Linked List: May 2010

‘Microsoft We Don’t Feel So Good About’ 

David Gelles and Richard Waters, in a piece titled “Google Ditches Windows on Security Concerns” in the Financial Times:

New hires are now given the option of using Apple’s Mac computers or PCs running the Linux operating system. “Linux is open source and we feel good about it,” said one employee. “Microsoft we don’t feel so good about.”

Looking Silly, Indeed 

Paul Thurrott, back on January 6, reporting from CES:

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

IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook. Shipping in the second half of 2010, this is the device that will make Apple’s supposed tablet look silly. It’s basically a clamshell netbook-class computer running Windows 7. But you can pop-off the screen and use just that as a tablet.

Three days ago, Lenovo announced that they’re killing the product and starting over from scratch with Android.

Apple: Two Million iPads Sold in Less Than 60 Days 

It took two years for Apple to sell the two-millionth iPod, and four months to sell the two-millionth iPhone. (One significant difference between the iPad and iPhone, though, is that the no-contract Wi-Fi-only iPod Touch did not debut alongside the iPhone. When comparing aggregate iPad sales to the iPhone, it’s only fair to include the iPod Touch with the iPhone.)

Daniel Jalkut’s ‘Select Regular Expression’ Script for the Finder 

I’ve been using this script for years: you enter a Perl regex pattern, the script will then select all items in the frontmost Finder window whose names match the pattern.

I’ve made a one-character customization to Jalkut’s script. His line 69:

if ($thisLeaf =~ /$pattern/)

I’ve changed this to:

if ($thisLeaf =~ /$pattern/i)

which makes the file name match case insensitive.

Texts, as Opposed to Books 

Verlyn Klinkenborg:

All the e-books I’ve read have been ugly — books by Chang-rae Lee, Alvin Kernan, Stieg Larsson — though the texts have been wonderful. But I didn’t grow up reading texts. I grew up reading books. The difference is important.

Even with cheap printed books, you can tell that someone proofed every page. With many e-books, they’ve clearly just been run through a converter with no proofing whatsoever. This is especially true for backlist Kindle titles from Amazon — the formatting is just atrocious.

Mutual Mobile App Solutions 

My thanks to Mutual Mobile for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. They’re a 50-person development and consulting firm based in Austin, Texas, who focus exclusively on mobile applications. Mutual Mobile does everything from commercial iPhone and iPad app development to internal tool development for for companies like Dell, Hoover’s, and Polycom.

If you’re looking for a team to create an app for you, check out Mutual Mobile’s website for some great examples of their work. (And, if you’re a developer or UI designer looking for work, Mutual Mobile is hiring.)

MG Siegler Reviews the HTC Evo 4G 

Terrible battery life (even when not using 4G), a buggy and slow camera, and a poor keyboard.

Roy Halladay Throws Perfect Game 

Only the 20th in Major League Baseball history, but the second this month.

Details, Details, Details 

Pierre Igot on how Pages and Word differ in displaying the styles applied to selected text.

Oliver Reichenstein on Wired’s iPad App 

Oliver Reichenstein is not a fan of Wired’s use of multi-column text layouts in their iPad app. I don’t agree with Reichenstein’s assessment, but it’s certainly thoughtful. I don’t think that an iPad design based on equating pages (from print) to screens (on the iPad) is a bad idea at all. It’s not the only way, but I don’t think it’s a flawed starting point.

Good exchange at the end between Reichenstein and Jonathan Hoefler, regarding iPad type rendering.

Malcolm Moore: ‘Why Foxconn Cannot Stop Its Suicides’ 

Malcolm Moore, the Telegraph’s Shanghai correspondent, suggests that Foxconn has painted itself into a tragic corner with its policy of paying large settlements to the families of suicides:

For a worker on the basic rate of 900 yuan a month, the compensation amounts to the equivalent of over ten years of gross salary. For a worker who is doing overtime and earning 1500 yuan a month, the compensation is still worth six years of salary.

If these enormous payments don’t stop, the suicides are unlikely to either. But if Foxconn takes the pragmatic option, there is every chance that its workers, fanned by the media, will revolt at its callousness. I would not want to be in Mr Gou’s shoes.

Dave Winer on an Apple TV Without Local Storage 

Dave Winer:

I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again. Apple is building the Disney computer network. All the streets are clean, and the entertainment too. There’s no porn here, and as long as there are no ports it’ll stay that way.

Decreasing the amount of storage inside the Apple TV is interesting, but sort of obvious once you think about it running iPhone OS. No iPhone OS device has ever supported hard disk drives, and I doubt they ever will. And solid state storage is expensive. It’s all about streaming and caching. You’ll get Apple-sanctioned content from the iTunes Store, but I’d wager you’ll be able to stream any H.264 content you want over the web, or from any Mac or PC on your home network. You won’t need USB ports to watch porn; you’ll just need Wi-Fi. You won’t be limited to iTunes Store content any more than you are with the existing Apple TV today.

Engadget Gets Wind of K66, the iPhone OS-Based Next-Generation Apple TV 

The code name has been in the iPhone OS 4 beta SDK for months. Joshua Topolsky reports:

Not only will this be priced to sell (like hotcakes), it seems that Apple is moving away from the model of local storage, and will be focusing the new ATV on cloud-based storage (not unlike Amazon’s streaming scheme, though we’re talking instant-on 1080p, a la Microsoft).

The big question — which I do not know the answer to — is what the interface is going to look like. It certainly can’t be a direct touch interface. You can already use an iPhone/iPod Touch as a remote for the existing Apple TV; presumably that’ll still be an option, but I don’t think Apple can sell a $99 set-top box that requires a $199 remote. And will there be a TV app store? If so, when? (Maybe not right away.) A web browser?

Fred Wilson Changed His Mind About the iPad 

Fred Wilson:

And that is what I missed in my first day with the iPad. It feels less like a computer than any computing device I’ve owned. It’s easy on me in a way that the other devices are not.

Fake Steve on the Foxconn Suicides 

Dan Lyons:

But, see, arguments about national averages are a smokescreen. Sure, people kill themselves all the time. But the Foxconn people all work for the same company, in the same place, and they’re all doing it in the same way, and that way happens to be a gruesome, public way that makes a spectacle of their death. They’re not pill-takers or wrist-slitters or hangers. They’re not Sylvia Plath wannabes, sealing off the kitchen and quietly sticking their head in the oven. They’re jumpers. And jumpers, my friends, are a different breed. Ask any cop or shrink who deals with this stuff. Jumpers want to make a statement. Jumpers are trying to tell you something.

I linked to the “hey, Foxconn’s suicide rate sounds high but it’s lower than China’s overall rate” thing not as proof that everything is just fine at Foxconn, but for context. Every suicide is shocking to the non-suicidal. Maybe there really is something profoundly wrong at Foxconn — jumping is indeed a spectacular, gruesome means of suicide — but the rate isn’t as high as some reporting on it would have you believe.

The iPad Debuts Around the World 

The third guy interviewed by CNN waiting in line in London is wearing a very handsome t-shirt.

V Lock 

A better keyhole design, by Junjie Zhang.

Microsoft’s Stated Goal: 30 Million Windows Phone 7 Devices Sold by the End of 2011 

Filed away for future claim chowder.

Foxconn Suicide Rate Significantly Lower Than Chinese Average 

Perhaps the problem isn’t Foxconn but China. Update: Ends up even China’s reported per-capita suicide rate isn’t all that high.

Are there other Chinese factories of comparable size to Foxconn? If so, are the employee suicide rates significantly different than Foxconn’s?

Sachin Agarwal Says Apple Should Make MobileMe Free 

Apple doesn’t do “loss leaders”, so I can’t see them making MobileMe free for everyone. But I could see them including free MobileMe service when you purchase any Mac or iPhone OS device. MobileMe calendar, contact, and bookmark syncing work great, but how many iPhone and iPad customers are missing out because they don’t want to pay $99 a year for it?

But this bit from Agarwal isn’t pragmatic:

So picture it: you buy an iPad, iPhone, or a new Macbook Pro. You turn it on and login with your MobileMe account. You already have one since it’s free. Instantly that device has all your media and other data. There’s no more USB syncing.

Like Agarwal, I’ve complained about the “tether this device to a Mac or PC” out-of-the-box experience. But wireless sync — especially over cellular networks, but also including Wi-Fi — can’t serve as a replacement for USB syncing and backup until network speeds get much, much faster. Most iPhone/iPod/iPad users have tens of gigabytes of music and video. We’re years away from being able to sync and restore 64 GB of data over the air. This is one area where Apple offers a far better solution today than Google.

Free (or cheaper, or whatever) MobileMe would be great for email, calendar, contacts, and bookmark syncing. But it wouldn’t help with music and video syncing, which is a huge part of the iPhone OS experience.

Update: A suggestion from a friend: “They should just merge MobileMe into iTunes accounts and give the basics away for free and charge for upgrades.” Brilliant. Single sign-in for everything.

Lukas Mathis on Non-Obvious Gestures 

Outstanding piece on some of the fundamental UI problems faced by touchscreen gesture UIs, compared to Mac-style GUIs.

Iron Baby 

Well-done parody.

Justin Williams on Android and the Nexus One 

Excellent “Nexus One from the perspective of a long-time iPhone user” review. I pretty much agree with every word.

Apple’s Secret Weapon: Consumer Education 

Michael Gartenberg on the iPad’s fast start:

The answer is, it took a decade of education and teaching. The key to Apple’s success is that the company often takes the time to explain things to the consumer that no other vendor bothers to do. By keeping a laser focus on key features and introducing them one at a time over a period of years, Apple taught and evangelized everything the consumer needed to know to understand the iPad from day one. Without that foundation, it’s not likely the product would have been nearly the success it has been.


Proposal From Brent Simmons for Ad Hoc iPhone OS Inter-App Callbacks 

An interesting idea, given the built-in constraints of the iPhone SDK. But I sincerely hope that Apple has far richer inter-application communication ideas on the drawing board.

David Chartier on the Plastic Bullet iPhone App 

I’m a sucker for these gimmicky “toy camera” iPhone apps. Plastic Bullet is a good one — the interface is optimized for finding an effect that looks good, rather than slavishly mimicking real-world retro camera hardware.

BP’s Photo Blockade of the Gulf Oil Spill 


Photographers who have traveled to the Gulf commonly say they believe that BP has exerted more control over coverage of the spill with the cooperation of the federal government and local law enforcement. “It’s a running joke among the journalists covering the story that the words ‘Coast Guard’ affixed to any vehicle, vessel, or plane should be prefixed with ‘BP,’ ” says Charlie Varley, a Louisiana-based photographer. “It would be funny if it were not so serious.”

The problem, as many members of the press see it, is that even when access is granted, it’s done so under the strict oversight of BP and Coast Guard personnel. Reporters and photographers are escorted by BP officials on BP-contracted boats and aircraft. So the company is able to determine what reporters see and when they see it.

See also: Mac McClelland’s first-hand report for Mother Jones.

Told You It Was Crazy Talk 

Microsoft’s official Twitter feed:

Steve Ballmer not speaking at Apple Dev Conf. Nor appearing on Dancing with the Stars. Nor riding in the Belmont. Just FYI.

It never ceases to amaze me the sort of crazy speculative bullshit people will take at face value if it’s attributed to someone whose job title is “analyst”. After following this stuff for so many years, I find that information from “analysts” is generally less credible than average.

Joe Posnanski on Cold-Weather Super Bowls 

Joe Posnanski nails it:

Basically here is the thing I haven’t liked: Pro football, for the most part, has lost the weather. And that’s terrible. I’m not saying football is a cold-weather sport ... I’m saying it’s an all-weather sport. And they have more or less legislated snow and rain and ice and mud out of the game. Oh, it’s still there in places — in Green Bay and Chicago and Boston and Kansas City and so on — but these days it’s not just possible but quite likely that at least one team will make it to the Super Bowl without facing the weather at all. Last year, Indianapolis and New Orleans made it to the Super Bowl without playing outdoors once in the playoffs ... and then they played the game itself in a Miami suburb.

Steve Ballmer on Apple’s Surpassing Microsoft in Market Cap 


“It is a long game. We have good competitors but we too are very good competitors,” he said. “I will make more profit and certainly there is no technology company on the planet that is as profitable as we are.”

True. But curious use of the first-person singular.

Nice Analysis From Daniel Jalkut on Android as a Worthy Arch-Rival to the iPhone 

Daniel Jalkut:

My fear is these botched decisions are hurting Apple, but they aren’t feeling it. Pain is a gift: the signal that prevents a burned finger tip from becoming a body engulfed in flames. Apple is numb from success, and I hope the emerging competition from Google and others will re-sensitize them to the threat of failure.

Mary Jo Foley Thinks Silverlight Is Coming to the iPhone 

You could pretty much substitute “Silverlight” for “Flash” in Steve Jobs’s “Thoughts on Flash” — especially the sixth and, in Jobs’s words, “the most important reason”:

We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.

So I’d say no way in hell. What sense would it make for Steve Jobs to publish that in April and then announce Silverlight for iPhone in June? Think.

As for Visual Studio compiling native iPhone OS apps, that’s not quite as preposterous as Silverlight for iPhone, but it’s pretty close. One misinformed analyst does not a story make. Getting Microsoft involved with iPhone software development, in any way, is utterly contrary to everything Apple has stated regarding its plans for the platform.

Duncan Davidson on Android’s Virtual Machine Performance as a Competitive Factor Against the iPhone 

Duncan Davidson, who knows a thing or two about Java, responding to this argument by Java developer Sam Pullara that Android’s Dalvik VM puts the iPhone at a significant competitive disadvantage, for performance reasons:

A faster VM will certainly help things out. But Android’s eventual fate will have little to do with how fast the VM is or how long method dispatches take on the iPhone. Instead, it’ll have to do with harder things like user experience, service plans, interoperability, and excellent applications.

I don’t think anyone would argue that Dalvik isn’t a high-performance VM, especially starting with Android 2.2. And there are absolutely some interesting debates about VMs versus native compilation — but those are developer debates, and no concern whatsoever to actual users.

But Pullara’s argument that Objective-C is inherently slow ignores the real-world results that show that it isn’t — based not on simple “how many million strings can you create per second?” benchmarks, but on the performance of actual iPhone software. (And for technical information about the performance of objc_msgSend(), the specific thing Pullara argues is crippling iPhone performance, you can’t beat Bill Bumgarner’s four-part series on how objc_msgSend() works.)

Or, you could save yourself a lot of time and just read this tweet from Guy English.

