Linked List: March 2010


David Pogue:

Speaking of video: Apple asserts that the iPad runs 10 hours on a charge of its nonremovable battery — but we all know you can’t trust the manufacturer. And sure enough, in my own test, the iPad played movies continuously from 7:30 a.m. to 7:53 p.m. — more than 12 hours. That’s four times as long as a typical laptop or portable DVD player.



After spending hours and hours with it, I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop.


Andy Ihnatko:

In fact, after a week with the iPad, I’m suddenly wondering if any other company is as committed to invention as Apple. Has any other company ever demonstrated a restlessness to stray from the safe and proven, and actually invent things?

The bastard has four other iPad articles already.

Ed Baig: ‘The First iPad Is a Winnerl 

I love how Baig, Pogue, and Mossberg get review units before everyone else, and race to publish their reviews. Where by “love” I of course mean “hate”.

Lifehacker on Password Security 

Interesting how much more secure 8-character passwords are than 7.

Nokia N97 Promotional Video vs Real Life 

What a turd.

Court Says President Bush Violated Wiretapping Laws With Warrantless Wiretap 

Remember when this shithead was our president?

If you haven’t been following the fight over the legality of warrantless wiretapping, this case, involving lawyers working with the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, is extremely important. When it was revealed that the Bush administration was wiretapping phonecalls without a warrant, lawsuits were filed — but the “problem” was that the parties (such as the ACLU) that filed the lawsuits didn’t have “standing” because they had no evidence that they, personally, were impacted by the warrantless wiretapping. This created a ridiculous Catch-22 situation. As long as the government hid its illegal activities and never said who it spied on, it could spy on anyone illegally. No one could bring a lawsuit, since there was no proof that they had been impacted by the illegal spying.

Then the feds screwed up. They accidentally sent the evidence of wiretapping some lawyers for the Al-Haramain group to those lawyers.

Germans Love David Hasselhoff 

Jesus Diaz:

According to a reliable source, Apple Germany had ordered only 75,000 iPads. Against all their predictions, they got 250,000 orders.

Does anyone still doubt that this is going to be huge?

Another Good Quarter for RIM 

They missed revenue estimates, but subscriber growth is up, and that’s what matters.

Only 90 People Preordered JooJoo Tablet, 15 Canceled It 

Speaking of iPad rivals.

ShakeItPhoto: Polaroid-Style Photo App for iPhone 

Seems to be the app used by David Guttenfelder for his aforelinked Afghanistan combat photos. (Via The Ref.)

‘Premium’ HDMI Cables Are a Rip-Off 

The Rip:

With analog cables, the signal degrades, with digital cables such as HDMI, it either works or it doesn’t. The signal doesn’t degrade any more than your JPEGs degrade when you put them on a thumb drive.

Asus Talking Up iPad Rivals 

Elizabeth Woyke, reporting for Forbes:

Asus is about to roll out its own iPad rivals. In an interview with Forbes, Shih revealed that Asus is planning to release “at least two” tablet PCs in the coming months. [...] Shih said one Asus tablet will likely run Google software, such as the upcoming open-source operating system, Chrome, or the mobile operating system, Android.

They don’t know yet? (And if it’s Chrome OS, just how soon could it arrive?)

The other will probably be based on Microsoft’s Windows platform.

“Probably”? Yes, these iPad competitors from Asus sound imminent and thoroughly thought-out.

Scathing Critique of Ogg 

Måns is not a fan, to say the least.

David Guttenfelder’s Afghanistan iPhone Photos 

iPhone as photojournalism tool.

DoubleTwist Adds iTunes-Like Interface for Android Market 

If you’ve got a Mac and an Android phone, I’ll bet you want this.


Backup service for WordPress sites. Great idea.

Engadget: Google to Begin Decoupling Apps and Components From Android OS 

The idea is to fight the current Android fragmentation, where there are still phones being sold with OS 1.5, 1.6, and 2.0, and with no upgrades to the current 2.1 in sight, that future versions of the OS will have all major apps and components upgradeable via the Android Market. Chris Ziegler writes:

Put simply, Google’s been iterating the core far faster than most of its partners have been able to keep up.

Google has been iterating quickly, but the problem is that carriers aren’t interested in any updates at all for phones they’ve already sold. The carriers have learned nothing from the iPhone, or, maybe they just don’t care about Android as a platform.

So, in the end, OS version fragmentation may be less of a problem for Android users — two years from now. Current Android users, except for Nexus One owners, are shit out of luck. Hope you like Android 1.6 if that’s what your phone shipped with.

Mac OS X 10.6.3 

Lots of security fixes.

Apple’s iPad Guided Tour Videos 

Well-done, as usual.

Cost of First-Generation Apple Products, Adjusted for Inflation 

43 iPads for one Apple Lisa.

Google Working on Improved Support for Flash Player in Chrome 

They’re going to make Flash Player part of the default Chrome browser installation. Unclear if this applies to Chrome OS, too.

Leaked Screenshots of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011  

Icon for the Save button is still a floppy disk, despite the fact that Apple hasn’t sold a machine with a floppy drive for a decade.

Update: Email from a DF reader:

I help out in an elementary school, sometimes in the computer lab, and always get a laugh out of how there is absolutely no way to convey to a bunch of 8 year old kids which button they should click to save without physically pointing it out or describing the one next to it.

Tell them to “click the disk” and they look around for a CD icon. Tell them to “click the floppy disk” and they laugh at the word “floppy.” The machines have floppy disk drives, but the kids have never seen them used.

Photos of Dew-Covered Insects 


TomTom Add Lifetime Maps/Traffic to Some Devices 

The standalone GPS market is fighting for relevance.

Engadget Says It’ll Be Named ‘iPhone HD’ 

I hadn’t heard anything about a name, but “HD” makes sense given the 960⁠ ⁠×⁠ ⁠640 display. If they’re going to call it the HD, then perhaps the main camera will shoot HD video, too? I don’t see how a phone named “HD” could have a camera that only shoots standard-def video.

Engadget also reports a possible introduction event date of June 22. Last year Apple announced the 3GS at the WWDC keynote in early June. If WWDC is held the week of, say, June 7, I wouldn’t bet against an announcement then.

Free MapQuest iPhone App Adds Voice Navigation  

Stan Schroeder:

It’s quite inevitable, really: after Google announced free turn-by-turn GPS navigation for Android devices — followed by Nokia’s decision to offer the same on its smartphones — the price of full-featured GPS navigation apps on other platforms is hurtling towards zero.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Gets It 

Marc Benioff:

The future of our industry now looks totally different than the past. It looks like a sheet of paper, and it’s called the iPad. It’s not about typing or clicking; it’s about touching. It’s not about text, or even animation, it’s about video. It’s not about a local disk, or even a desktop, it’s about the cloud. It’s not about pulling information; it’s about push. It’s not about repurposing old software, it’s about writing everything from scratch (because you want to take advantage of the awesome potential of the new computers and the new cloud—and because you have to reach this pinnacle). Finally, the industry is fun again.

(I’m loving these guest columns at TechCrunch.)

WSJ’s Lame Entry in the iPhone Rumors Game 

The Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. is developing a new iPhone to debut this summer and also appears to be working on a model for U.S. mobile phone operator Verizon Wireless, say people briefed on the matter.

Keep in mind there’s a big difference between “is” and “appears to be”. And they have no actual details of the next-generation iPhone. Nothing. Not the A4-family CPU system-on-a-chip. Not the 960⁠ ⁠×⁠ ⁠640 double-resolution display. Not the second front-facing camera. Not even the third-party multitasking in iPhone OS 4. All they have is that there’s going to be a new iPhone this summer, period. Thanks for the scoop, Yukari Iwatani Kane.

Pageview Pumping 

MG Siegler:

But what interests me about all this is the underlying war going on between those playing the pageview game, and those that hate the pageview game. To put it another (simplified) way: the war between quality versus quantity.

Siegler comes close to getting it, but falls short. Pageviews, as a metric used for directly billing advertisers, are a scam. Publishers game it with sensational link-bait articles and bullshit tricks like breaking articles into multiple “pages”. Advertisers get stuck paying for valueless impressions. Readers get stuck with the sensational bullshit articles, the tricks (like breaking single articles into multiple “pages”), and suffer through too many annoying ads surrounding actual content.

It is, as Jim Coudal and I argued at SXSW, a race to the bottom. Be careful of the “everyones” who say pageviews are imperfect but the best we can do. They’re the ones who are happy with the web as a market for bullshit.

‘Another Nail in Apple’s Coffin’ 

Harry McCracken, looking back at Microsoft Bob, 15 years after its release:

Analyst Charles Finnie of Volpe, Welty & Co. called Microsoft’s product a threat to the very existence of Microsoft’s competitor in Cupertino. “Bob is going to be another nail in Apple’s coffin unless Apple can somehow raise the standard yet again on the ease-of-use front,” he told the AP.

Someone Needs to Take Econ 101 

Douglas A. McIntyre says that because iPad demand is higher than expected, Apple may have to cut prices. Uh...

Not Much of an Argument, Really 

Matt Buchanan:

It’s interesting, to say the least, that a device promising to be the best browsing experience — cue Scott Forestall crazy eyes — is in fact reshaping the internet. You could argue it’s for the better, moving sites away from proprietary formats and heavy, resource-sucking designs to more open standards, and more efficient layouts that are easier to use (as many have, convincingly).

What’s the other argument?

Cameron Moll on SXSWi 2010 

Cameron Moll:

I’ll confess: Every year, I’m one of those guys that gripes about SXSWi being too big, about the content being poor, and about the assumption that this year is finally the peak year and things will die off next year.

Well, this year, I was pleasantly mistaken.


Brightcove to Add Support for HTML5 Video 

Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove:

We have a very strong strategic alliance with Adobe, and we continue to believe that it is in our interests and the interests of our customers to be at the forefront of innovation on around the Flash Platform.  Our work with HTML5 is in addition to, not instead of, our work with Flash.

This “HTML5 video in addition to Flash” strategy is the way it’s going to go across the board. The question is what sites will serve to browsers like Safari and Chrome, which support both.

Cigarette Book Packaging 

I’ll take a pack of Kafkas.

HDR Photos of Tokyo 

Gorgeous. (Via John Nack.)

Pricing Surveys Are Worthless 

New story from eWeek:

NPD found pricing, even among Apple product owners, to be a major issue, with 43 percent of respondents saying they found the iPad too expensive. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 57 percent cited price as the No. 1 reason they weren’t ready to head to the Apple store April 3 — or any time soon.

Hmm, but what about back in January, when rumors (reported by The Wall Street Journal) held that the iPad would be announced with prices starting at $999? ChangeWave Research found:

Among interested consumers, three-quarters say they’re willing to pay $500 or more for the new ‘iSlate,’ and 37% say they’d pay more than $700.

And Retrevo:

When we asked consumers what price would discourage them from buying an Apple tablet, 70% of respondents said anything over $700 would be a deal killer. On the other hand, 30% appear to have the desire, deep pockets, and willingness to spend more than $700 which isn’t bad.

The people responding to these surveys aren’t stupid — they want to pay less money. It’s the people conducting and publishing these surveys, pretending they mean anything, who are stupid. The only “pricing survey” that matters is the market. I’m pretty sure the iPad is going to do just fine there.

The Rage Is Not About Health Care 

Frank Rich:

The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded.

TED Goes H.264 

Chris Anderson announces a non-Flash version of for iPhone OS.

Dan Lyons Flip-Flops on iPad 

Switched from wrong (at the January media event) to right (in this week’s Newsweek cover story).

