Linked List: November 29, 2011

David Foster Wallace’s Syllabus 

“If you are used to whipping off papers the night before they’re due, running them quickly through the computer’s Spellchecker, handing them in full of high-school errors and sentences that make no sense and having the professor accept them ‘because the ideas are good’ or something, please be informed that I draw no distinction between the quality of one’s ideas and the quality of those ideas’ verbal expression, and I will not accept sloppy, rough-draftish, or semiliterate college writing. Again, I am absolutely not kidding.”

That’s from one of Wallace’s syllabuses. Katie Roiphe, writing for Slate:

Of course, this is not the part of teaching that most people pour their hearts into. It’s just a syllabus! Wallace is bringing to the endeavor rigorous Salingerish standards of not lying, or not being phony, that would reproach other more ordinary people if these standards did not border on parody, and were not expressed in such a good natured and honorable way.

Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t accept dogma. Look for ways that you might be wrong, don’t look for ways to prove you’re right. Think. Express your thoughts with as much precision and care as you can muster.

That’s why Wallace’s work serves as a beacon, a yardstick, for my own.

Roger Black on How Crappy Advertising Is Destroying the Web 

Roger Black:

Problem two is the look and feel of advertising. Web publishers have fallen into the Gresham’s Law of the Web: Crappy advertising drives out the well-designed.

What we have now is the ugliest advertising in the history of the media. I used to say that web sites looked like the walls of a third-world futbol stadium, but that was unfair to the stadiums. Most content sites look so bad they actually repel readers rather than attract them.

Regarding TheNextWeb’s Shit-Ass Website 

Joshua Cody tweets:

Need a warning when @gruber links to @thenextweb — 452 HTTP requests, 3.12MB, 1 minute to load, repeated Badgeville (what?!) errors.

Funny, I actually hesitated before linking to Matthew Panzarino’s Lumia review at TheNextWeb, because I dislike their website. It’s a good review, but I hate reading stuff on TheNextWeb. Even scrolling feels janky. But Cody’s numbers seem ridiculous. Why in the world would a web page require 452 HTTP requests and over 3 MB?

But lo, I measured a few of their articles using Safari’s web inspector, and Cody wasn’t exaggerating. One article at TheNextWeb weighed in at over 6 MB and required 342 HTTP requests. 73 different JavaScript scripts alone. Absurd. I did a reload on the same page a few minutes later and it was up to 368 HTTP requests but weighed “only” 1.99 MB.

Compare that with The Verge, a site in the same design genre as TheNextWeb — comments, like buttons, multiple ads per page, etc. Typical articles at The Verge take about 110 HTTP requests, and weigh about 500 KB. That’s heavy compared to, say, Daring Fireball, but in my opinion quite reasonable given The Verge’s design.

How long it takes to load the page is part of the reading experience. Bandwidth is not free, and not universally fast. People are using 3G for chrissakes. If every article on the web weighed 3 MB, you’d eat through a 2 GB data cap by reading only 20 articles a day. Not watching video — just reading.

Million Unit Week for Xbox 360 


Entering the seventh year of its lifecycle, Xbox 360 just closed the biggest sales week in the history of the hit digital entertainment system, selling more than 960,000 consoles in the U.S. during the week of Black Friday.

750,000 Kinect sensors sold, too. Amazing how popular a closed system — where the hardware and software are designed by a single company — can be.

Jeff Carlson on Lion’s Duplicate Command 

Jeff Carlson, last month:

And I will admit that, when working within a document, duplicating and then saving it later does make some conceptual sense. But why the delay between creating the duplicate and saving it to disk? Why doesn’t choosing Duplicate open the new window and automatically, quickly, let you choose how to save the document?

I think it’s because picking a file name and choosing a location in your folder hierarchy are chores. Better to let you procrastinate on these things than to force you to deal with them immediately — that’s my guess as to Apple’s thinking on this. In the pre-Auto Save world, it was dangerous to work on an as-yet-unsaved document, because a crash would destroy whatever work you’d done. That’s not a problem with Auto Save.

Matthew Panzarino Reviews the Nokia Lumia 800 

Matthew Panzarino:

This device’s brilliance isn’t limited to the hardware either. Windows Phone Mango is really, really good. Nearly nothing about Microsoft’s OS works anything like iOS, while still feeling very fresh and accessible. It’s exactly the opposite of the way that Android normally feels, which is an uglier and slower version of iOS.

He really likes it, and says he’d switch from his iPhone if not for the dearth of high-quality third-party apps.

Noted for Future Claim Chowder 

Leonid Kanopka says “the Apple bubble is ready to burst”:

Apple is a great company with wonderful products, but its run is up. It seems to me that innovation is beginning to run dry, and the stock price is overinflated. The stock has begun to fall already dropping from its $426 high. If the economy does not pick up and the company does not cushion its freefall [sic], we could see new lows into 2012 — maybe $85.

Apple Pulls iTether From App Store 

Their website is down at the moment. Looks like it was only in the store for a few hours.

A Hack to Get Back ‘Save As’ 

Shawn Blanc:

A common workflow for me was to open a previously saved document and use it as my template for a new document. I would make changes to it and then save it as a new document. To Save As meant you took the document you were working on and saved it as a new document in its current state while discarding those changes from the original and leaving that original document as it was. I used Save As all the time.

But in Lion, the ability to Save As is gone. Sadly, Command+Shift+S gets you nothing.

In place of “Save As”, we now have “Duplicate”.

His solution is a Keyboard Maestro macro that replicates the behavior of Save As. I’ve been irritated by the new Duplicate thing, but I can’t tell if it’s because I actually prefer the old Save As workflow or simply that the new Duplicate workflow is going to take some time to get used to. I suspect it’s the latter, so I’m sticking with it for now.

Update: Good point from David Chartier: perhaps the biggest problem with Duplicate is that Apple didn’t give it a standard keyboard shortcut. I’m going to assign Duplicate the old Shift-Command-S shortcut, and see if that helps.

Last Call for Daring Fireball T-Shirts 

Today’s the last day I’m taking orders for this round of DF t-shirts. We only do print runs large enough to fulfill the orders placed in advance, so, as they say on TV, act now.

My thanks to everyone who’s already ordered. Sounds corny, but it means the world to me when readers directly support Daring Fireball.