Matias Duarte Worked Under Andy Rubin at Danger 

Seth Weintraub:

Matias Duarte was Director of Design at Danger from 2000-2005 under then CEO Andy Rubin.

Silly Bandz Bracelet Craze 

My son’s kindergarten class is fanatical about these things.

John Paczkowski: ‘Palm WebOS Designer Matias Duarte Joining Google’ 

John Paczkowski:

Mobile user interface master Matias Duarte has left Palm and evidently hired on at the most obvious of places: Google.

Duarte, who led development of Palm’s webOS UI as the company’s senior director of human interface and user experience, has jumped ship, Palm confirms. And while the company refuses to tell me where he’s going, multiple sources say it’s Google, where he’ll presumably be working on Android, the company’s open-source platform for mobile devices — noncompete clauses permitting, of course.

If true, Google may be serious about taking the ugly stick out of the Android development process. This is a seriously big hire.

NYT: ‘Google Balks at Turning Over Data Collected From Home Wi-Fi Networks to Regulators’ 

This data collection thing is turning into a real problem for Google. I’d like to see a better explanation for how you “inadvertently” collect and store data from private Wi-Fi networks.

Adobe on Wired’s iPad App 

Dave Dickson:

During summer 2010, watch for new publishing technology on Adobe Labs that helps publishers to transform InDesign CS5 layouts into compelling applications like the Wired Reader.

That Wired’s staff gets to produce this using InDesign is fascinating. The technology is impressive. I’ll repeat myself here: the iPad version truly looks and feels like a peer to the print edition.

This Is the Craziest Thing I’ve Read in a While 

Eric Savitz, Barron’s Tech Trader Daily:

Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with tiny Global Equities Research, contends that 7 minutes of the June 7 keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been blocked off for a presentation by Microsoft to talk about Visual Studio 2010, the company’s suite of development tools. Chowdhry says the new version of VS will allow developers to write native applications for the iPhone, iPad and Mac OS. And here’s the kicker: he thinks Microsoft’s presentation could be given by none other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

That’d be something.

(Via Aaron Swindell.)

iPad Claim Chowder for Retrevo 

Retrevo, “the ultimate electronics marketplace”, on the iPad’s prospects back in February:

A follow-up Retrevo Pulse study looking at consumer interest in buying the new Apple iPad indicates a failure to convince any new buyers to consider the iPad. Not only did Apple fail to convince new buyers, it may have lost many potential buyers who now say they don’t think they need an Apple tablet computer. [...]

Whether this device becomes a big hit is anyone’s guess but based on this study it sure looks doubtful.

The Big Caption 

“A complement to The Big Picture, wherein jokes and statements are made using typography.”

Love it.

Neven Mrgan on the Wired iPad App 

Neven Mrgan:

The Wired app looks great but holy effin christ, I forgot just how many ads magazines have these days. How much would an ad-free issue cost?

The inordinate number of ads added to the feeling that I was swiping rather than reading for much of the issue. I agree with this, too.

Jim Dalrymple’s Predictions for WWDC 

Jim Dalrymple:

I don’t expect to see a Verizon-compatible iPhone until early 2011 and that’s assuming everything remains equal. Changes to development could push that timeframe back even further.

Sounds about right to me too. I don’t know anyone who thinks a Verizon announcement is coming at WWDC, but I do know there are many people who are hoping for (or even expecting) a Verizon iPhone HD this fall, announced at Apple’s annual fall iPod event, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

‘Spirit of Good Fun’ 


Google engineering VP Vic Gundotra softened his approach to Apple today in a chat at the TCDisrupt conference (video below). He now claims that the warnings of a dystopic future and other clear references to Apple weren’t attacks. The statements on openness and choice were conducted only in a “spirit of good fun,” Gundotra said.

Not quite as jovial as Andy Rubin’s comparison of Apple to North Korea, though.

Wired’s Flash-Free App Lands on the iPad 

Peter Kafka:

Meanwhile, Condé says that the real point of the exercise–to build a platform that lets them create a digital version of the magazine with the same tools they use to build the print edition–has been a success. Adobe’s (ADBE) idea was to create a single version that would run on all platforms, but Apple’s anti-Flash stance has made that a no-go. Instead, Condé will build an iPad-specific app, and one that works everywhere else–assuming people want to read this anywhere else.

So what exactly is the basis for Adobe’s antitrust complaint against Apple? They originally planned to use a Flash/AIR app for this. Because of Apple’s ban on such apps, Adobe wrote an application shell specifically for the iPad. Seems like a total win for iPad users — a better experience than if Apple had maintained an “anything goes” policy.

As for the Wired app itself. It’s big — over 500 MB, and it costs $4.99. That seems high to me. Psychologically, I think digital-only content needs to cost a little less than the physical version. It feels good, and the navigation design is thoughtful and interesting. They’re using both axes for pagination — you flip left-to-right to go between stories, and you go up-and-down to go through the pages of a story. One problem is that in many cases, especially with multi-page ads, there’s no visual clue to tell you when there are more pages underneath the current one.

I enjoyed the feature-length cover story on Pixar and Toy Story 3, but the first two-thirds or so of the issue — with all the nugget-length content — made me feel more like I was swiping than reading. Bottom line: I give it a thumbs up. It feels like a true peer to the print version of Wired, not an afterthought or by-product.

BP’s Brands 


Each of our brands has its own heritage and personality, but they all have one thing in common. They all symbolize, embody or provide tremendous energy.

One more thing they have in common: I’ll never buy gas from any of them again.

Google Dictionary Chrome Extension 

This Chrome extension is a perfect example of why I don’t think I’ll ever like using Chrome as my primary web browser. The feature it adds — inline dictionary definitions that hover over any selected word in a web page — is one that is built into Mac OS X. Mac OS X’s built-in dictionary lookup feature works the same way in every well-written Mac app. It looks the same in every app, and is invoked the same way — either by a keystroke or via the right-click contextual menu. It works in Safari web pages, it works in TextEdit text files, it works in Preview PDFs. But it doesn’t work in Chrome. Chrome’s implementation (via this extension) looks ugly and is invoked differently.

I like Chrome much better than Firefox, but fundamentally it’s the same idea as Firefox — a web browser written and designed for another platform, ported to the Mac, missing all sorts of little things that make for good Mac software.

Update: Chrome’s lack of support for Mac OS X’s system-wide dictionary is a known issue.

Doug Bowman on the New Icon for Twitter for iPhone (Née Tweetie) 

Twitter lead designer Doug Bowman, responding on Dribbble to a proposed more-Tweetie-like icon for the newly rebranded Twitter for iPhone:

The best version used more blue for the bird, but retained the exact same silver color of Tweetie’s icon. I thought it was the best choice of everything we had. For several reasons I won’t go into, we opted for the version the app uses now.

Everyone loves to kibitz about app icons. Any app that ever changes its icon is going to generate complaints, no matter what. It’s the one part of the app that every (sighted) user is guaranteed to see and notice.

My biggest complaint about the new Twitter for iPhone icon is that the little birdie icon they’re using is the same icon Twitter displays for users who haven’t set a custom avatar. Which users, in turn, are generally utterly uninteresting to me. Go through Twitter’s trending lists to read tweets from random users, and notice how the ones with the generic Twitter bird avatar are generally just full of hashtag gibberish. More often, I run into it as the avatar representing spambot accounts. So I’ve come to associate this icon with something mildly unpleasant, sort of like the “missing image” icon in a web browser. If this is a logo mark Twitter wants to associate with the company, they should stop associating it with their worst users. (The Twitter for Android app uses the “t” logo mark for its icon — a mark that I more strongly associate with Twitter as a company.)

Apple Passes Microsoft in Market Cap; Second Only to Exxon-Mobil 

Called it. Google Finance has live numbers, so you can watch them fluctuate. An interesting way to compare the two companies’ market caps historically is via Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram’s data isn’t live (they’re using closing prices from yesterday), but it shows the long-term trend.

NYT: Justice Department Investigating iTunes Music Tactics 

Brad Stone, reporting for the NYT:

In March, Billboard magazine reported that Amazon was asking music labels to give it the exclusive right to sell certain forthcoming songs for one day before they went on sale more widely. In exchange, Amazon promised to include those songs in a promotion called the “MP3 Daily Deal” on its Web site.

The magazine reported that representatives of Apple’s iTunes music service were asking the labels not to participate in Amazon’s promotion, adding that Apple punished those that did by withdrawing marketing support for those songs on iTunes.

“Withdrawing marketing support” for songs which were given exclusive marketing deals to Amazon — Apple’s biggest rival — seems like weak sauce. It’s not like Apple was saying they wouldn’t sell the songs. They just didn’t promote them.

Horace Dediu on Why Robbie Bach Was Fired 

Horace Dediu:

No, the reason I believe Bach lost his head is that HP bought Palm.

Bach lost a key account; in fact, he could be responsible for having lost the biggest account that Microsoft ever had. Ballmer is a sales guy and he knows the importance of these relationships. A customer like HP must be managed carefully and their strategy must be steered to fit with yours. If HP felt they needed to go somewhere else for their mobile OS, it’s a slap in the face, but if they buy the asset and IP and internalize a competing platform, then that is a dagger to the heart for Ballmer.

Hard to argue with the timing or the logic. Remember too, that it was an “HP Slate” set to run Windows 7 that Ballmer held up on stage at CES as Microsoft’s flagship new product for 2010.

Lance Ulanoff: ‘The Dell Streak Is Not a Tablet’ 

Count me in with Ulanoff — seems more like a big phone than a small tablet. And where’s Dell’s answer to the iPod Touch? Why not sell a Wi-Fi-only version?

LittleDog Robot 

Amazing work from USC.

MSNBC’s New Photoblog 


Kathryn Koegel of AdAge Is Shocked, Shocked, That Apple Won’t Answer Her Questions About iAds 

Apple doesn’t answer questions about upcoming products, period, even when they’ve been pre-announced. The rest of her piece is oddly defensive:

Martin Nisenholtz, the executive in charge of The New York Times website, stood with Steve at the iPad launch to proudly show off his free ad-supported app. Is Martin going to say to Steve: “Yeah Steve, sell the New York Times in your network. I don’t need to have any say in what ads show up and let us take 40% of the revenue.” It seems unlikely the Times and other “branded” content sites will agree to Steve’s terms.

If anyone doesn’t want to use iAds, then they won’t use iAds. It’s very simple. It’s not like Apple is saying that iAds is the only allowable way to show ads in apps.

‘This Is a Nightmare’ 

Philippe Cousteau Jr. and Sam Champion on what’s going on under the surface of the Gulf.

Meadowlands Awarded 2014 Super Bowl 

Finally, a cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl. (I love how they say a game that will be played in New Jersey was awarded to “New York”.)

Apple, Google, and the Map Wars 

Another smart piece from Kontra, looking at Apple’s relationship with Google Maps:

Digital maps, once a wondrous novelty that started with Google Maps on the desktop, are no longer a mere destination app on mobile devices. Mapping frameworks are beginning to be tightly integrated at the OS level and maps are becoming primary UI conduits to ever more sophisticated location-based services.

Apple’s rivalry with Google is asymmetric. As I noted a few weeks ago, Apple has products that use Google services (search, maps, YouTube); Google has no products that use services from Apple. Android and Chrome OS could “lose” to the iPhone and iPad and Google could still win, so long as iPhone and iPad users continue making heavy use of Google services like web search, Google Maps, and YouTube. Whereas if Android and/or Chrome OS “win”, Apple gets bupkis.

On the other hand, if Apple starts dropping services like Google Maps and Google search, and the iPhone OS proves to be a long-term market winner, Google will lose traffic they would have otherwise won.

Matt Drance on Verizon 

There are a lot of reasons not to hold your breath waiting for a Verizon iPhone, and Matt Drance does a good job running them down here. The Apple Store angle is one that hasn’t gotten much attention.

But: I think it has to happen eventually. It’s just a matter of when.

Bach, Allard Leaving Microsoft 

Todd Bishop:

Robbie Bach and J Allard, founding fathers of Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, are leaving the company as part of a broader restructuring that will give CEO Steve Ballmer more direct oversight of consumer businesses including Microsoft’s struggling mobile unit.

I’m sure Ballmer can fix it.

Google Chrome for Mac and Linux Is Out of Beta 

I’ve been running WebKit nightly builds of Safari as my daily browser, but Chrome is good. I’m going to give it another go.

Safari really needs an option to automatically reopen pages that were left open. It’s crazy that Safari still defaults to the same poorly-chosen behavior of Mosaic from 1993 — where quitting the app implies closing and forgetting all open browser windows. I know about (and make daily use of) the “Reopen All Windows from Last Session” command in Safari’s History menu, but there should be an option to make it automatic, and in my opinion, it should be the default behavior. Closing windows and quitting the browser should not be related tasks. Update: Safari also still lacks a “Reopen Last Closed Tab” command.

The other big thing that’s missing (compared to both Chrome and Firefox) is a proper extension API. If only Apple had an imminent developer conference where they could unveil such a thing.

Steam for Mac Lags Windows Version in Performance, but More Stable 

Chris Foresman:

The Steam for Mac client has been in the hands of gamers for a week now and Valve is collecting some useful data about Mac users. Among the statistics the company has gathered so far: two-thirds of Steam for Mac users run on laptops, and after one week, 11 percent of all Steam purchases are for Mac. One surprising result, however, is that the same version of Portal is five times more stable on Mac OS X than on Windows.

Ben Kuchera on Super Mario Galaxy 2 

Ben Kuchera:

Saying this is Nintendo at its platforming best is an understatement. This is the equivalent of a baseball player hitting nothing but home runs for an entire four-game series, calling his shots Babe-Ruth-style before each swing.

Oil Reaches Louisiana Shores 

A catastrophe that could have and should have been avoided.

Wal-Mart Set to Sell 16 GB iPhone 3GS for $97 

Not the 3G, the 3GS — which heretofore started at $199.

WSJ: ‘Microsoft to Shake Up Entertainment Group’ 

Nick Wingfield, reporting for the WSJ on the woes of Microsoft’s “entertainment division”, which includes mobile phones, the Zune, and Xbox:

Microsoft’s has [sic] fared better in videogames with the Xbox. Although it has lost billions of dollars on the business since entering the game console market over a decade ago with the original Xbox, it’s in second place in the market behind Nintendo Co.

That says it all. The part of this division that has fared better is one in which they’ve lost “billions of dollars”.

In What Universe Does This Make Sense? 