Gawker Publishes Pro-Flash Comments From Anonymous News Publishers 

It’s a simple choice: do something other than Flash and get your content on the iPad, or stick with Flash and ignore the iPad. Complaining about the iPad’s lack of Flash doesn’t constitute a decision.

Update: Here’s the best point made:

“Steve has not offered a solution to that. Where is my HTML5 development tool? Perhaps he needs to try some Flash development first-hand to see what the big deal is.”

There’s a real need for a high-level IDE that does for HTML5 (canvas, JavaScript, video, audio, databases) what Flash’s dev tools do for Flash Player. Imagine the joy if it were Adobe that made it.

Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt, Having Coffee 

How about that.

James Cameron’s Pursuit of Technical Perfection 

The Hollywood Reporter, on the 100 different versions of Avatar created for various countries, theater, and screen sizes:

In some cases, a single multiplex required different versions for different auditorium configurations. Creative decisions involving light levels also led to additional versions. 3D projection and glasses cut down the light the viewer sees, so “Avatar” also had separate color grades at different light levels, which are measured in foot lamberts.

“If we had just sent out one version of the movie, it would have been very dark (in the larger theaters),” Barnett says. “We had a very big flow chart with all of the different steps, so we could send the right media to the right theater.”

Kubrickian. (Via Kottke.)

MacUpdate’s $49.99 Spring Bundle 

My thanks to MacUpdate for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Spring 2010 bundle of Mac apps. Apps include: Parallels Desktop 5, Timeline 3D, Hydra, Spell Catcher, Back-in-Time, ForeverSave, WebSnapper, MacDVDRipper Pro, MacScan, and HyperSpaces — all for just $49.99.

Bant — Diabetes Monitoring iPhone App 

Free app, developed by a team at Toronto General Hospital. Looks useful and very well-designed. (Named after Frederick Banting, the discoverer of insulin.)

Army, Apple Meet to Discuss Hand-Held Solutions for Soldiers 

Edric Thompson:

Apple officials gave the Army group tours of its laboratories and other facilities and talked about some examples of where the military is already using Apple technology. The Army’s research and development command is evaluating commercial hand-held solutions such as iPad, iPhone, iPod, iMac, and MacBook platforms.

The Impossible Bloomberg Makeover 

Dominique Leca, writing for UX Magazine:

The Bloomberg terminal is the perfect example of a lock-in effect reinforced by the powerful conservative tendencies of the financial ecosystem and its permanent need to fake complexity.

Simplifying the interface of the terminal would not be accepted by most users because, as ethnographic studies show, they take pride on manipulating Bloomberg’s current “complex” interface. The pain inflicted by blatant UI flaws such as black background color and yellow and orange text is strangely transformed into the rewarding experience of feeling and looking like a hard-core professional.

As Lukas Mathis wrote in response, “Some users want terrible user interfaces.”

Paczkowski: Intellectual Ventures Owns Smartphone Motion-Control Patent 

Surprise, surprise.

Hg Init 

Six-part tutorial on Mercurial by Joel Spolsky, geared toward Subversion users.

The Vanderbilt Republic: ‘The Mechanical’ 

This week I got my reward for having backed The Vanderbilt Republic’s “Masters” project at Kickstarter — this one-of-a-kind Fujiroid print of one of the portraits from the project. So great.

I’ve backed a couple of Kickstarter projects so far, and there’s a visceral satisfaction that comes whenever I get a backers’ reward in the mail. We — or at least I — deal with so much that takes place as pixels on screens that physical artifacts are more meaningful, more important, than ever. I know I’m backing a Kickstarter project when I send the money, but I feel like I’m involved when I get something in my hand in return. Artifact is the only word I can find that fits.

The Vanderbilt Republic has a follow-up project at Kickstarter now, to raise funds to process the 1,600 sheets of 4×5-inch film they shot in Cambodia over six weeks. Count me in.

Jason Kottke on The Pipeline 

Speaking of podcasts, my friend Dan Benjamin had an insightful interview this week with my friend Jason Kottke. (The whole archive of Dan’s “The Pipeline” is great — his interview guests so far include Merlin Mann, Matt Haughey, and Jim Coudal.)

Yours Truly on This Week’s Tech Night Owl 

I was a guest on this week’s episode of Gene Steinberg’s Tech Night Owl, talking mostly about Apple’s HTC patent lawsuit and Apple’s growing rivalry with Google.

David Pogue on Line2 

David Pogue on Line2, a very Google Voice-like VOIP app for the iPhone that Apple accepted into the App Store.

Curiously, at this moment Line2’s web site claims “Toktumi and Line2 are currently experiencing a denial of service attack. We are trying to isolate the attackers and restore service. Please stand by.”

Update: Even more curiously, Line2 can no longer be found in the App Store. This URL, for example, now leads to a “The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the US store” error.

Update 2: It’s back in the store.

Detailed Analysis of the Nexus One’s Screen 

Interesting, technical look at the pixel-level details of the Nexus One’s OLED display:

The result is that PenTile works great on the Nexus One screen when color photographs are being displayed—it just doesn’t work as well for text because text is always displayed with high contrast to make it readable. And it’s arguable that text display is the most important use-case to optimize for on a mobile phone screen.

For various reasons, I don’t expect Apple to use OLED. I think Apple is all-in on LED-backlit IPS displays (which they’re using for the iPad and iMac, and promoting in the tech specs).

MocoNews: Google Sharing Advertising Revenue With Android Carriers and Handset Makers 

Tricia Duryee on Android’s fast growth:

Well, at least part of the answer appears to be that Google is sharing advertising revenues with carriers that use Android, according to multiple sources who are familiar with the deals. In some cases, sources said, Google is also cutting deals with the handset makers. The revenue-sharing agreements only occur when the handsets come with Google applications, like search, maps and gmail, since that is not a requirement of Android. Google declined to comment, and said terms of its agreements with partners are confidential.

So, when handset makers use Windows Mobile, they pay Microsoft. When they use Android, they get paid by Google.

Three Weeks With Steve McQueen 

The coolest man who ever lived. (Via Coudal.)

Thom Holwerda Says I’m Wrong About Ogg Theora and Patents 

Worth reading; he makes an interesting case.

I remain unconvinced about an argument like this, though:

I’d like to add another argument to this that further negates these so-called patent threats against Theora. If Theora is so sensitive to patents, as MPEG-LA, Apple, and its supporters claim — than why on earth would one of the biggest technology companies in the world ship it as part of its browser and as part of its operating system?

I’m of course talking about Google. Google has implemented support for Theora in its Chrome web browser, as well as in its upcoming Chrome OS. Do you really think a large and visible company like Google, a very attractive target for patent trolls, would include it if it had even the slightest worries about infringement claims? Would one of the world’s most profitable tech companies willingly paint such a big bulls-eye on itself, especially now that this debate has been raging for so long?

Chrome’s support for Ogg Theora is perhaps an indication that Google’s lawyers believe it doesn’t violate any of MPEG-LA’s patents. I think even if MPEG-LA believes otherwise, they wouldn’t start litigating unless and until Ogg Theora actually became popular. As it stands now, H.264 is crushing Ogg Theora in the market. Why sue now?

Update: Further, Google is an MPEG-LA licensee. Even if Ogg Theora is found to be in violation of one or more patents in the H.264 pool, Google has already licensed the rights for those patents, no?

Pwn2Own 2010: iPhone Hacked, SMS Database Hijacked 

Ryan Naraine:

A pair of European researchers used the spotlight of the CanSecWest Pwn2Own hacking contest here to break into a fully patched iPhone and hijack the entire SMS database, including text messages that had already been deleted.

NFL Owners Approve Overtime Rule Change 

Judy Battista for the NYT:

The N.F.L. approved a new overtime rule for the playoffs Tuesday that will give each team at least one possession in the extra period unless the team that wins the overtime coin toss scores a touchdown on its first possession.

The problem with the old rule: almost 60 percent of overtime games were being won by the team that won the coin flip. I like the change, but why only for the playoffs?

Literally, a Web Log 

“Tracking abuse of the word ‘literally’.” Subscribed.

Update: Fireballed. Here’s the current home page from Google’s cache.

The Opposite of Fitts’s Law 

Jeff Atwood:

If we should make UI elements we want users to click on large, and ideally place them at corners or edges for maximum clickability — what should we do with UI elements we don’t want users to click on? Like, say, the “delete all my work” button?

Couple of dangerous examples cited from Gmail.

Mike Matas’s Photo Blog 

Great photos, great design. Navigation works by clicking, scroll wheel, arrow keys, or by dragging the scroll bar. Prepping HTML5 Video Playback for iPad 

Arnold Kim:

With the imminent arrival of the Apple iPad, it seems at least one major television network is updating their website to provide video playback support for new tablet device — without Flash.’s website began displaying a couple of strange “iPad - test” video links, first noted by The Other Mac Blog.

Update: More from Cameron Banga.

Co-Inventors of That New Smartphone Motion Control Patent Work for Apple and Google 

Curiouser and curiouser. The patent was filed in December 2004, but one of the two, Chris Uhlik, has worked at Google as an engineering manager since 2002. And the other, John T. Orchard, works at Apple — on the iPad.

Wired Follows Up on iPhone App Payola Story 

Good quotes from Jason Snell.

Highrise for iPhone 


One of the downsides to the initial download is that it can take some time depending on your connection and the number of contacts you have. Waiting for anything sucks, but what sucks more is being bored while waiting.

So we decided to give you something to do while the initial download is in progress.

I won’t spoil it.


We’re one week out from the iPad ship date, but Adam Lisagor nailed it back on February 6:

What we want from our technology, in its most elemental form, is to make our thoughts happen. Sure, it’s still very much sci-fi in 2010, but what every calculating machine and telephone and computer and phonograph and light bulb and hammer and every tool ever invented is about at its core is our desire, our evolutionary imperative to control our environment at our will. And we’re getting closer and closer to that happening.

Microsoft Says It Won’t Abandon Windows Mobile 6.5 

Not to worry, customers are abandoning it for them.

Robot Touchscreen Analysis 

Moto re-performs their touchscreen accuracy test using a robot “finger”.

Preview: Instapaper on iPad 

Marco Arment:

While I could have taken the conservative option and waited until a month or two after the iPad’s release before launching Instapaper for it, an iPad without native Instapaper Pro is not a device I want to own.

This will be on my first home screen.


Use your iPhone as a kaleidoscope, using the camera as input. Decent on old iPhones, really smooth on the 3GS.

User Interface of the Week: Landlord Report 

Available for Mac and Windows.

Update: Landlord Report is featured in Apple’s Mac OS X downloads listing.


Cool, fun, free iPhone app for finding good color palettes.

ProPrompter — Use Your iPad as an In-Camera Teleprompter 

Already there are iPad products I never would have imagined.

Nevada Company Awarded Smartphone Motion Control Patent 

John Paczkowski:

Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a very broad patent on motion-based smartphone control, one that could have significant implications for the industry.

Kurt Vonnegut at the Blackboard 

Speaking of good writers on writing. (Thanks to DF reader Shajith Chacko.)

‘Do Not Write a Crock of Shit’ 

David Mamet’s memo to the writers of The Unit (caps in situ):




Sneak Peek of Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop CS5 

Indistinguishable from magic. Incredible.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Countdown 

The counter is implemented in JavaScript; works great on the iPhone and Android.

The Criterion Collection Yojimbo/Sanjuro Blu-ray Box Set 

New digital transfers from Criterion of two Kurosawa classics. (Just $49 at Amazon.)


A giant was born 100 years ago today.

