dalrymple’s Tablet Prognostications 

Another good (and interesting) set of predictions. I hadn’t really thought about it much, but Dalrymple is calling for two tablet models, exactly like the iPhone and iPod Touch — same rough specs except one of them will have 3G and the other will be Wi-Fi only. That raises the question of which carrier(s). I’ll go out on a limb and say “not AT&T”.

Dalrymple also predicts that the tablets will run a next-gen release of iPhone OS, will support existing iPhone OS apps, and will work with Bluetooth keyboards. OK, but then:

  • Existing iPhone apps could be made to run on a 10-inch display, either by scaling them or by running them as small on-screen widgets that only take up a quarter of the display. But that doesn’t work both ways: any app designed to use the full 10-inch display could never run on a 3.5-inch display.

  • And, as for keyboards, that’d be welcome, but if the tablets are running “the exact same operating system that is used in the iPhone” wouldn’t that mean that Bluetooth keyboard support is coming to iPhones and iPod Touches too?

Greenpeace and Apple, Sitting in a Tree 

Apple now ranked first in Greenpeace’s rankings of consumer electronics.

Jackass of the Week: Henry Blodget 

Remember how with the iPod, year after year, we were inundated with punditry arguing that the iPod would suffer the same fate as the Mac — “superior technology beaten in the market by cheaper commodity products because Apple tried to maintain too much control”. Or some similar analogy. That didn’t work out well for those pundits.

I haven’t seen as much of that with the iPhone, but Henry Blodget is giving it the old college try, positioning Android as the Windows in the analogy. Now, it’s true that Android is open and the iPhone isn’t, and Android is definitely gaining attention and market share. But the analogy has no legs. The mobile OS market today bears almost no resemblance to the PC market of the ’80s. Blodget can’t even muster an argument as to what Apple should be doing differently. Really: What? License the iPhone OS to other handset makers? Give me a break.

Anyway, this argument is stupid if for no other reason than that iPhone sales are still growing fast.

Nil by Mouth 

Lovely piece by Roger Ebert, on whether it’s sad that he can no longer eat or drink.

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss 

Or, as Dominik Wagner quipped, “I, for one, welcome our {blue,red,yellow,green} overlords.”

Embarrassed Canada Zaps Thousands of Web Sites in Response to Yes Men Hoax 

Hilarious prank leads to European web hosting provider pulling the plug on thousands of web sites. Egregious.

Engadget’s Live Coverage of Steve Ballmer’s CES Keynote 

One odd takeaway: what Microsoft once called “tablet PCs”, it now calls “slate PCs”. This strikes me as beyond coincidence regarding the hype from MacRumors’ story that Apple has the trademark and domain name for “iSlate”. I honestly think Microsoft renamed these things on the basis on a rumored name for Apple’s tablet, just to try to fuck with them. (I can’t wait for all the stories, when Apple unveils The Tablet with some name other than “iSlate”, that Apple changed the name at the last minute because of these Microsoft jobbies.)

Anyway, all these “slates” announced tonight are just tablet PCs running Windows 7 — a terrible interface for a touch screen. Nice job, Ashlee Vance of the New York Times.

Maybe Microsoft thinks they’re somehow sticking it to Apple by taking the “slate” name first, but everything tablet-related they announced on stage was boring non-news. The only cool stuff they announced (Natal) isn’t going to ship for close to a year. This is a comparison they want to draw with Apple? I’m left with the impression of a company that’s flailing.

Microsoft CES Keynote PR Leaks Early; HP Slate Device Is Just a PC 

Can you imagine the PR from a Steve Jobs keynote leaking early?

Garrett Murray’s Initial Nexus One Impressions 

Good take from an iPhone user and developer.

The Annals of Newspaper Technology Journalism 

Rupert Neate, reporting for The Telegraph from CES on how “Microsoft was on Wednesday night expected to upstage Apple by announcing a ‘tablet’ handheld computer before its Californian competitor”:

Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, was expected to reveal the device during a speech to officially open the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The device could be a major blow to Apple, which is widely expected to unveil its tablet, thought to be called iSlate, on January 27. It will also challenge e-readers, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s eReader.

I like Andy Ihnatko’s take better.

Um, OK 

Paul Thurrott, reporting from CES in Las Vegas:

I spent about an hour and a half meeting with [Lenovo] this morning and while I am charitably described as a ThinkPad fanboy, the truth is, they just make the best notebooks on earth. And now they’re getting even better. It’s dizzying. I posted a bit about this yesterday, but there is so much going on here. In fact, their near-final version of a tiny notebook with a breakaway tablet screen absolutely kills anything Apple could possibly announce later this month. It’s not even close.

Total Number of Apps 

Greg Stein on the uselessness of touting the 100,000 total apps in the iPhone App Store as a deciding factor:

Google stopped putting the “pages indexed” on its front page many years ago because it realized a key principle: the value is in the results, not the quantity.