Jared Newman, on Google’s having used HTML and JavaScript to create their PAC-Man game:

So, you can look at Google Pac-Man for iPhone two ways: The more benign explanation is that Google on some level agrees with Apple, and wanted to create a version of Pac-Man that was as widely accessible as possible and not as resource-intensive as Flash. I prefer to think that Google’s beating Apple at its own game by creating a version of Pac-Man that runs nicely on the iPhone without App Store approval.

If using real web technologies instead of Flash is a “jab at Jobs” and “beating Apple at its own game”, then what would it have been if Google had instead created the whole thing using Flash? Does Newman think Apple is opposed to web-based software in general?

Marco Arment on Verizon 

Marco Arment:

AT&T and Verizon are much more similar than not.

Mainly in their contempt for customers.

There would almost definitely be a Verizon Wireless logo somewhere on the iPhone’s case, probably on both the front and back. There may be separate Verizon music, video, and app store icons that you can’t delete.

Those are quite possibly sticking points in negotiations between the two companies, but I highly doubt Apple will cave on either. There will never be a logo on the front of an iPhone; the carrier gets a spot in the status bar, and that’s it. And the carrier-specific apps and services are exactly the sort of things that Apple is proudest of having eliminated with the iPhone model — that Apple defines and controls the entire experience, including the apps and the system updates.

Flash Player’s Effect on Android 2.2 Browser Performance 

Eric Slivka:

Furthermore, while the demonstration appears to show adequate ability to play Flash-based games, the browser’s ability to deal with Flash content on a fluid basis as integrated into a webpage seems less impressive. Flash elements lead to stuttering while scrolling and zooming on webpages with Flash content, and even resulted in a low memory warning requiring the tester to actively manage the currently open applications on the test device.

The solution is to turn on a setting that asks before loading Flash content — when enabled, the Nexus One running Android 2.2 is clearly a faster browser than a 3GS.

Apple’s Incredibly Efficient Growth 

Steve Cheney analyzes Apple’s R&D expenditures and acquisition pace:

Organic growth is the term coined for growing internally, not via merger or acquisition. Apple has embraced this strategy over its existence, averaging only about 1 acquisition per year during the past 25 years. In contrast — during the past four years alone — Microsoft bought 45 companies, Google 40, and Cisco 30.

Microsoft spent seven times as much as Apple on R&D over the past four years.

Windows Developer on the iPad as a Threat to Windows 

This, from Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, long-time maker of customization/theming utilities for Windows:

Speed. Similar to #1, I can check my email, look at my various RSS feeds and scan my schedule in less than 30 seconds. On a Windows based PC, I’d still be waiting for Outlook to get done doing its thing or dealing with some Windows update that came in during the night that rebooted my machine.

I’ve noticed this too. The iPad is a far slower machine than a modern MacBook in terms of raw hardware performance, but it feels faster in many ways, because you never have to wait for it.

Update: Fireballed. Here’s a plain text version from Google’s cache.

‘Exile on Main Street’ Re-Release Tops the U.K. Chart 

So, so good.

Harrison Ford on Ad-Libbing the ‘I Know’ Line 

The original line was the obvious “I love you too”; Ford and director Irvin Kershner pushed George Lucas to use the ad-lib in the film.

Dan Moren on ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 

From 2005, a good essay on a great film.

Remember When People Thought Steve Jobs Was Paranoid for Thinking Teams at Google Want to Kill the iPhone? 

In hindsight, it’s like he’d already seen last week’s Android keynote at Google I/O.

HTML5 Watch 

New weblog from Neven Mrgan, “Collecting examples of creative, innovative, and unexpected use of emerging web technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3.”

Video JS: Open Source HTML5 Video Player 

JavaScript-based video player, already supports WebM.

Tags for Mac 

My thanks to Gravity for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Tags 2.0, their excellent tagging utility for Mac OS X. Tags lets you organize files and other items across your entire system using one comprehensive set of tags. Files in the Finder, photos in iPhoto, music and video in iTunes, messages in Mail, and much more — tag them all using the same simple tagging interface. Searching for tagged items is simple too.

Tags is a great way to group related items from anywhere on your Mac. It’s a simple premise with a well-designed, deceptively simple interface. Check out the screencast on Gravity’s website for a quick tour. Licenses start at just $29.

Kara Swisher on the Anti-Apple Focus of Yesterday’s Google I/O Keynote 

Kara Swisher:

Two at its rival was probably appropriate. Three, welllll, okay, if you insist.

Unfortunately, the continued verbal jousts by many Google execs — including from CEO Eric Schmidt — onstage at the San Francisco developers conference at Apple got tired pretty quickly and soon felt petty, juvenile and, ultimately, made Google look needlessly defensive.

People see what they want to see. Count me in with Swisher; I think it’s weird how the App Store and iPhone OS were so clearly the central focus of a Google keynote. Judging from my email and Twitter replies, though, there are clearly many others who saw Google as racking up one solid hit against Apple after another.

Judge for yourself by watching the keynote. (Score one for Google against Apple for broadcasting keynote addresses live — can you even imagine how popular live keynote streams would be for Apple? Score one for Apple for posting their keynotes as single video files; Google posts theirs in crummy YouTube-size 10-minute chunks.)

Interesting Speculation From Sean Heber 

Sean Heber:

They’ve been slowly training us developers to stick with the documented stuff and use their higher level APIs. They want us to accept their abstractions and work within them. This is usually rationalized under the guise of safety, compatibility, and quality control. Those are fine and acceptable reasons by themselves, but what if there’s another purpose lurking behind the curtain?

I think there’s a chance that Apple is slowly building Objective-C into a managed environment similar to Java/.NET.

‘The Empire Strikes Back’ Turns 30 

Mike Ryan:

I’m not sure what he could be thinking, because, as far as I’m concerned, The Empire Strikes Back is not only the perfect science-fiction movie. It might just be the perfect movie.

Ryan gives credit to director Irvin Kershner. I say the unsung hero of Empire is screenwriter Leigh Brackett. George Lucas wrote the story, but Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote the screenplay. Why is the dialogue so good, the characters so interesting, compared to the other films in the franchise? Because George Lucas didn’t write the dialogue. Empire has more great lines of dialogue than the other five Star Wars movies combined. (My very favorite, right from the day my dad took me to see a matinee on opening weekend, was purportedly an ad-lib by Harrison Ford: “I know.”)

Among her screenwriting credits: The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, and The Long Goodbye. Those three and Empire would make for a great film festival.

AT&T to Nearly Double ‘Early Termination Fee’ for Smartphone Contracts 

You stay classy, AT&T.

Android Engineer Says Apple Got Complacent, iPhone Now Only ‘Third or Maybe Even Fourth’ Best 

Cédric Beust, former Android engineer for Google:

My take on the overall situation: I think Apple got arrogant just a tad too early. They were doing great, selling iPhones by the millions despite AT&T and they decided that they had already won, so they could become complacent. They kicked out Adobe, started locking down their product even more strongly than before, stopped innovating on the music front (where is Why do I still need an ugly client for the slightest synchronization task?), fell behind both in hardware and software, and Android eagerly filled the void.

One of my tennis coaches once told me “I guess it’s okay to be arrogant if you’re the best in the world”.

Apple became arrogant before they were the best in the world, and they are now going to have to fight hard if they want to stay third or maybe even fourth.

They might as well give up.

Also, Beust says Android tethering will be free of charge:

“Dont bother with the iPad 3G, just get the cheap iPad, an Android phone running FroYo, turn on wifi tethering and you are automatically online for no extra costs.

FTC Closes Its Investigation of Google AdMob Deal 

The FTC:

The Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigation of Google’s proposed acquisition of mobile advertising network company AdMob after thoroughly reviewing the deal and concluding that it is unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks.

Dan Lyons Says He’s Switching to Android 

Apple is lazy, Steve Jobs is Howard Hughes, and Android is doing to the iPhone what Windows did to the Mac 20 years ago, and Android 2.2 is great:

The new version of Android — version 2.2, a.k.a. Froyo — blows the doors off the iPhone OS. It’s faster, for one thing. It also will support Flash, something Apple refuses to do, mostly out of spite. [...]

Froyo also will let you buy songs over the air and download them directly to your phone. It will also stream songs from your music library to your phone. I don’t really use my phone as a music player that much, but still, it’s impressive that Google has this feature and Apple still doesn’t.

Google has this feature, or has announced it?

Quality Over Quantity, Indeed 


Our flagship app, iTeleport, is priced at $25 on the App Store, and our sales data shows that it’s earned more than $1,000 a day.  How did we get here?

Mike Silverman: ‘Ten Ghosts of WWDC Past’ 

12-year WWDC veteran Mike Silverman on things that used to be a part of WWDC:

These used to be an opportunity for attendees to give direct feedback to the various teams at Apple. There would be a feedback forum for each area (such as Quicktime, Core OS, Server, IT, etc.) and the session was basically an open mic where you could talk to the engineers in a structured but informal way. Best of all was the Vice Presidents Feedback Forum, where a bunch of Apple’s VPs would answer questions about anything. Can you imagine that now?

My understanding regarding the much-missed Jamba Juice is that Moscone screwed them out of it — Apple’s stuck offering food and beverages through Moscone’s vendor list, and Jamba Juice isn’t on it.

WSJ Reports on Developers Dropping Flash 

Ben Worthen, reporting for the WSJ:

Programmers and Web designers say clients increasingly are asking that their websites or applications be compatible with Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Those sites can’t be built with Adobe’s Flash technology, which is used widely for online video and animation but which Apple has banned from its devices.

“Since the iPad came out we’ve had a lot of clients say that they just don’t want Flash on their sites,” said Chantelle Simoes, vice president at Ninth Degree Inc., a design firm in Dana Point, Calif., which has built websites for Sanyo and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Here’s the inevitable “but”:

The problem for some companies is that HTML 5 is immature and still years away from broad adoption, said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research. It also isn’t supported yet by the most widely used Web browsers, such as Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer.

Interesting use of the plural “browsers” there. Which are the other “widely used web browsers” that don’t support HTML5?

Playable Pac-Man Google Logo, Celebrating Pac-Man’s 30th Anniversay 

The sound uses Flash, but the animation and controls are done using JavaScript — it’s pretty slow on my iPhone 3GS, but not bad at all on my iPad.

Update: There’s an Easter egg to unlock Ms. Pac-Man, and Andrew Crow reports on Microsoft’s response at Bing.

Ben Edelman Explains How Facebook Leaks User-Identifying Data to Advertisers 

Usernames get passed along in the HTTP “Referer” header.

Android 2.2 Web Browser Running Rings Around the iPad’s MobileSafari 

Big laughs at Apple’s expense at Google I/O.

iPad Sold Out at Many Apple Stores 

And they still aren’t on sale outside the U.S.:

“74 percent of the stores we checked were completely sold out of all iPad models,” Munster said in a note to clients. “26 percent had some WiFi models in stock, and no stores had any 3G models available. We note that the stores have implemented a reservation system, by which customers can request to be placed on a waitlist for future iPad shipments, notified upon arrival, and given 24 hours to pick up the iPad. One Apple store representative indicated that the in-store reservation system typically takes 4-7 days.”

Where’s J Allard? 

Mary Jo Foley:

Over the past month or so, I’ve been asking around about Allard’s whereabouts. One of my sources who has been a pretty reliable tipster in the past told me that Allard is on sabbatical and is unlikely to return to Microsoft. His name is still in the Global Address Book inside Microsoft, I hear, and his bio page is still unaltered on the Microsoft Corporate Web site, where he still is listed as Chief Experience Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Entertainment and Devices Division.

If he leaves Microsoft, I’ll bet he winds up at Google.

Catching Up 

Mike Arrington:

With tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot features, Apple and others have some serious catching up to do.

Another sign of how bad AT&T makes the iPhone look: the iPhone OS has fully supported tethering since 3.0 shipped 11 months ago. Most carriers around the world have supported it from day one. But, because AT&T still doesn’t support it today, it’s seen as a feature where the iPhone needs to “catch up” to Android 2.2 (which hasn’t shipped yet).

The Dawes Formula 

Keen bit of advice from Brendan Dawes.

MPEG-LA Considering Patent Pool for VP8/WebM 

That didn’t take long.

Brandt Dainow: ‘Why iAds Will Fail’ 

Brandt Dainow:

The iAd has no future, and neither does the iPhone/iPad. I will show why iAds must inevitably die, and how Steve Job’s strategy for iPhone and iPad will inevitably lead Apple into becoming at best a marginal niche player, at worst an ex-business.

OK, sure. (Thanks to DF reader Noah Harlan.)

Facebook Is Having a Great Month 

The WSJ:

Facebook, MySpace and several other social-networking sites have been sending data to advertising companies that could be used to find consumers’ names and other personal details, despite promises they don’t share such information without consent.

iPads Outselling Macs 

No surprise. It’d be surprising if they weren’t.

Matt Drance: ‘Google Rewrites History’ 

Matt Drance is obviously mistaken. If Google says they created Android to prevent the iPhone from imposing a “draconian future”, it must be true even if the timeline doesn’t add up, because Google is open and their motto is “Don’t be evil” and Vic Gundotra learned his straight-shooting ways at well-known good guy Microsoft.

Engadget’s Coverage of the Google I/O Day Two Keynote 

Updated mobile OS, an updated mobile web browser they claim to be the industry’s fastest, new richer mobile ads, on board with Adobe’s definition of the “full web” including Flash, and an upcoming home entertainment TV platform. I don’t think there’s a single thing Google talked about today that isn’t directly competitive with Apple.

Ars Technica: ‘Hands on With the Kindle Reader for Android’ 

Ends up it doesn’t have a built-in store — kicks you out to a web page, just like on the iPhone.

Google TV 

Could be something when it actually ships.

Hot Stuff 

Ross Miller for Engadget on the Flash-enabled Android 2.2 browser:

Battery and heat are also of concern: the pre-release beta we have, according to Adobe, lacks hardware acceleration. Ergo, our beloved handset got piping hot after about 30 minutes of heavy video watching, and the battery indicator in the upper right had a sizable dent.

I’m sure an update that runs fast and cool is right around the corner.

Headline of the Day 

John Paczkowski on Vic Gundotra’s explanation for why Google made Android.

Which Is It: Jane Austen Title or Still From ‘Demolition Man’? 

Tricky quiz. (Via Matt Drance.)

iPad Weather Apps Roundup 

Jeff Merron reviews four iPad weather apps for Macworld.