Apple’s Share of the PC Industry’s Revenue and Profits 

Alley Insider:

While Apple has just 7% of the share of revenue, it’s grabbing 35% of the operating profit. Deutsche Bank attributes it to the strength of the Mac/Macbook lineup. Other companies are losing profit margins because they have to pay Microsoft for software.

Tell me again why HP doesn’t have its own PC operating system?

Fifth Avenue Apple Store as Tourist Destination and Landmark 

Inga Saffron, architecture critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Barely four years after Apple opened the store in the basement of the General Motors tower, Bohlin’s ethereal one-story structure — a glorified vestibule, really — has become a must-see attraction as well as Apple’s highest-grossing location. According to Cornell University scientists who analyzed 35 million Flickr images, the Cube is the fifth-most-photographed building in New York, the 28th worldwide.

Ahead of it on the list: The Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Grand Central Terminal. Good company.

Opera Mini Countup 

Opera is taking an interesting position with regard to the submission of Opera Mini for iPhone: making the waiting period very public.

(My money, by the way, says Apple will accept the app. I know there’s much speculation that Apple won’t allow an alternative browser that doesn’t use the system version of WebKit, but Opera Mini isn’t doing JavaScript client-side, so it doesn’t break the “no interpreters” rule. Update: And if there’s a problem, I bet it’s the security ramifications of Opera Mini’s design.)

Crowdsourcing Dickens 


As an experiment in new new media thinking, I recently crowdsourced a new new literature version of Charles Dickens’s musty old old old lit chestnut, Great Expectations—the familiar tale of Pip, Ms Havisham, the convict Magwitch, et al.

Demo of Opera Mini 5 on the iPhone 

Just submitted to the App Store this week. Color me skeptical regarding their claims that it’s the “most used browser on mobile devices”, though. Most-installed, maybe, but more used than MobileSafari? (StatCounter’s global stats have Opera listed first, but list “iPhone” and “iPod Touch” separately. Add them together and MobileSafari would be first. Who knows whether StatCounter’s metrics are accurate, though.)

I’ve tried the Android version (which seems extremely similar to the iPhone version) on the Nexus One, and it is indeed fast. But the speed advantage is most noticeable over EDGE; on Wi-Fi, it’s about the same, but the rendering is worse. Definitely interesting, though.

Jason Kottke on the New Rules for Reviewing Media 

I love Kottke’s take on user reviews (of books, movies, etc.) that focus on the packaging or format:

Newspaper and magazine reviewers pretty much ignore this stuff. There’s little mention of whether a book would be good to read on a Kindle, if you should buy the audiobook version instead of the hardcover because John Hodgman has a delightful voice, if a magazine is good for reading on the toilet, if a movie is watchable on an iPhone or if you need to see it in 1080p on a big TV, if a hardcover is too heavy to read in the bath, whether the trailer is an accurate depiction of what the movie is about, or if the hardcover price is too expensive and you should get the Kindle version or wait for the paperback.

Fireworks Alternatives on Trial: Acorn, DrawIt, and Opacity 

Jon Hicks’s comprehensive review and comparison of Acorn, DrawIt, and Opacity, in the context of using them as replacements for Fireworks as a tool for creating UI elements.

The Somali Pirates’ Business Model 

Fascinating. (Via Jason Fried.)

Perseus Signs E-Book Deal With Apple 

Motoko Rich and Brad Stone:

Perseus Books Group, a large independent publisher that also distributes works from 330 other smaller presses including Grove Atlantic, Harvard Business School Press, Zagat and City Lights Books, signed a deal last week with Apple, following five of the six biggest publishers that have already signed agreements with Apple.

The Times headline states “Perseus Signs an EBooks Deal for the iPad”, which is, I think, shortsighted. The deal is for Apple’s iBooks store, not the iPad. Right now the iPad is the only device Apple has announced for iBooks, but I’ll eat my hat if there isn’t an iBooks app for the iPhone some time later this year.

And I guess these threats from Amazon didn’t go over too well.

Kindle Owners Using Amazon Reviews to Express Displeasure Over Lack of Kindle Editions 

Paul Carr on the 64 one-star reviews at Amazon for Michael Lewis’s new best-seller, The Big Short:

There’s just one problem with that message: less than half of those one star reviews are actually reviewing the book.

Instead, most of the reviewers’ ire relates to the fact that publishers WW Norton have decided not to release a Kindle version of the book at the same time as its hardback release. Writes one (pretty representative) reviewer by the name of Ben Kaplan:

“I’d like to add my name to the list of people who are very disappointed that this book does not have a Kindle edition. No, I haven’t read the book, but I want to — on my Kindle! If all these one star reviews lead to fewer sales, I think that would be a great result and an excellent lesson for the author/publisher.”

Some publishers are treating Kindle editions like paperbacks — something to release only after the hardcover edition has run its course.

Princeton Researchers Link High-Fructose Corn Syrup to Obesity 


A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

Well-Placed Pixels 

“A visual record of beautiful software.”

Now Software, R.I.P. 

“In March 2010, Now Software, Inc. suspended its day-to-day operations.”

The Ten Things Harry McCracken Likes Best About the Droid, After Switching From an iPhone 

Numbers 1-3: Verizon’s network, Facebook integration, and Google Voice.

Update: I missed his second page (I generally don’t click through to split pages any more), where he lists the ten things that are driving him crazy. Numbers 1-3: Quirkiness/misbehavior, tapping trouble, and maddening usability mistakes. I.e. it’s just not designed well.

USA Today Animation Showing the Expansion of the International Space Station From 1998-2010 (Flash) 

But where’s the Hilton?

Nathaniel Irons on CrashPlan 

Nathaniel Irons reviews CrashPlan for Cool Tools:

It’ll back you up to external hard drives, or computers on your network, or flat-rate cloud storage, but its great innovation is the ability to back up over the internet, with permission, to another CrashPlan user. This is terrific for maintaining your own automatic offsite backups between work and home, or spreading backup religion to friends and family. All you need is broadband and spare disk space.

Regular off-site backup is the biggest hole in my current system. CrashPlan sounds great.

Chris Glass’s Photo Log 

So great.

App Store Now Allows Giving Apps as Gifts 

Sorry, can’t bring myself to use it as a verb.

An Update on Google’s New Approach to China 

David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer:

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services — Google Search, Google News, and Google Images — on

The Story of Bottled Water 

Manufactured demand.

Nominee for 404 Page of the Year 

Lovely animation created using CSS3 transforms and transitions. Works fine in MobileSafari, too. (Via WebKitBits.)

Google’s Status Board for Services Available in China 

This, now that Google is redirecting web search traffic from its Chinese domain to its Hong Kong domain.

The Impossible Project Succeeds, Relaunches Polaroid Film 

Great news for Polaroid fans (not to mention fans of outstanding packaging design).

Update: The site is down. Here’s a cached copy from Google.

David Frum on the ‘Conservative Entertainment Industry’ 

David Frum is my favorite conservative writer:

When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say — but what is equally true — is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed — if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office — Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.

So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry.

Two New Sites in The Deck 

Two of my favorite sites — Dave Pell’s Tweetage Wasteland and Scott Beale’s Laughing Squid — join the web’s best ad network.

Soft in the Middle 

James Surowiecki on how the action, in markets ranging from gadgets to cars to clothes, is at the high and low ends of the market, not the middle:

The companies there — Sony, Dell, General Motors, and the like — find themselves squeezed from both sides (just as, in a way, middle-class workers do in a time of growing income inequality). The products made by midrange companies are neither exceptional enough to justify premium prices nor cheap enough to win over value-conscious consumers. Furthermore, the squeeze is getting tighter every day.

The middle is boring, and I think one could argue that our culture is about the elimination of boredom. (Via Kottke.)

Steve Jobs Lauds New California Organ Donor Bill 

Coming up on the one-year anniversary of his life-saving liver transplant.

One More 

James Fallows:

There are countless areas in which America does it one way and everyone else does it another, and I say: I prefer the American way. Our practice on medical coverage is not one of these.

Health Care Reform Reactions 

Andrew Sullivan has a good roundup of reactions from a variety of perspectives.

House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama 

The New York Times:

Congress gave final approval on Sunday to legislation that would provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and remake the nation’s health care system along the lines proposed by President Obama.

Change, baby. Change.

Jean-Louis Gassée on Palm 

Analysis and insight from a man who knows what it’s like.

The One Superhero the iPad Can’t Save 

Super-nerdy joke from FoxTrot.

Sneak Peek at Nokia’s ‘Design by Community’ Phone 

Includes gigantic cup holders.


My thanks to the Omni Group for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote OmniGraphSketcher, their outstanding “fast, simple graph drawing and data plotting” app for the Mac. This is one of those apps where you just have to try it (the demo is free) to understand how cool it is. Precise data plotting combined with easy to use drawing tools.

The Omni Group is also hard at work on OmniGraphSketcher for iPad — dig the lo-fi mockups they’re using to design the UI and test the size and feel of the controls.

Nokia: Design by Community 

This is not a joke. I think.

Apple Invites Developers to Submit iPad Applications to App Store 

Submissions in by March 27 “will be considered for” the grand opening of the iPad App Store. Seems a little nutty that the vast majority of them have been tested (by developers) only using the simulator.

Why Stephen O’Grady Is Against Software Patents 

A comprehensive look at just how broken the system is. (Via Tim Bray.)

Forbes: ‘Palm’s Stock Plummets After Analysts Cut Targets to $0’ 

The message seems to be that Palm is in serious trouble — not just merely “struggling”, but in dire straits.

I don’t really understand why. Their WebOS phones are, to my eyes, the best competitors to the iPhone. People who own them seem to like them. Their marketing hasn’t been great, but it’s been better than Android’s. But Android is taking off and WebOS isn’t, and, trite though it sounds, Palm really has bet the company on WebOS.

H&FJ: Four Techniques for Combining Fonts 

Bookmark this now.

Chris Holt Reviews ‘Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars’ 

Chris Holt:

It’s huge in scale and depth—something iPhone players aren’t used to. If many games play like thin leaflets, consider Chinatown Wars your copy of War and Peace. Minus the Peace.

Raiding Eternity 

Outstanding, poetic writing at Gizmodo by Joel Johnson.

Dissecting iTunes Links 

Detailed analysis of iTunes URLs, from Bjango.

Inside the Collapse 

Compelling 60 Minutes interview with author Michael Lewis, on the Wall Street financial collapse.

The ‘Agency Model’ 

Macmillan CEO John Sargent:

Starting at the end of March, we will move from the “retail model” of selling e-books (publishers sell to retailers, who then sell to readers at a price that the retailer determines) to the “agency model” (publishers set the price, and retailers take a commission on the sale to readers). We will make this change with all our e-book retailers simultaneously.

Paul Thurrott’s Curiously Shifting Thoughts on Copy-and-Paste 

Delightful catch by Chris Grande. Here’s Paul Thurrott in July 2007, regarding the iPhone:

And what’s up with the lack of cut/copy and paste? This is a basic OS feature that Apple included in the first Mac OS almost 25 years ago. It’s inexplicably missing from the iPhone, unavailable in any application or the wider system itself. Unreal.

And here’s Paul Thurrott two days ago, in a post titled “I Love Windows Phone”:

The multitasking is limited. Users will only be able to get apps from the Marketplace, and not from third parties. Gasp! Is it true that there’s no copy and paste?

No matter. Windows Phone combines those very few things that were right about Windows Mobile — primarily some business functionality — with a much wider set of new functionality that is exciting in both scope and possibility.

Unreal, indeed.