As I wrote in October, if the sheer number of apps available for a platform is inherently an advantage, we’d all be using Windows. It is good for Apple and good for iPhone users that there’s so much developer interest in the platform. But what matters most is quality. I think the iPhone wins there too, but there’s no easy way to make that comparison numerically.

Netflix to Wait 28 Days Before Renting New Releases From Warner Brothers 

The lack of delay for new releases is one of the main reasons I still use Netflix rather than relying on iTunes. Sad to see them cave.

Update: A slew of reader feedback arguing that this is a good deal on Netflix’s part, especially for access to more streaming content. And John August says it’s not a bad thing. Could well be that I’m just biased because I disagree with the trade-off.

David Pogue Reviews the Nexus One 

Two of his dings against it:

The Nexus can accommodate memory cards up to 32 gigabytes (a 4-gigabyte card comes with it) — and yet, inexplicably, the Nexus allots only a tiny 190 megabytes of storage for downloaded apps. [...]

There’s no physical ringer on-off switch (you have to do it on the screen), and therefore no way to tell by touch if the ringer is off, as you can on the iPhone and Palm phones.

Google’s Nexus Name Irks Estate of Author Philip K. Dick 

Would it kill Google to cut them a check?

John Martellaro on How Apple Does Controlled Leaks 

Former Apple marketing manager John Martellaro:

Monday’s article at the Wall Street Journal, which provided confirmation of an Apple tablet device, had all the earmarks of a controlled leak. Here’s how Apple does it.

Update: To be clear, I’ve never gotten such a “controlled leak”, nor do I know anyone who has. I think you can count on one hand, with fingers to spare, the reporters Apple does this with. I’m not even sure there’s anyone other than the WSJ.

AT&T Says They’re Launching Five Android Devices 2010 

Once this happens, there will be Android phones available from all four major U.S. carriers.

The State of Newspaper Web Design 

Speaking of Greg Storey, he’s got a nice piece on just how far even design-minded newspapers have to go to make the shift from paper to digital.

Bruce Schneier’s TSA Logo Contest 

This should be good.

The Steve Jobs on Magazine Covers Page 

85 magazine covers featuring Steve Jobs, from 1981–present, curated by Sam Kuo. See also: the 10 best list at SPD. (Via Greg Storey.)

MacBreak Weekly, Episode 174 

Yours truly was a guest on this week’s MacBreak Weekly, with Leo Laporte, Alex Lindsay, and Andy Ihnatko. Talking about, of course, The Tablet and the Nexus One.

NYT: Steve Ballmer to Unveil Microsoft/HP ‘Slate-Type Computer’ Tomorrow at CES 

Maybe it’s awesome.

I Can’t Believe Walt Mossberg Is Going Along With Google’s Marketing Line That the Nexus One Is Part of a New Device Category Called ‘Super-Smartphones’ 

Or “superphones” or whatever. I really like the looks of the Nexus One — clearly the best Android phone to date, and almost certainly the best mobile device in the world next to the iPhone 3GS — but why invent a silly new term on top of the already plenty-vague “smartphone”?

Update: Ends up Mossberg has been using this term for a while. What’s next? Ultra-smartphones? Über-smartphones? Super-duper-smartphones?

Quattro Wireless Confirms Acquisition by Apple 

CEO Andy Miller is now vice president of mobile advertising at Apple.

Eric Jacobsen on Busted iPhone-Optimized Web Site Redirects 

Very annoying, and getting worse in my experience.

Unison 2.0 

Major update to Panic’s gorgeous Usenet client for Mac OS X. Even if you don’t use Usenet, it’s interesting just to see the UI details, like, say, the green demo period expiration reminder in the window title bar, and the section headers in the source list. Lovely work.

NSConference 2010 

Indie developer conference — one-day for iPhone, two-day for Mac — being held in Atlanta February 21–23 (and in the U.K. February 1–3). Good speaker lineup, including Wolf Rentzsch and Aaron Hillegass.

Om Malik Interviews Google’s Mobile Chief Andy Rubin 

Regarding Android partners like Verizon and Motorola being upset about the Nexus One:

“People shouldn’t focus too much on the device (Nexus One),” said Rubin. “What’s more important is the strategy behind the devices.”

Yes, what better way to get the press not to focus on a device than to hold a big press conference to announce a device, talk about how great it is, and give one away to everyone who attends?


$7 window management utility from Irradiated Software. Drag any standard window to the left or right edge of a screen to resize it to fill that half of the screen, or drag to the top of the screen to zoom it full-screen. A clever, simple Mac take on Windows 7’s “window snap” feature. See also: SizeUp, sort of a big brother to Cinch. (Via Andy Ihnatko on MBW.)

Nexus One Tech Specs 

Highlights include the 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU, 512 MB of RAM (the iPhone 3GS only has 256), a second microphone used for noise cancellation, and 720x480 video from the camera. Only on T-Mobile today, but they’ve announced that it’s coming to Verizon “this spring”. (Mark Pilgrim’s live-tweet coverage offers a good run-down of the highlights from the press event.)