Mobile OS Web-Browsing Share Among Tumblr Visitors 

Fascinating numbers from Tumblr — the OS-breakdown by percentage for visitors to all Tumblr-hosted weblogs. High numbers for the Mac, and Android does quite well among mobile devices.

Adobe’s Revenue by Division 

Creative tools remains their core asset.

On ‘Curated’ Computing 


Our museums are not football-field sized warehouses where art objects are indiscriminately dumped and our magazines and blogs are not amorphous containers of randomly selected articles. Our classrooms, restaurants, hospitals and indeed all our civilized institutions are firmly reliant on curation of one kind or another. The goal should be for curators to compete, not for curation to be declared illegal and unholy by the “open” zealots.

What Happens When You Upgrade an HTC Hero to Android 2.1? 


Text and Picture Messages
Text and picture messages will be deleted with this software update. You can back up text and picture messages by forwarding them to an email address.

  • Open the Messaging application
  • Tap and hold on the desired text or picture message
  • Tap Forward
  • Enter an email address then tap Send

Applications will be deleted with this software update. You will need to re-download the desired applications from the Market after this update completes.

Investor Dave McClure at I/O: ‘Open Is for Losers’ 

Anthony Ha, writing for VentureBeat:

Paul Graham of incubator Y Combinator took up the question again when asked about the viability of building a website that works on multiple phones through their mobile browsers versus native applications that are built for specific platforms like the iPhones. Graham said he hopes that mobile websites can win.

“I’m very afraid of a world in which we are all Steve Jobs’ slaves,” Graham said. “If anything can save us, it might be Chrome.” When Costolo asked whether he would invest in a company building for the iPhone versus Google’s Android platform, Graham answered, “Of course iPhone. I’m talking about what I hope will set us free, not what will generate opportunities.”

Walt Mossberg Reviews the Sprint Evo 4G 

Walt Mossberg:

My verdict: The HTC EVO 4G, when used on Sprint’s 4G network, offers the highest consistent downstream data speeds I have ever seen on a cellular network. It also has a number of other strong features: a front-facing camera for video chatting, and the ability to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot (for an extra fee of $30 a month) that can simultaneously connect up to eight laptops or other devices to the Internet.

However, the data speeds I got in my tests weren’t spectacular, or anywhere close to the typical maximum Sprint claims, even in Baltimore, where the company’s 4G network is mature. And, when using 4G, the EVO’s battery runs down alarmingly fast. In my tests, it didn’t last through a full day with 4G turned on. The carrier, in fact, is thinking of advising users to turn off the 4G network access when they don’t think they need it, to save battery life. This undercuts the whole idea of faster cellular speeds.

Life at a Foxconn Factory in China 

Liu Zhiyi reports after having worked undercover for 28 days at a Chinese Foxconn factory, where Apple (and other) devices are assembled:

When chatting with them, I often struggled to respond, as I felt I was ridiculously fortunate. They actually envied those who could take a leave due to work injury, while casually joking about how their station’s been toxicated. When talking about their colleagues’ suicidal jumps, there was often a surprisingly calm reaction, and sometimes even a banter would be made about it, as if they were all outsiders.

‘I Want Choice, but Only if I Agree With Your Choice’ 

Thomas Fitzgerald responds to Ted Landau:

I think Ted’s problem, like that of many analysts/bloggers/journalists/geeks etc on the issue is that they’re confusing fundamental flaws with not liking something. People like Ted don’t like the closed nature of the App store, but that doesn’t mean it’s fundamentally flawed, or a lack of choice.

It occurs to me that the App Store’s restrictions and control are to this coming mobile era what Windows’s inferior user interface was to the PC era: something that offends some critics to a degree such that they will insist for years, despite the success and popularity of the platform, that it’s a fatal flaw that will ultimately doom it.

Apple to Keep the ‘Pro’ in Final Cut Pro 

Jim Dalrymple:

According to an AppleInsider report, the Final Cut Studio team has been told to refocus its efforts “to more closely match the needs of the majority of its customers.” That would mean Apple would target customers moving to Final Cut Studio from the company’s more basic iMovie application, instead of continuing to offer more high-end features designed for video professionals.

But Apple said that’s not the case.

“Final Cut Pro is the first choice for professional video editors, and we’ve never been more excited about its future,” Apple spokesman Bill Evans told CNET. “The next version of Final Cut is going to be awesome, and our pro customers are going to love it.”

Google Storage for Developers 

Now in beta — or, in Google-speak, “labs” — a service from Google to compete with Amazon S3.

Google Font Directory 


The Google Font Directory lets you browse all the fonts available via the Google Font API. All fonts in the directory are available for use on your website under an open source license and served by Google servers.

The project is in collaboration with Typekit.

‘Undocumented’ Android APIs 

Transcript of slide 34 from the “Beginner’s Guide to Android” session at Google I/O today:


  • Don’t use undocumented APIs
  • Seriously. Don’t use undocumented APIs

That should be easy advice to follow, since Andy Rubin told us that Android doesn’t have any private APIs:

A lot of guys have private APIs. We don’t.

That’s Funny 

Mozilla evangelist Christopher Blizzard:

The VP8 codec represents a vast improvement in quality-per-bit over Theora and is comparable in quality to H.264.

As Arnold Kim quipped, it’s funny how companies like Mozilla are now open about how crappy Ogg Theora is now that Google has open-sourced VP8. E.g., here’s Christopher Blizzard just four months ago:

On the quality side what we’ve been able to do at Mozilla, with the help of the rest of the Xiph community, is to show that even though Theora is based on older, royalty-free technology, most people can’t really tell the difference between a video encoded with a decent Theora encoder and a video encoded with H.264.

Google’s Summary of Day One at I/O 

Tomorrow is Android day.

‘You Complainers! Are You Saying People Shouldn’t Be Warm?!’ 

So glad that BoingBoing has picked up Tom the Dancing Bug.

Technical Analysis of VP8 From an x264 Developer 

Jason Garrett-Glaser:

But first, a comment on the spec itself.


The spec consists largely of C code copy-pasted from the VP8 source code — up to and including TODOs, “optimizations”, and even C-specific hacks, such as workarounds for the undefined behavior of signed right shift on negative numbers. In many places it is simply outright opaque. Copy-pasted C code is not a spec. I may have complained about the H.264 spec being overly verbose, but at least it’s precise. The VP8 spec, by comparison, is imprecise, unclear, and overly short, leaving many portions of the format very vaguely explained. Some parts even explicitly refuse to fully explain a particular feature, pointing to highly-optimized, nigh-impossible-to-understand reference code for an explanation. There’s no way in hell anyone could write a decoder solely with this spec alone.

The WebM Project 

Google has open-sourced the VP8 video codec:

WebM includes:

  • VP8, a high-quality video codec we are releasing today under a BSD-style, royalty-free license
  • Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec
  • a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container

A bunch of companies are listed as supporting WebM, including Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe. There are two big ones that are missing though.

CBS Legal Department Sends Cease and Desist to 48 HR Magazine 

David Carr:

In an editor’s note, the collective said that they wanted to test out a theory of the case that new technologies can produce analog glory: “We all want proof that it doesn’t take a bunch of money and lawyers to make something great. And you know what? It doesn’t.”

Well, yes and no. On May 11, Lauren Marcello, the assistant general counsel at CBS sent a cease and desist letter, noting that “CBS is the owner of the rights in the award-winning news magazine television series, ‘48 Hours,’ and its companion series, including ‘48 Hours Mystery,’” adding later in the letter, “your use is unlawful and constitutes trademark infringement, dilution and unfair competition …” along with a lot of other complicated, vaguely threatening legalese.

Everyone should buy a copy of issue zero to make up their own minds.

Androinica: ‘Google Blames Android Battery Woes on User Practices and Poorly-Designed Background Apps’ 

Andrew Kameka:

When asked about Android’s weak battery life at the Google Zeitgeist forum, Google co-founder Larry Page said that if anyone is not getting a full day’s worth of battery, there’s “something wrong.” Page then went on to suggest it’s probably user habits and third-party apps causing battery woes. “When there is software running in the background, that just sort of exhausts the battery quickly,” said Page.

Update: Fireballed. (Guess which CMS it’s running?) Here it is in Google’s cache.

Kellan Elliott-McCrea on Data Lock-In 

Kellan Elliott-McCrea:

With Flickr you can get out, via the API, every single piece of information you put into the system.

Every photo, in every size, plus the completely untouched original. (which we store for you indefinitely, whether or not you pay us) Every tag, every comment, every note, every people tag, every fave. Also your stats, view counts, and referers.

Not the most recent N, not a subset of the data. All of it.

How many other web sites can say that?

The Swimmer 

Short story by John Cheever; pairs perfectly with yesterday’s Cannonball short film.

(Thanks to DF reader Gordon Anderson.)

Google on Microsoft’s Pitch Regarding Office 

Kevin McLaughlin, reporting for CRN:

“It says a lot about Microsoft’s approach to customer lock-in that the company touts its proprietary document formats, which only Microsoft software can render with true fidelity, as the reason to avoid using other products,” a Google spokesperson said in an e-mail.

jQuery for Designers 

Great site by Remy Sharp. (Via Cameron Moll.)

Google Buys VOIP Engine Behind Yahoo, AOL, WebEx, Lotus Conferencing 

Larry Dignan, ZDNet:

Google on Tuesday said it will acquire Global IP Solutions Holding, which makes processing software for voice and video over IP, for $68.2 million. The deal means that Google will own the voice and video conferencing engine behind its competitors’ instant messaging systems.

Update: Good follow-up point from Karl Adam on Twitter:

Google’s purchases of GIPS drives home why Apple is so adamant about controlling its technology stack, so that competitors can’t just buy it.

Soulver 2.0 

Nice update to a great Mac app — sort of a cross between a calculator and a spreadsheet. Very convenient.

Update: It’d be even more convenient if they took this suggestion from Mike McCracken.

Who’s Trying to Control the Web? 

Aaron Swartz:

If Adobe gets to define the Web as including Flash, then they get to control the Web — you can only claim you support the Web (as Apple’s TV ads got in trouble for claiming in the UK) if you follow Adobe’s rules. It’s not surprising Adobe’s cofounders don’t want to give that up.

Microsoft Announces New Version of ‘Windows Live Hotmail’ 

Dick Craddock:

Today, we’re excited to give you a preview of the new Windows Live Hotmail, representing the next generation in personal email.

Why “Windows Live Hotmail”? Why not just “Hotmail”? Cf. my earlier piece today about whether Microsoft’s executives are confused about whether they’re in the software business or the Windows business.

‘Leading Is the Next Best Thing After Owning’ 

Matt Drance, in the first post to his new weblog:

A much more interesting question is: why does Apple continue to promote HTML5? Doesn’t an open standard with a glacial committee process produce the same problems? Won’t web apps take Apple’s control away?

Should Adobe Ship a Jailbreak iPhone Version of Flash Player? 

The idea being that Adobe could prove Apple wrong by shipping a version of Flash Player for jailbroken iPhones that exhibits none of the problems delineated by Steve Jobs. An interesting “what if?” scenario, but I don’t think it’s technically realistic.

‘The iPad, the Kindle, and the Future of Books’ 

Terrific piece by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker from a few weeks ago on the state of the book publishing industry. Auletta covers the shift to e-books mostly from the publishers’ perspective, which is illuminating:

Tim O’Reilly, the founder and C.E.O. of O’Reilly Media, which publishes about two hundred e-books per year, thinks that the old publishers’ model is fundamentally flawed. “They think their customer is the bookstore,” he says. “Publishers never built the infrastructure to respond to customers.” Without bookstores, it would take years for publishers to learn how to sell books directly to consumers. They do no market research, have little data on their customers, and have no experience in direct retailing. With the possible exception of Harlequin Romance and Penguin paperbacks, readers have no particular association with any given publisher; in books, the author is the brand name.

That the publishers view bookstores — rather than readers — as their customers explains much of what ails the industry. And that Tim O’Reilly has always seen the reader as his customer explains why O’Reilly Media, which was once as print-centric as any other book publisher, is doing better than most publishers.

Another choice observation, from Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti:

In Grandinetti’s view, book publishers — like executives in other media — are making the same mistake the railroad companies made more than a century ago: thinking they were in the train business rather than the transportation business.

(Think about that observation as applied to Microsoft’s executive leadership: Do they think they’re in the software business, or the Windows business?)

RunRev’s Plans for HyperCard-Like IDE for iPhone Development Squashed by Section 3.3.1 

The absence of such a high-level IDE is an opportunity for competing platforms. And, given the lack of windowing, the iPhone OS seems like a far better platform for something HyperCard-esque than the Mac ever was.

Speed-Bump Update to MacBooks 

Still starting at $999. The biggest improvement is battery life: up from 7 to 10 hours.

Adobe’s Mobile Showcase 

Which of the sites from Adobe’s mobile showcase — the sites they’re promoting to Nexus One users with the imminent Flash Player 10.1 for Android installed — have HTML5 alternative content or iPhone/iPad apps in the App Store?

Kindle for Android 

Unlike the iPhone Kindle app, it has a built-in store rather than kicking you out to the web browser to buy books. (Which limitation of the iPhone version, I believe, is a byproduct of Apple’s App Store rules.) Update: Kindle for Android isn’t available yet; it’s “coming soon”.

Facebook’s New Privacy Control Center 

Simpler than the old interface.

Alley Insider’s Chart of the Day: How Much Tech Companies Are Spending on Lobbying 

Apple spends the least of the compared companies, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of total revenue. This suggests, perhaps, that Apple is not anticipating near-term government regulatory hassles.

The Shining’s Elevator of Blood Recreated With RealFlow and Lightwave 

I dare say it may be better than the original. Holy shit. (Via Jim Coudal, of course.)

The Macalope on Adobe’s Apple Campaign 

Adobe co-founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke:

In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web?

The Macalope:

This is not the question at all. Is the iPhone OS the Web? No. That’s ridiculous.


Beautiful, thoughtful short film by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari, on California’s glut of empty pools behind foreclosed homes. (Via Good, by way of Coudal.)

Josh Cooley: Inappropriate Golden Books, The Book 


Ads Are Content 

Nicole Jones:

The ads you allow on your site are part of your brand.

Details of Palm’s SEC Filing Describing Their Acquisition Bidding War 

It’d be interesting to know who the other interested companies were.

Mark Bowden on the Windows Conficker Worm 

Fascinating story of a mysterious and ingenious strain of malware.

BBC News: ‘Google Admits Wi-Fi Data Collection Blunder’ 

Sounds like an honest mistake, but it looks bad.