Amazon Playing Hardball With Book Publishers Over Kindle Pricing 

Quoting a report in the subscriber-only Publishers Marketplace:

At least one independent publisher of scale was told categorically by Amazon in a recent phone call initiated by the etailer that Amazon would not negotiate agency selling terms with any other publishers outside of the five initial Apple partners. This publisher was told that if they switched to an agency model for ebooks, Amazon would stop selling their entire list, in print and digital form. In conversation, Amazon is said to have reiterated that as matter of policy they are declining to negotiate an agency model with any publisher outside of the five who have already announced agreements with Apple’s iBookstore.

“Agency model” is apparently industry jargon for publishers setting their own prices per title, rather than accepting a flat selling price set by Amazon.

I’ll echo Paul Constant’s question in response to this tactic:

So my question is this: How long is Amazon going to dick around publishers before customers start to think of their inventory as unreliable?

Web Sites That Demand Money for iPhone App ‘Reviews’ 

Brian X. Chen:

The two sites that were most frequently mentioned by programmers who contacted were and Both sites appear in the top four Google search results for the search term “iPhone app review.”

Wikipedia Uses Ogg 

Wikipedia’s media format policy:

The preferred formats are JPEG for photographic images, SVG for drawings and line-art illustration, PNG for non-vector graphic iconic images, Ogg Vorbis for sound and Ogg Theora for video.

So, there’s one major site that uses Ogg. But, I can’t say I recall ever watching video from Wikipedia, so while they’re clearly a major web site, I’m not sure it’s fair to call them a major video publisher.

Google Alleges That Viacom ‘Secretly Uploaded Its Content to YouTube, Even While Publicly Complaining About Its Presence There’ 

Zahavah Levine, chief counsel for YouTube in its litigation with Viacom:

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. [...]

Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

Astounding hypocrisy.

‘No Dashes or Spaces’ Hall of Shame 

Calling out sites that force you to enter, say, credit card numbers, in a precise format, even though removing things like spaces and dashes is programmatically trivial. (Via Sarah Harrison.)

Dial Zero 

Free iPhone app (also available for Android and BlackBerry) that, like the aforelinked web site, offers a database of instructions for getting a human customer service representative from a list of over 600 companies.

Storing Your Yojimbo Library on Dropbox 

In my piece on backups earlier this week, I mentioned that I wasn’t storing my Yojimbo library on Dropbox. A bunch of Yojimbo users emailed me to tell me you can do it, and you can even use it for syncing a shared Yojimbo library between multiple Macs — if you’re careful never to run Yojimbo from more than a single Mac at a time. I don’t like having to be careful, so, personally, I wouldn’t use Dropbox with Yojimbo for syncing — but it’s worth noting that Yojimbo attempts to detect this situation, where you’ve left it running on machine A and launched it on machine B, and warns you accordingly.

However, in my case, I only ever access Yojimbo from one machine. I want to use Dropbox to store my database for off-site storage and backup. And, indeed, it seems to work just fine. You move your ~/Library/Application Support/Yojimbo/ folder inside your Dropbox folder, then create a symlink in ~/Library/Application Support/ pointing to the new location. (You have to use a symlink; an alias won’t work.)

Kindle for Mac 

Nice to be able to read Kindle e-books on another class of machine, but this is a very un-Mac-like Mac app. Look at these dialog boxes here and here, for example. The icon is, to my eyes, the exact same as the iPhone Kindle app. The name of the app is “Kindle for Mac”, rather than just “Kindle”.

The reading experience isn’t too bad, but the type rendering is smudgy (it’s certainly not using Mac OS X’s built-in type rendering) and you can’t select text. Even worse: you can’t search. You’d be better off with scanned images of the print versions of books, because at least then you’d get high quality typesetting. In short, this is better than no Mac Kindle client at all, but it feels very junky. If Apple comes out with a Mac iBooks client, it’s going to blow this away.

Apple Homepage Tribute to Jerry York 

Nice gesture.

Sebastiaan de With’s New Interarchy Icons 

Looking good.

Apple Director Jerry York Dies at 71 


“Jerry joined Apple’s Board in 1997 when most doubted the company’s future. He has been a pillar of financial and business expertise and insight on our Board for over a dozen years,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It’s been a privilege to know and work with Jerry, and I’m going to miss him a lot.”

He was reportedly hospitalized for a stroke yesterday.

In Defense of Deficits 

James K. Galbraith, writing in The Nation:

And this, in the simplest terms, explains the deficit phobia of Wall Street, the corporate media and the right-wing economists. Bankers don’t like budget deficits because they compete with bank loans as a source of growth.

(Via Aaron Swartz.)

‘Chat Roulette’ 

A movie by Casey Neistat.

CapSee 1.2 

Free Mac utility that pops up an on-screen notification bezel when you invoke Caps Lock.

Dave Pell’s Head Is in the Cloud 

Dave Pell:

Before heading to the emergency room, I climbed into the back of the ambulance where I asked her if she wanted me to call her boyfriend. She said she did, but she didn’t know his telephone number. It was lost along with her now obliterated cell phone, and she had never committed the number to memory.


How to get a real human on the phone from big companies. (Via Craig Mod.)


Clever iPhone stand, perfect for propping up an iPhone to watch video. Got one at SXSW (black, of course) from Brendan Dawes of MagneticNorth; it has a great feel to it. (Currently shipping from the U.K., so you might want to order a couple for friends if you’re shipping to the U.S. to make it worthwhile.)

Windows Phone 7 to Ship Without Copy and Paste 

Chris Ziegler:

Microsoft just mentioned in a Q&A session here at MIX10 in no uncertain terms that clipboard operations won’t be supported on Windows Phone 7 Series.

Catching up is hard. And based on what I’m hearing about iPhone OS 4.0, it seems likely that Windows Phone 7 is going to fall further behind before it even gets a chance to ship.

The Movie Studios’ Big 3D Scam 

Excellent critique from Alexander Murphy (pseudonymous Hollywood visual effects supervisor) explaining what’s wrong about all the recent 3D live action films other than Avatar — they were made “3D” in post-production rather than being shot in true 3D with dual cameras. I didn’t even like Up in 3D, which wasn’t live action. The one and only 3D theatrical film I’ve ever seen where the 3D made the experience better rather than worse was Avatar. (Some of the 3D attractions at Disney World are good, too.)

Another Backup Lecture 

Great tip from Merlin Mann on off-site rotation:

Peg your off-site rotation to a date-certain (like how you probably changed the 9-volt in your smoke alarm for Daylight Savings Time yesterday). I do my rotations within the first five days of each new month. So, yes, do automate the creation of backups, but then also do the physical rotation like you’d pay your mortgage. On time and without fail.

If there’s a weakness in my own system, it’s that I don’t do this often enough. I like the idea of doing it on the first of the month.

Respectfully Yours, Clint Eastwood 

Speaking of Clint Eastwood, Letters of Note has a letter he wrote to Billy Wilder in 1954.

‘Evening Walk’ 

Speaking of The New Yorker, this week’s issue sports another cover painting by Jorge Colombo, made on his iPhone using Brushes. I wonder whether this will be the last one he makes on an iPhone rather than an iPad.

The Movies of Clint Eastwood 

Fascinating New Yorker essay by David Denby on the career of Clint Eastwood.

iLounge: Apple Removes Protective Screen Film From Its Retail and Online Stores 


In communications with vendors that have been ongoing for “some time now,” according to one company, Apple has said that it will remove both film-only solutions from its stores, as well as any case or other accessory that includes film protection as part of its package, such as cases that include film screen protectors.


Update: Here’s an interesting comment on the iLounge piece:

I’m an Apple Retail employee who has applied roughly a million of these films. A couple months ago, it became our policy not to help apply them, because they’re so difficult to get perfect and it became a liability issue (“There’s a speck of dust, give me a new one free.”). Unless you’re in a vacuum, there’s a chance of picking up dust between opening the package and putting the film down.

Thinking about this some more, I think it’s about avoiding the suggestion that you should use such a film/protector thing. I.e. that if Apple is selling them, some number of iPhone/iPod buyers assume they ought to buy one. Whereas I think the iPhone is very much designed to be used as-is — no case, no film. The 3GS oleophobic-coated screen feels just perfect.

Microsoft Promises HTML5 Video Support in IE9 

HTML5 marches ever forward:

The presence of MP3 and AAC audio support in the browser preview, and the promise of MPEG-4 and H.264 video support in the final version of IE9, raise the question of what role Flash and Silverlight, which are commonly used to handle these functions, will play in IE9. Hachamovitch did not comment on this, but pointed out that with IE9’s video, audio and SVG capabilities, “you have an HTML 5 browser that does audio and video without plugins”.

No canvas support in IE9, though. (Yet?) And, if you’re keeping score on codec support in major browsers, IE joins Safari and Chrome in supporting H.264 for video; Firefox, Opera, and Chrome support Ogg Theora.

I wonder whether Adobe expected Microsoft to support HTML5 video in IE9.

Articles — Wikipedia iPhone App From Sophiestication 

There are a bunch of dedicated Wikipedia iPhone apps, and there are several I like. But I like Articles, a brand new $3 app by Sophia Teutschler, best. It’s fast, it looks great (including the formatting of articles), and it has a very clever MobileSafari-inspired UI.

John Cassidy on the Lehman Report 

John Cassidy:

Until now, my answer to the first question has been that while much of what the bankers did was reprehensible, it was perfectly legal. I still think this is the case—in finance, it is often the case that the biggest scandal is what you can get away with within the law—but the Valukas report raises the possibility that I was wrong, and that the big Wall Street firms were engaged in Enron-style accounting fraud.

Canon Announces ‘.canon’ Top-Level Domain Name 

I wonder how many other companies are going to do this.

The Interarchy Fire Sale 

Speaking of Nolobe, they’re holding a “fire sale” on their excellent file transfer app Interarchy — through Monday it’s on sale for just $20, including a free upgrade to the upcoming Interarchy 10. And a slew of other indie Mac developers — Flying Meat, Red Sweater, Atebits, Stairways, and The Little App Factory — are participating with a 20 percent discount code (“FIRESALE10”).

Iris Is Dead; Long Live Acorn 

Matthew Drayton of Nolobe:

Back in 2007 when we started on work on Iris there were no easy-to-use, reasonably priced image editors available for the Mac. If you wanted to edit images you had to get Photoshop, an expensive and confusing proposition for the average user.

Fast forward to today and there are 4 reasonably priced image editors available. They are all pretty good. One in particular, Acorn by Flying Meat Software, is excellent. Simply put if Acorn had existed back in 2007 we would never have started work on Iris.

The bad news: Nolobe is suspending development of Iris. The good news: existing Nolobe users get a free upgrade to Acorn. Very cool.

The Truth About Karl Rove’s ‘Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight’ 

Pitch-perfect parody of the political attack ad, from 37signals and Steve Delahoyde at Coudal Partners.

AT&T’s Success at SXSW This Year 

I said I’d believe when I saw it, and I’m delighted to report that AT&T’s 3G network was simply stellar at SXSW all weekend long — this, in contrast to last year, when it was pretty much worthless all weekend long. It’s worth noting, too, that SXSW Interactive attendance was way up once again this year, and, as far as I could tell, just about every single attendee was using an iPhone 3G or 3GS. Kudos to AT&T.

Apple Delays Ship Dates for Some iPad Accessories 

The keyboard dock is now slated to ship in May, and the case is shipping in “mid-April”. I think this is for new orders, though — when I checked my account just now at Apple’s web site, the case I ordered on Friday is still slated to be delivered on April 3.

Day 74 Sales: Apple iPhone vs. Google Nexus One vs. Motorola Droid 

Flurry — a mobile app analytics company — has published a comparison showing estimated sales over the first 74 days they were on sale:

Inspecting the graph, it’s immediately clear that Nexus One sales continue to pale in comparison to iPhone 1G and Motorola Droid, with each besting Nexus One sales by roughly 8 times over the same time period.

