Linked List: December 2, 2011


My thanks to DaisyDisk for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed. DaisyDisk is a terrific utility for the Mac. It presents you with a graphical overview of your hard disks, allowing you to easily see what they’re filled with. When you’re low on disk space, DaisyDisk is a great way to find large files that you no longer need.

DaisyDisk is fast, easy-to-use, and looks fantastic. Right now it’s on sale in the Mac App Store for just $9.99 — 50 percent off its regular price.

Facebook Acquires Gowalla 

So will Foursquare remain independent, or will someone buy them, too?

Related: How to delete your Gowalla account.

Coming Soon to a Trash Dump Near You 

One million BlackBerry PlayBooks.

Security Researchers Back Carrier IQ 

Interesting report by David Sarno, writing for the LA Times:

But security researchers have disagreed with conclusions drawn from Eckhart’s analysis.

“It’s not true,” said Dan Rosenberg, a senior consultant at Virtual Security Research, who said the video shows only diagnostic information and at no point provides evidence the data is stored or sent back to Carrier IQ. […]

Instead, the readouts on Eckhart’s video that occur when he presses keys are “debugging messages” — informational feedback meant to help smartphone programmers verify that their applications are working correctly. In this case, Carrier IQ’s developers appear to have set up the program to display a diagnostic message when a key is pressed or when a text message is sent.

My question, after reading this: Do other apps on the device have read access to these debugging logs? Can App A read the keystrokes you typed in App B, because behind the scenes Carrier IQ’s daemon was logging those key presses?

Why Siri Can’t Find Abortion Clinics and How It’s Not an Apple Conspiracy 

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch:

“I’m standing in front of a Planned Parenthood,” the CNN reporter says, “And Siri can’t find it when I search for abortion clinic.” No, it can’t. It’s not because Apple is pro-life. It’s because Planned Parenthood doesn’t call itself an abortion clinic.

Europe Set to Accuse Google of ‘Abuse of Dominance’ 

Zack Whittaker:

The European Commission opened a formal investigation into allegations that the search giant abused its position as the leader of the online search market, by unlawfully favouring its own services over that of rival companies.

Should Google be found to be flouting European antitrust laws, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its annual turnover — thought to be in the region of $3 billion (€2.24 bn).

Thomas Q. Brady on Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’ 

Thomas Q. Brady’s criticism of Isaacson’s biography is spot-on:

When I say “analysis,” I’m not talking about psychology. There’s plenty of that. Isaacson seems to enjoy pointing out that Jobs never really overcame the pain of knowing that his parents gave him up for adoption. But all Isaacson’s armchair, Psychology Today thinking rendered from the source materials was a self-absorbed, immature, emotionally unstable control-freak.

There are two reasons that’s a complete shame.

  1. We already knew that about Steve Jobs.
  2. I know lots of people that could be described that way (we seem to have been breeding them in the US over the last couple (few?) decades), and none of them started a company in their garage that became one of the most valued corporations in the world.

What made Jobs different? This isn’t really answered.

Isaacson got the self-absorbed hypocritical asshole right, but the world is full of self-absorbed hypocritical assholes.

Justice Department Approves Google’s AdMeld Acquisition 

Jia Lynn Yang, reporting for The Washington Post:

The Justice Department on Friday gave the green light to Google’s $400 million acquisition of AdMeld, a major display advertising company.

The agency said the deal can proceed without any conditions, because a detailed analysis by antitrust lawyers found there are enough competitors that offer services similar to AdMeld, a company that helps online publishers sell their ads.

That’s a relief. I was getting nervous that Google was running out of ways to sell advertising.


Tim Bray, on the problem with paging down to the bottom of a web page. I’ve been bothered by this same thing since forever. (Maybe on Safari the solution would be to bounce the web page, showing the linen texture “under” the page — the same thing you see when you scroll past the end of the page using trackpad gestures.)

Update: DF reader Frank Kohlhepp put together a Safari extension that simply adds a screenful of whitespace to the bottom of every page. Not bad for a quick hack, and indeed it solves the problem Bray describes. But there’s a cost: with this extension, the scrollbar thumb is no longer an accurate indicator of content length, particularly with short web pages. Maybe that doesn’t matter, though? Scrollbars aren’t even persistently visible on Lion if you’re using a trackpad. I’m going to try using this.

RIM to Take $485 Million Bath on Unsold PlayBooks 


Research In Motion Limited (RIM), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that it would record a pre-tax provision in the third quarter of fiscal 2012 of approximately $485 million, $360 million after tax, related to its inventory valuation of BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. […]

As previously disclosed, RIM has a high level of BlackBerry PlayBook inventory. The Company now believes that an increase in promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers.

Translation: We made a lot of these things and we can’t sell them.

Microsoft to Drop Traditional Desktop From Windows 8 ARM Tablets? 

Mary Jo Foley:

Back in September, there was controversy as to whether Microsoft planned to allow “Desktop” (non-Metro) apps to run on Windows 8 ARM-based tablets. But I was told they would, and, indeed, the Softies and partners showed off the Desktop app on ARM tablets at the Build conference.

However, if my Windows Weekly co-host Paul Thurrott is right, Microsoft has rethought that plan and is leaning toward cutting the Desktop from Windows 8 ARM tablets. That would mean only Metro-style apps would be supported on that platform. (Thurrott just dropped that bomb while we were taping Windows Weekly on December 1.)

My theory from September is looking pretty good.

If Microsoft does do away with the Desktop App on ARM, it also would mean — unless Microsoft also changes its strategy for x86/x64-based Windows 8 tablets — that Windows 8 will be different on different hardware.

As I wrote back in September, though, that was always going to be the case, because ARM-based Windows 8 machines were never going to be able to run already-compiled x86 binaries. The only question was whether Windows 8 ARM machines would be different because they could only run compiled-for-ARM software (Desktop and Metro), or whether they’d be different because they could only run Metro software. Either way they must be different somehow.