Epic Flyers Game Seven Comeback to Complete Epic Series Comeback 

Can’t say I’m a big hockey fan, but my hometown Flyers were down three games to none against the Boston Bruins, then fell behind 3-0 in game seven — and came back to win. The only downside to this wonderful sports story is, uh, wait, sorry there isn’t any downside.

Night Stand 

My thanks to Spoonjuice for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Night Stand, their excellent clock apps for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch.

The latest version for iPhone includes new features like multiple alarms, per-alarm volume settings, and math puzzles to solve for inveterate snoozers. (I could have used that last feature when I was in college.) The iPad version is designed from the ground-up for the iPad’s large display — a new UI and high-resolution themes. It’s a big hit, and deservedly so.

Both apps are currently just $0.99 each on the App Store.

Google Abandons Direct Sales of Nexus One 

It’s not entirely clear from this post by Andy Rubin, but I think what this means is that Google is giving up on direct sales, and that the Nexus One will soon no longer be available in an unlocked carrier-free form.

Gizmodo Summer Internships 

A great opportunity to stain your career right off the bat.

How Secure Is Flash? 

Ed Bott:

Yesterday, I rattled off some disturbing statistics about vulnerabilities in Flash Player and asked Adobe, “So, how are you planning to convince us that you’ve gotten serious about security?” No one from Adobe has gotten back to me on that one.

Litl ‘Webbook’ Drops in Price from $699 to $399 

I sincerely wish them luck, but I think they’re a year too late to have a chance.

Brian Lam’s Email to Steve Jobs Regarding Gizmodo’s Stolen iPhone Prototype 

OCR’d from today’s unsealed affidavit (PDF) by Jason Snell. I love how Lam is trying to get better access from Apple in the future while simultaneously extorting written admission that the unit was indeed Apple’s.

Also, Lam misreported the contents of his own email to Apple chief counsel Bruce Sewell. As published on Gizmodo, Lam’s email to Sewell read:

Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn’t know this was stolen when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it’s not some knockoff, and it really is Apple’s, I’m happy to see it returned to its rightful owner.

P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don’t think he loves anything more than Apple except, well, beer.

Lam later edited the published version to omit the quip about beer. But according to the affidavit, the postscript, as sent to Sewell, in fact read:

P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don’t think he loves anything more than Apple except, well, beer. Maybe some spankings.

What a dick.

Apple Sort of Kind of Maybe Responds to Adobe 

MG Siegler:

Now, it may be a complete coincidence, but the timing is interesting, to say the least. This morning, Apple starting emailing its customers to let them know that “Adobe CS5 is here.”

Roommate Informed Apple and Police Regarding iPhone Thief 

Kim Zetter:

Police closed in on the man who found and sold a prototype 4G iPhone after his roommate called an Apple security official and turned him in, according to a newly unsealed document in the ongoing police investigation.

The tip sent police racing to the home of 21-year-old Brian Hogan, and began a strange scavenger hunt for evidence that a friend of Hogan’s had scattered around the Silicon Valley community of Redwood City. Police recovered a desktop computer stashed inside an area church, a thumb drive hidden in a bush alongside the road, and the iPhone’s serial number stickers from the parking lot of a gas station.

Good luck with the argument that they didn’t know the phone was stolen. It’s funny that his roommate knew how to contact Apple Security. Perhaps Hogan should have asked her for help with the telephone while ostensibly trying to return the phone. Like I’ve said, these guys are like characters out of a Coen brothers movie.

Asked the value of the phone, Apple told the police “it was invaluable.”

Ought to make for an interesting civil case against Gawker Media.


GNU’s free and open source SWF player:

Gnash supports many SWF v8 features and ActionScript 2 classes. with growing support for SWF v10 and ActionScript 3.

The current version is 10, and has been out for two years. So is there an alternative to Flash Player? Sure. Is there an alternative that’s in any way useful, good, or relevant to modern Flash content? No.

Judge Orders iPhone Investigation Documents Unsealed 


Search warrant documents in an investigation of the possible theft of an Apple Inc. iPhone prototype will be made public, a California judge ruled.

Judge Clifford V. Cretan in Redwood City today ruled against the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office, which argued that unsealing the documents will reveal identities of potential witnesses and compromise the investigation. Media organizations argued they should have access to the documents based on constitutionally protected free-speech rights.

Glenn Beck Has Nazi Tourette’s 

Fantastic Daily Show piece from Lewis Black.

Mark Pilgrim’s All-in-One Almost-Alphabetical No-Bullshit Guide to Detecting Everything 

Appendix A of his amazing Dive Into HTML5.

Proposed Apple Response to Adobe 

This whole thing is a comedy gold mine.

Joe Posnanski on the iPad 

Joe Posnanski:

I’m not saying you want an iPad or need one (or any of the upcoming tablets) — I don’t get commission. I’m just saying, what’s the big deal? It’s a computer and television and radio and newspaper and book and magazine and game console and Internet the size of a piece of paper and the width of a Mitch Albom book. It’s freaking amazing, that’s the big deal.

(Thanks to DF reader Jeff Feng.)

The ‘®’ Stands for ‘Open’ 

Good snark from Adam Wilcox:

Dear Adobe, when the name of your “open” product contains two uses of ® then it isn’t open.

Open Source and Free Development Tools for Flash 

Contra Jim Whimpey’s aforelinked refutation of Adobe’s “Choice” campaign, it is not the case that developers can only create Flash software using Adobe’s Flash Professional IDE. This page lists the free and open source ones. There also exist non-free third-party developer tools for Flash.

I still say Whimpey’s conclusion stands — it’s not the tools that make Flash a closed platform, it’s that the runtime, Flash Player, is completely controlled and defined by Adobe. Adobe’s argument is that Flash is an open part of the web but that there just happens to exist only one implementation, their own closed-source Flash Player.

HTML5 Video in iBooks 

Just use the <video> tag.

Update: In a comment, Joe Clark points out that though it works in iBooks, using it is non-compliant with the ePub spec.

BBC News Is Apparently Living in Adobe’s Future 

Jonathan Fildes, reporting for BBC News:

But Flash is commonly used to build smartphone apps. As a result, developers commonly used automatic translation tools — some built by Adobe — to convert Flash code to run on Apple gadgets.

These allowed developers to make applications once and then distribute them for use on various phones and operating systems, including Apple’s iPhone.

Which apps are these?



Sony Corp. is considering developing a tablet-style computer that would compete with Apple Inc.’s iPad, though it wants more evidence consumers will buy them, a company executive said.

A little late for “considering”.

Jim Whimpey on Adobe, Apple, and Openness 

Succinct refutation of Adobe’s new “Choice” campaign.

This Is How Apple Rolls 

I wrote the back-page column for the April issue of Macworld. A sort of overview of how Apple does what it does. I really like how this one turned out.

Survey of Retail Industry Experts Names Apple Top Store 

Full survey results (PDF) available here.

Mick Jagger Goes Back to Exile 

Mick Jagger, in an interview with the BBC, regarding the state of recorded music and Internet downloads:

But I have a take on that — people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn’t make any money out of records because record companies wouldn’t pay you! They didn’t pay anyone!

Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.

So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn’t.

A keener business mind in the music industry you will not find.

Notes on HTML5 Parser History 

Anne Van Kesteren:

We reached a new milestone with HTML5 this week. Henri Sivonen flipped a switch and now Firefox nightly builds ship with an HTML5 parser by default. It might not seem as a milestone to everyone however. As Henri puts it: “A key feature of the HTML5 parser is that you don’t notice that anything has changed.

CBC Hockey for iPhone 

Live streaming of NHL hockey playoffs. The app is free; live streaming of games is an in-app purchase. No iPad-native version yet, nor any version at all for Android.

Update: Sadly, there’s a major catch regarding the live streaming: it only works in Canada.

Two Weeks of Travel, Ten iPad Lessons 

Michael Gartenberg:

A while back, I tried traveling on business with nothing but the help of three smart phones. I quickly ran into the headroom of those devices and, by the time I was home, I had a huge list of tasks I needed to deal with that could only be done on a computer. I wondered how I would have fared had I carried an iPad with me instead. So over the last two weeks, I’ve done just that, carried an iPad on my travels and left the laptop at home.

Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G 

Re: my question on which phone will be first with video chat, Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G goes on sale June 4. Looks like one hell of an Android phone. (Sprint’s product page is all-Flash.)

New Beta Version of MobileMe Mail From Apple 

Interesting — the layout is much more like the iPad’s Mail than Mac OS X’s. (That’s a good thing.) They’ve added server-side rules and a simple Gmail-esque archiving feature.

Pages 1.1 for iPad 

David Chartier on what’s new.

The Infancy of Mobile Video 

Tim Bray:

There are two obvious things that everyone wants but just aren’t there yet on the devices we carry around. First of all, video chat. My Nexus One is just the right form factor to bring friends and family up on, for some on-the-road face time. It is after all a communication device, right?

Great idea. I wonder who will be first to bring it to market.

The second thing that’s not there yet is the world’s single most popular application of video technology: TV. What is the damn point of having a video screen that’s connected to the world if I can’t use it to watch a hockey game or CNN reportage, live?!

The closest I’ve seen, or at least that interests me, is, which I love dearly. It really falls down on 3G, though. I think we’re going to have to wait for 4G networking to unshackle live decent-resolution mobile video from Wi-Fi. Update: Slingbox is probably the best answer today for live TV on mobile devices.

Adobe: ‘The Truth About Flash’ 

Part of Adobe’s new “Freedom of Choice” campaign to promote Flash, this is (I assume) Adobe’s attempt at a point-by-point refutation of Steve Jobs’s “Thoughts on Flash”. The only point they really address here, though, is the idea that Flash doesn’t conceptually fit with touch-based interfaces. The rest is all vapid hand-waving.

Adobe Launches ‘We ♥ Apple’ Ad Campaign 

Big ad buy from Adobe; I see these new spots on Ars Technica, Engadget, and The New York Times.

Update: They’ve also purchased full-page ads in the print editions of major newspapers. Here’s the ad (PDF). I think it comes across as passive aggressive.

How to Get Your Brand Onto a Formula One Race Car When You’re Legally Banned From Putting Your Brand on a Formula One Race Car 

Brilliant solution.

An Apple IIe, an iPad, and Jed 

Best iPad stand ever.

Look at What You Get for $499 in an Android Tablet 

A piece of crap. Three pounds, slow, poor battery life, 4 GB of built-in storage, doesn’t work with YouTube, and no support for Android Marketplace apps. All for the same price as a 16 GB iPad.

Or, you could pay just $199 and get the 7-inch Archos 7 Android tablet. It too is slow (“most apps take four to five seconds to open”), it too does not support apps from the Android Marketplace, it doesn’t have an accelerometer, it uses a resistive (rather than capacitive) touchscreen, and it runs the year-old Android 1.5 OS and there’s no way to upgrade it.

Larry Ellison on Sun’s Previous Management 

Jim Finkle, reporting for Reuters:

Ellison says he learned that Sun’s pony-tailed chief executive, Jonathan Schwartz, ignored problems as they escalated, made poor strategic decisions and spent too much time working on his blog, which Sun translated into 11 languages.

“The underlying engineering teams are so good, but the direction they got was so astonishingly bad that even they couldn’t succeed,” said Ellison. “Really great blogs do not take the place of great microprocessors. Great blogs do not replace great software. Lots and lots of blogs does not replace lots and lots of sales.”

TechCrunch Reports That Google Is Adding Tethering to Android 2.2 

And in addition to tethering over USB, it’ll let you create small Wi-Fi networks, like a Mi-Fi does. Great features, but, as iPhone users in the U.S. know, “supported by the OS” and “supported by the carrier” are two different things. AT&T doesn’t allow it, and Verizon uses CDMA, so even if they do allow it, you won’t be able to make or receive voice calls while you’re using tethering. (Imagine the pitchforks if AT&T allowed Android phones to tether but still refused to allow it for iPhones.)

‘You Already Know How to Use It’ 

Excellent new iPad TV ad from Apple.

Two side notes: (1) they never show an iPad 3G, only the more aesthetically pleasing Wi-Fi-only model; and (2) it’s a nice homage to this classic Newton ad.

(Via Arnold Kim.)

HTML5 Browser Readiness Infographic 

Created, of course, using HTML5.

Facebook’s Bewildering Tangle of Privacy Options 

Comprehensive look at Facebook’s privacy options from The New York Times.

Facebook’s 2010 privacy policy is longer than that of other social networks, even exceeding the United States Constitution, without amendments.


To manage your privacy on Facebook, you will need to navigate through 50 settings with more than 170 options.

Or you can manage it my way, by never having signed up for it.

Rob Pegoraro on How Not to Talk About the Verizon-Android-Tablet Story 

Two good requests.

Wolf Rentzsch Cancels C4 

Wolf Rentzsch:

With that background in place, I hope you can understand how Section 3.3.1 has broken my spirit.

Welcome to Steam 

Steam for Mac is now available. Some game called “Portal” is available for free for the next two weeks.

‘A Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures’ 


In 1985, after a year of finding that pretty but unlabeled icons confused customers, the Apple human interface group took on the motto “A word is worth a thousand pictures.”

(Thanks to DF reader Rob Cope.)

HTC Countersues Apple for Patent Infringement 


HTC Corporation today took legal action against Apple Inc., filing a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) to halt the importation and sale of the iPhone, iPad and iPod in the United States.

Office for Mac’s Floppy Icons 

Rick Schaut on floppy-for-save icons:

Second, text in an icon violates one of the cardinal rules of localization. Once you put text in an icon, you then have to have a version of the icon for every language you want to support.

Localization is hard, but it often makes for a better design to use text rather than (or in addition to) icons. I think it’s a tremendous strength of the iPhone OS that so many of the buttons use simple text labels.

John closes his remarks by saying, “I can’t think of a single floppy-disk-for-save button anywhere in Mac OS X or iPhone OS...” Well, I can think of three: Word, PPT and Excel use a floppy disk as the icon. It’s the icon we’ve been using for “Save” since back when having a floppy disk for that icon actually had meaning.

I was referring to the system software and bundled apps from Apple itself. I’m sure there are many third-party Mac apps that use floppy-for-save icons. I still say it’s an anachronism, even for Office, but at least with Office there’s a good argument to be made about long-standing user expectations. But: there’s not a floppy icon to be found anywhere in Apple’s iWork suite, and I’ve never once heard of a user who was unable to save their iWork documents.