At the same time, an interesting side-story is that the Motorola Droid edged out iPhone 1G over the first 74 days, coming in at just over one million sold through, by our calculations. This was surprising enough that we re-ran our estimates several times and still came up with the same results.

I don’t think Google ever intended the Nexus One to be a high-selling device; it’s pretty clear from Apple’s experiments with iPhone pricing that subsidized pricing drives sales. But still: if they’ve only sold 135K to date, that means they’ve sold fewer over 74 days than Apple has sold iPad pre-orders over the weekend.

As for the surprise of the Droid outselling the original iPhone over their first 74 days, keep in mind that the iPhone was effectively unavailable for 21 of its first 74 days on sale. Still, though, it goes to show how important Verizon is.

Estimated iPad Pre-Orders Over the Weekend: 150,000 

Daniel Tello, a.k.a. “Deagol”, built a model to estimate iPad pre-orders based on order numbers submitted by volunteers throughout the weekend. It’s inexact, of course, but my money says these numbers are solid. And it’s worth emphasizing that these numbers do not include iPads that have been reserved for pickup at a retail Apple Store.

Keep in mind too, that this is for a machine that almost no one has seen, let alone used, in person.

WSJ: Ten Percent of Microsoft Employees Use an iPhone 

Nick Wingfield, reporting for the WSJ:

Nearly 10,000 iPhone users were accessing the Microsoft employee email system last year, say two people who heard the estimates from senior Microsoft executives. That figure equals about 10% of the company’s global work force.

Employees at Apple, in contrast, appear to be more devoted to the company’s own mobile phone. Several people who work at the company or deal regularly with employees there say they can’t recall seeing Apple workers with mobile phones other than the iPhone in recent memory. [...]

One Microsoft worker said he knows several colleagues who try to disguise their iPhones with cases that make them look more like generic handsets. “Maybe once a year I’m in a meeting with Steve Ballmer,” said this employee. “It doesn’t matter who’s calling, I’m not answering my phone.”

It’s a schadenfreude-alicious nugget of information, sure. But it’s a telling indication of just how strong the iPhone is versus Windows Mobile. (Via Eric Slivka.)

Google Announces Nexus One With AT&T-Flavored 3G 


Starting today, an additional version of the Nexus One is available from the Google web store that is compatible with AT&T’s 3G network. This new model can be purchased as an unlocked device without a service plan. In addition to AT&T’s 3G network, this device will also run on Rogers Wireless in Canada. And like the first version of the Nexus One, it can be used with most GSM operators globally.

Jeffrey Zeldman on IE9 and Microsoft’s ‘Enforced Bragging’ 

Astute as always, especially with regard to the what-if scenario of Microsoft switching to WebKit.

Paul Kafasis Reviews the My.SXSW iPhone App 

“To put it delicately, the app has some issues.”

Curious Word Choice 

From a big piece in the New York Times by Brad Stone and Miguel Helft:

One of these employees said Mr. Jobs returned to the topic of Google several times in the session and even disparaged its slogan “Don’t be evil” with an expletive, which drew thunderous applause from his underlings.


Microsoft’s App Store Will Be the Only Way to Get Apps on Windows Phone 7 

Least surprising announcement ever.

Tim Bray Joins Google 

Tim Bray, on joining Google as a “developer advocate”, specifically relishing the competition between Android and iPhone:

The iPhone vision of the mobile Internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disney-fied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers. The people who create the apps serve at the landlord’s pleasure and fear his anger.

I hate it.

This is, indeed, the core difference between Android and iPhone: Apple’s tight control over native apps. I think it’s incorrect to call it Apple’s “vision of the mobile Internet’s future”, though. Native apps are not the Internet.

Later on, Bray writes:

I’m going to have to get savvier about HTML5-based applications, because a lot of smart people think the future’s there, that the “native app” notion will soon seem quaint.

What’s interesting here is that the iPhone is a better system for HTML5 mobile apps than Android. For all the attention Apple is getting regarding the tight control it maintains over native iPhone apps, I think what they’ve done to enable native-like mobile web apps — with no control — is mostly ignored.

Google’s Trademark Application for ‘Nexus One’ Refused 


The refusal has been issued on the grounds that the mark could conflict with an existing NEXUS trademark (3554195) granted on December 30, 2008 to Integra Telecom under the same class with a description which includes the provision of telecommunication services and the transmission of voice and data.

New Phones Still Sold With Old Versions of Android 

Priya Ganapati:

At the store, Roark had never been told that his HTC Eris has Android 1.5, nicknamed “Cupcake.” Until told by a reporter, he had no idea what features he’s missing as a result. For instance, free turn-by-turn navigation is available in the latest version, Android 2.1 (”Eclair”), but is only available to Cupcake users for $10 a month from Verizon.

Oh, James 

Classic and new James Bond posters.


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, such as DailyDeeds, a new iPhone app they just launched this week.

Overdoing the Interface Metaphor 

Chris Clark:

iPad apps have a high visual fidelity to real-world objects but retain the sensible interaction design one would expect from Apple. iBooks doesn’t force you to swipe its pages side-to-side; you tap on a page to advance to the next one, and the page-turning animation is done in a fraction of a second.

That’s in response to this fine post from Marco Arment, which makes some strong points regarding the design of calculator apps. Marco is in love with Soulver, a $19 Mac calculator I don’t recall seeing before, which indeed looks quite clever.

Andy Ihnatko’s Morning Purchases 

Andy Ihnatko:

Between the hours of 8:30 and 8:45 this morning, I bought two things:

  1. Breakfast, consisting of a wheat bagel and a Diet Coke. Purchase price: $1.74.

  2. An iPad. Which cost me more than the breakfast.

New Information From Apple on iPad 3G Usage 


You can check your data usage in Settings on your iPad anytime. And iPad will even let you know when you’re running out. You’ll get three alerts as you near your 250MB limit — at 20 percent, 10 percent, and zero. With each alert, you can choose to add more data or wait and do it later. Tap Now and iPad opens the Cellular Data Plan window so you can update your data plan.

Apple Adds Screen Orientation Lock to iPad 

The orientation lock should be useful for reading while lying down. (For those curious: I ordered a 32 GB Wi-Fi model, the case, and the dock. Update: The plain dock, not the keyboard dock. I think using a Bluetooth keyboard will be more comfortable.)

The Effect of iTunes Web Preview on Google Search Results 

Interesting analysis by Weldon Dodd.

HumbleFinancial Graphs 

Google Finance-style charts, using JavaScript and the HTML5 canvas.


Speaking of SXSW, if you’re going, you’re going to love, an iPhone-optimized web app from Weightshift. As they describe it:

If you’ve ever been to SXSW Interactive, you know that it can be difficult to find where your friends are sitting in a panel, particularly in the massive auditoriums and the notorious 18BCD. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to let your friends know where you’re sitting — or find out where they are — in an easy-to-use app?

Powered by Twitter, it lets your friends know which panels you’re interested in and vice versa. Looks great.

SXSW Session: ‘Online Advertising: Losing the Race to the Bottom’ 

Speaking of online advertising, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point to Jim Coudal’s and my joint session at SXSW this weekend. Mark it on your schedule: Sunday at 3:30pm.

Why Did Nick Denton Truncate Gawker Media’s RSS Feeds? 

Speaking of RSS and advertising revenue, Felix Salmon has a piece on Gawker Media’s decision to switch from full-text to excerpts in their feeds. He quotes Nick Denton from this comment on Lifehacker:

Gawker Media is an ad-supported company. RSS ads have never realized their potential. At the same time we sell plenty of ads on our website. So, yes, it is in our interest for people to click through if enticed by an excerpt.

Salmon, in an update, points to this comment from Matt McAlister, who says that The Guardian has seen web traffic go up after switching from excerpts to full-text feeds. I.e., even without monetizing the feeds themselves, The Guardian thinks switching to full-text feeds was a win financially.

Relative Performance of Rich Media Content Across Browsers and Operating Systems 

These benchmarks from Mike Chambers are more interesting to me than the aforelinked ones from Jan Ozer, if only because he ran them on the same hardware. Safari once again blows away Chrome and Firefox on the Mac — especially on JavaScript/Canvas examples, but even on Flash ones. Perhaps more interestingly, his results show Flash Player doing pretty well on the Mac (in Safari) compared to Windows overall, including HD video playback from Vimeo.

Rob Foster on the Elimination of File Systems as a User-Accessible Part 

Rob Foster, observing how family and friends use their Macs:

Because they can now actually use their computers instead of simply restarting them, I’m able to better see how they use them. And the one commonality I’ve seen is that no one knows how to use the file system.

Unfortunately for the average person, the file system is so complex that everything outside of the desktop and the documents folder appears to be a vast labyrinth which most likely hides booby traps and minotaurs.

‘Businesses Don’t Get to Pick the Timetable for When Their Preferred Model Takes a Permanent Dirt Nap’ 

Speaking of Merlin Mann, he’s got a nice retort to Marco Arment’s piece from a few days back regarding media consumption and entitlement.

AppleInsider: iPhone OS 4.0 Multitasking Support for Third-Party Apps 

No technical details provided. My hunch is that they’re right, though.

Html5media — JavaScript to Enable ‘video’ Element for All Browsers 

Speaking of HTML5 video and Flash, Dave Hall has released a new GPL-licensed JavaScript project that lets you embed videos in HTML using the simple HTML5 <video> element; for browsers that don’t support HTML5 video, the Html5media script swaps in a Flash player.

Jan Ozer’s Flash Player vs. HTML5 Video Performance Tests 

Ozer draws the conclusion that Flash Player’s access to hardware acceleration is the key advantage to its superior performance on Windows. And, indeed, the best results in the whole test were for Flash Player 10.1 on Windows. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Mac OS X eventually offers similar APIs — seems like a serious performance win.)

But there are a lot of other interesting numbers in Ozer’s results. Particularly if you look at Flash Player 10.0, which doesn’t use hardware acceleration on Windows, either. In both Chrome and Firefox, Flash uses about twice as much CPU time to render the same video on the Mac as on Windows. Flash performance is noticeably better in Safari on the Mac than it is in Chrome or Firefox — I did not know that. Video performance in Chrome for Mac — both HTML5 and Flash — is downright terrible. (YouTube ought to stop telling Mac-using Safari users to “Try YouTube in a fast, new web browser!” with a link to Chrome.)

Bottom line: Flash plays H.264 video at least twice as efficiently on Windows as on the Mac; Safari’s native HTML5 video playback is very efficient.

The whole test might need to be taken with a grain of salt though. Ozer couldn’t get Bootcamp working on his MacBook Pro, so:

I tested on the Mac using a MacBook Pro (3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo, 8 GB RAM, OS 10.6.2) while testing on Windows using an Hewlett Packard 8710w mobile workstation (2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo system running 64-bit Windows 7 with 2 GB of RAM).

Seems to me the Mac hardware was significantly faster than the Windows hardware — so I suspect his results are misleading with regard to just how much more efficient Flash is on Windows than Mac OS X.

Edison’s Motion Picture Patent Enforcement 

Merlin Mann:

You a big fan of aggressive IP enforcement? Like to think a well-litigated market is a healthy market? Hate those little entrepreneurial nuisances like “competition from emerging media?”

Well, then, you would have loved the early 20th century. Because you had to get Thomas Edison’s permission to make any movie. Then you had to pay him.

Also via Merlin, check out the license agreement on this 1908 Edison wax cylinder. (Gorgeous type, though.)