LaunchCodes: Creator Code Support for Snow Leopard 

New $5 utility by Ross Carter and Patrick Thomson. LaunchCodes partially restores the pre-10.6 behavior of setting default applications for files based on HFS creator codes (rather than the 10.6 behavior of relying solely on file name extensions). It does this with no hacks, just good clean by-the-book cleverness.

It’s not perfect, though, as Michael Tsai explains.

Consumerist Exposé on Best Buy PC ‘Optimization’ 


When the Consumer Reports engineers compared three “optimized” computers to ones with default factory settings, there was no performance improvement. In one case, an optimized laptop actually performed 32% worse than the factory model.

It’s also a bait-and-switch tactic, to get you to pay $40 more than the advertised price.

Three Billion Served 

Apple announces the three-billionth download from the App Store:

“Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months — this is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “The revolutionary App Store offers iPhone and iPod touch users an experience unlike anything else available on other mobile devices, and we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.”

Walt Mossberg Reviews Litl, the Cloud-Based Laptop 

A terrific idea, but performance and battery life aren’t there yet.

Nokia Plans to Patch Hole From Iceberg by 2011 

Nokia executive vice-president Rick Simonson, in an interview with The Economic Times:

By 2011, our efforts will start producing results, as we will be at par with Apple and RIM in smartphones. Not only we draw level with them, we will also win the war because, in addition to email, we will be adding content, chat, music, entertainment and several other features, which will soon become very critical for success of any company in this space.

Even with where Apple (and RIM) will be in 2011, or even with where they were in 2009? And in what way have “content, chat, music, and entertainment” not been key factors in the iPhone’s success since 2007?

Kara Swisher: Apple to Buy Mobile Ad Firm Quattro Wireless 

Kara Swisher:

Apple is set to announce that it has acquired Quattro Wireless for $275 million, several sources confirmed.

The announcement might come as soon as tomorrow, upping the ante in the mobile advertising business significantly. Google recently forked over an astonishing $750 million for AdMob, a Quattro competitor, which Apple had also made a bid to acquire.

WSJ: ‘Apple to Ship Tablet Device in March’ 

Yukari Iwatani Kane and Geoffrey A. Fowler, reporting for the WSJ:

Looking to build on the momentum of its iPhone and iPod, Apple Inc. will unveil a new multimedia tablet device later this month, but isn’t planning to ship the product until March, say people briefed by the company.

While the device’s ship date hasn’t been finalized and could still change, people briefed on the matter said the new product will come with a 10 to 11-inch touch screen—which would make it closer in size to Apple’s line of MacBook laptops than its smart phone.

Apple was working on two different material finishes for the device, one of these people said, though it was unclear whether the Cupertino, Calif., company was just testing the finishes or planning to come out with multiple versions of a tablet at different prices.

Weird that they’re so certain about the ship date but uncertain about the finish. And no word in the remainder of the story describing the two “finishes”.

YML’s Year-End Wrap Up 

Forgot to mention this last week: I was a guest on Your Mac Life’s 2009 year-end wrap up, talking with Shawn King about the biggest stories of the past year.

John Paczkowski: Apple Media Event Wednesday 27 January 

John Paczkowski:

The gathering is to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, a space Apple often uses for media events like these. According to other sources, it will occur on Wednesday Jan. 27, not Tuesday Jan. 26, as had been rumored.

Why Apple Will Never Make Printers Again 

Matt Deatherage:

Frankly, there’s no money in printers, only in printer supplies — and you can only get that revenue if you make the printing engine. Apple never did.

Glenn Fleishman’s Detailed Review of the Mac Mini With Snow Leopard Server 

His major gripes: the 4 GB cap on RAM, and the relatively slow 5,400 RPM hard drives.

A Form of Madness 

Mark Pilgrim’s Dive Into HTML5 chapter on web forms.

Living in a Tokyo ‘Capsule’ Hotel 

Reminds me of the salarymen who bunked in Kramer’s chest of drawers that one time on Seinfeld.

Chinese New Year 

Intriguing look at China’s currency policies from Paul Krugman.

It’s Almost as Though He’s Trying to Write Something We’ll Make Fun of Later 

Joe Wilcox:

So I’ll assert what should be obvious to anyone thinking rationally and not emotionally: Tablet is a nowhere category. For all the hype about an Apple tablet, it is at best a niche product. The world doesn’t need an Apple tablet, no matter what the hype about rumored features or regardless of what actually releases (if anything).

I will add that I do not believe Apple’s stock price is based on tablet speculation (Wilcox states that it is, and that therefore Apple is poised for a stock collapse if the tablet isn’t a hit). I think Apple’s stock value is based on speculation on the continued growth of the iPhone and Mac.

John Siracusa Speculates on The Tablet 

I wouldn’t bet against any of it.


My thanks to Edovia for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Warships, their new battleships game for the iPhone. Great graphics, good gameplay, three levels of AI — and, best of all, a two-player mode directly between two iPhones or iPod Touches. Available on the App Store for a limited time for just 99 cents.

1987 ‘Knowledge Navigator’ Concept Video From Apple 

From the era when Apple made amazing concept videos.