But the anachronism is particularly egregious in something like Windows Phone 7 — a brand-new software platform, with a new UI style, which runs only on hardware where a floppy drive wouldn’t even fit.

New Seattle’s Best Branding 

Radical redesign. I like it. (Their coffee, though, I dislike.)

The Tax Foundation: ‘A Closer Look at Popular USA Today Article Claiming Historically Low Taxes’ 

Gerald Prante:

Despite these problems of data definition, the headline’s claim about 2009 being a year of historically low taxes isn’t far off. Tax Freedom Day, which is calculated by taking total taxes divided by a broad income measure, NNP (which is somewhat close to personal income), had a rate of about 26.6 percent in 2009, which was the lowest since 1959.

Next Generation iPhone Turns Up in Vietnam 

The screen turns on, but it’s running some sort of test firmware, not the actual OS. It doesn’t seem to reveal anything new since the Gizmodo unit, other than the elimination of the two visible screws at the bottom. Oh, and a teardown reveals an A4 processor — but you knew that already.

Keyboard Maestro 4.3 

Some nice new scripting features in this update to one of my favorite secret weapons.

‘Flying With the Dragon Lady’ 

Cholene Espinoza, former U-2 pilot:

The trade-off of a plane built light enough to fly above 70,000 feet is that it is almost impossible to control. And 13 miles above the ground, the atmosphere is so thin that the “envelope” between stalling and “overspeed” — going so fast you lose control of the plane, resulting in an unrecoverable nose dive — is razor-thin, making minor disruptions, even turbulence, as deadly as a missile.

(Via Rich Siegel, who also pointed to this gorgeous photo of a U-2 in flight.)

Webkit CSS Properties 

Comprehensive list of WebKit-specific CSS properties. (Via WebKitBits.)

U.S. Tax Bills in 2009 at Lowest Level Since 1950 

USA Today:

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,” says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.

Verizon Wireless CEO Tells WSJ They’re Working on an Android Tablet With Google 

Niraj Sheth, reporting for the WSJ:

Verizon Wireless is working with Google Inc. on a tablet computer, Verizon Wireless Chief Executive Lowell McAdam said Tuesday, as the company works to catch up with iPad host AT&T Inc. in the area of devices that connect to wireless networks.

Tablets are part of the “next big wave of opportunities,” Mr. McAdam said in an interview. He said the work on a tablet is part of a deepening relationship between the largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers and Google, which has carved out a space in mobile devices with its Android operating system.

“We’re looking at all the things Google has in its archives that we could put on a tablet to make it a great experience,” he said.

Makes sense that Google is working on an Android-based iPad-alike, and that Verizon would want to carry such a device, but what are Google’s “archives”?

Green Day Performs ‘Rip This Joint’ 

Kicking off “Rolling Stones Week” on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, promoting the re-release of the greatest album ever made.

Adam Lisagor, Pitchman Extraordinaire 

Speaking of Square, my friend Adam “Little Masterpiece” Lisagor has shot, directed, edited, scored, and stars in another promotional video for them. I think Buzz Andersen nailed it: Adam is to Square as Karl Malden was to American Express.

Pastebot 1.2 

Paul Haddad:

Ever since the iPad came out our number one support question has been, “Can I sync more than one device with my Mac at the same time?” The answer as of Pastebot v1.2 is, “Yes you can.”

Man, do I love Pastebot.

David Cameron Is Britain’s Prime Minister 

Nice to see some other major western democracy have an unusual election for once. Congratulations to the Tories.

Take Two 

Ryan Stewart, he of last week’s doomed Android Flash Player demo, has a video demo showing various Flash examples working on a Nexus One.

I have a related question for Google: will Flash Player be included with the default Android 2.2 OS, or will it be something users install from Android Market?

Phillies-Blue Jays Series Relocated to Philly 

Very odd:

The Phillies will be the road team at their own ballpark from June 25-27.

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday it has relocated the interleague series between the Phillies and Blue Jays originally scheduled to be played at Rogers Centre to Citizens Bank Park following security concerns with the G20 Summit in Toronto the same weekend. The Blue Jays will be the home team in all three games and bat last. The designated hitter will also be in use.

‘Near-Final’ Screenshots of Windows Phone 7 

The overall aesthetic is black and sharply rectangular. Most text is either all-caps or all-lowercase — often right next to each other, which to me is jarring. To Microsoft’s credit, it’s a distinctive and original look.

Update: Several readers emailed to point out a recurring DF issue evident in these screenshots: the use of a floppy disk icon on “save” buttons. Every time I mention this issue, I get email from other readers asking what, if not a floppy disk, I’d suggest using to mean “save”. How about just spelling it out: S-a-v-e? I can’t think of a single floppy-disk-for-save button anywhere in Mac OS X or iPhone OS, and yet somehow we manage just fine.

Square for iPhone 

Simple, lovely iPhone app. Its design pairs perfectly with that of the Square website.

Reading Comprehension 

So yesterday over at Engadget, Nilay Patel reported on court filings from Apple regarding a class-action lawsuit in California, in which filings Apple acknowledges that its original 2007 deal gave AT&T iPhone exclusivity for five years. But Patel, who is smart, also wrote:

Now, this all went down in October of 2008, and while it’s sort of amazing we hadn’t seen it earlier, the real question is whether or not the exclusivity deal is still on the books. (The case is ongoing, but most of the relevant bits have been under seal since 2009.) Contracts can be canceled, amended, and breached in many ways, and AT&T’s spotty recent service history plus the explosion of the iPhone and the mobile market in general have given Apple any number of reasons to revisit the deal.

The original deal was for five years, but we don’t know whether that deal is still in place. Easy, right?

But now today’s news is full of reports like this one: “Apple Confirms AT&T’s iPhone Exclusivity Until 2012”:

For Verizon users who had their hopes up to get the new iPhone on their network this summer, we’re sorry. Apple has confirmed AT&T has exclusive rights to the iPhone until 2012.

AT&T signed a five-year deal in 2007 with Apple to keep the popular phone on only their network for the duration of the contract. If the iPhone were to go to Verizon at any point before 2012, the contract would have to be broken, an act that Apple has confirmed will not happen as of now.

Apple has confirmed no such things. This just isn’t true.

Harry McCracken on Android and iPhone Pricing 

Harry McCracken:

As of this moment, AT&T wants $99.99 for a Backflip on contract–which is ninety-nice cents more than the cost of a plain-jane iPhone 3G. But if the Backflip appeals to you, here’s a slightly better deal: Amazon has it for a penny. That’s 1/9900th the cost of the iPhone 3G. (Amazon, in case you didn’t know, doesn’t have penny iPhones–and neither does anyone else.)

As McCracken pointed out yesterday, it’s interesting that Android phones have surpassed the iPhone in U.S. unit sales, but it’s not surprising. Apple isn’t (yet?) in the bargain-price high-volume phone market.

Why Roger Ebert Hates 3D Movies (And You Should Too) 

I’ve seen a few 3D movies in theaters recently, and the only one I enjoyed was Avatar, which was also the only one that was shot using an expensive two-camera rig.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: ‘I Should Have Known It’ 

Best new Petty song in a couple of albums.

Sprint Bails on the Google Nexus One 

Weird, given that this press release came out just seven weeks ago.

Great Web Site, Pixar 

The official Toy Story 3 website, as seen on the iPad.

Update: Ends up there was a mobile-optimized site, but Disney wasn’t redirecting to it properly until sometime this afternoon.


Speaking of multitouch, Anders Tornblad left a comment on the aforelinked weblog post from Matt Gemmell pointing to Spark, his multitouch demo for MobileSafari. Cool on the iPhone, super-cool on the iPad.

Putting the ‘Multi’ in Multitouch 

Matt Gemmell:

A friend of mine recently asked how many simultaneous touch events the iPad supported; I wasn’t sure, so I promised to write some code to conduct an experiment and find the answer.

Update: As a point of comparison, Palm’s WebOS devices support only five simultaneous touches, as does the iPhone.

NPD Group Says Android Phones Outselling iPhone in U.S. 

I think it’s all about Verizon — Android’s U.S. market share increase coincides exactly with the Motorola Droid’s debut. (And don’t forget that Verizon has a buy-one-get-one-free deal for all smartphones.)

Scott Horton on Legislative Changes to Miranda 

Scott Horton:

Other ways of approaching the same issues are suggested by the British model. Following years of police station abuse during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland — abuse that led to coerced confessions in dozens of cases, many of which were later overturned following embarrassing disclosures — Britain’s Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher introduced a series of changes in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984, which govern stopping, searching, and questioning suspects. These included the key requirement that an audio recording be made of all interrogation sessions. With the proliferation of high-quality recording technology, this capability is now nearly ubiquitous, and it would go a great length towards establishing a definitive record of interrogation sessions that would eliminate most questions about what was said and whether a witness was improperly coerced.

Lulu Now Offers Publishing to iBookstore 

Self-publishing to Apple’s iBookstore via Lulu:

All eBooks planned for iBookstore distribution must have retail pricing that complies with Apple’s guidelines. We will automatically price Lulu eBooks submitted to the iBookstore to meet these guidelines. The creator revenue that you receive per sale will be 80 percent of the profit after deducting Apple’s share. On a $9.99 book, for example, you will receive $5.60.

More information here.

NYT: ‘Attorney General Eric Holder Backs Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects’ 

Disregard for the Bill of Rights is not limited to Republicans:

Mr. Holder proposed carving out a broad new exception to the Miranda rights established in a landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling. It generally forbids prosecutors from using as evidence statements made before suspects have been warned that they have a right to remain silent and to consult a lawyer.

Keep in mind that this is about the rights afforded to U.S. citizens.

Al Gore: ‘The Crisis Comes Ashore’ 

Al Gore on the gulf oil spill and the state of U.S. energy independence:

Starting 40 years ago, when America’s domestic oil production peaked, our dependence on foreign oil has steadily grown. We are now draining our economy of several hundred billion dollars a year in order to purchase foreign oil in a global market dominated by the huge reserves owned by sovereign states in the Persian Gulf. This enormous and increasing transfer of wealth contributes heavily to our trade and current-account deficits, and enriches regimes in the most unstable region of the world, helping to finance both terrorism and Iran’s relentless effort to build a nuclear arsenal.

The Omni Group Sells 5,000 Copies of OmniGraffle for iPad 

At $50 a pop, you can see why it has a spot in the App Store’s top-grossing list. Well-deserved, too — it’s a very clever app.

Jean Louis Gassée on HP and the Incumbent’s Curse 

Or, as Bob Dylan put it, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Jeff Croft on Adobe’s Android Flash Demo at FlashCamp Seattle 

Jeff Croft:

Then, he pulled up the same thing on his Nexus One. The site’s progress bar filled in and the 3D world appeared for a few seconds before the browser crashed. Ryan said (paraphrasing), “Whoops! Well, it’s beta, and this is an intense example — let’s try it again.” He tried it again and got the same result. So he said to the audience, “Well, this one isn’t going to work, but does anyone have a Flash site they’d like to see running?” Someone shouted out “Hulu.” Ryan said, “Hulu doesn’t work,” and then wrapped up his demo, telling people if they wanted to try more sites they could find him later and he’d let them play with his Nexus One.

Adobe, you are in a hole. It is already very deep. Time to stop digging.

Michael Whalen Compares the HTC Incredible vs. the Nexus One 

I wasn’t aware just how different HTC’s proprietary Sense UI is from Google’s standard Android UI.

Nokia Sues Apple Again 

This time claiming the iPad 3G infringes upon its patents. (Apple surely saw this coming; Nokia pretty much claims that any 3G device requires a patent license from Nokia.)

How Much Tech Companies Spend on Advertising 

Another interesting chart from Silicon Alley Insider.

William Shatner Says He Never Made $600M From Priceline 


Someone stupid said a stupid thing about me making $600M. It ain’t so. Relatives are coming out of the woodwork. Too bad it never happened.

So much for this then.

Judge Denies Media Request for iPhone Prototype Warrant 

Declan McCullagh:

The reason for the sealing is that the documents contain the names of two individuals of interest, whom police do not want to alert, an attorney for the media coalition said after talking to Stephen Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney.

Direct Mail 

My thanks to E3 Software for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Direct Mail, their mailing list management and email tracking software for Mac OS X. Direct Mail offers the convenience of a hosted solution, but also the privacy and flexibility of a desktop Mac app. Check out their feature comparison charts to see how Direct Mail stacks up against web-based and other Mac products.

Direct Mail has a great Mac interface, seamlessly integrates with other Mac OS X apps (like Daylite), and is free to try for as long as you like. As usual, the screencast video is the best way to get a quick feel for how Direct Mail works and what it can do.

The Inquirer Says Apple Might Regret the iPad 

Nick Farrell:

The iPad has doomed Apple, according to market analysts that are expecting the tablet to spell trouble for its maker. [...] Rather than killing off the netbook, the iPad is harming sales of the iPod and MacBooks.

Uh-huh. Sure. Doomed.

Scribd in HTML5 

Using their new HTML5 document presentation technology to explain their new HTML5 document presentation technology.

Nintendo Prepares for War Against Apple 

Leo Lewis, reporting for The Times of London:

Nintendo is preparing to unleash the full force of its development and marketing artillery against Apple after profits tumbled at the Japanese giant for the first time in six years. [...]

Satoru Iwata, the Nintendo president, is understood to have told his senior executives recently to regard the battle with Sony as a victory already won and to treat Apple, and its iPhone and iPad devices, as the “enemy of the future” .

Marco Arment on App Store Keyword Scammers 

This is the sort of dishonest trickery the review process ought to prevent. I wonder whether the developers of Angry Birds filed a trademark complaint to the App Store?

(Also, for what it’s worth, my six-year-old son tells me Angry Birds is an excellent game.)

Tim Bray on Android and Private APIs 

Nice explanation from Tim Bray on Android programming APIs:

The Google-provided SMS app has its own database that it uses to stash away the SMS history, and it sets up its own Content Provider for its own internal use. It turns out that if you read the source code, you can figure out how to reach in and access that Content Provider. Which is probably a bad idea, because it’s part of an application that might not even be there.

I personally think the benefits of an Open Source platform exceed this sort of cost — when someone uses the source to figure out how to do something that really isn’t very smart.

There are several significant differences between Android and iPhone OS application APIs, but the biggest difference is one of policy. Every complex platform has APIs that third-party developers shouldn’t use. Android is like Mac OS X (or Windows, or other non-console-style systems) where developers can choose to use these private APIs, against the vendor’s advice, and take their chances. With the iPhone OS, Apple enforces a ban on their use via the App Store review process. That’s the difference.