Mozilla’s next-generation JavaScript engine is based partly on WebKit’s, and sounds like a very clever design overall.

Chained Up in the Dungeon of Emperor Xing 

If you’re not hooked by the end of the second paragraph you might as well stop there.

Brizzly for iPhone (Née Birdfeed) 

Birdfeed, Buzz Andersen’s outstanding iPhone Twitter client, has been purchased by Brizzly, updated, and rebranded as Brizzly for iPhone — and is now available from the App Store as a free download. There are some nice additions (such as the addictive pull-down-to-refresh gesture introduced by Tweetie), but a few steps back as well, including the loss of Birdfeed’s visual charm.

My main gripe is that it’s not a direct Twitter client any longer. Rather than sign in to Twitter, you sign in with an account at Brizzly. If you have multiple Twitter accounts, you must hook them up to your Brizzly account. I don’t see any benefit to this, but I do see an extra potential point of failure. The deal breaker for me, alas, is that they seem to have eliminated Birdfeed’s Instapaper support.

On the upside: our long national nightmare of conflating Birdfeed and Birdhouse is now over.

Amazon’s One-Click Patent Confirmed Following Re-Exam 

Four years.

‘If You Were to See a Viking Today, It’s Best That You Go Some Other Way’ 

“What’s in the David Foster Wallace Archive?”, from Meredith Blake at The New Yorker:

For Wallace scholars, the real jewel in the crown might be a battered, taped-together copy of Pam Cook’s “The Cinema Book,” used as research for “Infinite Jest.” His handwritten notes include multiple references to “IJ” and, according to a blog post by Scwartzburg, display a “particular interest in sections on the idea of the auteur, the technology of deep focus cinematography, new wave cinema, the Hollywood star system, and most film genres (with the notable exception of the ‘gangster/crime film’).”

Great slide show at the end, too.

The Secret Origin of Windows 

First-hand report from Tandy Trower, the product manager at Microsoft who shipped Windows 1.0 and 2.0. Great stuff.

Blue Marble 

Jeff Richardson on the story behind the photo that serves as the iPhone’s default wallpaper.

Unearthed Rolling Stones Tracks Set to Debut on ‘Exile on Main Street’ Reissue 

My pick as the greatest rock album ever made. Don’t miss: Andy Greene interviews Mick and Keith on the new release. Keith:

Also, it’s the first album with no particular single on it, you know? There was no “Brown Sugar” or whatever. We made it as an album, rather than looking for a hit single.

‘No Other Distribution Authorized Under This Agreement’ 

Wolf Rentzsch:

I hope section 7.3 comes back to bite Apple during their Department of Justice investigation.

Wired Reread 

New weblog by Theis Søndergaard, featuring scanned pages from old issues of Wired:

This blog is not intended to be just a point-and-laugh central, picking apart the mistakes of the past and ridiculing those who got it wrong. You won’t have to look long for posts that do that, of course… but the main purpose of this blog is to put the past into perspective. In the fast paced world of tech, we often lure ourselves into believing that everything is different now, and old rules don’t apply. Well, quite often they do (if not always) and checking out our collective tech-past can help us get a perspective on the present.

So good.

Mozilla JetPack Rips Off Design and Graphics From MetaLab 

Andrew Wilkinson:

I don’t understand why companies think that they can get away with doing this. The internet is a surprisingly small place, and we were notified almost immediately. We’ve all had a good chuckle about this, but we’ve contacted Mozilla and demanded that they take the design down.

Really does seem bizarre that anyone thought this wouldn’t be noticed.

Update: Mozilla apologizes, and is “actively investigating how this happened to ensure that it does not happen again.”


New from Cameron Moll: the Roman Coliseum rendered in type.

Marco Arment on Advertising, Entitlement, and Voting With Attention 

Hyper-rational take on the situation.

Technologizer: The Future of Windows 

David Worthington:

Technologizer asked some of the industry’s big brains about what Microsoft needs to do to keep its operating system relevant in the years to come. Their advice ranges from merely simplifying the interface to borrowing ideas from other Microsoft products such as the Xbox to giving the OS a complete reboot. Here’s what they (and we) have to say.

Some interesting (and widely varying) answers. I like Scott Rosenberg’s take best:

Microsoft ought to build a new, modern, stripped-down OS and support the legacy stuff in a virtual machine. Call the new environment WIN instead of WINDOWS, suggesting a new stripped-down nimbleness. Make it clear that the old world will be supported for a long time but not forever. Dazzle people with what they can do in a new world.

Or just maintain Windows in parallel. Point is, there’s no reason why Microsoft should have one and only one PC desktop operating system. Why not two: the new cool no-cruft one; and Windows, the established, familiar, chock-full-of-baggage-and-legacy-compatibility one.

Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for an iPad Price Drop 

Kevin C. Tofel:

Much of this “wait for the price drop” sentiment stems from the original iPhone 4 GB and 8GB models, which debuted in late June of 2007 for $499 and $599, respectively. By September of that same year, the 4 GB model was scrapped and the 8 GB unit dropped $200 to $399. The situation generated an early adapter uproar by many — myself included — and Apple tried to make good with $100 Apple Store credits for those who paid the higher prices.

The entire event tarnished Apple’s luster in the eyes of consumers and this isn’t a company that repeats mistakes often.

Jonathan Schwartz on Patent Threats From Steve Jobs and Bill Gates 

Jonathan Schwartz:

In 2003, after I unveiled a prototype Linux desktop called Project Looking Glass, Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were “stepping all over Apple’s IP.” (IP = Intellectual Property = patents, trademarks and copyrights.) If we moved forward to commercialize it, “I’ll just sue you.”

AAPLinvestors’s iPad Death Watch 

Delicious collection of iPad doubters.

Update: Fireballed. Google has it cached, though.

‘Tron: Legacy’ Trailer 

Oh, yes.

Update: Much better version from the official site, including downloadable 1080p QuickTime.

Amazon Drops Colorado Residents From Affiliates Program 

Larry Dignan:

Amazon’s response to Colorado’s state tax issue — Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill that puts new restrictions and taxes on out-of-state retailers like Amazon — has been consistent. When things go against Amazon the retailer cuts its affiliate programs in that state.

Follow-Up on HP’s ‘License Plate Domain’ URLs 

Yesterday, after linking to “”, I asked what the deal was with that crazy server name. A DF reader who works at HP emailed:

Internally it’s called something stupid, like a “license plate name” or somesuch. HP IT does that so they can physically locate a server when it goes down.

Externally, you’re seeing how one department’s braindead internal policy designed for their convenience reduces the convenience of the entire rest of the company (and our customers). I’d blame Randy Mott (of WalMart pedigree) who has proven to be quite a Napoleon (or perhaps Brutus is a better example?) when it comes to turf battles, but I think that policy pre-dated him.

Many folks internally in HP hate those license plate external URLs but there’s nothing we can do about it. The policy has been set from on-high.

So because of a dictum from the IT department, HP — one of the biggest, proudest, and most successful companies in the history of the computer business — has URLs that are cryptic, long, and ugly. Whereas anyone with, say, a Tumblr account, can get far nicer URLs for free.


Captivating little HTML5 drawing app by Ricardo Cabello. Works swell on the iPhone too. (Via Federico Viticci.)

Glenn Fleishman on RealNetworks’s DVD Copying Settlement 

Glenn Fleishman, writing for Boing Boing:

RealNetworks just screwed us all by settling lawsuits in which it might have lost — but which might also have given some new life to fair use for digital media. The post-RealDVD world means that unless there’s a major change to the law surrounding copy protection, there will never be a legal way to perform legal acts of copying or shifting protected movies, music, and games.

Whatever Happened to Programming? 

Mike Taylor:

I want to make things, not just glue things together.

(Via Rands.)

Yair Reiner on Apple’s IP Threats to Rival Handset Makers 

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, quoting from a report from Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner on the behind-the-scenes aspects of Apple’s patent suit against HTC:

Starting in January, Apple launched a series of C-Level discussions with tier-1 handset makers to underscore its growing displeasure at seeing its iPhone-related IP [intellectual property] infringed. The lawsuit filed against HTC thus appears to be Apple’s way of putting a public, lawyered-up exclamation point on a series of blunt conversations that have been occurring behind closed doors.

Our checks also suggest that these warning shots are meaningfully disrupting the development roadmaps for would-be iPhone killers. Rival software and hardware teams are going back to the drawing board to look for work-arounds. Lawyers are redoubling efforts to gauge potential defensive and offensive responses. And strategy teams are working to chart OS strategies that are better hedged.

Reiner concludes that the effect is going to be to drive would-be Android handset makers into the arms of Microsoft and Windows Phone 7.

Vodafone Gives Customer Android Phone Loaded With Botnet and Password-Stealing Malware 

Pedro Bustamante:

Interestingly enough, the Mariposa bot is not the only malware I found on the Vodafone HTC Magic phone. There’s also a Confiker and a Lineage password stealing malware. I wonder who’s doing QA at Vodafone and HTC these days?

In the comments, Bustamante writes:

Regardless, I don’t think this has to do with factory settings, but rather with poor QA process of refurbished phones.

One would hope this isn’t widespread.

What About Those Multitouch Patents? 

Farhad Manjoo’s piece for Slate on Apple’s patent infringement legal action against HTC bears the headline “Apple’s Multitouch Lawsuit Is Both Dumb and Dangerous”, which is slightly odd, insofar as that none of the patents Apple cited are related to multitouch.

Which raises the question: Why not? Multitouch is certainly the aspect of the iPhone user interface that has been most-talked about with regard to patents, ever since it debuted at Macworld Expo in 2007 and Jobs flat-out bragged about how patented it was. Maybe the aspects of multitouch that HTC has added to the Nexus One don’t violate the patents?

Update: Nilay Patel says none of Apple’s granted patents cover pinch-to-zoom, which, as far as I can tell, is the only “multitouch” supported on the Nexus One. Apple has pending patents on pinch-to-zoom and other multi-finger gestures, but who knows if they’ll be granted.

Amazon Hiring Web Browser Developers 

Michael Calore:

A job posting for a browser engineer at Lab126, the division of Amazon that develops the Kindle, indicates the company is looking for somebody to develop “an innovative embedded web browser” for a consumer product. [...]

The Kindle’s current browsing experience is notably sub-par. It’s good enough to check your e-mail, post to Twitter or read Wikipedia, but it doesn’t handle images or more complex web apps particularly well. It certainly doesn’t live up to the same vision of the mobile web being outlined by the iPhone, or Android phones like the Droid or Nexus One.

Calore is right that the current Kindle browser is poor, but I wonder whether this job opening is for the Kindle. One problem Amazon would have with a Kindle armed with a good mobile browser is that it might encourage too much use of the browser — existing Kindles don’t have Wi-Fi and only access the Internet via “free” 3G networking. The reason Amazon can provide free 3G is that it’s typically only used for buying books. Add a great browser and I don’t see how they could afford free 3G. (Maybe future Kindles will be Wi-Fi only?)

The Panic Status Board 

If I didn’t love these guys I would hate them.

Steve Jobs at the 2010 Oscars 

Great photo by Zadi Diaz. (Via Dave Winer.)

Jim Dalrymple: iPhone, iPad Operating System to Unify With OS 4.1 

Jim Dalrymple:

However, it doesn’t make sense for Apple to unify the two operating systems for 4.0 with the timeline they are working with. Rather, I expect Apple to release OS 4.1 in September or October. It will not only address issues with the 4.0 release, but also unify the operating systems.

Jim’s expectations tend to be pretty good, to say the least.