Mark Cuban: ‘Tax the Hell Out of Wall Street and Give It to Main Street’ 

Regarding yesterday’s stock market panic, Mark Cuban suggests a 25-cent-per-share trading tax, which would mostly affect traders (who buy and sell constantly), rather than investors (who buy and hold stocks for the long run).

iPad Available in Nine More Countries on May 28 

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that iPad will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK on Friday, May 28. Customers can pre-order all iPad models from Apple’s online store in all nine countries beginning on Monday, May 10.

My condolences to those of you in countries not yet listed.


Do you like numerals? You’ll like this. (Via Coudal.)

WWDC 2010 Is Sold Out 

No more IT track, few scheduled Mac sessions, and it was only announced six weeks ahead of time. And it sold out in record time.

Last year’s took a month to sell out. This year’s took eight days.

Ian Bogost: ‘Flash Is Not a Right’ 

Ian Bogost:

But what does it say about the state of programming practice writ large when so many developers believe that their “rights” are trampled because they cannot write programs for a particular device in a particular language? Or that their “freedom” as creators is squelched for the same reason?

I wonder if it doesn’t amount to an indictment of the state of computational literacy.

U.S. Mobile Phone Sales Rankings 

John Paczkowski:

Among mobile phone manufacturers, Samsung narrowly beat out Motorola for the top spot with a fraction of a percent more than the 21.9 percent its rival claimed. LG Electronics ranked second with a 21.8 percent market share and Research in Motion, and Nokia ranked fourth and fifth with dueling 8.3 percent shares.

And where does Apple and its iPhone, which seems to have such mindshare these days, figure in the U.S. mobile OEM market? Andrew Lipsman, senior director of Industry Analysis at comScore, tells me it ranks sixth with a five percent share.

Good luck to Adobe with their antitrust complaint.

The iPad as a Family Computer 

Chuck Hollis, VP and global marketing CTO at EMC:

All the PCs and laptops are basically not being used. All the Macs are not being used. All have been powered off.

Everyone in the family is waiting for their turn at the iPad.

William Shatner’s Stake in 

The Toronto Sun:

Unofficial word on Wall Street is that Shatner, who was initially paid in Priceline shares when he became pitchman for the Internet travel website startup in 1997, is now worth a cool $600 million.


Update 7 May 2010: Shatner says it isn’t so.


Tim Bray, on Google’s Android Developers Blog:

Back to Content Providers. For example, there’s one inside the built-in Messaging (A.K.A. texting or SMS) app that it uses to display and search your history. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you should use it. The Android team isn’t promising that it’ll be the same in the next release or even that it’ll be there in the next release. [...]

So, go ahead and look at the undocumented Content Providers; the code is full of good ideas to learn from. But don’t use them. And if you do, when bad things happen you’re pretty well on your own.

Andy Rubin two weeks ago, in the interview with the New York Times wherein he compared Apple to North Korea:

A lot of guys have private APIs. We don’t.

Tim Bray: ‘HTML5 and the Web’ 


Ben Ward: ‘Understand the Web’ 

Ben Ward:

Perceptions of the web is changing. People are advocating that we treat the web like another application framework. An open, cross-platform, multi-device rival to Flash and Cocoa and everything else. I’m all for making the web richer, and exposing new functionality, but I value what makes the web weblike much, much more.

Brilliant essay. Must-read.

Update: Fireballed. Here’s a plain text version in Google’s cache.

Jason Snell on MLB At Bat 2010 for iPad 

I love this app. I’ll be using it tomorrow night to watch the Yankees beat the Red Sox.

Introduction to Online Payments 

Detailed overview of the state of online payment processing, by Sachin Agarwal.

Buying Stolen Property Is Not Journalism 

The Sun, back in 2008:

A plot to sell intimate stolen photographs of Prince William and his girlfriend Kate Middleton has been smashed — thanks to The Sun. The snaps showed the pair relaxing on a Caribbean hol. We were offered them for £50,000, but alerted cops. One man was arrested and bailed.

The snaps — some of the most personal and intimate pictures ever taken of the couple — were offered to The Sun on a stolen camera flashcard.

Ed Bott on H.264 Licensing Costs 

Ed Bott:

And finally, to answer one question that has come up several times in the comments to my post and in the comments over at the IE Blog: What guarantee do licensees have that MPEG LA won’t raise royalty rates by some outrageous amount when the royalty schedules come up for renewal? The current rates are fixed for five years, till the end of 2015, and are renewed again every five years for the life of the patents. That guarantee appears to be in place already in the Summary of AVC License Terms, which sets out the royalties to be paid for different uses of the technology. Here’s the language:

[F]or the protection of licensees, royalty rates applicable to specific license grants or specific licensed products will not increase by more than ten percent (10%) at each renewal.

That goes a long way toward making me feel more comfortable that the cost of H.264 content is not going to impact you and me in any significant way, even after 2016.

Michel Fortin’s Reconciling Proposal Regarding Section 3.3.1 

Michel Fortin:

I think Apple should just force any such translation layer or interpreter used in an application to be publicly available as open-source. If one such meta-platform ever becomes a problem, it’s easy for Apple to investigate the problem, and they can even release a fixed version themselves. It doesn’t solve all the problems people have with rule 3.3.1, but at least it’s not an outright ban of technology, and it even promotes sharing your building blocks with other developers (a good thing for the platform if you ask me).

I suspect that an open source meta-platform is indeed more palatable to Apple than a proprietary one such as Flash, but I don’t think it fundamentally changes the problems Apple sees with such layers. Apple isn’t going to support such layers itself, open source or not. And while individual developers using such layers could, in theory — in a hypothetical future scenario where the intermediary layer becomes incompatible or incomplete — fix it themselves, that’s not realistic. Developers using something like, say, MonoTouch or Flash to write iPhone apps are not signing up to be responsible for future maintenance of the entire underlying framework they’re building upon. The whole reason they want to use these intermediary meta-platforms is because they think they’re making their jobs easier.

ARM VP: ARM-Based Smartbooks Have Been Delayed by Flash Issues 

Stop the presses — ends up it’s a bad idea to bet your platform on a software dependency outside your control.

How Apple Should Display iPhone App Icons on iPad 

Great idea.

Om Malik: ‘Why Intel Will Be a Mobile Loser’ 

Om Malik on why Intel is in such a weak position in the competitive (and lucrative) mobile CPU market. Smart analysis.

Claim Chowder: ‘Why the iPad Will Fail and Help Windows 7 to Succeed’ 

Mike Halsey, on January 28:

All this will have come about because Apple have done the R&D and released a product that’s been instantly derided as ugly and not what people want.  If I were Steve Ballmer today, I’d be splashing out on an extra skiing holiday.

Mike Halsey, on April 29:

The simple fact is that neither Android nor Windows 7 are finger-friendly tablet-oriented operating systems. Android treats every device it’s on as though it has a big desktop and is, essentially just a computer, and Windows 7 is far from finger-friendly.

Apple’s iPad has proven what you should do to make a tablet device friendly and Microsoft’s own Courier concept device has been widely hailed as the way these devices really should be.

Courier, of course, was publicly canceled by Microsoft later that day.

Scribd Switching From Flash to HTML5 

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch:

Scribd co-founder and chief technology officer Jared Friedman tells me: “We are scrapping three years of Flash development and betting the company on HTML5 because we believe HTML5 is a dramatically better reading experience than Flash. Now any document can become a Web page.”

New Features in iPhone OS 4.0 Beta 3 

iPad-style file sharing through iTunes, and media playback controls in the app-switching strip.

DF RSS Feed Sponsorship Openings 

A heads-up to anyone considering sponsoring the DF RSS feed: July is almost sold out, but August remains wide open. If you have a product or service you’d like to promote to the smart, good-looking, affluent DF audience, get in touch.

Mac Rumors: Next iPhone to Record 1280 × 720 HD Video? 

Mobile phones are obviating the Flip class of pocket video cameras.

Google Redesigns Search Results Page 

Looks good, including the cleaned-up, brightened Google logo. Update: They redesigned their mobile search results interface, too.

Adobe Shows Prototype Android Tablets Running Flash and AIR at Web 2.0 Expo 

I especially like this video, showing the Android browser playing YouTube videos using Flash, where the guy narrating the video says “Good thing I didn’t buy an iPad, because this one does Flash”, and at that moment, the browser crashes.

Sure would be great if iPads could play YouTube video, though.

Second IE9 Platform Preview 

Microsoft is taking HTML5 seriously, and they’re competing for real to make IE9 a good, modern browser. This is good news.

‘iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual’, by Craig Hockenberry 

Speaking of new books, Craig Hockenberry’s iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual is out. Hockenberry describes it thus:

In short, there’s more to learn than just how to code, so I wrote about it.

Of course, I cover topics like Objective-C and Cocoa Touch in detail, but that’s not the overall focus. As the header on this website states: This book walks you through the entire iPhone app development process from start to finish.

Announcing A Book Apart 

Speaking of that new publisher, here’s Jason Santa Maria on the debut of A Book Apart:

I’m very pleased to present A Book Apart, a new publisher of brief books for people who make websites, founded by Jeffrey Zeldman, Mandy Brown, and myself.

Great design work.

‘HTML5 for Web Designers’, by Jeremy Keith 

New book from a new publisher:

The HTML5 spec is 900 pages and hard to read. HTML5 for Web Designers is 85 pages and fun to read. Easy choice.

Ships in June, pre-orders available now for $18. I’ve got a PDF preview version of it, and it’s terrific — well-written, smart, and gorgeously designed.

Washington Post Co. to Sell Newsweek 

Newsweek reports:

The Washington Post Co. announced today that it has retained Allen & Company to explore the possible sale of Newsweek magazine. The Newsweekly was launched in 1933 and purchased by The Washington Post Co. in 1961. 

“The losses at Newsweek in 2007-2009 are a matter of record.  Despite heroic efforts on the part of Newsweek’s management and staff, we expect it to still lose money in 2010.  We are exploring all options to fix that problem,” said Donald E. Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co.

Ellen DeGeneres Apologizes for Mock iPhone Commercial 

Whoever at Apple complained about this needs to relax. It’s a funny spoof.

Update: Think of it this way. It says something about the iPhone’s brand strength and consumer awareness that Ellen could even make this spoof and that her audience got it. Would Apple prefer that she’d made the spoof about an Android phone instead? I don’t think she could have, not today, because Android doesn’t have the iPhone’s mainstream consumer awareness. BlackBerry does, but the joke was about touchscreens. This is the sort of thing Apple should be happy about.

Stuart Green on Gizmodo and the iPhone Prototype 

Stuart Green, in an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor:

So what explains this apparent sympathy for Hogan and Chen, and hostility toward Apple and the San Mateo police? One possibility is a basic confusion about the fact that finding and failing to return lost property is a crime, a confusion that may be a vestige of the common, but legally mistaken, schoolyard adage, “finders keepers, losers weepers.”

You will be very surprised to know that I agree with him.

Robert Reich: ‘Apple Isn’t the Problem; Wall Street’s Big Banks Are the Problem’ 

Robert Reich:

Why is the Federal Trade Commission threatening Apple with a possible lawsuit for abusing its economic power, but not even raising an eyebrow about the huge and growing economic (and political) muscle of JP Morgan Chase or any of the other four remaining giant banks on Wall Street?

You will be very surprised to know that I agree with him.

Engadget Reviews the Microsoft Kin One and Two 

Joshua Topolsky:

While using the One and Two we found ourselves consistently confused or surprised by how many bad little interface problems there are. Not only does the phone make it hard to do simple tasks — and not only are the social networking features poorly implemented — but the handsets are often sluggish, hiccupy, and downright crash-prone.

Why do these products even exist?

The LA Times on the Disneyland Maintenance Crew 

Walt Disney:

“When I started on Disneyland, my wife used to say, ‘But why do you want to build an amusement park? They’re so dirty.’ I told her that was just the point; mine wouldn’t be.”

The pursuit of perfection. (Thanks to DF reader Austin Brown.)

Bloomberg: Adobe Complained to Feds 


U.S. antitrust enforcers are considering an investigation of Apple Inc. following a complaint from Adobe Systems Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Adobe says Apple is stifling competition by barring developers from using Adobe’s products to create applications for iPhones and iPads, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss the case.

Surprise, surprise.

‘H.264, Patent Licensing, and You’ 

Great piece by Nilay Patel at Engadget on the licensing and patent issues surrounding H.264.

Google Voice Web App for iPhone and Palm WebOS 

Cross-platform mobile development, no App Store in sight.

Top 10 Luxury Brands’ Sites Fail to Work on iPad 


Out of the top 10 luxury brands ranked by Forbes in 2009, none of their websites worked sufficiently to match their desktop-web-experience. [...] The key issue is that all the key luxury brands have designed their sites to use Adobe’s Flash.

(Via Kottke, who points out that this reflects poorly on these brands, not on the iPad.)

‘Interesting Work for Interesting People’ 

Max Chafkin profiles Tim O’Reilly for Inc.:

“This is a lifestyle business that got out of control,” O’Reilly said when we first met. O’Reilly is 55 and has a craggy, weatherworn face, and he speaks with the warm self-confidence of someone who knows a lot more than you do but is happy to share. “My original business model — I actually wrote this down — was ‘interesting work for interesting people.’”


O’Reilly says he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he had raised venture capital and given his company a chance to get really big. But he sounds more amused by this question than truly troubled by it. “Money is like gasoline during a road trip,” he says. “You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.”

(Via Liz Danzico.)

Pedal to the Chrome Metal 

New faster beta release of Google Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Don’t miss the speed test video.

Hey Bill Gates, 1999 Called and They Want Their Stylus Back 

Bill Gates:

“Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we’re pursuing. We think that work with the pen that Microsoft pioneered will become a mainstream for students. It can give you a device that you can not only read, but also create documents at the same time.”

Steve Jobs:

“If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

‘But Still’ 

Republicans vs. the Bill of Rights. John McCain:

It would have been a serious mistake to have read the suspect in the attempted Times Square car bombing his Miranda rights, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.):

“Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still,” King said.

Don’t forget “independent” Joe Lieberman.

Michael Malone Cites the Supreme Court’s Landmark Finders v. Keepers Decision 

Michael Malone, in an opinion piece for ABC News, says the Gizmodo/iPhone prototype story shows that “journalism has lost much of its muscle”:

A couple weeks ago, Jason Chen, an editor/blogger at the tech site Gizmodo (part of the large gossip blog family Gawker Media) found himself in possession of a prototype of the new Apple G4 iPhone and proceeded to post photos of it on the site. As you can imagine, all hell broke loose as the Web buzzed with speculation about the source of the images, whether the device was stolen, and whether it really was Apple’s newest super-product.