Download Squad: ‘Microsoft Set to Destroy Apple in Every Games Market’ 

Oh, you thought the gaming news was all sunshine and roses for Apple today? Not so, reports Sebastian Anthony at Download Squad:

Apple, with its locked-down, isolated sandbox is in trouble. Do game developers have any reason to continue working on games for the iPhone or iPad now that Microsoft is offering so much more? [...]

Can Apple really see themselves competing, with a minuscule desktop market share and 25% of the smartphone sector? Steve Jobs has announced Apple’s intent to move into mobile gaming, but can you really see developers siding with the iPhone when Windows Phone 7 is just around the corner?

Nice Presentation From Cameron Daigle on iPad UI Design 

Answering the question, “Is the iPad just a big iPhone?” in the negative. Love this bit about the lack of hovering:

Here’s why this section is about Controls: every day, your cursor protects you from unclear UI. It helpfully turns into a text cursor as you hover over textboxes, or a hand as you hover over a link or action item.

iPad has no such thing. Bad UI will stick out like a sore thumb, both in apps and on websites. Your tappable areas had better look tappable. Your controls had better look controllable.

AT&T’s Crummy Android Phone 

AT&T’s first Android phone, the Motorola Backflip, ships with an outdated version of the OS (1.5; current version is 2.1) and comes with a bunch of AT&T-added apps that can’t be deleted. They’d do the same with the iPhone if it were up to them.

New Promo Video From HP and Adobe on Upcoming ‘Slate Device’ 

HP is banking heavily on the inclusion of Flash to be a selling point vs. the iPad. My gut feeling is that Flash will prove irrelevant, and that this thing will go nowhere simply because Windows 7 is terribly suited to a touchscreen tablet.

(And what in the world is the deal with the crazy server name in HP’s weblog URLs?)


New site from Gabe Rivera: “Mediagazer is to media as Techmeme is to tech.”

GDC Summit Devoted Entirely to iPhone OS Gaming 

Speaking of game-related Apple news.

Valve Announces That Its Games and Steam Service Are Coming to the Mac 

Big news for the Mac as a game platform:

If players already own the PC versions of Valve games, they’ll get Mac versions at no extra charge through a feature called Steam Play. [...] By using the Steam Cloud feature that the company introduced in 2008, players can save in-progress games online, then call up those saved games no matter which version they’re playing. If you’re playing Half-Life 2 on your home PC but then head out on the road with your MacBook, you can continue your game-in-progress.

The David Foster Wallace Audio Project 

Interviews, readings, and more, “lovingly collected by Ryan Walsh in early 2009”. It’s a gold mine.

Carmi Levy’s Conspiracy Theory Regarding Apple’s Removal of Wi-Fi Scanning Apps from the App Store 

He thinks it’s a scam to make it harder for iPhone (and soon, iPad) owners to use Wi-Fi, so that they instead use 3G and run up service charges. This is nutty. The carriers — AT&T especially — really do want iPhone owners to use Wi-Fi. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is practically begging iPad users to use Wi-Fi.

Plus, the iPhone has built-in features for finding open Wi-Fi networks, right there in the Settings app. By default it even lets you know when it finds an open network. It boggles the mind that anyone would think there’s something fishy about these apps being removed.

Cameron Moll on His Weblog Redesign 

He’s very kind to state that DF was an inspiration. I stole the intermingled short-links-and-longer-articles format from Kottke, though.

New York Times Profile on Pandora and Founder Tim Westergren 

Saved, perhaps, by the iPhone. They turned a profit last year and expect $100 million in revenue this year.


Winner of the Oscar for Best Short Film. If you love profanity, ultra violence, and logos, you’re going to enjoy this as much as I did. (Via Kottke.)

‘The Hurt Locker’ Wins Best Picture; Kathryn Bigelow First Woman to Win Best Director 

Roger Ebert:

Bigelow did it, I believe, because she quite simply made the best film: The tension generated by the film was extraordinary. Yes, situations involving defusing bombs are common enough, but somehow Bigelow made the bomb scenes human, not technical. Perhaps that was the woman in her?

I’d say they pretty much got it right with the winners this year. The tribute to John Hughes was very nice.

(The Hurt Locker was shot on 16mm film; when was the last Best Picture winner (or even nominee?) that was shot on 16mm? Update: Leaving Las Vegas?)

Edward Tufte Presidential Appointment 

President Obama has appointed Edward Tufte to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, “whose job is to track and explain $787 billion in recovery stimulus funds”. Outstanding.

Apple’s iPad Commercial From the Oscars 

Just like with Apple’s iPhone commercials, the ad focuses on how the device actually looks and works and what it can do. So good.

Ken Fisher of Ars Technica on How Ad Blockers Hurt Revenue 

A site like Ars, with a tech-savvy audience, is the hardest hit. Fisher claims 40 percent of Ars readers are blocking their ads, and points out that many readers running ad blockers aren’t even aware that they’re costing sites money:

There is an oft-stated misconception that if a user never clicks on ads, then blocking them won’t hurt a site financially. This is wrong. Most sites, at least sites the size of ours, are paid on a per view basis.

I have no easy answer, but I will point out that there’s no inherent reason why ads have to be something people are tempted to block. It’s not enough to ask readers not to block ads — you’ve got to work hard at providing ads that readers actually enjoy, or at least aren’t tempted to block.

Update: There’s a prisoners’ dilemma problem with ad blockers, where it doesn’t matter if one site shows reasonable ads if others show crap ads, because those crap ads will drive users to install ad-blocking software, and ad-blocking software casts a wide net and blocks as much as it can. It’s unlikely that most ad-blocker-using Ars readers installed their ad-blocker because of the ads on Ars Technica.

This Is Not Hard to Understand 

Bill Ray for The Register, on the Wi-Fi scanning apps removed from the App Store last week:

Wi-Fi detection is something of a niche: there were never more than a handful of such applications in iTunes. But now even those have vanished as Apple decided they were using a “private framework”, and has pulled them off the shelves without explanation or apology. [...]

“We received a very unfortunate email today from Apple stating that WiFi Where has been removed from sale on the App Store for using private frameworks to access wireless information,” explains one developer, though Apple has apparently declined to explain exactly what rule the scanning applications are breaking.

Uh, the rule against using private frameworks?

Update: Worth noting that this is the same Bill Ray who, in December 2006, a month before the iPhone was unveiled, wrote “Why the Apple Phone Will Fail, and Fail Badly”.

Palm Introduces WebOS Plugin Development Kit 

They call it a “plugin development kit”, but what it really means is that developers can write compiled C/C++ apps for WebOS now. And according to John Paczkowski:

Perhaps more important, the PDK will allow developers to rewrite mobile apps created for other platforms to run on webOS with minimal modification. Apps that currently run on Apple’s iPhone, for example, can be ported over in a matter of days, sources close to the company tell me, and they don’t really suffer any degradation in performance.

I can only assume that this is in reference to games with cross-platform cores, not utility-type apps that are Cocoa Touch through-and-through.

‘60 Days’ 

I stand corrected regarding the original expectations for iPad availability worldwide. During the iPad introduction event last month, the slide stating that the Wi-Fi models would be available in “60 days” also included this underneath: “Worldwide availability of WiFi models”.

The Mac Sale Bundle 

Speaking of DF RSS feed sponsorships, I’d like to thank this week’s sponsor, The Mac Sale. They’ve got a terrific bundle of Mac apps for sale through March 15 for just $49.99. The bundle includes: MacGourmet Deluxe, VideoConverter Pro, Supercard, Shovebox, MiniOne Racing, PathFinder, StoryMill, Inkbook, Slideshow, and Finance 6. All 10 apps, just $49.99.

(The Mac Sale is a collaboration between MacZot and The Escapers, makers of the Flux web design app.)

Jason Snell on Google’s Nexus One 

Speaking of Jason Snell, he’s got a thoughtful look at the Nexus One and Android, particularly in comparison to the iPhone.

Dan Moren on the Problem iPad Developers Face: They Don’t Have Actual iPads 

The SDK includes a simulator, but it doesn’t really help with gauging the feel.

Engadget’s Newly ‘Leaked’ Concept Video of Microsoft’s Courier 

Very interesting, but note that this is not a demo of a device, or even of actual software. It’s a demo of a concept. I’d wager money that we’ll never see an actual product from Microsoft that works like this.

Why the iPad Won’t Quite Ship Within ‘60 Days’ of the Announcement Event 

John Paczkowski:

If the ship date was to be April 3, why didn’t Jobs say so at the January event?

Obviously, it’s impossible to say. Though it’s certainly interesting that Jobs couldn’t offer a hard ship date for a major product that was just two months out.

Does this mean Apple may have run into a bit of an iPad manufacturing hiccup after all? I suppose it’s possible. Cannaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek, who first reported alleged production issues with the iPad, certainly thinks so.

My sources suggest that Misek is wrong. It was the software, not the hardware, that took a week or two longer to finish than they’d hoped. Nothing extraordinary or unusual, just the usual hard-to-predict timing of turning software that’s almost ready to ship into software that’s ready to ship. In the grand history of major OS release date slips, one week is pretty tame.

Update: Some readers are arguing that it must be a hardware delay, because sales outside the U.S. don’t start for another month. Could be that there are manufacturing delays, too, I suppose. But I was never under the impression that Apple ever intended for the iPad to go on sale worldwide on day one. Is the delay before sales in Europe a change?

iPad to Ship on April 3; Pre-Orders Start Next Week 

Get your credit cards warmed up.

Matt Gemmell on iPad Application Design 

Keen analysis and good advice. Mobile Android App for Developers 

This is interesting: when the Mobile 1.1 app for Android is installed, Android developers can, in their own apps, use Photoshop for Android’s image editor as an embedded view. Android calls this an “activity”; it’s sort of analogous to a service on Mac OS X. (There’s nothing like it in iPhone OS 3.x.)

Why Larry Ellison Hates ‘Cloud Computing’ 


All Six HTML WG Working Drafts Have Been Published 

HTML5 moves ever forward.

Books in the Age of the iPad 

Thoughtful, beautifully illustrated essay by Craig Mod on the future of books. I think he’s got it exactly right. (And I agree with him that iBooks’s “paper page turning” metaphor is the wrong one for long form iPad reading and design.)

Berkshire Hathaway’s 2009 Annual Report (PDF) 

Cogent, as always.

‘Made, Is Making, or Will Make?’ 

David Barnard on the difficulties of projecting long-term revenue from volatile short-term fluctuations in sales from the App Store and Android Market.

Apple Tops Fortune’s 2010 List of World’s Most Admired Companies 


As BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer puts it, “The whole world held its breath before the iPad was announced. That’s brand management at its very best.”

Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and Amazon round out the top five.

CSS Border Radius 

Clever little web tool by Jacob Bijani for generating cross-browser border radius CSS code. (Via Beautiful Pixels.)

‘An Explosion of Mobile Patent Lawsuits’ 

Interesting graphic from Nick Bilton of The New York Times, suggesting that Apple’s patent suit against HTC is but one more skirmish in an industry-wide patent war.

Republican Representative Introduces a Bill to Put Reagan on $50 Bill 

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC):

“Every generation needs its own heroes. One decade into the 21st century, it’s time to honor the last great president of the 20th and give President Reagan a place beside Presidents Roosevelt and Kennedy.”

Bill Clinton, of course, left office with higher approval ratings (particularly the average for his second term) and a balanced budget.

Cloud-Based Video Storage From Apple? 

Greg Sandoval, reporting for CNet:

The company’s representatives have recently spoken with some of the major film studios about enabling iTunes users to store their content on the company’s servers, two people familiar with the discussions told CNET. That’s in addition to streaming television shows and music. [...] Apple’s vision is to build proverbial digital shelves where iTunes users store their media, one of the sources said. “Basically, they want to eliminate the hard drive,” the source said.