What we now know is that the device was indeed a G4 iPhone, not scheduled for formal introduction for weeks hence; and that it wasn’t stolen, but accidentally left by an Apple employee in a Silicon Valley beer garden. Whoever found it was knowledgeable enough to know what it was — and proceeded to sell it to Gawker for a purported $5,000.

There’s a whole swath of criticism regarding Apple’s decision to report the incident to law enforcement, and law enforcement’s decision to break down the door to Jason Chen’s home and confiscate his computers, that goes along the lines of Malone’s argument above. (Cf. Jon Stewart’s segment on The Daily Show last week.)

To wit: Ignoring that the phone was stolen. California criminal law could not be more clear: the finder of a lost item must either return it to the owner or hand it over to the police; to do anything else is theft. “Finder keepers, losers weepers” is not the law. You don’t have to break into someone’s house or pickpocket them to steal a phone. If you pick up a lost phone and treat it as your own, you’ve stolen it.

Jason Chen did not “find himself in possession” of a prototype iPhone. Jason Chen and Gizmodo bought a prototype iPhone from someone who they knew had stolen it. At least Jon Stewart’s take was funny.

Paul Thurrott on What Microsoft Can Learn From the iPad 

Advice to Microsoft from Paul Thurrott:

And if you’re looking to copy Apple’s success — and you are — then at least do it right. It’s not about the products at all. What Apple does right is marketing. It’s form over function, plain and simple. How else could the world be so excited over an unnecessary over-sized iPod touch? Because it’s from Apple, that’s how. And the press markets it for them, and makes people believe that this is somehow a big deal. It’s a self-replicating back-patting, buddy system, plain and simple.

Needless to say, I think he’s got it all wrong — that the iPad’s success is all about the quality, design, and price (remember, in January, most people expected Apple’s tablet to start at $999) — of the product itself. Their marketing for it, just like that of the iPhone, is simply about showing people what it does and how it works. Someone who doesn’t see the profound appeal of the iPad, though, is bound to disagree with my assessment.

And you’re not part of the circle, Microsoft. How else can you explain the ginormous Windows 7 sales that get no attention, and certainly no love from Wall Street? You’ve sold over 100 million licenses of this thing in record time and all anyone can talk about are lost iPhones and the iPad. I mean, give me a break.

The way Wall Street works is fairly simple — albeit, not always reasonable or fair. What drives stock prices forward are new endeavors. Stock prices rise when investors predict fantastic growth ahead. Windows 7 has indeed been a grand success for Microsoft. I’ll bet Office 2010 will be too. But these are the same two grand successes Microsoft has had for 20 years. Windows and Office, over and over. Their stock has been stagnant for a decade because their growth into new markets has been stagnant for a decade.

Apple’s stock is rising because Apple seems poised to capture a new market.

A Good Problem to Have 

Terrific piece by Mike Davidson on Apple’s position in the market:

Until people either start abandoning their products because of this or they do the opposite and adopt their products at a rate which creates a monopoly, they will continue operating at their current clip: high innovation, high profits, and high control. [...]

If you don’t want to contribute to their success because their behavior is distasteful to you, then don’t; but don’t forget how fortunate we are to have such a ruthlessly innovative company at the helm of the ship at this point in time.

A must-read.

Another Microsoft Employee Defects to Google 

Brad Abrams, until last month a product manager at Microsoft for the .NET Framework and Silverlight, is going to Google. Am I missing the reports of Googlers defecting to Microsoft, or am I right that this is a “rats leaving a sinking ship” one-way scenario?

Stephen Shankland: ‘Is H.264 a Legal Minefield for Video Pros?’ 

Spoiler: No.

MarsEdit 3.0 

I’m using it to write these very words.

Reuters: ‘Regulators Mull Antitrust Look at Apple’ 


Apple said allowing third-party tools would result in “sub-standard” apps. But critics say the company is abusing its position.

“For us and the whole developers community, it really locks us into a single platform,” said Michael Chang, chief executive of mobile ad network Greystripe, of Apple’s rules.

Chang said a basic iPhone app might cost $75,000 to build on Flash, and a few thousand dollars more to convert it to work on Google Inc’s Android mobile platform. But with the new restrictions, a developer must spend another $75,000 to build the app from the ground up for a non-Apple platform.

This guy isn’t a federal regulator, but he seems to be arguing that he has a right to use Flash, or at least some sort of cross-platform solution, to develop for iPhone OS. Why not write web apps, then?

One developer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Apple’s new app development rules were just “incredibly broad. The fact that you can’t use any other tools to build your app is just ridiculous.”

But he acknowledged that apps built using Apple’s tool look and run better than those built with third-party technology.

So the new terms are “ridiculous”, unless you’re concerned about how apps look and run.

WSJ: ‘Apple Draws Scrutiny From Regulators’ 

No more grains of salt; now the WSJ is echoing the New York Post’s report from yesterday:

U.S. antitrust enforcers are taking a keen interest in recent changes that Apple Inc. made to its licensing agreement with iPhone application developers and are likely to open a preliminary investigation into whether the company’s actions stifle competition in mobile devices, according to people familiar with the situation.

Could be more about mobile advertising than Section 3.3.1, though:

Apple’s new language forbidding apps from transmitting analytical data could prevent ad networks from being able to effectively target ads, potentially giving Apple’s new iAd mobile-advertising service an edge, executives at ad networks say.

One wireless-advertising executive said he was contacted a few weeks ago by an official from the FTC who wanted to talk about how the mobile-ad industry works, the Apple developer agreement and how it could affect the executive’s business.

But what if iAds itself also follows the new stricter privacy terms?

Exploded Pad T-Shirt 

A sequel to the great Exploded Phone t-shirt.

MacRuby: The Definitive Guide 

Speaking of MacRuby, the first few chapters of Matt Aimonetti’s in-progress book about it are available for free online.

MacRuby 0.6 

Laurent Sansonetti:

Since 0.5’s release, we have worked closely with a number of early-adopter developers in finding and fixing a great number of bugs, as well as improving the overall process of creating Cocoa apps in MacRuby. We believe that MacRuby is now stable enough to permit the creation of complete and functional Cocoa applications that have access to the full suite of Cocoa APIs.

If the TSA Were Running New York 

James Fallows:

All vans or SUVs headed into Midtown Manhattan would have to stop and have their contents inspected. If any vehicle seemed for any reason to have escaped inspection, Midtown in its entirety would be evacuated.


The point of terrorism is not to “destroy.” It is to terrify. And for eight and a half years now, the dominant federal government response to terrorist threats and attacks has been to magnify their harm by increasing a mood of fear and intimidation.

iPad Case Finder 

Comprehensive listing of iPad cases and carrying bags.

Fraser Speirs Is Back In 

Fraser Speirs:

iPhone OS is the first mass-market operating system where consumers are no longer afraid to install software on their computers (I’m not counting read-only media software platforms like games consoles here). In a conversation recently, a friend recounted a scene that he passed by in an airport. Four fifty-something women were sitting at a cafe table discussing the latest apps they had downloaded on their iPod touches. New software can’t break your iPhone OS device and, if you don’t like it, total removal is only a couple of taps away.

Why not count the game consoles, though? That’s the best way to think of iPhone OS devices: app consoles.

Very Personal Computing 

Jean-Louis Gassée:

The center of financial gravity in the computing world—the Center of Money—has shifted. No longer directed at the PC, the money pump now gushes full blast at the smartphones market.

He backs this up with a striking financial comparison: Apple makes six times the profit from iPhone OS device sales than HP makes from PC sales — despite the fact that by unit sales, HP is the world’s leading PC maker, and Apple is not the leading smartphone maker.

HP’s purchase of Palm shows that they understand this opportunity.

Follow Up on HTML5 Video in IE9 

Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch:

Several comments speculated about Microsoft’s financial interest in the codec. (Microsoft participates in MPEG-LA with many other companies.) Microsoft pays into MPEG-LA about twice as much as it receives back for rights to H.264. Much of what Microsoft pays in royalties is so that people who buy Windows (on a new PC from an OEM or as a packaged product) can just play H.264 video or DVD movies. Microsoft receives back from MPEG-LA less than half the amount for the patent rights that it contributes because there are many other companies that provide the licensed functionality in content and products that sell in high volume. Microsoft pledged its patent rights to this neutral organization in order to make its rights broadly available under clear terms, not because it thought this might be a good revenue stream. We do not foresee this patent pool ever producing a material revenue stream, and revenue plays no part in our decision here. 

Michael Gartenberg on the iPad’s Early Success 

Michael Gartenberg:

The reason Apple was successful was they optimized for the form factor. Sure, iPad looks a lot like a large iPod touch but in practice it’s much more than that. Vendors building on Windows 7 need to think how that will play in the market. Windows, like OS X, for better or for worse was designed for large screens, mice and keyboards. Likewise, Android in current format works best for phones. It will be interesting what Google has to say about tablets at I/O.

Specifically, I’ve been wondering whether Google’s answer for tablets is going to be Android or Chrome OS. (My guess: “Both!” — which would not be good.)

Ed Bott on the FSF’s Campaign for Ogg 

Ed Bott:

Microsoft began using the MP3 format in Windows Media Player in 1998. Alcatel-Lucent filed its lawsuit in 2000. The FSF says “they would have been safe” if they had chosen Ogg Vorbis. That overlooks the inconvenient fact that the first stable version of the Ogg Vorbis reference software (version 1.0) was not released until July 2002. It’s hard to imagine how Microsoft could have chosen the “safe” open-source option when it didn’t exist yet. Reports H.264 Is Now Used to Encode 66 Percent of Web Videos 

Keep in mind that H.264 is an encoding format, not a video player, and that the most popular player for H.264-encoded video is Flash. But, once your video is encoded using H.264, it’s a lot easier to use HTML5 video as an alternative to Flash for the player.

Communal Computing 

Craig Hockenberry on the need for something like a guest account on the iPad.

Twitter Launches Official Android Client 

Interesting that it doesn’t look anything at all like Tweetie — the official Twitter clients for iPhone and Android thus don’t look anything alike. (Unless they plan to remake Tweetie to look like this Android app, which would only happen over Loren Brichter’s dead body.)

Also interesting: the Android app requires OS 2.1, which, according to Google’s own numbers, is only installed on 27 percent of actively-used Android handsets.

Google Acquires BumpTop 

Interesting; over-the-top UI gimmickry seems un-Google-like. Here’s what I wrote when BumpTop for Mac shipped.

Night and Day 

Apple has already sold 1 million iPads. A decade ago, during the entire five-year lifespan of the Newton, they sold a grand total of 200,000 units.

Peter Hartlaub on ‘Toy Story 3’ Director Lee Unkrich 

Nice profile:

“When I was around 12 or so, I saw ‘The Shining,’ ” he remembers. “I just remember that being a turning point for me, where I started to think about the fact that there was a hand behind the film. That it wasn’t just this magical story being told — there were actual people crafting these films, and they were works of art. ... I started to become fascinated with making movies.”

iPhone OS 4.0b2 SDK Breaks File Sharing With iPad 

I noticed a few days ago that the file sharing feature between iTunes and my iPad was no longer working. When I tether my iPad to my Mac via USB, I can neither add files from my Mac to iPad apps nor see any of the files already on my iPad. Ends up this is a bug in the iPhone OS 4.0b2 SDK. For more information, see this thread on Apple’s developer program forum.

(I’m just going to wait until beta 3 arrives.)

Who Drinks? 

Interesting demographics on alcohol consumption — including a very strong correlation between those who drink and those who score well on the Wordsum vocabulary test.

New York Post Reports Apple May Face Antitrust Inquiry 

Josh Kosman, reporting for The New York Post:

According to a person familiar with the matter, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple’s programming tools.

Regulators, this person said, are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry. It will focus on whether the policy, which took effect last month, kills competition by forcing programmers to choose between developing apps that can run only on Apple gizmos or come up with apps that are platform neutral, and can be used on a variety of operating systems, such as those from rivals Google, Microsoft and Research In Motion.

It’s the Post, so take it with a grain of salt and file it under “Claim Chowder” for now.

Apple Sells One Millionth iPad 

Apple PR:

Apple today announced that it sold its one millionth iPad™ on Friday, just 28 days after its introduction on April 3. iPad users have already downloaded over 12 million apps from the App Store and over 1.5 million ebooks from the new iBookstore. 

“One million iPads in 28 days — that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Demand continues to exceed supply and we’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.”

User Interface of the Week: STAT E&M Coder 

It’s the pleather background that seals the deal.

Freedom From Relevance 

John Sullivan of the Free Software Foundation, responding to Steve Jobs’s “Thoughts on Flash”:

H.264, despite Jobs’s claim, is not a free standard — patents necessary to implement it are held by a group that requires all users to agree to a license with restrictive terms.

Jobs never said H.264 was a “free” standard. He said it was an open standard. Not all open standards are free.

Sullivan is more or less arguing the FSF party line, that both Apple and Adobe are unethical because both are promoting things that aren’t free-as-in-freedom. That’s great. So what mobile phone should an FSF devotee buy? Good luck with that.

How Tracked the iPhone Finder 

Brian X. Chen:

And so the hunt for clues began — a week after Gizmodo broke its story. By then, Hogan had deleted his Facebook profile, and presumably every other social networking profile he owned, in an effort to hide. That made the search difficult, but his attempt to disappear was already a major clue that he was in trouble.

iLounge on iPad 3G Battery Life 

They got over eight hours of battery life while reloading a large web page over 3G every 60 seconds.

Ins and Outs of the 3G iPad AT&T Service Plans 

Glenn Fleishman on the iPad’s 3G networking setup and use.

Mark Bernstein: ‘Platform Control’ 



My thanks to Cocoa Box Design for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote Penultimate — their stylish, powerful, and easy-to-use sketching and notes app for the iPad. It’s like writing with a nice pen in a paper notebook. Each “notebook” can have as many pages as you want, and you can create as many notebooks as you need.

Currently on sale on the App Store for just $2.99. It’s a lot of fun, and gorgeously designed. If you just got a new iPad 3G, check it out. (And if you don’t have an iPad yet, check out Cocoa Box Design’s iPhone doodling app, Handwriting.)

iFixit’s iPad 3G Teardown 

You knew this was coming.