There are two ways to interpret this. One would be that Apple will provide online storage for your iTunes purchases as backup, so that if your hard drive fails or your computer is lost or if you simply buy more movies than you have space to store yourself, you still have access to everything you’ve bought. Think of this model as like IMAP for iTunes content — it would also allow multiple devices (computer, iPhone, iPad) to remain in sync over the air, rather than the current model where devices need to be tethered via USB to your computer in order to sync. I think this would be fantastic. As it stands now, iTunes customers are responsible for the data integrity of their purchases. Update: Think of it this way: if Apple doesn’t do something like this, then what’s the model for owning an iPad as your primary computing device?

The other way to interpret it — the dystopic take — is that Apple wants to remove local storage entirely, except perhaps as a cache that we can’t control. In this model, if you disconnect from Apple’s servers, you lose access to your library. (Given that we’re lucky to complete phone calls on weekday afternoons in certain U.S. metro areas, we’re a ways off from this being feasible, even if it is what Apple has in mind.)

‘Already Dead’, Eh? 

Worth a re-link, just to point out this remark from “genius” patent troll Nathan Myhrvold regarding Steve Jobs’s return to Apple in 1997:

“Apple is already dead.”

(Myhrvold at the time was Microsoft’s CTO.)

Not a Good Move, Perception-Wise 

Dan Frommer makes a good point:

But in terms of perception, it’s really the latest sign from Apple that it is terrified of Google, whose Android operating system is becoming a formidable rival in the smartphone industry.

Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter. This is how it looks.

The U.S. Patent System vs. Innovation 

Eric Von Hippel, professor of technological innovation at MIT, in an interview with The New York Times:

“It’s a bad scene right now. The social value of patents was supposed to be to encourage innovation — that’s what society gets out of it. The net effect is that they decrease innovation, and in the end, the public loses out.”

Yes, the patent system is supposed to reward the innovators themselves, but it is also supposed to benefit the public interest.

London Sperm Bank’s New Brand 

There’s nothing Futura can’t do. (Thanks to DF reader Tom Davis.)

Nilay Patel’s Apple vs. HTC Patent Breakdown 

Patent-by-patent overview of all 20 patents upon which Apple claims HTC is infringing.

AT&T’s First Android Phone Replaces Google With Yahoo as Default Search Engine 

The phone is the Motorola Backflip. I presume Motorola and/or AT&T did this because they worked out a deal with Yahoo where they get paid for making them the default search engine.

Interesting proof of just how much freedom Android’s open source licensing model offers to handset makers and carriers. What are the odds that AT&T and Motorola will be able to make a Windows Phone 7 handset with, say, Google as the default search engine?

‘From Russia With Love’ 

The second film in the series (after Dr. No). I watched it last night for the first time in a long while. So, so good. Low on the cockamamie; high on style and lovely details, including beautiful on-location footage of early-60s Istanbul. The plot revolves around a Russian code machine and a possible defector (who is, of course, a hot chick), not a preposterous plot to destroy the Earth or all of Western civilization.

Not just quintessential James Bond, but maybe the best Bond — funny, not corny, a spy movie, not an action movie.

Virgin America Drops Flash From Web Site 

The Register:

Start-up airline Virgin America has decided HTML is “good enough” for animating online content on its brand-new website, which went live Monday, dumping Flash. [...] Virgin picked HTML to give users of iPhones and other mobiles the option in the future of checking in through their phone.

Microsoft Visio 2010 Includes Ripped Off Version of Panic’s Transmit Icon 

Amusing that the negative feedback dialog for Office 2010 is called “Send a Frown”.

Roger Ebert’s New Voice 

Clip from Ebert’s appearance on Oprah this week, previewing his new custom-made text-to-speech voice made using audio he had previously recorded before losing his ability to talk.

I’m tearing up.

Dogs Catching Snacks at 1,000 Frames Per Second Super Slo-Mo 


An Android Success Story 

Edward Kim’s “Car Locator” Android app is generating over $10,000 a month in revenue. Good to know it’s possible to make meaningful dough from the Android Market.

I Stand By This Quip From October 

Your humble narrator, back in October when Nokia filed a patent suit against Apple:

If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em.

I feel this suit against HTC is a terrible mistake.

Microsoft Warns Windows XP Users Not to Press F1 Key 

The “Any” key, however, is still safe.

Lifehacker’s Top 10 Android Apps 

The look-and-feel — and in some cases, like the task killer and file manager, entire purpose — of these apps is as good a summary as any of the differences between Android and iPhone OS. (SlideScreen being the notable exception.)

Adam Lisagor Responds to The iPhone App Review’s Shakedown Attempt 

So funny.

Why DRM Doesn’t Work, Or: How to Download an Audio Book From the Cleveland Public Library 

From the Dept. of It’s Funny Because It’s True. (Via John Siracusa.)

Edward Tufte’s Initial Thoughts on the Windows Phone 7 Series Interface Design 

Edward Tufte:

The panorama sequence appears to be an interface for an interface, a distancing from the core activities of users, who just want to get on with what they want to do. My view is to let the user’s eyes do more on a screen-image rich with opportunities rather than having to move through a sequence of thin decorative screens in order to find the desired action.

Summary of the iPhone Patents Apple Is Suing HTC for Infringing 

Nilay Patel, Esq. has a rundown of the patents at Engadget. Some of these sound like the worst sort of software patent bullshit, like “Unlocking A Device By Performing Gestures On An Unlock Image”, but others are hard to judge from the name alone. And despite Apple’s PR saying there are 20 patents at issue, they seem to have only listed 10.

Apple’s Suits Against HTC 

John Paczkowski has PDFs of Apple’s two filings. (Click the orange down-arrow button to download the PDFs rather than read them in the inline Flash dingus.)

Apple Sues HTC for Patent Infringement 

Apple PR:

Apple today filed a lawsuit against HTC for infringing on 20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The lawsuit was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Off the top of my head, this is the first time I can recall Apple filing a patent lawsuit against a competitor except as a counter-suit (e.g. against Nokia). I can’t speak to the hardware and “architecture” issues, but I despise the idea of “user interface” patents.

Y Combinator Looking for iPad Startups 

Y Combinator:

Most people think the important thing about the iPad is its form factor: that it’s fundamentally a tablet computer. We think Apple has bigger ambitions. We think the iPad is meant to be a Windows killer. Or more precisely, a Windows transcender. We think Apple foresees a future in which the iPad is the default way people do what they now do with computers (and some other new things).

Scrollback in Instapaper Pro 2.2 

Imagine sweating every single detail like this. That’s what it’s like to develop great iPhone apps.

Pwn2Own 2010: Interview With Charlie Miller 

From an interview with Charlie Miller, winner of the Pwn2Own contest two years running:

Q: In your opinion, which is the safer combination OS + browser to use?

That’s a good question. Chrome or IE8 on Windows 7 with no Flash installed. There probably isn’t enough difference between the browsers to get worked up about. The main thing is not to install Flash!

Larry, John, Steve, and Bruce 

From the days when Apple’s about boxes gave credit to developers.

Update: Fireballed, but cached here.

PS3s Unable to Access PlayStation Network Due to Clock Bug 

Patrick Seybold, PlayStation Blog:

We hope to resolve this problem within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you have a model other than the new slim PS3, we advise that you do not use your PS3 system, as doing so may result in errors in some functionality, such as recording obtained trophies, and not being able to restore certain data.

Attic: iPhone App for Forgotten Albums in Your Library 

Great idea, clever interface. $1 well-spent. (Via Beautiful Pixels.)

Kontra’s Case Against Opera Mini on the iPhone 


It’s one thing for an app on the iPhone to query the web, talk to its own or others’ servers, but something entirely different for Opera Mini to proxy the entire web through its own proprietary servers. Yes, you read it right. Opera gets in between you and every single URL out there, from your bank to your school to your doctor’s office. You never communicate with any site directly, only through Opera proxy servers that first go to that URL, get a page, recompile it into its own markup language, compress and send it back to the mobile client that alone can understand it.

Here’s the pertinent entry from Opera’s FAQ:

Q: Is there any end-to-end security between my handset and — for example — or my bank?

A: No. If you need full end-to-end encryption, you should use a full Web browser such as Opera Mobile.

I think it’d be better if Opera Mini simply refused to handle HTTPS requests on its own.

AT&T Says Its Network Will Be Ready for SXSW This Year 

I’ll believe it when I see it.

Andrew Sullivan on The Atlantic’s Redesign 

Andrew Sullivan:

I understand that advertisers like “verticals” to pitch certain kinds of products, and are allegedly leery of individual bloggers with style. I also know in this media climate how vital advertising is, and how our survival online is critical to our endurance in print. I am not a businessman. And I deeply believe in the Atlantic, as readers well know. If this keeps us afloat, that sure is better than going under. If there is business genius here, congrats to all involved.

But treating blogs as a series of headlines, designed to maximize pageviews, is a deep misunderstanding of blogs, their reader communities and their integrity.  I hope they get restored to their previous coherence, and these amorphous “channels” gain some editorial identity. I hope writers like Fallows and Goldberg aren’t treated as random fodder — anchors! — for “channels”. I believe in the Atlantic as a place for writing. The redesign seems to me to ooze casual indifference to that and to the respect that individual writers deserve.

If you’re not a regular reader of The Atlantic’s online content (if you’re interested at all in politics and national affairs, I recommend it highly), prior to their new redesign, they hosted about half a dozen individual writers’ weblogs. They looked and felt like separate blogs under The Atlantic’s parent umbrella. The redesign throws all but Sullivan’s together into a hash.

Count me in with Sullivan that this is, from a reader’s perspective, a change much for the worse.

(Noteworthy: Sullivan states that his Daily Dish accounts for 55-60 percent of The Atlantic’s online traffic; hence the exception.)

iPhone’s Missing Feed Reader 

Shawn Blanc on the state of iPhone feed reading apps. In short, there are a bunch that are pretty good, but not one that’s great. (I’m still using NetNewsWire, but I keep trying all the others when they release new versions.)

Magazines Double Down on Print 

Rafat Ali, writing for Paid Content:

Five of the leading publishers — Time Inc., Hearst, Condé Nast, Wenner Media, and Meredith — have banded together for this “power of print” campaign, reminiscent of a similar campaign by newspaper publishers a few years ago, when the world was slightly rosier. [...] One ad says: “The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive.”

Sure, that’ll do it. Also, I did not know this:

And of course who else but the troglodyte Jann Wenner to “orchestrate” this campaign, the guy whose magazine Rolling Stone can’t figure out how to keep a domain name up; and oh wait, who outsources the running of the mag website to RealNetworks, until late last year. That Wenner. Good luck, the other four.

Sure enough, look at this “sign up for our newsletter” page on Rolling Stone’s web site:

This site is operated by RealNetworks, Inc. (“Operator”) in partnership with Rolling Stone L.L.C.

Jon Stokes on the Apple A4 

Jon Stokes:

But it turns out that the A4 is a 1GHz custom SoC with a single Cortex A8 core and a PowerVR SGX GPU. The fact that A4 uses a single A8 core hasn’t been made public, but I’ve heard from multiple sources who are certain for different reasons that this is indeed the case. (I wish I could be more specific, but I can’t.)

Clifford Stoll Pooh-Poohs the Web in 1995 

Clifford Stoll, writing for Newsweek, did not foresee a bright future for the Web in 1995:

Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.

Update: It’s not that the problems Stoll pointed out weren’t very real in 1995. It’s that he saw them as unsurmountable rather than as opportunities. They’ve mostly all been solved.